September 2012

Time Warner Cable SportsNet -- Home of the Los Angeles Lakers -- Debuts This Coming Monday, Oct. 1st. Also in Spanish

"Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes will debut Monday night, [Oct. 1, 2012] at 7:00 p.m. PT as the exclusive local homes of the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Galaxy and LA Sparks games, as well as CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) high school regular season and playoff contests," Time Warner Cable has announced.

Melinda Witmer, Executive Vice President and Chief Video and Content Officer for Time Warner Cable -- and TVWeek Cable Television Woman of the Year -- said in a statement,  “We’re so proud of the teams at Time Warner Cable Sports, as they have worked incredibly hard to launch these networks. From the first Spanish-language regional sports network in the country to a comprehensive viewing experience for all fans, we know that these groundbreaking networks will set a new standard for Southern California sports fans when they launch on Monday

The announcement adds, "Time Warner Cable SportsNet will debut at 7 p.m. with a two-hour live special edition of the network’s signature show 'Access SportsNet' that will feature Lakers Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash and Galaxy superstar David Beckham as in-studio guests. This will be followed by the world premiere of 'Backstage: Lakers,' the network’s weekly behind-the-scenes documentary show, at 9 p.m. 'Backstage: Lakers' will take fans from the end of the 2011-12 season in Oklahoma City to the start of 2012-13 training camp, giving an inside look at the arrival of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, examining fan reactions to the Lakers’ headline-making offseason and a look behind-the-scenes of Lakers media day.

"Time Warner Cable Deportes will launch at 7 p.m. with a two-hour 'Bienvenidos a Time Warner Cable Deportes' live special that features Beckham, Bryant and Nash as in-studio guests, plus Laker Pau Gasol and Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan. Next on the network will be 'Somos Lakers, La Biografía' at 9 p.m. and 'Los 16 del Galaxy' at 9:30 p.m., which profile the storied histories of the two teams. 'Encuentro Deportivo' will premiere at 10 p.m. and the half-hour live, nightly show will update viewers on the day’s most complete sports activity, in Southern California as well as internationally."

The announcement also says, "Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes can be found in HD on channel 481 and 403, respectively, on Time Warner Cable systems. Negotiations with other providers to carry the networks are ongoing but have not yet concluded."

Time Warner Cable is the primary MSO in the L.A. area.

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Video: A Shaken Shepard Smith Apologizes For Fox News Showing Suicide Live, On Air

"Fox News Channel today [Sept. 28, 2012] was showing live coverage of an Arizona police chase that ended when the suspect fled the scene, pulled out a handgun and shot himself in the head," Deadline.com reports. The footage was being broadcast on a delay, but aired anyway. Then Fox News went to commercial. Here'a a very shaken Shepard Smith addressing viewers after the commercial. Later, Fox News issued this statement, Deadline reports:: “We took every precaution to avoid any such live incident by putting the helicopter pictures on a five second delay. Unfortunately, this mistake was the result of a severe human error and we apologize for what viewers ultimately saw on the screen.”

 

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Talker 'Ricki Lake Show' Changes Executive Producers

"The Ricki Lake Show" from Twentieth Television is changing executive producers, reports Deadline.com.

The article says, "Gail Steinberg, who was the co-creator and EP on Ricki Lake’s original talk show during the 1990s, is returning to become executive producer of the freshman talker 'The Ricki Lake Show,' effective immediately. Lisa Kridos, who was EP, is exiting to become a programming and development producer for the show’s distributor Twentieth Television."

The story adds, " 'Ricki Lake' has gotten off to a slow ratings start among the freshman pack of daytime talkers, owing partly to a Tribune-Cablevision carriage dispute that has affected 40% of New York households."

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Down Periscope: Ratings for ABC's Much-Hyped Submarine Drama Hit by Big Bang

Thursday night, Sept. 27, included two closely watched drama premieres. CBS’s “Elementary,” airing at 10 p.m., won the time slot with a 3.1 average in the 18-49 demo. 

ABC’s highly promoted drama featuring the crew of a nuclear submarine, “Last Resort,” debuting in the hotly contested 8 p.m. slot, settled for a 2.2. CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory,” also airing at 8 p.m., delivered a 4.8 for its season premiere -- the best number of the night. 

Interestingly, in a poll of readers by TVBytheNumbers.com, conducted before "Last Resort" aired, 65% of the respondents said the show would pull at least a 2.7 in the 18-49 demo.

Leading out of "The Big Bang Theory" on CBS, the season premiere of “Two and a Half Men” scored a 3.5.

NBC saw its Thursday night woes continue -- even as its numbers were generally higher than last week’s.

Nielsen overnight figures cited by TVbytheNumbers.com show NBC in a distant fourth place in the key 18-49 demo. CBS, which premiered its new Sherlock Holmes drama “Elementary,” won the night with a 3.4 average rating in the demo for prime time overall, followed by ABC with a 2.9, Fox with a 2.8, NBC with a 1.7 and Spanish-language Univision with a 1.4. In total viewers it was CBS well out front with 13.8 million for prime time, followed by ABC (9.2 million), Fox (7.6 million), NBC (4.7 million) and Univision (3.6 million).

It could get worse for NBC. “The Thursday night NFL Network Cleveland/Baltimore game was simulcast on the NBC affiliates in both markets,” TVbytheNumbers reports. “As a result the numbers for NBC are probably inflated and subject to more than typical adjustments in the final numbers.”

According to the preliminary numbers, NBC’s best performance was by “The Office,” which delivered a 2.4 in viewers 18-49. That was better than last week’s 2.1, with the rest of the lineup also up from a week ago: “Up All Night” surged to a 1.8, up from a 1.3; “Parks & Recreation” was all the way up to a 2.1, from a 1.7 last week; “Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update” ticked up to a 1.7, from a 1.6; and “Rock Center” managed a 1.2, rising from a 1.1.

Fox’s “The X Factor” was also strong at 8 p.m., delivering a 3.2 in 18-49 -- down from a 3.5 a week ago.

ABC owned the 9 p.m. hour with the season premiere of “Grey’s Anatomy,” which pulled a 4.3 average in the 18-49 demo. CBS’s “Person of Interest” settled for a 2.9 for its season premiere, while Fox’s “Glee” had a 2.5.

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'Innocence of Muslims' Filmmaker Could Get Three-Year Prison Sentence

The filmmaker responsible for an anti-Muslim video that triggered violence in the Islamic world is being held on alleged probation violations and could be sentenced to as much as three years in federal prison, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Probation authorities are seeking a 24-month sentence for Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, whose clip “Innocence of Muslims” sparked protests that may have led to the deaths of U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other people in a rocket attack in Libya. It was unclear whether the attack, which took place Sept. 11, was related to the movie although it took place amid protests against the film.

Nakoula was arrested Thursday and ordered to be returned to jail. “The hearing occurred amid high security, with the public only allowed to watch through a video feed in a separate courthouse blocks away,” the story reports. “Before his arrest Thursday, Nakoula and his family had been in hiding, and his attorney said he had received threats to his safety.”

His detainment was ordered by Magistrate Judge Suzanne H. Segal, who cited a “lengthy pattern of deception” by Nakoula and said he poses “some danger to the community.”

“Nakoula, who was on supervised release from a 2010 conviction for bank fraud, faces eight charges of probation violation including making false statements to authorities about the film,” the story reports. “When probation officials questioned him about the video, Nakoula allegedly claimed his role was limited to writing the script, and denied ever using the name ‘Sam Bacile’ in connection to the film, said Assistant U.S. Atty. Robert Dugdale.”

The report adds: “Dugdale said there is evidence Nakoula’s role in making ‘Innocence of Muslims’ was ‘much more expansive’ than penning the script. Prosecutors said Nakoula could face new criminal charges for lying to federal officials.

Dugdale said none of the violations Nakoula is accused of relate to use of the Internet, even though his probation terms specify he was not permitted to possess or use a device with access to the Internet without permission from his supervisor.”

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Video: Jerry Seinfeld Reunites With Michael Richards -- or Is It Kramer?

“Seinfeld” alums Jerry Seinfeld and Michael Richards got back together for an episode of Seinfeld’s new Web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” -- an episode that brought out the “Kramer” in Richards, along with plenty of reminiscing and even some serious talk about Richards’ widely publicized controversial stand-up routine several years ago.

Here’s the episode:

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Whoa! Mea Culpa and a Half: Apple CEO Apologizes for Apple Maps Fiasco, Suggests Users Use Arch-Rival Google Maps Until Apple Maps Improves

In a letter posted on Apple's website and addressed to its customers, Apple CEO Tim Cook apologizes for the new Apple Maps that comes with the new operating system for the iPhone, and even goes so far as to suggest that iPhone users use Google Maps until Apple Maps improves.

It's a startlingly frank apology and suggestion since Apple Maps is basically intended to replace Google Maps on the iPhone.

Cook writes: "At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better."

Apple Maps comes with the operating sytem, iOS 6, installed on the new iPhone 5. In addition, when current owners of Apple devices download iOS 6, the new operating system automatically deletes Google Maps on any of those older devices, replacing it with Apple Maps.

Cook wrote: "While we’re improving [Apple] Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app."

 

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John Travolta Cleared in Defamation Suit

A Superior Court judge in Los Angeles has dismissed a defamation suit that was brought against John Travolta and his attorney, Entertainment Weekly reports.

“Writer Robert Randolph -- who’d written a book that detailed Travolta’s alleged sexual habits -- had filed a lawsuit after a public letter from Travolta’s lawyer Marty Singer responded to those claims because the author claimed Singer’s comments had damaged his reputation,” the story reports. “On Thursday, Judge Malcolm Mackey ruled that the letter was a legal expression of free speech.”

Lynda Goldman, a lawyer representing Travolta and Singer, said: “Robert Randolph’s ridiculous lawsuit against John Travolta and his attorney Marty Singer never should have been filed. Notwithstanding inane tabloid fodder, two individuals who sued Mr. Travolta voluntarily dismissed their cases, and Randolph’s case was dismissed by the court. Anyone else who thinks about suing Mr. Travolta should expect a similar result.”

The report notes: “The lawsuit stemmed from tangential accusations by two male massage therapists who separately accused Travolta of sexual battery. One was dismissed by a court, and the other was dropped in May.”

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Report: Matt Lauer Orchestrated the 'Yom Kippur Attack' by 'Today' Producer Jim Bell

"Today" co-host Matt Lauer reportedly was the driving force behind an interview between the show's producer, Jim Bell, and the New York Times' Bill Carter, which included Bell's defense of Lauer, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

The interview, which included an attack on “Today” rival “Good Morning America,” got so much attention that it has earned a nickname among TV insiders: the “Yom Kippur attack,” the story reports.

As previously reported, Bell denied that it was Lauer's idea to remove co-host Ann Curry and denied that Lauer had been berating staff and had taken on some directional control of the show. The report received a number of comments after we posted it on the TVWeek website, with the consensus among early commenters being that no one was buying into Bell’s argument.

Now the Post cites sources saying that Bell reached out to journalists because Lauer was tired of the negative publicity. Said one source, according to the report: “Matt wanted Jim to do it. Matt was sick of being the punching bag.”

The report cites rumors that Bell could be out of his post at “Today” within a month, with talk that he could be moving on to a role at NBC Sports, the story adds.

Asked for comment, Bell said, "This is exactly the kind of false story that led me to do these interviews in the first place," according to the story.

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Report: 'Sons of Anarchy' Actor Was 'Out of Control'; Also: His Scientology Connections

Details continue to emerge about how “Sons of Anarchy” actor Johnny Lewis spun out of control before killing his 81-year-old landlady this week and then falling to his own death.

The New York Daily News reports that Lewis had struggled with drugs and mental health problems, spending time in jail and in a Scientology rehab program before the gruesome events of early Wednesday, in which the 28-year-old actor also killed and dismembered the cat belonging to Catherine Davis, his landlady.

“Lewis went through the Church of Scientology’s drug program, Narconon, in 2004, and spoke publicly about the method. A photo of Lewis at a Narconon event was posted on the programs website until late Thursday, when it was removed,” the story reports. “Lewis’ parents are active members of the controversial church, and his father co-wrote a movie with founder L. Ron Hubbard, according to IMDb.”

Lewis was known for his role as Kip “Half Sack” Epps on the FX biker drama “Sons of Anarchy,” and also appeared on “The O.C.” and a number of other shows. But “his life had steadily unraveled over the past 10 months as he struggled with drug and mental-health issues, according to court documents and Los Angeles probation officers,” the story reports.

Things came to a head Wednesday at Lewis’ home in Los Feliz, Calif., when he apparently beat Davis to death and tangled with neighbors before falling to his death, as reported previously.

“The former paramour of singer Katy Perry had been arrested three times in 2012 and was only five days out of jail before the bizarre and violent rampage in Los Angeles on Wednesday,” the Daily News reports.

"Probation officials had warned Lewis’ behavior was growing increasingly erratic in recent months, even as the actor continued to land movie roles," the report adds.

Authorities reportedly suspect Lewis may have been on a new synthetic drug known as Smiles.

“Lewis was renting a room from Davis, who owned a sprawling hillside home that she advertised as a ‘villa’ for actors and writers. On Wednesday morning the troubled actor smashed into Davis’ living quarters, ransacking furniture and bludgeoning the elderly woman to death, police said. She was also strangled and her cat dismembered,” the story reports.

“Lewis then attacked a neighbor and a house painter -- bashing them with a two-by-four and a paint roller -- before climbing to the roof and falling to his death.”

The cause of death has yet to be determined, with authorities awaiting the results of toxicology tests, according to the L.A. County Coroner’s Office.

Thumbnail image for johnny-lewis.jpgJohnny Lewis

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Victim of Actor's Deadly Attack Was Landlady to TV Stars

The 81-year-old woman who died in an apparent attack by "Sons of Anarchy" star Johnny Lewis was a landlady to television stars and other celebrities, reports TMZ.com.

Her home in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles is known as the "Writer's Villa" and has been home to Thomas Jane of "Hung," Chris Parnell of "Saturday Night Live" and Matt Bomer of "White Collar," among other celebrities, the story notes. Comedian Paula Poundstone and indie film regular Parker Posey are also among those who rented from Catherine Davis, the story reports.

The home, which rents out suites and a guest house for $1,650 to $3,000 per month, is popular because of its central location -- including being near the Hollywood sign, the story adds.

As previously reported, police suspect that Lewis was under the influence of drugs during the brutal attack, which ended with him and Davis dead.

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Simon Cowell Project Scrapped Amid Reports of Hassle With Celebrity Couple

A show from Simon Cowell that has been in the works for more than a year has been scrapped, and the project -- a DJ competition -- appears to be a casualty of a tussle between Cowell and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith's company over who would get top billing, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

Cowell's Syco said in January that it would produce a competition show for DJs, working with the Smiths' production company Overbrook Entertainment. Syco confirmed that the two companies have canceled plans to proceed, the story notes.

According to one source the production plans ended because Cowell wanted to be billed as the top producer, while the Smiths and Overbrook didn't agree, the story notes. A representative for Overbrook declined to comment.

Another source said the differences among the parties weren’t about producer credits, adding: “There were some deal points that couldn’t be worked out, and Sony and Overbrook walked away.”

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Farewell to NBC's 'Golden Age of Weird' on Thursday Nights

Describing NBC’s recent Thursday night comedies as “simultaneously the smartest and dumbest shows on television,” a column on TheWrap.com laments what TV writer Tim Molloy calls the end of an era -- NBC’s “Golden Age of Weird.”

“For years, ‘30 Rock,’ ‘The Office,’ ‘Community’ and ‘Parks and Recreation’ have brought to primetime Thursday the kind of smart-stupid absurdist comedy that David Letterman and Conan O'Brien developed in late night,” Molloy writes. “You never knew if the next joke would be about geopolitics or goofy animals. Sometimes the political joke was deliberately dumb and the animal joke head-scratchingly smart.”

Noting that “30 Rock” and “The Office” are winding down, while the ratings-challenged “Community” has been shuffled off to Friday nights, Molloy says NBC appears to be backing away from what has generally been a good run with critics and is instead focusing on courting ratings.

“It is keeping the animals. But not the jokes about North Korea,” he writes.

NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt essentially said the same thing over the summer, the piece notes, when he told reporters: "I think we're going to transition with our comedy programs and try to broaden the audience. Those Thursday comedies, which the critics love and we love, tend to be a bit more narrow than we want going forward."

“The network's new hopes include ‘Animal Practice,’ about a wacky veterinary hospital, and ‘Guys With Kids,’ about just that. None of the new sitcoms air on Thursday,” the piece notes. “The season only officially started Monday, so it's too soon to identify trends. But so far the new sitcoms are earning better ratings than the Thursday shows -- in part because viewers want to see if the new shows are worth watching.”

Molloy’s piece goes on to examine NBC’s comedy transition in depth, and in historical context. It’s a good read -- click here to check it out.

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FCC Backing Down on Most of Its Indecency Complaints

The Federal Communications Commission is rethinking its enforcement of complaints about broadcast indecency and is scaling way back on the number of complaints it will pursue, TheWrap.com reports.

“Chairman Julius Genachowski has ordered agency staffers to refocus enforcement efforts to target only the most explicit of the more than 1.5 million pending complaints,” the story reports, citing a spokesman for the FCC.

“The decision was in response to the Department of Justice’s dropping Friday of a lawsuit complaining of indecency in a 2003 Fox broadcast of its reality show “Married by America,” which included scenes featuring suggested -- but pixilated -- nudity,” the report adds.

In a statement to TheWrap, Genachowski is quoted as saying: “In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Fox v. FCC, the commission is reviewing its indecency enforcement policy to ensure the agency carries out Congress’s directive in a manner consistent with vital First Amendment principles.”

Genachowski added that he has directed the commission to “focus its resources on the strongest cases that involve egregious indecency violations. We also will continue to reduce the backlog of pending indecency complaints.”

The shift in focus follows landmark decisions over the summer by the Supreme Court, which has been tossing out penalties in indecency cases, as we reported previously.

TheWrap adds: “In one of the cases, the high court refused to review a lower-court decision that threw out the FCC’s $550,000 fine for CBS over Janet Jackson’s ‘wardrobe malfunction’ during the network’s live coverage of the 2004 Super Bowl.

“In a separate case, the Supreme Court on June 21 ruled that FCC indecency sanctions against Fox and ABC were improper, on grounds that the networks had not received fair notice that fleeting indecencies could be subject to sanctions.”

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Video: Lifetime's New 'Liz & Dick' Clip Draws Parallels Between Lindsay Lohan and Elizabeth Taylor

Lifetime has released a short video going behind the scenes of its upcoming Elizabeth Taylor biopic “Liz & Dick,” starring Lindsay Lohan, and the clip is all about the similar paths taken by Taylor and Lohan -- especially life in the celebrity fishbowl. So is Lohan “Elizabeth Taylor reincarnated,” as the clip suggests? See for yourself:

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Selena Gomez, 20, Returns to Her Disney Channel Roots -- as Producer and Star of New Project

A young Disney Channel star who has gone on to a successful career in movies and pop music is headed back to the channel with a project that will revisit her roots. Selena Gomez will be a key player in a new TV movie version of the hit show "The Wizards of Waverly Place," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Gomez, 20, is probably still best known for her work as Alex Russo, the lead character in the Emmy-winning Disney TV series. The new project will reunite her with “Wizards” co-stars Jake T. Austin, Jennifer Stone, Maria Canals-Barrera, David DeLuise and Gregg Sulkin, the story notes.

Gomez will executive produce and star in the project, which is set to begin filming next month and is scheduled for a premiere in early 2013, the report says.

In the movie, the Russo family travels to Tuscany to meet some relatives, but Alex inadvertently creates a spell that creates a "good" Alex and an "evil" Alex, the story adds.

The series ended its four-season run on the Disney Channel on Jan. 6.

"With the phenomenal ratings of the 'Wizards' finale earlier this year, it became clear that fans of the series were not ready to say goodbye to Selena or the rest of the 'Wizards' cast," said Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer of Disney Channels Worldwide.

The series previously spawned the successful Disney Channel TV movie “Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie” in 2009.

Thumbnail image for selena-gomez.jpgSelena Gomez

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White Males Still Direct Most Prime-Time Shows, DGA Report Says -- In Fact, the Ratio Has Gone Up

Most prime-time television is directed by white men, with the ratio actually ticking upward last season, reports TheWrap.com, citing a report by the Directors Guild of America.

The percentage of prime-time TV episodes directed by Caucasian men rose by a point to 73% during the 2011-12 TV season, up from 72% in the 2010-11 season, the story notes.

Only 11% of episodes were directed by white women -- the same as in the previous season -- while the percentage of episodes directed by male minorities dropped to 13% from 14%. Female minorities directed 4% of episodes, up from 3%.

“Our industry has to do better,” said Paris Barclay, co-chair of the DGA National Board's diversity task force. "In this day and age, it’s quite disappointing that so many shows failed to hire even a single woman or minority director during the course of an entire season -- even shows whose cast and crew otherwise is notably diverse."

Several shows were singled out for having no female or minority directors, including "Dallas," "Supernatural" and "Veep," the story notes.

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'Downton Abbey' Prequel? Show's Creator Lays Out the Idea

"Downton Abbey" creator Julian Fellowes said he's considering a prequel to his popular period drama, reports the U.K.'s Daily Mail.

"I do have an idea of doing a prequel of the courtship between Robert and Cora," Fellowes said. The show would be set in the late 1800s, when wealthy American young women arrived in England, searching for eligible men, the story notes.

Cora, the Countess of Grantham, is a wealthy American whom her husband married for her fortune, Fellowes notes.

"He married her purely for the money. I think that is something he came to feel quite guilty about," Fellowes notes. He added he was inspired by the book "To Marry an English Lord."

"It was about the Buccaneers -- those American heiresses who arrived in such numbers during the 1880s and ‘90s, to rescue many great houses in distress,” Fellowes said.

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California Enacts Measure to Protect Child Actors From Sex Offenders

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a measure that will provide protection to young actors in Hollywood by banning registered sex offenders from representing minors in the entertainment industry, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The law also requires criminal background checks for adults with unsupervised access to young performers, such as managers, publicists and photographers, the story notes.

The measure came about after the Los Angeles Times reported that a convicted child molester was casting child actors in films and that a manager representing youngsters was convicted of felony child molestation, the story notes.

“Until now, only agents and studio teachers have been subjected to fingerprinting and background checks,” the report notes. “Advocates had been urging more rigorous screening for years, but used the recent incidents to argue for stronger laws.”

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NBC Buys CIA Drama From 'The Walking Dead' Producer

"The Walking Dead" executive producer Gale Anne Hurd has sold a series adaptation of the CIA novel "The Eleventh Commandment" to NBC, reports Deadline.com.

Based on the 1998 Jeffrey Archer novel, the project has tapped Patrick Harbinson of "24" and "Person of Interest" to write the script. The show tracks CIA assassin Connor Fitzgerald, who decides to spend more time with his wife and family but is framed for an assassination he didn't commit, the story says.

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Details Emerge in Incident That Left 'Sons of Anarchy' Actor and Elderly Woman Dead

Details are emerging about a gruesome incident Wednesday morning in Los Angeles that left two people dead -- “Sons of Anarchy” actor Johnny Lewis, 28, and his 81-year-old landlady.

The Los Angeles Times reports: “Investigators have identified Johnny Lewis, 28, as the sole suspect in the death of Catherine Davis after a bizarre altercation Wednesday at her Los Feliz home, where Davis had rented a room to the actor. Lewis was later found dead in the driveway.”

Authorities suspect Lewis, a Los Angeles native, was under the influence of drugs -- possibly the new designer drug C2-I -- during the incident.

Lewis was in jail just five days earlier, but was released from Los Angeles County Jail despite having received significant jail sentences, the Times reports, citing online jail records.

“Lewis pleaded no contest Aug. 8 to one count of assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to 365 days in Los Angeles County Jail with three years of probation, a district attorney's office spokeswoman said. Nine days later, he pleaded no contest to a burglary charge in a separate case and received 291 days in jail,” the Times reports.

It was not known why Lewis was released.

Police were called to the scene in Los Feliz, near L.A.’s Griffith Park, after receiving calls about a screaming woman, as previously reported. They also received reports about men fighting.

“The owner of a home next to Davis', who asked not to be identified, said Lewis approached him that morning wearing only jeans and introduced himself as ‘John,’ a new neighbor,” the piece reports. “Lewis left but returned about 15 minutes later, when he hopped a fence and began attacking a painter in the neighbor's yard, the neighbor said.

“The neighbor's wife ran to intervene, he said, and started screaming for help. The neighbor then went outside and joined the fray. He said Lewis was impervious to the blows he took -- that it was like ‘hitting him with a fly swatter.’

“The neighbor, his wife and the painter ran into the house after managing to shake Lewis. It took all three barricaded against the door to keep him out, the neighbor said.”

When authorities arrived they found Lewis dead in Davis’ driveway. They later found the body of the landlady inside her home.

“Investigators said they believe Lewis died after falling from a nearby roof or balcony and Davis died from blunt force trauma,” the story reports. “Coroner's officials said no official causes of death had been determined.”

Kurt Sutter, the creator of FX’s “Sons of Anarchy,” commented on the incident via his Twitter account, writing: "it was a tragic end for an extremely talented guy, who unfortunately had lost his way. i wish i could say that i was shocked by the events last night, but i was not. i am deeply sorry that an innocent life had to be thrown in his destructive path."

The report notes: “Investigators are looking into whether Lewis may have been under the influence of C2-I -- a new designer drug known as ‘smiles’ -- during the altercation, sources said. The illegal drug causes hallucinogenic effects and is usually sold in tablets or powder form, which users often mix with chocolate before eating.”

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Five-Time Emmy Winner Returns to Television With Role on NBC Drama

Five-time Emmy Award winner John Larroquette, once a television fixture with roles on NBC’s “Night Court” and “The John Larroquette Show,” Hallmark Channel’s “McBride” and other series, is headed back to NBC, Deadline.com reports.

Larroquette will be featured in seven of the 13 episodes of the midseason drama “Infamous,” the story reports.

Deadline says of “Infamous”: “It is an opulent soap in which a female detective (Meagan Good) returns undercover to the wealthy and troubled Bowers family she grew up in -- as the maid’s daughter -- to solve the murder of notorious heiress Vivian, who was once her closest friend.”

Larroquette won four consecutive Emmys -- a record at the time -- for his work on “Night Court” in the 1980s before taking himself out of the running. He later received a fifth Emmy for a guest role on “The Practice.”

“Larroquette will play Sen. Dwight Haverstock, a powerful politician who has a dark history with the family,” Deadline reports. “The estranged best friend of Robert Bowers (Victor Garber), Haverstock is unpredictable with extreme appetites and big secrets.”

Larroquette has been appearing on Broadway, recently wrapping up Gore Vidal’s “The Best Man.” He previously won a Tony for “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”

john-larroquette.jpgJohn Larroquette

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Tough Night in the Ratings for NBC; ABC's Blockbuster 'Modern Family' Premieres Well Below Last Year

NBC had a difficult night in the Nielsen ratings Wednesday, as a week of season premieres and series premieres continued for the broadcast networks.

Citing Nielsen overnight figures, TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC’s two-hour season premiere of “Law & Order: SVU” delivered a 2.1 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, down from a 2.4 for the premiere a year ago, while “Guys With Kids” dipped to a 1.6, down from a 2.2 for the previous original, and “Animal Practice” managed only a 1.4, well below the 4.1 for its premiere.

For prime time overall, NBC wound up a distant fourth among the big 4 broadcast nets. But other broadcasters had their share of problems too. ABC’s premiere of “Modern Family” delivered the best number of the night, a 5.5 average in 18-49. But that was off from a 6.1 for last year’s premiere. The network’s hourlong premiere of “The Middle” settled for a 2.8, down from last year’s 3.1, while a recap episode of “Revenge” managed only a 1.6. “The Neighbors” was a pleasant surprise for the network, coming through with a 3.3 for its series premiere.

CBS was generally down as well, with a 3.0 in 18-49 for “Survivor: Philippines,” down from the 3.2 for last week’s premiere episode, and a 3.1 for the season premiere for “Criminal Minds,” well below the 4.1 the show delivered a year ago. “CSI’s” season premiere at 10 p.m. settled for a 2.5.

Fox won the night, with its two-hour “X Factor” drawing a 3.3 average in the 18-49 demo. But even that was down from last week, when the show had a 3.6.

For prime time overall, Fox’s 3.3 average rating in 18-49 led all broadcast nets, followed by ABC (2.9 average), CBS (2.8) and NBC (1.9). CBS edged ahead in total viewers, averaging 10.8 million to 9.4 million for Fox, 8.7 million for ABC and 6.4 million for NBC.

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MTV2 Renews Its Highest-Rated Original Series

MTV2 has renewed the show that ranks as the network's highest-rated original series in its history, reports Deadline.com.

The show is “Guy Code.” Its second season ended with ratings for viewers 12 to 34 years old up 21% over its first season, the story notes.

The third season will air in January 2013.

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NBC Taps Into a Massive Database of Digital Info From the Olympics to Get a Picture of the Future of TV

NBCUniversal is mining material from a massive database of digital info gathered during the London Olympics to gain insights into how viewers watched the Games and what it might say about the future of television, The New York Times reports.

The material is contained in what NBCU calls its “Billion Dollar Research Lab.”

“The research did not cost $1 billion, but NBCUniversal paid more than four times that sum in 2011 to broadcast the Olympics through 2020. As part of that giant tab, the media company gets an exceptional opportunity to study viewers’ behavior,” the report notes.

“The findings of the studies, shared with The New York Times, revealed vast shifts in the way people watched the Games this year compared with the Olympics in Vancouver in 2010 and in Beijing in 2008, and they offered insight into how television will further evolve into a multiplatform experience.”

Alan Wurtzel, NBCU’s veteran research chief, will present the findings to advertisers at next week’s American Marketing Association conference in Las Vegas and at an Advertising Week event in New York.

“For research wonks there’s no event quite like the Olympics,” the story reports. “Roughly 217 million people in the United States watched the London Games, making it the most watched television event in history. And unlike other big, live events like the Super Bowl or the Academy Awards, the Olympics offer researchers a prolonged, 17-day period during which to study behavior.”

Among the data: NBC had 2 billion page views across its websites and apps, while 8 million people downloaded the network’s mobile apps for streaming video.

Additionally, “46 percent of 18- to 54-year-olds surveyed said they ‘followed the Olympics during my breaks at work,’ and 73 percent said they ‘stayed up later than normal’ to watch, according to a survey of about 800 viewers by the market research firm uSamp.”

The Olympics lab results will end up as a part of NBC’s ad sales pitch, the report notes.

“One study measured viewers’ recollections of 56 brands,” the story reports. “The brands advertising during the coverage, especially if the ads were in some way related to the Olympics, registered better recall. Seventy-six percent of respondents said they ‘enjoyed watching commercials during the Olympics that are tied in some way to the Games.’”

The report adds: “The results signaled vast changes from just two years ago in Vancouver, when tablets and mobile video streaming were still in their infancy. The two most streamed events on any device during the London Olympics, the women’s soccer final and women’s gymnastics, surpassed all the videos streamed during the Vancouver Olympics combined.”

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'Sons of Anarchy' Actor Found Dead -- Suspected of Killing 81-Year-Old L.A. Woman

A young actor who was known for his role on FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” and also appeared in “The O.C.” was found dead Wednesday in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles along with an 81-year-old woman in a gruesome scenario that authorities were still piecing together, ABC News reports.

The dead man has been identified as Jonathan Kendrick Lewis, 28, known as Johnny Lewis. He was a regular on the biker series “Sons of Anarchy,” playing Kip “Half Sack” Epps.

“Officers responding to a report of a screaming woman came upon Lewis' body outside of the home on the driveway, while the body of Catherine Davis, 81, was found inside the residence,” ABC News reports.

TMZ.com reports that Lewis is suspected of killing Davis.

“Law enforcement sources tell TMZ ... cops believe Johnny was on drugs -- either PCP or meth -- at the time he allegedly killed a woman and then fell to his death,” the story reports. “Sources tell us ... after allegedly killing the 81-year-old woman, Johnny had fought with two men for 3 to 4 minutes ... hurting at least one of them.

“We're told Johnny initially used a 2x4 to attack the men ... and then used his bare hands.”

LAPD Commander Andrew Smith told ABC News affiliate KABC-TV: "He appeared to have died from some type of fall, either from the stairway, or from the balcony, or from one of the roofs.

"The best we're piecing together now is that it appears that some type of altercation occurred inside of the house resulting in the death of the woman. Then this individual ran outside, had an altercation with a couple of neighbors, ran back into the house and by the time we got here, he had fallen or had somehow died on the driveway.”

ABC News reported that a neighbor and a handyman were “badly beaten in a confrontation they had with the suspect.”

“The cause of death of Davis has not yet been released, but Smith said that she had suffered major trauma,” the ABC News report adds. “Smith said that though it is possible that Lewis was renting one of the rooms in the residence, police are still unsure, calling it ‘very preliminary.’"

TMZ adds: “Law enforcement sources say the men he fought with say Johnny showed ‘super-human strength’ and was ‘phenomenally strong.’ We're told Johnny tried to break into the house of one of the men ... and it took 3 people to hold him back.

“One source tells TMZ ... Johnny had gone to a neighbor's home to introduce himself earlier in the day. Neighbors tell us Johnny had lived in that house before, moved away, and then came back.

“Neighbors who knew Johnny say he was a ‘nice guy.’"

The ABC News report adds: “Lewis, who began acting in his teenage years, worked steadily in television in roles on ‘Boston Public,’ ‘American Dreams’ and ‘The O.C.’ His career picked up steam when he landed the role of Kip 'Half Sack' Epps on two seasons of ‘Sons of Anarchy’ and appeared alongside Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart in ‘The Runaways’ in 2010.”

johnny-lewis.jpgJohnny Lewis

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'Today' Producer Jim Bell Defends Matt Lauer, Says 'GMA' Is a Tabloid

"Today" producer Jim Bell tells The New York Times' Bill Carter that the decision to remove Ann Curry from the NBC morning program was his call, and not co-host Matt Lauer's, as some reports have suggested.

“It was definitely not Matt’s call," Bell said. “He is the host and does not have management responsibility. It was not his call. That was my call.”

Bell also dismissed reports that Lauer has berated staff recently and has taken on some directional control of the show. "These stories portraying Matt in a negative light are just preposterous,” Bell said.

As for "Good Morning America," Bell described his show as a “more serious show," while "GMA" is "doing something else.” When Carter asked whether he meant "GMA" is a tabloid-style show, Bell responded, "That's what I'm saying," according to the story.

In response, an ABC News representative pointed to "GMA’s” ratings wins during the past six weeks. ABC also noted that "Today" aired an interview with Kris Jenner about her breast implants, which ran during a moment of silence for the victims of the 9/11 attacks.

Bell added that Curry is now in a role that she's "naturally suited for," as she was removed from her previous job as co-host and now is a special correspondent.

"Today” isn't facing budget cuts to pay Lauer's reported $25 million a year, Bell added. As for a recent report that Lauer's salary would be reduced, Bell noted, "That could not be more wrong,” the story says.

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McDonald's Is Creating Its Own TV Channel

McDonald's is creating its own television channel, reports the Associated Press. The channel is being created for 700 pioneering restaurants, which will offer exclusive content for customers, the story reports.

Called the M Channel, the service will offer entertainment along with promotional and sales opportunities for companies that want to reach McDonald's customers, the story says.

Content providers include Mark Burnett of "Survivor," ReelzChannel and broadcast stations. Advertisers -- excluding restaurants -- will be welcome, the story says, citing Lee Edmondson, who has worked for eight years developing the service.

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'Honey Boo Boo' Star Leaves Hospital After Accident

One of the stars of TLC’s hot-button reality show "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" left the hospital after surgery for an infection, reports EOnline.com.

Patriarch Mike Thompson -- “Sugar Bear” -- injured his foot in a "mud-boggin'" accident, leading to reports that he might need to amputate his leg. But according to posts by Honey Boo Boo’s mom, June Shannon, the infection was caught early enough and he will be OK.

As previously reported, TLC has ordered additional episodes for the reality series, which features child pageant competitor Alana Thompson (Honey Boo Boo) and her family.

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Piers Morgan Bans Kelsey Grammer From His CNN Show

Piers Morgan has banned Kelsey Grammer from his CNN Show, reports TMZ.com. Morgan's decision comes after Grammer walked out on a scheduled interview on the show. As previously reported, Grammer bolted after the show aired a photo of his ex-wife, Camille.

Morgan said Grammer will never be welcome back on his show, the story notes. Grammer is not the first star Morgan has banned: For unknown reasons, he has also banned Madonna from appearing.

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Wonderful Comic Actor Herbert Lom -- Best Known as the Police Boss Whom Inspector Clouseau Drove Crazy in So Many of Those 'Pink Panther' Movies -- Dies at 95

"Herbert Lom, 95, who played the twitching, exasperated Parisian police inspector driven to the edge of madness and beyond by Peter Sellers’ Jacques Clouseau in the 'Pink Panther' movie franchise, has died," Bloomberg reports.

The story continues, "He died today in his sleep, the Associated Press reported, citing his son, Alec. The Czech-born Lom lived in London, where he moved from Prague on the eve of World War II." 

Lom was also a familiar face on many TV shows, ranging from "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." to the original "Hawaii Five-0."

Alec Lom told the AP, "It was a delight to [my father] later in his career to be cast by 'Pink Panther' producer and director Blake Edwards in a comedy role opposite Peter Sellers, and he hugely enjoyed that move. He had many funny stories about the antics that he and Peter Sellers got up to on the set. It was a nightmare working with Peter because he was a terrible giggler and, between my father and Peter's laughter, they ruined dozens and dozens of takes.' "

The AP story adds that Herbert Lom's "first major movie role was as Napoleon in 1942's 'The Young Mr. Pitt.' The career that followed saw him cast often as a villain. In 'The Ladykillers,' one of the best-loved British films of the 1950s, Lom played a member of a ruthless crime gang fatally outsmarted by a mild-mannered old lady.

"Horror roles included the title character in Hammer Studios' 'The Phantom of the Opera' in 1962, and Van Helsing in 1970's 'Count Dracula,' opposite Christopher Lee."

herbert lom.jpg

Herbert Lom driven to twitching by Inspector Clouseau

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Science Channel Taps Oscar Winner for TV Movie on Challenger Disaster

Science Channel has tapped an Oscar-winning actor to star in a TV movie about the 1986 Challenger explosion, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

William Hurt will play the renowned U.S. physicist Richard Feynman in the project, the story reports. The telepic, which is a co-production of the BBC and Science Channel, will be a factual drama looking at Feynman's work unraveling the disaster, which was one of the biggest tragedies in U.S. spaceflight, the story notes.

After the space shuttle exploded 73 seconds into its flight on Jan. 28, 1986, a presidential commission asked Feynman to serve as an independent investigator, the story notes. The scientist was battling cancer at the time and died two years later.

Hurt won an Oscar in 1986 for his lead performance in “Kiss of the Spider Woman.”

william-hurt.jpgWilliam Hurt

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Visit by the Obamas Pumps Up Ratings for 'The View'

Barack Obama’s appearance on “The View” gave the ABC talk show its best viewer number since ... the last time Barack Obama appeared on the show.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Tuesday’s appearance by the president and first lady Michelle Obama delivered 4.3 million total viewers -- a four-month high for “The View.” It was the show’s best number since an episode in May featuring Barack Obama delivered 4.7 million viewers.

The appearance Tuesday was Obama's fifth visit to the show -- he first appeared in 2007, when he was a senator, the piece adds.

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'Harry Potter' Author Hints She May Revisit the 'Potter' World -- but Without Harry

J.K. Rowling, the author of the “Harry Potter” books, says in a new interview that there may be more to come from the magical world of Harry Potter, Deadline.com reports.

“The celebrated author says that she may produce ‘director’s cut’ versions of two of her Harry Potter novels, and doesn’t rule out additional books in that world -- but without Harry,” the story reports. “When it comes to the boy wizard’s story, ‘I’m done,’ she tells the BBC in an interview to promote her new novel for adults, ‘The Casual Vacancy.’” Rowling adds: “I just think it would be for the sake of milking it and that’s just not in me.”

Rowling is not big on the idea of a prequel or sequel. “I’ve never seen it work well in either literature or film,” she said.

“Nevertheless, she says that ‘if I did have a great idea for something else’ in the universe she created then ‘I probably would do it,’” Deadline reports. “She’s also mulling the possibility of tidying up some of her Potter novels that she believes ‘needed another year’ of work.

“There’s one towards the beginning and there’s one towards the end that I definitely felt that about,” Rowling said. “I had to write on the run and there were times when it was really tough. And I read them, and I think, ‘Oh God, maybe I’ll go back and do a director’s cut.’ I don’t know.”

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Is Nicki Minaj Getting a Reality Show? Maybe ... and Maybe Not

Rapper and “American Idol” judge Nicki Minaj officially says she’s “considering” a reality show, but according to one report it’s a done deal.

Minaj sat down for an interview earlier this week with Perez Hilton, who asked whether Minaj is working on a show besides “Idol.” Said Minaj, according to Billboard: “That I’m going to keep a secret for now.”

She added: "I am still considering" the idea of a reality show.

"I will say that I find the more people see, is the more they understand, and then it's the more they like you," Minaj said, according to Billboard. "When you pull them in your world, they see you as a real person. I'm not running away from it anymore."

PerezHilton.com subsequently reported that the reality show is happening. Citing sources close to Minaj, the site says a Minaj series is coming to the E! network -- and is already filming.

Besides her "American Idol" judging gig, Minaj has an array of current ventures, including a new perfume, an upcoming fashion line and an album rerelease, "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded," Billboard notes.

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Video: 'Daily Show' Takes Inspiration From NFL Referees Lockout, Beams Former 'Star Trek' Captain Aboard

Shortly before news broke last night that the NFL had settled the referees lockout, Comedy Central’s “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” offered its own strike scenario, inspired by the NFL. Here’s the clip:

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Can Nickelodeon's Decline Be Reversed? Channel Is Banking on Reboot of a Popular Kids Franchise to Stop the Bleeding

Viacom-owned kids channel Nickelodeon, which has lost 28% of its young audience over the past year, is banking on a new version of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" to help revive its ratings, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Last year, rival Disney Channel overtook Nickelodeon in children 2 to 11 years old, ending a 16-year winning streak for Nickelodeon.

"Mutant Turtles" represents millions of dollars in development funding for the network, with Viacom buying the rights to the show three years ago for $60 million. The network has given the program a computer-generated look. The original program featured a grown-up TV reporter; in the new show, she's a 16-year old girl, the story notes.

The network has ordered 26 episodes of the show.

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NFL and NFL Referees Assn. Reach Tentative Accord

"The NFL and the NFL Referees Association reached a tentative agreement late Wednesday night on an eight-year collective bargaining agreement that will end the referee lockout, both sides confirmed," reports ESPN.

The article adds, " 'Our officials will be back on the field starting tomorrow night' for the Cleveland-Baltimore game, commissioner Roger Goodell said after a day of marathon negotiations."

To read TVWeek Open Mic contributor Chuck Ross's blistering commentary on the NFL-NFL Refs dispute after the debacle at the end of the "Monday Night Football" game this past Monday, please click here.

Here's an ESPN news video clip about the proposed deal that was made just minutes after the tentative agreement was reached:

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Three New Series Bow, But It Takes a Veteran to Knock Off NBC's 'The Voice'

The fall broadcast ratings battle continued to heat up Tuesday night, with two new Fox series and one CBS drama all making their debut. But in the end it was a returning veteran, going head-to-head with NBC’s strong talent competition series “The Voice,” that won the night.

CBS’s “NCIS” had its season premiere at 8 p.m., up against a one-hour installment of “The Voice,” and the veteran drama squeaked out a narrow win in the key 18-49 demo, delivering a 4.1 average rating to a 4.0 for the NBC show, according to Nielsen overnight figures cited by TVbytheNumbers.com.

The hour was hotly contested, with Fox rolling out the season premiere of “New Girl” (2.7 average rating in 18-49) and the new show “Ben and Kate” (2.0), while ABC had the Wednesday premiere of “Dancing with the Stars: All Stars” (2.0 for the two-hour show).

In total viewers, CBS delivered a beatdown to the other networks: “NCIS” averaged 20.2 million to 11.3 million for “The Voice,” while ABC’s “Dancing” drew 11.6 million on average for the two hours. The best Fox could do was 5.3 million for "New Girl."

CBS kept the pressure on with a strong season debut for “NCIS: Los Angeles” at 9 p.m., pulling a 3.4 average in 18-49 and 16.7 million viewers. That set up the network’s debut of the new drama “Vegas” at 10 p.m., where it settled for a 2.5 in viewers 18-49 -- CBS’s lowest-rated Tuesday drama premiere since the generally forgotten “Century City” served up a 2.1 in March 2004. “Vegas” did beat its time-slot competitors, ABC’s “Private Practice” (1.9) and NBC’s “Parenthood” (1.8).

While CBS’s numbers were better all night than the competition, they represented a dip across the board for the Tiffany Network. “NCIS” was down two-tenths of a ratings point from last year’s premiere (4.3), while “NCIS: LA” was also down two-tenths, from last season’s 3.6.

Fox plugged in a second episode of “New Girl” at 9 p.m., equaling the earlier episode’s 2.7 average in the 18-49 demo and also equaling its time slot competition from NBC’s “Go On.” That led in to the series premiere of Fox’s “The Mindy Project,” which beat NBC’s “The New Normal,” 2.4 to 2.0.

The numbers for prime time overall show CBS on top in the 18-49 demo with a 3.3 average rating, ahead of NBC (2.7 average), Fox (2.5) and ABC (2.0). CBS won by a much wider margin in total viewers, averaging 17.2 million to 9.9 million for ABC, 7.4 million for NBC and 4.9 million for Fox.

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Beach Boys Reunion Ends on a Sour Note -- Brian Wilson and Two Other Band Members Are Fired

Founder Brian Wilson and two other members of the iconic American music group the Beach Boys have been fired from the band, reports The Huffington Post. The others to be cut loose are Al Jardine and David Marks.

Wilson and Jardine have been integral members of the group since it began in the mid-1960s, with Wilson having composed a plethora of hit tunes for the band. Mike Love, the band's frontman, and Bruce Johnston made the announcement in a public statement -- which was reportedly how Wilson, Jardine and Marks learned of their firings.

The statement read: "The post-50th anniversary configuration will not include Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and David Marks. The 50th Reunion Tour was designed to be a set tour with a beginning and an end to mark a special 50-year milestone for the band."

Wilson told CNN, "I'm disappointed and can't understand why he (Love) doesn't want to tour with Al, David and me. We are out here having so much fun. After all, we are the real Beach Boys."

The last time the group appeared together was Sept. 28 at Wembley Stadium in England. Fans have already started a petition to Love to get him to reverse his decision.

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Ratings for 'Katie' Soar -- With Help From a Superstar

Katie Couric’s new daytime talk show “Katie” had a high-profile guest Tuesday, and the top rookie daytime talker saw its numbers surge, B&C reports.

The episode featured a full hour with superstar singer Barbra Streisand, who’s promoting her new album, "Release Me," her Christmas movie with Seth Rogen, "The Guilt Trip," and her upcoming concert tour -- which will include a return to her hometown of Brooklyn.

Ratings for Tuesday’s show were up 21% from the previous week average and 35% from Monday to a 2.3 rating/7 share primary-run household average in the weighted metered markets, B&C reports.

In the key daytime demo of women 25-54, "Katie" improved 11% from the previous week and 25% from Monday to a 1.0/8.

In the four largest markets in the country, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia, the Streisand episode delivered a time-period win for the talk show.

"Katie" had its best overall performance in the West Palm Beach market -- on WPBF-TV -- where ratings soared 93% to a 5.8/15, with the show winning its time period.

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CW Renews Two Series

The CW has announced renewals for two of its series, with both shows to return for second seasons, Deadline.com reports. The shows are the summer reality entries “Oh Sit!” and “Breaking Pointe.”

“Breaking Pointe” takes place behind the scenes of the ballet company Ballet West in Salt Lake City, and is produced by BBC Worldwide Productions.

“Oh Sit!” is a musical chairs-based competition show from The Gurin Co. and 405 Productions in association with Warner Horizon Television. It’s created and executive produced by Phil Gurin.

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Christopher Guest Reassembles the 'Spinal Tap' Crew for HBO Comedy Series

Christopher Guest has been gathering the regulars from his acclaimed series of mockumentaries, with familiar faces including Fred Willard, Michael McKean and Ed Begley Jr. on board for his upcoming HBO series, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The documentary-style project, “Family Tree,” stars “Bridesmaids’” Chris O’Dowd. Also on board, in a guest role, is Don Lake, another veteran of Guest’s features.

Begley, Willard and McKean have all appeared in Guest’s movies “This Is Spinal Tap,” “For Your Consideration,” “Best in Show” and “A Mighty Wind.” Lake has also been in most of them -- all but “Spinal Tap.”

“HBO picked up ‘Family Tree’ straight to series in August, ordering eight episodes of the single-camera half-hour effort, which will air simultaneously on the BBC2 in the U.K.,” THR reports.

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Joan Crawford's Oscar -- Which She Received in Bed, According to Hollywood Legend -- Brings a Huge Sum at Auction

The Oscar trophy Joan Crawford won for best actress -- her only Academy Award -- was sold Tuesday at auction, bringing $426,732 in the sale by Nate D. Sanders Auctions, TheWrap.com reports.

Crawford received the Oscar for her performance in the 1945 Warner Bros. film "Mildred Pierce."

Crawford was nominated three times for Oscars, but “Mildred Pierce” was her only win. She was later nominated for her lead performances in the 1947 film “Possessed” and the 1952 feature “Sudden Fear.”

Commenting on “Mildred Pierce,” the report notes: “The film marked a career comeback for Crawford, who was reeling from a string of bombs that had earned her the dreaded sobriquet ‘box office poison.’ However, Crawford did not believe she would win the Oscar, thinking instead that the award was Ingrid Bergman's to lose for her performance as a singing nun in ‘The Bells of St. Mary's.’

“Not wishing to be embarrassed, legend has it that Crawford feigned illness and skipped the broadcast. When news reached her of her victory, she invited reporters into her home where she was photographed accepting the golden guy in bed.”

joan-crawford.jpgJoan Crawford

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TLC Orders More Episodes of Controversial Reality Series

TLC has given an order for additional episodes of a reality series that has become a pop culture sensation and a lightning rod for criticism -- "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo."

People magazine reports: “Alana Thompson [Honey Boo Boo] and her ‘cra-azy’ family -- dad Sugar Bear, mom June and big sisters Pumpkin, Chickadee and Chubbs -- will be back for even more Southern-fried shenanigans. TLC has ordered additional episodes of the hit series, the network tells People exclusively.”

In a statement, Amy Winter, general manager of TLC, said: "Alana and her family have become a pop culture phenomenon. What you see is what you get, and we are excited to share even more of their unbridled hilarity, sincerity and love with our viewers."

People adds: “Fans will also be able to celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas with the Georgia family, who will appear in three ‘HOLLAday’ specials.”

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Madonna Explains Why She Called Obama a Black Muslim

Two days after telling an arena full of Washington, D.C., concert goers that President Obama is a black Muslim, controversial singer Madonna is now saying that she was just being "ironic" when she said those words, reports Reuters.

In a statement from her publicist, Madonna walked back from the comment, saying: "I was being ironic on stage. Yes, I know Obama is not a Muslim -- though I know that plenty of people in this country think he is. And what if he were? The point I was making is that a good man is a good man, no matter who he prays to. I don't care what religion Obama is -- nor should anyone else in America."

Obama is widely known to be a practicing Christian, the story notes.

Madonna was attempting to give an endorsement to Obama during the concert. She's quoted as saying: "Now, it's so amazing and incredible to think that we have an African American in the White House ... we have a black Muslim in the White House ... it means there is hope in this country, and Obama is fighting for gay rights, so support the man."

Here’s a clip of Madonna’s comments about Obama during the concert:

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Today the Moon Is Blue: Legendary TV Crooner Dead at 84

One of the true legends of the music industry -- and a huge presence on television for more more than a half-century -- has died. Andy Williams, known for his trademark rendition of “Moon River,” was 84.

Williams died Tuesday night after a year-long battle with bladder cancer, USA Today reports.

“Williams, who was one of the most popular vocalists of the 1960s as well as an avid golfer, died at home in Branson, Mo., where he owned the Moon River Theatre. ‘Moon River’ -- by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini -- was one of Williams' signature songs. On Twitter, fans are saying farewell to our ‘huckleberry friend.’"

"Moon River" was written for the 1961 movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's," and was sung in that picture by the film's star, Audrey Hepburn. The song was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Original Song, and Williams sang it at the 1962 Oscar ceremony. The song won the award.

Williams was a familiar TV presence as far back as the 1950s, including hosting his own popular NBC variety show, “The Andy Williams Show,” from 1962 to 1971, along with a number of other shows with the same title on other networks and in syndication.

He headlined a string of TV Christmas specials in the 1970s and 1980s and hosted the Grammys, Golden Globes and People’s Choice Awards many times, the report notes. He hosted more Grammys ceremonies than anyone else, with a total of 13 appearances -- including seven in a row during the 1970s.

“The crooner is survived by his wife, Debbie, and his three children, Robert, Noelle and Christian,” the story reports. “Williams had the children with French-born dancer Claudine Longet. They divorced in 1975 and the following year she was charged with fatally shooting her boyfriend, alpine ski racer Spider Sabich in Aspen. Williams made headlines as he stood by her side throughout the public trial. He married Debbie Meyer in 1991.”

andy-williams.jpgAndy Williams

Here’s a clip of Williams performing “Moon River” on his TV show in 1962:

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Number of TV Homes Shrinks for Second Consecutive Year

The number of U.S. television households has fallen for a second consecutive year, reflecting the emergence of online viewing, reports Bloomberg.

The estimated number of TV homes dropped by 500,000 to 114.2 million, according to Nielsen, with the change being reflected for ratings purposes starting this week with the launch of the 2012-13 TV season, the story notes.

Nielsen previously reduced the number of TV homes in May 2011 by 1%, marking the first decline since 1990, according to the article.

The ratings firm said it's working with advertising and television clients to decide how to define a TV home and how to account for new devices such as tablet computers, the piece adds.

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Cable Channel's Promotional Stunt Sets Off Bomb Scare

A promotional stunt by cable channel BET ended in a bomb scare Tuesday morning at a Los Angeles building, reports the Orange County Register.

The cable network apparently sent several beeping packages addressed to CBS Radio talent in a Wilshire Boulevard building, the story notes. After the mailroom found the suspicious packages, the building was evacuated by police at about 8:15 a.m. Police allowed people to re-enter the building at 10:45 a.m.

The packages apparently contained clocks counting down as a promotion for the cable network’s late-night talk show “Don’t Sleep with T.J. Holmes,” the story says. The CBS Radio stations in the building include KNX/1070 AM, KFWB/980 AM, KRTH/101 FM, KTWV/94.7 FM and KAMP/97.1 FM, according to the piece.

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Following Controversial 'MNF' Game, ESPN's 'SportsCenter' Draws Record Ratings

ESPN's 90-minute postgame edition of "SportsCenter" following this week’s controversial Green Bay Packers-Seattle Seahawks "Monday Night Football" game was “SportsCenter’s” most-viewed episode on record, reports B&C.

"SportsCenter" drew 6.5 million viewers on Monday night, more than the show's previous record of 5.9 million viewers in 2011. Monday night's game -- called a "disgrace" by various sports TV personalities -- was watched by 16.2 million viewers.

As we reported previously, an apparent blown call by the game's replacement officials has been the talk of the sports world this week. The call gave Seattle a touchdown on the final play of the game, handing the Seahawks the win.

Click here to read TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross’s suggestion for fixing the NFL’s problem with replacement officials.

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New Jersey Weighs 'Snookiville Law' to Help Control Reality Casts

A law proposed by a New Jersey assemblyman would allow townships to license reality show productions and levy fees, in turn giving them the ability to hire more police to control reality show cast members and their fans, reports CNN.com.

The proposed law is called the "Snookiville Law" -- named after Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, one of the reality stars on MTV's "Jersey Shore." Two years ago, Snooki was arrested for disorderly conduct in Seaside, N.J.

"This bill will permit local officials to make sure taxpayers don't get 'Snook'-ered or public safety is compromised when reality stars such as Snooki or JWoww come to town," said New Jersey Assemblyman Ronald Dancer, who is behind the law.

Dancer, a Republican, said he doesn't want to discourage reality shows from taping in New Jersey, but wants to protect taxpayers.

“Jersey Shore” is taping its final season, but a spinoff with Polizzi and Jennifer “JWoww” Farley is in production in Manchester, near Dancer’s district, the report notes.

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ABC Developing Soap From Producer Mark Gordon and 'Make It or Break It' Creator

Producer Mark Gordon and "Make It or Break It" creator Holly Sorensen have sold a female-focused soap to ABC, reports Deadline.com.

The story is based on an idea from Sorensen and her friend, the Irish actress Victoria Smurfit, the story says. The untitled drama tracks three women who create a product with a secret, which allows them to break into the beauty industry.

Mark Gordon Co. and ABC Studios will produce, with Gordon, Nick Pepper and Sorensen executive producing. Mark Gordon Co. has six series on TV, including "Grey's Anatomy" and "Army Wives."

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Did AMC Let Slip That It Has Renewed 'The Walking Dead'?

Some fans of the AMC zombie drama "The Walking Dead" are convinced the network has let it slip that the show has been renewed for a fourth season, reports James Hibberd in EW.com's Inside TV.

The network's website posted a viewer contest to win a trip to the show's fourth season, although AMC hasn't yet announced a fourth season and the third hasn't yet premiered, the story points out. Some fans are taking the website's content as confirmation that AMC has renewed the show for a fourth season.

Nevertheless, an AMC representative said the show hasn't yet been renewed.

In a statement, the network said: "There was no inadvertent pickup of the series. Season three premieres October 14th. Promotional sweepstakes give-aways which involve prospective future season visits or opportunities are common practice in television. The sweepstakes rules clearly state AMC may award a substitute prize if the future season opportunity is not available."

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NBC Working on Crime Drama Featuring Inventor Thomas Edison

NBC is working on a crime drama featuring one of history's greatest inventors, Thomas Edison, reports Deadline.com.

The drama, called "Edison," comes from Sony Pictures TV and Mark Johnson's Gran Via Productions. John Shiban, a producer on "Breaking Bad," is overseeing the script.

Set in 1880s Manhattan, "Edison" features the inventor -- who is already famous at the time -- as he works as an undercover consultant to the New York City Police Department. Edison taps into his instincts and devices to help decipher crime scenes, the story says.

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'Grimm' Promotes Actress to Series Regular

NBC's "Grimm" has promoted actress Claire Coffee to a series regular role, reports TVLine.com.

Coffee plays Adalind, a Hexenbiest who is Nick's enemy on the program. Her character has recurred on the fairytale-inspired show since the pilot.

New episodes of "Grimm" start airing this Friday.

claire-coffee2.jpgClaire Coffee

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NBC Buys Two Shows From Greg Berlanti -- Including Adaptation of Classic Novel

An adaptation of the classic novel "Wuthering Heights" from producer Greg Berlanti has been bought by NBC, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Called "Napa," the new take on Emily Bronte's novel will be set in Napa Valley as an hourlong drama, the story notes. Tom Donaghy of "The Whole Truth" will write the adaptation, while Berlanti will co-executive produce with Berlanti Television's Melissa Kellner Berman. NBC has given the project a put-pilot commitment.

NBC has also given a put-pilot commitment to Berlanti's "Family Affair," a drama about two Connecticut families who are thrown together when an accident kills a mother and a father who were having an affair, the piece notes.

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NBC Orders Two More Cycles of 'The Voice'

"The Voice" will continue to be heard for a while. The singing competition will remain on NBC for at least two more cycles, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

The show received an order for a fourth and fifth cycle from the network, to debut in spring and fall 2013.

Currently in its third season, the series is drawing strong ratings and is one of NBC's most popular shows, the story notes.

In a statement, NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt said: "This pickup will assure the many dedicated 'Voice' fans that this innovative show will continue to bring some of the most talented new voices to the world's attention through all of next year.”

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Lifetime Eyes Sequel to 'Five,' With Jennifer Aniston Involved Again

Lifetime is close to giving a green light to a sequel to its five-part original movie "Five," about five breast-cancer stories, reports Deadline.com.

Called "Five 2," the sequel will focus on mental illness and bring back actress Jennifer Aniston to executive produce, along with co-creator Marta Kauffman, the story notes.

Aniston also directed one of the five films in the original production. Lifetime executives are said to be proud of the project, even though it wasn't a huge ratings hit, the piece adds.

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Will 'Today's' Matt Lauer Be Forced to Take a Pay Cut?

“Today” show mainstay Matt Lauer may be forced to take a cut in his hefty salary as the NBC morning show suffers through a ratings slump, the New York Daily News reports.

A rep for the show denied the rumor, but a source close to the situation reportedly told RadarOnline: “Matt Lauer will be asked to take a significant cut in his $25 million salary if ‘Today’ doesn’t win the key November sweeps.”

As has been widely reported, “Today’s” chief rival, ABC’s “Good Morning America,” has turned things around after years of coming in second to “Today” in the morning ratings. While the NBC show has struggled with personnel changes -- notably bumping Ann Curry from the lineup and replacing her with Savannah Guthrie -- “GMA” has solidified its newfound ratings edge over “Today.”

The Daily News adds: “Lauer’s popularity with viewers is in a free-fall. Lauer’s ‘likability’ numbers have plummeted by 25% in the last year, according to the influential Q Scores.

“Still, the ‘Today’ show has always been a cash cow for NBC, and remains one of the network’s top earners, generating a huge chunk of NBC News’ annual $2 billion in revenues.”

Word of a possible pay cut for Lauer comes on the heels of news that another NBC star, Jay Leno, recently agreed to what has been reported as a 50% pay cut, bringing his annual salary to about $15 million.

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Tina Fey Re-Ups With Universal Television

Just weeks before her comedy vehicle “30 Rock” is set to launch its final season, award-winning writer and actress Tina Fey has signed a new four-year deal with the show’s studio, Universal Television, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Fey will be developing new projects for the company, and will possibly star in one of them. The deal keeps Fey -- who has been a valuable asset for NBC -- in the NBCUniversal family.

“30 Rock,” which will end its run with an abbreviated seventh season, hasn’t been a huge ratings draw but has been a prestigious show for NBC in terms of awards and reviews. The show won the Emmy for best comedy during its first three seasons, and has been nominated every year it has been eligible, the story points out.

“For her part, Fey -- who left her gig as head writer at ‘Saturday Night Live’ in 2006 to launch the semi-autobiographical sitcom -- has continued to stay active in other mediums,” the report notes. “In addition to a best-selling memoir, ‘Bossypants,’ she has starred in such films as ‘Date Night’ and ‘Baby Mama.’”

tina-fey.jpgTina Fey

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CBS and ABC Finally Break Out Fall Premieres -- but Was It Enough to Knock Off NBC's 'The Voice'?

The fall ratings race heated up Monday night, with CBS unveiling a reconfigured comedy block and ABC rolling out a new “Dancing with the Stars: All Stars.” But it wasn’t enough to keep NBC, which got an early start on the fall season, from winning the night, according to Nielsen overnights.

NBC’s “The Voice” and “Revolution” were down from a week ago, TVbytheNumbers.com reports. The two-hour “The Voice” delivered a 4.3 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, down from a 4.7 a week ago but still the top show of the night. “Revolution” turned in a 3.5, down from a 4.1 last week.

CBS had a decent, but not spectacular, launch for its fall season -- with numbers down significantly from last year. “How I Met Your Mother” premiered to a 3.4 average rating in viewers 18-49, well off from a 4.7 a year ago. The new show “Partners” followed with a 2.4 for its series premiere. “2 Broke Girls” delivered a 3.7 for the season premiere -- nowhere near the 7.1 it pulled for last year’s premiere, when the show followed the hotly anticipated debut of Ashton Kutcher on “Two and a Half Men.”

“Mike & Molly” wrapped up CBS’s comedy block, settling for a 3.0 in 18-49, down from a 4.8 for the premiere a year ago. “Hawaii Five-0’s” season premiere managed only a 1.9, way down from the 3.4 it delivered last year.

ABC had a solid 1-2 punch with “Dancing” and “Castle.” The two-hour “Dancing: All Stars” premiere pulled a respectable 2.7 average in viewers 18-49 (down from a 3.5 for its previous season premiere), backed up by a 2.5 for the season premiere of “Castle” (down from a 3.2).

Fox’s lineup of “Bones” (2.2 average in 18-49, down from a 2.3 last week) and “The Mob Doctor” (1.3 average, down from a 1.5) was lost in the shuffle, with the network coming in a distant fourth overall.

NBC finished with a winning 4.0 average in 18-49 for prime time, followed by CBS (2.7), ABC (2.6) and Fox (1.7). In total viewers, ABC came out on top with 13.4 million, followed by NBC (11.0 million), CBS (8.4 million) and Fox (3.7 million).

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Here's What Should Have Happened After the Blown Call by the NFL Replacement Officials Monday Night

The blown call by the replacement officials working the “Monday Night Football” game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers is all anyone in the sports world is talking about this week -- with fans, players and sports analysts all outraged and disappointed with the NFL.

The solution? It just might be surprisingly simple. Click here to read what TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross says should have already happened.

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Syndicated Show Surges in Ratings, Raises Pressure on 'Jeopardy!' and 'Wheel' in Key Demo

A shakeup may be taking place in the syndication rankings, with segment leaders “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” getting increased pressure from “Family Feud.”

“Feud” saw a 50% ratings surge for its 14th-season debut, scoring a 3.9 in households to rank No. 4 among all first-run strips, distributor Debmar-Mercury and producer FremantleMedia North America reported. In the key demo of women 25-54, “Feud” surged 46% to a 1.9, topping “Jeopardy!” (1.5) and tying “Wheel.”

“According to the national ranking report for the week ended Sept. 16, the fast-rising ‘Feud,’ hosted by highly popular multi-hyphenate stand-up comedian, actor, author, deejay and new talk show host Steve Harvey, also leapt 30% year-to-year from a 3.0 average household rating during the recently concluded 2011-12 season,” the companies said in a press release.

Debmar-Mercury has secured additional clearances for the show between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. -- increasing the exposure for “Feud” in the period from “a handful of stations to more than 70% of its national lineup,” the announcement notes, adding that the show has already been renewed through 2015.

Click here to read the full announcement from Debmar-Mercury and Fremantle.

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NBC's 'Today' Show Brings Aboard a New Co-Host

NBC’s morning show "Today" has tapped a new co-host for the show's third hour at 9 a.m., reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

Willie Geist, who co-hosts the MSNBC morning show "Morning Joe," will also provide backup for Matt Lauer, the longtime host of "Today’s” 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. hours, the piece adds.

Despite the new job, Geist will still have a finger in "Morning Joe," most likely in the 6 a.m. hour. But he will stop hosting "Way Too Early," the 5:30 a.m. newscast that has aired before "Morning Joe" for a few years, the story adds.

willie-geist.jpgWillie Geist

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Lindsay Lohan Hospitalized

Lindsay Lohan was rushed to a New York City emergency room Sunday, and the actress says her health situation is related to that incident earlier this month when she reportedly bumped into a pedestrian with her Porsche.

TMZ.com reports that Lohan’s hospitalization was due to a lung infection, with what is described as a pre-existing pneumonia reportedly being aggravated by stress related to her latest arrest.

“Lindsay's telling friends the arrest caused her so much anxiety, it landed her in the hospital -- exacerbating the ‘walking pneumonia’ she's been suffering from the last few weeks,” TMZ reports.

As previously reported, Lohan was arrested in New York after the incident involving the pedestrian.

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Let's Make the Primetime Emmys a Better Show. Here's a Blueprint. With Resolve and Guild Approval, It Can Happen

Is anyone really happy with the Primetime Emmys as a TV show? TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross has some ideas on how the Primetime Emmycast can be improved. All that's needed is the resolve to make it happen.

To read what changes Ross proposes, please click here.

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Star of 'One Day at a Time' Diagnosed With Cancer

One of the stars of the 1975-1984 comedy series "One Day at a Time" has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and is undergoing treatment, reports USA Today.

Bonnie Franklin played Ann Romano, a divorced mom, on the CBS show. She also appeared on "Hot in Cleveland" last year, which reunited her with her co-star on "One Day at a Time," Valerie Bertinelli.

Franklin, 68, was nominated for an Emmy and two Golden Globes for her role as Romano. She currently plays Sister Celeste, a nun, in a recurring role on the CBS soap opera "The Young and the Restless."

bonnie-franklin.jpgBonnie Franklin

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Who Will Step In to Run CNN? The List of Candidates Includes Sony's Howard Stringer and the Former Boss of NBC

In looking for a new chief to revive the fading fortunes of CNN, Time Warner executives have reached out to top media executives including Sony Chairman Howard Stringer, reports the New York Post.

Current CNN chief Jim Walton is slated to leave the network, with his contract expiring at the end of the year. Turner Broadcasting chief Phil Kent has been secretly meeting with candidates who might replace Walton, the piece adds. Kent “is under pressure to come up with a leader who can breathe new life into CNN, which critics have attacked as deadly dull,” the story notes.

The office for Stringer, who stepped down as Sony's chief executive earlier this year but has remained as chairman, declined to comment.

Another executive on the list is former NBCUniversal President and CEO Jeff Zucker, while Time Warner is also likely to consider broadcast news chiefs including former ABC News President David Westin and Neal Shapiro, who headed NBC News, the piece adds.

A CNN insider cited in the story said: “We should know something in a month, perhaps before the elections. Unlike CNN International, we just don’t have someone with a mission. We need our Roger Ailes.”

The Ailes reference is a nod to cable news rival Fox News, which has been building a huge ratings lead over CNN under the leadership of Ailes.

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Coen Brothers Adapting One of Their Most Acclaimed Movies Into a TV Show

Ethan and Joel Coen, known for a string of acclaimed feature films, have closed a deal to adapt one of those movies -- the Oscar-winning comedic crime drama “Fargo” -- into a TV show for FX, Deadline.com reports.

"Fargo," released in 1996, received seven Academy Award nominations, including best picture and best director for Joel Coen, with Frances McDormand winning the Oscar for her lead role and the Coen brothers winning for best screenplay.

The Coens will executive produce the hourlong project, with former NBC executive Warren Littlefield, the story notes. "My Generation" creator Noah Hawley will write and executive produce the project.

The movie starred McDormand as a Minnesota police chief, who, while pregnant, tracks down two criminals hired by a local salesman to kidnap his wife, the story notes.

It's not the first time an attempt was made to remake the movie for TV. In 2003 MGM TV tried to adapt the film, but without the Coen brothers' participation. (The movie belongs to MGM's library.) The pilot in that effort starred Edie Falco and was directed by Kathy Bates, the story notes.

The Coens’ many other successful films include “True Grit,” “No Country for Old Men,” “The Big Lebowski,” “Barton Fink,” “Miller’s Crossing” and “Raising Arizona.”

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Fox and Endemol Are Sued Over 'Trick Question' on Game Show

Two former game show contestants on "Million Dollar Money Drop" are suing Fox and show producer Endemol, claiming the show cheated them out of $580,000 with a trick question, reports TMZ.com.

The question was: "According to the data security firm IMPERVA, what is the most common computer password?" The potential answers are listed below:

A) Password

B) 123456

C) I Love You

Andrew and Patricia Murray, who appeared on the show in 2011, answered "B," which they guessed based on knowledge of surveys and articles on the issue, but they were told they were wrong, according to the story. The show said the answer was "A," and the couple lost out.

The lawsuit alleges that Endemol tricked them, because IMPERVA based its result on a single hacking incident in 2009. If the couple “would have known that the question was pertaining to a random, single incident ... they would have hedged their bets and played differently," the lawsuit says.

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NBC Touts Records Set by New Series

NBC is happy about the results for a new series, getting word out that the show has set records for time-shifted viewing.

The series is the drama “Revolution,” which premiered Sept. 17. The network says the show has set time-shifting records for NBC and for a premiering series on any network.

“In ‘live plus three day’ ratings from Nielsen Media Research that count time-shifted viewing through the first three days after a show’s live telecast, the ‘Revolution’ premiere grew by 1.36 rating points from its ‘live plus same day’ rating (a 4.09) to its ‘live plus three day’ rating (5.45),” the network announced.

“That 1.36-point increase is the biggest gain going from L+SD to L+3 for any NBC telecast ever. It’s also the biggest increase for any series premiere on any network ever, with the previous high being 1.14 last fall for Fox’s ‘The New Girl’).”

The only series on the big four broadcast networks to do better than a 1.36 gain from “live plus same day” to “live plus three day” have been “Modern Family,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The New Girl,” “Big Bang Theory,” the post-Super Bowl telecast of “Glee” and the first appearance by Ashton Kutcher on “Two and a Half Men,” the network reports.

The 5.4 average rating in viewers 18-49 for “Revolution” in “live plus three day” results makes the show NBC’s best premiere in almost eight years in a 10 p.m. slot, excluding previews, since “Medium” delivered a 6.3 in January 2005.

“Revolution” has now been seen by a total of 24.2 million viewers who have watched all or part of the premiere or the Wednesday encore, the network said.

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Logo Dumps Paris Hilton Documentary Over Anti-Gay Remarks

Logo has pulled a Paris Hilton documentary from its schedule after the actress was recorded making anti-gay remarks in the back of a New York City taxi, reports the New York Post.

The 2007 documentary "Paris Hilton Inc." was slated to air Monday morning and again on Friday, but Logo sent out a note saying that the show "has been removed from the schedule," the story said. Sources at Logo said Hilton's comments were the reason the documentary was pulled, the piece adds.

In early September, Hilton was secretly recorded by a cab driver, who taped the reality star saying, "Gay guys are the horniest people in the world," and, "They’re disgusting. Dude, most of them probably have AIDS.” Hilton later apologized, the story notes.

Logo replaced “Paris Hilton Inc.” on its schedule with two other documentaries, “The Antics Road Show” and “Pretty Boys,” the report notes.

paris-hilton.jpgParis Hilton

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Sony Pictures TV Signs 'Moulin Rouge' Director Baz Luhrmann to Two-Year Deal

Sony Pictures Television has signed film director, writer and producer Baz Luhrmann to a two-year development deal, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Luhrmann, who is known for directing "Moulin Rouge," “Romeo + Juliet,” “Australia” and other movies, will develop broadcast and cable projects, through his Bazmark Films company, the story says. He will work with Bazmark co-founder Catherine Martin and longtime producer Anton Monsted as part of the deal.

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ABC Buys a Second Pilot Starring Mandy Moore

For the second consecutive season, ABC has bought a pilot starring Mandy Moore, reports Deadline.com. The new comedy project is called "Miss Most Likely," and landed at ABC in a competitive situation, the story notes. Moore stars as a 28-year-old who runs away from home to start her life -- but her family comes along with her.

The project is from 20th Century Fox TV and 21 Laps/Adelstein, and is written by Rich Appel of "The Cleveland Show."

Moore's project last season, also from 20th and 21 Laps Adelstein, got to the pilot stage and was reportedly in strong consideration for a series pickup at ABC.

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WPIX-TV Personality Taping Court Show for Tribune

WPIX-TV personality Lionel, whose real name is Michael William Lebron, is taping a court show pilot with Tribune, which hopes to develop the program to add to its block of talk shows and court programs such as "People's Court," reports B&C.

Lionel, a radio host on WOR in New York, also appears on WPIX's morning show and its 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts. His radio show was nationally syndicated on the WOR Radio Network. Lionel is an attorney and in the late 1990s hosted Court TV's "Snap Judgment."

The new show, produced in Chicago by ITV Studios America, hasn't found a distributor yet, the story notes. ITV Studios America also produces "Cunningham," Fox's "Hell's Kitchen" and Raycom's "America Now," the piece adds.

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NBC Buys Drama from J.J. Abrams, 'Harry Potter' Director

NBC has given a pilot production commitment to a project from J.J. Abrams and filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron, who received Oscar nominations for writing "Y Tu Mama Tambien" and "Children of Men," both of which he also directed, reports Deadline.com.

The project, Cuaron's first entry into U.S. television, is about a girl with powers that will mature in seven years, and a man who is released from prison who tries to protect her, the story says.

The untitled project is from Warner Bros. TV and Abrams' studio-based Bad Robot, according the piece.

Cuaron also directed “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”

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Hey Chevy, Shut Up Already. Chevy Chase Opens His Mouth and Again Rips the Show He's On, NBC's 'Community.' Says Working on a TV Sitcom Is the 'Lowest Form of TV.'

In a recent chat on the UK edition of The Huffington Post, former "Saturday Night Live" not-ready-for-prime-time player Chevy Chase was cantankerous as he condemned his current NBC sitcom "Community," reports New York Magazine.

Chase said he joined the show only for the money, commenting: "It was a big mistake. I saw this pilot script, thought that it was funny, and I went into the room where they were casting and said, 'I would love to play this guy.' Then they mulled it over. Then they hired me and I just sort of hung around because I have three daughters and a wife, and I figured out I might as well make some bread, every week, so I can take care of them in the way they want."

Chase described working on television comedy as the "lowest form of television," but he did throw a bone to his co-workers, saying, "I think the reason I have stuck around is because I love these kids, the cast -- they are very good."

All in all, he would rather be on the big screen. “I prefer movies because the money is better and certainly because you really know where you stand when you are making movies, and I have made a lot of them: 50 something, I don't know,” Chase said. “The hours in this kind of show are not commensurate with the actual product. The hours are hideous, and it's still a sitcom on television, which is probably the lowest form of television.”

He also listed some of his regrets over film roles he says he turned down. “I turned down 'Forrest Gump,' I turned down 'American Gigolo,' there are many films -- like 'Ghostbusters' -- that I turned down,” Chase said. “The first one I did was 'Foul Play' with Goldie Hawn, but I turned down 'Animal House' -- I turned that down. So all those I regret only because they made huge amounts of money and I would be very wealthy …"

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Sunday's Emmys Broadcast Brings Mixed Results in the Nielsens

Sunday night’s telecast of “The 64th Primetime Emmy Awards,” hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, gave ABC something to crow about in the ratings, with the broadcast apparently attracting a bigger total audience than Fox’s Emmys telecast a year ago. But Sunday’s show appears to have taken a dip in the key 18-49 demo, according to Nielsen overnight data cited by TVbytheNumbers.com.

Ratings for the night will be subject to more than the usual adjustments, TVbytheNumbers notes, due to the live nature of a number of broadcasts -- including the Emmys themselves, along with NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” and NFL overruns on CBS and Fox.

ABC reported that the ceremony delivered an average of 13.2 total viewers, improving by 6% on the 12.4 million who turned out a year ago for Fox’s Emmys. The network noted that the show also did better than the last time it was on ABC, four years ago, growing by almost 1 million viewers over the 12.3 million who tuned in for the 2008 telecast.

The network noted that Sunday’s telecast outdelivered three of the past five Emmys ceremonies. Also, according to an ABC estimate, 31.0 million unique viewers tuned in for at least some part of the broadcast (watching six minutes or more of the show).

“One night prior to the start of the 2012-13 TV Season, the ‘Emmy Awards’ offered ABC a broad promotional platform for its fall lineup,” the network noted in a statement. The broadcast was the top entertainment program of the night, the network added, and trailed only NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” among all programs.

The Emmys delivered a 3.8 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, according to time zone-adjusted fast nationals from Nielsen. That number was down from the 4.2 on Fox a year ago, TVbytheNumbers reports.

NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” broadcast of the Baltimore Ravens’ victory over the New England Patriots came in with an 8.1 average rating in viewers 18-49, easily the top program of the night. The number was down from an 8.9 a week ago, but was the best rating in four years for week three of the NFL season.

Other than football-related and Emmys-related programming, everything on the major broadcast nets was repeats. For prime time overall, NBC coasted to an easy win with a 6.4 average rating in the 18-49 demo, followed by CBS (3.0 average), ABC (2.9) and Fox (1.5). In total viewers it was NBC on top with 15.9 million, followed by CBS (11.4 million), ABC (10.5 million) and Fox (3.4 million).

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AMC's 'Mad Men' Sets an Emmys Record -- but Not in a Good Way

AMC’s drama series “Mad Men” has basked in more than its share of accolades, but the show set a record at Sunday’s Emmys ceremony that won't go down as one of its proudest achievements.

“Mad Men” became the losingest series ever in a single Emmys ceremony, New York Magazine reports. The show was nominated in 17 categories and failed to win in all 17. It topped the record shared by “Northern Exposure” and “The Larry Sanders Show,” both of which had nights when they went 0-for-16.

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Star of Lifetime's 'Army Wives' Poised to Leave the Series

Lifetime renewed “Army Wives” for a seventh season last week, as previously reported, but now it appears that the show may have to carry on without its star, Kim Delaney.

Deadline.com reports that Lifetime and ABC Studios, which produces the series, would not confirm the return of any cast members, holding off on an announcement until closer to the beginning of production. The production schedule has not been locked in yet, the report notes.

“Speculation about Delaney possibly exiting ‘Army Wives’ has been percolating for a while,” the story reports. “This past season, ‘Army Wives’ introduced a new cast member, Kelli Williams, which was considered a potential move to ensure a smooth transition and fill a void if Delaney were to leave.”

The future of other cast members is also in limbo, the story reports. Other than Williams, who is locked in, and Catherine Bell, who signed a new two-year agreement in May, the cast members reportedly had their contracts expire at the end of season six and do not yet have deals for season seven.

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'Bethenny' Talk Show Makes Key Sale en Route to Nationwide Syndication Launch

Following a six-week test run last summer, Warner Bros. Television Group’s upcoming talk show “Bethenny,” starring Bethenny Frankel, is on track for a 2013 launch. The show has been picked up by Fox Television Stations, it was announced by Frank Cicha, Senior Vice President of Programming, Fox Television Stations, and Ken Werner, President, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution.

Cicha said in a statement: “This is what can happen if you put something different in daytime -- the ratings prove it. Throughout this test, the Bethenny program pushed boundaries, overhauling traditional talk topics with an energy and freshness we haven’t seen in a long time. Congrats to Bethenny Frankel and the entire Warner Bros. team for playing like winners on this one.”

The announcement states: “This one-hour daily talk show, hosted by Bethenny Frankel and executive produced by Bethenny and Ellen DeGeneres, debuted in June 2012 for a six-week test on Fox-owned stations in New York (WNYW), Los Angeles (KTTV), Philadelphia (WTXF), Dallas (KDFW), Phoenix (KSAZ) and Minneapolis (KMSP). Across all six markets, the show improved on May 2012 time periods by +80% in W25-54 and +100% in A25-54, and ranging from +22% in Philadelphia to a +100% in Dallas to a high of +250% in Los Angeles. After being sold to Fox Television Stations, ‘Bethenny’ will now be offered to stations in remaining markets nationwide for a national syndication launch in 2013.”

The show will debut on Fox-owned stations in 17 markets: New York (WNYW), Los Angeles (KTTV), Chicago (WFLD), Philadelphia (WTXF), Dallas (KDFW), Boston (WFXT), Atlanta (WAGA), D.C. (WTTG), Houston (KRIV), Detroit (WJBK), Phoenix (KSAZ), Tampa (WTVT), Minneapolis (KMSP), Orlando (WOFL), Memphis (WHBQ), Austin (KTBC) and Ocala (WOGX).

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HBO Unveils Plans to End Drama Series

HBO has rolled out plans to wrap things up on a drama series. The pay-cable channel will conclude the David Simon drama "Treme" with a shortened fourth season, reports Nola.com.

Co-creators Simon and Eric Overmyer announced the show's ending at a screening for production participants on Saturday, the piece notes. The total number of episodes, as well as the fourth season's premiere date, aren't yet known, the story adds.

Simon had previously said he planned to wrap up the series in four seasons, and HBO recently agreed to an abbreviated fourth season. Simon said cast members signed on during the past week -- a process that was made a bit more complicated by the shorter season, the piece notes.

In his pre-screening remarks Saturday, Simon said: “We are going to be back for a season 3.5. HBO, upon viewing the 10 [season-three episodes] that we gave them and what we’ve done, they want to see the end of the story. They fought very hard to give us half a loaf. We’re going to take it and run.”

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How CNN Got in Trouble With the State Department

The cable news channel CNN has come under fire from the U.S. State Department and the family of Christopher Stevens, the slain American ambassador to Libya, for broadcasting reports based on the ambassador's personal journal, reports The Wall Street Journal. (Please note that the WSJ is a subscription site and not all readers may be able to access the story.)

CNN obtained Stevens' journal in Benghazi, where he was one of four Americans killed Sept. 11 in an attack on the U.S. consulate, the story says. It's not clear how the network obtained it, the piece adds

“By finding and using Mr. Stevens' personal handwritten thoughts, CNN provoked an unusually sharp condemnation from top officials at the State Department, who called the network's conduct ‘disgusting,’" the story reports.

Philippe Reines, senior adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, commented: "Not a proud moment in CNN's history."

CNN on Saturday said that it "felt there were issues raised in the journal which required full reporting." On its website, CNN said it had notified the Stevens family "within hours" that it had obtained the journal. In a conference call between the family and CNN, organized by the State Department, the family asked CNN to return the journal and not to broadcast or publish its contents.

Family members said CNN agreed to wait until the family had had a chance to review the journal.

But both U.S. officials and family members were surprised when CNN anchor Anderson Cooper then seemed to use information from the journal, such as that Stevens was reportedly worried about security threats in Benghazi, the story says. Cooper attributed it to a source familiar with the ambassador's thinking, the piece notes.

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64th Primetime Emmy Awards: 'Mad Men' Winning Streak Comes to an End; Here's the List of Winners

After winning the Emmy for outstanding drama series four years in a row, AMC’s “Mad Men” ran into a juggernaut at Sunday’s 64th Primetime Emmy Awards, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Showtime’s "Homeland" broke "Mad Men’s" winning streak, taking not only outstanding drama series but also outstanding lead actress in a drama, Claire Danes, and outstanding lead actor, Damian Lewis.

On the comedy side, ABC’s “Modern Family” won the Emmy for outstanding comedy series for the third time in a row, while the show’s Julie Bowen and Eric Stonestreet were honored with trophies for their supporting roles.

The awards presentation was "largely predictable yet again," writes James Hibberd in EW.com's Inside TV.

"Still, there were several wins in key categories that prompted gasps in the backstage press room and proved prognosticators don’t always get it right," he notes.

Among those surprises: Giancarlo Esposito didn't win for best supporting actor in a drama for “Breaking Bad.” Instead, Aaron Paul of the same show took home the award. Esposito's performance as Gus Fring had many predicting he would win, Hibberd notes.

Lewis' win for "Homeland" was also a surprise, with Bryan Cranston of "Breaking Bad" favored to win and some hoping Jon Hamm of "Mad Men" would capture the award.

Jon Cryer's trophy for best comedy actor was another unpredicted win. Cryer had previously won an Emmy for his "Two and a Half Men" role in 2009, but that was in the supporting category. "Critics were pulling for 'Louie's’ Louis C.K., while others thought '30 Rock's’ Alec Baldwin might stage a comeback," Hibberd notes.

In the best actor in a movie or miniseries role, Kevin Costner won for his work in "Hatfields & McCoys." Costner’s win had some fans of Benedict Cumberbatch in "Sherlock" upset, Hibberd notes.

Here’s a list of the winners:

Outstanding drama series: "Homeland"

Outstanding comedy series: "Modern Family"

Outstanding miniseries or movie: "Game Change"

Outstanding lead actress in a drama series: Claire Danes, "Homeland"

Outstanding lead actor in a drama series: Damian Lewis, "Homeland"

Outstanding supporting actress in a drama series: Maggie Smith, "Downton Abbey"

Outstanding supporting actor in a drama series: Aaron Paul, "Breaking Bad"

Outstanding directing for a drama series: Tim Van Patten, "Boardwalk Empire"

Outstanding writing for a drama series: Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Gideon Raff, "Homeland"

Outstanding lead actress in a comedy series: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep"

Outstanding lead actor in a comedy series: Jon Cryer, "Two and a Half Men"

Outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series: Julie Bowen, "Modern Family"

Outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series: Eric Stonestreet, "Modern Family"

Outstanding directing in a comedy series: Steve Levitan, "Modern Family"

Outstanding writing for a comedy series: Louis C.K., "Louie"

Outstanding lead actor in a miniseries or movie: Kevin Costner, "Hatfields & McCoys"

Outstanding lead actress in a miniseries or movie: Julianne Moore, "Game Change"

Outstanding supporting actor in a miniseries or movie: Tom Berenger, "Hatfields & McCoys"

Outstanding supporting actress in a miniseries or movie: Jessica Lange, "American Horror Story"

Outstanding directing for a miniseries or movie: Jay Roach, "Game Change"

Outstanding writing for a miniseries or movie: Danny Strong, "Game Change"

Outstanding variety series: "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart

Outstanding directing for a variety special: Glenn Weiss, "65th Annual Tony Awards"

Outstanding writing for a variety special: Louis C.K., "Louie C.K. Live at the Beacon Theatre"

Outstanding host for a reality show: Tom Bergeron, "Dancing with the Stars"

Outstanding reality-competition program: "The Amazing Race"

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Netflix to Get Streaming Competitor by the Holidays

Netflix will have a new competitor in streaming video by the holidays, reports Bloomberg. The new entry in the space comes from Redbox and Verizon Communications, who are preparing a joint challenge, the story reports.

Called Redbox Instant by Verizon, the service will first focus on newer movies that are also available for rental and sale, the story notes, citing Eric Bruno, Verizon’s vice president of strategy and planning for consumer and mass business markets.

Verizon and Redbox are focused on creating a service "that can stand on its own against Netflix, against Amazon,” Bruno said. The service hasn't announced pricing yet.

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Why a Few TV Stations Will Make a Ton of Money on the Election

TV stations stand to make a lot of money on the presidential election if they happen to be located in certain areas, NPR reports.

The story cites as an example Colorado Springs, Colo., where four years ago -- when the town was also a key region in a swing state -- 30-second spots that would normally go for $300 to $500 went as high as $7,000 when one of the national campaigns came in with money at the last minute.

“Spend time watching TV in Colorado Springs, Colo., and you'll feel as though Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are King Kong and Godzilla, planted at the foot of the Front Range mountains for an epic fight that still has seven weeks to go,” the story reports. “This city is home to fewer than half a million people, yet campaign spending here has tripled since 2008, landing it among the top 10 advertising markets in the country.”

Spending is expected to be even higher this year than it was in 2008, the report says.

“This year everything is super-sized -- except for the number of swing states in play. So a bigger pot of money is getting pumped into a smaller pool of states,” the story reports.

The report adds: “Broadcasters know there is a small window of time when they can charge a premium and campaigns will pay it. Campaigns have to get rid of their cash, because it will be useless the day after an election.”

Said Ken Goldstein of Kantar Media, a company that tracks political ad spending: "I've been someone who always sort of pooh-poohs 'This is the record year. But this really is a year when there is such focus on relatively few markets that the levels of advertising we're seeing are really uncharted waters."

According to research from Goldstein's firm, political advertisers spent more than $300,000 in Colorado Springs last week -- three times what they spent during the same time frame four years ago. And Colorado Springs is not the only market experiencing a boom.

“In Dayton, Ohio, since the beginning of the general election, ad spending has tripled compared to 2008,” NPR reports. “In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, political advertisers have spent six times what they did in 2008. In Richmond, Va., the increase is tenfold.”

Nationwide, ad spending is approximately double what it was in 2008, but in certain second-tier markets the increase is far greater.

“Even adjusting for the fact that fewer swing states are sharing a bigger pot of money, it seems that second-tier cities are getting much more attention than usual,” the piece reports. “Colorado Springs is not an obvious place for all of this presidential action. Republicans outnumber Democrats in El Paso County more than 2 to 1. Barack Obama lost this part of Colorado to John McCain by 19 points in 2008.”

The report adds: “Presidential campaigns know exactly the margin of victory or defeat that they have to hit in each town in order to carry an entire state.”

“Although no one suggests that President Obama will win Colorado Springs, whether he loses it by 15 or 25 points could determine whether he carries Colorado.”

A similar dynamic is also working in other secondary markets, such as Charlottesville, Va., the report notes.

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Is 'Good Morning America' Using Robin Roberts' Illness as a Promotional Opportunity?

ABC appears to be turning Robin Roberts' illness into a promotional opportunity for "Good Morning America," according to a column in the Chicago Sun-Times by prominent television critic Tom Shales.

"On every edition of 'GMA,' there are shout-outs, warm wishes and detailed reports pertaining to Roberts' condition. She has been seen in remotes from the hospital, and the sympathetic outpourings of viewers have been heavily documented," Shales writes.

"We all wish Robin Roberts well. And we hope she is not being charged with sick days, considering the fact that her illness has practically become another character in the show's cast," he adds.

Since Roberts' departure, the show's ratings have been strong, notes The Hollywood Reporter. "''GMA' has been Number One in the adults 25-54 demo since she began her medical leave on Aug. 31, and has been steadily gaining total viewers," the story points out.

A representative for ABC News said, "To be clear, we are keeping faith with our viewers, who are deeply interested in Robin’s journey. We are also mindful that Robin derives great strength from the overwhelming outpouring of love. That Tom wouldn’t understand is no surprise around here," reports TVNewser.com.

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Layoff Show -- Where Workers Vote to Fire Co-Workers -- in the Works at Fox

A layoff show that features employees voting to fire co-workers is in the works at Fox, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

A similar idea was considered in 2009, with Fox mulling a project called "Someone's Gotta Go," but the pilot never aired after the project was criticized as insensitive, the piece notes.

Fox is now in discussions to pick up "Does Someone Have to Go," which is said to be not quite as harsh as the earlier project, as the firings will be optional. The businesses featured also won't be economically distressed, as as they were in the 2009 project.

The order would be for four episodes, the story notes.

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'Battlestar Galactica' Producer Working on Adaptation of Heath Ledger Movie for ABC

"Battlestar Galactica" executive producer Ron Moore is working on a version of the 2001 Heath Ledger movie "A Knight's Tale" for ABC, reports Deadline.com.

The film is a romance-adventure story that featured jousting tournaments set to popular rock songs. Ledger played a peasant pretending to be a knight.

The series is likely to remain close in concept to the movie, the story says. Moore is writing and executive producing. ABC has given the project a script commitment.

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Seth MacFarlane and 'Ted' Writers Sell Live-Action Comedy to Fox

Seth MacFarlane and writers from the feature film “Ted” have received a put-pilot with series penalty commitment from Fox for a live-action comedy, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The untitled project will be written and executive produced by "Ted" co-writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, with MacFarlane set to executive produce. The comedy is about two successful 30-something men whose lives get upturned when their crazy fathers move in with them, the story notes.

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Netflix Drops 800 Hours of A&E Content

Netflix has dropped about 800 hours of A&E Networks content, including "Storage Wars" and "American Pickers," reports TheWrap.com.

The content was pulled after a contract to stream the content expired, the story notes. About 300 hours that weren't covered in the agreement are still on Netflix, although that contract expires in June.

Netflix wanted greater exclusivity from A&E, and with the two sides unable to reach an agreement, the contract expired, the piece notes. The two sides are still talking and the programming could be restored. A representative for Netflix didn't immediately respond for comment, the story says.

Other programming that was pulled includes “Hoarders” and “Pawn Stars.”

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ABC Buys Comedies from Ben Stiller

ABC has bought two comedies from Ben Stiller, with one of them based on his life, reports Deadline.com. The comedies, from Stiller's Red Hour Television, are "Please Knock" and "The Notorious Mollie Flowers," the story notes. Both are produced by ABC Studios.

"Please Knock" is roughly based on Stiller's life, and features an A-list actor who worries he's losing touch with his family and reality. He moves back to the building in NYC where he grew up and where his parents still live.

"Mollie Flowers" is about a do-gooder who is exonerated after being falsely accused of a crime, and decides to start focusing on herself for a change, the story notes.

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'Must-Skip TV?' NBC Rolls Out Its New Thursday Night Lineup -- and It Falls Flat

Memories of “Must-See TV” are growing ever more distant. NBC unveiled its new Thursday night programming lineup last night, only to see it greeted by a less than stellar turnout among viewers.

Citing Nielsen overnights, TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the entire lineup was down significantly from earlier markers in the key 18-49 demo. “SNL Weekend Update Thursday” debuted to a 1.6 average rating -- down only 6% from what “Community” delivered in the time slot a year earlier, but also down a hefty 69% from a similarly themed election special the network aired in October 2008.

The season premiere of “Up All Night” settled for a 1.3 in viewers 18-49, down 46% from its premiere a year ago (on a Wednesday) and down 38% from the number for “Parks & Recreation” in the time period a year ago. “The Office” tied its lowest-rated episode ever with a 2.1, down 46% from last year’s season premiere.

“Parks & Recreation’s” season premiere was down “only” 19% from its season premiere a year ago, with a 1.7 vs. a 2.1 in viewers 18-49. “Rock Center with Brian Williams” was down too, pulling a 1.1, off 21% from last week.

Over on Fox, the news was better. “The X Factor” improved on last week’s number by 10%, delivering a 3.4 average rating in the 18-49 demo. “Glee,” however, was down 6% from last week with a 2.9.

ABC’s only fresh program of the night, “Wipeout,” which aired its season finale, wasn’t enough to lift the network out of last place among the major broadcast nets. “Wipeout” did improve on last week’s number in 18-49 by 27%, but still delivered only a 1.4.

Fox wound up easily winning the night, while CBS’s all-repeat lineup beat everyone else. Fox averaged a 3.1 rating in adults 18-49, followed by CBS (1.8 average), NBC (1.5), Univision (1.4) and ABC (1.2). Total viewers was closer, but Fox led the way with 8.6 million, followed by CBS (7.4 million), NBC (4.0 million), ABC (4.0 million) and Univision (3.3 million).

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Video: 'West Wing' Cast Reunites for Quirky Campaign Ad

Cast members from “The West Wing” -- including Martin Sheen, Allison Janney and Lily Tomlin -- got back together for an unusual campaign ad done in the style of the long-running NBC drama.

Time magazine reports that actress Mary McCormack, known for USA's "In Plain Sight" as well as for "West Wing," got the group together to make the spot at least partly in support of her sister -- Bridget Mary McCormack, a University of Michigan law professor who’s running for the state Supreme Court.

The spot also addresses problems encountered by voters because of the way the ballot is presented at the polling booth.

Mary McCormack leads the reassembled cast, which includes Sheen as President Jed Bartlett, Tomlin as Debbie and Janney as C.J., along with Richard Schiff (Toby), Bradley Whitford (Josh), Joshua Malina (Will) and Janel Moloney (Donna), among others. The actors appear as their “West Wing” characters.

The clip includes winks to “West Wing” viewers throughout, as it re-creates the style and setting of the Emmy-winning series. MSNBC televised the video Thursday night on "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell."

Here it is:

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Lifetime Renews Drama Series

Lifetime has given a renewal to a long-running drama series, Deadline.com reports. Premiering in 2013 will be season seven of “Army Wives.”

The network ordered 13 episodes. Season six, in which the series delivered an average of 3.2 million viewers, wrapped up Sept. 9. The number is down from the show’s peak, but still a solid performance.

The show stars Kim Delaney and Catherine Bell, and is based on the book “Army Wives: The Unwritten Code of Military Marriage,” by Tanya Biank. Biank is a consulant on the series.

Word is still out on whether Lifetime will bring back “Drop Dead Diva,” the story notes.

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Sharon Osbourne Has More Unkind Words for NBC and Bob Greenblatt

Sharon Osbourne has opened up again about her unhappiness with NBC, savaging the network and NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

“The outspoken reality personality continues to lash out at the network that employed her as a judge on ‘America's Got Talent’ after a public falling out over her son Jack Osbourne's role in its summer reality entry ‘Stars Earn Stripes,’” the publication reports.

Osbourne, who recently compared NBC to the Titanic, said Greenblatt is “not well,” after Greenblatt reportedly lashed out at Osbourne over the Titanic comment.

“NBC reality chief Paul Telegdy, meanwhile, told THR recently that while the network has five years of options on Osbourne, ‘You can never really coerce a performer into performing if they don't want to. We don't want to force anyone to do one of the best jobs in TV,’” the story reports.

NBC declined to comment on the latest verbal volley from Osbourne.

Here are a few highlights from the interview:

THR: Are you still planning on leaving America's Got Talent?
Sharon Osbourne: Oh God, yes! I've left. I'm gone. I won't go back. Greatest show, I love the show, but I really don't like NBC, and that's why I wouldn't go back. I don't like them; they treat their talent like shit! Not that I'm a talent, but I'm an employee, and they treat you like shit.

THR: Have you negotiated out of your contract?
Osbourne: They don't want me, and I don't want them. I never want to hear from them again.

THR: Have you spoken with Bob Greenblatt?
Osbourne: No. I asked to see him, but he wouldn't see me. I asked to see him a good four to five weeks ago; sent him an e-mail. But he wouldn't see me.

THR: You've had no correspondence with him?
Osbourne: No. I went on the David Letterman show, and then he sent an e-mail to my agent saying he didn't like it when I said the word Titanic. I didn't know that he had anything to do with the Titanic. Why should he care if I used or say the word Titanic. I don't think he's well, bless him.

Please click here to read the entire interview.

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'Dallas' Reboot Picks Up Another Cast Member From the Original

Another one of the original stars of "Dallas" will be joining TNT’s new incarnation of the prime-time soap, TV Guide reports. Audrey Landers, who originated the role of Afton Cooper, Cliff Barnes' (Ken Kercheval) lover, will be part of the show's second season.

Landers told the publication, "I do not know for how many episodes or when, but it's a definite. I do know it's not going to be in the beginning of the season. I am just really, really excited, because it feels like going back home. I'm also so happy for the fans who have been so persistent all these months. Now they won't be disappointed!"

TNT's "Dallas" returns for season two in January. While the TNT version focuses on a newer generation of the Ewing clan, Kercheval is one of the cast members from the original CBS show who is already on board with the reboot, along with Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray and others.

audrey-landers.jpgAudrey Landers

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Stephen Colbert Lands Role on NBC's 'The Office'

The NBC comedy series "The Office" has cast Stephen Colbert, the host of Comedy Central’s "The Colbert Report," as a character called Broccoli Rob, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Broccoli Rob is a member of Here Comes Treble, Andy's a cappella group. He also tells a different story about the group's history, heating up the rivalry between himself and Andy, the story says.

Colbert will appear on the Oct. 25 episode.

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Report: 'X Factor' Close to Signing Familiar TV Personality as New Host

The Fox talent competition show "The X Factor" has settled on its new host, according to a report in the New York Post, and is close to signing a deal giving the job to "Extra" host Mario Lopez.

Lopez, 38, would be paired with Khloe Kardashian, with the two emceeing together when the program starts live shows next month, the story notes. Lopez will retain his role on "Extra," which tapes close to where "The X Factor" is based in Los Angeles, the story says.

Lopez and Kardashian will be replacing Steve Jones, who was let go last winter when creator Simon Cowell shook things up on the program after a disappointing ratings performance.

mario-lopez.jpgMario Lopez

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Why MSNBC Is Suddenly Soaring in the Ratings -- Even Scoring a Win Over Fox News

MSNBC is having a good week in the ratings, and the reason is clear, according to Bill Carter, writing in The New York Times’ Media Decoder.

Chalk it up to news of a hidden video of presidential hopeful Mitt Romney criticizing 47% of Americans, Carter writes. MSNBC was seemingly also helped by Fox News, which decided to ignore the story for much of its prime-time schedule on Monday, the story says. Many observers think the emergence of the video hurts Romney's chances in the election.

MSNBC started to see a boost in its ratings on Monday among viewers 25-54, with more viewers tuning in on Tuesday, especially to Rachel Maddow's show, the story notes.

On Tuesday, Maddow drew 703,000 viewers 25-54, giving her a win over Fox News. However, that shifted back on Wednesday night, with her competitor, Sean Hannity, pulling in more viewers in the demo (645,000) than Maddow (521,000).

"But the news of late has clearly been good for MSNBC, both in the ratings and apparently in the presidential race," Carter writes. "The home-team effect, which can be seen in how well Fox News does on nights of the Republican convention versus how well MSNBC does during the Democratic convention, is likely at play."

Commenting on Maddow, Carter adds: “She has become, in the centerpiece 9 p.m. hour, the star attraction for the channel, and the results of late have been on a sharp upswing. Her average audience for the year in the 25-54 age group is about 250,000. But for the month of September, until this week, it had jumped to 453,000.”

Leading out of Maddow’s show, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell has also enjoyed a bounce in his head-to-head battle with Fox’s Greta Van Susteren. “On Tuesday, Mr. O’Donnell was well ahead with 535,000 viewers in the 25-54 category, to 383,000 for Ms. Van Susteren,” Carter writes. “On Wednesday he stayed ahead with 531,000, to 458,000 for the Fox host.”

CNN continues to trail both MSNBC and Fox News by a wide margin, the story notes.

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'Dancing With the Stars' Regular Leaving the Show

One of the most popular stars of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" has decided to leave the show after his current contract expires at the end of next year, reports the New York Post.

Maksim Chmerkovskiy told the newspaper, “What else do I have to do there after 15 seasons? It makes total sense. The audience can’t expect for me to want to stick around, and the producers can’t expect for me to want to stick around.”

In the upcoming all-star edition of the show, Chmerkovskiy will reteam with Emmy winner Kirstie Alley.

In the future, he said, he would like to pursue an acting career or do a reality show with his brother, Val. He has reportedly already snagged a lead role in a major studio feature film that is set to begin shooting in January.

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TV's Top Writers -- 'Mad Men,' 'Girls,' 'Hatfields,' 'Homeland' and More -- Sound Off About Sunday's Emmys

As part of the runup to Sunday’s 64th Primetime Emmy Awards, a group of Emmy-nominated television writers gathered Sept. 19 at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills for the annual Sublime Primetime panel discussion.

Among those offering their sometimes snarky -- and always enlightening -- insights were nominees Dave Boone (65th Annual Tony Awards and 84th Annual Academy Awards), Semi Chellas and Matthew Weiner of “Mad Men,” Lena Dunham ("Girls”), Ted Mann (“Hatfields & McCoys”), Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon of "Homeland" and Billy Martin ("Real Time with Bill Maher” and 84th Annual Academy Awards (Special Material)).

TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin was on hand to gather the evening’s best nuggets -- please click here to read her roundup of what a number of TV’s top writers have on their minds.

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Reality Series Hit With Fraud Allegations

After a new reality series was accused of being a fake, the network airing it has issued a statement promising that the allegations will be discussed on the show itself.

According to The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed, the TLC reality show "Breaking Amish" said it will address accusations that its portrayal of five Amish and Mennonite people taking a "rumspringa" in New York City is fake, with some of the subjects having lived outside of their communities for years.

Photos posted on Facebook and MySpace allegedly show that cast members have entered mainstream society, getting married, having children and getting divorced, the story says.

TLC said some of of the information "floating around" is true, but urged critics to watch the show, which will address some of the issues, according to a statement from the network.

"There is a lot of information floating around about the group featured on 'Breaking Amish,'" reads the network statement. "Much of it is not true, but some of it is -- and is addressed in upcoming episodes.”

With two of its 10 episodes having aired, the show has averaged just under 3 million viewers, making it a strong performer for TLC.

TLC is no stranger to controversy surrounding its reality shows, with 2011’s “All-American Muslim” losing advertisers and creating more attention in the media than in the ratings. The channel’s current show “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” has been another lightning rod for criticism.

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Video: Letterman Responds to Mitt Romney's Claim That Letterman Hates Him

In the same secretly taped video where GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney says 47% of Americans are “dependent upon government,” the candidate offers a critique of TV talk shows, TheWrap.com reports.

As previously reported, Romney calls “The View” “high risk” because of its “sharp-tongued” (and mostly non-conservative) co-hosts. Perhaps in response to the leaked video, Romney this week made plans to appear on “The View” anyway, as we reported yesterday.

He also talked about “Saturday Night Live,” which he said “has the potential of looking slapstick, and not presidential.”

In another tidbit to surface from the video, “Romney said [David] Letterman ‘hates’ him for doing ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’ more often than he's done Letterman's show,” TheWrap reports.

"I've been on Letterman a couple of times; I've been on Leno more than a couple of times. And now Letterman hates me because I've been on Leno more than him. They're very jealous of one another, as you know," Romney said, according to TheWrap.

Letterman responded to Romney’s comments on “Late Night.” Here’s the clip:


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Fox Network to Tackle Shakespeare

The Fox Network will be updating one of the best-known plays of William Shakespeare, Deadline.com reports. The channel has bought a drama project remaking “Hamlet” against the backdrop of Washington, D.C.

Called "America's Son," the new drama is about a presidential hopeful who dies in a car crash. His son, a JFK Jr.-type, returns to Washington and discovers the crash wasn't an accident, uncovering family secrets, the story says.

The drama is from writer Paul Redford, Amblin TV and Sony Pictures TV. Redford’s background includes five seasons on “The West Wing” and a stint as co-executive producer on the ABC series “Dirty Sexy Money,” the report notes.

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'GMA' Anchor Robin Roberts Recovering After Bone Marrow Transplant

Robin Roberts, the popular co-anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” was recovering today after undergoing a bone marrow transplant Thursday, ABC News reports.

The procedure was part of her treatment for MDS, a bone marrow disorder that affects the production of blood cells.

“The transplant was a five-minute procedure in which the donor cells from Robin’s sister, Sally-Ann, were injected into Robin’s system through a syringe,” ABC News reported.

Appearing today on “GMA,” Dr. Gail Roboz, the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center oncologist who is treating Roberts, said: “Nobody can believe it. People have in their mind all kinds of images of what can happen in a transplant but it’s still an incredibly powerful moment. Inside of that syringe are millions and millions of stem cells that are now circulating around and trying to find their home and start growing, which is what we’re going to be looking for over the next couple of weeks.”

During the procedure Roberts was surrounded by her siblings and other loved ones, including “World News” anchor Diane Sawyer and “GMA’s” weather anchor, Sam Champion.

“It was an emotional, scary and yet exhilarating moment, one that I’ll never forget,” Champion said.

After the procedure, Roberts said: “I will now wait and anxiously watch and see what happens. In the next seven to 10 days my counts will continue to go up and we’ll be on to phase three, which will be get out of here. Get out of here. Go home. It’s a journey.”

Click here to read ABC News’ full update on Roberts’ treatment, including details about what is expected in the weeks ahead.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Robin-Roberts.jpgRobin Roberts

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Who's Up and Who's Down -- Major League Baseball Closes In on New TV Deals

Major League Baseball is closing in on new television deals with major players Fox and TBS, and it appears that Fox will be gaining a higher profile in the sport while TBS will see its role substantially cut back.

The New York Times reports that Fox will add more playoffs and regular-season games, boosting the TV company's plan to create a new cable channel, while TBS will have fewer games in another deal.

Fox will pay "substantially more" for the rights than the average $257 million it now pays each year with its current contract, the story says. The current contract expires after next season.

Under the new deal, Fox would air two division series and add more regular-season games to its schedule of Saturday games, the World Series, the All-Star Game and one league championship series, the story notes. Some games would be aired on Fox Sports One, an overhauled version of the Speed Channel.

TBS's games would be cut by half, with just 13 Sunday afternoon games under its new contract, compared with 26 previously, and two division series, down from four, the piece notes.

ESPN recently signed on for an eight-year deal worth $5.6 billion, representing a doubling of its annual payments to $700 million.

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FX on Board for Drama From Guillermo del Toro and 'Lost's' Carlton Cuse

Guillermo del Toro is putting the finishing touches on a deal to sell a television adaptation of his book series "The Strain" to FX, with "Lost" writer and executive producer Carlton Cuse signed on to help develop the drama project, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

FX is close to giving a pilot order for "The Strain," about a vampire virus that infects New York and a CDC doctor who is investigating the disease, the story says.

Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, who co-wrote the three books with del Toro, will co-write the pilot, while Cuse will help develop the project if it goes to series and will also be the project's showrunner and an executive producer, the story says.

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'Mike & Molly' Star Melissa McCarthy Sells Project to CBS

"Mike & Molly" star Melissa McCarthy has sold a comedy to CBS, reports Deadline.com. The project, called "Wake Up Call," will be co-executive produced by McCarthy and co-written and co-executive produced by her husband, Ben Falcone, and Larry Dorf, the story says.

The ensemble project tracks a group of friends whose lives are impacted by death sooner than they had expected, the story notes.

CBS last season bought a comedy from the same team, which was in strong consideration for a series pickup, according to the story.

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Goodyear Tire Company Offers to Help Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes

Two troubled starlets who have made the news for, among other things, their driving mishaps have been offered free driving lessons by tire company Goodyear, reports TMZ.com.

The company sent Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes letters telling them, "We're sorry to hear about your latest driving mishap. ... We're concerned for your safety and the safety of those who hit the road each day, and we'd like to help out any way we can."

As previously reported, Lohan was arrested recently in New York City after reportedly hitting a pedestrian with her Porsche. Bynes, meanwhile, had her car impounded after continuing to drive after a judge ordered her to stop.

Goodyear said it will fly the actresses to its Akron headquarters and give them one-on-one lessons with professional drivers, without any paparazzi. The actresses would also get full access to Goodyear's test track, the piece adds.

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Grammy Winning Singer Fiona Apple Arrested on Drug Charges

"Grammy-winning singer Fiona Apple spent the night in a Texas jail after being arrested late Wednesday on a drug possession charge at a border patrol checkpoint where her tour bus was searched, a local judge said," reports Reuters.

According to TMZ, Fiona Apple " 'freely admitted' the hash and the weed on her tour bus belonged to her when cops discovered the drugs last night ... so says the Hudspeth County Sheriff's Office."

The Reuters story contines, "Apple, 35, was taken into custody in Sierra Blanca, the same small West Texas town where authorities previously nabbed singer Willie Nelson, rapper Snoop Dogg and "The Social Network" actor Armie Hammer on drug charges."

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James Murdoch To Run a Major Portion of U.S. TV Business For News Corp., Says Report in News Corp.-Owned Wall Street Journal

"News Corp.is planning to give James Murdoch, son of chairman Rupert Murdoch, oversight of the Fox Networks Group, which includes the Fox broadcast network and cable networks such as FX, say people familiar with the situation," reports Martin Peers and John Jannarone at the website of the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ is also owned by News Corp.[WSJ.com is behind a firewall and may charge you to read this article.]

The article continues, "Mr. Murdoch, [39], is already deputy chief operating officer of News Corp. but the new role will give a clearer picture of his responsibilities. Reporting to him will be Peter Rice, who was recently appointed chairman and chief executive of Fox Networks Group. The Fox Networks Group doesn't include Fox News channel, one of the most lucrative parts of the TV business, or the U.S. TV stations."

According to the international news agency AFP, the U.K.-based Financial Times is also reporting the story.

The AFP report adds that the reports of James Murdoch's expanded responsibilities "come after Britain's media regulator [Ofcom] on Wednesday blasted the younger Murdoch for failing to uncover the [phone] hacking scandal at his father's media empire. Ofcom had been reviewing whether pay-TV giant BSkyB, which is 39-percent owned by News Corp, was "fit and proper" to hold a broadcasting license in the wake of the scandal.

"The watchdog allowed BSkyB to keep broadcasting but said its former chairman James Murdoch 'repeatedly fell short' of his responsibilities as executive chairman of his father's British newspaper wing, News International. 'We consider James Murdoch's conduct, including his failure to initiate action on his own account on a number of occasions, to be both difficult to comprehend and ill-judged,' it said."

The WSJ's story about Murdoch added, "News Corp. on Thursday said that it was 'pleased' that Ofcom had recognized BSkyB as a proper license holder but the company also said it disagreed 'with certain of the report's statements about James Murdoch's prior actions as an executive and director, which are not at all substantiated by evidence.' " 

jamesmurdoch.jpg

James Murdoch

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One of HBO's Presidents Becomes the Company's New CEO. Current CEO Bill Nelson Will Leave at Year's End

Bill Nelson, the CEO of Home Box Office, will leave at the end of the year as the company promotes one of its presidents to succeed him, reports our friend David Lieberman at Deadline.com.

The new CEO will be Richard Plepler. Back in 2007 Plepler, who had been in charge of public relations for HBO, was named one of three co-presidents of HBO under Nelson, the story says.

According to an HBO press release, Eric Kessler, who was also appointed co-president in 2007, will be president and COO. Michael Lombardo will stay with the company as president of programming. Both will report to Plepler.

Jeff Bewkes, chairman and CEO of HBO parent Time Warner Inc. -- and himself a former chief of HBO -- said in a statement: "The company will not miss a step with the new team, which has the combination of talent and experience to drive HBO to new heights of creative excellence, innovation, and financial performance. Richard and Eric are twenty-plus-year veterans of the company who, as co-presidents, helped HBO re-establish its pre-eminence over the past five years, and Mike Lombardo has done an exceptional job in developing the best slate in HBO’s history.”

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Oh Boy, Look Out. Time for More Pigeon Pie, Armadillo Steaks and (Gulp!) Deep-Fried Tarantula Legs

Travel Channel has announced that it has renewed five series, including Andrew Zimmern's "Bizarre Foods America," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Freshman series "Baggage Battles," "Hotel Impossible," "Trip Flip" and "Toy Hunter" were given second seasons. "Bizarre Foods America" will return for a seventh season.

In a statement, Travel Channel GM Andy Singer said: "We are seeing a lot of success with our popular new shows. Whether we are revealing the secrets of how a hotel should run or what amazing finds are hidden in unclaimed baggage and property, or taking unsuspecting people on an exhilarating vacation they never saw coming, our viewers tune in to Travel Channel to be entertained, informed and inspired. Our diverse selection of fun new programming, coupled with talent who have strong and unique points-of-view, [is] helping redefine travel entertainment.”

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Status of Longtime Host Robert Osborne in Spotlight as TCM Shuffles Assignments, Expands Role of 'The Young Guy'

Longtime TCM host Robert Osborne returned to work at the cable channel this week, taping segments in advance of his scheduled Oct. 1 return to the air, the New York Post reports.

Osborne has been off the air for about a month taking a break from work. In his absence a host some viewers still know mainly as “the young guy” -- Ben Mankiewicz -- has been filling in for Osborne.

Osborne, 80, is a fixture on the movie network, and in many ways has been the face of TCM for years. But his role is being redefined, with the plan calling for reduced airtime for Osborne along with a greater role at off-the-air promotional events.

Meanwhile, Mankiewicz -- who’s 45 and not exactly a newbie at the channel -- is expected to see his on-air role expanded.

“Starting Oct. 5, most movies shown in primetime on Friday nights will be introduced by Ben Mankiewicz, who has hosted the network's classic movie showings on Saturdays and Sunday afternoons for nearly a decade,” the story reports, citing a TCM spokesperson. “There will be guest programmers on some Fridays, the spokesperson said.”

Mankiewicz will also see action hosting three films that will air Saturday nights after “The Essentials,” which is hosted by Osborne and actress Drew Barrymore. And Mankiewicz will host two movies running late Sunday nights.

“In October, Mankiewicz will host a Tuesday night series of films about characters with disabilities on Tuesday nights -- with introductions filmed during Osborne's vacation -- as well as his first regular Friday night series, devoted to political films with guests like CNN's Wolf Blitzer,” the report adds.

Manciewicz filled in during 2011 when Osborne took a five-month leave after having appeared on TCM every day since the channel was founded in 1994, the Post reports.

"Both Robert and Ben’s responsibilities have grown as the network has grown and we have expanded both their roles,'' the TCM spokesperson said. "Part of what we want more from Robert is direct engagement with fans at events like the TCM Classic Cruise, The Road to Hollywood screening series and TCM Film Festival and other events, and this allows us to do that.''

Commenting on the impending changes, Mankiewicz said: "Robert's not going anywhere -- he's still the Walter Cronkite of TCM.''

Mankiewicz added: "I think of the TCM audience the same way I think of women I've wanted to date -- initailly they have no interest in me, but eventually I wear them down. One reason I think there was hestitation [when I first started] was fans' desire to protect the network. We're taking care of movies, we're the guardians of these films, there are no commercials ... and this young guy is coming in and what does it mean for Robert? Robert is Turner Classic Movies. It just took [the fans] a while to realize that everything is going to be the same.''

robert-osborne.jpgRobert Osborne

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Why Folks in Your Area Might Soon Be Crying Out: 'I Want My Fox News Channel!'

Are we soon to be hearing cries of "I want my Fox New Channel!" ringing out from coast to coast?

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chase Carey, president and COO of News Corp., has signaled that there might be a fight on the horizon over retrans fees for Fox News.

Carey "is bullish on the company's TV channels, emphasizing that the company soon expects bigger fees for the right to carry Fox News," the story says, adding, "Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in New York, Carey said that talks with distributors over new carriage fees for Fox News will soon begin the next round of negotiations."

The acticle continues: "'By the beginning of next calender year, we will have renegotiated half of that universe,' he said. 'We aim to take that business closer to what we think reflects the value of that channel.' Carey, who was formerly CEO of DirecTV, later pulled back on making any antagonistic posture towards cable and satellite companies."

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On an Important Night for Two CBS Reality Franchises, It's Fox That Delivers the Ratings

Wednesday was a “passing the baton” night for two CBS reality series, with “Big Brother” handing off to “Survivor.” But neither show was able to match the ratings for “The X Factor,” which gave the win for the night to Fox.

Citing Nielsen overnights, TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the two-hour “X Factor” delivered the best number of the night in the key 18-49 demo -- a 3.5 average rating, improving 6% from a week ago. Going head-to-head with “Factor” at 8 p.m., CBS’s 90-minute premiere of “Survivor: Philippines” fell a little short with a 3.1 -- down 9% from “Survivor’s” previous fall premiere and equaling the “Survivor: One World” premiere back in February.

Leading out from “Survivor,” the 90-minute “Big Brother” finale generated only a 2.5, down 14% from the finale in September 2011.

NBC and ABC both effectively sat out the night, airing all-repeat lineups.

Fox ended up with a comfortable win in the 18-49 demo for prime time overall, averaging a 3.5 rating to top CBS (2.8 average), Univision (1.4), NBC (1.4) and ABC (1.1). It was much tighter in total viewers, but Fox had the edge with 9.4 million to 9.3 million for CBS, followed by NBC (4.9 million), ABC (3.6 million) and Univision (3.4 million).

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'60 Minutes' Slates Interviews With Obama and Romney for This Sunday

The two major-party candidates for president will have interviews featured on CBS’s “60 Minutes” this Sunday, Sept. 23, TVNewser.com reports.

Steve Kroft of CBS News sat down with President Barack Obama last week, and Scott Pelley interviewed Mitt Romney this week. The network will air both interviews during the program.

Topics will include the economy, jobs and health care.

With a lead-in from NFL coverage, the program is expected to do well in the ratings, the report notes. “60 Minutes” is the top-rated TV newsmagazine.

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Why Kelsey Grammer Walked Out on His Scheduled Interview With Piers Morgan -- and Why the Two Men Are Now Trading Accusations

Actor Kelsey Grammer "ran out of the building" before a scheduled appearance on Piers Morgan's CNN show, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which cited tweets from Morgan. The reason? The show aired a photo of Grammer's ex-wife, Camille.

"Kelsey Grammer was supposed to be on my show now but ran out of the building. Strange," Morgan tweeted.

Later, the CNN host tweeted, "So, Kelsey Grammer saw a photo of his ex wife Camille in the open to our show and legged it. Extraordinary. Never had this happen before. ... I like Kelsey Grammer personally, but this was a shockingly unprofessional thing to do. I wasn't even going to mention his ex-wife!"

Grammer's spokesman told the publication that Morgan "needs to take responsibility for what he did to Kelsey. It's called accountability."

Grammer had been slated to appear on the show to discuss the second season of his Starz show "Boss." Grammer and Camille divorced last year.

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Canceled NBC Series May Be Revived by Cable Channel

A series that was canceled by NBC may resurface on cable, Bloomberg reports. The Discovery Communications cable channel TLC is in talks to pick up "Who Do You Think You Are," the story reports.

While discussions with TLC are at an advanced stage, the show’s producers are also speaking with other networks, the story adds.

The show was canceled earlier this year, contributing to a plunge in the stock price of Ancestry.com, which helps unearth family histories on the program. Representatives for Discovery and Ancestry.com declined to comment.

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Netflix Picks Up Controversial Ricky Gervais Program; Gervais Forecasts the Future of Television

Ricky Gervais' controversial new comedy series has been acquired by Netflix, prompting Gervais to comment on the future of television, reports The New York Times' ArtsBeat.

The pickup of the series, “Derek,” follows the program's run on Channel 4 in Britain, the story notes. In the series, Gervais plays a simple man who works in a nursing home. His portrayal has raised criticisms that the character mocked disabled people, the story says. Gervais has denied the claim, saying that his character isn't disabled.

The show earned a full series order in Britain after drawing about 2 million viewers. Netflix plans to air the program next year.

In selling to Netflix, Gervais -- whose shows have appeared on HBO on the U.S. -- said in a statement that the service is “the future." He added, "TV habits have already changed drastically over the last 10 years and this is the next phase. People want their favorite shows on demand whether they are homegrown or not.”

Gervais adds in the statement: “As an artist you want the fruits of your labor to be seen by the largest number of people possible without having to compromise the product. This deal gave me the freedom and the huge potential viewers of the Internet but the production values of film and TV. They also made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Come on, an artist gotta eat man.”

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After Latest Scrapes With the Law, 26-Year-Old Amanda Bynes Denies Drinking -- and Says She's Retired From Acting

Former Nickelodeon star Amanda Bynes responded to questions about her recent run-ins with the law, telling People.com that she is "doing amazing" and denying that she drinks.

Bynes, 26, has been charged with a DUI and two counts of hit-and-run. She had her car impounded Sunday, as previously reported.

"I am not talking about being arrested for DUI because I don't drink, and I don't drink and drive. It is all false," Bynes told People. She added that she is “retired as an actor,” and is moving to New York to start a fashion line.

Nevertheless, those around her are reportedly concerned about her, describing the actress as unaware that she has a problem, the story says.

Bynes’ last starring role was in the 2010 movie “Easy A,” the report notes.

Thumbnail image for amanda-bynes.jpgAmanda Bynes

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NBC Shakes Things Up on Ad Side, Puts Veteran Exec in Charge of Sales for All of NBCUniversal

NBC is making a big move in the executive ranks of its advertising sales operation, giving veteran ad sales exec Linda Yaccarino oversight of all ad sales for NBCUniversal, reports our good friend Brian Steinberg in Advertising Age.

The move puts Yaccarino in charge of sales for the flagship NBC Network, less than a year after she was given responsibility for NBCU’s digital and cable sales. Prior to that, for many years Yaccarino was a key player in the ad sales operation of Turner Broadcasting.

The story adds, "Internally, senior members of NBC's ad-sales team -- including Marianne Gambelli, who has overseen ad sales at the NBC broadcast network; Ed Swindler, exec-VP and chief operating officer of NBCUniversal ad sales; and Peter Naylor, who supervises digital sales -- are expected at present to stay under the new structure."

The article also note that “The hard-charging Ms. Yaccarino, known for making a range of aggressive ad plays over the years, will now report directly to Steve Burke, NBCUniversal's CEO.”

The move creates an unusual model for the industry at this time, with responsibility for broadcast, cable and digital unified under one executive. But the story notes that the structure makes sense given the current business environment.

“Advertisers these days think less about discrete categories like ‘cable,’ ‘broadcast’ and ‘digital’ and more about aligning their brands with pieces of content that appeals to their particular customers,” the report notes. “Consumers, too, are shifting around from TV to digital to mobile as their needs dictate. Having a person at the top to who can help craft deals that move across various NBCUniversal assets -- which range from movie-ticketing outlet Fandango to the USA cable network to Universal Studios -- may have broader appeal for sponsors.”

The article adds, " 'As a unified sales team, our goal is to collaboratively develop the most creative solutions to move our clients' businesses forward,' Ms. Yaccarino said in a statement."

Click here for more analysis of the move in the Ad Age article.

Thumbnail image for Linda-Yaccarino.jpgLinda Yaccarino

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Oscar Winner Joins Showtime's 'Homeland'

An Oscar-winning actor is joining the Showtime drama series “Homeland,” TheWrap.com reports. Cast in a recurring role is F. Murray Abraham.

Abraham will play an intelligence operative named Dar Adul, who works in the CIA's Special Activities Division.

The actor, who won an Oscar for his role as Antonio Salieri in the 1984 movie "Amadeus," recently appeared on FX's "Louie" as the main character's Uncle Excelsior.

He also appears in the pilot of ABC's "Beauty and the Beast," playing Cyril.

f-murray-abraham.jpgF. Murray Abraham

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Does Lifetime's New Poster for 'Liz & Dick' Refer to Elizabeth Taylor -- or Lindsay Lohan?

Lifetime has released a new promotional poster for its television movie "Liz & Dick," and the poster prominently features words that appear to refer not only to the movie’s subject, screen legend Elizabeth Taylor, but also to its star, Lindsay Lohan, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Wording on the poster includes: “Child Star. Paparazzi. Tabloid Front Page. Scandal. Diamonds." The language evokes Lohan’s adventures in the media in recent years, apparently attempting to draw parallels between the lives of Lohan and Taylor.

The poster shows Lohan in costume, made-up as the late movie star. The movie will debut in November.

As previously reported, Lohan was involved in another scandal this week, with an arrest in New York City after reportedly hitting a pedestrian with her Porsche.

lindsay-lohan-liz-and-dick-poster.jpg

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ABC and CBS Both Buy Dramas From 'Ghost Whisperer' Producers

ABC and CBS have both bought dramas from "The Ghost Whisperer" producers Ian Sander and Kim Moses and their Sander/Moses Productions, reports Deadline.com.

ABC has bought "Gaslight," a soapy drama set in a modern steampunk San Francisco where three rival families battle each other for control, the story notes. The project is produced by ABC Studios and film writer Michael Cooney (“Identity”) will write and executive produce.

CBS bought "Reckless," written and executive produced by Dana Stevens, according to the story. The project is set in Charleston and features a Northern litigator and Southern city attorney who clash over a police scandal but are secretly attracted to each other, the piece notes.

Sander/Moses also has a number of reality projects in development, the report notes, including a U.S. version of Denmark’s “Restaurant Behind Bars.”

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'Snow White and the Huntsman' Writer Now on NBC Project

After an earlier effort didn’t get off the ground, NBC is making a second attempt at developing a drama based on the comic "Midnight, Mass.," Deadline.com reports. This time around, "Snow White and the Huntsman" co-writer Evan Daugherty is slated to write, the story reports.

A different team adapted the comic in 2009, but that adaptation didn't make it to the pilot stage, according to the story.

The comic's creator, John Rozum, will work as an executive consultant on the project, which is produced by Warner Bros. TV and Gerber Pictures. The network has given the project a script commitment.

The comic, published by DC Entertainment, is about a husband-and-wife paranormal investigator team who work from Midnight, Massachusetts. While they battle creatures and take on mysteries, their biggest issue might be their marriage, the story notes.

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CBS Gives Early Renewal to One of Its Franchise Reality Shows

CBS has given one of its long-running reality shows an early renewal, reports TheWrap.com. Coming back in the summer of 2013 will be “Big Brother,” the story reports.

The show, which debuted in 2000, will air a 90-minute finale for its current 14th season on Wednesday, the story notes.

The show has been a reliable ratings draw for the network, averaging 6.8 million total viewers and a 2.5 rating among viewers 18-49.

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Despite Romney's Trepidation About 'The View' -- Captured on Stealth Video -- He Books Appearance on the Show

Mitt Romney describes most of the hosts of ABC’s "The View" as "sharp-tongued" in a hidden video that surfaced this week -- but that hasn't kept him from booking an appearance on the show, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

As previously reported, the video captured some of Romney's views on the media, as well as his criticisms of President Obama's supporters. Among the revelations, the GOP candidate refers to “The View” as “high risk," noting that only one of the show's five co-hosts is conservative -- presumably a reference to Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

Romney will appear on "The View" next month. He has been on the show three times before.

The Romney campaign sent a statement to the show, noting that presidential hopeful Romney and his wife would "love to once more join the sharp-tongued chatter in October.” The statement was read by Hasselbeck, the piece notes.

His comments about the show were discussed on the program, with co-host Sherri Shepherd saying, "If you can’t handle four sharp-tongued women, how are you going to handle the country," according to the story.

Co-host Barbara Walters said they would love to have him back on the show, and she was confident he could handle their questions, the piece notes.

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Nickelodeon's Moment of Truth Arrives as Channel Shakes Things Up to Inject Life Into Ratings

In a move to reverse the 20% slump in its ratings the channel endured during last year's holidays, Nickelodeon will boost its original programming by 70% in the fourth quarter, reports Jon Lafayette at B&C.

Speaking at the 21st Annual Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said the plan is geared to boosting domestic ad sales.

"Nickelodeon has been hard at work for a good part of the year in rethinking what it's doing, developing programming, new programming in different genres, and now it's coming to fruition," he said.

New programming will start airing on Saturday, including "Victorious," "Big Time Rush" and "How to Rock," with a new version of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" also on tap in the coming weeks.

Elsewhere in the Viacom cable universe, Dauman noted that VH1 will also be adding original programs, while Comedy Central is working on programming for platforms beyond traditional TV, the story says.

The report adds: “Dauman said there have been changes in Nick's programming organization to support the additional development and production. In August, Nick animation chief Brown Johnson left the network and live-action programming chief Margie Cohn was reassigned in a shakeup that put chief creative officer Russell Hicks in charge of its West Coast operations.”

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Chalk Up Another Big Ratings Win for NBC -- as a New Show and a Returning Show Both Come Through

With one returning show and one new show both pulling their weight, NBC cruised to a huge win in the Tuesday night ratings. Citing Nielsen overnights, TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the Peacock Network’s talent show “The Voice” and its new comedy series “Go On” led the way.

“The Voice” was the top show of the night in the key 18-49 demo with a 4.5 average rating, followed by “Go On” with a 3.3. NBC chalked up the third-best and fourth-best numbers too, with “The New Normal” delivering a 2.2 and “Parenthood” pulling a 1.8.

“The Voice” was up 13% from the 4.0 it delivered last Tuesday, while “Go On” was down slightly from a 3.3 a week earlier.

With CBS airing all reruns and ABC putting up only a modest fight -- the two-hour “20/20” special “The Greatest TV Shows of Our Time with Barbara Walters” delivered a 1.6 in 18-49 -- the only real competition came from Fox. But Fox’s two-hour “So You Think You Can Dance” managed only a 1.6 average.

That left NBC well out in front in the demo for prime time overall, averaging a 3.1 rating to place ahead of Fox (1.6 average), Univision (1.5), CBS (1.5) and ABC (1.4). CBS’s lineup of reruns was strong enough for a narrow win in total viewers, where CBS averaged 8.8 million to edge NBC’s 8.7 million. Trailing were ABC (6.3 million), Fox (4.6 million) and Univision (3.6 million).

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Survey Names the Best U.S. Television Show of All Time

A survey conducted as part of “Best in TV,” a special installment of ABC’s “20/20” that aired Tuesday night, picked a winner that probably won't come as a surprise to most industry insiders. The survey named “I Love Lucy” as the best TV show of all time, UPI reports.

The five finalists were all comedies. Here’s the Top 5:

1. “I Love Lucy”
2. “M*A*S*H”
3. “Seinfeld”
4. “All in the Family”
5. “Cheers”

Said Barbara Walters, who hosted the show: "We were not surprised Americans chose comedies as their favorites of all time. We all like to laugh and these shows still make us laugh today."

The survey, conducted by ABC News and People magazine, also named the best drama series of all time, which went to “ER.” Here are the Top 5 dramas:

1. “ER”
2. “The Twilight Zone”
3. “The Sopranos”
4. “The West Wing”
5. “Mad Men”

An online component to the survey, found here, presents -- via video clips -- the results in a number of other categories, including best talk show host, best reality show, best TV theme song and best animated show. (Short-attention-span warning: It may take more time than you’re willing to spend to get through these videos. At least, that’s what happened to us when we went there.)

We did make it through best animated series and can share this: “The Flintstones” beat out “The Simpsons” for the top spot in that category.

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Two Major Broadcasters Quietly Launch a New Online Venture

Two top broadcasters have joined forces in a new initiative, and an online component of it has quietly been launched, TVNewser.com reports.

The broadcasters are ABC and Univision, who are working on a new cable news channel. As part of the runup to getting the channel rolling, the companies launched a new website for the channel.

“The new site exists as a micro-site on ABCNews.com, and is part of the Yahoo!/ABC News Digital Network,” the story reports. “Because the new channel doesn’t have a name yet, the site refers to it as the ‘ABC News/Univision Network.’”

The focus of stories on the site is, as the partners promised, issues of importance to Latinos. The material is published in English. Also up on the site, the report notes, are notices for jobs at the new network.

“While it is still early, the new site is a first step in getting the network off the ground, and gives it an online presence in advance of the upcoming presidential election, which will likely drive tremendous traffic to most online news outlets,” the report notes. “It also allows staffers to hone the voice of the channel, well in advance of any TV debut.”

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Cable Channel Acquires 'Tales From the Crypt'

A horror-themed cable channel, VOD service and website has acquired the anthology series "Tales From the Crypt," reports Deadline.com. The program was acquired by FearNet -- its first off-network series acquisition.

Shows will begin airing on the linear channel Oct. 5. FearNet will show the 93 episodes in order, starting with season one, and will air them in a two-hour block on Friday nights 10 p.m. to midnight ET.

In a statement, FearNet President and General Manager Peter Block said: “'Tales From the Crypt' was the first time that horror writers, directors and actors came together in one place to produce a TV series to celebrate the genre. 'Tales' had everything -- comedy, gore, splatter, slash, thrill and suspense -- and it quickly became appointment television.”

The report notes that “Crypt” was executive produced by Joel Silver, Richard Donner, Robert Zemeckis, Walter Hill and David Giler.

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New NBC Series Draws Protest

One of NBC’s new comedy series is coming under fire from an activist group, Entertainment Weekly reports. The new sitcom is “Animal Practice,” which has ruffled the feathers of PETA -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The group is concerned about the treatment of the animal actors on the show. The sitcom focuses on a veterinarian, and prominently features monkeys.

PETA wrote on its website: “There is nothing glamorous about showbiz for primates, big cats, bears, and other animals who are used in television, film, or advertising; exploited as sports mascots; or used as props in novelty displays. Torn away from their mothers as infants, these animals are subjected to abusive training methods and forced to spend most of their lives in small, filthy cages, deprived of everything that is natural and important to them.”

The group scheduled a protest for today in front of the network’s Hollywood studios.

In its online organizing for the event, through Facebook, the group asked protesters to wear black and said “monkey masks” would be provided, the story notes.

A request for a comment from the show had not been answered, the report notes.

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'Felicity' Co-Creator Inks New Pact With 20th TV

The co-creator of the television show "Felicity" -- who also directed the feature film "Cloverfield" -- has signed a new television deal with 20th Century Fox Television, reports B&C. Matt Reeves will create, write, direct and supervise new drama series for the studio.

In a statement, Reeves said, "This is an incredibly exciting time in the television business and I look forward to working closely with my partners at Twentieth Television to develop innovative new series for both network and cable."

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Report: Matt Lauer Making Key Decisions, Berating 'Today' Staff

With NBC’s "Today" sinking in the ratings, Matt Lauer has reportedly stepped up his role on the morning show, inserting himself into the show's key decisions and berating staff for not trying hard enough, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

Lauer’s new, more assertive role behind the scenes was described as “anchor animal” by NBC sources cited in the story.

The staff has also been banned from mentioning rival "Good Morning America," according to the report. In the past, staff would discuss the high points of segments from rival shows.

Lauer and executive producer Jim Bell have been meeting to come up with ways to boost the show's ratings. Meanwhile, the program continues to finish behind ABC’s "Good Morning America."

The show is considering hiring "Morning Joe" co-host Willie Geist, while "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell" executive producer Izzy Povich could also join the show, the piece notes.

Asked for comment, Lauer said, "Please print this story -- it’s the most interesting and dangerous I’ve ever sounded!”

Added Bell: "By the way, I’m the producer of the ‘Today’ show.”

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Lindsay Lohan Arrested Again

Actress Lindsay Lohan, who has had her share of run-ins with the authorities, was arrested in New York City early this morning after reportedly hitting a pedestrian with her Porsche, the New York Daily News reports. She's accused of leaving the scene of the accident.

The man she reportedly hit, Manhattan chef Jose Rodriguez, said the actress was “slurring” words and “smelled like alcohol,” the story reports.

Rodriguez complained that Lohan and her two male companions didn’t appear to take responsibility, according to the publication. “They acted like I was nothing -- that no one could touch her because she was rich and powerful,” he told the newspaper.

The incident took place around 12:30 a.m. in an alley between two hotels -- the Maritime and the Dream, in Chelsea. Lohan was reportedly released after being charged with leaving the scene of an accident and receiving a ticket.

“Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said police don’t think Lohan was intoxicated but no Breathalyzer test was performed at the scene,” the report notes.

The alleged victim said he had just got off work at the Maritime when he “saw this car come real quick and hit me," the story reports. "I was in so much pain -- I fell to the side."

He then describes a brief encounter with Lohan. However, a follow-up report on TMZ.com indicates that a hotel surveillance video has surfaced that sheds doubt on some of the claims of the alleged victim.

“Surveillance video at The Dream hotel in NYC shows the guy who claims Lindsay Lohan struck him is grossly exaggerating his claim at the very least ... TMZ has learned,” the story reports. “Sources connected to the hotel tell us ... the video shows the entire incident and the aftermath. Lindsay was driving into the hotel, down a ramp. The alleged victim was walking in the pedestrian path, which Lindsay had to cross.

“The video shows Lindsay's car -- which is traveling at a crawl -- gets very close to the pedestrian but it's unclear if the vehicle makes contact. In fact, sources tell us ... 2 detectives came to the hotel early this morning and viewed the tape. One detective felt Lindsay's car ‘grazed’ the back of the alleged victim's leg, but the other detective felt the car never made contact.”

According to the TMZ report, “Once Lindsay clears the area and goes down a ramp, the video shows the alleged victim sprinting after her. The video shows the alleged victim does not get real close to Lindsay, and it doesn't appear that he confronted her, but it appears when he got down there he noticed it was Lindsay -- partly because she had drawn a crowd near the entrance to the club.”

The Daily News said Rodriguez “called 911 and was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he said doctors told him he has torn tendons and gave him morphine for the pain.

“Police said the actress was ‘going very slow’ while maneuvering around a crowd of people outside Dream.”

A police source is quoted by the Daily News saying: “She's hitting her horn because there's a lot of people in the area. The crowd moves but she kind of brushes against this one guy.

"He runs up to her, tells her she hit him. They get out of the car. There's some interaction with her, her entourage and the guy."

The piece adds that Rodriguez indicated in an incident report he filed with the Maritime’s garage that “the female appeared disoriented.”

Thumbnail image for lindsay-lohan.jpgLindsay Lohan

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Won't Get Fooled Again. Simon Cowell Is Not Quite the Truth Teller We Thought He Was -- He's Got More P.T. Barnum in Him Than Most of Us Knew. What Cowell Left Out of Last Week's 'X Factor'

At the end of "The X Factor" last week, a performance by 13-year-old Carly Rose Sonenclar blew most everyone away -- the live audience, the judges, those of us at home.

But will any of us feel the same way once they read what TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross found out was NOT said on the show. Please click here to read Ross' blog.

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HBO Orders Drama Starring James Gandolfini

HBO is back in the drama business with James Gandolfini, with whom the pay-cable network had a wildly successful run with “The Sopranos.”

Deadline.com reports that HBO has given a pilot order to “Criminal Justice,” with Gandolfini leading an ensemble cast that also includes Rizwan Ahmed, Bill Camp, Peyman Moadi and Poorna Jagannathan.

The project is “co-written by Oscar-wining writer Steven Zaillian (‘Schindler’s List’) and Oscar nominee Richard Price (‘The Color of Money’) and [will] be directed by Zaillian,” the report notes. “’Criminal Justice’ is a New York-set crime drama based on the acclaimed 2008 BBC series of the same name created by Peter Moffat.”

Deadline reports: “The original series consisted of two five-episode seasons, each chronicling the journey of a person charged with murder through the justice system, and each featuring new characters and cast. HBO’s version follows the plot of the first season of the British series, which starred Ben Whishaw as Ben Coulter, a young man who takes his father’s cab for a drive and picks up a party girl who takes him to her apartment for a drunken and drug-filled night out. When he wakes up in the morning, Ben finds the girl stabbed to death and, though he can’t remember committing the crime, he is soon charged with it.”

In the U.S. version, the lead character will be a young American-born Pakistani named Naz, to be played by Ahmed, the story notes.

“Gandolfini plays Jack Stone, a disheveled jailhouse lawyer wearing cheap suits and sandals, who trolls for clients at police precincts,” the report adds. “That’s where he sees Naz in a holding cell and appoints himself his attorney. (The character is expected to continue if the series is renewed for additional seasons.) Camp plays the lead detective on the case.”

HBO has been eager to find a suitable vehicle for Gandolfini to follow up on the success of “Sopranos.” Gandolfini has had deals with the pay cabler since 2006. “He has flirted with a number of HBO projects, including an U.S. version of the hit French Canadian comedy series ‘Taxi-22,’ and ‘Big Dead Place,’ a comedic drama set in the Antarctic, but ‘Criminal Justice’ is the first project that he committed to and that is moving to production,” the story reports.

james-gandolfini2.jpgJames Gandolfini

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Why Mitt Romney Thinks 'The View' Is 'High Risk' -- and Why He Won't Be Appearing on 'SNL'

Hidden camera video footage that captured presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's criticisms of President Obama's supporters also included some of his thoughts on the media, including his take on "The View," TVNewser.com reports.

The GOP candidate said the show is "high risk because of the five women on it," the piece reports.

Romney described the hosts of "The View" in an unflattering way, calling most of them "sharp-tongued." The program's co-hosts are Barbara Walters, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Whoopi Goldberg and Sherri Shepherd.

"Although ‘The View’ is high risk because of the five women on it, only one is conservative, and four are sharp-tongued and not conservative,” he said, according to the story.

He added that he decided to veer away from an appearance on "Saturday Night Live" because the show "has the potential of looking slapstick, and not presidential."

Despite his take on the hosts of "The View," he added that the show "is fine."

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Tori Spelling Undergoes Emergency Surgery

Less than three weeks after the birth of her fourth child, actress Tori Spelling has gone back to the hospital for emergency surgery, People.com reports.

Her rep told the publication: "Tori underwent emergency surgery over the weekend due to complications from her c-section. She remains in the hospital and is resting comfortably."

Spelling delivered her son Finn Davey on Aug. 30 -- her second caesarean section within a year, after she delivered daughter Hattie last October. All four of her children have been delivered by c-section, the report notes.

“The ‘Craft Wars’ host, 39, and husband Dean McDermott are also parents to daughter Stella, 4, and Liam, 5, as well as Jack, McDermott's 13-year-old son from a prior marriage,” the story adds.

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NBC Goes From Last to First Among the Big Four Broadcasters -- but Will the Peacock Continue to Soar?

After spending much of the past few seasons in fourth place among the Big 4 broadcasters, NBC is off to a strong start on the fall season.

The Peacock Network currently finds itself in first place, James Hibberd reports in EW.com's Inside TV, but the question is whether NBC can hold its lead.

According to the story, NBC has been No. 1 in the key demo of viewers 18 to 49 for the past two weeks. As previously reported, NBC had a big night in Monday night's ratings, with the new drama "Revolution" drawing a 4.1 average rating in the 18-49 demo. It was the strongest drama premiere on any network in the past three years.

Also performing well have been the network’s new sitcoms “The New Normal” and “Go On.”

"None of NBC’s new shows is loved by critics. Yet all managed to open to respectable numbers," Hibberd points out.

"NBC’s pre-season primetime performance has been … good. It’s weird to type that. So let’s sit and appreciate it for a moment. Because analyzing NBC’s fall right now is like watching a wind surfer heading toward a typhoon," he adds.

The network’s early-season success comes against less than top-shelf competition, with many of the other broadcast networks still airing largely repeat programming in prime time.

"NBC’s next major beat comes this Thursday, when the network re-launches its troubled comedy block," Hibberd writes. "One of the remarkable things about NBC’s fall schedule is how little has changed on Thursdays despite how poorly the lineup performed last season."

Next week will pose the biggest test for NBC, with more broadcast debuts slated across the dial than in any other week this year, the story notes.

Hibberd writes, "NBC successfully got viewers in the door. Now let’s see if they stick around."

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President Obama, Appearing on 'Letterman,' Addresses Romney's 47% Comment

While it's not unusual for President Obama to appear on late-night television, his appearance Tuesday night on " Late Show with David Letterman" turned out to be particularly well timed, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

That's because he appeared just a day after a videotape emerged that showed his GOP opponent, Mitt Romney, implying that 47% of Americans accept government handouts and pay no taxes, the story says.

Obama didn't seek to explain Romney's comments, according to the article. The clip of Obama’s response to the Romney video appears below.

Obama said during the appearance: “One of the things I’ve learned as president is you represent the entire country, and when I meet Republicans as I’m traveling around the country, they are hard-working, family people who care deeply about this country, and my expectation is that if you want to be president, you’ve got to work for everybody, not just for some."

Obama also criticized Romney's comment that Obama’s supporters see themselves as victims.

"I promise you, there are not a lot of people out there who think they’re victims, there are not a lot of people who think that they’re entitled to something,” the president said.

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Steve Sabol, Creative Force Behind NFL Films, Dead at 69

The creative force behind NFL Films, Steve Sabol, has died at 69, reports The New York Times. The cause was brain cancer, according to the National Football League. Sabol learned he had the cancer last year.

While Sabol's father founded NFL Films, Steve Sabol formed the images and sounds that became iconic, the story notes -- images such as “a kicked football floating end-over-end or a pigskin bullet spiraling in slow motion; a row of bruised and dirtied gladiators hunkering on the sideline; the crunch of bodies brawling at the line of scrimmage or colliding in the open field," the piece notes.

ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman said the Sabols made a 49-14 game "seem like some kind of epic Greek tragedy.”

Steve Sabol was cited on more than a third of the 107 sports Emmy Awards won by NFL Films, the story notes.

Sabol's father, Ed Sabol, 96, survives his son, according to the piece.

steve-sabol.jpgSteve Sabol

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Emmy Winner Joins NBC's 'Community'

An Emmy-winning actor has been cast as the estranged father of Jeff on the NBC comedy series "Community," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

James Brolin will appear in an episode titled "Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relationships," the story notes. The series has repeatedly mentioned Jeff's father during its three seasons, making the casting significant, the piece points out. Jeff is played by Joel McHale.

Brolin won Emmy and Golden Globe awards for his role as Dr. Steven Kiley on "Marcus Welby, M.D." and has also appeared in TV shows such as "Psych" and "Law & Order: SVU," the story notes.

“Community” returns to NBC at 8:30 p.m. Oct. 19.

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Popular Children's Book to Be Made Into a TV Series by CW

A classic children's book that has been made into feature films many times since the silent era will get the TV series treatment at the CW, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The series will tackle the “Alice in Wonderland” story.

The network has commissioned a script for the project, which is called "Wunderland" and will be a modern take on the story. Instead of a young girl, Alice will be a female detective in modern-day Los Angeles who discovers an underground world, the piece notes.

McG of "Gossip Girl" and Peter Johnson are slated to executive produce, with "Playboy Club’s” Chad Hodge writing and executive producing.

Among the many film and TV versions of “Alice in Wonderland” over the decades were a Disney animated feature in 1951, a 2009 miniseries that aired in the U.S. on Syfy, and Tim Burton’s 2010 Disney CG/live-action fantasy starring Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter and Mia Wasikowska.

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CBS Buys Steve Jobs-Inspired Medical Drama From 'Hawaii Five-0' Showrunner

CBS has bought a medical drama inspired by Steve Jobs that's from "Hawaii Five-0" executive producer and showrunner Peter Lenkov, Deadline.com reports.

The drama focuses on a technology guru and billionaire who is diagnosed with terminal cancer. He uses his money to build a cutting-edge hospital staffed with the world's best doctors, initially to fight his own illness before realizing he wants to use his resources to help save others, the piece notes.

Lenkov will executive produce. Film writer Jason Dean Hall will write the drama and will serve as co-executive producer. CBS TV Studios will produce.

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Whaaat? Is This Possible? Two Syndication Classics, Entering Their 29th and 30th Seasons, Respectively, Were UP in the Ratings in Their Season Premieres

It was a terrific ratings debut yesterday, Sept. 17, 2012, for two of the longest-running shows in the history of TV.

"Wheel of Fortune," which started its current syndication run in September 1983, "delivered an average 6.3 household rating in the metered markets, up 9% over its lead-ins and 15% from its time periods’ September 2011 averages," writes our friend Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

Furthermore, its access time period running mate, "Jeopardy," which started its current syndication run in September 1984, "posted a 5.9 HH rating, up 16% over its lead-ins and 23% from last year," Andreeva writes, adding, "Both game shows scored far better than any syndicated talk show season/series premieres this fall. Among Adults 25-54, the 'Wheel of Fortune' opener delivered a 1.6 rating in the 25 Local People Markets, up a tenth over its Sept ’11 time periods; 'Jeopardy!' posted a 1.7, up 21%."

The story also notes that the shows changed stations this season in seven markets..

Both shows were created by the late Merv Griffin. Sony Pictures Television produces both shows, which are distributed by CBS Television Distribution.

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Former Longtime President of CBS Entertainment Joins Microsoft to Create Original Video Content for the Xbox

A former longtime president of CBS Entertainment has joined Microsoft as its president of entertainment and digital media.

Nancy Tellem, who was president of CBS Entertainment from 1998 to the end of 2009, "will oversee a Microsoft production studio based in Los Angeles that will create both traditional 'linear' programming and interactive programming that fuses video and gamelike content," The New York TImes reports, adding, "She will report to Phil Spencer, the corporate vice president of Microsoft Studios, part of the Microsoft entertainment division that oversees the company’s Xbox console."

Tellem told the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog, "What's so exciting about this opportunity is we're looking at the next iteration of television. We're starting from scratch and we'll be looking at linear and interactive content, both longer-form, like television, and shorter form."

The L.A. Times story continues, "Although most avid video-game players are young men, Tellem said she sees her primary audience as families who use a broad range of digital devices.

" 'We're going to reach out to a very broad range of consumers,' she said. 'When I first got to CBS we looked at what the core audience was and built from there, and that's just what I'm going to do again.' The executive has yet to put together her staff, and she says she doesn't yet know what content she might produce first or when it will launch, though it seems unlikely that anything could debut before late 2013. But she said she hopes to make 'premium content' that can compete with current shows airing on broadcast and cable networks.

" 'We have large visions as to where this could all go,' Tellem said. 'Building up a studio in Los Angeles with a significant financial commitment is very important.' "

nancytellem1.jpg

Nancy Tellem

 

 

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NBC Has a Big Night in the Ratings -- Including a Landmark Debut for New Drama Series -- While New Fox Show Lays an Egg

NBC had reason to cheer when the Nielsen overnights came in for Monday night, while execs at Fox probably had to lick their wounds.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the new NBC drama “Revolution” delivered a whopping 4.1 average rating in the key 18-49 demo for its premiere. It was the highest-rated drama premiere in three years, since ABC’s “V” scored a 5.2.

The “Revolution” premiere could go a long way to erase bad memories of the network’s “The Playboy Club,” which, by comparison (although it’s really no comparison), premiered with a feeble 1.6 in the 18-49 demo last season.

But “Revolution” wasn’t even NBC’s top show of the night, as a two-hour installment of “The Voice” came through with a 4.6 -- up 10% from the Monday premiere a week ago, and the show’s best number in a year and a half.

Over at Fox, the premiere of “The Mob Doctor” had to be a disappointment. The show pulled a mere 1.5 in viewers 18-49, nowhere close to the 3.1 delivered in the time slot by the two-hour series premiere of “Terra Nova” a year ago. The other bad news for Fox was a 2.3 for “Bones,” off 30% from the 3.3 for last season’s premiere -- although the previous premiere had a strong lead-in from “The X Factor.” Also worth noting, “Bones” was up 21% from the season finale back in May.

The main broadcast competition consisted of an all-repeat lineup on CBS and ABC’s three-hour telecast of “CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock,” which delivered a modest 1.7 in the 18-49 demo.

For prime time overall, NBC was an easy winner with a 4.4 average rating in 18-49, followed by Fox (1.9), ABC (1.7), Univision (1.6) and CBS (1.3). NBC also coasted home No. 1 in total viewers with 12.8 million, followed by Fox (6.5 million), ABC (6.2 million), CBS (4.5 million) and Univision (3.8 million).

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Not Ready for Prime Time: Creative Arts Emmy Awards Marked by F-Bombs That Aren't Likely to Make It Into the TV Version

A big chunk of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony, held Saturday, Sept. 15, is likely to end up on the cutting-room floor before the show sees life in well-edited form as a ReelzChannel telecast, set for Sept. 22. And that’s probably a good thing.

TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin took in the live ceremony over the weekend, and she’s prepared to tell you what you’re likely to miss -- down to the last f-bomb. Click here to read her in-depth rundown of the high points -- and the low points.

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Notorious NBC Flop From Years Ago May Come Back to Life as a Feature Film

An infamous flop from NBC’s past may soon be brought back to life, with Sony picking up the rights to the show for a feature film, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The series is “Manimal,” which had a brief run on the network in 1983 and earned both critical scorn and viewer disinterest. The TV show starred British actor Simon MacCorkindale as Dr. Jonathan Chase, a man who had the power to change his shape into that of any animal -- a power he used to solve crimes.

Sony Pictures Animation reportedly is developing the project as a hybrid film combining live action and CG.

“Glen A. Larson, one of the most prolific TV producers of the '80s (‘Magnum P.I.,’ ‘Knight Rider,’ ‘Battlestar Galactica’), created the show and is attached as a producer on the feature,” the story reports.

“Manimal” had the misfortune of airing against “Dallas” -- a huge prime-time hit at the time -- and lasted just eight episodes.

“But ‘Manimal’ was campy -- Chase turned into a black panther in every episode and uttered lines like ‘I was a real pussycat’ -- and developed a cult following even as it became a punchline,” THR reports. “It aired during a pre-Must See TV time at NBC when the network was experimenting with such high-concept fare as ‘Knight Rider’ and ‘The A-Team’ to see what would stick.”

Sony has been showing renewed interest in the 1980s, the report notes, following its success with a reboot of “The Smurfs” last summer that grossed $500 million, the report notes. The studio is also working on an update on “ALF,” and reportedly has a “Smurfs” sequel set for next summer.

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Keith Olbermann Offers a 'Special Comment' About Latest Romney Blunder

Former MSNBC and Current TV commentator Keith Olbermann has been keeping a relatively low profile since his latest firing (from Current, back in March), but he resurfaced this week with what is in essence one of his trademark “Special Comments,” The Huffington Post reports.

The clip is Olbermann’s response to a new video that appears to damage GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney’s election chances. In the new Romney video, apparently shot without Romney’s knowledge during a fundraiser attended mainly by wealthy donors, the candidate makes what is being described as disparaging remarks about what Romney calls the 47% of the electorate that is going to vote for Barack Obama no matter what.

The new Olbermann clip has the commentator attempting to respond, in Olbermann’s words, to “Gov. Romney’s 47% tape and the news that his fundraiser was staged by a man who conducts sex parties on Long Island,” but Olbermann mainly just breaks out in laughter.

The Olbermann clip was originally posted on MobyPicture.com.

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Tom Hanks Family Secret May Hold Clue to His Latest Project

A family secret about Tom Hanks has a connection to his new project, the New York Post reports. We reported last week that Hanks had signed on to host and narrate the National Geographic Channel project “Killing Lincoln,” and now the Post reports that Hanks is related to the TV movie’s subject, Abraham Lincoln.

Citing biographies of Hanks, the Post reports that he is a third cousin, four generations removed, of President Lincoln through Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks.

The two-hour Nat Geo movie reportedly finished filming last week and is set to air in early 2013. “Killing Lincoln” is based on a bestselling book by Fox News host Bill O’Reilly.

O’Reilly’s book -- described as ‘how one gunshot changed the country forever’ -- was optioned by movie director Ridley Scott in 2010, who said he saw it as a ‘thriller’ as much as a piece of history,” the Post reports. “The movie will be a combination of re-enactments -- with ‘Once and Again’ star Billy Campbell portraying Lincoln -- and historical documents, according to the network, with Hanks as the narrator.”

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Voting Begins for People's First-Ever Sexiest Man and Woman on TV -- Is Your Favorite Among the Finalists?

People.com is running its first-ever poll to determine the Sexiest Man and Woman on TV. ABC is also involved in the event, with the winners to be announced live on the network’s “Emmys Red Carpet Live” on Sunday, Sept. 23.

Voting started today on people.com, emmys.com and abc.com. The public will choose among five male and five female finalists.

The five male TV star finalists are LL Cool J (“NCIS: Los Angeles”), Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”), Joe Manganiello (“True Blood”), Dylan McDermott (“American Horror Story”) and Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”). The five female TV star finalists are Zooey Deschanel (“New Girl”), Christina Hendricks (“Mad Men”), Heidi Klum (“Project Runway”), Sofía Vergara (“Modern Family”) and Kerry Washington (“Scandal”).

Click here to read the full press release.

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Report: One of the New Daytime Talk Shows Is Already in Trouble, and the 'Buzzards Are Circling' -- Another New Show Is Eager to Get the Time Slot

With a flood of new daytime talk shows jockeying to fill the void left by Oprah Winfey’s departure from syndication, there are bound to be some casualties -- and one of the shows that just debuted appears to already be in trouble.

The new talk show from "Survivor" host Jeff Probst is at risk of getting voted off the island after just a week on air, reports the New York Post. Meanwhile, reps for an upcoming talk show from Queen Latifah have made it clear she would be happy to take over Probst’s time slots.

Probst has been averaging less than a 1 in the ratings -- considered the minimum for surviving in the syndicated talk-show arena, the story says. Probst “wanted to do a high-minded show without celebrities or Jerry Springer-type guests -- but the audience has, so far, not shown up,” the story reports.

Latifah's talk show will debut next year, and representatives for the show have reportedly been quietly calling TV stations to let them know they’ll be ready to fill in when Probst’s contract expires. As the Post story puts it, "Already the buzzards are circling."

"It is rare, though not unheard of, for stations to pull syndicated shows off afternoon TV due solely to poor ratings," the piece notes.

Probst faces a competitive afternoon schedule, with shows from Katie Couric and Anderson Cooper also vying for viewers' attention. Regardless of what happens with the talk show, Probst has said he will be back as host of “Survivor.”

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He Couldn't Stay Away: Regis Philbin Returns to Daytime TV

Regis Philbin, who made his exit last fall after 28 years co-hosting the morning staple “Live,” is headed back to daytime television.

Philbin has signed on for a recurring guest spot on “Rachael Ray.” He will appear throughout the show’s seventh season.

Philbin, a five-time Emmy winner and the holder of the Guinness World Record for “Most Hours on Camera,” is set to debut in his new role on the Sept. 24 show.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am that Regis will be a recurring special guest on our show this season,” said Ray. “Regis has been a close friend of the show and a close friend of mine for years and it’ll be a blast having him on the team.”

Click here to read the full press release from “Rachael Ray.”

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Did NBC Blow It With Ann Curry and 'Today'? Ratings Tell the Story

About three months after NBC's morning program "Today" pushed out co-host Ann Curry -- a move that was apparently designed to recharge ratings for the show -- the program is dropping even further in the ratings, reports the New York Post.

With Savannah Guthrie taking over Curry's co-host role, the morning program is about to lose its third week in a row to ABC's "Good Morning America," both in total viewers and in the key news demo of viewers 25 to 54 years old, according to the piece.

Ratings for "Today" have slumped 7% this summer, even including a two-week boost from the Olympics.

With Curry in the lineup the show averaged 4.94 million total viewers and 2.1 million viewers 25 to 54 during the 10 weeks before her departure. The show dropped to 4.6 million total viewers and 1.9 million in the demographic during the 10 weeks following her ouster, the story notes.

"Good Morning America," meanwhile, attracted 4.7 million total viewers during the 10-week period ended Sept. 9, although it has lagged with an average of 1.75 million viewers 25 to 54.

"Today" is still maintaining an advertising premium, although that could change, according to ad buyers, the piece notes.

ABC is nearing agreements with first lady Michelle Obama and Ann Romney, who aspires to replace the first lady in the White House, to fill in for popular “GMA” co-host Robin Roberts, who is on medical leave, according to the story.

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Bill O'Reilly and Jon Stewart to Debate

Political pundits Bill O'Reilly, host of Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor," and Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," have agreed to get together for a 90-minute debate, dubbed "The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium," reports Deadline.com.

The event, in which the two will talk about the current presidential election, will be live streamed and viewers wishing to watch it will have to pay for the privilege.

The two men have squared off a number of times over the years in lively and sometimes heated political battles, including making appearances on each other's shows.

The encounter is set for Oct. 6 at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. O'Reilly mentioned the debate on his show last night, saying, “In order to illuminate the vital issues in the upcoming presidential election, Stewart and I will debate man to man, eye to eye -- well, not really, he’s a tiny guy."

Here's a clip featuring Stewart psyching up for the event:

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'Good Morning America' Maps Strategy to Get Along While Robin Roberts Is Out -- Including Deployment of a Fleet of Celebrity Guest Hosts; Some Impressive Names Are on the List (Including at Least One Former Queen of Daytime Talk)

"Good Morning America" is working on filling the void left by longtime host Robin Roberts’ medical leave from the morning show, and ABC appears to be lining up a roster of celebrities to fill in as guest hosts.

Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert will be among the first up, the Associated Press reports. Other substitutes will include the cast of ABC's "Modern Family," along with Oprah Winfrey and newswomen Barbara Walters, Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer, according to the piece.

The program will feature a different "Modern Family" cast member each day for a week, while actor Rob Lowe is also slated to appear as a guest host, according to Tom Cibrowski, the show's senior executive producer.

ABC is also putting the finishing touches on arrangements for first lady Michelle Obama and her political counterpart Ann Romney to fill in, as we reported earlier.

Roberts, who has the blood and bone marrow disease MDS, left “GMA” Aug. 30 and is out indefinitely. She is scheduled for a bone marrow transplant this week.

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'That '70s Show' Actress Cast in Project from 'Weeds' Creator

An actress known for her role on "That '70s Show" has been cast in a project from "Weeds" creator Jenji Kohan, reports Deadline.com. Laura Prepon is set for "Orange Is the New Black," based on the memoir by Piper Kerman about her experience behind bars.

The show is in the works at Netflix. Prepon will play a drug runner who gets the main character, played by Taylor Schilling, tangled up in crime, the story says. The Kerman character, who lacks street smarts, is eventually arrested and sent to prison for several years.

Australian actress Yael Stone has been cast as another inmate, the Boston-Italian woman Rosemarie Perrone, the piece adds.

Prepon had a long run as Donna on Fox’s “That ‘70s Show” from 1998 to 2006, and more recently played the title role in NBC’s “Are You There, Chelsea?”

laura-prepon.jpgLaura Prepon

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Baranski of CBS's 'The Good Wife': Emmys Race 'Not a Level Playing Field'

"The Good Wife' star Christine Baranski tells TVLine.com that the show's snub in the Emmys race has to do with the proliferation of big-budget cable dramas.

"It’s really a bummer," she said, referring to the show’s failure to receive a nomination in the best drama series category. "Why is our show even having to compete with these gigantic, lavishly produced cable shows that only do 10 episodes a year? It’s not a level playing field at all."

The drama series category includes nominees such as HBO’s "Boardwalk Empire" and "Game of Thrones," as well as PBS's "Downton Abbey” and Showtime’s “Homeland.”

Baranski herself is nominated for outstanding supporting actress in a drama series for CBS’s “The Good Wife.”

The actress said she's hoping to return to "The Big Bang Theory" for at least one episode. She plays the mother of Leonard on the show.

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FX Show at Center of Copyright Lawsuit

FX has been named in a copyright infringement lawsuit from writers Joseph Balsamo and Peter Ciancarelli, who claim the show "The League" is too close to a treatment they wrote for a project called "The Commissioner," reports TheWrap.com.

The lawsuit, filed last Thursday in U.S. District Court in New York, claims that both "The Commissioner" and "The League" track "a group of close friends" who "play in a fantasy football league for many years. The friends take joy in offending and torturing one another," according to the story.

"The League" recently ended its third season on FX.

The lawsuit alleges other similarities, such as groups of siblings who participate in the league, the piece notes. FX said it had no comment on the lawsuit, according to the story.

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'Bad Teacher' Writers Adapting U.K. Comedy Series for ABC -- in the Network's Second Try at the Show

ABC has bought a single-camera comedy based on an acclaimed British series, Deadline.com reports. The show is the 2006 U.K. comedy “Pulling.”

The adaptation will be written by "Bad Teacher" writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky. The project, which has received a script commitment with penalty, will be executive produced by the writers along with the show's original creators, Sharon Horgan and Dennis Kelly.

The show follows three single women in their 30s, one of whom was played by Horgan in the U.K. version. The women live together following the decision by one of them to back out of her wedding.

It's the second attempt for ABC at developing a U.S. version of the show, after it sought to do so during the 2008-09 season, the piece notes. At that time, ABC picked up the project to pilot but not to series.

The previous attempt involved writer Rob Hanning, showrunner Stacy Traub and executive producer Francie Calfo, the report notes.

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Video: Charlie Kaufman -- Working With 'Community' Creator Dan Harmon -- Seeks to Avoid Dealing With Hollywood, Turns to Crowdfunding With Offbeat Stop-Motion Pitch

Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, along with "Community" creator Dan Harmon, has turned to crowdfunding to get backing for a stop-motion project -- and the effort has paid off, reports Deadline.com.

Called "Anomalisa," the project raised a record $406,237 from Kickstarter, a website that helps people fund their projects via crowdsourcing. The total is more than double the project’s original goal of $200,000.

According to a video pitch on the site, the pair wanted "to make 'Anomalisa' without the interference of the typical big studio process,” the story notes. Below is the quirky video pitch -- which offers insights into the process of producing outside of the traditional Hollywood system:

The 50-minute film will start production in November. It's based on Kaufman's play about a man dealing with the banality of his existence, the story notes.

Kaufman is known for feature films including "Being John Malkovich" and "Adaptation."

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Fox Orders Superhero Drama From 'Homeland' Producer

Fox has given a script-plus-penalty order to "Homeland" executive producer Howard Gordon for a project about a young woman who creates a superhero persona to fight crime, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Gordon is working with "Chronicle" screenwriter Max Landis on "Vigilant," with Landis creating the idea and writing the script, the story says. Landis will also executive produce.

The project is about a 20-year-old woman who creates a fictional persona to fight crime in her city -- including taking on its corrupt police department, the piece notes.

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Mariah Carey Responds to Rumors of Feud With Fellow 'American Idol' Judge Nicki Minaj

During a press conference to unveil the new judging panel on Fox's "American Idol," judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj downplayed rumors of a feud between them, reports EW.com's Inside TV. Minaj didn’t have much to say on the subject, but Carey dismissed the reports.

"How can you feud in two days?” Carey said. “I think a feud takes a little longer [to build].”

Asked about their reasons for joining the show, Carey admitted she has "never been a fan of this type of thing." She added: "But I realized what this show has done for such talented artists -- truly giving them careers. … I really felt like this would be something to help bring out new talent and [for me] to be a part of that.”

Minaj revealed part of her motivation was the opportunity to "wear a whole bunch of different wigs."

nicki-minaj.jpgNicki Minaj

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Two Music Superstars Will Replace Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green in This Season's Second Edition of NBC's 'The Voice'

NBC's "The Voice" has two music superstars lined up to replace Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera on this season's second edition of the music reality show. Joining the lineup will be Usher and Shakira.

Both Green and Aguilera are "expected to return to the show next fall," writes our good frined James Hibberd at EW.com's Inside TV blog.

Hibberd adds, "The new additions are part of a plan by NBC and producers to develop an ongoing tent of talent for 'The Voice' that can be mixed and matched as needed. Given the judges’ level of success and tour schedules, it’s difficult to have any of them appear on the show all season now that NBC has decided to run the series in the fall and spring."

Hibberd quotes the show's executive producer, Mark Burnett, as saying, "Having award-winning artists as coaches means they need to be able to tour. Whether in the red chair or on tour, our coaches have their chairs for life. This is exactly why, after three seasons, we needed to allow them to rotate out so they can get on the road amongst their fans. Meanwhile, we’re incredibly excited to have singular artists like Usher and Shakira joining the fold.”

Hibberd adds, "Aguilera is releasing a new album and going on tour. Cee Lo is developing new music plus working on a scripted comedy series for NBC based on his life. Blake Shelton and Adam Levine will continue on 'The Voice' this spring (and you make your own snarky assumptions about that). 'The Voice' recently returned for its third season and though its ratings were down from previous seasons, it still managed to outshine the Britney-fueled second season premiere of Fox’s 'The X Factor.'"

As many will recall, both Shakira and Usher joined Stevie Wonder during President Obama's Inaugural to sing Wonder's funk classic "Higher Ground." Here's the video:

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Fun Trivia: This Past Weekend the 500,000th Error in Major League Baseball History Was Made By (a) Starlin Castro, (b) Jose Reyes, (c) Mark Reynolds or (d) TVWeek

Yes, we certainly make our share of gaffes here at TVWeek, but we did not commit Major League Baseball's 500,000th error.

"As baseball approached its unofficial 500,000th error, one thing was clear: It would most likely be made by a shortstop, the position most closely associated with the statistic," writes Benjamin Hoffman, in an article in The New York TImes published today, Sept. 17, 2012. Hoffman continues, "That it was Jose Reyes who reached the dubious milestone for baseball somehow seemed appropriate then.

"On Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, in the Miami Marlins’ victory over the playoff-bound Cincinnati Reds, Reyes made history on a simple ground ball by Drew Stubbs, flubbing a play he had made successfully thousands of times."

Hoffman adds later in his piece, "The march to 500,000 errors, while entertaining, was hardly official. On a countdown page created by sports-reference.com, Sean Forman, the site’s founder, began the post by saying, 'This is utterly random, completely meaningless and less than 100 percent accurate, but earlier this summer I noticed that M.L.B. was nearing 500,000 errors since 1876.' Clearly anticipating some backlash, Forman added, in bold, 'So always remember this milestone is for fun and is accurate to the best of our ability, but in no way 100 percent accurate.' "

Starlin Castro of the Chicago Cubs led the National League in errors last year with 29, and has a league-leading toal of 25 so far this year.

Mark Reynolds, who was the National League leader in errors in 2008 and 2009, is now in the American League, and won the 2011 most errors crown in the AL with 31 mistakes.

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Soap Star on 'General Hospital' and 'Days of Our Lives' Dies at 84. Was Acting Teacher to Such Actors as Nicolas Cage, Richard Dreyfuss and Julie Kavner.

A major star of daytime soap operas, who didn't received his first acting credit until he was 53, has died at age 84, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

According to the article, "[John] Ingle, who gained his first acting credit at 53, played [the stately patriarch Edward] Quartermaine from 1996 until December 2003 [on 'General Hospital'], then returned in April 2006 when the show’s producers responded to popular demand. In the interim, he starred as Mickey Horton on NBC’s 'Days of Our Lives.' "

The story adds, "Ingle began teaching acting at Hollywood High School in the mid-1950s, then worked at Beverly Hills High School until the 1980s. His ... students included [Nicolas Cage, Richard Dreyfuss] Swoosie Kurtz, David Schwimmer, Jonathan Prince, Julie Kavner, Stefanie Powers, Joanna Gleason and Albert Brooks."

The article also notes: "His daughter Jennifer noted on Facebook that her father, in a wheelchair, returned to the 'General Hospital' set Aug. 24 for what 'will undoubtedly be his last performance on the show. His scene was small, and he had very few words … but his presence on the set was monumental,' she wrote."john Ingle.bmp

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CW Developing 'Buffy'-Like Supernatural Drama Series

The CW has its sights set on repeating the success of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. The broadcast network has given a script order to a new supernatural drama, “Embrace,” based on the Jessica Shirvington book, the story reports.

“The hourlong project is based on the author's young-adult novel and revolves around twentysomething Violet Eden, who discovers that she's half angel and the key to a centuries-old war between fallen angels and their earthly protectors,” the report notes. “Bill Laurin and Glenn Davis are on board to write and executive produce the effort, which hails from CBS Television Studios.”

Also executive producing are Amblin Television's Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank.

“’Embrace’ joins the similarly themed supernatural drama ‘Copeland Prep’ in the network's development pipeline,” the story notes. “The Bret Easton Ellis and Fake Empire drama revolves around students at a secondary school so competitive that they're being turned into monsters and spreading the ramifications throughout the town.”

Catherine Hardwicke of “Twilight” is involved in the project as an executive consultant.

The CW also has the Wonder Woman prequel “Amazon” in the works.

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Soap Opera Shakeout Claims Another Casualty

A “regime change” at a long-running daytime drama, where a number of cast moves were recently announced, has apparently claimed another casualty.

The latest cast member to be dumped by CBS’s “The Young and the Restless” is Debbi Morgan, WeLoveSoaps.com reports. The Emmy-winning actress tweeted about her exit, saying, "To all my twitter fans. Wanted to B the first to tell you the new regime has let me go from Y&R. Will tape my last show Oct. 5th & I move on!"

Morgan’s departure follows news last week that soap opera legend Genie Francis -- another Emmy winner -- was off the show, as previously reported. Also out from “Y&R” is Marcy Rylan.

The We Love Soaps report describes the situation at the CBS show as a “massive housecleaning.” Other reports have hinted at discord behind the scenes under new executive producer Jill Farren Phelps, as we noted last week, while the word from the show has indicated budgetary concerns are the main impetus.

The latest report notes that James Avery, previously seen in “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” will join “The Young and the Restless” starting Oct. 12.

debbi-morgan.jpgDebbi Morgan

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'Modern Family' Star Gets Into a Beef at Dodger Stadium

One of the stars of the hit ABC sitcom “Modern Family” got into a hassle over the weekend while attending a baseball game at Dodger Stadium, TMZ.com reports.

Eric Stonestreet, who won an Emmy in 2010 for his performance as Cameron Tucker on the comedy series, reportedly was escorted from his seat after getting into a heated verbal exchange with a St. Louis Cardinals fan at the game. The Cardinals fan, who had reportedly been heckling one of the Dodgers players, was also escorted out, the story reports.

Stonestreet reportedly chatted with security for a while and later returned to his seat.

The actor later put out a tweet about the event, writing: "i did NOT get kicked out of the Dodgers game last night. did i get escorted to the top of the stairs by security? yes. yes i sure did."

eric-stonestreet.jpgEric Stonestreet

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Numbers Are In for Daytime Syndication's Premiere Week -- Here Are the Winners and Losers

A veteran daytime talk host earned bragging rights as the genre’s ratings leader, while a new entry also made its presence felt during the first week of the fall syndication season, Deadline.com reports.

Veteran Ellen DeGeneres came out on top in the ratings, averaging a 2.9 household rating/8 share and a 1.8/11 in women 25-54 in metered markets -- a big 45% improvement on her show’s fall 2011 premiere week in households and an even bigger 65% increase in women 25-54. Part of the increase can be credited to a stronger lead-in from “Steve Harvey” on NBC stations, the story notes.

“Another returning show to improve on its September 2011 performance was ‘Live! With Kelly and Michael’ (2.8/10 in HH, 1.6/11 in W25-54), which debuted a week earlier,” the report adds. “It posted the biggest fall premiere HH rating this year (3.3) for its September 4 opener, which introduced Kelly Ripa’s new permanent co-host Michael Strahan. Its Week 2 averages were up 4% and 14%, respectively, from September 2011 when the show was co-hosted by Regis Philbin.”

Placing third overall was “Dr. Phil,” which had the start of its season delayed by one day due to coverage of the U.S. Open tennis tournament. “Phil’s” numbers: 2.4/7, down 8%; 1.0/6, down 17%.

Katie Couric’s new talk show “Katie” was the front-runner among freshman talk shows, coming in fourth overall. “Katie” averaged a 2.3/7, equaling the time-slot average for a year ago, and a 1.2/7, down 14%. “The show got off to a strong start on Monday with a 2.8/8 and a 1.6/9,” the story reports. “It subsequently dropped to a 1.7/5 and 0.8/5 on Thursday but rebounded Friday with Jennifer Lopez as guest (2.2/6, 1.1/7).”

The report adds: “’Steve Harvey’ finished as a solid No. 2 new syndicated talk show (1.4/4 in HH, 40% time-slot improvement, 0.9/6 in W 25-54, up 80%). Trailing the pack were ‘Jeff Probst’ (0.8/3, 0.5/3) and ‘Ricki Lake’ (0.7/2, 0.4/2), though ‘Jeff Probst’ was able to tie sophomore ‘Anderson Live’ (1.2/4, 0.5/4) in the demo.”

One caveat about all the numbers is that there were some premptions because of other programming, such as the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Furthermore, as we have noted priviously, ""Ricki Lake" has faced an extra obstacle during premiere season, the story notes: A retransmission dispute between Tribune and Cablevision kept it off the air in 40% of the New York market."

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Documentary Series 'Independent Lens' Signs Emmy-Winning Actor as Its New Host

PBS has signed an Emmy Award-winning actor as the new host of the long-running documentary series "Independent Lens," reports Entertainment Weekly. Stanley Tucci is the latest distinguished star to host the series, following in the footsteps of Edie Falco, Don Cheadle, Susan Sarandon, Mary-Louise Parker, Angela Bassett, Maggie Gyllenhaal and others.

Tucci ("Julia & Julie," "The Hunger Games") won an Emmy for his lead performance in “Winchell” in 1999, along with an Emmy for a guest appearance on “Monk” in 2007. He also has an Oscar nomination on his resume, for a supporting role in the 2009 movie “The Lovely Bones.”

In a statement, Lois Vossen, "Lens’" senior producer, said: “Stanley Tucci truly embodies the spirit and essence of 'Independent Lens.' Incapable of giving a bad performance, he owns each role, yet continues to surprise audiences with every new character. His acclaimed work as an actor, director, producer, and screenwriter demonstrates how much he understands what it means to be an independent filmmaker. We are deeply honored that he chose to support our series.”

Tucci added: “I’ve been on both sides of the camera, and I can tell you: There’s no easy way to make these films. Behind every risk-taking expose and intimate portrait is an independent filmmaker who has spent years building trust, gaining access, and getting the story right. In the end, you get a great film told with passion and perspective.”

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Showtime Slates Return Date for Three Popular Series

Showtime has announced when three of its popular original series will premiere their new seasons, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The series are "Shameless," "House of Lies" and "Californication." All three will begin airing new episodes on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, the story reports -- "Shameless" at 9 p.m. ET, "House of Lies" at 10 p.m. and "Californication" at 10:30 p.m. ET.

The new season will be the third for “Shameless,” the second for “House of Lies” and the sixth for “Californication.”

The pay-cable channel released the following synopses for each of the shows in connection with the announcement of the premiere date:

"Shameless"

Jimmy (Justin Chatwin) has moved into the Gallagher home, and Fiona (Emmy Rossum) soon realizes that a GED will only get her so far and that a long-term relationship with Jimmy isn’t as fulfilling as she expected. Meanwhile, Frank (William H. Macy) reappears south of the border with no idea as to how he got there.

"House of Lies"

Marty (Don Cheadle) is the big-money earner at Galweather Stearn, who commands a hot, young team known as The Pod: Jeannie (Kristen Bell), Clyde (Ben Schwartz) and Doug (Josh Lawson). Marty and The Pod's work life revolves around first-class travel, top-shelf liquor and anything they can charge the client on a black Am Ex. Marty is the ultimate power player and under his direction, this ruthless, pull-no-punches team is here to beat the corporate suckers at their own game -- and they’re loving every minute of it. This season, The Pod -- especially Marty and Jeannie -- must deal with the fallout from the big merger showdown. Meanwhile, Marty is thrown by the arrival of a new “frenemy” at work and by Roscoe (Donis Leonard Jr.), who decides to move in with his lunatic mother, Monica (Dawn Olivieri).

"Californication"

Hank Moody (David Duchovny) continually struggles to be a good father to his college-aged daughter Becca (Madeleine Martin), while still carrying a torch for her mother, and his ex-girlfriend, Karen (Natascha McElhone). Rocker Atticus Fetch enlists the ever-cynical Hank to collaborate on the project (Broadway production of Hank’s hit novel), which he calls “a rock opera about love conquering all.”

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'New Girl' Taps Two Hollywood Icons to Play Parents

Fox's comedy "New Girl" has tapped two Hollywood Icons to play the parents of Zooey Deschanel’s character, Jess, reports EW.com's Inside TV. The roles will be taken by actor and director Rob Reiner and actress and author Jamie Lee Curtis, the story reports.

Jess will see her parents during the show's Thanksgiving episode, when the divorced pair meet and Jess tries to reunite them, the story says. The episode will air in November and will also feature Schmidt's cousin, also named Schmidt and played by actor Rob Riggle.

The show's second season debuts Sept. 25.

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Syfy Renews Series

The Syfy cable channel has made a decision to bring back a series for a third season, Deadline.com reports. The series is the paranormal show “Haunted Collector.”

“Season 2 of the series averaged 532,000 adults 18-49, 663,000 adults 25-54 and 1.17 million total viewers, growing 5%, 18% and 6%, respectively, from Season 1,” the story reports.

The show spotlights paranormal collector John Zaffis, who responds with an investigative team to complaints from people and companies that say paranormal forces have taken over various objects and are causing problems for them.

The series is from Gurney Productions, with Scott Gurney and Deirdre Gurney executive producing.

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Kathy Bates -- Who Has Been Nominated for 11 Emmys -- Finally Wins One! It's the Creative Arts Emmys Results. HBO's 'Game of Thrones' Sets the Pace With Six Wins. We Have the Complete List of Winners

"Kathy Bates, who did a guest role as the cigar-smoking ghost of the former lead character of the hit CBS sitcom 'Two and a Half Men,' won TV's most coveted statuette at Saturday's Creative Arts Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles," the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports.

After 11 Emmy nominations over the years, it was the first Emmy win for Bates, who recently revealed she had a double mastectomy as part of her breast cancer treatment.

According to the article, after winning the award Bates tweeted, "My thanks & respect to the inimitable Charlie Sheen without whom this recognition simply would not have been possible." Bates is also up for an acting award at Sunday's Primetime Emmys ceremony for her starring role on the now canceled "Harry's Law." 

As far as individual shows are concerned, HBO's "Game of Thrones" won six Creative Arts Emmys, setting up a rivalry with several other cable dramas that will play out during the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards this coming Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012, reports The New York Times.

For a complete list of this year's Creative Arts Emmys winners, please click here.

"Boardwalk Empire," another HBO show, received three Creative Arts Emmys, while "Downton Abbey" from PBS and Showtime's "Homeland" each received two. The four dramas will be vying for outstanding drama in the Primetime Emmys, along with AMC's "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad," the story notes.

"Saturday Night Live" picked up four Creative Arts Emmys, as did the drama "Great Expectations" and the documentary series "Frozen Planet." The History miniseries "Hatfields & McCoys" won three and "Deadliest Catch" won two, the piece adds.

The Creative Arts Emmys recognize technical achievement on television.

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Report: Robert Pattinson Has Forgiven Kristen Stewart for Cheating on Him -- Just in Time for a High-Profile Appearance Together

"Twilight" stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart are reportedly back together again, just a few months after he left her when a cheating scandal erupted, reports the British publication The Sun.

Pattinson, 26, reportedly forgave Stewart, 22, for her affair with her "Snow White" director Rupert Sanders, 41, the piece says.

After Stewart's father asked him to reconcile with his daughter, Pattinson agreed to meet with her. After "long tearful talks," the pair have patched things up, the story says. They are now in a "secluded pad in the same Los Angeles compound where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have a place," according to the report.

The reconciliation comes in time for the two “Twilight” stars to make a scheduled November appearance on the red carpet in support of the final “Twilight” movie, “Breaking Dawn -- Part 2,” Fox News notes.

A source reportedly told The Sun: “Kristen poured her heart out to Robert and told him it was a one-off and a mistake. ... Rob can see how truly sorry Kristen is and has totally forgiven her. They really do love each other.”

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After Being Ordered by Judge to Stop Driving, Amanda Bynes Apparently Does It Again -- This Time She Has Her Car Impounded -- So Why Is Lindsay Lohan Sounding Off About Bynes' Situation?

Former Nickelodeon star Amanda Bynes, who had been ordered by a judge to stop driving, was pulled over while driving and had her car impounded on Sunday, reports People.com.

The Burbank Airport Police confirmed Bynes was stopped and cited for driving with a suspended license, the story notes. Bynes wasn't arrested during the incident, which occurred near the entrance to the Bob Hope Airport. The police wouldn't say why she was stopped, the piece adds.

Bynes, who reportedly had her license suspended because of cases involving a DUI and two hit-and-runs, was ordered last week to stop driving after being pulled over for not having her headlights on, as previously reported.

Bynes’ situation has apparently been upsetting to another young actress who has had her own run-ins with the law. TMZ.com reports that Lindsay Lohan responded to news of Bynes’ problems with a tweet indicating Lohan feels Bynes might be getting off too easy.

Lohan tweeted: “Why did I get put in jail and a nickelodeon star has had NO punishment(s) so far?” TMZ reported.

The report notes that Bynes was arrested on a DUI charge, but hasn’t been convicted of the charge.

Bynes starred in the Nickelodeon shows “All That” and “The Amanda Show” and the WB’s “What I Like About You” before going on to a successful film career, appearing in movies such as “What a Girl Wants."

Thumbnail image for amanda-bynes2.jpgAmanda Bynes

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CBS Orders Project From Co-Creator of 'Rescue Me'

CBS has given a put pilot commitment to Jim Gaffigan and Peter Tolan for a single-camera comedy loosely based on Gaffigan's life, reports Deadline.com.

Tolan is the co-creator of "Rescue Me." The pair will co-write the story, although Tolan will write the script, which is about a man who lives with his wife and five children in a two-bedroom apartment in New York City.

Gaffigan's first starring role was on CBS's "Welcome to New York." He has appeared on "The Ellen Show" and TBS's "My Boys."

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Consumers Already Crazy About the iPhone 5. At 2 Million, Apple Gets More Than Double the Number of Preorders It Got for the iPhone 4S. Some Preorders Won't Be Filled Until October. And AT&T Sets Sales Record With iPhone 5 Preorders

Apple said today, Sept. 17, 2012, that "iPhone 5 preorders topped 2 million in 24 hours -- more than double the amount of preorders it had for the iPhone 4S," reports USA Today.

The story continues, "The company said that because demand exceeds initial supply, some preorders will be delivered in October although most will be delivered this Friday, Sept. 21, 2012.

Also, "AT&T, said it set a sales record for the iPhone 5, with customers ordering more of them than any previous iPhone model on the first day of preorders and over the weekend."

The article adds, " 'Apple expected the preorders to be a one-day cycle, and they were shocked that it was just one hour. They clearly were caught by surprise by the size of the orders,' says [Richard Doherty, an independent tech analyst at Envisioneering Group]. Had they continued fulfilling online orders, 'they might have only had two phones available at stores on Friday.' "

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ABC Buys Comedy Based on 'Fat, Forty and Fired' Book

ABC has given a put pilot commitment to a project based on the book "Fat, Forty and Fired," about a man who loses his job and realizes life involves more than work, reports Deadline.com.

The project comes from writer Jeff Astrof, who is adapting the memoir from Nigel Marsh, the story says. Astrof, a co-executive producer on the new CBS comedy "Partners," is executive producing with Mike Karz and Josie Rosen, while Warner Bros. TV is producing the project.

The memoir recounts nine months in the author's life when he stayed at home with his children after his company shut down, the story says.

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Cable Networks Book $9.8 Billion in Upfront, Surpassing Broadcast

Cable networks booked almost $9.8 billion in upfront sales this year, surpassing the broadcast upfront, reports Jon Lafayette in B&C.

The growth rate for the 2012-13 upfront was 5%, lower than the double-digit gains recorded during the two previous years, the story notes.

CBS, Fox, ABC, NBC and The CW likely booked about $9 billion in upfront sales, a decline of 2% from a year earlier, according to RBC Capital Markets.

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'American Idol' Makes Its New Judges Lineup Official

"American Idol" has officially named its new panel of four judges, reports Bill Carter in The New York Times. The two new judges are Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban, who will join Mariah Carey, also new to the show, and original judge Randy Jackson.

"Fox was under pressure to get deals finalized with Ms. Minaj and Mr. Urban because the first tapings of auditions for a new season of 'Idol' begin Sunday night [Sept. 16] in New York; the shows will begin broadcasts in January. The network had held off from confirming the widespread rumors of their selection because they had not signed their contracts until this weekend," Carter writes.

Urban and Minaj replace Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, who both worked on the show for two seasons. The changes come after the program's ratings dropped about 30% last season, the piece adds.

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Real-Life 'Walking Dead'? Security Firm Schedules Zombie Crisis Scenario

A security firm might be taking a page from the television show "The Walking Dead": HALO Corp. is planning a zombie crisis scenario at a 44-acre resort in San Diego, reports MilitaryTimes.com.

The company will hold a five-day event, using "immersive Hollywood sets including a Middle Eastern village and a pirates’ haven," according to the story. Brad Barker, the president of HALO, is calling the summit the "Zombie Apocalypse," the piece reports.

The Oct. 30-Nov. 2 event is "very whimsical,” Barker notes. The use of zombies is a way to highlight that responders need to be ready for anything, the piece explains.

Zombies will harass troops and other participants. HALO declined to disclose details, however. "They are going to see a lot of stuff go down,” Barker said. “It is a Hollywood production.”

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Huge Shakeup at Fox. Longtime Fox Filmed Entertainment Co-Chairman Tom Rothman Exiting at Year's End. Implications for TV Division

"Tom Rothman will step down as Chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment at the end of the year," News Corp has announced. The announcement continued, "Leadership of the film unit has been consolidated under Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos, who has served with Rothman since 2000."

The announcement also says, "In conjunction with Rothman’s departure, News Corporation announced a reorganization of its studio operations that separates the film and television production units...Twentieth Century Fox Television, which also includes Fox Television Studios and Fox 21, is now an autonomous business unit within News Corporation, and will no longer be combined with the Company’s film operations. Accordingly, current Co-Chairs Dana Walden and Gary Newman will now report directly to Chase Carey, News Corporation’s President and Chief Operating Officer."

The announcement adds, “ 'I have been at Fox for over 18 years, the bulk of my adult working life,” Rothman said. “In that time we have accomplished more than I ever imagined, from the founding and nurturing of Fox Searchlight, to overseeing the two biggest films in box office history, to keeping us consistently at the highest levels of industry profits, including this most recent strong fiscal year, and, most of all, making dozens of films that I believe will stand the test of time. I’m deeply proud of that run. But even more, I am eternally grateful to have had the honor and opportunity to work with the marvelous people here at Fox. I will miss them hugely. Still, I have done the same job, at the same place, for a very long time, and it is time for me to write a new chapter. I love 20th Century Fox and take great comfort knowing that we have an amazing slate of pictures in place for the next several years. I know that Jim and all my terrific colleagues at Fox, will continue our long tradition of winning ways, and I will help in the transition in any ways I can.”

The Deadline article about Rothman's pending exit, which was co-written by Nikki Finke and Mike Fleming at Deadline.com.says,"Reagrding [sic] Rothman, 'it was an amicable parting of ways. Tom wants to do something different. He had an amazing run and is a huge part of our success over the past two decades,' a Fox insider tells us. 'Jim is a great leader. We’re in amazing hands.' ”

Finke and Fleming then add in their article, "Today’s shocker follows yet another lackluster summer performance for Twentieth Century Fox live action films, capping several years of missteps and misfires, and Hollywood rumors were running rampant that Rothman would be fired. Especially embarrassing for Rothman was this summer’s huge worldwide success of 'Ted,' a Media Rights Capital movie project from Twentieth TV star Seth MacFarlane that Rothman turned down and which went on to make a fortune for Universal Pictures...What Rothman will do next is unknown, but sources made it clear to us today that Rothman is not going to Comcast/Universal which was most frequently mentioned."

To read News Corporation's official announcement in its entirety, please click here.

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Emmy Awards Heavyweight to Direct Oscars

A veteran director whose list of industry awards -- along with his experience in directing awards shows -- is virtually unmatched has been named as director of the 85th Academy Awards, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Don Mischer, who has won 13 Primetime Emmys -- many of them for awards shows -- joins a team that already includes veteran producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. It will be Mischer’s third consecutive year directing the event.

In a statement, Zadan and Meron said: "For a very long time, we had always hoped to work with Don Mischer. His talent and reputation are unsurpassed, and we're so happy he will be our collaborator on the 85th Academy Awards."

The Oscars telecast will air live on ABC on Feb. 24, 2013, from the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center.

Mischer’s long track record of Emmy-winning work includes multiple awards for “The Kennedy Center Honors” and the Tony Awards, honors for a number of music-oriented programs, including “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever” (1983), “Motown Returns to the Apollo” (1985) and “Irving Berlin’s 100th Birthday Celebration” (1988), and recognition for comedy specials such as “Bob Hope: The First 90 Years” (1993).

Mischer also has a long string of Directors Guild of America Awards, along with other industry honors.

don-mischer.jpgDon Mischer

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Video: Did Talk Show Host Fall Asleep on Camera? He Denies It, but You May Think Otherwise

A radio and TV sports talk host is denying he took a little snooze while a call-in commentator was gabbing away about the Yankees during his show, The New York Times reports.

A look at the video, included below, might suggest otherwise.

During the interview Monday with New York Yankees watcher Sweeny Murti on WFAN-AM -- simulcast on the YES Network -- host Mike Francesa appeared to fall asleep, the paper reports. Francesa denies that he dozed off, although he admits, “I was dragging during the show.”

Francesa's head drooped and his eyes appeared closed. After a few moments, his head whipped back and his eyes opened wide, as if he were suddenly awakened. A longtime sports talk show star in the New York area, Francesa revealed that the night before the show he had been up most of the night with his son's asthma troubles.

Still, he insists he didn’t catch a snooze. “You can listen to the interview. I was never asleep,” he said, adding that he vowed “never to close my eyes again or come in without sleep.”

Francesa said he only bothered to explain the incident because of his wife's urging and the request of Mark Chernoff, WFAN's operations manager.

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Soap Opera Dumps One of the Genre's Acting Legends -- Is It About Budget Cuts, or Something Else?

An actress who has carved out a career as one of the legends of the soap opera genre has been dumped by her current daytime drama.

CBS’s long-running “The Young and the Restless” is dropping Genie Francis from the show, CBS Soaps in Depth reports. Francis has been playing Genevieve Atkinson on the CBS show, but is best known for her decades-long portrayal of Laura Spencer on ABC’s “General Hospital.” Francis won a daytime Emmy for that role in 2007.

Francis, who has also appeared on “All My Children” and “Days of Our Lives,” is being dropped after about a year on “Restless.”

A source said the move was being made for budget reasons, but a spokesperson for the soap noted that the show does not comment on issues involving contracts.

A separate report, by Soap Central, notes that the show has seen personnel changes behind the camera, and indicates the move may be motivated by something other than financial concerns.

“The network higher-ups at CBS were reportedly not fans of Francis' on-screen alter ego, and saw the recent behind-the-scenes changes to the show's writing and production teams as a way to write out the character,” the story reports. “There have been numerous claims floating around the Internet that Francis and ‘Y&R's’ executive producer Jill Farren Phelps do not have a cordial relationship. Phelps recently refuted those claims.”

Phelps is quoted by Soap Opera Digest saying: "I was the music director [at ‘General Hospital’] when Luke and Laura got married, so I've known Genie since she was a very young girl -- and I was a very young girl. I think she’s a wonderful actress and I’m very fond of her. There is no personal acrimony between us."

The latest move is likely to rekindle speculation among soap fans about whether Francis might soon return “home” to “General Hospital,” Soap Central notes.

The 1981 wedding of Francis’ Laura to Anthony Geary’s Luke remains the most-watched daytime soap opera episode of all time, the report notes.

genie-francis.jpgGenie Francis

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NBC Series Has Its Lowest-Rated Finale Ever

With CBS and ABC still airing mostly repeats, Fox and NBC slugged it out for the top spot in the broadcast ratings Thursday night -- and Fox’s new season of “The X Factor” and season premiere of “Glee” proved to be more than a match for NBC’s two-hour season finale of “America’s Got Talent.”

The NBC talent competition managed a 2.4 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, according to Nielsen overnights reported by TVbytheNumbers.com. That was the show’s lowest rating ever for a season finale, and a big drop from the 3.6 the finale delivered a year ago. This year’s finale may have been hurt by airing on a Thursday rather than the show’s more tradition Wednesday, the story notes.

NBC’s 10 p.m. broadcast of “Rock Center with Brian Williams” offered some good news for the network, delivering a series high (not counting specials) with a 1.4 in viewers 18-49.

On Fox, “The X Factor” slipped to a 3.1 average rating in 18-49, down three-tenths of a ratings point from the premiere the previous night. “Glee’s” season premiere pulled a 3.3, down from a 4.0 a year ago.

CBS’s only fresh program was “Big Brother,” which delivered a 2.0 in adults 18-49. On ABC, a fresh installment of “Wipeout” managed only a 1.1.

Adjustments are expected in the numbers due to an NFL telecast in some markets.

Fox coasted to an easy win for prime time overall with a 3.2 in the 18-49 demo, followed by NBC (2.0), CBS (1.6), Univision (1.5) and ABC (0.8). In total viewers it was NBC on top with 9.0 million, followed by Fox (8.2 million), CBS (5.8 million), Univision (3.6 million) and ABC (2.9 million).

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Rupert Murdoch's Replacement Named as Media Mogul Steps Down From U.K. Newspapers Post

A replacement has been named for Rupert Murdoch as chairman of Times Newspapers Holdings Ltd., the British subsidiary of News Corp. that publishes The Times and The Sunday Times, Deadline.com reports.

Taking over from Murdoch will be News Corp. Director Andrew Knight, with Murdoch stepping down as part of the proposed split of News Corp. into separate entertainment and publishing companies.

“Knight, who was once chairman of News Corp.’s U.K. press subsidiary, News International, has sat on the News Corp. board since 1991,” the story reports. “He was also chairman of the Compensation Committee and a member of the Audit Committee of the board. He’ll officially resign from the board at the company’s annual meeting on Oct. 16.

Said Murdoch: “His experience and insight as a journalist and as an executive will be a huge asset to The Times and The Sunday Times as they face the challenges and seize the opportunities of the future.”

Also on Knight’s resume are stints as CEO and editor-in-chief of the Daily Telegraph and editor of The Economist, the story notes.

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Sharon Osbourne Makes Good on Her Threat, Signs Off From NBC's 'America's Got Talent'

Sharon Osbourne signed off from "America's Got Talent" Thursday night, following up on a threat she made in her anger over NBC’s treatment of her son Jack, Deadline.com reports.

NBC executives have started the process of finding a new judge to fill her spot, the story notes.

Osbourne made her departure official during Thursday’s season finale while consoling the dance troop The Untouchables, who were eliminated from the program. "Don’t be sad, because it’s my last show, too. So we’re leaving together!” Osbourne told them, according to the piece.

Howard Stern didn't talk about his plans after his contract ends this season, although NBC would like him to continue, the piece adds.

As previously reported, Osbourne last month said she would quit "America's Got Talent" in a dispute with NBC involving her son, Jack Osbourne. Sharon Osbourne has accused the network of dropping Jack from the NBC show "Stars Earn Stripes” because Jack has multiple sclerosis.

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Mandy Patinkin Reveals Why Joining 'Criminal Minds' Was the 'Biggest Public Mistake I Ever Made'

Mandy Patinkin, speaking with New York Magazine, said joining the CBS drama series "Criminal Minds" was "the biggest public mistake I ever made."

Patinkin left the series suddenly in 2007, before the third season started, surprising the show's creators. He has only recently started talking about his decision to leave, the story notes.

“The biggest public mistake I ever made was that I chose to do ‘Criminal Minds’ in the first place,” Patinkin said. “I thought it was something very different. I never thought they were going to kill and rape all these women every night, every day, week after week, year after year. It was very destructive to my soul and my personality. After that, I didn’t think I would get to work in television again.”

Patinkin will appear in the second season of Showtime's "Homeland" later this month, starring as CIA agent Carrie Mathison's (Claire Danes) mentor, Saul Berenson.

He said he views "Homeland," which also includes violence, as bearing a message that stands in contrast to crime shows such as "Criminal Minds."

“I’m not making a judgment on the taste [of people who watch crime procedurals],” he told the magazine. “But I’m concerned about the effect it has. Audiences all over the world use this programming as their bedtime story. This isn’t what you need to be dreaming about. A show like 'Homeland' is the antidote. It asks why there’s a need for violence in the first place.”

Patinkin is known for his work in stage musicals (“Evita,” “Sunday in the Park with George”), along with roles on television series including “Chicago Hope” and “Dead Like Me” and performances in feature films such as “The Princess Bride” and “Alien Nation.”

mandy-patinkin.jpgMandy Patinkin

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Is Reality TV Bad for Business? 'Jersey Shore' Star Banned From Restaurant for Two Years -- Restaurant Gets Swatted Too, as Authorities Make a Statement About the 'Mayhem That Can Be Associated With Reality Television'

One of the stars of MTV’s "Jersey Shore" was barred from a restaurant for two years after a June 10 incident that led to her arrest, reports E! Online.com.

Deena Cortese was banned from the Spicy Cantina & Mexican Grille in Seaside Heights, N.J. After stopping at the restaurant for 90 minutes on June 10, Cortese, 25, walked on the bar, stood on patrons' tables and then danced outside in traffic, the story says. She was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct, as previously reported.

An MTV film crew was on hand to document the whole scene, the report notes.

The restaurant was hit harder than the reality star. Spicy will pay $15,000 for serving Cortese after she was visibly intoxicated and for providing her with drinks she did not order, which is against the law, the story notes.

In a statement, Michael Halfacre, director of the state’s Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, took a swipe at reality TV, saying: "This settlement is a cautionary tale for licensees who might think ignoring the law for the sake of airtime is good for business. By turning a blind eye to the mayhem that can be associated with reality television, you are risking your livelihood. That is, without a doubt, bad for business."

As for Cortese’s criminal charges, they were dismissed in July after she paid a $106 fine and pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of failing to use a sidewalk, the report notes.

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Former Nickelodeon Star Ordered by Judge to Stop Driving

A former Nickelodeon star was ordered by a judge in Superior Court in Los Angeles this week to stop driving after having her license suspended a week ago, reports People.com.

Amanda Bynes was stopped on Sunday by police officers because her headlights weren't on, but wasn't asked to show her license at that time, the story notes. Bynes had lost her driving privileges last week while facing charges stemming from a DUI charge and two hit-and-run counts, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Bynes starred in the Nickelodeon shows “All That” and “The Amanda Show” and the WB’s “What I Like About You” before going on to a successful film career, appearing in “What a Girl Wants,” “She’s the Man,” “Hairspray” and other features.

Bynes' representative didn't return requests for comment, People.com reports.

amanda-bynes2.jpgAmanda Bynes

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NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke Talks About Plan to 'Rebuild NBC Brick by Brick'

Turning around NBC remains a top priority for NBCUniversal, Chief Executive Steve Burke said at an investor conference Thursday, Jon Lafayette reports in B&C.

"We think we're ahead of where we thought we would be. We feel like we've done a lot, made a lot of progress," Burke said, according to the story. He added, "There's still a lot more to be done."

Including syndication, affiliates and the network, NBC makes "a little money, but not very much," he noted.

"There's no reason for that other than we need to make better shows. We need to rebuild NBC brick by brick, which is the process that we're going through right now," he said.

Burke sees opportunity for NBC to make more money on retransmission consent, wanting to match the $250 million CBS expects to earn in retrans this year. He added that NBC generates "essentially no money on retransmission consent," according to the story.

The station group is improving and will make an estimated $400 million this year after making less than $150 million per year previously, the piece adds.

"This is a political year, this is an Olympics year, but we've made real progress in fairly short order just by reinvesting in local news and developing syndicated shows like ‘Steve Harvey’ and really putting our attention back to that broadcast business," Burke noted.

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Important Non-TV Story: The Stock Market Soared Yesterday After an Announcement From the Federal Reserve. Here's What Ben Bernanke and Our Central Bank Did That They Have Never Done Before

On Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, the central bank of the United States "announced it would buy agency-backed mortgage-backed securities and long-term Treasurys, expanding its balance sheet by around $85 billion a month through the end of the year. But the Fed's new policy is far more radical than this description might suggest. Several features of the policy mark a stark departure from past practices."

So writes CNBC's John Carney in an article titled "Three Things Fed Did Today It's Never Done Before." 

Carney continues, "In the past, when the Fed announced a Large Scale Asset Purchase program -- LSAP, in Fed speak -- it indicated its maximum size and duration. ... But this time, the Fed has explicitly declared that the LSAPs will continue until economic conditions improve. What's more, the Fed said it would undertake additional LSAPs and employ "other policy tools" so long as the economy is underperforming."

Secondly, "The Fed's policy is very explicitly tied to the labor market," Carney writes. " 'If the outlook for the labor market does not improve substantially, the Committee will continue its purchases of agency mortgage-backed securities, undertake additional asset purchases, and employ its other policy tools as appropriate until such improvement is achieved in a context of price stability,' the Fed said in its official statement. This explicit tying of the LSAP to the labor market is unprecedented."

Finally, Carney notes: "The Fed's statement was actually pretty upbeat about the economy. ... What the Fed did today was announce that its policy was not based on a forecast of things getting worse -- but on a desire for things to improve faster. In short, it announced that the central bank intended to change the pace of recovery. This is a bold new world for Fed policy."

The Associated Press wrote yesterday, Sept. 13, 2012, that based upon what the Fed announced, the U.S. stock market soared: "The Dow Jones industrial average spiked more than 200 points and cleared 13,500 for the first time since the beginning of the Great Recession. The average is within 625 points of its all-time high."

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'Harry Potter' Author Slates First U.S. TV Interview to Promote New Book

J.K. Rowling, the author of the "Harry Potter" children's book series, has lined up her first U.S. television interview to promote her new book, reports the New York Post.

Rowling will be interviewed about the book -- which is an adult novel -- by ABC's Cynthia McFadden, the story reports. The interview will be featured on "Good Morning America," "World News with Diane Sawyer" and "Nightline" on Wednesday, Sept. 26.

A second part of the interview will air the following day on "Good Morning America."

Rowling has sold more than 450 million books, the story notes. The interview represents a coup for ABC News and "Good Morning America," which has been on a roll in its ratings battle with NBC’s “Today” show. “GMA” beat "Today" by almost 800,000 total viewers last week, the piece notes.

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Nancy Dubuc -- Who Hit One Out of the Park With 'Hatfields and McCoys' -- Gets a New Deal and New Title at A&E Nets

Following the success of the History miniseries "Hatfields and McCoys," A&E Networks has given a new deal to Nancy Dubuc, reports The New York Times' Bill Carter, who calls Dubuc "one of the most important programming executives in cable television."

As part of the deal, Dubuc will be promoted to the new position of president of entertainment and media for A&E Networks. That means she will oversee programming for all the networks run by the company, including Lifetime, History and A&E, the piece notes.

"All the content at all the networks will now report to me,” Dubuc told Carter, noting that other television companies had tried to hire her.

“I had a lot of calls and it was very flattering,” she said. “I take it with a great deal of humility.”

She added that she has "so much confidence in these brands," which was what led her to accept the promotion, the piece adds. History is the No. 2 network in cable in the 25-54 demo and ranks in the top five in viewers 18-49, the story notes. “Hatfields and McCoys,” which premiered in May, delivered more than 14 million viewers.

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NBC Gives Script Order to Comedy From Ellen DeGeneres and Her Producer

NBC has given a script order to a comedy from Ellen DeGeneres and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" producer Lauren Pomerantz, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Pomerantz will write and executive produce the program, which tracks an independent 32-year-old single woman. Pomerantz also is a writer and producer on "Ellen."

DeGeneres will work as an executive producer on the show, through her A Very Good Production company, the piece adds. DeGeneres' company has also sold a comedy to Fox based on the Internet series "Couple Time."

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Disney Says Summer Ad Sales at ABC Were Softer Than Expected

Advertising sales at ABC over the summer were softer than had been predicted, cautioned Walt Disney Chief Financial Officer James A. Rasulo, who spoke at a Wall Street conference Thursday, The New York Times reports.

"We did not see the kind of rebound after the Olympics that we thought we would see,” Rasulo said. "We did not have great ratings over the summer.” He noted that the network has high expectations for the fall.

Disney will also take a $50 million writedown at its movie studio, after scrapping a project. "After looking at it, we’ve decided we don’t want to continue with it," he said.

The film is a stop-motion animated film from Henry Selick, who is known for his stop-action movie "Coraline," the piece adds.

The decision came from Alan F. Horn, who became the chairman of the movie studio at the start of the summer, the story notes.

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What Do Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Eva Mendes and Kate Hudson Have in Common?

Actors Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Eva Mendes and Kate Hudson have something in common, according to The Hollywood Reporter: They will all be appearing in Larry David's new HBO movie, called "Clear History."

David is firming up the cast for the movie, which will also star Danny McBride, Phillip Baker Hall, Bill Hader, Amy Ryan and JB Smoove, the story notes.

The movie will begin taping in Massachusetts this fall, with Greg Mottola directing and executive producing. The project stars David as Nathan Flomm, a former marketing executive who lost a fortune after leaving his stake in an electric company now worth billions following a fight with his boss, the story says.

After changing his name to Rolly DaVore, Flomm is living on an island off Massachusetts when his former boss appears to fix up his summer home, sparking Flomm's desire to seek revenge, the piece adds.

Among the roles cast, Hamm will play the former boss, while Hader will play a man who will help David in his plan. Hudson will portray Hamm's wife, Keaton will be a local quarry operator and McBride will play Flomm's best friend.

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Dish CEO Responds to Moonves Threat About Pulling CBS if Dish Doesn't Kill Its Ad-Zapping DVR: 'Give Consumers Choice, Not a Bunch of Trash' Commercials!

In a heated war of words, Dish CEO Joe Clayton is not being intimidated by CBS chief Les Moonves.

CBS " 'would be well advised to tune into the consumer,' Clayton said at an event introducing an October 2 broadcast debate between former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and commentator Glenn Beck, reports our good friend David Lieberman at Deadline.com.

Clayton continued: "Give the customer choice and control. Give the customer a better experience and we all win. Will innovation like the Auto-Hop improve the consumer experience? Of course it will. I don’t know how the courts will rule on this. But I know that we’ve won in the court of public opinion."

The article adds that Clayton "urged the networks to investigate technologies that can deliver different ads to different households. 'Give them what they want. Not a bunch of trash.' ”

Glenn Beck added, according to the story, "The days of commercials as we know them are limited. It’s not the 1950s anymore.”

As TVWeek reported earlier today, Moonves "threatened to drop [CBS] from satellite operator Dish Network unless Dish gives up its Auto Hop ad-skipping device."

Currently Dish is in litigation with CBS and the other networks about Dish's ad-skipping DVR. 

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With 'SNL's' 'Mitt Romney' on Board (Jason Sudeikis), the Show Finds Its New 'Barack Obama'

With the election season heating up, "Saturday Night Live" has decided to make a change in its political lineup -- scrapping its past Barack Obama impressionist and giving the job to another cast member.

Fred Armisen, who has been doing Obama on the show, is stepping aside in favor of Jay Pharoah, who joined the show in 2010, to portray President Obama in sketches, reports Bill Carter in The New York Times.

"Jay has been doing Obama in his act this summer, and Jay is coming into his own,” said producer Lorne Michaels. “I just thought it might be time to shake it up.”

Armisen will still have plenty of work on the show, with Michaels calling Armisen "the backbone of the show now."

The change means Pharoah will be facing off against Jason Sudeikis as presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. As previously reported, Sudeikis decided just this week to return to the show, which returns Saturday.

Here’s a video of Pharoah in a 2009 stand-up appearance in which he does an early version of his Barack Obama impression:

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Fox's 'X Factor' and NBC's 'The Voice' Go Head-to-Head and Here's What Happened: 'The X-Factor' Season Debut Was Down Significantly Over Last Year. When the Shows Went Head-to-Head, 'The Voice' Beat 'The X Factor.' But Fox Won the Night in Viewers 18-49

The first head-to-head showdown between Fox’s “The X Factor” and NBC’s “The Voice” took place Wednesday night, with both shows seemingly coming out on the short end.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the two-hour premiere of “The X Factor” scored a 3.3 average rating in Nielsen overnights in the key 18-49 demo -- later adjusted to a 3.4 with additional time zone figures. The number is down significantly from the 4.4 the premiere delivered a year ago.

The first hour of “X Factor” went up against NBC’s one-hour installment of “The Voice,” and “X Factor” fell short there too. Hour one of the show delivered a 2.7 in viewers 18-49, to a 3.3 for “The Voice.” But the NBC’s show’s number was off seven-tenths of a ratings point from the 4.0 average delivered by Tuesday’s installment of the show.

"Among younger demos, 'The X Factor' won the night outright, beating the next highest-rated show by +17% in Teens," reports RBR-TVBR.

NBC's “America’s Got Talent,” scored a 2.9 in the 18-49 demo -- a season high for a Wednesday installment. The network’s “Guys With Kids” premiered at 10 p.m. with a 2.2.

ABC aired all reruns, while CBS put up only a fresh episode of Big Brother (2.0 average rating in 18-49) along with a batch of repeats, leaving Fox and NBC to fight it out.

Fox ended up No. 1 for the night with a 3.3 average rating for prime time in viewers 18-49, followed by NBC (2.7 average), Univision (1.5), CBS (1.5) and ABC. NBC turned the table in total viewers with 8.9 million to 8.4 million for Fox, followed by CBS with 6.1 million, Univision with 3.7 million and ABC with 3.0 million.

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Showtime Renews Matt LeBlanc Comedy Series

The Matt LeBlanc sitcom about Matt LeBlanc the sitcom actor has been renewed for a third season by Showtime, reports Deadline.com. David Nevins, President of Entertainment, Showtime Networks Inc., announced the renewal of “Episodes” today.

The show, which is a co-production of Showtime and the BBC, will begin production of the new season in 2013, with nine half-hour installments on tap, shooting in both Los Angeles and London.

Season one of "Episodes" earned three Emmy nominations, for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Matt LeBlanc), Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, and Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music. It also received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Television Series, Comedy or Musical.

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'All in the Family' Star Arrested

An actress known for her role on the seminal 1970s CBS sitcom “All in the Family” has been arrested, TMZ.com reports. Sally Struthers was reportedly picked up Wednesday in Maine on suspicion of drunk driving.

Struthers, best known for her role as Gloria Stivic on "All In the Family," has also been a familiar presence as a spokesperson for ChildFund International. The 65-year-old actress was taken into custody after being stopped at 12:30 a.m., and was released after posting bail of $160, the story reports.

Struthers was in Maine for a job starring in the musical "9 to 5." She's due in court for arraignment Dec. 14.

The story notes that Struthers does not risk jail time, with punishment for a first offender being a $500 fine and 90-day license suspension.

sally-struthers.jpgSally Struthers

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'Community' Star Developing New Show for NBC

One of the stars of NBC’s “Community” has been tapped by the network to develop a new show, TVGuide.com reports. Donald Glover, who plays former high school quarterback Troy Barnes on “Community,” is pairing with "30 Rock" co-executive producer Matt Hubbard on the new sitcom project, the story reports.

The comedy would be a starring vehicle for Glover, with NBC said to be close to a deal for a put pilot. The show would be based on Glover's life.

The new project would be in second position to "Community," on which Glover is committed for the show's fourth season, the piece adds.

Glover worked with Hubbard on "30 Rock" as a writer before moving into acting, the piece adds.

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Tom Hanks Joins Nat Geo Historical Project

Tom Hanks has agreed to appear as on-camera host, narrator and commentator on the National Geographic Channel's two-hour historical drama "Killing Lincoln," reports Deadline.com.

The project, from Scott Free Productions and based on Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard's bestselling book, examines the conspiracy to kill President Abraham Lincoln.

In a statement, Hanks said, “The murder of Lincoln is not a passage of our history -- it was a signpost of our American character, then, now and forever.” Hanks has been the executive producer of a few historical dramas on television, including the HBO miniseries "Band Of Brothers" and "The Pacific."

Nat Geo President Howard T. Owens commented on the addition of Hanks to the picture, saying, “Having someone like Tom who is so passionate about history and such an incredible storyteller join National Geographic Channel on this project will add even more energy and gravitas to this epic historical moment being retold for contemporary audiences."

Ridley Scott, speaking for Scott Free Productions, added, “Only Hanks can add that unique poise, intrigue and dynamism that are his trademark to a film about one of the most significant, life-changing events in America’s young history.”

Billy Campbell (AMC’s "The Killing") is playing Lincoln in the telefilm, with Jesse Johnson as John Wilkes Booth and Geraldine Hughes as Mary Todd Lincoln.

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ABC News Is Sued for $1.2 Billion Over 'Pink Slime'

ABC News has been hit with a defamation lawsuit over its coverage of a meat product that has been dubbed “pink slime” by its critics, the Seattle Times reports.

The suit was filed today by Dakota Dunes, S.D.-based meat processor Beef Products Inc., which accuses ABC of misleading consumers into thinking the product is unsafe. The suit seeks $1.2 billion in damages for about 200 "false and misleading and defamatory" statements, according to an attorney for BPI.

The suit, filed in South Dakota, also accuses ABC News of “improper interference with the relationships between BPI and its customers,” the story reports.

The product is official known as lean, finely textured beef, said Dan Webb, the attorney for BPI. The ABC reporting on it, he said, “caused consumers to believe that our lean beef is not beef at all -- that it's an unhealthy pink slime, unsafe for public consumption, and that somehow it got hidden in the meat.”

ABC News responded with a brief statement from Senior VP Jeffrey Schneider, who said: "The lawsuit is without merit. We will contest it vigorously."

The story adds: “The reports cited in the lawsuit include 11 that aired on television and 14 that appeared online in March. Webb said the reports had ‘an enormous impact’ on the company, forcing it to close three of its four U.S. plants and lay off more than 650 workers. Webb said the network also published a list of chain grocery stores that had stopped selling the product, and that this pressured others to end their business relationship with BPI.”

A BPI exec said the firm lost 80% of its business in 28 days, adding that some of the customers have since returned.

“Webb said the reports created the false impression ‘that it's some type of chemical product, that it's not beef. It led people to believe that it's some kind of repulsive, horrible, vile substance that got put into ground beef and hidden from consumers,’” the report notes.

Webb added: "The result of that has been catastrophic for this company.”

The story reports: “Critics worried about the way the meat is processed. Bits of beef are heated and treated with a small amount of ammonia to kill bacteria, a practice that has been used for decades and meets federal food safety standards. The phrase ‘pink slime’ began to spread after it was cited in a 2009 article by The New York Times on the safety of meat processing methods.

“Soon afterward, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver began railing against it. McDonald's and other fast food companies stopped using it, and major supermarket chains including Kroger and Stop & Shop vowed to stop selling beef with the low-cost product.”

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Actress Sees Surge in Twitter Account After Accidentally Tweeting Topless Photo

Alison Pill, an actress currrently appearing on HBO's "The Newsroom," accidentally tweeted a topless photo of herself on Wednesday, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The photo, which was quickly removed from Pill’s Twitter account but found its way to various locations on the Internet, depicts her lying on a bed topless with a pair of large eyeglasses, the story says.

"Ugh. My tech issues have now reached new heights, apparently. How a deletion turned into a tweet... Apologies," Pill tweeted after she sent the photo.

Pill, who plays associate producer Maggie on the show, had attracted about 2,000 new Twitter followers by Wednesday afternoon following the Twitter mistake, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Times piece adds: “The actress' gaffe was a bit of art imitating life as well, after an early ‘Newsroom’ episode featured a top producer -- played by Emily Mortimer, not Pill -- whose stereotypical-silly-girl lack of tech savvy resulted in her emailing touchy personal information to a companywide message loop.”

We think they mean “life imitating art,” but you probably get the point.

alison pill.bmp

Alison Pill

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A&E Renews Drama Series

A&E has given a renewal to a drama series that is credited with helping the channel become the most-watched ad-supported cable network of the summer on Sunday nights, B&C reports.

The series is "The Glades," which will be back for a fourth season.

The show's third season drew an average of 4.1 million viewers for first-run episodes, an increase of 5% from the previous season, the story says. The show's fourth season will debut in 2013.

"The Glades" is credited along with "Longmire" with boosting A&E's fortunes on Sunday nights. The second season of "Longmire" and the new series "Bates Motel" are slated to bow in 2013.

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NBC News Chief Apologizes -- Internally, Anyway -- for Skipping 9/11 Memorial Moment

NBC News President Steve Capus apologized for skipping a moment of silence in observation of the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in favor of a celebrity interview on "Today," reports Bill Carter in The New York Times. Capus issued the apology in a memo to executives at NBC affiliates.

The network stopped short of a public apology, sticking with its earlier position defending the decision.

In the message to affiliates, Capus noted that the stations had been criticized by many viewers for the decision, and apologized, the story notes.

As previously reported, NBC, which aired "Today" during the memorial, was the only top broadcaster that didn't broadcast the moment of silence. Instead, the show aired an interview with Kardashian matriarch Kris Jenner.

The network did not apologize on the air, the report notes, standing by a position it took Tuesday after the criticism began rolling in.

“NBC’s position on Tuesday had been that ‘Today’ did not routinely observe the 9/11 moment of silence, and in fact had included it only once -- on the 10-year anniversary last year -- since 2006,” the story reports.

The report adds: “One NBC executive, who did not want to be identified because the network was seeking to move past the incident, said that the memo to the affiliate executives did not represent a contradiction in NBC’s position on not apologizing for the decision.

“It was, rather, an effort to acknowledge that the stations had been subjected to criticism over a decision made by the network, the executive said, and that was what warranted the apology.”

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Angry Bob Dylan Lashes Out at Plagiarism Charges, Calls Accusers 'Wussies and Pussies' -- and Says Some of Them Can 'Rot in Hell'

Legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan has been hearing charges of plagiarism long enough, and finally lashed out at his accusers.

Reuters reports that Dylan said in a new interview with Rolling Stone that musical appropriation is “part of the folk tradition.” Dylan adds in the interview: “People who complain about that stuff are wussies and pussies.”

Accusations of plagiarism by Dylan go back decades, but he has been under fire in particular in the past 10 years.

“In 2003, The Wall Street Journal reported that lyrics from Dylan's 2001 record ‘Love and Theft’ were remarkably similar to phrases in an obscure 1995 biography of a Japanese mobster,” Reuters reports. “A line from the biography, ‘I'm not as cool or forgiving as I might have sounded’ was compared to Dylan's ‘I'm not quite as cool or forgiving as I sound.’ Twelve such similar phrasings have been identified.”

The report adds: “In 2006, The New York Times made similar claims about a Civil War era poet's phrasings and Dylan's 2006 record ‘Modern Times.’"

Said Dylan, 71: "I'm working within my art form. It's that simple. ... It's called songwriting. It has to do with melody and rhythm, and then after that, anything goes. You make everything yours. We all do it."

The singer, whose new album, "Tempest," was released this week, adds, "These are the same people that tried to pin the name Judas on me," referring to accusations in the 1960s that Dylan had betrayed the folk community by “going electric.” In a famous 1966 concert incident in England, an audience member was caught on tape yelling out “Judas” at Dylan.

In the new interview, Dylan says: "Judas -- the most hated name in human history! If you think you've been called a bad name, try to work your way out from under that. Yeah, and for what? For playing an electric guitar? As if that is in some kind of way equitable to betraying our Lord and delivering him up to be crucified. All those evil ... can rot in hell.”

Dylan has his defenders on the plagiarism issue. Reuters notes: “Musical appropriation -- using familiar cultural references or language in a new context -- is different from non-fiction writing or journalism, said Sean Wilentz, a Princeton University professor of American history who has written extensively about Dylan.”

Commenting on Dylan’s use of other people’s material, Wilentz told Reuters: "Of course it's legitimate. Dylan's frame of reference is so much larger than most songwriters' -- more literary, historical and philosophical."

“Wilentz said crediting bits and pieces of another's work is scholarly tradition, not an artistic tradition,” the report notes.

Wilentz adds: "Creating art is different, and always has been, especially the kind Dylan creates.”

bob_dylan.jpgBob Dylan

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'60 Minutes' Brand Coming to Cable With Sports Newsmagazine

"For the first time, original '60 Minutes' segments will appear on a cable network under a new agreement between '60 Minutes' and Showtime Sports. '60 Minutes of Sports,' a new sports newsmagazine show from the producers of the iconic news program, will debut in November on Showtime, the CBS-owned premium television network. The unique programming partnership was announced today by CBS News Chairman and '60 Minutes' executive producer Jeff Fager and Stephen Espinoza, the executive vice president and general manager, Showtime Sports."

So reads a joint press release today, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, form CBS News and Showtime.

The announcement adds that the new show will be co-executive produced by Fager and Bill Owens, the executive editor of "60 Minutes."

The announcement adds: "The new program will utilize the reporting skills of on-air talent from '60 Minutes' [and] CBS Sports. ... A dedicated unit of '60 Minutes' producers reporting to Fager and Owens will prepare the stories for each monthly broadcast of '60 Minutes of Sports.' 

"Each month, the sports magazine will feature two original segments and one updated '60 Minutes' classic sports story from the newsmagazine’s archive. In addition, each broadcast will contain a timely, studio-based interview with a sports newsmaker."

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Trade Group Sues Martha Stewart, Emeril and HSN

A German trade association has sued Martha Stewart, Emeril Lagasse and Home Shopping Network over Chinese-made kitchen knives, which the group alleges the U.S. stars are trying to pass off as having been made in Solingen, Germany, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The lawsuit was filed by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce Wuppertal-Solingen-Rumscheid, which own the Solingen name, which the papers say is known as "the finest quality of Germany cutlery," the story notes.

According to court documents, the suit claims the defendants are selling counterfeit knives under the Emeril-Wusthof brand.

The knives "are marked with the signature trademark 'Emerils,' and 'Solingen, Germany' on one side of the blade, and on the other side they are marked 'China,'" the suit states.

Stewart is named because her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, owns Emeril's product line. The products are sold both on TV and online.

Calls seeking comment from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Lagasse and HSN weren't immediately returned, the story says.

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CBS Plays Hardball With Dish Network Over Auto Hop Device, Threatens to Pull the Network Off the Service -- and Other Nets May Follow

CBS CEO Leslie Moonves threatened to drop the network from satellite operator Dish Network unless Dish gives up its Auto Hop ad-skipping device, MediaPost reports.

“CBS is in litigation along with other networks trying to thwart the device, but even if that proves unsuccessful, CBS could simply decline to renew a carriage deal with Dish when the current contract runs out,” the story reports. “Other networks could follow, putting Dish with its 14 million customers in a tough spot. Still, Dish has given no indication that it will pull Auto Hop, which is part of a Hopper DVR service, from the market. Auto Hop allows for automatic commercial-zapping of prime-time fare.”

Moonves told investors Wednesday: “If they want to eliminate our commercials, we will not be in business with them -- it’s pure and simple. We cannot produce an episode of a show for $3.5 million and have the people at Dish say: ‘We can pull out the commercials.’ That’s not how the ecosystem works. If they want to continue down that line, then we will just not be on Dish. That’s what will happen. We will go elsewhere, and people will take our content.”

Moonves indicated he expects the dynamics of the marketplace to ultimately kill Auto Hop, the story reports.

“Similarly, he said CBS will continue to fight Aereo, a device that offers CBS content on mobile devices in New York without compensating the network,” the report adds. “CBS and other networks are also in litigation with Aereo, but that case carries a different dynamic. If the networks lose, they can’t pull programming off Aereo, since it plucks it via over-the-air distribution.”

Moonves also dropped an unrelated nugget, suggesting that CBS might launch a general entertainment cable network, the report notes. No details were provided.

“CBS also said recently that it expects to pull in $1 billion annually via carriage fees from distributors. It recently made deals with Cablevision and AT&T and has avoided blackouts during negotiations,” the story reports.

Said Moonves: “The good news is we haven’t gone dark anywhere. It’s not that we’re not tough negotiators … people are realizing the value of our content.”

dishbillboard.JPGL.A. billboard promoting Dish's Auto Hop

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Nintendo, With Its Original Wii, Set Records in the Gaming Industry. But Is Nintendo's Upcoming Wii U Game Console Destined to Crash and Burn?

Will Nintendo's upcoming Wii U game console be a success or not? Benzinga's Louis Bedigian writes, "Instead of coming to the market with a strategy that mirrored the original Wii, Nintendo baffled and disappointed [game trade] show E3 attendees, turned off consumers, and created a lack of interest from the mainstream media."

The article continues, noting that a gaming industry "PR veteran told GamesIndustry.biz, 'The biggest issue Nintendo has is the lack of anticipation or confidence. They have not created enough excitement and confidence among both consumers and developers, nor has their quiet given people the sense that a delightful surprise awaits.'

"The PR veteran went on to say that there seems to be a cloud of 'concern' hanging above Nintendo. 'They did not do a great job after E3 of bridging toward the fall,' he said. 'If they want this press conference to succeed, making people believe that there will be a surprise or proof of a big flagship title may help. Highlighting their focus on third-party or any other innovations would also help.' "

The article concludes, "To transform Wii U into a successful console, Nintendo must rise above its own disjointed strategy and release games that people actually want to buy. With only a couple of months until the console is scheduled to be released, it is unlikely that Nintendo can accomplish this goal.

"It is wholly possible that Nintendo will start its Wii U press event with some stellar new games. But even if it does, odds are those games will not come out this year.

"In other words, Nintendo cannot win. The company has put itself in a horrible position. If the company is smart, it will cut its losses and start preparing for its next gaming device to ensure this does not happen again."

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Report: Veteran TV Exec Mel Karmazin Is on the Way Out at Sirius XM

Mel Karmazin is reportedly on the way out at Sirius XM, with John Malone's Liberty Media getting ready to replace him, reports the New York Post.

As soon as Karmazin's contract expires at the end of this year, Liberty will start a CEO search, the story says. Liberty, which bought 40% of Sirius in 2009, is getting closer to gaining full control of the satellite radio producer, according to Reuters.com.

Karmazin, who is currently CEO of Sirius XM, indicated that he understands he might not be at the company much longer, according to the Post story. Speaking at a media conference, he said, "My instincts today are that Liberty does not need me at the company. I have historically been expensive. It’s very clear to me that if I were Liberty, I would sit there and say, ‘I’m not sure we need Mel.’”

Before joining Sirius, Karmazin was CEO of CBS.

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Fox Moves Forward With Comedy From Mark Wahlberg

Fox has given a pilot presentation order to a comedy produced by Mark Wahlberg and Steve Levinson, after the project was at HBO for two years, reports Deadline.com.

Based on the blog LifestyleLemonaid.com, the show is "a rare project migration from a pay cable to a broadcast network," the piece says.

The blog is from Nikki Joel and features private details of her life with her husband, WME talent agent Brandt Joel, such as the time he wanted a vasectomy, the story says.

Jordon Nardino of "Desperate Housewives" wrote the script and is executive producing with Wahlberg, Levinson and the Joels, the story notes. Rob Riggle, who was attached to star in the project while it was at HBO, is no longer involved, the piece adds.

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CW Buys Monster Series From 'Gossip Girl' Producers and Bret Easton Ellis

"Gossip Girl" producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, along with writer Bret Easton Ellis, have sold a monster drama to The CW, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Ellis will write the script for "Copeland Prep," a drama set at a high school that's turning its students into monsters. He will also executive produce along with Fake Empire's Schwartz, Savage, Len Goldstein and Nicky Weinstock, the story adds.

"Twilight" director Catherine Hardwicke is tapped as an executive consultant on the show.

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Cable Show's Return Is Huge Ratings Winner, and On Track To Shatter a Record

The season five return of an explosive cable series on Tuesday night, Sept. 11, 2012, has been a huge ratings winner.

The season premiere of "Sons of Anarchy" on FX "attracted a whopping 5.37 million viewers, making it the most watched episode ever in the drama’s history on FX," writes our friend Lynette Rice at EW.com's Inside TV blog.

Furthermore, the episode is on track to shatter a FX ratings record as the highest-rated single telecast ever shown on the network.

Rice contines, "The episode was not only the No. 1 program on cable in viewers, adults 18-49 (3.5 million) and adults 25-54 (3.45 million), but it was the top-rated episode among men 18-49 and men 18-34 in all of broadcast and cable. It was up in all of the key demos too versus its fourth season premiere, including 10 percent in viewers and 14 percent in adults 25-54. In addition, it dominated the 10 o’clock hour in the key adult demos — even beating what was on broadcast TV."

According to the account of this ratings story in The Hollywood Reporter, "With the current numbers, the episode is on track to be FX's biggest single telecast ever when Nielsen releases Live+7 data."

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Simon Cowell Reveals Who He Wants as Host for 'X Factor' -- but Will the Network Go Along?

The man behind Fox’s “The X Factor” has revealed his choice as the show’s new host, but it’s unclear whether Fox is prepared to grant him his wish, TMZ.com reports.

Simon Cowell wants reality star Khloe Kardashian, sources tell the website. “Our sources say Simon made the case that Khloe is a big draw who will complete the circle of making the show decidedly younger than last season,” the story reports. “Khloe has a connection to Britney Spears and Demi Lovato and Simon believes the three of them create an authentic vibe that none of the other potential hosts bring to the table.”

The decision is in the network’s hands, and is expected within a week. One source described the decision as “highly likely” to go in Kardashian’s favor, the story notes.

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Oscar Winner Reveals Cancer Diagnosis, Double Mastectomy

An Oscar-winning actress has gone public with the news that she has been battling breast cancer, TVGuide.com reports. Recovering from surgery for the cancer is Kathy Bates.

The former “Harry’s Law” star revealed she had a double mastectomy. Bates put out a tweet on the topic today, writing: "Hey All, sorry for the long silence. I was diagnosed with breast cancer 2 months ago & am recovering from a double mastectomy. I don't miss my breasts as much as I miss Harry's Law. ;-) Thanks for all the sweet tweets. Y'all kept me going."

Bates, 64, won an Academy Award for “Misery” in 1991 and was also nominated for “Primary Colors” and “About Schmidt.” She has been nominated for 11 Emmys, including two this year -- for her lead role on “Harry’s Law” and for a guest spot on “Two and a Half Men.” “Harry’s Law” was canceled by NBC last season.

Bates has battled cancer before, having been diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2003. She has said in the past that she made a full recovery from the disease.

kathy-bates.jpgKathy Bates

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iPhone 5 Finally Revealed. Here's What You Get, and Here's What It Looks Like. Plus Apple Shows Off New iPod Touch and iPod Nano -- and the New iPod Touch Supports Siri

Apple revealed its new iPhone 5 today. Compared with the current iPhone 4s, according to CNET, the new iPhone 5 is taller, thinner, supports 4G LTE networks, runs twice as fast, has an improved camera, has improved audio, has a new, smaller dock connector, and has the new Apple maps instead of Google maps.

Please click on the CNET link above to read details about all these features. Pricing is the same as when the 4S was introduced, while the price of the 4S itself has now been lowered. According to The Huffington Post, "Apple is knocking $100 off the price of the 16GB iPhone 4S, which will retail for $99 rather than $199, with a two-year contract. The 16GB iPhone 4 will be given away for free when customers sign contracts with mobile carriers."

As for the new iPods, DailyTech writes, "The new iPod nano features a 2.5" touch screen display and a home button (as seen on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad). It also features physical controls on the side and is available in seven different colors. The iPod nano now features Bluetooth, widescreen video playback makes a reappearance, a pedometer is built-in, and it also includes FM radio with DVR functionality." Price for the 16GB model is $149.

Talking about the new iPod touch, Daily Tech says that like the iPhone 5, "It too features a 4” screen (640x1136), but includes the older A5 processor. The anodized aluminum iPod touch is only 6.1mm thick and weighs just 88 grams. Interestingly the iPod touch now supports Siri. The iPod touch also includes a 5MP rear-facing camera with LED flash (it supports the Panorama feature introduced with the iPhone 5) and a FaceTime HD front-facing camera. There is also a little button on the backside of the device that once pressed, opens to reveal a lanyard loop to better secure your device when taking pictures."

iphone 4s vs. 5.jpg

Comparing the new iPhone 5 (right) to the iPhone 4S

 

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Video: 'Today' Show's Matt Lauer Responds to Rumors of Rift With Al Roker

Matt Lauer, longtime host of NBC’s “Today” show, was asked about rumors of a rift between him and the show’s veteran weatherman, Al Roker, while Lauer was out on the street in New York Tuesday -- and while he wasn’t letting on, his reluctance to talk about it may itself be telling.

Helping to fuel the rumors was a recent awkward on-air moment in which Roker appeared to refer to the departure of Ann Curry from the show when he made a “throwing people under the bus" comment, which we posted last month.

Lauer was also asked about competition from ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and admits in the latest video that “Today” team members “feel the heat every day.” But he adds: “We have for the last 20 years that I’ve been there.”

TMZ.com posted a one-minute video of the street interview, which you can see below.

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Late-Night Talk Host, Multiple Oscar-Winning Actor and Legendary Hard Rock Band Top This Year's List of Kennedy Center Honorees

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has announced the recipients of the annual Kennedy Center Honors, and this year’s list is headlined by veteran CBS talk show host David Letterman, multiple Oscar-winning actor Dustin Hoffman and the legendary rock band Led Zeppelin, Deadline.com reports.

Also being honored are longtime bluesman Buddy Guy and ballerina Natalia Marakova.

Hoffman won Oscars for “Kramer vs. Kramer” in 1980 and “Rain Man” in 1989 and has been nominated a total of seven times -- all for leading roles. Letterman is also a heavyweight on the awards scene, including winning five Primetime Emmys -- along with a pair of Daytime Emmys for his original talk show, back in 1981.

Led Zeppelin has its own awards to brag about -- including being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 -- but the band made its mark by pretty much defining hard rock at the end of the 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Grammy Hall of Fame songs “Stairway to Heaven” and “Whole Lotta Love” are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the band’s impressive body of work.

Longtime Led Zeppelin band members Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones will receive their own Kennedy Center medallions along with the honors for the band as a whole.

Deadline reports: “The night before the gala, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will host a State Department dinner for the seven individuals, who then sit with President Obama and first lady Michelle during the December 4th ceremony. The President and Mrs. Obama will receive the honorees and members of the Artists Committee who nominate them, along with the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees, at the White House prior to the gala.”

Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said in a statement: “With their extraordinary talent, creativity and tenacity, the seven 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees have contributed significantly to the cultural life of our nation and the world. Buddy Guy is a titan of the blues and has been a tremendous influence on virtually everyone who has picked up an electric guitar in the last half century; Dustin Hoffman’s unyielding commitment to the wide variety of roles he plays has made him one of the most versatile and iconoclastic actors of this or any other generation; David Letterman is one of the most influential personalities in the history of television, entertaining an entire generation of late-night viewers with his unconventional wit and charm; Natalia Makarova’s profound artistry has ignited the stages of the world’s greatest ballet companies and continues to pass the torch to the next generation of dancers; and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant transformed the sound of rock and roll with their lyricism and innovative song structures, infusing blues into the sound of rock and roll and laying the foundation for countless rock bands.”

CBS will continue its longtime involvement with the honors, broadcasting the ceremony as a two-hour prime-time special Dec. 26.

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Golf Legend Who Helped Build the Sport's TV Presence Receives Congressional Honor

One of the greatest legends of the game of golf has been honored with the Congressional Gold Medal. The Los Angeles Times reports that Arnold Palmer -- who helped fuel the growth of the sport as a television presence with his charisma and his golf success in the 1950s and 1960s -- received the award today in Washington.

Palmer, 83, took the opportunity to joke about the lack of consensus in the nation’s capital, quipping: "I’m particularly proud of anything that the House and Senate agree on.”

“In 2009, Congress approved -- and President Obama signed -- legislation by Rep. Joe Baca (D-Rialto), an avid golfer, awarding Congress' highest civilian honor to Palmer,” the Times reports. “At the presentation Wednesday in the Capitol Rotunda, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) choked up as he recounted his experience with Palmer on a practice green at Pebble Beach, describing how the men shared stories about their fathers’ influence on their lives.

"’Here we were standing in one of the most venerable places in golf. We weren’t there talking about golf. ... We were there talking about our fathers,’ Boehner said. ‘We cried our eyes out,’ he added.”

Palmer won seven Majors between 1958 and 1964, including winning The Masters four times. He won 29 PGA Tour events, including five Majors, from 1960-1963 alone.

Palmer joins a list of recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal that includes the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Walt Disney and fellow golfer Byron Nelson.

Arnold_Palmer.jpgArnold Palmer

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Tuesday Ratings: In a Two-Horse Race, NBC Wins the Night

NBC notched a ratings win Tuesday night, but it wasn’t all roses for the network. “The Voice” was down three-tenths of a ratings point from Monday’s premiere with a 3.9 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, according to Nielsen overnights reported by TVbytheNumbers.com, while the new show “Go On” was well off from its Olympics-boosted premiere with a 3.4, down from the 5.6 delivered by the debut episode.

The second episode of NBC’s “The New Normal” provided some good news, matching the previous night’s 2.5 average in 18-49 for the premiere, but “Parenthood” debuted for season four with a 1.9 -- the show’s lowest-rated premiere ever.

It was enough for an easy win for the night by NBC, on a night when CBS and ABC aired all repeats. The Peacock’s only real competition, Fox, settled for a 1.5 average in the 18-49 demo for a two-hour “So You Think You Can Dance.”

For the night, NBC averaged 2.9 in viewers 18-49, ahead of Univision (1.6 average), Fox (1.5), CBS (1.2) and ABC (0.7). NBC’s margin in total viewers was narrower, with an average of 8.4 million to lead CBS (7.5 million), Fox (4.3 million), Univision (3.5 million) and ABC (2.4 million).

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Actress From 'The Facts of Life' Dies

An actress who appeared on the 1980s comedy "The Facts of Life" has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Claire Malis Callaway, who appeared as a mom on the series, was 69.

Callaway, who was often credited as Claire Malis, also starred on the ABC soap opera "One Life to Live," on which she played Dr. Dorian Lord from 1977 to 1979. On 'Facts of Life," she played Rose Polniaczek, the mom of Nancy McKeon's character, Jo, in a recurring role.

She appeared in many other TV shows, including "St. Elsewhere," "Murphy Brown" and "Taxi."

Callaway died Aug. 24 of congestive heart failure and pneumonia, after undergoing a stem cell transplant in 2010. She had battled non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the story says.

claire-malis-callaway.jpgClaire Malis Callaway

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'SNL' Regular Will Return to the Show

One of the regulars on NBC’s late-night sketch comedy show “Saturday Night Live” who has been undecided about whether to return to the show has made his decision. USA Today reports that Jason Sudeikis will be back.

That means a veteran Mitt Romney impressionist will be on call through the presidential election season.

The network and “SNL” guru Lorne Michaels confirmed Sudeikis will be in the lineup for season 38, which launches Saturday.

The show will also have three new performers, as previously reported.

Guest host Seth MacFarlane and musical guest Frank Ocean are set for Saturday’s season premiere.

jason_sudeikis.jpgJason Sudeikis

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Daytime Veteran Restores Order, Crushing the Competition in the Ratings

Amid this week's splashy debuts for a number of new daytime shows, a veteran showed them all who’s boss. Notching a big rating for her talk show was Ellen DeGeneres, whose season premiere handily eclipsed the numbers for newcomers such as “Katie” and “Jeff Probst,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The story reports: “’Ellen’ scored a 3.0 in total households in metered markets, and its highest rating since the 2006-07 season. (Full national numbers won’t be available until next week.) That projects ‘Ellen’ as taking an 8 percent share of the viewing audience, which would be her best in that measure since the show went on the air in 2003.”

Also performing well was another Daytime veteran, “The Dr. Oz Show,” which delivered a 2.8 average rating for its fourth-season premiere -- even after being moved into earlier time slots in some markets to make room for “Katie,” the story notes.

But the big winner at this stage is “Ellen.” THR reports: “Warner Bros. and stations carrying Ellen DeGeneres' show have to be very pleased. Ellen was tops not only in households but also among women 25 to 54 (with a 2.2 rating among the key daytime audience demo), women 18 to 49 (1.7) and adults 25 to 54 (1.4).

“A year ago Ellen had a 2.4 opening-day rating in households, a 1.1 among women 18 to 49, a 1.3 among women 25 to 54 and a 0.9 among adults 25 to 54.”

However, the combination of “Dr. Oz” and “Katie” looks formidable. “In Los Angeles, Dallas and Nashville -- the three markets where ‘Dr. Oz’ is its lead-in -- ‘Katie’ was the winner with a 3.5 household average, and ‘Oz’ had a 2.8,” the story reports. “In the 10 markets where ‘Katie’ and ‘Dr. Oz’ go head to head, ‘Oz’ was on top in households with a 3.1 average to ‘Katie's’ 2.2.”

Other daytime talk shows -- new and old -- were left to fight over the scraps. Comparable numbers on Monday, according to the report, included 1.5 for “Maury” and “Steve Harvey,” 1.2 for “Jerry Springer,” 1.0 for “The Jeff Probst Show” and “Wendy Williams.” “The Ricki Lake Show,” hurt by a retransmission dispute in the New York market, settled for a 0.8.

“There was also good news for the revised Anderson Cooper show now called ‘Anderson Live,’” the report adds. “It scored a healthy 1.3 rating Monday in metered markets in total households, which was up 18 percent over a year ago.”

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USA Network Expected to Cancel Drama Series

USA Network will likely cancel a drama series, with the show's executive producer and showrunner moving on and the actors' options ending, reports Deadline.com.

The series is the freshman police drama “Common Law.” Craig Sweeny, the showrunner, has joined CBS's new drama "Elementary" as an executive producer, although he could return to "Common Law" as he's under an overall deal at CBS TV Studios, which also produces "Common Law," the story notes.

The network would have to negotiate new deals with the cast, however, which isn't seen as likely to happen. The show averaged about 2 million viewers during its first season, ranking it as USA's lowest-rated scripted series.

The sophomore USA shows "Fairly Legal" and "Necessary Roughness" are considered to have 50/50 odds of getting a renewal, while the future of "Political Animals" is also unclear, the story notes.

Considered to be sure things for renewal at USA are “Burn Notice,” “Suits,” “Royal Pains,” “White Collar” and “Covert Affairs,” the article points out.

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MSNBC Host Says He Will Test the Waters for Presidential Bid

One of the hosts of a news and talk show on MSNBC is considering a run for the presidency, according to a piece in Vanity Fair. Joe Scarborough, co-host with Mika Brzezinski of the cable news channel’s “Morning Joe,” appears to be looking into a bid in 2016.

Scarborough tells the magazine that he will publish a memoir that he hopes will help him test the waters for a presidential run. The memoir will be published after the presidential inauguration in January, the story says.

A former Florida congressman, Scarborough considered running against President Barack Obama, and consulted with other moderate Republicans including New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the piece adds.

On the TV side, Scarborough and his co-host Brzezinski are currently selling a TV drama based on the life of Fox News boss Roger Ailes and have started a film-and-TV production company, the article notes.

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Analyst: CBS Expecting $1 Billion Windfall

CBS is expecting a $1 billion windfall, writes Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger, according to our friend Joe Flint at the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog.

The windfall consists of retrans monies CBS should be getting in 2016.

Says the article, "According to Juenger, that figure is based on a subscription fee of $1.22 per-month, per-subscriber from multichannel video program distributors (MVPDs) for the stations the network owns, including KCBS-TV Los Angeles. It also includes a 50% cut of whatever their affiliates get from MVPDs, which Juenger thinks will be the same price CBS gets for its stations."

The billion-dollar number is expected to be collected by CBS a year earlier than previously thought, Flint notes.

While both Fox and ABC are on similar retrans tracks, NBC is not, the story says. That's because, according to the article, "NBC's parent is Comcast, a cable operator with more than 20 million subscribers. NBC, [Juenger] wrote, 'seems mired down in the inter-company complications of Comcast being NBC's biggest distributor, and the contradictory motivations and unintended consequences that causes.'"

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Fox Finally Hears a Reality Pitch It Can Refuse From Gordon Ramsay

With four Gordon Ramsay reality shows currently on its airwaves, Fox may have finally reached its limit. The network took a pass on a pitch from the celebrity chef for a U.S. version of his British show "Gordon Behind Bars," reports the New York Post.

Fox Network chief Kevin Reilly said he decided to pass on the prison pitch, but will pick up additional episodes of "Hotel Hell," another Ramsay show.

"We have a lot of Gordon on the air right now,” Reilly said. The network also airs "Hell's Kitchen," "Kitchen Nightmares" and "MasterChef."

The British prison show tracks nonviolent offenders as they run a food business inside a jail, the story adds.

“MasterChef” aired its third-season finale Monday, delivering 6.4 million total viewers, the report notes.

Ramsay may still take “Gordon Behind Bars” to another network, but Fox’s Reilly added: “I’d be very disappointed if he ended up going across the street.”

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Jennifer Lopez Joins Cable Net as Stakeholder, Programmer

Jennifer Lopez has joined a cable network as a minority stakeholder and programmer, Bloomberg reports. The network is NuvoTV, an English-language net geared to Latino viewers.

Lopez and her Nuyorican Productions will contribute programming, aid in marketing and work on strategy, the story notes. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

“Development, production, marketing, I’ll be involved on every side of it so we hit all the right points," Lopez said.

NuvoTV is available in 30 million U.S. homes through systems such as Dish and Comcast, the piece adds.

Thumbnail image for jennifer-lopez.jpgJennifer Lopez

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Why -- and How -- Lindsay Lohan Is Reportedly Trying to Get Out of Her 'Scary Movie' Cameo

Lindsay Lohan is reportedly balking at performing in "Scary Movie 5" -- a cameo appearance that we reported last month. The actress is said to be unhappy about a scene that satirizes her problems, the New York Post's Page Six reports.

“Dimension Films signed Lohan to play a cameo in the horror spoof opposite Charlie Sheen. But over the past two weeks -- as the date for filming approached -- Lohan disappeared, blew off rehearsals, missed her flight to the set and even bizarrely claimed she had walking pneumonia,” the Post reports.

A representative for Lohan, however, said the star is "willingly fulfilling all of her obligations."

According to the story, Lohan claimed she couldn't do the film because she had walking pneumonia and had gone to the hospital to have her lungs checked. She reportedly missed her meetings for the film, including wardrobe meetings and script reads, and then missed her flight to Atlanta to tape the movie.

Lohan allegedly doesn't want to participate in the movie because she thought her part poked too much fun at her, the story adds. One source also said Lohan has been “freaking out” for weeks about an on-screen kiss with Sheen.

Said one source, according to the story: “She is under contract -- so to get out of it, she had to prove that she was sick. She tried to prove she has walking pneumonia.”

Another source said Lohan has been “locked up in her room at the Bowery Hotel. She’s been in a tailspin. Even Charlie Sheen worried she might not be able to do the scene.”

lindsay-lohan.jpgLindsay Lohan

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One Network Skipped the 9/11 Moment of Silence for Kardashian Interview

One network among the top broadcasters and the cable news channels skipped the moment of silence observed in New York City and Washington to honor those who died on Sept. 11, 2001. NBC opted instead to air an interview with Kardashian matriarch Kris Jenner, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

While CBS, ABC and the cable news networks covered the moment at 8:46 a.m., "Today" aired an interview with co-host Savannah Guthrie and Jenner, who spoke about breast-implant surgery, the story says.

While the networks covered President Barack Obama and the first lady walking in silence past soldiers, Jenner also discussed her reality show on E!, the piece adds.

WNBC-TV in New York interrupted the "Today" broadcast to air locally produced coverage of the 9/11 event, although NBC didn't do so.

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Glenn Beck Returning to Television

Glenn Beck, who left television after a run on Fox News and has been focused on an Internet-only distribution model since the summer of 2011, is headed back to TV, The New York Times reports.

Dish Network has signed a distribution agreement with the conservative commentator that will return him to cable and satellite.

His online TV network, TheBlaze TV, will still remain online for his 300,000 paying subscribers, but Beck's network will also be available on Dish starting at 5 p.m. today, the story says.

"Cutting deals with cable and satellite companies was in the back of Mr. Beck’s mind when he adapted the streaming-movie business model of Netflix for his online network, originally called GBTV. He acknowledged that he was asking a lot of his fans to seek him out online at the outset," the story notes.

The deal with Dish might be seen as a signal that Beck couldn't reach a large audience via the Internet alone, the story points out. TheBlaze TV's customers pay either $99.95 a year or $9.95 a month.

Beck's company is in discussions with other operators, and seeks distribution in all of the 100 million U.S. cable and satellite homes, the story says.

"It is an audacious goal given distributors’ reluctance to add channels and given TheBlaze TV’s independent status," the article notes.

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A&E Signs On for Michael Bay Crime Drama

A&E has given a cast-contingent pilot order for a Michael Bay-produced crime drama called "Occult," reports TheWrap.com.

As the title suggests, the crime drama has supernatural themes, with the show focusing on an FBI agent who solves crimes on an occult task force, the story says.

Bay's Platinum Dunes partners Andrew Form and Brad Fuller will also produce, while James Wong of "American Horror Story: Asylum" is writing the pilot, the piece adds.

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Two Celebrities Ruled Out as Potential 'X Factor' Co-Hosts

Two celebrities whose names have been circulating as possible co-hosts of Fox’s “The X Factor” have been scratched off the list, Celebuzz reports. This comes directly from “X Factor” boss Simon Cowell, according to the piece.

Cowell said "Glee's" Kevin McHale and Kelly Osbourne, the daughter of rocker Ozzy Osbourne and “The Talk” co-host Sharon Osbourne, are not in the running, the story reports. Asked by the website about whether McHale and Osbourne will get the open jobs, Cowell reportedly answered simply, "No."

The Fox reality competition show is set to launch its two-night season premiere Wednesday, Sept. 12. Cowell still plans to name two people to fill former host Steve Jones' spot. Jones is not returning to the show.

Said Cowell: “It will definitely be two co-hosts. And if it goes the way I’m hoping it will go, we’re going to make an announcement this week.”

Cowell has said a male and a female co-host will be named. Khloe Kardashian has been reported recently as a front-runner for a hosting spot.

The story notes: “Kevin Jonas (whose brother, Nick Jonas, has signed on as a Season 2 mentor), BET’s ‘106 & Park’ host Rocsi Diaz, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Chrissy Teigen, ‘Extra’ host Mario Lopez and ‘High School Musical’s’ Corbin Bleu are other names most recently bandied about for the co-hosting job.”

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Key NBC Series Has Its Lowest-Rated Season Premiere

A series that has been one of the few ratings bright spots for NBC had a not-so-bright premiere Monday night, TVbytheNumbers.com reports. “The Voice” opened with a 4.1 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights -- down 39% from the time period premiere a season ago and the show’s lowest-rated season premiere ever.

Even so, it was the highest-rated show of the night and NBC was an easy winner in the overall prime-time ratings. The main competition was Fox, with the pairing of “Hell’s Kitchen” (2.5 average in 18-49) and “MasterChef” (2.6).

ABC had a bad night, with its two-hour “Bachelor Pad” managing only a 1.3 average in the 18-49 demo, down from last week’s 1.4.

CBS’s numbers were shuffled by the overrun of the rain-delayed U.S. Open tennis finale, which the network followed with a lineup of mostly reruns.

For prime time overall, NBC wound up averaging a 3.4 rating in viewers 18-49, ahead of Fox (2.5 averag), CBS (1.4), Univision (1.4) and ABC (1.1). In total viewers, NBC averaged 10.0 million to 6.3 million for Fox, 4.8 million for CBS, 4.4 million for ABC and 3.6 million for Univision.

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CBS Changes the Parameters of Prime Time

CBS is redefining its prime-time block in an attempt to resolve a situation that has developed into a problem on one night of the week. Deadline.com reports that the network is implementing a change to its Sunday lineup, with prime-time programming now set to start at 7:30 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. The change will only affect Sundays.

The impetus for the change is football, which tends to scramble the schedule, and the ratings, by delaying the start of the network’s prime-time programming -- notably on doubleheader days, when the end of the NFL late game tends to bleed over into prime time. In the past, the start times for network programming have wound up being random, depending on when the late game ended.

Now, Sunday prime will officially start at 7:30 in the Eastern and Central time zones, with programming continuing to 11:30 p.m.

The report notes: “Fox’s Sunday prime time is set to start at 7:30 p.m. throughout the football season, avoiding unscheduled delays. (It ends at the usual time, 10 p.m.)”

CBS has resisted the change in the past, not wanting to lose viewers by having a gap between the end of football and the start of prime-time programs. But the NFL recently shifted the kickoff time for its late-afternoon games to 4:25 p.m., from 4:15 p.m., a move that would tend to minimize such gaps while also creating more potential havoc for the prime-time schedule.

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Will Tomorrow's iPhone Unveiling Affect the Presidential Election? The Answer May Surprise You

Apple’s big announcement planned for tomorrow -- universally presumed to be the introduction of the eagerly awaited iPhone 5 -- may have an impact well beyond the tech sector, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The new iPhone, the piece says, “could do something the White House, Congress and Federal Reserve have struggled to do: boost the U.S. economy.”

And with the current presidential race being all about the economy, the repercussions could be felt in the election booth. Any good news for the economy is widely considered to be beneficial to the re-election chances of President Obama -- and conversely, bad news for his GOP opponent, Mitt Romney.

“Sales of the new iPhone could add between a quarter and a half of a percentage point to the annualized rate of economic growth in the fourth quarter, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.'s chief U.S. economist Michael Feroli estimates. That could help cushion the sluggish U.S. economy from other risks in the final months of the year,” The Journal reports.

“In a note to clients Monday, titled ‘Can one little phone impact GDP?,’ Mr. Feroli walks through the math: J.P. Morgan's equity analysts expect Apple to sell about eight million new iPhone units in the final three months of 2012. If the phone sells for around $600, with about $200 of it counted as imported components, then $400 per phone would add to the government's measure of gross domestic product, the total value of the economy's output.”

The report notes that consumers generally don’t pay the full $600 price tag for the devices, because wireless carriers help subsidize the cost. But phone sales tend to be reported based on the full price of the stand-alone device.

“The bottom line: The new iPhone sales could boost GDP by $3.2 billion in the fourth quarter, or $12.8 billion at an annual rate. That is an increase of 0.33 percentage point in the annualized rate of GDP growth. It could be even higher, he says. Even a third of a percentage point would limit the risk the economy would grow more slowly than J.P. Morgan's fourth-quarter growth projection of 2%,” the story reports.

Feroli adds a cautionary note, warning that the estimate "seems fairly large, and for that reason should be treated skeptically." But he adds: "We think the recent evidence is consistent with this projection."

The report cites a precendent: “When the iPhone 4S became widely available last October, [Feroli] writes, over half of the 0.8% increase in the nation's so-called core retail sales -- which exclude autos, gasoline and building materials -- came in the categories of online sales and computer and software sales. The two categories together had their largest monthly increase on record.”

The launch of the iPhone 5 is expected to be even bigger than the 4S launch, the report notes.

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Who Is the Most Dangerous Celebrity on the Web -- and Why?

A popular actress has earned the dubious distinction of being named the most dangerous celebrity on the Web, the Detroit Free Press reports. The actress is Emma Watson, one of the stars of the “Harry Potter” series and a star of the new feature “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”

Watson was named the 2012 Most Dangerous Celebrity by the computer safety company McAfee, replacing Heidi Klum, who held the title last year. The designation is based on the risk of bad links, viruses and malware when doing a search for a particular celebrity on the Web.

Jessica Biel came in at No. 2 this year, followed by Eva Mendes.

The report notes: “Women, according to McAfee, are more dangerous than men. ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel ranks as No. 13 on the dangerous list and he's the only male in this year's top 20.”

emma-watson.jpgEmma Watson

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CBS Greenlights Pilot From 'The Mentalist' Creator

The man behind CBS's successful drama "The Mentalist," Bruno Heller, has been given a pilot production commitment from the network for a show called "The Advocates," reports Deadline.com.

The legal drama is about a female lawyer and a male ex-convict who collaborate as victim advocates. Heller will executive produce and write the drama.

"The Mentalist" has been a substantial success for CBS since its launch in 2008. Prior to "The Mentalist," Heller co-created and executive produced HBO’s "Rome."

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HBO and ESPN Join in Wide-Ranging Boxing Initiative

HBO Sports and ESPN have announced a multiyear agreement to present and promote boxing programming across multiple platforms. Joining for the joint announcement were ESPN’s Marie Donoghue, senior vice president of global business strategy & development, and Mark Taffet, senior vice president of sports operations & pay-per-view, HBO Sports.

“The agreement includes coordinated support for major pay-per-view boxing events, including sharing programming content, cross-promotion elements, highlight packages and additional assets to be featured across multiple ESPN and HBO platforms,” the announcement says. “As part of the agreement, ESPN and ESPN Deportes’ news and information platforms, led by ‘SportsCenter,’ will have access to key content and information surrounding marquee HBO Pay-Per-View boxing events, including fighter interviews.”

As part of the arrangement, live fighter weigh-ins and pre-fight and post-fight press conferences for HBO Pay-Per-View events will be presented for smartphones, tablets and other platforms through the WatchESPN app, WatchESPN.com and ESPN on Xbox LIVE.

Click here to read the full press release announcing the joint initiative.

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A Past Judge Returns to 'American Idol' After Deal to Bring Singer Aboard Falls Through -- Show Expected to Lock In Four-Judge Lineup This Week

The revolving door that is the “American Idol” judging panel is spinning faster than ever this week, with the show bringing back Randy Jackson after the deal that was expected to bring Enrique Iglesias to the show fell through.

As we reported last week, Iglesias had been expected to join the show as a judge after “Idol” made what was described as a “firm offer” to the singer. Jackson, the only remaining original "American Idol" judge, was expected to return in a smaller role, but Fox has made a deal to bring him back to the judging table, reports Deadline.com.

The deal was made after talks ended with Iglesias. "Sources indicate that the reasons to move away from Iglesias, who had been in negotiations for the gig, were not strictly financial," the story notes.

Jackson, as Mariah Carey's co-manager, helped line her up for a judging role on the show. The program is expected to unveil its new four-judge panel this week, once the contracts for Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj are finalized, the piece adds.

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Daytime Derby in Full Swing for 2012 With Debuts of 'Katie,' 'Jeff Probst,' 'Steve Harvey' and Others -- and One Show Hits a Home Run

With a batch of premieres this week and last week, the daytime TV landscape has new syndicated talk shows popping up like mushrooms -- and one of them is already way out in front of the pack, TheWrap.com reports.

The runaway leader at this early stage is Katie Couric's new talk show "Katie," which bowed Monday with the strongest daytime premiere in 10 years, the story reports.

“Katie” tied the mark set by the premiere of "Dr. Phil" in September 2002.

“According to preliminary numbers, it beat last week's premiere of ‘Steve Harvey’ by 87 percent, Monday's premiere of ‘The Jeff Probst Show’ by 150 percent, and Monday's premiere of ‘The Ricki Lake Show’ by 250 percent. It also beat the revamped ‘Anderson Live’ with Anderson Cooper by 115 percent,” the report says.

Monday’s "Katie" premiere, with guests Jessica Simpson and Sheryl Crow on hand, delivered a 2.8 household rating and an 8 share in 56 U.S. metered markets, the report notes, claiming the No. 1 or No. 2 position in its time period in all of the top 15 U.S. markets.

The “sudden” proliferation of new daytime talkers can be traced back to when Oprah Winfrey stepped down last year as daytime’s reigning talk queen -- leaving her long-running syndicated show to focus on helping her new OWN cable network get off the ground.

Couric and Jeff Zucker, who previously produced NBC’s “Today” show when Couric was a fixture there, are executive producing "Katie," which is distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television.

"Ricki Lake" has faced an extra obstacle during premiere season, the story notes: A retransmission dispute between Tribune and Cablevision kept it off the air in 40% of the New York market.

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The End May Be Near for BBC's Wildly Successful 'Sherlock'

In a way, “Sherlock” may become a victim of its own success. The thriving BBC show may wind down after the upcoming third season, the U.K.’s Daily Express reports -- at least in part a victim of the thriving careers of two of its stars.

Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Sherlock Holmes in the series, and Martin Freeman, who appears as Watson, are both enjoying a career resurgence, no doubt in part because of their high-profile work in “Sherlock.” But their busy careers -- including a number of feature film projects -- may mean they won’t be back for a fourth season, the report says.

The third season is set to start filming in early 2013. At this time, nothing is planned beyond season three, the story notes, adding that insiders say the third season is likely to be the last for Cumberbatch and Freeman.

“Benedict and Martin love Sherlock. It’s been fabulous for both of them but it’s a question of schedules,” a source told the publication. “They will no doubt be signing off in style.”

Both actors have been working in New Zealand on an upcoming Hobbit trilogy, the report notes, with Freeman in the lead role of Bilbo Baggins and Cumberbatch playing the dragon Smaug.

“Currently starring in the BBC drama ‘Parade’s End,’ Cumberbatch will also portray the as yet unnamed villain in the forthcoming ‘Star Trek’ movie,” the piece adds.

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Hall of Fame Wrestler Suffers Heart Attack While Working as Commentator on Live WWE Telecast

During a live televised wrestling show Monday night, World Wrestling Entertainment commentator and wrestling legend Jerry "The King" Lawler suffered a heart attack and collapsed, reports ABCNews.com.

While Lawler, 62, collapsed during the “Raw” telecast in Montreal, the cameras remained focused on the tag-team match in the ring, although the audience started to stand and watch what was going on at the broadcast table, the story says.

His broadcast partner Michael Cole told viewers that Lawler was breathing on his own, although his health situation was "serious." He said, "This is not part of tonight’s entertainment. This is a real-life situation."

The WWE said in a statement Monday night, after "Raw" was off the air, "We are hopeful Jerry makes a full recovery and returns to WWE in the near future. Our thoughts are with Jerry and his family.”

According to Cole, Lawler fell from his chair and doctors rushed to the announcers' table. He received CPR in a backstage area. Cole added that Lawler was in the hospital and responding well to tests, the piece notes.

WWE inducted Lawler, a wrestling star in the 1970s and 1980s, into its Hall of Fame in 2007.

jerry-lawler.jpgJerry “The King” Lawler

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TV Reporter Loses Job Over Public Urination Incident

A public urination incident has cost an investigative reporter his job at a TV station, TVSpy.com reports. In the incident, Rob Koebel of WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee allegedly was belligerent with police after he was reportedly seen urinating outside of an Apple store in Glendale, Wis., the story says.

According to the police report, Koebel ignored a security officer who asked him to stop urinating outside the store, and police were called. When asked to hand over his phone, Koebel allegedly said, "No, do you know who you’re messing with?," according to the story.

He also called officers derogatory names, according to the police report, the story says.

Koebel joined the NBC affliate in 2011. He was previously married to HLN anchor Christi Paul, who published a book this year called "Love Isn't Supposed to Hurt," the story says.

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New Co-Host's Debut Pushes 'Live!' to Ratings Milestone

The debut of Michael Strahan last week as the new co-host with Kelly Ripa on “Live!” gave the syndicated morning talk show a ratings boost. The Los Angeles Times reports that the show had its highest premiere-week ratings in six years.

During Strahan's first four days as co-host, the syndicated talk show attracted an average of 2.03 million viewers, based on metered markets, compared with 1.77 million during the same week a year earlier.

Strahan’s debut episode on Tuesday, Sept. 4, delivered 2.49 million viewers, the show’s largest audience since last November’s farewell episode for Regis Philbin.

"It's widely assumed that Strahan, a former defensive end for the New York Giants and a panelist on "Fox NFL Sunday," was hired to draw more male viewers to ‘Live!’ But in a blow to conventional wisdom, his presence actually seems to be attracting more women to the show, with its numbers up among women of all ages -- especially young women -- versus the same week last year," the article notes.

Strahan was also a big draw in New York, the biggest U.S. television market, with ratings up 59% compared with a year earlier, the piece adds.

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NBC and ABC Map Aggressive Strategies to Bring In Viewers for Fall Season

With the new television season set to officially get under way in two weeks, NBC and ABC are developing aggressive strategies for wooing viewers, reports Joe Flint in the Los Angeles Times. In contrast, Fox and CBS are playing things relatively safe, the piece says.

NBC has aired sneak previews of new shows such as "The New Normal," and got the jump on the season by moving up the season three premiere of “The Voice” to this week. ABC launches the new seasons of “Shark Tank” and “What Would You Do?” this Friday, also ahead of the fall season’s official launch.

Meanwhile, ABC is holding the debut of its buzzed-about show "Nashville" until Oct. 10, later than normal, because the network wants to avoid pre-empting the show for an election debate.

"Heading into the new season, NBC and ABC are seen as having the biggest holes to fill, while CBS and Fox are viewed as having the strongest hands," Flint writes.

"In total, there are 21 new shows premiering this fall on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox and the CW. As if promoting all those shows wasn't enough of a headache, the presidential campaigns and the debates that go with it are making scheduling more of a headache than usual for network brass," Flint points out.

CBS is aiming for stability, as it's already the most-watched network and inching in on Fox's lead among viewers 18 to 49, the story notes. Fox, meanwhile, wants to build "The X Factor" into a smash hit, while also building up its Tuesday night comedies, Flint adds. The new “X Factor” lineup, including judges Britney Spears and Demi Lovato, premieres this week.

“At NBC, the network is betting big on ‘The Voice,’ which runs for two hours on Monday and one hour on Tuesday (this week, there will even be a Wednesday edition of ‘The Voice’),” the piece adds. “But there are concerns that the network is risking laryngitis by overexposing the show, especially since it will be on twice during the season instead of just once, as was previously the case.”

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NBC Buys Drama From 'Californication' Producer

NBC has bought a multicultural family drama from former "Californication" executive producer Gina Fattore, reports Deadline.com.

The project stems from a two-year overall deal Fattore recently started with Universal TV, and reunites her with former Showtime programming chief Robert Greenblatt, the story notes.

Called "Holiday," the project will be written and executive produced by Fattore, with "Prison Break" executive producer Dawn Parouse Olmstead also executive producing, the piece reports.

The project will depict a large family via holiday get-togethers, with the family members traveling to a lake house to celebrate Christmas, Passover and other holidays, the story notes.

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Bobby Brown, Whitney Houston's Ex, Gets a New Reality Show

Bobby Brown, the former husband of the late Whitney Houston, is getting a new reality show, courtesy of BET, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Brown, who previously starred in the Bravo reality series "Being Bobby Brown," will be featured in a new series that focuses on his life and businesses, the story notes.

The show will be executive produced by James DuBose, who has worked on several other reality shows for BET, including one featuring Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick.

It's not yet known what the title will be, nor when the series will debut or how many episodes will be taped, the story says.

The BET show is the second Houston-linked reality show to be developed after her death. Lifetime in May said it is planning a reality show with her family and close associates, the piece adds.

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Did Rachael Ray Order Ritual to Drive Away Evil Spirits Before Taking Over Martha Stewart's Former Studio?

Rachael Ray and Martha Stewart have denied being in a feud over the years, and now Ray is denying a report that she ordered her staff to burn sage to drive evil spirits out of her new studio -- which was previously occupied by Stewart, the New York Post reports.

An anonymous source told the publication that Ray ordered the ritualistic sage burning before moving into the studio on West 26th Street in New York over the summer. But Ray says no way.

“There was never an exorcism,” Ray told the publication, adding (in a mock announcer's voice): “No sage was burned in the making of this studio.”

Ray said she made the move from her old studio two miles away, in part to facilitate the shift to hi-def. “We wanted to go HD, and it would have cost so much at the place we were in that it made sense to move,” she said.

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Nielsen Study Breaks Down Why People Who Don't Get TV Service Often Still Have TV Sets

A new report from Nielsen shows that U.S. homes that don't receive television service often still own TV sets, reports David Bauder at the Associated Press.

About 5 million homes don't get TV signals through pay-TV providers or over the airwaves, but about three-quarters of those homes have TV sets anyway, the story notes.

The reason? Many of those viewers watch programming on their TV sets using DVDs or services such as Netflix.

"The company's report shows how the nature of TV service is slowly changing. Before the percentage started declining about three years ago, more than 99 percent of TV homes received the traditional TV signals. Now that has dipped just below 96 percent," Bauder writes.

Some of the decline is due to financial issues, with some consumers cutting expenses, the story notes.

Consumers are also spending less time watching traditional TV, with the average consumer spending 2% less time on the activity. That time was made up through watching shows or movies on DVDs or via streaming services, the story adds.

Nielsen said it's considering changing its definition of a TV household by including people who watch services such as Netflix, instead of only via traditional TV signals, according to the piece.

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Analyst Says Ad Revenues Will Continue to Decline Into 2013 for Viacom Cable Channels -- and Offers an Explanation

Viacom's cable networks are expected to post advertising declines into the middle of 2013, reports the New York Post, citing a Wall Street analyst.

The current quarter will also likely post lower ad sales, with Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser expecting advertising sales at Viacom's cable networks to slip by 6%, the piece adds.

That decline would come after a 7% decline in ad sales for the cable networks during the second quarter, which ended June 30. Weakness at Nickelodeon, which has been struggling with a ratings decline, is largely to blame.

The drop in ad revenues at Nickelodeon is most likely due to aging programming and competition, according to Pivotal’s research.

“Nickelodeon U.S. operations account for $900 million of ad revenue -- a huge portion of Viacom’s $5 billion global ad revenue,” the story notes. “Viacom acknowledged the problem, and CEO Philippe Dauman said in August that more than a dozen new TV series and movies were being developed.”

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'SNL' Adds a Third New Face to Lineup

NBC’s late-night sketch comedy show “Saturday Night Live” has added another new cast member to the lineup. Shortly after word surfaced that Aidy Bryant and Tim Robinson were joining the show, as we reported earlier today, news broke that Cecily Strong will also join the show, the Associated Press reports.

Strong will reportedly become a full-time cast member for the show’s upcoming 38th season, while Bryant and Robinson will be featured players.

The new hires fill a void left by the departures of Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg and Abby Elliott. The departure of Jason Sudeikis is also seen by some observers as imminent.

Like the other two recent hires, Strong’s background is in the Chicago improv scene -- she has been a member of the touring company of Second City.

cecily-strong.jpgCecily Strong

Click here to see videos featuring Bryant and Robinson.

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Chuck Lorre's Production Company Gets a New Boss

Chuck Lorre is bringing aboard a new boss at Chuck Lorre Productions as the company adjusts to its newly expanded deal with Warner Bros. TV. Joining the company is Bob Broder -- the agent who negotiated the Warner Bros. deal for Lorre -- who is leaving ICM Partners, Deadline.com reports.

“Lorre is beefing up his banner into a full-fledged production company," the story reports. "Broder will play a key role in the expansion, assisting in managing all operations of the company as Lorre continues to develop, write and produce comedy series and venture out into feature films, as well as dramatic and potential longform TV projects and stage plays.”

The report adds: “Lorre said he approached Broder with the idea of quitting ‘being one of the most successful literary agents in the history of the business’ to help him run his company. ‘To my amazement, he said yes,’ Lorre said. ‘I was only kidding, but it’s a little too late to tell him that, so I’m just going to say how grateful I am to have such an incredibly wise, experienced and vaguely ruthless guy at the helm of this thing.’”

Broder’s client list at ICM includes a number of big moneymakers besides Lorre, such as director-producer Jim Burrows and “Modern Family” creator Christopher Lloyd, the story notes. “All of them will stay with ICM, while Broder also will continue to be involved in their careers,” the piece adds.

The story adds: “Broder’s institutional knowledge has made him indispensable in complex negotiations. He had a hand in most major deals for ICM TV clients, including Ellen DeGeneres’ mega pact with Warner Bros. Additionally, Broder has been involved in grooming next generations of agents, going back to the Broder Kurland Agency, which he co-founded in 1978.”

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NBC Orders White House Drama From TV Heavyweights

NBC has ordered a drama set in the White House with a production team behind it that boasts an impressive track record, Deadline.com reports.

“Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron have set up the first project through the first-look deal they signed with Universal TV and NBCUni’s international TV production division in July,” the story reports. “NBC has bought an hourlong drama from the duo and former ‘General Hospital’ head writer Sri Rao. Tentatively titled ‘White House Confidential,’ the project is described as an upstairs-downstairs type soap set in the White House, told from the point of view of a young female doctor who has a secret from her past.”

Along with their deal with NBCUniversal for TV series and specials, Zadan and Meron have a number of projects on their plate, including producing a live ‘Sound of Music’ TV special for NBC, the story notes. They have also renewed their long-form deal at Sony TV, “putting several more TV movies in the works, including biopics of Anna Nicole Smith and Warren Jeffs at Lifetime and a Bonnie & Clyde miniseries at History,” the report notes.

Zadan and Meron have also recently been named as producers of the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony, as we reported previously.

Zadan and Meron also executive produce NBC’s “Smash” and Lifetime’s “Drop Dead Diva,” and are working on Lifetime’s upcoming remake of “Steel Magnolias,” the story notes.

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MTV Greenlights New Season of Video Series

MTV has announced that it is bringing back a video-focused series for a third season, Deadline.com reports. The cable channel ordered another 20 episodes of “Ridiculousness,” from Rob Dyrdek.

The series, which highlights amateur viral videos, had its season two premiere Aug. 20. “Produced by Dickhouse, the company behind the ‘Jackass’ franchise, among others, the series is co-hosted by Chanel West Coast and Sterling ‘Stello’ Brim,” the report notes.

“Ridiculousness” has been averaging a 1.2 rating in viewers 12-34, with about 1.3 million total viewers, the story reports.

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Jack Osbourne Lands a TV Gig He Can Sink His Teeth Into

Jack Osbourne, the son of rocker Ozzy Osbourne and “The Talk” co-host Sharon Osbourne, appears to have landed on his feet after his contentious rejection by the NBC reality show “Stars Earn Stripes,” which we reported on previously.

The Hollywood Reporter writes that Osbourne has a new TV gig lined up, executive producing a series for National Geographic Wild on K-9s -- dogs trained for police work. “Alpha Dogs” a 16-part docuseries from Osbourne and Rob Worsoff, “will go inside the training of the special elite force of K-9s dedicated to serving the country,” the story reports. “Each 30-minute episode of the National Geographic Wild series will explore the happenings at Indiana's Vohne Liche Kennels, one of the largest police dog training facilities in the nation.”

In a statement, Nat Geo Wild Executive VP and GM Geoff Daniels said: “’Alpha Dogs’ will focus on these highly trained dog heroes that have muscle and smarts. Our viewers will love to see the incredible drills and exercises the dogs undergo, follow the instruction process with their dedicated trainers who carry top security clearances, see the application in the field for military and police units, and even watch the fun they have playing fetch on their days off.”

Overseeing the project for Nat Geo Wild will be J-T Ladt, Ashley Hoppin and Janet Han Vissering.

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Singer From Popular 1950s Vocal Group Dead at 84

A singer who was a member of a popular 1950s vocal group died late last week at 84, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Dorothy McGuire, one of the three McGuire Sisters, died Friday in Paradise Valley, Ariz., after suffering from Parkinson’s disease and age-related dementia, the story reports.

Dorothy McGuire was the middle sister of the three in the singing group, between Christine, 86, and Phyllis, 81. Both Christine and Phyllis survive her.

The sisters had a string of hits in the 1950s, including 1954's "Sincerely," 1957's "Sugartime" -- both number ones -- "Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite" (1954) and "Something's Gotta Give" (1955). They were regulars on TV variety shows into the 1960s, appearing on shows hosted by Ed Sullivan, Milton Berle, Andy Williams, Perry Como and others, the story notes.

They stopped performing regularly in 1968, but reunited a number of times -- including doing a nightclub tour in 1986 and a PBS special in 2004.

Dorothy McGuire was married to Lowell Williamson, a wealthy oilman, for 53 years. Together, they had two sons, Rex and David.

Here’s a clip of the McGuire Sisters doing a medley of their hits from the PBS special in 2004 ...

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Nexstar Stations Renew Affiliation Pact With CBS

Nexstar Broadcasting Group announced today that it has agreed to a deal with the CBS Television Network that extends affiation agreements for eight Nexstar-owned stations.

The stations are KLBK-TV in Lubbock, Texas; KLST-TV in San Angelo, Texas; KTAB-TV in Abilene-Sweetwater, Texas; WCIA-TV in Champaign-Springfield-Decatur, Ill.; WFRV-TV in Green Bay, Wis.; WJMN-TV in Marquette, Mich.; WMBD-TV in Peoria-Bloomington, Ill.; and WROC-TV in Rochester, N.Y.

In addition, Mission Broadcasting Inc. has entered into a new long-term affiliation agreement for its CBS-affiliated station KOLR-TV in Springfield, Mo., the company announced.

Click here to read the full press release announcing the agreement.

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Miley Cyrus Named as Suspect in Alleged Battery Incident

Pop star Miley Cyrus has been named as a suspect in a criminal battery incident that reportedly occurred Saturday night in a Hollywood nightclub, TMZ.com reports.

“The alleged victim filed a police report early Sunday morning with the LAPD ... claiming he and his friends were sitting behind Miley and her fiance Liam Hemsworth at Beacher's Madhouse at the Roosevelt Hotel when things got rowdy,” the story reports. “The alleged victim claims he and his friends accidentally bumped into Liam's chair and the two camps exchanged words ... an argument that quickly escalated.”

The person filing the report says Hemsworth “got in his face and Miley jumped in the middle to break it up -- but not before pushing him away and striking him in the face,” the story says.

However, a witness to the argument reportedly told the website that Cyrus did not throw a punch. The alleged victim reportedly did not have visible injuries.

“Calls to Miley and Liam's camp were not returned,” the report adds.

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If Only You and I Were This Smart: Brothers Who Sold Their Sports Team in 1976 (!) Made $17.4 Million on the Deal in the 2010-2011 Season. And There's Millions More to Come

Two brothers who sold their sports team 36 years ago made $17.4 million on the deal in the 2010-2011 season, and stand to make millions more in the future.

If this sounds too good to be true, it's not. Here's a recounting of this tale by our friend Richard Sandomir in The New York Times last week. It's all about one really smart clause in a deal, and TV money.

Sandomir writes, "For years, it was an underappreciated wrinkle in the historic deal that merged the established National Basketball Association and the upstart American Basketball Association in 1976. The owners of the Spirits of St. Louis agreed to be paid a small fraction of the NBA’s television money to comfort them for being cut out of joining the older league."

Here's that really smart clause: The owners of the Spirits, brothers "Ozzie and Daniel Silna, would be paid the money every year in perpetuity, or as long as the NBA existed." the story says. 

And here's the amount of money they agreed to be paid: "[O]ne-seventh of the television money generated annually by each of the four surviving ABA teams -- the Nets, the San Antonio Spurs, the Indiana Pacers and the Denver Nuggets," Sandomir writes.

The article adds, "The Spirits became a distant memory, even for people in St. Louis. But the NBA has continued to exist quite nicely, meaning the Silnas’ haul has been substantial: $255 million and counting. But as sweet as the deal has been, the Silnas want more, and they have gone to court to get it. 

"In Manhattan federal court on Thursday, lawyers for the Silna brothers and the league argued over whether the men are owed money beyond what they get from the NBA’s national broadcast and cable television contracts. They want to tap into the money the league gets from international broadcasts, NBA TV, the league’s cable network, and other lucrative deals that could not have been imagined in the three network television universe of 1976."

Sandomir also notes, "In 1980-81, the first year the Silnas were eligible to get their share of TV money, they received $521,749, according to court documents filed by the NBA. For the 2010-11 season, they received $17,450,000. The NBA’s latest TV deal, with ESPN and TNT, is worth $7.4 billion over eight years. Soon, the Silnas’ total take will hit $300 million."

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Fox Series Gets End Date

An ending date has apparently been set for a Fox series that is heading into its final season, TVGuide.com reports. The end date of Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, has been set for “Fringe,” according to a Twitter post by executive producer J.H. Wyman.

Fox would not confirm the date for the series finale, which is being written and directed by Wyman, according to the report. The new date represents a change from what the plan that was outlined previously.

“In July, Fox boss Kevin Reilly told reporters the series' swan song would air in January,” the story notes. Speaking at Fox’s Television Critics Association fall preview session, Reilly said: "There's probably going to be a few interruptions, but not many. Just the holidays. [The series] will end in January."

The show's fifth and final season launches Sept. 28.

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The Two Words Ad Agency and Marketing Executives Fear Most

Two words are putting fear into agency and marketing executives, according to Advertising Age. The two words are "media rebates."

“The Association of National Advertisers reported in July the eye-opening results of a survey indicating that 28% of respondents are worried that media rebates -- a reviled but tolerated practice overseas -- are becoming more commonplace here,” the story reports. “The subject is so highly charged that numerous agency executives, while denying rebates are creeping into the U.S., would not do so on the record. But considering the source -- a survey from an entity that represents 450 major marketers that spend $250 million annually -- it's a subject that can't be ignored.”

The report adds: “While clients are increasingly suspicious about the practice, some observers suggest they might be driving it: The increased emphasis on procurement-driven cost cuts may have an unintended side effect: encouraging media rebates to rear their ugly heads on U.S. shores.

“Rebates, or, as they are sometimes more colorfully termed, ‘agency volume bonification’ (based on the word bonus), are loosely defined as an agency's receipt of a volume discount or compensation from media buys that is not necessarily passed on to the client. But even some critics of rebates say they are a natural outgrowth of marketers' efforts to squeeze agency costs.”

Click here to read this illuminating in-depth report in its entirety.

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ABC Snags 1980s Project After It Stalls at Fox

A family comedy set in the 1980s from "Breaking In" co-creator Adam F. Goldberg has received a production commitment from ABC, shifting the project from Fox, reports Deadline.com.

The project is described as "The Wonder Years" set in a dysfunctional family. Goldberg will write the script, with "Breaking In" co-creator Seth Gordon slated to direct the pilot of the show, which is called "How the F--- Am I Normal," the story says.

When the show was originally pitched in August 2011, all the major networks made bids, with Fox winning it in a complex deal that included bringing back the canceled "Breaking In." The 1980s project was put on hold while Goldberg focused on restarting "Breaking In," the story says.

"With no movement on the new project following 'Breaking In'‘s cancellation this May, Goldberg earlier this summer met with ABC, which was still very high on it and was willing to give it a production commitment if it were available. Goldberg then approached Fox about releasing the script, and the network agreed," the piece adds.

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Dick Wolf Reveals How He Has Survived at NBC for Decades -- and How His New Drama Fits In at the Network

Dick Wolf, the creator of NBC’s wildly successful “Law & Order” franchise, tells the Los Angeles Times that his new drama for the network, "Chicago Fire," marks a return to "retro TV."

"Nobody knows what's going to work in television anymore, but this is classic NBC drama -- a large ensemble in a major drama in the tradition of 'ER' or 'LA Law,'" Wolf said. "The game plan is getting the most people into the tent."

Wolf said the show won't be similar to other firehouse-based shows, such as "Rescue Me" or "Emergency," according to the story.

"We're not doing the fire of the week. Those shows all look alike. The non-fire sequences will have the same adrenaline as the fire scenes," Wolf said.

Wolf has had at least one series on NBC for the past 22 years, and said his success is attributable partly to practical considerations.

"I've survived six owners and 10 administrations," Wolf said. "At some point, it's a bit of the devil you know. I'm not really a high risk. I've never missed an air date or gone over budget. It's a business relationship and that's why I've survived."

NBC is betting heavily on Wolf and "Chicago Fire" as one of the keys to what the network hopes will be a ratings turnaround. Said Jennifer Salke, president of Entertainment: "We are true fans of what Dick has done in the procedural realm, and it was really exciting to embrace this character-driven procedural. It's an original setting for this kind of show that can really showcase this character development."

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'Saturday Night Live' Staffs Up, Fills Vacancies Left by Departing Cast Members

After the departure of cast members Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg and Abby Elliott, "Saturday Night Live" has hired two sketch comedians: Aidy Bryant and Tim Robinson, reports the Comic's Comic.

The two will join the cast when the show returns Sept. 15, with host Seth MacFarlane and musical guest Frank Ocean, the story says.

Bryant has appeared with Second City, and is also a member of iO team Virgin Daiquiri, the piece notes. The Chicago Tribune described her as an "up-and-comer."

Robinson has worked with the national Second City Touring Comapny, as well as Second City Mainstage, the piece notes. He has been cast in the CBS midseason sitcom "Friend Me," which will start production at the end of this month, the story says. His character lives in the Midwest and interacts with his friends through social media, so he could tape his scenes in New York, according to the piece.

Here are a couple of videos featuring the two new “SNL” cast members -- “Sharing with Aidy Bryant” and a trailer for “My Mans,” which wasn’t picked up.

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NBC Developing Drama for Oscar Nominee

NBC is developing a drama for an Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-nominated actress, reports EW.com's Inside TV. The actress is Angela Bassett, who starred in a Fox drama pilot last spring that didn't get picked up for this fall, the report notes.

Bassett will star in and executive produce a legal drama that focuses on two women, one an unsympathetic yet smart lawyer who faces a health crisis, and the other a young attorney she hires to help her continue to practice law, the story says.

Bassett starred in an untitled project last spring about the teenage daughter of a CIA operative, the piece adds.

She was nominated for an Oscar in 1994 for her leading role in “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” and has also been nominated for an Emmy, for lead actress in “The Rosa Parks Story” in 2002.

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NBC and CNN Beat Rivals on Final Night of the Democratic Convention

NBC and CNN were the most watched broadcast and cable networks, respectively, during the final night of the Democratic National Convention, reports B&C.

NBC drew an average of 7.03 million total viewers from 9-11 p.m. on Thursday, while CNN was watched by 4.11 million viewers from 8-11 p.m., the piece notes.

MSNBC, which had drawn the biggest audience among cable networks the evening before, fell behind CNN with 3.61 million total viewers, the story says.

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Video: Comedy Central's New Attack Ads Against CNN and Fox News for Political Season

Comedy Central has created attack ads that mimic political commercials, as a way of getting viewers to tune in to "The Daily Show" and "Colbert Report" during the election season, reports TVNewser.com.

In an ad that attacks Fox, the commercial uses clips of Fox News, then asks, "If Fox is so American, why is it owned by an Australian?" The ad the goes on to urge viewers to watch Comedy Central's Indecision 2012. A second ad attacks CNN.

Here are the clips:

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Weekend Box Office Is the Worst in 11 Years

The film industry recorded its slowest weekend in more than a decade, with ticket sales amounting to only $67 million, the Los Angeles Times reports. The total makes the weekend the lowest grossing since the second weekend after the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attacks, the story says.

Receipts dropped 18% from the same weekend a year earlier. Not one movie drew more than $10 million, with the weekend’s top movie, "The Possession," selling $9.5 million in tickets, the story says. "The Words," which stars Bradley Cooper -- rated by People magazine as 2011's most attractive man -- opened with only $5 million in sales.

Commenting on the weekend following Labor Day Weekend, Steven Friedlander, executive vice president of theatrical distribution for CBS Films, which is releasing "The Words," said: "Historically, it's a weekend where people are getting their life back into order after the summer, and movies aren't part of it. You're doing back-to-school shopping, getting the kids into the dorms, and soccer moms are back on the road.”

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It's Exciting, It's Romantic, and It Can Be Damn Dangerous: So You Wanna Be a Travel Writer

In this month's issue ot TVWeek's NewsPro, we feature travel journalism.

As we say in the issue, "In a world where the travel writer might commonly find himself or herself at the scene of a natural disaster or face-to-face with issues of global inequity in access to health care, it’s clear that travel journalism is more than comparing cruise lines or taking pretty pictures."

To read this exciting NewsPro, please click here.

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Divine Decadence: 'Arrested Development' Taps Return of Legendary Performer

The revived comedy series "Arrested Development" has tapped a legendary performer to appear on the show. The performer is Liza Minnelli, who will reprise her role as Lucille Austero -- the older girlfriend of the Bluth son Buster, reports TVGuide.com.

The character shares the same first name as Buster's mom, although the two women often don't see eye to eye, the story notes. Minnelli has had roles on "Drop Dead Diva" and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" since "Arrested Development" ended its run on Fox in 2006.

Netflix is slated to release the new "Arrested Development" season in 2013.

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Shonda Rhimes, Creator of 'Grey's Anatomy,' Lands Script Development Deal With NBC For Crime Drama

Shonda Rhimes, the creator of "Grey's Anatomy" is "reteaming with 'Grey's Anatomy' scribe Peter Nowalk for" a script commitment with NBC, writes Lesley Goldberg in an exclusive story for The Holllywood Reporter's Live Feed blog.

Goldberg writes that the script is for a series called "Under the Gun," which "revolves around Erin Kain, a woman who goes to work for the FBI as she struggles to make sense of a terrible event in her past that ruined her life and tore her family apart. While her young and fragile appearance doesn't typically suggest that she's best suited to work as a field agent, her dark past helps her get inside the head of criminals who were normal one day and cracked the next."

The story adds, "The script deal marks the 'Grey's Anatomy,' 'Private Practice' and 'Scandal' showrunner's first sale of the season for her Shondaland banner. Last season, Rhimes and company sold four dramas -- three to ABC and one to Fox. One, period drama 'Gilded Lilys' from 'Gossip Girl's' K.J. Steinberg, was ordered to pilot but was not ultimately picked up to series."

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Uh-Oh: A Lot of Folks Didn't Want Their MTV. Thursday Night's VMAs Lost More Than Half Its Audience Compared to the 2011 VMAs

"Somebody does not want their MTV," writes Dominic Patten at Deadline.com.

Patten continues, "Despite being the top show on cable last night, the network’s Video Music Awards lost more than half its audience compared with the 2011 show, which drew a record 12.4 million viewers. Last night’s VMAs pulled in 6.1 million and earned a 2.8 rating, far below 2011’s 6.2. There certainly were a lot of changes this year: Back in May, MTV decided to move the start time of the two-hour show ahead an hour to 8 PM so it didn’t conflict with President Obama’s 10 PM speech at the Democratic National Convention. The show also moved from airing on a Sunday to a Thursday."

To see our earlier news story about the VMAs themselves, please click here.

To see a complete list of the 2012 VMA winners, please click here.

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Clint Eastwood Tells The Carmel Pine Cone Newspaper How It Came to Pass, Just Minutes Before He Appeared on Stage, That He Would Talk to an Empty Chair

Clint Eastwood is the former mayor of Carmel, Calif., and he spoke to that town's newspaper this week -- The Carmel Pine Cone (est. 1915) -- about his unconventional address before the Republican National Convention on Aug. 30, 2012.

Reports the Pine Cone, "Eastwood’s appearance at the convention came after a personal request from Romney in August, soon after Eastwood endorsed the former Massachusetts governor at a fundraiser in Sun Valley, Idaho. But it was finalized only in the last week before the convention, along with an agreement to build suspense by keeping it secret until the last moment. Meanwhile, Romney’s campaign aides asked for details about what Eastwood would say to the convention.

“ 'They vet most of the people, but I told them, "You can’t do that with me, because I don’t know what I’m going to say," ' Eastwood recalled."

The story continues, "Early Thursday morning, when Eastwood left San Jose Airport on a private jet headed for Florida, he was still making up his mind. And even with his appearance just a few hours away, all Eastwood could tell Romney’s campaign manager, Matt Rhoades, and his aides was 'to reassure them that everything I would say would be nice about Mitt Romney.' "

"It was only after a quick nap in his hotel room a few blocks from the convention site, Eastwood said, that he mapped out his remarks -- starting with his observation about politics in Hollywood, then challenging the president about the failure of his economic policies, and wrapping up by telling the public 'they don’t have to worship politicians, like they were royalty or something.' ”

And the idea about the empty chair? Here's what happened, the story says:

" 'I got to the convention site just 15 or 20 minutes before I was scheduled to go on,' [Eastwood] said. ... After a quick trip through airport-style security, he was taken to a Green Room, where Archbishop Dolan of New York sought him out to say hello. Then he was taken backstage to wait for his cue. And that was when inspiration struck.

“ 'There was a stool there, and some fella kept asking me if I wanted to sit down,' Eastwood said. 'When I saw the stool sitting there, it gave me the idea. I’ll just put the stool out there and I’ll talk to Mr. Obama and ask him why he didn’t keep all of the promises he made to everybody.'

"He asked a stagehand to take it out to the lectern while he was being announced. 'The guy said, ‘You mean you want it at the podium?’ and I said, ‘No, just put it right there next to it.' "

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NBC Series That Has Been a Ratings Standout for the Network Sinks to Historic Low -- So How Did NBC Win the Night?

An NBC series that has been one of the network’s few bright spots in the ratings in recent seasons sank to a historic low Thursday night, according to Nielsen overnights. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “America’s Got Talent” fell to a 1.8 average rating in the key demo of adults 18-49 -- down 18% from the previous results episode and an all-time low for a non-recap episode.

Even so, “Talent,” airing at 8 p.m., gave NBC its best number in the time period since March 15. And NBC came out on top for prime time overall, thanks in part to its coverage of the Democratic National Convention. The report notes that the live nature of the convention coverage means figures will be subject to more than the usual adjustments.

Convention coverage in the 10 p.m. hour, when NBC, ABC and CBS all covered the event, saw NBC come out on top with a 2.5 average in the 18-49 demo (with 8.03 million total viewers), well ahead of ABC with a 1.0 (and 3.67 million total viewers) and CBS with a 0.9 (and 3.03 million viewers), all in preliminary numbers.

Elsewhere on the broadcast dial, much of the programming was repeats, but a fresh episode of CBS’s “Big Brother” did a 2.2 in 18-49, while a new installment of ABC’s “Wipeout” settled for a 1.3 (18% higher than last week’s series low).

For prime time overall, NBC came in on top with a 2.0 average rating in viewers 18-49, followed by CBS (1.6 average), Univision (1.3), ABC (1.1) and Fox (0.7) NBC also claimed the top spot in total viewers with 7.2 million, ahead of CBS (5.3 million), ABC (4.3 million) and Fox (1.8 million).

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Fox News Chief Roger Ailes May Seek Huge Pay Hike From News Corp.

News Corp. is reportedly in talks with Fox News chief Roger Ailes on a new multiyear deal, reports Gabriel Sherman at New York Magazine.

A deal hasn't yet been struck, although it's thought that Ailes, 72, could ask for a "mega deal" worth more than $30 million a year, because of Fox News' record profits, the story says.

Ailes' current contract expires next summer, and his attorney, Peter Johnson, is negotiating the new deal, the story adds.

"But another source close to Ailes explained that, for Ailes, signing a new deal is not only about the money. Ailes has to figure out what he wants to do next. But money is surely a consideration: Ailes is a guy who likes to keep score," Sherman writes. "And at News Corp., he's the third-highest-paid executive, behind Rupert Murdoch and COO Chase Carey."

As previously reported, Ailes' compensation for fiscal 2012 jumped 35% to $21 million, while the pay of Murdoch and Carey dropped.

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Video: Tom Brokaw Gets Back to Work, Talks About the 'Dumb Mistake' That Sent Him to the Hospital

Tom Brokaw returned to the airwaves Thursday after a health scare that sent him to the hospital. It turned out to be, in his words, a “dumb mistake,” as he accidentally took some Ambien and found himself making “less sense than usual” on the air, as we reported yesterday.

Brokaw was on hand Thursday evening for coverage of the Democratic Convention, and commented on the incident. Here’s a video from MSNBC in which Brokaw explains what happens. His comments begin about two and a half minutes into the clip, following some discussion of the convention -- including an awkward attempt at a baseball analogy.

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Big 12 Expands Rights Deals With Fox, ESPN

The Big 12 Conference has signed deals with Fox Sports Media Group and ESPN that extend and broaden the college conference’s partnerships with both media groups.

The two media companies will share broadcast and cable rights to Big 12 football, while ESPN continues to be the main rights holder for Big 12 men’s basketball.

The announcement states: “The new 13-year deal with ESPN begins with the upcoming 2012-13 season and runs through 2024-25, replacing the previous eight-year agreement that was scheduled to run through 2015-16. The new Big 12/ESPN contract now runs concurrently with the 13-year agreement between the Conference and Fox. That agreement, announced last spring, has been augmented to reflect the expansion of rights and platforms.”

The deal increases the number of national football telecasts to at least 25 per season on a combination of Fox, FX, ABC and ESPN.

Click here to read the full press release from Fox Sports Media Group.

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Thumbs Up! Academy Award Winners Martin Scorsese and Steven Zaillian ('Schindler's List' Screenplay) to Executive Produce the Life Story of Roger Ebert

Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese and Steven Zaillian, who won an Academy Award for writing the script for "Schindler's List," are partnering to executive produce the story of Roger Ebert, who may be the most well-known movie critic in the U.S., reports The Hollywood Reporter.

The film will be a documentary based on Ebert's 2011 memoir, "Life Itself."

Says the article, "The book chronicles the famous film critic's struggle and recovery from alcoholism; his battle with thyroid cancer that left him unable to eat, drink or speak; his marriage; his politics; and his spiritual beliefs."

Also involved in the project are director Steve James ("Hoop Dreams") and producer Garrett Basch, the story says.

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TV Ad Rates Soaring as the Presidential Race Enters Its Final Months

Television advertising rates are soaring on local stations, as the U.S. presidential race enters its final months, reports the New York Post.

At the same time, the amount of available ad inventory is shrinking, the story reports.

Ad buyers are expecting prices to jump between 25% and 50% before Election Day, with pricing becoming steeper for clients including retailers, auto makers and movie studios, the story says.

While TV stations get a boost every four years from the election, this year the advertising battle is even more pitched, with the addition of super PACs, which can accept unlimited gifts, the story points out.

TV station groups may take in $2.8 billion in ad dollars this election cycle, up from $2.1 billion in 2008, according to one analyst estimate.

“The demand for TV spots on local stations, especially in a smaller-than-usual number of swing states, is tightening ad inventory, driving up ad rates and crowding out other marketers,” the report notes.

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NBC Confirms Leno Took Massive Pay Cut -- 50%, to Be Exact -- When It Whacked 'Tonight' Budget

A report in The Wall Street Journal confirms that Jay Leno, longtime host of NBC’s “Tonight Show," took a big cut in his salary -- a 50% cut, according to the network -- when NBC came down on the show in a budget-cutting effort last month.[Note: The WSJ is behind a firewall and may charge you to read this story.]

The report, which cites NBC’s Robert Greenblatt as its source, says Leno is now making around $15 million a year, with his personal salary hack helping to trim about 20% from the show’s $100 million annual budget.

Other media outlets have reported significantly different estimates of Leno’s salary, with some placing his current pay at $20 million or higher.

“The mid-August cutbacks were widely covered in the media but without precise details from the network,” The WSJ piece reports. “At the time, most news reports said that Mr. Leno took a significant pay cut. NBC also clarified the number of layoffs, which it put at 20, among them writers and producers, reducing the show's staff to about 200.”

Greenblatt, head of NBC Entertainment, confirmed Thursday that the latest budget moves were an effort to bring the show back in line with what its costs were before NBC’s ill-fated decision to move Leno to prime time in 2009, the story reports. The brief experiment ended when the network put Leno back in the 11:35 p.m. slot, but the higher prime-time budget remained in place.

"All we did was bring it back down to pre-prime-time levels," Greenblatt said, adding that the 'Tonight Show' is "not the cash cow it was in the Johnny Carson days." Greenblatt noted, however, that the show still makes money, according to the report.

The report adds: “Late-night broadcasts have taken a hit over the years as audiences scatter to the Web and cable-TV shows such as ‘The Daily Show With Jon Stewart’ on Viacom Inc.'s Comedy Central. While ‘Tonight’ remains the king of the late talk hours, its average total audience between last September and early August shrank 5% from the year before, according to Nielsen data provided by NBC. Most other late-night shows have seen similar declines.”

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Report: 'American Idol' Has Offered One of the Judges' Spots to Singer Who Has Been Rumored to Be in Contention; Panel May Expand to Four Judges (Again) -- Potential Lineup Represents Four Musical Genres ... With One Big Omission

[Updated Friday, Sept. 7, 2012, 12:45 p.m. PT -- headline rewritten to reflect that the singer who was reportedly offered the judge's position, Enrique Iglesias, has had his name mentioned previously in connection with the job.This was pointed out to us in comments by at least one reader. A TVWeek editor, upon making the correction, then deleted the comments, which he should hot have done. We apologize and thank the commenters who pointed out our error.]

Fox’s "American Idol" has reportedly moved a step closer to locking down its panel of judges for season 12. The show made a “firm offer” of a judge's seat to singer and songwriter Enrique Iglesias, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Additionally, the panel may expand to four judges next year, even after the show scrapped its entire previous panel, the story notes. Rapper Nicki Minaj and country singer Keith Urban are ready to join pop singer Mariah Carey on the show, with Iglesias potentially filling the fourth judge's seat, the piece adds.

Iglesias has received an offer of about $4 million a year, about what Urban was offered, the story says.

The report notes that the plan to bring these four judges together represents s “four-quadrant strategy,” with the four panel members representing four musical genres: pop, rap, country and Latin music. That leaves out a traditionally important genre, rock ‘n’ roll -- but the piece notes that rock hasn’t had much impact on the charts in recent times.

The piece adds: “’Idol’ tried expanding to four judges once before and the network was said to be unhappy with the result, so this possibility is a bit surprising. But NBC’s ‘The Voice’ managed to have four judges from different music backgrounds that have worked together quite well. Plus, Fox’s own ‘The X Factor’ has a quartet of judges, too.”

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Oh, Bubba: Check Out These Surprising Ratings Results From Wednesday Night

Wednesday night pitted two American icons against each other on television: former President Bill Clinton speaking at the Democratic National Convention and the season opener of NFL football on NBC -- and Clinton outdrew the NFL, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The result may come as a surprise to many observers, given that the NFL has been delivering ratings that consistently dwarf everything else on TV.

Wednesday night's coverage of the convention drew 25.1 million viewers, while the NFL opener pulled in 23.9 million viewers, the story notes. The Dallas Cowboys beat the New York Giants in the kickoff game for the 2012 season.

Still, the second night of the convention marked a slight drop from the opening evening. On Tuesday night, which featured Michelle Obama, 26.2 million viewers tuned in.

The Democratic Convention has continued to draw more viewers than last week’s Republican National Convention, with the second night of that event delivering 21.9 million viewers. The RNC's second night featured Paul Ryan, the Republican nominee for vice president.

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VMAs: Rihanna's Shocking New Look -- She Also Won Video of the Year. One Direction Won Most Awards. We Have Full List of Winners

[Updated, Sept, 7, 2012 at 12:50 p.m. PT. In an earlier version of this story we referred to the group One Direction as One Dimension. We have since corrected that mistake. The mistake was pointed out to us by at least one person who commented on this story. A TVWeek editor, upon making the correction, then deleted the comments, which he should hot have done. We apologize and thank the commenters who pointed out our error.]

Rihanna made quite a splash at the MTV Video Music Awards, which were presented Thursday night, Sept. 6, 2012, at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. First, she shocked everyone with her new 'do:

rhianaVMAs2012.jpgRihanna won Video of the Year for her song "We Found Love," featuring Calvin Harris.

The big winner, in terms of number of awards, was the hot British boy group One Direction, which won three VMAs, including Best Pop Video and Best New Artist for "What Makes You Beautiful."

To see a complete list of winners, please click here.

To see a still photo collection of best and worst moments from the show, as compiled by Glamour magazine, please click here.

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Simon Cowell Says Britney Spears Tried to Quit 'X Factor' on Her First Day

Pop superstar Britney Spears had what is being described as a panic attack on her first day of production for Fox’s “The X Factor” and tried to get out of her $15 million job, TMZ.com reports.

The story cites Simon Cowell saying Spears, who was hired as one of the show’s judges, tried to quit the show -- and staffers for the show "half-lied" when they told the media that Spears left the set because she had to use the bathroom.

"No one is going to admit that on the first day your highest-paid star after 20 minutes has walked off set," Cowell told the website. He added that Spears "had a moment on the first day where she said to me, 'I'm not sure I can do this.'"

Cowell said he talked her back onto the show and that she's now loving her role -- and has become a solid judge.

The report adds: “Cowell also blasted his rivals at ‘The Voice’ ... claiming ‘Voice’ honcho Mark Burnett was full of crap when he told TMZ he had no idea NBC moved his show to Wednesday night, where it will go head-to-head with ‘X Factor.’"

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Report: One of the Kardashians Has the Inside Track to Become Host of 'X Factor'

Fox's talent competition series "The X Factor" has zeroed in on a front-runner to take over as the host of the show: Khloe Kardashian, reports TMZ.com.

The report cites sources close to the show, who say Kardashian was clearly the best of the women who auditioned for the job, and is “generally considered the best in the entire pack of host wannabes,” according to the piece.

The word is “the suits want it to happen,” the report adds.

Given that the show is spending a lot on Britney Spears and Demi Lovato in an effort to lure younger viewers, the show's executives believe Kardashian would be a good fit, the story says.

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Boldly Going Where NBC Failed to Go in 2011: Another Attempt Is Under Way to Bring Wonder Woman Back to TV

The superheroine Wonder Woman might return to television after all, with Warner Bros. TV trying another take on the franchise, reports Joe Adalian in New York Magazine. The effort follows a failed attempt to revive the character last year at NBC.

The CW has given a script commitment to the project, which has the tentative title "Amazon" and will go back to Wonder Woman's origin story, according to the piece.

Allan Heinberg of "Grey's Anatomy" is writing the script, which will focus on Wonder Woman as a girl. "Think 'Smallville,' but instead of a 'no tights, no flights' rule, this show might have a 'no bracelets, no crown' mandate," Adalian writes.

Reviving the franchise for TV has proved challenging since the end of the 1970s show "Wonder Woman," in which Lynda Carter played the title role. NBC opted not to move forward with David E. Kelley's version last year, the story points out, after Adrianne Palicki was cast in the pilot and a promotional shot of her sexy outfit created a stir. (See below.) Joss Whedon had been attached to a film version of Wonder Woman, but that never came to be, the piece adds.

Adrianne_Palicki_as_Wonder_Woman.jpgAdrianne Palicki as NBC’s 2011 version of
Wonder Woman -- which didn’t get picked up

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Apple to Challenge Pandora With Web Radio Service

The Internet radio market is growing, and a new competitor is ready to shake things up in the space. The New York Times reports that Apple wants a piece of the pie in a market segment that has been dominated by Pandora.

“Apple plans to develop a service that would compete with Pandora Media by sending streams of music customized to users’ tastes, three people briefed on the plans said late Thursday,” The Times reports. “Apple, which has already dominated the field of digital music with its iTunes store, is in the early stages of negotiating with the major record labels for the service, and the full scope of its plans were not clear, according to these people, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are private.”

The planned service is expected to be based on a preinstalled app on the iPhone, iPad and other devices, and might link with customers’ iTunes accounts to help determine their taste in music, the story notes.

“By offering streams customized to each user, Apple’s program would compete with Internet radio services like Pandora, Slacker and iHeartRadio, which is offered by the radio giant Clear Channel Communications,” the story says. “But while most such services operate under limited licenses that restrict what they can do with the music -- for example, limiting the number of times songs by particular artist can be played within an hour -- Apple is seeking direct licenses with record labels that would give the company more flexibility in using music, according to the people briefed on its plans.”

The report adds: “Like Pandora, Apple’s radio service would have advertising, carried through Apple’s iAd platform. Whether Apple would then share part of the ad revenue with labels, or pay them some other licensing fee, was unclear. It was also unclear whether the service would be free or require a subscription. Pandora with ads is free, although its users can pay $36 a year for a service that eliminates the ads.”

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CBS Looking Toward $225 Million Revenue Night as Network Has Already Sold 90% of Its Inventory for the 2013 Super Bowl

"CBS will announce [today] Friday, Sept. 7, 2012, that its Super Bowl ad slots are more than 90% sold out," writes Bruce Horovitz in USA Today..

The story continues, "The announcement comes five months before the game's broadcast on Feb. 3, 2013. The 30-second slots are going for a record $3.7 million to $3.8 million vs. an average $3.5 million during the 2012 broadcast on NBC. If CBS sells 60 slots, revenue could exceed $225 million."

The article adds: "'We have a handful of units left,' says John Bogusz, executive vice president of sports sales at CBS. 'We're pacing well ahead of last time we had the game.' (That was 2010, when it was 80% sold out at this point.)"

"Among the biggest repeat advertisers: Anheuser-Busch, PepsiCo, Frito-Lay and Hyundai," the story says, also noting that Pepsi will sponsor the halftime show.

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Book by '$#*! My Dad Says' Writer Being Adapted for TV -- Project Promises More Wisdom From the Author's Outrageous Dad

The book "I Suck at Girls," by "$#*! My Dad Says" writer Justin Halpern, is being adapted for television, with "Cougar Town" co-creator Bill Lawrence working on the project, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Fox has given the half-hour comedy a pilot production commitment, and Lawrence, along with Jeff Ingold, president of Lawrence’s Doozer, will executive produce. Halpern will write and executive produce along with Patrick Schumacker, who helped create the TV version of "$#*! My Dad Says," the story notes.

The project, from Warner Bros. Television, is about a boy who comes of age during a time before Google, and like Halpern's previous project, features advice from his outrageous father. Samuel Halpern, a retired radiologist, became a cultural icon in his own right for his blunt, often profane words of wisdom, showcased in the CBS comedy "$#*! My Dad Says.”

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NBC in Talks for Family Comedy Project Starring Cee Lo Green

NBC is in final negotiations with "The Voice" mentor Cee Lo Green for a family comedy project based on his life, reports Deadline.com.

Green will star and executive produce the project, from Sony TV and Happy Madison, while "Everybody Hates Chris" co-creator Ali Leroi will write the comedy. Green will star as a version of himself, marking his television acting debut, the story notes.

The show would track a top recording artist as he balances his career and home life, which is based on Green's real-life experiences with his ex-wife and children, the piece adds.

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J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot Extends Deal With Warner Bros. TV

J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot Productions has extended its television deal with Warner Bros. TV through 2015, reports B&C.

The three-year overall agreement means Bad Robot will continue to work on new TV projects to be produced in association with Warner Bros., with Abrams and partner Bryan Burk executive producing, the story says.

Warner Bros. first made a deal with Bad Robot in 2006. Its current shows include NBC's "Revolution" and Fox's "Fringe."

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'Sons of Anarchy' Creator Turns to Comedy With Vehicle Developed for Katey Sagal

The creator and executive producer of FX drama “Sons of Anarchy” has sold a comedy project to the network, and the project may mark the return to comedy for Katey Sagal, Deadline.com reports.

Kurt Sutter received a script development deal from FX for “Diva. Clown. Killer,” a half-hour comedy he created. His wife, Sagal, who stars in “Anarchy,” is likely to star in the project, the story reports.

Sagal is known for her long run as Peggy Bundy on “Married ... with Children” and as the voice of Leela on “Futurama.” She won a Golden Globe in 2011 for her work as Gemma Teller Morrow on “Anarchy.”

Sutter will exec produce the new project with Sagal and Belle Zwerdling, the story reports.

“The project is described as a dark, absurd comedy about a 1980s has-been rock diva; her dysfunctional son who makes his living as a kids party clown; and of course, an assassin,” the story reports. “’Diva. Clown. Killer’ is being developed as a starring vehicle for Sagal depending on her availability with ‘Anarchy.’ Sutter had indicated he plans to wrap the biker drama after seven seasons. Season 5 kicks off Tuesday.”

The project is part of Sutter’s overall deal with Fox 21 and comes from “Anarchy” producers Fox 21 and FX Productions.

Said Sutter: “I look at [‘Sons of Anarchy’] as being an intense drama, where the murder and mayhem are made palatable by absurd, dark humor. This half-hour will be an absurd, dark comedy, where the story is fueled by murder and mayhem.”

katey-sagal.jpgKatey Sagal

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Singer-Songwriter Joe South ('The Games People Play') Dead at 72 -- He Also Wrote 'Down in the Boondocks' and Played Guitar on a Classic Dylan Album

Singer-songwriter Joe South, who quietly racked up a string of behind-the-scenes musical achievements in addition to his signature hit song “The Games People Play,” has died, The New York Times reports. South died Wednesday at his home near Atlanta at 72, apparently of a heart attack.

South, born Joseph Alfred Souter, had a lasting impact on popular music, including writing the 1960s Billy Joe Royal hit “Down in the Boondocks” and Lynn Anderson’s 1971 hit “(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden,” which reached No. 3 on the Billboard pop chart. South also wrote the song "Hush," which became an early hit for the rock band Deep Purple.

An accomplished guitarist, South did session work for many other artists, including appearing on one of Bob Dylan’s quintessential albums, “Blonde on Blonde,” in 1966. He also did session work behind Aretha Franklin, Marty Robbins and others.

He had a minor success early in his career as a recording artist with “The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor” in 1958, but he became a star as a result of his 1969 hit recording “The Games People Play.” That song, which attacked insincerity in the name of religion, won a Grammy as song of the year in 1970.

He later had a few other minor hits, including “Don’t It Make You Want to Go Home” and “Walk a Mile in My Shoes,” which was often covered by Elvis Presley.

joe-south.jpgJoe South

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'American Pickers' Star Sells Comedy to CBS

One of the stars of History's hit reality series "American Pickers" is venturing into scripted programming, Deadline.com reports. Mike Wolfe, the creator and star of “Pickers,” has sold a workplace comedy project to CBS, the story reports.

Set in an antiques and collectibles shop, it's the story of a 20-something guy who decides to set off around the country searching for items to sell in the shop.

In other words, it's similar to Wolfe's experience on "American Pickers." Fred Savage ("Wonder Years") will be directing the pilot and Tom Brady will pen the script.

Wolfe said: “The story is based on my life as a picker, sure, but its appeal is that it’s really about everybody who ever looked for a treasure at a yard sale, bought a lottery ticket, rented a metal detector for a day at the beach or just found a curious old thing and wondered where it came from and if it was worth anything. That’s just about everybody I know.”

mike-wolfe.jpgMike Wolfe

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Convention Ratings: Democrats a Bigger Draw Than Republicans; MSNBC Pulls Off a Cable Surprise

The Democratic National Convention is tracking ahead of the recent Republican National Convention in television viewership, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“An estimated 26.2 million people tuned in to watch the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night, according to Nielsen -- 17.7% more than watched the Republican convention last week,” the newspaper reports. Tuesday night’s telecast from Charlotte, N.C., was headlined by first lady Michelle Obama.

“A week ago Tuesday, the first night of coverage of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., 22.3 million people watched Ann Romney and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie,” the report notes. “Last Thursday, the final night of the Tampa convention, 33 million people watched Clint Eastwood and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.”

Among the nine networks carrying the hour of prime-time convention coverage on Tuesday night, NBC pulled in the largest audience with an average of about 5.3 million viewers. MSNBC was second -- and first among cable news networks -- with 4.11 million. The next four: CNN (3.9 million), CBS (3.2 million), ABC (2.6 million) and Fox News (2.4 million).

MSNBC’s win over cable news rivals CNN and Fox News marked the network’s first-ever convention victory, The Huffington Post reports. The third-place finish for Fox News -- usually the leader among cable news channels -- was in contrast to the first night of the Rebublican Convention, when Fox drew 6.87 million viewers.

Most networks saw ratings drop this week from the turnout in 2008 -- with MSNBC the one exception, growing its ratings from four years ago.

“The disparity between MSNBC and Fox News could be chalked up to simple partisanship,” The Huffington Post reports. “Democrats are more likely to watch MSNBC during the Democratic gathering, and Republicans are more likely to watch Fox News during the Republican gathering -- and to stay away from watching the DNC altogether. But it's also a reflection of the success MSNBC has had in solidifying its brand as the go-to network for progressive and Democratic viewers.”

MSNBC President Phil Griffin was elated by the results, telling HuffPost: "To be number one on a big night, where we've never been number one before, to beat a couple of networks, to beat CNN, to beat Fox, it's just a credit to everybody here. It's exciting. And it's hopefully going to launch us the rest of the year and into years ahead."

Preliminary numbers for Wednesday’s convention coverage on the broadcast networks show that NBC’s broadcast of the season-opening NFL game had an impact, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

Nielsen overnights, which will be subject to substantial adjustments due to the live telecasts, had the football game between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants drawing an average of 21.8 million total viewers and an 8.7 average rating in the key 18-49 demo. Wednesday's Convention coverage on CBS pulled in 3.9 million viewers to 3.5 million on ABC, with both broadcast nets averaging a modest 0.9 rating in 18-49.

Both CBS and ABC were up from Tuesday night, but the total broadcast audience for the convention -- with NBC taken out of the running -- was down.

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NBC Broke Even on London Olympics, Says Top Exec

First NBC expected to lose money on the London Olympics, and then, when the Games started doing better than anticipated, expectations swung toward the possibility of coming out ahead. But in the end, the company broke even.

That’s the word from NBC Sports Group President Mark Lazarus, speaking today at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit, Deadline.com reports.

Lazarus said strong performances by U.S. athletes helped pump up the ratings for the event, which in turn helped the bottom line.

“NBC had projected a $200M loss, but NBCUniversal boss Steve Burke said last month it might have a shot at breaking even,” Deadline reports. “Advertising sales topped $1B, up 50% from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and 219.4M American viewers tuned in, making the London Games the most-watched TV event ever here.”

The report adds: “NBCUniversal lost $200 million covering the 2008 Vancouver Winter Olympics and since then its new parent company Comcast has ponied up $4.38B for rights to the 2014 and 2016 Games with the expectations it can figure out how to turn a profit.”

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'American Horror Story' Taps Frances Conroy for Return to Show

"American Horror Story" will see the return of actress Frances Conroy, who earned an Emmy nomination for her role on the first season of the FX show, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

"Thrilled to announce Emmy nominee Frances Conroy is returning to AHS,” show creator Ryan Murphy said via Twitter. "Devils and angels this year … Frannie plays the ultimate angel.”

The FX show will feature all of last year's stars, including Jessica Lange, Zachary Quinto, Evan Peters and Lily Rabe, the piece adds.

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NBC Yanks Drama Series From Lineup

NBC has pulled a drama series from the network schedule, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The series -- the medical show “Saving Hope” -- has two more episodes left in its freshman season, which had been scheduled to air Sept. 8 and Sept. 15.

Instead, the show’s last two episodes will run online, the story reports. The show stars “Smallville’s” Erica Durance.

The slots in the broadcast lineup will be filled by repeats of "America's Got Talent" and "The Voice," the story says.

“Saving Hope” failed to draw a big audience after debuting on NBC with 3.1 million total viewers and a 0.7 rating in adults 18 to 49. It has been renewed for a second season by Canada’s CTV.

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Veteran NBC Newsman Tom Brokaw Hospitalized

Tom Brokaw was hospitalized this morning in Charlotte, N.C., after experiencing symptoms after a TV taping, The Huffington Post reports. The longtime “NBC Nightly News” anchor complained of feeling light-headed after a taping of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” the story reports.

Brokaw was taken to a hospital to be checked out, and later posted a message via Twitter to let his fans know he was OK.

Brokaw tweeted: "All is well Early AM I mistakenly took a half dose of Ambien and made less sense than usual. Made a better comeback than Giants,” the piece notes. The New York Giants lost to the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL season opener Wednesday night.

The report notes: “Brokaw has been seemingly everywhere during the Democratic National Convention, which is taking place in Charlotte. From frequent early morning appearances on ‘Morning Joe’ to to early evening tapings of ‘The Daily Show’ to late-night chats with Sean Hannity, the 72-year-old has been working a punishing schedule. (Brokaw also moderated a Huffington Post panel on jobs on Wednesday.)”

MSNBC issued a statement saying: "On the set of 'Morning Joe' this morning, Tom Brokaw felt light-headed. Out of an abundance of caution, he was taken to a hospital. He is being evaluated and is in good spirits."

It was unknown this morning when Brokaw was expected to be released from the hospital.

tom-brokaw.jpgTom Brokaw

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Legendary NFL Owner -- a Driving Force in Creation of 'Monday Night Football' -- Dead at 87

One of the most polarizing figures in NFL history -- a team owner who was a driving force in football’s rise to prominence on television but who alienated his team’s fans when he moved the team out of town -- has died. Art Modell, former owner of the Cleveland Browns and a key mover in the creation of “Monday Night Football,” was 87.

The Associated Press reports that Modell died early today at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore after being admitted Wednesday. The cause of death was not known.

“Modell was among the most important figures in the NFL as owner of the Cleveland Browns, which became the Ravens after he took the team to Baltimore in 1996 in a move that tarnished his reputation as one of the league's most innovative and influential owners,” the story reports. “The Ravens won their lone Super Bowl in January 2001, less than a year after Modell sold a minority interest of the team to Steve Bisciotti. In April 2004. Bisciotti completed purchase of the franchise but left Modell a 1 percent share.”

Modell was one of the prime movers behind the NFL’s 1970 deal with ABC that put football games on television on Monday nights -- creating the powerful “Monday Night Football” franchise.

“During his four decades as an NFL owner, Modell helped negotiate the league's lucrative contracts with television networks, served as president of the NFL from 1967 to 1969, and chaired the negotiations for the first collective bargaining agreement with the players in 1968,” the report notes.

Modell became a hated figure in Ohio after he moved the Browns from Cleveland to Baltimore. He commented on the fallout from the move in 1999, saying: “I have a great legacy, tarnished somewhat by the move. The politicians and the bureaucrats saw fit to cover their own rear ends by blaming it on me.”

The report notes: “The move was also believed to be the main reason why Modell never made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was one of 15 finalists in 2001 and a semifinalist seven times between 2004 and 2011.”

“Modell's Browns were among the best teams of the 1960s, led during his first few years as owner by legendary running back Jim Brown,” the story adds. The team won the NFL title in 1964 and appeared in the championship game in 1965, 1968 and 1969.

The piece adds: “Modell said he lost millions of dollars operating the Browns in Cleveland and cited the state of Maryland's financial package, including construction of a $200 million stadium, as his reasons for going to Baltimore. The Ravens replaced the Baltimore Colts, who moved to Indianapolis in 1984.”

art-model-trophy-2001.jpgArt Modell with the Vince Lombardi Trophy in 2001

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Canceled FX Series May Live Again as Movie

It’s becoming a trend in television: Cancellation doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the line for a TV series. The latest example is “Terriers,” a canceled FX series from “The Shield” creator Shawn Ryan, which may come back to life as a two-hour movie via the crowd-funding site Kickstarter, reports Television Business International.

Ryan, an executive producer on "Terriers," is in talks to produce the movie and would be the highest-profile TV producer to turn to Kickstarter to fund a project, the story notes.

“I’ve had friends who’ve raised money for indie movies through Kickstarter and I started to think that if you wanted to make a two-hour movie that capped off that series, how [much] would it cost to make it -- and would there be a way to raise the money via a combination of Netflix and Kickstarter," he said.

Ryan added he doesn’t think the stories "have been wrung out" of the show, and said he was encouraged by high viewing figures from Netflix, according to the report. He said he's talking with show creator Ted Griffin about the idea, and will discuss the project with Fox 21 if Griffin approves, the piece adds.

“I don’t own the rights -- Fox 21 does -- but maybe there’d be some upside for them if they didn’t have to chip in a dime but all of a sudden had a two-hour movie as an asset that they could add to what they have on Netflix, maybe they’d go for it,” Ryan said.

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Britney vs. Christina: NBC Sets Up Showdown by Adding a Third Night of 'The Voice' -- and Boy, Did the Move Tweak 'X Factor's' Simon Cowell

NBC has added a third night of "The Voice" to the lineup for next week, putting the final evening of the show’s premiere week up against Fox's "The X Factor," reports TVLine.com.

The third season of the "The Voice" was originally scheduled to bow with episodes Monday, Sept. 10, and Tuesday, Sept. 11, but NBC announced Wednesday that it will move a repeat of "America's Got Talent" so that it can air a third installment of "The Voice" on Sept. 12 at 8 p.m., the piece adds.

The move angered "X Factor" creator Simon Cowell, who called the scheduling strategy "a cynical, cold-hearted, unprofessional way of doing business," reports TMZ.com.

Cowell said he believed he had a "gentleman's agreement" with NBC that the two shows wouldn't overlap each other, allowing fans to watch both programs.

"The reason they've done this is they don't want people to see 'X Factor' because they've heard how good the series is. They don't want their audience to see Britney Spears. They don't want their audience to see Demi Lovato," Cowell said, according to the story.

The scheduling move will have "The Voice" coach Christina Aguilera on the air opposite "The X Factor’s" new judge Spears, with the two singers having a relationship that dates back to their parts on "The Mickey Mouse Show" in the 1990s, the story notes.

Cowell appeared to warn of possible friction between the two pop stars, telling TMZ: "Britney's not going to appreciate the fact that Christina -- who has been a bit of a rival -- isn't allowing Britney to have a night of her own."

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Report: Why the Cable Operators Fear Apple -- Though Time Warner Cable Seems to Fear Apple Less Than Other Operators. What Is Better for the Consumer?

Why the cable companies fear Apple and a robust Apple TV is part of what's talked about in an article posted on BloombergBusinessweek today, Sept. 6, 2012.

Accrding to the article, written by Adam Satariano and Alex Sherman, "Walter Price, an investor with RCM Capital Management in San Francisco who met with Apple executives recently to discuss their television efforts, said cable and media companies are concerned that a better-designed Apple product will undermine their business model.

" 'It’s a tough problem because the cable companies and media companies are not very enthusiastic about the prospect of Apple creating a better user interface,' said Price, whose firm owns $1.9 billion worth of Apple shares."

The article adds that the cable operator that seems most open to overtures from Apple is Time Warner Cable:

"Apple may be looking to Time Warner Cable to be its first partner in a similar way that AT&T Inc. helped bring the iPhone to market, one person said. This would be a departure from Apple’s traditional strategy of releasing products nationally. Time Warner Cable, like all cable companies, only operates in certain regions. Los Angeles and New York City are its largest markets. Under this thinking, Apple would then expand the service if it proves successful, one person said.

“ 'Unlike other distributors, we are not religiously wedded to absolutely controlling the user interface,’ said Robert Marcus, chief operating officer of Time Warner Cable, in a telephone interview. He declined to comment on Apple specifically."

So how would Apple's device interface with what cable customers now receive? Says the article: "Apple has focused on cable companies that would give it access to live broadcasting without needing new content agreements. Under such a deal, Apple would release a new product for customers to access their set of channels, paid with a cable subscription, instead of leasing a set-top box from pay-TV operators for a monthly fee, a person familiar with the discussions said. Apple may also lease the boxes through cable companies, another person said. The box would be Internet-connected, similar to Comcast’s new X1 interface, which is available in Boston, Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia, the person said."

To get more details, we suggest you click on the link above and read the entirle Bloomberg Businessweek article.

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BBC America Sets Ratings Record

BBC America made ratings history over the weekend, TheWrap.com reports. The cable channel had its most-watched telecast of all time with Saturday’s season premiere of "Doctor Who," the story reports.

The episode drew 1.6 million total viewers, including 723,000 in the key 25-to-54 demographic, the story notes. Both numbers are records for the channel.

BBC America also scored its highest-rated weekend ever, the story says, driven by the “Doctor Who” premiere and the third episode of “Copper.” “Copper” topped 1 million total viewers for its two airings Sunday night.

"Copper," BBC America’s first original series, is about an Irish cop in 1864 New York City.

The first episode of “Copper” has piled up more than 1.8 million viewers for its multiple airings.

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CBS Corp. and Cablevision Ink Carriage Deal

In a negotiation that distinguished itself from other recent carriage talks by avoiding any programming blackouts, CBS Corp. and Cablevision Systems reached a carriage agreement Wednesday, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The deal covers retransmission of CBS-owned TV stations along with carriage of the cable nets Showtime, Smithsonian Channel and CBS Sports Network, the report notes.

“While the majority of Cablevision subscribers are in the New York tri-state market served by WCBS, Cablevision customers in the Philadelphia and Denver markets are also covered,” the story reports. Financial terms and other details were not disclosed.

“CBS Corp., led by CEO Leslie Moonves, and Cablevision, led by CEO Jim Dolan, reached the new carriage agreements without any programming blackouts seen in recent retrans and network carriage negotiations,” the story notes.

Said Martin Franks, executive VP for planning, policy and government relations at CBS Corp.: “Cablevision is a cornerstone partner in our flagship market. By recognizing the value of our content, this agreement assures the audiences we share with Cablevision will continue to be able to enjoy programming ranging from ‘The Big Bang Theory’ to ‘NCIS,’ ‘60 Minutes’ to the NFL, ‘Homeland’ to ‘Dexter,’ to Smithsonian Channel’s award-winning programs and Jim Rome."

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Fox Gives Pilot Commitment to 'Fringe' Creator J.J. Abrams

Fox has given a pilot production commitment to "Fringe" creator J.J. Abrams and executive producer J.H. Wyman for a futuristic drama, reports Deadline.com.

In what was called a competitive situation, Fox won the project, described as an action-filled police drama that's set in the near future, with each human officer paired with human-like androids, the story says. Abrams, Bryan Burk and Wyman will executive produce, with Wyman also writing, the story notes.

The order comes as "Fringe" draws to a close on Fox.

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Christina Ricci Slated for First TV Role Since 'Pan Am' Crash Landing

Christina Ricci has been cast in a series role that will mark her first TV job since the spectacular failure of ABC’s period piece “Pan Am” earlier this year. Ricci will guest-star on the fourth season of CBS's "The Good Wife," reports TVLine.com.

Ricci plays a comedienne who likes to shock people and uses her good looks for comedic effect, the story says. Her character will tap the show's law firm Lockhart Gardner, the piece adds.

Ricci’s soapy airline drama “Pan Am” was canceled by ABC back in February after a troubled first season that saw the show’s ratings fall off drastically during its run, as reported previously.

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'Live with Kelly' Gets Ratings Bump From Debut of New Co-Host

ABC's syndicated daytime program "Live with Kelly and Michael" got a boost from the debut of new co-host Michael Strahan, with its audience jumping 44% from a year earlier, reports Bloomberg.

Tuesday's program, the first installment that included former New York Giants football player Strahan as the show's new permanent co-host, was the most-watched daytime program in 14 of the country's top 15 television markets, the story notes.

Strahan took over the spot alongside Kelly Ripa that was filled by Regis Philbin for years.

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Syfy Buys Action Series

An April 2013 premiere is expected for an action series bought by the Syfy cable channel, Deadline.com reports. The series is the British show “Sinbad.”

“With its strong production values and rich story, 'Sinbad' will be a terrific addition to our prime-time lineup," said Chris Regina, Syfy’s senior vice president, programming and original movies, according to the story.

Based on the legends of the Middle Eastern sailor, "Sinbad" stars Elliot Knight in the title role with "Lost" actor Naveen Andrews as a co-star. The show has 12 episodes in its first season.

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Oscar-Winning Writer-Director Paul Haggis -- Who Famously Had a Falling Out With the Church of Scientology -- Confirms Vanity Fair Report That the Church Tried to Groom Actress to Wed Tom Cruise

"Oscar-winning 'Crash' writer-director Paul Haggis has confirmed for me the story of Naz Boniadi, the beautiful Iranian-born actress whom Scientology tried to groom as Tom Cruise’s girlfriend in 2004-2005. Vanity Fair has just released a teaser of their extraordinary story (kudos to Graydon Carter) about Cruise’s auditioning of women to be his wife in the months leading up to his choosing of Katie Holmes in April 2005. Haggis left Scientology two years ago. ... His exit was then chronicled in the New Yorker. "

So begins an article by Roger Friedman, the editor in chief of Showbiz 411.

Friedman's article continues, "Haggis confirms Boniadi’s saga, and tells me that she, too, has left the cult. Here’s his email to me from Rome, where he‘s prepping a film. Haggis says he will have no other comment on this situation beyond this:

“I’ve known Nazanin for about three years. I met her through a mutual friend when I was doing my own personal research into the allegations against Scientology, before I wrote my letter of resignation. Naz was embarrassed by her unwitting involvement in this incident and never wanted it to come out, so I kept silent. However I was deeply disturbed by how the highest ranking members of a church could so easily justify using one of their members; how they so callously punished her and then so effectively silenced her when it was done. It wasn’t just the threats; they actually made her feel ashamed, when all she had been was human and trusting."

To read the rest of what Haggis has to say, plese click on the link to the Showbiz 411 article above.

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Robert De Niro to Direct His First TV Show. It'll Be Written by Oscar Winner Eric Roth ('Forrest Gump'). De Niro's Tribeca Prods. Also Has a New Project at CBS

Robert De Niro, who has won two Oscars for acting ("Raging Bull," "The Godfather, Part 2"), and who has directed two movies ("A Bronx Tale" in 1993 and "The Good Shepherd" in 2006), will direct his first TV project, our friend Nellie Andreeva reports in an exclusive story for Deadline.com.

De Niro will direct a TV version of "The Good Shepherd," which will air as a series on pay cabler Showtime, which is owned by CBS Corp. Eric Roth, who wrote the screenplay for the movie version of "The Good Shepherd," "will write/exec produce the series adaptation," Andreeva writes, adding, "The series will follow the family of a CIA operative."

The story notes, "This would mark the first series created by CAA-repped Roth in two decades, since the 1992 Fox musical drama 'The Heights,' which he co-created. He spent the last two decades mostly in features, earning four Academy Award writing nominations and winning for 'Forrest Gump.' He is currently an executive producer on Netflix’s 'House Of Cards' and served as co-executive producer on HBO’s 'Luck.' "

De Niro, who runs Tribeca Prods. with Jane Rosenthal, is also developing for the CBS network "a family medical drama from TV writer/playwright Diana Son ('Law & Order: Criminal Intent'). Both projects are produced by CBS TV Studios, where Tribeca is under an overall deal. Rosenthal and De Niro executive produce, with Tribeca’s Berry Welsh serving as producer," Andreeva writes. The CBS drama is currently untitled.

Both of these projects "join Tribeca’s recent sale to CBS of a father/daughter legal drama written by 'Game Change‘s' Danny Strong and to be directed by 'The Fighter‘s' David O. Russell," the story says.

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Chuck Lorre to Move Into Drama Series, Feature Films

Behind-the-scenes TV icon Chuck Lorre, whose media empire already includes more hit TV comedies than he can easily keep track of, is mapping plans to expand into dramas and features. Deadline.com reports that the man behind “Two and a Half Men,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “Mike & Molly” has just closed a new deal with Warner Bros. TV that makes room for Lorre to broaden his horizons.

The deal extends Lorre’s arrangement with the studio for a whopping four more years -- reflecting his position as Warner Bros. TV’s biggest money maker. All three of the above-named comedies have been sold into syndication.

“The just-finalized new development and production deal includes a component for feature films Lorre would write, develop and/or direct for Warner Bros. Pictures,” Deadline reports. “But its main focus will remain television, where Lorre also plans to expand his turf with forays into drama series and longform projects in addition to developing new comedy shows. Lorre will be targeting both broadcast and cable networks with his new development through his Chuck Lorre Prods., Warner Bros. TV and Warner Horizon TV. Additionally, Lorre will continue as executive producer of ‘Two and a Half Men,’ ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and ‘Mike & Molly.’”

The pact will stretch Lorre’s stay at Warner Bros. to 16 years. “Lorre’s relationship with Warner Bros. TV President Peter Roth goes back even further, to 1995, when Roth, as president of 20th Century Fox TV, brought Lorre to that studio,” the report notes.

Said Lorre: “I’m proud to say that at 12 years and counting, my relationship with Warner Bros. is now officially longer than either of my marriages. With that in mind, it seemed appropriate to extend our little corporate love affair and try for ‘until death do us part.’ I’m also excited to have an opportunity to venture into the world of drama. After writing and producing sitcoms for 20 years, it’ll be a welcome relief to take all the violence, insanity and human suffering from behind the cameras and put it out front. And finally, the feature component of this new deal allows me to fulfill a lifelong ambition -- to have a project in ‘turnaround.’”

The report adds: “Roth called Lorre ‘the quintessential comedy writer/producer of our time’ and ‘the most successful creator/showrunner of the last 25 years in this business.’ ‘Chuck has had a profound impact on Warner Bros. Television over the last 12 years, and we look forward to a long and successful future relationship,’ he added.”

Earlier in his career, Lorre had a hand in sitcoms including “Dharma & Greg,” “Grace Under Fire” and “Roseanne.”

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TBS Renews Sitcom, Marking Channel's Successful Return to Half-Hour Comedies

TBS is doing well with its return to half-hour sitcoms, packaging its originals with a strong off-network series, Deadline.com reports. The cable channel underscored that success by renewing the freshman comedy “Sullivan & Son,” exec produced by Vince Vaughn.

The news followed the renewal of the channel’s other first-year comedy, “Men at Work.” The shows have been packaged with the off-network powerhouse “The Big Bang Theory.”

“Sullivan & Son,” which airs Thursdays at 10 p.m., has been averaging more than 2.5 million viewers. The show received a 10-episode order for season two.

“After a solid launch with 2.5 million viewers, ‘Sullivan & Son’ exceeded expectations in Week 2 when it held onto 100% of its premiere audience,” Deadline reports. “The series stars Steve Byrne as a corporate attorney who finds new life behind the bar when he leaves his Manhattan lifestyle and moves to Pittsburgh to take over his parents’ pub. Byrne is joined by an ensemble cast that includes Christine Ebersole, Brian Doyle-Murray, Jodi Long, Valerie Azlynn, Vivian Bang, Owen Benjamin and Dan Lauria.”

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VH1 Greenlights New Reality Competition Series

Fresh off the success of having the summer’s top-rated cable reality series in adults 18-49, VH1 has picked up a new reality competition series, Deadline.com reports. The new series, “Model Employee,” features eight models competing for the opportunity to become the face of the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. The series will be hosted by U.S. model Chrissy Teigen.

The news follows the summer succes of VH1’s new show “Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta,” which was the season’s No. 1 cable reality series in viewers 18-49 and women 18-49, the story reports.

“Model Employee” comes from Studio Lambert, producer of “Undercover Boss.” VH1 has given the show, set to premiere in early 2013, an eight episode order.

The story reports: “The contestants -- Alexis Farmer, Aspen Widowson, Britany Trankino, Jassmine Amos, Johanna Daru, Shannone Holt, Sonja Ewy and Shah Granville -- will be put through a series of challenges designed to test not only their modeling abilities, but also their working knowledge of the hotel. That will involve them performing some of the dirtiest and most physically exhausting jobs that make the hotel function, including cleaning Mandalay Bay’s signature shark tank or sifting through all of the resort’s trash for recyclable items.”

Along with its success with “Love and Hip Hop,” VH1 had a summer hit with “Single Ladies,” which wrapped its second season as the top regularly scheduled scripted series of the summer on ad-supported cable among women 18-49, the report notes.

chrissy-teigen2.jpgChrissy Teigen

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Why the Most Interesting Man in the World Does Not Tweet

The iconic Dos Equis advertising spokesman dubbed “the most interesting man in the world” -- played by American actor Jonathan Goldsmith -- keeps busy doing a lot of things, but one of them isn’t tweeting. The reason? Essentially, he’s too busy out in the real world, “staying thirsty.”

Lesya Lysyj, chief marketing officer for Heineken USA, which owns the Dos Equis brand, talked about why the character has yet to make his presence felt in social media -- and revealed a few other marketing secrets too -- in an interview with Advertising Age.

Click here to read the full story.

most-interesting-man.jpgThe Most Interesting Man in the World

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Apple Slates Big Event for Sept. 12 -- The Buzz Is This Will Be the Unveiling of the iPhone 5

Apple has set up a big media event for Sept. 12, sending out invitations to what is widely expected to be the rollout of the new iPhone 5. The event will take place at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, reports Reuters.

“The typically cryptic invitation said ‘It's almost here,’ sported a number 12 -- corresponding to the date of the event -- and cast a large shadow of the number 5, a clue that the fifth version of the popular smartphone could be in the pipeline,” the story reports.

The iPhone has become Apple’s most important product, generating more than half of Apple’s revenue, the report notes. The device revolutionized the mobile industry after its debut in 2007.

The new version is expected to include a larger and higher-end screen -- 4 inches, up from the current 3.5 inches, according to one source.

“Some analysts say the larger screen may be a response to rival Samsung Electronics, whose larger Google Android phones have helped it become the world's biggest smartphone maker,” the report notes.

Speculation about what’s coming from Apple has also focused on a possible smaller version of the iPad, but the runup to the Sept. 12 event hasn’t included any indications that it may be imminent.

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Bravo Renews Hit Reality Series

Bravo Media announced today that it is renewing a successful reality series, which will return for a fifth season. The series is “The Rachel Zoe Project.”

The unscripted show is set in the world of fashion, where Zoe is one of the most sought-after celebrity stylists.

The network said in its announcement: “Rachel Zoe has evolved from being a successful celebrity stylist into the Rachel Zoe brand. Her business has exploded and now includes accessories, apparel and more. Rachel has doubled her team and now has employees in New York and Los Angeles to keep up with her ever-expanding business. In her personal life, she is settling into her new Los Angeles home with husband Rodger and little fashionisto Skyler, who is now a walking toddler.”

“The Rachel Zoe Project” is produced for Bravo by executive producers Ken Druckerman, Banks Tarver, Angie Day, Rachel Zoe and Derek Wan of Left/Right Productions, and executive producer Charlie Corwin of Original Media.

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Actor Dumped From NBC Series

One of the regulars on an NBC drama series has been dropped from the cast, Deadline.com reports. The show, the medical drama “Do No Harm,” scrapped Mousa Kraish, the report says.

Kraish was let go from the midseason program after two episodes. The program focuses on a neurosurgeon, played by Steven Pasquale, who has a dangerous alter-ego.

Kraish played an attending clinical pharmacologist, and his role will be recast, according to the article. The show is starting production on its third episode.

Kraish has been seen in films including Steven Spielberg’s “Munich” (2005) and the 2007 movie “Superbad.”

mousa-kraish.jpgMousa Kraish

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Bob Barker, Who Hosted 'Price Is Right' for 35 Years, Says the Show Snubbed Him in Its Anniversary Telecast -- and He Knows Why

Bob Barker, the longtime host of "The Price Is Right," says the show banned him from its 40th anniversary telecast, which aired Monday, reports the New York Post. Barker, 88, cited his past criticism of the show as the reason.

An outspoken animal rights advocate, Barker has condemned the show’s awarding of prizes such as trips to places and events he thinks are cruel to animals.

"Look, the show is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and I did 35 years of those 40 years. Do you think there might be somebody out there in TV land who’d have liked to have seen me on the show?” Barker said, according to the story.

Since Barker left “Price” in 2007, he has continued to criticize the show -- including speaking out against the awarding of a trip last February to the annual rodeo event the Calgary Stampede.

“It’s considered one of the most despicable of all the rodeos and has a terrible reputation,” Barker said. “I’m ashamed of [the show’s] total disregard for animals.”

Barker has also blasted “Price Is Right” in the past for awarding a trip to Sea World, which he called “a terrible place,” the story reports.

CBS had no comment, the report notes, but a source said the anniversary show wasn’t about Barker. “The show was about inviting back former contestants from the past 40 years,” the insider said. “It would have been great to bring Bob back, but then the focus would have been on Bob -- which would have been unfair for the people who were coming back.”

Here's a notorious clip from "The Price Is Right" during Barker's hosting days, which has been viewed online almost 10 million times:

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Video: Things Get Heated During Political Discussion on MSNBC, With Host Yelling at Guest -- Triggering Emotions Among Viewers

MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry yelled at one of her guests on the air Saturday, striking a nerve among viewers, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

Harris-Perry was hosting a panel that included financial expert Monica Mehta during a discussion of the book "Why Americans Hate Welfare," by Princeton professor Martin Gilens. Gilens argues that a 20-year-old media campaign to link African-Americans to welfare has created a widespread distaste for public assistance, the story notes.

The host lost her temper when Mehta said class mobility is "enabled by taking risks" by well-off business people.

Harris-Perry yelled, "What is riskier than being poor in America? Seriously?"

She added, "I live in a neighborhood where people are shot on my street corner. I live in a neighborhood where people have to figure out how to get their kid into school because maybe it will be a good school and maybe it won't. I'm sick of the idea that being wealthy is risky."

Harris-Perry later apologized for "losing my temper" but her interview has gone viral, with fans focusing on her phrase, "I'm sick of the idea that being wealthy is risky," the article notes. Fans have generally been supportive of the host.

Among those commenting, “Vanity Fair editor and author Kurt Eichenwald tweeted that Harris-Perry's yelling was ‘a passion that comes from speaking the truth,’” the Times reports.

Film critic Roger Ebert expressed a similar sentiment, posting that Harris-Perry "explodes with truth."

Here’s a clip of the increasingly contentious panel discussion, with the sparks really flying starting around the eight-minute mark:

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New York Times Demotes a Critic -- Who Also Happens to Be a 'World Authority' on the Beatles

The New York Times has demoted one of its critics, writes Norman Lebrecht at the Arts Journal blog Slipped Disc.

Lebrecht writes: "The move has nothing to do with the quality of Times journalism. It is rooted entirely in the poison of internal politics."

The critic involved is now former music critic Allan Kozinn,  who began freelancing for The Times in 1977 and joined the staff at the paper in 1991. He often writes about classical music.

Lebrecht notes that Kozinn is also  "a world authority on the Beatles (interest declared: I [Lebrecht] commissioned his best-selling book on the subject). Jon Pareles, the newspaper’s chief pop critic, said, in a 1989 Juilliard lecture: ‘The Times is the only newspaper in the world with a Beatles Desk, and it’s in the classical department.’ Sir Paul McCartney told me: ‘He knows it all.' "

Kozinn has written a few books about the Fab Four, including "The Beatles: From the Cavern to the Rooftop."

So how come Kozinn was busted from being a music critic back to being a reporter on the culture beat as of yesterday, Sept. 4, 2012?

Here's Lebrecht's take: "The reasons are purely internal. Culture Editor Jon Landman knows he has a problem in the classical department. The chief critic Anthony Tommasini is thought to have failed to win the confidence of New York’s opinion formers. Moves are said to be afoot to hire Zachary Woolfe as Tommasini’s sidekick and, eventually, his successor. Landman has been heard to say that ‘Zach is the most important thing that has happened to classical music in a long time’ (sic). He needed to create a vacancy for Woolfe to be hired, so Kozinn had to go.

"When push came to shove, Kozinn’s superiors vanished into thin air. The Classical Music Editor, James Oestreich, has a 33-year friendship with Kozinn, going back to the days when Kozinn and other writers walked off High Fidelity magazine when Oestreich got the push."

What makes this story particularly fascinating for both Times watchers and those interested in the politics of journalism in general is the quality of the informed comments -- and there are about 100 of them -- that accompany Lebrecht's posting. We urge you to click on the link above and peruse them.

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'Law & Order' Producer Dick Wolf Adapting British Series for NBC

"Law & Order" producer Dick Wolf is adapting a U.K. series for NBC, reports TheWrap.com. The original British program, "Injustice," stars James Purefoy as the attorney William Travers.

NBC has given the project a script order. The NBC project is described as an "intricate legal drama about a devoted criminal defense attorney with a very dark past," the story notes.

Wolf will executive produce, while "Friday Night Lights" and "Parenthood" co-executive producer David Hudgins will write the script and executive produce.

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A&E Miniseries With High-Powered Cast Debuts to Comatose Ratings

A&E's "Coma" miniseries had a low viewer turnout for its first night -- especially when compared with the network's previous medical thriller miniseries, "Andromeda Strain," reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The first installment of "Coma" aired Monday, with only 1.8 million viewers tuning in, the story reports. In comparison, 2008's "Andromeda Strain" attracted 4.8 million viewers for its first night, according to the story.

"Coma" is a remake of the Robin Cook medical thriller, and stars Lauren Ambrose, Geena Davis, Richard Dreyfuss, James Woods and Ellen Burstyn.

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News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch Has His Pay Cut, While Another Top Company Exec Gets a Raise

News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch received a compensation cut for fiscal 2012, although another leading exec at News Corp. -- Fox News chief Roger Ailes -- got a pay boost, reports Jon Lafayette at B&C.

Murdoch's total compensation fell 10% to $30 million, with his bonus and stock awards down from last year. His salary was unchanged at $8.1 million.

Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes' compensation jumped 35% to $21 million, including a $9 million bonus pegged to the performance of Fox News Channel, the story notes. That was up from $8 million in the previous fiscal year. His salary was unchanged at $5 million and he received a stock award of $4.06 million.

News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey saw his total compensation drop 18% to $24.8 million.

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Amazon Ramps Up Challenge to Netflix in Online Streaming Space

Amazon.com has signed a deal that increases its footprint significantly in online video -- ramping up the competition between Amazon and segment leader Netflix. Bloomberg reports that the pay-television network Epix signed a deal with Amazon bringing key film titles such as “The Hunger Games” to Amazon’s Prime Instant Video service.

The three-year agreement will boost the number of titles on Amazon's Prime subscription service to 25,000. Since the company introduced the Kindle Fire a year ago, its titles have more than doubled, the story points out.

Netflix shares closed down Tuesday after news of the deal, falling 6.4% -- the biggest decline since July 25, bringing the decline for the year to 19%, the report notes.

Amazon.com is expected to introduce a new version of the Kindle Fire this week.

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ABC Buys Family Soap from Jake Kasdan and Kate Robin

ABC is moving forward with a project from director-producer Jake Kasdan and playwright-screenwriter Kate Robin (“Six Feet Under”), reports Deadline.com.

ABC has given a script commitment plus significant penalty to the project, a family soap. The project, from 20th Century Fox TV, is about the aftermath of the disappearance of a successful woman in New York City, the piece notes. Both Robin and Kasdan will executive produce, with Robin writing the script.

On the pairing of Kasdan and Robin, Deadline notes: “This is the duo’s third consecutive collaboration. The two first worked together on the HBO comedy pilot ‘Spring/Fall’ starring Tea Leoni and Hope Davis, which Robin wrote and Kasdan directed. Then they teamed for a drama project about the female secret service agents who work on the protective detail of the first lady, which sold to Fox with penalty last season, also through 20th TV.”

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Spy Drama in the Works at NBC, From 'Justified' Producer

"Justified" executive producer Graham Yost is developing a spy drama for NBC, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The hourlong drama focuses on a female spy and is set in 1970s Los Angeles. Called "L.A. Woman," the drama has received a script order form the network, which Yost will write and executive produce.

Yost previously worked at NBC when he served as executive producer on the 2007 crime drama "Raines," which starred Jeff Goldblum. He also created "Boomtown,' which aired for two seasons on NBC.

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Writers on 'Frasier,' 'Party Down' and 'Up All Night' Get Script Orders from ABC

Writers from "Frasier," "Party Down" and "Up All Night" have received script orders from ABC, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Peter Huyk of "Frasier" received a script order for his project about a family that moves from New York City to a small California town to seek a simpler life. The new town, however, turns out to be more complicated than the big city, the story says.

Erica Rivinoja of "Up All Night" sold a comedy about a Mormon family that moves to Las Vegas.

John Enbom of "Party Down" received a script order for "You're Doing It Wrong," which focuses on two parents who realize their parenting skills are far below those of their compatriots.

All three writers will also executive produce their projects, which are being produced by ABC Studios, the piece reports.

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MTV Juggles Schedule for Video Music Awards

Citing President Obama's scheduled speech at the Democratic National Convention, MTV has shifted the start time for its annual Video Music Awards so that the two won't conflict, reports the Associated Press.

The MTV show will air Thursday, the same night that Obama will accept the Democratic nomination for another presidential term. MTV will start the VMAs telecast one hour earlier than previously planned, the story says.

The show will run from 8-10 p.m. ET, while the president is slated to speak at the convention after 10 p.m. ET.

Last year's VMAs were watched by 12.4 million people.

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'Beverly Hills Cop' TV Series Lands at One of the Major Broadcast Nets

Eddie Murphy has found a buyer for his “Beverly Hills Cop” TV series, ending a battle for the show among a number of networks. Nellie Andreeva reports on Deadline.com that the project has landed at CBS, which gave the show a pilot production commitment.

The project is an offshoot of the movie franchise that stars Murphy, with “The Shield” creator Shawn Ryan on board as an executive producer and Sony TV producing.

Andreeva writes: “Ryan will serve as showrunner on the potential series, a sequel to the three movies, which chronicled the exploits of wise-cracking Detroit detective Axel Foley (Murphy) in Los Angeles. The proposed series has a similar fish-out-of-water setup and centers on Axel Foley’s blue-collar police officer son, Aaron, who helps take down the criminal elements of the rich and famous in Beverly Hills, while trying to escape the shadow of his larger than life father.”

Murphy is set to appear in the pilot as Axel Foley, and may become a recurring character if the project is picked up for a series. Ryan will write the script for the pilot.

“Murphy had been trying to get a ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ series about Axel’s son off the ground for about a year, after plans for a fourth movie were scrapped,” Andreeva notes. “He took the premise to his agency WME, which paired him with fellow client Ryan. Because of Ryan’s overall deal at Sony TV, the project was set up there after lengthy and complicated deal-making with Paramount Pictures, which produced the movies and will own a piece of the potential series.”

The show was pitched last week to the Big 4 broadcast nets, triggering what the story describes as “a very competitive situation.” All four networks had been expected to show interest, as we reported last week.

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Bidders Lining Up for a Hot TV Commodity -- With Billions at Stake

Even in a period when television’s viewership numbers are often seen as slipping, one hot commodity is on the market that has bidders ready to shell out billions. The commodity is Major League Baseball.

Sports Business Journal reports that Fox was in around-the-clock talks with MLB last week in an effort to retain its rights package -- on the heels of news that a deal worth almost $6 billion was just reached between MLB and ESPN.

“Last Monday, Fox Sports’ top executives -- co-presidents Randy Freer and Eric Shanks and executive vice president Larry Jones -- were in the midst of wall-to-wall meetings in New York City to try to retain a package with the league, with whom it has had a relationship since 1996,” the story reports. “Fox acted aggressively and told MLB that it wanted to maintain its current deal, which includes the World Series, one league championship series and the All-Star Game.”

In a new twist, MLB told networks that it is considering combining the existing packages held by Fox and Turner. Fox countered with a proposal hinting at its own grand scheme for baseball.

“Fox’s new offer included Turner’s MLB package, which includes the rest of the playoffs,” the story reports. “Instead of putting those games on Fox’s broadcast channel, it said it wanted to place those games on its planned all-sports channel, which it is calling Fox Sports 1, sources said.”

Meanwhile, sources indicated that top execs for Turner Sports have been working with MLB in the hopes of not only maintaining the Turner package, but also picking up the Fox programming. Sources close to the Fox negotiations, meanwhile, said the network’s initial offer fell short.

“The company was following ESPN, which set the market when it agreed to double the price of its package,” the report says. “That means that Fox would have to approach an average of $800 million a year for two available packages. Fox now pays $257.1 million for its package, while Turner pays $148.6 million for its package.

“Fox executives flew back to Los Angeles without a deal late last week. It was unclear whether Fox would be able to reach a deal.”

What about Turner’s chances? “Turner executives discussed a structure that looks a lot like its March Madness partnership with CBS,” the story reports. “Turner has told MLB that it would put baseball’s biggest events, like the All-Star Game, the World Series and some league championship series games, on CBS. The remaining programming would go to TBS. This would return CBS to covering baseball for the first time since 1993. Over the past couple of months CBS Sports executives have reached out to MLB about their interest in the package and desire to carry the World Series and All-Star Game on their broadcast network.”

Another player is MLB’s own MLB Network, while NBC Sports is also in the picture and potentially ready to bid on the full package.

MLB is reportedly weighing its options, with nothing yet decided.

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OWN Beefs Up Its Slate of Talk Shows

Oprah Winfrey’s OWN cable network, which has been reinventing itself in an effort to boost viewer numbers, is sticking close to Winfrey’s talk show roots for its latest programming move. The network announced that it has acquired exclusive cable rights to two talk staples: “Rachael Ray” and “The Nate Berkus Show.”

The network picked up “Rachael” from CBS Television Distribution and “Berkus” from Winfrey’s Harpo Studios.

The shows will fill a four-hour daytime programming block starting Monday, Sept. 10. “Rachael Ray” will air back-to-back episodes from 9-11 a.m. ET/PT daily, followed by back-to-back episodes of “Nate Berkus” from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. ET/PT.

Click here to read the OWN press release announcing the acquisition.

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Investor Group Acquires Dick Clark Productions

An investor group that has been in talks to acquire Dick Clark Productions made the announcement today that the parties have reached a definitive agreement, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The group is led by Guggenheim Partners, which we reported last week to be in exclusive negotiations for the purchase. Also a part of the group are Mandalay Entertainment and Mosaic Media Investment Partners. The group is acquiring DCP from RedZone Capital Management.

The deal still needs regulatory approval, but is expected to go through without much trouble.

“Guggenheim, a diversified financial services company based in Chicago and New York, is the primary financier behind the $2.15 billion purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers that was announced this year,” THR notes. “The company manages more than $160 billion in assets and is a co-owner of Prometheus Global Media, owner of The Hollywood Reporter.”

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but sources cited in the report indicated that the price would be about 10% higher than the $350 million that DCP was hoping to obtain, or about $385 million.

The report notes: “Independent TV producer Dick Clark has a content portfolio that includes the Golden Globe Awards, the American Music Awards, ‘New Year’s Rockin’ Eve’ and ‘So You Think You Can Dance.’”

The group described itself as consisting of "experienced, long-term investors with a deep understanding of the media and entertainment industry and a history of collaboration with each other."

Peter Guber is chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, while Allen Shapiro is managing partner of Mosaic Media Investment Partners.

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Summer Ratings Doldrums: NBC Series Hits Historic Low

NBC finished in fifth place Monday night among the broadcast networks, as the summer ratings doldrums continued across the board during prime time on Labor Day -- hitting the Peacock Network especially hard, according to Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the two-hour season finale of NBC’s summer reality entry “Stars Earn Stripes” managed only a 0.9 in the key 18-49 demo, the show’s worst number ever. The program was followed at 10 p.m. by “Grimm,” which fell to a season-low 1.4, down 13% from a 1.6 a week earlier.

With CBS airing all repeats, Fox was the top-rated broadcast net, behind a 1.8 average rating in 18-49 for “Hotel Hell” at 8 p.m. and a 1.7 for a second episode of the show at 9 p.m.

ABC managed a 1.4 average in the 18-49 demo for its two-hour “Bachelor Pad,” with a low-rated “Castle” repeat (0.6 average) following at 10 p.m.

For prime time overall, Fox averaged a 1.7 in 18-49 to lead the way, followed by Univision with a 1.4, CBS with a 1.3, and ABC and NBC both at 1.1. CBS won total viewers with 4.6 million, ahead of Fox’s 4.4 million, ABC’s 4.1 million, Univision’s 3.5 million and NBC’s 3.4 million.

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FX Unveils Fall 2012 Schedule

FX has taken the wraps off its schedule for fall 2012, with season premieres getting under way Sept. 11. “Sons of Anarchy” will get the ball rolling, with its season five premiere set for Sept. 11 at 10 p.m.

Also bowing that week is “The Ultimate Fighter Fridays,” premiering Sept. 14 at 9 p.m.

Debuting in October will be “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “The League,” “BrandX with Russell Brand” and “American Horror Story: Asylum.”

Here’s the schedule of premieres for the cable channel’s original series:

Sept. 11

10 PM ET/PT
Sons of Anarchy

Sept. 14

9 PM ET/PT
The Ultimate Fighter Fridays

Oct. 11

10 PM ET/PT
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
10:30 PM ET/PT
The League
11 PM ET/PT
BrandX with Russell Brand

Oct. 17

10 PM ET/PT
American Horror Story: Asylum

Click here to see the full press release from FX.

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Report: With Ratings Problems, Comcast's NBC Considers Cuts at 'Today' Show to Keep Up Show's Profit Margins

"Staffers at NBC’s struggling 'Today' show are bracing for possible cutbacks and layoffs, and wondering whether Matt Lauer will give up any of his $25 million annual salary to save jobs there, sources tell Page Six," reports the New York Post.

The story says, "[S]ources tell Page Six that NBC parent Comcast is looking at 'Today' with a close eye on the bottom line amid its ratings woes."

The story adds, "[T]he show has been losing ground to arch-rival 'Good Morning America.' A source told us, 'Comcast has been looking at every one of its shows. The ‘Today’ staff has been warned that cuts could be coming, and the question there is, if they start dumping people, will Matt Lauer take a cut the way Jay Leno did?'

"Another source said, 'It will be the little people who go first -- the makeup people, writers, but these people have families, and it will put pressure on Matt to do the right thing.' ”

The report continues, "A rep for 'Today' insisted, 'There will be absolutely no staff cuts at the "Today" show.' "

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'E! News' Replaces Ryan Seacrest

"E! News" has found a permanent replacement for Ryan Seacrest, after a period in which Seacrest’s increasing media profile and wide-ranging entertainment activities saw his role on the show diminish, Deadline.com reports.

The new “E! News” co-anchor is "106 & Park" co-host Terrence Jenkins, the story reports.

Jenkins will join Giuliana Rancic starting Nov. 12 as co-anchor of the show. Jenkins, who previously went by the name Terrence J, will also handle reporting duties and personality profiles, the story notes.

Seacrest has been a co-host on the show since 2006, but in recent times he has appeared only occasionally as one of the show’s hosts. His time on “E! News” has been particularly limited since April, when he inked a deal that expanded his presence on NBCUniversal platforms.

Seacrest -- who is part of NBC’s “Today” show, the network's Olympics coverage and its election coverage, among other roles -- has been described as television’s “new Dick Clark” because of his growing media empire, as previously reported.

Jason Kennedy and Catt Sadler were recently named co-anchors of “E! News Weekend.”

Said Cyndi McClellan, president of Network Strategy and “E! News” for E!: “Having Giuliana and Terrence for the weeknight program, and Jason and Catt for weekends, gives us a quartet of skilled, popular broadcast journalists and will give viewers a fun, fresh look at pop culture news.”

terrence-jenkins.jpgTerrence Jenkins

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Wildest Story of the Day: TV Show That's Repeated at 3 in the Morning Draws More Than Twice the Number of Viewers Who Watch It at 6 O'Clock in the Evening. Check Out the Unique Explanation as to Why This Happens

One show is doing better in its rebroadcast during the wee hours than during its live evening telecast, the New York Post reports.

The CNBC show "Mad Money," which features former hedge fund manager Jim Cramer, has developed a following in the early-morning hours, with the 3 a.m. NBC repeat of the show getting more viewers than its live CNBC broadcast at 6 p.m., the story reports.

The reason? "Our completely uninformed sources speculate that Wall Street traders are probably crawling home from clubbing at that hour and, while checking their computers for the latest on the Asian markets, have Cramer on the TV for background noise," according to the Post.

Since starting a 3 a.m. airing on NBC in March, the show has on average drawn about 400,000 viewers for the pre-dawn timeslot. By comparison, the show's 6 p.m. broadcast on CNBC draws only 187,000 viewers.

“It may show the staying power of a broadcast network versus a cable network. I’m surprised, but it makes you wonder how many people have fallen asleep with the TV on," said David Scardino, a programming analyst at advertising agency RPA, according to the story.

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Summer Box Office Marked by String of Flops, With Attendance Sinking to Lowest Level in Almost 20 Years -- Labor Day Weekend Sees One Movie Earn the Dubious Distinction of Lowest Opening of All Time for a Movie in Wide Release

Despite a few key hits at the box office during the summer of 2012, the season wrapped up as a disappointment for the movie industry, with box office receipts down about 3% from last year and attendance down about 4%, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The period from May to Labor Day, which marked the end of the summer season, saw receipts of $4.3 billion -- off 3% from the comparable period in 2011, the story reports. Attendance was 533 million, the lowest number in almost 20 years, the story notes.

“Big-budget spectacles such as ‘Battleship,’ the Tom Cruise-led musical ‘Rock of Ages’ and the oddball historical horror-action movie ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ joined the remake of the sci-fi thriller ‘Total Recall,’ the sequel ‘The Expendables 2’ and the reboot ‘The Bourne Legacy’ in the heap of misfires,” the Times reports.

Also among the lowlights was the opening over Labor Day weekend of the toddler-oriented movie “The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure,” which took in a less-than-whopping $445,089 for the three days -- “the lowest opening ever for a movie in wide release,” the report notes.

"Oogieloves," from toy mogul Kenn Viselman, was expected to end Monday with $601,545, leaving it with a feeble per-theater average of $278.

The flops during summer 2012 overshadowed the hits -- even though the season did have some big ones.

The Times reports: “In addition to ‘Avengers,’ which has grossed $620 million domestically and is still earning, Christopher Nolan's grim farewell to Gotham City, ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ has so far earned $433 million, while another costumed crime-fighter, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man,’ has made $260 million. The surprise hit comedy ‘Ted,’ starring Mark Wahlberg and a foul-mouthed CG-animated bear, brought in $216 million. (A total of 11 pictures grossed more than $100 million this summer, compared with 15 in summer 2011.)”

The downward trend was evident early in the summer. “Box-office totals for the four-day Memorial Day weekend were off 31% from the same period a year earlier,” the Times reports. "’Men in Black 3’ drove the weekend with a respectable $70 million, but its box-office numbers couldn't compete with the 2011 Memorial Day totals driven by ‘The Hangover 2’ and ‘Kung Fu Panda 2.’"

Among the explanations experts are offering for the downtrend: record viewing for the Olympics on TV, and the July 20 massacre at a Colorado theater showing “The Dark Knight Rises,” which left 12 people dead and 58 wounded. Other observers have cited the quality of the movies themselves.

Said Jeff Goldstein, executive vice president of distribution for Warner Bros.: "You can't get away from what happened in Denver. But hanging your hat on the tragedy and saying, 'That's the problem with the end of the summer at the box office' isn't right. It comes down to the content. There were real disappointments this summer that just didn't deliver."

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Petition Drive Under Way to Have the Most Beloved of TV Actresses Introduce Obama at Democratic Convention. Would She Do It? Is She Even a Democrat? Will She Be Asked?

Fans of a popular TV actress have started a petition drive to get her a new gig: introducing President Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention, reports TheWrap.com.

The actress is "Hot in Cleveland" star Betty White.

The petition argues that White would appeal to older Americans -- countering Clint Eastwood's performance at the Republican National Convention on Thursday.

"Clint Eastwood, the Republicans’ 'mystery guest' at the RNC, gave a bad name to older Americans everywhere with his absurd and awkward-to-watch introduction of Governor Romney," the petition states.

An earlier online petition involving White was a success, with the actress securing a hosting gig on "Saturday Night Live" after a 2010 online petition.

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Summer's Top-Rated New Series Gets Renewed

The show that was the highest-rated new series of the summer in the key demo of adults 18-49 has received a renewal for a second season, Deadline.com reports.

The show is Fox's “Hotel Hell,” starring celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. The reality series, which had its debut pushed back a few times, wound up with the highest-rated series premiere of the summer. It went on to rank as the season’s top new series in a number of demos, including viewers 18-34.

Along with “Hotel Hell,” in which Ramsay helps hotels improve their service, Ramsay has had his shows “MasterChef” and “Hell’s Kitchen” renewed. “MasterChef” was recently picked up for a fourth season, while “Kitchen” was renewed for two seasons back in April.

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Frank Darabont -- Who Developed 'The Walking Dead' for TV -- Comments on the Death of Michael Clarke Duncan, 54, Who Was the Oscar-Nominated Star of Darabont's 'The Green Mile'

Commenting on the death yesterday, Sept. 3, 2012, of Michael Clarke Duncan, who starred in "The Green Mile," Frank Darabont, who wrote and directed the movie, said Duncan was "one of the finest people I’ve ever had the privilege to work with or know. Michael was the gentlest of souls -- an exemplar of decency, integrity and kindness. The sadness I feel is inexpressible." Darabont's comments were reported in The Hollywood Reporter.

The Academy Award-nominated actor died Monday morning at age 54 after suffering a heart attack July 13, CNN.com reported.

Duncan died at a Los Angeles hospital, where he had remained since the heart attack, the story says. As previously reported, his girlfriend Omarosa Stallworth, known for her 2004 role on NBC's "The Apprentice," performed CPR on Duncan at the time and kept him stable until he was taken to the hospital.

The actor, who recently starred in the television series "The Finder," was known for his deep voice and 6' 5" frame, the story notes. He received an Oscar nomination for “The Green Mile” in 2000. "The Green Mile" is based on a story by Stephen King.

After digging ditches for Peoples Gas in his 20s, Duncan decided to move to Los Angeles to look for acting work, according to CNN. While working as a bodyguard, he got a role in a commercial as a drill sergeant, and other roles followed. Many of them were based on his physique, with Duncan cast as guards and bouncers, the CNN story notes.

His first big role was as Bear in 1998's "Armageddon," which also started his friendship with Bruce Willis. The two actors appeared in four films together, and Willis advocated for Duncan with "The Green Mile" director Frank Darabont, the CNN piece adds.

In "The Green Mile," Duncan portrayed John Coffey, a black man wrongly convicted of raping and murdering two white girls and who has the supernatural ability to heal. Duncan was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for the role.

michael-clarke-duncan.jpgMichael Clarke Duncan

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Former 'CSI' Star No Longer Connected to Drama Project He Helped Develop and Sell

Former "CSI" star William Petersen won’t be headed back to television as soon as expected. Petersen has apparently dropped out of the Cinemax drama pilot "Hurt People," which he was slated to star in and executive produce, Deadline.com reports.

We reported back in April that the project had landed at Cinemax, with the show expected to mark Petersen's first starring role since “CSI.”

"Petersen’s and the writer-producers’ vision for where the project should go began to diverge, leading to his decision to leave the project he helped develop and sell," Deadline reports.

The drama focuses on a hitman -- who was to be played by Petersen -- who works for the crime family that murdered his wife, the article notes.

The report notes that Petersen’s exit from the production is not yet official.

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'Arrested Development' Cast Will Include Alums of 'Happy Days,' 'Mad Men'

A veteran of the vintage sitcom “Happy Days” has joined the cast of “Arrested Development,” which also includes an alum of AMC’s “Mad Men,” TheWrap.com reports.

Henry Winkler, known for his iconic role as the Fonz on "Happy Days," will return to “Arrested” for its upcoming fourth season, the story reports. The former Fox show is being revived by Netflix.

“Mad Men” actor John Slattery will also be a part of “Arrested Development,” appearing in multiple episodes, according to reports that surfaced last month.

Winkler will reprise his role as Barry Zuckerkorn, the incompetent attorney hired by the Bluth family. The fourth season is currently in production and will air on Netflix next spring, with the season to include at least 10 episodes.

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Justin Bieber Gets a High-Powered Rival on 'X Factor' as Another Big Pop Star Joins the Show

Another big pop music star has joined Fox’s talent competition show “The X Factor,” where he will be a rival to Justin Bieber, TMZ.com reports.

The latest big name to join the show is Marc Anthony, who, like Bieber, will serve as a celebrity mentor. Anthony will be a part of the team led by Simon Cowell, while Bieber will be part of L.A. Reid’s team.

The show will have four mentors in all, one for each judge on the show. Bieber has sold 15 million albums, while Anthony has sold 12 million and has two Grammy Awards, the piece adds.

Bieber joined the show last week, as we reported previously.

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Are You Ready for a 7-Foot TV Screen That Blows Away Hi-Def? It's on the Way, Along With a Hefty Price Tag -- and One Other Big Problem

The latest in television technology will be ready for retail later this year, with a screen measuring about 7 feet wide and a price tag of at least $15,000, reports the New York Post.

The new technology is an innovation called 4K TV, which is said to be four times as detailed as the current high-definition resolution, according to the story. Sony has announced that it will start selling the first 4K sets later this year.

One key obstacle remains: No television shows or DVDs have yet been made for the technology. According to an interview with HBO's chief technology officer Robert Zitter, the TV industry would have to build a new production and distribution infrastructure to take advantage of 4K, reports DigitalArts.

"That makes us look at 4K somewhat skeptically. From my perspective, I have looked at 4K and we are prepared to, if it really comes to pass, maybe offer it on an on-demand basis," Zitter said, according to the story.

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A New Take on 'Mister Rogers' Comes to PBS

Since Fred Rogers died almost a decade ago the children's television market has grown increasingly crowded, but PBS is ready to unveil a new variation on the beloved "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" aimed at young kids, reports Elizabeth Jensen in The New York Times.

The new show is called "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" and targets youngsters 2 to 4 years old, a smaller segment than originally targeted by Rogers, the story notes.

Another big difference is that the neighborhood will now be animated. The show followw the children of Rogers' puppet characters such as Daniel Striped Tiger. Both programs share key elements, such as talking about feelings and difficult life moments, Jensen writes.

"The death of a goldfish was not a discussion of the alphabet. It was a discussion of life. It was social and emotional, not cognitive based," said Kevin Morrison, chief operating officer of the Fred Rogers Company and the program's co-executive producer.

Each episode of "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" will include two stories that are tied together thematically and feature 4-year-old Daniel Tiger. The themes will focus on life issues such as waiting, anxiety and sharing, the piece notes.

“We started out with a clean sheet of paper,” Morrison said. “Nothing was off the table except having some guy in a sweater pretending to be Mr. Rogers. Fred was a unique character and cannot be replaced.”

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How Are We Going To Find Our Way To San Jose? Lyricist Hal David, Partner with Burt Bacharach of Many Hit Songs, Dead at 91. Wrote the Words to the Wedding Classic 'Close to You'

"Hal David, the Oscar- and Grammy-winning lyricist who in the 1960s and ’70s gave pop music vernacular the questions 'What’s It All About?,' 'What’s New, Pussycat?,' 'Do You Know the Way to San Jose?' and 'What Do You Get When You Fall in Love?,' died on Saturday in Los Angeles," reports The New York Times. He was 91.

The obituary continues, "The cause was a stroke, according to his wife, Eunice, who said he died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center."

While David was the wordsmith, his longtime songwriting partner, composer Burt Bacharach--who is 83--usually wrote the music.

"Mr. David, whose lyrics could be anguished pleas, wistful yearnings, sexy mash notes or wry musings and sometimes all four in the same song, was best known for the long strand of hits he and the composer Burt Bacharach wrote for Dionne Warwick," writes The Times.

The Times adds, "Mr. David’s words also found fertile ground on Broadway, in the hit musical “Promises, Promises”; in the movies, in the Oscar-winning song 'Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head' from 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'; and at weddings via the classic first-dance song '(They Long to Be) Close to You.' "

The story also notes, "Though Mr. Bacharach had the higher profile, Ms. Warwick has said that Mr. David was “the more stabilizing force” of the team and the one “who really got things done for us.”

"Earlier this year, Mr. David and Mr. Bacharach received the fourth Gershwin Prize from the Library of Congress," The Times says.

Bacharach, Warwick and Hal David.bmp

Burt Bacharach (left), Dionne Warwick, and Hal David

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