January 2013

ESPN's X Games Has First Fatality Ever as 25-Year-Old Snowmobiler Dies. ESPN Vows to Conduct Safety Review of Event

ESPN's X Games has now had its first-ever fatailty, as Caleb Moore, 25, died today, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, after a crash a week ago, reports USA Today.

"Moore, 25, died a week after his Jan. 24 crash during the snowmobile freestyle competition in Aspen, Colo. He was initially diagnosed with a concussion, but he had emergency surgery for a heart contusion and suffered a 'brain complication' over the weekend. His death is the first in the X Games since the winter event began in 1997."

That article adds, "In a statement released on Thursday, ESPN expressed its condolences for the Moore family while promising to review safety."

caleb moore.bmp

more »

NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Turns TV Critic and Blasts HBO's 'Girls' for Being 'too self-conscious, too cutesy, and not that funny.' And Then There's All That Sex. Bottom Line, Though, He Says Why We Should Pay Attention to the Series

NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar writes in a blog entry at The Huffington Post that HBO's "Girls" should be watched "because the show obviously is struggling to be a voice of its generation. ... 'Girls' wants to tell us something important about twentysomething females of the 21st Century. And, as the elders of our society, we should always be listening to those new voices crying out. But what are they telling us?"

Here is what Abdul-Jabbar says "Girls" is telling us:

1) Their world is mostly white.

2) They like to talk about (and sometimes engage in) sex.

3) They're too self-conscious, too cutesy, and not that funny,

4) The guys are more interesting than the girls.

Abdul-Jabbar's comments under each of these headings are more insightful than some who write regularly about TV. For example, under "Their world is mostly white" he writes, in part, "I don't believe that people of color, sexual preference, or gender need to be shaken indiscriminately into every series like some sort of exotic seasoning. If the story calls for a black character, great. A story about a black neighborhood doesn't necessarily need white characters just to balance the racial profile. But this [season's introduction of a black character on 'Girls'] really seemed like an effort was made to add some color -- and it came across as forced."

Under the heading "They like to talk about (and sometimes engage in) sex," Abdul-Jabbar writes, in part, "It's like a checklist of being naughty: masturbation (check), sex during period (check), oral sex (check), anal sex (check), virginity (check), etc. The show is actually at its most engaging during these awkward, fumbling, and mostly embarrassing (for the characters) scenes."

Abdul-Jabbar concludes, " 'Girls' ' heart and mind is in the right place. It wants to be more than the sum of its familiar parts. And sometimes it is. Maybe this season its voice will be louder and clearer and have more to say. It's worth listening for."

We urge you to click on the link above and read all of Abdul-Jabbar's comments about "Girls."

more »

Wednesday Prime Time: Fox Crushes the Competition

With Fox’s “American Idol” ruling the roost, none of the other broadcast networks were able to mount a challenge in prime time Wednesday night, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “Idol’s” 5.4 average rating in the key 18-49 demo -- about even with a week ago -- put Fox way ahead of the pack. The best anyone else could muster for prime time overall was a 1.8.

Some of the competitors didn’t try very hard -- CBS and ABC both put up a mix of repeats and originals. NBC gave it a go with a lineup of fresh episodes, but all of them were down from their previous originals.

For the night, Fox led the way with its 5.4 average in viewers 18-49, followed by CBS (1.8 average), NBC (1.6), ABC (1.5) and Univision (1.4). Total viewers was a bit more competitive but still a big win for Fox with 15.6 million to 8.1 million for CBS, 5.6 million for NBC, 4.6 million for ABC and 3.6 million for Univision.

CBS’s only fresh programming was “Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials,” which came through with a 2.1 in 18-49, improving one-tenth of a point from last year.

ABC broke out new episodes of “The Neighbors” -- down two-tenths of a point from last week to a 1.6 in viewers 18-49 -- and “Suburgatory” -- down four-tenths to a 1.8.

NBC’s grim results saw “Whitney” slipping to a 1.3 in the 18-49 demo, down one-tenth of a point from its previous original; “Guys With Kids” checking in with a 1.1, down two-tenths; “Law & Order: SVU” pulling a 1.7, down four-tenths; and “Chicago Fire” with a 2.0, down two-tenths but good enough to win the 10 p.m. hour against repeats on CBS and ABC.

more »

One of the Stars of 'CSI: NY' Is Arrested

One of the stars of the long-running CBS police procedural “CSI: New York” has been arrested, according to a report on TMZ.com.

Carmine Giovinazzo, who appears as Det. Danny Messer on the drama series, was arrested last week on a DUI charge in Scottsdale, Ariz., the report says.

“According to the police report, obtained by TMZ, cops located 39-year-old Carmine swerving all over all the road around 2:40 AM on Monday, January 21,” the piece reports. “When cops approached the vehicle, Carmine was reportedly ‘immediately apologetic and told [officers] he had been driving erratic because he was lost and using the GPS.’"

Giovinazzo reportedly had two passengers in the car, a Jeep Wrangler, and told police he was not from Arizona. “Cops say Carmine stank of booze, had bloodshot eyes and was slurring his speech,” the report notes. “When asked if he had been drinking, cops say the actor fessed up to having scotch at the W Hotel.”

Police reportedly measured Giovinazzo’s blood-alcohol level at .149, almost twice the state’s legal limit.

“Carmine was eventually arrested for DUI,” the report adds. “The arresting officer says Carmine ‘repeatedly apologized to me and told me he didn't want to be an “a**hole.”'

“The cop added, ‘[Carmine] thanked me many times for not treating him like a criminal and showing him respect.’"

Carmine-giovinazzo.jpg

Carmine Giovinazzo

more »

NBC Inks Deal for Roseanne Barr Sitcom

A year after scrapping plans for Roseanne Barr’s comedy project “Downwardly Mobile,” NBC is back in business with the veteran TV comedian, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“The actress who starred on ABC's ‘Roseanne’ for nine seasons has inked a development deal with Universal Television to develop, star and produce a comedy for NBC, The Hollywood Reporter has learned,” the story reports. “As part of the pact, Barr will reteam with ‘Roseanne's Nuts’ producer Steven Greener, who will executive produce the series alongside the actress-comedian.”

NBC produced a pilot last season for the mobile home park comedy “Downwardly Mobile,” which reunited Barr with John Goodman, the piece notes. The project, which also had Greener attached as an executive producer, did not move forward.

“For its part, NBC will make quick use of Barr's talents and has cast the outspoken personality to play talent agent Carla Fern in a three-episode arc on ‘The Office,’ where she'll help office manager Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) realize his showbiz dream,” the report adds. “She begins filming this week on the comedy, which will wrap its run this season.”

Barr’s main project in the past few years was “Roseanne’s Nuts,” a Lifetime reality series focusing on her Hawaiian macadamia nut farm, which ran for 16 episodes.

more »

Sandy Hook Students to Take Part in Super Bowl Telecast

One month after the killings of 26 students and faculty members of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., 26 students from the school will take part in the festivities surrounding Sunday night’s Super Bowl XLVII, USA Today reports.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed that the group will perform "America the Beautiful" during the pregame show, to be broadcast by CBS, the piece reports.

“The league is flying the students and their families down to New Orleans later this week in advance of the performance, which will be broadcast live on CBS shortly before Alicia Keys performs the National Anthem,” the story reports. “The gesture will cap a season in which the league lent its support to the Newtown community via ‘S.H.E.S.’ stickers on helmets, personal messages on cleats and gloves, moments of silence before games and charitable donations for relief causes, as well other means of emotional support.”

more »

CBS to Air Special on Death of Whitney Houston on Eve of Grammys

CBS announced plans for a special program to air on the eve of the Grammy Awards, examining how the death of Whitney Houston impacted the awards a year ago, USA Today reports.

The one-hour special, “The Grammys Will Go On: A Death in the Family,” will be televised Feb. 9, the night before CBS televises the Grammy Awards.

“Last year, Grammy producers learned of Houston's death less than 24 hours before the ceremony,” the story reports. “The CBS program recounts the scramble to pay tribute to the pop star and revamp the show.”

Featured in the special will be interviews with LL Cool J, Jennifer Hudson, Bruce Springsteen, Taylor Swift and other artists.

The report notes: “The 48-year-old Houston was found drowned last February in a Beverly Hills hotel bathtub. Coroner's officials ruled her death accidental, with heart disease and cocaine use contributing factors.”

more »

'Smallville's' Clark Kent Lands Role in JFK Assassination Movie

Actor Tom Welling, best known for his 10-year run as Clark Kent on the television series "Smallville," is heading to the big screen in a film about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, reports Deadline.com.

Bill Paxton, Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman are producing "Parkland," which tells the story of what happened in the hours after JFK was pronounced dead at Parkland Hospital in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. Peter Landesman is directing the feature film.

Welling is the latest name to join a cast that includes Paul Giamatti, Zac Efron and Billy Bob Thornton.

Tom-Welling.jpg

Tom Welling

more »

Report: Football Legend and CBS Analyst Had Love Child With CBS Employee

One of the legends of the NFL, who has been a pregame analyst with CBS since 2003, had a love child with a network employee and allegedly paid her to remain quiet, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

Dan Marino, who has a strait-laced reputation, got CBS Sports production assistant Donna Savattere pregnant, according to the report. She gave birth to their daughter, Chloe, in 2005, the story says. At the time, Marino was married to his wife of 20 years, and the pair had six children.

Marino is slated to work on Sunday's "Super Bowl Today" telecast, the piece adds.

"This is a personal and private matter. I take full responsibility both personally and financially for my actions now as I did then,” Marino told the Post in a written statement. “We mutually agreed to keep our arrangement private to protect all parties involved.”

Marino said he's still married. "My wife and I have been married for almost 30 years and have six children together,” he said in the statement. "And we continue to be a strong and loving family.”

Savattere moved from New York to Texas, but became a fixture on the Hamptons society scene, the story notes. Marino, 51, has been in touch with his daughter, according to the report.

Marino set a number of NFL records as quarterback of the Miami Dolphins from 1983-1999.

dan-marino.jpg

Dan Marino

more »

Popular Comedian Rumored to Be the Next 'Millionaire' Host

A well-known comedian, actor and director is the subject of a hot rumor at NATPE that he will be named the next host of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." TVNewsCheck reports that the job looks as though it will go to Cedric the Entertainer.

Disney-ABC said it will comment when it has the successor in place for Meredith Vieira, the story says.

As previously reported, Vieira said earlier this month that she's leaving the syndicated version of the show. She has hosted the game show since its syndicated debut in 2002.

cedrictheentertainer.jpg

Cedric the Entertainer

more »

CNN Acquires Nonfiction Series From Ridley Scott

As part of its effort to expand beyond hard news on weekends, CNN has acquired a nonfiction series from feature director Ridley Scott. B&C reports that the cable channel acquired Scott’s "Crimes of the Century.”

The series will look at news events such as the Bernie Madoff scandal and air interviews with witnesses, victims and investigators, the story says. It will begin airing on weekends on CNN/U.S. later in 2013. Scott, best known for “Blade Runner” and “Alien,” is executive producing for Scott Free Productions.

The move comes after a few other nonfiction acquisitions for CNN, including Anthony Bourdain's "Parts Unknown."

Scott is also known for directing the Apple Macintosh commercial “1984,” one of the most famous commercials of all time, which debuted during Super Bowl XVIII. Check it out:

more »

Veteran TV Director in Hot Demand This Pilot Season -- His Resume Includes 'Cheers,' 'Friends,' 'Frasier' ... the List Goes On

One of the busiest directors during the current pilot season is a TV fixture whose name is familiar to fans of quintessential sitcoms including “Cheers,” “Taxi,” “Friends,” “Frasier” “Laverne & Shirley” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

Deadline.com reports that James Burrows is in hot demand this season. Burrows has booked three multicamera comedy pilots -- a third of all the multicamera pilots picked up by the broadcast networks so far, the report notes. He may also direct a fourth pilot.

He's set to direct NBC's Victor Fresco pilot starring Sean Hayes; the CBS pilot "Friends with Better Lives"; and the untitled CBS Greg Garcia pilot.

That means that Burrows is directing two of CBS's three multicamera pilots. It's not a surprise, given that Burrows directed pilots for four of the network's current comedy series: "The Big Bang Theory," "Two and a Half Men," "2 Broke Girls" and "Mike & Molly."

His long TV resume also includes “Wings,” “3rd Rock from the Sun,” “Dharma & Greg,” “Rhoda,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” “Will & Grace” and many other successful shows.

 

more »

MTV Names New Head of Scripted Programming

MTV has officially named a new head of scripted programming, Deadline.com reports. Stepping into the position is ABC Family VP of Development and Programming Mina Lefevre.

Lefevre, who will be based in Los Angeles, will oversee all of MTV’s scripted development and programming, reporting to the network’s president of programming, Susanne Daniels, the story reports.

“MTV’s scripted development had been overseen by SVP Justin Levy, who is now expected to report to Lefevre,” the piece reports. “Levy, who championed MTV’s breakout comedy ‘Awkward,’ had been flying solo since MTV’s co-head of scripted programming, SVP Clay Spencer, was let go a day after Daniels was announced as new MTV programming topper. Levy and Spencer had been sharing co-head of scripted duties since February 2011.”

Lefevre spent 12 years at ABC Family, overseeing series including “Pretty Little Liars” and “Jane by Design.”

Said Daniels: “Mina was instrumental in establishing ABC Family as a pop culture player, and she’s demonstrated a proven ability to make hits that connect with young adults. In addition to our diverse roster of reality programming, MTV’s audience is increasingly hungry for more fun and smart scripted shows, and Mina is the perfect creative voice to join the stellar MTV team -- that has already ushered in hits ‘Awkward’ and ‘Teen Wolf’ -- to build upon the network’s diverse lineup.”

more »

Comedy Central Renews Series

Comedy Central has renewed a comedy series, just two weeks after its premiere. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the cable channel renewed Nick Kroll's "Kroll Show," which debuted with 1.2 million viewers.

The series received a pickup for a second season of 10 episodes. The show debuted Jan. 16, and has performed well with younger men. It won its time slot with men 18-24 and 18-34.

"Nick plays his characters with such comedic conviction, it's become obvious he has a serious personality disorder,” said network president of content development and original programming Kent Alterman, according to the story.

nick-kroll.jpg

Nick Kroll

more »

Freshman Talk Show Renewed for Second Season

One of the crop of new daytime talk shows jockeying to fill the void left by “Oprah” will get another season to establish itself. Katie Couric's new talk show "Katie" has been officially renewed for a second season, the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports.

The announcement makes the show's original two-year deal official, the story notes. The renewal was announced by the show’s distributor, Disney-ABC Domestic Television.

"Katie" has pulled steady ratings, averaging about 2.5 million viewers. It recently scored its biggest audience since its fall launch when Couric sat down with Manti Te'o, the Notre Dame football star at the center of a hoax, in his first on-camera interview about the hoax.

more »

Fox Closes In on Animated Project From Rapper 50 Cent

Fox is nearing a pickup of an animated comedy project from rapper 50 Cent, which is loosely based on his childhood, reports Deadline.com.

The untitled project is expected to receive a pilot or presentation order. The show would track a mischievous but good-intentioned boy who grows up with a wacky family, the story says.

“50 Cent’s life has already inspired a screen project, the autobiographical 2005 feature drama ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’,’ in which 50 Cent made his acting debut as the lead,” the report notes. “He will next be seen in ‘The Frozen Ground’ and ‘The Tomb.’”

 

more »

Animal Planet Orders Shows Focused on People With Animal-Related Jobs

Animal Planet has ordered two new unscripted shows, both of which track people with animal-related occupations, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"Swamp'd" is about the employees and customers at P'Maw's Bait Shack in Louisiana. The shop sells bait and the people there hunt bullfrogs, the story says. The show will debut in the spring.

"Money Barn" is a five-part, half-hour series that will debut in February. It features auctioneers who look for treasures hidden in barns, which the article says will presumably still have animals in them.

more »

Jon Favreau to Direct NBC Pilot

"Iron Man" director Jon Favreau is slated to direct the pilot for a new NBC comedy, reports Deadline.com. The project is “About a Boy.”

Favreau directed the pilot for one of last fall's hottest new series, NBC's "Revolution."

"About a Boy" comes from "Parenthood" executive producer Jason Katims and is based on the Nick Hornby book and the 2002 movie. The project is about an immature bachelor and the young boy who moves in next door with his mother.

more »

TLC Getting Back in Business With 'Cake Boss' Buddy Valastro

TLC is visiting Buddy Valastro's kitchen again, this time ordering a pilot for "Bakery Go Time," which stars the host of "Cake Boss" helping family-owned bakeries improve their businesses, reports Deadline.com.

"Cake Boss" is currently in its fifth season, while the competition "Next Great Baker," also hosted by Valastro, is in its third season. The latest venture is expected to debut in the summer, the story says.

more »

ABC Orders Project From 'Mike & Molly' Producer

ABC has ordered a project from "Mike & Molly" co-executive producer Cheryl Holliday, reports EW.com's Inside TV. The network ordered "Middle Age Rage" to pilot.

According to the logline, the show is about “a middle-aged mother who is fed up with feeling invisible and begins to speak up and demand the respect she feels she’s earned."

Holliday is writing the project, which is executive produced by Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank.

more »

He Couldn't Resist: Oscar Winner and Two-Time Golden Globe Winner to Host 'SNL' for First Time

An Oscar-winning actor -- who has also won two Golden Globe Awards -- will host "Saturday Night Live" for the first time on Feb. 16, 2013, reports The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed blog.

The actor is Christoph Waltz, who just won a Golden Globe for his role as bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz in Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained." Waltz is also up for the supporting actor Oscar for the role. He previously won both the Academy Award and Golden Globe for playing a German SS officer in World War II in Tarantino's 2009 movie "Inglourious Basterds."

The THR article adds: "Joining the actor is Southern band Alabama Shakes, also making its first 'SNL' appearance. The band, which released its debut album 'Boys & Girls' last April, is up for three Grammy Awards, including best new artist."

christoph waltz in 'Django  Unchained'.bmp

Christoph Waltz in "Django Unchained"

more »

Taps for the Boogie Woogie Bugle Girl: Last Living Sister of the Best-Selling Female Group in Pop Music History Dies

The last living sister of the best-selling female group in pop music history has died. 

The lead singer of the Andrews Sisters, Patty Andrews, has died at age 94 in Los Angeles, USA Today reports.

According to the story, the Andrews Sisters ruled the pop charts in the 1930s and the 1940s. "[Patty] was the youngest of the group, which included LaVerne and Maxene Andrews, and her dancing and humorous antics made her a crowd favorite. The sisters were the best-selling female vocal group in pop music history, selling an estimated 75 million to 100 million records, and were in constant demand for concerts, radio shows, films and product pitches."

The article  notes that besides the hit "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" -- later re-recorded by Bette Midler -- other hits sung by the Andrews Sisters include " 'Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen,' 'Shortenin' Bread,' 'Eight to the Bar,' and '(I'll Be With You) In Apple Blossom Time.' They also had hits with Danny Kaye, Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman and their bands. They worked most frequently with Bing Crosby, with whom they made 'Don't Fence Me In,'  'Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby' and 'Accentuate the Positive.' "

The story continues: "But their influence went beyond the numbers, which included 113 charting Billboard hits, 46 of which made the top 10. They influenced a wide range of artists: Mel Torme, the McGuire Sisters, the Lennon Sisters, Manhattan Transfer, Barry Manilow and Christina Aguilera."

Here are the Andrew Sisters singing "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" in the 1941 Abbott and Costello movie "Buck Privates":

more »

CBS Confirms Plans to Wrap 'How I Met Your Mother' -- Including the Big Reveal, Finally

All the contracts have been worked out and the fate of the CBS sitcom "How I Met Your Mother" is sealed, Deadline.com reports. The series will be back for a ninth season, which will be the show’s last.

Season nine will reportedly consist of 24 episodes. During the final season, the ongoing mystery of who "mother" is will finally be revealed, the report notes.

“All series regulars -- Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan -- are back, as are creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas,” Nellie Andreeva writes in the Deadline piece. “To show the cast their commitment to the show, Bays and Thomas were first to close a one-year show deal.”

Negotiations with the actors included their share of drama, Andreeva notes. “The prospects of a ninth season appeared all but dead after Segel had held firmly to his decision to leave until an eleventh-hour turnaround,” she writes. “I hear Segel finally changed his mind after reviewing detailed records of the relatively light workload the hybrid series requires for a fat paycheck while also allowing busy actors like him to also pursue a feature career.”

CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler had this to say: “Through eight years, ‘How I Met Your Mother’ has mastered the art of leading-edge comedy, emotional water-cooler moments and pop culture catch-phrases.”

Twentieth Television Chairman Dana Walden added: “Carter Bays and Craig Thomas are masterful and hilarious storytellers, and we have no doubt that they will guide one of the greatest comedies of the last decade to a gratifying conclusion when they finally reveal the identity of the mother.”

more »

One of the Best-Kept Trivia Secrets in Show Biz Is Revealed: Whose Leg Is It on the Poster for 'The Graduate'?

One of the most famous legs in the history of movies, Mrs. Robinson's on the poster for the 1967 movie "The Graduate," belonged not to Anne Bancroft, who played Mrs. Robinson in the film, but to another actress -- Linda Gray of "Dallas," reports toofab.com.

the-graduate-movie-poster.jpg

Gray appeared with Anderson Cooper on his syndicated talk show, "Anderson Live," on Tuesday and shared the story with him and the world. Bancroft was unavailable that day to shoot the photo, so Gray filled in. She was paid $25 for the gig.

more »

Tough Night for NBC as Two Series Sink to Season Lows -- Again

NBC had a difficult time in the ratings Tuesday night, based on Nielsen overnights, with two of its series slipping to season lows in the key 18-49 demo, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

Both “Go On” and “The New Normal” hit new lows -- eroding just a bit more after both shows sank to season lows last week. “Go On’s” 1.2 average rating in 18-49 and “New Normal’s” 1.1 were both down one-tenth of a ratings point from a week ago.

Elsewhere on NBC, two installments of “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” were also down. The show’s 1.4 rating at 8 p.m. was down two-tenths, and a 1.5 at 8:30 represented a fall-off of three-tenths. “Dateline” rounded out the network’s rough evening at 10 p.m. with a 1.3.

CBS’s lineup of original dramas easily carried the night: “NCIS” dipped two-tenths from its previous original episode to a 3.7 to earn the title of top-rated show of the night; “NCIS: Los Angeles” rose four-tenths to a 3.1; and “Vegas” ticked up three-tenths to a 1.9 to win the 10 p.m. hour.

Fox put up a little bit of a fight, with “New Girl” leading the way with a 2.5 in viewers 18-49, up three-tenths from last week. Two episodes of “Raising Hope” delivered a 1.7 and a 1.5 in viewers 18-49, while “The Mindy Project” also came through with a 1.7, up two-tenths.

ABC was well out of the running, with “The Taste” down a half-point from last week’s premiere, settling for a 1.6 in the 18-49 demo. Two episodes of “Happy Endings” managed only a 1.2 and a 1.3, and ABC aired a “Jimmy Kimmel Live” rerun at 10 p.m. (1.2 average rating).

When the dust settled, CBS was comfortably ahead for prime time overall with a 2.9 average rating in 18-49, followed by Fox (1.8 average), Univision (1.8), ABC (1.3) and NBC (1.3). CBS had a huge lead in total viewers with 16.7 million, trailed by NBC with 4.6 million, Univision with 4.2 million, Fox with 3.8 million and ABC with 3.6 million.

more »

Conflict Over HBO's 'Newsroom' Makes Aaron Sorkin Disappear From 'Houdini' Project

Aaron Sorkin's ("The West Wing") effort to make his debut as a librettist on Broadway as a part of the musical based on the life of magician Harry Houdini has been derailed by his HBO series "The Newsroom," reports Deadline.com.

“Sorkin has put a lot of work into the musical, but had to drop out because of scheduling,” the piece reports. “He had to go back and write the second season of his HBO series creation ‘The Newsroom,’ which will be broadcast in the summer. He’s also hard at work adapting the Walter Isaacson book ‘Steve Jobs’ for a feature film for Sony Pictures on the Apple genius.”

The Broadway production of “Houdini,” which will star Hugh Jackman, is targeting an opening during the 2013-14 season, creating a crunch for Sorkin and prompting his departure from the venture.

“Sorkin’s reps are in conversations with the ‘Houdini’ producers for them to continue developing the musical utilizing Sorkin’s initial concepts and other materials,” the report notes. “Stephen Schwartz is writing the music and Scott Sanders and David Rockwell are producing.”

more »

British Period Drama Gets Another Season

A British period drama has been renewed for a second season, reports B&C. Returning in 2014 with eight new episodes will be BBC America’s “Ripper Street.”

The show is set in the era of Jack the Ripper. The series debuted Jan. 19 in the U.S., following its Dec. 30, 2012, premiere on BBC One in the U.K.

In a statement, Richard De Croce, senior VP of programming for BBC America, said: "’Ripper Street’ on BBC America has just begun, with an additional six more episodes featuring great guest stars and powerful performances ahead this season. We're looking forward to exploring more of Victorian London in season two."

more »

ABC Greenlights 'Bet on Your Baby'

ABC has given a series order to a new prime-time game show, “Bet on Your Baby,” Deadline.com reports. The network has reportedly ordered eight episodes of the show.

“Hosted by Melissa Peterman, co-star of the ABC Family comedy ‘Baby Daddy,’ ‘Bet on Your Baby’ is produced by Ben Silverman‘s Electus and 5×5 Media, who together co-produce NBC’s ‘Fashion Star’ and TBS’s ‘King Of The Nerds,’” the story reports. “Each hourlong episode of ‘Bet on Your Baby’ will feature five families with toddlers between the ages of 2 and 3 1/2. Each family will play a self-contained, individual challenge competing against themselves -- not against other babies -- as they try to correctly predict their offspring’s next move.”

The families return at the end of the show for a “college round” in which they try to win $50,000 toward a college education for the child.

Said Peterman: “The concept of the show just appealed to me on many levels because as a mom I liked the fact that the kids are having fun and being themselves -- it’s the parents playing the game.”

“’Bet on Your Baby’ was created by 5×5 Media’s Craig Armstrong, Rick Ringbakk, Charles Wachter and Electus’ Silverman and Jimmy Fox,” the report notes. “The series is executive produced by Electus (Silverman, Chris Grant, Fox) and 5×5 Media (Armstrong and Ringbakk).”

more »

Producers Guild Honors the Year's Best Work in Film, TV

As part of the runup to the Oscars -- which has seen Ben Affleck’s “Argo” gain what may be unstoppable momentum -- the Producers Guild of America added its voice to the chorus of praise for the movie.

The producers also honored the best TV work of the past year. Click here to read TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin’s roundup of the awards.

more »

More CNN Departures: On-Air Fixtures Leave Network

Changes are coming at a rapid pace for CNN as Jeff Zucker takes over. Two of the cable news channel’s best-known political contributors, James Carville and Mary Matalin, are leaving the network as CNN looks for younger contributors, The New York Times' Media Decoder reports.

The moves come on the heels of the resignation Tuesday of CNN Executive VP and managing editor Mark Whitaker, as reported yesterday. Whitaker indicated he was leaving to give Zucker the freedom to put his stamp on the network.

Also this week, CNN hired Chris Cuomo from ABC News, with Cuomo headed for CNN’s revamped morning lineup.

As possible replacements for the politically mismatched couple Carville, a Democrat, and Matalin, a Republican, CNN has been focusing on another husband-and-wife team, John Avlon, an independent, and Margaret Hoover, a conservative, according to The Times piece.

Carville told Politico that CNN made the decision. "I was told that they wanted the contributors to be more available -- essentially, closer to Washington. I'm not always available -- I don't live there," Carville said.

Carville and Matalin live in New Orleans, and have a small TV studio in their home, where they make live appearances.

james-carville-and-mary-matalin.jpg

James Carville and Mary Matalin

more »

Classic Children's Story Is Suddenly Hot, With Projects in the Pipeline at NBC and CW

A classic children’s book is suddenly a hot property among the broadcast TV networks, and NBC is getting in on it by giving a pilot order to a modern-day sequel to "Alice in Wonderland," reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Another "Alice in Wonderland" project has been in development at the CW, which is working on a variation called "Wunderland" that's set in modern-day Los Angeles. However, that project did not receive a pilot order and the CW may be finished with its orders, the piece adds.

The NBC project, “Wonderland,” is based on a new character, Clara. According to the logline, Alice has become an evil queen: "Seven years ago Clara’s life took an unexplained turn for the worse, but a mysterious stranger tells her there may be an explanation after all … an explanation that lies in the fantastical world of Wonderland. Determined to revive her dreams and get her life back on track, Clara agrees to wage war against the reigning but malevolent Queen, the woman we once knew as Alice.”

The piece notes that it’s common for two networks to have dueling projects in development at the same time based on the same idea, including competing “Beauty and the Beast” projects at the CW and ABC during the previous pilot season.

more »

NBC Wins Bidding War for 'Brenda Forever' Project -- 'Office' Actress in Talks for Lead

NBC has won a bidding war with Fox over the comedy project "Brenda Forever," with "The Office" actress Ellie Kemper in talks to play the lead, reports Deadline.com.

The project, which has received a pilot order, takes place in two times, tracking Brenda as a 13-year-old and as a 31-year-old. The script is from writers Andrew Leeds and David Lampson.

Kemper is one of the most sought-after actresses this development season, the story adds.

ellie-kemper.jpgEllie Kemper

more »

Barbra Streisand to Perform at Oscars for First Time in Decades

Barbara Streisand -- who has a couple of Oscars of her own, for best actress in “Funny Girl” and best original song, “Evergreen,” in “A Star Is Born” -- will sing at this year’s Oscars for only the second time in her career, Reuters reports.

“Streisand will perform again at the Academy Awards on Feb. 24, producers said on Wednesday, without providing details about how her appearance would fit into the show or what she might sing,” the story reports.

Streisand, 70, made her only previous appearance as a performer at the Oscars when she sang “Evergreen” at the 1977 ceremony.

In a statement, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the producers of this year’s ceremony, said: "In an evening that celebrates the artistry of movies and music, how could the telecast be complete without Barbra Streisand? We are honored that she has agreed to do a very special performance on this year's Oscars."

The ceremony, to be hosted by Seth MacFarlane, will be televised live by ABC from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

more »

'Doctor Who' TV Movie Casts 'Harry Potter' Actor

The "Doctor Who" television movie "An Adventure in Space and Time" has cast the "Harry Potter" film actor David Bradley, who played Hogwarts caretaker Argus Filch, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The 90-minute TV movie will begin filming next month and will be part of the show's 50th anniversary celebrations, the story says.

Bradley will play William Hartnell, the first actor to portray Doctor Who. Hartnell played the character from 1963-1966.

david-bradley.jpgDavid Bradley

more »

What Will the Other Networks Air During the Super Bowl?

When the Super Bowl airs Sunday on CBS, the other television networks will deploy a "run for the hills" strategy, reports the New York Post.

The night's most popular shows will almost all disappear from TV, although some programs will air repeats, instead of getting hammered in the ratings, the story notes.

ABC is pulling "Revenge" and "Once Upon a Time," choosing instead to air repeats of "Shark Tank" and "Modern Family." Fox is going to all repeats, while NBC will run repeats of “Betty White's Off Their Rockers" all night.

One popular Sunday show, however, is sticking to its plan to air an original episode: PBS's "Downton Abbey" will air a new installment at 9 p.m., the piece reports.

more »

ABC Moves Forward With Show Based on Disneyland Ride

ABC is moving ahead with a project based on a Disneyland theme park ride, EW.com's Inside TV reports. The network gave a pilot order to "Big Thunder," based on Disneyland’s Big Thunder Mountain, the story reports.

The logline says, "When a brilliant, late 19th century New York doctor and his family are given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to relocate to a frontier mining town run by a powerful, but mysterious tycoon, they quickly realize that not everything in Big Thunder is as it seems."

Jason Fuchs of "Ice Age: Continental Drift" will write the pilot, while Chris Morgan of "The Troop" will executive produce.

more »

Starz Developing What It Calls a 'Gritty,' 'Unflinching' Ballet Drama -- and They Mean It; Show Has 'Breaking Bad' and 'Reservoir Dogs' in Its Bloodlines

Starz is developing what it calls a "gritty" and "unflinching" ballet drama, reports New York Magazine's Vulture blog.

The untitled show tracks a ballerina with a dark past who joins a New York dance company. "Breaking Bad" co-executive producer Moira Walley-Beckett and Oscar-nominated producer Lawrence Bender ("Pulp Fiction," "Reservoir Dogs") are behind the project, and both are former ballet dancers, the story notes.

"All your gross-out gnarly-foot-pain-porn dreams/nightmares are about to come true," the piece adds.

more »

YouTube to Introduce Paid Subscriptions

YouTube is getting ready to debut paid subscriptions for individual channels this spring, reports Advertising Age. The goal is to lure content producers, advertising money and viewers from traditional television, the story notes.

"As of now it appears that the first paid channels will cost somewhere between $1 and $5 a month," the story says. YouTube has asked a small number of channel producers to submit applications to create paid channels.

"In addition to episodic content, YouTube is also considering charging for content libraries and access to live events, a la pay-per-view, as well as self-help or financial advice shows," according to the report.

It continues: "YouTube is treating paid subscriptions as an experiment, much like video rentals when it began in 2010. The initial group of channels will be small, likely about 25 at the outset. The revenue split from subscriptions is expected to be similar to the 45-55 split that is common for ads on YouTube."

more »

Showtime -- on a Ratings Roll -- Renews Sunday Comedy Block

Showtime, which has seen a number of key shows post ratings gains, has renewed its entire Sunday comedy block, giving renewals to "Californication," "House of Lies" and "Shameless," reports EW.com's Inside TV.

All three shows are performing better than last year, the story notes. "Shameless" is up 22% in its third season, while season two of "House of Lies" is up 10% and the sixth season of "Californication" is up 21%, the piece adds. All will return in 2014.

In a statement, Showtime Entertainment President David Nevins said: “’Californication,’ ‘House of Lies’ and ‘Shameless’ possess highly distinctive comedic voices, and given that all three continue to grow their audience season after season -- the pickup decision was easy.”

Showtime is on a ratings roll, with both “Dexter” and “Homeland” returning last fall to series-high audiences, the piece reports.

more »

Barbara Walters Released From Hospital

Barbara Walters has returned home after being hospitalized for more than a week and after a variety of reports -- not all of them accurate -- about her health.

TVNewser.com reports that the ABC News fixture, 83, had traveled to Washington, D.C., to cover Barack Obama’s inauguration, despite running a fever, and took a fall during a reception at the British Ambassador's residence. She told Cindy Adams of the New York Post that she fainted, contrary to reports that she had tripped.

Walters was transferred to a hospital in New York and diagnosed with chicken pox after spending several days in a Washington hospital, the story says. As previously reported, Walters was teased about chicken pox by her co-hosts on “The View.” (Click here to see the video.)

Noting that chicken pox is a serious condition in adults, Adams writes in the Post that Walters, back home in New York now, is OK and is recuperating.

more »

Season-Two Premiere of 'Dallas' Plays to a Smaller Audience

TNT's two-hour premiere of the second season of "Dallas" saw its viewer numbers drop significantly from where the show left off last summer, B&C reports.

The drama drew 2.98 million viewers to its second-season return, down 31% from where it ended in the summer, the story says. It was also down 32% and 27% in the 25-54 and 18-49 age groups, respectively.

With season one playing in the summer, the show faced less competition last time around, the piece notes.

The show returned after the death of star Larry Hagman, who plays J.R. Ewing. He had taped five episodes for the second season before his death last fall.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for larry Hagman.jpg

Larry Hagman

more »

Shazam! A Marriage and a Divorce. Huge Sitcom Star of Days Gone By, Now 82, Has Married His Gay Partner in Seattle. Separately, Ashley Judd and Her Race Driver Husband Decide to End 11-Year Marriage

"The actor best known for playing the TV character Gomer Pyle in the 1960s has married his male partner of 38 years," reports the Associated Press, adding that the "Hawaii News Now reported that Jim Nabors [who played Gomer Pyle in two popular sitcoms, "The Andy Griffith Show" and the spinoff "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C."] and his partner, Stan Cadwallader, traveled from their Honolulu home to Seattle to be married Jan. 15. Gay marriage became legal in Washington state last month."

Separately, People magazine reports that "Ashley Judd and Dario Franchitti are splitting after more than a decade of marriage."

The People story continues, " 'We have mutually decided to end our marriage. We'll always be family and continue to cherish our relationship based on the special love, integrity, and respect we have always enjoyed,' Judd, 44, and Franchitti, 39, [told] People exclusively in a statement on Tuesday [Jan. 29, 2013]."

The AP story about Nabors says, "Nabors is 82 years old. Cadwallader is in his late 60s. Nabors said you've got to solidify something when you've been together as long as they have. The couple met in 1975 when Cadwallader was a Honolulu firefighter.

"Nabors said he's been open about his homosexuality to co-workers and friends but never acknowledged it to the media before."

more »

Future Oscar Gold for Ari Gold? Long-Running Former HBO Series Gets Green Light to Be Made Into Feature Film

" 'Aquaman' star Vinnie Chase is back, baby," reports Mike Fleming Jr. at Deadline.com, continuing, "Warner Bros. has tonight [Jan. 29, 2013] given the green light on a movie version of 'Entourage,' the HBO series that ran from 2004-2011.

Writes Fleming, "The film will be directed by series creator [and showrunner] Doug Ellin, who wrote the screenplay and who exec produced the series with Mark Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson. Deals are starting to be made with Adrian Grenier, who played Chase, Kevin Connolly, who played his manager Eric 'E' Murphy, Kevin Dillon, who played the actor’s brother Johnny Drama, Jerry Ferrara, who played their entrepreneurial driver Turtle, and Jeremy Piven, [in his Emmy-winning role as] iconic type A talent agent Ari Gold."

Fleming adds, "That’s about as far as the studio has gotten at this point, and there is no start date. ... While some naysayers might start in that an HBO transfer to film has no shot, the first 'Sex and the City' did pretty well. For me, I can only think of one word to describe this development. Victory!!!!"

more »

Key CNN Executive Resigns

Amid a climate of change under new CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker, a key executive has announced his departure from the network. Deadline.com reports that Mark Whitaker, who has been CNN’s managing editor and executive vice president, is exiting the cable channel.

Zucker will take over his duties, which include overseeing CNN’s editorial tone and direction, the piece reports. Whitaker’s position will not be filled.

Whitaker spread word of his resignation to colleagues in a memo, in which he wrote: “With Jeff Zucker’s arrival, we have a new leader with his own forceful ideas about where to take CNN’s reporting, programming and brand. For him to succeed, I believe he deserves his own team and management structure and the freedom to communicate one clear vision to the staff.”

The report notes: “Whitaker came aboard two years ago from MSNBC and spearheaded several moves at the cable news network, which suffered a ratings slump during most of 2012. He spearheaded such moves as bringing back Soledad O’Brien to a revamped morning show; adding names like Anthony Bourdain and Morgan Spurlock to the network (their shows are scheduled to premiere later this year); and starting a documentary label CNN Films.”

Meanwhile, Zucker has been busy restaffing CNN, including recently landing Rachel Nichols from ESPN to appear on a sports show and, in news that broke today, snaring Chris Cuomo from ABC News for a spot in the morning lineup.

mark-whitaker.jpg

Mark Whitaker

more »

CBS Renews Its Slate of Daytime Programs

CBS announced renewals today for a number of daytime programs, encompassing the genres of game shows, soap operas and talk.

TheWrap.com reports that the network renewed the long-running game show "The Price Is Right" for the 2013-14 season, while also renewing veteran game show "Let's Make a Deal."

Also renewed were the soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful" and the daytime talk show "The Talk."

“Combined with previous pickup of ‘The Young and the Restless,’ Tuesday's renewals complete the pickup of the network's entire daytime lineup,” the piece reports.

“The pickups aren't terribly surprising,” the report adds. "’The Price Is Right,’ which premiered its 41st season in September, hasn't slowed down with age, and currently averages 4.3 million total viewers in its first half-hour and 5.2 million total viewers in its second half-hour.”

"The Talk" reportedly has grown 11% this season in total viewers, averaging 2.35 million total viewers. Both "The Bold and the Beautiful" and "Let's Make a Deal" are also reportedly up from last season.

In announcing the renewals, CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler said: "Over the past few years, we have successfully transitioned our daytime schedule to a balance of program genres with new creative energy, while maintaining our ratings leadership. We are proud of CBS's history of quality and leadership in daytime, thrilled with our current success, and we look forward to more great things ahead from the outstanding creative talent in place at each of the shows."

more »

New Fox Drama Pulls Off a First for This Season

Fox’s new drama series “The Following” pulled off something no new drama has managed to do this season. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the series became the first new drama of the season to post a ratings gain from week one to week two.

Based on Nielsen overnights, “The Following” rose one-tenth of a ratings point to a 3.3 average rating in the key 18-49 demo Monday night. That performance, combined with a season-high 2.6 average for “Bones” -- up three-tenths from last week -- lifted Fox to a comfortable win for the night.

Second-place ABC got by mainly on the strength of a two-hour episode of “The Bachelor,” which delivered a 2.5 average in 18-49 -- the same as last week. ABC aired a “Castle” repeat at 10 p.m., settling for a 1.4 but still winning the hour.

NBC saw some slippage for its two-hour “Biggest Loser,” which managed a 2.3 average in viewers 18-49, down one-tenth from a week ago. NBC’s “Deception” at 10 p.m. held steady with a modest 1.3.

CBS aired all repeats, settling for fourth place among the broadcast networks.

For prime time overall, Fox led with a 2.9 average in the 18-49 demo, followed by ABC (2.1 average), NBC (1.9), CBS (1.7) and Univision (1.6). Fox also won total viewers with 9.6 million, followed by ABC (7.2 million), CBS (6.8 million), NBC (5.3 million) and Univision (3.9 million).

more »

ABC News Names Replacement for Chris Cuomo as '20/20' Co-Anchor

Soon after the news circulated this morning that Chris Cuomo would be moving from ABC to CNN, ABC News President Ben Sherwood announced that David Muir will co-anchor "20/20" with Elizabeth Vargas, taking over Cuomo's chair, reports Deadline.com.

Muir is currently the weekend host of the network's "World News," and Diane Sawyer's substitute in her absences during the week.

In a memo, Sherwood touted Muir's work with the network, saying, “For the last two years David has appeared on air more often than any correspondent at any news division, reporting from Tahrir Square to Fukushima to Tucson to Aurora.”

david-muir.jpg

David Muir

more »

Nielsen, Weigel Reach Deal for National Measurement of Me-TV

Weigel Broadcasting Co. announced it has reached an agreement with Nielsen that will bring national audience measurement to the Me-TV Network, starting this spring.

“The ratings for the Me-TV Network that Nielsen shared with us were above our expectations and certainly grabbed our attention,” said Neal Sabin, president of Content and Networks for Weigel Broadcasting Co. “Now that we are subscribers, we can take our impressive story to advertisers and their agencies. We will now have the credibility of Nielsen’s national measurement service just like the major broadcast and cable networks.”

Weigel noted that distribution has grown rapidly since Me-TV’s launch in December 2010, and that it now meets Nielsen’s requirements for reporting as a national TV network. “Currently, the Me-TV Network serves 141 affiliates, clears 87% of the country and can be found in 28 of the top 30 markets in the U.S.,” the company reported.

Said John Hendricks, EVP of Sales for Weigel Broadcasting Co.: “Based on the results the Me-TV Network has delivered for advertisers, we knew that viewers were finding us and staying with us. But now that our sales team can offer our clients Nielsen national ratings, it will provide validation to national advertisers and agencies that Me-TV delivers and is an exciting new option for their TV campaigns.”

Me-TV’s programming includes vintage TV series such as “M*A*S*H,” “The Brady Bunch,” “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “Gunsmoke.”

more »

'Mad Men' Actress January Jones Reveals She's Having an Unusual Appearance Problem -- and She Says She Knows Why It's Happening

Actress January Jones, known for her role as Betty, Don Draper’s ex-wife, on the AMC hit “Mad Men,” revealed that she is experiencing an unusual problem: Her hair is falling out.

ABC News reports that Jones, 35, says the problem is fallout from her frequent changes of hair color -- something many actors, and actresses in particular, have to put up with. Jones is “now sharing the hard truth about the color changes and the toll they have taken on her hair,” the story reports.

Jones said in a recent interview: “I have been every color and now my hair is falling out in clumps. ... I like it all colors -- it makes you feel different according to what color it is, but I prefer to be blonde. My son recognizes me in photos when I am blonde. He says, ‘Mama.’”

Jones, who has been promoting her new movie “Sweetwater,” added: “I’ve been blonde, red with extensions for this film, then blonde, then black, and now blonde again. I’m going to have to shave it off and wear a wig.”

Hair stylists agree that excessive hair coloring can contribute to hair loss, the piece notes, while genetics and medical conditions such as thyroid disease also play a role.

Other celebrities, including Lady Gaga and Kelly Osbourne, have had similar problems, the piece notes.

more »

CNN Snags ABC News Regular for Morning Challenge to 'Today' and 'GMA'; Is NBC's Ann Curry Next?

CNN, which is readying a revamped morning show to challenge NBC’s “Today” show and ABC’s “Good Morning America,” has brought Chris Cuomo aboard from ABC News, the New York Post’s Page Six reports.

Cuomo, ABC News’ chief legal correspondent and co-host of “20/20” with Elizabeth Vargas, is the brother of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Chris Cuomo will host the new CNN show with Erin Burnett, the piece reports.

New CNN chief Jeff Zucker has had his eye on Cuomo for a while, as we reported a month ago. CNN also snared ABC News’ senior White House correspondent, Jake Tapper, as previously reported.

Zucker has been “looking for an anchor he can basically make the centerpiece of the network,” the story reports.

“Zucker also has his eye on former ‘Today’ co-host Ann Curry, who is still tied to an NBC contract but has been stopped from doing live interviews,” the story adds. “We also hear Zucker has been scouting top print and digital reporters in Los Angeles to beef up CNN’s Hollywood reporting.”

But a separate report on TMZ.com says Zucker is not interested in hiring Curry for a prime-time anchor job at CNN.

“Well-connected network sources tell us ... reports that Zucker is courting Curry to be the next CNN star couldn't be further from the truth,” TMZ reports. “Fact is, Zucker doesn't believe Curry is the answer to CNN's problems and is continuing the search elsewhere.”

One source told the website: "Ann has been sainted because of what happened to her [on ‘Today’]. The fact is ... she definitely can't carry a prime-time show."

TMZ adds: “We're told it's possible Curry could come over to CNN to be something like a foreign correspondent, but it's ‘highly unlikely,’ because she's making around $10 mil at NBC and no way no how will Zucker pay anywhere near that.”

chris-cuomo.jpg

Chris Cuomo

more »

MTV Shutting Down Unscripted Series

MTV is shutting down production on an unscripted series that has attracted its share of controversy, the New York Post reports. The series is "Teen Mom 2," which has followed the lives of four women who became pregnant in high school.

The decision comes after star Jenelle Evans has been in the news for her erratic behavior, the story says. Since Thanksgiving, she got pregnant again, married, had a miscarriage and demanded a divorce, tweeting profanity-laden messages to her husband, the story says.

Producers were concerned that Evans had become a liability for the program, which aims to provide a cautionary tale about becoming a teen mother. Evans has been arrested seven times since her first appearance on MTV, the piece adds.

The fourth and last season of "Teen Mom 2" has already been taped and will air later this year.

jenelle-evans.jpgJenelle Evans

 

more »

Video: Volkswagen Super Bowl Ad Sparks Controversy

A Volkswagen commercial for the upcoming Super Bowl has sparked a controversy after the spot was previewed online, Motor Authority reports.

“Volkswagen’s upcoming ad for Super Bowl XLVII doesn’t feature scantily clad bikini models, singing dogs or an adorable pint-sized version of a famous movie villain,” the piece reports. “There are no pyrotechnics, driving stunts or rock bands, either. Instead, it centers on the quest of a lowly office drone named Dave, who drives a VW Beetle, to improve morale in his workplace.”

The problem with the “Get Happy” spot, the piece reports, is that “Dave, who’s from Minnesota, speaks with an island patois that some find demeaning to Jamaicans. Worse, one extreme feels that the video portrays Jamaicans as lazy, though we have a hard time seeing that ourselves.”

See for yourself -- here's the video:

more »

NATPE 2013: Mark Cuban Makes the Case for Old-Fashioned TV

Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and chairman of hi-def cable network AXS TV, launched the annual conference of the National Association of Television Program Executives in Miami with a defense of the traditional television model, Cynthia Littleton writes in Variety.

“Ever the nonconformist, Mark Cuban opened the NATPE confab by extolling the virtues of old-fashioned live TV, questioning the long-term viability of over-the-top services and defending cable's traditional bundling model,” Littleton writes.

Appearing Monday at a high-profile Q&A session with CNN’s Poppy Harlow, Cuban said television maintains a big advantage over the Internet in video and as a driver of social media. Cuban has been making a similar argument for some time on his blog at blogmaverick.com.

Said Cuban: "The Internet is designed for everything but video. Television has become the medium for starting the social conversation that more people participate in than any other medium."

“He asserted that even programming that runs in the middle of the night on niche cable nets with no promotion typically draws more viewers than much of the video content on the Internet,” Littleton writes. “Cuban said the interest in driving second-screen activity is why his AXS TV emphasizes live events like concerts.”

Cuban sees an uphill battle for Internet providers of OTT, or over-the-top, services -- video, essentially -- as they compete with cable and satellite providers.

"When you have unlimited choice you also have unlimited expense ... in trying to get your content to come to the front," he said. "YouTube spent all that money to get content. They don't know what's going to work."

Cuban also noted: "Views on VOD are growing faster than on YouTube.”

Littleton adds: “Cuban thinks consumers will continue to pay their cable/satellite bills even with rising costs because it's simply easier.”

Cuban said a shift to an a la carte model would "kill television," Littleton notes.

Said Cuban: "People like bundles. They don't want to have to work to get their entertainment.”

Mark-Cuban.jpgMark Cuban

more »

It Worked for History Channel: NBC Orders 'Hatfields & McCoys' Project

A "Hatfields & McCoys" project has been ordered by NBC, following the huge success of History Channel's miniseries about the feuding families, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The pilot project is set in present-day Pittsburgh, with a death reigniting the feud between the two clans, the story says. In this version, the McCoys are a blue-collar family while the Hatfields are wealthy.

Charlize Theron is attached as one of the executive producers on the project, which is written by John Glenn of "Eagle Eye."

 

more »

Another 'Schweddy Balls'? New Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Flavor Will Pay Tribute to '30 Rock'

Vermont ice cream maker Ben & Jerry's will debut a new flavor inspired by the NBC comedy "30 Rock" on Thursday night, when the show winds up its seventh and final season, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Ben & Jerry's is selling tickets to a viewing party at New York's Latitude bar Thursday night, when the flavor will be unveiled. The ice cream maker is encouraging attendees to dress as their favorite characters. A winner will receive a year's supply of ice cream and frozen yogurt.

This will mark the second Ben & Jerry's ice cream associated with a "30 Rock" star. An old Alec Baldwin "Saturday Night Live" skit inspired a limited-edition ice cream flavor called "Schweddy Balls."

That ice cream flavor, however, attracted some protests, with One Million Moms calling it "vulgar" and "repulsive” and some stores refusing to carry it.

schweddy-balls-ice-cream.jpg

 

more »

ABC Casts Emmy Winner to Star in Comedy Project

ABC has cast an Emmy-winning actor and comedian to star in a new sitcom project, Deadline.com reports. The network cast Rob Corddry to star in the pilot "Spy," a comedy based on a British show of the same name, the piece reports.

Corddry is known for his work on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and for his appearances in a series of feature films including the 2010 movie “Hot Tub Time Machine.” He created and stars in the comedy series “Childrens Hospital,” which moved from the Web to Adult Swim, winning an Emmy last September for outstanding special class -- short-format live-action entertainment program.

On “Spy,” Corddry will play the father of an extremely intelligent son, who is also quite different in personality from his father. The dad, in trying to prove himself to his son, inadvertently takes a job with the Secret Service.

The British series' creator, Simeon Goulden, wrote the U.S. version.

rob-corddry.jpg

Rob Corddry

 

more »

Barbara Walters Has Chicken Pox -- and Gets Teased About It on 'The View'

It turns out that Barbara Walters, who was hospitalized after a fall last week, as previously reported, has chicken pox.

“Not shingles, which comes from the same virus and is something one might more likely expect in a woman who's 83 years old,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “No, Babs has good old-fashioned chicken pox.”

Whoopi Goldberg talked about it on Monday’s “The View,” saying: "She'd never had it as a child. So now she's been told to rest, she's not allowed any visitors and, we're telling you, Barbara -- no scratching."

“Goldberg had previously talked on the show about Walters being in the hospital and running a low-grade fever after the correspondent fell and cut her head at a Jan. 19 inaugural event,” the Times reports. “Turns out the illness had nothing to do with pregnancy (Elisabeth Hasselbeck's lighthearted notion) or Grey Goose vodka (Joy Behar's bright idea).”

Behar joked on the show: "Barbara gets younger and younger every year. She's like Benjamin Button. Now she's going to a pediatrician at this age."

It was unknown when Walters would return to “The View.” Meanwhile, here’s what her co-hosts were saying about her:

more »

Web Series From 'Party Down' Star Headed to TV; Show's High-Profile Guests Include Jennifer Aniston, Kristen Bell

A Web series starring "Party Down" actor Ken Marino is heading to television, with a debut set on the E! channel, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

E! will debut the reality show parody, “Burning Love,” Feb. 25 at 10 p.m., with the third-season premiere of "After Lately" airing at 10:30 that night. "After Lately" is a behind-the-scenes show starring “Chelsea Lately” host Chelsea Handler, the piece adds.

"Burning Love" tracks Mark Orlando, played by Marino, as he stars in a reality dating show. Several well-known actresses make appearances, including Jennifer Aniston, Kristen Bell and Christine Taylor.

It's executive produced by Ben Stiller, Stuart Cornfield and Mike Rosenstein, as well as Abominable Pictures’ Jonathan Stern, Marino and Erica Oyama, who created the series.

more »

'Curb Your Enthusiasm' Actor Joins ABC Project

One of the stars of HBO’s "Curb Your Enthusiasm" has been cast in the ABC comedy pilot "How the Hell Am I Normal," about growing up in the 1980s with a crazy family, reports Deadline.com.

Jeff Garlin will play the father, a hot-tempered man who is under instructions from his doctor to stay cool after having a heart attack. On "Curb Your Enthusiasm," Garlin appears as Larry David's manager and best friend. The future of the HBO show is unclear, the piece notes.

jeff-garlin.jpg

Jeff Garlin

 

more »

Numbers Are Down for Starz' New Version of 'Spartacus'

The new "Spartacus" drama series on pay-cable channel Starz -- "Spartacus: War of the Damned" -- debuted down 12% from the premiere night of "Spartacus: Vengeance" a year earlier, reports B&C.

About 1.84 million total viewers tuned in to watch "War of the Damned" across three airings on Friday, Jan. 25. Its 9 p.m. debut averaged 930,000 total viewers, with 469,000 tuning in at 10 p.m. and 443,000 watching at 11 p.m., the piece adds.

“Through Jan. 27, the first episode of ‘Spartacus’' final season earned 2.5 million viewers, pacing just behind the 2.7 million views for ‘Vengeance’ during its premiere weekend,” B&C reports.

more »

NBC Will Keep the 'Fire' Burning: Drama Series Gains Momentum, Gets an Extra Episode

"Chicago Fire" has received some good news, with NBC ordering one extra episode, reports Deadline.com. That will bring its freshman season to 23 episodes, the story notes.

The Dick Wolf-produced drama series has been a late bloomer, with an October debut and a slow start in the ratings. It held onto its lead-in, though, and performed well enough to receive a back-nine order.

The show reached series highs earlier in January, the piece adds.

more »

Warner Bros. Names New CEO

In a move that appears to send a signal about the direction of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Time Warner Inc. has named its digital guru, Kevin Tsujihara, as the new chief executive of WBE, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes' selection of Tsujihara, currently president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, was something of a surprise,” the story reports. “Bewkes on Monday passed over two seasoned executives who have been responsible for the Burbank studio's marquee businesses: Bruce Rosenblum, who is in charge of television production, and Jeff Robinov, who is head of Warner Bros.’ prestigious movie studio.”

The three executives have been jockeying for the position for two-and-a-half years, the report notes, with Tsujihara’s low-key personality apparently figuring into the decision.

“Bewkes was impressed not only by Tsujihara's management style but how he handled himself in the tumultuous process, according to company insiders,” the story notes. “It is unclear whether Rosenblum, who is chairman of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, will remain at Warner Bros. beyond August.”

The article adds: “Career uncertainty also surrounds Robinov, a former talent agent who has spent years nurturing relationships with top Hollywood directors, including Chris Nolan (‘The Dark Knight’), Ben Affleck (‘Argo’) and Todd Phillips (‘The Hangover’). However, Robinov has had a better working relationship with Tsujihara than with Rosenblum. Robinov has several years remaining on his employment contract.”

Tsujihara will replace Warner Bros. Entertainment Chairman Barry Meyer, who made the selection along with Bewkes. Meyer, who retires at the end of this year, has run the movie and TV studio for the past 14 years.

“The fact that Tsujihara has been running digital distribution, home entertainment, video games and leading the studio's anti-piracy efforts strengthened his candidacy,” the story notes. “Hollywood has been rocked by a digital revolution that has upset the economic models that have long underpinned the industry. Tsujihara has been a strong proponent of ultra-violet technology and he championed the studio's acquisition of Flixster as well as making the studio's content available on a variety of platforms, including iTunes and Xbox.”

kevin-tsujihara.jpg

Kevin Tsujihara

more »

Sunday Prime Time: Numbers Dip for NFL Pro Bowl; CBS Series Sinks to All-Time Low

Numbers were down from last year for NBC’s broadcast Sunday of the NFL Pro Bowl, based on Nielsen overnights. Meanwhile, the CBS drama “The Good Wife” sank to an all-time low in the key 18-49 demo, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

The Pro Bowl earned a preliminary 3.3 average rating in viewers 18-49, down three-tenths of a point from last year’s preliminary 3.6. However, the piece notes that last year’s number was eventually adjusted upward to a 4.3.

On CBS, “The Good Wife” slipped to a 1.5 in the 18-49 demo, falling four-tenths of a point from its previous original episode. “The Mentalist” was also down, slipping three-tenths to a 1.8, and “60 Minutes” fell off substantially from its previous 3.3, settling for a 1.7.

Fox was mostly down, including “Family Guy” with a 2.8 in 18-49, down four-tenths from its previous original; “American Dad” with a 2.1, down three-tenths; “Bob’s Burgers” with a 2.0, down three-tenths; and “The Cleveland Show” with a 1.2, down one-tenth. “The Simpsons” held steady with a 2.4.

ABC aired two hours of repeat programming leading into the Hallmark movie “The Makeover,” which managed only a 1.1 average in viewers 18-49 -- down four-tenths from the 1.5 for last year’s Hallmark movie, “A Smile as Big as the Moon.”

The preliminary numbers for prime time overall show NBC with a comfortable lead in the 18-49 demo with a 3.3 average rating, ahead of Fox (1.9 average), CBS (1.5) and ABC (1.2). Total viewers was much tighter, with NBC’s 9.9 million edging out CBS’s 9.7 million, followed by ABC with 5.2 million and Fox with 3.9 million.

more »

One of the Kardashians Is Getting a Talk Show

One of the Kardashians is getting a talk show. Twentieth Television and the Fox Television Stations announced today that “Kris,” starring Kardashian matriarch Kris Jenner, will have a test run this summer on Fox-owned stations, including those in New York and Los Angeles, Deadline.com reports.

“The program, produced by Twentieth Television, is a pop culture-driven talk show filmed in Los Angeles.” the piece reports. “It will feature celebrity guests, fashion & beauty trends; plus a mix of lifestyle topics.”

Jenner, who will executive produce along with hosting, said: “This is something I have wanted to do all my life so it’s definitely a dream come true.”

Stephen Brown, executive VP of Development & Programming for Twentieth TV, added: “Whether offering real advice to her family or sharing personal moments with viewers, Kris is honest, compelling, entertaining, and unscripted -- all excellent qualities for a daytime talk show host.”

The report notes: “The six-week test run on the Fox stations has become increasingly popular as it has spawned two series to go to national syndication: ‘Wendy Williams’ and ‘Bethenny.’ The ‘Kris’ announcement follows Twentieth TV’s renewal earlier today of freshman syndie strip ‘Dish Nation.’ The company’s freshman talk show ‘Ricki Lake’ is unlikely to continue next season.”

 

more »

Why TNT's Frank Darabont Noir Series Will Have to Get a New Name

Producer/director/writer Frank Darabont ("Shawshank Redemption," "The Walking Dead") really wanted to call his upcoming TNT drama series "L.A. Noir," but the threat of a lawsuit appears to have prompted a name change, reports Deadline.com.

The series, which has a six-episode order, is based on the book "L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City" by John Buntin. However, in an interview with io9.com, Darabont revealed why the show will likely not be called "L.A. Noir."

According to the Darabont, Rockstar, the “company with the video game called L.A. Noire, threatened to sue the shit out of me, TNT, every company that actually ever worked in Hollywood.” Darabont added: “I do believe the title is going to be 'Lost Angels.'"

Describing the show, TNT’s head of programming Michael Wright said it's “a sweeping tale of the battle for the soul of the city that was waged between the forces of the LAPD and the West Coast mob.”

more »

ABC Greenlights James Caan Sitcom Project

James Caan, best known for hit movies including "The Godfather," "Misery" and "Elf" along with the NBC drama "Las Vegas," is ready to try his luck with a situation comedy, reports Deadline.com.

ABC has given the as-yet-untitled half-hour comedy pilot the thumbs up based on Caan's star power as well as the premise.

The pilot sets up the story of Terry Gannon, a single mom who walks out on her husband and moves home to live with her former ballplayer father (Caan). When mom is coerced to coach her son's "Bad News Bears"-like little league baseball team, she gets lured back to the world of competitive sports that she left behind, and grows closer to her father.

The pilot is being written and produced by Robb and Mark Cullen, who worked with Caan on "Las Vegas." The idea of the show fits into ABC's inter-generational comedy slate, led by "Modern Family."

Two titles are reportedly being kicked around for the sitcom during development: "Safe at Home" and "She's Got Balls."

more »

Fox Stations Renew Entertainment Program

Twentieth Television announced that it has received a renewal from the Fox Television Stations for its half-hour entertainment program “Dish Nation.”

The series will also return on Sinclair, Tribune, Cox, Meredith, Local TV and LIN stations, the company announced.

Making the announcement were Paul Franklin, EVP & General Manager of Broadcast Sales, Twentieth Television, and Frank Cicha, Senior Vice President, Programming, Fox Television Stations.

The company describes “Dish Nation” as “a daily program highlighting the nation’s funniest radio shows; riffing on what’s hot and happening that day in pop culture. A fresh, new format, ‘Dish Nation’ gives a comedic twist to the news that’s on everyone’s minds.”

In making the announcement, Franklin said: “We promised that ‘Dish Nation’ would be a hilarious and fresh alternative within the entertainment news genre. Based on the positive station response, social media buzz, and reinforced by continuous ratings growth -- ‘Dish Nation’ has delivered.”

The company added in its announcement: “In the most recent ratings period, ‘Dish Nation’ now tops all new first-run programs, including ‘Steve Harvey’ and ‘Katie Couric,’ ranking #1 among Adults 18-34 and is tied for #1 among Adults 18-49. Additionally, ‘Dish Nation,’ which is the youngest-skewing first-run program in ALL of syndication, has grown to 1.3 million viewers in January -- an +18% increase since its September premiere week.”

more »

Alleged Hoaxer of Manti Te'o to Appear on 'Dr. Phil'

The man who allegedly created the fictional girlfriend who caught Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o in a hoax will appear on the "Dr. Phil Show," reports the Associated Press.

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who is accused of creating an online persona for the fictional girlfriend, will appear on the show, although no airdate was announced.

The announcement follows last week's on-camera interview with Te'o on Katie Couric's talk show. Te'o said he fell for the fictional woman even though he never met her in person.

 

more »

Production of Fox Sitcom Shuts Down

Production on a Fox comedy series was shut down Friday, two days after the network pulled the show from its schedule, reports B&C.

The series is "Ben and Kate." When Fox pulled the program from its lineup, it said it would return the program at a later date, the piece notes.

As previously reported, the comedy was filming its 15th of 19 episodes ordered for the season when Fox said it would pull the show.

Even though it was critically praised, the show was Fox's worst performer in its Tuesday comedy block, B&C notes.

more »

Report: NBC Is Barring Ann Curry From Appearing Live

NBC is reportedly barring Ann Curry from appearing live on the television network, marginalizing the former "Today" co-host even more, reports the New York Post.

Curry was ousted from "Today" last summer and named as an NBC News national and international correspondent, as well as an anchor-at-large for "Today."

The reason for the move is presumably so NBC can edit her interviews, the story says. Curry keeps lining up live interviews, however, and that's causing friction between her and the network, according to the report.

As previously reported, in one live appearance last year, Curry had her first reunion with former co-host Matt Lauer, who gave her an enthusiastic greeting. Curry wasn't as effusive and replied with a curt, "Good morning, Matt," before jumping into a story.

A representative for the network called the report "nonsense."

more »

Fox News Severs Ties With Sarah Palin

Fox News has ended its relationship with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and it is reportedly unclear whose choice it was, according to The New York Times' Media Decoder.

The parting after three years was described as amicable, the piece adds. Palin, who will no longer have exposure to the network's millions of viewers, was last seen on the network in mid-December.

She was negotiating a new contract as of last week, with her original deal ending this month. Her original contract was reportedly worth $1 million a year, and Palin had a small TV studio constructed in her home in Wasilla, Alaska, the piece notes.

Tensions had arisen between Palin and Fox News, with Palin complaining on Facebook last year about the network's decision to cancel her appearances during the third day of the Republican National Convention, the story notes. She didn't post comments on her Facebook page about her parting from the network.

 

more »

'Downton Abbey,' 'Modern Family' Take Top TV Honors at SAG Awards -- Here's the Full List of Winners

The biggest surprise at the SAG Awards was the winner of best ensemble in a drama series, with British historical drama "Downton Abbey" taking the award, reports Deadline.com.

Five of the show's 22 cast members attended the ceremony, "and all appeared stunned," the story notes. It marked the first SAG Award for the show, which was competing against U.S. contenders such as "Homeland" and "Breaking Bad."

In other categories some previous omissions were corrected, including "Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston winning his first SAG Award. Claire Danes of "Homeland" won her first SAG Award, after the show was kept out of the nominations last year, the piece notes.

On the comedy side, Alec Baldwin won his seventh consecutive SAG Award, winning the award for every season of "30 Rock," which will air its finale Thursday. The show's creator, Tina Fey, also won, and urged viewers to watch the finale, which she noted airs against CBS's "The Big Bang Theory."

"Just tape 'The Big Bang Theory' for once, for crying out loud," Fey said.

Click here to see the press release from SAG-AFTRA, including the complete list of winners in motion picture and television categories.

Below are the winners in the television categories:

Actor in a movie or miniseries: Kevin Costner, "Hatfields & McCoys"

Actress in a movie or miniseries: Julianne Moore, "Game Change"

Actor in a drama series: Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad"

Actress in a drama series: Claire Danes, "Homeland"

Actor in a comedy series: Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"

Actress in a comedy series: Tina Fey, "30 Rock"

Drama series cast: "Downton Abbey"

Comedy series cast: "Modern Family"

Stunt ensemble: "Game of Thrones"

more »

After Taking Heat for Pulling Plug on CNET's Award for Dish, CBS Steps In Again, Targets Another Product

Despite being accused of censorship for preventing the tech website CNET from honoring Dish Network’s ad-skipping DVR, CBS continues to take an active role in controlling the site’s editorial decisions.

TheVerge.com reports that CBS has banned CNET from reviewing the online TV streaming service Aereo and its products, because of CBS's lawsuit against Aereo.

The ban isn't a surprise, given the move earlier this month in which CBS barred CNET from giving an award to Dish's Hopper with Sling DVR product, the story notes.

As previously reported, CBS was accused of censorship after it stepped in at the last minute to prevent CNET from giving its Best of CES (Consumer Electronics Show) Award to the Hopper device. CBS said the reason was its active litigation over the Hopper, which facilitates the skipping of commercials in the programs viewers record.

"CNET and its staff have been put in an extraordinarily difficult position by CBS," TheVerge.com writes. "They have to prove that what remains of their editorial independence is full and robust."

The article continues: "They have to cover news controversies involving their publication and its parent company; these controversies necessarily involve some evaluation of the value of products and competing legal claims. … It's not clear if anyone knows how or whether this can be done."

The piece notes that the latest move has its origins in the Dish situation. TheVerge writes: “If CBS's motivation began with keeping Dish's DVR off its subsidiary's stage, it still had to come up with a policy to justify that. That policy, invented and enforced largely on the spot, barred CNET from reviewing any product or service directly implicated in a CBS lawsuit, but permitted news coverage of the same. As we predicted, this tenuous distinction betwen news and reviews doesn't simply apply to Dish and its Hopper, but also to Aereo. This is the first time we're seeing that broader policy applied to another company.”

 

more »

L.A. Dodgers Roll Out Regional Sports Network

The Los Angeles Dodgers today are rolling out plans for their own regional sports network. B&C reports that the baseball team is partnering with Time Warner Cable in the venture, with TWC to serve as exclusive affiliate agent along with handling ad sales and tech support.

The new network, SportsNet LA, will be the home of the Dodgers starting with the 2014 Major League Baseball season, the piece notes.

The venture is being overseen by American Media Productions, LLC, which was formed last month by Guggenheim Partners, the group that bought the Dodgers in 2012 for $2.15 billion.

“For its part, Time Warner Cable has reached a long-term deal to become SportsNet LA's charter distributor, carrying the service throughout Southern California and Hawaii,” the report notes. “Moreover, in return for agreeing to make payments over the life of the deal, the nation's No. 2 cable operator will serve as the exclusive advertising and affiliate sales agent for the RSN and will have certain branding and programming rights. TWC will also provide certain non-game production and technical services to AMP.”

Other terms of the deal, which is subject to some closing conditions, were not disclosed, but “published reports place the value of the deal, spanning some 20 to 25 years, at between $7 billion to $8 billion,” the report adds. “That would make it the most lucrative local TV deal in history. TWC, which has some 2 million homes in Dodgers territory, will reportedly pick up the network's monthly subscriber fee if other distributors don't carry the service, which could carry a license north of $4 per month.”

more »

Syfy, NBCUniversal Hit With Lawsuit

Syfy and parent NBCUniversal have been sued by a production company that alleges the network stole its idea for a makeup competition show, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq.

The Syfy series, "Face Off," premiered its fourth season on the cable channel Jan. 15.

Results Group, formerly known as Studio City, claims that in May 2009 it pitched Syfy a makeup competition hosted by an actress, with a $100,000 prize. It allegedly was told that the network had decided not to pursue a show based on the idea.

After learning of Syfy’s “Face Off” project, Results asked for evidence the show wasn't copied from its pitch. The network provided documents that said "Face Off" had been in planning from before the meeting with Results.

"When the show debuted on SyFy in January 2011, the Results executives felt what they saw was very much like what they pitched. In the first episode, contestants had to make up models to look like either a beetle, an ostrich or an elephant. The suit says that conceit was substantially similar to the show that was pitched," the story notes.

The lawsuit seeks damages for the lost credit and producing fees, the cost of the lawsuit and punitive damages, as well as any money made from the program. A Syfy representative called the case "without merit." 

more »

ABC Orders Two Pilots, Including Drama Project From Sofia Vergara

ABC has given a pilot order to a project from Sofia Vergara, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed. The project, “Killer Women,” is an adaptation of an Argentine series, and is described as a soapy procedural that focuses on a female Texas Ranger.

Vergara is attached to executive produce along with her Latin World Entertainment partner Luis Balaguer. Hannah Shakespeare, who will write the script for the pilot, will also executive produce, as will feature film director Martin Campbell and Ben Silverman.

The network also gave a pilot order to a drama from "Awake" creator Kyle Killen. Called "Influence," the project is set at a workplace led by two brothers. They run an agency that uses the science of human motivation and manipulation to solve problems, the story says.

The two projects bring ABC's total number of drama pilot orders for the current cycle to seven. The announcements follow news of a pilot order for "Doubt," from "House" creator David Shore, as reported separately.

more »

Emmy-Winning Set Decorator Leslie Frankenheimer Dead at 64

Leslie Frankenheimer, an Emmy winner as a set decorator and the wife of prominent entertainment attorney John Frankenheimer, has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She was 64.

Frankenheimer shared Emmys for her design work on TV shows including ABC's "Max Headroom" and HBO's "Carnivale." She died Jan. 22 after a long battle with leukemia, the piece adds.

Most recently she worked on the Fox comedy "Ben and Kate," which was pulled this month from the network's schedule. Her other work included the shows "The Closer" and "Kitchen Confidential."

In a 2007 interview with the Set Designers Society of America, she explained how she developed her interest in set design. Her grandfather, Neil S. McCarthy, was an entertainment attorney, and as a girl she would sometimes be taken to Paramount.

"The sets were magnificent -- everything in place and so character driven. I remember how fascinating it was to see these rich rooms held up by unfinished wood and 2x4s! I was very young, but I knew these people were creating magic, and I wanted to be a part of it," she said, according to the story.

leslie-frankenheimer.jpg

Leslie Frankenheimer

 

more »

CW Orders Post-Apocalyptic Sci-Fi Thriller, Two Other Pilots

A post-apocalyptic science-fiction thriller that has invited comparisons not only to "Lord of the Flies" but also to “The Hunger Games” has received a pilot order from the CW, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The project, "The Hundred," is about a spaceship holding the last of humanity -- 100 juvenile delinquents -- who are sent back to Earth to investigate recolonizing the planet, the story says.

It's based on the upcoming young adult book series "The Hundred," written by Kass Morgan.

The CW is moving further into high-concept material, the piece notes. The network also ordered pilots for “Oxygen,” focusing on a romance between a human girl and an alien boy at a suburban high school, and “Reign,” about Mary Queen of Scots’ teenage years in France.

more »

ABC Gives Pilot Order to 'House' Creator

ABC has given a pilot order to a project from "House" creator David Shore, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Shore will write and executive produce the project, "Doubt," which is about an ex-cop who becomes an attorney. He tries to help his clients while also reviving his relationship with his former wife, the story says.

"Doubt" marked ABC's fifth drama pilot order this season. The news was followed by two additional drama pilot orders for ABC late last week, bringing the total to seven, as reported separately.

more »

Tina Fey Developing Musical Based on Lindsay Lohan Movie -- and She Would Love to Get an 'Idol' Diva Involved

“30 Rock” creator and star Tina Fey has a musical in the works based on a Lindsay Lohan feature film, E! News reports. The project is based on the 2004 teen comedy “Mean Girls.”

Fey talked about the project at the SAG Awards, where Fey won the award for best actress in a comedy series for the NBC sitcom, as reported separately.

Said Fey: "I'm trying to develop it with my husband, who does all the music for ‘30 Rock,’ and I think Paramount's on board."

Fey may have Mariah Carey in mind for a part in the production, the story says. Carey’s name came up in the context of her “American Idol” clash with Nicki Minaj, which the story reports focused on “Mean Girls.”

Fey reportedly said of the diva battle: "I loved it! And I think Mariah won. Like, Mariah seemed to really know all the characters."

The report adds: “During the spat, Ms. Carey was adamant that she was no Regina George and Tina agrees: ‘Maybe she can play Amy Poehler's part in the musical.’"

more »

'Idol' Slips Again -- But Still Easily Beats the Competition

Fox’s “American Idol” continues to slip in the ratings, based on Thursday’s Nielsen overnights. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “Idol” delivered a 5.6 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, down 6% from a week ago. It was still easily the top show of the night, and Fox coasted to a big win for prime time overall.

Leading out from "Idol" on Fox, “Glee” returned with its first original episode since Dec. 13, surging 35% to a 2.7 average in 18-49.

The second-highest-rated show on the broadcast networks was a “Big Bang Theory” rerun on CBS, which delivered a 3.1 in viewers 18-49. CBS tied for second overall even while airing an all-repeat lineup.

ABC opened the night with the series finale of “Last Resort,” which “surged” 20% from last week to a still modest 1.2 rating in the 18-49 demo. “Grey’s Anatomy” led the network’s numbers with a 3.0, steady with a week ago.

NBC saw a now-typical soft turnout for its Thursday night lineup: a 1.4 average rating for “30 Rock” in viewers 18-49 (up 8% from last week); a 1.7 for “Parks and Recreation” (down 11%); a 2.0 for “The Office” (down 5%); a 1.3 for “1600 Penn” (up 8%); and a 0.8 for “Rock Center” (down 27%, tying the show’s season low).

For prime time overall, Fox led the way with a 3.9 average in 18-49, followed by ABC and CBS (both with 2.0 averages), Univision (1.6) and NBC (1.3). Total viewers was closer, with Fox on top with 11.2 million, followed by CBS with 9.3 million, ABC with 6.7 million, Univision with 4.0 million and NBC with 3.8 million.

more »

Burt Reynolds Hospitalized

Acting legend Burt Reynolds was being treated in the intensive care unit of a Florida hospital today, TMZ.com reports. The 76-year-old actor reportedly came down with a bad case of the flu.

Doctors were optimistic that Reynolds would make a full recovery, the story reports.

“According to Burt's rep ... Burt, like everyone else in the country, caught that nasty flu bug that's been going around ... and was coping with the symptoms for several days,” the piece reports. “But the symptoms got worse, and Burt was admitted to the hospital. The rep tells us Burt was moved to the ICU earlier today after doctors determined he was ‘severely dehydrated.’"

burt-reynolds2.jpgBurt Reynolds

more »

Who's the Funniest Person in Show Biz -- and What's His Real Name? Here's Rolling Stone's Top 10 List

Rolling Stone magazine has released a list of the funniest people currently working in show business. Topping the list -- which is based on the performers’ recent work -- is the star of FX's "Louie," stand-up comic Louis C.K. (real name Louis Szekely).

The Emmy-winning star beat Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," for the top spot. Tina Fey, creator and star of NBC's "30 Rock," is the highest-ranking woman on the list at No. 3, followed by "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart.

The Rolling Stone list ranks the top 50. Here’s the top 10:

1. Louis C.K.
2. Stephen Colbert
3. Tina Fey
4. Jon Stewart
5. Trey Parker and Matt Stone
6. Amy Poehler
7. Chris Rock
8. Lena Dunham
9. Bill Hader
10. Kristen Wiig

more »

'60 Minutes' Scores a Double 'Get'

CBS’s “60 Minutes” pulled off something of a political coup, scoring a high-profile double “get” for this Sunday’s installment of the show.

TheWrap.com reports that President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will give their first-ever joint interview. According to "60 Minutes" spokesman Kevin Tedesco, this is the first time the president has shared interview time with anyone other than his wife, first lady Michelle Obama.

President Obama and Secretary Clinton were scheduled to record the interview this afternoon.

Sunday’s show is set to air at 7 p.m. ET.

more »

'Katie' Enjoying a Manti Te'o Ratings Bump

The numbers are in for Katie Couric's interview with Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o on the syndicated "Katie," and it's a touchdown for the talk show host, reports TheWrap.com.

The episode, which aired Thursday, scored a 2.6/7 metered-market household rating -- the highest rating for the show since its Sept. 10 debut. A more typical "Katie" hour is the one that ran Wednesday, which had a 1.9/5.

Te’o talked about the hoax involving a “girlfriend” who never existed, explaining why he perpetuated the hoax after learning the truth.

The Manti Te'o episode was up 30% over the show’s previous four-week average, and had “Katie” on top in its time slot in major markets New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia.

more »

Hit Reality Series Gets Seventh Season on truTV

truTV has renewed its flagship reality show for a seventh season. Deadline.com reports that the cable network signed on for more "Hardcore Pawn."

The series focuses on the family-owned pawn shop American Jewelry and Loan in Detroit. Its premiere in August 2010 delivered a record audience of 2 million viewers to truTV.

The show has spawned two spinoffs: “Combat Pawn,” based at a gun shop near Fort Bragg in North Carolina, and “Hardcore Pawn: Chicago.”

In its current sixth season, "Hardcore Pawn" has averaged 2.6 million viewers, up 11% from season five.

more »

Lawsuit in the Works Against 'American Idol' Accuses Show of Racism -- Attorney Outlines How the Alleged 'Scheme' Has Operated

Nine former contestants on "American Idol" are preparing a lawsuit against the show, claiming they were bumped off as part of a racist and illegal plot to improve ratings, reports TMZ.com.

The contestants, who are black, are from different seasons of the Fox singing competition. An attorney for the group, James H. Freeman, has written to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to ask for permission to sue the show and Fox, the story says.

Freeman wrote that he investigated the show and found that producers had publicly disqualified 10 people from the show -- all of them black.

He believes the "scheme" started with a background check, when contestants are asked whether they've ever been arrested, which Freeman contends is in violation of California employment law. He asserts that his clients were in essence applying for employment with the program, and that would ban the program from asking about arrest histories, the piece says.

The information about arrest records was allegedly used to humiliate the black contestants and perpetuate "destructive stereotypes," Freeman contends. He also alleges that the show has never publicly disqualified a white or non-black "Idol" contestant.

"Idol" executive producer Nigel Lythgoe said the allegations were "ridiculous" and added, "We treat everybody the same ... no matter the race, religion or sex."

The contestants are: Corey Clark (Season 2), Jaered Andrews (Season 2), Donnie Williams (Season 3), Terrell Brittenum (Season 5), Derrell Brittenum (Season 5), Thomas Daniels (Season 6), Akron Watson (Season 6), Ju'Not Joyner (Season 8) and Chris Golightly (Season 9).

more »

'America's Next Top Model' Winner's Face Injured in Freak Accident

A past winner of CW's "America's Next Top Model" was injured in a freak accident that damaged her face, reports People.com. Lisa D'Amato, 32, said she was doing a handstand next to a crew member of an indie movie called "Cowboys and Indians" when they fell, crushing her nose.

The crew member reportedly fell on top of D’Amato, causing additional scrapes to her face.

A plastic surgeon had to work on her nose, the story says. She also had lacerations on her forehead, lips and chin.

D’Amato joked about the incident, saying: "I didn't have the best nose in the world to begin with. It gave me character. Now I have a nice little nose job. I get a super cute nose."

D'Amato, who won the all-star cycle of “Top Model” in 2011, posted graphic photos of her injuries online.

lisa-damato-injuries.jpgLisa D’Amato’s injuries

more »

Tom Hanks, Ken Burns Join Forces for HBO Miniseries About Legendary Boxing Champ

One of the legends of boxing is the subject of a high-profile project at HBO that brings together industry heavyweights including Tom Hanks and Ken Burns. The miniseries about the life of Jack Johnson, the first African-American world heavyweight champion, will be written by “Ides of March” screenwriter Beau Willimon, Deadline.com reports.

Both Hanks and his Playtone partner Gary Goetzman are on board as executive producers on “Jack Johnson,” with documentarian Burns set to direct and executive produce and Willimon to co-executive produce, the piece reports.

“To be told in four to six parts, the mini is based on the Geoffrey C. Ward book ‘Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise And Fall Of Jack Johnson,’ which Burns previously adapted into the Emmy-winning PBS documentary of the same name,” the piece reports.

The story adds: “In the early 20th century, Johnson was the class of the heavyweight division, a proud man of color who paid a high price for it. The main problem: he twice married white women and did not hide it or the fact that he liked to live well. He surprised both whites and blacks when he was given a title shot by Canadian fighter Tommy Burns and beat him. He further shook up the white status quo by knocking out ex-champ James J. Jeffries, who’d refused to fight Johnson while he held the belt but came out of retirement to be touted by the press and racist whites as the ‘Great White Hope.’”

Following Johnson’s win over Jeffries, race riots broke out across the U.S., resulting in more than 20 deaths, the report notes.

Johnson was previously portrayed by James Earl Jones in the Broadway production and feature film “The Great White Hope.”

more »

Director Named for Next 'Star Wars' Movie

A director has been chosen for the long-awaited seventh installment of the “Star Wars” film series -- the first movie in what is expected to be the final trilogy, TheWrap.com reports.

Disney, which recently purchased the “Star Wars” franchise from Lucasfilm, has handed over the keys to J.J. Abrams -- who has already rebooted another high-profile science-fiction franchise, directing the 2009 version of “Star Trek.”

Abrams is also known for his work in television, being behind “Lost,” “Fringe,” “Revolution,” “Person of Interest,” “Alias” and other series. His feature work includes entries in the “Mission: Impossible” series, and he’s helming “Star Trek Into Darkness” for 2013 release.

The story reports that "Argo" director Ben Affleck was also among the contenders for the new “Star Wars” movie before Disney decided on Abrams.

Abrams said in an interview in November that he did not want the “Star Wars” job, but he apparently has been talked into it. The movie is scheduled for release in 2015.

more »

Daytime Talk Show Gets Second Season

Another freshman daytime talk show will be back for a second season. Deadline.com reports that NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution’s “Trisha Goddard” was picked up for season two in national syndication, joining NBCU freshman “Steve Harvey.”

“Unlike ‘Steve Harvey,’ which has been a breakout hit, ‘Trisha Goddard’ has been the lowest-rated among the new syndicated talk shows this season, partly because the show started in far less-trafficked time slots,” the story reports. “Since its debut, the one-hour talk show has been upgraded in major markets including Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit, Phoenix, Las Vegas and more.”

“Trisha” has seen its numbers improve since its premiere, posting a 23% increase in viewership during the November sweeps over its premiere week.

“The conflict talk show, executive produced by Paul Faulhaber and hosted by TV personality Trisha Goddard, has been renewed in more than 85% of the country,” the report notes.

The show joins “Steve Harvey” and “Katie” as the only new talk shows to date to be firmed up for second seasons.

more »

Brooke Shields Joins Drama Series

Actress Brooke Shields, known for movies including “Pretty Baby” and “The Blue Lagoon” and for TV series such as “Suddenly Susan” and “That ‘70s Show,” is returning to series work. Deadline.com reports that Shields has been cast in a recurring role on Lifetime's drama "Army Wives."

Shields will play Air Force Col. Katherine "Kat" Young, a top C-17 pilot who is given a new assignment at Joint Base Marshall Bring, the story says. She's described as brash and clashes with Army Gen. Michael Holden, played by Brian McNamara.

The casting comes as the show is revamped for its seventh season, which will debut March 10. The show is adding three actresses as new regulars -- Ashanti, Torrey DeVitto and Elle McLemore -- and original cast member Kim Delaney is leaving, the report notes.

brooke-shields.jpgBrooke Shields

more »

CNN's Sanjay Gupta Takes Leave From Livestrong Non-Profit

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who serves on the board of directors of the Livestrong non-profit founded by disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, said he has taken a leave from the organization, reports TVNewser.com.

Gupta spoke about the issue for the first time since Armstrong's doping admission in an interview with "Access Hollywood," the story notes. He said the Livestrong board met after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released its findings, but Gupta later decided to take a leave "because of the conflict of interest with CNN and the other news organizations investigating.”

Gupta said, “I was part of the same group that thought the organization was different than Lance -- it was always supposed to be, you know. I hope any organization lives and perseveres longer than the man."

more »

No Hard Feelings: G.E. -- After Being Targeted by '30 Rock' for Years -- Runs Ads Saluting the Show

NBC's "30 Rock" has poked fun at General Electric for seven seasons, mocking everything from its microwave division to its Six Sigma management focus. But now the conglomerate is taking out a TV ad that salutes the show as it wraps up its run, reports Brian Steinberg in Advertising Age.

"G.E., G.E. employees and G.E. executives have laughed for the last seven years along with the rest of the audience," Linda Boff, G.E.'s global director of brand management, told the publication.

G.E. will air a television ad that salutes the show, and then put together its favorite moments in a segment that will air online at the "30 Rock" website through the end of February. The show will end its run on NBC Jan. 31.

"The move isn't the normal one," Steinberg writes. "Advertisers typically shy away from programming that makes fun of them or their products."

Steinberg points out that G.E. is obligated to spend money on NBCUniversal because of its sales agreement with Comcast, which bought a controlling stake in the media company. G.E. is contracted to buy at least $59 million worth of advertising each year for five years, starting in 2012, the piece adds.

more »

Al Gore Hits the Talk Show Circuit After Selling Cable Channel to Al Jazeera

Al Gore will sit down for his first television interviews since selling his cable network Current TV to Al Jazeera, reports the New York Post.

Gore will appear Tuesday on NBC’s "Today" show and CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman.” The following day, he will appear on Comedy Central’s "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

He's promoting a new book called "The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change," which the story says "trashes TV news." Staffers at Current TV were reportedly upset that Gore sold the network, and also that he didn't appear before his employees to talk about the sale, the story says.

“Al Jazeera, which is owned by the government of oil-rich Qatar and is widely regarded as anti-American, bought Current last month for a reported $500 million,” the story reports. “Gore has so far refused to publicly defend the sale -- which, according to some reports, left him richer than GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney -- to a new owner that made its money selling fossil fuels.”

more »

'Castle' Stuntman Improving After Serious Injuries

The stuntman who was injured last week during taping of ABC's "Castle" is still in the hospital but is improving, reports Deadline.com.

The stuntman is Kieran Gallagher, who was Ed Helms' stunt double in two "Hangover" films, the story says. He has been removed from a ventilator and is showing signs of recovery, the piece reports.

Gallagher has worked on a number of television series, including “CSI” and “Raising Hope.”

As we reported previously, actress Karen David was also injured in the accident, in which they fell out of a van.

more »

As 'The Office' Nears End, NBC Orders Another Workplace Comedy From Greg Daniels

NBC has ordered to pilot another workplace comedy from Greg Daniels, whose show "The Office" is wrapping up nine seasons on the network, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The untitled project stars "The Office" actor Craig Robinson as a musician who is adapting to his job as a middle school music teacher, the story says. Owen Ellickson, a supervising producer on "The Office," will write and executive produce the pilot for Universal TV, Daniels' Deedle Dee Productions and 3 Arts Entertainment.

more »

FX Gives Pilot Order to Filmmaker Andrew Gurland

FX has given a comedy pilot order to filmmaker Andrew Gurland, who directed the movie "The Virginity Hit," reports Deadline.com.

The project is about a married man whose wife gives him permission to get a mistress with the goal of saving their marriage, the story says. Gurland wrote the script and will direct, as well as executive produce with Paul Young and Peter Principato.

more »

How's This Working For You? Veteran Syndie Talker-Healer, Celebrating 10 Years On-Air, Gets Renewed Through the 2016-2017 Season

A syndicated talk show veteran, who is celebrating his 10th year on-air this year, has had his show renewed through the 2016- 2017 season, Variety reports.

The show is CBS Television Distribution's "Dr. Phil," starring Phil McGraw. The show debuted in 2002.

Says the story, "This three-year extension takes 'Dr. Phil' through its 15th season. CBS said Thursday it has wrapped deals with stations covering 77% of U.S. TV households."

The article adds in Variety-speak, "At present, 'Dr. Phil' is averaging 4.2 million viewers a week and is the No. 1 yakker in daytime."

more »

'Zombieland,' the 2009 Hit Movie That Critics and the Public Both Praised as Cool and Fun, Is Being Developed For TV. Zombieishly, the Story Only Got Made After It Was Originally Rejected as a TV Script

"Zombieland," the hit 2009 movie that had originally been conceived as a TV pilot script but had no takers, is finally heading back to TV.

" 'Zombieland' is being developed as an original series by Amazon.com, according to [the paid subscription-only U.K. publication] Broadcast Now," reports Lucy O'Brien at IGN.

In the past various networks have been associated with a TV "Zombieland" project, but this time it seems like Amazon has the ball in its court.

The IGN story adds, "io9.com recently obtained some casting sheets from the [proposed] show, which called for the return of the movie's four major characters -- Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita, and Little Rock -- plus two newcomers, Fred and Ainsely. The latter pair are described as 'two office workers at the start of the zombie apocalypse, obliviously complaining about problems with their iPhones and getting the wrong order at Starbucks.' "

more »

Plenty of Ratings Pain to Go Around: 'American Idol' Slips, Key ABC Series Hits Season Low and NBC Winds Up in Sixth Place

Fox’s “American Idol” slipped in the ratings from its premiere, based on Nielsen overnights for Wednesday night, while ABC’s “Modern Family” fell to a season low, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

“Idol” settled for a 5.4 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, down 10% from the premiere a week ago. Fox still easily won the night.

ABC saw “Modern Family” tumble 5% to a season-low 4.1 in viewers 18-49 -- still good enough to rank No. 2 for the night behind “Idol.” ABC’s “The Middle” was up 9% from a week ago to a 5.4 and “The Neighbors” rose 6% to a 1.9, while “Suburgatory” held steady with a 2.3 and “Nashville” drooped 18% to a 1.8.

CBS’s “CSI” rolled to a season high, climbing 17% from last week to a 2.7 average in 18-49. “Criminal Minds” was up 3% to a 3.0. CBS aired a repeat of “Criminal Minds” in the 8 p.m. hour, settling for a 1.5.

NBC aired an all-repeat lineup and found itself in sixth place for the night, behind both Univision and CW.

Fox’s 5.4 average rating for prime time led the way in the 18-49 demo, followed by ABC (2.4), CBS (2.4), Univision (1.6), CW (1.0) and NBC (0.8). Fox also led in total viewers with an average of 16.0 million to CBS’s 10.0 million, ABC’s 7.1 million, Univision’s 3.8 million, CW’s 2.6 million and NBC’s 2.6 million.

more »

Fox Picks Up Two Comedy Pilots

Fox is moving forward with two more single-camera comedy pilots, Deadline.com reports. Coming from “Cougar Town” co-creator Kevin Biegel is “Enlisted,” while “Two Wrongs” comes from feature writer Michelle Morgan.

Both projects are from 20th TV, the piece notes.

“’Enlisted,’ which originally landed at Fox with penalty, is based on Biegel’s relationship with his siblings and follows three very different brothers working together in the Army at a small base in Florida,” the piece reports. “Biegel is writing/executive producing the project with Mike Royce (‘Men of a Certain Age,’ ‘1600 Penn’), stemming from a blind script deal 20th TV had with Biegel. Biegel co-created ‘Cougar Town’ with Bill Lawrence.”

The report adds: “’Two Wrongs,’ co-produced by Chernin Entertainment, is a relationship comedy about a couple whose friends and family don’t think they are right for each other. Morgan is writing the script and executive producing with Peter Chernin, Katherine Pope and Aaron Kaplan & Sean Perrone of Kaplan Perrone Entertainment.”

more »

Lena Dunham Tips Her Hand About the Fate of HBO's 'Girls'

HBO had yet to reveal its plans for the Golden Globe-winning comedy series “Girls” when the show’s creator and star, Lena Dunham, let the cat out of the bag. Deadline.com reports that Dunham let it slip that the show is being renewed for a third season.

Dunham reportedly told Alec Baldwin on his podcast: “We’re starting season three at the end of March. I’m so excited.”

Nellie Andreeva writes in the Deadline piece: “HBO has been preparing for a third season of ‘Girls’ for a couple of months. I hear it closed a new overall deal with executive producer Jenni Konner to return as co-showrunner alongside creator/star/executive producer Dunham and has been assembling a writing team, with Paul Simms expected to replace Bruce Eric Kaplan as co-executive producer as Kaplan is busy working on his HBO pilot.”

more »

Veteran ESPN Reporter Moves to CNN

CNN has tapped into the ESPN talent pool to find an anchor for its new weekend sports program. The cable news channel announced that it has hired veteran ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols to anchor the show along with reporting for CNN and Turner Sports across TV and digital platforms.

Jeff Zucker, president, CNN Worldwide, and David Levy, president, Sales, Distribution & Sports, Turner Broadcasting System Inc., made the announcement today.

“Nichols will serve as a sports reporter for CNN and Turner Sports and will anchor a new weekend sports program on CNN/U.S. beginning later this year,” the company said in its announcement. “Her CNN program will focus on the most interesting stories and personalities in the world of sports. In her role with Turner Sports, Nichols will handle a wide variety of assignments across the division’s vast sports properties including the NBA and Major League Baseball. Additionally, Nichols will cover all major sporting events, including the Olympics for CNN. Her first assignment will be the Super Bowl in New Orleans.”

Said Zucker: “We're just thrilled that a sports journalist of Rachel's stature and expertise will now be a regular part of the CNN lineup. Her arrival, beginning next week, is an important step in expanding the range of programming and storytelling on CNN."

rachel-nichols-cnn.pngRachel Nichols

more »

Two of Our Greatest, Most Popular Actors -- Professor Xavier and Magneto -- Together Again, This Time on Broadway

Two of our greatest, most popular actors -- perhaps best known for playing Professor Xavier and Magneto in the 'X-Men" movies -- are coming to Broadway.

Patrick Stewart (Professor Xavier) and Sir Ian McKellen (Magneto) "will star in Harold Pinter's 'No Man's Land' and Samuel Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot' in repertoire under the direction of Sean Mathias, producers announced Thursday [Jan. 24, 2013]," reports CBS News.

According to the story, "The theatre, performance dates, two supporting actors and schedule will be announced at a later date." The piece adds: "The two will sink their teeth into Beckett and Pinter after spending the summer filming 'X-Men: Days of Future Past.' "

The article adds: "Stewart and McKellen [previously] starred in a production of 'Waiting for Godot' in London's West End in 2009. Prior to Broadway, they'll tackle 'No Man's Land' in an as-yet-unspecified out-of-town tryout this summer."

more »

'My Name Is Earl' Cast Reunion on Tap

A reunion of a number of cast members from the NBC comedy “My Name Is Earl” is set to take place next month on another series and another network. TVLine.com reports that the event is scheduled for the Feb. 26 episode of Fox’s “Raising Hope.”

Both shows are created by Greg Garcia, the piece notes. The event will feature all of the main cast members from “Earl,” with Jason Lee, Jaime Pressly, Ethan Suplee, Eddie Steeples, Nadine Velazquez and Abdoulaye N’Gom all set to take part.

For some of the actors, the “Earl”-focused episode -- titled “Making the Band” -- is a return to “Hope.” Lee “will reprise his role as faded rock star Smokey Floyd, and Jaime Pressly and Ethan Suplee will play Burt and Virginia’s neighbors Donna and Andrew. (Yep — Lee’s going to sing.)” the piece reports.

Velazquez will appear as an employee of a party-supply store, and N’Gom will play an airline pilot.

my-name-is-earl.jpg

more »

Hillary Clinton Disses the Sunday Newsmaker Shows

In the midst of her congressional testimony Wednesday on the handling of the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton let it be known that she's not a big fan of Sunday morning newsmaker programs such as CBS's "Face the Nation," ABC's "This Week" and NBC's "Meet the Press," reports Deadline.com.

Clinton, who will soon step down from her Cabinet role, was asked why she didn't appear on the Sunday shows after the Libyan incident, instead allowing U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to go on the shows and deal with media questions.

Clinton responded, “I have to confess, here in public, going on the Sunday shows is not my favorite thing to do. There are other things I’d prefer to do on Sunday mornings. And, you know, I haven’t been on a Sunday show in way over a year. It just isn’t something that I normally jump to do. And I did feel strongly that we had a lot that we had to manage, that I had to respond to, and that that should be my priority.”

hillary-clinton-congressional.jpgHillary Clinton

more »

Nicki Minaj Storms Off Set of 'Idol'

"American Idol" judge Nicki Minaj stormed off the set Wednesday, with the strained relationship between Minaj and fellow judge Mariah Carey worsening, People.com reports.

Production had to shut down for a while, the story says. The disagreement was over the judges' different styles of critique, which bubbled to the surface in Charlotte, N.C., after a performance by 20-year-old competitor Summer Cunningham, the story says.

"Why are we picking her apart?" Minaj asked Carey, who had questioned whether Cunningham's voice was suited for country music, the story says.

"Really? Is that what I did?" Carey said. "We're trying to help her as opposed to just talk about her outfit."

"Oh, you're right. I'm sorry I can't help her. Maybe I should just get off the [BLEEP] panel," Minaj said. She then walked off the panel.

Carey reportedly commented on Minaj’s sudden exit: "I was going to do that the next time she ragged on me."

The story adds: “Even without the histrionics, Minaj proved to be the most entertaining of the judges. Between her ongoing habit of assigning nicknames to all the contestants -- she dubbed singers everything from ‘collard greens’ to ‘Jumanji’ -- Minaj also managed to ask hilariously bizarre questions (‘Have you ever lived in Tokyo?’) and put new and sometimes creepy twists on her positive critiques. ‘I want to skin you and wear you,’ she told one girl she was particularly fond of.”

more »

Amazon, Wooing Comedy Stars to Beef Up First Round of Pilots, Lands 'Cheers' Veteran

Pushing to create its own lineup of original scripted shows, Amazon.com has cast a veteran of the long-running NBC hit “Cheers” -- Emmy winner Bebe Neuwirth -- to star in the comedy pilot "Browsers," reports Deadline.com.

Amazon is reaching out to well-known comedy names, and has approached former "Roseanne" star John Goodman and "Frasier" alum David Hyde Pierce, the story notes.

Neuwirth, who played Lilith on both "Cheers" and "Frasier," will be part of a musical comedy set in a Manhattan office, where young people are starting work at a news website, the story says.

bebe-neuwirth.jpgBebe Neuwirth

more »

CBS Ramps Up Pressure on Dish Network, Accuses Dish of Concealing Ad-Skipping Technology

CBS ratcheted up its legal battle with Dish Network, amending its lawsuit against the satellite TV provider Wednesday with a claim that Dish misled the network during contract talks in 2011, CNET reports.

CBS says Dish “deliberately failed to disclose” its ad-skipping technology during the negotiations, according to the piece.

“The lawsuit is part of a legal battle between Dish and the major television networks that erupted last year over ‘AutoHop,’ which allows customers to skip commercials at the touch of a button,” the story reports. “The networks, including CBS, which is the parent company of CNET News, contend that the technology threatens to undermine an industry that depends on advertising revenue to help cover the cost of their shows.”

The piece adds: “In its amended lawsuit, CBS accused Dish of fraudulently concealing material facts related to the feature during negotiations of their Retransmission Agreement. ‘Dish deliberately or with reckless disregard failed to disclose’ details of the planned service feature, CBS said in its 101-page filing.”

The CBS filing adds: "Had Dish disclosed to CBS during the negotiations the material facts that it had developed AutoHop and intended to provide its subscribers with AutoHop, CBS would not have entered into the Retransmission Agreement on the terms set forth in the current agreement.”

The report notes that Dish CEO Joe Clayton said earlier this month that the company has 2 million Dish Hoppers in the marketplace.

At the time, Clayton said: "Dish is partners with the broadcasters and we want good relations, but at same time we want to provide what is best for consumers, and I believe there will be a meeting of the minds at the appropriate time."

CNET notes: “The networks filed lawsuits last May that sought to stop Dish from transmitting their programs in such a way that allows viewers to watch them without commercial interruptions, alleging copyright infringement and breach of contract.”

The report adds: “Dish countered with its own lawsuit against the networks, claiming that the AutoHop feature doesn't infringe copyright because the technology doesn't alter the broadcast signal since the ads are not deleted from the recording.”

more »

'That's So Raven' Actress Joins Michael J. Fox's NBC Comedy

An actress known for her appearances in “That’s So Raven” and “Easy A” has been cast in NBC's new Michael J. Fox comedy, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Juliette Goglia, who played a young version of Emma Stone’s character in "Easy A," will play the middle child of Mike Burnaby, played by Fox. Burnaby is a former lead TV anchor who decides to return to work after taking time to deal with his Parkinson's.

Goglia also played Sierra in Disney Channel’s “That’s So Raven.”

Golgia's character on the new show is described as smart, but not in an academic way, and as someone who likes to play the system, the story says.

NBC has ordered 22 episodes of the single-camera sitcom, which is still untitled, the piece notes.

juliette-goglia.jpgJuliette Goglia

more »

Cameron Diaz Movie Heads to TV as CBS Adds to Pilot Roster

CBS has added two more projects to its pilot orders, including a drama from “The Mentalist” creator Bruno Heller and an adaptation of the Cameron Diaz movie “Bad Teacher,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The projects join CBS pilots announced yesterday for “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Backstrom,” as previously reported.

“Hot writer Hilary Winston will pen the script and executive produce ‘Bad Teacher,’ which CBS gave a script order to in October,” THR reports. “Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, the screenwriters behind the Columbia Pictures feature that grossed more than $216 million worldwide, are on board to executive produce, alongside Sam Hansen and Jimmy Miller.”

Sony Pictures Television and Mosaic are behind the pilot.

CBS also ordered the legal drama “The Advocates,” from Heller. “The Warner Bros. Television effort revolves around a female lawyer and male ex-con who team as ‘victim advocates’ and go to the edge of the law to right wrongs and fight for the underdog,” THR reports.

The network gave a pilot production commitment in September to the project, which will be written and executive produced by Heller.

more »

Robin Roberts Returns to 'GMA' Set for First Time

“Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts returned today to the set of the ABC morning show for the first time since undergoing a bone marrow transplant in September, ABC News reports. Roberts appeared at the show’s New York studio for a behind-the-scenes test run.

Said Roberts: "What a thrill to be back at 'GMA's’ Times Square Studio this morning and see the best folks in the world, my ‘GMA’ family. I can’t wait to get back to the anchor chair in a few weeks.”

She indicated last week that she planned to do a series of “dry runs” in preparation for her eventual return to “GMA.”

"My doctors want me to see how many people I actually come in contact with -- how my body reacts to the stimulation, that's code word for stress, of being in the studio environment," Roberts said. "My skin is very sensitive and so we have to see how it reacts to the studio lights. My vision is still a little blurry from the treatment. All of this is getting better day by day so that is the next step."

Roberts’ most recent test showed no abnormalities, prompting her doctors to approve steps toward her return to the show.

robin-roberts-return.jpg

Robin Roberts

more »

TBS Greenlights Stunt Show With 'Jackass' Star

TBS is adding to its unscripted lineup with a series order for a new stunt show, Deadline.com reports. The cable channel ordered six episodes of "Bam's Bad Ass Game Show," which features "Jackass" star Bam Margera, the story reports.

The show is also executive produced by Margera, as well as "Fear Factor’s” David A. Hurwitz.

"Each half-hour episode of the show will feature competitors who vie for $10,000 by facing off against each other in demented, potentially dangerous and occasionally painful challenges, like answering trivia questions while dangling above a pool of trash-filled water or dropping a watermelon on a target after being shot out of a cannon," the story notes.

The show is geared toward male viewers, as is TBS's new program "King of the Nerds." It's likely being eyed as another companion to "The Big Bang Theory," the article notes.

more »

Sci-Fi Icon George Takei Heading to Alien Show

The sci-fi icon George Takei, a veteran of the original "Star Trek" show, is heading to a show focused on space aliens -- ABC's "The Neighbors," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Takei, who played Sulu on “Star Trek,” will guest star as the father of Larry Bird, one of the aliens living in a New Jersey development. All of the aliens have taken on names of sport celebrities.

Takei's character will appear in the season finale, traveling to Earth with a big announcement, the story says.

george-takei.jpg

George Takei

more »

'The Selection' Gets a Pilot Order -- Again

"The Selection," described as "The Hunger Games" meets "The Bachelor," received a green light for a pilot from the CW -- its second from the network, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The project was developed for this season and received a pilot order last year, but was passed over and then reworked, the story notes.

It's based on a novel by Kiera Cass, and tells the story of a young girl who joins a televised competition to win the country's wealthy prince.

Aimee Teegarden of "Friday Night Lights," who starred in the original pilot, is no longer attached to the project, the piece notes.

more »

Netflix Unexpectedly Posts Profit, After Surge in Streaming Customers

Netflix surprised investors by reporting a fourth-quarter profit, instead of the loss expected by many analysts, after seeing a surge in customers signing up for online streaming, reports The New York Times.

The company gained 2.05 million new streaming customers in the U.S., giving it 27.15 million total customers who buy its online service, the story says.

That helped Netflix report net income of $7.9 million.

"The results reflected just how far Netflix has come since the turbulence of mid-2011, when its botched execution of a new pricing plan for its services -- streaming and DVDs by mail -- resulted in an online flogging by angry customers," the story notes. "Investors battered its stock price, sending it from a high of around $300 in 2011 to as low as $53 last year."

Netflix shares soared in after-hours trading Wednesday, rising more than 35%.

"Netflix’s fourth-quarter success was a convenient reminder to the entertainment and technology industries that consumers increasingly want on-demand access to television shows and movies," the piece adds.

more »

ABC Offered Lance Armstrong a Spot on 'Dancing with the Stars'

ABC offered disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong a spot on "Dancing with the Stars," reports EW.com's Inside TV, adding that Armstrong declined the invitation.

The network reportedly approached the cyclist before he admitted to doping in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the story notes.

“Lance has been offered the show each and every year since its inception. Although flattered he has passed on their generous offers," Armstrong's spokesperson said.

"DWTS" returns March 18.

more »

Activist Group Targets 'Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout?'

Nat Geo's "Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout?" reality competition series is coming under fire from the activist group GLAAD, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

GLAAD is angered that Nat Geo is moving ahead with the show and isn't criticizing the Boy Scouts of America, which has policies that forbid gay leaders and members.

"That National Geographic would brush aside countless gay teens suffering at the hands of the BSA, shrugging off injustice as just another 'point of view,' is irresponsible. By airing this program, National Geographic is providing support and publicity to an organization that harms young people simply because of who they are," GLAAD President Herndon Graddick wrote, according to the story.

A Nat Geo representative didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, the piece adds.

more »

Oh Brother. Oh Sister. Another Sitcom -- This Time on Fox -- Given the Heave-Ho From the Schedule, Also Meaning the Show Is Likely Canceled

"TVLine has learned that [Fox] is pulling [an] acclaimed, ratings-challenged rookie comedy from its schedule, effective immediately," writes our friend Michael Ausiello at TVLine.com.

The show is the brother/sister Tuesday night sitcom "Ben and Kate." The news comes as the cast and crew of the show were filming the 15th of 19 episodes ordered this season.

Ausiello adds, "Although a Fox insider maintains that 'Ben and Kate' will return at a later date, make no mistake: Today’s news has cancellation written all over it. And yes, it sucks."

The article explains, "Beginning next Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, episodes of 'Raising Hope' will air from 8-9 p.m. through February (except on Feb. 9, when 'Hope' will lead into an encore of 'New Girl' at 8:30/7:30c). 'Hope‘s' one-hour season finale will air Thursday, March 28, following 'American Idol.' On Tuesday, March 12, Season 11 of 'Hell’s Kitchen' will take over the 8-9 p.m. perch, leading into 'New Girl' and 'The Mindy Project.' "

more »

Apple Earnings Fall Short of Expectations

Apple came in below expectations today in its quarterly earnings report, fueling the recent pessimism that has sent the company’s share prices down 27% since last September, Bloomberg reports.

The piece reports: “Profit was little changed at $13.1 billion, or $13.81 a share, in the period that ended Dec. 29, Cupertino, California- based Apple said today in a statement. Sales rose 18 percent to $54.5 billion. Analysts had predicted profit of $13.53 a share on revenue of $54.9 billion, the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Shares fell as much as 5.6 percent in late trading.”

Speculation continues that higher production costs, tougher competition and a slowdown in expansion of the worldwide smartphone market are driving down Apple’s growth, the story notes.

“Investors are looking to Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook to demonstrate Apple has more blockbuster products in the pipeline to reignite sales,” Bloomberg notes.


Shaw Wu, an analyst with Sterne Agee & Leach Inc., is quoted as saying: “It’s going to call into question whether we have seen the peak of Apple. One quarter can’t answer that question, but the concern will be heard louder until proven otherwise, and that will weigh on the stock.”

The report adds: “The lack of profit growth reflects higher manufacturing costs due to a product lineup overhaul ahead of the holiday shopping season. The first quarter is usually Apple’s most lucrative, and the company introduced the iPhone 5, iPad mini and restyled Mac to draw customers.

“Sales of the iPhone, Apple’s biggest source of revenue and profit, reached 47.8 million units, matching the prediction by analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The company also sold 22.9 million iPads, above the projected 22.4 million units.”

more »

Two NBC Shows Sink to Season Lows

Two NBC series turned in season lows in the ratings Tuesday night, based on Nielsen overnights, as the broadcast networks in general endured a night of less-than-stellar numbers.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC’s “Go On,” which sank to a 1.3 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, and “The New Normal,” which came in with a 1.2, both hit season lows. “Go On” fell 24% from last week’s number while “Normal” dipped 14%.

Elsewhere on NBC, two episodes of “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” delivered a 1.6 and a 1.8 in viewers 18-49; and the season finale of “Parenthood” fell off 11% from last week to a 1.7.

ABC saw its two-hour series premiere of “The Taste” deliver a 2.2 average in 18-49, which on a low-rated Tuesday night -- and with CBS airing all repeats -- was good enough to be the highest-rated show of the night. “The Taste” was followed by the series finale of “Private Practice,” which rose 25% from last week to a 1.5.

Fox was generally up from a week ago, including “Raising Hope,” up 6% to a 1.7 average in the 18-49 demo; “Ben and Kate,” up 9% to a 1.2; and “New Girl,” up 11% to a 2.1. “The Mindy Project” was even with a 1.5.

For prime time overall, ABC led the way with an average rating of 1.9 in viewers 18-49, followed by Univision (1.7 average), Fox (1.6), NBC (1.6) and CBS (1.5). CBS scored a big win in total viewers with 10.5 million, followed by ABC with 5.8 million, NBC with 4.7 million, Univision with 4.0 million and Fox with 3.4 million.

more »

TBS Cancels Series

TBS is pulling the plug on a series that has failed to gain traction in the ratings. Going away after one season is the low-rated musical comedy-drama “Wedding Band,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Since its debut in November 2012 the series, which stars Brian Austin Green and Harold Perrineau, has been saddled with the tough 10 p.m. Saturday time slot.

“Despite a roster of notable guest stars including Green's wife, Megan Fox, ‘Wedding Band’ failed to register -- attracting 1.85 million total viewers and 1.1 million in the coveted adults 18-49 demographic, with a mere 613,000 in 18-34 for its November bow,” the piece reports. “The 10-episode series ended its run Saturday, averaging 850,000 total viewers in the 18-49 demo with 1.4 million total viewers heading into what marked its series finale.”

The program was part of an effort by TBS to ratchet up its lineup of original scripted comedies to air behind off-net screenings of “The Big Bang Theory,” the top-rated syndicated program, the piece notes.

TBS still has “Sullivan and Son,” “Men at Work” and “Cougar Town” among its scripted offerings.

more »

MSNBC Host Slowed by Brain Tumor

One of the regular hosts in MSNBC’s lineup revealed that health problems related to a brain tumor kept him out of his regular spot Friday. The Huffington Post reports that Martin Bashir said over the weekend that the tumor was th reason he missed his stint on the show.

“In 2008, Bashir was discovered to have a small growth in his pituitary gland,” the story reports. “He still has it, though it appears to be under control.”

Asked by Fishbowl DC about his absence from the show, Bashir said: "I have a brain tumor. It's fine but it causes a problem from time to time."

The report adds: “When the tumor was discovered in 2008, doctors advised that ‘no immediate action be taken,’ and planned to monitor the situation from month to month.”

martin-bashir.jpg

Martin Bashir

more »

Good Grief! Voice of Charlie Brown in 'Peanuts' Specials Arrested on Felony Stalking Charges

The man who is the voice of Charlie Brown in a series of animated “Peanuts” TV specials was arrested over the weekend on felony charges including stalking and making threats, TheWrap.com reports.

Peter Robbins, 56, was arrested Sunday night at the border crossing between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, after a background check revealed he was wanted on a felony warrant by the San Diego Country Sheriff’s Department, the story reports, citing Ralph DeSio, a public affairs officer with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office.

“DeSio did not say what crimes Robbins allegedly committed, but the website for the San Diego County Jail, where he was transported and booked, says he faces five felony counts, including stalking and making a threat to cause death or bodily injury,” the piece reports. “Bail is set at $550,000.”

Robbins was due to be arraigned today.

“The 56-year-old actor was the doleful voice behind Charlie Brown on several of iconic TV specials that aired in the 1960s,” the story reports. “His ‘Peanuts’ work includes ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ and ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,’ and he also appeared on such shows as ‘My Three Sons’ and ‘F Troop,’ according to IMDb.”

The actor identifies himself as Peter "Charlie Brown" Robbins on his Facebook account, the piece notes.

peter-robbins.jpg

Peter “Charlie Brown” Robbins

more »

Grammy Winner Joins NBC's 'The Voice'

A Grammy-winning singer is joining NBC's singing competition series "The Voice" in the role of mentor, reports ETOnline.com.

Sheryl Crow is joining the Blake Shelton team. In a statement, Shelton crowed about his new team member, saying, "Sheryl Crow is one of the coolest people in the music industry and to have her as an adviser on my team is pretty darn cool."

Crow, a nine-time Grammy winner, has sold more than 17 million albums in the U.S. and more than 50 million worldwide. She is known for hits including “All I Wanna Do,” “If It Makes You Happy” and “Everyday Is a Winding Road.”

Season four of "The Voice" premieres March 25.

sheryl-crow2.jpg

Sheryl Crow

more »

Manti Te'o Admits Lying About 'Girlfriend' in Interview With Katie Couric

Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o admitted in an interview with Katie Couric that he lied to the press and to the public about his non-existent online “girlfriend,” ABC News reports.

“The star Notre Dame linebacker, who has been hounded by reporters since the story broke Jan. 16, told Couric in a taped interview Tuesday that he was not lying up until December,” the story reports. “Te'o said he was duped into believing his online girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, died of cancer.”

Te’o reportedly learned of the hoax Dec. 6. “But on Dec. 8 he again publicly mentioned his girlfriend,” the piece reports. “The remark came as Te'o was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, the award for the best college football player in the country. Te'o was eventually a runner-up for the trophy.”

Couric said to Te’o: "You stuck to the script. And you knew that something was amiss, Manti.”

Te’o replies in the interview: "Katie, put yourself in my situation. I, my whole world told me that she died on Sept. 12. Everybody knew that. This girl, who I committed myself to, died on Sept. 12. Now I get a phone call on Dec. 6, saying that she's alive and then I'm going be put on national TV two days later. And to ask me about the same question. You know, what would you do?"

A portion of the interview aired today on “Good Morning America,” with the full interview set to run on Thursday’s installment of Couric’s syndicated show “Katie.” Other clips from the interview will appear tonight on ABC’s “World News” and “Nightline.”

manti-teo-couric-interview.jpg

Katie Couric and Manti Te’o

more »

AMC Unveils Plans for 'Mad Men' Season Six -- Including a Two-Hour Movie

AMC announced today that it will kick off the sixth season of its hit drama series “Mad Men” with a special episode -- a two-hour movie written by series creator Matthew Weiner and directed by Scott Hornbacher, Deadline.com reports. The premiere is set for April 7, starting at 9 p.m.

“Series star Jon Hamm will direct the season’s second episode a week later as it settles into its regular 10 p.m. time slot,” the story reports. “When last we left Hamm’s Don Draper and Co., the firm of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce was still recovering from Lane Pryce’s suicide, Peggy Olson had joined a rival agency, Roger Sterling was all tripped out and Don himself was sitting on the sidelines of wife Megan’s first big break -- and contemplating a proposition by two pretty young things (or was he?).”

In an interview with The New York Times, Weiner was careful not to reveal much of what’s ahead for the story line, saying: “It will advance in time, as it does. … I can’t say how much or how little. We’re coming off a period in Don’s life where he’s trying to normalize, and trying to have this relationship -- a real relationship with this woman that he fell in love with. She expressed her desires and that was a surprise for him. On this show, it’s a very rich, full orchestra, and we like to follow what is the next stage in these people’s lives.”

The two-hour premiere, said Weiner, “has some cliffhanger elements to it, it does propel you into the rest of the season -- it does foreshadow a lot what the season is about.”

more »

Plans for New Syndie Talk Show Get Flayed

A planned syndicated daytime talk show has been scrapped, reports the New York Post. The show was to be hosted by TV chef Bobby Flay and Food Network colleague Giada De Laurentiis.

The two foodie stars were in the early stages of developing a daily talk show that would have been similar to "Live with Kelly and Michael," the story says.

CBS Television Distribution was involved, but the project was shelved after a presentation reel was shot. A full pilot wasn't taped, the story adds.

Flay hosts five Food Network shows and hoped to break out beyond his TV chef role. De Laurentiis is the granddaughter of film producer Dino De Laurentiis.

more »

Marketer Whose Super Bowl Ads Came Under Fire Will Sit Out the Big Game

An advertiser whose Super Bowl commercials have gained a lot of attention -- not all of it positive -- since it first ran spots in the big game said it will sit out this year’s game. Advertising Age reports that CareerBuilder, which has been advertising in the Super Bowl since 2005, will remain on the sidelines this time around.

"The Super Bowl has been a good investment for us over the years," said CareerBuilder spokeswoman Jennifer Grasz. "We decided to pursue other marketing opportunities this year, not only promoting the CareerBuilder brand, but also specific products and differentiators."

CareerBuilder aired some fan favorites during its Super Bowl years, and sparked some controversies with its ads that tended to feature monkeys, the piece notes. The ads drew criticism from activist groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Center for Great Apes.

"While eighteen large ad agencies said they would no longer produce ads with live chimps, who critics suggested were harmed by their participation in the production of the commercials, the company soldiered on with advertising created in-house," the story notes.

Here’s an example:

more »

Report: Donald Trump Looking Into Buying The New York Times

Donald Trump is reportedly exploring how he might buy The New York Times, reports Joe Hagan in New York Magazine.

"According to sources familiar with the situation, Trump has engaged in more than one meeting to discuss how he might buy the Grey Lady. Details of Trump’s strategy remain scant," Hagan writes. "And it seems unlikely, to say the least, that the Sulzberger family, which controls the company's voting shares, would welcome his offer."

A representative for Trump declined to comment, as did The Times.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who founded the media company Bloomberg LP, has been rumored to be considering the newspaper as a "coveted trophy," the piece adds.

more »

CNN Names Chief Congressional Correspondent

CNN has named a new chief congressional correspondent. TVNewser.com reports that the cable news channel promoted Dana Bash to the position.

Bash moved from the White House beat to Capitol Hill in 2006, and before her on-air role with the White House was the Capitol Hill producer for CNN and an editor in the network's Washington bureau.

In a memo to staffers Tuesday, CNN Washington Bureau chief Sam Feist wrote: “Week in and week out, Dana’s reporting and analysis make our air better. And we saw it again yesterday with Dana’s relentless efforts to land interviews in the Capitol Rotunda during our Inauguration coverage.”

dana-bash.jpg

Dana Bash

more »

Oscar Winner Replaces Rosemarie DeWitt on HBO Series

An Academy Award-winning actress has been cast to replace Rosemarie DeWitt on the HBO show "The Newsroom," reports TVLine.com. Marcia Gay Harden, who won an Oscar for best supporting actress in 2001 for “Pollock,” is joining the series.

As previously reported, HBO planned to reshoot DeWitt's scenes after the "United States of Tara" actress left the show after shooting only a couple of episodes. Her role as recurring character Rebecca Halliday was affected by a schedule change, leaving DeWitt unable to continue in her role.

Harden will take on the role of Halliday, a litigator who defends Atlantis Cable News in a wrongful termination lawsuit. Harden has appeared in “Damages” and other television series, but may be better known for her movies, including “Miller’s Crossing” and “The First Wives Club.”

Marcia-Gay-Harden.jpg

Marcia Gay Harden

more »

NBC Orders Dick Wolf Project, Show From 'Lost' Writer

NBC has ordered several projects to pilot, including one from “Law & Order” mastermind Dick Wolf and a show from "Lost" writer Carlton Cuse, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Cuse's project is "The Sixth Gun," an adaptation of a graphic novel of the same name. It's about six mythical guns in the Old West, with the last gun, the most powerful and dangerous, awakening dark forces when it falls into the possession of an innocent girl, the story says.

Cuse will serve as executive producer and showrunner, and it marks his second project this season, following "Bates Motel" at A&E.

"Girlfriend in a Coma" is from Universal Television and Wolf Films, and is about a 34-year-old woman who wakes up from a coma. She finds that she has a 17-year-old daughter from a pregnancy she didn't know about, the story says. Wolf will serve as an executive producer on the comedy.

NBC also made several other pilot orders, including one for an untitled project from DJ Nash of "Up All Night" and a high-concept drama from Rand Ravich. The latter is about a political conspiracy.

more »

CBS Gives Pilot Orders to 'Beverly Hills Cop,' 'Backstrom'

CBS has given pilot orders to "Beverly Hills Cop" and the drama "Backstrom," with the latter from "Bones" creator Hart Hanson, reports Deadline.com.

The network also gave a pilot order to the comedy "Friends With Better Lives," from writer Dana Klein and producer Aaron Kaplan.

"Beverly Hills Cop" has cast Brandon T. Jackson as the lead, the son of the character Axel Foley from the original movies. Comedian and actor Eddie Murphy, who played Foley in the films, is set to appear in the pilot, the story says.

"Backstrom" is about a detective said to be the law-enforcement version of Dr. Gregory House, the story says. It's based on the "Backstrom" books by Swedish criminologist and novelist Leif G.W. Persson.

"Friends With Better Lives" is about a group of 30-something friends who each think the other has a better life.

more »

Greg Kinnear Project Gets Pilot Order from Fox

A comedic drama starring Greg Kinnear has received a pilot order from Fox, reports Deadline.com. The project, “Rake,” received the green light after Kinnear, who was given the right to sign off on the script, OK’d the script last week, the story says.

The show is based on an Australian series and stars Kinnear as Keegan Joye, a self-destructive criminal defense attorney.

It marks Kinnear's first network drama pilot, the story says.

more »

ABC Loads Up on Pilot Orders

ABC ordered four new pilots Tuesday, including a drama from “ER’s” David Zabel and a comedy executive produced by “Office” writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, TVLine.com reports.

“The Zabel project, ‘Betrayal,’ centers on a beautiful but unhappily married female photographer who begins a torrid affair with a lawyer for a powerful family,” the piece reports. “When he turns out to be defending a murder suspect who is being prosecuted by her husband, the relationship and the case begin a spiraling series of betrayals with cataclysmic results for everyone involved.”

The sitcom from Eisenberg and Stupnitsky is “Pulling,” which “follows three dysfunctional women in their 30s living their lives the way they want, even if society tells them they should have it all figured out by this point,” the story says.

Also among ABC’s pilot orders: the drama “The Returned,” from Aaron Zelman (“The Killing”); and the “Romeo and Juliet”-esque soap “Venice,” written by Byron Balasco (“Without a Trace”).

more »

Fox News Slips to No. 3 in Cable Viewership for Inauguration

Ratings for President Obama's second inauguration declined significantly from four years ago, reports Bill Carter in The New York Times' Media Decoder.

CNN was the leader among the cable news networks while the oath of office was administered and Obama gave his speech, the story says. Fox News, which usually leads in ratings among cable news networks, was far behind. “That was widely expected, given the conservative political preferences of much of the Fox News audience," Carter notes.

During the oath and speech, CNN averaged 3.136 million viewers, down from 8.119 million total viewers four years ago. MSNBC was second with 2.273 million viewers and Fox was third with 1.316 million viewers. Four years ago, MSNBC and Fox News drew 3.022 million and 5.291 million viewers, respectively, for the oath and speech.

more »

This Story Has Lots of Bull: Stock Market on Fire as Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 Hit Highest Levels in More Than Five Years

The bulls have gotten a hold of the stock market and won't let go.

"The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 62.43 points, or 0.5%, to 13,712.13 on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, recovering from a morning slide of as much as 27 points," writes The Wall Street Journal, adding, "The benchmark closed at its highest level since Dec. 10, 2007." [Note: The content of The WSJ is behind a firewall and you may be charged to read its stories.]

The story also notes: "'Earnings season is basically in full swing now, and I think that's really what's moving markets,' said Richard Sichel, chief investment officer at Philadelphia Trust Co., which oversees $1.8 billion. 'You had a couple companies, like DuPont and Travelers, that had some nice earnings and they're being rewarded.'

"DuPont's fourth-quarter profit fell less than analysts had expected. The diversified manufacturer said it expects earnings to rebound in the second half. Travelers was among the biggest gains among Dow components, after the insurer's earnings topped analysts' muted expectations in the wake of superstorm Sandy."

Added USA Today's account of today's trading, "[T]he Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 0.5% -- [which was also a new five-year high for that measurement]."

more »

Son of a Bitch: ABC Yanks Sitcom From Schedule -- Co-Star Tweets 'We've Basically Been Canceled'

ABC has yanked one of its sitcoms from its schedule, effective immediately, reports our friend Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

The sitcom involved is "Don't Trust the B-- In Apt. 23."

Writes Andreeva, "While ABC does not call this a cancellation, the decision de facto seals the fate of the low-rated sophomore comedy whose unaired episodes are likely headed for summer. On Twitter, 'Apt. 23' co-star James Van Der Beek called the move for what it is: 'Sad to say ABC has pulled #Apt23 and will not be airing the 8 remaining episodes any time soon,' he said. 'Translation: we’ve basically been cancelled.'"

The story adds, "With 'Apt. 23' gone, ABC will double pump its time slot companion, 'Happy Endings,' in the Tuesday 9 PM hour until the block is dissolved on March 19 and replaced with the 'Dancing with the Stars' results show. ... 'Apt. 23' averaged 3.7 million total viewers and a 1.5/4 in 18-49 on Tuesdays this season."

The series also starred Krysten Ritter as the B in the title.

more »

Strong Opening for Fox's New Kevin Bacon Drama Series

Fox scored the second-highest-rated drama premiere of the season with the debut Monday night of the new Kevin Bacon series “The Following,” TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

The series turned in a time zone-adjusted 3.2 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, ranking it as the season’s second-best debut for a new drama after NBC’s “Revolution.”

It wasn’t enough to unseat CBS for prime time overall, with the Eye Network turning in a 3.0 average rating in viewers 18-49 to top Fox (2.7 average), ABC (2.3) and NBC (2.0). CBS also claimed a narrow win in total viewers, averaging 10.3 million to 9.4 million for Fox, 7.9 million for ABC and 5.3 million for NBC.

Other than the number for “The Following,” ratings for the night are preliminary.

Fox’s “Bones” rose 10% from last week to a 2.3 in 18-49.

CBS had two comedies tie for top show of the night: “How I Met Your Mother” and “2 Broke Girls” each delivered a 3.7 average rating in the 18-49 demo. “Mike & Molly” scored a 3.3 and “Hawaii Five-0” pulled in a 2.2 as the whole CBS lineup was down between 5% and 10% from a week ago.

ABC’s two-hour “The Bachelor” came in just a tick ahead of NBC’s two-hour “The Biggest Loser,” 2.5 to 2.4 in viewers 18-49.

more »

'SNL' Actor to Fill Hasselhoff's Speedo in 'Baywatch' Adaptation

An upcoming adaptation of the hit 1990s series “Baywatch” will feature a “Saturday Night Live” actor stepping into the role made famous by David Hasselhoff as the leader of a team of California lifeguards, TheWrap.com reports.

Bill Hader -- known for his “SNL” impressions of James Carville, Charlie Sheen, Rick Perry and others -- will try to fill Hasselhoff’s speedo in the big-screen version of the beach series. The Paramount film is a reboot of the original “Baywatch,” which also starred Pamela Anderson.

Robert Ben Garant, who co-created Comedy Central's “Reno 911!," will direct the feature. He told the website that both Hasselhoff and Anderson are slated to do cameos in the film. Instead of being played straight, as in the television show, the new "Baywatch" will be a comedy.

The movie plot has the lifeguards exploring an oil rig off the Malibu coast that turns out to be a meth lab. Ben Garant is revising drafts of the script by Jeremy Garelick and Peter Tolan. The picture is expected to begin filming in April.

Hader is currently in his eighth season on NBC’s “SNL.”

bill-hader.jpg

Bill Hader

more »

More TV Appearances in the Works for Alabama Beauty Queen Who Caught Brent Musburger's Eye

Alabama beauty queen Katherine Webb, who became a part of a minor controversy after ESPN broadcaster Brent Musburger emphatically expressed his appreciation for her during the BCS National Championship Game, has been getting plenty of offers since then, the New York Post reports.

Among them, she is reportedly being courted by ABC's "Dancing with the Stars.”

As we reported previously, Webb -- who is Miss Alabama USA and the girlfriend of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron -- drew the attention of TV cameras while she was in the crowd during the Jan. 7 football championship showdown between Alabama and Notre Dame. She also caught the eye of Musburger, who gushed over her to the point where ESPN later issued an apology.

Now the 23-year-old is fully immersed in her 15 minutes of fame, including sweeping through New York last week for a shoot for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. She currently lives in Los Angeles, but was reportedly overheard saying she plans to move to New York to pursue her modeling career.

Webb was overheard saying she had been offered a spot in the upcoming season of “Dancing with the Stars,” a source told the Post, but Webb reportedly did not indicate whether she would accept the gig.

Webb also has reportedly been hired by the syndicated entertainment show “Inside Edition,” and will provide on-air reports for the show from the Super Bowl.

katherine-webb2.jpg

Katherine Webb

more »

'Arsenio Hall Show' Racking Up Syndication Clearances

CBS Television Distribution committed to "The Arsenio Hall Show" back in August after the strip was cleared in 85% of the country, and that figure has now swelled to 95%, reports Deadline.com.

The show is set to bow Sept. 9, 2013, mainly in the 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. time slots.

Deadline reports: "Tribune Broadcasting has stations in seven of the top 10 markets and is joined by pickups from CBS Television, Local TV, Sinclair Broadcasting, LIN Television Stations, Belo Corp, Cox Enterprises, Media General, Post-Newsweek Stations, Newport Television, Raycom Media, The Grant Group and Sunbeam Television."

 

more »

'Who Shot J.R. 2.0?': TNT's 'Dallas' Reveals How It Will Eliminate the Late Larry Hagman's Character

Ruthless oil baron J.R. Ewing’s exit from "Dallas" will bring back memories of the famous “Who shot J.R.?” episode of an earlier version of the show that created a sensation in the 1980s, reports the New York Post.

People will be asking "Who killed J.R.?" -- an update on the catchphrase from the 1980s, when the character played by Larry Hagman was shot but survived. The character is being written out of the TNT show because of Hagman’s death last year.

“We all felt having J.R. die of natural causes would have been completely inappropriate, not only to the character, but also to Larry Hagman,” said executive producer Cynthia Cidre. She spoke to TV Guide, which will publish details about the show in its new issue, the story says.

Cidre and the show's writers had Ewing's murder approved by co-star Patrick Duffy, who plays Bobby Ewing, and Hagman's son, Preston, the piece adds.

TNT's "Who killed J.R.?" storyline will run across several episodes, with a revelation in Ewing's will, the story notes.

 

more »

Lady Gaga Loses Her Spot as the Most Followed Person on Twitter -- So Who's the New No. 1?

Lada Gaga has been displaced as the most followed person on Twitter, according to a report by E! Online. The new No. 1 is another pop star: Justin Bieber.

The piece notes that Bieber recently mooned his followers in an Instagram photo, which the report hints may have helped boost his online popularity.

The website reported today: “As of last count this morning, the 18-year-old superstar had a whopping 33,333,554 Beliebers (and counting) to Gaga's still whopping but now slightly less so 33,328,937 Little Monsters.

“Neither star has yet acknowledged this momentous milestone.”

Gaga remains No. 1 on Facebook, the report notes, with 54.98 million likes to 50.66 million for Bieber.

“But that's not the only online overtaking Bieber may have up his sleeve,” the piece adds. “His Instagram followers currently top out around 6.1 million, not too far off from the reigning queen, Kim Kardashian, who has 6.3 million followers on the photo-sharing site.”

more »

Why Older TV Shows Are Being Rediscovered by a New Generation

More young people are digging into "retro TV" -- programs from the 1990s and earlier -- the New York Post reports. That’s because of the increased availability of the programming online on streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu and on DVD sets, the story reports.

"Even though it was from the ’90s, it doesn’t look dated, because it’s just so interesting,” said Maria Claudia Sanchez, who is 17 and has become a fan of "Twin Peaks." She wasn't born when the show, created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, first aired on ABC from 1990-1991.

She has discovered other older shows such as "Freaks and Geeks" and "Doctor Who" because of Netflix.

Hulu's popular shows illustrate the interest in older programs, with the most-watched series including "Star Trek," "Daria" and "Lost," the piece adds. Serial dramas such as "Battlestar Galactica" and "24" are also popular, according to a Netflix spokesman.

Social media sites are helping to spread the word about the shows among young people, the report notes.

more »

YouTube Cuts Off Funding for News Channels

YouTube has cut off its funding of two news channels, PandoDaily.com reports. The channels have been run by The Wall Street Journal and Reuters.

Reuters has reportedly cut positions in response to the move.

The cutbacks come after YouTube said it would reinvest in only 40% of the 160 or so channels it invested in as part of a $150 million plan to debut more than 100 premium channels, according to the report.

The Wall Street Journal's YouTube channel attracts viewership in the 500,000 to 1 million range, while Reuters was drawing about 200,000 to 400,000 viewers. Some of the most popular channels draw between 3 million and 7 million viewers, the piece adds.

YouTube hasn't said why it's cutting funding to the news sites, but other networks, including those run by Vice and The Young Turks, are still being funded, the story says.

“The YouTube unit at Reuters consisted of 18 people, most of whom were freelancers and contractors,” the story reports, adding that Friday, Jan. 18, was their last day on the job. “The cutbacks follow Tuesday’s [Jan. 15] news of nine editorial layoffs at the news organization, a move attributed to the company’s need to focus attention on its ‘global cost structure.’”

 

more »

Why Networks Are Under Increased Pressure to Find Hits This Pilot Season -- And Where Things Stand

The broadcast networks are under increased pressure to find hits this pilot season, Nellie Andreeva writes on Deadline.com, after last year's crop produced only three series that can be called hits -- NBC's "Revolution," The CW's "Arrow" and CBS's "Elementary."

The networks appear likely to order a number of pilots that will be on par with last year's total of 89, including presentations, the story says.

Emerging as the pilot season's most pursued actress is "Damages" star Rose Byrne, who has attracted offers for almost every female lead, the story says.

Andreeva wrote Monday that an “avalanche of pilot pickups” was expected today as network executives returned from the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

CBS has greenlighted six comedy pilots, and is "almost done" with its comedy orders. A few more may get a pickup, with one of the hopefuls being David E. Kelley's comedy starring Robin Williams. Among dramas, it's likely that "NCIS: LA’s” spinoff will get a space on the schedule.

"NBC has been as aggressive as usual with 10 pilots + one presentation (comedy starring Jessica Simpson) already ordered, almost half of what its haul is expected to be (10-12 comedy pilots, 10 dramas)," Andreeva writes.

Among the likely candidates are a new drama from "Revolution" executive producer J.J. Abrams and Anthony Zuiker's version of "Alice in Wonderland," the story says.

"Fox and ABC have been surprisingly slow out of the gate this year. Fox, in particular, has only ordered one pilot so far, the untitled Dan Goor/Mike Schur comedy starring Andy Samberg," Andreeva writes. Fox "is in dire need of hits as none of its fall shows broke through."

Fox will likely pick up six drama pilots and seven to eight comedy pilots, with legal drama "Rake" starring Greg Kinnear likely to get a green light.

Andreeva adds: "ABC got off to a fast start -- greenlighting Adam F. Goldberg’s 'How the Hell Am I Normal?' just before the holiday break in December. But since then, the network has only picked up one more pilot, comedy 'Mixology.'"

Projects likely to get orders include Joss Whedon's "S.H.I.E.L.D." and the comedies "Trophy Wife" and "Super Fun Night," the story adds.

more »

NRA Making Its Presence Felt on Cable

The National Rifle Association is increasingly becoming a presence on cable. The group sponsors or produces six television shows that air on the Outdoor and Sportsman channels, creating a potential profit center for the group as well as a way to reach out to its core supporters, Reuters reports.

"They’re consolidating their base. It's a lot easier to get your message across with video than it was a printed pamphlet," said Larry Gerbrandt, a former cable TV executive who founded the media appraisal firm Valuation Partners.

Cam Edwards, the host of Sportsman Channel's "Cam & Company," has been outspoken in siding with the NRA against President Obama's proposals to expand gun controls. His show is produced by NRA News.

Nevertheless, he said he is "not a spokesman for the NRA" and that NRA News is distinct from the lobbying organization. The NRA didn't respond to requests for comment, the story says.

"Other shows, which are mostly history or competition programs, help the NRA promote the gun-owning lifestyle and are an important advertising platform for advertisers such as gun makers Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. or Remington Arms Co. Ltd.," the piece points out.

“One of the Sportsman Channel's highest-rated shows is ‘Guns and Gold,’ an NRA-produced program in which two officials from the National Firearms Museum tour the country to value heirlooms and ancient guns,” the story reports. “The NRA also sponsors the shooting competition show ‘3-Gun Nation’ on the Sportsman Channel and Outdoor Channel's ‘American Rifleman,’ which reviews products and airs stories about gun owners from the NRA's American Rifleman magazine.”

more »

'True Blood' Adds Actresses

HBO's vampire drama "True Blood" has added two actresses for its sixth season, reports Deadline.com. Joining the show are Amelia Rose Blaire, who has appeared in "90210," and Jurnee Smollett, who acted on "Friday Night Lights," the story says.

Blaire will play Willa Burrell, the daughter of Louisiana's Gov. Burrell, played by Arliss Howard. The character disagrees with her father over vampire rights, and will appear in a recurring role that could become regular.

Smollett will portray Nicole Wright, a do-gooder, in a regular role.

amelia-rose-blaire.jpg

Amelia Rose Blaire

jurnee-smollett.jpg

Jurnee Smollett

 

more »

'Big Brother' Producer Endemol Names New Top Officers

Endemol Group, the independent television production company behind "Big Brother," has named executives to two key positions, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Martha Brass was named chief operating officer and Edwin van Es was installed as chief financial officer, the story reports.

Additionally, Endemol Chief Executive Just Spee and President Tim Hincks appointed both van Es and Brass to a new management committee that will "focus on overseeing and supporting the business on a day-to-day basis," the company said.

Brass previously was managing director of international operations. She will continue to oversee emerging markets. She replaces Virginie Calmels, who resigned last week.

Van Es previously was the group finance director for Endemol, the piece adds.

more »

Blockbuster to Close 300 Stores

Blockbuster will shutter 300 stores in the next few weeks, the Denver Post reports. The company will lay off about 3,000 workers, the report adds.

The closures will hit underperforming stores or those that are getting close to the end of their leases. Dish, which owns the video-rental chain, said it will have 500 Blockbuster stores remaining after the closings.

Dish "continues to see value in the Blockbuster brand, and we continue to analyze the store-level profitability as we have in the past," said Dish spokesman John Hall.

The 3,000 employees who will lose their jobs were informed Friday about the closings, the piece adds.

The company shut down about 500 stores last year.

more »

Lindsay Lohan Declines Big Payday From 'Dancing with the Stars'

Lindsay Lohan has reportedly declined an invitation to join "Dancing with the Stars," turning down a series of offers that reached $550,000, reports TMZ.com.

The reason? She reportedly doesn't want to appear on reality TV, the story says.

"But there's one problem -- after ‘The Canyons’ fiasco, she's basically made herself unhireable. And as the saying goes, beggars can't be choosers," the piece reports.

Lohan still owes hundreds of thousands in back taxes, the report adds.

A representative for "Dancing with the Stars" declined to comment.

 

more »

NBC Rolling Out Animated 'Revolution' Webisodes

NBC will try to keep viewer interest in its freshman drama "Revolution" by rolling out animated webisodes during the show’s winter hiatus, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

A new webisode will debut online every week through Feb. 18 on NBC.com, YouTube and Hulu and via VOD. NBC is also airing a version of the pilot online that includes commentary from director Jon Favreau and showrunner Eric Kripke.

The six webisodes are based on letters written by a character who led Miles into a trap set by General Monroe, the piece adds.

“Revolution” returns March 25.

more »

NFL Playoffs Crush the Ratings Competition -- Hitting One Network Especially Hard

The NFL’s prime-time clash between AFC powers New England and Baltimore, aired live on CBS, dominated the broadcast ratings Sunday night, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the game delivered a preliminary 14.6 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, with significant adjustments coming due to the nature of live programming. The game also averaged 41.53 million total viewers, as CBS rolled to a huge win for the night.

The hardest hit among its broadcast rivals was suffered by ABC, as both Fox and NBC put up all-repeat programming. ABC saw its lineup of originals droop in the ratings, with “Once Upon a Time” and “Revenge” both sinking to season lows. “Once Upon a Time” was down 14% from last week with a 2.4 average in 18-49, while “Revenge” sank 15% to a 1.7.

ABC’s “America’s Funniest Home Videos” was also down, dipping 7% to a 1.3 in the 18-49 demo. A “Shark Tank” repeat at 10 p.m. also delivered a 1.3.

Preliminary results show CBS safely out front for prime time overall with an 11.9 average rating in viewers 18-49, followed by ABC (1.7 average), Fox (1.6), Univision (0.9) and NBC (0.8). In total viewers it was CBS well ahead of the pack with 34.5 million, followed by ABC (5.9 million) Fox (3.3 million), NBC (2.4 million) and Univision (2.3 million).

more »

'Waterloo Road' Beauty Injured on Set of ABC's 'Castle'

An actress best known for her role in the BBC series “Waterloo Road” was injured, along with a stuntman, while shooting the ABC drama series “Castle.” The actress, Karen David, and the stuntman, who has not been named, fell out of a moving van Thursday, Deadline.com reports.

The incident on the Paramount lot took place when a door on the van did not shut, according to talent manager William Blaylock.

Said Blaylock: “Karen was in the emergency room for hours being treated. She has been released but is in serious pain and has to wear a neck brace.” The stuntman suffered a head injury and remained hospitalized after David’s release, the story reports.

David, 33, is a Canadian-British actress, singer and songwriter. Besides playing Francesca “Cesca” Montoya on “Waterloo Road,” she has appeared on TV in “Pixelface” and “Touch” and in feature films including “Batman Begins.”

SAG-AFTRA was reportedly investigating the incident.

karen-david.jpg

Karen David

more »

Iconic Video Game Maker Files for Bankruptcy

One of the pioneering companies in the video game business -- the company that created the games “Pong,” “Centipede” and “Asteroids” -- filed for bankruptcy today, CNN reports. The move by Atari U.S. is an effort to break off the U.S. branch from its cash-strapped French parent company, the piece reports.

The company is expected to survive in some form, the report notes.

CNN reports: “In particular, Atari U.S. is looking to ‘secure independent capital for future growth, primarily in the areas of digital and mobile games,’ the company said in a written statement.

“Over the next three to four months, Atari U.S. will seek buyers for some of its assets, including the Atari logo and the company's games catalog. Atari as a whole owns or manages more than 200 games and franchises.”

The company got off to a strong start after its founding in 1972, but later lost ground to Nintendo and other competitors, the piece reports. The company has gone through a number of owners over the years.

“France's Infogrames Entertainment acquired a stake in Atari in 2000, then bought out the company in 2008 and changed its name to Atari S.A.,” CNN reports. “Since then, the rise of casual gaming on PCs and mobile devices has cut into the video game industry as a whole. Atari S.A. has been unprofitable for years, and warned just last month that it will book a ‘significant loss’ for its fiscal year 2013.’

A key problem for Atari S.A. is a debt of $27 million owed to BlueBay Asset Management, which has suspended its credit line. The balance is due March 31, the story notes.

“The company says it is ‘starved for funds’ and hasn't found another principal creditor to take BlueBay's place,” CNN reports. “The New York-based U.S. arm wants to be free of its French baggage. Atari U.S. said it will ‘conduct its normal business operations’ during the bankruptcy proceedings, and it's been approved for $5 million in debtor-in-possession financing from Tenor Capital, a firm that specializes in distressed lending.”

more »

Original Batmobile Sells for $4.6 Million

The original Batmobile from the 1960s ABC television series was auctioned Saturday for $4.6 million, Deadline.com reports. The sale took place at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction.

“Bidding lasted about 4 minutes and the winning bid was $4.2 million before fees were assessed,” the story reports.

George Barris, the car’s designer, was the seller.

“Barris bought the 1955 Lincoln Futura Concept car for $1 from the Ford Motor Co. and was given $15,000 and 15 days to gadgetize the handmade 19-foot two-seater,” the piece reports. “Some observers had predicted the car would sell for as much as $5 million.”

The TV series aired from 1966-1968.

batmobile1.jpg

more »

Why Fox Is Taking a New Approach to Promoting an Upcoming Drama Series

In a pioneering effort to reach viewers, Fox Television is promoting the new Kevin Bacon drama, "The Following," by urging viewers to set their DVRs to record the program, reports Deadline.com.

Instead of tune-in ads, Fox has turned to billboards and other advertising that encourages DVR viewership. One reason for the strategy is the nature of the drama. "The Following" is serialized and the storytelling needs to build a loyal audience that will want to continue week after week to keep up with the tale.

"Encouraging DVR viewing is two-edged sword as it gives the networks extra audiences most of which they can’t monetize since a large portion of viewers who time-shift shows skip some or most commercials when watching,” Deadline reports. “But with people’s viewing preferences for this season already firmly established, Fox opted for the unusual campaign to help its new show get on viewers’ season passes as a way to bring in regular audiences to it."

more »

NFL Reveals Who Will Sing National Anthem at Super Bowl

The lineup for the Super Bowl, set for Feb. 3 in New Orleans, is falling into place. The two teams will be the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens, following victories Sunday in the conference championship games. And the singer of the National Anthem will be Alicia Keys, the NFL has announced.

Super Bowl XLVII will be televised live by CBS.

Keys, a multiple Grammy winner, will be singing at the Super Bowl for the third time, more than anyone else, the league announced. Keys follows in the footsteps of other singing stars who have performed the National Anthem at the big game, including Kelly Clarkson, Billy Joel, Diana Ross, Neil Diamond, Whitney Houston, Harry Connick Jr., Garth Brooks, Natalie Cole, Luther Vandross, Jewel, Cher, Faith Hill, Mariah Carey and the Dixie Chicks.

At the 2005 Super Bowl in Jacksonville, Keys sang "America the Beautiful," and in 2008 in Arizona, as part of the pregame entertainment, she did a song from her album "Girl on Fire."

Beyonce is slated to headline the 2013 Super Bowl half-time entertainment.

If you're looking for who will sing the National Anthem at the 2014 Super Bowl, please click here.

Alicia-Keys.jpg

Alicia Keys 

more »

Walt Disney's Iger Gets a Pay Increase

Walt Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger received a bump in pay in 2012, Reuters reports, citing regulatory filings. Iger’s compensation totaled $40.2 million, an increase of 20%, the story reports.

Iger's pay included $2.5 million in base salary; $9.5 million in stock awards; and $24.3 million in a cash-and-stock bonus. Disney's financial results and stock performance were tied to 92% of Iger's total pay package, the story says.

"In our meetings with shareholders, there was broad agreement that Mr. Iger's performance as chief executive officer has been excellent," the company said.

Disney's stock has more than doubled since Iger succeeded Michael Eisner as CEO in 2005, and last year rose 33%, the piece notes.

 

more »

Investigators Say Armstrong May Have Lied to Oprah Winfrey

Investigators are saying Lance Armstrong may have lied to Oprah Winfrey during their interview on OWN, reports ABCNews.com.

In the first part of his confession, which aired Thursday night, Armstrong admitted for the first time that he won the Tour de France seven times while using performance-enhancing drugs.

Investigators are alleging that Armstrong wasn't entirely honest, citing his statement to Winfrey that he stopped doping in 2005. They claim that his blood values at the 2009 Tour de France showed clear blood manipulation.

He may have lied to protect himself criminally, the story notes.

"Federal authorities looking to prosecute criminal cases will look back at the 'last overt act' in which the crime was committed, they explained. If Armstrong doped in 2005 but not 2009, the statute of limitations may have expired on potential criminal activity," the piece reports.

 

more »

Actor Known for 'The Wire,' 'Homicide: Life on the Street' Dead at 52

An actor known for a series of TV roles including appearances on the HBO drama “The Wire” and NBC’s “Homicide: Life on the Street” has died. The New York Times reports that Robert F. Chew, 52, died Thursday at his home in Baltimore after suffering a heart attack.

Chew, who played drug kingpin Proposition Joe Stewart on “The Wire,” also appeared in the 2000 HBO miniseries “The Corner.”

Chew was already an established theater actor when he began appearing in TV. His television work was featured in shows created by or based on the works of Edward Burns and David Simon, the story says.

His character on "The Wire" sought to broker deals among drug dealers instead of relying on physical violence, according to the piece.

"We were looking for somebody that was sensible and even paternal, as almost a foil to the rest of the brutality and ambition that you were seeing in that underground economy,” Simon told The Times. “So you needed him to be incredibly human, funny, connected to whoever’s in the room, and yet he’s a gangster.”

robert-f-chew2.jpg

Robert F. Chew

 

more »

Dish Takes Out Ads Bashing CBS

Dish fired a new salvo in the battle over its Hopper with Sling DVR device, and the company took aim directly at CBS. Deadline.com reports that Dish took out full-page ads Sunday in a number of major newspapers touting the merits of the device and targeting CBS for pulling the plug on the prestigious CNET award that was initially set to be given to the device.

As previously reported, CBS, which owns the tech website CNET, stepped in earlier this month to prevent the awarding of the CNET Best of CES Award to the Hopper. CBS is suing Dish over the device.

Deadline reports: “In the ad, which first appeared on Dish’s website, the company says ‘CBS will go to any lengths to keep you from enjoying ad-skipping technology -- even censoring its own writers and throwing out their decision to name Hopper “Best In Show.”’”

Since the CBS action on the CNET award, the controversy has become focused on journalistic integrity, the piece notes.

“CNET media writer Greg Sandoval resigned as a result of CBS’s decision to bar Dish from getting the award,” the piece reports. “In statement issued earlier this week, the network said it ‘has been consistent on this situation from the beginning’ and called the debacle ‘an isolated and unique incident’ involving ‘a product that has been challenged as illegal’ by CBS ‘and nearly every other major media company as well.’”

dish-hopper-cbs-ad.jpg

more »

Barbara Walters Hospitalized

ABC News veteran Barbara Walters, who presides over the morning chat show “The View,” was hospitalized over the weekend after falling down stairs at a pre-inauguration party, the New York Post reports.

Walters, 83, suffered a cut to her forehead, the piece reports.

Walters was attending a party at the British ambassador's residence Saturday night when she tripped and fell. She was treated for injuries and released Sunday morning, but the network decided to cancel plans for her to cover President Obama's inauguration today, the piece notes.

"Barbara is alert and telling everyone what to do, which we all take as a very positive sign," an ABC News spokesman said.

barbara-walters.jpg

Barbara Walters

 

more »

Katy Perry Struts in Skimpy American Flag Outfit at Kids' Inaugural Concert

Singer Katy Perry is getting a lot of attention after wearing an attention-getting outfit during Saturday’s Kids’ Inaugural concert in Washington.

“The singer donned a red, white and blue bustier costume, complete with stars, stripes and a tiny top hat,” the New York Daily News reports. First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters, Sasha and Malia, were in the audience, the piece notes.

The concert, which also featured Usher, Far East Movement and Mindless Behavior, was a tribute to military families.

katy-perry-inaugural.jpg

Katy Perry performs at the Kids’ Inaugural concert

more »

Katie's Big 'Get': How Couric Scooped Oprah, Landed First Interview With Notre Dame Football Star Since Internet Hoax Story Broke

Katie Couric has lined up the first on-camera interview with Notre Dame football standout Manti Te'o since news of an Internet hoax involving his non-existent girlfriend made national headlines, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Te’o is a star linebacker who says he was the victim of the hoax.

Couric scooped many other interviewers who wanted to grab Te'o for his first interview, including Oprah Winfrey. Te'o's spokesman, Matthew Hiltzik, is a longtime representative for Couric, the story points out.

The interview will air Jan. 24 on "Katie," the story notes. Couric will speak with Te’o in a pre-recorded interview, and Te'o will appear on the show with his parents. Te’o’s parents, who say they were also victims of the hoax, will be speaking publicly for the first time about the story.

Thumbnail image for manti-te-o.jpg

Manti Te'o 

more »

Two Legendary Baseball Figures Die

Two of the legends of Major League Baseball died within hours of each other over the weekend, Newsday reports. Longtime Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver and bigger-than-life St. Louis Cardinals outfielder and first baseman Stan Musial both died Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013.

Weaver was 82 and Musial was 92.

Weaver managed the Orioles for 17 years, leading them to four American League pennants -- including three in a row from 1969-1971 -- and winning the World Series in 1970.

Musial is recognized as one of the greatest hitters of all time, piling up 475 home runs during his 22-year career and being named National League MVP three times. He played his entire career with the Cardinals and was a part of three World Series titles in the 1940s.

The two men -- both Hall of Famers -- don’t have much else in common, Newsday notes. “Weaver was a 5-foot-6 rabble rouser whose penchant for quarreling with umpires belied a cerebral approach to managing that has stood the test of time,” the piece reports. “Musial was a humble slugger with a funky batting stance who was beloved by Cardinals fans and respected by pretty much everyone else.”

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said of Weaver: "Earl was well known for being one of the game's most colorful characters with a memorable wit, but he was also amongst its most loyal."

Selig commented on Musial in a statement, saying: "Stan's life embodies baseball's unparalleled history and why this game is the national pastime. As remarkable as 'Stan the Man' was on the field, he was a true gentleman in life.”

stan-musial.jpg

Stan Musial

earl-weaver.jpg

Earl Weaver

 

more »

Time Warner Cable Bans Some Gun Ads

Some gun ads have been banned by Time Warner Cable, weeks after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., reports Multichannel News.

"We no longer accept ads showing semiautomatic weapons and guns pointed at people,” the company said in a statement. "We stand by this policy. If it's essential to a business owner to show this kind of imagery in their commercials, there are other advertising options in the marketplace."

The cable company's ban comes after the Sportsman Channel was criticized for airing an ad from the National Rifle Association. That NRA ad called President Obama an "elitist hypocrite" because he was against an NRA proposal to place guards with firearms in elementary schools while his daughters are protected by armed Secret Service guards, the story notes.

 

more »

Director of Charles Bronson's 'Death Wish' Movies Dead at 77

The veteran film director whose credits include three “Death Wish” features starring Charles Bronson has died, The Huffington Post reports. Michael Winner died today at his home in London after an illness, according to the report.

After debuting with the nudist film “Some Like It Cool” in 1962, the London-born Winner went on to focus on the action genre. He directed “The Mechanic,” “Scorpio” and “The Sentinel,” among other films.

Later in his career, he became a restaurant critic for The Sunday Times in London, writing the “Winner's Dinners” column.

“Winner had experienced health problems since getting a bacterial infection from bad oysters in 2007,” the story reports. “He wrote his final column in December, but refused to say goodbye forever.”

In his final column, Winner wrote: "Who knows, after Christmas I might make a comeback. How many times did Sinatra do it?"

Michael-Winner.jpg

Michael Winner

 

more »

CBS News Hires Condoleezza Rice as Contributor

CBS News has tapped former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a regular contributor, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

Rice will comment on national and international issues, the network said. She served under President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2009 as Secretary of State, and was national security adviser from 2001 to 2005.

Networks have hired other Bush administration figures as commentators, including Karl Rove and John Bolton, who are both working for Fox News, the piece points out.

condoleezza-rice.jpg

Condoleezza Rice

more »

Nickelodeon Orders 'Haunted Hathaways' to Series

Nickelodeon has given a 20-episode order to "The Haunted Hathaways," which is described as "The Brady Bunch" with a supernatural element, reports Deadline.com.

The show tracks a mom and her daughters who move to New Orleans, only to realize that their house is already inhabited -- by a ghost father and his two ghostly sons, the story says.

The show was picked up to pilot in August and comes from veteran comedy writer and producer Robert Peacock.

 

more »

Dodgers Leaning Toward Moving TV Broadcasts From Fox

The Los Angeles Dodgers are reportedly leaning toward switching from Fox Sports to Time Warner Cable in 2014, according to the Los Angeles Times' Dodgers Now blog.

The team's current contract with Fox expires at the end of the 2013 season, and the team had been in talks with the network about a new deal last fall. That was said to be worth at least $6 billion over 25 years, but the Fox exclusive negotiating window expired as Major League Baseball and the Dodgers dealt with their differences over revenue sharing, the story notes.

That allowed Time Warner Cable to start negotiating with the Dodgers. The team still needs to reach an agreement with MLB on how a new TV deal would affect the team's contribution to the MLB revenue-sharing plan, the piece notes.

 

more »

Lance Armstrong Interview Sets Ratings Records for Oprah's OWN Network

The first installment of Oprah Winfrey’s interview with former seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong was a ratings hit for Winfrey’s OWN cable network.

The network announced that the program -- part one of the two-part interview, with part two set to air tonight -- attracted 4.3 million total viewers -- including 3.2 million for the 9 p.m. broadcast and 1.1 million for a second airing.

The special edition of “Oprah’s Next Chapter” was the highest-rated weekday telecast in OWN history across all key demos, OWN said. Additionally, it was the highest-rated telecast in network history across all key male demos (1.88 M25-54, 1.59 M18-49, .98 M18-34).

OWN announced: “Thursday’s interview (9 p.m.) was the second-highest network telecast to date garnering 3.2 million total viewers, posting strong triple-digit growth across the key demos versus year ago numbers (+855% W25-54, +931% total viewers). The second airing (10:30 p.m.) earned an additional 1.1 million viewers. OWN’s top telecast is ‘Oprah’s Next Chapter’ featuring Whitney Houston’s family (March 11, 2012; 3.5 million viewers).”

The network added: “The conversation continues tonight as ‘Oprah and Lance Armstrong: The Worldwide Exclusive’ Part 2 airs Friday, January 18, from 9-10 p.m. ET/PT on OWN and will be simultaneously streaming LIVE worldwide on Oprah.com. In the interview, Winfrey speaks with Armstrong in Austin, Texas, about the alleged doping scandal, years of accusations of cheating and use of performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career.”

more »

Actress From CW's 'Arrow' Lands Lead in NBC's 'Dracula' Series

NBC has found the leading lady for its upcoming “Dracula” series, Deadline.com reports. Starring opposite Jonathan Rhys Meyers will be Jessica de Gouw, an Australian actress perhaps best known in the U.S. for her appearance as The Huntress on CW’s “Arrow.”

The NBC co-production with Sky Living has an order for 10 episodes.

Deadline reports: “Described as ‘Dangerous Liaisons meets The Tudors,’ the series is set in 1890s London. It centers on Dracula (Meyers), who arrives in London posing as American entrepreneur Allen Grayson, who maintains that he wants to bring modern science to Victorian society. In reality, he hopes to wreak revenge on the people who ruined his life centuries earlier, but he falls hopelessly in love with a woman who seems to be a reincarnation of his dead wife. De Gouw will play that woman, Mina Murray, a striking medical student who is engaged to Jonathan Harker but upon meeting Grayson both are instantly mesmerized by the other’s uncanny resemblance to someone from their past.”

The “Dracula” series comes from Tony Krantz’s Flame Ventures, Colin Callender’s Playground Entertainment, Universal TV and NBCU International Productions’ Carnival Films & Television, which is also behind “Downton Abbey,” the report notes.

jessica-de-gouw.jpg

Jessica de Gouw

more »

Studio Behind 'Django Unchained' Pulls Plug on Action Figures

A set of “Django Unchained” action figures appears to be going off the market, with the studio behind the movie, The Weinstein Co., announcing that it is pulling the figures from distribution, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“Re-imagining the slave narrative should be left to the professionals. That was the word Friday when the Weinstein Co. announced that it has asked toymaker NECA to discontinue the ‘Django Unchained’ action figure dolls after receiving complaints that the dolls were offensive and trivialized the horrors of slavery,” the piece reports.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, through his National Action Network, has called for a boycott of the figures. Civil rights activist, Naji Ali, director of Project Islamic Hope, called for pulling the toy line, saying at a news conference: "I actually enjoyed the movie, but we cannot support this type of commercialization."

In a statement, The Weinstein Co. said: "In light of the reaction to the 'Django Unchained' action figures, we are removing them from distribution. We have tremendous respect for the audience and it was never our intent to offend anyone.

"They were meant to be collectibles for people 17 years and older, which is the audience for the film."

The studio indicated that action figures have been made for all Quentin Tarantino movies, and that production of the new line occurred as a routine step in the marketing process. The “Django Unchained” line features “8-inch versions of plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), slave-turned-freeman Django (Jamie Foxx), dentist-turned-bounty-hunter Dr. King Schultz (Waltz), house servant Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) and slave Broomhilda von Shaft (Kerry Washington),” the Times notes.

"Django Unchained" is closing in on $130 million in U.S. box office receipts, becoming Tarantino’s top-grossing movie of all time.

more »

Lower Numbers for Second Night of 'Idol'

Fox’s “American Idol” lost viewers from night one to night two, based on Nielsen overnights. Thursday night’s two-hour installment delivered a 5.6 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, down from the 6.0 for Wednesday’s premiere, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

Still, “Idol” was easily the top-rated show of the night, pushing Fox to a big win for prime time. Fox’s 5.6 average for the evening in viewers 18-49 placed the network far ahead of the pack, trailed by ABC (2.2 average), CBS (1.9), Univision (1.6) and 1.5). Fox’s win in total viewers was equally impressive, with the network averaging 16.2 million to 9.0 million for CBS, 7.2 million for ABC, 3.9 million for Univision and 3.9 million for NBC.

CBS, which aired all repeats, had the second-highest-rated show of the night in the 18-49 demo, with a rerun of “The Big Bang Theory” delivering a 3.3 average rating.

ABC’s second-place performance was highlighted by a 2.9 average in 18-49 for “Grey’s Anatomy” (down three-tenths from a week ago) and a 2.6 for “Scandal” (down two-tenths). “Last Resort” managed only a 1.0, down two-tenths.

NBC’s main sign of life was a 1.9 for “Parks and Recreation” in the 18-49 demo, a season high and a four-tenths improvement from its previous original episode; along with a 2.1 for “The Office,” although that represented a drop of one-tenth from a week earlier. “30 Rock” managed only a 1.3 (down two-tenths from last week), while “1600 Penn” and “Rock Center” both settled for 1.2 averages.

more »

Sinclair Chief Unveils New Station Group Venture

Sinclair Broadcast Group President and CEO David Smith is behind a new station group venture built around small-market stations, B&C reports. Playing a key role in managing the privately held enterprise will be Communications Corp. of America CEO Steve Pruett.

“The principals in the new venture, which is as yet untitled, seek to launch in the coming months with at least 20 stations,” the story reports. “Smith called talk of the new venture ‘rank speculation.’ He would not comment further, citing his role in a publicly traded company.”

Pruett chairs the Fox affiliates board. He could not be reached for a comment, the piece notes.

“The Barrington station group is on the block and is believed to have attracted the interest of the new venture,” the piece notes. “Barrington's executives could not be reached for comment.”

The report adds: “The CCA stations are also being shopped. CCA owns or operates 25 stations, in Texas, Louisiana and Evansville, Ind., and their market size and affiliate mix could make them a fit for the new group.”

 

more »

HBO Series Parts Ways With Actress -- Her Scenes Will Be Reshot

An HBO series is parting ways with one of the actresses on the show, who will be replaced and will have her scenes reshot, EW.com’s Inside TV reports.

The actress is Rosemarie DeWitt, who is leaving the pay-cable channel’s series “The Newsroom.”

“The ‘United States of Tara’ and ‘Mad Men’ actress is leaving the program after shooting only a couple episodes from the Aaron Sorkin cable news drama’s upcoming second season,” the report notes. “She will be replaced by another actress and the production plans to re-shoot her character’s scenes.”

DeWitt has been playing a recurring role on the show -- litigator Rebecca Halliday. “One source says storyline changes shifted the role’s production timeline and created a conflict for DeWitt (as a recurring character she wasn’t contracted to stay available throughout the whole season like a series regular),” the piece reports.

HBO issued a statement saying: “As the production schedule for season two of ‘The Newsroom’ has shifted, Rosemarie DeWitt has encountered scheduling conflicts and will no longer be able to continue in her role.”

rosemarie-dewitt.jpg

Rosemarie DeWitt

 

more »

Video: Woman Who Has Been Eviscerated Over the Years by Lance Armstrong for Telling the Truth About His Doping Is Hurt and Mad as Hell That Armstrong Did Not Come Clean About Her Accusations in His Interview With Oprah

At least one person is hurt and mad as hell about what Lance Armstrong refused to tell Oprah Winfrey during Winfrey's interview with Armstrong on Thursday night, Jan. 17, 2013.

Betsy Andreu is the wife of Frankie Andreu, who used to be a cycling teammate of Armstrong's. The Andreus say that they were present in 1996 when Armstrong told doctors at Indiana University Hospital, who were going to treat his testicular cancer, that he had taken a number of performance-enhancing drugs that were banned by the federation that runs cycling.

In a deposition in 2005, Armstrong aggressively testified under oath that Betsy's story about what and her husband heard Armstrong tell the doctors was not true.

During Thursday's part 1 of Armstrong's interview with Oprah, Armstrong said he recently had a 40-minute telephone conversation with Betsy and Frankie.

Oprah then asked Armstrong whether what Betsy says she heard Armstrong tell the doctors was true.

Armstrong answered, "I'm not going to take that one on. I'm laying down on that one."

Oprah: "Was Betsy lying?"

Armstrong (shaking his head from side to side): "I'm just not -- I'm gonna put that one down. She asked me and she asked me not to talk about the details of the call. It was a confidential, personal conversation, 40 minutes long. I spoke to Frankie as well."

Later, in a conversation with Anderson Cooper on CNN, Betsy Andreu was hurt and furious that Armstrong hadn't come clean about the conversation she and her husband have long claimed they heard that day in 1996 at the Indiana University Hospital:   

more »

Nat Geo Under Pressure to Add Gay Disclaimer to Show

The Nat Geo channel is being lobbied to add a disclaimer to an upcoming series, reports the New York Post. A former Boy Scout wants Nat Geo to indicate as part of the show "Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout?" that the Boy Scouts of America's policy toward gays is discriminatory, the story reports.

Will Oliver, an Eagle Scout, has started a petition on Change.org that urges Nat Geo to "denounce the Boy Scouts of America’s anti-gay policy” with a disclaimer. The show is set to debut in the spring.

The petition has drawn more than 3,000 signatures.

Oliver, 20, a student at Northwestern University, came out of the closet after he left the scouting organization, the story says.

“The thing that gets me is the image of [Nat Geo’s] show and branding being all about how Boy Scouts are tough,” Oliver said. “I’ve done some pretty gritty things. ... I’m gay and I’m an Eagle Scout and I did it. I want it to be clear that being tough and being a Boy Scout does not exclude gay people.”

Nat Geo responded by saying it doesn't discriminate.

"As it relates to our upcoming show with the Boy Scouts, we certainly appreciate all points of view on the topic, but when people see our show they will realize it has nothing to do with this debate -- and is, in fact, a competition series between individual Scouts and civilians," the network said.

more »

Heather Locklear Joins Legal Drama

Actress Heather Locklear, best known for her work on "Dynasty," "Spin City" and "Melrose Place," is joining the legal drama "Franklin & Bash," reports Deadline.com.

In the upcoming third season of the TNT show, Locklear will co-star as Rachel King, a trial lawyer “with stiletto heels and clothes tailored within an inch of their life,” the story reports.

Her character will fill the spot left open with the departure of Garcelle Beauvais' character, Hanna Linden.

The legal drama stars Breckin Meyer as Franklin and Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Bash.

Thumbnail image for heather-locklear.jpg

Heather Locklear

more »

Meredith Vieira Reportedly in Discussions for a Daytime Talk Show, Could Compete Head-to-Head With Her Old Show

Meredith Vieira is reportedly in talks with NBCUniversal about hosting a syndicated talk show, possibly for a fall 2014 debut, The New York Times' Media Decoder reports.

Vieira's show could air at 11 a.m. in some markets, which would place it head-to-head against "The View," where she was a co-host for the show’s first nine years. She left that program to replace Katie Couric on NBC’s "Today." As Couric now hosts her own daytime talk show, the two could also end up competing, the piece points out.

NBC syndication executives are most likely positioning the show to air in the slot occupied by "The Jeff Probst Show," which in many markets airs at 2 p.m.

NBC's 10 owned-and-operated stations carry Probst's show, but it's underperforming when compared with other new shows, including Couric's program, the piece points out.

more »

'Breaking Bad' Actress to Play Michael J. Fox's TV Wife in New NBC Comedy

An actress known for her role on the AMC drama “Breaking Bad” will play Michael J. Fox's wife in a new NBC comedy series, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Betsy Brandt, who plays Marie Schrader in the AMC series, joins the untitled single-camera sitcom.

The new NBC project is inspired by Fox's life, and was given an order for 22 episodes by NBC. Fox will play Mike, a husband and father of three who deals with his family and career as a TV newsman while also coping with Parkinson's disease.

Brandt's character Annie is described as tough, but with a goofy side.

“Brandt joins a cast that includes ‘Wonderfalls'‘ Katie Finneran as Leigh, Mike's younger sister; Conor Romero (‘American Gangster’) as Ian, Mike's teenage son; and newcomer Jack Gore, who will play Graham, Mike's youngest son,” THR reports. “’Treme's’ Wendell Pierce will play Harris Green, Mike's close friend and old boss at WNBC's ‘5 O'Clock News.’”

betsy-brandt.jpg

Betsy Brandt

 

more »

Lance Armstrong, Calling Himself 'Deeply Flawed,' Admits to Doping -- and Bullying

Lance Armstrong unequivocally admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during an interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired Thursday night -- an admission that came after years of aggressively denying allegations, reports CNN.com.

At the start of the interview, Winfrey asked him point-blank whether he used drugs ranging from EPO to testosterone. To each question, Armstrong answered yes. The second part of the interview airs tonight, Friday, on Winfrey’s cable channel OWN.

Armstrong blamed only himself for his decisions, and described himself as "deeply flawed" and a "bully." He admitted to persecuting former close associates who publicly alleged he doped.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which banned Armstrong from competing in October, said the interview was a "small step in the right direction," the story notes.

But it also expressed some skepticism, with USADA CEO Travis Tygart saying, "If he is sincere in his desire to correct his past mistakes, he will testify under oath about the full extent of his doping activities."

Some of those he had attacked said they feel vindicated, including Betsy Andreu, the wife of cyclist Frankie Andreu, who had said she overheard Armstrong discussing using performance-enhancing drugs to a doctor in 1996. But Betsy Andreu was far from satisfied with Armstrong’s admissions.

"This was a guy who used to be my friend, who decimated me," she told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Thursday night. "He could have come clean. He owed it to me. He owes it to the sport that he destroyed."

Video of the CNN interview can be seen here, in a separate report on her appearance with Cooper.

 

more »

Tribune Names Veteran TV Executive Peter Liguori as CEO

Signaling the importance of the television business to the future of the company, Tribune has officially named longtime television executive Peter Liguori as its chief executive officer, reports Bloomberg.

Tribune, which emerged from bankruptcy at the end of 2012, is replacing Eddy Hartenstein, who remains the publisher of its Los Angeles Times newspaper.

Liguori, 52, "has the talent and experience to lead the company forward, and has a track record of success," said Bruce Karsh, president and co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management LP. Karsh was named Tribune’s chairman.

Liguori was most recently chief operating officer of Discovery Communications and previously was president of entertainment for Fox Broadcasting and president and CEO of FX Networks.

peter-liguori2.jpg

Peter Liguori

more »

CBS Orders Jerry Bruckheimer/Toni Collette Pilot

Actress Toni Collette is set to star in a new pilot produced by Jerry Bruckheimer for CBS, Deadline.com reports. The network ordered the pilot for the drama project "Hostages."

It's CBS's first official drama pilot order of the current cycle, the story notes.

The project, which is based on an Israeli format, is about a family caught in a political conspiracy. Collette will play Ellen, a surgeon who operates on the U.S. president. When her family is taken hostage, she has to save their lives.

While the show was developed in Israel, it wasn't produced in the country, and a U.S. adaptation was brought to Bruckheimer TV, which then bought the rights, the story notes.

"'Hostages' is among the slew of projects with big commitments this season that started casting before a formal pilot order," the story says. "Another hourlong CBS project whose pickup is pending, 'Beverly Hills Cop,’ also cast its lead role with Brandan T. Jackson ahead of a pilot greenlight."

 

more »

Even After Election Debacle, Fox News Re-Ups Karl Rove

Fox News has renewed a deal with Karl Rove, keeping him on as a Fox News Channel contributor through the 2016 election, reports Politico.com.

Rove joined Fox in 2008, and is one of the network's most popular commentators, the story says.

He made headlines on election night last year, when he refused to accept Fox News' call of the election going to President Obama.

The move comes one day after word surfaced that Fox News was adding liberal politician Dennis Kucinish to its lineup of contributors, as previously reported.

 

more »

Was J-Lo's High-Profile Magazine Spread Timed to Upstage Mariah's 'Idol' Premiere -- And Did It Backfire?

Jennifer Lopez is unhappy with her People magazine cover, reports the New York Post's Page Six. Lopez, 43, feels the photo makes her look old and haggard, the story says.

Whether it’s intentional or not, the cover story on the former “American Idol” judge coincides with Mariah Carey's debut on "Idol" as a judge.

Lopez's manager, Benny Medina, said he's happy with the magazine's spread. "We worked closely with the editors of People and we are very pleased with cover photo and the results all around," he said, according to the article.

But the piece also quotes a source saying: “Her camp feels she looks old and haggard.” The piece adds: “Friends are also comparing the singer and former ‘American Idol’ judge’s wide-eyed look and stick-straight hair to eccentric 70-year-old fashion designer Betsey Johnson.”

The People magazine article discusses J-Lo’s life after splitting from Marc Anthony. Fashion & Style notes that Lopez, who ended her seven-year marriage to Anthony in 2011, is now dating 25-year-old choreographer Casper Smart.

The Fashion & Style report notes that Lopez talked to People about dating a younger man: "I ask him, 'Why don't you go find a young girlfriend and get out of here? What do you want with me?' And you think, 'How long is this gonna be?' You think, OK, in 10 years I'm going to be like this and you're going to be like that' and … men at that age are … I think all different things.”

Lopez also said of Smart: "I just got out of a big, heavy, devastating thing, and he's helped me heal. He's been there for me."

“We're loving this moment right now,” she added. “We make each other happy."

jennifer-lopez-graces-people-magazine-cover.jpg

more »

Lena Dunham, Howard Stern Bury the Hatchet

Golden Globe winner Lena Dunham and radio shock jock Howard Stern are on good terms after the “Girls” creator and star called in to Stern’s show and “graciously accepted the shock jock's apology for the on-air rant he gave last week calling her a ‘little fat chick,’ among other things,” the New York Daily News reports.

Stern had already apologized for his comments, as we reported earlier this week.

During the phone call, Stern assured Dunham that he is a fan of the HBO series and explained that his initial critique came after he had watched only the first two episodes.

Said Stern, who has since seen a few more episodes: "I realize: Not only am I addicted, but I totally get you."

Stern added: "I'm in love with you and your character. I just wanted to tell you that I love you, and I think you're terrific."

Dunham focused on Stern’s comments about her weight, saying: "I'm not that fat, Howard. I’m not super-thin, but I'm thin for, like, Detroit."

But Dunham, who has taken the whole episode in good humor, reassured Stern that she harbors no ill will. Said Dunham: "I appreciate your effort to rectify (this). Whether you'd done that or not, I'd have remained a (Howard Stern) enthusiast.”

more »

Original 'Dear Abby' Dead at 94

The woman who originated the successful advice column "Dear Abby" died Wednesday at 94, reports TMZ.com. According to her representative, Pauline Phillips had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Phillips’ daughter Jeanne said of her mother, "I have lost my mother, my mentor and my best friend."

Jeanne Phillips, who writes the advice column now, added: "My mother leaves very big high heels to fill with a legacy of compassion, commitment and positive social change. I will honor her memory every day by continuing this legacy."

Pauline Phillips started the column in 1956, writing it under the pen name Abigail Van Buren. A similar column called "Ask Ann Landers" was created by Phillips' twin sister, Eppie Lederer.

Pauline Phillips said she came up with her pen name by combining the name of the biblical figure Abigail with the name of U.S. President Martin Van Buren.

Pauline-Phillips-in-1961.jpg

Pauline Phillips in 1961

 

more »

One More Disgrace for Lance Armstrong

On the same day that Lance Armstrong’s eagerly anticipated interview with Oprah Winfrey is scheduled to air, the disgraced cyclist suffered another setback with the news that he is no longer an Olympic medalist.

A spokesman for the International Olympic Committee said the organization has stripped Armstrong of his bronze medal from the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, CNN reports. The committee has asked Armstrong to return the medal.

As previously reported, Armstrong is expected to admit using performance-enhancing drugs in a two-part interview with Oprah Winfrey, scheduled to air tonight and Friday as part of “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” on her OWN network.

The International Cycling Union stripped the cyclist of his seven Tour de France championships in October. The IOC announced at that time that it would review evidence against Armstrong, who placed third in the men’s individual time trial and 13th in the men’s individual road race at the Sydney Games.

The committee said today that Armstrong has been disqualified retroactively from both events.

Said IOC spokesman Mark Adams: "We have written to Armstrong asking him to return the medal." He noted that the U.S. Olympic Committee had been notified and would be responsible for retrieving the medal.

CNN adds: “The decision was made ‘in principle’ at a meeting of the IOC executive board in December, Adams said. The committee did not act on the decision until it received confirmation from the International Cycling Union that Armstrong was not appealing that agency's decision.”

more »

Mariah vs. Nicki: Diva Showdown Fails to Ignite Viewership for 'Idol' Premiere ... but the Heck With That -- Who Won the Fight?

Fox’s “American Idol” premiered Wednesday night to viewer numbers that were well below last year’s premiere -- 19% below in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights -- despite the hotly anticipated clash of the divas between judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj.

See our separate ratings report for all the numbers. But meanwhile, what matters to many viewers is who won what’s being called the “Great ‘American Idol’ Diva-Off.”

EW.com is conducting a reader poll to determine a winner. The website reports: “Both had their claws out as soon as ‘American Idol‘s’ season premiere began last night. Mariah proved herself to be a master of passive aggression, sweet-sounding condescension, and well-timed eyerolls. Nicki, on the other hand, went with straight-up aggressive aggression, steamrollering Mariah (and the rest of the judges) whenever they tried to get a word in edgewise and at one point even muttering her new favorite litany -- “She’s a bitch, she’s a bitch, she’s a bitch” -- in Mariah’s direction.”

The report adds: “Clearly, the feud between these two hasn’t actually been trumped up by the media; it seems obvious that they can’t stand each other, and that their sniping will only get nastier as season 12 progresses.”

So who was ahead after round one in EW’s reader poll? Oddly, at the time we last checked in around midday today, it was the forgotten judge in all this, Keith Urban!

But Carey was a close second, with Minaj clearly falling well short of the level of support for Carey.

Here are the numbers from EW as of our last check before publishing:

“Who won last night's 'American Idol' diva-off?”

-- Poor, poor Keith Urban: 30.91%
-- Mariah Carey: 29.3%
-- I'm not sure, but I think the audience lost it: 26.13%
-- Nicki Minaj: 13.65%

more »

Wednesday Prime Time: Lowest-Rated 'Idol' Premiere Since Season One

The most closely watched event of broadcast prime time Wednesday night was the season 12 premiere of “American Idol,” and the program delivered both good news and bad news for Fox.

The good news: “Idol” was the top-rated show of the night and Fox scored a big win for prime time overall, based on Nielsen overnights. The bad news: It was the lowest-rated season premiere for “Idol” since its first season, when it aired in the summer, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

The program scored a 6.0 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, delivering 17.9 million total viewers -- with both numbers easily topping the night. The demo average was down 19% from the number the show pulled a year ago -- a 7.4. Numbers for “Idol” were time zone adjusted, while other broadcast numbers for the night are preliminary.

Fox easily won prime time with a 6.0 average rating in viewers 18,49, followed by ABC (2.5 average), CBS (2.1), Univision (1.6), CW (1.0) and, in a rare sixth-place finish, NBC (0.8). NBC aired an all-repeat lineup, but even so it’s unusual for any of the major broadcast networks to dip to a level where they’re beaten by CW.

Fox also scored an easy win in total viewers, with its 17.9 million average well ahead of CBS (10.7 million), ABC (7.5 million), Univision (3.9 million), NBC (2.9 million) and CW (2.6 million).

CW was bolstered by “Arrow,” which improved one-tenth of a ratings point from its previous original episode to a 1.1 average in 18-49. “Supernatural” held steady with a 0.9.

ABC had the night’s second-highest-rated show, behind “Idol.” “Modern Family” came in with a 4.3 average in viewers 18-49, which was off four-tenths of a point from last week. Also on ABC, “Suburgatory” delivered a 2.4, down two-tenths; “Nashville” pulled a 2.2, up one-tenth; “The Middle” slipped to a 2.3, down one-tenth; and “The Neighbors” settled for a 1.9, off two-tenths.

CBS ran with a repeat of “NCIS” up against the first hour of “Idol” at 8 p.m. and settled for a 1.1 in the 18-49 demo. Against “Idol’s” second hour, a fresh installment of “Criminal MInds” came through with a 2.8, down three-tenths of a point from the previous original; while “CSI” won the 10 p.m. hour with a 2.3, ticking up one-tenth.

more »

Video: Kim and Kourtney Kardashian Give a Divorce Update to David Letterman

In an appearance Wednesday on CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman,” Kim and Kourtney Kardashian fielded questions from Letterman on Kim’s brief marriage to and still-pending divorce from NBA player Kris Humphries. Here’s a video clip:

more »

How Chelsea Handler's Bathroom Humor Got Her in Trouble With Her Comcast Bosses

Chelsea Handler went too far for a laugh on her E! show, earning the wrath of her bosses at Comcast, the New York Post reports.

Handler targeted the “Today” show’s Al Roker -- whose bowel problems have been in the headlines lately -- and dragged “Today’s” Matt Lauer into the mud while she was at it.

“Roker recently confessed to ‘Dateline’ that he once ‘pooped’ his pants at the White House, and news of the accident, ahem, exploded online,” the Post reports. “Handler responded with a zinger on her E! show, ‘Chelsea Lately,’ saying, ‘This isn’t the first time a “Today” show cast member was in the news about this sensitive subject. For years it was common knowledge that Matt Lauer spent every morning [s----ing] all over Ann Curry.’”

The piece notes that the joke did not go over well with Handler’s bosses at Comcast, which owns both NBC and E!.

A source close to Handler’s show is quoted as saying: “Chelsea’s writers were warned to lay off Matt. They don’t want them making more fun of Matt and the Ann Curry situation right now.”

Lauer has been subject to public scorn since Curry was kicked off “Today,” the piece notes. And Handler has a history of difficult relations with the “Today” show.

“In November, the comedienne canceled an appearance on ‘Today’ by calling in hours before she was supposed to be on the show, due to what her rep told us was ‘food poisoning,’” the story reports. “But Handler said on ‘Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’ later the same day, ‘That was a lie. I wasn’t sick,’ and she apologized while getting in a swipe at ‘Today’ hosts Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford, by calling them ‘Hoda Kota-ba and Kathie Lee Jifford.’”

A spokesman for E! denied the report, according to the Post. The spokesman reportedly said of the warning to lay off Lauer: “This is absolutely false, and no such request was made.”

more »

Syfy Cancels Drama Series

Syfy has canceled a drama series after failing to pump up viewership numbers for the show, reports EW.com's Inside TV. The network tried switching showrunners between seasons one and two of “Alphas,” but the moved failed to produce higher ratings.

The show’s cancellation is not a surprise, the piece says, noting that the series’ second-season debut in summer 2012 attracted only 1.7 million viewers, a sizable dropoff from the season-one debut.

“Syfy has decided not to renew 'Alphas' for a third season. We’ve been proud to present this entertaining, high-quality series for two seasons and to work with an incredible ensemble of talented actors, producers and creatives as well as our partners at BermanBraun Television," the network said in a statement. “We’d like to thank the show’s dedicated regular viewers for their tremendous support.”

 

more »

Alec Baldwin Reveals Why He Almost Left '30 Rock'

Alec Baldwin tells Rolling Stone magazine that he considered leaving the NBC comedy series "30 Rock" after its fifth season because of weak writing.

"Though even anemic '30 Rock' writing is still better than everybody else's writing. I go, 'I'm going to get the fuck out of here, I'm done,' because I'm an employee, I don't have any say," Baldwin said.

But he had met his second wife around the same time and didn't want to disrupt his routine in New York, he adds. The show will wrap on Jan. 31, concluding its seven-season run.

"So season five ends, and I'm saying, 'Next year, I'm done,' then I come back, and season six is really good -- we all had fun again," Baldwin says in the interview.

Baldwin added that show creator Tina Fey has had a more hectic life since the birth of her second child in 2011. "This year was the first time she came in and laid down on the couch on set, and you could tell, she's a mom,” he said. “She's fucking wiped out.”

 

more »

Fox News Taps Liberal Politician as Contributor

Fox News Channel has hired a nationally known liberal politician as a contributor. The New York Times' Media Decoder reports that the cable channel has tapped former Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich, making him one of the highest-profile liberal voices on a channel that's a favorite of conservatives.

Kucinich, who ran for president twice, is known for his antiwar views. He lost his bid for re-election to the House of Representatives last year.

“Through 16 years in Congress and two presidential campaigns, Fox News has always provided me with an opportunity to share my perspective with its enormous viewership,” Kucinich said in a statement.

Other liberal commentators on Fox News include former Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana and community organizer Sally Kohn.

dennis-kucinich.jpg

Dennis Kucinich

 

more »

TNT Greenlights Steven Bochco Drama

Steven Bochco, a pioneer of the crime drama genre who created "NYPD Blue" and "Hill Street Blues," has received an order from TNT for a drama pilot, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The project, "Murder in the First," is set in San Francisco, and will follow season-long cases, rather than wrapping up mysteries in one episode.

The major characters will include two San Francisco Police Department homicide detectives and a Silicon Valley genius who's the CEO of a tech firm -- and a suspect -- along with a defense attorney and prosecutors, the piece reports.

more »

Report: Heartbreaking Story About College Football Standout Is a Hoax

One of the most high-profile personal stories of the recently concluded college football season turns out to be a hoax. Deadspin.com reports that the heartbreaking story about Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o playing while his girlfriend suffered from leukemia and then died turns out to be fiction, as the woman never existed.

In the wake of the report, speculation has swirled around Te’o, with one of the biggest questions being whether he helped perpetrate the hoax or was a victim of it -- as he has indicated in a statement.

The story gained attention during the football season as Te’o emerged as the defensive player of the year and a contender for the Heisman Trophy, while Notre Dame went undefeated en route to the BCS Championship Game before losing to Alabama. Te’o ultimately finished second in the Heisman voting to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.

The story of his suffering girlfriend, who supposedly died in September, played out in reports on ABC and ESPN and in a story in Sports Illustrated, The Hollywood Reporter notes. Te’o’s grandmother, meanwhile, had also died, which was an actual event that became a part of the story.

After Notre Dame scored an upset victory over Michigan State, Te'o told ABC that he "couldn't do without the support of my family and my girlfriend's family. … "I miss them. I miss them. But I know that I'll see them again one day."

Deadspin got in contact with the woman whose photo was used to portray Te'o's fictional girlfriend, who was called Lennay Kekua. The woman, whose name wasn't released, was "horrified to find that she had become the face of a dead woman." She said the photo was from her Facebook account, and she had emailed it to a high school classmate, who told her he wanted to cheer up a cousin in the hospital.

The classmate is a former high school quarterback who apparently has a connection to Te'o, although it's not clear what their relationship was.

Te'o released a statement explaining that the situation was "incredibly embarrassing."

"I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online," Te'o said in the statement. "We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her. To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating."

The statement continues: "If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was. Fortunately, I have many wonderful things in my life, and I'm looking forward to putting this painful experience behind me as I focus on preparing for the NFL Draft."

manti-te-o.jpg

Manti Te’o

more »

Lifetime Continues to Scrap Programs -- Casualty List Now Includes 'Secret Lives of Wives'

Lifetime will not move forward with "The Secret Lives of Wives," a pilot starring Kim Raver of “Grey’s Anatomy” and based on a book of the same name by Iris Krasnow, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The drama was set to look at the truth behind the marriages of four women: Michelle (played by Raver); Reed (Salli Richardson of “Criminal Minds”); Keaton (Amber Clayton of “Three Rivers”); and Jessie (Lauren Bittner of “Paranormal Activity 3”).

Lifetime ordered the pilot in July, a month after NBC ordered a drama from Jerry Bruckheimer with the similar title of "The Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives." That project remains in contention at NBC.

Lifetime has been trimming its lineup lately, including canceling its signature series “Drop Dead Diva,” as previously reported, and scrapping a reboot of “Army Wives,” the piece notes.

The cable channel still has three drama pilots in contention: "Cinnamon Girl," "HR" and "Witches of East End."

 

more »

Real-Life Inspiration Behind James Bond to Be Subject of BBC America Drama

The real-life inspiration behind James Bond will be the subject of an original four-part BBC America drama, the network has announced.

Says the announcement, "Since Casino Royale was published in 1953, the world has been fascinated with James Bond and last year the film franchise celebrated its 50th anniversary. [The BBC America original drama] 'Fleming' (working title) takes a no holds barred look at Ian Fleming, the man behind the James Bond legend whose real life was as exciting, eventful and sexually charged as his famous creation."

The annoucement adds, "Dominic Cooper ('The Devil’s Double,' 'An Education,' 'The History Boys') will play Ian Fleming, a charming, sophisticated maverick whose dilettanti, pleasure seeking life was turned around by WWII and led to the creation of the best known spy the world has ever known.

"... The outbreak of WWII saw a young Fleming as an unsuccessful stockbroker already with a failed army career behind him, living off his rich family while indulging his passions of alcohol, erotic literature and sexual conquests.

"But having been forced into Naval Intelligence through family connections, Fleming found a calling. Utilizing his vivid imagination, charm and mischievous sense of humor he was responsible for some of the most outrageous counter-intelligence missions against the Nazis, full of danger and intrigue, the experience of which would form the basis of the Bond books."

Deadline.com adds in a separate story that "British actress Annabelle Wallis has been cast in Sky Atlantic and BBC America’s just-announced four-part biopic 'Fleming' ... as Muriel Wright, a woman with whom Fleming had a love affair and who some believe to be the original inspiration for the Bond Girl."

Thumbnail image for annabellewallis.jpg

Annabelle Wallis

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for dominic cooper.jpg

Dominic Cooper

more »

BET's Spoof of 'Real Housewives' Bows to Big Audience -- Pointing the Way to a Change of Direction for the Channel

BET's "Real Husbands of Hollywood," a spoof of the "Real Housewives" franchise, drew a big audience for its Tuesday debut, with 4.1 million viewers tuning in, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

The scripted series stars Kevin Hart, Robin Thicke, Boris Kodjoe and J.B. Smoove as men married to famous performers.

The debut of the show trails only that of the 2011 premiere of "The Game," the comedy series BET picked up after it was canceled by the CW, which drew 7.7 million viewers on BET.

The strong turnout for "Real Husbands" "indicates that BET, which traditionally has focused on unscripted and music-oriented programming, is on its way to establishing a foothold in the scripted comedy area," the story notes.

BET also did well Tuesday night with another new program, “Second Generation Wayans.” Leading out from “Real Husbands,” “Wayans” delivered 3.4 million viewers. Tallying up one encore airing each for “Wayans” and “Husbands,” the programs delivered a combined audience of 11 million viewers Tuesday night, the piece reports.

more »

Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage Moving Banner Behind 'Gossip Girl' and 'The O.C.' to ABC Studios After Long Stay at Warner Bros.

Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage are finalizing a deal to move their Fake Empire banner to ABC Studios from Warner Bros. TV, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Under what’s being described as a lucrative three-year deal, the pair will be leaving behind their more than decade-long relationship with Warner Bros. TV, the story says.

Fake Empire, which grew out of a previous incarnation called College Hill Pictures, has created shows such as The CW's "Hart of Dixie" and "The Carrie Diaries." College Hill Pictures, formed in 2003, was behind “The O.C.,” “Gossip Girl” and “Chuck.” The company evolved into Fake Empire in 2010.

The deal with ABC Studios will start in June, after the pair’s current three-year deal at Warner Bros. ends.

"Proving in demand once again, Fake Empire currently had six projects in development at a collection of networks this development season," the story notes. "For ABC Studios, this is said to be part of a bid for big names as well as fare across the network fold. Warner Bros. TV has been more aggressive in this arena in recent years, luring both 'Arrow’s’ Greg Berlanti and 'Cougar Town’s’ Bill Lawrence away from ABC."

more »

Here's Something That Has Gone UP in Value Because of Lance Armstrong: The Price of a 30-Second Commercial on 'Oprah's Next Chapter'

Here's something connected with Lance Armstrong that's actually gone UP in value due to his confessing that he took performance-enhancing drugs when he was a professional cyclist.

It's the price of a 30-second commercial in the upcoming two-part interview with Armstrong that Oprah Winfrey conducted for her program "Oprah's Next Chapter" on her fledgling OWN network.

According to sources familiar with the ad pricing for the show, a 30-second spot duing the interview is going for somewhere around the $40,000 range for those advertisers seeking to be in the show as a one-time opportunity. That would be measured against the audience of adults 18-49 who will tune in to the interview.

Comparatively, "Oprah's Next Chapter" usually gets about $12,000-$15,000 per 30-second commercial in the demo.

Oprah's two-part interview with Armstrong airs on OWN on Thursday and Friday nights, Jan. 17-18, 2013.

more »

'Battlestar Galactica's' Ron Moore Closes In on Series Order for Dark Thriller

"Battlestar Galactica" executive producer Ron Moore is closing in on a 13-episode series order from Syfy for the dark thriller "Helix," reports Deadline.com.

The drama is about scientists in an Arctic research facility who investigate a possible disease outbreak and try to protect the world from an epidemic, the story says.

The order would mark a return for Moore to Syfy, which aired "Battlestar Galactica" and his prequel series "Caprica."

The cable network is finalizing a deal for a 13-episode straight-to-series order for "Helix," a strategy Syfy has been exploring that skips the traditional pilot process, the piece adds.

more »

Bravo Going to 'Extremes' With New Parenting Show

Bravo has given the green light to a new series with the working title "Extreme Guide to Parenting," which examines parents with unusual parenting styles, reports Deadline.com.

"Some techniques include attachment, parents who breastfeed their children until age 4 … or older; helicopter, in which parents are so protective they use disguises to monitor their offspring’s every move; and fiercely competitive, parents who enroll their children in Mandarin Chinese courses before they can spell," the story notes.

The project fits a trend among TV series to show "extreme" themes, from extreme couponing to extreme makeovers, the piece notes.

more »

Barry Wallach Resigns as Head of NBCU Domestic TV Distribution

Longtime syndication executive Barry Wallach has stepped down from his position as president of NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution, B&C reports. The company has yet to name a replacement.

In a statement, Ted Harbert, chairman of NBC Broadcasting, said: "Barry has led our syndication business with great distinction. He has been a valued partner and colleague and I will deeply miss his wise counsel. We thank him for all that he has done for NBCUniversal and wish him nothing but continued success in the future."

Wallach reportedly circulated a letter today to staffers and conducted a meeting with them, saying: "After an incredible run at NBCUniversal, I want to share some news. I have been thinking for some time about the possibility of change and want you all to know that I have decided to leave the company in the coming weeks.

"I am finally going to take a deep breath, stop traveling so much and spend some very important time with my family. I do intend on doing many things down the road but have no immediate plans.

"The timing is perfect. I leave our business in terrific shape, coming off our most successful syndication season to date in both ratings and profitability. The momentum is on our side, and we are well positioned to achieve even bigger and better things in 2013 and beyond. I wouldn't feel comfortable making this decision otherwise."

B&C reports: “This year, NBCU successfully launched ‘The Steve Harvey Show,’ which is produced by Endemol USA. The show is confirmed to return for season two and NBCU is currently signing deals with stations through the 2015-16 TV season. NBCU also is renewing its new conflict talker, ‘Trisha Goddard,’ on stations throughout the country, and it plans to continue to expand its ‘Access Hollywood’ spinoff, ‘Access Hollywood Live,’ to additional markets.”

Wallach has held the position of president of NBCU Domestic Television Distribution since 2004.

barry-wallach.jpg

Barry Wallach 

more »

Late-Night Talk Show in the Works From Will Ferrell -- With a Twist

Will Ferrell’s production company is developing a talk show with a twist for late-night, TV Guide reports. The show is in the works for USA Network from Gary Sanchez Productions, which is run by Ferrell and Adam McKay.

The idea for the show tweaks the genre: It’s a morning show in late-night, the story reports.

“The untitled project would be modeled after the likes of ‘Live With Kelly and Michael’ and the fourth hour of ‘Today’ hosted by Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb,” the piece reports. “But here's the catch: It would air live at 12:01am ET, making it truly the first ‘morning show’ of the day.”

An insider quoted in the piece said: "They're dead serious. It will have coffee cups, the whole thing."

“Make no mistake, this is a real show that operates in some respects like a traditional talk show (with guests, host banter, and pre-tape packages), even as it looks like nothing else in the midnight hour,” TV Guide reports. “Producers hope to hire a male-female hosting team in the coming months. A wide variety of individuals with both hosting and comedic backgrounds have been considered.”

The show is created and executive produced by Rob Cohen (“The Big Bang Theory,” “Mad TV”) and Gary Sanchez's Owen Burke (“NTSF: SD: SUV”), who both have solid comedy backgrounds. Said the insider: “They want it to be a comedy-type program but not a parody.”

TV Guide notes: “There's no rush to premiere, as USA earns solid ratings at midnight with repeats of shows like ‘CSI,’ ‘NCIS’ and ‘Law & Order: SVU.’ But the network has been eager to expand its scope beyond its successful original drama brand, and is already getting into the first-run comedy business (pilots include ‘Sirens’ from Denis Leary) and greatly expanding its original unscripted output (such as ‘April's the Moment,’ in which contestants get a second chance to meet their career goals).”

more »

'Die Hard' Director Appears to Be Headed to Prison

The director of a string of successful films including “Die Hard” and “The Hunt for Red October” appears to have run out of sequels in his battle to avoid going to prison. Reuters reports that John McTiernan lost his bid this week to have the U.S. Supreme Court review his guilty plea and one-year prison sentence in a case involving perjury and lying to the FBI.

The high court decision appears to set the stage for McTiernan, 62, to begin his prison term.

“The court declined to consider whether lower courts erred in refusing to suppress a recording in which prosecutors said McTiernan discussed an illegal wiretap,” the story reports. “Prosecutors had accused McTiernan of lying about having hired former private investigator Anthony Pellicano, who represented many Hollywood stars, to wiretap a film producer.”

McTiernan entered a guilty plea in 2006, after the FBI secured a tape of the men discussing the wiretap. But he later hired a new lawyer and withdrew the plea.

“He was then indicted a second time and, after failing to suppress the recording, entered a conditional guilty plea allowing him to appeal,” Reuters reports. “The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected that appeal last August.”

An attorney for McTiernan did not immediately respond to requests for comment, the piece notes.

McTiernan is also known for directing "Predator," "Last Action Hero" and "The Thomas Crown Affair," among other features.

john-mctiernan.jpg

John McTiernan

more »

Hit CBS Drama Series Surges, Helps Push Eye Network to Dominating Ratings Win

A hit CBS drama series saw its ratings continue to soar Tuesday night, helping the network rack up a dominating win for prime time, based on Nielsen overnights.

With “NCIS” leading the way, CBS averaged a 3.8 rating for prime time overall in the key demo of viewers 18-49, TVbytheNumbers.com reports. That was well ahead of the generally low results for the other major broadcast networks: a 1.7 average for Univision, a 1.7 for NBC, a 1.5 for Fox and a 1.2 for ABC.

CBS’s dominance even more evident in total viewers, where CBS averaged 17.0 million to 4.8 million for NBC, 4.1 million for Univision, 3.7 million for ABC and 3.1 million for Fox.

“NCIS” was the top show of the night, with its 3.8 average rating in the 18-49 demo improving three-tenths from its 3.5 a week earlier. “NCIS: Los Angeles” was next with a 2.7, even though it slipped three-tenths from last week’s 3.0. “NCIS” piled up an average of 22.3 million viewers, while “NCIS: Los Angeles” drew 17.5 million.

CBS fell off quite a bit at 10 p.m., where “Vegas” delivered a 1.6 in viewers 18-49, equaling last week’s number.

NBC was paced by a 1.9 average rating in 18-49 for “Parenthood,” which won the 10 p.m. hour. Two installments of “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” settled for a 1.4 (at 8 p.m.) and a 1.8 (at 8:30), while “Go On” rose two-tenths to a 1.7 and “The New Normal” held steady with a 1.3.

Fox was mostly down slightly, with “Raising Hope” dipping one-tenth to a 1.6 in the 18-49 demo, “Ben and Kate” down one-tenth to a 1.1 and “New Girl” off one-tenth to a 1.9. “The Mindy Project” equaled last week’s number, a 1.5.

ABC aired repeats in the 8 p.m. hour, then saw a fresh episode of “Happy Endings” dip one-tenth to a 1.3 in 18-49, “Don’t Trust the B” hold steady with a 1.1 and “Private Practice” edge up one-tenth to a 1.2. 

more »

Syndication Group Unveils Findings of Annual Member Survey -- Including Shorter Ad Breaks

The Syndicated Network Television Association is rolling out the results of its annual 2012/2013 member survey in advance of the annual NATPE conference. Here are a few of the findings:

Syndication’s national breaks, at 2:27 in length, are 30% shorter than both network prime (3:23 average) and cable prime (3:07 average).

Syndication has the highest percentage of “first-minute” positions: between 79% and 89% across sitcoms, entertainment news, game shows and talk shows. In comparison, network prime and cable range from 22%-35%.

In DVR households, 89% watch syndie programming live (vs. 60% for network prime); 76% play back commercials (vs. 51% for network prime).

more »

Actor From 'Maude,' 'Diff'rent Strokes' Dies

A well-known sitcom actor who became a familiar face to TV viewers in the 1970s on "Maude" and "Diff'rent Strokes" has died. Conrad Bain, who played wealthy dad Phillip Drummond for eight seasons on the NBC sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes,” was 89, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The Alameda County, Calif., Coroner's Office today confirmed that Bain died Monday at a hospital in Livermore, Calif.

“The cause of death has not been determined, and coroner's officials said it's not clear whether a doctor will sign the death certificate or whether there will be a formal review of his death,” the Times reports.

Bain’s daughter reported that her father had been ill for a while and had died of natural causes.

Before playing the adopted dad to kids played by Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges on “Diff’rent Strokes,” which aired from 1978 to 1985, Bain was a co-star on the long-running CBS series “Maude.”

In the late 1980s Bain was a regular on the short-lived series “Mr. President,” which starred George C. Scott. Bain also had a long series of guest appearances on shows including “Dark Shadows,” “The Defenders,” “The Facts of Life” and, most recently, “Unforgettable,” in 2011.

conrad-bain.jpg

Conrad Bain

 

more »

AMC to Revive Show It Canceled Last Year

AMC is bringing back a show it canceled last summer, The New York Times reports. The cable channel said it made a deal with Fox Television Studios to produce a third season of "The Killing."

The drama drew early praise, but that shifted to frustration and criticism of Veena Sud, the showrunner, when the resolution of first season's central mystery was delayed until the second season, the piece notes.

"AMC said in a statement on Tuesday that the lead performers, Mireille Enos (who plays the homicide detective Sarah Linden) and Joel Kinnaman (who plays her partner, Stephen Holder), will return for Season 3, as will Ms. Sud, who will remain the showrunner," the story says.

The next season will look at a new case, which will be resolved over 12 episodes, the network said. Production starts Feb. 25.

Fox Television Studios said it would try to find another home for the show after the cancellation last year, and went on to talk with broadcast partners and Netflix, the story says.

Conversations with Netflix are continuing, according to the report.

more »

'Honey Boo Boo' Co-Star Reveals He's HIV Positive

One of the co-stars of the hit TLC reality show "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" has revealed he’s HIV positive and says he wants his own show. Lee Thompson -- who is called Uncle Poodle on the show -- said the new show would illustrate "what it is like being gay in the South," according to an interview with Thompson in the gay-focused publication Fenuxe.com.

Thompson said he tested negative for HIV in March 2012, but was tested again in May, when the tests came back positive.

"I knew it had been my boyfriend who infected me. I later learned he had been HIV positive and was not taking medication and had not bothered to tell me about it," he says. "I was advised that I should press charges and, hesitantly, I did. It was the right thing to do."

Thompson added that his ex-boyfriend is serving a five-year sentence.

He said he's known he was gay since he was 16, and that his mother was supportive, although his father struggled for four years.

Asked where his nickname "Uncle Poodle" came from, he noted, "From Alana. She calls all gay men ‘my poodles’ and I am her Uncle Poodle," referring to his niece, Alana Thompson, who is known as Honey Boo Boo.

lee-thompson-uncle-poodle.jpg

Lee Thompson

 

more »

Oprah Winfrey's Interview With Lance Armstrong Could Spell Trouble for 'Idol'

Oprah Winfrey's interview with disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, which will air in two parts starting Thursday, Jan. 17, at 9 p.m., could be bad news for Fox's "American Idol," potentially siphoning off viewers from the singing competition, reports Bloomberg.

OWN will air Winfrey’s interview with Armstrong as part of “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” starting halfway through the two-hour second night of "Idol." Both shows have women as their largest viewer group.

Part two of the Armstrong interview airs Friday, Jan. 18, at 9 p.m.

Fox has heavily promoted "Idol," trying to stop viewer losses with new judges Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey and Keith Urban. Viewership of "Idol" has fallen to 17 million, while at its 2006 peak, the program drew more than 30 million.

more »

Video: Golden Globe-Winning Actress Fires Back Over Lindsay Lohan Hassle

Actress Jennifer Lawrence got a little grief over her Golden Globes acceptance speech after winning a Globe for her performance in the movie “Silver Linings Playbook,” with Lindsay Lohan among those she appears to have rubbed the wrong way.

Lawrence pointed out that her “I beat Meryl” comment was a cultural reference, taken from the movie “First Wives Club.” Lohan apparently didn’t get the joke, tweeting that no one should mess with a legend of the stature of Meryl Streep.

Lawrence goofed on the incident with David Letterman on Tuesday night’s “Late Show.” Here’s the clip:

more »

Lifetime Cancels Scripted Drama Series

Lifetime has canceled a scripted drama series after four seasons, Deadline.com reports. Executives waited until the last minute to make a decision on the show, "Drop Dead Diva," because they wanted to get a chance to see some of the network's pilots, the story reports.

The cancellation means that Lifetime executives probably like their incoming batch of projects, the piece notes. "There had been speculation that Lifetime brass felt 'Drop Dead Diva' did not fit into the network’s shift toward edgier fare," the article points out.

The show was dropped despite solid ratings, with its recent season averaging more than 2 million viewers an episode in Live + Same Day.

"Drop Dead Diva" stars Brooke Elliott as an aspiring model whose soul gets trapped in the body of a brilliant, plus-sized attorney.

more »

ABC Pulls Sunday Broadcasts of Two Comedies

ABC has pulled the remaining Sunday broadcasts of two comedy series, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed. The network is yanking "Happy Endings" and "Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23" from Sunday night before the two sitcoms leave the schedule in March, the story reports.

The network will replace the programming with a repeat of "Shark Tank" from 10-11 p.m. this Sunday, the story says.

"Both shows have had modest showings in their regular Tuesday time slots. On Sundays, both slipped to series low and this past week didn't even reach a 1.0 rating among adults 18 to 49," the piece reports.

"Both will continue to air on Tuesdays at 9 and 9:30 p.m. until the 'Dancing with the Stars' results show moves into the hour later this season," it notes.

At the Television Critics Association press tour, ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee declined to comment on the future of either show. He said the Sunday airings were designed to give a wider audience a chance to see the shows.

more »

The CW's 'Carrie Diaries' Has a Very New York Problem

The CW's "Sex and the City" prequel "The Carrie Diaries" has a problem that might be apparent to many viewers: the absence of the World Trade Center from the 1980s-era city, reports Joe Flint in the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

"Despite lots of skyline shots of the city and a setting in downtown New York, where the law firm Carrie is interning at is located, the Twin Towers are nowhere to be found," Flint writes.

He continues, "The omission becomes very apparent to any New Yorker (or ex-New Yorker) in one scene in which Carrie discovers Century 21, the famed discount clothing warehouse that was in the shadows of the World Trade Center."

"Whether the lack of at least one shot of the towers was an oversight or a creative decision, it was a bad choice," he adds. "Yes, seeing the towers in all their majesty could be jarring for many. But not showing them seems like a rewriting of history and an unnecessary removal of what was one of the city's best known landmarks."

 

more »

Best-Selling Writer David Baldacci Teams with 'NCIS: Los Angeles' Executive Producer Shane Brennan for New TNT Series to Star Rebecca Romijn and Jon Tenney

Shane Brennan, the executive producer of the hit CBS drama "NCIS: Los Angeles," is expanding to TNT with a new, untitled detective series, reports TV Line.

Rebecca Romijn ("X-Men") and Jon Tenney ("The Closer") will star in the show, which is based on characters created by David Baldacci ("Absolute Power"). Brennan is writing the pilot for the series.

Tenney and Romijn play a pair of former secret service agents, Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, who are now private investigators. The series has received a 10-episode order from TNT and will debut in summer 2013.

Baldacci, who has written more than two dozen books, has written five novels featuring the King and Maxwell characters: "Split Second" (2003), "Hour Game" (2004), "SImple Genius" (2007), "First Family" (2009) and "The Sixth Man" (2011).

The only novel of Balducci's to yet hit the big or small screen is "Absolute Power" (1996), which was made into a feature film starring and directed by Clint Eastwood.

more »

New CNN Chief Jeff Zucker Backs Piers Morgan on Guns

New CNN President Jeff Zucker told the network's staff that he backs Piers Morgan's decision to speak out on gun control, reports Politico.com.

Zucker made the comments during a town-hall meeting with employees, according to the story. He was asked about CNN expressing opinions, which it has tried to avoid in the past. Zucker said he supports it where appropriate, and pointed to Morgan's stance as an example.

As previously reported, Morgan's stance on gun control prompted a petition from more than 100,000 signees who wanted him deported back to his home country of the U.K. The White House responded to the petition with a statement indicating that Morgan will be allowed to remain in the U.S.

 

more »

NRA Starts Live TV Talk Show

The National Rifle Association is launching a live daily television talk show, reports Advertising Age. The show will be a TV version of the organization’s radio show "Cam & Company," which will air on the Sportsman Channel.

The move for the show, hosted by gun-rights advocate Cam Edwards, comes as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is expected to present gun-control proposals to President Barack Obama, the story says.

The TV launch also coincides with the SHOT Show, the large firearms and shooting trade show taking place in Las Vegas this week. The Sportsman Channel is relatively small, with about 31 million homes.

"The one-hour show will explore the stories, people and places behind the headlines and issues that affect the lifestyle of hunting, shooting and fishing enthusiasts, according to a statement from the NRA," the story says.

"Each show will feature coverage of the day's current events and breaking news plus debate and discussions with guests such as newsmakers, lawmakers, law enforcement, celebrities and athletes," the piece adds.

The NRA produces two other shows on the Sportsman Channel -- "Guns and Gold" and "3 Gun Nation."

more »

Longtime Media Exec Mel Karmazin Has a New Job in Mind

Mel Karmazin, who was the president of Viacom before moving to SiriusXM, which he recently left, has a new job in mind: running the recovery efforts for New Jersey's Hurricane Sandy victims, reports the New York Post.

“I would be the czar ... or the pope of the Jersey Shore,” Karmazin said in an interview with CNBC's David Faber. A clip of the video appears below.

Karmazin said he is considering calling New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to ask for a job.

"We lost a guest house there; we have another home there," he said. "I have a passion to try to see that Jersey Shore come back."

Reminded by Faber that he would have a boss -- Gov. Christie -- Karmazin joked, "The scenario would be the pope of the Jersey Shore, so there’s no checks and balances.”

Christie's office said it already has co-heads of its recovery efforts, the Post adds. They are Mary Pat Christie, New Jersey's first lady, and Marc Ferzan, the head of its Office of Recovery and Rebuilding.

Here's the video:

 

more »

TNT Passes on Drama Pilot From Jerry Bruckheimer

TNT has passed on the drama pilot "Trooper," produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and starring Mira Sorvino as a divorced state trooper, reports Deadline.com.

"The project was originally developed at CBS last season where it also went to pilot starring Sorvino," the story says. "The TNT pilot, which co-starred Eion Bailey, was written by Aron Eli Coleite ('Heroes'), who executive produced with Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman and [Jason] Ensler for Warner Horizon."

 

more »

Oxygen Pulls Plug on Show That Was Accused of Racism

After charges of racism over a new reality show, Oxygen has canceled the program, Deadline.com reports. The show, "All My Babies' Mamas," would have featured the rapper Shawty Lo and his 11 children by 10 mothers.

As previously reported, the civil rights group ColorOfChange.org charged that the show perpetuates negative stereotypes about African American families and started an online petition to convince advertisers to pull their support.

The group attracted 37,000 signatures supporting its campaign, and delivered the petition to Oxygen and parent companies NBCUniversal and Comcast on Tuesday, Jan. 15, the story notes.

"I am pleased that Oxygen Media has heard the outrage of over 37,000 consumers and shareholders who said, ‘Enough is enough,’” said author Sabrina Lamb, who started the petition.

Oxygen said it made the decision as part of its development process. "We have reviewed casting and decided not to move forward with the special," Oxygen said. “We will continue to develop compelling content that resonates with our young female viewers and drives the cultural conversation.”

more »

Jessica Simpson Lands Deal for NBC Sitcom

A sitcom project starring Jessica Simpson is in the works at NBC after the network ordered a pilot presentation, Deadline.com reports.

“The single-camera project, inspired by Simpson’s life, is based on a pitch developed by Robin and Nick Bakay, with Nick Bakay (‘Two and a Half Men’) writing the pilot script,” the piece reports. “Ben Silverman’s Electus and Universal Television are producing.”

Simpson commented: “I often find myself thinking that no one could ever make up the things that actually happen in my life -- so between the real-life elements and a great team of writers, I think we’ll have people laughing.”

NBC, Simpson and Electus are already collaborating on the unscripted side with “Fashion Star,” which is approaching season two, the piece notes.

Said Silverman: “Jessica Simpson is truly a modern-day Lucy with incredible comedic chops. From running a fashion empire to wrangling her public image as a new mom, we see Jessica’s character approach a variety of ‘everyday’ circumstances that will get audiences laughing out loud.”

For Simpson, who launched her TV career with an arc on the Fox sitcom “That ‘70s Show,” the new project represents a return to acting. “She starred in a few movies, including ‘The Dukes Of Hazzard,’ before focusing on her fashion and beauty business,” the report notes. “Simpson, who started off as a pop singer, became one of the first bona fide TV reality stars with her MTV series ‘Newlyweds.’”

jessica-simpson.jpg

Jessica Simpson

more »

ESPN Anchor Faces Cancer Fight

A longtime anchor on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” who has battled cancer in the past said the disease has returned. The New York Daily News reports that Stuart Scott tweeted about the return of the disease Monday night -- just before going on air to host the 11 p.m. ET edition of “SportsCenter.”

Scott, who has about 260,000 Twitter followers, sent them the message: "Blessed by prayers..I'm back in the Fight. C reared its head again. Chemo evry 2 wks but I'll still work, still work out..still #LIVESTRONG."

“Livestrong” is a reference to Lance Armstrong’s foundation that raises money for people fighting cancer.

“The 47-year-old Scott was originally diagnosed in 2007 after undergoing an emergency appendectomy. Doctors found a rare malignancy known as appendiceal cancer, according to Touched By Cancer magazine,” the story reports. “Scott also received chemotherapy in 2011, he announced on Twitter at the time.”

An ESPN spokesperson is quoted as saying Scott "plans to continue to work the best he can around his treatments."

stuart-scott.jpg

Stuart Scott

more »

Howard Stern Apologizes for Remarks About 'Girls' Star Lena Dunham

“Girls” creator and star Lena Dunham followed up her big night Sunday at the Golden Globes -- where she won best comedy series and best actress for the HBO show -- with another big event Monday when she received an apology from Howard Stern.

TV Guide reports: “On his show Monday, the outspoken radio host apologized on air for his comments last week, in which he called the ‘Girls’ creator and star ‘a little fat girl who kind of looks like Jonah Hill.’"

Stern also said at the time: "She keeps taking her clothes off and it kind of feels like a rape. I don't want to see that.”

Stern indicated on Monday that he regretted making the comments.

"I felt bad because I really do love the show ‘Girls,’ and enjoy it, and I admire the girl who writes it," Stern said. "It makes me feel bad, and I think she is getting the impression that I somehow think she's just a talentless little fat chick."

Dunham talked about Stern’s initial comments last week on “Late Show with David Letterman,” saying: "I'm a Howard Stern fan and really think he has earned the right to free speech and he should just go for it. But he did say something that is so funny that I want to get it on my gravestone: 'Congrats to her. It's so hard for little fat chicks to get anything going these days.' I want my gravestone to say, 'She was a little fat chick and she got it going.'"

lena-dunham.jpg

Lena Dunham

more »

NFL Playoff Broadcasts Delivering Huge Audiences -- Even If Some of Them Are Smaller Than Last Year

The NFL’s divisional playoff games delivered massive audiences over the weekend, as expected. But USA Today reports that in some cases the viewership didn’t come up to the levels of last year’s playoffs.

In two time slots, ratings were down, the story reports. “The New England Patriots' 41-28 win against the Houston Texans in Sunday's late time slot wasn't exactly suspenseful,” the report notes. “It drew a 23.8 overnight, which translates to 23.8% of TV households in the 56 urban markets measured for overnights. That's down 13% from comparable coverage of a New York Giants-Green Bay Packers game in the time slot last year.”

The piece notes, however, that the Giants-Packers game a year ago was the NFL’s highest-rated divisional playoff game since 1997.

Fox scored with its early Sunday game. The story reports: “The Atlanta Falcons seemed on their way to blowing out the Seattle Seahawks in the first half of their playoff game Sunday. But the Seahawks' comeback before the Falcons won in a tight finish drove the game to a 21.3 overnight -- up 3% from comparable coverage of a Baltimore Ravens-Texans game last year.”

Fox also had reason to cheer its Saturday results. Fox pulled in an 18.7 overnight rating for the prime-time game in which the San Francisco 49ers beat the Packers -- Fox’s best Saturday prime-time divisional playoff number since it began televising NFL action in 1994.

Still, that number represented a 9% decline for the time slot from last year, when the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos squared off in a highly anticipated showdown between quarterbacks Tom Brady of New England and Tim Tebow of Denver.

more »

Video: BBC America Posts First Three Minutes of Its Upcoming Series 'Ripper Street'

BBC America has posted a sneak peek video on YouTube featuring the first three minutes of its upcoming series “Ripper Street.” The show, an eight-episode period crime drama, is already on the air in the U.K., with its premiere on BBC America set for Jan. 19.

Here’s the clip:

more »

'Idol' Feud With Mariah Carey 'Definitely Isn't Fake,' Says Nicki Minaj -- and a Recent Exchange Between Minaj and Carey May Prove Her Point

Tensions between Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey on “American Idol” got a lot of attention a few months back, with some skeptics saying it was all a stunt to pump up ratings.

Not so, says Minaj, Access Hollywood reports, sizing up Minaj’s comments during an appearance Monday on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”

Said Minaj: “It definitely isn’t a fake feud. ... We’re both passionate, and both crazy, and we’re both, you know. ... And then sometimes it just goes ‘rawrr!’”

Minaj said the main incident was sparked by some playful joking that went awry.

Both Minaj and Carey talked about the bad blood during an appearance last week at the Television Critics Association press tour. Answering a reporter’s question on the topic, Carey said: “I think time sorts everything. Time heals all wounds. ... I did nothing and here we are.”

Minaj told the same reporter: “We’re professionals. … Haven’t you ever had an argument with someone you worked with? I feel like people …”

Then Carey, according to the Access Hollywood account, interjected: “It was sort of a one-sided thing.” And Minaj quickly responded: “No, it wasn’t.”

The Fox singing competition returns Wednesday, Jan. 16.

more »

ABC Under Attack for Torture Scene in Drama Series

ABC has come under fire for a torture scene that has been described as “graphic and disturbing” in its political drama series “Scandal,” the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports.

The watchdog group Parents Television Council is targeting the network over the violence depicted in the scene, the story reports. In a statement released Monday, the group wrote: "On the very same night that Vice President Joe Biden met with entertainment industry leaders to discuss the issue of media violence and its impact on children, ABC -- the television network owned by a company named for Walt Disney -- aired an intense, explicit and bloodied torture scene during its show 'Scandal.'"

The statement adds: "For nearly three minutes, viewers were subjected to graphic and disturbing scenes of a man struggling to breathe while being waterboarded, his nose being broken and his face beaten into a bloody mess, blood spattering on the walls, and being kicked and beaten into submission.”

The piece notes that the torture scene bears a resemblance to one in the Oscar-nominated film "Zero Dark Thirty."

ABC declined to comment for the story.

 

more »

Second ABC News Correspondent Jumps Ship

On the heels of the recent departure of a high-profile correspondent for ABC News, another correspondent is exiting the news division. TVNewser reports that Showtime's "60 Minutes Sports" has hired away ABC’s Sharyn Alfonsi as a contributor.

The move comes less than a month after the departure of White House correspondent Jake Tapper, who announced his move to CNN in December, as previously reported.

Alfonsi served as a correspondent and anchor for CBS News before joining ABC in 2008. CBS News' "60 Minutes" co-produces "60 Minutes Sports" for Showtime.

Alfonsi’s work at ABC included a year-long investigation for the report “Generation Meds” along with work on the “Made in America” series, TVNewser notes.

Sharyn-Alfonsi.jpg

Sharyn Alfonsi

more »

Video: Oprah Says Armstrong 'did not come clean in the manner I expected' During Her Interview With Him. She Also Says They Had Agreed Not to Leak What Happened in Interview, So She Is Surprised Media Was Able to Confirm That Armstrong Confessed to Doping

Oprah Winfrey says that in confessing to doping, former professional cyclist Lance Armstrong "did not come clean in the manner I expected."

Winfrey then added, "We were mesmerized and riveted by some of his answers."

Winfrey, who made her remarks this morning, Jan.15, 2013, on "CBS This Morning," began her comments by saying that her team and Armstrong's team had agreed not to leak any information about the interview before its scheduled airing on Thursday, Jan 17, 2013, on OWN. She said she was surprised that the media was able to confirm that Armstrong had confessed to doping during the interview.

Winfrey also said she had prepared for the interview "like it was a college exam -- and walked into the room with 112 questions" to ask Armstrong. "And in a 2-1/2-hour interview I asked most of those questions, or at least as many as I could. ... I didn't get all of the questions asked, but I think the most important questions and the answers that people around the world have been waiting to hear were answered. And I can only say I was satisfied by the answers."

Winfrey's entire remarks on "CBS This Morning" are in the video below. She announced that because of the length of the interview it will be shown in two parts, on Thursday and Friday nights, Jan. 17 and 18. In the video below, Winfrey also tells how she landed the interview with Armstrong.

 

more »

Everyone Had a Great Time at the Golden Globes, but What About the Other, Much Lower-Key, Hollywood Awards That Took Place Just a Few Days Earlier?

While the Golden Globes grabbed headlines and generally rave reviews over the past few days, another Hollywood awards ceremony took place in relative obscurity just a few days earlier -- with many of the same celebrities in attendance: Jessica Chastain of “Zero Dark Thirty,” Jennifer Lawrence of “Silver Linings Playbook," Anne Hathaway of "Les Miserables" and Daniel Day Lewis of "Lincoln," among many others.

Like the Globes, this overlooked awards ceremony is also seen as a more casual, more fun alternative to the relatively stuffy Oscars. Click here to get all the info as TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin takes the wraps off an event that no longer wants to be one of the industry’s best-kept secrets.

more »

Video: Charlie Sheen Says He Wants to Return to 'Two and a Half Men' for One Episode in Particular

Charlie Sheen, who was fired from the CBS comedy "Two and a Half Men" during his high-profile 2011 meltdown and has since launched his FX sitcom “Anger Management,” told David Letterman that he wants to return to the CBS show for its finale.

Reminded that his “Men” character has been killed off, Sheen responded, "I am dead. But so is the show.”

Sheen appeared Monday night on CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman.” The actor told Letterman that drugs didn’t play a part in his 2011 meltdown. "During the previous 30 years, sure," he added.

Here are a couple of clips from Sheen’s Letterman appearance. The top one includes Sheen talking about “Two and a Half Men” along with his meltdown. In the second video Letterman grills Sheen about “crack cocaine.”

more »

'Honey Boo Boo' Mom Bans Co-Star From the Show

"Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" mother June Shannon has reportedly banned one of the reality show’s stars from the show. Shannon banned "Crazy Tony" Lindsey from appearing in future episodes of the TLC series because he's too wild, reports TMZ.com.

As previously reported, Lindsey was part of a group arrested in Georgia for reckless conduct when a deputy noticed a man dressed as a gorilla, acting as if he were going to jump onto a highway.

After the stunt, Shannon didn't feel comfortable with having Lindsey on the set, as she wants to keep the show "family oriented," according to the story. While Lindsey has been reported as a "cousin" on the show, he's actually just a family friend, the story adds.

more »

Disney, ABC Family Hit With Lawsuit, Accused of Stealing Idea for Christmas Movie

Disney and the ABC Family Channel, among others, were sued Monday by two television producers who allege a story concept they pitched to ABC Family was stolen for a TV movie, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq.

Beth Grossbard and Barri Rosenblum allege in the suit that they pitched an idea in 2005 for a movie called "I Hate Christmas," which is described as a girl's version of the movie "Groundhog Day." The suit says they talked with Beth Miller, then director of development at ABC Family, about the idea. Miller is named in the suit.

The producers gave ABC Family an eight-page treatment, and the network considered the project for several months before telling them it wasn’t going forward with the project, the piece reports.

The producers say that in December 2011 they saw an ABC Family movie called "The 12 Dates of Christmas," which they claim is similar in concept and used specific devices that they had suggested. Miller was a producer of the movie, although she had left the network.

ABC didn't immediately respond to a request for a comment, the story says.

more »

Top CNET Staffer Resigns Over CBS Ban of Tech Award

A top writer for the tech site CNET resigned Monday, soon after a report was published that said the site was barred by its corporate owner, CBS, from giving an award to Dish Network for its ad-hopping technology, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

As previously reported, CBS stepped in at the last minute to prevent the prestigious CNET Best of CES Award to be presented to the Dish device. The Hopper, which allows viewers to skip through commercials in programs they record, is at the center of a legal battle between broadcast networks and Dish.

The reporter, Greg Sandoval, has worked at CNET for seven years and previously worked at The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

Sandoval said he has lost confidence that "CBS is committed to editorial independence," according to the story, which notes that he announced his resignation on Twitter.

CBS's decision to pull the award for the Hopper caused an outcry, and CNET responded by saying it would continue to deliver "unbiased news" to readers.

The Best in Show award that had been earmarked for the Hopper went instead to a tablet called the Razer Edge, The Times reports.

more »

With Big Bird and Elmo Both in the News, Is It Helping or Hurting PBS?

PBS’s “Sesame Street” has seen a couple of its characters in the headlines in recent months, with Elmo impacted by a child abuse scandal involving former puppeteer Kevin Clash while Big Bird surfaced as a player in the presidential election.

PBS President Paula Kerger talked about both situations during a Q&A session Monday at the Television Critics Association press tour, saying the Elmo scandal has not hurt the broadcasting service, Deadline.com reports.

Said Kerger: “Elmo is larger than any individual; I have not seen any negative impact. Time will tell; we will watch it very carefully.”

“Kerger reminded that the character of Kermit the Frog has survived the loss of original voice Jim Henson,” the story notes. “As to casting a new Elmo, Kerger said that some of the series’ characters have multiple puppeteers and that there was already an effort under way to get some ‘additional help’ for Elmo.”

The executive also noted that the unexpected emergence of Big Bird as a factor in the presidential election turned out to be a plus for PBS.

“GOP candidate Mitt Romney’s pledge during the campaign to end federal funding for the big yellow bird’s home network became a rallying point for PBS defenders,” Deadline reports. “The mention of Big Bird during the October 3 debate between Romney and Obama generated more than a quarter-million tweets, and the next month about 1,000 marchers took part in the ‘Million Puppet March’ in Washington, D.C., to save public broadcasting.”

Said Kerger: “It was an opportunity to try to explain to a much wider audience, people on the Hill and the American people, who we are.” Kerger also reportedly said about a third of PBS stations would go dark without federal funding.

more »

As Armstrong's Confession Is About to Air, Will the Public Start Feeling More Positive About Him? Right Now His Q Score Is More Negative Than the Average Sports Star -- But Miles Better Than Another Fallen Sports Superstar

Lance Armstrong, who has finally admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career, is facing a tough road to rehabilitating his reputation, with his Q score going downhill, the New York Post reports.

The Q Score is a measure used by marketers to evaluate celebrities' appeal. Armstrong's Q score shows that he's now viewed more negatively than the average sports star: 27% of people now view him negatively, while the average sports star has a negative score of 24%, according to the story.

That's a far cry from the 11% of people who viewed Armstrong negatively after his seventh Tour de France victory in 2005.

Armstrong’s Q Score remains well ahead of the score for Tiger Woods, who has a negative score of 43%.

"The thing to keep in mind is, how soon did the celebrity respond? The longer the response takes, the worse the recovery period is," said Henry Schafer, executive vice president of Marketing Evaluations, which measures Q Scores.

Armstrong admitted doping during an interview taped this week with Oprah Winfrey, as previously reported. Winfrey revealed today on “CBS This Morning” that the interview, which had been scheduled to air this Thursday on her OWN cable network, will now be aired in two parts -- Thursday and Friday -- due to the volume of material.

The Armstrong interview has been described as one of the biggest for Winfrey since she launched OWN two years ago, and industry analysts say it could be worth millions to the network as it continues on its path toward profitability.

more »

Maggie Smith Signs On for Another Season of 'Downton Abbey'

Maggie Smith has signed on for the fourth season of the PBS period drama "Downton Abbey," reports TVLine.com.

Smith, who plays the Dowager Countess on the show, wasn't considered a lock for returning to the series, with "Abbey" creator Julian Fellowes saying last summer that he wasn't sure she would return.

Executive producer Gareth Neame confirmed her return at a post-Golden Globes party, the story says.

As previously reported, star Dan Stevens, who plays Matthew Crawley, won't be returning for the fourth season.

more »

OWN Turnaround Brightens the Outlook for Discovery

Oprah Winfrey’s OWN cable network is beginning to turn things around after a sluggish first couple of years, and that’s good news for network co-owner Discovery Communications, reports the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog, citing a report from Sanford C. Bernstein media analyst Todd Juenger.

Juenger raised his target price for Discovery shares to $76, and pointed to improved ratings at OWN and at other Discovery networks such as Animal Planet. OWN is becoming a "go-to destination for celebrity personalities to address PR issues," the analyst wrote.

As previously reported, disgraced Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, who has spent years denying he doped as a cyclist, gave an interview to Winfrey this week in which he confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs. The interview will air on OWN in two parts on Thursday and Friday, Jan. 17 and 18.

more »

NY Times and AP Reports: Lance Armstrong Has Told Oprah That He Doped. Also, He Plans to Testify Against Officials of International Cycling Union About Their Alleged Involvement in Doping

Lance Armstrong, who has spent years denying that he ever doped as a cyclist, has "confessed that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career, according to two people briefed on [Armstrong's forthcoming interview with Oprah Winfrey], which was recorded [today, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013] in Austin, Texas," reports Juliet Macur on the website of  The New York Times.

The story continues: "Acknowledging his doping past has cleared the way for Armstrong to take the next step in trying to mitigate his lifetime ban from Olympic sports. He is planning to testify against several powerful people in the sport of cycling who knew about his doping and possibly facilitated it, said several people with knowledge of the situation.

"Armstrong, 41, is planning to testify against officials from the International Cycling Union, the worldwide governing body of cycling, about their involvement with doping in cycling, but he will not testify against other riders, according to the people familiar with his plans."

The Associated Press also reports that it was tipped to Armstrong's confession to Oprah. The AP story adds that Winfrey is scheduled to appear on "CBS This Morning" on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, to discuss the interview.

The NY Times story adds that Armstrong is "also in discussions with the United States Department of Justice to possibly testify in a federal whistle-blower case. That case involves the cycling team sponsored by the United States Postal Service, and Armstrong would testify against several of the team’s owners, including the investment banker Thom Weisel, and other officials, one person close to the situation said. That person did not want his name published because the case is still open."

The Times story notes that "before heading to the Winfrey interview in downtown Austin, Armstrong stopped at the headquarters of Livestrong and apologized to the staff, saying he was sorry for letting everyone down and for putting so much stress on the organization because of his doping scandal.

"He did not confess to using performance-enhancing drugs, but spoke for about 20 minutes in the organization’s boardroom, eliciting tears from some of the employees, said Rae Bazzarre, a spokeswoman for Livestrong."

Winfrey's interview with Armstrong is scheduled to air on OWN in two parts, this Thursday and Friday, Jan 17-18, 2013.

The Times article said nothing about any specific questions or answers that transpired during the interview.

For further details about this story we strongly urge you to click on the links above to the original stories reported by The New York Times and the AP.

more »

Shakeup Behind the Camera at 'The Walking Dead'

AMC’s hit zombie drama series “The Walking Dead” has replaced its showrunner, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The show has named executive producer Scott Gimple to replace Glen Mazzara, who has been running the show during season three. Gimple will be the show's third showrunner.

Mazzara left the show last month, citing creative differences, the piece notes. But he “will remain on board as showrunner through the second half of season three, overseeing postproduction on the series, with filming already having been completed on the final eight episodes of the ratings juggernaut,” THR reports.

Mazzara became showrunner midway through production on season two, after Frank Darabont was suddenly let go before the show’s second season premiered. Mazzara picked Gimple as his second-in-command.

AMC commented on the situation with Mazzara in a statement late last week, saying: "Both parties acknowledge that there is a difference of opinion about where the show should go moving forward and conclude that it is best to part ways. This decision is amicable, and Glen will remain on for postproduction on season 3B as showrunner and executive producer."

The story notes: “Gimple first joined the series based on the comics created by Robert Kirkman in season two and penned the third and seventh episodes, co-writing the 10th episode with Mazzara. He wrote the sixth and upcoming penultimate episodes of season three.”

more »

CBS Rolls Out Summer Schedule, Including New Scripted Drama Series

CBS has taken the wraps off its summer 2013 schedule, which includes the debut of a new scripted drama series and a new reality show.

“Under the Dome,” a new 13-episode serialized drama based on Stephen King's best-selling novel and produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, premieres Monday, June 24, at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

Additionally, a new reality competition series -- still untitled -- based on the U.K. format "The Great British Bake Off" premieres Wednesday, May 29, at 8 p.m.

The long-running reality series “Big Brother” will have an expanded run this summer, debuting two weeks ahead of its usual premiere. The series launches Wednesday, June 26, and will air three nights a week -- Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT, beginning July 2; the live eviction show on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT, beginning July 3; and Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT, starting June 30. The Wednesday edition will move to 8 p.m. starting July 17.

To see the full summer schedule, please click here.

more »

New Coroner's Report Indicates Natalie Wood May Have Been Attacked Before She Drowned

A new coroner’s report examining the 1981 drowning death of screen legend Natalie Wood suggests that the actress may have been attacked before she went into the water, according to a report by CBS News Senior Correspondent John Miller.

Miller talked about the coroner's report today on “CBS This Morning,” indicating that the new report may give impetus to opening a homicide investigation.

Said Miller: “This is the old autopsy with a supplemental report written on the bottom where the current medical examiner, the coroner of L.A. County, basically takes -- calls into question every finding about the injuries or the conclusion that it’s an accident.”

Miller added: “When you take the circumstances as we’ve now come to learn them, Natalie Wood was, you know, in her nightgown in bed, she supposedly goes out to retie this dinghy. She can’t swim. She’s afraid of the dark. She’s afraid of the water. It sounds very unlikely she would have done that, especially when the captain -- the skipper was there and he was awake, and she could have told him to do that.”

The report, Miller said, re-examines Wood’s injuries, focusing on “the location, the position, the shape and size of the bruises -- the fact that they are arguably more consistent with either being restrained during a struggle or defensive wounds than they are with trying to climb back onto a dinghy that you were hanging on to through the night.”

Click here to read the press release from CBS, including a transcript of Miller's comments on “CBS This Morning."

Here’s a video clip of the report:

more »

Golden Globes Deliver Best Ratings in Six Years

NBC’s Sunday night broadcast of the Golden Globe Awards, hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, delivered the ceremony’s best ratings in six years, EW.com reports.

The telecast averaged a 6.4 rating in the key 18-49 demo and 19.7 million total viewers, based on Nielsen overnights -- with the demo number representing a 28% improvement from last year. It was the best performance for the Globes since 2007 in both total viewers and the 18-49 demo, the piece reports.

“One network analyst cited a combination of factors for the ratings surge -- the new hosts appealing to female viewers, NBC coming off its best fall performance in nearly a decade and less competition from rivals compared to last year,” the report notes.

more »

Week One of 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' at 11:35 p.m.: Show's Best Numbers Ever, and a Tie With Leno in Key Demo

ABC is touting the first week of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” at 11:35 p.m. as the best week in the 10-year history of the show. The network said in a press release that “Kimmel,” which debuted Tuesday in the time slot after moving from midnight, averaged 3.009 million total viewers for the week.

That beat the show’s previous high by 26% -- a 2.388 million average for the week of Nov. 21, 2011.

The show also delivered its best number in the key 18-49 demo in more than nine years, with its 0.84 average rating the best since the week of Nov. 24, 2003.

Head-to-head with CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman” and NBC’s “Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Kimmel” equaled Leno’s 0.84 average rating in the 18-49 demo and beat Letterman’s 0.66. In total viewers, Leno led the way with an average of 3.525 million, followed by Letterman’s 3.137 million and Kimmel’s 3.009 million.

more »

Reality Show Accused of Racism

A cable reality series has come under fire with accusations of racism, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed. The Oxygen reality show "All My Babies’ Mamas," about rapper Shawty Lo and his 11 children by 10 women, is being accused of racism by the civil rights group ColorOfChange.org, the story reports.

The group says "All My Babies’ Mamas" perpetuates negative stereotypes about African American families. The organization has started an online petition to convince the program's advertisers to pull their support for the show and to get Oxygen to cancel it.

The petition alleges that the show, which has yet to premiere, promotes "inaccurate, dehumanizing and harmful perceptions of black families for the sake of ratings and advertising dollars."

It adds: "When Oprah Winfrey and former Nickelodeon executive Geraldine Laybourne launched the Oxygen cable network in 2000, the company aspired to be a strong advocate for women. But since its purchase by NBCUniversal in 2007, Oxygen has steadily increased its stable of cheaply produced reality television programming that exploits women, children and now Shawty Lo's ‘unconventional’ family."

Oxygen said the show won't promote negative stereotypes, but is a "look at one unique family." The network said that the show hasn't been shot yet and the cast hasn't been finalized, according to the report.

more »

Showtime and HBO Dominate TV Awards at Golden Globes -- We Have the Full List of Winners

Pay-cable rivals HBO and Showtime were the big winners in the television categories at Sunday night’s Golden Globes, with HBO’s “Game Change” and “Girls” and Showtime’s “Homeland” and “House of Lies” claiming most of the awards.

Showtime’s “Homeland” swept the major TV drama awards, winning for best drama while Claire Danes won for best actress and Damian Lewis won for best actor.

HBO, meanwhile, scored in the comedy and musical category with “Girls” and in the miniseries or TV movie category with “Game Change.” “Girls” won best comedy or musical series, while its star Lena Dunham won best actress. “Game Change” was named best among the TV movies and miniseries, with Julianne Moore winning best actress.

Showtime’s “House of Lies” also picked up a big win, with Don Cheadle named best actor in a comedy or musical series.

History broke the pay-cable stranglehold on the top awards with a win for Kevin Costner as best actor in a miniseries or TV movie for “Hatfields & McCoys.”

In the supporting acting categories, where drama and comedy series compete directly with miniseries and TV movies, Ed Harris was named best supporting actor for “Game Change” while PBS’s “Downton Abbey” picked up a win for Maggie Smith as best supporting actress.

A surprise in the movie categories was the awarding of best director to Ben Affleck for “Argo,” which was also named best drama. Affleck’s film has also been nominated for an Academy Award for best movie, but Affleck failed to pick up an Oscar nomination for best director.

The Golden Globe for best comedy or musical went to another strong Oscars contender, “Les Miserables.”

The Cecil B. DeMille Award was presented to actress Jodie Foster.

Click here to see the full list of Golden Globe winners and nominees in all of the television and movie categories.

 

more »

Video: Robin Roberts Announces Plans to Return to 'Good Morning America'

“Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts announced plans this morning to return to the ABC morning show, ABC News reports. Roberts, who has been recovering after a bone marrow transplant she received in September, was interviewed from her home in New York.

Said Roberts: "I'm coming home. We're talking now a matter of weeks, not months."

Roberts noted that her most recent medical test showed no sign of abnormality. "I'm so happy to be sharing this news with everybody," she said. "We're going to take it step by step. … I'm listening to my doctors. I'm taking everything into account but this is a next step and I'm so excited to be sharing it with everyone."

Here’s the video clip from “Good Morning America”:

more »

Showtime Scraps 'Californication' Spinoff

Showtime has scrapped plans for a spinoff of "Californication" that would have been built around Maggie Grace's character Faith, reports Deadline.com.

The network had an option to create a spinoff about Faith, a former Catholic school girl who becomes a groupie for various bands. Even though she likes sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, Faith is still religious, the story notes. Her character will appear in a major story line in the show's upcoming sixth season.

maggie-grace.jpg

Maggie Grace

more »

Will Angus T. Jones Be Back on 'Two and a Half Men'? CBS Hopes So

"Two and a Half Men" is poised for a renewal from CBS, but much speculation continues to focus on the show’s youngest regular cast member, Angus T. Jones, EW.com's Inside TV reports.

"We’d like him to be a part of it next year,” CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler said at the Television Critics Association press tour.

While a renewal wouldn’t be a surprise given the show's strong ratings, it's not possible to take cast returns for granted, the story notes. Speculation that Jones might leave was jump-started by his criticism of the show last year, when he said he didn't want to be on the program, as previously reported.

“The kid’s 19 years old,” said Tassler. “I’ve got a 24-year-old. Between the ages of 19 and 24 there’s been plenty of things my kid has come out and said that I wish he hadn’t, but the bottom line is cooler heads prevailed. [Jones has] been a beloved member of that cast for years and years and he issued a public apology. At the end of the day, they want him back and he wants to come back and that’s it.”

more »

NBC to Continue Supporting Gun Show

NBC Sports will continue its support of the biggest U.S. gun trade show, which will be held this week in Las Vegas, reports Bloomberg.

NBC Sports Network will be the 2013 SHOT (Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade) Show New Product Center Sponsor, even after longtime NBC host Bob Costas criticized gun laws following the murder-suicide of Jovan Belcher, a pro football player who killed his girlfriend before taking his own life, the story notes.

NBC Sports Network has sponsored the show for several years, the story notes, citing a spokesman for the network. Formerly called Versus, the channel airs hunting and fishing shows and is a sponsor of the gun show because of its "commitment to our outdoor-programming block,” the spokesman said.

 

more »

'Sex and the City' Prequel to Spotlight AIDS

The "Sex and the City" prequel on the CW will deal with AIDS and the consequences of drug use and promiscuity, reports the New York Post.

The show, "The Carrie Diaries," is set in 1984 and will debut tonight.

“I don’t think we can play a series that takes place in the '80s and in New York and not examine that,” producer Amy Harris said Sunday at the Television Critics Association press tour.

The show, which features Carrie Bradshaw as a teen, won't introduce young versions of Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte during the first season.

"Hopefully the audience will fall in love with Carrie Bradshaw at 16, learn about her world and all these other people in it, and then we will slowly integrate these other characters," Harris said.

AnnaSophia Robb stars as the teenage version of the character made famous by Sarah Jessica Parker in the long-running HBO series.

annasophia-robb2.jpg

AnnaSophia Robb

 

more »

Fox Passes on Cuba Gooding Jr. Project

Fox has officially passed on "Guilty," a project from Greg Berlanti that starred Cuba Gooding Jr. as a defense attorney, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The hourlong drama project was initially developed for the 2012-13 season, then pushed back for a potential 2013 debut. Gooding's character was an ethically challenged attorney who goes on to solve cases after being stripped of his law license, the story notes.

 

more »

Washington Attorney General's Office Decides Not to Prosecute NBC Host Over High-Capacity Gun Magazine

In a high-profile case that became part of the national debate over gun rights and gun control in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, the Washington, D.C., Attorney General’s Office has announced that it won’t charge NBC News host David Gregory with illegally possessing a high-capacity gun magazine, TVNewser.com reports.

As previously reported, Gregory became the subject of an investigation after he held up a high-capacity magazine while interviewing NRA head Wayne LaPierre as part of a segment on gun regulations in late December. It's illegal to own a high-capacity magazine while in Washington, DC, the story notes.

A petition was circulated demanding that Gregory be formally charged in the incident on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” as we reported previously.

The Attorney General’s Office said that while the law was broken, a prosecution "would not promote public safety.” The decision did not come "lightly or easily," it said, and the office chastised NBC for its initial "feeble and unsatisfactory" response."

A representative for "Meet the Press" said the empty magazine was shown for journalistic purposes, and said it had no further comment.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for david-gregory.jpg

David Gregory

 

more »

Showtime Orders Horror Series From 'Skyfall' Director

Showtime has given a series commitment to a drama series from "Skyfall" director Sam Mendes and writer John Logan, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The period drama, “Penny Dreadful,” will include literary characters such as Dorian Gray and Dr. Frankenstein and is called a "psychosexual horror."

"The visual spectacle combined with the psychological insight in their reimagining of these iconic literary characters seems totally mesmerizing to me. This promises to be a wholly original television show," Showtime Entertainment President David Nevins said.

The drama, which will tape in London, will be fast-tracked for a 2014 debut, the story adds.

more »

'South Park' Creators Launch Production Studio

The creators of the irreverent animated show "South Park" are creating their own production studio, based on revenue from the Comedy Central show and their Broadway hit, "The Book of Mormon," reports The New York Times.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone's new studio will have an estimated value of $300 million, the story says. It will have the ability to create television, movie and theater projects, with one of the planned projects being a movie version of "The Book of Mormon."

“Having worked with several different studios over the years, we came to realize that our favorite people in the world are ourselves," Parker and Stone said in a news release announcing the new venture, which will be called Important Studios.

They are following a tradition of Hollywood types who have created their own studios to gain creative and distribution control, the story notes.

Merv Griffin and Dick Clark are among those who created their own studios, with Dick Clark Productions continuing beyond Clark's death in 2012, the story notes. More recently, Ryan Seacrest created Ryan Seacrest Productions, which has produced reality shows such as "Keeping Up with the Kardashians."

Stone and Parker have also tapped investors for funding, including Raine Group chief Joseph Ravitch, who has invested $60 million for a stake of about 20%. Ravitch's firm is a boutique merchant bank with a focus on entertainment and sports.

more »

Showtime Will Use 'Homeland' and 'Dexter' to Help Launch Two New Shows

Showtime plans to use "Homeland" and "Dexter" to help give a push to two new programs, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

"Dexter" will return June 30, earlier than usual, as a lead-in to "Ray Donovan," a drama featuring actor Liev Schreiber, who will star as a fixer for the wealthy.

"Homeland" will return Sept. 29 and serve as a lead-in for "Masters of Sex," a drama about Masters and Johnson, researchers into the science of human sexuality, the piece notes.

"Our plan is to harness the strength of these two shows to launch the next generation of new dramas on Showtime," Showtime Entertainment President David Nevins said.

more »

CBS Series Surges to Historic High

As NBC and Fox struggled to find viewers for their prime-time programming Thursday night, CBS saw the ratings continue to surge for “The Big Bang Theory,” based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “Big Bang” topped its all-time best number in the key 18-49 demo, delivering a 6.3 average rating -- two-tenths of a point better than last week’s 6.1, which was a series high at the time. The show also drew 19.78 million total viewers, an especially impressive number given that broadcast prime time has been suffering through a period of generally low viewership.

Even with the rest of its lineup down, CBS coasted to an easy win for the night. CBS’s “Two and a Half Men” fell three-tenths from last week to a 4.2 in viewers 18-49, “Person of Interest” dipped one-tenth to a 3.3 and “Elementary” slipped two-tenths to a 2.4

CBS won the night with a 3.6 average rating in 18-49 for prime time overall, outpacing ABC (2.4 average), Univision (1.6), NBC (1.5) and Fox (0.9). CBS dominated total viewers, averaging 14.7 million to 7.8 million for ABC, 4.1 million for Univision, 3.9 million for NBC and 2.7 million for Fox.

ABC’s “Scandal” hit a season high with a 2.8 average rating in the 18-49 demo, up four-tenths from its previous original episode. “Grey’s Anatomy” was also up, rising two-tenths to a 3.1, and “Last Resort” climbed three-tenths to a 1.2.

NBC’s new show “1600 Penn” didn’t fare as well as it did when it debuted with “The Voice” as a lead-in, managing only a 1.6 in viewers 18-49 its time period premiere, down six-tenths from its previous 2.2. “30 Rock” rose three-tenths, leaving it at a 1.4, “The Office” ticked up one-tenth to a 2.2 and “Rock Center” eased up one-tenth to a 1.1.

Fox aired a repeat of “Glee” (0.7 in 18-49) along with a fresh episode of “Mobbed,” which rose one-tenth from last week to a 1.2.

more »

As the Consumer Electronics Show Winds Down: Is the Future Really Giant 112-Inch Ultra HD TV Sets? Says LG About These Giant TVs: You Don't Just Watch Your Favorite Program, You Live It!

As the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas winds down, one of the  highlights of the show was the showing of Ultra HD TV sets.

"About 213 million high-definition televisions were expected to have sold globally by the end of 2012, writes Cecilia Kang in The Washington Post. "TV makers need to keep consumers coming back, so they are introducing Ultra HD televisions that make the HDTV of five years ago look outdated. Showcased by Samsung, LG, Panasonic and Sony, these televisions have 8 million pixels -- four times the number of previous versions. The show organizers are calling the Ultra HD technology '4K' and say it is meant to be 'immersive' television viewing. Or as LG says, 'You’ll feel like you’re living, not watching, your favorite shows.' "

The story continues, "Ultra HDTVs are also super-jumbo. Westinghouse is expected to unveil a 112-inch TV, and Sony, Samsung and LG will display 84-inch screens -- so big that the screen seems like it draws in a whole room. That makes it harder to sell in many countries outside the United States, where houses are smaller and walls sometimes aren’t even that wide, analysts say."

The story also notes that "Samsung and LG are going super-small, too, with 5.5-inch flexible screens to be used in future e-readers, smartphones, and tablets for sports and military combat. They are more durable for commuters and can be knocked around in classrooms."

The article concludes by noting, "Analysts say many of the televisions and multimedia devices at CES this week won’t make it to retail shelves. For example, recent pushes for 3-D and Internet-enabled TVs haven’t appealed to mainstream consumers. 'Device manufacturers are trying to drive a change in consumer behavior, which is a very hard thing to change,' said Carl Howe, vice president of the Yankee Group."

more »

Larry King Sounds Off About Piers Morgan, His CNN Replacement -- and He's Not Exactly a Fan

After two years of watching Piers Morgan's talk show, which took over "Larry King Live's" time slot on CNN, King has a few things to say about how Morgan is doing.

King was asked about Morgan by The Huffington Post after Morgan stepped into a controversy over gun control -- including a verbal skirmish on the air with gun rights activist Alex Jones.

Said King: "I never gave opinions. Piers gives his opinions. The show is a lot about him as much as the guests. ... He's so different from me."

King sounded a tad disapproving of Morgan's style when he told the publication: "A lot of shows, they make it about the host and the guest becomes a prop to the host and I never liked that. ... It's not the quality that counts anymore. It's how loud did you yell, how vituperative can you be."

King added that he likes Morgan personally, and that he wishes the best for CNN, his former employer. He has suggested in the past that CNN may have "oversold" Morgan to viewers.

more »

Famed Hollywood Landmark Gets a New Name

One of the most famous landmarks in Hollywood is getting a new name, the Los Angeles Times reports. For the next 10 years, Grauman's Chinese Theater -- a landmark renown for the impressions of stars' handprints and footprints in the cement outside the entry -- will be called TCL Chinese Theatre, the story reports.

Chinese TV maker TCL purchased the naming rights for the theater for $5 million, according to the report, with the licensing deal to be in effect for 10 years. In the U.S., TCL owns the RCA TV brand.

Showman Sid Grauman first opened the theater in 1927. Today, nearly 4 million visitors annually go to the venue, which is located on Hollywood Boulevard. Commenting on the transaction, Hao Yi, vice president of TCL Group, said, "This is one of the landmarks of North America. It can be a bridge to link the cultures of China and North America."

This is the second new name for the venue. In 1973, Ted Mann, owner of an Encino, Calif.-based theater chain, bought the cinema house, and called the place Mann's Chinese Theatre. After the Mann's chain filed for bankruptcy, Warner Bros. and Viacom acquired the theater. The name reverted back to Grauman’s in 2001.

graumans-chinese-theatre.jpg

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

more »

Actress Considers Run for Senate

An actress who’s well-known to U.S. movie goers and television audiences is considering running for Senate in her home state of Kentucky. TV Guide reports that Ashley Judd is contemplating mounting a challenge to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014.

Judd is known for her feature film roles but also starred last year in the ABC thriller “Missing” and has previously appeared in the TV series “Sisters” and in TV movies including “Norma Jean & Marilyn.” She has played lead roles in the features “Kiss the Girls,” “Double Jeopardy,” “Where the Heart Is” and “Ruby in Paradise,” among others.

Judd is a part of the prominent entertainment family that also includes country music stars Naomi Judd and Wynonna Judd, her mother and half-sister, respectively. Ashley Judd is married to three-time Indy 500 champion Dario Franchitti.

Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth confirmed Judd, known for her political activism, is getting more serious about politics. Yarmuth is quoted as saying: "I think she's very interested in becoming a candidate for some office, whether it's next year against Mitch McConnell or it's against Rand Paul, whether it's for some other office I don't know, but she's a very serious potential candidate.”

Naomi Judd sounded unenthusiastic about her daughter’s potential political career during a recent interview with Larry King, telling him: "As of right now, she doesn't know. I can tell you she's very interested in changing the world and she knows that politics unfortunately right now is one of the ways she could do that."

ashley-judd.jpg.jpg

Ashley Judd

more »

CBS Drama Series to Showcase Seven Unreleased Tracks by Jimi Hendrix

CBS has a big night worked up for Sunday, Jan. 20, when the network will follow the AFC Championship Game with a special episode of “Hawaii Five-0,” TV Guide reports. The episode will feature seven unreleased songs by rock guitar great Jimi Hendrix, who died in 1970.

Following the football game -- which will determine which AFC team goes to the Super Bowl -- the “Five-0” episode will air at 10 p.m. ET. The show will feature the songs "Bleeding Heart," "Mojo Man," "Hey Gypsy Boy," "Inside Out," "Crash Landing," "Hear My Train A Comin'" and "Somewhere."

The seven tracks will subsequently be included in a new Hendrix album called "People, Hell and Angels," to be released Tuesday, March 5.

more »

'Game of Thrones' Actor Has Cancer

An actor who has appeared in the HBO drama series "Game of Thrones" has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Wilko Johnson, who plays Ser Ilyn Payne on the HBO show, is also known as the guitarist for the 1970s U.K. band Dr. Feelgood. His manager, Robert Hoy, announced his illness on Johnson's Facebook page earlier this week.

Hoy wrote that Johnson has "chosen not to receive any chemotherapy." Johnson isn't yet suffering physical effects, Hoy added.

"He has just set off on a trip to Japan; on his return we plan to complete a new CD, make a short tour of France, then give a series of farewell gigs in the U.K. There is also a live DVD in the pipeline, filmed on the last U.K. tour," he wrote.

wilko-johnson.jpg

Wilko Johnson

 

more »

CNET Owner CBS Corp. Pulls One of CNET's Best of Consumer Electronics Show Awards. Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, Cries 'Censorship'

CBS Corp, which owns the respected tech website CNET, stepped in at the last minute to prevent one of the prestigious CNET Best of CES Awards to be presented, reports The New York Post.

Just before Dish was set to receive an award at the giant Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas for its Hopper DVR device, CBS Corp. stepped in to stop the award from being presented, The Post reports.

The Hopper allows viewers to skip through commercials in programs that they record.

According to the story, "Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association, which produces CES, told The Post he hopes CBS will reconsider. 'We are extremely disappointed that CBS has interfered with CNET’s Best of CES Awards,' he said. 'Due to a pending lawsuit, CNET parent CBS is practicing censorship.'

"CBS Interactive [the division of CBS Corp. under which CNET resides] said in response that 'The Dish Hopper with Sling was removed from consideration due to active litigation involving our parent company CBS Corp. We will no longer be reviewing products manufactured by companies with which we are in litigation with respect to such product.'

"A Dish spokesman told The Post, 'It’s a shame. It’s reflective of CBS’s lack of acceptance of what the consumer wants.'"

more »

'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire' Losing Vieira as Host

The syndicated version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" is losing former "Today" co-host Meredith Vieira, who has hosted the quiz show since its syndicated debut in 2002, reports Deadline.com.

The departure comes as Vieira hit the last year of her current contract, with Vieira deciding to move on to other things, the piece notes. A search is on to find a replacement.

Vieira has already finished taping the current season of "Millionaire," which will continue to air originals with her as host through May, followed by repeats through the summer. After that, the show will introduce a new host.

 

more »

ABC Considering Live-Action 'Star Wars' Series

ABC is taking a look at a "Star Wars" live-action television series, now that Disney's deal to buy Lucasfilm is done, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Said ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee: “We haven’t even sat down with them. We’re going to look at [the live-action series], we’re going to look at all of them, and see what’s right. We weren’t able to discuss this with them until [the acquisition] closed and it just closed. It’s definitely going to be part of the conversation.”

Many aren't aware that Lucasfilm had been working on a live-action "Star Wars" television show, the story notes.

"The project was commissioned by longtime Lucasfilm producer Rick McCallum, who enlisted writers such as 'Battlestar Galactica's’ Ron Moore,” the piece notes.

After 50 scripts were written, nothing happened, with the visual effects considered too expensive for a broadcast or cable network, according to the report.

 

more »

BBC Star Committed More Than 200 Criminal Sexual-Abuse Offenses

The late BBC star Jimmy Savile committed more than 200 criminal sexual-abuse offenses at the broadcaster and in hospitals and mental health facilities, Bloomberg reports, citing a police report.

The youngest victim was 8 years old, while most ranged between 13 and 16, police said. Reports of abuse started in 1965 and lasted through 2006, when Savile’s final broadcast of BBC's "Top of the Pops" aired.

“Savile was a prolific, predatory sex offender and the scale of his abuse is believed to be unprecedented in the U.K.,” the Metropolitan Police Service said.

The police said his final recorded offense was in 2009, when he reached up the skirt of a 43-year-old woman. His last victim at the BBC, in 2006, was a child, the story adds.

 

more »

Skepticism Surfaces About Oprah's Interview With Lance Armstrong, as Some Question Whether It Will Be Hard-Hitting Enough

"Lance Armstrong’s 90-minute interview with Oprah Winfrey next week has been greeted with widespread skepticism and suspicion that it will turn into a “stage-managed” confessional," is part of the headline on a report in the U.K. publication The Telegraph.

The piece reports: "'Only Lance would get to have his moment of truth, if that’s what it will be, in front of Oprah Winfrey,” British cyclist David Millar [tells the Telegraph]. 'It is not sitting in front of a judge or a disciplinary hearing being properly questioned about the things he has done wrong.'

“'I doubt very much it will be a proper interrogation,' [Millar continues]. 'My biggest concern is that it will be completely stage-managed, that he will just be "given-the-ball," and that it will all be about his emotions rather that concentrating on exactly what he did wrong.'”

The article continues: "Winfrey has interviewed Armstrong before and her website carries a photograph of her leaning on the cyclist’s shoulder and wearing a Livestrong wristband, the iconic motif of his cancer charity. Her Oprah Winfrey Network channel is a joint venture with the Discovery Channel, which was the title sponsor of Armstrong’s team between 2004-2007."

To read TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross's blistering piece about Armstrong's comments during his first press conference when the Discovery cycling sponsorship was initially announced, please click here

The Telegraph article adds: "'It is so predictable it is pathetic,” said Jaimie Fuller, the founder of Change Cycling Now, a pressure group demanding reform of the sport. “We will hear the convenient truth. The parts that will work best for his image manipulation.'

"'What we are going to hear is, "I had to do it because everybody else was doing it, if I didn’t do it I would not have been able to create this wonderful foundation that has done such amazing things for cancer and I am really sorry but please forgive me." What I would like to hear him say is how sorry he is to all the people he did his dirty tricks on. The people he has publicly belittled and treated appallingly.'”

The Telegraph article also says: "Three years ago Winfrey was criticized for handling Marion Jones sympathetically when she interviewed the disgraced American athlete following her release from prison after being convicted for perjury over her use of steroids."

more »

Joss Whedon's 'S.H.I.E.L.D' on Fast Track at ABC, With Good Shot at Series Order

ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee said he's optimistic about the chances that Joss Whedon's "S.H.I.E.L.D." project will get a series order, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

"We're very hopeful that's going to go to series. … It's a great script," Lee said at the Television Critics Association press tour. He added, "We fast-tracked that, and we'll see it a lot earlier than the others."

ABC ordered the project straight to pilot in August, and filming is likely to begin in March. It's based on Marvel Comics’ secret intelligence organization, which has appeared in titles such as "Iron Man" and "Captain America." 

more »

Tattoo and All? 'Law & Order: SVU' to Feature Mike Tyson as Murderer in TV Acting Debut

We’re resisting the temptation to call it typecasting, but "Law & Order: SVU" will feature former boxer Mike Tyson in his major television acting debut, reports Deadline.com.

Tyson will play Reggie Rhodes, a murderer on death row whose case draws Benson, played by Mariska Hargitay, and defense attorney Bayard Ellis, played by Andre Braugher.

The episode will also feature Ed Asner, the piece notes.

Tyson, who has done some hard time himself -- serving three years on a rape conviction in the 1990s -- has appeared in "The Hangover" franchise and played himself in a couple of TV comedies, but this is the first major acting job for Tyson, the story notes.

The story doesn’t mention Tyson’s unusual facial tattoo.

mike-tyson.jpg

Mike Tyson

 

more »

ABC Fetching Higher Ad Prices for Oscars

ABC is getting more money for commercial time on its broadcast of the Oscars, with a 30-second spot going for between $1.65 million and $1.8 million in this year's show, reports Brian Steinberg in Advertising Age.

That's up slightly from the $1.6 million to $1.7 million the network fetched in 2012, the story notes.

"The network is verging on selling out its inventory ... and with ad time now scarce, it's trying to see whether latecomers may pay as much as $2 million for a 30-second ad," Steinberg writes.

He adds, "The pricing suggests that marketers are placing more value on the Oscars. In 2008, ads in the glitzy awards ceremony were going for around $1.82 million, but dropped in 2009 to around $1.3 million after the recession and ratings woes tamped down some of the telecast's appeal."

Expectations for this year's show are higher than in previous years, with a new producing team, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, known for their Broadway shows. Host Seth MacFarlane, who created the irreverent "Family Guy" show, has helped the broadcast "cast a wide net," according to Christina Kounelias, chief marketing officer for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

more »

HLN Readies New Daytime News Show

HLN is preparing to roll out a new daytime show hosted by Kyra Phillips, a 13-year CNN veteran who joined HLN last summer, reports TVNewser.com.

Phillips will host "Raising America," which will debut Feb. 4 at noon. The new show will provide "news through the parent’s perspective," Phillips said.

"I have spent my whole career covering wars, going to the South Pole, doing investigative pieces, doing high-profile interviews with world leaders,” said Phillips, who has twins with Fox News senior national correspondent John Roberts.

“Now I am a mom -- I am a mom in my mid-40s -- and my husband and my kids and my family are so important to me. I am taking the two things that I love, my journalism background combined with being a mom, and I am going to fold that into the new show," she said.

kyra-phillips2.jpg

Kyra Phillips

more »

TNT Greenlights Business-Makeover Show

A business-makeover show has been given the green light by TNT, with British entrepreneur Peter Jones traveling across the U.S. to save small businesses, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

"Save Our Business" will focus on a struggling company each week, with Jones working on a plan to help it survive.

The show was give a six-episode order and will debut in late 2013. It comes from A. Smith & Co., the same production company behind "Hell's Kitchen" and "Kitchen Nightmares," the story says.

more »

Get Ready for a New and Improved 'COPS' -- Reboot of Iconic Crime Show Cleared in 80% of Country

The onetime Fox Saturday night staple “COPS” is marking its 20th anniversary as a syndicated strip, and Twentieth Television is marking the occasion by rolling out an updated version, “COPS Reloaded,” B&C reports.

The show has been cleared in 80% of the U.S. for a fall 2013 debut, the story reports.

Said Paul Franklin, executive VP and general sales manager, broadcast sales, for Twentieth: "It's such an iconic brand, and after 20 years in syndication we felt there were a lot of things we could do to freshen up, re-energize, re-create the show, while still keeping the things that the ‘COPS’ viewers love about the show. Every episode will be re-edited. Different segments will have the best chases, funniest and wildest criminals, or the show's craziest moments in the show, but it will retain that great ‘COPS’ storytelling."

B&C notes: “The show is sold in two-year deals to stations such as CBS-owned WLNY New York, KTXA Dallas, WUPA Atlanta, WBFS Minneapolis and WPCW Pittsburgh; Ellis-owned KDOC Los Angeles; Weigel's WCIU Chicago; Tribune's KCPQ/KZJO Seattle and KTXL Sacramento, as well as stations in the Sinclair, Gannett and Meredith Groups.”

John Langley, the show’s creator and executive producer, is bullish on the show’s future. "I think ‘COPS’ will be in syndication forever," he said. "’COPS’ performs extremely well in syndication and on basic cable. It's always done well in off-net."

“COPS Reloaded,” from Langley Productions, is set to air in blocks of two half-hours in most markets, the piece notes.

more »

What's Next for the Channel That Brought Us 'Best Funeral Ever'?

Hot on the heels of its controversial unscripted show “Best Funeral Ever,” TLC is poised to once again venture into reality TV with “Plastic Wives,” TheWrap.com reports.

The program, set up as a special that could become a backdoor pilot for a series, is scheduled to premiere Jan. 27. The show focuses on the wives of Beverly Hills plastic surgeons.

The special is built around “a quartet of women who've wed plastic surgeons, and aren't shy about using their husbands' services in the pursuit of eternal youth. (Or at least the appearance of eternal youth.)” the story reports.

TLC says about the program: "These women are so obsessed with looks that they’ll stop at nothing to attain perfection from head to toe -- and everywhere in between. From labiaplasty to chin liposuction to G-Spot injections, these extreme treatments have become routine for those living inside this industry."

The cast includes Alana Sands, former "Extra" co-host Dayna Devon, Frances Marques and Veronica Matlock, the piece reports. Matlock, the story notes, lovingly refers to her husband as "the vagina man."

The show comes from Lighthearted Entertainment, which was also responsible for "Sex Wars," "Love Shack" and "USA vs. the World."

 

more »

Kimmel's Numbers Slip in Second Night Going Head-to-Head With Jay and Dave

Jimmy Kimmel’s fast start Tuesday night in the 11:35 p.m. slot didn’t hold up on night two. Bill Carter reports in The New York Times that Kimmel’s ABC show slipped to third place in its head-to-head battle with NBC’s Jay Leno and CBS’s David Letterman.

As we reported yesterday, Kimmel gave Leno a fight for first place on Tuesday, the night of Kimmel’s move from midnight to 11:30 p.m.

On Wednesday, Kimmel’s viewer total dipped while both Letterman and Leno posted gains.

“The strength of Mr. Leno and NBC’s ‘Tonight’ show was underscored by his margin among total viewers,” Carter writes. “On Wednesday, Mr. Leno averaged 3.55 million viewers, up from 3.27 million the night before. That put Mr. Leno in a strong first-place position among total viewers.

“Mr. Letterman also experienced an upward bounce, to 3.04 million total viewers from 2.88 million.

“Mr. Kimmel, meanwhile, saw his viewer total drop off to 2.86 million viewers from 3.09 million on Tuesday night -- meaning he finished third in viewers on his second night.”

Kimmel fared better, however, in the key demo of viewers 18-49. His total in the demo surged to 1.08 million, up from 887,000 the night before. Kimmel came close to a tie with Leno in the demo, with Leno just 6,000 viewers ahead.

Letterman also saw a sizable increase in viewers 18-49, rising from 683,000 on Tuesday to 998,000 last night.

more »

TV Station Operator May Go Up for Sale

A TV station operator with 13 full-power stations and seven low-power stations appears poised to be put up for sale. Reuters reports that Fisher Communications Inc. is exploring its strategic options -- including a possible sale.

The company is under pressure from billionaire investor Mario Gabelli, the piece reports.

“Gabelli, the largest shareholder in Fisher with a 28.63 percent stake, has been pushing the company to undertake a leveraged restructuring and had said in December that he was evaluating options to submit director nominations,” Reuters reports. “The company said it had not made a decision to ‘pursue any specific strategic transaction’ and had not set a timetable for the review process.”

The company said it has retained Moelis & Company as a financial adviser, the piece notes, adding that Fisher has a market value of about $252.8 million. Fisher is delaying its annual shareholders meeting until June 9 while it completes its strategic review.

Among the stations Fisher owns are KOMO-TV in Seattle, KATU-TV in Portland, Ore., KLEW-TV in Spokane, Wash., KBOI-TV in Boise, Idaho, and KBAK-TV in Bakersfield, Calif.

more »

Rookie Talk Show Picked Up for Second Season

In a crowded field of first-year syndicated talk shows, one of the stronger performers got good news today when Barry Wallach, president of NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution, and David Goldberg, chairman and CEO of Endemol North America, jointly announced that “Steve Harvey” was renewed for a second season in national syndication, B&C reports.

“The eponymously named show is currently sold in 98% of the country, including on all of the NBC Owned Television Stations,” the story reports. “The show also is getting upgrades in Detroit, Phoenix, Portland, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City, Austin, Buffalo, Fresno, Ft. Meyers, Tucson, Honolulu, Des Moines, Madison, Tri Cities and Burlington, among many others.

The show already had clearances in much of the U.S. with two-year deals, but the new announcement confirms that “Harvey” will be back next year. Additionally, NBCUniversal is extending the show on its stations through 2016.

In a statement, Wallach said: "The instant success of ‘Steve Harvey’ with the daytime audience is being greeted with long-term commitments from our station partners.”

Goldberg added: "This project was a long time in the making and it would not have been possible without the incredibly talented Steve Harvey. His humor, honesty and insight were an immediate hit with the daytime audience.”

B&C notes: “This season, ‘Steve Harvey’ has been the only rookie talk show to improve over year-ago time periods, build on its lead-ins and grow over consecutive quarter-hour ratings in the November 2012 sweep, according to Nielsen Media Research. The show is averaging a 1.3 live plus same day household rating season to date and a 0.9 among women 25-54.”

Harvey also just won the People's Choice Award for best new talk show host, the report notes.

more »

Charlie Sheen Pays for Photographer's Funeral

In what seems an unlikely connection between a celebrity and the family of a fallen paparazzo, actor Charlie Sheen has cut a check for $12,000 to help pay for the funeral of Chris Guerra, TMZ.com reports. Guerra, 29, died on New Year’s Day after being hit by a car while taking photos of Justin Bieber’s Ferrari, as previously reported.

“Turns out, Charlie is tight with a former photog who was friends with Guerra ... and got word that the family was trying to raise money to cover the costs,” TMZ reports. “So Charlie, being Charlie, sprung into action and grabbed his checkbook.”

After being contacted by the website, Sheen provided a statement saying: "A tragic incident like this erases the line between the photographer and the subject. It's an unforgiving moment that begs us all to be human and work as one to prevent this in the future."

Sheen added: "As parents, we are all not supposed to bury our children. My deepest condolences to the families involved."

more »

Another 'Birther' Controversy: Donald Trump Demands $5 Million From Bill Maher

"Celebrity Apprentice" host Donald Trump is demanding $5 million from comedian Bill Maher, holding Maher's feet to the fire after a television appearance by Maher mocking Trump’s “birther” demands, Yahoo News reports.

In an appearance Monday on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno," Maher offered to donate $5 million to a charity of Trump's choice if Trump could prove he's not the "spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan," according to the story. Maher's comment mocked Trump's announcement back in October that he would donate $5 million if President Obama released his college records.

Trump's attorney on Tuesday sent a letter to Maher with the birth certificate attached, asking him to donate the money to several charities, including Hurricane Sandy Victims, The Police Athletic League, The American Cancer Society, The March of Dimes, and The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

A representative for Maher didn't immediately return a request for comment, Yahoo News reports.

more »

'Lincoln' Leads Oscar Nominations With 12 Nods; 9-Year-Old Becomes Youngest in History to Be Nominated for Best Actress -- We Have the Full List of Nominees

Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” positioned itself at the head of the pack of nominees for the 85th Academy Awards, receiving 12 nominations today, including best picture, CNN reports.

Spielberg earned a nomination for best director, while the film’s other key nods included Daniel Day-Lewis for best actor, Sally Field for best supporting actress, Tommy Lee Jones for best supporting actor and Tony Kushner for best adapted screenplay.

"Life of Pi" was close behind, scoring 11 nominations, including best picture, along with best director for Ang Lee.

“As always, there were a handful of surprises,” the story reports. “The most notable, perhaps, was the showing by the small independent film ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild.’ Its 9-year-old star, Quvenzhane Wallis, earned a nomination for best actress, becoming the youngest person ever in that category. In addition, the film was nominated for best picture, best director (Benh Zeitlin) and best adapted screenplay -- four nominations in all.”

One surprise was the lack of a nomination for Tom Hooper, director of “Les Miserables,” for best director -- even though the film received eight nominations. But Hooper wasn’t alone in being spurned, among directors of best picture nominees.

“Neither Quentin Tarantino nor Kathryn Bigelow received best director nominations, though their films -- ‘Django Unchained’ and ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ respectively -- received best picture nominations,” the report notes. “The snub of Bigelow, who won an Oscar for ‘The Hurt Locker,’ was particularly surprising, as she and her film have dominated critics' lists during awards season.”

The best picture nominees are: "Amour," "Argo," "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Django Unchained," "Les Miserables," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln," "Silver Linings Playbook," "Zero Dark Thirty."

Best actor nominees: Bradley Cooper, "Silver Linings Playbook"; Daniel Day-Lewis, "Lincoln"; Hugh Jackman, "Les Miserables"; Joaquin Phoenix, "The Master"; Denzel Washington, "Flight."

Best actress nominees: Jessica Chastain, "Zero Dark Thirty"; Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook"; Emmanuelle Riva, "Amour"; Quvenzhane Wallis, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"; Naomi Watts, "The Impossible."

The Oscars ceremony is set for Feb. 24 at the Dolby Theatre (formerly the Kodak Theatre) in Los Angeles, to be aired live on ABC.

Click here to see the full list of nominations announced today.

more »

Britney Spears Quits 'X Factor'

After rumors circulated that Britney Spears was poised to get the boot from “The X Factor,” as we reported last month, the singer has decided to get proactive and quit the show, TMZ.com reports.

The website reports: “We have unimpeachable sources who tell us Britney loves the show but wants to focus on her music ... which she is doing right now. Britney is in the studio recording her 8th album, with some help from Will.i.am and producer Hit-Boy, the brains behind Kanye and Jay-Z's ‘N****s in Paris.’"

Sources close to the show confirmed that Spears quit the show because she did not expect to be invited back for next season, MTV News reports.

“Spears will be a one-termer after ratings for the show's second season suffered a double-digit dip last year,” MTV reports. “The singer, whose most lasting legacy on ‘Factor’ could end up being her GIF-worthy grab bag of surprised/bored/blank facial expressions, has not officially been dropped from the panel yet, but the failure to launch made the writing on the wall very clear.”

Fox had no comment on the story.

MTV adds: “The signing of Spears was a gamble for [Simon] Cowell, considering that the press-shy singer has been reluctant to go in front of cameras for several years following a string of personal problems that began in 2007. The news came just days after Fox Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly told reporters that he was pleased with Spears' job on ‘Factor.’"

Appearing earlier this week at the Television Critics Association press tour, Reilly said: "I thought it went very, very well. It was fraught with unknowns, and I think Britney did a very good job. People are fascinated with her and always will be. Last year the ratings were a little bit higher, but I think it was a better show this year. I think she tucked in really nicely on the bench."

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for britney-spears.jpg

Britney Spears

more »

Video: Beauty Queen Who Was the Focus of Musburger Comments Speaks Out About the Controversy

Katherine Webb, the girlfriend of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron, told the "Today" show's Matt Lauer that the apology from ESPN over comments made about her looks by commentator Brent Musburger wasn't needed, reports the New York Post.

Webb, the reigning Miss Alabama USA, indicated she was flattered by the attention.

As previously reported, ESPN apologized for Musburger's comments, made when the camera focused on Webb, 23, in the crowd during the BCS title game. Musburger said, "You quarterbacks, you get all the good-looking women," and urged kids in Alabama to start playing football.

On the "Today" show, Lauer asked her how she felt about his comments.

“I think the media has been really unfair to him,’’ she said. “If he would have said something along the lines that we were hot or sexy or made any derogatory statements like that, that would have been a little bit different."

She added, "The fact he said we were beautiful and gorgeous, I don’t see why any woman wouldn’t be flattered by that."

As for the apology, Webb said, "You know, I don’t think it was needed, honestly. Of course I appreciate it."

Here's the clip of Webb's appearance on "Today":

 

more »

MSNBC Host Says He Wants to Become U.S. Senator

The host of an MSNBC opinion show said Tuesday he wants to be appointed as the interim senator for Massachusetts, reports The Huffington Post.

Lawrence O'Donnell, who hosts the nightly program “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” requested the appointment on his show.

The state will hold a special election once John Kerry is confirmed as Secretary of State, but in the meantime the governor must appoint an interim senator, the story says.

“I cannot believe it has come to this, that I have to float my own name to get in this mix for this Senate appointment,” O’Donnell said on his show, according to TVNewser.com. “You know how embarrassing this is?”

“During a cable news appearance, former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank revealed that he would like Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to appoint him as the interim senator,” The Huffington Post reports. “So O'Donnell floated his own name as a possible contender on ‘The Last Word.’ The interim senator will likely be involved with Congress' upcoming negotiation on the debt ceiling. O'Donnell was previously the Senate Finance Committee's chief of staff, and touted his past experience.”

O’Donnell offered a deal to Frank, the piece notes, saying: "If I can become a temporary senator, maybe he can become a temporary host of a 10 p.m. program on MSNBC.”

O’Donnell goes into the complex scenario behind the move in this clip from his show:

more »

White House Rules on Piers Morgan Deportation Effort

Responding to a petition requesting the deportation of CNN host Piers Morgan because of his views on gun control, the White House said Morgan can stay in the U.S., reports Forbes.com.

In a statement explaining the decision, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the First Amendment shouldn't be violated over arguments about the Second Amendment.

“Americans may disagree on matters of public policy and express those disagreements vigorously, but no one should be punished by the government simply because he or she expressed a view on the Second Amendment -- or any other matter of public concern," Carney wrote.

The petition gained more than 109,000 signees, beyond the 30,000 signatures necessary to require a response from the White House, Forbes notes.

 

more »

Video: Monopoly Game to Scrap One of Its Iconic Game Pieces

In the “news that doesn’t matter but some people find interesting anyway” department, Today.com reports that the makers of the game Monopoly plan to scrap one of the game pieces -- either the car, thimble, boot, dog, battleship, hat, iron or wheelbarrow.

The game is letting fans decide, via an online vote, which piece gets the ax. Reportedly, the wheelbarrow and hat are trailing in early voting.

The losing game piece will make way for a new one -- reportedly a cat, diamond ring, guitar, helicopter or robot.

Here’s a clip about it:

more »

T.S. Cook, Writer of 'The China Syndrome,' Dead at 65

Veteran film and television writer T.S. Cook, who is best known for writing the 1979 thriller "The China Syndrome," has died, reports Deadline.com. He was 65 and had battled cancer.

Cook received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for best screenplay for "The China Syndrome," along with co-writers Mike Gray and James Bridges, the story says.

He also received an Emmy nomination in 1996 for writing "The Tuskegee Airmen," an HBO movie that starred Laurence Fishburne. His television credits include "Baretta," "The Paper Chase" and most recently "The Hive" and "NYC: Tornado Terror," with both of those airing in 2008 on Syfy.

He was a producer and writer on the series “Airwolf” in the 1980s.

t-s-cook.jpg

T.S. Cook

more »

Plans Unveiled for Return of 'Arrested Development'

Netflix has taken the wraps off its plans for the resurrected cult comedy "Arrested Development." The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that the online-streaming company will bring back the series in May, with all 14 episodes rolling out at once.

The comedy will return after ending its first run seven years ago. Following the Bluth family, the show originally was on Fox from 2003-2006.

Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos, who spoke at the Television Critics Association press tour, didn't specify the date in May for the show's return.

While all 14 new episodes will roll out at once, creator Mitch Hurwitz said he will have a recommended order in which viewers should watch the shows, the story adds.

more »

ABC Orders Comedy From 'Hangover' Writers

ABC has given a pilot order to a comedy from "Hangover" writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The project, "Mixology," is a high-concept comedy that tracks singles as they look for love in the course of one night, the story says. It marks ABC's fourth comedy pilot order, including Adam F. Goldberg's "How the Hell Am I Normal."

more »

TNT Orders Unscripted Crime Show From Dick Wolf

An unscripted crime show from "Law & Order" creator Dick Wolf has been ordered by TNT for a summer 2013 debut, reports Deadline.com.

Called "Cold Justice," the show will track two top female investigators as they look into cold cases. One is Kelly Siegler, a Texas prosecutor for 21 years who has tried 68 murder cases, and the other investigator is Yolanda McClary, a crime scene investigator who worked for 26 years in the Las Vegas Police Department, the story says.

 

more »

ESPN Dumps Analyst Over Racially Charged Comments

ESPN has severed its relationship with a commentator after he talked on the air about whether the Washington Redskins’ rookie quarterback, Robert Griffin III, is a “brother” or a “cornball brother,” The Huffington Post reports.

As we reported previously, the commentator, Rob Parker, drew criticism over the comments he made in a December installment of ESPN’s “First Take.” Parker appeared to question Griffin’s blackness, mentioning Griffin’s “white fiancee” and questioning whether he is “down with the cause” and whether he is “one of us.”

Parker received a 30-day suspension from ESPN following the remarks, The Huffington Post reports. The network followed up Tuesday, announcing that Parker’s contract had expired and would not be picked up.

Parker’s commentary appeared to be a response to comments Griffin made in an interview with USA Today. Griffin told the publication: "For me, you don't ever want to be defined by the color of your skin. You want to be defined by your work ethic, the person that you are, your character, your personality. That's what I've tried to go out and do."

Huffington Post notes: “Parker seemed to take these comments about transcending race as a repudiation by Griffin of the African-American community.”

The video of Parker’s commentary can be seen by clicking here.

rob-parker.jpg

Rob Parker

more »

NBC Renews Long-Running Series -- VERY Long-Running Series

A TV series that will air its 12,000th episode later this week has received an official renewal from NBC, EW.com reports. The series is the daytime drama “Days of Our Lives,” which is set to air episode 12,000 on Friday.

The series, one of the longest-running scripted television series in the world, has been airing on NBC since Nov. 8, 1965. The network has renewed it through September 2014.

Steve Mosko, president of Sony Pictures Television, said in a press release: “’Days of Our Lives’ has maintained a loyal and dedicated fan base for more than four decades and continues to reach a new generation of viewers. We appreciate NBC’s support over the years and, as the show celebrates this significant milestone, we are thrilled that the show will continue to be a part of the NBC family.”

The soap opera debuted as a half-hour show in 1965, expanding to an hour 10 years later, the story points out.

more »

Comedian Larry Miller Survives Life-Threatening Brain Injury

Comedic actor Larry Miller, who's well-known for television appearances on shows including "Boston Legal," "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Seinfeld," along with feature films including "Princess Diaries" and "Runaway Bride," has recovered from a serious brain injury, reports People magazine.

Miller, 58, took a fall last April, hit his head and wound up in a coma. Just before the fall, he had completed a podcast with Adam Carolla.

Miller was hospitalized at the UCLA Medical Center and placed on life support, remaining in the hospital for a month. According to his spokesman Michael Hansen, "He was hovering between life and death. It's a miracle he woke up. ... He's lucky to be alive."

Hansen added: “He had to work on some issues regarding brain connectivity."

Miller told People, "I'm very thankful to have recovered from a traumatic brain injury so quickly." He is expected to make a full recovery, and has resumed his podcast series "This Week with Larry Miller." A new episode airs today.

larry-miller.jpg

Larry Miller

more »

'Jimmy Kimmel Live' Sees Ratings Surge With Move to 11:35 -- But How Did He Fare Against Jay and Dave?

ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” debuted in its new 11:35 p.m. time slot Tuesday night, moving into direct competition with NBC’s “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman.” ABC announced that the show delivered its second-biggest audience of all time.

Based on Nielsen Live + Same Day Fast Nationals, “Kimmel” topped “Letterman” and came in a close second to “Leno.” ABC reports that “Kimmel” improved on its season average in its previous midnight time slot by 59% in total viewers and 33% in the 18-49 demo.

Head-to-head against the two late-night veterans, “Kimmel” delivered 3.097 total viewers Tuesday night, topping “Letterman’s” 2.882 million and nearly matching “Leno’s” 3.274 million.

Among younger viewers (18-49), “Kimmel” was 30% ahead of “Letterman,” 887,000 to 683,000. “Kimmel” fell short of the number for “Leno” in the demo -- 1.084 million -- by only 197,000 viewers.

ABC also touted “Kimmel’s” performance in major markets, reporting: “In the 25 markets with Local People Meters, ‘JKL’ ranked No. 1 in its time period in Adults 18-49 in 13 markets, including the No. 1 U.S. market: New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston, Seattle, Miami, Cleveland, Orlando, Sacramento and Baltimore. In Households, ‘JKL’ won its time slot in 8 of the Top 10 markets, including each of the Top 4 (NY, LA, CH, PH).”

more »

NBC Prime-Time Shows Sink to Historic Lows

Two NBC series sank to all-time lows in the Tuesday night ratings as the Peacock Network was down almost across the board, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

CBS, meanwhile, rolled out fresh episodes of three drama series and coasted to an easy win for the night.

Hitting series lows, based on Nielsen overnights, were NBC’s “Go On,” which slipped to a 1.5 in the key 18-49 demo (down 38% from its most recent original episode, which aired Dec. 4); and “The New Normal,” which fell to a 1.3 -- off 24% from its Dec. 4 installment.

NBC didn’t get much help from back-to-back episodes of “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers.” The season premiere managed only a 1.5 -- down 16% from its regular time period premiere back in April -- while the second episode rose to a 1.8. One bright spot for NBC was “Parenthood,” whic rose 6% from last week to a 1.9.

CBS had the night’s two top shows -- “NCIS,” which rose 6% from the Dec. 18 episode to a 3.5 in viewers 18-49, and “NCIS: Los Angeles,” which held steady with a 3.0. “Vegas” also held steady, delivering a 1.6.

Fox gave NBC a run for second place, with “New Girl” (2.0 average rating in the 18-49 demo) and “Raising Hope” (1.7) faring better than “The Mindy Project” (1.5) and “Ben and Kate” (1.2).

ABC started the night with sitcom repeats and never found its footing. Settling for modest numbers were fresh episodes of “Happy Endings” (1.4 average rating in 18-49), “Don’t Trust the B” (1.1) and “Private Practice” (1.1).

For prime time overall, CBS won easily with a 2.7 average rating in viewers 18-49, followed by NBC (1.7 average), Fox (1.6), Univision (1.6) and ABC (1.3). CBS crushed the competition in total viewers, averaging 16.5 million to 5.0 million for NBC, 4.2 million for ABC, 3.9 million for Univision and 3.2 million for Fox.

more »

Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson and James Taylor Sign On for Big Event Later This Month

Three of popular music’s top stars -- Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson and James Taylor -- will be part of a big event coming up later this month, People magazine reports. The event is the presidential inauguration.

All three artists will perform iconic American songs. Beyonce will sing the National Anthem, Clarkson will perform “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” and Taylor will deliver “America the Beautiful,” the story reports. The event will take place Jan. 21 at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol.

“In 2009, Beyonce performed Etta James' classic, ‘At Last,’ while the President and Michelle Obama took their first dance during the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball,” the report notes.

Others who will be involved in the ceremony include journalist and civil rights activist Myrlie Evers-Williams, who will deliver the invocation, and the Rev. Louie Giglio, who will give the benediction.

more »

Fox Business Network Executive Dismissed, Escorted from Building

A top executive of Fox Business Network was reportedly dismissed from his job and escorted from the building, according to TVNewser.com.

A representative for the network wouldn't provide details, but did confirm that Ray Hennessey, who was director of business news, is no longer an employee.

Hennessey allegedly had a reputation for "making inappropriate comments," according to the report. He previously worked at SmartMoney.com and Dow Jones, and joined FBN in 2007.

Ray-Hennessey.jpg

Ray Hennessey

more »

ESPN Apologizes for Brent Musburger's Comments About Player's Girlfriend

ESPN has apologized for comments from commentator Brent Musburger about the girlfriend of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

As previously reported, Musburger, 73, made his comments after the camera spotted McCarron's girlfriend, Katherine Webb, in the stands during the BCS Championship Game. Musburger said, "You quarterbacks, you get all the good-looking women," and urged kids in Alabama to start playing football.

His comments drew a flood of responses on Twitter, including complaints that Musburger was objectifying Webb. Some commenters called Musburger -- and ESPN -- "creepy" and inappropriate.

"We always try to capture interesting storylines and the relationship between an Auburn grad who is Miss Alabama and the current Alabama quarterback certainly met that test," the network said. "However, we apologize that the commentary in this instance went too far and Brent understands that.”

After the incident, Webb's Twitter followers skyrocketed. As of Wednesday morning, she had more than 210,000 followers.

more »

Actress to Reprise Iconic Role on the Longest-Running U.S. Soap Opera Still in Production

The daytime drama credited by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-running U.S. soap opera currently in production -- ABC’s “General Hospital” -- is bringing a legendary actress and iconic character back on board.

EW.com’s Inside TV reports that "General Hospital" hired Emmy-winning actress Genie Francis to reprise her role as Laura Spencer on the soap opera. Francis will debut Feb. 11, just 50 days before the series reaches its 50th anniversary on April 1, the story notes.

"It’s unclear how long Francis, a.k.a. Laura, will stick around Port Charles this time," the piece says.

“General Hospital,” one of the “last soaps standing” among the perennials, is also credited by Guinness as the third-longest-running U.S. drama in television history, after daytime soaps “Guiding Light” (1952-2009) and “As the World Turns” (1956-2010).

Francis, who worked on "General Hospital" from 1976 to 2008, asked executive producer Frank Valentini to provide an explanation for why her character was gone from Port Charles for so long, according to the article.

“It’s not for me to tell them how to run their show. But my biggest concern was that there had to be a good reason for me to stay away from my family,” she said. The article doesn't note what the explanation will be.

Francis won a Daytime Emmy for her work on “General Hospital” in 2007.

genie-francis2.jpg

Genie Francis

more »

Actor Who Played Ralph the Doorman on 'The Jeffersons' Dead at 89

The actor who played Ralph the Doorman on the classic CBS comedy "The Jeffersons" has died, reports the Associated Press. He was 89.

Ned Wertimer died Jan. 2 at a Los Angeles-area nursing home, after he fell at his Burbank home in November, the piece notes.

Wertimer, who appeared on dozens of TV shows from the early 1960s through the late 1980s, was best known for his role as Ralph Hart, the doorman at the luxury apartment building in "The Jeffersons," which was a spinoff of "All in the Family." He appeared in all 11 seasons of the show, which ran from 1975 to 1985, the piece notes.

He made guest appearances on a number of TV series in a career going back to the 1950s, including appearing on “Mary Tyler Moore,” “Happy Days,” “WKRP in Cincinnati” and “Mork & Mindy.”

ned-wertimer-ralph.jpg

Ned Wertimer as Ralph the Doorman

more »

Los Angeles TV Drama Production Plummets

Television drama production in Los Angeles posted the largest annual decline on record in 2012, reports Richard Verrier in the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog.

Production of one-hour dramas in the city plunged 20% last year, the piece reports. The numbers reinforce "concerns among industry officials that cost-conscious producers increasingly are taking their business to tax-friendly production havens in New York, North Carolina, Georgia and other states," Verrier writes.

Only 22 one-hour drama pilots were filmed in Los Angeles last year, making up only 29% of all pilots produced for the 2012 season. That's down from 63% in 2007, the story notes, citing a survey from FilmL.A.

Among the beneficiaries are New York, which was home to more than six new network dramas in 2012, as well as Canadian cities such as Vancouver and Toronto.

''Sitcoms, which have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity, saw a 53% jump in production activity last year, while production of reality TV programs dropped 12%, according to the FilmL.A. report, which tracks filming on streets and noncertified soundstages," the story notes.

more »

Fox Sticking With Low-Rated Comedies to Give Them More Time

Fox wants to give a couple of low-rated comedies more time to attract audiences, reports Bloomberg, citing comments from Kevin Reilly, chairman of entertainment at Fox.

The network is standing by the sitcoms "Ben and Kate" and "The Mindy Project,” the piece reports. "Our shows weren’t rejected,” Reilly said at the Television Critics Association press tour. "They weren’t even sampled.”

Reilly said the shows will become hits as more viewers discover them. It's taking longer for programs to gain audiences because of on-demand viewing and DVRs, he said.

He also pointed to interruptions in the fall schedule from Major League Baseball coverage.

"That level of interruption hit ‘Glee,’ where the show was on four weeks, off four weeks,” Reilly said. “That means some of these shows just haven’t gotten on viewers’ radar.”

more »

Report: Lower-Priced iPhone in the Works From Apple

A lower-priced iPhone is in the works at Apple, with a possible debut set for later this year, reports The Wall Street Journal. (Please note that the site is subscription-based, and not all readers may be able to access the story.)

The new model would be similar to the standard iPhone, but with a less expensive body, the story says. One idea being considered for lowering the cost is to use a shell made of polycarbonate plastic, instead of the aluminum housing used by the standard iPhone.

A spokeswoman for Apple declined to comment.

The move comes as Apple faces more competitive pressure to offer a lower-priced option, given cheaper rivals that use Google's Android operating system, the story notes.

more »

Hey Networks, Here's a Way to Monetize Your Tweets

"It looks like networks may have some new, unexpected inventory to sell: their Twitter feeds. The Associated Press and Samsung appear to have established a template this week, where a network could place ads atop their own pages as well as feeds for individual shows, which would seem to be more coveted by advertisers."

So writes our good friend David Goetzl at Mediapost.

Goetzl adds, "The AP has sold the consumer electronics manufacturer sponsored tweets on its Twitter account this week, linked with the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where Samsung is looking to promote all kinds of would-be breakthrough hardware.

"The deal reportedly cuts Twitter out of the revenue in that the Samsung dough goes right to the AP, which says the initiative is another attempt to find new ad models in mobile and social media."

Then Goetzl writes: "The AP has more than 1.5 million followers. CNN has more than 7 million. With shows in the entertainment space, NBC's "The Voice" has more than 1 million and AMC's "Walking Dead" has about the same. "American Idol" has 670,000.

"... Sponsored tweets aren’t the most dynamic ad opportunities. They appear at the top of a Twitter feed and allow for a logo and some text, but maybe more importantly the chance to offer a link to a more compelling locale."

Read more: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/190638/follow-the-ap-and-networks-could-monetize-twitter.html#ixzz2HUn9UETQ

more »

'Bethenny' Clearances Hit 97% of Country for Fall Launch

"'Bethenny,' the one-hour daily talk show hosted by Bethenny Frankel, has been cleared in over 97% of the country following an incredibly successful six-week summer test on select Fox-owned stations," Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution announced.

The announcement continues: "The Fox-owned stations will serve as the launch partner for the show with its stations representing 37% of the country, with 60% of the clearance being on traditional affiliates of ABC, CBS and NBC from station groups representing NBC, Hearst, Gannett, Sinclair, Cox, Lin, Raycom, Post-Newsweek, Media General, Allbritton, Gray, Northwest, Journal, among many others. The announcement was made today by Ken Werner, President, and Rick Meril, Executive Vice President & General Sales Manager, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution."

About the test Warner Bros. said: "'Bethenny' ran for six weeks from June 11-July 20 on six Fox Television Stations: New York/WNYW, Los Angeles/KTTV, Philadelphia/WTXF, Dallas/KDFW, Phoenix/KSAZ, and Minneapolis/KMSP. The series immediately improved May 2012 time periods in all six markets, more than doubling inherited time periods for both Women 25-54 (+140%) and Adults 25-54 (+133%)."

The announcement added: "'This series was an instant hit during its test, representing the most successful syndicated test in Fox’s history,' said Werner. 'Most importantly, it demonstrated to stations and to audiences that Bethenny has an authentic and distinctive voice that resonates with daytime viewers. We always believed that Bethenny had the talent, popularity and credibility with daytime viewers to become appointment television day in and day out and we proved that.'”

more »

White House to Host Screening of NBC's '1600 Penn'

President Barack Obama will host the cast and crew of NBC's new comedy "1600 Penn" for a screening at the White House, reports Deadline.com.

The screening, slated for today -- Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013 -- will end a day of promotional activities for the show, including a panel and screening at the National Press Club and a guided tour of the White House, the story notes.

The cast and crew will meet Obama at 4:45 p.m. for a screening and reception, along with Obama's speechwriting team.

The series debuts Thursday and stars Bill Pullman as President Gale Gilchrist.

more »

CBS Says It Has Sold Out of Super Bowl Ad Time -- Or Has It?

CBS, which will broadcast the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, said it sold out of its commercial time for the game, Advertising Age reports.

That is, unless an advertiser wants to pay up much more than the average price of $3.7 million to $3.8 million. “Yes, we are sold out, but if one of those movie companies wants to come in and pay five or six million, we will find room," CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves said, according to The New York Times.

Moonves' jest was a reference to the movie studios tending to wait longer than other advertisers to buy their Super Bowl spots, the Times story notes.

Some of the commercial time has sold for "over $4 million," Moonves added.

The average price for last year's Super Bowl game, which aired on NBC, was $3.5 million, the Ad Age piece says.

Advertisers in this year's game include M&M, Toyota, Budweiser Black Crown and Coca-Cola, The Times notes.

more »

As DVD Sales and Rentals Fall, Streaming Revenue Rises

While DVD sales and rental revenue declined last year, spending on film and television streaming jumped sharply, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

Streaming revenue jumped to $2.3 billion in 2012 from $1.6 billion the previous year, according to the Digital Entertainment Group, a trade association.

DVD sales, however, slipped 5.5% to $8.5 billion, from almost $9 billion the previous year, while revenue from video-rental stores slumped to $1.2 billion from $1.6 billion.

Because of the jump in streaming sales, total spending on film and TV in home entertainment formats rose slightly to about $18 billion, up from $17.96 billion a year earlier, the piece notes.

more »

Lance Armstrong Agrees to Oprah Interview -- Does This Mean He Will Admit Doping?

An interview with Lance Armstrong by Oprah Winfrey will be broadcast Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, on a special editon of "Oprah's Next Chapter" on OWN, the network says.

Interestingly, TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross, in a blog entry published Oct. 11, 2012, suggested that Armstrong confess the truth in a Winfrey interview. Thus far Armstrong has vehemently denied that he's ever doped.

However, a New York Times article published on Jan. 4, 2013, and written by Juliet Macur, says that Armstrong, "who this fall was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for doping and barred for life from competing in all Olympic sports, has told associates and antidoping officials that he is considering publicly admitting that he used banned performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions during his cycling career, according to several people with direct knowledge of the situation. He would do this, the people said, because he wants to persuade antidoping officials to restore his eligibility so he can resume his athletic career."

According to the OWN announcement, "Oprah Winfrey will speak exclusively with Lance Armstrong in his first no-holds-barred interview. Armstrong will address the alleged doping scandal, years of accusations of cheating, and charges of lying about the use of performance-enhancing drugs throughout his storied cycling career.

"The special 90-minute Thursday night episode of 'Oprah’s Next Chapter' will air Thursday, January 17 (9:00 – 10:30 p.m. ET/PT) on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. In addition -- the interview will be simultaneously streamed LIVE worldwide on Oprah.com.

"In the interview, Winfrey speaks with Armstrong at his home in Austin, Texas, in the only interview since the seven-time Tour de France winner was stripped of his titles and dropped from millions of dollars in endorsement deals after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released an extensive report accusing the renown cyclist of doping throughout his career. Armstrong was given a lifetime ban on competing professionally. Late last year, Armstrong resigned as chairman of the foundation he created, Livestrong, which has raised hundreds of millions of dollars in the fight against cancer."

Oddly, a press spokesperson for OWN declined to say whether the Armstrong interview has already been taped, or when it will be taped.

more »

Is Dish's $5 Billion Bid for Wireless Network a Trojan Horse to Get Sprint To Partner with Dish?

"Dish Network Corp. made an unsolicited bid to buy wireless broadband operator Clearwire Corp. for $5.15 billion, besting Sprint Nextel Corp.'s buyout offer and setting up a potential takeover battle," reports the Denver Post.

Says the Bloomberg version of the story, the bid "has analysts wondering about Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen’s motivations."

The Bloomberg story adds, "Dish, a satellite-television company that’s expanding into the mobile-phone business, already has airwave licenses that it could use to offer wireless downloads and voice calls. Ergen’s company has been looking to bring those services to consumers by seeking partners with network equipment and tools, assets that Clearwire doesn’t have and Sprint does.

" 'It’s hard for me to imagine that what Dish wants is Clearwire,' said Craig Moffett, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in New York. 'It could be a chess move to get a partnership with Sprint.' Dish may offer to rescind its Clearwire bid if Sprint agrees to a partnership, Moffett said. It’s also possible that Dish is seeking any way it can to control a wireless company, and Clearwire is the only option, he said."

more »

ABC Signs on for High-Concept Sci-Fi/FBI Drama From Feature Director Brett Ratner and 'Law & Order's' Barry Schindel

Teaming for a new drama project at ABC are high-profile feature film director Brett Ratner ("Tower Heist," "Rush Hour") and Barry Schindel, producer of “Law & Order” and “Castle," Deadline.com reports.

The project, “Tomorrow,” is “a high-concept law enforcement procedural about an FBI agent who gets trapped in a time travel scenario,” the piece reports. “Ratner, who is set to direct, and Schindel, who serves as showrunner, executive produce with [Katherine] Lindberg, [Ted] Cyr and Anonymous Content’s Michael Sugar and Nicole Romano.”

The project, created and written by Lindberg and Cyr, is financed by Reliance’s Georgeville Television.

“Like all Georgeville projects, ‘Tomorrow,’ now in development, has a script-to-series commitment, meaning that if ABC likes the script it would trigger a 13-episode series order,” the piece reports.

more »

Fox's Kevin Reilly on the Network's Rivalry With NBC -- and Where Fox Went Wrong With Its Fall Lineup

Fox Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly gave an insight-filled presentation Tuesday at the Television Critics Association press tour, admitting that the network “screwed up” with its low-rated fall lineup, Deadline.com reports.

Other topics included friction between Fox and NBC, the need for the broadcast networks to raise their game to compete with cable, and in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, the role of violence on TV.

Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva writes: “At Sunday’s TCA NBC topper Bob Greenblatt took a snipe at Reilly over a November comment Reilly’d made that a lot of TV executives ‘have our heads up our asses,’ which was actually in reference to the nets’ adapting [to] consumer behavior. ‘That may be true at the other places but I can guarantee you we don’t have our heads up our asses,’ Greenblatt quipped. Reilly was more subtle today when asked about NBC’s September decision to pit an original ‘Voice’ against the season premiere of ‘The X Factor.’ ‘It was slightly on the cheesy side,’ Reilly said of the NBC move. ‘It went in the file for later reference,’ Reilly added, indicating that the score will be evened in the future.”

After a critic apologized for screwing up a question, Reilly quipped: “We all screw up -- look at my fall,” a reference to the network’s dismal ratings performance this past season. He added: “Here at Fox we are leaping into the new year -- no one is happier than us to turn the page.”

“A large portion of the Q&A session was focused on the potential link between violence on TV and the recent string of mass shootings,” Andreeva writes, “especially in light of the network’s upcoming launch of the very dark new serial killer drama ‘The Following.’”

Said Reilly: “I think in general there have been more violent shows on TV. Clearly there is appetite -- people like these things.”

Reilly noted the prevalence of violent content on cable, citing the need to compete with successful shows such as AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” Said Reilly: “When you put on a thriller you have to compete at that level. … We must match the intensity, otherwise we’ll pale in comparison.”

Andreeva notes: “That is especially important for Fox, which has the tradition of being the edgiest among the broadcasters.”

“Before there was cable, Fox was cable,” Reilly said. “It is a goal for me to get some of the (old) Fox back in Fox.”

Regarding the new series “The Following,” Reilly said: “This show adheres to broadcast standards.”

“While he stressed that Fox takes its responsibilities as broadcaster very seriously and is open to an industry-wide discussion about violent content, Reilly didn’t have concerns over putting the thriller on the air,” Andreeva notes. Said Reilly: “Everyone is looking for a scapegoat, or wanting to put a finger on one thing that’s the problem. We are just in an age of complex issues. It’s no one simple thing.”

more »

Aereo Announces Nationwide Expansion Plans

Upstart digital TV distributor Aereo has raised another $38 million and has announced plans to expand into 22 cities, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Barry Diller and other investors -- including Highland Capital Partners -- are re-upping on their initial investment with the new round of financing announced today, the piece notes.

“Aereo's new financing and expansion was showcased at the Citi Global Internet, Media & Telecommunications Conference at CES, where Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia gave a talk,” THR reports. “The expanded footstep will cover Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Birmingham, Ala., Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Mo., Madison, Wis., Miami, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Providence, R.I., Raleigh-Durham, N.C., Salt Lake City, Tampa, Fla., and Washington D.C.”

The news is not expected to be met with enthusiasm from broadcasters. “Aereo is still in the midst of defending a lawsuit from all of the major TV networks, which contend that the company has infringed copyrights on their programming,” the piece notes.

Aereo’s initial rollout was focused exclusively on New York City. “After Aereo launched and was taken to court by TV broadcasters aghast at a company distributing content to consumer computers, tablets and smartphones without a license, the upstart company fended off a preliminary injunction largely on the basis of legal precedent in the New York jurisdiction,” the report notes. “The broadcasters have since made an expedited appeal of the injunction denial and a decision should be coming in the next few months.”

But Aereo appears to be gaining confidence in its legal situation, and announced plans to continue an aggessive expansion through 2013.

“Questions remain about whether Aereo has been gaining traction with consumers,” the piece reports. “In August, the company rolled out a new pricing structure to entice subscribers, offering daily rates as low as $1 as well as different $8 and $12 monthly plans and an $80 annual plan. The company only attracted a few thousand subscribers in the first few months of operation, but Aereo executives say they have been pleased with growth since then, though they have not publicly revealed recent subscriber numbers.”

more »

'Bones' Picked Up for Season Nine

Fox has renewed its drama series “Bones” for a ninth season, TV Guide reports. Fox Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly made the announcement this morning during the Television Critics Association winter press tour.

Said Reilly: "After more than 150 episodes, ‘Bones’ continues to be one of television's most dynamic and consistent dramas. We at Fox, along with millions of zealous fans, look forward to seeing where the incredible creative team takes the series next season."

The network will air two new episodes of “Bones” back-to-back on Monday, Jan. 14.

more »

Monday Ratings: 'Biggest Loser' Stumbles, New NBC Series Debuts to Lackluster Turnout ... and the Peacock Wins Anyway

Even with its two-hour “Biggest Loser” shedding viewers and a lackluster turnout for the new 10 p.m. drama series “Deception,” NBC had just enough to eke out a narrow ratings win Monday night.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC averaged a 2.2 rating in the key 18-49 demo for prime time, based on Nielsen overnights, finishing just ahead of ABC’s 2.1 average and well ahead of Univision (1.5), CBS (1.4) and Fox (0.9). CBS aired an all-repeat lineup while Fox put up a repeat of “Bones” and a fresh episode of the ratings-challenged “Mob Doctor.”

ABC came out on top in total viewers, finishing prime time with an average of 7.4 million to 6.1 million for NBC, 5.4 million for CBS, 3.8 million for Fox and 3.7 million for Univision.

NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” dipped to a 2.4 average in 18-49, falling 17% from the previous night. “Deception” opened to a modest 2.0, 47% below the 3.8 delivered by the series premiere of “Smash” and off 31% from the 2.9 for the fall finale of “Revolution” back on Nov. 28.

ABC’s two-hour season premiere of “The Bachelor” settled for a 2.3 average in the 18-49 demo, dropping 4% from the 2.4 delivered by the previous season premiere a year ago. It was the lowest-rated season premiere in series history. “Castle” rose to a 1.9, 12% better than the 1.7 for the previous fresh episode back on Dec. 3.

Fox got 0.9 averages in viewers 18-49 for both the “Bones” rerun and the new episode of “Mob Doctor.”

more »

Discovery Series Will Examine the People Pulling Strings Behind the U.S. Presidency

The Discovery Channel will present a four-hour series about the people behind the U.S. presidency -- the White House Chiefs of Staff, reports TVNewser.com. “The President's Gatekeepers” will air in July.

The program will include insights from all 19 living former Chiefs of Staff, the piece says.

“Longtime ABC Newser Chris Whipple, now an independent producer, logged about 70 hours of interviews with members of this exclusive club for ‘The Presidents’ Gatekeepers,’” the story reports. “Viewers will hear from Chiefs ranging from Dick Cheney to Leon Panetta and Rahm Emanuel. Former presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush also weigh in.”

Whipple spent nearly 20 years at ABC News, most recently executive producing the “What Would You Do?” series before leaving network news about two years ago. Whipple also previously worked on ”60 Minutes” at CBS News.

more »

Sunday Program Delivers 7.9 Million Viewers -- and It's Not Sports, Not Cable and Not on Any of the Big 4 Broadcast Nets

A program that aired Sunday evening delivered a huge audience -- the kind of numbers usually reserved for live sports events or hit programs on the Big 4 broadcast networks.

The program is PBS's "Downton Abbey," which drew 7.9 million total viewers for its third-season premiere, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

The telecast "quadrupled the average PBS prime-time rating and exceeded the average rating of the second-season premiere of ’Downton Abbey’ by 96 percent," PBS and WGBH, a member station, said in a statement Monday night.

The large audience means that the delay between the British premiere two months ago and the U.S. premiere didn't hurt the program, and that positive press has helped draw new viewers, the article points out.

While "Downton Abbey” was on air, PBS drew more viewers than Fox, ABC and NBC, although CBS still drew more viewers with episodes of "The Good Wife" (10 million viewers) and "The Mentalist" (10.7 million), according to the piece.

more »

'Disastrous' New Year's Eve Broadcast Becomes First Viral Hit of 2013

A "disastrous" New Year's Eve celebration on live TV has become the first viral Internet sensation of 2013, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

The show on independent station KDOC-TV in the Los Angeles area was hosted by actor Jamie Kennedy, known for his role in the "Scream" movies. Kennedy was "joined by a number of other celebrities who, like him, hit their peak around the turn of the millennium," the report notes. They included "American Pie" actress Shannon Elizabeth and soul singer Macy Gray.

"What he probably didn’t count on is that the broadcast would become the first viral Internet sensation of 2013, but for all the wrong reasons," the piece points out. "The show was riddled with technical errors, uncensored language and sloppy performances -- particularly by Gray, whose slurred speech and temporal confusion had viewers wondering what she’d been sipping back in the green room.”

"So thorough was the chaos that even the countdown to midnight was off by 10 seconds," according to the story.

Some speculated that the show was a hoax, given that Kennedy once hosted a prank show. But the actor said guests were treated to an open bar and his goal was to make something spontaneous, according to the story.

Officials at KDOC weren't available for comment, the story adds.

Enjoy ...

more »

Sexist or Sexy? The Person Who Gained Instant Fame During Last Night's BCS Championship Game (Hint: It Wasn't a Football Player); Announcer Brent Musburger Is Slammed for His Remarks by Some Observers

It was instant fame for someone connected with the BCS Championship Game Monday night, Jan 7, 2013, but it wasn’t a football player.

From the moment Katherine Webb was shown during the game last night, until the end of the game, her number of followers on Twitter went from 530 to more than 90,000, reports the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

According to the story, “Cameras spotted [Alabama quarterback] A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend, Katherine Webb, in the stands and ESPN play-by-play announcer Brent Musburger, 73, suddenly became smitten.

“‘You quarterbacks, you get all the good-looking women,’ Musburger said. ‘What a beautiful woman.’

“‘Wow!’ analyst Kirk Herbstreit chimed in.

“‘If you’re a youngster in Alabama, start getting the football out and throw it around the backyard with Pop,’ Musberger added."

The story notes, “Among @_KatherineWebb new followers were Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray and Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Darnell Docket, who tweeted his phone number to her.”

Musburger's comments drew criticism from some quarters. Writes Kat Robinson at the blog She Knows Entertainment: "The issue here isn't that Brent Musburger's comments were overtly or explicitly offensive. They're not. However, his decision to focus -- to be captivated -- by A.J. McCarron's girlfriend's attractiveness during the BCS National Championship makes Musburger seem creepy and his comments inappropriate. It's likely embarrassing for ESPN and Musburger given his bad timing and apparent infatuation with Webb."

katherine-Webb.jpg


more »

As Smaller Cable Channels Fight for Survival, One Network's Envelope-Pushing Show Comes Under Fire

These are treacherous times for small cable networks, with Time Warner Cable’s recent scrapping of low-rated Ovation among the indications that the fight for survival is getting tougher. The one thing that can put a channel over the top is a hit show.

That’s one reason NBCUniversal’s Oxygen is feeling the heat as its latest envelope-pushing attempt to come up with a hit -- a reality series called “All My Babies’ Mamas” -- comes under pressure even before its debut.

The New York Post reports that the series -- about an Atlanta rapper who lives with the 10 different mothers of his 11 children -- is drawing fire from the Parents Television Council, among other groups.

The watchdog PTC, whose lobbying appeared to play a role in MTV's cancellation of "Skins," criticized the Oxygen show as "being built around a ridiculous set of self-destructive behaviors that Oxygen is going to promote and glorify.”

“All My Babies’ Mamas” is also the focus of a petition on Change.org seeking the show’s cancellation, which has received 22,000 signatures in two weeks, the story says.

The series, featuring rapper Shawty Lo and women with nicknames including “Jealous” and “First Lady,” is scheduled to premiere in spring.

Said Sabrina Lamb, the New Yorker who is behind the Change.org petition: “It was the exploitation of children. We have choices; children don’t. We’re embarrassing ourselves.”

According to cable-branding expert Gary Lico, the stakes are high for Oxygen -- as they are for other channels. Said Lico: “They need the next big hit, the next headline maker.”

Like Ovation, Oxygen is also low-rated, the piece notes. “Its total viewership in prime time took a slight dip in 2012 over 2011 and, according to Nielsen figures, pulled in 377,000 viewers last year versus 397,000 viewers the prior year,” the Post reports.

Oxygen is reportedly sticking with the show, which comes from DiGa Vision -- “run by Tony DiSanto and Liz Gateley, the MTV network executives who helped make ‘Jersey Shore’ a success,” the report notes.

But the piece adds that Oxygen reportedly did recently remove a trailer for “AMBM” from YouTube.

more »

Gold Medalist With the Oddest Nickname of Them All -- 'America's Sexiest Douchebag' -- Gets His Own Show

E! has ordered a reality series featuring an athlete who has been called “America’s Sexiest Douchebag,” reports EW.com's Inside TV. The six-episode series, "What Would Ryan Lochte Do," features the Olympic swimming champion as he trains and searches for the "right gal," the piece notes.

"A sneak peek of the show was screened for reporters at E!’s TV critics press tour panel in Pasadena. Lochte came off more than a little dense. Sort of like a male Jessica Simpson (a swimbo?)," James Hibberd writes in the report.

Lochte has been one of the stars of the past three Olympic Games for the U.S. swimming team, winning four medals in Beijing in 2008 and five more in London last year -- after winning two medals in Athens in 2004. He has seven individual medals -- second all time in men’s swimming -- and a total of five Olympic gold medals.

But even E! President Suzanne Kolb seems to agree that Lochte isn’t exactly the brightest crayon in the box. Kolb told EW: “How many people fall in love with the smartest guy in the class? They fall for the fastest swimmer.”

The piece quotes Lochte, presumably in response to his “douchebag” designation, saying: “I don’t even know what is a douchebag. I don’t even know what it means.”

“The show represents a bit of a departure for E!, which typically has shows starring famous (or wannabe famous) females,” Hibberd writes. “Then again, Lochte has no shortage of female appeal.”

Kolb underscored that point in a statement, saying: “He is an incredibly endearing personality who is sexy, entertaining and fun. Watching this show, I believe people will fall into three categories: They want to be him, sleep with him or mother him.”

The series will debut in April.

ryan-lochte2.jpgRyan Lochte

more »

Nancy Grace Settles Lawsuit Over 'Vodka Mom'

A lawsuit filed by the family of a woman who was called "Vodka Mom" by Nancy Grace on her HLN program has been settled by CNN and Grace, reports TVNewser.com.

Toni Modrano committed suicide by lighting herself on fire last summer, and cited the segments on "Nancy Grace" for her anguish, the story says. "Modrano was the second woman to kill herself after being the subject of repeated segments on Grace’s crime-centric program," the piece reports.

Modrano's family sued CNN, HLN and Grace soon after her death. The terms of the financial settlement aren't being disclosed.

more »

Groundbreaking Syfy Series Gets Premiere Date

Syfy has set a premiere date for a groundbreaking new series, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed. The series is “Defiance,” which is scheduled to launch its 12-episode season on Monday, April 15, at 9 p.m.

“’Defiance’ bridges scripted television and online gaming for the first time,” the piece reports. “The series and the game feature an interconnected world and storylines that will launch later this year with the release of the game, ahead of the TV series debut.”

The show’s cast includes Grant Bowler, Julie Benz, Stephanie Leonidas, Tony Curran, Jaime Murray, Graham Greene and Mia Kirshner.

THR adds: “’Defiance’ introduces an exotically transformed planet Earth, its landscapes permanently altered following the sudden -- and tumultuous -- arrival of seven unique alien races.”

more »

VH1 Revamps Logo to Reflect Wider Focus

VH1 has revamped its logo to reflect its focus on shows that go beyond music, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The new logo contains a plus sign, signaling the addition of non-music-based shows such as "Mob Wives" and "Single Ladies," the story notes. Those programs last year helped the network boost prime-time ratings with adults 18-49 by 33%, while total viewers in prime time are up by 14%, the story says.

The branding change is the cable network’s first in 10 years, the piece notes.

In announcing the new logo, VH1 President Tom Calderone said: “VH1 is entertainment on steroids. We have a legacy of cranking it up to 11, so our ‘tagmark’ helps us to easily convey that to our viewers and build on the promise of delivering our bold and engaging mash-up of music, pop culture and nostalgia that generates so much buzz.”

VH1-logo.jpg

more »

Dish Working on System That Lets Advertisers Bid on Shows in Real Time

Dish Network is working on a feature that would allow for last-minute auctions of ad space by allowing advertisers to see what viewers are tuning into in real time, reports Advertising Age, citing a Bloomberg report.

The feature, called "What's Hot Now," would build on a viewership-tracking service in its Hopper set-top boxes, the story says. Hopper users can see what other Dish viewers are watching and then switch to the top programs.

The company is hoping to develop a new way to sell advertisements by collecting real-time data, according to Warren Schlichting, Dish's senior VP of media sales and analytics.

"Dish has unfairly gotten an anti-ad reputation, when in fact Dish is just trying to innovate," he said.

Dish could auction off commercials and insert them just before they air, according to the piece. That would provide more accurate information at a time when many viewers skip ads, Schlichting said.

Dish could also charge higher rates for shows that are surprisingly popular, the story notes.

more »

Report: 'In Living Color' Reboot Is Dead

Fox's remake of "In Living Color" is dead, with Fox executives deciding they didn’t like the hour of footage that was taped last spring, reports Joe Adalian in New York Magazine's Vulture blog.

As we reported previously, the remake had hired cast members and was scheduled to air after the network's 25th anniversary in April 2012. The new project was executive produced by Keenen Ivory Wayans, creator and star of the original 1990s series.

While network chief Kevin Reilly said in July that the special wouldn't air anytime soon, the project is now dead and won't air, even as an eventual burn-off broadcast, the story says.

more »

Starz Buys Football Drama Inspired by Real-Life NFL Players

Starz has given a script commitment to a football drama inspired by the lives of former NFL players Keyshawn Johnson and Brian Kelly, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

"Off Season" is about the youngest head coach in professional football as he handles infighting, politics with the team's owners and decisions on whom to cut, the story says. Johnson and Kelly will serve as executive producers on the project, which comes from Jeremy Elice, the former president of TV at Legendary Pictures.

more »

CNBC Continues to Tweak Its Brand, Greenlights Two New Series

Two new series have been given a go-ahead by CNBC as part of its rebranding of prime time, reports Deadline.com.

As previously reported, CNBC announced in December that it was adding reality shows to its prime-time schedule for the first time -- ordering two shows, one focusing on a fakes and forgeries detective and another on a pair who buy and sell cars.

Now the cable channel is adding two more reality shows: one called "The Big Fix" and an untitled family business project, the story notes.

“The Big Fix” tracks Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, as he helps troubled businesses get back on track. The untitled show will focus on three family businesses competing for a $50,000 prize.

“Not too long ago, CNBC’s prime time was the land of misfit toys -- it really bore no connection to the core brand, which was a daytime brand,” said CEO Michael Hoffman. “That has all changed.”

more »

PBS Fixture Huell Howser Dies

Huell Howser, who hosted a series of successful public television series showcasing California, has died, The Huffington Post reports.

Howser, 67, died Sunday evening in his home of natural causes, the story reports. He hosted a string of shows including “California’s Gold,” a travel program based at Los Angeles station KCET-TV.

“A spokesperson from KCET confirmed to The Huffington Post that Huell died of natural causes, and that his death caught many at the studio by surprise,” the publication reports. “KCET nightly news show ‘SoCal Connected’ plans to honor Howser with a special segment during Monday's broadcast (on at 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.). The studio will also create a site for fans to share memories of Howser. To stay informed about the online memorial, check out kcet.org.”

Howser's other PBS series included "Visiting with Huell Howser" and "Videolog."

Below is a favorite segment of "Videolog" from 1988, called "Elephant Man":

Thumbnail image for huell-howser.jpg

Huell Howser

 

more »

Eliot Spitzer Pulls Plug on Current TV Show After Sale of Network to Al Jazeera

In the wake of news that progressive talk channel Current TV has been sold to Al Jazeera, former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer has wrapped up his show on Current, The New York Times reports.

Al Jazeera plans to turn the channel into an Americanized version of its international channel Al Jazeera English, the report notes.

“Mr. Spitzer said he had a ‘wonderful time’ at Current, but emphasized that his relationship was with Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, Current’s co-founders, not with Al Jazeera,” the piece reports. “’Moving forward, their mission will be different,’ he said -- more international newscasts, less liberal talk about the news.”

Spitzer has been a fixture on the channel with his 8 p.m. program “Viewpoint.” A spokeswoman for Current confirmed Sunday that Spitzer “has chosen to step back from hosting ‘Viewpoint.’ Until further notice the show will be hosted by John Fugelsang.”

The report notes: “For Mr. Spitzer, the amicable separation is unsurprising. Last spring, nine months after his CNN talk show was canceled, Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt abruptly asked him to take over the 8 p.m. time slot on Current. The reason: the 8 p.m. host Keith Olbermann was about to be fired.

“Mr. Spitzer was, by his own account, “thrilled” to do it, but it was never a full-time job, nor a long-term one. His contract expired after the presidential election in November.”

more »

Dispute Between Actress and CBS Drama Series Takes a Turn for the Worse

An ongoing battle between an actress and the CBS drama series on which she has been a regular has taken another turn, with word surfacing that Jennifer Esposito won’t be back on “Blue Bloods,” TVLine reports.

Esposito has Celiac disease, and left the show for a medical leave a few months ago. “As reported back in October, CBS says the actress requested ‘a very limited part-time schedule’ that the demands of the role could not accommodate, so they put her (and her character) on a leave of absence,” the piece reports.

Esposito has been unhappy that she is being prevented from working elsewhere during her absence from the show, as we previously reported. Now the word is she won’t be invited back to play Det. Jackie Curatola again on the series, according to the report. “Blue Bloods” is rotating in Megan Ketch and Megan Goode to play new characters to take the place of Esposito’s, the story reports.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for jennifer-esposito.jpg

Jennifer Esposito

more »

ABC Sitcoms Sink to Historic Lows

ABC tried out a couple of sitcoms in the 10 p.m. hour Sunday night, with disastrous results. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “Happy Endings” sank to a series-low 1.0 average rating in the key demo of adults 18-49, based on Nielsen overnights, while “Don’t Trust The B” equaled its all-time low with an 0.9 average.

Fox had little competition on the night, with an hour of NFL playoff coverage kicking off prime time. The end of the Seahawks-Redskins game racked up a 12.1 in the 18-49 demo, and the postgame show delivered a 7.6. Other than football, the highest-rated show on the broadcast schedule was Fox’s “The Simpsons” with a 4.4, followed by the Fox show “Family Guy,” with a 3.5.

For prime time overall, Fox was well ahead of the competition with a 5.6 average rating in viewers 18-49, followed by NBC (2.2 average), ABC (1.8) and CBS (1.7). It was closer in total viewers, but Fox won handily with an average of 13.7 million to CBS’s 9.7 million, NBC’s 6.4 million and ABC’s 5.5 million.

more »

Soderbergh Reveals Why Liberace Movie Wound Up at HBO

Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh made a surprising revelation about his upcoming biopic about Liberace, "Behind the Candelabra," during an appearance at the Television Critics Association press tour. TheWrap.com reports that Soderbergh said the project became an HBO television movie because it was deemed "too gay” for a theatrical release.

The movie has an A-list cast, including Michael Douglas as the colorful pianist and Matt Damon as the entertainer’s young lover. And the director, Soderbergh, has an Oscar on his shelf for “Traffic,” along with nominations for “Erin Brockovich” and for his screenplay for “Sex, Lies, and Videotape.”

But Soderbergh told the website: "Nobody would make it. We went to everybody in town. We needed $5 million. Nobody would do it."

The director added: "They said it was too gay. Everybody. This was after 'Brokeback Mountain,' by the way. Which is not as funny as this movie. I was stunned. It made no sense to any of us."

Ultimately, though, Soderbergh is happy to have the project at HBO. "They're great and they're really good at what they do, and ultimately I think more people will see it, and that's all you care about," he said. "Studios were going, 'We don't know how to sell it. They were scared.'"

The report adds: “HBO also announced Friday that it will air another gay-themed project that was once planned for theatrical release. The network said that it will air Ryan Murphy's adaptation of Larry Kramer's play ‘The Normal Heart,’ starring Julia Roberts and Mark Ruffalo, next year.”

The Liberace bio is scheduled to premiere in spring.

more »

Could a Shakeup Be in Store for the Judges on 'The Voice'?

NBC's "The Voice" is unsure who will be sitting in the judges' chairs in future seasons, raising the possibility that judges Christina Aguilera and CeeLo Green could be fighting to maintain their jobs, reports the New York Post.

Shakira and R&B star Usher will serve as judges for the show's fourth season, in what is believed to be temporary roles.

But NBC's head of alternative programming, Paul Telegdy, said he would like Shakira and Usher to return for additional seasons.

"Once you are a coach, you are a coach,” he said. "That has been our philosophy with these guys. Do we envision [Usher and Shakira] serving on multiple seasons? Absolutely.”

more »

'Criminal Minds' Star Arrested

One of the stars of the CBS police procedural drama "Criminal Minds" was arrested early Sunday morning on suspicion of driving under the influence, reports TMZ.com.

Thomas Gibson, who plays Aaron Hotchner on the series, was reportedly driving in downtown Los Angeles at about 1 a.m. when he tried to drive through a part of down that had been blocked off for a half marathon, the story notes.

The actor was stopped and told he couldn't drive through, but he allegedly continued to drive through the area. He was eventually stopped by police, and reportedly refused to take a breathalyzer test, at which point he was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor DUI, the story notes.

Gibson is also known for his work on CBS’s “Chicago Hope” and ABC’s “Dharma & Greg.”

thomas-gibson.jpgThomas Gibson

more »

In Full Oprah Interview, David Letterman Explains Why He Thinks He and Leno Are Still Friends. Plus, After Almost 25 Years, Oprah Tells Letterman Her Version of Their Feud. Letterman Also Says Who Was Most Responsible for His Infamous Sex Scandal.

The long-awaited and much-hyped interview of David Letterman by Oprah Winfrey on Winfrey's "Oprah's Next Chapter" aired Sunday night, Jan. 6, 2013.

Here's an edited transcript. We begin with Letterman explaining his rivalry with Jay Leno.

Oprah Winfrey: There is an assumption that since you didn’t get [to be the host of the "Tonight" show when Johnny Carson retired] and Jay Leno did, that that’s where the rivalry between the two of you started. Is that true?

David Letterman: No. No. The rivalry -- Jay and I were friends. We were always friends before all of this happened. He has a way -- 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. You’re the best. Why are you doing things to support this insecurity. Why ...

Winfrey: Everyone says you’re insecure too.

Letterman: Not to the degree this man is. This is the guy that is documented as hiding in a closet as they are having a business meeting at NBC to decide who would get the "Tonight" show chair. I have not hidden in closets -- not for that purpose. I’ve found myself, sadly, in closets ...

Winfrey: But not for that purpose.

Letterman: But not for that purpose.

Winfrey (incredulous): So the reason for your rivalry is because of his, Jay’s, insecurity?

Letterman: Well, how it manifests itself. And that’s all I want to say about that, because -- I’ll just tell you this. When we were all kids -- and I do think Jay and I are still friends ...

Winfrey: Would he think so? 

Letterman: I think so. I think so. Because I've got too much on him (laughs). You know. When he and I were kids, and somebody would go on like the "Merv Griffin Show," and if he didn’t do well, Jay would come (does his Jay "whine"), "Did you see Larry on the 'Merv Griffin Show'?" "No, I didn’t." "Yeah, I got a tape back at the house. Come on and take a look at it." And he’d invite you back to watch one of our fellow comics bomb. And I was like, "Oh, Jay, stop that. That’s silly."

Winfrey: When we did the Super Bowl spot two or three years ago, you all hadn’t communicated in years and years and years. Was that awkward for you?

Letterman: No, it was great. Because, as he and I discussed then, our way of life at the Comedy Store is exactly the way you would think it would be for a group of comics. It was tinged with sarcasm and ugliness and insult, but everybody loved it. We thrived on it. We could call each other names, we could steal each other’s jokes, we could make fun of each other’s girlfriends, and this and that and this and that. You take that out of the Comedy Store and all of a sudden it’s "oh my god, it’s Civil War, we can’t believe it." But the truth of it is that the way Jay and I have behaved toward one another is the way comics tend to behave toward one another.

Later in the interview Oprah, for the first time in close to 25 years, tells her version of the beginning of the feud between her and Letterman:

Winfrey: I want to know if this is true or not. Did you actually think I was actually angry with you or did it make a better joke?

Letterman: As far as I know, the genesis of this ...

Winfrey: People think we still have a feud going. Do you want them to think that?

Letterman: No. I did for a while. Because it was great for me. When I would bait you about coming on the show, oh, big laughs.

Winfrey: For 82 days straight you did.

Letterman: Yeah.

Winfrey: How did this start?

Letterman: I think it was one time we were coming to do the show in Chicago, and I called you. I’ll never forget this.

Winfrey: Yes.

Letterman: And I got you on the phone. And you barked at me and you said, well, the least you could’ve done was call me on a hard line.

Winfrey: I barked at you? I barked at you?

Letterman: Yeah. I said, "Oh, no, I didn’t even get beyond hello and I pissed her off." So then I said, "Oprah, we’re doing a show in Chicago, and we’d love you to be on it." [And you said] "I am totally out of town. I am totally out of town." So in my mind that’s what it was.

Winfrey: Let me tell you what my memory is. Would you like to hear mine?

Letterman: Yes.   

To read the rest of the Letterman-Oprah interview, please click here.

more »

Netflix Snags Rights to Eight TV Series

Netflix has signed a deal with Warner Bros. Television Group that gives the online-streaming service the rights to complete previous seasons of eight TV series, Deadline.com reports.

The series are “Revolution,” “Political Animals,” “Longmire,” “666 Park Avenue,” “The Following,” “Chuck,” “Fringe” and “The West Wing.” In addition, the companies may make similar agreements on future shows, the piece notes.

“This is the clearest sign yet of the thaw in the companies’ once-frosty relationship -- and could intensify industry concerns about whether Netflix will cannibalize ad-supported TV,” the report notes.

“The Following” premieres this month on Fox.

“Warner reserved the right to sell the programs into traditional syndication windows, via electronic sell-through services and on a catch-up basis for recently aired episodes,” the piece reports. “But Netflix has exclusive rights to subscription streaming.”

Calling the deal “unprecedented,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said the pact “is making the production economics right for the continued creation of the kind of compelling serialized dramas and thrillers that our members love.”

The report adds: “Warner Bros. Television Group President Bruce Rosenblum says that the agreement recognizes that subscription VOD ‘has become an important window for our serialized dramas,’ especially for viewers who want to catch up with a series. ‘We continue to adapt our business models to include SVOD when it makes sense for the long-term value of each show and are thrilled to have Netflix as one of our distribution partners.’”

more »

NBC Delays Return of Hit Shows

NBC is pushing back the return of three of its most popular programs until March, with the goal of airing only new episodes for the rest of the season, reports Bloomberg.

"Grimm" will return March 8, while "The Voice" and "Revolution" will restart March 25, NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt said at the Television Critics Association tour on Sunday.

Under Greenblatt, NBC, the only broadcast network to boost its audience in the first part of the 2012-2013 season, has deviated from the traditional network schedule before. NBC aired new shows in August, rather than the traditional September, to take advantage of the large audiences watching NBC's Olympics coverage, the story points out.

Greenblatt said that strategy worked, citing the success of the drama "Revolution" and the comedy "Go On."

One reason for delaying the shows' returns until March is to give producers more time to better develop the programs, Greenblatt said, according to the story.

"The audience will find those shows,” Greenblatt said. “You can run them in a row without repeats. It’s a better long-term play for us.”

more »

Lindsay Lohan's Mom Explains Why the Actress Is 'Screwed Up'

The mother of Lindsay Lohan spoke out about why she thinks the actress is “screwed up,” saying that she doesn’t think it’s Lindsay’s fault, the New York Daily News reports.

The piece reports that Lindsay “is a mess because she grew up witnessing a violent marriage marred by abuse and a rape, said mom Dina Lohan, who claims her ex-husband physically assaulted her during their 22-year union.”

The paper reports that Dina had police reports and medical reports to support her claims.

“Michael Lohan vehemently denied assaulting or raping his ex-wife when reached at home Sunday night and questioned her motives in coming forward now with ‘evil lies’ about decades-old events,” the report adds.

Said Dina Lohan, according to the piece: “Lindsay saw her dad abuse me -- that’s why she’s so screwed up.”

The piece adds: “The mom, who spent the holidays partying in London with her flame-haired daughter, said a family photo gave her the courage to finally share the abuse she allegedly endured during her marriage, which ended in divorce in 2007.”

The piece describes a 1986 family snapshot that includes Dina Lohan holding her baby daughter, Lindsay, while wearing a large bruise under her eye. Said Dina: “Michael beat the hell out of me. ... When Lindsay saw the photo, she was furious. She said, ‘Tell the world! Talk about it!’”

Dina Lohan attributes Lindsay’s problems to her upbringing. “She saw a lot of crazy stuff. I want the world to know the root of her problems,” Dina told the publication.

more »

Marketing Exec Michael Cronan -- the Man Who Named TiVo and Another Popular Device -- Dead at 61

The San Francisco-based marketing executive Michael Cronan, who created the brand name TiVo, has died, reports The New York Times. Cronan, 61, died of colon cancer, according to the report.

In 1997 Cronan was asked by a company called Teleworld to create a new name and identity for a new device called a digital video recorder.

“We reviewed probably 1,600-plus name alternatives, seriously considered over 800 names and presented over 100 strong candidates to the team," Cronan told the blog PVR. The choices included potential names such as Bongo and Lasso, which The Times said never made it far.

“I thought it should be as close as possible to what people would find familiar, so it must contain T and V," Cronan said. “I started looking at letter combinations and pretty quickly settled on TiVo.”

According to The Times, the "Vo" portion had a link to the Latin and Italian words for vocal sound and voice. Cronan also created the TiVo mascot, a TV-shaped character with feet and rabbit ears.

Cronan also developed the name Kindle for Amazon's reading device. According to his wife, Karin Hibma, with whom he founded the marketing company Cronan in the 1980s, he wanted to find a name that “was about starting something, giving birth to something."

michael-cronan.jpgMichael Cronan

more »

Hulu Chief Executive Resigns

Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar, 41, said he's resigning from the streaming site, The New York Times' Media Decoder reports. It was not clear where he’s headed or his reasons for leaving.

Kilar’s resignation, which he announced Friday, comes after he received a $6 million year-end bonus, on top of a $40 million payout he received in October for his stake in the company, according to a report in the New York Post.

Kilar's $40 million payout coincided with Providence Equity's selling its stake in Hulu, the Post notes.

There's speculation that Kilar might return to Amazon, where he was one of the first hires. He has also recently been seen at venture capital firms such as Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers and Greylock Partners, the piece adds.

Kilar will leave within the first quarter of 2013. Hulu's chief technology officer, Rich Tom, will also depart in the same time frame, according to The Times.

Kilar "defied enormous odds, built from scratch one of the top five digital video brands, created two viable and growing businesses (free and pay) and got his well-deserved payday -- not bad for five years’ work,” J.B. Perrette, who now heads Discovery Communications’ digital operations and once oversaw NBC’s investment in Hulu, told The Times.

more »

NHL Season Salvaged as League, Players Agree to End Labor Dispute

The National Hockey League and its players reached a tentative agreement Sunday to end a labor dispute that was days away from leading to the cancellation of the season, reports Reuters.

The deal was announced jointly by NHL Players' Association Executive Director Donald Fehr and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, after a 16-hour negotiation session that started Saturday, the story notes.

According to The New York Times, under the swiftest schedule, a regular season of 48 to 50 games could start by Jan. 15, but it's possible that could be pushed back a few days because of ratifications, paperwork and the players' wish for one exhibition game.

The agreement will be for 10 years, with either side opting out after eight. For the 2013-14 season, the salary cap will be $64.3 million, a drop from $70.2 million in the 2012-13 season, the story adds.

more »

Cher Lines Up Cable Drama Project

Academy Award-winning actress and superstar singer Cher has set up a period drama project, Deadline.com reports. Cher is readying the show for the cable network Logo TV, which focuses on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, the piece reports.

Cher, who is an icon in the gay community, will work with veteran TV writer and producer Ron Zimmerman on the project, which is reportedly set in 1960s Hollywood. While not gay-themed, the project is said to be an "adult show for everyone."

Cher, currently attached as a writer with Zimmerman, may also co-star, the story says. Cher won an Oscar for “Moonstruck” in 1988, and her NBC special “Cher: The Farewell Tour” won an Emmy for outstanding variety, music or comedy special in 2003.

more »

'Community' May Still Have a Future at NBC

NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt said "Community," a cult comedy with modest ratings, could "absolutely" continue beyond its fourth season, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

“We’re always hopeful for a show to continue. And we co-own it. I’d love nothing more than to see it continue," Greenblatt said.

As previously reported, the show's creator and showrunner, Dan Harmon, was fired last year, with comedy veterans David Guarascio and Moses Port brought in to replace him as showrunners and executive producers. Actor Chevy Chase is also leaving, although he will appear in most of the show's fourth season.

"Actors come and go on a lot of shows, and this is a big ensemble,” Greenblatt said. “I don’t think that’s going to be a big negative about the future of the show.”

“You’re going to see relatively the same show you’ve seen before, and I hope that’s a good thing,” he added. “Maybe there’s a little more heart built into it, but we didn’t fundamentally change it.”

more »

NBC Goes to Summer Camp

NBC has ordered a new scripted drama series set in a summer camp, which the network describes as a mix of "Meatballs" and "Dazed and Confused,” EW.com's Inside TV reports.

The series, called "Camp," "has rich and dysfunctional characters in that great setting where millions of families and young people go each summer: camp,” said Jennifer Salke, president, NBC Entertainment.

The show, which has an order for 13 episodes, will be filmed in Australia and is from BermanBraun. It is created and produced by Liz Heldens of 'Friday Night Lights" and Peter Elkoff of "Gossip Girl."

more »

HBO Re-Ups With Universal Until 2022

HBO has renewed its movie-distribution agreement with Universal Pictures until 2022 in a potential $200 million-per-year deal that's designed to keep ahead of Netflix, reports the New York Post.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. "The move by Jeff Bewkes’ HBO is the latest salvo in the battle among Netflix, HBO, Starz and other pay-TV movie providers for relevance and supremacy," the piece notes.

Netflix last month struck a deal to stream Walt Disney movies starting in 2016, boosting titles for its online streaming service. Netflix is said to be poised to bid for a similar deal with Sony Pictures, according to the report.

more »

CBS Distances Itself From the Pack as Several Series Hit Ratings Highs

With much of the prime-time broadcast competition airing repeat programming Thursday night, CBS dominated the ratings, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that CBS averaged a 3.7 rating for prime time in the key 18-49 demo, well ahead of second-place Univision (1.7 average) and even further ahead of the English-language networks. Fox settled for a 1.1, followed by NBC (0.8) and ABC (0.8).

CBS was also dominant in total viewers, averaging 14.9 million for the evening to 4.2 million for Univision, 3.3 million for ABC, 2.9 million for Fox and 2.5 million for NBC.

CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” was the top-rated show of the night, equaling its series high with a 6.0 average rating in viewers 18-49. “Two and a Half Men” rose to a season-high 4.6 and “Person of Interest” matched its series high with a 3.4. “Elementary” delivered a 2.5, up 9% from its previous fresh episode, which aired Dec. 13.

With NBC and ABC airing all repeats, the toughest English-language competition came from Fox, and it didn’t pose much of a threat. Back-to-back episodes of “Mobbed” managed only a 1.0 average and a 1.2 in the 18-49 demo.

more »

Tarantino, Grilled About Sandy Hook Shooting, Lashes Out at Critics of Media Violence

Film director Quentin Tarantino, whose violent movie “Django Unchained” is currently in theaters, lashed out at critics who have been connecting media violence with the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, E! Online reports.

During an interview for NPR’s “Fresh Air,” Tarantino gave a heated response to a line of questions from host Terry Gross on the topic of violence in Tarantino’s films.

“When the host asked him whether the massacre of 26 people made his new film ‘less fun’ or whether he ‘lost his taste’ for movie violence following the tragedy, a touchy Tarantino dismissed the question,” the piece reports.

Tarantino initially replied tersely, saying, "Not for me."

“The auteur then appeared to take offense to Gross' follow-up when she wondered whether he could separate real-life violence from his feelings about making or watching the sadistic characters he puts on screen,” E! reports.

Tarantino appeared perturbed by the question, the piece reports, shooting back: "Sadistic, I don't know. I think you're putting a judgment on it."

The director then added: "When you say, 'After the tragedy,' what do you mean by that exactly? Do you mean on that day, would I watch ‘The Wild Bunch’? Maybe not on that day."

Gross remained on point, asking: "Or in the next few days, like … while it's still really fresh."

Tarantino’s response: "Would I watch a kung fu movie three days after the Sandy Hook massacre? Would I watch a kung fu movie? Maybe, because they have nothing to do with each other."

Gross: "You sound annoyed."

Tarantino: "Yeah, I'm really annoyed. I think it's disrespectful to … the memory of the people who died to talk about the movies. Obviously, the issue is gun control and mental health."

The E! report adds: “The question of cinema violence and the video store clerk-turned-filmmaker's adoration of it -- some critics have accused him of even fetishizing brutality -- has been a thorn in Tarantino's side when it comes to the press for two decades now, ever since he burst into pop culture consciousness with his ultra-violent ‘Reservoir Dogs.’”

Tarantino summed up the criticism this way: "I've been asked this question for 20 years, about the effects of violence in movies related to violence in real life. My answer is the same as 20 years ago. It hasn't changed one iota. Obviously, I don't think one has to do with the other."

more »

'Most Desirable Woman of 2013' to Host 'Saturday Night Live'

On the heels of news that “The Voice” coach Adam Levine will host the Jan. 26 episode of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” as we reported earlier, NBC revealed that actress Jennifer Lawrence will host the Jan. 19 episode.

Lawrence, who’s currently appearing in the Golden Globe-nominated feature film “Silver Linings Playbook,” was recently named the “Most Desirable Woman of 2013” by the website Askmen.com, UPI reports. The 22-year-old actress is also known for her role in “The Hunger Games.”

Lawrence will be hosting “SNL” for the first time, and will be joined by musical guest the Lumineers, UPI reports.

Lawrence beat out Mila Kunis on Askmen’s “Desirable” list, with Kate Upton third, followed by Rihanna and Emma Stone.

jennifer-lawrence.jpgJennifer Lawrence

more »

Oscars Telecast to Feature Tribute to James Bond

Oscars producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron revealed that they will devote a part of the upcoming 85th Academy Awards television broadcast to celebrating the 50th anniversary of the James Bond film series, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In a statement, Zadan and Meron said, "Starting with 'Dr. No' back in 1962, the 007 movies have become the longest-running motion picture franchise in history and a beloved global phenomenon. We are very happy to include a special sequence on our show saluting the Bond films on their 50th birthday."

The latest James Bond film, "Skyfall," has been an international success, earning more than $1 billion at the global box office. It just received a Producers Guild Awards nomination and there's a good chance Adele's theme song for the movie will receive an Oscar nomination.

Daniel Craig is the current actor playing James Bond, following in the footsteps of Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan.

more »

'Scary Movie' Beauty Makes Jump to TV, Joins New Chuck Lorre Comedy Project

Chuck Lorre, the man behind CBS sitcom hits "The Big Bang Theory," "Two and a Half Men" and "Mike & Molly," has cast actress Anna Faris in a new project for the network called "Mom," reports Deadline.com.

Faris is known for her work in the “Scary Movie” series and other feature films, including “Lost in Translation” and “The Dictator.” She has only a handful of guest spots on TV series, notably “Entourage” and “Friends,” along with a guest-hosting appearance on “Saturday Night Live.”

Lorre co-wrote the pilot for “Mom” on spec with Eddie Gorodetsky and Gemma Baker, the latter two from the "Two and a Half Men" staff.

"Mom" is the story of a Napa Valley single mom who's newly sober and trying to get her life together. Faris will headline the comedy pilot.

Anna-Faris.jpgAnna Faris

more »

Fox News Channel Under Fire From State Department

Fox News Channel has angered the State Department, which targeted the cable channel in a critical letter saying that a line of questioning by Fox News correspondent Justin Fishel over Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was "simply a blatant lie and grossly misleading to the public," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Fishel, along with other conservative commentators, questioned the State Department's announcement that Clinton had fallen and was unable to testify about the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi because of a concussion, the story says.

"It seems that she has not been available to testify on the Benghazi situation on some very key dates, including the Sunday after 9/11 and now this Thursday," Fishel said. Clinton was later hospitalized for a blood clot in her brain.

According to a letter obtained by The Washington Post, State Department spokesman Philippe Reines wrote to Fishel, "Because after what we and her doctors explained over the weekend regarding her health, you couldn’t possibly have been insinuating the ulterior motives that question implies. No way. No credible journalist would do that without any basis whatsoever."

Reines added, "And therefore, saying that this has happened on multiple ‘key dates’ is simply a blatant lie and grossly misleading to the public."

more »

Media Firm Earns Unflattering 'Honor': Worst Company and Worst Boss in America to Work For

A new study determined that a media firm is the worst company to work for in the U.S., with the man at the top blamed for the bulk of the unpleasantness.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports that the “honor” goes to Dish Network, thanks to its chairman, Charlie Ergen. The study was by the website 24/7 Wall St.

Englewood, Colo.-based Dish provides satellite television to more than 14 million customers.

“To pick its winner, the site began by sifting entries on glassdoor.com, an online service where people gossip about their jobs,” Bloomberg reports. “It was hardly the most scientific of methods. Still, the volume of miserable tales about Dish is impressive; 346 former or current employees had taken the time to write not-so-nice things about the company. On a scale of 1 to 5, they ranked their company an average of 2.2, beating Dillard’s (DDS) and RadioShack (RSH) for the spot at the bottom.”

Common beefs included long hours, absence of paid holidays and an excess of mandatory overtime. “Some posts suggest that merely setting foot in Dish’s headquarters is a danger to the soul,” the piece reports. However, the study also noted that Dish’s stock price was up better than 30% for much of 2012.

“Much of the malice, and value generation, can be traced to one man: Charlie Ergen, 59, the founder and chairman of Dish,” Bloomberg reports. “Although he turned over the role of chief executive officer to former Sirius XM Radio (SIRI) head Joseph Clayton in 2011, Ergen remains the core of Dish -- and its largest shareholder, with 53.2 percent of the outstanding shares and 90.4 percent of the voting rights.”

Bloomberg notes that Ergen, who founded Dish more than 30 years ago, “has an estimated net worth of $11 billion. That puts him among the world’s richest men and makes him one of America’s greatest entrepreneurial success stories. He’s also a living rebuke to a library of management textbooks that suggest fostering happy, self-actualized employees in a transparent environment of trust and communal effort is the path to wealth.”

The New York Post reports that Dish engaged in practices such as fingerprinting staff and deducting money from paychecks if employees tipped more than 15%.

Staff at Dish had a huge dissatisfaction rating, the Post notes: Out of nearly 500 reviews on glassdoor.com, 390 were dissatisifed or very dissatisfied, while only 91 reviewers were satisfied or very satisfied.

more »

Former Fox News Channel Personality Jumps to NBC

A talking head who recently exited Fox News Channel is making the move to NBC, TVNewser.com reports. After saying his goodbyes to "Fox & Friends" early this week, Dave Briggs will co-host a daily sports and pop culture show for the NBC Sports Network, the story reports.

The new show, "The Crossover with Beadle and Briggs," will pair Briggs with "Access Hollywood" and NBC Sports correspondent Michelle Beadle, the piece adds. The half-hour program will air at 6 p.m. ET Monday-Friday, starting Jan. 28.

david-briggs.jpgDave Briggs

more »

In a Deal 'Reeking With Irony,' Al Gore May Come Away With $70 Million From Current TV Sale

Al Gore, who has made dozens of investments since he lost the 2000 presidential race, might gross about $70 million from the sale of his Current TV to the pan-Arab, Qatar-backed cable channel Al Jazeera, reports Bloomberg.

Gore, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change, will be reaping multiples of the $1.7 million reported as his maximum net worth while running for president in 1999, according to the report. Gore is also a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, serves on the board of Apple Inc. and is an adviser to Google.

The sale of Gore’s Current TV to a company with roots in oil-rich Qatar is “reeking with irony," Jeff Sonnenfield, senior associate dean at the Yale School of Management, told Bloomberg. “It seems to be at least a paradox in terms of his positions on sustainability and geopolitics."

Gore's other investments include holdings in Amazon.com, eBay and Procter & Gamble. His stake in Current TV was 20%, the piece notes, adding that it's difficult to pinpoint his profit from the sale because the cable network had $41.4 million in debt, as well as preferred stock entitled to $99.5 million in case of a sale.

"The green of money knows no political boundaries,” said Charles Elson, director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at University of Delaware.

more »

Time Warner Cable Says It Will Keep 'Open Mind' on Al Jazeera

After taking Current TV off its systems following the channel's purchase by the pan-Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera, Time Warner Cable said it would keep "an open mind" and size up the new network as it develops, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

“We are keeping an open mind, and as the service develops, we will evaluate whether it makes sense, for our customers, to launch the network,” Time Warner Cable said in a statement Thursday.

As previously reported, Current TV was sold to Al Jazeera for $500 million; Time Warner Cable immediately announced it would drop the service, and within hours the channel went dark on TWC systems.

The cable operator noted that it had an option to carry Al Jazeera's current English-language network if it wanted to, but hadn't yet activated that option, according to The Times. The reason is that Time Warner Cable, like other pay-TV operators, felt there wasn't enough viewer demand for the network.

more »

Woman in Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' Video Pockets $55,000 in Settlement

Michael Jackson's estate reportedly paid $55,000 to Ola Ray, the woman featured in the singer's "Thriller" music video, to settle a lawsuit filed by Ray, reports TMZ.com. The lawsuit was settled last year.

Ray, a former Playboy centerfold model, filed the suit against Michael Jackson and his production company in 2009, less than two months before Jackson died, the story notes. Ray, now 52, claimed breach of contract, alleging she was still owed a big chunk of profits from the video, three decades after it was released, the piece notes.

The director of the video, John Landis, filed a similar lawsuit against the estate and has also settled, although the story doesn't specify his settlement. He had sought more than $2 million, the piece adds.

ola-ray-thriller.jpgOla Ray in “Thriller”

more »

CBS Takes Wraps Off Plans for Super Bowl Commercial Special -- Including Replacing One of the Hosts

CBS has tapped one of the hosts of "The Talk" to co-host its 13th annual special about the Super Bowl's top commercials, reports Deadline.com.

“The Talk’s” Aisha Tyler will join CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason as co-host of the special, "Super Bowl's Greatest Commercials." The program is slated to air Jan. 30, four days before the Super Bowl.

Tyler replaces Jillian Michaels, who co-hosted last year.

“Viewers once again will get to vote for their favorite Super Bowl commercial of all time,” the piece notes, with voting already under way.

“The top 12 vote-getters from the past decade of ‘Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials,’ including Adriana Lima’s Victoria’s Secret spot and E*Trade’s ‘Trading Baby,’ will go head-to-head on CBS’s site, where fans will be able to vote via Facebook and Twitter to determine the top three Super Bowl commercials of all time,” the story reports. “Those commercials will advance to the live vote during the broadcast, with the winning ad revealed at the end of the show.”

more »

'Saturday Night Live' Names 'The Voice' Coach to Host

"Saturday Night Live" has named one of the coaches from "The Voice" to host the NBC late-night sketch show’s Jan. 26 episode, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed. Making his “SNL” hosting debut will be Adam Levine.

Levine will be joined by musical guest Kendrick Lamar. Levine has performed on "SNL" numerous times as the frontman for his group, Maroon 5, the piece notes.

adam-levine.jpgAdam Levine

more »

'Modern Family' Hires 'Community' Writer

ABC’s "Modern Family" has hired a comedy writer who worked for three years on "Community," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Megan Ganz, who announced her move on Reddit, wrote six full episodes for the NBC cult comedy, including season two's "Cooperative Calligraphy," the story says.

"Recently, I was offered a job writing for 'Modern Family,’ and although it's unclear what will happen with 'Community' for the fifth season (or the sixth season, or the movie), I've decided to take this new position," she wrote.

megan-ganz.jpgMegan Ganz

more »

Viewers to Pick Ending of 'Hawaii Five-0' Episode

Viewers will pick the ending of a new episode of "Hawaii Five-0," with CBS saying the twist is the first ever of its kind, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The Jan. 14 episode will allow viewers to vote for the person they want to be the killer of an O'ahu State University professor. The suspects are his boss, teaching assistant and a student who was caught cheating. Viewers will be able to vote via Twitter and on CBS.com, the story says.

“I’ve always felt the most fun aspect of watching a mystery is trying to figure out whodunit,” said Peter Lenkov, executive producer. “Now the 'Hawaii Five-0' viewers will actually get the chance to tell us who they think committed the crime and we will listen. I love that our dedicated and attentive fans will actually play a part in resolving our story.”

more »

House Minority Leader to Appear on '30 Rock' Finale

NBC’s "30 Rock" has tapped the House Minority Leader to guest star on the show’s series finale, reports Deadline.com. The network confirmed that Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California will appear on the Jan. 31 episode.

It was not clear whether Pelosi would play anyone other than herself on the episode, the piece notes.

Pelosi will be one of several politicians who have appeared on the show, including former Vice President Al Gore, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, all of whom played themselves.

more »

Bill O'Reilly Project Headed for Nat Geo Channel

A program from Fox News Channel fixture Bill O’Reilly has been bought by the National Geographic network, which wants to expand its original history-focused programming, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder. The project is based on O’Reilly’s best-selling “Killing Kennedy.”

Director Ridley Scott will handle the production through his company, Scott Free. News Corp., which owns Fox News, also has a controlling stake in Nat Geo.

The deal follows Nat Geo's production of O'Reilly's "Killing Lincoln," which is also produced by Scott Free. That show is slated to air in February, the piece notes. Tom Hanks is narrating the project.

more »

Are Kelsey Grammer and Martin Lawrence Prepping Sitcom In Which They Will Both Star?

"Kelsey Grammer and Martin Lawrence are considering pairing up to star in and produce a multi-camera comedy together for Lionsgate TV and its subsidiary Debmar-Mercury," report Nikki Finke and Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

The story continues, "In the past few weeks, the studio has quietly sent out feelers to writers. In coming weeks, the studio will start meeting with potential creators/showrunners to pin down a concept for the buddy series, which sources say may have an 'odd couple' feel."

The article adds, "We hear the comedy would follow the production model of Charlie Sheen’s 'Anger Management,' also produced by Lionsgate TV and distributed by Debmar-Mercury. Most recently, 'Anger Management' following an original 10-episode run was given a back-90 pickup by FX and has been sold to the Fox stations. Under Debmar-Mercury’s 10-90 template, the company sells sitcoms to cable networks with an initial 10-episode straight-to-series order, which if a ratings target is met triggers a multi-season order as big as 90 episodes. The idea is for Debmar-Mercury to quickly amass enough episodes for the sitcom’s launch in broadcast syndication."

more »

Warner Bros. Settles Vertical Integration Lawsuit Over 'Smallville'

Warner Bros. has settled the bulk of a $100 million lawsuit over “Smallville” that raised questions about the sensitive issue of vertical integration, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The suit from Tollin/Robbins Productions sought more than $100 million in damages over WBTV’s financial dealings involving the Superman TV show. “Smallville’s” creators and executive producers alleged they were “cheated out of tens of millions of dollars through sweetheart license-fee deals that the studio made with its sister TV networks,” the piece reports.

“On Wednesday, Tollin/Robbins Productions submitted papers in Los Angeles Superior Court to dismiss its claims,” the story reports. “A Warner Bros. spokesperson confirms to The Hollywood Reporter that the dispute with the production company has been resolved. Part of the case from Killara Productions, run by Smallville co-developer Miles Millar and Leonardtown Productions and operated by Alfred Gough, continues.”

The Tollin/Robbins suit was filed in March 2010. About a year later, “Smallville” ended its successful 10-year run.

“The case touched upon a sensitive issue in Hollywood: so-called ‘vertical integration,’” the story reports. “The producers contended they were deprived of significant profits when WBTV allegedly undersold the series to affiliates [of] the WB Network and then The CW instead of licensing the series to outside companies.”

The case had been set to go to trial in June before the settlement was reached.

“In court papers, Warners argued that that it had absolute discretion to determine the terms of its license agreement,” THR reports. “The studio also attempted to convince the judge that damages were merely ‘speculative’ because Tollin/Robbins couldn't establish that greater profits would have been earned if Smallville had been licensed to Fox or another network.

“But Judge Michael Johnson said there was enough in the pleadings to send it to a jury. In his ruling, he said the plaintiffs had demonstrated triable issues as to whether WBTV complied with obligations to conduct negotiations at various divisions in-house at arms-length and whether the producers' contracts included profit definitions that necessitated that money be collected at ‘fair market rates consistent with licenses granted by Warner to non-affiliates.’"

more »

Sale of Current TV Ratchets Up Pressure on Small Channels -- Is Move an Omen of Shrinking Cable Universe?

The sale of Al Gore’s Current TV to Al Jazeera, followed immediately by the ouster of the channel from the Time Warner Cable lineup, as we reported previously, has little-viewed networks feeling the heat, television writer Alex Ben Block writes in an analysis piece in The Hollywood Reporter.

Ovation was also recently dumped by TWC, while Reelz Channel has lost $100 million since its 2006 launch, the piece notes. Increasingly, distributors are questioning the wisdom of carrying large numbers of channels.

“Cable television is undergoing a shift away from the era in which the goal was the 500 channel universe,” Ben Block writes. “It is a sea change in the media landscape that could impact not just Current and Al Jazeera but dozens if not hundreds of medium sized and small channels, most of which are independently owned and distributed.”

Time Warner Cable has said it is contemplating scrapping more than 50 other channels, including E!, Encore and Lifetime, the piece notes. “The message might be a negotiating ploy to get lower sub fees, but there is little question that television distributors are re-evaluating how they do business as the cost of programming soars,” Ben Block writes. “Rising sports rights fees, as well as increased program costs and demands from broadcasters such as CBS and Fox for sharply higher retransmission payments, are to blame.”

Said cable industry consultant Steve Effros: “For a long time, it was a question of how many channels you could offer a consumer. That is now changing. We have reached a point of diminishing returns because the Internet offers an infinite number of channels.”

The change reflects shifting priorities for cable companies, which no longer care as much as they once did about selling video services.

Vasily Karasyov, senior media analyst at Susquehanna Financial Group, said: “They want to sell high-speed Internet and phone. What they care about is, ‘If I don’t have this channel, will I lose video subscribers to whom I can upsell other stuff?’”

An increasing number of channels are finding themselves endangered, the piece reports.

“In the case of Current TV, the loss of Time Warner Cable means its reach into American TV homes drops from about 60 million to less than 48 million homes,” the piece reports. “That means it will lose its subscriber fees from TWC of about 12 cents per customer each month, which Karasyov says it was able to command only because of co-founder Al Gore’s projections at the time. Those ratings promises have never been met, while the cost of doing business goes up and up.”

Says Karasyov: “If you’re an under-distributed network and you’re not part of a conglomerate, or if you are another small independent channel, you’re scared right now.”

more »

Oscar Winner Developing Starz Drama

A new drama is in the works at pay-cable channel Starz, with an Academy Award-winning screenwriter behind the project, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The project, “Crime,” comes from William Monahan, who won an Oscar in 2007 for his screenplay for “The Departed.”

“Monahan will pen the script for ‘Crime,’ which is described as a study of criminal enterprises and scandal across 1960s Britain,” the piece reports. “The project, which has received a script commitment from the pay cabler, was originally developed as a feature film treatment by Vanessa Sadler.”

Monahan told the publication: “There’s very little more interesting to me than the '60s in Britain. Taken from Profumo to psychedelia, from the London criminal world to the worlds of art and fashion -- all of which continually intersected. I know one thing: It’s very, very, funny.”

The project marks the first foray into television for Atlas Entertainment, whose Charles Roven and William Green will executive produce with Monahan and Andy Horwitz co-executive produding. “Justine Suzanne Jones, president of development at Monahan's production company Henceforth Pictures, will co-exec produce,” the report adds.

In a statement, Starz Entertainment Managing Director Carmi Zlotnik said: "We are excited to be working with William Monahan on one of his passion projects. ‘Crime’ is the kind of unique storytelling that elevates scripted television for audiences."

Adds Roven: "We’re thrilled that our first foray in television has us working with the incredibly talented William Monahan on this unique show, and we’re excited to be sharing it with audiences not only in the U.S. but around the world.”

Starz has been pumping up its development slate as it prepares to lose its portfolio of Disney features in 2016, the report notes. “Starz is scheduled to launch at least four scripted series in 2013, including the final season of ‘Spartacus,’ season two of Jeffrey Dean Morgan's ‘Magic City,’ freshman period drama ‘Da Vinci's Demons’ and new limited series ‘The White Queen’ with Janet McTeer,” the piece adds.

more »

Fox News Host Goes After Prominent Editor, Demands -- and Gets -- Correction

One of the hosts of the Fox News Channel went after a prominent journalist after being incorrectly attributed with a quote insulting Hillary Clinton -- and got a correction for the misquote, TVNewser.com reports.

The host, Greta Van Susteren, first took her case to the Internet, using her blog to demand a correction and apology from Daily Beast writer Lauren Ashburn -- before going after the publication’s editor.

TVNewser reports: “In a piece assailing Fox News hosts and analysts who’d mocked the illness of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- before it was revealed she had a blood clot -- Ashburn incorrectly attributed the quote ‘immaculate concussion’ to Van Susteren, when it was Laura Ingraham who’d said it.”

Van Susteren wrote on her blog: “The DAILY BEAST NEEDS TO CORRECT THIS PRONTO -- and do so in a BIG WAY (not hidden in some little footnote.)”

Van Susteren then called prominent journalist Tina Brown, editor of the Daily Beast:

Van Susteren wrote: “She said ‘if it is wrong, I will fix it. We will take it out.’ I said, ‘it is wrong’ and that I don’t want some little correction -- I want a prominent one since insulting the Secretary of State is no small mistake. She cut me off and hung up on me.”

Daily Beast later ran this correction: “Editor’s note: In an earlier version of this article, Greta Van Susteren was incorrectly quoted as joking that Hillary Cilnton had had an ‘immaculate concussion.’ In fact, that phrase was used by Laura Ingraham. We apologize for the error.”

more »

'American Idol' Alum Rips Singing in 'Les Miserables' -- and Gets a Response From Movie's Star Russell Crowe

Everyone seems to have something to say about the singing in the new movie “Les Miserables,” and among the most vocal has been onetime “American Idol” runner-up Adam Lambert.

USA Today reports that Lambert “took to Twitter to say that while the film was ‘visually impressive w great emotional performances,’ the score ‘suffered massively with great actors PRETENDING to be singers.’"

The piece adds: “Lambert liked the performances of Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen, but didn't think much of director Tom Hooper's live-singing strategy. He wrote, ‘With that cast, they should have studio recorded and sweetened the vocals.’"

Lambert also tweeted: "I felt like I should ignore the vocals and focus on the emotional subtext -- but the singing was so distracting at times it pulled me out."

Lambert’s criticism drew a response from one of the movie’s stars, Russell Crowe.

Crowe, who plays Javert in the film, tweeted this week: "I don't disagree with Adam, sure it could have been sweetened, Hooper wanted it raw and real, that's how it is."

more »

HBO Is Sued Over Canceled Series

A short-lived HBO drama series continues to create problems for the pay-cable network, which has been named in a lawsuit over the series.

HBO and the American Humane Association were sued by a former senior employee of the AHA, who is alleging she was wrongfully terminated for complaining about alleged abuse and mistreatment of horses on HBO's canceled "Luck," the Los Angeles Times reports.

Barbara Casey, former director of production for the AHA's film and television unit, alleges that the AHA stymied her efforts to enforce the group's animal safety standards and prevent "animal abuse and cruelty." "Luck" was shut down in March 2012 after the deaths of three horses, the piece notes.

A representative for the AHA said it was unable to comment on pending legal matters.

HBO responded to the suit by saying: "We took every precaution to ensure that our horses were treated humanely and with the utmost care, exceeding every safeguard of all protocols and guidelines required of the production. Barbara Casey was not an employee of HBO, and any questions regarding her employment should be directed to the AHA."

Created by David Milch, “Luck” was a high-profile project that starred Dustin Hoffman and focused on the world of thoroughbred racing. Nine episodes were produced of the series, which also featured Dennis Farina, John Ortiz, Richard Kind, Jason Gedrick, Jill Hennessy and Nick Nolte.

more »

Video: Letterman Questions Kathy Griffin About Her New Year's Eve Crotch-Kissing Antics

Appearing Wednesday night on CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman,” Kathy Griffin made no apologies for her New Year’s Eve appearance in which she simulated oral sex on CNN host Anderson Cooper on live TV, USA Today reports.

"If you think this is the part where I'm going to apologize for trying to go down on Anderson Cooper, you are sorely mistaken,” said Griffin, who has a reputation for stirring controversy. As previously reported, the latest incident continues a series of edge-pushing New Year’s Eve stunts for the comedian.

Here’s a clip of Griffin’s Letterman appearance, which includes footage from the CNN telecast:

more »

Veteran Director Who Helmed the Most-Watched TV Episode of All Time (When It Aired in 1967) Dies at 95

A veteran TV and film director who helmed what was the most-watched television series episode of all time when it aired in 1967 has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Don Medford, 95, who directed the finale of the ABC drama "The Fugitive," died Dec. 12.

Medford was best known for his work in television, including directing 26 episodes of the 1980s prime-time soap "Dynasty" and 32 episodes of the 1965-1974 show "The F.B.I.," the story notes. Other shows he directed include "Baretta," "The Detectives" and "The Twilight Zone," for which he directed an episode starring Jack Klugman, who died Dec. 24.

Originally from Detroit, Medford moved to New York in 1946 to work in live television, and later shifted to Hollywood when Alfred Hitchcock hired him to direct two installments of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," the story adds.

"One of Medford’s trademarks in the early days was shooting a scene during the day and then 'underdeveloping' the film in postproduction to make it appear as if it were shot in darkness (it was called 'day for night' shooting; the shadows were a dead giveaway for anyone paying attention). For that he earned the nickname 'Midnight Medford,’" the piece reports.

The finale of "The Fugitive," in which accused killer Richard Kimble clears his name and catches the murderous one-armed man, was viewed by more than 78 million people, or 45.9% of U.S. television households, the report notes. At that time, that made the episode the most-watched series episode ever, according to the piece.

don-medford.jpgDon Medford

more »

'DWTS' Dancer Julianne Hough Says She Was Abused as a Child

"Dancing with the Stars" dancer Julianne Hough tells Cosmopolitan she was abused as a child, when she was sent at age 10 to study dance in London.

"While I was in London, I was abused, mentally, physically, everything," she said. She declined to say who did the abuse or in what way, the story says. "I was a tormented little kid who had to put on this sexy facade because that was my job and my life. But my heart was the same, and I was this innocent little girl. I wanted so much love."

Her brother Derek, who also is on "Dancing with the Stars," was studying at the prestigious Italia Conti Academy of the Arts when a space opened up and she joined him. Hough ended up with a five-year scholarship, and rarely saw or talked with her family, the story says.

"I was told if I ever went back to the United States, three things were going to happen. One: I was going to amount to nothing. Two: I was going to work at Whataburger. And three: I was going to end up a slut. So, it was like, I can't go back. I have to be this person," she said.

julianne-hough.jpgJulianne Hough

more »

Why French Movie Star Gerard Depardieu Is Now -- Suddenly -- a Russian Citizen

French film star Gerard Depardieu, who has denounced his homeland, suddenly became a Russian citizen Thursday, Reuters reports. The Kremlin announced that Russian President Vladimir Putin had granted citizenship to Depardieu, according to the report.

The actor is leaving France to avoid a tax increase on the rich, according to the Kremlin.

“The ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ actor bought a house across the border in Belgium last year to avoid a new tax rate for millionaires in France planned by Socialist President Francois Hollande but said he could also seek tax exile elsewhere,” the story reports. “Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Depardieu had applied for citizenship after Putin told reporters last month that he would be welcome in Russia. ‘The citizenship could not have been granted to him without (such an) appeal,’ Peskov said.”

The Kremlin also announced on its website that Putin had signed a special decree granting citizenship to Depardieu.

“Russia has a flat income tax rate of 13 percent, compared with the 75 percent on income over 1 million euros ($1.32 million) that Hollande wants to impose in France,” Reuters reports. “The 63-year-old Depardieu told friends he was considering three options to escape France's new tax regime: settling in Belgium, relocating to Montenegro, where he has a business, or fleeing to Russia, French daily Le Monde reported in December.”

Depardieu, who was recently seen in “Life of Pi,” reportedly plans to relinquish his French passport and social security card. It was unclear whether the actor would actually be moving to Russia. Depardieu’s assistant declined to comment for the story.

Gerard-Depardieu.jpgGerard Depardieu

more »

Holiday Special Delivers Record Ratings for BBC America

BBC America hit an all-time ratings high in adults 25 to 54 with a special holiday telecast. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the cable channel’s Christmas "Doctor Who" special set a record with a 0.95 rating in the targeted demo.

The one-hour-plus program, "Doctor Who: The Snowmen," also almost matched the network's best-ever telecast in total viewers. “Snowmen" averaged 1.43 million viewers, but fell just short of the network record held by the premiere of “Doctor Who’s” seventh season.

The special was up 54% in total viewers and 60% in the 25-54 age bracket from last year's Christmas special, the piece notes.

The second half of the series' seventh season returns to BBC America in the spring.

more »

Lights Out for 'That Doggie in the Window' -- Popular '50s Singer Patti Page Dead at 85. Biggest Hit Was 'Tennessee Waltz'

"Patti Page, the apple-cheeked, honey-voiced alto whose sentimental, soothing, sometimes silly hits like 'Tennessee Waltz,' 'Old Cape Cod' and '(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window' made her one of the most successful pop singers of the 1950s, died on Tuesday in Encinitas, Calif," reports The New York Times.

Page was 85. Her cause of death was not disclosed.

At the height of her fame in the 1950s she was known as "The Singing Rage, Patti Page."

The Wall Street Journal version of this story says that Page sold "over 100 million records around the world. Her bright voice was so redolent of America that Mao Zedong once condemned her version of 'The Tennessee Waltz' as 'reactionary propaganda.'

"Although hardly a pioneer in her vocal stylings, Ms. Page was among the first to employ overdubbing. That technique allowed her to accompany herself on 'Confess' and sing four parts on the ethereal 'With My Eyes Wide Open I'm Dreaming,' which in 1950 became her first gold record."

Notes the Times story: "'Tennessee Waltz,' from 1950, sold 10 million copies and is largely considered the first true crossover hit; it spent months on the pop, country and rhythm-and-blues charts."

The Times story also notes: "In the early days of television Ms. Page hosted several brief network series, including 'Scott Music Hall' (1952), a 15-minute NBC show that followed the evening news two nights a week, and 'The Big Record,' which ran one season, 1957-58, on CBS. 'The Patti Page Show' was an NBC summer fill-in series in 1956."

She also starred in "The Patti Page Olds Show," from September 1958 through March 1959 on ABC, according to "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows." The "Olds" in the title stands for the show's sponsor, Oldsmobile.

Here's Page singing her novelty hit "(How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window":



Here's Page singing "Tennessee Waltz":
 

more »

Blast From the Past: 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' -- Which Hasn't Aired a Fresh Episode in a Year and a Half -- Goes Up Against 'Modern' Sitcoms on ABC, CBS, NBC and FX for Producers Guild Comedy Award; We Have the Full List of TV and Film Nominees

In an odd twist based on the Producers Guild of America’s decision to follow the same schedule as the Primetime Emmys -- even though the PGAs play out six months later -- a show that hasn’t been on the air with original episodes in a year and a half is back in the spotlight.

Deadline.com reports that HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is among the comedy nominees, competing with NBC’s “30 Rock,” CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory,” FX’s “Louie” and ABC’s “Modern Family.”

The drama series category consists entirely of familiar names to anyone who follows TV awards: HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” PBS’s “Downton Abbey,” Showtime’s “Homeland” and AMC’s “Mad Men.”

In the long-form TV category, which encompasses both movies of the week and miniseries, the contenders are History’s “Hatfields & McCoys,” PBS’s “Sherlock,” HBO’s “Game Change,” FX’s “American Horror Story” and PBS’s “The Dust Bowl.”

Click here for the full list of nominees in the television and motion picture categories.

more »

Director of 'Iron Man' to Helm Episode of NBC's 'The Office'

The man behind the feature film "Iron Man" will direct an episode of "The Office" before the show goes off the air, reports TVLine.com.

It's not yet clear which episode of the NBC sitcom Jon Favreau will direct, the story says. He has previously directed TV shows, including an episode of Fox's "Undeclared" and the pilot for NBC's "Revolution," on which he's also an executive producer.

Favreau directed the 2008 feature film "Iron Man," a worldwide box office hit starring Robert Downey Jr. as the Marvel Comics superhero.

more »

Conan O'Brien Producing Medical Comedy for Fox

Late-night host Conan O'Brien is producing a medical comedy for Fox, which has the scripted show in development, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The show is called "Bob's New Heart Show," a pun on the classic comedy "The Bob Newhart Show" and its medical theme, the story notes.

The script, from "Community" writer and co-executive producer Ben Wexler, tracks a doctor when he returns to his old neighborhood after a heart transplant and takes over a family practice.

Warner Bros. TV and O’Brien’s Conaco are producing, with O’Brien executive producing along with David Kissinger and Jeff Ross.

more »

Lifetime's 'Dance Moms' Premieres to Series High

Lifetime's "Dance Moms" premiered its third season to a series high in total viewers, reports Deadline.com. The show’s 2.8 million viewers represented a 33% increase from its summer 2012 season premiere, the story notes.

After "Dance Moms," Lifetime aired a peek at "Double Divas," a reality show set in a lingerie store, which received a solid sampling of 1.5 million total viewers, the piece adds.

more »

Jim Murray, Agent Who Worked With George Burns and Phyllis Diller, Dies at 85

Jim Murray, an agent who ran ICM's offices in Las Vegas and represented stars such as George Burns and Phyllis Diller, has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 85.

Murray helped bring stars to Las Vegas, including Tony Bennett, Jack Benny, Florence Henderson, Tom Jones, Joan Rivers and Shirley MacLaine, the story says.

From 1954 to 1960, he worked with fellow agent Roy Gerber, the real-life inspiration for the character Oscar Madison in "The Odd Couple," from playwright Neil Simon, the story notes.

Murray, who started as a drummer in the Army Air Corps and the Glenn Miller Band, retired in 1986.

more »

Al Jazeera Buys Al Gore's Current TV for $500 Million; Time Warner Cable Immediately Drops Service

"Current TV, the network co-founded by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, was sold for about $500 million to Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based cable-news channel, according to two people with knowledge of the deal," reports Bloomberg.

The story also says, "Time Warner Cable Inc., the second-biggest U.S. cable company, said it would stop carrying Current TV with the ownership change...'Our agreement with Current has been terminated and we will no longer be carrying the service,' Time Warner Cable, based in New York, said in an e-mailed statement. 'We are removing the service as quickly as possible.'

The story added that Time Warner Cable already "carries Al Jazeera [English-language] programming in New York City, according to the Al Jazeera website."

Time Warner Cable is also the primary cable operator in Los Angeles. The cable operator does not carry Al Jazeera's English-language network in L.A.

The article notes that the $500 million selling price "represents an eightfold increase from the $60 million Gore and his partners paid for its predecessor in 2004, said one of the people [with knowledge of the deal], who asked not to be named because the terms are private. Gore, chairman, and Joel Hyatt, a co-founder and chief executive officer, announced the sale yesterday in a statement, without providing financial terms."

The Associated Press version of this story says that in buying Current TV Al Jazeera "is boosting its reach in the U.S. nearly ninefold to about 40 million homes."

The AP adds, "Al-Jazeera, owned by the government of Qatar, plans to gradually transform Current into a network called Al-Jazeera America by adding five to 10 new U.S. bureaus beyond the five it has now and hiring more journalists. More than half of the content will be U.S. news and the network will have its headquarters in New York, spokesman Stan Collender said.

"Collender said there are no rules against foreign ownership of a cable channel — unlike the strict rules limiting foreign ownership of free-to-air TV stations. He said the move is based on demand, adding that 40 percent of viewing traffic on Al-Jazeera English's website is from the U.S. 'This is a pure business decision based on recognized demand,' Collender said. 'When people watch Al-Jazeera, they tend to like it a great deal.' "

more »

2012 Was a Good Year for Media Stocks -- So Which Big Media Conglomerate Did the Best?

Media stocks performed well during 2012, with most of them beating the upswing in the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index, Deadline.com reports.

The S&P was up 13.4% during the year, the piece notes, but pacing the big media conglomerates was Comcast -- the owner of NBCUniversal -- with its share prices rising by a whopping 57.6% in 2012.

Other top performers, according to the piece, were News Corp. (+43.0%), CBS (+40.2%), Disney (+32.8%), Time Warner (+32.4%) and Viacom (+16.1%).

“Sony was the only member of this group to lose ground, falling 37.9% as it struggles to fix its global TV and electronics sales operations,” Deadline reports. “Within the universe of other companies that we track most closely, the biggest winners were Carmike (+118.7%), Lionsgate (+97.1%), AOL (+96.1%), Lin TV (+78.0%), and Sirius XM (+58.8%). The losers: Best Buy (-49.3%), Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (-44.3%), Sony, Rovi (-37.2%) and Facebook (-30.0% since it went public in May.).”

Movie theater chains did especially well, with the SNL Kagan Theater Index rising 46.8% during the year. “That partly reflects the turnaround at domestic box offices (2012 was up about 6.3% to a record $10.8B following a 3.8% drop in 2011),” the story notes. “Striking improvements at Carmike also significantly boosted the average in this relatively small group. It was followed by Cinemark (+40.5%), IMAX (+22.6%), and Regal (+16.8%).”

Cable and satellite operators posted an overall 42.2% improvement, the piece notes, citing SNL Kagan numbers. “Cable companies could point to growing broadband Internet subscriptions while satellite gained market share in video and improved sales of premium services,” Deadline reports. “After Comcast we see Time Warner Cable (+52.9%), Charter (+33.9%), Dish Network (+27.8%), DirecTV (+17.3%), AT&T (+11.5%), Verizon (+7.9%) and Cablevision (+5.1%).”

Cable networks also posted solid improvements. “In an uncertain economy, investors loved their dual revenue streams (ads and subscriber payments) and low exposure to some of the distressed economies in Europe,” the story reports. “SNL Kagan’s index for them was +34.3% including big improvements at Discovery (+54.9%), Crown Media (+52.9%), Scripps Networks (+36.5%), and AMC Networks (+31.7%).”

SNL Kagans index for studios was up 32.4%, with Lionsgate leading the way. “Lionsgate skewed the results in this small group following its string of movie and TV successes led by ‘The Hunger Games’ and (after its acquisition in January of Summit Entertainment) ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2,’” Deadline reports. “By contrast, DreamWorks Animation was -0.2% following the disappointing performance of ‘Rise of the Guardians.’”

TV stations got a boost from advertising associated with the Olympic Games, political spending and a resurgence in the automotive segment, posting a 24.0% improvement. Following the 78.0% rise for Lin TV, Gray Television was up 35.8%, Entercom rose 13.5% and Sinclair climbed 11.4%.

“What about the sexy new media businesses that are angling to take market share from traditional media? They did well, but didn’t dramatically exceed the Street’s expectations: Their stocks were +21.3% overall,” the story reports. “AOL was the standout here, helped by consistent revenue growth, and a $1B+ sale of its patents with much of the cash used to repurchase shares. It beat Amazon (+44.9%), Netflix (+33.6%), Apple (+31.4%), Yahoo (+23.4%), Google (+9.5%), and Microsoft (+2.9%).”

more »

C-SPAN Apologizes for 'Unfortunate Posting of Content Some Might Find Offensive'

Two incidents during C-SPAN’s coverage of the fiscal cliff maneuvering on Capitol Hill caused some observers to think the network had been hacked -- and led to an apology from the network, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Both incidents involved slightly edgy book titles. C-SPAN aired the title “I Want You to Shut the F--k Up” in a caption during live coverage of the Senate vote, the piece reports. The title appeared as part of a promo for a regularly scheduled book show.

Also appearing was the book title "Just Plain Dick," which aired during Sen. Tom Harkin's speech.

“No, it wasn't a scorned intern running amok or Anonymous performing another hack on New Year's Eve, those were just regularly scheduled Book TV shows on C-SPAN,” THR reports.

The non-profit network later issued an apology.

THR reports: “The caption for the shortened book title ‘Just Plain Dick’ by Kevin Mattson appeared around 1:30 a.m. EST on New Year's Day while Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) was speaking on the Senate floor. The full title of the book is ‘Just Plain Dick: Richard Nixon's Checkers Speech and the "Rocking, Socking" Election of 1952,’ which shortened and taken out of context, led to some humorous interpretations.”

The piece adds: “Later that night, C-SPAN aired their Book TV evening schedule, which included an episode discussing D.L. Hughley's book, ‘I Want You to Shut the F--k Up,’ whose full title is ‘I Want You to Shut the F--k Up: How the Audacity of Dopes Is Ruining America.’”

C-SPAN released its apology today, saying in part: "You may have seen tweets and postings online asserting that C-SPAN’s website had been hacked over the New Year’s holiday, citing obscenities in the schedule. While the site was not hacked, our policy of using current nonfiction book titles verbatim in our schedule led to the unfortunate posting of content some might find offensive on C-SPAN.org. We apologize for that and are taking steps to prevent it from happening again."

more »

Charlie Sheen Gets Caught Up in New Controversy

After a relatively controversy-free 2012 -- by Charlie Sheen standards -- the star of FX's "Anger Management" was overdue. So it may not come as a big surprise that the actor sparked one last brouhaha before the year ended.

The New York Daily News reports that Sheen was caught on video dropping a homophobic slur Friday night during the opening of a nightspot in the Cabo San Lucas area in Mexico. The video later surfaced on TMZ.

Sheen can be heard on the clip saying: "How we doing? Lying bunch of f---got a------s, how we doing?"

“Up until then Sheen had been the life of the party to open the swanky new Epic rooftop bar, which he co-owns, at the posh El Ganza hotel,” the Daily News reports. “Among the other bold-face notables that turned out: L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and former Guns n' Roses guitarist Slash, who played a set at the party.”

Sheen later offered a lukewarm apology, telling TMZ: "I meant no ill will and intended to hurt no one and I apologize if I offended anyone. I meant to say maggot but I have a lisp."

Here’s the uncensored video:

more »

'Extreme Makeover' Star Launches New Series

The host of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” has a new show, B&C reports. Ty Pennington will host “American Journey,” a new monthly 30-minute series on HLN.

“The 10-episode series, which is sponsored by Chevrolet, tells the stories of people and communities who have found inventive ways to address problems by applying lessons of the American pioneers,” the piece reports. “Each monthly installment of ‘American Journey’ will air four times a month on the weekend in prime time. The first episode premieres Saturday, Jan. 12, at 8 p.m., repeating the next day.”

Said Scot Safon, executive VP and general manager of HLN: "’American Journey’ is the latest way that HLN will spotlight the resourcefulness and resilience we find as we cover the American scene. With programs like this, and our new daily program ‘Making It in America,’ HLN is deepening and broadening its coverage of news stories that really hit home for our national audience."

more »

NFL, TV Networks Lock In Schedule for Playoff Telecasts

With the conclusion of NBC's "Sunday Night Football" game that put the Washington Redskins into the playoffs and eliminated the Dallas Cowboys, the NFL and the TV networks have firmed up the playoff schedule, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Games will air on CBS, Fox and NBC, starting this Saturday.

Here’s the schedule, starting with wild card weekend:

Saturday, Jan. 5

AFC: 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC: Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans

NFC: 8 p.m. ET on NBC: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers

Sunday, Jan. 6

AFC: 1 p.m. ET on CBS: Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens

NFC: 4:30 p.m. ET on Fox: Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins

The NFL’s divisional playoff games will take place the following weekend:

Saturday, Jan. 12

AFC: 4:30 p.m. ET on CBS: Baltimore/Indianapolis/Cincinnati at Denver Broncos

NFC: 8 p.m. ET on FOX: Green Bay/Washington/Dallas/Seattle at San Francisco 49ers

Sunday, Jan. 13

NFC: 1 p.m. ET on FOX: Washington/Dallas/Seattle/Minnesota at Atlanta Falcons

AFC: 4:30 p.m. ET on CBS: Houston/Baltimore/Indianapolis at New England Patriots

The AFC and NFC championship games will be played Sunday, Jan. 20, with the AFC game airing on CBS at 6:30 p.m. ET and the NFC game airing on Fox at 3 p.m. ET.

On Sunday, Feb. 3, at 6:30 p.m. ET, Super Bowl XLVII will be broadcast on CBS from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

more »

Kathy Griffin, Known for New Year's Eve Hijinks, 'Outdoes Herself' -- Simulates Oral Sex on Anderson Cooper, Complete With 'Sardine' Remark

Kathy Griffin, known for her past antics on CNN's live New Year's Eve coverage, "outdid herself" in this week's broadcast when she tried to simulate oral sex on her friend and co-host, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, reports the New York Daily News.

The incident happened shortly after midnight, when Cooper cut to a live report from Eastport, Maine, where residents have a custom of kissing a sculpture of an eight-foot sardine that drops from a building.

When the camera cut back to Cooper, it caught Griffin trying to kiss his crotch, the story says.

"Did you drop something?" he asked.

Griffin responded, "No, I was kissing your sardine." Cooper grabbed her and pulled her upright, the story adds.

In 2009, Griffin dropped the F-word during the New Year's Eve telecast, and last year she tried to strip to her underwear.

more »

Why Piers Morgan Says He Might 'Deport Himself' From the U.S.

In an article in the U.K.'s Daily Mail, CNN host Piers Morgan writes that he may deport himself from the U.S. if the country won't change its "crazy gun laws."

Morgan wrote about his reaction to a petition created on a White House website that demands his deportation for "attacking the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution."

As previously reported, the petition was started after Morgan interviewed Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt and called him "an unbelievably stupid man."

"The concerted effort to get me thrown out of the country -- which has so far gathered more than 90,000 signatures -- struck me as rather ironic, given that by expressing my opinion I was merely exercising my rights, as a legal US resident, under the 1st Amendment, which protects free speech," Morgan writes in The Daily Mail.

"My argument with guns is not based on some universal, pathological hatred of them. I’m not a pacifist. Guns win necessary wars and defeat tyrannical regimes like the Nazis," he wrote.

He added: "But where I have a big problem is when the unfortunately ambiguous wording of the 2nd Amendment is twisted to mean that anyone in America can have any firearm they want, however powerful, and in whatever quantity they want."

As for the movement to deport him, Morgan wrote: "I can spare those Americans who want me deported a lot of effort by saying this: If you don’t change your gun laws to at least try to stop this relentless tidal wave of murderous carnage, then you don’t have to worry about deporting me.

"Although I love the country as a second home and one that has treated me incredibly well, I would, as a concerned parent first -- and latterly, of a one-year-old daughter who may attend an American elementary school like Sandy Hook in three years’ time -- seriously consider deporting myself."

more »

Don't Look for Robin Roberts to Be Back on 'GMA' Anytime Soon

The return date for "Good Morning America" host Robin Roberts, who has been off the ABC morning show while she deals with medical issues, will be in May 2013 at the earliest, and more likely June, reports TMZ.com.

An earlier return could be risky because her immune system is still weak after undergoing a bone marrow transplant, the report notes. As previously reported, Roberts is undergoing treatment for MDS, a bone marrow disorder that affects the production of blood cells.

Her doctors say she's making progress and is right on schedule, the report notes. But executives were hoping Roberts could return as early as February, which appears unlikely, the piece adds.

When it does happen, her return could push "GMA’s" ratings even higher, providing more of a challenge for "Today" on NBC, the piece adds. After coming in second to “Today” for years, “GMA” recently moved ahead of its rival in the morning ratings battle.

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

more »

Real-Life Hero of Events Depicted in Ben Affleck's Movie 'Argo' -- About the Iranian Hostage Crisis -- Dies. The Real Story of What Happened

One of the real-life heros of the events depicted in Ben Affleck's acclaimed movie "Argo" has died.

"John Sheardown, an unflappable Canadian diplomat in Tehran during the Iran hostage crisis who helped shelter six American “house guests” until they were secretly shuttled out of the country, died Dec. 30 at a hospital in Ottawa," reports the Washington Post, adding, "He was 88. He had Alzheimer’s disease, said his wife, Zena Sheardown."

One of the major characters in "Argo" is former Canadian Ambassador to Iran Ken Taylor. But according to the Post, Sheardown may have played an even more important role in what happened.

Says the Post, "In the days after the U.S. Embassy takeover, the six fugitive Americans assumed that the turmoil would subside quickly. They hid in the homes of their abducted colleagues and spent brief periods in other embassies, but tensions continued to build in the city and their security became ever more precarious.

"Robert Anders, another of the American diplomats seeking haven, knew Mr. Sheardown and called him to request official protection. 'Why didn’t you call sooner?' Mr. Sheardown replied.

"Five of the six Americans arranged passage to the Sheardown residence in the suburbs north of Tehran and arrived on Nov. 10. Mr. Sheardown, who had helped obtain permission from Ottawa, phoned Taylor to say that the 'house guests' had arrived. They were soon followed by the sixth American, Henry Lee Schatz, who had been hiding at the Swedish Embassy.

"The Taylors took Stafford and her husband, Joseph. The other four -- Anders, Schatz, and Mark and Cora Lijek -- remained with the Sheardowns."

Sheardown was not portrayed in the "Argo" movie, which had all the Americans staying with Ambassador Taylor.

more »

'American Idol' Winner Hurt in Head-on Collision

An "American Idol" champion was injured in a head-on collision on New Year’s Day. The Hollywood Reporter’s Idol Worship reports that Kris Allen, the season eight winner, and his wife, Katy, were involved in the wreck.

Allen, whose dog, Zorro, was also in the car, had a broken arm. The singer's mother, Kimberly, tweeted, "Kristopher and Katy are both pretty beat up but ALIVE! Thank you Jesus! They are setting his arm now and will have surgery tomorrow. Zorro is fine, too! Very shook up, but not injured."

Allen is supposed to start a tour this month, but might be sidelined with the injury, the story notes. He tweeted to his fans that everyone is OK, including Katy, who is pregnant with the couple’s first child.

more »

In First Year Without Dick Clark, 'Rockin' Eve' Draws Largest Audience on ABC

ABC's New Year’s Eve broadcast "Dick Clark's Primetime New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest" pulled its largest audience ever on ABC, and also marked the first year without Dick Clark, reports Deadline.com.

Clark, known for hosting “American Bandstand,” died in April 2012 at age 82. The New Year’s Eve special first appeared on ABC in 2000.

The latest edition drew 13.3 million viewers and posted a 4.1 rating with adults 18 to 49, the story notes, helped by a Dick Clark special that aired from 8 to 10 p.m. and drew 9.4 million total viewers.

The ABC broadcast crushed the competition, with NBC’s “New Year’s Eve with Carson Daly” managing only a 1.1 average rating in 18-49 and 3.8 million total viewers.

more »

ESPN's Hannah Storm Returns After Serious Burn Injury

Three weeks after being seriously burned in a backyard accident, ESPN morning anchor Hannah Storm returned to work on New Year’s Day to host coverage of the Rose Parade in Pasadena, reports the Los Angeles Times' SportsNow.

The injury was caused when a propane barbecue exploded as she attempted to relight the burner, the story says.

"A neighbor said he thought a tree had fallen through the roof, it was that loud. It blew the doors off the grill," she said.

Storm's left hand is still bandaged, and she spent 24 hours receiving treatment at a trauma and burn center, according to the piece. She said her return to work made her a little uneasy.

"I'm a little nervous about things I used to take for granted," Storm said. "Little things like putting on makeup and even turning pages on my script."

Storm also noted that viewers might spot something different about her hair as she is wearing extensions on camera, the piece reports.

hannah-storm.jpgHannah Storm

more »

Blackout Averted as Cablevision and Viacom Reach New Carriage Deal

Cablevision customers avoided a blackout of Viacom networks on New Year's Day after the companies reached a new carriage deal following two months of negotiations, reports the New York Post.

The companies, which issued a statement late Monday night about the agreement, didn't disclose terms of the deal.

The agreement, made before the Dec. 31 deadline was reached, surprised some given that both Cablevision and Viacom's customers have experienced a number of blackouts during the past 12 months, the story adds.

more »

Erroneous Date for Return of 'Arrested Development' -- Posted by Fox and Then Suddenly Yanked -- Leaves Plans for the Show Unclear

The return date for "Arrested Development" remains unclear after Fox posted a blurb and an episode lineup on its website that said the show's revived version would debut on Netflix on May 4, but quickly yanked the item, reports the New York Post.

A representative for Netflix said the May 4 date was wrong, but it is not known when the show will be available to Netflix customers. The show originally aired on Fox from 2003-2006 and is returning for a fourth season with its original cast members -- including Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Will Arnett and David Cross.

The report notes: “There’s also been talk of making an ‘Arrested Development’ movie for the big screen, which would begin production after the current season finishes its run on Netflix -- and, like the series, would feature all of the show’s stars reprising their roles.”

The series won six Emmy Awards during its original run on Fox.

more »

Kim Kardashian Pregnant -- Will Baby Bump Translate to Ratings Bump?

Kim Kardashian is expecting a baby with her boyfriend, Kanye West, reports People.com. West announced the news at a concert Sunday night, and Kardashian confirmed the news in a blog post.

Kardashian wrote: "It’s true!! Kanye and I are expecting a baby. We feel so blessed and lucky and wish that in addition to both of our families, his mom and my dad could be here to celebrate this special time with us."

The baby will appear on E!, with network President Suzanne Kolb telling The Hollywood Reporter that the cable channel is looking "forward to sharing the joy as they prepare for more diapers, more bottle and, without a doubt, more fabulous baby wear."

It's likely that the latest season of "Kourtney & Kim Take Miami," which premieres Jan. 20, will see a ratings bump, the story notes.

THR adds: "The season seven finale of the mothership series 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians' on Nov. 16 saw the birth of Kourtney Kardashian’s second child with Scott Disick and earned 3.6 million viewers, making it one of the top 25 broadcasts in network history."

Kim Kardashian's divorce from Kris Humphries is still pending, People.com notes. She went public with her relationship with West about six months after she filed for divorce from Humphries.

kim-kardashian.jpgKim Kardashian

more »

Tribune Emerges From Bankruptcy, Will Focus on TV

Tribune Co., which emerged from bankruptcy on Monday with new owners and board of directors, is expected to focus on television but may eventually become a smaller company, reports the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog.

The new Tribune's board will look at its assets to decide whether they should be sold or retained, the story notes. Many analysts believe that the eight newspapers owned by Tribune -- including the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune -- will be sold.

The priorities of the new owners are said to be rejuvenating the television stations and improving programming on WGN, the piece notes. The stations had been hurt by a bad economy, but also suffered from Tribune's financial issues and management changes at the stations, according to the story.

The company is expected to keep its 30% stake in Food Network. Peter Liguori, a former Fox and Discovery Communications executive who is expected to become CEO later this month, will work to boost ratings for WGN-TV, potentially rebranding the station.

more »

Photographer Killed While Taking Shots of Justin Bieber's Ferrari

A photographer was killed Tuesday evening while taking photos of Justin Bieber's Ferrari, the Los Angeles Times reports. The singer wasn't in the car at the time, according to the report.

No arrests have been made in the incident that killed the 29-year old man, the story notes. A friend of Bieber's was driving the car when it was pulled over by the California Highway Patrol for a traffic stop on Sepulveda Boulevard near the Getty Center.

The photographer got out of his car and crossed the road to take photos, and was hit by another car as he walked back to his own car, the piece reports. A friend of the man said he wasn't a professional photographer, according to the report.

more »

PAST ARTICLES

TVBizwire | January 31, 2013

CNN Acquires Nonfiction Series From Ridley Scott

TVBizwire | January 31, 2013

Veteran TV Director in Hot Demand This Pilot Season -- His Resume Includes 'Cheers,' 'Friends,' 'Frasier' ... the List Goes On

TVBizwire | January 31, 2013

MTV Names New Head of Scripted Programming

TVBizwire | January 31, 2013

Comedy Central Renews Series

TVBizwire | January 31, 2013

Freshman Talk Show Renewed for Second Season

TVBizwire | January 31, 2013

Fox Closes In on Animated Project From Rapper 50 Cent

TVBizwire | January 31, 2013

Animal Planet Orders Shows Focused on People With Animal-Related Jobs

TVBizwire | January 31, 2013

Jon Favreau to Direct NBC Pilot

TVBizwire | January 31, 2013

TLC Getting Back in Business With 'Cake Boss' Buddy Valastro

TVBizwire | January 31, 2013

ABC Orders Project From 'Mike & Molly' Producer

TVBizwire | January 30, 2013

He Couldn't Resist: Oscar Winner and Two-Time Golden Globe Winner to Host 'SNL' for First Time

TVBizwire | January 30, 2013

Taps for the Boogie Woogie Bugle Girl: Last Living Sister of the Best-Selling Female Group in Pop Music History Dies

TVBizwire | January 30, 2013

CBS Confirms Plans to Wrap 'How I Met Your Mother' -- Including the Big Reveal, Finally

TVBizwire | January 30, 2013

One of the Best-Kept Trivia Secrets in Show Biz Is Revealed: Whose Leg Is It on the Poster for 'The Graduate'?

TVBizwire | January 30, 2013

Tough Night for NBC as Two Series Sink to Season Lows -- Again

TVBizwire | January 30, 2013

Conflict Over HBO's 'Newsroom' Makes Aaron Sorkin Disappear From 'Houdini' Project

TVBizwire | January 30, 2013

British Period Drama Gets Another Season

TVBizwire | January 30, 2013

ABC Greenlights 'Bet on Your Baby'

TVBizwire | January 30, 2013

Producers Guild Honors the Year's Best Work in Film, TV

TVBizwire | January 30, 2013

More CNN Departures: On-Air Fixtures Leave Network