December 2012

Pepsi Supersizes Plans for Super Bowl Halftime Show

Pumping up the volume on the Super Bowl XLVII halftime show, set to air Feb. 3 on CBS from the New Orleans Superdome, Pepsi announced plans today for a contest that will give 100 fans the opportunity to join Beyonce's onstage performance, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The contest, which officially launches Saturday, will invite fans to submit images of themselves in various poses, which will be used in a television commercial for Beyonce's performance. Fifty people, and a designated friend they each bring with them, will then be chosen to join Beyonce onstage.

Pepsi's contest wraps up Jan. 19, but images have to be in by Jan. 11 for those hoping to join the halftime show.

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How Chris Matthews Is Filling the Void Left by Olbermann at MSNBC -- and Why Matthews Chose to Stick With TV Rather Than Run for Senate

MSNBC President Phil Griffin has dubbed Chris Matthews, host of "Hardball," as "the model figure" for the network and also revealed that Matthews contemplated a run for the U.S. Senate four years ago, reports TVNewser.

Griffin was interviewed by the AP's David Bauder and speculated that Matthews would have been "one of the stars of the Democratic Party" by running and winning in 2008. Matthews, however, chose not to enter politics as a candidate.

Matthews told the AP, "I never want to do what everybody else is doing. I don't want to be part of the chorus."

Bauder writes of Matthews' current stature with MSNBC, "Matthews symbolized MSNBC’s growing comfort in being a liberal alternative to Fox News Channel. With Keith Olbermann out of sight, Matthews essentially replaced him as the commentator that most annoyed conservative viewers."

Griffin adds, "[Matthews] is at a place in his life where he's really comfortable in his own skin. He's a statesman."

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Chris Matthews

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Letterman's 'Back-Handed Compliment' to Jay Leno

David Letterman gives his longtime rival Jay Leno what Deadline.com writer Nellie Andreeva describes as a “back-handed compliment” in his upcoming interview with Oprah Winfrey for her show “Oprah’s Next Chapter.” The program is set to air Jan. 6 on OWN.

In a promo clip released for the program, Letterman says of Leno: “He’s an unusual fellow. I’ve never met anyone quite like Jay. And I will say, and I’m happy to say, that I think he is the funniest guy I’ve ever known. Just flat out, if you go to see him do his nightclub act, just the funniest, the smartest, a wonderful observationist and very appealing as a comic. Therefore, the fact that he is also maybe the most insecure person I have ever known -- I could never reconcile that.”

Andreeva adds: “Letterman’s statement on Leno was actually in response to Winfrey’s question when the duo’s rivalry began (not when Leno got the ‘Tonight Show’ gig, according to Letterman), so we’ll presumably find that out.” She adds that the interview “comes on the heels of fellow late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel bashing Leno.”

Check out the clip:

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Showtime Goes Big With Free Preview Weekend -- Mark Your Calendar

Showtime has announced plans for its biggest free preview weekend ever, sending out its programming lineup to more than 80 million U.S. homes during the weekend of Jan. 11-13, 2013, Multichannel News reports.

“The network currently attracts 22 million subscribers and will be available to 58 million more, for one weekend only,” the story reports. “Viewers across the country will have the opportunity to sample the premium network's programming on Showtime, Showtime HD, Showtime On Demand and Showtime Anytime. The Free Preview weekend will include the series premieres of the critically acclaimed series ‘Shameless,’ ‘House of Lies, and ‘Californication,’ live offerings from Showtime Sports including ‘ShoBox: The New Generation’ and ‘Strikeforce,’ and the television premieres of the blockbuster hit ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part I’ and ‘The Iron Lady,’ starring Meryl Streep.”

Additionally, the free preview weekend will allow viewers to have access to every season of original series "Dexter," "Homeland," "Nurse Jackie" and "Weeds," via Showtime On Demand and Showtime Anytime.

“The premium network also will air a number of feature films and documentaries throughout the weekend,” the report adds, “including ‘My Week with Marilyn,’ ‘The Help,’ ‘War Horse,’ ‘Source Code,’ ‘A Better Life,’ ‘Our Idiot Brother,’ ‘Real Steel,’ ‘Scream 4,’ ‘Fright Night,’ ‘The Twilight Saga: Eclipse’ and ‘50/50.’ The Free Preview Weekend will be offered by nearly 50 distributors nationwide including AT&T U-verse, Cable One, Comcast, Cox, DirecTV, Dish Network, Mediacom, Suddenlink Communications, Time Warner Cable and Verizon FiOS.”

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'Yellow Submarine' Remake Torpedoed

Oscar-winning director Robert Zemeckis' plan to remake the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine" has fallen apart, reports New York Magazine. Disney was behind the project but is no longer on board -- perhaps in part because the director's enthusiasm for the project appears to have waned.

Zemeckis, who is riding high with the success of the Denzel Washington drama "Flight," said recently of "Yellow Submarine”: “That would have been a great one to bring the Beatles back to life. But it’s probably better not to be remade -- you’re always behind the eight-ball when do you a remake."

The filmmaker then veered into talking about "the state of the industry" and how difficult it is to stay enthused about moviemaking, the piece notes.

"Yellow Submarine" was originally filmed in 1968 as an animated musical, using the music of the Beatles. However, their cartoon characters were voiced by other actors, not the Fab Four.

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TVWeek Holiday Schedule

TVWeek will not formally publish on Monday and Tuesday next week, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.

We WILL publish Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of next week (Jan. 2, 3 and 4), resuming regular publication.

From our family to yours, we wish you a safe and happy New Year's weekend and a great 2013.

As always, if major news breaks, we'll let you know through one of our TVWeek Extra alerts.

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Not Much Movement Atop the List of Most-Forged Autographs, but One High-Flying Newcomer Has Landed on the List

Entertainment icons the Beatles and Elvis Presley appear near the top of many lists of accomplishments for their musical legacies, but they are also at the top of the most-forged autographs list, reports Reuters.com.

Memorabilia authenticator PSA/DNA announced Thursday that on the 2012 list of most-forged celebrity signatures, Elvis Presley and the members of the Beatles -- John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr -- remained at the top of the list. When the list was last released two years ago, they were also leading the pack.

Others on the list include Michael Jackson and former U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

Joining the list in 2012 was recently deceased astronaut Neil Armstrong. According to Joe Orlando, president of PSA/DNA, "Armstrong is someone who [was] very conscious of the value of his own autograph. Even before he passed away he was very tough to get. ... It really heightens the level of his market."

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Neil Armstrong

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Jeff Zucker Considering Poaching '20/20' Anchor for Key CNN Role

As incoming CNN chief Jeff Zucker prepares for his new role in turning around the cable news channel, he's eyeing some ABC talent, including "20/20" co-anchor Chris Cuomo, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

Zucker is searching for an anchor who will become CNN's centerpiece, the story notes. Cuomo is also ABC's chief law-and-justice correspondent and is the brother of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Zucker has already snagged the services of senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper from ABC, as previously reported.

Chris Cuomo co-hosts “20/20” with Elizabeth Vargas.

Also reportedly in Zucker’s sights is NBC’s Ann Curry, whose high-profile ouster from “Today” made negative headlines for NBC during 2012. NBC has noted that Curry remains under contract with the network.

One move Zucker is reportedly considering for CNN is moving Erin Burnett to mornings to go head-to-head with “Today and ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

One source commented for the story, “Jeff should be careful how many people he tells will be the face of the network.”

Representatives for CNN and ABC declined to comment.

 

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He Was One of Those Familiar Faces on TV and in the Movies Whom Most People Never Knew by Name -- Character Actor Cliff Osmond Dead at 75

Character actor Cliff Osmond, who appeared in many films and TV shows and who estimated that he taught more than 10,000 actors, has died, reports The New York Times. Osmond, 75, died Dec. 22 of pancreatic cancer.

Osmond appeared in films including four Billy Wilder comedies, playing the private investigator Purkey in "The Fortune Cookie" (1966), which was the first movie to star Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau together, the story notes.

He appeared on TV more than 100 times, acting in shows including "Gunsmoke" and a 1962 "Twilight Zone" episode called "The Gift."

Osmond had a career as an acting teacher, with his students including Armand Assante and Carlos Alazraqui, the story notes.

He also appeared in Wilder’s films “Irma La Douce” (1963), “Kiss Me, Stupid” (1964) and “The Front Page” (1974). His other TV credits included “All in the Family,” “The Bob Newhart Show” and “Kojak.”

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Cliff Osmond

 

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Petition Demands Arrest of David Gregory, Host of NBC's 'Meet the Press'

A petition urging the arrest of NBC News host David Gregory has been picking up signatures, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which reports that 11,000 people had signed it as of Thursday.

Gregory is under investigation by Washington, D.C., police for displaying a high-capacity gun magazine during an interview on Sunday's "Meet the Press," as previously reported.

The petition, which is posted on the White House's We the People site, says, "David Gregory is not above the law; he is a journalist, and must be held accountable to the same law as every other person.” It adds, "We the People demand that he be formally charged for violation of this law on 'Meet The Press.'"

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David Gregory

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NBC Station Expresses Regret for 'Chicago Fire' Episode

An NBC station in Rochester, N.Y., said it regretted airing an episode of "Chicago Fire" that bore resemblances to a real-life Christmas Eve shooting in a nearby town, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

Some viewers criticized NBC for airing the rerun because it depicted two firefighters who are pinned down by gunfire while aiding a victim of a gang shooting, the story says. Two firefighters were killed in Webster, N.Y., on Monday after a man set a fire, creating a trap, the piece notes.

The station, WHEC-TV, apparently heard from some viewers directly, according to the article.

"Last night, NBC, our network, ran an episode of ‘Chicago Fire’ that many in our community felt was insensitive in light of the Christmas Eve tragedy," said the station's general manager, Derek Dalton, in a statement. "We understand and regret the timing of this episode. By no means did we, or NBC, intend any disrespect to the families or our community affected by the recent events in Webster."

An NBC representative declined to comment.

 

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Report: 29 out of This Fall's Top 30 Programs Were NFL Games -- What Was the Only Non-Sports Program to Make the List?

The National Football League said that its games accounted for 29 out of the top 30 most-watched TV shows this fall, reports B&C.

The only non-sports program on the list was the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which drew 22.4 million viewers and ranked as No. 21 on the list. The most-watched program was the Thanksgiving Day game between the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys, which drew 28.7 million viewers.

Those two teams play again this Sunday with a division title and a trip to the playoffs on the line, the piece notes, in the season finale of NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”

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DirecTV Subscribers to Be Hit with Price Hike in 2013

DirecTV subscribers will get hit with a price hike in 2013, B&C reports. Citing rising costs of programming, the company said it will hit customers with an average increase of 4.5%, according to the report.

The new prices will go into effect Feb. 7. The company sent a message to customers from senior vice president of customer service Ellen Filipiak, who wrote, "Almost all programmers who provide channels to the DirecTV platform are increasing their rates at a level we've never seen before."

The company said the fees it pays broadcasters and cable networks will go up by about 8% in 2013, according to the report.

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TV Industry Learned a Lot in 2012, Including Lessons About Zombies and DVRs

The television industry is wrapping up 2012 after learning some lessons about how audiences' tastes are changing, reports Brian Steinberg in Advertising Age.

"If 2012 taught us anything about TV, it was that anyone who still thinks this technology should be centered around a family watching in the living room at a preordained moment is stuck in a time warp," Steinberg writes.

Among the biggest lessons learned this year are that zombies are a threat to television networks, with the success of AMC's "The Walking Dead" drawing premium ad pricing and challenging broadcast hits such as "The Big Bang Theory."

"If cable can develop a few more shows that prove appealing to the fickle young men that broadcast works so hard to reach, marketers may move more of their money in its direction," Steinberg notes.

Another lesson was that DVRs are falling out of favor with viewers as cable and satellite companies boost their VOD demands, according to the report. The popularity of Netflix and Amazon's streaming service is allowing consumers to get "nearly anything they want (at least in the realm of video) at their beck and call."

Another lesson the industry may take away from 2012 is that the country might be getting tired of singing and dancing competitions, Steinberg notes.

"[I]t seems implausible that the 2013 TV audience is going to arrive in the droves necessary to fully support a cycle of 'Idol,' two cycles of 'The Voice,' another season of 'Dancing with the Stars' and a third outing of Fox's 'X Factor,'" Steinberg writes. He adds, "Maybe the networks could cull one of these shows and put on a clever comedy that looks a lot like ABC's 'Modern Family' but not too much like it, if you know what we mean."

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'Downton Abbey' Star Explains His Decision to Leave

Dan Stevens, one of the stars of the British historical drama "Downton Abbey," tells the U.K.'s Telegraph newspaper that he had decided to leave the show before the third season started taping because he wanted to pursue other work.

"We were always optioned for three years,” he said. “And when that came up it was a very difficult decision. But it felt like a good time to take stock, to take a moment. From a personal point of view, I wanted a chance to do other things."

He added, "It is a very monopolizing job. So there is a strange sense of liberation at the same time as great sadness because I am very, very fond of the show and always will be."

Stevens couldn't say what future work he will do, although he noted, "There are some exciting opportunities." He hinted he will consider film, noting, "I haven’t done as many films as I would have liked."

Stevens is currently on Broadway in “The Heiress” and has been linked to DreamWorks’ upcoming Wikileaks movie.

His departure from “Downton Abbey” was confirmed earlier this week, as reported previously. Stevens will be off the show starting with season four.

Season three has completed its run in the U.K. and begins airing on PBS in the U.S. Jan. 6.

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With Spinoff Looming, Starz Faces Questions About Its Future

Pay-television channel Starz will become a standalone company early next year, when its parent company, Liberty Media, spins it off. But the channel faces some uncertainty and questions about its future, reports the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog.

"Its track record producing original shows has been mixed. The market is getting increasingly crowded not only from Starz's traditional competitors, HBO and Showtime, but also from new rivals including Netflix, Amazon and Redbox. And, starting in 2017, the network will lose one of its key suppliers of movies -- Walt Disney Studios -- to Netflix," the story notes.

The piece adds, "The shift also raises the stakes for Starz and its chief executive, Chris Albrecht, who has been given the task of building an original programming pipeline." While at HBO, Albrecht helped nurture hits such as "The Sopranos."

"Achieving those heights again, this time at Starz, has proved more elusive," the article points out.

Starz executives declined to comment, noting the "quiet period" mandated by regulators before selling shares to the public, the piece adds.

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'Grey's Anatomy' Star Trying to Rescue Troubled Coffee Company

"Grey's Anatomy" star Patrick Dempsey has made a bid to buy a Seattle-based coffee company that filed for bankruptcy protection in October, reports the Associated Press.

Dempsey said he wants to rescue the coffee-house chain Tully’s Coffee and save more than 500 jobs. The actor's role in "Grey's Anatomy" gives him a tie to Seattle, since his character, Dr. Derek Shepherd, works at the fictional Seattle Grace Hospital, the story notes.

A sale would have to be approved by a judge, and a bankruptcy court hearing is set for Jan. 11, the piece notes.

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'Mockingbird Lane,' NBC's Remake of 'The Munsters,' Is Officially Dead

"Mockingbird Lane," NBC’s dramatic remake of the classic TV comedy "The Munsters," is officially dead, reports Deadline.com.

Bryan Fuller, creator and executive producer, wrote on Twitter, "NBC not moving forward with #MockingbirdLane. From producers and cast, thank you all for enthusiasm and support.”

The show was first developed during the 2010-11 development cycle, and was one of the few projects Bob Greenblatt kept when he took over at NBC in early 2011, the story notes.

"The pilot was lauded for its visual style but NBC brass felt the high-concept premise -- a show about a family of ‘monsters’ -- didn’t quite work,' the piece reports.

NBC unofficially passed on the pilot in September, but aired it as a Halloween special, partly to offset its cost, which was said to be near $10 million. Based on its 5.4 million total viewers, some fans had hoped NBC would still pick it up to series.

 

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Fontella Bass, Singer of 'Rescue Me,' Dies at 72

Fontella Bass, the singer who topped the R&B charts with "Rescue Me" in 1965, has died, reports the Associated Press. She was 72.

"Bass had a few other modest hits but by her own accounts developed a reputation as a troublemaker because she demanded more artistic control, and more money for her songs," the story notes.

She sued American Express over the use of "Rescue Me" in a commercial, settling in 1993 for an undisclosed sum, according to the story.

The song has been covered by other top artists, including Cher and Pat Benatar. Aretha Franklin sang a cover of it, which was called "Deliver Me" and was used in a 1991 Pizza Hut television ad, the story notes.

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Fontella Bass

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One and Done for 'Boring Britney'? Singer Reportedly Headed Out the Door at 'X Factor'

Britney Spears’ stay on Fox’s “The X Factor” appears destined to be a short one, according to a new report by Us Weekly. The magazine reports that Spears is on the way out of the singing competition.

The show wrapped up season two on Dec. 20, and an insider told the publication, "Britney will get the boot." The source adds: "Producers wanted her for the long haul, but it isn't working."

Spears joined the show in May, along with Demi Lovato. Said another source, Spears has been too low-energy, and hasn’t proved to be worth her $15 million contract. Said the source: "They paid all that for her to say 'amazing' and offer half-claps.”

The report notes: “Adds a third source [talking about] show co-creator Simon Cowell, who is leading the charge to axe the performer: ‘He wanted crazy Britney, but he got boring Britney.’"

The show has been a revolving door for its judges and mentors during its two seasons, with those coming and going including Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger and Cheryl Cole. Earlier this month, L.A. Reid also announced his plans to exit the show.

“Spears is likely next on the chopping block, but Cowell, 53, hasn't always had it out for her,” the piece notes. “During a conference call in October, he told reporters that she had been ‘a lot better than everybody thought ... She's very engaged ... She has been, I think, a very, very good judge.’"

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Britney Spears

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ABC, ESPN Celebrate Christmas With Record Numbers for NBA Action

ABC Sports and ESPN had a big turnout for their combined five NBA games on Christmas Day, the networks announced. ABC’s Knicks-Lakers game at 3 p.m. delivered a 5.9 overnight rating, the best-ever number for the network for the early window of a Christmas Day doubleheader, based on overnight numbers.

ESPN had its highest-rated tripleheader ever, with a 2.1 average, improving 17% on the 1.8 for the coverage in 2010. The 2011 schedule was impacted by a labor situation, with the NBA season tipping off on Christmas Day.

The Knicks-Lakers game was up 11% from the Celtics-Magic game in 2010, which delivered a 5.3 in the same window.

ABC’s Thunder-Heat game delivered a 6.0, making it the fourth-highest-rated NBA regular season game ever on the network.

ESPN’s Nuggets-Clippers game scored a 2.0, up 54% from the Trail Blazers-Warriors in 2010, and the second-highest-rated Christmas Day prime-time game ever on ESPN.

ESPN’s Rockets-Bulls game had a 1.7 average, up 21% from the Nuggets-Thunder game in 2010, while the Celtics-Nets generated a 2.7, equaling the Bulls-Knicks game in 2010.

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Video: Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart Nail 'Stairway to Heaven' as Led Zeppelin Members Well Up at the Kennedy Center Honors

CBS aired the Kennedy Center Honors last night, with David Letterman, Dustin Hoffman and Led Zeppelin among the honorees, along with ballerina Natalia Makarova and blues guitarist Buddy Guy.

One of the highlights: A high-powered “Stairway to Heaven” -- with Led Zepsters Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones looking on proudly ... and in some cases, tearfully.

Here you go:

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Imitation Gordon Ramsay a Hit on Spanish TV -- Host 'Cusses Like an Ernest Hemingway Character and Has the Dinner Manners of a Goatherd'

Nasty celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, host of Fox's "Kitchen Nightmares," "MasterChef" and "Hell's Kitchen," has spawned a Spanish television imitator named Alberto Chicote, reports the New York Post.

Chicote hosts "Pesadilla en al Cocina," a variation on "Kitchen Nightmares," which has been a hit on La Sexta TV in Spain, the piece says, citing a Variety report.

Variety reports, "[Chicote] cusses like an Ernest Hemingway character and has the dinner manners of a goatherd."

Like "Kitchen Nightmares," "Pesadilla" has its host visiting ailing restaurants to fix the mistakes. In the course of the episode, the chef blusters and curses, just like Ramsay -- who’s noted for dropping the F-bomb on his shows.

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After Delivering Must-Have Gizmos Like the iPhone and iPod, What's Apple's Next Big Thing? (Hint: It's Not Apple TV)

Following in the footsteps of the iPhone, iPod and iPad, Apple's next big must-have gadget may be something called the iWatch, reports TheWrap.com.

Citing a report from Business Insider, the piece reports that Apple has joined forces with Intel to develop an iOS watch.

“The Chinese tech blog Tech165.com reported that the device would be Bluetooth-enabled with a 1.5-inch OLED screen,” TheWrap reports. “The smartwatch would launch sometime in the first six months of next year.”

Writing in Business Insider, Nicholas Carlson notes: "Obviously, we should all read mysterious reports out of Asia with caution.”

TheWrap adds: “MINIMAL, a gadget company, already created a band to convert Apple's iPod Nano into a watch.”

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Report: Matt Lauer Is Upset That Passers-by Are Screaming at Him

Matt Lauer is reportedly "freaked out" by the reactions of passers-by outside the set of NBC’s “Today” show in Manhattan, who are calling him names and blaming him for the ouster of Ann Curry as his co-host on "Today," reports TMZ.com.

According to the report, people are screaming things at him such as, "You're a bad guy," and "You got Ann fired. Does that make you happy?" Lauer is said to be "miserable" over what he believes are hateful and unfair remarks, and the harassment is described as constant.

“Matt is telling people at NBC there have also been lots of sarcastic comments about his $25 million salary,” the report adds. “He feels ‘abused,’ insisting Ann's firing is not his fault. But, as TMZ first reported, Matt made it clear when he re-signed -- he didn't want Ann in the picture.”

A source at NBC is quoted as saying: "It's driving him crazy. He's so unhappy."

However, Lauer’s future on “Today” appears to be secure. “Aside from the fact that he has a contract, our network sources say NBC honchos are stuck,” TMZ reports. “They have no one who can step in and stop the bleeding. As for Willie Geist, the new 9 a.m. ‘Today’ host, one very connected source says the sentiment is, ‘He's not ready. He's not there yet.’"

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Time Warner Cable Playing Hardball, Telling Small Networks to Provide Programming Without Payment

Time Warner Cable is telling small networks that they have a choice: Get dropped, or get no fee in return for continued carriage on the cable service, reports the New York Post.

That tactic has been used in negotiations with IFC and WE TV, with their contracts expiring Jan. 1. It's expected talks will continue until the last minute, according to the story.

Programmers often ask for a 10% to 15% increase in per-subscriber fees whenever a contract is renewed, and IFC and WE are probably asking for less than 10 cents a month per customer, the piece notes.

As previously reported, Time Warner Cable has already said it's dropping Ovation as part of its new, stricter position on carriage fees.

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Forbes Magazine Names Hollywood's Most Bankable Star -- and in Case You Missed It, the Most Overpaid Star Too

A new list from Forbes magazine reveals the most bankable stars in Hollywood, and the actress who tops the list -- as Hollywood’s best actor for the buck -- is Natalie Portman.

The success of Portman’s movie “Black Swan,” produced for a mere $13 million and grossing $329 million worldwide, had a lot to do with it.

“Not only did the film help star Natalie Portman win her first Best Actress Oscar, but the fantastic financial return helped land her at the top of our list of Hollywood’s Best Actors For The Buck,” the magazine reports. “We estimate that for every dollar Portman is paid by the studios, she returns $42.70. Compare that to Eddie Murphy, our most overpaid star, who returns $2.30 for every dollar he gets paid.”

Coming in second on the most bankable list was Kristen Stewart. “For every dollar she gets paid Stewart returns an average $40.60,” Forbes reports. “Stewart is in the unusual situation of ranking high on this list and topping our Highest-Earning Actress list. Usually, if an actor is earning more than anyone else in Hollywood, it’s hard for him or her to be considered a bankable investment. That high salary means the films have to do spectacularly to offer profitable returns to the studios.

“Stewart was able to earn a ton over the last three years and offer a healthy return thanks to the ‘Twilight’ franchise. Even though she was paid $25 million to star in the last two films, she was clearly worth the money. The ‘Twilight’ films have grossed $3.3 billion at the global box office and the final film, ‘Breaking Dawn Part 2,’ is still in theaters.”

Stewart’s two “Twilight” co-stars, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, also make the Forbes list. Pattinson comes in 4th with a $31.70 return on each dollar paid, while Lautner ranks 6th with a $29.50 return.

Shia LaBeouf was third at $35.80, with "Harry Potter's" Daniel Radcliffe in fifth place at $30.50.

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NBC Was Told by Police Not to Show Gun Clip on Air

NBC was told by Washington, D.C., police not to show a high-capacity gun magazine on air, according to a statement Wednesday from the police, reports Politico.com.

“NBC contacted [the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department] inquiring if they could utilize a high capacity magazine for their segment,” a police spokeswoman said. "NBC was informed that possession of a high capacity magazine is not permissible and their request was denied. This matter is currently being investigated.”

As previously reported, the D.C. police are investigating an incident in which the high-capacity magazine was shown on "Meet the Press." The D.C. code, in its firearms regulations, stipulates, "No person in the District shall possess, sell, or transfer any large capacity ammunition feeding device," regardless of whether it's attached to a firearm.

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Disney Settles Lawsuit Over Alleged Rear-Slapping Incident on 'Good Luck Charlie'

Disney has settled a lawsuit over claims by a woman who said the warmup staffer for "Good Luck Charlie" slapped her on the rear and kissed her on the mouth in front of her children, reports TMZ.com.

Kellie Rodriguez filed the lawsuit in January, alleging that Ron Pearson repeatedly spanked her during a taping of the Disney Channel's "Good Luck Charlie," the story reports. ABC Cable Networks may have paid between $20,000 and $30,000 to settle the lawsuit, the piece notes.

Pearson is still doing warmup for the show, according to the report.

 

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Judge Throws Out Blackmail Lawsuit by Jennifer Lopez

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has thrown out a $20 million lawsuit filed by former "American Idol" judge Jennifer Lopez that alleged her former driver was trying to blackmail her, reports TheWrap.com.

Lopez had filed suit against her former chauffeur and head of security, Hakob Manoukian, alleging he tried to blackmail her by threatening to release damaging information he had learned during his employment, the story notes.

The suit was a counterclaim made against a complaint filed by Manoukian, in which he claimed he was forced to resign from his position after he was denied "production pay" that he claimed was owed to him. The original suit is still pending, the story adds.

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Netflix Blackout Reveals Challenges of the Cloud

Netflix's blackout on Christmas Eve, which we reported earlier, is an illustration of the challenges of the cloud, with Amazon.com's cloud computing service blamed for the problems, reports The New York Times.

Amazon, which provides computing power and storage for many Web businesses, traced the problem to "elastic load balancing," which spreads heavy traffic across many servers to help avoid overload, the story says. The company provided few details about the problem, the piece adds.

Some customers also complained that Amazon's own streaming service, Amazon Prime, wasn't working, according to the report.

"As more everyday devices, appliances and even automobiles rely on services connected to the Internet, consumers expect those services to be available at all times," the story points out. "Yet all sorts of disruptions -- harsh weather conditions or an apparent overload -- can knock a service out for hours."

Netflix has previously said it has several redundancies built into its cloud-based system, and a spokesman declined to detail why the service went down despite the design. The spokesman said the company is investigating and will do what it can to prevent such a disruption from happening again, according to the piece.

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James Mooney, Former Head of Cable Organization NCTA and a Pioneer in Cable Deregulation, Dead at 69

James Mooney, who served as president and chief executive of what is now the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, has died, reports Multichannel News. He was 69.

Mooney served as president and CEO of NCTA, then called the National Cable Television Association, from 1984 to 1993. In more recent years, he was principal and managing partner of JLM Partners, a corporate communications firm founded by Mooney and his wife, Louise, based in Seattle.

"He was the principal strategist in the efforts that resulted in the congressional enactment of the deregulatory Cable Communications Act of 1984," the piece notes.

NCTA President and CEO Michael Powell issued a statement saying: "The cable community mourns the passing of Jim Mooney, our strong and dedicated leader during an era of extraordinary industry growth when cable helped define American culture. Jim's leadership in Washington aided in enabling development of the modern cable industry.”

The statement adds: “During his tenure, cable saw a dramatic rise in the number of households subscribing to multichannel video as well as the appearance of precursors to many of today's consumer-friendly and highly interactive services and technologies. Forging effective advocacy and business growth, Jim demonstrated a passionate and lifelong commitment to the success of cable and extending its many benefits to consumers.”

Mooney is survived by his wife, Louise Rauscher Mooney, a former executive of NCTA, and his son, James P. Mooney IV.

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James Mooney

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Larry Hagman to Appear on Reality Show Posthumously

Actor Larry Hagman, who died in November, will appear on a CBS reality show posthumously, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Hagman, known for playing J.R. Ewing on “Dallas” and for starring years earlier in “I Dream of Jeannie,” will appear on the special "I Get That a Lot," in which he pretended to be a Costco employee giving free samples of barbecue sauce, the story notes. He taped the segment in September.

The special will air Jan. 9 and also features Cheech Marin pretending to be a clerk at a party store and Bruce Jenner as a high-end shoe salesman, the story adds.

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Larry Hagman

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Former President George H.W. Bush in Intensive Care

Former President George H.W. Bush has been placed in a hospital intensive care unit and is in "guarded condition," reports NBCNews.com.

The former president is battling an elevated fever, the story notes. He has been in the Houston hospital since Nov. 29, when he was treated for complications related to bronchitis. Even though it was thought at the time that he would only be hospitalized for a few days, those expectations were proved wrong, the story says.

Bush, 88, was visited on Christmas by his wife, Barbara, his son Neil, Neil's wife and his grandson, Pierce, the story notes. They brought him Chinese food for Christmas dinner, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Bush is the oldest living president, the Chronicle notes.

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'Office' Episode Planned to Introduce Spiked 'Farm' Spinoff Will Still Air

"The Office" will still air a planted pilot designed to introduce the spinoff called "The Farm," which was passed over by NBC, reports TVLine.com.

The episode was meant to serve as the launch episode for “The Farm” -- a spinoff focused on Rainn Wilson’s character, Dwight Schrute. A tweaked version of the episode will air before the series finale of "The Office" in 2013, the story says.

"We’re not going to air exactly what it was, because it has certain aspects that were appropriate for a pilot of a new show,” said "The Office" producer Greg Daniels. “We’re going to shoot a little additional material to make it fit into the season more.”

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Kate Winslet Secretly Gets Married

Actress Kate Winslet got married in a secret ceremony earlier in December, reports People.com. Winslet married her boyfriend Ned Rocknroll, the piece reports.

The ceremony was so secret that even the bride and groom's parents didn't know about it, the story says. The ceremony was attended by her two children, and a "very few friends and family,” according to her representative. Rocknroll is the nephew of Richard Branson.

Winslet was previously married to Sam Mendes and Jim Threapleton.

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ABC Spurns Canceled Series, Yanks Remaining Episodes Off the Air

ABC has decided to pull the remaining episodes of a canceled drama series off the air as part of a lineup shuffle, Deadline.com reports. "666 Park Avenue,” which was set to air Sunday nights at 10 p.m. ET, is being replaced with leftover episodes of the comedies "Happy Endings" and "Don't Trust the B__ in Apt. 23," the story reports.

For the first three weeks in January, new eps of the sitcoms will be shown, while additional new shows of the series will air in the regular Tuesday time slot of 9-10 p.m. ET.

The unaired episodes of "666 Park Ave." will be burned off during the summer. For January, the Sunday airings of "Happy Endings" and "Apt. 23" will air on Jan. 6, 13 and 20. On Sunday, Jan. 27, ABC is scheduled to show a Hallmark movie.

ABC hasn't announced the plan for Feb. 3, 10 and 17, but if the comedies succeed, "Happy Endings" can continue in that spot because enough episodes have been ordered for the year. ABC has the Academy Awards scheduled for Feb. 24, followed by the premiere of midseason drama "Red Widow" the following Sunday.

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With Actor's 11th-Hour Signing, 'How I Met Your Mother' Comes Back From the Dead

CBS has confirmed that the sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” will be back for a ninth season after the network got actor Jason Segel to agree to one more year on the series, Deadline.com reports.

The fate of the show appeared to be hanging in the balance as late as Friday evening as Segel, who has launched a successful film career away from the series, including 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "The Muppets," had seriously considered leaving the ensemble show.

“Now ‘HIMYM‘s’ 9th season is secure even if the network and the studio and the cast are keeping mum right now,” Nikki Finke wrote late Friday in the Deadline report. “Of course there was drama aplenty culminating today when all the cast deals closed after hard work by agents and managers and lawyers and executives and after an 11th hour turnaround of Jason Segel, who was set on bailing.”

Finke continues: “So here’s what happened: ‘HIMYM’ is in the last year of its current license deal with the network, while the contracts of creators Craig Thomas and Carter Bays and the cast are all up at the end of the season. Understandably, Thomas and Bays had requested a decision to be made by the end of this month because of the overarching mythology of the show, which needs to finally begin building toward that big mother reveal when an end date is set. As the clock kept ticking, activity on all three fronts stepped up between CBS and ‘HIMYM’ producer 20th Century Fox TV as well as between 20th TV and Thomas-Bays and between the studio and reps for the series’ stars: Jason Segel, Josh Radnor, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan.

“It was well-known that Segel was the lone holdout with everyone else wanting to continue. After all, a virtual unknown when the show launched in 2005, he has a prolific film career now and gave the sitcom 8 seasons already. I learned tonight that Segel indeed ‘decided to bail and leave the cast hanging. But he just got turned around today at the last second. The show was literally dead.’”

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A Second Piers Morgan Petition Surfaces, Countering the One Seeking to Have Him Deported -- But Morgan Won't Be Flattered by This One, Either

Suddenly CNN host Piers Morgan is the hottest thing in online petitions. After one petition surfaced that seeks to have him deported from the U.S. back to his native U.K., as previously reported, a second petition is now circulating that seeks to keep him here, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

But the second petition, which had only 309 signatures at the time it was initially reported by THR, isn’t exactly the kind of support Morgan might be pleased about -- it’s from people in the U.K. who say they don’t want him back.

THR reports that the new petition reads: “We want to keep Piers Morgan in the USA. There are two very good reasons for this. Firstly, the first amendment. Second and the more important point. No one in the UK wants him back. Actually there is a third. It will be hilarious to see how loads of angry Americans react.”

The first petition, meanwhile, continues to accumulate signatures, passing the 71,000 mark, THR notes. Petitions gaining at least 300,000 signatures within 30 days on the White House site qualify for an official White House response. The original petition arose in response to Morgan’s stance calling for stricter gun control.

The goal of the new petition is to reach 25,000 signatures.

For his part, Morgan has expressed amusement over the activity, including tweeting on Tuesday: “Merry Christmas! Even to those who want me deported.”

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New Unscripted Show About Baby Mamas

Oxygen has given a green light for production of a new unscripted project about “baby mamas,” Deadline.com reports. The one-hour special comes from former MTV honchos Tony DiSanto and Liz Gateley.

The project has the working title “All My Babies’ Mamas,” and is set to premiere next spring, the piece reports.

“The special chronicles the complicated lives of one man, his children’s mamas, and their army of children, capturing the highs and lows of this extreme ‘blended family’ as they navigate their financially and emotionally connected lives,” the story reports. “’All My Babies’ Mamas,’ which in success will likely serve as a backdoor pilot, will be produced by DiSanto and Gateley’s company DiGa Vision.”

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Gerry Anderson, Whose Children's Puppet Adventure TV Shows Dominated the Genre in the Late 1960s, Dead at 83

If you were into puppet-oriented children’s adventure television shows in the late 1960s, you were familiar with the work of Gerry Anderson. Anderson, who created the science-fiction puppet dramas "Thunderbirds" and “Supercar,” along with a number of other successful shows, has died at the age of 83, reports BBC News.

Anderson, who lived in the U.K., was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and had been treated for the condition since 2010.

Anderson also created the television shows "Stingray" and "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons." He is also well-known for "UFO," "Space: 1999" and "Fireball XL5."

"Thunderbirds" achieved international success after its debut in 1965. The phrase "Thunderbirds are go!" became part of pop culture.

"Thunderbirds are go!":

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Washington Police Investigating 'Meet the Press' Incident

Police in Washington, D.C., are investigating an incident on NBC’s "Meet the Press," during which host David Gregory displayed what he described as a high-capacity ammunition magazine, reports The Washington Post.

Gregory was interviewing National Rifle Association Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre when he held an object in his hand, describing it as a magazine that could hold 30 bullets.

The D.C. code, in its firearms regulations, stipulates, "No person in the District shall possess, sell, or transfer any large capacity ammunition feeding device," regardless of whether it's attached to a firearm, the story says.

Questions about whether the incident violated the code came up online after the TV show aired, the article notes.

 

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More than 65,000 People Sign Petition to Deport Piers Morgan

More than 65,000 people have signed a petition on the White House website to deport CNN host Piers Morgan, who rankled some with his call for a ban on assault rifles, reports the U.K.'s Sky News.

The number of signatures means the Obama administration will respond, the story adds. The petition was posted on the White House website by a Texas journalist following an interview Morgan conducted with Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt.

Pratt suggested some victims in the Sandy Hook school shootings could have been saved if the teachers had been armed. That made Morgan incredulous, with the host asking, "You're an unbelievably stupid man, aren't you?"

Morgan added, "You have absolutely no coherent argument. You don't actually give a damn about the gun murder rate in America."

Morgan made a reference to the petition on Twitter, writing, "Merry Christmas! Even to those who want me deported."

 

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'King of Character Actors' Dead at 89

An Oscar-nominated and Emmy-nominated actor known for a string of roles in feature films and on television has died. The Hollywood Reporter announced that Charles Durning, who earned a reputation as the “king of character actors,” died on Christmas Eve of natural causes in his New York City apartment. He was 89.

Durning was known for his roles in films such as "Tootsie" and “The Sting,” and recently portrayed Denis Leary's father on the FX television series "Rescue Me," receiving an Emmy nomination for the role in 2008.

His other TV roles included the comedy "Evening Shade" -- which earned Emmy nominations for outstanding supporting actor for Durning in 1991 and 1992 -- and a role as a priest on "Everybody Loves Raymond." He was nominated for a total of nine Emmys, going back to 1975 and a nod for outstanding lead actor in a special program for CBS’s “Queen of the Stardust Ballroom.”

Durning’s other Emmy nominations were for “Captains and the Kings” in 1977, “Attica” in 1980, “Death of a Salesman” in 1986 and guest roles on “Homicide: Life on the Street” in 1998 and “NCIS” in 2005.

"Resembling what one might envision as a grizzled cop, Durning excelled in congenial everyman roles and was a familiar character actor, if not household name," THR notes. "With his stocky frame, he played Santa Claus five times in TV movies, often invigorating the 'ho-ho' hum character with a curt edge."

Durning was perhaps best known for his movie work, including portraying Dustin Hoffman's suitor in 1982's “Tootsie,” and earned back-to-back supporting actor Oscar nominations in 1983 and 1984 for "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" and "To Be or Not to Be."

Durning received the Screen Actors Guild's Life Achievement Award in 2008. He was also honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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Charles Durning

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Cable Drama Ranks as 2012's Most Pirated TV Show

A drama that runs on cable ranks as this year's most pirated television show. The New York Times' ArtsBeat, citing data from the website TorrentFreak, reports that the honor goes to the HBO drama "Game of Thrones."

An individual episode of "Game of Thrones" was illegally downloaded about 4.28 million times, although the specific episode wasn't identified, the story notes.

According to TorrentFreak, the reason for "Game of Thrones’" popularity with pirating is because of its airing delays and HBO's decision not to make it widely available online. For instance, fans in Australia must wait one week longer than U.S. viewers to watch the show.

The second-most pirated show, ranked by single-episode downloads, was "Dexter," followed by "The Big Bang Theory" in third place.

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Report: Brian Williams Will Distance Himself From NBC's 'Rock Center'

NBC News anchor Brian Williams plans to start distancing himself from the prime-time newsmagazine "Rock Center with Brian Williams," which has failed to perform well with viewers, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

Williams may drop his name from the show's title, and other people will start anchoring the program, which has attracted an average of about 3.5 million viewers, but has dipped as low as 2.6 million viewers.

NBC gave the show a three-year commitment when it started in October 2011, but has moved the show's time slot four times. An NBC representative didn't respond, the story adds.

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'Downton Abbey' Star Leaves the Show

Putting to rest months of speculation, a spokesperson for the PBS series “Downton Abbey” has confirmed that actor Dan Stevens won’t be on the show when it returns for season four, Deadline.com reports. Stevens plays Matthew Crawley on the series.

The period drama begins shooting this winter in the U.K. on season four, the report notes.

“Season three ended its regular run on the U.K.’s ITV in November and a Christmas special which aired last night in the U.K. (Spoiler Alert) explains Matthew’s exit. Season three begins airing in the U.S. on PBS on Jan. 6,” the story reports. “Stevens is currently starring with Jessica Chastain in ‘The Heiress’ on Broadway and exec produced and stars in the upcoming indie ‘Summer In February.’ He has also been linked to DreamWorks’ untitled Wikileaks movie.”

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Lindsay Lohan Puts Charlie Sheen's Money to Good Use

Lindsay Lohan took advantage of a generous gift from fellow actor Charlie Sheen, using Sheen’s check for $100,000 to help pay off a tax bill that had her in trouble with the IRS, TMZ.com reports.

Lohan paid off her 2009 bill for $93,701, the story reports. The website obtained an official IRS document indicating the debt was paid.

“Sources close to Lindsay tell us, she used Charlie's generous check to cover the tab -- and has already applied the remaining $6,300 to her 2010 tax bill for $140,203 (only $133,000 to go!!!),” TMZ reports. “According to sources, Lindsay's still on the hook for her 2011 taxes too -- but she's actively trying to raise the money to get herself out of the red as soon as possible.”

Sheen reportedly made the donation to Lohan after hearing about her financial difficulties.

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Report: CNN's Jeff Zucker Looking to Print for New Talent

Incoming CNN chief Jeff Zucker has reportedly been looking at print publications for new talent, seeking reporters in Hollywood to help the network beef up its coverage of show business, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

Zucker has been sounding out reporters at the trade publications The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, the story says. His philosophy is that while a great reporter can be turned into a decent broadcaster, it's tough to turn TV staff into great reporters, the piece notes.

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Netflix Blames Amazon for Christmas Eve Service Disruption

Netflix restored streaming service after it was disrupted on Christmas Eve, and blamed the disruption on Amazon.com's Web storage and computing system, reports Bloomberg.

Many streaming customers were unable to watch content from around 3:30 p.m. ET on Christmas Eve until late in the day, the story notes, citing a Netflix spokesman. He said the blockage was caused by issues with Amazon Web Services, a business that's separate from Amazon's online retail store.

In an email, the spokesman wrote: “We are happy that people opening gifts of Netflix subscriptions or Netflix-capable devices this Christmas morning can watch TV shows and movies and apologize for any inconvenience caused last night. We are investigating the cause and will do what we can to prevent re-occurrence.”

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Taking the Plunge: Fox's Celebrity Diving Special -- Not to Be Confused With ABC's Celebrity Diving Series -- Names Hosts

Fox's two-hour celebrity diving special "Stars in Danger: The High Dive," set to air Jan. 9, has tapped television presenters Kyle Martino and Becky Baeling to host, reports Deadline.com.

The special, based on a German format, got the go-ahead from Fox soon after ABC ordered a similarly themed series, “Celebrity Diving,” which is set to debut March 19, the piece notes.

The Fox special will feature Olympic diving medalist Troy Dumais, who will provide commentary. The celebrity cast includes JWoww of "Jersey Shore" and former NFL star Terrell Owens, the report adds.

“After an intense training period, the eight celebrities in ‘Stars In Danger’ will compete in a series of Olympic-style dives, including solo high diving and synchronized diving, from a variety of heights,” the piece reports. “Martino is a retired professional soccer player who works as a TV soccer color analyst. Baeling is an actress/TV host/singer.”

 

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Letterman to Be Honored Tonight -- Along With Led Zeppelin, Dustin Hoffman and Others ... Blues Guitarist and Ballerina Also on the Bill for Televised Event

Late-night television host David Letterman will receive a prestigious award tonight, being honored along with actor Dustin Hoffman, rock band Led Zeppelin and others at the 35th Annual Kennedy Honors, BroadwayWorld.com reports. The ceremony will be televised at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

The others to be honored are blues guitarist Buddy Guy and ballerina Natalia Makarova. As we reported previously, Led Zeppelin band members Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones will receive individual awards along with an award for the band as a whole.

“In a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage, the 2012 honorees will be saluted by great performers from Hollywood and the arts capitals of the world,” the piece reports. “Seated with President and Mrs. Obama, the honorees will accept the thanks of their peers and fans through performances and heartfelt tributes.”

Said Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein: "With their extraordinary talent, creativity and tenacity, the seven 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees have contributed significantly to the cultural life of our nation and the world. Buddy Guy is a titan of the blues and has been a tremendous influence on virtually everyone who has picked up an electric guitar in the last half century; Dustin Hoffman's unyielding commitment to the wide variety of roles he plays has made him one of the most versatile and iconoclastic actors of this or any other generation; David Letterman is one of the most influential personalities in the history of television, entertaining an entire generation of late-night viewers with his unconventional wit and charm; Natalia Makarova's profound artistry has ignited the stages of the world's greatest ballet companies and continues to pass the torch to the next generation of dancers; and Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant transformed the sound of rock and roll with their lyricism and innovative song structures, infusing blues into the sound of rock and roll and laying the foundation for countless rock bands."

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'Jersey Shore' Star Plans Political Career

One of the former stars of MTV’s hit reality series "Jersey Shore" wants to transition from reality television into politics, reports TMZ.com.

Vinny Guadagnino plans to go to law school, although he doesn't plan to practice law, the story says. "I want to get into politics," he said. "So I was gonna go to law school to get involved in politics."

Guadagnino, who was interviewed while he was leaving a West Hollywood nightclub recently, also told TMZ: "I know this sounds weird stumbling coming out of a club ... but I actually have a brain."

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Tonight's 'Leverage' on TNT Will Indeed Be the Series Finale

As reported back on Dec. 7, 2012, John Rogers, the creator of "Leverage" on TNT was worried that he would not be asked to do a sixth season of the series.

Thus executive producer and director Dean Devlin wrote this open letter to fans of the the show, "As of the writing of this letter, we still do not know if there will be a season six of our show. Just as we didn't know when we created the last three episodes which are about to air. Because of this uncertainty, John Rogers and I decided to end this season with the episode we had planned to make to end the series, way back when we shot the pilot. So, the episode that will air on Christmas is, in fact, the series finale we had always envisioned.

"This is not to say we would not do a season six should we get the opportunity. Everyone involved with the show, from the cast, the crew, the writers and producers, would like nothing more than to continue telling these stories. But, in case we do not get that opportunity we felt that, creatively, after 77 episodes, we owed it to you, our fans, to end the show properly."

Well, according to TVGuide, "In an announcement posted late Friday, Dec. 22, 2012, TNT said it was 'time to say goodbye' " to 'Leverage.'  

The announcement added, "We are honored to have worked with executive producer Dean Devlin, Electric Entertainment, creators John Rogers and Chris Downey, and all the cast and production crew on 'Leverage.' We look forward to exploring new opportunities to work with them again in the future. We also want to thank the passionately devoted fans of 'Leverage,' who have been the driving force behind its success."

So the episode that will air tonight, Dec. 25, 2012, on TNT will be not only the finale of season five of "Leverage," but the series finale as well.

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Jack Klugman, Star of TV's 'Odd Couple,' Dies at 90. He Started Acting on TV In Its Early Days in 1950, and Was Still At It 50 Years Later

"Jack Klugman, the rubber-mugged character actor who leapt to television stardom in the 1970s as the slovenly sportswriter Oscar Madison on 'The Odd Couple' and as the crusading forensic pathologist of 'Quincy, M.E.,' died on Monday [Dec. 24, 2012] at his home in the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles," The New York Times reports, adding, "He was 90."

According to the Associate Press story of Klugman's death, his son "Adam Klugman said he was spending Christmas with his brother, David, and their families. Their father had been convalescing for some time but had apparently died suddenly and they were not sure of the exact cause."

The Times writes that by the time he starred in TV's "The Odd Couple" in 1970, Klugman "had more than 100 television credits behind him, including four episodes of 'The Twilight Zone' and a 1964 episode of the legal drama 'The Defenders,' in which he delivered an Emmy Award-winning performance as a blacklisted actor."

The Times adds, "In the movies he had been the nouveau-riche father of a Jewish American princess (Ali MacGraw) in 'Goodbye, Columbus' (1969); a police colleague of Frank Sinatra’s in 'The Detective' (1968); Jack Lemmon’s Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor in 'Days of Wine and Roses' (1962); and a murder-trial juror, alongside Henry Fonda, in '12 Angry Men' (1957).

The AP story notes, "In 'Quincy, M.E.,' which ran from 1976 to 1983, Klugman played an idealistic, tough-minded medical examiner who tussled with his boss by uncovering evidence of murder in cases where others saw natural causes.'We had some wonderful writers,' he said in a 1987 Associated Press interview. 'Quincy was a muckraker, like Upton Sinclair, who wrote about injustices. He was my ideal as a youngster, my author, my hero.' two heroes in one, a cop and a doctor.' A coroner has power. He can tell the police commissioner to investigate a murder. I saw the opportunity to do what I'd gotten into the theater to do -- give a message."

One of Klugman's most famous TV roles was in the classic 1961 "Twilight Zone" episode "A Game of Pool," which starred Klugman and Jonathan WInters.Here's an excerpt:

 

And here's a terrific interview with Klugman made by the Archive of American Television, which is part of the  Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation:

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Debate Moderator -- One of the Few to Be Generally Praised -- Gets a Promotion as ABC News Makes Personnel Moves

With Jake Tapper jumping from ABC to CNN, as we reported earlier today, ABC News is making a couple of key personnel moves. TheWrap.com reports that Jonathan Karl will fill the void left by Tapper, becoming the division’s new chief White House correspondent.

Meanwhile, Martha Raddatz, who was widely praised for her work as moderator of the vice presidential debate back in October, steps up to become chief global affairs correspondent for ABC News, TheWrap reports.

“Raddatz will replace Tapper as the primary substitute for George Stephanopoulos on ‘This Week’ and will contribute regularly to the Sunday morning show's roundtable. Karl will also serve as a substitute and regularly appear on the roundtable,” the story reports.

A source familiar with the situation told the publication that one reason for Tapper’s departure from ABC is that he has had his sights set on hosting “This Week” full time, while Stephanopoulos appears poised to keep the job.

ABC News President Ben Sherwood announced the personnel moves involving Raddatz and Karl following CNN’s announcement that it had hired Tapper.

TheWrap reports: “Karl has investigated wasteful federal spending, covered elections, and served as the network's senior national security correspondent.

“Raddatz has reported from the Pentagon, the State Department, the White House, and from conflict zones worldwide, including Afghanistan and Iraq. But she has been perhaps most celebrated for keeping the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan on course after the moderator of the first presidential debate, Jim Lehrer, was accused of letting the candidates run amok.”

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Martha Radditz

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NBC Brings Back the First Animated Holiday Program Made for TV

Fifty years after it premiered on NBC, one of the oldest holiday programs around will return to the network’s prime-time lineup. The New York Times reports that "Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol" will make its first network appearance in decades on Saturday, Dec. 21.

The program, an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” is generally considered to be the first animated holiday show made specifically for TV -- even though the marionette special “The Spirit of Christmas” predates it by 12 years. “Magoo’s” was the forerunner of more familiar holiday fare such as “Frosty the Snowman,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and the stop-motion “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

The “Mister Magoo” special, in which Jim Backus provides the voice of the title character, was a holiday staple like the others for years, but was bumped from the lineup decades ago. Its return to prime time is NBC’s way of marking the production’s 50-year anniversary. The network first aired it on Dec. 18, 1962.

Thomas Vinciguerra writes in The Times piece: “Considering that ‘Magoo’ is the first version of ‘A Christmas Carol’ that some children see, it offers quite grown-up themes. There is no soft-pedaling here of Tiny Tim’s death, or of the chained souls of the damned floating outside Scrooge’s window. Chunks of Dickensian dialogue, like ‘decrease the surplus population’ and ‘who made lame beggars walk and blind men see,’ remain largely intact.”

Vinciguerra also notes: “’Magoo’ also offers a curious framing device whereby the whole story is treated as a Broadway production, with Magoo as an actor portraying Scrooge. The producer, Lee Orgel, feared that audiences wouldn’t accept Magoo being plucked out of his cartoon context and plopped into the 19th century without explanation.”

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'Bridesmaids' Star to Host 2013 MTV Movie Awards

One of the breakout stars from the 2011 hit feature film “Bridesmaids” has been named to host the 2013 MTV Movie Awards, reports E! Online.

Actress/comedian Rebel Wilson, seen recently in the comedy "Pitch Perfect," will host the event, set to air on MTV on Sunday, April 14, 2013.

MTV made the announcement via a promotional video during last night's series finale of "Jersey Shore." In the clip, Wilson pretended to be starring in an action movie in which she was whipped by Matt Lucas, her co-star in "Bridesmaids."

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Rebel Wilson

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A Piece of TV History Goes Up for Auction: Overlooked Show Featured Performances by Many of the Greats, Including Count Basie, Steve Allen, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, Bob Newhart and Lena Horne ... and of Course, Judy

A sizable chunk of television history is going up for auction, with the rights to a largely forgotten -- but memorable -- show being put up for sale. CNN reports that the rights to “The Judy Garland Show” are on the auction block.

The variety series, which cost CBS $24 million to put on the air back in 1963, has a starting bid of $1 million in the online auction being conducted by The Royalty Exchange. The bidding is set to end Sunday afternoon, the piece reports.

The show is being sold by music producer Darryl Payne, who bought the rights in 1998 from Garland's former husband, Sam Luft.

"This would be a great Christmas gift for somebody," said Payne. “You get Judy Garland. She's singing, she's dancing. You get all the biggest stars of that era."

The report notes: “Then-rising star Barbra Streisand sang a memorable duet with Garland in one episode, before the singer filmed ‘Funny Girl,’ her breakout movie. The appearance earned Streisand her first Emmy nomination.”

“Garland's daughter Liza Minnelli, then 17, was a guest,” the report adds, “along with many other entertainment legends: Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, Peggy Lee, Count Basie, Mickey Rooney, Ethel Merman, Bob Newhart, Donald O'Connor, Steve Allen, Jane Powell, Peter Lawford, Vic Damone and Jack Jones.”

The series was canceled in March 1964, and the material has generally not been aired since.

“The buyer can sell DVDs or rebroadcast in the United States the 26 star-filled episodes hosted by Garland for a season on CBS starting in 1963,” the report notes. “The new owner could also license the series for streaming online or downloading, Payne said.”

Five years after the show went off the air, its star, Garland, died of a drug overdose at age 47.

Here's a sample:

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TVWeek's NewsPro Picks Its '12 to Watch in TV News'

"Our cover story, '12 to Watch in TV News,' looks at some journalists and other media professionals who are making a difference, and some of the people who hire them; many are old hands in TV news, including Jeff Zucker, whose foray to CNN lands him on the list."

So says the editor of this month's NewsPro, Jarre Fees.

To read our December NewsPro, including our "12 to Watch in TV News," please click here.

Fees continues, saying: "The list includes some up-and-comers and more than a few risk takers, and all of them are helping shape what we watch, and when and why."

Fees adds: "In this NewsPro we also take a look at the state of journalism awards. Many organizations, like the Online News Association and the Pulitzer Prizes, are recognizing the value of technology to help tell the award-winning stories we watch and read -- stories that enlighten and entertain and enrich the public, many of them moving across platforms unheard of a decade ago.

"We look at a few important fellowships and research how to get a grant; we pinpoint foundations and other organizations that continue to recognize and reward initiative and creativity and sometimes fund an entire journalism career."

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CW Cancels Steamy Drama

The CW is pulling the plug on a steamy drama series, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The channel won’t be bringing back "The L.A. Complex" for a third season, the story reports.

The series is a soap opera about young Canadians trying to find fame in Los Angeles, but the CW's move might mean the end to the Canadian show, the story notes. Canada's MuchMusic channel also recently decided not to order a third season.

cast-l-a-complex.jpg

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NRA Attacks Media in Wake of Sandy Hook Shootings, Calls for Arming All U.S. Schools

One week after the deadly shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the CEO of the National Rifle Association today made the organization’s first public statement on the tragedy, NBC News reports.

In a speech disrupted by protesters holding a banner that read “NRA Killing Our Kids” and shouting that the gun rights organization has “blood on its hands,” NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre took a defiant stance, blaming the killings on the media and schools’ gun-free zones while calling for armed officers in all U.S. schools.

LaPierre “blamed violent video games and movies, the media, gun-free zones in schools and other factors,” the report says, adding that LaPierre “said that the students in Newtown might have been better protected had officials at Sandy Hook Elementary been armed. He said that putting a police officer in every single school in America might make schools safer.”

LaPierre called for Congress to immediately approve funding to put an officer in all U.S. schools. "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," he said.

“The NRA executive's statement was nothing short of defiant in the face of mounting discussion of the need for tighter restrictions on guns -- including renewing a ban on assault weapons -- in the wake of last week's shooting,” the piece reports.

LaPierre will appear Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the report notes.

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TVWeek Holiday Schedule

TVWeek will not formally publish on Monday and Tuesday next week, Dec. 24 and Dec. 25.

We are also off on Monday and Tuesday of the following week, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.

We WILL publish Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of next week (Dec. 26, 27 and 28).

Then, on Wednesday, Jan 2, 2013, we will resume regular publication.

From our family to yours, we wish you the very best during the holidays!

As always, if major news breaks, we'll let you know through one of our TVWeek Extra alerts.

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CNN Snatches News Veteran From ABC

ABC News is losing one of its veteran newsmen to CNN, The New York Times' Media Decoder reports. CNN has hired ABC senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper, according to the report.

Tapper will anchor an afternoon program for CNN and serve as its chief Washington correspondent. He's viewed as one of the most aggressive reporters in Washington, D.C., and while incoming CNN President Jeffrey Zucker hasn't yet started in his role, Zucker was instrumental in hiring Tapper, the story says.

CNN didn't say which time slot Tapper will take, but it's thought the network will whittle the three-hour "Situation Room" to two hours, possibly making room for Tapper at 4 p.m.

For Tapper, the hiring means a return to CNN, as he was a co-host of "Take 5," a weekend panel program, in 2001. He has worked at ABC News since 2003.

jake-tapper.jpg

Jake Tapper

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NBC Throws Cold Water on Rosie O'Donnell's Rumored Move to 'America's Got Talent' -- But Rosie IS Headed to NBC

NBC is giving Rosie O’Donnell a lump of coal for the holiday season, saying she won’t be appearing on “America’s Got Talent” anytime soon.

The netowrk said it's not talking with O'Donnell about joining the talent competition as a judge and has no future plans for her to do so, reports Deadline.com.

As previously reported, speculation that O'Donnell might join the show began after a report surfaced that judge Howard Stern had indicated he would like her to join the show.

However, O'Donnell will appear on NBC -- on a different show. "She will be playing herself on an upcoming episode of 'Smash' when 'Bombshell' opens on Broadway,” an NBC representative said.

 

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'Charlie Rose' Settles Class-Action Lawsuit Filed by Show's Interns

Interns at "Charlie Rose" have settled a class-action lawsuit against the show, with the host and his production company, Charlie Rose Inc., agreing to pay a settlement of up to $250,000, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

The settlement means that many of the interns will receive about $1,100 each, or $110 a week in back pay, up to a maximum of 10 weeks, the story says.

Lucy Bickerton, the main plaintiff, said she wasn't paid when she worked 25 hours a week for "Charlie Rose" from June through August 2007. The settlement is "a really important moment for this movement against unpaid internships," Bickerton said.

Similar lawsuits about unpaid internships have been filed against Hearst Corp. and Fox Entertainment. Both have denied they failed to comply with wage and hour concerning with their interns, the story adds.

According to the settlement agreement, Charlie Rose and his company "do not admit any liability or wrongdoing” and they agreed “solely for the purpose of avoiding the costs and disruption of ongoing litigation and to settle all claims," the piece notes.

 

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Some Rock Stars Are Twice as Likely to Die Young as Other Rock Stars -- Study Determines a Key Difference

A study from British researchers has found that rockers actually do die young -- or at least younger than the rest of us, reports Yahoo News. It's not known why that's the case, however, the story says.

The study also determined a key factor that makes some rock stars twice as likely to die as others.

The researchers from Liverpool John Moores University studied almost 1,500 rock stars from the past 50 years, ranging from Elvis Presley to members of the band Arctic Monkeys, who gained fame in 2006.

The study found that rock stars died earlier than expected based on their age, gender and ethnicity, the story reports. A disparity was found between solo artists and members of a band, with solo artists twice as likely to die young than those in a group, the report notes.

The study found that 22.8% of solo artists died young, while only 10.2% of North American band performers died early. The disparity may be related to the level of fame attained by solo artists.

The piece reports: "It's also possible that the built-in peer support band members provide ... helps protect against early death, but future studies are needed to address this question, the researchers said.”

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Ridley Scott to Direct Showtime Project

Ridley Scott has been tapped to direct a project for Showtime, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed. "The Vatican" marks the pay-channel's first pilot for series consideration in 2013 and the first TV pilot for Scott, the report notes.

"The Vatican" is an hourlong modern-day thriller from writer Paul Attanasio of "House," and looks at the political goings-on within the Catholic Church.

Production on the drama, from Sony TV, starts next year, with Attanasio, Scott and David Zucker of "The Good Wife" executive producing.

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CNBC to Add First Prime-Time Reality Series

CNBC has ordered two series, adding reality shows to its prime-time schedule for the first time, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The reality series are "Treasure Detectives" and "The Car Chasers," which will both debut March 5 in a block starting at 9 p.m. "Treasure Detectives" tracks a fakes and forgeries detective, Curtis Dowling, as his group looks into possible counterfeit items, while "The Car Chasers" is about a pair who travel around the U.S. looking to buy and sell cars.

CNBC is also developing four unscripted programs that cover subjects ranging from sports gambling to the musical world, the story says.

"The conflict between fear and greed and buy and sell plays out on our air every day, so there is great opportunity to extend those themes into prime time,” said Mark Hoffman, CNBC president and CEO.

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Most Quirky Non-TV Story of the Day: Lawsuit Resolved About General Mills' Strawberry Naturally Flavored Fruit Roll-Ups, Which -- Of Course -- Contain No Strawberries

Here are the results of a settlement in a case we hadn't previously heard about -- a lawsuit brought against General Mills' Strawberry Naturally Flavored Fruit Roll-Ups, which, as it turns out, contain no strawberries whatsoever.

According to the consumer watchdog agency Center for Science in the Public Interest, "Strawberry Naturally Flavored Fruit Roll-Ups contain no strawberries but are made with pears from concentrate, corn syrup, dried corn syrup, sugar, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, and 2 percent or less various natural and artificial ingredients. So long as the product continues not to contain strawberries, the new labels will not depict images of strawberries, according to the agreement. And, so long as the product’s label carries the claim “Made with Real Fruit,” such claims will be required to include the actual percentage of fruit in the product. Both of those changes will take effect in 2014."

Getting the new labels for Strawberry Naturally Flavored Fruit Roll-Ups is the result of a "lawsuit brought against [General Mills] by a California woman, Annie Lam, who was represented by the nonprofit nutrition watchdog group the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the consumer protection law firm Reese Richman LLP," according to the announcement issued by the CSPI.

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FX Expanding Push Into Animation, Orders Pilot From 'Eastbound & Down's' Danny McBride

FX has ordered a pilot for an animated comedy from "Eastbound & Down" co-creator and star Danny McBride and his partners Jody Hill and David Gordon Green, reports Deadline.com.

The project, called “Chosen,” was written by Grant Dekernion, a former writer's assistant on "Eastbound & Down," who will also voice the lead character in the comedy.

The project is about a rapper who comes out of prison with a new message, which he wants to use to gain redemption and domination, the story says.

FX wants to expand its animation programming and add on to the success of the animated show "Archer," which recently was renewed for a fourth season.

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Female-Driven Robin Hood Project in Development at CW

A female-focused Robin Hood project is in development at the CW, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed. "Sherwood' focuses on a young noblewoman who joins the band of Merry Men, the story reports.

The CW has given a script commitment to the project, which is set in the year 1072 and follows a young English noblewoman who wants to free her boyfriend -- a serf who has been imprisoned by the Normans. She seeks help from Robin Hood and helps to reunite his group of Merry Men, the story says.

If the project moves forward, it could become the second drama on the CW about archers. The network has found success with "Arrow," an adaptation of DC Comics’ bow-and-arrow-wielding superhero, the story points out.

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NHL Moves Closer to Canceling Entire Hockey Season

The NHL has moved closer to canceling the entire hockey season, lopping off another two weeks from the schedule and canceling games through Jan. 14, reports the Associated Press.

"No drop-dead date has been announced, but it is clear the sides are running out of time to reach a deal," the story notes. "More than 50 percent of the schedule has been lost, and the rest is now in danger, too."

According to Deadline.com, "The latest deadline will be closely watched by NBC Sports and the various regional sports networks who have TV rights to the games; NBC signed a record $2 billion, 10-year TV rights deal with the NHL last year, with hockey a major programming plank in its nascent NBC Sports Network."

No new negotiations are currently scheduled between the NHL and the NHL Players' Association, the story adds.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told the AP that the two sides weren't in contact Thursday.

"I don't think either party is refusing a meeting," Daly noted Wednesday. "But unless there is an indication one side or the other is prepared to move or has a new idea to move the process forward -- and so far neither side has indicated -- I am not sure what we would do at the meeting."

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Sean Hayes of 'Will & Grace' to Star in New NBC Sitcom

“Will & Grace” alum Sean Hayes is adding to his slate of NBC projects. Just days after getting the go-ahead for his new game show “Hollywood Game Night,” Hayes has agreed to star in and executive produce a new sitcom for the network, TV Guide reports.

The project comes from “Better Off Ted's” Victor Fresco.

“In the untitled script, Hayes would play the father of a 14-year-old girl who has just moved in,” the story reports. “Together, the newly minted dad and daughter must learn how to deal with one another, while Hayes' character also adjusts to a new temperamental boss at work.”

The show will be executive produced by Fresco, Hayes and Todd Milliner, and produced by Universal TV and Hazy Mills, the production company overseen by Hayes and Milliner.

The piece notes: “Six years after ‘Will & Grace’ ended its run, Hayes has become a hugely successful TV producer, helping put shows like ‘Grimm’ and ‘Hot in Cleveland’ on the air. But the actor has also been looking to return in front of the camera full time.”

NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt indicated last year that he wanted to put Hayes in front of the cameras again. Greenblatt said at the time: "Sean is a good friend and I think it's time he came back."

Hayes has made some recent guest appearances on “Up All Night.”

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MTV Renews Its Latest Hit Series After Show's Premiere Set Ratings Record for the Network

MTV has ordered a second season of its newest hit series after the show set a ratings record for the network with its Nov. 12 premiere, B&C reports.

The series, “Catfish,” is a reality program focused on online dating, based on a 2010 documentary of the same name. “The hour-long series ... follows Nev Schulman, the subject of the film, and filmmaker Max Joseph as they take viewers inside the stories of young people as their online-only romantic relationships collide with first-time, real-life encounters,” the story reports.

The show’s premiere became MTV’s highest-rated series in history in persons 12-34 in the 11 p.m. time slot, the piece notes. The series is averagin a 2.3 rating in that demo through its first six installments. The program is also headed to MTV’s international channels starting next month.

Said Dave Sirulnick, executive VP, MTV Multiplatform: "’Catfish: The TV Show’ has truly captured the zeitgeist of the digital dating age. The show has resonated with our audience by portraying the real-life journeys of individuals trying to navigate the highs and lows of online dating -- an experience our viewers can relate to. We are thrilled to bring the show back for a second season, and look forward to the fascinating stories that only Nev and Max can uncover."

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Political Director Exits ABC News

 ABC News is losing its political director, according to a report by TVNewser.com. Returning to the Cook Political Report as national editor will be Amy Walter.

Walter was a Cook previously, working as senior editor from 1997-2007. She is set to leave ABC in January.

“ABC News President Ben Sherwood announced the news on the network’s morning editorial call,” the piece reports. “In addition to heading up ABC’s politics coverage, Walter also hosted Web shows during the conventions.”

No word has surfaced about a possible replacement, the piece adds.

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NASA Posts YouTube Video Debunking 'End of the World' Forecast for Dec. 21

NASA is convinced the world will make it to Dec. 22, 2012, despite rumors based on the Mayan calendar that say the world will end tomorrow, Dec. 21. So the space agency has posted a video on YouTube, designed to be viewed on Dec. 22, titled “Why the World Didn’t End Yesterday,” Reuters reports.

NASA says the predictions of doom are the result of the doomsayers’ misinterpretation of the Mayan calendar.

In a separate YouTube video, Don Yeomans, head of NASA's Near-Earth Object program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., says: "It's just the end of the cycle and the beginning of the new one. It's just like on Dec. 31, our calendar comes to an end, but a new calendar for the next year begins on Jan. 1," the piece reports.

Here’s the video:

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CBS Unveils Plans for New Series

CBS took the wraps off plans for a new unscripted series set for a midseason rollout, Deadline.com reports. The show is “The Job,” a reality competition that will air Fridays in the 8 p.m. time slot, starting Feb. 8.

The show is produced by Michael Davies and Mark Burnett. It will help the network keep fresh programming in the time slot while “Undercover Boss” -- set to return April 19 -- goes on hiatus.

“What is more interesting is that CBS will use the unproven ‘The Job’ as a lead-in for the crucial first six airings on Friday of midseason drama ‘Golden Boy,’ which will debut in its regular Friday 9 p.m. slot March 8 following two previews in the Tuesday 10 p.m. hour,” the report notes.

The Deadline piece adds: “’The Job’ gives candidates from around the country a chance to win positions at top companies. Hosted by Lisa Ling, each episode will feature five candidates participating in several rounds of elimination challenges before a panel of executives as they compete for their dream job. In addition to the episode’s featured company, representatives from three guest companies from related industries will have the opportunity to make an on-the-spot offer to one of the candidates, who must decide if they will accept the offer or remain in the running for the featured job.”

The series is produced by Sony Pictures Television and Embassy Row, with Burnett, Davies and Jay Bienstock executive producing.

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ABC Newsman Sam Donaldson Arrested

Veteran ABC newsman and political correspondent Sam Donaldson was arrested earlier this month, reports TMZ.com. Donaldson, 78, was pulled over Dec. 1 after he had driven onto the shoulder of the road in Delaware and was arrested on suspicion of DUI, the story says, citing law enforcement.

The officer, after detecting the presence of alcohol, performed a field sobriety test on Donaldson, leading to his arrest. He was taken to a station where he was booked and released, the piece says.

The report adds that law enforcement said Donaldson was very cooperative during the incident.

 

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The Worst TV Shows of 2012 -- Here's One Prominent Critic's Bottom 15

When it comes to the worst television programs of 2012, “I could have kept going to 150,” writes well-known television critic Tim Goodman in The Hollywood Reporter. Among his many year-end lists, Goodman managed to narrow it down to the 15 worst shows.

Here’s his list, with selected comments from Goodman's report in THR:

1. Neighbors (ABC) - The mere fact that Neighbors got on the air is bad enough. That it wasn’t abhorred by the masses is even worse. It managed numbers good enough for ABC to keep it on the air and keep the Gods of Culture weeping.
2. Guys With Kids (NBC) - Jimmy Fallon pitched NBC a skit. They bought it. Then realized it was essentially a one-joke skit. Wah-wah-wah.
3. Emily Owens, M.D. (CW) - So bad even the CW canceled it. An embarrassment for all women.
4. Malibu Country (ABC)
5. Made In Jersey (CBS)
6. 2 Broke Girls (CBS) - Vagina, vagina, racist joke, vagina, vagina, hipster, penis.
7. Partners (CBS)
8. Whitney (NBC)
9. Scandal (ABC)
10. Glee (Fox) - Come on, you’re not still watching this are you?
11. The Mob Doctor (Fox)
12. American Horror Story (Fox)
13. 666 Park Avenue (ABC) - Hell, at least AHS is scary. This was the least scary devil series in history.
14. Animal Practice (NBC)
15. Beauty and the Beast (CW)

 

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Anatomy of Reporting Mass Murder: Why Were We Told So Much Wrong Information During the Live Reporting of the Killings in Newtown, Conn.? Should Reporters Have Done a Better Job?

To find out the answers to the questions posed in our headline, TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross spoke to two journalists who, combined, have had more than 70 years working in the TV news business.

Please click here to read his insightful essay.

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Video: Samuel L. Jackson Blames 'SNL' Cast Member for His Swearing

Actor Samuel L. Jackson, who sparked a controversy with his appearance on "Saturday Night Live" last weekend, blamed his apparent utterance of a swear word on cast member Kenan Thompson, reports The New York Times' ArtsBeat.

Jackson appeared to utter the f-word during the sketch "What Up With That?," followed by the word "bullshit." After he said it, Thompson humorously chided him, saying, "Come on, Sam, that costs money.”

In an interview with Jimmy Kimmel on Tuesday, Jackson joked that Thompson "was supposed to cut me off."

Kimmel responded, "So you’re saying this was Kenan’s fault?”

Jackson shrugged and said, "I’m used to working with professionals that know their lines. Even the ones that are written on cue cards in front of you.” He appeared to be gently teasing Thompson.

Jackson said he only got out part of the f-word, as in "fu." But he admitted he got the whole word out ("bullshit") in the second instance.

Representatives for "SNL" didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Here’s a video of Jackson’s interview with Kimmel, which begins with a clip from Jackson’s new movie, “Django Unchained” and includes a bleeped version of the “SNL” appearance:

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Showrunner Named to Replace Jeff Zucker on 'Katie'

Katie Couric's new daytime talk show "Katie" has named a new showrunner and executive producer to take over for Jeff Zucker, reports Deadline.com.

Michael Morrison, most recently executive producer of Hallmark Channel's "The Martha Stewart Show," has been tapped to oversee the show, the story reports.

Zucker, who co-owns the show with Couric, is leaving the program to take over leadership of CNN next month. Disney-ABC has been meeting with potential replacements, with the goal to have someone in place by year-end, the story notes.

Morrison, before working on "The Martha Stewart Show’s” sole season on Hallmark, was previously a programming consultant and executive producer at A&E. He helped debut "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," the piece notes.

"Katie" has established itself as the top-rated new syndicated daytime talk show this season.

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USA Network Renews Its Longest-Running Series

USA Network has given a renewal to its longest-running series. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the cable channel renewed "Psych," a comedy starring James Roday and Dule Hill, for an eighth season.

The renewal was announced via Twitter by USA Network Senior Vice President of Research Ted Linhart, and comes two months before the show returns with its seventh season Feb. 27.

It's not yet known how many episodes will be ordered or whether the eighth season will be the show’s last. The show will mark its 100th episode during its seventh season, the piece adds.

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'Rules of Engagement' Lands at Cable Network

"Rules of Engagement" has found a home on cable, with a January 2013 debut scheduled. B&C reports that the CBS comedy series has been bought for cable syndication by TBS.

"We recently shot the 100th episode, which speaks to the ongoing appeal of this series and its cast," said John Weiser, president of U.S. distribution for Sony Pictures Television.

The show, which stars Oliver Hudson, Bianca Kajlich, Patrick Warburton, Megyn Price and David Spade, currently airs in broadcast syndication in 96% of the U.S., the story notes.

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Amazon Orders Six Pilots in Its First Original Comedy Slate

Amazon.com’s original film and series production arm, Amazon Studios, announced its first original slate of comedy pilots today, ordering six pilots from a mix of industry veterans and newcomers, Deadline.com reports.

“These are Amazon’s first green lights since the studio expanded into original programming development earlier this year,” the piece reports. “Once the six pilots are completed, they will be posted on Amazon Instant Video for Amazon customers to watch for free. Viewer feedback will help determine which series Amazon Studios will produce.”

Said Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios: “Since launching our original series development effort, we have received more than 2,000 series ideas from creators around the world with all different backgrounds, and we are extremely excited to begin production on our very first set of pilots.”

The projects, according to Deadline, are:

“Alpha House,” written by Academy Award nominee and Pulitzer-Prize winner Garry Trudeau.

“Browsers,” written by 12-time Emmy-winning comedy writer David Javerbaum.

“Dark Minions,” written by “Big Bang Theory” co-stars Kevin Sussman and John Ross Bowie.

“The Onion Presents: The News,” from The Onion’s Will Graham & Dan Mirk.

“Supanatural,” written by Lily Sparks, Price Peterson and Ryan Sandoval.

“Those Who Can’t,” written by Andrew Orvedahl, Adam Cayton-Holland and Benjamin Roy.

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Mel Karmazin Departs Sirius XM Ahead of Schedule

Mel Karmazin has stepped down from Sirius XM Radio earlier than expected, as the company has appointed James E. Meyer as its interim chief executive officer, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

As previously reported, Karmazin was expected to step down Feb. 1, as the company prepares to be taken over by its biggest investor, Liberty Media. Karmazin had riled Liberty Chairman John Malone with a comment that Karmazin was "one of the most underpaid executives in the history of executive payment."

A filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission said that Karmazin resigned on Tuesday as CEO and had also left the board, according to The Times.

Meyer has served as Sirius' president of operations and sales since 2004, and will hold the post of interim CEO while the company looks for a permanent replacement, the piece adds.

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Martha Stewart Living CEO Gets the Hook After Five Months

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia is getting a new chief executive just five months after it tapped Lisa Gersh to revive the company's media properties, reports the New York Post.

Gersh, a former television executive and co-founder of Oxygen Media, was hired as president and chief operating officer in 2011 and promoted to CEO in July 2012.

The company's TV and publishing properties haven't flourished recently, the story notes. Hallmark Channel canceled Stewart's daily show in January, and the magazine group is shutting down its Whole Living and Everyday Food titles, the piece adds.

The company said it has hired an executive search firm to find a replacement for Gersh, who will leave after a transition period.

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BBC America Orders Talk Show Based on Podcast

BBC America has ordered a television talk show based on the "Nerdist" podcast from Chris Hardwick, reports New York Magazine's Vulture blog.

The channel ordered a ten-episode season of the show, for a spring debut. Recent episodes of the podcast have featured John Hodgman, Malcolm McDowell and Judd Apatow. To listen, click here.

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'Game of Thrones' Beer to Be Available for HBO Show's Season 3 Premiere

In an unusual product tie-in with a TV series, HBO and Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, N.Y., are partnering to produce a new Game of Thrones beer, USA Today reports. The beverage will be available from the upstate New York brewer in time for the season three premiere of the hit HBO drama, set for March 31.

The new line, which will include a blond ale called Iron Throne, is set to launch in mid-march.

“Company officials say the brewery's Belgian-style beers are not just bottles with Thrones labels, but are specially made to be a good fit for the series, based on the George R.R. Martin fantasy novels set in a medieval-like time of jousts, wars and intrigue,” USA Today reports. “Beers will be named and crafted to directly tie into ‘themes and nuances’ of Westeros, the fictional realm where Lannisters, Starks and various other factions battle for supremacy, notes AP.”

According to the brewer, the drink will be available nationally on draft and in 750 ml bottles, carrying a suggested retail price of $8.50 per bottle.

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NBC Wins the Night as 'The Voice' Soars to a Season High

The finale of NBC’s singing competition “The Voice” surged in the Nielsen ratings Tuesday night, based on overnight numbers, pushing the Peacock Network to an easy win in the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the two-hour finale delivered a 4.9 average rating among viewers 18-49, way up from last week’s 3.6 and up a half a ratings point from the 4.4 for last year’s broadcast. It was the highest-rated show of the night among all broadcast networks.

CBS put up a fight, with “NCIS” delivering a 3.3 in 18-49, up half a point from last week, and “NCIS: Los Angeles” climbing three-tenths to a 2.9. “Vegas” rose slightly too, up one-tenth to a 1.6.

ABC was mostly higher than a week ago, but the numbers were still modest. “Happy Endings” rose one-tenth to a 1.3 in the 18-49 demo and “Don’t Trust the B” also climbed one-tenth, to a 1.1, while “Private Practice” held steady with a 1.2.

Fox aired all repeats and settled for fifth place among the broadcast nets.

For prime time overall, NBC averaged a 4.0 in viewers 18-49 to win the night, followed by CBS (2.6 average), Univision (1.6), ABC (1.4) and Fox (0.8). CBS took the top spot in total viewers with 14.9 million, ahead of NBC (12.1 million), ABC (4.2 million), Univision (3.8 million) and Fox (1.9 million).

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Time Magazine's Person of the Year Revealed

Time magazine has revealed its Person of the Year for 2012, and it’s a person who is claiming the title for the second time, CBS News reports.

The magazine bestowed the honor on President Barack Obama, who also won it as president-elect in 2008.

“Time's short list included Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who was murdered for advocating girls' education,” the report notes, adding: “Time readers, in a separate poll, selected North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as the 2012 Person of the Year. The magazine's official Person of the Year is decided by editors, not readers.”

Time’s managing editor, Rick Stengel, made the announcement this morning on NBC’s “Today” show. Said Stengel: "We are in the midst of historic cultural and demographic changes, and Obama is both the symbol and in some ways the architect of this new America."

In an interview with Time, Obama said the 2012 election "may have been more satisfying a win than 2008."

Obama explained: "We've gone through a very difficult time. The American people have rightly been frustrated at the pace of change, and the economy is still struggling, and this president we elected is imperfect, and yet, despite all that, this is who we want to be."

The report notes: “Time's winner last year was ‘The Protester,’ a nod to the dissenters of the Arab Spring and domestic protest movements of Occupy Wall Street that captured the national attention.

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CBS, NPR, PBS and Current TV Among Recipients of the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for 2013 -- We Have the Complete List of Winners

The winners of the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for 2013 were announced today by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Among the winners are CBS News, NPR, Current TV and PBS.

Additionally, stations KLAS-TV in Las Vegas, WXYZ-TV in Detroit, WVUE-TV in New Orleans and Southern California’s KCET-TV are being honored, as is WHYY in Philadelphia. PBS’s WGBH is receiving two awards for “Frontline” productions.

The awards are honoring two documentary films, “Bully” and “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” along with the publication USA Today.

Here’s the list of all 14 recipients of the Silver Baton:

A film by Alison Klayman, A Never Sorry LLC, United Expression Media, Sundance Selects, MUSE Film and Television
“Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry”

CBS News & Clarissa Ward
CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley: Inside Syria

Current TV, Christof Putzel & The Renaud Brothers
"Vanguard: Arming the Mexican Cartel"

KCET, Southern California
"SoCal Connected: Courting Disaster"

KLAS-TV, Las Vegas
"Desert Underwater"

A film by Lee Hirsch, The Weinstein Company, Where We Live Films, BeCause Foundation, The Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, The Fledgling Fund, National Center for Learning Disabilities, and The Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention
"Bully"

NPR, Deborah Amos & Kelly McEvers
Coverage of Syria

StoryCorps, NPR & POV
"StoryCorps 9/11"

USA Today
"Ghost Factories"

WGBH, Kartemquin Films, Steve James & Alex Kotlowitz
"FRONTLINE: The Interrupters" on PBS

WGBH, Clover Films & Najibullah Quraishi
"FRONTLINE: Opium Brides" on PBS

witf, WHYY & NPR
StateImpact Pennsylvania

WVUE-TV, New Orleans & Lee Zurik
"Dirty Deeds," "Hiding Behind the Badge"

WXYZ-TV, Detroit
"Wayne County Confidential"

Click here to see the full press release from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, with details about the winners.

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Sony Pictures Television Names Key Marketing Exec

Sony Pictures Television announced the appointment of a new senior vice president of marketing, networks. The company named Nathalie Lubensky to the position.

Sheraton Kalouria, executive vice president & chief marketing officer for SPT, made the announcement.

Additionally, Tom Keeter was given an expanded role as senior vice president, marketing, international distribution and international production.

Said Kalouria: “Nathalie’s invaluable experience will allow her to identify and capitalize on market opportunities, while Tom’s marketing expertise will benefit SPT’s distribution and production businesses on a broader scale.”

The company noted in its announcement: “Lubensky will manage the global marketing and branding initiatives for SPT’s networks portfolio that spans 159 countries and reaches more than 800 million homes. Her responsibilities include building local, relevant brands; expanding and pursuing new networks marketing opportunities as well as supporting advertiser sales for existing networks brands such as AXN, SET, Animax, SPIN, ONE and MAX and their brand extensions.”

Lubensky was most recently senior vice president, affiliate marketing for media networks across Disney and ESPN.

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One of the Famous 'Hitchcock Blondes' to Appear on 'Cougar Town'

An actress known for an iconic role in an Alfred Hitchcock movie -- and for being one of the last “Hitchcock blondes” -- is on her way to “Cougar Town.” TV Guide reports that Tippi Hedren, who played the lead in Hitchcock's "The Birds," is set for a guest spot on the TBS series.

Besides her landmark performance in “The Birds” in 1963, Hedren starred in Hitchcock’s “Marnie” in 1964. She made a guest appearance earlier this season on the Fox comedy “Raising Hope.”

Hedren will play a Hollywood icon on “Cougar Town.” After the shoot, the longtime animal activist will head to Washington to testify in support of the Exotic Wild Animal Safety Act, the piece notes.

"Cougar Town" premieres Tuesday, Jan. 8, at 10 p.m. ET on TBS.

tippi-hedren.jpgTippi Hedren

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Syndicated Talk Show Canceled After Second Season

A conflict-oriented syndicated talk show currently in its second season will not make it to season three. B&C reports that Debmar-Mercury's "Jeremy Kyle" won't return to television after this season.

The popularity of the British talk-show host never translated to American audiences, the story notes.

In a statement, Debmar-Mercury Co-Presidents Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein said: "This is in no way a reflection of the quality of the show. Backed by a first-rate production team, Jeremy was amazing and showed all of us why he is such a rock star in the U.K."

They added: "Unfortunately, talk shows like this simply take time to build and, while we were seeing ratings progress in many markets, it wasn't enough to justify going forward with another season."

The show launched on Fox and Sinclair-owned stations, and lasted longer in syndication than was expected since it had only an average 0.5 live plus same day household rating, the story notes. The program was financially viable into its second year because it had strong international clearances, the piece adds.

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'Workaholics' Actor Dies of Apparent Heart Attack

An actor known for his role on the Comedy Central series "Workaholics" has died after suffering an apparent heart attack. TMZ.com reports that Jessie Hudson, who played "Jet Set" on the show, died suddenly in Los Angeles.

The actor reportedly bought Alka Seltzer, a bottle of water, and some milk at a Pasadena convenience store on the night of Dec. 13, and was in such a hurry that he left without getting change. When the clerk followed him to give him his money, he found Hudson slumped over his car. Paramedics soon arrived and pronounced him dead, saying the signs indicated a heart attack, according to the story.

"All of us at Comedy Central and within the ‘Workaholics’ family are deeply saddened to learn of Jet Set’s sudden passing," a representative at Comedy Central said.

jet-set-hudson.jpgJessie “Jet Set” Hudson

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Fox News Channel Anchor Re-Ups

Fox News Channel has signed one of its veteran anchors to a new contract, TVNewser.com reports. Under the new, multiyear deal, morning anchor Martha MacCallum will stay on as co-anchor of "America's Newsroom" from 9-11 a.m. with Bill Hemmer.

MacCallum joined the network in 2004, anchoring "Fox News Live" and "The Live Desk" before moving to "America's Newsroom."

In a statement, Fox News CEO Roger Ailes said: “Martha brings unique enthusiasm and talent to delivering the news and connects incredibly well with our viewers. We look forward to her continuing to play a valuable role in the network’s success.”

MacCallum, who was at CNBC before moving to Fox News, has been a part of the channel’s coverage of the 2004, 2008 and 2012 elections, Hurricane Katrina and other top stories.

martha-maccallum.jpgMartha MacCallum

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Popular TV Actress Is Sued Over Series in the Works at ABC

A well-known television sitcom actress has been sued over her upcoming ABC comedy, TheWrap.com reports. Collective Management Group filed suit against Leah Remini over her yet-to-air sitcom "Family Tools."

The company, which formerly managed Remini, claims it's owed $67,000 in commissions, the piece reports. CMG says in the complaint, filed Tuesday, that it made an agreement with Remini in November 2011 that guaranteed 10% of earnings from projects she "discussed, negotiated, contemplated, or procured/booked during Plaintiff's representation of Remini," regardless of whether the money was earned after she and the company split, the story says.

The lawsuit claims the $1 million it says the actress will earn on the first season of "Family Tools" is subject to the agreement, excluding a $330,000 talent holding fee that the company says isn't subject to the commission, according to the report.

Remini's agent didn't respond to a request for comment, the story says.

Remini, who has appeared on “The Talk,” “Saved by the Bell,” “The Young and the Restless” and many other TV shows, is best known for her role as Carrie Heffernan, the wife of Kevin James’ character on “The King of Queens.”

leah-remini2.jpgLeah Remini

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Letterman Ready to Dish on Himself -- Including His Sex Scandal and His Feud With Leno -- in Interview With Oprah

"Late Show" host David Letterman will talk with Oprah Winfrey about his sex scandal and his battle with depression in an interview that will air next month, the Oprah Winfrey Network announced. 

OWN said in a press release: "On 'Oprah’s Next Chapter,' Oprah Winfrey sits down with Letterman at his alma mater, Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. No question is off-limits as Letterman candidly speaks about the public sex scandal that rocked his marriage, his personal relationships with 'Tonight Show' hosts Johnny Carson and Jay Leno, how he repaired his marriage, his battle with depression, and for the first time, Winfrey reveals to Letterman the true reason behind their much-publicized 'feud.'”

The interview, taped late last month, will air Jan. 6 on "Oprah's Next Chapter" on Winfrey’s OWN network.

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FCC on 'Verge of Making a Bad Situation Worse,' Say an Independent Senator and a Former FCC Member

"The Federal Communications Commission may be on the verge of making a bad situation worse. It is considering a rule change that would clear the way for even more media consolidation. All Americans should be deeply concerned."

So write Sen. Bernie Sanders (Ind.-Vermont) and former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps in an opinion piece on the Politico website

The rule change under consideration involves cross-ownership of media properties. Sanders and Copps write that the last time this rule was debated was in 2007, and then-Senator Barack Obama was against the change.

They add: "Now the FCC is at it again. The commission’s latest proposal would allow more media consolidation by eliminating a ban on cross-ownership in the top 20 media markets. The FCC changes would allow one corporation to own a major newspaper, two television stations and up to eight radio stations, and to provide Internet service all in one market. That would mean fewer voices, less local control and more corporate media consolidation. Although the proposed FCC rule would retain a 'presumption' against newspaper ownership by a top-four television station owner in a given market, there is an escape hatch that lets the FCC waive that presumption. Moreover, the new rule would assume a presumption in favor of cross-ownership of major newspapers by television station owners outside of the top four, which means in some cases the new rules would actually favor further consolidation."

To read the entire argument why Sanders and Copps are against the rule change, we urge you to click on the link above.

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'Project Runway' Judge Leaving Show After 10 Seasons

A designer who has judged "Project Runway" for all of its 10 seasons won't be around for the show's 11th season. Deadline.com reports that Michael Kors is off the show.

Designer Zac Posen will take his place as featured judge, the story adds.

Kors' schedule was cited as the reason, with the designer unable to commit to all the dates for filming the 11th season, which was shot back-to-back with the 10th season, the piece notes.

"Michael will be seen in the future on the show and we are excited to confirm that Michael will be back as a judge for season 11 finale," Lifetime said.

The show returns Jan. 24 for season 11.

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CNN's Soledad O'Brien Says She's Not Concerned About Reports That Jeff Zucker May Move Erin Burnett to Soledad's Morning Time Slot

Soledad O'Brien says she's not concerned about reports that incoming CNN President Jeff Zucker may move Erin Burnett into Soledad's time slot.

Here's an excerpt from a New York Times Magazine interview with O'Brien conducted by Andrew Goldman:

Andrew Goldman: Jeff Zucker, who rose to the top of NBCUniversal after producing “Today,” was just named head of CNN Worldwide, and he reportedly plans to immediately focus on your morning show, which is behind in the ratings. How scared are you?

Soledad O'Brien: Not at all. He was my boss years ago when I worked at the “Today” show. I’m absolutely thrilled to have him back.

Goldman: But can you seriously be so calm, considering that the New York Post reported that Zucker’s considering moving Erin Burnett to your slot?

O'Brien: Listen, I have been doing this gig for a while. People go crazy with speculation every time there’s a shift in leadership. I can’t comment on every rumor, but so far I’ve read reports on me, Anderson, Piers, Ann Curry and Erin Burnett, and all that’s clear to me is that somebody’s busy dialing Page Six.

Goldman: Who? Can you be a little more specific?

O'Brien: Nope.

Goldman: When you were weekend co-host of "Today," you said that the recognition you got for softer stories, like one about a trapeze school, felt "a little hollow." Would you be willing to go lighter now?

O'Brien: I’m fairly confident that I’m not going to be cooking salmon and doing fashion shows on CNN.

Goldman: But Zucker has said that CNN is not only competing with MSNBC and Fox News but also with History and the Discovery Channel, which produce shows like "Pawn Stars" and "American Chopper."

O'Brien: If you’ve ever seen "American Chopper," you know they have created something that is riveting. I don’t think he’s saying we’re going to do "American Chopper II." I think he’s saying we are going to assume that everybody is our competition. He knows how to win.

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History Sets Airdate for Ambitious Bible Docudrama

History said its high-profile five-part, 10-hour docudrama "The Bible," from executive producer Mark Burnett, will debut March 3, Deadline.com reports.

The show, which is also executive produced by Burnett's wife, Roma Downey, who plays Mary, combines CGI and live action to portray the events of the Bible, the piece notes. Burnett has been working on the project for two years.

The cast also includes Sean Teale of "Skins" and David Rintoul of "My Week With Marilyn." Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado will play Jesus.

Diogo-Morgado.jpgDiogo Morgado

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Fox's $6.1 Billion Dodgers Deal in Limbo

The $6.1 billion television rights contract between Fox Sports and the Los Angeles Dodgers is in limbo, as the team and Major League Baseball negotiate over how the money will be split with the league, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The new TV contract with Fox Sports would create a Dodgers-branded regional sports network, with Dick Clark Productions managing it, the piece adds.

The Dodgers reportedly want to structure the deal so that the team keeps most of the money, but MLB wants its "full cut of revenue sharing from any TV deal," the story reports.

Under the deal negotiated between Fox and the Dodgers, the first $84.5 million of licensing revenue would be shared with MLB, which then shares the money with all teams to help teams in smaller markets, the story adds.

The dispute is over a $100 million annual dividend from the regional sports network, with MLB arguing it's part of the TV revenue and subject to profit sharing, according to the article. The Dodgers, however, believe it's a bonus for the risk the owners took when they bought the team, and the MLB shouldn't share in it, the piece reports.

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Broadway Drama About Prejudice Becomes Project at HBO

A Broadway drama that tracks an African-American family's weekend at Martha's Vineyard is in development at HBO. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the pay-cable network has given a script commitment to "Stick Fly."

The project will be executive produced by Nelle Nugent and Alicia Keys, who produced and contributed original music to the show, the story adds. Playwright Lydia Diamond will write the adaptation and will also executive produce.

The Broadway production, which was about the secrets of prejudice and adultery, ran from November 2011 to February 2012 and starred Dule Hill of "Psych" and Mekhi Phifer of "ER."

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'Hacking the Planet' Gets Green Light

"Hacking the Planet," a new series that attempts to change the course of nature, received a go-ahead from the Weather Channel, reports Variety. Weather Channel ordered six 30-minute episodes. The show will premiere Feb. 28 at 9 p.m. ET.

Former "Scientific American" editor-in-chief John Rennie will host "Hacking," which follows scientists as they try to prevent, weaken or redirect threatening weather events including hurricanes, tornadoes and volcanic eruptions.

In a statement, Michael Dingley, senior VP of content and development for Weather Channel, said, "It simply defies nature to think that humans could prevent rain for disrupting a sporting event or use lasers to draw lightning away from sensitive areas like nuclear power plants. If any of these experiments are successful, it's truly mind-boggling to think what that could mean for our future."

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Is Rosie O'Donnell Headed to 'America's Got Talent'?

The replacement for Sharon Osbourne on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” -- if a current judge on the show has his way -- will be Rosie O’Donnell, The Huffington Post reports.

The show has confirmed that Howard Stern will be back as a judge when the series resumes in summer 2013. “And although no ‘official’ word has been confirmed yet as to who will be joining him, Howard has made it clear he would love to be sitting next to Rosie O'Donnell,” the story reports.

The report quotes a friend of Stern saying: "Rosie and Howard have had a tough past but now they are great friends. He thinks she is a great talent and will bring a new energy to that show."

Stern replaced Piers Morgan on the show earlier this year. In the meantime, Osbourne had a falling-out with NBC over its treatment of her son Jack on the reality show “Stars Earn Stripes,” and Osbourne announced she wouldn’t be back on “Talent.”

The piece cites a network insider saying: "NBC wants to keep Howard happy, and the chemistry between the judges is what makes the show a huge success. Just think what Rosie did when she joined 'The View' -- suddenly the show became must-see TV again. At the moment, a list of names exists, but if it were solely up to Howard, Rosie would get the job."

O’Donnell commented for the report, saying if she were offered the job she would consider it.

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NBC Doubles Down on Game Shows

NBC is adding a new game show to a network portfolio that already includes "Deal or No Deal," "Minute to Win It," "Who’s Still Standing" and the new Howie Mandel show “Take It All.”

Deadline.com reports that the network is adding “Hollywood Game Night,” an hour game format executive produced by “Will & Grace” alum Sean Hayes.

“The series, which has received an eight-episode order, is based on the actor-producer’s real-life ‘game nights,’ featuring A-list celebrities hanging out and living it up in a cocktail party atmosphere,” the piece reports. “In each episode, two contestants will be transported from their everyday lives into a night of fun and celebration where they get to rub shoulders with the celebrity crowd. At the end, one of the contestants will walk away with a cash prize and a night of stories and memories.”

Said Paul Telegdy, NBC president of alternative programming: “We are proud to be in business with Sean Hayes, who creatively brings so many good ideas such as this new game show romp that will be raucous and entertaining. Our audience will feel as if they are part of the party as we pull back the curtain on how today’s Hollywood stars play at home while our contestants can earn big money.”

The network originally ordered a pilot for the project back in summer 2011, the report notes.

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Beauty Trumped -- to the Tune of $5 Million -- in Ugly Legal Battle Over Miss Universe Pageant

Donald Trump won a $5 million ruling in a nasty legal battle with former Miss USA hopeful Sheena Monnin, the New York Post reports. Monnin, who won the state title for Pennsylvania, had become disenchanted with the beauty pageant, calling it “fixed” and “trashy.”

“Monnin quit the competition in June, claiming a fellow contestant had seen a list containing the top five winners before they were officially announced. She blasted the pageant as ‘fraudulent, lacking in morals, inconsistent and in many ways trashy,’” the story reports.

“That didn’t go down well with The Donald, who fired back that he was suing on behalf of the Miss Universe Organization, which filed an arbitration action in New York.”

The ruling from retired U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Theodore H. Katz came down late last week. “Katz ruled that Monnin defamed the Miss Universe Organization, and awarded it $5 million in damages,” the piece reports. “He found that ‘the method in which the Miss USA Pageant is judged ... precludes any reasonable possibility that the judging was rigged.’ Katz stated that Monnin’s ‘defamatory’ statements ‘were false’ and ‘showed a reckless disregard.’”

Trump, who called Monnin’s actions “disgraceful,” added: “We cannot allow a disgruntled contestant to make false and reckless statements which are damaging to the many people who have devoted their hearts and souls to the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageant systems.”

Commenting on Monnin, Trump added: “She was angry that she lost, she went on the ‘Today’ show and she said really bad stuff. You can’t rig the celebrity judges. Ernst & Young tabulate the results, and they were unbelievably upset about her comments.

“Going to arbitration was the appropriate action to take under the circumstances, and while I feel very badly for Sheena, she did the wrong thing. She was really nasty, and we had no choice. It is an expensive lesson for her.”

sheena-monnin2.jpgSheena Monnin

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First Casualty of Carriage Rate Squeeze: Time Warner Cable Dumps Channel

In what is being called the first casualty of a stricter stance on carriage rates, cable giant Time Warner will drop the arts channel Ovation at the end of the year, Variety reports.

The move comes just a couple of weeks after the cable company’s CEO, Glenn Britt, warned that some networks are driving up costs without delivering viewers, as previously reported.

Ovation’s carriage contract with Time Warner Cable expires at midnight Dec. 31, and the network said it is poised to be taken off TWC systems at that time.

In a statement, the network said: "Such an action by Time Warner Cable would negatively impact millions of Time Warner Cable customers who will no longer have access to Ovation's unique arts programming.”

Ovation CEO Charles Segars added: "Our plan has been to grow Ovation as fast as possible in all key metrics. In a few short years since taking over the network, we have achieved that plan."

Ovation is in 55 million homes, the report notes, and has seen its total day household ratings climb 55% year over year.

The report notes: “Brad Samuels, Ovation's exec VP of content distribution, said Time Warner is investing heavily in sports but TW Cable execs have ‘chosen to limit their customers' viewing options by cutting the only arts network in their lineup. … For pennies a month, TWC can continue to offer its customers the only network dedicated to the arts and continue to take part in vital arts and arts education programs for the communities they serve.’"

The piece adds: “Escalating sports programming costs have operators pulling out their hair, but sports still draws eyeballs. Time Warner Cable has invested $3 billion for a 20-year deal to telecast the Los Angeles Lakers games and created L.A.-based regional net Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Deportes for Spanish speakers.”

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Monday Prime Time: Comedies Power CBS to Narrow Win; Premiere Numbers Are In for New NBC Series

CBS got a solid ratings performance from its comedy block Monday night and eked out a narrow win over NBC, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that CBS’s special one-hour “How I Met Your Mother” delivered a 3.4 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, up two-tenths of a ratings point from last week. “2 Broke Girls” was down three-tenths, but still was the network’s top-rated show with a 3.5. “Mike and Molly” ticked up two-tenths to a 3.3. The 10 p.m. drama “Hawaii Five-0” slipped slightly to a 2.4, down from a 2.5 a week earlier.

NBC had the top show of the night, with the 90-minute performance finale of “The Voice” notching a 4.1 rating in 18-49 -- up three-tenths from last week and up three-tenths from the previous cycle’s performance finale. NBC’s “1600 Penn” premiered to a 2.3, while “Take It All” settled for a 1.5.

Fox’s lineup of holiday specials had modest results. “Dreamworks Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury” delivered a 1.5 in adults 18-49, while a repeat of “Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas” also drew a 1.5 and a repeat of the chestnut “Happiness Is a Warm Blanket Charlie Brown” managed only a 0.9.

ABC’s fifth-place performance for prime time overall was built around two episodes of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (1.0 and 1.2 averages in the 18-49 demo) and a repeat of “Castle” (1.1).

For prime time overall, CBS finished with a 3.1 average rating in viewers 18-49, followed closely by NBC (2.9 average), and trailed by Univision (1.4), Fox (1.2) and ABC (1.1). CBS also claimed a narrow win in total viewers, averaging 9.8 million to NBC’s 9.3 million, ABC’s 4.8 million, Univision’s 3.6 million and Fox’s 3.3 million.

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ABC Lines Up High-Powered Guests for Kimmel's Upcoming Move to 11:35 p.m.

“Jimmy Kimmel Live” moves up to the 11:35 p.m. ET/PT (10:35 p.m. CT) slot in ABC’s late-night lineup -- and out of its long-held midnight slot -- starting Jan. 8, and the network is backing up the move with a strong slate of guests.

Among the celebrities on tap for guest spots early in the run are Jennifer Aniston, Ryan Gosling, Sofía Vergara, Ellen DeGeneres, Rob Lowe, Jamie Foxx, Mark Wahlberg, Amy Brenneman, Nicki Minaj, Mindy Kaling, Julie Bowen, Naomi Watts and Kim and Kourtney Kardashian.

Aniston is reportedly set for the first show in the new slot, Jan. 8, along with musical guests No Doubt. Other musical performances set for the first few shows include Brad Paisley, Bruno Mars and LeAnn Rimes.

To make room for “Kimmel,” the network is moving the half-hour news program “Nightline” to an hour later start time, leading out from “Kimmel.”

ABC notes in its announcement: “On average for the 2012-13 season, ABC’s ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ is up over the same point last season by 7% in total viewers (1.985 million vs. 1.854 million), marking its biggest-ever audience through this point in a broadcast year. In addition, ‘JKL’ is the only late-night network talk show to grow its overall audience year over year.”

The show marks its 10th anniversary Jan. 26, 2013.

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Twitter and Nielsen Partner to Create New TV-Related Metric

Social media service Twitter and ratings provider Nielsen Holdings are creating a partnership to measure the online chatter generated by television shows, reports Bloomberg.

Called the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating, the service will be available in the second half of 2013, the story reports.

The service could help networks and advertisers by tracking which shows are most discussed online.

“If a show had a big audience and, on top of that, a lot of people were tweeting about it, it shows that the audience was not only watching, but they were engaging and paying attention,” said Todd Juenger, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

One-third of active Twitter users wrote about something they saw on TV in June, up from 26% of Twitter users at the start of 2012, the story adds.

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Tom Cruise Has a $13.5 Million Christmas Present for His 6-Year-Old Daughter

Just hours after a report surfaced that Suri Cruise was receiving lavish Christmas presents from her mom, Katie Holmes -- with The Huffington Post reporting a $24,000 playhouse as the centerpiece of a $49,000 bounty -- Suri’s dad, Tom Cruise, reportedly upped the ante in a big way.

New Zealand news site TVNZ is reporting that the actor bought Suri a $13.5 million house for Christmas -- along with a pony.

“The Hollywood actor, 50, will have custody of 6-year-old Suri for Christmas and is splashing out on lavish gifts including the multi-million [dollar] home in upstate New York so she can have a place to keep her pony and all of her other toys, including a $30,000 miniature race car he bought for her in 2010,” TVNZ reports.

Cruise and Holmes divorced earlier this year, as reported previously.

Among the other gifts Suri is set to haul in from her mom, according to a report in the U.K. publication The Sun: an iPad mini, a kids’ Mercedes, a Ralph Lauren dress and a Chloe fur coat.

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Report: NBC Has a Replacement in Mind for Jay Leno When His Contract Runs Out in 2014

NBC executives are reportedly considering replacing Jay Leno as host of "The Tonight Show" when Leno's current contract expires in 2014, writes Don Kaplan in the New York Daily News, and the latest rumblings have them moving late-late-night host Jimmy Fallon into the job.

"Somewhere Conan O’Brien is probably smiling," Kaplan notes.

Network brass appear to be considering how to tap into the generational shift in late-night viewing, with ABC planning to court younger viewers when it moves Jimmy Kimmel to 11:35 p.m., switching places with "Nightline," the story notes. Late-night audiences have been getting younger for some time now, the report says.

Talent agents have been contacted by NBC executives, who are looking for a late-late host to take over Fallon's 12:35 a.m. time period, according to the report.

"Of course, as these rumblings may prove, Jay could always be pushed -- but he’s proven over the years that he’s harder to kill than Dracula," Kaplan adds.

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Discovery Pulls Plug on Series About Guns

Just days after the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Discovery has canceled the docu-reality show "American Guns," Deadline.com reports.

The show, which tracks a family of gun makers, has drawn angry messages on its Facebook page after the Sandy Hook school shooting, in which six adults and 20 children were killed by a 20-year-old whose mother was a gun collector, the story notes. The shooter also killed his mother, at her home, and eventually killed himself.

But Discovery maintains the decision to cancel the show after its second season was made a while ago.

“'American Guns' concluded earlier this year,” a spokesperson said. “Discovery Channel chose not to renew the series and has no plans to air repeats of the show.”

The decision to avoid airing repeats appears to indicate that the Connecticut killings had something to do with the decision, the report notes.

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Two Canceled Soap Operas Close In on Relaunch After Coming to Terms With Actors Guild

After hitting a snag in its attempt to revive two canceled ABC soap operas last year, the production company behind the effort appears to have the project back on track.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Prospect Park has reached an agreement with SAG-AFTRA that could mean production will launch as soon as January on "All My Children" and "One Life to Live."

Prospect Park, which is also the production company behind FX’s “Wilfred” and USA’s “Royal Pains,” is trying to revive the soaps as online programs. The company is also in talks with the DGA and the WGA, the story adds.

Prospect Park’s initial plans to relaunch the series online fell through a little more than a year ago, in November 2011.

Actors from both soaps are in discussions to return for the relaunch, the story notes. Prospect Park declined to comment.

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'Hackerazzi' Gets 10 Years in Prison in Case Involving Naked Pics of Scarlett Johansson and Other Celebs

A Florida man who was caught in the FBI’s “Operation Hackerazzi” after hacking into celebrities’ e-mail accounts has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, CNN reports.

“Christopher Chaney, 36, stole nude photos, scripts and personal information from the e-mail accounts of 50 entertainment industry figures,” the piece reports, “including movie stars Scarlett Johansson and Mila Kunis and singer Christina Aguilera, prosecutors said.

“The FBI's Los Angeles office busted Chaney last year during its ‘Operation Hackerazzi,’ which looked into computer intrusions targeting individuals associated with the entertainment industry.”

Chaney was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to 120 months in prison and ordered to pay $66,179 in restitution. He pleaded guilty perviously to wiretapping charges, the report notes, and has been in custody since March.

The piece adds: “Without a plea deal, he could have faced 121 years in prison if convicted on all 26 charges, the U.S. attorney said.”

Said U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr.: "Mr. Chaney is responsible for causing dozens of illegally obtained, private photographs to be posted on the Internet, where they were available for all to see. This case is a sobering reminder that cybercrime poses a very real threat to every American, and everyone should take steps to safeguard their identities and personal information on the Internet."

Johansson has opened up about feeling “paranoid” after the invasion of her privacy, as previously reported.

scarlett-johansson3.jpgScarlett Johansson

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NBC News Team Freed After Being Held Captive in Syria

An NBC News team was freed in Syria after being held prisoner for five days by unidentified captors, reports NBC News.

NBC News' Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel, 39, and members of his production team were freed after a firefight at a checkpoint, the story says. The team was unharmed and has safely left the country.

It's not believed that the captors were loyal to the Assad regime, the piece adds.

Engel disappeared last Thursday after he and his team crossed into northwest Syria from Turkey. During the time the team was missing, NBC had no contact with the captors and received no request for ransom, according to the article.

The members of the team were blindfolded, bound and tossed into the back of a truck, but weren't otherwise harmed during their captivity.

While being moved to a new location, their captors ran into a checkpoint manned by a Syrian rebel group, leading to the firefight Monday evening. Two of their captors were killed, while others escaped, according to the article.

NBC News said it “expressed its gratitude to those who worked to gather information and secure the release of our colleagues.”

Engel has served as chief foreign correspondent for NBC News since April 2008, and joined the network in 2003.

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'Jersey Shore' Star Reportedly Poised to Ditch MTV for Another Network

One of the stars of “Jersey Shore” has been stalling about re-upping with MTV because a better offer may be in the works at E! Network, according to inside sources cited by TMZ.com.

E! reportedly has a new show in mind for Pauly D -- Paul DelVecchio -- and according to sources the channel is offering more money than what MTV, which wants to renew "The Pauly D Project" for a second season, is putting on the table.

The report says DelVecchio has had three meetings about the E! project and is close to signing a new deal with the network. The show would focus more on his entire life, rather than singling out his career as a DJ, the story adds.

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Fox Reschedules Pulled 'Family Guy' Episode; 'American Dad' and 'Haven' Remain on Hold

Fox has rescheduled the original animated episode of "Family Guy" that was pulled in the wake of last week's Connecticut school shooting, reports Deadline.com.

The "Family Guy" episode will air this coming Sunday, after the network pulled it in favor of a repeat, as previously reported. While the episode doesn’t contain violence, it makes fun of religion in way that was considered inappropriate in the wake of the tragedy, the story says.

There's no new airdate yet for the pulled "American Dad" episode, which does include gun violence, the story adds.

The Syfy drama "Haven," meanwhile, likely won't air its pulled episode until mid-January because it depicts violence, according to the piece.

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After Sandy Hook Tragedy, TLC Postpones Special Focused on Funerals

A new one-hour special called "Best Funeral Ever" has been postponed by TLC after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn., reports the New York Post.

The special had been scheduled to air Dec. 27, but now will air Jan. 6, following a Honey Boo Boo Halloween special. TLC will instead air an episode of "Toddlers & Tiaras" in its December time slot.

“Best Funeral Ever” focuses on themed funerals offered by the Golden Gate Funeral Home in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. TLC execs determined that the scheduled airing was inappropriate so soon after the Connecticut tragedy.

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Pair Who Worked Together on NBC Drama 'Awake' Reunite for TNT Project

A new project in the works at TNT will reunite an actor and producer who collaborated on the midseason NBC drama "Awake."

Deadline.com reports that Howard Gordon's pilot "Legends" has cast Steve Harris in a co-starring role. The project is based on the novel by Robert Littell and focuses on a deep-cover CIA operative named Martin Odum, played by Sean Bean.

Harris, whose resume also includes “The Practice,” will play Yates, the director of the task force who reinstates Odum to an undercover job. Gordon (“Homeland”) is executive producing.

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Fox Buys Tennis Comedy From Producer Behind 'The Office'

Fox has bought a comedy about a pro tennis player from Greg Daniels, who developed the U.S. version of "The Office," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The untitled project will focus on a mid-level pro tennis player who returns to his college town to get his life back on track.

"The Office" is set to end after its current ninth season, and plans for a spinoff called "The Farm" were canceled earlier this season. Daniels has other projects set up this development season, including three comedies at NBC and a workplace vehicle at ABC, the story notes.

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Two Sketch Comedy Veterans Working on Family Sitcom for ABC

Two veterans of sketch comedy from the 1990s are working together on a family comedy for ABC. Joe Adalian reports in New York Magazine's Vulture blog that the project is in the works from Ben Stiller and Michael Ian Black.

"You're Not Doing It Right" is based on Black's memoir of the same name. He will write and star in the project, and executive produce with Stiller, Debbie Liebling and Stuart Confeld.

"While it's way too early in development season to start making specific predictions about where shows might end up, it's very easy to imagine 'You're Not Doing It Right' as part of ABC's Wednesday comedy block, perhaps adjacent to 'Modern Family,’" Adalian writes.

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Nielsen Rolls Out Plans to Extend Ratings Monopoly to Radio

In a move that extends Nielsen’s monopoly reach on TV ratings to also include the U.S. radio market, the company announced plans today to buy Arbitron for $1.26 billion, Advertising Age reports.

“Nielsen, already by far the largest research company in the world, will add the No. 9 player in the 2012 Honomichl 25 rankings of research companies, creating a company with a combined revenue of around $6 billion -- nearly double the $3.3 billion 2011 sales of No. 2 research player, WPP's Kantar,” the piece reports.

The deal requires regulatory approval, which could be complicated by the fact that Arbitron and Nielsen have been potential competitors for some time, the report notes.

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After Tackling Dylan and the Stones, Martin Scorsese Aims His Cameras at the 'Rock Star President' for New HBO Documentary

Legendary film director Martin Scorsese has increasingly turned his attention to documentaries in recent years, and his subjects have often been rock stars: Bob Dylan in the 2005 “American Masters” project “No Direction Home”; the Rolling Stones in the 2008 film “Shine a Light”; and George Harrison in the 2011 HBO piece “Living in the Material World.”

Next up for Scorsese will be an HBO project focusing on a former U.S. president who has been described as the first “rock star president” -- Bill Clinton. The Los Angeles Times reports that Scorsese will produce and direct a Clinton doc for the pay-cable channel.

Clinton is cooperating with the project, which will focus on his time in office and the years since he left the White House, the piece reports.

In a joint statement, HBO Chief Executive Richard Plepler and programming President Michael Lombardo said: “President Clinton is one of the most compelling figures of our time, whose world view and perspective, combined with his uncommon intelligence, make him a singular voice on the world stage. This documentary, under Marty’s gifted direction, creates a unique opportunity for the President to reflect on myriad issues that have consumed his attention and passion throughout both his Presidency and post-Presidency.”

The project expands on Scorsese’s already strong relationship with HBO, including executive producing the series “Boardwalk Empire.”

HBO unveiled “41,” a documentary about George H.W. Bush, earlier this year.

No air date has been announced for the new project, on which Steve Bing will serve as a producer.

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ABC's 'Bachelorette' Special Tanks, CBS's 'Survivor' Finale Has Ho-Hum Turnout ... and NBC Wins Big With Football

On a night when live NFL telecasts and coverage of news including President Obama’s address about the Newtown, Conn., school tragedy jumbled the broadcast schedule and impacted ratings measurement, NBC rolled to a fairly easy win Sunday night, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC, which carried “Sunday Night Football” along with the presidential address, averaged a 6.2 rating for prime time in the key demo of adults 18-49. But the report notes that the numbers are more scrambled than usual and will be subject to significant adjustments.

Trailing NBC in prime time was CBS with a 4.9 average rating in the 18-49 demo, well ahead of Fox (1.5 average), Univision (1.2) and ABC (1.1). CBS managed a narrow win in total viewers, averaging 17.0 million to 16.7 million for NBC, trailed by ABC (4.2 million), Fox (3.4 million) and Univision (3.1 million).

The finale for CBS’s “Survivor: Philippines” fell short of the number for the finale a year ago, settling for a 3.2 average in 18-49 -- shy of last year’s 4.0. But the latest number was up four-tenths of a ratings point from last week’s show, and an improvement from the 2.9 for last spring’s finale.

ABC had a feeble turnout for its reality special “The Bachelorette: Ashley and JP’s Wedding,” which managed only a 0.9 in adults 18-49.

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Well-Known Film Actor Will Revive the Character Telly Savalas Made Famous in 'Kojak'

Universal, which is picking up momentum with its remake of the 1970s TV detective series "Kojak," has found its lead actor. Vin Diesel will take on the role -- and suck the lollipop -- made famous by Telly Savalas, reports Deadline.com.

The writers of the new hit James Bond film "Skyfall," Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, will pen the script for the new feature film version.

"Kojak" began as a hit 1973 TV movie called "The Marcus-Nelson Murders," but was quickly turned into a series that starred Savalas as Lt. Theo Kojak, a New York City Police detective. Oscar-winning writer Abby Mann created the telefilm and CBS series.

Diesel and Samatha Vincent are producing the movie for their Universal-based banner One Race Films, Deadline notes. Diesel reportedly recently finished shooting for “Fast and Furious 6.”

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E! Moves Forward With Art Gallery Drama

In an effort to add to its growing development slate of scripted programming, E! has opted for a new drama about the art world called "Gallerina," reports Deadline.com.

"Freaky Friday" director-producer Mark Waters will executive produce the hour show, working from a script by Michelle McGrath.

The project is set in the Los Angeles art scene, focusing on the Bettencourt Gallery, where a young woman works to make a name for herself. Mike Tollin is also part of the production team, with Tollin Productions' Ben Spector co-executive producing the show.

E! announced its first slate of scripted programming back in April, the piece notes.

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AMC Orders Cop Drama to Series

AMC has greenlighted a new police drama series, placing an order for 10 episodes of the show, B&C reports. The series, "Low Winter Sun," is based on a two-part British miniseries of the same name that aired six years ago.

AMC Studio and Endemol will set the show in Detroit, following a story in which a detective kills another cop and finds himself sucked into the city's dark underworld. Mark Strong ("Syriana") and Lennie James ("Jericho") will star in the show.

Former "Criminal Minds" vet Chris Mundy is set to be writer, executive producer and showrunner for the series.

In other AMC news, an untitled pilot from writer Richard LaGravenese ("The Mirror Has Two Faces," "The Fisher King") is still a potential 2013 series pickup.

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Morgan Freeman a Victim of Hoax Related to School Tragedy

Social media blew up over the weekend with Oscar winner Morgan Freeman's reaction to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., but it turned out the words were not the actor's, reports TheWrap.com.

Freeman's publicist Stan Rosenfield declared Sunday that Freeman did not post anything or issue a statement. Freeman's camp was attempting to find the perpetrator of the hoax.

The fake statement was incendiary, saying in part, "It’s because of the way the media reports it. Turn on the news and see how we treat the 'Batman' theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you know the name of a single 'victim' of Columbine? Disturbed people who would otherwise just off themselves in their basement see the news and want to top it by doing something worse and going out in a memorable way. Why a grade school? Why children? Because he’ll be remembered as a horrible monster instead of a sad nobody.”

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Critics Blast TV Coverage of Sandy Hook Shootings, Focusing on Interviews With Frightened Children

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings, viewers and critics have taken aim at television coverage that included interviews with frightened children outside the school, reports TVNewser.com.

Time magazine's James Poniewozik writes that aiming cameras at the children -- even before they were aware of what was happening -- was wrong and went against guidelines suggested by the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma.

"It was arresting. It was heartbreaking. And it was rash, unnecessary and wrong," he writes. "There is no good journalistic reason to put a child at a mass-murder scene on live TV, permission of the parents or not. There’s not even a bad-but-practical reason to do it, beyond getting buzz and adding ‘color’ to a story. No one learned anything they couldn’t have from talking to people off-camera and privately."

According to the Dart Center, journalists should "avoid interviewing children at the scene. They are very likely in shock and need comfort, not questioning."

Politico's Mackenzie Weinger writes that some believe the media attention can make the trauma worse for children. "From a clinical point of view, Dr. Steve Marans, a Yale psychiatry professor and the director of the National Center for Children Exposed to Violence, said interviewing a child after an overwhelming event 'can actually add to burdens children are already experiencing,’" the story reports.

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USA Network Bringing Back Western Hero From Early TV Days

A Western hero from television’s early days may ride again on USA Network. The cable channel is working on a present-day "Zorro" project set in Los Angeles, reports Variety.com.

The project, titled "Z," comes from executive producers Naren Shankar and Louis Leterrier and writers Whit Brayton and Zack Rice. It tracks an orphaned teenager who becomes a hero in modern-day Los Angeles, the story says.

Georgeville TV, which bought the rights to "Zorro" from John Gertz and Zorro Productions, is producing.

The Zorro character has been featured in a number of movies and TV shows over the years, going back to the silent era. The most familiar TV version of “Zorro” is probably the Disney series that originally aired on ABC from 1957-1959, in which Guy Williams appeared in the title role with Gene Sheldon portraying the hero’s mute manservant Bernardo.

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Hitman Who Was Basis for TV Character Dies at 58

A Baltmore hitman named Donnie Andrews, who was the inspiration for a popular television character, has died at 58 from heart complications, reports the Baltimore Sun. Andrews inspired the character Omar Little on HBO's lauded series "The Wire," the story reports.

Andrews developed a code while robbing rival dealers in West Baltimore, vowing never to involve women or children, the report notes. He later confessed to murder and helped authorities bring down a crime syndicate, and then took on the task of helping young people avoid the mistakes he made, the piece says.

"Andrews, whose full name was Larry Donnell Andrews, had been around violence most of his life, physically abused by his mother and watching at age 10 from behind a washing machine as a man was bludgeoned to death for 15 cents. He grew up in the housing projects of West Baltimore, where he was mentored by hustlers and drug dealers. He became a stick-up artist, robbing other drug dealers with a .44 Magnum," the story reports.

In 1986, he was hired by a drug kingpin to take on a contract killing. He later turned himself in, and never tried to get a lesser sentence, according to the former lead prosecutor, Charles Scheeler.

"I prosecuted hundreds of people but this was the only person this happened to,” said Scheeler. “Everyone else in his position has been ‘I will cooperate for less time.’ Donnie was ‘I will cooperate because I want to repent.’ I’ve never had anyone like that. He convinced me.”

David Simon, a former reporter at the Sun who created "The Wire," said, "Donnie wanted change, more than he wanted to breathe air."

Simon sent Andrews copies of the newspaper while he was in jail, and Andrews would call him with information about city crime. Simon later made him a consultant on "The Wire," and he became one of the inspirations for Omar, the story adds.

Andrews appeared on the TV show as part of Omar's crew, and died in a shootout scene where Omar jumps from a four-story building and escapes. Andrews said such an escape had happened to him, although he jumped from the sixth story, the piece adds.

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After School Shooting, Questions Raised About ABC Family Program

After the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, the question has been raised whether the ABC Family program "Socio" will make it to the air, writes Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

"'Socio’ is already darker than the typical ABC Family fare. Referred to as '“Dexter” in high school,' it centers on a charismatic 16-year-old alleged sociopath who returns to his hometown after serving time for murdering his aunt to rejoin his childhood friends, now in high school. He becomes the prime suspect when a fellow student is murdered," she writes.

The program is one of two ABC Family drama pilots that have been delivered, and while executives are said to like the project, the Sandy Hook killings raise questions about whether a network will proceed with a series order about school violence, Andreeva writes.

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Al Roker Sells Comedy to NBC; Show Has Same Title as ABC Family Project

"Today" show co-host Al Roker has sold a comedy to NBC in what Deadline.com calls a late buy. The project, called "The Fosters," will be executive produced by Roker, one of the network's top personalities.

The project is co-written by and stars Gary Anthony Williams of "Weeds," featuring him as a father with many foster children.

Roker became involved with the project because of his experience with foster children. The project will be co-written with Sindy McKay and comes from an idea by Williams, McKay, Larry Swerdlove and Scott Ward, the story says.

The project shouldn't be confused with another project with the same name, the ABC Family hourlong pilot "The Fosters," which is executive produced by Jennifer Lopez and is about a lesbian couple raising foster and biological children.

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Violent Programs Rescheduled After Sandy Hook School Massacre

After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, television programs on broadcast and cable were rescheduled because of violent content. Both Fox and Syfy shifted their schedules because of the massacre, reports Bill Carter in The New York Times' Media Decoder.

Syfy pulled an episode of "Haven" on Friday night because it contained scenes that included violence in a school, while Fox decided to replace episodes of the Sunday animated shows "Family Guy" and "American Dad."

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the reason for the Fox change was to avoid airing any potentially sensitive content in light of the shooting, which left 28 people dead, including 20 children.

Instead of airing all-new episodes of the animated programs, Fox aired repeats, the story notes.

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Gun Rights Advocates Missing From Sunday Talk Shows

The Sunday political talk shows were virtually absent of gun rights advocates, with the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School the major subject on the programs -- even though the shows tried to book some gun rights voices, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

"Meet the Press" featured New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an outspoken supporter of gun control policies, who restated his appeal for President Obama to take action, while the NBC show also included a visit from California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who said she would introduce an assault weapons ban in the new Congress.

The show's host, David Gregory, said the program "reached out to all 31 pro-gun-rights senators in the new Congress to invite them on the program to share their views on the subject this morning."

"We had no takers," he said.

Gregory meant that the senators were those who had received an "A" rating from gun rights groups, according to an email from "Meet the Press" executive producer Betsy Fischer.

The situation on CBS's "Face the Nation" was similar, the story adds. Host Bob Schieffer spoke to gun control supporters including Dan Gross of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and explained on air that the National Rifle Association had declined to appear on the show, as did the Republicans serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees guns.

The only pro-gun voice on the Sunday morning shows, the story notes, was Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert, who appeared on "Fox News Sunday.”

Speaking of the school's principal, who was killed in the attack, he said, "I wish to God she had an M4 in her office, locked up, so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out ... and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids.”

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ABC Developing Justin Bieber Sitcom

ABC is taking another swing at a Justin Bieber comedy project. The network is developing a single-camera comedy that's based on the pop star's life, reports TVGuide.com.

The comedy was set up at the network last year, but has been revived and is under consideration for the 2013-14 season. Bieber would executive produce with his manager, Scooter Braun, and the show would focus on the singer's life before he became famous.

Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi, whose credits include "Entourage," are writing the script and will also executive produce, the story reports.

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Project From 'Battlestar Galactica' Producer Among Top Contenders for Series Order at Syfy

Syfy is closing in on pickups, with a top contender said to be a project from "Battlestar Galactica" developer and executive producer Ron Moore, reports Deadline.com.

The project is “Helix,” which is about scientists investigating a possible outbreak of disease at an Antarctic research facility.

Another top contender is said to be "The Almighty Johnsons," a version of a New Zealand fantasy series about a family of reincarnated Norse gods, the story notes.

Syfy is reportedly considering straight-to-series orders, bypassing the traditional pilot pickups, the story says.

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NBC Denies Offering 'Today' Job to Pippa Middleton

NBC has denied a report in a U.K. newspaper that it is offering a role on the "Today" show to Pippa Middleton, the sister of the Duchess of Cambridge, reports the New York Daily News.

According to the U.K.'s Daily Mail, "Today" was about to offer Middleton $600,000 to become a royal correspondent, covering events such as the opening up of Buckingham Palace.

But a representative for NBC said "no such offer" has been made. "She of course is welcome as a guest on ‘Today’ anytime,” the NBC spokeswoman said.

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'Hunger Games' Star Tapped as 'Saturday Night Live' Host

"The Hunger Games" star Jennifer Lawrence will host the Jan. 19 episode of "Saturday Night Live," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

She will be joined by musical guest the Lumineers.

In its Saturday night broadcast, following the massacre Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, the NBC show skipped over its usual comedic opening sketch in favor of the New York City Children's Chorus singing "Silent Night.”

Here’s Saturday’s “SNL” opening:

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ABC Gives Pilot Order to 'How the F Am I Normal'

ABC has given a pilot order to "How the F Am I Normal," a comedy from "Breaking In" creator Adam F. Goldberg, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The project is said to be a "dysfunctional 'Wonder Years,’" set in the 1980s and inspired by Goldberg's childhood. Goldberg will write the comedy and executive produce it with Happy Madison's Doug Robinson and "Breaking In’s” Seth Gordon slated to direct and executive produce.

The comedy was first set up at Fox in 2011, and landed at ABC in September.

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Obama, During Speech at Newtown Vigil, Vows to 'use whatever power this office holds to engage our citizens ... to save another child or another parent or another town'

[Updated on 12/17/12 at 1:30 a.m. PT to include excerpt of official White House transcript of Obama's remarks.]

President Obama, speaking on Sunday night, Dec. 16, 2012, at a vigil in Newtown, Conn., vowed to "use whatever power this office holds to engage our citizens ... to save another child or another parent or another town."

Obama was referring to the massacre on Friday, Dec. 14, 2012 of 20 children and 7 adults (including the shooter's mother) by a 20-year-old man who then shot and killed himself.

A number of TV outlets, as well as NPR, carried Obama's remarks live.

According to a report on the website of NBC News, "Saying society would be judged by how well it fosters its children, the president said: 'We're all parents. And they're all our children This is our first task: caring for our children.' Obama asked whether America was doing enough and bluntly concluded: 'No. And this must change.'

"'We can't tolerate this any longer,' he declared. 'These tragedies must end.' The president challenged the audience asking: 'Are we prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage? That the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is the price of our freedom?'

"He vowed to 'use whatever power this office holds to engage our citizens ... to save another child or another parent or another town' the anguish of Newtown. The president concluded by reciting the names of all 20 children who had been killed and asked God to bless them 'with His holy comfort.'"

Accordiing to the White House website, here is the part of Obama's speech about this subject:

"This is our first task -- caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.

"And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we are meeting our obligations? Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children -- all of them -- safe from harm? Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know that they are loved, and teaching them to love in return? Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?

"I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.

"Since I’ve been President, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by a mass shooting. The fourth time we’ve hugged survivors. The fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims. And in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and big cities all across America -- victims whose -- much of the time, their only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law -- no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.

"But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this. If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that -- then surely we have an obligation to try.

"In the coming weeks, I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens -- from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators -- in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. Because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?"

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Mass Shooting at Connecticut Elementary School

[Updated on 12/14/12 at at 6:23 p.m. to correct that the name of the shooter, identified by a number of news orgainizations as Ryan Lanza, has been corrected by those news outlets, and that the shooter was actually his brother, Adam Lanza, 20.]

Local and network television outlets suspended regular programming this morning to report on a mass shooting in an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. Details were still emerging at midday Pacific time, but media sources said at least 27 people, including at least 18 small children, were known to be dead, with the number of dead potentially as high as 30.

No motive for the shooting was known. The shooter was identified as Adam Lanza, 20, and some reports indicated his mother worked for the school and was among the victims.

NBC News reports: “Students -- mostly under age 10 -- described the terror that gripped Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown when the rampage began around 9:30 a.m., sparking a massive police response that included SWAT officers going room to room to search for victims.”

Many of the victims were reportedly in a kindergarten classroom.

One young student told an NBC reporter: "I was in the gym and I heard a loud, like seven loud booms, and the gym teachers told us to go in the corner, so we all huddled. And I kept hearing these booming noises. And we all … started crying.”

"All the gym teachers told us to go into the office where no one could find us," the young girl added. "So then a police officer came in and told us to run outside. So we did and we came in the firehouse and waited for our parents."

A number of people were wounded in the shooting. “Bracing for a large influx of wounded, Danbury Hospital went on lockdown and cleared four trauma rooms,” NBC News reported. “It received only three patients, including a teacher shot in the foot, the Associated Press reported.”

NBC News added: “Two 9mm handguns were recovered from the scene, an official told WNBC's Jonathan Dienst. The Associated Press said one of the guns was a .223-caliber rifle.”

Many broadcast outlets in Los Angeles -- both English-language and Spanish-language -- continued to pre-empt regular programming as of midday to provide coverage of the shooting.

The death toll was thought to be the highest in a school shooting in the U.S. since a gunman killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007. The shooting also brought back memories of a 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., in which two teenagers killed 13 people and wounded 24.

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All-Time High for ABC Series, All-Time Low for NBC Show in Thursday Ratings

It was the best of times and the worst of times in the Thursday prime-time ratings, with one broadcast series hitting an all-time high while another series hit an all-time low, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that ABC’s “Scandal” came through with a series-high 2.7 rating in the key demo of adults 18-49, rising 8% from last week. NBC’s “Up All Night,” meanwhile, fell to a series-low 0.9, down from a 1.1 a week earlier.

CBS won the night easily, averaging a 3.4 rating for prime time, followed by ABC (2.3 average), Fox (2.2), Univision (1.8) and NBC (1.0). CBS also coasted to a big win in total viewers, averaging 13.3 million to 7.4 million for ABC, 6.5 million for Fox, 4.2 million for Univision and 3.4 million for NBC. The report notes that the numbers will be subject to more than the usual adjustments due to pre-emptions for live football coverage.

The top-rated show of the night was CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory,” which rose 4% from a week ago to a 5.4 average rating in the 18-49 demo. “Two and a Half Men” was also up, rising 5% to a 4.2. “Person of Interest was up 3% to a 3.0, and “Elementary” climbed 5% to a 2.3.

Fox’s “The X Factor” slipped 4% to a 2.4 in 18-49, while “Glee” dropped 9% to a 2.2.

ABC’s “Last Resort” was even with a week ago with a 1.2 average in viewers 18-49, while “Grey’s Anatomy” rose 3% from last week’s season low to a 3.1.

NBC saw a 1.1 for a second episode of “Up All Night,” down 8% from last week; a 1.2 for “Take It All,” 9% higher than Wednesday’s installment; and a 0.9 for “Rock Center,” down 10% from last week.

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Who's Buying What in Super Bowl 2013

Top marketers including Anheuser Busch, Volkswagen, Coca-Cola and Best Buy are rolling out their ad plans for the upcoming Super Bowl, and Advertising Age is keeping track of the details -- what they’re buying, which agencies are handling the campaigns and what the creative might look like.

Ad packages in the CBS broadcast are going for an average of $3.7 million to $3.8 million, the piece reports. Joining the heavyweights such as Pepsi and Bud Light are smaller brands that want to make a big impact -- including Century 21 and GoDaddy.com, which are returning for the 2013 game.

Click here for the in-depth summary of where things stand.

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'TMZ Live' Gains Wider Distribution on Fox-Owned Stations

The one-hour daily syndicated program “TMZ Live” is getting expanded distribution starting in fall 2013, with the Fox-owned stations expanding their carriage of the show from seven to 17 stations.

Ken Werner, president of Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, and Frank Cicha, senior vice president of programming for Fox Television Stations, made the announcement.

The companies said in their announcement: “The series, which began online, will take this next step in its unique broadcast distribution rollout, after a March 2012 test on the Fox-owned station in Los Angeles, KTTV FOX 11. Following that successful test, the program debuted in June on KSAZ FOX 10, the FOX-owned station in Phoenix. In October 2012, FTS then expanded the series to five additional stations: WFXT FOX 25 (Boston), WFLD FOX 32 (Chicago), KDFW FOX 4 (Dallas), WJBK FOX 2 (Detroit) and KMSP FOX 9 (Minneapolis). The additional Fox stations to premiere this series in Fall 2013 include: WNYW FOX 5 (New York), WTXF FOX 29 (Philadelphia), WTTG FOX 5 (Washington, D.C.), WAGA FOX 5 (Atlanta), KRIV FOX 26 (Houston), WTVT FOX 13 (Tampa) and WOFL FOX 35 (Orlando).”

Warner Bros. said it also expects to sell the show strategically outside those markets as opportunities present themselves for strong time slots and license fees.

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Video: Is the Redskins' Rookie QB 'Black Enough'? ESPN Analyst Draws Backlash After Saying He Doesn't Think So

An ESPN analyst raised a few eyebrows with comments this week about the Washington Redskins’ high-impact rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. Yahoo Sports reports that Rob Parker’s comments on Thursday’s installment of “First Take” questioned whether Griffin is “black enough.”

The piece quotes Parker as saying: "I've talked to some people in Washington, D.C. Some people in [Griffin's] press conferences. Some people I've known for a long time. My question, which is just a straight, honest question, is ... is he a 'brother,' or is he a cornball 'brother’? He's not really ... he's black, but he's not really down with the cause. He's not one of us. He's kind of black, but he's not really like the guy you'd want to hang out with. I just want to find out about him. I don't know, because I keep hearing these things. He has a white fiancee, people talking about that he's a Republican ... there's no information at all. I'm just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue.”

Sportswriter Doug Farrar comes out strongly against Parker’s comments, writing in the Yahoo piece: “We tend to expect preposterous stuff from this show -- after all, that's what that show does. But what Rob Parker said went far beyond the parameters of ‘opinion’ and veered quickly into something that should have ESPN seriously considering whether they want Parker representing even their worst traffic jam of a media product.”

Here’s a clip:

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Jon Stewart Reveals His Least Favorite Celebrity Guest -- Host Bans Actor From 'The Daily Show' After the Guy Behaved Like a Diva

TV hosts often stop short of naming the guests they dislike the most, but Jon Stewart didn’t pull any punches in a recent interview. Yahoo reports that Stewart named Hugh Grant as his least favorite guest and has banned the British actor from “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

Grant reportedly behaved like a diva during a December 2009 appearance on Stewart’s Comedy Central show. Among the actor’s complaints, he didn’t like the clip that was chosen for his promotion of his movie “Did You Hear About the Morgans?”

In an expletive-laced interview with Stephen Colbert at the Montclair Film Festival in New Jersey, Stewart reportedly said of Grant’s appearance: "He's giving everyone s*** the whole time, and he's a big pain in the a**.”

The piece adds: “Grant reportedly complained, 'What is that clip? It's a terrible clip,' to which Stewart replied, ‘Well, then make a better f***ing movie.’”

During the on-air interview with Grant, Stewart kept his cool, according to the piece, and the interview came off without any visible signs of tension.

Stewart also reportedly said during the recent interview that he almost quit “The Daily Show” on his first day of work back in 1999.

Said Stewart: "I walk in the door, into a room with the writers and producers, and the first thing they say is, 'This isn't some MTV bull****.' ... And then I was told not to change the jokes or improvise. [I told my agent] get me the f*** out of this. These people are insane ... I had to be talked down from a moderately high cliff. ... What I did not realize is, a lot of the people who worked there were a**holes."

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Struggling Talk Show Lays Off Staffers

A struggling syndicated freshman talk show is laying off staffers just before the holidays, reports Deadline.com. Several staffers of "The Jeff Probst Show,” including producers, are receiving pink slips, with their last day of work scheduled for Dec. 21, the story reports.

“As with most new shows, we had beefed up our production team for launch, and are now settling into a more appropriate staffing level for a daily talk show,” a representative for the show said.

The talk show hasn't gained momentum after a slow start, finishing the November sweeps tied with "Ricki Lake" as the lowest-rated freshman talk shows, the piece notes.

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TV Land Cancels Comedy Series

TV Land has canceled a comedy series after two seasons, reports Deadline.com. The cable channel pulled the plug on "Retired at 35," which starred George Segal.

The show is the first original series to be canceled by the network. Its pilot was one of TV Land's first two scripted pilots, along with "Hot in Cleveland," which is now airing its fourth season, the piece notes.

"Retired" drew 606,000 viewers for its second-season premiere in June, a significant drop from the 2 million viewers who tuned in for its series debut, according to the story.

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Man Arrested for Allegedly Threatening to Blow Up TV Station

A man was arrested for allegedly threatening to blow up a TV station because he was reportedly upset he couldn't watch local Fox programming from his satellite provider. The Mail Tribune in Southern Oregon reports that Jeffrey Alan Sebastian was arrested on suspicion of making threats against KMVU-TV, a Fox affiliate in Medford, Ore.

Sebastian, 47, was arrested Wednesday on three charges of attempted coercion and three counts of harassment, the story reports. He allegedly left voicemail messages at the station, reportedly threatening to blow up the building and shoot a specific employee, the piece adds.

Dish Network and Northwest Broadcasting, the parent of the TV station, failed to negotiate a deal last month, causing a blackout of the station.

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Liberty Media Shopping Starz to Potential Buyers

Liberty Media is reaching out to potential buyers for its premium network Starz, ahead of its expected mid-January spinoff of the pay-TV unit, reports the New York Post.

Potential buyers could include CBS, Fox, Viacom and Spanish-language broadcaster Univision, the story notes. Representatives for all of the companies declined to comment.

Liberty announced plans to split earlier this year, allowing for a sale of the Starz unit after the separation, the piece adds.

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'Cops' Creator Reveals Why the Show Is Becoming Harder to Tape -- and the One Thing That's Easier Than in the 'Old Days'

"Cops" creator John Langley tells the New York Post that it's getting harder to tape a seven-minute segment because the police are "more timid."

"There’s less crime, and we live in a litigious society. If you make a mistake, someone may sue you," Langley said.

After 25 seasons, he said, "It's more difficult to do the show than it’s ever been.”

“In the old days, police would chase them,” Langley said. “Now, they often let felons go.”

Morgan Langley, John Langley’s son, who’s also a producer on the show, added: "You can’t run out and be an incredibly proactive cop without taking some risks.”

But the report notes: “One thing has become easier, getting the suspects to sign release forms allowing their faces to be shown on TV, even if -- as in most cases -- they weren’t looking their best being frisked and cuffed.

Said John Langley: “We don’t pay anyone anything to be in ‘Cops.’ But most are enthusiastic. They want to be on the show.”

The first episode of the 25th season of "Cops" airs tonight, with one segment featuring the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department chasing a zebra, the story notes.

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... And MTV's Artist of the Year Is: 1) Nicki Minaj, 2) Psy, 3) One Direction, 3) Taylor Swift, 4) Carly Rae Jepsen, or 5) Rihanna

"Whoa. Don't know about you guys," MTV writes on its website, "but we're a little bit out of breath. In 2012, it seemed nothing could slow down music (except maybe a cool, soulful Frank Ocean jam), and as this year draws to a close, we're reminded of a reckless, wild, turbo-speed 2K12 that had us partying, dancing and solidifying the fact that, yes, 'We Are Young.' "

Thus read the introduction of MTV's pick for 2012 Artist of the Year.

Here's MTV's list, in reverse order, from #10 to #1.

10. Flo Rida

9. Psy

8. Nicki Minaj

7. Carly Rae Jepsen

6. Frank Ocean

5. 2 Chainz

4. Rihanna

3. Fun.

2. Taylor Swift

1. One Direction

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History Working on Hatfields & McCoys Reality Show

The History channel is working on a reality show based on the infamous conflict between the Hatfield and McCoy families, hoping to mine success twice from the famous feud, reports TheWrap.com.

The reality project will revolve around modern-day descendants of the feud, although other details weren't immediately known, the story says.

The project comes after History had a massive hit with the miniseries "Hatfields & McCoys," which premiered in May with 13.9 million total viewers.

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'Downton Abbey' Producer Has a Different Take on Whether Actor Is Leaving the Show

"Downton Abbey" executive producer Gareth Neame said fans shouldn't be too focused on speculation over cast members, and particularly on recent reports that actor Dan Stevens is leaving the show, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Media reports in recent weeks indicated Stevens, who plays Matthew Crawley, is departing, as we reported previously. Neame wouldn't give a definitive answer on Stevens' plans for the series, but he said, "95 percent of what I read in the papers is completely inaccurate, so that should be taken with a pinch of salt."

"The thing with the show is, because we don't make a long run -- we shoot about 11 hours of TV a year -- our actors have the opportunity to go and do other work," he added.

The third season of the period British drama will debut on PBS on Jan. 6.

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One Step Closer to 'TV Everywhere': Cox and Disney Ink Wide-Ranging Carriage Deal

Cox Communications and The Walt Disney Co. have reached a long-term carriage deal that expands options for watching Disney-owned networks both in and out of the home, reports Reuters.

Live and on-demand content from Disney networks, including ABC and ESPN, will be available to Cox customers through its pay TV service and on a range of devices, including gaming consoles and mobile phones, the story says.

The deal is part of the cable industry's effort to achieve the goal of "TV Everywhere," allowing viewers to watch what they want at different times and on various devices, the piece notes.

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Controversial Aereo Service Adds Its First Cable Network

The online streaming startup Aereo has made a deal to add its first cable network to its lineup. The Wall Street Journal reports that Aereo reached an agreement with Bloomberg TV. (The WSJ is a subscription site and not all readers might be able to access the story.)

Aereo is paying Bloomberg for the content, although the terms weren't disclosed.

The service has created a stir within the TV industry, as Aereo started a Web TV service without getting the prior approval of the broadcasters it's streaming. It's also not paying for the right to carry their signals, and the major broadcast networks have sued Aereo alleging copyright infringement.

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Fox News Channel Closes In on 11th Consecutive Year as Top Cable News Network

Even though the final numbers for 2012 aren't in yet, it's clear that Fox News Channel will end the year with its 11th straight win as the No. 1 cable news channel, reports TVNewser.com.

It will also end the year as the No. 3 ad-supported channel in all of cable television during prime time, the piece adds. Fox News will end the year up slightly in almost every time period and demo, when compared with 2011.

Fox will have the top 11 cable news shows in total viewers, and the top seven shows in the key news demo of viewers 25-54, the report notes.

As for the other cable news networks, MSNBC has had the most growth of any channel in the group, with "The Rachel Maddow Show" ending 2012 as the most-watched cable news program not on Fox News, the piece says.

CNN will end 2012 down somewhat in prime time, and will see a double-digit decline in total day. "Piers Morgan Tonight" will end the year as the network's top program in total viewers, the story adds.

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L.A. Reid Says He Will Not Return to 'X Factor' Next Season, and Tells Who He Thinks Simon Should Hire to Replace Him

 " 'I have decided that I will not return to ‘The X Factor’ next year,' [L.A. Reid has] told Access Hollywood's Shaun Robinson in an exclusive interview. 'I have to go back and I have a company to run that I’ve kind of neglected and it saddens me a little bit, but only a little bit.' "

The story adds, "With a seat about to become vacant on the FOX reality show, L.A. offered his suggestion on who should fill the spot. 'You know who I would love to see take it, and by the way I have nothing to do with it, but my choice would be like Jon Bon Jovi,' he said. 'That’s who I would pick.' "

The article also says, "L.A. also told Shaun he could be back somewhere down the line. 'I’m not ruling ever coming back, but I’m definitely not coming back next year,' he said. 'I have a job to do and once I get some work done and get some momentum then maybe I’ll revisit the idea a little later.' "

Reid also said that he and show creator Simon Cowell continue to have "a great relationship."

L.A. Reid.jpg

L.A. Reid

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Tough Night for Broadcast Nets: Season Lows and Series Lows on CBS, ABC and NBC in Wednesday Ratings

A number of shows sank to series lows and season lows on the broadcast networks Wednesday night, based on Nielsen overnight numbers. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that CBS’s “CSI,” ABC’s “The Middle,” “The Neighbors” and “Modern Family” and NBC’s “Chicago Fire” all either set or tied their low marks.

CBS won the night despite a poor performance by “CSI,” which was down 15% from its previous original episode on Nov. 28, sinking to a series-low 2.2 average rating in the key demo of adults 18-49. “Survivor: Philippines” was also down, slipping 3% from last week to a 2.8, while “Criminal Minds” climbed 3% to a 3.1.

Second-place Fox saw its two-hour “The X Factor” dip 7% from a week ago to a 2.6 average in the 18-49 demo.

ABC managed a third-place overall finish in prime time, even with its programs down across the board. “The Middle” scored a season-low 2.2 average in 18-49, off 4% from a week ago; “The Neighbors” delivered a series-low 1.6, falling 16%; and “Modern Family” equaled its season low with a 4.2, down 11% from its previous original on Nov. 28. “Barbara Walters Presents the 10 Most Fascinating People of 2012” failed to match last year’s broadcast, slipping 9% to a 2.1.

NBC’s “Whitney” was one of the few shows to improve, climbing 8% from a week ago to a 1.4 average in the 18-49 demo. But overall the network had a tough night, finishing a distant fifth for prime time. “Take It All” suffered without its lead-in from “The Voice,” plunging 50% from its Tuesday number to a 1.1, and “Chicago Fire” matched its series low with a 1.9, dropping 26% from last week.

For prime time overall, CBS came out on top with a 2.7 average rating in viewers 18-49, beating Fox (2.6 average), ABC (2.4), Univision (1.5) and NBC (1.2). CBS also won total viewers, averaging 10.5 million to 7.8 million for ABC, 7.7 million for Fox, 3.8 million for NBC and 3.6 million for Univision.

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Susan Rice Pulls Name From Consideration for Secretary of State

Susan Rice, widely considered to be President Obama’s choice to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, has withdrawn her name from consideration for the post, NBC News reports.

The announcement comes after months of criticism aimed at Rice, the U.N. envoy, over her comments on Benghazi.

In a letter to Obama, Rice wrote: “If nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly -- to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities.”

Rice added: “That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country. ... Therefore, I respectfully request that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time.”

NBC will feature an interview with Rice by Brian Williams on tonight’s “Rock Center with Brian Williams,” NBC News reports.

“She has been under intense fire from Republicans for initially characterizing the Sept. 11 assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, as a spur-of-the-moment response to a crude anti-Muslim film,” the piece reports.

Five days after the attack, Rice said on NBC’s “Meet the Press: “What happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, which were prompted, of course, by the video.

“Opportunistic extremist elements came to the consulate as this was unfolding. They came with heavy weapons, which unfortunately are readily available in post-revolutionary Libya, and it escalated into a much more violent episode.”

The report adds: “As more details emerged suggesting it was a premeditated terrorist action, GOP critics accused Rice of misleading the public at the height of the presidential campaign.

“She countered that she went with the best information available about the attack, in which Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed.”

Speaking at the United Nations on Nov. 21, Rice said: “I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community. I made clear that the information was preliminary and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers.”

Obama has reportedly accepted her withdrawal from consideration.

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Legendary Soap Opera Producer Paul Rauch Dead at 78

Legendary daytime drama producer Paul Rauch, who in his time oversaw six soap operas as executive producer -- including "Another World," "One Life to Live," "Santa Barbara" and, most recently, "The Young and the Restless" -- has died at age 78, according to the Associated Press and SoapCentral.com.

He passed away Monday in New York City after suffering complications from blood clots, said his wife, playwright Israela Margalit.

Rauch was an Emmy winner, having collected a Daytime Emmy for "Another World" and another as executive producer of a children's film, "Run the Wild Fields."

Rauch's last stint as an executive producer was on CBS's "The Young and the Restless" from 2008 until last year, when he became ill.

“Y&R's” current head writer, Josh Griffith, wrote on Facebook: "The Soap World mourns the loss of one of our giants, Paul Rauch. R.I.P., my friend. Go produce the hell out of Heaven now."

“General Hospital” executive producer Frank Valentini also commented, writing: "My good friend and mentor, Paul Rauch, passed away today ... very sad news. Paul Rauch dedicated his life to soap operas and made a mark like no other. He will be missed, but his legendary contribution will live on."

paul-rauch.jpgPaul Rauch

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Simon Cowell Will Return to 'Britain's Got Talent'

Music competition judge and media mogul Simon Cowell has decided to return for the seventh season of ITV's "Britain's Got Talent," reports Deadline.com.

Cowell will rejoin judges Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams. Cowell returned to the show this year in an effort to bolster the show's ratings as it went head to head with BBC1's "The Voice UK."

Simon said in a statement, “I loved doing the show last year, the new panel worked really well and I’m very happy they have all agreed to come back. Last year was a special year for talent and I hope that in 2013, off the back of an amazing year for Britain, we find another global star.”

Auditions with the judges begin with a tour in January 2013.

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Matt Lauer Bashed for Anne Hathaway Wardrobe Malfunction Wisecrack on 'Today'

"Today" co-host Matt Lauer is under fire for a comment he made to actress Anne Hathaway about a recent wardrobe malfunction, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

The actress appeared Wednesday on "Today" to promote her new film "Les Miserables," and Lauer made a joke about an incident in which Hathaway was photographed getting out of a limo wearing a dress and no underwear.

"Seen a lot of you lately!" he said, according to the story.

Hathaway apologized and added, "I'm sorry that we live in a culture that commodifies sexuality of unwilling participants."

Lauer is receiving a backlash from his joke, with The Huffington Post writing, "Well this was not one of Matt Lauer's finer moments."

The New York Post called Lauer's comment a "tasteless quip."

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ABC Rolls Out Plans for Farewell to Long-Running Series

ABC has unveiled plans to bring closure to a drama series that has been a fixture on the network in recent years. TVLine reports that the final episode of "Private Practice" will air Jan. 22, 2013.

The drama has been canceled after six seasons, as we reported previously. The series will conclude with an episode called "In Which We Say Goodbye." Original cast member Audra McDonald will return for the final episode, the story reports.

The finale is expected to serve as an "uplifting swan song" for Addison, played by Kate Walsh, the story adds.

Show creator Shonda Rhimes told TVLine in August: “We’ve watched Addison from the beginning. She started out as one of the most hated characters on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and has grown to be this person that we really love. That character’s journey, I think, deserves a happy ending.”

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Golden Globe Breakthroughs: Nominations for 'Nashville,' 'Political Animals' and 'House of Lies.' We Have the Complete List of Golden Globe Nominees

HBO distanced itself from the pack in the Golden Globe nominations, announced this morning, with last year’s drama winner, Showtime’s “Homeland,” also making a strong showing.

Some shows that received nominations for the first time include "Nashville," "Political Animals" and "House of Lies."

"Nashville" received nominations for Connie Britton in the Lead Actress category and Hayden Panettiere as Supporting Actress. "Political Animals" received a nomination in the Miniseries/TV Movie category, and "House of Lies" garnered a nomination for Don Cheadle in the Lead Actor, Comedy or Musical category.

Leading the way for HBO was “Game Change” with five nominations, more than any other TV program. “Homeland” was close behind with four nods, followed by three shows with three nominations apiece: ABC’s “Modern Family,” PBS’s “Downton Abbey” and HBO’s “The Girl.”

HBO had a huge lead in overall nominations with 17, with the closest competition again coming from Showtime, which scored seven nods. ABC led all broadcast networks with five nominations, followed by CBS, NBC and PBS with four apiece. AMC had three nods; Fox, FX, History and USA had two each; and BBC America, DirecTV and Starz had one each.

The leader in the motion picture categories was “Lincoln,” with seven nominations, followed by “Argo” and “Django Unchained” with five apiece. “Les Miserables,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Zero Dark Thirty” each received four nominations.

Click here to see the full list of nominations in the television and motion picture categories.

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CBS Station Scraps Morning News Program

A major-market CBS-owned station has announced that it’s dropping its morning news show. Mediabistro’s TVSpy reports that WWJ-TV in Detroit is scrapping its "First Forecast Mornings" broadcast.

"WWJ remains committed to local programming where it makes sense,” the station said in a statement. “We will continue to do local weather reports at 5 and 11 p.m., our weekly public affairs show and local specials.”

The report notes that the two-hour morning news program, which features anchors Syma Chowdhry, Jill Washburn and Randy Bhirdo, is WWJ’s only traditional newscast. Its final airing is scheduled for Dec. 28.

The station will reportedly fill the slot with CBS network news and "Dr. Phil."

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Star of AMC Drama Series Won't Return for Third Season -- Other Cast Members Are Also Out of the Lineup

One of the stars of an AMC drama series, which is readying for its third season, won’t be back on the show, Variety.com reports.

Billy Campbell, who portrayed Mayor Darren Richmond on "The Killing," is leaving the show, according to the report. The show was canceled by AMC in late May, but the cable network later changed its mind and revived the show, the story notes.

Actors Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman, who play a pair of Seattle officers, are likely to return, the piece adds. However, Brent Sexton and Michelle Forbes, who played the parents of the slain girl, won't be returning to the program.

Talks are still under way with Netflix about assisting with a portion of the production costs, allowing the Internet company to stream the series after it airs on AMC, the piece adds.

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Video: A Piece of the Set Collapses on Former Mitt Romney Adviser During CNBC Interview

A guest on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" was hit by a piece of a set that collapsed during a live interview, reports TVNewser.com.

The guest was Glenn Hubbard, the dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business, who was speaking from an improvised set at the Dealbook Conference in New York. Hubbard was an economic adviser to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

Mid-interview, a piece of the set fell on his head. After apologizing and asking whether Hubbard was OK, host Melissa Lee said, "You never know what is going to happen, I guess."

Hubbard joked, "That’s what happens when you criticize the welfare state."

Here’s the clip:

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'X-Files' Star Gillian Anderson Returns to TV on New NBC Series

Gillian Anderson, who starred on "The X-Files," will be a part of a new drama series on NBC, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Anderson will appear in a multiple-episode arc on “Hannibal” as Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier, the therapist for Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the story notes.

"Every therapist needs their own head examined and we are ecstatic that Gillian Anderson has chosen 'Hannibal' to mark her return to American television after 10 years to portray Dr. Lecter’s personal psychiatrist,” said writer and producer Bryan Fuller in a statement.

Anderson has appeared in miniseries such as Encore's recent "Moby Dick" adaptation and British series such as "The Fall" since "The X-Files" went off the air in 2002.

gillian-anderson.jpgGillian Anderson

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Media Entrepreneur Whose Company Owns Politico and Eight ABC-Affiliated TV Stations Dies

Joe L. Allbritton, who founded Allbritton Communications -- the parent company of Washington D.C.-based ABC affiliate WJLA, cable's News Channel 8 in the D.C. area, and Politico -- died Wednesday at 87, TVNewsCheck reports.

Allbritton, a national champion debater in college, started out in banking, chairing the Houston International Bank, Houston Citizens Bank and University Bankshares before becoming the chairman of the Riggs National Bank.

He purchased the Washington Star newspaper and broadcast properties in 1974, and then expanded his TV holdings, the story reports. Allbritton Communications now owns eight ABC Network affiliates in seven markets as well as the local cable news channel in Washington.

His media holdings formed the basis for the print and Web publication Politico, founded by his son, Robert, the piece adds.

NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith paid tribute to Allbritton, saying: "Joe Allbritton was a larger than life figure in business, in media and in philanthropy. His contributions to local television are reflected every day in the programming excellence on display at WJLA-TV in Washington and seven other Allbritton-owned ABC affiliates across America. NAB salutes a visionary media entrepreneur for a life well lived.”

Thumbnail image for joe-allbritton.jpgJoe L. Allbritton

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Tells Barbara Walters He's Not Too Fat to Be President

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told Barbara Walters during her interview for her "10 Most Fascinating People of the Year" show that he's not too fat to be president, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"I’ve done this job pretty well, and I think people watched me for the last number of weeks and Hurricane Sandy doing 18-hour days and getting right back up the next day and still being just as effective in the job,” Christie said, adding that it is "ridiculous" to think he would be too heavy to take on the role of president.

Christie has struggled with his weight, but may also face another struggle as he reaches toward his political goals: the anger of his own Republican Party, the story adds.

Some in his party blamed him for contributing to GOP nominee Mitt Romney's loss in the presidential election, after Christie praised President Barack Obama for his leadership in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the piece notes.

But Christie downplayed his role in the election. According to the piece, Christie told Walters: "The fact of the matter is, President Obama won the election pretty comfortably. I was doing my job as I saw fit to do it. And I told the truth, like I always do. The president did step up and help tremendously in New Jersey."

obama-christie.jpgN.J. Gov. Chris Christie and Barack Obama after Hurricane Sandy

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Two New Syndicated Series Revolve Around DNA Testing. Plus, New Syndie Show Coming From NBCUniversal?

Two new first-run syndicated shows revolve around DNA testing, reports TVNewsCheck. According to the story, "CBS Television Distribution's 'The Test' will feature guests who have DNA and lie detector test results revealed. And MGM Television’s 'Paternity Court' is a half-hour show with lawyer Lauren Lake, who will decide cases based on the results of DNA tests."

The article, by Kevin Downey, continues: "'The Test' is a one-hour talk show from Jay McGraw’s Stage 29 Productions, which produces 'The Doctors.' It will be hosted by comedian-actor Kirk Fox, who has had parts in movies such as 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' and TV shows like NBC’s 'Parks and Recreation.'

"On the show, Fox will use DNA and lie detector tests to settle paternity and relationship conflicts among his guests. No launch group for 'The Test' has been announced, although Tribune is considered a likely outlet."

The article also says: "'Paternity Court' is a half-hour show with lawyer Lauren Lake, who has appeared on shows including 'Dr. Phil.' She will decide cases, in part, with the results of DNA tests. ... 'Paternity Court' has been picked up by stations belonging to CBS, Sinclair and Weigel, Cox, Capitol, Meredith, Local TV LLC, Journal and Fisher, according to MGM."

The article concludes: "Elsewhere, sources say, NBCUniversal is said to be developing a new show, possibly as a companion to 'Steve Harvey,' the surprise hit of this season."

The article does not say what the new show might be.

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ABC Back in Business With John Leguizamo -- After Rejecting One Project, the Network Orders a Different One

John Leguizamo has been keeping the decision makers busy at ABC lately. Just days after passing -- for the second time -- on his comedy pilot "The Kings of Van Nuys," as we reported earlier this week, the network has ordered a different project from the actor.

Deadline.com reports that the new comedy project is based on Leguizamo’s life as a husband and father living in the privileged Upper West Side of Manhattan, far from his Latino upbringing in the Bronx, the story says.

Leguizamo will co-write the story for the untitled half-hour show with former "Family Guy" executive producer and co-showrunner Chris Sheridan, the piece adds. Sheridan will write the teleplay and executive produce with Leguizamo.

Leguizamo signed a deal in February with ABC and ABC Studios with the goal of developing a single-camera comedy project, the report notes. When the network took a pass a few days ago on “Kings of Van Nuys,” it cleared the way for the new project to move forward.

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New Rules Limiting Volume of TV Commercials Go Into Effect Today

New rules governing the loudness of television commercials, adopted a year ago by the Federal Communications Commission, go into effect today, the Associated Press reports.

The rules are contained in the CALM Act, which limits the volume of the audio on commercials. CALM, or Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation, is meant to keep TV ads from notching up the volume louder than the programs they're matched with, the story says.

The FCC gave the TV industry a year to prepare after adopting the measure, the story adds. The public can report suspected violations on the FCC’s website.

The rules cover broadcasters along with cable and satellite operators, the report notes.

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Lindsay Lohan Faces Up to Eight Months After Having Her Probation Revoked

Actress Lindsay Lohan has had her probation revoked and could wind up back in jail for as much as eight months, USA Today reports.

A judge in Los Angeles revoked Lohan’s probation, which was related to a widely publicized necklace theft, and set a hearing to determine whether Lohan, 26, will be returned to jail.

Lohan did not appear in court, but was represented by attorney Shawn Holley. “Lohan is said to have jetted off to London and Dubai with rock group The Wanted and her rumored boyfriend Max George,” the story reports.

The report adds: “The ruling came as Lohan faces misdemeanor counts of reckless driving, lying to a police officer and obstructing an officer from performing duties after an accident in which her Porsche slammed into the back of a dump truck in June, reports AP.”

Lohan reportedly told officers at the time of the collision in Santa Monica, Calif., that her assistant was driving. But authorities believe Lohan, who was on probation at the time after being convicted of misdemeanor theft of the necklace along with two DUI charges, was behind the wheel.

“A probation violation hearing was set for Jan. 15, when Lohan is expected to be formally charged with the three misdemeanors stemming from [the] crash,” the piece reports. “A judge could sentence the actress up to 245 days in jail, reports AP.”

Holley reportedly said Lohan is not required to appear at the upcoming hearing, adding that she expects to have the matter resolved in enough time that Lohan won’t have to appear at all.

“Meanwhile, Lohan is also due back in New York court on Jan. 7 for an arraignment into her alleged assault of Tiffany Mitchell,” the piece adds.

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Wildly Funny, But Never Common -- Today's TWeek Highly Recommended Movie on TV

A romantic comedy filled with deft sardonic humor -- and a touch of clowning slapstick -- will be showcased tonight on TCM, and TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross wants to make sure you don’t miss it. Click here to get the lowdown on this gem from one of the greatest American directors of the 1930s and 1940s.

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And the Winner of the Media 'Error of the Year' Award Is ... a Tie!

In a column assessing "The Best (and Worst) Media Errors and Corrections for 2012," two television outlets -- CNN and Fox News -- were both cited by the Poynter Institute's "Regret That Error" column, reports TVNewser.

On the day the Supreme Court ruled on Obamacare, reporters for both Fox News and CNN rushed through the notes from the judges and incorrectly reported that the "individual mandate" in the Affordable Healthcare law had been ruled unconstitutional. That was not the case.

Poynter blasted CNN especially for not only reporting the incorrect news on camera, but spreading it all over the Internet via social media and email blasts. CNN was complimented for acknowledging the mistake and correcting it quickly.

Fox News earned criticism for not apologizing for the mistake and for failing to recognize that it was wrong from the start.

The report adds: “Other TV news programs that made the cut [were] CNN’s ‘Early Start,’ which woke up some poor sap at 6:30 a.m. when they thought they were calling a guest, and CNBC’s Darren Rovell, who reported on a teenager’s hoax as though it was a true story.”

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'The Voice' Carries NBC to Ratings Win as New Series Grows

NBC scored a win in the prime-time ratings Tuesday night, with “The Voice” carrying much of the load and new series “Take It All” continuing to show strength, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “The Voice” was the top-rated show of the night with a 3.5 average rating in viewers 18-49 -- even with a week earlier. “Take It All” delivered a 2.3, gaining on the 2.2 it had for its premiere one night earlier. “Parenthood,” meanwhile, did its part, rising 11% from a week ago to a 2.0.

CBS’s drama lineup was down from the previous airing of original episodes back on Nov. 27. “NCIS” dipped 22% to a 2.8 average in the 18-49 demo; “NCIS: Los Angeles” fell to a 2.6, down from a 2.9; and “Vegas” dipped 6% to a 1.5.

Fox and ABC came in behind Spanish-language Univision. Fox’s originals were mostly up, with “Raising Hope” rising 21% from last week to a 1.7 and “The Mindy Project” up 8% to a 1.4, while “New Girl” was steady with last week, delivering a 2.0.

ABC, which finished fifth in the key demo for prime time overall, was either even or down. The holiday special “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” managed a 1.7 in 18-49, 23% below its year-ago performance (Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011). “Don’t Trust the B” was off 17% from last week with a 1.0; “Happy Endings” was even with a 1.3; and “Private Practice” equaled a week ago with a 1.4.

For prime time as a whole, NBC averaged a 2.6 in viewers 18-49 to lead CBS (2.3 average), Univision (1.6), Fox (1.5) and ABC (1.3). CBS was a big winner in total viewers, averaging 14.3 million to 8.1 million for NBC, 4.1 million for ABC, 3.8 million for Univision and 3.4 million for Fox.

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Meredith Vieira Revisits Her Role on Soap Opera

Meredith Vieira will revisit a colorful role from her past with an appearance on a soap opera later this week, ABC announced.

The host of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” will check in to ABC’s “General Hospital” to reprise her role as Bree Flanders, who was a high-class madam last time around. Vieira, a multiple Emmy Award winner, previously played the role in March 2003.

Vieira will appear on the daytime drama on Friday, Dec. 14 (2 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. PT/CT).

Said Vieira: “I actually resurrected a character, Bree Flanders, that I played ten years ago. At that point she was a madam. Now she’s a senior vice president of a company, so she’s definitely improved her lot in life. It strikes me every time I do anything with a soap opera -- but just working with ‘General Hospital’ -- so impressed with the actors, they’re so good. They have to learn so much material on a day-to-day basis. You know, ten years ago I had a better memory than now, so I was a little intimidated, but it worked out great.”

ABC noted: “Vieira’s appearance also helps to usher in the return of fan favorite Lucy Coe, played by Lynn Herring, who also marks her return to ‘General Hospital’ on Friday, Dec. 14.”

The long-running soap will mark its 50th anniversary on April 1-2, 2013.

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Baseball's Charlie Hustle to Star in TV Series -- Which Will Also Feature The Ex-Big Leaguer's Playboy Model Fiancee

A former baseball great who has continued to make headlines after his Major League career will take a swing at a TV career with a new reality show starting next month. TheWrap.com reports that "Pete Rose: Hits & Mrs." will premiere Jan. 14 on TLC at 10 p.m. ET.

The program will feature Rose, 71, along with his fiancee, Playboy model Kiana Kim, and their children from previous marriages. The series has received an order for six episodes from TLC.

“As the couple moves closer to marriage, they face various struggles: Will Rose's kids learn to accept the age difference between their dad and stepmom-to-be? Can Rose, who lives and works in Las Vegas, manage a long-distance relationship with Kiana, who lives in Los Angeles?” the report notes.

“But perhaps the biggest question revolving around the series: How much indignity must Rose endure before he's welcomed back into the public's good graces?”

Rose is known not only for his baseball career -- in which he set numerous MLB records -- but also for being permanently barred from the baseball after he was found guilty of having bet on games while he was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds.

In his 24-year big league career, Rose set the MLB record for the most career hits -- 4,256 -- along with a number of other Major League and National League hitting and longevity records. His high-energy approach to all facets of the game earned him the nickname “Charlie Hustle.”

Thumbnail image for pete-rose-kiana-kim.jpgPete Rose and Kiana Kim

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Ann Curry May Be Headed to CNN Prime Time

Incoming CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker plans to hire ousted "Today' co-host Ann Curry and would like to create an 8 p.m. show for her, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

That would mean Curry would take the time slot that currently airs Anderson Cooper's "AC360," while Cooper would be given a new role as a "globetrotting" correspondent, the piece says.

Curry's ouster from "Today" might help her appeal with audiences, given that many viewers feel sympathetic toward her, the piece adds.

A representative for CNN said, "There is no shortage of rumors about what Jeff will do. He doesn’t start until late January, and any speculation at this point is just silly.”

An NBC rep said Ann Curry is under contract with NBC News.

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ABC Has a Change of Heart, Shelves New Scripted Series Just Days After Greenlighting It

Less than a week after giving the go-ahead to a new series for the summer schedule, ABC had a change of heart and has shelved the project, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed.

The project is the paranormal drama "Weird Desk." We reported late last week that ABC had given the show a 13-episode order.

It's believed the decision was made because the series couldn't be fast-tracked in time for a summer debut -- with production costs factoring into the decision, the story says.

The hourlong investigative series had been slated to join the drama "Mistresses" in the summer lineup, and was part of a push by broadcasters to get more scripted originals on air this summer, according to the article.

"Weird Desk" tracked a secret organization whose members track down paranormal and sometimes extraterrestrial occurrences, based on intelligence from the CIA and NSA, the piece notes.

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Cinemax Is Sued by Actress Claiming to Have Been Bullied Into a Nude Performance

Cinemax, HBO, Time Warner and a production company called True Crime LLC were sued Tuesday by an actress who claims she was bullied into performing nude scenes and was sexually harassed and placed in a dangerous work environment, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood Esq.

The actress was identified as "Anne G" in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. The lawsuit doesn't specify which show she worked on, although the attorney who filed the suit said she worked on one episode of the late-night Cinemax show "Femme Fatales."

Anne G claims she wasn't told she would be required to simulate sexual intercourse or perform nude, the story says.

According to the lawsuit, on the first day of shooting in 2011, "She was blindsided with rewrite after rewrite which necessitated her character to simulate sexual intercourse and for her to appear nude but for pasties on her nipples and a sticker on her private parts.”

She alleges she was told she would be sued for $100,000 for being in breach of contract when she complained she wasn't comfortable with the content, and says she wouldn't have agreed to the job if she knew it involved "soft-core porn."

In a May 2011 press release about the show, it was described as a "sizzling" series with a plot built around "murder mystery, hidden secrets and of course femme fatales," the piece notes.

A producer at True Crime said he hadn't yet seen the lawsuit and wouldn't comment until he had spoken with the show's attorney. A representative for HBO and Cinemax said there was no one available to comment, according to the article.

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Top TV Series of 2012: Plenty of Reality, Lots of Sports ... and Not Much Scripted

The top 10 regularly scheduled television broadcasts of 2012 were dominated by sports and reality shows, with very little scripted programming represented, reports MediaPost's MediaDailyNews.

Three of the top 10 regularly scheduled shows were sports, with NBC's "Sunday Night Football" ranking No. 1 in total viewers, the story says. The NFL series has averaged 21.2 million viewers this season.

Fox’s "American Idol" holds the second and third spots with its two weekly airings (18 million for the Wednesday performance show and 16.5 million for the results show), while NBC's pregame show for its "Sunday Night Football" is in fourth place with 15.7 million.

ABC’s "Dancing with the Stars" holds fifth and sixth place with its two weekly airings, drawing an average of 15.5 million for the performance show and 13.9 million for the results show.

CBS's "NCIS" is one of two scripted shows to make the list, placing seventh with an average of 13.6 million viewers. NBC's "The Voice" holds eighth place, with 13.3 million.

In ninth place is the only cable series on the list: ESPN's "Monday Night Football," with 13.2 million viewers.

CBS also has the only other scripted series in the top 10, the new drama "Vegas," in 10th place with an average of 11.7 million viewers, the story says.

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Google Creates an Easter Egg for 'Seinfeld' Holiday

Google has turned to "Seinfeld" for inspiration on an Easter egg, or a hidden message inside its search results, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The reference is to the holiday Festivus, which was created in a 1997 episode of the NBC comedy, when George Costanza's father explains that he created the holiday to replace the over-marketed Christmas.

If you type "Festivus" into Google's search box in some browsers, you'll now see an undecorated aluminum Festivus pole on the left-hand side of the search results.

The holiday includes traditions such as the "Airing of Grievances," when each person at the celebration tells how others have disappointed them during the past year.

"If you’re not big on the holidays, don’t forget there’s a Festivus for the rest of us. No tinsel, just a sturdy pole. Good luck if you’re chosen for the Feats of Strength," said a Google representative.

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HBO Options Rights to 'Game Change' Sequel

HBO has optioned the rights to a sequel to bestseller "Game Change," which was about the 2008 presidential campaign, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

The new book, set to be published in fall 2013, will come from "Game Change" journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann and will track the 2012 election, the story says.

"Game Change," which debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list in 2010, became the basis of an HBO film that starred Julianne Moore as Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska and Woody Harrelson as Republican strategist Steve Schmidt. The project won five Emmy Awards.

The sequel is called “Double Down: Game Change 2012,” Penguin Press said Tuesday.

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CBS Orders a New Chuck Lorre Project

A comedy project from Chuck Lorre, the man behind "The Big Bang Theory" and “Two and a Half Men,” has received a pilot production order from CBS, reports Deadline.com.

The project, called "Mom," is about a newly sober single mother who is getting her life back together while living in California’s Napa Valley, the story says.

The project is Lorre's first under a new four-year deal he signed with Warner Bros. TV in September. It also marks a return to female-centered comedies for Lorre, who in the 1990s created "Grace Under Fire" and "Cybill."

Lorre co-wrote "Mom" on spec with "Two and a Half Men" executive producer Eddie Gorodetsky and story editor Gemma Baker, and it's considered a top prospect for CBS's fall 2013 schedule, the story adds.

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Jennifer Love Hewitt Overseeing 'Pride & Prejudice' for Lifetime

Jennifer Love Hewitt is executive producing a modern-day take on the classic Jane Austen novel "Pride & Prejudice" for Lifetime, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The project, "Darcy's Town," retells the novel in a small Virginia town, the story says. It's the second Austen-based project this development season, with CBS working on a modern take on "Sense and Sensibility" with "Boardwalk Empire’s” Margaret Nagle, the story adds.

The Lifetime project will be written by Sheryl Anderson of "Charmed" and comes from Love Hewitt's Fedora Films and Cineflix, the piece adds.

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PBS Names New Programming Chief

PBS has named a new head of programming, reports Elizabeth Jensen in The New York Times' Media Decoder. The job goes to Beth Hoppe, who has worked at the public broadcaster since August 2011.

Hoppe replaces John Wilson, who is shifting to a new job as senior vice president, pledge strategy and special projects. In that role, his job will be to "reinvigorate pledge programming,”according to an internal memo distributed Tuesday.

Hoppe previously worked at Discovery Studios, the production arm for Discovery Network, and at New York public television station WNET-TV.

Her new title is chief programming executive and general manager, general audience programming, the story adds.

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AMC Developing Colonial Comedy

AMC, which has found success with period shows such as "Mad Men," is turning to Colonial times for a comedy called "We Hate Paul Revere," reports Deadline.com.

The show tracks two brothers who live in Colonial Boston and, as the title suggests, aren't fond of the local activist Paul Revere, the story notes.

The project is written and executive produced by writer-actors Ethan Sandler and Adrian Wenner. Since meeting at Northwestern University, the pair have been performing and acting together.

The effort reflects AMC's desire to expand into comedy after building its drama series, the piece adds.

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ABC Family Developing Two 'Romeo and Juliet'-Themed Projects

ABC Family has two "Romeo and Juliet"-themed projects in the works, with both based on young-adult novels, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

"Recovery Road," a 2011 novel by Blake Nelson, focuses on a high school student who is seeking treatment for a drinking and anger problem and finds love in rehab, the story notes. The project is searching for a writer.

"Juliet Immortal" is based on the 2012 book by Stacey Jay, who will write and produce the adaptation. In her novel, Romeo murders Juliet as a sacrifice to ensure his immortality, but Juliet is given eternity to fight against him and protect the innocent, the story says.

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Report: Apple Testing Apple TV Designs

Apple is testing designs for a large-screen high-resolution television with component suppliers in Asia, reports The Wall Street Journal. (The WSJ is a subscription site and not all readers may be able to access the story.)

The testing could mean Apple is moving closer to adding a TV device to its lineup, the story says.

According to the report, Apple is working on the new TV design with Japan's Sharp Corp. and Hon Hai Precision Industry, which assembles the iPhone and iPad and is known by the trade name Foxconn.

Apple has reportedly been testing different TV prototypes for years, although it usually develops products internally before working with outside suppliers, the piece adds.

"Apple could opt not to proceed with the device, and how a large-screen TV fits with its overall strategy for remaking watching TV remains unclear. Apple has also been talking to cable television operators about building a box that would carry live television, according to people familiar with the matter," the story reports.

The piece continues: "Apple shareholders are anxious about the timing and nature of the company's plans. While iPhones and iPads are selling briskly, they believe television could be one of the next big catalysts for Apple's business as those products eventually peter out."

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The Man Beatle George Harrison Called 'The Godfather of World Music' Has Died

The person Beatle George Harrison once called "The godfather of world music" has died.

According to the Associated Press, "Ravi Shankar, the sitar virtuoso who became a hippie musical icon of the 1960s after hobnobbing with the Beatles and who introduced traditional Indian ragas to Western audiences over an eight-decade career, has died. He was 92."

The story continues, "Labeled 'the godfather of world music' by George Harrison, Shankar helped millions of classical, jazz and rock lovers discover the centuries-old traditions of Indian music. He also pioneered the concept of the rock benefit with the 1971 Concert For Bangladesh.

"To later generations, Shankar was known as the estranged father of popular American singer Norah Jones."

The article adds, "Harrison had grown fascinated with the sitar, a long necked, string instrument that uses a bulbous gourd for its resonating chamber and resembles a giant lute. He played the instrument, with a Western tuning, on the song 'Norwegian Wood,' but soon sought out Shankar, already a musical icon in India, to teach him to play it properly."

The AP story also says: "Gaining confidence with the complex instrument, Harrison recorded the Indian-inspired song 'Within You Without You' on the Beatles’ 'Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,' helping spark the raga-rock phase of 60s music and drawing increasing attention to Shankar and his work.

"Shankar’s popularity exploded, and he soon found himself playing on bills with some of the top rock musicians of the era. He played a four-hour set at the Monterey Pop Festival and the opening day of Woodstock."

1ravi-shankar-sitar.jpg                                                                      Ravi Shankar

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Discovery Greenlights Its First Scripted Miniseries, With Ridley Scott on Board

Discovery Channel announced that it has ordered production to begin on its first-ever scripted miniseries. The program is "Klondike," based on Charlotte Gray’s novel “Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich in the Klondike."

The show “brings to life the tale about six strangers and their collective fight for survival and wealth in a small, frontier town in the remote Klondike,” the network said.

“Klondike” is a co-production of Discovery, Entertainment One Television (eOne) and Nomadic Pictures in association with Scott Free Television. Paul Scheuring (“Prison Break,” “A Man Apart”) is the primary writer and will serve as executive producer along with Ridley Scott and David W. Zucker, with John Morayniss and Michael Rosenberg exec producing for eOne. Mike Frislev and Chad Oakes will serve as co-producers for Nomadic, and Eileen O'Neill and Dolores Gavin will serve as executive producers for Discovery.

Josh Goldin and Rachel Abramowitz are also writing episodes as consulting producers.

Said Eileen O’Neill, group president of Discovery and TLC Networks: “We’ve been developing scripted for some time, but wanted to find the perfect fit. When we read ‘Gold Diggers,’ we knew we finally found it. Discovery created and owns the ‘gold’ narrative with several of our hit series and we’re elated to partner with Scott Free Television and eOne Television on a subject we know so well as our first scripted project.”

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AFI Unveils List of the 10 Best TV Shows of 2012

The American Film Institute has rolled out its list of the 10 television shows it considers the best of 2012, the AP reports.

AMC and HBO had the most shows to make the list, with three each, followed by FX with two. Only one show from the broadcast networks, "Modern Family," made the list.

Here’s the list:

"Modern Family" (ABC comedy series)
"American Horror Story" (FX miniseries)
"Louie" (FX comedy series)
"Breaking Bad" (AMC drama series)
"Mad Men" (AMC drama series)
"The Walking Dead" (AMC drama series)
"Game Change" (HBO TV movie)
"Game of Thrones" (HBO drama series)
"Girls" (HBO comedy series)
"Homeland" (Showtime drama series)

The producers and stars of the programs will be honored Jan. 11 at a luncheon in Los Angeles.

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'Storage Wars' Star Sues the Show, Alleges It's Rigged

One of the stars of the hit A&E reality show “Storage Wars” has filed a lawsuit against the show, alleging that it is rigged, TMZ.com reports.

Dave Hester -- known for his “Yup!” bidding call -- filed the lawsuit, alleging that the show “is deceiving viewers by making it seem contestants are bidding on unseen items, when the best goods are actually planted inside,” TMZ reports.

Hester, who is now a former star of the show, says he was booted off the show after he griped to producers about the alleged rigging, the piece reports.

“Hester claims in one case producers planted a BMW mini car under a pile of trash,” TMZ reports. “In another case, Hester alleges producers planted a pile of old newspapers that announced the death of Elvis. For some reason, that's a valuable commodity.”

Hester also reportedly accuses the show of helping “less than photogenic cast members” pay for plastic surgery to "create more sex appeal,” TMZ reports.

“But Dan Dotson -- the guy behind the show's auction company -- disagrees, telling TMZ, every unit seen on the show is legit and has a seal on it before they open it ... making it impossible for A&E to tamper with the units before filming begins,” the piece notes.

Dotson adds: “We only sell legitimate units on ‘Storage Wars.’ Every unit goes through a 64-day legal process and no one has access to units prior to auction.”

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Charlie Sheen's Ex-Wife Goes Back Into Rehab

Just a day after claiming that she was clean and sober, as we reported previously, Charlie Sheen's ex-wife Brooke Mueller has returned to a drug rehabilitation facility, reports UPI.com.

Her attorney confirmed that she is undergoing treatment for drug addiction. She reportedly checked in Monday night.

This is Mueller’s latest in a series of stints in rehab -- TMZ.com reports that she has now entered treatment facilities 19 times.

Yale Galanter, Mueller's attorney, told TMZ, "Brooke was uncomfortable with the way Adderall was making her behave." Adderall, a prescription medication, is a psycho-stimulant.

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Cable Channel Moving Forward With Six New Prime-Time Series

Six new original series are under way at one cable channel, targeted to air in prime time. The six unscripted shows got the green light from Travel Channel.

The programs are “All Forked Up,” “Burger Land,” “DigFellas,” “Fortune Diggers” (working title), “Gem Hunt” and “Monumental Mysteries.”

Making the announcement today was Laureen Ong, president of Travel Channel. The channel said in its release: “The new lineup of shows transports viewers to the far reaches of the world, guided by the most entertaining, original and knowledgeable experts in their given fields.”

Ong added: “From the untold stories of our monuments and the buried history uncovered by our relic hunters, to discovering some of our nation's most interesting places to chow down, and even trekking the world in search of rare gems -- our new shows prove we are the leader in travel entertainment. Our hosts are all authorities in their fields -- and they take us along on their global thrill rides, doing what they know best."

Here’s how the channel summed up the shows in its announcement:

“All Forked Up” pairs polar opposite food critics, Al Mancini and John Curtas, in a food feud, while exploring a city’s unique culinary flavors, and in "Burger Land,” viewers accompany host George Motz on his quest for the ultimate burger. "DigFellas" introduces relic hunters on a quest to excavate history-rich locations, while in the competition series “Fortune Diggers” (wt), three teams face off with metal detectors to unearth valuable artifacts. In "Gem Hunt," gem dealer Ron LeBlanc investigates remote regions of the world searching for precious stones. Additionally, America’s great landmarks are rediscovered with host Don Wildman as he reveals hidden “Monumental Mysteries.”

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NBCU Announces Another Round of Ad Sales Appointments

NBCUniversal, which recently retooled its senior sales team -- as we reported last month -- has announed a number of additional appointments of senior digital ad sales and strategic sales executives in its Ad Sales division.

The company announced: “Scott Schiller, Executive Vice President, Digital Ad Sales, and Krishan Bhatia, Executive Vice President, Digital Strategy and Operations, have taken on expanded roles. Barry Fischer has been appointed to the new role of Executive Vice President, Sales Analytics. Earl Marshall has been named Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Ad Sales. Mike Mayer has been appointed Senior Vice President, Sales Solutions. Effective immediately, each of these executives will report to Linda Yaccarino, President of Ad Sales, NBCUniversal.

“Additionally, John Shea, EVP and NBCUniversal’s Chief Marketing Officer, Integrated Media, will join the Ad Sales division to drive strategy, innovation and creative for cross-portfolio ad deals. He will jointly report to Yaccarino and Lauren Zalaznick, NBCUniversal’s Chairman, Entertainment & Digital Networks and Integrated Media.”

Said Yaccarino: “With these important additions to our previously announced senior leadership team, we are well suited to serve our brand and advertising partners. They each strengthen our team with a wealth of experience from across the business and an understanding of how to effectively manage the execution of our sales programs in the rapidly changing digital landscape.”

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Comedy Central Unveils Midseason Lineup, New Programs

Comedy Central has released its midseason schedule, featuring a number of new programs along with season premiere dates for returning series.

Among the new shows: “Kroll Show,” a sketch comedy series from Nick Kroll, which bows Jan. 16; “The Jeselnik Offensive,” a weekly topical series starring Anthony Jeselnik, premiering Feb. 19; “The Ben Show,” a sketch/man-on-the-street hybrid starring Ben Hoffman, set for Feb. 28; “Nathan For You,” a docu-reality comedy starring Nathan Fielder, which premieres Feb. 28; and “Inside Amy Schumer,” set for an April 30 debut.

Also on tap are all-new stand-up specials featuring Anthony Jeselnik (Jan. 13), Kristen Schaal (Jan. 18) and Katt Williams (Feb. 23).

Here’s Comedy Central’s rundown of premiere dates:

Tuesday, January 8 at 10:30 p.m.

Jeff Ross Lights the Flame with the Season Two Premiere of “The Burn with Jeff Ross”


Wednesday, January 16 at 10:00 p.m.

The Guys Go Back to Work with All-New Episodes of “Workaholics”


Wednesday, January 16 at 10:30 p.m.

Nick Kroll Unleashes His Universe in the New Sketch Series “Kroll Show”


Tuesday, February 5 at 10:00 p.m.

Season Five of “Tosh.0” and Daniel Tosh’s Next 100 Episodes Kick Off


Tuesday, February 19 at 10:30 p.m.

Anthony Jeselnik Brings his Razor-Sharp Take on Each Week’s Must-See “Train Wreck” News in “The Jeselnik Offensive”


Thursday, February 28 at 10:00 p.m.

New Sketch/Man-on-the-Street Hybrid Series “The Ben Show” Starring Ben Hoffman


Thursday, February 28 at 10:30 p.m.

Nathan Fielder Draws Real People into an Experience Far Beyond What They Signed Up For in the New Docu-Reality Series “Nathan For You”


Tuesday, April 30 at 10:30 p.m.

Amy Schumer Explores Sex, Relationships and the General Clusterf*ck that is Life in the New Series “Inside Amy Schumer”

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Aspiring Filmmaker -- a Recent College Graduate With a Viral Video Under His Belt -- Lands a Show in Development at Fox

Fox has tapped a recent Columbia University graduate and aspiring filmmaker to develop a show based on his viral video, Deadline.com reports.

Shawn Wines, along with producer Aaron Kaplan, will develop "Upstairs," based on Wines' video by the same name, which has drawn more than 2 million online views, the piece reports.

The single-camera comedy project is described as a male version of "New Girl" and centers on an average guy and his trust-fund roommate who live across the hall from a beautiful woman. The show will feature aspects of daily life in New York, the piece adds.

“This marks the first sale for Wines, whose graduate thesis short at Columbia, ‘High Maintenance,’ won a Silver medal at last year’s Student Academy Awards; landed on the Viewfinder, a Black List for aspiring filmmakers; and made the festival circuit,” the story reports. “Ironically, it was not ‘High Maintenance’ that opened the door for Wines but ‘Upstairs,’ which he wrote and directed as a side project. Kaplan’s mom actually spotted the racy video online and made him watch it. That led to the TV project, which Kaplan developed with Wines.”

Here’s the online clip of “Upstairs” -- complete with plenty of four-letter words:

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Jeff Zucker Eyes Booting Piers Morgan Out of Prime Time, But Not Off CNN. Morgan's Current $8 Million Contract Ends Next Year

As new CNN chief Jeff Zucker looks for ways to pump life into the cable news channel’s ratings, one change that is reportedly under consideration is booting Piers Morgan’s talk show from prime time.

Morgan might get his show pushed back into late-night hours, with the slumping network considering airing his show at 10 p.m. or later, reports the New York Post. Morgan, whose show now airs at 9 p.m., might be shifted because Zucker and his Time Warner bosses want to boost ratings during the prime-time hours of 7-10 p.m., the piece notes.

Morgan replaced CNN fixture Larry King in 2010 after King retired. When Morgan's three-year, $8 million contract expires next year, Zucker may try to find a new role for him at CNN, although he won't be pushed out of the network, according to the piece.

CNN also wants to stop airing repeats of Anderson Cooper’s "AC360," which has aired at 8 p.m. and again at 10 p.m. since CNN canceled Eliot Spitzer's show more than a year ago. Spitzer has since resurfaced with a show on Current TV.

If Morgan were moved to 10 p.m., he would compete against Charlie Rose on Bloomberg TV, while an even later period would place him against late-night hosts such as Jay Leno and David Letterman.

CNN declined to comment and Morgan's agent didn't return calls.

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NBC Peacock Resurfaces in Comcast's Logo

The NBC peacock, an iconic symbol of the network, has taken roost on the logo of parent company Comcast, which dropped the image from NBCUniversal nearly two years ago, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In early 2011, Comcast unveiled a new logo for NBCUniversal after buying a 51% stake in the company. The logo had dropped the rainbow-feathered peacock and Universal's globe. The piece notes that the new Comcast logo replaces one that features a large red letter “C.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that the new logo was shown at a Monday meeting led by Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts, "NBC Nightly News" host Brian Williams and Comcast Cable President Neil Smit from the set of "Saturday Night Live." (Please note The WSJ is a subscription site and not all readers may be able to access this story.)

The peacock logo will gradually replace the old Comcast logo in TV and print ads, cable bills and Comcast service trucks, the THR story adds.

The peacock was adopted by NBC in 1956, replacing a xylophone with the letters N, B and C, as the network switched to color TV.

Said a Comcast spokeswoman: "The peacock is one of the most recognizable brands in America, and if you look at the iconic peacock with the modern new font for Comcast, it brings together the whole concept of media and technology.”

Thumbnail image for comcast-logo.jpg

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Some DirecTV Customers Hit With New Fee

Some DirecTV customers are getting hit by a new fee, with the satellite operator adding a "regional sports fee" of about $3 a month to new customers who subscribe to a channel tier above basic entertainment packages, reports The Wall Street Journal. (The WSJ is a subscription site and not all readers may be able to access the site.)

The fee is only added for new customers in some markets, such as New York and Los Angeles, according to a representative from DirecTV. That's because those areas have multiple regional sports networks on which several major teams are broadcast, the story says.

The fee "is a way of recovering some, but not all, of the skyrocketing cost of sports in certain markets," the rep said.

The piece reports: "Disclosure of the fee comes amid an intensifying debate about rising sports costs in television. In the past year or so, several media executives from cable and satellite firms and some other entertainment companies have complained that steep fees charged by sports channels are forcing up prices that consumers are charged for pay TV."

"That in turn is raising worries about consumers disconnecting their pay TV subscription, or cutting the cord," the piece adds.

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J.R. Ewing's Funeral Set for TV

In what might be the biggest television sendoff of 2013, the funeral for "Dallas" character J.R. Ewing has been set for the show's March 11 episode, reports TVLine.com.

The TNT revival of the classic television drama will lay oilman Ewing to rest in the second season's eighth episode. TV actor Larry Hagman, known for his portrayal of Ewing, filmed a number of second-season episodes before his sudden death, the piece adds.

The sendoff is rumored to include a number of returning "Dallas" actors, including several who haven't yet been seen on the new TNT version of the series. The second season returns Jan. 28.

The "Who Shot J.R.?" episode of the original "Dallas" series on CBS -- the actual episode title was "Who Done It?" -- aired Nov. 21, 1980, and remains one of the highest-rated TV programs of all time. The episode, in which J.R. Ewing survived being shot, had a 53.3 Nielsen rating and 76 share, with about 83 million viewers tuning in.

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Friction at AOL Over First TV Spot Under CEO Tim Armstrong -- Creative Differences Cited, With One Top Exec Leaving the Company in the Dispute

AOL has delayed its first television commercial under Chief Executive Tim Armstrong because of creative differences, reports Advertising Age. The company had been expected to launch a $10 million campaign this week, the story reports.

Armstrong got involved in the creative side of the campaign, pushing to end the 60-second spots with people dancing next to the AOL logo. Armstrong attended auditions for the dancers, with two of the auditions taking place at AOL's studio.

Former AOL Chief Marketing Officer Jolie Hunt didn't like the creative direction Armstrong wanted, and their disagreements contributed to her departure last week, the story says.

Now, the first TV ad, which had been slated to air this week, will debut sometime in 2013.

"Where we are today with the campaign is not great and we want to move it from good to great," said AOL spokeswoman Caroline Campbell.

The spots have a voiceover from Jonah Hill and were supposed to air during the telecasts of "Monday Night Football" and "The Voice," the story adds.

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Eccentric British TV Host Who Had Been On-Air for 65 Years -- And Was Still Working Regularly -- Dies at 89

Eccentric television host Patrick Moore died Sunday at 89, reports The New York Times. Moore, a British astronomer, was known for his work on the long-running BBC program "The Sky at Night," which has been on the air since 1957, the story notes.

The latest episode, which aired Sunday, showed Moore talking about the planet Mercury and the NASA spacecraft Messenger.

"With his trademark monocle, frumpy suits and penchant for playing the xylophone, Mr. Moore, who was knighted in 2001, was known as much for his outsize personality as his scientific work," the piece notes. "He also raised eyebrows with his often conservative views, publicly railing against British integration into Europe and once referring to immigrants as 'parasites.'"

Moore published more than 60 books about astronomy and collaborated with Queen guitarist Brian May, who is an amateur astronomer, and the astrophysicist Chris Lintott on the 2008 book "Bang! The Complete History of the Universe."

patrick-moore.jpgPatrick Moore

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Former 'Elmo' Puppeteer Hit With Another Lawsuit

Former "Elmo" puppeteer Kevin Clash, who resigned from "Sesame Street" last month, has been accused of sex abuse by a fourth alleged victim, reports NBC News' Today.com.

A fourth accuser has filed a lawsuit against Clash, the story says. The man, who uses the name John Doe, claims Clash befriended Doe when he was 16 or 17, in early 1995 or 1996. The accuser claims that Clash paid to fly him to New York, where alleged abuse occurred, the story adds.

"According to our lawsuit, Kevin Clash knowingly paid to transport a minor across state lines for the purpose of satisfying his sexual interests," said attorney Jeff Herman, who represents Doe and two other men who have accused Clash of sexual abuse, according to the report.

Clash's representatives didn't respond to a request for comment, the piece adds.

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ABC's 'This Week' to Keep Stephanopoulos Through 2013

ABC's "This Week" will keep anchor George Stephanopoulos through 2013, reports TVNewser.com.

He stepped into the role after Christiane Amanpour left the program at the end of last year, the story notes. He was expected to stay with the program at least through the election, while also juggling his role as co-anchor of "Good Morning America."

Stephanopoulos, a former top adviser to President Bill Clinton, is also the chief political correspondent for ABC News and primary substitute for anchor Diane Sawyer on “ABC World News.”

"This Week" will continue to tape in both New York and Washington to accommodate his schedule, the piece adds.

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John Malone Pays Barry Diller $300 Million for Controlling Stake in TripAdvisor

Media moguls John Malone and Barry Diller appear to have put their differences behind them, at least for the moment, Deadline.com reports. Diller stepped down as chairman and senior executive of TripAdvisor after Malone’s Liberty Interactive bought a controlling stake in the Internet’s top travel site, the piece reports.

Liberty, which includes the QVC shopping channel, bought 4.8 million shares for $62.50 a share, the story reports. “Liberty’s mix of Series B shares (which have 10 votes apiece) and Series A ones (one vote apiece) leave Liberty with 57% of the TripAdvisor votes, but just 22% of the equity,” the Deadline piece adds.

Said Diller: “My only reason for resigning as Chairman and disposing of my interests is that I have more obligations than time and transferring control of TripAdvisor to Liberty is something I’m very comfortable with -- Liberty has proven itself a fine steward and leader of its controlled businesses.”

Diller will stay on as a director of TripAdvisor, the piece notes.

“Liberty CEO Greg Maffei says that his company’s ‘increased investment’ in the travel site will make it ‘a strong addition to our portfolio,’” the piece reports.

The story adds: “Malone helped Diller change himself from Hollywood mogul to e-commerce entrepreneur in 1995 by giving the former head of Fox control of Home Shopping Network. But the relationship hit the skids in 2008; Liberty sued Diller saying that his plan to divide IAC into five separate companies diluted Malone’s investment. They clashed again in 2010 when Malone helped the effort to oust Diller as chairman of Live Nation.”

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Non-TV Worry: Police in Australia Upset Because iPhone Maps Led Travelers to a Snake-Infested, Remote Location Without Water Facilities Instead of a Popular Tourist Town

"Australian police have warned travelers off using Apple's troubled iPhone mapping software after several motorists became stuck in a snake-infested, desert corner of the country while using their phone for directions," Reuters reports.

The article continues, "Police in southeast Victoria state said they had been forced to rescue a number of motorists who had become stuck for up to 24 hours 'without food or water' after being directed to the arid Murray-Sunset National Park, instead of the tourist town of Mildura, 70 km (43 miles) away.

"'We had a fellow trapped in there just on Friday night after his car became bogged. He saw a snake, a goat and a fox, and he was too scared to get out of the car,' Mildura police Inspector Simon Clemence told Reuters on Tuesday."

The story adds, "The Murray-Sunset National Park is in Victoria's far northwest, a relatively untouched semi-arid region accessible only by four-wheel-drive vehicle. Clemence said at least six vehicles had become stuck on the desert park's sandy tracks after being directed by the iOS mapping system to turn off a long and infrequently sign-posted stretch of highway between South Australia state and Victoria.

"'These people have still been rescuable. But we've just had a 46C day (115 degrees F). If they were out there in that temperature and out of phone range, they would have been in serious trouble,' he said."

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Company to Offer Streaming Movies to High-End Home Theaters

"A Silicon Valley company known for costly movie servers and a court battle over copying DVDs, on Tuesday is revamping its strategy for the era of downloads," reports The Wall Street Journal, adding, "The closely held company [Kaleidescape] plans to let users of its hardware buy and download digital movies, while still being able to make and store copies of DVD and Blu-ray discs they own. Kaleidescape is initially stocking its first online store with movies licensed under a multiyear deal with Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. movie studio."

[Pleas note that The WSJ is behind a firewall and might charge you to read its story.]

The article continues, "Kaleidescape joins a crowded marketplace of services that let people stream, rent or buy movies through computers or set-top boxes. And most of those options have a much lower upfront cost; Kaleidescape's systems, designed for people installing fancy home theaters, start at $14,490."

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Software Guru at Center of Murder Case Sells TV Rights to Story

John McAfee, the anti-virus software icon who started McAfee Associates and is now at the center of an international murder case, has sold the television rights to his life story, reports the New York Post.

McAfee sold the rights to his own publicist, the piece adds. Brian Fitzgerald, who is a co-founder of Canadian television production company Impact Future Media and is also McAfee's official spokesman, said his company bought the rights.

The working title of a movie based on McAfee's life is "Running in the Background: The True Story of John McAfee,” Fitzgerald said.

McAfee is wanted by Belize authorities for questioning in the death of another U.S. expatriate and McAfee's neighbor, Gregory Faull, in November. He's currently fighting extradition after being arrested in Guatemala last week.

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'Amazing Race' Finale Delivers Not-so-Amazing Ratings

The two-hour season finale of CBS reality franchise “The Amazing Race” stumbled at the finish line Sunday night, delivering a number that tied the program’s lowest-rated finale ever, based on Nielsen overnight results.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “Race” dipped to a 2.6 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, down a whopping 31% from the finale for the fall season a year ago, and down 4% from the show’s performance a week earlier.

Other programming on CBS Sunday night was also down: “60 Minutes” plunged 42% from a football-delayed episode a week ago to a 1.9 average in 18-49, while “The Mentalist” slipped 11% from its most recent fresh episode to a 1.6.

Meanwhile, NFL football was up, enabling NBC to coast to an easy win for the night. “Sunday Night Football” delivered a 6.9 average rating in the 18-49 demo, up from a 6.6 a week ago.

The report notes that live football broadcasts mean the numbers will be subject to more than the usual adjustments.

For prime time overall, NBC came in with a preliminary 5.7 average in viewers 18-49, ahead of Fox (3.5 average), CBS (2.2) and ABC (1.6). NBC also had a big win in total viewers, averaging 15.9 million to 9.6 million for CBS, 8.5 million for Fox and 6.7 million for ABC.

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Charlie Sheen's Ex Denies Drug Overdose

Charlie Sheen’s ex-wife, who was rushed to a hospital Friday, is denying that she had a drug overdose and is playing down media reports of drug problems, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

A representative for Brooke Mueller said the reports have it wrong, and Mueller was just exhausted.

“Mueller, who is the mother of Sheen’s twin sons, Max and Bob, was allegedly rushed to hospital after she was found unresponsive by an assistant at her home in Tarzana, Calif.,” the story reports. “But her spokesman Steve Honig, who until recently represented another embattled star, Lindsay Lohan, insists the drama has been blown out of proportion.”

Honig told WENN: “An assistant thought Brooke was non-responsive while she was napping and hastily called an ambulance.

“As a precaution, Brooke was brought to a local hospital and discharged after an hour. She was diagnosed with exhaustion and dehydration and is now fine and resting at home. That’s it.”

The report adds: “Mueller has battled drug addiction in recent years and checked herself in to a drug recovery center in 2011 in a bid to regain her health. She has been in and out of rehab since, and signed up for a wellness retreat earlier this year to maintain her sobriety.”

TMZ reports that Mueller said she obtained medical records to prove drugs were not involved in the incident. TMZ also reportedly talked with Mueller’s assistant, who admitted she overreacted.

The assistant “tells us she's new on the job, freaked out when she couldn't get Brooke to wake up and mentioned Brooke's history of drug abuse when she was talking to the 911 operator,” TMZ reports.

TMZ quotes the assistant saying: "I made a mistake ... I overreacted."

But the TMZ report adds: “Brooke's friends and family members, including her mother, have been very worried about Brooke's drug use for the past couple of weeks. Publicly, Brooke's mom has been an apologist for Brooke ... but privately, she's expressed deep concern.”

TMZ reported Saturday: “Last night, Brooke told us she had been making jewelry nonstop for the past several days ... and was so exhausted, she simply passed out cold.”

brooke-mueller.jpgBrooke Mueller

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Bravo Developing Series Based on 1992 Robert Zemeckis Movie

A 1992 feature film directed by Robert Zemeckis is being adapted for the small screen by Bravo, Variety reports. The project revives Zemeckis’ “Death Becomes Her,” a comedy that starred Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis.

Zemeckis is better known for directing the “Back to the Future” movies along with “Romancing the Stone,” “Forrest Gump, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” “Contact” and a string of successful movies. He also executive produced the “Tales From the Crypt” TV series in the 1990s.

Zemeckis will executive produce the new project as an hourlong drama along with Jack Rapke and Jackie Levine. Universal Cable Productions and Lupara Productions will produce, keeping the project in the NBCUniversal family. The feature film was from Universal Pictures.

"Death Becomes Her" was a modest hit in its theatrical release, earning $58 million in domestic box office and $149 million worldwide. The plot concerns two rivals (Streep and Hawn) who drink a magic potion to ensure eternal youth.

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Sony Pictures TV Announces Executive Move

Sony Pictures Television announced a change in its executive ranks, adding to the responsibilities for veteran exec Amy Carney.

Carney was named president, advertiser sales, strategy & research, and relocates to Los Angeles. The announcement came from Sony Pictures Television President Steve Mosko, to whom Carney reports.

“Carney, who continues in her role overseeing advertiser sales, will now also lead SPT’s worldwide research group, which conducts and assembles all program, sales, and channels research for the division,” the company announced.

Said Mosko: “Amy’s expertise in ad sales has granted SPT success across several platforms. Using her vast amount of knowledge and experience, she is the perfect person to oversee our strategy & research group, which is integral to the success of our businesses."

The company added: “Carney directs the sales teams based in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, which sell the commercial inventory in SPT’s first-run and off-network programs and digital platforms such as PlayStation, as well as FEARnet and 3Net. Meanwhile the research teams are based in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, London & Hong Kong and provide both research and strategic planning for SPT’s businesses around the world.”

Carney has been with SPT since September 2003.

Amy-Carney.jpgAmy Carney

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TV Network Founded by MLK III and Andrew Young Inks Pact With Broadcaster

The network co-founded by Martin Luther King III and Andrew Young has finalized a deal with a broadcaster to expand its presence, reports Deadline.com.

The deal between digital network Bounce TV and broadcaster Univision will make Bounce TV a multicast channel that will appear on 62 Univision-owned stations. It will be in major markets including San Francisco, Boston, Miami, Denver, Sacramento, Raleigh and Tampa, the story reports.

The agreement will reportedly increase Bounce's penetration to African American TV households by 6 percent, from 80% to 86%. Bounce, which launched in September 2011, aims its programming mainly at African Americans in the 25-54 age range.

Term of the agreement have yet to be disclosed. Univision Television Group President Kevin Cuddihy said the collaboration will ”create a powerful one-two combination for viewers and advertisers.”

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Color of the Year for 2013 Announced -- But for Many of Us, the News Is Simply That There IS a Color of the Year

The people whose business it is to decide such things have announced the color of the year for 2013. Time magazine reports that, based on a poll of designers and brands about colors, the Pantone Color Institute has designated emerald green as the color of the year for the coming year.

The institute's executive director, Leatrice Eiseman, said in a press release: “Green is the most abundant hue in nature -- the human eye sees more green than any other color in the spectrum. It’s also the color of growth, renewal and prosperity -- no other color conveys regeneration more than green. For centuries, many countries have chosen green to represent healing and unity."

If you’re like those of us at TVWeek who did not realize a color of the year existed, you may be interested to learn that you have been living for almost 12 months now in the year of Tangerine Tango.

The report notes: “The firm characterized emerald as ‘vivid, verdant’ and ‘promoting balance and harmony,’ according to the release. In contrast, 2012′s ‘spirited’ hue Tangerine Tango ‘provided the energy boost we needed to recharge and move forward.’”

The piece notes that celebrities including Angelina Jolie, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Elizabeth Moss have already begun the green revolution, wearing clover-green gowns at the 2011 Golden Globe Awards.

“More recently, designers such as Tracy Reese, Nanette Lepore and Marimekko have shown emerald garments in their Spring 2013 collections," the report adds. “Home goods retailers have also incorporated the lush tone into their product lines: JCPenney will debut Pantone Emerald bedding, accessories, pillows and towels in February. A 2013 Color of the Year collection will appear on cosmetics vendor Sephora’s shelves in March as well.”

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CBS Sports Network Rolls Out Special Programming Lineup Surrounding Super Bowl

CBS Sports Network has announced a lineup of Super Bowl-related programming in connection with the CBS broadcast of Super Bowl XLVII, set for Sunday, Feb. 3.

The cable network will feature more than 50 hours of live programming from New Orleans, the site of the Super Bowl, including a prime-time program hosted by Greg Gumbel.

The coverage will include six programs originating on-site, with an extended postgame show from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to feature the “NFL Today” announcers.

“Super Bowl Live” and “Inside the Super Bowl” will provide in-depth coverage throughout Super Bowl week. Meanwhile, current CBS Sports Network shows “NFL Monday QB,” “Rome,” “Lead Off” and “The Tim Brando Show” will also originate from New Orleans.

Here’s the schedule released today by CBS Sports Network:

CBS SPORTS NETWORK SUPER BOWL XLVII PROGRAMMING SCHEDULE

(All Times ET)

Monday, Jan. 28

9:00 AM-12:00 PM – TIM BRANDO SHOW
4:00-6:00 PM – INSIDE THE SUPER BOWL
6:00-7:00 PM – ROME
7:00-9:00 PM – NFL MONDAY QB
9:00-10:00 PM – SUPER BOWL CHRONICLES
12:00-1:00 AM – LEAD OFF

Tuesday, Jan. 29

9:00 AM-12:00 PM – TIM BRANDO SHOW
4:00-6:00 PM – INSIDE THE SUPER BOWL
6:00-7:00 PM – ROME
7:00-9:00 PM – SUPER BOWL LIVE
12:00-1:00 AM – LEAD OFF

Wednesday, Jan. 30

9:00 AM-12:00 PM – TIM BRANDO SHOW
4:00-6:00 PM – INSIDE THE SUPER BOWL
6:00-7:00 PM – ROME
7:00-9:00 PM – SUPER BOWL LIVE
12:00-1:00 AM – LEAD OFF

Thursday, Jan. 31

9:00 AM-12:00 PM – TIM BRANDO SHOW
4:00-6:00 PM – INSIDE THE SUPER BOWL
6:00-7:00 PM – ROME
7:00-9:00 PM – SUPER BOWL LIVE
12:00-1:00 AM – LEAD OFF

Friday, Feb. 1

9:00 AM-12:00 PM – TIM BRANDO SHOW
4:00-6:00 PM – INSIDE THE SUPER BOWL
6:00-7:00 PM – ROME
7:00-9:00 PM – SUPER BOWL LIVE
12:00-1:00 AM – LEAD OFF

Saturday, Feb. 2

11:00 AM-2:00 PM – INSIDE THE SUPER BOWL
10:00 PM-12:00 AM – SUPER BOWL LIVE

Sunday, Feb. 3

9:00-11:00 AM – SUPER BOWL LIVE
10:30-11:30 PM – SUPER BOWL LIVE – Immediately Following Super Bowl XLVII

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Jeff Zucker Eyes CNN Push for 'Today' and 'GMA' Viewers -- and He Has One Anchor in Mind to Lead the Way

Newly appointed CNN chief Jeff Zucker is hoping one anchor can help boost the network's morning ratings, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

That anchor is Erin Burnett, who is now hosting the 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. hour on the network. Zucker reportedly thinks Burnett, a former host at CNBC, is a real talent, the story adds.

Zucker would like to pair Burnett with a male anchor and compete for the audience for "Today" on NBC and "Good Morning America" on ABC, the piece adds. Zucker served as executive producer for "Today" earlier in his career.

Erin-Burnett.jpgErin Burnett

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One of the Stars of CBS's 'How I Met Your Mother' Might Not Return

One of the stars of the CBS sitcom "How I Met Your Mother" might not return to the show, Deadline.com reports, as his film career has taken off in the seven years since the show first went on the air.

The star is Jason Segel, who plays Marshall Eriksen on the series.

CBS has said it wants to bring back "HIMYM" for another season. Meanwhile, producer 20th Century Fox TV is in talks about renewing deals for creators Craig Thomas and Carter Bays, whose contracts are up at the end of the current season, as well as for the series' stars, the piece says. Talks are also ongoing between CBS and 20th Century Fox TV about renewing the license deal for the show.

The stars of "HIMYM" have a supportive network and it's possible that Segel could agree to a final season, or even an abbreviated final season, the piece reports.

"CBS and 20th TV both have good track records in completing complex negotiations. CBS has been able to bring back 'Two And A Half Men,' also from an outside studio (Warner Bros.), several times in down-to-the-wire negotiations," the story notes.

jason-segel.jpgJason Segel

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Why the Jets Should Trade Tim Tebow to L.A. -- Even Though the City Has No Pro Football Team

“The sports move of the century” -- a trade by the New York Jets that would send little-used quarterback Tim Tebow to Los Angeles, even though the city has no pro football team -- has been proposed by TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross.

Click here to get all the details of this “outside the box” plan that would finally put Tebow to good use.

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Fans Mourn Singer Killed in Plane Crash; Jenni Rivera Had Comedy in Development at ABC

Fans in the U.S. and Mexico are mourning Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera, who was killed Sunday when the small plane she was traveling in crashed in northern Mexico, reports CNN.com.

As previously reported, Rivera, 43, was developing an ABC comedy called "Jenni," about a single, middle-class Latina woman who is raising a family while running a family business. She has sold more than 20 million albums worldwide.

The crash left no survivors, according to the story. At least five other people were on board with Rivera: her sister, her publicist, her attorney, a family friend and two pilots, the story adds. The plane crashed in the mountains of northern Mexico.

Rivera, born in Long Beach, Calif., became known as Mexico’s queen of banda music. She had been trying to cross over into the English-language U.S. market after starring in "I Love Jenni," a successful reality show airing on Telemundo's mun2, CNN adds.

Thumbnail image for jenni-rivera.jpgJenni Rivera

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Fired Judge Sues 'X Factor' Producer

"The X Factor" producer Blue Orbit Productions was hit with a lawsuit by fired judge and British pop star Cheryl Cole, who claims she's owed at least $2.3 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq.

Cole, who was fired from the Fox program before the first season aired, claims she had a pay or play contract for two seasons. While she was paid $1.8 million in salary for the first season, she allegedly wasn't paid an additional $2 million for the second season or money promised for expenses, the complaint says.

Expenses included a $25,000 allowance for her stylist and a $100,000 wardrobe allowance.

Blue Orbit couldn't be reached for comment, the story adds.

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Why a U.S. Senator Wants MTV to Pull the Plug on New Series

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III has written a letter to MTV President Stephen Friedman asking him to pull what the Democratic lawmaker refers to as "the travesty called 'Buckwild,'" The Washington Post reports.

As previously reported, "Buckwild" is MTV's replacement for "Jersey Shore," and features nine young friends in West Virginia doing "Jackass"-style stunts.

While Manchin said he has only seen the show's previews, he wrote, "I am repulsed at this business venture, where some Americans are making money off of the poor decisions of our youth," the story says. He added, "Instead of showcasing the beauty of our people and our state, you preyed on young people, coaxed them into displaying shameful behavior -- and now you are profiting from it. That is just wrong.”

An executive producer for the show, John Stevens of Zoo Productions, defended the program to EW.com's Inside TV.

"It’s not like looking at a train wreck," Stevens said. He added, "[I]t’s going to get people talking and it might change people’s perspectives. These kids are totally wild and carefree. It will be very refreshing to the MTV audience.”

Stevens said he found the group featured on the show while filming another reality program in West Virginia. He added that the appeal of the show stems from the teens' lack of technology, particularly one youth who has no cell phone and avoids TV.

But in Sen. Manchin’s view the show is unfair to his state, according to The Post. “This show plays to ugly, inaccurate stereotypes about the people of West Virginia,” he said in an interview last week.

Manchin’s letter adds: “Let me tell you: People have given their all for this great country. They’ve done the heavy lifting to produce the energy that is needed to produce the steel that builds our factories and cities. The proud veterans of our state have shed more blood and made more sacrifices than most other states to keep America free.”

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NBCU Reportedly in Talks to Rebrand G4 Network

NBCUniversal is talking with publisher Hearst about partnering over the cable channel G4, which could be rebranded as the Esquire Channel, tied to the Hearst men's magazine, reports Deadline.com.

The partnership would make sense, as it would allow the G4 to keep its male focus but add a level of sophistication to the network, the story says. NBCUniversal declined to comment.

The decision to go upscale came after NBCUniversal's talks with potential partners such as WWE and UFC fell through. NBCUniversal and Hearst have partnered before, when both were co-owners of A+E Networks. NBCUniversal sold its stake in July.

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NBC Sports Group Forms Wide-Ranging Partnership With Yahoo

Yahoo and NBC Sports Group have formed a content and promotional partnership in which the two entities will collaborate on premium news and events to create original online and on-air programming, reports B&C.

“While Yahoo Sports and NBC Sports Group will remain as separate entities, they will develop together original, made-for-Web programming that will appear on both websites,” the story reports. “Yahoo's reporting will be featured on NBC TV and Yahoo Sports will promote the ‘NBC Sports Live Extra’ video player. NBC Sports will also leverage Yahoo's Rivals.com college website.”

Additionally, Yahoo will leverage NBC Sports' Regional Networks in the markets they serve, where the NBC networks will become Yahoo's preferred content provider. “Yahoo Sports' team pages in those markets will be integrated into the NBC regional websites,” the piece notes. “Yahoo! Sports' fantasy platform will become the exclusive fantasy game provider of NBC Sports' Rotoworld.”

Said Mark Lazarus, chairman of the NBC Sports Group: "The complementary nature of this partnership is unmatched in digital sports media. Through our growing television and digital platforms, the Yahoo Sports partnership dramatically expands the digital reach of NBC Sports around the biggest sporting events. We are committed to continually growing this alliance for the benefit of both parties, our sports-property partners, and, most importantly, sports fans."

The partnership encompasses the following sites: Yahoo! Sports, the Rivals Network, NBCSports.com, NBC Sports Regional Networks, GolfChannel.com, Rotoworld.com and Allisports.com.

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ABC Takes a Pass -- Again -- on John Leguizamo Comedy Project

ABC has gone above and beyond in an effort to get a comedy project starring John Leguizamo off the ground, but after passing on it for the second time, the network appears to have finally given up on the project.

ABC made the decision not to move forward with "Kings of Van Nuys," Deadline.com reports. The decision came after network execs got a look at the second pilot for the project, which is a multicamera effort based on the British show "Only Fools and Horses," the story notes.

Leguizamo played one of two streetwise brothers, with Dustin Ybarra playing the other brother. Along with their grandfather -- played by Christopher Lloyd -- the brothers develop outrageous get-rich-quick schemes.

The project was first passed over last season, but ABC chief Paul Lee -- a fan of the original show -- ordered a retooling, the story notes. Both pilots were scripted by Steven Cragg and Brian Bradley, with “virtually the entire team from the first pilot, including everyone from the cast and director Ted Wass,” returning for the new pilot, the piece adds. The second pilot got a green light back in August.

The cast of the pilot will now be available for pilot season, the piece notes.

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Lifetime Sets First TV Special Dedicated to the Royal Pregnancy

Lifetime is rolling out special programming in response to the royal baby craze, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed. The cable channel announced plans for an hourlong special, "Secrets of the Royal Nursery."

The show will air Thursday, Dec. 13, at 10 p.m., following "Project Runway All-Stars," and marks the first U.S. special dedicated to the pregnancy of Kate Middleton and Prince William.

The program “will go behind-the-scenes of the monarchy, revealing wat the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge should expect in the coming months before the arrival of what many are dubbing the world's most famous celebrity baby,” the piece reports.

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Starz Moves Forward With Sci-Fi Project

Starz is developing a sci-fi project from "Zoolander" producer Adam Schroeder and "Ray Donovan’s” Bryan Zuriff, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The drama, “Human Error,” is set in the near future, when artificial humans called "synthetics" are introduced into society. The story focuses on a human detective who is paired with a synthetic and works on a case that uncovers a conspiracy, the piece adds.

Schroeder is also behind “Chronicle” and “The Truman Show,” the report notes. British screenwriter and playwright Philip Gawthorne is set to write the pilot.

Starz has been adding to its lineup of original programming, with that effort gaining urgency as the network is set to lose its Disney films in 2016, the story adds.

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Super Bowl's 'Second Screen' Nearly Sold Out of Ad Inventory -- 'Exponential' Growth Seen in What Will Be Only the Event's Second Live-Streaming

The Super Bowl's "second screen" -- live-streaming of the event on CBSSports.com -- has nearly sold out of ad inventory, reports Brian Steinberg in Advertising Age.

Fueling ad sales is the “exponential” growth in consumers’ familiarity with online video streaming since the 2012 Super Bowl, the piece reports.

"We only have a few packages remaining," said David Morris, chief client officer of CBS Interactive, which is handling digital inventory for what will be only the second live-streaming of the Super Bowl.

Viewers of the live-streaming event will see ads supporting the pre-game and Super Bowl broadcasts on CBS. The advertisements will be both video commercials, which will appear during breaks in the game, and ads that are placed around the video player during the game, the piece notes.

Marketers buying digital time include auto companies, consumer packaged goods, restaurants, beverages, retail and technology, the story says.

Morris declined to disclose the pricing for the digital inventory, although it's significantly less than the on-air Super Bowl ads, which have sold for an average of $3.7 million to $3.8 million, Steinberg writes.

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Weekend Viewing: TVWeek Highly Recommends This Movie, on TV at Midnight (ET) Tonight [and Repeated on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2012]

[Updated 12/7/12 to correct  that the film is on TCM at midnight ET which is 9 PM PT]

Second Update on 12/8/12: TCM will repeat this movie on Christmas Eve, Monday, Dec. 24th, 2012 at 8 pm Eastern time (5 pm Pacific time).

By Chuck Ross

Hmm. A dilemma. How to get you to watch one of the most delightful movies I’ve ever seen without making it so enticing that you’re bound to be disappointed.

I’d like to say simply that the film, 1940’s “The Shop Around the Corner,” directed by Ernst Lubitsch and starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan, won Best Picture of the Year and a bunch of acting Oscars, and one for Best Screenplay, but the simple truth is this movie wasn’t nominated for a single Academy Award.

Yet another great screenwriter and director, Billy Wilder, called it the best picture he ever saw.

Am I over-hyping yet?

Interestingly, over-hyping something is a problem “Shop” director Lubitsch would probably easily avoid, since he was the proprietor of “The Lubitsch Touch.”

Here’s how that “touch” was once defined by filmmaker and film historian Peter Bogdanovich: “It was as famous a moniker in its day as Hitchcock's 'Master of Suspense,' although perhaps not as superficial. The phrase does connote something light, strangely indefinable, yet nonetheless tangible, and seeing Lubitsch's films -- more than in almost any other director's work -- one can feel this certain spirit; not only in the tactful and impeccably appropriate placement of the camera, the subtle economy of his plotting, the oblique dialogue which had a way of saying everything through indirection, but also -- and particularly -- in the performance of every single player, no matter how small the role."

This Lubitsch Touch is very much in evidence in “The Shop Around the Corner,” the must-see film that shows tonight midnight  ET (9 p.m. PT on 12/7/12) on TCM. [TCM will repeat this movie on Christmas Eve, Monday, Dec. 24th, 2012 at 8 pm Eastern time (5 pm Pacific time).] If you are otherwise engaged, I urge you to put it on your DVR.

But, unlike Lubitsch, I have no desire – nor am I really able – to be subtle or oblique when talking about this movie. It’s a romantic comedy, and it takes place in Budapest close to Christmas. So it’s a terrific movie to see at this time of year especially.

I don’t believe I’ve ever talked to a movie critic (or read about one) who does not like this movie. So here we go. Please don’t let all this praise ruin the movie for you.

Better yet, maybe you should see this movie, make up your own mind, and then come back and see if you agree with the critics’ comments below. (Almost all of these comments about "Shop Around the Corner," and more, can be also found at AltScreen.com.)

Said Pauline Kael: “Close to perfection -- one of the most beautifully acted and paced romantic comedies ever made in this country … [The performances of James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan] are full of grace notes; when you watch later James Stewart films you may wonder what became of this other, deft, sensitive, pre-drawling Stewart. As for Sullavan, this is a peerless performance: she makes the shopgirl’s pretenses believable, lyrical, and funny.”

Critic David Kehr once wrote in the Chicago Reader: "There are no art deco nightclubs, shimmering silk gowns, or slamming bedroom doors to be seen, but this 1940 film is one of Ernst Lubitsch’s finest and most enduring works, a romantic comedy of dazzling range that takes place almost entirely within the four walls of a leather-goods store in prewar Budapest. Interwoven with subplots centered on the other members of the shop’s little family, the romance proceeds through Lubitsch’s brilliant deployment of point of view, allowing the audience to enter the perceptions of each individual character at exactly the right moment to develop maximum sympathy and suspense."

Director Whit Stillman (“Metropolitan,” “Damsels in Distress”), calling “The Shop Around the Corner” his “Favorite Christmas movie,” once told The New York Times, “The film’s timeless quality suggests the lasting attractions of Christmas, changing with the period of one’s life but not so much between the generations. Perhaps its greatest charm is as a loving portrayal of a microcosm of humanity, the shop employees each playing their necessary parts as if divinely ordained and not just Lubitsch-arranged -- the God of heaven manifest on Earth, or at least on film."

Peter Bogdonavich -- whom I quoted above about "The Lubitsch Touch" -- has written specifically about this movie that: “[It] indeed [has] one of the richest looks at the oddly contradictory and unpredictably diverse traits of human nature. The picture never for a second stretches credulity; you soon realize Lubitsch’s unspoken point that regular people are the same all over the world, no matter how individually quirky they may be. 'The Shop Around the Corner' is a picture that makes you feel good about people and life, even while it touches you with the transience of happiness, the pain of regret, the essentially irreconcilable differences between youth and age. Like all great art, it enriches the soul, makes you better through its special goal. It is one of Lubitsch’s greatest gifts to us."

And, finally, there was this short, unsigned paragraph from The New Yorker on 4-1-1999:
"Lubitsch and writer Samson Raphaelson agreed that their enchanting 1940 collaboration was their truest work. If any movie deserves the adjective 'timeless,' it’s this one. It’s a distinctively bittersweet comedy about all the romance and intrigue that arise among the employees of a Budapest leather-goods and gift shop. The movie kids -- and honors -- men and women who hope to build a life around a steady job and family and to make their co-workers a family too. If the 1932 Lubitsch-Raphaelson farce 'Trouble in Paradise' is an ideal movie about seduction, this is the consummate movie about courtship."

“The Shop Around the Corner” is based on the play “Parfumerie” by Miklos Laszlo. The play was also the source material for the movie “You’ve Got Mail” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. The only thing the two films really have in common is their plot. As a comparison of the two movies proves, remaking a film is far from the same thing as making a film better.

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TV Show Creator and Writer Behind 'Night Court,' 'Barney Miller' 'M*A*S*H' and Other Series Dead at 63

The creator of the quirky 1980s NBC comedy series “Night Court,” who also wrote and produced for ABC’s “Barney Miller” and worked on a number of other high-profile TV shows, has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Reinhold Weege was 63.

Weege was a staff writer and producer on “Barney Miller” before he left the show to start “Night Court.” The new series went on to a nine-season run, winning seven Emmys and earning a total of 31 nominations. Reege was a part of four Emmy nominations for outstanding comedy series -- one as a member of the team behind “Barney Miller” and three for “Night Court.”

Weege died Dec. 1 of natural causes in La Jolla, Calif., according to a family spokeswoman.

“’Night Court,’ which starred the youthful Harry Anderson as night-shift judge and Mel Torme fan Harry Stone and John Larroquette as lecherous assistant district attorney Dan Fielding, began as a midseason replacement and ran from 1984-92. It was a top 10 show in 1986-87 and 1987-88,” THR reports. “’Night Court’ anchored an early ‘Must See TV’ Thursday comedy lineup for NBC, which opened with ‘The Cosby Show,’ followed by ‘Family Ties’ and ‘Cheers.’”

Larroquette broke ground by winning four consecutive Emmys for best supporting comedy actor for his work on “Night Court,” the piece notes. THR adds: “In an inside joke during the third season, it was revealed that his character’s real first name was Reinhold, but he changed it to Dan out of embarrassment.”

Weege, who also received four WGA nominations and a Humanitas Award, retired from “Night Court” after six seasons, the piece reports.

Weege, who hailed from Chicago, also wrote for the TV series “M*A*S*H” and “Fish,” Abe Vigoda’s “Barney Miller” spinoff.

“He created the short-lived sitcom ‘Park Place,’ which was set in a legal aid clinic and starred Harold Gould and Alice Drummond, and wrote and directed TV's ‘Nikki and Alexander,’ with Tim Matheson and Irena Ferris,” THR adds.

reinhold-weege.jpgReinhold Weege

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ABC's Rocky Thursday Ratings Ride: A Season High, a Season Low and a Rebound From an All-Time Low

While ABC saw mixed results in its effort to keep pace in the Thursday night ratings, CBS continued to get strong numbers from its comedies “The Big Bang Theory” and “Two and a Half Men,” based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that CBS muscled its way to a comfortable win for the night in the key 18-49 demo. “Big Bang” was the top show of the night with a 5.3 average rating, even though that number was down from a 5.5 a week ago. “Men” ticked up two-tenths of a point to a 4.2.

CBS’s dramas were also up: “Person of Interest” rose three-tenths to a 3.2 average in 18-49, while “Elementary” ticked up one-tenth to a 2.3.

ABC saw “Last Resort” rebound from last week’s series-low 1.0 average in the 18-49 demo, climbing to a 1.2. “Scandal” also provided good news, hitting a season high with a 2.5, up three-tenths. But “Grey’s Anatomy” equaled its season low with a 3.0, down one-tenth.

The Fox lineup was down, but still good enough for second place overall. “The X Factor” dropped three-tenths to a 2.4 average in viewers 18-49, while “Glee” slipped one-tenth to a 2.1.

NBC spent another Thursday night in fifth place among the broadcast networks, even though a number of its shows were up slightly. “The Office” ticked up to a 2.1 average in 18-49, improving on last week’s series-low 1.9; “Parks & Recreation” rose one-tenth to a 1.5; and “Rock Center” managed a one-tenth improvement to a 1.0. Meanwhile, “30 Rock” dipped two-tenths to a 1.1 and “Up All Night” held steady with a 1.2.

For prime time overall, CBS cruised home with a 3.4 average among viewers 18-49, easily topping Fox (2.3 average), ABC (2.2), Univision (1.5) and NBC (1.3). CBS won by a wide margin in total viewers, averaging 13.9 million to 7.3 million for ABC, 6.6 million for Fox, 3.9 million for Univision and 3.5 million for NBC.

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Roger Ebert Hospitalized

Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert, who has battled a number of health problems in recent years, has been hospitalized with a hip fracture, Entertainment Weekly reports.

Chaz Ebert, Roger's wife, told the AP on Thursday that her spouse's condition was improving and “doctors are making assessments” about when he would be allowed to leave the hospital.

The hip injury did not require surgery, according to Roger Ebert, who tweeted, "Yes, fracture. But no surgery needed. Details follow. :)"

Chaz also was busy on Twitter, explaining that her husband had been “asking for computer, will probably tweet.” She joked that the fracture came about because of Roger's “tricky disco dance moves.”

Roger Ebert, 70, has survived cancer in his thyroid and salivary glands in recent years, losing his ability to speak and eat following surgeries, the report notes.

roger_ebert.jpgRoger Ebert

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'Idol's' Lythgoe Inks Deal With Shine America

Shine America has signed Nigel Lythgoe Productions to an exclusive multiyear production deal, reports Deadline.com. The company of the executive producer of "American Idol" will work with Shine to develop and produce new shows for the global television market, the story notes.

"Nigel is clearly one of the world’s leading television producers, with an unmatched track record in TV programming both here in the U.S. and in the U.K.,” said Rich Ross, the incoming Shine America CEO.

Lythgoe started Nigel Lythgoe Productions last year as a joint venture with 19 Entertainment, now CORE Media Group. The joint venture will maintain control over its existing programs, such as Ovation's "Chance to Dance," while future projects will go through Shine, the story notes.

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One of the Most Beloved Sitcoms of All Time Is Being Turned Into a Musical

One of television's most beloved sitcoms of all time is becoming a musical. Entertainment Weekly reports that the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego will present a new production based on “The Honeymooners.”

The original series ran during television’s early days, airing first as a sketch on the DuMont Network before evolving into a half-hour comedy on CBS during the early 1950s. The series focused on the antics of Brooklyn residents Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason) and his wife, Alice (Audrey Meadows), along with Ralph’s best friend, Ed Norton (Art Carney), and Ed’s wife, Trixie (Joyce Randolph).

As we reported earlier this week, “The Honeymooners” recently finished a close second to “Seinfeld” in a poll naming the greatest sitcom of all time.

With the addition of songs and dancing, the musical "Honeymooners" will open the 2013-14 season at the Old Globe, with previews starting Sept. 8. The run will last until Oct. 27.

The plot of the musical has Ralph and Ed winning a jingle-writing contest and landing jobs on Madison Avenue. The Old Globe has been the launching pad for Broadway shows including "The Full Monty" and "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," so "The Honeymooners" could make it to New York if it does well in California.

Michael McGrath, who won a Tony for "Nice Work If You Can Get It," will star as Ralph. Jerry Mitchell ("Legally Blonde") will choreograph and direct. The book for the musical is by Dusty Kay and Bill Nuss with music by Stephen Weiner and lyrics by Peter Mills.

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Will TNT Series End Forever With the Season Finale? Producers Are Hedging Their Bets

According to executive producer and director Dean Devlin, the upcoming season finale of the TNT drama series "Leverage" might be the series finale as well, reports TV Guide.

The network has yet to pick up the adventure series for a sixth season. Devlin and series creator John Rogers prepared the Christmas Day episode as a wrap-up for the program, but both men would like to see the Timothy Hutton show continue.

Devlin penned a letter to "Leverage" fans to explain the situation. He wrote:

Dear Leverage Fans,

As of the writing of this letter, we still do not know if there will be a season six of our show. Just as we didn't know when we created the last three episodes which are about to air. Because of this uncertainty, John Rogers and I decided to end this season with the episode we had planned to make to end the series, way back when we shot the pilot. So, the episode that will air on Christmas is, in fact, the series finale we had always envisioned.

This is not to say we would not do a season six should we get the opportunity. Everyone involved with the show, from the cast, the crew, the writers and producers, would like nothing more than to continue telling these stories. But, in case we do not get that opportunity we felt that, creatively, after 77 episodes, we owed it to you, our fans, to end the show properly.

I sincerely hope you watch these last three episodes. They build to our conclusion. And the finale, I believe, is the most powerful episode we've ever done.

From all of us who make the show, thank you for watching, supporting and encouraging us. I've never experienced a fandom as intense, loyal and wonderful as you all.

Let's go steal a series finale!

Dean Devlin

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'The Saint' Remake Casts Its Lead

A remake of Roger Moore's caper series "The Saint" is in the works, and the lead role of Simon Templar has been cast, reports Deadline.com.

British actor Adam Rayner ("Hunted") will play Templar, a modern-day Robin Hood who is also a notorious, charming thief known as the Saint. The remake, which has not landed at a network yet, will have Simon West directing the pilot, with Brad Krevoy producing and “Heroes’” Jesse Alexander writing and executive producing.

The character originated in novels by Leslie Charteris and became a successful RKO movie series in the 1940s starring Oscar winner George Sanders. Years later, Val Kilmer starred in a 1997 feature as Templar. The most famous Simon Templar, however, is Roger Moore, who starred in the 1960s British TV series prior to his years as James Bond in the 007 movies.

In the new incarnation, Templar will be a "debonair international thief” who “steals from rich criminals and keeps the loot for himself. A master of disguise, improvisation, martial arts, firearms and espionage and the quintessential English gentleman, he is hired by certain government agencies for special assignments,” Deadline reports.

adam-rayner.jpgAdam Rayner

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ABC Rethinks Strategy for 'Dancing with the Stars' After the Show Gets Hammered in the Ratings

ABC is trying to figure out what to do about “Dancing with the Stars” after the latest edition of the show took a pounding in the ratings, the New York Post reports.

For a start, the network may cut back to airing one season of the dance competition per year, placing it on the network's spring schedule, the story reports.

The series struggled in the ratings during the "All Star" season, which ended last month. The finale drew 16.7 million viewers, down by nearly 3 million viewers from a year earlier.

The season's total viewership was down by about 20%, the piece adds. "DWTS" is scheduled to return to the network March 18.

”We haven’t made a decision about fall yet, but we have no indication that it won’t be on the schedule,” an ABC spokeswoman said.

A source involved with production on the show told the publication: “They have to figure something out. Maybe change the judges. The show needs a total makeover.”

Disney CFO Jay Rasulo talked about the show during a financial conference this week in New York, admitting that bringing back past champions -- including Shawn Johnson, Emmitt Smith and Drew Lachey -- seemed like “a great idea” at the time. “Turns out people didn’t want to see people who could dance,” Rasulo added. “They wanted people who couldn’t dance.”

The format has remained relatively stable throughout the show’s seven and a half years, the piece notes. “But lately, the show appears to be headed toward an inevitable changing of the guard. In September, longtime pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy announced that he will not return after his contract expires in 2013.

“Cheryl Burke also told The Post that she may take time off to pursue reality TV.”

Executive producer Conrad Green told the publication: “I would say making this show is more like surfing. Everyone thinks you are a puppet master. But actually what you do is you follow the wave, rather than set the wave."

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Veteran Newsman, Who Was a Household Name in New York for More Than 20 Years Before Joining CNN in 2005, Exits the Cable News Network When Contract Not Renewed

A CNN fixture who has been providing commentary and insight for "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" since 2005 has left the cable channel, reports TVNewser.com.

Jack Cafferty, who started his TV news career 52 years ago in Reno, was also a fixture in the New York TV market, where he spent more than 20 years at WPIX-TV, WNYW-TV and WNBC-TV.

Cafferty last appeared on "The Situation Room" on Nov. 15, his last day, leaving when his contract wasn't renewed, the story notes.

"There is no one like Jack Cafferty,” a CNN representative said. “He’s brought a lot of wit and wisdom to viewers over the years.”

jack-cafferty.jpgJack Cafferty

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Unlikely Hit Is Now A&E's No. 1 Telecast of All Time

A show that almost no one would have predicted would be a hit is now one of cable’s biggest success stories in years, with its season finale becoming the most-watched telecast of all time for A&E.

The show is the reality hit “Duck Dynasty,” which follows a Louisiana family that has built an empire making duck calls. The series’ one-hour season finale, which aired Wednesday night, is the cable channel’s all-time top program in total viewers, adults 18-34, adults 18-49 and adults 25-54.

A&E said in a press release announcing the results: “An astounding 6.5 million viewers tuned in to the final premiere episode of 2012. The episode was also watched by an A&E record 3.9 million adults 18-49, 3.8 million adults 25-54 and 2.0 million adults 18-34, becoming the most-watched series telecast in network history among all key demos.”

Bob DeBitetto, president and general manager of A&E Network and BIO Channel, said in the statement: “‘Duck Dynasty’ represents the best of A&E’s unique brand of storytelling, showcasing authentic and engaging characters. It’s extremely gratifying to see more and more viewers flocking to the series week after week.”

Season two of the show grew by 139% over season one in total viewers, 141% in adults 18-34, 136% in adults 25-54 and 127% in adults 18-49, the network noted.

"Duck Dynasty" was the top show on television -- including both cable and broadcast -- on Wednesday night in prime time in adults 18-34 and adults 18-49.

An encore of the one-hour holiday episode is set for Saturday, Dec. 8, with new episodes on tap for early 2013.

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More Advice for Jeff Zucker About How to Fix CNN. This Time the Guidance Comes From a Former Broadcaster With About 40 Years' Experience

In today's Open Mic guest commentary, Bill Bauman, the well-known retired broadcaster who has about 40 years of experience in the TV business, has a few ideas for Jeff Zucker when he takes over CNN. To read this provocative advice, please click here.

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Lifetime Finds a Reality Format That Hasn't Been Done Yet

It’s getting harder to find a format that hasn’t already been made into a reality show, but Lifetime, which is becoming increasingly comfortable with taking risks, appears to have found one. The A&E Networks-owned cable channel ordered a family docusoap called "Preachers' Daughters" to series for a 2013 debut, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The show will focus on adolescent girls who try to balance their teenage temptations with their family’s beliefs -- and on their watchful parents, the story says.

Said Rob Sharenow, exec VP of programming for Lifetime Networks: “Adolescence can be a challenging time of transition for children and their parents. By opening their homes and lives to our viewers, the families featured on ‘Preachers’ Daughters’ will provide an honest portrayal of their experiences -- book-ended by the deep love they share and shifting household dynamics in their beliefs.”

The network has ordered eight hour-long episodes, which will be produced by "Hatfields & McCoys" producer Thinkfactory Media, the piece notes.

“The news comes as Lifetime continues to expand its offerings, looking to make noise and drive ratings,” the piece notes. “The network's most recent effort, ‘Liz & Dick,’ did more of the former than the latter. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter for this week's cover story, A&E Networks honcho Nancy Dubuc acknowledged she would do the Lindsay Lohan telepic all over again.”

"What I'm most proud of is that I don't think it's a movie that Lifetime would have done two years ago. It would have felt too disconnected, too provocative and too risky," Dubuc said. "And what I love about my team today is that they don't feel like it was risky at all."

Serving as exec producers on “Preachers’ Daughters” are Adam Reed, Emily Sinclair, Adam Freeman and Leslie Greif, along with Lifetime’s Sharenow, Gena McCarthy, Kimberly Chessler and Toby Faulkner.

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Big Move Behind the Scenes for NBC's 'Up All Night'

The NBC comedy "Up All Night" will shift showrunners as it moves to a multicamera format this spring, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The sophomore comedy has tapped Linda Wallem, a co-creator of Showtime's "Nurse Jackie," to replace current showrunner Tucker Cawley. Cawley will move to Fox to work as a consulting producer on "The Mindy Project."

"Up All Night" creator Emily Spivey will stay with the rebooted show, the piece adds.

Wallem, who is also getting a two-year overall deal with Universal Television, will reunite with NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt. The two worked together when he ran Showtime, the piece notes.

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Tribune's WGN May Get Makeover Under Peter Liguori

Tribune's WGN America cable station may get a makeover under chief-executive-in-waiting Peter Liguori, reports the New York Post.

The cable network currently airs a mix of syndicated shows such as "Law & Order" and Chicago Cubs games, but may morph into a station with original programming under Liguori, the piece notes.

Liguori is expected to take over Tribune once its owners pick a new board, which should happen soon. He's talking with former Disney Chief Strategy Officer Peter Murphy to join as chief operating officer, according to the article.

Tribune might also consider merging WGN with another general entertainment cable channel, with the goal of making the service more desirable and pushing up distribution fees, the piece adds.

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Facebook Blues: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings' Bragging on Facebook Lands Him in Hot Water With U.S. Stock Regulators. Did Hastings Say Something He Shouldn't Have?

Netflix Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings may face a civil action by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over a Facebook post, reports Bloomberg News.

The post coincided with the stock's biggest gain in almost six weeks, and the SEC is alleging Hastings violated selected disclosure rules, the report notes.

The July 3 post by Hastings said that viewing on the streaming service "exceeded 1 billion hours" in June, and the shares rose 6.2% that day.

Regulation Fair Disclosure went into effect in 2000, before the explosion of social-network services such as Twitter and Facebook. "The SEC action highlights the potential for legal trouble when company executives like Hastings, who has more than 200,000 Facebook fans, communicate with the public via social media," the article points out.

The potential civil claim from the SEC was disclosed in a company filing. In it, Hastings wrote, "We think the fact of 1 billion hours of viewing in June was not ‘material’ to investors, and we had blogged a few weeks before that we were serving nearly 1 billion hours per month." He added that he was "optimistic" the issue would be quickly cleared up.

The fair disclosure regulations require publicly traded companies to use press releases or another "non-exclusionary method" to issue news that could impact investors or the company's stock.

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Sci-Fi Project From 'Walking Dead' Producer in the Works at USA

"Walking Dead" producer Gale Anne Hurd is working on a sci-fi pilot set in World War II for USA Network, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Hurd will executive produce, while "Burn Notice" writer Bridget Tyler will write the script and also executive produce, the story notes.

USA Network has given a cast-contingent pilot order to the project, called "Horizon." The female-centric piece focuses on a secretary at the FBI whose husband might have been killed in a battle with a spaceship. The protagonist becomes the central figure in a potential confrontation between Earth and alien invaders.

The project is the first period drama at USA, and also the first genre show since "The 4400," which ran from 2004-2007, the article notes.

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CBS Chief Leslie Moonves: 'I Would Love to Own [Another] General Entertainment Network.' Also, Don't Expect Any Calls From Moonves to Zucker About a Possible CNN-CBS News Deal

Is CBS Corp. on the prowl for an acquisition? According to B&C, CBS Chief Leslie Moonves, in an interview, said that he would "love to own" another "general entertainment network."

Moonves was interviewed by our good friend, B&C editor-in-chief Melissa Grego, during a joint B&C/Multichannel News event in New York on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012.

Moonves did not say what network he might like to acquire.

The article also notes that "Moonves was asked if [Jeff] Zucker's appointment [to run CNN] made it any more or less likely CBS and Time Warner Inc.-owned CNN would join news forces. He said the same control issues and other obstacles that have stood in the way over the years haven't changed. ... 'It's a tough thing to do, so I would doubt there would be many discussions,' Moonves told Grego in [a] one-on-one interview. She asked if he might call Zucker, in that case, and Moonves said no."

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ABC Orders Salma Hayek Project

Salma Hayek and Silvio Horta, two of the people behind ABC's popular drama "Ugly Betty," have teamed up again on another project sold to ABC, reports Deadline.com.

In what's described as a last-minute purchase, ABC has put "Bastards" into development. The show is about a Cuban-American family that discovers the family patriarch had a child with the family's maid more than two decades earlier.

The project originated with an idea from Hayek. Horta will write, and producer Mark Gordon will also executive produce, according to the story.

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Trayvon Martin Shooter Sues NBC

George Zimmerman, who is accused of second-degree murder after shooting Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, has sued NBCUniversal for defamation, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

Zimmerman alleges that reports that edited his voice on a 911 tape constituted defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress, the story says.

The suit has asked for a jury trial. In response, a spokeswoman for NBC Universal said, "We strongly disagree with the accusations made in the complaint. There was no intent to portray Mr. Zimmerman unfairly. We intend to vigorously defend our position in court.”

As previously reported, NBC apologized for a report about the Martin shooting that included some editing of a 911 call placed by Zimmerman. The editing made it sound as if Zimmerman was using racial profiling.

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CBS Takes Wraps Off Midseason Schedule, Slates Previews for New Drama Series and Season Finale for 'CSI: NY'

Updated on 12/6/12 at 8:40 p.m. to correct error in headline and body of story. We mistakenly said "series" finale instead of "season" finale for "CSI:New York." 

CBS has announced its midseason prime-time schedule, slated two previews for a new drama series and rolled out plans for the season finale for “CSI: New York.”

The new drama, "Golden Boy," tells the story of the rise of New York City's youngest police commissioner, played by Theo James, TheWrap.com reports. Two previews for the show will air in the “Vegas” time slot -- at 10 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Feb. 26, and Tuesday, March 5. "Golden Boy" will then slide into its 9 p.m. Friday slot on March 8, and "Vegas" will be back on Tuesday, March 12, at 10 p.m. ET.

The season finale of "CSI: NY" will air Friday, Feb. 22, at 9 p.m ET. The perennial pinch-hit sitcom "Rules of Engagement" will have its seventh-season premiere on Monday, Feb. 4, taking over the "Partners" time slot. "Partners" has already been canceled.

The newest installment of "Survivor" will premiere Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 8 p.m. ET, and the spring outing for "The Amazing Race" will premiere Sunday, Feb. 17, at 8 p.m. ET.

Here’s the lineup:

Monday (starting Feb. 4, 2013)

8:00-8:30 PM HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
8:30-9:00 PM RULES OF ENGAGEMENT (7th Season Premiere)
9:00-9:30 PM 2 BROKE GIRLS
9:30-10:00 PM MIKE & MOLLY
10:00-11:00 PM HAWAII FIVE-0

Wednesday (starting Feb. 13, 2013)

8:00-9:00 PM SURVIVOR (26th Edition Premiere)
9:00-10:00 PM CRIMINAL MINDS
10:00-11:00 PM CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION

Sunday (starting Feb. 17, 2013)

7:00-8:00 PM 60 MINUTES
8:00-9:00 PM THE AMAZING RACE (22nd Edition Premiere)
9:00-10:00 PM THE GOOD WIFE
10:00-11:00 PM THE MENTALIST

Tuesday (starting Feb. 26, 2013)

8:00-9:00 PM NCIS
9:00-10:00 PM NCIS: LOS ANGELES
10:00-11:00 PM GOLDEN BOY (Special Preview)

Tuesday (starting March 5, 2013)

8:00-9:00 PM NCIS
9:00-10:00 PM NCIS: LOS ANGELES
10:00-11:00 PM GOLDEN BOY (Special Preview)

Friday (starting March 8, 2013)

8:00-9:00 PM UNDERCOVER BOSS
9:00-10:00 PM GOLDEN BOY (Time Period Premiere)
10:00-11:00 PM BLUE BLOODS

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Domestic Diva Martha Stewart's Thanksgiving Goes Horribly Wrong

While attending Miami's Art Basel show, Martha Stewart revealed that her Thanksgiving wasn’t exactly up to her usual high standards, as she suffered a nasty case of salmonella, the New York Post reports.

Stewart told the paper: “I never get sick, but I came down with salmonella. I think I caught it because I was handling so many turkeys around Thanksgiving. I was on the ‘Today’ show; I did a number of other [Thanksgiving] appearances. It really hit me hard and I was in bed for days. It was terrible.”

Stewart looked at the positive side of the situation and pointed out that she had lost weight because of her illness.

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TV's Top-Rated Daytime Drama Notches Another Year at No. 1 -- Making It 24 Years in a Row

The highest-rated daytime drama on television has held that spot for more than two decades, and this week it will mark 24 years in a row, Deadline.com reports.

The show is CBS's "The Young and the Restless." The streak means it has been No. 1 in households for 1,248 consecutive weeks. It started the winning streak on Dec. 26, 1988, the story reports.

“That was a time before Nielsen people meters, when household ratings were the main ratings currency,” Deadline notes. “In women 25-54, ‘Y&R’ has been No. 1 for 302 of the past 303 weeks, and in women 18-49 for 297 of the last 298 weeks.

The piece also notes: “The week ‘Y&R’ kicked off its streak, there were 13 daytime soaps on the air. Today, there are only four. CBS, which has the most -- two -- has ranked as No. 1 in daytime for the past 26 years.”

"Y&R," with Eric Braeden and Melody Thomas Scott headlining the cast, is in its 39th year of broadcast.

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Writers Guild Unveils TV Nominations

The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) announced the nominations today for outstanding achievement in television during the 2012 season. On Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013, the awards will be presented in simultaneous ceremonies in L.A. and New York.

Here are the major nominations:

DRAMA SERIES
"Boardwalk Empire" - Written by Dave Flebotte, Diane Frolov, Chris Haddock, Rolin Jones, Howard Korder, Steve Kornacki, Andrew Schneider, David Stenn, Terence Winter; HBO

"Breaking Bad" - Written by Sam Catlin, Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Gennifer Hutchison, George Mastras, Thomas Schnauz, Moira Walley-Beckett; AMC

"Game of Thrones" - Written by David Benioff, Bryan Cogman, George R. R. Martin, Vanessa Taylor, D.B. Weiss; HBO

"Homeland" - Written by Henry Bromell, Alexander Cary, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Chip Johannessen, Meredith Stiehm; Showtime

'Mad Men" - Written by Lisa Albert, Semi Chellas, Jason Grote, Jonathan Igla, Andre Jacquemetton, Maria Jacquemetton, Brett Johnson, Janet Leahy, Victor Levin, Erin Levy, Frank Pierson, Michael Saltzman, Tom Smuts, Matthew Weiner; AMC

COMEDY SERIES
"30 Rock" - Written by Jack Burditt, Kay Cannon, Robert Carlock, Tom Ceraulo, Vali Chandrasekaran, Luke Del Tredici, Tina Fey, Lauren Gurganous, Matt Hubbard, Colleen McGuinness, Sam Means, Dylan Morgan, Nina Pedrad, John Riggi, Josh Siegel, Ron Weiner, Tracey Wigfield; NBC

"Girls" - Written by Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, Lena Dunham, Sarah Heyward, Bruce Eric Kaplan, Jenni Konner, Deborah Schoeneman, Dan Sterling; HBO
"Louie" - Written by Pamela Adlon, Vernon Chatman, Louis C.K.; FX

"Modern Family" - Written by Cindy Chupack, Paul Corrigan, Abraham Higginbotham, Ben Karlin, Elaine Ko, Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Dan O’Shannon, Jeffrey Richman, Audra Sielaff, Brad Walsh, Bill Wrubel, Danny Zuker; ABC

"Parks and Recreation" - Written by Megan Amram, Greg Daniels, Nate Dimeo, Katie Dippold, Daniel J. Goor, Norm Hiscock, Dave King, Greg Levine, Joe Mande, Aisha Muharrar, Nick Offerman, Chelsea Peretti, Amy Poehler, Alexandra Rushfield, Michael Schur, Mike Scully, Harris Wittels, Alan Yang; NBC

NEW SERIES
"Girls" - Written by Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, Lena Dunham, Sarah Heyward, Bruce Eric Kaplan, Jenni Konner, Deborah Schoeneman, Dan Sterling; HBO

"The Mindy Project" - Written by Ike Barinholtz, Jeremy Bronson, Linwood Boomer, Adam Countee, Harper Dill, Mindy Kaling, Chris McKenna, B.J. Novak, David Stassen, Matt Warburton; Fox

"Nashville" - Written by Wendy Calhoun, Jason George, David Gould, David Marshall Grant, Dee Johnson, Todd Ellis Kessler, Callie Khouri, Meredith Lavender, Nancy Miller, James Parriott, Liz Tigelaar, Marcie Ulin; ABC

"The Newsroom" - Written by Brendan Fehily, David Handelman, Cinque Henderson, Paul Redford, Ian Reichbach, Amy Rice, Aaron Sorkin, Gideon Yago; HBO

"Veep" - Written by Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Roger Drew, Sean Gray, Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin, Tony Roche, Will Smith; HBO

COMEDY / VARIETY (INCLUDING TALK) – SERIES
"The Colbert Report" - Writers: Michael Brumm, Stephen Colbert, Rich Dahm, Paul Dinello, Eric Drysdale, Rob Dubbin, Glenn Eichler, Dan Guterman, Peter Gwinn, Barry Julien, Jay Katsir, Frank Lesser, Opus Moreschi, Tom Purcell, Meredith Scardino, Scott Sherman, Max Werner; Comedy Central

"Conan" - Writers: Jose Arroyo, Andres du Bouchet, Deon Cole, Josh Comers, Dan Cronin, Michael Gordon, Brian Kiley, Laurie Kilmartin, Rob Kutner, Todd Levin, Brian McCann, Conan O’Brien, Matt O’Brien, Jesse Popp, Andy Richter, Brian Stack, Mike Sweeney; TBS

"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" - Writers: Rory Albanese, Kevin Bleyer, Richard Blomquist, Steve Bodow, Tim Carvell, Hallie Haglund, J.R. Havlan, Elliott Kalan, Dan McCoy, Jo Miller, John Oliver, Zhubin Parang, Daniel Radosh, Jason Ross, Jon Stewart; Comedy Central

"Jimmy Kimmel Live" - Writers: Tony Barbieri, Jonathan Bines, Joelle Boucai, Sal Iacono, Eric Immerman, Gary Greenberg, Josh Halloway, Bess Kalb, Jimmy Kimmel, Jeff Loveness, Molly McNearney, Bryan Paulk, Danny Ricker, Rick Rosner; ABC

"Key & Peele" - Writers: Jay Martel, Ian Roberts, Keegan Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Sean Conroy, Colton Dunn, Charlie Sanders, Alex Rubens, Rebecca Drysdale; Comedy Central

"Portlandia" - Writers: Fred R. Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, Karey Dornetto, Jonathan Krisel, Bill Oakley; IFC

"Real Time with Bill Maher" - Writers: Scott Carter, Adam Felber, Matt Gunn, Brian Jacobsmeyer, Jay Jaroch, Chris Kelly, Mike Larsen, Bill Maher, Billy Martin; HBO

"Saturday Night Live" - Head Writer: Seth Meyers, Writers: James Anderson, Alex Baze, Neil Casey, Jessica Conrad, James Downey, Shelly Gossman, Steve Higgins, Colin Jost, Zach Kanin, Chris Kelly, Joe Kelly, Erik Kenward, Rob Klein, Lorne Michaels, John Mulaney, Christine Nangle, Mike O’Brien, Josh Patten, Paula Pell, Marika Sawyer, Sarah Schneider, Pete Schultz, John Solomon, Kent Sublette, Bryan Tucker, Additional Sketch By Emily Spivey, Jorma Taccone, Additional Material By Frank Sebastiano; NBC Universal

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'Jersey Shore' Celebs Jwoww and Snooki Book 'Drunken Orgy of Bliss' for New Year's Eve

Jwoww and Snooki, two of the stars of MTV's "Jersey Shore," have made plans for a New Year’s Eve celebration on the youth-focused cable network, Entertainment Weekly reports. The pair will celebrate the occasion in New York’s Times Square, hosting MTV’s holiday festivities.

The Dec. 31 special kicks off at 11 p.m. ET. The "Jersey" girls will be joined by comic Jeff Dye for the live broadcast. Among the musical acts scheduled to appear on MTV that night are Ke$ha, Ne-Yo, Sean Kingston and Rita Ora.

MTV warned potential viewers in a press release that with Jenni Farley (Jwoww) and Nicole Polizzi (Snooki) leading the way, the night will be a "sweaty, drunken, dance-fueled orgy of bliss."

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Veteran Drama Series May Be TV's Most Violent Program

A drama series is attracting attention for its level of violence -- especially for its season finale, which aired this week. Tuesday’s fifth-season finale of the FX drama "Sons of Anarchy" became the show's highest-rated finale ever, but also raised questions about the level of violence on the show, writes Greg Braxton in the Los Angeles Times.

"While longtime fans expressed enthusiasm over the numerous twists, turns and betrayals in the episode, some also noted that the level of graphic, horrific violence reached new heights this season, rivaling Martin Scorsese movies or other critically acclaimed series such as 'Breaking Bad' and 'Boardwalk Empire,'" he writes.

Braxton adds that while "The Walking Dead" is "more relentlessly violent" than "Sons of Anarchy," "much of the gory carnage is linked to the battle with flesh-eating zombies." He points out that "Sons of Anarchy" is "set in a more realistic violent world filled with a range of criminals."

Creator Kurt Sutter acknowledged that the show was more graphic this season, but said it was needed to show the effect that the bloodshed had on its characters.

"We really wanted to turn the heat up on Jax and show the point of view of a very dangerous existence," Sutter said. "For me it was about shining a light on the very dangerous nature of the world. Nothing was done to shock, but we turned up the level of violence to expose him to all those things that I knew would influence his ability to make a decision."

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NBC Lands Sought-After Director for Comedy Pilot

NBC has secured the services of a sought-after director to helm the pilot for a recently picked-up single-camera comedy, Deadline.com reports.

The pilot for “The Gates,” from writers Cathy Yuspa and Josh Goldsmith, Kapital Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV, will be directed by Marc Buckland, the piece reports.

“The project, which was given an early green light, is based on the British series of the same name that premiered on Sky Living in August,” Deadline reports. “It is an adult ensemble comedy set at the front gates of an elementary school drop-off and revolves around the parents, school staff and 15-minute social minefield they have to navigate at the beginning and end of each school day.”

Yuspa and Goldsmith will executive produce along with Kapital’s Aaron Kaplan and Laurence Bowen and Philip Clarke of Feelgood Fiction, which is behind the original U.K. series.

“’The Gates’ reunites Buckland with NBC and 20th TV, the network and studio behind the comedy ‘My Name Is Earl,’ whose pilot Buckland directed, winning an Emmy,” the story reports. “ICM Partners-repped Buckland has a long history at NBC. The last three broadcast pilots he directed were also all for NBC and all went to series: ‘Grimm,’ ‘Love Bites’ and ‘Next Caller.’ He recently completed USA’s comedy pilot ‘Paging Dr. Freed.’”

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Snubs, Surprises and Sure-Fire Picks in the Grammy Nominations: One of Music's Biggest Stars Is Shut Out

The nominations for the 55th annual Grammy Awards, announced last night, included at least one huge surprise, as one of music’s biggest current stars was shut out, People magazine reports.

Justin Bieber, who many observers predicted would at least get a nod for best pop vocal album for “Believe,” wound up without a nomination. Also snubbed was the pop group One Direction, which was expected to contend for best new artist. Both Bieber and One Direction are among the top-selling artists of 2012.

“Those boys weren't the only ones snubbed by voters,” the report notes. “Nicki Minaj and Lionel Richie both failed to get recognized for their hit albums ‘Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded’ and ‘Tuskegee,’ respectively. Richie, teaming up with country stars to remake his hits, appeared to have sure-fire bait for album of the year.”

The piece notes that with the absence of Adele from the pop music scene this year, the field was wide-open. Six artists tied for the most nominations with six apiece: the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach; fun.; Jay-Z; Mumford & Sons; Frank Ocean; and Kanye West.

“But with Jay-Z and West mostly relegated to the rap categories, it's really all about the other four, who all are up for the prestigious album of the year,” People adds.

The fifth nominee for album of the year, Jack White's “Blunderbuss,” is a mild surprise, beating out Maroon 5’s “Overexposed.” Maroon 5 had a big year, but wound up with only two nominations.

The report adds: “The record of the year candidates were also a likely bunch, with the Black Keys (‘Lonely Boy’); Kelly Clarkson (‘Stronger [What Doesn't Kill You]’); fun. featuring Janelle Monae (‘We Are Young’); Gotye featuring Kimbra (‘Somebody That I Used to Know’); and Taylor Swift (‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’) picking up nods.

“But Ocean was a welcome surprise for ‘Thinking Bout You.’"

Ocean also will compete for best new artist, along with expected nominees fun. and Hunter Hayes. “But no one saw bluesy rockers Alabama Shakes coming here,” the story reports. “And the Lumineers, a folk-rock trio, seemed a long shot to beat out Gotye, Carly Rae Jepsen or even Ed Sheeran for a spot.”

Singer-songwriter Sheeran did receive a nod for song of the year for his folkie hit "The A Team," as did Miguel's R&B single "Adorn” -- one of five nominations for Miguel.

The piece adds: “With three nominations, including best country album for his self-titled set, Hayes was one heartthrob who will give the girls someone to cheer for when the winners are announced at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.”

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Chart-Topping Singer Rihanna to Star in Reality Show

Rihanna is getting a reality show. The Grammy-winning singer, who has been a fixture on the pop charts, will star in a competition-style show on Style Network focused on the fashion world, Reuters reports.

“Styled to Rock,” scheduled to bow in the second half of 2013, will spotlight 12 young designers competing to create outfits for celebrities, the story reports. The contestants will be handpicked by Rihanna, according to the report.

“The designers will be tasked with styling a celebrity guest on each episode, and the guest will help determine which designer moves on to the next round of the competition,” the story reports.

Rihanna, 24, will executive produce under her given name, Robyn Rihanna Fenty.

The singer said in a statement: "Fashion has always played an integral part in my life and career. I am so excited to partner with Style Network and share my creative insight with these 12 designers and give them this opportunity to showcase their work.”

“The series will piggyback on a British show of the same name in which Rihanna appeared over the summer,” the piece adds.

rihanna.jpgRihanna

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ABC Developing Comedy Starring Mexican-American Singer Who Has Sold 20 Million Albums

ABC is developing a sitcom starring a Mexican-American singer-songwriter who has sold more than 20 million albums worldwide, Deadline.com reports.

Called "Jenni," the comedy stars Jenni Rivera as a single, middle-class Latina woman who is raising a family while also running a family business, the story says.

The show comes from Broadway producer Robert L. Boyett, who is returning to television after producing some of the top comedies in the 1980s and 1990s, the piece reports. Robert Horn of "Designing Women" is also behind the project, with Boyett and Horn writing.

Boyett was a principal in Miller/Boyett Productions, which was behind shows such as "Bosom Buddies" and "Full House,' the piece notes.

jenni-rivera.jpgJenni Rivera

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Reality Show in the Works From Glenn Beck and Vince Vaughn

A reality show is in the works from Glenn Beck and Vince Vaughn, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The show will feature filmmakers competing for financing for a documentary film.

TheBlaze, Beck's Internet TV network, will air "Pursuit of Truth," which will feature contestants creating sizzle reels or pitching scenes to a panel of judges, the story notes.

Vaughn's Wild West Productions is producing along with Go Go Luckey, the company behind "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County."

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Fox Buys 'Babes on a Bus'

Fox has ordered a show called "Babes on a Bus," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed. The show features 10 single women who get on a bus and travel from town to town searching for love.

Fox has reportedly made a point of trying to find a hit series in the dating genre. “Babes on a Bus,” based on a Norwegian format, comes from Endemol -- the studio behind “Fear Factor” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

The show will introduce the women to each town's "finest bachelors," the story says. At the end of each week, the women must choose whether to return to the bus or stay.

“Babes” has already been sold in Denmark, Germany, Norway, France, the Netherlands and Slovenia, the story notes.

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With Disney Movies Secured, Netflix Pushes for Additional Content

One day after announcing a major deal with Walt Disney, Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos tells the New York Post that the company is talking with other studios to “accelerate the windows and get fresher content."

As previously announced, Netflix struck a deal that puts it in direct competition with pay-TV services such as HBO and Starz. The three-year deal with Disney, which takes effect in 2016, gives Netflix the exclusive U.S. rights to movies from the Walt Disney Studios.

Asked whether Netflix would look to Universal or Warner Bros. for similar deals, Sarandos replied, "Warner’s deal [with HBO] is up in 2014. This gives Warner the opportunity to do other things, to look at this.”

A deal between Warner Bros. and Netflix would appear to be less likely given that Time Warner owns both HBO and Warner Bros., the story says. But Sarandos pointed out that Netflix is working with Universal to get movies that HBO perhaps doesn't want, the piece adds.

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Drama 'Weird Desk' Lands Series Order at ABC

A drama series called "Weird Desk" has been ordered by ABC for summer 2013, reports B&C. The series, which has a paranormal focus, tracks an organization taking on mysterious cases that have been redirected from the CIA and the NSA.

The show, with 13 episodes ordered, will join "Mistresses" on ABC's summer schedule.

“’Weird Desk’ is from Carl Binder (‘Stargate’) and David Titcher with Tom Mazza and Maggie Murphy executive producing. It is produced by Shatesbury and distributed by ABC Studios,” the piece adds.

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Jennifer Love Hewitt Overseeing Lifetime Movie Project

Lifetime is developing an original movie executive produced by actress Jennifer Love Hewitt that's based on an entry in the blog Derfwad Manor, Deadline.com reports.

The post, by Heather Gatticio, contemplates becoming a female polygamist and marrying stars such as Brad Pitt and Javier Bardem, the story says.

The project, "Mrs. G's Bigger Love," will follow a bored Seattle housewife as her fictional blog about a female polygamist attracts a book agent and fame. Hewitt will executive produce with Jeanie Bradley, an executive at Hewitt’s Fedora Films.

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HBO Greenlights Live-Action Series From 'King of the Hill' Co-Creator

HBO has given a pilot order to a live-action dark comedy from "King of the Hill" co-creator Mike Judge, reports Deadline.com.

The pilot, "Silicon Valley," also comes from fellow "King of the Hill" executive producers John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky. The project is set in modern Silicon Valley, "where the people most qualified to succeed are the least capable of handling success," the story says.

Judge will direct the pilot, and Scott Rudin is also slated to executive produce along with Judge, Altschuler and Krinsky, the piece adds.

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Fans Asked to Take a Hack at Creating Part of 'Psycho' Prequel

A&E Network is asking fans to help create the opening title sequence for a new original drama series based on the classic Alfred Hitchcock film "Psycho," reports The New York Times' Arts Beat.

“We’re looking for an awesome fifteen-second title sequence that captures the feel of Bates Motel -- not as a slasher/horror show, but as a complex, character-based thriller,” executive producer Carlton Cuse said.

The new series is called “Bates Motel.” Cuse will judge the submissions, with the winner receiving $2,500 and the possibility that the idea will become the actual title sequence, the story says.

The contest, which can be found at facebook.com/BatesMotelAETV, runs through Jan. 3.

The series is a prequel to "Psycho," portraying Norman Bates as a teen who lives with his mother, Norma.

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CBS's Combo of Sexy Women in Lingerie and a Reindeer With a Red Nose Wins Tuesday Night Ratings

CBS claimed the top spot in the prime-time ratings among the broadcast networks Tuesday night, and the network’s telecast of “The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show” was the top-rated show of the night, based on Nielsen overnights.

Earlier in the evening, the Tiffany Network’s focus was on family fare with the holiday chestnut “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” TVbytheNumbers.com reports that both “Rudolph” and “Victoria’s” were down significantly from last year in the key 18-49 demo. “Rudolph” was off 28% from a year ago with a 2.9 average rating, while the lingerie spectacle drooped 24% to a 3.5.

The strongest performance on the other broadcast nets was by NBC’s “The Voice,” which checked in with a 3.4 average in 18-49, down from a 3.8 a week ago. Elsewhere on NBC, “Go On” held steady with a 2.5, “The New Normal” also held even with last week with a 1.7 and “Parenthood” slipped one-tenth of a point to a 1.7.

Third-place Fox saw its entire lineup slip: “Raising Hope” delivered a 1.4 in viewers 18-49, down four-tenths from a week ago; “Ben and Kate” settled for a 1.1, off three-tenths; “New Girl” managed a 2.0, falling three-tenths; and “The Mindy Project” pulled a 1.3, dipping two-tenths.

ABC tried out a Tuesday airing of “Shark Tank,” which produced a 1.7 in the 18-49 demo, down two-tenths from Friday’s installment. Otherwise, things were looking up: “Happy Endings” rose two-tenths of a point from its previous original to a 1.3; “Don’t Trust the B” climbed three-tenths to a 1.2; and “Private Practice” improved two-tenths to a 1.2. Still, ABC managed only a tie with Univision for fourth place overall.

CBS won prime time with a 2.8 in adults 18-49, ahead of NBC (2.4), Fox (1.5), ABC (1.4) and Univision (1.4). CBS also won total viewers, averaging 10.2 million to 7.3 million for NBC, 4.8 million for ABC, 3.7 million for Univision and 3.3 million for Fox.

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Jazz Great Dave Brubeck Dead at 91

Jazz icon Dave Brubeck died this morning in Norwalk, Conn., just one day before his 92nd birthday, USA Today reports.

The pianist and composer, known for the classic instrumental “Take Five,” suffered a fatal heart attack while on his way to a “regular treatment with his cardiologist,” his longtime manager, producer and conducter Russell Gloyd told the Chicago Tribune. He died in Norwalk Hospital.

“The pianist, regarded as one of the greatest of American jazz musicians, reached pop star status with recordings including ‘Take Five’ and ‘Blue Rondo a la Turk,’ both of which appeared on Brubeck's acclaimed 1959 album, ‘Time Out,’” the story reports. “Both also showcased Brubeck's fondness for unusual time signatures. ‘Take Five’ is in 5/4 time; ‘Blue Rondo’ is in 9/8 time.”

Brubeck, a prolific composer, described himself as "a composer who plays the piano."

The report notes: “He wrote and recorded several large-scale compositions since the 1960s, including two ballets, a musical, an oratorio, four cantatas, a mass, works for jazz group and orchestra, and many pieces for solo piano. He has appeared at the Newport (1958, 1972, 1981), Monterey (1962, 1980), Concord (1982), and Kool jazz festivals, and performed at the White House (1964, 1981).”

Here’s a clip of Brubeck and his group performing his signature song, “Take Five,” in 1966:

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'Dr. Phil' Wins Sweeps for First Time, While Another Syndicated Show Keeps Up One of the Longest Winning Streaks in TV History

The top-rated talk show in November sweeps is “Dr. Phil,” which won the period with a 3.2 rating -- even with last year’s number, but the first time in the show’s 11-year history that it has won a sweeps period.

The show averaged 4.3 million viewers, based on Nielsen figures, beating its closest competition by better than 800,000 viewers, or 23%. In the important demo of women 25-54, “Phil” grew 6% from last year to win the talk category with a 1.9 average rating.

Other strong performers included second-place “Live with Kelly & Michael,” which averaged a 2.7 for sweeps -- down 18% from last November -- with 3.5 million viewers on average; third-place “Ellen” (up 4% to a 2.6; 3.5 million viewers -- and up 13% to a 1.8 average in women 25-54); and a fourth-place tie between “Maury” (2.4 average, even with last year; 3.2 million viewers) and “Dr. Oz” (2.4 average, down 14%; 3.2 million viewers).

Newcomer “Katie” placed sixth overall with a 1.9 rating and 2.5 million viewers. The show was down 5% from its September premiere. Next among new talk show entries was “Steve Harvey,” which was up 8% from its September premiere (1.3 average; 1.8 million viewers).

“Entertainment Tonight” kept up one of the most enduring streaks in television, coming in as the top-rated syndie magazine for the 89th sweeps period in a row, going back to July 1990. The show averaged a 3.9 rating with 5.5 million viewers.

Leading all first-run syndicated shows was “Judge Judy” (7.2 average, steady; 10.0 million viewers), which topped its closest court show rival by almost 5 full rating points.

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NBC News Adds Correspondent to White House Beat

NBC News has named a new White House correspondent, reports B&C. Joining Chuck Todd and Kristen Welker on the White House team is Peter Alexander.

Alexander has been with the network since 2004 and was the lead reporter covering the Mitt Romney presidential campaign.

In a statement, NBC News President Steve Capus said: "Peter has proven himself as a sharp reporter throughout his eight years with NBC News, and consistently went the extra mile as he covered Governor Romney on the campaign trail. His dedication and hustle will be a strong asset to our talented White House team as he joins Chuck and Kristen covering President Obama's second term."

Additionally, Todd has signed an extension to remain as NBC News political director and chief White House correspondent. Todd is also the anchor of MSNBC's "The Daily Rundown," editor of NBCNews.com's "First Read" blog and a regular contributor to "Meet the Press."

peter-alexander.jpgPeter Alexander

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Kathie Lee Gifford's Broadway Musical Flops -- Here's What the Critics Said

"Today” show co-host Kathie Lee Gifford has flopped in her attempt to make it as a Broadway playwright, reports TheWrap.com.

Gifford wrote the book and lyrics for the musical "Scandalous: The Life and Times of Aimee Semple McPherson." The show opened Nov. 15 at the Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway, but it's closing after just 29 performances, on Dec. 9, 2012.

Gifford used her visibility on NBC’s "Today” show -- in which she co-hosts a weekday hour with Hoda Kotb -- to talk about the production and promote it. However, the critics came down hard on "Scandalous," effectively sinking its chances for a long run.

"Scandalous" told the story of 1920s evangelist McPherson, who rose to fame and then plummeted from the heights amid controversies and notorious love affairs.

TheWrap offers a sampling of the critics’ comments on the production, including these:

" 'Scandalous' isn’t so much scandalously bad as it is generic and dull," wrote critic Charles Isherwood in the influential New York Times.

“Newsday's Linda Winer took specific aim at Gifford's ‘bombardment of nursery-rhyme lyrics.’

"Talkin' Broadway's Matthew Murray, meanwhile, scoffed that the play ‘is not distinctive in one positive way.’ "

Last Friday, Nov. 29, 2012, Patrick Healy wrote in The New York Times' Arts Beat blog, "No Broadway show is losing money faster than 'Scandalous,' the $9 million musical about the turbulent life of early-20th-century evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson..."

So why was the show still going? Said the Times: "The reason? Its creator, the 'Today' show host Kathie Lee Gifford, and two of the lead producers – Dick and Betsy DeVos, multimillionaires from their Amway family fortune – have been determined to keep 'Scandalous' running in hopes that the musical will somehow rebound at the box office. While Ms. Gifford has not put her own money into the show to keep it afloat, the DeVoses agreed this week to cover the show’s financial losses for now, according to two executives involved with the show, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private business matters."

The Times added, " 'Scandalous' has already burned through the financial reserve fund that all Broadway shows have to help weather periods of low ticket sales, the two executives said. Last week over the Thanksgiving holiday, usually a hearty time at the box office for many Broadway musicals, 'Scandalous' grossed a bracingly low $194,511 – or only about 15.5 percent of the maximum possible amount. At some performances the cast – led by Carolee Carmello in a critically praised star turn – were playing to only a couple hundred people in the 1,450-seat Neil Simon Theater."

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'Seinfeld' Veteran Returning to TV -- With Two 'Cheers' Alums on Board

One of the main cast members from the hit NBC comedy "Seinfeld" will join veterans of another NBC hit, “Cheers,” in a new pilot, Deadline.com reports.

For Michael Richards, who played Kramer on “Seinfeld,” the role marks what would be his first regular TV gig in more than a decade, the story reports.

Richards will co-star with Kirstie Alley and Rhea Perlman of "Cheers" in the TV Land pilot "Giant Baby," the story notes. Gilles Marini is also joining the pilot in a guest star role, with the potential to become a recurring cast member.

The project is about Madison "Maddie" Banks, played by Alley, a Broadway star whose life is changed when her long-lost son returns to reconnect with her. Richards will play Maddie's limo driver and Marini will portray her chef. Perlman will be her best friend and assistant.

"The castings of Richards, Alley and Perlman are part of TV Land’s strategy to bring to its original shows some of the biggest sitcom stars of the past couple of decades," the piece points out.

michael-richards.jpgMichael Richards

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CNN's Anderson Cooper Temporarily Blinded

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper was temporarily blinded last week while shooting a story for "60 Minutes," reports TVNewser.com.

Cooper talked about the experience on his daytime talk show "Anderson Live." While he was shooting out at sea in Portugal, his retina was burned by sunlight reflecting off the water, the story says.

"I wake up in the middle of the night and it feels like my eyes are on fire, my eyeballs, and I think oh maybe I have sand in my eyes or something," he said. "I douse my eyes with water. Anyway, it turns out I have sunburned my eyeballs and I go blind. I went blind for 36 hours.”

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Bob Costas Answers Critics of His Gun Comments

NBC Sports announcer Bob Costas opened up after taking on criticism for comments he made on the air about guns. As reported previously, Costas sparked a controversy with comments he made in connection with a report on a murder-suicide involving Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Costas clarified his comments Tuesday night, saying he was not advocating gun control but rather wanted to advance the conversation about the nation’s gun culture.

The Times reports: “Costas told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, ‘Where some people may have misunderstood my comments was I took one aspect of it .... I do not think this is the only aspect or possible aspect. There’s clearly a domestic violence aspect. There’s clearly the question, as I alluded to in a general way, of what effect playing football -- which we know has debilitating effects, mind and body, at least for some -- what effect that might have had. What effect alcohol and drugs might have had. And another aspect of that is easy access to guns and a gun culture. And it was that aspect -- the gun culture -- that I focused on. Not to the exclusion of the others but just because I didn’t have all that much time.’”

Many of those criticizing Costas mentioned the 2nd Amendment, the piece notes.

According to the report, Costas added: “What I was talking about here, and I’m sorry if that wasn’t clear to everyone, was a gun culture. I never mentioned the 2nd Amendment, I never used the words 'gun control.' People inferred that. Now, do I believe that we need more comprehensive and more sensible gun-control legislation? Yes I do. That doesn’t mean repeal the 2nd Amendment. That doesn’t mean a prohibition on someone having a gun to protect their home and their family. It means sensible and more comprehensive gun-control legislation."

Costas' original comments can be seen here.

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'Malcolm in the Middle' Star Suffers Mini-Stroke

"Malcolm in the Middle" star Frankie Muniz, 27, suffered a mini-stroke that hospitalized him Friday, reports People.com.

"Have to start taking care of my body!" Muniz wrote on Twitter. "Getting old!"

He didn't provide details, but a "mini-stroke" usually means a transient ischemic attack, or TIA, which can cause stroke-like symptoms for one to 24 hours. Muniz starred on "Malcolm" from 2000 to 2006.

frankie-muniz.jpgFrankie Muniz

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Game Changer? Netflix Buys Rights to Disney Movies. Potential Major Threat to Pay Cable

In a deal that places it in direct competition with pay-television networks such as HBO and Starz, Netflix has bought the exclusive U.S. rights to movies from Walt Disney Studios, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The three-year agreement, which starts in 2016, is a setback for Starz, which currently holds the rights to televise Disney movies, including Pixar movies and superhero pictures from Marvel, the piece points out.

While the price of the deal wasn't disclosed, Netflix is estimated to be paying $350 million per year for the rights, according to the New York Post.

The deal is "a bold leap forward for Internet television," said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos.

Even though Wall Street analysts were concerned about the cost of the deal, Netflix stock jumped 14% on news of the agreement.

The pact will help Netflix stand out from its rivals, including Hulu Plus, Amazon and Verizon/Redbox, the Post points out.

Disney has also given Netflix nonexclusive streaming rights to some of its older films, including "Dumbo" and "Pocahontas," which takes effect immediately.

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How Many TV Show Ideas Were Hatched There? Iconic New York Deli in Times Square -- Big With Tourists as Well -- Closes Doors After 75 Years

An iconic midtown New York deli has closed its doors. Says The Huffington Post: "The restaurant, which had been open since 1937, was known for its massive sandwiches and Jewish American deli fare."

The restaurant, the Stage Deli, about a block away from the Sheraton hotel towers on 53rd and 7th, shut its doors one final time last Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, The Post said.

"'It’s a sad day for New York,' Paul Zolenge, who has owned the deli with Steve Auerbach for 26 years, told The New York Times, adding, 'We’ve been struggling to make it through these hard times.'”

The Times story continues, "Mr. Zolenge cited the cost of doing business in New York. The landlord erected scaffolding in front of the restaurant a year ago, he said, and even though it came down in September, 'We lost a whole year.' The rent had gone up several times in recent years, Mr. Zolenge said, and with the lease ending in a few months, he and Mr. Auerbach were expecting another increase. 'We just couldn’t afford to keep it going anymore,' he said."

The Times notes, "Over the decades, the competition between the Stage Deli and the nearby Carnegie Deli, a similarly famous spot that opened the same year as the Stage, has been fierce.

"'This has been very hard for everyone to put an end to an institution,' [Mr. Zolenge] said, noting that the same had happened recently to several other Midtown old-timers. 'Ben Benson’s closed, and Gallagher’s is closing, too.'"

stage deli.bmp

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CBS Boss Les Moonves: Angus T. Jones Is No Charlie Sheen

CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves said that after what the network went through last year with Charlie Sheen on "Two and a Half Men," the furor around comments made by another of the show's stars, Angus T. Jones, is "a piece of cake," reports Forbes.

Moonves made the comment at a breakfast Q&A Tuesday conducted by Wall Street Journal managing editor Gerard Baker, the story notes.

As previously reported, Jones went public in a video with unflattering comments about the show, calling it "filth" and urging viewers not to watch it.

"It seems to be what happens with child stars over time,” Moonves said. “We took this boy who started with us when he was eight years old. Now’s he’s making over $300,000 per week, which is not a bad salary for a 19-year-old kid. By the way, he’s still collecting his $300,000 per week.”

Moonves added: “I don’t think it’s been quite resolved, but after going through what we went through with Charlie Sheen, it’s been a piece of cake."

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Fox News Chief Roger Ailes Orders Staff to Get Permission Before Allowing Karl Rove on Air

Fox News chief Roger Ailes has issued a new directive to the network's staff, requiring them to get permission before booking either Karl Rove or Dick Morris, reports Gabriel Sherman in New York Magazine.

Both pundits have dropped in visibility on the network since election night, when Rove disputed Fox News' call for Obama, the piece points out. Morris' support of Romney and his "reality-denying predictions became a punch line," the story adds.

Ailes was reportedly angry at Rove's election night dispute with the network’s number crunchers, even though it made for good television viewing.

A representative for Ailes denied a rift between the Ailes and Rove, but a spokesperson for Fox confirmed the new booking rules for Rove and Morris.

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Oscar Winner Jamie Foxx Working on Crime Drama for TNT

Jamie Foxx is working on a crime drama for TNT, reports Deadline.com. The project, based on an idea from Foxx, is called "Hit."

The show is co-written by Foxx and former "Numb3rs" co-executive producer Robert Port.

The project tracks two former high school football teammates and friends, who later work for the Miami Police Department's High Impact Team (HIT).

Foxx won an Oscar for his portrayal of Ray Charles in "Ray," while Port won an Oscar for the documentary "Twin Towers."

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Bravo Picks Up Pilots, Moves Toward Original Scripted Series

Bravo is moving toward launching its first original scripted series after picking up two scripted pilots, reports Deadline.com.

Both are from established women writer-producers: Liz Tigelaar's "The Joneses" and Krista Vernoff's "Rita," the story says.

"The Joneses" is based on the 2009 independent movie of the same name, which starred David Duchovny and Demi Moore.

"Rita" is an adaptation of a Danish show, and tracks an outspoken private school teacher who is struggling to raise her own teenage children.

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TNT Replaces Brendan Fraser in 'Legends' Pilot

TNT has lined up a replacement for Brendan Fraser in the drama pilot "Legends," reports TheWrap.com. The cable channel tapped "Game of Thrones" star Sean Bean for the role, according to the report.

As previously reported, Fraser dropped out of the project over creative differences with showrunner Howard Gordon. The project would have marked Fraser's first starring role on a TV series.

Bean will portray Martin Odum, a deep-cover operative who can transform himself into different people. The show is based on a book by novelist Robert Littell.

sean-bean.jpgSean Bean

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Former 'Bill and Ted' Star Sells Project to AMC

Former "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" star Alex Winter has sold a show about Midwestern militia to AMC, reports Deadline.com.

Called "Rights of Bill," the drama focuses on a sheriff who creates his own militia in Wisconsin, becoming an outlaw while at the same time acting as a lawman, the piece notes.

Winter will write the script with his writing partner Steven Pearl. On the acting side, Winter recently finished filming "Grand Piano" with John Cusack and Elijah Wood.

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Roger Ailes Had Fox News Analyst Kathleen T. McFarland Ask General Petraeus to Run for President. McFarland Said to Petraeus: 'The big boss [Rupert Murdoch] is bankrolling it. Roger's going to run it. And the rest of us are going to be your in-house.'

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Bob Woodward writes in The Washington Post today, Dec. 4, 2012, "[I]n spring 2011, [Fox News Chairman Roger] Ailes asked a Fox News analyst headed to Afghanistan to pass on his thoughts to [Gen. David] Petraeus, who was then the commander of U.S. and coalition forces there. Petraeus, Ailes advised, should turn down an expected offer from President Obama to become CIA director and accept nothing less than the chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top military post. If Obama did not offer the Joint Chiefs post, Petraeus should resign from the military and run for president, Ailes suggested."

Woodward continues, "The Fox News chairman’s message was delivered to Petraeus by Kathleen T. McFarland, a Fox News national security analyst and former national security and Pentagon aide in three Republican administrations. She did so at the end of a 90-minute, unfiltered conversation with Petraeus that touched on the general’s future, his relationship with the media and his political aspirations -- or lack thereof. The Washington Post has obtained a digital recording from the meeting, which took place in Petraeus’s office in Kabul."

At one point near the end of the close to 14-minute recording McFarland says, "The big boss is bankrolling it. Roger’s going to run it. And the rest of us are going to be your in-house." The "big boss" she is referring to is Ailes' boss, News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch.

Woodward also writes, "In a telephone interview Monday [Dec. 3, 2012], the wily and sharp-tongued Ailes said he did indeed ask McFarland to make the pitch to Petraeus. 'It was more of a joke, a wiseass way I have,' he said. 'I thought the Republican field [in the primaries] needed to be shaken up and Petraeus might be a good candidate.'

"Ailes added, 'It sounds like she thought she was on a secret mission in the Reagan administration. . . . She was way out of line. . . . It’s someone’s fantasy to make me a kingmaker. It’s not my job.' He said that McFarland was not an employee of Fox but a contributor paid less than $75,000 a year.

"Petraeus, Murdoch and McFarland did not respond to calls and messages requesting comment."

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Veteran Exec Terry Wood Joins Mark Burnett's One Three Media

One Three Media has announced the hiring of veteran TV and creative executive Terry Wood, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The Mark Burnett and Hearst-owned company named Wood president of unscripted and original syndication.

Wood was most recently president of creative affairs and development at CBS Television Distribution, where she was behind top shows including “Dr. Phil,” “Rachael Ray,” “The Insider” and “The Doctors.”

Said Burnett: “I have known and admired Terry for many years. She is a personal friend and a top-level producer with an unparalleled track record of success with quality programming -- which is very important in differentiating television storytelling today. She is a perfect fit for One Three as we expand our business into 2013.”

The report notes: “One Three Media is producing five unscripted series on the broadcast networks, including ratings powerhouses ‘The Voice’ and ‘Shark Tank.’ ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ ‘Survivor’ and ‘The Job’ also are on Burnett's roster.”

Wood commented: “I’ve known Mark for years and am thrilled to join his team at One Three. He has more hits on television than anyone. I’ve been looking for the perfect place to start the next chapter of my career, and this is absolutely the right fit because I care about producing quality shows.”

The piece adds: “Wood's move to One Three comes after the May hiring of HBO's Anne Thomopoulos as president of scripted.”

terry-wood.jpgTerry Wood

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NBC Working on Remake of Another Vintage TV Series

NBC hasn’t given up on rebooting vintage TV shows. Even though it struck out spectacularly last time -- with its attempt to bring “The Munsters” back to TV, as reported previously -- the network is diving back into the reboot waters to try to bring back “Ironside,” Josef Adalian writes in New York Magazine.

The Raymond Burr cop show, a Universal Studios production, is being redeveloped in a modern setting. The original series, which ran on NBC from 1967-75, focused on a former San Francisco detective who went on fighting crime from a wheelchair after being paralyzed on the job.

“Michael Caleo, who wrote Luc Besson's upcoming Tommy Lee Jones-Robert De Niro thriller ‘Malavita,’ is working on a script for the ‘Ironside’ reboot, with Dave Semel (‘Person of Interest’) attached to direct the pilot if it's ordered to production,” Adalian writes. “We have no idea if producers plan to retain the very cool Quincy Jones theme song, but as in the original, Detective Ironside will once again be a sarcastic, sometimes-abrasive type who's aided by a team of specialized experts that help him solve the toughest cases. We're tempted to call this ‘House’ in a wheelchair, but ‘Ironside’ got there first -- by about 40 years.”

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ABC Drama Sinks to Historic Ratings Low

An ABC drama series sank to an all-time low in the ratings as the network found itself mired in fifth place among broadcast networks Monday night, based on Nielsen overnight figures.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that ABC’s “Castle” fell three-tenths of a ratings point from its previous original episode to a 1.7 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, the lowest number ever for the series. ABC’s two installments of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” were also off the pace, with the 8 p.m. episode delivering a 0.9 and the 9 p.m. program managing a 1.1 -- both below the 1.3 mark set by last week’s premiere.

The top show of the night was NBC’s two-hour “The Voice” with a 3.9 in viewers 18-49, down three-tenths from last week’s 4.2. The network’s holiday special “Blake Shelton’s Not So Family Christmas” came through with a 2.8 to help NBC win the night.

CBS saw its entire prime-time lineup slip from last week’s highs: “How I Met Your Mother” was down three-tenths to a 3.0 in viewers 18-49, “2 Broke Girls” was off six-tenths to a 3.5, “Mike & Molly” fell a half-point to a 3.1 and “Hawaii Five-0” slipped one-tenth to a 2.2.

Fox was also down, with “Bones” dropping a half-point in 18-49 to a 1.9 average and “The Mob Doctor” down three-tenths to a 0.8.

For prime time overall, NBC was No. 1 in the 18-49 demo with a 3.5 average rating, followed by CBS (2.7 average), Univision (1.6), Fox (1.4) and ABC (1.2). NBC also led total viewers, averaging 11.0 million to 8.9 million for CBS, 5.8 million for ABC, 5.3 million for Fox and 3.8 million for Univision.

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Fox Greenlights Its First New Animated Series in More Than Two Years -- Show Takes Aim at One of Prime Time's Most Popular Genres

The home of “Animation Domination,” Fox Television, has greenlighted its first new cartoon series in more than two years, Deadline.com reports. "Murder Police" -- a twist on the cop procedurals that have proliferated in prime time -- comes from former "Family Guy" executive producer/co-showrunner David Goodman and Jason Ruiz.

The network last picked up new animation series in October 2010, when it ordered seven episodes of Jonah Hill’s “Allen Gregory” and six episodes of “Napoleon Dynamite,” the piece notes.

Deadline reports: “Set to premiere next season, ‘Murder Police’ follows a dedicated but inept detective and his colleagues -- some perverted, some corrupt, some just plain lazy -- in a twisted city precinct.”

Said Fox Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly: “David and Jason came to us with a really fresh take on law enforcement that we’ve never seen before. With ‘Murder Police,’ these guys are taking a staple genre of television -- the cop show -- and turning it on its head by pushing the warped comedic boundaries that only animation can offer.”

Ruiz will voice one of the lead characters as part of a voice cast that includes Will Sasso, Chi McBride, Horatio Sanz, Penny Marshall, Peter Atencio and Justina Machado.

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MacFarlane Will Head West for 'Ted' Follow-Up

Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Fox's "Family Guy" and "American Dad," is planning a big-screen Western comedy as a follow-up to his summer hit "Ted," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

MacFarlane will again team with Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, his collaborators on "Ted." The trio have written a script called "A Million Ways to Die in the West." In addition to directing and co-writing, MacFarlane will also star in the potential summer 2013 project.

“The plot has been described as a ‘Blazing Saddles’-style movie -- meaning a Western with contemporary humor, with one undercurrent being just how dangerous and painful life really was in the late 1800s,” the piece reports.

MacFarlane has been on a hot streak of late. He's been chosen to host the upcoming Academy Awards telecast. "Ted," which cost about $50 million to make, grossed $501 million worldwide. A sequel to the film is already being discussed, and MacFarlane is also talking about a "Family Guy" feature film.

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The Viewers Have Spoken and This Cable Show Is the No. 1 Fall Series Among Viewers 18 to 49

Looks like a major breakthrough: A basic cable show's "18-49 average [rating] has topped all other fall series -- cable or broadcast," reports Deadline.com.

It's AMC's show starring the real mad men -- and mad women -- of TV: the zombie drama "The Walking Dead."

And there's even more to marvel at. The story adds that thus far, season three of the series "reigns as the No. 1 ad-supported drama series in basic cable history among total viewers, adults 18-49, adults 25-54, adults 18-34 and all male demos."

This rush of stats about "The Walking Dead" accompanies the results of the mideason finale of the series, which debuted Sunday night, Dec. 2, 2012.

And those results were huge: "a monster 10.5 million total viewers for the premiere 9 PM telecast and 15.2 million for the night, including two encores," Deadline says, continuing, "That was just shy of the record-breaking 10.9 million Live+Same Day total viewers who tuned in to the third season premiere in October. Compared with Season 2 midseason finale in 2011, last night’s audience was up a whopping 58%. The 'Walking Dead' midseason finale drew 6.9 million adults 18-49, up 54% vs. Season 2, and 6.0 million adults 25-54, up 52%. Both qualify as the second-highest deliveries for the zombie series behind the Season 3 premiere (7.3 million in 18-49, 6.1 million in 25-54)."

Season three's remaining eight episodes are set to launch Feb. 10, 2013, the report notes.

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Who's the Most Searched Person of 2012? You May Not Be Happy With Yahoo's Results

Internet search firm Yahoo! revealed the top searches of 2012, and one of the “prestige” categories -- most searched person of the year -- went to a media personality many observers wish would go away: Kim Kardashian.

Reuters reports that Yahoo's top search term of the year was “election.”

In a conference call Yahoo! Web trend analyst Vera Chan said: "The 2012 elections dominated the online searches, which is amazing because if something is in the news, it's already accessible ... people were really saturated by it, but even so, that was a key word that people typed throughout the year."

Chan noted that only twice in the past decade has a news story topped the list: Michael Jackson’s death in 2009 and the BP oil spill in 2010.

Second on the list was the search term "iPhone 5." The iPhone has been high on the list before, but Chan said this was the first time a specific model ranked high on the list.

The rest of the top 10 was dominated by famous women, led by Kardashian at No. 3.

“Chan said Kardashian's ‘notoriety has kept her at the top,’ citing her ongoing divorce saga with ex-husband Kris Humphries, her high-profile relationship with rapper Kanye West and her E! channel reality shows,” the story reports.

The report adds: “Sports Illustrated cover model Kate Upton, British royal Kate Middleton, late singer Whitney Houston, troubled former child star Lindsay Lohan and pop star and former ‘American Idol’ judge Jennifer Lopez all featured in the top 10 after being in the news prominently throughout the year.”

Middleton was also the subject of the most searched scandal of the year, in which a French magazine published topless photos of her.

Also making the top 10 was "Olympics" at No. 7, while "political polls" came in at No. 8.

The story adds: “On Yahoo!'s separate list of top-searched obsessions, pop culture dominated this year, with ‘The Hunger Games,’ reality star Honey Boo Boo, erotic novel ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ British boy band One Direction, Carly Rae Jepsen's hit song ‘Call Me Maybe’ and Korean rapper Psy's ‘Gangnam Style’ featuring in the top 10.”

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A Phenom Just 6 Years Old Has Exploded to Become the 'Second Screen' Experience for TV Viewers (Or 140 Ways to Say You Love or Hate What You're Watching)

A new report by the Nielsen Co. confirms a trend among viewers that has been gaining momentum for some time: the use of a second screen while watching TV.

And the second screen of choice, increasingly, is Twitter, the social network that's just six years old and limits messages to 140 characters.

“Twitter has become the second screen experience for television," said Nielsen social media Vice President Deirdre Bannon.

The report “illustrates the explosive growth in people who watch TV while connected to social media on smartphones and tablets,” reports David Bauder of the Associated Press.

Nielsen found that one in three people using Twitter in June sent messages at some point about TV shows, the story notes. "And that was before the Olympics, which was probably the first big event to illustrate the extent of second screen usage," Bauder writes.

The study also found almost one-third of people between 18 and 24 used social networking sites while in the bathroom.

At least once per day, about 41% of tablet owners and 38% of smartphone owners used their devices while watching TV, the report notes.

"There are big and interesting implications," Bannon said. "I think both television networks and advertisers are onto it."

The piece notes: “The social media can provide networks with real-time feedback on what they are doing. The performance of moderators at presidential debates this fall was watched more closely than perhaps ever before, because people were instantly taking [to] Twitter to provide their own critiques.”

But the story also notes a contrast in current trends: “The increase in people watching television and commenting about it online would seem to run counter to another big trend this fall: more people recording programs and watching them at a later hour. Those contrary trends both increase the value of live event programming like awards shows or sporting events.”

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Court Upholds Record Verdict Against Disney in 'Millionaire' Case

A court has upheld a massive verdict against The Walt Disney Co. in a case related to the hit series "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq. The $319 million verdict is the largest verdict in Hollywood history in a profits case, the story says.

The verdict in the lawsuit filed by U.K.-based Celador was announced by a federal jury in 2010. It was originally about $270 million, but interest charges have since been added.

A three-judge appeals court panel upheld an earlier decision to deny Disney a new trial, the story adds. With the ruling, the damage award will stand unless the U.S. Supreme Court intervenes.

"What the court of appeal did today validates what a careful and thoughtful trial judge and a quite attentive jury did two years ago," said Celador lead litigator Roman Silberfeld.

A Disney representative said the company was "extremely disappointed with the decision; ABC and Buena Vista Television continue to believe that they fully adhered to the 'Millionaire' agreement."

Celador's lawsuit claimed ABC and its affiliated companies didn't include ABC's profits when making the profit participation calculations of what was owed to Celador, as well as improperly subtracting merchandising and other expenses related to the show, the piece notes.

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CBS News Closes In on Permanent Anchor for Saturday 'Evening News'

CBS News is close to naming its new full-time anchor for the Saturday edition of "CBS Evening News," with the job apparently set to go to CBS News national correspondent Jim Axelrod, reports TVNewser.com.

Axelrod has been the main fill-in anchor since Russ Mitchell left CBS News a year ago, the piece adds. The new role would formalize the job for him.

Jeff Glor anchors the network’s Sunday evening news.

jim_axelrod.jpgJim Axelrod

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Why David Poltrack, TV's Top Researcher, Says Stop Worrying About the Decline in Viewers and Key Demos This TV Season. Actually, a New 'Golden Era' Is Here

"Never mind those declines in viewers and key demographics this season, broadcast television is entering a 'new golden era,' according to David Poltrack, chief research officer of CBS Corp."

So reports our good friend Joe Flint in the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog.

Poltrack, speaking at the UBS Media and Communications Conference, cited the development of new platforms such as digital streaming and video on demand, saying these platforms are allowing networks to broaden their reach beyond the TV screen.

The TV ratings, however, still need to catch up, Poltrack said.

"The reason that younger adults view less TV than older adults is because they spend less time in the home and Nielsen measures viewing in the home," he said.

Even though sampling of new TV shows was off 4% this fall, as measured by television viewing, more people watched new shows via DVRs, VOD or online, he said. Younger viewers are shifting to online and VOD viewing more this season than a year earlier.

CBS's new drama "Elementary," for example, drew almost half of its on-demand viewing more than one week after the show's original airdate.

"That is an important statistic given that networks want to be able to show the viability of VOD to advertisers as technology makes it easier to insert new ads into older shows," Flint writes.

We urge you to click on the link above and read Flint's entire report about Poltrack's remarks.

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'American Idol' Production Company Working on Project With 'thirtysomething' Co-Creator About the Rise of One of the Most Hated Men in History

FremantleMedia, the production company behind "American Idol" and "X Factor," is working on a project about the rise of one of the most hated men in history.

That would be the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in Germany. The project is based on the Andrew Nagorsi book "Hitlerland," reports Deadline.com.

It's one of FremantleMedia's highest-profile scripted projects yet, and the company is working with Emmy Award winner Marshall Herskovitz, a veteran film and TV writer and producer, on the drama project.

Herskovitz, who with his writing partner Ed Zwick created the series "thirtysomething" and "Once & Again," will write the adaptation and executive produce with producer and manager Alan Gasmer, the story notes.

The series will focus on Berlin in the 1920s and 1930s.

“Berlin during the 1920s and ’30s was so alive, so filled with promise, so incredibly modern -- even today, much of what we think of as new or avant-garde was created then,” Herskovitz said. “And it’s equally important -- in light of the dark forces in our world today -- to understand how a group like the Nazis ever came to power.”

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Who Would've Thought? After the Success of 'Deadliest Catch,' Discovery Channel is Mining Alaska for Second Successful Show

Who would have thought it about Alaska: There's gold in them thar hills! First, Discovery had a huge hit with "Deadliest Catch,' primarily filmed in the waters off the coast of Alaska.

Now, another Discover show set in Alaska, "Gold Rush," beat all telecasts on the broadcast networks Friday night -- along with its competition on cable -- in the key demo of viewers 18-49, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

"Gold Rush," an unscripted show about miners in Alaska, drew a 1.9 average rating in the demographic on Friday, Nov. 30, with its closest competition, CBS's "Undercover Boss," earning a 1.8 rating in the segment.

"Friday is now one of several nights seeing huge cable advantages over the broadcast networks," the piece reports. "Sunday night's midseason finale of AMC's 'The Walking Dead' blew everything but NBC's 'Sunday Night Football' out of the water."

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Latest Book From 'Harry Potter' Author J.K. Rowling Heading to TV

The latest novel by “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling -- "The Casual Vacancy" -- will become a television series, with the BBC saying it's turning the book into a series for BBC One, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

In a statement, Rowling said: “I’m thrilled that the BBC has commissioned 'The Casual Vacancy.' I always felt that, if it were to be adapted, this novel was best suited to television and I think the BBC is the perfect home.”

The show is expected to air in 2014, and Rowling will collaborate on the series, which hasn't yet set a number of episodes. No plans are in place yet to air the series in the U.S.

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Stars Come Out for Tribute to Heroes -- But the Focus Is on Everyday People Doing Extraordinary Things

An awards show that’s unlike the others took place Sunday at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, where Anderson Cooper hosted “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute.”

Click here to read TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin’s report on the celebrity-studded event and the remarkable achievements of the people it honors.

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Report: Fox Buying Another Regional Sports Network

Fox is buying another regional sports network, Reuters reports. (Though we first saw this on Deadline.com, which credited Reuters for breaking this story.)

Says Reuters, "News Corp. is expected to announce as early as this week that it will buy SportsTime Ohio, a TV channel owned by the Cleveland Indians baseball team, for around $230 million, sources told Reuters, marking its second acquisition of a regional sports channel since late last month."

The wire story continues, "The deal would give News Corp.'s Fox Sports unit the rights to broadcast the Major League Baseball team's games, according to two sources with knowledge of the negotiations. That would add to the games that its Fox Sports Ohio channel carries from basketball's Cleveland Cavaliers, the Cincinnati Reds baseball team and others."

Notes the Deadine story, "The SportsTime deal would give it broadcast rights to Indians games as well as Cleveland Browns and Ohio State matches."

The Deadline story adds, " In November, [News Corp.] acquired a 49% stake in The New York Yankees’ YES Network giving it local media rights to the Bronx Bombers and the Brooklyn Nets. That deal was valued at $3B. Fox Sports is also negotiating a 25-year extension of its agreement to carry Los Angeles Dodgers games in a potential $6B-$7B deal."

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Will 'The X Files' Return to TV? Here's What One of the Show's Producers Says

"The X Files" executive producer Frank Spotnitz hinted in an interview with the fan site Den of Geek that the show could return to television.

Asked whether the show could return to TV like "Star Trek" did with its different versions, he answered, "I wouldn’t be surprised at all. I mean, I don’t think I would have anything to do with it, but you know, for better or for worse, these things are titles of big corporations, like ‘Star Trek’ belongs to Paramount and ‘The X-Files’ belongs to Twentieth Century Fox, and it’s a huge asset in their libraries so I can’t imagine they would let it sit languishing forever."

Asked about whether the show could return as "Mulder and Scully: The College Years," he replied, "Anything could happen. I just hope that if they do it, they do it well -- that’s my only request."

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NBC Working on New Singing Competition Show, With Former Boy Band Member as Host

NBC, which is moving ahead with plans for a new singing competition series, has lined up a familiar music competition figure as host. Nick Lachey, who rose to fame as a member of the boy band 98 Degrees, will host the upcoming series "The Winner Is," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Lachey is the former host of “The Sing-Off.”

In the new show, singers of all ages will be pitted against each other in competitive singing challenges with a studio audience determining the winner.

In a statement, NBC’s Paul Telegdy, programming president for alternative and late-night, said: "Nick is a versatile, seasoned host, and we are thrilled to be working him. With Nick at the helm on air and an original format from Talpa that includes surprising and competitive twists, viewers are sure to be immersed and entertained."

nick-lachey.jpgNick Lachey

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'60 Minutes'/Vanity Fair Poll Names Greatest Sitcom of All Time (Poll Also Reveals the Funniest Letter of the Alphabet, Among Other Things)

A comedy series from TV’s early days battled it out with one from not all that long ago for the title of greatest sitcom of all time in a new poll by “60 Minutes” and Vanity Fair, with the not-so-old one, “Seinfeld,” edging the really old one, “The Honeymooners,” for the top spot.

Twenty-two percent of respondents picked “Seinfeld” as the greatest sitcom, closely followed by “The Honeymooners” with 20%. Also in the running: “Friends” (16%) and “Cheers” (14%).

The poll also addressed other comedy-related topics, determining that most people consider men to be funnier than women, while the most off-limits topic for comedians is sexual assault.

So, what’s the funniest letter of the alphabet? According to the survey, it’s the letter Q, which was named by 22% of respondents.

Another tidbit of interest: Employees of the Department of Motor Vehicles were identified as least likely to crack a smile, from a field that included airport workers, toll collectors and nightclub bouncers.

And only 14% of respondents knew who Judd Apatow is. The director, writer and producer is the guest editor of Vanity Fair’s January comedy issue.

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Spike Renews Two Series

Two of Spike TV's more macho shows have received orders for additional seasons from the cable channel, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"Ink Master" will return for a third season, and "Tattoo Nightmares" will be back for season two, the story reports.

Sharon Levy, Spike TV executive VP of original series, said in a statement, "The real stakes and compelling drama that both ‘Ink Master’ and ‘Tattoo Nightmares’ deliver resonates with our ever-expanding audience."

In eight episodes this past season, "Ink Master" averaged 1.8 million viewers. "Tattoo Nightmares" did nearly as well, averaging 1.5 million viewers in its first season.

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Time Warner Cable CEO Threatens to Drop Networks

Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Officer Glenn Britt said his company -- the nation’s second-largest cable company -- may drop low-rated networks when their contracts run out, Bloomberg reports.

The move would be an effort to counter increasing prices for pay-television content.

Speaking at a conference today in New York hosted by UBS AG, Britt cautioned content providers that distribution on TWC systems “is not a birthright,” the piece reports.

Said Britt: “If you have a network that is getting hash-mark ratings and no real sign it’s going to get any better, we’re going to have a different kind of conversation than we might have had five, six or 10 years ago.”

The piece adds: “Time Warner Cable’s programming costs since 2008 have increased about 30 percent, leading to a 15 percent increase in cable-TV prices, Britt said. The trends are unsustainable as prices rise too quickly for many people to afford, he said.”

However, scrapping low-rated channels won’t necessarily be a simple matter.

“Dropping low-rated networks can be a tricky decision because their owners often bundle them with higher-rated channels, forcing U.S. cable companies to pay for all of them or lose access to networks they would otherwise want to keep,” the story reports. “Britt declined to say how New York-based Time Warner Cable would deal with the dilemma of potentially losing popular channels.”

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Howard Stern Re-Ups With 'America's Got Talent'

Radio superstar Howard Stern has agreed to appear for a second season on NBC's "America's Got Talent," reports Newsday. Stern informed listeners to his radio show this morning that he will be returning to "AGT" in part because he enjoyed his time on the show.

"I'm very, very excited, honestly, about going back to 'America's Got Talent.' I'm very excited to be working again with [executive producer] Simon Cowell and NBC and all the various folks who work there,” Stern said.

While Stern is set, the other two judges are still up in the air. Howie Mandel has not signed on yet and Sharon Osbourne has definitively announced that she would not go back after her dispute with the network.

Stern wasn't sure who the new judges might be, but offered this comment: "If I don't like the new judge, I'll hit the 'X' [buzzer] on the judge while they're talking. I'll be like, 'Shut up, no one wants to hear from you.' Believe me, if I was the only judge, I think the show would be terrific. You don't need the other judges, but all right. I gotta to learn to play with others."

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NBC Coasts to Ratings Win With Football Broadcast

Another strong outing by NBC's "Sunday Night Football," which featured NFC rivals the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys, made the network the big winner in the Sunday prime-time ratings, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC averaged a 5.3 rating for prime time in the key 18-49 demo, well ahead of CBS (3.2 average), ABC (2.1) and Fox (1.7). NBC also finished ahead in total viewers, averaging 15.1 million to 13.3 million for CBS, 7.0 million for ABC and 3.9 million for Fox.

The report notes that the numbers will be subject to more than the usual level of adjustments due to the nature of live programming, with football impacting NBC, CBS and Fox.

NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” had a preliminary 6.6 average rating in viewers 18-49, down from a 7.6 a week ago.

ABC was paced by “Once Upon a Time” with a 3.1 average in 18-49, even with last week. “Revenge” ticked up to a 2.4, improving two-tenths of a point from a week earlier. “666 Park Avenue” also improved by two-tenths, to a 1.4.

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AMC Bringing Back Canceled Drama Series

Cable network AMC is resurrecting a canceled drama series, according to a report in Variety. AMC is bringing back “The Killing” after the show flirted with a move to Netflix.

Showrunner Veena Sud and executive producers Dawn Prestwich and Nicole Yorkin returned to the writers' room last week and began work on a third season of the show, the story reports. The program may return to TV in late May, with production starting in a few months.

As previously reported, Netflix had been in talks to keep the drama alive. Those talks were not finalized, Variety notes. The continued interest in the show, however, convinced AMC to look at the show once again.

While there's no word on which actors will return, the producers will likely try to keep its stars, Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman, the piece adds.

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CBS Affiliate Slaps a Ban on Coverage of Lindsay Lohan

A CBS affiliate has banned coverage of Lindsay Lohan in the station's news reports after the news director asked viewers whether they wanted a halt to stories about the troubled starlet, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Washington, D.C., station WUSA-TV’s news director, Fred D’Ambrosi, raised the issue by writing on Twitter that he was thinking of banning all Lindsay Lohan stories, which was retweeted by the station with a request for viewer responses, the piece notes.

The result was a series of colorful tweets, such as one woman's response: "yes please f--k Lindsay." Another response asked that the station also stop covering the "K" family, presumably a reference to the Kardashians.

The news director said he ultimately decided to kill all Lohan-related stories. "The people have spoken!" he wrote on Twitter.

He added that the station will still cover pop culture, however.

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'GMA' Angers Parents by Spilling Secret of Christmas Tradition While Kids Were Watching. One Pissed-Off Parent Asks Whether 'GMA' Will Say Next That There's No Santa Claus

ABC’s “Good Morning America” is in hot water with some parents over a report about the children's toy "The Elf on the Shelf," reports the New York Post's Page Six.

The elf doll is supposed to "travel" to the North Pole at night to tell Santa whether children have been "naughty or nice," with the elf returning to a different spot in the house in the morning. The elf isn't supposed to be touched by children, or it loses its "magical powers," the story says.

In a segment on “GMA” anchor Lara Spencer explained that parents really move the elf in the middle of the night, and was shown handling the doll on camera.

The result? Hundreds of online complaints from viewers, who wrote that she had ruined the doll for young viewers.

One viewer wrote, "My kid ran upstairs this morning saying the elf on the shelf isn’t real and that parents hide it in the middle of the night!!! I’M PISSED!” Another added, "Tune in tomorrow when Lara tells children all over the country that the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus are really just your parents."

"GMA" later made a "clarification," with Spencer explaining that since the elf didn't have a name on the first segment, it didn't have magical powers yet, the piece adds.

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Why a 'Jersey Shore' Star Wants to Sue MTV -- and Why Gloria Allred Won't Take the Case

A celebrity attorney who’s a familiar face in the media has turned down a request from former “Jersey Shore” star Angelina Pivarnick to pick up Pivarnick as a client for a potential lawsuit against MTV. TMZ.com reports that attorney Gloria Allred turned down the request from Pivarnick.

Pivarnick contacted Allred about suing MTV, with the reality TV star claiming she has been blacklisted from other jobs and alleging it's the network's fault. She feels the network edited her appearances on "Jersey Shore" to make her look bad and has prevented her from taking part in MTV events, the story notes.

The reality star reportedly is seeking to file a defamation lawsuit and contacted Allred first. Allred's office reportedly sent Pivarnick a letter saying her workload is too large to fit her in.

The piece adds: “The famous attorney -- who has taken on high-profile clients like Scary Spice, Rachel Uchitel and Anthony Weiner's mistress -- wanted no part of her case.” The report implies that Pivarnick may not be famous enough to make Allred’s client list.

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Video: Bob Costas' Remarks About Gun Control on NBC Spark Debate

Bob Costas sparked a debate Sunday night when he spoke in favor of gun control during halftime of the Cowboys-Eagles game, reports The New York Times.

His comments came after Saturday's murder-suicide involving Kansas City Chiefs starting linebacker Jovan Belcher, who allegedly fatally shot his 22-year-old girlfriend before shooting himself.

According to the Associated Press, Costas paraphrased and quoted extensively from a piece by Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock.

"In the coming days, Jovan Belcher's actions and their possible connection to football will be analyzed. Who knows? But here, wrote Jason Whitlock, is what I believe. If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today," Costas said.

Many people took to the Internet to criticize the broadcaster for expressing his personal views on a program aimed at entertainment, the AP notes.

Here’s a video clip of Costas’ on-air comments:


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Character Actor Known for Playing Heavies on TV -- and for Role in Steve McQueen Movie 'Bullitt' -- Dead at 83

A veteran character actor who appeared on dozens of TV shows including "Mannix" and "The New Phil Silvers Show" has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Pat Renella was 83.

Renella, who built his reputation playing gangsters and hoods, portrayed mobster Johnny Ross in the 1968 crime movie "Bullitt,” which starred Steve McQueen.

On "The New Phil Silvers Show" in the early 1960s, Renella starred as one of the cohorts of con man Phil Silvers, the piece notes. He guest-starred in five episodes of "Mannix" and played Dr. Nelsen on "General Hospital" for 26 weeks in 1980.

Renella was also seen in TV commercials and ad campaigns, including one for Viceroy cigarettes. Other TV appearances included “Route 66,” “Combat!,” “The Rockford Files” and “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

Here’s a “Mannix” clip featuring Renella’s work:

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Lindsay Lohan's Bank Accounts Reportedly Seized by IRS

As if Lindsay Lohan didn’t already have enough problems, the IRS has reportedly seized all of her bank accounts in an effort to collect her unpaid federal taxes, reports TMZ.com.

The government filed tax liens against Lohan for 2009 and 2010, claiming she owes $233,904 in unpaid federal taxes. While the IRS had given her time to pay, the agency reportedly got tired of waiting and seized her accounts, the story notes.

Lohan also owes taxes for 2011, according to the report. Charlie Sheen has reportedly recently contributed $100,000 to help Lohan pay down her tax bill.

The piece adds: “Sources close to Lindsay tell TMZ, she's in full-on panic mode about her financial situation, and is desperately trying to make some cash to get out of the red.”

Lohan appears to be at risk of returning to jail because of a series of recent incidents that could trigger a probation violation -- notably an accusation that she lied to police about a traffic collision -- as we reported previously.

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The Daily, News Corp.'s Ambitious Plan to Create a Newspaper for the iPad and Other Mobile Devices, to Shut Down Dec. 15

"News Corp. [has] said that it is shutting down The Daily, its ambitious but expensive attempt to create an iPad newspaper, on Dec. 15," reports our friend Nat Ives at Advertising Age.

The article continues, "Following layoffs of a third of its staff this summer, The Daily employs roughly 100 people. A News Corp. spokesman said the company has begun a process in which Daily siblings such as the New York Post will try to offer opportunities to Daily employees."

The Ad Age piece adds, "The decision follows a 22-month effort that delivered both some significant achievements -- developing the iPad as a publishing platform, for example, and accumulating 100,000 paying subscribers for a brand-new product -- but seemed to stall out at a time when its parent company was becoming less able to indulge a lengthy investment period."

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'Evening Shade' Writer Dead at 51

Don Rhymer, a writer behind the CBS comedy "Evening Shade" and the 20th Century Fox Animation hit "Rio," has died, reports Deadline.com. He was 51 and died of cancer on Wednesday.

Rhymer wrote for both TV and feature films, with his earliest credits including NBC's "Valerie," the story notes. He also wrote for CBS's "Hearts Afire" and the NBC series "Caroline in the City" and "Bagdad Cafe."

His film credits include "The Santa Clause 2," "Big Momma's House" and its two sequels and "Agent Cody Banks 2." Rhymer started a blog called "Let's Radiate Don" after his diagnosis three years ago, the piece adds.

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News International CEO to Depart

News Corp. said News International CEO Tom Mockridge will leave the company at year-end, reports Deadline.com.

The departure isn't surprising given that Wall Street Journal managing editor Robert Thomson is in line to take over the publishing unit when it's spun off, the piece notes. Thomson will be named chief executive officer of the spinoff as soon as this week, according to Bloomberg.

The company agreed to spin off the publishing assets, which aren't growing as quickly as News Corp.'s Fox entertainment units, under pressure from shareholders.

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Gannett and DirecTV Reach Retransmission Agreement

Gannett and DirecTV reached a last-minute retransmission agreement, allowing DirecTV to continue retransmitting signals from Gannett's 23 television stations, reports Deadline.com.

Gannett had warned viewers that a signal disruption was possible if the two companies couldn't break an impasse over a new contract. Gannett didn't offer details on the new agreement, the piece adds.

NBC would have been impacted if Gannett stations had gone dark on DirecTV, as Gannett is the largest independent owner of NBC stations, according to the story.

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The DVR Age Reaches a Milestone

A new milestone has been reached in the age of the digital video recorder. Multichannel News reports that more than half of all pay-television households now include a DVR.

The number of pay-TV homes with DVRs jumped to 52% from 44% a year ago, and has roughly doubled from five years ago, the story notes, citing Leichtman Research Group.

The survey found that 71% of telco TV subscribers have DVRs, the highest percentage of the pay-TV services. About two-thirds (62%) of satellite subscribers have DVRs, while only 42% of cable customers have the devices, according to the story.

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