October 2012

Fox in the Henhouse Alert: Carl Icahn Has Acquired 10% of Netflix

"Billionaire Carl Icahn acquired almost 10 percent of Netflix, operator of the largest online video streaming service, and is considering ways to maximize value," reports Bloomberg.

The story continues, "The shares rose the most since January. Icahn said in a filing today he accumulated 5.54 million shares of...Netflix, including options, and that he may seek talks. The company may have 'strategic value' for larger concerns, he said. Joris Evers, a Netflix spokesman, said the company had no immediate comment."

"Icahn, who buys stakes in companies he considers to be underperforming and then pushes for change, has made several large bets on media and entertainment stocks," the story notes.

The article adds, " 'I believe that there is going to be great consolidation between Netflix and, everybody’s read about it, Amazon or Microsoft or Verizon or Google, there are so many possible combinations,' Icahn said on Bloomberg Television.

"Netflix rose 14 percent to $79.24 at the close in New York to mark the biggest gain since January. The stock was unchanged for the year before today."

more »

'Anger Management,' Distributed by Debmar-Mercury, Will Be on Fox Stations in Syndie Deal

"Anger Management," the FX sitcom starring Charlie Sheen, will be seen on Fox stations in a syndie deal between Fox and show distributor Debmar-Mercury, Fox Television Stations and Debmar-Mercury have announced.

Here are the Fox stations -- and their markets -- that will air the show: WNYW/WWOR in New York; KTTV/KCOP in Los Angeles; WFLD/WPWR iin Chicago; KDFW/KDFI in Dallas; WTTG/WDCA in Washington, D.C.;  KRIV/KTXH in Houston;  KSAZ/KUTP in Phoenix; KMSP/WFTC in Minneapolis and WOFL/WRBW in Orlando.

Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein, the co-presidents of Debmar-Mercury, said in a statement, "We are thrilled to have Fox as our core station group for 'Anger Management' as we begin rolling it out nationally. Fox is acquiring today's most valuable sitcoms, and a broad-based, male-driven sitcom like 'Anger Management' will play perfectly with both 'Big Bang Theory' and 'Modern Family' on Fox stations in major markets. 'Anger Management' achieved record-breaking ratings on FX and we believe it will perform extremely well in off-network syndication."

A number of Fox stations also air '"The 'Wendy Williams Show" from Debmar-Mercury.

Said Frank Cicha, Fox Television Stations' senior vice president of programming, in a statement, "Typical wisdom says off-cable shows aren't right for general syndication, but that's way too narrow-minded for today's reality. When a program produces these ratings, regardless of the platform, you have to take it seriously. We did, and we expect 'Anger Management' to be a key piece of our sitcom dominance for years to come."

"Anger Management" is produced by Lionsgate Television. In the kind of deal pioneered by Debmar-Mercury, "Anger Management" met a certain ratings threshold -- not a number that's made public -- in an initial run on FX that triggered the production of 90 episodes. 

more »

Showtime Sets Ratings Record

Sunday night's episodes of Showtime's "Homeland" and "Dexter" joined forces to hit a ratings milestone for the pay-cable network, reports TV Guide.

"Dexter" delivered 2.28 million viewers, followed by "Homeland’s" delivery of 2.07 viewers -- marking the first time that the network had two original series top 2 million viewers on the same night.

"Homeland" was up 19 percent from last week's episode, hitting its highest ratings ever. "Dexter" garnered its biggest audience since the season premiere (2.4 million viewers).

more »

ABC Shows Sink to Historic Ratings Lows

ABC had another rough night in the ratings Tuesday, coming in fifth among broadcast networks as a number of series hit historic lows in the Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “Dancing with the Stars: All Stars” managed only a 1.9 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, down from a 2.3 last week and an all-time low for the series. “Don’t Trust the B---- in Apt. 23” also hit an all-time low with a 1.2, down 29% from a 1.7 for last week’s premiere episode.

“Happy Endings” turned in another weak performance for ABC, a 1.4 average in viewers 18-49, off 22% from the premiere a week ago. And at 10 p.m. ABC’s special on Hurricane Sandy fared poorly against NBC’s storm special. ABC’s storm-themed “20/20” installment delivered a 1.3 average, well short of the 2.9 NBC scored for its NBC News special “Storm Sandy.”

The report notes that the impact of the storm, including pre-emptions and power outages, means that significant adjustments can be expected.

With NBC’s two-hour “The Voice” up 6% to a 4.6 average in 18-49, the Peacock Network was the ratings winner for the night. NBC averaged a 4.0 for prime time, well ahead of CBS (2.6 average), Fox (1.7), Univision (1.7) and ABC (1.5). CBS delivered the most total viewers, however -- 15.1 million to 10.8 million for NBC, 6.9 million for ABC, 4.1 million for Univision and 3.8 million for Fox.

CBS was paced by “NCIS” (3.4 average rating in 18-49, up 6% from a week ago), while “NCIS: LA” delivered a 2.8, even with last week, and “Vegas” inched up to a 1.7, a 6% improvement from a week ago.

Fox had its own problems, with “The Mindy Project” plunging 21% from its previous original episode to a 1.5 in the 18-49 demo. “New Girl,” meanwhile, was off 15% from last week to a 2.3. “Raising Hope” (1.7) and “Ben and Kate” (1.4) equaled last week’s numbers.

more »

'Storage Wars' Star Sues Over Porno Video

One of the stars of the A&E reality show "Storage Wars" has filed a suit in U.S. District Court in Central California against the website Is Anyone Up and its former operator Hunter Moore over fake porno photos and video allegedly portraying her, reports TheWrap.com.

Brandi Passante, who is a buyer on "Storage Wars" with her partner Jarrod Schulz, says she became aware of the website earlier this month when someone tweeted her from Is Anyone Up's Twitter account.

According to the suit, "Passante looked at the referenced website and was horrified, hurt and ashamed to see images of someone portraying her in pornographic video and associated images. Passante never made any such video, has never had any contact with Mr. Moore and did not send him sexual images. Moore fabricated the video for the purpose of trading on Passante's fame and celebrity to draw traffic to his site."

On Friday, a U.S. District Judge issued a temporary restraining order demanding that the video and pictures be removed from Moore's sites, and barred Moore and anyone associated with him from publishing them.

brandi-passante.jpgBrandi Passante

more »

'The Notebook' Author Making Inroads Into TV With Three New Dramas

Bestselling author Nicholas Sparks has made a major move into television -- following film success with “The Notebook” and "Dear John" -- with three cable drama projects in the works from his Nicholas Sparks Productions, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

At TNT, Sparks' novel "A Bend in the Road" -- the story of a sheriff dealing with a soaring tourist population in a coastal Georgia locale -- is in development with Brandon Camp ("Love Happens") writing and directing.

ABC Family is adapting "The Falls," a Romeo and Juliet variation set in modern times. "One Tree Hill" supervising producer John Norris is collaborating with Sparks on the project.

Sparks’ book "Deliverance Creek" is being set up as a possible series at Lifetime. It's a post-Civil War drama about a woman going to extraordinary lengths to protect her family. Melissa Carter ("Jane by Design") is writing the pilot.

Commenting on the new ventures, Sparks -- who says he's still really a novelist -- told the publication, “It’s a chance to venture into stories I don’t always write about.”

more »

Cable Channel Sued Over Shoplifting Show

The cable channel TruTV has been sued over a show about shoplifting, Deadline.com reports. The lawsuit was filed by aspiring show creators Harry Dunn and Steven Bloch, who say the channel lifted their idea for a show called “Hands Off the Merchandise,” which was reportedly pitched to TruTV in 2008.

In February of this year, the channel ran “Caught Red Handed,” a special about shoplifting. TruTV has a series in the works by the same title, set to premiere Nov. 6.

The story notes that “the duo, who say they came up with the idea for the show, didn’t actually engage with the network. Producers Scott Hallock and Kevin Healey, with whom Dunn and Bloch signed a collaboration agreement, did that for them. In 2009, after various meetings and ‘enthusiasm,’ as the suit puts it, on the network’s part, TruTV told Hallock and Healey that they were going to pass on the idea. The producers passed the bad news onto Bloch and Dunn.”

“Caught Red Handed” focuses on store detectives assisting stores in the battle against shoplifters.

The lawsuit states: “The idea, concept and format of the CRH Special and the CRH Series are identical to and indistinguishable from the HOTM Concept, which was created, developed and is owned in its entirety by Plaintiffs.”

The report notes: “Dunn and Bloch want the court to issue an injunction to stop ‘Caught Red Handed’ from going to air right away. The suit cites a number of counts including breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets. In their desire for a jury trial after an injunction is granted, Dunn and Bloch are seeking a full accounting from TruTV plus unnamed punitive, compensatory, and exemplary damages. They also want any profits the network may have made from the as-yet unaired series and all legal fees and ‘other and further relief as the Court deems equitable.’”

more »

Twentieth Renews Deal With '1600 Penn' Producer

20th Century Fox Television has renewed its overall deal with "1600 Penn" director and executive producer Jason Winer, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Winer, who has worked with the studio for seven years, will start his own production company, Small Dog Picture Company, as part of the multiyear agreement, the story says.

Winer will develop new projects for the studio via his new production company and stay on the midseason NBC series "1600 Penn," according to the report. The agreement will allow Winer available to direct existing pilots and episodes of current Twentieth Television programs such as "New Girl," the piece adds.

more »

Lindsay Lohan's Insensitive Storm Tweet Goes Viral

A Hurricane Sandy tweet from Lindsay Lohan has caused an uproar on Twitter, with many of those commenting on it apparently seeing it as insensitive, according to the website Hurriyet Daily News.

Lohan tweeted: "WHY is everyone in SUCH a panic about hurricane (i'm calling it Sally)..? Stop projecting negativity! Think positive and pray for peace." The message went out a few days ago.

“The web has responded strongly to Lohan's take on Sandy with 4,584 retweets and thousands of replies directed at the star,” the piece reports. “Many made fun of Lohan's statement while some just voiced bewilderment.”

The storm caused epic flooding, extensive damage and widespread power outages, resulting in at least 45 deaths, including at least 18 people in New York, the piece notes.

Some examples of the responses directed at Lohan:

"If only you'd been there during Katrina to share that insight, maybe no one would have died or been homeless."

"Taking precautions isn't negativity."

And at least one user was apparently encouraged by Lohan’s words, tweeting: "You inspire me!"

more »

'Cheers' Star Hospitalized With Chest Pains

One of the stars of the long-running NBC sitcom “Cheers” has been hospitalized with chest pains, reports the Chicago Tribune.

George Wendt, known for his role as Norm on the hit 1980s series "Cheers," checked into the hospital Sunday evening, the story reports. He's expected to make a full recovery, according to the Northlight Theatre executive director Timothy Evans.

Wendt dropped out of the theater company’s revival of "The Odd Couple" because of his health situation, the story notes.

Wendt and Tim Kazurinsky were slated to co-star as Oscar and Felix in the production. Instead, Wendt's role will be filled by another actor, Marc Grapey, with the production slated to open Nov. 9.

more »

NBC Takes the Wraps Off Its New-Look Thursday Night Comedy Lineup

NBC is taking another shot at creating what it hopes will be a successful Thursday night comedy lineup. As part of the new block, the network has scheduled the return of the critically acclaimed and fan-favorite comedy "Community" after delaying its fourth-season premiere earlier this month.

The series will return Feb. 7, reports Bill Carter in The New York Times' Media Decoder. The show will hold down a time slot on Thursdays at 8 p.m., rather than its previously scheduled Friday night time period, which Carter calls "the lost-items zone of Friday nights."

With its new time period, "Community" will replace "30 Rock," which is ending its run, and will be part of a new Thursday night block, the piece adds. A new comedy, "1600 Penn," will air at 9:30 p.m. starting Jan. 10 and "Parks and Recreation" will shift to 8:30.

In another scheduling move, "Smash," about the making of a Broadway musical, will be moved from its protection of "The Voice" and into a new time period on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. The show will return March 3 at 9 p.m. with a two-hour episode.

"Revolution" will keep its slot after "The Voice" -- at 10 p.m. Mondays -- and will return from a hiatus on March 25.

more »

'Late Show' Exec Producer on the Letterman Hurricane Episode That Almost Didn't Happen

Even without an audience -- and with all the awkward TV moments endured by a host performing in front of an empty house -- one thing CBS's “Late Show with David Letterman” can boast about is that the show went on. But the late-night staple’s Hurricane Sandy show Monday night almost didn’t happen, executive producer Rob Burnett told TV Guide.

"It was very strange for all of us to be standing there and watching the show, with all of it looking the same, except for the fact that there was no one in those seats," Burnett told the publication.

He said the show was treated as a normal taping, including having the band play to the empty theater during commercials. "There really was no reason [for the band] to do it," Burnett told the magazine, "except it created the glue of making it a show that has a certain pace and urgency to it."

Burnett added that Letterman, at the end of the taping, turned to the empty seats and thanked the “audience” for showing up. "It cracked us all up," Burnett said.

The report adds: “But this was hardly an ordinary show. Letterman read some of the night's monologue from his desk -- and without the customary laughter, he played off the silent response. Stage manager Biff Henderson, stationed outside in the rain, reminisced about past hurricanes in his native North Carolina. Cue cards were used in place of graphics for the show's Top Ten list. And guest Denzel Washington walked in wet and wearing a raincoat.

Burnett said the host was "very taken and impressed" by Washington's honoring his commitment to appear. "We weren't sure if he was going to get here, and certainly he would have had every reason to cancel," said Burnett. "But he came in [to New York] on Sunday and honored the booking."

“Burnett said the decision on whether to do a show on Monday -- something that NBC's ‘Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’ also did, while Comedy Central's ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’ and ‘The Colbert Report’ opted not to -- was debated through the weekend,” the piece reports.

Said Burnett: "Ultimately we made the decision that in times of crisis, television tends to continue. We thought, well, there will be news channels on, there will be reporters running around, we should be able to do a show. And in light of everything else that's going on, maybe it will be a nice alternative for people who have had their fill of watching reporters in slickers in the rain."

“Bringing in an audience to the show was a non-starter, however,” the report notes. Said Burnett: "We were certainly very sensitive and respectful of what was coming out of the Mayor's office, so we certainly did not want to have 500 people come to the theater.”

Here's a short clip of some of the awkwardness from Monday's show:

more »

Close Call for CBS News Crew Covering Hurricane

"CBS Evening News" anchor Scott Pelley was evacuated from his live location in New Jersey just before the location was wrecked by Hurricane Sandy, reports TVNewser.com.

Pelley was anchoring from the deck of an Allenhurst, N.J. restaurant called Mr. C's Beach Bistro when the police chief told him and his crew they needed to leave.

Soon after, the Bistro was washed into the Atlantic, the story notes. Pelley ended up broadcasting CBS's 10 p.m. special from the Allenhurst Fire Department.

more »

Oliver Stone: Hurricane Sandy Is 'Punishment' -- and It's Political

Director Oliver Stone is sounding off about Hurricane Sandy, saying the huge storm is making a commentary of sorts on the current political situation, according to The Huffington Post.

Stone’s take is that the storm sends a warning to both presidential candidates that they’re not taking the issue of climate change seriously enough.

Said Stone: "I was a little disappointed at the third debate when neither of them talked about climate control and the nature of the situation on Earth. I think there's kind of a weird statement coming right after ... this is a punishment ... Mother Nature cannot be ignored.”

Here’s a clip of Stone’s comments on the storm:

more »

'Jersey Shore' Hometown Suffers Hard Hit From Superstorm

The New Jersey town of Seaside Heights, home base for the hit MTV series “Jersey Shore,” was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, although the house shared by cast members on the reality show is still standing, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The Funtown Pier was underwater, with more than 50 feet of attractions collapsed from the storm, the piece notes. There was no word on whether the Shore Store, where Snooki and other cast members worked, survived the hurricane, the piece adds.

"Sandy destroyed Seaside -- our second home," Snooki said in a statement to MTV News. "It's devastating to see our boardwalk and favorite spots ruined. My prayers go out to everyone affected by the storm."

more »

Report: 'The Voice' Judge CeeLo Green Target of Sexual Battery Investigation

"The Voice" judge CeeLo Green is the target of a sexual battery investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department, reports TMZ.com.

Green is adamant he did nothing wrong, the story says. The investigation was sparked by a woman who filed a police report accusing Green of sexual assault.

The LAPD isn't disclosing the identity of the alleged victim, when or where the incident allegedly took place, or what the victim claims Green did, the story adds.

The police have visited a restaurant in downtown Los Angeles and questioned several employees and the manager. "Nothing ever happened there or anywhere else," Green told TMZ.

more »

Why Current TV, Which Is Up for Sale, May Have a Hard Time Luring Bids

Cable channel Current TV, which is in the process of trying to find a buyer, may have a hard time attracting big bids, the New York Post reports. The reason is simple: Its audience is really small.

The network, founded by former Vice President Al Gore in 2005, presents a progressive slant on politics and current events. The network averaged only about 35,000 viewers in the first two weeks of October, the story notes.

The network may attract bids between $200 million and $300 million, or about half the amount that the TV Guide network was searching for earlier this month. The TV Guide sale was aborted because of a lack of interest from potential buyers, the piece adds.

As previously reported, Current CEO Joel Hyatt was recently quoted as saying: “Current has been approached many times by media companies interested in acquiring our company. This year alone, we have had three inquiries. As a consequence, we thought it might be useful to engage expertise to help us evaluate our strategic options.”

The channel is reportedly in about 60 million households and receives about 12 cents per subscriber from pay-TV operators. The combination of low viewer numbers and a relatively high subscriber fee is seen as a deterrent for potential bidders.

“In general, cable and satellite-TV providers are looking to cut payments to smaller channels that aren’t particularly popular to help pay for higher sports and other programming costs,” the Post story notes.

more »

ABC Buys Comedy from 'Friends' Producer

ABC has bought a comedy from "Friends" producer Greg Malins, Sony Pictures TV and Jamie Tarses' Fanfare, reports Deadline.com.

The project, “Tribes,” went to ABC in a competitive situation, and received a script commitment plus penalty, the piece notes.

It's based on an Israeli series called "Your Family or Mine?" The Israeli show is from Keshet, the media company whose "Prisoners of War" was adapted as Showtime's "Homeland."

"Tribes" is a family comedy with each episode focusing on a different side of a couple's family.

more »

Authorities Back Gene Hackman in Altercation With Homeless Man

Police say screen legend Gene Hackman was defending himself when he allegedly smacked a homeless man Tuesday outside a restaurant in Santa Fe, N.M., TMZ.com reports.

The homeless man, identified as Bruce Becker, reportedly contacted police after the confrontation with the 82-year-old actor. But police are saying Becker approached Hackman and his wife in a threatening manner and Hackman acted in self-defense, according to the report.

TMZ reports: “We're told the incident escalated big time when Becker called Hackman's wife a ‘c**t’ -- and then Hackman dished out some street justice ... slapping Becker across the face.”

No charges have been filed in the incident, according to the report.

Hackman is a two-time Oscar winner, taking home statuettes for "The French Connection" in 1972 and "Unforgiven" in 1993.

more »

NBC Yanks Canceled Sitcom Earlier Than Planned

NBC may appear to be adding insult to injury for a recently canceled comedy series, but the latest move -- pulling it from the lineup a week earlier than scheduled -- is Hurricane Sandy’s fault.

Deadline.com reports that the network is taking the canceled freshman comedy "Animal Practice" off the air a week early, with its last episode slated to air tonight, on Halloween. The move is the result of a string of pre-emptions related to the storm, the piece reports.

"The Voice," which was impacted on Monday by Sandy, will air Thursday, pre-empting NBC's 8-10 p.m. comedy block. "30 Rock’s” episode is tied to the election, so the network didn't want to wait until after the election to air it. Instead, "30 Rock" will take "Animal Practice’s” slot tonight.

more »

May the Force Be With You: Disney Acquiring Lucasfilm, Including 'Star Wars' Franchise, for $4 Billion; Read Entire Press Release

"The Walt Disney Company has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. in a stock and cash transaction. Lucasfilm is 100% owned by Lucasfilm Chairman and Founder, George Lucas.

"Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney stock on October 26, 2012, the transaction value is $4.05 billion, with Disney paying approximately half of the consideration in cash and issuing approximately 40 million shares at closing. The final consideration will be subject to customary post-closing balance sheet adjustments."

So reads a press release issued by Disney today, Oct. 30, 2012. To read the entire release, please click here.

“This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content including 'Star Wars,' one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney’s unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value," said Bob Iger, Disney chairman and CEO, in the release.

Episode seven of the "Star Wars" movie franchise is due in 2015.

The release states, "Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of Lucasfilm, a leader in entertainment, innovation and technology, including its massively popular and 'evergreen' 'Star Wars' franchise and its operating businesses in live action film production, consumer products, animation, visual effects, and audio post production. Disney will also acquire the substantial portfolio of cutting-edge entertainment technologies that have kept audiences enthralled for many years. Lucasfilm, headquartered in San Francisco, operates under the names Lucasfilm Ltd., LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sound, and the present intent is for Lucasfilm employees to remain in their current locations."

According to the release George Lucas said, "“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see 'Star Wars' passed from one generation to the next. It’s now time for me to pass 'Star Wars' on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that 'Star Wars' could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, 'Star Wars' will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products.”


Bob Iger (left) and George Lucas

more »

Ousted Disney Chief Resurfaces With New CEO Position

Just a few months after being ousted as the chairman of Walt Disney Studios and president of Disney Channels Worldwide, Rich Ross has landed a new job as CEO of Shine America, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Ross will join Shine in January, and will succeed current Shine America CEO Carl Fennessy.

Fennessy will return to Australia in 2013 and will remain joint CEO of Shine Australia, the piece notes.

“The move marks a return to television, where Ross spent the bulk of his career before making a short-lived shift to features,” the story reports. “At Shine, he’ll oversee a collection of formats including Fox’s ‘MasterChef,’ NBC’s ‘The Biggest Loser’ and Oxygen’s upcoming ‘The Face’ as well as the company’s first scripted pilot, ‘The Bridge,’ which is set up at FX, and its first Spanish-language production ‘Minuto Para Ganar’ at MundoFox.”

Ross told the publication: "It's an incredibly exciting company that's one step ahead," adding, "I was thrilled to do what I did [at Disney], but this opportunity is brimming with optimism."

The report adds: “Of particular interest to Ross is the global nature of the company, which is pushing into scripted -- where Ross' roots lie -- and an ongoing stateside expansion. Of his desire to mine the global resources that Shine offers, both in terms of content and best practices, he added, ‘Rather than sit across the table from 17 people negotiating for the hottest format, [formats] are part of the DNA of this company.’"

Ross was forced out at Disney back in April.

more »

CNN Caught in Storm-Related Twitter Gaffe

One thing about Twitter as a news source is that it’s fast. Unfortunately, that also means that it’s not always fact-checked, and CNN fell into that trap Monday night, reports TVNewser.com.

At approximately, 9:30 p.m., the handle @CNNWeather tweeted that the floor of the New York Stock Exchange had flooded. CNN’s Chad Myers told CNN host Piers Morgan that had obtained that news item from "the National Weather Service chat bulletin board.”

CNN tweeted the news, then scurried to confirm the story. The tweet read: “BREAKING: New York Stock Exchange under 3 FEET OF WATER per an @NWSNewYorkNY report due to #Sandy”

A short time later, CNN tweeted a correction. "#NSYE officials reporting that the floor is NOT flooding at this time. This is a good thing."

more »

Apple Shakes Up Management Team, Dumps Exec Who Flubbed the Maps App

Apple announced a major management move Monday that involved two executives being let go -- including the one who oversaw the launch of the doomed Apple Maps, reports Deadline.com.

Software chief Scott Forstall and retail head John Browett were given their pink slips. Forstall, the man behind the maps as well as Siri -- the voice-enabled assistant -- was once seen as Steve Jobs' successor. However, Forstall has clashed with other members of the management team since Jobs’ death.

Eddy Cue will now oversee Siri and Maps, while Forstall will be an adviser to CEO Tim Cook until officially leaving in 2013. A replacement for Browett is being sought.

"Apple reported disappointing Q4 results last week and shares were down about 9.5% over the last month as investors wondered whether the company can continue to fly,” the report notes.

more »

'Queen Latifah Show' a Go for 2013 After Key Station Group Signs On

Queen Latifah’s syndicated daytime talk show is a go for a fall 2013 launch after landing a key station group, Nellie Andreeva reports on Deadline.com. In what the report calls a “competitive situation,” “The Queen Latifah Show” landed a premium deal with the CBS TV Stations, which will run it as a strip on the group’s 16 CBS O&O’s.

The Sony Pictures TV show is executive produced by Latifah, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. It is expected to showcase Latifah’s comedic and musical talents along with her hosting duties.

Andreeva writes: “Shortly after the dust settled on this fall’s syndicated daytime talk show launches that failed to produce a breakout hit, Sony TV began conversations with station groups about the Queen Latifah talker, garnering interest from multiples places. I hear negotiations went down to the wire with the CBS and NBC station groups. The sale comes exactly a year after Sony TV, Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere’s Flavor Unit and Will Smith and James Lassiter’s Overbrook Entertainment closed a deal to develop a daytime talk show for the Oscar-nominated actress to host. In May, Corin Nelson was tapped as executive producer.”

The deal marks a departure for the flagship CBS stations in particular in that it does not involve a program from sister company CBS TV Distribution.

The report notes: “In the three hours of daytime dedicated to syndicated product, most of the CBS O&Os carry the top daytime syndicated show, ‘Judge Judy’; the top daytime talk show, ‘Dr. Phil’; as well as a mix of ‘The Doctors’ (New York, Los Angeles), ‘Rachael Ray’ (San Francisco) and struggling freshman ‘The Jeff Probst Show’ (Chicago) in the third hour. All those shows hail from CBS TV Distribution.”

more »

Hurricane Sandy Wreaks Havoc on Monday Night Ratings

Monday night’s broadcast ratings suffered a hit from the freak storm that has been hammering parts of the East Coast, with widespread blackouts in some markets and CBS making a late decision to switch out its scheduled original programming for a lineup of mostly repeats while Fox plugged in a two-hour repeat of “X Factor.”

Meanwhile, “Monday Night Football” pre-empted programming on the CBS affiliate in San Francisco. It all added up to numbers that will be subject to plenty of adjustments, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

Based on the available data, NBC got a big performance from “The Voice,” offsetting a dip for “Revolution” to help the Peacock Network win the night in the key 18-49 demo, according to Nielsen overnights.

When the dust settled, NBC won prime time with a 4.4 average in viewers 18-49, beating ABC (2.7 average),CBS (2.2), Univision (1.6) and Fox (1.0). ABC claimed total viewers, averaging 13.8 million to 11.4 million for NBC, 7.2 million for CBS, 3.7 million for Univision and 2.7 million for Fox.

NBC’s two-hour “The Voice” delivered the night’s best number, a 5.0 in 18-49, up 16% from last week’s one-hour episode. “Revolution” dipped to a 3.1, down 6% from its previous episode.

ABC’s two-hour “Dancing with the Stars” had a 2.7 average in the 18-49 demo, up 13% from the one-hour episode last week. The network’s “Castle” also came through with a 2.7, a season high and a 35% improvement from the previous original episode.

CBS ran a news special on the storm, “Super Storm Sandy,” at 10 p.m., pulling a 2.1 in 18-49.

more »

ABC Closing In on NBC in Evening News Ratings

ABC News is touting gains against segment leader NBC in the battle for evening news ratings. For the week of Oct. 22, “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer” hit season highs in total viewers, with 7.59 million viewers, and the key news demo of adults 25-54, with 1.89 million and a 1.6 average rating/7 share, to close the gap on NBC. Numbers are based on Nielsen live+same day figures.

NBC still led, averaging 8.03 million total viewers and 2.21 million in the 25-54 demo with a 1.9 average rating/7 share. CBS came in third with 6.37 million total viewers and 1.70 million viewers 25-54 with a 1.4 average rating/5 share.

“ABC World News” narrowed the gap significantly with “NBC Nightly News” from the previous week -- by 45% in total viewers (439,000 vs. 805,000 for the week of Oct. 15) and by 30% in adults 25-54 (321,000 vs. 459,000).

ABC was up week-to-week -- by 8% in total viewers (from 7.05 million the week of Oct. 15) and by 11% in the 25-54 demo (from 1.71 million).

The Tuesday, Oct. 23, edition of “ABC World News” delivered the strongest numbers of the season in both total viewers (8.16 million) and adults 25-54 (2.09 million).

more »

Russell Brand Sued for Allegedly Hitting Pedestrian

Comedian Russell Brand was sued for allegedly hitting a pedestrian with his car earlier this year, reports TMZ.com.

Plaintiff Victor Sneed filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleging that Brand was driving "negligently" when he hit Sneed in January, the story notes. Sneed claims he was a pedestrian and suffered property damage and personal injury, and incurred hospital costs, as a result.

Sneed is suing for more than $25,000. Brand didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, according to the piece.

more »

ABC Gives Full-Season Orders to Two Series

ABC has given full-season orders to two series, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed. The shows are the freshman comedy "The Neighbors" and the sophomore drama "Scandal."

"The Neighbors," a science-fiction comedy about a couple who move into a gated community populated by aliens, has been a modest performer, the report notes. ABC added three episodes to its order for the series, which stars Jami Gertz and Lenny Venito.

Meanwhile, the political drama "Scandal," from Shonda Rhimes, will gain a full-season order of 22 hours, up from 13 episodes. The program, which stars Kerry Washington, has been a steady draw for the network, the story notes.

more »

Paul McCartney Says Yoko Ono Didn't Break Up the Beatles

In an hour-long interview with famed British interviewer David Frost, Paul McCartney says that Yoko Ono didn't break up the Beatles, reports The Guardian.

Some fans continue to blame John Lennon's widow for the band's breakup, the story notes. But McCartney tells Frost that the group was already winding down by the time Lennon got involved with Ono.

"She certainly didn't break the group up, the group was breaking up," McCartney said.

According to The New York Times, the interview will be broadcast next month by the BBC.

McCartney also credits Ono with helping Lennon stretch artistically, allowing songs such as "Imagine" to be written, The Guardian adds.

"I don't think he would have done that without Yoko, so I don't think you can blame her for anything. When Yoko came along, part of her attraction was her avant garde side, her view of things, so she showed him another way to be, which was very attractive to him," McCartney said.

McCartney is known for giving 15-minute interviews and has aimed for a measure of privacy in his personal life, the piece notes.

more »

Some Questions for the New CEO of The New York Times About the BBC Child Abuse Scandal

The incoming president and CEO of The New York Times, Mark Thompson, was previously the director general of the BBC. TVWeek Open Mic guest blogger Bill Bauman has some questions he feels Thompson needs to answer about the coverage of the child abuse scandal involving former BBC host Jimmy Savile. Please click here to read this provocative commentary.

more »

NBC Places Sitcom 'Up All Night' on Hiatus, Will Change Format

NBC has placed a comedy series on hiatus for three months, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed. The series is the modestly rated comedy "Up All Night," which will be converted to a multicamera format taped in front of a live audience, the piece reports.

The sophomore show will take a break after production of the 11th episode, which wraps next week, and will shut down to convert the program into a format similar to that of CBS's "The Big Bang Theory," the piece notes. “Up All Night” also received an order for three additional episodes.

Production will start again in February with five multi-camera episodes, with the show expected to go back on air by April or May after going off the air in December. The total number of episodes has been boosted from 13 to 16.

There's no word whether "Community," whose new season was delayed earlier this month, might take over the time slot during the hiatus.

The program stars Christina Applegate, Will Arnett and Maya Rudolph and airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.

more »

AMC Orders Another Season of Drama Series

AMC has placed an order for a third season of a drama series that recently wrapped up season two, TVLine.com reports. The series is the railroad drama "Hell on Wheels."

The period Western, which stars Anson Mount, was given 10 additional episodes, with a premiere set for 2013. The show's second season, which wrapped up in early October, averaged 2.4 million viewers.

The show is created by Joe and Tony Gayton.

more »

Upcoming Midseason Series on NBC That Was First Called 'Notorious' and Then 'Infamous' Has Yet Another New Name

An NBC show that has yet to air an episode is already on its third title, Deadline.com reports. The show is a midseason drama that, until the latest name change, was known as “Infamous.”

The program will be now called "Deception," the story reports. The series was originally called "Notorious."

The program is described as a glitzy soap, starring Meagan Good as a female detective who returns to the wealthy family that employed her mother as a maid to solve a murder.

Other cast members include Victor Garber and Katherine LaNasa.

The show doesn't have a debut date yet, the piece notes.

more »

New York TV Productions Halted Due to Hurricane Sandy

New York-based television productions have been halted by the onslaught from Hurricane Sandy, reports the New York Post.

NBC stopped production on all East Coast-based shows, including "Law & Order: SVU," "30 Rock" and "Smash." The network also canceled production on syndicated daytime talk shows that tape out of Stamford, Conn., including "Maury" and "Steve Wilkos."

Other halted productions include The CW's "Gossip Girl," ABC's "666 Park Avenue" and CBS's "Elementary.”

Two late-night shows -- David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon -- continued with taping, although "Jimmy Kimmel Live" canceled Monday's broadcast. Kimmel, whose show is based in Hollywood, is taping this week at BAM in Brooklyn.

As reported previously, Letterman and Fallon taped Monday’s shows without audiences.

more »

'Community' Creator Heads Back to TV With New Series

"Community" creator Dan Harmon, who was pushed off the NBC show earlier this year, is returning to television with an animated show on Adult Swim, reports Deadline.com.

The series is "Rick & Morty," a half-hour animated program from Harmon and Justin Roiland. The program will debut in 2014 and focus on a genius inventor and less brilliant grandson, according to the piece. The show was previously picked up to pilot in May.

Harmon also has two live-action projects in development, at CBS and Fox.

more »

'Big Love' Actress to Star in A&E Pilot

A&E has cast one of the stars of "Big Love" as the lead in its drama pilot "Those Who Kill," reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Chloe Sevigny will play a workaholic detective named Catherine in the project, which is based on a Danish series. The series comes from "The X Files" writer Glen Morgan.

Sevigny is currently appearing in FX's "American Horror Story: Asylum."

chloe-sevigny1.jpgChloe Sevigny

more »

'Sex and the City' Star Kim Cattrall Has New Show Called 'Sensitive Skin'

Kim Cattrall, one of the stars of the HBO hit "Sex and the City," has been cast in and will produce a show called "Sensitive Skin," reports Deadline.com. Cattrall will star in the Canadian project as a woman going through a midlife crisis, the piece reports.

The project received a six-episode order from Canada's Movie Central and The Movie Network.

Cattrall is set to executive produce along with Don McKellar and Bob Martin, who is writing. The program is an adaptation of a 2005 British comedy series.

The project was originally set up at HBO, with Cattrall attached to star and executive produce, the story adds. The Canadian version is searching for a U.S. network to carry the program.

Kim-Cattrall.jpgKim Cattrall

more »

Stations Improvise to Cover Massive Storm Sandy

"Local television executives like to say it's all hands on deck when breaking news such as a lethal hurricane hits, and sometimes that even means the station general manager grabbing a camera and playing photographer for a few hours."

So writes B&C's Mike Malone in his story "Stations Improvise to Cover Massive Sandy."

Malone continues: "That's what Craig Jahelka, vice president and general manager at WBOC in Salisbury, Md., did when the station needed someone to haul a camera around Monday morning, with Hurricane Sandy lurking off shore. 'At times like this,' he says, 'everyone's got to pitch in.'"

The story adds: "Covering such a giant event presents a stiff challenge for station reporters. Within the CBS family, reporters, and equipment, from as far off as Minneapolis and Dallas headed east to pitch in with owned stations in New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Boston. 'It's probably the biggest storm we've experienced in more than a generation,' said David Friend, senior VP of news at the CBS owned stations."

The article also reports: "Stations are asking viewers to pitch in with the reporting. WMDT Salisbury (Md.) has 25-30 'Weather Watchers' -- local weather aficionados around the market who contribute images and readings. When WNYW New York's crew heard about the wind-induced crane collapse in Manhattan Monday, vice president news director Dianne Doctor went to Facebook -- and promptly found a photo of the structure, posted by a friend who lives down the block from where the incident took place. The role of social media in newsgathering has increased even since Irene, says Doctor. 'It continues to explode,' she says. 'Everyone's a reporter. It makes our coverage better. The storm is so vast that it's the only effective way to cover this story.'"

more »

Fox Orders Animated Project From Jake Kasdan

Producer and director Jake Kasdan is moving into animation, selling his first animated project to Fox along with writer-producer Lew Morton, reports Deadline.com.

The project is called "Wentworth Hall," and is based on an idea by Morton, who will write the script. The show tracks misfit college students who attend a once top-notch university.

Morton is a former "Futurama" writer and producer who recently co-created the CBS comedy "Rob."

The sale is Kasdan's third this development season, after deals at ABC and NBC.

more »

NBC Not Moving Forward With Spinoff to 'The Office'

" 'Farm Update: NBC has passed on moving forward with 'The Farm' TV show. Had a blast making the pilot - onwards & upwards,' Rainn Wilson tweeted Monday [Oct. 29, 2012], reports TVGuide.com.

The article continues: "News first broke about plans for the possible spin-off, which was centered on Wilson's character Dwight and his Schrute family beet farm, back in January before it was announced that the current season of 'The Office' would be its last. Paul Lieberstein, who plays Toby on 'The Office,' left his post as showrunner of the NBC comedy to help develop 'The Farm.' "

The story adds: "Much like other spin-offs including 'Private Practice' and 'The Finder' in recent years, 'The Farm' was supposed to first launch in an episode of 'The Office' this season."

Such episodes are known as backdoor pilots.

more »

Superstorm Causes Havoc With Letterman, Fallon, Kimmel and Stewart

"David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon are doing their shows without audiences," reports the Associated Press. The article continues, "Jimmy Kimmel, visiting from his home base in sunny Hollywood, canceled a taping in Brooklyn. 'The Daily Show' and 'The Colbert Report' are taking the night off, and each of Broadway's 40 theaters will be dark through Tuesday" -- all because of the  powerful storm Sandy that was "bearing down on the East Coast."

The story adds, "Some network schedules were shaken up by the widespread power outages cutting into the available TV audience in the East."

CBS planned to air repeats instead of new episodes of its Monday comedy lineup, the article notes, adding: "A CBS News special on Sandy was to follow at 10 p.m. EDT, pre-empting "Hawaii Five-0."

The story notes: "The CW also was set to air repeats of '90201' and 'Gossip Girl.' ABC said it was sticking to its schedule of new episodes of 'Dancing with the Stars' and 'Castle.' Fox was to air a previously scheduled rerun of 'The X Factor,' which had been planned if the San Francisco-Detroit World Series ended, as it did, in four games.

"NBC did not immediately respond about the status of its Monday schedule," that article said.

more »

ABC Enlists Shonda Rhimes to Shepherd New Sci-Fi Drama

ABC has enlisted uber-successful executive producer Shonda Rhimes ("Grey's Anatomy," "Scandal") to oversee the new science-fiction thriller "MILA 2.0," Deadline.com reports.

Dave DiGilio is writing the script from the soon-to-be published book of the same name by Debra Driza.

"MILA 2.0" is the story of a young woman who learns that she's a Mobile Intel Life-like Android -- a MILA -- created in a secret U.S. government program. MILA began as an experiment in artificial intelligence, but her mother -- a scientist -- kidnaps her after she identifies that MILA has human emotions.

ABC Studios, where Rhimes’ Shondaland Productions is based, is producing the show.

more »

'The Good Wife' Co-Creator Admits Current Storyline Was a Bad Idea

One of the co-creators of CBS's award-winning drama series "The Good Wife" says he regrets a current storyline involving the character Kalinda, played by Archie Punjabi, the New York Post reports, citing an interview in TV Guide.

Robert King admits in the interview that he now thinks an S&M storyline for Kalinda was a bad idea.

“I think ... people just don’t want Kalinda to go there, which I think is a worthy response that I never thought,” King said in the interview.

The Emmy-winning actress' character -- a tough, attractive investigator for the show's signature law firm -- has been thrust into a violent, passionate and complicated love/hate storyline involving her previously unseen husband, Nick (Marc Warren). Fans have mostly responded with disapproval, the report notes.

“I think it was pushing buttons that are not really healthy buttons to push,” King said. “I thought it would come across as Kalinda was giving as good as she got, but it’s not coming across that way.”

more »

One High-Profile Daytime Talk Show Calls It Quits

One recent entry in the increasingly crowded field of daytime talk shows has decided to cut its losses and will end its run after two seasons, TheWrap.com reports.

The show is Anderson Cooper’s "Anderson Live," which will hang it up at the end of the current season. The show, distributed by Warner Bros., failed to catch on with daytime audiences.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the show said: "We are extremely proud of Anderson and the show that he and the entire production team have produced. While we made significant changes to the format, set and produced it live in its second season, the series will not be coming back for a third season in a marketplace that has become increasingly difficult to break through."

The spokeswoman added: "We will continue to deliver top-quality shows throughout next summer.”

Said Cooper: "I am very proud of the work that our terrific staff has put into launching and sustaining our show for two seasons. I am also grateful to [production company] Telepictures for giving me the opportunity, and indebted to viewers, who have responded so positively. I look forward to doing more great shows this season, and though I¹m sorry we won¹t be continuing, I have truly enjoyed it."

The show premiered in September 2011 as “Anderson,” later changing its name to “Anderson Live” as part of a format change designed to help it compete with a batch of new talk shows built around personalities including Katie Couric, Ricki Lake and Jeff Probst.

more »

Oscar Winner in Talks for ABC's 'Trophy Wife'

ABC's new comedy pilot "Trophy Wife" is negotiating to bring an Oscar-winning actress on board, Deadline.com reports. If the project lands Marcia Gay Harden -- an Oscar winner in 2001 for “Pollock” -- it will follow another key signing for the show: "West Wing" veteran Bradley Whitford.

Whitford will co-star with Malin Akerman ("Children's Hospital") in the story of an ex-party girl who winds up thrust into family life when she hooks up with Whitford's character, a guy with two ex-wives and three kids.

Harden would play Diane, Whitford’s imposing first wife who's not only a former Olympic champion but also an orthopedic surgeon. She and Whitford are the parents of 15-year-old fraternal twins.

ABC Studios is producing "Trophy Wife" from a script by Emily Halpern and Sara Haskins. Jason Moore is directing the pilot.

more »

NBC Sports Network Snags a Prize Sports Talk Show From Rival Network

NBC Sports Network has pulled off a coup by landing a popular sports talk show with roots on rivals ESPN and Fox Sports, the Detroit Free Press reports.

"The Dan Patrick Show," a sports-oriented radio/TV simulcast, is moving from Fox Sports Net to NBC Sports Network. Patrick is a former ESPN fixture.

The show originates on the radio from Premiere Radio Networks. The TV version has been produced by DirecTV Sports Group and is also carried by DirecTV’s Audience Network.

Patrick confirmed that the program has been picked up by the NBC Sports Network, according to the report.

Patrick, a Sports Emmy winner, worked for CNN in the 1980s before joining ESPN. He was at ESPN for 18 years, including anchoring “SportsCenter.”

He also currently co-hosts NBC's "Football Night in America" and is a senior writer for Sports Illustrated.

more »

NBC to Celebrate Betty White's 90th Birthday -- Again

After broadcasting a television special in honor of Emmy winner Betty White's 90th birthday last year, NBC has decided to do it all over again, reports TV Guide.

The show will not be a repeat, but a new production, the story reports. The network will present "The 2nd Annual Betty White 90th Birthday Special."

The guest stars are still being lined up, but the executive producing team of Brad Lachman, Jon Macks and Steve Ridgeway from last year’s production will be back. And Betty White, naturally.

more »

Key Renewal Announced for Syndie Staples 'Wheel,' 'Jeopardy!'

Two of the flagship shows of the syndication business will be around for a few more seasons, thanks to a key renewal that was just announced.

CBS Television Distribution's two top game shows, “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!,” were renewed through the 2015-16 season on the ABC Owned Television Stations Group, B&C reports. The announcement was made by CTD President of Sales Joe DiSalvo.

The renewal means the staples of the 7 p.m. hour will be on the air through season 33, in the case of “Wheel,” and season 32 for “Jeopardy!”

Rebecca Campbell, president of the ABC Owned Television Stations Group, said in a statement: "Our ABC-owned stations have been the local destinations for ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and ‘Jeopardy!’ for nearly 30 years. Both shows are strong perennial performers and we are thrilled to continue to offer them to our viewers and advertisers."

DiSalvo added: "The ABC O&Os have been a fantastic broadcast partner for ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and ‘Jeopardy!’ for the last few decades, and we look forward to many more years of this prosperous relationship. ‘Wheel’ and ‘Jeopardy!’ continue to hit primetime-size ratings every night and truly prove the power that syndicated programming brings to a station's lineup."

Sony recently renewed the contracts of the shows' three stars: “Wheel's” Pat Sajak and Vanna White and “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek.

more »

Veteran Sitcom Showrunner Dead in Apparent Suicide

A veteran sitcom showrunner who co-created the CBS sitcom "Yes, Dear" died Friday in an apparent suicide, reports Deadline.com. Alan Kirschenbaum was 51.

Kirschenbaum also co-created the upcoming midseason CBS comedy show "Friend Me," although he recently left the show for unknown reasons, the story notes. "Friend Me," co-created with Ajay Sahgal, received a series pickup in May.

Kirschenbaum previously co-created the CBS comedy "Yes, Dear" and also worked on "My Name Is Earl" and "Raising Hope." He was the son of comedian Freddy Roman.

He previously worked as a writer on “Dear John,” “Coach” and other shows, and created Fox’s “Down the Shore.”

alan-kirschenbaum.jpgAlan Kirschenbaum

more »

Why CNN Banned Use of the Term 'Frankenstorm'

CNN has banned the use of the term "Frankenstorm" to refer to Hurricane Sandy, reports the Los Angeles Times' ShowTracker.

CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano said in a tweet Friday, "The name 'Frankenstorm' has been coined by some meteorologists and media. We are refraining due [to] the severity of the storm."

The storm caused a number of deaths as it hit the Caribbean late last week en route to the United States. It was expected to cause extensive damage in the Northeast as it travels northward with high winds and rain toward some of the country's most populated areas.

Sandy, expected to make landfall today, is being projected as the largest storm ever to hit the East Coast of the U.S. The term “Frankenstorm” surfaced because the storm combines a number of weather elements to create a “perfect storm” scenario -- including a late summer hurricane, a high pressure ridge around Greenland to steer it west toward land, and an early winter cold front moving in from the west.

more »

Cable Network Cancels Signature Shows, Including One That Helped Make Olivia Munn a Cult Favorite

A cable network announced the decision to cancel two shows that have come to define the network for much of the past decade. The network is G4, which announced plans to wrap up “Attack of the Show” and “X-Play.”

G4 will end production on the shows at the end of this year, and will send them off with special retrospective programming.

In its announcement, the network said: “With upwards of 1,700 and 1,300 episodes, respectively, ‘Attack of the Show!’ and ‘X-Play’ defined the gamer culture for a generation of young men, and served as the launch pad for prominent personalities including Kevin Pereira, Olivia Munn, Chris Hardwick and Adam Sessler. Guests James Cameron, Ryan Reynolds, Jimmy Fallon, William Shatner, Sasha Baron Cohen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are among the notables who got their geek on. The shows also pioneered live-from-the-floor coverage of the two most important conventions in the game culture universe: San Diego Comic-Con and E3.”

The channel will showcase memorable moments from both shows during the runup to their finales. “A rotating lineup of guest co-hosts like John Barrowman, Michael Ian Black, Josh Myers, Paul Scheer, Rob Huebel and Horatio Sanz will join ‘AOTS’ hosts Candace Bailey and Sara Underwood, and ‘X-Play’ hosts Morgan Webb and Blair Herter as part of the farewell shows,” G4 announced.

“Attack of the Show” premiered March 28, 2005, with “X-Play” bowing two years earlier, April 28, 2003, when the channel was still called TechTV.

Click here to read the full press release from G4.

Olivia-Munn.jpgOlivia Munn

more »

Police Investigating Death of Actress and Rapper of Group Blaque

Authorities in Georgia are investigating the death of an Atlanta rapper and actress who was killed late Friday when she was hit by a car while standing in a roadway, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Natina Reed, 32, was a member of the R&B girl group Blaque and was known for her performance in the 2000 cheerleader movie “Bring It On.” Her death has been determined to be accidental, with the driver of the car notifying authorities soon after the collision. The incident was erroneously reported as a hit-and-run in some media reports.

Authorities in Gwinnett County were seeking information to help explain the accident, the story reports.

“Gwinnett County police would like to speak to ‘anyone who might have information about anything that could help us determine why she was there, anything to help us understand how this came together,’ said police spokesman Sgt. Rich Long,” the report says.

Long added: “As of right now, it does not appear that the driver has any fault in this event.” He noted that the driver contacted police after the accident, and said the driver was not expected to be charged. He did not identify the driver.

“Long corrected earlier reports on MTV.com and Vibe.com and in multiple Twitter postings that the death was caused by a hit-and-run driver,” the story reports. “Reed, a 32-year-old protege of the late TLC singer Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes, would have celebrated her 33rd birthday Sunday.”

The report adds: “Long said investigators were still trying to determine why Reed was in the roadway and whether she was crossing or walking alongside it. The spokesman said CPR was performed at the scene and Reed was taken to Gwinnett Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 10:59 p.m.”

The R&B group Blaque, which also includes Shamari Fears-DeVoe and Brandi Williams, along with singer Erica Pullins, had reportedly reunited and was working on a new album and a reality show.

Fears-DeVoe and Williams released a statement saying: “Natina continuously embodied the pioneering spirit of Blaque and her undeniable creativity touched the hearts of fans everywhere. Natina was a mother, sister, accomplished songwriter, artist and friend.”

The report adds: “Billboard named Blaque as the 4th Best New Artist in 1999. Lopes signed Blaque, whose hits included ‘808’ and ‘Bring It All to Me,’ to her Left Eye Productions label. Lopes was killed in 2002 in a car crash in La Ceiba, Honduras.”

Reed is survived by a 10-year-old son, Tren Brown, from a relationship with rapper Kurupt, the report notes.

natina-reed.jpgNatina Reed

more »

BBC Abuse Case Widens With Arrest of 1970s Rock Star

The BBC sexual abuse scandal widened Sunday with the arrest of a 1970s rock star in connection with the case, The New York Times reports. British police arrested Paul Gadd, who is better known as the 1970s glam rock star Gary Glitter, the story reports.

The arrest comes on the heels of accusations that he abused a teenage girl on the BBC's premises, the story adds. Gadd was released on bail late Sunday.

The sexual abuse scandal has grown since the U.K.'s ITV earlier this month broadcast a documentary about the late British television host Jimmy Savile. About 300 people have come forward to claim they were abused by Savile and others at the BBC studios.

"The case has shocked the nation and shone an intense spotlight on the BBC," the article notes. "Nagging questions remain there about why an investigation into Mr. Savile by the 'Newsnight' program was abruptly canceled last December, and how much its executives knew about serious allegations that one of its stars had engaged in widespread sexual molestation in the 1970s and 1980s."

Gary-Glitter.jpgGary Glitter

more »

Bonnie Hunt Lands Comedy Project at ABC

ABC has tapped actress Bonnie Hunt for a new comedy project, Deadline.com reports. The program, titled "compliKATEd," is about an insecure woman dealing with a complicated life, according to the report.

The project is produced by Ben Stiller's Red Hour Television, Hunt's Bob & Alice Productions and ABC Studios, the story adds. Hunt and her frequent collaborator Don Lake will executive produce, along with Stiller, Debbie Liebling and Stuart Cornfeld.

The deal marks a return to ABC for Hunt, who starred in the 2002 show "Life With Bonnie." Hunt also worked with ABC when she starred in the 2006 comedy pilot "Let Go."

more »

TNT Casts Actresses Mira Sorvino, Rebecca Romijn in New Projects

TNT has cast actresses Mira Sorvino and Rebecca Romijn in pilots, reports TheWrap.com. Sorvino, an Oscar winner for the 1995 Woody Allen film “Mighty Aphrodite,” has been cast in "Trooper," a procedural from Jerry Bruckheimer. Romijn will star in "King and Maxwell.”

In “Trooper,” Sorvino will play a recently divorced state trooper with three kids. The project previously received a pilot order from CBS, but didn't move forward.

Romijn will be featured in “King and Maxwell” as a former secret service agent who takes on investigations in Washington, D.C.

Says the article, "Jon Tenney ('The Closer') will play Maxwell's partner, Sean King. Adapted from characters created by author David Baldacci, 'King and Maxwell' is being being produced for TNT by CBS Television Studios and Shane Brennan Productions, with Shane Brennan (of 'NCIS,' 'NCIS: LA') as executive producer and Karen Spiegel ("Absolute Power") and Grant Anderson ('Third Watch') as producers.

"Baldacci serves as a consultant on the project."

mira-sorvino.jpgMira Sorvino

more »

Tribune and Cablevision Settle Dispute, Returning TV Stations to Cable Lineup

Tribune and Cablevision reached a deal late Friday night, restoring Tribune-owned stations to Cablevision's customers, reports the New York Post.

"We are pleased to have reached agreement with Tribune to return its stations to Cablevision, particularly its Fox affiliate in Connecticut, the only source of Fox programming for about 50,000 of our customers,” Cablevision said in a statement.

The dispute kept New York's WPIX and Connecticut's WTIC, among other stations, from Cablevision customers. The stations had been off the air since Aug. 17, when the two companies failed to reach terms over distribution fee increases.

Details of the agreement weren't disclosed, the story adds.

more »

NBCU Secures Exclusive Rights to English Premier League Soccer Matches

The exclusive U.S. media rights to the English Premier League were sold to NBCUniversal, which will air the league’s soccer matches on NBC, NBC Sports Network, Telemundo, mun2 and NBCSports.com, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The three-year deal, worth about $250 million, will start with the 2013-14 season, NBC said late Sunday. The price tag places the deal well above the cost of the previous deal, the story adds.

The agreement represents a win over ESPN and Fox, with the latter currently airing games on its Fox Soccer channel, the story adds.

Said Mark Lazarus, chairman of the NBC Sports Group: “The Barclays Premier League is the preeminent soccer league in the world, and is on the cusp of exponential popularity growth here in the U.S. NBCU will provide the broadest programming and promotional commitment that the league has ever experienced here in the United States. The Premier League provides NBCU with best-in-class content for 10 months of the year across our far-reaching broadcast, cable and digital platforms.”

more »

File Under 'Little Details': Rupert Murdoch Misses Steve Jobs' Death Anniversary by Three Weeks

News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch sent out a tweet Sunday commemorating the one-year passing of Steve Jobs, but there was one problem: Murdoch was off by 23 days, reports Deadline.com.

The tweet read, "Today. Is anniversary of Steve Jobs' death. We miss him, always will," according to the story. The actual anniversary of Steve Jobs' death was Oct. 5, the piece adds.

more »

HBO Finalizes Plans to Wrap Up 'Treme'

HBO unveiled how extensive its production plans are for its New Orleans-based drama series “Treme,” which is approaching its endgame, Deadline.com reports. The pay-cable network will begin production Nov. 5 on an abbreviated final season.

The final season -- the series’ fourth -- will consist of just five episodes, the story reports. HBO confirmed that the five-episode order will end the series’ run.

The story adds: “’Treme’ co-creator David Simon told a New Orleans crowd last month that ‘we are going to be back for a season 3.5. HBO, upon viewing the 10 (episodes from Season 3) 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.’”

more »

Cable Network Reportedly For Sale

A cable network that has been around for a few years is reportedly about to go up for sale. The New York Post reports that Current TV, launched in August 2005 by former Vice President Al Gore, is on the block.

CEO Joel Hyatt told the paper: “Current has been approached many times by media companies interested in acquiring our company. This year alone, we have had three inquiries. As a consequence, we thought it might be useful to engage expertise to help us evaluate our strategic options.”

A source said Current is interviewing investment banks, but has not yet launched a formal sale procedure.

“The channel started out as youth-centric and user-generated before going heavier on news and documentaries. Its latest incarnation is as a left-leaning cable news network, a la MSNBC,” the story reports. “In January 2011, it hired former ‘Countdown’ anchor Keith Olbermann, after MSNBC canceled his contract. Then in March, Current also cut Olbermann loose.”

The channel’s lineup now includes “Joy Behar: Say Anything!” and “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer,” the report notes. Current is in about 60 million households.

“It gets about 12 cents a subscriber from pay-TV operators that carry it, or around $82 million last year, according to SNL Kagan,” the report notes. “Ad revenue last year was estimated at just $16.9 million.”

more »

TCM Unearths Katharine Hepburn-Bob Hope Comedy -- Their Only Movie Together -- That's Been Out of Circulation for More Than Four Decades

A comedy feature that hasn’t been seen in more than four decades, starring Bob Hope and Katharine Hepburn, has been unearthed by TCM and will be aired next month, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The movie is the 1956 Cold War romance “The Iron Petticoat,” in which Hepburn plays a Soviet jet pilot and Hope is a U.S. Air Force officer. The film was noteworthy for being the focus of a bitter Hollywood feud.

It will premiere Thursday, Nov. 29, on Turner Classic Movies (TCM), as part of an arrangement with Hope Enterprises, which holds the rights to the movie. It will also be sold starting Nov. 19 as a limited-edition Blu-ray/DVD combo, available from TCM.

“As detailed by writer Roger Fristoe on the TCM website, ‘Iron Petticoat’ had a rocky production history, with the broadly comic Hope bringing in his own gag writers to rework the screenplay by sophisticated Oscar winner Ben Hecht (‘The Front Page,’ ‘His Girl Friday’),” THR reports.

“The original script borrowed heavily from MGM’s 1939 classic ‘Ninotchka’ (1939); in that film, written by Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett and Walter Reisch and directed by Ernst Lubitsch, a humorless Soviet agent (Greta Garbo) is seduced by Western values and a Parisian playboy (Melvyn Douglas).”

Cary Grant was lined up to play the lead, but became unavailable and Hope was brought in -- bringing with him his own ideas for the comedy.

“When the principals gathered in England for filming, Hope told Hecht he had ‘minor suggestions’ for improving his screenplay. In truth, that amounted to a complete rewrite, with a generous number of typical Hope jokes added. MGM would later grant Hecht’s request to have his name removed from the credits on the U.S. release,” THR reports.

The story adds: “At a reported cost of $275, Hecht took out a full-page advertisement in THR to address ‘My dear partner Bob Hope: This is to notify you that I have removed my name as author from our mutilated venture, “The Iron Petticoat.” Unfortunately, your other partner, Katharine Hepburn, can’t shy out of the fractured picture with me.’ He added that Hepburn’s ‘magnificent comic performance has been blowtorched out of the film.’”

Hope then took out his own full-page ad in THR, signing it “Bob (BlowTorch) Hope.”

Hope’s ad said: “My dear Ex-Partner Ben: You once wrote ‘The Front Page,’ and now you've followed it up with the back page … I am most understanding. The way things are going, you simply can’t afford to be associated with a hit. As for Kate Hepburn, I don’t think she was depressed with the preview audience rave about her performance.”

The movie was last screened in the West in 1966, the story notes. After that the negatives and all copies were handed over to Hope.

After The Iron Petticoat premiered in Europe in December 1956, its running time was trimmed for MGM’s U.S. release a month later. (TCM’s version has been remastered and restores it to the original British running time.) The movie, shot in VistaVision, remained with MGM until 1966, when it was last shown in the West and all the negatives and copies were turned over to Hope.

The movie -- the only one in which Hope and Hepburn worked together -- was a disappointment both at the box office and with critics, the report notes.

more »

ABC Drama Sinks to All-Time Low

The picture isn’t getting any brighter for an ABC drama series, which fell in the ratings Thursday night to its lowest number yet in the key demo of viewers 18-49, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the Alphabet Network’s “Last Resort” delivered a 1.3 average in 18-49, down four-tenths of a ratings point from a week earlier and the freshman show’s lowest rating yet. “Grey’s Anatomy” had a rough night too, delivering a 2.9, off a half point from a 3.4 a week ago and the drama’s lowest number of the season. ABC’s “Scandal” was up one-tenth to a 2.0.

CBS was the top network in prime time, led by “The Big Bang Theory” with a 4.8 average rating in the 18-49 demo, even with a week ago, and “Two and a Half Men” with a 3.7, down from a 4.0 last week. CBS’s “Person of Interest” was up two-tenths to a 3.0, while “Elementary” slipped one-tenth to a 2.2.

Fox’s coverage of the World Series delivered a preliminary average on 2.9 in 18-49, with significant adjustments expected due to the nature of live sports.

NBC’s numbers are also expected to be adjusted significantly, with a “Thursday Night Football” telecast impacting numbers for Minneapolis. In preliminary results, “The Office” was the network’s top show, delivering a 2.1 in viewers 18-49.

For prime time overall, CBS came in at No. 1 with a 3.1 average rating in the 18-49 demo, followed by Fox (2.9 average), ABC (2.1) and NBC (1.6). CBS also won total viewers, averaging 12.8 million to 10.2 million for Fox, 7.1 million for ABC and 4.1 million for NBC.

more »

Report: Shari Redstone Back in Succession Talk at Viacom

Viacom and CBS Corp. Chairman Sumner Redstone rekindled speculation about who will eventually take over for him in an interview published today in The Wall Street Journal.

Deadline.com reports that Redstone’s daughter, Shari Redstone, is back in the picture after being out of it for a while. The assumption had been that Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman would be the successor to Sumner Redstone, after reports of a falling out between Sumner and Shari.

“The 89-year-old Redstone told The Wall Street Journal that he’s still deciding on who will replace him to oversee his controlling interest in both companies, and that ‘my family will ultimately inherit the business,’” the piece reports.

Redstone added: “It hasn’t been decided yet who will be my successor. And Philippe knows it. ... He knows that Shari might be my successor and it’s not a competitive race between them. We have to see what happens.”

The report notes: “Shari Redstone, 58, controls 20% of National Amusements, the holding company that controls Viacom and CBS Corp, with her father holding the rest of the stake. Combined, their holdings in Viacom and CBS are worth about $3.5 billion, the paper says.”

Redstone says in the interview that Dauman is likely to become chairman of Viacom while CBS CEO Les Moonves is likely to step up to chairman of CBS Corp., but he later clarified that the boards of the two companies will “ultimately decide who becomes chairman of each company.”

“Shari Redstone runs the Redstone family’s movie theater chain business and serves as vice chair of CBS and Viacom,” Deadline reports. “She fell out of favor with her father in 2008, when he said she was leaving the Viacom board as part of an agreement he had reached to buy out her shares of Viacom and CBS -- and that she was no longer the company’s heir apparent. Shari Redstone denied such a deal existed.”

more »

NBCUniversal Chief Says NBC Is 'Still Underperforming'

NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke is not among those who are impressed with NBC’s ratings gains this fall. Speaking to analysts today during Comcast’s third-quarter earnings call, Burke said: “We’re still underperforming by my standards,” Deadline.com reports.

Burke added: “Broadcast profitability can be dramatically higher. We feel like we’re on the right path but there’s a long, long way to go.”

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts offered his own slightly more optimistic assessment: ”It’s certainly early, but I believe and hope we’re seeing the beginning of a turnaround.”

The report notes that NBC is the only one of the big four broadcast networks that is bucking the overall downward ratings trend this season.

“NBC’s Live+Same Day primetime ratings for 18- to 49-year-olds are +19% for the first four weeks of the new season, while ABC’s -11%, CBS is -18%, and Fox is -24%,” the piece reports.

Burke blames the overall downtrend at least in part on the proliferation of tablets and smartphones, saying the devices have “given people so many options for viewing that they’re viewing more [television programming] but in places that are neither measured nor monetized,” the story reports.

more »

Voice of Homer Simpson Lands on ABC Family -- Paired With 'Ab Fab' Veteran on Comedy Project

The actor who provides the voice of Homer Simpson and a number of other characters on Fox’s animated hit “The Simpsons” has a new project lined up, TVLine.com reports. Dan Castellaneta has joined the cast of the ABC Family pilot “Continuing Fred.”

Also joining the project is Mo Gaffney, a veteran of "Absolutely Fabulous."

The show’s lead character is Winifred “Fred” Harris, played by Mimi Gianopolous. Castellaneta and Gaffney will play her parents.

“His character is described as hardworking, cheap and gruff -- pretty much the opposite of the actor’s ‘Simpsons’ alter ego Homer,” the report notes. Gaffney will play Loretta, Fred’s nosy but well-meaning mom.

The multicamera sitcom project has been greenlighted for a September pilot.

Besides Homer, Castellaneta provides the voices of Grampa, Barney, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie and others on “The Simpsons.”

more »

Comedian Joins Fox News' 'O'Reilly Factor'

Fox News has hired a familiar TV personality as a contributor for its top-rated program "The O'Reilly Factor," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Comedian Adam Carolla, whose politics tend to be conservative and libertarian, will appear weekly on the show in a role described as similar to that of Dennis Miller, who also appears weekly on the show to comment on social and political issues, the story says.

Carolla’s first appearance will be Monday -- and he is likely to appear each Monday -- while Miller is scheduled for Wednesdays.

He is also likely to appear on other Fox News programs, the piece adds. Carolla has competed in reality TV shows such as "Celebrity Apprentice" and also hosts the most popular podcast in the U.S.

adam-carolla.jpgAdam Carolla

more »

Keith Olbermann -- Who Has Burned Many a Bridge During His Career -- Finds There's So Much Scorched Earth Behind Him That It Might Be Tough Finding a New Gig

Seven months after getting dismissed from Current TV, Keith Olbermann is searching for a new network, "and he’s not being too picky about it," reports Jeff Bercovici at Forbes.com.

Olbermann has reached out to cable outlets and at least one broadcast network, communicating his wish to get back on the air, the story says. He's interested in either taking over an existing show or starting a new show.

He's apparently avoiding NBCUniversal, however -- not surprising given his history with the company -- but is approaching networks owned by Viacom and AMC Networks, according to the article. Olbermann was a fixture on NBCU’s MSNBC with his show “Countdown,” and even appeared for a while on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.” But he exited his MSNBC spot under less than pleasant circumstances before surfacing briefly at Current.

"It’s too bad there’s so much scorched earth he must avoid, because the most natural home for him right now might be FX, which has lately been experimenting with liberally inflected comedy shows hosted by Russell Brand and W. Kamau Bell," Bercovici writes, adding, " But while FX may not toe the political line set by its owner, Rupert Murdoch, the News Corp. chairman has flat-out said he wouldn’t hire Olbermann again after firing him from Fox Sports in the 1990s."

keith-olbermann.jpgKeith Olbermann

more »

Sexy 'Modern Family' Star Fights Sale of Personal Photos

One of the stars of the hit ABC sitcom "Modern Family" is working to block the sale of personal photos she says were stolen, reports the New York Post's Page Six. Sofia Vergara says the pics were stolen from a BlackBerry owned by her fiance, Nick Loeb, the story reports.

The photos -- which are described as personal but not fully revealing -- went up for sale by an unknown person in Delray Beach, Fla. The pictures were apparently hacked or stolen from Loeb's phone before the pair became engaged this summer.

It's unlikely that the pictures will go public, as Vergara's management and legal team have been "aggressive" about getting them off the market, the article notes.

sofia_vergara.jpgSofia Vergara

more »

Networks Changing Exit Poll Strategy for Election Day

"A growth in early voting and tough economy for the media are forcing changes to the exit poll system that television networks and the Associated Press depend upon to deliver the story on Election Night, all with the pressure-filled backdrop of a tight presidential race," reports David Bauder, the TV writer for the Associated Press.

The story continues, "The consortium formed by ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News Channel, NBC and the AP is cutting back this year on in-person exit polls while upping the amount of telephone polling. This is to take into account more people voting before Nov. 6 and households that have abandoned land lines in favor of cell phones."

The article notes that the change "'makes it trickier,' said Joe Lenski, executive vice president of Edison Research, the company that oversees the election operation for the news organizations. 'It means there are a lot of different pieces to keep track of.'"

We urge you to click on the link above to read this article in its entirety and learn the details of what Edison Research will be doing differently for the networks on Election Day.

more »

Barbara Walters to Donald Trump: 'You're Making a Fool of Yourself'

Barbara Walters and Donald Trump are exchanging verbal salvos over Trump's latest challenge to President Obama, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

"Donald, you're making a fool of yourself. You're not hurting Obama, you're hurting Donald and that hurts me because you're a decent man. Stop it. Get off it, Donald," Walters said on Thursday's "The View," turning to the camera to give the personal message to Trump.

Trump has offered $5 million to President Obama if he releases his academic records and passport information.

Trump didn't welcome Walters' message, replying on Twitter, "Barbara, unfortunately you've missed the entire point of my announcement -- you just don't get it," the story says. He added, "@BarbaraJWalters, @theviewtv will apologize to me just like she did when I was right about @Rosie. Besides, I get great ratings on The View."

more »

You Are NOT Going to Believe What Lindsay Lohan Has Done Now ... Wait, Wait, We Can't Tell You -- Her Publicist Has Quit!

Hard to believe, but after serving the troubled starlet for about two years, "In a burst of near speechlessness, Lindsay Lohan's long-suffering publicist has quit," reports the New York Daily News.

" 'It was last night,' ex-mouthpiece Steve Honig told the Daily News Thursday. 'I really feel very firmly that it's private and I don't want to say anything.' "

Of course not. TMZ reports that Honig finally had had it with Lohan's dad, Michael. But Honig told TMZ, "Michael wishes he were that important."

Writes E! about this latest Lohan story, "Under Honig's watch, the star passed out in a hotel room, landed in the hospital after a frightening car crash, allegedly trashed her trailer, got tangled up in a jewelry heist, was reportedly banned from a hotel for unpaid bills, got arrested for an alleged hit-and-run, was embroiled in a 911-worthy spat with mom Dina Lohan, unleashed a war of words with pop Michael Lohan and, most recently, was faced with a failed intervention attempt by Michael, supposedly with the support of her handlers.

"Good luck to LiLo's next flack."

more »

One Daytime Talk Show Is Enjoying a Big Growth Spurt This Season

With all the attention on new syndicated talk shows, one returning program has quietly surged in the ratings, showing the most growth among daytime network programs, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

That show is CBS's "The Talk," which is currently drawing an average viewership of 2.294 million this season, up 17% from the same time last year.

Meanwhile, its biggest competitor, "The View," is the only network talk show with a decrease from last year, declining 9%. "The View" still dominates the segment, however, with 3.398 million viewers.

Among women 25-54, "The Talk" has gained 11% from last season; the show is even with women 18 to 49. "The View," meanwhile, is down 19% in women 25-54, and down 9% in women 18-49, the piece adds.

more »

ABC Developing Comedy Starring One of the Regulars From NBC's 'The Office'

ABC has bought a comedy project from "The Office" executive producer Greg Daniels, with one of the regulars from the NBC sitcom, Brian Baumgartner, who plays Kevin Malone on “The Office,” slated to topline the project, reports Deadline.com.

The project marks the fourth comedy show in development for next season that features an "Office" co-star, the piece notes. The others are the proposed "Office" spinoff starring Rainn Wilson (Dwight); a comedy with Angela Kinsey (Angela) at Fox; and a comedy starring Craig Robinson (Darryl) at NBC.

In the ABC project, which is still untitled, Baumgartner portrays a mid-level airline executive who wants to win at something again, the story notes. Harris Wittels, supervising producer on Daniels’ other NBC series, "Parks and Recreation," will write the script.

brian-baumgartner.jpgBrian Baumgartner

more »

'Frankenstorm' May Dampen Morning Shows' Halloween Plans

Television morning programs might find their Halloween programming plans ruined by the weather event that is being called "Frankenstorm" -- the category two storm Hurricane Sandy, reports TVNewser.com.

Both NBC’s “Today” show and ABC’s “Good Morning America” are planning outdoor Halloween-themed shows: "Today" at New York City's Rockefeller Plaza and "GMA" in Times Square.

"Even if the storm passes, it will likely be a major news story that morning affecting tens of millions of people in the Northeast. I mean, do you really want to be dressed like Snooki, talking about how thousands are without power?" the article asks.

more »

Cable Channel Puts Up Biggest Cash Prize in TV History -- but It Won't Be Easy to Cash In

A cable channel is posting what is being called the biggest cash prize in TV history -- a $10 million reward for anyone who can prove Bigfoot exists, reports EW.com's Inside TV. The offer from Spike TV is part of a new reality show, "10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty."

The one-hour show will focus on teams as they search for the legendary creature, with competitors including scientists, zoologists and Bigfoot hunters, the story says.

The rules require "irrefutable evidence" of the creature. "Somehow we think that Spike is making a pretty safe bet," the story notes.

more »

CBS Taps Actress to Fill In for Jennifer Esposito on 'Blue Bloods,' Even as Esposito Fights to Get Back on the Series

CBS has tapped another actress to fill in for Jennifer Esposito on "Blue Bloods," after Esposito was written out of the show, reports Deadline.com.

"Law & Order: Los Angeles" actress Megan Boone has been cast to play a new temporary partner for Donnie Wahlberg's character, Det. Danny Reagan, the story says. She will appear for three episodes with a series option.

As previously reported, Esposito's attorneys are trying to get her back on "Blue Bloods," with the actress saying she was written off following a collapse on the set. She blamed her issues on celiac disease, and is trying to get the network to make a special accommodation for her.

Thumbnail image for jennifer-esposito.jpgJennifer Esposito

more »

Two 'Cheers' Stars Reunite for TV Land Show

Two of the stars of the long-running hit NBC sitcom "Cheers" are reuniting in TV Land, where they will be a part of the pilot "Giant Baby," reports the New York Post.

The stars are actresses Kirstie Alley and Rhea Perlman. Alley will play Maddie Banks, a Broadway star whose long-lost son returns after his adoptive mother dies, the story notes. Perlman will portray Maddie's assistant and best friend. The actresses co-starred on "Cheers" for six seasons.

"Giant Baby" is written by Marco Pennette, who produced NBC's recently canceled comedy "Animal Practice."

more »

NBA Commissioner David Stern to Step Down

NBA Commissioner David Stern has announced that he will be stepping down, reports the Associated Press.

According to the story, "NBA Commissioner David Stern, 70, will step down on Feb. 1, 2014, 30 years after he took charge of the league. He will be replaced by Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver. The announcement came at an NBA Board of Governors meeting Thursday [Oct. 25, 2012]."

The article continues, "'I decided that things are in great shape and there's an organization in place that will ultimately be led by Adam that is totally prepared to take it to the next level,' Stern said, [adding], 'I feel great. I’m stepping down. I’m not retiring. I will enjoy watching it. Not in any official [capacity]. Comfortably away someplace else. On call to help.'”

The story notes that Stern "became commissioner on Feb. 1, 1984. He has been the NBA's longest-serving commissioner, establishing the league's brand around the world, presiding over team expansion and overseeing the establishment of the WNBA and the NBA Development League."

david stern.jpg

David Stern

more »

TV Guide Report Declares a 'New Network' to Be No. 1 --- and This One Might Surprise You

A new report says there’s a new No. 1 network in prime time -- and this one might surprise you, TV Guide reports.

“If the digital video recorder were a network -- with you, the viewer, as chief programmer -- it would rank as tops among total viewers and in the key young-adult demographics,” writes our friend Michael Schneider in TV Guide.

“For example, on Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 10 p.m., CBS's new drama ‘Vegas’ was No. 1 with adults 18-49, attracting 3.4 million viewers in that demo, followed by ABC's ‘Private Practice’ (2.5 million) and NBC's ‘Parenthood’ (2.4 million),” the piece reports. “But at that same time, 8 million viewers in the demo were watching something else on their DVRs -- which means that an imaginary "DVR Network" would actually be No. 1 in that time slot.”

DVR use is up 30% over a year ago, the story notes. “That's good news for many of your favorite TV shows, which are much more likely to survive if they have a bigger audience than first thought,” the report says. “It's also heartening to network executives, who were dismayed by this fall's initially dismal prime-time results. In fact, viewers are still there, they're just watching TV on their own schedule.”

Said CBS Senior Executive Vice President Kelly Kahl: "Our shows are really popular, and to think they suddenly lost their popularity seemed hard to believe. We started getting the delayed numbers and it made more sense."

“Kahl says that time-shifted viewing is forcing network execs to take a breath and wait a beat before making too many snap judgments,” the piece adds, noting that Fox has cited DVR viewing in its decision to stick with “Fringe.” “But in many cases, a dud's just a dud. CBS canceled ‘Made in Jersey’ after just two episodes because it was clear, DVR or no DVR, that audiences weren't interested in the show.”

more »

USA Unveils Three New Shows

USA Network has announced the addition of three new shows to its development lineup, TheWrap.com reports. All three are reality shows: "Partners In Crime," "The Cowboy Way" and "All In."

"Partners in Crime," from Peacock Productions, is a legal show about two defense attorneys, Mario Gallucci and his partner Big Lou Gelormino. "All In" is about gambling, in a way; handicapper Brandon Lang approaches families with a suitcase full of money with an invitation for them to place a series of bets. The show comes from Studio Lambert, with “South Park’s” Brian Graden and “The Osbournes’” Lois Curren to executive produce.

"The Cowboy Way" comes from Raw TV (“Gold Rush: Alaska”) and tells of the hard life on a Texas cattle ranch during a prolonged drought.

In a statement, Heather Olander, senior vice president of alternative programming, said: “Our approach to reality storytelling is to showcase a broad spectrum of life’s real characters. By partnering with these reality heavyweights, whose distinct voices have influenced the genre, we are offering audiences a new reason to engage with USA.”

more »

Cable Drama Getting Ad Prices That Rival the Most In-Demand Spots on Broadcast

A drama series on basic cable has been commanding staggering prices for ad time -- with the price likely to surge further as scatter advertisers buy in, Advertising Age reports.

The series is AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” which appears to be as highly valued among marketers as some of the most expensive programs on broadcast TV.

The zombie show has been selling for between $200,000 and $260,000, with the network seeking as much as $375,000 in the scatter market, the story reports.

“That's partly because total audiences for first-run episodes of ‘Walking Dead’ this season have come in between 9 million and 11 million people, reaching milestones normally reserved for the broadest of TV's scripted fare -- along the lines of ‘Modern Family,’ which reached 12.2 million people last week, according to Nielsen, or ‘Grey's Anatomy,’ with around 9.7 million,” the story reports.

“The reach of ‘The Walking Dead’ this season among viewers from 18 to 49 and men from 18 to 34, moreover, is proving ‘really only second to football at this point,’ said Brian Hughes, senior VP and audience analysis practice lead at Interpublic Group's Magna Global.”

Please click here to read Ad Age’s in-depth report on how “The Walking Dead” is living large in a tough ad market.

more »

World Baseball Classic to Air on MLB Network

The MLB Network announced that it has acquired the exclusive English-language rights to broadcast the World Baseball Classic, reports B&C. MLB Network will have the rights for 2013 and 2017, the next two tournaments.

The 2013 contest will be held March 2-19, 2013, featuring 28 teams from around the globe. The Classic originated in 2005 after the International Olympic Committee decided to exclude baseball from the Summer Olympics.

In a statement, MLB Network President and CEO Tony Petitti said of the acquisition: "The World Baseball Classic is the premier international baseball competition and acquiring the exclusive rights to the 2013 and 2017 tournaments continues MLB Network's goal of acquiring premium exclusive content to help grow the network and serve baseball fans."

MLB Network is promoting the event during its World Series coverage.

more »

HGTV, DIY, Food Network, Cooking Channel, Travel Channel and GAC Are All In Play. Report Says Disney and Time Warner Especially Should Be Interested

The cable networks that make up Scripps Netoworks Interactive -- HGTV, DIY, Food Network, Cooking Channel, Travel Channel and GAC -- are in play, reports Bloomberg.

According to the article, "Scripps Networks Interactive Inc., the television home of Paula Deen’s mashed potatoes, is poised to lure bids even with the stock at a record high now that the controlling family trust has disbanded."

The story continues, "The $9.5 billion corporation’s revenue outlook justifies a premium of 30 percent or more, according to Carne Capital LLC. Edward Jones & Co. said buyers will likely emerge given the end last week of the Edward W. Scripps Trust, which had 93.5 percent of the voting rights. Walt Disney Co., owner of sports network ESPN, should be drawn to Scripps Networks as a way to add more female-friendly content, said Citigroup Inc. and Macquarie Group Ltd., which also sees Time Warner  Inc. as a potential acquirer.

"Walt Disney Co. might make an offer for Scripps Networks as a way to strengthen its female-focused content, the story notes, citing analysts."

Comcast might also be intested, the story adds.

The article and analysis in it are quite long and detailed and we urge you to read the entire article at the link provided above.

more »

Huh? Healthy 40-Year-Old to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award. Seems Like a Re-Definition of the Word 'Lifetime.' Only in Hollywood, Kids, Only in Hollywood

By Chuck Ross

This seemed somewhat odd to us: A healthy 40-year-old actor-writer-director is getting a lifetime achievement award.

Here's the item, as reported by Deadine.com: "The Casting Society of America will bestow its Lifetime Achievement Award on Ben Affleck during its 28th annual Artios Awards, set for October 29 at ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York."

No explanation in the item as to why Affleck was chosen over, say, any of the many deserving candidates in Hollywood who actually have had 40 year careers, as opposed to being 40...

more »

One of the Stars of 'ER' Cast in Joss Whedon's 'S.H.I.E.L.D.' Pilot for ABC

One of the stars of "ER" has been cast in Joss Whedon's "S.H.I.E.L.D.," making her the second actor cast in the project following Clark Gregg, reports Deadline.com.

Ming-Na Wen, who played Dr. Jing-Mei "Deb" Chen on "ER," will play agent Melinda May, who is an expert pilot but suffered damage in combat, the story notes.

The character was originally called Agent Althea Rice, also known as The Cavalry, the story says.

"S.H.I.E.L.D." is being created for ABC.

more »

Actress' Attorneys Working on Getting Her Back on 'Blue Bloods'

Attorneys for Jennifer Esposito are working on getting her back on CBS' "Blue Bloods," after she was written off the show, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

As previously reported, Esposito is claiming she was written off after she collapsed on the set in August, blaming the medical condition of celiac disease. The former "Spin City" star is negotiating with CBS to find out if the network could make a special accommodation for her to allow her to work on an episodic TV show, the story says.

She's drawn support from other celiac sufferers, who are petitioning online for the actress to get her job back, the story notes. CBS and Esposito's attorney declined to comment on negotiations.

more »

Obama Gives Leno a Gift -- Big Ratings! Wednesday Night 'Tonight Show,' with Obama Guesting, Highest Rated in 2 1/2 Years

President Obama gave Jay Leno a gift last night, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012: Big ratings.

According to NBC, " 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,' which featured guest President Barack Obama, delivered the show's highest overnights for a Wednesday telecast in more than two-and-a-half years (since March 3, 2010, during Jay Leno's first week back as host of 'Tonight'), with a 4.0 rating,10 share in metered-market households."

Obama's last visit with Leno, a year ago, drew slightly higher ratings: a 4.1 with an 11 share.

more »

Oprah Co-Hosted 'GMA' This Morning, and Robin Roberts Called In -- It Was Roberts' First Live Chat Since Her Bone Marrow Operation

Oprah Winfrey co-hosted the 8 a.m. hour of ABC's "Good Morning America" this morning when Robin Roberts called in to talk to her, USA Today reports.

It was Roberts' first live chat since her bone marrow transplant, the story notes.

Says the story, " 'I'm standing in for you, Robin!' shouted Oprah, who co-hosted the 8 a.m. hour." Roberts replied, "'Usually I'm watching ['GMA'] in between my toes in bed. You got me on my feet. You got me dancing this morning,' said Roberts, who could be heard but not seen. 'It's all about being uplifted.' "

Roberts, 51, later added, accoriding to the story, "I am so incredibly blessed to be doing as well as I am. Some days I do feel like I am 35 days old and can't get my head off the pillow. But those days are becoming fewer and fewer."

Roberts also said, the story adds, " 'It would be a whole lot easier not to be so public when you're going through something like this.' But, she said, her mom told her to be of service to others. And she has heard from many family members going through similar challenges. 'It's a privilege to be a messenger.' " 

more »

Cowell Wants Carmen Electra for 'America's Got Talent'

There's a judge's chair to be filled on NBC's "America's Got Talent" since Sharon Osbourne will not be back, and executive producer Simon Cowell reportedly wants the new judge to be Carmen Electra, according to the New York Post.

A source told the newspaper that Cowell wanted Electra last year as a fourth judge, but “… the network said, ‘no.'" Cowell lobbied for "somebody younger. A girl. Someone who will not be afraid of Sharon [Osbourne] and Howard and fight for a different type of act than they would.”

Electra did fill in on "Britain's Got Talent" for Amanda Holden last February.

As for the other judges from last season, neither Howie Mandel nor Howard Stern has been confirmed for later this season, although the paper claims that Howard wants to return. The judges will not be needed for shows until February.


Carmen Electra

more »

'Scrubs' Star Zach Braff Sells Comedy to ABC

"Scrubs" star Zach Braff has sold a comedy called "Garage Bar" to ABC, where his previous sitcom ended its nine seasons on television, reports Deadline.com.

"Garage Bar" will be written, directed and executive produced by Braff, who received interest from multiple networks, the piece adds.

The project is described as having the quirky humor of Braff's 2004 film "Garden State" and will track a group of friends when one of them becomes a pop star.

more »

Steve Carell Will Executive Produce Comedy Project at Fox, with a 'Daily Show' Correspondent Writing and Possibly Starring in It

Steve Carell is executive producing a comedy project for Fox, with a reporter on the "Daily Show" taking up writing chores on the project and possibly starring in it, reports The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

"The Daily Show" correspondent Jason Jones is working with Carell and director Chris Weitz on the project, which tracks a single guy who has to take care of his sister's kids when she's called back for active duty, the story says.

Carell will executive produce through his Carousel TV studio, along with Weitz, Carousel executive Thom Hinkle and Depth of Field executive Andrew Miano, the story adds.


Jason Jones

more »

NBC Wins Bidding War for New Comedy from 'Office' Producer and Writer

NBC won a bidding war among multiple networks for a comedy project from "The Office" producer Greg Daniels, reports Deadline.com.

The comedy, written by "The Office" writer Robert Padnick, tracks four city residents who deal with the pitfalls in their romantic relationships, the story says. Daniels is set to executive produce the project, which landed at NBC with a large penalty, the piece adds.

more »

'Oprah's Next Chapter' Episode to Be Broadcast, for First Time, in 100 Countries. Why? Her Guest Is an 18-Year-Old International Pop Star

For the first time, an episode of Oprah Winfrey's "Oprah's Next Chapter," seen on OWN, will be broadcast in more than 100 countries, reports TheWrap.

It's because on the show Oprah's sole guest is pop star Justin Bieber.

The international distribution of the episode will be handled by Discovery Networks International, the story says. Parent Discovery Communications is also the co-owner -- with Winfrey -- of OWN.

The first global episode of the show will air on Nov. 25 at 9 p.m. on OWN, and then will air on Discovery's TLC, Home & Health and Real Time. Winfrey attended a Bieber concert, interviewed him about fame and his music, and then they went holiday shopping together in Chicago, the story adds.

more »

New York Times: Re-Editing of Upcoming TV Movie About the Killing of Osama Bin Laden Will Likely 'Bolster Claims' That the Film is a Political Stunt for Obama

"Thanks to the magic of editing, President Obama will have a starring role in a television drama about one of his biggest accomplishments — the killing of Osama bin Laden — that will be shown just two nights before the presidential election. But the star turn is virtually certain to bolster claims that the approximately 90-minute film amounts to a political stunt." 

This is from an article by Michael Cieply and Brian Stelter in The New York Times.

The story continues, "Set for a prime-time debut on Nov. 4 on the National Geographic Channel, and a release the next day on Netflix, the film — “SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden” — is being backed by Harvey Weinstein, a longtime Democratic contributor and one of the Obama campaign’s most vigorous backers."

The Times said it has seen the version that will be shown on the Nat Geo Channel and on Netflix, and said that "the film has been recut, using news and documentary footage to strengthen Mr. Obama’s role and provide a window into decision-making in the White House."

Both Weinstein and the movie's director denied a political motivation in the re-editing, the story says.

The article also notes, that Howard T. Owens, the president of the National Geographic Channel "said his company had insisted on removing a scene that showed Mitt Romney appearing to oppose the raid. 'We wouldn’t air this if it were propaganda,' he said."

more »

Discovery Communications Issues Statement About Lance Armstrong. The Discovery Channel was the Sponsor of the Pro Cycling Team Armstrong Was On When He Won The Tour de France Race in 2005

Discovery Communications has posted a statement today, Oct. 24, 2012, on its corporate website about Lance Armstrong. The Discovery Channel was the sponsor of the cycling team Armstrong was on when he won the Tour de France race in 2005. Discovery had taken over the sponsorship of the team after the U.S. Postal Service had been the sponsor of the team for a number of years.

Here is the statement:

Discovery Communications' Statement on Lance Armstrong

"Discovery Communications is deeply troubled by the information presented by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency concerning Lance Armstrong and his professional cycling team. The company has had no relationship with Lance Armstrong or the team since 2007, and the findings contradict everything Lance and his management team committed to the company. As a mission-driven organization, Discovery always strives for the highest level of integrity, quality and trust in everything that we do. The report by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency clearly indicates that Lance Armstrong failed to share our standard."

The statement comes 12 days after TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross asked Discovery for a comment about the US Anti-Doping Agency's report on Armstrong. At that time, on Oct. 12th, Discovery spokespersons said the company had "no comment." To read Ross's reaction to Discovery's "no comment" in a blog entry that was originally published on Oct. 18th, please click here.

more »

Report: Millions of Lakers Fans Will Miss Season Opener Unless Time Warner Cable Acts Quickly

"The first regular season Los Angeles Lakers game scheduled to air on Time Warner Cable's new SportsNet channel is just a week away and the cable company still does not have any distribution deals with other pay-TV providers in the region.If Time Warner Cable doesn't get deals done soon, millions of Lakers fans will be missing a lot of basketball."

 So reports Joe Flint at the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog.

Flint's story continues, "On Wednesday, Cox Cable, which has 1.2 million subscribers in Southern California, primarily in Orange County and San Diego, said its offer to carry SportsNet and Time Warner Cable's Spanish-language sports channel Deportes on a specialty tier along with other sports channels was rebuffed."

The article quotes a Cox statement as saying "the price for the Lakers is one of the highest wholesale prices that we have seen."

The article says that Time Warner Cable is asking "as much as $3.95 per-month, per-subscriber for the two channels."

Furthermre, the story notes, "Although Cox offered to make the two channels available on an a la carte basis, Time Warner Cable has consistently said that it wants the channels available to as many homes as possible and not sold separately."

The article also says "For Time Warner Cable, the channels are a big bet. The company acquired the rights to the Lakers in a $3-billion, 20-year deal."

Time Warner Cable had not gotten back to the Times for comment by the time the story was published, the article said, but subsequently TVWeek did get this statement from Time Warner Cable:

Time Warner Cable Sports Statement Regarding Its Regional Sports Networks

"October 24, 2012 - Los Angeles, CA - With the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Galaxy and Los Angeles Sparks, two networks and unprecedented behind-the-scenes programming, Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes are delivering tremendous value for Southern California sports fans. Any assertion that we are the highest priced regional sports outlet in the country is simply untrue; as a significant buyer of regional sports across the country, we know that there are higher priced regional sports networks, including Root Sports that we buy from DirecTV. Cox and DirecTV know that there is no regional sports network anywhere in the country that is offered on an optional tier -- that would be unprecedented. If Cox or DirecTV choose not to carry our networks, we and their customers will be very disappointed but we are confident there will be other alternatives for their customers to see this highly-anticipated Lakers season."

Time Warner Cable also has no deals for the channels with other program suppilers in southern Callifornia, such as Dish and AT&T's U-Verse.

more »

You Know It's Sweeps on ABC When Lindsay Lohan Visits 'The View' (God Help Her); Katie Couric Visits Taylor Swift; Seth MacFarlane Visits the 'Shark Tank'; and 'The Neighbors' Talk All About Alien Love in an Episode Called '50 Shades of Green'

ABC has announced its programming for the upcoming November Sweeps.Please click here to see the entire schedule.

Highlights include an appearance of Lindsay Lohan on "The View" to promote her Lifetime movie "Liz and Dick," wherein Lohan portrays Elizabeth Taylor.

Katie Couric will host an ABC sweeps special call "All Access with Katie Couric,' featuring Couric with Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, and Jason Aldean, among others.

A new series premieres on ABC during the November sweeps: "Malibu Country," starring Reba McEntire in a sitcom.

Seth MacFarlane will make a visit to "Shark Tank," and "the Neighbors" have fun with the latest pop-culture book phenom in an episode titled "50 Shades of Green," featuring alien love.

more »

Huge Child Abuse Sex Scandal Involving Beloved TV Host in the UK Could Cost BBC Boss His Job, Report Says

"The public revulsion over allegations of sex abuse by a beloved TV host and accusations of a cover up by the BBC have gripped the UK since the start of the month, and they show no signs of abating. Some are even wondering if the scandal could cost BBC boss John Entwistle his job."

So reports the BusinessInsider.

The article continues, "Entwistle appeared [on Tuesday, Oct. 23rd, 2012] before a parliamentary panel that questioned him on why a planned BBC Newsnight segment on the allegations against the late BBC star Sir Jimmy Savile had never gone to air. Entwistle and the show's producer have already had their version of the events leading to the cancellation contradicted by another BBC News show and the corporation's own internal investigation."

In a separate article, the BusinessInsider explains what the scandal is about: "Savile was one of the U.K.'s most famous and long-running television hosts, presenting the weekly music show 'Top of the Pops' for 20 years, and later his own show, 'Jim Will Fix It,' where he helped children achieve their dreams. He was well-known for his charity work — one obituary estimated he had raised over £40 million ($64 million) for charity, and given away as much as 90 percent of his own considerable wealth.

"Savile died last year at the age of 84 after almost five decades of fame, but it was only this month that allegations hit the press that he sexually abused both children and adults during the peak of his fame. British police now say that they have over 340 leads, with 12 allegations officially recorded, and that number is expected to grow.

"Some of the new allegations are incredible — that Savile was given a room at a hospital for the criminally insane where he abused patients and that his trips to children's hospitals for charities were used as a chance to abuse sick children, for example."

more »

Oprah Developing Drama Project for HBO

Oprah WInfrey is developing a drama project for HBO, reports Lacey Rose at The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed blog.

Says the story, "The untitled project centers on a wealthy academic who has become the first black president of a prestigious liberal arts college. He and his family are thrust into national headlines, forcing them to present an idyllic public façade, all while engaging in agonizing personal battles and struggling with dark obsessions."

The article continues, "Playwright Thomas Bradshaw is on board to write and co-executive produce the hourlong effort, with Winfrey and Harpo's Kate Forte attached as executive producers." The project is under the banner of Winfrey's Harpo Films.

more »

Wow: Is This Lance Armstrong's Way of Saying 'Yep, I Doped?'

"Sometimes actions speak louder than words."

Lance Armstrong, who is a prolific user of Twitter, made a startling change to his Twitter biography yesterday, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012. So writes Chuck Schilken of the Los Angeles Times.

The article says, "As recently as Monday night, Armstrong's Twitter bio read: 'Father of 5 amazing kids, 7-time Tour de France winner, full time cancer fighter, part time triathlete.' It has since been changed to: 'Raising my five kids. Fighting Cancer. Swim, bike, run and golf whenever I can.' "

The article continues, "As you can see, the Tour de France is no longer mentioned."

On Monday Armstrong was officially stripped of all his Tour de France titles by cycling's international governing body as it ratified the sanctions imposed on Armstrong by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

So is this change in his Twitter profile --  eliminating the Tour de France titles from his own biography -- a tacit admission by Armstrong that he doped? 

The new profile appears on Twitter under @lancearmstrong, which has long been verified by Twitter as Armstrong's personal Twitter account. Armstrong has almost 10,000 total tweets to his name, the last being on Oct. 17, when he linked to the official statement put out by his charity, Livestrong, that he had stepped down as its chairman.

Armstrong also took to Twitter back on Oct. 10 to give his reaction to the devastating report about him and doping that was was released by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) that day. Armstrong tweeted then: "What am I doing tonight? Hanging with my family, unaffected, and thinking about this."

In other Armstrong news today, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, the World Anti-Doping Agency announced that "Lance Armstrong’s competition results will be erased from the record books of every event sanctioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency," according to Bloomberg.

The Bloomberg article continues, "The cyclist also will forfeit results in other events and sports that follow the code of the Montreal-based agency ..."

Among the sanctioned events from which Armstrong's participation willl be removed are the New York City Marathon; the "Boston Marathon, which he ran in 2008; Ironman triathlon performances; and a career full of cycling races," the Bloomberg article says.

“Armstrong was aware that, by choosing to not contest the [USADA} charges, the sanction would include the loss of results as a result of his doping in any sport that is a signatory to the code,” a spokesperson for the USADA told Bloomberg.

more »

Mel Karmazin -- After Complaining That He's 'Underpaid' at More Than $200 Million a Year -- on the Way Out at Sirius XM

With Sirius XM Radio preparing to be taken over by its biggest investor, Liberty Media, the company said Chief Executive Mel Karmazin will step down on Feb. 1, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

Karmazin, who will also leave Sirius XM's board, has had "public sparks" with Liberty Chairman John Malone over whether Karmazin would stay, the story points out.

Karmazin's compensation has been an issue, with his comment in April that he was "one of the most underpaid executives in the history of executive payment," to which Malone later responded, "He tells the public he’s underpaid? It’s a joke," according to the New York Post.

Karmazin has earned almost $209 million from stock sales this year, the Post notes, citing data from regulatory filings.

more »

After Generating Interest From Basic Cable, Pay Cable and Broadcast, Project Ends up at HBO

In what Deadline.com calls a "a rare case of a pitch garnering interest from broadcast, basic cable and pay cable networks," the mystery project "The Return of Daniel Shepherd" has landed at HBO.

The project is from writer David Hubbard of "Noel," and tracks the return of a son who went missing 13 years earlier. He becomes the prime suspect when his abductors are murdered, the story notes. The project is from Sony TV and One-Two Punch Productions.

Hubbard's CBS drama script "Widow Detective" went to pilot last year.

more »

Charlize Theron Developing Viking Drama at ABC

Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron has a Viking drama in development at ABC, TheWrap.com reports. The project, "The Clan," is set in medieval Scotland, when Highland clans fought each other and fended off Viking invaders, the story says.

Theron's Denver and Delilah production company is executive producing, along with ABC Studios. Terry George, the director of "Hotel Rwanda," will write and direct, as well as executive produce, the piece adds.

Theron, who won an Oscar for “Monster” in 2004, also has an updated version of the Hatfields and McCoys feud in the works at NBC.

Charlize-Theron.jpgCharlize Theron

more »

MTV to Air Live Special With President Obama

MTV will air a live 30-minute special Oct. 26 with President Barack Obama, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Obama will take questions from the audience, with viewers also submitting questions through MTV's Facebook page, the story notes.

"The move is an obvious attempt to secure the college vote, with 45 million 18-to-29-year-olds eligible to vote in this election, according to a release, making them the largest potential voting bloc in the country," the piece says.

MTV has also asked Republican hopeful Mitt Romney to sit down in a separate 30-minute special, but an agreement hasn't yet officially been announced, the story adds. Romney declined to participate in Nickelodeon's "Kids Pick the President" special Oct. 15, while Obama did appear on that program.

more »

As Streaming Growth Falls Short, Netflix Shares Take a Hit

Netflix shares took a hit Tuesday after the company reported U.S. streaming growth that fell short of analysts' projections, according to Bloomberg.

The shares fell as much as 19% in extended trading, with the company also reducing its forecast for domestic growth and forecasting larger losses due to its international expansion.

Netflix Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings said the company doesn't plan to raise prices or change strategy, and added that he believes investing in Internet video is "very smart for us," according to the story.

Some analysts aren't so sure, with Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, saying that Netflix's $5 billion in obligations to buy movies and TV shows for streaming customers isn't sustainable, the story notes.

more »

Weather Channel Overhauls Programming Lineup

The Weather Channel, following a reorganization last week, is overhauling its morning, dayside and prime-time programming, reports TVNewser.com.

The changes were announced at a company town hall meeting, the story notes.

After changing its corporate name to The Weather Company, the network will unveil a new morning lineup later this year, the story notes. The new shows will include "First Forecast" at 4 a.m., followed by "On the Radar" at 5 a.m. "Wake Up with Al" will move to a new time period, at 5:30 a.m., while a new show called "Morning Rush" will air from 7-9 a.m., the story says.

"The details on the dayside lineup are scarce, but Weather acting head of TV Sharon Scott said at the meeting that the network will be moving to a new talk show format during dayside early next year," the piece notes.

Scott said, "We need to be weather-centric but we need to compete against every other channel too," the story adds.

more »

Top 20 Shows of Fall 2012: Only One New Series Cracks the List

A month into the new television season, the most popular shows are veterans and few new series have gained much traction, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” tops the list, and the network also has the honor of the highest-ranked newcomer, the drama series “Revolution,” coming in at No. 11.

Here’s the top 20 as of four weeks into the season, ranked by results in the key demo of viewers 18-49:

1. Sunday Night Football (NBC) 7.7 rating/19 share
2. Modern Family (ABC) 5.8/15
3. The Big Bang Theory (CBS) 5.7/18
4. Sunday Night Pre-Kick (NBC) 5.6/15
5. The Voice (NBC) 5.1/13
6. Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) 5.0/13
7. NCIS (CBS) 4.5/13
7. The Family Guy (Fox) 4.5/11
9. The Voice Tuesday (NBC) 4.5/13
10. The OT (Fox) 4.4/13
11. Revolution (NBC) 4.3/11
11. Football Night in America (NBC) 4.3/12
13. Two and a Half Men (CBS) 4.1/12
13. Once Upon a Time (ABC) 4.1/10
15. 2 Broke Girls (CBS) 4.0/10
15. Glee (Fox) 4.0/11
15. The Simpsons (Fox) 4.0/10
18. The X Factor Wednesday (Fox) 3.9/11
19. How I Met Your Mother (CBS) 3.8/11
20. NCIS:Los Angeles (CBS) 3.7/10

more »

CW Developing Teen Drama Based on Mary Queen of Scots

Mary Queen of Scots is the focus of a new project at the CW, with the network buying a "fantastical reimagining" of the historical figure, reports Deadline.com.

Called "Reign," the project is described as "Game of Thrones" crossed with "Marie Antoinette," depicting the teenage Mary as she deals with intrigue at the French Court.

Mary succeeded her father, King James V of Scotland, to the throne at just 6 days old, and grew up mostly in France while Scotland was ruled by regents. At 16, she married Francis, Dauphin of France, although he died a year later, making her a widow at 18.

"Reign" is from writers and executive producers Laurie McCarthy of "CSI: Miami" and Stephanie SenGupta of "Outlaw."

more »

Final Presidential Debate Drops 12%, Drawing 59.2 Million Viewers

The final debate between President Barack Obama and Republican hopeful Mitt Romney saw ratings drop by 12% from their first debate, with 59.2 million viewers tuning in, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The first debate, on Oct. 3, drew 67.2 million viewers, while the second debate attracted 65.6 million people, the story notes.

Monday's debate had to battle competition from "Monday Night Football" on ESPN and the broadcast of Game 7 of Major League Baseball’s National League Championship Series. In the latter, the San Francisco Giants beat the St. Louis Cardinals to reach the World Series, the story adds.

more »

Report: Dr. Drew Turned Down Lindsay Lohan's Dad in Intervention Request

Dr. Drew Pinsky, the star of reality shows such as "Celebrity Rehab," turned down Lindsay Lohan's father when he requested the doctor's help in an intervention for his daughter, reports TMZ.com.

Michael Lohan told TMZ that Dr. Drew turned down the request because he was concerned that the troubled starlet would "freak" if she saw that he was involved, undercutting the mission of the intervention, the story notes. Pinsky recommended someone with a lower profile, the piece adds.

As previously reported, Michael Lohan staged the intervention on Friday, although police showed up after someone called to report trespassing, and Michael left her house soon afterward.

more »

Star of ABC's 'Alias' to Produce NBC Comedy

An actress known for her role in the ABC drama series “Alias” is getting in business with NBC for a new project. Deadline.com reports that Jennifer Garner, whose Vandalia Films signed a first-look deal with Universal TV, has sold a comedy to the Peacock Network.

The project is a semi-autobiographical comedy from writer Ellen Rapoport, with Television 360 (“Game of Thrones”) putting together the still untitled project.

“It tells the story of Allie, a nerdy, 20-something overachiever, who is befriended and taken in by two promiscuous party girls,” the story reports. “They give her the adolescence she never had, while she teaches them how to grow up. Rapoport will executive produce with Television 360′s Daniel Rappaport and Meghan Lyvers and Vandalia’s Garner and Juliana Janes.”

more »

'Katie' Puts Some Distance Between Itself and the Freshman Talk Show Pack

Katie Couric’s new syndicated daytime talk show “Katie” has solidified its ratings lead over other rookie talkers, according to national figures for the week ending Oct. 14. The show delivered a 1.9 household rating for the week and averaged 2.494 million viewers, improving 12% from the previous week for its strongest performance since its premiere week.

The Monday, Oct. 8, show -- which focused on the afterlife and featured Long Island Medium Theresa Caputo -- surged 35% to a 2.3 household rating, setting a single-day “Katie” record.

Coming in second among rookie talk shows was “Steve Harvey,” which held steady with a 1.3 household number and averaged 1.806 million viewers. “Harvey” was up 11% in women 25-54 to a 1.0 average.

“Jeff Probst” was down 13% to a 0.7 in households, with 944,000 viewers, giving back its gains from the week before and settling around its season average. “Ricki Lake” was fourth among the rookies with a 0.7, even with its previous week, and 841,000 viewers.

“Trisha,” which is cleared on mostly lower-rated independent and CW stations, equaled its best numbers so far, coming in with a 0.5 household number, up 25% from a week earlier, and averaging 659,000 viewers.

more »

Apple Unveils New iPad Mini and More Powerful iPad

Apple has taken the wraps off a number of new devices, with the centerpiece of the latest product rollout being the new iPad Mini -- a competitor for smaller tablets such as the Nexus 7 from Google and the Kindle Fire HD from Amazon, Deadline.com reports.

But the new device may have been a disappointment to tech investors, with the report noting that Apple shares fell during the company’s presentation -- and were down about 2% in mid-afternoon trading.

“Apple says the iPad Mini’s 7.9 inch screen compares to the 9.7 inch screen for its larger iPads,” the piece notes. “The company says the total screen area is 35% larger than the 7-inch screen rivals. But iPad Mini’s screen resolution is 1024 X 768 -- which means it’s not as sharp as the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD.”

The piece also notes: “The iPad Mini is 7.2 mm thick, about 25% thinner than latest iPad. It weighs .68 pounds. All of the software for the iPad will work on the Mini, unchanged. The iPad Mini has an A5 processor, FaceTime HD camera in front and 5MP iSight camera in back. Beginning November 2, models with 16 GB of storage and communicate via WiFi will sell for $329 (a higher price than the Google and Amazon competitors) with 32GB versions for $429 and 64 GB $529. Two weeks later iPad Minis with 4G cellular communications will go for $459, $559 and $659.”

Apple also announced a fourth-generation version of the iPad with a more powerful processor and a new Lightning connector. The device comes at a starting price of $499 with 16GB of storage, the piece reports.

“Execs also introduced thin and light versions of the MacBook Pro,” the report adds. “A 13-inch screen model is .75 inches thin -- 20% thinner than the current 13-inch MacBook -- and weighs 3.57 pounds, about 1 pound lighter. It has a Retina display with more than 4M pixels. Base configuration with 2.5Ghz dual-core i5 processor, 8GB RAM and 128GB of memory will go for $1,699. A model with a 15-inch screen will start at $2,199.”

Also announced was a new thin iMac, with the base model Mac Mini going for $599 and featuring a 2.5Ghz dual-core i5 processor with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive, the report notes. The unit also comes in a server edition with two 1T hard drives, selling for $999.

more »

Freshman Dramas Get Full-Season Orders From CBS

CBS has given back-nine orders to two of its freshman dramas, bringing their season orders to 22 episodes each, Deadline.com reports.

The dramas are “Elementary” and “Vegas.” “’Elementary‘s’ pickup was a no-brainer as the Sherlock Holmes reboot has been the the No. 2 new series of the season among adults 18-49 (behind NBC’s ‘Revolution’) and total viewers (behind ‘Vegas’),” the report notes. “In the most current ratings (two weeks of Live+7 and two of Live+Same Day), ‘Elementary’ has averaged 14.3 million viewers and a 3.5/10 in 18-49, improving its Thursday 10 PM time period by 17% in 18-49. In total viewers, it is even with ‘The Mentalist’s’ performance last fall.”

“Vegas,” which stars Dennis Quaid, is an older-skewing show, but it ranks as fall’s most-watched new series, the story reports. It has been averaging 14.9 million total viewers with a 2.7 average rating/8 share in viewers 18-49.

CBS has already canceled one new fall drama, “Made in Jersey.”

The fate of the new CBS comedy “Partners” remains unclear, the story notes, adding: “The half-hour has been a soft performer on Monday though it stabilized the last couple of weeks.”

more »

NBC Continues to Rack Up Ratings Achievements

NBC is touting another round of fall 2012 ratings achievements after winning week four of the new season in the key 18-49 demo. The network has now won the first four weeks of the season for the first time in 10 years, based on Nielsen live-plus-same-day figures.

For the week of Oct. 8-14 NBC was up 24% from the same week last fall in viewers 18-49, averaging a 2.6 rating, up from a 2.1. Powered by strong performances for “Sunday Night Football,” “The Voice,” “Revolution” and “Grimm,” the network was also up 18% in total viewers -- to 7.5 million, up from 6.4 million.

The network is reporting that its lead for the season-to-date through week four in the 18-49 demo marks the second-largest margin for any network in the past nine years.

“NBC now leads the season by 0.4 of a rating point in 18-49 (with a 3.1 season average vs. a 2.7 for #2 CBS), the second biggest lead for any network at this point in the season in the last nine years (since 2003, behind only the 0.5 lead of CBS in 2010),” the network says in its announcement. “NBC’s 3.1 is the network’s highest week-four season average in the last five years (since 2007).”

Season-to-date averages through four weeks in adults 18-49 are: NBC, 3.1 average rating/9 share; CBS, 2.7/8; ABC, 2.4/7; Fox, 2.4/7; and CW, 0.6/2.

CBS continues to hold a significant advantage in total viewers. Season-to-date averages in total viewers are: CBS, 11.3 million; ABC, 8.8 million; NBC, 8.4 million; Fox, 6.5 million; and CW, 1.4 million.

more »

Director Tony Scott's Death Officially Declared a Suicide -- But a Key Piece of Information Is Missing

Director Tony Scott's death was officially determined to be a suicide on Monday, when the Los Angeles County Coroner released a findings summary following his Aug. 19 death, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

The summary noted that toxicology tests found a "therapeutic level" of an antidepressant, Mirtazipine, and a sleeping aid, Zopiclone, the story notes. Scott died of "multiple blunt force injuries" and drowning after jumping from a bridge.

However, the Los Angeles Times notes that the new report fails to resolve what many people undoubtedly see as the central mystery: why Scott took his life.

“The L.A. County coroner's report said Scott appeared to have had no major health problems, and coroner's officials said interviews with family members and friends did not reveal a possible motive,” the paper reports.

The report does appear to put to rest a rumor that surfaced soon after Scott’s death, which indicated he had a brain tumor -- a suggestion that his family strongly denied.

“Chief coroner's investigator Craig Harvey said there was no indication of pre-existing conditions in Scott, based on both the autopsy and medical records,” the L.A. Times reports.

Said Harvey: "There was no evidence of neoplasia -- cancer -- identified."

Scott was 68 when he died.

The British-born Scott -- the brother of filmmaker Ridley Scott -- was behind a string of hit films including “Top Gun” (1986), “Beverly Hills Cop II” (1987), “Days of Thunder” (1990), “True Romance” (1993) and “Crimson Tide” (1995).

more »

CBS Is Sued, Accused of Stealing the Idea for 'The Talk'

CBS has responded to a lawsuit filed last week that accuses the network, along with production companies and some top executives behind “The Talk,” of stealing the idea for the daytime talk show, Deadline.com reports.

Author Angela Wilder filed the suit Oct. 17, alleging that it was her idea for a talk show focused on motherhood that inspired the CBS show. The show, produced by CBS Television Studios and RelativityREAL, is co-hosted by Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Sheryl Underwood, Aisha Tyler and Julie Chen.

CBS responded Monday, saying: “It’s one thing to get sued over a project that was pitched to us, but quite a stretch to be sued over a pitch that was made to somebody else. Ms. Wilder’s alleged offering to Sony played absolutely no part in the creation of ‘The Talk.’ We’ll vigorously defend this case and expect to prevail.”

The report notes: “CBS has always said that ‘The Talk,’ which debuted in October 2010, is based on an idea by Gilbert.”

Wilder, the author of “Powerful Mate Syndrome,” never met with CBS or Relativity -- listed among the defendants in the suit -- but she says she presented the TV show idea to Holly Jacobs, Sony’s senior VP of Reality and Syndication Programming, in December 2008.

“The suit states that at the end of their one hour together, Jacobs turned down Wilder’s ‘The Mothers’ Hood’ pitch. Wilder says she left two copies of her WGA and U.S. Copyright Office-registered treatment with Jacobs,” the story reports.

The suit states: “Jacobs and Sony had a close working relationship with RelativityREAL, LLC, and its Chief Executive Officer, Tom Forman, such that Forman, his company, and CBS all had direct and easy access to Wilder’s Treatment during the development stage of ‘The Talk.’”

The suit also notes that Forman, one of the defendants, “was very well-connected with CBS,” which “fully funded” his company, Tom Forman Productions. Forman later joined RelativityREAL.

more »

Two-Time Oscar Winner to Star in Project Described as Female Version of '$#*! My Dad Says'

A two-time Oscar winner is attached to star in an ABC project called "Now What?," which is reported by Deadline.com to be a female version of "$#*! My Dad Says."

Jane Fonda is slated to portray a mother moving in with her daughter, who has publicly criticized her mom in a blog entry called "Dear Mom, Here’s Why I Hate You…," the story notes. The project was written on spec by Abby Gewanter of "Pushing Daisies," with Scott Ellis attached to direct and executive produce with Mike Tollin.

"This marks a rare foray into comedy for Fonda, who has stayed mostly on the drama side in her feature career with a few exceptions, including the 1968 'Barbarella' and the 2005 'Monster-In-Law,'" the piece notes.

Fonda won Oscars for Best Actress for “Klute” in 1972 and “Coming Home” in 1979.

Jane-Fonda1.jpgJane Fonda

more »

Clark Kent Leaves The Daily Planet for Online Journalism in Superman Update -- and What's Up With That 'Disturbing Text Message' About His Ex, Lois Lane?

Superman's alter ego is leaving his job at The Daily Planet, which he has had since 1940, and appears poised to start his own online publication, USA Today reports. The developments are just part of a series of updates in store for the Man of Steel in issue 13 of DC Comics’ “Superman,” due out Wednesday.

Clark Kent reportedly will have a "Jerry Maguire" moment and resign from the newspaper, railing against how journalism has devolved into entertainment, the story notes.

In another “art imitates life” twist, Kent’s move is sparked by The Daily Planet's purchase by the media conglomerate Galaxy Broadcasting, the story adds. "This is really what happens when a 27-year-old guy is behind a desk and he has to take instruction from a larger conglomerate with concerns that aren't really his own," said "Superman" writer Scott Lobdell.

"He is more likely to start the next Huffington Post or the next Drudge Report than he is to go find someone else to get assignments or draw a paycheck from," Lobdell added.

“But that's just one of many plot points of note in the new issue,” the report notes. “Superman pushes the limits of his powers, Clark sees a disturbing text message regarding Lois Lane and her new boyfriend, and a new Kryptonian threat is also introduced that will begin a crossover story involving the stars of ‘Superboy’ and ‘Supergirl.’”

Superman, who was married to Lois Lane, has moved on, the story notes, including recently sharing a kiss with Wonder Woman in an issue of “Justice League.” But of course he still has strong feelings for Lois.

Meanwhile, traditionally mild-mannered Clark appears to be on the verge of becoming a bit less mild. Says Lobdell: "Rather than Clark be this clownish suit that Superman puts on, we're going to really see Clark come into his own in the next few years as far as being a guy who takes to the Internet and to the airwaves and starts speaking an unvarnished truth."


more »

Video: Debate Moderator Schieffer Commits the 'Obama-Osama' Flub

Bob Schieffer, who moderated last night’s third presidential debate, had a moment when he messed up Osama bin Laden’s name, calling him “Obamas, uh, bin Laden.” Neither candidate acknowledged the slip.

ABC News posted the clip. Here it is:

more »

CW Gives Full-Season Order to Its New Breakout Hit -- Series Premiere Was the Network's Most-Watched Show in Three Years

A freshman drama has received a full-season order from The CW, after the show's premiere drew 4.1 million viewers and ranked as the network's most-watched telecast of any show in three years, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

The show is the superhero drama "Arrow," an adaptation of DC Comics’ “Green Arrow.” The series gave CW its most-watched premiere since “Vampire Diaries.” In its second week, "Arrow" maintained its audience among viewers 18-34 and 18-49, the piece notes.

CW President Mark Pedowitz said in a statement, "Our strategy of rolling out our new fall schedule later in the year really paid off for The CW on several levels, especially with ‘Arrow,’ which was the network’s most watched premiere in three years and is one of the breakout hits of the new season."

more »

ABC Developing Kelly Ripa-Mark Consuelos Comedy Project

ABC is close to a script deal for a comedy from husband and wife Mark Consuelos and Kelly Ripa, reports Deadline.com.

Consuelos would star in the project, about a working-class handyman from Queens who becomes part of a nontraditional family unit in New York's wealthy Upper West Side, the story notes. This marks the second time ABC and ABC Studios have put a comedy into development starring Consuelos, after the workplace comedy "Port Love" two years ago, the story adds.

Ripa is executive producer along with Consuelos, with Peter Murrieta writing the project based on an idea by Aaron Kaplan. Both Kaplan and Murrieta will also executive produce. Murrieta, who worked as showrunner on the first three seasons of "The Wizards of Waverly Place," also has a family project at NBC, the piece adds.

Ripa hosts "Live with Kelly & Michael" along with Michael Strahan.

more »

Injured 'Dancing With the Stars' Competitor Returns to Show

Despite suffering a herniated disc during rehearsals Sunday for "Dancing with the Stars," Melissa Rycroft returned to the ABC dance competition to perform Monday night, reports People.com.

"I'm on a little medication right now," she said, adding that she had been cleared to dance. As previously reported, she was rushed to a Los Angeles hospital Sunday after suffering what was initially reported as a head and neck injury during a rehearsal.

Rycroft, a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, was a contestant on ABC’s “The Bachelor.”

melissa-rycroft.jpgMelissa Rycroft

more »

MTV Working on Scripted Drama Based on Young Adult Novel

MTV is working on its next scripted drama, with Kevin Cornish, the co-producer of "Are We Done Yet?," attached to executive produce, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The project is based on the young adult novel "Unraveling," the debut novel from Elizabeth Norris. The story tracks a young woman who is convinced she died in a car crash but was revived miraculously, the report notes.

If the project gets ordered to series, it will join MTV's other scripted shows, including "Teen Wolf."

more »

'New Girl' Actor Sells Comedy Project to Fox

"New Girl" actor Jake Johnson has sold a comedy to Fox, along with writer-director Max Winkler, about a group of underdogs who -- lacking any superpowers -- create a version of the Avengers, Deadline.com reports.

The five characters in "The B Team" instead need to tap into their intellect to take on evil-doers, the story notes. Winkler, who directed "Ceremony," is tapped to direct the pilot, while Johnson would make his directorial debut if the project is ordered to series, the story adds.

The project is produced by 20th Century Fox TV and Imagine TV, with Johnson and Winkler co-writing.

more »

Showtime Orders Third Season of 'Homeland'

Showtime has placed a third-season order for "Homeland," the drama starring Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

The pay-television network ordered 12 new episodes of the show, which recently cleaned up at the Emmys, including winning outstanding drama series. Both Danes and Lewis also won Emmys.

Showtime reports that “Homeland’s” current second season is receiving the series’ biggest ratings yet, the story adds. Danes stars as a CIA agent who suspects a returning POW, played by Lewis, may be part of a terrorist plot.

more »

New Lawsuit Against Justin Bieber Full of Outrageous Allegations

Pop star Justin Bieber is the target of a new lawsuit filed in Michigan by a man who claims to be the father of Selena Gomez, TMZ.com reports. The report, which describes the suit as “crazy,” says the man “makes some of the most insane, and obviously untrue allegations ever documented in court.”

Among the allegations is a claim that Bieber is cheating on his girlfriend with Ke$ha, Rihanna and Penelope Cruz, the story reports.

Also among the claims quoted in the story:

-- "Bieber has cost me $426.78 and never paid me back. This money was used as abortion money because Justin Bieber got my daughter Selena pregnant in my bedroom, on my canadian bear rug."

-- "[Bieber] gave selena a std and Bieber stole my credit card to buy him and sean p-ditty combs cocaine to use in drug free school zones."

-- "Bieber also got a penis enlargement with my stolen american express card. "

The lawsuit also reportedly states: "I'm an emotional mess ... America must boycott biebers music!"

more »

New Low for Long-Running Reality Franchise in Sunday Ratings

A long-running reality series fell to an all-time low in Sunday’s ratings, based on Nielsen overnight figures. The series is CBS’s “Amazing Race,” which managed only a 2.3 average rating in the key demo of viewers 18-49, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

That number is down three-tenths of a ratings point from a week earlier, and a new low for an original episode airing during the fall season.

Meanwhile, NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” easily carried the night, averaging a 6.0 rating in 18-49 and powering the Peacock Network to an overall win for prime time.

NBC finished prime time with a 4.8 average in adults 18-49, beating CBS (3.8 average), ABC (2.3) and Fox (1.6). CBS moved ahead in total viewers, averaging 14.5 million to 12.8 million for NBC, 7.3 million for ABC and 5.6 million for Fox.

Numbers for Fox, CBS and NBC are subject to more than the usual adjustments because of the nature of live sports programming.

ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” scored a 3.3 average in the 18-49 demo, up from a 3.0 a week ago. “Revenge” also rose, from a 2.6 to a 2.8, while “666 Park Avenue” was up as well, from a 1.5 to a 1.8.

more »

Talk-Show Host to Receive Prestigious Humor Prize

A popular talk-show host will receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, one of the top honors bestowed by the Kennedy Center, Zap2it reports.

Ellen DeGeneres will receive the award tonight, with a broadcast of the ceremony set to air Oct. 30 of PBS stations, the story reports.

DeGeneres joins a list of recipients of the award that includes Bill Cosby, Whoopi Goldberg and Tina Fey.

“The prize is meant to honor Mark Twain's satirical style that offered up plenty of social commentary, and DeGeneres has done just that,” the story reports. “A number of big names will be on hand in Washington, D.C., to deliver tribute performances to honor DeGeneres, including Jane Lynch, Jimmy Kimmel, John Krasinski, John Leguizamo, Steve Harvey, Lily Tomlin, Jason Mraz, Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes.”

more »

Character Actor Dead at 72 -- He Appeared in 'Last of the Mohicans' and 'Natural Born Killers'

A noted film and television character actor and Native American activist died of cancer today, Deadline.com reports. Russell Means, 72, died at his home on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Porcupine, S.D.

Means made his acting debut in the 1992 Michael Mann film “The Last of the Mohicans,” and also appeared in Oliver Stone’s 1994 film “Natural Born Killers.”

More recently he appeared on television in “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Nash Bridges,” and had a cameo in the 2005 miniseries “Into the West.”

“A prominent member of the American Indian movement, he was instrumental in Marlon Brando having a Native American accept Brando’s Best Actor Oscar at the 1973 Academy Awards as a way of highlighting the plight of American Indians,” the report notes.

Means, an Oglala Sioux activist, joined the American Indian Movement in 1968 and became a prominent organizer in the group. He published his autobiography, “Where White Men Fear to Tread,” in 1995.

russell-means.jpgRussell Means

more »

ABC Orders Additional Episodes of 'Modern Family' and Other Series

ABC has placed orders for additional episodes of a number of series, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The network ordered two additional episodes each of "Modern Family," "Grey's Anatomy" and "The Middle," the story reports.

ABC also ordered one additional episode of “Castle,” the report notes.

With the latest order, the season totals for “Modern Family,” “Grey’s” and “The Middle” will be 24 episodes each, while “Castle’s” total rises to 23.

ABC also ordered two additional scripts each for two freshman dramas -- "666 Park Avenue" and "Last Resort."

more »

Fox Renews 'X Factor' for Season Three; Head-to-Head Showdowns With NBC's 'The Voice' Set

Fox has given a third-season renewal to “The X Factor,” even with the singing competition’s numbers down from season one, Deadline.com reports.

Meanwhile, NBC announced an expanded schedule for “The Voice” during election week, setting up head-to-head showdowns between the two shows on two nights that week.

“NBC just announced that it will air live two-hour editions Monday, Nov. 5, and Wednesday, Nov. 7, (8-10 PM) as well as an hourlong one on Thursday, Nov. 8 (8-9 PM),” Deadline reports. “’The Voice’ airs Mondays and Tuesdays but will be pre-empted Nov. 6 for Election Night coverage.”

The scheduling change means “The Voice” and “X Factor” will go head-to-head on Wednesday and Thursday that week.

“The renewal comes as the current second season of ‘X Factor’ is heading into the live shows Nov. 1, a couple of days before ‘The Voice’ begins its live shows,” Deadline notes.

“X Factor” is averaging 1 3.9 rating in adults 18-49 season to date, with 10.6 million total viewers.

more »

ABC Family Sets Return Dates for Series

ABC Family has announced premiere dates for new seasons and new episodes of a number of series -- "Pretty Little Liars," "The Lying Game," "Bunheads" and "Switched at Birth," TVLine.com reports.

“Switched at Birth” returns for season two on Monday, Jan. 7, at 8 p.m. ET. It will be followed by returning freshman drama “Bunheads” at 9 p.m. ET.

“Pretty Little Liars” returns Tuesday, Jan. 8, at 8 p.m. ET, continuing its third season. “Lying Game” follows with its season two premiere at 9 p.m.

more »

Fox Buys Scripted Project From 'America's Next Top Model' Producer

Fox has bought a scripted project set in the fashion world from "America's Next Top Model" executive producer Ken Mok, reports Deadline.com.

Called "Scarlatti," the project will focus on a multi-generational fashion dynasty trying to keep control of their empire, the story notes.

The project will be written by Marjorie David of "90210" and marks a return to scripted projects for Mok, who was previously director of current programming at NBC and director of comedy development for ABC, the story notes.

more »

ABC Pulls Plug on Shonda Rhimes Series

ABC has decided to wrap up a drama series created by Shonda Rhimes, which will end its run after it completes the 13-episode order it received in May. Nellie Andreeva reports on Deadline.com that ABC has opted not to give “Private Practice” a back-nine pickup.

"I hear ABC brass and 'Grey’s' and 'Private Practice' creator/executive producer Shonda Rhimes recently came to the conclusion that the 'Grey’s Anatomy' spinoff had run its course, and it was time for it to end after five-and-a-half seasons," Andreeva writes. "The final cancellation decision was made this afternoon [Friday, Oct. 19], and Rhimes just broke the news to the 'Private Practice' cast and crew."

The show was facing the departure of star Kate Walsh, who was already set to leave after the season’s 13th episode, which will now be the show's finale, the story notes.

more »

Contestant Rushed to Hospital After Suffering Head Injury on 'DWTS'

A contestant on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” was rushed to a Los Angeles hospital Sunday after suffering a head and neck injury during a rehearsal for the show, reports People.com.

Melissa Rycroft, a former "Bachelor" star, fell while doing camera blocking to prepare for today's episode, the story says. She was taken to the hospital by ambulance.

Rycroft is one of eight celebrities still on the all-stars competition. It was not known yet whether she would be able to compete today, the story notes.

more »

Chevy Chase Unleashes 'N-Word' on 'Community' Set

Chevy Chase, reportedly frustrated with his character on the NBC comedy "Community," used the N-word on the set while venting his anger, then immediately apologized to his colleagues, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Chase reportedly used the slur when he questioned dialogue between two African-American castmates, Donald Glover and Yvette Nicole Brown. According to the story, the word wasn't directed at them.

Production was briefly interrupted after the slur, reports TVLine.com. Chase issued a formal apology to the cast and crew, the story notes. Reps for NBC and Chase declined to comment.

more »

Actress Says She Was Written Off CBS Drama After Collapsing on Set

An actress on a hit CBS drama series, who collapsed on the set in August, is claiming that the network has written her off the show because of a medical condition.

Actress Jennifer Esposito says CBS has kept her off "Blue Bloods" since her collapse, and she says CBS alleges her illness was a scheme to get a raise, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

At the time of the collapse Esposito complained the show’s producers were "working her too hard," the story reports. She has since been out of the lineup of the drama, in which she has been playing Detective Jackie Curatola.

She took to Twitter to air her complaints. "CBS ... PUT me on unpaid leave and has blocked me from working anywhere else after my doc said u needed a reduced schedule due to celiac," she wrote. "CBS didn’t listen to my doc and I collapsed on set. Which everyone saw! After a week off my doc said I could return to work but CBS implied that I was NOT truly ill and this was a scheme to get a raise!"

CBS said in a statement that because of her illness, the actress is "unable to perform the demands of her role and we regretfully had to put her character on a leave of absence." Esposito's final episode is set to air Nov. 2.

jennifer-esposito.jpgJennifer Esposito

more »

Lindsay Lohan's Dad Stages Intervention, Seeks Conservatorship for Her

Lindsay Lohan's father staged an intervention for the troubled starlet on Friday, reports TMZ.com. Her father, Michael Lohan, and several other people showed up at her house Friday afternoon, acting on the belief that she has fallen off the wagon, the story says.

Michael Lohan told TMZ.com that he believes Lindsay has surrounded herself with "a bunch of alcoholics and drug addicts."

He also said her team was on board with the intervention, the story adds. The police arrived after someone called to report trespassing, and the cops and her father left her house soon afterward, the piece notes.

The report adds: “We're told Lindsay was at the house when Michael and team arrived, but someone claiming to be her boyfriend shooed them away. The ‘boyfriend’ told TMZ Lindsay was inside and any problems Lindsay has will not be solved by her father.”

According to a later TMZ story, Michael Lohan plans to go to court to get a conservatorship for Lindsay, although he doesn't want himself or Lindsay's mother, Dina, to become their daughter's conservator, the story notes. He has reportedly discussed the situation with a lawyer.

“Michael told the lawyer the first thing he will do if there's a conservatorship is convince the conservator to send Lindsay to rehab, without the influence of the other people in her life,” the story reports. “Michael says every time Lindsay has been to rehab -- including at Cirque Lodge and Betty Ford -- ‘She went in dirty and didn't come out clean,’ and he blames it on the people in her life who helped fuel her addiction.”

more »

Ad Rates for 'American Idol' Plummet, Altering List of TV's Priciest Shows

Advertising prices for "American Idol" have plunged, ending the show's five-year dominance in ad rates and allowing NBC's "Sunday Night Football" to run off with the title for the highest-priced inventory, writes Brian Steinberg in Advertising Age.

"Last year, 'Sunday Night Football' and 'American Idol' were virtually neck and neck for top cost, but the average cost of a 30-second spot in 'Sunday Night Football' in the 2012-2013 TV season is a budget-busting $545,142, up from $512,367 last season, according to Ad Age's figures," Steinberg notes.

He continues: "Meanwhile, the average cost of a 30-second spot in the Wednesday edition of 'Idol' plummeted from $502,900 last season to $340,825. Even less expensive is the results show: The average cost of a 30-second ad in Thursday's 'Idol' is $296,002, down from $468,100 last season, according to the survey."

While ad prices for "American Idol" usually increase as the show moves toward its final weeks, the survey indicates that the show is now "a clear second to football," the story notes.

Another surprise in the survey is the gains made by the Fox comedy "New Girl." The show has climbed to fourth place with an average cost of $320,940 for a 30-second ad, just below television's third-priciest show, ABC's "Modern Family," which commands $330,908 for a TV spot.

"In fact, seven out of the top 10 shows in the survey are comedies, suggesting that the consumers advertisers covet the most -- audiences between the age of 18 and 49 -- are looking for laughs," Steinberg notes.

more »

Rapper Joins Freshman Drama 'Nashville'

A well-known rap artist has been added to the freshman ABC drama "Nashville," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed. Wyclef Jean is slated for a multi-episode role on the show, the story reports.

The show is set in the world of country music, with Connie Britton playing an aging country music superstar who is teamed with a young starlet, played by Hayden Panettiere.

Jean will portray the head of a music label, the story adds. He has appeared recently on “Third Watch” and has done soundtrack work on “Glee” and “30 Rock.”

wyclef-jean.jpgWyclef Jean

more »

Non-TV Story of the Day: When Washington Really Was Bipartisan -- A Touching Remembrance of Staunch Liberal George McGovern by Staunch Conservative Bob Dole

Former Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole has written a touching remembrance of former Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern, who died yesterday, Oct. 21, 2012, at age 90.

"I am sure there are some who were surprised by the long friendship that George and I shared," Dole writes in his remembrance published in The Washington Post. "After all, before his death this weekend at age 90, he was a proud and unapologetic liberal Democrat and I am a lifelong Republican."

Dole continues, "Both of us were guided by the values we learned growing up in the plains of the Midwest -- he in Mitchell, S.D., and me in Russell, Kan. Our lives were also transformed by the experience of wearing the uniform of our country during World War II.

"We would both come to understand that our most important commonality -- the one that would unite us during and after our service on Capitol Hill -- was our shared desire to eliminate hunger in this country and around the world."

Doles ends his piece: "There can be no doubt that throughout his half-century career in the public arena, George McGovern never gave up on his principles or in his determination to call our nation to a higher plain. America and the world are for the better because of him."

Dole's entire piece is worth reading. Click here to see the piece.

One final note about McGovern. He ran for president in 1972 against Richad Nixon, who was seeking his second term. Nixon defeated him handily. McGovern's biggest issue was that he was running as an anti-Vietnam War candidate.   

On the public radio program "Left, Right and Center" on Friday, Oct. 19, 2012, journalist Robert Scheer recounted this story about McGovern: "I once asked George McGovern, 'When Nixon challenged your patriotism ... why didn't you poiint out that you won the distinguished flying coss [during World War II], that you flew 35 missions -- the most dangerous missions over Germany? Why didn't you bring up your patriotism when Nixon, who was a parade guard during the war and didn't see combat, was challenging you?'

"And McGovern said he didn't bring up his own war record because it would have been 'unseemly.'"


Sen. George McGovern

more »

Rupert Murdoch Eyes Purchase of Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune

News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch is considering purchasing the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune as their parent company, Tribune Co., is expected to emerge from bankruptcy soon, reports Meg James in the Los Angeles Times.

"News Corp. executives have had preliminary talks with these [Tribune Co.'s] debt holders about acquiring the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, according to two ranking News Corp. executives and others familiar with the situation," the story notes.

The talks are at the early stages, and a deal isn't certain, while other potential purchasers are also interested, the story notes. The story mentions two other interested parties by name: "Austin Beutner, the former venture capitalist and ex-deputy mayor of Los Angeles," and "Aaron Kushner, the former greeting card executive who bought the Orange County Register and six small papers this year for about $400 million."

News Corp.'s holdings include The Wall Street Journal, The London Times and other newspapers.

"Acquiring the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune would give him strong footholds in the nation's three largest media markets: New York, Los Angeles and Chicago," the story points out.

However, there are potential barriers to Murdoch ownership of the papers, the story notes: "Federal Communications Commission rules prevent owners from owning a newspaper and TV stations in the same market. News Corp. owns two Fox stations in L.A. and two in Chicago. The FCC has been considering eliminating the rule, and has granted exceptions in the past, including a waiver that has allowed Tribune to operate both KTLA-TV Channel 5 and the Los Angeles Times."

The article adds, "Murdoch's lieutenants say he has long wanted to buy the Times. On trips to Los Angeles, he is known to mark up the newspaper with a Sharpie pen to illustrate how he would design pages."

more »

Lance Armstrong Stripped of All Tour de France Titles, Banned for Life as Cycling's International Governing Body Ratifies the Sanctions Imposed on Armstrong by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Armstrong's Last Major Sponsor Drops Him

"The International Cycling Union (UCI) announced Monday that Armstrong is being stripped of his Tour de France titles," reports CNN.

The report continues, "'Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling,' said the union's president, Pat McQuaid, announcing that Armstrong is banned from the sport."

The article says, "The decision follows this month's finding by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that there is 'overwhelming' evidence that Armstrong was involved as a professional cyclist in 'the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program.'"

On the heels of the UCI announcement, Armstrong's last major sponsor, Oakley sunglasses, has dropped him. Oakley released this statement: "When Lance joined our family many years ago, he was a symbol of possibility. We are deeply saddened by the outcome, but look forward with hope to athletes and teams of the future who will rekindle that inspiration by racing clean, fair and honest. We believe the LIVESTRONG Foundation has been a positive force in the lives of many affected by cancer and, at this time, Oakley will continue to support its noble goals."

Armstrong still faces other sanctions.

Reports The New York Times, "The World Anti-Doping Agency now has 21 days to decide whether it will appeal the ruling. If it does not, Armstrong’s hotly contested case is over."

The Times story adds, "The International Olympic Committee is reviewing his case and now will likely strip him of the bronze medal he won at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. SCA Promotions, an insurance company based in Dallas, will probably start the process of trying to recoup the bonus money it awarded Armstrong for winning Tour after Tour. Armstrong sued the company in 2005 to force it to pay him the bonus he was owed for winning the 2004 Tour. The company had withheld that bonus because of accusations in the book “L.A. Confidentiel,” published only in French, which said Armstrong had doped and cheated to win. The two parties reached a settlement, with the insurance company paying Armstrong $7.5 million."

The UCI said no winners will be listed for the Tour de France from 1999-2005, which were the seven years Armstrong had previously been listed as the winner of race.

To read TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross' comments about Armstrong deceiving cycling team sponsor Discovery Channel, please click here.

more »

Dish and Cablevision Settle Dispute; Customers Get AMC Back

Dish Network and Cablevision settled their legal dispute in a series of talks spread across four nights, with attorneys for the two companies slated to appear in court this morning to present their deal to the court, reports the New York Post.

As part of the deal, with talks that lasted until 3 a.m. Sunday, Dish will put AMC Networks' channels back into its lineup, the story says. Dish will also pay Cablevision and AMC, a former subsidiary of Cablevision, $700 million in cash.

The legal dispute stemmed from a decision by Dish's former parent EchoStar to back out of a deal to carry Voom HD programming, the story notes.

"The settlement includes a return of AMC’s networks and award-winning shows like 'Mad Men' and 'Breaking Bad' to Dish’s viewers starting yesterday, according to AMC’s statement," reports Bloomberg. "Dish had dropped AMC’s channels in July, saying that they didn’t deliver the ratings to justify their price."

more »

More 'Mindy' for Fox

"The Mindy Project" has received an order from Fox for additional episodes, bringing its first-season order to 24 episodes, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Fox ordered an additional two episodes after a recently ordered back nine, the story notes. The show has been a solid performer, drawing a 1.9 rating recently among adults 18-49, although still dropping from the lead-in provided by "New Girl," the piece adds.

The series stars and is created by Mindy Kaling.

more »

Two NBC Shows Hit All-Time Lows as CBS Coasts to Thursday Ratings Win

CBS rode strong performances by two Thursday night comedies to a comfortable ratings win in the key 18-49 demo, TVbytheNumbers.com reports, citing Nielsen overnights.

CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” was the top show of the night, delivering a 4.7 average rating in 18-49, up 4% from a week ago. Leading out from “Bang,” “Two and a Half Men” surged 14% to a 4.0.

CBS’s dramas didn’t fare as well. “Person of Interest” drooped 7% to a 2.8, while “Elementary” was down 8% to a 2.3.

NBC had a series-low performance from “The Office,” which fell 9% from its previous original episode to a 2.0 in 18-49, while “Parks and Recreation” equaled its series low with a 1.6, down 16% from its previous original. Elsewhere on NBC, “30 Rock” was even with a week ago with a 1.3 average, “Up All Night” was up 27% to a 1.4 and “Rock Center” was down 10% from its previous original to a 0.9.

ABC’s preliminary numbers are likely to be inflated because of an NFL simulcast in San Francisco. Based on the overnights, ABC’s top show of the night, “Grey’s Anatomy,” had a 3.3 in the 18-49 demo, off 13% from its previous original. “Scandal” delivered a 2.0, matching its previous original, while “Last Resort” came in with a 1.7, up 6% from a week ago.

Fox’s MLB playoffs performed modestly, averaging a 1.4 in 18-49, with substantial adjustments expected due to the nature of live programming.

For prime-time overall, CBS won the night with a 3.1 in viewers 18-49, followed by ABC (2.4 average), Fox (1.4), NBC (1.4) and Univision (1.4). CBS also won total viewers, averaging 13.1 million to 7.7 million for ABC, 5.4 million for Fox, 3.5 million for Univision and 3.5 million for NBC.

more »

Did '30 Rock' Take a Swipe at Canceled NBC Sibling 'Animal Practice' Last Night?

Just a few hours after news broke Thursday that NBC had canceled the freshman comedy “Animal Practice,” a subplot aired on another NBC sitcom, “30 Rock,” that may have been a poke in the eye at the canceled show, TheWrap.com reports.

The subplot was about a comedy series bringing a monkey on board for some cheap laughs, the story reports.

“Coincidence? The timing certainly was. ‘30 Rock’ had no way of knowing ‘Animal Practice’ was going off the air,” the piece reports. “But the storyline may not have been. ‘Animal Practice’ emerged as an anti-‘30 Rock’ when NBC announced plans to push broad comedies -- the kinds with animals and kids -- rather than the acclaimed but low-rated comedies it has aired on Thursday nights for years. ‘30 Rock’ is the most acclaimed of those shows.”

The report adds: “The monkey appeared Thursday in the midst of a fight between Liz (Tina Fey) and Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) over whether women are funny. Jordan concludes that monkeys are funnier than women, and lobbies to feature one on the ‘30 Rock’ show-within-a-show ‘TGS.’"

A spokeswoman for the network told TheWrap today that the plotline had no connection to "Animal Practice." But the website notes that "30 Rock" has targeted NBC before with its satires.

“In the era when GE owned NBC, executive Jack Donaghy tried to peddle ‘funcooker’ ovens as well as TV shows,” the piece reports. “As Comcast took over the real NBC, the NBC of ‘30 Rock’ was taken over by a Comcast-like company called Kabletown.”

more »

Joaquin Phoenix Calls the Oscars 'the Stupidest Thing in the Whole World' ... and Worse

Joaquin Phoenix, a two-time Oscar nominee, doesn’t appear to be interested in going through the process a third time. The New York Daily News reports that the quirky actor opens up in a new piece in Interview Magazine, saying -- among other things -- that competing for Oscars is “the stupidest thing in the whole world.”

Asked by interviewer Elvis Mitchell about the growing speculation that Phoenix will be nominated again, for “The Master,” Phoenix reportedly responded: “I think it’s total, utter bulls--t, and I don’t want to be a part of it.”

Phoenix added: “I don't believe in it. It's a carrot, but it's the worst-tasting carrot I've ever tasted in my whole life. I don't want this carrot. It's totally subjective. Pitting people against each other ... It's the stupidest thing in the whole world.”

Phoenix reflected on the politicking that surrounded his Oscar nomination for the 2005 Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line,” saying it was “one of the most uncomfortable periods of my life,” and adding: “I never want to have that experience again.”

The piece notes that Phoenix “is just making a career comeback of sorts after a fallow period surrounding the elaborate hoax that he was ditching acting to become a rapper -- chronicled in Casey Affleck’s fake documentary, ‘I’m Not Here.’”

more »

Roger Ailes Gets Four More Years at Fox News

News Corp. announced that Roger Ailes has signed a new four-year deal to remain as CEO and chairman of Fox News and chairman of Fox Television Stations, The Washington Post reports.

“Ailes, who started Fox News Channel in 1996, will oversee everything from FNC, Fox Business Network, Fox TV stations, Twentieth Television and MyNetworkTV,” the piece reports. “In this extension, he will also continue to serve as senior advisor on TV and news to News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch, the announcement added.”

more »

Lifetime Developing Drama With Jennifer Love Hewitt

Jennifer Love Hewitt, who is already starring in Lifetime's "The Client List," is working with the network to develop a drama series based on her 2010 bestseller "The Day I Shot Cupid," reports Deadline.com.

The book is filled with advice -- often comical -- about dating and relationships.

"Alphas" veteran Matt Hastings will pen the project, renamed "Finding Love," for Lifetime with Hewitt executive producing through her company Fedora Films. Lifetime has a first-look deal with Hewitt's company.

more »

Animal Advocates Cheer the Demise of 'Animal Practice'

The activist group PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, celebrated the announcement Thursday that NBC had canceled the situation comedy "Animal Practice," reports Entertainment Weekly.

The group issued a statement that said, “PETA’s staff are celebrating today in response to news that NBC’s ‘Animal Practice’ has been canceled. The cancellation of 'Animal Practice' sends the strong message that using animals for cheap laughs on TV shows is archaic and uninteresting to today’s viewers, who are sophisticated enough to know that not only is putting a monkey in a lab coat not funny, it’s also cruel.”

PETA has been campaigning against the program since its premiere, objecting to the treatment of monkeys used on the show.

more »

Tom Hanks Drops the F-Bomb on Live TV

Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks had an embarrassing moment during a live appearance this morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” accidentally dropping the F-bomb, People magazine reports.

The incident took place when interviewer Elizabeth Vargas asked Hanks to speak as one of the characters from his new movie, “Cloud Atlas.”

Hanks warned her: "Mostly it’s swear words." But then he went into a thick accent and said: "I want people to f---ing …" -- then he suddenly stopped himself, covered his mouth and apologized, while Vargas also apologized.

Said Hanks: "Man oh man, I'm sorry. ... I have never done that before. I would apologize to the kids in America who are watching this right now, and ... next time on the show there will be a seven-second delay."

Here’s the clip:

more »

Showtime's 'Homeland' Receives Threat of Legal Action From Government of Lebanon

The award-winning Showtime drama "Homeland" has received a legal threat from Lebanon, with the country’s minister of tourism expressing outrage at Beirut's portrayal by the show as a city filled with terrorists, reports the U.K.'s Telegraph.

The story was reported before Beirut was rocked Friday by a deadly car bombing. Reuters reports that at least eight people were killed in the attack.

Reporting on the "Homeland" story, the Telegraph quotes Lebanon tourism minister Fady Abboud saying: "We are following the case legally. I raised this at the cabinet meeting and the president asked the minister for justice and the minister of communications to see what can be done." Abboud called the show's portrayal of Beirut a "serious misrepresentation."

"I am calling on all young Lebanese adults to do what they need to do -- to write blogs, to call the BBC and CNN to try to raise awareness that Beirut is not a city of Kalashnikov and war," he added, according the story.

Besides airing on Showtime, "Homeland" is also seen internationally. For example, in the U.K. it's shown on Channel 4.

Abboud has been trying to promote the image of Beirut as the Paris of the Middle East, the piece reports. “Homeland” may have caught his attention when it borrowed the phrase “Beirut Is Back,” which has been used to describe the city’s resurgence, as the title of a recent episode. The episode was filmed in neighboring Israel.

“In the show, Carrie Mathison, played by Claire Danes, continuously dons the hair-covering hijab, but women in the part of Beirut where the scene is reportedly set are more often seen patrolling the street in skin-tight jeans, bouffant hair and Jimmy Choos,” the piece reports.

Said Abboud: "The Lebanese are intelligent enough to use such a thing to our advantage. I am calling on youths to splice images of the war-torn Hamra of ‘Homeland’ with the real street.”

"’They should display it in Skybar,’ he added, referring to one of Beirut's sophisticated and expensive nightclubs that comes complete with valet to park the Porsches and Jaguars in which the clientele tend to arrive,” the piece reports.

The article adds, "Tom Fletcher, the British ambassador to Lebanon, who has campaigned for Westerners to reassess their perception of the country, told Executive, the Lebanese magazine that broke the story, that '"Homeland" is one of life's joys, but Lebanon tends to get a rough time from filmmakers -- I'd encourage people to see the real Beirut.'"

Showtime did not respond to a request for comment, the report notes.

more »

Britney Spears Trial: 'She liked to use amphetamines'

An attorney for Britney Spears' ex-manager -- who is suing her in a Los Angeles court for breach of contract -- told the court yesteday, Oct. 18, 2012, that "Spears used his client as a 'scapegoat' to cover up her use of amphetamines, including speed, reports AP," says USA Today.

According to the USA Today article, "The accusations refer to the years that Sam Lutfi was Spears' manager, before he was fired from her team in 2008."

Lutfi's attorney, Joseph Schleimer, during his opening statement, showed "photos of Spears with a shaved head and hitting an SUV with an umbrella. He said one of Lutfi's first actions after being hired as manager was having drug-sniffing dogs search the singer's hilltop home," notes the USA Today article.

The article continues about Spears, "'She liked to use amphetamines -- speed or uppers,' said Schleimer, according to E! News. 'She liked to take that drug. And most of the things that went wrong were related to that drug.'"

more »

Reality Star Enters Rehab -- With Camera Crew in Tow

One of the stars of a VH1 reality show entered rehab Monday, with a VH1 camera crew following her through the program, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

"Mob Wives" star Renee Graziano entered Transitions in Miami after a year during which her father was sent to prison after her ex-husband provided evidence on him, the story notes.

“Although Renee Graziano has been admitted to a rehabilitation center, it is not for any current drug or alcohol use of any kind," her representative said. "Her choice to enter rehab was made entirely on her own. She has made this decision for the betterment of her son AJ [Pagan]’s life, as well as to improve her physical, mental and spiritual health.”

A source told the publication the reality star “has had issues with pills in the past but she was clean when she went in on Monday.”

She's expected to stay at the center for 30 days, the story adds.

Renee Graziano is the daughter of former Bonanno family consigliere Anthony “TG” Graziano.

renee-graziano.jpgRenee Graziano

more »

Popular 'SNL' Alum Andy Samberg Lands Lead in Fox Sitcom

A Fox project from "Parks and Recreation" producers Mike Schur and Dan Goor has cast popular former "Saturday Night Live" cast member Andy Samberg to star, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Samberg will play the lead detective in the comedy about a diverse group of police officers, and he will also serve as an executive producer. The single-camera project was bought by Fox with a put-pilot commitment after a bidding war in August, the story notes.

andy-samberg.jpgAndy Samberg

more »

One Company Has Sold Six Projects to ABC This Development Season -- the Latest Is 'Dirty Girls'

ABC has bought a comedy project based on the book "Dirty Girls: The Naked Truth About Our Guilty Secrets" from the Mark Gordon Co., reports Deadline.com.

The sale marks the sixth project of this development season to be sold by Gordon to ABC. The others are "Sex Diaries," "Pros & Cons," "Gothica," an untitled drama co-written by Bob Daily and Pierce Gardner, and the female-oriented soap “Vain,” the story notes.

Moe Jelline of "You Again" will write “Dirty Girls,” which will follow a group of women friends who deal with female secrets, the story says.

more »

Brendan Fraser Making the Move to Small Screen as Star of Drama

"The Mummy" star Brendan Fraser has been cast in his first major scripted television series role, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Fraser will star in TNT's drama pilot "Legends,” the story reports. Fraser has previously appeared on TV in a guest role in "Scrubs" and in the telepic "The Twilight of the Golds," the story notes, and he has done voice work for animated series.

The actor will play an operative called Martin Odum, who can transform himself for different jobs, but whose identity is questioned when a stranger says he might not be who he thinks he is, the story notes.

The project is from "Homeland" executive producer Howard Gordon, and is based on a book from novelist Robert Littell.

more »

Leslie Moonves -- Who Just Received a Cool $22 Million as a Bonus for Re-Upping With CBS -- Says If Sony Puts Its Movie and TV Businesses on the Block, CBS Might Be Interested in Buying Them

If Sony wants to sell its movie and TV businesses, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves says CBS might be interested in buying them, reports The Wall Street Journal. [Note: The WSJ is behind a firewall and might charge you to read this story.]

According to The WSJ, Moonves "confirmed speculation he might be interested in CBS buying Sony Corp.'s film and TV studios businesses in the event they were put up for sale. 'We love our current portfolio, but as a content company, we would want to look at them,' Mr. Moonves said. He cautioned that there were no specific plans right now to do a deal. Sony didn't immediately respond to a request for comment."

The WSJ story notes that "Mr. Moonves also said CBS was prepared to distribute its content directly to viewers, via apps or Web portals, in the event that a la carte pricing and cord-cutting eventually threaten the company's business model."

CBS has just given Moonves a signing bonus worth $22 million after the chief executive signed a contract through the middle of 2017, reports the Associated Press.

The signing bonus includes $7.5 million worth of stock options, with another $14.5 million in restricted stock units that are due in 2013, the story says. That comes on top of an annual salary of $3.5 million and a target bonus of $12 million annually.

more »

J-Lo's ABC Family Pilot Casts Young Disney Channel Star

The ABC Family pilot "The Fosters," from producer Jennifer Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions, has cast "Wizards of Waverly Place" actor Jake T. Austin, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Austin, who just ended four seasons playing Max Russo on Disney Channel's "Wizards," will play Jesus Foster, a teen with a level head who's the opposite of his twin sister, the story notes. The hour-long drama focuses on a mixed-race lesbian couple who have a biological son as well as several adopted children.

The pilot has drawn criticism from the anti-gay conservative group One Million Moms, which is asking its members to protest the project.

jake-t-austin.jpgJake T. Austin

more »

New Research Says Viewers Remain Devoted to TV Programming -- Even Though They're Increasingly Watching It Online and on Tablets

A new study offers encouraging data for TV programmers, indicating that fears of losing viewers to YouTube, Netflix and other new media may be overblown.

Citing research from TVGuide.com, Advertising Age reports that consumers’ dedication to television programming remains strong even as more viewers are watching it online and on tablets.

The survey “found 42% of TV viewers reported watching more streamed content this year over last year,” the story reports, adding: “While the lion's share (73%) of those who were streaming more TV content said it was because they were catching up on missed episodes, 8% said it was because of cutting back on cable and 10% reported it was because they had canceled their cable altogether.”

"That's not to say everyone is cord cutting, or that cord cutting is the dominant factor, but it's a factor," said Christy Tanner, TVGuide executive VP and general manager.

The piece notes that viewers are willing to pay for content. “Of the respondents who pay for video from services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, iTunes and Amazon Instant Video, 30% reported that they're watching more of it now than they did in 2011,” the story reports. “Meanwhile, 68% are watching between one and five hours of video per week on tablets and mobile phones, and mobile users are paying for 10% of their streamed content.”

Please click here to read the complete Advertising Age report.

more »

BBC America Renews Drama Series

BBC America has renewed its first original scripted series for a second season, reports TheWrap.com. The program, "Copper," was renewed before its first-season finale, which is scheduled to air Oct. 21 at 10 p.m., the story notes.

Since debuting in August, the period drama has drawn more than 1 million total viewers each week. The series stars Tom Weston-Jones as a detective working in 1864 New York City.

more »

'Twilight' Producer Sells Projects to NBC, Fox

NBC and Fox have each bought a project from former Paramount Pictures executive and "Twilight" producer Karen Rosenfelt, reports Deadline.com.

The NBC project is a drama called "Town and Gown," written and executive produced by Tom Garrigus of "Everwood." The project is about a former football star and outgoing senator who is tapped as president of his alma mater, a state university, the story notes.

The Fox project is a comedy called "Best Man," written and executive produced by Paul Ruehl of "The Hard Times of RJ Berger." It focuses on a longtime bachelor who helps his best friend's wife after her husband leaves her.

Both projects are from Sunswept's newly debuted TV devision, which is headed by Alex Maggioni. Maggioni, Rosenfelt and Ken Blancato will executive produce both projects.

more »

NBC Cancels Series

NBC has seen enough of one of its new series. Deadline.com reports that the ongoing ratings struggle for the freshman sitcom “Animal Practice” -- including a 1.0 average rating last night in the key 18-49 demo -- convinced NBC to cancel the show.

The network will replace the comedy with “Whitney,” which returns for season two on Nov. 14. “Animal Practice” will hold down the time slot until then.

“It has been a fast fall from grace for ‘Animal Practice,’ whose pilot was previewed during NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympics’ Closing Ceremony,” the report notes. “But the comedy starring Justin Kirk and Crystal the monkey never found traction when it launched last month. Meanwhile, NBC signaled that it may have other plans in store for returning comedies ‘Whitney’ and ‘Community’ last week when it pushed back the shows’ scheduled Friday debut.”

NBC’s only multicamera sitcoms are “Whitney” and “Guys With Kids,” which will run together in the 8 p.m. hour on Wednesdays, the story points out.

more »

Fox News Hires Legendary Former Reporter at The New Yorker, The New York Times and Vanity Fair as Editor-at-Large

Fox News announced today that it has hired an editor-at-large. The cable news channel’s executive vice president, News Editorial, Michael Clemente, announced that the job will go to Peter J. Boyer.

Boyer has been a senior correspondent for Newsweek/Daily Beast. At Fox he will contribute to editorial content across all platforms, reporting to Clemente and Fox News Executive Editor John Moody.

Boyer was recruited by Fox News chief Roger Ailes. “I have followed Peter’s work throughout his storied career,” Ailes said. “He’s a talented and insightful journalist who will add weight and depth to our investigative reporting.”

In its announcement, Fox News noted: “Boyer spent 18 years as a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he wrote on a wide range of subjects, including politics, the military, religion, and sports. Before joining The New Yorker in 1992, Boyer was a national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, the media reporter for The New York Times, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, and a television critic for National Public Radio’s ‘Morning Edition.’”

Boyer won an Emmy and a Peabody Award for his work on PBS’s “Frontline.”

more »

Hallmark Orders Its First Scripted Series and It Will Star Golden Globe-Winning Actress

Hallmark Channel has ordered its first scripted series. The cable network will skip the backdoor pilot stage for the project “Cedar Cove” and is setting it up to run instead as a series, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The original plan for the show, which stars Andie MacDowell, was to air it as a two-hour TV movie, the report notes. Now it will premiere Jan. 19, with additional episodes to come in the spring.

MacDowell won a Golden Globe special award in 1993 that honored the entire ensemble cast of the movie "Short Cuts."

The project is based on the book by Debbie Macomber and will star MacDowell as a small-town family court judge. Dylan Neal will co-star as Jack Griffith, the local newspaper editor and a love interest for MacDowell's character, the story adds.

more »

Donald Trump Offers Relationship Advice to Robert Pattinson -- and Unkind Words for Kristen Stewart

Donald Trump went public with some unsolicited relationship advice for "Twilight" star Robert Pattinson, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The headline-hungry business mogul and “Apprentice” firer-in-chief took to Twitter Wednesday to warn the actor about Kristen Stewart.

“Robert Pattinson should not take back Kristen Stewart,” Trump advised. “She cheated on him like a dog & will do it again--just watch.”

Speculation has been circulating that Stewart and Pattinson, both known for their roles in the “Twilight” movies, have reconciled since the cheating scandal earlier this year. Stewart recently bought a home in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, one mile from the home she used to live in with Pattinson, the story notes.

"He can do much better,” Trump wrote.

more »

Report: CBS Veteran Is Frontrunner to Replace Jeff Zucker on 'Katie'

A frontrunner has reportedly emerged to replace Jeff Zucker as executive producer on Katie Couric's daytime talk show "Katie.” The New York Post reports that the leading contender is David Friedman, a former producer of CBS's "The Early Show.”

As previously reported, Couric's syndicated talk show is searching for a new producer amid speculation that Zucker will soon leave for a top executive position elsewhere.

Hiring Friedman would presumably require Couric to bury some potential bad feelings, since Friedman's father, Paul -- the No. 2 executive at CBS News -- was one of Couric's biggest detractors while she was at CBS, the story notes.

Paul Friedman became known for his putdowns of Couric and for keeping her from appearing outside the evening newscast, the story adds.

Since getting ousted from "The Early Show" last year, David Friedman has been working as a freelance producer. One of his recent projects was the summer game show "Oh, Sit!" for CW.

more »

Legendary ex-WNBC Anchor Points the Blame for Her Famous On-Air F-Bomb

Legendary WNBC-TV anchor Sue Simmons, who was ousted from the New York City station in June, explained why she uttered her infamous f-bomb on air in 2008 -- blaming it in part on her co-anchor, Chuck Scarborough, reports the New York Post.

Simmons, who spoke at the New York Association of Black Journalists, which awarded her a Lifetime Achievement Award, noted, "Chuck had been in his computer Googling a lot lately and not paying attention."

She continued, "I wanted to get his attention so I said, ‘What the f--k are you doing?!’ ” she said. “Would you believe, he still didn’t hear me?”

She added that production assistants hadn't warned her that they were still on the air while promotional teasers ran.

Simmons, 70, was reportedly booted from the station earlier this year because of her high salary.

In case you missed it, here’s an uncensored clip of the original incident:

more »

Discovery Channel, This Time It's Personal. Lance Armstrong Took Your Brand and Pissed on It in Front of the Whole World. Doesn't This Bother You?

Click here to read why TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross is stunned that the Discovery Channel has been silent about the seemingly overwhelming evidence that Lance Armstrong cheated to win his Tour de France championships and lied about his cheating to boot.

more »

Sylvia Kristel Dies -- Actress Starred in Landmark Erotic Film Series

Dutch actress Sylvia Kristel, who played a major role in bringing erotic film into the mainstream with her performances in the “Emmanuelle” series of movies starting in 1974, has died, the U.K.’s The Guardian reports.

Kristel, 60, died after a battle with cancer and after suffering a serious stroke in June of this year, the story reports. Her agent said she died in her sleep during the night.

“Having initially worked as a model, Kristel rose to stardom in ‘Emmanuelle,’ the 1974 tale of a bored, beautiful housewife who embarks on a journey of sexual discovery,” the story reports. “Directed by Just Jaeckin, the softcore drama sent Kristel's character through an endless whirl of skinny dipping, masturbation and the leg-over antics of the Mile High Club. But Emmanuelle's hedonistic worldview struck a chord with mainstream 70s audiences. It went on to become one of the most successful French productions ever, earning upwards of $300m at the box office and famously playing at a cinema near the Arc de Triomphe for 11 years straight.”

The actress later revisited the character for “Emmanuelle 2” and “Goodbye Emmanuelle” and then moved to Hollywood to take roles in mainstream films including “The Concorde ... Airport 79.”

“Kristel would later admit that her U.S. career was blighted by heavy drinking, cocaine use and a nagging inability to shake off her most famous creation,” the report notes. “Back in France in the 1990s, she earned a living in a number of low-rent softcore spinoffs, including ‘Emmanuelle's Love,’ ‘Emmanuelle's Perfume’ and ‘Emmanuelle's Revenge.’”

She later said of her role as a pioneer of the free love era: "Emmanuelle was made in 1973. It was a golden time for people to experiment without risk of AIDS. Now one has to be so much more careful. I don't think a character like that could exist today."

sylvia-kristel.jpgSylvia Kristel in “Emmanuelle”

more »

Newsweek Pulls the Plug on Print Edition After 80 Years

Newsweek magazine has announced that it will cease publication of its print edition and go all-digital at the end of the year, The New York Times reports.

“Tina Brown, founder of the Daily Beast Web site and the driving force behind its merger with Newsweek, announced the move on Thursday in a message on the Daily Beast co-written with Baba Shetty, the recently hired chief executive,” the paper reports.

Brown says in the message: “We are announcing this morning an important development at Newsweek and The Daily Beast. Newsweek will transition to an all-digital format in early 2013. As part of this transition, the last print edition in the United States will be our Dec. 31 issue.”

She adds: “Regrettably we anticipate staff reductions and the streamlining of our editorial and business operations both here in the U.S. and internationally.”

The magazine published its first edition almost 80 years ago, on Feb. 17, 1933. The all-digital version will be offered on a paid subscription basis and will be called Newsweek Global, The Times story reports.

“Newsweek established a venerable place in the American media landscape, competing ferociously with Time magazine week in and week out to bring news to several million readers. In the pre-Internet era, before a constant stream of real-time information was available, the two magazines were viewed as among the best sources of news and analysis -- an attractive product on the newsstand and a highly anticipated arrival in the mailboxes of subscribers,” the piece reports.

“But as the weekly publication cycle became outdated, both magazines struggled to adapt to the Internet age and establish a digital presence, while facing a decline in advertising and circulation.”

Newsweek’s total paid circulation went from 3,158,480 in 2001 to less than half that, 1,527,157, as of June of this year, the story reports, citing the Audit Bureau of Circulation.

“Losses at the weekly continued to mount even after the sale in 2010 to Sidney Harman, a 92-year-old audio magnate,” the report adds. “He bought the property for a dollar and eventually, with Ms. Brown, merged it with the The Daily Beast, the Web site owned by IAC/InterActiveCorp.

The future grew grimmer still after Mr. Harman died in the spring of 2011. His heirs had said they would continue to support the ailing weekly, but last summer the family announced it would no longer invest in the magazine.”

IAC Chairman Barry Diller let it be known he would not continue to underwrite losses, which have been reported to be about $40 million a year.

more »

Who's the Highest-Paid Television Actor?

A new list is out naming the highest-paid actors in television, and at the top of the list, compiled by Forbes magazine, is the star of CBS’s "Two and a Half Men," Ashton Kutcher. The actor, who replaced Charlie Sheen on the comedy series, earned $24 million between May 2011 and May 2012, according to Forbes.com.

Next in line are Hugh Laurie and Ray Romano, who reportedly each earned $18 million during the period. Laurie recently finished his run on Fox’s "House," which wrapped at the end of its eighth season in April, the story notes. Romano’s “Men of a Certain Age” failed to deliver huge audiences to TNT, but he continues to rake in syndication money for “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

The fourth- and fifth-highest paid TV actors are Alec Baldwin of "30 Rock" and Mark Harmon of "NCIS," both with $15 million in earnings.

Rounding out the top 10 -- or top 11, with a three-way tie for ninth place: Tim Allen ($14 million), Jon Cryer ($13 million), Patrick Dempsey ($12 million), Jim Parsons ($8 million), Johnny Galecki ($8 million), Jason Segel ($8 million).

One of the actors dropping off the list this year is Charlie Sheen, the story notes.

"Sheen isn’t the only member of last year’s top 10 who’s dropped off (though Sheen might return in the future thanks to his great deal on the show 'Anger Management'),” the piece reports. “Steve Carrell, who ranked third last year with $15 million in earnings, left the NBC sitcom 'The Office' in 2011, and the world of television, so now he’ll need to prove himself as a movie star.”

ashton-kutcher.jpgAshton Kutcher

more »

Uma Thurman Stakes a Claim to All-Time Most Unusual Celebrity Baby Name -- and While We're at It, Here's a List of Some of the Weirder Ones

Uma Thurman has joined the ranks of celebrities who have saddled their offspring with unusual names, Entertainment Weekly reports. Following in the footsteps of “Apple,” “Suri,” “Bronx Mowgli” and others, Thurman reportedly named her new baby girl “Rosalind Arusha Arkadina Altalune Florence Thurman-Busson.”

A rep for Thurman gave a statement to People magazine saying the little girl is “better known to family and friends as Luna.”

Commenting on the long-form variation, Hillary Busis writes in EW.com’s PopWatch: “It’s so strange, so alliterative, and so long that I’m certain it has to qualify as the most unusual celebrity baby name of all time -- even though there’s been plenty of competition.”

The baby was born July 15, but Thurman and her boyfriend, Arpad Busson, waited until now to reveal her name.

EW adds: “Here’s an explanation for those three ‘A’ names in the middle: Arusha is a city in Tanzania. Arkadina is the surname of a character in Anton Chekhov’s play ‘The Seagull.’ Altalune may be a variation on ‘alta luna,’ Italian for ‘high moon’ -- and the name of a brand of wine.”

The EW report notes a number of other quirky celebrity baby names. Among them:

Memphis Eve and Elijah Bob Patricius Guggi Q, daughter and son of Bono

Petal Blossom Rainbow, daughter of Jamie Oliver

Pilot Inspektor, son of Jason Lee

Moxie Crimefighter and Zolten, daughter and son of Penn Jillette

Jermajesty, son of Jermaine Jackson

Seven Sirius, Puma Sabti, and Mars Merkaba, Andre Benjamin and Erykah Badu’s kids

Moon Unit, Dweezil, and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen, three of Frank Zappa’s four children

more »

Second Presidential Debate Draws 65.6 Million Viewers; One Cable Network Matches Its Largest-Ever Audience

The second debate between President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney drew 65.6 million viewers, just slightly down from the numbers for the first debate on Oct. 3, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

Millions more watched in public places or on computers, but those viewers weren't counted in Nielsen's numbers, the story points out.

NBC and ABC drew 13.8 million and 12.4 million viewers, respectively, while CBS attracted 8.9 million viewers.

The biggest cable audience was on Fox News, which drew 11.1 million viewers. That number equaled Fox News' biggest audience in its 16-year history, the story points out, with the network reaching that number just once before: during the 2008 vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.

CNN had 5.77 million and MSNBC attracted 4.87 million, the piece notes.

more »

Baseball Rain Delay Triggers 'Total F Up' for Fox and 'X Factor,' Sets Up Another Showdown Between 'X Factor' and NBC's 'The Voice'

Fox's "The X Factor" and NBC's "The Voice" will once again go head-to-head after a baseball rain delay caused Fox -- after a series of glitches -- to reschedule Wednesday's episode, reports Deadline.com.

Simon Cowell, the creator of "X Factor," wrote on Twitter that the scheduling situation amounted to "a total f up," the story notes.

"Fox first attempted to air 'X Factor' tonight [Wednesday] as scheduled on the East Coast despite a baseball rain delay that bled into primetime," the story reports. "After getting word that Game 3 of NLCS wouldn’t resume before the end of Fox’s primetime at 10 PM ET, the network began airing 'X Factor' on the East Coast at about 8:40 PM. But about an hour later, word came that the game would start momentarily, prompting Fox to pull the 'X Factor' feed to switch back to baseball. However, the game did not start right away but after a portion of a 'Mindy Project' repeat. Compounding Fox’s woes tonight, a technical error had the East Coast feed of 'The X Factor' air simultaneously on the West Coast.”

Eventually, an “X Factor” repeat was set to air Wednesday night on the West Coast, the story reports, while the episode that was scheduled to air -- which includes the conclusion of the so called “Judges’ Homes” round -- was moved to next Tuesday, when the full two hours will air.

The scheduling change means "The X Factor" will pre-empt Fox's new Tuesday comedy block. That marks a second delay for the shows "New Girl" and "The Mindy Project," after they were pre-empted for the presidential debate this week.

"Now their return will be delayed for another week, a very disruptive move, especially for a new series," the article notes.

“The X Factor” and “The Voice” competed directly against each other early in the fall season, on Wednesday, Sept. 12. As previously reported, NBC’s “The Voice” had the edge in head-to-head ratings, but Fox won the night.

more »

CBS Cooks Up a New Reality Show

CBS is tapping into an overseas format to come up with a new reality show, EW.com’s Inside TV reports. The network will remake the U.K. competition show "The Great British Bake Off" for U.S. audiences.

With the working title "Bake Off," the show is expected to debut in 2013. It will feature amateur bakers as they compete in challenges to win the title, the story notes. Richard McKerrow, who executive produced "The Great British Bake Off," will executive produce the U.S. version.

The British version of the show aired its season three finale Tuesday on BBC2, the report notes. It delivered the show’s biggest audience to date: 6.5 million viewers.

more »

'Superman' Creator's Heirs Suffer Legal Setback

The heirs of one of the co-creators of “Superman,” locked in a legal battle with Warner Bros. over the rights to most widely recognized superhero, suffered a major setback Wednesday in court, the Los Angeles Times reports. A federal judge denied an effort by the heirs of Joseph Shuster to regain their 50% interest in the character, the piece reports.

"Superman is one of Warner's most valuable characters, having generated more than $500 million at the domestic box office with five films and billions of dollars more from television series such as 'Smallville,' toys and games, and 74 years’ worth of comic books," the story notes.

If Warner Bros. had lost the case, the studio would have had to reach an expensive new agreement with the estate of co-creators Shuster and Jerry Siegel, the story notes. In the absence of an agreement, the story says, the studio “would have soon been unable to continue using certain key elements of the Superman mythos -- including his super strength and speed, secret identity as Clark Kent and girlfriend Lois Lane.”

The judge granted summary judgment in favor of Warner Bros., citing a 1992 agreement between Warner subsidiary DC Comics and Shuster's sister and brother as binding, the story notes.

The Shuster family is expected to appeal. "We respectfully disagree with [the order’s] factual and legal conclusions,” said the Shusters' attorney, Marc Toberoff, in an email, according to the story.

more »

Rap Artist/Reality Star Arrested

A rap musician known for his appearances on a number of reality shows was arrested Wednesday in Las Vegas, CNN reports. Flavor Flav -- whose real name is William J. Drayton -- was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and battery, according to police.

The case reportedly involves Flav’s fiancee of eight years, Elizabeth Trujillo. “Police were called to their house on the city's south side at 3:30 a.m., according to a domestic battery report issued by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department,” the story reports.

Flav, 53, was a member of the seminal hip-hop group Public Enemy before becoming a reality TV regular known for his appearances on VH1’s “Flavor of Love,” “Strange Love” and “The Surreal Life.”

The domestic battery report says Flav and Trujillo became involved in a "verbal altercation due to Drayton cheating on Trujillo," and after the confrontation moved to the downstairs bedroom, "Drayton became physical."

"Trujillo stated Drayton grabbed her by the shoulders, stomach and arms, and threw her to the ground two separate times," the report says, according to CNN. It adds that Trujillo had an earring ripped out of her ear during the encounter.

“At that point, Trujillo's 17-year-old son, Gibran, began wrestling with Drayton in the living room of the four-bedroom, 2-1/2-bath house, Trujillo told police,” CNN reports. “Drayton -- who is 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs 131 pounds -- grabbed two knives from the kitchen and chased his fiancee's son -- who is 6 feet, 175 pounds -- ‘around the living room, threatening to kill Gibran,’ the teen told police, according to the report.”

Flav later reportedly kicked in a door and threatened to kill Gibran, the story says.

Flav was scheduled for a hearing today in connection with the incident.

flavor-flav.jpgFlavor Flav

more »

ABC Exec Migrates to NBC

Another top ABC executive is making the move to NBC, Deadline.com reports. Following the move two months ago by Jeff Bader, ABC’s top scheduler, his second-in-command, VP Steve Kern, will be joining Bader at NBC, the story reports.

“NBC has named Kern SVP, Program Planning & Scheduling, NBC Entertainment, reporting to Bader,” the story reports. “The move is not surprising as Bader and Kern are known to be very close having worked together for the past 12 years. In his role at NBC, Kern will be responsible for planning and directing the program scheduling function for NBC’s primetime scripted, Alternative and Late Night programming.”

Said Bader: “Steve’s experience in scheduling combined with his broad knowledge of the network television business will make him a valuable addition to the NBC team.”

The report adds: “During his tenure at ABC, Kern was a key member of the network’s scheduling team involved in major network program schedule moves, such as the launch of ABC’s successful Wednesday night comedy block in 2009 anchored by ‘Modern Family.’”

more »

TNT Greenlights Frank Darabont Crime Drama Based on Famous L.A. Mobster

TNT announced today that it has greenlighted a new crime series from executive producers Frank Darabont (“The Walking Dead,” “The Shawshank Redemption”), Michael De Luca (“The Social Network,” “Moneyball”) and Elliot Webb (“Tall Time Tales”).

The network ordered six episodes, to be produced by TNT Originals. The project is still untitled.

“Based on the critically acclaimed book ‘L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City’ by John Buntin, the story chronicles the epic battle between Los Angeles Police Chief William Parker and mobster Mickey Cohen,” the network reported. “Alissa Phillips (‘Moneyball’) of Michael De Luca Productions serves as co-executive producer. Darabont wrote and directed the pilot. The show, which will air on TNT and Turner networks around the world, will be distributed by TBS International outside of the United States and Canada.”

To read the full press release from TNT, please click here.

more »

Another Sponsor Bails Out on Tarnished Cyclist Lance Armstrong

A second major blue-chip sponsor has decided it can no longer have Lance Armstrong as a spokesperson for its product., afte ra major report came out last week linking the cyclist wide-ranging doping activities and stripped him of his seven Tour de France victories.

Reuters reports that Anheuser-Busch is the latest marketer to cut ties with Armstrong. The move follows word earlier today that Nike was bailing out on its connections with Armstrong, as we reported previously.

Armstrong was originally signed in a three-year deal on Oct. 6, 2009 to be the "spokesperson and ambassador" for A-B's Michelob ULTRA beer brand.

Armstrong was pictured on the beer's website with this copy: "Living the ULTRA is about enjoying life to the fullest.  That's why Michelob ULTRA has chosen seven-time Tour de France winner and cycling icon Lance Armstrong as the ULTRA spokesperson. No one embodies the ULTRA attitude and lifestyle more. Whether he's cycling through a mountain pass, raising money for charity or relaxing with a Michelob ULTRA, Lance is always focused on living life to its fullest. Find out more about Lance and his projects at lancearmstrong.com and livestrong.org."

According to the Reuters report, “Anheuser-Busch, the brewer of Budweiser, on Wednesday said it would not renew its relationship with Lance Armstrong at the end of 2012, but will continue to support the embattled former professional cycling racer's cancer charity,"

In another development, Armstrong stepped down as chairman of his cancer foundation Livestrong, as reported earlier.

RadioShack has also severed ties with Armstrong, USA Today reports.

TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross blogged last week about the Armstrong situation. Please click here to read that piece.

more »

'Suburgatory' Character Jumps From the Show Into Ad Breaks -- Is This the Future of the TV Business?

As part of a trend designed to get viewers of television programming to stick around for the commercials, ABC’s “Suburgatory” is letting a character from the show stray into commercials for Lowe’s, Advertising Age reports.

“TV networks are allowing characters from the shows to stick around for a while and hawk product,” the piece reports. “On Wednesday, Sheila Shay, a butt-insky neighbor known for the attention she dollops on her garden, home and the lives of those living around her in the sitcom's fictional suburb of Chatswin, will hold forth on the advantages of buying goods at Lowe's and using the home-improvement retail chain's MyLowe's tool to track purchases and organize their homes.”

"This is what all of our clients are asking for, and it's only going to increase," says Claudia Cahill, chief content officer at Omnicom Group's OMD, which helped put the deal together on Lowe's behalf. "It's just the future of the business."

The report adds: “The simple truth is that TV fans don't tune in to see the ads; they switch the set on (or seek out programming on digital devices) to see the shows themselves. By taking specific characters from favorite programs and letting them loose as pitchmen in the commercial breaks, advertisers and TV networks hope to keep couch potatoes' gaze upon the screen and their hands off the remote or mouse or iPhone home button.”

Click here to read Ad Age’s in-depth report.

more »

Romney Continues Using 'Friday Night Lights' Motto

Despite a request from Peter Berg, the executive producer of the award-winning drama "Friday Night Lights," Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney continues to use the motto from the show "Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose," reports The Washington Post.

Before entering last night's debate arena, Romney touched a sign that boasted the signature phrase, in direct defiance of Berg's letter to the candidate requesting that he cease using those words.

Berg wrote the following to Gov. Romney: "Your politics and campaign are clearly not aligned with the themes we portrayed in our series.” Berg went on to compare Romney to the show's character Buddy Garrity, a good old boy who was determined and tough and broke the rules to get his way.

Romney's campaign has seemingly ignored Berg's request. The slogan remains on the Romney campaign Facebook page.

Click here to see Berg’s full letter, which he sent last week.

more »

'A Whole New Level of Integration': Marketers Have a 'Legendary' Product Line to Launch -- and a TV Strategy They Hope Will Be Legendary Too

Marketers Target and Neiman Marcus have formed a partnership on a new product line, and now they’re bringing in another partner: the ABC show “Revenge.”

Advertising Age reports that the marketers, who are collaborating on a holiday collection, want to make a big splash with an exclusive sponsorship of the Nov. 11 episode of of the popular drama series.

“Target's Neiman Marcus collection will be the exclusive sponsor of the Nov. 11 episode of ‘Revenge,’ the ‘midseason finale’ of the soapy Sunday-night series,” the piece reports. “About 10 minutes' worth of content from the marketers will unspool during the ad breaks, which viewers will have to follow across the entire hour of the drama in order to understand the story the advertiser is trying to tell.”

The collection, which includes everything from cookie cutters to clutches and sweatshirts to sunglasses created by a dozen designers, launches Dec. 1 at both Target and Neiman Marcus. "Revenge" actress Christa Allen, who appeared briefly at a media event unveiling the collection, said one of the reasons viewers tune in to “Revenge” each week is to see the luxe Hamptons lifestyle. She said the collection will fit in just fine, as it's full of "gold-plated deliciousness."

“Target and Neiman Marcus approached ABC in the late summer about using the show as a promotional springboard,” the story reports. “Target's chief marketer Jeff Jones says the goal is for its sponsorship of ‘Revenge’ to be a ‘moment in marketing history that people remember.’”

Jones adds: "We swung big. We said we have no preconceptions. We want this to be as legendary as [the products] we're launching. Mike Kelley [the show's creator] took that on as a personal creative mission to see how far we could integrate it."

Jones describes the “Revenge” marketing effort as a "storyline that's a subplot of the main episode, not just a takeover, not product placement. It's a whole new level of integration."

To read the full report from Advertising Age, please click here.

more »

Why Jeff Zucker Might Leave 'Katie' Soon

Katie Couric’s syndicated talk show "Katie" has a search under way for a new producer amid speculation that executive producer Jeff Zucker plans to leave the show, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

"I hear talks with potential candidates are under way, and a hire is expected within the next couple of weeks," Andreeva writes.

She adds: "Zucker has a major financial interest in 'Katie' (some sources indicate he is poised to pocket $8 million from the $20 million guarantee to Couric and him), and is not likely to leave without a succession plan in place.”

Zucker, who previously ran NBCUniversal, appears to be in demand among major media companies, and it is expected that he will land another top executive position. His name has surfaced as a possible replacement for CNN Worldwide President Jim Walton, who will leave at year-end, and Zucker has also been mentioned for the CEO role at Tribune.

“As for ‘Katie,’ it has not been a breakout success of the likes of ‘Dr. Phil,’ ‘Rachael Ray’ or ‘Ellen,’ but its ratings have stabilized after an initial slip,” the story reports. “Last week, the show continued to lead all freshman talkers in households (1.9/5, up a tenth from the previous week). It also was up a tenth in women 25-54 (1.0/6), a category where ‘Katie’ has been running neck-and-neck with fellow newbie ‘Steve Harvey.’ Among all syndicated talk shows, ‘Katie’ finished No. 5 in household and No. 4 in women 25-54.”

more »

Freshman Talker 'Steve Harvey' Thriving on NBC O&O's -- but the Syndie Lead-In to 'Harvey' Appears to Be in Trouble

The new syndicated daytime talk show “Steve Harvey” has blossomed into a strong companion program and lead-in for “Ellen” on the NBC Owned Television Stations, with both the programs and the stations benefiting from the relationship, TVNewsCheck reports. But another new talk show, “Jeff Probst,” which leads in to the “Harvey”/”Ellen” pairing in five key markets, has faltered, the report notes.

Other syndicators are circling in the hopes of snatching the “Probst” time slots, the story says. “Probst” leads in to “Harvey”/”Ellen” in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Hartford, Conn.

“At least two of the major syndicators would like to supply a replacement,” the story reports. “Sony Pictures Television is pitching ‘Queen Latifah’ and NBCUniversal is said to be developing a show tailor-made for the group’s daytime schedule.”

Says one syndication executive, referring to the “Probst” situation: “Just a few weeks ago, NBC stations had an entire afternoon of problems. Now, in just a few weeks, after having a daytime problem for years, they have [only] one problem.”

The NBC O&O’s, the story reports, have become “the key to the first-run broadcast syndication marketplace” -- and eight of the 10 stations are looking for a replacement for CBS Television Distribution’s “Probst.”

“In the past, the NBC stations were the launch group of last resort. But the group may finally have shaken its loser image. Last year, NBC gave homes to two new high-profile shows -- ‘Probst’ and ‘Steve Harvey’ from NBCUniversal,” the story reports. “While Probst has flopped, Harvey has blossomed into a solid companion and lead-in for 'Ellen.' In three markets, 'Harvey' and 'Ellen' air at 2 and 3 p.m.; in five others, at 3 and 4.”

Ratings this month for “Harvey” on the NBC-owned stations have improved the time slot average by 89% from a year ago, to a 1.7 household rating, based on Nielsen weighted ratings, the story reports. “It’s up 140% among women 25-54 to a 1.2,” the report says. “’Ellen,’ which leads out of ‘Harvey,’ is up 28% in households to a 2.3. It’s up 23% in women 25-54 to a 1.6 rating.”

The report adds: “As the syndicator that brought ‘Harvey’ to the NBC stations last year, NBCUniversal may have the inside track on providing the ‘Probst’ replacement. It also doesn't hurt that NBCUniversal is a member of the same corporate family (Comcast).”

A rep for NBC said it’s too soon to comment about fall 2013.

more »

Kate Gosselin Fired From Latest Gig. Boss Said: 'You're not a good fit' Here.

"Kate Plus 8" star Kate Gosselin has been fired from her latest job, People reports. She had been blogging at the website CouponCabin.

Here's a note about the firing posted by CouponCabin CEO Scott Kluth on the site:

To all our Kate blog readers:

Some nine-plus years ago, I started CouponCabin with the thought of creating a single website that had all the best coupons… no gimmicks, no fluff, just a site that was easy to use and that had great deals. Along the way, we’ve helped our users collectively save hundreds of millions of dollars.

A series of recent events have made it clear to me that Kate Gosselin and her contributions do not align with the authenticity which we set out to build almost a decade ago, and that Ms. Gosselin is simply not a good fit with the wonderful team and culture at CouponCabin.

It’s with this that I am writing to inform you of our decision to discontinue Ms. Gosselin’s feature blog on CouponCabin.com. Ms. Gosselin’s contributions garnered both positive attention and criticism, but as always, I respect and appreciate your candid opinions, which often encourage us not to lose sight of our mission — to help YOU save money.

We wish Kate, her family and her support staff all the best.

No specifics about why Gosselin was let go were mentioned in any of the media reports we saw. The People article added that Gosselin "wrote Tuesday [Oct. 16, 2012] on Twitter: 'Good afternoon! I'm alive! I've been super busy working away! I'm having lots of fun and can't wait to share! No worries..we will chat soon! XO.'

"Gosselin fretted about her financial prospects from the moment [her show on] TLC was canceled. 'I'm freaking out. Big time,' she told PEOPLE at the time, and vowed to go back to her old nursing job 'if nothing comes up.' " 

more »

Racy Nick Jr. Programming Block Triggers Protest

A new block of programming from Nick Jr. has sparked protests from some parents, who are asking advertisers to pull support for the shows, reports MediaLife.com.

The protest is aimed at the adult programming block NickMom, which features shows such as "What Was Carol Brady Thinking" and the hidden camera show “Parental Discretion.” “Carol Brady” updates “Brady Bunch” reruns with Brady mom Carol's supposed real thoughts during the episodes -- such as "Does Mike think needlepoint is foreplay?," the story notes.

The website CancelNickMom instructs parents on how to contact Nick Jr. advertisers to request that they stop supporting the programming. Parenting sites such as Babycenter have dozens of commentators saying they don't like the programming changes, the piece adds.

So far, the ratings haven't been stellar, with the four shows in the two-hour block, which airs from 10 p.m. to midnight, averaging just 165,000 viewers for the week ended Oct. 14. That's less than one-third of what the network averaged for the week in prime time.

more »

Romney's 'Binders Full of Women' Becomes an Internet Sensation

The most lasting impression from Tuesday night’s second presidential debate may have been made by an awkwardly phrased comment by Republican challenger Mitt Romney. The Los Angeles Times reports that Romney’s remark about “binders full of women” has taken on a life of its own on the Internet.

“Minutes after Mitt Romney claimed that he brought ‘binders full of women’ to his cabinet in Massachusetts, the phrase was lighting up Twitter and had already spawned a new website,” the story reports. “The website http://bindersfullofwomen.tumblr.com/ mocks Romney’s comment with a clever array of visuals including a Trapper Keeper -- a binder of yore, for those too cool to remember -- emblazoned with a single word in pink neon: ‘Women.’ The site also shows a photo of Hillary Rodham Clinton, wearing sunglasses, with a bubble out of her mouth that says, ‘Romney still uses binders? LOL.’

“At the top of the page is a picture of Romney, with a speech bubble that quotes the binders comment, and shows a stack of binders next to photos of Taylor Swift, Paris Hilton, and Kim Kardashian.”

Romney made the remark during the debate with President Obama at Hofstra University, where much of the focus was on appealing to women voters. Romney, the story reports, “recalled that when he assembled his cabinet when he was governor of Massachusetts ‘we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.

“’I went to a number of women's groups and said, “Can you help us find folks,” and they brought us whole binders full of women.’”

On the day after the debate, “Binders Full of Women” now has its own Facebook page -- which had more than 47,000 likes within about an hour after it first surfaced, the report says.

The phrase was also trending on Twitter. The report notes that New York Times columnist Nick Kristof tweeted: “I see #BindersFullofWomen is trending, but my take is that women should be holding up half the sky, not filling binders.” That tweet was retweeted more than 700 times, the report says.

The piece also notes: “Vanity Fair’s Twitter feed added, ‘Newt Gingrich, watching from home: “Binders Full of Women” is a great name for my memoir.’”

“A liberal ‘super PAC,’ American Bridge, announced that it had purchased the domain name BindersFullOfWomen.com to ‘educate voters on Romney's REAL record on issues important to women,’” the report adds.

more »

Nike Dumps Lance Armstrong; Cyclist Resigns From Position as Chairman of Livestrong

Cyclist Lance Armstrong has been dropped by Nike, on the heels of Armstrong’s resignation from his post as chairman of of his cancer foundation Livestrong, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports.

The moves come one week after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released details of its findings on Armstrong’s alleged use of performance-enhancing substances.

In a statement on its website, Nike said: “Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him. Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs in any manner.”

The statement adds that Nike will continue to support Livestrong initiatives aimed at helping people affected by cancer. Livestrong has reportedly raised more than $470 million since 1997.

Following the release of the extensive USADA report on Oct. 10, 2012, Nike initially indicated it planned to continue to support Armstrong. Here is the statement Nike released at that time -- it was the same statement the company released in August when Armstrong announced he was not going to fight the USADA charges: "We are saddened that Lance Armstrong may no longer be able to participate in certain competitions and his titles appear to be impacted. Lance has stated his innocence and has been unwavering on this position. Nike plans to continue to support Lance and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a foundation that Lance created to serve cancer survivors."

“Mary Remuzzi, a Nike spokeswoman, declined to comment in a telephone interview on the financial details of the contract or why the company changed its stance in the last week on Armstrong, 41, whom it had sponsored since 1996,” the story reports.

The piece adds: “USADA’s report said Armstrong’s career was ‘fueled from start to finish by doping.’ Armstrong, the record seven-time Tour de France winner who had his titles stripped by the Colorado Springs, Colorado-based agency in August, required teammates to use banned substances or face dismissal from his squad, according to a 202-page summary of its case against him.”

Shortly before the USADA report came out, Travis Tygart, chief executive officer of USADA, released a statement saying: “The evidence demonstrates that the ‘Code of Silence’ of performance-enhancing drug use in the sport of cycling has been shattered, but there is more to do. From Day 1, we always hoped this investigation would bring to a close this troubling chapter in cycling’s history and we hope the sport will use this tragedy to prevent it from ever happening again.”

The Bloomberg report notes: “Armstrong has repeatedly denied doping, saying he has never failed a drug test. He said today he was stepping down from Livestrong, which he started in 1996, to ‘spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career.’”

TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross blogged last week about the Armstrong situation. Please click here to read that piece.

more »

Olympic Gold Medalist Slated for 'Pretty Little Liars'

An Olympic gold medalist has been cast in an episode of ABC Family's "Pretty Little Liars," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Missy Franklin, who won four gold medals in swimming at the London Olympics this summer, will appear as herself at The Brew, where she meets Rosewood High swim team member Emily, played by Shay Mitchell. The two will talk about swimming, the story notes.

Franklin, a 17-year-old from Pasadena, Calif., is the world record holder in the 200-meter backstroke (short course and long course). In addition to her four gold medals -- two in individual events and two in relays -- she won a bronze as part of the U.S. 4x100 freestyle relay team.

more »

CW Renews 'Top Model,' Plans Key Change for the Show

The CW has renewed "America's Next Top Model" for its 20th cycle, and will make a major change to the format, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The change will be to include male models for the first time, the story reports.

The show will debut in the summer of 2013, instead of the program's typical fall or winter premiere. Male models will live in the models' house and will compete with the women for the title of America's Next Top Model, the story adds.

more »

Gordon Ramsay Working on NBC Drama Set in a Restaurant

Gordon Ramsay is working with producer Scott Stuber of "Ted" on a drama for NBC that's set in a restaurant, reports Deadline.com.

Created by Liz Garcia and Josh Harto, the creators of TNT’s dramedy "Memphis Beat," the project landed at NBC in a "competitive situation" with Fox, the story notes.

Titled "The Inferno," the project is said to be a dark drama about two New York restaurateurs who hire a mysterious Italian chef. "Smash" director Michael Mayer is attached to direct.

Ramsay will executive produce, along with Garcia, Harto, Mayer and others. The project is from Universal TV with Bluegrass Television and Ramsay's One Potato, Two Potato.

more »

'Bachelorette' Star Ends Engagement

"The Bachelorette" star Emily Maynard and her fiance Jef Holm have ended their engagement, after the two got engaged on the show's finale in July, reports People.com.

"I am sorry to tell you that Jef and I have, indeed, parted ways," Maynard said in a statement. "It was a very difficult and heartbreaking decision."

"[U]ltimately we are just at different points in our lives," she added.

Holm has been spending more time in Los Angeles promoting his company, while Maynard has been quietly living in Charlotte.

more »

'Fashion Star' Strike Settled

The strike on the NBC reality show "Fashion Star" ended four days after crew members walked off the job, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

Production was suspended Saturday when 75 crew members went on strike, but the strike was called off Tuesday evening after the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees union negotiated a new contract with the show's producers, the story notes.

Production is expected to restart today (Wednesday). The program features Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie and others as judges.

more »

'Veronica Mars' Creator Working on 'Metropolis' Adaptation for CW

"Veronica Mars" creator Rob Thomas is working on an adaptation of the U.K. miniseries "Metropolis" for the CW, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The British series, which debuted in 2000 and aired on Granada TV, focused on a group of friends and college graduates and starred James Purefoy and Louise Lombard.

The CW's version will focus on a group of friends who are struggling with aligning their idealistic college views with their adult lives, the story notes. Thomas will write the script and executive produce.

more »

NBC Flexes Its Monday Night Ratings Muscle

NBC continued to show ratings strength on Monday night, with “The Voice” and “Revolution” pushing the network to a big win over its broadcast rivals.

Citing Nielsen overnights, TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC averaged a 4.3 rating for prime time in the key demo of viewers 18-49, easily outpacing CBS (2.6 average), ABC (2.1), Univision (1.5) and Fox (1.3). ABC inched ahead in total viewers, averaging 12.6 million to 11.5 million for NBC, 8.2 million for CBS, 4.8 million for Fox and 3.7 million for Univision.

NBC’s two-hour “The Voice” was the top show of the night, averaging a 4.8 rating in the 18-49 demo -- even with a week ago. “Revolution” delivered a 3.4, up from a 3.0 last week.

CBS was mostly up from last week. “How I Met Your Mother” had a 3.2 in 18-49, up from a 3.1; “Mike & Molly” came through with a 3.0, up from a 2.8; “Partners” was at 2.1, up from a 1.9; and “Hawaii Five-0” came in at 2.0, up from a 1.9. “2 Broke Girls” was down a tick from last week’s 3.4 to a 3.3, but was the network’s highest-rated show.

ABC was down slightly from a week earlier: It’s two-hour “Dancing with the Stars” came in with a 2.1 in the 18-49 demo, down from a 2.2; and “Castle” finished at 2.0, down from a 2.2.

Fox had an MLB playoff game, which came in with a preliminary 1.3 average in 18-49, subject to more than the usual adjustments due to the nature of live programming.

more »

Report: Beyonce Set to Headline Super Bowl Halftime Show

A source is reporting that Beyonce has been tapped to perform during halftime at the upcoming Super Bowl, the Los Angeles Times reports. The game is set for Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans.

An announcement could come as soon as Wednesday, according to media reports.

Beyonce sang the national anthem at the 2004 Super Bowl, which was in Houston, her hometown.

“The ‘Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)’ singer will follow Madonna's conversation-starting set in the 2012 game, which also featured Nicki Minaj and M.I.A.,” the Times reports. “Obvious potential guests for Bey include her husband Jay-Z, who performed a round of sets to open Brooklyn's Barclays Center, and her old bandmates in Destiny's Child.”

The game is being held in New Orleans for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans last hosted a Super Bowl in 2002.

more »

Executive Shakeup at CBS TV Distribution

CBS Television Distribution has confirmed a number of changes its lineup of programming and development executives, B&C reports.

“Maureen FitzPatrick and Joe Ferullo have been promoted to senior VP of programming and development at CBS Television Distribution, both overseeing current programming as well as development of new first-run shows,” the story reports. “Both FitzPatrick and Ferullo will report to Armando Nunez, who two weeks ago added domestic distribution to his duties as president of CBS Global Television. Nunez had been president of CBS Studios International since 2004.”

Additionally, Aaron Meyerson, who has been president of programming and development since being hired in early 2011, is leaving the company.

The report adds: “FitzPatrick joined CTD from FremantleMedia North America, where she was senior vice president of comedy development. She had been with Fremantle since 2006, starting out as vice president of digital content and development. While there, she launched Fremantle's first online channel, Atomic Wedgie TV, and developed the comedy ‘Secret Girlfriend’ for Comedy Central based on an original Web series.”

FitzPatrick’s long string of credits in daytime television includes producing and consulting work with Sony, Buena Vista and Fox TV Studios, on shows including “Living it Up! With Ali & Jack,” “Men Are From Mars, Women are From Venus,” “The Newlywed Game,” “The Dating Game” and “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

“Ferullo has been with CTD since 2006, serving as vice president of programming and development,” the story reports. “He currently oversees some of CTD's top syndicated shows, including ‘Judge Judy,’ ‘Dr. Phil,’ ‘Inside Edition,’ ‘Judge Joe Brown,’ ‘Rachael Ray’ and ‘The Doctors.’”

more »

Fox Renews Animated Series

Fox has announced the renewal of one of its animated series, according to Deadline.com. The network has ordered a fourth season -- 22 episodes -- of “Bob’s Burgers,” the story reports.

The renewal comes after Fox ordered six additional scripts for the show back in August.

Said Fox Chairman Kevin Reilly: “We love ‘Bob’s.’ We are really proud of the way the show has grown over the past three seasons -- without losing the unique voice at its core -- and we know that the best is yet to come for ‘Bob’s Burgers’ and its fans.”

The report notes: “While not a breakout, ‘Bob’s Burgers’ has been an OK ratings performer and a favorite of Fox’s brass. It recently was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program. Airing for the first time in the fall in the hammock 8:30 PM slot between ‘The Simpsons’ and ‘Family Guy,’ ‘Bob’s Burgers’ has posted the greatest year-to-year growth of any returning broadcast series in the male demos, according to Fox.”

more »

Cable Channel Lays Off Employees

As part of a major restructuring, a cable channel today laid off dozens of staffers, TVNewser.com reports. In its first layoffs since November 2008, The Weather Channel reportedly cut an estimated 75-80 employees.

The channel’s Atlanta headquarters was hit hardest, according to the report.

The channel confirmed in a statement that it is cutting positions companywide, indicating about 7% of the work force would be impacted.

The company said in the statement: “In late September we began an effort to reorganize our company into business units based around our customers and the products and services we create and deliver to them. This effort was recently concluded and has resulted in the elimination of positions in several divisions of the company. With these organizational changes and our new structure, we are better positioned for future growth. Employees who are directly affected by this position elimination or reorganization are being informed and we are working closely with them through this period of transition.”

The report notes: “In the past few weeks a number of on-air meteorologists announced that they were leaving the company, including 14-year employee Adam Berg and 27-year employee Jeff Morrow. It isn’t clear if their departures are related to the wave of layoffs that hit the channel today.”

more »

Three Weeks Into Fall Season, Most Broadcast Networks Are Down Significantly -- With One Big Exception

The fall season so far has been less than stellar for the broadcast networks from a ratings standpoint, with one big exception: NBC.

Citing Nielsen data the network reports that its average rating in the key demo of adults 18-49 is up 15% from last fall through the first three weeks of the season. All of the other Big 4 networks are down: CBS, down 24%; Fox, down 19%; and ABC, down 12%.

NBC won each of the first three weeks of the fall season in the 18-49 demo. For the three weeks overall, the Peacock Network is averaging a 3.0 rating in prime time, ahead of CBS’s 2.6, Fox’s 2.5 and ABC’s 2.3.

NBC is touting its ratings results as its strongest start to a fall season in 10 years, since fall 2002. The network notes that ratings for week one are calculated on the basis of “live plus seven day” data, while figures for weeks two and three at this point are based on “live plus same day” data.

Commenting on the fall ratings results to date, NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt said: “We’re rebuilding NBC brick by brick, so it’s going to take time. That said, we are very pleased about what we’ve seen so far this season, especially from some of our new series.”

more »

HBO Sets Premiere Dates

HBO has announced the dates for the return of two series, TheWrap.com reports. Returning for their second seasons will be "Girls" and "Enlightened."

Season two of “Girls,” consisting of 10 episodes, will premiere Jan. 13 at 9 p.m. It will be followed by the season two premiere of “Enlightenment,” Jan. 13 at 9:30 p.m.

"Enlightenment," which stars Laura Dern, tells the story of an ambitious corporate exec trying to live a more enlightened life after a public breakdown. The dramedy, executive produced by Mike White, will also have a 10-episode season.

more »

'X Factor' Officially Signs Two New Co-Hosts

"The X Factor" has officially signed two familiar television personalities as its new co-hosts, TMZ.com reports. The Fox singing competition signed Mario Lopez and Khloe Kardashian, the story reports.

Both have signed their contracts after being close to deals for months, the story notes. They will replace former host Steve Jones, who got the boot in a housecleaning last winter by show creator Simon Cowell, as previously reported.

The salaries of Kardashian and Lopez are expected to add millions to the show's budget, although the story doesn't disclose how much either will be paid. The pair will debut in November.

more »

Fox Sitcom Taps Actor Best Known for Two Iconic Oddball Roles

A veteran actor best known for two iconic oddball roles -- one on TV and one in film -- will be a part of the Fox comedy series “Raising Hope,” EW.com’s Inside TV reports. “Taxi” and "Back to the Future" star Christopher Lloyd has been tapped for a guest appearance on the Fox show, the piece reports.

Lloyd will appear in an episode with a "Back to the Future" theme, playing a loan collector who calls on the Chance family to collect on old debt, the story says. (Minor spoiler alert ...)

Lloyd will drive a DeLorean -- the make of the time-traveling car in the "Back to the Future" movies, the piece notes. Lloyd had a tour-de-force performance as Emmett “Doc” Brown in the “Back to the Future” trilogy from 1985-1990.

Lloyd's most recent prime-time television role was an appearance on Fox's "Fringe" last year, the story notes. But he’s best remembered on television for his work as the burned-out hippie Jim Ignatowski on the late-‘70s/early-‘80s ABC sitcom “Taxi.” Lloyd won two of his three Emmys for “Taxi,” adding another win for Disney Channel’s “Avonlea” in 1992.

Here’s a look at a fondly remembered moment featuring Lloyd as Jim on “Taxi”:

more »

Golden Globes to Reunite Two 'SNL' Alums as Emcees

The Golden Globes have tapped two former “Saturday Night Live” stars to emcee the next awards ceremony, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

The job will reunite Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who previously worked together on "Saturday Night Live" and who both went on to star in NBC comedies -- Fey on “30 Rock” and Poehler on “Parks and Recreation.”

“Tina and Amy have a proven chemistry and comedic timing from their many years together on 'SNL' to their successful co-starring roles in 'Baby Mama,'" said Paul Telegdy, president of alternative and late-night programming, NBC Entertainment. He added that getting both to sign on for the awards show "is a major coup."

The 70th annual Golden Globes are scheduled for Jan. 13.

more »

'American Idol' Alum Joins 'Glee'

"Glee" has tapped a former "American Idol" contestant for a role on the Fox musical series, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Jessica Sanchez, who was a runner-up on “Idol” in season 11, will have a recurring role on “Glee,” the story reports.

Details about her role weren't available, although it's thought the 17-year-old Sanchez might play a love interest for Finn, played by Cory Monteith, the piece notes.

Sanchez has been working on recording tracks for her debut CD and performed last Wednesday at the 2012 City of Hope Spirit of Life Awards Gala, the story adds.

jessica-sanchez.jpgJessica Sanchez

more »

Mitt Romney Backs Out of Scheduled Appearance on 'The View'

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has canceled on "The View," reports EW.com's Inside TV. Romney had scheduled the appearance for Thursday, but now only his wife, Ann, will appear, the story notes.

On the program's Monday broadcast, Barbara Walters said, "Over the weekend, his people said that he had scheduling problems and would not be coming on with us. Nor at this point did he feel that he could reschedule."

As previously reported, Romney in September was captured on tape giving his thoughts on "The View," calling the show "high risk because of the five women on it." But Romney booked the appearance soon after the tape surfaced.

On the tape, he describes most of the co-hosts of “The View” as “sharp-tongued” and notes that only one of the five women is conservative.

more »

First Amendment vs. Civil Rights Law: Gavel Comes Down in Lawsuit Against ABC's 'The Bachelor'

A class-action lawsuit against the ABC reality franchise "The Bachelor" alleging racial discrimination by the show has been dismissed, with a judge for the U.S. District Court in Tennessee ruling that the suit’s civil rights argument doesn’t stand up to First Amendment review, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq.

The lawsuit was brought by Nashville residents and led by Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson, who alleged that the roles of Bachelor and Bachelorette on the reality shows failed to include non-white cast members. They argued that civil rights law "plainly prohibits whites from refusing to contract with African Americans because of their race."

But the defendants, ABC and Warner Horizon Television, argued that the First Amendment protects them against such claims, and the judge agreed.

"As defendants persuasively argue, casting decisions are a necessary component of any entertainment show's creative content," the judge wrote. "In this respect, casting and the resulting work of entertainment are inseparable and must both be protected to ensure that the producers' freedom of speech is not abridged."

more »

President Obama Wades Into 'American Idol' Diva Feud

President Barack Obama has voiced his thoughts on the feud between "American Idol" judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, expressing confidence that the divas will work out their differences, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Obama made the comments on a radio show hosted by Michael Yo over the weekend, the story notes. "I think that they are going to be able to sort it out," Obama said. "I am confident."

"I think both outstanding artists are going to be able to make sure that they're moving forward and not going backwards," he added.

Asked which judge was his favorite, Obama didn't hold back. "Mariah," he said. "She's actually done some events for us. I've gotten to know her and [husband] Nick [Cannon]. She's a wonderful lady. Nicki I don't know, but I've got her on my iPod."

more »

After Reports Swirl That Paul Shaffer Might Leave 'Late Show,' Shaffer Says He's Staying Put -- and His Comments Were Misconstrued

Paul Shaffer, the longtime sidekick and bandleader to late-night host David Letterman, told The Hollywood Reporter that his comments in an earlier interview were misconstrued and that he has no intention to leave "Late Show with David Letterman."

“In an interview with a reporter, I made two unrelated points which, joined together, seem to say something that isn’t true," Shaffer said. "It’s true that the show was recently extended for two years, and yes, someday when it’s all over, I will most likely take a nap. But I hope that day never comes. As long as the show goes on, I will be there for as long as Dave wants me on it."

As previously reported, Shaffer in an earlier interview was quoted as saying, "We’ve been on 30 years so now we’ve got another two years. … I’m going to be certainly ready to lie down after that, take a nap."

Shaffer earns a reported $5 million a year for his role on the program, THR notes.

paul-shaffer.jpgPaul Shaffer

more »

Aussie Version of '60 Minutes' Airs Show About Lance Armstrong. Show Included Never Before Aired Footage of Armstrong Being Questioned, Under Oath, About Taking Drugs. See the Video

The Australian version of "60 Minutes" -- called "Four Corners" -- has broadcast a news report about Lance Armstrong that includes the only time he was questioned under oath about taking drugs while a professional cyclist.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp.'s "Four Corners," its well-respected TV investigative newsmagazine, went on the air seven years before "60 Minutes" debuted on CBS in 1968 -- premiering Aug. 19, 1961 and marking its 50th anniversary last year.

Here's a short excerpt of Armstrong's testimony, under oath, that was shown on "Four Corners" on Monday, Oct. 15, 2012. Its airing on the show was the first time the video has been shown to the public. The testimony was a deposition -- from November 2005 -- that Armstrong gave when a company that was supposed to pay him millions of dollars for repeatedly winning the Tour de France balked because accusations had been made that Armstrong used drugs during the race. We would strongly urge you to watch the entire show, which lasts about 45 minutes. Here's a link to it.

And now, the excerpt:

more »

NBC Making a Second Try at Comedy Project

A comedy project that was shelved once by NBC is getting a second chance, Deadline.com reports. The project is based on the book “Life as I Blow It” by "Chelsea Lately" panelist and writer Sarah Colonna.

The project was originally developed last year with Colonna writing and Danielle Sanchez supervising, the story notes.

NBC is taking another shot at the project, bringing in Denise Moss of “Hackett” to write and executive produce. Colonna will now co-write with Moss, while Happy Madison and Sony TV are again producing. Moss will write the script.

The project focuses on the relationship between Colonna and her sister, with the two women having different points of view on how her sister's son should be raised, the story notes. The show is being developed as a potential starring vehicle for Colonna, the report adds.

more »

CBS Extends Moonves' Contract Until 2017

CBS has extended Leslie Moonves' contract until June 2017, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder. Before the extension, his contract was due to expire in 2015.

“I look forward to all Leslie will continue to do as the genius that he is," CBS Executive Chairman Sumner Redstone said in a statement.

As CEO of CBS Corp., Moonves will continue to receive the same base salary and be eligible for bonuses and awards under the new deal. This year he earned a $3.5 million base salary, with an additional $27.5 million bonus and almost $40 million in stock awards and other compensation, the piece adds.

Leslie-Moonves.jpgLeslie Moonves

more »

NBC Buys Project Based on Life of Reality Star

NBC has bought a project based on the life of a television personality who already has a reality series on NBC's cable sibling Bravo, reports Deadline.com. The new project focuses on designer and stylist Rachel Zoe, whose series “The Rachel Zoe Project” has been on Bravo since 2008.

Zoe and her husband, Rodger Berman, are executive producing the project, while writer and performer Aseem Batra will write and Emmy winner Todd Holland will direct, the story notes.

The report notes that shows based on the lives of television personalities are in vogue this development season, with ABC working on a comedy based on Tyra Banks, for example. Other shows are in the works from Kate Walsh of “Private Practice” and Ty Burrell of “Modern Family.”

more »

Top-Rated Show of Fall Season Is a Cable Drama

A cable drama series that had its season premiere Sunday is the top-rated program so far this fall in the key demo of adults 18-49, according to AMC. The series is AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” which delivered a 7.3 average rating in viewers 18-49 for the 9 p.m. ET season three premiere.

Citing Nielsen live plus same day figures, AMC reports that’s the best number of the season on cable or broadcast, excluding sports.

Cumulative numbers for the night, with two additional airings, brought the show’s total for Sunday to 10.3 million in the 18-49 demo, and 8.6 million in adults 25-54.

The premiere delivered 10.9 million total viewers, with that total climbing to 15.2 million for the three airings. Those numbers are up more than 50% from season two, AMC reports.

The premiere also ranks as the top drama telecast in basic cable history in total viewers, according to the network.

more »

Another Key Executive Leaving NBCUniversal

Just a few days after news broke that a top ad sales exec was leaving NBC comes word that another NBCUniversal executive is stepping down.

Bridget Baker, president of TV networks distribution for NBCU, will leave her post at the end of next month, B&C reports.

The news follows the departure of Marianne Gambelli, president of sales for the NBC broadcast network, which we reported late last week.

Matt Bond, head of content distribution for NBCU, confirmed Baker’s move today in an internal memo, B&C reports. Bond’s departure comes after 24 years with the company.

“The move for Baker, a founder of CNBC who spent her career at NBCU and is credited with developing the company's cable assets from inception, comes nearly two years after NBCU's new executive structure was announced following the Comcast acquisition of the company,” B&C reports. “Under the two-year-old structure, Bond, who prior to the Comcast-NBCU deal headed Comcast's content acquisition, was named head of content distribution, with Baker and digital distribution guru JB Perrette reporting in to Bond. Perrette, now chief digital officer at Discovery Communications, left the company last year.”

Baker and Bond have been working for the past two years on consolidating the pre-merger network distribution teams for NBCU and Comcast, and that consolidation is now effectively complete, the report notes.

Bond wrote in his memo: "For the past two years, Bridget and I have worked closely on the strategic integration and consolidation of our team into the new NBCUniversal Content Distribution organization. Today we are uniquely positioned for continued growth, in no small part because of Bridget's vision, expertise, deep relationships, and dedication. With the integration now complete, Bridget is ready to tackle a new challenge.”

B&C adds: “Baker was named NBCUniversal's first president of TV Networks Distribution in 2006. Her oversight has included the North American distribution of NBCUniversal's content across the cable, satellite and telecommunications industry. She has been responsible for the distribution strategy and execution of a content portfolio that includes USA, Bravo, CNBC, E!, Sprout, Style Network, Syfy, The Golf Channel, MSNBC and Oxygen, the network-owned NBC and Telemundo stations, Olympic content on cable and broadband, and On Demand and set-top box content.”

bridget-baker.jpgBridget Baker

more »

NBC Shelves Sitcom Project

NBC has decided not to go ahead with a project that had been in the works as a midseason sitcom, Deadline.com reports.

The project, starring comedian Dane Cook, is "Next Caller." After taping four shows, NBC made the decision to halt production. The network had initially ordered six episodes.

Reportedly, the show was not moving in the creative direction NBC had in mind. In the show, Cook played a dirty-talking disc jockey on a satellite radio station who found himself sharing the microphone with an NPR feminist, played by Collette Wolfe.

"Next Caller" was created and executive produced by Stephen Falk.

more »

Rocker Dave Navarro Joins Cable Drama

Rock musician Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction will appear on a popular cable drama series, Entertainment Weekly reports. The series is FX’s “Sons of Anarchy,” where Navarro is set to appear in the final two episodes of the current season.

Navarro will play a member of the Biz Lats gang who’s closely connected to Jimmy Smits’ character, Nero, the story reports. Additionally, Jane’s Addiction will perform a version of the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” for the “Sons of Anarchy” finale, the story reports.

EW adds: “Creator Kurt Sutter has had a particularly good time with his guest stars this season. Besides luring former Mouse House actress Ashley Tisdale to play a prostitute, Walton Goggins (‘Justified’) played a transvestite last week.”

more »

Football Owns Sunday Night Broadcast Ratings

Live NFL coverage pushed NBC to another easy win in the Nielsen overnights for Sunday -- including easily topping live coverage of the MLB playoffs on Fox.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC averaged a 5.6 rating for prime time in the key 18-49 demo, easily outdistancing its rivals. Fox trailed with a 2.7 average, followed by CBS (2.2) and ABC (2.1). NBC also won total viewers, averaging 14.7 million to 10.4 million for CBS, 8.1 million for Fox and 7.0 million for ABC.

The numbers are subject to more than the usual adjustments due to the proliferation of live programming.

NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” featuring the Packers at the Texans, delivered a 6.9 average in 18-49. Fox’s coverage of Game 1 of the NLDS between the Cardinals and Giants averaged a 1.9.

In non-sports programming, ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” was the top show of the night with a 3.0 in viewers 18-49, down from a 3.4 a week ago. ABC’s “Revenge” delivered a 2.7, up 4% from last week. “666 Park Avenue” drooped to a 1.5, down from a 1.7 one week earlier.

CBS’s “The Amazing Race” held steady with last week with a 2.6 average in the 18-49 demo.

more »

NBC's 'Fashion Star' Requests Meeting With Union After Being Shut Down by Pickets

Producers of the NBC show “Fashion Star,” which had production halted by a work stoppage and has been picketed by IATSE, has requested a meeting with the union today to talk about a contract, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Production on the reality program's second season was stopped after a walkout Saturday, as previously reported. Picketing continued this morning, with pension and health benefits at the center of the dispute.

“The IA will continue to picket the shooting locations of Fashion Star until the crew has a union contract,” said union organizer Vanessa Holtgrew.

“Picketing was planned to take place at three locations: Hollywood Center Studios, a production location, and the offices of one of the production companies, Magical Elves,” THR reports.

An estimated 70 crew members picketed the show Saturday, according to the union.

The report notes: “The decline of motion picture and TV drama production in Los Angeles has left reality and half-hour comedy as key factors in the local business. IATSE has been active in organizing reality, and Holtgrew and IATSE official Mike Miller said to expect more job actions in the next few months.”

more »

Letterman Without Paul Shaffer? Longtime 'Late Show' Sidekick May Leave the Show

David Letterman's longtime sidekick and musical director, Paul Shaffer, may leave the show when his contract expires, reports TV Guide Canada.

Shaffer told the publication that he's ready for a break. "We’ve been on 30 years so now we’ve got another two years. … I’m going to be certainly ready to lie down after that, take a nap,” he said. “But once again, life is nutty -- anything can happen. I’ve been so lucky and blessed to be working this long in show business. And whatever happens now is just gravy to me.”

Shaffer, 62, started with Letterman in 1982 when "Late Night with David Letterman" started on NBC, leading the World's Most Dangerous Band, notes The Hollywood Reporter.

He earns a reported $5 million a year for his work on CBS's "Late Show." TVWeek notes that it's not uncommon for performers to begin talking about leaving their gigs in advance of contract negotiations, and with two years left on his current deal, it may be that Shaffer is just getting the game started early.

more »

Union Walkout Shuts Down NBC Show

A union walkout has shut down an NBC show, according to The Hollywood Reporter. IATSE crew members picketed the show “Fashion Star” Saturday, leading to a production halt.

The union said it intends to continue striking until a contract is reached. No talks are in progress, so it's unknown when an agreement might be reached, the story adds.

"A big, successful primetime show like this -- I don’t see why they shouldn’t be union,” said IATSE official Vanessa Holtgrew. “I hope we get a contract for these folks so they can get their health and pension, and go back to making their show.”

NBC and the show's production companies didn't immediately return requests for comment, the story notes. The show is in production on its second season, and about 70 crew members picketed the production.

more »

Wow! One Recent Show Had Its Ratings Increase 81% (!) in Viewers 18-49 Once 7-Day Viewing Numbers Were Added

TV's top DVR gainers

New Nielsen data, as reported by USA Today, shows bigger jumps than ever for many sitcoms and dramas when delayed viewing on DVRs is factored in. Top premiere week viewership increases, by percentage, among viewers 18-49 for episodes airing during official premiere week, Sept. 24-30 (although not all were premiere episodes):

Grimm (Fri., NBC) +81%

Revolution (Mon., NBC) +68%

Fringe (Fri., Fox) +64%

Private Practice (Tue., ABC) +63%

Glee (Thu., Fox) +63%

Hawaii Five-0 (Mon., CBS) +61%

New Girl (Tue., Fox) +54%

The Office (Thu., NBC) +52%

666 Park Ave (Sun., ABC) +52%

Up All Night (Thu., NBC) +50%

New Normal (Tue., NBC) +50%

Parenthood (Tue., NBC) +50%

Source: Nielsen Co.; reflects percentage increase of viewership between live or same-day viewing and total viewing up to seven days later.

more »

Gary Collins Dies -- TV Actor Was Longtime Miss America Pageant Emcee and a 'Gentler' Talk Show Host

Actor and television host Gary Collins, known for a long run as host of the syndicated show “Hour Magazine” in the 1980s and for hosting the Miss America Pageant from 1982-1990, has died, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Collins, 74, died early Saturday at a hospital in Biloxi, Miss., of natural causes, according to the report.

Collins had moved in 2011 to Mississippi, the home state of his wife, actress Mary Ann Mobley, who was Miss America 1959.

The story calls "Hour Magazine," the talk show Collins hosted from 1980 to 1988, "a gentler version of the genre that avoided some of the controversial topics tackled by Phil Donahue, Geraldo Rivera and other tabloid programs."

Collins had a long string of acting credits on television, including stints as Lt. Richard P. “Rip” Ripley on “The Wackiest Ship in the Army” and Dave Tarrant on “Iron Horse,” both in the 1960s. He played Dr. Michael Rhodes on “The Sixth Sense” and George Adamson on “Born Free” in the 1970s.

He made frequent guest appearances on on TV series throughout his career, going back to “Kraft Suspense Theatre,” “Perry Mason,” “The Virginian” and “Ironside.” He later became a regular guest on shows such as “Love, American Style,” “Fantasy Island” and “The Love Boat.” Most recently he appeared on “Dirty Sexy Money” in 2009.

Collins had a series of scrapes with the law in his later years, including DUI convictions in 2008 and 2009 and a fine for leaving the scene of an accident in 2010. He won an Emmy for outstanding talk show host for "Hour Magazine" in 1984.

gary-collins.jpgGary Collins

more »

USA Renews Drama Series

USA Network has given a renewal to a drama series, B&C reports. The cable network made the decision to bring back the legal drama "Suits," the story reports.

The network ordered a 16-episode third season of the show, which, for the first half of its second season ranked as the summer's top scripted series among adults 18-49, 25-54 and 18-34, the story says.

"Suits" will wrap up its second season in January.

more »

Lindsay Lohan Slates High-Profile Sit-Down TV Interview

Lindsay Lohan will sit down for a high-profile one-on-one TV interview in the next few weeks, reports TMZ.com. The headline magnet has reportedly granted the interview to Barbara Walters.

Lohan has ben wary of sit-down interviews because she's concerned about pointed questions, but she reportedly trusts Walters not to push too hard, the story says.

The interview will reportedly focus on the similarities between Lohan and Liz Taylor, whom Lohan is portraying in the Lifetime TV movie “Liz & Dick,” such as becoming a child star and dealing with addiction.

Lohan has had a series of encounters with law enforcement and other authorities in recent months, including being arrested for reportedly leaving the scene of an accident; accusing a congressional aide of choking her; and getting involved in a fracas with her mom that led to a 911 call and brought the police to the scene.

more »

'Million Muppet March' Planned for Washington, D.C., in Support of PBS

A puppet-based protest has been scheduled for Nov. 3 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in support of PBS, Reuters reports. The event follows comments by Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney that he would like to cut funding for PBS despite his affection for Big Bird.

The demonstration is set for three days before the general election. The organizers are two men who had never previously met each other: Michael Bellavia, 43, an animation executive from Los Angeles, and Chris Mecham, 46, a university student in Idaho, the piece notes.

The Internet address www.millionmuppetmarch.com was bought by Bellavia, who discovered Mecham had already created a Facebook page of the same name. They soon were on the phone and planning the march, the story says.

"Romney was using Muppets as a rhetorical device to talk about getting rid of public broadcasting, which is really so much bigger than Sesame Street," Mecham said. "While he was still talking I was thinking of ways I could express my frustration at that argument. Before the debates were over I had put up the Million Muppet March Facebook page."

more »

Softbank to Buy Sprint Nextel for $20 Billion

Softbank Corp. announced today that it will buy a 70% stake in Sprint Nextel Corp. for about $20 billion, The Wall Street Journal reports. The purchase of the mobile carrier marks the largest-ever overseas acquisition by a Japanese company, the report notes.

“The deal is designed to carve an opening in the U.S. for Softbank, Japan's third-largest mobile carrier,” the story reports. “It will provide the third-largest U.S. wireless operator an immediate infusion of cash, helping it to compete better with bigger rivals in one of the world's biggest and most lucrative markets for smartphones.”

Softbank said it would buy $8 billion in shares directly from Sprint and another $12.1 billion in shares in the market, according to the report.

“The deal would transform Softbank, a relative newcomer in the telecommunications industry, into one of the world's largest telecom groups with about 90 million subscribers when combined with Sprint. It expects to complete the deal by mid-2013,” the piece reports.

more »

TV Stations Shine for Gannett as Company Beats Q3 Earnings Estimates

Strong performances by Gannett’s television stations helped overcome weakness in the company’s core newspaper business as the company beat Wall Street expectations for the third quarter, Deadline.com reports.

“The company reported net income of $148.6M, up 32.9% vs the period last year, on revenues of $1.31B, +3.4%. Revenues were slightly ahead of the $1.29B that analysts anticipated,” the story reports. “And earnings, excluding unusual events, came in at 56 cents a share -- beating the 53 cents that company watchers forecast.”

Gannett, the largest independent owner of NBC affiliates, had $37 million in ad sales associated with the London Olympics, along with $41.7 million in political advertising and $22.3 million in retrans consent payments from pay TV distributors, the story notes.

“All told, the broadcasting division generated $237.0M in revenues (+36%) with operating income of $118.7M (+73.1%),” the story reports. “Gannett needed the boost: Revenues at its publishing division, which includes USA Today, fell 3% to $890.2M, with operating income of $73.7M, down 31.7%. Ad sales at the U.S. publishing operations dropped 6.%%; with the 7.4% decline at UK-based Newsquest they were down 6.6% to $552.7M.”

The report adds: “Gannett’s digital segment -- which includes CareerBuilder -- saw a 4.7% increase in revenues, to $182.0M, while operating income rose 16.2% to $34.4M.”

Said CEO Gracia Martore: “Our results this quarter demonstrate that the growth strategy we announced in February is gaining traction. In September we re-launched our flagship USA Today brand, which has been re-imagined and redesigned for today’s consumers and advertisers. We are seeing early successes and making great progress in positioning Gannett for growth in the digital era.”

more »

YouTube Streaming of Stunt Sets Record, With 8 Million People Watching

An event streamed online over the weekend shattered a number of records -- both for the event itself and for the online stream of the event.

Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner’s freefall from more than 24 miles above the Earth broke a 62-year-old record for a freefall from the highest starting point ever, becoming the highest, fastest and longest skydive of all time, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Meanwhile, YouTube’s coverage of the event also set a record by pulling 8 million viewers to the stream, the story reports.

The YouTube stream showed Baumgartner making his jump and breaking the sound barrier, traveling at 833.9 mph. The stream ran about 1 minute behind live coverage on Discovery Channel, but YouTube was able to draw so many viewers because Discovery aired the event only to U.S. viewers, the piece points out.

Other live stream records were held by the 2011 royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, which drew 5 million viewers on two separate streams, and President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration, which drew 7 million active simultaneous streams, the story notes.

more »

Report: Hulu Buying Providence Equity's Stake for $200 Million

Hulu is buying Providence Equity's 10% stake in the company for $200 million, which places the video-streaming service's valuation at about $2 billion, reports Bloomberg.

Hulu is borrowing the money to pay for the repurchase, while Hulu Chief Executive Officer Jason Kilar will receive about $40 million, the story notes. Providence, News Corp. and NBCUniversal founded Hulu in 2007, with Disney buying a stake in 2009.

The buyout means ownership will be consolidated among News Corp., Comcast, and Walt Disney, the piece points out. Representatives for Hulu and Providence declined to comment.

more »

CBS Buys Jerry Bruckheimer Project

CBS has put into development a Jerry Bruckheimer-produced project, Deadline.com reports. The project is based on a blog called GrannyIsMyWingman.com.

The project tracks a 20-something woman and her grandmother as they venture out in the dating world, the story notes. The blog was started by 25-year-old Kayli Stollak, who wanted to document online dating and asked her 76-year-old grandmother to try it with her, the story notes.

Stollak and Donald Todd of "Samantha Who?" will co-write the project.

The report notes: “This is the third comedy project based on a blog by a twenty-something female creator to sell to a broadcast network in the past three days, following ‘20-Nothings’ at CBS, based on Lauren Bachelis’ ‘Hollywood Assistants’ Tumblr blog, and ‘F*ck I’m in My Twenties’ at NBC, based on the Tumblr blog of Emma Koenig.

more »

Top Ad Sales Exec Exits NBC

The president of sales for the NBC broadcast network announced today that she is leaving NBCUniversal, B&C reports. The announcement by Marianne Gambelli follows the promotion of Linda Yaccarino to president of ad sales for all of NBCUniversal.

Yaccarino, who joined NBCUniversal in 2011, had been in charge of the NBCU cable networks.

“In a note to staff, Gambelli, who has been with NBC for 23 years, said that ‘after a great deal of thought, I have come to the realization that it's time for me to make a change ... it's time for me to explore new opportunities,’" the piece reports. “She went on to say: ‘While this is the right move for me at the right time, the hardest part of this decision was to leave all of you. We are more than work colleagues. I view you as an extended family, and I could not be more proud of all that we have accomplished together.’"

Gambelli’s note concludes: "I know I leave you in very good hands with Linda, and that you will continue to shine and be the amazing, dynamic and successful professionals that you all are.”

NBCUniversal said in a statement: "Marianne has been a valued member of our sales organization for many years. We have nothing but tremendous respect and admiration for her, and we thank her for her many contributions to NBCUniversal."

marianne-gambelli.jpgMarianne Gambelli

more »

MTV Hit 'Teen Wolf' Reportedly Losing Co-Star After Contract Talks Fail (but MTV Denies It)

The hit MTV drama "Teen Wolf" is losing one of the show’s co-stars, E! Online reports. Failed contract negotiations are blamed for the departure of Colton Haynes, who played lacrosse champ Jackson Whittemore, the story reports.

Haynes was offered a commitment of appearing in 12 of the third season's 24 episodes, but he didn't want to commit to a limited role, the story notes. Haynes was also said to be up for a role in a new pilot.

An MTV representative denied the report, saying, "Absolutely no truth that Colton is being pushed out or that he, or any cast member, is being replaced. We love Colton and look forward to his returning with the entire cast for Season three of 'Teen Wolf.'"

more »

NBC Buys 'Alice in Wonderland' Sequel From 'CSI' Creator Anthony Zuiker

NBC is putting the finishing touches on a deal for a project from “CSI” creator Anthony Zuiker that is a sequel to “Alice in Wonderland,” Deadline.com reports.

The project, “Wonderland,” will be written by feature writer Whit Anderson. Zuiker, who has an overall deal with ABC Studios, is partnering with studio-based Brillstein Entertainment Partners to develop the show.

“’Wonderland’ is set years after the events in the book and centers on Alice and a new character, Clara,” the story reports. “Seven years ago, Clara’s life took an unexplained turn for the worse, and a mysterious stranger tells her there may be an explanation after all … an explanation that lies in the fantastical world of Wonderland. To revive her dreams and get her life back on track, Clara must wage war against Wonderland’s reigning Queen, the woman we once knew as Alice.”

Said Zuiker: “Whit Anderson is a true visionary. Her reimagining of ‘Alice In Wonderland’ blew us away and we are very excited to bring this to television.”

The report notes: “The ‘Alice In Wonderland’ concept is popular this season. The CW has in development ‘Wunderland,’ a contemporary reimagining of ‘Alice In Wonderland’ from McG and Chad Hodge. And Lionsgate TV is prepping a pitch after acquiring this summer Zenescope’s ‘Wonderland’ graphic novels, a modern retelling of Carroll’s novel from the point of view of Alice’s daughter. ABC, of course, has elements from ‘Alice In Wonderland’ featured in its fairytale drama ‘Once Upon a Time,’ which is likely the reason the ABC Studios-produced ‘Wonderland’ sold to an outside network.”

more »

Thursday Ratings: CBS Wins the Night as CW Continues Its Roll, but One New Drama Has a Bad Night

On a Thursday night when the broadcast ratings were tweaked by the vice presidential debate and by a live NFL Network game, CBS came away with a win for the night while the CW continued its recent surge, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

But it was a rough night for ABC, where the new drama series “Last Resort” dropped to a 1.6 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, down from a 1.9 a week earlier.

The CW continued to have a good week. After premiering its new drama “Arrow” to big numbers Wednesday night, as previously reported, the network had a solid premiere for its new “Beauty and the Beast”: a 1.3 average rating in 18-49 with 3.2 million total viewers. The season premiere of “The Vampire Diaries” delivered a 1.6 in the demo, up from a 1.5 last year, with 3.5 million total viewers.

Citing Nielsen overnights, TVbytheNumbers reports that CBS averaged a 2.7 rating for prime time in the 18-49 demo, followed by Fox (2.4 average), NBC (1.9), ABC (1.7), CW (1.4) and Univision (1.4). CBS also led total viewers with 9.4 million, followed by ABC (6.9 million), Fox (6.8 million), NBC (5.7 million), Univision (3.5 million) and CW (3.3 million).

Numbers for the debate were close among the broadcast nets, with CBS and NBC both pulling 2.1 averages in 18-49, followed by Fox with a 2.0 and ABC with a 1.8. The commercial-free broadcast doesn’t figure into final national ratings.

Among regular programs, CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” led the way with a 4.2 -- down from a 4.9 a week ago. “Two and a Half Men” delivered a 3.4, down from a 3.6 last week.

Fox’s “The X Factor” pulled a 2.9 in 18-49, down from a 3.2 a week ago.

Numbers will be subject to more than the usual adjustments due to the live debate and NFL coverage.

more »

Mitt Romney Told to Stop Using Slogan From NBC Show

One of the trends in this year’s presidential election seems to be candidates using television material until the rights holders ask them to stop. President Obama was asked recently by NBC to stop using unauthorized footage from NBC news, as we reported earlier this week, and now Mitt Romney has been told to stop using a slogan from the NBC show “Friday Night Lights,” Deadline.com reports.

Peter Berg, creator of “Lights,” sent a letter to Romney telling him to stop using the expression “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose,” from the show, which aired from 2006-2011.

Here’s the letter, which Berg sent today:

Governor Romney:

I created the TV show “Friday Night Lights” and came up with the phrase “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.”

I was not thrilled when I saw that you have plagiarized this expression to support your campaign by using it on posters, your Facebook page and as part of your stump speeches. Your politics and campaign are clearly not aligned with the themes we portrayed in our series.

The only relevant comparison that I see between your campaign and “Friday Night Lights” is in the character of Buddy Garrity -- who turned his back on American car manufacturers selling imported cars from Japan. Your use of the expression falsely and inappropriately associates “Friday Night Lights” with the Romney/Ryan campaign. Mitt, we all wish you and your family all the best. We are grateful for your support of our beloved show, but we are not in any way affiliated with you or your campaign. Please come up with your own campaign slogan.


Peter Berg

In another similar incident, the company behind “Sesame Street” recently asked the Obama campaign to stop using its Big Bird-themed ads, the story notes.

more »

'All-Star Celebrity Apprentice' Lineup Includes NBA Hall-of-Famer, Jackson Family Member, Playmate of the Year

The lineup has been released for the upcoming “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice,” along with a batch of former “Celebrity Apprentice” winners who will be on the show as advisers, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The piece reports: “The lineup for the new season will feature fan favorites from previous seasons of ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ including country star Trace Adkins, actor Stephen Baldwin, actor and reality star Gary Busey, magician Penn Jillette, rapper Lil Jon, Poison frontman Bret Michaels, NBA Hall-of-Famer Dennis Rodman, Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider, actress Marilu Henner, singer La Toya Jackson, actress Claudia Jordan, the first big star of ‘The Apprentice’ Omarosa, actress Lisa Rinna and Playmate of the Year Brande Roderick.”

Former “Celebrity Apprentice” winners Piers Morgan, Joan Rivers, John Rich and Arsenio Hall will also return to the show, as advisers, the report notes.

“Though Omarosa was seen as a villain during her first appearance on ‘The Apprentice,’ she recently experienced great tragedy when her longtime boyfriend, actor Michael Clarke Duncan, died of a heart attack,” the story notes. “How that experience will affect her behavior on the show, or if it will even be addressed, remains to be seen.”

more »

Longtime ESPN Football Commentator Dead at 81

A football commentator who covered the college game for ESPN for the past 26 years has died. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Carroll Hoff “Beano” Cook died Thursday in his sleep at 81.

Known for his colorful, folksy style, Cook became known as the “Cardinal of College Football.” Recently he and ESPN.com senior college football writer Ivan Maisel hosted a weekly podcast, the story notes.

Before joining ESPN in 1986, Cook worked as ABC Sports' media director from 1966-1974 and did studio commentary for the network between 1982 and 1985.

“There never was and never will be another Beano," said ESPN Executive Chairman George Bodenheimer. "His combination of humor, passion, love of college football and his engaging personality left an indelible mark on the sport and touched anyone who knew him.”

Cook got his nickname "Beano" when he was 7 and his family moved to Pittsburgh from Boston. A neighbor coined the nickname after saying, "Oh, from Boston, like the beans."

beano-cook.jpgBeano Cook

more »

'X Factor' Explaining Itself After Misleading Viewers About Showcasing Homes of Simon Cowell, Britney Spears

Viewers of Fox’s “The X Factor” apparently got the wrong impression from a “Judges’ Homes” segment on Wednesday’s episode, prompting the show to issue a clarification of sorts, TheWrap.com reports.

The segment gave the impression that it was showcasing the homes of Simon Cowell and Britney Spears, among others. But a TMZ.com report accused the show of faking the bit by substituting other homes -- including one belonging to Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees.

“Representatives for the show admitted Thursday that the residences presented as the homes of ‘X Factor’ judges Simon Cowell and Britney Spears are ‘not necessarily’ their actual residences,” TheWrap reports.

Reps for the show told the website: "The 'Judges Homes' part of the show is filmed in a house of the judges' choice, not necessarily the judges' own homes."

The piece adds: “The statement comes on the heels of a report from TMZ that ‘Cowell's’ house is actually the Miami home of New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, while Spears actually lives in Calabasas, Calif., and not Malibu, as the segment suggested.”

The show has a track record of taking liberties with the facts, the report notes: “This wouldn't be the first time that ‘The X Factor’ has been accused of distorting the facts. As TheWrap reported last year, the show strongly implied that contestant Geo Godley had dropped his pants and exposed himself to the audience. But an audience member said he was actually wearing a thong. (As the episode was aired, a big red ‘X’ appeared over Godley's groin.)”

Additionally, TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross blogged a few weeks ago about the show’s handling of a 13-year-old “X Factor” contestant who brought more to the table than the show led viewers to believe. (Click here to read this blog entry.)

Here’s a clip of the “Judges’ Homes” segment from Wednesday’s episode of the show:

more »

Whitney Houston's Daughter Reveals Unusual Engagement on Reality Show

Whitney Houston's daughter, Bobbi Kristina, said in a clip featured in Lifetime's new reality show "The Houstons: On Our Own" that she's engaged to her “adopted brother,” Nick Gordon, reports the New York Post.

“’We’re engaged,’ a giggling Bobbi says in a 30-second preview clip from the series, which premieres Oct. 24 and tracks Houston’s extended family in the wake of the singer’s untimely death last February,” the story reports.

Bobbi Kristina, 19, is the daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown. Gordon, 23, was invited by Houston to live with her and Bobbi when he was 12 because his birth mother wasn't able to take care of him, the story notes. He was never legally adopted by Houston.

The family has previously denied rumors that the two were involved, the piece adds.

more »

The Most Nagging Question of All About Lance Armstrong: If He Was Doping, Why Did He Never Fail a Drug Test? Here's Why, Claims the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency

"How could [Lance Armstrong], the world’s greatest cyclist, always in the cross hairs of doping officials, never fail a drug test if he was doping," asks a report in The New York Times, which continues, "An explanation emerged Wednesday, when the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) released its dossier on Armstrong, citing witness testimony, financial records and laboratory results."

The New York Times article continues: "'It has been a frequent refrain of Armstrong and his representatives over the years that Lance Armstrong has never had a positive drug test,' the [USADA] report said. 'That does not mean, however, he did not dope. Nor has Armstrong apparently had nearly as many doping tests as his representatives have claimed.'”

The story adds: "As part of its investigation, USADA asked Christopher J. Gore, the head of physiology at the Australian Institute of Sport, to analyze test results from 38 blood samples taken from Armstrong between February 2009 and the end of last April. Those taken during the 2009 and 2010 Tours, the report said, showed blood values whose likelihood 'of occurring naturally was less than one in a million,' and other indications of blood doping."

The article notes: "'The most conventional way that the U.S. Postal riders beat what little out-of-competition testing there was, was to simply use their wits to avoid the testers,' the report concluded."

The story adds: "When the testers could not be avoided, Armstrong and his teammates turned to drug masking, the report said. It indicated that during the 1998 world championships, testers were diverted to other riders on the United States team while one of Armstrong’s doctors 'smuggled a bag of saline under his raincoat, getting it past the tester and administering saline to Armstrong before Armstrong was required to provide a blood sample.' The saline infusion restored Armstrong’s blood values to a level that would not attract attention. The report also described how Armstrong, often in conjunction with [Michele Ferrari, a sports medicine doctor] and the team director Johan Bruyneel, was careful to use techniques and drugs that were untraceable through tests."

The article concludes: "The USADA says it tested Armstrong only 60 times, and it cited reports indicating that the International Cycling Union had tested him about 200 times, although USADA said many of the cycling union’s tests were for a health program rather than for prohibited substances. 'The number of actual controls on Mr. Armstrong over the years appears to have been considerably fewer than the number claimed by Armstrong and his lawyers,' USADA said."

To read TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross's lastest insights about the Armstrong affair, entitled "Lance Armstrong Needs Oprah Winfrey in the Worst Possible Way," please click here.

more »

Not Quite the Same? Dish Rolls Out a Freebie for Subscribers Who Are Being Deprived of 'The Walking Dead'

With the third-season premiere of the AMC hit "The Walking Dead" slated for Oct. 14, subscribers to Dish Network -- which dropped the network in June -- are receiving a make-good of sorts from Dish: a free scary movie every day in October, reports Deadline.com.

Dish posted a message to subscribers on its Facebook page saying: ”DISH understands that ‘The Walking Dead’ on AMC is a very popular series. To show appreciation, customers will be provided ‘Tales of the Apocalypse,’ a free scary movie fest every day in the month of October. Starting at 8 PM ET on Blockbuster Studio, channel 102, ‘Walking Dead’ fans can enjoy these horror/science-fiction commercial free movies. Additional On Demand scary movies will also be available for only 10 cents each. Visit http://bit.ly/UooiDI for full details as well as the full list of scary movies.”

The list of scary movies includes “Night of the Living Dead,” "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," “Day of the Dead,” “Cyborg," "Re-Animator” and “Invaders From Mars.” Also included in the list, without explanation, is "Slash in Concert."

more »

How 'Jurassic Park IV' Almost Went in a Whole Different Direction -- Check Out the Photo of the Dinosaur-Human Hybrid We Won't Be Seeing

The “Jurassic Park IV” sequel, in the works from a team that includes executive producer Steven Spielberg, director Joe Johnston, writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver and producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, won’t be out for a while yet -- it’s slated for a 2014 release. But the website iwatchstuff.com turned up some intriguing concept art for the project that was apparently rejected -- art that would have taken the megahit movie series in a much different direction.

The concept apparently came from an earlier pitch for the movie, with a script surfacing back in 2007 that involved a clandestine plot to combine human and dinosaur DNA.

Here’s a taste of what the dinosaur-human hybrids would have looked like:


more »

Attorney for Steven Tyler Sued Over Allegedly Botching 'American Idol' Contract

The former management company for Steven Tyler has sued his current attorney, alleging she botched his contract negotiation with "American Idol," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq.

Kovac Media Group filed a suit Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court claiming that entertainment attorney Dina LaPolt, who was brought in to help Tyler negotiate a new "Idol" deal at the end of last season, ended up poisoning the talks, the story notes.

The suit claims that LaPolt botched the talks so badly that "Idol" producers ended up offering no raise to the Aerosmith frontman, leading to Tyler's departure from the singing competition.

While the lawsuit doesn't mention Tyler by name, it clearly references him, the story says. The lawsuit is seeking damages in excess of $8 million. LaPolt didn't return a call to her office, the story adds.

more »

Michael Bolton Working on Comedy Project for ABC

Michael Bolton is working on a comedy project for ABC, called "Michael Bolton's Daughter Is Destroying My Life," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Bolton is slated to star as a fictionalized version of himself in the half-hour show, which is being developed by "Go On" star Allison Miller. The project tracks a young writer who gets a job working on social media for Bolton.

If the project moves forward, the show could potentially be paired with "Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23," which co-stars James Van Der Beek as a fictionalized version of himself.

Michael-Bolton.jpgMichael Bolton

more »

Local TV Revenues Will Be Up 14% This Year Because of Political Ads. Without Those Ads Local TV Would Only Be Up 2%. Overall Political Ad Spending Will Hit $2.7 Billion This Year, Up 30% Over the Midterm Elections of 2010

Political ads are the gift that keeps on giving to local TV stations.

"Overall, [media agency] Magna Global says political advertising is expected to hit $2.7 billion for 2012 -- a 30% gain over the $2.1 billion level in 2010, reports our good friend Wayne Friedman of MediaPost's Media Daily News.

Friedman also wrties: "Interpublic's Magna Global unit says there has been a nearly 30% surge to almost $274 million in political advertising in the second quarter of this year, compared to a similar period in the last big political advertising year, 2010"

The article adds, "Vincent Letang, executive vice president and director of global forecasting of Magna, stated: 'Without political ad spend, Magna believes that local television ad revenues would have been up 2% this year; with political effect, it will grow by an average 14%. The bonanza will be much bigger in swing states.'"

more »

'Good Morning America' Host Robin Roberts Leaves Hospital

“Good Morning America” co-host Robin Roberts, who has been off the ABC morning show while she deals with health issues, tweeted to fans that she left the hospital after a bone marrow transplant and is resting at home, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

"There's no place like home. After 30 days in the hospital I'm home. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Thank YOU and bless YOU. XO," Roberts tweeted.

There hasn't yet been any announcement about when Roberts will return to the show. She's said she plans to remain at home until she recovers.

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

more »

With 'Munsters' Reboot Apparently Dead at NBC, Suddenly the PR Machine Is in Overdrive -- Including First-Look Photos

With news breaking this week that NBC’s “Mockingbird Lane” -- its heavily hyped dramatic reboot of the classic 1960s sitcom “The Munsters” -- is apparently dead on arrival at the network, suddenly the project appears to be getting more attention than ever.

As we reported yesterday, the pilot for the ill-fated show is now set to air as a Halloween special on Friday, Oct. 26, at 8 p.m., slotted before “Grimm.” The project stars Jerry O'Connell as Herman Munster, a role made famous by Fred Gwynne, and Portia de Rossi as Lily Munster, taking over for Yvonne De Carlo.

Meanwhile, first-look photos have surfaced of the new cast in character. Yahoo posted a series of shots revealing the look of the new version -- with most of the characters appearing decidedly more “human” than their counterparts did in the Sixties. The Yahoo report cites creative differences between the network and show creator Bryan Fuller as the reason the $10 million project has been scrapped.

Along with O’Connell and de Rossi, the cast includes Eddie Izzard as vampire Grandpa; Mason Cook as werewolf son Eddie (minus the widow’s peak!); and British actress Charity Wakefield as cousin Marilyn.

Here’s a shot from Yahoo based on material released by NBC, comparing the new cast and the old:


more »

Tumblr Blog 'F*ck! I'm in My Twenties' in Development at NBC as a Sitcom

The Tumblr blog "F*ck! I'm in My Twenties" is in development at NBC as a half-hour comedy project, reports Deadline.com.

The project tracks a 20-something city woman as she deals with her post-graduation years. The blog consists of hand-drawn thoughts and has been compared to HBO's "Girls."

The project is from BermanBraun and Universal Television.

The blog, which also inspired a book, is by Emma Koenig, 24. Koenig will co-write the script with Jeff Lowell.

more »

CW Has Its Highest-Rated Premiere Since 'Vampire Diaries'

The CW had a big night in the ratings Wednesday, with its best number for a premiere since “The Vampire Diaries,” E! Online reports.

The new drama “Arrow” premiered to 4.02 million viewers and a 1.3 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, according to Nielsen overnight figures. That made it CW’s top-rated drama since 2010.

Leading out from the “Arrow” premiere, CW’s “Supernatural” settled for a 1.0 average in 18-49 (up from a 0.8 a week ago) and 2.59 million viewers.

That gave the channel an average of 3.30 million total viewers for prime time with a 1.2 average rating in the 18-49 demo -- still behind the big 4 and Univision, but a strong performance for the CW.

more »

Why Wall Street Is Becoming Uneasy About Television

Wall Street investors are becoming uncomfortable about television, according to a report by David Lieberman on Deadline.com, and it has everything to do with the fall season’s lower ratings.

“Season-to-date prime time ratings are down 11% vs last year for the Big Four networks in live-plus-same-day results for their target audience of 18-to-49 year olds,” Lieberman writes. “And investors want to know: Is this a blip, or a symptom of a deeper problem -- possibly viewer defection to online videos?”

The piece cites two reports out today, which caution investors to wait until more information is available before panicking about investing in the big media firms that own the top broadcast nets. One reason that’s cited for the slumping viewer numbers: weak content.

Says Anthony DiClemente of Barclays Equity Research: “Most of the freshman shows have been a disappointment. Without top quality new programs to augment the success of past hits, we believe aggregate network ratings have suffered.”

A report by Nomura Equity Research’s Michael Nathanson points to scheduling issues, including the shift of CBS’s “Two and a Half Men” from Monday to Thursday. The move “impacts both nights because of last year’s early success on Monday [with the introduction of Ashton Kutcher, who replaced Charlie Sheen] combined with the greater competition this year on Thursday,” Nathanson writes.

Lieberman adds: “NFL football also may be tipping the scales: Matchups are stronger this year for ‘Monday Night Football,’ and the NFL Network added five ‘Thursday Night Football’ games. (Previously it didn’t begin its schedule until week 10.) That could be taking a bigger bite than usual from live ratings as the number of people who use DVRs to time-shift non-sports programming grows.”

Some shows are adding 50% or more to their viewer numbers when DVR viewing is included, Lieberman notes, singling out “Revolution,” “Glee,” “The Office” and “Up All Night” as especially strong on DVR.

The piece notes: “When Nielsen releases the data that advertisers value most, live-plus-three day ratings, that ‘will tell a more complete story,’ DiClemente says.”

Still, concerns remain, with Nathanson saying that even though the additional data may help, ”We don’t see it offsetting this year’s higher declines.”

Nathanson “warns that CBS, which collects 27% of its revenues from broadcast network advertising, is ‘most exposed’ if the ratings drop continues,” Lieberman writes. “It would affect 8% of News Corp.’s revenues, 7% of Disney’s, and 5% of Comcast’s (which controls NBCUniversal). Put another way, if broadcast network ad sales dropped by 5% due to poor ratings it could cut earnings per share at CBS by 5.7%, News Corp. by 2.1%, Disney by 1.3%, and Comcast by 0.7%.”

more »

Analyst: YouTube Video Has 'Profound Long-Term Implications for the Traditional Media Ecosystem'

A wildly successful YouTube video could be a game changer for the media business, Deadline.com reports, citing BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield.

Commenting on the impact of the “Gangnam Style” dance video by South Korean pop artist Psy, Greenfield notes that the clip has attracted more than 430 million views since it appeared in July -- making it the video site’s ninth-most-watched clip.

“It’s sure to end up much higher; its views are growing at a rate of about 10M a day,” the Deadline piece notes. “To give that some context, Greenfield notes that each episode of CBS’s ‘NCIS’ -- last season’s most watched regular series -- attracted an average of about 22M viewers in the seven days after it aired while the Super Bowl attracted more than 168M. Relax, Greenfield doesn’t claim that viewers devote the same time and commitment to a YouTube video as they do to TV shows.

“But he observes that ‘Gangnam Style’ illustrates the ‘tremendous opportunity’ for advertisers -- and, by extension, for content creators -- on YouTube.”

Greenfield notes that “Gangnam Style” has been especially effective at reaching viewers 12 to 17, and males up to age 24 -- traditionally challenging demos for advertisers to reach.

“And Greenfield notes that several have already caught on,” the piece reports. “He has seen pre-roll ads on ‘Gangnam Style’ from Capcom, Cartoon Network, Chevy, EA, Fox’s ‘Life of Pi,’ Green Mountain, Home Depot, Intel, LG, Microsoft, Nike, Nordstrom, Samsung, and Visit Greece.

“What’s more, the analyst says that he noticed something that ‘we had never seen on YouTube before’: He saw a pre-roll ad from a local furniture store, Gramercy Vintage Furniture.”

Greenfield adds: “We suspect locally targeted ads have a very significant CPM.”

Here’s the original “Gangnam Style” video:

more »

Strong Premiere for ABC's 'Nashville,' Not-so-Strong Premiere for NBC's 'Chicago Fire'

Two high-profile broadcast drama series premiered opposite each other Wednesday night, with widely differing results.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that ABC’s “Nashville” delivered almost 9 million total viewers and a 2.8 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, according to Nielsen overnights. Also premiering in the 10 p.m. hour was NBC’s new drama “Chicago Fire,” which settled for a 1.9 rating in 18-49 with 6.4 million total viewers.

“Nashville’s” number was good enough to win the 10 p.m. hour in the demo, although CBS’s “CSI” did better in total viewers with 10.6 million. “CSI” finished a close second to “Nashville” in viewers 18-49 with a 2.6 average.

NBC came back down to earth Wednesday after winning three nights in a row in the ratings for the first time since 2003, as previously reported. On Wednesday, NBC barely edged Univision for fourth place among the broadcast nets.

Fox took a narrow win for prime time overall, edging ABC with a 3.4 average in viewers 18-49. ABC was second with a 3.2 average rating, followed by CBS (2.8), NBC (1.6) and Univision (1.5). Total viewers was even closer, with CBS taking a narrow win with 10.5 million, followed by ABC (9.4 million), Fox (9.4 million), NBC (5.6 million) and Univision (3.7 million).

Fox was powered by its two-hour “X Factor,” which was down one-tenth of a ratings point from last week to a 3.4 in the 18-49 demo.

ABC had the top show of the night -- “Modern Family,” which aired two back-to-back episodes, delivering a 4.9 in viewers 18-49 at 9:30 p.m. and a 4.7 at 9 p.m. The numbers were off from a 5.5 for the previous original episode. “The Neighbors” equaled last week’s 1.9, while “The Middle” rose two-tenths to a 2.4.

CBS’s “Survivor: Philippines” dipped significantly from its 3.0 a week ago to a 2.6 in 18-49, while “Criminal Minds” dipped a bit too, from a 3.1 for the previous original to a 3.0.

more »

Video: Olympian Sinks What Is Reportedly The Longest Golf Putt Ever Caught on Tape

An Olympic athlete known for a sport other than golf hit a golf shot last week that is being called the longest putt ever recorded on video, according to TMZ.com.

The shot was made by swimmer Michael Phelps while playing at the Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland. Here’s the video:

more »

Actress From 'Bad News Bears' Remake Killed in Car Crash

An actress whose real-life baseball talent helped her land a role as a star pitcher in the 2005 remake of “Bad News Bears” has been killed in a traffic collision, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Sammi Kane Kraft, whose performance in “Bears” was her only film role, was 20. She died in a crash early Tuesday on a Los Angeles freeway.

“She was a passenger in an Audi that was speeding on the westbound 10 Freeway near Crenshaw Boulevard about 1:30 a.m. when it rear-ended a big rig and was then struck by another car, according to the California Highway Patrol,” the story reports. “Kraft was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said her brother, Frankie Kraft.”

The driver of the Audi was reportedly arrested on suspicion of felony drunk driving.

“Kraft was discovered on a baseball diamond in Los Angeles, where her family had moved from New York so she and another brother could play ball year-round,” the Times reports. “She secured the part of Amanda Whurlitzer, played with gusto by Tatum O'Neal in the 1976 original film, after throwing a 75 mph fastball during a casting call in Encino, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported in 2005.”

Richard Linklater, director of the remake, said in 2005: "Amanda is such a character that you can't 'out-Tatum' Tatum O'Neal, so we wanted to get a real girl who could do it. I didn't want to keep cutting to some boy with a wig on who could throw."

Kraft, who was 13 when the movie came out, played the only girl on the team of oddball baseball players, with Billy Bob Thornton playing the coach.

Kraft said in a 2005 interview: “I tried to make the role my own. I added a bit of the New York in me. A little toughness, a little bit of smart-ass."

sammi-kane-kraft.jpgSammi Kane Kraft

more »

NBC Pulls Off a Ratings Achievement It Hasn't Done in Almost 10 Years

NBC has scored a ratings achievement that it hasn’t accomplished in almost 10 years. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the network pulled off a three-day winning streak in the key demographic of adults 18 to 49.

"The last time the network won adults 18-49 this many nights in a row during the regular season, Matthew Perry was starring in 'Friends' -- and 'E.R.,' 'Will & Grace' and 'The West Wing' were still on the air," the story notes.

The network, which has been mired in fourth place in recent years, won on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights. The last time NBC had a three-night winning streak in season was Nov. 12-14, 2003.

The network has been getting the usual bump from “Sunday Night Football,” but it has also been helped by strong performances for "The Voice" and "Revolution," the story notes.

Back in 2003 the streak took place on Wednesday through Friday and featured a Thursday night “Must See TV” lineup that included “Scrubs,” “Will & Grace” and “E.R.”

more »

Hey Lance Armstrong, Here's Why You Need Oprah Winfrey in the Worst Possible Way

Yesterday, the U.S. Doping Agency made its case against Lance Armstrong. What's very clear to TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross is that now, more than ever, Armstrong needs Oprah. Click here to read Ross's blog entry.

more »

With 'Munsters' Series Dead, NBC Will Air Pilot as Halloween Special

NBC, trying to figure out a way to recoup its $10 million investment in its ill-fated reboot of "The Munsters," will air the project's pilot as a Halloween special, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The pilot, which was in development for years, will air Friday, Oct. 26, at 8 p.m., slotted before "Grimm." NBC declined to comment, the piece notes.

The update from writer-producer Bryan Fuller and director Bryan Singer reportedly failed to live up to the network's expectations, and Fuller and Singer are said to have held different views about the project's style, the story notes.

The new “Munsters” stars Jerry O'Connell as Herman Munster, a role made famous by Fred Gwynne, and Portia de Rossi as Lily Munster, taking over for Yvonne De Carlo.

more »

Another Viacom Network Is in Trouble in Ratings, Analyst Warns

On the heels of a well-documented ratings struggle for Viacom’s Nickelodeon cable network, another Viacom-owned cable channel appears to be in trouble in the ratings.

Citing a report from Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Todd Juenger, Joe Flint reports in the Los Angeles Times that MTV has a serious ratings issue on its hands. The network’s ratings declined 43% in the third quarter when compared with a year earlier, the story notes.

With the high-rated reality series "Jersey Shore" coming to a close, finding replacement programs may prove a challenge.

"We believe MTV is in for a very tough year," Juenger said. He added that he foresees more double-digit declines for the cable network.

The plunge comes after Viacom's children's network Nickelodeon has been dealing with a high-profile decline in ratings. Other Viacom networks also had a challenging third quarter, with Spike, Comedy Central and BET all down 13%, the piece notes. The only Viacom network to buck the trend was VH1, where ratings rose 5%.

more »

Supermodel Slated to Play Wife of 'Parks and Rec' Punching Bag

"Parks and Recreation" employee Jerry Gergich is often the butt of the department's jokes, but the character on the NBC sitcom, played by Jim O'Heir, is getting a knock-out wife. Supermodel Christie Brinkley has been tapped to play his often mentioned but never seen wife, Gayle, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Brinkley, a three-time cover girl for Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue, will appear in the late-November episode "Ron and Diane."

Brinkley's recent acting credits include a role in the 2011 movie "Jack and Jill" and an appearance in a 2009 episode of "Ugly Betty."

christie-brinkley.jpgChristie Brinkley

more »

New Owner Penske's Plans for Variety: No More Pay Wall, Print Editions to Continue

Jay Penske, the new owner of the venerable trade publication Variety, laid out his vision for staffers during a visit Wednesday to Variety’s L.A. headquarters, Deadline.com reports.

“According to those present, the gist of what Penske told the assembled group about Variety was that some things were going to stay the same and some things were going to change,” the piece reports. “His most important announcement was that Variety’s pay wall on the media outlet’s website will be coming down so that more than a small group of subscribers can consume its content.”

Penske Media Corp. closed the deal earlier this week, as previously reported, adding Variety to a stable that includes Deadline.com, TVLine, MovieLine, HollywoodLife, BGR and ENTV.

Penske said during his town hall meeting with staffers that Variety’s print editions will continue for the foreseeable future, according to the Deadline report. He also said “he plans to invest more in Variety’s digital platform and expand its editorial reach,” the piece reports.

The Deadline.com report also adds this intriguing note: “A Deadline reporter arriving to cover the Variety town hall wound up escorted from the building by security before it began.”

Please click here to read an analysis of Penske’s Variety purchase by TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross.

more »

'Game of Thrones' Puts Out Casting Call for Amputees

A casting call for HBO's "Game of Thrones" is looking for male amputees, willing to be filmed in a battle where their legs have been injured, reports the New York Post.

The casting is for one of the book series' most famous scenes, the Red Wedding, which is filming in Northern Ireland. Interested actors are asked to send in "a clear description regarding where your limb is missing eg. at knee, at ankle, etc.”

“Prosthetic makeup will be applied as though your leg has newly been severed. We understand that this is not for everyone, so please only apply if you are happy to participate," the casting notice reads.

The Red Wedding, in which a wedding between two clans turns into a massacre, is a crucial turning point in the fantasy novel's plot.

more »

'Grey's Anatomy' and '24' Actress to Star in Lifetime Project

An actress known for a number of television roles including “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Third Watch” and “24” will star in the Lifetime pilot "Secret Lives of Wives." Deadline.com reports that the project has cast Kim Raver in a starring role.

The project will look at the marriages of four women: Michelle, played by Raver; Reed (Salli Richardson), Keaton (Amber Clayton) and Jessie (Lauren Bittner), the story notes. Raver's character is described as elegant and down-to-earth, acting as the emotional focus of her group of friends.

Raver has appeared as Teddy Altman on “Grey’s Anatomy” and was Audrey Raines on “24.”

kim-raver2.jpgKim Raver

more »

Report: Miley Cyrus Drops Out of 'Bonnie & Clyde'; Project Lands Oscar-Nominated Director

Miley Cyrus has pulled her name from contention for playing the female lead in "Bonnie & Clyde," a four-hour miniseries in development for History and Lifetime, reports TVLine.com.

Cyrus had been in talks to portray Bonnie, and it's not clear what led to her decision to drop out, the story says.

Separately, Deadline.com reports that Oscar-nominated director Bruce Beresford has been tapped to direct the miniseries. Beresford received an Oscar nomination for best director for “Tender Mercies” in 1984, and was also nominated as a writer, for “Breaker Morant” in 1981. He’s also known for directing "Driving Miss Daisy."

The miniseries, which is set to air simultaneously on Lifetime and History, is being overseen by “Smash” executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.

more »

ABC Buys Comedy From 'Modern Family' Star

ABC has bought a semi-autobiographical comedy from one of the stars of the network’s hit sitcom "Modern Family." The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the network ordered the project from Ty Burrell, who plays Phil Dunphy on “Modern Family.”

Burrell's project is based on his childhood in Oregon, where he grew up with his younger brother Duncan Burrell. The project will track two city families who buy a small rural town's only store.

The Burrell brothers will co-write and co-executive produce the untitled comedy, which is from 20th Television and has a script plus penalty order from ABC.

ty-burrell.jpgTy Burrell

more »

Cable Networks Winning in Tight Presidential Race

With the presidential race tightening before the election, cable networks are coming out the winner, reports the New York Post.

Spending on local cable spots should jump to $550 million, according to Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker, who previously forecast a figure of $467 million. During the last presidential election, cable networks booked about $330 million.

Still, most spending will be funneled to broadcast, which is expected to book $3 billion, up from $2.1 billion in the last presidential election.

more »

CBS Cancels New Series After Just Two Episodes Air

CBS has moved quickly to tweak its fall schedule, becoming the first network of the season to cancel a show. Entertainment Weekly reports that the network has pulled the plug on its Friday night legal drama “Made in Jersey.”

The cancellation comes after only two episodes of the show aired.

The network will move “Undercover Boss’ into the Friday night lineup beginning Nov. 2, when it will move “CSI: NY” to 9 p.m., the story reports. In the meantime the network will fill its gaps with reruns of “NCIS” and “Hawaii Five-0.”

The report notes: “’Made in Jersey’ debuted to weak reviews and low ratings, premiering to 7.7 million viewers and a very slight 1.1 rating among adults 18-49. Last week, the Janet Montgomery drama dropped to 5.8 million viewers and a 0.8 rating. ‘Undercover Boss’ has proven to be a solid Friday performer and having the reality show in the 8 p.m. slot should help CBS’s surviving dramas on the night.”

The other new CBS dramas -- “Vegas” and “Elementary” -- are expected to fare better, with full-season orders anticipated this week, the report notes.

The speedy cancellation of “Jersey” spares Fox the humiliation of being the first broadcast network to cancel a show this season -- a fate many observers had predicted for Fox’s “The Mob Doctor.”

Commenting on ‘Mob Doctor,” EW reports: “There’s a rumor going around that Fox has quietly decided to air all 13 episodes. Fox hasn’t confirmed this, however.”

more »

Debbie Reynolds Hospitalized

Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds -- whose long career was jump-started by her lead performance in the 1952 musical classic “Singin’ in the Rain” -- has been hospitalized, Entertainment Weekly reports.

Reynolds, 80, reportedly had a bad reaction to medication. Her manager is quoted as saying: “Ms. Reynolds has had an adverse reaction to some medicine and hopefully will be released from the hospital today.”

There was some uncertainty about whether Reynolds is canceling appearances as a result of her health situation. Some news outlets reported that she is canceling concerts for the next three months, but her manager indicated that the decision has not yet been made.

Reynolds’ manager told EW: “We are taking a wait and see position regarding future personal appearances and will abide by the doctor’s advice.”

Reynolds, the mother of actress Carrie Fisher, was nominated for an Oscar in 1965 for “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” She has an Emmy nomination for a guest appearance on “Will & Grace” and a Daytime Emmy nomination for the Showtime children’s special “A Gift of Love: The Daniel Huffman Story.”

She recently appeared onscreen opposite Katherine Heigl on the big screen in “One for the Money.”

more »

Video: Adele's Theme Song for New James Bond Movie

The theme song for “Skyfall,” the new James Bond movie, performed by Adele, is already a huge hit, racking up more than 23 million views on YouTube in less than a week. Here’s the clip:

more »

Lifetime Renews Docu-Series

Lifetime announced today that it has renewed a docu-series that has been performing well for the cable channel. The series is “Dance Moms,” which will return for a third season.

Lifetime ordered 26 new episodes of the hour show, with the new season set to launch in 2013. The series wrapped up season two in September.

In its second season the show was the No. 1 unscripted cable series in its time slot (Tuesdays at 9 p.m.) in women 18-49 and women 2+, Lifetime reported. The season was up over season one by wide margins in a number of demos, including a 69% improvement in adults 18-49, 72% in women 18-49, 64% in adults 25-54 and 66% in women 25-54.

Additionally, “Dance Moms” is Lifetime’s youngest-skewing current series, with a median age of 32, the network said.

more »

Ted Koppel Reveals 'The only time in more than 50 years that I've ever killed a story'

Ted Koppel has revealed the only time in his career as a journalist that he decided not to air a story, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Koppel spoke to THR yesterday, Oct. 9, 2012, at an event promoting the release of Ben Affleck's new movie "Argo," which is about the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979-1980.

It was during this crisis that Koppel, who was then the Diplomatic Correspondent for ABC News, gained national attention.

ABC put on a M-F late-night program about the hostage crisis that later turned into "Nightline."

During the hostage crisis, Koppel and some other journalists had found out that "six American workers who had escaped the embassy during the raid were hiding out at the home of the Canadian Ambassador," THR reports.

Koppel then tells THR, " 'I got a call from the Secretary of State, saying, 'I understand that you’re going to put this story on the air tonight. And I can’t tell you not to do it, but I would ask you not to, because it seems to us inevitable that if you put it on the air, that the Canadian Embassy would probably be taken, and that the Americans that escaped from the US Embassy would probably be killed.' "

"Ultimately, [Koppel] decided not to go with the report. 'The only time in more than 50 years that I’ve ever killed a story,' he said."

more »

Breakout Hit That Helped Define ABC Family to End Run

A popular cable drama series that helped define ABC Family is coming to an end, according to Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

Andreeva wrties that "The Secret Life of the American Teenager," the "drama from '7th Heaven' creator Brenda Hampton, was the breakout hit that put ABC Family on the scripted map when it premiered in June 2008. It also helped launch several of the next generation of successful ABC Family series. Additionally, it made a star out of lead Shailene Woodley, who went on to land the co-lead opposite George Clooney in 'The Descendants,' a role that earned her much acclaim."

The series is readying its final 12-episode season for a March 2013 premiere.

According to the version of the story in The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed blog, the final season will bring the show’s total episode count to more than 120. The decision to end the show was relayed to its stars by creator Brenda Hampton, the piece adds.

The program, which deals with a teenager's unplanned pregnancy, stars Woodley as the teen and Molly Ringwald as her mom.

more »

This Is Wild. Now We Hear a Story That Was First Published in 1860 (No, That's NOT a Typo) Has Yet a Second TV Network Interested in It

Hmm. Looks like if you want to really have a hot property you need to get your hands on a story that's 150 years old or so.

Take, for example, the Charles Dickens novel "Great Expectations," first published as a newspaper serial in 1860. Just a day after word surfaced about a Reese Witherspoon adaptation of the book, Deadline.com reports that “Great Expectations” has inspired another television project.

The newest twist on the classic novel has been put in development by ABC and is called "Legacy," the report notes. From producer Debra Martin Chase, the project is said to be a sexy soap with a modern take on the classic novel. Jeremy Anderson and Patrick Moss will write the script and co-executive produce.

As previously reported, Witherspoon is executive producing an adaptation of "Great Expectations" for the CW.

more »

Megan Mullally Returns to NBC Sitcom

An NBC comedy series is bringing back Megan Mullally, reports EW.com's Inside TV. Mullally will reprise her role on “Parks and Recreation" as Tammy 2, a diabolical librarian and the second ex-wife of Ron Swanson, the story reports.

In real life, Mullally is the spouse of Nick Offerman, who plays Swanson. Offerman's character is starting a romance with Diane, played by Lucy Lawless.

Tammy 2 "does what she’s best at: trying to ruin Ron’s life,” executive producer Michael Schur said. "It’s kind of the ultimate test of Ron’s relationship with Diane. And also the ultimate mission for Ron’s emotional guardian, Leslie Knope [Amy Poehler].”

Mullally, known for her long run on NBC’s “Will & Grace,” will return to “Parks” in late November.

megan-mullally.jpgMegan Mullally

more »

Another Night Out for Lindsay Lohan, Another 911 Call

Actress Lindsay Lohan, who has been keeping authorities busy in the New York area lately, was involved in another incident that included a 911 call this morning, TMZ.com reports. This time Lohan reportedly got into a domestic dispute with her mom, Dina Lohan, the story reports.

The two women “were in a blowout, violent fight early this morning, that ended in a 911 call with cops rushing to the scene,” the story reports. “It started last night when the duo went to a nightclub in New York City. Our photog says they left the club at around 4 AM and headed back to Dina's home in Long Island.

“Lindsay and Dina started arguing in the car and it escalated when they got home. We're told it became physical with Lindsay sustaining a cut on her leg. We're also told there was property damage -- including a broken bracelet of Lindsay's -- that occurred during the scuffle.”

A 911 call for domestic violence was reportedly placed, with the caller indicating Lindsay was being held against her will by her mom and the driver, the story reports. Authorities reportedly took a domestic incident report but did not make any arrests.

The story adds: “Sources close to Lindsay tell TMZ ... Dina was ‘wasted’ at the nightclub. We're told the fight started when Lindsay wanted to take her limo to her NYC hotel, but Dina wanted to take it to her home in Long Island, to avoid paying for a taxi. Somehow Dina prevailed, over the intense protests of her daughter. We're told Dina scratched Lindsay's leg in the process.”

more »

Wow: Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer Tells Shareholders That They Must Recognize 'A Fundamental Shift Under Way in Our Business'

In the just released 2012 annual report by Microsoft, company CEO Steve Ballmer tells shareholders that they must recognize "a fundamental shift under way in our business."

Ballmer's letter to shareholders contiues, "The full value of our software will be seen and felt in how people use devices and services at work and in their personal lives. This is a significant shift, both in what we do and how we see ourselves -- as a devices and services company. It impacts how we run the company, how we develop new experiences, and how we take products to market for both consumers and businesses. The work we have accomplished in the past year and the roadmap in front of us brings this to life."

In other words, look for more hardware from the software giant.

Writes Ballmer: "There will be times when we build specific devices for specific purposes, as we have chosen to do with Xbox and the recently announced Microsoft Surface. In all our work with partners and on our own devices, we will focus relentlessly on delivering delightful, seamless experiences across hardware, software and services. This means as we, with our partners, develop new Windows devices we'll build in services people want. Further, as we develop and update our consumer services, we'll do so in ways that take full advantage of hardware advances, that complement one another and that unify all the devices people use daily. So right out of the box, a customer will get a stunning device that is connected to unique communications, productivity and entertainment services from Microsoft as well as access to great services and applications from our partners and developers around the world."

To read Ballmer's entire letter to Microsoft shareholders --  and we urge you to do so -- please click on the link above.


more »

Showtime Marketing Executive Dead at 61

A longtime marketing executive for Showtime's in-house agency Red Group has died after battling cancer, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Frank Pintauro joined Showtime in 1989 after working at NBC Entertainment and ABC News, creating the pay network's award-winning ad campaigns, the story notes. He was in charge of creative for on-air, editorial production, marketing promotion and graphics, animation, digital content and print, the piece adds.

"The success of Showtime is due in large part to Frank’s contributions over the past 20 years," Showtime Chairman and CEO Matthew C. Blank said in a statement.

more »

Alex Karras Dies -- Football Great Made an Impact in TV, Film

Alex Karras, who was a standout on the football field during his NFL days and went on to a successful career in television and film, has died. CNN reports that Karras, 77, died today at his home in Los Angeles.

Karras, one of the stars of the 1980s sitcom “Webster,” was surrounded by family members, a spokesman for the family said. Karras was thought to be near death after word surfaced that he had suffered kidney failure, as we reported Tuesday.

Karras died “after a heroic fight with kidney disease, heart disease, dementia and for the last two years, stomach cancer," the spokesman said.

One of Karras’ signature film roles was his performance as Mongo in the 1974 Mel Brooks comedy feature “Blazing Saddles.” He also portrayed a gay bodyguard in 1982 in Blake Edwards’ “Victor Victoria,” among other film appearances.

Karras was a defensive lineman for the NFL’s Detroit Lions from the late 1950s through the 1960s -- a four-time Pro Bowler who was named to the 1960s All-Decade NFL Team. He entered the NFL after a stellar playing career at the University of Iowa.

Here’s the famous “punching the horse” clip from “Blazing Saddles” featuring Karras as Mongo:

more »

'Last Man Standing' Producer -- Who's Also Showrunner on New ABC Sitcom -- Takes Leave for Rehab

Kevin Abbott, an executive producer of ABC's "Last Man Standing" and the showrunner of the new ABC comedy "Malibu Country," has taken an indefinite medical leave to enter rehab, Nellie Andreeva reports on Deadline.com.

"I hear Abbott, a family man, made the decision to seek help and has the support of 'Malibu Country' star/executive producer Reba McEntire and her husband/manager, Narvel Blackstock, also an executive producer on the show," Andreeva writes.

"Malibu Country’s” senior writing and producing staff will divvy up his showrunner duties, and shooting on the show hasn't been impacted by Abbott's absence yet, the story says. "Malibu Country" will premiere Nov. 2.

Abbott’s leave also shouldn't affect production on the Tim Allen show "Last Man Standing," the piece adds.

more »

ABC News and Univision Narrow Down the List of Names for Their New Cable Network

ABC News and Univision are closing in on a name for their joint venture, with a number of choices in contention, reports TVNewser.com.

The names under consideration include VZTA (pronounced "vista"), Accent, UNA and U&A, the story notes. The new cable network could "own" either VZTA or Accent, while UNA and U&A are based on the names of the two parent companies, the piece points out.

The prospective names were filed in September with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office by Univision ABC News Network LLC, the piece notes.

The cable network is slated to debut in 2013.

more »

Legendary Rocker Stevie Nicks Takes Sides in 'Idol' Dispute Between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj. Says Nicks: 'How Dare She!'

A legendary rocker is weighing in on the feud between "American Idol" judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey with some harsh words, reports The Daily.

Stevie Nicks, talking about Minaj's taped outburst against Carey, said, "How dare this little girl! … If I had been Mariah I would have walked over to Nicki and strangled her to death right there," according to the report.

The 64-year old singer added, “I would have killed her in front of all those people and had to go to jail for it." Nicks, who was a coach for contestants on the last season of "Idol," added that she wouldn't consider judging for a talent competition like "Idol."

"If you stick me in the middle of a burning fire, I don’t think I’d like it very much," she said.

stevie-nicks.jpgStevie Nicks

more »

Why the New Showrunners of 'Community' at First Turned Down the Job -- Twice!

The new showrunners on NBC's "Community" -- David Guarascio and Moses Port, who were brought in after Dan Harmon was pushed out of the role -- tell The New York Times that they first refused the job.

"We each said no, twice," Port said. "We’re huge fans of the show and always have been. There was some awareness of 'What is the situation you’re stepping into?' It’s also the fourth year of a show, which is tricky, in and of itself."

Asked whether they had contact with Harmon after they accepted, Guarascio said they exchanged some emails, which he described as "friendly and supportive."

Guarascio added that part of their mission is “to keep the show what it was.”

"In a perfect universe, we catch fire, we get more episodes and we’re talking about Season 5. The reason why I guess we do think of ourselves more as caretakers is that we’re not trying to redefine the franchise," he said. "If this does turn out to be the end and the last 13, everyone really wants them to be great. You just don’t want to go out with a whimper."

more »

Kardashian Matriarch Working on Talk Show

Kardashian family matriarch Kris Jenner is reportedly in early talks with Twentieth Television to test a talk show next summer, reports B&C.

Jenner would test the program on Fox-owned TV stations, following a pattern of Fox testing new shows before picking them up, the story notes. The network previously tested Debmar-Mercury's Wendy WIlliams and Twentieth's entertainment magazine "Dish Nation" before picking up the shows, the story notes.

Jenner has appeared on E!'s "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and appeared on "The Talk" on CBS occasionally.

more »

Fox Moves Forward With J.J. Abrams Comedy

Fox has given a comedy from J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot a put pilot commitment, reports Deadline.com. Called "Adulting," the comedy is based on a yet-to-be-released book by the same name, a nonfiction guide to becoming a grown-up that's based on a blog by Kelly Williams Brown, the story notes.

"The Vow" co-writers Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein are executive producing the project with Abrams and Bryan Burk. The tone of the project is said to be similar to Fox's comedy "New Girl," which could make it a contender as a companion for the show, the story notes.

more »

Cable Sitcom Shelved -- Until 2014

A cable comedy series is going on hiatus, with its key player explaining that the move is designed to give him and the show time to contemplate where they’re heading. Newsday reports that FX’s “Louie,” starring Louis CK, is due back in 2014.

Louis CK is quoted as saying: "The last three seasons have been this surge of fun and work and stories. It's been great to share all this stuff, but I want to keep going. I want the show to keep getting better. That's my goal. I don't want it to be making the doughnuts. I want it to keep being something that comes from somewhere fun and important, and I want it to stay funny."

The strategy isn’t unprecedented, Verne Gay notes in his piece for Newsday. He writes: “Fact is, this kind of breather does happen -- Larry David takes years off between seasons of ‘Curb’ -- and there's nothing wrong with it. Assuming all is on the up and up here, and there's not some sort of evil hidden corporate agenda, good for FX in giving CK the time to re-think. You don't rush art, and there is art here.”

Gay describes “Louie” as “an existential comedy, about someone who realizes the universe is utterly indifferent, and that the thin gauze separating sanity and utter lunacy is frayed in certain places for the great mass of humanity. Or at least for the show's anti-hero. As mentioned, hilarious!”

more »

Death Watch Begins for New Fall Shows -- Which Series Will Be the Season's First Casualty?

Even with the new TV season only a few weeks old, early ratings for some shows make it clear they could already be in trouble, EW.com’s Inside TV reports. Meanwhile, other shows may be in position to receive early full-season orders.

The Fox medical drama "The Mob Doctor" is a leading contender to become the first dead drama of the season, with the show's rating among 18-49 year olds dropping to a 1.0 in its second week (from a 1.3 for the premiere), the story notes.

Another show that doesn't inspire optimism is the NBC comedy "Animal Practice," which dropped to a 1.3 rating in the demographic in its second week (from a 1.4 in the fall season’s first week), the piece notes. In its favor, the show gained 25% adding in DVR viewing. “Animal Practice” is given a little worse chance of surviving than NBC’s “Guys With Kids,” which held steady with 1.6 averages in weeks one and two.

Shows that are expected to receive full-season orders include two CBS dramas: "Elementary," the Sherlock Holmes drama, and "Vegas," a show starring Dennis Quaid, the story notes. "Vegas" drew 12.1 million total viewers and a 2.0 rating in the 18-49 demographic in its second week, while "Elementary," which has received good reviews, had 11.1 million total viewers and a 2.5 rating in the demographic in its second week.

CBS’s “Made in Jersey” was down to a feeble 0.8 rating in 18-49 (from a 1.1 in week one) with 6.7 million viewers, but that’s on Friday night when the standards are lower. It may be too soon to forecast the show’s fate.

more »

NBC's Recent Financial Moves -- Including New Cuts and New Spending -- Show a Network Reshaping Its Priorities

NBC’s recent fiscal moves -- including slashing Jay Leno’s salary for “Tonight” in half while shelling out more than $8 billion to re-up with “Sunday Night Football” -- reveal a network shifting its priorities, the AP reports. But the moves may be just what the network needs.

“Rumors swirl about a salary cut for Matt Lauer and Alec Baldwin tweets an offer to cut his salary, even as the network gambles on a $4.4 billion bid for the Olympics,” the story reports. “Is this any way to run a network that's been stuck at No. 4 in the prime-time ratings for eight seasons?

“Yes, according to observers, who say NBC is making the right moves by saving where it can and spending where it should under new owner Comcast Corp.”

Said media veteran Garth Ancier, a former entertainment chief at NBC: "I'm impressed they're both taking all these creative shots and exercising financial discipline.”

Ancier added that Stephen Burke, Comcast vice president and NBCUniversal CEO, "knows where to spend money and where not to," the piece reports.

The report adds: “But steps including Leno's pay cut (to a still-enviable $15 million) and ‘Tonight’ staff reductions raised eyebrows and this question: Is NBC returning to the chokehold on costs that was in place under previous CEO Jeff Zucker, when viewership spiraled downward?

The report cites the disastrous move of “Tonight” to 10 p.m. -- as a cheaper alternative to drama series -- as an example of the Zucker approach.

The piece notes: “Barclays Capital analyst Anthony DiClemente cautions against a ‘cynical’ reading of NBC's position. Particularly in a TV universe fragmented by cable and satellite, ‘management is looking to be as efficient as possible when they look at program expenses,’ DiClemente said.”

DiClemente adds: "NBC has made a really impressive recovery from the last-place broadcast network to having a fall schedule that put them in first place" during week one of the fall season. NBC continued to lead during week two in the key 18-49 demo, while falling to No. 2 in total viewers.

The piece adds: “Burke, in charge of NBCUniversal since cable TV giant Comcast's 2011 takeover, told a conference call with analysts last month that NBC, which he said is averaging $1 billion less in operating profits annually than the other major broadcasters, ABC, CBS and Fox, is his top priority for the coming year among properties that include cable channels, the Universal Pictures movie studio and theme parks.”

Said Burke: "There's really no reason for that (competitive difference), other than we need to make better shows, we need to schedule them better, we need to rebuild NBC brick-by-brick, which is the process we're going through right now."

more »

NBC Wins Monday as 'The Voice' Rises

NBC took another win in the Nielsen overnights for Monday, powered by a strong performance by the two-hour “The Voice,” TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

The singing competition was the top show of the night ith a 4.7 average rating in the key demo of viewers 18-49 -- a slight improvement on the 4.6 the show delivered a week earlier. NBC’s “Revolution” continued to show strength too, despite a slight dip to a 3.1, down from a 3.2 last week.

CBS was mostly up from a week ago, including a 3.7 average in 18-49 for “2 Broke Girls,” up from a 3.5 last week. “How I Met Your Mother” dipped slightly to a 3.2, off from a 3.3; “Partners” was up one-tenth to a 2.2; “Mike & Molly” rose two-tenths to a 3.1; and “Hawaii Five-0” climbed two-tenths to a 2.2.

ABC’s two-hour “Dancing with the Stars: All Stars” was even with a week ago, delivering a 2.1 in the 18-49 demo. The Alphabet Network got good news at 10 p.m., with “Castle” up three-tenths of a ratings point to a 2.2.

Fox came in well behind the other big 4 broadcast nets, settling for a 2.0 average rating in viewers 18-49 for “Bones,” down from a 2.1 a week ago, and seeing the already low-rated “The Mob Doctor” slip a bit more, down to a 0.9 average from a 1.0 last week.

For prime time overall, NBC finished with a 4.2 average rating in viewers 18-49, easily outpacing CBS (2.8 average), ABC (2.2), Univision (1.6) and Fox (1.4). ABC took a win in total viewers, averaging 12.4 million to 11.1 million for NBC, 8.7 million for CBS, 5.3 million for Fox and 3.8 million for Univision.

more »

Video: QVC Host Faints on Live TV -- and Co-Host Goes Right On Selling

Giving new meaning to the axiom “the show must go on,” a QVC host kept right on pitching the show’s wares after guest host Cassie Slane fainted during the live telecast Sunday. Here’s the video clip from CNN showing host Dan Hughes mildly concerned, but not enough to stop the selling:

more »

Animal Planet Brings Back Series for Another Season

Animal Planet has made the decision to bring back a series for another season, B&C reports. The cable channel renewed the fishing adventure show "Off the Hook: Extreme Catches."

The reality series, which stars pro wrestler Showtime Eric Young, has been renewed for a second season. The network ordered 18 half-hour episodes, with season two set to premiere in summer 2013.

In its first season on Animal Planet, "Off the Hook" averaged 620,000 viewers per episode, the report notes.

more »

'Jackass' Star Tries to Clear the Air After Tweeting Photo of Himself Holding Gun to Head of Puppy

TV and radio personality Bam Margera -- a star of the “Jackass” movies and MTV’s “Viva La Bam” and “Bam’s Unholy Union” -- has been trying to explain a tweet that included a photo of himself holding a gun to the head of a puppy, Entertainment Weekly reports.

The gun is reportedly fake, but the photo included the message, “Penny pooped in my bed. Not too fond of that. If she poops one more time she goes Bye Byes.”

“In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, 33-year-old Magera said the gun was fake, and that he was unaware of a rise in animal-abuse cases in the area,” the story reports. “’I think those people need to go down,’ he said, adding that he would’ve never posted the photo if he’d known about the recent instances of abuse. ‘Just hurting another animal is rude, crude and more.’”

more »

Trade Publication Variety Purchased by Penske Media Corp., Owner of Deadline.com

Penske Media Corp. announced today that it has closed a deal to purchase the venerable trade publication Variety from Reed Elsevier. Deadline.com -- which is also owned by Penske -- reports that the move adds Variety to a Penske stable that also includes TVLine, MovieLine, HollywoodLife, BGR and ENTV.

Veteran film writer Mike Fleming writes on Deadline.com: “I’ve thought a lot about the possibility this deal would close and I’m sure my former colleagues and the newer staff there will be understandably apprehensive. This is a bit jarring for me. I spent 20 years writing columns and covering the film business for Daily and Weekly Variety before moving to Deadline. I am relieved to see the publication get an opportunity to be reinvigorated. I would be surprised, for instance, if Variety continues behind a pay wall, or continues to exist in its current form as a daily and weekly print publication.”

Nikki Finke, who runs Deadline.com, has been a critic of traditional trade publications such as Variety.

Writes Fleming: “Even before Nikki Finke created Deadline and changed the game by telling unvarnished truths quickly and with attitude and savvy, our system had already made it very hard to surprise the industry reading audience, even after we added a website. I was a print snob who tried to nest on my exclusives and who thought trees had to die for me to be relevant. Nikki proved that a fallacy by building a dominant brand from the ground without killing a single tree. Too often, she would kick my butt up and down Wilshire Blvd by moving faster than I ever could at Variety.”

In a statement, Jay Penske, chairman and chief executive officer of PMC, said: “Since 1905, Variety has been the world’s premier entertainment news source, and is today one of the most recognized global media brands. We are thrilled to welcome Variety and its exceptional team into the PMC organization. As part of this significant acquisition, we plan to rapidly build upon Variety’s foundation while extending this invaluable brand’s presence across the Web, broadcast, mobile, and international markets.”

Neil Stiles, president of Variety, says in the press release announcing the sale: “We are enthusiastic that PMC will become the new steward of the great Variety franchise, which Reed Elsevier has built over the past 25 years, and the Silverman family for the 80 years before that. PMC is uniquely positioned to preserve and build the market presence of Variety. Their shared values and complementary assets provides for many new opportunities for the business model and brand.”

Click here to read an analysis of the sale of Variety by TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross.

more »

The Genius of Deadline.com's Nikki Finke and Her Boss, Jay Penske. And Penske's Purchase of Variety

TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross gives his valuable perspective into Finke, Penske and the purchase of Variety by Penske. Please click here to read Ross's insights.

more »

Former NFL Great, Known for TV and Film Roles, Reported to Be Near Death

A former star in the NFL who went on to establish himself as an actor on television and in film is reportedly near death after suffering kidney failure. Fox News reports that Alex Karras, who starred in the 1980s comedy series “Webster,” has been given only a few days to live.

Karras, 77, was a standout defensive lineman for the Detroit Lions in the late 1950s and 1960s, making the Pro Bowl four times and being named to the 1960s All-Decade NFL Team. He went on to a successful acting career, including an iconic role as Mongo in the 1974 movie “Blazing Saddles.”

In the 1980s he starred along with his wife, Susan Clark, in the ABC sitcom “Webster.”

Other film roles have included “Porky’s” and “Victor Victoria.” Karras also spent three seasons in the broadcast booth on “Monday Night Football.”

Karras has been suffering from dementia and is part of a lawsuit by a number of former players who are suing the NFL over the treatment of head injuries.

alex-karras.jpgAlex Karras

more »

Why Is NBC Delaying the Season Premieres of Two Series?

NBC has postponed the scheduled season premieres for two series, Deadline.com reports. The network had planned to roll out the new seasons of comedies "Community" and "Whitney" Oct. 19, but will now air repeat programming in the 8 p.m. time period instead, the story reports.

The decision comes after NBC tapped Jeff Bader as its new head in scheduling, as we reported in August. Some insiders had already expressed skepticism about scheduling two comedies on low-trafficked Friday nights, the story notes.

In its announcement, NBC hints that the shows might be rescheduled for a more popular evening as replacements if needed, the story notes. The network credits its early-season success, indicating it will focus its promotional efforts on new programs airing Monday through Wednesday.

"Without having to launch these comedies on Friday at this time, we can keep our promotion focused on earlier in the week -- plus we will have both comedies in our back pocket if we need to make any schedule changes on those nights," NBC said in its announcement.

more »

Guess Where Paula Abdul Will Judge Next

Paula Abdul, who was a judge on "American Idol" for a number of years, and who joined Simon Cowell as a judge on the first season of his "X Factor," has another judging gig lined up.

This time, however, it's for one night only -- on a high-profile ABC competition show.

Abdul has been hired to be a guest judge on ABC’s popular "Dancing with the Stars," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed

Abdul will appear on the show's panel during its Oct. 15 performance show. "I've been sneaking into the show for years, and now I get to be a guest judge," Abdul said. "It's a marriage made in dancing heaven."


paula-abdul.jpgPaula Abdul

more »

Ex-Penn State Coach Jerry Sandusky Receives His Sentence for Child Sex Abuse

Jerry Sandusky, a longtime assistant to head coach Joe Paterno as part of the Penn State football program, received a sentence today of 30 to 60 years in prison for child sexual abuse, NBC News reports.

“Sandusky -- who was defensive coordinator and for many years the presumed heir-apparent to legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno -- could have faced as long as 400 years for his convictions on 45 counts of child sexual abuse,” the story reports. “But McKean County Common Pleas Court Judge John Cleland, who was brought in to hear the trial after all of Centre County's judges recused themselves, told Sandusky that at age 68, he would be in prison ‘for the rest of your life.’"

Said Cleland: "The crime is not only what you did to their bodies but to their psyches and their souls and the assault to the well-being of the larger community in which we all live."

Sandusky attorney Joe Amendola said he would file an appeal within 10 days, adding that he didn’t have time to ready a proper defense.

“Four of Sandusky's victims and the mother of a fifth addressed the court, some of them speaking tearfully to Sandusky,” the report adds. “They told of how they had looked up at Sandusky as a mentor, only to have him betray their trust.”

Said one victim, addressing Sandusky: "You were the person in my life who was supposed to be a role model, teach honor, respect and accountability, and instead you did terrible things that screwed up my life.

"You had the chance to plead guilty and spare us the testimony. Rather than take the accountability, you decided to try to attack us as if we had done something wrong."

Sandusky continued to claim innocence, telling the court: “I didn’t do these alleged disgusting acts,” the story reports.

more »

Mitt Romney Turns Down Nickelodeon's 'Kids Pick the President'

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has turned down Nickelodeon's "Kids Pick the President" special, prompting the network to say it's "disappointed" with the decision, reports TVNewser.com.

President Obama taped his answers to kids' questions at the White House, but with Romney declining, the show will use archive video of Romney answering similar questions to the ones the kids asked, the story notes.

“After numerous attempts by ‘Nick News’ to get former Governor Mitt Romney to participate in the special, his camp declined saying he was unable to fit it into his schedule,” Nickelodeon said in a statement.

Host Linda Ellerbee said in a statement that answering the kids' questions directly shows that candidates have respect for children. "We are disappointed that Mitt Romney wouldn’t take the time to answer the questions, but are thrilled that President Obama participated in the special," she said.

The "Kids Pick the President" specials have been fairly accurate at picking who will win the presidential election, with the children correctly predicting five out of the last six elections, the piece notes.

more »

Jennifer Lopez Pilot Comes Under Attack

A Jennifer Lopez pilot for ABC Family has come under attack from an activist group that has been outspoken about television content. The conservative group One Million Moms, which recently targeted NBC's comedy "The New Normal," has now set its sights on “The Fosters,” according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The ABC Family project tracks a lesbian couple raising a family, according to the piece. ABC Family ordered the pilot in August, with Teri Polo of "The West Wing" and Sherri Saum of "Rescue Me" starring as a gay couple who are parenting a biological child and several adopted children.

One Million Moms lashed out at the network Monday, claiming that the Disney-owned cable outlet is "anything but family friendly."

"While foster care and adoption is a wonderful thing and the Bible does teach us to help orphans, this program is attempting to redefine marriage and family by having two moms raise these children together," the group wrote on its website.

The group added: "One Million Moms is not sure how the explanation will be given on how the biological children were conceived. None of this material is acceptable content for a family show.”

ABC Family declined comment, the story reports.

more »

Reese Witherspoon Exec Producing Adaptation of Dickens Classic for CW

Actress Reese Witherspoon is executive producing an adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic novel "Great Expectations" for the CW, Deadline.com reports.

Called "Expectations," the project will focus on a small-town girl who wants to find success in San Francisco but is disillusioned by the city's reality, the piece notes. She then finds her fortunes helped by an anonymous benefactor.

The adaptation will be written by film writer J. Mills Goodloe.

more »

Tribune Stations Order First-Run Action Hour Led by 'Rocky IV' Star

An hourlong action drama led by one of the stars of "Rocky IV" is headed for Tribune stations in the fall of 2013, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

"Rescue 3,” featuring “Rocky IV’s” Dolph Lundgren, has received a two-year order from Tribune. Emmett/Furla Films will co-finance the 20-episode season with Envision Entertainment, the story says.

The drama will focus on an elite task force of lifeguards, firefighters and Coast Guard officials as they deal with rescues that require all three agencies, the piece notes. Lundgren will play Capt. John Mathews, who leads a unit in the task force.

"We are very happy that first-run scripted programming is back in syndication. 'Rescue 3' will definitely be a success for our stations," said Sean Compton, Tribune’s president of programming and entertainment.

more »

Nat Geo Defends Its 'Seal Team Six' Scheduling as Non-Political

The decision to air the feature-length movie "Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden" two days before the presidential election isn't political, National Geographic Channel said, according to EW.com's Inside TV.

The film dramatizes the events around bin Laden's killing and was originally produced for a theatrical release, the story notes. After its TV debut, the project will be available on Netflix on Nov. 5.

The report notes that the scheduling decision followed discussion between Howard T. Owens, president of Nat Geo, and Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company, which distributes the film. Weinstein is a supporter of President Obama, who greenlighted the raid on bin Laden.

The story also notes that National Geographic Channel is a joint venture of National Geographic and News Corp.’s Fox Cable Networks.

"The National Geographic Channel has no political agenda, and believes that audiences can and will judge projects of this type on their own merits," the network said in a statement. "National Geographic Channel also has a reputation of getting inside access, and bringing big events to our viewers first -- for instance, we were the first and only network to have an exclusive with George W. Bush for the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 (our highest rated show last year)."

more »

NBC's 'Dracula' Taps 'Carnivale' Creator as Showrunner and Writer

NBC's 10-episode series "Dracula" has tapped the creator of HBO’s "Carnivale" as its showrunner and head writer, reports Deadline.com.

“Carnivale’s” Dan Knauf will work with “Dracula” creator Cole Haddon on the project, which will star Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the titular vampire.

The TV show will be set in 1890s and will follow Dracula as he arrives in London, pretending to be an American businessman, and ends up falling in love with a woman who appears to be a reincarnation of his late wife, the piece notes.

more »

Syfy Renews Series

Syfy has made the decision to renew one of its original series, B&C reports. The cable channel ordered a fourth season of "Face Off," the story reports.

The show's third season has been drawing an average audience of 986,000 viewers 18-49 and 1.7 million total viewers, the story notes. The ratings are currently up 5% with the 18-49 segment compared with its second season.

The reality show focuses on prosthetic make-up artists who compete to create the types of faces seen in science fiction and horror films.

more »

Secrets of 'Fawlty Towers' Revealed? Monty Python's John Cleese -- Following His 'Alimony Stand-Up Tour' -- Will Pen Autobiography

John Cleese, one of the founding members of the British satirical group Monty Python, as well as a comedic actor known for TV's "Fawlty Towers" and the feature film "A Fish Called Wanda," has agreed to write his autobiography, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

The deal is with the Random House Group both in the U.K. and the U.S. Neither a publication date nor a title of the book was revealed.

According to the version of this story published by the U.K. newspaper The Independent, Cleese's book deal "comes in the wake of a stand-up tour, known as the Alimony Tour, which followed the costly collapse of his third marriage and subsequent divorce in 2008."

The Independent also reports that Cleese, 72, said about the book deal, "It's the perfect moment to look back on my life in anticipation of the next fifty years."


John Cleese

more »

Jim Lehrer Blasts Critics of How He Moderated the First Presidential Debate

Jim Lehrer, 82, the longtime newsman who moderated the first presidental debate between Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama, says "he was surprised to get criticism from political pros and fellow journalists, people he said should have seen what he was trying to accomplish," writes the TV writer for the Associated Press, David Bauder.

According to the story, Lehrer, the former news anchor for "PBS NewsHour," "said Monday that he accomplished precisely what he wanted to while moderating the first presidential debate: get Mitt Romney and Barack Obama talking to each other. ... He took some heavy criticism on social media for his light hand, letting the candidates talk and generally asking open-ended questions designed to encourage them to explore differences."

Notes the AP story, "Among the critics [of the way Lehrer handled his moderating chores] were Dan Abrams of ABC News, Michael Tomasky of The Daily Beast and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC. 

Upon hearing some of the criticism Lehrer told the AP, "I was thinking, 'Weren't you paying attention to what was happening before your very eyes?'"

The article adds: "Lehrer planned to divide Wednesday's debate into 15-minute sections divided by topic areas. But that quickly went off the rails.'The first few times I said "let's move on" and they wanted to keep talking, the inclination of course is to stop them so I could cover all the subjects I wanted to cover,' he said. 'But I'm sitting there thinking, "Wait a minute, they're talking to each other, leave 'em alone." So I backed off. ... It would have been different if they were talking about tiddlywinks or baseball, their favorite color or something like that. [But] they were talking about the things that really matter.'"

more »

CNN Launches Film Unit, Unveils Star-Studded First Project

[Updated on Oct. 8, 2012 at 3:30 p.m. PT to make it clear that the film unit in question will focus on documentaries. Also includes a CNN executive's confirmation of a story first reported in August, that CNN is also looking at reality programming.]

CNN has announced the creation of a new film venture, CNN Films, aiming to create projects with top filmmakers for theatrical release and to be aired on CNN and CNN International, TheWrap.com reports.

Our friend Joe Flint, of the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog, says in his version of the story that the new unit will "acquire and finance documentaries." 

The first documentary is an acquisition, “Girl Rising,” described in TheWrap report as “a look at girls' education worldwide directed by Academy Award nominee Richard E. Robbins (‘Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience’). It includes voice performances by Academy Award winner Meryl Streep, Academy Award nominee Anne Hathaway, Kerry Washington, and Selena Gomez. It is executive produced by Tom Yellin and Holly Gordon of the Documentary Group and Paul G. Allen of Vulcan Productions.”

The venture has signed Oscar-winning director and producer Alex Gibney (“Taxi to the Dark Side,” “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” and “Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer”) and director Andrew Rossi (“Page One: Inside the New York Times”) to development deals, the report notes.

In the Company Town account, Flint calls the move a step in the right direction for CNN.

“The network needs to try something different,” Flint writes. “It has, of course, produced its own documentaries on social issues but now wants to become far more active in acquiring content as well.”

Flint also says in his story, "That does not mean that CNN is throwing out its prime-time lineup for documentaries. It is merely dipping its toe in the water. [Mark Whitaker, managing editor of CNN Worldwide] said CNN hopes to air three to four films a year. The documentaries can also help generate other fresh content for CNN. Whitaker anticipates using other CNN shows to promote 'Girl Rising' and tapping the topics brought up in the film about women and education as fodder for its news programming."

Whitaker is also quoted in Flint’s piece saying: "It's no secret we need to develop more compelling programming. With all the various sources of news right now, unless there is a momentous story going on, it is hard to get people to tune in for just the news of the day."

In Flint's piece Whitaker also confirms a New York Post story, which we wrote about in August, that CNN is looking at getting into reality programming. Writes Flint in today's article, "Moreover, CNN is looking to get into what Whitaker calls 'narrative nonfiction' programming, which many fear is code for reality shows. Whitaker argues that not every reality show has to be TLC's 'Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.' 'There is a lot of downmarket stuff out there but what we're hearing from people in that space is that they are dying for a programmer who is interested in serious, sophisticated nonfiction programming,' Whitaker said. 'We're not getting pitched schlock at all.' "

Flint adds about the documentary programming that it "does not mean that CNN is throwing out its prime-time lineup for documentaries. It is merely dipping its toe in the water. Whitaker said CNN hopes to air three to four films a year.

“The documentaries can also help generate other fresh content for CNN. Whitaker anticipates using other CNN shows to promote ‘Girl Rising’ and tapping the topics brought up in the film about women and education as fodder for its news programming.”

more »

Football Powers NBC to an Easy Ratings Win

NBC coasted to an easy win in the ratings Sunday night on the strength of its “Sunday Night Football,” while programming on the other broadcast networks was generally down.

Citing Nielsen overnights, TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “Sunday Night Football” averaged a 6.2 rating in the key demo of viewers 18-49, with significant adjustments expected due to the live programming. On second-place CBS, the strongest show of the night, not counting NFL overrun at 7 p.m., was “60 Minutes,” which delivered a 3.8 airing from 7:30-8:30 p.m. The number was up dramatically from last week’s 1.7, but that’s probably attributable to the lead-in NFL overrun, which delivered a 7.8 from 7-7:30 p.m.

Third-place Fox also had some football overrun, along with the season premiere of “The Cleveland Show” (2.2 in 18-49, up from a 1.8 for the premiere a year ago), “The Simpsons” with its “Treehouse of Horror” special (3.1, down from a 3.8 for last week’s season premiere), “Bob’s Burgers” (2.3, down from a 2.6 a week ago), “Family Guy” (3.4, up from a 3.3 last week) and “American Dad” (2.6, up from a 2.5 a week ago).

Over on ABC, “Once Upon a Time” led the way with a 3.3 average rating in the 18-49 demo, down from a 3.9 for last week’s premiere. “Revenge” settled for a 2.6, down from a 3.2 a week ago, and “666 Park Avenue” sputtered along with a 1.7, down from a 2.2 last week.

For prime time overall, NBC came out on top in the 18-49 demo with a 5.3 average rating, followed by CBS (3.2), Fox (2.6) and ABC (2.3). The battle for total viewers was tighter, but NBC prevailed with 13.7 million, edging out CBS’s 12.7 million and well ahead of ABC’s 7.4 million and Fox’s 5.4 million.

more »

Lifetime's Big Weekend: a Huge Turnout for 'Steel Magnolias' and Big Numbers for 'Carlina White Story'

Lifetime enjoyed a huge night Sunday with its original movie “Steel Magnolias” -- which followed a strong Saturday night with the world premiere of “Abducted: The Carlina White Story.” The cable channel reports that an average of 6.5 million total viewers tuned in for “Magnolias,” making it Lifetime’s third-most-watched telecast of all time.

The star-studded remake of the 1989 movie, featuring Queen Latifah, Phylicia Rashad, Adepero Oduye, Condola Rashad, Jill Scott and Alfre Woodard, became the No. 1 cable movie in total viewers since 2007, Lifetime reported.

The movie set a Lifetime record in women 25-54 with an average of 2.5 million viewers. In the demo of adults 25-54, the 3.2 million average for the movie was Lifetime’s best number since 1995.

Saturday’s world premiere of the Lifetime original movie “Abducted: The Carlina White Story” performed well too, delivering 4.1 million total viewers, 1.8 million adults 25-54, 1.6 million adults 18-49, 1.4 million women 25-54 and 1.3 million women 18-49.

Click here to see the full press release from Lifetime.

more »

Americans Prefer Getting News from Television

When Americans want the news, more adults -- 50% -- say that they choose to get the news from television, 36% say they get it from online news sources, and only 10% turn to print, reports the UPI.

In a Harris Interactive survey of 2,307 adults conducted Aug. 13-20, two-thirds of Americans have a moderate interest in the news, and claim that they keep up with the news as part of their leisure time.

By comparison, 13% called themselves "news junkies" and 18% responded that they were not really interested in the news.

Men are more likely than women to describe themselves as news junkies -- 17% of men did so, compared with 9% of women.

more »

Former NBCUniversal Ad Exec Lands at Univision -- With Other Former NBCU Execs

Spanish-language broadcaster Univision is reorganizing its ad sales unit, and it seems as though having NBCUniversal on one’s resume is a plus for those interested in being a part of it.

Advertising Age reports that the latest to make the jump is Steve Mandala, formerly head of cable ad sales for NBCUniversal. Mandala will take over as Univision’s executive VP of ad sales.

He joins a prominent former NBCUniversal exec in Randy Falco, now CEO of Univision. Also making the move recently was Keith Turner, a 20-year NBCU veteran and longtime associate of Falco, who went to Univision in August as president of sales and marketing.

Mandala previously worked for Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo. At Univision he will oversee direct-response sales, sports sales and broader client-development duties.

stevemandala.jpgSteve Mandala

more »

OMG: Beloved Hollywood Couple -- Once Described as 'TV's Tart-Tongued Twosome' -- Split After 41 (!) Years Together

They met in 1970 and within two weeks they were living together. And it really worked -- they were together 41 years.

But today it's been confirmed that Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman have separated, reports ABC News.

The ABC News report says, "Actors Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman have separated, DeVito’s rep confirmed to ABCNews.com today."

After living together for 11 years, the couple were married 30 years ago, on Jan. 28, 1982.

According to the report, "DeVito, 67, and Perlman, 64 ... have three children together. They met in 1970 after Perlman went to see a friend in the Broadway play “The Shrinking Bride” and ended up charmed by DeVito, who was also in the production."

Later DeVito became a TV star on the popular sitcom "Taxi," and Perlman became a star on NBC's must-see hit "Cheers."

In a feature article about the couple in 1983 People magazine called them "TV's Tart-Tongued Twosome." The People article was all about their successful marriage.

Here's how that 1983 People article ended: "Whatever the formula for their successful showbiz marriage, it's unfortunate that they can't market it. 'There's a balance to their relationship, and they protect it zealously,' says [friend Michael] Douglas. 'There's a magic about them.' Yes, this is one solid marriage. Okay, how solid is it? It's so solid, says Rhea, that 'you'd really have to work hard at breaking us up at this point.' And that's no joke."

more »

Legendary Children's TV Host Dies

A fixture in children’s television during the 1950s and 1960s as the host of cartoon shows on Los Angeles station KTTV, L.A.’s beloved “Sheriff John” -- John Rovick -- has died at 93, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Rovick came up with the idea of his show for KTTV in 1952, when the channel was looking for someone to host a daily cartoon show for children, the story says. Knowing Los Angeles County Sheriff Gene Biscailuz and having been made an honorary sheriff, Rovick came up with the idea of Sheriff John, who was an instant hit with young viewers, the piece notes.

"Cartoon Time" with Sheriff John earned an Emmy in 1953 for outstanding children's program. The station soon added "Sheriff John's Lunch Brigade" to its schedule, and it remained on air until 1970.

"We talked a lot about safety, courtesy, manners and things like that," Rovick said in an interview with the Idaho Statesman in 2005. "We often had firemen or police officers as guests, and I'd warn the kids not to do things like play in the street or get into refrigerators or play with matches."

One of Sheriff John’s trademarks was his birthday song, “The Birthday Cake Polka” (“Put another candle on my birthday cake ...”).

sheriff-john.jpgSheriff John Rovick

more »

President Obama Is Asked to Stop Using NBC Footage in Ad

President Barack Obama has been asked by NBC to stop using footage from the network in a new reelection ad, reports Politico.com.

NBC sent a letter on Friday to ask the campaign to stop using the footage, which shows Andrea Mitchell citing an independent analysis that shows Mitt Romney's tax plan would cost $4.8 trillion over a decade, the story says.

"NBC News has not granted any campaign permission to use our news material. As is our practice, we have requested that the Obama campaign refrain from using NBC News material in this and future advertisements,” NBC said in a statement.

The Obama campaign didn't respond to a request for comment, the piece adds.

more »

TV Actress Named Sexiest Woman Alive

A familiar television actress has been named as the sexiest woman alive by Esquire magazine. The title for 2012 goes to Mila Kunis, known for her role in “That ‘70s Show.”

Kunis, 29, follows other celebrities including Halle Berry, Rihanna and Minka Kelly in receiving the title, notes TVGuide.com. Kunis also voices Meg Griffin on "Family Guy."

mila_kunis.jpgMila Kunis

more »

Report: Apple Orders 10 Million Mini iPads

"Apple hasn’t officially confirmed plans to launch a smaller tablet, but the buzz is already building. Some component suppliers to Apple in Asia say they have received orders to make more than 10 million units of the smaller tablets in the fourth quarter. That is roughly double the order that were placed for Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets in the same quarter, these suppliers say."

So reports the Digits blog of The Wall Street Journal. [Note: The WSJ is behind a firewall and may charge you to read its story.]

The article continues, "The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that Asian component suppliers have already started producing the smaller 7.85-inch tablet. Apple hasn’t confirmed when the new device will be available, but AllThingsD, a sister publication of The Wall Street Journal, reported last month that Apple plans to unveil the smaller tablet later this month. Analysts say strong consumer demand for Samsung Electronics 5.3-inch Galaxy Note and Amazon’s 7-inch Kindle Fire shows that there is demand for a smaller tablet. Apple currently offers only one size –the 9.7-inch iPads."

more »

'Take a Letter, Maria. Address It to My Wife.' Singer of Hit R&B Classic Tune Dies. He Was Sam Cooke's Nephew

The pop singer whose ‘‘Take a Letter, Maria’’ was a 1969 hit died in Los Angeles, the Associated Press reports.

The story says: "[R.B.] Greaves, 68, died of prostate cancer on Sept. 27 at his home, said Craig Harvey, the Los Angeles County coroner’s chief of operations." The news of Greaves' death was not made public until last week.

The article continues, "A nephew of legendary R&B singer Sam Cooke, Mr. Greaves was born on a US air base in the former British Guyana. Living in the United Kingdom in the 1960s, he recorded several soul singles as Sonny Childe. It was after moving to the United States that he scored his biggest hit as R.B. Greaves."

The article notes that "Take a Letter, Maria," "with its soul style, catchy chorus, and brassy horn edge, went to No. 2 on the Billboard chart in 1969. It earned Mr. Greaves a gold record, selling a million copies, and remains a popular oldie. Mr. Greaves also broke into the Top 40 in 1970 with his version of the Burt Bacharach-Hal David tune '(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me.'’’

RB Greaves.jpg

R.B. Greaves

more »

Dish Network and Gannett Settle Retransmission Dispute

An agreement has been reached in the retransmission dispute between Dish Network and the Gannett stations, Deadline.com reports.

The companies issued a brief statement saying they had reached an agreement, but did not immediately provide any details, the report notes.

The old contract between the two companies expired at midnight Sunday night, but the companies reached a last minute agreement to extend the deadline by several hours, keeping the Gannett stations’ programming on Dish Net this morning while they worked out the new agreement.

“Dish said on Friday that it had agreed to a 200% increase in the fees it pays to carry stations controlled by Gannett,’ Deadline reported before news surfaced of the agreement. “The increase is ‘the same as our closest direct competitor’ -- presumably DirecTV.

“But Dish said it was prepared to fight because Gannett wants it ‘to pay a significant penalty for allowing our customers access to AutoHop,’ the controversial feature on its Hopper DVRs that gives subscribers the ability to record all major network prime time shows and automatically skip past the ads. Broadcasters are suing Dish, alleging that the feature infringes on their copyrights and undermines their ability to pay for programming.”

more »

Star of Discovery's 'Man vs. Wild' Heads to NBC With New Show

The former star of Discovery Channel's "Man vs. Wild," Bear Grylls, will be doing a new reality show for NBC, reports Entertainment Weekly. The network is calling it "Get Out Alive," and Grylls will anchor the program, in which contestants in teams of two will face extreme tests in the wilderness. The show will debut next summer.

In a statement, Grylls said, “'Get Out Alive' will be raw, tough and unrelenting, but it will also inspire and teach the essentials that one day may just save your life. The goal is to empower people with the ultimate in both survival and teamwork, and that brings incredible reward -- but first there must be some pain.”

The network has greenlighted eight episodes, which will be produced by Bear Grylls Ventures and Ben Silverman’s multimedia studio, Electus.

Paul Telegdy, president of alternative programming at NBC Entertainment, commented: “To meet Bear is to meet a force of nature. He is a magnetic and charismatic talent, whose infectious enthusiasm for adventure inspires people to push themselves beyond their limits.”

more »

Sarah Silverman, Adam Carolla Launching New YouTube Channels

YouTube is rolling out new channels from Sarah Silverman and Adam Carolla, working with producers known for their work with David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The new channels are Jash and Video Podcast Network, which will be developed by HaChaCha, a production company founded by "The Man Show" co-creator Daniel Kellison, the story notes.

Kellison, who is also the original producer of "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and was a producer of "Late Night with David Letterman," is also working with Doug DeLuca, a co-executive producer of "Jimmy Kimmel Live," and Mickey Meyer, who worked in production on shows such as "Breaking Bad," according to the story.

The new networks will debut in January, with HaChaCha splitting its money with the talent who appear on the channels.

more »

Syfy Orders Reality Show Pitting Teams Living in 'Past' and 'Future'

A reality show called "Opposite Worlds," which pits a team living in the "past" against a team living in the "future," has been ordered by Syfy, which will air two episodes per week, reports Deadline.com.

Syfy picked up 12 episodes, with plans to air them over six weeks. The scheduling marks the first time Syfy has aired an original series twice a week, the piece notes.

The show, which is based on a popular Chilean format, picks 20 people and divides them into two teams, with one living in the "future" -- a utopia where anything is available -- and one in the "past," where competitors struggle for survival.

At the end of each week, the teams compete to find out who will be assigned to the past and who will be granted the future, the piece notes.

more »

'30 Rock' Co-Star to Produce Project for CBS

A "30 Rock" co-star will produce a project for CBS, reports Deadline.com. The untitled project from “30 Rock’s” Elizabeth Banks will feature an Ivy League feminist who ends up living with two "Playboy Bunny"-type women in Los Angeles, the story notes.

Banks will produce with her husband, Max Handelman, while actress Elizabeth Wright Shapiro will write and also co-executive produce for 20th Century Fox TV.

more »

Cameron Diaz Movie Getting CBS Adaptation

A comedy feature film starring Cameron Diaz is being adapted for television by CBS, reports TheWrap.com. The movie is the 2011 comedy “Bad Teacher.”

The TV comedy will be written and executive produced by Hilary Winston, who has worked on "Community" and "My Name Is Earl," the story says. Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, who wrote the movie, are also executive producing.

The project comes from Sony Pictures Television and the Mosaic Media Group.

more »

Popular Olympic Sport to Get Its Own Reality Show

A popular Olympic sport is getting its own reality show, with ABC picking up what's considered to be television's first diving reality competition show, reports Deadline.com.

ABC ordered the project straight to series. Called "Celebrity Splash," the show will feature celebrities performing high dives, which get more complicated each week with feats such as backflips and somersaults, the story notes.

The project is based on a Dutch format that was a breakout hit in that country, the article adds.

more »

CBS Buys Drama Series From 'Homeland's' Michael Cuesta, 'CSI's' Carol Mendelsohn

CBS has a detective drama in the works from Michael Cuesta, director and executive producer of Showtime’s “Homeland,” and Carol Mendelsohn, exec producer and showrunner of CBS’s “CSI,” Deadline.com reports.

The series, “Second Sight,” is based on a 2000 U.K. series that starred Clive Owen. The project is in development for CBS at CBS TV Studios, the story reports.

“’Second Sight’ centers on a homicide detective going blind who turns his affliction into an advantage -- using his heightened senses and intuition to solve crimes,” the story reports. “Cuesta will write the adaptation with his brother Gerald Cuesta. The two previously teamed for another CBS drama project, the cult 2007 zombie pilot ‘Babylon Fields,’ which Gerald co-wrote and Michael directed.”

Michael Cuesta will direct the project, while he and Mendelsohn will executive produce along with her executive Julie Weitz, Paula Milne, creator of the original series, and Nick Reed.

Deadline adds: “Weitz secured the rights to the British format for Carol Mendelsohn Prods. through British-born agent-turned-producer Reed, with whom she previously worked together at ICM. Gerald Cuesta and Phil Goldfine are co-executive producing.”

more »

Thursday Night Ratings: Feeble Premiere for NBC's '30 Rock' as CBS Wins the Night

Powered by a big number for “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS won Thursday night among the broadcast networks, based on Nielsen overnights, while the final season of NBC’s “30 Rock” premiered to disappointing ratings.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “30 Rock” opened to a 1.3 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, down a hefty 28% from the 1.8 for the previous season premiere back in January.

CBS meanwhile, got a good second effort out of “The Big Bang Theory,” which delivered a 4.9 in the 18-49 demo to come in as the top show of the night. The number was down just one-tenth of a ratings point, or 2%, from the 5.0 the series scored in its season premiere a week ago.

Some adjustments are expected to the numbers for CBS because of an NFL simulcast in Phoenix, the report notes.

ABC got a decent performance from “Grey’s Anatomy,” although its 3.7 average in viewers 18-49 was off 16% from last week’s premiere.

CBS was strong across the board, with a 3.7 in 18-49 for “Two and a Half Men” (up 6% from a week ago) and a 3.1 for “Person of Interest” (up 7%). Its new show “Elementary” dipped to a 2.6, down 16% from last week’s series premiere.

Fox got a 3.1 average in the 18-49 demo for “The X Factor,” down 3% from last week, while “Glee” rose 8% to a 2.6.

ABC’s “Last Resort” drifted down to a 1.8 in 18-49, from a 2.2 for the premiere a week earlier, while “Scandal” held steady with a 2.1.

NBC’s “Up All Night” was even with a week ago with a 1.4 in viewers 18-49, and “The Office” held steady with a 2.1. “Parks and Recreation” was up 19% with a 1.9, and “Rock Center” surged 38% to a 1.1.

For prime time overall, CBS led the way with a 3.3 average rating in 18-49, followed by Fox (2.9 average), ABC (2.5), NBC (1.5) and Univision (1.5). CBS won total viewers with 13.3 million, followed by ABC (8.4 million), Fox (7.7 million), Univision (3.6 million) and NBC (3.5 million).

more »

How Oprah's OWN Has Turned Things Around

With the numbers in for the third quarter, the situation at OWN has improved dramatically from a year ago. OWN’s prime-time average in total viewers was up 55% for the quarter (314,000 average vs. 203,000 in 2011), with an even bigger improvement -- 58% -- in the target demo of women 25-54 (109,000 vs. 69,000).

The increases are even greater in total-day numbers: up 72% in total viewers (199,000 vs. 116,000 in 2011) and 71% in women 25-54 (72,000 vs. 42,000).

TV writer Tim Molloy writes in TheWrap.com: “After a rocky start marked by low ratings, executive shakeups, and layoffs, Oprah Winfrey's network is getting some good news. Its latest quarter, from July to September, was its biggest in ratings growth. And this week, the network announced it will air two shows next year from Tyler Perry, who has a special talent for tapping into once-overlooked audiences. The shows will be the first scripted programs for the network.

“Strikingly, OWN is hitting ratings highs without resorting to programming lows. Networks from Bravo to Oxygen have resorted to trashy reality shows about feuding ‘Bridezillas,’ ‘Bad Girls’ and ‘Real Housewives’ to juice ratings. OWN has pledged not to go that route and has so far kept its vow.”

Said OWN Co-President Erik Logan: "We've been in the pivot, we're turning, and there's a lot of points of view about where in the turn you are. We certainly welcome the conversation about, 'Are you in the beginning part of the turn? Are you out of the turn?' I think that's a much better place to be than we were twelve months ago."

And it was only about six months ago, Molloy notes, that OWN laid off 30 staffers and SNL Kagan predicted OWN would lose $143 million in 2012. The research company, Molloy writes, is standing by that forecast.

“But the analyst who provided it, Derek Baine, said in an interview that OWN does appear to be making progress,” the piece adds.

Said Baine: "There's still a lot of work to be done, but I think they're definitely making a lot of improvements. Oprah herself is paying a lot more attention. I think you'll see steady improvement, but I think it will still take a couple of years, probably, to get to where they wanted to be as a network."

Logan says the SNL Kagan loss estimate is high, and he expects OWN to reach a break-even point from a cash-flow standpoint in late 2013.

Additionally, OWN appears to have climbed out of the shadow of the channel it replaced, Discovery Health.

“In the latest quarter, OWN has not only dramatically improved on its Nielsen ratings year-over-year, but topped Discovery Health's ratings for the same period in 2010,” Molloy writes.

OWN ranks No. 32 among cable networks in women 25-54, on a par with female-oriented networks WEtv and Oxygen, Molloy notes.

“Winfrey was an investor in Oxygen, but later resigned from its board of directors, telling the Baltimore Sun it did not reflect her voice,” Molloy writes. “Perry presumably will. To the frequent bafflement of critics, the actor/writer/director has produced one box office success after another, as well three successful sitcoms on TBS. He has succeeded in large part by appealing to churchy African-American women -- a group that overlaps nicely with Winfrey's audience, but has been largely ignored by Hollywood.”

more »

NBC Orders Comedy Project From 'Community' Producer

NBC has signed on for a new comedy from one of the producers behind “Community,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. The network has ordered a script plus penalty from Chris McKenna, the report says.

McKenna moved on from “Community” to co-executive produce “The Mindy Project.”

The new project is described as an oddball brother comedy. “The project centers on a large family, in which the mother has passed away long ago and the kids span in age from 15 to 30-plus,” the story reports. “When the family's father passes away, the oldest of the siblings -- the family's black sheep -- moves back into the family home to be the guardian for the youngest, who turns out to be the other prankster of the bunch. A series of comical one-upmanship ensues.”

McKenna has a two-year overall deal with Universal Television, the report notes. He will write and executive produce the new show. Peter Traugott and Rachel Kaplain are attached as exec producers through their TBD Productions.

The report adds: “Traugott, who will exec produce NBC’s midseason drama entry ‘Do No Harm,’ is also attached to ‘Community’ star Donald Glover's semi-autobiographical comedy in development at NBC. The former Brillstein Entertainment Partners head of television's other development projects include a Justin Spitzer ensemble comedy and a New Orleans gothic thriller, which are both set up at NBC.”

more »

Lifetime to Go Ahead With 'Steel Magnolias' Premiere After Winning a Round in Court

Lifetime won a key decision in the legal scuffle over its remake of “Steel Magnolias,” with the takeaway being the show will go on as planned this Sunday, Deadline.com reports.

A Los Angeles judge tossed out a request today for a temporary restraining order by a producer on the original movie, the story reports. The producer, Victoria L. White, is suing Lifetime over the movie, as we reported previously.

“White, executive producer on the 1989 feature, earlier this week filed a lawsuit against the remake’s producer, Sony Pictures Television, Lifetime and the network’s parent A+E Television Networks, along with an injunction request to block the TV movie from airing,” the story reports. “The suit, in which she is charging breach of contract, good faith and fair dealing, seeking screen credits, fees, and a portion of net profits, is still ongoing.”

The Lifetime reboot features Queen Latifah, Alfre Woodard, Phylicia Rashad and Jill Scott.

more »

Report: Broadcasters Featuring More Gay Characters Than Ever

Broadcast networks are featuring more gay characters this season than ever before, according to a report from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

ABC has been identified as the most gay-friendly network, with shows like "Happy Endings" featuring gay characters. Ten out of 194 regular characters were identified as LGBT, the piece adds. Fox is in second place, with six LGBT characters out of 118. The CW is in third place, while NBC and CBS placed fourth and fifth, respectively.

While CBS placed last among the broadcasters, the report singled out the network's efforts to increase diversity, as its percentage of LGBT characters jumped to 2.8% from less than 1% last season, according to the piece.

On cable, Showtime beat out HBO, last year's leader, with 12 LGBT characters, the story notes. HBO's "True Blood" was named cable's most inclusive show, with six LGBT characters.

more »

Gannett Issues Ultimatum Over Dish's AutoHop

Dish Network will be dumped by the broadcasting division of Gannett if the satellite-television provider doesn't block its AutoHop commercial-skipping feature on DVRs or pay huge penalties, reports Reuters.

Dish subscribers in 19 cities including Washington, D.C., and Atlanta could lose ABC-, CBS- and NBC-affiliated stations, the story says.

"Gannett's demands translate into more than a 300 percent rate increase, which would likely result in higher monthly fees for consumers," Dish said in a statement.

Gannett could let its current contract expire at midnight, Oct. 7, the story notes. Gannett said it will continue to negotiate with Dish until that date, and added that an agreement is possible.

more »

Video: Anderson Cooper Rips Into Another Talk Show Host

Anderson Cooper let his feelings be known about another veteran talk show host this week on his “Anderson Live” show. The target of his anger: Star Jones, former co-host of “The View,” who reportedly has accused Cooper of having ratings as a motive when he recently came out as gay.

Cooper’s comments can be seen in this clip:

more »

More Drama for 'Sons of Anarchy' as Creator Gets in Scrape With Co-Star

There's been more drama behind the scenes for the FX show "Sons of Anarchy," with creator Kurt Sutter getting into a shouting match this week with co-star Tommy Flanagan, reports Deadline.com.

As previously reported, "Sons of Anarchy" actor Johnny Lewis was recently found dead after allegedly killing his landlady in a gruesome incident.

The fight Wednesday between Flanagan and Sutter didn't get physical and it's not the first time the show has been the scene of arguments, the story notes. Sutter had a heated argument with star Charlie Hunnam last year, with the actor later skipping the show's panel at the Television Critics Association press tour.

The show appeared to be back to normal Thursday, with Sutter back on the set and wrapping production of episode 12 of the show’s fifth season, the piece adds.

more »

'Idol's' Diva Feud Escalates: Mariah Carey Adds Security After Nicki Minaj Altercation

Mariah Carey has added to her personal security after an altercation with fellow "American Idol" judge Nicki Minaj, who threatened her at an audition, reports the New York Post.

As previously reported, Minaj allegedly said she would knock Carey out, a comment that was made before a tape of the incident started rolling. The tape later circulated online.

On "The View" on Thursday, Barbara Walters said she had talked with Carey, who claimed Minaj threatened to shoot her while walking off the set, the Post notes. Walters said Carey was very concerned.

Later Thursday, Minaj took to Twitter to mock Carey, posting: “I guess it hurts 2 have the producers tell u to ur face that Nicki is the best judge we’ve had since simon. Awww, poor u. Keep them lies [coming].”

In a series of tweets, Minaj implied that Carey had had lied to Walters about the shooting threat, the report notes.

more »

'GMA' Host Robin Roberts Updates Her Health Situation

"Good Morning America" host Robin Roberts wrote on a blog entry on ABCNews.com that her blood counts are "great" after her Sept. 20 bone-marrow transplant.

"My sister Sally-Ann’s stem cells apparently feel right at home in my body -- an answer to so many prayers," Roberts wrote. "My doctors and rock star nurses are very pleased with my progress and I could not be more thankful for the excellent care I am receiving."

Roberts is undergoing treatment for MDS, a bone marrow disorder that affects the production of blood cells, as previously reported.

Roberts added that she has had "some extremely painful days" and she continues to have difficulty eating because of the chemo.

more »

'Modern Family' Star to Produce Soapy Procedural for ABC

One of the stars of ABC’s hit sitcom "Modern Family" has signed on to executive produce a soapy procedural that has received a script commitment from ABC, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

“Modern Family’s” Sofia Vergara will exec produce the new show, “Killer Women.”

The project tracks a female Texas Ranger and is adapted from an Argentine series called "Mueres Asesinas," which is based on a book trilogy by Marisa Grinstein. Hannah Shakespeare of "The Raven" will write the script and executive produce.

The project comes from ABC Studios and Ben Silverman's Electus, with Silverman also tapped to executive produce.

Thumbnail image for sofia-vergara.jpgSofia Vergara

more »

'Blade Runner' Star Joins 'True Blood'

HBO's "True Blood" has added a veteran film actor as a series regular for the show’s sixth season, TVLine.com reports. Joining the show is Rutger Hauer, known for “Blade Runner,” “The Hitcher” and other film roles.

Hauer will portray Macklyn, a dark figure with ties to Sookie and Jason Stackhouse. In director Ridley Scott’s "Blade Runner," Hauer played a robot trying to escape capture.

He has previously appeared in TV shows such as "Smallville" and "Alias."

The sixth season of "True Blood" will premiere in June.

rutger-hauer.jpgRutger Hauer

more »

Bristol Palin Targeted by Suspicious Package

A suspicious package that was mailed to the CBS lot -- where ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” is taped -- was targeted for Bristol Palin, TMZ.com reports.

The package, received this week, included a threat against Palin, a reality star and a competitor on “DWTS.”

The sender had one demand: that Palin be removed from the show, the story says. A note attached to the package of white powder, which was later found to be harmless, read, "This is what will happen to you if Bristol Palin stays on [the show]."

Palin has previously been targeted while appearing on 'DWTS," with another package and threat sent when she competed in the show in 2010, the story adds.

Law enforcement is treating the threat as credible and is investigating the situation, the report notes.

bristol-palin.jpgBristol Palin

more »

Blockbuster Gives Up on Plan to Compete with Netflix

Blockbuster is abandoning its plan to transform into an online video provider that would rival Netflix, reports Bloomberg.

The plan is being scrapped after U.S. regulators didn't immediately approve a waiver that would allow Dish Network, which bought Blockbuster out of bankruptcy in 2011, to use its satellite spectrum for terrestrial data and voice transmission, according to the story.

"You make a lot of mistakes in business,” billionaire Charlie Ergen, Dish’s founder and chairman, told Bloomberg. “I don’t think Blockbuster is going to be a mistake, but it’s unclear if that’s going to be a transformative decision.”

Dish no longer intends to use Blockbuster as a video-streaming or DVD-by-mail service, Ergen said.

Dish has started closing some Blockbuster stores, with the goal of allowing Dish to make a profit on the acquisition, Ergen said. Some DVD rental stores will be able to operate profitably in rural areas, Ergen added. As of August, 900 U.S. Blockbuster stores remained.

more »

Lifetime's Anna Nicole Smith Biopic Adds 'Mission: Impossible' Veteran, Names Director

After casting “Private Practice” star Agnes Bruckner in the title role of “The Anna Nicole Story,” as we reported yesterday, Lifetime continues to flesh out the cast and crew. Deadline.com reports that the project has added “Mission: Impossible” veteran Martin Landau.

Landau has racked up a string of awards during his long career, including winning an Oscar for “Ed Wood” in 1995 -- along with nominations for “Crimes and Misdemeanors” and “Tucker: The Man and His Dream.” He has been nominated for six Emmys and has won three Golden Globes -- including one for “Mission: Impossible” in 1968.

“Landau will play oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall, who married then-stripper Smith when he was 89 and she was 26. He died a year later, and Smith spent the following decade in a legal battle with Marshall’s sons over his estate,” the story reports.

Virginia Madsen, an Oscar nominee for the 2004 movie “Sideways,” also joins the cast of “Anna Nicole,” while Mary Harron, who directed “American Psycho,” has been named to helm the project. Madsen will play Anna Nicole Smith’s mom.

Craig Zadan, Neil Meron and Judith Verno are executive producing.

more »

HBO Star Poised for Big Payday for Book Deal

One of HBO’s big stars is poised to make a huge figure for a book she's planning to write, Deadline.com reports. Lena Dunham, the star of HBO's "Girls," has been circulating a proposal for "Not That Kind of Girl," and the price tag reportedly reached $3.6 million yesterday.

The book will be penned by Dunham, 26, and will present a collection of anecdotes along with advice to women. Based on her work on the television show, publishers have determined that Dunham is a strong creative voice for women and could be influential in particular to young readers.

A deal for the book is expected to be finalized soon, the story reports.

more »

Reality Show at Center of Lawsuit

A cable reality show is the focus of a lawsuit between two former partners, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s Hollywood, Esq.

The show is TLC’s "Pawn Queens," with executive producer Robert Zazzali suing his former partner, Jason Morgan, whom he alleges stole his compensation, according to the report.

Zazzali alleges that Morgan asked him to forgo executive producer fees until the production company Varuna Entertainment made money, which Zazzali said he agreed to because he's a "team" player, the story says. The lawsuit alleges that Morgan instead was embezzling the money and that the company was actually making money.

Zazzali is seeking at least $110,000, the story says. Morgan couldn't be reached for comment, according to the article.

more »

Emmy Winners for 'Homeland' Get Pilot Production Commitment at CBS

" 'Homeland' co-creators and executive producers Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa just landed a pilot production commitment at CBS to go with the two Emmys they won 10 days ago, including best drama series,"  writes our good friend Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

The report continues, identifying the new show as  " 'Anatomy Of Violence,' a drama from 20th Century Fox TV and Gordon’s studio-based Teakwood Lane. It will be co-written by Gordon and Gansa....Inspired by the soon-to-be-published non-fiction title 'The Anatomy Of Violence: The Biological Roots Of Crime' by Adrian Raine, the CBS drama centers on a female FBI agent who starts working with a mysterious psychiatrist with whom she shares a past connection.

Before 'Homeland" Gordon was the showrunner on the Fox hit "24." Gansa was also a writer on that series. 

more »

67.2 Million Watch First Presidential Debate, Way Up Over Number of Viewers Who Watched the First Presidential Debate in 2008

"An estimated 67.2 million people watched Democratic incumbent President Barack Obama debate Republican challenger Gov. Mitt Romney in the first presidential debate on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012," reports TVbytheNumbers.

That compares with 52.4 million people who watched the first presidential debate four years ago between candidates Barack Obama and John McCain.

The 12 networks that aired the first debate this year were ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, TEL, UNI, PBS, CNN, FOXNC, MSNBC, CurrentTV and CNBC. The 11 networks that aired the first debate in 2008 were ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telefutura, Telemundo, BBC-America, CNBC, CNN, FOX News, MSNBC.

Separately, among the big three broadcast networks, according to Nielsen's Fast National ratings, ABC had 11.2 million total viewers watching this year's first presidential debate, NBC had 11.0 million viewers, and CBS 10.5 million viewers.

Four years ago the big three were in the order, with ABC drawing 8.8 million total viewers, NBC had 8.7 million viewers, and CBS had 7.0 million viewers.

more »

NBC Has High-Profile Musical Dramedy in Development

NBC has a musical dramedy in development with a high-profile lineup of players on board -- including “Smash” executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, Deadline.com reports.

“The duo is executive producing a dramedy written/executive produced by ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ alumna Krista Vernoff,” the story reports. “It will feature the music catalog of songwriter Diane Warren, who serves as a consulting producer.”

The report adds: “The hour-long dramedy centers on a 30-something songwriter who has written the most epic love songs of our time, despite, or perhaps due to the fact that she is painfully unlucky in love. While the logline understandably draws parallels to Warren, the central character is original and not based or inspired by her though the plot represents a fictionalized version of Warren’s career.”

Warren’s music is likely to be woven into the storylines, in contrast to the way music is used in “Smash.”

“Warren’s catalog includes such songs as LeAnn Rimes’ ‘How Do I Live,’ Celine Dion’s ‘Because You Loved Me,’ Toni Braxton’s ‘Unbreak My Heart’ and Aerosmith’s ‘I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing,’” the report adds.

more »

'GMA' Lines Up Ann Romney to Fill In for Robin Roberts

ABC’s “Good Morning America,” still riding a series of ratings wins over NBC’s rival “Today” show, has booked Ann Romney, the wife of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, to fill in one day for Robin Roberts, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The appearance is set for Oct. 10. The show is also reportedly talking with first lady Michelle Obama about taking a turn in the spotlight.

The Ann Romney appearance has been in the works since last summer, the story reports.

“Romney will co-host the morning program alongside Roberts' co-anchor George Stephanopoulos and correspondents Lara Spencer, Josh Elliott and Sam Champion,” the report adds. “She joins previously announced pinch-hitters Stephen Colbert, Oprah Winfrey, the cast of ‘Modern Family’ and Roberts' ABC News colleagues Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric and Barbara Walters. Jessica Simpson co-hosted ‘GMA’ on Sept. 11.”

Sources at ABC News indicate an appearance by Michelle Obama is simply a matter of “finding an opening on her schedule.”

The report notes: “The morning show audience will give Ann Romney another mass media opportunity to get her husband's message out to potential voters. A similar security protocol will be in place as when the first lady visited ‘GMA’ in May. So Romney is not expected to appear outside of ‘GMA's’ Times Square Studio, where anchors traditionally mingle with the sign-waving crowds in what is one of the busiest thoroughfares in the country.”

The story adds: “Roberts’ absence comes as ‘GMA’ continues to challenge NBC’s ‘Today’ in the morning news race. Notching victories not seen in two decades, ‘GMA’ won premiere week of the 2012-13 season (Sept. 24) in adults 25-54 and total viewers, besting ‘Today’ by significant margins.”

more »

KitchenAid Doing Damage Control After Joking About Obama's Dead Grandmother

Home appliance manufacturer KitchenAid, best known for blenders, refrigerators and dishwashers, is taking heat for sending out a tweet during Wednesday’s presidential debate that joked about President Obama's dead grandmother, USA Today reports.

KitchenAid has apologized for an "irresponsible tweet." The tweet, sent after Obama used his grandmother as an example in the debate, read: "Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! 'She died 3 days b4 he became president."

The story notes: “After scores of complaints, KitchenAid tweeted out an apology: ‘Deepest apologies for an irresponsible tweet that is in no way a representation of the brand's opinion.’

“Company officials said an employee mistakenly sent out the critical comment on the corporate account, rather than a personal one.”

In an email to Mashable, KitchenAid's Cynthia Soledad wrote: "During the debate tonight, a member of our Twitter team mistakenly posted an offensive tweet from the KitchenAid handle instead of a personal handle. The tasteless joke in no way represents our values at KitchenAid, and that person won't be tweeting for us anymore. That said, I lead the KitchenAid brand, and I take responsibility for the whole team. I am deeply sorry to President Obama, his family, and the Twitter community for this careless error. Thanks for hearing me out."

more »

Reality Show Contestant Dies at 27

One of the contestants on a cable reality show has died of heart failure at the age of 27, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Antoine Ashley, who performed as Sahara Davenport, was a contestant on "RuPaul's Drag Race," which airs on Logo.

The drag entertainer competed in the second season of the show. He was eliminated in the show's sixth week. Few other details were available about his condition, the story adds.

Sahara-Davenport.jpgSahara Davenport

more »

Lifetime Casts Its Anna Nicole Smith

Lifetime has wrapped up what turned out to be a long search for the lead actress for its upcoming biopic “The Anna Nicole Story.” Deadline.com reports that the role has gone to "Private Practice" star Agnes Bruckner.

"The Anna Nicole Story" is based on the life of Vicky Lynn Hogan, who grew up in a small Texas town but later transformed herself into a Marilyn Monroe-like pinup, the story notes.

The project is executive produced by Craig Zadan, Neil Meron and Judith Verno, written by John Rice and Joe Batteer, and produced by Sony Pictures TV and Zadan and Meron’s Storyline Entertainment.

Bruckner will appear soon in the feature “The Baytown Outlaws,” along with Billy Bob Thornton and Eva Longoria.

Agnes-Bruckner.jpgAgnes Bruckner

more »

Rihanna Joins 'Victoria's Secret Fashion Show' Special

On the upcoming "Victoria's Secret Fashion Show" television special, chart-topping singer Rihanna will perform two songs, including her new single "Diamonds," reports The Huffington Post.

The CBS broadcast is set for Dec. 4 at 10 p.m. ET. Rihanna will be in the limelight along with Victoria’s Secret Angels Miranda Kerr, Alessandra Ambrosio, Adriana Lima, Doutzen Kroes and Candice Swanepoel.

"Diamonds" is the No. 1 song in 26 countries and has been on top of the iTunes chart for the first five days of its release, the report notes.

more »

Recipients of Tech & Engineering Emmys Announced -- See the Full List

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has announced the recipients of the 64th annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards -- including a Lifetime Achievement Award for Manolo Romero, managing director of Olympic Broadcasting Services.

A number of tech firms are being honored for achievements in areas including video ad insertion, interactive program guides, real-time presentation of TV content to mobile devices, multiroom DVR and hi-def broadcast video.

The presentations will take place Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, during the International Consumer Electronics Show.

Click here to see the press release from NATAS, with the full list of recipients.

more »

Emmy-Winning Actress Is Victim of $127,000 Jewelry Theft

An Emmy-winning actress is the victim of a jewelry theft valued at $127,000 -- including a Cartier platinum diamond tennis bracelet valued at $33,000, People magazine reports.

Julianne Moore, who won an Emmy this year for her portrayal of Sarah Palin in HBO’s “Game Change,” reportedly had the items stolen from her brownstone in New York’s West Village. The theft occurred sometime during a three-month span from June to August.

“The actress, 51, and her husband, the director Bart Freundlich, have had work done on the brownstone this summer,” the report notes. “Between 15 and 25 workers were in the home during the renovations.” Moore was in Toronto for much of the summer, working on a remake of “Carrie,” according to the report.

Also lost were four Cartier watches valued at a combined $77,800, according to the report. No arrests have been made, the story notes.

In addition to winning the Emmy, Moore has been nominated for four Oscars and six Golden Globes.

julianne-moore.jpgJulianne Moore

more »

Cable Drama Rolls Over Tuesday's 10 p.m. Dramas on ABC, CBS and NBC

While ABC, CBS and NBC were proudly showcasing drama series in the 10 p.m. time slot Tuesday night, a cable drama rode in and buried them all in the ratings, TVLine.com reports.

FX’s "Sons of Anarchy" delivered a 2.88 rating in the key 18-49 demographic, beating its broadcast rivals and outpacing all of its cable competition, the story notes. CBS's "Vegas" drew a 2.0 rating in the demographic, while ABC’s "Private Practice" and NBC’s "Parenthood" each drew a 1.6 rating.

“Sons of Anarchy” was recently in the news with the death of Johnny Lewis, an actor who played Kip 'Half Sack" Epps on the show. Lewis reportedly killed his landlady before falling to his death.

more »

Fixture at Weather Channel -- He's Been There 27 Years -- Leaving the Network

A veteran meteorologist is leaving The Weather Channel after 27 years with the cable network, TVNewser.com reports. Jeff Morrow has been a fixture at the channel, both as an in-studio presence and with his work in the field.

Among Morrow’s memorable assignments was covering Hurricane Katrina.

Helen Swenson, vice president of live programming for Weather Channel, said in a statement, “Jeff has been an important contributor to the growth and evolution of The Weather Channel and we appreciate the many years of forecasting and live field coverage Jeff has delivered as part of the best weather provider in the country. I hope you join us in thanking Jeff for his many contributions and wish him the best in his future”

In addition to Morrow, TVNewser anticipated that some other meteorologists will also be exiting the network.

more »

Trayvon Martin Shooter Suing NBC Over Edited 911 Tape

George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin earlier this year, is suing NBC over the network's edited version of Zimmerman's 911 tape, the New York Post reports. The suit was expected to be filed today.

“We hear Zimmerman’s attorneys are about to file a complaint against NBC and its top executives, naming news president Steve Capus and correspondent Ron Allen, who was the reporter on the scene for the broadcast on ‘Today’ on March 27. He also remained the reporter for the story on ‘NBC Nightly News,’” the story reports.

The report posted earlier today cites a source saying: “The suit will be filed imminently against NBC and its news executives. The network’s legal department has put everybody in the news department involved with this incident on notice, telling them not to comment.”

The story adds: “NBC launched an internal probe after producers misleadingly edited the 911 call placed by Zimmerman just before he shot the unarmed Florida teenager. The edit made it appear that Zimmerman had immediately told police that Martin was black, when the full tape reveals the neighborhood watch captain only did so when responding to a question posed by a dispatcher. Combined sections from two different parts of the tape gave the false impression that Zimmerman had said: ‘This guy looks like he’s up to no good or on drugs or something. He’s got his hand in his waistband. And he’s a black male.’”

At least three NBC News employees were fired in the aftermath of the incident, the story reports. The news division’s investigation determined that a “seasoned” producer was responsible and that news execs had been misled about the editing of the tape.

“An unidentified NBC executive previously told Reuters the ‘Today’ show’s editorial control policies missed the selective editing of the call,” the story adds. “It is not known if any other ‘Today’ execs or anchors will be named in the suit.”

george-zimmerman.jpgGeorge Zimmerman

more »

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Unveils Nominees for 2013 -- List Includes Blues Giant, a Couple of Hard Rock Staples, Motown, Rap, Girl Rock and a Disco Queen

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has revealed the list of nominees for induction in 2013, Rolling Stone reports. These are the candidates -- not the final list of artists who will be inducted.

The list includes hard rock staples Deep Purple and Rush, disco queen Donna Summer, girl rockers Heart and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Motown act the Marvelettes, rappers N.W.A. and Public Enemy, bluesman Albert King and blues-rockers the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

Also on the list: Chic, Kraftwerk, the Meters, Procol Harum and Randy Newman.

The ceremony, which usually takes place in New York, moves to Los Angeles for the first time since 1993. The induction is set for April 18, 2013, at the Nokia Theater.

“For the first time, the public gets to vote alongside the artists, historians and music industry insiders of the Rock Hall voting body,” the story reports. “From now until December 5th, fans can vote on RollingStone.com for the nominees they'd like to see inducted. The top five acts will comprise a ‘fan's ballot’ that will count as one of the more than 600 ballots that determine the Class of 2013. The results will be announced in mid-December.”

Joel Peresman, president and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, said: "The definition of 'rock & roll' means different things to different people, but as broad as the classifications may be, they all share a common love of the music. This year we again proudly put forth a fantastic array of groups and artists that span the entire genre that is 'rock & roll.'"

donna-summer1.jpgDonna Summer

more »

WPIX-TV News Director, Responsible for Overhaul, Leaving Station

The news director at WPIX-TV, who overhauled the news staff and look at the Tribune-owned station, is stepping down, reports MediaBistro's FishbowlNY. Bill Carey will leave his job at the New York CW affiliate before the November sweeps period, according to the report.

During his three years at the station, Carey saw lead anchors Jim Watkins and Kaity Tong displaced and hired Jodi Applegate, creating a new set for her, the story says. Carey is said to be considering several offers, including from an Internet startup, but declined to comment about his job change, the piece adds.

more »

Is Fighting Between 'Idol' Divas Minaj and Carey for Real, or for Ratings?

The high-profile cussing match between "American Idol" judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey might not be totally legit, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which cites an unnamed "Idol" insider.

According to the source, described as a “high-ranking ‘Idol’ insider,” the feud between the divas is all for show and just what executives on the Fox program were looking for. “No one's really worried,” the source is quoted as saying. “They know the parts they’re supposed to play.”

As previously reported, Minaj was taped swearing at Carey during auditions on Tuesday.

But another source at “Idol” sounded a cautious note, indicating things may have gone farther than planned. "Nicki went off and threatened Mariah,” the source said.

Interscope Chairman Jimmy Iovine, the show’s in-house mentor, offered an assessment of both singers. “Let me tell you, neither of these girls are shy,” Iovine told THR.

“He would know," the report points out. "Not only has the veteran music executive crossed paths with the singers professionally and socially, but as ‘American Idol’s’ in-house mentor (a role he anticipates continuing on season 12), he has come to understand the ins and outs of television judgeship.”

Iovine adds: “I was very bullish on Mariah. She gets songs and the process of producing. She really knows the studio. She has that experience, and let’s remember that most people going on these shows want to be Mariah Carey.

“Nicki is coming from a different place and another generation with her own incredibly legitimate opinions -- some things that are important to Mariah will not be to Nicki. But if they each bring their truth, you could see an incredible dynamic because they're both smart as hell.”

more »

Police Investigating Home Invasion Report at Ashton Kutcher's House -- But He May Have Been Punk'd

Police are investigating the report of a home invasion at "Two and a Half Men" star Ashton Kutcher's house, which appeared to be a hoax, reports TMZ.com.

Law enforcement was alerted via teletext -- used by deaf people -- about an alleged home invasion at the star's home, with the message saying shots had been fired and people were hurt or dead, according to the story.

While there were three people at the home, they were working on Kutcher's house and no one was injured or dead, the article notes. The police are now considering the message to be a case of "swatting," where a caller reports a phony crime to 911.

Kutcher wasn't home at the time of the alleged incident.

more »

Report: TV Ads in 2012 Presidential Race the Most Negative in Years

The television ads in the 2012 presidential race are more negative in tone than in the previous three elections, reports Bloomberg, citing a report from the Wesleyan Media Project.

Nearly two-thirds of presidential ads airing between June 1 and Sept. 30 had a negative tone, higher than the 40% of negative ads airing during that time in 2008, the piece notes. In the 2004 report, one-third of ads during the period were negative, while in 2000 the negative ads accounted for 18% of the total, the story says.

"It will come as no surprise to those who have been bombarded with advertising in key markets, but 2012 is another record-setting year in terms of the amount of negativity we’re seeing in the presidential race,” Erika Franklin Fowler, co- director of the Wesleyan Media Project, said in a statement.

more »

'Lie to Me' Creator Signs Deal With CBS TV Studios, Sells Drama to CBS

"Lie to Me" creator and executive producer Samuel Baum has signed a development deal with CBS TV Studios and sold a drama to CBS under the deal, reports Deadline.com.

The project, which is untitled, will focus on the surgeon general, who as "America's Doctor" helps battle politics and business to keep Americans healthy, the story notes.

Baum's "Lie to Me" ran on Fox for three seasons, from 2009-2011.

more »

CBS Buys Sitcom From 'Smurfs' Writers

CBS has bought a comedy from "Smurfs" writers Jay Scherick and David Ronn, reports Deadline.com. The untitled multicamera project is about a blended family, focusing on two very different brothers who are forced to move their families into the same house.

Scherick and Ronn, who co-wrote Sony Pictures Animation’s 2011 hit feature “The Smurfs” and a sequel set for release in 2013, are writing and executive producing the comedy, from Sony Pictures TV, where the pair have a blind script deal, the piece notes.

Their TV credits include “Caroline in the City” and “Spin City.”

more »

Netflix Giving Away Walk-on Parts in 'Arrested Development'

Netflix is giving away walk-on parts in its revived "Arrested Development," reports TheWrap.com. The company is running a contest to give away six walk-on roles.

There's a catch, though: To get one of the parts, contestants need to submit an original piece of "Arrested Development" content, ranging from a photo to an essay.

Netflix will pick the winners based on the originality, relevance and creativity of the pieces, the story adds. The contest ends Oct. 18.

more »

'Sixth Sense' Writer-Director M. Night Shyamalan Has Put Pilot Commitment For NBC Drama; Shyamalan Would Direct the Pilot

"In his first foray into network television, 'The Sixth Sense' writer/director M. Night Shyamalan has teamed with 'Eagle Eye' writer John Glenn for a drama project, which landed at NBC with a put pilot commitment," reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

The story continues, "Titled 'Lost Horizon,' the project hails from Sony Pictures TV and Shyamalan’s Blinding Edge Pictures."

Andreeva adds, "The premise is being kept under wraps but I hear 'Lost Horizon' revolves around a small fishing village on the East Coast. It is being described as a modern-day Moby Dick, dealing with obsession and the unknown, themes that are often reflected in Shyamalan’s movies."

Shyamalan also has a previously reported put pilot deal with the SyFy channel, which is owned by NBCUniversal.

more »

Julia Roberts to Produce Workplace Comedy for ABC

ABC has ordered a workplace comedy from Julia Roberts and her longtime collaborator Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Deadline.com reports.

“Taming of the Shrew” comes from Roberts’ Red Om Films, 3 Arts -- where Goldsmith-Thomas is a manager and producer -- and ABC Studios, the report notes. The project is not related to the Shakespeare play of the same title.

“Written by Marc Hyman (‘Meet the Fockers’), the ABC comedy follows a tyrannical CEO and the office staff who try to tame her,” the story reports. “Hyman, Roberts and Goldsmith-Thomas executive produce, with Red Om principals Lisa Gillan and Marissa Yeres Gill serving as producers.”

The report adds: “This marks the first TV development season for Goldsmith-Thomas since joining 3 Arts last fall. Her relationship with Roberts goes back 23 years to the time she was Roberts’ agent at ICM, guiding her career to global stardom. Goldsmith-Thomas then ran Revolution Studios East, supervising films under Roberts’ production deal there.”

Roberts and Goldsmith-Thomas executive produced the CBS series “Queens Supreme” and collaborated on a pair of “American Girl” films -- “An American Girl Adventure” for the WB and the feature film “Kit Kittredge: An American Girl,” the story notes.

julia-roberts.jpgJulia Roberts

more »

Video: Mitt Romney Won't Do 'Letterman,' So Letterman Gets a Celebrity Surrogate to Fill In for Him

Here’s a clip from last night’s episode of CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman” in which the host, frustrated that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won’t appear on the show, instead interviews a celebrity stand-in -- who hits it out of the park in his brief walk-on:

more »

Who Wins in 'American Idol's' Diva Smackdown? Seacrest Offers His Take

“American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest says he knows who the winner was in the heated verbal exchange between the show’s dueling divas, Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey.

The winner, according to Seacrest, was the show itself, which he apparently thinks will be better -- and presumably, will also reap a ratings bump -- as a result of the feud. The New York Daily News quotes Seacrest saying on his radio show today: "We want that! We want them to be on this panel together.”

Seacrest adds: “This is a good team, a great team, to go out and look for the next American Idol ... the feedback that they give is very good."

Seacrest admits that the shouting match got “intense,” the story notes. The taping reportedly was halted while Minaj and Carey exchanged profanities. (Click here to see a video clip.)

“Minaj, a wig-wearing wacko rap superstar, and Carey, a notoriously difficult diva, blew their stacks at each other when they disagreed about a contestant during ‘Idol’ auditions in Charlotte, N.C.,” the story reports. “Carey called Minaj a ‘b***h,’ and the ‘Your Love’ singer threatened, ‘I’m gonna knock you out!’”

Seacrest, who was reportedly outside the room when things first went awry, admitted: "It got heated between Nicki and Mariah. It was intense! I'll be honest with you. ... It went far last night. It did get intense."

But he added: “There’s nothing wrong with disagreeing. ... That's gonna happen, and it's OK."

more »

CBS and Yahoo Working on Rebranding 'The Insider'

When the “Entertainment Tonight” spinoff “The Insider” relaunches in January, it may be hard to recognize. CBS TV Distribution and Yahoo are collaborating to rebrand the syndicated newsmag, which is set to become “omg! NOW” -- the name of a popular Yahoo online vertical, B&C reports.

Assuming the deal is finished soon, as is expected, the changes -- which will include a new look for the show -- are set for the January relaunch.

“Multiple sources also said that newsmagazine and talk show veteran Brad Bessey is in talks to return to CBS as showrunner of the revamped daily show,” the report adds. “Bessey's credits include launching CBS's ‘The Talk’ as well as a 15-year run at industry standard ‘ET,’ where he served as co-EP under Linda Bell Blue, as well as a senior consultant on the show he is about to re-create, ‘The Insider.’ Blue maintains an EP credit on the new show as well.”

“The Insider,” hosted by Kevin Frazier and Brooke Anderson, is in its ninth season. Frazier and Anderson are likely to remain with the show, the story notes.

CBS shopped the idea of a co-branded update on the show before settling on Yahoo as a partner, the report says.

“An announcement could happen as soon as this week, but may have been pushed back by the news Tuesday that CTD chief John Nogawski was relieved of his duties by the company,” the report notes.

more »

Syndie Talk Show Rankings Become Clearer as Fall Season Gets Up to Speed

The pattern for fall 2012 continues to take shape in the hotly contested ratings fight among syndicated talk shows -- and with most shows now having unveiled their fall premieres, the early leader in the key demo of women 25-54 is NBCUniversal’s “Maury.”

For the week of Sept. 17, the veteran talker delivered a 1.7 average rating in women 25-54, up from a 1.4 a year ago. That edged “Dr. Phil’s” 1.6 -- even with a year ago -- and topped “Ellen” and “Live with Kelly & Michael,” tied at 1.5. “Dr. Oz” kept pace with a 1.4, but that was off from a 1.7 a year earlier. “Ellen” was even with a year ago, while “Kelly” was up one-tenth of a ratings point.

The top veterans outperformed the crowded field of rookies for the week, with “Katie” at the head of that pack with a 1.0 in women 25-54.

In households, “Dr. Phil” led the field with a 3.1 average rating for the week, followed by “Live with Kelly and Michael” with a 2.6, “Ellen” with a 2.4 and “Maury” and “Dr. Oz” tied for fourth with 2.3 averages. “Katie” led the rookies with a 1.8.

more »

New TNT Schedule Includes David E. Kelley Medical Series, Boston-Based Reality Show

TNT announced plans to roll out two new midseason shows along with new seasons for a number of returning shows, Entertainment Weekly reports.

Joining the lineup are "Boston's Finest," a new unscripted show from executive producer Donnie Wahlberg, and "Monday Mornings," from award-winning creator David E. Kelley ("L.A. Law"), which focuses on a group of Portland doctors.

Here are the premiere dates:

“Rizzoli & Isles” (winter premiere): Nov. 27

“Leverage” (winter premiere): Nov. 27

“Dallas” (season 2)” Jan. 28

“Monday Mornings” (series premiere): Feb. 4

“Southland” (season 5): Feb. 13

“Boston’s Finest” (series premiere): Feb. 27

more »

Video: TV Anchor Goes on the Offensive Against a Viewer Who Criticized Her Weight

In an incident that has received wide attention on the Internet, Jennifer Livingston, a morning anchor on CBS affiliate WKBT-TV in Lacrosse, Wis., responded on air to a viewer who criticized her for being overweight, The New York Times reports.

“Ms. Livingston’s response, which has gone viral on the Internet with almost 2 million views on YouTube alone, said she had initially dismissed the criticism but then decided to speak up to raise awareness about bullying behavior,” the story reports.

Livingston, 37, says in part in her response: “The truth is I am overweight. You could call me fat and yes, even obese on a doctor’s chart. But to the person who wrote me that letter, do you think I don’t know that? That your cruel words are pointing out something that I don’t see?”

She goes on to deliver an impassioned argument against bullying and hurtful verbal attacks and in support of sensitivity toward people's differences. Here’s her response:

more »

NBC Gives Early Renewals to Three New Series

After some ratings success at the start of the new television season, NBC quickly renewed three new shows Tuesday: the drama "Revolution" and the comedies "Go On" and "The New Normal," reports Bill Carter in The New York Times' Media Decoder.

"The orders are especially early, well before the fall season competition generally settles in; but NBC has had so little success in prime time lately that it needs to show some confidence in its new entries," Carter writes.

With entertainment executives Bob Greenblatt and Jennifer Salke responsible for picking this season's shows, the move also shows support for the team, the story adds.

"Revolution" has the strongest ratings, winning its 10 p.m. time period on Monday nights in both weeks of the new season and showing a big jump through delayed viewing, the story points out. Tuesday night comedies "Go On" and "The New Normal," meanwhile, have showed significant growth, Carter writes.

"Many series have started out quickly and faded, of course, which makes the NBC decision on Tuesday a risky one and vulnerable to second-guessing later," he adds.

more »

Diva Battle Breaks Out During 'American Idol' Auditions, Raising Alarm Among Producers -- Video Catches Nicki Minaj Cussing Out Fellow Judge Mariah Carey

A battle between two divas appears to be brewing at "American Idol," with rapper and judge Nicki Minaj caught on tape swearing at fellow judge and singer Mariah Carey during auditions Tuesday in Charlotte, according to a video posted by TMZ.com.

Producers on the show are concerned about how the two performers will work together long-term, according to the report.

Minaj reportedly threatened Carey, telling her, "I'm going to knock you out!," the story notes. Minaj reportedly made the comment before the tape began, the article says.

In the tape, posted below, Minaj is heard saying, "I told them I'm not f*ckin' putting up with her f**kin' highness over there." The exchange happened at the judges' table and reportedly started over a disagreement over a contestant's performance. Carey responds to Minaj, but it’s hard to hear what she is saying in the tape.

TMZ posted the following transcript to help viewers follow what’s being said in the video:

Nicki: Get this s**t in self control. Get in control. Get in control.
Randy: Settle down, settle down
Nicki: Don't lose your head. Don't lose your head (inaudible). Don't tell me I'm a gangster.
Nicki: (inaudible) every 5 minutes. So every time you patronize me, I'm-ma take it back, and if you've got a f**king problem, handle it.
Nicki: I told them I'm not f**kin' putting up with her f**king highness over there. Figure it the f**k out. Figure it out.
Nicki: I'm not gonna sit here every f**king minute to have you come down and harass me every minute everyday.

more »

Fox News Drills Staff on 5-Second Delay After Televising Suicide

Fox News Channel has drilled its staff on using a 5-second delay in an effort to ensure that the channel never repeats what happened Friday, when Fox News televised a suicide, reports TVNewser.com.

As previously reported, FNC was airing live coverage of an Arizona police chase when the suspect suddenly shot himself in the head.

On Sunday, Executive Vice President of News Michael Clemente circulated a memo telling producers to run through the delay system to make sure staffers know how and when to use it, the story adds.

Clemente’s memo includes the following passage, according to TVNewser: “Mistakes happen. When they happen at Fox News, the rest of the media piles on -- that’s what happens when you are a market leader.

“When they involve images that can be disturbing to young people or those in society who are unable to process such nightmares, it’s even more important that we handle issues like this with full confidence that our systems will work.”

Clemente blames the incident on “severe human error.” While there were rumors that whoever caused the error was fired, Fox News said that wasn't the case, although it added that the issue is being taken seriously, the story reports.

more »

Hard-to-Believe Non-TV Story of the Day: Frank Lloyd Wright-Designed House -- Called by NY Times Architecture Critic 'One of Wright's Great Works' -- in Danger of Being Destroyed This Week. Design Resembles Look of Wright's Guggenheim Museum

A developer in Phoenix wants to raze a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright -- and called by The New York Times architecture critic "one of Wright's great works" -- by tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012, unless someone buys the house, The New York  Times reports.

The design of the house -- on the outside -- resembles Wright's famous design of the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Here's a picture of the house The Times ran with its story:

wright-house-phoenix.jpgThe house was designed by Wright for his son, David, and was built 60 years ago, in 1952.

A developer bought the house in June of this year for $1.8 million, and "is looking to clear $2.2 million from any sale," the report says.

The developer, a company called 8081 Meridian, claims it has a demolition permit to raze the house.

According to the story, Phoenix "planning authorities learned of the permit and voided it after the demolition company the developer had hired, concerned about razing a Wright house, called to check that the permit was valid. [The developer] maintains that the permit is legal and that it expires on Thursday."

To read a lot more details about the house and how it came to be that a developer bought it to tear down, please click on the link to The Times story, above.

more »

NBC Buys 1980s Sitcom From 'Arrested Development' Star

NBC has ordered a comedy set in the 1980s, tracking a family coming together after the parents divorce, from “Arrested Development” star Jason Bateman and "Up All Night" executive producer DJ Nash, Deadline.com reports.

The comedy, "Then Came Elvis," is loosely based on Nash's life. Nash will executive produce with Bateman and Jim Garavante, the president of Bateman's Aggregate Films production company, the story notes.

“Told through voice-over from the adult son’s perspective, the series examines how, at 13, the son would have changed just about everything that was happening, but as an adult looking back, he wouldn’t change a thing,” the story reports.

Before surfacing on “Arrested Development” in the early 2000s, Bateman appeared in 1980s and 1990s sitcoms such as “It’s Your Move” and “The Hogan Family.” He has since expanded into feature films, including “Juno” and “Hancock.”

more »

Multiple Grammy-Winning Rock Band With Roots Going Back to Nirvana Is About to 'Go Away for a While'

The leader of one of the most popular rock bands of the past 20 years dropped a bombshell this week, indicating the group will no longer be out there fighting foo -- at least for a while.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl released a statement saying: "I'm not sure when the Foo Fighters are going to play again. It feels strange to say that, but it's a good thing for all of us to go away for a while.”

Grohl, who was the drummer in the seminal grunge band Nirvana, formed the Foo Fighters following the suicide of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain in 1994. The Foo Fighters went on to become one of the most important and successful rock bands of the past two decades, including winning 11 Grammy Awards.

The band, which has won Best Rock Album at the Grammys four times, released its seventh studio album, “Wasting Light,” last year.

Grohl offered words of encouragement to Foo Fighters fans, indicating the band’s break will be temporary. “I never want to not be in this band,” he says in the statement. “So, sometimes it's good to just ... put it back in the garage for a while."

dave-grohl.jpgDave Grohl

more »

'Family Guy' Shakes Things Up, Brings In 'Cleveland Show' Co-Creator to Run the Series

The co-creator and executive producer of "The Cleveland Show," who just signed a new multiyear overall deal extending his long run with 20th Century Fox TV, will take over as showrunner and executive producer on "Family Guy,” Deadline.com reports.

Rich Appel’s new deal with Twentieth will run his relationship with the studio to two decades, the story notes.

Current “Family Guy” co-showrunners Mark Hentemann and Steve Callaghan will stay with the show as executive producers, while Appel will continue in his job as executive producer and showrunner on "The Cleveland Show," the story adds.

"'Family Guy' has a history of changing things up at the top to bring new energy to the veteran animated comedy. Several years ago, Hentemann and Callaghan took over showrunner duties from David Goodman and Chris Sheridan, who also continued with the show for years after that," the story notes.

more »

TLC Greenlights 'Starter Wives,' Featuring Exes of Stars From Sports, Music and Crime

A reality show about celebrity ex-wives and ex-girlfriends has been greenlighted by TLC, featuring the exes of Lamar Odom, 50 Cent, Floyd Mayweather and others, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Production will start this month on "Starter Wives" (working title). The show is scheduled to premiere in early 2013, the story adds.

The cast list released by TLC includes Cheryl Caruso, the ex-wife of mobster Phillip Caruso; Josie Harris, the ex-girlfriend of boxing champ Mayweather and the mother of his three children; Liza Morales, the ex-girlfriend of NBA star Odom; Shaniqua Tompkins, the ex-girlfriend of rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson; and Monica Joseph-Taylor, soon-to-be-ex-wife of Aston “Funkmaster Flex” Taylor.

The initial order is for four episodes, the story notes.

more »

Cablevision Blackout Leads to Huge Ratings Drop for WPIX-TV as Pressure Ratchets Up in Retrans Dispute

A blackout on Cablevision's systems has led to a huge ratings drop for Tribune-owned WPIX-TV, the CW affiliate in the New York market, reports MediaPost's MediaDailyNews.

From Aug. 20-Sept. 23, the household ratings for WPIX's late newscast declined 42%, the story reports. WPIX has been blacked out in Cablevision's 3 million New York-area homes since Aug. 17, the story notes.

"With its lower news ratings, WPIX might be missing out on some of the political ad dollars being spent, notably by wealthy Connecticut U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon. The FCC website indicates that WPIX has not landed a single dollar in political spending this season," the story reports.

The retrans dispute between Tribune and Cablevision, which extends a little beyond New York, remains unresolved. Now, with the CW getting its fall season going, the stakes are getting higher.

“Pressure on Cablevision from subscribers who want the CW shows could play a role in ending the standoff,” the report notes. “The CW can’t be happy, with its network unavailable in about 3% of the U.S. and off the air in the homes of all those advertising and media executives in New York.”

The report notes: “Tribune might have been able to gain some leverage with fan anger over missing WPIX’s broadcast of a New York Giants game this season. But Cablevision pulled an end-around offering all subscribers the NFL Network with the game -- and airing it on Channel 11, where WPIX usually resides.”

more »

Bill O'Reilly Notches Ratings Milestone as Third-Quarter Results Are In for Cable News

Bill O'Reilly's top-rated Fox News Channel show "The O'Reilly Factor" marked a milestone with release of the cable news ratings for the third quarter, TVNewser.com reports.

The show ended its 50th consecutive quarter as the No. 1 program in cable news, based on total viewers, the story reports. Fox News, meanwhile, continued to dominate cable news during the third quarter, claiming all of the top 10 programs, reports TVNewser.com.

Fox News gained 6% from a year ago in total prime-time viewers during the quarter, although it was down 11% in prime time among viewers 25 to 54, the story notes. The network's daytime programming continues to draw younger viewers, with almost every time period posting gains in the 25-54 demo, the piece adds.

Here are the third-quarter numbers for the major cable news channels, as reported by TVNewser:

Fox News Channel

Prime time (Mon-Sun): 1,999,000 total viewers / 392,000 A25-54
Total day (Mon-Sun): 1,147,000 total viewers / 268,000 A25-54


Prime time (Mon-Sun): 935,000 total viewers / 298,000 A25-54
Total day (Mon-Sun): 515,000 total viewers / 175,000 A25-54


Prime time (Mon-Sun): 616,000 total viewers / 188,000 A25-54
Total day (Mon-Sun): 388,000 total viewers / 118,000 A25-54


Prime time (Mon-Sun): 451,000 total viewers / 150,000 A25-54
Total day (Mon-Sun): 675,000 total viewers / 192,000 A25-54

more »

TV Documentary on Hold as Questions Surface About Controversial Scroll Mentioning Wife of Jesus

A documentary slated to air on Smithsonian Channel about the papyrus fragment that includes a phrase referring to Jesus' wife has been delayed, reports the New York Post.

With questions arising about the scroll’s authenticity, the channel postponed airing the program, the story notes. “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” had been scheduled to debut Sept. 30.

The story reports: “The documentary’s major piece of evidence was a papyrus fragment written in Coptic that, when translated, read ‘Jesus said to them, my wife ...’”

While some experts believe the fragment could have been written in the second century, others believe it might be a fake, the story adds. The show will get a new premiere date soon and will add in responses to the announcement of the fragment and upcoming tests on the papyrus, the network said.

"Any time questions about Jesus’ marital status arise so do questions regarding the celibacy of Catholic priests and the role of women in the church," the story notes.

more »

Remake of 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Gets Second Season

The remake of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" has earned a second-season order from Nickelodeon, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

The show debuted over the weekend, ranking as the week's top telecast among children 2 to 11 years old. About 2.1 million kids tuned in, with half of them boys, the story says. The show was also the No. 1 children's program on basic cable, drawing 3.9 million viewers during the week.

Nickelodeon is trying to find a new hit to revive its flagging ratings, as older shows such as "SpongeBob SquarePants" have dominated its schedule.

The network ordered another 26 episodes of the computer-animated show, with the new season to air next year.

more »

John Nogawski, President of CBS Television Distribution, Out in Reorganization

John  Nogawski, president of CBS Television Distribution, is leaving the company, CBS Television Distribution has announced.

The announcement says, "Armando Nuñez has been named President and Chief Executive Officer of the CBS Global Distribution Group, a newly created position that will lead CBS’s combined domestic and international television distribution business, it was announced today by Leslie Moonves, President and Chief Executive Officer, CBS Corporation.

"Nuñez, who has served as President of CBS’s international television division since 1999, will now oversee a streamlined worldwide television distribution operation that includes CBS Television Distribution, a preeminent syndicator of first-run and off-network programming, and CBS Studios International, which licenses CBS programming worldwide to more than 200 markets across multiple media platforms."

Our good friend Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com, who first reported the restructuring, writes, "Nogawski’s departure follows a very soft start for CBS TV Distribution’s high-profile new syndicated daytime talk show hosted by 'Survivor‘s' Jeff Probst. Another high-profile syndicated talk show shepherded by Nogawski, a late-night talker with Arsenio Hall, is slated for a fall 2013 launch with the Tribune stations as a core group.

"CBS TV Distribution boasts the top daytime syndicated series with court show 'Judge Judy' and talk show 'Dr. Phil.' But it has struggled to successfully expand its talk-show portfolio beyond the series brought in by the 2006 merger with King World: 'Dr. Phil,' which spawned spinoff 'The Doctors,' and 'Rachael Ray.' "

The Deadline.com story continues, "CBS TV Distribution has been successful on the off-network sale side, recently landing blockbuster deals for 'NCIS: LA' and 'Hawaii Five-0' in the series’ first seasons on air. The company previously had a very rich off-network deal for drama 'Medium' at Lifetime."

The official CBS announcement says Nogawski "will be leaving the Company after assisting with the transition."

The announcement also says, "Nuñez joined CBS Broadcast International as President in July 1999. In January 2000, following the merger of CBS Television and King World Productions, he assumed the role of President, CBS Broadcast International and Executive Vice President, CBS Enterprises. He was named President, CBS Studios International (formerly CBS Paramount International Television), in August 2004, following the merger of CBS Broadcast International and Paramount International Television."

About Nogawski's tenure at CBS Andreeva writes, "Before the 2006 merger of King World and CBS Paramount Domestic Television into CBS TV Distribution, Nogawski had been President, CBS Paramount Domestic TV since March 2002. In that position, he was responsible for the sales and marketing of top entertainment newsmagazines 'Entertainment Tonight' and its spinoff 'The Insider.' Previously, Nogawski served as President, Distribution, Paramount Domestic TV, a position he held since 1999."

more »

Proud as a Peacock: NBC Pulls Off a Ratings Achievement It Hasn't Accomplished in Nine Years

NBC is marking a ratings achievement that it just pulled off for the first time in nine years: The Peacock Network won the ratings battle during premiere week in the key demographic of viewers 18-49, TVLine.com reports.

The network had a big advantage over its broadcast rivals with perennial ratings juggernaut “Sunday Night Football,” but it also got a strong performance from “Revolution,” the season’s top-rated rookie drama, along with good numbers for two installments of “The Voice.”

Also contributing to the cause was Matthew Perry’s “Go On,” the season’s No. 2 new comedy, behind ABC’s “The Neighbors.”

The last time NBC won premiere week in viewers 18-49 was in 2003.

“NBC was also the only broadcast network to improve its 18-49 rating year-over-year, rising 12 percent to an average of 2.9. ABC (averaging 2.2), CBS (2.4) and Fox (2.6) all experienced declines of at least 20 percent,” the report notes. “Of course, NBC is delivering that demo while placing No. 3 in total viewers, and far, far behind most-watched CBS.”

CBS led total viewers with a prime-time average of 10.7 million, followed by ABC with 8.3 milliion, NBC with 8.2 million and Fox with 6.9 million. NBC was the only network to post a gain, rising 9% from last year’s premiere week average of 7.5 million. The other three networks were generally down about 15%, the story reports.

“CBS boasted the two most-watched newbies (in ‘Vegas’ and ‘Elementary’), while ABC’s ‘Last Resort’ placed a distant third,” the report notes. “In the 18-49 demo, ‘Elementary,’ ‘Go On,’ ‘Vegas’ and CBS’s ‘Partners’ rounded out the Top 5, trailing ‘Revolution.’”

Among all programs, ABC’s “Modern Family” (5.5) and CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” (5.0) topped the rankings among sitcoms in the 18-49 demo. Top dramas were ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” (4.4), CBS’s “NCIS” (4.1) and ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” (3.9).

more »

Fans of 'The Simpsons' Invited to Create a 'Couch Gag' for the Show

Fans of Fox's "The Simpsons" will get a chance to write a scene for the show, reports Deadline.com. The producers are encouraging viewers to write their version of an opening "couch gag” as part of a contest sponsored by the network and show.

The winning joke will be animated and used in the season finale in May 2013. Submissions must be posted to thesimpsons.com/couchgag by Nov. 15.

Fans will vote on the best idea. Film Roman will then animate the winning bit for the season finale.

more »

Anthony Bourdain Unleashes Verbal Assault on Rival Chef's New Eatery

Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, a star of Travel Channel and CNN, stuck a verbal fork in one of his rivals, calling Guy Fieri’s new midtown Manhattan restaurant a “terror-dome,” Esquire reports.

And he didn’t stop there. Fieri, the star of Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," recently opened Guy's American Kitchen and Bar, which became the subject of a volley of insults from Bourdain during an appearance on the "Opie and Anthony" radio program.

Bourdain attacked the new eatery for its large 500-seat capacity, its pricing, its gift shop and its “douchebag” patronage, the story reports.

Bourdain added: "He single-handedly turned the neighborhood into the Ed Hardy district, which I'm a little pissed off about."

Others have also joined in the chorus complaints about the new Fieri venture, the report notes, with food critics and Twitter users among those offering negative appraisals.

“Guy's American Kitchen and Bar does make an almost too-easy target, though, what with its two Yelp stars and a website with no shortage of ‘taco grease’ mentions or Fieri's metal bracelets and bleached hair,” the report notes.

Bourdain has never been one to bite his tongue, having previously attacked other TV food stars including Paula Deen, Bobby Flay, Sandra Lee and Rachael Ray.

more »

HBO Renews 'Boardwalk Empire'

The award-winning HBO period drama "Boardwalk Empire" has been renewed for a fourth season, reports TheWrap.com. HBO President of Programming Michael Lombardo made the announcement today.

In a statement, Lombardo said, "Terry Winter, Martin Scorsese and the rest of their outstanding team continue to produce a stunning show that never fails to surprise and entertain. We are excited to bring this unique series back for a fourth season."

Last season "Boardwalk Empire" averaged 8.6 million viewers an episode. So far this season, the premiere reached 7.2 million, but that's before adding the numbers from other showings and on-demand viewings.

Steve Buscemi stars in the Prohibition-era drama as gangster and power broker "Nucky" Thompson.

more »

'Katie' Has Plenty of Company as Ratings Race Tightens Among New Syndie Talkers

A close race is shaping up for the new syndicated daytime talk shows, especially in key demos focusing on women viewers. The segment leader continues to be Katie Couric’s “Katie,” with “Steve Harvey” emerging as Couric’s top rival.

For the week of Sept. 17 -- week two for all the shows except “Steve Harvey” (week three) and the new entry “Trisha” (week one) -- “Katie” led households with a 1.8 rating, although that number was down 10% from the previous week. “Steve Harvey” delivered a 1.3, improving 8% from a week earlier.

Trailing were “Ricki Lake” and “Jeff Probst,” both at 0.7, and “Trisha” at 0.4.

Things were closer in the key women’s demos. In women 18-49, “Katie” and “Steve Harvey” were tied with 0.7 average ratings -- a decline of 13% for “Katie” and flat for “Harvey.” Falling in behind the two leaders were “Ricki” (0.5), “Probst” (0.3) and “Trisha” (0.2).

In women 25-54, “Katie” led with a 1.0 average, down 9% from the previous week, followed by “Steve Harvey” (0.8, down 11%), “Ricki” (0.6), “Probst” (0.4) and “Trisha” (0.2).

A veteran daytime talk show, meanwhile, is off to its best start ever, and leads all the rookies by a wide margin. “Ellen” is averaging a 1.6 rating in women 25-54 for the first two weeks of the show’s new season -- an improvement of 7% from a year ago -- to rank as the top daytime talk show.

Numbers for week one of “Ricki Lake” continue to be reassessed by Nielsen to account for a carriage dispute in the New York market.

more »

PBS Leads the Way at News & Documentary Emmys -- See the Complete List of Winners

PBS was the big winner at the 33rd Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards, presented by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The service took home nine Emmys to lead the way -- including five Emmys for its “POV” series.

ABC and CBS tied for second with seven Emmys each, followed by NBC with three. Tied with two Emmys apiece were CNN (and CNNi), Discovery Channel and HBO.

Among the top categories, ABC won for outstanding coverage of a breaking news story in a regularly scheduled newscast (for “Gadhafi Speaks”); outstanding continuing coverage of a news story in a regularly scheduled newscast (for “Crisis in Libya”); and outstanding feature story in a regularly scheduled newscast (for “American Valor: Land of the Brave”); while CBS won for outstanding investigative journalism in a regularly scheduled newscast (for “Gunwalker: Fast and Furious”).

PBS’s “Frontline” picked up two Emmys for outstanding coverage of a breaking news story in a newsmagazine, for “Revolution in Cairo” and “Syria Undercover.”

CBS’s “48 Hours” won outstanding continuing coverage of a news story in a newsmagazine for “Grave Injustice,” and CBS’s “60 Minutes” won outstanding feature story in a newsmagazine for “Gospel for Teens.”

ABC’s “20/20” won outstanding investigative journalism in a newsmagazine for “Brian Ross Investigates: Peace Corps -- A Trust Betrayed.”

TV stations winning for regional reporting were WFAA-TV in Dallas and WTHR-TV in Indianapolis.

Click here to see the full list of winners.

more »

NBC's 'Munsters' Remake in Trouble

The remake of "The Munsters" is apparently dead at NBC, with executives leaning toward passing on the project, reports Deadline.com.

The Bryan Fuller project has been at the network since the 2010-11 development cycle, with the script one of the few kept in the works when Bob Greenblatt joined as entertainment chief in 2011, the story notes.

While the pilot was said to be visually striking, similar to Fuller's "Pushing Daisies," the project "didn't quite work," the story notes. The project featured Jerry O'Connell as Herman Munster, Portia de Rossi as his wife and Eddie Izzard as Grandpa. Fuller is also working on “Hannibal," which has a midseason order.

Bryan Fuller issued a tweet that said the story is "Dead Wrong" and added that readers should stay tuned for updates.

more »

Delayed Viewing Is Shattering Records, Pumping Up New Series -- and in Some Cases, Changing the Way Networks Look at Ratings

Some of the new television shows are getting a lot of help from delayed viewing via online streaming or DVR taping, with some of the results "eye-popping," reports Bill Carter in The New York Times' Media Decoder.

NBC's new drama "Revolution,' for example, added 3.7 million viewers to its original total, representing a gain of 41%, the story points out.

The numbers are even more striking in the key demo of viewers 18-49. “Revolution” started with a promising 3.4 rating in the advertiser-friendly demo, but added 1.74 ratings points from delayed viewing -- a 53% jump -- to climb to a 5.2. The increase is a record for any new series.

“’Revolution’ was the biggest gainer, but the general trend was positive across the board, with an average gain of 26% in that 18-49 category,” Carter writes. “That kind of bounce is so significant that at least one network on Monday was contemplating not releasing or commenting on its ratings in the future until the three-day results were released.”

Two other new fall series benefiting from delayed viewing are CBS’s “Vegas” and NBC’s “The New Normal.”

Carter writes: “Among new shows, which often are less recorded until viewers get to know them, the CBS drama ‘Vegas’ got a nice lift to a 3.2 rating from a 2.5; and NBC’s new comedy ‘The New Normal’ looked far better after three days with a 2.8, up from a 2.0 -- a gain of 40%.”

"The results seemed to prove that patience will be more important than ever with new series," Carter notes.

CBS also saw low results for its returning drama "Hawaii Five-0" on Tuesday, with its worst-ever rating in 18-to-49 for its initial telecast. But by three days later, that 1.8 rating in the demographic had climbed to a 2.6 rating, which Carter calls "a respectable number."

The piece adds: “The biggest takeaway in the television business from the season’s first week is that first impressions of a new show’s success may mean next to nothing now.”

more »

Don Johnson's Payout in 'Nash Bridges' Lawsuit Slashed by Millions

The award given to Don Johnson in a lawsuit over "Nash Bridges" has been reduced by $35 million, with the actor now slated to receive $15 million, reports TheWrap.com.

Rysher Productions, which produced the 1996-2001 TV show, was ordered in 2010 to pay Johnson $23 million in profits for the show and interest, along with an additional $28.5 million in interest.

After an appeal was filed by Rysher, which argued that the amount of interest was wrongly calculated and also alleged jury misconduct, the California Court of Appeal agreed with the production company. The court said Johnson should receive $15 million, plus interest as of July 2010, when the verdict was reached, the piece adds.

more »

After Overtaking NBC in the Morning Ratings, ABC Narrows the Gap in Evening News

Fresh off weekly wins by “Good Morning America” over NBC’s “Today” show, ABC News is touting gains by its “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer” during the first week of the fall season.

The news division reports that “World News” averaged 7.39 million total viewers and a 1.5 rating/6 share/1.80 million in the key news demo of adults 25-54, according to Nielsen Media Research for the week of Sept. 24.

The ABC broadcast narrowed the gap with market leader “NBC Nightly News” to just 42,000 total viewers, slashing 94% of the gap from a year ago, ABC News reports.

Additionally, “ABC World News” was the most-watched evening newscast, in total viewers, on two nights of the week -- Tuesday and Friday. And it was No. 1 on Friday in adults 25-54. The week ranked as the most-watched premiere week for “World News” in four years.

“’ABC World News’ was up week-to-week in both total viewers (+1%) and adults 25-54 (+2%) -- 7.32 million and 1.77 million, respectively, [from the week of Sept. 17]. ‘World News’ stood as the only evening news program to grow in both measures over the prior week as the ‘CBS Evening News’ was mixed (+5%/-1%) and ‘NBC Nightly News’ was down (-5%/-4%). Further, ‘World News’ has increased its total viewer count week to week in six of the past seven weeks,” ABC News reports.

“World News” was up 2% for the week in total viewers from its premiere week a year ago. The ABC broadcast topped “NBC Nightly News” by 129,000 total viewers on Tuesday (Sept. 25) -- delivering 7.935 million to 7.806 million for NBC -- and beat NBC again on Friday (Sept. 28), by 587,000 total viewers -- 6.756 million to 6.169 million. “ABC World News” was the most-watched evening newscast on those two nights.

It was the first time in more than a year, since the week of Aug. 15, 2011, that “ABC World News” beat NBC’s newscast twice during the course of a week of regular telecasts.

The ABC newscast aslo topped “CBS Evening News” -- by 1.24 million total viewers and by 157,000 adults 25-54.

more »

Even as His Affair With 'Red Sonja' Co-Star Is Confirmed, Schwarzenegger Hopes to Reunite With Maria Shriver

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told Fox News that he's hopeful he might be able to reunite with Maria Shriver, whom he called a "fantastic" wife, the Los Angeles Times' L.A. Now reports.

The movie star, who is promoting his new autobiography "Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story," said he couldn't explain the affair that led to Shriver moving out of the family's Brentwood mansion in 2011 and filing for divorce. Schwarzenegger had covered up an affair with their housekeeper, Mildred Baena, that resulted in the birth of a son, now 14.

The new book confirms what actress Brigitte Nielsen revealed in 2011 -- that Schwarzenegger and Nielsen had an affair during filming of “Red Sonja” in 1985, when Schwarzenegger was already living with Shriver.

Schwarzenegger talked about his affair with Baena on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” saying: "I think it was the stupidest thing I've done in the whole relationship. It was terrible. I inflicted tremendous pain on Maria and unbelievable pain on the kids."

more »

Former 'SNL' Star Headed to 'Parks and Recreation'

A former "Saturday Night Live" star has been cast on the NBC sitcom "Parks and Recreation," reports TVLine.com.

Brad Hall will guest-star as Wreston Sarnoff, an architect from the neighboring and wealthier town of Eagleton. When he offers to design a new park for Pawnee, Leslie Knope ("SNL" alumna Amy Poehler) becomes suspicious given Eagleton's history of pranking her town, the story notes.

Hall, who has also guest-starred on "Curb Your Enthusiasm," is the husband of Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

brad-hall.jpgBrad Hall

more »

Showtime Has Its Largest Sunday Audience Ever

Showtime had a big ratings night Sunday, fueled by two season premieres, B&C reports. The pay-cable network apparently benefited from the Emmy win for “Homeland” as best drama series a week ago.

For its season two premiere, "Homeland" delivered 1.73 million viewers at 10 p.m. on Sunday, a gain of 60% from its series debut a year earlier. Across its three airings Sunday, the show totaled 2.07 million viewers, an increase of 50% when compared with the first season's debut night, the story adds.

The 2.07 million figure was also up 2% from the night of the “Homeland” season one finale, the story reports. “Homeland” is on track to become Showtime’s second-most-watched series, behind “Dexter.”

“Earlier in the night, the seventh season premiere of ‘Dexter’ delivered 2.4 million viewers at 9 p.m. and 3.04 million for the night, increasing 10% versus its season six premiere in both measures,” the story reports.

The combination of “Dexter” and “Homeland” gave Showtime its largest Sunday audience of all time, the report adds.

more »

Google Got Sweetheart Deal in Kansas City to Build Its Competitor to Cable and Telco. Now Time Warner Cable and AT&T Want Same Sweeteners. Also, Google Plans to Bring the Service to More Cities

Time Warner Cable and AT&T want the same concesssions that Kansas City -- both Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri -- gave Google to build its network in those cities, The Wall Street Journal reports. [Warning: The WSJ is behind a firewall and might charge you to read this story.]

The article notes, "Among the sweeteners granted Google by both cities are free office space and free power for Google's equipment, according to the agreement on file with the cities. The company also gets the use of all the cities' 'assets and infrastructure' -- including fiber, buildings, land and computer tools, for no charge."

The story continues, "For the past few months Time Warner Cable has been negotiating with Kansas City, Kan., to get a 'parity agreement' granting it the same concessions as Google got, the city and the company say. Time Warner Cable has already signed such a deal with Kansas City, Mo.
AT&T also has approached Kansas City, Mo., for the same deal, according to a person familiar with the matter."

The article adds, "Google is building a fiber network in the Kansas City area that will offer pay-TV and Internet at extremely fast speeds of one gigabit per second -- a speed that the company boasts would allow a person to download a season of '30 Rock' in 30 seconds. The Internet company chose Kansas City from more than 1,100 cities in the U.S. that had expressed interest in having the Google Fiber network built in their areas. Google plans to start providing service in the first neighborhood, Hanover Heights, later this month."

The story also says, "Already, the situation has given the cities new bargaining power. The Kansas cities are asking Time Warner Cable and AT&T to promise new, improved community services comparable to the ones Google has offered -- which include hundreds of free connections to government-picked locations -- before they'll give them a deal like Google's."

Also included in the perks to Google, the report says, is the "unusual right to start its fiber project only in neighborhoods guaranteeing high demand for the service through pre-registrations. Most cable and phone companies were required by franchise agreements with regional governments to build out most of the markets they entered, regardless of demand.

"The concessions made by the Kansas cities raise an unnerving question for existing pay-TV and Internet providers: whether other cities across the country could offer similarly sweet deals that could encourage Google to expand its Fiber build-out. Jenna Wandres, a Google Fiber spokeswoman, affirmed Monday that 'right now we're focused on Kansas City, but we hope to expand to other communities in the future.' "

more »

ABC Buys Two Shonda Rhimes Projects

ABC has bought two projects from Shonda Rhimes' Shondaland -- a half-hour comedy and a dramedy, reports Deadline.com.

The comedy, "I Hate L.A. Dudes," is about an aspiring journalist who is the only woman on an Internet-based talk show, the story says. The show, Shondaland’s first sitcom, is from writer Issa Rae, known for the Web series “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.”

The dramedy, "The Mix," is set behind the scenes on a talk show like "The View," which features five women who co-host a morning talk show, the story notes. It’s written by John Hoffman (“Igor”).

“With Rhimes busy shepherding three series she created -- ABC’s ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ ‘Private Practice’ and ‘Scandal’ -- she and her producing partner at Shondaland Betsy Beers focused on developing with other writers this season,” the report notes. “The two executive produce both ‘I Hate L.A. Dudes’ and ‘The Mix,’ which hail from ABC Studios.”

more »

Ryan Murphy Adds to His Workload With New NBC Comedy, Fox Drama

Ryan Murphy, who is the co-creator/executive producer of three current television shows, has signed on to produce a drama for Fox and a comedy for NBC, reports Deadline.com.

Ryan Murphy Television has sold "Montauk," from "Apollo 18" writer Brian Miller, to Fox. It's reportedly a family thriller set in Montauk, Long Island. Miller and Murphy are also working together on a sci-fi-/horror movie for Sony.

The NBC comedy premise is being kept quiet, the piece notes. Writers Matt Spicer and Max Winkler co-created the project, with Spicer writing and Winkler directing, the story says.

20th Century Fox TV, where Ryan Murphy TV is based, is co-producing both projects. Both Murphy and his company's president, Dante di Loreto, are executive producing.

Murphy's on-air shows are "Glee," "American Horror Story" and "The New Normal."

more »

CBS Buys Faith-Based Drama From 'Immortals' Writers

"Immortals" writers Charley and Vlas Parlapanides have sold a faith-based drama to CBS, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The drama is about a Marine who, during an almost fatal accident, pledges to God that he will atone for the deaths he has brought about if he can safely return to his family, the story notes. Called "The Centurion," the project features the Marine working with the angel of his best friend, who died in the accident, the story says.

The brothers will write and executive produce the project for ABC Studios. "Revenge" consulting producer Bob Sertner and "Fast & Furious" writer Chris Morgan will also produce, the story says.

more »

Lifetime Is Sued Over 'Steel Magnolias' Reboot

Lifetime has been sued over the network's telepic based on the 1989 film "Steel Magnolias," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq.

The lawsuit was filed Monday by Victoria L. White, who served as an executive producer on the feature film, the report says. White charges Lifetime, A&E Networks and Sony Pictures Television with making the film without her permission or an agreement for the underlying rights, according to the story.

The lawsuit claims White bought the rights and developed the film with other people, including Ray Stark, who died in 2004. She claims she's entitled to a producing credit on the new TV project or projects, as well as $5,000 per episode, a $10,000 bonus and a share of net profits, the piece adds.

White is asking the court to stop the release of the remake unless she receives compensation and a screen credit.

more »

Tyler Perry to Develop Scripted Series for OWN

Oprah Winfrey’s cable channel is in business with media mogul Tyler Perry, who has signed an exclusive multiyear deal with OWN, Deadline.com reports.

“Under the pact, he will executive produce, write and direct two new scripted series for a mid-2013 premiere on OWN, marking the network’s first foray into scripted programming,” the story reports.

Said Winfrey: “I have been looking forward to the day when we would be in the position to enter the world of scripted television. That day has come. We are all energized by the opportunity to collaborate with Tyler, who has a proven track record for producing highly successful cable series.”

Perry has been behind the TBS series “House of Payne,” “Meet the Browns” and “For Better or Worse,” the story notes.

“Like his movies, Perry’s TV brand has been an urban sitcom with a predominantly black cast but in both areas he has been packing large audiences,” the report notes. “Given OWN’s success with series like ‘Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s,’ the network has been expanding on programming appealing to black viewers, now bringing in one of those viewers’ biggest draws in Perry.”

Perry’s current shows will remain on TBS, while his new development will be for OWN. Perry and Winfrey partnered before on the movie “Precious.”

The report adds: “The deal with Perry comes as OWN finished its third consecutive quarter of year-over-year, double-digit ratings gains across primetime and total day in the key women 25-54 demo (+63% and +70% respectively) and saw triple-digit ratings growth in September.”

more »

Motion Picture Academy's Surprise Choice to Host Oscars

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has made a surprising choice to host the 85th Academy Awards, reports Deadline.com.

The ceremony will be hosted by animation guru Seth MacFarlane, known for "Family Guy" and "American Dad" and for directing the hit 2012 feature “Ted.” MacFarlane has never hosted the Academy Awards before.

In a statement, the producers of the awards, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, said, “We are thrilled to have Seth MacFarlane host the Oscars. His performing skills blend perfectly with our ideas for making the show entertaining and fresh. He will be the consummate host, and we are so happy to be working with him.”

MacFarlane has hosted "Saturday Night Live," as well as a musical variety television show on Fox, and last year was nominated for a Grammy for his easy listening CD, "Music Is Better Than Words." This past summer he made his directorial film debut with "Ted," which became a surprise worldwide box office hit.

seth-macfarlane.jpgSeth MacFarlane

more »

AMC Orders More 'Small Town Security' and Greenlights Another Show Focused on Small Towns

AMC has ordered a second season of the reality show "Small Town Security," and has also ordered eight episodes of a new unscripted program called "Road Show," about small-town talent shows, Deadline.com reports.

"Road Show" and season two of "Small Town Security" will premiere in the second quarter of 2013, after AMC debuts the new "Venice Beach Freakshow" and an untitled taxidermy series in the first quarter.

Joel Stillerman, AMC’s EVP of Original Programming, said in a statement: “'Small Town Security' was such a great ride for us in Season 1, and we are thrilled to be able to continue that into a second season. 'Road Show' is a doc-style talent competition series that celebrates the stories of the people who ever sang into their hairbrush, or lost sleep over their premiere in a community theater production.”

more »

Series That Was a Staple on Television in the 1970s May Be Headed to Big Screen

One of the most beloved television series of the 1970s and early 1980s is in the works for a reboot into a motion picture, reports Deadline.com.

The series is "Little House on the Prairie." Abi Morgan is set to write the screenplay with David Gordon Green directing the feature and Trip Friendly producing.

The TV series and potential film emanate from the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, which were written between 1932 and 1943. The stories followed a family living on a farm in 19th century America.

In the NBC TV series, Michael Landon was the head of the family, with child star Melissa Gilbert playing Laura Ingalls as a girl.

more »

Airdate Set for Lifetime's 'Liz & Dick'

Lindsay Lohan's new Lifetime television movie in which she portrays screen legend Elizabeth Taylor, the biopic "Liz & Dick," will air on the network on Sunday, Nov. 25, at 9 p.m. ET, Deadline.com reports.

The film tells the tumultuous love story of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, with Grant Bowler playing the famous British thespian. In their time together, the couple were married twice and appeared on screen together in a series of films, including "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf."

The telefilm is being produced by Larry A. Thompson and was directed by Lloyd Kramer from a script by Christopher Monger.

A+E Networks will oversee the international distribution of "Liz & Dick."

more »

FCC OKs Plan to Have Broadcasters Give Up Spectrum

The Federal Communications Commission has approved a wide-reaching plan designed to repurpose the public airwaves now used for broadcast television. The New York Times reports that the panel unanimously approved a preliminary proposal to reclaim spectrum from broadcasters and sell it off for use in wireless broadband networks.

A portion of the proceeds from the sales would be returned to broadcasters.

“The initiative, which the FCC said would be the first in which any government would pay to reclaim public airwaves with the intention of selling them, would help satisfy what many industry experts say is booming demand for wireless Internet capacity,” the story reports. “Mobile broadband traffic will increase more than thirtyfold by 2015, the commission estimates. Without additional airwaves to handle the traffic, officials say, consumers will face more dropped calls, connection delays and slower downloads of data.”

The FCC is expected to release a proposal detailing the program next week, outlining rules for what it calls incentive auctions. The panel will take public comments on the issue during the next few months.

Before the vote, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said: “In this flat, competitive world, capital and talent can flow anywhere. We’re in a global bandwidth race. It’s similar to the space race in that success will unleash waves of innovation that will go a long way toward determining who leads our global economy in the 21st century.”

The Times adds: “The auctions are not expected until 2014, but commission officials and Congress have estimated that the process could generate $15 billion in proceeds. About $7 billion of that would be set aside to build a nationwide emergency communications network for public safety officials, a yet-unfulfilled recommendation of the 9/11 Commission.”

Wireless companies, Internet trade groups and telecommunications experts are reportedly among those who are happy about the proposal. On the other side of the equation are TV broadcasters -- most of them want to keep their airwaves, and they have disputed the notion that a spectrum shortage is impending.

“Industry lobbyists note that broadcasters gave up significant amounts of airwaves several years ago in the conversion of television signals to digital from analog format,” the report notes. “That spectrum was auctioned in 2008, with no compensation to broadcasters, and industry officials grumble that many of the buyers of those airwaves have not used them yet.”

more »

NBC's Sunday Night Football Takes a Bite Out of Season Premieres on ABC, Fox and CBS

NBC’s broadcast Sunday night of a big NFL showdown between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles gave the Peacock Network an easy ratings win, according to Nielsen overnight figures. It also poured cold water on a night of season premieres for the other big four networks.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the football game dominated prime time with an 8.1 average rating in the key 18-49 demo. Fox benefited from football too, with its NFL overrun delivering a 7.8 in the demo and inflating the network’s overall numbers for prime time. The report notes that figures will be subject to more than the usual adjustments due to the live telecasts.

Based on the overnights, NBC won prime time with a 6.4 average rating in 18-49, followed by Fox (4.6 average), ABC (2.7) and CBS (2.1). In total viewers it was again NBC on top (16.6 million), followed by Fox (11.0 million), CBS (10.5 million) and ABC (8.4 million).

The best of the season premieres was ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” with a 3.8 in the 18-49 demo, with Fox’s “The Simpsons” just a notch below with a 3.7. Fox also had a good number for “Family Guy,” a 3.3. Fox’s “Bob’s Burgers” and “American Dad” each settled for 2.5 averages.

ABC’s “Revenge” premiered to a solid 3.2 average rating in viewers 18-49, while the network’s new show “666 Park Avenue” opened to a 2.2 in the 10 p.m. slot.

The network that struggled the most was CBS, with its season premiere of “The Amazing Race” delivering the network’s best demo number of the night, a 2.5 average in 18-49. CBS’s “The Mentalist” premiered to a 2.1, while “The Good Wife” settled for a 1.8 for its season premiere. “60 Minutes” managed only a 1.8 -- down 22% from its season premiere a year ago.

more »

'Honey Boo Boo' Family Gets Unsolicited Raise From TLC

The family featured in "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" received an unsolicited raise from TLC after the show scored well in the ratings, reports TMZ.com.

The family had received between $5,000 and $7,000 an episode for the series, but TLC has bumped it to between $15,000 and $20,000, according to the report. Network executives told the family about the bump after the show's second episode, the story notes.

TLC has also offered to pay for some expenses, such as a driver/bodyguard for the family's father, who was recently hurt in an ATV accident, the piece adds.

more »

Actor Known for 'Babylon 5' Dead at 60

A veteran TV actor best known for his role on the science-fiction series "Babylon 5" has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Michael O'Hare, who portrayed Commander Jeffrey Sinclair on the first season of the series, died Friday at 60.

O'Hare had suffered a heart attack five days earlier, the story notes.

The actor left the show after its first season in what the report calls a cryptic exit, although the show's creator said the separation was "mutual, amicable and friendly," the story notes. O'Hare returned for a few episodes in the show’s second and third seasons, helping to wrap up his character's story, the piece adds.

"Babylon 5" aired for four seasons on Prime Time Entertainment Network and for a final season on TNT, spanning 1994-1998.

O'Hare also appeared on TV shows including “Law & Order,” "Kate & Allie" and the soap opera "One Life to Live."

michael-ohare.jpgMichael O’Hare

more »

Roger Ebert Says This Is Something Every Movie Lover Must Do Once During His or Her Lifetime. Please, Listen to What Roger Says. This Thursday May Be Your Last Chance to Do This

When Roger Ebert implores movie lovers to do something, TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross does it. And he thinks you should too. This Thursday may be your last chance for us to listen to what Roger says -- please click here to find out what Ebert and Ross are talking about.

more »

'Star Trek' Veteran Returns to NBC

One of the regulars from the original “Star Trek” series is returning to the network that aired the series, EW.com’s Inside TV reports. Joining the new NBC sitcom "The New Normal" is George Takei, who played Sulu on NBC’s “Star Trek” in the 1960s.

Takei, an active proponent of gay rights, will play himself on the show. “The New Normal” tracks a male gay couple as they have a baby via a surrogate.

The series has also added Nicole Richie, who will also play herself. "The New Normal" delivered 5.2 million viewers last week.

Takei also appeared as Sulu in a series of “Star Trek” feature films.

George-Takei.jpgGeorge Takei

more »

Hip-Hop Awards Ceremony Suspended After Fight Breaks Out Between Two Artists

The BET Hip-Hop Awards were suspended during Saturday's taping of the event after a fight broke out between Def Jam artists Rick Ross and Young Jeezy, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The Atlanta Police Department said no arrests were made and no shots were fired, contradicting reports on Twitter, the story notes. BET blamed the incident on the "misjudgment of select attendees."

The men's entourages reportedly engaged in an exchange of words that escalated to pushing and shoving, the story notes. The confrontation apparently started backstage before spilling into the parking lot.

Ross and Jeezy, former collaborators, reportedly have been feuding for a few years.

Rapper Machine Gun Kelly tweeted that he was maced during the incident.

The show was put on hold at the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center, which was locked down, the story adds. The awards show is set to air Oct. 9.

more »

Lindsay Lohan Accuses Congressional Staffer of Choking Her

Actress Lindsay Lohan is living up to her reputation as a magnet for trouble. In just the past month or so, she has been arrested for allegedly leaving the scene of an auto accident, named as a suspect in the theft of valuables from a Hollywood Hills home, banned from the Chateau Marmont Hotel on L.A.’s Sunset Strip and hospitalized for stress-related lung problems.

Many of those problems have since been cleared up, but the actress was involved in yet another incident over the weekend. U.S. News & World Report says Lohan got into a scuffle Sunday with a man at a New York hotel and has accused the man -- congressional staffer Christian LaBella -- of choking her.

Police initially charged LaBella with misdemeanor assault in connection with the incident at the W Hotel Union Square in Manhattan, but that charge was quickly dropped, the story reports, because Lohan declined medical attention and did not appear to be seriously injured.

LaBella, 25, reportedly works for Illinois Republican Rep. John Shimkus.

The incident involved LaBella’s cellphone, which he was reportedly using to take photos of Lohan. “Police say Lohan took Christian LaBella's cell phone so she could delete dozens of pictures and videos of her partying -- and she claims he got physical with her trying to get it back,” the story reports.

LaBella, who met Lohan while she was partying that night at trendy clubs Double Seven and 1Oak, had apparently been emailing the photos to friends. After he wound up at Lohan’s hotel room along with other friends, Lohan reportedly became upset when she found the photos on his phone.

“LaBella demanded she return the phone, but Lohan balked -- and told cops he threw her down on the bed and scratched her. At one point, the troubled actress locked herself in a bathroom. She finally ran out of the 15th-floor suite -- where rooms top $500 a night -- and scurried down several flights of stairs,” the story reports. Lohan was accompanied by celebrity booker Claus Hjelmbak.

On the way back up the stairs, Lohan and Hjelmbak again encountered LaBella, according to the report.

“She claimed that he choked her from behind and threw her to the floor before Hjelmbak yanked him away, cops said. Lohan pulled the fire alarm for help as he fled, police said,” according to the story. “Cops who responded spoke to Lohan and began looking for LaBella, who was trapped in the stairwell because the alarm had disabled the elevators.”

Lohan and LaBella have reportedly filed harassment complaints against each other.

The report adds: “Lohan's spokesman Steve Honig said it was ‘very distressing and outrageous’ that assault charges against LaBella were dropped. ‘Lindsay was clearly assaulted, and I think there needs to be a consequence for that,’ Honig said.”

more »

TLC Orders Show From Member of '90s Girl Group

TLC has ordered a reality show featuring a member of a well-known 1990s girl group, reports TMZ.com. The show, “Totally T-Boz,” features Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, a member of the R&B, hip-hop and soul group TLC.

The network has ordered four episodes of the show, which will air in 2013. The show will track Watkins as she seeks to restart her music career after recovering from a brain tumor. The tumor was diagnosed in 2006 and led to her needing to relearn how to walk and talk after it was removed, the piece adds.

TLC also included rapper Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, who died in 2002, and singer Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas. The group, which continues to tour and record, is known for chart-topping singles including “Waterfalls” and “Creep,” both from the 1994 album “CrazySexyCool.”

Tionne-T-Boz-Watkins.jpgTionne “T-Boz” Watkins

more »

Legendary Auto Racing Announcer for ABC, CBS and ESPN -- Known as 'The Dean of American Motorsports' -- Dead at 91

A legendary motorsports journalist who called auto racing events for ABC, CBS and ESPN over four decades has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Chris Economaki, who earned the nickname “the Dean of American Motorsports,” was 91.

Economaki was recommended by NASCAR founder Bill France in 1961 to announce the Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway for ABC, marking the network's first broadcast of a motorsport, the story notes. After that, he broadcast races for ABC and its "Wide World of Sports" through 1983. He then jumped to CBS, where he worked through the mid-1990s, the piece adds.

In 1987 and 1988, he broadcast Formula One telecasts for ESPN. He was the longtime editor of National Speed Sport News, writing his “Editor’s Notebook” column for more than 50 years. Under his leadership the weekly paper became known as the most authoritative publication on U.S. motorsports.

In 2006, the news conference room at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was named after Economaki, the piece notes.

Economaki appeared as himself in the racing movies "Six Pack" (1982) and "Stroker Ace" (1983).

Chris-Economaki.jpgChris Economaki

more »

Is an Online Viewer as Valuable as a TV Viewer? Nielsen Wants to Change the Answer to That Question

Nielsen is introducing a new measurement service today that it hopes will be a game changer. Advertising Age reports that the company’s Cross-Platform Campaign Ratings will measure the number of viewers who saw a campaign on TV, the number who viewed it digitally and the overlap between the two categories.

The initiative, which builds on Nielsen’s Online Campaign Ratings, will make it easier to measure a campaign’s total reach and frequency across platforms, the story reports. That capability could open the door for big changes in the way media business is conducted -- including enabling networks to use digital views as TV make-goods, and vice versa.

Click here to read Ad Age’s examination of how the new metric will impact the ad marketplace.

more »

Director of 'Kony 2012' to Break Silence in TV Interview About Naked Meltdown

The director of "Kony 2012" -- one of the most successful viral videos of all time -- has scheduled a TV interview to talk for the first time about his breakdown in March that led to an embarrassing public incident, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

In that widely reported incident, sometimes described as a “naked meltdown,” Jason Russell appeared naked on a sidewalk and allegedly masturbated in public. He will discuss it in an interview on "Oprah's Next Chapter," the story reports.

Russell was arrested March 15 in San Diego, and has kept silent since then, the story notes. His family said that his breakdown wasn't related to drugs or alcohol, but instead was due to the sudden fame he experienced after "Kony 2012" became a media phenomenon.

Russell's interview will air Oct. 7 on OWN.

more »

'Bonnie & Clyde' Miniseries in Talks With Former Disney Channel Star to Play Bonnie

The Lifetime/History miniseries project "Bonnie & Clyde" is talking with a former Disney Channel star about portraying Bonnie Parker, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Directors of the project, produced by Neil Meron and Craig Zadan of "Smash," are reportedly meeting with Miley Cyrus about the role, the story says.

The project is part of A&E Networks President of Entertainment and Media Nancy Dubuc's effort to air established titles featuring well-known actors, such as Kevin Costner's Emmy-winning role in "Hatfields & McCoys," the piece notes. That miniseries was a ratings blockbuster for History.

more »

Report: Simon Cowell Creating Tech Genius Show With Will.i.am

"The X Factor" creator Simon Cowell is working with musician Will.i.am on a show that will search for the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, reports the U.K. publication The Sun.

Will.i.am called the project "X Factor for Tech." The two media moguls worked out the idea during a dinner in Los Angeles last month, the story notes.

"Singing and performance create a couple of jobs. But this will create lots," Will.i.am said, according to the report. He revealed the collaboration while speaking at a London technology conference, the piece adds.

more »

TNT Orders Another Season of Dramedy

TNT has ordered a third season of a dramedy series that has been performing well for the cable network. EW.com’s Inside TV reports that the channel ordered more “Franklin & Bash."

The legal show from Emmy winner Kevin Falls returned for its second season this summer, and has featured guest stars including Cybill Shepherd and Seth Green. The season ended Aug. 14.

The series stars Breckin Meyer and Mark-Paul Gosselaar.

more »


TVBizwire | October 31, 2012

NBC Takes the Wraps Off Its New-Look Thursday Night Comedy Lineup

TVBizwire | October 31, 2012

'Late Show' Exec Producer on the Letterman Hurricane Episode That Almost Didn't Happen

TVBizwire | October 31, 2012

Close Call for CBS News Crew Covering Hurricane

TVBizwire | October 31, 2012

Oliver Stone: Hurricane Sandy Is 'Punishment' -- and It's Political

TVBizwire | October 31, 2012

'Jersey Shore' Hometown Suffers Hard Hit From Superstorm

TVBizwire | October 31, 2012

Report: 'The Voice' Judge CeeLo Green Target of Sexual Battery Investigation

TVBizwire | October 31, 2012

Why Current TV, Which Is Up for Sale, May Have a Hard Time Luring Bids

TVBizwire | October 31, 2012

ABC Buys Comedy from 'Friends' Producer

TVBizwire | October 31, 2012

Authorities Back Gene Hackman in Altercation With Homeless Man

TVBizwire | October 31, 2012

NBC Yanks Canceled Sitcom Earlier Than Planned

TVBizwire | October 30, 2012

May the Force Be With You: Disney Acquiring Lucasfilm, Including 'Star Wars' Franchise, for $4 Billion; Read Entire Press Release

TVBizwire | October 30, 2012

Ousted Disney Chief Resurfaces With New CEO Position

TVBizwire | October 30, 2012

CNN Caught in Storm-Related Twitter Gaffe

TVBizwire | October 30, 2012

Apple Shakes Up Management Team, Dumps Exec Who Flubbed the Maps App

TVBizwire | October 30, 2012

'Queen Latifah Show' a Go for 2013 After Key Station Group Signs On

TVBizwire | October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Wreaks Havoc on Monday Night Ratings

TVBizwire | October 30, 2012

ABC Closing In on NBC in Evening News Ratings

TVBizwire | October 30, 2012

Russell Brand Sued for Allegedly Hitting Pedestrian

TVBizwire | October 30, 2012

ABC Gives Full-Season Orders to Two Series

TVBizwire | October 30, 2012

Paul McCartney Says Yoko Ono Didn't Break Up the Beatles