July 2012

He Was One of Our Best-Known Writers. Controversial Novelist, Playwright, Screenwriter, TV Writer and Commentator Gore Vidal Dead at 86

Gore Vidal, 86, "died Tuesday [night] at his home in the Hollywood Hills of complications of pneumonia, said [Vidal's] nephew Burr Steers," reports the Los Angeles Times.

In Vidal's obituary by Tina Fineberg of the Associated Press, she writes, "Along with such contemporaries as Norman Mailer and Truman Capote, Vidal was among the last generation of literary writers who were also genuine celebrities -- fixtures on talk shows and in gossip columns, personalities of such size and appeal that even those who hadn't read their books knew who they were.

"His works included hundreds of essays; the best-selling novels 'Lincoln' and 'Myra Breckenridge'; the groundbreaking 'The City and the Pillar,' among the first novels about openly gay characters; and the Tony-nominated play 'The Best Man,' revived on Broadway in 2012."

Reuters writes, "His most famous literary enemies were conservative pundit William F. Buckley Jr. and writer Norman Mailer, who Vidal once likened to cult killer Charles Manson.

"Mailer head-butted Vidal before a television appearance [on the 'Dick Cavett Show'] and on another occasion knocked him to the ground.

"Vidal and Buckley took their feud to live national television while serving as commentators at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Vidal accused Buckley of being a 'pro-crypto-Nazi' while Buckley called Vidal a 'queer' and threatened to punch him."

One of Vidal's most famous works for TV was a play for the "Goodyear Television Playhouse" in 1955 called "Visit to a Small Planet." Vidal later adapted it for Broadway and then for Hollywood as a movie starring Jerry Lewis.

Vidal began writing for TV in 1954 with "Dark Possession," a "Studio One" drama starring Geraldine Fitzgerald. CBS's "Studio One" was a drama anthology -- a different drama was presented every week.

In the 2008 boxed set of a collection of "Studio One" episodes put out by Koch Entertainment Vidal says, " 'Dark Possession' was the first play I ever wrote and this was during the dark days when The New York Times decided in its wisdom not to review any novel by me starting with 'The City and the Pillar,' which had given offense to them.  [TVWeek note: The Times started its policy of ignoring Vidal because it was offended by the frank depiction of homosexuality in 'The City and the Pillar.'] In those days I had a wonderful agent called Harold Franklin who asked me if I would write plays for television. I said, 'I think I'd better watch one first, don't you?' "

The Reuters story adds that Vidal "once described the United States as 'the land of the dull and the home of the literal' and starting in the 1960s lived much of the time in a seaside Italian villa [near the town of Ravello on the picturesque Amalfi Coast]. He moved back [to the United States] permanently in 2003, shortly before Howard Austen, his companion of more than 50 years, died of cancer."

Here's a clip from the famous Vidal and Mailer confrontation on the "Dick Cavett Show." It was taped on Dec. 15, 1971. The woman is Janet Flanner, the late Paris correspondent of the New Yorker.

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ABC's Reality Lineup Crushed Under the Weight of NBC's Olympics

NBC’s ratings juggernaut Olympics coverage continued to crush the competition in prime time Monday night, with most of the broadcast competition staying out of it by airing repeat programming.

The few rival broadcast nets who did try out fresh programming -- mainly ABC -- paid a price, according to Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that ABC put up fresh episodes of its reality shows “Bachelor Pad” and “The Glass House” while CBS aired a new installment of “Two and a Half Men.” The best any of them could do was a 1.1 average rating in the key 18-49 demo.

Meanwhile, NBC rolled along with a 10.5 average for prime time in viewers 18-49, and 31.43 million total viewers. The 10.5 was up from a 10.3 preliminary number for the equivalent night of the Beijing Olympics four years ago.

ABC’s lineup was hit hard: The net’s two-hour “Bachelor Pad” scored a 1.1 in the 18-49 demo, down 27% from a week ago. The new reality show “The Glass House” continued its rough start with a 0.6, a series low.

CBS was all reruns except that episode of “Two and a Half Men,” which had to settle for a 1.1 in 18-49. Fox aired all repeats.

For prime time overall, the lopsided numbers show NBC on top in the 18-49 demo with a 10.5 average, followed by Univision with a 1.3, Fox with a 1.1, CBS with a 1.0 and ABC with a 0.9. In total viewers it was NBC with 31.4 million, then CBS (3.8 million), Univision (3.6 million), ABC (2.9 million) and Fox (2.9 million).

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Cuba Gooding Jr. Sought by Authorities

Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. is reportedly wanted for arrest in New Orleans on a warrant stemming from a bar incident early today, according to E! Online.

Gooding is accused of pushing around a bartender in a confrontation in the French Quarter.

“Per the New Orleans Police Department, the incident took place at Old Absinthe House on Bourbon Street at about 3 a.m. and involved a female bartender,” the story reports. “Gooding entered the bar with a group of friends, and after a few minutes, other patrons recognized him and asked him to take photos with them, at which point he became aggravated, police say.

“The bartender approached him and asked him to calm down and that's when the 44-year-old thesp allegedly shoved her. As one of her coworkers called 911, Gooding and pals decided to leave -- but not before allegedly pushing the bartender again on his way out.”

Gooding is reportedly wanted for municipal battery. He’s in New Orleans to work on the movie “The Butler,” with Oprah Winfrey and Lenny Kravitz.

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Why Former Rapper Snoop Dogg Has Reinvented Himself as Snoop Lion

The rap icon formerly known as Snoop Dogg -- who says from now on his name is Snoop Lion -- has reinvented himself, CBS News reports.

Why? Because he’s now a reggae artist, having had his eyes opened by a trip to Jamaica earlier this year.

“The artist said at a news conference Monday in New York that he was ‘born again’ during a visit to Jamaica in February and is ready to make music that his ‘kids and grandparents can listen to,’” the story reports. "The former gangster rapper is releasing a reggae album called ‘Reincarnated’ in the fall. He said that in Jamaica, he connected with Bob Marley's spirit and is now ‘Bob Marley reincarnated.’"

Said Snoop: "I feel like I've always been Rastafarian." He added that while in Jamaica he was renamed Snoop Lion on a visit to a temple and also received the Ethiopian name Berhane, meaning "light of the world."

The report adds: “Snoop didn't explain why he was switching from ‘Dogg’ to ‘Lion,’ but it's likely a reference to the Lion of Judah, a religious symbol popular in Rastafarian and Ethiopian culture.”

Snoop played a few songs for a small crowd gathered Monday in New York for his announcement, including a new one called "No Guns Allowed."

Said Snoop: "It's so tragic that people are doing stupid things with guns.”

“Snoop, best known for hits like ‘Gin and Juice’ and ‘Drop It Like It's Hot,’ is an avid supporter of marijuana rights and has been banned from entering Norway for two years after trying to enter the country with a small amount last month,” the report adds.

The former rapper said he’s not retiring completely from hip-hop, but he no longer finds it challenging.

"Reggae was calling,” he said. “It's a breath of fresh air.”

His transformation will reportedly be documented not only in the upcoming album, but also in a documentary film and a coffee table book.

Snoop-Dogg-As-Snoop-Lion.jpgSnoop Lion -- formerly Snoop Dogg

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VH1 Revives a Fondly Remembered Concept From the '90s

After a brief trial run last year, VH1 has decided to bring back a concept that first appeared in the 1990s and earned a devoted following, UPI reports.

The concept is “Pop Up Video,” which returns to VH1 starting next week. The music videos augmented with word bubbles -- “pop ups” -- ran from 1996 to 2002 in their first incarnation, and returned for a revival in 2011.

The launch of the new edition, set for Monday, is tied in with Lollapalooza 2012.

In a release, the network said: "For the first time ever, VH1 will bring the fun of 'Pop Up Video' to Lollapalooza 2012 by putting attendees in the spotlight as stars of their own videos. From Aug. 3-5, festival-goers in Chicago's Grant Park will be able to step into the fun and irreverent world of 'Pop Up Video' to an unprecedented degree, in real life via 'augmented reality' software.”

The statement adds: "The breakthrough technology will allow fans to see themselves live on a jumbo screen, interacting with music videos from Lollapalooza artists, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Black Keys, Fun., B.o.B. and Gary Clark Jr. In addition, participants will get the full 'pop up' treatment via custom bubbles of humorous info about the videos and insider Lollapalooza facts, overseen by the series' actual editorial team. They can then post photos from the experience instantly to Facebook and Twitter through a custom application."

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New TV Version of 'Psycho': More 'Lost' Than Hitchcock?

Producer Carlton Cuse, best known for his work on ABC's iconic drama "Lost," plans to bring a very un-Hitchcock spin to “Bates Motel,” A&E's reboot of "Psycho," reports TV Guide.

The 10-episode series will be a prequel to the action of the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock film, presenting Norman Bates as a 16-year-old.

Said Cuse, "His mother, Norma, is in her early forties and very hot. We didn't get to know her in the movie because she was a corpse!"

In the story Cuse is spinning, the Bates clan relocates to a small town in Northern California and buys the motel that eventually bears their name.

Explains the creator, "We're reinterpreting the mythology a bit, and we might discover that Norman has a sibling."

Cuse said the production will not use the famous Bates house on the Universal lot -- even though both the house and the Bates Motel are still standing. Instead, the producers are planning to re-create both the house and the motel.

"We're looking to shoot in some redwooded Northwestern locale, so we'll probably end up building our own version of the iconic Victorian house overshadowing a '60s-era motel. There are a lot of dark secrets in this town. I'm really excited about it," said Cuse.

The project is currently casting and is set for a 2013 premiere.

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Olympics Got McCartney for a Song -- and Not Much Money

The spectacle that was the Opening Ceremony for the 2012 London Olympic Games featured the star power of Paul McCartney in a prominent role -- and the Olympics got the original Beatle for a bargain price, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

McCartney’s fee to perform in front of a global television audience of about 1 billion viewers was a nominal amount, just one pound -- $1.57 in U.S. funds.

The stars involved in the opening essentially donated their services. According to a London 2012 spokeswoman the payment was a formality.

The rep told Agence France-Presse: "The top talent basically gave their services for free. But in order to have a formal contract for their services you have to show an amount, so that was set at a pound, which enables them to have a contractual arrangement."

Other participants in the Opening Ceremony, including Mike Oldfield, Underworld, Dizzee Rascal and Emeli Sande, reportedly had similar arrangements.

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Urinating in Studio Lands Comedian in Hot Water

A comedian and actor who has built a reputation for controversial antics may have cost himself a job with his latest stunt. Artie Lange, known for his time as a sidekick on “The Howard Stern Show,” was suspended from his new show by DirecTV for allegedly relieving himself in the studio and then insisting that the show’s two female production assistants clean it up, TMZ.com reports.

Lange subsequently sent out a tweet that appeared to indicate he is quitting “The Nick and Artie Show,” an on-camera version of Lange and Nick DiPaolo’s sports radio talk show that recently started up on DirecTV.

DirecTV reportedly suspended Lange from the show for two days, but sources cited in the report indicated he had not been fired from the show and DirecTV execs just felt he needed a couple of days off to think things over.

Lange issued a couple of tweets on the topic, writing: "Direct Tv has suspended me from the N&A show for the next 2 nights. They won't tell me fully why. Can't continue w them. Sorry guys. Luv u."

A follow-up tweet added: "Direct Tv are good ppl. I apologize to them for doing an offensive show. May do my own Podcast. Hope to see u all down the road."

Lange’s agent was more optimistic about a possible return to the show, telling TMZ: "As Artie stated, he is sorry for the events that transpired on the show last Friday. He is fully committed to working with DirecTV and looking forward to his return."

Lange’s tweets were reportedly quickly removed from his Twitter page.

The show’s female PAs, nicknamed “Twinsanity,” reportedly refused to clean up the mess, which then got handed off to someone lower in the chain of command.

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Veteran TV and Film Actor, Known for Macho Western Characters, Dead at 95

An actor known for his prolific macho roles in Westerns such as "Gunsmoke" has died, reports The New York Times. R.G. Armstrong Jr., 95, died Friday at his home in Studio City, Calif.

Armstrong had guest spots on almost all of the popular Western television shows during the 1950s and 1960s, and was also a regular in films after meeting director Sam Peckinpah on the set of the 1960 series "The Westerner," the story notes.

He played a Christian fundamentalist in Peckinpah’s "Ride the High Country," a minister in "Major Dundee," which starred Charlton Heston, and a cruel lawman in "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid." Armstrong was also a favorite of Warren Beatty, cast in Beatty's films including "Dick Tracy" (Armstrong played Pruneface) and "Heaven Can Wait."

Other film credits for Armstrong included the 1966 John Wayne-Robert Mitchum movie “El Dorado,” “Predator” (1987) and “Children of the Corn” (1984).

His extensive TV work included appearances on "Rawhide," "Bonanza," “Have Gun -- Will Travel,” “The Rifleman,” “Zane Grey Theater,” “Maverick,” “Cheyenne,” “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Twilight Zone.”

rg-armstrong.jpgR.G. Armstrong Jr.

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Report: Two Front-Runners Emerge to Fill 'American Idol' Judge Seats

Two front-runners have emerged to fill the two empty seats at the judges' table on "American Idol," reports USMagazine.com.

They are singer Nick Jonas, 19, and N.E.R.D. rapper Pharrell Williams, 39, the story notes.

Randy Jackson will be moved into a "mentoring role." The Fox show is searching for new judges after the departures of Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler.

Jonas last week met with "Idol" executives for final meetings, while Williams is negotiating the terms of a contract, the story notes. A representative for Fox had no comment, the piece adds.

Mariah Carey is set as one of the judges for the new season, taking over the spot that had been held by Jennifer Lopez, as previously reported.

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Legendary Actor's Son Accused of Raping Teenage Girl

The son of a major Hollywood star has been accused of raping a 15-year-old girl, according to a lawsuit obtained by TMZ.com. Henry Hopper, the 21-year-old son of Dennis Hopper, is accused of plying the girl with drugs and alcohol and then raping her, the story reports.

The lawsuit was reportedly filed by the mother of the now 16-year-old girl. “According to the legal papers, the girl -- identified in the lawsuit as Jan Doe -- claims the two began to communicate on Facebook ... and in the months that followed, Hopper invited her to his home in Venice, CA on multiple occasions with the promise of drugs and alcohol,” the story reports. “In the suit, Doe claims Hopper would wait until she was intoxicated ... and ‘engaged in sexually offensive conduct with her’ ... including sexual intercourse, forced oral copulation and sodomy.”

The suit claims that Henry Hopper "preyed upon a young impressionable child, suggesting that he cared for her, luring her into his home with promises of alcohol and illegal drugs, and then repeatedly taking advantage of her youth and vulnerability," the piece reports.

Henry Hopper has begun his own acting career, including appearing in the Gus Van Zant movie “Restless” in 2011.

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Oops: NBC Airs 'Today' Promo for Gold Medal Performance Before the Event Aired

NBC mistakenly aired a promo for "Today" about Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin winning her first gold medal -- but the event hadn't yet been televised, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

“When you’re 17 years old and win your first gold medal, there’s nobody you’d rather share it with,” the promotion Monday for the "Today" segment began. The problem was that NBC hadn't yet aired the actual race. Because the network is using a tape delay to save events for prime time, the race was slated to air Monday night, the story notes.

As previously reported, many NBC viewers are irked by the network's insistence on using a tape delay, a system devised in the 1960s as a way to ensure that the most popular sports air in prime time.

"[N]o spoiler was quite as embarrassing as the 'Today' slip-up,” The Times piece reports. “The short commercial shown on Monday night promoted to viewers of Tuesday’s 'Today' that they would be given the exclusive 'live from London' -- one of the few instances when 'live' actually means it in this Olympics.”

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Journalist Banned From Twitter After Wading Into Controversy Over NBC's Olympics Coverage

A journalist who urged viewers to contact an NBC executive to air their complaints over the network's Olympics coverage has been booted from Twitter, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

Guy Adams, a Los Angeles-based correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent, took critical aim at NBC's tape delay, writing, "The man responsible for NBC pretending the Olympics haven’t started yet is Gary Zenkel. Tell him what u think!”

He included the work email address for Zenkel, the president of NBC Olympics, in his tweet, according to the story. According to an article in The Independent, Twitter informed him that his account was suspended for "posting an individual's private information."

Adams responded that Zenkel's email isn't a private account. "I didn't publish a private email address, just a corporate one, which is widely available to anyone with access to Google and is identical to one that all of the tens of thousands of NBC Universal employees share," he wrote, according to The Independent.

NBC had filed a complaint with Twitter over Adams' tweet, according to The Times. As previously reported, NBC and Twitter have formed a partnership to help promote NBC's coverage of the Olympics.

“We filed a complaint with Twitter because a user tweeted the personal information of one of our executives. According to Twitter, this is a violation of their privacy policy. Twitter alone levies discipline," NBC said in a statement.

Adams declined to comment, according to The Times. Twitter said it doesn't comment on individual users for privacy reasons.

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ABC Pulls Plug on Fred Willard's Show

Two weeks after actor Fred Willard was arrested on a lewd conduct charge, ABC is pulling the remaining original episodes of his improv show "Trust Us With Your Life," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

As previously reported, Willard was arrested in a Hollywood adult movie theater with his genitals allegedly exposed. Willard has since said it was a "big misunderstanding" and that "it did not happen."

He joked about the incident on NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” -- see the video here.

"Trust Us" has been low rated, scoring a 0.6 average rating in adults 18 to 49 last week and just 1.83 million viewers. That makes the show ABC’s lowest-rated broadcast of the summer, the piece adds.

The show will be replaced with repeats of "Wipeout."

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Fox Buys Male-Centric Comedy From John Wells -- Part of a Trend Toward Formats From One Small Country

A male-focused comedy produced by John Wells has been bought by Fox, reports Deadline.com. The single-camera comedy, “Hard Up,” is based on an Israeli format.

Wells, who co-created the U.S. version of "Shameless," will executive produce "Hard Up" with Etan Frankel, who will write the script. The project is based on the Israeli show "Asfur," about four men in their 20s who struggle to keep their home in a gentrifying neighborhood, the story notes. Fox has given the project a script commitment, the piece adds.

Shows based on Israeli formats have grown in popularity, with HBO's "In Treatment" and Showtime's "Homeland" among the recent examples.

“Last year, two projects based on Israeli series reached pilot stage: NBC’s ‘Midnight Sun’ and the CW’s ‘Joey Dakota,’” the report notes. “Israeli concepts are getting a jump on the new development cycle with two early sales, ‘Hard Up’ and drama ‘M.I.C.E.’ at NBC, which has Film 44 producing.”

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'The Big C' Is Renewed for a Final Season -- But Is the Short Order a Spoiler?

"The Big C" has received a renewal from Showtime for a final season, but its extremely short order raises the question whether Laura Linney's character will succumb to cancer, reports TVLine.com.

The order for the show's fourth season consists of only four one-hour episodes, the story notes.

Asked whether the show will conclude with Cathy's death, Showtime President David Nevins replied, "I wouldn’t assume anything about how it’s going to end. They have a very interesting, novel and form-breaking way to handle where the show is going.”

Showtime hasn't announced when the final episodes will air, the story says. Nevins spoke at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour.

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Showtime Reveals Plans for 'Homeland' in the Event of a Real Terrorist Attack

Showtime's "Homeland" has a plan in place that addresses what to do with the series if real-world events come too close to the themes being handled in the show, reports the New York Post, citing Showtime executive David Nevins.The show's plot has centered on domestic terrorism.

“There are certain things that will happen in ‘Homeland’ this year that are incredibly politically sensitive," Nevins said. "We have asked the question: What happens if events in the world get in the way of or overlap? It is possible.”

The plan would be to pull the show off the air for a while, said Nevins, the pay-cable channel’s head of programming. "There are always contingencies, but generally it is delay, not cancel,” he added.

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Yahoo Interim CEO Says He's Leaving After Being Passed Over

Yahoo’s interim chief executive officer is leaving the company after its board passed him over for the permanent top job, instead hiring former Google executive Marissa Mayer, reports Bloomberg.

Ross Levinsohn took on the interim role in May when ex-CEO Scott Thompson resigned after questions arose about the accuracy of his resume. Levinsohn had been considered a top contender for the permanent CEO job, but instead Mayer was recruited to help turn around the company.

"Ross has done a terrific job during his time at Yahoo,” Yahoo said in a statement. “We wish him all the best.”

Levinsohn was known for his skill with advertisers and had helped resolve a patent dispute with Facebook, the story notes.

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NBCUniversal, G4 Sued by 'Attack of the Show' Producers

Segment producers for "Attack of the Show" have filed a class-action suit against the G4 Network and owner NBCUniversal Media over pay, classification and what they claim are unfair businesses practices, reports Deadline.com.

The lawsuit was filed by Sean Jordan, Bruce Greene and Yaniv Fituci, who claim the network intentionally misclassified them so as not to pay "all the wages to which they were and are entitled under federal and California law” when they worked more than 40 hours a week, according to the story.

The lawsuit alleges that one of the show's executive producers chastised Jordan, who currently works for G4, for asking about hiring more people to handle a heavier work load, the piece adds.

The trio also alleges that G4 and NBCUniversal failed to maintain accurate payrolls and withheld wages. Greene and Fituci left "Attack of the Show" in 2011 after four years of working for the program.

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Discovery Sees Profitability in the Future for Oprah's OWN

Oprah Winfrey’s sputtering OWN cable network “remains on track” to reach profitability during the second half of 2013, Discovery CEO David Zaslav said today, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Discovery is a partner in OWN.

The company previously projected that OWN would reach the break-even point in cash flow during the second half of 2013 and would then show profits, the report notes.

“During the cable network group's earnings conference call on Tuesday, Zaslav said that after a 14 percent ratings gain in the first quarter in its core audience of women 25-54, OWN grew viewership around 20 percent in the latest period,” the piece reports. “And so far in the third quarter, ratings are up more than 50 percent, he added. Overall, that leaves the channel up about 25 percent year-to-date.”

Winfrey has been more of a presence on the channel, including conducting recent high-profile interviews with Kim Kardashian and others.

The report adds: “Zaslav also told analysts that all eight charter advertisers of OWN during the recent upfront ad sales period re-upped with the network. He said that and the recent ratings that have been exceeding expectations keep OWN on track to turn the profitability corner during the second half of next year.”

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CBS Boss Moonves Sounds Off About How NBC Is Handling Its Olympics Coverage After Outcry From Viewers

CBS’s Leslie Moonves has waded into the debate over how NBCUniversal is covering the London Olympics, after a chorus of viewer complaints arose -- especially online -- over NBC’s strategy of tape-delaying of much of the coverage, B&C reports.

Moonves was supportive of the network’s strategy, telling the publication: "They had no alternative to do that. What are they going to do in prime time? They would have had to show events at 5 o'clock in the morning. They don't happen that way. If you don't want to know the result, don't go online. If you want to know the result, go online. But I don't know what people expected of them, and I think they're doing a very good job of balancing it.”

Moonves noted that if CBS had the Olympics, the network would probably have to do the same thing to ensure that the most popular events aired during prime time.

“I think almost definitely we would have done the same thing," Moonves said.

The report adds: “For all the online groaning, NBC's tape delay has seemingly not hurt its primetime viewership. The London opening ceremony was the most-watched Summer Olympics opening ceremony ever, drawing over 40 million viewers, and its first night of primetime coverage on Saturday averaged over 28 million viewers, the most-watched opening night ever for the Summer Games.”

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Daytime Drama: CBS Soap Dumps Exec Producer, Brings In Emmys Regular

A “daytime drama” is playing out at CBS’s top-rated daytime soap opera, where the executive producer and head writer has been ousted, Soap Central reports.

“The Young and the Restless” is giving the boot to Maria Arena Bell and bringing in multiple Emmy-winning executive producer Jill Farren Phelps ("General Hospital"), the story reports. Former "Y&R" head writer Josh Griffith will return to guide the writing team under Phelps' oversight.

In a statement, Steve Kent, senior executive VP, U.S. programming, at producer Sony Pictures Television, said: "We are excited to have such a talented daytime veteran leading our team at ‘Y&R.’ Jill has a stellar record of success in the daytime genre. We are also happy to welcome Josh back to 'The Young and the Restless' and are looking forward to his creative input and ideas."

Phelps is a 14-time Daytime Emmy nominee as an exec producer, having won the award seven times. Her resume includes running "GH," "Guiding Light," "Another World," "Santa Barbara" and the prime-time "GH" spinoff "General Hospital: Night Shift."

Griffith has previously been with "Y&R" as a creative consultant, head writer and interim executive producer.

Bell was caught off guard by the move, posting on her Facebook page: "So it was announced today I am leaving Y&R... the show I have loved so much for so long. It is the legacy of my father in law... my mother in law... and all the Bells. The show has been my heart and soul. I loved working with the most talented writers in TV who were also the most wonderful human beings I know. They became a second family and my best friends. I loved the cast and crew. I am extremely sad to go because there are more stories I could have told. So much more I wanted to do."

"My ratings are strong... each week stronger than last year," Bell added. "The show is in a great place creatively. We are number one by the greatest margin in the show's history and have been consistently while I've been there. Under no one else's tenure as head writer exec producer have we won every demographic for so long. I am just shy of five years at the helm. It has been an amazing ride."

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Romantic Crooner, Star of Hollywood Musicals, Dead at 98

A crooner who appeared in movie musicals during a career spanning more than half a century has died, the Associated Press reports. Tony Martin, who had hit records with “I Get Ideas,” ‘’To Each His Own,” ‘’Begin the Beguine” and “There’s No Tomorrow,” was 98.

Martin’s career included success in television, film, records and nightclubs, going back to the Depression era and continuing into the 21st century. His accountant and friend Beverly Scott said today that Martin died Friday evening at his home in West Los Angeles of natural causes.

“A peer of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, Martin sang full voice in a warm baritone that carried special appeal for his female audience,” the report notes.

Gabriel Guerrero, a musician and a longtime friend of Martin’s, said Martin recently sang to him by phone. “He’s the ultimate crooner who outlasted all is contemporaries,” Guerrero said. “He has truly remained the butterscotch baritone until he was 98.”

The report notes: “Although he never became a full-fledged movie star, he was featured in 25 films, most of them made during the heyday of the Hollywood musicals. A husky 6 feet tall and dashingly handsome, he was often cast as the romantic lead.”

Martin, who grew up in San Francisco and Oakland, married two film stars, Alice Faye and Cyd Charisse, with his marriage to Charisse lasting 60 years until she died in 2008.

His first film singing role was in “Sing Baby Sing” in 1936 -- a movie that starred his future wife Faye.

“As a contract player at Twentieth Century-Fox, Martin also appeared in ‘Pigskin Parade’ (featuring young Judy Garland), ‘Banjo on My Knee’ (Barbara Stanwyck, Joel McCrea), ‘Sing and Be Happy,’ ‘You Can’t Have Everything’ (Faye, Don Ameche), ‘Ali Baba Goes to Town’ (comedian Eddie Cantor) and ‘Sally, Irene and Mary,’” the report notes.

Moving to MGM in 1940, he tackled roles in “The Ziegfeld Girl” (James Stewart, Lana Turner, Judy Garland), “The Big Store” (the Marx Brothers), “Till the Clouds Roll By,” “Easy to Love” (Esther Williams) and “Deep in My Heart,” the piece adds.

tony-martin.jpgTony Martin

Here’s a clip of Tony Martin and Kathryn Grayson performing an ultra-romantic duet, “Make Believe,” in the 1946 musical “Till the Clouds Roll By” -- with subtitles!

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'NCIS: Los Angeles' Casts Actors' Real-Life Moms

CBS's crime procedural "NCIS: Los Angeles" will feature the real-life mothers of four of the show's cast members in a special Mother’s Day episode, TVLine.com reports.

The moms of Chris O'Donnell, Daniela Ruah, Eric Christian Olsen and LL Cool J will appear on the show. The report notes that the mothers of O'Donnell's and Ruah's characters have already been presented on the show, and it's unclear who the actors' real-life moms will play.

According to CBS, the scene was "hand-picked by executive producer Shane Brennan."

"NCIS: Los Angeles" will have its season four premiere on Tuesday, Sept. 25.

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NBC Names New EVP for Alternative Programming

NBC announced a key executive move, naming a new EVP of alternative programming for NBC Entertainment, Deadline.com reports. The job is being filled by promoting Meredith Ahr.

Ahr, who has been VP of alternative programming and development since 2007, will continue to be in charge of development of alternative programming for NBC, and will add creative oversight of Universal TV’s reality producers, the story reports.

She reports to Paul Telegdy, NBC’s president of alternative and late-night programming.

Said Telegdy: “Meredith couples exacting creative standards with partnership and collaborative skills in a way which pushes the department and the producers we are in business with."

Ahr's most recent success was the development of "The Voice." She's currently working on a dating show called "Ready for Love," which Eva Longoria is executive producing, and on "Stars Earn Stripes" (Mark Burnett and Dick Wolf producing) and "White Elephant," a Howie Mandel show.

meredith-ahr.jpgMeredith Ahr

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CBS Puts Up New Series Against Olympics -- With Predictably Disastrous Results

NBC’s Olympics coverage dominated the prime-time ratings Sunday, according to Nielsen overnights, with a new CBS show hit especially hard as it aired its time-period premiere against the juggernaut sports coverage from London.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that CBS’s new dating show “3,” which aired its time-period premiere (and second episode overall) at 9 p.m., managed only a 0.5 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, with only 1.76 million total viewers.

Not only were those numbers dwarfed by NBC’s prime time averages for the Olympics -- an 11.4 average in 18-49 and 35.45 million total viewers -- but “3” also came up well short of its time-slot competition on Fox, two reruns of “Family Guy,” which averaged 1.6 and 1.5 in the 18-49 demo with 3.11 million and 3.17 million total viewers.

CBS fared a little better with a fresh “Big Brother” at 8 p.m., which attracted a 1.8 average in 18-49 and 5.11 million total viewers.

Otherwise, the night belonged to NBC and the Olympics, with the other nets putting up all repeat programming.

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Viewers Venting Anger About NBC's Olympics Coverage -- With One Main Complaint

NBCUniversal's wide-ranging coverage of the London Olympics isn't sitting well with some viewers, and they're mainly irked about one aspect in particular: tape delay.

A new Twitter hashtag -- #nbcfail -- is distilling television viewers' anger over perceived failures of NBC's Olympics coverage, reports The New York Times. Angry posts under the #nbcfail hashtag rose Sunday after NBC's newly hired chief digital officer retweeted a message that read, “the medal for most Olympic whining goes to everyone complaining about what happens every 4 yrs., tape delay.”

As previously reported, that executive, Vivian Schiller, resigned last year as chief executive of NPR amid controversy.

Now Schiller has "quickly became the corporate symbol of anger about tape-delaying sports and the opening ceremony. And she isn’t even in the sports division," The Times points out.

"To a degree, she wasn’t wrong. Complaining about tape delay is an Olympic sport in its way," the story adds.

The tape delay stems from the 1960s, when ABC's Roone Arledge pioneered the tool as a way to keep the most popular sports for prime-time broadcast.

But fans are angered by the continued reliance on tape delay, given that major sports outside the Olympics are always telecast live and the technology is available to NBC, via multiple networks and the Internet, the article points out.

While NBC is offering live streaming via the Internet, it doesn't allow replays for marquee sports such as swimming and gymnastics until the sports have run on the tape delay during prime time, the story notes.

"While NBC took a big step into 21st century digital realities by letting everything stream live, it isn’t carrying everything, including the marquee events, live on TV. The belief is that viewership might diminish if your best events are seen too early on TV," the piece reports.

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Veteran Character Actor Dies -- Credits Included 'Mary Hartman,' 'Back to the Future,' 'Ed Wood'

A prolific character actor who carved out a 50-year career in television and film has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Norman Alden, known for roles in TV commercials along with series work, was 87.

Alden’s family said he appeared in 2,500 television episodes, commercials and films. He was perhaps best known for playing Lou the mechanic in a series of TV ads for AC Delco.

Alden rarely had a regular television role, the story notes. Instead, he usually played one show and one character at a time.

In the mid-1970s, he played Coach Leroy Fedders on seven episodes of "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman," ending his role when the character drowned face-first in a bowl of Mary's chicken soup, the story notes.

He provided the voice of Aquaman in two "Super Friends" animated shows in the 1970s, and appeared in TV shows ranging from "Electra Woman and Dyna Girl" to "My Three Sons" and "Charlie's Angels."

Other TV appearances included “Gunsmoke,” “Ironside,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Dynasty,” “Mod Squad” and “Hill Street Blues.” He worked consistently from the 1950s through his retirement in 2006.

On the big screen, Alden was seen in “Ed Wood,” “Kansas City Bomber,” “Back to the Future,” “Semi-Tough” and many other films.

norman-alden2.jpgNorman Alden

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Almost Entire Cast of A&E Reality Show Fired

The future of an A&E reality show is in question after almost the entire cast received pink slips.

The town of Terrabone, La., got a new sheriff, who promptly fired 24 people on his first day, including five of the seven cast members of 'Cajun Justice,' reports TMZ.com.

A sixth cast member quit to support his colleagues, the story notes.

Terrabone Sheriff Jerry Larpenter also banned producers from following anyone in his department, according to the show. The program's producers had enough tape to finish the first season of the show, but there won't be any new episodes featuring Larpenter's team, according to the story.

It's not clear whether A&E will look for a new department to track or whether the show will be scrapped, the piece notes. A&E and the production company didn't return calls, the report adds.

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CNN Under Fire After Using What Some Consider an Insulting Song to Introduce Sarah Palin Segment

After using the Pink song "Stupid Girls" to introduce a segment on Sarah Palin, CNN has said the music selection was unintentional and not meant as commentary, reports TheWrap.com.

"The music selection was a poor choice and was not intended to be linked to any news story," CNN said in a statement. "We regret any perception that they were planned together."

The segment was a report about Palin supporting Chick-fil-A. According to The Huffington Post, Palin tweeted support for the company during a controversy over its president's views on gay marriage.

CNN's statement came after several conservative sites pointed to the song selection as an example of liberal bias, according to TheWrap.

The Sarah Palin incident “comes eight months after ‘Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’ apologized for Fallon's house band, The Roots, playing Fishbone's ‘Lyin' Ass Bitch’ as Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann walked onstage,” TheWrap notes.

The Chick-fil-A controversy has included a high-profile spat with Jim Henson Company, as previously reported.

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General Motors Ousts Its Controversial Top Marketing Officer; He Had a Lot to Do With This Popular Super Bowl Commercial

The person who has been running General Motors' $4.5 billion global ad budget has been ousted from the company.

Joel Ewanick, GM's global chief marketing officer, "failed to meet expectations the JoelEwanick.jpgcompany has for its employees," a GM spokesperson said, and Ewanick elected to resign, reports The Wall Street Journal. The piece adds: "GM said Mr. Ewanick, 52 years old, will leave the company and be succeeded on an interim basis by U.S. sales and service chief Alan Batey, 49."

The WSJ story notes: "GM told Mr. Ewanick that he was being removed for failing to properly vet the financial details of a European soccer-sponsorship deal that he struck recently, according to people familiar with the matter." Auto News says the deal involved the popular U.K. soccer team Manchester United.

The WSJ article notes that Ewanick, who previously worked at Hyundai and Nissan, "also became a polarizing force both within GM and on Madison Avenue."

However, The WSJ adds: "As recently as two weeks ago, "[GM CEO Dan] Akerson said he was pleased with Mr. Ewanick's work. In an interview earlier this month to discuss Mr. Ewanick's role at GM, Mr. Akerson described him as 'fundamental' to the company and said he was doing 'a good job. ... He's full of energy and vim and vigor and comes across as a glass breaker. But that is too simplistic. He is willing to challenge the status quo of the corporation and he has done a good job."

To read an insightful piece about Ewanick's tumultuous two years at GM that Ad Age has written, please click here.

The WSJ continues: "Mr. Ewanick used a commercial for this year's Super Bowl to take a shot at rival Ford Motor Co. The story-board version of the Chevrolet Silverado ad showed the pickup truck emerging unscathed from an apocalyptic landscape.

"The driver emerges and asks, 'Where's Dave?' A friend replies, "Dave didn't drive the longest-lasting, most dependable truck on the road.'

"Mr. Ewanick studied the board and threw in a twist: "Let's say, 'He drove a Ford.'

"The ad agency fretted the joke would come across as mean-spirited, but in the end added the line with some extra humor. Ford didn't get the joke. Days before the ad was to air, Ford lawyers sent GM a cease-and-desist letter. Instead of complying, Mr. Ewanick mocked Ford's complaint on Twitter -- a development that many media outlets picked up."

Here's the commercial:

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Kristen Stewart's 'Momentary Indiscretion' With 'Huntsman' Director May Have Been Secretly Going On Since Last Year

The widely publicized sex scandal involving “Snow White and the Huntsman” star Kristen Stewart and the film’s director, Rupert Sanders, took another twist when word surfaced that the affair may have been going on for months, the New York Daily News reports.

The affair led to both Stewart and Robert Pattinson, her boyfriend of three years, moving out of the home they shared in L.A. As previously reported, Stewart issued a public apology for the fling, calling it a “momentary indiscretion.” But Pattinson reportedly is no longer speaking with her and appears to be taking steps toward ending their relationship.

Now a relative of Sanders says the “indiscretion” has been going on in secret since last year.

“Leopold Ross, the brother of Sanders’ wife, Liberty Ross, told the U.K.’s The People that he believes the 22-year-old actress became involved with the 41-year-old director during production of ‘Snow White’ last year,” the story reports.

Said Leopold Ross: “It was from the last half of filming and all through post-production, clear into last week.”

He added that his sister uprooted her family’s life in England, taking the couple’s two young children to Hollywood to support Sanders’ career.

“She made some sacrifices for something she thought was worth it; now she knows, right?” said Leopold Ross. “It might actually make things better in the long run. She wasn’t that happy for a while, but our family is close; she’ll be all right.”

The report notes that Pattinson appeared to be making his move from the L.A. house more permanent. “Two days after the British actor packed his bags and left the couple’s $6 million home in Los Angeles, a U-Haul truck was spotted pulling away from the property on Saturday,” the story says.

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'Anger Management' on Track for 90-Episode Pickup; Guess Who Will Be Playing Charlie Sheen's Dad?

Charlie Sheen's new television show "Anger Management" is likely to receive a 90-episode pickup, while FX plans to add Sheen's father, Martin Sheen, in a recurring role, reports the Associated Press.

Martin Sheen will play the father of Charlie Sheen's character, an anger-management therapist, the story notes. Martin Sheen is set to debut as a guest star in an Aug. 16 episode.

Adding the older Sheen "will give an extra dimension and make it a multi-generational family show," FX President John Landgraf said.

With the pickup, the show would tape a total of 100 episodes across only two years, a cost-saving schedule that leaves no time for rehearsals, according to executive producer Bruce Helford.

The actors at first "felt like basically they were on the ledge. But by the third episode, everyone found the characters to the point that the writers were following their lead," Helford said, according to the story.

Charlie Sheen, who appeared at a Television Critics Association panel, addressed the period after his departure from "Two and a Half Men," when he started a stage tour called "My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat Is Not an Option." Sheen advised, "Don't go on the road with a one-man show in 21 cities without an act."

He added, "I'm not insane anymore."

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Report: Four Young Stars of 'Modern Family' Also Looking for Raises

The four main younger cast members of "Modern Family" are looking to follow in the footsteps of the show's six adult stars by securing big raises, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

As previously reported, the adult cast of the hit ABC comedy agreed to new contracts Friday, with Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Eric Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Sofia Vergara getting close to $180,000 per episode, up from about $65,000 per episode. As part of the deal the cast members agreed to drop a lawsuit they had filed over their contracts.

Ed O'Neill, who joined in the lawsuit, has been paid at a higher rate than his castmates -- reportedly about $100,000 an episode. His compensation will be more in line with the others going forward, although he will reportedly get a bigger piece of the show’s backend.

At least three of the young stars -- Rico Rodriguez, who plays Manny; Nolan Gould, who plays Luke; and Ariel Winter, who plays Alex -- are talking about working together in a similar approach taken by the adults during their negotiations, the story notes.

Sarah Hyland, who plays Haley, will also renegotiate her contract, but she is said to already make more than the other three young stars, given her film and TV credits from before her "Modern Family" role, the article notes.

"These talks are not expected to be as contentious as the just-concluded adult negotiations ... and the kids are expected to show up to work [this week] as production on the Emmy-winning show's fourth season begins on the Fox lot," THR reports.

It's not clear what the younger actors make, the story adds.

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FX Renews Comedy, Expands Episode Order for Late-Night Show

FX announced a couple of key programming moves over the weekend -- renewing a sitcom and expanding the order for a late-night show, B&C reports.

"Louie," the comedy from Louis C.K., has been renewed for a fourth season, while the network also ordered additional episodes of the new late-night show "BrandX with Russell Brand," the story reports.

Network President John Landgraf made the announcement at the Television Critics Association press tour on Saturday.

"BrandX" received an order for seven additional episodes, along with some fine-tuning of the format. When the show returns in October it will reportedly more closely resemble a traditional late-night show, including having guests every week.

B&C adds: “Brand also said it would tone down the rhetoric ‘rather than being so nuts-out anti-establishment,’ changes that he saw as necesary to fit into the existing late-night landscape.”

"Louie" will return for a fourth season of 13 episodes, the story adds.

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CBS Optimistic About a Ninth Season of 'How I Met Your Mother' -- With 'Strategic' Conclusion in Mind; Also, the Show Is About to Release a Soundtrack

CBS is in talks about extending "How I Met Your Mother" for a ninth season, according to CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler, EW.com's Inside TV reports.

"We’re in early conversations and we’re pretty optimistic," Tassler said. She spoke at the Television Critics Association press tour.

According to Deadline.com, the ninth season would lead to the reveal about the identity of the mother. The show will return for its eighth season in September.

Creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas "have a very strategic wrapup for the show,” Tassler said, according to Deadline.com.

Separately, the show will be issuing its own soundtrack, which will debut on iTunes on "How I Met Your Mother’s” premiere night of Sept. 24, reports HitFix.com.

The tracks will include all the Robin Sparkles songs, "Nothing Suits Me Like a Suit," and the Puzzles theme song, the story notes.

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Test Format for CBS's 'Face the Nation' to Become Permanent After Ratings Surge

A format that has been tested since this spring will become permanent for CBS's "Face the Nation," reports B&C.

The show will now permanently be expanded to one hour, the story notes.

The show was expanded from its half-hour format in April during a 20-week test meant to capture viewer interest in the 2012 presidential election. Compared with a year earlier, "Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer" is up 11% in total viewers and up 33% in the target news demo of adults 25 to 54, according to the story.

CBS plans to continue to rate the show's two half-hours separately because football season will force pre-emptions in many markets, the article notes, citing CBS News President David Rhodes, who made the announcement Sunday at the Television Critics Association press tour.

The network will transition to rating the full hour when sports aren't an issue.

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NBC's 'The Office' Adds a Regular Cast Member

"The Office" will return for the ninth season on NBC with a new regular, reports EW.com's Inside TV. Joining the series is Jake Lacy from "Better With You," the story reports.

It’s believed Lacy will play a new hire named Pete who is a possible romantic interest for Erin, played by Ellie Kemper. For the most part the new character remains shrouded in mystery.

Lacy had been cast to star in Fox's midseason "The Goodwin Games" but was replaced by T.J. Miller after the pilot was filmed, the story notes. "The Office" is losing some of its stars, including Mindy Kaling and James Spader. Kaling is debuting "The Mindy Project" this fall on Fox.

jake-lacy.jpgJake Lacy

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'Modern Family' Cast Signs New Deal

"The cast of ABC's hit comedy 'Modern Family' agreed to new terms on their contracts Friday [July 27, 2012], in time to begin production Monday on the show's fourth season, a spokesman for 20th Century Fox Television, which produces the show, confirmed," reports our good friend Gary Levin of USA Today.

The story notes that six of the show's actors - Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Eric Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ed O'Neill and Sofia Vergara - "who were paid $65,000 an episode (or about $1.6 million) last season, will get close to $180,000 for the upcoming season, more than an earlier, rejected offer but less than they had been seeking. (O'Neill, who was paid about $100,000, will get more)."

The six actors, Levin writes, "sued the studio on Tuesday, seeking to void their 7-year contracts, but with the new agreement have dropped the lawsuit."

The USA Today story continues, "Executive producer Steve Levitan said, "the cast is 'a huge part of the success of Modern Family, and we're happy they're going to get what they deserve.'

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NBC Olympics On Fire! Old Ratings Records All Falling Down, My Fair Lady

"NBC’s two-day primetime average of 35.6 million viewers is the best start to a Summer Olympics on record," the network reports.

Based on the fast national ratings, NBC announced that "In the more than 50 years of televised Olympics, NBC’s coverage of the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics (8 p.m. – 12:02 a.m. ET/PT on Friday, July 27, 2012) is the most-watched for a Summer Games on record with 40.7 million average viewers, topping the Atlanta Games (39.8 million).[V]iewership of the opening ceremony is nearly six million more than the 2008 Beijing Olympics (34.9 million) and 15 million more than the 2004 Athens Olympics (25.4 million), the last European Olympics."

As for Saturday night's coverage of the first day of competition, NBC said, "The first night of competition from the London Olympics (8:30-11:28 p.m. ET/PT on July 28, 2012) is the most-watched for a Summer Games opening night on record, with 28.7 million average viewers, topping the first night of competition from the 1996 Atlanta Games by more than two million viewers (26.3 million). Saturday night’s viewership is nearly five million more than the first night of the 2008 Beijing Olympics (24.0 million), and nearly nine million more than the first night of the 2004 Athens Olympics (19.8 million), the last European Olympics."

From the NBC press release:


1. London2012

40.7 Million NBC

2. Atlanta – 1996

39.8 Million NBC

3. Beijing - 2008

34.9 Million NBC

4. Sydney – 2000

27.3 Million NBC

5. Athens – 2004

25.4 Million NBC

6. Seoul – 1988

22.7 Million NBC

7. Barcelona – 1992

21.6 Million NBC


1. London – 2012

21.0/37 NBC

2. Beijing – 2008

18.8/34 NBC

3. Rome – 1960

18.1/36 CBS

4. Sydney – 2000

16.2/29 NBC

5. Seoul – 1988

15.2/29 NBC

6. Athens – 2004

14.6/27 NBC

7. Barcelona – 1992

13.8/29 NBC

8. Montreal – 1976

11.1/39 ABC

9. Mexico City - 1968

8.8/34 ABC

10. Munich – 1972

6.5/28 ABC

11. Tokyo – 1964

5.6/14 ABC


1. San Diego


T2. Washington D.C.


T2. West Palm Beach


4. Salt Lake City


5. Denver


6. Norfolk


7. Sacramento


T8. Kansas City


T8. Richmond


10. Columbus


T11. Boston


T11. Indianapolis


13. Seattle


14. Los Angeles


15. Atlanta


T16. Philadelphia


T16. Jacksonville


T18. Austin


T18. Ft. Myers


20. Portland



1. London2012

28.7 Million NBC

2. Atlanta – 1996

26.3 Million NBC

3. Beijing – 2008

24.0 Million NBC

4. Seoul – 1988

23.8 Million NBC

5. Barcelona – 1992

21.6 Million NBC

6. Sydney – 2000

21.0 Million NBC

7. Athens – 2004

19.8 Million NBC


  • 9:46 a.m.-Noon ET/PT averaged 12.3 million viewers, an increase of 56% over the first Saturday morning at the Beijing Games (7.9 million from 10 a.m.-Noon). The household rating in this time period (7.9/22) is 49% higher than the comparable morning from Beijing (5.3/16).
  • The Noon-6 p.m. ET/PT window drew 14.9 million viewers and a household rating of 9.3/23, an increase of 20% and 19%, respectively vs. Beijing Games.
  • The early-morning window (5-9:46 a.m. ET/PT) drew 5.1 million viewers and had a household rating of 3.6/16. There is no comparable coverage for this time period in previous Games.
  • The late night program (12:30-1:18 a.m. ET/PT) drew 7.4 million viewers and a household rating of 4.9/15, an increase of 35% and 29%, respectively.


1. Salt Lake City


2. San Diego


3. Kansas City


4. Columbus


5. Ft. Myers


6. Milwaukee


7. Denver


8. Indianapolis


9. Sacramento


10. Nashville


11. Oklahoma City


12. St. Louis


13. Richmond


14. Portland


T15. San Francisco


T15. Boston


T17. Norfolk


T17. Albuquerque


T17. Jacksonville


20. Phoenix


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AMC Cancels Drama Series

AMC is pulling the plug on a drama series, with the studio behind the show vowing to find another outlet for it, Deadline.com reports.

The show is “The Killing,” which will end its run on the cable network after two seasons.

“The series, an adaptation of a Danish format, launched strong in 2011,” the report notes. “Its first-season finale was one of the most talked about episodes of television in the past few years, triggering controversy with the decision not to reveal the killer. The show returned lower in Season 2 and never regained its ratings momentum.”

The cancellation was reportedly a tough call for AMC, which is expected to get only a couple more seasons out of “Mad Men” while “Breaking Bad” is also winding down.

“After much deliberation, we’ve come to the difficult decision not to renew ‘The Killing’ for a third season,” the network said in a statement. “AMC is incredibly proud of the show and is fortunate to have worked with such a talented team on this project, from showrunner Veena Sud and our terrific partners at Fox Television Studios to the talented, dedicated crew and exceptional cast.”

The studio vowed to try to keep the show going, issuing a statement saying: “Fox Television Studios is extremely proud of ‘The Killing,’ the extraordinary writing staff and crew, and what we believe is one of the best casts on television. We will proceed to try to find another home for the show.”

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'Idol' Judge Rumor Watch: Another R&B Singer's Name Surfaces; Meanwhile, a Country Superstar Turns Down the Job

We may be at the point where it would be easier to report names of any famous singers who have NOT been mentioned as possible replacements for the judges who have left “American Idol.”

The latest name to surface as an “Idol” judge rumor is R&B star Toni Braxton, a six-time Grammy winner also known for the “Braxton Family Values” TV show.

S2S Magazine reports that an insider revealed plans to bring Braxton aboard, although the rumor has not been confirmed.

Meanwhile, country superstar Toby Keith says he was approached recently for a judge’s job but has turned it down, MTV.com reports.

“Keith's name was thrown onto the pile of potential replacements for departed judge Steven Tyler earlier this month after the Aerosmith singer announced the end of his two-year tenure on the show,” the story reports. “But in an upcoming interview in the Inland Empire Weekly, the ‘American Ride’ singer said he turned ‘Idol’ brass down when they approached him in early July because he's too busy to commit half a year to the gig.”

Another country star, Brad Paisley, has also been mentioned as a possible judge on the show.

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'Dancing with the Stars' Unveils All-Star Cast (Video)

ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” changed things up during Friday’s Television Critics Association presentation by revealing the lineup for the upcoming All-Star edition well ahead of schedule, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In the lineup for the show’s 15th season are Kelly Monaco, Emmitt Smith, Shawn Johnson, Bristol Palin, Kirstie Alley, Joey Fatone, Helio Castroneves, Apolo Anton Ohno, Melissa Rycroft, Pamela Anderson, Drew Lachey and Gilles Marini. One spot is being held open for viewers to pick.

Here’s the video announcement:

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CBS Sports Network Inks Deal for Football

CBS Sports Network has closed a deal that will bring football telecasts to the cable network, B&C reports. The network will broadcast games played by the United Football League, which has been in operation since 2009.

CBS Sports Network will air two games a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays, starting Sept. 19. The network will televise games throughout the UFL's eight-week schedule.

Dan Weinberg, senior VP, programming, CBS Sports Network, said in a statement: "We're pleased to partner with the UFL and bring more live football to CBS Sports Network. Fans have an appetite for football at all levels and we're excited to showcase the UFL."

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Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson Aren't Speaking, But Their Work May Force Them Back Together

Actors Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson have both moved out of the house they shared, and sources say they aren’t speaking to each other, People magazine reports.

Pattinson, 26, and Stewart, 22, have left their L.A. home and are living separately elsewhere in the wake of the cheating scandal involving Stewart and her “Snow White and the Huntsman” director, Rupert Sanders.

“But they won't be able to avoid each other indefinitely,” the report notes. “They are scheduled as co-presenters at MTV's Video Music Awards on Sept. 9, followed by their massive promotional tour for the final film in the ‘Twilight’ saga, ‘Breaking Dawn: Part 2,’ due out Nov. 16.”

Another of Stewart’s upcoming projects is “Snow White and the Huntsman 2.” She’s also set for the action comedy “Cali,” which has just cast Alex Pettyfer from “Magic Mike” as her love interest.

Pattinson has his own projects coming up, including “Cosmopolis,” slated to open Aug. 17. He recently signed on with “The Rover,” a revenge movie set in Australia, the report notes.

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O'Neill Officially Joins 'Modern Family' Lawsuit, as Cast and Producers Negotiate

Actor Ed O'Neill has officially become part of the lawsuit filed by the actors on ABC's "Modern Family," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In an amended complaint filed Thursday, O'Neill threw in with his castmates -- Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet and Sofia Vergara -- alleging that their deals should be deemed illegal because they violate California's prohibition on personal services contracts that extend beyond seven years.

Negotiations took place Thursday between the actors' representatives and 20th TV Chairs Gary Newman and Dana Walden, with an ABC representative also involved. The talks were considered positive, although they fell short of an agreement on new deals and failed to convince the actors to drop the lawsuit. The suit was characterized by some as playing hardball.

"Modern Family" has been extremely successful, both critically and commercially. The cast members are seeking significant increases in salary.

As of Monday, 20th had offered the non-O'Neill group $150,000 per episode for season four (plus a $50,000 bonus), $200,000 per show in season five; and up to $325,000 per episode by the ninth season.

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Laurence Fishburne Locked In for 'Hannibal'

“CSI” alum Laurence Fishburne has signed to return to television as a cast member of the upcoming NBC drama "Hannibal," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

We reported earlier this week that Fishburne was close to a deal to join the show. Fishburne will play Jack Crawford, head of the FBI's behavioral sciences unit who specialize in tracking down serial killers. The character is a tough lawman, dedicated to his job and relying on the teamwork of Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), an FBI profiler, and Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), to solve crimes.

Bryan Fuller of "Pushing Daisies" is overseeing the creation of "Hannibal," which is based on Thomas Harris' novels. The Lecter character was most famously brought to the screen in "The Silence of the Lambs," played by Anthony Hopkins. "Hannibal" takes place before the action depicted in the film.

NBC has ordered 13 episodes of "Hannibal."

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Emmy-Nominated TV and Film Actress, Known for Roles in 'As Good as It Gets' and 'Selena,' Dead at 69

A veteran actress who carved out a long career in feature films and on television has died, The Huffington Post reports. Lupe Ontiveros, known for her performances in “As Good as It Gets” and “Selena,” died Thursday at 69, reportedly from liver cancer.

Ontiveros, a Mexican-American, played Yolanda Saldivar, the convicted killer of pop singer Selena, in the 1997 film “Selena,” and appeared in the Oscar-winning “As Good as It Gets” the same year. She was nominated for an Emmy for a guest appearance on “Desperate Housewives” in 2005.

In a widely cited interview with NPR in 2009, Ontiveros estimated that she played a maid at least 150 times. "You've got maids and you've got maids," she is quoted as saying. "You got maids that have longevity beyond what you ever conceived of in your wildest dreams. I'll give you an example -- ‘The Goonies.’ Those that got hooked -- I have a whole following of 30-year-olds who got hooked. Oh my gosh, I'm a heroine to them."

Among her many TV credits, Ontiveros appeared on "Hill Street Blues,” “Reba" and "Who's The Boss.” She recently played Abuelita on “Rob.”

On the big screen her credits included "Born in East L.A.,” “The Border” and “California Suite.”

“Aside from being a Latina icon, and an immensely talented actress, Ontiveros should also be credited with opening doors and breaking down barriers for the new generation of Latina stars,” The Huffington Post reports. “In that same NPR interview, Ontiveros talked about Latina actresses like Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayek and her friend America Ferrera, and said they have opportunities she never had."

"[America Ferrera] probably has already formulated the kinds of roles she will or will not accept. She doesn't have to sacrifice her identity, her culture or her dignity to become a star," Ontiveros said in the interview.

She is survived by her husband and three adult children.

lupe-ontiveros.jpgLupe Ontiveros

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'Grey's Anatomy' Star Leaving the Show

One of the stars of the ABC medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” -- the actor whose spectacular entrance during season two earned his character the nickname “McSteamy” -- is leaving the show, TVLine.com reports.

Eric Dane, who plays Dr. Mark Sloan, has announced his departure from the series. His character will reportedly make a few appearances during the upcoming ninth season to wrap things up.

The story reports: “Dane’s ‘Grey’s’ doc made quite a memorable entrance at the tail end of the show’s second season -- punctuated by his emergence from Addison’s (Kate Walsh) steamy hotel bathroom, clad in nothing but a strategically placed towel. The sequence became one of the season’s biggest watercooler moments and led the hottie plastic surgeon to be dubbed ‘McSteamy.’ It also prompted [Shonda] Rhimes to bring him back the following season as a full-time series regular.”

Dane told the website, “I am extremely grateful to everyone at 'Grey’s,' ABC and Shondaland for the experience and memories I have had over the course of this run. It has been wonderful to work alongside and learn from a creative force such as Shonda Rhimes.”

Rhimes gave TVLine a statement in which she called McSteamy “one of the most beloved characters on 'Grey’s Anatomy.' [Dane] did not come to this decision lightly, but after much consideration and conversations, he and I have decided that this is the right time for his storyline to end."

Dane’s departure comes on the heels of exits by Chyler Leigh (Lexie) and Kim Raver (Teddy). The other major cast members are expected to remain with the show for at least the next two years.

Gaius Charles (“Friday Night Lights”) and Camilla Luddington (“True Blood”) are joining the show. "Grey’s Anatomy" begins season nine on Thursday, Sept. 27.

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CNN Chief Announces Resignation

Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide, has announced his resignation. Walton sent word to CNN employees today via email saying he will step down from his position at the end of this year. He will keep his present role until that time.

“Jim’s decision has the support and respect of Turner Broadcasting CEO Phil Kent,” the company announced. “Phil will lead the search for Jim’s successor.”

Walton wrote in his message to employees: “After more than 30 years at this company and nearly 10 years as the leader of this great news organization, I have decided to leave my role at CNN on December 31, 2012.

“For some time, I’ve been talking with Phil Kent about wanting to make a change, and he supports my decision. I’ve told Phil that I will cooperate with any transition timeline that he and Time Warner want to implement. Phil requested that I work out the year and be available after that if needed, which I’ve agreed to do.”

Walton added: “CNN needs new thinking. That starts with a new leader who brings a different perspective, different experiences and a new plan, one who will build on our great foundation and will commit to seeing it through. And I'm ready for a change. I have interests to explore and I want to give myself time to do it.”

Kent praised Walton, saying: “Jim is the leader we all aspire to be: Smart and steady, tough and fair, business-savvy and respected by his team, and with a track record of great judgment when it matters most. His vision has modernized and globalized our legacy news brand, enhanced CNN’s journalistic standing, positioned it at the forefront of multi-platform branded news content and challenged the organization to think bigger, reach further and do better.”

jim-walton.jpgJim Walton

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'GMA' Fixture Taking Leave From Morning Show to Undergo Medical Treatment

A familiar face on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” appearing by satellite during the network’s panel Thursday at the Television Critics Association press tour, revealed that she will be taking a leave of absence from the show to undergo a bone marrow transplant, reports E! Online.

Robin Roberts will need receive the transplant to deal with myelodysplastic syndromes, a disease of the blood and bone marrow. On air a month ago, Roberts -- a breast cancer survivor -- told viewers of her condition and the need for the procedure.

During her leave from "GMA," Roberts told reporters, "wonderful friends" will be filling in for her, including Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric and perhaps Kelly Ripa.

Roberts, 51, has been a co-anchor on “GMA” since 2005. She has said that her condition is a complication from treatments she received for breast cancer.

Thumbnail image for Robin-Roberts.jpgRobin Roberts

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Video: Fred Willard Stops by 'Fallon,' Jokes About His Arrest in Adult Theater

Fred Willard, who was recently arrested on a lewd conduct charge at an adult theater in Los Angeles, paid a visit to NBC's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" Thursday night, and not surprisingly, the topic of his arrest came up.

Willard and Fallon both made wisecracks about the incident. Here's the video:

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La Toya Emerges as Voice of Reason in Jackson Family's Public Meltdown

One Jackson family member who has surprised some observers by staying out of the family’s recent public squabble is La Toya Jackson. Usually anything but publicity shy, the sister of the late Michael Jackson has been noticeably absent from a widely publicized beef over guardianship of MJ’s children.

But TMZ.com reports that La Toya is finally sounding off. Her message to the family: Stop the public bickering.

“La Toya Jackson is a conscientious objector -- refusing to take part in the Jackson media war because she believes all of the public feuding is damaging the family name,” the story reports.

The report adds: “We're told La Toya feels very strongly that the most effective way to solve the family problems [is] not to attack each other in public ... but rather hash things out quietly ... and respectfully ... in private.”

It’s unclear where she stands on the issue of guardianship, but sources cited in the report say La Toya is definitely not lined up with Janet, Randy, Jermaine and Rebbie.

La Toya also “wasn't thrilled to see them camera-whoring all over TV this week,” the piece reports. “Bottom line -- we're told La Toya wants what's best for Michael's kids ... and feels the quicker the family can stop making a public spectacle of themselves ... the better off the kids will be.”

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Video: Madonna Concert in Paris Turns Ugly, With French Fans Booing Her, Calling Her 'Slut'

Madonna fans were furious at the singer after a special concert appearance Thursday night in Paris, where Madonna performed for about 45 minutes -- apparently not enough for the audience, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

After Madonna left the stage at l’Olympia concert hall, “fans remained in their seats booing and yelling insults like ‘salope,’ the French word for ‘slut,’” the story reports.

Tickets for the special appearance were initially available only to members of her fan club, meaning the concert, which was aired live on YouTube, was attended mainly by her biggest fans.

The story reports: “The supplementary concert was added to the singer’s tour just last week and was sold out after just a few hours, with Material Girl devotees paying from 80 to more than 280 euros for the limited seats. Hundreds of fans gathered outside several hours before the show to fill the Olympia’s 2,700 seats and many slept on the streets overnight from Wednesday to Thursday.”

After the show ended earlier than expected, fans could be heard chanting “remboursez! remboursez!,” which translates to “We want our money back.”

Here’s a clip:

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George Clooney, If You're Reading This, Katie Couric Would Like to Go Out With You. Plus Other Fun Things Couric Would Like to Do

Katie Couric met with the nation's TV critics yesterday, July 26, 2012, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., and talked about a few segments she will do regularly on her new syndicated daytime talk show that starts this fall.

Said Couric, "I think you'll see recurring franchises on the show. I think we're going to be doing something called 'Women Who Should Be Famous,' where we'll be able to spotlight some of these remarkable women who are doing extraordinary things and not getting much attention for those things.

"I'm doing this thing called YOLO ... but for you guys who don't know, that's You Only Live Once, which is a kind of a modern twist on the notion of a bucket list. So I'm going to be doing some of the things that I've always wanted to do, sort of fulfilling my fantasies. But why I'm excited about that franchise is we're going to give viewers an opportunity to tell us something that they've always wanted to do. And, you know, for us to have access to some of these people and some of these experiences and to let someone who would never have the opportunity to do so kind of check something off on his or her bucket list is a really exciting idea for me."

Couric was then asked what some of the things are on her YOLO list.

Couric replied, "Well, I'd like to star in a Broadway musical, but I don't think that's going to happen. Because when I auditioned for my high school musical 'Carnival,' they cast me actually as a deaf mute."

That was met by laughter from the room full of TV critics.

Couric continued, "No, that's a true story and it was very humiliating. So I went to my drama teacher, Timothy Jecko [sp?], and I objected. And he actually then gave me the role of a dancing bear. So ... I would love to be in a Broadway musical even if I were just a part of the chorus and just got to be onstage, because I think that would be really exciting. I'd like to go out with George Clooney if you can arrange that. But I don't know. I have a lot of fun things. You know, there's just going to be a handful of things that I'd like do. I've never jumped out of an airplane, and that's something that I'm a little afraid of heights, but I'd like to do that just because I think it would be exciting. I have no desire to bungee jump, though.

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Comedy Central Greenlights Chris Rock Pilot

Comic Chris Rock has received a pilot order from Comedy Central for a sketch comedy show called "D-Raw," reports Deadline.com. Rock will executive produce the show, which will star Deshawn Raw.

In his act, Raw describes himself as "just a new comedian trying to make it out of the hood with the team. So we don't end up statistics."

The show will feature sketches based on Deshawn's relationship with his circle of friends and their life experiences living in Rancho Cucamonga. Raw is a YouTube star known for his “Rap Battle” videos.

In addition to this project, Rock is executive producing a weekly late-night series for FX called "Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell," which debuts Aug. 9.

Here's a "Rap Battle" video that has been viewed 13.5 million times on YouTube:

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Bravo Renews Talk Show

Bravo has ordered another season of a prime-time talk show, extending its relationship with a comedian who has a knack for stirring controversy.

Kathy Griffin's most recent Bravo enterprise, the weekly talk show "Kathy," was picked up for a second season, Deadline.com reports. The show features a panel discussion of the week’s buzz stories.

Griffin has a long, fruitful relationship with Bravo, having won two Emmys for her Bravo reality show "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List" and having done 14 comedy specials for the network since 2005. Her special "Kathy Griffin: Tired Hooker" was just nominated for a Primetime Emmy.

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Three Presidential Debates Scheduled

Starting just a month before the U.S. presidential election, President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney will meet for three 90-minute debates, reports TheWrap.com.

The first debate, set for Oct. 3, will take place at the University of Denver in Colorado. It will consist of six segments of approximately 15 minutes each, each on a specific topic. The moderator will choose the topics, and they will be announced well before the debate date.

Debate two will be held Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. The format will be a town meeting, with Gallup-selected undecided voters doing the questioning. The topics will include both foreign and domestic issues. Each candidate will be given two minutes to respond to each question, with an extra minute allocated to the moderator to spur conversation.

Debate number three will take place at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., on Oct. 22. The format will be a repeat of the first debate, with topics restricted to foreign policy.

The presidential election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012.

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Aereo CEO Explains Why the Service Should Not Be Considered a Threat to Broadcasters

Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia has been interviewed by SNL Kagan, and explains how he came up with the idea for the service, and why broadcasters should not consider Aereo a threat.

Deborah Yao of SNL Kagan introduces the interview by writing, "Aereo is shaking up the broadcast TV industry with a service that streams live television through the Internet to smartphones, tablets and other devices for consumers.

"Broadcasters were so upset that the four largest networks sued Aereo for copyright infringement weeks before its service even launched. But on Aereo's side are some big guns as well, notably Barry Diller, chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp.

"Aereo is a disruptor on several fronts. Since it does not pay fees to broadcasters to reroute over-the-air TV signals to consumers, networks are concerned that it could interrupt the retransmission fee system. Aereo also appeals to cord-cutters by giving consumers one more tool to assemble their own customized à la carte offerings."

Some excerpts from the interview with Kanojia:

SNL Kagan: The main thing is broadcasters are afraid of a disruption in the retransmission fee system or worse.

Chet Kanojia: We're not an MVPD, we're not subject to retrans and also we don't have the benefits of program access. … For them to sit there and say Aereo can cause mass cord-cutting when Aereo cannot get programming like HBO, like ESPN, like Turner [Broadcasting System Inc.] … where are the antennas for that segment of population that has already concluded they don't want the cable for it or they never took it?

This is the same argument they used for VCRs, [that it will cause] the death of the industry, etc., and of course they make billions of dollars on home video. So to sit there presumptively and say that a technology that is intended for a niche is going to somehow destroy this whole industry is absolute ludicrousness.

On the contrary, what Aereo is doing is giving new users access to live [TV, and] that's just more eyeballs. … There's more opportunity for everyone.

SNL Kagan: Do you think you will prevail all the way based on Cablevision's legal victory in the network DVR case?

Kanojia: It's not just Aereo that is [banking] on the strength of Cablevision [Systems Corp.] Pretty much every cloud technology that's coming out in the content realm is taking advantage of that precedent. Companies like ours, innovative new companies that come in, rely on those various strong precedents to say, "OK, courts said X, so now we can invest." We didn't go around and create something foolish. … We studied it carefully and created something that is highly compliant.

Can you say a DVR cannot play back a live program? That's really what they're asking [the court] to do. What's the logic in that?

SNL Kagan also asked Kanojia, "How did you get the idea for Aereo?"

Kanojia answered, "I started a company prior to this, and in 2008 I sold it to Microsoft Corp. That company had pioneered viewership measurement on cable TV. All the major cable companies were our clients. We pioneered how to collect viewership data second by second in real time from millions of homes. As we looked at the data, it was sort of obvious that 80% of the people only watched seven or eight channels, and 27% of multichannel homes only watched broadcast. The lightbulb sort of went on: 'Look, there's a population of people out there that is using Netflix and Google and iTunes, etc., for parts of different things. The only thing missing in the online experience is this element of live broadcast.' "

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ABC Unveils Fall Premiere Dates

ABC is resisting the temptation to get an early jump on the fall TV season, unveiling a fairly traditional schedule of premieres that has most of the lineup debuting during the Sept. 24 premiere week, Deadline.com reports.

One exception is the drama series “Nashville,” which won’t bow until Oct. 10.

Here’s the full schedule of premieres:

Friday, September 14

8-9 P.M.: -- “Shark Tank”
9-10 P.M.: -- “What Would You Do?”
10-11 P.M.: -- “20/20″

Monday, September 24

8-10 P.M.: -- “Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars”
10-11 P.M.: -- “Castle”

Tuesday, September 25

8-10 P.M.: -- “Dancing with the Stars the Results Show”
10-11 P.M.: -- “Private Practice”

Wednesday, September 26

8-9 P.M.: -- “The Middle” (special one-hour premiere)
9-10 P.M.: -- “Modern Family”
10-11 P.M.: -- “The Neighbors” (series premiere)

Thursday, September 27

8-9 P.M.: -- “Last Resort”
9-10 P.M.: -- “Grey’s Anatomy”
10-11 P.M.: -- “Scandal”

Sunday, September 30

8-9 P.M.: -- “Once Upon a Time”
9-10 P.M.: -- “Revenge”
10-11 P.M.: -- “666 Park Avenue”

Wednesday, October 3

8:30-9:00 P.M.: -- “The Neighbors” (regular time period premiere)

Sunday, October 7

7-8 P.M.: -- “America’s Funniest Home Videos”

Wednesday, October 10

10-11 P.M.: -- “Nashville”

Wednesday, October 17

9:30-10 P.M.: -- “Suburgatory”

Tuesday, October 23

9-9:30 P.M.: -- “Happy Endings”
9:30-10 P.M.: -- “Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23”

Friday, November 2

8-8:30 P.M.: -- “Last Man Standing”
8:30-9 P.M.: -- “Malibu Country”
9-10 P.M.: -- “Shark Tank” (new time period premiere)

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Robert Pattinson Moves Out After Kristen Stewart Cheating Scandal -- and 'Disappears Off the Map'

Actor Robert Pattinson has moved out and “has seemingly disappeared off the map following the explosion of the Kristen Stewart cheating scandal,” E! News reports.

Pattinson’s move from the Los Feliz, Calif., home he was sharing with Stewart comes after the actress apologized for her affair with Rupert Sanders, her “Snow White and the Huntsman” director, as previously reported.

“With the exception of the paparazzi camped outside, all is quiet at the residence, with nary a sign of either Rob or Kristen since the news broke Tuesday evening,” E! reports. Meanwhile, Pattinson has managed to keep under the radar.

The story reports: “A source close to Pattinson told People that the 26-year-old is ‘heartbroken and angry’ and in seclusion, and (this may explain yesterday's emotion-laden apology from Stewart) not currently in contact with the other half of Robsten.

“According to the magazine, Rob has already packed his bags and left the home; though if true, it's likely only a temporary measure: E! News has confirmed that the Los Feliz home is actually his, not theirs.”

Reps for Pattinson are keeping quiet about his location.

“Meanwhile, Robert is well on his way to being the Elvis of the modern age, with unconfirmed sightings placing the elusive actor in several far-flung locales,” the report says. “He was allegedly spotted in Canada in recent days by a fan who announced to the blogosphere that her father, who works at Montreal's Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport, saw the heartbroken movie star getting into a limo after arriving in town. No word on whether he was in the company of Bigfoot or Tupac, too.”

Pattinson is due in Iraq next month to begin filming his upcoming movie, “Mission: Blacklist.” But he’s expected to resurface before that to do promo work for “Cosmopolis,” which is due for an Aug. 17 release.

The report adds: “As for Kristen, she's not been quite so able to disappear herself, as she was spotted earlier this week shunning photographers. Can't imagine why she wasn't happy to see them.”

robert-pattinson.jpgRobert Pattinson

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ABC News Licking Its Wounds Over Goof in Its Colorado Shooting Coverage

ABC News had to go on the defensive today during the network’s presentation at the Television Critics Association press tour, The Washington Post reports. Instead of seizing the opportunity to gloat about recent ratings gains by “Good Morning America” in its battle with NBC’s “Today,” the news division had to answer criticism of its coverage of the theater shooting in Aurora, Colo.

“ABC News chief Ben Sherwood got asked about Brian Ross’s early, inaccurate, speculation, Friday morning -- just hours after the Aurora shooting during a midnight screening of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ -- that the Colorado movie theater killing suspect might be a Tea Party member,” the story reports.

Sherwood told critics: “We put something on the air that we did not know to be true and the part that we needed to be true was not germane to the story we were covering.”

The report gives this account of the on-air incident: “Ross, talking to ‘Good Morning America’ anchor George Stephanopoulos, said, ‘There is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado … on the Colorado Tea Party site as well, talking about him joining the Tea Party last year. Now we don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes -- but this is Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado.’

“Ross corrected himself in an ABC News Special report that aired later that day, telling viewers it was, in fact, NOT the same Jim Holmes.”

Said Sherwood: “It was a mistake; we recognized it immediately and owned it immediately. … We corrected it immediately, and we apologized.”

Sherwood noted that Ross has since contacted the other Aurora man to “express his regret.”

Stephanopoulos, appearing at the TCA event by satellite, also addressed the situation, saying: “This was a breaking news situation and people are going to make mistakes. The test of a good journalist and good news organization is how you handle and how transparent you are with the viewers” when a mistake happens. “I don’t think there was any political movitation behind the mistake.”

The report adds: “The incident, Sherwood said, did not ‘live up to the standards and practices at ABC News. I take responsibility for it. ... The buck stops with me.’"

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'Gangster Squad,' With Scene Depicting Mass Theater Shooting, Has Its Opening Moved to Next Year -- Third Movie This Year to Be Impacted by Real-World Violence

The crime movie “Gangster Squad,” which includes a scene that depicts a mass theater shooting, has had its opening delayed from this fall to 2013, USA Today reports.

It’s the third Hollywood movie this year to have its release affected by real-life violence, the story notes.

“The Ryan Gosling period piece about gang warfare in Los Angeles in the 1940s and '50s moved from Sept. 7 to Jan. 11, according to distributor Warner Bros.' new release schedule,” the story reports.

Warner Bros. pulled the trailer for the movie from screenings of “The Dark Knight Rises” in the immediate aftermath of the shooting a week ago in Aurora, Colo., in which 12 people were killed and 58 wounded.

“’Squad,’ which also stars Sean Penn, Nick Nolte and Emma Stone, included a scene in which gunmen open fire behind a movie screen into an unsuspecting audience, an image eerily similar to last week's slayings. Aurora police say James Holmes walked into the theater armed with guns, body armor and explosives,” the story reports.

Earlier in the year, Twentieth Century Fox changed the name of “Neighborhood Watch” in the wake of the killing of Florida youth Trayvon Martin. The movie, released Friday, is now called “The Watch.” Trailers for the film were also modified.

“The Dark Knight Rises” has also been tainted by violence, obviously, but continues to draw large crowds to theaters nationwide.

The report notes: “Facing a lawsuit filed earlier this week by one of the survivors of the Aurora shooting, studio executives declined to comment on the change. On Tuesday, Torrence Brown Jr., a friend of A.J. Bolk., who died in the shooting, sued the theater, alleging inadequate security, and Warner Bros., claiming ‘Rises'’ violent themes helped provoke the attack.”

In the case of “Gangster Squad,” the report says, “The three-month delay will give filmmakers time to re-shoot or excise the controversial scene, though no timetable has been set for edits, according to Warner Bros. executives who were not authorized to speak on the record. The scene was shot in Los Angeles' famous Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood.”

Jeff Bock, box office analyst for Exhibitor Relations, said: "Warner Bros. has been more sensitive than anyone to this shooting, and I don't think North American audiences will ever see that (theater) scene.”

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Discovery Channel Slates Survival Series From 'Deadliest Catch' Producer

Discovery Channel is rolling out an unscripted series from the producer of “Deadliest Catch,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. The survival-oriented series to be exec produced by “Catch’s” David Pritikin is “One Car Too Far.”

“The five-part unscripted series will revolve around former British Special Forces soldier Gary Humphrey and Southern California-based car fanatic/problem solver Bill Wu as they attempt to survive -- and escape -- remote locations in Chile using only their skills and a car,” the story reports.

With a four-wheel-drive vehicle being flown into locations that have never been traversed by car, “the duo will navigate Chile's seven major climatic subtypes, including desert, alpine tundra, humid subtropical, oceanic and Mediterranean over the course of three days using survival techniques and mechanical tricks. The guys will be given a tracker to find the car and with no real supplies, be tasked with creating hunting weapons and repairing the vehicle -- including using only an egg to seal a crack in the radiator. Each episode will end with a do-or-die stunt,” the report adds.

The series is set for an Aug. 9 premiere at 9 p.m.

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'CBS This Morning' Shakes Up Its On-Air Lineup

With recent changes at NBC’s “Today” show getting headlines, another entry in the morning derby has decided to shake things up too.

CBS News announced that “CBS This Morning” is showing the door to Erica Hill, the only remaining face from the network’s previous installment of its morning show, Deadline.com reports.

In her place will be Chief White House Correspondent Norah O’Donnell, who will join co-hosts Charlie Rose and Gayle King beginning this fall.

The story reports: “O’Donnell will leave the White House, a position she has held since joining CBS News in June 2011, to assume her new role while continuing as the principal substitute anchor for ‘Face the Nation.’ Hill ‘is in discussions regarding a new role,’ CBS News said.

Said CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager: “Norah is an accomplished reporter with all the skills for the job. She’s a hard worker who knows her story and, as she has shown time after time at the White House, she can think on her feet on live television.”

O’Donnell was previously the chief Washington correspondent for MSNBC and a contributing correspondent for NBC’s “Today,” the story notes.

The CBS morning show continues to trail rivals ABC and NBC significantly in the ratings race.

The report adds: “The news comes after O’Donnell recently substituted for Hill, sitting next to Rose and King on the CBS morning program. Here’s what O’Donnell said about her guest stint on the show just last week: ‘I told Erica Hill who is letting me fill in for her, I promised not to leave too many crumbs in her keyboard; I won’t mess up her office too much.’”

norah-odonnell.jpgNorah O’Donnell

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CNN Hires New Co-Host

CNN has announced the hiring of a new on-air personality who will become the co-host of the cable news network’s “CNN Newsroom” Saturday morning show, TVNewser.com reports.

Victor Blackwell will be based in Atlanta and will work as a correspondent along with co-hosting the weekend program with Randi Kaye.

“Blackwell joins CNN from WPBF, the ABC affiliate in West Palm Beach,” the story reports. “Blackwell has been the main co-anchor of WPBF’s newscasts since 2009. Before WPBF, Blackwell worked for WTLV/WJXX in Jacksonville, WPMT-TV in York, PA, and WHAG-TV in Hagerstown, MD.”

Said CNN EVP Ken Jautz: “Victor is a passionate and committed journalist. He will be a strong addition to our weekend morning team and in the field.”

Victor-Blackwell.jpgVictor Blackwell

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Jeremy Piven to Star in New TV Drama

Emmy-winning favorite Jeremy Piven has landed a new drama that's neither on pay TV nor commercial TV.

He will be seen next on PBS.

Masterpiece/WGBH and ITV Studios announced that a period drama starring the “Entourage” regular has been picked up by PBS to air as part of "Masterpiece's" 2013 season, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The project, "Mr. Selfridge," stars Piven, who won three Emmys playing high-anxiety Hollywood agent Ari Gold on HBO’s “Entourage.”

Piven will appear as the title character in the period piece, the story of American visionary Harry Gordon Selfridge, who founded the London department store Selfridges.

"Masterpiece" executive producer Rebecca Eaton said: “Adding Jeremy Piven to our legendary list of 'Masterpiece' actors is a real treat. 'Mr. Selfridge' has all the qualities viewers expect from our programs -- a riveting story, fabulous production values, a first-rate cast, and now ... shopping!”

Andrew Davies created the drama, with Kate Lewis executive producing.

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A Remembrance of Tom Snyder on the 5th Anniversary of His Death. Larger Than Life, and a Favorite of Many, From Letterman to O'Reilly. He Appealed to 'the jokers and the smokers, the drinkers and the thinkers' Who Watch TV Late at Night

This Sunday, July 29, 2012, marks the fifth anniversary of the death of TV news personality Tom Snyder at age 71. Besides anchoring local newscasts in both New York and Los Angeles, he became a national personality by hosting "Tomorrow with Tom Snyder" on NBC from 1973 to 1982, and then "The Late Late Show" on CBS from 1995 until 1999. 

In a wonderful fond remembrance -- which you can read if you click here -- TVWeek Open Mic guest blogger Michael Horowicz, who was one of Snyder's producers, tells us all about this larger-than-life news personality.

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Fox Series Halts Production Over Star's Medical Issue

A Fox drama series has shut down production to allow one of its stars to receive treatment for a medical condition. Deadline.com reports that “Fringe” is on a two-week hiatus while John Noble is treated for a sleep disorder.

The move comes after four days of shooting on the show’s final 13-episode season.

The report notes: “On Monday, Noble was MIA at the show’s TCA panel when producers explained that he was not feeling well. The series resumed production [Tuesday] without Noble, and a decision was made later in the day to go on hiatus while the 63-year-old actor receives treatment.”

Noble’s condition, which he has reportedly had for some time, “was aggravated by his recent intense schedule that had him flying back from his native Australia right into Comic-Con then right into production on Season 5 of Fringe,” the story reports.

Production is set to start up again Aug. 7, with producers saying the show’s season premiere, set for Sept. 28, will not be affected.

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Kristin Chenoweth Sends First Word Since Her Injury on the Set

Actress Kristin Chenoweth has offered the first update on her condition since she was injured two weeks ago in an accident on the set of “The Good Wife.”

E! News reports that the actress indicated she’s on the mend. Chenoweth put out a tweet saying: "To all my fans: thank you for support and love! Doin better everyday. More to come when im Able!"

She added: "I love you guys.xo. Sounds dramatic: but im thankful to be here. I love this life! And am grateful! GoodnIght XO"

As reported previously, Chenoweth was hit in the head by falling equipment during a shoot in New York.

E! News reports: “Fortunately, Chenoweth is healing, and she has no bad feelings towards the hit CBS show. ‘I miss the crew and cast of The Good Wife,’ she tweeted Tuesday. ‘Love u guys. Xoxo’"

She added in a tweet Wednesday morning: "Big doctor day today :)"

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HBO Ends Exclusive Deal With Oscar- and Emmy-Winning Producer

HBO has ended its exclusive deal with a high-profile producer -- the only producer who has won an Emmy, an Oscar, a Grammy and a Tony. TheWrap.com reports that the pay-cable network ended its deal with Scott Rudin.

Rudin, who was behind the feature film “The Social Network,” will continue to executive produce HBO’s “The Newsroom,” and will remain involved with the network on a number of other projects.

HBO said in a statement to TheWrap: “We have a number of projects with Scott. We are allowing Scott the flexibility to explore setting up some of the projects he brought to us elsewhere. With respect to the rest of our projects with Scott, including 'The Newsroom,' we look forward to our continued association.”

The report notes tht HBO scrapped the high-profile Rudin pilot "The Corrections" back in May. The project, based on Jonathan Franzen’s bestselling novel, would have featured a star-studded cast, including Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Dianne Wiest, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Rhys Ifans.

The story notes: “Among the other projects still in play between Rudin and HBO: The comedy pilot ‘All Talk,’ which Ben Stiller is attached to star in. The pilot, written by ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’ author Jonathan Safran Foer, will focus on a Jewish family living in Washington, D.C. The tone is described as ‘politically, religiously, culturally, intellectually and sexually irreverent.’"

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Ousted 'Community' Creator Readying Comedy for Fox

After being ousted from NBC's critically acclaimed sitcom "Community," show creator Dan Harmon is on the verge of inking a deal with Fox for a new comedy project, reports E! News.

“Though details of the new series are not yet known, we're told it's possible the show could be a multi-camera effort, unlike ‘Community,’ and Fox is close to closing a deal for Harmon to write the pilot,” the story reports.

Harmon was booted from “Community” in May and replaced by new showrunners Moses Port and David Guarascio.

A Fox insider told E! News: "They're still figuring out what the show would be. But Harmon is a free agent and they want to lock him down."

The new project would probably be produced by 20th Century Fox TV, the report notes.

The story adds: “Earlier this week, NBC President Bob Greenblatt made his first comments about Harmon's firing, telling reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour: ‘Every so often it's time to make a change with a showrunner and you evaluate the creative and how the show is run and how writing staff works. Sometimes you want to freshen a show and we just decided it was time to do that with "Community."’"

Harmon has a track record with Fox, co-writing the 1999 pilot “Heat Vision and Jack,” which starred Jack Black and Owen Wilson.

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MTV Renews Comedy, 'Supersizes' Episode Order

MTV is so happy with a teen-oriented comedy series that it is not just renewing it for a third season but also giving it a hefty expansion on its episode order, EW.com reports.

"Awkward," starring Ashley Rickards, received an order from the network for 20 new episodes, the story reports.

The first two seasons combined consisted of only 22 episodes (12 in season one, 10 in season two). Season two is currently airing.

The series tracks Jenna Hamilton (Rickards), who's living down the misconception that an accident she had was a suicide attempt. Other regulars include Beau Mirchoff, Jillian Rose Reed, Brett Davern and Nikki Deloach.

"Awkward" has been drawing an average of 1.8 million viewers a week in its second season, a 6% improvement from season one.

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Lifetime Orders Renee Zellweger Pilot

Lifetime has placed a pilot order for a new drama from Oscar winner Renee Zellweger, TheWrap.com reports. The female-skewing project is "Cinnamon Girl," co-created and written by Zellweger and Anthony Tambakis and directed by Gavin O'Connor ("Warrior").

Set in the late 1960s/early 1970s, "Cinammon Girl" is a coming-of-age story about four young women involved in the volatile, exciting music scene of L.A.'s Laurel Canyon.

Zellweger injected parallels with her own journey into the story, coming from a small town in Texas to Hollywood.

In a statement, Lifetime said the pilot will explore "the characters’ lives at the crossroads of the era’s political, artistic, social and sexual rebellions."

Zellweger won an Oscar in 2004 for "Cold Mountain."

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USA Network Continues Push Into Reality With Series Order for New Music Show

USA Network has its sights set on a stronger presence in reality programming, and as a step in that direction the network has ordered 10 episodes of “The Choir,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The new music reality series features Gareth Malone in the position of choir master, a position he had in the British incarnation of the show. Each episode will have Malone transforming unsuspecting communities through the creation of music groups.

Heather Olander, USA's senior vice president, reality development, said: "From our first meeting with Gareth, we were blown away by his ability to unite people through music. Comedic, unpredictable, emotional, the series taps into the heart of what we’re aiming for on the reality front and spotlights true American characters.”

When the project first was mentioned last November, "The Choir" was described by USA co-President Jeff Wachtel as having "a bit of a 'Full Monty' vibe to it."

The report notes: “’The Choir’ joins the Kurt Warner-hosted unscripted series ‘The Moment,’ which was picked up in January for nine episodes and centers on people who get a second chance at reclaiming career dreams that they put on hold when their lives got in the way. ‘The Moment’ launches next year.”

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CBS Corp. Shares the Wealth With Shareholders: Raises Dividend and Expands Stock Buybacks

CBS Corp. announced today that it has approved a 20% increase in stock dividends along with an expansion of its stock buyback program, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The moves come as the company, headed by CEO Leslie Moonves, continues to focus on shareholder returns.

“The decision brings the total amount authorized under the company’s share repurchase program to $4.7 billion, up 57 percent,” the story reports. “The board also voted to increase the company’s quarterly dividend by 20 percent to 12 cents per share. The next scheduled dividend is payable on Oct. 1.”

The company has already spent $1.7 billion on buybacks, and will now have $3 billion for additional buybacks, the story notes.

CBS Corp. said in its announcement: "The company intends to accelerate the pace of the newly expanded program and complete it by the end of 2014.”

Company stock was reportedly trending higher in pre-market activity this morning.

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Amid Contract Strife, 'Modern Family' Cast Expected to Show Up for Rescheduled Table Read

With a lawsuit pending between many of the cast members of ABC’s “Modern Family” and producers of the show, the key players appear to be prepared to get on with production of the upcoming fourth season.

Deadline.com reports that a new table read has been scheduled for Thursday morning and the cast is expected to show up. This news comes after the first table read for the new season, which had been scheduled for Tuesday, was scrapped because most of the major cast members were no-shows, as previously reported.

Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva reports: “I hear that the cast is expected to show up for the rescheduled table read in what is considered a good-will gesture on both sides with intent to resolve the salary dispute that escalated into a legal action on actors’ part that surprised and upset studio brass. I also hear that despite the lawsuit, the actors do not want to hurt the show that made them household names, thus their decision to go to work while the issues are being resolved.”

“Modern Family” cast members Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet and Sofia Vergara filed a lawsuit Tuesday against show producer 20th Century Fox Television in Los Angeles Superior Court in an effort to void their contracts, as we reported earlier today. Fellow cast member Ed O’Neill reportedly later joined the suit in a show of solidarity.

The suit reportedly focuses on California’s “7 Year Rule,” which prohibits personal services contracts for longer than seven years.

Andreeva reports: “I hear there has been no progress in the negotiations between actors and studio since the filing of the complaint yesterday, but no one believes ‘Modern Family’ won’t come back in the fall.”

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NBC's Olympic Ad Sales Set Record

NBCUniversal reported today that it has reached a milestone in its efforts to sell advertising time for the upcoming London Olympics. Sales have topped $1 billion, according to The Hollywood Reporter, already surpassing the network’s total sales for the 2008 Olympics.

“Sold across its six television networks (NBC, NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC, Telemundo and Bravo), its streaming website NBCOlympics.com, and mobile apps, it marks a record haul for Olympic broadcasts, and is $150 million more than NBCUniversal took in during the entirety of the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing,” the story reports.

Seth Winter, executive VP of sales and sales marketing for NBC Sports Group, said in a statement: "This feat is a testimony to the quality of Olympic programming and the unparalleled way NBCU presents, produces and covers the Games. It also demonstrates the power of the Olympics. No other property has such as diverse group of sponsors, who can target the broadest range of demographic and psychographic audiences. We are not done yet and will continue to sell during the Games."

Despite the cheery announcement, insiders say NBCU will lose about $200 million on the 2012 Olympics. “It is, in large part, being used as a platform to relaunch its new ‘Today’ show team, with co-host Savannah Guthrie, as well as its new primetime lineup, which could use some major assistance in the wake of its cellar-dwelling 2011-2012 season,” THR reports.

NBC will present two pilots commercial-free during the Games, the story notes: the Matthew Perry vehicle “Go On,” and “Animal Hospital.” Additionally, J.J. Abrams’ futuristic drama “Revolution” will have a six-minute preview during the coverage, as previously reported.

The report adds: “Among the buyers is President Obama's re-election campaign, with $6.5 million in ads secured already. On the flip side, GOP rival Mitt Romney's campaign has yet to purchase an Olympic-set ad.”

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Colorado Shooting Suspect Sent Drawings of Massacre to Psychiatrist Before the Theater Rampage

The suspect in the shooting rampage early Friday in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater that left 12 people dead mailed a notebook containing drawings of a massacre to a University of Colorado psychiatrist, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The package went unopened until after the attack, a law-enforcement official said.

James Holmes, 24, a Ph.D. student at the university, appeared in court Monday, appearing dazed and showing his red-orange-dyed hair. Formal charges are expected to be filed against him July 30, with prosecutors reportedly contemplating pursuing the death penalty.

“After Friday's attack, authorities discovered an unopened package in the mailroom at the University of Colorado that was mailed from Mr. Holmes to a psychiatrist, according to the law-enforcement official,” the story reports. “The drawings in the notebook apparently represented Mr. Holmes' plans, the official said.”

Other details about the notebook were not disclosed. The story notes that the court has issued a gag order in the case, limiting the information that is released by authorities.

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Newsweek Doing Spin Control After Barry Diller Comment Fuels Speculation the Publication Is Shutting Down Its Print Edition

Newsweek Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown is busy putting out fires after a comment by IAC Chairman Barry Diller sparked rumors that Newsweek is on the verge of pulling the plug on its print edition.

The Huffington Post reports that the speculation stems from a reference by Diller during an earnings call today to a print-to-online transition.

“Diller was asked if he has considered making the publication online only,” the story reports. "’The transition to online from hard print will take place,’ he answered. ‘We’re examining all of our options. Our plan is that, by September, October and certainly, uh, firmly have a plan in place for next year. It’s going be different than it is this year.’"

The comment triggered online posts indicating that Diller planned to take the magazine digital by this fall.

“However, IAC spokesperson Justine Sacco later clarified the comments, telling multiple reporters that Web-only was merely a possibility that he was considering along with others, and that he had been referring to a general transition for the media industry,” the story reports.

“Later, Brown also issued a memo to staff clarifying the remarks. ‘Barry Diller would like to make it clear that he did not say on the earnings call as reported that Newsweek is going digital in September,’ she wrote. She added that his observation about the surge of digital was ‘industry-wide’ and ‘uncontroversial,” the report adds.

The report notes that Diller’s company took sole control of Newsweek this week after it was announced Monday that the Harman family, with which IAC previously shared 50-50 ownership of Newsweek and Daily Beast, announced that it is pulling much of its funding from the two publications.

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Style Moves: Cable Net Gets Off-Net Rights to Drama Series, Renews Reality Show, Greenlights Spinoff

Style Media has announced a number of programming moves, Deadline.com reports. Among them, the company acquired off-network rights to the CW drama “Gossip Girl” from Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution.

The series will reportedly begin airing Aug. 15 at 8 p.m. on Style.

“The one-hour series, which will launch its sixth and final season on the CW in the fall, will air from 8-11 p.m. on Wednesdays and the network will air a marathon on Labor Day,” the story notes.

The company also announced a renewal for the reality show “Big Rich Texas.” The show’s third season will bow Oct. 7.

The reality franchise will be expanding with the spinoff “Big Rich Georgia,” scheduled to premiere in early 2013.

“Style also announced that new series ‘Betsey + Lulu,’ starring fashion designer Betsey Johnson and her daughter Lulu, begins filming next month and will premiere early next year,” the report adds. “Meanwhile, current series ‘Giuliana & Bill’ is set to return October 2 and ‘Tia & Tamera’ on October 22.

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Comedy Central Re-Ups Its Two Big Late-Night Stars

Looking to maintain the success of its late-night block, Comedy Central has extended the contracts of its stars of the daypart, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The network hammered out two-year extensions with both hosts -- keeping Stewart on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" at least through mid-2015 and Colbert on “The Colbert Report” through the end of 2014. Stewart’s previous deal was set to run out next summer, with Colbert’s due to elapse at the end of 2012.

The report notes: “The two shows have become a bright light in late-night ratings. During the current TV season, both shows on the Viacom Inc. network have expanded their audience in the key demographic of viewers age 18 to 49.

“That comes in contrast to the performance of broadcast stalwarts ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’ on NBC, and ‘Late Night with David Letterman’ on CBS, which have seen younger viewers flee.”

Stewart’s “Daily Show” has seen a 10% bump in the 18-49 demo from last year, with “Colbert Report” rising 11%. The measurement period is late September through the end of June, before the recent DirecTV blackout took effect.

Both shows are probably reaping rewards from the presidential election, with political satire a key element of each show, the report notes.

“Comedy Central said ‘The Daily Show’ now delivers more viewers age 18 to 49 (1.4 million) than any other late-night talk show on television,” the story reports. “Although not the top-rated shows at Comedy Central -- ‘South Park’ and ‘Tosh.0’ vie for that honor -- the two late-night programs have become key for branding the network and driving advertising sales.”

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Kristen Stewart Apologizes After Getting Caught Cheating With Her 'Snow White' Director

“Snow White and the Huntsman” star Kristen Stewart has issued a public apology to her boyfriend of three years, actor Robert Pattinson, after getting caught for a fling with “Huntsman” director Rupert Sanders, People magazine reports.

Stewart said in a statement released today: "I'm deeply sorry for the hurt and embarrassment I've caused to those close to me and everyone this has affected. This momentary indiscretion has jeopardized the most important thing in my life, the person I love and respect the most, Rob. I love him, I love him, I'm so sorry."

The story reports: “News of Stewart's infidelity with the 41-year-old, married director comes about four years after [Stewart and Pattinson] met while filming the first installment of ‘Twilight,’ the vampire smash that thrust them into the spotlight before the film even arrived in theaters. Buzz that they were a real-life couple took off almost immediately.”

The cheating scandal erupted when incriminating photos of Stewart and Sanders surfaced in Us Weekly.

“As Pattinson, 26, and Stewart, 22, have become increasingly open about their relationship, they've been photographed kissing and keeping cozy on date nights in Los Angeles,” People magazine notes. “Barely two weeks ago, the couple were all laughs at Comic-Con as they joked about their on-camera smooching scenes.”

kristen-stewart.jpgKristen Stewart


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Michael Jackson's Mom Loses Guardianship of MJ's Kids for Now, as Court Is Told She Has Been Held Against Her Will

Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine Jackson, has been temporarily stripped of her role as guardian of the late pop superstar’s children, as a family drama with many bizarre twists played out in court, TMZ.com reports.

Judge Mitch Beckloff this morning granted temporary guardianship of Paris, Prince and Blanket Jackson to TJ Jackson, the son of Tito Jackson.

The move follows a series of unusual incidents that included an accusation by Katherine Jackson that Michael’s siblings Janet, Jermaine and Randy were conspiring to take the children away from her, as we reported yesterday.

TMZ reports: “The judge said Katherine was not suspended for wrongdoing, but that she was prevented from doing her guardianship duties by ‘intentional act from third parties.’ In other words, the judge smells a rat in the form of Randy, Jermaine and Janet.”

Judge Beckloff also ordered that the children could not be taken out of California without a court order, the story reports.

A lawyer representing Michael’s children reportedly said in court that the children supported giving temporary guardianship to TJ.

The report adds: “TJ's lawyer said TJ had a strange phone call with Katherine yesterday and TJ said, ‘I've never heard my grandmother talk like that.’ TJ added, ‘She wasn't sharp. The pauses, choice of vocabulary ... she has not used certain phrases like that before.’ TJ thought she was talking in code. As TJ addressed the court, he was choking up.”

Among a number of odd revelations during the hearing, Sandra Ribera, the attorney for Katherine Jackson, said she had been to the house a number of times and believes that Katherine has been held against her will, the story reports.

Charles Schultz, TJ’s attorney, told the court there had been an “incident” last night at the home in Calabasas, which had escalated, TMZ reports. He also said TJ is uncertain that Katherine Jackson is acting voluntarily.

“Beckloff said this was not a power play by TJ and ordered the Michael Jackson Estate to give TJ the funds necessary to take care of security and anything else that's needed for the children,” the report adds.

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Anderson Cooper's Heart Is in the Right Place, But as a Reporter, He's Made a Big Mistake. Makes You Wonder -- What's Going on With His Bosses at CNN?

CNN's Anderson Cooper has announced a major new policy on his "Anderson Cooper 360°": deliberately only mentioning the names of suspects of heinous crimes as minimally as possible during the newscast. Please click here for a piece by TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross explaining the pitfalls of this policy.

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Hit Sitcom's Real-Life Drama: Cast of 'Modern Family' Files Suit Against Show's Producer

The situation at hit ABC sitcom “Modern Family” has gone from bad to worse, with word surfacing that several top cast members are taking their contract complaints to court, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“Modern Family” stars Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet and Sofia Vergara reportedly filed a lawsuit Tuesday against show producer 20th Century Fox Television in Los Angeles Superior Court in an effort to void their contracts.

THR reports: “The legal theory, according to sources who have seen the lawsuit, is that their deals violate California's ‘7 Year Rule,’ which prohibits personal services contracts for longer than 7 years. This tactic is a common one for actors who seek to void contracts during renegotiations for increased compensation.”

Production on season four of the show -- one of the highest-rated comedies on TV -- was supposed to start yesterday with a table read, which was canceled, as previously reported.

The cast has reportedly hired litigator Jeff McFarland to push forward with the case.

Cast member Ed O’Neill, who makes more money than his co-stars, has been staying out of it, but THR reports that O’Neill has decided to join with his castmates in the lawsuit.

The report notes: “O'Neill has his own salary beef with 20th TV but he is paid on a different track and was thus not involved in the original plans to sue. Yet O'Neill is said to want to join the suit out of solidarity with his cast, and once he is officially signed as a client by litigator McFarland, the suit will be amended to add O'Neill, according to sources.”

The main cast members have current contracts through season seven, but the report notes that renegotiations are par for the course between seasons three and four, “when casts of hit shows typically get bigger paychecks in exchange for agreeing to continue with the show beyond the seventh season.”

The report adds: “Sources tell THR the five cast members are being offered salary increases as follows: $150,000 per episode plus a $50,000 per episode bonus for season 4; $200,000 per episode for season 5; $225,000 for season 6; and up to $325,000 for an anticipated season 9. The cast is asking for much more, including more than double the offered salary if the show goes 8 or 9 seasons, as expected.”

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Celebrity Judge Appears to Be Leaving NBC's 'America's Got Talent'

In what’s shaping up as a “silly season” for TV talent show judges, another celebrity judge appears to be headed out the door. This time it’s Sharon Osbourne, who shook things up with a message indicating she’s leaving NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” MTV.com reports.

Osbourne tweeted Tuesday: “My darling @HowardStern, money is not the reason I'm not returning to @nbcagt, it's because ..."

Osbourne, who has been on the show since 2007, left it at that, with the thought incomplete.

NBC execs apparently were caught by surprise. The story reports: “According to the Associated Press, NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt told reporters at the Television Critics Association gathering on Tuesday that there was no warning from ‘The Talk’ host and wife of rocker Ozzy Osbourne.”

Said Greenblatt: "This is coming out of context and sort of spontaneously, and we don't even know what's going on. And it's probably much ado about nothing."

The report adds: “An unnamed person familiar with the production said Osbourne, 59, has a multi-year contract with the show, now in its seventh season.”

Osbourne’s post appeared to be a response to a tweet that appeared Monday on fellow judge Howard Stern’s account. That post said: "#AGT update: @HowardStern isn't sure if he'll do another season and says Sharon Osbourne may not come back unless she gets more money."

The story notes: “Stern joined the show this year, replacing departed CNN talk-show host Piers Morgan, joining a trio that includes old friends Osbourne and comedian Howie Mandel.”

The report adds: “Spokespeople for Osbourne and Stern did not comment on the controversy, while NBC entertainment president Paul Telegdy said that he was ‘thrilled’ with Stern's work so far on the show and that the network would be ‘delighted’ if the radio host came back for a second season.

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Chad Everett, Star of 1970s Drama 'Medical Center,' Dead at 75

Veteran TV and film actor Chad Everett, known for his long run as Dr. Joe Gannon on the 1970s CBS drama “Medical Center,” has died, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Everett died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles after a long battle with lung cancer. He was 75.

Everett appeared in 170 episodes of “Medical Center” from 1969-1976, receiving Golden Globe nominations in 1971 and 1973. He was a frequent guest star on television series, with appearances on "The Love Boat," "Murder, She Wrote," "Melrose Place" and many other shows.

He played a closeted gay police officer on "Cold Case," and appeared recently on "Supernatural" and "Castle."

On the big screen his credits included "Mulholland Dr.," "The Jigsaw Murders" and Gus Van Sant's 1998 remake of the Hitchcock classic "Psycho."

The article notes: “A conservative Republican, Everett made headlines in 1972 after going toe to toe with Lily Tomlin on ‘The Dick Cavett Show.’ Tomlin, a feminist, became outraged after Everett referred to his wife, horse and dog as his ‘property.’ A 1977 Time magazine profile on Tomlin says she was so infuriated that she ‘stunned even herself’ by storming off the set.”

Everett was married for 45 years to actress Shelby Grant, who died in 2011. He is survived by daughters Katherine and Shannon, and six grandchildren.

chad_everett.JPGChad Everett

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'Dark Knight Rises' Star Christian Bale Visits Victims of Aurora Shooting

The star of "The Dark Knight Rises," Oscar-winning actor Christian Bale, spent Tuesday in Aurora, Colo., where he visited with victims of the movie theater shooting, the Denver Post reported. Bale was at the Medical Center of Aurora for nearly three hours.

Bill Voloch, interim president of Medical Center of Aurora, told the newspaper, "The patients were really happy to meet Bale. They are obviously big fans of his movies. They wanted to see ‘Batman’ and were really pleased to see Bale.”

The newspaper reported that Bale was not there as part of a press visit planned by Warner Bros., which released the blockbuster, but made the visit on his own. Bale also met with doctors, police officers and emergency medical personnel who were first among the responders after the shootings.

Last Saturday, following the shootings early Friday during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises,” Bale issued a statement, saying, “Words cannot express the horror that I feel. I cannot begin to truly understand the pain and grief of the victims and their loved ones, but my heart goes out to them.”

In the wake of the shootings, in which 12 people were killed and another 58 injured, Warner Bros. canceled appearances by cast members at overseas premieres.

Bale, the star of the last three “Batman” movies, won an Oscar in 2011 for his supporting role in “The Fighter.”

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Is 'American Idol' Going Country? Show Has Another Superstar in Mind for Judging Panel

“American Idol” reportedly has its sights set on another singing superstar for the judging panel, after landing pop singer Mariah Carey for the upcoming season, according to Deadline.com.

This time the show is poised to go country, as it is considering bringing Brad Paisley aboard to fill one of the recently vacated spots, the story reports. Both Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez recently announced they wouldn’t be back as judges.

Paisley is one of the most successful male stars in country music, and is the 2008 CMA and ACM Male Vocalist of the Year winner.

The story reports: “Bringing in a country star as an ‘Idol’ judge appears logical since the show’s most successful winner to date, Carrie Underwood, is a country singer as are a number of other well-known ‘Idol’ finalists -- including last year’s winner Scotty McCreery and runner-up Lauren Alana.”

Paisley has performed on “Idol” in the past, and has relationships with both Underwood and McCreery -- touring with McCreery and recording “Remind Me” with Underwood.

A show that is a rival to “Idol,” NBC’s “The Voice,” has been successful with its own country star, Blake Shelton, appearing as a mentor, the report notes.

The piece adds: “Word is that original ‘Idol’ judge and Carey co-manager Randy Jackson will likely come back, while Fox is also toying with the idea of a four-judge panel that was phased out when Lopez and Steven Tyler were signed two years ago.”

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NBC Sports Net Rolls Out Plans for New Show -- a Faster-Paced Rival to 'SportsCenter'?

NBC Sports Network has taken the wraps off plans for a new sports highlights show, B&C reports. The program, “The ‘Lights,” will premiere Aug. 13.

The show will air in a two-hour morning block, 7-9 a.m., with 20 minutes of programming, updating as needed. It will feature video clips, graphics and voiceovers, but will not have an on-camera anchor, the story reports.

The show will lead off NBC Sports Network’s post-Olympics lineup, which will also feature “Sports Illustrated” and “NBC Sports Talk.”

Given the format, "The 'Lights" is seen by some as a potential rival to ESPN's established highlights and sports news show "SportsCenter," with the new NBC effort running through the previous day's sports at a faster pace.

In a statement, Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network, said: "We are very excited to launch NBC Sports Network's new programming schedule. 'The 'Lights’ will serve as a catalyst for our new programming lineup, and will quickly provide sports fans all of the scores and highlights they crave as they start their day."

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CW Rebrands, Rolls Out Sizzling New 'TV Now' Promo Spot -- Here It Is

The CW is freshening up its image, including rolling out a new “TV Now” tagline and unveiling a new promo clip, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The rebrand officially debuts in August, and will be featured on-air, online and on billboards.

The rebrand is tied to CW’s launch of new programming, including the fall shows “Arrow,” “Emily Owens, M.D.” and “Beauty and the Beast,” the story notes.

Said Rick Haskins, exec VP for marketing and digital programs for the youth-skewing network: "One of the things that we kept hearing was that this is a generation of people who say, 'I know what I want, when I want it, how I want it, and I want it now. We wanted this to be emblematic of who we are for them, and we are TV now."

The story adds: “The campaign, which plays on apt descriptors like ‘provocative’ and ‘seductive’ in association with CW series, will replace the net's years-old taglines: TV to ‘talk about,’ ‘blog about’ and ‘tweet about.’"

Here’s the clip:

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Chick-fil-A Pulls Jim Henson Toys Over 'Safety Issue' Amid Dispute Over Restaurant's Anti-Gay Stance

One day after the Jim Henson Company severed ties with fast-food chain Chick-fil-A in protest of anti-gay-marriage comments by the restaurant’s CEO, as previously reported, Chick-fil-A has pulled all Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Puppet Kids Meal toys from its outlets, the New York Daily News reports.

The restaurant chain appears to be characterizing the timing of the move as a coincidence, saying the toys were pulled because of a “safety issue.”

“The recall was purportedly in effect as of July 19 -- a day before the Jim Henson Company announced that it would end its partnerships with Chick-fil-A over its president’s anti-gay marriage statements,” the story reports.

Signs placed in the restaurants included the statement: “There have been some reports of children getting their fingers stuck in the holes of the puppets.”

The report notes: “On July 20, the Jim Henson Company said in a statement that it would no longer partner with Chick-fil-A and had donated its payment from the puppet kit promotion to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.”

Chick-fil-A President and CEO Dan Cathy sparked a firestorm with recent comments against gay marriage, telling the Baptist Press that the company is “guilty as charged” in its support for “the biblical definition of the family unit.”

The report adds: “Chick-fil-A has donated millions of dollars to groups such as the Marriage & Family Foundation and the Family Research Council, which oppose the legalization of gay marriage.”

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NBC Orders 'Dracula' Series, With 'Tudors' Star in Title Role

NBC is going straight to series with a 10-episode order for “Dracula,” Deadline.com reports. Taking on the title role will be Jonathan Rhys Meyers, recently seen on Showtime’s "The Tudors."

The story reports: “The series, from producers Tony Krantz and Colin Callender and writer Cole Haddon, is being produced for both NBC and U.K.’s Sky Living. It was originally bought by NBC in January with a ‘script-to-series’ commitment, meaning that it wouldn’t go through a pilot stage but straight to series if NBC brass liked the script.”

Krantz’s Flame Ventures, Callender’s Playground Entertainment, Universal TV and NBCU International Prods.’ Carnival Films & Television are producing the series.

“Based on an idea by Krantz, it is set in the 1890s and has been described as ‘Dangerous Liaisons meets The Tudors,’ which is fitting given that ‘Tudors’ star Meyers has been tapped to play the title role,” the story reports. “The new series reunites Meyers with NBC topper Bob Greenblatt, who cast the Irish actor in ‘The Tudors’ while running Showtime. As a producer, Greenblatt gave Meyers his first starring role in the CBS telefilm ‘Elvis,’ which was overseen by Universal TV EVP Bela Bajaria, then head of CBS’s movies and miniseries division.”

Said Bajaria: “It is a timeless tale with relevant, surprising twists and turns with the exquisite Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the marquee role.”

Meyers is also known for his work in feature films, including “Velvet Goldmine,” “Mission Impossible III” and “Bend It Like Beckham.” He won a Golden Globe for the TV movie “Elvis,” along with an Emmy nomination.

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Me-TV Network Adds Hearst Stations, Extends Clearance to 82% of Country

Weigel Broadcasting Co. and Hearst Television today announced an affiliation agreement that adds five Hearst markets to the Me-TV Network’s list of local station affiliates.

Joining Me-TV will be WCVB-TV, Boston; KCRA-TV, Sacramento; WBAL-TV, Baltimore; KOCO-TV, Oklahoma City; and WXII-TV, Greensboro. The deal brings Me-TV’s total number of Hearst station affiliates to 13.

Hearst also extended its existing Me-TV affiliate agreements to 2015.

The Me-TV Network now clears more than 82% of the country, with more than 128 affiliates.

Me-TV, “memorable entertainment television,” launched nationally in December 2010. The network is owned and operated by Weigel Broadcasting Co. and distributed by MGM Television.

Neal Sabin, President of Content and Networks for Weigel Broadcasting Co., said in a statement: "The Hearst television stations are terrific affiliate partners, providing cable distribution, terrific promotion and outstanding ratings achievement for the Me-TV Network. Adding five top stations in top 50 markets deepens an already successful partnership.”

The company’s announcement noted: “Me-TV features a wide range of programming which audiences and advertisers find comfortable and engaging. Me-TV’s library includes almost 100 series from Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution, CBS Television Distribution, NBCUniversal Television as well as many independent series owners and producers. Me-TV’s lineup includes some of the most beloved television programs ever produced, including: ‘M*A*S*H,’ ‘The Brady Bunch,’ ‘Green Acres,’ ‘The Beverly Hillbillies,’ ‘Perry Mason,’ ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show,’ ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show,’ ‘Gunsmoke,’ ‘That Girl,’ ‘I Love Lucy’ and ‘Hawaii Five-0.’”

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Newcomer Lands Lead in CBS Pilot From 'How I Met Your Mother' Producer

The lead role in the new CBS comedy pilot from former “How I Met Your Mother” exec producer Rob Greenberg has been given to a relative newcomer, TVLine.com reports.

Landing the lead in “Ex-Men” is Chris Smith, who is known mainly for the movie "Paranormal 3" and for guest roles on "30 Rock" and “The Office." He also had short runs on the TV series “Mayne Street” and “Fake It Til You Make It.”

“Ex-Men” will focus on an under-30 guy who's left at the altar by the woman he loves and re-evaluates his life. That involves a short-term lease in an apartment complex where a bunch of older, wiser and divorced guys proceed to become his friends and mentors.

chris-smith.jpgChris Smith

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1970s Sitcom Star Dead at 74

An actor who became a big television star in the 1970s through a long-running CBS sitcom has died, People magazine reports. Sherman Hemsley, known for playing the fiery George Jefferson on “The Jeffersons,” was 74.

Hemsley, who also starred as Deacon Ernest Frye on the NBC series “Amen,” died today at his home in El Paso, Texas.

“The Jeffersons” had a run of 11 seasons from 1975 to 1985, racking up a total of 253 episodes. Hemsley, who originated the role of George Jefferson on “All in the Family,” received an Emmy nomination for “The Jeffersons” in 1984 and was nominated for a Golden Globe for the role in 1985.

He went on to a long string of TV appearances, both as a series regular and in guest roles. Among them, he appeared a number of times on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “The Hughleys,” and had a run as Willie Goode in “Goode Behavior” in the late 1990s.

More recently, Hemsley played Boss on “Clunkers” and made a guest appearance on “House of Payne,” both in 2011.

Born in South Philadelphia, Hemsley moved to New York to appear on Broadway playing Gitlow in “Purlie.” “While touring with the production, television writer and producer Norman Lear contacted Hemsley to play the role of Jefferson on his new sitcom, ‘All in the Family,’” the story reports. “Hemsley hesitated to accept but Lear held the role open for him and two years later, Hemsley joined the cast.

“Less than two years after Hemsley made his television debut, he and ‘All in the Family’ co-star Isabel Sanford were given their own spin-off in ‘The Jeffersons.’” Sanford died in 2004 at 86, the story notes.

The report adds: “He was also a professional singer and released a single on Sutra Record called ‘Ain't That a Kick in the Head’ in 1989. In 1992, he released ‘Dance,’ an R&B album.”

sherman-hemsley.jpgSherman Hemsley

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Hit Sitcom Cancels Table Read as Stalled Contract Talks Begin to Take a Toll

One of the most popular comedy series on TV is struggling to get its cast signed to contracts for the upcoming season. Deadline.com reports that ABC’s “Modern Family” made a last-minute decision to cancel a table read that was scheduled for today, with the decision apparently linked to the contract impasse.

“The move comes as there was speculation that multiple cast members of the show wouldn’t show up for the read as the cast of the Emmy-winning comedy is in difficult salary negotiations with series producer 20th Century Fox TV,” the story reports. “The two sides have not been able to agree on a salary increase for the six adult stars of ‘Modern Family,’ who are largely negotiating together.”

The report notes that cast members cut back on their promotional appearances after upfronts, which is seen as standard procedure with salary talks under way. However, it’s unusual for the action to go as far as disrupting a show’s production schedule.

“The move resembles the strategy employed by the ‘Friends’ cast, who in the summer of 1996 threatened to boycott production of Season 3 of the hit NBC show unless they received salary increases to $100,000 each per episode,” Deadline reports. “It worked, and the sextet got what they wanted. (Their paychecks eventually rose to $1 million an episode apiece.)”

The report notes that similar situations have affected “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Malcolm in the Middle” in past years. “In contrast, ‘The Big Bang Theory’ cast kept working on the show as scheduled last summer while representatives secured big salary increases for the three stars,” the piece adds.

“Modern Family‘s” Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara have reportedly been earning more than $60,000 an episode, with Ed O’Neill closer to $100,000 -- along with a piece of the backend.

The story reports: “Word is the cast have been looking for ‘Big Bang’-size paychecks (the three stars of the CBS/Warner Bros. TV show, Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco, landed $200,000 an episode for Season 5 and built-in big increases for the following seasons). At one point it looked like the two sides could settle in the $150,000-an-episode range, but that has not happened, and there is an impasse in trying to close the money gap — which sources say is not that big.”

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Multiple Arrests in 'Dark Knight Rises' Incidents -- Massive Arsenal Uncovered

Arrests have been made in at least three separate incidents related to screenings of “The Dark Knight Rises,” the Associated Press reports.

In an incident in Maine, authorities put a massive arsenal of assault weapons and handguns on display after arresting Timothy Courtois, who was stopped for speeding.

Courtois, of Biddleford, Maine, reportedly told police that he was on his way to shoot his former boss, one day after he watched “The Dark Knight Rises.”

The story reports: “A police search of his car found an AK-47 assault weapon, four handguns, ammunition and news clippings about the mass shooting that left 12 people dead early Friday, authorities said.”

A later search of his home reportedly turned up a machine gun, a number of other guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Courtois told authorities he had seen the new Batman movie on Saturday, although it was uncofirmed whether he had actually attended the film.

Steve McCausland, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, said: "We don't know what his true intentions were. Based on the arsenal that was confiscated, we brought in our counterparts from the FBI and ATF to assist with the investigation."

Courtois was reportedly charged with speeding and possession of a concealed weapon.

Other incidents took place in Southern California and in Arizona.

“Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies were called to a cinema complex in Norwalk after moviegoers said 52-year-old Clark Tabor shouted: ‘I should go off like in Colorado,’" the story reports. “They said he then asked: ‘Does anybody have a gun?’"

Tabor’s outburst may have been triggered when the movie didn’t start on time, the report notes.

“A security guard saw Tabor with a backpack on his knees in the second row, but deputies who searched the bag, the theater and its surrounding area did not find any weapon,” the story reports.

At a showing of the movie in Sierra Visa, Ariz., the crowd panicked in response to a confrontation with a man who appeared intoxicated. The Cochise County Sheriff's Office said the confrontation caused "mass hysteria," prompting about 50 movie goers to flee the theater.

The story reports: “Off-duty Border Patrol agents tackled Michael William Borboa, 27, who had a backpack with him, according to The Arizona Daily Star. Authorities said it contained an empty alcohol container and a half-empty moonshine bottle.

“Borboa was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct, and threatening and intimidating.”

Even with some potential film goers nervous about the Colorado shooting, “The Dark Knight Rises” had a big opening weekend. “Warner Bros. reported that it brought in $160.9 million over the weekend, making it the third highest opening weekend ever, after ‘The Avengers’ and ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2,’” the story reports.

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Scarborough Clarifies Comment He Aimed at Aurora Shooting Suspect That Outraged Many

Updated headline and first paragraph at 8:53 p.m. (PT). Following the lead of THR, where we got this item, our original headline and first paragraph said Scarborough "apologized." In fact, what he did was clarify his remarks, as a number of commenters to this story noted. He did not apologize for what he said. So we have now corrected our headline and first paragraph to reflect the action Scarborough actually took.

Cable talk host Joe Scarborough has clarified comments he made about James Holmes, the suspect in the theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., that drew an outcry from autism advocates, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The story reports: “The former congressman and host of MSNBC's ‘Morning Joe’ has received criticism for remarks he made on Monday's show, in which he said that as soon as he heard that James Holmes, the alleged gunman responsible for the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado, was a young, white male from the suburbs, he thought that Holmes was one ‘these people that are somewhere, I believe, on the autism scale.’"

Scarborough, who has a son with Aspergers, got heat for conveying what some observers saw as an offensive stererotype of people who have autism.

The cable host issued a clarification today to the website Mediaite, saying: "The growing Autism epidemic is a tremendous burden for children, parents and loved ones to endure. My call for increased funding and awareness for Autism and other mental health conditions was meant to support the efforts of those who work every day to improve the lives of Americans impacted. Those suggesting that I was linking all violent behavior to Autism missed my larger point and overlooked the fact that I have a wonderful, loving son with Aspergers. Perhaps I could have made my point more eloquently.”

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VH1 Orders Second Scripted Comedy

VH1 has given a series order to its second scripted comedy, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The cable network ordered “Bounce,” which stars Dean Cain, Kimberly Elise and Charlotte Ross.

The network announced the order today for the series, which focuses on a fictional dance team, the Los Angeles Devil Girls, in the world of pro basketball.

“Written and created by James LaRosa, the series follows the lives of the dancers, the woman who runs the dance squad, the players and the team's coach and players,” the story reports.

“Bounce” is set to start production early in 2013. The series is executive produced by Maggie Malina and LaRosa, with Sanaa Hamri directing the pilot.

The order follows VH1’s order for “Single Ladies,’ also executive produced by Malina.

Jeff Olde, executive VP of original programming and production for VH1, said: "[‘Bounce’] has all the elements we know VH1 viewers love -- a world very much on the pop culture radar, an incredible cast and compelling, addictive storytelling. These are all set against a glamorous backdrop where amazing dance numbers organically break out as part of the story. We wanted to create a scripted series at VH1 in which music is a strong narrative force, and we have found that with ‘Bounce.’"

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NBC Pulling Out All Stops to Get Futuristic New Drama Off the Ground

NBC is going all-out for the launch of a high-profile fall drama series, Deadline.com reports. In plans unveiled today at the Television Critics Association press tour, the network revealed it will leverage its Olympics coverage to boost the kickoff of the futuristic “Revolution.”

NBC will air a six-minute teaser for the series on Saturday, Aug. 4, following swimming competition that is expected to include U.S. superstar swimmer Michael Phelps, the story reports.

The network will also offer the pilots for “Revolution” and other new series for sampling on a variety of digital platforms for two weeks before the shows debut on the broadcast network, the piece notes. Programming will be presented online and on demand by cable, satellite and telco providers, via NBC.com, on the websites by NBC-owned and NBC-affiliated stations, and through Hulu, iTunes, Amazon and Xbox, the story notes.

The piece adds: “Last month, NBC announced that two of its new fall comedies, ‘Go On’ and ‘Animal Practice,’ will get commercial-free previews during the Olympics -- the Matthew Perry-starrer ‘Go On’ on August 8 and the Justin Kirk-starring ‘Animal Practice’ on August 12, following the London Games’ closing ceremony.”

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MTV Brings Back 1990s Series -- Remember This Clip?

MTV today announced plans to bring back a show that was a staple on the cable network in the 1990s. USA Today reports that the channel is reviving “House of Style,” with new episodes set to launch Oct. 9.

The new version of the show will be “digitally driven,” the network says, with much of the content appearing online.

Cindy Crawford hosted the show in its early '90s heyday.

USA Today reports: “In case you missed ‘House of Style's’ glory days, MTV has also just posted a bunch of vintage clips. (They're impossible to find on YouTube.) Some classic moments include Crawford's interview with Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon about her X-Girl fashion line; the famous clip that shows supermodel Naomi Campbell putting zit cream on her face; and, oddly enough, a makeover segment with the late Dee Dee Ramone [see below].”

Here’s a sample of the 1990s show, with Dee Dee Ramone’s makeover:

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Clues Found in Katie Holmes Interview Conducted One Day Before Divorce Filing

In an interview Katie Holmes gave to C magazine on June 27 -- one day before Holmes filed for divorce from Tom Cruise -- the actress appeared flustered when asked about Cruise, the New York Post reports.

The story reports: “When asked if having daughter Suri, now six, brought her and Cruise closer together, Holmes became flustered. ‘I don't know. I mean.....I don't know,’ she responded, adding vaguely, ‘People have been having babies a long time.’"

Holmes, 33, never mentions Cruise in the interview.

The interview was conducted by C senior editor Kelsey McKinnon. McKinnon writes: "Going back over the tapes, there were signs: Holmes was certainly very aware of herself, laying a couple of cards on the table but never showing her whole hand."

McKinnon adds: "Most noticeably, the one name decisively absent from her lexicon: Tom Cruise. She never actually refers to him by name over pages and pages of transcription."

Holmes also hints in the interview that she’s ready for a new chapter in her life, the Post reports.

"I feel like I worked so much at such a young age that I really wanted to have life experiences,” she says in the interview. “I feel more balanced and like I have more to bring to the table. I always felt like I wanted to catch up [in my personal life] to what I was doing [in my career]."

The Holmes interview is the cover story for the September issue of C.


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Jackson Family Feud Heats Up: Michael's Mom Accuses His Siblings of Conspiracy, Ambush

After an alleged physical altercation at the home of Katherine Jackson, Michael Jackson’s 82-year-old mom, an attorney for the family matriarch gave her account of the fracas, E! News reports. The account says family members “ambushed” Katherine Jackson’s house in an apparent effort to separate Katherine Jackson from Michael’s children.

The statement today, read by Sandra Ribera, attorney for Katherine Jackson, said: "Yesterday afternoon certain Jackson family members ambushed Katherine Jackson's home after their vehicle tore security gates on the tails of the SUV containing Michael Jackson's children.

"After exiting their vehicles, Jackson family members ran up to Michael's children as they yelled and began to aggressively grab at the cell phones in their hands. Out of concern for the well being of Prince, Paris and Blanket Jackson, the children were forced to temporarily leave their home and taken to a safe location. An altercation ensued shortly thereafter and law enforcement arrived at the scene."

Janet, Jermaine and Randy Jackson were all reportedly involved in the incident.

The report notes: “The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department confirmed to E! News that its deputies were called to the Encino, Calif., enclave about 1:30 p.m. Monday to investigate a possible battery, but spokesman Steve Whitmore declined to name names.”

No charges have been filed, according to the report, which notes that the investigation is ongoing.

Ribera’s statement continues: "Following the incident, it was learned that one of the family members who was part of the ambush admitted that a plan has been in place for the last three years to remove Katherine Jackson from her home and her beloved grandchildren.

"Prince, Paris and Blanket Jackson have not heard from their grandmother since she left their home nine days ago to attend a series of her sons' concerts on their Unity Tour. She never made the shows. Despite efforts to interview Katherine Jackson at her current location in Arizona yesterday, Los Angeles County Sheriff's [Department] confirmed that they were denied access to Mrs. Jackson by security for one of her children."

As we reported Monday, Katherine Jackson was briefly the subject of a missing person report, before it was determined early Monday that she was safe with family members in Arizona.

Michael Jackson’s siblings are reportedly challenging the validity of his will, which leaves everything to his children under Katherine Jackson’s care and excludes his siblings, the E! News story reports.

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Mother of Colorado Shooting Suspect Says ABC News Mischaracterized Her Remarks

ABC News is defending itself after coming under fire over an interview it conducted with the mother of James Holmes, the suspect in the Colorado theater shooting that killed 12 people and injured dozens more, Deadline.com reports.

The news operation is standing behind its report on the telephone interview, which took place in the hours after the shooting early Friday in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater. ABC News producer Matthew Mosk conducted the interview.

“Holmes family attorney Lisa Damiani read a statement today at a news conference in San Diego on behalf of Arlene Holmes to clarify her remarks to Mosk, which she says were mischaracterized by ABC News,” the story reports. “Holmes said she was referring to herself, not her son, when she told Mosk ‘You have the right person’ when Mosk told her that a man he believed was her son had been arrested in the shooting.”

The report adds: “ABC News says Damiani contacted the network shortly before the news conference to determine if there was an audio recording of the conversation between Mosk and her client. After learning there was no recording, ABC News says Damiani read Arlene Holmes’ statement at the news conference.”

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Mariah Carey Reportedly Will Receive the Salary J-Lo Wanted for 'Idol' Gig

Jennifer Lopez reportedly walked away from her role as a judge on Fox's "American Idol" over money -- and now a source is reporting that Mariah Carey's deal with the show will pay her the $17 million that J-Lo demanded, according to TheWrap.com.

The report has not been confirmed, but a source close to the negotiations said the salary makes Carey the highest-paid judge on a television competition program. Fox would not comment on the story.

Fox is expected to announce the rest of the celebrity judging panel in a few weeks. In addition to J-Lo's exit, Steven Tyler also left the show after two seasons and will be replaced. Randy Jackson, who is the last original celebrity judge, may or may not return for another season.

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'Downton Abbey's' Stiff Upper Lips Get Loose for a Night -- and a Few of Those Tricky Period Buttons Open Up

The cast and creator of PBS’s acclaimed “Downton Abbey” offered insights into the show’s upcoming third season and toasted their 16 Emmy nominations in a presentation over the weekend that proved the show’s stiff upper lips know how to loosen up.

TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin tells all -- make that almost all -- including who stripped down to what, in her in-depth review of the proceedings. Click here to find out what went down and what’s coming up.

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Former 'CSI' Star Close to Joining NBC's 'Hannibal'

A former star of the CBS procedural “CSI” is close to joining the cast of NBC’s upcoming “Hannibal,” TVLine.com reports. Closing in on a deal is “CSI” veteran Laurence Fishburne, also known as Morpheus in the "Matrix" movies,

Based on Thomas Harris' "Red Dragon" novel, "Hannibal" deals with the character of Hannibal Lecter before his activities in "The Silence of the Lambs."

Fishburne would play Jack Crawford, the FBI agent who's running the Behavioral Science Unit that's tracking down a flesh-eating serial killer. In previous incarnations, the Crawford character was played in films by Scott Glenn ("Silence of the Lambs"), Dennis Farina ("Manhunter") and Harvey Keitel ("Red Dragon").

Bryan Fuller is heading up the NBC project ,which will have a midseason premiere. Hugh Dancy has already been cast as Will Graham, an FBI agent, with Lecter to be played by Mads Mikkelsen.

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ABC Tweaks Fall Schedule

ABC plans to move some shows around in its fall schedule, Deadline.com reports. The network’s new situation comedy "The Neighbors," originally scheduled to air after the hit "Modern Family" at 9:30 p.m. ET Wednesdays, will now likely be in the 8:30 p.m. ET time slot instead, the story reports.

That would mean that the sophomore comedy "Suburgatory" would get the post-"Modern Family" slot at 9:30 p.m. ET.

The reason for the switch has to do with the family element in "The Neighbors," a comedy from writer Dan Fogelman. He has written two animated successes, "Cars" and "Tangled," as well as Steve Carell's "Crazy, Stupid Love" and the upcoming Barbra Streisand-Seth Rogen mother-son comedy "The Guilt Trip."

Fogelman's family-friendly material would seem to mesh better with "The Middle," ABC's 8 p.m. comedy. Pairing that show with "The Neighbors" would give ABC the opportunity to promote a more kid-friendly hour than the typical network fare.

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Emmy Winner Kirstie Alley Hit With Lawsuit

Actress Kirstie Alley, an Emmy winner from her time on the classic NBC sitcom "Cheers," has been named in a lawsuit that claims she falsely promoted a weight-loss program that didn't work, reports TheWrap.com.

Marina Abramyan filed a suit in Los Angeles Superior Court last Friday alleging that Alley's Organic Liaison Weight Loss Program did not live up to its claims.

Abramyan's suit alleges that Alley and the weight loss program made "false and misleading advertising claims that the Organic Liaison Weight Loss Program can cause significant weight loss. Indeed, the advertising and marketing for the Organic Liaison Weight Loss Program creates the uniform, false net-impression that the product is an FDA approved weight loss product capable of easily causing significant weight loss and caused Defendant Kirstie Alley to lose a whopping 100 pounds."

The company's website, says Abramyan, declares that Alley lost 100 pounds on Organic Liaison. On the site, it also says, "I [Kirstie Alley] can assure you that if you follow this program, you'll get healthier, lose weight and not be 'annoyingly' hungry."

The suit goes on to state, "Ms. Alley's weight loss is not due to the Organic Liaison Program, but rather, is the result of an above average exercise regimen and extremely low calorie diet, including her time on the television program 'Dancing with the Stars,' where she spent five to seven hours a day exercising as part of the competition."

Alley was previously a spokesperson for another weight-loss program, Jenny Craig. She won an Emmy in 1991 for “Cheers,” one of five nominations she received for the show, and received another Emmy for CBS’s “David’s Mother” in 1994.

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Chord Overstreet Gets His Old Job Back at 'Glee'

Actor Chord Overstreet, who plays Sam Evans on Fox's "Glee," has closed a new deal with the show that will make him a series regular for the upcoming fourth season, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Overstreet was a regular on the show after joining midway through the second season, but then was not picked up for season three. In the interim he did a guest turn on ABC's "The Middle" along with some recurring spots on "Glee."

He will now be a regular again the Fox musical dramedy, as one of the characters who are still attending McKinley High.

The characters played by Lea Michele, Chris Colfer and Cory Monteith graduated at the end of last season, and while they'll still be part of the show, they are not members of the New Directions glee club.

Fox will have all 15 of the "Glee" series regulars from season three coming back in some fashion in season four. The show is set to premiere in a new night and time slot on Thursday, Sept. 13, at 9 p.m. ET.

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Appearance of White Powder Shuts Down Ryan Murphy's Offices

The production offices of "Glee" co-creator Ryan Murphy were shut down for a few hours Monday afternoon after a white powder was discovered in a piece of mail, reports Deadline.com. An office worker opened a letter that contained a white powder that spilled out.

The person sending the letter had asked Murphy to read his script.

The police were contacted and as a precaution, the offices on the Paramount lot were evacuated. A HazMat team investigated, and according to LAPD spokeswoman Karen Rayner, it was determined that there was nothing hazardous in the substance.

The office staff for Murphy’s shows "Glee," "American Horror Story" and "The New Normal" were allowed to return to work later in the day.

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First U.S. Woman in Space Dead at 61

The first American woman to travel to space died Monday, July 23, 2012, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, People magazine reports. Dr. Sally Ride was 61.

A statement on Ride's website said: "Sally lived her life to the fullest, with boundless energy, curiosity, intelligence, passion, commitment, and love."

Ride was 32 when she became the first American woman to go into space, boarding the Space Shuttle Challenger on June 18, 1983. She became not only the first woman, but also the youngest American to enter space.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden issued a statement saying, "Sally Ride broke barriers with grace and professionalism -- and literally changed the face of America's space program. The nation has lost one of its finest leaders, teachers and explorers. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sally's family and the many she inspired. She will be missed, but her star will always shine brightly."

After her time at NASA as special assistant to the administrator for long-range and strategic planning, she joined the University of California, San Diego, as a physics professor and director of the California Space Institute.

In 2001, Ride founded Sally Ride Science, an initiative that develops science programs and publications from upper elementary and middle school students. She is survived by Tam O'Shaughnessy, her partner for 27 years, her mother, sister and other family members.

sally-ride3.jpgDr. Sally Ride

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Fox Picks Up Pilot From 'Fringe' Creators -- Previous Versions of the Story Have Been Tackled by Tim Burton, Johnny Depp and Kaley Cuoco

"Fringe" creators Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci have had their latest project picked up by Fox, reports Entertainment Weekly. "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," an adaptation of the story of Ichabod Crane, was granted a put-pilot commitment by the network.

According to a spokesperson for Fox, Kurtzman and Orci's interpretation of the Washington Irving short story is set in the town of Sleepy Hollow, but theirs is a “modern-day supernatural thriller based on the 1820 short story.”

Tim Burton did a feature version of the short story in 1999 called "Sleepy Hollow" with Johnny Depp cast as Crane. ABC Family did a TV movie adaptation in 2004 called "The Hollow" with Kevin Zegers and Kaley Cuoco ("The Big Bang Theory").

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1980s CBS Crime Drama Heads to Big Screen With Denzel Washington in Lead Role

Two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington will receive $20 million to play a character based on the CBS crime drama "The Equalizer," reports Deadline.com.

The series ran on CBS from 1985-89 with Edward Woodward as Robert McCall, a former British operative who became a Robin Hood type trouble-shooter in New York City. The show was created by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim.

The Denzel Washington film will be tailored to his persona. His "Equalizer" will be a solitary man who lives a monastic lifestyle but helps those who have been victimized. The project is seen as the first in what is designed to be a series of “Equalizer” films starring Washington.

The film is set to start production in April 2013, produced by Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Steve Tisch, Alex Siskin, Mace Neufeld, Michael Sloan and Tony Eldridge.

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Former President of Motion Picture Academy Dies -- He Wrote One of the Movies' Most Iconic Lines

A veteran TV and movie screenwriter, director and producer who served as president of both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the Writers Guild-West has died, Deadline.com reports. Frank Pierson was 87.

“Gentlemanly yet ornery, meticulous yet creative, Pierson compiled a remarkable writing resume, starting in the 1950s with television shows like ‘Have Gun -- Will Travel’ and ‘Playhouse 90,’ followed by five decades of films like ‘Cat Ballou’ (screenplay by Walter Newman and Frank R. Pierson), ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ (screenplay by Frank Pierson), ‘A Star Is Born’ (screenplay by Joan Didion & John Gregory Dunne and Frank Pierson), ‘In Country’ (screenplay by Frank Pierson and Cynthia Cidre), and ‘Presumed Innocent’ (screenplay by Frank Pierson and Alan J. Pakula),” the piece reports.

Late in his career, Pierson was a consulting producer on AMC’s “Mad Men.”

Pierson created some movie lines that have become iconic quotes, the story notes. The Writers Guild pointed out one of them in a statement: “Odds are, all of you know the famous line he came up with while writing 1967’s ‘Cool Hand Luke’ (screenplay by Donn Pearce and Frank Pierson): ‘What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.’ The line was not in Pearce’s original novel. (‘The phrase just sort of appeared on the page. I looked at it and thought, “Now that’s interesting.”’ Pierson to the WGA described his process this way: ‘Sit down at 10 o’clock in the morning and write anything that comes into my head until 12. One of the few things I’ve discovered about writing is to form a habit that becomes an addiction so that if you don’t put something down on paper every day, you get really mean and awful with withdrawal symptoms, and your wife and your dog and your kids are going to kick your ass until you get back to it because they can’t bear you in that state of mind.’”

Deadline reports: “Pierson was born in Chappaqua, N.Y., and attended Harvard. (Pierson’s parents, family and their lives, were the subject of the 1945 film ‘Roughly Speaking,’ starring Rosalind Russell and Jack Carson.) He got his break in Hollywood in 1958 as scripted editor for ‘Have Gun -- Will Travel’ and moved on to write for the television series ‘Naked City,’ ‘Route 66’ and others. He went on to write or co-write many notable Academy Award-nominated films including ‘Cat Ballou’ and ‘Cool Hand Luke.’ It was ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ which won Pierson his Oscar.”

Pierson directed and worked on the screenplay for “A Star Is Born,” a project that produced notorious conflict behind the scenes. “The in-fighting on the film between himself, Barbra Streisand, her boyfriend/producer Jon Peters, and Kris Kristofferson led him to write the notorious and controversial article ‘My Battles With Barbra And Jon’ in New West magazine,” Deadline reports. “Many felt that his talking-out-of-school about Hollywood bigwigs irreparably damaged his career.”

Pierson was president of the Writers Guild of America-West twice, from 1981-83 and again from 1993-95. He was president of the Motion Picture Academy from 2001-05.

frank-pierson.jpgFrank Pierson

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DreamWorks Animation Acquires Casper, Lassie, Lone Ranger, Rocky & Bullwinkle and Much More

DreamWorks Animation SKG announced today that it will acquire Classic Media, a company that possesses the Golden Books library as well as legendary characters including Casper the Friendly Ghost, Where’s Waldo?, Lassie, the Lone Ranger, George of the Jungle and Rocky & Bullwinkle along with “Frosty the Snowman,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town,” reports Deadline.com.

The price was $155 million.

In a statement, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Chief Executive Officer of DreamWorks Animation, said: “Classic Media brings a large and diverse collection of characters and branded assets that is extremely complementary to DreamWorks Animation’s franchise business, and we plan to leverage it across our motion picture, television, home entertainment, consumer products, digital, theme park and live entertainment channels. Founders and co-CEOs Eric Ellenbogen and John Engelman -- seasoned executives with over 20 years of industry experience and a proven track record of success in managing high-quality content -- have built an amazing team at Classic Media and are a welcome addition to the DreamWorks Animation family.”

Ellenbogen said in the statement: “No company knows the family entertainment business better than DreamWorks Animation and we are excited to join their family in a natural extension of our long-standing relationship that began years ago on Mr. Peabody & Sherman. Classic Media brings to the table extensive rights to some of the most beloved family entertainment brands in the world. Our combination with DreamWorks Animation will expand the opportunities for us and for our content and distribution partners around the globe.”

Summing up the deal, Lew Coleman, DreamWorks Animation’s president and chief financial officer, commented: “As part of DreamWorks Animation’s ongoing diversification strategy, this acquisition combines our hit-driven business with Classic Media’s extensive and sustainable library revenue stream. We expect the transaction to be accretive to our earnings in the first full year following the completion of the acquisition.”

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New 'American Idol' Judge Is Confirmed

Fox has confirmed a high-profile celebrity who will be joining the judging panel for “American Idol” during the show’s upcoming season. USA Today reports that the job has officially gone to pop star Mariah Carey.

We reported this morning that Carey was close to a deal. Fox Entertainment boss Kevin Reilly made it official during the network’s presentation today at the Television Critics Association press tour.

Reilly reportedly called Carey from the stage during the presentation. Said Carey: "I am so excited to be on ‘Idol.’ I can't wait to get started in a couple of months."

The report adds: “But Reilly said ‘there's nothing else to confirm’ about the judges or tweaks to the format of the show, or whether Randy Jackson will return. ‘The ratings are down, but not being the only game in town, we need to keep things fresh.’”

As previously reported, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler have left after two seasons as judges on the show.

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'Missing Person' Case Surrounding Michael Jackson's Mom Turns Out to Be a False Alarm

After reports that Michael Jackson's 82-year-old mother Katherine Jackson had disappeared, it was confirmed this morning that she is safe and sound with family in Arizona, reports ABC News.

The family matriarch is resting and "safe with family members," an L.A. County Sheriff’s spokesman said. In a statement from Michael's brother Jermaine, it was revealed that the family member is Michael's sister, Rebbie, and Katherine is "resting upon doctor's advice."

Jermaine Jackson's statement continues, "It dismays me that such an alarmist ‘missing person’ report has caused unnecessary anxiety among Michael’s children who will understandably react to what they misunderstand, hear or are told.”

Apparently, Katherine Jackson left her Calabasas, Calif., home on July 15 and flew to Albuquerque, N.M., where she watched four of her sons in concert. Michael's daughter Paris was the one who tweeted that she could not locate her grandmother.

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Fox Renews Unscripted Show

Fox has announced its decision to bring back an unscripted show, Deadline.com reports. Coming back for a fourth season will be Gordon Ramsay's "MasterChef."

In a release, Fox’s head of alternative Mike Darnell said, “Gordon and the producers really took 'MasterChef' to a whole new level this year. The talent is absolutely fantastic, the competition is unbelievably intense, and it’s become one of the most compelling, heart-stopping hours on television.”

Paired in the schedule this summer with another Ramsay' food show, "Hell's Kitchen," "MasterChef" has improved in the Nielsen ratings by 8% in the 18-49 demographic, the report notes.

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Former 'Office' Regular Will Appear During the New Season -- Just Not Full Time

One of the fixtures of past seasons of NBC’s “The Office” will appear again during the show’s upcoming ninth season, reports New York Magazine.

Actress Mindy Kaling, who plays Kelly Kapoor, is out of the lineup as far as full time is concerned, as she will be focused on her own Fox sitcom, "The Mindy Project," the story notes.

But the writer/actress will appear in at least two episodes during season nine. Still to be determined is whether the show will write off Kaling’s character, having Kelly leave Dunder-Mifflin.

Kaling was set to appear today at the TV Critics Association summer press tour.

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ABC Dominates Sunday Night as 'Bachelorette' Finale Rises

ABC rode its “Bachelorette” finale and “After the Final Rose” post-mortem to a huge win against soft competition in Sunday night’s Nielsen overnights, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

The two-hour “Bachelorette” closer at 8 p.m. scored a 3.0 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, up 7% from last year’s finale. “The Bachelorette: After the Final Rose,” airing at 10 p.m., did even better, delivering a 3.2, up 14% from a year ago.

ABC coasted home to an easy win for prime time, averaging 2.6 in 18-49 to crush CBS (1.2 average), Fox (1.0), Univision (1.0) and NBC (0.9). ABC also came out on top in total viewers, averaging 7.9 million to top CBS (5.2 million), NBC (3.6 million), Fox (2.7 million) and Univision (2.7 million).

CBS broke out only one fresh program, “Big Brother,” which fell off 17% from a week ago, settling for a 1.9 in the 18-49 demo.

Fox had the “Teen Choice Awards,” which matched last year’s results with a 1.1 in 18-49.

NBC’s two-hour “Dateline” at 7 p.m. improved 25% on last week’s performance with a 1.0 in the 18-49 demo.

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'Glee' Adds Two New Characters

Two new characters will join Fox's "Glee" for the upcoming fourth season, Deadline.com reports. One is a love interest for Rachel (Lea Michele) and the other is Puck's (Mark Salling) half-brother, the story says.

Dean Geyer has been cast as Brody Weston, a young man Rachel meets in New York while attending NYADA. He's a student, too -- more advanced than Rachel -- and takes a shine to her.

Jacob Artist will play Jake Puckerman, Puck's bad boy little brother who decides to try out for New Directions, the McKinley High glee club. His attitude, apparently, gets in the way of his joining the club.

Season four of "Glee" bows Sept. 13.

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Why the Muppets Severed Ties With Fast-Food Company

The Jim Henson Company, creator of the Muppets, has cut ties with a fast-food restaurant chain, The Huffington Post reports. The chain is Chick-fil-A, and the move comes in response to comments by Chick-fil-A’s CEO in which he publicly came out against gay marriage, the story reports.

The Jim Henson Company was in a partnership with Chick-fil-A to feature toys from the Jim Henson's Creature Shop in the food company's kid's meals from mid-July to Aug. 18.

On Friday, using its Facebook page, The Muppets organization issued a statement that said: "The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors. Lisa Henson, our CEO, is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-fil-A to GLAAD."

Chick-fil-A boss Dan Cathy expressed opposition to gay marriage in a number of recent interviews, the publication notes. In one of those, he said: "I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,' and I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”

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High-Profile NFL Player Changes His Name Again

A controversial NFL player who has a knack for making headlines has announced that he’s changing his name and going back to his original name, CBS Sports reports.

Wide receiver Chad Ochocinco wants to be known from now on as Chad Johnson -- the name he went by before he changed his last named to Ochocinco, the story reports.

Using his own media outlet, the Ochocinco News Network, Johnson said, "Chad Ochocinco has officially changed his name back to Chad Johnson. The main reason behind the name change was due to his marriage to Evelyn Lozada. The couple preferred Evelyn's last name to be a real name and not the fun 'Ochocinco' character we have come to love."

Johnson, a former top NFL star who had a poor showing with the New England Patriots last season, is seeking to resurrect his career with the Miami Dolphins. He is currently working out with the team, has been signed to a deal and is expected to go through the preseason with the team.

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NCAA Slams Penn State With $60 Million in Fines and Takes Away All of the School's 112 Football Victories Over a 14-Year Period. Four-Year Postseason Ban Also Imposed

"The NCAA slammed Penn State for the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal Monday with an unprecedented series of penalties, including a $60 million fine and the loss of all the school's victories from 1998-2011, knocking Joe Paterno from his spot as major college football's winningest coach," the Associated Press reports. 

The story continues, "Other sanctions include a four-year ban on postseason games that will prevent Penn State from playing for the Big Ten title, the loss of 20 scholarships per year over four years and five years' probation. The NCAA also said that any current or incoming football players are free to immediately transfer and compete at another school."

The AP story notes that "Sandusky, a former Penn State defensive coordinator, was found guilty in June of sexually abusing young boys, sometimes on campus. An investigation commissioned by the school and released July 12 found that Paterno, who died in January, and several other top officials at Penn State stayed quiet for years about accusations against Sandusky."

The article continues, " 'Football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people,'  [NCAA President Mark] Emmert said. By vacating 112 Penn State victories over a 14-year period, the sanctions cost Paterno 111 wins. Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden will now hold the top spot in the NCAA record book with 377. Paterno, who was fired days after Sandusky was charged, will be credited with 298 wins."

The story adds that Penn St. has already agreed not to fight the sanctions.


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Report: When Tribune Emerges From Bankruptcy, the Company Could Be Broken Up. If You've Got a Spare $3 Billion, Those Tribune TV Stations Could Look Mighty Attractive

With a judge recently approving the plan for the Tribune Co. to emerge from bankruptcy, " its flagship newspaper is likely to go on the sales block, but that's not all. A host of other Chicago assets in the Tribune media empire, from WGN Radio to Chicago magazine to the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower itself, could be offered to buyers who have circled the properties for years."

So says Crain's Chicago Business. [Both Crain's Chicago Business and TVWeek are owned by Crain Communications.) 

That would include the possible sale of Tribune's TV stations. The company lists 24 TV properties on its website, including WPIX in New York, KTLA in Los Angeles, WGN in Chicago, WPHL in Philadelphia, KDAF in Dallas and WDCW in Washington, D.C.

Deadline.com has written that "Tribune has valued its TV stations at $2.9 billion." Furthermore, Deadline notes, "Many observers expect the company to break apart and sell its assets, including stakes in the Food Network and Career Builder which are estimated to be worth more than $2 million.... but its newspapers have plunged to a value of about $623 million."

The Crain's Chicago Business article says, "The three largest new Tribune owners will be investment firms Oaktree Capital Group LLC of Los Angeles and Angelo Gordon & Co. of New York, as well as New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co. Oaktree will hold the biggest stake, at 22 percent. Delaware Bankruptcy Court Judge Kevin Carey gave initial approval to Tribune's reorganization plan on July 13, putting the company on a path to exit Chapter 11 protection next year or late this year.

"Although Angelo Gordon owns other newspaper companies, and Oaktree has purchased debt in other broadcast outlets, both companies typically don't hold assets long term. Instead they maximize investments through quick sales or initial public offerings. Because the IPO market has been weak, piecemeal sales are more likely."

To read the entire Crain's Chicago Business story, please click here.

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Why Can't New Yahoo CEO Take a Real Maternity Leave?

"Yahoo’s choice of Marissa Mayer as its new chief executive broke the proverbial glass ceiling that prevented women from heading large companies while pregnant. Mayer promised that when her child arrives she’s going to take just a few weeks of maternity leave, and she’ll 'work throughout it.' That’s great for Yahoo shareholders, but how great will it be for her or her baby?"

So writes staff reporter Deborah Kotz in today's [July 23, 2012] Boston Globe.

Kotz continues, "I’m not sure Mayer will really understand the reality of intense sleep deprivation until she’s having her own sleep interrupted three or four times a night for weeks on end."

The story adds, "What’s sad, though, is the lack of recognition and respect given to female corporate bigwigs who take maternity leave and completely immerse themselves in caring for their baby."

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Two More Movie Critics Check in on the Movie Theater Killings. In This Case Both Think Violence in Movies is Part of the Problem

Two more movie critics, Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times, and Mick LaSalle, the San Francisco-based movie critic for Hearst Newspapers, have checked in with reactions to the killing of 12 people during a screening of the latest Batman movie in Aurora, Colo. last week.

"it is impossible to be surrounded by the 21st century's blood-soaked cinematic culture and not wonder what effect it's having on us, writes Turan in the Los Angeles Times. He continues, "If these questions sound familiar, it's because they are. They get raised every time an atrocity like the one in Aurora takes place, and the movie business' response is always the same: Not us, we're not to blame, it's someone else's fault.

"Hollywood is not alone in this attitude. The makers of ultra-violent video games say they're not to blame either. The hard-core opponents of gun control also insist the fault lies elsewhere, that the ease with which the very people who shouldn't have guns can get their hands on them couldn't possibly be a factor in any of this. Sometimes one or all of these parties point at struggling parents and say that lax modern parenting is what's at fault, as if these beleaguered folks had complete control over a culture run amok."

Then Turan says, "The reality, of course, is that this problem is so big and so pervasive that everyone, including the movie business, has to shoulder a part of the blame if there is to be even a hope of getting it under control."

For his part LaSalle, writing at SFGate.com, says, "The shooting in Colorado is a tragedy, and the murderer is the sole person responsible for it. But . . . Can we at least consider the possibility that our movies have become a feedback loop for national neurosis, celebrating it, glorifying it and nourishing it?"

Earlier last week two other movie critics, Roget Ebert and the New Yorker's Anthony Lane, wrote that violence in movies had no connection to the killings.

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TCA Report #1: Program Resurgence at PBS

The folks from PBS spoke to the nation's TV critics over the weekend as part of the summer portion of the TV Critics Association tour, and our friend Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter was impressed.

Writes Goodman: 'PBS seemed dowdy and unsexy. But that all changed with 'Downton Abbey,' of course, and now with season two garnering a whopping 16 Emmy nominations there seems to be a halo effect for the rest of the programming.

"PBS has 58 total nominations -- more than NBC, ABC, Fox, FX, AMC, Showtime, etc. Even channels that could arguably be PBS’ main content competition – Discovery, History and BBC America – could only come up with a combined 31 nominations, and 16 of History’s 17 nominations were for 'Hatfields & McCoys.'

Besides praising the PBS series "Sherlock," Goodman adds, "[T]he combination of 'Masterpiece Classic' and 'Masterpiece Mystery!' -- where PBS is presenting some of its very best work -- give viewers Inspector Lewis, 'Endeavour' (the prequel to the Inspector Morse series which did huge numbers in England and is likely to be renewed) and 'Wallander' with Kenneth Branagh. These are all series of high quality that prove that, creatively, PBS is a major player in the drama arena.

'In the three seasons since 'Masterpiece Theater' was relaunched as simply 'Masterpiece' (with 'Classic,' where 'Downton Abbey' resides, 'Mystery!' and 'Contemporary'), ratings have increased. Rebecca Eaton, executive producer of 'Masterpiece,' said viewership rose 15 percent the first year, 45 percent the second year “and a dazzling 107 percent increase this past year,” Eaton said, as proud as ever. “This is not just the 'Downton' effect. This is the 'Sherlock' effect, the 'Lewis' effect, the 'Marple' effect and the 'Wallander' effect.”

Goodman continues, "PBS should nevertheless take every available opportunity to get fresh faces looking at what 'Frontline,'  'Nova,' 'American Masters' and 'American Experience' have to offer as well, since those stalwarts have consistently produced some of the best content on television."


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TCA Report #2: Date Set for New Ken Burns Documentary; American Master David Geffen Explains Why a Dreamworks Studio Could Not be Started Today

During PBS' portion of the Television Critics Association tour over the weekend it was announced that award-winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns will have have a new documentary on PBS stations November 18-19, 2012.

Burns new documentary is called "The Dust Bowl," and the two-part, four-hour program --according to PBS -- "[C]hronicles the environmental catastrophe that, throughout the 1930s, destroyed the farmlands of the Great Plains, turned prairies into deserts and unleashed a pattern of massive, deadly dust storms that for many seemed to herald the end of the world. It was the worst manmade ecological disaster in American history."

PBS also announced that in 2014 another Burns documentary, the seven-part "The Roosevelts: An Intimate History," will air.

David Geffen, who will be the subject of an upcoming "American Master" program on PBS was also at the PBS part of the press tour.

According to Deadline.com, "Geffen said today it would be 'impossible' to raise the $2 billion financing that formed the original DreamWorks which he co-founded back in 1994 with [Steven] Spielberg and [Jeffrey] Katzenberg as the first new Hollywood studio in 50 years. 'I don’t think it can be done today for a start-up. I don’t think anyone can raise $2 billion, I couldn’t do it today.' "

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Report: Mariah Carey Close to Signing Deal to Be 'Idol Judge'; She'll Be Paid Even More Than JLo Made on Show

"Mariah Carey is finalizing a deal to join Fox’s 'American Idol' as a new judge," writes our friend Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com, adding, "I hear Carey would command a salary of more than $17 million for next season, which would set a new record for talent on a reality series, eclipsing the paycheck of 'Idol‘s' Jennifer Lopez."

Andreeva continues, "I hear Fox moved quickly to secure Carey, who was previously courted for the network’s other singing competition, Simon Cowell’s The X Factor, as Idol has to set its taped auditions."

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'The Vampire Diaries' and 'Pretty Little Liars' Are The Big TV Winners at the Teen Choice Awards. We Have the Complete List of Winners

"The Vampire Diaries," seen on The CW, and "Pretty Little Liars," seen on ABC Family, were the big TV winners at the Teen Choice Awards broadcast on Fox on Sunday, July 22, 2012.

To see the complete list of Teen Choice Award-winners, please click here.

"The Vampire Diaries" won five awards, for Best TV Show (sci-fi/fantasy), and for actors Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder, Michael Trevino and Candice Accola. 

"Pretty Little Liars" won four awards, for Best TV Show (drama), and for actors Troian Bellisario, Ian Hale and Lucy Harding.

Fox's "Glee" won for Best TV Show (comedy).





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Report: Twitter and NBC in Olympics Partnership

Twitter employees "will spend 20 hours a day to help corral millions of Twitter messages from Olympic athletes, their families, fans and NBC television personalities into a single page on Twitter.com," reports The Wall St. Journal, adding, "Twitter's Olympics hub, part of a partnership between the San Francisco company and Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal that will be announced as early as Monday [July 24, 2012], is one of the first times Twitter will serve as an official narrator for a live event. NBC will tout the website with on-air promotions and links to athlete interviews or video clips."  [Note: the WSJ is behind a firewall and may ask you to pay to see its story.]

The story continues, "With the partnership, Twitter hopes to use the Olympics as a launch pad into a more sustainable business....[E]xecutives want the six-year-old service to find a larger audience, especially amid doubts about Twitter's ability to become a serious money maker."

The article adds, "NBC said no money is changing hands in its Twitter partnership and that it won't share in revenue from ads that Twitter is selling to Olympics sponsors for its Games website. Brands such as General Electric Co.and Procter & Gamble Co already have bought ads on Twitter to promote their association with the Olympics."


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One Victim of Theater Shooting Worked at Local Denver-Area Radio Station; She Barely Avoided a Mall Shooting a Month Ago

Jessica Ghawi, 24, who went professionally by the name of Jessica Redfield, was one of the 12 victims of the shooting massacre at a movie theater in Aurora, Col, early today, July 20, 2012, according to a number of media reports.

She worked for Mile High Sports in the Denver area, which has an an and fm station as well as a website.

Ironically, "By just minutes, Jessica Ghawi escaped a mass shooting in Toronto [on a Saturday] just last month.She chronicled that experience on her blog," reports NPR. "She wrote that at 6:20 p.m., she bought a burger but instead of sitting down to eat it at the Eaton Centre [mall] food court, she went outside to get some fresh air.'The gunshots rung out at 6:23,' she wrote. 'Had I not gone outside, I would've been in the midst of gunfire.' "

Ghawi continued about hier close brush with death, "I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders' faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don't know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath."

The NPR story says the according to Jordan Ghawi, Jessica's brother, the shooter at the theater in Aurora "opened fired and Jessica took one shot and then another which 'appeared to strike her head.'

A personal remembrance about Ghawi, by Jesse Spector of the Sporting News can be found here. Another remembrance by a colleague of Ghawi's at Mile High Sports can be found here. Jordan Ghawi also talks about his sister on his website, if you click here

. Jessica Redfield.jpg

Jessica Ghawi (Redfield)

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Movie Critics React to Shooting: Roger Ebert 'Not sure there is an easy link between movies and gun violence.' New Yorker Critic Says, 'No film makes you kill'

Two major movie critics have checked in with reactions to the shooting of 70 people today during a screening of the new Batman movie in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.

Roger Ebert, perhaps the best known movie critic in the U.S., said in an op-ed piece posted on The New York Times website: "I’m not sure there is an easy link between movies and gun violence. I think the link is between the violence and the publicity. Those like [the alleged shooter] James Holmes, who feel the need to arm themselves, may also feel a deep, inchoate insecurity and a need for validation. Whenever a tragedy like this takes place, it is assigned catchphrases and theme music, and the same fragmentary TV footage of the shooter is cycled again and again. Somewhere in the night, among those watching, will be another angry, aggrieved loner who is uncoiling toward action. The cinematic prototype is Travis Bickle of 'Taxi Driver.' I don’t know if James Holmes cared deeply about Batman. I suspect he cared deeply about seeing himself on the news."

Likewise, Anthony Lane, who reviews movies for The New Yorker, posted a piece on that magazine's website today that said, in part, "We have been here before, many times; once, very specifically, when John Hinckley, Jr., became fixated on 'Taxi Driver,' which came out five years before Hinckley attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan. What holds true then remains the case today: no film makes you kill. Having a mind to kill, at least in any systematic fashion, means that your mind is ready-warped; that the warping may well have started long before, perhaps in childhood; and that you may perhaps seek out, or be drawn to, areas of sensation—notably those entailing sex or violence—which can encourage, inflame, or accelerate the warping. Whatever we learn of the Aurora murderer, whatever he may profess, and whatever the weaponry, body armor, and headgear that he may have sported, and however it seems like a creepy match for what is worn, by heroes and villains alike, in the Batman movies—despite all that, he was not driven by those movies to slaughter."

Lane adds, "What we can say, for now, is simply this: he took advantage of those movies. He knew that 'The Dark Knight Rises' was not just a film; that it had become, as the studios like to say, and as the press is only too happy to echo, a 'movie event'...His actions needed no model in a fictional monster, just a profound hostility to regular folk who had gathered, en masse, with their friends and their sodas, to have fun. The screen gave him a stage."

Ebert says in his piece that alleged shooter "James Holmes must also have been insane, and his inner terror expressed itself, as it often does these days, in a link between pop culture and firearms. There was nothing bigger happening in his world right now than the new Batman movie, and in preparation for this day, or another like it, he was purchasing firearms and booby-trapping his apartment. When he was arrested after the shootings, he made no attempt at resistance. His mission was accomplished."

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Christopher Nolan, Writer-Director of Rebooted 'Batman' Movies, Issues Statement on Theater Shooting

Christopher Nolan, who is the writer-director of the rebooted 'Batman' movie trilogy, has released a statement about the shooting today during a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" that killed 12 people in Aurora, Colorado, reports TMZ.

Here's the entire statement:

"Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of 'The Dark Knight Rises', I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community.

"I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime.

"The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me.

"Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families."

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Colorado Shooting Suspect Identifies Himself as the Joker

The suspect in a deadly shooting spree early today inside an Aurora, Colo., movie theater has identified himself as “The Joker,” according to some media reports, although Aurora authorities refused to comment on the claim, the Denver Post reports.

A number of media outlets are quoting New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who said: "We have some information, most of it is public. It clearly looks like a deranged individual. He had his hair painted red, he said he was 'The Joker,' obviously the 'enemy' of Batman."

Update at 2:26 PM PT: CNN has now confirmed Commissioner Kelly's information with "a federal law enforcement source with detailed knowledge of the investigation."

The suspect, James Holmes, allegedly went on a shooting spree during a screening of the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” as reported previously.

According to an L.A. Times report of a midday press conference in Aurora, "The gunman...had an assault rifle, a shotgun and two Glock pistols, state and local officials said....He wore a tactical armored vest, throat protector, groin protector, a gas mask and a ballistic helmet."  

Witnesses to the attack said the shooter was dressed in all black.

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Theater Shooting Will Unite Ann Curry and Savannah Guthrie on 'Today'

In the wake of the deadly shooting early Friday in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., one intriguing media twist being reported is that two hosts of the “Today” show who have been making headlines at NBC will be reunited, TMZ.com reports.

“Ann Curry has been tapped to co-anchor ‘Today’ this weekend along with Savannah Guthrie ... the woman who replaced her as co-host of ‘Today earlier this month,” the story reports.

The report says NBC is sending both Curry and Guthrie to colorado to provide "special coverage" of the shooting aftermath. “Today” host Matt Lauer will not be sent along, the report notes.

Curry wrapped up her tenure on “Today” June 28, with Guthrie officially taking over July 9, the story notes.

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Security Is Ramped Up at Movie Theaters in Wake of Shooting

Security has been beefed up at screenings of the new Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” after a gunman went on a rampage at a Colorado theater early this morning, the Associated Press reports. Meanwhile, movie theater owners are scrambling to reassure the public that safety is a major concern.

With the eagerly anticipated movie expected to be one of the biggest box-office openings of the year, many movie goers were unfazed by the shooting spree while others admitted to being nervous about attending the film.

As previously reported, a suspect was in custody in the shooting in Aurora, Colo., which left 12 people dead and 58 others injured.

“Two police officers were stationed outside the AMC theater in New York's Times Square, which had showings of the Batman movie beginning every 20 minutes. Later in the day, the officers gave way to a police cruiser that was parked out front with an officer in it,” the story reports.

Said Jimmy Baker, 40, of Harlem, who waited in line for about three hours: "I just felt bad for the people that had to be traumatized by this entire event. [But] I didn't feel like it had any kind of effect on me. ... I'm just here to enjoy a good movie."

“Stephanie Suriel, 21, of Brooklyn, waiting outside the same theater, said her mother was slightly concerned about her going to see the film. But ‘I'm not nervous at all because I really want to see that movie,’" the story reports. “Still, just to be safe, she said, ‘I'm going to sit in the back.’"

At a multiplex in Washington, D.C., employees of the theater searched movie goers’ bags and purses while collecting tickets for the 11 a.m. screening of the movie, the story reports.

Said Steve Glaude, 57: "I'm believing that [the shooting is] not related so much to the movie. The movie may have been a trigger. It may not have been. We don't know. I don't think it was hero or villain emulation."

Meanwhile, Deadline.com reported that theater owners released a number of statements addressing security issues. The website reported that AMC theaters "will not allow any guests into theaters 'in costumes that make other guests feel uncomfortable and we will not permit face-covering masks or fake weapons inside our buildings.’ Said the chain: 'We’re reinforcing our security procedures with our theatre teams, which we cannot discuss in detail for obvious, safety reasons. Local law enforcement agencies, our landlords and their and our local security teams are stepping up nationwide to ensure we provide the safest environment possible for our guests. We couldn’t be more grateful for their collective support.' AMC said it is not amending any of the circuit’s screening schedules for 'The Dark Knight Rises' but it will exchange or refund tickets for the movie."

Deadline reported separately that the Regal movie theater chain said, "We are profoundly saddened by the tragedy that occurred at a Denver area theatre and are concerned for the victims and their families. The security and safety of our guests and staff is always our number one priority. As is our custom, we will continue to monitor the situation and adjust our security needs as necessary. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families."

According to another Deadline report, the National Association of Theater Owners said: “On behalf of all the members and staff of the National Association of Theatre Owners, our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of this despicable act and their families. We are grateful for the quick and effective response by police and emergency personnel. Guest safety is, and will continue to be a priority for theater owners. NATO members are working closely with local law enforcement agencies and reviewing security procedures.”

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Warner Bros. Pulls Trailer From 'Dark Knight Rises' Screenings -- Clip Includes Armed Assault on Movie Theater

Warner Bros. has confirmed that it has pulled the trailer for an upcoming action film from screenings of the new Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” in the wake of the shooting rampage today in Aurora, Colo., E! News reports.

The trailer for the movie “Gangster Squad” hits too close to home, depicting a scene in which a number of armed attackers open fire in a movie theater. As reported earlier, a heavily armed gunman opened fire during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” early today, killing at least 12 people.

Efforts to find the "Gangster Squad" trailer online gave the impression that the company has been removing it from the Web wherever possible.

“Gangster Squad,” starring Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin and Emma Stone, focuses on LAPD efforts to keep the Mafia out of L.A. in the 1940s and 1950s.

“The clip shows those inside the theater panicking and screaming as machine guns are shot,” the story reports.

“Contrary to some reports, however, Warners tells E! News that the ‘Gangster Squad’ clip did not run before the packed midnight ‘Dark Knight Rises’ showing in Aurora before the massacre,” the report adds.

In another development, the report notes that Warner Bros. canceled today’s Paris premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises.” The company also released a statement saying the studio and the filmmakers are "deeply saddened to learn about this shocking Incident. We extend our sincere sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims at this tragic time."

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Why Denver? Local Newspaper Runs Editorial About Two Tragic Mass Killings -- Today's Shooting at a Movie Theater and the 1999 Massacre at Columbine High

The Denver Post published an editorial today that begins, "For the second time in little more than a decade, metro Denver has been convulsed by a mass murder of calculated and methodical viciousness, an act so pointless and incomprehensible that it leaves us all shaken and bewildered."

The editorial, titled, "Grieving another horrifying act of terror," is about the massacre today that has left 12 people dead at a Denver-area movie theater, as well as about the 1999 attack at Columbine High School, also in the Denver area, that left 13 people dead.

Says the editorial, "Some people are probably going to wonder whether Colorado is especially prone to incubate murderous madmen -- for lack of a better description -- who seek out innocent targets in public venues given the array of incidents in recent years. Since 2006 alone, we've seen a 53-year-old drifter take six female students hostage at Platte Canyon High School, killing one before he killed himself; a troubled 24-year-old shoot two parishioners at New Life Church in Colorado Springs after having killed two other people the night before at a training center for Christian missionaries in Arvada; and a 32-year-old open fire on students at Dear Creek middle school in Jefferson County before seventh-grade math teacher David Benke tackled and subdued him.

The editorial concludes, "We suspect these incidents say more about modern reality, however, than they do about Colorado. Sick, cruel or desperate people nursing grievances have taken to seeking some sort of bizarre fulfillment in public acts of terror, scripting their final acts for maximum impact.

"Have they been desensitized to violence by modern popular culture? Are the social networks that traditionally might have offered support or steered them in another direction frayed or absent? These and many other questions must be addressed in the coming days and weeks. In the present moment, however, Colorado and the nation are focused mainly on grieving over yet another mass shooting that has torn so many hopes and dreams apart."

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Pressure of Replacing Ann Curry on 'Today' Is Taking a Toll on Savannah Guthrie

A new report indicates Savannah Guthrie may not be holding up well under the pressure of her high-profile new job as co-host of NBC’s “Today” show.

Fox News reports that Guthrie is battling migraines as she tries to adapt to her new role on the morning show. “Guthrie, who earlier this month replaced Curry, has been suffering from headaches so severe, she needs to see a doctor several times a week and wear dark glasses to alleviate pressure on her eyes,” the piece reports.

A source commenting for the story said: “She goes to a doctor two days a week for treatment of the migraines, and is required to wear dark glasses when she’s not on set. The pressure of taking over after Ann’s execution is taking its toll.”

“Today’s” heated ratings war with rival ABC show “Good Morning America” appears to be adding to the pressure. “Today” is the perennial morning ratings leader, but has been losing ground. In Guthrie’s first week as co-host with Matt Lauer, “Today” lost to “GMA” by 300,000 viewers.

The report adds: “Sources tell us Guthrie’s issues have not been noticeable to others on set, and some told us they’d never seen Guthrie wearing dark glasses while at the 30 Rock studio.

“She hasn’t missed any work because of the headaches, nor is she expected to miss ‘Today’ coverage of the London Olympic games that kick off next week, sources told us.”

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'Queen of Soul Food' Dies

A well-known restaurateur who has been called “the Queen of Soul Food” has died at 86, People magazine reports. Sylvia Woods was the owner of Sylvia's Restaurant in Harlem.

Woods was featured on multiple food shows, and was renowned for her leadership in soul food cuisine.

New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg told the New York Daily News, "We lost a legend today. Generations of family and friends have come together at what became a New York institution."

Sylvia's Restaurant opened in 1962 and became a New York landmark; recently it was featured in Food Network's "The Next Food Network Star."

Sylvia -- as everyone called her -- believed in giving personal attention to her customers and was known as a hard worker. She worked until the age of 80, before retiring and letting her family take over the establishment.

She's credited with making soul food popular to a broader audience.

sylvia-woods.jpgSylvia Woods

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Katie Holmes Heads to Broadway

Actress Katie Holmes, who has been in the headlines because of her divorce from Tom Cruise, will focus on her career by returning to Broadway this fall, reports Reuters.

Holmes, who previously appeared on stage in a 2008 production of Arthur Miller's "All My Sons," will star in a new comedy called "Dead Accounts." The playwright, Theresa Rebeck, was the head writer for the first season of the NBC musical drama "Smash."

Holmes will appear as the character Lorna in the play, which reportedly deals with "issues of corporate greed, small town values and whether or not your family will always welcome you back ... with no questions asked,” according to a statement from reps for the production.

Tony winner Jack O'Brien is directing the play.

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus Makes Emmys History

With her nomination yesterday as outstanding lead actress in a comedy series for "Veep," actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus made Emmys history by tying Lucille Ball's record of 13 nominations -- the most nominations ever for a comedic actress, reports CBS News.

When she was told of the accomplishment, Louis-Dreyfus said she was thrilled by her connection to the star of "I Love Lucy."

She told TVLine.com, "I just learned that this morning; I had no idea beforehand and I'm stunned by it. I'm really actually made speechless by it and don't even know what to say."

Louis-Dreyfus has won two Emmys -- one for "Seinfeld" and another for "The New Adventures of Old Christine." Her nomination yesterday for her new HBO comedy "Veep" was her first for that program. HBO has renewed "Veep" for a second season.

Ball won four Emmys in competitive categories during her career -- including two for “The Lucy Show” and one for “I Love Lucy” -- and received the Governor’s Award from the TV Academy in 1989.

A complete list of this year’s Emmy nominations can be seen by clicking here.

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Gunman Kills 12 at 'Dark Knight Rises' Screening

A suspect is in custody in a deadly shooting in Colorado, where a gunman opened fire during a midnight screening of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

As many as 59 people were wounded and 12 killed in the shooting in Aurora, Colo., east of Denver. Witnesses said the masked shooter released a noxious gas before he began firing, making it difficult for movie goers to escape.

The suspect, James Holmes, is described as a 24-year-old white male. Some media reports indicated he is a former Ph.D candidate in neuroscience at the University of Colorado who dropped out of school recently.

According to a report at Deadline.com, the Aurora police issued a statement that said, in part, "Aurora Police are investigating a shooting at the Century 16 Movie Theater, located at 14300 E Alameda Ave, involving approximately 50 victims with at least 12 confirmed dead. On July 20, 2012, at about 12:39 a.m., police received numerous calls of the shooting. Officers arrived on scene moments after the first calls and arrested one party at the rear of the theater.

"Police were told the suspect 'appeared' at the front of one of the theaters, threw some type of gas or explosive device and started shooting.

"When the suspect was arrested, police recovered one rifle, one handgun and a gas mask. A third gun is still inside the theater. The suspect is an adult male Aurora resident in his early twenties. He offered no resistance when he was arrested. At this time, the police have no evidence that any additional suspects were involved other than the person arrested."

The L.A. Times story reports: “Witnesses described a chaotic scene, telling television reporters that they were overcome by noxious gas unleashed by the suspect just before he started shooting, and that they had to decide between staying on the ground, helping wounded victims, or running away before the gunman was able to reload his weapon. Survivors said they were forced to run past bodies in the aisles and theater."

The L.A. Times story adds, “Cellphone videos show panicked moviegoers running -- some screaming -- and others with blood visible.”

Here’s a video report on the shooting from WGN:

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Fred Willard Comments on His Arrest, Gets Fired From PBS Show

Actor Fred Willard has been fired from his job with a new PBS show in the wake of his arrest in a Hollywood adult movie theater, reports Elizabeth Jensen in The New York Times.

As previously reported, Willard was arrested Wednesday night on a lewd conduct charge at the Tiki Theater after officers allegedly found him with his genitals exposed.

Willard commented on the arrest Thursday as he visited his lawyer’s office with his wife. TMZ.com reports that the actor said the incident was a "big misunderstanding" and that "it did not happen." Willard said he and the police had a "difference of opinion,” about what happened and added, “It’s all being straightened out.”

Willard will no longer narrate the new PBS show "Market Warriors," according to the Times story. PBS on Monday debuted the first of 20 episodes of the show, which is a spinoff of "Antiques Roadshow" and places professional antique hunters in a competitive bargain-hunting situation.

“Given the unfortunate news reported today, effective immediately, Fred Willard no longer will be involved with the ‘Market Warriors’ series," said Jeanne Hopkins, a spokeswoman for WGBH, the Boston public broadcaster that produces the program.

Instead, Mark Walberg, the host of "Antiques Roadshow," will re-voice the episodes that Willard has taped, according to the Times story.

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On-Air Drama on 'The View' as Barbara Walters Refuses Call From George Zimmerman

"The View" became the setting for an unusual live drama Thursday when host Barbara Walters refused to take a call on the air from George Zimmerman, the accused killer of Trayvon Martin, reports the New York Post.

As previously reported, Barbara Walters turned down an interview with Zimmerman, allegedly because he demanded to be put up by ABC News in a hotel for a month.

On "The View," Walters noted on the show that Zimmerman had earlier asked her for a condition that she couldn't agree to, but she didn't say what he had demanded. She then described him as "desperate for money."

Midway through the program, Zimmerman's attorney called and offered to put him on the phone, which surprised Walters, according to the story.

“Forgive us,” she said, “we’re going to go to a commercial. ... We will be back and who knows what we’re going to get.”

After the commercial break, Walters told the audience she wasn't going to accept his call or put him on air.

Looking into the camera, Walters said, “Mr. Zimmerman if you could not do the interview yesterday, I don’t think we should do a quick one today. In the future, if you feel differently, we will consider it."

Here's a clip of Walters talking on "The View" about her attempt to interview Zimmerman:

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Legendary 'Star Trek' Actor Sounds Off About Emmy Snub for Cult Show

An actor known for his iconic role on the original "Star Trek" series is upset at what he sees as a snub for a cult TV show in the Emmy nominations, TVLine.com reports.

The Emmy nominations came out yesterday, as we reported previously, and they didn’t show any love to “Fringe.” The Fox series received no nominations, and that didn’t sit well with Leonard Nimoy, who has appeared as William Bell, an associate of Dr. Walter Bishop's, on the series.

"No Emmy nomination for 'Fringe.' Ridiculous,” Nimoy wrote on Twitter. “So much talent. So much hard work. So much imagination.”

Nimoy, known for playing Spock on the original “Star Trek” series and in a number of “Star Trek” movies, added that fans of "Fringe" and other sci-fi shows shouldn't be surprised, noting, "Emmy has given short shrift to 'Star Trek,'” the story says.

Click here to see a full list of this year’s Emmy nominations.

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'SNL' Writer Who Created the Coneheads Dies at 59

One of the first writers for "Saturday Night Live," who helped create the show's Coneheads, has died, reports The New York Times. Tom Davis was 59.

Davis' cause of death was throat and neck cancer. Referring to death in the last few months of his life, he called it "deanimation," according to the story.

Davis' writing partner was Al Franken, with the pair hired as two of the first writers for "SNL" in 1975, the story notes. The duo accepted a single salary of $350 a week from "SNL," and each singly was called "the guys."

With Franken and others, Davis created the alien family called the Coneheads, who told earthlings their strange habits were due to their coming from France. Davis also collaborated on Dan Aykroyd's impersonation of Julia Child, in which the chef cuts herself but finds, when trying to call 911, that her phone is only a prop. She bids her audience "Bon appetit!” despite collapsing.

Davis made a "massive contribution” to the show, Aykroyd said Thursday. He described Davis as "very disciplined" and able to help less focused writers produce.

Davis shared three Emmys for his writing on "SNL," and another for 1977's "The Paul Simon Special."

He met Franken as a teen when the pair attended the private Blake School. They would pepper their morning assembly announcements with sarcasm and soon after performed at a local comedy club.

Franken, now a Democratic senator from Minnesota, told The Times that he and Davis complemented each other, with Davis bringing improvisational experience to their partnership. Davis' humor had a sardonic edge, but still kept a “sweetness and a Minnesota outlook," Franken noted.

tom-davis.jpgTom Davis

Here’s a clip of Dan Aykroyd’s “French Chef”:

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Sorkin's 'The Newsroom' Overhauls Writing Staff

Aaron Sorkin's HBO drama "The Newsroom" has replaced many of the show’s writers for the second season, reports The Daily.

Most of the writers on the show, which is about a Keith Olbermann-type news host, have been fired, according to the story. The only writer to remain is Sorkin's former girlfriend, Corinne Kinsbury, according to the story.

"In the mostly collaborative world of TV, Sorkin is famously known for penning most the scripts himself, and 'The Newsroom' had a smaller writers' room than most TV shows with less than 10 credited writers. It's not uncommon on other TV series run by powerful showrunners to turn over staff," the article points out.

A representative for HBO said, "Every year each show reassesses the needs of its writing staffs. This process is nothing out of the ordinary."

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MSNBC Defends Al Sharpton After Comment by Fox News Host

MSNBC has taken issue with a comment made on Fox News about MSNBC host Al Sharpton, TVNewser.com reports. The comment occurred during Sean Hannity's Fox News interview with accused Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman.

According to the story, Hannity asked Zimmerman, "What do you say to Al Sharpton, and those that rushed to judgment?” Sharpton hosts MSNBC's "PoliticsNation" show.

MSNBC issued a statement, saying it wanted to "set the record straight following some misinformation."

"Reverend Al Sharpton never 'rushed to judgment,' as stated by Mr. Hannity. Reverend Sharpton repeatedly called for calm and for a more thorough investigation in the wake of the tragic events. Ultimately, the authorities agreed an arrest was warranted," the statement said.

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Three U.S. Senators to Guest Star on NBC's 'Parks and Rec'

Three U.S. senators will have guest-starring roles in an episode of "Parks and Recreation" this fall, reports The New York Times' Arts Beat.

The comedy, which stars Amy Poehler as an Indiana government employee who gets elected to Pawnee's city council, will feature Barbara Boxer of California, Olympia J. Snowe of Maine and John McCain of Arizona, the story notes.

The three senators shot a cocktail party scene with Poehler and her co-star Adam Scott at the Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington, the piece notes. The episode will air either as the show's first or second installment of the new season.

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Viacom and DirecTV Resolve Dispute

DirecTV’s 20 million subscribers will again have access to Viacom’s 17 channels after the satellite company and the cable programmer settled their dispute, USA Today reports.

DirecTV said in a news release that Viacom “has returned all affected networks,” according to the story. Viacom reported today at 6 a.m. ET that its cable channels “will return to DirecTV’s channel lineup immediately.”

Terms of the agreement between the two companies were not revealed.

The report notes: “Channels such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon had been inaccessible to some 20 million DirecTV customers since July 10 as the two companies haggled over how much DirecTV should pay to carry those channels.

“A day later, Viacom also shut off access to full-length episodes on its own websites such as MTV.com and ComedyCentral.com to all visitors, even those who had no stake in the dispute. That was apparently in response to DirecTV telling its U.S. subscribers where they could find programs on the Internet that they could no longer watch on TV.”

Viacom this week restored Web access to new episodes of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report,” apparently in response to viewer frustration.

“As part of the new long-term deal, DirecTV Group subscribers will also be able to see Viacom shows on tablets, laptops and other devices using DirecTV's Everywhere platform,” the story reports.

Even with the two companies coming to terms, DirecTV Executive VP of Content Strategy and Development Derek Chang let it be known that he wasn’t happy about what had taken place. In a statement, Chang said: "The attention surrounding this unnecessary and ill-advised blackout by Viacom has accomplished one key thing: it serves notice to all media companies that bullying TV providers and their customers with blackouts won't get them a better deal."

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Hearst and Time Warner Cable Come to Terms, Ending Blackout

Time Warner Cable and Hearst Television have agreed to a retransmission consent deal that will end a blackout that started July 10, reports B&C.

The Hearst TV stations pulled their signals from Time Warner Cable at midnight on July 10, with the affected stations including KITV-TV in Honolulu and WCVB-TV in Boston.

"We thank our customers for their patience and their willingness to stick with us through another unnecessary broadcaster blackout," Time Warner Cable said in a statement.

Hearst TV CEO David Barrett said the company regretted the inconvenience viewers experienced, but added, "This process has been an important step to insure the ongoing vitality of our local TV service in communities across the country."

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New Yahoo CEO to Receive $100 Million Over Five Years

Yahoo will pay its new chief executive up to $100 million in compensation, stock, bonus and retention awards over five years, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Marissa Mayer will receive about $5.4 million from Yahoo for the rest of 2012, and about $20 million a year after that, with some of the amount tied to performance targets, the story notes. Mayer, 37, was hired by Yahoo this week after working for 13 years at Google, where most recently she served as a vice president of local, maps and location services.

Because she wasn't a top officer at Google, it's unknown what her compensation was at the company.

The pay package seems "reasonable and competitive" since Yahoo is "a huge company, a turnaround situation, and they got someone who was doing a fantastic job," said Mark Reilly, a partner at 3C Compensation Consulting Consortium LLC in Chicago.

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Jennifer Jason Leigh Joins ABC's 'Revenge'

The ABC drama "Revenge" has cast film and TV actress Jennifer Jason Leigh, fresh off a story arc on Showtime’s “Weeds,” in a recurring role, reports Deadline.com.

Leigh will play the mother of the show's lead character, Emily Thorne, who is played by Emily VanCamp. Her character had been presumed dead until the end of the first season's finale, the piece notes.

Leigh is known for film roles including “Last Exit to Brooklyn,” “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “Single White Female.”

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NBC Reorganizes News Division, Appoints Chairman

NBCUniversal has announced a reorganization of its news operations, combining NBC News, CNBC, MSNBC and the Weather Channel under the new NBCUniversal News Group, Deadline.com reports.

The company named Pat Fili-Krushel as chairman of the new division, with NBC News’ Steve Capus and CNBC’s Mark Hoffman now reporting to Fili-Krushel rather than to NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke.

“The new NBCUniversal News Group chairman -- who has no newsroom experience -- has to right a news operation that’s taking it on the chin,” the story reports. “Rivals have gained so much ground on shows including ‘Today,’ ‘NBC Nightly News’ and ‘Meet the Press’ that even the typically NBC-friendly New York Times recently observed: ‘For the first time in more than a decade, NBC News appears adrift.’”

The reorganization is designed to improve coordination among the various NBC news brands, according to a staff memo issued by Burke.

Burke said in the memo: “Our news businesses are the most powerful, important and profitable in the industry. Each of our news channels is a category leader and tens of millions of viewers look to us every day for fast and reliable information and analysis. I am confident that placing all of these assets into one group will accelerate their growth, individually and collectively.”

He added: “Pat is a great fit for this role. She has a wealth of experience in cable and broadcast television. While at Disney, she ran the ABC Television Network, which included ABC News, and she launched the daytime talk show ‘The View.’ She has held senior positions in programming and production at Lifetime and HBO and immediately before joining NBCUniversal was Executive Vice President of Administration at Time Warner. Since joining NBCUniversal at the close of the deal she has been a valuable member of my senior team and she has my complete confidence.”

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Wednesday Night Reality Bloodbath Finds Franchise Shows Struggling on Three Networks

High-profile reality shows on three broadcast networks found the ratings waters toxic on Wednesday night, based on Nielsen overnights.

The numbers brought bad news for CBS’s “Big Brother,” Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” and NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “Big Brother” delivered a 1.9 average rating in the key demo of adults 18-49 for its Wednesday season premiere -- down a hefty eight-tenths of a ratings point from the 2.7 for last year’s Wednesday premiere.

Fox’s two-hour “So You Think You Can Dance” settled for a 1.8 in viewers 18-49, down two-tenths from the 2.0 the show scored a week earlier -- but still good enough to win the night for Fox.

NBC saw “America’s Got Talent” -- the network’s only fresh program of the night -- sink to a season-low 1.9 in 18-49, down a tenth from a week ago.

ABC’s only non-repeat program was “Final Witness” at 10 p.m., which managed only a 1.2 in the 18-49 demo -- an improvement of one-tenth from last week.

Everything else on the big 4 networks was repeats.

For prime time overall, Fox took the win in the 18-49 demo with a 1.8 average, ahead of Univision (1.5 average), CBS (1.4), NBC (1.3) and ABC (1.2). Total viewers was won by CBS with 5.4 million, followed by NBC with 5.2 million, Fox with 5.1 million, ABC with 3.9 million and Univision with 3.8 million.

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Forbes Lists the Real 'Top Chefs' -- The Ones Who Make the Most Money

A well-known TV chef reigns as the top money maker in a seemingly endless pool of celebrity chefs, according to a new list compiled by Forbes magazine.

The country’s highest-earning chef is Scottish-born Gordon Ramsay, Reuters reports. “With 24 restaurants around the world, 11 Michelin stars, numerous cookbooks and TV shows, Gordon Ramsay is the top earning chef in the United States, with an estimated global income of $38 million,” the story reports.

Ramsay, who’s familiar to American TV viewers thanks to "MasterChef" and "Hell's Kitchen,” beat out Rachael Ray, who came in with an estimated $25 million for the year ending in June 2012. Ray’s earnings come from her television show, magazine and cookbooks.

“Austrian-born Wolfgang Puck, whose 20 restaurants contributed to his $20 million in earnings, came in third on the list of top earning chefs who have a strong presence in the United States. Puck is based in California,” the story reports.

Forbes.com’s Dorothy Pomerantz noted: "They are very diversified. There is nobody who just has restaurants. TV is a huge factor in making this list because they make so much more money from television than they can from their restaurants."

Coming in at No. 4 on the list was Paula Deen, “the Southern U.S. cook criticized for buttery recipes and for becoming a pharmaceutical company spokeswoman after she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes,” the story reports, with earnings of $17 million.

Rounding out the top five was Mario Batali, a star of “The Chew,” with $13 million.

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22 TV Stations Changing Hands as Owner Unloads Them to Three Different Buyers

A private-equity firm confirmed that it has closed three separate deals shifting a total of 22 television stations to three different buyers, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Providence Equity Partners said its Newport Television LLC signed deals totaling about $1 billion, moving 12 stations to Nexstar and a partner firm, six stations to Sinclair and four stations to Cox Media Group.

“Newport currently owns or operates 29 stations and has an additional 27 stations distributed as digital multicast streams,” the report notes. The company will be left with five stations, and plans to sell those later in a separate deal.

“Newport on Thursday confirmed it will sell four stations to Cox Media Group, including WAWS and WTEV in Jacksonville, Fla., and KOKI and KMYT in Tulsa, Okla.,” the story reports.

Sinclair said it has agreed to buy six stations from Newport for $412.5 million, in a deal that it expects to close no sooner than December. The story reports: “Sinclair said the Newport stations it is buying are WKRC in Cincinnati; WOAI in San Antonio; WHP in the Harrisburg/Lancaster/Lebanon/York, Pa., area; WPMI and WJTC in Mobile, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla.; and KSAS in Wichita/Hutchinson, Kan.”

Sinclair also will take over Newport’s local marketing agreements with two stations: WLYH in Harrisburg, Pa., and KMTW in Wichita, Kan.

The report adds: “Nexstar said it and an affiliated company agreed to acquire 12 television stations from Newport for around $285.5 million. Nexstar will acquire 10 stations in seven markets, including Salt Lake City and Memphis, Tenn., as well as Newport's Inergize Digital Media, a provider of digital management systems. Its partner, Mission Broadcasting Inc., will acquire two stations in Little Rock, Ark.”

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Cable Sitcom Making Strides in Syndication, Now Sold in 65% of U.S.

CBS Television Distribution reports that a popular cable sitcom has made syndication deals bringing the series to more than 65% clearance in U.S. markets. The series is TV Land’s “Hot in Cleveland,” which was picked up by stations including CBS’s WLNY New York, KCAL Los Angeles, WPSG Philadelphia, KTXA Dallas-Fort Worth and KBCW San Francisco.

Also picking up the show were Weigel Broadcasting's WCIU, Sunbeam Television's WLVI Boston, Gannett's WATL Atlanta and Belo's KHOU Houston. The company reports that stations in the Sinclair, LIN, Cox and Meredith broadcast groups also have bought the series.

“Those sales encompass nine of the top 10 broadcast markets and 18 of the top 20 for a 2014 launch,” the company reports. “The sale of ‘Hot in Cleveland’ to CBS-owned stations in top markets now marks the third off-net sitcom buy for those stations, after the group bought Warner Bros.' ‘2 Broke Girls’ and ‘Mike & Molly’ last month. CBS's acquisition of the formerly independently owned WLNY in December has added another competitive sitcom buyer in big markets, along with Tribune, Fox and Weigel in Chicago.”

Said CTD President of Sales Joe DiSalvo: "Stations have enthusiastically embraced ‘Hot in Cleveland’ and see huge potential for this sitcom in their lineups. ‘Hot in Cleveland’ has been a breakout hit for TV Land and is a perfect fit for the broad audience of broadcast syndication."

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Comic Actor Fred Willard Arrested in Adult Movie Theater

Comic actor Fred Willard was arrested Wednesday night in a Hollywood adult movie theater, according to a report by TMZ.com.

“According to law enforcement sources, LAPD undercover vice officers went into the Tiki Theater in Hollywood and found the 78-year-old ‘Anchorman’ star watching last night's feature" with his genitals allegedly exposed, the story reports.

Willard was reportedly booked on suspicion of lewd conduct, and was quickly released from police custody.

Officials told the website the vice officers were doing a “random walk-through” at the theater.

“We're told ... when theaters like this get their license, they have to allow cops in whenever they want ... to inspect,” the report notes. “In fact, the theater has a sign posted in the front which warns customers that the theater is ‘viewed by LAPD.’"

Willard is known for his roles in a series of mockumentaries, including “Best in Show,” “Waiting for Guffman” and “For Your Consideration.” He also has a long list of TV credits, including “Modern Family” and “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

fred-willard.jpgFred Willard

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Longtime 'Today' Host Offers a Blunt Appraisal of Ann Curry's Performance

A longtime host of NBC’s "Today" show tells the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker that he feels ousted co-host Ann Curry has received overly favorable treatment.

“I’m surprised and disappointed at this idea that Ann was a martyr, that she was thrown under the bus,” Bryant Gumbel said. "I don’t know why she’s being portrayed as a modern-day Joan of Arc. In every job, in every walk of life, people are hired to do a job, and if they don't do it well they are relieved of that job.”

Gumbel, who hosted “Today” for 15 years, added, "It’s a big-boy business, and when things don’t work out, people are asked to leave. It’s happened to me; it’s happened to almost everyone in this business."

Gumbel, who said he's "best friends" with "Today" co-host Matt Lauer, said his comments were prompted by his concern for "Today" staffers, as he felt they have been taking on blame that belonged to Curry, according to the story.

Gumbel said he doesn't watch "Today," describing himself as "not a TV watcher and I’m not a morning-show watcher." He added that while he has met new "Today" co-host Savannah Guthrie, he doesn't know her well. "Matt tells me she’s a good person, and I believe him,” Gumbel added.

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Kathie Lee Gifford Eats Crow After Her Comments Anger Aretha Franklin

Kathie Lee Gifford followed up on NBC’s “Today” show Wednesday after comments she made on the show earlier in the week drew an angry response from the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.

Gifford apologized to the singer for questioning her relevance and suggesting she might not make a good judge on "American Idol," reports TVNewser.com.

As we reported yesterday, Gifford said on "Today" that "there are a lot of kids out there [who] actually don't know who Aretha Franklin is. It's sad, but they don't."

Franklin, who appears to be actively campaigning for a judge's job on "Idol," responded via email, taking issue with Gifford’s comment. Franklin wrote: "[M]y audience and fans span the age of 8 to 90! And are multi-ethnic, and I am very well known to young adults, tweens and teens."

Gifford on Wednesday morning offered an apology, noting, "There is nobody in the world like her. My point was there is a whole generation of kids, some kids don’t know who Barbra Streisand is, who Frank Sinatra is …”

Her co-host Hoda Kotb responded, "She's still mad at you."

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HBO Dominates as Emmy Nominations Are Revealed; What's the Biggest Surprise? (See the Complete List of Nominees)

Pay-cable network HBO reigned supreme as the Emmy nominations were announced today, claiming a whopping total of 81 nominations, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced.

No other cable network came close -- AMC was second with 34, followed by FX with 26 and Showtime with 22 -- while the broadcasters -- led by CBS’s 60 nominations and PBS’s 58 -- weren’t quite in the ballpark either. NBC had 51 nods, followed by ABC with 48 and Fox with 26.

Among individual programs, AMC’s “Mad Men” led all drama series with 17 nods, while ABC’s “Modern Family” topped the comedies with 14. The FX miniseries “American Horror Story” also received 17 nominations, while History's "Hatfields & McCoys" earned 16.

Other heavyweights included the PBS drama "Downton Abbey" with 16 nominations, the HBO movie “Hemingway & Gelhorn” with 15 and NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” with 14 nods. “SNL” is the all-time leader in Emmy nominations with 156, followed by “ER” (124) and “Cheers” (117).

The biggest surprise from the nominations announcement may have come in the outstanding reality-competition series category. The rivalry between NBC’s singing competition “The Voice” and Fox’s perennial nominee “American Idol” moved to the awards arena, where “The Voice” received its first nomination in the category -- apparently knocking “Idol” off the list. It’s the first time since 2003, when the category was introduced, that “Idol” won’t be in the running.

The other nominees in the category are “Project Runway,” “Top Chef,” “The Amazing Race,” “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing with the Stars.”

Nominees for outstanding comedy series are “The Big Bang Theory,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Girls,” “Modern Family,” “30 Rock” and “Veep.”

Outstanding drama series nominees are “Boardwalk Empire,” “Breaking Bad,” “Downton Abbey,” “Game of Thrones,” “Homeland” and “Mad Men.”

Click here to see the complete list of nominations.

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Some Fun Behind-the-Scenes Stories About 'Lawrence of Arabia.' It's One of the Greatest Movies Ever Made. It Will Be Back in Theaters Soon, and Released on Blu-ray for the First Time as Well. Some Insights Into The Movie Too

There are really only a handful of movies that can legitimately be called among the greatest ever made. One is "Lawrence of Arabia." With the announcement that the film will return to theaters -- and will be released on Blu-ray for the first time -- TWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross writes about some fun behind-the scenes stories about the film. Please click here to read them.

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Better Late Than Never: Fans Who Got Burned on a Canceled Concert After the Who's Infamous 1979 Stampede Can Cash in Their Tickets and Finally See the Band

Fans who still have their tickets for a canceled 1979 concert by the seminal rock band the Who will finally get to see the band -- 33 years later, The Huffington Post reports.

The concert scheduled for Providence, R.I., back in 1979 was canceled by the town’s mayor, Buddy Cianci, because of safety concerns following an infamous Who concert in Cincinnati where 11 people died in a stampede. The band never returned to Providence -- but the Who announced this week that they will close their upcoming U.S. tour there on Feb. 26, 2012.

The concert will be held at the same venue where the 1979 show was supposed to be held, although the name has since been changed to the Dunkin Donuts Center.

“General Manager Lawrence Lepore said on Thursday the venue will honor tickets from the canceled 1979 show,” the story reports. “Lepore said many ticketholders got refunds for the canceled show in 1979, but others may have held on to their tickets as memorabilia.”

Said Lepore: "Somewhere, someplace, someone's got it stashed. The question is, are they willing to give that up? If they are, we're willing to take it."

Lepore noted that the highest-priced ticket for the 1979 show was $14, while tickets for the upcoming concert range from $57.50 to $127.50.

Lepore first revealed the offer on a local radio station, which asked listeners to call in if they still had their 1979. No one called in, according to the story.

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DirecTV Says Talks With Viacom Have Broken Down Because of One Channel

DirecTV said talks with Viacom have broken down due to the cable network owner's insistence that the satellite broadcaster carry its movie channel Epix, reports Joe Flint in the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog.

DirecTV said the company had reached a new agreement in principle on Tuesday to carry Viacom's networks, but then Viacom tried to force carriage of pay-TV network Epix, at a cost of more than $500 million, the article says, citing a statement from DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer.

"We know our customers don't want to pay such an extreme price for an extra channel," Mercer said.

Viacom said the statement is "complete fiction" and that it has offered proposals both with and without Epix. Viacom earlier on Wednesday said it was breaking off talks because the satellite broadcaster had shown little flexibility.

"I really don’t see any end in sight, truthfully," said Denise Denson, Viacom's executive vice president of content distribution, according to the story.

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Some Channels Are Reaping Rewards From Viacom-DirecTV Standoff

With Viacom’s cable channels blacked out for DirecTV’s 20 million subscribers while the two media giants wage war over carriage fees, some of Viacom’s rival cable channels are experiencing a mini-boom.

In particular, the Disney Channel, the Hub and other channels that target children are benefiting from the carriage standoff, with parents forced to sample beyond Viacom's Nickelodeon to find shows for their kids, reports Brian Stelter in The New York Times.

On the day before the blackout, Nickelodeon drew 1.76 million viewers during the day, which dropped to 1.23 million once Viacom’s channels were dropped from the satellite service, the story notes. At the same time, the Disney Channel seemed to pick up some of that audience, "though it is hard to draw a direct connection between the DirecTV blackout and the Disney gains," the story says.

The Disney Channel averaged about 1.64 million viewers during the first six months of the year. The network jumped to 2.27 million viewers for the first five days of the DirecTV blackout of Viacom networks.

The Hub, a small network owned by Discovery Communications and Hasbro, also saw gains. It jumped to 159,000 viewers during the blackout, compared with 88,000 before the dispute.

“The first two days were rough on my toddler,” Mary Pedone Howard wrote on Viacom's Facebook wall. "Leave it to a 3-year-old to show mom that adaptation is a great thing,” she noted of her daughter's new request to watch the Disney Channel.

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What Was It That George Zimmerman Demanded, Causing Barbara Walters to Turn Down an Interview?

Barbara Walters turned down an interview with Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman because of an allegedly unreasonable demand, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

Walters flew to Florida this week to meet with Zimmerman and his attorney to discuss a potential interview, which would have taken place after his interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity. As previously reported, Zimmerman granted his first interview to Hannity.

Walters was already reportedly concerned because she prefers to secure exclusives. Zimmerman allegedly demanded ABC put him up at a hotel for a month, a demand that reportedly left Walters "appalled" and caused her to turn down the deal, the story notes.

An ABC News representative said Walters met with Zimmerman, but declined to confirm his demands.

“She went down there with every intention of doing an interview, but Mr. Zimmerman made a demand at the last minute that we could not and would never agree to,” he said, according to the story.

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Netflix Exec Explains How Online Streaming Helps Cable Networks

A high-ranking Netflix executive says the online-streaming service is helping cable companies and networks by building their audiences through the airing of old episodes, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq.

The company’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, cited AMC's "Mad Men" as an example, saying Netflix helped introduce the program to a wider audience.

"Then, miraculously, a million more people showed up to watch new episodes when they premiered,” Sarandos said. He spoke at a breakfast event sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter.

"We are faced with increasingly aggressive cable operators who want to do more deals for less money and who try to block us,” he added. “[I]n return for having built the ratings, AMC gets into a fight with cable operators [and satellite service Dish Network] because they sell to Netflix.”

Every new innovation in television, such as pay TV and VOD, has helped expand the audience for TV shows, Sarandos said.

He added that Netflix will continue to be aggressive in adding TV shows and movies that otherwise might be bought by HBO, Showtime or Starz. “We’re actively pursuing every pay TV deal,” he said, according to the story.

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George Zimmerman, in First TV Interview, Says Trayvon Martin Shooting Was 'God's Plan'

George Zimmerman, appearing on Fox News' "The Sean Hannity Show," said he viewed the shooting incident that led to the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin as "God's plan," according to FoxNews.com.

Zimmerman also said he didn't regret getting out of the car to follow Martin. "I feel it was all God's plan, and for me to second-guess it or judge it ..." Zimmerman said, shaking his head.

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 incident. He said he acted in self-defense, adding that at first, "I didn't think I hit him." Zimmerman said he found out later the teenager had died.

He said he feels his life is at risk, given that he has received death threats, and noted that he's now in hiding, according to the story.

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Tom Cruise Attorney Lashes Out at Tabloids' 'Grotesquely False Claims'

An attorney for Tom Cruise, fed up at weeks of what he says are false reports, is lashing out at the tabloids, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Attorney Bert Fields is mainly upset about reports that Cruise “abandoned” his daughter Suri, the story says. Accusing one tabloid of spreading lies about Cruise, Fields characterized the reporting as “grotesquely false claims.”

Some reports have given the impression that Cruise has become distanced from Suri during his divorce from Katie Holmes, Suri’s mom.

Said Fields: "That, as anyone knows who saw their photos together yesterday and today, is a disgusting, vicious lie. Until this week, Tom was shooting a film on location [in Iceland], but he spoke to Suri every day. He’s with Suri right now; and he was with her the day before [the magazine] trumpeted their cruelly false accusation. Tom dearly loves Suri, and the last thing he would ever do is abandon her.”

The piece notes: “Cruise has been chased around Manhattan for the last two days by paparazzi as he whisked Suri from her home to his suites and to her daily gymnastics classes.”

Holmes and Cruise quickly agreed on a divorce settlement, keeping the terms private. The report says the agreement gives Holmes “primary custody and Cruise visitation rights and a ‘meaningful relationship’ with Suri.”

The piece adds: “A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly about the case, said Holmes will have some voice in selecting the nannies who will accompany Suri when she spends time with Cruise.

“The person said the deal gave Holmes some level of control without appearing to monitor Suri's visits with Cruise.”

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Report: Charlie Sheen Has Become Palatable for Advertisers Again -- but Now the Actor's Image May Pose a Different Problem

Actor Charlie Sheen appears to be “safe” for advertisers again, with a new study citing improving feelings toward the sometimes erratic actor, reports Advertising Age. But now the actor’s image faces a new problem: He may be too tame to remain an effective marketing device.

The study, from market research firm Vision Critical, found that 79% of people watching a DirecTV ad featuring Sheen were "amused" by him, while 31% said they experienced some "annoyed" reactions, the story notes. Negative reactions were especially low among viewers younger than 65.

"Viewers' emotional reactions show that Charlie Sheen is still entertaining, and surprisingly low risk. Both the DirecTV and Fiat ads featuring Sheen play off his recent notoriety," said Jeff Vidler, senior VP-media research, Vision Critical.

But Vidler notes that Sheen’s new FX sitcom, “Anger Management,” may be eroding Sheen’s edgy image. Said Vidler: “Early reviews of his new show have found it 'safe' and 'conventional,' so it remains to be seen how long his notoriety can be leveraged for entertainment value."

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It's Official: The Movie Many Film Buffs Have Most Wanted to Be Released on Blu-ray For Their Big HD TV Sets Will Be Released on Nov. 13. It'll Make a Great Holiday Gift.

The movie many film buffs have long said was their No. 1 choice for release on Blu-ray has finally received an official release date.

Sony Pictures has announced that the "director's cut" of "Lawrence of Arabia" "will be available in a Blu-ray 3-disc collectible boxed set starting Nov. 13, 2012."

The film is being released on Blu-ray on the 50th anniversary of its theatrical release. "Lawrence of Arabia" won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

The press release continues, " 'We wanted to return this film to as pristine a condition as possible to honor its anniversary release,' says Grover Crisp, EVP of Asset Management, Film Restoration and Digital Mastering for SPE. The original camera negative was scanned at 8K and the film went through a painstaking process of repairing problems inherent to the 50-year old film elements. Using the latest digital imaging technology, the color grading and re-mastering was completed in 4K at Colorworks, Sony Pictures Entertainments’ digital intermediate facility. 'The original negative was seriously damaged in a number of ways, some problems dating from the original release and some accumulated over the years.' says Crisp. 'But, until now, we did not have the tools available to address these issues. We think fans of the film will be as amazed as we are at the detail and resolution in the imagery captured by cinematographer Freddie Young to complement David Lean’s immaculate direction.' "

Also included in the box set will be a DVD of the Oscar-winning score of "Lawrence of Arabia" by the late Maurice Jarre.

A restored theatrical print of the movie will also "screen nationwide in a digital-only theatrical event in theaters starting Oct. 4, 2012," the release says.

In addition, the "U.S. premiere of the new restoration will take place in Los Angeles on July 19th with a  special 4K presentation at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences," the press release notes. This event at the Academy is sold-out. 


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CBS Drama Cuts Most of the Cast From Previous Season

A CBS drama that beat the odds by getting picked up for another season after it had already been canceled will undergo some significant cast changes, Deadline.com reports.

“Unforgettable” was canceled in May, but later resurfaced with a 13-episode order for a second season. Stars Poppy Montgomery and Dylan Walsh have been locked in, the report notes, along with Jane Curtin, who joined the show midway through season one. Those three actors were considered essential to bringing the show back.

“As for the rest of the series’ regular cast, none is expected to continue as producers are evaluating the show’s creative direction,” the story reports.

Daya Vaidya, a regular on the show during the first season, tweeted earlier this month: “CBS made some creative changes and the supporting cast will not be returning next season. Yea, Nina, Roe, Mike and Tanya r gone.”

She was referring to characters played by herself and by other season one regulars Kevin Rankin, Michael Gaston and Britt Lower, the story notes.

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It's Scripted Star vs. Reality Star for the Top Spot on New List of Highest-Paid Women on Television

The Forbes magazine list of the highest-paid women on television, released today, saw a close race for the No. 1 spot between a scripted star and a reality star. The scripted star came out on top, with sitcom actress Sofia Vergara topping the list with estimated earnings of $19 million between May 2011 and May 2012.

The Colombian-born star of ABC’s “Modern Family,” who’s half of the management company Latin World Entertainment, made money from a wide range of enterprises, including three movie roles, a clothing line and numerous endorsement deals -- including Spanish-language endorsements with Burger King, Comcast and State Farm, along with English-language deals with Cover Girl and Diet Pepsi.

Vergara nudged out reality star Kim Kardashian, who placed a close second on the list with $18 million in earnings. Kardashian’s empire included the E! series “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” a four-hour E! special on her wedding to Kris Humphries, more than 63 magazine covers (many of them focused on the dissolution of the Kardashian-Humphreys marriage just a few weeks after the wedding), her namesake fragrance, the family boutique DASH, the new Vegas specialty store Kardashian Khaos and the family clothing line Kardashian Khaos for Sears.

Eva Longoria placed third on the list with earnings of $15 million, even with “Desperate Housewives” ending its run this year after eight seasons. Along with endorsements, she’s keeping busy in TV with “Devious Maids” and “Ready for Love.”

No. 4 on the list is reality star and marketing guru Bethenny Frankel with earnings of $12 million, followed by Khloe Kardashian Odom at No. 5 with $11 million.

Rounding out the top 10:

6. Tina Fey (“30 Rock”), $11 million
7. Mariska Hargitay (“Law & Order: SVU”), $10 million
8. Zooey Deschanel (“New Girl”), $9 million
(tie) Felicity Huffman (“Desperate Housewives”), $9 million
(tie) Ellen Pompeo (“Grey’s Anatomy”), $9 million

sofia-vergara.jpgSofia Vergara

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New Show in the Works for Late-Night -- This One Is Focused on Sports

Late-night television will have a new entry starting next month, and this one is all about sports, Entertainment Weekly reports. The show is “UNITE,” which launches Aug. 27 at midnight ET on ESPNU.

The show will be aimed at a younger demographic, specifically the college-age male sports fan. It will air Monday-Friday, blending sports talk, information and social media interaction.

Yaron Deskalo, “UNITE‘s” coordinating producer, said: “The way that we consume sports television is different than it was 15 years ago -- than it was two years ago. Our audience already knows the headlines before they tune in, so they are no longer tuning in at midnight to wait 20 minutes to watch a 45-second highlight. What we need to do to be successful is to find the social conversation in these events, to find that little nugget that will keep people around.”

As for who will host the show, Deskalo said, “We aren’t necessarily looking for the next ‘SportsCenter’ anchor. We’re looking almost for the next media star, whether they’re graphic designers, musicians, or comedians. Maybe they’re already doing it in their dorm room and getting a million hits on YouTube, but to us, this is the next evolution for them to move into the television environment.”

The premiere date is meant to coincide with the return of college students to school and the launch of the college football season.

ESPNU reaches 73 million households.

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Cable News Host Scores a Big 'Get': The First Interview With George Zimmerman

George Zimmerman, the accused killer of Florida youth Trayvon Martin, has granted his first interview to a cable news host: Sean Hannity of Fox News, TVNewser.com reports.

Hannity will interview Zimmerman tonight on “The Sean Hannity Show” at 9 p.m. ET. Zimmerman will appear along with his attorney, Mark O’Mara.

According to Fox News, Zimmerman wants to address rumors about his finances and hidden money.

The report notes: “Hannity has been pursuing a Zimmerman interview for several months. The pair had an off-the-record phone conversation in April. Yesterday, GlobalGrind posted an article claiming that Hannity offered to pay Zimmerman’s legal fees; a spokesperson for Fox News told TVNewser Hannity has never offered to pay ‘any legal fees or any fee associated with George Zimmerman.’”

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Hulu Joins Forces With BBC as Co-Producer of Political Comedy

Hulu announced today that it is partnering with the BBC for its first international co-production, joining forces on the fourth season of the U.K. political comedy “The Thick of It.”

“Beginning July 29, Hulu and Hulu Plus will be the exclusive U.S. destination for fans to watch every episode from the first three seasons of the beloved program, as well as the two specials released between seasons in the UK,” the company announced.

"The Thick of It" initially aired on BBC Four in the U.K. and BBC America in the U.S.

“Hulu will also exclusively premiere the fourth season in the U.S., which will air first on Hulu and Hulu Plus day-and-date with the U.K. broadcast before returning to BBC America early next year,” the company said.

“The Thick of It” is created and written by Armando Iannucci (HBO's "Veep"). The series “takes a smart, satirical look at the inner workings of British government,” the company said. “Shot in a vérité style with hand-held cameras, Iannucci's distinctive brand of comedy thrusts viewers into a world of political embarrassment, backroom deals, policy U-turns, spin-doctoring, political backstabbing and wild media speculation.”

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'Gotham' Creator Inks With 20th TV

The creator of “Gotham” has signed a two-year overall pact with 20th Century Fox Television to develop programming for cable and broadcast, Deadline.com reports.

The seven-figure deal will have Michael Green working with Erwin Stoff of 3 Arts to executive produce projects together, the story reports. “The deal comes on the heels of a development deal Green had with 20th TV, which resulted in ‘Gotham,’” the report notes. “The supernatural procedural, about a female cop who discovers a magical world that exists within New York City, went to pilot at ABC, which landed Francis Lawrence as director. The project got very close to a series order, with ABC extending the pickup conversations with 20th TV beyond the upfronts, but ultimately a deal couldn’t be reached.”

Said Gary Newman, 20th TV chairman: “Michael delivered a fantastic pilot for us in ‘Gotham,’ and we knew we wanted to stay in business with him exclusively going forward. He has an incredible talent for creating new worlds, which are richly inventive and yet undeniably accessible at the same time. He’s one of the most sought-after writers in both features and TV, and his projects always attract the best talent.”

The story notes that Green “rewrote and then served as showrunner of ABC’s horror drama series ‘The River.’ He also created and executive produced the NBC contemporary drama with biblical themes ‘Kings,’ whose pilot also was directed by Lawrence.”

Green has also been involved with “Heroes,” “Everwood” and “Smallville,” the story notes.

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Discovery of Centuries-Old Bras Rewrites History of Underwear

A discovery of bras dating from the Middle Ages has forced historians to rethink the history of underwear, the Associated Press reports.

The find in an Austrian castle means women wore bras some 600 years ago -- about 500 years before what was thought to be the origin of the garment.

“The University of Innsbruck said Wednesday that archeologists found four linen bras dating from the Middle Ages in an Austrian castle,” the story reports. “Fashion experts describe the find as surprising because the bra had commonly been thought to be only little more than 100 years old as women abandoned the tight corset. Instead, it appears the bra came first, followed by the corset, followed by the reinvented bra.”

The garments were uncovered in 2008, but the news did not make it beyond academic circles until an article on the find appeared recently in the BBC History Magazine.

“We didn’t believe it ourselves,” said Beatrix Nutz, the archaeologist responsible for the find. “From what we knew, there was no such thing as bra-like garments in the 15th century.”

It took some time to research the items and carbon date them to ensure that they were genuine, the report notes.

The piece adds: “One specimen in particular ‘looks exactly like a (modern) brassiere,’ says Hilary Davidson, fashion curator for the London Museum. ‘These are amazing finds.’”

Davidson called the discovery “kind of a missing link” in the history of women’s underwear, the report notes.

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Aretha Franklin Fires Back After Being Dissed by NBC Morning Host

Aretha Franklin has taken issue with comments about her on NBC’s “Today” show during a discussion between hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb that suggested the renowned singer is too old to judge "American Idol," reports CNN.com.

As previously reported, Franklin -- who has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, won 18 Grammys and was ranked at the top of Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest singers of all time -- is interested in joining "American Idol" as a judge.

"If they are looking for a younger demographic, there are a lot of kids out there (who) actually don't know who Aretha Franklin is. It's sad, but they don't," Gifford said, according to the story.

Franklin responded in an email, which was obtained by CNN, that took issue with Gifford's comment.

"While I enjoy Kathie Lee and Hoda daily, her assessment is totally wrong!" Franklin wrote. "[M]y audience and fans span the age of 8 to 90! And are multi-ethnic, and I am very well known to young adults, tweens and teens. Their parents play my music and I take care of my business whenever I sign on the dotted line!

"I'm surprised Kathie Lee did not research my worldwide celebrity audience!" the singer wrote.

Franklin also took issue with comments from an E! correspondent, who pointed out she doesn't like to fly, making it hard for her to travel for auditions.

"I've been to California from Detroit four times this year and Florida. I go wherever I choose to go comfortably on my custom bus," Franklin wrote, according to the story.

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Accident on the Set Sends Halle Berry to Hospital

Oscar winner Halle Berry was injured Tuesday night in an accident on the set of her upcoming movie, USA Today reports. Berry was treated at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and later released.

Various media reports say Berry either fell or was hit by a falling object in the mishap on the set of “The Hive.” Besides Berry, the movie stars Abigail Breslin and David Otunga.

A rep for Berry told the publication this morning that the actress is OK. Said the rep: "Halle Berry suffered a minor head injury while shooting a fight sequence on the set of her film, ‘The Hive.’ She was taken to the hospital as a precaution, but she checked out healthy and was released. She'll continue production as planned."

Berry won an Oscar for “Monster’s Ball” in 2002.

halle-berry.jpgHalle Berry

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Legal Battle Erupts Over Classic Sitcom, With Rights Holder Threatening Off-Broadway Show

Attorneys for the copyright owner of a classic sitcom have sent a cease-and-desist letter to an off-Broadway production, saying the stage show borrows too many elements from the TV series, The New York Times reports.

The stage production, “3C,” has a lot in common with the late-1970s and early-1980s ABC sitcom “Three’s Company,” including the premise of a man who pretends to be gay to live with two women, the report notes.

"3C" found itself targeted at a time when “Three’s Company” is "up for renewal soon with TV Land," said Donald Taffner Jr., owner of DLT Entertainment, which owns the copyright.

He added, "[W]e’re playing around with the idea of doing a theatrical version of ‘Three’s Company’ ourselves, so we don’t want anything out there that might cause harm,” according to the story.

The playwright, David Adjmi, has agreed to the demands of DLT, which in effect means his play won't be revived after its run ended on Saturday, according to the story. One of his reasons for doing so was money -- "I can't afford a fancy lawyer," Adjmi said.

One of the issues facing Adjmi was whether the play was enough of a parody to earn protection under First Amendment exceptions to copyright law. Under the legal doctrine of fair use, artists are allowed to lampoon or critique original material, the piece notes.

"Three's Company" starred John Ritter, Joyce DeWitt and Suzanne Somers as roommates.

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Bollywood's First Superstar Dies

The Indian actor who became the first Bollywood superstar after a string of successful performances as a romantic lead has died, the Associated Press reports. Rajesh Khanna, 69, died following a brief illness.

Khanna died at his home in Mumbai with his wife, actress Dimple Kapadia, and his two daughters at his side, the story reports.

“Khanna began his career in the mid-1960s in romantic films that were hugely popular. He played the lead role in some 120 of the 170 movies in which he appeared and won scores of awards,” the story reports. “His enormous success was a new phenomenon in India. Screaming fans surrounded him whenever he appeared in public. Women married his photograph and wrote him letters in their blood proposing marriage.”

Khanna appeared in 15 consecutive movies that set sales records in the 1970s, the report notes.

The article adds: “After a nearly three-decade reign in Bollywood, Khanna saw his popularity dim when action films became the rage and younger stars rose to the top. His fall was swift as Khanna turned to alcohol and for the last few years of his life, he became almost a recluse.”

rajesh-khanna.jpgRajesh Khanna

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Controversial Baseball Figure Gets Reality Show

A famed Major League Baseball player and manager will be the star of a reality program on TLC, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

"Pete Rose and Kiana Kim Family Project," the working title for the series, will follow the 71-year old Rose and his 30-something fiancee Kim as they blend their families, the piece notes.

TLC has started production on the series, which stars the 17-time All-Star who was banned from baseball for gambling on games while managing the Cincinnati Reds.

Some family members have reservations about the relationship between Rose and Kim, the story adds.

“We are a total modern-day family, mixing the cultures, the ages, the different backgrounds together. I didn’t even know who Pete Rose was when I first met him. It’s kind of a crazy story, but at the core of every family is love and it’s what TLC wants to show," Kim said.

“We’re just a normal family with 4,200 hits," Rose said, according to the article.

The show will track Kim getting a breast reduction and Rose taking his family to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. An ongoing controversy in baseball surrounds whether Rose, baseball’s all-time hit leader, should be made eligible for the Hall of Fame.

TLC will air five episodes later this year.

pete-rose-kiana-kim.jpgPete Rose and Kiana Kim

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Was Jon Stewart's Poke at Viacom Responsible for Shows Getting Back Online? (Here's the Video)

Jon Stewart returned to "The Daily Show" Monday night and blasted his bosses at Viacom for pulling the company’s shows from online sites -- and the next day the company decided to put its programs back online, including "The Daily Show," reports the New York Post.

Stewart criticized both Viacom and DirecTV, which are in the midst of a carriage dispute that's left DirecTV's roughly 20 million customers without Viacom's cable networks.

"Viacom, DirecTV, what are you doing here?” he said. “You’ve got ad campaigns blaming each other for taking the shows away, telling people to rise up and demand it like it’s some kind of basic cable Arab Spring.

“I’ve got news for you -- it’s not.”

Stewart went on to compare Viacom to China for pulling its shows from online sites during the dispute. As we reported last week, Viacom removed some of its free programming from its websites.

On Tuesday Viacom said it would put its shows back online, and cited Stewart's "wasting no time weighing in" on the dispute. "We hope this is helpful to our fans with DirecTV who have yet to switch to a cable/satellite provider that carries Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV, BET and all our 26 networks," Viacom said in a blog post.

Here’s a clip of Stewart’s rant about the dispute:

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Encouraging Words in Viacom-DirecTV Dispute

A deal to restore Viacom's cable networks to DirecTV's roughly 20 million customers is drawing closer, reports Bloomberg, citing DirecTV's head of content.

“There’s been progress,” Derek Chang, DirecTV’s executive vice president of content, strategy and development, tells the news service. "We’ve been getting closer. We would love to be done with this thing, but we have to do it in a way that we can protect our customers.”

Viacom wants a 30% rate increase over the term of the contract, which would create an additional $1 billion in costs, Chang said. Viacom has said its fees account for less than 5% of DirecTV's programming expenses.

A Viacom spokesman declined to comment.

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Universal Monsters -- Dracula, Creature From the Black Lagoon and Others -- to Be a Part of NBC's 'Munsters' Reboot

“Mockingbird Lane,” NBC’s reboot of "The Munsters" from Bryan Fuller, will tap into Universal's library of classic monsters, adding characters such as the Wolfman and the Creature from the Black Lagoon to the show, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"'Once Upon a Time' has fairy tales. We have Universal monsters, which for me are the fairy tales of my youth," Fuller tells the publication. "That's where I grew up, loving 'The Munsters,' the Wolfman, Frankenstein, Dracula, the Metaluna monster from 'Silent Earth' and the Mole People. I would love to rope in all of those characters from those stories, as well as get the Cat People and get those types of things."

Fuller, who said he expects to hear in August whether the show gets a series order, is currently working on stories involving the Phantom of the Opera and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the story notes.

The pilot will be told from Herman Munster's point of view, which was the suggestion of Bob Greenblatt, the chief of NBC Entertainment, Fuller noted.

"The emotional point of view is from Herman because it really is about a father who is realizing his child is taking after the other side of the family," Fuller notes. "Everything is a metaphor for something that you can identify with in a relationship; the fact that Herman is in a constant state of decay, and he's married to someone who doesn't age. We get to play with all those insecurities."

As for the theme song of the original show, Fuller said the producers are negotiating the rights to use it for the reboot. "We're going to try to work it out so we can use the theme in the show. But we don't know yet if we can," he says.

creature-from-black-lagoon.jpgCreature from the Black Lagoon

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Rush Limbaugh Accuses Latest Batman Movie of Anti-Romney Brainwashing

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh indicated on his show Tuesday that the producers of Warner Bros.’ latest Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” are secretly trying to brainwash film goers, Deadline.com reports.

Limbaugh’s main problem with the movie appears to be the name of the villain, Bane. Limbaugh implies it’s not accidental that the villain has a similar name to Bain Capital, a company Romney has been involved with that has come up as an issue in the presidential election.

Even though Batman comics introduced the Bane character in 1993, Limbaugh insinuates that the appearance of the character now is intentional.

The report quotes Limbaugh saying that “a lot of brain-dead people, entertainment, the pop culture crowd [are] gonna hear Bane in the movie and they’re gonna associate Bain. The thought is that when they start paying attention to the campaign later in the year, and Obama and the Democrats keep talking about Bain ... Romney and Bain, that these people will think back to the Batman movie. … There are some people who think it’ll work. Others think you’re really underestimating the American people to think that will work.”

Limbaugh also says: “You may think it’s ridiculous, I’m just telling you this is the kind of stuff the Obama team is lining up. The kind of people who would draw this comparison are the kind of people that they are campaigning to. These are the kind of people that they are attempting to appeal to.”

The Bane character also appeared in the 1997 movie “Batman & Robin,” played by Robert Swenson, the story notes.

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Better Free Up Your Tuesday Nights: NBC's 'Minute to Win It' Sells Off-Network Rights, With Programs to Air in Four-Hour Blocks

The off-network rights to NBC's "Minute to Win It" have been sold to a cable network, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

GSN will air four episodes in a four-hour block on Tuesday nights, starting on July 24, with the network buying 68 episodes of the game show.

The hour-long show was hosted by Guy Fieri and ran for two seasons before being canceled in May. The format features 10 simple games, with two contestants who often work as a team trying to complete the challenges within a minute.

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Discovery Channel Names New Head of Programming

Discovery Channel announced today that it has appointed a new head of programming, Deadline.com reports. The channel named Scott Lewers as senior vice president of programming.

Lewers will be based at the company’s Silver Spring headquarters and will report to Eileen O’Neill, group president of Discovery & TLC Networks.

Said O’Neill: “Scott brings great energy and creative vision to our Discovery team. With his formidable track record of innovations and insights, we look forward to executing on a strong programming and scheduling strategy that continues the network’s successes.”

Lewers was Vice President of Strategic Multi-Platform Program Planning & Acquisitions at Oxygen Media/NBCU before joining Discovery.

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20th Century Fox TV Signs 'Zombieland' Director to Pod Deal

20th Century Fox Television has signed "Zombieland" director Ruben Fleischer to an overall pod deal, which will allow him to develop, direct and executive produce comedy and drama projects, reports TheWrap.com.

Fleischer will also create a production company based at Fox as part of the two-year agreement. He recently finished directing and executive producing the film "Gangster Squad," which will be released Sept. 7 and stars Sean Penn and Ryan Gosling.

Fleischer started in television by directing segments for "Jimmy Kimmel Live," the story says.

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Grammy Winner Joins NBC's 'The Voice'

A Grammy Award-winning singer has signed on for the upcoming season of NBC’s “The Voice,” where she will be part of Adam Levine’s team, Rolling Stone reports.

The new team member is R&B star Mary J. Blige, who will be an adviser to the Levine team during the show’s third season.

Levine had Robin Thicke and Alanis Morrisette on his team last season.

Also joining “The Voice” is Michael Buble, who was recently announced as a member of Blake Shelton’s team.

"The Voice" premieres Sept. 10. The show is slated for fall and spring runs during 2012-2013.

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ABC Shows Hit Season Lows

ABC’s prime-time lineup hit season-low numbers Monday, according to Nielsen overnights cited by TVbytheNumbers.com. The network’s two-hour “The Bachelorette” pulled in a 2.2 average rating in the key demo of adults 18-49, while “The Glass House” managed only a 1.0 -- equaling last week’s season low.

For “The Bachelorette” it was a season low, not counting holiday broadcasts, and was off three-tenths of a ratings point from a week ago.

ABC still finished second to Fox for prime time overall. Fox came in with a 2.6 average rating in 18-49, ahead of ABC (1.8 average), Univision (1.5), NBC (1.4) and an all-repeat lineup on CBS (1.1). Fox also won total viewers for the night, averaging 6.3 million to ABC’s 5.6 million, CBS’s 4.9 million, Univision’s 3.9 million and NBC’s 3.8 million.

Fox’s food-reality shows “Hell’s Kitchen” and “MasterChef” both delivered 2.6 averages in viewers 18-49, tying for top show of the night.

NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” bounced back from last week’s series low, up three-tenths to a 1.7 in 18-49, while “Fear Factor” rose one-tenth to a 1.5.

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Oops: NBC's 'Today' Airs Footage of the Wrong African-American NFL Quarterback (Here's the Video)

NBC's "Today" show had an embarrassing goof on the air today, running a clip of an NFL quarterback that it thought was the show’s guest, Michael Vick. The Huffington Post reports that the footage was actually of another quarterback, Jerrod Johnson.

Vick was being interviewed by Matt Lauer on the show to promote his book "Finally Free," which talks about Vick’s experiences being convicted of dog-fighting and serving time in prison. When the NBC show cut to footage of what was supposed to be Vick on the field, the footage showed the wrong player.

Both Vick and Johnson are African-American. Vick wears number 7 on his jersey, while Johnson wears number 8. Additionally, Vick is left-handed while Johnson is right-handed.

Some online outlets were also initially confused by the incident, reporting in error that the footage was of quarterback Vince Young.

Video clips of the incident appeared on a variety of online sites, with many of them using NBC News as a source. But by midday today the source clip appeared to be edited to delete the erroneous footage -- creating a mix of original and “redacted” clips around the Internet. For now, we have footage that shows the errant clip, courtesy of Guyism.com. Here it is:

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Cable Channel Greenlights Four Series

One cable channel is having a busy week, rolling out plans for four new series, Deadline.com reports. The channel is CMT, which unveiled two shows for fall 2012 and two others to bow in 2013.

“Chainsaw Gang,” set for fall 2012, is a 10-episode reality show focused on chainsaw artists, featuring Stacy Poitras. Also set for fall, with a Sept. 15 premiere date, is “Redneck Intervention,” in which a “former redneck” faces family members and friends who want the subject to return to his or her country roots.

Set for 2013 is “Full Metal Racket” (working title), which follows the family running the Knob Creek Gun Range in Kentucky. Another show set for 2013 is “Rock Raiders” (working title), a 10-episode series that tracks a pair of music memorabilia collectors.

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Fantasy Novel Series to Become Cable Show, With 'Battlestar Galactica' EP Behind the Project

A “Battlestar Galactica” executive producer and developer has closed a deal with Sony Pictures TV for the rights to a fantasy/adventure series that he will turn into a cable series, Deadline.com reports.

“Galactica’s” Ron Moore will write the adaptation of the "Outlander" book series, by novelist Diana Gabaldon, the story reports.

Jim Kohlberg's Story Mining and Supply Co. will produce the show, which will be shopped to the cable nets this week.

"Outlander" is currently a set of seven (soon to be eight) bestsellers about a nurse named Claire during World War II who is transported back in time to the Scottish Highlands of 1743. There she finds the love of her life, Jamie, a Scottish warrior.

The books have a loyal, large following and are even credited with improving Scottish tourism. Before "Galactica," Moore worked on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Deep Space Nine."

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'Queen of Country Music' Dies

A legendary country singer who was known as the “Queen of Country Music” died Monday in Madison, Tenn., the Los Angeles Times reports. Kitty Wells, 92, died of complications after suffering a stroke.

Wells’ career goes back to the 1930s, but it wasn’t until 1952 that she recorded her signature song, the No. 1 hit “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.” She was one of the first women to make an impact in country music, and is credited with helping to change gender roles not just in music but in rural America.

Wells, the most successful female singer of the 1950s and early 1960s, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1977.

She was ready to give up on her music career and become a stay-at-home mom in 1952 when the opportunity came up to record one more song. “Mostly she was interested in the $125 union scale pay she'd get for the session, at which she recorded ‘It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels,’ a song that not only turned her career around but also helped upend stereotypical thinking about men who strayed and the women they strayed with,” the story reports.

In a 2001 interview, Wells said: "I had decided I wasn't going to work anymore. When it started making a hit, it wasn't too long before I had to go back to work."

The story notes: “Her recording delivered a strikingly assertive response to Hank Thompson's massive 1952 hit ‘The Wild Side of Life,’ in which a man laid all blame on a woman he met in a honky tonk for breaking up his marriage and then leaving him to go ‘where the wine and liquor flows, where you wait to be anybody's baby.’

“Wells, singing a song written by J.D. Miller, shot back, ‘It wasn't God who made honky tonk angels/As you said in the words of your song/Too many times married men think they're still single/That has caused many a good girl to go wrong.’"

The song went to the top of the country charts, staying at No. 1 for six weeks and kick-starting Wells’ career. She continued to record hits through the 1970s.

She followed her first hit with another answer song, “Paying for That Back Street Affair,” a 1953 response to Webb Pierce’s “Back Street Affair.” Other hits included “One by One,” recorded with Red Foley, “As Long as I Live,” “Release Me” and “Making Believe.”

She was the first female country singer to put out her own album, with the 1956 release “Country Hit Parade.”


Kitty Wells

Here’s a clip of Wells singing her signature hit, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels,” at the Grand Ole Opry:

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Another Popular Comedian Gets Caught in Daniel Tosh Rape Joke Controversy

Comedian Daniel Tosh’s high-profile hassle over a rape joke has claimed another victim, in what appears to be a case of bad timing, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Louis C.K. says he inadvertently got labeled as a “defender of rape” because he happened to send a greeting to Tosh at the wrong moment.

“The world's most popular standup comic and writer/director/star of ‘Louie’ appeared on ‘The Daily Show’ on Monday to try to clear the air about what has become the fuel of a major internet debate and the cause of some angry outrage,” the story reports. “As C.K. explained, he was vacationing in Vermont, unaware of the growing controversy, and watching an episode of ‘Tosh.0’ made him laugh enough that he tweeted some kind words to the host.”

C.K. apparently found out a few days later that Tosh was involved in a controversy over his use of a rape joke at an L.A. comedy club, as we reported last week. And C.K.’s tweet to Tosh was now part of the controversy.

Said C.K.: “And so I'm a defender of rape, that's what everyone says now. And I've read all this stuff that's like 'Shame on you, Louis C.K.' and 'I'll never watch your show, you're a rape apologist.' I've been called a rape apologist because I said hi to a guy who everyone was mad at."

C.K. added his own perspective on the Tosh controversy: "Here's the thing: This is a fight between comedians and bloggers. We're all just, hyperbole and garbage comes out of those two places. Just uneducated, unfettered blahh. It's also a fight between comedians and feminists, which are natural enemies. Because stereotypically speaking, feminists can't take a joke, and on the other side, comedians can't take criticism. Comedians are big pussies."

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Award-Winning But Canceled TV Show Might Go to Broadway

An award-winning ABC series that was canceled in 2009 might become a Broadway show, TVLine.com reports. The show is "Pushing Daisies," which aired from 2007-2009 and won a number of Emmys during its run -- including outstanding directing for Barry Sonnenfeld in 2008 and outstanding supporting actress for Kristin Chenoweth in 2009.

Show creator Bryan Fuller hinted at the Broadway angle during a panel at Comic-Con, the story notes. "We’re working on something that is definitely a 'Pushing Daisies' revival,” he said, “and the idea would be to have as many cast [members] as we can to participate in it.”

"Mockingbird Lane," one of Fuller's current projects, "looks like a $150 million movie," he added. His other project "Hannibal," a prequel to "Silence of the Lambs," will start shooting in August, the piece notes.

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'Today' Falls to 'Good Morning America'

Ratings results are in for Savannah Guthrie’s first week as co-host of “Today,” and the NBC morning show lost to ABC rival "Good Morning America," TVNewser.com reports.

"GMA" beat "Today" by more than 350,000 total viewers, marking a record for “GMA.” In the key news demo of adults 25-54, ABC was just 2,000 viewers behind NBC. ABC hasn't won a week in the demographic for the past 16 years, the story notes.

NBC News President Steve Capus dismissed a query about the show's ratings in a call with reporters, noting that the ratings are "a small piece of this entire portfolio; any number of our different properties are going to have good days and not so good days," according to the report.

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Actor Known for Porn Stars and Hotel Meltdowns Earns a Much Different Distinction

Actor Charlie Sheen may be known more for his wild antics -- including frolicking with porn stars and getting involved in late-night hotel room brawls -- but now he’s adding a much different distinction to his resume, TMZ.com reports.

Sheen is donating at least $1 million to the United Service Organization -- a contribution that would be the largest single donation the USO has ever received from one person, the story reports. The group provides a variety of services for men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The money will come from the profits from Sheen’s new FX show "Anger Management," with Sheen vowing to donate 1% of profits -- a commitment that the story says will add up to a minimum of $1 million and an unlimited cap.

“[Sheen's] support is greatly appreciated, especially from our wounded warriors and their families," said General John I. Pray Jr., executive vice president and Joint Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force, in a statement.

As previously reported, "Anger Management" has been losing viewers since its debut, with its fourth episode shedding shedding 28% of total viewers from the previous week.

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Lady Gaga Bares All for New Ad Campaign

Pop singer Lady Gaga is known for pushing boundaries, and a new ad campaign should keep her reputation intact. E! Online reports that Gaga’s new campaign for her Fame fragrance includes revealing -- make that naked -- photos of the 26-year-old pop star.

“In the black-and-white shot, Gaga wears a black face mask and nothing else,” the story reports. “There appear to be tiny men climbing up the singer's lithe figure, strategically covering up her private areas.

Gaga tweeted about the new project, writing: "i won't lie I'm a bit nervous. its been a while since i've shared some work with you. But i'm so proud of Steven [Klein, the photographer] +I, we really did not sleep!"

Here’s a look at the ad ...

Thumbnail image for lady-gaga-fame-ad.jpg

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Which Two Actors Were First Choices for 'Breaking Bad'? Bryan Cranston Wasn't Among Them

Two actors were the first choices to play Walter White in AMC’s "Breaking Bad," with the show's star, Bryan Cranston, not among them, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The producers initially wanted either John Cusack or Matthew Broderick, with both actors known for iconic roles in 1980s films -- Cusack in "Say Anything …" and Broderick in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."

"We all still had the image of Bryan shaving his body in 'Malcolm in the Middle'. We were like, 'Really? Isn't there anybody else?'" one executive recalled, according to the story.

When Cusack and Broderick both passed, creator Vince Gilligan showed executives an episode of Cranston's performance in a 1998 "X-Files" episode in which he played a man suffering from radiation exposure. That helped change minds about Cranston, the story notes.

While the character originally was conceived as a 40-year-old, AMC asked for his age to be increased to 50 because "at 40 he's a little too young to have this crisis," former AMC Vice President of production Vlad Wolynetz said. Cranston, now 56, has won three Emmys playing the character.

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With TV Business at 'Inflection Point,' TiVo Will Purchase Research Company

TRA, a research company with a system that matches up television viewing with buying habits, will be bought by TiVo, reports Bill Carter in The New York Times.

TiVo will spend about $20 million to buy out TRA's other investors, a modest deal, although TiVo President Tom Rogers said the prospects are favorable.

"We believe television is at an inflection point,” Rogers tells the publication. “In the digital realm you measure click by click and get increasingly granular information. This kind of metric has not developed well in the television space before now.”

TRA collects information from 1.5 million set-top cable boxes and anonymously matches viewers with information from the kinds of loyalty cards that are used at supermarkets, as well as other measures such as car-registration data, the story notes.

The five-year-old company has 27 cable and broadcast network clients, with 45 advertising brands such as Mars candy bars also counted as clients.

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Larry King Teams With Popular Online Video Site, Debuts New Show

Larry King is debuting his new talk show online, The New York Times’ Media Decoder reports, with his premiere already up on the popular online-streaming site Hulu.

"Larry King Now" has posted its first interview, which is with Seth MacFarlane. Hulu will post episodes with Meghan McCain and Matthew McConaughey later this week, according to the story.

By adding "Larry King Now," Hulu will have a four-day-a-week talk show, helping the site toward its goal of including more original shows, the piece notes. The half-hour show will be posted Monday though Thursday.

The show comes to Hulu in part through Carlos Slim Helu's Ora TV, a startup that has been relatively quiet since it was announced in March, the piece points out. The agreement "is a recognition that new online networks need outside help to reach viewers," according to the article.

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Emmy-Winning TV Director and Producer Bill Asher -- He Was Behind Hundreds of Episodes of 'I Love Lucy,' 'Bewitched' and Other Hit Shows -- Dead at 90

Bill Asher, a veteran TV director and producer who was behind hundreds of episodes of hit shows, has died, the Desert Sun reports. Asher died Monday in Palm Desert, Calif.

Asher was the primary director of "I Love Lucy," and later received four Emmy nominations for directing and producing "Bewitched," which starred his then-wife Elizabeth Montgomery, the story notes. He won the Emmy for best director for the program in 1966.

Deadline.com reports: "He eventually worked with pretty much every TV legend-to-be there was, from Danny Thomas to Dinah Shore to Sally Field, on shows ranging from 'The Patty Duke Show,' which he co-created with Sidney Sheldon, to 'The Thin Man,' the Linda Lavin-starring 'Alice,' 'Private Benjamin' and 'Harper Valley.'"

Asher also directed “Gidget,” and went on to direct beach movies such as "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini" and "Beach Party." He retired from film and TV in 1991.

bill-asher-elizabeth-montgomery.jpgBill Asher with Elizabeth Montgomery

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With Channel Blacked Out on DirecTV, Ratings for Nickelodeon Plunge

With the loss of carriage in a dispute with satellite broadcaster DirecTV, ratings for Viacom's Nickelodeon network have plunged by about one-third, reports Joe Flint in the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog.

Nickelodeon's total day audience was about 1.8 million on July 10, the last day the network was carried before the dispute disrupted service, according to the story. The following day, total day audience plunged 33% to 1.2 million, while on Friday the average rose slightly to 1.3 million.

"Losing carriage on DirecTV couldn't have come at a worse time for Nickelodeon," Flint writes. "The cable network, which caters its programming to kids and teens with shows that include 'SpongeBob SquarePants' and 'Dora the Explorer,' has seen its audience shrink over the past year while rival Disney Channel has made gains."

It's not clear when a deal will come, although talks are ongoing between Viacom and DirecTV. DirecTV has made a number of programming moves in response to the impasse, as previously reported.

Other Viacom networks have also lost viewers, with MTV's total day average dropping 43% to 273,000 on July 13 from 500,000 viewers on July 10.

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Modest Opening for Sigourney Weaver Miniseries

USA Network's "Political Animals," which stars Sigourney Weaver as the former first lady who becomes Secretary of State, debuted Sunday to a relatively soft start with 2.6 million viewers, reports Deadline.com.

The miniseries, from Greg Berlanti and Laurence Mark, is getting a push on alternate platforms such as Hulu and USANetwork.com, in an effort to attract more viewers, the story notes.

Demo numbers for Sunday’s telecast included 675,000 adults 18-49 and 834,000 adults 25-54, the report notes.

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Founder of Legendary Rock Band Dies

One of the founding members of a seminal British rock band has died, The Huffington Post reports. Keyboard player Jon Lord, a founder of Deep Purple, died today at 71.

“A statement on Lord's official website says the Leicester, England-born musician suffered a fatal pulmonary embolism in London after a long battle with pancreatic cancer,” the story reports.

Lord co-wrote some of Deep Purple’s most famous songs, including “Smoke on the Water.” He later was a member of Whitesnake, and also had a successful solo career.

The report notes: “Earlier this month, Lord canceled a performance of his Durham Concerto in Germany. At the time, his website assured fans that it was ‘not a matter for concern, but it is a continuation of his regular treatment that has just taken longer than anticipated.’"

Lord informed fans in 2011 that he was fighting cancer and would take a break from performing "while getting the treatment and cure," the report notes.

About a year ago he wrote: "I shall of course be continuing to write music -- in my world it just has to be part of the therapy -- and I fully expect to be back in good shape next year."

Jon-Lord.jpgJon Lord

Here’s a clip of Deep Purple, with Lord on keyboards, performing the classic “Highway Star” in 1972:

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Top Woman Executive at Google Named Yahoo's New CEO

One of Google's top executves has been named as the newest president and CEO of Yahoo, reports The New York Times' DealBook blog.

"Marissa Mayer, one of the top executives at Google, will be the next C.E.O. of Yahoo, making her one of the most prominent women in Silicon Valley and corporate America, writes DealBook's Andrew Ross Sorkin and Evelyn M. Rusli, adding, "The appointment of Ms. Mayer, who was employee No. 20 at Google and was one of the few public faces of the company, is considered a surprising coup for Yahoo, which has struggled in recent years to attract top flight talent in its battle with competitors like Google and Facebook."

The story continues, "Ms. Mayer, 37, had for years been responsible for the look and feel of Google’s most popular products: the famously unadorned white search homepage, Gmail, Google News and Google Images. More recently, Ms. Mayer, an engineer by training whose first job at Google included computer programming, was put in charge of the company’s location and local services, including Google Maps, overseeing more than 1,000 product managers. She also sat on Google’s operating committee, part of a small circle of senior executives who had the ear of Google’s co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin."

                                                                    marissamayer.jpgMarissa Meyer

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'Idol's' Lythgoe Talks About Departures of Lopez and Tyler -- and About Replacing Them

"American Idol" executive producer Nigel Lythgoe opened up about the departures of judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler from the Fox musical competition show and offered hints to the show’s future during an interview today on “Idol” host Ryan Seacrest's radio show, RyanSeacrest.com reports.

Commenting on the decisions by Lopez and Tyler to leave the show, Lythgoe said: “I have to respect both Jennifer and Steven’s decisions. They’ve got a much bigger career than just sitting judging ‘Idol.’ They’re both very talented people and you have to respect their decision to carry on and do what they were doing before ‘Idol.’ It breaks my heart, because I love them both dearly.”

Lythgoe thinks limiting the terms for judges might be a good idea. "I think what we’ve seriously got to talk about is just using people for a year,” he said during a call-in to “On Air with Ryan Seacrest.” “Because if we do want these big stars, and we do, you cannot take them away from what they do. That’s depriving the public of a star, for a start, but also earning a lot of money.”

Responding to rumors about who is in the running for judges’ jobs -- Charlie Sheen and Jerry Lewis have been mentioned, with Denis Leary’s name also surfacing recently -- Lythgoe said: "I love so many people. When names come by you go: 'Wouldn’t they be fantastic, wouldn’t they be great.’ But at the end of the day … it’s chemistry. No matter how good you are as an individual, it’s how you fit into a panel of other people as well. So we’ve got our work cut out for us.”

That Jerry Lewis rumor may not be as serious as some people think. During the discussion of who the show might get to replace Lopez and Tyler, Lythgoe said: “I think it’s a tough one, there are so many names coming at me at the moment, I joke about it and say: ‘Oh, I’m looking for the Three Stooges or Jerry Lewis.’”

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Family Member Points Finger at Sylvester Stallone in Death of Stallone's Son

Amid speculation about the reasons behind the death of Sylvester Stallone’s son Sage Moonblood Stallone, the New York Daily News reports that one family member is pointing the finger at Sage’s famous father.

“Sage's cousin, 18-year-old Edd Filiti, posted an angry message on Facebook Friday that suggested that the ‘Rocky’ actor himself was at least partially to blame for Sage's death,” the story reports. “In the posts, obtained by Celebuzz but since removed, Filiti explained that the elder Stallone had essentially cut Sage, 36, out of his life, a move that devastated the filmmaker and may have led to his early demise.”

According to Celebuzz, Filiti wrote: "What did he do wrong, say happy birthday. Neither you [Stallone's wife Jennifer Flavin] or he could return a phone call, which is all he wanted, his father.

"I know you don't care what happened, but you'll care when you’re squirming under the burning magnifying glass of public opinion. You people make me f------ sick."

Sage Stallone’s body was found Friday in his Hollywood Hills home -- reportedly surrounded by bottles of prescription pills. As we reported earlier today, Sylvester Stallone has asked that the media and others honor Sage Stallone’s memory by refraining from speculating about his death.

The report adds: “Police officials did not specify what type of pills were found, and whether or not they played a part in Sage's death, though they said the death was likely an accident since no suicide note was found, and foul play was not suspected.”

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Celebrity Chefs in Racially Charged Food Fight

Two celebrity chefs have become mired in a war of words, with one chef accusing the other of a racially tinged tirade, the New York Post reports.

“Harlem celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson claims fellow TV food master Gordon Ramsay hurled a racial slur at him during an odd, ego-fueled tirade,” the story reports. “Samuelsson, born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden, was working as guest chef at London’s swanky Lanesborough Hotel in 2000 when Ramsay allegedly went nuts over the phone.”

Samuelsson, the 2012 winner of Food Network's "Chopped All Stars: Judges Remix," has a new book out in which he recounts the incident. The account indicates Ramsay was upset because Samuelsson had failed to mention him in an interview in which Samuelsson was asked about his role models.

Samuelsson’s account, printed in the Daily Mail, includes this passage, reportedly quoting Ramsay: “‘I’m going to make sure you have a f--king miserable time here. This is my city, you hear? Good luck, you f--king black bastard.’ Then he hung up.”

The Post reports: “A spokesman for ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ master Ramsay said the episode never happened. ‘We’re shocked by these completely false and extremely offensive accusations,’ he said.”

marcus-samuelsson.jpgMarcus Samuelsson

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TNT Orders Drama Pilot With Michael Bay as EP

TNT has placed a pilot order for an action drama series, with “Transformers” director Michael Bay to executive produce.

The project is “The Last Ship,” based on the William Brinkley novel.

“The project comes to TNT from Platinum Dunes partners Brad Fuller and Andrew Form, whose credits include ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ and ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,’ with showrunner Hank Steinberg (‘Without a Trace’) and Steven Kane (‘The Closer’) also serving as executive producers. Steinberg and Kane wrote the pilot script,” the company reports.

The story focuses on the destruction of much of the Earth’s population by a global catastrophe, which forces the crew of a naval destroyer to deal with a new reality in which they are among only a handful of survivors.

Michael Wright, president, head of programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies (TCM), said: "The book ‘The Last Ship’ is a gripping page-turner that has all the makings of a terrific television drama, including a great premise, memorable characters, intense situations and heart-racing action. We believe this show will take viewers on a thrilling ride and fits perfectly with TNT’s expanding lineup of original dramas.”

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AMC Drama Returns to Record Premiere Ratings

The season premiere of an AMC drama Sunday night pulled in some big numbers, including a series best for a premiere, EW.com reports.

“Breaking Bad” attracted 2.9 million viewers for the debut, up 14% from last year’s premiere, the story reports. The number equaled last year’s season finale.

Adding in the encore broadcast, the show delivered 3.5 million viewers.

The show was up 34% in adults 18-49.

The report notes: “’Breaking Bad’ has had a remarkable run. Though the acclaimed drama has never been a huge performer, the show has managed to grow its audience every season. That doesn’t normally happen for heavily serialized shows, which typically peak in their first few years.”

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Performer Known as One of the World's Greatest Singers Reportedly Seeking 'Idol' Job

She's been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, won 18 Grammys, ranked at the top of Rolling Stone's list of the greatest 100 singers of all time -- and now she wants to be a judge on "American Idol," reports TMZ.com.

The performer is Aretha Franklin -- the Queen of Soul -- who reportedly sent an email on Saturday that read, "Yes, I am interested as a judge," according to the site.

Franklin's interest comes after both Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez said they wouldn't return for the show's next season. Fox and Fremantle Media, the producer of the program, haven't commented on her interest, according to the piece.

aretha-franklin.jpgAretha Franklin

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Report: What iPhone 5 Will Look Like, Based on Leaked Photos. See for Yourself

CNET says it has a good idea what the front of the yet-to-be released iPhone 5 will look like, due to photos that have been leaked to the Internet.

Says CNET, "New leaked photos published by Chinese blog Apple.pro purportedly show the front section of the new iPhone casing -- and it's not much different from the old one. There on the right of the picture is the space for the single home button that's been a feature of the iPhone from day one, with the round hole on the left of the shot making space for the FaceTime video-calling camera, now moved to the centre of the face."

Furthermore, the display of the new phone is rumored to be 4 inches, up from the current display area of 3.5 inches.


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Report: 'American Idol' Seeking to Cut Staff and Salaries

"American Idol" is seeking to cut its budgets, staff and salaries for the show's 12th season, an effort that may make it more difficult for the show to recruit new talent to the judges' table, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Jennifer Lopez, who reportedly earned between $15 million and $20 million as a judge, had been seeking another raise, the piece notes. As previously reported, both she and Steven Tyler have announced their decisions to leave the show.

It's not certain whether Randy Jackson will return either, but he may have an edge since he manages Mariah Carey, who has reportedly been considered for the judges' panel, the story notes.

"According to other well-placed insiders, in the hours that followed both Tyler’s and Lopez’s announcement, a mild panic seemed to set in for those intimately involved with the show as war room-like meetings behind closed doors were hastily assembled and cell phones beeped nonstop," the article notes.

"Public opinion came down fast and furious, too. Among the revelations: that in the end, superstars Lopez and Tyler saw their careers flourish with lucrative endorsement opportunities and music on the charts, but didn’t really help the 'Idol' franchise; in fact, they may have hurt it," according to the story.

The report notes that the show’s most recent season finale was “Idol’s” lowest rated ever.

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Do Funny TV Commercials Work? Research Gives Surprising Answer; Also, the Funniest Ads Are Ranked (See the Videos Here)

Funny television commercials make up one out of five commercials airing on television, and new research from syndicated advertising-testing firm Ace Metrix tested many of the funniest ads to see whether they actually help to sell things, reports Advertising Age.

The conclusion: Funny ads generally don't work better than other commercials, according to the story.

That's not to say that viewers don't like the spots, according to the story. Humorous ads receive more attention and are liked more by viewers, but the report found little correlation with effectiveness.

"In fact, funny ads were slightly less likely to increase desire or purchase intent than unfunny ones," the article notes.

Still, combining humor with relevance and information can be one way to keep people tuned in to an ad, according to Peter Daboll, chief executive of Ace Metrix.

"If you're equal on relevance and information, almost always funny will win" over unfunny ads, Daboll said, "because it drives the other scores like likability and attention."

Ace Metrix ranked the funniest ads to debut in the U.S. between January 2011 and March 2012, with DirecTV, Walmart, Chevrolet, Huggies and Buffalo Wild Wings among the marketers placing spots in the top 10.

The firm also ranked the top 10 funniest brands, with Clorox, Doritos, Miller Lite, Geico and eBay all making the list.

Here’s one of our favorites among the ads that were ranked the funniest.

Click here to see other clips, and the top 10 rankings.

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Sylvester Stallone Speaks Out About Death of His Son

Actor Sylvester Stallone, whose son Sage Moonblood Stallone was found dead Friday in his Hollywood home, has commented on his grief and on speculation about the cause of Sage’s death, People magazine reports.

Rumors surfaced almost immediately after the news of the death, incuding a report that Sage Stallone, 36, died from a prescription drug overdose. But officials said such reports are premature, and autopsy results will not be known for several weeks.

Sylvester Stallone, 66, said in a statement: "When a parent loses a child there is no greater pain. Therefore I am imploring people to respect my talented son's memory and feel compassion for his loving mother Sasha."

The actor added: "This agonizing loss will be felt for the rest of our lives. Sage was our first child and the center of our universe and I am humbly begging for all to have my son's memory and soul left in peace."

sage-stallone.jpgSage Moonblood Stallone

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Sci-Fi TV Series May Be Headed to Big Screen

A science-fiction series that is set to wrap up its run on broadcast television may live on as a feature film, Deadline.com reports. The series is Fox's “Fringe,” which is set to premiere its fifth and final season later this year.

“The film is very possible down the line,” said John Noble, who plays scientist Walter Bishop on the show.

His fellow cast member Joshua Jackson added, “The show will live on in some form or another,” according to the story.

Both spoke at Comic-Con, where hundreds of fans held up print-outs of white tulips, referring to an episode of the show in which the flower represented forgiveness, the piece notes.

"Beyond the actor’s speculation and fond hopes, not a lot was revealed in where things were going in season five or down the line," according to the piece.

The fifth season debuts Sept. 28.

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He Produced 'Jaws' (1975) and 'Alice in Wonderland' (2010). In Between He Produced 'The Exorcist,' 'Driving Miss Daisy,' 'The Verdict' and 'Cocoon,' Among Others. Producer From Fabled Hollywood Family Dies at 77

He produced some of the best-known movies of the last 40 years, including Steven Spielberg's "Jaws," the hit "Alice in Wonderland" with Johnny Depp, "The Exorcist," "The Verdict," "Cocoon" and the Oscar-wiinning Best Picture "Driving Miss Daisy."

Producer Richard Zanuck died at age 77 on Firiday, July 13, 2012, according to The New York Times.

Says the Times obituary, "Richard D. Zanuck, the once-spurned son of the legendary Hollywood producer Darryl F. Zanuck who carved out his own career as a frequently honored producer, running up more than $2 billion in grosses and, by producing “Driving Miss Daisy” in 1989, becoming the only son to duplicate a father’s best-picture Oscar, died on Friday at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif." 

The cause of death was a heart attack, the story said.

The Times said,"In high school and college, [Richard Zanuck] worked in a different department at Fox every summer. In 1962, when Mr. Zanuck was still in his 20s, his father defied charges of nepotism and made him Fox’s production chief. Under Richard, the studio won 159 Oscar nominations, and three movies -- “The Sound of Music,” “Patton” and “The French Connection” -- were named best picture.

"Darryl Zanuck, a cigar-chomping Midwesterner who never made it to high school and waved a polo mallet to reinforce a conversational point, fired his son in 1970 after a studio shake-up," the story reports. "The father was trying to save his own job, unsuccessfully. Richard Zanuck’s resentment lasted almost until his father’s death, in 1979."

Richard Zanuck partnered witth David Brown for a number of the films he produced.

Steven Spielberg, who directed "Jaws" and subsequently has gone on to produce a number of his own pictures, as well as those of others, said in a statement about Richard Zanuck that he “taught me everything I know about producing.”

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Quarterly Report on Prime-Time TV Ratings: 'Broadcast Has Taken a Beating'; Here Are the Grim Numbers

An analysis of the ratings for the second quarter of 2012 paints a grim picture of the situation for broadcast TV, even with DVR viewing factored in, Deadline.com reports.

Michael Nathanson of Nomura Securities says in his quarterly report on prime-time viewing: “There is no way to sugarcoat this. Broadcast has taken a beating.”

The analyst’s report, released today, focuses on the C3 metric -- the same measurement advertisers and networks care about most -- which adds in DVR viewing up to three days after live broadcast.

Deadline reports: “He finds that the major networks were down 9.4% among the target 18 to 49 year olds vs the same period last year while cable networks were only off 0.4%. It’s the second consecutive quarter of substantial declines for broadcasters. And it’s worrisome for them because many now want to count DVR eyeballs -- even though lots of users skip over ads.”

As for live viewing, it continues to trend downward -- now showing declines for 15 quarters in a row. Live viewing in Q2 was off 15.2% for broadcast nets and 4.3% for cable.

The report adds: “Fox was hit hardest with C3 ratings -18.7% followed by NBC (-11.8%) and ABC (-9.7%). CBS, however, was up 8.4%. Over in cable, companies with meaningful increases in year-over-year C3 ratings were Disney (+25.8%) and Scripps Networks (+8.8%) -- results were gloomier for AMC Networks (-8.2%), Viacom (-7.7%), and Time Warner (-6.6%).”

In the good news department, the analysis found that new adopters of DVR are less eager to skip ads than earlier adopters.

“The percentage of broadcast commercials skipped by DVR users dropped to 46.7% in the 2011/2012 season from 58.8% in 2007/2008,” the story reports. “For cable, 50.4% of the ads were skipped this past season vs. 52.8% in 2007/2008.”

Meanwhile, the percentage of DVR households increased from 40% a year ago to 47% during Q2.

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Oscar-Winning Actress Dies

A veteran film and TV actress who won an Academy Award for "Gentleman's Agreement" in 1947 has died, reports CNN.com. Celeste Holm was 95.

Holm shifted to television after buying out her Fox contract following the 1950 film "All About Eve," and went on to appear” in her own series "Honestly, Celeste!" in 1954 and in dozens of other series. Her last TV credit was an episode of "Whoopi" in 2004. She is known for her role as the Fairy Godmother in Rogers and Hammerstein's 1965 TV series "Cinderella."

After starting in show business with a touring production of "Hamlet," Holm debuted on Broadway in 1939 with "The Time of Your Life." She signed a contract with 20th Century-Fox, starting her film career in 1945.

"Her official biography said she was challenged in 'finding parts appropriate for this intelligent blonde who didn't fit their Betty Grable “pin-up girl” mold,'" according to the story.

Holm was nominated for two Emmys, in 1968 for “Insight” and in 1979 for “Backstairs at the White House,” and for a Daytime Emmy in 1987 for “Loving.” In addition to her Oscar, she won a Golden Globe for her supporting role in “Gentleman’s Agreement.” She was nominated for two other Oscars, for “Come to the Stable” in 1950 and “All About Eve” in 1951.

celeste-holm.jpgCeleste Holm

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After Three-Plus Years in Bankruptcy, Tribune Wins Court Approval to Come Out of It

Three and a half years after seeking Chapter 11 protection, Tribune has received court approval to exit bankruptcy, reports Reuters.

The approval was granted Friday by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Carey in Wilmington, Del., with the judge overruling objections to the plan by creditors, the story notes. He said he plans to confirm the company's fourth amended reorganization plan after some revisions have been made, the piece adds.

The approval means Tribune will be able to request that the Federal Communications Commission transfer broadcast licenses to new owners. That process, which could take several months, is needed before Tribune can emerge from bankruptcy, according to the story.

Chief Executive Eddy Hartenstein wrote in an email to staff that he expects the judge within several days to formally approve the plan, adding that he hopes the FCC will next act quickly, the article says.

Tribune, which owns 23 television stations, was taken private in 2007 in an $8.2 billion buyout by real estate investor Sam Zell. The company, which also owns newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, suffered as ad sales slipped, and it filed for Chapter 11 protection in December 2008.

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Charlie Sheen's 'Anger Management' Continues to Shed Viewers

Charlie Sheen's starring vehicle "Anger Management" continued to lose viewers in its third week, with an average of 2.42 million people tuning in for the show's fourth episode, reports B&C.

That's a 28% decline from the previous week in total viewers, according to the story. The episode posted a 0.98 rating among adults 18-49, a loss of 25% from the show's previous episode, which averaged a 1.3 rating.

The FX show's ratings will determine whether it receives an additional 90-episode order from Debmar-Mercury. The first two episodes, which aired back-to-back on the night the show premiered, don't count toward the rating threshold it must achieve in its first 10 episodes to trigger the order, the story notes.

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CBS Newsman Schieffer Protests Use of His Image in Campaign Ad

Bob Schieffer, the anchor of CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” is unhappy about the use of his image in a campaign ad for Mitt Romney -- an ad that was televised Sunday during Schieffer’s program, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“The ad seems to portray Schieffer wagging a proverbial finger of shame at President Barack Obama for going negative,” the story reports. “In the spot -- called ‘Hope and Change?’ -- Schieffer can be seen on ‘Face the Nation’s’ Washington set saying: ‘When the president was elected, he talked about hope and change. Whatever happened to hope and change? Now, it seems he is just coming right out of the box with these old-fashioned negative ads.’"

Schieffer said during the broadcast Sunday that he asked the question of Obama adviser David Axelrod. The ad also features MSNBC contributor Mark Halperin -- who wrote the book “Game Change,” focused on Sarah Palin -- and conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks, the report notes.

Said Schieffer: "This was done without our permission. It comes as a total surprise to me."

In an apparent nod to the need for Sunday newsmaker hosts to remain on friendly terms with Washington’s power elite, Schieffer added: "I'll get some blowback, that’s for sure."

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It's Official: NBC and Microsoft Part Ways on Web, With MSNBC Website Renamed

It's official: NBC and Microsoft ended their online relationship, which stemmed from the early days of the Internet, with the software giant receiving about $300 million for its 50% stake in MSNBC.com, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

We originally reported this was in the works on July 11, 2012, based on a scoop by Howard Kurtz of The Daily Beast.

NBC News will "fully own our digital businesses,” said Steve Capus, president of NBC News, according to the Decoder story.

MSNBC.com is now NBCNews.com. The move ends a 16-year relationship between NBCUniversal and Microsoft, according to a story on NBCNews.com about the transaction.

"The ties are deep, and untangling them will take at least two years, the network said," according to the Decoder article. NBCNews.com will continue to provide news for MSN.com, Microsoft's Web portal, while Microsoft will continue to sell NBCNews.com's ad inventory for an undisclosed period of time, the piece adds.

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Jennifer Lopez Reveals Her Decision on Whether to Return to 'Idol'

“American Idol” judge Jennifer Lopez is putting an end to weeks of speculation about her future on the Fox singing competition, announcing today that she will not be back for season 12, TheWrap.com reports.

Lopez made the announcement in an interview with “Idol” host Ryan Seacrest on his radio show, “On the Air.”

The news confirms that the show will undergo major changes in its lineup, as it did two seasons ago when “Idol” brought aboard Lopez along with Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler. Tyler announced one day earlier that he was leaving the show, as previously reported.

The third judge, Randy Jackson, may also be headed out, as we reported earlier today, with one possibility being that he will remain with “Idol” as a mentor. Jackson is the only judge to last through all of the show’s first 11 seasons.

Now it’s a real possibility that season 12, which debuts this fall, will feature an all-new lineup of judges. Much of the attention has already been focused on who will be in the judges’ chairs in fall, with Mariah Carey, Adam Lambert and Fergie among the names that have bubbled to the top.

Lopez said during her interview with Seacrest: "I honestly feel like the time has come that I have to get back to doing the other the things that I have to do, that I've put kind of on hold because I love 'Idol' so much."

She added: "We had an amazing run."

The report notes: “She remained open to returning for the first episode of the show's next season. But she said her children and career goals didn't leave her time to return full time.”

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Movie Project Goes Horribly Wrong: Actor Brendan Fraser Is Accused of Assault, Battery and Emotional Distress in Lawsuit by Producer

A dispute over a possible feature film project based on William Tell has turned ugly. After actor Brendan Fraser sued producer Todd Moyer over the project, Moyer has fired back with a lawsuit accusing the actor of assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress, Deadline.com reports.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday by Moyer in L.A. Superior Court, “claims Fraser punched him repeatedly in the chest on two different occasions, the first time in a hotel in Indianapolis where he and Fraser had been working with screenwriters on ‘The Legend Of William Tell,’” the story reports.

The complaint says that Fraser “in an intoxicated state began to physically push, verbally threaten and punch Plaintiff repeatedly in the chest.”

A second incident about a year later, during a production meeting for the project, is also alleged. “Moyer claims Fraser began screaming threats, then hit him in the chest over 20 times when Moyer refused Fraser’s request to hire Charlotte Huggins as a producer on the project,” Deadline reports.

The complaint says the incident took place in front of “Tracy Brennan, the co-head of motion picture talent at Creative Artists Agency, Kim Hodgert, talent agent for Creative Artists Agency, and Eric Brevig, a well-known movie director,” according to the story.

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CBS Finally Breaks Out a Big Summer Premiere ... Which Fizzles in the Ratings

CBS has been dialing it in with repeat programming for most of the summer, but the network finally broke out a fresh program Thursday night ... only to see it bow to unspectacular ratings.

“Big Brother” had its summer premiere at 9 p.m., pulling in a 2.6 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, according to Nielsen overnights reported by TVbytheNumbers.com. That number was down 7% from the show’s premiere a year ago, but what’s probably more disappointing, the show was down from its lead-in -- a rerun of “The Big Bang Theory,” which scored a 2.8 rating.

CBS still had enough juice to easily win the night -- even surrounding “Big Brother” with all repeats. CBS averaged a 2.1 rating in 18-49 for prime time, well ahead of Univision (1.4 average), ABC (1.3), Fox (1.2) and NBC (0.8). CBS came out on top in total viewers too, averaging 7.1 million for prime time to 5.1 million for ABC, 3.8 million for Univision, 3.4 million for NBC and 3.0 million for Fox.

ABC, Fox and NBC had little to cheer about in their prime-time numbers. ABC settled for a 1.0 in 18-49 for “Duets,” a 1.7 for “Wipeout” and a 1.3 for “Rookie Blue.” Fox averaged 1.2 with both “Take Me Out” and “The Choice.” And NBC settled for a 0.6 for “The Office,” a 0.5 for “Saving Hope” and a 1.2 for “Rock Center.”

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DirecTV Makes a Programming Move That Appears to Take a Shot at Nickelodeon -- But the Company Isn't Admitting That the Move Has Any Connection to the Impasse With Viacom

DirecTV, which is mired in stalled carriage negotiations with Viacom -- resulting in Viacom’s 17 channels being dropped from the DirecTV lineup -- has made a programming move that appears to be a direct shot at Viacom's kids' channels, Deadline.com reports.

DirecTV added Disney Junior to its channel offerings, at a time when Viacom’s Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and Nicktoons are unavailable to DirecTV’s 20 million customers.

The story notes: “Of course the satellite company doesn’t actually make that connection in today’s announcement: That would have been insulting to Disney. And who knows? Maybe DirecTV would have made the addition anyway. Still, its hard to avoid seeing this in the context of the spat with Viacom.”

DirecTV’s announcement focuses on Disney Junior, which is aimed at the 2-7 demo. The company says Disney Junior is “one of the most sought-after channels by DirecTV customers and will be permanently added to their programming options as a basic channel.”

Disney Junior is in its first year as a 24/7 channel, the report notes.

DirecTV EVP Derek Chang praised Disney -- perhaps at the expense of Viacom -- saying: “When it comes to children and families, nobody has the tremendous programming to compare with Disney. DirecTV is happy to place our trust in Disney as a partner in building this exciting new family service.”

Disney Junior will reportedly be seen on channel 289, next to Disney Channel.

The move follows a separate move by DirecTV, reported earlier today, in which the company announced it is providing eight Encore premium channels, along with other channels, free to subscribers to help offset the inconvenience of the Viacom blackout.

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Notorious Reality TV Personality Saves Actor's Life

A woman who became famous as one of the most hated figures on a popular reality TV show -- it was popular at that time, anyway -- has saved a man’s life, TMZ.com reports.

Omarosa Stallworth, who stirred controversy and made a name for herself as a volatile participant on NBC’s “The Apprentice” back in 2004, performed CPR on “The Green Mile” actor Michael Clarke Duncan after Duncan had a heart attack. Duncan is Omarosa’s boyfriend.

Her action appears to have saved Duncan’s life. The 54-year-old actor was taken to a Los Angeles hospital and admitted to the ICU, the story reports.

“Sources tell us ... Duncan's heart rate is now stable and Omarosa is by his side,” the story reports. “Doctors are performing tests to figure out why the actor's heart stopped in the first place.”

Duncan was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for "The Green Mile."

Michael_Clarke_Duncan.jpgMichael Clarke Duncan

omarosa-stallworth.jpgOmarosa Stallworth

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In Guthrie's First Full Week as Co-Host, NBC's 'Today' Has a Fight on Its Hands

If NBC’s aim in replacing Ann Curry with Savannah Guthrie on the “Today” show was to pump up the morning show’s numbers in its ratings fight with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” the first week has not gone well.

"Today" is poised to lose out to "GMA” for the week, TVNewser.com reports. For the week so far, "GMA" is ahead of "Today" by 360,000 total viewers, and in key news demo of adults 25-54 the ABC show is ahead by 40,000, the story notes.

"Because this is Savannah Guthrie's first official week as co-host of the morning program, the shows are under extra scrutiny," the article notes. Final numbers for the week will be available Thursday, July 19.

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Country Singer Apologizes After Getting Caught 'Cheating' During National Anthem

A country singer is apologizing after he sparked outrage among some baseball fans by glancing at lyrics to the National Anthem, which he had written on the palm of his hand, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Luke Bryan apologized for the gaffe at the MLB All-Star game in Kansas City Tuesday night, writing on Twitter that he had a "few key words written down to insure myself that I wouldn't mess up."

Bryan added: "I just wanted to do my best. I promise it was from the heart. If I offended anyone with my approach I sincerely apologize. Anytime I sing the anthem it is an honor and my heart beats out of my chest."

The singer isn't the first to have a slip-up with the anthem, with Christina Aguilera flubbing the song at the 2011 Super Bowl and "American Idol" winner Scotty McCreery mixing up the lyrics during game one of the 2011 World Series, the story notes.

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Church of Scientology Poised to Start Its Own TV Channel

With the Church of Scientology recently moving into the former home of Los Angeles public television station KCET-TV, it appears that the church is positioning to start its own television channel, reports the New York Post.

The church bought the studio last year for more than $42 million. A representative for the church said the complex will be "a central media hub for our growing world network of churches and to move into the production of religious television and radio broadcasting,”

The studio is where shows such as Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" were produced, the piece adds. The church began moving into the facility on Sunset Boulevard a few weeks ago.

If the church starts its own TV network, it would be able to draw on its ranks of TV and movie stars, including John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Jason Lee, Jenna Elfman, Juliette Lewis, Catherine Bell and Elisabeth Moss, as well as Tom Cruise, the article notes.

“Speculation is that the new studio will be the home for a Scientology cable channel to help repair the church’s battered public image,” the story reports.

The piece notes that DVDs and Web programs promoting Scientology have been produced for years at a site near Hemet, Calif.

Scientology was founded 60 years ago by “failed science-fiction writer” L. Ron Hubbard, the article notes.

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Is Randy Jackson Next Judge Out on 'Idol'? And the Superstar Reportedly Negotiating to Replace Him

With Steven Tyler now out as a judge on Fox's long-running hit "American Idol," might Randy Jackson be the next person to exit the judging table?

Says Us Weekly, "Now, a source tells Us Weekly that Tyler and [Jennifer] Lopez's fellow judge Randy Jackson is also making a big move -- with plans to leave the judges' panel but remain involved with a mentoring role on the show."

The story adds, "One very likely new judge? Mariah Carey, whose manager is Jackson himself, and who could fill a similar judge's role assumed by fellow superstar Lopez, 42. 'They are in serious talks with Mariah and it's very close to being a done deal,' the source says. 'And they will move Randy into a more mentoring role.'"

The article continues: "The insider added that show producers are scrambling to fill the other two slots alongside Carey; other celebs who have been considered to sit at the judges' table include Fergie and Adam Lambert."

As previously reported, Tyler has announced he is leaving "Idol," and J-Lo continues her negotiations with the show about her possible return this fall.

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Opinion: Amazon's Latest Move Will Go a Long Way Toward Destroying Local Retail in the Same Way Amazon Contributed to the Downfall of Local Bookstores

Amazon has a new game plan that will "permanently alter the way we shop," and thus go a long way toward destroying local retail in the same way Amazon contributed to the downfall of local bookstores, according to a technology columnist writing at Slate.

The writer, Farhad Manjoo, picks up on the fact that for years Amazon has vigorously fought charging its customers sales tax. Amazon has now abandoned that fight, Manjoo observes:

"[S]uddenly, Amazon has stopped fighting the sales-tax war. ... Why would Amazon give up its precious tax advantage? This week, as part of an excellent investigative series on the firm, the Financial Times’ Barney Jopson reports that Amazon’s tax capitulation is part of a major shift in the company’s operations. Amazon’s grand strategy has been to set up distribution centers in faraway, low-cost states and then ship stuff to people in more populous, high-cost states."

Manjoo continues: "But now Amazon has a new game. Now that it has agreed to collect sales taxes, the company can legally set up warehouses right inside some of the largest metropolitan areas in the nation. Why would it want to do that? Because Amazon’s new goal is to get stuff to you immediately -- as soon as a few hours after you hit Buy."

"It’s hard to overstate how thoroughly this move will shake up the retail industry," Manjoo writes. "Same-day delivery has long been the holy grail of Internet retailers, something that dozens of startups have tried and failed to accomplish. (Remember Kozmo.com?) But Amazon is investing billions to make next-day delivery standard, and same-day delivery an option for lots of customers. If it can pull that off, the company will permanently alter how we shop. To put it more bluntly: Physical retailers will be hosed."

To see the rest of Manjoo's cogent argument, please read his entire Slate plece here.

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DirecTV Offers Customers a Perk to Offset Missing Viacom Channels

As negotiations continue between Viacom and DirecTV -- and with Viacom’s 17 channels blacked out on the satellite provider’s systems -- DirecTV has rolled out a freebie for its 20 million subscribers, Deadline.com reports.

“DirecTV says it is providing eight Encore premium channels as well as services that had been in extra-pay tiers -- including PBS Sprout, The Hub, TV One and Fuse -- as substitutes for Viacom channels such as Nickelodeon, BET, and MTV,” the story reports.

DirecTV said it hopes the move will help make up for the inconvenience the carriage dispute has caused its customers.

But the story adds: “Consumers shouldn’t expect a resolution soon. Viacom has made a major buy of radio ad time across all major U.S. cities through Sunday. ‘Rather than ramp up the propaganda in newspaper ads and radio spots,” DirecTV says, Viacom should ‘grow up’ and help to ‘get the channels back on the air without an unfair increase to customer bills.’”

DirecTV also reportedly has bought radio airtime, but its intended message was not known. Viacom would not comment for the story.

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Why Charlie Sheen Is Shutting Down His Twitter Account -- and What He Said in His Farewell Tweet

Charlie Sheen has quit Twitter, bidding farewell to his almost 8 million followers, reports TMZ.com. Sheen posted one last tweet around midnight, the story reports.

His last tweet said: "reach for the stars everyone. dogspeed cadre. c out."

Sheen, apparently addressing his fans, reportedly told the website: “Thank you all for your amazing support. Trust me when I say please ‘follow’ me to my next endeavor. It’s gonna be epic.”

Sheen’s reason for pulling out of Twitter? The star of FX’s "Anger Management" feels "he's not getting anything out of the social network," according to the story, which cites sources close to the actor.

Sheen started his Twitter account on March 1, 2011, when he was in his frenzied post-"Two and a Half Men" phase, the piece notes.

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Who Tops Forbes' New List of the Highest-Earning Young Celebrities? It's All About Girl Power This Year

Forbes magazine has released its list of the 10 highest-paid celebrities under 30, and female performers dominate this year’s list.

Singer Taylor Swift claims the top spot, earning an estimated $57 million during the May 2011-May 2012 period. All three of the 22-year-old singer’s albums have gone platinum, the report notes, while her concerts take in $1 million per night on average. She also earns money from endorsements, including her deal with CoverGirl.

Second on the list is the only male in the top five. Justin Bieber, 18, earned an estimated $55 million during the period.

Third is Rihanna, 24, at $53 million, followed by Lady Gaga, 26, with $52 million. Rounding out the top 5 is Katy Perry, 27, with earnings of $45 million.

The rest of the top 10:

Adele, 24: $35 million
Kristen Stewart, 22: $34.5 million
Lil Wayne, 29: $27 million
Taylor Lautner, 20: $26.5 million
Robert Pattinson, 26: $26.5 million

taylor-swift.jpgTaylor Swift

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MTV Renews Scripted Series

MTV has made the decision to bring back a scripted series for another season, EW.com’s Inside TV reports. The series is “Teen Wolf,” which will return for season three.

The renewal was announced by star Tyler Posey during the show's Comic-Con panel, the story notes. The season will consist of 24 episodes, making it the largest for the series. Each of the first two seasons received 12-episode orders.

It's also the largest order ever for an MTV scripted show, the piece points out.

In addition to Posey, the series stars Crystal Reed, Dylan O'Brien, Tyler Hoechlin, Holland Roden and Colton Haynes.

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'Hung' Co-Creators Working on Supernatural Thriller

"Hung" co-creators Dmitry Lipkin and Colette Burson are working on a new series -- a supernatural thriller about a town where the dead keep coming back to life, reports Deadline.com. The project is in the works for Showtime.

The pair, who also created the show "The Riches," will executive produce and write the series. It's their first project in their recent two-year deal with Fox's cable and reality unit Fox 21, the piece adds.

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Aereo -- Which Some See as a Threat to the Broadcast Business Model -- Will Expand to Most Big U.S. Cities by 2013, Says Diller

Following a favorable court ruling this week, the online television service Aereo is expected to expand to a number of major U.S. cities by 2013, Bloomberg reports, citing an interview with backer Barry Diller.

"We’re going to really start marketing,” said Diller, who was interviewed while attending the annual Allen & Co. Sun Valley, Idaho, conference. "Within a year and a half, certainly by ’13, we’ll be in most major” markets.

As previously reported, Aereo got approval this week from a federal judge to go ahead, with the judge denying a temporary injunction sought by television broadcasters to shut down the service. Aereo, seen by some as a threat to the broadcast business model, currently operates in New York.

“Aereo captures broadcast signals with small antennas and streams them to devices such as Apple Inc.’s iPad, without paying for the programming,” the report notes.

Diller commented on this week’s ruling, saying: “One of my friends at a large broadcaster said you succeeded in dropping my stock 2 percent. I did think we were on the right side of this, and I’m happy the judge agreed with us.”

“The ability for consumers to receive broadcast over-the-air signal is their right,” Diller said.

Executives from all the top broadcast networks are also attending the conference, the story points out. Broadcasters have said they will continue to fight Aereo.

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NBC Stations Double Up on Staff Covering Summer Olympics

NBC's 10 owned-and-operated stations are doubling the size of the contingent they’re sending to the Summer Olympics, B&C reports. The stations are sending 25 reporters, editors, producers and photographers to the London Games, or more than double the number that covered the 2008 Games in Beijing, the story says.

"All of our stations will be covering the local athletes and angles important to their viewers," said NBC Owned Television Stations President Valari Staab.

The stations will provide live reports from London in their morning, afternoon and late newscasts, including local angles, the story notes. NBC owns stations in the top three markets -- New York, Chicago and Los Angeles -- along with other major markets.

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'American Idol' Judge Announces Exit From Show

Amid a sea of rumors over what the upcoming season of “American Idol” will look like, some concrete news has finally surfaced: Steven Tyler is leaving the show, Entertainment Weekly reports.

Much of the recent speculation has centered on another judge: Jennifer Lopez. But Tyler captured his own share of the spotlight today, issuing a statement that says: “After some long … hard … thoughts … I’ve decided it’s time for me to let go of my mistress ‘American Idol’ before she boils my rabbit. I strayed from my first love, Aerosmith, and I’m back -- but instead of begging on my hands and knees, I’ve got two fists in the air and I’m kicking the door open with my band.”

The story notes: “Tyler then promoted his upcoming album, and added, ‘”Idol” was over-the-top fun, and I loved every minute of it. … Now it’s time to bring rock back.’”

As for J-Lo, reports have been mixed on whether she will be back, but lately she appears to be leaning toward leaving the show. The bottom line, TMZ.com reports, is she’s not sure. Lopez won't decide until she finishes her current concert tour with Enrique Iglesias, according to sources cited in the report.

Some reports have indicated that Lopez has told producers she won't return, but those reports aren't true, according to sources close to Lopez who are cited in the story. Lopez has reportedly said she’s “torn” about the decision.

Lopez said on “Today” this morning, “I think it’s time for me to go,” TMZ notes.

As previously reported, former "Idol" contestant Adam Lambert is being considered for a return to the show as a judge, potentially replacing Lopez.

TMZ reports separately -- for what it’s worth -- that "Idol" executive producer Nigel Lythgoe is saying he wants Charlie Sheen and veteran comedian Jerry Lewis for the judging panel. It appears that the show has been sending feelers far and wide -- including to Sheen and Lewis.

The report adds: "We're told producers believe they still have a chance of re-signing Jennifer Lopez -- whom they want badly. Our sources say the process of deciding who will be on the show is like a giant jigsaw puzzle. If Lopez goes away, then certain replacements would make sense and others would not. If Steven Tyler or Randy Jackson say bye bye, then a different set of replacements would make sense."

The report hints that Lythgoe -- whose own job on "Idol" for season 12 is not locked in yet -- might be kidding about Lewis and Sheen. What's known is that the show's producers are still a long way from locking in the lineup.

Other potential replacements for Lopez are being considered, reports US Magazine, including singers Mariah Carey and Fergie.

No official announcement about Lopez's contract has been made, the US story adds.

Commenting on Tyler’s announcement, James Hibberd writes in EW: “With his veteran rocker spaciness and somewhat creepy lusty comments about young female contestants, the 64-year-old singer was considered an entertaining and fresh personality for the show during Tyler’s debut season last year. During the recent 11th season, however, many fans seemed to feel ‘Idol’ wouldn’t be hurt by somebody else taking Tyler’s place.”

The story notes that the show suffered the sharpest ratings declines in its history during its most recent season.

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Details Surface About Accident That Knocked 'The Good Wife' Actress Unconscious

Details are emerging about an accident Wednesday evening on the Brooklyn set of the CBS legal drama “The Good Wife” that knocked actress Kristin Chenoweth unconscious and sent her to the hospital.

Chenoweth, 43, has since been released and is said to be doing OK. TMZ reports that a representative for Chenoweth issued a statement saying: "Kristin has been released from the hospital and is home recovering. She thanks everyone for their prayers and well wishes."

As previously reported, Chenoweth was struck by a falling piece of equipment, which has been described variously as a lighting silk or scaffolding. She was treated by a team from the New York Fire Department before being rushed to the hospital.

The New York Post reports that the diminutive Chenoweth, who stands 4-foot-11, suffered a seizure after being hit by the piece of equipment -- which reportedly fell about 15 feet and hit her on the head.

Chenoweth “was seizing for about 30 seconds and briefly lost consciousness, according to the sources,” the Post reports.

A witness who works nearby, Valeriu Critac, called 911 and rushed to help Chenoweth, the story reports. Said Critac: “It happened so fast, so obviously there was no time to waste. There was a little blood on the sidewalk. She wasn’t moving. I looked at her and she had her eyes closed.

The story quotes another witness saying Chenoweth was hit squarely on the head. “It was a big hit,” the witness said. “She was definitely hurt. She didn’t move.”

Another person also was slightly injured in the accident, the story reports.

Responders rigged up Chenoweth with an oxygen mask and a neck brace, taking her on a stretcher to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, according to the story.

CBS said in a statement that a gust of wind had knocked over the equipment.

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'Barbarella' TV Series Picking Up Momentum

A planned TV series version of “Barbarella” is gaining momentum, with Canal Plus joining Gaumont International TV on the project, Deadline.com reports.

The project is exec produced by Martha De Laurentiis and Nicolas Winding Refn, with Refn also directing, the story reports.

The article reports: “The character made famous by Jane Fonda in the 1968 sci-fi movie produced by Dino De Laurentiis came from Jean-Claude Forest’s graphic novel about a sexpot tasked with finding and stopping the evil weapons inventor.”

The piece adds: “Forest’s son Julien Forest and Hollywood Comics principal Jean-Marc Lofficier are co-exec producing the TV project.”

jane-fonda-in-barbarella.jpgJane Fonda as the original “Barbarella,” in 1968

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Disney Channel Renews Comedy Series

Disney Channel has ordered another season of a family sitcom, Deadline.com reports. The cable channel has picked up a fourth season of “Good Luck Charlie.”

The show was the top cable series in tweens and in kids 6-11 in the second quarter, the story reports.

The piece adds: “Phil Baker and Drew Vaupen created the series, which is executive produced by Baker, Vaupen and Dan Staley. It focuses on the Duncan family from the point of view of their five kids -- the Duncans welcomed a new baby at the end of Season 3.”

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Barry Diller's Aereo Online TV Streaming Operation Gets Go-Ahead From Federal Judge; Broadcasters Say They Will Continue to Fight It

The television streaming service Aereo, backed by Barry Diller, got approval from a federal judge to go ahead, with the judge denying a temporary injunction sought by television broadcasters to shut down the service, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

The broadcasters vowed to pursue their lawsuit against the start-up, which streams local TV stations' signals over the Internet without the explicit approval of the stations, the piece notes.

The decision gives Diller, the chief executive of IAC/InterActiveCorp, and the service's other backers the ability to move forward with the service.

"Aereo is one of the most ambitious attempts to distribute television over the Internet, potentially disrupting the existing arrangement of broadcast, cable and satellite distribution," the story says.

If the injunction had been granted, Aereo "could not have continued,” Diller wrote in an email, the piece adds.

A group representing Fox, Tribune, Univision and PBS stations vowed to "continue to fight," while CBS said, "This case is not over by a long shot.”

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Lifetime Picks Up Docu-Series

Lifetime has picked up a documentary series, ordering eight hour episodes from Evolution Media, Deadline.com reports. The series, “Prom Queens,” focuses on high school girls as they vie to be crowned queen of their senior prom, the story notes.

The series, which will air in the slot after “Dance Moms,” premieres Aug. 14 at 10 p.m.

“Doug Ross, Alex Baskin, Mark Herwick, Kathleen French and Greg Stewart are executive producing alongside Rob Sharenow, Gena McCarthy and Abigail Harvey of Lifetime,” the report adds.

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How Dish Subscribers Will Be Able to Watch 'Breaking Bad' Premiere

With Dish subscribers losing access to AMC programming in a carriage dispute, AMC has decided to make the Season 5 premiere of the Emmy-winning drama "Breaking Bad" available to Dish customers for free if they go online, reports TheWrap.com.

Beginning at 3 p.m. ET tomorrow, Friday, July 13, Dish subscribers can register for access to the live stream of the premiere at this Web page. The premiere, which airs on the network this Sunday at 10 p.m. ET, will stream on AMCtv.com.

In a statement, AMC said: “Every cable, phone and satellite company other than Dish carries AMC and its popular programming, including 'Breaking Bad,' 'The Walking Dead' and 'Mad Men,' in their basic package. AMC wants its loyal Dish viewers to experience the excitement of the 'Breaking Bad' premiere at the same time as their friends and neighbors, and we want to give Dish customers an extra week to switch providers so they can enjoy the rest of the season.”

Dish dropped the AMC networks -- including IFC and WE tv -- in early July, unwilling to pay carriage charges it felt were not supported by the ratings.

The move comes on the heels of a decision by Viacom, which is embroiled in a separate dispute with Dish, to make the seemingly contradictory move of pulling some of its content from online platforms, as previously reported.

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PBS Show Stokes Controversy Over Rock Legend's Famous Guitar

A PBS television show has stirred up a controversy over one of the most famous musical instruments in history, the Associated Press reports.

The dispute is focused on who has the guitar Bob Dylan played when he famously “went electric” at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. The seminal event is widely seen as a turning point for music, opening the door for folk artists -- who up until then appealed to a more eclectic audience -- to become more a part of mainstream music. That transition is credited with changing popular music to reflect a much greater lyrical influence.

Dylan’s camp says the guitar he played at Newport is in his possession. But that’s not what the PBS show “History Detectives” found.

The story reports: “The New Jersey daughter of a pilot who flew Dylan to appearances in the 1960s says she has the guitar, which has spent much of the past 47 years in a family attic. But a lawyer for Dylan claims the singer still has the Fender Stratocaster with the sunburst design that he used during one of the most memorable performances of his career.”

The story calls the guitar “quite possibly the most historic single instrument in rock ‘n’ roll,” noting that experts believe it could fetch as much as half a million dollars if it were ever auctioned.

The PBS show had the guitar examined by guitar expert Andy Babiuk, the story says, noting that Babiuk also appraises instruments for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The article notes that Babiuk "took the guitar apart to find a date written inside (1964) that made its use in Newport plausible. He drew upon blown-up color photos from Newport to compare the wood grain on the guitar Dylan played that day to the one in his hands. He's confident it's a match, likening the wood grain to a fingerprint. ... Babiuk said he didn't want to get involved in a dispute, but said he was '99.9 percent certain' that he examined the guitar used at Newport."

“The guitar is the centerpiece of next Tuesday's season premiere of PBS's ‘History Detectives,’” the story reports, “and the show said late Wednesday it stood by its conclusion that Dawn Peterson, the pilot's daughter who works as a customer relations manager for an energy company, has the right instrument.”

The report adds: “With his acoustic songs of social protest, a young Bob Dylan was a hero to folk music fans in the early 1960s and the Newport festival was their mecca. Bringing an electric guitar and band with him onstage to launch into ‘Maggie's Farm’ was more than an artistic change, it was a provocative act. Most folk purists disdained rock ‘n' roll.”

But in the decades that followed, many of those same former folk purists followed Dylan’s lead and eventually reached out to a wider audience -- leaving some of them embarrassed and forced to admit they just “didn’t get it” at the time and to acknowledge that Dylan was right to shake things up.

dylan-newport-1965jpg.jpgBob Dylan with his Stratocaster at Newport, 1965

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Former Sitcom Star Kirk Cameron Ramps Up His Campaign Against Same-Sex Marriage -- Here's the Video

A former sitcom star is warning Americans in a new video clip about the dangers of same-sex marriage, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Former "Growing Pains" star Kirk Cameron, who has been vocal in the past about his opposition to same-sex marriage, is featured in what the story describes as a religious infomercial.

"If we want a great future in this world, we have to take God at his word, and God makes it really clear that society and civilization is really held together by the glue of families," Cameron says in the video. "And so when a man and a woman come together and they say I do, they are committing for a lifetime to love each other and to model what love is."

Cameron is introduced in the clip by a fan of "Growing Pains," and is turning his thoughts on relationships into a traveling seminar that draws on relationship advice found in Cameron’s film “Fireproof,” the story adds. It's part of his partnership with the National Organization for Marriage and its spinoff group the Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance.

The actor has previously called same-sex weddings "unnatural" and "destructive," the piece notes.

Here’s the video:

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Which City Is the Country's Second-Largest Market for Political TV Ads? The Answer May Surprise You

The second-largest market for political television ads may surprise you, as the city ranks as only the country's 18th-largest television market.

The city is Cleveland, with $17.7 million spent through June 24 to buy airtime on Cleveland TV stations, reports the Plain Dealer.

That places the city second to Los Angeles, where outside groups have spent $20.2 million on political TV ads, according to the story, which cites a July 6 Wells Fargo analysis of political ad spending. New York is in third place, with $12.69 million in political spending, the story adds.

"It's no mystery why political advertising is tipping the normal order," the story notes. "Ohio in November could make or break either candidate's shot at White House residency next Jan. 20, inauguration day."

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Kristin Chenoweth Hospitalized After Being Injured on Set of 'The Good Wife'

Actress Kristin Chenoweth was rushed to a New York hospital after being injured on the set of the CBS series “The Good Wife” when a piece of equipment fell, the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports.

Chenoweth was filming a scene in Brooklyn when wind blew a lighting silk out of place, according to the story. The show's medic treated her until an emergency medical team arrived from the New York Fire Department and transported her to the hospital.

According to TMZ, Chenoweth's head hit concrete when she fell, and she was apparently "knocked out cold.” The site showed a photo of Chenoweth on a stretcher with a neck brace.

The actress was being treated for minor injuries, according to a representative for the New York Fire Department, the story notes.

kristin-chenoweth.jpgKristin Chenoweth

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What's the Best TV Show of All Time? ABC News Special Will Tackle That Question -- and More

ABC News will air a special in conjunction with its broadcast of the Emmy Awards called "Best in TV: The Greatest TV Shows of Our Time," with Barbara Walters tapped to host, reports TVNewser.com.

Favorites will be selected in 15 categories, highlighted by the winner of “best TV show of all time.” Fans can vote through July 23 via the website BestinTelevision.com, where the nominees have already been chosen.

As an example, the 10 nominees for best TV comedy are “All in the Family,” “Cheers,” “I Love Lucy,” “Seinfeld,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “M*A*S*H,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Cosby Show,” “The Honeymooners” and "The Simpsons."

Other categories include favorite TV theme song, favorite TV dad, favorite TV mom, best TV host, best non-human character, most memorable TV moment, best TV drama, best legal or cop show, favorite reality show, best TV game show, favorite soap opera/daytime drama, best animated show and best variety show.

The show will air in September and will include classic and never-before-aired scenes from the shows, as well as interviews with some stars and directors of the winning series, the story adds.

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Viacom Pulls Online Content as Dispute Continues; DirecTV and Viacom Remain 'Far Apart' In Talks, DirecTV CEO Says

DirecTV and Viacom remain "pretty far apart" in negotiations for a new carriage deal for Viacom's cable networks, according to DirecTV Chief Executive Mike White, reports Bloomberg. Meanwhile, Viacom has pulled some of its free content off its websites.

Viacom's networks went dark for about 20 million DirecTV subscribers before midnight on Tuesday, as previously reported.

Despite his characterization of the impasse, White also told Bloomberg that the companies are still talking, and added, "We're happy to do a fair deal." Bloomberg spoke with White at the Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley, Idaho.

As the dispute continues, Viacom cut off access to some popular content that had been available for free online, EW.com's Inside TV reports.

Viewers can't watch full episodes of shows including "The Daily Show" and "SpongeBob," prompting DirecTV to issue a statement criticizing Viacom for "not only holding DirecTV customers hostage, but all online viewers as well,” according to the story.

Viacom said many of its episodes remain free online, but added that it removed some of them because they were only intended as marketing tools, the story says.

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Investigation Into Sexual Abuse Scandal Finds Penn State 'Concealed Critical Facts,' Showed 'Total Disregard' for Sandusky's Young Victims

An investigation headed up by former FBI Director Louis Freeh into the Penn State University child abuse scandal found that top university officials, including football coach Joe Paterno, failed to protect the young victims of convicted sexual abuser Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant coach at the school.

The special investigative counsel looking into the role of the university released its scathing report this morning, the Los Angeles Times reports. The investigation, ordered by the Penn State Board of Trustees, concluded that top university officials failed to act when reports surfaced that Sandusky had molested children on school grounds.

Sandusky, who was the top defensive coach for the Penn State football team, was found guilty of 45 counts of sexual abuse of 10 boys over a span of 15 years. He is currently in jail awaiting sentencing.

In a letter accompanying the report, Freeh writes: “Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State. The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.”

Freeh adds that university officials “never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky’s victims until after Sandusky’s arrest.”

The Times story notes: “Investigators found that in order to avoid ‘bad publicity,’ university President Graham Spanier, football Coach Paterno, Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz ‘repeatedly concealed critical facts.’”

The story adds: “Spanier and Paterno were forced out of their jobs after Sandusky was arrested last fall. Curley and Schultz are awaiting trial on charges of perjury and failing to report the abuse to outside officials.”

The investigation noted that Spanier, Peterno, Curley and Schultz were all aware of a 1998 probe into Sandusky’s actions, and all four men failed to alert Penn State trustees or to take any action against Sandusky. Criminal charges against Sandusky did not materialize until years later.

Freeh writes: “The evidence shows that these four men also knew about a 1998 criminal investigation of Sandusky relating to suspected sexual misconduct with a young boy in a Penn State football locker room shower. Again, they showed no concern about that victim. The evidence shows that Mr. Paterno was made aware of the 1998 investigation of Sandusky, followed it closely, but failed to take any action, even though Sandusky had been a key member of his coaching staff for almost 30 years, and had an office just steps away from Mr. Paterno’s. At the very least, Mr. Paterno could have alerted the entire football staff, in order to prevent Sandusky from bringing another child” to the campus.

The Times piece adds: “Perhaps more damaging for the university, which is expected to face a barrage of civil lawsuits from Sandusky’s victims, are the events of Feb 9, 2001, when a former graduate assistant, Mike McQueary, returned to the football training facilities. At Sandusky’s trial, McQueary testified he saw the former coach engaging in what he thought was a sex act with a boy of 10 to 12 years old. McQueary went to Paterno and told of what he saw.

“Paterno then went to his superiors, who decided not to call in outside authorities. Freeh was sharply critical of that decision and said the action to keep the reports internal was due to Paterno, who convinced other officials not to take action outside of the university.”

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Nickelodeon Renews Animated Series

Nickelodeon has made the decision to bring back an animated series for a second season, EW.com’s Inside TV reports. The show is "The Legend of Korro."

The series averaged 3.8 million viewers for its first season. The sequel to "Avatar: The Last Airbender" will have 26 episodes in season two, the piece adds.

The cast includes Kiernan Shipka of "Mad Men" and David Faustino of "Married … with Children."

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CBS Leads List of Nominees for News & Documentary Emmys

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has announced the nominees for the 33rd annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards, which will be presented Oct. 1 at Time Warner Center in New York.

CBS leads all television networks with 43 total nominations, followed by PBS with 37, NBC with 20, ABC with 17, HBO with 15 and CNN (and CNNi) with nine.

Click here to see the complete NATAS press release and full list of nominations.

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Japanese Ad Giant Dentsu to Buy Largest Media Independent for $4.9 Billion. In the U.S., Carat Will Become Owned by Dentsu

Japanese advertising giant Dentsu will buy London-based Aegis, the world's largest media independent, for $4.9 billion.

Aegis is the owner of the well-known U.S. media agency Carat. Carat's biggest account may be the $3 billion global planning and buying assignment it has from car giant General Motors. 

Dentsu, in Japan, has long been the agency of GM rival Toyota.

"The price Dentsu pays values Aegis at about 12 times the company’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization," writes Bloomberg Businessweek, adding, "Global advertising deals in the past three years fetched a median multiple of 8.7 times earnings, according to Bloomberg data.

"The purchase is the second-biggest overseas takeover by a Japanese company this year, Bloomberg data show. Overseas acquisitions jumped to a record $86.5 billion last year. So far in 2012, Japanese companies have made $37 billion of cross- border deals."

The Bloomberg story adds, "The transaction, the biggest in Dentsu’s history, would create one of the largest ad firms to compete with the likes of WPP and Omnicom Group Inc."

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Emmy Winner Re-Ups With Sony Pictures TV

An Emmy Award-winning producer who’s currently executive producing FX's "Justified" and Fox's new fall drama "The Mob Doctor" has re-upped with Sony Pictures TV, Deadline.com reports. Michael Dinner will continue developing, producing and directing for the company for two more years, the story reports.

Dinner has been with Sony TV since 2005. In his tenure, two other shows he developed made it to air -- NBC's "Kidnapped" and A&E's "The Beast."

Dinner won an Emmy for “The Wonder Years.”

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'Gossip Girl' Actress, Two Others Join Cast of Mindy Kaling's 'Mindy Project'

An actress from "Gossip Girl" and two other actors have been added to Mindy Kaling's new Fox comedy, "The Mindy Project," EW.com's Inside TV reports.

“Gossip Girl’s” Amanda Setton will play Shauna Dicanio, who is described as “the tenacious, Jersey-born office manager of [Mindy's medical practice]; a woman who collects unpaid patient bills like she’s a bounty hunter.”

Stephen Tobolowsky of "Glee" will play Dr. Marc Shulman, the head of Mindy's practice, the story says. Both Setton and Tobolowsky will be on the show full time.

Also joining the cast is Ike Barinholtz, a "Mindy Project" executive story editor, who will play the male nurse Morgan Tookers. The character is an ex-con described as "fiercely loyal" but lacking in tact and hygiene.

amanda-setton.jpgAmanda Setton

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Report: MSNBC.com to Be Rebranded NBCNews.com

NBC and Microsoft are in talks for NBC to buy the part of MSNBC.com it does not own, and the site would be rebranded NBCNews.com, reports Howard Kurtz at The Daily Beast.

Says the article, "NBC and Microsoft plan to announce a deal to finally part company, with the network buying back the remainder of their hugely popular MSNBC website from the software giant, say people familiar with the matter.

"Under the plan, officials will rebrand MSNBC.com, which consistently ranks among the top three in online news sites, as NBCNews.com. The announcement of the corporate divorce is expected within days, although there could always be a last-minute snag."

In a follow-up to Kurtz's scoop, Donna Tam at CNET writes, "Microsoft originally invested $220 million for a 50 percent stake in MSNBC, which launched in 1996. The software giant sold most of its control in 2005, leaving NBC with an 82 percent stake in the network and an option of claiming the remaining 18 percent after two years. MSNBC.com continues to be one of the country's top news sites, with 55.7 million visitors earlier this year."

Adds Kurtz in his piece, "MSNBC.com is considered to be quite profitable, in part because it draws as much as half its traffic from Microsoft’s MSN network. Part of the deal, say those in the know, calls for Microsoft to continue to steer some traffic toward the rebranded site."

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TNT Renews Spielberg Show for Season 3

TNT has renewed the sci-fi series that it gets from DreamWorks Television and executive producer Steven Spielberg.

"Falling Sky" will return to TNT with 10 new episodes that will air in 2013, the cable network has announced.

TNT says in the announcement: "The critically acclaimed drama starring Noah Wyle finished its first season last year as basic cable's top new series of 2011. Currently averaging 5.9 million viewers, the series ranks as basic cable's #1 summer drama with adults 18-49."

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CBS Unveils Premiere Dates, Fall Schedule -- Here's the Full Lineup

CBS announced the schedule today for its fall 2012 launches, with almost the full lineup of shows rolling out during the week of Sept. 24-30, Deadline.com reports.

Only “Survivor: Philippines” will debut outside that time frame, premiering the previous week.

Here's the full schedule:

Wednesday, Sept. 19

8-9:30 PM SURVIVOR: PHILIPPINES (25th edition premiere)

Monday, Sept. 24

8-8:30 PM HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (8th season premiere)

8:30-9 PM PARTNERS (Series Debut)

9-9:30 PM 2 BROKE GIRLS (2nd season premiere)

9:30-10 PM MIKE & MOLLY (3rd season premiere)

10-11 PM HAWAII FIVE-0 (3rd season premiere)

Tuesday, Sept. 25

8-9 PM NCIS (10th season premiere)

9-10 PM NCIS: LOS ANGELES (4th season premiere)

10-11 PM VEGAS (Series Debut)

Wednesday, Sept. 26

9:00-10:00 PM CRIMINAL MINDS (8th season premiere)

10:00-11:00 PM CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION (13th season premiere)

Thursday, Sept. 27

8-8:30 PM THE BIG BANG THEORY (6th season premiere)

8:30-9 PM TWO AND A HALF MEN (10th season premiere)

9-10 PM PERSON OF INTEREST (2nd season premiere)

10-11 PM ELEMENTARY (Series Debut)

Friday, Sept. 28

8-9 PM CSI: NY (9th season premiere)

9-10 PM MADE IN JERSEY (Series Debut)

10-11 PM BLUE BLOODS (3rd season premiere)

Saturday, Sept. 29

10-11 PM 48 HOURS MYSTERY (26th season premiere)

Sunday, Sept. 30

7-8 PM 60 MINUTES (45th season premiere)

8-9 PM THE AMAZING RACE (21st edition premiere)

9-10 PM THE GOOD WIFE (4th season premiere)

10-11 PM THE MENTALIST (5th season premiere)

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Comedian Apologizes for Rape Joke

A well-known comedian has apologized for aiming a rape joke at a woman who was in the audience during a recent stand-up performance at a Los Angeles comedy club, The Huffington Post reports.

Daniel Tosh, who’s best known for his “Tosh.0” TV show, apologized after a detailed account of the incident at the Laugh Factory was posted on Tumblr.

Tosh issued a series of tweets about the situation, including one that reads: “all the out of context misquotes aside, i’d like to sincerely apologize.”

He also issued a post calling the audience member a heckler: “the point i was making before i was heckled is there are awful things in the world but you can still make jokes about them. #deadbabies”

The Tumblr post, titled “So a Girl Walks into a Comedy Club ....,” contains an apparent first-person account by the audience member, which includes this passage:

“So Tosh then starts making some very generalizing, declarative statements about rape jokes always being funny, how can a rape joke not be funny, rape is hilarious, etc. I don’t know why he was so repetitive about it but I felt provoked because I, for one, DON’T find them funny and never have. So I didnt appreciate Daniel Tosh (or anyone!) telling me I should find them funny. So I yelled out, ‘Actually, rape jokes are never funny!’ ...

“After I called out to him, Tosh paused for a moment. Then, he says, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her …’ and I, completely stunned and finding it hard to process what was happening but knowing i needed to get out of there, immediately nudged my friend, who was also completely stunned, and we high-tailed it out of there. It was humiliating, of course, especially as the audience guffawed in response to Tosh, their eyes following us as we made our way out of there. I didn’t hear the rest of what he said about me.”

The account of the incident has been picked up by a number of blogs and websites, prompting both the apology by Tosh and a response by the owner of the Laugh Factory, who came out in support of Tosh.

The Huffington Post reports: “Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada, who claims to have been present the night of Tosh's show, has told Buzzfeed that the comedian's exchange with the offended audience member didn't happen the way she described.

“According to Masada, Tosh didn't make a joke about the woman getting raped and the topic arose when the comedian asked the audience what they wanted to talk about and someone said ‘rape.’ He says that this is when the woman called out to Tosh, and that he responded like so:

"’Daniel came in, and he said, “Well it sounds like she’s been raped by five guys” -- something like that. I really didn’t hear properly.’"

Masada also said the audience member remained for Tosh’s full set and did not complain at the time.

daniel-tosh.jpgDaniel Tosh

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Weak Premieres for Two New ABC Shows; All-Star Game Numbers Down From Last Year

Fox won the prime-time ratings battle Tuesday night, according to Nielsen overnights, even though its Major League Baseball All-Star Game saw its numbers slip from last year’s game, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

The game scored a 2.9 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, down from the 3.1 final rating for last year’s game. The numbers are subject to significant adjustment due to the nature of live sports programming.

NBC saw its two-hour “America’s Got Talent” bounce back from last week’s season-low 2.3 in 18-49, scoring a 2.7, up 17%. “Love in the Wild” managed to rise too, pulling in a 1.3 average, up a tenth of a ratings point.

ABC’s prime-time lineup performed poorly, with two premieres faring especially badly. “Wipeout” led things off with a 1.4 average in viewers 18-49, down 22% from the previous original -- and that was as good as things got for the Alphabet Network. Back-to-back episodes of “Trust Us With Your Life” at 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., including the series premiere, both managed only 1.1 ratings. The premiere of “NY Med” at 10 p.m. did a little better -- but only a little -- rising to a 1.2 average.

For the night, Fox won prime time with a 2.9 average rating in 18-49, followed by NBC (2.2 average), Univision (1.4), ABC (1.2) and an all-repeat lineup on CBS (1.1). Fox also won total viewers, averaging 10.0 million to 8.4 million for NBC, 6.5 million for CBS, 4.4 million for ABC and 3.7 million for Univision.

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All Systems Go for Return of 'Arrested Development'

The long-awaited return of Fox's Emmy-winning comedy "Arrested Development" has at last begun, confirmed by a series of tweets on Tuesday night from the writer's room, reports TVLine.com.

Ron Howard, executive producer and narrator, tweeted, "'Arrested Development' for Nexflix. IT'S ALIVE." He then posted a photo of himself with Jason Bateman and series creator Mitchell Hurwitz and added, "Mitch [Hurwitz] let Jason and I in on some of the twists and turns ahead. Hilarious.”

Bateman also tweeted about plans for the show, posting: “All systems are go. Filming for the new episodes starts in four weeks. Woo!”

Netflix will release all 10 new episodes at once -- the fourth season of "Arrested Development" -- sometime next year.

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Bloomberg Tries to Shed Light on Usually Secretive Allen & Co. Media Conference by Talking to Warren Buffett, Other Top Execs

The annual midsummer media conference of Allen & Co. in Sun Valley, Idaho, has usually been a tough one for reporters to crack, newswise.

Bloomberg TV gives it a shot this year with live coverage and actually some cooperation from participants at this year's conference.

In a release Bloomberg TV writes, "This Thursday and Friday [July 12 and 13, 2012] Bloomberg TV will present special live coverage from the annual gathering of the world's top tech and media moguls at the Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley, Idaho. Complete coverage is available on the free Bloomberg TV+ app for iPad and on Bloomberg.com."

The release adds that co-hosting Bloomberg's "In the Loop" show Friday at 8 a.m. (ET) is "Berkshire Hathaway Chairman & CEO Warren Buffett."

The lineup for "In the Loop" on Thursday includes AOL Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong; John Donohoe, President & CEO, eBay; Marc Andreessen, General Partner & Co-Founder, Andreessen Horowitz;  Wilbur Ross, Chairman & CEO, WL Ross & Co.; Martin Sorrell, founder & CEO of WPP; and David Winters, CEO, Wintergreen Advisers.

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Grammy Winner Gladys Knight Joins Music Competition Show

Grammy Award-winning singer Gladys Knight is the latest star to get into a music competition television show, reports the AP. Knight will be the lead judge on "Apollo Live," a new series on the Centric network.

Centric is BET's sister network.

The show will emanate from New York's legendary Apollo Theater, where the Apollo’s classic amateur night showcase will be given a new spin. In addition to Knight, Doug E. Fresh and Michael Bivins will also be judges.

Oscar winner Jamie Foxx is executive producing and Tony Rock is the show's host. "Apollo Live" will premiere this fall on Centric.

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Shaquille O'Neal to Star in truTV Series

Shaquille O'Neal, former NBA great and current TNT basketball analyst, will be the star of a new truTV show tentatively titled "Upload with Shaquille O'Neal," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Joined by Gary Owen and Godfrey, the program will present funny online videos in a format along the lines of “Tosh.0,” with the show providing commentary and video parodies.

According to truTV EVP and COO Marc Juris: "Shaquille O'Neal has such a great personality, and he really has a lot of fun with the format and the material in this new truTV series. This show is going to be a great fit with truTV's comedic shows like 'Impractical Jokers' and the upcoming 'Killer Karaoke.'"

O'Neal commented, too, saying simply: “I’ve always tried to entertain people and I know this show will deliver big laughs.”

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First Pilot Order for 2013-14 Television Season Picked Up by CBS

The first pilot order for the 2013-14 television season has been made, and it comes from CBS for the comedy "Ex-Men," reports Deadline.com.

Written and directed by Rob Greenberg, "Ex-Men" is about a young man learning about the world from older men living in his short-term rental building, the story says. Greenberg is an executive producer on CBS's "How I Met Your Mother."

"'Ex-Men' has been kicking around for a few years, but with buying season starting the comedy was still acquired ahead of any dramas," the piece notes.

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Study Lists Most Memorable TV Moments of the Past 50 Years

A study released today reveals the most memorable TV moments of the past 50 years, the Associated Press reports, with one event coming in far ahead of all others: the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack.

“The only thing that came close was President John F. Kennedy's assassination and its aftermath in 1963, but that was only for the people aged 55 and over who experienced those events as they happened instead of replayed as an historical artifact,” the story reports.

The survey, which ranks events by their impact on viewers, is a collaboration of Sony Electronics and the Nielsen television research company. It takes into account whether people remember watching particular events on television, whether they remember where they were at the time, who was with them and whether they discussed what they had watched.

“By that measure, the Sept. 11 tragedy was nearly twice as impactful as the second-ranked moment, which was the coverage of Hurricane Katrina in 2005,” the story reports. “Minutes after the first airplane struck New York's World Trade Center on a late summer morning, television networks began covering the events continuously and stayed with them for days.

“The other biggest TV events, in order, were the 1995 verdict in O.J. Simpson's murder trial, the Challenger space shuttle explosion in 1986 and the death of Osama bin Laden last year, the survey found.”

Brian Siegel, vice president of television business for Sony, said he expected entertainment events to rank higher, but instead the study found that TV coverage of news events had the greatest impact on viewers.

The study found "that television is really the grandmother of all the social devices," Siegel said.

Examples of major entertainment events, and where they came in on the survey, include the final episode of "M*A*S*H" (ranked No. 42), the Beatles' appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" (No. 43) and the "Who shot J.R.?" episode of "Dallas" (No. 44).

The report notes: “The Super Bowl is annually the most-watched TV event, with this year's game between the N.Y. Giants and New England Patriots setting an all-time record with 111 million viewers. The memories don't seem to linger, however: The top-ranked Super Bowl Sunday event in Sony's study came in 2004 and had nothing to do with football. It was Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction (No. 26).”

Differences were noted between men’s and women’s responses. “For example, women ranked the 1997 funeral of Princess Diana as the fourth most memorable event, while men put that at No. 23. Women ranked last year's death of Whitney Houston at No. 5, with men judging it No. 21,” the story reports. “Similarly, the 2003 bombing of Baghdad at the start of the Iraq War was seen as the No. 14 most impactful moment by men, and No. 37 among women. Men were also far more struck by boxer Mike Tyson biting off a piece of Evander Holyfield's ear.”

Older events had trouble competing with more recent events, simply because younger viewers don’t remember them. For example, the first manned moon landing, in 1969, came in at No. 21.

Not surprisingly, big differences were noted by age: “JFK's assassination was the second-most impactful TV event among people 55 and over, while for those between 18 and 34, it was the death of Osama bin Laden,” the story reports. “Young people also ranked Barack Obama's Election Night speech in 2008 at No. 3, while that didn't move older viewers quite as much (No. 24).”

Historic events including the JFK assassination, President Nixon's resignation and the moon landing “didn't register at all among viewers 18 to 34,” the report notes. “The oldest event to appear in their rankings was the 1980 shooting of John Lennon.”

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Fired 'Community' Showrunner Reveals What Went on Behind the Scenes of Troubled NBC Sitcom -- and Offers a Lively Critique of TV and Society as a Whole; Here's the Video

"Community" creator Dan Harmon told Marc Maron on "Attack of the Show" that in the future he will "have less ideas, because I want to be successful in television," reports EW.com's Inside TV.

As previously reported, Harmon was fired from his role as showrunner on "Community” after a strained relationship between himself and studio Sony Pictures Television. While the show is a critical favorite, it has failed to find the kind of large audience enjoyed by rival comedies such as "The Big Bang Theory."

In a lively 11-minute interview, Harmon said: "I feel like I’m a good person and a professional, a very able leader of men. I also feel like I’m 25. … Maybe I am just a jerk. To people who work above me I am a liability that isn’t worth the benefit. It’s a low-rated show that’s not generating much revenue.”

“In the third season you can see me start to go, ‘Never mind, just give me a good review in the Times,’" Harmon said, talking about his approach to the show's ratings.

Among many highlights in the interview, he comments on “Community’s” time slot competition, including Fox juggernaut “American Idol,” saying: “Why do they win? Why does the robot get to eat the people?” Admitting that he aspires to mainstream success, he describes television as a “populist, derivative, democratic medium,” adding: “You’re supposed to make a hamburger everyone wants in their mouth.”

Here’s the complete interview:

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Tom Cruise Camp Addresses Role Scientology May or May Not Have Played in the Divorce

With speculation swirling about just what came up during top-secret negotiations in the divorce of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, one side is doing its best to shoot down some of the rumors. E! Online reports that a lawyer for Cruise is saying the actor’s controversial religion was not a factor in the divorce settlement.

"Let me be very clear about this. The Church of Scientology played absolutely no role in the divorce settlement talks at all. Period," Cruise attorney Bert Fields told Radar Online, according to the report.

Rumors have focused on Scientology as a factor in the split and a sticking point in the talks. Not so, says Fields. "The mere suggestion that the Church was involved in any element of the talks and ultimate settlement is categorically false,” he said. “Anyone suggesting otherwise is just wrong."

The report notes: “Shortly after word of the split broke, a source close to Holmes told E! News exclusively that the 33-year-old was ‘never truly comfortable’ with the religion. ‘It was something she accepted and put up with for many years because it was important to Tom,’ the source said, adding, ‘It wasn't that she was against Scientology ... but she also didn't want it to be her everything, and for Tom, in some ways, it was.’"

The report adds that a representative for Scientology has denied accusations that the church sent a surveillance team to keep track of Holmes’ activities following the couple’s split.

“News of the divorce settlement has also fueled talk of Scientology's subsequent role in Suri's life, with reports surfacing that Holmes demanded the religion not be discussed around the child, and that Suri be accompanied by Holmes' personal staff during visits with Cruise,” the story adds.

Jonathan Wolfe, Holmes’ lawyer, isn’t offering much insight. "There are numerous inaccuracies in the reports regarding the purported contents of the agreement reached between the parties,” Wolfe said. “The agreement is confidential and its terms will not be disclosed."

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'SNL' Star Throws Cold Water on Reports That He Will Replace Regis

A "Saturday Night Live" cast member has responded to widespread reports that he’s the leading contender to replace Regis Philbin on “Live with Kelly!” Seth Meyers, who’s also “SNL’s” head writer, tells the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that he's not interested in the co-hosting job on the morning show.

"No, no, no, no, no,” Meyers said. "I know [Reege’s replacement] is a very important thing down there. But, right now, what I would say to you: I’m really in love with the job I have. I’m very excited to be going back [to ‘SNL’] for the election season, which is always fun.”

As previously reported, Meyers has been rumored to be the likely replacement for Philbin. He's filling in as co-host with Kelly Ripa on the show this week.

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ABC's 'Good Afternoon America' Pumps Up Numbers for Time Slot -- Despite Dissing Liza

The debut of ABC's "Good Afternoon America" -- a spinoff of the network’s morning show "Good Morning America" -- drew 1.92 million total viewers on Monday, reports B&C.

That's an improvement of 40% in total viewers from the average delivery of "The Revolution" in the same time period, the story says. ABC canceled "The Revolution" in April.

ABC is giving "Good Afternoon America" a nine-week test run. As previously reported, the Monday debut didn't go off without a hitch, as the broadcast ended abruptly in the middle of an anecdote by singer Liza Minnelli.

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Confidence in TV News Sinks to All-Time Low

Confidence in television news among U.S. viewers has sunk to an all-time low, according to a new survey by Gallup. Politico.com reports that only 21% of the adults surveyed indicated they have “a great deal” or “a lot” of confidence in the TV news media, down from 46% in 1993 and continuing what has been a steady decline in the number since that time.

The number was down from 27% a year ago, when it had an uncharacteristic rise from the previous all-time low of 22% in 2010.

“Meanwhile, just 25% of those polled expressed confidence in newspapers, the second-lowest rating since 1973 and less than half of the 51% peak in 1979,” the report notes. “Of 16 U.S. institutions tested -- including the police, the church, the Supreme Court, banks, and big business -- newspapers ranked tenth, television news eleventh. (The military is the most trusted institution, with a 75% confidence rating; Congress is the least trusted institution, with a 13% confidence rating).”

The authors of the Gallup study reported: "It is not clear precisely why Americans soured so much on television news this year compared with last. Americans' negativity likely reflects the continuation of a broader trend that appeared to enjoy only a brief respite last year. Americans have grown more negative about the media in recent years, as they have about many other U.S. institutions and the direction of the country in general."

The Politico report adds: “Confidence in television news also declined across the ideological spectrum, though the decline in confidence among liberals and moderates was far more severe, putting their outlook below that of conservatives for the first time since 2007. Nineteen percent of liberals expressed confidence in television media, versus 20 percent of moderates and 22 percent of conservatives.”

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Major GM Car Promotion: Buy a Chevy, and If You Don't Like It, Return Car for Full Refund Within 60 Days

"General Motors Co., in a move to appeal to new buyers, said today that it will allow consumers to return any new 2012 or 2013 model year Chevrolet for a full refund within 60 days, if they're unhappy with their purchase," according to Automotive News. [Automotive News, like TVWeek, is owned by Crain Communications.]

The article adds, "GM said the new promotion runs through Sept. 4. If the vehicle was driven for fewer than 4,000 miles and has no damage, consumers will be able to return the vehicle for a refund of the purchase price and sales tax. The refund offer, valid between 31 and 60 days of taking delivery, doesn't include non-GM accessories, finance charges, extended warranties, or license fees."

Furthermore, according to the story, "Chevrolet also said it would offer lower pricing on all 2012s on top of other incentives the automaker already has in place. Chevy is promising one simple, no-haggle price on all its vehicles, naming the promotion 'Total Confidence Pricing.'

"As automakers begin to transition to the 2013 model year, Chevrolet is hoping to boost sales by drawing in shoppers who wouldn't have otherwise considered a Chevy, while also improving the brand's long-term image. After gaining U.S. market share in 2010 and 2011, Chevrolet has slipped this year. Sales are up 6 percent through June in a market that has risen 15 percent."

To see the complete details of this promotion, please read the full Automotive News story here.

The campaign is good news for TV stations, since GM is backing the promotion with TV commercials.

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'X-Men,' 'Tower Heist' Director in Talks to Exec Produce His First Cable Series

Brett Ratner, who is known for directing films such as "Tower Heist" and “X-Men: The Last Stand,” is in talks to executive produce what would be his first cable series, reports TheWrap.com.

The series, "Rock in a Hard Place," is created by Huffington Post contributor David Fagin, the story notes. The series tracks an aging Jewish punk legend, the former leader of a band called The Prix. The project could end up on Showtime, the piece adds.

"Wings" actor Steven Weber is in talks to play the punk musician, Lance "Lint" Jones, who moves in with his mother after going to rehab, the story notes.

Rosanna Arquette, who is slated to co-executive produce, will play his ex, who used to be a soft-core porn actress. Also in the cast is Lesley Ann Warren, who plays a female Dr. Phil, the story adds.

The pilot will be directed by Griffin Dunne, who co-starred with Arquette in the 1985 film "After Hours."

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Comcast Strikes Deal to Sell A&E Stake for $3 Billion -- Far More Than Earlier Estimates

Comcast will sell its minority stake in A&E Television Networks for $3 billion, a higher price tag than Comcast had earlier valued the investment, reports Joe Flint in the Los Angeles Times' Company Town.

Comcast had earlier pegged the value at $2 billion, when two months ago it disclosed that it had exercised an option to sell its 15.8% stake to majority owners Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Corp.

The ability to gain entire control of A&E Networks, which owns A&E, History and LIfetime, made the property more valuable to Hearst and Disney, who are now 50/50 partners, the story says.

"The channels -- particularly History, which last month struck ratings gold with its 'Hatfields & McCoys' -- are strong properties and cash cows," Flint writes.

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NBC Adds Facebook as Partner in Olympics Coverage

NBC and Facebook have created an Olympics partnership, with the broadcaster pledging to nudge viewers to talk about the Games on the social-networking site, which in turn will remind its users to watch the Games, reports The New York Times.

Facebook data will help guide television coverage of the Summer Games, which start July 27, with a "Facebook Talk Meter" shown on TV to illustrate what's being discussed online, the story notes.

Since the last Summer Olympics in 2008, Facebook has grown to 900 million users from 100 million.

"Facebook has the attention of a large portion of the American audience,” said Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics. The partnership is part of "our continuing efforts to reassemble the audience” that's fragmented during the past few years, he noted.

The deal isn't an advertising agreement, and no money is changing hands, the piece adds.

"In effect, the companies will be marketing each other’s products, possibly encouraging even more simultaneous viewing and chatting," the story says.

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As Talks Fail, 20 Million DirecTV Customers Lose Viacom Networks

After Viacom and DirecTV failed to reach a new agreement before midnight, DirecTV's almost 20 million customers lost access to Viacom's 26 networks, reports Bloomberg.

Viacom demanded its networks, including MTV and Comedy Central, be removed from DirecTV and said it wouldn't respond to a new offer that was sent July 9, according to a statement from DirecTV.

"Viacom sent us a letter last night that outlined our obligations to remove the channels by midnight or face legal action," says the statement from Derek Chang, DirecTV's executive vice president of content, strategy and development.

The standoff is the latest between a pay-TV provider and a content supplier, with a previous fight affecting 14 million Dish customers who lost access to AMC last month, the story points out.

DirecTV dropped Viacom's networks, which include nine high-definition versions of the 17 Viacom cable networks carried by DirecTV, 10 minutes before midnight, the story says.

As previously reported, both companies have put their own spins on the dispute, with Viacom claiming DirecTV had rejected its "best efforts," including a lower rate than it receives from any other distributor. For its part, DirecTV claimed Viacom wants subscribers to pay 30% more.

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NBC Names New Drama Exec

Just hours after revealing that Laura Lancaster was on the way out as exec VP of drama programming, as reported earlier today, NBC released a statement naming Pearlena Igbokwe as the new EVP, drama development, for NBC Entertainment.

The announcement came from Jennifer Salke, president of NBC Entertainment, who said in the statement: “Pearlena has forged an impressive track record over her successful career that has earned her the admiration of the creative community. She will bring a unique perspective to development that will help us reach our goal of once again making NBC the home of some of the best and most respected dramas on television.”

Igbokwe will report directly to Salke. Lancaster moves into a consultancy role during the transition period and the drama development season.

Igbokwe comes from Showtime, where she worked closely with NBC Chairman Robert Greenblatt. Among the shows she was involved with at Showtime are "Dexter," "Nurse Jackie," "The Big C" and the upcoming "Masters of Sex."

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Why Wayne Brady Says He Would 'Gladly Slap the Sh*t Out of Bill Maher'

Wayne Brady, the affable host of CBS's "Let's Make A Deal," didn’t pull any punches during an interview that became racially charged when the topic turned to Bill Maher, The Huffington Post reports.

Brady vented his anger in response to references by the host of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher” in which Maher likened President Obama to Brady, the story reports.

Brady, who was a guest on Aisha Tyler's podcast "Girl on Guy," took offense at the inference that Brady and the president aren’t black enough. "That means it's a diss to Obama to be called me because he [Maher] wants a brother brother," Brady said.

Brady summed up his anger at Maher, saying: “You mean to slam the leader of the free world with my name because I’m not the aggressive black man ... let’s go.”

Brady referred at one point to Maher’s reputed preference for black women, saying: "Just because you f*ck black hookers, just because you had that particular black experience … I have to stop myself from getting into it ... because I realize the thing is that if I had gone on his show, or even doing it online, I'm not going to win. Because as soon as you back off, he still has his platform to say whatever he wants to."

But Brady cautioned Maher against assuming anyone will take his insults quietly. “If Bill Maher has his perception of what’s black wrapped up, I would gladly slap the shit out of Bill Maher in the middle of the street,” Brady said. He added, however, that such action would probably lead to legal trouble.

“It’s not worth it for me,” Brady noted, “but the black man part of me would be so satisfied to slap the shit out of him in front of Coco and Ebony and Fox, the three ladies of the night that he has hired."

Here’s a clip containing audio of the interview:

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Screen Legend Announces He's Retiring

A screen legend says he’s retiring after a life of carousing and impressive career achievements -- including eight Oscar nominations, an Emmy Award and four Golden Globes.

USA Today reports that Peter O’Toole, 79, says he’s had enough. "It is time for me to chuck in the sponge," O’Toole said. "The heart for it has gone out of me -- it won't come back."

The story adds: “No one who saw it will ever forget O'Toole's golden hair and deep blue eyes on screen in the 1962 film ‘Lawrence of Arabia,’ in which he portrayed the flamboyantly weird British military leader T.E. Lawrence rallying Arab Bedouin tribesmen during World War I. Considered one of the most influential films ever, ‘Lawrence’ won seven Oscars and earned O'Toole his first of eight acting nominations.”

One of those eight nominations came for the 1982 comedy "My Favorite Year," which is one of the best movies ever about TV. The movie takes place in 1954, and O'Toole steals the film playing a legendary screen personality who is a guest star on a TV show.

Despite his eight nods, O’Toole never won a competitive Academy Award. He received an honorary Oscar in 2003. He also piled up three Emmy nominations, winning for his supporting role in “Joan of Arc” in 1999, and 11 Golden Globe nominations, winning Most Promising Male Newcomer in 1963 (the same year he was nominated but didn’t win for “Lawrence of Arabia”), and taking home trophies for “Becket” in 1965, “The Lion in Winter” in 1969 and “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” in 1970.

O’Toole’s most recent Oscar nomination was for his lead role in the 2006 movie “Venus.”

“O'Toole, who lives in London, said he will spend his time working on the third volume of his memoirs,” the story reports.

O’Toole said of his career that it has "brought me public support, emotional fulfillment and material comfort. It has brought me together with fine people, good companions with whom I've shared the inevitable lot of all actors: flops and hits.

"However, it's my belief that one should decide for oneself when it is time to end one's stay. I bid the profession a dry-eyed and profoundly grateful farewell."

peter-otoole.jpgPeter O’Toole

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Video: Jordanian Politician Pulls Gun During Debate on Live TV

A heated political debate in Jordan turned into a viral video moment when a member of the Jordanian Parliament first threw his shoe at a rival and then pulled out a gun on live television, The Times of Israel reports.

The story reports: “The MP, Mohammed Shawabka, was debating a political activist and former MP named Mansour Sayf al-Din Murad on the Jo Sat TV station on Thursday. The discussion escalated into a furious confrontation, at the height of which Shawabka pulled a pistol out of his waistband and brandished it at Murad.”

Shawabka has been accused of libel, slander and attempted murder in a formal complaint filed by Murad, according to Jordanian media reports cited in the story.

The piece reports: “Murad told Jordan’s Gerasa News that Shawabka’s bringing a gun into a TV newsroom was ‘an insult to the media,’ that he felt he had been subjected to a ‘public bullying,’ and that for an MP to act in such a fashion conveyed the dangerous sense that one could be subjected to abuse and death threats simply for stating an opinion.”

The volatile incident took place during a discussion of attitudes toward the uprising in Syria, the story reports.

The piece notes: “According to an Al Arabiya report, what most infuriated Shawabka was that Murad insulted his father. The same report said Shawabka’s driver also brawled with Murad, hitting him in the face before studio employees separated them.”

The two men reportedly accused each other during the debate of various crimes.

According to the report: “Shawabka claimed Murad was in the pay of the Syrian regime. Murad countered that Shawabka worked for the Israeli Mossad intelligence agency. ‘You’re a Mossad agent,’ he said. ‘You’re a big crook,’ came the response.

“The MP stood up and began screaming and pointing at the activist, who was sitting opposite him, while the host of the program, Mohammed Habashneh, seated in the center, desperately urged his guests to ‘calm down.’”

Here’s a video clip of the incident:

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Reality Check for NBC: Monday Lineup Tanks

One NBC reality show hit an all-time low in the ratings Monday night while another returned from a hiatus to a big drop in viewers, TVbytheNumbers.com reports, citing Nielsen overnights. For prime time as a whole, the network finished in fifth place in the key 18-49 demo, behind Spanish-language broadcaster Univision and behind an all-repeat lineup on CBS.

NBC’s “Fear Factor” returned after being off the air for five months, but managed only a 1.3 average rating in adults 18-49, 13% below its previous original episode back on Feb. 12. “American Ninja Warrior” beat that number with a 1.4 average, but that was down a hefty 26% from the previous original on June 24 -- and represented the series’ all-time low.

Fox won the night by a narrow margin over ABC, with Fox’s Monday pairing of food shows “Hell’s Kitchen” and “MasterChef” continuing to show strength. Both shows averaged 2.4 ratings in viewers 18-49.

ABC’s two-hour “The Bachelorette” (2.5 average rating in 18-49, even with a week ago) came in as the top show of the night, but the network’s overall number for prime time was dragged down by the 10 p.m. broadcast of “The Glass House,” which managed only a 1.1.

For prime time overall, Fox averaged a 2.4 rating to win adults 18-49, ahead of ABC (2.0 average), Univision (1.3), CBS (1.2) and NBC (1.1). Total viewers went to ABC with 6.5 million, ahead of Fox (5.9 million), CBS (4.9 million), Univision (3.6 million) and NBC (3.4 million).

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Is This Worse Than Spelling 'Minnelli' Wrong? So Far, Not So Good for ABC's Experiment With Expanded 'GMA'

ABC is trying an afternoon expansion of its morning show "Good Morning America," with a nine-week trial that might become more permanent if it performs well, reports the Associated Press.

But the Monday debut of “Good Afternoon America” didn’t exactly come off without a hitch. The broadcast ended abruptly in the middle of an anecdote from singer Liza Minnelli, the story notes. Minnelli was interviewed after singing "New York, New York" in the show's Manhattan studio, the piece adds.

"The show began at 2 p.m. ET and was blessed on its first day with legitimate pop culture news: the rapid divorce settlement between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes," the article points out.

Hosted by Lara Spencer and Josh Elliott, who are both featured on the morning show, the afternoon program kept to the early show's mixture of light topics and pop culture, the story adds.

The report by AP television writer David Bauder gives this account of the Minnelli appearance: “Minnelli, backed by a band and dancers, performed to tout a new live disc of a 1974 recording. In the interview following, Elliott asked her, ‘What was it like watching Liza Minnelli back then?’

“A slightly bewildered Minnelli replied: ‘I don't know. I've never seen her.’

“She then launched into an anecdote about the old days before being stopped cold by Spencer. They'd run out of time on Day One.”

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NBC Shows the Door to Top Drama Programmer

After failing to deliver a ratings breakout in recent years, a key drama executive is getting the boot at NBC, TheWrap.com reports. Laura Lancaster, the network’s executive vice president of drama programming, is leaving after six years on the job.

NBC, which has been struggling in fourth place in the ratings, told Lancaster of the decision Monday, the story notes.

While some dramas have been successful, such as "Smash" and "Grimm," others, including the high-profile "The Playboy Club" and "Prime Suspect," failed, the piece notes.

During Lancaster’s time at NBC, however, the network also debuted popular shows including "Friday Night Lights" and "Heroes." Lancaster was promoted to her role in 2006 after working as a programming executive at NBC Universal Television Studio, where she was credited with developing shows such as "House."

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Celebrity Chef Dead at 29 -- Anthony Sedlak Was a Star in His Native Country

A celebrity chef who was well-known in his native country, Anthony Sedlak, has died at 29, TV Guide reports. Sedlak, who was the host of Food Network Canada’s “The Main,” was found dead Friday in his apartment in Vancouver.

The story reports: “At the age of 23, Sedlak represented Canada at the World Junior Chef Challenge in Auckland, New Zealand, where he won the silver medal. The next year, he won Food Network's Superstar Chef Challenge.”

Sedlak became host of “The Main” in 2007, with the show running four seasons. He also appeared as a judge on Food Network Canada’s “Family Cook Off.”

He is believed to have died from an undiagnosed medical condition. Sedlak is quoted by some sources as saying once in an interview that his motto was “Live fast, die young.”

anthony-sedlak.jpgAnthony Sedlak

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Another Presidential Likeness Surfaces in an HBO Program -- This Time It's Obama

Just a few weeks after a controversy arose over the use of a prosthetic head resembling former President George W. Bush in HBO's "Game of Thrones,” HBO may be at it again. Deadline.com reports that the HBO prop department turned again to a presidential theme for "True Blood," where several Barack Obama masks are used as disguises for a truck of thugs.

As previously reported, Bush's lookalike head was impaled on a spike in “Game of Thrones.”

In the "True Blood" episode, the thugs pulled up and fired at several of the show's characters, including Sam Merlotte, the story says.

"Though the gang’s appearance was more like 1991′s 'Point Break' -- where bank robbers wore presidential masks in pulling their heists -- than 'Games'’ depiction of Bush, it was still an odd occurrence considering the timing of the 'Thrones' controversy," the story notes.

An HBO representative called it "a complete and utter coincidence and one show has nothing to do with the other,” according to the piece.

true-blood-obama-masks.jpg"True Blood"

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North Korea Puts on a Mickey Mouse TV Broadcast -- and Disney's Not Amused

A North Korean television broadcast featuring Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters appears to be a sign that the country’s new leader, Kim Jong-un, is warming up -- even just a tiny bit -- to Western culture, The New York Times reports. But Disney appears to be less than amused about the unauthorized use of its trademarked characters.

Disney issued only a terse statement, saying through spokeswoman Zenia Mucha: “This was not licensed or authorized by the Walt Disney Company.”

The report notes: “The appearance of the characters from the United States, North Korea’s mortal enemy, was remarkable fare on tightly controlled North Korean television, which usually shows more somber and overtly political programs.”

The story adds: “As with many things in the North’s bellicose and reclusive Stalinist government, Mr. Kim’s rationale was a mystery, but there was a hint that the performance might be significant. An article about the performance by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said that Mr. Kim, who took over after the death in December of his father, Kim Jong-il, had a ‘grandiose plan to bring a dramatic turn in the field of literature and arts this year.’”

In addition to Mickey Mouse, the telecast included costumed performers representing Minnie Mouse, Tigger, Winnie the Pooh and other Disney characters. The figures performed in front of Kim and “an entourage of clapping generals,” the report notes.

The article adds: “The footage included a segment with a broadly smiling Mr. Kim -- with his marked resemblance to his revered grandfather, Kim Il-sung, the nation’s founder -- gesturing like a symphony conductor as he gave guidance on music and art to what appeared to be a half-dozen North Korean reporters busily scribbling in notebooks, one of them in a military uniform.”

Here’s some video of the event from U.K.’s The Telegraph -- perhaps entertaining in unintended ways, from a Western standpoint:

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Adam Lambert Responds to Reports He's in Running for 'Idol' Judge

Former “American Idol” contestant Adam Lambert is opening up in response to reports that he’s being considered for a job as a judge on the Fox competition show, MTV reports.

As we reported yesterday, Lambert, the season eight runner-up, is the subject of the latest rumors about who will fill the judges’ seats in what is expected to be a reconstructed “Idol” lineup for fall -- the show's 12th season.

While some media reports have indicated Lambert’s reps have been in talks with “Idol” for more than a month, MTV reports that Lambert himself says he hasn’t heard about any talks.

"I'm just hearing about this today as well, and so what a beautiful rumor," Lambert told a British radio station, according to MTV. "Listen, if -- and I say 'if' with a capital I-F -- if they were to approach me and if they were to say, 'We want you to be a judge on the show,' I would love that. I would jump at the chance."

Lambert confirmed his interest in the job in a statement he issued Monday, saying: "'Idol' has an amazing history of introducing great musical talent, and I was very fortunate to have had the ‘Idol’ stage play a big part in my career. IF 'Idol' wants to talk to me about Judging, I'd be more than flattered to have that conversation."

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Viacom Warns That Its Networks May Go Dark on DirecTV, as the Two Companies Put Their Own Spins on the Impasse

Viacom is warning viewers that its networks may go dark for DirecTV subscribers starting today, July 10, 2012, according to a blog post from Viacom.

"We’ve been negotiating for months and even offered DirecTV an extension past the agreement’s original June 30th expiration date," the company says in the post. "However, despite our best efforts, DirecTV has rejected all of our proposals to renew our agreement. This evening, DirecTV provided Viacom with a counter proposal that included a lower rate than Viacom receives from any other distributor in the industry. With this offer, our negotiations have reached an impasse.”

That could mean that DirecTV's 20 million customers could lose Viacom's 26 networks, including MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, the post points out.

According to DirecTV, however, Viacom "wants you to pay over 30% more to keep the same channels," the company says on its website.

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Report: Amazon Planning Smartphone to Challenge iPhone. Plus What to Look for in the Next Generation Kindle Fire

"Amazon.com Inc. is developing a smartphone that would vie with Apple Inc.’s iPhone and handheld devices that run Google Inc.'s Android operating system, two people with knowledge of the matter said," Bloomberg reported recently.

Accroding the to article, published on July 6, 2012, "Foxconn International Holdings Ltd., the Chinese mobile-phone maker, is working with Amazon on the device, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. Amazon is seeking to complement the smartphone strategy by acquiring patents that cover wireless technology and would help it defend against allegations of infringement, other people with knowledge of the matter said."

Furthermore, John Paczkowski at All Things D reports: "The next iteration of [Amazon's Kindle] Fire will be thinner and lighter than the original. It will also have a built-in camera and a much-improved display."

The All Things D article continues: "And, more importantly, developers familiar with the device have been instructed to build their apps for a display with a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution, which is a bit different than the 1024 x 600 display of the current Kindle Fire. Not only will that apparently make it sharper and more vibrant, it will give it a different aspect ratio, as well. In other words, the display has an entirely new width-to-height ratio.

“'The really interesting thing here is that the screen shape is changing slightly: From an aspect ratio of 1.71 (tall and narrow in its standard Portrait mode) to an aspect ratio of 1.60,' DisplayMate President Raymond Soneira told AllThingsD, when asked about what that means."

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Analyst Serves Up a Grim Reality Check About Media Companies' Second-Quarter Results -- With a Couple of Companies Dodging the Bullet

A media analyst has come out with a report that delivers bad news for many media companies -- although it should come as good news to Disney and Cinemark.

Deadline.com reports that Nomura Securities’ Michael Nathanson fired a “warning shot” this morning “as he lowered his Q2 earnings-per-share estimates for Viacom, News Corp., Time Warner and Scripps Networks -- but raised for Disney and Cinemark. (He left CBS, Discovery and Regal unchanged.)”

The generally sour tone of Nathanson’s analysis is expected to come as a disappointment to investors after what has been an upbeat first six months of 2012. “For example, Scripps shares were up nearly 30%, followed by Disney (+28%), Discovery (+26%), News Corp. (+23%) and CBS (+19%),” the story reports.

The upticks, the report notes, were mainly due to market optimism rather than improved earnings.

“Perceptions could change later this month when companies begin to file their Q2 numbers.” the story reports. “With television’s scatter ad market weakening, ‘We expect national broadcast and cable network advertising to decelerate’ from 6.5% year-over-year growth in Q1 to just 2.2% in Q2, [Nathanson] says.”

The bottom line, according to the report: “Nathanson reduced his Q2 earnings per share forecast for Scripps by 13% to 87 cents, with Time Warner -5% to 57 cents, News Corp. -3% to 31 cents, and Viacom -2% to $1. He raised Disney 3% to 93 cents and Cinemark 8% to 37 cents.”

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Julianna Margulies Sued by Her Former Managers

Former managers for "The Good Wife" star Julianna Margulies have sued the actress, charging that they got her on the show and orchestrated a deal with L'Oreal, but that she stopped paying them their commissions after she fired them, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq.

The managers at D/F Management claim she owes them at least $420,000 in unpaid commissions and should continue to pay them 10% of what she makes on shows and for product deals that were signed while they represented her, the story notes.

Calls to Margulies' publicist and attorney weren't returned, according to the story.

Margulies has earned a Golden Globe, two SAG Awards and an Emmy as outstanding lead actress in a drama series for her work on "The Good Wife."

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Facebook May Offer Job to Hulu CEO

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg reportedly "likes" Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar's work so much he's considering him for a top job, according to the New York Post.

Zuckerberg wants to increase Facebook's appeal to advertisers, especially with online video advertising, which is a major revenue stream for Hulu, the story notes.

Kilar's contract is reportedly expired with Hulu. As previously reported, he recently took himself out of the running for the chief executive post at Yahoo!.

A Hulu representative declined to comment, while Facebook didn't respond to a request for comment, according to the Post.

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'Burn Notice' Studio's Upcoming TV Project Tackles Best-Selling 'Harry Bosch' Books

The studio behind USA Network's "Burn Notice" is working with "Treme" producer Eric Overmyer and writer Michael Connelly on a TV series based on Connelly's "Harry Bosch" novels, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Fuse Entertainment, which is also behind AMC's "The Killing," will work with its parent company SevenOne International on the project, the story notes.

"There is so much Bosch material available that I've felt for a long time that the best way to maintain the integrity of the character would be to take him to television, where some of the best character stuff is being done right now,” Connelly said in a statement. He added that he's a fan of Fuse's "The Killing."

Bosch is a homicide detective and Vietnam veteran who lives in the Hollywood Hills, while his half-brother is the L.A. defense attorney Mickey Haller, who was featured in the film "The Lincoln Lawyer." Connelly is also adapting "The Lincoln Lawyer" for ABC, the piece notes.

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Lance Armstrong Files Suit on Monday, July 9, 2012, To Block Doping Charges. Within Hours Federal Judge Dismisses Suit, Criticizes Armstrong's 'Desire for Publicity'

"Within seven hours of Lance Armstrong filing a lawsuit that sought to block the United States Anti-Doping Agency from punishing him for alleged doping violations, a federal judge in Austin, Tex., struck down the complaint," reports The New York Times.

The article continues, "Sam Sparks, of United States District Court, chastised Armstrong’s lawyers for submitting an 80-plus page complaint filled with allegations that 'were totally irrelevant to Armstrong’s claims.' Sparks said the court was left to presume that the lengthy list of allegations 'were included solely to increase media coverage of this case, and to incite public opinion against' the antidoping agency and Travis Tygart, the agency’s chief executive who is also named as a defendant."

Armstrong and his attorneys were told they could refile the suit within 20 days "but only if he limits his pleadings to information that is legally relevant to his case," the Times reports.

In the lawsuit that Armstrong and his lawyers filed earlier today, July 9, 2012, they claimed that  U.S. Anti-Doping Agency "rules violate athletes’ constitutional right to a fair trial, and that the agency doesn’t have jurisdiction in his case. It also accuses USADA’s chief executive, Travis Tygart, of waging a personal vendetta against the cancer survivor who won the Tour de France every year from 1999 to 2005," according to the Associated Press.

The Times also notes that Judge Sparks wrote in rejecting the lawsuit that "This Court is not inclined to indulge Amstrong’s desire for publicity, self-aggrandizement or vilification of Defendants, by sifting through eighty mostly unnecessary pages in search of the few kernels of factual material relevant to his claims.”

During the record seven consecutive years that Armstrong won the Tour de France the broadcast of that bicycling race drew increasingly higher ratings on TV.

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Wow: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes Have Quickly SETTLED Their Divorce

Almost as suddenly as news broke of Katie Holmes’ divorce filing, word has surfaced today that Holmes and Tom Cruise have reached a settlement, TheWrap.com reports.

The couple did not reveal details of the settlement, but People magazine reports: “Sources close to both sides say that Cruise, 50, and Holmes, 33, were working on an arrangement in which Suri lives in New York with her mother and her father is given generous visitation rights.”

Holmes' attorney Jonathan Wolfe said in a statement to People: "The case has been settled and the agreement has been signed. We are thrilled for Katie and her family and are excited to watch as she embarks on the next chapter of her life.”

Cruise's attorney Dennis Wasser, also released a statement to People, saying: "All the lawyers and the parties are happy that it's done, the deal was closed and we wish everyone well."

Holmes and Cruise released a joint statement to the website saying: “We are committed to working together as parents to accomplishing what is in our daughter Suri’s best interests. We want to keep matters affecting our family private and express our respect for each other’s commitment to each of our respective beliefs and support each other’s roles as parents.”

The story notes: “Reports last week indicated that Cruise intended to file his own divorce suit against Holmes, with Cruise's lawyer, Bert Fields, saying that he intended to let Holmes ‘play the media’ before getting Cruise's side of the story out.”

Cruise’s involvement with the Church of Scientology was believed to be an issue in the divorce, as previously reported. Holmes reportedly wanted to raise the couple’s 6-year-old daughter, Suri, outside the influence of the church.

They had been married since November 2006.

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'Real Housewives' Star Angling to Be Brought Back for Another Season

One of the stars of Bravo’s “Real Housewives” franchise is doing her best to make sure she’s invited back for another season, the New York Post’s Page Six reports.

"Real Housewives of New Jersey" cast member Teresa Giudice will meet with Bravo executive Andy Cohen to try to secure a role on the show's fifth season, which hasn't yet been confirmed, the story says.

Giudice is reportedly nervous after Bravo let go Jill Zarin, Alex McCord, Kelly Bensimon and Cindy Barshop from “Real Housewives of New York City" before that show's fifth season, the story notes.

A representative for Giudice, who recently appeared on "The Celebrity Apprentice," didn't get back to the publication for comment, while a Bravo rep said there hasn't been an official announcement yet about a fifth season, the story says.

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HBO Takes Wraps Off Plans for 'Boardwalk Empire' and 'Treme'

HBO unveiled plans today for two of its top dramas, "Boardwalk Empire" and "Treme," announcing that both series will return for their third seasons in September, reports TVLine.com.

“Boardwalk Empire” will bow Sunday, Sept. 16, at 9 p.m., with most of the cast intact. Michael Pitt's Jimmy Darmody is out, as per the storyline. Bobby Cannavale ("Will & Grace") and Stephen Root ("NewsRadio") join the "Boardwalk" cast -- Cannavale as a regular and Root in a recurring role. Meanwhile, Paz de la Huerta slips from her role as a regular, presumably to recurring status.

"Treme" returns Sunday, Sept. 23, at 10 p.m. for a 10-episode run. The New Orleans-focused series has been off the air for more than a year.

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Major Marathons Planned Featuring Ernest Borgnine in Movies and on 'McHale's Navy'

Two major marathons are planned on TV featuring the acting skills of Ernest Borgnine, reports our friend Hal Boedecker at the Orlando Sentinel. Borgnine died Sunday, July 8, 2012, at age 95, as previously reported.

Boedecker writes: "The late, great Ernest Borgnine will receive a 24-hour marathon salute from TCM on July 26."

Also, on Sunday, July 15, Antenna TV, seen on many broadcast digital subchannels, will run a 21-hour marathon of "McHale's Navy," Boedecker writes. The Antenna marathon starts at 7 a.m (ET) and will air 42 episodes of the show, which starred Borgnine as Lt. Commander Quinton McHale. The popular sitcom originally ran on ABC from 1962 to 1966 and 138 epidodes were made.

TCM's marathon will begin at 6 a.m (ET) on July 26. The lineup includes the movie in which Borgnine won the Oscar for best actor, "Marty." That 1955 film also won the Academy Award as Best Picture.

Here's the complete schedule for the TCM salute to Borgnine:

6 a.m. – “The Catered Affair” (1956)

8 a.m. – “The Legend of Lylah Clare” (1968)

10:30 a.m. – “Pay or Die” (1960)

12:30 p.m. – “Torpedo Run” (1958)

2:30 p.m. – “Ice Station Zebra” (1968)

5:15 p.m. – “The Dirty Dozen” (1967)

8 p.m. – “Private Screenings: Ernest Borgnine” (2009)

9 p.m. – “Marty” (1955)

10:45 p.m. – “From Here to Eternity” (1953)

1 a.m. – “The Wild Bunch” (1969)

3:30 a.m. – “Bad Day at Black Rock” (1955)

5 a.m. – “Private Screenings: Ernest Borgnine”

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Diverse Approaches to Diversity: One Show's 'Pissing Match' Is Another Show's Opportunity

Diversity in television moved off the back burner recently with criticisms being fired at a number of showrunners over the whiteness of their casts. In particular, Lena Dunham of HBO’s “Girls” and Amy Sherman-Palladino of ABC Family’s “Bunheads” have come under fire, with “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Shonda Rhimes among the most vocal critics.

The discussion has not always been free of rancor. Sherman-Palladino referred to what she called a “pissing match” with Rhimes. “Girls,” meanwhile, appears poised to add a black cast member.

But for at least one show, diversity appears be viewed as an opportunity, not a problem. TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin breaks down how this cable reality show is embracing not just ethnic differences but other traditional barriers as well. Read her insightful analysis here.

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Startling Development: Coroner Changes Cause of Death on Natalie Wood's Death Certificate. No Longer 'Accidental'

In a startling development in the investigation of the 1981 death of actress Natalie Wood, the Los Angeles County Coroner has changed the cause of death on her death certificate, TMZ reports.

Originally the cause of death was determined to be "accidental." With the change the official cause is now listed as "undetermined," the story reports.

The Coroner's Office has not changed its finding that Wood died of drowning off the Southern California island of Catalina on Nov. 29, 1981.

However, TMZ reports, "Law enforcement sources tell TMZ the reason for the change is that there was bruising on Wood's body that is not NECESSARILY consistent with an accident ... but it doesn't prove foul play."

The TMZ story goes on to say that the Los Angeles County Coroner at the time, the famed Dr. Thomas Noguchi, had "jumped to the conclusion" that Wood's death was an accident when the evidence indicated all along that he should have said it was "undetermined."

What is not in question is that Wood and her husband, actor Robert Wagner, had been on their yacht anchored near Catalina when, on Nov. 29, 1981, Wood drowned.

This latest revelation is just another in a long series of twists in the case. The Los Angeles Times reports that in January 2012, just "two months after reopening the case, a top sheriff's official told The Times it was highly unlikely any new light would be shed on how the actress died. 'At this point, it is an accidental death,' said William McSweeney, the [Los Angeles County Sheriff's] chief of detectives. 'Nothing has been discovered to suggest changing that at this time.'

"At the time, McSweeney said detectives had conducted several interviews and reviewed the entire original file. They had also traveled to Hawaii to inspect the yacht Wood and the others were aboard."

But as noted in the latest Times story, published yesterday, July 8, 2012, "Nearly eight months after the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department reopened its investigation into the 1981 death of actress Natalie Wood, officials said the case remains an 'open and ongoing investigation.' Sheriff's Capt. Mike Parker released the statement on Friday, citing 'many calls from the news media' asking about the status of the investigation. He declined to release further details."

TMZ, in its story today, writes: "Our sources say the investigation is still officially 'active' but in fact it's been at a dead end and detectives have unearthed no new evidence to lead them to a conclusion there was foul play. We're told there is 'certainly no evidence' leading detectives to a suspect."

The TMZ story also reiterates something the Sheriff's Office has said since it reopened the case in 2011 -- that Robert Wagner is not a suspect in the reopened case. There has been some speculation that Wood and Wagner had some sort of altercation the night before her body was found in the ocean.

To read a much more detailed account about why, in November 2011,  the L.A. County Sheriff's Office reopened its investigation into the drowning of Natalie Wood, please click here.

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How Did NBC's 'Today' Do Against ABC's 'GMA' While the Ann Curry Drama Played Out?

With NBC’s “Today” show in the spotlight during the week of Ann Curry’s rocky departure from the show as co-host in late June, TVNewser reports that “Today” ended up in a tie in the ratings with its fierce rival, ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

The shows were "as close as it gets," the story reports, with each averaging 4.604 million total viewers for the week of June 25. Curry made her farewell “Today” appearance on Thursday, June 28.

While they tied in total viewers, NBC led in the key news demo of viewers 25-54, averaging 277,000 more viewers than "GMA,” the piece points out.

As previously reported, NBC News President Steve Capus revealed that Curry's failure on the morning show was due at least in part to her awkward handling of cooking segments. But “Today,” which has dominated the morning ratings for years, has been under increasing ratings pressure from “GMA,” its chief rival.

Third-place CBS, meanwhile, quietly posted the largest gains in the segment during the week. “CBS This Morning” was up 7% in total viewers and 12% in younger viewers for the week vs. year-ago numbers, the story reports. CBS, however, continues to trail both NBC and ABC by a wide margain in the segment.

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Report: Adam Lambert Being Talked About at Fox as Next Judge on 'American Idol'

The powers that be at "American Idol" "have been talking about Adam [Lambert] for over a month" as someone who could be the next judge on "American Idol," reports E! online,

E! reports that this information comes from an unnamed source, who adds that Lambert "personifies the show, and will be a popular choice right from the start. He knows what it's like to be on the receiving end of the judges' comments, he has a human touch, and they know they can't go wrong if they bring him on. He would be able to bring a unique perspective to the show. People love him."

The story also notes, "As E! News first told you, Jennifer Lopez has no plans to return for a third time at the judges' table. As for Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler, a source tells us that they are not necessarily going to be back either. 'Randy is great, but he's part of the old Idol,' the source said. 'They want to keep the soul of the show but have a new look, and for that reason he may well not be part of the new lineup.' A Tyler source confirms the Aerosmith frontman isn't sure of his future. 'All up in the air,' the source said. 'We shall see.'"

The E! story adds that "Fox will, multiple sources confirm, try to change Lopez's mind. 'I don't know if they can afford Jennifer, but they have let it be known that she has a guaranteed spot if she wants it,' one of the sources said. 'She appeals to everyone so the big bosses are in favor of keeping her on.'"

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'American Idol' Contestant Files $40 Million Lawsuit Against MTV

MTV Networks has been sued for libel by a singer who competed on "American Idol" during its second season, reports Reuters.

Corey Clark is suing for more than $40 million, claiming he was unfairly ridiculed by MTV News correspondent Jim Cantiello. The lawsuit claims Cantiello falsely attacked the singer as a liar and called for a boycott of his music, according to the story.

The article reports: "Clark was disqualified on March 31, 2003, after ‘Idol’ officials learned he had faced three misdemeanor charges, including one battery charge involving his sister. He was later acquitted of two of the three charges and pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, the lawsuit said.”

Representatives for Viacom, which was also named in the suit, and MTV couldn't be immediately reached for comment, the story notes.

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Why Oprah's Latest Strategic Move for OWN May Look Familiar to Her Longtime Viewers

Oprah Winfrey has made a strategic move in her effort to revitalize her ratings-challenged OWN cable network, and it’s a move that may resonate with longtime Winfrey fans, Advertising Age reports.

The move is rolling out “Oprah Builds a Network,” a documentary about her struggle to get OWN off the ground. Part one of the two-parter aired Sunday, with part two set for July 15 at 9 p.m. on OWN.

The program represents the kind of self-examination that’s consistent with Winfrey’s past pattern of turning her personal struggles into positives -- and in many cases, into ratings. “Oprah Winfrey has a long history of turning her personal struggles into ‘aha! moments’ that resonate with viewers,” the story reports.

The piece adds: “In Sunday night's episode, Ms. Winfrey said her celebrity status was both a great asset for the fledgling network and a great detriment because it raised expectations ‘beyond anything I was capable of doing on my own.’

“She also reiterated regret over remaining primarily focused on the final months of ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ when OWN was starting out. ‘I can honestly say I wasn't committed to the network because I was committed to the show,’ she said.”

Winfrey admits that the network wasn’t ready when it began airing on Jan. 1, 2011, adding that that decision to go ahead with the rollout was made to avoid disappointing her fans by delaying the debut.

Here’s a teaser for the documentary:

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'Happy Days' Cast Settles Lawsuit

Five cast members from the classic sitcom "Happy Days" have settled their royalties lawsuit with CBS, with each cast member paid about $65,000, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq.

The settlement was reached just 10 days before a trial had been scheduled to begin, the story notes. Both sides said they were satisfied.

The five cast members -- Anson Williams (Potsie), Marion Ross (Marion), Don Most (Ralph), Erin Moran (Joanie) and Patricia Bosley, on behalf of the estate of her late husband, Tom Bosley (Howard) -- will also receive some future royalties, the piece notes.

Two of the show's biggest stars, Ron Howard and Henry Winkler, who played Richie and Fonzie, respectively, weren't part of the lawsuit.

The case had originally sought millions for breach of contract, fraud and other charges, the story points out.

"By the time the suit was settled, the issues had been narrowed down to how much the actors were owed under their contract," the article notes.

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Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes Working Toward Settlement -- But There's One Key Obstacle

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are reportedly trying to work out a peaceful settlement of their divorce, but TMZ.com reports that one thing could be a deal breaker: their daughter, Suri.

TMZ reports: “We're told Tom has insisted that the settlement provide ‘meaningful, significant contact with his daughter.’ As one source put it, ‘She is the primary concern in his life.’"

Cruise’s involvement with the Church of Scientology has been reported as a point of contention for the couple, with Holmes said to be determined to raise their daughter outside the church. Some reports say Holmes is seeking sole custody of Suri.

The two sides are trying to hammer out an agreement encompassing custody, visitation arrangements and property, the story reports.

TMZ reports: “Lawyers for both sides have been meeting for hours a day. Sources say they even met for a full business day on Saturday. And, we're told, they are not just trying to hash out a temporary truce -- these are settlement negotiations for the entire divorce.”

However, the Suri situation could undermine those negotiations, the report cautions.

A Reuters report adds: “According to her attorneys, Holmes is seeking sole custody of their 6-year-old daughter, Suri, and much speculation has surfaced that Holmes wants to raise the young girl outside the Church of Scientology, of which Cruise is a key member. Cruise flew back to Los Angeles from a film shoot in Iceland early last week, and since then has remained publicly quiet about the divorce. His attorney, Los Angeles-based Bert Fields, has said Cruise wants to remain private.”

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Syfy Gives Renewal to New Series

Syfy has ordered a second season of a series that recently premiered its first season, The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

The cable channel picked up the competition series "Total Blackout" for season two, ordering 16 half-hour episodes, the story reports.

Hosted by Jaleel White, who played Urkel on "Family Matters," the show places contestants in dark rooms to compete in challenges that test their fears, the story says.

The show, from FremantleMedia North America, debuted in April to 1.33 million total viewers.

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ABC Orders New Competition Show

ABC has ordered eight episodes of a new show from Seven One International, Deadline.com reports. The show is the cooking competition “The Taste,” produced by Kinetic Content.

The show features celebrity chefs Nigella Lawson and Anthony Bourdain, the story reports. It will have four experts who each mentor a team consisting of professional and amateur chefs, the piece says.

Bourdain is also working on a CNN weekend show that will premiere in 2013, the story notes. He has been in a war of words with Food Network star Paula Deen, including calling her “the most dangerous person in America,” as previously reported.

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Ratings Drop for Latest Episode of Charlie Sheen's 'Anger Managment'

"Everybody expected the ratings for Charlie Sheen’s 'Anger Management' to go down in week 2," writes our good friend James Hibberd at EW's Inside TV. "The question was: By how much?"

The answer, Hibberd writes, is a 35% drop in the adults 18-49 demo and a 38% drop in total viewers.

The new show -- on cabler FX -- drew "5.5 million and 5.7 million viewers, respectively, for its back-to-back debut episodes," HIbberd notes. The next episode, on Thursday, July 5, 2012, delivered 3.4 million total viewers and 1.7 million adults 18-49.

As previously reported, the sitcom's premiere was the most-watched prime-time scripted comedy series debut in cable history -- excluding children’s programming -- in adults 18-49 and in total viewers.

Hibberd adds: "[I]f 'Anger Management‘s' 10-episode season hits a certain ratings threshold, FX will automatically order a whopping 90 more episodes. [Last Thursday night's show] is the first episode that will count toward that average. Critics were mixed to negative about 'Anger Management,' which follows Sheen playing a therapist struggling to overcome his own issues."

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Hulu Chief Turns Down Yahoo Job

Yahoo!, which has been searching for a new chief executive, has been turned down by Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar, reports the New York Post.

Kilar took himself out of the race, with a Hulu spokeswoman saying, "He has graciously declined to be considered," according to the story.

Nevertheless, it's possible the statement was "an attempt to deflect media attention rather than a real move by Kilar to take himself out of the running," the story points out.

KIlar's contract at Hulu ended months ago, although the spokeswoman declined to comment on whether he's working under contract for the online video site. His relationships with Hulu's owners -- Disney, Comcast and News Corp. -- are reportedly "far from warm and fuzzy," according to the piece.

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A New Arrival Joins the Kardashian Klan

The Kardashians added a new family member over the weekend, The Huffington Post reports. Kourtney Kardashian and her boyfriend Scott Disick welcomed a baby daughter.

Penelope Scotland Disick was born early Sunday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, the story reports. The baby weighed in at 7 pounds, 14 ounces.

Kardashian, one of the stars of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” and Disick already have a 2-year-old son, Mason. Kardashian and the new baby were “resting comfortably,” the story reports.

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Ernest Borgnine, Star of 'McHale's Navy,' Oscar Winner for 'Marty,' Dead at 95

Actor Ernest Borgnine, an Oscar winner remembered for his run on the 1960s ABC sitcom “McHale’s Navy,” has died, the Los Angeles Times reports. His longtime spokesman confirmed that Borgnine, 95, died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles with his family at his side, the story reports.

The article reports: “As the cruel, vicious Sgt. Fatso Judson in 1953's ‘From Here to Eternity,’ the sweet, lonely butcher in 1955's ‘Marty’ and the carefree con artist in the 1962-66 ABC comedy series ‘McHale's Navy,’ Borgnine was among the most recognizable faces on both the big and small screens.”

Borgnine, who served in the Navy during World War II, made his film debut in the 1951 feature "Whistle at Eaton Falls." He won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for “Marty.” He received three Emmy nominations, for “McHale’s Navy” in 1963, for a supporting role on the “Hallmark Hall of Fame” production “All Quiet on the Western Front” in 1980 and for a guest appearance on “ER” in 2009. He was 92 when he received the nod for “ER.”

His other feature film performances included "Bad Day at Black Rock," "The Dirty Dozen," "The Wild Bunch" and "The Poseidon Adventure."

In a 2008 interview with the Times, Borgnine commented on his longevity, saying: "I do an awful lot of reading. It keeps me busy. I try to keep my mind going always. That is the thing that counts. You can have your body not feeling so good, but if your mind is working you got it made. That is the way I figured it out."

In his personal life Borgnine was known for having one of the shortest show business marriages, to Ethel Merman. They were married for one month in 1964, one of Borgnine’s five marriages.

In a 2007 interview with the Associated Press, Borgnine noted that his fifth marriage had lasted 34 years. "That's longer than the total of my four other marriages," he quipped.

Ernest-Borgnine.jpgErnest Borgnine

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Jennifer Lopez Developing Drama Series

“American Idol” judge and pop singing star Jennifer Lopez is working on something else entirely, Deadline.com reports. Her latest project is a drama series that she has in development for ABC Family.

The story reports: “The so far untitled series is about a lesbian couple who suddenly have their already child-heavy homehold turned upside down when a wayward teenage girl moves in. One of the mothers is a cop, the other is a private school teacher. They have one biological son and adopted teen twins, one a boy, the other a girl.”

Lopez, who will executive produce with her Nuyorican Productions partner Simon Fields, reportedly also intends to appear in a guest role on the show. The cable net has the project on a fast track, the story reports.

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NBC News Boss Tells Where Ann Curry Went Wrong on 'Today'

Now that she's gone from "Today," NBC News President Steve Capus has revealed that Ann Curry's failure on the morning show included her inability to handle cooking segments, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Capus said Curry was weak in the food segments as well as celebrity interviews, the story reports.

“I think it was not where her real passion was,” Capus told THR. “In her heart of hearts, I think she would admit that. I think her real passion is built around reporting on international stories. It’s tough to convey a sincere interest in something if you don’t possess it.”

Capus also indicated that the advent of hi-def programming played a role. “We live in an HD world,” he said. “Dan Rather used to say the camera never blinks. Well, this is an HD world now, and the camera picks up everything. And you could tell with her -- you can tell with any anchor, whether they’re into it or not. And I think we’ve now come up with a role that will play to her strengths.”

Curry will contribute to NBC News programs as an international correspondent and anchor.

The story notes: “Asked why Curry did not work out as a morning TV host, Capus allowed that her weakness was convincingly presiding over morning TV staples such as cooking segments and celebrity interviews that make up a big chunk of the job.”

Said Capus: “We gave her a year to prove herself, and ultimately we came to the conclusion that she had played at the highest level she could. When you’re in the major leagues of our profession, you’ve got to continue to be at peak performance in order to stay there.”

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NBC Drama Sinks to Historic Low

On a night when a heavy dose of repeat programming added up to some low ratings, it was a fresh episode of an NBC drama that stood out Thursday night -- and not in a good way. NBC’s supernatural medical drama “Saving Hope” sank to a shocking 0.4 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, an all-time low for the series, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

That number was down three-tenths of a ratings point from last week’s already low 0.7. Nothing else on NBC did much better, although “Rock Center” was up one-tenth from a week ago to a 0.9. Repeats of “The Office” and “Parks & Recreation” both pulled 0.6 averages, leaving NBC a distant fifth for prime time.

CBS’s all-repeat lineup won the night, with the network averaging a 1.7 in adults 18-49 for prime time, ahead of Fox (1.4), Univision (1.4), ABC (1.3) and NBC (0.6). CBS also claimed the top spot in total viewers, averaging 7.8 million to ABC’s 5.5 million, Univision’s 3.5 million, Fox’s 3.4 million and NBC’s 2.4 million.

ABC’s live “Duets” managed only a 1.0 in viewers 18-49, according to Nielsen overnights, with some adjustments still to come. ABC pulled a 1.7 for “Wipeout” and a 1.3 for “Rookie Blue” -- both fresh episodes.

“The Choice” led the way on Fox with a 1.6 in 18-49, up four-tenths from last week, while “Take Me Out” achieved a 1.3 -- up three-tenths from a week ago and a series high.

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Premiere Plans Unveiled for New 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Series

The new TV series incarnation of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" is set to premiere on Nickelodeon on Saturday, Sept. 19, at 11 a.m. with two back-to-back episodes, reports Entertainment Weekly.

The network was expected to make the premiere date official on Saturday.

Nickelodeon has 26 new episodes on tap about the four martial arts-expert turtles who rise from the sewers: Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello.

According to publicity from the network, this version of the "Turtles" is “funnier and with more Ninjutsu than ever before; the show will explore the companionship of four teenage brothers learning to rely on themselves and one another as they unravel the mystery of their existence and grow to become the heroes in a half-shell that they are destined to be.”

They’ll be voiced by Jason Biggs, Sean Astin, Greg Cipes and Rob Paulsen. Paulsen, who was the voice of Raphael in the 1980s and 1990s animated series, will be Donatello this time around.

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Reality Star's Talk Show Poised for Major Pickup

Following a summer test run on six Fox stations, including in New York and Los Angeles, a daytime talk show built around Bravo reality star Bethenny Frankel is on the verge of getting a major pickup, TVNewsCheck.com reports.

“Bethenny,” from Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, performed well in its test run and is poised to be picked up by Fox Television Stations for a fall 2013 launch, the story reports. A Fox pickup would likely be a springboard to broader syndication for the show.

Frankel currently stars in Bravo’s "Bethenny Ever After."

Produced by Ellen DeGeneres and the "Ellen" executive producers for Warner Bros., "Bethenny" has been taping in "Ellen's" Burbank studio. It's expected that with the pickup, "Bethenny" will relocate to New York and will broadcast from studio space there.

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Jerry Seinfeld Unveils Launch Date and Teaser for His New Series -- The Catch Is It Won't Be on TV

A teaser video has surfaced for a new series featuring Jerry Seinfeld, and the comedian announced that he will debut the show July 19, the New York Post reports.

The series, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” will air on the Web. The program is presented by Sony Pictures Entertainment's digital network Crackle.

Seinfeld will be featured interviewing comedian friends, the piece notes. The teaser features Seinfeld driving vintage cars with Larry David, Brian Regan, Michael Richards, Alec Baldwin and others. Here it is ...

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Andy Griffith's Cause of Death Revealed

Actor Andy Griffith, the beloved star of the television programs “Matlock” and "The Andy Griffith Show," died of a heart attack, reports Reuters, citing his death certificate.

The certificate said Griffith had dealt with hypertension, coronary artery disease and hyperlipidemia, a condition related to high cholesterol, for years, according to the story.

Griffith died Tuesday at 86 at his North Carolina home and was buried in a family cemetery, the article adds.

As previously reported, Griffith was buried less than five hours after he died, according to the wishes of his family.

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Figuring Out Aaron Sorkin and HBO's 'Newsroom.' Plus, If You Miss Jane Fonda's Debut in 'Newsroom' on Sunday, You'll Likely Be Missing an Emmy-Winning Performance

Where Aaron Sorkin soars, and where he dives -- TVWeek Open Mic Blogger Chuck Ross finally thinks he's got Sorkin figured out. Plus an exceptional performance on this Sunday's "Newsroom" that Ross thinks will nab Jane Fonda an Emmy -- read it all if you click here.

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Report: HBO Kills Roger Ailes Project

HBO has killed its untitled project focusing on Fox News boss Roger Ailes, which was slated to be executive produced by Fox News rivals at MSNBC, reports Nikki Finke at Deadline.com.

HBO cited "our company’s CNN affiliation" in revealing the decision to kill the project, the story reports.

We reported yesterday that HBO had what was being described as a “secret deal” for the project based on the Fox News president, which ws to be executive produced by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, co-hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Both HBO and CNN are owned by Time Warner. Finke writes that she received an email from HBO Films President Len Amato, who explained that because of HBO's connection with CNN, "the film could never be seen as objective.”

HBO had been trying to keep the project quiet, according to the story, and none of the dealmakers had been told this morning that the film isn't going forward.

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Comcast Selling A&E Stake for $2.8 Billion -- What's Behind the Sudden Surge in Value?

Comcast is selling NBCUniversal's 15% stake in A&E Television Networks for $2.8 billion, or 40% more than the value Comcast assigned to the stake just two months ago, reports the New York Post.

The increase in value appears to be due to History's "Hatfields & McCoys," the story notes. The show drew an average of 14 million viewers during its May 28-30 run, which in turn could have boosted the value of A&E Television Networks, the story says.

Fellow A&E Television Networks owners Disney-ABC and Hearst Corp. are buying Comcast's stake and splitting it, the piece notes. While the price has been agreed to, other details, most likely retransmission fees, are still being negotiated, according to the article. Hearst owns NBC-affiliated stations.

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Eliot Spitzer Takes On Another TV Job

Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of New York, is adding another television news job to his workload, along with his position as a host on Current TV, reports TVNewser.com.

Spitzer will join NY1's "Inside City Hall" as a regular panelist, the story notes. NY1 is a local cable news channel that's owned by Time Warner Cable and targeted toward New Yorkers.

Spitzer will be joining the show's "Wise Guys," who include former New York Mayor Ed Koch and Sen. Alfonse D'Amato.

"'Inside City Hall' may not have the reach of CNN or even Current TV, but it carries clout among those in New York’s inner political circles," the story reports. Spitzer, who is the former co-host of "Parker Spitzer" and "In the Arena" on CNN, currently hosts "Viewpoint" on Current TV.

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Cost of Pay TV Rises in 2012 -- Are Consumers Cutting the Cord?

U.S. households are paying more than ever on multichannel video service such as cable and satellite television, according to a recent survey, B&C reports. But the survey finds no evidence of widespread "cord cutting."

The average monthly bill for pay-TV services has jumped 7.2% from a year ago to $78.63, the story notes. From 2010 to 2011, the average monthly bill for subscription TV rose 3%, to $73.35 per month, the piece adds.

Despite the rate increases, 87% of U.S. homes subscribe to some type of multichannel video service, unchanged from 2011 and 2010, the survey from Leichtman Research Group found.

Higher-income households are more likely to subscribe to pay-TV services, with 94% of homes with incomes over $75,000 subscribing to such a service, compared with only 88% of homes with incomes between $30,000 and $75,000. The figure for homes with incomes under $30,000 is 73%.

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Veteran TV Producer Behind 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.' Dies at 99

The co-creator of NBC’s 1960s spy series "The Man From U.N.C.L.E," who also executive produced “Dr. Kildare” and was behind a number of other series and TV movies, has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Norman Felton was 99.

Felton, a London native, created the spy drama "The Man From U.N.C.L.E" with Sam Rolfe, when Felton was president and CEO of MGM Television-based Arena Productions, the story notes. The series, which starred Robert Vaughn, ran from 1964-1968, and was created with input from novelist Ian Fleming, who created James Bond.

Felton also executive produced all 190 episodes of NBC's seminal medical drama "Dr. Kildare," which starred Richard Chamberlain and ran from 1961-1966.

In the 1950s, Felton wrote and directed for the series “Robert Montgomery Presents.”

“Felton also produced ‘Hawkins,’ a 1973 legal drama starring Jimmy Stewart, and other series including ‘Studio One in Hollywood,’ ‘Pursuit,’ ‘The Eleventh Hour,’ ‘The Lieutenant’ (also starring Vaughn), ‘Strange Report’ and ‘Executive Suite,’” the story reports.

Felton was also behind the 1971 Sally Field TV movie “Marriage: Year One” and the 1975 biopic “Babe,” with Susan Clark portraying famed athlete Babe Didrikson Zaharias.

norman-felton.jpgNorman Felton

Here's an interview clip with Felton offering some background on "The Man From "U.N.C.L.E.":

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Facebook Trying to Woo Back a Major Marketer

Facebook is reportedly in negotiations with a major marketer in an effort to convince it to resume advertising on the social network, according to Bloomberg. The marketer is General Motors.

On the eve of Facebook's initial public offering in May, the automaker said it would stop buying ads on the network. It spent $10 million on Facebook last year, just a fraction of GM’s $1.8 billion in ad spending during 2011, the piece notes.

According to Bloomberg, GM would consider returning to Facebook if there is a "proper" return on the investment.

GM also earlier this year cut its spending on the Super Bowl, with Chief Marketing Officer Joel Ewanick saying the company couldn't justify the expense.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg has been talking with GM Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson, while Facebook Vice President of Global Marketing Solutions Carolyn Everson has met with Ewanick, the story notes.

A spokeswoman for Facebook declined to comment, while a GM spokesperson couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

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ABC's 'Once Upon a Time' Casts Sleeping Beauty, Mulan

ABC's fairy-tale drama "Once Upon a Time" has cast two major roles, EW.com’s Inside TV reports.

The series cast "The Tudors" actress Sarah Bolger as Sleeping Beauty, a new character who will have a recurring role in the show's second season, the website reports.

The show has also cast "Hangover 2" actress Jamie Chung as the Chinese warrior Mulan, according to a separate EW.com story.

Mulan is described as having suffered past betrayals, but as being a loyal friend. The character has been trained in weaponry, tracking and riding, the story notes. Mulan will also be a recurring role in the second season.

sarah-bolger.jpgSarah Bolger

jamie-chung.jpgJamie Chung

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Syfy Series Books Appearances by 'Lord of the Rings' Actor, 'NCIS' Actress and Others

A "Lord of the Rings" actor and an "NCIS" actress are among the guest stars slated for the second season of Syfy's "Alphas," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Sean Astin of "Lord of the Rings" and Lauren Holly of "NCIS" are part of an impressive list of actors lined up to appear on the show. Other guest stars who are on tap include Steve Byers of "Immortals," C. Thomas Howell of "Southland," Kandyse McClure of "Battlestar Galactica" and Noah Reid of "Rookie Blue," the story notes.

Astin will play an Alpha with an "absorptive brain," which means he can assume the memories of anyone close to him, the piece notes. Holly will play Sen. Charlotte Burton, who has ties to a member of the Alphas team.

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Yahoo Narrows Its List of Candidates to Take Over as CEO

Yahoo is reportedly focusing on a short list of candidates to take over the struggling Internet company, with Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar among the names near the top of the list of CEO candidates, reports the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog.

Another leading contender for the job is Ross Levinsohn, who is serving as Yahoo's interim CEO, the story notes.

Kilar, a former Amazon.com executive, has built Hulu into one of the top online video sites in the U.S., with almost 26 million viewers, the story notes.

Levinsohn joined Yahoo in 2010, and became interim CEO after the company's former chief, Scott Thompson, stepped down in May amid questions about the accuracy of his resume.

Kilar and Levinsohn couldn't be reached for comment, the story adds.

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NBC Blasts Report That It's Ready to Dump 'Meet the Press' Host -- and Takes a Shot at CBS Too

NBC is lashing out at a report that says the network is considering dumping the host of its Sunday morning newsmakers show “Meet the Press,” the New York Daily News reports.

The report Monday by the iPad news service The Daily says host David Gregory’s job is in jeopardy because the show -- which has been the perennial ratings leader in its segment -- has been losing to CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “Meet the Press” reportedly fell short of the numbers for the CBS show almost half the time during the past year.

“The story quotes an insider saying ‘the show’s in trouble, and nobody likes Gregory. He has no friends in the division. The only reason he’s still there is they don’t have an obvious replacement,’” the New York Daily News reports.

The Daily News adds: “A quote from another insider references the late Tim Russert, whom Gregory succeeded as ‘Meet the Press’ host in 2008. ‘That sound you hear is Tim Russert spinning in his grave. The commanding lead he built over so many years has been squandered.’”

NBC News issued a statement Tuesday in response to the report, saying, “The rumors recklessly reported by The Daily are categorically untrue.”

NBC News took the opportunity to also take a shot at CBS and “Face the Nation,” saying: “CBS is engaged in ratings gimmickry.”

NBC said “Face the Nation” has been “booking, producing and promoting a one-hour broadcast for several months now, but they continue to only report ratings data for the first half hour.”

The Daily News notes: “The second half-hour of ‘Face the Nation’ is broadcast right after the first on only 65% of CBS affiliates, and therefore isn’t rated.”

CBS News responded with a statement of its own, saying: “Bob [Schieffer] is the dean of Sunday show hosts, and we’re very pleased that his insightful approach is resonating with so many viewers and newsmakers.”

david-gregory.jpgDavid Gregory

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Moves and Countermoves in CBS-ABC Reality War -- ABC Apparently Has Sights Set on New CBS Show

The reality show tussle between CBS and ABC appears to be shifting from the legal dispute over “Big Brother” and “The Glass House,” as previously reported, to a new front, with ABC targeting a series CBS is trying to launch.

ABC this week unveiled plans to move "The Bachelorette" finale and "After the Rose" live broadcast from its usual Monday night spot to Sunday, July 22, where it would have gone head-to-head with the premiere of CBS's new dating show "3." The Washington Post reports that CBS apparently took the threat seriously, moving the “3” premiere to a week later -- to Sunday, July 29.

"3" is based on a successful Israeli television format. CBS tinkered with the Israeli version, making it more like "The Bachelorette," with three ladies dating the same three eligible men.

The story reports that CBS’s upcoming show looked promising enough to prompt ABC to take action. “This thing had monster hit written all over it,” the story says. “Until ABC began scheming to assassinate it.”

The report notes: “Two months after CBS announced its ‘3’ pick-up, ABC announced it had picked up a ‘Big Brother’-esque ‘The Glass House,’ in which 14 narcissists shack up in a totally wired house, their every move controlled by viewers, while competing to win a quarter of a million dollars.

“CBS cried foul and sued ABC, claiming the show is in violation of its ‘Big Brother’ copyright. In its suit, CBS noted ‘The Glass House’ employs many former ‘Big Brothers’ staffers who, CBS claimed, had disclosed trade secrets and violated the non-disclosure agreement they had signed while working on ‘BB.’”

CBS was unsuccessful in a legal challenge seeking a restraining order to prevent ABC from airing “Glass House.” CBS seemed to take it in stride, issuing a joke press release about a new show, “Dancing on the Stars,” as previously reported.

“Glass House,” meanwhile, has been airing to less than stellar ratings on ABC. CBS is clearly trying to ensure it fares better with “3.”

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'SNL' Star Has the Inside Track to Replace Regis Philbin

Disney TV, ABC and "Live with Kelly!" executive producer Michael Gelman are expected to make a decision by September on a permanent co-host for Kelly Ripa on the morning show, and ShowBiz411.com reports that the likely replacement for Regis Philbin will be Seth Meyers.

The "Saturday Night Live" star has a week scheduled as a fill-in on the show this month, which is seen as a test of his audience appeal and his chemistry with Ripa. Former New York Giant Michael Strahan and singer Josh Groban are also considered to be in the mix, with Meyers the frontrunner.

Since Philbin's exit, a series of guest hosts have been working with Ripa.

Ripa reportedly would love to get Anderson Cooper as Regis' replacement, but since he has his own talk show and CNN duties, that's considered unlikely.

Meyers, who is currently “SNL’s” head writer along with hosting its “Weekend Update” segment, begins his tryout on “Live” Monday, July 9. He joined “SNL” in 2001.

seth-meyers.jpgSeth Meyers

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Dr. Drew Faces Allegations in Federal Drug Case

Television therapist Dr. Drew Pinsky, who has hosted “Sober House” and “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew,” among other shows, is facing inquires from the U.S. government in connection with its case against drug maker GlaxoSmithKline, the New York Daily News reports.

“The media star doctor is facing allegations that he accepted $275,000 to talk up the drug Wellbutrin SR while hosting his radio and television show ‘Loveline,’” the story reports.

GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor criminal charges related to healthcare fraud in the case, and has agreed to pay a $3 billion penalty, the story reports. The case is the largest of its kind in U.S. history, the report adds.

“Pinsky reportedly accepted the six-figure sum over the course of two months in 1999 for extolling the virtues of the antidepressant ‘in settings where it did not appear that [he] was speaking for GSK,’ according to the Justice Department,” the story reports.

Pinsky reportedly claimed that Wellbutrin SR could “increase libido” in depressed patients.

Via his publicist, Pinsky sent an email denying that he had done anything wrong. The email states: "In the late '90s I was hired to participate in a 2-year initiative discussing intimacy and depression which was funded by an educational grant by Glaxo Wellcome. Services for the non branded campaign included town hall meetings, writings and multi media activities in conjunction with the patient advocacy group the National Depressive and Manic Depressive Association (NDMDA). My comments were consistent with my clinical experience."

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How Will Claire Danes' Real-Life Pregnancy Play Out on 'Homeland'?

Actress Claire Danes and husband Hugh Dancy are expecting their first child, reports People magazine. The question now becomes how Danes’ pregnancy will impact production of Showtime's "Homeland."

The short answer is it won’t. Fox 21, which produces the show, did not comment officially on Danes’ pregnancy, but a company spokesperson said that Danes' pregnancy would have no impact on production of the show’s second season.

The season is set to premiere Sept. 30.

Danes won a Golden Globe earlier this year for her portrayal of Carrie Mathison on “Homeland.” She has also won Globes for two other TV gigs -- on “My So-Called Life,” in 1995, and “Temple Grandin,” in 2011. HBO’s “Temple Grandin” also earned Danes an Emmy Award.

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FBI Explains Why Thousands Will Likely Lose Internet Services on Monday. You Can Check Now to See Whether Your Computer Is OK

"Tens of thousands of Americans could be in jeopardy of losing their Internet service Monday, July 9, 2012, due to a malware virus that was spread over a year ago," reports washington.cbslocal.com, along with a number of other media outlets, including an Associated Press story on the website of USA Today.

Here's what's going on, according to the CBS Local article. Some international hackers ran a scam more than 12 months ago that was "designed to take over more than half a million infected computers worldwide. The alarming realization by the FBI came when the agency discovered that if they turned off the servers controlling the infected computers, all the victims would lose Internet service altogether."

So, according to the CBS Local article, "The FBI employed a private company to install two clean Internet servers to overtake the infected servers so people will not suddenly lose their Internet connections, but that temporary system will be shut down at 12:01 a.m. EST on Monday, July 9, 2012."

The CBS Local story concludes, "The FBI says that most victims don’t even know their computers are infected but the software may have already slowed their web surfing ability and disabled antivirus software."

To see whether your computer is infected, visit the website set up by the FBI here.

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Longtime CBS Correspondent Reveals He Has Parkinson's

A longtime CBS correspondent has revealed he has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, reports TVNewser.com.

Bill Geist, appearing on “CBS Sunday Morning,” said: “I’ve had it for years, told no one, not even my kids. I didn’t want them to worry, didn’t want to be seen as ‘the sick guy.’ Today, I’m telling you."

Geist appeared with his son Willie Geist, who is substituting for Matt Lauer this week on NBC's "Today" show, according to a separate TVNewser.com story.

“That was my most proud day with my dad,” Willie Geist said on “Today.” “That was not easy for him because I know what he’s gone through over the years to deal with it. So, very proud and more proud that he’s going to now help people.”

bill-geist.jpgBill Geist

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FX Gets Rights to CBS Hit for 'Bargain Basement' Price

FX has secured the off-network rights to a CBS comedy hit for what is being called a “bargain basement” price, Deadline.com reports.

The show is Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution’s "Mike & Molly," with the company selling cable rights for syndication to FX for under $1 million an episode, according to insiders. Sources indicated the figure may be as low as $750,000 per episode.

The series is set to premiere on FX in September 2014.

FX reportedly wasn’t pursuing rights to the sitcom as recently as last week, and it was expected to go to TBS. The story quotes an executive saying: “We were not in the bidding and had no intention to be, based on how crazy-high pricing on sitcoms has been lately.”

FX obtained exclusive cable rights and the freedom to air the show in any daypart.

“’Mike & Molly’ now joins fellow comedies ‘Two and a Half Men’ and ‘How I Met Your Mother’ on the FX roster,” the report notes. “So what happened? The bargain basement price.”

Said one executive quoted in the story: ”We came into the bidding at the very end of last week when we got a sense of where the marketplace was. We felt that this was a very good show that was going to go for a reasonable price and could not resist the value proposition.”

The report adds: “Indeed, the price for ‘Mike & Molly’ looked like pennies compared to the record-setting off-network sale of fellow Warner Bros. comedy series ‘Two Broke Girls’‘ reported $1.7M an episode license fee.”

“Two weeks ago, Warner Bros. TV took both shows out,” the report says. “But because there was stronger interest in freshman ‘Two Broke Girls,’ the studio opted to focus on it first. That sparked a bidding war won by TBS. At the same time, Warner Bros. also sold both sitcoms in broadcast syndication to the CBS stations. ‘Mike & Molly‘s’ cable sale was next. But it didn’t create the bidding frenzy that ‘Two Broke Girls’ triggered. Ergo the more moderate license fee.”

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Andy Griffith Buried Only Hours After Death

Television icon Andy Griffith was buried less than five hours after the beloved "Matlock" star died, reports CNN.

Griffith's body was lowered into a grave on Roanoke Island in North Carolina at about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, the story says. Griffith had passed away at 7 a.m. at his home on the island.

"It had been planned for some time," a funeral spokesperson said. "This was the wish of his family." The representative declined to reveal where on the island Griffith was buried.

The speed of his burial struck some as unusual, the story notes.

"It's not very common," said North Carolina's Funeral Directors Association executive director Larry F. Stegall. "I don't recall having heard of it, and I've been here 32 years."

As previously reported, Griffith, one of television's most beloved actors, died at 86. He played Sheriff Andy Taylor on the CBS sitcom “The Andy Griffith Show” from 1960-1968.

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Report: HBO Has Secret Deal for Show About Fox News Boss Roger Ailes

HBO has struck what is being called "a secret deal" for an untitled project focusing on Fox News President Roger Ailes, Deadline.com reports.

The project is based on a manuscript by Gabriel Sherman, who has written two cover stories for New York magazine about Ailes and Fox News, according to the story.

Sherman signed a contract with Random House last year for a book that was tentatively titled “The Loudest Voice in the Room: An Inside Account of the Rise of Fox News," although the project doesn't now have a formal title.

The HBO project will be executive produced by two of Ailes’ competitors: co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC's "Morning Joe,” according to the article.

"None of this has been announced yet because sources tell me Sherman is still researching the book and plans to finish writing it by the end of the summer for a 2013 publishing date," writes Deadline’s Nikki Finke.

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Computer Glitch Blamed as San Diego Sets Off All of Its Fireworks at Once -- Here's the Video

A computer glitch was blamed for causing San Diego’s Fourth of July fireworks show to go off all at once, MSNBC reports. The result was a pretty spectacular show for the thousands of spectators -- including many who camped out -- but the show only lasted about 15 seconds.

The event, billed as the “Big Bay Boom,” took place on the city’s Glorietta Bay.

“About 5 minutes before the show was supposed to start, a sudden burst of fireworks shot into the air near the bay,” the story reports. “Throughout downtown San Diego, a large rumble could be felt just before 9 p.m. on Wednesday night.”

An announcement was made at about 9:20 p.m. telling spectators to go home and saying the fireworks show had been canceled.

The story reports: “Hours after the fireworks malfunction, August Santore, co-owner of Garden State Fireworks, told San Diego morning television stations, ‘We apologize to all the residents and all the people who missed their fireworks.’”

Authorities from the Port District attributed the problem to a “technical difficulty,” the report notes.

Here’s a video clip of the incident:

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Former Oakland Raider and Miller Lite Pitchman Ben Davidson Dies

Ben Davidson, who was a feared defenseman for the Oakland Raiders during his NFL playing days and later became a TV pitchman for Miller Lite beer, has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 72.

Davidson died Monday night from prostate cancer, his former Raiders coach John Madden said.

Davidson appeared in 27 commercials for Miller Lite beer, with one 1982 spot featuring him menacingly reminding comedian Rodney Dangerfield during a bowling tournament, "All we need is one pin, Rodney." (See the video below.)

He also had roles on TV shows including the 1970s series "Ball Four" and "Code R," and made a series of guest appearances on shows including "Happy Days" and "Fantasy Island."

ben-davidson.jpgBen Davidson

Here’s that 1982 Miller Lite commercial featuring Davidson along with Rodney Dangerfield and a number of sports stars:

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Actor From 'Kick-Ass' Poised to Be a Part of NBC's 'Office' Mini-Reboot

NBC’s “The Office” is readying for what is being described as a mini-reboot set for this fall, when changes are due both in front of and behind the cameras. TVLine.com reports that part of that reboot may include the addition of "Kick-Ass" actor Clark Duke to the cast for season nine.

Not much is known about his character, except that, unsurprisingly, he would work at Dunder Mifflin, the story says. TVLine reports that Duke is in talks to join the show.

"The Office" is due for significant changes including the departures of Mindy Kaling and showrunner Paul Lieberstein, along with the exit of B.J. Novak, the story notes. Rainn Wilson’s spinoff "The Farm" is also in the works, as previously reported, although it is unclear how that will play out in terms of his “Office” role.

clark-duke.jpgClark Duke

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Netflix CEO Says Viewership Reached a Milestone in June

Netflix Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings announced a milestone in Netflix viewing, writing on his Facebook page that the company’s customers watched a record 1 billion hours of movies and TV shows online during June, Bloomberg reports.

In January, Netflix had said that online viewing during the final three months of 2011 equaled more than 2 billion hours. A spokesman for Netflix declined to provide the previous record.

New content will drive viewing even higher, Hastings wrote on his Facebook page. “When ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Arrested Development’ debut, we’ll blow these records away,” Hastings wrote.

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NBC Set to Unveil New Kids' Block This Week; CW Kids' Block Also in the Works

NBC has announced plans for a new three-hour children's programming block, the New York Daily News reports. The block, consisting of six new shows aimed at preschoolers, premieres this Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, Saban Brands, the company behind "The Power Rangers," announced separately that it will provide programming for the CW’s five-hour Saturday morning kids’ television block.

NBC's new shows will debut in the new "NBC Kids" three-hour block, which will air from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The new programming has been created with Sprout, the first 24-hour network for children 2 to 5 years old and their families.

One of the new shows is "Noodle and Doodle," which stars a puppet who likes to help in the kitchen and a virtual friend, with the pair making arts and crafts projects and healthy recipes. The show will air at 10 a.m.

Other programs in the NBC block include "Justin Time," about a young boy who imagines traveling through world history, and "The Wiggles," based on the popular children's music group of the same name, the story notes.

The CW block will be anchored by key franchises such as “Power Rangers” and “Yu-Gi-Oh!,” with other action/adventure and comedy shows to be announced soon, Saban said. The 7 a.m.-noon block is set to launch in fall 2012.

"Saban Brands is back in the kids' television business in a BIG way!" said Elie Dekel, president of Saban Brands. "The broadcasting block represents a unique opportunity for us to be the premier destination for action/adventure and comedy on Saturday mornings, while delivering what kids want online and on mobile 24/7/365."

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Versatile British Actor Eric Sykes Dead at 89 -- He Had His Own TV Show in the 1960s and Later Appeared in 'Harry Potter' Film

Eric Sykes, a British comedian who starred in television, on stage and on film, has died, reports Reuters. He was 89.

Sykes was a regular collaborator on the 1950s radio comedy show "The Goon Show" and starred in his own TV series "Sykes and A …" in the 1960s, the story says. In 2005 he played Frank Bryce in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”

His early feature film work included roles in "Heavens Above!" in 1963 and "The Spy With a Cold Nose" in 1966. In the late 1960s, he starred with "The Goon Show" co-creator Spike Milligan in a sitcom called "Curry and Chips," which was taken off the air after only six episodes amid criticisms of racism, the story adds.

The show was defended by its co-creator, Johnny Speight, as designed to highlight discrimination in society, the piece notes.

"He is widely credited with introducing an offbeat tone to mainstream British comedy, and recalls a gentler age of humor that has been overshadowed by more aggressive, controversial performers," the article points out.

Sykes' success was remarkable because he had been almost totally deaf since he was in his early 30s and blind from the early 1990s, the story adds.

eric-sykes.jpgEric Sykes

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Top Executive Named to Run BBC

An executive has been appointed from within the ranks of the BBC to take over running the company, The New York Times reports.

The BBC named George Entwistle, the head of its television operations, to take over as director general this fall, the story reports.

Entwistle, who is succeeding Mark Thompson, joined the BBC in 1989 as a broadcast journalism trainee. Appointing an insider rather than a well-known outsider could help the BBC as it works on negotiating the renewal of its royal charter, which will expire in 2017, and on the license fee on homes with TV sets, which provides the bulk of the BBC's revenue, the piece points out.

Entwistle was chosen from among several other candidates, including Ed Richards, chief executive of Ofcom, the British media regulator, and Caroline Thomson, the BBC chief operating officer, the story says.

His background in delivering popular TV programs was pointed to as a reason for his appointment.

“His experience of making and delivering great programs that audiences love -- built up through many years of working for the corporation -- will prove invaluable as he and his team work to ensure the BBC remains the greatest broadcaster in the world,” said the BBC Trust Chairman Chris Patten.

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TV Son Ron Howard and Other Celebrities React to Death of Andy Griffith; Also, Some Favorite Andy Video Clips

Film director Ron Howard, who played Andy Griffith’s son Opie on the iconic 1960s sitcom “The Andy Griffith Show,” is among the celebrities who are paying tribute to the television legend after learning of his death this morning, WTVA reports.

Griffith died at 86 at his home in North Carolina, as we reported earlier.

Howard was among the first of Griffith’s colleagues to comment publicly on his death, WTVA reported. Howard said in a tweet: "Andy Griffith His pursuit of excellence and the joy he took in creating served generations & shaped my life I'm forever grateful RIP Andy".

Actress Patty Duke also tweeted, writing: "RIP dear Andy, you brought so much enjoyment to so many of us. I will miss you!"

CBS News reported that President Obama issued a statement about Griffith's death, saying: "A performer of extraordinary talent, Andy was beloved by generations of fans and revered by entertainers who followed in his footsteps. He brought us characters from Sheriff Andy Taylor to Ben Matlock, and in the process, warmed the hearts of Americans everywhere."

Lady Antebellum singer Hillary Scott posted: "Heaven gained a talented man today. Mr. Andy Griffith, thanks for giving me amazing memories with my family growing up watching your show!"

Rocker Nathan Followill of Kings of Leon gave a shout-out to a much-loved feature film from early in Griffith’s career: "RIP Andy Griffith. One of my favorite tv actors of all time. I can hear him whistling the (Andy Griffith Show) theme song all the way to the pearly gates. Do yourself a favor and watch A Face in the Crowd. One of the best performances ever."

Actress Denise Richards, film director Kevin Smith and actor David Boreanaz also reflected on Griffith’s death, while country singer Chely Wright hailed Griffith as a "classic TV star," adding, "He was one of the good guys."

Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker remembered Griffith in a tribute piece, writing: “Andy Griffith was one of the greatest performers in television history, in large part because he never looked as though he was performing. His portrayal of Mayberry, North Carolina, sheriff Andy Taylor is one of the most sustained feats of comic subtlety and grace in any medium.”

Meanwhile, a number of television networks announced plans for special marathons and programming blocks in honor of Griffith. Click here for a roundup of those specials based on the announcements that have been made thus far.

Favorite Andy Griffith clips have been popping up everywhere on the Internet. Here are a few more of ours:

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TV Networks Announce Andy Griffith Marathons, Tributes

With news today of the death of TV icon Andy Griffith, as we reported earlier, television outlets are scrambling to put together special programming to pay tribute to Griffith and showcase his work.

TV Land, which regulary airs episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show,” announced marathon blocks of the show during the coming week, while TCM rolled out a block of Andy Griffith feature films scheduled for later this month.

Here's a roundup of the special programming that has been announced so far.

TV Land

“The Andy Griffith Show” programming blocks:

Wednesday, July 4, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. ET/PT
Saturday, July 7, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. ET/PT
Sunday, July 8, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. ET/PT

TV Land says it wil air some of the most memorable episodes of the show. In addition, some of his best TV moments will be featured on the TV Land Facebook page (facebook.com/tvland).

Turner Classic Movies (TCM)

Mini-marathon of Andy Griffith movies, Wednesday, July 18:

8 p.m. ET: “A Face in the Crowd” (1957)
10:15 p.m. ET: “No Time for Sergeants” (1958)
12:30 a.m. ET: “Hearts of the West” (1975)
2:15 a.m. ET: “Onionhead” (1958)


Select episodes of TV shows featuring guest appearances by Andy Griffith, Wednesday, July 4, noon-3 p.m. ET:

noon -- “Hawaii Five-0” episode: “I’m A Family Crook -- Don’t Shoot”
1 p.m. -- “Mod Squad” episode: “Big George”
2 p.m. -- “Gomer Pyle” episode: “Opie Joins the Marines”
2:30 p.m. -- “Make Room for Daddy” episode: “Danny Meets Andy Griffith”

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HBO's 'The Newsroom' Sees Big Drop in Ratings

“The Newsroom” has already been renewed for a second season, but with the ratings in for Sunday’s second episode, HBO may have reason to question whether it acted too soon.

New York Magazine reports that total viewership for the Aaron Sorkin drama about cable news was down about 20% from the premiere, to 1.7 million. The decline was even bigger in viewers under 50, with Nielsen reporting a demo rating of 0.7, down 30% from the 1.0 for episode one.

Sunday’s installment trailed Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New Jersey,” Lifetime’s “Army Wives” and a movie on FX, the story notes.

The report adds: “The heavy guns on Bravo and Lifetime may also be contributing to the show's continued gender gap: ‘Newsroom’ ranked No. 33 among cable series Sunday among women under 50, but it was No. 6 with men of the same age. Another factor this week was likely intense competition from the BET Awards, which featured a Whitney Houston tribute and lured 7.4 million viewers (down a tick from last year's Bieber-boosted 7.7 million).”

With the show in heavy rotation on HBO -- and given its availability on alternative platforms -- it’s too soon to sound alarms about a decline in viewership, the story notes.

The report concludes: “If ‘The Newsroom’ were on a broadcast network, this week's declines would be cause for modest concern, particularly since last week's premiere numbers were more ‘good’ than ‘great.’ But HBO has trained its subscribers to look for multiple repeats of its shows throughout the week or to view via its HBO On Demand or HBO GO platforms, so until all those numbers are in, it's really impossible to know whether this week's drop-off is a sign of viewers opting out, or simply deciding to watch the show on their own timetable.”

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NBC Will Try a Live 'Sound of Music' Production -- 1950s Style

NBC is joining forces with the producers of "Smash," "Chicago" and "Hairspray" to present a live broadcast of "The Sound of Music," reports UPI.com.

In a statement, Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, said: "It is our supreme pleasure to broadcast -- live -- a new version of the seminal Broadway musical 'The Sound of Music' for a whole new generation. There used to be a tradition of broadcasting musicals live back in the 1950s and we're thrilled to do it once again with a musical that has been a family classic for five decades. There is no more talented and creative producing team than Craig Zadan and Neil Meron to bring Rodgers and Hammerstein's final -- and most beloved -- collaboration to network television in this groundbreaking live telecast."

Producer Zadan said: "It isn't our intention to produce a remake of the movie version of 'The Sound of Music' -- that would be artistic blasphemy. What we want to do, instead, is to give audiences a completely fresh experience of this great Tony Award-winning stage musical in the form of a classic television event, combined with the spontaneity of a live performance. And all of the actors will be singing live; there will be no lip-synching to pre-recordings."

"This groundbreaking 'hybrid' of sorts will be based on the stage musical," added Meron, "and will feature all the classic songs that audiences associate with 'The Sound of Music' -- including the title song, 'Do-Re-Mi,' 'Climb Ev'ry Mountain,' and 'My Favorite Things' -- plus a few wonderful songs from the Broadway version that people are less familiar with."

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Emmy Winner Joins CBS's 'Hawaii Five-0'

An Emmy-winning actress is joining CBS’s crime drama “Hawaii Five-0” for the upcoming season, Deadline.com reports. Christine Lahti will tackle the integral role of Doris McGarrett, the mother of Steve (Alex O'Loughlin).

The character has been talked about but never seen before on the show.

Speaking of the casting, "Hawaii Five-0" executive producer Peter Lenkov said, “The mysterious character of Doris McGarrett is a pivotal one to the mythology of our show. We are thrilled to have a seasoned and beloved actress such as Christine to portray her."

Lahti is well-known to television audiences for her five years on "Chicago Hope," which won her an Emmy for lead actress in a drama series in 1998 and produced four of her total of six Emmy nominations. Her other nominations were a 1987 nod for the ABC miniseries “Amerika” and one for CBS’s “No Place Like Home” in 1990.

Lahti has also won two Golden Globes and was nominated for an Oscar in 1985 for her supporting role in “Swing Shift.” She shares an Oscar as a producer for the 1995 live-action short “Lieberman in Love.”

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TVWeek July 4th Holiday Schedule

The regular TVWeek e-newsletters will not be emailed tomorrow, the 4th of July. However, if the news is important enough we'll both update the TVWeek.com website and send out an Extra Alert.

We'll be back on regular schedule on Thursday, July 5.

From our TVWeek family to your family, please have a safe and sane 4th of July!

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Video: Bill O'Reilly Makes Good on Promise (Sort Of), Apologizes for Being 'an Idiot' About Health Care

Fox News star Bill O'Reilly was so certain that the Supreme Court would not back up the Affordable Healthcare Act that he said he would apologize and call himself an idiot if he turned out to be wrong, reports TVNewser.com.

On Monday's show, O'Reilly discussed the decision with Bernard Goldberg and mentioned that he had not figured on Chief Justice John Roberts’ tax argument, and thus had to back up his words.

Here’s the clip, which evolves into a pretty good discussion of media bias:

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TV Legend Andy Griffith Dies

One of television’s most beloved actors, Andy Griffith, died this morning at his home in Dare County, N.C., USA Today reports. The star of “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Matlock” was 86.

Griffith, born in Mount Airy, N.C., played Sheriff Andy Taylor on the CBS sitcom “The Andy Griffith Show” from 1960-1968. Moving from comedy to drama, he found success again as a country lawyer in “Matlock,” which ran from 1986-1995, first on NBC and for its last two seasons on ABC.

Before he became a familiar face on television, Griffith broke through with a tour de force performance in Elia Kazan’s landmark 1957 dramatic feature “A Face in the Crowd,” playing a man who becomes a demagogue on TV. He followed that performance with another well-received outing in the 1958 comedy feature “No Time for Sergeants,” reprising a role he had played on Broadway.

Griffith worked consistently in television between his major series roles, receiving an Emmy nomination for the NBC TV movie “Murder in Texas” in 1981.

Along with his acting career, Griffith was a director and producer, a writer and a Southern gospel singer, winning a Grammy in 1997 for his album “I Love to Tell the Story -- 25 Timeless Hymns.”

After “The Andy Griffith Show” ended its run in 1968, Griffith executive produced the show that continued the storylines of some of the show's characters, “Mayberry R.F.D.,” which aired for three seasons on CBS. Griffith made occasional guest appearances on the show, which was headlined by Ken Berry and George Lindsey.

Before settling in on “Matlock,” Griffith appeared in a number of short-lived series, including “The New Andy Griffith Show” (1971), “Centennial” (1978-79) and “Salvage 1” (1979).

He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.

Griffith’s last screen credit was as Grandpa Joe in the 2009 feature “Play the Game.”

Griffith underwent quadruple heart-bypass surgery in 2000, and in 2007 had hip surgery after a fall, USA Today reports.

The story adds: “Griffith and his first wife, Barbara Bray Edwards, married in 1949. They were divorced in 1972 and she got custody of their daughter Dixie and he got custody of son Sam, who died in 1996 after years of alcoholism. His second marriage, to Greek actress Solica Cassuto, lasted eight years, from 1973 to 1981.

“He and Cindi Knight were married on April 12, 1983, when she was 27 and he was 56. A private man, he told the Virginian-Pilot in 2008 in a lengthy profile by Mal Vincent that he's friendly and outgoing to a point, but has been known to turn down requests for autographs.”

In that interview, Griffith quipped: "When my wife, Cindi, and I go somewhere and we don't want to be recognized, she says, 'Don't talk.'"

andy-griffith-andy-taylor.jpgAndy Griffith as Sheriff Andy Taylor
on “The Andy Griffith Show”

Here’s a clip of Griffith as Lonesome Rhodes, with Patricia Neal, in “A Face in the Crowd”:

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Katie Holmes Reportedly Will Get Almost Nothing From Tom Cruise

Katie Holmes will reportedly receive almost nothing in her pending divorce from Tom Cruise because of the pre-nup agreement she signed, reports TMZ.com.

Holmes is reportedly fine with that, the story says, adding that reports she'll leave with $15 million to $20 million "are absurd." Holmes will leave the marriage with what assets she had when she entered it, the story notes.

However, Holmes reportedly wants child support from Cruise, the piece adds.

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Fakin' It: Why The New York Times Editor's Defense of Alessandra Stanley's Reporting on a Segment That Never Aired is BS

TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross takes on a top New York Times editor for defending Alessandra Stanley's big gaffe last week. Please click here to read this piece.

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Former NBC President Dead at 90

The former president of NBC, who led the network during a period of conflict with the Nixon administration, has died, reports The New York Times. Julian Goodman was 90.

Goodman died of kidney failure, the story notes.

Goodman, known for never asking for a promotion or a raise, told The New York Times when he was named president of NBC, "I am not an ambitious man." He remained president of the network from 1966 to 1974.

He became targeted by the Nixon White House several years later, when Vice President Spiro T. Agnew accused the news media of biased coverage of the Vietnam War, the story notes.

"Evidently he would prefer a different kind of television reporting -- one that would be subservient to whatever group was in authority at the time," Goodman responded.

"He later sparred with the Nixon speechwriter Patrick J. Buchanan, who said the networks should be decentralized, but Mr. Goodman called that 'dangerous thinking.' And he resisted the administration when it threatened to challenge broadcast licenses if network news divisions did not give President Richard M. Nixon what it considered unbiased -- that is, more favorable -- coverage," the story notes.

He also negotiated a $1 million agreement, then a record, to keep Johnny Carson as host of "The Tonight Show," and joined other networks in doing away with the Fairness Doctrine, the piece adds. Goodman also produced the second Nixon-Kennedy debate in 1960.

In 1968, he apologized to viewers after NBC broke off a national broadcast of a New York Jets-Oakland Raiders game so that "Heidi" could be aired as scheduled, according to the article. The game became known as "the Heidi Bowl."

Goodman started as a reporter in Kansas, then after serving in the Army, was hired by NBC News for the night news desk, where he replaced David Brinkley. He ended up advocating for Brinkley, and asked NBC News to pair him with Chet Huntley to anchor the 1956 Democratic and Republican conventions. The pair continued to work together as anchors on NBC's evening news for more than 10 years, the story notes.

"Mr. Goodman often joked that freeing Mr. Brinkley from the night desk had been his greatest contribution to journalism," according to The Times.

julian-goodman.jpgJulian Goodman

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HBO Gives Surprise Renewal to Comedy Series

HBO has surprised some observers by ordering another season of a comedy series, TheWrap.com reports. The pay cable network is picking up eight episodes of "Eastbound & Down," bringing the show back for its fourth season.

The pickup was surprising, given that it was thought the show's third season would be its last, the article points out. Co-creator Jody Hill had said, "[W]e always pictured the show as lasting three seasons. It's a kind of trilogy. ... We think it's going to be the last one, but never say never."

The show stars Danny McBride as former pro pitcher Kenny Powers.

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'Glee' Cast Set to Return, With One Actor Poised for Promotion to Series Regular

Almost all of the regulars on "Glee" will be returning for the show's fourth season, while one cast member is in discussions for a promotion to series regular, reports Deadline.com.

Chord Overstreet, who has had a recurring role since season two, is reportedly negotiating for a full-time role.

Series co-creator Ryan Murphy asked all 15 regulars to return to the fourth season, and apparently "virtually all" accepted the invitation, the story notes. Not every character will be in every episode, although Lea Michele and Cory Monteith are likely to be in most of them, the piece adds.

Other returning cast members are Matthew Morrison, Jane Lynch, Chris Colfer, Naya Rivera, Kevin McHale, Darren Criss, Amber Riley, Jenna Ushkowitz, Jayma Mays, Dianna Agron, Mark Salling, Harry Shum Jr. and Heather Morris, the piece adds.

chord-overstreet.jpgChord Overstreet

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FX Boss Reveals Why Cable Channel Turned Down 'Breaking Bad'

FX President John Landgraf said the network turned down "Breaking Bad" because the channel already had several male antiheroes, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The report is based on a radio interview with KCRW's "The Business."

“We had three dramas with male antiheroes and we looked at that script and said, ‘OK, so here’s a fourth male antihero,’” Landgraf said. “The question was: ‘Are we defining FX as the male antihero network, and is that a big enough tent?’”

“Look, it was a wonderful script. If I had known Vince Gilligan was going to be one of the best showrunners in television, and 'Breaking Bad' was going to be literally one of the very best shows in television, I would have picked it up despite the concept. But the truth of the matter is anybody who does what I do for a living, who’s honest, will tell you that you’re making decisions based on too little information all the time, and you make good ones and you make bad ones," Landgraf said, according to the story.

The next season of "Breaking Bad" will premiere July 15 on AMC.

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NBC Sports Group Teams With Sports Illustrated for New Monthly TV Show

The NBC Sports Group is teaming up with Sports Illustrated magazine to produce a monthly television show called "Sports Illustrated," reports Advertising Age.

The program will debut July 24 at 9 p.m. and will air features and stories tied to some of the publication's articles. The initial plan is for five episodes, to air on NBC and NBC Sports Network.

Lexus is sponsoring the show, and has also bought advertising across the magazine's publishing platforms.

“This programming fits incredibly well with our rich history of storytelling, and partnering with Sports Illustrated for this show adds even more quality programming to NBC Sports Group’s growing portfolio,” said Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network.


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Legendary 'Avengers' Star Joins 'Doctor Who'

Legendary actress Dame Diana Rigg, who starred as Emma Peel in "The Avengers," has been cast in a guest-starring role on "Doctor Who," reports the BBC.

Rigg will appear with her real-life daughter, Rachael Stirling, marking the first time the two have worked together on screen, according to the story. She and her daughter will play a local from Yorkshire and her daughter, who share a "dark secret," the story notes.

"We have never before worked together because the offers have not been tempting, but when such a funny and original script comes through you know the time has come," Stirling said, according to the report.

Stirling has worked on the British television shows "Tipping the Velvet" and "Women in Love."

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Netflix Project Taps 'Battlestar Galactica' Actress

The Netflix project "Hemlock Grove" has cast a "Battlestar Galactica" actress on the drama, reports Deadline.com

Kandyse McClure, who played Anastasia Dualla on "Battlestar Galactica," has been cast as Dr. Chausser on the Netflix show, the story says. Chausser is an animal behaviorist with a tendency toward self-destruction.

The project, based on a novel of the same name by Brian McGreevy, is about a young girl's murder in a downtrodden Pennsylvania steel town. The show stars Famke Janssen and Bill Skarsgard, with Eli Roth directing and executive producing.

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Herman Cain Starting Online Television Network

Former Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain is starting his own Internet television venture, called "Cain TV," reports TVNewser.com.

The logline for the new channel is: "Whether you are looking for commentary, comedy, or culture, Cain TV delivers it all in an Informed, Inspirational, and INtertaining way.”

As the story notes, former Fox News host Glenn Beck has succeeded with his own Web-TV business, although Cain doesn't have a signature program to debut.

His trailer for the venture is on his Facebook page.

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Report: Facebook Trying to Sell 'Like' Button to Cable TV Executives

Facebook is trying to sell its "like" button to some cable television executives by tying the button to some video content while taking a cut of the additional advertising revenue, reports the New York Post.

Facebook wants to host more TV-related video at the social-networking site, and its plan is to help boost TV ratings by growing the exposure of some video clips, the story notes.

It's not quite clear how the details would work -- such as whether any TV programmers would put entire shows on Facebook, according to the story.

Facebook is trying to sell the idea by telling cable TV executives that if it can increase the "likes" on a clip of a popular show, it should take a piece of the advertising from that content, the story says. TBS has already signed a pact for the service, the article adds.

The agreement “leverages our premium ad products and their reach against Facebook users, and as such the creative execution can and probably will take form as video," a TBS representative said.

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CBS Confirms It's Bringing Back Canceled Series

CBS is bringing back a series that was previously canceled by the network, Deadline.com reports. The network confirmed that a deal has been reached for the return of “Unforgettable.”

We reported last month that CBS was in talks with Sony Pictures TV to try to resurrect the show. Those talks paid dividends, with CBS placing a 13-episode order for a new season of the show.

The series is scheduled to return in summer 2013.

The Poppy Montgomery-Dylan Walsh crime procedural about a woman who has a flawless memory was canceled back in May -- the most-watched show of the season to get the ax.

Prior to coming to terns with CBS to revive the series, the studio had been shopping it to TNT and Lifetime, among other networks.

The story notes: “’Unforgettable’ will mark the highest-profile summer original scripted series to air on CBS in a long time. The network, which sticks mostly to unscripted fare and scripted reruns in the off-season, recently had some success with another crime procedural, Canadian import ‘Flashpoint,’ which started [on] the network in the summer.”

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Oops: L.A. Station Among Media Outlets Taken In by 'Big Lebowski' Hoax

A Los Angeles television station fell victim last week to a hoax reporting that a sequel to the Coen Brothers' 1998 cult hit "The Big Lebowski" was ready to start filming in October, reports Mediabistro.com.

KCBS-TV, the Los Angeles CBS O&O, picked up the story from the Examiner.com website and reported the news that Jeff Bridges would be reprising his role as “The Dude.” However, the station later learned -- as did the Examiner.com website -- that the story was based on a fake report.

Mediabistro reports: “KCBS excitedly reported the return of ‘The Dude,’ sourcing the story to the Examiner, only to eventually find out that the report was based on a hoax (and not a very complex one at that).

“KCBS based its article on an Examiner post written by a guy whose title is Phoenix Cannabis Culture Examiner, and who runs a blog called WeedGeist. His story, in turn, appears to have been taken from a post on the website Super Official News with the byline ‘The Ass Press.’”

KCBS posted an update on Thursday to say that the station had reported a bogus story. The station changed its online headline on the story from “’The Dude’ is Back! ‘Big Lebowski 2’ to Start Filming in October” to "‘Big Lebowski’ Fans? That Sequel Isn’t on the Horizon.”

The Examiner site ran its own correction, pointing out that this isn’t the first false report of a “Lebowski” sequel. The website added this editor’s note: “Sorry to disappoint but it’s just not true. ‘Big Lebowski 2’ is not in the works. As everyone knows, the first rule of the Internet is to not believe what you read on the Internet. This story broke that rule, and for that, we’re sorry. We’re in good company, at least. In 2011, CNN.com first ‘broke’ the news about a ‘Big Lebowski’ sequel, but the media giant quickly retracted its blog item. However, nothing ever dies on the Internet; satirical site SuperOfficialNews.com resurrected the pesky rumor on Wednesday, snookering this Examiner who loves The Dude, White Russians and bowling.”

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A&E Orders Series Based on Alfred Hitchcock Thriller

A&E announced it is going straight to series on a new project inspired by an Alfred Hitchcock thriller. The cable network is bypassing the pilot phase and placing a 10-episode order for the “Psycho”-inspired “Bates Motel,” from Universal Television.

Carlton Cuse ("Lost") and Kerry Ehrin ("Friday Night Lights" and "Parenthood") will serve as executive producers.

The announcement was made jointly today by Bob DeBitetto, President and General Manager, A&E Network and BIO Channel, and the network's Executive Vice President of Programming, David McKillop.

The network described the project as “a contemporary exploration of the formative years of Norman Bates, [his] relationship with his mother, Norma, and the world they inhabit. Viewers will have access to the dark, twisted backstory and learn first-hand how Norma helped forge the most famous serial killer of them all.”

"Bates Motel" is scheduled to premiere on A&E in 2013.

In a statement, DeBitetto and McKillop said: "We are proud to be partnering with Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin on their thrilling reinvention of one of the most compelling characters in cinematic history. It's a provocative project from two of the best storytellers in the business and we're looking forward to getting started."

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Cher's Anti-Romney Tweet Invokes Outcry Among Mormons

Oscar winner Cher found herself in an Internet controversy involving the Mormon Church after she tweeted a comment about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

On Friday, the singer tweeted about President Obama, saying, "I Feel if he doesn't get all his DUCKS IN A ROW we'll b forced 2 listen 2Uncaring Richy Rich! The whitest man in MAGIC UNDERWEAR in the WH."

The reference to magic underwear was interpreted as a slur against Mormons. Both men and women of the church wear garments that are sometimes called "celestial underwear" or "temple garments." The phrase "magic underwear" is deemed offensive and derogatory.

Cher received numerous responses indicating her readers were upset by her comment. She was labeled an "anti-Mormon bigot" by a site called Twitchy that tracks newsworthy Twitter posts.

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HBO Renews Two Series -- Including One That Has Only Aired Two Episodes

HBO has made the decision two renew two series, including one that has become a fixture on the pay-cable network and another that has recently debuted.

“True Blood” will return for a sixth season, while “The Newsroom” will be back for a second. The pickup for Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom” comes after only two episodes have been televised.

In a press release, HBO describes “The Newsroom” this way: “This series centers on a cable news anchor (Jeff Daniels), his new executive producer (Emily Mortimer), his newsroom staff (John Gallagher, Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn) and their boss (Sam Waterston). Together they set out on a patriotic and quixotic mission to do the news well in the face of corporate and commercial obstacles and their own personal relationships.”

Alan Ball’s vampire series “True Blood,” based on the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris, has been wildly successful for HBO. The channel offers this brief blurb on the Emmy-nominated drama: “The show follows waitress and part-faerie Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), who can hear people’s thoughts, vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) and vampire Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard)."

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'White Collar' Creator Lands New Series on USA

Jeff Eastin, the creator of USA Network's "White Collar," has had another series picked up by the network, TVLine.com reports.

"Graceland" is about a team of undercover FBI, DEA and U.S. Customs operatives who live together in a beach house in Southern California as a cover.

Starring in the pilot were familiar faces Daniel Sunjata ("Rescue Me"), Aaron Tveit ("Gossip Girl"), Manny Montana ("The Chicago Code"), Vanessa Ferlito ("CSI: NY") and Brandon Jay McLaren ("The Killing").

In a statement, USA co-Presidents Chris McCumber and Jeff Wachtel said: “There aren’t many people we’d trust to run two shows on our air, but Jeff Eastin is one of them. He wrote a brilliant script; [director] Russell [Fine] delivered a superb pilot; Daniel and Aaron anchor an incredible ensemble cast.”

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Former Laker (and Current Reality Star) Returns to L.A. -- But Not to the Lakers

A former L.A. Laker whose basketball woes during the past season have been linked by some to his participation in the E! reality show “Khloe & Lamar” is headed back to Los Angeles, the L.A. Times reports.

Lamar Odom, the husband of Khloe Kardashian, struggled after being dealt last year to the Dallas Mavericks. Some observers speculated that his work on “Khloe & Lamar” was a distraction from his basketball career.

The New York Daily News reported in April that the reality show would end after its second season as part of a plan to enable Odom to concentrate on basketball. Other reports said a third season was in the works. Season two ended its run in May.

Now Odom is headed back to L.A. as part of a four-team trade that sends him to the Clippers. Other teams involved in the deal are Dallas, Utah and Houston, with the arrangement also sending Mo Williams to the Jazz.

Odom was originally drafted by the Clippers, back in 1999.

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'Parenthood' and 'Friday Night Lights' Producer Signs Universal TV Deal

A "Parenthood" and "Friday Night Lights" writer and executive producer has signed a new overall deal with Universal Television, the studio behind both series, reports Deadline.com.

Jason Katims will continue as executive producer on NBC's "Parenthood" as part of the two-year pact, while also developing new projects, the story says. To that end, Katims has hired Michelle Lee, vice president at Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci's K/O Paper Products, the story says. Lee will serve as head of development at Katim's company.

“Jason Katims’ gift of writing deep, rich, complicated characters and relationships is a rare quality,” Universal TV EVP Bela Bajaria said. “We are excited to develop new shows with him this year and to continue to go on a journey with his characters on the new season of 'Parenthood.’”

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'Bad Journalism': NBC News President Blasts New York Times for Critique of 'Today' Show Video That Never Aired

NBC News President Steve Capus called out The New York Times for critiquing a highlight video about former "Today" co-host Ann Curry that never actually aired on television, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The segment was described by the newspaper's chief television critic, Alessandra Stanley.

In her story about Curry's farewell as the "Today" co-host that aired last Thursday, June 28, 2012, Stanley wrote, in part, "Highlight reels are the gold watch of television news, and 'Today' showed a long, affectionate one of Ms. Curry, from her first days in local news to her trip to the South Pole where she planted the NBC flag. It included goofy moments clowning on the set, and also a tableau that seemed -- under the circumstances -- somewhat insensitive. Ms. Curry, ebullient as ever, leaned into Mr. Lauer, who was wearing an arm sling. 'Don't come anywhere near me with a hug,' he said jokingly, but perhaps not entirely so."

We here at TVWeek think that's quite a lot of words that Stanley includes in her review of Curry's on-air farewell about a highlight reel that actually never aired during Curry's farewell.

As THR reports, "the video was never scheduled to air on TV; instead it was an old video posted online."

Capus, who was among the NBC executives who fired Curry from her co-host duties on "Today," told THR, "When a television critic writes a critique of a program and then later admits she hasn’t watched the television broadcast, that’s bad journalism. That’s not just a mistake."

The Times posted a correction Saturday, stating: “The TV Watch column on Friday, about Ann Curry’s final appearance as a host on NBC’s ‘Today’ show, referred erroneously to a highlight reel of Ms. Curry. The highlight video was available on the show’s Web site; it was not shown on the television show Thursday and should not have been included as part of the critique of Thursday’s show. The highlight reel was created last year, when Ms. Curry started in her role as host, not in connection with her departure.”

The THR report adds that the correction about the highlight tape during Curry's farewell, "was actually the third mistake in Stanley's critique. A previous correction noted that Stanley had written that Savannah Guthrie, Curry's replacement, was included in Thursday's Today show send-off. Guthrie was on the show during the 7 a.m. hour to discuss the Supreme Court Health Care ruling, but she was not in the studio for Curry's goodbye. The newspaper also misidentified Morales as Guthrie in a photo caption; that was also corrected."

To see a video of the emotional on-air goodbye speech by Curry last Thursday, please, click here.

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CNN's Anderson Cooper Reveals He's Gay

CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who has been the subject of speculation about his sexuality for years, has come out as gay, the Daily Beast reports.

Cooper made the revelation in an email exchange with the website’s Andrew Sullivan. The two men are longtime friends.

Cooper sent a long email to Sullivan on the subject, which Sullivan posted on the site -- with Cooper’s permission.

Cooper, the son of railroad heiress Gloria Vanderbilt, writes in his email to Sullivan: “The fact is, I'm gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud.”

Cooper adds: “Even though my job puts me in the public eye, I have tried to maintain some level of privacy in my life. Part of that has been for purely personal reasons. I think most people want some privacy for themselves and the people they are close to.

“But I've also wanted to retain some privacy for professional reasons. Since I started as a reporter in war zones 20 years ago, I've often found myself in some very dangerous places. For my safety and the safety of those I work with, I try to blend in as much as possible, and prefer to stick to my job of telling other people’s stories, and not my own. I have found that sometimes the less an interview subject knows about me, the better I can safely and effectively do my job as a journalist.

“I've always believed that who a reporter votes for, what religion they are, who they love, should not be something they have to discuss publicly. As long as a journalist shows fairness and honesty in his or her work, their private life shouldn't matter.”

The story notes that Cooper’s relatively low-key revelation is part of an emerging trend.

Commenting on the trend, Sullivan writes: “Last week, Entertainment Weekly ran a story on an emerging trend: gay people in public life who come out in a much more restrained and matter-of-fact way than in the past. In many ways, it's a great development: we're evolved enough not to be gob-smacked when we find out someone's gay. But it does matter nonetheless, it seems to me, that this is on the record. We still have pastors calling for the death of gay people, bullying incidents and suicides among gay kids, and one major political party dedicated to ending the basic civil right to marry the person you love. So these ‘non-events’ are still also events of a kind; and they matter. The visibility of gay people is one of the core means for our equality.”

The context of Cooper deciding to come out as gay was when Sullivan asked him to comment about the trend Entertainment Weekly wrote about last week.

anderson-cooper.jpgAnderson Cooper

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Report Cites Extreme Scientology Group as Trigger for Katie Holmes-Tom Cruise Divorce Filing; Holmes Said to Be Intimidated by Scientology 'Goons'

Katie Holmes' fear that Tom Cruise would send their 6-year-old daughter Suri to the Scientology group known as Sea Organization, or Sea Org, reportedly led to her decision to file for divorce, according to TMZ.com.

Furthermore, The New York Post reports, "Katie Holmes fears she can’t take one step without a Scientology goon following her every move in a heavy-handed intimidation attempt, multiple sources close to the actress told The Post."

Writes the Post, "The pretty actress last night was holed up in her Chelsea pad -- terrified that soon-to-be-ex-hubby Tom Cruise might kidnap their little girl, law-enforcement sources said. Holmes told another building resident of her abduction fear -- and that neighbor called police on Friday, sources said. But without Holmes phoning in the report herself -- and Cruise known to be 2,600 miles away shooting a movie in Iceland -- police couldn’t take any action."

The TMZ report focuses on Sea Org, which teaches the highest level of Scientology, the story says, adding that children as young as 5 are sent there to live without their parents.

Holmes and Cruise had allegedly been arguing over their daughter's indoctrination to Scientology, with Sea Org an important issue, TMZ notes. Holmes reportedly filed for divorce as a last resort to prevent Suri from being sent to Sea Org, says TMZ.

Members of Sea Org sign "a one-billion-year pledge to symbolize their eternal commitment to the religion and it is still signed by all members today," according to the official Scientology website, the article adds.

The TMZ story adds: “Katie herself has firsthand knowledge of the Sea Org. When Holmes and Cruise first hooked up in 2005, Jessica Feshbach, a prominent Scientologist who had been with the Sea Org since 1994, was transferred and became Katie's assistant/Scientology chaperone. Feshbach, in one of Katie's first interviews after getting together with Cruise, was described by a writer for W magazine as ‘cold-eyed’ and ‘a third-wheel.’"

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TNT Renews Series After Only Three Episodes

TNT apparently knows it has a hit on its hands with a new drama series. After only three episodes aired, the cable channel ordered a second season of its “Dallas” reboot, B&C reports.

The drama network ordered 15 new episodes of the series, with the second season scheduled to debut in 2013, the piece notes.

The reboot of the original "Dallas" drama ranks as cable's top scripted series premiere for the year-to-date, with its June 13 debut drawing 7.8 million viewers in live +3 for the two-hour show, the piece notes.

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One of ESPN's Best-Known Personalities Moves to Fox Sports, Will Host New Program on College Football

A reporter and on-air personality who has been a fixture on ESPN for years has just signed a deal with Fox Sports, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Fox Sports hired Erin Andrews after the host of the "ESPN College GameDay" preshow opted not to extend her contract with the network, the story reports.

Andrews has worked at ESPN for eight years, during which time she has covered Major League Baseball, the College World Series and college basketball and football.

At Fox Sports, Andrews will host a new 30-minute prime-time college football studio show. The program will debut Sept. 1 before Fox Sports' coverage of Hawaii at USC, the piece adds.

Andrews will also take on other assignments at Fox Sports, including roles in its MLB and NFL coverage, the story says.

Eric Shanks, executive producer, co-president & COO, Fox Sports Media Group, said in a statement: “Opportunities to add someone of Erin Andrews’ caliber don’t come along often and we’re thrilled to welcome her back to the Fox Sports family. Erin is one of the hardest-working, most-respected individuals in sports television and we expect her to have an immediate impact."

Andrews freelanced for Fox Sports Florida early in her career, the report notes.

erin-andrews.jpgErin Andrews

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AMC Gets Dropped by Dish; Dish Says It's Over Being Forced to Carry AMC's Lower-Rated Channels, But AMC Says There's Another Reason

Dish Network made good on a threat to drop AMC's networks in a dispute over bundling lower-rated networks such as IFC with the flagship AMC network, reports The New York Times. AMC offers popular programming including “Mad Men,” “The Walking Dead” and “Breaking Bad.”

The change affects the 14 million customers of Dish, the story notes.

As we reported previously, Dave Shull, senior vice president for programming for Dish, issued a statement saying: "AMC Networks requires us to carry low-rated channels like IFC and WE tv to access a few popular AMC shows. The math is simple: it’s not a good value for our customers."

However, AMC claims Dish dropped its networks because of an unrelated lawsuit, according to a statement from the programmer. "In fact, Dish has not discussed rates with us at all," AMC said in its statement. "Dish customers have lost some of their favorite shows because of an unrelated lawsuit which has nothing at all to do with our programming.”

The lawsuit stems from 2008, when Dish stopped carrying old networks operated by AMC. Dish told AMC that it wouldn't renew its contract for AMC, WE tv and IFC shortly after a judge rejected an appeal by Dish in April, the piece notes.

In a related story, Bloomberg reports that AT&T's U-verse television service has agreed to keep AMC's networks on its lineup. The deal means 4 million U-verse customers will continue to have access to AMC, IFC, WE tv and Sundance. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Before the announcement, AT&T had complained that AMC was seeking "an excessive rate increase," almost double what other competitors pay for AMC Networks' channels, the story notes.

The deal means that U-verse customers are assured of having AMC in time for the season premiere of "Breaking Bad" on July 15, Bloomberg notes.

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Western Drama Series Renewed After Setting Ratings Record

A Western drama series that has performed well for its cable network -- including setting a ratings record with its premiere last month -- will return for another season, B&C reports. The series, “Longmire,” was picked up by A&E for season two, the story reports.

The report notes: “The Sunday night drama set a ratings record for the network in its debut June 3, premiering to 4.1 million total viewers as well as 1.4 million in the adults 25-54 demo.”

The drama, based on the Walt Longmire book series by Craig Johnson, stars Robert Taylor as the sheriff of the title and Katee Sackhoff as his new deputy.

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Winner of Two Tony Awards and Two Daytime Emmys Joins Cast of 'The Good Wife'

One of the most highly acclaimed actors seen regularly on the New York stage -- who has won two Tony Awards and two Daytime Emmys -- has joined the cast of "The Good Wife," reports the Los Angeles Times.

"Nathan Lane is joining the already fully stuffed cast of "The Good Wife" for the CBS drama's fourth season," the Times writes. "The actor's recurring role is in addition to the already announced cast additions of Maura Tierney, Marc Warren and Kristin Chenoweth. Lane will debut in the season premiere as a bottom-line-obsessed manager attempting to cut costs to get the law firm back to financial health."

Lane was last seen on stage this past spring in a highly acclaimed version of Eugene O'Neill's "The Iceman Cometh" during a sold-out run at the celebrated Goodman Theatre in Chicago. There had been some hope that that production, which played its last performance in Chicago last month, might come to Broadway, but the Goodman announced this past Friday, June 29, 2012, that "The Iceman Cometh" will not be transferring to Broadway this season.

To read about the Goodman production of "The Iceman Cometh" and some fascinating history of the play on Broadway, please click here to see a recent Open Mic entry by TVWeek blogger Chuck Ross.

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Over $70,000 Paid for Prop Used in Original 'Star Trek' TV Series

Heated last-minute bidding led to a winning price of $70,150 for a prop used in the original "Star Trek" television series, reports Ohio's Canton Repository.

The prop, a Galileo shuttlecraft, had been bought by a collector in the Akron, Ohio, area and stored there for several years, the story notes. The 24-foot-long, 9-foot-tall shuttle was offered in an 11-day online auction, the piece notes.

An early bid of $20,000 appeared to be poised to win the prop, when the action heated up in the last 90 seconds of the auction.

Three late bidders "locked horns," the story says. "It was pretty dramatic,” auctioneer Brooks Ames said. He didn't release the name of the buyer, but said he believes the new owner will restore the Galileo NCC-1701/7, shuttlecraft of the U.S.S. Enterprise, and perhaps put it on display in a museum.


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'Lost' Actress Hooks Up With J.J. Abrams Again for His New NBC Series

An actress who was featured in the J.J. Abrams series "Lost" is rejoining the ABC drama's co-creator in Abrams’ latest television venture, the NBC series "Revolution," reports Deadline.com.

Elizabeth Mitchell, who appeared as Juliet Burke in “Lost,” joins the new action drama, which tracks a group of people who are living in a world where all energy has ceased to exist, the story notes.

Mitchell is joining the show through recasting, playing the character Rachel Matheson, the mother of Charlie and Danny. Rachel, who was played by Andrea Roth in the pilot, will appear in the show via flashbacks, the piece adds.

elizabeth-mitchell.jpgElizabeth Mitchell

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Bristol Palin Is Shunted to Late-Night as Ratings Dwindle

Bristol Palin's reality show has been pushed back to a later time slot on Lifetime after its already poor ratings continued to drop, reports the New York Post. The show will now air at 11 p.m.

As previously reported, "Bristol Palin: Life's a Tripp" debuted on Lifetime to an anemic 726,000 viewers and a weak 0.2 rating among adults 18-49.

Since the show's debut, its ratings have continued to drop, with an average of 585,000 viewers in its second week, the Post notes.

The 10 p.m. time slot held by “Palin” will now instead air repeats of "Dance Moms," the story adds.

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'The Office' Spinoff 'The Farm' Builds Oddball Family Around Rainn Wilson's Character

"The Office" spinoff "The Farm" has created a family for character Dwight Schrute, played by Rainn Wilson, TVLine.com reports.

The TV show will track Dwight and his family when they inherit a family farm that's also a bed-and-breakfast, the piece adds.

The new characters include his brother and sister: younger sister Fannie Schrute, who is described as "a bit of a pseudo-intellectual lefty” who is divorced with one son, and Jeb Schrute, a former worm breeder and Bigfoot hunter who hasn't succeeded in his previous careers, the story notes.

Fannie's son Cameron Whitman is a "smart and slightly weird" 9-year-old. Rounding out the characters is Heinrich Manheim, the siblings' great uncle, who is greedy and manipulative and may have lived in Argentina after World War II, the piece reports.

The story adds: “There is no word yet on the whereabouts of cousin Mose (played now and again by ‘Office’ co-exec producer Michael Schur) or whether the titular farm is the same one Dwight has called home all these years. You’ll recall that he’s already tried being a hotelier -- in Season 4, Pam and Jim even spent a romantic night ‘away’ as guests of the Schrute homestead -- so here’s hoping Dwight’s improved on his hospitality since!”

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TVBizwire | July 31, 2012

Legendary Actor's Son Accused of Raping Teenage Girl

TVBizwire | July 31, 2012

Oops: NBC Airs 'Today' Promo for Gold Medal Performance Before the Event Aired

TVBizwire | July 31, 2012

Journalist Banned From Twitter After Wading Into Controversy Over NBC's Olympics Coverage

TVBizwire | July 31, 2012

ABC Pulls Plug on Fred Willard's Show

TVBizwire | July 31, 2012

Fox Buys Male-Centric Comedy From John Wells -- Part of a Trend Toward Formats From One Small Country

TVBizwire | July 31, 2012

'The Big C' Is Renewed for a Final Season -- But Is the Short Order a Spoiler?

TVBizwire | July 31, 2012

Showtime Reveals Plans for 'Homeland' in the Event of a Real Terrorist Attack

TVBizwire | July 31, 2012

Yahoo Interim CEO Says He's Leaving After Being Passed Over

TVBizwire | July 31, 2012

NBCUniversal, G4 Sued by 'Attack of the Show' Producers

TVBizwire | July 31, 2012

Discovery Sees Profitability in the Future for Oprah's OWN

TVBizwire | July 30, 2012

CBS Boss Moonves Sounds Off About How NBC Is Handling Its Olympics Coverage After Outcry From Viewers

TVBizwire | July 30, 2012

Daytime Drama: CBS Soap Dumps Exec Producer, Brings In Emmys Regular

TVBizwire | July 30, 2012

Romantic Crooner, Star of Hollywood Musicals, Dead at 98

TVBizwire | July 30, 2012

'NCIS: Los Angeles' Casts Actors' Real-Life Moms

TVBizwire | July 30, 2012

NBC Names New EVP for Alternative Programming

TVBizwire | July 30, 2012

CBS Puts Up New Series Against Olympics -- With Predictably Disastrous Results

TVBizwire | July 30, 2012

Viewers Venting Anger About NBC's Olympics Coverage -- With One Main Complaint

TVBizwire | July 30, 2012

Veteran Character Actor Dies -- Credits Included 'Mary Hartman,' 'Back to the Future,' 'Ed Wood'

TVBizwire | July 30, 2012

Almost Entire Cast of A&E Reality Show Fired

TVBizwire | July 30, 2012

CNN Under Fire After Using What Some Consider an Insulting Song to Introduce Sarah Palin Segment