February 2013

Explanation of Why Santa Barbara TV Anchor Went Missing for Eight Hours on Wednesday Raises More Questions Than Answers

"[Santa Barbara, Calif., TV station] KEYT anchorwoman Paula Lopez, 48, showed up at her home about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday evening under circumstances nearly as mysterious as those under which she disappeared," reports the Santa Barbara Independent.

Lopez' family issued a statement to KEYT, the article adds, that said, "As a family we were very alarmed because Paula was experiencing a medical condition that caused her to be unable to communicate with us. She is now receiving the appropriate medical care and we hope and expect that her treatment will enable her to recover quickly."

The family has not disclosed the nature of Lopez' medical condition. 

The article notes that "KEYT and the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department released statements yesterday that Lopez had been reported missing at 10 a.m. after having spoken to family members half an hour earlier. The nature of the communication --and the identity of the parties involved -- were not disclosed, but the contents apparently were sufficiently dire for the Sheriff's Department to dispatch a helicopter and two K-9 units to track her down. Although the helicopter, in the air for 90 minutes, was seen by nearly everyone on the South Coast as it swept overhead, it apparently did not spot Lopez."

The story continues, "Lopez, a ninth generation Santa Barbaran and a mainstay of the local media world, has let it be known that her days at KEYT -- which was recently acquired by new owners -- are numbered. Lopez is also married to Judge Frank Ochoa -- now a leading contender to be appointed to the Court of Appeal -- who reportedly left the bench yesterday at 11 a.m." Lopez anchors the 6:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts on the station.

The article adds, "Sheriff's spokesperson Kelly Hoover denied that Lopez and Ochoa were afforded any special considerations because of their status. She said that such searches are called for when authorities have reason to believe the missing person is at risk. In this case, Hoover said the department had reason to be concerned that Lopez might need medical attention."

Furthermore, according to the article, Hoover said "the [Sheriff's] Department was notified by the family that Lopez had returned and that they dispatched deputies to the scene to confirm. When asked whether the deputies determined whether Lopez did or did not need medical attention, Hoover said she was not at liberty to answer any question relating to medical conditions."

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Viewers Flock to 'Duck Dynasty' -- Did Morrissey's 'Kimmel' Protest Help the Show?

A&E’s hit reality show “Duck Dynasty” appears to be the winner in a much-publicized clash between the show’s cast members and rock singer Morrissey. James Hibberd reports on EW.com that the series returned Wednesday night to record ratings, with its third-season premiere bringing in 8.6 million viewers.

The premiere comes amid a flurry of publicity for the show surrounding Morrissey’s decision to back out of an appearance this week on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” The British singer, an outspoken animal rights advocate, canceled the appearance in a protest against the show’s other guests, the “Duck Dynasty” cast, calling them “animal serial killers.”

As we reported earlier today, Kimmel responded by joining with the “Duck Dynasty” folks to make a video mocking Morrissey’s position. Click here to see the video.

Hibberd writes of the premiere: “It’s not only the most-watched ‘Duck Dynasty’ episode ever, it’s A&E’s most-watched telecast ever and ranks as cable’s biggest reality show telecast so far this year. The 10 p.m. episode (the first of two back-to-back airings) was up 132 percent vs. the second season premiere. Plus, ‘Dynasty’ had a 4.0 rating among adults 18-49 -- basically tying Fox’s ‘American Idol’ and ABC’s ‘Modern Family.’”

Morrissey has responded to Kimmel. Hibberd’s piece quotes Morrissey saying Kimmel “found time to jokingly promote gun-ownership -- hugely amusing for the parents at Sandy Hook, no doubt. He also promoted his special guests ‘Duck Dynasty’ -- who kill beings for fun. None of the above issues are, of course, as important as Jimmy Kimmel himself, who has finally revealed his show to have an overwhelming loss of meaning. Tune in and relive the intellectual fog of the 1950s.”

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Reporter Caught in Cabin Shootout Hired by CBS News

CBS News has hired a new correspondent, giving the job to a former freelancer who gained attention a few weeks ago when he became caught in a shootout in Southern California between police and fugitive ex-cop Christopher Dorner, TVNewser.com reports.

Carter Evans was working as a freelance reporter for CBS News and L.A. station KCBS-TV when he was covering the manhunt for Dorner and wound up being the only reporter at the shootout. The network announced that it is bringing him on board full time.

In an email to staffers, CBS News President David Rhodes wrote: “By now the world knows about Carter’s recent coup on the Christopher Dorner story. With producer Chris Weicher and cameraman Javier Gomez, Carter was the only reporter on the scene near Big Bear Lake when authorities closed in on Dorner after a tense manhunt. He continues to work the story today.”

Evans has been a correspondent for CNN, and is married to Courtney Friel, a former Fox News and Los Angeles station KTTV.

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Carter Evans

Here’s a clip containing audio of Evans’ involvement in the firefight earlier this month:

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Ratings Struggle Continues for 'American Idol' as Wednesday's Show Hits a 10-Year Low

Fox’s flagship singing competition “American Idol” continued to suffer viewer erosion Wednesday night, based on Nielsen overnights. But the network still easily beat its broadcast competition.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that Fox coasted to a comfortable win in the key 18-49 demo despite “Idol’s” 3.8 average rating -- the show’s lowest number in the demo for a Wednesday night installment since July 3, 2003. The show’s average of 13.15 million total viewers was reportedly its lowest since Aug. 14, 2002.

Fox still came in well ahead of the competition, with its 3.8 average rating in viewers 18-49 for prime time overall outdistancing CBS (2.4 average), ABC (2.2), Univision (1.7) and NBC (1.6). Things were a little tighter in total viewers, but Fox led the way with 13.15 million to CBS’s 9.8 million, ABC’s 6.9 million, NBC’s 5.2 million and Univision’s 4.0 million.

Second-place CBS had mixed results, with the headline being a series low for “CSI.” Its 1.8 average in 18-49 was way down from last week’s 2.3. Meanwhile, “Survivor: Caramoan” ticked up two-tenths to a 2.6, while “Criminal Minds” held steady and also produced a 2.6.

ABC’s “Modern Family” was the top-rated show of the night in the 18-49 demo -- just ahead of “Idol” -- with a 3.9 average, slipping one-tenth from a week ago. “Nashville” fell to a series low with a 1.6, off two-tenths from its previous original episode. “The Middle” (2.1 average) and “The Neighbors” (1.7) both fell two-tenths from last week, but “Suburgatory” broke the trend by climbing three-tenths to a 2.3.

NBC’s best performance came from “Chicago Fire,” which won the 10 p.m. hour with a 1.9 in viewers 18-49 -- even with a week ago. “Law & Order: SVU” also held steady, delivering a 1.6, while “Whitney” rose one-tenth to a 1.2. “Guys With Kids” rebounded a bit from last week’s series low, adding one-tenth to average a 1.1.

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'The Office' Actress Gets Lead in Fox Project

An actress known for her role on NBC’s “The Office” will play the female lead in a new Fox comedy, Deadline.com reports. Angela Kinsey will play opposite Rob Riggle in the pilot “The Gabriels.”

The project is about an antisocial family that tries to act normal and make friends for their kids' sake, the story notes. Kinsey will play the mom, Gail Gabriel, while Riggle will play her husband, Ken.

Tim Meadows is on board as a school principal. The project is written by Andrew Gurland and Justin Hurwitz and directed by Jason Winer, the report notes.

angela-kinsey.jpgAngela Kinsey

 

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Longtime TV Exec to Head AOL Brands

AOL has named a veteran media executive to head up its portfolio of brands, including TechCrunch and Mapquest. Reuters reports that the company appointed board director Susan Lyne to the post.

Lyne is vice chairman of Gilt.com, an online flash sale site for clothing, but her roots are in TV. She was formerly CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and president of ABC Entertainment.

She will vacate her position on AOL’s board to take on the title of CEO of AOL’s Brand Group, overseeing advertising and publisher relationships with an eye toward growing traffic, the story reports.

“Arianna Huffington, whose Huffington Post website falls under the Brand Group, will continue to report to AOL Chief Executive Tim Armstrong,” the report notes.

The piece adds: “In a statement, AOL said its Chief Operating Officer Arthur Minson, who is responsible for all AOL's business units -- the Brand Group, AOL Networks and Membership Group -- ‘will stay with the company for a transition period.’"

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Susan Lyne

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Western Hero of TV Shows and Movies Dead at 89

An actor who became famous as a Western hero on the big screen and, especially, in TV series has died. The New York Times reports that Dale Robertson died Wednesday at 89.

Robertson, a skilled rider who grew up in Oklahoma, went on to appear in more than 430 television episodes and 60 films, the story reports. He died of complications from lung cancer and pneumonia.

Robertson starred in TV Westerns such as the NBC/ABC series "Tales of Wells Fargo," which ran from 1957 to 1962, and ABC’s "Iron Horse," which aired from 1966 to 1968. He hosted the long-running “Death Valley Days” for a period of time in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

He also appeared in early episodes of "Dynasty" in 1981, playing an oil wildcatter, and had a recurring role on "Dallas" the following year.

Robertson's many film roles included "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" (1952), "City of Bad Men" (1953), "Sitting Bull" (1954), "Dakota Incident" (1956), "Hell Canyon Outlaws" (1957), “Law of the Lawless” (1964), "Blood on the Arrow" (1964), “The Man From Button Willow” (1965) and “One Eyed Soldiers” (1966).

Robertson preferred to describe himself as a personality with a distinctive style, rather than an actor, the story adds.

"An actor can change himself to fit a part, whereas a personality has to change the part to fit himself,” he said in a 1988 interview.

Dale-Robertson2.jpgDale Robertson

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Shakeup Behind the Scenes on 'The Walking Dead'

AMC confirmed that it has replaced the showrunner on its hit series "The Walking Dead," marking the third showrunner for the series in its first four seasons, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

The new showrunner for the upcoming fourth season is Scott M. Gimple, who has been on the program's writing staff since the second season. He replaces Glen Mazzara, who replaced Frank Darabont after he left early in the second season, the story notes.

Robert Kirkman, who created the graphic novel that's the basis for the show and who is also an executive producer, said, "Scott has been an essential part of this show since he came aboard at the very beginning of season two. He's contributed to guiding this show in a substantial way that has resulted in a lot of the key scenes and storylines fans have dubbed signature moments of 'The Walking Dead.'"

Production on the fourth season will start May 6, with the first of the season’s 16 episodes to debut in October.

“Despite the turnover, fervor for the zombie drama has not died down,” the Times report notes. “Its midseason finale in December brought in more than 10.5 million viewers. And its return earlier this month brought in 12.3 million viewers.”

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Video: Jimmy Kimmel and the 'Duck Dynasty' Gang Fire Back at Morrissey Over 'Animal Serial Killer' Snub

Jimmy Kimmel fired back at singer Morrissey, who refused to come on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" this week in a protest over the talk show's other guests, the stars of the reality series "Duck Dynasty," reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

As previously reported, Morrissey said his reputation couldn't "take the risk of being on a show alongside people who, in effect, amount to animal serial killers." A&E's "Duck Dynasty" features a family that makes duck calls and other gear for hunters.

Kimmel responded on Tueday's show, joking that Morrissey “keeps finding new ways to depress us” and telling the singer he should make his "dumb statements" on the show. He also ran a mock video that featured the "Duck Dynasty" cast advertising gadgets aimed at vegans, the story adds.

Here’s the clip from Kimmel’s show:

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No. 2 Court Show May Lose Its Judge in Contract Beef

The second-highest-rated syndicated court show may have to replace its star because of a hassle over the judge’s salary. B&C reports that talks between CBS Television Distribution and Joe Brown, the star of “Judge Joe Brown,” remain unresolved, even with the high-rated series renewed on stations through the 2014-15 season.

“In the face of declining ratings, license fees and advertising revenues, CTD has told Brown that his salary -- which once was reported to be as high as $20 million annually -- will be significantly cut,” the story reports. “Brown hasn't re-upped to do the show under the new terms for next fall, and is shopping it to other distributors, according to sources.”

CTD has reportedly been talking to stations about placing a different judge in the chair after the show’s current season raps production next month. “Some syndicators noted that they've been getting calls from members of Brown's crew, looking for new jobs,” the piece adds.

“Among the distributors that Brown is considering is Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios, with whom sources say Brown is in ‘advanced conversations to produce new episodes of the show for fall,’" B&C reports. “Entertainment Studios declined to comment. Brown could not be reached at press time via calls to ‘Judge Joe Brown's’ production office at Sunset-Bronson Studios.

The report adds: “Whether station groups will be willing to keep the show on the air with another judge in Brown's place hasn't been decided yet, but some station executives who requested anonymity told B&C they were less than happy to be learning about this situation at the end of February when their options for replacing the show are limited.”

Brown may benefit from re-upping with CTD, even at a reduced salary, the piece notes.

“Several syndication stars have had to take salary cuts in recent years in the face of a fragmented daytime TV environment, and even ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ faced license-fee cuts by the time it went off the air in 2011,” B&C reports. “In many markets, ‘Judge Joe Brown’ is paired with CTD's ‘Judge Judy,’ by far syndication's number-one court show. ‘Judy’ still brings in massive ratings, recently surpassing an 8.0, and often ranks as daytime's highest-rated show. When ‘Joe’ -- or any court show -- is paired with ‘Judy,’ it typically gets a ratings bump.”

Numbers for “Judge Joe Brown” have been slipping for a few years, part of a general trend among syndicated programs, the report notes.

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'Major Announcement' Coming From Regis Philbin -- Is This the 'World's Worst-Kept Secret?

Regis Philbin is touting a "major announcement" that is thought to be about News Corp.’s yet-unannounced plan to transform its Speed channel into a national sports network called Fox Sports 1, reports Deadline.com.

The announcement is expected next Tuesday, March 5. News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey has called the company’s plans for Speed the “world’s worst-kept secret,” the piece notes.

Philbin has reportedly been negotiating to lead a panel on the network -- a format similar to "The View" with Barbara Walters, but on a show that would focus on sports.

As we reported earlier this month, News Corp. appears to be positioning the new network as a challenger to ESPN.

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Lawmakers Issue Protest to Motion Picture Academy Over Seth MacFarlane's Oscars Performance

Seth MacFarlane’s performance Sunday as host of the Academy Awards rubbed a number of people the wrong way, and two state lawmakers have now condemned it in a letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

AP reports that California Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal and state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, both Democrats who lead the Legislature's women's caucus, called MacFarlane's performance degrading to women and asked the academy to use better judgment in the future.

In a letter sent to academy President Hawk Koch, the lawmakers wrote: “There was a disturbing theme about violence against women being acceptable and funny. From topical jabs about domestic violence to singing about 'boobs' during a film's rape scene, Seth MacFarlane crossed the line from humor to misogyny."

Others have also criticized MacFarlane's approach, which included a song about looking at actresses' breasts and a joke about a domestic violence episode between rapper Chris Brown and singer Rihanna.

The letter requests that the academy disavow MacFarlane’s behavior, the piece notes. The letter adds: "On Oscar night, when Hollywood seeks to honor its best, Seth MacFarlane's monologue reduced our finest female actresses to caricatures and stereotypes, degrading women as a whole and the filmmaking industry itself.”

An academy spokeswoman had no immediate comment, the story notes.

MacFarlane, whose performance also provoked an accusation of anti-Semitism from the Anti-Defamation League, has already indicated he doesn’t want to host the ceremony again, as we reported earlier this week.

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Ricky Gervais Bringing Back Beloved TV Character After 10-Year Absence

Ricky Gervais is dusting off a character who was a fan favorite but disappeared -- almost -- about 10 years ago. Deadline.com reports that Gervais will bring back his David Brent character from the original British version of "The Office."

Brent made a brief appearance in one of Steve Carell's last episodes of NBC’s "The Office," but otherwise hasn't been on air in a decade, the story says.

Gervais will revive the character for the charity telethon Comic Relief. He wrote on his blog, "I thought it was time to revisit my most famous comedy creation to find out what he’s been up to for the last decade and most importantly what he’s up to now.”

A mini-episode called "The Office Revisited" will show Brent selling cleaning products, but also managing acts and living vicariously through a performer called Dom Johnson, the story says.

The Deadline report adds: “According to Gervais, ‘Fans of “The Office” will be excited to know we finally get to hear the whole of “The Serpent Who Guards the Gates of Hell” and an amazingly cringeworthy, self-funded video, “Equality Street.” Horrendous.’”

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CW 'Writing Off' Low-Rated New Series

The CW is "writing off" a low-rated midseason series after just two airings, Deadline.com reports. The network is moving the drama “Cult” to Fridays from its current Tuesday spot, the story reports.

"Cult," which will air at 9 p.m. on Fridays starting next week, debuted with only a 0.3 rating among adults 18 to 49, and matched that number this week.

"Still, the project went further than the conventional Hollywood wisdom would suggest,” the report adds. “Sci-fi veteran Rockne S. O’Bannon wrote it for the 2005-06 development season when it landed a pilot order at the WB but the project became a casualty of the UPN/WB merger and the pilot was never produced. Six years later, O’Bannon’s updated 'Cult' script got another pilot order at the CW, got made and went to a series, albeit short-lived."

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NBC Offers Job to Kiefer Sutherland -- Does This Mean Fox's 'Touch' Is Dead?

NBC has offered Kiefer Sutherland a starring role in a new project, raising questions about the future of Fox's "Touch," a drama that stars the actor, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Sutherland has been offered a role on "The Black List," about the world's most wanted criminal, who turns himself in on the condition he will work with a new FBI agent to catch all the criminals he has worked with, the story reports.

While the offer to play the lead role of the criminal is in second position, Fox probably isn't pleased with the performance of "Touch," the article points out. The drama is averaging 2.7 million viewers in its Friday time slot, and earned only a 0.7 rating in adults 18 to 49 last week, the piece notes.

Fox will probably make a decision about the fate of "Touch" as the May upfront presentations draw closer, the report adds.

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Univision Is Bragging -- in English -- About Beating NBC in the Sweeps (Here's the Video)

Univision isn't keeping quiet about its fourth-place finish -- ahead of NBC -- in the February sweeps. Deadline.com reports that the Spanish-language broadcaster is running a new English-language ad boasting that Univision "now beats NBC."

The February sweeps period marks the first time the Spanish-language broadcaster has come in fourth in an in-season sweeps, although Univision did previously beat CBS in July 2010 and July 2012, as previously reported.

The period also marked the first-ever fifth-place finish for NBC -- a sharp turnaround after the Peacock Network just a few months ago won its first November sweeps since 2003.

Here’s the Univision spot:

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FX Renews Series

FX has renewed a popular animated comedy series that has been especially successful in attracting young male viewers. EW.com's Inside TV reports that “Archer” will return for a fifth season.

The show’s fourth season wraps up April 11. The show this year is ranked as the No. 2 cable series among men 18 to 34 years old, trailing "The Walking Dead," the story adds.

The show has been averaging 2.37 million total viewers and 2.01 million adults 18-49, the report notes.

archer.jpgFX's "Archer"

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Star of 1990s Cult Series Urges Fans to Voice Support for a Movie Version

The star of a 1990s TV drama series that became a cultural phenomenon and attracted an avid cult following is urging fans to voice their support for a feature film based on the series.

David Duchovny encouraged fans of the sci-fi drama "The X-Files" to write to Fox in support of a third movie, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Duchovny, who appeared on "The Tonight Show," said fans should send letters to Fox to "get 'em going." He added, "I'll play Fox Mulder forever."

The series aired on Fox from 1993-2002, and led to two movies. The first, “The X-Files,” released in 1998, grossed about $189 million worldwide at the box office, but the second, the 2008 release “The X-Files: I Want to Believe,” earned only $68 million, the story adds.

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After Day-Long 'Massive' Police Search, Missing Santa Barbara TV Anchorwoman Comes Home. Questions Remain. Did Police Search Too Early? And Why Won't Anchorwoman Say Where She Was All Day?

Here's a strange one out of Santa Barbara, Calif., which is about 95 miles up the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles.

The Santa Barbara Independent is reporting that Paula Lopez, 48, who is the popular TV anchor of the 6:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts on Santa Barbara's KEYT-TV, "returns home eight hours after disappearing and prompting [a] massive search."

The Independent adds that at about 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, "Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Kelly Hoover just released more information on Lopez’s disappearance.

"Just after 10 a.m., Hoover said, authorities received a call from concerned family members. They said the last time they had talked to Lopez was at 9:30 a.m. and that her last known location was her home. ...

"Deputies, assisted by a helicopter and two K-9 units, have been searching the area throughout the day. So has the county’s Search and Rescue team.

"Lopez ... was last seen wearing a black sweat suit and tennis shoes. 'If you see her or have any information on her whereabouts you are asked to call the Santa Barbara County Detectives Bureau at 681-4150,' said Hoover."

About an hour earlier, at 4 p.m., KEYT station general manager Mark Danielson released this statement on KEYT’s website:, according to the Independent report: “This morning we learned that a beloved member of the KEYT family, Paula Lopez, has gone missing. We have been in touch with her family and know they, as well as local authorities, are doing everything possible to find her safe and sound. It is clearly a difficult time for her family and our own family at KEYT. All of us at KEYT stand ready to assist in any way we can. For now, on behalf of KEYT... our thoughts and prayers are extended to Paula as well as her family and those searching to find her. We hope for her safe and speedy return.”

At 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times posted a story with this headline: "Family declines to say how TV anchor Paula Lopez went missing."

The L.A. Times story says, "The family of Santa Barbara TV news anchor Paula Lopez, who was reported missing but was later found, said Wednesday night that they were not elaborating on how she returned home.

"Lopez, 48, who anchors for KEYT-TV Channel 3, had 'gone missing' Wednesday about 10:30 a.m., the news station said in a statement. Lopez is a longtime fixture in the community and is married to a Superior Court judge.

"Her family alerted the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office that she was gone, triggering a response by deputies who used search dogs as they scoured the area. The rapid response raised questions about whether the family received favorable treatment. Often, law enforcement authorities wait 24 hours before declaring a person missing and launching search efforts."

The L.A. Times story continued, "News footage showed Lopez’s husband, [Judge] Frank Ochoa, arriving at the home Wednesday night in his gray Lexus with what appeared to be a woman in the passenger’s seat. The family contacted the Sheriff's Office on Wednesday about 5:30 p.m. to say that Lopez was safe at home, KEYT-TV said on its website.

“'Paula has been located,' a spokesman for the family told reporters gathered outside the home Wednesday night. 'We’re not giving out any details right now.'"

It was not known whether it was one of the sheriff's deputies who actually found Lopez.

The Associated Press version of the story added that Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office spokesperson Hoover "declined to comment on the reasons surrounding Lopez' disappearance, citing a private family matter."

The AP story also noted that at one time Lopez "worked at KCAL-9 in Los Angeles for six years, according to her online biography."

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Paula Lopez

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ABC Show Sinks to All-Time Low; New CBS Series Premieres to OK Numbers

CBS coasted to an easy ratings win over its broadcast rivals Tuesday night, even with a lukewarm premiere for its new series “Golden Boy,” based on Nielsen overnights.

ABC, meanwhile, took its turn among the broadcast networks watching their shows sink to all-time lows, as “The Taste” was the latest to receive that unwelcome news.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that CBS’s “Golden Boy” debuted to a 1.8 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, easily topping its competition in the 10 p.m. hour. The number improved on the 1.5 delivered by “Vegas” in the same time slot last week.

The rest of the CBS lineup was mixed, with “NCIS” dipping one-tenth of a ratings point from last week to a 3.4 in viewers 18-49 -- still the top-rated show of the night -- while “NCIS: Los Angeles” ticked up two-tenths to a 2.9.

CBS won big in the overall prime-time ratings, averaging a 2.7 for the night in 18-49, well ahead of Fox (1.7 average), ABC (1.7), Univision (1.5) and NBC (1.1). The margin was even greater in total viewers, with CBS way out front with 15.9 million to ABC’s 5.8 million, Univision’s 3.8 million, Fox’s 3.6 million and NBC’s 3.4 million.

The highest-rated non-CBS show on the night was the season premiere of ABC’s “Celebrity Wife Swap” with a 2.4 average in adults 18-49, ticking up one-tenth from last year’s premiere. ABC’s “The Taste” slid to a series-low 1.4, losing two-tenths from last week’s number. “Body of Proof” equaled the 1.2 it had a week ago.

Fox’s strongest show was “New Girl,” which rose one-tenth in the 18-49 demo to a 2.3. Back-to-back episodes of “Raising Hope” settled for a 1.5 and a 1.4, and “The Mindy Project” held steady with a 1.6.

NBC was paced by two episodes of “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers,” with both installments delivering 1.3 averages in 18-49 -- even with last week for the 8 p.m. episode and down one-tenth at 8:30. Numbers eroded as the evening wore on, with “Go On” pulling a 1.1 (even with last week), “The New Normal” drawing a 1.0 (up one-tenth from last week) and “Smash” managing a 0.9 (even with last week’s series low).

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One of the World's Most Famous Pianists Dies -- Musician Was Also a Cold War Warrior

One of the leading musicians of the 20th century -- who played an unusual role in U.S.-Soviet relations during the Cold War -- has died. The Los Angeles Times reports that piano master Van Cliburn, who was 78, died today, Feb. 27, 2013, of bone cancer at his home in Fort Worth, Texas.

Cliburn, who had been a child prodigy, remained relatively unknown outside music circles until he gained instant fame by winning an international music competition in Moscow in 1958. Cold War tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union were high at the time, six months after the Soviets had launched the first Sputnik satellite.

Cliburn’s win at age 23 represented a triumph for the U.S. in the Cold War.

“Competing against 49 other pianists from 19 countries at the first Tchaikovsky International Piano and Violin Festival, the technically brilliant Cliburn created a sensation with the romantic sweep of his playing in the first two rounds of the competition,” the Times reports. “By the time he came on stage to play in the final round, ‘the crowd had become nearly hysterical,’ Chicago Tribune arts critic Howard Reich wrote in ‘Van Cliburn,’ his 1993 biography. ‘Roughly 1,500 people had jammed the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory; thousands more waited outside.’

“Instantaneous ovations greeted Cliburn's playing of Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto, Reich wrote, and his performance of a new solo piece required of all finalists, a rondo by Soviet composer and contest judge Dmitry Kabalevsky, earned him a standing ovation.”

The Times report continues: “But when Cliburn finished Rachmaninoff's technically difficult Third Piano Concerto, the audience erupted into a thunderous standing ovation that continued after he left the stage. Then, the jury stood and joined in. Two judges even jumped up and hugged each other.”

The Soviet and Soviet bloc judges -- who held the deciding votes -- were reluctant to award the victory to an American and, according to Reich's book, that question was taken by the Soviet minister of culture to the man at the top -- Nikita Khrushchev, who was chairman of the Council of Ministers.

The conversation is retold this way:

"What do the professionals say about him? Is he the best?" Khrushchev asked.

"Yes, he is the best," the minister of culture replied.

"In this case, give him the first prize," Khrushchev said.

The Times adds: “Trumpeted on the cover of Time magazine as ‘The Texan Who Conquered Russia,’ the lanky, 6-foot-4 Cliburn was given a hero's welcome in New York City with what was a first for a classical musician: a ticker-tape parade.”

Commenting on Cliburn’s win in the Soviet Union on the heels of the Sputnik launch, Reich said: "They had beat us in space, and we beat them in their own backyard, in culture of all things."

Here's a clip of Cliburn playing Tchaikovsky, said to be from his 1958 performance in Moscow:

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AMC Moving Ahead With Drama Starring 'Pushing Daisies' Alum

AMC has a drama project in the works that will star an actor known for his work in “Pushing Daisies.” TVLine.com reports that Lee Pace will topline the pilot “Halt & Catch Fire,” from “Breaking Bad” exec producer Mark Johnson.

“Set in the early 1980s, ‘Halt & Catch Fire’ chronicles the personal computing boom through the eyes of a visionary, an engineer and a prodigy whose innovations directly confront the corporate behemoths of the time,” the story reports. “Their personal and professional partnership will be challenged by greed and ego while charting the changing culture in Texas’ Silicon Prairie.”

The script was written by Chris Cantwell and Chris Rogers, who will executive produce along with Johnson and Melissa Bernstein.

“Pace will play the confident and powerful Joe, the smartest guy in the room who is two steps ahead of both his allies and his enemies,” the report adds. “Once a superstar salesman at IBM, Joe recently departed under mysterious circumstances only to resurface at a Dallas tech company called Cardiff Giant. It’s here that he demonstrates an ability to masterfully seize control, even as his demons continuously threaten to rear up at the most inopportune times.”

Mackenzie Davis is also on board as a co-star.

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ABC News Names On-Air Analyst as New Political Director

ABC News has named a new political director, expanding the role of an “ABC World News” fixture, B&C reports. The promotion of “World News” senior Washington editor Rick Klein comes amid a flurry of hiring moves for the network’s news operation, including the hirings this week of Jeff Zeleny and Susan Saulny from The New York Times.

In a memo today to staffers, ABC News President Ben Sherwood said: "Rick's sharp instincts and penetrating insights played a critical role throughout the 2012 election cycle, helping guide ‘World News’ reporting on campaigns and political battles in Washington."

Klein will oversee the news division’s political unit and will be involved in digital platforms and in helping to guide coverage of major news events on multiple platforms, the story notes.

B&C adds: “Klein had been senior Washington editor for ‘World News with Diane Sawyer’ and an on-air political analyst. He also co-hosts the daily webcast ‘Top Line.’ From 2007-10 Klein wrote ‘The Note,’ the political blog on ABCNews.com. He joined the network in 2007 from The Boston Globe.”

Klein is replacing Amy Walter, who left the job in December.

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Rick Klein

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USA Greenlights Series From 'Big Brother' Producers

USA Network continues to push into reality TV, greenlighting a new series from the producers of “Big Brother.” The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the cable channel ordered eight episodes of “Summer Camp,” from “Big Brother’s” Allison Grodner and Rich Meehan.

The show will join a USA reality slate that includes “The Moment,” “The Choir” and “Partners in Crime.”

“Summer Camp” comes from Fly on the Wall Entertainment and Sony TV, and is set to bow this summer.

The series “sends die-hard campers back to the most cherished place of their youth for the thrill of a lifetime,” the story reports. “Viewers will meet 16 adults from all walks of life, including a fanatic hunter, a former nerd-turned-supermodel and a vegan yoga instructor. Campers will compete in over-the-top competitions inspired by classic camp games, and at the end of the summer, those remaining will face off in the Olympic-style ‘Campathalon.’"

Said Heather Olander, senior VP of alternative programming for USA: “This series marries a fun, energizing and nostalgic concept with quirky characters, who will captivate our viewers, as they attempt to reclaim -- or perhaps reinvent -- their youth. Our audience will be transported back to some of their best summer moments. We are excited to chronicle this adventure with Fly on the Wall Entertainment, one of the leading storytellers in this genre.”

NBC -- part of USA’s corporate family -- has the similarly themed scripted show “Camp” lined up for summer, with Rachel Griffiths starring, the piece notes.

Grodner and Meehan continue to oversee CBS’s “Big Brother,” which has its 15th season on tap for this summer.

The report adds: “In April, USA will debut the Kurt Warner-hosted ‘The Moment,’ and the network recently shot the pilot for ‘Bride or Best Man’ (working title), highlighting a trip down the aisle, with a second in production, ‘All In’ (working title).”

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CBS Is About to Do Something It Hasn't Done in 15 Years

CBS is about to notch a milestone it hasn’t achieved in 15 years. Writing in The New York Times' Media Decoder, Bill Carter reports the network will not only win the February sweeps ratings period in total viewers, but also come in No. 1 among viewers 18 to 49, marking the first time CBS will win the period in the key demo since 1998.

Carter writes: "CBS’s traditional strength is among older viewers, but this month the numbers in the 18-to-49 category fell decidedly in its favor. With just two nights left to be counted, CBS is averaging a 4.3 rating in that group, far ahead of ABC, which is second with a 2.2 rating. Fox is now third, with a 2 rating. That is an unusual place for that network because for a decade it has ridden high in February on the strength of 'American Idol.'"

NBC is trailing all of its broadcast rivals, including Spanish-language network Univision, the piece adds. Its 19-49 average is 1.2, the worst ever for a major broadcast network and behind Univision’s 1.5.

CBS’s results are helped by the Super Bowl and the Grammy Awards, along with strong numbers for its regular lineup.

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Popular Singer Pulls Out of 'Kimmel' Appearance, Refuses to Share Stage With 'Animal Serial Killers'

A well-known singer pulled the plug on a scheduled appearance Tuesday on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” refusing to appear on the same show with cast members from the A&E reality show "Duck Dynasty," reports The New York Times' ArtsBeat.

Morrissey, the former leader of the Smiths and a singer known for his animal rights activism, labeled the “Duck” folks "animal serial killers," the piece notes.

Morrissey, whose band created the 1985 hit album "Meat Is Murder," said his reputation couldn't "take the risk of being on a show alongside people who, in effect, amount to animal serial killers." He added, "If Jimmy cannot dump ‘Duck Dynasty,’ then we must step away.”

The story notes: "His views on killing ducks for sport are pretty far from the bushy-bearded duck-hunting gang on ‘Duck Dynasty,’ who manufacture calls and other gear for hunters."

Kimmel's show replaced Morrissey with the band Churchill, the story adds.

The report adds: “The performance was to have been Morrissey’s first since last month, when he canceled several concerts after being diagnosed with a bleeding ulcer. He is now scheduled to resume touring on Wednesday in San Diego before returning to Los Angeles for a show at the Staples Center.”

The story notes that Staples Center refused a request by Morrissey to serve only vegetarian dishes at his concert, but agreed to add some vegetarian options at its restaurants.

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Tina Fey Leaves No Doubt How She Feels About the Prospect of Hosting the Oscars

On Sunday's Academy Awards, William Shatner bemoaned the fact that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler weren't hosting the show. But Fey, who with Poehler received favorable reviews for hosting the Golden Globes, said she's not interested in the job, reports The Huffington Post.

"No way," Fey told the publication. "I just feel like that gig is so hard. Especially for, like, a woman -- the amount of months that would be spent trying on dresses alone …"

Told that it was disappointing to hear "no way" and asked whether there might be a remote chance she would host, Fey said, "I wish I could tell you there was."

Fey did admit she was proud to have her name mentioned by Shatner at the Oscars ceremony, saying, “It’s an honor to be ‘Shatnered.’”

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How 'Must See TV' Devolved Into 'Must Flee TV' on NBC Thursday Nights

NBC's once-proud Thursday lineup has crumbled, with ratings for the evening plummeting after a series of missteps such as scheduling "Rock Center with Brian Williams" in the marquee 10 p.m. time slot, reports Meg James in the Los Angeles Times.

"Rock Center," which took over the slot historically held by flagship NBC dramas such as "ER," drew only 4 million viewers an episode. But even though NBC execs had reason to think things could only get better if they pulled the newsmag, they got worse: The medical drama series "Do No Harm," which replaced “Rock Center” in the slot, delivered even lower numbers and was canceled after two episodes, the story says.

"NBC now attracts 5.2 million viewers Thursday, a fraction of its audience a decade ago, according to Nielsen," the story notes. "From the late 1990s to about 2003, NBC generated as much as $800 million in annual profit from its 'Must See TV' lineup, which boasted such defining shows as 'Friends,' 'Seinfeld' and 'Will & Grace.' 'Friends' drew more than 17 million viewers an episode in its last two seasons."

The night generated almost 60% of NBC's prime-time revenue during its heyday, the piece adds. Now it is estimated that NBC's entire prime-time schedule is losing more than $150 million a year, the story says.

When NBC put together its fall schedule a year ago, it decided not to focus on Thursday, because of concerns that new shows wouldn't get sampled given the aging comedies "30 Rock" and "The Office," which weren't attracting new viewers, the story says. Instead, it focused on building the network's first half of the week.

That helped bring about "Revolution" and "Chicago Fire," but NBC's schedule suffered when "Revolution" went on hiatus, the story notes.

The network has ordered 10 drama pilots and 17 comedy pilots, more than any broadcast competitor, as it seeks to rebuild in the fall.

"Thursday needs a new anchor," Jeff Bader, NBC Entertainment's president of program planning, strategy and research, told the publication. "There is going to be much more of an emphasis on Thursday night for the upcoming season than there was last year."

The network hasn't yet decided whether to renew two comedies with small but loyal followings, "Parks and Recreation" and "Community," the story adds.

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Video: 'Star Wars' Star Winds Up in Hospital After 'Bipolar' Incident on Cruise Ship

One of the stars of the original “Star Wars” trilogy was hospitalized after an unusual incident aboard a cruise ship, and video of her performance -- included below -- has been making the rounds on the Internet.

TMZ.com reports: “Carrie Fisher was hospitalized following a bizarre performance on board a Caribbean cruise ship last week -- and her rep tells TMZ, it was all caused by the actress' bipolar disorder.”

The incident took place in the Caribbean aboard the Holland America Eurodam.

The video shows Fisher “slurring a couple off-key songs. Her dog even POOPS AND PEES on the stage while she's singing. It's pretty nuts,” TMZ reports. “There were reports Carrie -- who was featured on the cruise as a ‘surprise’ celebrity guest -- was wasted at the time of the show ... but her rep says the on-stage breakdown was caused by Fisher's bipolar disorder.”

The report quotes Fisher’s rep saying: "There was a medical incident related to Carrie Fisher’s bipolar disorder. She went to the hospital briefly to adjust her medication and is feeling much better now."

TMZ adds: “Carrie -- a recovering drug addict -- has publicly discussed her bipolar disorder in the past. The rep says it's unclear if Carrie will return to perform on the cruise ship again.”

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NBC Lands 'SNL' Alum for New Sitcom

A beloved former "Saturday Night Live" cast member, who appeared on the sketch comedy show in the 1980s before going on to a film career along with other successful TV ventures, is back in the NBC fold.

Emmy winner Martin Short has been cast in an untitled NBC project from comedian John Mulaney, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Short will play Mulaney's boss, Lou Cannon, a game show host for whom Mulaney writes jokes, the story adds. The project is loosely based on Mulaney's life, the piece notes.

Among the show's executive producers is Lorne Michaels, a longtime friend of Short's, although Michaels wasn't working on "Saturday Night Live" when Short was a cast member in 1984-85, according to New York Magazine.

Short, whose movie career includes “Father of the Bride” and “Three Amigos,” received an Emmy in 1983 as part of the writing team behind the TV show “SCTV Network.” He has a number of other Emmy nominations, including one for outstanding supporting actor for the FX series “Damages” in 2010.

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Martin Short

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'American Horror Story' Season Three: Showdown Between Two Oscar-Winning Actresses?

Another Oscar-winning actress has signed on for the third season of "American Horror Story," the FX horror anthology, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Kathy Bates will join the show, setting up a possible showdown with another Oscar winner, Jessica Lange, the piece notes. Bates won the Academy Award for her role as super (and super crazy) fan Annie in the 1990 feature "Misery." Lange has two Oscars -- for “Tootsie” (1982) and “Blue Sky” (1994). Both actresses have a number of other nominations as well.

The piece notes that Taissa Farmiga, an alum of the show’s first season, will return, with Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Sarah Paulson and Frances Conroy also in the lineup.

Show creator Ryan Murphy said of season three: “What we’re doing is more ambitious than what we’ve ever done. This one will be shot on location in three different cities in the country.”

Kathy-Bates.jpgKathy Bates

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Nickelodeon Developing 'Dora the Explorer' Spinoff

A spinoff of the popular animated children's show "Dora the Explorer" is coming to Nickelodeon, the network announced during its annual upfront presentation, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The spinoff will be targeted to preschoolers, and is one of more than a dozen shows on the network's new programming slate, the story adds. "Dora and Friends" will star the animated character Dora as a 10-year-old who goes on adventures in a big city with new friends.

Other programming in the pipeline at the cable channel includes a new family comedy from the writer-producer of "Reba" and a third season of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." Nickelodeon also said it's creating a new live afternoon daypart, "Nick Studio 10," the story says.

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ABC News Hires Its Second New York Times Staffer in Two Days

One day after ABC News hired one of The New York Times’ best-known political correspondents, the network went back to the well. The New York Times’ Media Decoder reports that ABC News has hired New York Times national correspondent Susan Saulny.

The hire comes one day after word surfaced that ABC hired The Times’ Jeff Zeleny, as previously reported.

"Susan has spent the last 12 years with The New York Times covering national news and contributing to the paper’s digital video efforts,” Ben Sherwood, ABC News president, wrote in a memo.

Saulny, who will start at ABC next month, was previously a staff writer for The Washington Post.

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Susan Saulny

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'Downton Abbey' Adds Black Character

The popular PBS historical drama "Downton Abbey" is about to introduce its first black character, reports the U.K.'s The Sun.

The character will be added as part of a storyline about 1920s race relations, according to the report.

A casting note was sent out to actors' agents, searching for an actor to play singer Jack Ross, described as between 25-30 and "black and very handsome. A real man (not a boy) with charm and charisma.”

[Spoiler alert ...] The fourth season will also include a new love interest for Lady Mary Crawley, who is said to be the dashing Lord Anthony Gillingham. He's described in the casting notes as a “good looking, very charismatic” 35- to 45-year-old, the piece notes.

Filming on the show's fourth season begins March 23.

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Los Angeles Waives Fees for Pilot Production

The fees that are paid by television pilots to tape in Los Angeles have been waived by the Los Angeles City Council in a unanimous vote, reports Deadline.com.

The council also waived similar fees for the first year of production on any pilot that's taped in the city and is picked up to series, the story adds. The measures were first proposed by Councilman Eric Garcetti as a way to keep projects from moving to other cities. Garcetti is running for mayor of L.A.

Out of a total of 152 pilots produced last year, 92 were filmed in Los Angeles, according to permitting organization FilmLA. The city collected $231,000 in TV pilot production fees during the 2011-2012 fiscal year, the story adds.

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Bobby Brown Sentenced to Jail Time

Singer and reality television star Bobby Brown has been sentenced to jail in connection with his October drunk-driving arrest, reports People.com. Brown received a sentence of 55 days in jail and four years of probation.

He was pulled over Oct. 24 in Studio City, Calif., after reportedly driving erratically, the story says. He was also arrested for allegedly driving under the influence in March 2012.

Brown, who was also ordered to complete an 18-month alcohol treatment program, must report to jail by March 20.

Brown’s reality show “Being Bobby Brown,” which also featured the late Whitney Houston, Brown’s then-wife, was televised by Bravo in 2005.

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PIX PUB ANKLES BIZ. Print This Item for Your Future Grandkids. End of an Era for Those in the Movie and TV Biz. After 80 Years, the Bible of the Entertainment Business, Daily Variety, to Publish Its Final Print Edition March 18. Online to Continue

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Daily Variety, which began publishing 80 years ago, in 1933, will publish its last print edition on March 18, 2013, reports its sibling publication, Deadline.com. (Deadline owner Penske Media Corp. bought Variety last fall.)

The article, by Deadline founder Nikki Finke, is surprising in its negative frankness about its now sibling publication, though the tone is a not unusual in articles by Finke. For example, Finke writes, "[Jay] Penske’s idea is to transform Variety into a thumb-sucking weekly about the entertainment business, leaving breaking news coverage to Deadline Hollywood." It is doubtful that either Penske or those at Variety would characterize that publication, as Finke does, as a "thumb-sucking weekly."

Variety also will continue its daily online presence, and, as of March 1, 2013, will no longer be behind a pay firewall.

Besides having a print daily Monday-Friday for the last 80 years, Variety has had a weekly print edition for the past 108 years. Variety will have a new weekly print edition, starting March 26, 2013, to be published on Tuesdays. Weekly variety has been published on Sundays. So now there will be just one print edition of Variety.

Writes Finke: "A few reporters/editors already have left or were canned this month. Needless to say, editorial morale at the entertainment trade is at its lowest ebb and anxiety is running sky high. As a source told me earlier, 'There is complete editorial disorganization from the top down.' Even worse, advertising is nonexistant and readers few and far between. Penske’s idea is to transform Variety into a thumb-sucking weekly about the entertainment business, leaving breaking news coverage to Deadline Hollywood. But both media already do and still will feature commentary and analysis. Penske announced on October 9th that he bought the once $200 million-valued trade, reportedly for the fire-sale price of $25 million after my Deadline Hollywood pretty much put it out of business. Financing for the Variety deal was provided by Third Point, a hedge fund founded by mega-investor Daniel S. Loeb. Variety is being maintained as a separate profit center outside Penske Media Corp."

Finke also notes that Variety announced "that it needs no fewer than 3 editors-in-chief to try to save the beleaguered trade, which is moving to a once-a-week print edition instead of a daily. Two of the newly named chiefs are from inside, Cynthia Littleton and Andrew Wallenstein, and one is from outside, Claudia Eller from the Los Angeles Times who used to work at Variety. They’ll oversee coverage of television, digital content, and film respectively."

Finke also says some negative things about current Variety editor Tim Gray, who will be taking on different responsibilities for Variety.

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Could Be a Landmark: MSO Cablevision Files Anti-Trust Suit Against Viacom. What the Lawsuit Does and Does Not Mean About the Bundling of Cable Channels

"Don't be confused: Cablevision's anti-trust suit decrying the evils of "anti-consumer" bundling by Viacom, which have pushed cable-bills up oh-so-high, has nothing to do with the frustrations consumers have with cable bundling."

So writes staff writer Rebecca Greenfield at the Atlantic Wire, an offshoot of the Atlantic magazine.

Greenfield continues, "As it explains in a press release announcing the suit, [MSO, or cable operator] Cablevision wants to carry eight of Viacom's 'must-have' networks, like MTV, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon, but not its 14 'ancillary' channels, like MTV Tr3s, CMT, and Teen Nick. It's a familiar complaint from people who would like the option to subscribe to cable channels a la carte rather than buy big bundles, and Cablevision even frames its suit in those terms: 'Viacom effectively forces Cablevision's customers to pay for and receive little-watched channels in order to get the channels they actually want.' But this suit, at least how Cablevision has described it, isn't about getting closer to a la carte. Cablevision, faced with rising programming costs, wants to sell a better bundle, not get out of the bundling business." 

The story adds, "While these annoyed cable providers make this sound like a crusade to protect consumers from ever-increasing cable prices, the move actually serves to defend their bottom lines. Programming costs from places like Viacom are resulting in losses for the pay-TV guys, as I explained earlier this month. These bundles -- in part because of these little unnecessary channels, but also because of big players like ESPN -- have started costing too much for the cable companies. Dish, for example, reported an earnings miss this quarter because of programming costs, it claimed; those same channel package costs have plagued Cablevision as well. Meanwhile to make up for these losses, the content owners are charging more and more for stuff."

The 14 Viacom channels Cablevision says its customers don't want, according to Wired, are: Centric, CMT,
MTV Hits, MTV Tr3s, Nick Jr.,
Nicktoons,
Palladia,
Teen Nick,
VH1 Classic,
VH1 Soul,
Logo,
CMT Pure Country, Nick 2 and
MTV Jams.

We would urge that you click on the link at the very top of this item to read Greenfield's entire analysis.

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Tough Monday Night for CBS, With Three Shows Sinking to Series or Season Lows

CBS is the latest network to be bitten by the “historic ratings low” bug, based on Nielsen overnights for Monday prime time.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that three of the network’s series hit season lows or series lows in the key 18-49 demo -- “Rules of Engagement” (down three-tenths from last week to a season-low 2.6 average rating), “2 Broke Girls” (down three-tenths to an all-time low of 3.2) and “Mike & Molly” (down a half-point to a season-low 2.7).

CBS’s best number was for “How I Met Your Mother,” which was steady with a 3.4 in viewers 18-49, good enough to come in as the night's top-rated show on the broadcast nets. But with a “Hawaii Five-0” rerun airing at 10 p.m. (1.4 average), the network had to settle for a tie for second place in prime time overall.

ABC won the night with a 2.7 average in 18-49 for prime time, followed by Fox (2.5), CBS (2.5) and NBC (1.8). ABC also took a win in total viewers with 9.6 million to Fox’s 8.6 million, CBS’s 8.2 million and NBC’s 4.9 million.

ABC was paced by its two-hour “The Bachelor,” which dipped one-tenth of a ratings point from a week ago to a 2.9 in adults 18-49, while “Castle” remained even with a 2.3.

Fox saw “Bones” rise one-tenth to a 2.3 in the 18-49 demo while “The Following” slipped two-tenths to a 2.7.

NBC’s programming was even with last week in viewers 18-49 -- a 2.1 for “The Biggest Loser,” and a 1.2 for “Deception.”

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AMC's 'Breaking Bad' Finds Cable Home for Syndication Run -- With a Marathon to Kick Things Off

AMC’s perennial Emmy contender “Breaking Bad” has found an outlet for its move into syndication. The drama series will move to Sundance Channel, which acquired the rights to the first four seasons of the show, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Sundance will launch the show’s run in marathon fashion, starting Monday, March 4, with the pilot at 11 p.m.

“Breaking Bad” has had a major presence at the Emmy Awards since 2008, hauling in three Emmys for lead actor Bryan Cranston along with two supporting actor trophies for Aaron Paul and a number of other wins -- not to mention three nominations for best drama series (without a win) and many other nominations, in directing, cinematography, acting, editing and other categories.

Sundance Channel GM and Executive VP Sarah Barnett commented: "’Breaking Bad’ has become a benchmark for storytelling at its finest, and we are proud to air this series as we embark on our own scripted programming with the upcoming debut of ‘Rectify,’ which is produced by the same incredible team behind ‘Breaking Bad.’ We are looking forward to giving viewers another opportunity to catch up with what has been called TV’s best drama."

THR notes: “The ‘Breaking Bad’ pickup for Sundance comes as a bit of a surprise considering that Netflix has become the go-to market for heavily serialized dark dramas, which don't typically repeat well.”

“Breaking Bad” will initially air in two-hour blocks leading out from Sundance originals -- following “The Staircase: Last Chance” March 4 and 11, “Top of the Lake” from March 18 to April 15 and “Rectify” from April 22 to May 27.

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U.S. Government Quietly Drops Probe Into Best Picture Nominee -- Did Politics Hurt Movie's Oscar Chances?

On the heels of the 2013 Academy Awards, a government investigation into a movie that was among the leading contenders has been dropped. Citing a congressional aide, Reuters reports that the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee has closed its inquiry into best picture nominee “Zero Dark Thirty.”

The probe focused on the interaction between the filmmakers and the CIA, the piece notes. The movie tracks developments leading up to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

“The intelligence committee gathered more information from the CIA, film director Kathryn Bigelow, and screenwriter Mark Boal and will not take further action, according to the aide, who requested anonymity,” the story reports. Producer Sony Pictures Entertainment had no immediate comment for the report.

The report hints at a connection between the political backdrop and the movie’s disappointing Oscar night. “Attacks by Washington politicians may have damaged its prospects at the Academy Awards,” Reuters reports. "’Zero Dark Thirty’ was nominated for a best picture award, which it did not win. Also, in what industry watchers considered a snub, Bigelow did not receive a best director nomination.”

“Zero Dark Thirty” was nominated for a total of five Oscars, including best actress (Jessica Chastain) and best original screenplay (Boal), but settled for only one win -- a tie for best sound editing with the James Bond movie “Skyfall.”

“The Senate committee launched its review of the film, a dramatization of how the U.S. government located and killed Osama bin Laden, after its chairwoman, Senator Dianne Feinstein, expressed outrage over scenes that implied that ‘enhanced interrogations’ of CIA detainees produced a breakthrough that helped lead to the al Qaeda leader,” Reuters reports. “In December, as ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ was about to premiere nationwide, Feinstein joined fellow Democrat Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Republican Senator John McCain in condemning ‘particularly graphic scenes of CIA officers torturing detainees’ in the film.”

A source close to the CIA’s interactions with the film’s producers said the agency helped the filmmakers develop characters for the movie but did not tell them that “enhanced interrogations” helped locate bin Laden, the story reports.

The report quotes an op-ed piece Bigelow published in response to the political controversy, in which the director wrote: "Those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement. If it was, no artist would be able to paint inhumane practices, no author could write about them, and no filmmaker could delve into the thorny subjects of our time."

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Veterans of 'Dancing With the Stars' and 'Footloose' Join Forces for New Starz Drama Series

Starz announced today that it is partnering with veterans of “Dancing with the Stars” and “Footloose” to create a new scripted drama series set in the world of international competitive ballroom dancing.

The project involves actor, dancer and singer Julianne Hough (“Safe Haven,” “Rock of Ages," “Footloose”) and her brother, dance champion and actor Derek Hough (“Dancing with the Stars”). The series is "Blackpool."

“The pair will executive produce and serve as head choreographers for the series, drawing on years of first-hand experience as competitors and world dance champions,” Starz announced. “The series revolves around the prestigious annual ballroom competition in Blackpool, England, and will explore the dancer’s obsession with perfection and the darker side of the glamorous world of ballroom dance, which has captured the fascination of audiences around the world.”

Carmi Zlotnik, managing director of Starz, said: “There are no more recognizable superstars in this arena than Julianne and Derek. Their experiences growing up in this highly competitive world are riveting and also shocking. There is much more to uncover than what we see on the dance floor.”

Derek Hough added: “I cannot wait to give audiences a fictionalized view of the world that I experienced growing up. Viewers are going to see a twisted, sexy, funny, dark and passionate side of the drama and politics in the world of ballroom dance that delves deeper than spray tans and sequins.”

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Erik Estrada Rides Again -- 'CHiPs' Star Climbs Back on Motorcycle for Syfy Chupacabra Movie Based at U.S. Landmark

Actor Erik Estrada, still closely identified with his role as a motorcycle-riding California Highway Patrolman in the 1970s and early 1980s NBC series “CHiPs,” will be back on two wheels for a new Syfy original movie.

The cable channel announced that “Chupacabra vs. the Alamo” will premiere March 23 (9 p.m. ET/PT). “When Chupacabras attack the San Antonio region, DEA Agent Carlos (Estrada) teams with a band of outlaw gangsters to battle a horde of the blood-sucking creatures -- culminating in a final bloody confrontation at the Alamo. Julia Benson (‘Stargate Universe’) also stars in this production from ARO Entertainment,” the channel announced.

Syfy is rolling out a couple of new TV movies in March, starting with “Flying Monkeys,” which bows March 9 (9 p.m. ET/PT). The channel describes it like this: “A businessman, Vince Ventresca (Dollhouse), buys his daughter (an aspiring veterinarian) a pet monkey, which is actually a shapeshifter that turns into a deadly creature at night and spawns killer clones – we’re not in Kansas anymore!”

erik-estrada.jpgErik Estrada

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Memorial Scheduled for Pioneering TV Producer Milt Hoffman

A memorial has been set for Milt Hoffman, a veteran television producer whose career spanned seven decades. Hoffman died Feb. 21 at age 90, as previously reported.

The tribute to Hoffman is scheduled for Sunday, March 17, 2013, at 2 p.m. at the Motion Picture & Television Fund Wasserman Campus in Woodland Hills.

Hoffman’s wide-ranging producing credits include “The Ernie Kovacs Show,” “The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show,” “Steve Allen’s Playhouse,” “Groovy,” “What’s Happening!!,” “Solid Gold,” “The Arsenio Hall Show” and many other TV series.

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Political Backlash Follows the Oscars

Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony has sparked a political backlash, with the complaints focused mainly on one element of the show: the appearance by Michelle Obama. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that conservative media members are complaining about the first lady’s announcement of “Argo” as winner of the Oscar for best picture during the ABC telecast.

“Talk radio hosts took to the airwaves, largely taking the position that the Oscars should have been an Obama-free zone. The gist: Hollywood’s reputation for liberalism is well known, so why rub it in the faces of GOP moviegoers?” THR reports. “The segment, of course, had Jack Nicholson introducing the first lady, who appeared live from the White House on a giant screen at the Dolby Theatre. Behind her were U.S. military personnel.”

Rush Limbaugh compared Obama’s appearance to the 1984 television commercial for the Apple Macintosh computer, which used "Big Brother"-like imagery.

"When I saw Michelle Obama on that giant screen, I mean, she dwarfed Nicholson,” Limbaugh said. “And I thought of 1984, the Macintosh ad from the Super Bowl in 1984. Exact type of scenario, except Michelle Obama was actually the Dear Leader of this, obviously a totalitarian state. And the Dear Leader was making some giant speech and fist-pounding and robotic citizens were sitting there nodding."

Twitter users, meanwhile, took to guessing where the first lady might appear next, using the hashtag #NextMichelleObamaAppearance. Guesses included "Announcing the next pope" and "Driving the pace car at Indy 500."

Republican President Ronald Reagan appeared at the 1981 Oscars, but didn't present an award, the story notes.

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Seth MacFarlane Comments on His Future -- or Lack of One -- Hosting the Oscars

Following up on Sunday’s high-profile gig as host of the Academy Awards, Seth MacFarlane took to Twitter and indicated that he won't make himself available for a second try at the job, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

In response to a question from one of his followers about hosting the show again, he wrote, "No way. Lotta fun to have done it, though."

MacFarlane's hosting was controversial, with one criticism coming from the Anti-Defamation League. The group on Monday criticized MacFarlane’s "Ted"-themed segment, claiming it perpetuated anti-Semitic stereotypes, the story notes.

Despite the criticisms, the show saw a 19% increase in viewership among adults 18 to 49.

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Celebrity Contestants Revealed for ABC's 'Dancing With the Stars' -- Here's the Full Lineup

The new celebrity lineup for ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” includes a Disney actress, two Olympic gold medalists -- one who competed in the 1970s and another who appeared at the most recent Games -- a couple of high-profile comedians, an NFL standout and two well-known country singers, along with a champion boxer, a soap opera star and a reality television star.

Olympic figure-skating champion Dorothy Hamill, who won gold at the 1976 Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria, joins 18-year-old gymnast Alexandra Raisman, a champion at the 2012 London Games, in the competition. Other athletes taking part in the competition are former welterweight champ Victor Ortiz and Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones.

Country music is represented by Wynonna Judd and Kellie Pickler, while D.L. Hughley and Andy Dick come to the show as accomplished comedians. Also on board are Zendaya Coleman, known for her role as Raquel “Rocky” Blue on the Disney Channel show “Shake It Up!,” Ingo Rademacher, who plays Jasper “Jax” Jacks on the ABC soap “General Hospital,” and Lisa Vanderpump, best known for “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”

Click here for details on the upcoming season and all of the new participants, along with their pairings with the show’s professional dancers.

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TBS Renews Series

TBS has renewed a freshman series, ordering an eight-episode second season. B&C reports that the cable channel is bringing back the competition series "King of the Nerds."

The show will wrap up season one March 7, with season two set for next year.

The series debuted to 2 million total viewers on Jan. 17, airing with a lead-in of repeat episodes of "The Big Bang Theory," the piece notes. The show represents TBS's first move into unscripted programming, although its second unscripted show, "Who Gets the Last Laugh," is set to debut April 16.

“Howie Mandel's ‘Deal With It’ (working title) and Mark Burnett's ‘Trust Me, I'm a Game Show Host’ (wt) also make their debuts later this year,” the report notes.

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Another Shoe Drops at NBC's 'Up All Night,' as Star Is Said to Be Working on Variety Show

The stars of NBC's struggling comedy series "Up All Night" continue to line up other work, with the latest news being a report by Deadline.com that Maya Rudolph is considering a variety show for her next career move.

Rudolph, the daughter of soul singer Minnie Riperton, has passed on five pilot offers because she wants to star in a variety show and has multiple networks and studios interested, including 20th Century Fox, ABC and NBC, the story notes.

"Up All Night" started to fall apart earlier this month, when Christina Applegate quit and Will Arnett picked up work in Greg Garcia's untitled CBS project, the story notes.

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Glenn Beck Wants a Piece of the Fox News Pie

Conservative pundit Glenn Beck is making a push that will place his media company, TheBlaze, in more direct competition with his former employer, Fox News Channel, reports TVNewser.com.

Beck has launched a campaign called GetTheBlaze, which urges fans to call their pay-TV operator and request that they add TheBlaze to their network lineup.

"It is also a shot cross the bow of Fox News, which has long been the only place on TV to find conservative pundits hosting TV programs,” the story reports. “While Beck’s company has a long way to go, it is trying to take market-share from the network that helped fuel his rise.”

The piece notes that Beck’s push comes at a time when cable operators are looking for ways to reduce the number of channels they carry to trim costs.

The report adds: “TheBlaze is banking on the (remarkably) stable and lucrative cable subscription business to provide a revenue boost. While TheBlaze has about as successful a model that as ever existed in the web-TV world, traditional channels still generate a ton of revenue through the traditional pipeline.”

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ABC TV Series Spawns Magazine

An ABC television show has spawned its own magazine, which will act as a companion to the TV series, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed. The series is the fairy-tale drama "Once Upon a Time."

Two special collector's editions will be published, with the first issue going on sale today and a second issue slated for the summer. The publication will include cast interviews, as well as interviews with creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, the piece adds.

The publication comes from Titan Magazines, which in June said it was creating a magazine for AMC's "The Walking Dead," the piece notes.

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Alicia Silverstone to Play Lead in Drama

Actress Alicia Silverstone, known for her performances in movies including “The Crush,” “Batman & Robin” and “Clueless,” has been cast as the lead in Lifetime’s drama pilot "HR," Deadline.com reports.

The project was ordered contingent on casting the lead, the report notes.

"Lifetime took its time, looking for a name and the right actress,” the story reports. “With Silverstone on board, 'HR' has now been cleared for production."

The project will star Silverstone as the head of human resources for a large company. After a head injury, she changes her uptight outlook, the piece adds.

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Alicia Silverstone

 

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Netflix CEO Signals Surprising Plans for 'Arrested Development'

Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings said that the streaming service’s revival of "Arrested Development" is likely to vary from most of the other original programming the service is producing, reports Deadline.com.

For most of its announced original series, such as "House of Cards" with Kevin Spacey, Netflix will be producing more than one season.

However, Hastings said Netflix is only going to produce one season of "Arrested Development."

Hastings, who spoke at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Technology conference, said the show is a "fantastic one-off which is coming together incredibly.”

"We don’t anticipate being able to do season five, six and seven,” he said, according to the story.

"Arrested Development," which first aired on Fox, will debut 14 new episodes on Netflix in May.

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'Chucko the Clown' Dies -- Performer Took Over the Character Originally Played by His Father

The performer who played "Chucko the Clown” for years after taking over the character from his father has died. The Los Angeles Times reports that Randy Runyon died Wednesday, Feb. 20, after a battle with lung cancer. He was 57.

Runyon's father, Charles M. Runyon, made the character popular in the 1950s and 1960s when he starred in "Chucko the Birthday Clown" on KABC-TV and KTTV, the story reports.

"Children often waited years for the chance to appear on the popular show on their birthday with Chucko, who, with his finely painted clown face and spinning merry-go-round hat, became a Los Angeles celebrity along with such other kiddie-show stars as Engineer Bill, Sheriff John and Bozo the Clown," the piece says.

Randy Runyon debuted as Chucko Jr. in the mid-1960s, and started playing Chucko full-time in 1984, after his father retired. He appeared on the NBC soap "Santa Barbara" and "The Arsenio Hall Show," and in commercials for Taco Bell.

He retired Chucko in 1995 after what the report calls "several lean years for the clown business." Runyon blamed the 1990 television miniseries "It," a Stephen King story that features an evil clown character.

"He maintained that independent clowns suffered nationwide due to the movie," said family friend Roger Smith, "and he eventually retired the act rather than have children confused and afraid of their beloved Chucko."

 

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How the Oscar Producers Carried Out a Mission as Secret as the One Depicted in 'Argo': Getting Michelle Obama to Present the Award for Best Picture. The Connection to FDR's Fireside Chats

"On Feb. 14, a Hollywood delegation showed up at the White House. Motion Picture Academy President Hawk Koch, Oscar producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron and film mogul Harvey Weinstein had come to explore a rather important matter (for them): They wanted to see if they could secretly work out the details for Michelle Obama to present best picture at the Oscars 10 days later,' writes Steven Zeitchik in the Los Angeles Times.

According to the story, "The original thought was to have the first lady Michelle Obama attend the ceremony on Feb. 24 and sneak away from her seat as a surprise best picture presenter, but a White House dinner with the nation's governors that night made travel impossible. Plans for a satellite presentation were put in place.

"Producers enacted a number of efforts to ensure secrecy. To reduce the risk of a leak, ABC News' political bureau, rather than its entertainment division, was involved in the physical production. Producers and the first lady's office also found a room that wouldn't be needed all weekend, since technicians needed to begin set-up on Saturday. The Diplomatic Reception Room -- a space that has enjoyed myriad uses over the years, including the site for FDR's fireside chats -- fit the bill.

"Zadan and Meron also kept all but the top executives out of the loop; Disney's Robert Iger and Anne Sweeney were among the few not directly involved with the show who knew."

To read all the details about how the secret was kept and the logistics of how the presentation happened, click on the link above to the original article.

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The Person Who Caused Users to Make the Most Tweets Per Minute During the Oscars Was NOT Seth MacFarlane, nor Jennifer Lawrence, nor Michelle Obama, nor Streisand, nor Halle Berry, nor Ben Affleck. It WAS ...

"All in all, there were 8.9 million tweets about the 85th Academy Awards: 2.1 million during the red carpet, and 6.8 million during the awards show," writes Twitter's Fred Graver on the company's blog.

Graver adds, "The events that drove the most conversation on Twitter this evening, based on tweets per minute (TPM), were:

Best Picture award for Argo: 85,300 TPM
Adele performs “Skyfall”: 82,300 TPM
Best Actress in a Leading Role for Jennifer Lawrence: 71,600 TPM
Best Original Song for Adele: 64,000 TPM
Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Anne Hathaway: 60,400 TPM"

So clearly the celebrity of most interest to those who tweeted during the Oscars was the singer Adele, who, in total, received 146,300 TPM, when one combines the number of tweets per minute when she sang "Skyfall" on the show and when she received her Oscar for Best Song.

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C. Everett Koop, Who Transformed the Office of Surgeon General Into an Activist's Position -- Dies at 96

"C. Everett Koop, who raised the profile of the surgeon general by riveting America's attention on the then-emerging disease known as AIDS and by railing against smoking, has died in New Hampshire at age 96," the Associated Press and CBS News report.

The story adds, "The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth said in a release that Koop died peacefully in his home in Hanover on Monday. They did not disclose a cause of death."

As explained in the story, "Koop wielded the previously low-profile post of surgeon general as a bully pulpit for seven years during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations."

The article adds the Koop "carried out a crusade to end smoking in the United States -- his goal had been to do so by the year 2000. A former pipe smoker, he said cigarettes were as addictive as heroin and cocaine. Koop's impact was great, although the surgeon general has no real authority to set government policy. He described himself as 'the health conscience of the country.' "

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.Surgeon General C. Everett Koop

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Michael Jackson's Son to Make Acting Debut on Season Finale of CW Series

The eldest son of the late pop singing superstar Michael Jackson -- Prince Michael Jackson, 16 -- will make his acting debut on the season finale of a CW series, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Says the report, by Philiana Ng, "Jackson will play Cooper [on the CW's '90210'], a trauma victim who bonds with Silver (Jessica Stroup) over the realization -- at a very young age -- how precious life is. He is filming his guest spot this week.

"The news comes just one week after 'Entertainment Tonight' announced that ... Jackson would be joining the entertainment newsmagazine as an on-air correspondent. 'I'm looking to become well-rounded as a producer, director, screenwriter and actor,' Jackson told ET's Brooke Anderson last week."

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Prince Michael Jackson

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'Dancing With the Stars' Fixture Won't Be Back on the Show

One of the regulars on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” is leaving the long-running competition show. TMZ.com reports that “Maksim Chmerkovskiy's days of sequin unitards are OVER ... 'cause TMZ has learned the Bad Boy of the Ballroom is officially leaving ‘Dancing with the Stars.’"

Citing sources close to the show, the report says Chmerkovskiy notified producers a few days ago that he wouldn’t be back for the show’s upcoming season.

“FYI -- the 33-year-old dancer has been on the show since Season 2 (2006) ... and partnered up with stars like Misty May, Laila Ali, Erin Andrews, Kirstie Alley and Mel B,” the report adds. “We're told Maksim wants to stay in the entertainment world ... and is currently pursuing movie and TV projects.”

Chmerkovskiy’s brother Val reportedly will be back on the show.

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Mitt Romney Agrees to First Post-Election Interview -- and a TV Rumor About Him Is Refuted

Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been largely silent since losing the election to Barack Obama back in November, but now he appears to be ready to talk.

TVNewser.com reports that Romney has agreed to do his first post-election TV interview on the Fox News Channel -- on this weekend’s “Fox News Sunday,” with Chris Wallace.

Wallace reportedly announced that Mitt and Ann Romney will join him on the show.

Excerpts from the interview will also air on other Fox News Channel programs, according to the piece.

The piece adds that the planned interview “is likely the cause of the weird rumor that Romney would be joining Fox News as a contributor. No, he won’t.”

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Veteran TV Actor Joins 'Dallas'

An actor with a string of television credits going back to the mid-1980s has been added to the cast of TNT’s revival of “Dallas.” TVLine.com reports that Steven Weber has signed on with the drama series in a recurring role.

“TVLine has learned exclusively that Weber will play Governor McConaughey, an ambitious politico who conspires with Cliff Barnes and Harris Ryland -- a gruesome twosome if ever there was -- to take down the Ewing family,” the piece reports.

Weber’s first appearance is set for the 12th episode of season two, the report notes.

“In addition to his runs on, of course, ‘Wings,’ ‘Brothers & Sisters’ and ‘Studio 60,’ Weber’s more recent TV credits include visits to ‘Malibu Country,’ ‘2 Broke Girls’ (where he plays Caroline’s father), ‘Parenthood’ and TNT’s ‘Falling Skies,’” the report adds.

Early in his career, Weber was seen on the soap opera “As the World Turns,” along with the TV shows “American Playhouse” and “Crime Story” and the miniseries “The Kennedys of Massachusetts,” where he played John F. Kennedy.

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Steven Weber

 

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Controversial Cable Reality Show to Return for a Second Season

A cable reality show that has attracted quite a bit of attention -- much of it negative -- has earned a renewal and will be back for a second season. The series is TLC’s “Breaking Amish.”

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports: “The popular unscripted series will reunite the five former Amish and Mennonite men and women from the first cast.”

Season two will consist of eight one-hour episodes, the story reports, with production already under way.

“’Breaking Amish,’ which averaged a robust 3.2 million viewers for the cable network during its freshman run, drew criticism for reports of casting individuals long-removed from the Amish and Mennonite communities,” the report notes. “Still, the same group -- Abe, Rebecca, Kate, Sabrina and Jeremiah -- will be part of the second order, which moves the action from New York City to Florida.”

The piece notes that season two promises “more culture shock, financial woes, in-fighting and surprise visits.”

The show’s first season yielded TLC’s highest ratings ever for a freshman show, the piece notes. But among the problems that have followed the series, it was hit with fraud allegations, as we reported back in September.

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'Purple Rain' Star Prince to Make Rare Late-Night TV Appearance This Week

Musician and singer Prince, who is generally low-key about appearing on television, is ramping up his public profile, AP reports.

The star of the 1984 feature film “Purple Rain” has scheduled an appearance on NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” the piece reports.

“A rep for the late-night talk show confirmed the pop legend will appear on the show Friday and will perform two songs. It's not clear whether he'll perform new material or some of his classics,” the story reports. “The reclusive star has been back in the spotlight recently. He presented the record of the year trophy at the Grammys, released the song ‘Screwdriver’ on his new website and is due to perform several dates in Europe this summer.”

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Prince

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Lindsay Lohan Set for Sitcom Appearance

Actress Lindsay Lohan will reunite with Charlie Sheen, with whom she appeared in “Scary Movie 5,” when she guests on his FX sitcom “Anger Management,” reports Deadline.com.

“In her first TV gig since her universally panned starring turn in the Lifetime movie ‘Liz & Dick,’ Lohan has signed on to guest star as herself in an upcoming episode of ‘Anger Management’ slated to air in April,” the piece reports. “In the episode, Lohan develops a romantic relationship with Sheen’s character after becoming his therapy patient.”

“Scary Movie 5” also opens in April, the piece notes.

The Sheen sitcom is working on filling a 90-episode back order, the report adds.

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Aereo Expands Cloud-Based TV Service

Aereo has announced a major expansion in the availability of its cloud-based television service. CNET reports that the company is saying its service is now operational for more than 19 million people in the New York metro area.

“Although Aereo was previously only available in New York's five boroughs, the company has expanded its offering to people living in the city's metropolitan area,” the piece reports. “The region, commonly known as the designated market area, includes 29 counties in New York state, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. According to Aereo, that expansion has brought its total market size to 19 million people.”

Aereo is a cloud-based service through which users can access programming across a wide range of networks.

“From a smartphone, tablet or notebook, users can watch 30 over-the-air broadcast channels, as well as Bloomberg Television,” the story reports. “The service also works on Roku boxes.”

CBS, which publishes CNET News, is involved in litigation with Aereo and has challenged the legality of the service.

“Aereo's service, which includes DVR (digital video recorder) functionality that lets users pause and rewind live programming, as well as save it for future viewing, costs $1 per day,” the story reports. “The company's monthly fee is $8, and its annual $80.”

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Gender Revealed for Kim Kardashian-Kanye West Baby

The gender of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s baby has been revealed and the couple should be painting the nursery pink because they’re having a girl, reports UPI.

A source close to the celebrity duo confirmed Saturday that pre-natal tests have determined that Kardashian is carrying a baby girl. The child -- the first for Kardashian, 32 -- is due to be born in July.

The insider commented: “They're over the moon! Kanye always wanted a girl."

Kardashian is still technically married to NBA player Kris Humphries, the piece notes, despite filing for divorce after the couple’s 72-day marriage and subsequently moving on and becoming involved with West.

 

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Oscars Telecast Surges in Key Demo

ABC’s broadcast of the 85th annual Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, saw a surge in viewers, especially in the key demographic of adults 18-49, based on Nielsen overnights.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the telecast, hosted by Seth MacFarlane, delivered a 26.6 household reting and 41, share, up 4% from the 25.5/38 for the 2012 ceremony.

Nielsen’s Fast Nationals showed a more significant increase in the 18-49 demo, with the ceremony pulling a 12.1 average rating, up 19% from last year’s 10.2.

“The 2012 Oscars, hosted by show veteran Billy Crystal, were largely steady from the previous year. The 39.3 million haul marked a 4 percent jump from 2011 and the final 11.7 adults rating was off by only a tenth of a point,” THR reports. “Despite the relatively even ratings of late, the show has fluctuated quite a bit in the last 10 years -- with the highest returns in 2004 (43.6 million, a 10 million jump from the previous year) and the lowest in 2008 with 31.8 million.”

ABC’s red carpet coverage before the ceremony also saw an increase. “Oscar arrivals pulled a 5.0 adults rating at 7 p.m., a 6.7 adults rating at 7:30 p.m. and a 9.2 adults rating at 8 p.m.,” THR reports. “The margin of improvement over the previous year's fast returns rose from 4 percent to 14 percent from the first to final half-hour.”

The piece notes that Fox’s Sunday animation lineup -- much of which was created by Oscars host MacFarlane -- came in second in the ratings, with Fox averaging a 1.3 in viewers 18-49 and 2.9 million viewers.

“Only CBS put up an original against ABC's big show,” the report notes. “A new episode of ‘The Amazing Race,’ book-ended by repeats, dropped 28 percent to a series low 1.8 adults rating. The network averaged a 1.1 adults rating and 5.7 million viewers. NBC repeats followed with a 0.8 adults rating and 2.8 million viewers.”

Unvision averaged a 0.8 in the 18-49 demo for the night, with 2.3 million viewers.

 

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The Onion Apologizes for Vulgar Tweet About Young Oscar Nominee

[Updated Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, 9:30 a.m. PT, to add that The Onion has now apologized for the tweet.]

The website The Onion has come under fire for what’s being described as a vulgar tweet about 9-year-old Oscar nominee Quvenzhane Wallis. Fox News reports that the site posted the message about the youngster during the Academy Awards telecast and then quickly deleted it.

The Onion later apologized for the tweet.

Wallis was nominated for best actress for “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” The Onion’s tweet, which created an uproar in the Twitterverse, read: “Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhane Wallis is kind of a c*nt, right? #Oscars2013.”

“Users immediately came to Wallis’ defense, slamming the satirical site for the ‘joke,’” the report says. “And though The Onion deleted the tweet shortly after posting it, plenty of users managed to get screen shots of the offending message.”

Among the criticisms that were posted following the tweet:

“The Onion was tasteless for that tweet. It’s never okay to use that word towards anyone, especially someone's child.”

“Calling a 9 year old child a c-word in one of the biggest nights of her life was going too far even for the onion. Classless.”

“@TheOnion Unfollowing you. Your tweet about a 9-yr-old child was stunningly inappropriate. That's not satire or a joke. That's sick.”

“An apology is due to Miss Wallis. Deleting the tweet does not make it go away. Would The Onion let this die if a celeb had said it?”

The Onion apologized Monday morning for the tweet, posting the apology on its Facebook and Twitter pages.

“In a rare moment of seriousness for the publication, Steve Hannah, CEO of The Onion, called the tweet a mistake and said the site had already ‘instituted new and tighter Twitter procedures,’" Fox News reported. “He acknowledged that the comment was ‘crude and offensive -- not to mention inconsistent with The Onion’s commitment to parody and satire, however biting.’"

Hannah’s comment included a note addressed personally to the young actress: "Miss Wallis, you are young and talented and deserve better. All of us at The Onion are deeply sorry."

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Director Dies in Plane Crash During Location Shoot for TV Show 'Dangerous Flights'

A director working on the television show “Dangerous Flights” was killed in a plane crash during a location shoot for the TV series “Dangerous Flights,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

John Driftmier, 30, a Canadian TV director and cinematographer known for his work on documentaries shot in locations including the Amazon and the Arctic, died along with his pilot in the crash in Kenya over the weekend, the piece reports.

“Driftmier was shooting aerial footage for the Discovery Canada documentary series ‘Dangerous Flights’ when his small plane crashed, killing him and his pilot, according to Montreal indie producer Pixcom,” THR reports. “Pixcom CEO Jacquelin Bouchard, expressing her shock and sadness, in a statement said Driftmier ‘was an incredibly talented director and cameraman, and a wonderful friend.’"

“Dangerous Flights” is in its second season, the report notes. The series “follows pilots who deliver small, private planes around the world,” THR adds.

Driftmier worked on a number of Discovery series, including “Highway Thru Hell” and “Licence to Drill.”

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ABC's 'Dancing With the Stars' Reveal During Oscars Scoops Network's Own 'GMA'

ABC scooped its morning program "Good Morning America" when it released the name of one of its competitors in "Dancing with the Stars" during a mid-Oscar commercial, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The commercial on the ABC telecast revealed that NFL player Jacoby Jones -- a wide receiver on the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens -- will be one of the dancing show's competitors. The network plans to release all the cast names on Tuesday morning's broadcast of "GMA," the story notes.

The dancing competition returns for its 16th edition March 18.

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ABC News Hires Veteran Newspaper Reporter for Key Political Post

ABC News President Ben Sherwood announced a key hire for the division today, sending a memo to staffers to introduce Jeff Zeleny, TheWrap.com reports.

Zeleny comes to ABC from the New York Times, where he was recently praised by executive editor Jill Abramson as "a cornerstone of our political coverage,” the report notes.

Zeleny will be senior Washington correspondent for ABC News, covering Congress and politics.

In his memo, Sherwood said: “If you’re interested in presidential campaigns or national affairs, then you’re well aware of Jeff’s byline at The New York Times and his exclusive reporting and prolific writing.

“Over the past 12 years Jeff has traveled to all 50 states and reported from more than two-dozen countries while covering four presidential campaigns including Barack Obama’s road to the White House, the Tea Party movement, Capitol Hill and the inside game of politics.”

Sherwood also noted: “Earlier this month Jeff revealed that Karl Rove is starting a new group to focus on recruiting seasoned Republican candidates to run in the next round of congressional races -- a story that drove the news cycle for days.”

Jeff-Zeleny.jpgJeff Zeleny

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'Lost' Star Cast in CBS Drama

One of the former stars of the ABC drama series “Lost” has been cast in a new CBS drama project. Entertainment Weekly reports that Jorge Garcia is joining the CBS pilot "The Ordained."

Garcia will play a staff investigator of a law firm where the son, played by Charlie Cox, works. Cox's character has left the priesthood and become an attorney to help his politician sister avoid assassination, the piece adds.

Since “Lost” ended its six seasons on ABC in 2010, Garcia has starred in the canceled Fox drama "Alcatraz" and appeared in ABC's "Once Upon a Time.”

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Jorge Garcia

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Oscars Telecast Streaming Online

The complete telecast of Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony, aired on ABC, is streaming online across multiple platforms for the first time for viewers in the United States, ABC announced. The show is on ABC.com, the ABC Player app and the free, ad-supported Hulu and Hulu Plus subscription service, along with ABC On Demand, the network announced.

The window for the streaming is today through Wednesday.

Said Karin Gilford, senior vice president of Digital Media, ABC Entertainment: “Tonight’s show included remarkable performances that will surely have people talking. This is an easy, convenient way for anyone who missed the show to catch up and join the conversation. It’s also perfect for anyone who just wants to relive the most magical moments of the night.”

The announcement adds: “The streaming will be advertiser supported with :15 or :30 video spots running intermittingly from Blue Diamond, Diet Coke, Hyundai, JC Penney, Samsung and The University of Phoenix.”

The release notes that during the live broadcast of the ceremony on ABC, “Oscar.com offered a plethora of ‘Real Time Oscar Highlights’ to viewers almost instantly after they debuted on the live broadcast. Those special moments from telecast, as well as numerous highlights from the Red Carpet and backstage during the show, are currently available on the show’s official site, Oscar.com.”

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Hallmark Takes Wraps Off New Family Movie Series -- First Installment Airs in March

Hallmark Channel is creating a new family television movies series, in partnership with sponsors such as Walmart and Proctor & Gamble, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Six new films will air on Fridays throughout the year, along with existing films from the network's library. Walmart will then sell DVDs of the new films on the Tuesday after they're televised.

The Walden Family Theater will launch March 15 with the film "Return to Nim's Island," which stars Bindi Irwin, the daughter of the late Steve Irwin, the Australian host of "The Crocodile Hunter."

The second film is "Space Warriors," which stars Oscar winner Mira Sorvino, along with Dermot Mulroney and Danny Glover. The movie is about space-camp trainees who get involved when the International Space Station is endangered, the story says.

The movie series is also in partnership with Walden Media and Arc Entertainment. Addition titles in the series are yet to be announced.

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ABC Working on Drama Spinoff That Could Compete With New NBC Series

ABC reportedly has a spinoff in the works based on one of its drama series. TheWrap.com reports that the network is working on a "Once Upon a Time" spinoff that would feature the Mad Hatter character played by "Gossip Girl" actor Sebastian Stan.

Stan played the character in a few episodes of the show, and the show is in the very early planning stages, the piece notes.

Deadline.com notes that ABC is now looking at different actors, as Stan isn't available for a series commitment. Stan is preparing for a role in "Captain America," the story adds.

The spinoff could end up in competition with NBC's upcoming "Wonderland," another take on "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," the 1865 novel by Lewis Carroll. "Wonderland" is from "CSI" creator Anthony Zuiker and focuses on Alice as a woman who becomes the evil Queen, the story adds.

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Video: Jimmy Kimmel's Sexy, Star-Studded Post-Oscars Vampire Movie; Cast Includes Jessica Chastain, Oprah Winfrey, Bradley Cooper, Salma Hayek, Channing Tatum, Rachel Weisz, Samuel L. Jackson ... the List Goes On

Jimmy Kimmel's biggest production each year, according to Kimmel himself, is his post-Oscars broadcast on ABC, and this year's installment included a relatively high-production-value, and celebrity-filled, eight-minute trailer for "Movie: The Movie: 2V."

Here's the full trailer:

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NBC Taps 'Glee' Star to Host Game Show

NBC has cast an Emmy Award-winning actress from Fox’s “Glee” to host a new game show. TheWrap.com reports that Jane Lynch, who won an Emmy in 2010 and a Golden Globe in 2011 for her work on the Fox series, will host “Hollywood Game Night.”

The show, which comes from Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner, will feature A-list contestants competing against regular people in a "cocktail-party atmosphere," the story says.

NBC has ordered eight episodes of the show, which will feature "flowing drinks, passed hors d'oeuvres and a live house band," the piece adds.

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John Stamos Joins NBC Project

Veteran actor John Stamos, known for a long string of TV appearances including starring roles on the ABC sitcom “Full House” and the NBC drama series “ER,” now has a new job at NBC.

Deadline.com reports that Stamos has joined the new drama "I Am Victor," from "House" executive producer Katie Jacobs and Norwegian novelist Jo Nesbo.

Stamos is set to play Victor Port, described as a divorce attorney who says what he thinks. The actor, who recurs on the NBC comedy "The New Normal," was in demand this development season, with four pilots pursuing him before he settled on "I Am Victor," the piece adds.

He has also appeared recently in a recurring role on Fox’s “Glee.”

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John Stamos

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Emmy-Winning TV Writer Killed by Out-of-Control Truck

An Emmy Award-winning television writer was killed by an out-of-control pickup truck in Brooklyn, N.Y., reports the New York Post.

Martha Atwater, 48, had just bought cookies at the Bagel Cafe when the black Honda Ridgeline jumped the curb, pinning her against a building, the story said.

Police say the driver may have lost consciousness because of diabetes.

Atwater won a Daytime Emmy Award in 2009 for her writing on "Word World," a PBS children's show. She was also nominated for Daytime Emmys for three successive years, 2001-2003, for her work on "Clifford the Big Red Dog," on which she was a producer.

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Even Before Seth MacFarlane Sang His Tribute to Actress' Breasts, Anne Hathaway's Appearance on the Red Carpet Got Her Nipples Their Own Twitter Account

Oh, those snarky Aussies. Here's a headline from the Australian newspaper The Herald Sun this morning: "Breast Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway's nipples get Twitter account."

Says the story, "All eyes were on what Best Supporting Actress winner Anne Hathaway was going to wear to this year's Oscars, but shortly after she stepped out in her pink Prada gown, all eyes were clearly on something else.

"A Twitter account called @HathawayNipples, run by 'AnneHathawayNipples' popped up within minutes of her Oscars red carpet debut. Looking to quickly become the new @AngiesRightLeg -- which amassed tens of thousands of followers during last year's Oscars -- almost 2,000 people were following the account within an hour of it going live.

The story adds, "But what exactly did AnneHathawayNipples have to say about their red carpet moment? ... 'Anyone else feeling a little chilly #Oscars,' they tweeted."

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Early Reviews of Seth MacFarlane-Hosted Oscarcast Are Mixed: USA Today Says: 'This may be the first time [we've] ever seen a host use the awards to audition for his own variety show.' THR Says: 'MacFarlane did better than one would have wagered.'

The early reviews of Sunday night’s telecast of the 85th Annual Academy Awards, hosted by Seth MacFarlane, are in, and the results are mixed.

Robert Bianco, the TV critic at USA Today, wrote, “Oscars fans have seen a lot over the years, but this may be the first time they've ever seen a host use the awards to audition for his own variety show.

“That was what Seth MacFarlane was doing on ABC's Oscar broadcast Sunday, wasn't it? Because it's hard to imagine just what else he might have had in mind with that oddly awkward mix of monologue and music that opened the show and set the evening's why-am-I-here? tone.”

Bianco added, “He started with a number about seeing stars' breasts in movies that was meant to represent the kind of "wild, crazy and tasteless" stunt folks were supposedly afraid the man behind ‘Family Guy’ might do, and was, unfortunately, less wild, crazy or tasteless than it needed to be. He then moved into more standard production numbers that fell somewhere in between Billy Crystal's Oscars classics and something you might have seen on ‘The Andy Williams Show.’ It's as if he saw the Oscar assignment as his last, best chance to revive vaudeville.”

What MacFarlane seemed to forget, Bianco wrote, was that the primary job of the host of the Oscars “means keeping the train running, making your guests comfortable, and making the evening more about them than you. Awash in self-indulgence, neither he nor his 3-hour-and-35-minute show ever seemed to hit a comfortable, confident stride, which is a shame, because the broadcast had a lot of entertainment to offer.”

Tim Goodman, the TV critic at The Hollywood Reporter (and formerly at the San Francisco Examiner and the San Francisco Chronicle), was much more kind to MacFarlane: “I'd argue that with the deck stacked very much against him, MacFarlane did impressively better than one would have wagered.”

Goodman also wrote, “In fact, MacFarlane was relatively tame if you know anything at all about his canon, and he was respectful through and through. As a guy who can actually sing and has recorded a successful album (fueling more jealousy and backlash from his detractors), his pick was more spot-on than anyone gave the Academy credit for. But they did get lucky. He didn't give up, like Franco. He took the job extremely seriously and put himself out there. Ultimately, he excelled at balance.”

Over at THR competitor Variety, longtime TV critic Brian Lowry wrote, “Infusing the evening with genial snark, Seth MacFarlane joined David Letterman, Jon Stewart and Chris Rock as hosts tapped to heighten the Oscars' hipness quotient and address its age-old (which is to say, old age) problem. Once viewers got past the protracted opening, however, they learned the ‘Family Guy’ producer was just as constrained as his predecessors and wasn't going to transform the Academy Awards into a Comedy Central roast. Rather, much like Hugh Jackman's spirited stint a few years back, it felt like the Tonys had a baby with a Vegas revue, albeit on a much larger stage.”

Lowry added, “MacFarlane might have a reputation for juvenile humor, but he also possesses an obvious love for old-style variety. Perhaps that's why he really wasn't an avant-garde choice, reflecting a bait-and-switch tactic the Oscars have employed before -- hoping people will tune in to see what might happen, and then serving up the same old show. In a sense, MacFarlane was playing Billy Crystal, just 25 years younger.

“Indeed, while it's hard to remember a more self-referential opening -- dwelling about whether MacFarlane was up to the task -- his first flurry of jokes felt about as edgy as a standard Jay Leno monologue on ‘The Tonight Show,’ just with an industry bent: Ben Affleck being overlooked in the director bids, Meryl Streep's frequent nominations, the tumultuous Chris Brown-Rihanna relationship, etc.”

The New York Times’ Alessandra Stanley wrote, “Fewer could have foreseen that old Hollywood and new would come together in one M.C. Seth MacFarlane, the creator of ‘Family Guy,’ crooned sappy standards (‘The Way You Look Tonight’) and carried himself like Fred Astaire. But he also stayed true to form, taking crude shots at Jews in Hollywood, women and even the Lincoln assassination. (He made a joke that despite brilliant impersonations by Daniel Day-Lewis and Raymond Massey, the actor ‘who really got inside Lincoln’s head was John Wilkes Booth.’)”

Stanley was far more critical of the rest of the Oscarcast than she was of MacFarlane’s hosting. Her conclusion: “Mr. MacFarlane didn’t ruin the show. But the show almost ruined the Oscars.”

We urge you to click on the various links in this item and read all of the reviews in full.

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Here's a Printable Ballot For You To Pick Your Choices for the Oscars Tonight. You Can Also Print Out Another Ballot that Has the Choices Of Our Own Expert, TVWeek Open Mic Blogger Chuck Ross

[NOTE: IF YOU'RE HAVING TROUBLE PRINTING OUT EITHER BALLOT, ONCE THE BALLOT APPEARS ON YOUR COMPUTER SCREEN JUST HIT CONTROL P.]

It's time for the Oscars, and we've got your last minute printable ballot. It lists all the nominees and categoriies, and you can just check who you think will win. To get the printable ballot, please click on this pdf: Best Picture 2013a.pdf.

Also, once again this year we're also offering a separate ballot that's already been filled out with the guesses of who will win, selected by our very own prognosticator extraordinaire, TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross. It's the same ballot as above, but it comes with Ross' picks of all the winners. In the past he's proven that he's generally not too bad at picking who will win. But some years he's better than in other years. How will he do tonight? This is for those who may not really have any idea who may win, but want to play along anyway. It might also be fun to print it out to see how your choices compare to Ross' choices.

To download the ballot that has the winners Ross has picked, please click on the following pdf:Best Picture 2013 MARKED BALLOT.pdf

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Three NBC Shows Sink to Historic Lows

Three NBC series fell to all-time ratings lows in the key 18-49 demo Thursday night, based on Nielsen overnights. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “Community,” “Parks and Recreation” -- the first of two back-to-back episodes -- and “1600 Penn” all dipped to historic lows.

At the other end of the ratings spectrum, Fox saw some improvement from its sputtering “American Idol” to win the night. The two-hour “Idol” rose 8% from an hour episode a week ago to register a 3.9 average in viewers 18-49.

The highest-rated show of the night, by a sizable margin, was second-place CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” with a 5.4 average in the 18-49 demo, a 2% dip from last week. CBS’s “Two and a Half Men” came in with a 3.9, up 3%, while “Person of Interest” slipped 3% to a 2.9 and “Elementary” delivered a 2.3, even with a week ago.

ABC’s results were mixed, but the most troubling was a 21% plunge for the new drama “Zero Hour” from last week’s series premiere, leaving the show with a modest 1.1 average in 18-49. With “Grey’s Anatomy” up 7% to a 3.0 and “Scandal” holding steady with a 2.7, ABC had to settle for fourth place for prime time overall behind Univision.

NBC came in a distant fifth overall, in a tighter race with sixth-place CW than with the other broadcast nets. “Community” was down 8% from last week with a 1.1 average in viewers 18-49; “Parks and Recreation’s” first episode dropped 13% to a 1.3; and “1600 Penn” was off 9% to a 1.0 to cap off the night of historic lows.

The second episode of “Parks and Recreation” managed a 1.4 in the 18-49 demo, but that was well below the 2.0 delivered last week by the slot's usual occupant, “The Office.”

For prime time overall, Fox led the way in adults 18-49 with an average rating of 3.9, followed by CBS (3.3), Univision (2.5), ABC (2.2), NBC (1.2) and CW (0.9). The battle for total viewers was tight at the top, with CBS edging Fox -- 13.52 million to 13.50 million -- followed by ABC (7.2 million), Univision (5.8 million), NBC (3.2 million) and CW (2.2 million).

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Cameraman Seriously Injured on 'NCIS: Los Angeles' Set -- Third Major Accident This Year on a TV Shoot

A cameraman working on the CBS drama series “NCIS: Los Angeles” was seriously injured on the set Thursday night, Nellie Andreeva reports on Deadline.com.

“I’ve learned that a steadicam operator was pinned against something last night, suffering serious injuries,” Andreeva reported late this morning. “He is currently in the hospital. Production was shut down immediately following the accident.”

Production was set to resume today. As we reported earlier this month, an “NCIS: LA” spinoff is in the works starring John Corbett. Andreeva notes that the accident occurred during work on the backdoor pilot for the planted spinoff.

“This is the third major accident on a set of a TV show since the beginning of the year,” Andreeva notes. “In January, a stuntman suffered serious head injuries during filming of ABC’s series ‘Castle,’ with a guest actress also hurt. And two weeks ago, a helicopter pilot, a cameraman and a cast member died in a helicopter crash while filming a new reality TV series for Discovery Channel.”

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'3rd Rock' Star Joins Chuck Lorre's New CBS Comedy

Chuck Lorre is loading up on talent for his new CBS sitcom project. Deadline.com reports that the multicamera project, “Mom,” has added French Stewart, best known for his long run on “3rd Rock from the Sun.”

“The project, which Lorre co-wrote with Eddie Gorodetsky and Gemma Baker, stars Anna Faris as Christy, a newly sober single mom who tries to pull her life together in Napa Valley,” Deadline reports.

Stewart will appear in the pilot as Chef Rudy, the quick-to-anger chef at a fancy Napa Valley eatery.

Also on board are Allison Janney and Nate Coddry.

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Costume Designers Awards a Loose, Fitting Affair

Hollywood managed to squeeze into one more awards gala before the Oscars -- the Costume Designers Guild Awards, held Tuesday at the Beverly Hilton.

Let TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin take you inside the event many consider the most fun and loose of the guild presentations -- click here for the star-studded scoop.

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Gloria Allred's Daughter Joins 'Today'

NBC’s “Today” show has hired Lisa Bloom, the daughter of high-profile attorney Gloria Allred, as a legal analyst, reports TVNewser.

Bloom is a lawyer and author with a Los Angeles-based law practice, The Bloom Firm, which focuses on family, civil and criminal cases.

She is a well-known presence on TV, having hosted Court TV’s “Lisa Bloom: Open Court” from 2001-2009.

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Lisa Bloom

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Have Networks Come Up With an Answer to DVRs?

Network television, hit hard by time-shifted viewing on DVRs, is reportedly placing renewed emphasis on what it sees as a possible solution to the problem: live programming.

The Hollywood Reporter calls the trend “the eventization of TV.” The publication notes: “With nearly half of viewers now watching scripted comedies and dramas on a delay, sports, late-night talkers and awards shows might be the last frontier for big ratings.”

The report adds: “At a time when nearly half of all U.S. homes have DVRs, networks are shelling out an estimated $7 billion for rights to air NFL games, awards shows are popping up all over the dial, and there doesn’t seem to be a major cable network that isn’t exploring a foray into topical late-night.”

As an example, the piece cites CBS’s announcement a week ago that it is investing in Mark Cuban’s fledgling cable venture AXS, which is focused on live programming.

“Advertisers, too, are clamoring for such opportunities in a fractured, ad-skipping environment, shelling out $444 million on awards shows and live nonsports events in 2012, up 22 percent compared with five years ago, according to Kantar Media,” the story reports. It adds that 30-second spots in this year’s Oscars have sold for as much as $1.8 million.

E! President Suzanne Kolb is among those “chasing live,” the report notes. Says Kolb: “There’s a real hunger for that [live] experience, which in some ways has been further fueled by the growth of DVR.

Adds Cuban: “In today’s world of social media, live TV starts the conversation that lives on Twitter and other social networks.”

“Style network this year will debut a live fashion and advice show, ‘Pop Style,’ and the cable late-night landscape continues to swell,” THR reports. “FX has a new live iteration of ‘BrandX With Russell Brand’ as well as ‘Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell.’ Bravo has added a Kathy Griffin offering and expanded ‘Watch What Happens Live’ to a Sunday-through-Thursday strip. TBS is developing companion efforts for ‘Conan,’ and E! tried (and failed) with the ‘Chelsea Lately’ complement ‘Love You, Mean It With Whitney Cummings.’”

The piece notes the success of AMC’s “Talking Dead,” a live recap show about “The Walking Dead,” which attracted 4.1 million viewers for its Feb. 10 episode and has been expanded to a full hour for the remaining episodes this season.

Joel Stillerman, executive VP of original programming at AMC, said: “There’s an energy that comes from [live] that is hard to define. The whole idea is to create an event atmosphere. There’s something that is just a little better and a little more energetic when you’re counting down to a live broadcast.”

AMC may add something along the same lines associated with its series “Breaking Bad,” the piece notes.

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One TV Show Is So Popular That Even the Announcement of Where the Trailer for Its Upcoming Season Will Air Makes Headlines

The announcement that the trailer for a popular television series’ new season is about to be unveiled has been picked up by the media, an indication of the show’s popularity.

The show is HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that the full 60-second trailer for the third season of the fantasy series will debut in late-night, during tonight's episode of "Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

"I am so excited about this trailer, even I might watch my show," Kimmel said in a statement.

Kimmel has had many of the HBO show's stars on his ABC program, including Emilia Clarke and Lena Headey. He has also expressed an appetite for fantasy and science-fiction TV on his program, the story notes.

“The new season is set to premiere March 31 and is expected to adapt the first half of ‘A Storm of Swords,’ the third book in George R.R. Martin's bestselling fantasy series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire,’" the Times reports. “HBO has itself covered in case more ‘Thrones’ fans are Leno or Letterman people; the 60-second trailer will appear on YouTube immediately after its broadcast debut.”

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Host of the Longest-Running Program on TV Receives 'Long-Term Commitment' From NBC

A veteran newsman has received what NBC News described as a “long-term commitment,” ensuring he will be back as host of one of the division’s signature shows. The Associated Press reports that the network renewed the contract of David Gregory, the host of "Meet the Press.”

NBC News didn't disclose the details of the contract. Gregory, 42, started as the host of the Sunday morning show in December 2008, succeeding the late Tim Russert, the story notes.

He's the 10th permanent host of the show, which first aired in 1947 and is the longest-running program on TV. Gregory has been with NBC News since 1995, serving as the network’s chief White House correspondent during the George W. Bush presidency.

He said his first four years at “Meet the Press” have gone fast. Calling the new pact “a great vote of confidence from NBC," Gregory added: "In some ways, it feels like we're just getting started."

He said he intends to continue hosting the show "for as long as they'll let me."

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David Gregory

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NBC Website Hacked

Security experts were warning Thursday afternoon that consumers might want to avoid visiting NBC.com, after hackers broke into the site early in the day in an attack that apparently made it possible for visitors' computers to be infected with malware, reports TheWrap.com.

The site was back up Thursday afternoon, but the online security firm SurfRight warned in a blog post that the malware, which it identified as the Citadel Trojan, is used in "banking fraud and cyber-espionage." The post also noted that Facebook was preventing posts to NBC.com.

An NBC spokeswoman said the company was investigating the hacking.

“A number of prominent websites have been hacked in recent weeks,” TheWrap notes. “A New York Times report in January detailing apparent Chinese hackers infiltrating its internal systems prompted a sudden uptick in hacking, or at least in companies admitting to being hacked.”

The piece notes that both Twitter and Facebook have reported significant hacking incidents this month.

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Singer Books Fifth Appearance as Host of 'Saturday Night Live'

NBC's "Saturday Night Live" will have a familiar face back as host and musical guest on its March 9 episode. Making his fifth hosting appearance on the show will be singer Justin Timberlake, TVGuide.com reports.

The appearance is slated for 10 days before Timberlake releases his new album, "The 20/20 Experience," the story notes. Timberlake will also appear on NBC's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" each night during the week of March 11, performing a song each evening and being interviewed on the Monday and Friday shows.

“Saturday Night Live” is set to return March 2, with Kevin Hart as host and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis as musical guests.

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Soledad O'Brien, Exiting Her Anchor Job, Says Show Didn't Get a 'Ton of Support' From CNN

Soledad O'Brien, who is leaving her CNN anchor role on "Starting Point" but will work on documentaries in partnership with the cable network, said her show didn't receive "a ton of support and didn’t get a ton of marketing and a ton of promotions," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

O'Brien said that despite the limitations, the program was able to push stories forward during the 2012 election.

"We had a staff of people, we never were fully staffed, where we were able to -- in spite of not getting a lot of support -- really make our show relevant," she said. "To do that, that was pretty tremendous."

O'Brien noted one thing she won’t miss about the show: "I will not miss getting up that early -- I cannot lie -- not for a minute.”

Asked about the possibility of appearing on-camera for other networks, O’Brien said: "I certainly could. I have not specifically taken any questions about that. No one has asked me to do that. And right now I would love to get what I’m doing [her production company] under way. ... It would really, again, depend on what the offer is. ... Theoretically, absolutely."

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Soledad O'Brien

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Pat Derby, Animal Trainer for 'Lassie' and 'Flipper' -- and Pioneering Hollywood Animal Rights Advocate -- Dies at 69

Pat Derby, an animal trainer who worked on shows such as "Lassie" and "Flipper," has died, reports The New York Times. She was 69.

Derby, who died of cancer, was one of the earliest animal rights advocates to work on behalf of performing animals, including exotic species such as lions and monkeys.

In 1984 she founded the Performing Animals Welfare Society and opened her first sanctuary, outside Sacramento. Later, she opened a second one in San Andreas, Calif., which the article says has become a "sort of retirement community for more than 100 exotic animals, most of them former film or circus performers, survivors of roadside zoos and former pets whose owners could no longer handle them."

Derby trained animals for TV in the 1960s and 1970s, working on shows including "Gentle Ben," whose title character was a bear, and "Gunsmoke." She also worked on commercials in the 1970s, including one ad for Lincoln-Mercury that featured actress Farrah Fawcett with two cougars, the story adds.

After she published her 1976 memoir, "The Lady and Her Tiger," in which she revealed that neglect and abuse of animals was routine in Hollywood, she said work dried up. "I never ate lunch in that town again,” she told The Los Angeles Times in 1995, the story notes.

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Pat Derby on her animal sanctuary

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Animation in the Future -- and Past -- for 'Up All Night' Creator

20th Century Fox Television has signed a two-year overall deal with "Up All Night' creator Emily Spivey, reports Deadline.com, noting that her first assignment under the pact will be working as a co-executive producer on the studio's "Murder Police," an animated show for Fox.

Spivey worked on the animated show "King of the Hill" early in her career, the piece adds.

She will work on current series and develop new projects for the studio.

"20th TV has been successful cultivating female writing talent and getting comedy series by female creators on the air," the article notes, citing "New Girl’s" Elizabeth Meriwether and “Don’t Trust the B----‘s” Nahnatchka Khan, among others.

Spivey’s NBC show "Up All Night" has collapsed since her departure, the story notes. At one point NBC wanted to remake it into a multicamera sitcom, but co-star Christina Applegate quit and co-star Will Arnett this week signed on for a pilot in second position, the piece adds. The show’s Maya Rudolph, meanwhile, has been flooded with offers.

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After Notching FX's Most-Watched Series Debut in History, the Network Orders Another Season

FX has ordered a second season of the series that recently set a record for the cable channel’s most-watched series debut.

EW.com's Inside TV reports that the channel ordered a 13-episode second season of the drama "The Americans." The series still has nine episodes yet to air in its freshman season.

The series premiere set an FX record with 5.11 million viewers. Set in 1981 -- soon after the election of Ronald Reagan as president -- the show stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as two KGB spies who are posing as a married American couple in suburban Washington, D.C.

The show will end its current season on May 1.

In a statement, FX Chief John Landgraf said: “The Americans has quickly established itself as a key part FX’s acclaimed drama lineup. ... The show is truly worthy of its widespread critical acclaim and we are confident that its quality will continue to yield a robust and passionate audience.”

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New Sitcom From 'Cougar Town' Creator and 'Friends' Producer Moving Forward

A new comedy from "Scrubs" and "Cougar Town" creator Bill Lawrence and former "How I Met Your Mother" and "Friends" executive producer Greg Malins is having the finishing touches put on a pilot order from TBS, reports Deadline.com.

The project, "Ground Floor," will be directed by Gail Mancuso, the story says. It was first developed last season and received a pilot production commitment at CBS, but wasn't made.

"Ground Floor" is about a 29-year-old man in corporate America who realizes he's not as happy as he thought he was when he comes across his company's support staff, who are described as carefree and happy.

Lawrence and Malins might bring in an executive producer and showrunner because both are working on other projects: Lawrence on Fox's "I Suck at Girls" and NBC's "Undateable," and Malins on the CBS/Sony TV comedy "Jacked Up."

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Emmy Winner to Star Opposite Will Arnett in CBS Comedy

An Emmy-winning actress has been cast to play opposite “Up All Night's” Will Arnett in the new Greg Garcia comedy pilot at CBS, Deadline.com reports.

Margo Martindale, who won an Emmy in 2011 for her supporting role in the FX drama series “Justified,” joins the untitled project from Garcia, the creator of “Raising Hope” and “My Name Is Earl.”

The show, from CBS Studios, “centers on Jack (Arnett), a recently divorced guy whose life gets more complicated when his parents have marital problems of their own,” the story reports. “Martindale plays the mother, Carol, a vibrant but meddlesome and slightly controlling character who has to have her finger in every pie.”

The report notes: “Last season Martindale also was cast in a comedy pilot, ABC’s ‘Counter Culture,’ which was not completed after co-star Delta Burke sustained an injury on set.”

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Margo Martindale

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CNBC Buys 'Nightly Business Report'

CNBC has bought "Nightly Business Report" from the investment company Atalaya Capital Management and will start producing it from its New Jersey headquarters on March 4, reports Elizabeth Jensen in The New York Times' Media Decoder.

While the format will remain the same, CNBC's Tyler Mathiesen will anchor the show with Susie Gharib, the current co-anchor. Gharib is under contract through 2013. The remaining staff of 18 and co-anchor Tom Hudson will depart, the piece adds.

The purchase is "a good thing for the program and for the public television system," said Rick Schneider, the president of the Miami public station WPBT-TV, where the show is now based. "‘NBR’ has always lacked having a major news-gathering organization behind it.”

Jensen notes, "The purchase is the show’s third change of hands in less than three years. In August 2010, Mykalai Kontilai, an entrepreneur and former mixed martial arts manager, bought it from WPBT, which founded the show in 1979 before the era of 24-hour cable business news. Atalaya Capital Management, Mr. Kontilai’s backer, took over in November 2011, after few of Mr. Kontilai’s ambitious expansion plans were achieved."

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Pioneer TV Producer, Whose Career Spanned 7 (!) Decades, Dies at 90. Stars and Personalities He Worked With Range From Ernie Kovacs and Steve Allen to Arsenio Hall and Terry Bradshaw

A pioneering producer who actively worked in TV from  the late 1940s until the early 2000s has died at age 90.

His name was Milt Hoffman, and he was born in Los Angeles in 1922.

The first producing credit we could find for Hoffman was for a show called "Hometown Jamboree" that was produced on KLAC-TV in Los Angeles in 1949. The call letters after the "K" stood  for Los  Angeles, Calif. The station was later bought by the Copley Press and that publishing  company changed the call letters of the station to KCOP, also known -- then, as now -- as Channel 13 in L.A.

The following comes from the press release Hoffman's family released about him:

"Milt’s producing credits included, 'Take A Good Look,' 'The Ernie Kovacs Show,' 'The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show,' 'Steve Allen’s Playhouse,' 'Groovy,' 'The Real Don Steele Show,' 'Carter Country,' 'What’s Happening!!,' 'After George,' 'Sanford Arms,' 'The Alan Thicke Show,' 'Fantasy!,' 'Solid Gold,' 'Disney’s Golden Anniversary Of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,' 'The Arsenio Hall Show,' 'Home Team with Terry Bradshaw' and, in  2001, 'The Entertainment Industry Council’s 5th Annual Prism Awards,' to name just a few.

"Since 2006, Milt had been living at the Motion Picture & Television Fund's Country Home in Woodland Hills, Calif., a retirement community for Hollywood's former actors, cameramen, and executives.

"While there, Milt acted as a consultant to their closed-circuit senior television station, Channel 22, which provides MPTF residents with a unique opportunity to create original programing for their community. Shows are broadcast throughout the grounds, into cottages and rooms, as well as to a YouTube page for families of residents and for the public to enjoy. Milt also enjoyed attending poetry classes, led by the likes of comedian Shelley Berman, who plays Larry David's father on HBO's 'Curb Your Enthusiasm.'

"Hoffman passed away, of natural causes, on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, at the age of 90. [He would have been 91 on April 25.]  

"He is survived by his two children, Candy and Craig."

There will be no public funeral. The family says a memorial/remembrance will be announced at a future time.

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[Thanks to Milt's friend Kevin Gershan, a producer/director for "Entertainment Tonight" and "The Insider," for  this snapshot of Hoffman.]

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Oscar Winner to Star in CBS Comedy Pilot

CBS has got an Academy Award-winning actress to star in one of its comedy pilots. 

She won an Oscar in 1995 as Best Supporting Actress and is the daughter of a famous actor.

"Mira Sorvino is returning to her comedy roots (she won an Oscar for Woody Allen’s 'Mighty Aphrodite') with a starring role opposite Jim Gaffigan in his CBS comedy pilot," writes our friend Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

The story continues, "Written by Gaffigan and Peter Tolan (the two co-wrote the story, and Tolan wrote the script), the project centers on Jim (Gaffigan), a guy who lives with his wife Jeannie (Sorvino) and five kids in a 2-bedroom New York apartment. Sorvino’s Jeannie is a super-wife and super-mom. The mother of five kids, she has a sixth child in the house: her husband Jim."

Andreeva adds, "Sony Pictures TV and Fedora are producing, with Gaffigan, Tolan, Michael Wimer and Alex Murray executive producing."

Mira Sorvino is the daughter of actor Paul Sorvino.

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NBC to Finish Fifth in Sweeps for First Time in History

NBC, which has been in a miserable ratings slump, is about to notch another unpleasant milestone as the network is projected to finish the February sweeps period in fifth place for the first time in history, Deadline.com reports.

The Peacock will finish with an average in the key adults 18-49 demo that places it not only behind its three main English-language rivals -- CBS, ABC and Fox -- but also behind Spanish-language broadcaster Univision, the piece reports.

“That’s a crushing blow for NBC, which went from flying high in November with a sweep win to its shows cratering and ratings plunging,” Deadline’s Dominic Patten writes. “From the beginning of the February sweep on January 31 through February 19, NBC has averaged a 1.2 rating among adults 18-49. That’s below the 1.5 that Univision has been averaging so far over the 20 nights of the sweep period. In fact, Univision has bested NBC every singe night of the sweep so far among adults 18-49 and is poised to overtake NBC for its first fourth-place sweep finish in the demo.”

Univision has had its moments in the past against the Big 4, including beating CBS for a full month in July 2010 and again in July 2012, the piece notes. But this month marks the first time Univision has beaten NBC, and it's Univision's first fourth-place finish in an in-season sweeps period.

“In addition to Univision, NBC also ranks below the 1.7 18-49 rating that ABC has been averaging this sweep, as well as the 2.0 rating for Fox and the 4.9 rating for leader CBS, which of course is buoyed by its broadcast of the Super Bowl on February 3 and the Grammy Awards on February 10,” Patten writes.

A recent lowlight for NBC was the series debut of “Do No Harm” on Jan. 31, which produced the lowest rating ever for an in-season scripted series premiere. “The dismal 0.9/3 of the premiere fell 22% to 0.7/2 on February 7, leading to the series’ swift cancellation,” Patten writes. “The White House comedy ‘1600 Penn’ is probably not far behind, having hit a weak 1.1/3 in its last airing February 7. Adding to NBC’s woes, the Season 2 return of ‘Smash’ was a train wreck. With a limp 1.1/3 rating, it returned down 71% from its Season 1 debut and 39% from its first-year finale -- and it fell another 25% to a series low of 0.9/2 this week.”


NBC should get some help when “The Voice” returns March 25 and when “Revolution” -- one of only a handful of freshman success stories this season -- comes back.

The piece notes: “NBC actually won last year’s February sweep with an average rating of 3.7, when the network was fuelled by carrying the Super Bowl and the strong start of ‘The Voice.’”

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'Latin American Idol' Winner in Heroin Bust

A former winner of “Latin American Idol” was arrested Wednesday night, reportedly with heroin in her possession, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Dominican singer Martha Heredia, 22, who won the 2009 edition of the show in Argentina, was reportedly nabbed at the Cibao international airport in the Dominican city of Santiago. She was reportedly on her way to New York.

“Local media reported the artist was found with 1.8 kg of heroin stashed inside the heels of her shoes and other similar clothes she was carrying in her luggage,” THR reports. “Heredia won the 4th season of Latin American Idol in Argentina in 2009, and was welcomed back to her home country by Dominican President Leonel Fernandez.”

"Mrs. Heredia is being transferred to the headquarters of the National Drug Control Office in Santo Domingo for questioning, before she is returned to Santiago so the local district attorney’s office can file charges against her," said Roberto Lebron, spokesman for the drug agency, speaking to local TV networks.

Heredia made news last year when she told local media members that the show was a fraud, saying she had been promised international tours that never materialized.

“Ever since winning the LatAm version of the popular TV show, Heredia has had a share of legal troubles, including a lawsuit she filed against her husband, singer Vakero, who is now in custody for abusing Heredia physically and psychologically,” the piece notes.

Heredia is quoted as writing on her Twitter account at the time: "I’m tired of taking in the beating and the insults, and the justice here is no good because they were paid off to leave while I was being abused.”

THR adds: “Heredia was also involved in a car accident in 2010 when she was driving from Santo Domingo to her hometown, Santiago. A 16-year-old Haitian boy died in the accident, for which Heredia was sued by the victim’s family.”

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Martha Heredia

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Robin Roberts' Return Spikes 'GMA' Numbers

Robin Roberts’ return to the desk of ABC’s “Good Morning America” after almost six months away from the show produced a spike in viewer numbers for the program, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The show had 6.1 million viewers, based on preliminary numbers, its largest audience in more than three months -- just behind the turnout for the Nov. 7 show, the morning after the presidential election.

“Roberts had taken time off following a bone marrow transplant to treat a rare blood disorder,” the report notes. “And while the ABC News vet had made several taped appearances and cameos during her recovery, Wednesday marked her official return to work. The show had been promoting the comeback.”

Its number in the key 25-54 demo was 2.28 million, also the show’s best number since Nov. 7. “GMA” topped its chief rival, NBC’s “Today,” by just 36,000 viewers in the demo, but had a wide margin of victory in total viewers, beating “Today” by 1.188 million, the piece reports.

“The last time GMA won by that much was the morning after the ‘Dancing With the Stars’ finale (Nov. 28), which always gives ABC a boost,” THR reports. “For the week ‘Today’ is faring better than ‘GMA’ in the key demo, averaging 75,000 more adults 25-54.”

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Viewer Erosion Continues for Fox's 'Idol,' With Lowest Demo Number in More Than 10 Years

Fox’s singing competition “American Idol” continued to see its viewer numbers slip Wednesday night, but the show still had enough strength to win the night, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the two-hour installment of “Idol” registered a 4.1 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, dipping 5% from a week ago. It was the show’s lowest Wednesday result in the demo since at least July 10, 2002.

It was also enough to push Fox to a comfortable win for prime time overall. Fox’s 4.1 average in viewers 18-49 topped CBS (2.5 average), ABC (2.1), Univision (1.6) and NBC (1.5). Fox also won total viewers, averaging 14.2 million to 10.2 million for CBS, 6.8 million for ABC, 5.1 million for NBC and 3.9 million for Univision.

ABC had prime time’s second-highest-rated show in adults 18-49, with “Modern Family” averaging a 3.9, up 3% from last week. Also up on ABC were “The Middle,” climbing 16% from last week’s season low to a 2.2, and “The Neighbors,” rising 12% to a 1.9. “Suburgatory” was down 5% to a 2.0, while the special “20/20: Mad About Oscar” managed only a 1.3, down 28% from “Nashville’s” number in the time slot last week.

CBS had mixed results, with “Survivor” rising 4% from the premiere a week ago to a 2.5 in 18-49 and “CSI” up 21% from last week’s series low to a 2.3, while “Criminal Minds” dipped 4% from its previous original to a 2.7, equaling its series low.

NBC’s best result came from “Chicago Fire,” which held steady with last week in delivering a 1.9 in viewers 18-49. “Law & Order: SVU” ticked up 13% to a 1.7, while “Whitney” and “Guys With Kids” both delivered 1.1 averages. For “Whitney” that number tied its series low, while “Guys” was up 10% from last week’s series low.

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New 'Path to PAR' Report Spotlights Leadership Development at Top Companies for Women in Cable

Women in Cable Telecommunications today announced the release of its "Path to PAR" report, which spotlights leadership development practices at the companies identified as the best for women in cable in the organization’s 2011 Pay equity, Advancement opportunities and Resources for work/life support (PAR) Survey.

The report is available for download from the group’s website.

The report features case studies and individual profiles from the 2011 PAR survey's top five MSOs and programmers. The 2011 Best Operators for Women in Cable are Time Warner Cable; Cox Communications, Inc.; Comcast; Bright House Networks; and Suddenlink Communications.

The 2011 Best Programmers for Women in Cable are NBCUniversal; Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.; Scripps Networks Interactive; Discovery Communications; and ESPN.

Parthavi Das, WICT's SVP & Chief of Staff, who has served as the PAR staff liaison since its launch, said in a statement: "For 10 years, PAR has documented notable advancements for women. Path to PAR provides an opportunity for the PAR Best Companies to highlight their efforts to create a pipeline of talented women leaders, while serving as a model for other companies."

The organization noted in a press release: “Since 2009, the PAR survey has been conducted biennially, and in the period between surveys WICT provides resources and materials to assist companies with honing their diversity and inclusion tactics. The latest report examines the best practices and programs that cable companies have in place to prepare their employees to be the leaders of tomorrow, including the use of WICT programs to augment their own efforts. The goal is to help the industry stay ahead of other industries in terms of providing opportunities for women.”

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A Legendary Broadcaster Hangs Up the Mic

A broadcasting fixture announced Wednesday that he is retiring from broadcasting. Reuters reports that veteran sports and television personality Joe Garagiola is hanging up the microphone.

“Garagiola, 87, who made his Major League debut with his hometown team, the St. Louis Cardinals, in 1946 and ended his baseball career nine seasons later with the New York Giants, embarked on a much longer broadcasting career in 1955,” Reuters reports. “He began calling Cardinal radio broadcasts on KMOX that year and went on to a nearly three-decade association with NBC starting in 1961, making his mark as a commentator for the network's baseball game of the week broadcasts into the 1980s.”

Garagiola also made the leap from sports to news and entertainment, with a couple of stints as a panelist on NBC’s “Today” show, from 1967-1973 and again from 1990-1992.

“During the 1960s and ‘70s, he filled in for Johnny Carson as an occasional guest host of NBC's ‘Tonight Show’ and presented various game shows, including ‘He Said, She Said,’ ‘Joe Garagiola's Memory Game,’ ‘To Tell the Truth’ and ‘Strike It Rich,’” the story reports.

He has been a part-time analyst for the Arizona Diamondbacks since 1998.

Speaking at news conference at the Diamondbacks’ spring training site in Scottsdale, Ariz., Garagiola said: "I really appreciate everything that has happened to me. I don't deserve a lot things that happened to me, but I remember Jack Benny said he had arthritis, and he didn't deserve that either."

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Joe Garagiola

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Actor's New CBS Job Deals Another Blow to Struggling NBC Series

An NBC series that has already suffered a series of setbacks received another piece of bad news as one of its stars landed another job. Deadline.com reports that Will Arnett, a co-star of NBC's "Up All Night," will play the lead in CBS's untitled Greg Garcia pilot.

The casting comes with "Up All Night" not yet officially canceled, but it is widely believed that the show won't be moving forward. Co-star Christina Applegate announced her departure earlier this month, throwing the series into turmoil. The cast hasn't yet been released, the piece adds.

Formally, Arnett’s new job is in second position to “Up All Night,” the report notes. The actor has been wooed by a number of projects since Applegate’s departure.

The project from Garcia -- who created “Raising Hope” and “My Name Is Earl” -- is about a recently divorced man who is also involved in his parents’ marital problems, the report notes.

"Up All Night" co-star Maya Rudolph has also been approached for pilots, with NBC's Sean Hayes comedy among the projects expressing interest, the story says.

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Will Arnett

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'A Different World' Actor Dead at 77

One of the stars of the comedy series “A Different World,” which was a fixture on NBC in the late 1980s and early 1990s, has died. TMZ.com reports that Lou Myers, who played Vernon Gaines on the sitcom, died Tuesday at 77.

Myers reportedly died at the Charleston Medical Center in West Virginia after a heart-related emergency.

“Lou was hospitalized in December for pneumonia but released after New Year's. He collapsed at home a few weeks later and was hospitalized again,” the story reports. “Lou's heart stopped [Tuesday]. Doctors were able to revive him, but he fell into a coma and passed just hours later.”

Myers’ career included appearances on the stage and in movies along with TV. Among his film appearances were roles in “The Wedding Planner,” “The Fighting Temptations,” “Tin Cup” and “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.”

“A Different World,” a spinoff from “The Cosby Show,” ran for six seasons on NBC, from 1987-1993. Myers joined the series in its second season and remained a regular for the rest of the show’s run.

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Lou Myers

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After Success With 'Killing Lincoln,' Bill O'Reilly Has His Next Killer Subject

Bill O'Reilly has come up with a successful franchise with his "Killing" books, with "Killing Lincoln" being turned into a Nat Geo TV movie and "Killing Kennedy" also optioned for a TV movie.

Now, reports TVNewser, O'Reilly has picked his next killer subject: "Killing Jesus." The book "will tell the story of Jesus of Nazareth as a beloved and controversial young revolutionary brutally killed by Roman soldiers," his publisher, Macmillan, said.

"Given the history, look for 'Killing Jesus' to appear on Nat Geo come 2015," the story notes.

Said O’Reilly: “Jesus Christ has not walked among us physically for more than two thousand years, yet his presence today is felt the world over and his spirit is worshipped by more than 2.2 billion people. His teachings, his legacy, his life as a flesh-and-blood man, and his death created the world in which we live.”

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New York News Anchor Steps Down After Arrest, Denies Choking His Wife

A New York anchorman who was arrested last weekend and accused of choking his wife during a domestic dispute has resigned from his job, The New York Times reports.

Rob Morrison, 44, stepped down from his job anchoring the morning and noon news programs on WCBS-TV, the piece reports. His wife, Ashley Morrison, is a reporter for CBS MoneyWatch.

“Mr. Morrison’s decision came one day after he was arraigned and charged with strangulation, threatening and disorderly conduct,” the story reports. “He was released on bail, but a judge in Connecticut ordered that Mr. Morrison, 44, stay at least 100 yards away from his wife, except at work.”

In a statement, Rob Morrison said: “My family is my first and only priority right now, and I have informed CBS2 management that I need to put all of my time and energy into making sure that I do what’s best for my wife and my son. I very much appreciate the opportunity that CBS2 has given me, and I thank them for accepting my decision.”

Authorities said Rob Morrison’s mother-in-law called police early Sunday to report a problem at the couple’s home. In a statement, the Darien, Conn., Police Department said: “Upon arrival it was ascertained that Morrison had been becoming increasingly belligerent toward his wife during the course of the evening, culminating in his choking her by the neck with both hands.”

Officers reportedly saw red marks on Ashley Morrison’s neck.

The piece adds: “Mr. Morrison threatened within earshot of the responding officers ‘that if he was released from police custody he would kill his wife,’ according to court documents.”

Rob Morrison has denied assaulting his wife. Outside the courtroom where he was arraigned Tuesday, he said: “I did not choke my wife; I’ve never laid my hands on my wife. I was just as surprised by that particular charge as probably everyone else.”

ashley-and-rob-morrison.jpgAshley and Rob Morrison

 

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Fox Tweaks Its Prime-Time Schedule

Fox is tinkering with its prime-time lineup, moving a couple of shows to a new night in what is billed for now as a one-time-only experiment.

EW.com’s Inside TV reports that the Zooey Deschanel comedy "New Girl" will move from its Tuesday spot to Thursday, April 4, where it will air a new episode. A “New Girl” repeat will run in the show’s normal Tuesday slot at 9 p.m.

Mindy Kaling’s "The Mindy Project," meanwhile, will have two new episodes that week -- one in its usual spot on Tuesday, April 2, and a second new episode on Thursday, April 4.

“Original episodes of the two half-hour comedies will get ‘Glee‘s’ coveted 9 to 10 p.m. slot, right after a live episode of ‘American Idol,’” the report notes. “No new ‘Glee’ episode will be delayed as a result; a rerun was previously scheduled for that night.”

The report adds: “Though this Tuesday-to-Thursday shift is being billed as a special outing, it could be a good test for the network to consider when crafting next season’s schedule. The Thursday 9 p.m. slot will certainly look all the more attractive after ‘The Office‘s’ series finale this spring.”

The piece notes that at the start of the current season “New Girl” and “The Mindy Project” had to compete in a “comedy-packed hour” where they went up against ABC’s “Happy Endings” and “Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23“ and NBC’s “Go On” and “The New Normal.”

“Now things are a little less competitive, with ‘Apartment 23’ canceled and ‘Happy Endings’ moved to Fridays,” the piece notes. “But Fox may still be considering a new night for its comedies (the season finale of ‘Raising Hope’ will also air on a Thursday -- March 28 -- as previously announced).”

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Tyler Perry Severs Ties With Cable Network -- and He's Taking His Sitcom With Him

Tyler Perry is shifting allegiances -- ending his long-standing relationship with one cable network and strengthening his bond with his new partner, Oprah Winfrey.

The Los Angeles Times reports that “Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse" will move from TBS, where Perry has been providing programming for years, to Winfrey’s OWN cable network. Perry entered into an agreement last year to create new programs for OWN, as we reported back in October.

The comedy series will make the move this fall.

“The move of ‘For Better or Worse’ from TBS to OWN officially ends Perry's long-standing relationship with the Time Warner subsidiary,” the story reports. “Perry had created two other sitcoms for TBS -- ‘House of Payne’ and ‘Meet the Browns.’ Both of those shows are no longer in original production.”

Winfrey’s OWN previously announced two new Perry projects that are due to roll out in 2013: “Love Thy Neighbor,” a comedy, and “The Haves and the Have Nots,” a drama.

“Getting into business with Perry was seen as a big shift in strategy for OWN, which initially wanted to focus on lifestyle programming and reality fare,” the report notes.

In a statement, OWN President Erik Logan said: "'For Better or Worse' is a great addition to our growing lineup of scripted programming from Tyler."

 

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Comcast Implements New Policy on Gun Ads

Comcast Corp., the country’s largest cable operator, is changing its policy on gun ads in the wake of the school shootings in Newtown, Conn. The Los Angeles Times reports that Comcast’s cable systems “will stop accepting ads for guns or from retail outlets promoting gun sales.”

The new policy for the company’s cable systems is in line with the approach taken by Comcast’s entertainment unit NBCUniversal with its broadcast television stations, the report notes.

“This doesn't mean Comcast is going completely gun-free,” the story reports. “The NBC Sports Network, a cable channel, will continue to accept advertisements for weapons that are used for hunting, such as shotguns and rifles. However, NBC Sports Network will no longer accept ads for handguns, semi-automatic and automatic weapons and ammunition.”

The report adds: “Also gone from NBC Sports Network are a couple of shows that focused primarily on handguns, including ‘Guns & Gear.’

“But the hunting shows that have long been a part of the channel, such as ‘Winchester Whitetail Revolution,’ ‘Elk Fever’ and ‘The Buck Stops Here,’ will probably be back on later this year.”

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WE tv Orders Docuseries Focused on Olympian

WE tv has ordered a new docuseries focusing on a high-profile Olympic athlete. B&C reports that the cable network ordered six one-hour episodes of “Glam & Gold,” centered on Olympian Sanya Richards-Ross and her husband, NFL player Aaron Ross.

The series is set to premiere this summer.

“Sanya Richards-Ross is four-time Olympic gold medalist (including two at the 2012 London Games) and her husband Aaron Ross is a cornerback for the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars,” the report notes. “’Glam & Gold’ is being produced for WE tv by Good Clean Fun with executive producers Jason Carbone and Nick Lee. The executive producer for WE tv is Kate Farrell.”

Said Lauren Gellert, WE tv senior VP of production and development: "We are thrilled to have Sanya and Aaron join the WE tv family this summer. Sanya is incredible. She's a strong, independent, stylish woman, who's successful in career, marriage and family. Together with Aaron, this power couple is a great addition to the WE tv summer lineup following new seasons of ‘The Braxtons’ and ‘L.A. Hair.’"

sanya-richards-ross.jpgSanya Richards-Ross

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'Downton Abbey' Creator Explains How NBC Could Get in the Way of His Work Continuing on the PBS Series

The creator of the critically acclaimed ITV/PBS period drama “Downton Abbey” says he might have to cut back his work writing the series.

Julian Fellowes, who won an Oscar for his screenplay for “Gosford Park,” tells The New York Times he wouldn’t be able to continue writing the PBS “Masterpiece” series full time if NBC picks up another of his projects, "The Gilded Age." (Please note: the interview with Fellowes includes spoilers about the ending of "Downton’s” third season.)

Fellowes said he hasn’t yet written “Gilded.” “I’m going to, when ‘Downton’ finishes,” he said in the interview. “But there are many hurdles that have to be cleared. You have to write the pilot, they have to decide they’re going to make it, they have to decide whether they want to pick it up. So it’s a line of ditches that lies between me and the series. But if it goes, and if I’m doing a series at NBC, I would not be able to write all of ‘Downton’ and all of that series at the same time.”

Fellowes says he’s hoping the timing will enable him to focus on the new series. “If ‘Downton’ goes on -- of course that’s not my decision -- then it would be with other writers,” he said. “Perhaps with me supervising, but with other writers.”

Asked whether he could imagine "Downton Abbey" continuing without him, he said: "I think it would be funny. But in life, you no sooner say 'Oh, I’d never do such and such' than you find yourself strapped into a chair, doing it. There’s no point, really, in making pronouncements of absolutes. The only thing is, I know I would not be able to write 11 hours of 'Downton' and 10 hours of 'The Gilded Age,' or whatever it is, side by side."

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Just in Time for the Oscars, Discovery Spruces Up Its 'Argo' Documentary

With the Ben Affleck movie “Argo” generating much of the buzz in the runup to Sunday’s Oscars, Disovery Channel has spruced up its 2002 documentary detailing the real-life events behind the “Argo” story.

The channel will televise an updated version of “ARGO: Inside Story” Saturday, Feb. 23, at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The one-hour program is narrated by “Breaking Bad’s” Bryan Cranston, who also appears as CIA manager Jack O’Donnell in Affleck’s feature film “Argo.”

Affleck’s movie about a part of the Iran hostage crisis has been nominated for seven Academy Awards, including best picture, and has racked up a string of pre-Oscars honors.

The Discovery doc “gains access to the top players involved in the crisis to hear their side of the story, including the CIA's ‘chief of disguise,’ Tony Mendez, who was called upon to devise the rescue plan,” the network said. Its release adds that the program “gives an inside look at the dramatic escape and how Mendez forged identity documents and elaborate disguises to get past the security agents at the Tehran airport.”

“The CIA had to come up with a convincing reason for the six people being in Tehran in the first place, and devise a way for them to leave without arousing suspicion,” the release adds. “The operation became an elaborate scheme involving fake ID's, a phantom movie production and unprecedented cooperation between the United States and Canada.”

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Anderson Cooper Honored by GLAAD

CNN fixture Anderson Cooper, who officially came out as gay last year, will be honored by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization GLAAD, USA Today reports.

The organization “will present the journalist, author and talk-show host with the Vito Russo Award at the 24th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York on March 16, which will be hosted by ‘Good Morning America’ anchors Josh Elliott, Lara Spencer and Sam Champion,” the story reports.

The report adds: “Cooper has tackled multiple issues relevant to the LGBT community, including bullying of LGBT youth, families supporting their transgender children, the dangers of so-called ‘ex-gay conversion therapy,’ and soldiers forced to serve under ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell.’"

The award is presented to an openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality, the piece notes. Previous recipients include Ricky Martin, Rosie O'Donnell, Elton John and Nathan Lane.

 

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Breakthrough: Looks Like Nielsen Will Expand Its Definition of TV Viewing. 'The ratings company will roll out a system to measure broadband, Xbox and, in time, iPads, with more changes to come'

"The Nielsen Co. is expanding its definition of television and will introduce a comprehensive plan to capture all video viewing including broadband and Xbox and iPads, several sources tell The Hollywood Reporter."

So writes the THR's Alex Ben Block.

Block's story continues, "The decision to expand beyond traditional TV ratings measurement came out of a meeting in New York on Tuesday of the What Nielsen Measures Committee, a group that has been meeting for nearly a year. The committee is composed of representatives from major TV networks, local TV stations, cable TV networks, advertising agencies and some big brand advertisers."

Block notes that the recommendations that came out of the meeting are not binding upon Nielsen, but that "a source at one of the big four networks was ecstatic at the prospect of expanded measurement tools. The networks for years have complained that total viewing of their shows isn't being captured by traditional ratings measurements. This is a move to correct that."

To read more about the nuts and bolts about how Nielsen may accomplish this goal, please click on  the link above to read Block's insightful and detailed article.

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'Scary' Choice to Replace Sharon Osbourne as Judge on 'America's Got Talent'

According to a number of media outlets, NBC has confirmed its 'scary' choice to replace Sharon Osbourne as a judge on "America's Got Talent."

"Mel B, known as Scary Spice in the all-girl singing group [the Spice Girls], will join judges Howard Stern and Howie Mandel on 'Talent,' which has been summer's highest-rated network offering," reports USA Today.

The story adds that Mel B  "has previously served as a judge on the Australian version of 'The X Factor.' "

Osbourne announced last year that she was leaving 'Talent.' Both Mel B and Osbourne are British, the report notes.

mel-b.jpg                                                                                  Mel B

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All-Time Low for NBC Series on a Tough Night for the Peacock

On a night when NBC finished a distant fifth among the broadcast networks in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights, NBC’s “Smash” sank to its lowest number ever.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “Smash” was down 25% in viewers 18-49 from its season premiere two weeks ago, managing only a series-low 0.9 average rating and placing third in the 10 p.m. slot.

Elsewhere on NBC the numbers were also grim: Two episodes of “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” delivered the network’s best demo ratings of the night, a 1.3 in 18-49 (down 7% from the previous original episode) at 8 p.m. and a 1.4 (also down 7%) at 8:30. “Go On” was down 15% to a 1.1 and “The New Normal” fell 9% to a 1.0.

NBC wasn’t the only network with ratings problems. CW’s series premiere of “Cult” mustered only a 0.3 in the 18-49 demo, and ABC’s season debut for “Body of Proof” had to settle for a 1.2 -- equaling the show’s all-time low while plummeting 45% from the season premiere back in September 2011 and coming in 37% below the season finale back in April.

Fox was down across the board too, with “New Girl” registering a 15% drop from its previous original episode two weeks ago and settling for a 2.2 in adults 18-49. “The Mindy Project” sank 16% to a 1.6, and “Raising Hope” slipped 6% to a 1.5.

CBS couldn’t buck the downtrend, either, even while winning the night, as two of its three dramas were down. “NCIS” dipped 5% from its previous original episode two weeks ago to a 3.5 -- still the best number of the night in the 18-49 demo. “NCIS: Los Angeles” was down 13% to a 2.7, while “Vegas” held steady with a 1.5.

For prime time overall, CBS claimed an easy win with a 2.6 average rating in viewers 18-49, topping ABC (1.8), Fox (1.7), Univision (1.7), NBC (1.1) and CW (0.4). The margin was even greater in total viewers, where CBS led with 15.6 million to ABC’s 6.6 million, Univision’s 4.0 million, NBC’s 3.7 million, Fox’s 3.5 million and CW's 1.2 million.

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Oscars Host Seth MacFarlane Says He's 'The Wrong Guy' for the Job

Seth MacFarlane, who hosts the Academy Awards this Sunday, is making some unusual comments in what would normally be expected to be a time for generating interest in the ceremony. The Los Angeles Times reports that MacFarlane said “I’m the wrong guy to do this” in an interview with CNN.

He also reportedly said of his selection as host: “It’s a really bad match.”

The Times piece adds: “The raunchy-minded creative genius behind TV’s ‘Family Guy’ and ‘American Dad’ and the summer box office hit ‘Ted’ says the 85th annual Academy Awards on Sunday will be ‘a very thin-skinned room’ for his ribald sense of humor.”

Were MacFarlane’s comments said in jest? The piece offers an ambiguous conclusion: “MacFarlane was was joking, of course, in his comments to CNN. Or was he?”

Noting that MacFarlane is the first Oscars host since Charlton Heston in 1972 to read the nominations at the official announcement, which took place last month, the report points out: “MacFarlane’s comments were scathing, and included a Hitler joke and the portrayal of screenwriters and directors as lazy. This test run, if you will, for the Oscar show was immediately deemed a flop by Hollywood’s power players. (The rest of us? We were reminding ourselves to DVR the Oscars.)”

The host may have to walk a fine line during the ceremony, the piece notes. “If he goes easy on the single biggest night in Hollywood, he could be portrayed as a sellout. But if he lets loose on the A-list audience, he runs the risk of offending Hollywood’s elite just as he’s making the leap from TV to film.”

In his favor, the article notes, is “Ted’s” box-office success, with more than $535 million brought in internationally -- a point that ensures “he’ll likely always find an open door in Hollywood, somewhere,” the piece says.

One indication MacFarlane may not take the PC route: He wasn’t especially impressed by rave reviews for hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at the recent Golden Globes.

Said MacFarlane: “I thought they were fantastic. But they are also beloved by the press. ... There are certain people who have a kind of a carte blanche, ‘You’re awesome, we love you no matter what you do.’ That said, they were fantastic. But I wouldn’t know if they weren’t from reading the press.”

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Seth MacFarlane

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Disturbing Details Surface in Justin Bieber Murder Plot

Sordid details have surfaced in audio tapes of phone conversations in a murder plot against teen pop sensation Justin Bieber that made headlines back in December, E! Online reports.

“Police told ABC News' Albuquerque affiliate KOAT that inmate Dana Martin, who is doing time at the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility for the murder and rape of a 15-year-old girl, was the mastermind behind the plot,” the story reports. “According to police, Martin directed a former jailhouse friend in Vermont, Mark Staake, and Staake's nephew, Tanner Ruane, to carry out the kidnapping and murder, and asked Ruane in a taped conversation, ‘Did he go over the Bieber thing with you?’"

Ruane reportedly replied: "Nah. The way I like to work dude, I like to know as little as possible. He's gonna use one of the things you gave him, and then he's gonna take care of it."

Ruane adds: "We went and bought the hedge clippers. You're gonna give me 5 large ($5,000) for each one I get."

The report notes: “Police said that Ruane was instructed to castrate Bieber and his bodyguard with the clippers, and then suffocate them with a scarf.”

Martin is reportedly heard saying: "Tie it really tight, and that cuts off all the oxygen, and then tie it in the back again, really tight. That seals the deal."

“Luckily, before any of this could take place, Staake and Ruane were arrested by border patrol agents after making a wrong turn in to Canada,” the piece reports. “They, along with Martin, now face two counts each of conspiracy to commit murder and two counts each of conspiracy to commit aggravated battery.”

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ABC Slates Prime-Time Special on Robin Roberts' Journey

ABC announced plans for a special focusing on the battle of “Good Morning America” co-host Robin Roberts against the rare blood disorder myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Roberts returned this morning to her “GMA” job, five months after undergoing a bone marrow transplant to treat her MDS.

The one-hour special, “Robin’s Journey,” a special edition of “20/20,” airs Friday, Feb. 22, at 10 p.m. ET.

“The hour includes never-before-seen private moments beginning with the pre-transplant treatment, through her time in the hospital, to the ‘all clear’ moment to return to ‘GMA’ and many challenging times and milestones along the way,” ABC News announced.

Diane Sawyer will sit down for an interview with Roberts to reflect on the events of the past year. Also taking part in the special will be colleagues and friends including George Stephanopoulos, Sam Champion, Josh Elliott, Lara Spencer and Dr. Richard Besser.

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Robin Roberts

 

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Broadcasters to Honor CBS News Veteran

A veteran news broadcaster with CBS will receive the National Association of Broadcasters’ Distinguished Service Award. The organization announced today that the honor will be given to Bob Schieffer during the 2013 NAB Show.

Schieffer will accept the award at the opening keynote session April 8 in Las Vegas, the organization announced.

NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith said in a statement: “For more than 50 years, Bob Schieffer has been an eyewitness to history’s biggest stories and respected as a preeminent journalist of his generation. In recognition of his dedication and profound impact on journalism, we are proud to present him with the Distinguished Service Award.”

NAB notes in its release: “Each year the NAB DSA recognizes members of the broadcast community who have made significant and lasting contributions to broadcasting. Previous award recipients include Michael J. Fox, Mary Tyler Moore, President Ronald Reagan, Edward R. Murrow, Bob Hope, Walter Cronkite, Oprah Winfrey and Charles Osgood, among others.”

The release adds: “2013 marks Schieffer’s 56th year as a reporter and his 44th year at CBS News. He is one of the few broadcast or print journalists to have covered all four major beats in the nation’s capital -- the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department and Capitol Hill. Schieffer has also moderated three presidential debates.”

Schieffer has moderated CBS’s newsmaker show “Face the Nation” since 1991, and anchored the “CBS Evening News” in 2005 and 2006. He has been CBS News’ chief Washington correspondent since 1982.

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Crew Members Walk Off the Job in Dispute With Reality Show

The editorial crew has walked off the job on a popular reality show after the Motion Picture Editors Guild told its members not to work for the show, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The show is History’s “Swamp People,” which is produced by the Endemol subsidiary Original Media.

In a post on its website the guild cites “unfair labor practice ... unlawfully interfer(ing) with employees' rights under the National Labor Relations Act by interrogating employees about union organizing activity.”

“It’s not clear from the post whether the union, which operates as IATSE Local 700, has filed an Unfair Labor Practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board,” THR reports. “The post also instructs ‘members and potential members’ of the union not to service the production until further notice and asks that people email the guild if they learn of attempts to replace the striking members.”

IATSE has been trying to organize workers on unscripted shows, the piece notes, and has approached it one show at a time. “In the past year, the effort has resulted in agreements with Profiles Entertainment (TNT’s ‘The Great Escape’) and Electus (NBC’s ‘Fashion Star’), among others,” the story reports.

The piece notes that the Writers Guild of America “sought blanket jurisdiction over reality as a negotiating point in the 2007-08 writers strike, but that level of union coverage proved to be a nonstarter.”

Requests for comments from the Editors Guild and the production company were not answered, the report notes.

 

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HBO Pulls Plug on James Gandolfini Project

James Gandolfini’s anticipated prime-time follow-up to “The Sopranos” is dead at HBO. Deadline.com reports that HBO -- where Gandolfini made a lasting impression as Tony Soprano -- has decided not to move forward with the Gandolfini vehicle "Criminal Justice."

The pay-TV network passed on the drama pilot, which was written by Oscar nominee Richard Price and directed by Oscar-winning writer Steven Zaillian, the story notes. The project, a crime drama set in New York, was roughly based on the 2008 BBC series with the same name.

“The decision comes on the heels of HBO greenlighting Damon Lindelof’s drama ‘Leftovers’ to pilot,” the report notes. “The network also has hourlong pilot ‘Missionary,’ which is still casting, and straight-to-series drama ‘True Detective’ starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey.”

 

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Popular Late-Night Host to Emcee Annual White House Correspondents Bash

The emcee has been named for the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, and the gig will go to a popular late-night TV host. TheWrap.com reports that Conan O’Brien has been picked for the high-profile spot.

The selection was announced on Twitter by Fox News Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry, who is the president of the White House Correspondents Association, the story reports.

The report notes: “O'Brien previously spoke at the 1995 dinner, where he read a special announcement for viewers watching on CSPAN: ‘For God's sake, it's Saturday night. Go outside, meet a woman. C'mon. There are things you can do.’"

“The dinner is occasionally a place of drama as well as laughs,” TheWrap adds. “President Obama used the 2011 dinner to belittle Donald Trump's suggestions that he was born outside the United States. Just hours later, Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden.”

The selection of O’Brien continues a tradition of naming late-night hosts to emcee the event. The piece notes that Jimmy Kimmel was the event’s host last year.

The dinner is scheduled for April 27.

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Is WWE Beating Up the Tea Party? WWE Stands Behind Controversial Wrestling Storyline

World Wrestling Entertainment is under fire from conservatives who say a wrestler and his manager are bashing the Tea Party with their immigrant-bashing personas, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The complaints started a week ago on "Monday Night Raw," when wrestler Jack Swagger called his manager Zeb Colter into the ring to talk to the crowd about "true patriotism," the story says.

According to conservative site Breitbart.com, the pair in other promotional videos are heard "talking about freeloading immigrants and welfare recipients in front of the Gadsden flag, which has become symbolic of the Tea Party movement."

For its part, WWE appears to be sticking with its scripts, calling the characters part of a storyline that reflects current events.

"To create compelling and relevant content for our audience, it is important to incorporate current events into our storylines," WWE Senior VP of Marketing and Communications Brian Flinn is quoted as saying. "WWE is creating drama centered on a topical subject that has varying points of view to develop a rivalry between two characters."

Flinn added: "This storyline in no way represents WWE’s political point of view."

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Crisis for Broadcast Nets? Veteran Shows Struggling to Hold Viewers

Much of the coverage of the current television season has focused on the lack of new hit shows on the broadcast networks, but TV writer Joe Flint reports in the Los Angeles Times that veteran series are also struggling.

“So far this season, only a handful of returning programs are doing better than they were last season. CBS's ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ NBC's ‘Grimm’ and ABC's ‘Shark Tank’ are members of that club,” Flint writes. “At CBS, shows that have declined from last season in viewers and the 18-49 demographic include ‘Two Broke Girls,’ ‘The Mentalist’ and ‘Hawaii Five-0.’ NBC's ‘Law & Order: SVU’ and ‘Parks & Recreation’ are down as well. At ABC, ‘Once Upon a Time’ has seen double-digit declines, as has Fox's ‘New Girl.’"

Flint notes that the latest airings of CBS’s “The Good Wife” and CW’s “Beverly Hills 90210” produced all-time lows in the ratings for both series.

Admittedly, the numbers don’t take into account the growing acceptance of nonlinear viewing platforms -- DVR, Internet and VOD. “But odds are that even with ancillary viewing factored in, the ratings would still be lower,” Flint writes. “This has to be of concern to the broadcast networks, especially if new shows are not emerging to pick up the slack.”

Only one network -- NBC -- is up this season in both total viewers and adults 18-49, Flint notes. “However, that was primarily in the fall when ‘The Voice’ was on,” he writes. “CBS, which is first in both categories, is down 4% in viewers and 13% in adults 18-49. ABC is off 7% in viewers and 8% in 18-49, while Fox has fallen 18% in both categories. The CW is up 3% in viewers but down 13% in the 18-49 category.”

New programs, meanwhile, aren’t doing much to help turn things around. “Indeed, while a few shows such as CBS's ‘Elementary’ and Fox's ‘The Following’ are posting some decent numbers, there have been far more flops in the fall and midseason,” Flint writes. “Recent casualties include NBC's ‘Do No Harm’ and CBS's ‘The Job.’ Among other disappointments from earlier this season are Fox's ‘Ben and Kate’ and ABC's ‘Last Resort.’"

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Report: ESPN's Per-Subscriber Fee Headed for the $7 Mark -- and Beyond

With the cost of sports rights soaring, ESPN’s per-subscriber fee is also expected to climb. MediaPost reports that the fee is likely to pass $7 a month in 2017, based on ESPN’s huge NFL rights bill and the likelihood of its renewal with the NBA.

The network's current deal with Time Warner Cable will yield $5.40 per subscriber per month beginning in mid-2013. It will pass the $7 mark in 2017 and reach $7.50 in 2018, the story says.

By the end of the decade, the network should fetch $8 a month per subscriber.

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ABC Taps 'Twilight' Writer as Showrunner for Pilot

Melissa Rosenberg, who adapted the "Twilight" books into movie scripts, has been tapped by ABC as the showrunner for the ABC Studios drama pilot "Big Thunder," reports Deadline.com.

The pilot is based on Disney's Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster ride, and tracks a late 19th century New York doctor who relocates to a frontier mining town with his family.

Rosenberg is also the executive producer/showrunner of ABC’s new drama "Red Widow" from ABC Studios, and has an overall deal with ABC Studios that she signed in October, the story adds.

 

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CW Casting for Reality Show With 'Hunger Games' Theme

The CW has issued a casting call for a reality show called "The Hunt," which has similarities to the best-selling "The Hunger Games" books, reports the New York Post.

The series will feature 12 teams of two people each who compete in what's called a "steroid-infused game of hide-and -seek," the story says.

The casting announcement adds: "Think you have what it takes to defeat your opponents while battling the elements? A major broadcast network is looking for teams of two ... where you and your partner will be both the hunter and the hunted."

Contestants will be placed in the wilderness without food, water or shelter. Teams "capture" each other, with the last surviving team declared the victor.

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Anti-Donald Trump Campaigner Threatened With $25 Million Lawsuit

A campaigner who is urging Macy's to sever ties with Donald Trump has been threatened with a $25 million lawsuit by Trump, reports TheWrap.com.

Trump's attorney, Alan Garten, sent a letter to Angelo Carusone, who started the online petition that urges Macy's to dump Trump.

"While you claim to be merely exercising [your] right to free speech, your egregious, pre-meditated and illegal conduct far exceeds anything protected by the Constitution," the letter, which was dated Dec. 27, reads. It says that Trump will sue Carusone for damages "not less than $25,000,000" if he continues.

Carusone has gathered more than 680,000 signatures on his petition, which he started last year on SignOn.Org, the story notes. The petition urges Macy's to cut its ties with Trump because of his alleged "unpleasant, nasty and despicable behavior" including "sexist behavior" and his perpetuation of the "birther theory."

The move comes amid a separate $5 million lawsuit by Trump against comedian Bill Maher, as previously reported.

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Mandy Moore Lands ABC Sitcom

Mandy Moore has been cast as one of the leads in a new ABC comedy project, Deadline.com reports. The singer and actress, whose TV resume includes recurring roles on “Entourage,” “Scrubs” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” will appear in the single-camera pilot "Pulling," based on the 2006 British series, the piece reports.

“The pilot, written by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky and directed by Jason Moore, revolves around 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 reports. “Moore plays one of them, Louise, who is optimistic and desperate to snag a husband -- but her man-hungry tactics typically backfire.”

The project is from ABC Studios and Kapital Entertainment, with Sharon Horgan and Dennis Kelly executive producing with Eisenberg, Stupnitsky and Aaron Kaplan. Horgan and Kelly created the original U.K. series.

“ABC has long had its eye on Moore,” the report notes. “The network produced a comedy pilot starring the actress last season and earlier this season bought a Rich Appel comedy project she was attached to with a put pilot commitment.”

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Mandy Moore

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Former 'Office' Boss Steve Carell Returns to Prime Time -- on Cable Reality Show

Steve Carell, who was a prime-time fixture during the golden years of NBC’s “The Office,” is returning to prime time -- but in a much different role. Carell has scheduled a guest appearance on the History reality show "Pawn Stars," reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The actor will be featured shopping at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, where he ends up negotiating with Rick over an item he wants to buy, the piece reports. Carell’s appearance will air sometime this spring.

Carell has a new movie, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” set to open in theaters March 15.

The report adds: “Carell, who along with his daughter is a ‘Pawn Stars’ fan, also filmed a promotional tie-in spot for the Vegas-shot ‘Burt Wonderstone’ that will unspool during ‘Pawn Stars’‘ March 11 episode: In the integrated ad, Rick needs help assessing the value of a magician costume so he calls in an “expert,” who is revealed to be Carell.”

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'My Name Is Earl' Star to Play Lead in CBS Drama

The star of NBC's "My Name Is Earl" will play the lead role in a new drama project at CBS. Deadline.com reports that “Earl’s” Jason Lee has been cast in the lead of the pilot "Second Sight.”

The series is based on a 2000 British series, and is said to be a gothic psychological thriller about a detective (Lee) who is hiding his ocular disorder that gives him anxiety dreams and hallucinations. “Told by his doctor that he will not go blind, he’s encouraged to think of the side effects as a gift -- signposts from his subconscious,” the piece adds.

Lee’s role was played by Clive Owen in the British series.

The pilot is from Michael Cuesta and “CSI’s” Carol Mendelsohn.

jason-lee.jpgJason Lee

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Report: High-Profile Anchor Leaving CNN

A familiar face at CNN is reportedly on the way out at the network. The New York Post's Page Six reports that new network chief Jeff Zucker is moving Erin Burnett into Soledad O’Brien’s morning time period, with O’Brien headed out.

O'Brien has reportedly said she’s ready to leave the network. The award-winning journalist “was initially promised a plum prime-time slot, but that role has so far failed to materialize,” the story notes.

The report cites a source saying: “The deal to move Erin to the morning alongside Chris Cuomo is basically done. Soledad had been told she’d get a prime-time slot, but that hasn’t yet happened, and now she is telling friends she is likely to leave.”

The source adds: “Soledad is talented at producing in-depth, serious pieces of journalism, and is a tough interviewer. That doesn’t seem to fit the direction the network is going.”

O'Brien moved to CNN from NBC in 2003, anchoring "American Morning" first before moving on to specials. She's been anchoring the morning show "Starting Point" since January.

Another source cited in the piece says: “Soledad is a big star, and would only stay for the right show. There’s word there will be a flurry of announcements at CNN very soon, including Erin’s move to the morning.”

soledad-obrien.jpgSoledad O’Brien

 

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Kelly Clarkson: 'I Refuse to Be Bullied by [Record Industry Legend] Clive Davis. It Feels Like a Violation.' Davis Says Clarkson Is Wrong In Her Memory of the Incident

"In his newly released memoir The Soundtrack of My Life, Davis recalls a meeting with ['American Idol' winner] Kelly Clarkson that was "' very tough conversation, and it didn't get any easier when Kelly burst in to hysterical sobbing" while discussing the inclusion of 'Since U Been Gone' on her second album, Breakaway," writes  People magazine.

" 'Not true at all,' Clarkson [tells People]. 'His stories and songs are mixed up. I couldn't be more proud of that song. I resent him dampening that song in any way.' [Clarkson added on WhoSay], 'I refuse to be bullied and I just have to clear up his memory lapses and misinformation. It feels likea violation.' "

The People article continues, "In his newly released memoir The Soundtrack of My Life, Davis recalls a meeting with Clarkson that was 'a very tough conversation, and it didn't get any easier when Kelly burst in to hysterical sobbing,' while discussing the inclusion of 'Since U Been Gone' on her second album, Breakaway."

Clarkson's version,  says People: " 'I cried after I played him a song I had written about my life called 'Because of You,' ' she says. 'He hated it and told me verbatim that I was a [shitty] writer who should be grateful for the gifts that he bestows upon me.' "

People says Davis' rep later issued this statement:

"As anyone who has read The Soundtrack of My Life knows, I think Kelly Clarkson is a tremendous vocal talent and performer. In the book, I provide an in-depth look at our years together during which we shared major multi-platinum success, as well as a few creative differences. I am truly very sorry that she has decided to take issue with what I know to be an accurate depiction of our time together.

"Before the book was published, I had every fact checked with five independent individuals who were present on a daily basis throughout it all. The chapter as it is written was thoroughly verified by each and every one of them. I stand by the chapter as written in my book. At the same time I wish, and will always wish, Kelly's talent and her career to soar to ever new heights. – Clive Davis."

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Big Viewer Turnout for 'Downton Abbey' Season Finale

The period drama "Downton Abbey" continues to be a viewer magnet for PBS. The New York Times' Media Decoder reports that the season three finale drew 8.2 million viewers, or 50% more than the finale of the second season.

The audience surpassed the third-season premiere in January, which drew 7.9 million viewers, at that time a 20-year record for PBS, the story says.

PBS hopes the popularity of "Downton," a historical drama about an aristocratic family and its staff, will help draw new viewers to other “Masterpiece” series and public television overall, the piece adds.

Despite the big ratings for the season finale, AMC's "The Walking Dead" drew more viewers on Sunday night, with about 11 million people tuning in, the story says.

The piece notes that PBS delayed the U.S. premiere of the series, which aired in the U.K. in the fall. The report adds: “The strong ratings for the third season in the United States are likely to persuade PBS to enforce a similar delay for Season 4, which is expected to have its premiere overseas this year.”

 

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Top Obama Strategist Joins NBC News

One of President Obama’s top strategists, who worked on his 2008 and his 2012 election campaigns and served as senior White House adviser, has joined NBC News. Deadline.com reports that David Axelrod will be a senior political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.

“Axelrod began his career as a journalist, serving as a a political writer, columnist and City Hall bureau chief for the Chicago Tribune before stepping into politics in 1984,” the piece reports. “He was recently named director of the University of Chicago’s new Institute of Politics and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Harris School of Public Policy.”

Axelrod joins a team of NBC and MSNBC political analysts that includes his counterpart from the 2008 presidential election -- Steve Schmidt, former campaign strategist for John McCain. Also serving as analysts for the news organization are former RNC Chairman Michael Steele and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.

 

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Test of 'Next-Generation' TV Transmission Standard Moves Forward -- Idea Is to Help Broadcasters Be a Player 'in the mobile, multiplatform and ultra-high definition of the video future'

A test run for a new television broadcast standard got the OK from the Federal Communications Commission and will take place at a Baltimore station, B&C reports in an exclusive story by our friend John Eggerton.

“According to a copy of the FCC document obtained by B&C, the FCC has granted Cunningham Broadcasting's WNUV-TV Baltimore a six-month experimental broadcast license to use the CW affiliate as a test bed for a ‘next-generation’ broadcast standard that the station argues could help broadcasters be a player in the mobile, multiplatform and ultra-high definition of the video future,” the piece reports. “The company says other broadcasters, vendors and trade associations will participate in the WNUV test, according to the original petition for testing authority.”

Sinclair operates the station under a local marketing agreement, the report notes. Sinclair and WNUV did not comment for the report.

WNUV's request for the testing authority pointed out that the current standard is designed for large-format video to fixed receivers, while, it points out, viewers are increasingly mobile and are viewing video on phones and tablets. As a result, it wants to test the Second Generation Digital Video Broadcasting - Terrestrial (DVB-T2) OFDM transmission technology standard -- already in use in some European countries -- and succeeding iterations as a possible new standard for the U.S.

Among the things WNUV and Sinclair say they are looking for the testing to do are, according to Eggerton's B&C story:

"Identify representative link budgets for a variety of use cases in different locations within the service area;

"Determine how a scalable Quality of Service offering combined with flexible transmission attributes might facilitate the simultaneous provision of television broadcast to multiple viewing devices;

"Provide data that may support the development of coverage and service contour matching techniques;

"Confirm the ability of OFDM to support Ultra High-Definition television within the existing 6 MHz channel assignments; and

"Explore technological capabilities that could lead to the ability to evolve a future broadcast standard."

We urge you to read all of the details of this important story by clicking on the link above, which will take you to Eggerton's piece.

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New Fox Show Bounces Back in Tight Monday Ratings Battle

Monday night saw an unusually tight battle in the broadcast ratings, with two networks tying for first place in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that ABC and CBS finished deadlocked for prime time overall with 2.8 average ratings in viewers 18-49, followed closely by Fox (2.5 average), with NBC a little further behind in fourth place (1.8). The race for total viewers was just as tight, with ABC barely ahead of CBS -- 9.3 million to 9.2 million. Fox was third with 8.3 million, followed by NBC with 4.8 million.

Fox saw its new show “The Following” bounce back after a down week, improving 17% to a 2.8 average rating in 18-49. Fox’s “Bones” was down 5% with a 2.1.

ABC was led by its two-hour “The Bachelor” with a 3.0 in the 18-49 demo, up 11% from a week ago. ABC’s “Castle” also rose, scoring a 2.2 average, a 10% improvement.

CBS had mixed results, with “How I Met Your Mother” up 6% to a 3.4 in adults 18-49, “2 Broke Girls” down 6%, also with a 3.4, “Mike & Molly” up 3% for a 3.1, “Rules of Engagement” steady with a 2.8 and “Hawaii Five-0” down 5% to a 2.0.

NBC saw its two-hour “Biggest Loser” improve 5% from last week’s season low to a 2.1 in 18-49, while “Deception” held steady with a 1.2.

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New York Anchorman Accused of Choking His Wife

A New York City news anchor faces domestic abuse charges following an incident Sunday in which he is accused of choking his wife, TVNewser.com reports.

WCBS anchor Rob Morrison was scheduled to appear today in a Connecticut court. “NBCConnecticut, where Morrison once worked, reports Darien, Conn., authorities responded to the couple’s home at 1:30 a.m. Sunday after Morrison’s mother-in-law called police,” the story reports. “Morrison is accused of choking his wife, Ashley Morrison, a CBS MoneyWatch anchor.

The report adds: “Police said he became ‘increasingly belligerent’ over the evening and used both hands to choke her. He is charged with second-degree strangulation, second-degree threatening and disorderly conduct. He posted the $100,000 bail.”

WCBS reported on the incident during Monday’s 5 p.m. news, the piece notes. “Anchor Maurice DuBois said the Morrisons released a statement saying they are cooperating with the police and ‘are confident a physical investigation will show the allegations have been greatly exaggerated,’” the story reports.

A spokesperson for WCBS declined to comment, calling the incident a “personal matter.”

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Final Tuneup for the Oscars: 'Argo' Racks Up Another Win at WGAs, as the Best Writing in Film and TV Is Honored

The Writers Guild Awards over the weekend gave Ben Affleck’s “Argo” one more chance to flex its trophy-lifting muscles before the Oscars, while the best writing in television was also honored.

TVWeek Open Mic writer Hillary Atkin takes readers inside the ceremony for an in-depth report -- click here for a look back at the event’s top moments.

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Recording Industry Guru Comes Out on 'Katie'

One of the legends of the music business revealed to Katie Couric in an interview for her daytime talk show “Katie” that he’s bisexual, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The interview with Clive Davis, Sony Music’s chief creative officer, was scheduled to air today.

Davis is credit with discovering or signing a string of multiplatinum artists including Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston, Alicia Keys, Barry Manilow and Santana, the piece notes.

“Speaking of his ‘failed marriage,’ which came apart in the mid-'80s, Davis says, ‘I opened myself up to the possibility that I could have a relationship with a man as well as the two that I had with a woman,’" the story reports. “He added: ‘I'm still attracted to women. … You don't have to be only one thing or another. For me, it's the person.’"

Davis, an 80-year-old father of four, notes that he’s currently in a monogamous relationship with a man, according to the report.

“As for why Davis chose to divulge such intimate details now? The industry veteran has a book to sell, for one thing,” the piece notes. “’The Soundtrack of My Life,’ being released by Simon & Schuster also on Feb. 19, tells the life story of the Brooklyn-bred record man and consummate tastemaker who played a key role in curating popular music for well over five decades.”

clive-davis.jpgClive Davis

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NBC Series on Death Watch

A troubled NBC series appears to be dead, with the network apparently abandoning plans to take the comedy in a new direction.

Nellie Andreeva writes on Deadline.com that “Up All Night” may have already aired its last episode. “The network’s plans to revamp the modestly rated single-camera sophomore as a multicamera were dealt a major blow late last week when star Christina Applegate departed the project,” Andreeva reported Saturday. “After originally planning five multicamera episodes to close out the season, NBC early this week trimmed that scenario to one episode, without Applegate, to be helmed by uber multicamera director James Burrows. Now I hear that episode is being scrapped too.”

Andreeva reports that at least one of the show’s two remaining stars -- Will Arnett and Maya Rudolph -- “told the network they were uncomfortable going forward with the series, which, in addition to Applegate, recently lost its creator, Emily Spivey.”

Former “Friends” star Lisa Kudrow emerged last week as a possible replacement for Applegate, as previously reported, but Andreeva reports that talk about bringing in someone new never went anywhere. Meanwhile, The Hollywood Reporter says Arnett is being courted by CBS to star in a new sitcom written by Greg Garcia.

“In addition, sources tell THR that co-star Maya Rudolph has informed NBC that she is pregnant with her fourth child with director Paul Thomas Anderson,” The Hollywood Reporter notes. “These sources say the show's writers planned to incorporate the pregnancy into the revised version of the series, but that issue could now be moot. The show's writing staff is said to be seeking new jobs.”

Andreeva notes that even with “Up All Night’s” personnel issues, the biggest problems may have been with its concept. “When production on the single-camera version was shut down after 11 episodes the first week of November, it was supposed to be for a three-month hiatus, followed by the taping of five multicamera episodes,” Andreeva writes. “But as speculation swirled last month about what the new ‘Up All Night’ might look like, NBC had not settled on a concept yet.”

It was rumored that “Up All Night” would be transformed into a workplace comedy, filling a void left by the conclusion of “The Office.” But Andreeva notes: “The show’s search for a new identity certainly was not helped by the heavy behind-the-scenes turnover. Linda Wallem, who oversees the multicamera version, is ‘Up All Night’s’ third showrunner following Jon Pollack and Tucker Cawley. ‘Up All Night’ creator/executive producer Spivey left the show last month.”

The series has not officially been canceled, but as Andreeva notes, “The hopes of continuing it are fading quickly. In a sign that the show is likely over, I hear NBC offered Rudolph a part in one of its highest-profile pilots for next year, the Victor Fresco comedy starring Sean Hayes, which is directed by Burrows.”

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Maya Rudolph

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'X Factor' Reportedly Dumping One of Its Hosts

One of the two co-hosts of the Fox singing competition “The X Factor” has reportedly been asked to leave the show. The New York Post cites an inside source at the show saying the program is giving the boot to Khloe Kardashian, but will be keeping Mario Lopez.

Kardashian, 28, took on the role after having no TV hosting experience, and has at times appeared to be nervous on camera, the piece notes.

Said Marki Costello, an L.A.-based expert on TV hosting who has coached on "The Voice" for judge CeeLo Green: "I am sure there was a big percentage of Khloe’s fans who followed her to ‘X Factor.’ But at the end of the day, when she doesn’t know what she is doing, are you helping your show or hurting it? It was really hard for me to watch Mario with her. It made me, as a viewer, almost uncomfortable.”

Kardashian's exit would be the latest high-profile exit from the show, with judge Britney Spears leaving last month, the story notes. Judge L.A. Reid left the show in December, and judge Cheryl Cole was fired last year.

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Michael Jackson's Son Joins Popular TV Entertainment Magazine Show

The son of the late pop star Michael Jackson has landed a high-profile television job, becoming a correspondent for the popular magazine show "Entertainment Tonight," reports ETOnline.

Prince Michael Jackson, 16, will start his job by interviewing actors including James Franco for the film "Oz the Great and Powerful," the story says. His father portrayed the Scarecrow in the 1978 movie "The Wiz."

According to the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker, Jackson got the job "in part due to Brooke Anderson, one of 'ET’s' correspondents. The television host said she and the teenager shared a 'mutual connection,' and she has been itching to do something with Jackson since she met him."

"I thought him interviewing people from ‘Oz’ would be great because his dad was in ‘The Wiz,’ he’s a fan of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and he wants to get into producing and directing,” Anderson told Show Tracker.

Anderson said Jackson doesn't have a regular job with the show, but she hopes he will return on a "case-by-case" basis, covering kid-themed entertainment events such as the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards.

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Prince Michael Jackson

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Is Former NBC News Boss Headed to CNN?

Jeff Zucker, the new boss at CNN, is talking with the former NBC News boss about job opportunities at the cable news network, reports the New York Post.

Steve Capus, who left NBC less than three weeks ago, has also been approached by academic institutions, Silicon Valley firms and other media companies, the story notes.

"While neither is committing to anything yet, Zucker has notably just hired former NBC colleague Allison Gollust as his top spokeswoman -- and speculation is rife she won’t be the only NBC alum he’ll draft to Columbus Circle," the story says.

The piece notes that Capus could replace Mark Whitaker, the former CNN managing editor, who left CNN as Zucker arrived.

A source familiar with Capus and Zucker said of Capus: “He and Jeff are close. They work well together.”

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Steve Capus

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Alec Baldwin Accused of Racist Rant

"30 Rock" star Alec Baldwin is being accused of going on a racist rant during a clash over the weekend with a photographer for the New York Post.

The Post reports that Baldwin allegedly “called a black Post photographer a racial epithet, a ‘crackhead’ and a ‘drug dealer’ during a confrontation on an East Village street yesterday morning, prompting police to intervene.”

The piece adds: “Baldwin had first been approached by a Post reporter while walking his dogs outside his East 10th Street pad at around 10:50 a.m. He was asked for comment on a lawsuit against his wife, Hilaria, involving her work as a yoga instructor.”

Baldwin reportedly grabbed the arm of the reporter, Tara Palmeri, and said to her: “I want to choke you to death.” Palmeri later played an audio tape of the conversation for police.

“He then called G.N. Miller -- a decorated retired detective with the NYPD’s Organized Crime Control Bureau and a staff photographer for The Post -- a ‘coon, a drug dealer,’” the piece reports, citing Miller’s comments in a police statement.

“At one point, Miller showed Baldwin ID to prove he’s a retired NYPD cop, which Baldwin dismissed as ‘fake,’” the story reports. “Cops were called, and Miller, 56, and Baldwin, 54, both filed harassment claims against each other.”

Baldwin did some follow-up on Twitter, according to the piece, tweeting: “Thank u 2 NYPD officers who came to my home 2day so that I could file a formal complaint against NY Post ‘photographer’ who assaulted me.”

“In another post, Baldwin referred to Miller, for unknown reasons, as ‘Ralston,’ writing, ‘Moments after I tweet about the Post, Ralston, the ex-crackhead “photographer” shows up at my door w 1 of Murdoch’s nieces in tow,’” the Post reports. “He added, ‘Ralston claims he’s ex NYPD!! That can’t be!!! Ex NYPD don’t become crackhead, ex jailhouse paparazzi!’”

Baldwin subsequently removed most of the posts about the incident, the story notes.

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'Mork and Buffy'? Sarah Michelle Gellar Joins CBS's Robin Williams Comedy

Actress Sarah Michelle Gellar, best known as television’s “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,” will play the female lead in CBS’s new comedy pilot “Crazy Ones,” Deadline.com reports. The David E. Kelley project stars Robin Williams.

“Written/exec produced by Kelley and directed/exec produced by Jason Winer, ‘Crazy Ones’ is set in the world of advertising and stars Williams as Simon ... the brilliant head of an ad agency working alongside his daughter Sydney (Gellar), the agency’s creative director,” the story reports.

The project comes from Twentieth Television.

Nellie Andreeva reports in the Deadline piece: “Gellar was recently attached to a 20th TV comedy spec, and I hear that the studio wanted to stay in business with her after that spec didn’t go. This marks the first live-action comedy series gig for Gellar, who starred in the CW drama ‘Ringer’ last season.”

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Country Singer's Death Is the Fifth Among 'Celebrity Rehab' Participants

The VH1 reality show "Celebrity Rehab" has again been touched by tragedy, with the death of country singer Mindy McCready marking the fifth participant in the show to die in the past two years, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

As previously reported, McCready died at age 37 Sunday from an apparent suicide. She was reportedly struggling after the suicide of record producer David Wilson, who was the father of her youngest child.

Dr. Drew Pinsky, the host of "Celebrity Rehab," said in a statement that he was "deeply saddened by this awful news." He added that he had "reached out to her recently upon hearing about the apparent suicide of her boyfriend and father of her younger children. She was devastated."

He added that it appeared she "did not sustain her treatment."

McCready was featured on the show's third season, during which she received treatment for alcohol and prescription drug abuse. Also featured on that season were former Alice in Chains bassist Mike Starr, who died of an overdose two years ago, and "Real World" cast member Joey Kovar, who died of an opiate overdose last year, the story notes.

"Three deaths out of nine cast members from a single season of TV is a disturbing statistic,” the piece reports. “Yet it’s difficult to know what meaning to draw from it. Having a serious substance addiction problem is inherently a life-threatening issue and often has mental health complications."

Rodney King, who appeared on season two of “Celebrity Rehab,” and former “Taxi” star Jeff Conaway, another alum of season two, also both died in the past two years.

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Mindy McCready

 

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CNN Brings Back the Ticker

CNN has brought back the ticker -- the scroll of news that appears in the bottom third of the screen -- after abandoning it a few years ago in favor of the Flipper, reports TVNewser.com.

The decision comes from new CNN chief Jeff Zucker, who has been changing the look, programming and personnel of the cable news network, the piece notes. The Flipper had been used by CNN since 2008, and at the time was described by CNN Vice President Bart Feder as making it "easier to read, understand and absorb the information.”

The Ticker returned to the channel Sunday and features white type on a blue background, the piece notes.

The report adds that on Sunday “the noon ET hour of ‘Newsroom International’ also became a co-anchored show, with Michael Holmes joining Suzanne Malveaux at the anchor desk.”

 

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'Underdog' Co-Creator W. Watts Biggers Dies at 85

W. Watts Biggers, who helped create the 1960s cartoon show "Underdog" and composed its catchy theme song, has died at 85 after suffering a heart attack, reports The New York Times.

Biggers and his co-creator, Chet Stover, were working at the advertising firm Dancer Fitzgerald Sample when they started working on a cartoon show that would promote General Mills cereals, the story says.

As they knew they'd be competing for a time slot against Jay Ward and Bill Scott, the co-creators of "Rocky & Bullwinkle," Biggers had the thought that they were the "underdog." Their character was born: a mere shoe shiner who became a hero when reporter Sweet Polly Purebread was in danger.

They won the spot.

Underdog was voiced by character actor Wally Cox and spoke in rhyming couplets. The show, which debuted in 1964 on NBC, grew in popularity, allowing Biggers and Stover to depart advertising and start a production company, Total Television, the story notes.

An Underdog balloon has been featured in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the show is syndicated worldwide.

Here’s a clip of the show’s opening and theme:

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'War and Peace' to Get BBC Treatment

The epic Leo Tolstoy novel "War and Peace" is becoming a BBC miniseries, written by Andrew Davies, who adapted "Pride and Prejudice" for the BBC's 1995 version starring Colin Firth, reports Deadline.com.

Davies is writing a six-part miniseries that will air on BBC One in 2015, and it's likely that a U.S. partner will join the project, the story says.

The book begins in 1805 Russia and focuses on five aristocratic families. Davies is quoted in the story saying the book is a "thrilling, funny and heartbreaking story of love, war and family life. The characters are so natural and human and easy to identify with and Natasha Rostova just beats Lizzy Bennet as the most lovable heroine in literature."

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CBS's 'Amazing Race' Airs Lowest-Rated Premiere Ever

CBS's reality competition "The Amazing Race" returned to its lowest-rated premiere ever, continuing a midseason ratings slump for the broadcast networks, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The series returned Sunday night with 9.5 million viewers and a 2.4 rating among adults 18 to 49 years old. That marked a decline of 14% from last year, the story says.

The program wasn't helped by its lead-in, "The Good Wife," which was down 7% from its last episode three weeks ago, the story adds.

 

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'Killing Lincoln' Draws Record Audience for Nat Geo

National Geographic pulled a network record for its Sunday premiere of the scripted drama "Killing Lincoln," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The drama drew an average of 3.4 million viewers during its two-hour premiere, a new high for individual broadcasts and a 175% jump from the usual average in the same time period, the story says.

The drama stars Billy Campbell as the president and Jesse Johnson as his assassin, John Wilkes Booth. The project was adapted form the book by Fox News host Bill O'Reilly.

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Roger Ebert -- the Best-Known Movie Critic in the Country -- Has Second Thoughts About His Oscar Choices, and Now Says Another Movie May Win as Best Picture

Roger Ebert, the best known movie critic in the country, now says he may be wrong about his previously published prediction of the Best Picture winner that will be announced this coming Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, on ABC's coverage of the Academy Awards.

Writes Ebert: "For Best Picture, I joined nearly the whole world and countless awards shows by predicting 'Argo,' the thriller about how Hollywood outsmarted Iran during the hostage crisis. It was also my choice of the year's best movie.

"Now, more and more, from many different quarters, I hear affection for 'Silver Linings Playbook.' People tell me, 'I have a brother-in- law exactly like that.' I sense a groundswell."

Ebert says he feels he also erred in his pick for Best Actress. Ebert writes, "My original choice for Best Actress was Emmanuelle Riva, for 'Amour.' I finally decided on Jennifer Lawrence, Now, as more and more people get the chance to see Michael Haneke's 'Amour' and Riva's extraordinary work as a proud lady's disintegration under Alzheimer's, I think sentiment is shifting. She may become the oldest nominee in history to win."

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CBS Pulls Series After Two Airings

It's generally been tough for midseason entries this year. Latest word is from CBS, which has pulled one of its shows after  just two airings, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

"The midseason reality competition ['The Job'], which counted Mark Burnett among its executive producers, has been pulled from the schedule after just two episodes," THR writes, adding 'Undercover Boss' will return to the 8 p.m. Friday time slot this week."

The article continues, "It was a brief, uphill battle for 'The Job.' The Lisa Ling-hosted series opened to a weak 4.1 million viewers and a 0.9 rating in the adults 18-49 demo on Feb. 8. In its second outing, Fast National ratings gave the show just 3.4 million viewers and a 0.7 rating in the key demo."

The story adds, "From Embassy Row, Sony Pictures Television and Mark Burnett Productions, 'The Job' followed groups of contestants vying for a chance to nab 'a dream job at their dream company.' Michael Davies ('Who Wants to Be a Millionaire') and James Sunderland joined Burnett as executive producers. It's not clear whether the six remaining episodes of 'The Job' will air."

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Country Music Star Mindy McCready Dead at 37, Apparent Suicide. Follows the Recent Apparent Suicide of the Father of Her Youngest Child

This is from TMZ. It's a statement from the Cleburne County Sheriff's Office in Arkansas:

"At 3:31 PM, Sunday, February 17th Deputies from the Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to a report of gun shots fired in the area of 1132 Fox Chase Drive in Heber Springs. Officers arrived on the scene at 3:58 PM and discovered the body of 37 year old Melinda Gayle McCready on the front porch of the residence at 1132 Fox Chase. Ms. McCready was pronounced dead at the scene from what appears to be a single self-inflicted gunshot wound. At this time family members have been notified of the incident. Ms. Mcready will be transported to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for an autopsy and the matter will be fully investigated."

The TMZ story adds, "We're told McCready had been a mess since the father of her youngest child, record producer David Wilson, was found dead in his home on January 13 of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"McCready's two children were removed from her home by a judge on February 6 and she was committed to a treatment facility for a mental-health and alcohol-abuse evaluation. She was released two days later. McCready had attempted suicide twice before -- once in 2005 and again in 2008. She also made several trips to rehab and appeared in 2010 on the VH1 reality show 'Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.' "

McCready was probably best known for her hit 1996 album "Ten Thousand Angels."

Here's a video of McCready singing "Ten Thousand Angels."
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'Girls,' 'Breaking Bad' and 'Louie' Top Writers Guild Awards for TV. 'Argo' and 'Zero Dark Thirty' Take Top Movie Awards. We Have All the Winners.

"HBO's 'Girls' was hailed as the best new series of the year during the 2013 Writers Guild Awards,  while the awards for drama and comedy series went to the writing staffs of, respectively, AMC's 'Breaking Bad' and FX's 'Louie,' reports The Hollywood Reporter.

To see a complete list of winners please click here.

In the top movie categories, the winners were "Argo" and "Zero Dark Thirty."

The article says, "In accepting his award for best adapted screenplay, a visibly nervous [Chris] Terrio confessed that when he started writing 'Argo' in 2008, 'I couldn't pay my rent. I was living in New York. I defaulted on my student loans. I had nothing, but I had my spec scripts and I had my guild card, and I can't tell you how that propped me up. In a very lonely profession, I was in the same club as all you guys.' He concluded by offering a special shout-out to the film's director Ben Affleck, saying, 'You are a kind and brilliant and very, very good man.' "

The story adds, "Since, this year, the WGA's nominations aren't an exact match for the nominations for the two best screenplay Oscars, they don't necessarily foretell whose names will be in the envelopes at the 85th Academy Awards on Feb. 24. [Mark] Boal's original screenplay for 'Zero Dark Thirty,'  for example, will face competition from Quentin Tarantino's 'Django Unchained' and Michael Haneke's 'Amour,' which didn't qualify for WGA consideration since they weren't written under a guild contract.

"But given that 'Argo' has been victorious at the other guilds, Terrio could well find himself called once again to the winner's podium. At the WGA, it prevailed over three other films with Oscar nominations, including Tony Kushner's 'Lincoln.' "

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'Dream Team of Stars': Two 'Cheers' Stars and One High-Profile 'Seinfeld' Alum Unite for New Prime-Time Comedy

A new comedy series will feature cast members from two long-running NBC hits, “Cheers” and “Seinfeld.” Deadline.com reports that TV Land has picked up the Kirstie Alley project that was titled “Giant Baby” in its pilot phase.

The series, which will be renamed “Kirstie’s New Show,” received a 12-episode order and will roll out in fall 2013, the piece reports. In addition to Alley, a “Cheers” veteran, the show features fellow “Cheers” cast member Rhea Perlman and “Seinfeld’s” Kramer, Michael Richards.

“Created by Marco Pennette, it revolves around Madison ‘Maddie’ Banks (Alley), a Broadway star who finds her life turned upside down when Arlo (Eric Petersen), her long-lost son, turns up looking to connect after his adopted mother dies,” Deadline reports. “Perlman plays Maddie’s assistant and best friend; Richards plays Maddie’s outlandish limo driver.”

Said TV Land President Larry W. Jones: “This cast is a TV Land dream team of stars. Seeing them all together is truly mind-blowing.”

The series is the culmination of a two-year effort by TV Land to put together a show featuring Alley, the story reports. It is executive produced by Pennette, Alley and Jason Weinberg, Alley’s manager.

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Video: Lindsay Lohan's Controversial New Project Goes to IFC

A Lindsay Lohan project that has attracted more than its share of notoriety -- par for the course with anything involving Lohan these days -- will be distributed on multiple platforms by IFC, EW.com reports.

“’The Canyons,’ the already infamous Lindsay Lohan movie from the minds of writer Bret Easton Ellis and director Paul Schrader, has been acquired by IFC Films and will premiere day-and-date and on digital platforms in the early summer of 2013,” the piece reports. “Lohan stars as the girlfriend of a wealthy Hollywood movie producer -- played by porn star James Deen -- and their relationship ultimately devolves under dark and demanding sexual tension.”

In a statement, Schrader said: “I am delighted our film has found an enthusiastic home at IFC. We envisioned ‘The Canyons’ as a multiplatform release from the beginning, and no company knows that world better than IFC.”

EW adds: “The low-budget movie will have a special premiere screening at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, followed by a conversation with Schrader and Kent Jones, director of programming of the New York Film Festival.”

Jones offered this assessment: ”On one level, ‘The Canyons’ is a visually and tonally precise, acid-etched horror story of souls wandering through a hyper-materialistic hell, with a fearless and, I think, stunning performance by Lindsay Lohan at its center. On another level, it’s an inspiration and an example to us all: It’s difficult for me to imagine another filmmaker of Paul Schrader’s stature diving into the world of crowd-sourced moviemaking, let alone with such fervor, dedication and rigor.”

Here’s a preview clip -- but we have to warn you that not much happens for the first two minutes, other than Lohan walking around in a nightie:

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Plenty of Bad News to Go Around in Thursday Ratings: ABC Has Its Lowest In-Season Scripted Premiere Ever, While NBC Series Plummets to Historic Low

Thursday’s prime-time overnights offered plenty of bad news for the broadcast networks -- especially ABC and NBC. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that ABC’s premiere of “Zero Hour” mustered only a 1.3 average rating in the key 18-49 demo -- the worst in-season scripted premiere for ABC in its history. Meanwhile, NBC’s “Community” plummeted eight-tenths of a point from last week to a 1.1, the show’s all-time low.

CBS won the night despite viewer numbers that were mostly down from a week ago. And second-place Fox saw ratings drop for both “American Idol” and “Glee.”

When the dust settled, CBS was on top for prime time overall with a 3.3 average in viewers 18-49, leading Fox (2.7 average), ABC (2.3), NBC (1.5) and Univision (1.5). NBC fell behind Univision in total viewers, where CBS led with 13.8 million to Fox’s 8.7 million, ABC’s 7.6 million, Univision’s 3.7 million and NBC’s 3.5 million.

CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory,” “Two and a Half Men” and “Person of Interest” were all down from last week in the 18-49 demo, while “Elementary” held even. “Big Bang” was the top show of the night with a 5.4 average rating (down eight-tenths), with “Men” coming in second (3.8 average, down three-tenths). “Person of Interest” dipped one-tenth to a 3.0, while “Elementary” again pulled a 2.2.

Fox saw “American Idol” lose a half-point in the 18-49 ratings from last week, settling for a 3.6 average, while “Glee” also lost a half-point, averaging only 1.7.

On ABC the big news was the weak opening for the drama “Zero Hour” at 8 p.m., but that was followed by a bad night for “Grey’s Anatomy” as well -- the series sank four-tenths from a week ago to a 2.7 in viewers 18-49, an all-time low for “Grey’s.”

ABC’s “Scandal” held steady with last week with a 2.8 average in 18-49 to win the 10 p.m. hour in the demo.

NBC aired only two hours of original programming, putting up a repeat of “Law & Order: SVU” at 10 p.m. “Community’s” all-time low was followed by a 1.5 in the 18-49 demo for “Parks and Recreation” (down a half-point from last week’s season high) and a 2.0 for a one-hour “The Office,” a slight dip from last week’s 2.1.

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In Case You're Missing Herman Cain, He's Now a TV News Talking Head

Former presidential candidate Herman Cain, who was often ridiculed for his verbal missteps during the 2012 campaign, will get a chance to make a few more -- or prove he has more important things to say. Deadline.com reports that Cain is joining the vast ranks of politicians-turned-TV-news contributors, having just been added to the Fox News lineup.

“The former National Restaurant Association CEO, who ran for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, will join other recent additions to the cable news network like former senator Scott Brown and former congressman Dennis Kucinich,” Deadline reports.

In a statement today, Bill Shine, Fox News Channel executive VP of programming, said: “Cain’s impressive resume makes him a valuable addition to the Fox News and Fox Business lineup. As a political expert with business savvy, he brings an important voice to the nation’s debates.”

The report notes: “Since dropping out in his bid for the Republican nomination last year, Cain has made frequent appearances on Comedy Central’s ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’ as a mock president detailing his decision-making process.”

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Herman Cain

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CNN's Cruise Ship Coverage Widely Mocked (Video)

CNN, which is eager to polish up its battered image and low ratings under new boss Jeff Zucker, didn’t exactly do itself proud Thursday with its extensive coverage of plumbing problems and other hassles aboard a cruise ship, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The channel “spent much of the day and night reporting on the Carnival Triumph, which caught fire off the coast of Mexico and, after days floating as a wounded vessel, finally docked in Alabama late Thursday night,” THR reports. “CNN's Erin Burnett broadcast live from the ship terminal in Alabama, and the network had five reporters there, some descending on passengers as they disembarked from the ship, which had no working plumbing or electricity for days. The coverage continued well into Friday morning.”

CNN posted at least 14 stories about the ship on its website, THR notes, adding: “CNN's obsession with the fecal-filled freighter made a splash -- and drew plenty of blowback.”

Among those joining in the feeding frenzy was Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart (see video below), who “opened Thursday night's ‘Daily Show’ with a takedown of the comprehensive attention, calling it ‘wall-to-shit-covered-wall coverage, treating a stalled cruise ship like it's the Shackleton Expedition,’ giving a wink to all of his fans with an interest in Antarctic exploration,” THR reports.

The CNN coverage also caught the attention of Mediaite's Tommy Christopher, who wrote: "The live coverage of Triumph’s arrival yielded moments that were the complete opposite of riveting," THR notes.

“Slate's Dave Weigel tweeted, ‘The “stranded cruise ships” coverage must be driving CNN's surge to the top of the ratings,’" the report adds.

Brian Stelter, media reporter for The New York Times, pointed the finger at Zucker. THR cites this passage from Stelter’s reporting: "The coverage had all the hallmarks of Jeff Zucker, the former ‘Today’ show producer and NBC chief executive who took over CNN Worldwide last month. Mr. Zucker has been trying to take advantage of CNN’s news resources as he attempts to revitalize the low-rated channel. The cruise ship story was a no-brainer to him: From a producer’s standpoint, it has high stakes, human drama and a logical beginning, middle and end."

THR reported separately on a particluar incident in which CNN reporter Martin Savidge was “schooled” by a cruise ship passenger for likening the ship’s problems to Hurricane Katrina.

The story notes that Savidge invoked the “isolation factor” in comparing the two events during an interview with passenger Rob Kenny.

Savidge says to Kenny: "They [Katrina victims] never heard anything either. Your mind begins to race ... you think you're all alone. And of course, any rumor becomes solid fact."

“To which Kenny responded: ‘Let's put that in perspective. I mean, Katrina was a major devastation. We're on a freaking cruise ship, and we're just out having a good time. ... That angle, I get it because it is just the isolation of communication, but two different things. Two different things,’" THR reports.

Here’s Jon Stewart’s take:

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Jimmy Kimmel Opens Up About Jay Leno -- and It's Not Flattering

Jimmy Kimmel has just served up more evidence that he’s not exactly a fan of fellow late-night host Jay Leno. Kimmel “couldn’t stop talking about the fellow funnyman during a recent interview with Playboy, on newsstands Friday,” Fox News reports.

Kimmel says in the interview: “I have a filter mechanism in my head every night when I put together the monologue for our show: If I can imagine Jay Leno telling a joke, then I won’t do it, even if it’s a good joke.”

Kimmel adds: “I always feel bad if I hurt anybody’s feelings, but I don’t believe Jay Leno has actual feelings, and he doesn’t seem to be that worried about other people’s feelings. Strangely I don’t even like talking about him anymore. The only time I think about him is when I’m asked.”

The piece notes that Kimmel has a history of bashing Leno. “Earlier this year, in an interview with Rolling Stone, Kimmel said it was hard not to hate on Leno,” the story reports.

In that earlier interview, Kimmel reportedly said of Leno: "As a comedian, you can't NOT have disdain for what he's done. He totally sold out. He was a master chef who opened a Burger King."

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Why 'Today' Co-Hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb Are Reportedly at Odds

Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, the co-hosts of the fourth hour of "Today," are at odds over which direction to take the show -- literally, reports TMZ.com.

Gifford wants to move the show to Hollywood, as we reported earlier this week. But Kotb reportedly wants to remain in New York City, creating some tension between the two co-hosts.

“Sources connected to ‘Today’ tell TMZ ... Kathie Lee has been lobbying to move the show for a long time, but Hoda has been adamant -- she wants to stay in NYC,” the piece reports. “Our sources say Hoda felt the heat was off when Kathie Lee started doing her Broadway show ... she thought Kathie Lee might get off the whole L.A. thing. But when the show wrapped in December, Kathie Lee immediately started pushing again for an L.A. move.”

Tension between the two surfaced when Kotb felt that Gifford snubbed her by failing to promote her book on-air, the piece adds, citing sources close to the show. One source noted: "Both women are really strong, so tension is almost inevitable.”

The report adds: “For now, they've reached a compromise ... they would do the show for a few weeks here and there in L.A., but we're told Kathie Lee is unbending -- she wants to make the move.”

Citing sources connected to CAA, the agency that reps Kotb, the piece notes that Kotb is interested in complementing her “Today” work with additional projects -- and that could ease the standoff by bringing her to L.A.

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TVWeek's Presidents' Day Holiday Schedule

The folks here at TVWeek are off this coming Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, which is Presidents' Day.

Today we'll be publishing our full complement of items and e-newsletters, but will not on Monday.

We will be back in the saddle with our full complement of services on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.

And if there's breaking news occurring in-between, we hope to let you know with one of our TVWeek EXTRA alerts.

Have a wonderful -- and safe -- holiday weekend!

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Nike Yanks 'Bullet in the Chamber' Ad After Olympian Is Charged With Murder

Nike has yanked an ad featuring Olympic runner and murder suspect Oscar Pistorius, with the ad’s copy reading, "I am the bullet in the chamber," reports Advertising Age.

The ad was pulled from Pistorius' website Thursday, the piece notes. The ad has become part of a debate over how the advertising industry should use violent terms and images, the story notes.

Pistorius, a double amputee who earned the nickname “Blade Runner” because of his carbon-fiber blades, was charged with the Valentine's Day shooting death of his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, as previously reported.

"Nike extends its deepest sympathy and condolences to all families concerned following this tragic incident," the company said in a statement. "As it is a police matter, Nike will not comment further at this time."

nike-bullet-chamber.jpg

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Moonves: Don't Look for CBS to Tinker Much With Its Programming

CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves told analysts Thursday that the network is in good shape for the fall and “we aren’t going to need very much” in the way of new programming, reports Deadline.com.

Nevertheless, he said CBS "ordered a couple of more pilots than in previous years." He added, "My guess is there aren’t going to be a lot of new shows” when the network reveals its schedule at its upfront presentation to advertisers in May.

“Moonves was uncharacteristically reluctant to say how big a price increase he expects in this year’s upfront,” the report adds. “My sales department will kill me,” Moonves said. “Last year I said double digits [percent increase] and we only had 9%.”

Moonves added: “I’m feeling very confident.”

“But he may have to wait before advertisers are ready to go along with his proposal to measure commercial viewers based on the number of people who see them on DVRs or other platforms up to a week after they air -- up from the current three days,” the report notes.

Said Moonves: “We’re in conversations with advertisers,” but he added: “I don’t know if it will be ready for this upfront.”

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The Only Person to Attend Every Golden Globes Ceremony Dies at 93

A member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association who was the only person to attend all 70 of the Golden Globes ceremonies has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Maureen Dragone, 93, died Feb. 8, the piece reports.

Dragone was the daughter of an HFPA founder and served as the recognized historian of the organization, the story says. She also wrote "Who Makes the Golden Globes Go Around," an account of the creation of the group.

She appeared in good health on Jan. 13, when she attended the 70th Golden Globes at the Beverly Hilton. Her mother, Nora Laing, was one of the group's founders.

The story notes that her mother also died at age 93.

The first Golden Globes event took place in 1944 at the Fox studios, the piece says.

In 1978, Dragone created the Youth in Film Association, dedicated to celebrating the achievements of actors and musicians younger than 21, the story says. The group is now called the Young Artist Foundation.

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Maureen Dragone

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ABC Renews Deal for Miss America -- Pageant Set to Return to Its Roots

ABC has signed a three-year renewal for the Miss America pageant, which will return to its native Atlantic City, N.J., in September after six years in Las Vegas, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

Miss America's relationship with Atlantic City started in 1921, when organizers put together an annual pageant as a way to extend the vacation season into September, the story notes. The pageant later became a TV tradition, hosted for many years by Bert Parks.

"But in recent years, the pageant has struggled to keep up with the times as Americans' views of gender roles have changed (and also racial attitudes: for years, non-white women were barred from competing). The move to Vegas, along with a bid to ride the reality-TV wave, were part of the effort to stay relevant,” the piece reports.

The pageant attracted 6.7 million total viewers to ABC last January, which the article calls "a respectable if not spectacular figure." As recently as 1988 the show was drawing at least 50 million viewers, the piece adds.

Miss America is not associated with Miss USA, the pageant owned by Donald Trump.

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We Now Present the S-L-O-O-O-W-E-S-T Non-TV Story of the Day. Wait, Wait, It's Still S-L-O-O-O-O-W-L-Y Coming. We've Hit the Bottle Again. This Deal Is Too Thick to Come Out. Zeesch, It's Finally Here. Warren Buffett Has Bought Heinz

We like our headline, but the one in The Wall Street Journal wasn't bad either: "Investors Relishing Buffett's bid for Heinz." [WSJ articles are behind a firewall and you may be asked to pay to read them,]

The WSJ piece says, "Warren Buffett's latest monster deal, to buy H.J. Heinz for $28 billion including debt, comes after the shares had risen in a pretty straight line over four years to an all-time high. And Berkshire Hathaway, alongside partner 3G Capital of Brazil, added a 20% premium for good measure.

"The buyers are paying up for an iconic brand and a strong record of expansion -- with 30 consecutive quarters of organic revenue growth largely as a result of its growing emerging-markets presence. The deal values Heinz at 13.8 times trailing earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. Campbell Soup, by comparison, trades at 10.8 times."

The story also notes, "[E]merging markets drive between 80% and 100% of Heinz sales growth over the past five years, according to Stifel Nicolaus. Heinz got 21% of revenue from emerging markets in the fiscal year ended in April 2012 and is expected to get close to 30% of sales from those regions in the current fiscal year."

Here's an iconic Heinz commercial from 1979:

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NBC Sets Premiere Date for 'Hannibal' -- With a Surprise in the Scheduling

NBC will debut the serial killer drama "Hannibal" on April 4 at 10 p.m., giving the show a Thursday slot, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

"The time slot is a bit of a surprise,” the article notes. “One would expect given NBC’s recent drama struggles that the Bryan Fuller series would at least have its premiere stunted behind 'The Voice' this spring, a strategy that’s really helped another freshman drama, 'Revolution.'"

The time period is also when NBC had previously scheduled "Do No Harm," which was canceled after just two episodes because of low ratings.

Because NBC waited so long to announce the air date for "Hannibal," some observers speculated that the network was waiting until criticism of TV violence following the shootings in Newtown had subsided, the story notes.

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Oscar-Nominated Actress to Co-Star in NBC's 'About a Boy'

An Academy Award-nominated actress has been cast to co-star in the NBC pilot "About a Boy," based on the Nick Hornby book and the 2002 movie, reports Deadline.com.

Minnie Driver will play Fiona, the eccentric single mother who lives next door to Will, a single man-child who can't maintain a romantic relationship, the story says. Her role was played by Toni Collette in the film.

This is the second NBC comedy pilot for Driver, who received her Oscar nomination for her work in "Good Will Hunting." Driver starred in the NBC pilot "Lady Friends" last year, the story notes.

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'New Girl' Star Launches Production Company

"New Girl" star Zooey Deschanel has started a production company and signed a first-look deal with 20th Century Fox Television, which produces her Fox comedy, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Deschanel and her Hello Giggles partner Sophia Rossi will work on developing comedies and dramas as part of the two-year agreement, the story notes.

Deschanel has a producer credit on 'New Girl."

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Multiple Emmy Winner -- And 'Downton Abbey' Star -- Dame Maggie Smith Tells '60 Minutes' Why She's Never Watched 'Abbey'

Some might find this somewhat odd -- Dame Maggie Smith tells "60 Minutes" why she has never watched the award-winning drama she appears in, "Downton Abbey," reports the New York Post.. 

Says the Post, "Smith, who plays snarky dowager Lady Grantham on the popular PBS drawing-room series, says she hasn’t even seen the show -- and admits that co-workers consider her 'scary.' 'I don’t sit down and watch it,' Smith, 78, tells Steve Kroft in the interview, airing this Sunday night, Feb. 17, 2013.

Smith explains, the Post says, “I always see things that I would like to do differently and think, ‘Oh, why in the name of God did I do that?’ ”

The Post notes that Smith then added "that she’s a 'perfectionist' -- and attributes this to her age. 'You’re trying to say that I am what everybody says ... I’m scary and I understand that totally,' Smith says. 'Old people are scary and I have to face it, I am old and I am scary and I am very sorry about it but I don’t know what you do.' "

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'Survivor' Has Its Lowest-Rated Premiere Ever

Wednesday night’s season premiere of “Survivor: Caramoan: Fans vs. Favorites” had to be a big disappointment for CBS. The franchise reality show had the lowest-rated premiere in its long history, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the 90-minute “Survivor” premiere managed only a 2.4 average rating in the key demo of adults 18-49 -- well below the 3.1 delivered last spring by the premiere of “Survivor: One World.” And CBS managed only a third-place finish for prime time overall among the broadcast networks.

CBS’s “CSI” didn’t help the cause much, settling for a 2.1 average in viewers 18-49 -- off three-tenths of a ratings point from a week ago -- while winning the 10 p.m. hour.

Winning the night was Fox, even though its two-hour “American Idol” slipped three-tenths from last week and had the show’s lowest number on a Wednesdy night in 18-49 in almost 11 years -- a 4.3.

Fox’s 4.3 in the 18-49 demo led the way for prime time overall, followed by ABC (2.2 average), CBS (2.1) and NBC (1.5). Fox also won total viewers, averaging 13.4 million to CBS’s 8.5 million, ABC’s 6.8 million and NBC’s 5.4 million.

ABC’s “Modern Family” saw its fortunes improve slightly, rising one-tenth of a point to a 3.8 in viewers 18-49. “Suburgatory” ticked up two-tenths to a 2.2 and “Nashville” rose one-tenth from last week’s series low to a 1.8, while “Neighbors” held steady with a 1.7. The bad news for ABC: “The Middle” plummeted four-tenths to a season-low 1.9.

NBC’s best number in 18-49 was a 1.9 for “Chicago Fire,” even with last week; “Guys With Kids” trended downward, sinking to a series-low 1.0, off two-tenths. “Whitney” held steady with a 1.2 and “Law & Order: SVU” improved one-tenth to a 1.6.

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Chubby Checker Sues Hewlett-Packard Over Its 'Chubby Checker' App ... and This Story Is Every Bit as Risque as You Might Think

Rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Chubby Checker is suing tech firm Hewlett-Packard over a smartphone app called “The Chubby Checker,” which reportedly estimates a man’s penis size based on his shoe size, according to LegalExaminer.com.

The man whose name, up until now, was synonymous with the 1960 megahit “The Twist,” is apparently unhappy about this new use of his name. Checker filed a suit against HP and its Palm subsidiary seeking compensation for the use and defamation of the name, the piece reports.

“According to the suit, the name ‘Chubby Checker’ is likely to associate the music legend’s image with obscene, sexual connotation and images,” the article reports. “The lawsuit also claims that it misleads the public into believing that Chubby Checker has endorsed the app.”

The piece adds: “You might be thinking … Does Chubby have small feet? Performance anxiety? Is he looking for publicity? Some may think that this is a frivolous lawsuit, and perhaps it is. But we are talking about a music legend that has spent over 50 years building his name and image. While the app may prevent the disappointment of women who seek to ‘size up a man,’ Chubby Checker, the man, may be more concerned about his good name being associated with such a product.”

Willie Gary, an attorney for Checker, indicated there’s nothing frivolous about the suit. “This lawsuit is about preserving the integrity and legacy of a man who spent years working hard at his musical craft and has earned the position of one of the greatest musical entertainers of all time,” he said.

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Discovery Is Bullish on OWN

Discovery CEO David Zaslav talked about the prospects for OWN -- a joint venture of Discovery and Oprah Winfrey -- in a call this morning with analysts, saying ratings for the cable channel are “ahead of where we thought we’d be,” Deadline.com reports.

The report notes: “The audience was up in all 12 months of 2012, and was +36% for the full year. He’s also encouraged by the two series from Tyler Perry that are scheduled to launch in May: a drama, ‘The Haves And the Have Nots,’ and a comedy, ‘Love Thy Neighbor.’”

Said Zaslav: “I’ve seen the scripts and they look strong.” The report notes that Winfrey is actively involved with the projects.

The report notes that Zaslav said Perry just “sent me some pictures and Oprah was in the control room,” Zaslav says.

Zaslav’s bottom-line assessment, according to the report, is that “Discovery is ‘fully on track’ to see OWN‘s cash flow break even in the second half of 2013. CFO Andy Warren adds that Discovery ‘achieved our objective’ of providing less funding for OWN in 2012 than it did in 2011.”

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Most Amazing Non-TV Story of the Day: FDA Approves Treatment That Gives the Blind Limited Vision

"The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved the first treatment to give limited vision to people who are blind, involving a technology called the 'artificial retina,' " reports The New York Times.

The article, written by Pam Belluck, continues, "With it, people with certain types of blindness can detect crosswalks on the street, burners on a stove, the presence of people or cars, and sometimes even oversized numbers or letters. 

"The artificial retina is a sheet of electrodes surgically implanted in the eye. The patient is also outfitted with a pair of glasses with an attached camera and a portable video processor. These elements together allow visual signals to bypass the damaged portion of the retina and be transmitted to the brain. The F.D.A. approval covers this integrated system, which the manufacturer calls Argus II."

Please click on the link above to read all of Belluck's piece about this significant scientific development.

 

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Jenny McCarthy Wades Into Rex Reed's War of Words Against Her Cousin Melissa

Actress Jenny McCarthy, host of “The Jenny McCarthy Show” on VH1, has weighed in on film reviewer Rex Reed’s criticism of her cousin Melissa, and it boils down to this: "He can go to hell,” E! Online reports.

As previously reported, Reed skewered Melissa McCarthy, the Emmy-winning star of CBS’s “Mike & Molly,” in his review of her new film “Identity Thief,” focusing on her weight and describing her as a "screeching, humongous creep" and a "female hippo."

In a recent interview with E! News, Jenny McCarthy said: "I don't have the whole story, but I do know that, after being in this business 20 years, it's really crummy that you get attacked in your personal life in general.”

The report adds: “The story in a nutshell is that Reed, in panning ‘Identity Thief’ in the New York Observer, referred to ‘tractor-sized Melissa McCarthy’ and called the Oscar-nominated actress a ‘gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success.’"

Said her cousin Jenny: "That's obnoxious in itself. For anyone to attack like that, it's just wrong and hurtful, and it doesn't do anyone any good -- not even Rex Reed, you know?"

Reed has taken fire from others as well in the wake of the review. Among them, “Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig, who tweeted: "For his catty and school bully name-calling of the supremely talented Melissa McCarthy, I cordially invite Mr. Rex Reed to go f--k himself."

Reed defended himself in an interview this week:

"My point was that I object to using health issues like obesity as comic talking points," Reed is quoted by E! as telling WOR 710's Mark Simone. "She is basing her career on being obnoxious and being overweight. And I don't think that's funny. I have too many friends that have died of obesity-related illnesses, heart problems and diabetes, and I have actually lost friends to this. ... I don't care how much she weighs. I don't care how much Melissa McCarthy weighs. She wants to be fat? Mark, she's crying all the way to the bank."

Jenny McCarthy’s final word on the topic in her E! interview: "She's very, very talented and people know that, so ... he can go to hell."

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Game Show Icons to Receive Lifetime Achievement Awards

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced today that it will present the Lifetime Achievement Award to two game show veterans -- iconic host Monty Hall and legendary producer Bob Stewart. The presentations will be made at the 40th Annual Daytime Entertainment Emmy Awards.

Hall is best known for his long run as host of “Let’s Make A Deal.” Hall has hosted the show in every decade since the 1960s, including a week of appearances in 2010 at age 88. Stewart is the creator of “To Tell the Truth,” “Password” and “The $10,000 Pyramid,” among other successful TV game shows.

Said Malachy Wienges, chairman of NATAS: “Aside from all of the excitement around our 40th anniversary, we are honoring two giants in game show history. So many of us grew up watching Monty Hall excite us with what was behind Door #1, #2 or #3 and found ourselves addicted to the challenge and imagination of Bob Stewart’s classic ‘To Tell the Truth,’ ‘Password,’ ‘Pyramid’ and others. The high-water mark these two pioneers have made in daytime television is unparalleled and the entire Emmy Award community stands in appreciation for the immeasurable contribution they have made to the game show genre.”

The date and location for the Daytime Emmys ceremony has not been announced yet.

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Freshman Talk Show Canceled as Daytime Toll Mounts

Another entry in the crowded field of freshman daytime talk shows has been canceled, as the casualty count climbs. Failing to survive to a second season is "The Jeff Probst Show," the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports.

The cancellation comes a week after "The Ricki Lake Show" was canceled by Twentieth Television.

Probst, who hosts CBS’s “Survivor,” said in a statement: “I'm super bummed but extremely proud. The truth is all shows come to an end. Ours just ended a decade sooner than we had hoped.”

CBS Television Distribution decided not to continue the show with Probst even though it had a two-year deal for distribution. Probst’s show never gained ratings momentum in the crowded daytime talk arena, the story notes.

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'How I Met Your Mother' Star Says a Mentally Unstable Man Has Threatened to Kill Her

One of the stars of the hit CBS sitcom "How I Met Your Mother" has taken out a restraining order against a man she claims is mentally unstable and has threatened to kill her, TMZ.com reports.

Alyson Hannigan filed a request for a restraining order in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging John Hobbs had threatened her online, the piece reports. She alleges that Hobbs suggested he would rape her, posting a message that read, "Lets see How can I get myself in troble today [sic]. If I go with what I've been acussed of Most of my Life, I suppose I should start with being a rapist, so any nice girls out there want to get raped [sic]?"

Hannigan also received protection for her husband and two children, and a hearing scheduled for March 6 will determine whether to make the restraining order permanent.

Hannigan, who also starred in “American Pie,” says Hobbs was recently discharged from a mental hospital.

alyson-hannigan.jpgAlyson Hannigan

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AMC May Use Hit Series to Flesh Out IFC's Negotiating Position

IFC, the lower-rated sister network to AMC, may end up airing episodes of the zombie hit "The Walking Dead," which could bolster IFC's ratings and give the channel leverage when negotiating with pay-TV providers, reports the New York Post.

AMC Networks Chief Executive Josh Sapan and Charlie Collier, the president and general manager of the AMC channel, are talking about the plan, the story says.

The discussions come as Time Warner Cable is talks to renew its agreement to carry AMC's IFC and WE tv. The cable operator reportedly doesn't want to pay increases for the smaller networks.

A representative for AMC declined to comment.

As previously reported, the midseason third-season premiere of "The Walking Dead" broke viewership records earlier this month, drawing 12.3 million total viewers.

The Post report notes: “Separately, repeats of another AMC hit, ‘Breaking Bad,’ are headed to its Sundance Channel.”

The report adds: “The AMC flagship gets between 30 cents and 50 cents per subscriber a month from cable and satellite-TV providers but is trying to raise that to about 75 cents. Combined, IFC, WE tv and Sundance Channel get about 47 cents per subscriber a month.”

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Former Senator Joins Fox News

Fox News has hired a former Massachusetts senator as a contributor, TVNewser.com reports. Joining the cable channel is Scott Brown, who was elected to fill out the term of the late Ted Kennedy in the U.S. Senate in a special election in 2010.

Brown lost his bid last year to win a full term when Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren defeated him. Brown was the first Republican elected to the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts in almost 40 years.

In a statement, Fox News Executive Vice President of Programming Bill Shine said: “Senator Brown’s dedication to out-of-the box thinking on key issues makes him an important voice in the country and we are looking forward to his contributions across all Fox News platforms.”

Brown debuted Wednesday night on “Hannity.”

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Scott Brown

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Olympic Star Charged With Murder

An Olympic athlete who made history last year at the London Games was arrested today and charged with murder, The New York Times reports.

Oscar Pistorius, who was the first double amputee sprinter to compete in the Olympics, is accused of fatally shooting Reeva Steenkamp, a model who had been seen with Pistorius at society events and who was said to be his girlfriend, the story reports.

Pistorius reached the 400-meter semifinal and competed in the 4x400 meter relay in the 2012 Olympics. Because of his carbon fiber prosthetic blades, he was given the nickname Blade Runner, the report notes.

Pistorius, 26, also won two gold medals and a silver at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.

The story reports: "Early Thursday morning, the police responded to a report of gunshots in the upscale housing complex where Mr. Pistorius lives, said Col. Katlego Mogale, a police spokeswoman. When they arrived, they found paramedics treating a 30-year-old woman for gunshot wounds. The woman was pronounced dead and a 26-year-old man was taken into custody, Colonel Mogale said."

Local media reports indicated that Pistorius said the shooting was an accident and that he thought the victim was an intruder, the story says.

“But speaking to reporters in Pretoria, another police spokeswoman, Brig. Denise Beukes, said those reports had taken her by surprise,” The Times reports. “She also said that the police had responded previously to complaints of a ‘domestic nature’ at the runner’s home but declined to give further details.”

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Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp

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'Harry Potter' Sidekick Steps Up to Superhero Role in New CBS Comedy

One of the stars of the "Harry Potter" film series will step up to a lead role in a new CBS comedy project, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Rupert Grint, who played Harry’s friend Ron in the movie franchise, will star in the title role of "Super Clyde," the story reports. The comedy, which has received a pilot order, is about a meek fast-food worker -- and avid comic book reader -- who decides to transform into a superhero after inheriting $100,000 per month from an eccentric uncle, the story says.

Greg Garcia of "Raising Hope" will write and executive produce the single-camera comedy, produced by CBS Television Studios. "Super Clyde" is one of two pilots from Garcia ordered by CBS, with an untitled family comedy also in the works.

If the project receives a series order it will mark Grint's debut as a TV series regular. 

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Rupert Grint

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NBC Trims Order for Summer Series

NBC has cut back on its order for a summer dramedy series, reports Deadline.com. The project, from Liz Heldens of "Deception" and the production company BermanBraun, is “Camp.”

The network has reduced its order to 10 episodes, down from 13, the story reports.

The series is said to be in the tradition of "Meatballs" and "Dazed and Confused." The order cutback was apparently driven by scheduling needs, the story says.

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ABC Series Survives for Now, Gets Shuffled to Friday Nights as Network Shakes Up Its Schedule

Being shuffled to Friday night isn’t good news for a TV series, but it does beat getting canceled. So it’s reasonably good news -- at least for the time being -- for the troubled ABC series “Happy Endings.” The Huffington Post reports that the sputtering ensemble comedy is moving to Friday starting March 29.

“The critically acclaimed series will air back-to-back episodes from 8-9 p.m. EST, taking over the slot from ‘Last Man Standing’ and ‘Malibu Country’ after the two series conclude their respective sophomore and freshman seasons,” the story reports. “This is the latest in a long line of scheduling woes for ‘Happy Endings.’ After the cancellation of ‘666 Park Avenue,’ ABC tested the comedy on Sunday nights (in addition to its regular Tuesday slot) in an attempt to draw more viewers, before it was bumped from the Sunday schedule a few weeks later. Its timeslot partner, ‘Don't Trust The B---- In Apartment 23,’ was pulled from air last month, leaving ‘Happy Endings’ airing back-to-back episodes on Tuesdays.”

One of the show’s stars, Eliza Coupe, has indicated that the network has been lackluster in its support for the show. Coupe told ETOnline: "It's a running joke on set when we film something we all think is incredible that someone goes, 'Oh man, that was so good -- it's too bad no one will ever see it.' ... Do we wish there was more publicity? Yeah. But it's undeniable we're making a great show. I just wish we had more of a push, and I really hope we get a fourth season -- but that's not up to me."

Huff Post notes: “It's not all bad news for the series, though -- star Elisha Cuthbert was just named Maxim's Most Beautiful Woman on Television ... so someone must be watching.”

ABC also announced that the new season of "Celebrity Wife Swap" will launch Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 8 p.m. ET, with "The Taste" moving to 9 p.m. “The first ‘Celebrity Wife Swap’ episode will feature Playmate Kendra Wilkinson and ‘Kate Plus Eight’ star Kate Gosselin swapping lives, children and homes,” Huff Post notes.

elisha-cuthbert2.jpgElisha Cuthbert

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CNN's Ratings Boosted by Manhunt, Obama Address

CNN had a surge in ratings Tuesday night as the channel split time between covering the Christopher Dorner manhunt in California and President Obama’s State of the Union address, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

While overall ratings for the State of the Union address were down, CNN's were up 36% from the speech a year earlier in total viewers, the story notes.

"More significantly, CNN was the easy winner among the three cable news networks in reaching viewers in the category that generates the most ad sales for news programming: viewers between the ages of 25 and 54," the piece notes.

In total viewers CNN drew 3.635 million for the hour of the speech, up from 2.670 million a year ago. That compares with 3.683 million for Fox News (down from 3.812 million) and 3.034 for MSNBC (up from 2.815 million), the story adds.

“But in the 25-to-54 group, Fox News fell to third place with 957,000 viewers,” The Times reports. “CNN had a big edge with 1.436 million in that category. MSNBC had 1.028 million.”

The piece notes: “CNN generally does especially well during breaking news stories, and the speech followed closely the coverage of the police shootout with the fugitive Christopher Dorner in the snowy forest near Big Bear Lake in California.”

As the start of the State of the Union approached Tuesday night, CNN referred viewers to its sister channel HLN to follow developments in the Dorner case while the flagship channel focused on the speech.

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ABC Family Orders Two New Series

Two new series are in the works at ABC Family, Deadline.com reports. The cable channel has ordered a show called "Dancing Fools" and a docu-soap called "The Vineyard," the story reports.

The premise of "Dancing Fools" is being kept quiet, but the article speculates that it will be a new take on a party game. It comes from Phil Gurin of "The Singing Bee" and "Oh Sit," in which karaoke and musical chairs are turned into reality shows.

"The Vineyard" is a coming-of-age show about 20-somethings on Martha's Vineyard during the summer. Both shows will debut in the summer.

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Media Company With 110-Year History in Hunt for Time Inc. Magazines

A media company started more than 110 years ago -- in 1902 -- is in talks with Time Warner about acquiring some of the Time Inc. magazines, reports The New York Times Media Decoder.

Says the story: "Time Warner is in early discussions with the Meredith Corporation [based in Des Moines, Iowa] to put most of Time Inc.’s magazines -- including People, InStyle and Real Simple -- into a separate, publicly traded company that would also include Meredith titles like Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies’ Home Journal."

The article continues, "The new company would then borrow money to pay a one-time dividend back to Time Warner, essentially turning what appears to be a corporate spinoff into a sale. The figure being discussed is $1.75 billion, according to the people involved in the negotiations, who requested anonymity to discuss private conversations publicly."

Meredith also owns 12 TV stations in such cities as Atlanta, Phoenix, Porland (Oregon) and Hartford/New Haven in Connecticut.

The Times story also notes: "The deal under consideration is one of several options Time Warner is exploring to reduce its troubled publishing unit. As part of the agreement, existing shareholders in Time Warner and Meredith would receive stakes in the new venture. That venture would be primarily a women’s magazine company, expanding on Meredith’s stable of lifestyle publications with strong female readership, especially in the Midwestern United States."

TVWeek's sibling publication Advertising Age previously published a story saying that Warren Buffett may also be interested in some of the Time Inc. magazines.

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'Glee' Producer Joins ABC Comedy

One of the producers behind the Fox series “Glee” has signed an overall deal with ABC Studios. Deadline.com reports that “Glee” co-executive producer Stacy Traub joins the company’s “Middle Age Rage,” a comedy pilot at ABC, as executive producer.

“Written by Cheryl Holliday, ‘Middle Age Rage’ chronicles what happens when a middle-aged wife and mother is fed up with feeling invisible and begins to speak up and demand the respect she feels she’s earned,” Deadline reports. “Holliday and Traub executive produce with Amblin TV’s Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey.”

Traub, who created “Notes From the Underbelly,” has also sold a comedy starring Angela Kinsey of “The Office” and Rachael Harris, which received a put pilot commitment from Fox, the piece notes.

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Mark Consuelos Lands Pilot, Co-Starring with John Goodman

Mark Consuelos has been tapped as a lead opposite John Goodman in a comedy pilot, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

The article notes that the sitcom pilot is "Alpha House," which is being done for Amazon Studios. "Yara Martinez and Kobi Libii also have been cast in the pilot written by Garry Trudeau. 'Alpha House' follows four senators who live together in a rented house in Washington DC. Consuelos will play one of them, Andy Guzman, a young, handsome, confident senator with an excess of charm & swagger. An irresistible rogue. Goodman plays another senator."

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ABC Announces Midseason Scheduling Moves

ABC has released this press release:

ABC ANNOUNCES MIDSEASON SCHEDULING MOVES


“Celebrity Wife Swap” Returns with All-New Episodes Beginning
Tuesday, February 26 at 8:00 p.m., and “The Taste” Moves to 9:00 p.m. That Same Night

“Happy Endings” Moves to Fridays at 8:00 p.m. Starting March 29


ABC announces midseason scheduling moves, with “Celebrity Wife Swap,” the reality series that shines a light on how controversial celebrities really live their lives, returning on TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26 from 8:00-9:00 p.m., ET with all-new episodes, and competitive cooking show “The Taste” moving back an hour to 9:00-10:00 p.m., starting that same night. Beginning FRIDAY, MARCH 29, critically acclaimed comedy “Happy Endings” will move to Friday nights, airing back-to-back original episodes from 8:00-9:00 p.m., ET.

Please note: The Friday night comedy block of “Last Man Standing” and “Malibu Country” will have aired their season finales prior to “Happy Endings” taking over that timeslot.

The February 26 season premiere of “Celebrity Wife Swap” features the unlikeliest of moms swapping lives -- “Splash” contestant and Playmate Kendra Wilkinson and reality super mom Kate Gosselin of “Kate Plus Eight” fame. “Celebrity Wife Swap” follows mothers in two celebrity families with very different values as they swap lifestyles, children and homes (but not bedrooms), for one week and embark on a journey like no other. They’re given the chance to see how another celebrity raises their children and deals with life in the spotlight, while allowing both couples the opportunity to re-discover why they love each other and why they decided to get together in the first place.

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Is Warren Buffett the Sexiest Man Alive? It Could Happen If He Follows Through on a Possible Purchase of Much of Time Inc.

Time Warner is negotiating to sell much of its Time Inc. magazine division -- including People, InStyle and Real Simple, Advertising Age reports, citing a report in another Time Inc. publication, Fortune. Fortune itself is reportedly not part of the potential sale package, nor are Time magazine or Sports Illustrated.

“Speculation immediately turned to the identity of the potential ‘serious buyer’ mentioned but not named in the article,” Ad Age reports. “BDT Capital is run by Byron Trott, a former Goldman Sachs executive known for a relationship with Warren Buffett, who has been making counterintuitive publishing investments lately in the form of newspaper acquisitions. Mr. Trott was a key player in Mr. Buffett's investment in Goldman Sachs in 2008.”

So is Buffett trying to buy the magazines? No one is sure, but Ad Age notes that former Time Warner CEO Dick Parsons once told a town hall meeting that Buffett had urged him not to sell Time Inc. but added at the time: "If you do sell it, sell it to me.”

A rep for Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Please click on the above link to read Ad Age's in-depth report on where things stand with the possible sale.

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Former Obama Press Secretary Lands TV News Job

A former White House press secretary under President Obama, who also was a senior adviser to the 2012 Obama campaign, is moving into TV news. Politico reports that Robert Gibbs has joined NBC News and MSNBC as a contributor.

“MSNBC spokesperson Lauren Skowronski confirmed the news tonight after MSNBC's Rachel Maddow introduced Gibbs as a contributor on air,” the piece reports. “An NBC News source told Politico that Gibbs would also be a contributor on NBC News.”

Gibbs was Obama’s press secretary from 2009 to 2011.

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How Univision Beat All the English-Language Broadcast Networks Tuesday Night

Spanish-language broadcaster Univision came up with a simple formula for success Tuesday night, beating all the English-language broadcast networks in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights. The secret to its success was skipping the State of the Union Address, which saw its ratings dip from last year’s speech across all of broadcast. Univision aired a lineup of original dramas.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that Univision averaged a 1.6 rating in viewers 18-49 for prime time to lead all broadcast nets, followed by NBC (1.4 average), ABC (1.3), CBS (1.2) and Fox (1.0). That advantage failed to hold up in total viewers, where CBS led the way with 6.9 million, followed by NBC (5.3 million), ABC (4.4 million), Univision (3.8 million) and Fox (2.5 million).

Leading up to the State of the Union at 9 p.m., CBS, NBC and Fox aired repeat programming, while ABC put up a fresh episode of “The Taste.” The series notched its lowest average ever in 18-49, a 1.5 -- down three-tenths from a week ago.

Coverage of the State of the Union -- which was commercial-free on all broadcast networks -- fared best on NBC, which pulled a 1.6 average rating in the 18-49 demo for the speech, down from a 2.0 a year ago, followed by a 1.2 on ABC (down from a 1.4), a 1.1 on CBS (down from a 1.5) and a 0.9 on Fox (down from a 1.7).

Low ratings for the State of the Union are partially explained by its being carried on a wide range of broadcast and cable outlets.

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TV's 'Lincoln' Lands Fox Drama Pilot

The actor who will be seen as President Lincoln this weekend in “Killing Lincoln” on the National Geographic Channel has been cast in Fox’s drama pilot “Delirium,” TVLine.com reports.

Billy Campbell, who’s known for his role as Darren Richmond in the AMC series “The Killing,” will play Thomas Fineman in the new dystopian Fox project, the story reports.

“Delirium is “set in a world where love is deemed illegal and is able to be eradicated with a special procedure,” TVLine reports. “Thomas is a wealthy lobbyist who supports the use of the procedure, which leads to a peaceful society free of the ups and downs of romantic entanglement. Despite his good looks and perfect image, though, Campbell’s character can be reduced to unbridled rage during times of trouble.”

As previously reported, “Delirium” also stars Emma Roberts, the niece of superstar actress Julia Roberts. Emma Roberts plays “a defiant teen who falls in love 95 days before her scheduled treatment,” the report notes.

The project is based on a series of young-adult novels by Lauren Oliver.

The report adds: “The pilot’s script was written by Karyn Usher (‘Prison Break’), who will serve as an EP alongside Peter Chernin and Katherine Pope.”

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Billy Campbell

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Top Local NBC Broadcasting Veteran Moving to Head Up Tribune's Local Broadcasting Unit

A top NBC local TV veteran has been chosen to head up Tribune's local braodcasting unit, reports B&C

According to the story by our good friend -- and B&C editor -- Melissa Grego, "NBCU veteran broadcasting executive Larry Wert has been named president of local broadcasting for Tribune Company, where he will direct strategy and operations of Tribune's 23 local television stations and WGN Radio in Chicago. He will report directly to Tribune's newly installed CEO Peter Liguori and continue to be based in Chicago. Wert's start date has not yet been set.

"A Chicago native, Wert, who has more than 30 years of broadcasting experience, has been with NBCU for 15 years and most recently served as president/GM of WMAQ in Chicago and executive VP, station initiatives, NBC Owned Stations."

The article adds, "Nils Larsen, president of Tribune Broadcasting, will assist Wert in the transition to his new position with Tribune, according to a company news release."

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New CNN Show Gets a Name

Plans continue to coalesce for CNN’s newest show. We reported yesterday that a program built around former ABC News senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper is getting the 4 p.m. slot, and today word surfaced that the show will be called “The Lead," according to TVNewser.

Tapper’s program will go head-to-head with Fox News’ “Your World with Neil Cavuto” and MSNBC’s Martin Bashir.

“The Lead” is set to launch in March, with former MSNBC-er Federico Quadrani on board as executive producer.

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'Friends' Star May Take Over for Christina Applegate on NBC's 'Up all Night'

With the departure of Christina Applegate from the ratings-challenged NBC comedy "Up All Night," there's talk that the list of actresses NBC is eyeing as possible replacements includes "Friends" star Lisa Kudrow, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

The series is going ahead with taping one episode without Applegate, and has tapped in-demand director James Burrows, who is also directing three pilots this season, Andreeva writes. Burrows directed a number of "Friends" episodes in the 1990s.

Burrows will tape the single episode in a multicamera format, part of the plan to turn the ratings-challenged comedy away from its single-camera format, the story says. While NBC originally ordered five episodes to be taped in front of a live audience, that order has now been cut to one.

"Up All Night" has struggled to attract viewers and has been overhauled recently, as previously reported. Applegate exited the show earlier this week, citing creative differences.

NBC had no comment, the story says.

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Lisa Kudrow

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Steve Martin Becomes a Father at Age 67

Comedy legend and renaissance man Steve Martin has become a father for the first time at age 67, the New York Post reports. The stand-up comedian, actor, author, producer and banjo picker welcomed his first child with his wife, Anne Stringfield, 41, in December, the story reports.

Said a source: “They’ve had a baby, and how they kept it a secret nobody knows. Steve’s very private.”

The report notes: “The couple married in 2007 at Martin’s home in a surprise ceremony where guests, including Tom Hanks and Diane Keaton, were told it was a party.”

The piece notes that Martin has talked about his difficulties with his own dad, writing: “My father’s attitude toward my show-business accomplishments was critical. After my first appearance on ‘Saturday Night Live’ ... he wrote a bad review of me in the newsletter of the Newport Board of Realtors where he was president.”

The piece adds: “But Martin wrote in 2008, years after his father died, ‘In his death, my father ... did something he could not do in life. He brought our family together.”

TMZ.com notes: “Steve wouldn't be the first celebrity dad to father a kid in his 60s ... Rod Stewart did it (66 years old) ... so did Pablo Picasso (67) and Clint Eastwood (66).

“And ... Charlie Chaplin had a kid when he was 73.”

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Steve Martin

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TV Reporter Caught in Crossfire of Christopher Dorner Shootout

One of the television reporters covering Tuesday’s dramatic developments in the manhunt for alleged cop killer Christopher Dorner was caught in the crossfire of a shootout between Dorner and police, EW.com’s Inside TV reports.

Carter Evans was reporting live for CBS owned-and-operated station KCBS-TV from the Big Bear area in Southern California when gunfire could be heard. The police were heard yelling to the reporter, "Get the f--- out," the story says. Evans said during a televised report that he wasn't sure where to go.

Dorner, a former Los Angeles police officer thought to be responsible for the killings of four people, including two police officers, is believed to have died Tuesday in a mountain cabin that burned down near Big Bear. Authorities have yet to confirm his death.

Evans, who was previously with CNN, was unharmed in the gunfight, and called in a couple of hours later to say he was about 100 yards away from the cabin where Dorner was hiding, according to CBSNews.com.

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Carter Evans

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Today's Must-See Story. Finally, Intel Is On-the-Record About Its Forthcoming Web-Based TV Service. But Why Is It Better Than Streaming Services Like Netflix or Amazon or Hulu-Plus From Your Game Console to Your HDTV? Or Better Than Roku or Apple TV?

For the first time, an Intel executive goes on-the-record about the company's new over-the-top Web-based TV service. The most controversial feature of Intel's new service is that it will have a camera in its hardware device to identify who's watching the TV at any given moment. The person interviewed is Erik Huggers, the corporate vice president of Intel Media. The interviewers are Walt Mossberg (with the beard) and Peter Kafka, both of AllThingsD. more »

Why NBC May Move Part of 'Today' Show Broadcast to West Coast

The fourth hour of "Today" has relocated to Los Angeles for a two-week stint, with its co-hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb reportedly in a "test run" for a possible permanent move, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

Gifford is eager to move to Los Angeles, since her son, Cody, is a senior at USC and her teenage daughter, Cassidy, is a model and actress. Gifford would have to convince Kotb to leave New York, however, the story says.

A representative for "Today" said, "We’re having a great time in sunny L.A., and while we might make the trip back next winter, we have no plans to permanently move [the women] to L.A.”

The report adds: “On the bright side, the (for now) temporary move might give the beleaguered show’s ratings a much-needed jolt. Rival ‘Good Morning America’ has bested ‘Today’ for six straight months in total viewers, according to reports last week, the first time in 20 years for the ABC morning competitor.”

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Talk Show Host Temporarily Blinded in On-Set Fight

Talk show host Steve Wilkos was temporarily blinded after he was hit above the eye during an on-set fight among his guests, reports TMZ.com.

The fight happened during a segment called "My daughter tried to poison me." Wilkos, a former bodyguard on “Jerry Springer,” was hit with a metal bowl, which the story says was a prop on the set.

The bowl has reportedly been bolted down to prevent any more incidents, the story adds.

Ultimately, Wilkos had no serious injury, the piece notes.

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Lady Gaga Unable to Walk, Postpones Concerts

Lady Gaga disclosed that she has a medical condition that has left her unable to walk, and has postponed several concerts as a result, reports People.com.

Gaga, 26, said she has synovitis, a severe inflammation of the joints.

"I've been hiding a show injury and chronic pain for some time now, [and] over the past month it has worsened," Gaga wrote Tuesday on her Facebook page. “I've been praying it would heal. I hid it from my staff. I didn't want to disappoint my amazing fans. However, after last night's performance I could not walk and still can't."

The singer postponed concerts in Chicago, Detroit and Hamilton, Ontario.

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Disgraced Journalist, Accused of Plagiarism and Fired From The New Yorker, Explains Why He Did It

Disgraced journalist Jonah Lehrer, who was fired from his job at The New Yorker after it was discovered that he fabricated quotes and plagiarized material, addressed his downfall for the first time in public, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Lehrer blamed arrogance and a "tendency to believe my own excuses" during a speech sponsored by the Knight Foundation in Miami. Lehrer received $20,000 for the speech, which the foundation described as a typical honorarium for a speaker at a Knight event.

Lehrer said that any future writing would be "fact-checked and fully footnoted."

He also blamed his high IQ for his downfall. "Being smart, having a high IQ, can actually make you more vulnerable to [biases]," he said. "Self-awareness is not enough, not even close."

He added that he thought about quitting writing, but now is writing for a few hours a day.

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'America's Got Talent' to Bring Back Howie Mandel

"America's Got Talent" will bring back Howie Mandel, who is now set for his fourth go-around as a judge on NBC’s summer talent-competition show, reports Deadline.com.

Mandel will rejoin Howard Stern at the judges' table. The show hasn't yet named a replacement for former judge Sharon Osbourne.

The show starts taping on March 4 in New Orleans.

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Channel Will Air Singer's Reality Show Despite Her Death in Plane Crash

A reality show that was taped shortly before the death of its star in a plane crash will make it to air, the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports.

Mun2 said it will air the final season of “I Love Jenni” starting April 14. It will be the third season of the series focused on Latin music star Jenni Rivera.

Mun2 said the program will include final footage of Rivera, along with footage of her family members as they cope with her loss. Mun2, a division of Telemundo, will also televise an hourlong special called "We Love Jenni," which will air April 7.

Rivera died in December in a plane crash in Mexico, as previously reported. At the time of her death, news had recently surfaced that ABC was developing a sitcom starring Rivera, as we reported separately.

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Jenni Rivera

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Comcast to Buy GE's Remaining Stake in NBCU

Comcast has agreed to buy out General Electric's remaining stake in NBCUniversal, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder. Comcast will reportedly pay $16.7 billion.

The agreement speeds up a process that was previously expected to take several years, the article notes. The acquisition of the 49% stake in NBCUniversal that Comcast didn't already own will be completed by March.

“We always thought it was a strong possibility that we’d someday own 100 percent,” said Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts.

The need to own content as well as a cable-TV operation helped the company make the decision, Roberts said, citing the quickly changing television industry. "It’s been a very smooth couple of years, and the content continues to get more valuable with new revenue streams,” Roberts said.

NBCUniversal will also buy the NBC studios and offices at 30 Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, and CNBC's headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. Those purchases will amount to about $1.4 billion.

30 Rockefeller Center is "iconic," Roberts said, adding: "We’re proud to be associated with it.”

The show "30 Rock" took place there, and programs such as "Today" and "Saturday Night Live" are also taped at Rockefeller Center.

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Oscar-Nominated Actress Joins NBC's 'Hatfields & McCoys'

An Oscar-nominated actress has been cast in NBC's drama pilot "Hatfields & McCoys," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Virginia Madsen, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her work in the film "Sideways," will play Eloise McCoy, the story reports. Her character is described as a woman who has survived a tough background and puts her family first. She's also vengeful, and gets one of the McCoys to take revenge on the Hatfields after her husband is murdered.

The project is set in modern-day Pittsburgh, where the blue-collar McCoys battle against the wealthy Hatfields.

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Virginia Madsen

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'Champagne Wishes 2.0'? 1980s Show About the Rich and Famous Returning to TV

The show that made the phrase “champagne wishes and caviar dreams” famous is returning to television in rebooted form, TheWrap.com reports.

Style Media is reviving the the 1980s and 1990s syndicated television series "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," with the title now being reported as "Life Styles of the Rich and Famous."

The series' previous host, Robin Leach, will not be involved, the story says. The original program aired from 1984-1995.

“Produced by RelativityREAL with Television 360 and Rysher Entertainment, the show will take viewers on a ‘humorous, informative and fun’ ride through the most glamorous locations where the world's wealthy elite mix and mingle,” TheWrap reports. “Tom Forman and Brad Bishop are executive producing for RelativityREAL with Daniel Rappaport and Scott Lambert for Television 360 and Patrick Gunn at Rysher.”

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Netflix Teams Up with DreamWorks Animation for Netflix's First Original Kids Series

Netflix and DreamWorks Animation are teaming together "to create an original series for children based on the upcoming film 'Turbo.' Due this summer, that film stars a speedy snail. The TV series. 'Turbo F.A.S.T.,' which picks up were the film leaves off, is scheduled to debut on Netflix in December,reports USA Today.

The story continues, " 'Families love Netflix, so creating an original series for kids was a natural for us,' said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos in a statement announcing the deal, adding, 'DreamWorks Animation has a long track record of creating incredibly successful characters and stories that delight people of all ages.' "

DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said in the announcement, "Netflix boasts one of the largest and fastest-growing audiences in kids' television. They pioneered a new model for TV dramas with 'House of Cards,' and now together, we're doing the same thing with kids' programming. DreamWorks is thrilled to be part of the television revolution."

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Ex-Cop and Murder Suspect Christopher Dorner Holed Up in Cabin Near Mentone, Calif., About 30 Miles Down the Mountain From Big Bear, Calif. Where Police Had Been Searching for the Suspect. Has CNN Misread a Newspaper Report?

CNN, Fox News and a number of other media outlets are reporting that murder suspect Christopher Dorner is currently in a cabin near Mentone, Calif. Mentone is about 30 miles southeast from Big Bear, Calif., the mountain town where police were seaching for Dorner.

Reports were unclear as to whether or not there were hostages in the cabin, which is in an area that is covered with snow. Reports said there had been an exchange of gunfire, and two sheriff''s deputies have been injured.

A report on the website of the Los Angeles Times filed at 2:32 p.m. PT today, 2/12/2013, says, "Days ago, Dorner broke into a cabin off Route 38, a source said. He allegedly tied up the couple inside and held them hostage until Tuesday morning when he left. It is unclear whether Dorner stole their vehicle or another, but Fish and Wildlife officers knew to be on the lookout for a white pickup truck when they spotted Dorner driving one and attempted to stop him, the source said.

"Dorner crashed the truck during the ensuing chase and allegedly exchanged gunfire with the officers as he fled into another cabin, where he was quickly surrounded by San Bernardino sheriff’s deputies. The source said one deputy was hit as Dorner fired out of the cabin and a second was injured when Dorner exited the back of the cabin, deployed a smoke bomb and opened fire again in an apparent attempt to flee. Dorner was driven back inside the cabin, the source said.

"There was initial confusion as to where a helicopter should land to evacuate the injured officers,  so deputies used their own smoke bombs to provide enough cover to carry the wounded to a pickup truck that took them to the waiting helicopter."

At 2:42 pm PT, Wolf Blitzer on CNN said that Dorner was indeed currently holding hostages in the cabin he is now in. Blitzer claimed that the information was from the L.A. Times, and had not been independently confirmed by CNN.

However, TVWeek could not find a story on the website of the L.A. Times that had this information. TVWeek speculates that Blitzer or someone at CNN may have misread the report that the L.A. Times posted at 2:32 pm. that mentioned the hostages that Dorner had been holding in a cabin he was staying at until Tuesday morning.

Finally, at 3:11 pm PT, Anderson Cooper gave a correct account of what the L.A Times reported, but he never said that Blitzer had it wrong earlier.

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FX Greenlights Drama Series

FX apparently liked what it saw in a drama pilot, as the cable channel has given the project a 13-episode series order. Deadline.com reports that “The Bridge,” from writers Meredith Stiehm and Elwood Reid and starring Diane Kruger and Demian Bichir, received the series order.

“Filming on the series, co-produced by Shine America and FX Prods., begins in April for a July premiere. It marks Shine’s first major U.S. scripted series since the 2008 acquisition of Reveille,” the story reports. “Based on the Danish/Swedish series ‘Bron,’ which was set on the border of Denmark and Sweden, ‘The Bridge’ is set on the border between El Paso and Juarez. It centers on two detectives -- one from the U.S., Detective Sonya Cross (Kruger), and one from Mexico, Marco Ruiz (Bichir) -- who must work together to hunt down a serial killer operating on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border.”

The adaptation was penned by “Homeland” writer/executive producer and “Cold Case” creator Stiehm and novelist and TV writer-producer Reid, the piece notes. Stiehm and Reid will executive produce with Shine America’s Carolyn G. Bernstein and Lars Blomgren of Shine Group’s Filmlance.

The latter company co-produced the original series with Denmark’s Nimbus Film.

The cast of “The Bridge” also includes Ted Levine, Annabeth Gish and Thomas M. Wright.

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CBS Wins Monday Even With Its Full Lineup Slipping; NBC Series Falls to Season Low

CBS eked out a win over its broadcast rivals in prime time Monday night, based on Nielsen overnights -- even with its entire lineup slipping from last week. Meanwhile, NBC’s two-hour “The Biggest Loser” fell to a season low and finished fourth in the 8 p.m. hour.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “Biggest Loser” slipped to a 2.0 average rating for its two hours in the key 18-49 demo, losing one-tenth of a ratings point from a week ago. Its number placed it fourth in the 8 p.m. hour behind CBS’s “How I Met Your Mother” (3.2, down eight-tenths from last week) and “Rules of Engagement” (2.8, down three-tenths), ABC’s “The Bachelor” (2.7 for the two-hour broadcast, up three-tenths) and Fox’s “Bones” (2.2, down two-tenths).

Elsewhere on CBS, “2 Broke Girls” delivered a 3.5 in viewers 18-49, down two-tenths from last week, “Mike & Molly” slipped three-tenths to a 2.9 and “Hawaii Five-0” was off two-tenths to a 2.1 -- still just good enough to win the 10 p.m. hour.

Fox’s “The Following” was also down, slipping a half-point in 18-49 to a 2.4 average.

ABC’s “Castle” joined “The Bachelor” in bucking the general downtrend. “Castle” rose two-tenths from last week to a 1.8 average in the 18-49 demo, helping ABC come in a respectable second for the night.

Also bucking the trend was an NBC series, "Deception," although it remained in pretty low territory. The series rose two-tenths from a week ago in the 18-49 demo to deliver a 1.3 average -- still finishing a distant third at 10 p.m.

For prime time as a whole, CBS was on top with a 2.8 average rating in viewers 18-49, followed by ABC (2.5 average), Fox (2.3) and NBC (1.8). CBS led total viewers with 9.6 million to ABC’s 8.6 million, Fox’s 8.2 million and NBC’s 4.8 million.

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Don Johnson Quietly Pockets $19 Million

Veteran actor Don Johnson, known for his work on the era-defining “Miami Vice” in the 1980s, is “quietly pocketing $19 million in a settlement with the company that produced his long-ago CBS crime series, ‘Nash Bridges,’” The New York Times reports.

The agreement, signed Jan. 30 in Los Angeles, ends a three-year legal battle between Johnson and Rysher Entertainment. The dispute was over Johnson’s share of syndications from the show, which had its original CBS run from 1996 to 2001.

“A jury awarded Mr. Johnson $50 million in profits and interest three years ago, but Rysher appealed to try to get the total reduced,” The Times reports. “In the end, Mr. Johnson agreed to a settlement of $15 million and interest.”

The piece notes that similar battles between performers and producers over syndication profits are relatively common.

“James Garner, for example, sued Universal Studios’ television arm for more than a decade to win profits from his hit series ‘The Rockford Files,’” the story notes. “More recently, the late Jack Klugman won a settlement in 2012 after suing Universal for profits on his hit NBC show ‘Quincy.’”

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A&E Banishes Show to Saturday Night After All-Time Low Turnout

After tolerating a couple of weeks of less-than-stellar ratings, A&E is booting a series from its spot on the schedule and relegating it to Saturday nights.

The Futon Critic reports that the reality show “Southie Rules" is being bumped from its Tuesday spot. Its 10 p.m. slot will be filled with repeats of “Storage Wars” when “Southie” relocates to 10 p.m. Saturday starting Feb. 23.

“The half-hour series -- about ‘a proud native South Boston family that is battling the relentless gentrification of their neighborhood’ -- fell to a series-low 606,000 viewers and a 0.2 rating among adults 18-49 for its 10:30/9:30c episode [last week], literally half of its debut audience on January 29 at 10:00/9:00c (1.281 million viewers, 0.5 adults 18-49 rating),” the report notes.

The show’s exec producers are Seanbaker Carter, Joel Olicker and Tug Yourgrau of Powderhouse Productions and Brian Flanagan, Matt Ostrom and Laura Palumbo Johnson of Magilla Entertainment, the piece notes.

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DreamWorks Partners With Netflix to Launch New Kids' Series

Netflix and DreamWorks Animation are joining forces to create what they’re billing as the first Netflix original series for kids. The companies announced that “Turbo: F.A.S.T.” (Fast Action Stunt Team) is being readied for a December 2013 debut.

The series is based on the DreamWorks Animation movie “Turbo,” which is due to hit theaters this summer.

Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer for Netflix, said in a statement: “Families love Netflix, so creating an original series for kids was a natural for us. And we’re doing it in a big way by adapting ‘Turbo,’ this year’s DreamWorks Animation summer tentpole movie.

“DreamWorks Animation has a long track record of creating incredibly successful characters and stories that delight people of all ages. We’re thrilled to add ‘Turbo’ the series as well as all new DreamWorks Animation films, starting with their 2013 slate, to Netflix.”

Jeffrey Katzenberg, DreamWorks Animation’s Chief Executive Officer, added: “Netflix boasts one of the largest and fastest-growing audiences in kids television. They pioneered a new model for TV dramas with ‘House of Cards,’ and now together, we’re doing the same thing with kids’ programming. DreamWorks is thrilled to be part of the television revolution.”

The companies’ press release notes: “DreamWorks Animation’s ‘Turbo’ is a high velocity 3D comedy about an ordinary snail who dares to dream big -- and fast. After a freak accident miraculously gives him the power of super-speed, Turbo kicks his dreaming into overdrive and embarks on an extraordinary journey to achieve the seemingly impossible: competing in the Indianapolis 500.”

The Netflix series picks up where the feature film leaves off. “It showcases the world-traveling exploits of our snail hero and his tricked-out racing crew as they master outrageous new stunts and challenge any villain unlucky enough to cross their path,” the announcement notes.

Netflix subscribers streamed more than 2 billion hours of children’s programming in 2012, the release adds.

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Al Roker Signs Former 'Real Housewife'

Al Roker’s production company, Al Roker Entertainment, has inked a deal with one of the former stars of Bravo's “Real Housewives of New Jersey.” Deadline.com reports that the new pact with Dina Manzo sets up a new docu-reality show that will chronicle her life.

“Manzo recently announced her split from Tommy Manzo, her husband of seven years,” the piece reports. “The couple’s lavish 2005 wedding was documented on VH1′s ‘My Big Fat Fabulous Wedding.’”

Said Roker: “This collaboration will be an opportunity for Dina’s fans to go behind the scenes into her world -- which is different than most people would expect.”

Manzo echoed that sentiment, saying: “I think viewers will be surprised at the type of show this will be.”

Manzo is currently seen on HGTV on “Dina’s Party.”

Roker’s banner has been behind The Weather Channel’s “Coast Guard Alaska” and episodes of HGTV’s “Celebrity Holiday Homes.”

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Dina Manzo

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'Storage Wars' Personality Found Dead

A storage space bidder seen on A&E’s "Storage Wars" was found dead Monday at his workplace, just two days after he was arrested on suspicion of possessing methamphetamine, reports the Ventura County Star.

The medical examiner's office didn't give a cause of death for Mark Balelo, 40, the story notes. TMZ is reporting that Balelo allegedly killed himself by carbon monoxide poisoning, with the reality star found dead in his car. The car was reportedly parked and running in the garage of his auction house in Simi Valley, Calif.

Balelo was jokingly called "Rico Suave" on the show for the fancy clothes he wore to auctions, notes The Hollywood Reporter. He appeared in a recurring role on several episodes of the show during seasons two and three, often showing up with large sums and outbidding his rivals. His role on the show was that of a “permanent opponent” of the show’s regulars.

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Mark Balelo

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Longtime Oprah Winfrey Insider Leaves Company

A longtime member of Oprah Winfrey’s inner circle has been let go, Deadline.com reports. After spending 18 years at Harpo Films, Kate Forte was let go Monday from her position as president, according to the report.

Forte’s departure comes as Harpo Films, whose business model has emphasized TV movies, is essentially shutting down, the story notes.

“While the company continues to have a couple of projects in development at HBO where the company has been under a deal since 2008, Harpo Films has little to show for its efforts in the past 5 years as its last projects to reach fruition were the 2007 movie ‘The Great Debaters,’ one of only two features produced by the unit, and 2007 ABC telefilm ‘Mitch Albom’s For One More Day,’” the report says.

The piece adds: “Harpo Films is a vestige of old times -- it was active in the broadcast movie business, doing six films for ABC between 1997 and 2007. But the demand for long-form projects, especially on the broadcast side, has dried out. And now the Los Angeles-based Harpo Films will de facto fold. As part of a restructuring, its larger sibling production company, Chicago-based Harpo Studios, overseen by OWN presidents Erik Logan and Sheri Salata, is launching a scripted division, which is expected to absorb some of the staff of Harpo Films.”

Forte's departure comes about a year after another member of Winfrey's inner circle, Lisa Erspamer, was let go following a 15-year stint, the story adds.

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CNN Unveils Plans for New 4 p.m. Program, Snags Producer From MSNBC

CNN’s revamped programming lineup is beginning to take shape, with the cable channel’s plans for the 4 p.m. slot now coming into focus. The news channel is turning over the hour to Jake Tapper, and has hired Federico Quadrani from MSNBC to executive produce the show, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Tapper signed on with CNN in December after a stint as senior White House correspondent for ABC News, as previously reported.

At MSNBC, Quadrani was executive producer of weekend programming and also of Chuck Todd's "The Daily Rundown," THR reports. He's currently the executive producer of "Jansing & Company."

Tapper's new show, which will start airing in March, means that Wolf Blitzer's "The Situation Room" will be pushed back an hour, starting at 5 p.m. Tapper's show is still untitled.

The THR report adds: “Tapper hosted his first CNN documentary Feb. 7; ‘An American Hero: The Uncommon Valor of Clint Romesha’ was based on Tapper's Afghanistan War book ‘The Outpost: An Untold Story About American Valor.’ The well-received tome recounts the horrific battle on Oct. 3, 2009, at Compound Outpost Keating -- 14 miles from the Pakistan border -- during which 53 American soldiers including Army Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha were set upon by 400 Taliban fighters; eight Americans were killed, making it the deadliest battle of 2009.

“Four months later, a Pentagon review concluded that there was no reason for the troops to have been manning Keating in the first place. Tapper wrote extensively about Romesha in his book. On Monday, Romesha received the Medal of Honor, becoming only the fourth living recipient from the Afghanistan War.”

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Jake Tapper

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BBC Cancels Period Drama

The BBC has pulled the plug on a drama series, Deadline.com reports. The broadcaster announced that it will end the 1950s series “The Hour,” which focuses on a BBC newsmagazine.

The show, which has aired in the U.S. on BBC America, ran for two seasons.

The broadcaster said in a statement: “We loved the show but have to make hard choices to bring new shows through.”

The series, which stars Ben Whinshaw (“Skyfall”), Romola Garai and Dominic West (“The Wire”), debuted in 2011 with a six-episode season on BBC Two in the U.K.

“While ‘The Hour’ started off with strong viewership in the U.K., its audience had fallen by almost half by the second season,” the report notes. “The show was nominated for an Emmy and three Golden Globes last year, including Best Miniseries or Made For TV Movie.”

 

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Sports Illustrated Unveils Swimsuit Cover on 'Letterman'

Sports Illustrated is rolling out its annual swimsuit issue this week, and 10 of its models appeared Monday night on CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman” as part of the launch.

Among those who joined the talk show to present the Top 10 were Kate Upton -- who graces the cover of the issue -- and Katherine Webb, who was the object of Brent Musburger’s interest during the recent college football championship game.

Here’s the video, which includes an unveiling of this year’s cover:

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Holy Gorgeous George: In a Major Surprise, the International Olympic Committee Dumps One of the Oldest Sports From the Olympics

The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, in a surprise move, has voted to remove one of the oldest Olympic sports from the 2020 Summer Games, reports the Associated Press.

The article says that the IOC voted to remove the sport of wrestling from the Games, and retain modern pentathlon instead. "The IOC board acted after reviewing the 26 sports on the current Olympic program," according to the story. "Eliminating one sport allows the International Olympic Committee to add a new sport to the program later this year."

The story continues, "Wrestling, which combines freestyle and Greco-Roman events, goes back to the inaugural modern Olympics in Athens in 1896.

" 'This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics,' IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. 'In the view of the executive board, this was the best program for the Olympic Games in 2020. It's not a case of what's wrong with wrestling, it is what's right with the 25 core sports.' "

The article adds, "The last sports removed from the Olympics were baseball and softball, voted out by the IOC in 2005 and off the program since the 2008 Beijing Games. Golf and rugby will be joining the program at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

"The IOC program commission report analyzed more than three dozen criteria, including television ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy and global participation and popularity.

"With no official rankings or recommendations contained in the report, the final decision by the 15-member board was also subject to political, emotional and sentimental factors."

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Veteran of 'Homicide: Life on the Street' Joins Fox Comedy Project Opposite 'SNL' Alum

A veteran actor known for “Homicide: Life on the Street” and a number of other television and film roles has joined a high-profile comedy project at Fox.

Deadline.com reports that Andre Braugher, who recently appeared in TNT’s “Men of a Certain Age,” will be a part of Fox's untitled Mike Schur/Dan Goor comedy pilot, where he will co-star opposite “Saturday Night Live” alum Andy Samberg.

Braugher starred recently in ABC’s military drama series "Last Resort," which wasn’t renewed after its initial 13-episode run. He has also played a recurring role on “Law & Order: SVU.”

The new Fox comedy is about a diverse group of detectives who work at the very edge of New York City. Braugher will play Capt. Holt, a 30-year veteran of the police department who isn't going to allow anyone -- especially Jake, played by Samberg -- to screw up his career, the piece says.

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Andre Braugher

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NBC's 'Dracula' Casts Its Van Helsing

The NBC drama series "Dracula" has cast its Van Helsing. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the role of the legendary monster hunter Abraham Van Helsing will go to "The River" actor Thomas Kretschmann.

The series is set in the 1890s and features Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Dracula, who is pretending to be an American businessman interested in bringing modern science to Victorian London, the story says.

In this version, which the story says has bypassed the traditional pilot stage, Van Helsing is a brilliant professor obsessed with revenge.

Kretschmann, who hails from Germany, is known for a series of film performances including the 1993 movie “Stalingrad” and the 2005 Peter Jackson remake of “King Kong.”

The project has also cast Oliver Jackson-Cohen of "Mr. Selfridge" as Jonathan Harker, a journalist who wants to climb in social status.

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Thomas Kretschmann

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Former KTLA-TV Reporter Sues Stations for Wrongful Use of His Name and Likeness, and for Age Discrimination

A former on-air personality whose reports appeared on KTLA-TV and other Tribune stations is suing for breach of contract and age discrimination, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq.

Known to television viewers as Kurt the CyberGuy, Kurt Knutsson sued KTLA and at least eight other stations, including WPIX-TV in New York, the piece reports. His lawsuit also alleges misappropriation of his name and likeness and unfair competition.

Knutsson claims that his five-year contract with Los Angeles station KTLA was terminated suddenly in 2010, with several years left on the agreement. He alleges that two KTLA executives told him they would renegotiate, but he would earn less. In 2011, he alleges, he was told by Tribune that he was terminated, as was his syndicated relationship with other stations.

Despite his termination, Knutsson claims his name and image continued to be used on the stations' websites, but when users clicked on the link, they were taken to technology reports by Rich DeMuro. He alleges the reports were broadcast from the same studio as CyberGuy, and used the same format and style.

According to the lawsuit, he alleges: "The decision to terminate Knutsson’s employment was motivated … particularly during the last years of his employment by a company bias against age, specifically with regard to on-air talent.”

Tribune declined to comment. Knutsson’s age is listed online as 45 years old.

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CW Renews Three Series

The CW has renewed two long-running shows along with its freshman drama "Arrow," reports EW.com's Inside TV. The other two renewals are for "Supernatural" and "The Vampire Diaries."

"Supernatural" will return for a ninth season of the Winchester brothers' adventures battling evil, while "The Vampire Diaries" will return for a fifth season.

“All three shows were expected to return and represent easy decisions for the network,” the report notes. “The choices get tougher from here, with the network probably reserving several of its more difficult calls until after it’s had a chance to see its pilots.”

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After Years of Negotiations, 'Foxy Knoxy' Finally Agrees to First TV Interview

After years of negotiations with a number of television networks vying to score the first interview with Amanda Knox -- the American exchange student to Italy who was convicted of murdering her housemate in 2009 -- a winner has emerged. The New York Times reports that ABC News has secured the interview.

Diane Sawyer, the anchor of ABC's "World News," will interview Knox, with the report airing in prime time on April 30. Knox, who was given the nickname "Foxy Knoxy," is also publishing a book on the same day, called "Waiting to Be Heard."

Knox was freed two years after her conviction when an appeals court in Italy overturned the judgment.

"Of the many crimes involving Americans overseas, this one captivated the news media because Ms. Knox came across as an attractive girl next door yet was accused of heinous crimes and lurid sexual behavior," the story notes.

NBC and CBS had also been seeking interviews with Knox for years, the piece notes.

amanda-knox.jpgAmanda Knox

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Goodbye, 'Liz & Dick,' Hello, 'Burton & Taylor'

On the heels of the high-profile 2012 Lifetime TV movie "Liz & Dick," which featured Lindsay Lohan portraying screen icon Elizabeth Taylor, comes news of another TV movie about Taylor and her ex-husband Richard Burton.

Deadline.com reports that the BBC has cast Dominic West of "The Wire" to play Burton and Helena Bonham Carter of the "Harry Potter" films to portray Taylor in “Burton & Taylor.”

The 90-minute film will air on BBC Four and track their ill-fated appearance in a 1983 revival of "Private Lives," a Noel Coward play. The Broadway show ran for 63 performances.

The couple were married twice, from 1964-1974 and from 1975-1976.

Last year’s Lifetime project had a generally cool reception from critics, along with modest ratings, with its 3.5 million viewers ranking it as Lifetime’s fourth-most-watched TV movie of the year behind “Steel Magnolias” (6.5 million), “Drew Peterson: Untouchable (5.8 million) and “Abducted: The Carlina White Story” (3.5 million).

 

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ABC and Univision Agree on a Name for Their New Channel

ABC and Univision have picked a name for the new channel on which they’re collaborating. TVNewser.com reports that the channel, which is geared toward Hispanics, will be called Fusion.

The network will also use the word Fusión, with an accent over the “o,” which has the same meaning and spelling as the English word, but a different pronunciation, in Spanish and English, the story says. The English pronunciation is being used internally, the piece adds.

The network is aiming for a September debut.

Some of the channel names that were considered but ultimately rejected are “Una,” “Powr,” “Vzta” and “Accent,” the report notes.

The article adds: “The English-language network will be available at launch in millions of households, including on five of the nation’s biggest distributors: Cablevision, Charter, Cox, AT&T U-verse and Google Fiber.”

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AMC Walks Off With Another Basic Cable TV All-Time Ratings Record

More flesh-eating, flesh-rotting fun for viewers and AMC last Sunday night, Feb. 10, 2013. The mid-season three premiere of "The Walking Dead" was "the strongest telecast for a series in basic cable history for adults 18-49 with 7.7 million [viewers]," AMC said.

The press release on the ratings for the show also said, "AMC’s mid-season three premiere of 'The Walking Dead' returned with its largest audience ever in series history delivering 12.3 million viewers at the 9 p.m. premiere. The previous record was 10.9 million viewers from the season three premiere on October 14, 2012. ... These results shatter the hit series’ previous record with an increase of +6% (A18-49) over the October 14, 2012 season three premiere. 'The Walking Dead' season three series average for adults 18-49 delivers 6.8 million outperforming other television series season averages including 'Modern Family,' 'The Big Bang Theory,' 'Two and a Half Men,' and 'NCIS.' In addition to the 9 p.m. premiere, the show encored at 11 p.m., midnight and 2 a.m., delivering 16.6 million viewers for the night.

The press release adds, "Following the 9 p.m. premiere of 'The Walking Dead,' AMC premiered a new episode of 'Talking Dead' at 10 p.m. 4.1 million viewers tuned in to the live show. Hosted by Chris Hardwick, 'Talking Dead' is a companion series to 'The Walking Dead' and features Hardwick and fans, actors, producers and other TV enthusiasts, discussing and dissecting that night’s 'Dead' premiere. The series expanded to a full hour with the final 8 episodes of season three."

"When you look at numbers like this, the first thing that comes to mind is how grateful we are to the fans of this show. They embrace ‘The Walking Dead’ in a way that we wanted to believe was possible but we never take for granted,” said Charlie Collier, AMC’s president, in the press release. “The cast and crew put everything they have into making this show. They’re a phenomenally talented group who truly give their all. We congratulate everyone involved.”

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ABC Shows Sink to Historic Ratings Lows

Two series airing Sunday night on ABC sank to all-time series lows, based on Nielsen overnights. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that on a night when CBS distanced itself from the pack on the strength of the Grammys, ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” and “Revenge” took hits in the key 18-49 demo.

While CBS’s “2013 Grammy Awards” averaged a 10.1 rating in viewers 18-49, ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” returned from hiatus to a series-low 2.2, eroding further from the previous original episode’s 2.4 -- which was already a season low. ABC’s “Revenge,” meanwhile, sank to a 1.4, losing three-tenths of a ratings point from its previous original episode.

CBS wound up in a class of its own for prime time overall, averaging an 8.2 rating for the night in the 18-49 demo, well ahead of Fox (1.8 average), ABC (1.5) and NBC (0.8). CBS was also far ahead of the pack in total viewers, averaging 24.6 million to 5.6 million for ABC, 3.5 million for Fox and 3.5 million for NBC.

Other than the Grammys, the top show of the night was Fox’s “Family Guy” with a 2.4 average in 18-49, down a half-point from the previous original. Fox’s “The Simpsons” had a 2.1, “American Dad” managed a 2.0, “Bob’s Burgers” delivered a 1.8 and “The Cleveland Show” settled for a 1.3.

NBC avoided competing directly with the Grammys by putting up a slate of repeat programming.

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One of the Most Famous of American Magazines -- 80 Years Old -- Partners With NBCU for Cable TV Venture. We Think They Should Call This New Cable Channel 'The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamlined Baby'

Beginning April 22, the cable universe will include a new network, as an existing network will be rebranded. Deadline.com reports that NBCUniversal will officially rebrand the current G4 network as the Esquire Network, as in Esquire magazine, the venerable American institution that first appeared on newsstands in 1933.

The move is the result of a partnership between NBCU and Hearst Magazines aimed at creating a cable channel for upscale males.

“Owned and operated by NBCU, Esquire Network will be helmed by G4 General Manager Adam Stotsky, who will work closely with David Granger, Editor in Chief of Esquire magazine, to develop the brand,” the piece reports. “G4′s flagship competition series ‘American Ninja Warrior’ will return for its fifth season, to air this summer on Esquire Network and NBC. Additionally, Esquire Network will air an array of off-network scripted series, including NBC’s ‘Parks and Recreation’ and Starz’s ‘Party Down,’ both starring Adam Scott.”

The new network will expand on G4’s current emphasis on games, gear and gadgets, the piece notes. “Program categories and genres will feature not only gaming and technology but also entertainment, food, fashion, women, humor, travel, competition, danger and more."

Esquire magazine has a wonderful history of being at various times on the cutting edge of culture. For example, back in the early 1960s, Esquire was on the forefront of the New Journalism movement, as it published such articles as Tom Wolfe's "There Goes (Varoom! Varoom!) That Kandy-Kolored (Thphhhhhh!) Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (Rahghhh!) Around the Bend (Brummmmmmmmmmmmmmm)…" The story was about about custom hot rod cars that were being built in California. 

The Esquire network’s unscripted projects in development include ‘Knife Fight,’ executive produced by Drew Barrymore, Flower Films and Authentic Entertainment. Hosted by ‘Top Chef’ winner Ilan Hall, ‘Knife Fight’ is an underground, after-hours cooking competition where talented chefs go head-to-head in front of a rowdy crowd of celebrities, critics and die-hard foodies.”

Also on tap is “The Getaway” (working title), executive produced by Anthony Bourdain and Zero Point Zero. The series “features travel-loving, well-known personalities -- people deservedly famous for excellence in their fields -- who take viewers to their favorite city on the planet, giving the insiders’ track on their top spots to eat, drink, shop and hang out,” the piece reports.

Said G4’s Stotsky: “There is a vastly under-served audience in cable TV -- today’s modern man -- and by joining forces with Esquire, we will deliver a multi-platform experience to this upscale, engaged, passionate audience, one that widens the aperture beyond G4’s technology and gaming base. Esquire magazine brings 80 years of unparalleled insight into what makes men tick, and we will incorporate the best of this iconic brand to produce original shows that build the network for growth and success.”

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New Syfy Project Brings Together Science-Fiction Heavyweights

Syfy announced that it has signed a deal to adapt a Hugo-winning novel, and the project brings together a number of heavyweights of the world of science fiction.

Deadline.com reports that the cable channel is adapting the novel "The Man in the High Castle" by Philip K. Dick. The book won the Hugo Award -- given annually to science fiction and fantasy works -- in 1963. Dick worked almost entirely in the sci-fi genre, focusing on political, psychological and metaphysical themes.

Frank Spotnitz of "The X Files" will write and executive produce, while Ridley Scott's Scott Free will produce with Headline, Electric Shepherd Productions, which is the production arm of Dick's estate, and FremantleMedia International. Scott is best known for the sci-fi classics “Blade Runner” and “Alien,” along with more recent features including “Prometheus” and the Oscar-winning “Gladiator.”

The novel was originally set up at the BBC as a miniseries in 2010, the story notes. Dick's book is an alternative history, with a timeline that has Nazi Germany and Japan winning World War II.

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Apple's Newest Device: Something Out of 'Dick Tracy'?

The Next Big Thing from Apple could be a real-life version of a gadget that has been a part of pop culture for decades -- seen in “Dick Tracy,” James Bond movies ... and “Inspector Gadget.”

Spy movies and science-fiction comic books have been big proponents of variations on the two-way wrist radio -- a watch that doubles as a communication device, computer or TV set. Now The New York Times reports that Apple is getting in on the act.

“In its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., Apple is experimenting with wristwatch-like devices made of curved glass, according to people familiar with the company’s explorations, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because they are not allowed to publicly discuss unreleased products,” the story reports. “Such a watch would operate on Apple’s iOS platform, two people said, and stand apart from competitors based on the company’s understanding of how such glass can curve around the human body.”

Apple would not comment on the report, the story notes. “But the exploration of such a watch leaves open lots of exciting questions: If the company does release such a product, what would it look like? Would it include Siri, the voice assistant? Would it have a version of Apple’s map software, offering real-time directions to people walking down the street? Could it receive text messages? Could it monitor a user’s health or daily activity? How much will it cost? Could Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, be wearing one right now, whispering sweet nothings to his wrist?”

In most cases the answers to the questions are not known. However, the report says Apple does have the technology.

“Last year, Corning, the maker of the ultra-tough Gorilla Glass that is used in the iPhone, announced that it had solved the difficult engineering challenge of creating bendable glass, called Willow Glass, that can flop as easily as a piece of paper in the wind without breaking,” the story reports. “Pete Bocko, the chief technology officer for Corning Glass Technologies, who worked on Willow Glass, said via telephone that the company had been developing the thin, flexible glass for more than a decade, and that the technology had finally arrived.”

Said Bocko: “You can certainly make it wrap around a cylindrical object and that could be someone’s wrist. Right now, if I tried to make something that looked like a watch, that could be done using this flexible glass.”

But he warned: “The human body moves in unpredictable ways. It’s one of the toughest mechanical challenges.”

Tech.163, a Chinese gadget site, reported late in 2012 that Apple was working on a watch with Bluetooth and a 1.5-inch display.

Said Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst at Forrester specializing in mobile devices and wearable computing: “Apple’s certainly made a lot of hiring in that area. Apple is already in the wearable space through its ecosystem partners that make accessories that connect to the iPhone. ... This makes Apple potentially the biggest player of the wearables market in a sort of invisible way.”

She added: “Over the long term wearable computing is inevitable for Apple; devices are diversifying and the human body is a rich canvas for the computer. But I’m not sure how close we are to a new piece of Apple hardware that is worn on the body.”

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Singer Reportedly in Talks to Join 'The X Factor'

A well-known R&B singer reportedly is negotiating to take over one of the judging seats on “The X Factor” left vacant by L.A. Reid and Britney Spears.

Digital Spy reports that Ne-Yo is in talks for a job on the Fox show. Ne-Yo confirmed the situation in an interview with Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet at Sunday night’s Grammy Awards.

Said Ne-Yo: "It's conversation. Nothing is set in stone right yet. It's talks."

The report notes that Ne-Yo also mentioned it in January, saying: "There's been a few lunches and dinners, but that's all I can say right now."

ne-yo.jpgNe-Yo

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NBCUniversal Beefs Up Ad Sales Group

NBCUniversal announced personnel moves today that bring a number of top sales execs on board with the advertising division.

The new arrivals are Laura Molen, Peter Lazarus, Lou Koskovolis and Katie Larkin.

In a statement announcing the hires, Linda Yaccarino, President of Sales for NBCUniversal, said: “With a world-class portfolio of brands, it only makes sense to bring on some of the industry’s best sales executives to join our NBCUniversal team. Laura, Peter, Lou and Katie are all leaders in their field. They’re strategic, creative and analytical in their approach, and they know how to ‘think big.’ Their addition rounds out our senior leadership team and positions us perfectly to present our unified, industry-leading portfolio to the marketplace.”

The statement adds: “Laura Molen is joining the company as EVP, Cable Advertising Sales, overseeing sales efforts for USA, Syfy, E!, G4, Chiller, Cloo and WWE. Peter Lazarus is joining NBCUniversal as the SVP of Cable Ad Sales, responsible for USA, SyFy, Cloo, Chiller and WWE. Lou Koskovolis has been named SVP, Sales & Sales Marketing for NBC Sports Groups’ Golf Media, responsible for all sales and sponsorship efforts involving the group’s golf properties; and Katie Larkin has joined the company as SVP, Ad Sales Strategy.

Molen will report directly to Yaccarino. She joins the company from Univision Communications, where she was EVP, Network Sales and Marketing since 2011. “In that role she was charged with bringing Univision into the digital video and general market landscape and was responsible for overseeing national ad sales and integrated marketing for the network, driving nearly $2 billion in revenue,” NBCU stated.

The announcement adds: “Lazarus, who will report directly to Molen, joins the company from USA Today, where he has been the SVP, Head of Multimedia Sales for the USA Today Sports Media Group since 2011. In that role, he was responsible for sales of all sports content across Gannett-owned properties.”

“Koskovolis, who will report to Seth Winter, EVP, NBC Sports Group Sales & Sales Marketing, will be responsible for all sales and sponsorship efforts for NBC Sports Group’s Golf Media, which includes Golf Channel, Golf Channel on NBC and a portfolio of golf-related digital platforms and events,” the company’s announcement states. “He will oversee on-air and digital sales, as well as develop sponsorship events and opportunities spanning the various platforms. Koskovolis joins the company from MLB, where he was the SVP of Corporate Sales and Marketing since 2011 responsible for all corporate sales and sponsorship efforts on behalf of MLB properties.”

The statement adds: “Larkin, who reports directly to Trish Frohman, EVP, Ad Sales Strategy, is responsible for defining and developing TV and digital cross -platform sales strategy across the entire NBCUniversal portfolio. She joined the company from Turner Entertainment Networks (TBS, TNT, TRU) where she was SVP, Ad Sales Research & Strategy.”

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Report: Under New Boss Rich Ross, Shine America Has Lost Six Executives

Rich Ross has been on the job as CEO of Shine America for just over a month, and the company has parted ways with six executives in the past two weeks, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The moves are part of a corporate restructuring of Elisabeth Murdoch's television production company, which Ross joined late last year after resigning from Disney, the story reports. Ross ran the feature film unit at Disney for more than two years.

The article doesn't identify which executives have left.

Shine, which produces shows including "The Office" and "The Biggest Loser," plans to hire at least 18 new employees, the piece reports. The moves are part of the company's strategy to expand its efforts in scripted television, as well as Spanish-language programming and more digital properties, the story adds.

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Lead Actress Bails Out on Struggling NBC Comedy

A struggling NBC comedy series has suffered another setback with the departure of its lead actress. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that Christina Applegate has departed "Up All Night."

"[T]he show has taken a different creative direction and I decided it was best for me to move on to other endeavors," Applegate said in a statement.

The comedy received an overhaul recently, and has been dealing with behind-the-scenes upheaval including the departure of creator Emily Spivey and a "revolving door of showrunners," the story says.

The show was originally designed to mine the humor of new parenthood, but recently had focused more on Applegate's character's work at an Oprah-like talk show hosted by Maya Rudolph's character. It was thought that the change was designed to provide more screen time to Rudolph, and that the show might add more of that element as it switched from a single-camera comedy into a multicam production, the story says.

"So how does a show about juggling parenthood go on without one of the parents? It's unclear how, or whether, the show will continue after Applegate's departure. Production, set to begin this month, had not yet started on new episodes," the piece notes.

NBC didn't return a call for comment, the story adds.

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Didn't They Get the Memo? Some Stars Attending Grammys, Including Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez, Defied CBS Request for No Nipples, No Skin Around the Genitals

Many celebrities appearing on CBS's broadcast of the Grammys apparently didn't get the memo from the network, which banned airing flashes of breasts, buttocks and genitals, reports Deadline.com.

As previously reported, CBS Program Practices issued a wardrobe advisory for the telecast, which aired Sunday night, Feb. 10. Among the dictates: "Please avoid sheer see-through clothing that could possibly expose female breast nipples. Please be sure the genital region is adequately covered so that there is no visible 'puffy' bare skin exposure."

Deadline reports: "Rihanna ignored the wardrobe restrictions with a nipple-revealing sheer dress. Katy Perry showed lotsa cleavage," and "Jennifer Lopez bared her right leg all the way to the start of her crotch."

Lopez told Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet, "They didn’t say anything about leg!” She added, "”Did you read this memo? It mentioned things that I don’t say around my house or my children. It’s crazy.”

jennifer-lopez-grammys-2013.jpgJennifer Lopez at Sunday’s Grammys

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Longtime Fox Executive Departing

The Fox Network is losing a key programming executive who has been with the network for a decade. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that Marcy Ross, executive vice president of current programming, opted not to renew her contract, which ends this year.

Ross plans to return to content creation, and is pursuing other opportunities, according to the report. She will stay on at Fox in a consulting role during the transition, which will likely last through the end of the season.

"Fox wouldn’t comment on the reasons for Ross’ exit but I hear she and top network brass have had differences," Andreeva writes.

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Marcy Ross

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Film Reviewer Under Fire for Remarks About Melissa McCarthy

New York Observer critic Rex Reed is coming under fire from readers who object to his characterization of "Mike & Molly" star Melissa McCarthy as a "hippo" and "tractor-sized" in a review of "Identity Thief," reports HLN's Showbiz Tonight.

The review, which condemns the entire movie as "a new chunk of junk," also targets McCarthy's weight as a problem, describing her as a "screeching, humongous creep" and a "female hippo."

More than 900 comments appeared on the New York Observer website in response to the review, including many that are critical of Reed. Said one reader: "Remind me never to read the Observer again." Another pointed out that overweight actors, such as Jonah Hill and Seth Rogan, don't receive the same level of hostility. Some called for Reed to apologize to McCarthy.

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CBS Casts Female Lead in New 'NCIS' Series

CBS has found the female lead for the newest installment in its “NCIS” franchise. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Kim Raver of "Grey's Anatomy" will play the central role in the "NCIS: LA" spinoff "NCIS: Red."

The project is a back-door pilot that will be introduced in the spring as an episode of "NCIS: LA," the piece notes. It has yet to receive a series order.

Raver will co-star opposite John Corbett, known for his roles on "Parenthood" and "Northern Exposure."

Raver will play Special Agent Paris, the leader of the Red Team, which travels across the country to solve crimes. She's a loner who has a high IQ and is also athletic and witty, the story says.

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Kim Raver

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Christina Ricci -- Who Saw Her Drama Series 'Pan Am' Go Down in Flames at ABC -- Takes Lead in NBC Comedy Project

A bad experience with the ABC drama series “Pan Am” apparently wasn’t enough to discourage Christina Ricci from pursuing a career in television. EW.com's Inside TV reports that the actress will give it another go, this time tackling comedy in a new NBC pilot.

The new project is "Girlfriend in a Coma." Ricci will play Karen, who emerges from a coma to find she has a 17-year-old daughter from a pregnancy she didn't know about when she fell into the coma, the story says.

The show, based on a novel by Douglas Coupland, is from "Nurse Jackie" co-creator Liz Brixius.

Ricci’s 1960s retro series “Pan Am” crashed and burned pretty dramatically at ABC. The show aired to disappointing ratings from September 2011 until February 2012, when it was replaced midseason by “GCB.” It was officially canceled by the network back in May.

The Golden Globe-nominated Ricci is known mainly for her film work, including “The Ice Storm,” “ Buffalo ’66” and “The Opposite of Sex.”

Christina-Ricci.jpgChristina Ricci

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Why NBC Is Pushing Back One of Its Development Projects

NBC is pushing back one of the projects it has in development, Deadline.com reports. The show is one of two at broadcast networks in the current development season based on “Alice in Wonderland.”

NBC’s project, “Wonderland,” received a late pickup from the network, and later switched studios when ABC Studios pulled out and Universal TV took over.

"Wonderland" is executive produced by "CSI" creator Anthony Zuiker. Deadline reports: "The project, written by feature scribe Whit Anderson, will not be produced within the regular pilot season because of the scale and complexity of the production, including visual effects."

The cost of the project was a factor in ABC Studios’ decision to drop out, the piece notes. The pilot will likely start filming before the end of the pilot season but won't be delivered before summer, the article adds.

The CW has its own “Alice in Wonderland” project in development, titled “Wunderland.”

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Director Known for 'Men in Black' Movies Joins CBS's 'Beverly Hills Cop' Adaptation

The CBS television adaptation of "Beverly Hills Cop" has landed a well-known feature film director to helm the pilot, Deadline.com reports.

Barry Sonnenfeld, known for directing films such as the "Men in Black" series and "Get Shorty," will direct, the piece reports.

The project stars Brandon T. Jackson as the police officer son of Axel Foley, the character played by Eddie Murphy in the original "Beverly Hills Cop" movies. Kevin Pollak and David Denman co-star, and Murphy will guest star in the pilot.

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Sounds Like This Non-TV News Is Ready to Fly: Two Major U.S. Airlines About to Merge in $11 Billion Deal. Result Would Be the World's Largest Airline

Two major U.S. airlines may be just days away from merging in an $11 billion deal, the Associated Press reports.

Says the story, "US Airways Group Inc and [American Airlines parent] AMR Corp are nearing an $11 billion merger that would create the world's largest airline and could announce a deal within a week, after resolving key differences on valuation and management structure, people familiar with the matter said."

The article continues, "Under terms of a deal that are still being finalized, US Airways Chief Executive Doug Parker would become CEO, while AMR's Tom Horton would serve as non-executive chairman of the board until spring of 2014, when the combined company holds its first annual meeting, the sources said.

"The deal would come more than 14 months after the parent of American Airlines filed for bankruptcy in November 2011, and would mark the last combination of legacy U.S. carriers, following the Delta-Northwest and United-Continental mergers."

The story adds, "The all-stock merger is expected to value the combined carrier at between $10.5 billion and $11 billion, and would give AMR creditors 72 percent of the ownership in the new company and US Airways shareholders the rest, they said."

The story continues, "US Airways will follow through on its agreement with AMR labor unions last year that the combined carrier would be branded American Airlines and be based in Fort Worth, Texas, where AMR is currently based, sources said. US Airways has its headquarters in Tempe, Arizona.

"As part of the merger, US Airways will also leave the Star Alliance to join the oneworld global airline alliance, of which American Airlines is an anchor member along with British Airways, the people familiar with the matter said."

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For the First Time in Nearly 600 Years, the Pope Is Resigning

The last time a pope resigned was in 1415, when Pope Gregory XII stepped down to end a civil war within in the church. Now, Pope Benedict XVI is following suit, announcing he will step down Feb. 28 because of "advanced age," reports CNN.com.

The pope, who is 85, took on the highest role in the Catholic Church in 2005. His time in the role "has been marked with a series of scandals and controversies, including hundreds of new allegations of sexual abuse by priests," the story notes.

He has led a church that's declining in Europe but is gaining members in Africa and Latin America.

"Strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me," the pope said to the cardinals, according to the Vatican.

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Pope Benedict XVI

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After Weeks of Controversy, and Amid Ongoing Legal Battle, Dish Announces Nationwide Rollout of Its New Hopper With Sling DVR

The ad-skipping Hopper DVR from Dish Network that has been at the center of controversy since it was banned by CBS from receiving a CNET tech award is being rolled out nationally.

Dish announced today that the Hopper with Sling Whole-Home HD DVR is being made available nationally to consumers. The company is touting the device’s award as “Best of Show” at the Consumer Electronics Show -- an award that went to the device only after CES severed ties with CBS-owned CNET, as previously reported.

CBS was accused of censorship in the aftermath of its decision to step in and prevent CNET from honoring the Dish technology. The device is at the center of a legal battle between Dish and the broadcast networks, who are unhappy with the DVR’s ad-skipping capabilities.

“This is the first whole-home HD DVR to have Sling technology built in so you can literally take your entire DVR -- live TV and recorded programs -- on the go with your mobile devices,” a spokesperson for Dish said. “You can also download content to mobile devices for viewing later without an Internet connection. Hopper with Sling is debuting with a new multimillion-dollar marketing campaign featuring Dish’s ‘Boston Guys.’”

In announcing the rollout, the company noted: “Sling technology is now built into each new-generation Hopper. It works by encoding and redirecting -- or place-shifting -- a live or recorded TV signal from the Hopper to Internet-connected iOS and Android tablets and smartphones. The Dish Anywhere experience is also available on PCs and Macs.”

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Charlie Sheen -- Mentioned in Fugitive's Manifesto -- Makes Plea to Ex-Cop at Center of L.A. Manhunt

Charlie Sheen is reaching out to fugitive Christopher Dorner, a former police officer who is suspected in the killing of three people in the Los Angeles area, reports TMZ.com.

Sheen was mentioned in Dorner's manifesto, along with other celebrities, the story adds. Dorner said Sheen was "effin awesome."

"You mentioned me in your manifesto, so thank you for your kind words. I am urging you to call me," Sheen said in a video posted on the site. Sheen is asking that Dorner, who is still at large, get in touch with him to talk things out.

 

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The Grammys: MTV Says Justin Timberlake and Frank Ocean Stole the Show. Plus, the Big Winners -- And the Part 'Glee' May Have Played in the Selection of the Song of the Year

As far as Grammy winners are concerned, MTV reports that "it was a big night for Fun., who scooped up Best New Artist as well as Song of the Year for 'We Are Young,' not to mention Mumford & Sons, who snagged Album of the Year for 'Babel' and Gotye, who snagged Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for 'Somebody That I Used to Know' and Best Alternative Music Album for "Making Mirrors."

Writes Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com: When little known New York indie band Fun released 'We Are Young' as the lead single for their second studio album 'Some Nights' in September 2011, it went largely unnoticed, only garnering some attention from online critics and quickly fading off the Billboard Hot 100 after debuting at No. 53. But then Fox’s 'Glee' covered the song for a pivotal scene in a December 2011 episode, sending sales for the single soaring 1,650%. The show put 'We Are Young' on the map and back on the charts. The song’s subsequent use in a Chevrolet Sonic commercial during the 2012 Super Bowl pushed it to No. 1."

The MTV story adds, "The Black Keys did pretty well, too, with wins for Best Rock Album for 'El Camino,' Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance for 'Lonely Boy' and Producer of the Year, Non-Classical for guitarist Dan Auerbach, while Skrillex once again ran the EDM categories, with three wins."

The MTV article also says that stand-outs on the show included Justin Timberlake and Frank Ocean.

About Timberlake the MTV story says, "when time came to make his return
to the Grammy stage, JT made sure to fill it with his own 15-plus person big band and a full orchestra for runs through 'Suit & Tie' and another new track from his upcoming third solo album, 'Pusher Love Girl.' Backed by his Tennessee Kids band, Justin sang in his incomparable falsetto, shimmied across the stage like an old school pop idol and gave 'Tie' a Rat Pack feel by calling Jay-Z out of the audience for the rapper's verse. Whether in black and white or color, JT brought down the house."

About Frank Ocean the MTV story says, "Carrie Underwood may have had that cool CGI dress, but Frank Ocean really burned out optic nerves with a trippy performance that made it look like he was running to stand still. Wearing his signature headband, Frank stood behind a waist-high keyboard surrounded by a white screen for a meditative 'Forrest Gump.' While a movie of his churning legs running down a secluded desert highway screened below his torso, Ocean crooned the meditative tune flawlessly. Plus, he threw in a sweet whistling solo as he turned to leave the stage."

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Three Die in Helicopter Crash While Filming New Reality Show for Discovery Channel

Three men "died in a helicopter crash while filming a new reality TV series in California," reports Deadline.com, continuing, "The yet untitled military show is being produced for Discovery Channel by JD Roth and Todd Nelson’s Eyeworks USA (formerly 3 Ball Prods.), whose credits include NBC’s 'The Biggest Loser.' [Discovery] issued this statement. 'A production company was shooting a show for Discovery Channel when this tragic accident occurred. We are all cooperating fully with authorities.'"

The story says the three men who died in the crash are pilot David Gibbs, 59, of Valencia; Calif., cameraman Darren Rydstrom, 45, of Whittier, Calif.; and cast member Michael Donatelli, 45, of Indiana.

The article adds, "The men were thrown from the helicopter and pronounced dead at the scene. Film permit information lists the production as "Untitled Military Project." Shooting began Saturday.

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Video: Singer of Some of the Biggest Hits From James Bond Movies to Sing, Live, on Oscar Telecast for First Time

She's sung more title songs from James Bond movies than any other singer. Dame Shirley Bassey sang the original versions of three James Bond title songs: "Goldfinger," "Diamonds Are Forever" and "Moonraker." 

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has announced that Bassey, for the first time, will sing at this year's Oscar telecast, which is presenting a salute to the Bond films. 

Here's Bassey in a 2011 performance of one of her most popular songs, the theme to "Goldfinger":

 

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NBC Cancels Series

NBC announced it has canceled one of its prime-time series, reports E! Online. 

The network pulled the plug on the drama "Do No Harm" after the airing of just two episodes of the series.

Says the article, "The news shouldn't come as much of a shock as 'Do No Harm' debuted to the lowest ratings ever. As in, ever. It was the lowest-rated, in-season premiere of any scripted series ever on the big four networks. The second episode fared even worse, bringing in only 2.2 million viewers and a 0.7 rating in the [18-49] demo."

The story notes that the series starred " 'Rescue Me's' Steven Pasquale as as a doctor with two personalities, à la Jekyll and Hyde."

The article says "Repeats of 'Law & Order: SVU' will replace the previously scheduled episodes of 'Do No Harm' that were set to air on Feb. 14 and Feb. 21."

Readers interested in NBC's ratings woes may want to read this item we posted earlier today:

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Bigger 'Bang' for CBS and a Season High for ABC Drama; 'Idol' Continues to Slide

CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” continued to rack up numbers worthy of television’s top-rated sitcom while ABC celebrated a turnout for “Scandal” that equaled the drama’s season high, based on Nielsen overnights for Thursday prime time.

Fox’s “American Idol,” meanwhile, continued to see viewer erosion, and NBC again failed to come close to the audience size of its Big 4 rivals.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports a little bit of good news for NBC, where the season premiere of “Community” managed a 1.8 in the key 18-49 demo -- up 6% from the show’s previous season premiere back in September 2011 and up a healthy 38% from the season finale back in May.

The top show of the night by far was CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory,” with a 6.1 average rating in viewers 18-49 -- up 13% from a week ago. “Two and a Half Men” was also up, 5%, to a 4.1, while “Elementary” also rose 5% to a 2.3. “Person of Interest” held steady with a 3.2.

Fox’s “Idol” settled for a 4.1 in the 18-49 demo, slipping 8% from last week, while “Glee” rose 5% to a 2.2.

ABC, which led off prime time with a low-rated repeat of “Shark Tank” (1.3 in 18-49), saw its fortunes improve with ‘Grey’s Anatomy” -- up 11% from last week to a 3.1 -- and “Scandal” -- up 4% to a 2.8, matching its season high.

Leading out from “Community,” NBC notched a season high for “Parks and Recreation” with a 2.0 average in viewers 18-49, up 18% from the previous original episode. On the other hand, “1600 Penn” fell to a series low with a 1.1, down 15%, while “Do No Harm” fell a hefty 22% from last week’s premiere to a disturbingly low 0.7. “The Office” was steady with last week at a 2.1.

When the dust settled, CBS was on top for prime time overall with a 3.5 average in viewers 18-49, followed by Fox (3.1 average), ABC (2.4), Univision (1.7) and NBC (1.4). CBS had a comfortable margin in total viewers, averaging 14.2 million to Fox’s 9.6 million, ABC’s 7.2 million, Univision’s 4.0 million and NBC’s 3.2 million.

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Shirley MacLaine Fires Back at Her Daughter's Tell-All Book

The daughter of “Downton Abbey” actress and Oscar winner Shirley MacLaine didn’t exactly endear herself to her famous mom with her new book. The Toronto Sun reports that Sachi Parker’s new memoir, “Lucky Me: My Life With -- and Without -- My Mom, Shirley MacLaine,” earned an angry response from the 78-year-old screen legend.

MacLaine, a six-time Oscar nominee, said the book is “dishonest” and “virtually all fiction,” according to the piece.

Parker describes MacLaine as an absentee mother who used tough-love parenting methods and had delusions about aliens, the story reports.

The piece reports that Parker, who is an actress herself, “knew the project would only make their relationship more strained, but she felt compelled to tell her story, saying, ‘I did everything I could to bring Mom into my life. The Hollywood ending never happened. Now that I’ve written this book, it probably never will.’”

MacLaine has accused her daughter of making sensational claims to get publicity. She said in a statement to People magazine: “I’m sorry to see such a dishonest, opportunistic effort from my daughter for whom I’ve only ever wanted the best,” and, “(It’s) virtually all fiction.”

MacLaine won an Oscar in 1984 for “Terms of Endearment” after being nominated four previous times for leading actress and once for a 1975 documentary she wrote and directed, “The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir.”

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Shirley MacLaine and Sachi Parker

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NBC Turns Over Friday Nights to News Division

NBC is getting out of the business of entertainment programming during prime time on Friday nights. The network announced programming changes that shuffle the schedules of its two newsmagazines and give NBC News total control of Friday prime time, TVNewser.com reports.

NBC moves “Rock Center with Brian Williams” to 10 p.m. ET/PT, with two hours of “Dateline” programming starting at 8 p.m. The changes go into effect tonight, the story reports.

“Dateline” correspondents Keith Morrison and Josh Mankiewicz had some fun with the move in an online promo spot taped at NBC News' Los Angeles bureau -- here it is:

 

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Congressman's Staffer Fired Over Response to Sexy '2 Broke Girls' Spot

Following a Super Bowl commercial in which the two stars of CBS’s “2 Broke Girls” danced around a stripper pole, a spokesperson for Republican Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador was fired over a tweet he sent about the spot, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"’Me likey Broke Girls,’ wrote Phil Hardy after seeing the show's stars, Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs, eat diner food seductively and hang from a stripper pole in skimpy waitress outfits,” the piece reports.

Hardy sent the tweet by mistake, the story says, using Rep. Labrador’s account. The piece cites a report in the Idaho Statesman.

“The tweet came down 14 seconds later -- not long enough to prevent it from being captured and circulated throughout the Internet,” the report notes. “Labrador's district director, Jake Ball, tells the Statesman that the congressman made the call to fire Hardy, who had worked for him since 2010.”

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Actor Jumps From 'New Girl' to 'About A Boy'

An actor who just finished an arc on Fox’s “New Girl” has been cast in the Hugh Grant role in the NBC adaptation of the movie “About A Boy,“ according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The actor is David Walton, who previously starred on NBC’s short-lived “Bent.”

“’Parenthood's’ Jason Katims will pen the pilot adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel and the film. The single-camera comedy follows the relationship between a bachelor man-child and the young boy who moves in next door with his crazy, single mother,” THR reports. “Katims will executive produce the Universal Television effort alongside Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Jane Rosenthal and Robert De Niro, with Jon Favreau on board to direct the pilot.”

david-walton.jpgDavid Walton

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Is It Possible CBS Lost Money on the Super Bowl Despite Selling $240 Million in Ads? Not When You Calculate All the Money the Game Brings In to the Network in Other Ways

Updated on 2/8/13 at 10:20 a.m. to reflect information in a Los Angeles Times story on this same subject, in both our headline and the body of this item. We needed to have reported on the Times account in our original reporting of this story, and we apologize to our readers and CBS for not doing so.

"In a new report, the industry consulting firm SNL Kagan says CBS 'likely broke even or lost a little money' on its broadcast of the Super Bowl last Sunday," writes Joe Flint in the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog.

But as Flint then quickly notes, "But that calculation might be a little too simple for something as complex as figuring out whether the Super Bowl was as happy an event for CBS as it was for the Baltimore Ravens, who beat the San Francisco 49ers to win the Lombardi Trophy."

And Indeed, a CBS spokesman said that the NFL and Super Bowl were profitable.

As TheWrap.com reports in its coverage of the Kagan report, Kagan claims that the broadcast of the Super Bowl brought in about $240 million. But, says TheWrap, CBS paid about $220 million for the rights to broadcast the game, the Kagan report notes.

However, Flint, in his account, notes the revenues that Kagan did not include in its calculations. "Kagan seems to be forgetting that CBS also owns dozens of TV stations -- including outlets in Baltimore and San Francisco -- that had local commercial spots to sell in the game, and those spots went for a premium too. Maybe not the close to $4 million per 30 seconds that the network got, but there were lots of high six-figure and even seven-figure deals there. Overall, the network took in tens of millions in local advertising, a CBS spokesman said. In New York alone, CBS sold local commercials for more than a million dollars per-spot.

"CBS also sold ads for the Internet coverage of the game, which was basically found money for the network."

Flint also details the "halo" effect CBS gets from carrying both the NFL and, every several years, the Super Bowl. As Flint notes, having this programming translates to real monies for CBS in these other ways, such as in increased retrans fees. Plus, the network uses both the NFL and the Super Bowl to promote other programming, which can ultimately increase ratings for those shows and bring in more revenue to the network.

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Are NBC's Woes the Peacock in the Coal Mine? Perhaps It's a Signal That Broadcast TV, as We've Known It for the Past 60 Years, Is Going the Way of Brick-and-Mortar Record Stores and Bookstores

Our headline captures the thesis of an intriguing essay by our good friend -- and former top TVWeek editor -- Joe Adalian. Adalian, who now writes about TV for the New York Magazine blog Vulture, writes, “It's impossible to exaggerate just how bad a 2013 NBC is having. Over the last four weeks, the network has debuted three new series (‘1600 Penn,’ ‘Deception,’ ‘Do No Harm’) and watched as viewers rejected each of them. New Tuesday comedies ‘Go On’ and ‘The New Normal,’ which seemed to be finding an audience in the fall, have seen their demo ratings cut nearly in half since losing their lead-in of 'The Voice.'

"And then there's ‘Smash,’ which NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt last summer called 'an unqualified success' and top lieutenant Jen Salke labeled 'highly anticipated by its fans': It returned this week down nearly 40 percent from its May 2012 finale, and more than 70 percent versus its premiere a year ago. In less than 30 days, whatever slow momentum NBC seemed to be building since Greenblatt's January 2011 arrival has almost completely vanished. Once again, NBC seems destined to finish the season an also-ran, just as it has every year since ‘Friends’ went away in 2004. It's time to ask the question: Is it possible to save NBC, or has it passed the point of no return?”

Adalian goes on to say that every so often this doom and gloom scenario becomes a favorite of those who write about TV. He also talks about the damage inflicted on NBC by past regimes, and how Greenblatt seems, unfortunately, to be following in this tradition.

Adalian then says, “None of this makes Greenblatt a particularly 'bad' head of NBC. [Leslie] Moonves and his team programmed dog after dog during their early years running the Eye; in 1997 they even wasted boatloads of money on an ill-fated scheme to pick up some of ABC's TGIF leftovers in a bid to become a family programming powerhouse. And former ABC bosses Lloyd Braun and Susan Lyne struck out time and again at ABC, causing Disney chief Bob Iger to fire them both; a few months after they got the boot, three programs they had developed became out-of-the-box hits (yup: ‘Lost,’ ‘Desperate Housewives,’ and ‘Grey's’).

"It's absolutely possible that new successes are just a few months away for NBC, perhaps in the form of the network's new Michael J. Fox comedy or its reboot of ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ But the big-picture damage may be irreparable: Even if these shows work, the odds of them being game-changers are slim in today's TV environment. If they manage to become popular hits, NBC is so deep in the hole that it might not be enough to make a difference. The most it can hope for is that ABC and Fox sink low enough to not make the Peacock seem so dismal. If not for 'Idol,' Fox would likely be headed for fourth this season, even with ‘The Following,’ which, though considered a hit, is pulling numbers that would have gotten it put on cancellation watch as recently as five years ago. And while ABC has done a little bit better generating mild successes (‘Once Upon a Time’), it's not exactly on fire, and its biggest hits are losing viewers quickly. (CBS is almost certain to be the Last Network Standing whenever the broadcast model finally keels over.)"

Adalian then suggests that one way to fix NBC might be for it to cut down the number of hours it programs prime time, a la Fox.

His ultimate conclusion: “Isn't it worth considering the possibility that NBC's woes are about something larger than just executive incompetence or the wrong programming mix? Or that massive changes need to be made? Networks can pretend all they want that the broadcast model isn't broken, but denial didn't forestall the end of big record-store chains, and it didn't save Borders Books or Hostess. Five or ten years from now, there's a good chance we'll recognize NBC as the Peacock in the coal mine, the first one to fall as the broadcast era came to a close -- or, at least, morphed into something far different than what we've known for the past 60 years.”

We urge you to click on the link above and read all of Adalian's provocative essay.

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Suspect in L.A. Cop Slaying Names TV News Personalities in His Manifesto

The former Los Angeles police officer who is a suspect in the killings of a police officer and two other people has written a "rambling manifesto" that mentions several TV news personalities, reports TVNewser.com.

In the note, Christopher Jordan Dorner offers praise to many on TV, writing:

"Chris Matthews, Joe Scarborough, (KCBS anchor) Pat Harvey, Brian Williams, Soledad Obrien (sic), Wolf Blitzer, Meredith Viera (sic), Tavis Smiley, and Anderson Cooper, keep up the great work and follow Cronkite’s lead. I hold many of you in the same regard as Tom Brokaw and the late Peter Jennings. Cooper, stop nagging and berating your guest, they’re your (guest). Mr. Scarborough, we met at McGuire’s pub in P-cola in 2002 when I was stationed there. It was an honor conversing with you about politics, family, and life."

He also offers some advice to Willie Geist, the co-host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe," writing, "you’re a talented and charismatic journalist. Stop with all the talk show shenanigans and get back to your core of reporting. Your future is brighter than most."

The report adds: “He goes on to say kind things about Piers Morgan, David Gergen and Jeffrey Toobin, and also suggests that Fareed Zakaria should be deported.”

As previously reported, CNN's Anderson Cooper received a package from Dorner, which included a bullet-riddled memento, a note and a DVD.

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Christopher Dorner

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New FX Show Sees Ratings Plummet in Its Second Week

A new FX drama series saw its ratings take a steep drop during its second week, reports Deadline.com. The 1980s-era Soviet spy series “The Americans,” starring Keri Russell, fell 39% to just 1.97 million viewers on Wednesday night.

In its debut, the show drew 3.22 million overall viewers.

The drop among viewers 18 to 49 was not quite as steep, with viewers in the demographic dropping 32% to 1.07 million from 1.57 million.

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What's Behind Ratings Woes for ABC's 'Modern Family'?

With ABC's "Modern Family" no longer the highest-rated comedy on television and falling to a season low this week, it's time to ask what's happened to the show, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Blame its lead-in, competition from "American Idol" and an ambitious creative goal that's sometimes hard to pull off, the story says.

The lead-in for "Modern Family" is "Neighbors," an alien comedy that wasn't well received by critics. "American Idol" has likely impacted viewership for “Modern Family” during the past few weeks as well.

"Perhaps it’s that 'Modern Family' is rather ambitious and creatively complex with a large cast that seeks to work as a comedy with tinges of deeply heartfelt drama -- pulling all that off week after week is a huge juggling act," the story says.

CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” has taken over as the top-rated sitcom, the piece notes.

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Julia Roberts' Niece -- Who's Also Eric Roberts' Daughter, Which Rarely Gets Mentioned -- Snags Lead in Fox Pilot

The niece of movie star Julia Roberts has been carving out a nice acting career for herself, and now Emma Roberts has been cast in the lead role of the Fox pilot “Delirium,” EW.com’s Inside TV reports.

Emma Roberts is also the daughter of actor Eric Roberts -- a fact that tends to get overlooked with all the attention paid to his megastar sister Julia.

Emma, who previously starred in the Nickelodeon series "Unfabulous," will appear in “Delirium” as Lena, a teenager who is awaiting the mandatory "cure" that all citizens in her dystopian world get when they turn 18. The surgical cure disables the country's citizens from feeling love, which is thought to be a disease -- the delirium.

The project is based on the bestselling young adult novels by Lauren Oliver.

Emmas father, Eric Roberts, has done all right for himself as an actor too, including being nominated for an Oscar in 1986 for his supporting role in “Runaway Train” -- again, perhaps overshadowed by his sister’s success, with Julia Roberts’ Oscar for “Erin Brockovich” and nominations for “Pretty Woman” and “Steel Magnolias.”

Emma, 21, hasn’t made the kind of impact yet on the major awards circuit that her father and aunt have, but she has been nominated for a string of Kids’ Choice Awards and Teen Choice Awards, for “Unfabulous” and the movies “Nancy Drew,” “Twelve” and “The Art of Getting By.”

As a trivia note, Eric and Julia Roberts have appeared together in only one movie: the 1989 Western “Blood Red.”

emma-roberts.jpgEmma Roberts

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CBS Adds to Its Hefty Roster of Comedy Pilots With Projects Tracing Bloodlines to 'Friends,' 'Scrubs'

CBS has picked up three more comedy pilots, bringing the network’s total to 12 -- evenly split between single-camera and multicamera projects, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The latest batch includes comedy projects from producers behind “Friends,” “Smash” and “Scrubs.”

“’Jacked Up’ hails from Greg Malins and Patrick Warburton, with the ‘Rules of Engagement’ actor set to star as a beloved, recently retired baseball player who finds out that adjusting to retirement isn't as easy as he thought it would be,” the piece reports. “Malins will pen the multicamera comedy script, which will be produced by ‘Rules’' Sony Pictures Television, Happy Madison and CBS Television Studios. Happy Madison's Doug Robinson, Malins and Warburton will exec produce.”

Another multicamera project comes from writer/producer Tad Quill (“Scrubs,” “Bent”). “It centers on a recently widowed father as he raises his 12-year-old son while jumping back into the dating pool. Quill will write and exec produce for CBS Television Studios,” THR reports.

An untitled comedy from Julie Rottenberg and Elisa Zuritsky is “based on another Israeli format and centers on a married mom who struggles to balance family, life and work,” the story reports. “The single-camera entry will be exec produced by Keshet CEO Avi Nir and head of programming Ran Telem, on whose format Showtime’s ‘Homeland’ is based, as well as the original series co-creators Daniela London-Dekel and Dana Eden. ‘Smash’s’ Rottenberg and Zuritsky will write and executive produce the pilot, which is set up at CBS Television Studios.”

While 12 comedy pilots is a hefty load, the piece notes that CBS last season picked up eight half-hour pilots before eventually placing series orders for only two.

 

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Creator of 'Breaking Bad' Will Have His Fingerprints All Over the Series Finale

The creator of AMC's "Breaking Bad," Vince Gilligan, will direct the show's finale, marking only the fifth time he has helmed the award-winning series during its five-season run, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Gilligan will also write the series finale, the piece notes. He previously directed the pilot, the last episode of season three, and the final two episodes of the fourth season.

At a recent event, Gilligan said he would still like to see a spinoff featuring Bob Odenkirk, who plays the criminal lawyer Saul Goodman.

"He always seemed to me like a character who could support his own show. I very, very much would like to see that happen. It would be a little lighter in tone than 'Breaking Bad,' but it would be a fun thing to have," Gilligan said, according to the story.

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A Storm Called Nemo: What's Behind The Weather Channel's Names for Winter Storms?

The winter storm pounding the Northeastern states has been given the name "Nemo" by The Weather Channel, but the meteorologist behind the names explains that it's not named after the movie with the adorable fish, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

The inspiration for the name is Captain Nemo, from the Jules Verne book "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea."

"Captain Nemo was a pretty tough, fierce guy,” said Bryan Norcross, the meteorologist for the cable network who has helped create the names for the storms.

The Weather Channel notes that Nemo is also a Greek boy's name meaning "from the valley," and that it also means "nobody" in Latin.

Airlines, media outlets and governors' offices are going along with The Weather Channel's names, even though the National Weather Service has advised its forecasters against using the names, the story notes.

So far, the network has come up with, well, rather geeky names for its storms, including "Euclid," "Gandolf," "Khan" and "Luna."

It's no coincidence, according to WBEZ.org.

“Meteorologists tend to be -- what would you call it -- 'Star Trek,' 'Star Wars,' 'Lord of the Rings' enthusiasts,” Norcross said. "We thought about a bunch of ‘Star Trek’ names. But we didn’t want words that were hard to say or funny to read. It was a trial-and-error process.”

For Superman fans, The Weather Channel almost named the "J" storm "Jor-El," after Superman's father. In the end, the network decided to stay away from names that would cause copyright issues. Draco (this year's "D" storm), for example, is Harry Potter's antagonistic classmate, but is also “the first legislator of Athens in Ancient Greece," the story notes.

The “J” storm eventually became Jove -- “The English name for Jupiter, the Roman god of light and sky,” according to The Weather Channel.

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BBC Pulls Plug on Supernatural Series

BBC is wrapping up a supernatural series in apocalyptic fashion, with the main characters to face the devil himself in the finale, Deadline.com reports.

The series "Being Human," which focuses on three supernatural roommates, will come to an end with its current season, the piece reports. The original U.K. show has been a hit on BBC America since 2009, and inspired a U.S. adaptation, which airs on Syfy. The U.S. version is currently in its third season.

BBC Three airs the show in the U.K., where its fifth season began Feb. 3.

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Really? The Next TV Project From Brett Ratner ('Prison Break,' 'Tower Heist') Is an Animated Series Based on the Game FarmVille

An animated television program based on the popular online game FarmVille is in the works from "Prison Break" producer Brett Ratner, reports Deadline.com.

The half-hour animated show doesn't yet have a network attached. Ratner, who was ousted in 2011 as producer of the Oscars after saying "rehearsal is for fags," will serve as executive producer. He later apologized for the comment.

He's working with Six Eleven Media on the FarmVille project.

FarmVille was started in 2009 by game maker Zynga, and is popular on Facebook and MSN Games.

In a statement, Ratner said: “FarmVille is one of the most exciting brands out there today and its cross-platform opportunities are endless. I am thrilled to be expanding the brand with existing fans and also engaging a whole new audience.”

Ratner is also known for directing the “Rush Hour” film series and “X-Men: The Last Stand.”

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TLC Readies Trailer Park Series for March Debut

TLC, the home of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," will debut the trailer park reality series "Welcome to Myrtle Manor" next month, reports Deadline.com.

The series, which will air 10 one-hour episodes, follows the conflicts of the residents a trailer park in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The community includes drag queens, jingle writers, security guards and Wiccans, the piece adds.

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$1.6 Billion Deal: Cablevision Sells Cable Systems Serving More Than 300,000 Subs in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and Utah to Charter Communications

"Charter Communications ...will acquire Cablevision's ...Optimum West [cable systems] for $1.625 billion in cash," the companies have announced.

"Optimum West manages cable operating systems in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and Utah that pass more than 660,000 homes and serve 304,000 video subscribers and 366,000 customer relationships," according to the announcement.

The announcement continued, " 'With this transaction, Charter will acquire some of the fastest growing cable assets in the United States,' said Tom Rutledge, Charter's President and CEO. 'These former Bresnan properties operate in growing communities, and the network, employees and customer base have been well served for many years. In particular, over the past two years Cablevision, as Optimum West, has grown video, Internet and telephone customers through the execution of a product and service strategy, which is the same as the one we recently implemented at Charter. Optimum West is an ideal fit for Charter and we anticipate an efficient integration process.' "

Rutledge came to Charter a year ago. Prior to that, from 2004 through December, 2011, he was the chief operating officer at Cablevision.

James Dolan, president and CEO of Cablevision said in the announcement, "We are proud of the value we created in the Optimum West properties. We made strategic investments in the cable system and significantly enhanced the network to provide our customers with more robust products and services. I am confident that our Optimum West team will continue to build on that success under new stewardship."

The announcement added, "The $1.625 billion acquisition price represents a purchase price multiple of 8.9x Optimum West's third quarter 2012 annualized Adjusted EBITDA1 and a purchase price multiple of less than 8.0x Charter's estimate of Optimum West's first year Adjusted EBITDA under Charter. The transaction will be structured to deliver to Charter a full step-up in the tax basis of the acquired assets. Taking into account Charter's estimate of the present value of this tax asset, the effective purchase price multiple is less than 7.0x the estimated first year Adjusted EBITDA. 'Given the double digit growth profile of Optimum West, we view the implied purchase price multiple as attractive. In addition, the acquisition will increase our conversion rate of Adjusted EBITDA to free cash flow.1 At closing, we expect to be at 5.0x leverage and continue to target 4.0x to 4.5x over time,' noted Christopher Winfrey, Charter's CFO."

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Ex-Cop, the Murder Suspect Who is Currently the Subject of One of the Biggest Manhunts in L.A. History, Sent Package to Anderson Cooper

"Law enforcement officials are inspecting a package CNN's Anderson Cooper received from a former Los Angeles police officer who allegedly killed three in a shooting spree,' reports the Associated Press, continuing, "CNN spokeswoman Shimrit Sheetrit said Thursday [Feb. 7, 2013] that a parcel containing a note, a DVD and a bullet hole-riddled memento were sent by Christopher Dorner and addressed to Cooper's office."

The article adds, "The package arrived Feb. 1, days before the first two killings Dorner is accused of. It contained a note on it that read, in part, 'I never lied.' Dorner was fired from the LAPD in 2008 for making false statements.

"A coin typically given out as a souvenir by the police chief was also in the package, and riddled with bullet holes."

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Surprise: Char Beales, Who Has Run CTAM for the Past 21 Years, Announces Her Retirement

In a major surprise, Char Beales, who has been at the helm of CTAM for the past 21 years, has announced her retirement at the end of the year.

The announcement follows reports in the past week that Glenn Britt, who has run Time Warner Cable since 2001, will also be stepping down at year's end.

The news about Beales was first reported by CableFAX. [CableFax is behind a pay wall so only its subscribers will be able to read its full report.]

Here's the statement CTAM released today:

(National Harbor, MD -- February 7, 2013) Char Beales, CTAM president and CEO, has announced her plans to retire at the end of 2013, after more than 20 years at the helm. While she had considered retirement in 2012, the CTAM Board Executive Committee requested she stay another year.

CTAM Chairman David Juliano, EVP, sales and marketing, Comcast, stated, “Char is a consummate leader. She has engendered the respect and admiration of the industry, making CTAM the highly valued organization it is today.” Juliano continued, “I, along with the CTAM Board, am grateful that she agreed to stay on as CEO through 2013 to help us achieve the business model and leadership transition.” 

Beales stated, “I’ve had a phenomenal experience at CTAM and I’m so thankful to everyone who contributed to our extraordinary success. CTAM’s future is bright, and I’m excited to continue to work closely with our members over the coming months to keep us on point to achieve their strategic vision.”

The search for her replacement will begin later in the year.

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Oscar Nominee Has Her Next Gig Lined Up -- She Will Star in New CBS Comedy Project

One of the current Academy Award nominees is making the move to the small screen. The Hollywood Reporter writes that Jacki Weaver -- part of a nomination sweep by “Silver Linings Playbook” in the four acting categories -- will star in CBS’s comedy pilot “The McCarthys.”

The piece notes that Weaver -- who was also previously nominated for an Oscar for the 2010 movie “Animal Kingdom” -- will go from playing the mom of a sports-obsessed Philadelphia family in “Playbook” to playing the mom of a sports-obsessed Boston family in “McCarthys.”

“The pilot is described as a family comedy about a loud, sports-crazed Boston family, with Weaver playing the mother of the McCarthys, Marjorie,” the story reports. “She's described as loving, exhausted and having no filter, who enjoys having her son keep her company when her husband Arthur (‘Rescue Me's’ Jack McGee) and other kids are off coaching basketball games.”

“The McCarthys” is a single-camera effort from ‘Are You There, Chelsea?’ writer Brian Gallivan, executive produced by Will Gluck and Richie Schwartz. The piece notes that if the project is picked up to series, it would be the first regular series role for Weaver.

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Jacki Weaver

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How Many People Have Watched 'House of Cards' on Netflix? Here's the Estimate, Since Netflix Isn't Divulging the Number

The audience for Netflix’s new Kevin Spacey drama series “House of Cards” could rival the viewership of some dramas on premium cable networks -- but we can’t be sure, TheWrap reports. That’s because the streaming service is keeping its numbers to itself.

“Netflix isn't releasing any numbers, and has no immediate plans to,” the piece reports. “So we're relying on some clever analysis from the broadband firm Procera, which monitored some of the country's largest cable and DSL networks on Saturday to extrapolate that between 1.5 million and 2.7 million people watched one or more episodes.”

Netflix would not comment for the story, TheWrap notes.

“Why won't Netflix share its actual numbers? Precisely to avoid articles like this one, which -- with solid numbers -- might gauge Netflix's early success against that of broadcast and cable networks,” the story adds. “With that apples-to-apples comparison, we could tell you with some degree of certainly who should be worried about Netflix's huge gamble on the Kevin Spacey-David Fincher political saga: Broadcasters? HBO? Showtime?”

The secrecy surrounding the Netflix numbers might ratchet up the fear factor for TV executives, according to TheWrap.

“The Internet has wounded or killed many brick-and-mortal entertainment outlets -- music stores, book stores, movie theaters -- because it can provide an entertainment experience that doesn't require consumers to leave home,” the story notes. We think TheWrap may have meant “brick-and-mortar,” but as e-commerce has taken a toll on traditional businesses, the term “brick-and-mortal” has been creeping into the lexicon -- and even if it originated as a typo, it may be more descriptive than the original term.

TheWrap makes the case that, as digital platforms have advanced, “Television has fared better than other media, in part because it is arguably as convenient as the Internet -- and had a half-century head start on creating entertainment. TV and the Internet are closely interwoven, with networks and studios providing previously aired shows for services like Netflix.”

The report notes: “Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes brushed off attempts to pit Netflix against his company's HBO in an earnings call Wednesday. He noted that many Warner Bros. shows are available to Netflix subscribers -- even as he stressed that his company is far ahead of Netflix in creating originals.”

Bewkes made the point that HBO has 114 million subscribers -- almost four times Netflix’s total. Noting HBO’s 25 years of offering original shows, he added: "It takes a while to get it up to scale." [TVWeek note: HBO has 114 million subs worldwide. In the U.S. it has about 30 millions subs. In the U.S. Netflix has about 27 million subs to its streaming service.]

Still, “House of Cards” represents something new. “The video-on-demand service is pouring millions of dollars into a high-quality show that isn't actually on TV,” TheWrap reports. “It is also offering all 13 episodes of the first season at once, like chapters in a book or songs in an album, instead of demanding that viewers tune in at a certain time.”

So why is Netflix holding the viewership for “Cards” close to its vest? “One advantage of not sharing its viewership is that Netflix gets to give ‘House of Cards’ time to thrive before networks or ratings-obsessed reporters can dismiss it,” the piece reports.

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'Idol' Pushes Fox to Ratings Win -- Even as Its Numbers Erode; ABC, Meanwhile, Sees Two Series Hit Lows

Even with viewer numbers slipping for Fox’s “American Idol,” the singing competition continues to be the top-rated show on Wednesday nights, pushing Fox to another prime-time win, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the two-hour “Idol” was down 16% from a week ago in the key 18-49 demo, settling for a 4.6 average rating -- still easily the best number of any broadcast show that night.

The closest any of the other networks came was “Modern Family’s” 3.8 average in viewers 18-49 -- a season low for the ABC comedy, and 10% below its most recent original episode. ABC wound up a distant second for the night behind Fox, with “The Middle” managing a 2.3 (down 8%) and “Suburgatory” delivering a 2.1 (up 17%), while “The Neighbors” settled for a 1.8 (up 13%) and “Nashville” dipped 11% to a series-low 1.7, finishing third in the 10 p.m. hour.

CBS aired a rerun of “Person of Interest” against the first hour of “Idol,” then got serious with a fresh episode of “Criminal Minds” pulling a 2.7 in 18-49 -- off 13% from the previous original -- and “CSI” winning the 10 p.m. hour with a 2.4 for the first part of the “CSI”/”CSI: NY” crossover installment, down 8%.

For its part NBC gained ratings momentum as the evening went on, but still finished fourth among the broadcast nets. “Whitney” and “Guys With Kids” both had 1.2 averages in the 18-49 demo in the 8 p.m. hour, followed by “Law & Order: SVU” with a 1.5 -- down 12% from a week ago despite high-profile guest star Mike Tyson -- and “Chicago Fire’s” 1.8, down 14% but just enough to beat ABC’s “Nashville.”

Overall numbers for prime time show Fox at No. 1 with a 4.6 average rating in viewers 18-49, then ABC (2.2 average), CBS (2.1), NBC (1.5) and Univision (1.4). Fox also won total viewers, averaging 14.2 million to CBS’s 10.0 million, ABC’s 6.9 million, NBC’s 5.0 million and Univision’s 3.6 million.

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NBC Gives a Vote of Confidence to Freshman Drama

NBC has made a small, but apparently meaningful, positive gesture to a freshman drama series. Deadline.com reports that the network ordered an additional episode of “Chicago Fire,” bringing the season total to 24.

It was just last week that NBC added a 23rd episode to its order.

“After a slow start, ‘Chicago Fire’ has found its groove, enjoying a ratings surge in January when its three originals posted the series’ three biggest overall audiences to date and three of its four highest adult 18-49 ratings,” Deadline reports. “The show has now topped its premiere 1.9 demo rating four times and its premiere viewership (6.6 million) six times, including with the Jan. 2 show, which posted Live+Same Day series highs of a 2.4/7 in 18-49 and 8.5 million viewers overall."

The added eps for “Chicago Fire,” which is executive produced by Dick Wolf, Danielle Gelber, Michael Brandt, Derek Haas, Matt Olmstead and Peter Jankowski, may be an indication that the network is lacking confidence in some of its other programming.

Deadline notes: “The order upgrades for ‘Chicago Fire’ come amidst disappointing premiere ratings for NBC’s new midseason drama ‘Do No Harm’ (0.9 in 18-49) and the second season of ‘Smash’ (1.2).

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Mark It on Your Calendar: Airdate Set for 'The Office' Finale

NBC has set the date for the wrap-up to the nine-season run of its comedy series “The Office.”  The one-hour finale will air Thursday, May 16, at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

The episode will be the show’s 200th. NBC did not provide other details, but news has already circulated that longtime series star Steve Carell will not be a part of the final episode.

Carell, who played the original boss Michael Scott, told Access Hollywood recently: “I just didn’t think it was right for the character, because that character had had an arc within the story and kind of grew and sort of evolved past the idea of the documentary. I’m really good friends with everybody on the cast and with [executive producer] Greg Daniels and I want to go back to say, ‘Hi,’ certainly, before it all ends. But I just thought, in terms of the character, it didn’t make sense.”

 

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Fans of 'The Big Bang Theory' Can Participate in Discussion with Cast and Creative Team Behind the Hit Sitcom in Nationwide Town Hall Event

Coming soon: basically a nationwide town hall forum between fans and the cast and creative team of "The Big Bang Theory."

"For the first time ever, the stars and producers of the ... No. 1 comedy series 'The Big Bang Theory' are coming to [movie] theaters nationwide as part of the ultimate TV fan festival -- PaleyFest (The William S. Paley Television Festival)," it was jointly announced by The Paley Center for Media and National CineMedia Fathom Events.

The announcement adds, "PaleyFest featuring ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ broadcast live from the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Wednesday, March 13, at 10 p.m. ET / 9 p.m. CT / 8 p.m. MT / 7 p.m. PT, will feature a live and uncensored Q&A with the cast and producers of TV’s most-watched comedy. Movie theater audiences will have the opportunity to submit questions to 'The BigBang Theory' panel live via Twitter."

The announcement states that confirmed panelists for “The Big Bang Theory" panel "include Johnny Galecki (Leonard Hofstadter), Jim Parsons (Sheldon Cooper), Kaley Cuoco (Penny), Simon Helberg (Howard Wolowitz), Kunal Nayyar (Raj Koothrappali), Mayim Bialik (Amy Farrah Fowler), Melissa Rauch (Bernadette Rostenkowski) as well as creators and executive producers Chuck Lorre, Bill Prady and Steven Molaro."

The announcement says that this live event  "will be broadcast to more than 525 select movie theaters across the country." 

Furthermore, the Paley Center and Fathom Events announced that on March 7, 2013, a panel consisting of members of the cast and creative team of "The Walking Dead" can also be seen on Fathom's closed-circuit movie feed. However, since that will just be a previously taped discussion, fans in the closed-circuit movie audience will not be able to ask any questions.

A list of the movie theaters showing these events, as well as ticket information, can be found at www.FathomEvents.com.

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Sought-After Actress Signs to Play Lead in NBC Comedy Project

One of the most sought-after actresses of the current development season has signed to play the lead in the NBC comedy pilot "Brenda Forever," reports Deadline.com.

Ellie Kemper, known for her work on NBC's “The Office,” will play Brenda, whose past and present are shown through the character as a confident 13-year-old and as a 31-year-old woman, the story says.

NBC landed the single-camera “Brenda Forever” project after a bidding war with Fox, as previously reported.

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Ellie Kemper

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CBS Bans Nipples, Buttocks and Genitals From Grammys. Oh, and Lapel Pins, Too

CBS Program Practices has issued a Wardrobe Advisory for the Grammy Awards, which will be broadcast this Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013.

Below please find highlights of the memo, as published on Deadline.com. As one wag told Deadline, "I assume that my lovely colleagues do not get this same email for the Oscars.”

From the Wardrobe Advisory:

"CBS Program Practices advises that all talent appearing on camera please adhere to Network policy concerning wardrobe.

"Please be sure that buttocks and female breasts are adequately covered. Thong type costumes are problematic. Please avoid exposing bare fleshy under curves of the buttocks and buttock crack. Bare sides or under curvature of the breasts is also problematic. Please avoid sheer see-through clothing that could possibly expose female breast nipples. Please be sure the genital region is adequately covered so that there is no visible 'puffy' bare skin exposure."

The Advisory concludes, " Finally, The Network requests that any organized cause visibly spelled out on talent’s wardrobe be avoided. This would include lapel pins or any other form of accessory."

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Character Actor Best Known for Part in 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' Series Dies Suddenly at 61

An actor known for playing a villain on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" has died suddenly, reports TheWrap.com. The British actor Robin Sachs, 61, played the sorcerer Ethan Rayne on the series.

Details about his death aren't known. His representative said that Sachs was in good health and no cause of death had been identified.

Sachs appeared in four episodes of "Buffy" playing Rayne, a onetime friend of Rupert Giles who had turned enemy. His other roles include General Roth'h'ar Sarris, the green villain in the movie "Galaxy Quest," and several roles on "Babylon 5," the story says.

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Robin Sachs

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Former Top Fox Cable and Sports Executive Hired to Run Fledgling Company Owned by Peter Guber and Mike Tollin

A former top cable and sports executive at Fox has been hired to run Mandalay Sports Media, the year-old company owned by Peter Guber and Mike Tollin, reports Alex Ben Block at The Hollywood Reporter.

According to the article, "Rich Battista, who during 18 years with News Corp. helped build many of the Fox sports networks, on Thursday was named CEO of Mandalay Sports Media, a year-old joint venture that has ambitious plans to produce sports-themed movies, TV and cable programs and eventually build and buy media and digital properties related to sports."

The story adds, "Battista, who most recently ran LodgeNet Interactive Corp., will oversee the venture, which is owned by producer and sports team owner Peter Guber, producer Mike Tollin and CAA."

The article notes, "Battista spent 18 years at News Corp. and Fox, where from 2008-10 he served as president of National Cable Networks. He had oversight of such cable networks as FX, National Geographic, Big Ten Network, Fox Soccer Channel, Speed Channel and Fox Sports in Latin America."

The story also says: "Tollin, who has been involved in Mandalay Entertainment for nearly a year, said the company is already developing both fictional and nonfiction programming, but he declined to make any specific announcements."

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Barbie's Ditching Malibu: Famed Doll Will 'Sell' Dream Home for $25 Million

Malibu will be losing one of its most famous residents; Barbie, the classic children's toy, will be "selling" the beach house that she has called her residence in Malibu since 1971, reports The New York Times.

The asking price is $25 million, the story reports.

“Potential buyers may want to try bargaining down the price when they realize the house has only one bedroom and one bathroom -- and three walls,” the piece quips.

Mattel's announcement of Barbie’s move launches a marketing campaign that will end with the announcement of Barbie's new home. That house will be brought out in a playset in the fall, just before the holiday shopping season.

The marketing campaign will combine real and imaginary elements, with the Malibu home getting a posting on Trulia. Barbie is "hiring" Josh Altman, a cast member of "Million Dollar Listing: Los Angeles," to list the house.

Four designers will work with Barbie on finding a new home. Among them is Jonathan Adler, who worked on a 2009 playset as a commemoration of Barbie's 50th anniversary, the story says.

Where will Barbie end up living? Stay tuned. Altman, the report notes, “said he would be glad to show Barbie new homes ‘anywhere on the planet’ because ‘she speaks God knows how many languages.’”

Altman added: “Ken is fine with whatever she wants to do.”

The piece adds: “After suggesting that he might advise Barbie to buy ‘a skyscraper in Manhattan,’ Mr. Altman ended the conversation by declaring: ‘This is Barbie on the other line; I’ve got to go.’”

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Fans of 'Game of Thrones' Author George R.R. Martin Are Unhappy About HBO Deal

Fans of George R.R. Martin, the author whose books are the basis of HBO's "Game of Thrones" series, are less than thrilled about the writer's new deal with the pay-television network, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

HBO signed Martin this week to a two-year overall deal, as previously reported.

"While there are assorted cheers here and there, almost resoundingly the reaction has been along the lines of this: 'Finish the books, George. Just finish the books,'" the story says.

The HBO show is adapted from Martin's seven-book series "A Song of Ice and Fire," but only five of the seven novels have been published. The first three books were published within a year of each other, but the last two have taken a span of five years and nearly six years, respectively, the story says.

"The slow writing time coupled with Martin's advancing age (he's 64) has led many of his most passionate fans to worry that the author won't be able to finish the series on his own," the piece notes.

Fans have taken to Facebook and Twitter to vent, with one fan writing, "George R.R. Martin STOP MAKING NEW STUFF AND JUST FINISH WHAT YOU'VE STARTED!!"

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Lifetime Reunites Pair From 'Broadcast News' -- Both Oscar Winners -- for 'Bonnie and Clyde' Miniseries

Lifetime has cast two Oscar-winning actors in its miniseries "Bonnie and Clyde," which comes from "Smash"'s Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that William Hurt and Holly Hunter are joining the project.

The pair starred together in the 1987 film "Broadcast News." Hurt will play Frank Hamer, a Texas Ranger who tracked the outlaws, while Hunter will play Emma Parker, the mother of Bonnie Parker.

Hunter won an Oscar for best actress in “The Piano,” and Hurt took home an Academy Award for “Kiss of the Spider Woman.”

The title roles in the program haven't yet been cast. In the Oscar-nominated film from 1967, Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty played the famous outlaws.

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Non-TV Fun: Finally, Skiers Can Throw Away That Paper Trail Map They Use While Skiing to Pick the Best Way Down the Mountain as Google Maps Adds Trail Maps to 38 Popular Ski Areas

"Google announced on its blog today that its Google Maps app, available for free on Android devices and iPhone, now includes 38 new maps of ski runs and lifts from some of the most popular ski resorts in the United States and Canada," reports ABC News.

The story continues, "Forget squinting at faded ski-slope signs or fumbling with folded resort maps. The app marks green, blue and black runs -- the colors ski resorts use to indicate a slope’s difficulty -- which appear on the screen as solid colored lines. Ski lifts are shown as red dotted lines. The app can help get your bearings if you are lost, or it can help you plan your runs for the day before you set out."

Some of the resorts included are Montana’s Big Sky Resort, Vermont's Stowe Mountain and Okemo Mountain Resort, Sun Valley in Idaho, Aspen and Vail in Colorado, and Squaw Valley and Mammoth Mountain in California.

The article adds, "Some notable resorts missing from the list: Colorado’s Beaver Creek Ski Resort, Vermont’s Killington Resort and Mont Tremblant in Quebec.

"There are other apps out there that offer similar map services, but not, it seems, with runs as clearly marked as on Google Maps."

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TV Station Groups Sinclair, Gannett Soar in 4th Quarter

Revenues for the Sinclair Broadcast Group soared 58.8% in the 4th quarter, compared with a year earlier, reports TVNewsCheck. Similarly, TVNewsCheck separately reports that "Gannett Co. reported strong fourth quarter financial results that included total television revenues that were 45.7% higher" than a year earlier.  

In its story about Sinclair TVNewsCheck writes, "Sinclair Broadcast Group reported net broadcast revenues from continuing operations rose 58.8% year-over-year to $287.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2012 and were up 42.1% year-over-year to $920.6 million for all of 2012.

"The year was 'remarkable,' said CEO David Smith in a statement. 'We successfully closed on 30 TV stations, recorded record levels of political advertising, benefited from a rebound in the automotive advertising category, and achieved historic levels in key financial metrics. As we look forward to 2013, we are very excited about our prospects, including starting the year with the Super Bowl on our 11 CBS stations. While we have led the current consolidation trend in the broadcast industry, we believe there are still many opportunities for us to continue to acquire quality television assets, unlock hidden value, and strengthen our competitive position.' "

Writing about Gannett, TVNewsCheck said revenue "totaled $280.2 million compared to $192.4 million in the previous fourth quarter.The revenue growth was driven by $91.2 million in politically related advertising during the fourth quarter of 2012.

"Retransmission revenues were $29.6 million in the quarter compared to $21.4 million in the fourth quarter a year ago, an increase of 38.7%.Television station digital revenues were 4% higher than the fourth quarter of 2011.For the full year, broadcasting revenue was up 25.4%."

For more detailed financials for Sinclair and Gannett, please click on the links above.

 

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'The Office' Actor Joins 'Beverly Hills Cop' TV Project

The pilot for CBS's update of "Beverly Hills Cop" has cast an actor from NBC’s "The Office,' according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed. David Denman will play a detective -- the Judge Reinhold role from the movie -- in the potential series, the story reports.

Denman, who recurs as Roy Anderson on "The Office," will play Brad Fullmer, a strong and loyal detective, the story says. He's joining Kevin Pollak, Brandon T. Jackson and Eddie Murphy in the pilot, which is described as a continuation of the movie franchise.

Murphy will reprise his role as Axel Foley, although the show focuses on his son Aaron, played by Jackson.

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David Denman

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Makeup Artist Legend Who Created Yoda for the 'Star Wars' Films and the Ape-Like Creatures in '2001: A Space Odyssey' Dies. Model for Yoda Was Partly Himself.

A legendary makeup artist has died. He was Stuart Freeborn, who created Yoda for the Star Wars film "The Empire Strkes Back." Freeborn, 98, "died in London of a combination of ailments associated with his age, according to AP," reported Deadline.com  

The article continues, "In addition to creating Star Wars‘ Jedi master Yoda, which he modeled after Albert Einstein’s features as well as his own, Freeborn helped create Chewbacca and Jabba the Hutt as well as other iconic characters in the franchise."

The story adds, "Outside of his most famous Star Wars creations, Freeborn designed the apelike 'Dawn Of Man' hominids in Stanley Kubrick’s '2001: A Space Odyssey' and transformed Peter Sellers for "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb."

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TBS and TNT to Increase Number of Episodes it Orders for Its Original Programs by More Than 40%

Good news for folks working on original programming that's aired on TBS and TNT.

"In a call with analysts Wednesday morning [Feb. 6, 2013] to discuss the media giant's fourth quarter and year-end results, Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes said TBS and TNT would increase the number of episodes for its original shows by more than 40%," reports our good friend Joe Flint on the website of the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog.

Flint adds, "The move comes as Time Warner prepares to ask pay-TV distributors for hefty increases in license fees to continue carrying the two channels. Bewkes has said he expects double-digit growth in subscription fees from the Turner channels, which also include CNN.

"TNT has struggled lately. On Monday, its new medical drama 'Monday Mornings' premiered to very disappointing ratings.'We have more work to do,' Bewkes said of TNT."

The article also said that "Bewkes ducked a question about whether there will be more executive changes at Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. unit in the wake of home entertainment head Kevin Tsujihara being tapped as the successor for Barry Meyer as chief executive of the Burbank movie and televisionstudio.

"Also in the running for the job at Warner Bros. was TV executive Bruce Rosenblum and movie chief Jeff Robinov. There has been speculation that one or both may bolt because they were passed over in favor of Tsujihara.

" 'Kevin will be a great leader,' Bewkes said. He added praise for Rosenblum and Robinov, but also noted there is a solid bench of executives under both of them. 'We've got a really strong next generation.' Bewkes has been criticized in some circles for his handling of the Meyer transition, which played out over two years and created a lot of tension at Warner Bros."

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Regis Philbin in Talks for New Show

Veteran TV personality Regis Philbin, who left the spotlight when he exited “Live with Regis and Kelly,” apparently misses it and wants back in TV.

Sports Business Daily reports that the Emmy winner has been in talks to host a show on the upcoming Fox Sports 1 channel. The channel is News Corp.’s anticipated rebranding of Speed.

“Fox and Philbin have not agreed on a deal yet, but sources say talks are serious and an agreement could be close at hand,” the story reports. “Fox declined to comment on the rumors, but sources say Philbin would serve as the main host of a show that would look like a sports version of ‘The View,’ with Philbin serving in the Barbara Walters role as the part-time host.”

Philbin is well known to be a sports fan, and the show would reportedly be a straight-up sports show, not a hybrid of sports and entertainment.

“Sources also said that Fox has been looking into having a Jay Mohr show on Fox Sports 1,” the piece notes. “Last month, Mohr launched ‘Jay Mohr Sports’ on Fox Sports Radio. It is not clear whether Fox is considering simulcasting Mohr's radio show or having him host his own show.”

Fox Sports has not officially announced any rebranding plans, but is expected to relaunch Speed as Fox Sports 1 in August. It is anticipated that it will also rebrand the action sports channel Fuel as Fox Sports 2.

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CBS Readying New 'NCIS' Spinoff Starring Veteran Actor

A third “NCIS” series is shaping up at CBS, USA Today reports. The show will begin life in two March episodes of “NCIS: Los Angeles,” with John Corbett -- a veteran of “Northern Exposure” and “Sex and the City” -- to star.

The report describes the new project as a “potential” spinoff.

“The episodes will feature a small, mobile team of NCIS agents who live and work together as they travel the country investigating crimes,” the story reports.

The two episodes are set for March 19 and 26.

“Corbett, more recently seen in ‘Parenthood,’ will play analyst Roy Quaid, a former NCIS special agent forced to retire from active service,” the report notes. “He is the most experienced investigator working for Red Team.”

“NCIS: Los Angeles” had a similar launch strategy, being introduced in two episodes of the original “NCIS” series before striking out on its own.

john-corbett.jpg

John Corbett

 

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ABC News Exclusive: Lance Armstrong Being Investigated by Feds for Criminal 'Obstruction, Witness Tampering and Intimidation'

"Federal investigators are in the midst of an active criminal investigation of disgraced former Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong," reports ABC News in what they say is an exclusive report.

Says the report, according to a "source, who agreed to speak on the condition that his name and position were not used because of the sensitivity of the matter, 'Agents are actively investigating Armstrong for obstruction, witness tampering and intimidation.' "

Interestingly, the articles notes: "The revelation comes in stark contrast to statements made by the U.S. Attorney for Southern California, Andre Birotte, who addressed his own criminal inquiry of Armstrong for the first time publicly on Tuesday. Birotte's office spent nearly two years investigating Armstrong for crimes reportedly including drug distribution, fraud and conspiracy -- only to suddenly drop the case on the Friday before the Super Bowl last year. ... [Yesterday, Feb. 5, 2013, Birotte told reporters] 'We made a decision on [the Lance Armstrong] case, I believe, a little over a year ago. Obviously we've been well-aware of the statements that have been made by Mr. Armstrong and other media reports. That has not changed my view at this time. Obviously, we'll consider, we'll continue to look at the situation, but that hasn't changed our view as I stand here today.' "

The ABC News report adds that its current source "said that Birotte is not in the loop on the current criminal inquiry, which is being run out of another office."

The ABC News story adds: "An email to an attorney for Armstrong was not immediately returned."

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CBS Lambasted for Its Handling of Super Bowl Blackout

CBS has come under fire for its handling of the blackout that disrupted Sunday’s Super Bowl for 34 minutes, with one of the most scathing attacks coming from The New Yorker’s Steve Coll.

Coll notes that when the blackout first occurred, some viewers probably wondered whether a terrorist attack was under way.

“The initial period of the blackout was especially unsettling,” Coll writes. “It was like a nationally shared, television-enhanced experience of a stroke. CBS, this year’s Super Bowl broadcaster, maintained its visual signal, but the network initially lost audio. The broadcast’s director selected a field-level camera angle that pointed up to the half-darkened stadium lights, in a mute effort to show what was going on. Yet, without the benefit of commentary, viewers could only guess at what had transpired.”

The article suggests that CBS, a network with a proud history in TV journalism, should have recognized the incident for what it was: breaking news, which needed to be covered.

“Surely, I thought upon my couch, CBS, the network of Eric Sevareid, Dan Rather, and ‘60 Minutes’ -- the network that had lately recruited Charlie Rose to anchor its morning show -- would tear into this story,” Coll writes. “It did not. What followed was embarrassing and irresponsible.”

Coll writes that CBS should have turned over the telecast to its news division, but chose instead to have its sports team try to fill the dead air.

“CBS acted as if it possessed no news division,” Coll writes. “It relied on James Brown, the congenial jock-wrangling anchor of ‘The NFL Today,’ to handle the story. He and his fellow commentators -- retired quarterback Dan Marino, retired NFL coach Bill Cowher, and retired tight end Shannon Sharpe -- acted as if the unexplained loss of electricity in a stadium filled with seventy thousand-plus people during the most-watched American television event of the year was just a twist in the story of who would win the football game, and nothing more.”

The piece points most of the blame at CBS’s president and CEO, Les Moonves.

“Why didn’t he throw the broadcast to his news division in New York for at least an interval, to signal to viewers that the network recognized that something unusual and newsworthy had just occurred, and to attempt to inform them, as best as possible, with reliable reporting?” Coll writes.

“Moonves told the Times that he knew he had the option to switch to CBS News in New York, but ‘we were told it would be twenty minutes. ... We knew it wouldn’t be down for hours.’ Even so, why did CBS not immediately scramble its news producers to hunt down subjects for on-air interviews? Why was there no off-air reporting relayed from CBS News to James Brown about whether there was any indication of foul play, or any information at all available beyond the no-commenting, self-protecting public-relations arm of the NFL juggernaut, to which we have become all too accustomed during its systematic campaign of denial about football-related concussions?”

We recommend clicking here to read the rest of Coll’s comments.

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Beyonce's Super Bowl Outfit Earns Wrath of Activist Group

Beyonce’s halftime performance at Sunday’s Super Bowl may or may not have had something to do with turning the lights out at the New Orleans Superdome, but it definitely flipped a switch for one activist group: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that PETA issued a statement blasting the singer for her leather duds.

Said PETA: "We would take a bet that if Beyonce watched our video exposés ... she'd probably not want to be seen again in anything made of snakes, lizards, rabbits, or other animals who died painfully. Today's fashions are trending toward humane vegan options, and Beyonce's Super Bowl outfit missed the mark on that score."

The report cites Vogue saying Beyonce’s skimpy outfit, designed by Rubin Singer, consisted of “strips of engineered python, paneled iguana and trapunto/pick stitched leather.”

beyonce-super-bowl-2013.jpg

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Hard Crash for NBC's Two-Hour Season Premiere of 'Smash'

NBC’s ambitious two-hour rollout for the new season of its musical drama series “Smash” fell to earth with a loud bang Tuesday night, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the broadcast mustered only a 1.1 average rating in the key 18-49 demo -- an all-time low for the series. That number is down a whopping 71% from the 3.8 average for the series premiere a year ago, when the show led out from “The Voice,” and down 39% from the season one finale back in May.

NBC wound up a distant fifth among broadcast networks for prime time overall, getting little help from “Betty White’s 2nd Annual 90th Birthday Special,” which settled for a 1.5 average in viewers 18-49.

CBS won the night, paced by a 3.7 average for “NCIS” in the 18-49 demo -- the top number of the night, even though it was off 3% from a week ago. “NCIS: Los Angeles” held steady with a 3.1 and “Vegas” tumbled 16% to a 1.9.

ABC finished a respectable second overall, driven by a 2.6 average in 18-49 for its two-hour “The Bachelor,” up 8% from the previous night. “The Taste” inched up to a 1.8, rising 13% from last week.

Fox was paced by a 2.5 in viewers 18-49 for “New Girl,” down 4%, while “The Mindy Project” ticked up 12% to a 1.9. Back-to-back episodes of “Raising Hope” settled for a 1.6 and a 1.5, both down 6%.

For the night, CBS led the way with a 2.8 average rating in the 18-49 demo, followed by ABC (2.3 average), Fox (1.9), Univision (1.7) and NBC (1.2). CBS had a huge lead in total viewers, averaging 16.1 million to 7.0 million for ABC, 5.0 million for NBC, 4.0 million for Univision and 4.0 million for Fox.

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Biggest Media Acquisition in Six Years Makes John Malone's Liberty as Big as the World's Largest Cable Company

In the biggest media acquisition since 2007, John Malone's Liberty Global has agreed to buy British cable-television provider Virgin Media, Bloomberg reports.

The $16 billion cash and stock deal sets up a challenge by Malone to Rupert Murdoch in Europe's biggest pay-television market, as we reported yesterday.

The deal "puts Liberty Global in a dead heat with Comcast Corp. as the world’s biggest cable company, and opens a new battleground with billionaire Murdoch, whose News Corp. controls British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc. Malone is using Liberty Global to grow in markets outside the U.S. and already runs pay-TV providers in Germany, Belgium and Switzerland," the story reports.

Matthew Harrigan, an analyst with Wunderlich Securities in Denver, commented in a phone interview for the report: “It’s an attractive transaction for Liberty Global. The number of shares issued with the deal is a little higher than some people might have expected, but there are decent programming synergies. Virgin’s a good asset, and I think the deal makes it even better.”

Bloomberg calls the deal “the biggest purchase of a media company since the $17.4 billion merger that created Thomson Reuters Corp., announced in May 2007.”

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NBC Comedy 'Go On' to Reunite One of TV's Most Popular Couples

One of television’s most popular couples will be reunited on the NBC sitcom “Go On,” according to The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed.

The actors who played Monica and Chandler on "Friends" will appear together on an episode of “Go On” set to air in April. Courteney Cox will make a guest appearance on the episode of the freshman series, which stars Matthew Perry.

Cox will play a character who meets Anne, a member of the therapy group attended by Perry's Ryan, who then sets up Cox’s and Perry’s characters.

It will be Perry and Cox's first TV reunion since "Friends" ended its 10-season run in 2004.

“This marks the latest ‘Friends’ reunion for Cox, who has also guest starred on Lisa Kudrow's Showtime adaptation ‘Web Therapy’ (David Schwimmer has appeared as well),” the report notes. “Kudrow, meanwhile, also appeared on an episode of ‘Cougar Town’ during the comedy's run on ABC, as did Jennifer Aniston, the latter of whom also guest starred on Cox's FX comedy, ‘Dirt.’ (Schwimmer, meanwhile, directed two episodes of ‘Friends’ spinoff ‘Joey,’ starring Matt LeBlanc.)”

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'SNL' Skit Sparks Angry Response From Government of Thailand

A "Saturday Night Live" skit has angered Thailand, with the Thai culture minister and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs demanding that the clip be removed from YouTube, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

The skit is about creepy men learning to speak Thai through Rosetta Stone as they prepare for a sex tourism trip. They learn phrases such as "How much" and "Is that for the whole night," the story says.

“The government will also inform the U.S. Embassy that the commercial spoof is tarnishing Thailand’s image, and will ask the embassy to explain the situation to the producer of ‘Saturday Night Live,’” said Thai Culture Minister Sonthaya Khunploem.

A representative for "SNL" had no comment.

Here’s a look at the skit:

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CNN Fixture -- Previously Thought to Be on the Way Out -- Has His Contract Renewed

In what’s being described as CNN’s version of “Survivor” -- with who’s safe and who’s out continuously shifting -- the latest news has John King back on the safe side of the equation, Mediabistro’s FishbowlDC reports.

King, “long thought to be on the outs with the network after ‘John King USA’ went belly up and personal issues marred internal relations, has had his contract renewed,” the piece reports. “In the game of ‘CNN Survivor,’ under the new regime of President Jeff Zucker, King is safe.”

The fate of other CNN’ers is less clear, the story notes.

“There are murmurings that Candy Crowley may be contemplating a change,” the report says. “She was originally scheduled for Inauguration coverage and then HLN’s Robin Meade was brought in from Atlanta along with Brooke Baldwin. Suddenly things weren’t so sweet for Candy and she was noticeably absent for much of the coverage. Sources tell us Crowley has been entertaining the idea of picking up her blocks and making a change, even before Zucker arrived.”

A rising star at CNN may be Kate Bolduan, the piece reports, with executives buzzing that she was “born to anchor.” “Expect to see more of her,” the story says. “Also in the ‘like’ category is Brianna Keilar, who is perceived as a fresh, younger face.”

The report adds: “In the process of making changes, however, come certain tensions. For example, network insiders tell us Amy Entelis, senior VP for talent and content development, has Zucker meeting with talent from other networks who are under contract, in turn, ‘pissing off’ lawyers at competing networks.”

john-king.jpg

John King

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Fox News Cuts Ties With Political Strategist

Fox News has severed ties with a contributor who has a long track record as a political consultant and strategist. TVNewser.com reports that the cable channel has ended its relationship with Dick Morris.

Fox News declined to renew his contract when it expired, the piece reports.

Morris has been absent from Fox News since the week after the presidential election. He became a focal point of mockery because of his "woefully inaccurate predictions" during the presidential campaign, the piece notes. Morris predicted a landslide win for Mitt Romney.

Morris is generally identified as a Republican strategist and consultant, but he was a friend and adviser to Bill Clinton during Clinton’s years as governor of Arkansas, and later became a political adviser to the Clinton White House. He spent some time as the campaign manager for Clinton’s successful re-election bid in 1996, leaving the campaign amid a scandal in which it was reported that Morris allowed a prostitute to listen in on his conversations with Clinton.

More recently, Morris has become a harsh critic of both Bill and Hillary Clinton, and he has been a regular contributor on Fox News programs including “The O’Reilly Factor.”

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CBS Defends Its Broadcast of Post-Super Bowl Expletives

A top CBS executive is defending the network’s handling of the Super Bowl post-game celebration, during which a couple of players for the victorious Baltimore Ravens could be heard dropping what is generally described as “fleeting expletives.”

Specifically, Ravens lineman Marshal Yanda asked quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco, “Holy s--t, huh?” to which Flacco responded, “F---ing awesome,” Yahoo! TV reports.

Martin Franks, the network's executive vice president of planning, policy and government affairs, tells the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog that CBS has not heard an outcry about the incident.

"We've gotten a handful of complaints [but] there are more people asking questions about the blackout," Franks said.

The only way CBS could have sidestepped airing the expletives would have been to put the entire game on a tape delay, which wouldn't have served the millions of viewers who wanted to see the game live, he said.

"One hundred and fifteen million people should not have to wait 30 seconds for the results of one the most exciting finishes in Super Bowl history," Franks said. He gave the number of people who were watching the game at the moment when Flacco swore, just 85 seconds after the game had ended and the network hadn't jumped to a commercial break.

An ad break is required to switch to delay mode, the piece notes.

"You can only take this protection so far before you compromise what the audience really wants, which is a sense that they are there," Franks noted.

The Yahoo report notes: “The Parents Television Council is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to fine the network. ‘The FCC must step up to its legal obligation to enforce the law, or families will continue to be blindsided,’ said PTC president Tim Winter.”

The piece also notes that the FCC’s indecency rules apply from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and the swearing took place just after 10 p.m. in the eastern time zone. That means only stations in other time zones would face possible fines if the FCC were to pursue the complaints.

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Well-Known Comedian Lands Role on 'Beverly Hills Cop' TV Project

CBS has cast a well-known comedian in its new "Beverly Hills Cop" TV project, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Kevin Pollak, a stand-up comic whose credits include playing a district attorney on "Shark," will portray the in-house attorney for the Beverly Hills Police Department in the pilot. His character, Rodney Daloof, is described as a bully and a stickler for the rules, the story notes.

The potential series would be an hour-long crime procedural, with some elements of humor. It's about the police officer son of Axel Foley -- the character played by Eddie Murphy in the original movies -- who tries to catch criminals in Beverly Hills.

Pollak, known for his celebrity impressions, has appeared in a string of feature films including “The Usual Suspects,” “A Few Good Men” and “The Wedding Planner.” On TV he has hosted “Celebrity Poker Showdown” and “Million Dollar Money Drop,” and his numerous acting gigs included the Syfy miniseries “The Lost Room” and the HBO miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon.”

kevin-pollak.jpgKevin Pollak

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HBO Signs Overall Deal With 'Game of Thrones' Author

HBO has signed a two-year overall deal with "Game of Thrones" author George R.R. Martin, reports Deadline.com.  

Under the deal, Martin will continue as co-executive producer on "Game of Thrones," and will also develop and produce new series projects for the network.

Martin has written some episodes of the HBO fantasy series. His other TV writing credits include the 1980s series "Beauty and the Beast" and the 1980s version of "The Twilight Zone."

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Ad Sales Under Way for 2014 Super Bowl -- With the Game's Venue One Factor That Could Push Up Prices

Sales of advertising time for the 2014 Super Bowl have already begun, and the city where the game will be played could have an impact on prices -- at least if Fox can successfully make that pitch, reports Brian Steinberg in Advertising Age.

Fox has started to reach out to advertisers about next year's game, which is set for New York. Steinberg writes that the discussions are "part of broader talks with marketers about supporting Fox sports-oriented media outlets."

“In these wide discussions, Fox executives have cited the New York setting for Super Bowl XLVIII, and the excitement the location will bring to the proceedings, according to one media-buying executive familiar with the tone of the talks,” Steinberg writes. “This executive also suggested Fox would seek to secure an increase in the price of Super Bowl ad inventory.”

How will the recent CBS Super Bowl broadcast impact Fox’s prospects? It remains to be seen.

"CBS saw ratings for Super Bowl XLVII decline from the year-earlier broadcast on NBC, the first time Super Bowl ratings have declined since 2005," Steinberg notes.

He continues, "Fox could experience some advertiser pushback," citing a discussion with a media-buying executive who spoke with Fox. The economy might still be an issue, with advertisers unwilling to justify a big unit rate if it means cutting buys in other programming, the story notes.

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Take a Letter Maria, But Don't Deliver It to My Wife: Postal Service to Stop Delivering Mail on Saturdays

"The U.S. Postal Service will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to deliver packages six days a week under a plan aimed at saving about $2 billion annually, the financially struggling agency says," reports the Associated Press.

The story adds, "In an announcement scheduled for later [today, Feb. 6, 2013], the service is expected to say the Saturday mail cutback would begin in August. The move accentuates one of the agency’s strong points -- package delivery has increased by 14 percent since 2010, officials say, while the delivery of letters and other mail has declined with the increasing use of email and other Internet services."

The article continues, "Under the new plan, mail would be delivered to homes and businesses only from Monday through Friday, but would still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays. Post offices now open on Saturdays would remain open on Saturdays."

The story says that stopping Saturday delivery of letters is a move the Postal Service has been advocating for quite a while, but Congress has been reluctant to approve the move. Congress controls the Postal Service.

The article notes: "It was not immediately clear how the service could eliminate Saturday mail without congressional approval."

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Why Stock for MSO Charter Is on Fire

"Charter Communications [stock] rose the most in more than a year after Liberty Global Inc.’s interest in buying Virgin Media Inc. stoked valuations for U.S. cable companies," Bloomberg reports

The article adds that yesteday, Feb. 5, 2013, "Charter, the No. 4 [MSO] in the market, climbed 6.3% to $81.53 at the close in New York, [Charter's] largest gain since Aug. 9, 2011. Many large U.S. cable companies are undervalued relative to their European counterparts, Matthew Harrigan, an analyst at Wunderlich Securities Inc. in Denver, said in an interview. Investors may see Charter as a possible acquisition target, said Amy Yong, an analyst at Macquarie Securities who has a neutral rating on the shares."

The story also notes that "Hedge fund Lone Pine Capital LLC, run by Stephen Mandel, announced yesterday in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing it owned 7.1 percent of Charter, which also may be lifting the shares, Yong said." 

 

 

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ABC's Oscars Telecast Sells Out of Ad Time -- Fast

ABC announced that its Academy Awards telecast has sold out of commercial time, with the sellout coming at the fastest pace for the telecast in more than a decade.

The Oscars were virtually sold out by Christmas, the network revealed. The show is set to air Sunday, Feb. 24.

The network is fetching about $1.7 million to $1.85 million for the telecast, a rate increase from last year, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Among the performers lined up for this year’s Oscars are Barbra Streisand, Adele and Norah Jones. Recently announced presenters include Meryl Streep, Octavia Spencer and Christopher Plummer. The ceremony will feature a tribute to the James Bond movie franchise.

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Disney to Make 'Star Wars' Stand-Alone Movies That Are IN ADDITION to the Overall Main Multi-Part 'Star Wars' Saga

The Walt Disney Co., which is taking over the making of future 'Star Wars' movies, will be making stand-alone 'Star Wars' films that are IN ADDITION to the main, multi-part 'Star Wars' saga.

The announcement was made by Disney chariman and CEO Bob Iger during an interview on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013 with CNBC's Julia Boorstin. 

Here's what Iger said: "I can confirm to you today that in fact we are working on a few stand-alone films. Larry Kasdan and Simon Kinberg are both working on films derived from great 'Star Wars' characters that are not part of the overall saga. So we still plan to make 'Star Wars' 7, 8 and 9 roughly over a six year period of time starting in 2015. Bbut they are going to be a few other films released in that period of time too." 

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Report: Anderson Cooper's 10 p.m. CNN Show Likely to Be Cut, and Zucker Will Replace It With Show Featuring a New Hire

"Anderson Cooper's 10 p.m. show is set to be slashed by CNN chief Jeff Zucker to make room for a big new hire, network sources have revealed," reports the U.K.'s Daily Mail website, Mail Online. [All times in this item are ET.]

The story, by Sara Nathan, continues, "The TV favourite, 45, hosts 'Anderson Cooper 360°' at 8 p.m. every weekday and the show is repeated at 10 p.m., with Brit Piers Morgan sandwiched in between. However, as part of a huge raft of changes at the network, Zucker plans to axe the 10 p.m. segment, paving the way for a new star to anchor another show."

The story adds, "Zucker is already moving Erin Burnett to helm a morning show alongside new hire Chris Cuomo, fresh from ABC -- which means the evenings are opened up. Erin, 36, has been hosting CNN's 7 p.m. 'OutFront' show, which has been struggling in the ratings ... although she is said to be far from keen to go to breakfast."

The article also notes, "A source said: 'Losing an hour of Anderson a night means that Jeff has more to play with, hire heavyweight talent and play chess with the rest of his primetime shows.'"

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CBS Racks Up Monday Win as an NBC Franchise Show Sinks to Season Low

On a night when CBS rolled out the season premiere of “Rules of Engagement” and two franchise reality shows went head-to-head on ABC and NBC, it was CBS that came out on top among the broadcast networks, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that CBS finished Monday night with a 3.1 average rating for prime time in the key 18-49 demo, topping Fox (2.6 average), ABC (2.2) and NBC (1.8). CBS claimed a narrow win in total viewers, averaging 10.1 million for the night to 9.0 million for Fox, 8.1 million for ABC and 4.9 million for NBC.

NBC’s two-hour “The Biggest Loser” came out on the short end of its faceoff with ABC’s two-hour “The Bachelor,” with the NBC reality franchise slipping 13% from last week to a season-low 2.0 in viewers 18-49. “The Bachelor” was also down, slipping 4% to a 2.4.

CBS’s “Rules of Engagement” had mixed results for its season premiere, averaging a 3.1 rating in 18-49 -- up a whopping 48% from the 2.1 the show pulled for its season finale in May, but down 14% from its previous season premiere. Meanwhile, CBS’s “How I Met Your Mother” was the top show of the night, delivering a 4.0 average, up 8% from its previous original.

CBS got support from “2 Broke Girls” with a 3.6 in the 18-49 demo and “Mike & Molly” with a 3.1, while “Hawaii Five-0” won the 10 p.m. hour with a 2.3.

The Fox lineup was down, with both “Bones” (2.3 average in 18-49) and “The Following” (2.9) slipping 12% from last week.

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Which Advertiser Made the Most of Its Super Bowl Spots? It's Not Even Close

One advertiser appears to have reached far more viewers with its Super Bowl commercials than the rest, based on Kantar Media Audiences commercial ratings. But that advertiser isn’t like the rest, either.

Based on the Kantar research, the advertiser that got its message out to the widest audience was CBS.

“In the biggest TV event of the year, the highest-rated commercial wasn’t even an ad -- it was a promo,” Kantar announced. “Based on Kantar Media Audiences commercial ratings analysis for Sunday’s Super Bowl telecast on CBS, the network’s promo for ‘Person of Interest’ scored the highest rating, edging Samsung’s ad featuring celebrities in search of the ‘Next Big Thing.’”

CBS also ran more spots than anyone else -- by a lot. “CBS ran 42 promotional spots during the Super Bowl, accounting for about 43% of the entire big game commercial inventory,” Kantar noted.

Among the traditional marketers, the automotive sector fared the best. “Automotive brands scored 6 of the top 10 rated ads (excluding promos) -- with the Mercedes Benz leading the lot with 46.6, followed by Kia Trucks, Dodge, Lincoln, Kia and Bridgestone,” Kantar announced. “Tide’s Miracle Stain was the 4th highest spot, earning a 46.5, and Soda Stream completing the top 5 with a 46.3 rating.”

The top-performing spots ran during the two-minute warning near the end of the game.

“As with most Super Bowls, the audience tended to stay with the game and not change channels,” Kantar reports. “Even during the power outage, there was no discernible audience loss.”

Here are the top-rated spots, with airtime (ET), HH Rating (%) and length of the spot in seconds:

2013 Top-Rated Super Bowl Commercials

1. CBS-Person Of Interest/CBS: Person of Interest Promo
10:31:06 PM, 47.4, 20 seconds

2. Samsung Galaxy/Celebrities Argue Over Next Big Thing
10:29:06 PM, 47.2, 120

3. Mercedes Benz Autos/W. Dafoe & K. Upton: Soul
10:21:41 PM, 46.6, 60

4. Tide/Miracle Stain
10:13:54 PM, 46.5, 60

5. Soda Stream/Bubbles Set Free
10:14:54 PM, 46.3, 30

6. Kia Trucks/Space Babies
10:05:51 PM, 46.2, 60

7. CBS-Hawaii Five-O/CBS: Hawaii Five-O Promo
10:22:41 PM, 46.2, 20

8. CBS-Elementary/CBS: Elementary Promo
9:59:27 PM, 46.1, 20

9. CBS-Job/CBS: The Job Promo
10:23:01 PM, 46.1, 20

10. CBS Cares/PSA/Wounded Warrior Donation Solicitation
10:06:51 PM, 45.9, 20

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Netflix Gets in Business With Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah's production company, Flavor Unit Entertainment, announced it has inked an exclusive licensing agreement for movies in the U.S. with Netflix.

Flavor Unit, a collaboration between Latifah and Shakim Compere, will make available films from the company to debut on the Netflix television subscription service.

“In the first-look deal, Netflix will have its pick of movies that will debut on the world’s leading Internet television subscription service shortly after their theatrical release from the company that produced box office hits like ‘Bringing Down the House’ and ‘Beauty Shop,’” Netflix announced. “Beginning in spring 2013, Netflix members can exclusively enjoy Flavor Unit titles including the thriller ‘House of Bodies,’ starring Terrence Howard and Peter Fonda, and ‘Percentage,’ starring Ving Rhames, Cam’ron and Macy Gray.”

Ted Sarandos, Netflix chief content officer, said in a statement: “We are delighted to work with Queen Latifah to be the exclusive destination for what are sure to be relevant, entertaining movies. Queen Latifah has a long track record of creating hits and Flavor Unit Entertainment is a fresh and exciting voice in the industry.”

Latifah added: “Shakim and I are thrilled to do business with Netflix. Netflix is such a strong brand and the perfect place to showcase our projects.”

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Cable Network Crowing About Its Super Bowl Counterprogramming Event -- With 12.4 Million Viewers

While CBS continues to issue press releases about the huge numbers racked up by its coverage of Sunday's Super Bowl, the cable channel Animal Planet has its own record numbers to crow about. The channel announced that its Puppy Bowl IX delivered a record audience of more than 12.4 million unique viewers over the course of the event’s 12-hour marathon.

“During the Super Bowl blackout, all of Puppy Bowl IX’s lights remained on, and its viewership surged to 1.1M P2+ viewers from 8:51-9:00 PM (ET/PT),” Animal Planet announced. “This marked a 54 percent increase compared to the delivery in the prior Puppy Bowl IX segment.”

The program’s premiere telecast from 3-5 p.m. (ET/PT) topped 2.6 million total viewers, rising 64% from year-ago levels, the network said.

“Puppy Bowl IX was the most-buzzed-about show in all of cable, having the most tweets all day Sunday and coming in second overall only to the Super Bowl,” the channel noted. “The premiere telecast generated nearly 300,000 tweets, pummeling last year’s total-day record of 214,000 tweets within the first telecast alone. Doubling last year’s performance, Puppy Bowl IX produced 10 U.S. trending topics on Twitter throughout the day, including #PuppyBowl and #CuteCam. Several celebrities joined in on the #PuppyBowl fun, including Steve Martin, Miley Cyrus, Zach Braff, Martha Stewart and Mandy Moore.”

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TV Fixture Named Harvard Hasty Pudding Man of the Year

An actor who has been beefing up his resume with TV work after establishing himself in movies was named Man of the Year by Harvard University’s Hasty Pudding Theatrical’s -- the nation’s oldest undergraduate drama troupe. TVNewser.com reports that this year’s honor goes to Kiefer Sutherland.

“The Golden Globe-winning actor will be roasted and receive his ceremonial pudding pot at a ceremony scheduled for Friday,” the story reports. “The awards are presented annually to performers who have made a lasting and impressive contribution to entertainment. The 2013 Woman of the Year, Marion Cotillard, was honored last week.”

Sutherland has been appearing in the Fox drama series “Touch” after a critically acclaimed run on the network’s “24” -- for which he won an Emmy and a Golden Globe along with two Screen Actors Guild Awards. Before setting up shop on the small screen he was a fixture in feature films including “69,” “Flatliners” and “Dark City.”

kiefer-sutherland.jpgKiefer Sutherland

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Oxygen Expands Development Slate, Signs First-Look Deal With Wendy Williams

Oxygen Media, which is working on expanding its original programming, announced it has signed a first-look development deal with talk show host Wendy Williams.

“After reinforcing its position as the youngest women’s network and #1 women’s cable network on Monday prime for all key demos in 2012, Oxygen Media continues to drive its ‘Live Out Loud’ branding by announcing today a 20 percent increase in original programming with the expansion of its original schedule from two to three nights a week,” Oxygen noted.

“In addition, the network announced an exclusive first-look development deal with renowned talk show host Wendy Williams, who will bring her talent and creative concepts to Oxygen. The network will expand its aggressive slate with a new development project, ‘Secret Celebrity,’ featuring the hottest celebrities in disguise who surprise unsuspecting fans, friends and family, as well as a new pilot titled ‘This Week The Award Goes To …,’ a comedic talk show that doles out over-the-top awards to the most deserving newsmakers in pop culture.”

The network added: “Oxygen’s robust 2013 lineup includes returning series ‘I’m Having Their Baby,’ the network’s highest rated new series of 2012, and the popular tattoo competition series ‘Best Ink,’ with new host Pete Wentz. The eagerly anticipated modeling competition series ‘The Face,’ starring celebrity supermodels Naomi Campbell, Karolina Kurkova, Coco Rocha and famed photographer Nigel Barker, premieres on February 12 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.”

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Actor in Reviled Super Bowl Ad Reveals He's Headed to Hit Sitcom

The 34-year-old actor who appeared in one of the most disliked ads of this year’s Super Bowl said he will appear next in CBS's "The Big Bang Theory," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Actor Jesse Heiman starred as the geek in GoDaddy's ad featuring model Bar Refaeli. The pair kissed for 10 seconds in the ad, with the concept being that the Web firm has both a sexy and a smart side. The spot was ranked as the worst ad by USA Today's Ad Meter, as previously reported. The ad can be seen by clicking here.

Heiman will appear in the Feb. 14 episode of "The Big Bang Theory." The story notes that he has appeared as an extra on the show for several years. His role in the Feb. 14 episode is nonspeaking.

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Jesse Heiman

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'Anchorman' Sequel Will Reunite Former 'SNL' Heavyweights

Another big star with roots on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” will join “SNL” alum Will Ferrell on the sequel to the hit 2004 comedy feature “Anchorman.” According to The Hollywood Reporter, Kristen Wiig has joined the project.

The project’s director, Adam McKay, confirmed last night on his Facebook page that Wiig has signed on, the story reports.

“Wiig has long been included in the comedy universe of which ‘Anchorman’ producer Judd Apatow is the center; he produced her 2011 breakout hit ‘Bridesmaids,’ which earned her an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay, and she appeared in his 2007 directorial effort ‘Knocked Up.’ A pairing with Ferrell produced a memorable presentation at last month's Golden Globes, perhaps hinting at what is to come,” THR reports.

Also on board for “Anchorman: The Legend Continues” are Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and Dave Koechner. The Paramount movie is due out Dec. 20.

The piece notes that Wiig “will soon appear in the dramedy ‘Girl Most Likely,’ which she wrote, as well as Ben Stiller's ‘Secret Life of Walter Mitty,’ Liza Johnson's drama ‘Hateship, Friendship’ and Craig Johnson's dramedy ‘The Skeleton Twins.’”

kristen-wiig.jpgKristen Wiig

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NBC Orders Reboot of 1960s Drama Series; Blair Underwood to Play Lead

NBC has ordered a pilot for a remake of a 1960s drama series, with "L.A. Law" and "In Treatment" actor Blair Underwood in the lead role. EW.com's Inside TV reports that the network gave the go-ahead to a new version of “Ironside.”

NBC says the remake is about a “tough, sexy but acerbic police detective relegated to a wheelchair after a shooting" but who "is hardly limited by his disability as he pushes and prods his hand-picked team to solve the most difficult cases in the city."

The original series, which starred Raymond Burr, bowed in 1967 and ran for eight seasons on NBC.

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Blair Underwood

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Start the Online Petitions Now! Iconic American Brand, Synonymous With Blandness and Mediocrity for 79 Years, About to Change Its Name

The year was 1934. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Dizzy Dean were all baseball stars that year. The Otis Elevator Co. was already 84 years old in 1934. So when Muzak was founded in Fort Mill, South Carolina, that year, there was already a market for its product, quickly dubbed “elevator music.”

Muzak was bought by the Canadian firm Mood Media two years ago for $345 million, and, according to The New York Times, today, Feb. 5, 2013, “The company will announce that it is consolidating its services under a single brand, Mood, thus eliminating the Muzak name. ‘It’s the end of an iconic American brand,' said Lorne Abony, Mood Media’s chairman and chief executive."

The article continues, “Mr. Abony said that Mood’s background music services, including Muzak and DMX -- which it bought last year -- generate about 90 percent of the company’s sales. In the third quarter of last year, it had $120 million in revenue and $32 million in earnings before interest, depreciation and amortization. But the company wants to expand its other services by offering clients a broad menu under one name, particularly in the United States, where the penetration of Mood’s sights-and-scents business has been low compared with the rest of the world.”

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Actor Gets Third Green Light in 12 Months From ABC

The rollercoaster ride continues for a familiar TV actor at ABC, which has kept him busy by greenlighting projects and then pulling the plug. Nellie Andreeva, writing on Deadline.com, reports that the network has given John Leguizamo yet another green light -- ordering its third pilot of the past 12 months from him.

The untitled project is based on Leguizamo's fish-out-of-water life on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. His character fears his children are becoming spoiled and that he has lost touch with his Bronx roots, the story notes.

The order comes after Leguizamo was cast in the ABC pilot "The Kings of Van Nuys," which was passed over in May. ABC subsequently ordered a reworked version of that pilot, but that second pilot also got a pass, the story notes.

“The project has been in the works since early February of last year when Leguizamo signed a deal with ABC and ABC Studios with the intention to develop a single-camera comedy inspired by his life for him to star in and executive produce with [Jeff] Golenberg and Mandeville, the company he worked with on Edison,” Andreeva writes.

The latest project is now set up as a multicamera effort, marking ABC’s second multicamera comedy this year, along with “Divorce: A Love Story.”

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John Leguizamo

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Discovery Makes Peace With Reality Host

A truce appears to have been declared in the dispute between Discovery Channel and one of its popular reality hosts. Deadline.com reports that the channel is welcoming back former “Man vs. Wild” host Bear Grylls.

Grylls left the channel last year in a programming disagreement, the report notes. “Discovery Networks International says the survival expert will return to the overseas fold with new series, ‘Bear Grylls: Ultimate Survivors,’” Deadline adds. “The six-part hourlong show will air on the Discovery Channel in 217 international markets across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America.”

The new series, which is not set to air in the U.S., focuses on ordinary people who have become stranded in difficult situations, with Grylls then putting himself in similar circumstances.

Grylls said he is "super excited to be working with Discovery again," Deadline notes.

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Katie Couric to Interview Joe Paterno's Widow

Katie Couric has landed an exclusive interview with the widow of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, marking the first interview she has given since the sex-abuse scandal involving former Penn State assistant Jerry Sandusky damaged her husband's legacy, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Couric visited Sue Paterno in State College, Pa., where the Paternos lived for 50 years. Joe Paterno died in January 2012, two months after he was fired by Penn State.

Sue Paterno will also appear at the New York studio for "Katie" on Feb. 11, when the episode will air.

Couric's “big get” comes just two weeks after she sat down with Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, who was at the center of a widely publicized Internet hoax.

 

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NBA Legend Joins ABC Reality Show

ABC's new reality diving competition "Splash" will feature an NBA Hall of Famer, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will be a part of the series, along with extreme skier Rory Bushfield, the story reports. The show is geared toward showing famous people looking graceful while diving, which the story says "will be especially interesting when it comes to Abdul-Jabbar, 65, who stands 7 feet, 2 inches tall." It adds, "Here's hoping the swimming pool is deep enough."

Previously announced cast members include comedian Louie Anderson and Miss Alabama USA Katherine Webb, the piece notes. Webb received national attention during the BCS college football championship game last month, as previously reported.

Fox aired its own diving show last month, “Stars in Danger: The High Dive,” which earned "depressingly low ratings,” the story reports.

"Splash" will debut March 19.

 

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'Wild Thing, I Think I Love You, But I Want to Know for Sure.' It's a Line From One of the Most Famous Rock Songs Ever. The Man Who Sang It Has Died at 71

The man who sang those words in the iconic song "Wild Thing" in the 1960s has died at 71, the BBC reports. Reg Presley was the lead singer of the seminal garage rock band the Troggs.

Presley, who founded the group -- originally known as the Troglodytes -- in the U.K. in the early 1960s, fronted the band through a series of minor hits including "Love Is All Around,” written by Presley; “With a Girl Like You" -- the band’s only No. 1 U.K. single; and "I Can't Control Myself." But the British group’s towering contribution to popular culture was its rendition of “Wild Thing,” written by U.S. songwriter Chip Taylor.

“Wild Thing” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. in July 1966, but peaked at No. 2 in the group’s native Britain. The song was eventually ranked at No. 257 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Presley retired from music about a year ago, after becoming ill during a concert in Germany. He was diagnosed with lung cancer.

Here’s a video of "Wild Thing":

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John Malone's Liberty Eyes Challenge to Rupert Murdoch's Global Media Empire

John Malone's Liberty Global is in discussions with Virgin Media for a deal to expand to Europe, a move that would challenge fellow billionaire Rupert Murdoch and his British Sky Broadcasting Group, reports Bloomberg.

Virgin Media, a U.K. cable-television provider with a market value of more than $10 billion, said it's in discussions with Liberty "concerning a possible transaction," the story says. Virgin didn't provide details.

Liberty Global would add Virgin Media's almost 5 million cable customers. Malone has been seeking growth outside the U.S., and runs pay-TV providers in several European countries.

BSkyB had almost 11 million subscribers at the end of 2012, the story notes. It's controlled by News Corp. and is the largest U.K. pay-TV provider.

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Fox News Confirms It Will Give Geraldo the Boot if He Runs for Office

Geraldo Rivera, who has been making noise about running for political office in New Jersey, will lose his job at Fox News Channel as soon as he decides to run, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

Rivera, 69, could no longer host "Geraldo at Large" if he decides to run for a Senate seat, a spokeswoman for Fox News said.

Fox News has been in similar situations before. When two of its contributors, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, were considering running for president, Fox News suspended their contracts. Ultimately, both decided to run and cut their ties to the network, the story says.

Rivera, who is considered one of Fox News' more liberal commentators, would run as a Republican if he seeks the Senate seat currently held by Frank R. Lautenberg, a Democrat. Lautenberg is up for re-election in 2014.

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Super Bowl Third-Most-Watched Show In Broadcast History

This year's Super Bowl -- already dubbed the Blackout Bowl for the 34-minute delay due to a power outage -- was the third-most-watched U.S. TV show ever.

It was watched by 108.41 million viewers, only superseded by last year's Super Bowl (111.3 million viewers) and the 2011 Super Bowl (111.0 million viewers).

In addition, CBS announced that "coverage of Super Bowl XLVII earned an average fast national household rating/share of 46.3/69 (47.0/71; N.Y. Giants-New England; Super Bowl XLVI), making it the second-highest-rated Super Bowl in 27 years (1/26/86; 48.3/70; Chicago-New England)."

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Huge Promotion for Bonnie Hammer at NBCU's Cable Division. New Role in Company for Lauren Zalaznick. And Former Univision CEO Joe Uva Hired to Run NBCU's Hispanic Properties

An internal memo with major announcements was sent out today, Monday, Feb 4, 2013, by NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke.

In the memo Burke wrote: "I am writing to let you know of some important changes to our organization, with the promotion of two senior executives and the addition of a third.

"•Bonnie Hammer is assuming responsibility for the entire cable entertainment portfolio, which will be renamed the Cable Entertainment Group.
•Lauren Zalaznick is being named Executive Vice President, NBCUniversal, focusing on innovation, digital, monetization and emerging technology across the company.
•Joe Uva is joining NBCUniversal in the newly created role of Chairman, Hispanic Enterprises and Content."

Previously, NBCU's cable properties had been split between Hammer and Zalaznick.

Wrote Burke, "Assembling our cable entertainment assets together in one group under Bonnie Hammer’s oversight is a logical and important step. Specifically, Bonnie will add Bravo, Oxygen, Style, Sprout and TV One to her current roster of businesses which includes USA Network, SyFy, E!, G4, Cloo, Chiller, Universal HD, Universal Cable Productions and Wilshire Studios. With these additions, the newly formed Cable Entertainment Group will represent approximately 50% of the company’s operating cash flow."

Burke continued, "We have already combined our sports and news businesses [under Mark Lazarus and Pat Fili-Kruschel, respectively] and when we did, we saw enhanced collaboration, new ideas and accelerated growth. I know that with this structure Bonnie and her team will maximize the power and profitability of this portfolio. Bonnie is a natural business leader and a strong creative force. She has a terrific team, which now will be even stronger, and she has my full confidence."

About Zalaznick's new role Burke wrote: "Now that our businesses are doing better and the company is more successful financially it is time to concentrate more on innovation. This is not easy to accomplish in a large company with many lines of business. Fortunately, we have a unique executive in Lauren Zalaznick who will lead the charge. Lauren is being promoted to a new role in which she will be responsible for harnessing the power of the NBCUniversal content portfolio to drive revenue across the company, including TV Everywhere and alternative windowing strategies. Lauren also will be responsible for Symphony across the NBCUniversal properties and with Comcast, and for helping develop our strategy around consumer products.

"NBCUniversal’s digital assets, Fandango and Daily Candy, will continue to report to Lauren and she will oversee our business development for digital, mobile, and social media. She also will continue to be involved with sales and marketing initiatives in the Integrated Media group, including Women At NBCU, Hispanics At NBCU, and the NBCU Digital Council."

In Burke's memo he also warmly welcomed Uva to the company.

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Cookie Monster Hit: Oreo's Instant Super Bowl Ad Was Retweeted 10,000 Times Within First Hour

Oreo was one of several advertisers that created instant ads during the Super Bowl and sent them out via Twitter.

Oreo's ad, pictured below, was send out with a tweet that read, "Power out? No problem."

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Wrote Paul Farhi in The Washington Post about the tweeted ad, "The instant-advertising era may not have been born Sunday night, but it took its first assured steps during the 34-minute power outage at the Super Bowl in New Orleans.

"Oreo (of all products) was the runaway winner, with a now legendary tweet-cum-ad that tied the 100-year-old cookie to the zero-dark-34 minutes at the Superdome. As players milled on the half-lit field, Oreo created the ad and pointed its thousands of followers to it."

Ad Age said the tweeted ad was retweeted 10,000 times within the first hour that it originally went out.

The Washington Post article added, "Ads like Oreo’s piece presuppose a 21st-century leap in both process and form. The process is, of course, lightning fast; Oreo’s ad team took just five minutes to conceive and produce the ad, according to company spokeswoman Laurie Guzzinati. It also required that ad agency and client executives be at the same place at the same time. Marketing executives from Oreo’s parent company, Mondelez International (formerly Kraft Foods), were assembled during the game in a “social-media command center” at its digital ad agency in New York, 360i, ready to jump on any development. The group included the agency’s creative directors and its tech-support team.

"The form -- social media -- also speeds response times by eliminating the middlemen, that is, the mass media. By posting to a social media channel, Oreo didn’t need to reserve TV airtime or print space in advance. It was able to move at the speed of the news."

The Post article also noted: "Advertising pros were among those impressed. The ad was a 'brilliant use of the medium,' said Bob Dorfman, a creative director at Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco who assesses the marketability of sports stars. He called it, a 'textbook example of how Twitter can be used in real time to tailor a product message.' "

Farhi ends his Post article with the line, "Next up: the Oscars"

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Daytime Talk Show Gets the Ax

One of the rookie daytime talk shows -- part of the freshman crop of syndicated shows that have been vying to fill the void left by the end of “Oprah” -- is getting the ax. B&C reports that “The Ricki Lake Show” won’t make it to a second season.

Twentieth Television confirmed today that the show will not be renewed, with production set to wrap March 28, the piece reports. The show will continue to air original episodes along with reruns until the start of the fall season.

In a statement, Stephen Brown, Twentieth's executive VP of programming and development, said: "We would like to thank Ricki Lake as well as executive producer Gail Steinberg and the entire staff for their work this season. While we are proud of the topics the program tackled including childhood obesity, life after the military, divorce and addiction, we were simply not able to break through the crowded talk show marketplace."

The show appears to have been lost in the shuffle of new daytime talkers that included Disney-ABC's “Katie,” NBCUniversal's “Steve Harvey” and “Trisha Goddard,” and CBS Television Distribution's “Jeff Probst,” the piece notes.

“Three of those shows -- ‘Katie,’ ‘Steve Harvey’ and ‘Trisha Goddard’ -- will return next year, with ‘Katie’ and ‘Steve Harvey’ both having entered the market with two-year deals in the majority of the country,” the report notes. “’Jeff Probst’ isn't expected to continue into next season, but there has been no official word from CBS yet. Twentieth also last week renewed its other rookie, entertainment magazine ‘Dish Nation,’ for a second season.”

“Ricki Lake” has been delivering a 0.7 household rating season-to-date, the piece notes. It joins “Anderson Live” and “Jeremy Kyle” on the list of new talk shows that won’t make it to season two.

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Video: Trump Confirms Plan to Sue Bill Maher for $5 Million Over Orangutan Remarks

Donald Trump called in this morning to Fox News’ "Fox & Friends" to announce his plan to sue Bill Maher, the star of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher," for allegedly welching on a $5 million dare, reports TheWrap.com.

Maher joked during an appearance last month on NBC's "The Tonight Show" about the veracity of Trump's claims about his background. The piece reports: “Maher made light of Trump's questioning of Barack Obama's birthplace by joking that Trump was spawned from sex between a human and an orangutan. He told ‘Tonight Show’ host Jay Leno that he would pony up $5 million for charity if Trump offered proof of his lineage.”

Trump later provided a copy of his birth certificate to Yahoo News and demanded that Maher cough up the $5 million.

Now Trump appears to be tired of waiting. He said today: "He promised me $5 million for charity if I provided certain information. Well, I provided the information. He didn’t pay. So today I sue Bill Maher for $5 million for charity."

After it was suggested that Maher was joking, Trump said: "I don't think he was joking. He said it with venom. That was venom. That wasn't a joke. In fact, he was nervous when he said it; it was a pathetic delivery. But he said, 'I will give,' and said, 'I will accept.'"

A spokesperson for Maher had not yet answered a request to comment for the story.

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CBS Greenlights a Batch of Projects -- David E. Kelley, Robin Williams, 'Homeland' Producers All in the Mix

CBS has unveiled a number of key programming moves, including giving a pilot order to a drama from three “Homeland” producers, Deadline.com reports.

The network also gave a pilot order to “Intelligence,” from writer Michael Seitzman, and officially ordered a pilot for David E. Kelley’s comedy “Crazy Ones,” which will star Robin Williams.

“Anatomy of Violence” comes from “Homeland” executive producers Howard Gordon, Alex Gansa and Alex Cary. The drama, “from 20th Century Fox TV and Gordon’s studio-based Teakwood Lane, already had a hefty pilot production commitment,” the report notes. “Inspired by the non-fiction book ‘The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime’ by Adrian Raine, it was written/executive produced by Gordon, Gansa and Cary. Cary joined the project after Gordon and Gansa originally sold it.

“The drama centers on a criminal psychologist with an expertise in sociopaths who partners with a young female detective with whom he shares a conflicted past. Teakwood’s Hugh Fitzpatrick is co-executive producing. ‘Anatomy of Violence’ is one of three pilots Gordon is exec producing, along with FX’s ‘Tyrant’ and TNT’s ‘Legends.’”

The Kelley/Williams project is “one of the highest wattage comedy packages this season,” the piece notes. It arrived at CBS in August and has informally had the go-ahead for a pilot since that time. “It has already hired a director, Jason Winer, and has been actively casting the other parts,” the story reports. 20th Century Fox TV is producing.

“Even without the big commitment, giving the project a production order was a no brainer,” Nellie Andreeva writes in the Deadline piece. “Let’s face it, you can’t judge a Robin Williams-starring vehicle without seeing it as he rarely sticks to the script. His improvisations on his previous TV series, ‘Mork & Mindy,’ were so hard to contain, Garry Marshall added a fourth camera to the three-camera format for him, thus ushering in the multi-camera comedy setup that is used til this day.”

Even so, the new project will be a single-camera piece, the report notes.

“It is set in the world of advertising and would star Williams as a brilliant ad executive working alongside his daughter,” the story reports. “As he often does, Kelley wrote the script on spec. He is executive producing with frequent collaborator Bill D’Elia, Winer, Dean Lorey, John Montgomery and Mark Teitelbaum. With its timing, CBS’s official green light for ‘Crazy Ones’ comes on the same day Kelley’s new TNT medical drama series ‘Monday Mornings’ premieres.”

Regarding Seitzman’s “Intelligence,” from ABC Studios, Andreeva writes: “The project’s prospects got a boost late last week when David Semel came on to direct and executive produce. Semel had been attached to NBC’s ‘Ironside’ remake. He is no longer involved in that project, which remains in serious contention at NBC with Blair Underwood, who is under a development deal at NBC, potentially playing the lead.”

The report adds: “Based on unpublished book ‘Dissident’ by John Dixon, ‘Intelligence’ is centered at US Cyber Command, and focuses on a unit that has been created around one agent with a very special gift, a microchip that has been implanted in his brain that allows him to access the entire electromagnetic spectrum. The premise of ‘Intelligence,’ which has a procedural element, is reminiscent of CBS’s ‘Person Of Interest,’ in which a duo tries to prevent crimes with the help of a top-notch computer program.”

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Veteran Newsman Exits ABC for NBC

ABC News, which has already lost a number of key players in recent weeks, is losing another one. Politico reports that senior investigative reporter Richard Esposito is headed to NBC News.

The move follows the recent losses of “20/20” co-anchor Chris Cuomo, White House correspondent Jake Tapper and “Good Morning America” senior Washington producer Virginia Moseley -- all to CNN -- along with the move of John Berman to CNN back in May.

“Esposito, a member of Brian Ross's investigative unit, leaves after almost 12 years with the network, during which he focused on homeland security and the criminal justice system,” the piece reports. “He was the recipient of numerous awards for investigative reporting, particularly on interrogation techniques, and is also the author of the book ‘Bomb Squad: A Year Inside the Nation’s Most Exclusive Police Unit.’"

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Chalk Up Another Top Honor for Affleck, 'Argo'

Ben Affleck’s feature film “Argo” continues to rack up awards, building what some observers are calling unstoppable momentum during the runup to the Oscars.

The latest top honor for Affleck: the Directors Guild of America Award. TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin offers a full wrapup of the awards ceremony, which took place Saturday. Click here to read her insights.

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Prospect Park Hints at Truce in Struggle Over Rights to Soap Opera Characters

After news broke that three actors would have to depart an ABC daytime drama due to a competing rights claim to their characters, as we reported last week, a breakthrough in the legal hassle may be in the offing.

TVLine.com reports that Prospect Park, which holds the rights to the “General Hospital” characters John, Todd and Starr as part of its effort to relaunch “One Life to Live,” issued a statement in an effort to shed light on the legal situation and possibly to begin steps toward brokering a deal.

The story reports: “To tee up their statement, Prospect Park explained that in 2011, the company ‘lent characters to “General Hospital” until shooting began for [“OLTL”] so that the characters could stay alive with the fans and also so that the actors could remain working.

“’Everyone at ABC and on the production staff of “General Hospital” understood that this was a temporary arrangement until production started once again on “One Life to Live,”’ Prospect Park said. With ‘OLTL’ now inching towards production on new episodes, ‘Prospect Park needs to, once again, cast these characters,’ meaning possibly with other actors.”

The Prospect Park statement includes this passage, which hints at the possibility of a resolution:

“Prospect Park understands that ‘General Hospital’ has featured Llanview transplants Michael Easton (John) and Kristen Alderson (Starr) among others while we arranged production of the new version of ‘One Life to Live.’ These characters, who we own under our agreement, are obviously essential to our production efforts, and a large reason we licensed the program. We also understand that legions of ‘General Hospital’ fans have grown to love these actors and characters in a short time. So even though we are paying ABC millions of dollars to license the shows, we have been, and continue to be willing to equally share the characters with ‘General Hospital’ and ABC.

“It’s a win-win for the actors, the shows and fans, who love all of the shows and storylines. We hope to work out these agreements with ABC and the actors.”

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Best and Worst of the Super Bowl Ads Ranked (Here Are the Videos)

The annual rankings of the Super Bowl ads are out, and while the competition for the top spot was close, the battle for worst commercial crowned a clear “winner.”

The top-rated commercial this year was Anheuser-Busch's spot featuring a reunion between a Clydesdale horse and his former owner, “Brotherhood,” according to USA Today’s Ad Meter. The ad won "by a nose" over the late-game spot from Procter & Gamble's Tide, “Miracle Stain,” featuring a ketchup stain in the shape of NFL great Joe Montana, the story says.

The other top five ads were Chrysler's Ram ad “Farmers”; Doritos' "Fashionista Dad" spot and another commercial from Chrysler, with its Jeep ad “Whole Again” taking fifth place, the story says.

The competition for worst ad saw an easy winner: GoDaddy.com's heavily buzzed spot featuring supermodel Bar Refaeli making out with a computer nerd, according to the rankings.

Anheuser-Busch’s Budweiser ad “Brotherhood”:

Tide’s “Miracle Stain”:

Ram Trucks' "Farmer" testimonial ad:


Doritos' "Fashionista Daddy" commercial:


Jeep's "Whole Again" ad:


GoDaddy’s Bar Refaeli spot:

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What Jeff Zucker Is Telling CNN Staff to Do Differently

New CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker is telling CNN's reporters and producers to do things differently -- he wants them to broaden their conception of news and to widen their range of topics on air, reports the New York Post.

That admonition led to CNN's decision to air Beyonce's Super Bowl press conference on Thursday, when she sang the National Anthem to prove she could sing live, following allegations of lip syncing, the story notes. Other networks stuck to political news that day.

Zucker also recently told producers of Anderson Cooper's "AC360" to scrap a show they had been working on and replace it with a panel discussion about Lance Armstrong, after he heard about Oprah Winfrey's sit-down interview with the disgraced cyclist.

“Zucker also alerted the Los Angeles talent agencies -- even prior to his first call with reporters about landing the new job -- to say he’s in the market for TV hosts,” the story reports. “And before the ink was dry on his business cards, Zucker named ABC News’ Chris Cuomo as one of his morning-show hosts. Erin Burnett, a darling of Zucker’s from her CNBC days, will likely be co-host.”

CNN's new morning show is being readied to debut in April, just a month before the upfront buying season begins, the story notes.

Commenting on the changes Zucker is implementing at the cable news channel, one CNN veteran is quoted in the piece saying: “He’s done more in the past two weeks than anyone has done in the past two years.”

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What's Behind the Historic Ratings Flop for NBC's Newest Show?

NBC's latest show wasn't expected to perform well, but it opened even worse than expected, with a historically low 0.9 average rating among viewers 18 to 49, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

Rival networks had predicted the show, "Do No Harm," would come in a little below the 2.0 rating in the key demo in its premiere Thursday night, but the 0.9 rating was "even lower than the dismally rated newsmagazine 'Rock Center with Brian Williams'" earned this season, Andreeva writes. The 0.9 rating for "Do No Harm" makes it the lowest in-season premiere rating in history for a series on one of the top four broadcast networks, the piece reports.

"The soft pre-launch tracking suggested that many viewers didn’t know of the show or weren’t sure what it was about, something that can be chalked up in part to the modest marketing campaign supporting the launch," Andreeva writes.

She continues: "'Do No Harm' also was saddled with a weak lead-in from an original 'The Office' (1.9) on a night where NBC’s lights had been off for a long time. And it faced spirited competition in the 10 p.m. hour from the pre-Super Bowl episode of 'Elementary' and hot sophomore 'Scandal.'"

Another blow might have been the reviews, which were "pretty bad across the board," the story adds.

“And then there is the Jekyll and Hyde premise of a successful neurosurgeon with an evil alter ego (Steven Pasquale),” Andreeva writes. “Interestingly, it was NBC that tried the Jekyll and Hyde dual-personality premise most recently with the 2008 drama ‘My Own Worst Enemy.’ Toplined by Christian Slater, it too died a quick death. There has been a host of dual-reality series in the past couple of years, including Kyle Killen’s ‘Lone Star’ and ‘Awake,’ which fizzled in the same NBC Thursday 10 p.m. slot last midseason -- one of three new NBC dramas to come and go in the hour last season, along with ‘Prime Suspect’ and ‘The Firm.’

“The post-mortem consensus on most of those complex-narrative dramas has been that they are likely better suited for cable. Especially with an antihero at the center like ‘Do No Harm‘s’ Dr. Jason Cole.”

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Super Bowl Sets Ratings Record in Metered Markets

The CBS broadcast of Super Bowl XLVII yesterday, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, "scored the highest [ratings] in history in metered markets," CBS announced.

Here's the full news release:

CBS SPORTS’ COVERAGE OF SUPER BOWL XLVII SCORES HIGHEST RATING IN HISTORY

Baltimore’s Win Over San Francisco Earns Overnight Rating/Share of 48.1/71 in Metered Markets

CBS Sports’ coverage of Super Bowl XLVII featuring the Baltimore Ravens' 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Feb. 3 (6:30-8:45 PM and 9:15-10:45 PM, ET), earned an average overnight household rating/share of 48.1/71, the highest-rated Super Bowl in the metered markets in history (2/6/11; 47.9/71; Fox; Green Bay-Pittsburgh).

This year’s 48.1/71 is up +1% from last year’s 47.8/71 (N.Y. Giants-New England) in the metered markets. Rating excludes from 8:45-9:15 PM, ET during power outage.

The Super Bowl XLVII rating/share peaked at 52.9/75 from 10:30-10:45 PM, ET. Following is a breakdown of the ratings by half-hours.

Nielsen fast affiliate data released at 11:00 AM, ET is not time adjusted and will not reflect CBS’s actual Sunday’s time adjusted fast national ratings that will be available from CBS later today.

(All times ET)

6:30-7:00 – 42.6/67 8:00-8:30 – 48.2/71 9:15-9:30 – 47.9/68

7:00-7:30 – 46.3/71 8:30-8:45 – 48.3/71 9:30-10:00 – 49.6/70

7:30-8:00 -- 47.9/72 8:45-9:15 -- 46.5/68 10:00-10:30 – 51.3/73

10:30-10:45 – 52.9/75

Top 10 Rated in the Metered Markets

1. Baltimore 59.6/83

2. New Orleans 57.1/77

3. Washington, DC 56.9/80

4. Norfolk 55.8/76

5. Dayton 54.6/72

6. Columbus, OH 54.3/73

7. Indianapolis 54.2/76

8. Richmond-Petersburg 53.7/74

9. Milwaukee 53.4/73

10. Jacksonville 53.3/70

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CBS May Have a Problem After Super Bowl MVP Drops Expletives on Live TV

The halftime show went off without an indecency incident, but in the moments after the Super Bowl ended Sunday night, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco -- the game’s MVP -- dropped a few swear words that were picked up by microphones and could be “heard quite clearly by viewers at home,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

Among his comments, he reportedly described winning the Super Bowl as "f---ing awesome."

That might be a problem for CBS, the story says. "Flacco's enthusiasm would probably be classified as a fleeting expletive. The Federal Communications Commission in the past has gone after networks for similar incidents," the story notes.

"Typically, the FCC does not issue a fine without complaints from viewers. Not every CBS station that carried the game would be on the hook. Flacco's swearing took place after 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The FCC's so-called indecency rules run from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m," the story notes.

CBS used delays during pregame, halftime and postgame coverage, but the immediate postgame celebration was a part of the game coverage and was carried live without a delay, the piece points out.

FCC efforts to enforce indecency rules in similar incidents have run into legal hurdles recently. “Last year, the Supreme Court tossed an FCC fine of Fox for swearing by Cher and Nicole Richie that made it on the air during awards shows,” the report notes. “However, the court's ruling does not stop the FCC from continuing to pursue fines for fleeting expletives.”

 

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Super Bowl Goes Dark for a Half-Hour: What Happened?

The Super Bowl went dark for more than half an hour during the third quarter Sunday night, when half of the stadium's power suddenly went out. The incident raised questions among viewers and fans about what went wrong, reports the New York Daily News.

One organization that dropped the ball during the blackout in New Orleans, according to the story, was CBS, which failed to press the NFL with questions.

"At a time when they should have been aggressively gathering news, CBS’s crew was satisfied with the crumbs the NFL dropped on them," the story notes. "Not once during the 34-minute delay did a representative of the National Football League appear on camera to attempt to explain what caused half the Superdome to lose power. Why should they? No one from CBS put any pressure on them."

The article continues, "CBS pays billions for the right to air NFL games. Much of that dough is shelled out to secure rights to the Super Bowl. So, on the big night, there is a major screwup and the NFL won’t put someone on the air -- and CBS won’t push the league -- to try to explain what’s going on? That’s mind-boggling."

CBS issued an official statement following the incident. The statement from Jennifer Sabatelle, VP of Communications for CBS Sports, says: “Immediately after the power failure in the Superdome, we lost numerous cameras and some audio powered by sources in the Superdome. We utilized CBS’s backup power and at no time did we leave the air. During the interruption, CBS Sports’ Steve Tasker, Solomon Wilcots and our studio team reported on the situation as a breaking news story, providing updates and reports while full power was being restored to the dome including our sets and broadcast booth. All commercial commitments during the broadcast are being honored.”

A report in the Los Angeles Times asks whether singer Beyonce caused the blackout, noting that the problem occurred only a few minutes after her halftime performance. Her show included "dazzling visual effects and light displays," and the blackout happened just 90 seconds into the third quarter, the story notes.

The piece notes, "Alas, it appears that human error, rather than the divine power of Queen Bey, was to blame for the outage. Although neither the NFL nor the Superdome provided an immediate explanation for the incident, the blackout appeared to be limited to the arena and on CBS, [host James] Brown indicated that a power surge was to blame."

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Fox Brings Back Infamous Reality Show

Fox is revisiting a reality show that sparked controversy and was heavily criticized during its original run in 2004, EW.com’s Inside TV reports. The show is “The Swan,” an infamous plastic surgery makeover program, which will return as a celebrity special, the story reports.

The original series featured "ugly" women who were given makeovers that included cosmetic surgery. The contestant who was voted the prettiest went on to compete in a pageant. The show wasn't critically well received.

The logline says the new show "will feature female celebrities and will offer these popular women the incredible opportunity to undergo physical, psychological and career changes as cameras follow them through the transformative process. This opportunity will allow these women to come back better than ever, have a second chance at personal and career redemption and re-introduce themselves to their supportive fans in a whole new way.”

No air date has been announced.

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NBC Series Reaps Promotional Gold From Super Bowl Blackout

While CBS and the NFL struggled to bring the Super Bowl back up to speed during a 34-minute blackout Sunday night, an NBC series got some free publicity from the incident, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The series “Revolution” -- about a world that’s in a permanent blackout -- began being talked about on social networking sites within minutes after the blackout began.

“Viewers turned to Twitter to voice their conspiracy theories on what had just happened. One of them concerned NBC's high-profile post-apocalyptic drama ‘Revolution,’ set in a world without electricity,” THR reports. “It was perfect timing.”

The show’s own Twitter account and Facebook page soon joined in on the action, the report notes.

A tweet from the official Twitter account for “Revolution” went out about an hour after the power outage first hit, saying: "Just a taste of what’s to come on March 25. #LightsOut #Revolution.”

THR reports: “Ten minutes later, another tweet was sent out with a link to an image of a necklace crucial to unlocking the ‘Revolution’ mystery: ‘If only the stadium had one of these ... #RevolutionMarch25.’ The same image was also pushed through on ‘Revolution's’ Facebook page.”

Meanwhile, a number of industry insiders also made note of the parallels between “Revolution” and the real-life Super Bowl Incident.

“’Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’ producer Mike Shoemaker wrote on Twitter: ‘This is just like “Revolution.” I wonder when the vines start growing,’" THR reports. “Former ‘Walking Dead’ showrunner Glenn Mazzara quipped: ‘Is this the beginning of the apocalypse? Or a lame stunt promoting “Revolution”?’ ‘The Vampire Diaries'’ Julie Plec joined in on the commentary, tweeting, ‘NBC and JJ Abrams just “Revolution” photobombed the Superbowl.’"

The THR piece notes: “On a grand stage like the Super Bowl, any mention or tie-in could potentially prove beneficial when the freshman NBC drama returns March 25 following a four-month hiatus.”

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CNET Writer Who Quit Over CBS's Meddling Lands a New Job -- at Website That Helped Expose CBS's Role in Hopper Situation

Former CNET senior writer Greg Sandoval, who quit his job after CBS meddled in the website’s editorial coverage last month, has found a new job: working for the website that first dug into CBS's interference, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

The website The Verge hired Sandoval as a senior reporter, the story says. Sandoval wrote in a blog post that he had been given "written guarantee from management that nobody from the business side of the company will ever have any authority over my stories.”

As previously reported, Sandoval resigned from CNET in January after CBS blocked CNET from giving an award to Dish Network’s ad-skipping Hopper device, which is at the center of a lawsuit between CBS and Dish. Sandoval worked at CNET for seven years.

The Verge is a tech-focused site that's owned by Vox Nation, and is the site that “first revealed the full extent of CBS’s involvement,” The Times reports.

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Classic Children's Show Getting Reboot

A classic animated kids show is getting a reboot, reports Deadline.com. An order for 26 half-hour episodes has been placed in the U.K. for a new show based on the 1960s puppet series “Thunderbirds,” the piece reports.

The new show, "Thunderbirds Are Go!," will feature the five Tracy brothers as they return to pursue their global rescues, the story reports. The original show, which debuted in 1965, influenced feature films and inspired "South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker's "Team America" movie.

The show is being made for the U.K.'s ITV and CITV, while ITVSGE will sell worldwide rights to the new show, the story says. It’s set to roll out in the U.K. in 2015.

Gerry Anderson, who created the original show along with “Supercar” and other puppet-oriented children’s shows that flourished for a period of time starting in the late 1960s, died in December, as previously reported.

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New Onion Show Snags 'Arrested Development' Veteran

A new project based on the news parody site The Onion has landed a big-name star, Deadline.com reports. The project, “The Onion Presents: The News,” signed “Arrested Development” alum Jeffrey Tambor.

The project is one of six comedy pilots in the works at Amazon Studios.

“The project, from The Onion’s Will Graham & Dan Mirk (‘The Onion News Network,’ ‘The Onion Sportsdome’), is described as a fast-paced scripted comedy set behind the scenes of The Onion News Network that shows just how far journalists will go to stay at the top of their game,” the story reports. “Tambor will play David Everett, ONN’s oldest and most respected news anchor. He is intellectual, highly ambitious, cutthroat and insecure as he believes his job is being threatened by the younger Cameron, whom David detests.”

John Goodman and Bebe Neuwirth recently signed on with other pilots from Amazon Studios, the piece notes.

Tambor is also set to dust off his “Arrested Development” character, George Bluth Sr., in a Netflix revival of that series.

jeffrey-tambor.jpg

Jeffrey Tambor

 

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Producer From 'GMA' Spinoff Jumps to 'Katie'

The syndicated Katie Couric talk show "Katie" has acquired a new co-executive producer, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The daytime show tapped Ethan Nelson, who moves from the "GMA" spinoff "Good Afternoon America," the piece reports.

Nelson will serve along with current co-executive producers Michael Bass and Kathy Samuels, while producer Matt Strauss is getting a title promotion to co-executive producer, the story says. Nelson will report to executive producers Couric and Michael Morrison, and will be introduced to the staff today, the story says.

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NBC Recasts Comedy Project, Brings 'Ally McBeal' Alum Aboard

NBC has replaced two actors following a table read for a new comedy project, bringing aboard an “Ally McBeal” veteran, Deadline.com reports.

Aasif Mandvi and Justin Chon are off the single-camera comedy pilot “The Gates,” replaced by “McBeal’s” Greg Germann and “Ben & Kate’s” Echo Kellum, the story reports.

“Germann was cast as a regular, while Kellum is a guest star,” the piece reports. “Based on the British series, ‘The Gates’ is an adult ensemble comedy set at the front gates of an elementary school drop-off and revolves around the parents, school staff and 15-minute social minefield they navigate at the beginning and end of each school day.”

The report adds: “The show centers on type-A Helen (Kathleen Rose Perkins), who just moved to town with her husband Mark (Ken Marino) and their 8-year-old daughter for Helen’s big new job. Germann will play another dad at the school, a super-driven, competitive Yale-educated lawyer who’s one of these comedically intense guys who pushes his kids way too hard. Kellum will play a ‘manny,’ who, even though he’s young, has seen it all at the school, and he serves as a buddy/confidant to Mark.”

“Ben & Kate” remains to be officially canceled by Fox, the piece notes, but it is effectively dead: The show was pulled from the network schedule, production has been shut down and the main cast members are all fielding offers from other projects.

greg-germann.jpg

Greg Germann

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CBS Works Things Out With Mark Harmon, Confirms Fate of 'NCIS'

CBS confirmed that it has agreed to a contract extension with “NCIS” star Mark Harmon and has renewed the drama series for next season, Deadline.com reports.

Said CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves: ”In a world gone niche, ‘NCIS’ keeps getting bigger, and Mark Harmon continues to define the role of leading man on the #1 show on television. ‘NCIS’ is the type of franchise every company wants in today’s global content ecosystem -- high-quality storytelling that generates passionate viewers and drives revenue on every conceivable platform.”

Harmon signed a new multiyear deal to remain on the series, Deadline notes: “Just like they did with Harmon’s previous deal two years ago, the actor, CBS and ‘NCIS’ producer CBS TV Studios wrapped negotiations early, with this year’s pact signed within a day of the one in 2011, which was announced on February 2 that year.”

Details of the agreement were not released. But Nellie Andreeva writes in the Deadline piece: “I hear it is likely for two years and gives him a healthy raise over the most recent salary of $500,000 an episode, possibly over $700,000 an episode. In addition to starring, Harmon, repped by aradigm and attorney Barry Axelrod, serves as an executive producer/profit participant on ‘NCIS’ and has a production deal with CBS TV Studios for his company Wings Prods.”

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Three Actors Forced Off Drama Series for Legal Reasons

Three actors are being forced to leave a long-running ABC series for legal reasons. TVLine.com reports that actors Michael Easton, Roger Howarth and Kristen Alderson are getting the boot from the daytime drama “General Hospital” -- at least for the time being.

“Daytime TV vet Michael Easton took to his Facebook page on Friday morning to advise fans not to send anything to the ABC soap’s studio for his Feb. 15 birthday, because by then he’ll no longer be hanging his hat there,” the story reports.

Easton wrote: “I’ve been informed that, due to some ongoing legal this and that, I cannot be at ‘General Hospital’ after February 8th.”

The “legal this and that” has to do with the upcoming Hulu/iTunes relaunch of “One Life to Live,” where the actors’ characters originated -- Easton’s John McBain, Howarth’s Todd and Alderson’s Starr.

The report explains: “When the media company Prospect Park announced its new plan to revive both ‘OLTL’ and ‘All My Children,’ it was with the proviso that it owns and thus has first dibs on the sudsers’ characters -- even on those that have since relocated to ‘GH.’

“Though McBain seems fated to return to ‘OLTL‘s’ Llanview, that does not necessarily mean that Easton will be playing him, since the ex-‘OLTL’ actors’ deals are not with Prospect Park but ABC. (Easton’s name was not among the dozen first confirmed for the relaunch, but his leading lady Melissa Archer’s was.)”

The latest word is that the three characters will be recast for the online relaunch.

ABC and “General Hospital,” meanwhile, apparently want to hang on to all three actors, even if it means placing them in different roles.

In a statement, ABC reportedly said: “’General Hospital’ is excited about Michael Easton, Kristen Alderson and Roger Howarth staying on the show, and we are exploring ways to allow that to happen.”

In his Facebook post, Easton said he’s “honestly not sure what the future holds, but I think it’s going to take some time and some very bright people to resolve it.”

michael-easton.jpgMichael Easton

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'Pushing Daisies' Actress Kristin Chenoweth in Dogfight With American Airlines

Actress Kristin Chenoweth, known for her Emmy-winning role on ABC’s “Pushing Daisies” and for her run on NBC’s “The West Wing,” got into a beef this week with American Airlines over her “emotional support dog,” TMZ.com reports.

“Chenoweth says she was the victim of a screaming, angry gate agent who bullied her and embarrassed her when she tried to board an American Airlines flight with her emotional support dog ... and now the airline is begging for her forgiveness,” the story reports.

The incident reportedly took place when Chenoweth was trying to board a flight from Dallas to Los Angeles. TMZ reports: “We're told Kristin had her emotional support dog in tow -- as she always does -- when she was confronted by a gate agent supervisor who claimed Kristin didn't have the proper paperwork to bring the dog on board.

“When Kristin protested, insisting she had done everything correctly, the agent got ‘verbally abusive’ in front of several passengers ... scolding the actress ... and Kristin was so shaken up, she burst into tears.”

Staffers for the airline eventually figured out they had made a mistake, according to the report, and allowed the actress to board the plane along with her dog.

Chenoweth put out a tweet after the flight, writing: "American Airlines: Dallas flight attnt supervisor Ms. Kidwell. Abuse not okay. #tripfromhell."

The airline followed up with an apology, with a rep telling TMZ: "We have been in touch with Ms. Chenoweth to offer our apologies for the misunderstanding. We refunded the [$125] cabin pet charge as soon as we realized the mistake. We hope she will consider flying American again in the future."

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Kristin Chenoweth and her travel companion in happier times

 

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'30 Rock' Swan Song Gets a Ratings Bump, But NBC Remains in the Cellar

The one-hour final episode of “30 Rock” wasn’t enough to lift NBC out of the Thursday night ratings doldrums, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “30 Rock” went out with a preliminary 1.9 average rating in the key 18-49 demo -- up a half-point from a week ago, and the show’s best number in almost a year. But NBC finished prime time overall in a tie with Univision for fourth place among the broadcast networks.

Back-to-back episodes of NBC’s “The Office” delivered a 2.1 and a 1.9 in viewers 18-49, while the premiere of drama series “Do No Harm” at 10 p.m. managed only a 0.9, finishing a distant third in the time slot behind ABC’s “Scandal” and CBS’s “Elementary.”

CBS won the night in a close race with Fox, led by “The Big Bang Theory’s” 5.3 average rating in 18-49 -- topping the first half-hour of Fox’s “American Idol” head-to-head. “Idol” was the second-highest-rated show of the night with a 4.5.

CBS also got a 3.9 average in the 18-49 demo from “Two and a Half Men” and a 3.2 for “Person of Interest,” along with a 2.2 for “Elementary.”

ABC won 10 p.m. with a 2.7 in viewers 18-49 for “Scandal” and was competitive at 9 p.m. with a 2.8 for “Grey’s Anatomy,” which trailed only “Person of Interest.”

Fox’s “Glee” tumbled a half-point from a week ago to a 2.1 in 18-49.

For prime time overall, CBS won the key 18-49 demo with a 3.4 average rating, followed by Fox (3.3), ABC (2.2), Univision (1.6) and NBC (1.6). CBS had a comfortable margin in total viewers, averaging 14.0 million to 9.6 million for Fox, 7.2 million for ABC, 4.1 million for NBC and 4.0 million for Univision.

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'Breaking Bad' Star Signs First-Look Deal With Sony Pictures TV

Three-time Emmy winner Bryan Cranston -- Walter White on AMC's "Breaking Bad" -- has extended his deal with Sony Pictures Television, Deadline.com reports.

The news comes as production is winding down on the final season of the AMC drama, which is produced by SPT. Cranston signed a first-look deal with Sony to develop and produce new series, including possible starring vehicles for Cranston, the piece reports.

“In addition to starring on ‘Breaking Bad,’ a role that has earned him three Emmy Awards, Cranston serves as a producer on the series, whose final eight episodes will air this summer,” the report notes.

The piece adds: “Cranston is coming off a rare double SAG Award victory Sunday, where he won as best actor in a drama series for ‘Breaking Bad’ and as a member of the cast of ‘Argo,’ which took the best performance by a cast in a motion picture award.”

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Teen Heartthrob From 1970s to Appear on 'CSI'

An actor and singer who was a teen heartthrob on television in the 1970s is set for a turn on CBS’s “CSI,” TV Guide reports. Appearing as a poker player will be David Cassidy, who was the teen sensation on ABC's "The Partridge Family" in the 1970s.

His “CSI” character, Mr. Coe, is described in the piece as a man who’s “desperately trying to hold on to his fading youth. He has undergone massive injections of Botox, which has given him the added ability of maintaining a 'poker face' at the gambling tables.”

The episode is tentatively set for Feb. 27.

Cassidy, 62, was seen on “Celebrity Apprentice” in 2011 and has made a number of other guest appearances on TV, including a 2005 episode of “Less Than Perfect” and a 2003 installment of “Malcolm in the Middle,” the report notes.

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David Cassidy

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Steve Capus Out as President, NBC News

"NBC News President Steve Capus announced today that he is leaving the network," writes media columnist Dylan Byers at Politico.com.

The article continues, " 'It has been a privilege to have spent two decades here, but it is now time to head in a new direction,' [Capus] wrote in a memo to staff, obtained by Politico. 'I have informed Pat Fili-Krushel that I will be leaving NBC News in the coming weeks.' "

Capus joined NBC News in 1993 and was named president of the division in 2005. Writes Byers, "Rumors of his departure have been circulating since Fili-Krushel was named Chairman of NBCUniversal News Group last year." Prior to Fili-Krushel's appointment Capus reported directly to Steve Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal.

The Huffington Post story about Capus leaving notes: "Capus presided over a relatively stable time at NBC News. It remained, for most of his tenure, the top-rated news network on television, though in the last year 'Today' has fallen behind its competitors and 'Meet the Press' has seen its ratings squeezed."

To read the complete text of the internal memos sent today by Capus and Fili-Kruschel, please click here.

steve-capus.jpgSteve Capus

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Today's Must Read: When Larry King Took Katie Couric on a Date. At One Point, Larry Lunged. Katie Thought, 'Oh Mother of God.'

Katie Couric says she once went on a date with Larry King, and described it as something "out of a bad Lifetime movie" during an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel,” according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Couric was 30 when she went on the date (she's now 56), and was living in Washington, D.C., as was King, who is 23 years older than her. Couric agreed to go out with anyone who asked because she felt it could be a learning experience, the story says.

"I see that we're going over [Arlington] Memorial Bridge, and this is not the way to my apartment. I said, 'Larry, where are we going?' And he said, 'My place.' Oh mother of God," Couric said, according to the piece.

She continued, "So we sat there, and what can I say? He lunged ... and I started laughing a little bit because the whole situation was out of a bad Lifetime movie. I said, 'Larry, you are such a nice man, but I would like to meet someone a little closer to my age.'"

King actually told his version of the date on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" in 2009, saying, "Nothing happened with Katie and I," the piece adds.

Couric also revealed that Michael Jackson once asked a mutual acquaintance if she'd go out on a date with him. She said she didn't, but that she was "sorry I didn't just have dinner with him because that would have been a fascinating conversation."

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Angry Dustin Hoffman Says HBO Not to Blame for 'Luck' Cancellation -- And Says Who Was Responsible

Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman spoke out about the cancellation of his HBO drama "Luck," saying the series was canceled because of misinformation spread by animal rights organization PETA and the tabloid site TMZ.com, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

HBO canceled the horse racing drama after its first season became swept up in controversy surrounding the deaths of several horses, the story notes. PETA -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals -- accused the producers of failing to take proper care of the animals.

"If you Google 'Paulick Report,' it’s a site for horse racing, and in that report is the real reason why the show was canceled," Hoffman said in an interview with Fox News. "It was a collaboration between PETA and TMZ. It’s interesting, sites like TMZ, they’re mistaken for news."

In the Paulick Report article to which Hoffman refers, Ray Paulick writes, "Despite the finality of what happened, I can’t in good conscience allow the radical animal rights group PETA -- and the journalists who faithfully report whatever the agenda-driven organization tells them -- to have the last word on the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the three horses over the two-year period that 'Luck' was being filmed. Known as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA was anything but ethical in how it spread lies about the equine accidents that plagued 'Luck.' "

Hoffman added, "It still deeply wounds me. Not for myself, not for the show, but the pain they caused 400 crew people to have. And I don’t think they lost a moment’s sleep. It’s completely distorted. Anyone who raises horses knows they break their legs."

TMZ responded to the actor’s accusations, saying, "Truth is, the TMZ stories are in sync with what was reported on the Paulick Report." The TMZ report cites as facts a number of points TMZ published previously, noting that three horses died during production, with the third animal euthanized on the set ... “and production continued a few hours later.”

TMZ also reports: “HBO acknowledged the deaths ... and released a statement saying ‘accidents unfortunately happen.’”

The TMZ report adds: “The ratings for ‘Luck’ weren't that great to begin with ... and there were multiple reports that HBO used the horse deaths as an excuse to cancel the show without having to admit failure.”

TMZ, like HBO, is owned by Time Warner.

PETA said in a statement, "Dustin Hoffman must have a really cold streak running through his heart, as he isn’t hesitant to disrespect whistleblowers and animals to advance his agenda."

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Dustin Hoffman

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NBC to Revisit an Out-of-Fashion Genre in Prime Time -- With a 'Daytime Flop' as Host

NBC has a new prime-time show in the works that brings back a genre that has recently fallen out of fashion -- the home makeover show -- and the face of the show will be “the only Oprah protege to flop in daytime TV,” the New York Post reports.

The new show is tentatively titled “Home Transformers,” and the frontman is best-selling author and designer Nate Berkus.

“Home makeover shows have been out of fashion on prime-time TV -- which has otherwise loved shows about the domestic arts, like cooking and child-raising -- since the cancellation several years ago of ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,’” the piece reports.

"Home Transformers" will be a competition-reality show featuring professional designers, builders, decorators and craftsmen, the story notes.

Berkus launched a syndicated daytime show in 2010 -- backed by Oprah Winfrey -- but struggled to attract viewers until the show was scrapped midway through season two, the report notes.

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Nate Berkus

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How'm I Doin'? One of the Most Colorful Mayors in New York City History Dies

A former New York City mayor who was one of the most colorful in the city's history has died. The New York Times reports that Ed Koch, who led New York for three terms as its mayor and later served as a television judge and radio talk-show host, died Friday morning at 88.

Koch had been treated at New York-Presbyterian Columbia Hospital. He died from congestive heart failure at 2 a.m., the piece reports.

"Ebullient, flitting from broadcast studios to luncheon meetings and speaking engagements, popping up at show openings and news conferences, wherever the microphones were live and the cameras rolling, Mr. Koch, in his life after politics, seemed for all the world like the old campaigner, running flat out," The Times notes.

Recent illness slowed him down, however, forcing him to miss the premiere of a documentary biographical film called "Koch" that opened Friday.

Koch's 12 years as mayor spanned the city's fiscal crisis of the 1970s through the scandals of the 1980s, the piece says, describing it as "an era of almost continuous discord."

“I’m the sort of person who will never get ulcers,” Koch told reporters on his inauguration day in 1978. "Why? Because I say exactly what I think. I’m the sort of person who might give other people ulcers.”

Koch was known for his phrase, "How'm I doin'?" and, according to historians and political experts, received mixed-to-good reviews, the article says.

He served in the House of Representatives from 1969 to 1977 before his stint as New York mayor from 1978 to 1989.

After leaving office, he made regular appearances on WCBS-TV, hosted talk shows on Fox Television and on WNEW-TV and WABC Radio and frequently appeared as a commentator on the New York cable station NY1, the story says. He appeared as a judge on “The People’s Court” from 1997-1999.

"It’s a lot more fun being a critic than being the one criticized," he said about his years out of office, the piece adds.

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Ed Koch

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Ben & Jerry's Reveals Its '30 Rock' Flavor

Ice cream maker Ben & Jerry's revealed its "30 Rock"-based flavor during the NBC comedy’s finale Thursday night: It's a Greek frozen yogurt called "Liz Lemon," reports E! Online.

The flavor is named after Tina Fey's character on the show. "That makes perfect sense. Really, what else could it be?! Yet, at the same time ... we're just the teensiest bit let down, having been hoping for more of a Schweddy Balls-type push of the envelope," the piece notes.

The product will be in stores this month, and proceeds will be donated to an early education program for low-income neighborhoods, the story says.

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Dish's Ad-Skipping Hopper Gets Best of Consumer Electronics Show Award After All, as CES Cuts Ties With CBS-Owned Tech Site CNET

The Consumer Electronics Association has cut its ties with CNET in a rebuke to CNET parent company CBS, The New York Times' Media Decoder reports.

The move is part of the fallout from CBS's decision to block CNET editors from giving an award to Dish's Hopper, the piece reports.

The group also retroactively gave the Best of CES Award to the Hopper, which is at the center of court battle between CBS and Dish, as we reported recently. CEA, which puts on the Consumer Electronics Show, also said that CNET will no longer host the Best of CES Awards.

"The CNET editorial team identified the Hopper Sling as the most innovative product of the show, and we couldn’t agree more,” Karen Chupka, a senior vice president at the association, said in a statement.

"The Hopper will share the Best of Show award with the product that CNET begrudgingly picked as a backup, the Razer Edge gaming tablet," The Times notes.

The association is searching for a new partner for the Best of CES Awards, the piece adds.

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FX's 'The Americans' Debuts With Strong Ratings

FX's new drama series "The Americans" debuted Wednesday with stronger numbers than the cable network's hit “American Horror Story,” TVLine.com reports: 3.22 million total viewers. The premiere also attracted 1.57 million adults 18-49.

Adding in two encore telecasts that same night, the show drew 4.7 million total viewers and 2.54 million adults in the 18-49 demo.

"We’re very happy with premiere ratings for ‘The Americans’ and, just as importantly, we’re proud of the widespread critical acclaim the show has received,” said FX President John Landgraf.

 

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Geraldo Rivera Considering Senate Run

Television personality Geraldo Rivera is considering running for a Senate seat in New Jersey, reports TheHill.com.

"I mentioned this only briefly to my wife ... but I am and I’ve been in touch with some people in the Republican Party in New Jersey. I am truly contemplating running for Senate against Frank Lautenberg or Cory Booker," Rivera said on his radio show, the piece notes.

He added, “I’m not going to drill this out, because obviously I’ve got commitments to Fox and to here at the radio program and I’m really having a great time."

No official Republican contenders have emerged yet, the report notes. "Rivera could face a tough primary challenge, however, with reports suggesting that Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick of Westfield, state Sen. Joe Kyrillos of Monmouth County and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno are all weighing bids for the GOP ticket," the story adds.

It's been four decades since New Jersey elected a Republican senator, the piece notes.

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'Witches of East End' Picked Up to Series

"Witches of East End" has been picked up to series with a 10-episode order, reports Deadline.com. It’s the first drama series order to surface from Lifetime’s recent pilot orders.

The series stars Julia Ormond, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Rachel Boston and Madchen Amick as a family who don't realize they are the next generation of witches.

The project is one of four hourlong pilots that Lifetime ordered last year. “Of the other three, two have been completed, the Renee Zellweger-produced ‘Cinnamon Girl,’ whose fate is still up in the air, and ‘The Secret Lives of Wives,’ which Lifetime passed on earlier this month,” the story reports. “The fourth, ‘HR,’ is still casting.”

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'Girls' Creator Working on New HBO Comedy

"Girls" creator Lena Dunham is working on a new comedy show for HBO, which she is creating with Jenni Konner, an executive producer on “Girls,” reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

The new project is a pilot about a personal shopper in New York, the story says. It's based on a memoir by Betty Halbreich called "All Dressed Up and Everywhere to Go," which was about her work as a shopper for Bergdorf Goodman, a high-end department store that caters to New York's elite.

HBO had earlier purchased the rights to the book.

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Amazon Taps John Goodman for Comedy Pilot

Amazon has cast "Roseanne" star John Goodman in one of its first six original comedy pilots, reports Deadline.com. The project, "Alpha House," is written by Oscar nominee and Pulitzer Prize winner Garry Trudeau.

The show is about four senators who live in a rented Washington, D.C., house, the story says. Goodman will play North Carolina Sen. Gil John Biggs, a former successful basketball coach, the story says.

Amazon has been casting well-known television actors and young, rising talent for its pilots. It recently cast Bebe Neuwirth of "Cheers" in the project "Browsers,” as previously reported.

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ABC Orders Drama Pilot From 'Detroit 187' Producers, With Spielberg on Board

ABC has ordered a pilot from David Zabel and Jason Richman, executive producers of "Detroit 187," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The project is called "Lucky 7" and is about seven employees of a gas station who win the lottery. It's a U.S. adaption of a British series called "The Syndicate."

Richman and Zabel will write the project, as well as executive produce along with Amblin's Darryl Frank, Justin Falvey and Steven Spielberg.

The project comes from ABC Studios and Amblin TV.

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