April 2013

TNT Drama Gets a Third Season

TNT has renewed a drama series for a third season. EW.com’s Inside TV reports that the cable network will bring back its successful “Dallas” reboot.

The series’ 15-episode third season is set to launch early in 2014.

Said Michael Wright, president, head of programming for TNT: “’Dallas’ has built a passionately loyal following with its expertly woven storylines, clever twists and turns, and numerous outstanding performances by a cast that spans generations. Although we said goodbye to Larry Hagman and his iconic character J.R. Ewing this year, Dallas has many more stories left to tell, and the Ewing clan will continue to honor J.R.’s memory by keeping its audience surprised and delighted.”

The piece notes that some observers speculated whether the series would continue past season two after the death of Hagman in late 2012. But the show has done well, averaging 3.8 million total viewers per episode including seven days of DVR playback, with an average of 1.4 million in the 18-49 demo.

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Country Superstar Hit With Copyright Lawsuit

One of the biggest stars in country music has been hit with a lawsuit. Contactmusic.com reports that a copyright suit was filed by Curb Records against singer Tim McGraw.

The hassle appears to be a follow-up to a dispute between McGraw and Curb in 2011 over allegations by Curb that McGraw reneged on his deal with the company by failing to record a fifth project for Curb.

“McGraw subsequently signed with Big MAChine and won a court battle to release music through his new label last September, but now Curb executives have filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the singer, claiming his current album, ‘Two Lanes of Freedom,’ which hit U.S. stores in February, was recorded before their contract was dissolved,” the story reports.

The piece adds: “According to papers filed at the U.S. District Court in Tennessee on Monday (April 29, 2013), Curb bosses allege they own the rights to the album's songs and are entitled to damages for lost profit and diminution in the value of their property, reports The Tennessean.”

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CNN Posts Big Gains in Cable News Ratings

CNN has improved dramatically on its viewer numbers from a year ago, based on preliminary results for April. Deadline.com reports that Fox News Channel still won the battle with CNN and MSNBC, but CNN posted a 79% gain in total viewers from April 2012 for total day, and an 81% gain in prime time.

“A year ago, CNN was in third place with its lowest-rated month in total day in more than a decade and its worst prime time in almost two years,” the report notes. “This month, fueled by extended coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings and the Texas fertilizer warehouse explosion, CNN saw double-digit viewership growth and triple-digit upward turns in the key adults 25-54 demographic.”

CNN, now under the stewardship of Jeff Zucker, moved into second place, ahead of MSNBC, in both total viewers and the key news demo for the first time in a year, the report notes. The results were CNN’s best since the November 2012 elections.

“CNN’s sister network HLN actually slipped ahead of MSNBC in the demo too for total day with 142,000 viewers,” the story reports.

Here are the numbers for Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC:

Total day: April 2013 vs. April 2012

FNC: 1,233M total viewers -- up 14% (278,000 in 25-54 -- up 2%)
CNN: 638,000 total viewers -- up 79% (228,000 in 25-54 -- up 111%)
MSNBC: 406,000 total viewers -- down 4% (139,000 in 25-54 -- up 1%)

Prime time: April 2013 vs. April 2012

FNC: 2.016M total viewers -- up 9% (389,000 in 25-54 -- down 2%)
CNN: 918,000 total viewers -- up 81% (338,000 in 25-54 -- up 127%)
MSNBC: 682,000 total viewers -- down 10% (234,000 in 25-54 -- down 1%)

Fox News was No. 2 among all cable networks for the month, with CNN coming in at No. 17 and MSNBC at No. 27, the piece notes.

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NBC Racks Up Another Monday Ratings Win, Even as 'The Voice' Dips; ABC Rival Slips

NBC continues to perform well in the Monday night ratings, racking up another prime-time win in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the network’s two-hour “The Voice” was the top show of the night despite a dropoff from last week. The show averaged a 4.1 in viewers 18-49, down 16% from a week ago. NBC’s “Revolution” equaled its series low, matching last week’s 2.0 average.

Airing against “The Voice,” ABC’s two-hour “Dancing with the Stars” lost 5% from a week ago to hit a series low for a performance show with a 2.0 in the 18-49 demo. “Castle” also turned in a 2.0, which was down 13%.

The season finale of “Bones” on Fox served up a 2.1 average in 18-49, ticking up one-tenth of a point from last week and improving 11% on last year’s season finale. “The Following’s” season finale delivered a 2.6, rising 8% from a week ago.

CBS’s comedy lineup was mostly higher, with “Rules of Engagement” rising 25% from last week to a 2.0 in adults 18-49, “2 Broke Girls” improving 4% from its previous original to a 2.5 and “Mike & Molly” climbing 5% to a 2.3. “How I Met Your Mother” matched its previous original, equaling its season low with a 2.7. “Hawaii Five-0” slipped 8% to notch its all-time low, a 1.7 average rating.

For prime time overall, NBC coasted to an easy win in viewers 18-49 with a 3.4 average rating, leading Fox (2.3 average), CBS (2.1) and ABC (2.0). ABC was No. 1 in total viewers with 12.4 million, ahead of NBC (10.2 million), Fox (7.4 million) and CBS (7.3 million).

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Seinfeld, Spacey Among Winners of Webby Awards

Jerry Seinfeld and Kevin Spacey are among the entertainers who will receive Webby Awards this year, in honor of Internet achievement. Winners of the 17th annual Webbys were announced today.

“The Webby Awards are honoring ‘House of Cards’ producers Kevin Spacey and Dana Brunetti with a Webby special achievement award,” the AP reports. “The political thriller, for which Netflix released all 13 episodes at once, proved that digital media can produce cable-quality drama. Netflix also won for best streaming media site.”

Other winners include Justin Bieber, being honored for the social media campaign for the launch of his fragrance, and The Onion, which now has a record number of Webbys, 19.

“The Webby person of the year is Frank Ocean, the R&B singer, whom the Webbys hailed ‘for proving the power of the Web as a medium for cultural change when he announced his bisexuality to his Tumblr community,’" the report notes. “Singled out for outstanding comedic performance is Jerry Seinfeld, whose 10-episode Web series ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee’ showcased the ‘Seinfeld’ star hanging out with comedian friends.”

Click here to see all the winners and read the press release from the Webby Awards.

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Video: Courtesy of 'Conan,' Here's Willie Nelson Trying Out for the 'Hobbit' Sequel

The country music legend supposedly has his sights set on replacing Ian McKellen as Gandalf in “The Hobbit 2.” Here’s the clip:

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'Friends' Reruns Raise Alarms About a Health Issue

A new study turned up a health concern in the reruns of the long-running NBC comedy hit “Friends.” Scientific American reports that a researcher from Marquette University is sounding alarms about the amount of caffeine the characters ingest on the show.

"No TV show exemplified our love of coffee more than ‘Friends.’ An appreciable percentage of the show took place in a coffee shop, and it introduced us to the monstrous 20 oz. mug," writes Kyle Hill, the researcher.

Assuming each character drank two 20-ounce coffees in each episode, Hill writes, "The whole gang downed, in total, 445 gallons of coffee. You could brew that amount of coffee in five large water heaters. These six friends could start a small coffee importing company."

He continues: "If you distributed all the caffeine the friends ingested over the decade at Central Perk, it would be enough of the drug to send almost 300 people to the hospital -- if not outright kill them.

"Of course, each episode of Friends represents a small portion of the characters’ days (sometimes longer). So what if we are only joining the gang once a week? If each episode represented a week of time, on average, then these java junkies downed nearly 3,100 gallons of coffee -- enough to fill over half a freight container. This amount of joe could send over 1,900 people to the hospital," he notes.

The conclusion? Don't drink as much coffee as the characters on "Friends."



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With Audience Fragmentation, Broadcast Networks Are in a Bad Place at the Wrong Time -- Right Before Upfronts

The broadcast networks are in a tough spot just before the annual upfront ad-selling season begins, reports the New York Post, with much of the problem summed up as audience fragmentation.

“The rapid rise of time-shifted viewing -- driven by DVRs, video-on-demand options and mobile devices -- decimated TV ratings in the first quarter and threatens to drag down the annual ad-sales season that swings into high gear in just a couple of weeks,” the article reports.

It adds: “Total prime-time commercial ratings fell 8% across the board, marking the sixth straight quarter of total TV declines -- and the steepest drop since the third quarter of 2009, according to Nomura analyst Michael Nathanson.”

Without the Super Bowl last year, NBC's was down 40%, while Fox declined 19%. ABC slipped 6.2% and CBS was helped by Super Sunday, giving it an 8% gain, the story notes.

"The first-quarter broadcast ratings, under any metric, were ugly,” Nathanson wrote in a a report.

Cable networks were also down, with an across-the-board decline of 3% in prime time among adults 18-49, the story says.

With audience fragmentation, Nielsen has struggled to catch up to the ways people are now watching TV, such as Xbox, Netflix and DVRs, the story says.

“The steep drop couldn’t come at a worse time for the TV business, as it heads into its annual ‘upfront’ negotiations with billions of ad dollars at stake,” the Post reports. “Nathanson predicts a shift of ad dollars to cable, given broadcast’s especially weak hand. Cable booked $9.8 billion in upfront ad dollars last year, a 5% gain. Broadcast took in around $9.3 billion.”

Nathanson adds: “The world has become more complicated, and behavior is changing. The DVR is in 47% of households.”

The Post article notes: “Right now the networks are paid by advertisers based on how many viewers watch the commercials in their shows over the first three days after a show is aired, known as ‘C3.’ But there has been a push to extend that to C7, or 7 days, allowing the networks to capture more delayed viewing.”

Netflix is cited as one indication of fragmentation.

“Just weeks ago, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings boasted that his service streamed 4 billion hours of content in the first quarter,” the Post notes. “That figure puts Netflix on par with a large cable network, according to BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield.”

Said Gary Carr, head of broadcast buying at TargetCast: “There is no question audiences are fragmented, but people are spending just as much time with TV.”

The Post adds: “In September, Nielsen will change the definition of a TV household to include homes that watch streaming video via a gaming console, for instance. Currently it counts only those watching on a TV set. The definition, however, won’t extend to mobile viewing on tablets.”

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ABC Adds a Third Celebrity Competition Series

ABC is adding to its roster of celebrity competition shows with a series order for a third entry in the genre. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the network has ordered "Sing Your Face Off," which will focus on five celebrities who each train to perform as a particular musical icon.

“The series, based on Endemol Spain's ‘Your Face Sounds Familiar,’ will feature celebrities -- who have yet to be cast -- taking on iconic musicians as they undergo hours of makeup, choreography and vocal coaching,” the piece reports. “Each episode will feature the complete physical transformation -- including the icon's walk, talk, mannerisms and more -- as the celebrities compete in front of judges and a studio audience.”

ABC also airs the celebrity competition shows "Dancing with the Stars" and "Splash." The network placed an order for six episodes of “Sing Your Face Off.”

“In addition to being tasked with a physical transformation, participating talent also will have to actually perform music from their assigned icon each week,” THR reports. “Participating celebs will transform to play -- and sing -- multiple musical performers during the series. Details on prizes still are being worked out.”


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Veteran TV Director Dead at 84

A veteran television comedy director who worked with Bob Hope on many of his holiday specials and on series such as "The Jeffersons" has died. The Hollywood Reporter says Jack Shea, 84, died of complications from Alzheimer's.

The director worked on his first Christmas special with Bob Hope in 1962, earning him his first Emmy Award nomination. He also worked with the comic on his performances in front of U.S. troops around the world, the story adds.

He directed 110 episodes of "The Jeffersons," and also wrote three episodes and produced 24. Other TV shows he worked on include "Silver Spoons," "The Ropers," "Sanford and Son" and "Designing Women," an episode of which earned him his second Emmy nomination in 1987.

Shea began his TV career as a stage manager at NBC in Burbank, working on programs including "Philco Playhouse."

His last credit came on the sitcom "Goode Behavior," starring Sherman Hemsley, in 1997, the piece adds.

Shea served as DGA president for three terms, from 1997-2002, and in 1992 received the Robert Aldridge Award, which honors extraordinary service to the DGA and its membership, according to THR.

jack-shea.jpgJack Shea

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Video: ESPN Analyst Sparks Controversy With Comments on NBA Player's Coming Out

An ESPN analyst stirred controversy during a segment about NBA player Jason Collins' coming out, in which the analyst said he doesn't agree with homosexuality and called it a sin, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Analyst Chris Broussard, a senior writer for ESPN the Magazine, said on the air that "true tolerance and acceptance is being able to … not criticize each other and call each other names" and then gave his damning views on a number of what he called "lifestyles."

"If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says, ‘You know them by their fruits,’ it says that that’s a sin,” Broussard said. “And if you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality -- adultery, fornication, pre-marital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be -- I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and Jesus Christ, so I would not characterize that person as a Christian.”

Broussard also said Collins is “walking in open rebellion to God and Jesus Christ.” His comments were made Monday during a special one-hour episode of ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” focusing on Collins’ essay in Sports Illustrated in which he announced he is gay. Collins became the first openly gay male in a major professional team sport in the U.S.

Collins wrote in the piece: “I take the teachings of Jesus seriously, particularly the ones that touch on tolerance and understanding.”

EW notes: “Broussard had previously written about his belief that homosexuality is a sin in a 2009 blog post. In that post, he stated that the NBA is ‘ready for an openly gay player,’ though he also admitted that if he had to share a locker room and shower with gay teammates, he would be ‘a little uncomfortable at first.’”

After Broussard’s latest comments sparked some unfavorable responses, ESPN issued a statement in which it said it is "fully committed to diversity and welcomes Jason Collins' announcement." It added, "We regret that a respectful discussion of personal viewpoints became a distraction from today’s news."

Here’s a clip of Broussard’s comments:

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Cable Drama Loses Executive Producer

A cable drama series is losing its executive producer. Deadline.com reports that executive producer Michael Taylor won't return for the second season of the high-profile Syfy show "Defiance."

Taylor, who worked on "Star Trek: Voyager" and "Deep Space Nine," was one of three writing executive producers on the first season of "Defiance," which has been completed, the story says. The ratings have been "OK," and a second season is likely to happen, the piece adds.

It doesn't specify why Taylor is leaving the show.


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Alex Trebek Hopes He Will Be Hard to Replace as 'Jeopardy!' Host

"Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek talked about rumors that he plans to retire from the long-running syndicated quiz show, indicating they may be premature, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

"Everybody's speculating on my retirement and I don't know why," Trebek told the publication. "It's silly. Somebody asked me if I've given any thoughts to retiring. Well, yes, I've given thoughts to retiring, for crying out loud. I've been doing the show for 29 years. Why wouldn't I think about retiring? Everybody assumes from my having said that, that he's retiring. Well, no. I've been thinking about it. So allow me to think about it."

Reports surfaced recently that Trebek would step down at the end of the 2015-16 season, with rumors that potential replacements could be CNN's Anderson Cooper or "Today" co-host Matt Lauer, as previously reported.

When Trebek does decide to retire, he said that it will probably be a quick goodbye.

"There won't be any fanfare," he said. "It'll be like the time I shaved my mustache on a whim. I'll just ask the director to leave me 20 or 30 seconds at the end of the program to say a few words and I'll say a few words and thank people and be on my way."

Asked who should replace him, Trebek said it could be "anybody." He added, "Could be a woman. I don't concern myself with that because that is not a decision I will be involved in."

He noted, "I hope I'll be hard to replace. That would be a good thing for my legacy. But anybody can be replaced."

alex-trebek.jpgAlex Trebek

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Starz May Order 'Outlander' Straight to Series

An adaptation of the best-selling novel "Outlander" is moving forward at Starz, with "Battlestar Galactica" developer Ron Moore, who is leading the drama series project, opening a writers room, reports Deadline.com.

The move may signal that Starz is considering a straight-to-series order for the project, which is the path that the network has taken with many of its original series, the story notes.

The production has hired two writers who worked with Moore on previous projects. They are Toni Graphia from "Battlestar" and Matt Roberts of "Caprica." The project has also hired Ira Behr, a showrunner who has worked on "Alphas," and Anne Kenney of "L.A. Law," the story says.

"Outlander" tracks the adventures of a World War II combat nurse who travels through time to 1743, where she is forced to marry a romantic Scottish warrior named Jamie. The book combines romance, fantasy and adventure.


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Comedian Sarah Silverman to Follow in Footsteps of Wanda Sykes, Louis C.K.

Comedian Sarah Silverman is planning a TV project that has her following in the footsteps of fellow comedians Wanda Sykes and Louis C.K. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that Silverman will record her first HBO comedy special.

"Given HBO's long history of comedy specials, it's a little surprising that this will be Silverman's first,” the story reports. “But it's true: Though Silverman pops up on productions such as 'Talking Dead' and 'Wreck-It Ralph,’ her last full-length comedy performance was the 2005 theatrical release 'Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic.'"

Silverman has appeared on other HBO comedy shows, too. She appeared on the network's sketch comedy series "Mr. Show," did three episodes of "The Larry Sanders Show" and has been on "Real Time with Bill Maher."

Thumbnail image for sarah-silverman.jpgSarah Silverman

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CNN Pushes Back Debut of New Show

CNN has delayed the debut of a new show until later this year. TVNewser reports that the cable news channel pushed back the premiere of “Inside Man,” from filmmaker Morgan Spurlock.

The network may be tweaking the show’s format, the piece notes.

The show was announced in August and was the network's second original series acquisition. It was slated to debut this month, paired with Anthony Bourdain's travel show "Parts Unknown." Now, CNN may replace "Parts Unknown" with "Inside Man" once the current season of Bourdain's show ends in a few months.

"Inside Man" will provide an inside look at corners of American life, such as migrant farm workers and end-of-life caregivers, the story says.


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Lindsay Lohan Setting Up a Deal to Blog About Rehab

Actress Lindsay Lohan may have her next gig lined up: blogging about the lessons she learned in rehab, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

The actress is talking with the website Celebuzz about writing a blog after she completes 90 days of court-ordered rehab. She would contribute content starting in August.

Her rehab stint is set to start Thursday at the Seafield Center in Westhampton Beach, the piece notes.

“Her next step would be to launch her own site with her musings on art, fashion, music and movies,” the story reports. “Lohan was expected to meet with Celebuzz editors to hash out ideas, but their consultant A.J. Daulerio tells us, ‘I’m still waiting for the official grooming session.’”

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for lindsay-lohan.jpg

Lindsay Lohan

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Oscar Nominee Signs On for 'American Horror Story'

An Oscar-nominated actress has been cast in the third season of FX's "American Horror Story." EW.com's Inside TV reports that "Precious" star Gabourey Sidibe is joining the show.

She will join Kathy Bates as a newcomer, along with returning stars Jessica Lange, Frances Conroy and Sarah Paulson. The third season, called "Coven," is thought to revolve around witchcraft, the story says.

Sidibe received an Oscar nomination for her lead role as Claireece “Precious” Jones in the 2009 film “Precious.”

gabourey-sidibe.jpgGabourey Sidibe

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Two ABC Series Sink to Historic Lows on a Rough Sunday for Broadcast Nets

On a night when hardly anything on the broadcast networks generated much interest among viewers, two ABC drama series sank to their lowest numbers yet in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “Once Upon a Time” fell to a 2.0 in 18-49, losing 5% from a week ago, and “Red Widow” continued to struggle, losing 30% from its Easter episode and 42% from its March 24 number to sink to a 0.7.

Two networks tied for No. 1 for prime time, but neither Fox nor CBS, which tied with 1.7 averages in viewers 18-49, had particularly strong ratings.

Fox was paced by “Family Guy,” whose 2.5 average in the 18-49 demo, which equaled its performance April 14, made it the top show of the night. Close behind was CBS’s “The Amazing Race” with a 2.3 average, down 4% from last week.

Elsewhere on Fox, “The Cleveland Show” surged 33% from last week to a 1.2 in adults 18-49, “The Simpsons” rose 11% to a 2.0, “Bob’s Burgers” held steady with a 1.7 and “American Dad” ticked up 6% to a 1.9.

CBS got a 1.5 out of “60 Minutes” in viewers 18-49, losing 21% from a week earlier, with the season finale of “The Good Wife” rising 7% to a 1.6 while “The Mentalist” slipped 6% to a 1.5.

ABC’s “Revenge” delivered a 1.7 average in 18-49, losing 13% from its Easter installment and down 6% from its most recent non-holiday episode. “America’s Funniest Home Videos” rebounded from last week’s season low, climbing 15% to a 1.5.

NBC killed off two hours of prime time with a repeat of “The Voice” (1.1 average in 18-49), before breaking out a fresh episode of “Celebrity Apprentice,” which dipped 6% from last week to a 1.5.

Prime time overall looked like this: Fox and CBS tied with 1.7 averages in viewers 18-49, followed by ABC (1.5 average) and NBC (1.2). CBS led total viewers with 9.6 million, followed by ABC (5.7 million), NBC (4.1 million) and Fox (3.6 million).

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Aereo's Barry Diller Lashes Out at Rupert Murdoch

IAC Chairman Barry Diller, speaking at the Milken Global Conference in Beverly HIlls, blasted Aereo critic Rupert Murdoch and talked about what he has in mind for Aereo, Bloomberg reports.

Responding to Murdoch’s complaints about Diller’s Aereo service, Diller said: "I think what they are doing is making a lot of noise in the hopes they will get relief from Congress."

The executive also admitted he screwed up by buying Newsweek “I do not have great expectations,” he said. “I wish I had not brought Newsweek. It was a mistake."

Commenting on what the future holds for Aereo -- and for television -- Diller said: "The big picture is to change the centricity of what has been closed systems to an open Internet system. The platform allows you to get free over the air broadcasts. If you don't like cable, paying $150 a month or so for services, if you don't happen to not live without ESPN, if those are true for you as a consumer, being able to watch all free broadcast, all the events, all of the local television for $8 a month is an alternative."

Diller also talked about whether Aereo plans to create its own channels. "We are not in this that long, a radical revolution,” he said. “We're only beginning it in video. It started a few years ago. The bandwidth was not enough until a few years ago. The centricities will shift to the Internet. What would you rather have, a satellite connection with a cable box and another box or would you rather have 1 wire that connects you to high-speed bandwidth and able to get the enormous optionality of the internet?"

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Actor Who Made Transition From Big-League Baseball Dead at 54

An actor who transitioned from a pro sports career into a run in movies and TV shows has died. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Brad “The Animal” Lesley died Saturday night of kidney failure at 54.

Lesley is best known as an actor for playing John “Blackout” Gatling in the 1994 baseball movie “Little Big League.” A right-handed pitcher, he played for the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers in the 1980s.

He had a high-profile role on Japanese television in the game show “Takeshi’s Castle,” appearing as Ajimaru “Animal” Resry. The series later moved to the U.S. on Spike TV, renamed “Most Extreme Elimination Challenge,” and then “MXC.”

Other film appearances for Lesley included “Mr. Baseball” (1992), “A Boy Called Hate” (1996) and “Space Jam” (1996).

His ex-wife Chiho Svimonoff told TMZ that Lesley had been living in a nursing home for seven months while undergoing dialysis for kidney problems. He was taken to a hospital in Marina del Rey, Calif., Saturday night.

THR notes: “6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, he gained his nickname for his theatrics that included thrusting his fist in the air following a strikeout and stomping around the mound.”

Lesley spent the end of his playing career in Japan, where he was embraced by the Japanese fans -- known for being more reserved than U.S. sports fans. He talked about his reception there in a 1987 interview, saying: “After they found out it was part of my intensity, an act of intimidation, they loved it. I haven’t toned down any part of my act.”

brad-lesley-cincinnati-reds.jpgBrad Lesley

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Spike TV Maps Return to Scripted Programs With Push Into Special-Event Series -- Slate Includes Benghazi Project and a Movie About the Mafia Takeover of the Music Business

About a year after the wrap of its comedy series “Blue Mountain State,” Spike TV is ready to dive back into scripted programming, Deadline.com reports.

“The cable network’s scripted development slate includes five event series, including a behind-the-scenes account of the 2012 terrorist attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, whose aftermath still echoes in Washington,” the piece reports. “The projects hail from such auspices as Tom Fontana, Chris Collins, Leslie Greif, Rock God & Gene Simmons, Bobby Moresco, Jonathan Koch and Steve Michaels, Craig Piligian and Dimitri Doganis & Bart Layton.”

Said Spike TV Executive VP of Original Series Sharon Levy: “We’re concentrated on launching one or more special event series that we see as a great way to get to hour dramatic series. Each project features Spike’s mission to thrill, inspire, and entertain as we’re broadening and expanding our brand.”

Some of the five projects could live on beyond their original run, Levy noted.

“For instance, ‘Hit Men,’ a drama from Greif and Simmons about the mob’s takeover of the 1970s music industry, could continue as a series, while ‘iHuman,’ about the intersection of technology and humanity and how their relationship evolves, could become an umbrella of films tackling the subject,” Deadline notes.

In addition to “Hit Men” and “iHuman,” the projects are “The Lamp,” about Aladdin’s Lamp; a Whitey Bulger project written by Oscar winner Bobby Moresco; and an untitled Benghazi project.

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'Teen Mom' Star Signs Sex Tape Deal for Nearly $1 Million

Putting to rest speculation about whether her much-talked-about encounter with porn star James Deen was done for a personal keepsake or a professional porn tape, Farrah Abraham of MTV’s “Teen Mom” closed a deal for almost $1 million for the tape, The Huffington Post reports.

The takeaway: It was a professional porn tape.

The tape was mocked in the media, with some reports calling it "the first official fake sex tape," as we reported earlier this month.

“So much for Farrah Abraham's claims that she made a professionally produced porn video as a personal keepsake -- not that we were buying that for a second, in the first place,” the story reports. “Last week, we saw the 21-year-old playing in a bikini with her 4-year-old daughter, Sophia, after returning from a meeting with Vivid Entertainment CEO Steve Hirsch -- and it appears the meeting was a success.”

Abraham struck an agreement to have Vivid sell the tape featuring her and Deen for almost $1 million, the piece notes, citing a report by TMZ.

“Vivid seems to be betting that there are plenty of people out there willing to shell out their hard-earned money to watch the former reality star get it on for 70 minutes in the film, which will have the ultra-classy title ‘Farrah Superstar: Backdoor Teen Mom,’” Huff Post adds. “While the large six-figure payday is impressive for a reality star's porn video, it's less than Abraham initially hoped to sell it for, as she told Us Weekly that she wouldn't let it go for less than a ‘couple million.’"

Abraham wrapped up her run on the MTV series in September, and reportedly misses the spotlight.

“Sources told Us Weekly that the former ‘Teen Mom’ cast member is ‘desperate’ to revive her career since her stint on the MTV show ended,” Huff Post notes.

Thumbnail image for farrah-abraham.jpgFarrah Abraham

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CBS Renews 'Two and a Half Men,' But One of Its Stars Won't be Back as a Regular

"Two and a Half Men" received a renewal from CBS for the 2013-14 season, but the network is apparently de-emphasizing the "half" part of the show’s title, reports Deadline.com.

While stars Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher have signed new one-year deals to return, Angus T. Jones won't be back on the show as a regular, the story says.

Cryer and Kutcher renewed their deals at salaries near to what they earned last season. That's about $700,000 per episode for Kutcher and slightly less for Cryer, making them TV's highest-paid actors, the story says.

Jones might return for guest-starring appearances, the story adds. His departure isn't surprising, given that the actor wanted to go to college. With his character in the Army, he has only appeared occasionally on the show this season, the piece adds.

According to Us Weekly, Jones wants to focus on his music, and the network is trying to keep him.

Nevertheless, his departure also comes after Jones made some ill-advised comments last year, in which he called his show "filth," as previously reported. He later apologized for the comments.

angus-t-jones.jpgAngus T. Jones

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One TV Series Is Racking Up Arrests Among Its Cast Members

One TV series is making its mark in an unusual way, getting attention for having its cast members get arrested. TMZ.com reports that the new TLC reality show "Welcome to Myrtle Manor," about Southerners living in a trailer park, had a big weekend on that front.

Two of the show's cast members were arrested over the weekend, while another cast member was previously arrested.

Cast member Taylor Jonathan Burt, 28, was arrested after an under-16-year-old teenage girl alleged they had engaged in sexual relations, the story reports. Lindsay Brooke Colbert, 21, was arrested Sunday on suspicion of DUI, the piece adds.

Previously, cast member Amanda Lee Adams was arrested on suspicion of DUI after she allegedly crashed into an electric pole, the story notes.


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NBC Plans Retrospective for Canceled Series

NBC announced plans to broadcast a retrospective for a long-running series that is about to end its run. EW.com’s Inside TV reports that the retrospective for the comedy series "The Office" will air May 16, leading into the show’s one-hour series finale.

The show is wrapping up its nine-season run on NBC.

NBC News is producing the special, which will include interviews with executive producers Greg Daniels, Paul Lieberstein, and Ben Silverman. The show's cast members will also appear -- except for Steve Carell, who wasn't available, the piece adds.

The retrospective will include footage of auditions and will include a behind-the-scenes tour of the finale.


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Former 'Today' Co-Host Defends Matt Lauer

A former colleague of Matt Lauer on NBC’s morning staple “Today” has come out in defense of the beleaguered Lauer. The New York Post's Page Six reports that Meredith Vieira defended her former co-host, who has been under fire since the ouster of co-host Ann Curry.

“Even if [NBC] blew it from a PR point of view, you’ve got to move on. I think what is happening to Matt is really wrong," Vieira told the publication.

She added that she is "not interested" in reading "Top of the Morning," a book by New York Times reporter Brian Stelter that looks at the morning TV wars. Naturally, Vieira is mentioned in the book.

"I’m over it ... I’ve kind of been-there-done-that, and I don’t know what the interest is,” Vieira said. “I don’t want to get on a high horse, because I understand why people write it. I’m not trying to say he’s wrong to do it, but I look at it and it’s so personal to me. It’s my friends.”

meredith-vieira.jpgMeredith Vieira

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ABC Comedy in Trouble After Ratings Drop

An ABC comedy series suffered a setback in its latest outing when its "ratings dropped through the floor Friday night," reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Two consecutive episodes of “Happy Endings” averaged only 2 million viewers and drew a 0.6 rating in the 18-49 demographic, representing a 25% plunge from the show's previous original airing, the story says.

"The performance tied Fox’s 'Touch,' which is not expected to return next season, as the night’s lowest-rated show on a major broadcast network," the story adds.

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Why NBC's 'Community' May Survive Despite Anemic Ratings

NBC's "Community" might be saved from cancellation despite ratings that aren't exactly stellar, reports The New York Times' ArtsBeat.

That’s because "Community" compares well in the ratings with almost any other comedy NBC could renew for next season, the story points out. Its Thursday episode drew only 2.4 million viewers and matched a series low in the 18-49 demographic, but it still had higher demo numbers than "The New Normal" and "1600 Penn," the story notes.

The show "has amassed a loyal audience and the number of episodes required for syndication, and at least the ratings have not been trending downward. 'Parks and Recreation' is the only other NBC comedy that can make that claim," the story reports.

"Go On" plummeted near the end of the season, ending with 2.7 million viewers, while "Whitney" also dropped, finishing with 2.9 million viewers.

"Add it all up, and 'Community' has a fighting chance," The Times says.

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USA Network Shifts Underperforming Show to Fridays

USA Network has shifted an underperforming show to Fridays. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel moved the freshman reality show “The Moment” after its third airing drew 950,000 total viewers and about 250,000 adults 18-49 Thursday night.

The show is the network's first unscripted series in a long time, according to the piece. Because of the soft ratings, "'The Moment' is being moved to Fridays, while USA brass stress that they remain committed to the unscripted genre," the story adds.

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J.J. Abrams Options Stephen King Novel for TV Series

A bestselling Stephen King novel has been optioned by J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot, with a plan to adapt the book as a miniseries or TV show, reports Deadline.com. The novel is "11/22/63."

The project will most likely be developed for cable, the story says. The book is about a divorced English teacher named Jake who enters a time portal, leading him to Sept. 9, 1958. From there, he begins a quest to prevent the assassination of President John. F. Kennedy, which occurred on the date of the book's title.

Bad Robot has been seeking to expand its projects to cable, the story says. Its other shows include "Revolution," which was renewed last week by NBC, and the CBS drama "Person of Interest," which has also been renewed.

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Is the Public Losing Interest in Foxy Knoxy? One Network Has a Stake in It

The public’s interest in Amanda Knox --- aka Foxy Knoxy -- may be waning, and one of the major broadcast networks could suffer as a result. According to The Hollywood Reporter, presales for the April 30 publication of "Waiting to Be Heard," a memoir by Knox, have been tepid.

Meanwhile, ABC is poised to present what was intended to be a splashy, high-profile interview with Knox.

Knox is an American student who was accused of murdering her roommate in Italy. Waning interest in her book raises questions about how Diane Sawyer's heavily promoted interview with Knox will fare in the ratings, the story adds.

Sawyer will interview Knox in an "ABC News Primetime Special" on the book's publication night.

Knox spent four years in an Italian prison before her conviction of murdering her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, was overturned. The case drew attention in both the U.S. and Britain, and publishers and TV networks tried to secure her story following her release from prison.

"Waiting to Be Heard" has been ranked between No. 100 and No. 600 on Amazon's sales charts this week, the story says.

"Given the publicity surrounding the book, including a heavy round of promos on ABC hyping its exclusive publication-night special, reasonable expectations would have seen the book move into the top 50," the piece notes.

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Amanda Knox

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CBS Orders Game Show Project

CBS has placed an order for a game show project. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the network ordered a pilot for a game show called "Money Pump.”

According to TVRage.com, the competition works like this: Contestants work in teams of two to answer trivia questions that become increasingly tough. After some time, the giant money pump starts, but the prize money will decrease quickly. Whoever answers all the questions will keep whatever money remains.

The pilot has tapped Kevin Frazier of "omg! Insider" as the host. The project is based on an Israeli format.


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CW Greenlights Spinoff Series, Announces Two Renewals

The CW made a number of programming announcements, including ordering its first new show for the 2013-14 television season. The channel ordered "The Originals," which is a spinoff of its popular "Vampire Diaries," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The network also renewed "Beauty and the Beast" for a second season and announced it is bringing back "Hart of Dixie," the story says.

"The Originals" focuses on the Original family in New Orleans, with Klaus returning to the French Quarter of New Orleans and reuniting with his former protege Marcel, the story says. The order was given the day after "The Vampire Diaries" aired a backdoor pilot that drew 2.2 million total viewers and a 0.9 rating in the 18-49 demographic.

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ABC Family Developing Comedy With Tori Spelling

Former "Beverly Hills, 90210" star Tori Spelling is working on a project with ABC Family, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The project is called "Mystery Girls" and focuses on two actresses who previously starred in a detective series on TV. The characters then decide to use their experiences to solve real crimes, the story says.

The project comes four months after the actress starred in the ABC Family Christmas movie "The Mistle-Tones." Spelling and Maggie Malina, who produced "The Mistle-Tones," are executive producing, and the project is searching for a writer.

Tori-Spelling.jpgTori Spelling

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Country Music Legend Dead at 81

One of country music’s greatest legends -- described as “the definitive country singer of the last half-century” by The New York Times -- has died. George Jones, 81, died today in a Nashville hospital.

He was admitted April 18 with fever and irregular blood pressure, his publicists said.

“Mr. Jones -- nicknamed Possum for his close-set eyes and pointed nose and later No-Show Jones for the concerts he missed during drinking and drug binges -- was universally respected and just as widely imitated,” The Times reports. “With a baritone voice that was as elastic as a steel-guitar string, he found vulnerability and doubt behind the cheerful drive of honky-tonk and brought suspense to every syllable, merging bluesy slides with the tight, quivering ornaments of Appalachian singing.”

Jones, who notched a string of No. 1 country hits from “White Lightning” in 1959 to “I Always Get Lucky With You” in 1983, racked up countless honors, including being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992 and becoming a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2008. Just last year he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammys.

“In his most memorable songs, all the pleasures of a down-home Saturday night couldn’t free him from private pain, the story reports. “His up-tempo songs had undercurrents of solitude, and the ballads that became his specialty were suffused with stoic desolation.”

Jones, who was a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1956, once said of his songs: “When you’re onstage or recording, you put yourself in those stories.”

The Times report adds: “Fans heard in those songs the echoes of a life in which success and excess battled for decades. Mr. Jones bought, sold and traded dozens of houses and hundreds of cars; he earned millions of dollars and lost much of it to drug use, mismanagement and divorce settlements. Through it all, he kept touring and recording, singing mournful songs that continued to ring true.”

His other signature songs included “The Race Is On,” “She Thinks I Still Care,” “Walk Through the World With Me,” He Stopped Loving Her Today” and “Yesterday’s Wine,” a duet with Merle Haggard.

george-jones.jpgGeorge Jones

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What Happened to Broadcast Ratings Last Night? ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox All See Shows Slump to Season Lows; Only One Series Bucks the Downtrend

Season lows and series lows were the order of the night for broadcast prime time Thursday night, with all of the big four broadcast networks seeing their shows sink, based on Nielsen overnights.

Equaling or surpassing their all-time lows in the key 18-49 demo were CBS’s “Two and a Half Men,” “Person of Interest” and “Elementary,” Fox’s “American Idol” and NBC’s “Community,” TVbytheNumbers.com reports, while CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory,” ABC’s “Wife Swap” and NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” equaled or surpassed season lows.

One reason: The report notes that broadcast programming had unusually strong competition from the NFL draft, with ESPN and NFL Network both carrying the event starting at 8 p.m. ET.

CBS won the night in the 18-49 demo and in total viewers. For prime time overall, CBS averaged a 2.6 rating in 18-49, followed by Fox (2.2 average), ABC (2.2), Univision (1.4) and NBC (1.1). In total viewers, CBS averaged 11.9 million to lead Fox (8.2 million), ABC (6.4 million), Univision (3.3 million) and NBC (2.5 million).

Even while reaching a season low and dropping a full ratings point from its previous original episode, CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” was the top show of the night on broadcast, coming in with a 4.2 in adults 18-49. “Two and a Half Men” lost 1.1 ratings points, sinking to a 2.8; “Person of Interest” fell three-tenths to a 2.4; and “Elementary” dipped one-tenth to a 2.0.

Fox’s “American Idol” continued to see erosion and continued its recent string of lows, falling three-tenths from last week to a 2.7 in the 18-49 demo. “Glee” also fell three-tenths, notching a 1.8.

Bucking the downtrend was ABC’s “Scandal,” which returned to equal its series high with a 2.8 in viewers 18-49, up two-tenths from its previous original. ABC’s “Wife Swap” lost four-tenths from last week for a season-low 1.1, while “Grey’s Anatomy” dipped one-tenth from its previous original to a 2.7.

The carnage was also felt at NBC, where “Community” equaled its series low with a 1.0 in 18-49, down three-tenths from last week. “Parks and Recreation” and “Hannibal” both lost four-tenths, with “Parks” sinking to a season-low 1.3 while “Hannibal” slumped to a 1.0.

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NBC Renews Five Drama Series

NBC made a major programming announcement today, revealing that it has given early renewals to five drama series, Deadline.com reports.

The network gave full-season, 22-episode orders to freshman series “Revolution” and “Chicago Fire” along with “Parenthood,” “Grimm” and “Law & Order: SVU.” All of the renewals were expected, the piece notes.

“Missing from the drama list is recent addition ‘Hannibal,’ which has dropped in the ratings the last two weeks after a solid start,” the report notes.

Said NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke: “On the verge of our 2013 fall scheduling decisions, we’re pleased to renew five drama series that will be important to our new season lineup. We’re especially pleased to be renewing ‘Revolution’ and ‘Chicago Fire’ -- two first-season successes -- and there will be more returning series announcements made in the next couple of weeks.”

“Those returning series announcements will no doubt include reality hit ‘The Voice’ and comedy ‘Parks & Recreation,’ which are assured a return for next season,” Deadline notes. “The other NBC comedies are all on the bubble. Things look promising for ‘The New Normal,’ which just won a GLAAD award and comes from top producer Ryan Murphy, with Matthew Perry-starrer ‘Go On’ also in contention. Meanwhile, cult favorite ‘Community’s’ future is cloudy, with the future of multicamera entries ‘Whitney’ and ‘Guys With Kids’ also in limbo.”

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Oscar Winner, Music Superstar Set for 'SNL' Season Finale

NBC revealed that an Oscar-winning actor and a music superstar will be in the lineup for the season finale of “Saturday Night Live.” USA Today reports that Ben Affleck, who directed the Oscar-winning film “Argo,” will make his fifth appearance as host.

The finale to the show’s 38th season, set for May 18, will also feature Kanye West as the musical act.

Also on tap for upcoming episodes are Zach Galifianakis and former “SNL” cast member Kristen Wiig.

“Galifianakis, who can be seen in ‘The Hangover Part III’ starting May 24, will host the May 4 episode (all episodes, 11:30 p.m. ET/PT), which will feature Iceland's Of Monsters and Men as a first-time musical guest,” the story reports.

The piece adds: “Wiig, whose upcoming film appearances include ‘Girl Most Likely’ and ‘Anchorman: The Legend Continues,’ will make her first appearance as host on May 11. Vampire Weekend will make its third appearance as musical guest.”


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Victoria's Secret and Former Model Waging a War of Words -- She Says She 'Felt Like a Piece of Meat'

A war of words is under way between Victoria's Secret and one of its former models after the model said she “felt like a piece of meat” while she worked for the lingerie company, the Los Angeles Times reports.

In a first-person piece published this week in the New York Post, Kylie Bisutti, 23, said: "I was being paid to strip down and pose provocatively to titillate men. It wasn't about modeling clothes anymore; I felt like a piece of meat.”

The company has fired back at Bisutti, saying she never was one of the company’s “Angels.”

“In the article, she rails against the lifestyle she led as an up-and-coming model living in New York and her issues with eating disorders and insecurities,” the Times reports.

Bisutti writes in the Post article: "The curves that made me 'too fat' by runway standards were perfect for Victoria's Secret. And even though I was only 19, a newlywed and growing in my relationship to God, I didn't think twice about strutting my stuff in skimpy bikinis and underwear in the TV contest.”

The Times reports: “The model, who is a devout Christian, beat 10,000 other models in the 2009 Victoria's Secret Angel Search competition, which bore with it a one-time walk in the 2009 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, which subsequently launched her modeling career.”

Bisutti’s Post article says: "During the Angel competition, I was encouraged to play down my marriage to Mike, because I was supposed to be flirting with everyone all the time. A lot of models don't talk about their relationships unless they're married to a celebrity, like Miranda Kerr and Orlando Bloom, which is more of a draw to the brand.”

The Times piece adds: “Bisutti, who has been photographed for FHM and Maxim and was offered a gig in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue, said she decided to quit modeling soon after racey images from a lingerie shoot were uploaded to a porn site. The shoot didn't seem to be associated with Victoria's Secret, but was one she was contracted for with modeling agency IMG.”

Bisutti has written a book, "I'm No Angel: From Victoria's Secret Model to Role Model."

In a statement to People magazine, Victoria’s Secret said: "Ms. Bisutti has made numerous fabrications and misstatements of fact regarding her brief association with Victoria's Secret.”

The Times adds: “Victoria's Secret said that after she won the ‘amateur’ modeling competition in 2009, she hadn't worked for the company much since except for participating in a swimsuit shoot.”

The company said: "That was the extent of Ms. Bisutti's involvement with Victoria's Secret. She was never a Victoria's Secret 'Angel' as defined by the terms of our Angel model contract. And contrary to Ms. Bisutti's claims, she was never offered any subsequent modeling contracts or opportunities with Victoria's Secret despite her multiple appeals for further work. She has repeatedly fabricated her work experience with Victoria's Secret -- including a relationship that simply did not exist."

Kylie-Bisutti.jpgKylie Bisutti

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Which Broadcast Shows Will Make It to Next Season? For Starters, Don't Count on These Two NBC Series; Who's In, Who's Out and Who's on the Bubble?

In three weeks the broadcast networks will announce their 2013-14 fall schedules at the upfront presentations in New York City, and EW.com's Inside TV has issued its forecasts on which current shows are likely to get renewed or canceled.

Don't count on NBC's "Deception" or "Guys with Kids" to return, the story reports. A couple of other NBC shows that are tough to call are "Hannibal" and "The New Normal," with the latter called "very weak" in the article. "This one depends on the strength of NBC’s comedy pilots,” the piece reports.

On CBS, "Rules of Engagement" may "finally get a pink slip," although many of the network’s shows have already been renewed, including "Person of Interest" and "The Good Wife," the story reports. With CBS and studio Warner Bros. TV still negotiating on "Two and a Half Men," "we expect to see another season," the article adds.

At ABC, renewals are certain for "Modern Family" and "Once Upon a Time," but it also has several bubble shows, including "Malibu Country" and "The Neighbors."

Fox has renewed a number of shows already, including "Bones" and "Glee," but the fate of "The Cleveland Show" is up in the air.

"What is a show that’s not canceled, yet not expected to be renewed?,” the report asks. “Fox has put 'Cleveland' into cryostasis, that state of suspended animation (so to speak) for animated shows that are doing poorly in the ratings, yet might be thawed out for another batch of episodes depending on the network’s scheduling needs -- either months or years in the future."

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MSNBC Reveals What's Up With Ed Schultz, Who Fell Off the Radar After a Flurry of Reports About the Cable News Net's Plans for Him Back in March

MSNBC’s Ed Schultz was supposed to be the point man for a new weekend lineup at the cable news network, with a flurry of announcements about the channel’s moves back in March, as previously reported. But the network has been quiet about Schultz and weekends for a few weeks now.

Now we know that the network’s plans for Schultz remain on track -- it has just taken a little longer than expected, the Los Angeles Times' Showtracker reports.

“The scrappy host -- who once called Laura Ingraham ‘a right-wing slut’ (he later apologized) -- will return to the MSNBC lineup with a weekend show starting May 11,” the Times reports.

Schultz gave up his prime-time slot earlier this year, with network executives promising he would return by April 1. While that date has come and gone, the plan remains essentially what was reported earlier. Schultz will launch his new show in the 5 p.m. Saturday time slot.

MSNBC will expand the show to two hours this summer. His old weeknight slot was taken over by Chris Hayes, who the Times says "is on the ascendancy."

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Ed Schultz

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'Mad Men' Creator Apologizes for Goof on Show

"Mad Men" creator Matt Weiner apologized for a blunder on the show that was called out by fans, reports New York Magazine's Vulture blog.

The most recent episode featured Joan, played by Christina Hendricks, making reservations at Le Cirque, although the restaurant didn't exist in 1968, when the current season is set, as previously reported.

"We make mistakes," Weiner said Tuesday at the Paley Center, according to the piece. "And in this case -- Christina's not here, but she was ad-libbing," he joked. "No, it was a terrible error, and I think that the pleasure some people derive from this mistake makes it more entertainment for the show."

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Former Obama Campaign Manager Joins Cable News Channel

A former campaign manager for Barack Obama has joined a cable news channel. TVNewser reports that the business and financial news channel Bloomberg TV added David Plouffe as a contributor and strategic adviser.

Plouffe will appear on Bloomberg TV to discuss political and economic news, and will also work off-air on the network's business strategy, the story says.

"TVNewser has heard that other channels were interested in Plouffe’s services, but that BTV just offered the better deal," the story adds.

A regular on the TV news circuit, Plouffe managed Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and has served in the White House as senior adviser to the president.

david-plouffe.jpgDavid Plouffe

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NBC Moves Reality Series to Web

Even though NBC already announced it has pulled the plug on the low-rated freshman reality show "Ready for Love," the network will give viewers a chance to watch the rest of the episodes via online streaming, reports Deadline.com.

NBC is placing the unaired episodes of the Tuesday night matchmaking competition series on NBC.com, VOD and sites such as Amazon and Hulu. Only three episodes of the competition show aired on the network, with this week’s installment delivering just 2.86 million viewers.

A new episode will debut online each week, until the show's "finale" on June 4, the story says. Such weekly releases are unusual for streaming television shows, with online services often putting all episodes online at once and allowing for "binge" viewing.

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Al Jazeera Shoots Down Reports of Its Next Move in U.S. Television

A senior executive at Qatar-based Al Jazeera, which has been making moves to become a player in the U.S. television market, denied reports that surfaced last week that Al Jazeera is trying to buy the Tennis Channel, the Los Angeles Times reports.

As we reported last week, Al Jazeera, which is backed by the government of Qatar, has an affiliate called beIN Sport that was believed to have its sights set on the Tennis Channel. BeIN Sport is a global network of sports channels.

But a senior executive "with knowledge of Al Jazeera's U.S. media strategy is adamant that there is no such interest in the Tennis Channel," the Times reports.

Al Jazeera recently spent $500 million to buy Current TV from Al Gore, and is busy trying to revamp the network into a full-service news network that aims to compete with CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, the story reports.

The Times adds: “The Tennis Channel, which is owned by a group of private equity firms including Apollo Partners and Bain Capital, has never said it is for sale. However, most industry analysts think the network would be better off if it were part of a larger media company.”

The channel, which is in 35 million homes, “is engaged in a nasty legal fight with cable giant Comcast Corp. that may determine just how much interest there is in it from potential bidders,” the report notes. “Comcast is fighting an order from the Federal Communications Commission to carry the Tennis Channel in more than 20 million of its homes.”

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NBC Sets Additional Summer Premieres

NBC has scheduled more shows into its summer lineup, including the new unscripted series "The Winner Is …," reports Deadline.com.

The Nick Lachey-hosted "The Winner Is …" will premiere July 11 and will air in the Thursday 9 p.m. time slot, providing a lead-in for the Jane Lynch-hosted "Hollywood Game Night," the story notes.

NBC also acquired the drama "Crossing Lines," which will debut June 23 with a two-hour premiere. It will take the Sunday 10 p.m. time period starting June 30.

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High-Profile Vampire Project Casts 'House of Cards' Star

FX's high-profile vampire project "The Strain," based on a book trilogy by "Hellboy" director Guillermo del Toro, has tapped "House of Cards" star Corey Stoll as its lead, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed. Carlton Cuse is showrunner on the project.

Stoll was offered several broadcast drama pilot leads, but decided to play "The Strain’s” Ephraim Goodweather, the head of a CDC team who investigates a viral outbreak connected to vampirism, the story says.

The pilot for the project, based on a trilogy by del Toro and Chuck Hogan, will be directed by del Toro while the writers will also co-write the pilot.

"To me, having the right lead for 'The Strain' series was perhaps the most important creative task,” del Toro said in a statement.

corey-stoll.pngCorey Stoll

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Want J.R. Ewing's Ruby-Adorned Silver-and-Gold Belt Buckle? Here's Your Chance

Larry Hagman's personal items will be going up for auction next month, including a ruby-adorned silver-and-gold belt buckle from "Dallas," on which he played the scheming oilman J.R. Ewing, reports the New York Post.

The buckle is expected to fetch from $3,000 to $5,000 on May 5, according to the auction house Bonhams. The buckle is adorned with four rubies that frame the initials of his character.

Hagman died in November at age 81 of complications from throat cancer.

Also in the auction are Hagman's director's chair from "Dallas," which could fetch as much as $3,000, and dozens of cowboy hats, which are likely to sell for hundreds each. An abstract landscape painting by "Silence of the Lambs" star Anthony Hopkins will also be up for bidding, and may fetch between $400 and $600, the story adds.

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MTV Greenlights TV Adaptation of 'Scream' Film Franchise, Unveils Three New Series

MTV is moving forward with a TV adaptation of the “Scream” movies, announcing at its upfront presentation Thursday that it has greenlighted a pilot for the project.

“MTV and Dimension Films’ one-hour pilot will reinvent the successful horror comedy franchise that spawned three sequels and unleashed ‘Ghostface’ to a legion of unsuspecting fans,” the channel announced in a press release. “MTV and Dimension Films are in discussions with various writers for the potential series, which would be slated for a summer 2014 debut on the network. Dimension Films is in discussions with the films’ original director and renowned filmmaker Wes Craven to direct the one-hour pilot. DiGa Vision will serve as a producer.”

The cable channel also took the wraps off three new series that are being added to its programming slate: “Generation Cryo,” “Nurse Nation” (working title) and “The Hook Up” (working title).

MTV also announced it is bringing back “Snooki & JWoww” for a third season, part of a lineup of 15 returning shows.

The channel’s upfront presentation in New York featured performances by Selena Gomez and Emeli Sande.

MTV2 revealed it is greenlighting “Guy Court,” and unveiled plans for a new version of “Nick Cannon Presents Wild N Out.” The channel is picking up “Mac Miller and the Most Dope Family” for a second season.

Click here to read the full announcement from MTV with details on Thursday’s busy upfront presentation.

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Loved 'L.A. Confidential'? A Sequel Is in the Works for the Small Screen

James Ellroy's 1990s novel "L.A. Confidential," which was turned into an Oscar-winning film noir starring Russell Crowe, might be getting a sequel on the small screen, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

Ellroy and New Regency are shopping a television project that would continue the themes and stories from the original book, which looked at organized crime, police corruption and celebrity in 1950s Los Angeles.

"I’ve learned that Ellroy wrote the project on spec as a TV drama series, which is being pitched to broadcast and cable networks as well as emerging distribution platforms, with multiple outlets interested," Andreeva writes.

She adds, "I hear the project is eyeing a straight-to-series commitment."

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Do You Smiley-Face That? ABC Working on Feedback App With Emoticons

ABC is working on an iPhone app that would ask viewers to provide feedback on its shows with emoticons, such as a laughing face, a booing emoticon and one that expresses surprise, reports Mashable.

"When you click each emoticon, you'll also hear a corresponding sound effect. You'll hear sound effects from your Facebook friends whenever they register a reaction as well," the story says.

The app will provide schedule reminders for shows, then provide five emoticons to choose from while viewing.

"We hope viewers find Social Soundtracker to be a personal and interactive way to engage with their friends while watching their favorite video online or on TV,” said Joe Ruffolo, senior vice president for ABC News Digital, in a press release. “It is a completely new way to watch video and engage with content, and we’re excited to learn more about how people use it.


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Sony TV Announces New Library Service for Digital Subchannel Market; Agreement With Major Station Group to Take the New Service Is in Place

Sony Pictures TV issued this press announcement earlier this week, on April 22, 2013:

CULVER CITY, Calif., April 22, 2013  -- Sony Pictures Television (SPT) Networks today announced plans to launch getTV, a new US digital broadcast television network airing classic movies, in the fall of 2013. The third wholly owned Sony-branded channel in the US, getTV will premier on the digital subchannels of Univision Television Group owned television stations. SPT is in active discussions with other stations groups in advance of launch. The announcement was made by Andy Kaplan, president, worldwide networks, SPT.

"The over the air market provides a significant growth opportunity for our channels business," said Kaplan. "We recognize the demand for premium content that appeals to audiences of all ages, which is exactly what getTV will offer."

getTV will bring viewers the best movies from Hollywood's golden era. Programming will be primarily from the Sony Pictures library, featuring more than 3,500 films, including 12 Best Picture Academy Award(R) winners. A sampling of movies from the library include: LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT and THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI. The channel will be managed by Superna Kalle, senior vice president, US networks, SPT and general manager, Sony Movie Channel, Cine Sony Television and getTV.

getTV will be carried on the digital subchannels on Univision Television Group owned television stations in 24 markets, including 17 of the top 20 DMAs. These DMAs account for 44% of all US television households, representing more than 50 million homes.

Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

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Cable Series -- One of the Oddest TV Hits in Years -- Breaks Viewership Record

One of the most unlikely hit TV shows in recent memory continues to rack up ratings records for the cable network airing it. A&E reports that its runaway hit “Duck Dynasty,” which focuses on a family of duck call makers, pulled in 9.6 million viewers for its season finale.

The episode, which aired Wednesday, set network records for total viewers, adults 18-49, adults 25-54 and adults 18-34. The program delivered 5.6 million viewers in the 25-54 demo, 5.5 million in 18-49 and 2.6 million in 18-34, the cable network announced.

The episode wrapping up the show’s third season was poised to be the top program Wednesday night on cable or broadcast in the key 18-49 demo, according to A&E.

“’Duck Dynasty’s’ 4.3 national adults 18-49 rating (total US) was also 34% stronger than last night’s top broadcast show, ‘American Idol’ (3.2 adults 18-49 rating),” the channel reported.

The series is blowing away its numbers from season two. “Season three of ‘Duck Dynasty’ averaged 8.4 million total viewers (up 95% versus season 2), 4.8 million adults 18-49 (up 92%) and 4.7 million adults 25-54 (up 81%), making it cable’s #1 non-fiction series this year, and the #2 original series overall (behind only AMC’s ‘Walking Dead’)," A&E reported.

One possible explanation for the series’ recent surge may be the attention it received when rock singer Morrissey waged a high-profile protest against the show back in February, skipping an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on which “Duck Dynasty” cast members were also scheduled.

Morrissey, an outspoken animal rights advocate, protested to show his disapproval of the show’s hunting focus, calling the cast members “animal serial killers.” Kimmel and the “Dynasty” boys lampooned the protest, as we reported previously.

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Video: In Honor of the Doomed Bismarck, N.D., News Guy: Five Other TV News People Who Lost It on the Job

In the wake of the notorious cussing outburst by rookie Bismarck, N.D., newsman A.J. Clemente, TheWrap.com pointed out that Clemente is hardly alone among news people in accidentally reverting to street talk.

Clemente “shouldn't feel too bad about his situation,” the website reports. “For one thing, he's probably more famous now than he ever would have been if he hadn't cursed on air. And for another thing, he's not alone in his dilemma!”

The site posted clips of five other well-known incidents involving off-color language -- or at least what sounds like it -- involving TV news colleagues.

Naturally, the clips carry with them a warning about language that’s not fit for TV. Enjoy!

New York news fixture Sue Simmons curses and apologizes on WNBC-TV:

Shepard Smith makes a less-than-flattering remark about J-Lo on Fox News:

WCBS-TV’s Arthur Chi’en lets a couple of hecklers know how he really feels:

WNYW-TV’s Ernie Anastos makes a weird comment about a chicken:

In the longest of the five clips, ESPN’s Heather Cox may have rehearsed her report on an NBA player’s collapse a few too many times -- resulting in an S-bomb, followed by an oddly cutesy “Golly!”:

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ABC Comedy Plunges in Ratings

The ratings picture is becoming bleaker by the week for an ABC sitcom, taking another bad turn Wednesday night, based on Nielsen overnights. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the freshman series “How to Live With Your Parents” lost a half-point in the key 18-49 demo, slumping to a 1.5 average rating.

To be fair, the comedy series, which bowed April 3, didn’t get much help from the rest of the network lineup. It was ABC’s lone original program of the night, and part of a fifth-place finish overall for the network in prime time.

But viewership for the program has steadily eroded, with last night’s episode -- the series’ fourth -- delivering a preliminary 4.81 million total viewers. That’s down from 8.44 million for the premiere, followed by 7.33 million for episode two and 6.06 million for episode three.

Meanwhile, the ratings erosion also continued for Fox’s “American Idol,” which lost two-tenths of a ratings point from last week, settling for a 3.2 average in the 18-49 demo. The two-hour program was still the top show of the night, although it got a fight out of CBS’s “Survivor” in their head-to-head battle.

The one-hour “Survivor” delivered a 2.7 average in 18-49 at 8 p.m., equaling last week’s number. CBS led out from it with repeat programming, airing reruns of “Criminal Minds” (1.5 average rating) and “CSI” (1.5).

NBC aired two fresh programs, with “Dateline” pulling a 1.3 average rating in the 18-49 demo, up one-tenth from last week, and “Law & Order: SVU” ticking up two-tenths from its previous original to a 1.8.

For prime time overall, Fox’s 3.2 average led the way in adults 18-49, followed by CBS (1.9 average), Univision (1.5), NBC (1.4) and ABC (1.3). Fox took a big win in total viewers, averaging 12.2 million to lead CBS (7.8 million), NBC (5.6 million), ABC (4.2 million) and Univision (3.5 million).

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Twitter Beefing Up Security After AP Hacking Incident

Twitter responded to an incident earlier this week in which the Associated Press account was hacked -- leading to a temporary drop in the stock market, as previously reported -- by getting to work on implementing stepped-up security measures.

Adweek reports that the social media site is launching a two-step verification system in an effort to protect users’ accounts from hacking attacks. The system is reportedly being tested internally, with a rollout expected to begin soon.

“Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and many other password-protected services have long used a two-step verification system,” the report notes. “This type of authentication is useful because even if a hacker successfully implements a phishing scheme -- as was apparently the case in the AP Twitter hack -- the culprit must retrieve the code sent to the user's phone in order to access the account.”

A number of high-profile hacking incidents have taken place recently, with “60 Minutes” and the BBC among those targeted recently in Twitter hacks, the report notes.

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Drug Raid on Justin Bieber's Tour Bus Turns Up Pot, Stun Gun

Pop superstar Justin Bieber got the attention of authorities when someone reportedly smelled marijuana coming from his tour bus, and sure enough, they later found pot on the bus, according to media reports.

It all went down Wednesday night in Stockholm, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“A special narcotics unit was summoned and the bus was searched while the show was in progress at the Globen arena,” the story reports. “Good news for Team Bieber: Nobody was on the bus at the time. Bad news: The cops found a small amount of drugs and a stun gun, which requires a permit. Though the police were mum on the type of drug, the local newspaper identified it as weed.”

Bieber’s team apparently dodged a bullet. Police said they wouldn’t be filing charges because they couldn’t tie the contraband to a specific individual. The pot was reportedly found on the floor of the bus.

“By Thursday afternoon, Bieber had left the reefer madness behind and was already in Helsinki, Finland, where he's scheduled to play on Friday evening,” the report adds.

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Memorial Video Pays Tribute to Longtime TVWeek Writer -- and Barbra Streisand Superfan -- Allison Waldman

A video paying tribute to longtime TVWeek contributor Allison Waldman, who died last week, has been posted on YouTube. As we reported previously, Allison died April 15 at age 56 after a long battle with cancer.

Allison, who also went by her married name, Allison Solow, was well-known and well-liked in the community of Barbra Streisand fans for decades. She wrote two books about the singer and posted a weekly webcast on YouTube focused on Streisand.

This video tribute was part of a memorial service held earlier this week for Allison.

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'American Idol' and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

Fox's onetime ratings juggernaut "American Idol" had what at least one report suggests might be its "worst week ever." TheWrap.com reports that Fox’s “big revenue generator is showing signs of distress.”

First, there was the story that "Idol" producers had plotted to replace judge Mariah Carey and bring back former judge Jennifer Lopez. As previously reported, that plan may have been thwarted by Carey's threat of litigation.

Next, NBC's "The Voice" this week beat "Idol" in the 18-49 demographic for the first time, as well as in total viewers, TheWrap notes.

The ratings slide means that Fox can't charge as much as it once did for ads in the program. This season, the show’s 12th, it's charging $340,000 for a 30-second spot, down from $500,000 in the previous season.

Said Brad Adgate of media-buying firm Horizon Media: "The falloff has really been the last two years. You have to look at what's happened since then with the competition and the audience fatigue and the judges and the number of choices out there."

The report adds: “At its height in 2006, the show was attracting about 30 million viewers an episode. Compare that number to last week's results episode, which brought in 11.9 million total viewers and was beat in the key 18-49 demo by repeats of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ -- yes, reruns.”

“Idol” is averaging 17.9 million total viewers this season, down from 21.9 million in season 11.

“On the financial side, ‘Idol’ has been and still is Fox's major breadwinner. Even with its declining ratings, the show brought in $836.4 million in ad revenue last year – more than $100 million more than 2011's take, according to Kantar Media,” the piece reports.

With May sweeps coming up, Fox has added reason to be nervous.

The “Idol” decline, says Adgate, “puts pressure on them to come up with other hit shows, something that's going to pick up the slack, to remain competitive. They have relied on that show year in and year out. When fourth quarter would come to an end, they were fourth place for many seasons in adults 18-49. And then 'American Idol' would start and within a month or so they were tops in 18-49. Those days appear to be over.”

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Arsenio Hall's New Show to Tape on Historic Stage -- Venue Is Especially Meaningful in the History of Talk

The new syndicated talker "The Arsenio Hall Show" will be taped at a site that is rich in Hollywood history. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Hall’s latest foray into TV talk will be headquartered at the Sunset Bronson Studios in Hollywood.

The nationally syndicated show, which launches Sept. 9, will reportedly tape on the stage where the landmark talking motion picture "The Jazz Singer" was filmed in 1927. The movie is recognized as the first feature-length film with synchronized dialogue -- the starting point for the “talkies.”

Most recently "Judge Joe Brown" was taped there, the piece notes, with the space becoming available after the show was recently canceled.

Sunset Bronson Studios has also been home to vintage TV shows including "Golden Girls" and "Who's the Boss?" The Sunset Boulevard location has been known at various times as the Old Warner Brothers Studio, KTLA Studios and Tribune Studios.

The site has been designated as a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Landmark No. 180 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Hall's new late-night show, which is being distributed by CBS Television Distribution, is cleared in about 95% of the country, the report notes, including Tribune stations in the top three markets -- New York, L.A. and Chicago.

sunset-bronson-studios.jpgSunset Bronson Studios

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Zooey Deschanel Receives Apology After Being Misidentified on TV as a Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect

"New Girl" star Zooey Deschanel has received an apology after she was misidentified in a Fox station's TV caption as a Boston Marathon bombing suspect, reports the Associated Press.

Caption Solutions said it and its captioner "deeply regret" the mistake. The onscreen text appeared Friday during coverage of the Boston manhunt by Dallas-area Fox affiliate KDFW-TV, reading, "Marathon bomber. He is 19-year-old Zooey Deschanel." (The suspect was 19-year-old student Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.)

When Deschanel heard about the misidentification, she tweeted, "Whoa! Epic closed captioning FAIL!"


Zooey Deschanel -- NOT a bombing suspect

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Too Little Too Late? NBC's 'Smash' Gets Time-Slot Upgrade

NBC's "Smash" has been given a last-minute reprieve from its Saturday night time slot. The show’s second-season finale will be moved to a Sunday slot, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

NBC, which recently relegated the struggling musical drama to Saturdays in a move from its Tuesday time period, said the show's two-hour season finale will air Sunday, May 26, at 9 p.m. ET. The finale might also serve as the show's series finale.

"While 'Smash' fans may take this as an encouraging sign, don’t be fooled -- 'Smash's’ dismal ratings, coupled with its sky-high budget, all but ensure a cancellation," the story says.

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Gwyneth Doeth With Classy Sexiness: Attending Her First Premiere After Being Named World's Most Beautiful Woman by People, Gwyneth Paltrow Wears Dress She Calls 'Very See-Through'

Here's Gwyneth Paltrow -- everyone's favorite Pepper Potts -- attending the premiere of "Iron Man 3" at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood on Wednesday, April 24, 2013. The dress is by Antonio Berardi.

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NBC Goes International in Search for News President

NBC is expanding its search for a news division president. Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Joe Flint reports that the company is looking across the pond toward Deborah Turness, the news editor for the U.K.'s ITV Network.

"People close to the search said NBC News Chairman Pat Fili-Krushel is intrigued by Turness," Flint writes.

Another executive said to have held talks with NBC is Jon Banner, the former senior executive producer of ABC's "World News Tonight," who currently works at PepsiCo in strategy and planning. Also being mentioned is CBS News President David Rhodes, although he's under contract and not considered available, the story says.

"A rising media star in Britain, Turness in 2004 became the first female editor of an English news division -- which is akin to news president in the U.S. -- when she assumed the top position at ITV News. Before that she held several posts there, in England, Paris and Washington," Flint writes.

"Turness is credited with keeping ITV News competitive against much bigger rivals, including the BBC," he notes. "Turness has also become something of a celebrity herself in London media circles. In 2011, she was the only journalist who attended the 2011 state banquet held for President Obama at Buckingham Palace."

The position of NBC News president has been vacant since Steve Capus left the job last month.

deborah-turness.jpgDeborah Turness

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'Mad Men' Star to Host 'Ultra-Meaningless' Awards

"Mad Men" star Jon Hamm will host an upcoming awards show that has been described by one publication as “ultra-meaningless.”

Hamm was named to host the ESPYs, which will air live on ESPN on July 17 at 9 p.m. from Los Angeles' Nokia Theatre.

New York Magazine’s Vulture blog comments: "Even among meaningless awards, ESPYs are ultra-meaningless -- sports has its own system of awards known as winning -- but the ceremony is occasionally tolerable, if only for all of the athletes attempting to look mildly surprised despite not being surprised at all.”

Previous hosts include Justin Timberlake and Seth Meyers.

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Video: Episode of NBC Series That Was Pulled After Boston Bombing Airs Online

An episode of an NBC drama series that was pulled following the Boston Marathon bombing has been released online, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The “Hannibal” episode, called "Ceuf," was released Wednesday as a six-part online series, while the fifth episode of the series will air tonight, Thursday, April 25, 2013, on the broadcast network.

The episode was pulled from NBC's schedule because of its content, which featured a storyline about children killing other children.

The show was edited to provide character-driven sections in the webisodes, notes Zap2It, with the storyline about a a teacher brainwashing children to commit violence removed.

The online version includes an introduction by showrunner Bryan Fuller.

Here’s part one, with other parts available on YouTube.

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'Ben and Kate' Star Tapped for FX Comedy

One of the stars of the Fox comedy series "Ben and Kate" has been cast as the lead in a new FX comedy project. Deadline.com reports that Nat Faxon will play the lead in FX’s untitled pilot from Andrew Gurland.

The pilot is about a married man, played by Faxon, and his wife, who want to enliven their marriage, the story says.

"Following his breakout starring role on Fox’s 'Ben and Kate,' Faxon was in high demand this pilot season, fielding multiple offers. But the actor-writer, who won an Oscar last year for co-penning 'The Descendants,' didn’t want to commit to a broadcast series full time because of his projects on the feature side, where he also is looking to direct," the piece notes.

nat-faxon.jpgNat Faxon

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HBO Creating Series With 'Hellboy' Director Guillermo del Toro

HBO is working with "Hellboy" director Guillermo del Toro on "Monster," a series developed from 18 volumes of Japanese manga by Naoki Urasawa, reports Deadline.com.

Del Toro will co-write the story with Steven Thompson, who has worked on British shows such as "Doctor Who," the story notes. Del Toro plans to direct the pilot, which will be written by Thompson.

The project tracks a young doctor as he searches for a 12-year-old boy who also happens to be an evil sociopath and whose life the doctor had earlier saved.

The story notes, "This project was originally set at New Line, but proved too sprawling to [be] confined to a feature film. It took del Toro a long time to woo creator Urasawa into being comfortable with Hollywood again, which sounds a lot like the process that D.B. Weiss and David Benioff went through with George R.R. Martin before they could get 'Game Of Thrones' off the ground at HBO."

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Huge 'SNL' Archive Finds Online Home -- Now the Show Will Be Pulled From Other Sites

The owner of the "Saturday Night Live" archive, Broadway Video, has made a deal to sell exclusive rights for shows from 1975 through 2012 to Yahoo, reports The New York Times.

That means that when the deal starts in September, the archive will be removed from Hulu and NBC.com and shown on Yahoo instead, the story says. However, Hulu will continue to stream clips and full episodes from the current TV season, something that Yahoo will also be able to do.

"The deal between Broadway Video and Yahoo highlights the jockeying among companies that want to have a library of online videos to call their own. A dizzying number of online video producers are pitching their programs to advertisers this month, ahead of the traditional television upfront sessions in May," the article points out.

Yahoo Vice President Erin McPherson, who oversees the company's video business, said the deal wasn't designed to allow it to compete with Hulu or Netflix.

We "see this as a step toward adding scale and breadth to the great content we are already offering users," she said.

Details weren't disclosed, but the library has cost as much as $10 million per year in the past, the piece adds.

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Mark Burnett Selling Follow-Up to 'The Bible'

Mark Burnett is quietly shopping his follow-up to his huge miniseries hit "The Bible," which has the working title "A.D.," reports the New York Post.

Burnett told the Post that the project "is not a continuation of ‘The Bible.'" He added, "That’s done. It’s something else that is very related to the Bible.”

"The Bible" drew a record-setting 13 million viewers on History, which hasn't yet decided whether it will air the follow-up, the story notes.

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Actor Who Is Playing The Title Role in the Movie Version of 'The Lone Ranger' Signs Up to Play in Another Classic TV Show Being Brought to the Big Screen.

Armie Hammer, who will play the title role in the upcoming movie version of "The Lone Ranger," has now signed up to play in another movie version of a classic TV show.

Hammer "is set to star with Tom Cruise in 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,' the remake of the classic TV series that Guy Ritchie will direct for Warner Bros.," reports Mike Fleming Jr. at Deadline.com..

Hammer will play "a version" of Illya Kuryakin, which was the part originally played by series co-star David McCallum, the story says.

Hammer co-stars with Johnny Depp, who plays Tonto, in "The Lone Ranger."

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Report: Amazon Developing Box to Stream Video to TVs. One Big Question: Why Does Amazon Want to Enter a Crowded Field That Will Only Get More Crowded

Amazon, "the e-commerce giant, is planning to introduce a device this fall dedicated to streaming video over the Internet and into its customers’ living rooms, according to three people familiar with the project who aren’t authorized to discuss it," reports Bloomberg Businessweek.

The Bloomberg story notes that "The Amazon set-top box will compete with similar products, such as the Roku, Apple TV, and the Boxee Cloud DVR, along with more versatile devices such as the Playstation 3 and the Xbox."

Most of the other boxes also offer access to Amazon's video services, as do a number of new smart TVs.

So why is Amazon interested in this particular TV hardware?

The New York Times follow-up quoted an analyst who speculated on Amazon's motives, "Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, said one approach that could make sense was for Amazon to sell the device for $100 or less, about what Internet set-top boxes cost today, and to include a free year of its subscription video service.

"At the end of the term, customers would have an incentive to sign up for Amazon Prime to continue receiving all of its membership benefits, including the video service. 'I think this is a Trojan horse to get people to join Prime,' Mr. Pachter said."

The Times story notes that Amazon's "Prime Instant Video, a Netflix-like subscription video service with more than 40,000 movies and television episodes is included as part of Amazon’s broader Prime membership. Among other benefits, Prime members, who pay $79 a year, get free two-day shipping on orders bought through Amazon’s site."

CNET, in its follow-up to the Bloomberg story posed seven questions it has about an Amazon hardware TV device for streaming:

1) Will it offer an app store with non-Amazon content?
2. Will it have games?
3. Will it do music too?
4. Will it mirror or stream content from Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets or other devices?
5. Will it be any better than Ruku?
6. Will it even be a box?
7. How much will it cost?

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NBC's 'The Voice' Hits a Sour Note in the Ratings

“The Voice,” the singing competition that has been leading a ratings turnaround for NBC’s prime time, hit a sour note Tuesday night, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the program lost six-tenths of a ratings point in the key 18-49 demo from last week’s broadcast, settling for a 4.0 average rating -- still the top-rated show of the night on broadcast. Leading out from it, NBC saw its two-hour reality show “Ready for Love” equal last week’s lackluster 1.2.

CBS had its own lackluster results, but still slipped past NBC to claim the top spot for prime time overall. CBS won the night with a 2.2 average in viewers 18-49, just ahead of NBC (2.1 average) and comfortably ahead of ABC, Fox and Univision in a three-way tie with 1.5 averages.

CBS finished well ahead of the pack in total viewers, averaging 12.9 million to outpace ABC (8.8 million), NBC (6.2 million), Fox (3.5 million) and Univision (3.5 million).

CBS won despite a one-tenth dip for “NCIS: Los Angeles” from its previous original, to a 2.6 average in 18-49, and a one-tenth downturn for “Golden Boy,” with a 1.4. “NCIS” was flat with a 2.7.

ABC had mixed results, with its struggling diving competition “Splash” equaling last week’s series low, a 1.1 average in the 18-49 demo. “Dancing with the Stars” fell two-tenths from last week to a 2.0, while “Body of Proof” ticked up one-tenth to a 1.5.

Fox aired just one original program, “Hell’s Kitchen,” which lost three-tenths from a week ago to deliver a 1.9 in adults 18-49.


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People Magazine's Surprise Choice for Most Beautiful Woman in the World

In a surprise selection, People magazine has named an award-winning actress as its Most Beautiful Woman in the World for 2013.

Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow, a 40-year-old mother of two, knocked pop superstar Beyonce out of the No. 1 spot.

Paltrow credited her exercise program with keeping her in shape, telling the magazine: "It makes me look younger and feel strong. When I first started, I thought, 'I'll never be good at this. This is a nightmare!' But now it's like brushing my teeth, I just do it."

It’s Paltrow’s fourth time making the magazine’s annual Most Beautiful List, but her first time at No. 1.

Other actresses who have topped the list include Jennifer Lopez, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston and Halle Berry.

Gwyneth-Paltrow2.jpgGwyneth Paltrow

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ABC Family Orders Drama Series

ABC Family announced it has given a series order to a new drama. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the cable channel picked up the pilot “Terminales,” which will be renamed “Chasing Life” as it goes to series.

“With the pickup, the cable network has gone 3-for-3 with its drama pilots, with the murder mystery ‘Twisted’ (formerly ‘Socio’) and ‘The Fosters’ launching in the summer,” the story reports.

The channel ordered a 10-episode season, set to launch in early 2014. Production, set to take place in Santa Clarita, Calif., begins in July, the piece notes.

“Based on the Mexican format by Miguel Angel Fox, the series centers on a young woman's life after she is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Italia Ricci, soap veteran Mary Page Keller, Aisha Dee, Richard Brancatisano, Haley Ramm and Abhi Sinha are among the cast,” THR reports.

Aaron Kaplan of “Terra Nova” will executive produce, with Susanna Fogel and Joni Lefkowitz, who penned the pilot, also executive producing. The series comes from Lionsgate and Televisa.

The report adds: “ABC Family, which is gearing up for a busy summer with eight scripted and unscripted series on the schedule, still has yet to make an official decision on ‘Bunheads’ and ‘The Lying Game,’ opting to wait until after its summer offerings premiere.”

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News Anchor Fired for Cursing On-Air Has TV Offers Pouring In

The Bismarck, N.D., news anchor who was fired after an on-air incident in his first day on the job has become a hot property in the media, booking late-night talk shows and getting an assignment from a popular daytime show.

A.J. Clemente has been making the rounds of TV talk shows, including booking an appearance on tonight’s “Late Show with David Letterman.” He already has appearances under his belt on NBC’s “Today” and the syndicated “Live with Kelly and Michael,” and agreed to take a temporary job with the latter.

“Live” is sending the rookie newsman to serve as the show’s celebrity correspondent at the red carpet premiere of the Pierce Brosnan movie “Love Is All You Need.”

As we reported previously, Clemente became an Internet sensation over the cursing incident in his first few seconds on-air at Bismarck station KFYR-TV. Support for Clemente has been building since he was fired by the station.

Video of the original incident, in which Clemente was heard unleashing expletives moments before he was to be introduced to viewers, can be seen by clicking here.

“The clip, which has become a viral sensation online, shows Clemente and his co-anchor Van Tieu beginning the weekend news, but Clemente begins by saying two words we can't publish here,” the L.A. Times reports. “Though he attempts to continue with the broadcast, he and Tieu are visibly flustered by the gaffe.”

Clemente talked about the incident during a “Today” appearance with Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie. “As a contrite and semi-embarassed Clemente explained to the amused ‘Today’ hosts, he wasn't aware that the broadcast had begun 30 seconds early,” the Times reports. “He was reading over his script and suddenly the ‘fireball shot came right out of my mouth.’

“Clemente still seemed uncomfortable with watching the clip, which he told Lauer and Guthrie was ‘gut-wrenching.’"

Thumbnail image for aj-clemente.jpg

A.J. Clemente

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Iconic L.A. Theater to Close

A venue that has been a fixture of the Los Angeles music scene for decades will close in September. Billboard reports that it has confirmed the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City will be shuttered when its lease agreement runs out.

The final concerts at the facility, which seats 6,000 people, will feature what the company calls “very special” lineups.

“On Tuesday, NBCUniversal was granted permission by the county board of supervisors to move forward with a $1.6 billion project at Universal Studios. The 25-year plan includes a new attraction, ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,’ which will be located in the upper area of the theme park near the Gibson,” the story reports.

In a statement, Bret Gallagher, president of North American concerts at Live Southern California/Las Vegas, said: “We, like music lovers across Los Angeles, will miss Gibson Amphitheatre. It is a tremendous venue with a uniquely intimate setting that has made it a very special place for fans and artists alike. The list of musicians that have played here is simply staggering. We are honored to have been a part of its remarkable story. While a change like this is difficult, we look forward to putting together a series of great shows that will celebrate everything about this marvelous building.”

The report adds: “When the Gibson closes its doors in September, the Greek Theatre, booked by Nederlander Concerts, will stand alone in Los Angeles as a mid-sized amphitheater-style venue.”

The Gibson opened in 1972 as an outdoor venue, with the original name Universal Amphitheatre.

“Ten years later it reopened with a roof,’ the piece notes. “Over the years, the venue has hosted such legendary acts as Frank Sinatra, Bob Marley, Johnny Cash, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Madonna and Stevie Wonder. It has also been the home to other events, including the MTV Music Awards, Teen Choice Awards, VH1 Honors and the Academy of Country Music Awards.”

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Hamburger From 14 Years Ago Comes Back to Haunt McDonald's

After a TV appearance by what’s being billed as a 14-year-old McDonald’s hamburger, the fast-food chain has been doing spin control -- trying to ease fears that the still-edible-looking burger offers evidence that the company’s food is a little too well-preserved.

The Los Angeles Times reports that McDonald’s is downplaying the burger, which made an appearance on the syndicated show “The Doctors.”

“The fast-food chain says the apparent lack of mold or disintegration is actually no big deal, and suggests that the burger's pristine appearance -- assuming it's not a prank -- is likely the result of dehydration, and not funky preservatives,” the Times reports.

The burger’s owner, Utah resident David Whipple, who has tried to sell it on eBay and who calls it the “World’s Oldest Hamburger,” says it has never been refrigerated. He reportedly left it in a coat pocket after buying it in 1999, and after his wife later discovered it, he decided to save it.

“The hamburger has been in the headlines of late, most recently on ‘The Doctors,’” the Times reports. “Dr. Travis Stork donned medical gloves to examine the McDonald's hamburger that looks barely an hour old.”

A panelist on the show asked, "How can it not be moldy?, prompting pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears to respond: "It's called 'preservatives.’ If the mold won't eat it, if the fungus won't eat it, bugs won't eat it. Maybe ... we shouldn't be eating it."

But McDonald’s, which release an exhaustive, science-heavy press release in response to the burger, offers a different viewpoint.

"McDonald's hamburgers are freshly prepared in our restaurants,” the statement says. “While not knowing the conditions in which the food was kept in this specific claim, what is scientifically known is that ... bacteria and mold only grow under certain conditions.”

The Times adds: “McDonald's goes on to say that many other foods purchased and kept in a dry environment would hold up the same.”

The company’s statement explains: "For example, without sufficient moisture -- either in the food itself or the environment in which it is held -- bacteria and mold and associated decomposition, is unlikely. If food is/or becomes dry enough, it won't grow mold or bacteria. In fact, any food purchased from a restaurant or grocery store or prepared at home that lacks moisture would also dehydrate and see similar results if left in the same environment."

The statement also asserts: "McDonald's hamburger patties in the U.S. are made with 100% USDA-inspected beef. They are cooked and prepared with salt, pepper and nothing else -- no preservatives -- no fillers. Our hamburger buns are made from North American-grown wheat flour. These are the same foods that people buy every day in their local grocery stores."

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NBC Rolls Dice on Game-Changing Series for Fall

NBC has ordered a new series for this fall that Deadline.com calls "one of the most ambitious unscripted efforts ever attempted." The live competition series will feature a 12-day contest.

Called "The Million Second Quiz," the contest will last 1,000,000 seconds (or 11.57 days) and will be taped in a huge hourglass-shaped structure made of glass and located in the heart of Manhattan, the story says.

That will allow the contestants and the game play to be visible from the street. Four players who have stayed in the game the longest will live in the hourglass, and the quartet must play 24 hours a day, scheduling strategic breaks for sleep, the story says. The competition combines trivia knowledge with endurance.

In what NBC is calling “the first fully convergent television experience,” viewers can play along at home, and winners will be flown to New York to appear on the show in prime time. The eventual winner could receive a cash prize of up to $10 million, which Deadline says would be a record for a reality or game show.

Said NBC head of alternative Paul Telegdy: “It is a game, a social experiment, and a live interactive event all wrapped into a uniquely sticky entertainment experience. What is exceptional about 'The Million Second Quiz' is that it embraces technology’s ability to allow everyone in America to actively participate and compete in a way that has never been done.”

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Zucker Eyes Former Presidential Candidate -- Also Formerly a Fox News Talking Head -- for CNN Job

CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker is said to be considering a high-profile political figure for a job with CNN. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Zucker has his eye on former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich for a revival of "Crossfire."

Others considered for the program are Obama administration adviser Stephanie Cutter and Mitt Romney adviser Kevin Madden, the story says. Zucker wants a mix of seasoned political types and younger voices, the piece adds.

Gingrich lost his television pulpit in 2011 when Fox News ended his contributor contract, which was said to be worth almost $1 million per year, as he planned a presidential run. He has appeared on CNN since last year's election.

"Crossfire" was canceled in 2005, after Comedy Central host Jon Stewart told co-hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala that the show was "hurting America." According to The Reporter, the show "came to epitomize the deafening shout fests that represented everything that ailed cable news."

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'Idol' Producers Reportedly Had Secret Plan to Dump Mariah Carey and Bring Back Jennifer Lopez

"American Idol" producers and Fox executives recently created a secret plan to dump judge Mariah Carey and bring back Jennifer Lopez, all part of a scheme to boost the show's slumping ratings, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which cites “knowledgeable sources.”

But the plan reportedly failed when Carey responded with the threat of legal action. Even though producers have dropped the idea of ousting Carey, they are still negotiating with Lopez, who was a judge during the past two seasons, to appear on May's finale.

A search has begun to find a replacement for Carey, and possibly Nicki Minaj or even the entire judge's panel for the next season, the story says.

"This is just another ridiculous 'Idol' judge rumor, likely started by talks of Jennifer performing on the finale," a Fox spokeswoman told the publication.

A representative for Carey denied the allegations, and producer Nigel Lythgoe said, "I have not been included in any conversation regarding replacing Mariah with Jen this season."

While "Idol" started off the season with a 6.0 rating among adults 18-49 and 17.9 million total viewers, its Wednesday performance show is now averaging a 4.3 rating in the demo, its worst performance since the show debuted in 2001.

While producers hoped Carey and Minaj would provide for dramatic viewing, some "Idol" executives worry the dynamic between the two has turned off some fans, the piece adds.

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Report: Matt Lauer Urged NBC to Hire Crisis Team

"Today" co-host Matt Lauer reportedly urged NBC to hire a crisis team to help with the situation at the NBC morning show. The New York Post's Page Six reports that Lauer wanted the network to bring in public relations experts to help counter bad press generated by former co-host Ann Curry's ouster, but the network refused.

That decision left Lauer "taking matters into his own hands," the story says, citing an unnamed source close to the show. Some executives at the network reportedly interviewed outside firms last fall, but their superiors didn't want to bring anyone in, the piece adds.

A representative for "Today" declined to comment.

The report adds: “A top spin doctor said that the network should have taken Lauer’s advice and brought in the cavalry to handle the ‘Today’ mess. ‘Matt should be seen as a much more sympathetic figure,’ he said. ‘They’ve made some real mistakes, obvious ones, and they have no plan. As soon as you become the highest-paid anchor, you have a target on your tush.’ But another supported NBC’s decision, sniffing, ‘I’d never let [on-air] talent hire their own outside PR people.’”


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Scripps Has Huge Slate of New Programs in Pipeline for Its Six Cable Networks: 52 New Shows for 2013-14 Season

Scripps rolled out an ambitious plan for the 2013-14 television season, with its six networks planning to add a combined 52 new series, reports The New York Times.

While parent company Scripps Networks Interactive has previously invested in original programming for its channels, cable programmers are increasingly under pressure to add new shows in response to viewer and advertiser demand, the story notes.

The company has earmarked 27 new series for DIY Network and HGTV; 20 new shows for Cooking Channel and Food Network; and five new series for Travel Channel and GAC, the story says.

Many of the new shows will be extensions of existing shows. For example, the hosts of HGTV's "Property Brothers" will compete against each other in a new show called "Brother vs. Brother," also on HGTV.

Scripps execs previewed their programming plans for advertisers Tuesday. “The executives discussed the company’s digital content in addition to the opportunities that advertisers have to reach readers of the two magazines based on two Scripps Networks channels, Food Network and HGTV, which are part of a joint venture with the Hearst Corporation,” the story reports.

The report adds: “Scripps Networks is climbing aboard the so-called TV Everywhere bandwagon, its executives said. Starting in the summer they plan to offer mobile applications and websites that will give authenticated cable subscribers the ability to watch shows on devices like smartphones and tablets.”

The company is working on tweaking the traditional advertising model. The article reports: “The Scripps Networks executives also talked about their continuing efforts to woo advertisers and agencies into working with the channels to develop and produce commercials that go beyond traditional 30-second spots and assume the trappings of content, a trend known as content marketing or native advertising. Advertisers that have already made deals with the channels include JPMorgan Chase, Land Rover, Pier One Imports, Walt Disney and Scotts.”

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Sharon Osbourne Opens Up About Ozzy's Substance Abuse

Ozzy Osbourne's substance abuse "devastated" Sharon Osbourne, "The Talk" co-host said on her show, when she also told the audience that the pair is "not getting divorced," reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

"However, am I happy? No. Am I upset? Yes, I am. I'm devastated right now," Osbourne said.

She continued: "Everybody knows he’s been struggling with this his entire life and I never knew that he was using prescription drugs. I knew he was drinking occasionally, but I didn’t realize to [such an] extent."

As previously reported, Ozzy Osbourne refuted reports that he and Sharon had split, but admitted that he had been taking drugs and drinking for the past year and a half.

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New Series Sets Record for Nat Geo

A new National Geographic series set a ratings record this week for the cable network. Deadline.com reports that the show "Brain Games" drew 1.5 million viewers on Monday, marking the highest-rated series debut ever for the network.

The show had already been renewed -- before its debut -- and is scheduled to start production on the second season this summer. The program provides interactive games and experiments "designed to mess with your mind," according to the channel's website.

Separately, E!'s new program "What Would Ryan Lochte Do?" got off to a slow start, with an average of 807,000 viewers for the reality series, the story says. That was about half of its lead-in, which was a special about the Kardashians.

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'How I Met Your Mother' Exec Producer Headed to Sitcom on Rival Network After Show Wraps

Stephen Lloyd, the executive producer of "How I Met Your Mother," has signed a new two-year deal with 20th Television, keeping him on the CBS comedy for its final season and then moving him to ABC’s "Modern Family" the following year, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Moving to "Modern Family" means Lloyd will work alongside his brother, Chris Lloyd, the co-creator and co-showrunner of the ABC comedy, the story notes.

“Modern Family” often uses material from producers' personal lives as inspiration for plot lines, the piece notes.

20th Television Chairman Gary Newman said: "It also speaks to how much we value Stephen that he'll go straight from [‘How I Met Your Mother’] to our incredibly important 'Modern Family' the following year.”

Stephen Lloyd has worked on "How I Met Your Mother" since 2006 and shared in the show's 2009 outstanding comedy series Emmy nomination, the story adds.

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A+E Networks Moving Into Comedy, Brings 'Office' Actor Aboard

A+E Networks, known for original dramas such as "The Glades," is moving into comedy with a new pilot order. Deadline.com reports that the cable programmer has David Koechner of NBC’s “The Office” on board for "Whitey."

Koechner, who played Todd Packer on the long-running NBC show, will portray Guy "Whitey" White, “a bright, conservative and frustrated guy in his 40s who is struggling to understand the changing values of a country in a world that has forever gone with the wind,” Deadline reports. “Whitey graduated high school, married his high school sweetheart and spent his career working at the local engine factory until he got laid off. Now what?”

The project is being considered for History, although A+E will wait to see whether it's picked up to series before deciding which network will get it. A&E and History are both known for original dramas, but "neither of them has taken a stab at half-hour scripted comedy," the story notes.

The pilot is from Leslie Greif, the producer of History's successful miniseries "Hatfields & McCoys."


David Koechner

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New York Times Reporter Responds to Paper's Negative Review of His Book About Morning TV

A New York Times reporter who received a scathing review from the paper for his new book about the morning TV wars has responded to the negative writeup. Brian Stelter tells TheWrap that he believes The Times’ review of "Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV" "was an anomaly."

As previously reported, The Times hired an outside critic for the review, as is standard operating procedure when it comes to a book written by one of its own employees. The review, by former Dallas Morning News TV critic Ed Bark, called the book "plain silly" and said it suffers from "overblown prose."

Stelter, 27, said he "expected a tough review from The Times." He added, “I want The Times to give tough reviews. That’s partially why I read The Times. But I’m more interested in readers' reviews.”

Stelter also said he thought the review's tone wasn't as bad as some made it out to be. "I don’t think the review is a significant thing positively or negatively,” he said.

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ABC Comedy Series Loses Showrunner

An ABC comedy series has lost its second showrunner in a few months. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Nastaran Dibai has exited "Malibu Country," after show creator Kevin Abbott departed last fall.

Dibai stepped in to replace Abbott in November, when Abbott exited to enter rehab. The bubble series has already finished production on its first season, and no decision has been made on who will be tapped as its new showrunner if the program is renewed, the story says.

"Malibu" has averaged 7 million total viewers and a 1.7 rating.

The move comes on the heels of a shakeup for another ABC show. As previously reported, “Revenge” creator Mike Kelley announced earlier this week that he’s stepping down as that show’s exec producer and showrunner.


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New Reality Show in the Works for 'Jersey Shore' Star

One of the stars of the MTV reality hit "Jersey Shore" says taping has begun on a new series. TMZ.com reports that “Jersey” alum Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino says the cameras are rolling on his own reality show.

The show is said to focus on the lives of Sorrentino and his relatives in the New Jersey suburbs. It's not clear whether a network is attached yet, the story says, but the show is reportedly being taped in a rented house that's next door to where "Jersey Shore" alums Snooki and JWoww taped their spinoff.

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CW Deepens Relationship with Xbox, as Gaming Device Becomes Destination For CW's Young Viewers to Watch Shows

"The CW app [for Xbox Live] launched Tuesday [April 23, 2013] with full-length episodes of all CW programming that are available just 24 hours after their primetime berth–a first on Xbox without requiring subscribers provide proof of being pay-TV subscribers via password authentication" writes our good friend Andy Wallenstein on the website of Variety.

Andy's story continues, "In addition, Microsoft’s second-screen software SmartGlass will integrate with the app to provide synchronized companion content to Thursday’s episode of 'Vampire Diaries,' which will be a backdoor pilot for a spinoff titled 'The Originals.' Only viewers watching the episode via CW’s Xbox app will be able to access extras that explore the series’ world from character biographies to a map of its New Orleans setting."

The article adds, "The pact continues net’s aggressive bid to connect with younger viewers who may be more inclined to watch its programming on digital platforms than over the air, where the CW has struggled in the Nielsen ratings.

"The CW app is already active on other platforms including iOs, Android and Windows 8. But with Xbox, the app will make its debut in the living room, where the console is the most highly penetrated offering among the many non-cable set-top boxes vying to be the go-to IP-delivered device."

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'M*A*S*H' Actor Dies

An actor who became familiar to many television viewers through his role on the long-running CBS sitcom “M*A*S*H” has died. The New York Times reports that Allan Arbus, who played caustic psychiatrist Maj. Sidney Freedman on the Korean War series, died Friday at his home in Los Angeles at 95.

Arbus, who was once married to the famous photographer Diane Arbus, left the fashion photography business the couple had created to pursue an acting career starting in the late 1960s. He went on to appear in many TV series, including guest spots early in his career on “Here Come the Brides,” “Mod Squad” and “The Odd Couple.”

He was later seen on “Taxi,” “Cagney & Lacey,” “L.A. Law” and “Matlock,” among many others. Toward the end of his acting career he appeared in “NYPD Blue” and “Judging Amy,” both in 1999, and in “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in 2000.

Arbus also had a number of film appearances, including “Cinderella Liberty,” “The Electric Horseman” and “Crossroads.”

“M*A*S*H” star Alan Alda once said of working with Arbus on the show: “I was so convinced that he was a psychiatrist I used to sit and talk with him between scenes. After a couple months of that I noticed he was giving me these strange looks, like ‘How would I know the answer to that?’”

The Times notes: “Allan Franklin Arbus was born in New York City on Feb. 15, 1918. He attended DeWitt Clinton High School and entered City College at 15. He left college a year and a half later for a job at Russek’s Department Store, where he met Diane Nemerov, the daughter of the store’s owners.

“They married in 1941 and became passionate about photography. They shot fashion photographs for Russek’s before Mr. Arbus left to serve as a photographer in the Army Signal Corps in Burma during World War II. When he was discharged in 1946 the Arbuses established a studio on West 54th Street for fashion photography and soon won a contract from Conde Nast to supply photos for magazines like Glamour and Vogue.”

The couple divorced in 1969, and Diane Arbus committed suicide in 1971. Allan Arbus remarried in 1976, the piece notes.

allan-arbus-mash.jpgAllan Arbus

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Website Posts Video of Reese Witherspoon in Handcuffs

A video clip surfaced that shows actress Reese Witherspoon during her now infamous arrest Friday in which she reportedly pulled the celebrity “Do you know my name” bit on the arresting officer, TMZ reports.

The website posted the brief clip, which you can also find below. The clip shows Witherspoon in handcuffs being moved from a police cruiser.

“She appears calm and cooperative,” TMZ notes, adding: “FOX5 in Atlanta published the video first.”

As we previously reported, Witherspoon was arrested for alleged disorderly conduct at the same time that her husband, CAA agent James Toth, was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Witherspoon was apparently “tipsy,” to put it mildly.

She has since released a statement apologizing for the incident, in which she said: “I clearly had one drink too many and I am deeply embarrassed about the things I said.”

Her statement adds: “It was definitely a scary situation and I was frightened for my husband, but that is no excuse. I was disrespectful to the officer who was just doing his job. I have nothing but respect for the police and I'm very sorry for my behavior.”

Witherspoon has canceled a number of TV appearances in the wake of the incident, as we reported earlier.

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Clear Winner in Head-to-Head Battle Between NBC's 'The Voice' and ABC's 'Dancing'

NBC and ABC waged a head-to-head battle Monday night between their two-hour reality competitions, with ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" challenging NBC's "The Voice" in what has recently become a dominant night for the Peacock Network. When the dust settled, NBC had another big win in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights.

It helped that CBS aired almost all reruns and finished in fifth place for the night among the broadcast networks. But TVbytheNumbers.com reports that in the head-to-head showdown, NBC’s “The Voice” more than doubled the demo number for ABC’s “Dancing” -- delivering a 4.8 average rating in 18-49 vs. “Dancing’s” 2.1.

The story in total viewers was dramatically different, with the two reality competitions finishing in almost a dead heat. Reflecting the older audience for the ABC show, “Dancing” delivered 13.58 million total viewers to place a close second to the 13.90 million who turned out for “The Voice.”

Both shows were down a bit in the 18-49 demo: “The Voice” lost ground after last week’s season high of 5.2, while “Dancing” slipped one-tenth from its 2.2 a week ago.

Fox was competitive with ABC during the two-hour block, drawing a 1.9 average rating in viewers 18-49 for “Bones” and rising to a 2.4 for “The Following.” “Bones” equaled last week’s number while “Following” bounced back three-tenths from its series low a week ago.

CBS’s only fresh program was “Rules of Engagement,” which plunged six-tenths of a point in adults 18-49 to an all-time low for the series, a 1.5 average.

NBC and ABC continued their battle to the 10 p.m. hour, leading out from their competition programs with two dramas -- NBC’s “Revolution” and ABC’s “Castle” -- that battled to a draw, with both shows pulling 2.2 average ratings in the 18-49 demo. “Revolution” equaled its number from two weeks ago while “Castle” improved two-tenths from last week. But ABC dominated the hour in total viewers, averaging 11.71 million to NBC’s 6.24 million, just enough to push ABC ahead in total viewers for the night as a whole.

“Castle” also improved one-tenth on its “Dancing with the Stars” lead-in in the 18-49 demo.

The numbers for prime time overall saw NBC comfortably ahead in viewers 18-49 with a 3.9 average rating, followed by ABC (2.1 average), Fox (2.1), Univision (1.5) and CBS (1.3). ABC won total viewers with 13.0 million, followed by NBC’s 11.3 million, Fox’s 6.9 million, CBS’s 5.0 million and Univision’s 3.6 million.

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False Tweet Causes Stock Market to Plunge

Stock prices tumbled for a period of time today after a false tweet surfaced that had a wide impact. CBS News reports that the tweet referenced a non-existent bombing at the White House in which President Obama was supposedly injured.

The tweet appeared to come from the Associated Press, but was the result of hacking attack on the AP account.

“The Dow Jones industrial average plunged more than 130 points, or roughly 1 percent, after the fake Twitter posting before quickly rebounding,” the report notes. “As of 1:50 p.m, it was up 130 points, or 0.9 percent, to 14,698. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also fell sharply, but recovered after AP confirmed that the tweets were false.”

Other media outlets reported that the tweet also created a drop in the value of the dollar, before it corrected itself.

“The tweet, which came shortly after 1 p.m. Eastern Time, claimed there had been two explosions at the White House and that President Barack Obama had been injured,” CBS News reported. “The AP's mobile application also was compromised.”

The AP later released a statement saying: "The @AP twitter account has been hacked. The tweet about an attack at the White House is false. We will advise more as soon as possible."

The AP suspended its Twitter account and indicated it was working on fixing the problem. The company noted that unknown hackers have "made repeated attempts to steal the passwords of AP journalists," the report notes.

“Other media organizations have seen their Twitter accounts hacked in recent months,” the report adds. “Over the weekend, CBS News confirmed that its ‘60 Minutes’ and ‘48 Hours’ Twitter accounts were compromised.”

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Cable Network Will Put Celebrities -- Vanilla Ice, Daryl Hall and Others -- in Unusual Settings

A lineup of talent will be assembled in a number of unusual settings, based on one cable channel’s rollout of four new celebrity series. The channel is DIY Network, and the celebrities -- Vanilla Ice, The Rev. Run, Daryl Hall and Bronson Pinchot -- are involved in a variety of home improvement-themed programs.

Currently in production at DIY are “Vanilla Ice Goes Amish,” “The Rev. Run Project,” “The Daryl Hall Project” and “Bronson Pinchot Saves America.” The series are set to premiere later this year and in 2014.

Click here to read the press release from DIY, with details on all the new programming.

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Ouch: Book About TV's Morning Wars Gets Reamed by The New York Times -- Even Though the Writer Works for The Times

The New York Times panned a new book by one of its own reporters, Brian Stelter, who wrote about the morning television wars in "Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The story reports: "Stelter is a brazenly ambitious 27-year-old who has harnessed the power of new media so efficiently, it once led veteran Times columnist David Carr to call him 'a robot assembled to destroy me.'"

The review is written by Ed Bark, a former television critic for the Dallas Morning News, with the newspaper going by its standard operating procedure of hiring an outside critic to review a book by one of its employees, The Reporter points out.

Here's how Bark's review in The Times starts out:

"Brian Stelter’s book on the nefarious network morning show wars ends up being like a breakfast made not quite to order.

"The eggs over easy have one hard yolk, and the bacon’s a little limp. The toast is well-buttered but burned, and the coffee’s short on heat. Edible? Yes. Fulfilling? Not quite."

The review, which also points out that Stelter is "just 27," calls the book "plain silly" with "more than a little overblown prose." It also compares the book to Bill Carter's 1994 book "The Late Shift," with Stelter's book coming off worse for the comparison. Carter is also a New York Times writer.

Bark writes, "What Mr. Carter had that Mr. Stelter doesn’t is an economy of words, grander Hollywood stages and (as Mr. Carter noted in his acknowledgments) the full cooperation of the star players."

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Tension on the Set Leads to Shakeup for ABC Drama

An ABC drama series is undergoing a big change behind the scenes, with the show’s creator stepping down. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that "Revenge" creator Mike Kelley, who serves as executive producer and showrunner, is stepping down.

Kelley may stay on as a consultant, the report notes.

"Kelley called the departure, which comes at the end of his current contract, 'a difficult mutual decision' between him and 'Revenge' producer ABC Studios,” Andreeva writes.

She adds: "I hear Kelley, who created the cult CBS drama 'Swing Town' before taking a crack at a female-driven contemporary take on 'The Count of Monte Cristo' with 'Revenge,' had been lobbying for shorter seasons for the heavily serialized drama. From the get-go, he had argued with ABC and ABC Studios that 'Revenge' was much better suited for cable-style orders instead of the standard broadcast 22-episode seasons."

Andreeva also notes: "I hear the pressure to churn out 22 episodes a season while maintaining the quality has taken a toll, sometime causing tension on the set and ultimately leading to Kelley’s decision to move on."


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1960s Blunder in 'Mad Men' Gets Fans, Well, Mad

Fans of "Mad Men" pointed out a history mistake in the show's Sunday episode, when Joan Harris asks a friend whether she wants her to make a reservation at Le Cirque for them. The show is set in 1969, and Le Cirque didn't open until 1974, reports the New York Post.

Fans flooded social-media sites to point out the error, the story says. The show has made other history flubs before, including last season's first episode, which was set in 1966 and featured Dusty Springfield's "The Look of Love," which wasn't released until 1967.


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Renewal Predicted for NBC Drama

A freshman NBC drama series is likely to be renewed for a second season, according to creator and executive producer Dick Wolf, who talked about “Chicago Fire.” Wolf said he's looking "at the remainder of this season as a jumping-off point for next season," reports Deadline.com.

Wolf, who spoke at NBC Summer Press Day, also expressed doubt about creating a storyline that would pay homage to the responders of last week's Boston Marathon bombing.

“Dealing with terrorism is very, very tough -- that’s all I’m gonna say,” Wolf said. He added, “The last thing we want to do is exploit a tragedy that is so specific that it would be difficult.”

Wolf also said he's hoping "Law & Order: SVU" will return for a 15th season.


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Why Netflix Says It Won't Renew Deal With Viacom; Plus Netflix Considering New Subscription Option

Netflix said in a letter to investors that it won't renew its deal with Viacom, which expires at the end of May, reports Deadline.com.

“We are in discussions with them about licensing particular shows but have yet to conclude a deal,” wrote CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells.

The execs cited Netflix's desire to "focus on exclusive and curated content," saying the company isn't as eager to pay for "non-exclusive, bulk content deals.”

Netflix also said it will offer a deal that could appeal to large families, with a subscription rate of $11.99 per month that allows subscribers to stream up to four shows at once. The service currently sells for $7.99 per month and allows two streams.


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From Forbes: The Billionaires Who Will Likely Bid for the Los Angeles Times, and Their Chances of Winning

Forbes staff writer Jeff Bercovici has compiled a list of the billionaires who will likely bid for the Los Angeles Times newspaper, and has estimated the odds of them actually getting the paper.

First, the players. According to the article, they are Charles and David Koch, Rupert Murdoch, Eli Broad and Ron Burkle, David Geffen, and Warren Buffett.

Here's how Bercovici handicaps each billionaire's chances:

The Koch brothers -- Even odds

Rupert Murdoch -- 3 to 1 against

Eli Broad and Ron Burkle -- 4 to 1 against

David Geffen -- 20:1

Warren Buffett -- 50:1

We urge you to click on the link above and read the reasons Bercovici handicaps each of the players as he has.

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Aereo Maps Out Plan to Expand Into Boston

Aereo, the Web startup that has quickly become a thorn in the side of U.S. broadcasters, revealed today that it will soon expand to Boston. Reuters reports that the company set a May 15 target date.

“Backed by Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp, Aereo plans to launch first with consumers who pre-registered and then more broadly to the Boston area on May 30,” Reuters reports. The service has so far been offered only in New York.

“The company has caught the attention of the likes of News Corp.'s Fox, Walt Disney's ABC, CBS Corp. and Comcast's NBC because it offers people cut-rate subscriptions to their channels,” the report notes. “The broadcasters collect millions of dollars in fees from cable operators to carry their stations. Aereo does not pay anything to the broadcasters.”

In a lawsuit against Aereo filed by companies including News Corp. and Disney, a U.S. appeals court declined earlier this month to temporarily shut down the service, the piece notes.

“Meanwhile the broadcasters have upped the ante: Fox is threatening to remove itself from the free airwaves and become a cable channel if the courts do not shut down Aereo,” the report adds.


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Reese Witherspoon Cancels TV Appearances Following Her Arrest

Actress Reese Witherspoon has canceled television appearances on shows including "Good Morning America" and "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" following her embarrassing arrest with her husband, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

As previously reported, Witherspoon and her husband, CAA agent James Toth, were arrested and briefly jailed early Friday morning. Toth is facing a DUI charge, while Witherspoon was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge after reportedly disobeying instructions from the arresting officer.

Among the things she allegedly said to the officer were, "Do you know my name?" and "You're about to find out who I am," according to reports. Witherspoon apologized for her behavior late Sunday, blaming "one drink too many."

Witherspoon skipped her TV appearances on Monday following the embarrassing episode, although her co-star in the movie "Mud," Matthew McConaughey, went on with planned interviews on "GMA," "The View" and "Late Show with David Letterman."

Thumbnail image for reese-witherspoon.jpg

Reese Witherspoon

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TV Ad Spending Nears Milestone, Even as DVRs Post Gains

Both TV ad spending and DVR penetration posted gains in 2012, even as DVRs continue to be cited as a problem for TV advertisers.

MediaPost reports that 46% of homes are now estimated to have a DVR, up 9% from the previous TV season, according to an annual report from Nielsen. The research firm estimates U.S. ad spending in the television market in 2012 at $76.5 billion, up 6.5% from 2011.

“Without spending attached to an Olympics or federal elections, the growth rate likely won’t be as robust this year, but a less than 5% increase would still propel the total market beyond $80 billion,” the story reports. “Reality TV continues to deserve some credit. Last year, nearly 40% of all ad dollars were spent in prime time. While drama programming drew the most of any genre at $7.8 billion, the $5.6 billion spent in reality TV dwarfed the $2.7 billion for comedies.”

Nielsen also comes to the unsurprising conclusion that the higher a household’s income, the more likely it is to have a DVR -- for homes with income of $100,000 or higher, DVR penetration is 70%; for homes in the $75,000-$100,000 range, penetration is 60%.

Penetration is growing fastest in households with income of $30,000 or less, where 25% of homes have DVRs, up almost 13%.

“If last year’s growth rates repeat themselves, about 60% of homes with incomes of $50,000 or more will have a DVR by the time new shows launch in the fall,” the piece reports. “Meanwhile, for all the talk about gaming consoles -- Microsoft and Nintendo are marketing them as entertainment hubs -- growth declined in the past year, albeit by only 0.2%. Data shows 45% of homes have one.”

Prime-time TV viewing is highest in the under $30,000 household income category, with an average of one hour, 23 minutes per night. In households with $100,000 and higher income the figure is slightly more than one hour.

The story adds: “Time-shifted viewing is growing in all income segments. The daily average rose from 21 minutes to 25 among the $30,000-$50,000 income segment -- the most for any group.”

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News Corp. to Pay $139 Million to Settle Lawsuits

News Corp.'s board agreed to pay $139 million to settle shareholder lawsuits accusing the directors of ignoring illegal conduct at the media conglomerate, including phone hacking by some employees, reports Bloomberg.

Insurance covering the company's board, including Chairman Rupert Murdoch, will pay the settlement, which will go into the company's accounts instead of going to individual investors, the story says.

The piece notes, "As part of the settlement, News Corp. officials agreed to tighten oversight of the company’s operations and set up an anonymous whistle-blower’s hotline for tips about misconduct, according to Delaware Chancery Court filings. Shareholders who sued alleged the board’s lax oversight allowed wrongdoing to flourish at the company and harmed its stock price."

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Netflix Gains 2 Million New Members, Sees New Series Driving Growth

Netflix said Monday it added 2 million new members in the first quarter, prompting its stock to jump 26% in after-hours trading, reports Bloomberg.

Netflix also gave a promising bit of information about its new series, "Hemlock Grove," a science-fiction thriller that debuted April 19. The service said the show was viewed by more members globally in its first weekend than "House of Cards," which has earned positive reviews and generated buzz.

"Long term, we believe the value of our original series in driving acquisition and retention improvements will be borne out as we add more seasons of already popular shows like 'House of Cards' and further series," Chief Executive Reed Hastings said in a letter to shareholders, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The company reported revenue of more than $1 billion in the first quarter, up 18% from a year earlier. It also posted a profit of $2.7 million, compared with a loss of $4.6 million in the year-earlier period.

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Mark Burnett Cutting a Version of 'The Bible' for Movie Theaters

History's popular 10-part miniseries "The Bible" may soon be playing at your local movie house, with producer Mark Burnett telling The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed that he's cutting a movie version.

The project is "a three-hour version of Jesus and [we have] many, many offers from theaters globally," Burnett said. The big focus of the edited film version would be the Resurrection, the story says. He's targeting a fall release.

"The Bible" premiered with 13.1 million viewers in early March and ended on Easter Sunday with 11.7 million viewers. Burnett credited God with the success.

"It's a God voice," Burnett said. "It's clearly a calling; clearly, we felt it was something we had to do, and too many things happened to explain it any other way. It's a juggernaut, and it's not going to slow down."

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FX Developing Drama Based on Real-Life 1950s-1960s L.A. 'Fixer' Who Investigated Death of Marilyn Monroe

[Updated at 10:50 a.m., PT on 4/23/13 to make it clear that this is a drama pitch that FX is developing. It's not an order for a show.]

FX has bought a drama pitch from James Ellroy, the author of "L.A. Confidential," and producers Joe Roth and Clark Peterson, reports Deadline.com.

The project is based on Ellroy's 2012 novella "Shakedown," set in Los Angeles during the 1950s and featuring the city's top informant and fixer, Fred Otash, a fictionalized version of the Hollywood vice cop who later became a private detective, the story says.

Otash, who died in 1992, is known for, among other things, being hired by Peter Lawford to investigate the 1962 death of Marilyn Monroe.

Ellroy is writing "Shakedown" and if the idea goes to series, he will executive produce it with Roth, Peterson, Steven Hoban and Palak Patel for FX Productions, the story says. Two years ago, Ellroy developed the police drama "Throwdown Gun" for FX.

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Nancy Dubuc to Take Over Day-to-Day Operations of A+E Nets as New President and CEO of the Company. Abbe Raven Becomes Chairman

Nancy Dubuc, who has had an amazingly successful period running various A+E networks -- including Lifetime, the History Channel and A&E -- has been named the company's president and CEO. She replaces Abbe Raven, who moves up to become chairman of the company, which is a newly created post.

Dubuc will take over the day-to-day operations of the A+E Networks. Raven will be on the lookout for long-term business and revenue opportunities. The new positions start June 1. Dubuc is currently  president, entertainment and media, A+E Networks.

Anne Sweeney, who runs the Disney/ABC TV Group, and Steven Swartz, who is the president and CEO of Hearst Corp -- and who are both on the A+E Networks' board -- said in a joint statement, "Abbe and Nancy have enjoyed one of the most successful partnerships in our business. Together, over the last several years, they have built some of the strongest brands in media. We look forward to the company’s next chapter as Abbe becomes chairman and Nancy steps into her expanded new role as president and CEO and leads the company into the future.”

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Richie Havens, Folk Singer Extraordinaire -- Who Was the Opening Act at Woodstock -- Dead at 72

"Richie Havens, 72, the veteran folk singer whose frenetic guitar strumming and impassioned vocals made him one of the defining voices and faces of Woodstock, and by extension, of 1960s pop music, died Monday of a heart attack at his home in New Jersey, his publicist said in a statement," reports Randy Lewis at the website of the Los Angeles Times.

Lewis adds that Havens' "performance of 'Freedom/Motherless Child' [at Woodstock] embodied the sense of frustration at the strictures of the social status quo and looming liberation being felt by blacks and whites, men and women during an era of tremendous sociopolitical turmoil."

The article also says: "Reviewing Havens' performance at the Troubadour in West Hollywood about a year before Woodstock, Times staff writer Pete Johnson wrote, 'He sings in a lispy rasping voice which by all odds should be unappealing and flails the strings of his guitar with an energy which belies sensitivity, but the perofrmance and the man remain inarguably beautiful.'"

According to the Billboard obituary, Havens "sang at President Bill Clinton's inauguration in January of 1993, and a decade later he received the American Eagle Award form the National Music Council. He collaborated with the electronic duo Groove Armada on 'Hands in Time' for the 'Collateral' film soundtrack, and he's worked with Genesis members Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett, blues artist Bill Perry and with David Letterman CBS Orchestra drummer Anton Fig. Havens published an autobiography, 'They Can't Hide Us Anymore,' in 2000 and was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006.

"Havens is survived by four daughters, five grandchildren and at least one great-grandchild. Through his publicist, Haven's family has asked 'for privacy during this difficult time' but promised that 'a public memorial will be planned for a later date.'"

Here are two must-see videos of Havens singing. The first is from Woodstock. The second is his version of Bob Dylan's "Just Like a Woman":

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Allison Waldman, Who Was a Superfan of Barbra Streisand's and a Major Contributor to TVWeek, Has Died. Said Streisand: Allison 'was always wonderful to me. She was dedicated to the accuracy of the news, and she shaped her stories with great style.'

[We here at TVWeek are deeply saddened by the death of Allison Waldman, who has been a contributor for us since 2008. Allison wrote bylined pieces for our NewsPro periodicals, and also contributed daily to the myriad articles we aggregate. The following obituary was written by Tom Gilbert, our former executive editor, who knew Allison for almost 40 years.]

Allison J. Waldman, entertainment writer and author and regular contributor to TVWeek.com and NewsPro, died Monday, April 15, near Miami, Fla., after a long battle with cancer. She was 56.

Thumbnail image for allison-waldman.jpg

Waldman, also known by her married name, Allison Solow, was a preeminent Barbra Streisand authority and the author of the books "The Barbra Streisand Scrapbook" (Citadel, 2001) and the self-published "Barbra Memories." An avid, lifelong Streisand fan, she created and maintained The Barbra Files (thebarbrafiles.com), an authoritative clearing house of information about the life and career of Streisand. She also presented a weekly YouTube videocast, "Sunday With Ally," which became very popular with Streisand fans worldwide, owing to her chatty, personal style in enthusiastically delivering the latest information about Streisand's career.

Said Streisand on her website, "I knew Allison over the years as a very good writer and a kind and loyal fan of mine who created and wrote "The Barbra Files" magazine and "The Barbra Streisand Scrapbook"... she was always wonderful to me. She was dedicated to the accuracy of the news she conveyed, and she shaped her stories with great style.

"I was so happy to finally get to meet Allison at my Brooklyn concert this past Fall and to be able to thank her personally for her encouragement and dedication.

"I extend to her family and friends my heartfelt sympathies. She will be certainly missed by all of us."

Chuck Ross, managing director of TVWeek, said, "We are a small family here at TVWeek. Allison was a core contributor of ours, and her courage in battling her cancer was extraordinary. We extend our deepest condolences to her family. We will miss her greatly."

Waldman also wrote "The Bette Midler Scrapbook" (Citadel, 1997). She previously had been an editor for Soap Opera Update magazine, and was a weekly columnist on SoapCentral.com, in addition to being an editor for AOL TV and TVSquad.com.

Waldman is survived by her husband, Leslie Solow, three sisters, a brother and numerous nieces and nephews.

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'X Factor' Dumps One of Its Cast Members

Fox’s singing competition “The X Factor” is dumping one of its regular cast members. The network confirmed that it is scrapping co-host Khloe Kardashian, the New York Post reports.

Co-host Mario Lopez will be back. The show’s producers released a statement saying: “Khloe Kardashian will not be returning to co-host ‘The X Factor.’ We really enjoyed working with her and wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”

Simon Cowell said in a statement: “I’m thrilled Mario is back for Season Three of ‘The X Factor.’ Hosting a live show and keeping the judges -- especially Demi [Lovato] -- in line, is not an easy job, but Mario is a pro and we are glad he’s coming back.”

The Post notes: “Kardashian came to the show with no TV hosting experience and often appeared nervous and unprepared on camera.”

The piece notes that it is unclear whether a new co-host will be named, or whether Lopez will remain as a solo host.

“So far, Cowell and Lovato are coming back to judge contestants for season three,” the report adds. “Britney Spears exited the show in January and L.A. Reid bailed in December.”

Thumbnail image for khloe-kardashian-x-factor.jpg

Khloe Kardashian


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Update on the F-Bomb-Spewing Rookie TV News Guy: He's Now an Internet Sensation ... Oh Yeah -- And He's Been Fired

Things have been happening fast in the life of wannabe TV news guy A.J. Clemente, and not in a good way. No sooner did he get his big break in the business -- landing a job as weekend co-anchor on Bismarck, N.D., station KFYR-TV -- when he screwed it up in his first two seconds on-air with a couple of expletives, became a viral video joke ... and according to a report by TMZ.com, got himself fired.

We reported earlier today on his unfortunate on-air incident, which you can read about here. Click to that story to see the video of Clemente’s first-day disaster.

TMZ reports: “A.J.'s superiors didn't waste any time cutting him loose -- he tweeted this morning, saying he'd been canned over the flub. He wrote, ‘Rookie mistake. I'm a free agent. Can't help but laugh at myself and stay positive. Wish i didnt trip over my “Freaking Shoes” out of the gate.’"

Clemente's story has been picked up by hundreds of media outlets, with the video clip rapidly gaining momentum on YouTube and other Internet sites. 

Adds TMZ: "Welcome to the viral video hall of fame, pal.”

Meanwhile, Fox News reports that Clemente has been gaining support online. Users added comments on the station's Facebook page urging KFYR to keep him in the lineup.

One user wrote: “While this is definitely spreading across the country, please consider not firing him. The kid screwed up big time, but he shouldn't have to have his early career ruined because of it, especially after moving all the way to North Dakota from West Virginia.”

Another wrote: “I really don't think suspension is going to help anything. The kid is super green, and he needs practice more than anything. If you yank him off the air immediately, that's going to create a huge obstacle for him to climb. You hired him. He needs to know he has the support of his station when he makes a mistake. Not to have the carpet pulled out beneath him. Get him back on the air, so he can learn from this and get better.”


A.J. Clemente

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Series That Survived on Cable After Being Canceled on Broadcast: Canceled Again

A series that had two separate lives -- first on broadcast and a second incarnation on cable -- appears to have run out of chances. Comedy Central announced today that it is canceling “Futurama,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

The animated series from “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening will end when its seventh season concludes Sept. 4. The 13-episode season premieres June 19.

The show initially ran on Fox for four seasons, from 1999-2003. Comedy Central brought it back in 2008 for what will turn out to be another three seasons.

Guest voices for season seven will include Larry Bird, Sarah Silverman, George Takei, Adam West, Burt Ward and the voice of Homer Simpson, Dan Castellaneta.

The Times report notes: “Perhaps because of ‘Futurama's’ ability to transcend death before, co-creator Matt Groening's statement seemed to have a less-than-final air about it. ‘I'm very proud of the upcoming season. If this is indeed the end of “Futurama,” it's a fantastic finish to a good, long run,’ he said.”

“The Simpsons” is due back on Fox for its 25th season this fall.


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NBC Sports Announcer Arrested

An announcer who has been a fixture of TV sports for decades was arrested over the weekend. The Associated Press reports that "Sunday Night Football" announcer Al Michaels was arrested Friday night on suspicion of drunken driving.

Michaels, 68, was pulled over in Santa Monica at about 9:30 p.m. Friday after officers reportedly saw him make an illegal U-turn, the story says. He was taken the station, where his blood alcohol level reportedly was found to be over the legal limit.

"We are aware of the situation and we've been in contact with Al," an NBC Sports spokesman said. "We have no further comment at this time."

"An Emmy Award winner and broadcaster on 'Sunday Night Football,' the 68-year-old Michaels spent nearly three decades at ABC Sports before moving to NBC in 2007," the story reports. "Michaels worked NFL games and other sports for ABC, and called 'Monday Night Football' for nearly 20 years. He also is known for his call of the U.S.-Soviet Union 'Miracle on Ice' game at the 1980 Winter Olympics and the earthquake-interrupted Game 3 of the 1989 World Series."

Michaels, who received the Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting last year, was ordered to appear in court June 26, the story notes.

al-michaels-pic.jpgAl Michaels

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Video: Bad First Day on the Job for Rookie News Anchor -- He Gets Himself Suspended After Filling the Airwaves With F-Bomb and More

A TV newsman making his debut as weekend co-anchor for a local TV station had what can only be called a disastrous first day on the job.

EW.com reports: “Newly minted news anchor A.J. Clemente must have been excited about hosting the weekend news for KFYR-TV in Bismarck, N.D. for the very first time this Sunday. Unfortunately, his anticipation manifested in just about the worst way possible. Right before he first appeared on air, Clemente -- apparently unaware that his mic was on -- was practicing saying ‘Tsegaye Kebede’ out loud. The London Marathon winner‘s name proved difficult for Clemente to wrap his head around -- which prompted the anchor to mutter “f---in’ sh--” to himself, rattling both his co-anchor Van Tieu and the fine, honest folk of the Peace Garden State.”

After being introduced by his co-anchor, Clemente made contact with the camera and made an awkward attempt to soldier on.

KFYR later released a statement apologizing for the incident and saying Clemente had been suspended. Clemente also tweeted an apology.

Here’s the clip:

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Lead Singer for Well-Known Rock Band Dies

The lead singer of a rock band that gained international success with a 1991 hit song has died. People magazine reports that Chrissy Amphlett, lead singer of the Divinyls, died Sunday at her home in New York at 53.

Amphlett’s husband, musician Charley Drayton, released a statement saying: "Christine Joy Amphlett succumbed to the effects of breast cancer and multiple sclerosis, diseases she vigorously fought with exceptional bravery and dignity.”

He added: "Chrissy's light burns so very brightly. Hers was a life of passion and creativity. She always lived it to the fullest. With her force of character and vocal strength, she paved the way for strong, sexy, outspoken women.”

People reports: “In 1980, Amphlett formed the Divinyls with musicians Mark McEntee and Jeremy Paul. The band would go on to release six albums between 1982 and 1996. In 1991, the single ‘I Touch Myself’ topped the charts, reaching No. 1 in Amphlett's native Australia and No. 4 in the United States.

“A talented actress, Amphlett also played Judy Garland in the original production of ‘The Boy from Oz,’ World News Australia reports.”

Amphlett battled health problems in recent years, announcing in 2007 that she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She revealed in 2010 that she had also been diagnosed with breast cancer.

chrissy-amphlett.jpgChrissy Amphlett

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Death on Chinese TV Show Could Have Repercussions for U.S. Series -- Both Shows Are Based on the Same Dutch Format

The death of one of the personalities participating in a Chinese television program could have an impact on a troubled U.S. series.

Deadline.com reports that Peng Jiaxuan, assistant to martial artist Shi Xiaolong on China’s "Celebrity Splash China," drowned Friday during a training session for the show. Both the Chinese program and ABC's “Splash” are versions of a show that originally aired in Holland.

“Splash” has had its own problems lately, with the most recent being an injury last week to contestant Nicole Eggert. The New York Daily News reports that the former “Baywatch” beauty, 41, had a bad landing while trying a complicated maneuver that included multiple backflips. Eggert tweeted later that she suffered swelling and bruising on her back and kidneys.

"’Splash’ has lost two cast members to injury over its run. Swimsuit model Katherine Webb, 23, quit the show over a back injury, and ‘Chelsea Lately’ sidekick Chuy Bravo backed out of the program because of a fractured heel,” the Daily News report notes. “Skier Rory Bushfield remained on the show after rupturing an eardrum during a dive. Former Playboy star Kendra Wilkinson left 'Splash' over her fear of heights.”

Additionally, Deadline reports that participant Louie Anderson suffered bruised ribs during training for “Splash.”

This is all on a freshman ABC reality show that has been sinking in the ratings, as we reported last week. Tuesday’s installment hit an all-time low with an anemic 1.1 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights.

Whether the death on the Chinese diving show will convince ABC to rethink its seemingly doomed series remains to be seen, but the news appears to be generating increasingly harsh criticism of “Splash” in online comments.

nicole-eggert.png“Splash’s” Nicole Eggert

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Why Ellen DeGeneres and Her Longtime Manager Have Parted Ways

Popular daytime television host Ellen DeGeneres has parted ways with her longtime manager, who was credited with helping her stage a comeback after her sitcom was canceled in 1998, reports Nikki Finke at Deadline.com.

DeGeneres had asked for an agreement to "cap" Eric Gold's earnings -- putting a maximum amount on his earnings from DeGeneres -- but Gold declined the offer, the story reports.

DeGeneres has reportedly earned about half a billion dollars from her 10-year-old syndicated daytime talk show "Ellen," as well as endorsements (such as her deal with J.C. Penney) and other activities, the story notes.

Some claim that Gold didn't help make "Ellen" better, in that he didn't deliver guests and wasn't on set, the story says. But others say he deserves credit for helping DeGeneres bounce back in a big way after her ABC comedy series ended.

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Drama Series Remains in Limbo

The future of a cable drama series remains uncertain, after the show wrapped production six months ago and aired the finale for its second season more than a month ago. Nellie Andreeva writes on Deadline.com that ABC Family's teen-focused "The Lying Game" remains in limbo, with the network contemplating its future.

"Complicating things is the fact that the options on the cast are up this week,” Andreeva writes. “I hear ABC Family asked 'The Lying Game' producer Warner Horizon to extend the options on cast as the cable network wants to see how its summer series launch before making a decision on 'The Lying Game.' That is easier said than done as the extension process involves a slew of actors with virtually no assurances that the extra hold will lead to a renewal."

The initial offer from Warner Horizon was rejected by the actors, but now lead actress Alexandra Chando has signed and Blair Redford is in negotiations. The other actors are in discussions, the story notes.

Andreeva adds, "But as frustrating [as] ABC Family’s silence has been for 'The Lying Game' team, they are not alone. Also anxiously awaiting word on renewal is fellow bubble series 'Bunheads' whose freshman season ended more than two months ago. ABC Family will likely make a decision on both series around the same time."

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How Did CNN Perform During the Boston Bombing Coverage? Jeff Zucker Offers His Opinion

CNN, which has been roundly criticized for mistakes in its coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing, got some kudos from one of its own, reports TheWrap.

CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker sent an internal memo Friday that praised the network for its coverage, the story notes.

As previously reported, Jon Stewart took aim at CNN for airing what turned out to be a false report of an arrest in the bombing.

Zucker wrote, "For journalists like each of us, these are the times that define what we do and why we do it. All of you, across every division of CNN Worldwide, have done exceptional work. And when we made a mistake, we moved quickly to acknowledge it and correct it."

He added, "Now, as the week comes to a close, I wanted to express my deep gratitude and admiration. You have worked tirelessly, around the clock, to share these stories. And our audiences have responded, making it clear that they rely on us in ever increasing ways. In front of the cameras and behind the scenes, you have shown the world what makes us CNN."

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Will MTV's Canceled 'Buckwild' Show Up on Other Networks? Don't Count on It

MTV is blocking "Buckwild" producers from shopping the show to other networks, with producer J.P. Williams criticizing the network for the decision, calling it "the most hypocritical network out there," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The reality series was canceled earlier this month following the death of Shain Gandee, one of the stars of the West Virginia-based show.

Williams had planned to shop the show to other networks following MTV's cancellation, the story says. "Williams, who also manages most of the show's cast members, now says there was interest from other cable networks but MTV's top execs Van Toffler and Susanne Daniels refused to let the property go. He's upset by the decision," the story says.

"Van and Susanne can keep promoting pre-martial sex and promoting leaving the baby after you have it [on 'Teen Mom']. I'm so glad they have found their moral bar," Williams said.

MTV declined to comment, according to the story. The network controls rights to the show, and had been negotiating with Williams about the possibility of shopping it to other networks, but talks broke down Friday, the piece adds.

"Allowing 'Buckwild' to potentially succeed on another network might have been embarrassing for MTV, even if a deal could be worked out that allowed the network to share in revenue from the show," the piece notes.

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FCC Chief Gives Blessing to Ballplayer's On-Air F-Bomb in Boston

The Federal Communications Commission gave its blessing to an F-bomb dropped on-air by the Boston Red Sox’ designated hitter David Ortiz, who gave a rousing speech as the team returned to Fenway Park on Saturday, its first game since the Boston Marathon bombing, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"After thanking Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick and the city’s police department, Ortiz yelled 'This is our f---ing city!' Ortiz added: 'And nobody's going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong,'" the story reports.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski tweeted that Ortiz "spoke from the heart at today's Red Sox game. I stand with Big Papi and the people of Boston."

Ortiz's speech came a day after the surviving suspect in the bombing was taken into custody.

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CNN, Fox News in Ratings Battle Over Coverage of Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect's Capture

The numbers are in for cable news coverage of Friday’s closely watched manhunt in the Boston Marathon bombing, and it’s a split decision. Deadline.com reports that Fox News Channel pulled in more total viewers while CNN won the key news demo.

“Over half a million more viewers Friday night tuned to Fox News Channel over CNN as news broke that the manhunt for the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing was over,” the story reports. “In the 7 p.m. ET hour, Fox News had 5.748 million viewers compared to CNN’s 5.195 million. However, the Jeff Zucker-run network bested the News Corp.-owned FNC in the key adults 25-54 demographic during the crucial hour Friday; CNN had 2.322 million in the demo to FNC’s 1.574 million. MSNBC was third in viewership and the demo with 1.429 million watching and 459,000 in 25-54.”

Viewership on Fox News peaked during the 8 p.m. hour with 7.645 million tuned in, to CNN’s 6.784 million.

“Over the night’s 8-11 p.m. prime time, FNC had 5.970 million viewers (1.926 million in the demo) to CNN’s 5.371 million (2.474 million in 25-54) and MSNBC’s 1.717 million (459,000 in demo),” the report adds.


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'American Idol' Producer Working on A Cappella Series

The production company behind "American Idol" is working on an a cappella singing competition that will be focused on college students, reports Deadline.com.

19 Entertainment and its parent company, CORE Media Group, have signed an agreement with Varsity Vocals, the a cappella varsity organization that organizes an international competition for the unaccompanied style of singing, the story says.

The deal will develop a show built around the competition and the college students who compete. The deal comes on the heels of the success of "Pitch Perfect," a film about an all-girl college a cappella group, the piece notes.

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'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' Veteran Joins Syfy Series

One of the stars of the cult favorite "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is joining a Syfy drama series. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Anthony Head, who played Rupert Giles on ‘Buffy,” has been cast in a major recurring role on "Warehouse 13."

Head will appear in the last three episodes of the show's season 4.5, playing the villain Paracelsus. Although the character's name was given out, details are being kept quiet, the story says.

Head recently portrayed Uther Pendragon in "Merlin," which airs on Syfy in the U.S., and has been cast in the CW drama pilot "The Selection."

Thumbnail image for anthony-head.jpgAnthony Head

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Reese Witherspoon and Her Husband Arrested. Tipsy Witherspoon Boasts to Arresting Officer: 'Do you know my name? You're about to find out who I am'

"Reese Witherspoon and her husband, CAA agent James Toth, were arrested and briefly jailed early Friday morning in Atlanta, GA," reports Variety.

The story continues, "While Toth is facing a DUI charge after driving in the wrong lane, Witherspoon was also arrested on a disorderly conduct charge according to a police report obtained by Variety. She was handcuffed after disobeying repeated instruction from the arresting officer, with whom she verbally sparred, to stay inside the vehicle."

The couple were later released on bond.

The story adds, "Toth was pulled over after midnight Friday driving a silver 2013 Ford Focus, which the officer witnessed weaving across a double line on Atlanta’s Peachtree St. Toth appeared disheveled and his breath smelled of alcohol, according to the police report, prompting the officer to administer a sobriety test."

About Witherspoon the story says, " 'Mrs. Witherspoon began to hang out the window and say that she did not believe that I was a real police officer,' according to the police report. 'I told Mrs. Witherspoon to sit on her butt and be quiet.' Once Toth was placed under arrest, Witherspoon exited the vehicle and was instructed to get back in the car. According to the report, she 'stated that she was a ‘US citizen’ and that she was allowed to ‘stand on American ground.’ ”

The report continues, "As the report details, 'Mrs. Witherspoon asked, 'Do you know my name?' I answered, 'No, I don’t need to know your name.' I then added, 'right now.' Mrs. Witherspoon stated, 'You’re about to find out who I am.' " 

The report also specified, “Mrs. Witherspoon also stated, ‘You are going to be on national news.’ I advised Mrs. Witherspoon that was fine."

According to USA Today, "Witherspoon released a statement late Sunday apologizing for her behavior. 'I clearly had one drink too many and I am deeply embarrassed about the things I said,' Witherspoon said. 'It was definitely a scary situation and I was frightened for my husband, but that is no excuse. I was disrespectful to the officer who was just doing his job. I have nothing but respect for the police and I'm very sorry for my behavior.' Witherspoon is in Atlanta filming 'The Good Lie.' "

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Twitter Accounts of '60 Minutes' and '48 Hours' and the News Account of One of CBS's Local Stations Were All Hacked Into on Saturday

The Twitter accounts of three CBS properties were hacked into on Saturday, April 20, 2013, according to a number of media stories. The accounts belonged to "60 Minutes," "48 Hours" and the local news operation of CBS affiliate KCNC-TV in Denver.

On Sunday, April 21, 2012,  All Things D wrote on its website, "We now know who it was that carried out the hacking attacks on the Twitter accounts of various CBS News outlets last night: The Syrian Electronic Army. It’s a band of digital activists and hackers who support the beleaguered government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The group, which claimed credit for the attacks via a statement on its website, has a history of attacking the websites and social media accounts of various western media organizations."

The story added, "CBS experienced at least one more attack last night after the initial one.The Verge captured images of three more tweets from the account belonging to its high-profile Sunday night magazine show '60 Minutes,' presumably sent by hijackers. Today, as of 8:15 am PT, the ''60 Minutes' Twitter account and that of another CBS show, '48 Hours,' were suspended."

The article also noted, "A Twitter account belonging to the Syrian Electronic Army has also been suspended, but, in what appears to be a rolling battle with Twitter, the group appears to have created a new one. It seems to be doing the same thing with Facebook, creating new accounts every time an old one is shut down."

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NBC Cancels Series

NBC has pulled the plug on a prime-time series. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the network canceled the dating series “Ready for Love” -- making the decision after only two episodes have aired.

The show’s Tuesday 10 p.m. slot will be filled through May 21 by “Grimm,” the story reports, with “Dateline” moving into “Grimm’s” Friday 9 p.m. slot starting next week.

“NBC noted it is unclear where or when the remaining episodes of the Eva Longoria-produced dating show will air,” the story reports. “’Ready for Love’ had an unimpressive bow April 10. Its two-hour debut bested recent showings in the time slot -- but dropped a half of a point in its second hour (from a 1.8 to a 1.3).”

Even with “The Voice” as its lead-in, the second episode of “Ready for Love” sank to a 1.2 average in the key 18-49 demo and 3.2 million total viewers, the piece notes.

The report adds: “The Tuesdays at 10 p.m. slot has been a problematic one for NBC following the February conclusion of ‘Parenthood.’ ‘Smash’ took over the slot and quickly tanked. The Broadway drama has been bounced to Saturdays and is considered highly unlikely to return for a third season.”


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TV Legend Suffering From Mysterious Ailment

A veteran actor who has been a television presence for decades says he’s dealing with a disturbing health problem that has him baffled. Malibu Patch reports that comedy legend Dick Van Dyke, 87, sent out a tweet Thursday about the problem.

Van Dyke tweeted: "My head bangs every time I lay down. I've had every test come back that I'm perfectly healthy. Anybody got any ideas?"

A spokesman for Van Dyke reportedly told “Entertainment Tonight” that the star of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” was suffering from "fatigue and lack of sleep resulting from symptoms of a yet-to-be diagnosed neurological disorder,” the report notes.

Van Dyke was reportedly resting Thursday at his home in Malibu, having canceled an appearance in New York.

“Van Dyke was scheduled to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award for Bettering Humanity through Comedy from New York's 92Y, but according to his spokesman, he's currently unable to attend any events requiring air travel,” the story reports. “Van Dyke explained on Twitter that the malady is not new. It has been going on for seven years and ... he's had ‘every test you can think of (CAT Scan, MRI, Spinal tap etc),’ and that he also has ‘very low blood pressure.’"

Besides his 1960s sitcom and the long-running CBS drama “Diagnosis: Murder,” Van Dyke is known for a long string of successful movies, including “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Mary Poppins” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

dick-van-dyke.pngDick Van Dyke

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'American Idol' Loses to a Rerun in Head-to-Head Ratings Battle

Fox’s flagship singing competition saw its ratings head south again Thursday night, as “American Idol” lost to a rerun in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “Idol” delivered a 2.9 average in 18-49, shedding 9% of its audience from a week ago. Airing opposite “Idol” at 8 p.m., a repeat episode of CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” eclipsed that number with a 3.0.

The CBS audience dwindled to a 2.3 in the second half of the hour for “Two and a Half Men,” as CBS aired an all-repeat lineup in prime time.

Fox still managed to eke out a win for prime time overall, even with “Glee” slipping 8% from last week to a 2.2 average in adults 18-49. Fox won the night with a 2.5 average, topping CBS’s 2.3 for its repeat programming. Univision checked in with a 1.5 average, followed by NBC with a 1.4 and ABC, which aired mostly repeats, with a 1.2.

CBS inched ahead in total viewers for prime time as a whole, averaging 9.2 million to Fox’s 9.1 million, followed by ABC with 4.0 million, Univision with 3.8 million and NBC with 3.2 million.

ABC’s only fresh program, “Wife Swap,” ticked up 7% in the 18-49 demo to a 1.5 average rating.

NBC had mostly fresh episodes, with two episodes of “Parks and Recreation” each delivering a 1.7 average in 18-49, both rising 13% from last week. “Community” also saw improvement, rising 8% to a 1.3, but “Hannibal” lost 18% to record a 1.4.

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NBC Pulls Episode of Drama Series as Boston Bombing Has Networks Re-Examining Programs

TV programmers are feeling the repercussions of the Boston Marathon bombing, with NBC the latest network to make a programming move related to the attack.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the network pulled an especially violent episode of the freshman drama “Hannibal” that had been scheduled to air next week.

The episode, the series’ fourth, “includes such disturbing content as a character played Molly Shannon persuading children to kill other children,” the story reports. “The decision to shelve the episode originally was suggested by series creator Bryan Fuller. And while the episode still will run overseas, there are no plans for a stateside bow.”

A rep for NBC confirmed to THR that “Hannibal” will now conclude its season one week earlier than previously planned, wrapping June 20.

ABC announced previously that it was rescheduling an episode of “Castle” with a bomb theme, as we reported yesterday. THR notes: “The episode focuses on Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) triggering a pressure-sensitive bomb and spending the hour trying not to detonate it. The episode currently is planned for April 29, though it could be pushed back further.”

The report adds: “’Castle’ caused a stir elsewhere Thursday night, when TNT aired a syndicated episode of the series that featured another bomb storyline. The cable network has since apologized.”

Attention centered on an earlier episode of “Family Guy” soon after the Boston bombing, as we reported earlier this week. That episode, which directly referenced the Boston Marathon and also contained references to bombs, was pulled from the Web.

THR adds: “Fox also chose not to air a repeat of 'New Girl' that had its characters suspecting one of Jess' (Zooey Deschanel) students of a murderous plot.”

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Fox Series Is Picked Up for Two More Seasons

A popular Fox series will remain in the lineup for at least another two seasons. TheWrap.com reports that the network has renewed “Glee” for seasons five and six.

Fox Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly said in a statement: “'Glee' debuted as the first and only successful musical comedy series on television, and more than four years later, it continues to defy genres, break new ground and have a significant impact on popular culture.”

The report notes: “In March, the series celebrated its 500th performance with ‘Shout.’ This season, the series passed another milestone as several of its characters graduated and passed the New Directions torch to several new players.

“The series' soundtrack also continues to do well with music lovers. The show has more than 53 million songs downloaded and has sold more than 13 million albums worldwide, going platinum twice and gold five times.”

Oxygen said last week that it was waiting to hear about a “Glee” renewal before deciding the fate of its “Glee”-related reality competition “The Glee Project.” That show’s winners get a recurring role on the Fox show.

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CNN Anchor Says Erroneous Marathon Bombing Report Was His Fault

CNN continues to be a magnet for criticism over its coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing. The latest group to add its voice to the chorus is the NAACP, which expressed concern over CNN's erroneous report that a "dark-skinned male" was in custody in connection with the bombing, reports B&C.

In a tweet Thursday in response to the criticism, CNN anchor John King said he was responsible for the description, but denied that he's racist, the story says.

NAACP criticized the report on two fronts. First, the story was wrong, and second, the network used "an overly broad, unhelpful and potentially racially inflammatory categorization to describe the potential suspect," said NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous.

The organization asked CNN and other news outlets to "weigh the implications" of their characterizations, the piece notes.

In his tweet, King wrote, "Source of that description was a senior government official. And I asked, are you sure? But I'm responsible. What I am not is racist."

CNN released a statement about the report in which it said: "CNN had three credible sources on both local and federal levels. Based on this information we reported our findings. As soon as our sources came to us with new information we adjusted our reporting."


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'GMA' Host Robin Roberts Hospitalized

"Good Morning America" host Robin Roberts, explaining why she wasn't covering the Boston Marathon bombing, revealed on her Facebook page that she was hospitalized last week, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

She said that while she was on vacation in Key West she began to feel ill. She returned to New York, where she was admitted to the hospital for a few days. "Seems my young immune system needed a little boost to fight off 'opportunistic infections,'" she wrote.

Roberts said she would return to the show next week, and assured her fans that her hospitalization wasn't the result of returning to work too soon after her six-month medical leave and bone-marrow transplant.


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Al Jazeera May Buy Another U.S. Cable Network

Al Jazeera is considering buying another U.S. cable network, as the Qatar-based news network wants to move into the sports media market, reports the New York Post.

Al Jazeera, backed by the Qatar government, has an affiliate called beIN Sport that appears to have its sights set on the Tennis Channel, the story says. BeIN Sport is a global network of sports channels.

In January, Al Jazeera bought Current TV for $500 million.

A group of private equity firms own the Tennis Channel, which is said to be in play. Tennis Channel declined comment.


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Video: Morning Anchors Struggle to Interview Olympian -- Leaving One of Them in Tears

Olympic swimming champion Ryan Lochte, who was promoting his new E! show "What Would Ryan Lochte Do?," brought anchors of a Philadelphia morning show to tears and laughter with a silence-filled interview, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Lochte struggled to answer some questions during the interview on Fox-owned WTXF-TV, and when asked what kind of pickup line he would use on a woman, his response was five seconds of silence, which as The Reporter notes is "an eternity in live TV."

The anchors kept things together until they signed off with Lochte, and then they started laughing. Anchor Sheinelle Jones was brought to tears from laughing so hard.

The other anchor, Mike Jerrick, said incredulously, "Seriously, how are they gonna get enough material [for an entire season of the show]?"

Here’s the video:

Philadelphia News, Weather and Sports from WTXF FOX 29 more »

Classic Game Show Being Revived

Disney Channel is reviving a classic game show. Deadline.com reports that the channel is bringing aboard Justin Willman of "Cupcake Wars" to host an updated version of "Win, Lose or Draw."

The show will start production in July and is set to debut later this year, the story says. The show will feature two teams, each with two children as contestants and a Disney star, competing in a battle of drawing skills, the story says.

The original "Win, Lose or Draw" aired on NBC from 1987 to 1990 and in syndication, while Disney's "Teen Win, Lose or Draw" aired from 1989 to 1992.

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NBC Inks Deal With Well-Known Comedian

NBC is getting into business with a well-known comedian. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that NBC’s Universal TV entered into a first-look deal with Wanda Sykes.

The deal includes Sykes, Page Hurwitz's Push It Productions and Universal TV's alternative studio, the story says.

Sykes, a three-time Emmy winner, has starred in Fox's "The Wanda Sykes Show" and Comedy Central's "Wanda Does It," as well as a collection of comedy specials. She is also known for her recurring role on HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

wanda-sykes.jpgWanda Sykes

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TV News Outlets Focus on Boston as Rapidly Developing Bombing Story Has City on Virtual Lockdown -- One Suspect Dead, and a Massive Manhunt Under Way for Another

Broadcast news operations and cable news channels had a busy morning today trying to keep up with developments in the Boston Marathon bombing.

The news broke early this morning that one of the suspects in the bombing was dead following a shootout with police, while a second suspect remained at large and was the focus of a huge manhunt. Much of Boston was on a virtual lockdown as authorities issued a recommendation for residents to “shelter in place.”

Marathon suspect No. 1, who was seen wearing a black cap in photos released Thursday by the FBI, died early Friday morning after he and the second suspect engaged police officers in gunfire, the Boston Globe reported. The suspect was brought in to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center emergency room at about 1:10 a.m. with multiple traumatic injuries and was pronounced dead at 1:35 a.m. One officer was also reportedly killed in the shootout.

Information about the suspects -- brothers Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, who was still at large, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, who was killed -- continued to come in from a wide range of sources, with relatives and acquaintances surfacing and offering anecdotes and details about them in often chaotic TV interviews. The men were reportedly from the predominantly Muslim Chechnyan region of southern Russia, and had been living in the U.S. for several years.

Acquaintances from high school described the younger brother, the subject of the ongoing manhunt, as a normal American teenager, saying no signs were evident that he was capable of a bombing.

CNN, Fox News and MSNBC devoted their full attention to developments in Boston this morning, with many local TV stations around the U.S. also focused on the story. Broadcast news feeds from CBS, ABC and NBC filled the airwaves at many stations across the country.

As we approached deadline this morning in Los Angeles, a check of the coverage on local stations showed that the ABC, CBS and NBC stations were focused on the bombing story via network feeds while the local Fox station had coverage from Boston Fox station WFXT-TV.

Some L.A. stations opted to carry regular programming, with a live police pursuit in Thousand Oaks, Calif., capturing the spotlight for a while on a few stations. Meanwhile, Rachael Ray was cooking on KCAL-TV, while KCOP-TV aired “I Love Lucy.”

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George Lopez Headed Back to TV in Deal Modeled After 'Anger Management'

George Lopez is returning to television with a show that he sold to FX, reports EW.com's Inside TV. The show is called "Saint George."

The actor and comedian sold the project based on a model pioneered by distributor Debmar-Mercury for Tyler Perry sitcoms on TBS and by Charlie Sheen's comedy "Anger Management" on FX.

The deal is a "10/90" agreement, meaning that FX ordered 10 episodes and if they reach a ratings threshold, the network will automatically order 90 more.

"Saint George" is an ensemble comedy about a divorced Mexican-American who has become a successful entrepreneur, the story says.

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YouTube Scores Key Victory in Copyright Fight With Viacom

Google's YouTube has scored a victory in a legal battle over copyright infringement that was brought by Viacom, reports the Los Angeles Times.

A federal judge ruled that YouTube hasn't violated Viacom's copyright, even though users on the video site posted unauthorized clips from some of the cable giant's top programs, such as "SpongeBob SquarePants," the story says.

Viacom originally filed the suit in 2007, demanding $1 billion in damages.

The story reports: "U.S. District Judge Louis L. Stanton wrote in a 24-page opinion that YouTube was shielded from copyright infringement claims by a safe-harbor provision in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Stanton dismissed Viacom's lawsuit, and ordered Viacom to pay some of YouTube's costs."

Google's general counsel called the ruling "a win not just for YouTube, but for people everywhere who depend on the Internet to exchange ideas and information.”

Viacom vowed to appeal, the story adds.


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HBO Buys Drama Project From Popular Singer

In what is described as a competitive situation, pay-cable channel HBO has bought a drama project from popular singer-songwriter John Legend and producer-director Tony Krantz, reports Deadline.com.

The project, set in Miami's South Beach, is about the fame and secrets within three worlds -- the town's music, sports and fashion circles, the piece says.

Called "Down Lo," the story will track a gay rapper living on the "down low" as homosexuality isn't accepted in the hip-hop world. The project is written by playwright and writer Seth Zvi Rosenfeld, who is also producing with Krantz and Legend.


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Comedy Pilots Up and Running on Amazon -- Here's the Link

Amazon has launched a number of new comedy pilots online, making the programs from Amazon Studios available at amazonoriginals.com. As we reported yesterday, the website has been tweaking its rollout of new programs including “Zombieland” and “Alpha House.”

The pilots are reportedly available for viewing for free, with viewers who want to watch full seasons being required to sign up for Amazon Prime for $79 a year. They can be viewed using any Amazon Instant Video app.

Besides “Zombieland” and “Alpha House,” the comedy pilots that appeared to be up and running this morning were “Betas,” “Browsers,” “Onion News Empire,” “Those Who Can’t,” “Supanatural” and “Dark Minions.”

A number of pilots for children’s programs were also on the site, including “Annebots,” “Creative Galaxy,” “Positively Ozitively,” “Sara Solves It” and “Teeny Tiny Dogs.”

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New Kardashian Show Gets Premiere Date, Executive Producer

The latest television show from the Kardashian family is moving closer to becoming a reality. Deadline.com reports that family matriarch Kris Jenner now has both an executive producer and a premiere date for her syndicated talk show "Kris."

Twentieth Television named Robert Lifton as the executive producer. While he has 20 years of experience in TV, including creating and producing E!'s weekday program "Daily 10," he's a novice to syndicated talk shows, the story says.

The daytime show, expected to have a pop culture focus, will debut Monday, July 15, for a six-week summer trial on a number of Fox-owned stations.


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Showtime Pulls Plug on Long-Running Series

Showtime revealed its plan to shut down a long-running series that has been a staple on the pay-cable channel. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the channel made it official it will end “Dexter” after the upcoming season eight.

Showtime released a two-minute sneak peek video announcing “’Dexter’: The Final Season.” (See below for the video.) The drama series stars Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter.

The announcement is not a surprise, after CBS Corp. boss Leslie Moonves said in March that the show would wrap this year. But Showtime execs waited until today to go public with their plans.

In a statement released today, Showtime Chairman and CEO Matt Blank said: "When it debuted in 2006, ‘Dexter’ redefined the genre by taking the anti-hero to new heights and pushing the boundaries of the television landscape, ‘Dexter’ paved the way for the next generation of award-winning hit Showtime series and its cultural impact will be felt for years to come."

David Nevins, Showtime president of entertainment, commented: "’Dexter’ is a landmark franchise for our network and we cannot wait to unveil the conclusion of this series as we know it to the millions of passionate fans who have supported the show season after season. We'd like to thank Michael, Jennifer and ‘Dexter's’ indomitable cast, executive producers, writers and crew for eight incredible seasons."

The THR report notes: “Showtime will use ‘Dexter’ -- which was renewed a year ago for seasons seven and eight -- as a launching pad for ‘Ray Donovan,’ moving up its premiere from fall to summer for the first time come June. Season eight -- which will include the return of Yvonne Strahovski as Hannah -- will bow June 30 on Showtime.”

Here’s a sneak peek at season eight:

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Wednesday Ratings Showdown Between 'Idol' and 'Survivor'

Most of the programming on the major broadcast networks Wednesday night was recycled, but fresh installments of Fox’s “American Idol” and CBS’s “Survivor” waged a battle for supremacy in the 8 p.m. hour before CBS dipped into its bag of repeat programming starting at 9 p.m.

Based on Nielsen overnights, “Idol” was the winner in the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the two-hour singing competition delivered a 3.3 average, powering Fox to an easy win for prime time overall. “Idol” was up 3% in the demo from last week.

“Survivor” equaled last week’s 2.6 average in 18-49 as CBS settled for second place overall.

ABC’s “Suburgatory” wrapped up its season on a less-than-spectacular note with back-to-back episodes that produced a 1.5 average in viewers 18-49 for the 8 p.m. edition -- equaling the series’ all-time low -- followed by a slightly better but still ho-hum 1.7 for the season finale at 8:30. That number was 25% below what “The Middle” delivered last week in the time slot.

ABC also ran a fresh episode of “How to Live With Your Parents” at 9:30 and was rewarded with a 2.0 in the 18-49 demo, down 20% from last week.

NBC’s only original program was an hour of “Dateline” at 8 p.m., which trailed the competition with a 1.2 average in 18-49, equaling the show’s number from a week ago.

For prime time overall, Fox led the way with its 3.3 average in adults 18-49, followed by CBS (1.8 average), Univision (1.6), ABC (1.5) and NBC (1.1). Fox also had a comfortable lead in total viewers, averaging 12.4 million to CBS’s 7.7 million, ABC’s 4.8 million, NBC’s 4.4 million and Univision’s 3.7 million.

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Lorne Michaels Spills Secrets From Behind the Scenes of 'SNL'

Longtime “Saturday Night Live” executive producer Lorne Michaels isn’t exactly camera-shy, but he usually limits his appearances to brief cameos on his late-night show. He stepped out of character Tuesday when he was the center of attention at “Comedy on TV,” a newsmaker luncheon put on by the Hollywood Radio & Television Society.

TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin took in the event, moderated by Michaels protege Martin Short, and has the inside scoop on what went down. Click here to read her full report on the festivities -- including which comedian Michaels considers the one that got away.

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Style Media Takes Wraps Off Ambitious Development Slate

Style Media unveiled a broad development slate for 2013-2014, adding nine new series to its programming efforts, along with the previously announced “Glam Squad” (working title). Among the new series for the beauty, fashion and home design-oriented network are projects with the working titles “Crazy Beautiful,” “The Fabulist” and “Fashion Phenoms.”

Other new projects -- all with working titles -- include “Keep the Party Moving!,” “Matched by Design,” “Selita” and “Reconstructing Beverly Hills.”

Please click here to read details about these projects and the rest of the slate.

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Entertainers Loom Large on Time Magazine's List of the 100 Most Influential People

Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World is just out, and among the seven people deemed worthy of getting their own cover for the magazine are hip-hop mogul Jay Z and Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence.

Also the subject of cover stories are Aamir Khan, Sen. Rand Paul, Malala Yousafzai, Li Na and Elon Musk.

Other entertainers on the list -- though not getting the cover treatment -- include Lena Dunham, Shonda Rhimes, Beyonce and Justin Timberlake, the New York Daily News reports. Here are a few more: Steven Spielberg, Frank Ocean, Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon, along with Justin Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun.

President Obama made the list, as did Vice President Joe Biden. A few others include Pope Francis, Marissa Mayer, Susana Martinez, Gov. Chris Christie, Jenna Lyons, Alex Atala and Kim Jong-un. Kate Middleton and Gabrielle Giffords are on the list, along with Valerie Jarrett, Sheryl Sandberg, George Saunders and Michael Kors, among others.

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Canceled Sitcom Moves Online for 'Burnoff' Phase

Eight unaired episodes of a canceled comedy series will air online. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the episodes of ABC’s "Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23" will appear on ABC.com, iTunes and Hulu.

When the show, which starred Krysten Ritter and James Van Der Beek, was canceled in January it wasn't certain what would happen with the remaining episodes. The news of the burnoff plan was shared by Ritter, who wrote on Twitter that the episodes will become available May 17.

Both Ritter and Van Der Beek have booked pilots, the story notes. Ritter is filming the NBC comedy “Assistance,” while Van Der Beek is working on CBS’s comedy “Friends With Better Lives.”

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Longtime ABC Executive, Tech Pioneer, Dead at 63

A former ABC Television Network executive who was recognized as a technology pioneer has died. Deadline.com reports that Preston Davis died Monday at 63 following an illness.

Davis retired as president of broadcast operations and engineering in 2011, after working for 35 years at the network. Bob Iger promoted him in 1993 to lead ABC's broadcast operations and engineering, making him the first African-American president of any ABC division, the story notes.

Calling Davis a “technical pioneer,” Michael Grotticelli writes in Broadcast Engineering that Davis helped oversee ABC’s move from analog to digital and then to high-definition broadcasting. “During interviews I personally did with him at the time, around 1995-97, Davis looked at the significant technical challenges the transition to digital posed and calmly said, ‘We’ll get it done,’” Grotticelli writes.

He adds: “Typical of Davis’ ingenuity, during the 2000 Republican Convention in Philadelphia, then ABC News Executive Director Roger Goodman challenged Davis and his team with coming up with a way for the network correspondents to freely wander the convention floor and do live interviews. Davis' solution was called the ‘Teletubby.’ Worn by a cameraman, it was made up of a 15-inch Sharp LCD monitor attached to a Steadicam harness and outfitted with a wireless receiver from Global Microwave Services. It displayed the ABC programming output, which was transmitted to it by an RF antenna mounted in the rafters of the convention hall. Teleprompter information was displayed to correspondents on a QTV camera-mounted display of the type typically used in a studio configuration. The system made for a completely wireless one-cameraman band and provided the mobility Goodman was looking for.”

Goodman said at the time in an interview with Broadcasting & Cable: “Twenty years [before that], we would have built two control rooms as big as you'd find in any studio. It was spectacular.”

Grotticelli adds: “Davis also pioneered the use of fiber-optic paths to New York to remotely control coverage from the control room at ABC's New York City headquarters.”

Davis served in the U.S. Army as a specialist in communications technology and was a Vietnam War veteran. He was also involved in programs such as the Foundation for Minority Interests in Media.

preston-davis.jpgPreston Davis

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Now NBC's Plot to Oust Ann Curry From 'Today' Has a Name -- Inside 'Operation Bambi'

Ann Curry's ouster as co-host of "Today" was planned under the code name "Operation Bambi" by former executive producer Jim Bell, reports Brian Stelter in an in-depth report in The New York Times Magazine.

Bell landed on the term after another morning TV veteran suggested to him that getting rid of Curry would be like "killing Bambi," the story notes.

Despite opposition from NBC News President Steve Capus, who believed that removing Curry would end the show's streak of ratings dominance, Bell took his plan to NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke, who ultimately agreed. Bell denies he used the term "Operation Bambi," the piece notes.

The article, which provides a detailed narrative of the behind-the-scenes maneuvering and personality clashes to get Curry into the co-host seat and then to oust her, includes some juicy tidbits about "Today," such as how Curry was treated before her departure.

Curry felt that her last months were "a form of professional torture," Stelter writes. Bell "commissioned a blooper reel of Curry’s worst on-air mistakes. Another time, according to a producer, Bell called staff members into his office to show a gaffe she made during a cross-talk with a local station. (Bell denies both incidents.)," the story says.

The piece continues: "Then several boxes of Curry’s belongings ended up in a coat closet, as if she had already been booted off the premises. One staff person recalled that 'a lot of time in the control room was spent making fun of Ann’s outfit choices or just generally messing with her.'

"On one memorable spring morning, Curry wore a bright yellow dress that spawned snarky comparisons to Big Bird. The staff person said that others in the control room ... photoshopped a picture of Big Bird next to Curry and asked co-workers to vote on 'Who wore it best?'"

It also seems certain that co-host Matt Lauer's current contract, which ends in 2014, will be his last, Stelter writes. NBCUniversal News Group Chairman Patricia Fili-Krushel met CNN's Anderson Cooper for coffee and discussed a role with him, perhaps in 2014 or having Cooper overlap with Lauer for a year, the story says.

It's unlikely that Lauer would leave before his contract is up, unless he wanted to, Stelter writes. "Few at NBC have the stomach for a repeat of last year," he notes.


Ann Curry

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Aereo Chief Keeps Up Heat on Broadcasters, Suggests Networks Are Bluffing

Aereo Chief Executive Chet Kanojia expressed skepticism that broadcast networks would make good on their threats to move to cable to circumvent his service, the New York Post reports. Executives for Fox and Univision talked earlier this month about converting their networks into pay services.

"Are they bluffing?” Kanojia said at an Advertising Age media conference in New York. “I’m the engineer at the bottom of the food chain. There’s an obligation, a public interest,” to provide the signal.

"The real question is a consumer question: Can you rightfully disenfranchise 50 million consumers?” the executive said. “Is that what the preferred policy is?”

Asked whether Aereo would pay retransmission fees, he replied, "The spectrum was granted free to air; all this is, is a new type of antenna.”

The report adds: “Fox Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey said recently that his company had ‘no choice but to develop business solutions that ensure we continue to remain in the driver’s seat of our own destiny. One option could be converting the Fox broadcast network to a pay channel.’”

Univision Chairman Haim Saban made similar comments earlier this month, accusing Aereo of pirating content.

The broadcast networks have been battling Aereo in court, where the networks have lost two decisions, the report notes. The nets have requested that a full federal appeals court hear the case.

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Video: Jon Stewart Slams CNN for False Report of Boston Bombing Arrest

Jon Stewart took aim at CNN on Wednesday’s “Daily Show” on Comedy Central, poking the cable news channel for what turned out to be a false report of an arrest in the Boston Marathon bombing, Politico reports.

As we reported yesterday, a number of media outlets struggled Wednesday with conflicting reports on the bombing story.

Here’s a brief clip of Stewart’s comments:

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Has Fox's 'Cleveland Show' Been Canceled? Here's What Sources at the Network Are Saying

After a report surfaced that Fox's "The Cleveland Show" had been canceled, network sources were trying to clarify the situation. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that Fox denied the report, although sources did not go on the record for the story.

The animated series has been airing for four seasons. “While not saying anything on the record, Fox sources say the show -- about black patriarch Cleveland Brown and his family -- hasn't been canceled, although the network hasn't ordered any new episodes, either,” the piece reports.

The show could go on hiatus, the story notes, giving Fox a chance to focus on its other animated series such as "The Simpsons," "Family Guy" and "Bob's Burgers.”

“It wouldn't be unprecedented for ‘Cleveland’ to come back: Both ‘Family Guy’ and ‘King of the Hill’ were taken off the schedule and returned later,” the story reports, adding: “The cancellation news came from a blog posting by Steve Hulett of the Animation Guild, a trade union associated with IATSE.”

The show has been something less than a ratings blockbuster, the report notes: “Last season, the series averaged fewer than 4 million total viewers and was No. 16 out of 19 shows on Fox, according to Nielsen.”

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What's Holding Up the Debut of Al Jazeera's New U.S. Network?

Al Jazeera America, the new network created from Al Gore's Current TV, may not be ready to debut until Labor Day, although it has an internal goal of starting in June, reports the New York Post.

Given that the network hasn't hired a news chief, finished its studio or found office space, it's unlikely to meet the June goal, the story says.

International executive Ehab Al Shihabi has reached out to respected names in television, such as former NBC News chief Steve Capus and former CNN executives Jon Klein, David Bohrman and David Doss, but no one has bitten, the story says.

One executive, who wasn't named, said he was squeamish about the network's funding. Al Jazeera is backed by the Qatari government.


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ABC Can't Seem to Settle on a Name for New Action Series

ABC appears to be having trouble making its mind up about a title for an upcoming series. EW.com’s Inside TV reports that the network has been flipflopping about naming its new Joss Whedon action series, which was originally called “S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Earlier this month, ABC appeared to be going with “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” as previously reported.

EW.com’s James Hibberd writes: “We heard that the change was due to a potential legal conflict with FX’s former cop series ‘The Shield.’ But adding the Marvel studio name struck some (OK, us too) as kind of unnecessarily corporate-y. In any case, ABC would not confirm the new title nor the reason for the apparent change.”

Hibberd notes that the network has now “quietly changed the show’s official Facebook page from ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ to … ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ ... The switch had some fans wondering if the studio branding was now going bye-bye. But no, we’re hearing ‘Marvel’s’ will likely remain a part of the title regardless of what the social networking page says (and that, once again, the title may still change).”

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Episode of ABC's 'Castle' With Bomb Theme Is Delayed

An episode of "Castle" with a bomb theme has been rescheduled by ABC following the tragedy at the Boston Marathon on Monday, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Instead of airing the episode "Still" on Monday, the network will air another new episode called "The Squab and the Quail," which was slated to air the following week. In that episode, Beckett protects a billionaire whose life is in danger, the story says.

The bomb-themed “Still” has been rescheduled for a week later, April 29.

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Eva Longoria Explains Why She's Taking Her Talents Online

Hulu's most recent move into original content is a half-hour series that stars former "Desperate Housewives" actress Eva Longoria, reports Advertising Age.

Longoria will play Rudi Wilson in "Mother Up," an animated comedy set to debut on Hulu in the fall with a 13-episode order. It will also air on Canada's City Television.

Hulu and Rogers Media of Canada backed the show, which is executive produced by Longoria, Mass Animation founder Yair Landau and "Family Guy" and "American Dad" co-producer Michael Shipley.

Longoria said actors are expanding their horizons beyond traditional TV. "Creativity expands when distribution expands," she said.

She added that the TV landscape has changed since "Desperate Housewives" pulled 30 million viewers just 10 years ago. "TV in general is an elevator that's gone down," she said. "It's not affecting just one network; those [big] numbers just don't exist."

Landau called "Mother Up" a "Family Guy"-style show offering a "female-empowerment standpoint," the story says.

eva-longoria.jpgEva Longoria

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Starz Renews Show After Airing Just One Episode

Starz has renewed a new drama series after airing just one episode. TheWrap.com reports that the pay-cable channel renewed the period drama "Da Vinci's Demons."

The show drew 2.14 million viewers to its Friday debut episode, prompting the network to give it a second season. Production will begin in May, with the new season set to debut in 2014.

The show is created by writer and producer David Goyer of the "Dark Knight” trilogy and portrays artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci as a 25-year-old.

In a statement, Starz Chief Executive Officer Chris Albrecht said: “’Da Vinci’s Demons’ serves up action, adventure and history in a unique and highly entertaining way that only someone like David S. Goyer can. The first season premiered to strong audience engagement and we are excited to bring the next chapter of Leonardo da Vinci’s adventures to audiences around the world.”

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Amazon Takes a Step Into TV, Tweaks Plan to Put Pilots on the Web

Amazon is posting eight comedy pilots on its site, but the debut, which was slated for today (Thursday, April 18, 2013), was pushed back at the last minute, reports the New York Post.

The article doesn't report when the pilots will be posted on Amazon.com, although a site called Shock Till You Drop reports that the pilot for "Zombieland" was pushed back until Friday "while some technical bugs are sorted out."

"Zombieland," based on the movie of the same name, is from Sony. One of the other pilots is "Alpha House," featuring John Goodman and directed by Adam Bernstein of "Breaking Bad."

The Amazon model will include offering the pilots for free, while viewers who want to watch full seasons will have to sign up for Amazon Prime for $79 per year, the Post reports.

"The production quality had to be really high; we have top people and terrific casts," Amazon Studios director Roy Price told the Post.

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'Barney' Creator Sued by Man Who Was Allegedly Shot by Her Son

Eric Shanks is suing the creator of "Barney," alleging that she was negligent for allowing her 27-year-old son to own a gun, reports TMZ.com.

Patrick Leach, the son of "Barney" creator Sheryl Leach, was arrested in January for allegedly shooting Shanks in Malibu.

“Shanks -- who was struck in the chest -- is suing Patrick for assault and battery,” the piece reports. “He's also suing Sheryl for negligence, claiming she should never have let Patrick own a gun given his violent tendencies (Patrick lives with Sheryl).”

Patrick Leach has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, the report notes.


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NBC Continues Its Ratings Momentum, Coasts to Another Easy Win Behind 'The Voice' -- While Another Reality Show Is in Trouble

NBC continues to rack up nightly ratings wins, coasting to a relatively comfortable victory Tuesday night on the strength of “The Voice,” based on Nielsen overnights. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the singing competition notched a season high for a Tuesday episode with a 4.5 average in the key 18-49 demo, more than double the number for anything else on broadcast that night.

ABC got bad news in the numbers for its struggling celebrity diving show “Splash,” which sank to an all-time low with a 1.1 average rating in 18-49, losing 8% from last week’s less-than-stellar 1.2. The good news for ABC: It’s “Dancing with the Stars” ticked up 5% to a 2.1. “Body of Proof,” meanwhile, held steady with a 1.4.

It wasn’t all good news for NBC, either. Leading out from “The Voice,” the two-hour “Ready for Love” managed only a 1.3 average in the 18-49 demo, losing 13% from last week’s premiere.

CBS aired repeats of “NCIS” and “NCIS: Los Angeles” along with a fresh installment of “Golden Boy,” which equaled last week’s 1.5 rating in adults 18-49.

Fox’s only original program was “Hell’s Kitchen,” which held steady with a 1.9 in the 18-49 demo.

NBC coasted to a win for prime time overall with a 2.4 average rating in viewers 18-49, outdistancing the tight pack of CBS (1.6 average), Fox (1.5), Univision (1.5) and ABC (1.5). However, CBS turned the tables in total viewers, winning the night with 9.8 million to ABC’s 8.9 million, NBC’s 6.8 million, Univision’s 3.6 million and Fox’s 3.4 million.

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News Outlets Struggle With Premature Report of Arrest in Boston Bombing

News outlets on TV and on the Internet were scrambling today to sort out conflicting information about the status of the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombing, with a number of false reports surfacing that indicated an arrest had been made in the case.

The story was rapidly evolving throughout the early afternoon on the East Coast, with cable news channels in particular going back and forth about the “news” of an arrest.

As we approached our deadline, the latest word from investigators was that no arrest had been made. The big news at that point appeared to be that a video clip had been found that showed a person dropping off a bag that officials suspect was one of the bombs.

However, a number of outlets had already reported an arrest. CNN, the Associated Press and the Boston Globe were among the news operations that reported a suspect was in custody, only to later retract those reports.

A headline on Forbes.com read: “Reports: Suspect Held In Boston Bombing Case,” with the story including the following passage:

“Citing officials close to the investigation, the Associated Press and Boston Globe report that a suspect has been taken into custody in the case of Monday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon. Earlier, CNN reported an arrest had been made but on-air reporting at the network contradicted their online report.”

As of 3 p.m. ET, Reuters was reporting what appears to be a solid lead in the case. “Investigators believe they have identified a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing from security video and an official statement was expected later in the day, a law enforcement source said on Wednesday,” the Reuters story reports. “However, no arrest had been made, three separate government and law enforcement sources told Reuters.”

The report adds: “Earlier, CNN reported that a suspect was in custody, citing law enforcement sources. But then the network cited three sources who said no one was under arrest after all.”

Reuters notes: “The identification of a possible suspect marked the most significant publicly disclosed break since Monday's blast at the marathon finish line killed three people and injured 176 others. Investigators were also searching through thousands of pieces of evidence from cell phone pictures to shrapnel shards pulled from victims' legs.”


Headlines found on a Google search around 3 p.m. ET

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AMC Sets Return of 'Breaking Bad' and Other Shows, Unveils Slate of New Programs

AMC made a number of programming announcements today, including revealing the return date for “Breaking Bad.” USA Today reports that the acclaimed drama series will debut its final season Aug. 11, with the season to consist of eight episodes.

“The Emmy-winning series starring Bryan Cranston as a cancer-stricken teacher-turned-meth dealer will air Sundays at 9 ET/PT,” the story reports. “It will be followed by new drama ‘Low Winter Sun,’ about a cop-killing Detroit detective, starring Mark Strong and Lennie James. At 11, AMC will air ‘Talking Bad,’ a live half-hour talk show about that night's ‘Bad’ episode, modeled on ‘Talking Dead,’ a companion to the network's top cable hit ‘The Walking Dead.’”

“The Killing” is set to return for season three this summer with a number of new cast members. The two-hour premiere is set for June 2 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

“Hell on Wheels” moves to Saturday, as previously reported, with the season premiere set for Aug. 3.

New projects in the works, according to the report, include:

-- The futuristic drama “Ballistic City,” which the network says is about "a former cop thrust into the criminal underworld of a city housed in a generational space ship."

-- The 1960s drama “King,” about a segregationist-turned-civil rights advocate called King Carmichael.

-- The family soap opera “Ashland,” about a Kentucky mining town in the 1950s.

-- The spy drama “The Wall,” set in Berlin in the 1960s.

-- “White City,” set in the present day and examining life in Afghanistan for diplomats and journalists.

The report adds: “On the reality TV front, AMC has renewed ‘Talking Dead,’ ‘Comic Book Men’ and ‘Freakshow,’ and is developing new projects including ‘All-Star Celebrity Bowling’ and ‘Cancelled,’ a ‘social experiment’ in which six households will be equipped with cameras and compete for ‘ratings’ as the most-watched reality show.”

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HBO Expands Order for Series

HBO has expanded the order for one of its series. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the pay-cable network is extending the freshman season of “Vice” to 10 episodes, up from eight.

The documentary series had a sizable bump in its ratings for its second installment, the report notes. The show has been getting attention for its involvement in former Chicago Bulls player Dennis Rodman’s recent trip to North Korea.

The series’ season finale, set for June 14, will be focused on Rodman’s trip.

“The NBA Hall of Famer, who was part of the delegation including ‘Vice’ correspondent Ryan Duffy and three players from the Harlem Globetrotters, earned access on account of leader Kim Jong-un's fanaticism for the 1990s Bulls dynasty,” the story reports. “’Vice’ founder and series host Shane Smith had previously reported from the isolated nation twice before but was not allowed to return on account of his criticism of the regime.”

Rodman apparently continues to have access, the piece notes, and has made plans to return to North Korea in August.

“As for ‘Vice,’ the Friday series has been performing well for HBO after its ‘Real Time with Bill Maher’ lead-in,” the report notes. “The second episode, which premiered April 12, jumped 78 percent to 931,000 viewers in its inaugural airing. Early data gives the series an average gross of 2 million viewers with the addition of DVR, HBO Go and encores.”

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DirecTV Orders Neil LaBute Drama Series

Satellite operator DirecTV announced it is ordering its second original drama series. Deadline.com reports that the company is ordering 10 episodes of “Full Circle” from Neil LaBute.

The series “is described as a modern day ‘La Ronde’ meets ‘My Dinner With Andre,’” the piece reports. “The director, screenwriter and playwright’s unconventionally structured TV series debut will examine the human condition through conversations between 11 people whose lives, unbeknownst to them, are intertwined. The project, which had been in the works at DirecTV for months, was developed as a low-budget miniseries, and is expected to be made for under $1 million total for all 10 episodes.”

Momentum TV’s Nick Hamm is executive producing, following up on his stint as exec producer of DirecTV’s first original series, “Rogue.”

“LaBute is series creator and serves as writer and co-executive producer,” the report adds. “Production will start in L.A. this summer for air on DirecTV’s Audience in the fall. FremantleMedia International is handling global distribution.”

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'Star Wars' Actor Dead at 66 -- His Character Was Memorably Menaced by Darth Vader

An actor known for his role in the 1977 feature that launched the “Star Wars” franchise -- including one especially memorable scene -- has died. Reuters reports that Richard LeParmentier, who played Admiral Motti in "Star Wars," died at 66.

For those readers who don't remember Motti's name in the film, he was the character whom Darth Vader almost choked to death for his "lack of faith."

LeParmentier acted in more than 50 films and TV shows but is best known for his role in "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope," where Vader uses the force to choke him.

“LeParmentier also appeared in ‘Octopussy,’ ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit,’ and as a reporter in ‘Superman II,’ which starred British actress Sarah Douglas, his wife from 1981-1984, as the Kryptonian supervillain Ursa,” the report notes.

LeParmentier was born in Pittsburgh but moved in 1974 to England, where he worked in recent years as a screenwriter. He died while visiting relatives in Austin, Texas, and no cause was given for his death.

His family said in a statement: "Every time we find someone's lack of faith disturbing, we'll think of him. ... He has gone to the Stars, and he will be missed.”

Here’s the "lack of faith" scene in “Star Wars”:

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Seth MacFarlane Condemns Videos Tying 'Family Guy' to Boston Marathon Attack

Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Fox’s "Family Guy," called videos connecting the animated show to the Boston Marathon bombing "abhorrent," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed. The videos have been characterized as a hoax.

The videos have been making the rounds online, and include clips edited from the "Turban Cowboy" episode, which aired March 17. The scene ends with Peter Griffin accidentally blowing up a bridge by calling a terrorist's mobile phone.

In the videos, the mobile phone scene is edited so that it happens after an unrelated scene from the episode in which Bob Costas, playing himself in the show, asks Peter how he won the Boston Marathon, the story says.

"The edited 'Family Guy' clip currently circulating is abhorrent," MacFarlane wrote on Twitter. "The event was a crime and a tragedy, and my thoughts are with the victims."

Fox also pulled the entire "Turban Cowboy" episode from online sites such as Fox.com and Hulu after the videos surfaced, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The clip has appeared on YouTube in multiple posts, but in most cases has quickly been pulled from the site. A disclaimer noting a copyright claim by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios appeared on at least one such post.

Other YouTube videos have also appeared addressing the alleged “Family Guy” connection to the marathon bombing, and refuting the characterization of the videos as a hoax.

Here’s an example:

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ESPN Viewers Grumbling About Coverage of Boston Marathon Tragedy

ESPN has been taking heat over its coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing. Some viewers weren't happy about the sports channel devoting airtime to covering the attack, and took to Twitter to complain, reports the New York Post.

One viewer wrote: "ESPN needs to stop trying to be CNN! I get what happened was horrible but your a SPORTS broadcasting network.”

Another complained: "go back to doing what you do best, kissing Miami’s ass [meaning the league-leading Miami Heat NBA team] and drumming up drama,” the story says.

But after a surge of complaints, the network itself tweeted: "In difficult times, all fans root for the same team. Go Boston.” It was apparently sent in response to the critics, and it seemed to sway the tide, with the message retweeted by more than 6,600 followers, the story says.

“This event directly intersected with what we are about -- sports and fans,” ESPN said in a statement. “To not acknowledge it would have been disrespectful. The vast majority of fans have shown their support and have responded favorably.”

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Reality Star Apologizes for Boston Bombing Tweet

A tweet sent just after the Boston Marathon bombing landed a reality television star in hot water. The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that Cousin Anthony, the star of TLC's "Cake Boss," apologized after sending out a tweet that blamed foreign-born "animals" for "attacking us."

Anthony, whose real name is Anthony Bellifemine, also tweeted: "We even pay for them to go to school hows that!”

“The message was quickly denounced online, including by some of Bellifemine's 25,000 followers,” the story notes. “He attacked one critic for her ‘typical liberal attitude.’"

President Obama has called the Boston bombing an "act of terrorism," although it's unclear who is responsible. The FBI is asking the public for tips about anyone who may have been carrying a heavy black bag near the finish line, reports the Boston Globe.

Cousin Anthony issued his apology Tuesday. "I apologize for my remarks following the Boston bombings," he tweeted. "My anger got the best of me. I continue to pray for all those affected."

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Report: Sharon Osbourne Refuses to Return to Ozzy

Sharon Osbourne is refusing to return to her husband, Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne, until he can prove he can stay sober, TMZ.com reports.

As previously reported, Ozzy Osbourne took to Facebook to refute reports that he and Sharon, who have been married since 1982, had split. He wrote that he had been taking drugs and drinking for the past year and a half, but had been sober for 44 days.

According to TMZ, that's not enough for Sharon, who doesn't want to end the marriage but wants to make it clear that she can't deal with his substance abuse.

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Millions Turned to TV News for Boston Bombing Coverage -- With One Program Pulling In the Largest Audience by Far

Fox News and CNN saw big increases in their audience size Monday, as viewers turned to cable news networks for coverage of the Boston Marathon bomb attack, reports Bill Carter in The New York Times.

More than 3 million viewers tuned in to CNN and more than 4 million watched Fox News, with interest in the coverage helping to give Piers Morgan's show on CNN the largest audience in its two-year history, the story says.

But the biggest audience was for a special report that aired at 10 p.m. on NBC, with 8.8 million viewers tuning in. As previously reported, NBC pre-empted "Revolution" to air a special news report with Brian Williams.

Of those 8.8 million viewers, 3.8 million were in the 18-49 age group, the story adds.

“On CNN, the audience grew from 438,000 viewers for its 2 p.m. show to 970,000 for its 3 p.m. hour, then 2.4 million at 4 p.m. and more than 3 million for the 5 p.m. hour,” the piece reports. “The network fared especially well among the viewers who matter most to cable news networks, adults between the ages of 25 and 54. Anderson Cooper’s hour at 8 p.m. scored the best numbers of the night in that category.”

Fox News saw its audience rise from more than 900,000 at 3 p.m. to more than 4 million by 6 p.m., with Bill O’Reilly’s 8 p.m. hour hitting 4.8 million.

“After Mr. O’Reilly’s program, the next biggest audience -- 4 million -- tuned in to Sean Hannity at 9 p.m. The totals in the 25-to-54 category were 1.26 million viewers for Mr. O’Reilly and 1.303 million for Mr. Hannity,” the article reports. “CNN had slightly higher figures in those hours among the 25-to-54 group. Mr. Cooper at 8 p.m. had the biggest audience, with 1.373 million viewers in that group (2.9 million overall). Piers Morgan had 1.312 million viewers in the 25-to-54 group (2.6 million overall).”

MSNBC was a distant third among the cable news nets, with Rachel Maddow’s 9 p.m. show leading the way for the network with 1.5 million total viewers and 557,000 viewers 25-54.

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Syfy Has Its Highest-Rated Scripted Series Premiere in Seven Years

Syfy had its highest-rated premiere for a scripted series in the key demo of viewers 18-49 since the 2006 debut of “Eureka,” TVLine.com reports. The new series “Defiance” raised the bar by delivering 1.3 million viewers in the demo for its premiere Monday night.

In total viewers, the show drew 2.7 million viewers, Syfy’s biggest premiere audience since "Warehouse 13" first aired in 2009, the story adds.

"Defiance" is set on a future Earth, where humans and aliens live together after terraforming and war scorched the planet.

“Warehouse 13” will lead out from “Defiance” on Syfy starting April 29, the piece notes.

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NBC Delays 'Revolution' Finale as Part of Plan to 'Ripple' Remaining Episodes

NBC has pushed back the finale of "Revolution" until June, following its decision to pre-empt Monday’s episode to air a special report about the Boston Marathon bombing, reports TVLine.

An NBC spokesperson said Tuesday: "The original episode of 'Revolution' that was scheduled to air last night will air next week (4/22) at 10/9c and all subsequent episodes will ripple accordingly. Viewers will not miss anything in the ongoing storylines. The new season finale will now [air] one week later on Monday, June 3, at 10/9c.”

That means that the finale will air after the May sweeps ratings period ends, and after the end of the regular television season.

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In a Real-Life Case that Sounds Like Something From Hollywood, 'Ray Donovan' Producer Charged in Gambling Ring Tied to Russian Mob

An executive producer on Showtime's new drama series "Ray Donovan" is one of 34 people charged with running a gambling ring with ties to the Russian-American mob, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com. The executive producer is Bryan Zuriff.

The charges resulted from a huge FBI investigation, with the ring allegedly laundering more than $100 million, the story says. The allegations were unsealed Tuesday by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney.

Zuriff and others charged in the case are "alleged members and associates of Russian-American organized crime enterprises," according to the charges.

Andreeva writes, "In the indictment, Zuriff is listed as a 'fugitive' though people close to him strongly dispute that characterization, which may also mean that he had not been arrested yet. Zuriff is charged with operating an illegal gambling business and unlawful Internet gambling, which carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison."

Zuriff was under a deal at Mark Gordon Co., which produces "Ray Donovan," and has feature producing credits such as 2009's "The Messenger" and 2011's "The Details."

"Zuriff, who is credited with bringing 'Ray Donovan' to Gordon and championing the project, is currently an independent producer working on the series, which ironically centers on a professional ‘fixer’ (Liev Schreiber) for the rich and famous in LA who can make anyone’s problems disappear," Andreeva writes.

Zuriff didn't attend the project's table read on Tuesday, and Showtime said it "would be premature" to make any comments.

Matthew E. Sloan, an attorney for Zuriff, commented: “The charges against Bryan Zuriff today came as a complete surprise to him. He denies any wrongdoing and looks forward to his day in court to confront them.”

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Bomb Threat at L.A. TV Station Turns Out to Be a Hoax

A bomb threat Tuesday evening against a Los Angeles television station turned out to be a hoax, reports Deadline.com. The threat was made against KTLA-TV, a Tribune Broadcasting-owned CW affiliate.

Los Angeles police received a call at 6:15 p.m., with the caller telling officers that he was "going to detonate" three devices in the station's building. Employees were evacuated, and a bomb squad and dogs searched the building, but nothing suspicious was found.

Those evacuated included reporters and producers working on the station's 10 p.m. newscast, as well as employees on syndicated shows such as "Judge Judy," the story says. An all-clear was given at about 8:30 p.m.

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Oscars to Bring Back Producers of Controversial Show

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has decided who will produce the 2014 ceremony, and the choice may raise a few eyebrows. The academy said it's bringing back Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, after this year's show drew controversy but also attracted a bigger audience, reports the Los Angeles Times' Movie Now.

"We believe that continuity is the most important thing. One of the problems we have every year is that you always have a new producer and a new host -- there's so much learning," said academy President Hawk Koch, whose one-year term will end this summer.

It's usually the incoming president's job to pick the show's producers, meaning that the task would typically have fallen to the president who will be chosen this summer, the story points out. The decision to rehire Zadan and Meron was made with the support of the 43-member Board of Governors.

Some critics complained about host Seth MacFarlane's jokes, calling them juvenile, such as the "We Saw Your Boobs" opening song. The article adds that it's not clear whether MacFarlane will be asked back.

The 2013 telecast drew 40.3 million viewers, the best ratings for the show since 2010, and also attracted more younger viewers.

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MTV Developing Theme Park Drama

A new drama set at a theme park is in development at MTV, which has hired writer Ben Epstein of "10 Things I Hate About You" to write the hourlong project, reports Deadline.com.

This is the second MTV project for Epstein, who also developed a college murder mystery last year, the story says. Details about the theme park project are still being fleshed out.

The report adds: “On the feature side, Epstein, repped by CAA and Think Tank Management, is currently writing the teen thriller ‘You Get Me’ for CBS Films and is attached to direct his drama script ‘Who Are You People’ with Seann William Scott set to star later this year.”

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Report: Huge Jump in Viewing of Free, On-Demand TV Shows in 2012

There was a huge increase in the viewing of  free, on-demand TV shows in 2012 compared to 2011, Rentrak is reporting.

Here's Rentrak's press release about its report:

PORTLAND, Ore., April 17, 2013  -- Rentrak, which measures TV and movies everywhere, today announced the release of the Rentrak State of VOD Report 2012. The report, which includes four years of video-on-demand (VOD) analysis from Rentrak's OnDemand Essentials service, shows that the total time spent viewing free-on-demand television content increased by over 40 percent compared to the previous year. Rapidly increasing numbers also show that the total number of free-on-demand TV programs watched went up 29 percent from the prior year.

When considering free-on-demand programs that were aired over just broadcast networks, numbers grew more significantly, including a 60 percent increase in total time spent viewing and a 47 percent jump in the total number of programs watched since the previous year.

"There is no doubt that this kind of growth is reshaping budgets of cable operators, content providers and advertisers," said Rentrak Corporate President and President of the AMI Division Cathy Hetzel. "Our reporting gives perspective on how many ad dollars could be left behind if on-demand content is not considered by the planners of TV."

Other Insights from the Rentrak State of VOD Report 2012 include:

HD Viewership: HD Video-On-Demand viewing grew by more than 60 percent.
Total TVs: 43 million televisions accessed VOD content each month which was a five percent increase from the previous year and a 13 percent increase from 2010.

For more information, or to purchase the Rentrak State of VOD Report 2012, please visit http://www.rentrak.com/section/our_services/analytics/svod/order_form_p1.html

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Downloading an Entire Season of a TV Show in Less Than a Minute? A Speedier Wi-Fi Will Actually Hit the Market This Year. The Power and the Real Story

First, the good news: "A faster version of Wi-Fi will hit the market this year, giving users the power to download a television show's entire season in less than a minute," writes Drew Fitzgerald in the Wall Street Journal [Note: the WSJ is behind a pay wall and may ask you to pay to see its story

Fitzgerald continues with the bad news: "although few people can expect to take advantage of such speeds any time soon."

Why? Here's what's going on, according to the story:

"The new wireless standard, called 802.11ac, can triple its predecessor's typical speed, wireless experts say, and handle more than a billion bits of data per second [a gigabit] in an ideal environment, fast enough to stream high-definition video with ease.

"Yet most Web surfers won't enjoy the benefit of those wireless speeds online until broadband speeds catch up. The average fixed Internet connection peaks around 32 megabits—or about 32 million bits—per second in the U.S., according to network operator Akamai Technologies—about 1/40 of the throughput offered by the latest 802.11ac devices. The high cost of investing in new network equipment—which in most cases includes digging new routes for high-capacity fiber-optic cable—forces most Internet service providers to limit data speeds."

But that doesn't mean you need to wait to take advantage of this new technology, the story notes:

"Despite the broader Internet bottleneck, consumers will find the next-generation of Wi-Fi useful because it operates on a less-crowded swath of the radio spectrum, dodging interference from baby monitors, microwave ovens and other electronics that share the same airwaves.

" 'If my link to my service provider is 25 megabits per second, the question is, 'Do I need an ac router?' ' asked Chris Spain, vice president of product marketing at Cisco Systems wireless networking unit. 'I think for most people, the answer to that is probably yes.' Cisco will roll out business-class networking products with the new standard built-in later this year.

The story quotes one expert as saying, " 'By the end of 2014, pretty much every tablet you can buy will have ac built into them,' said Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin.

The article says Golvin also "expects Apple to add ac-capable chips when it launches the next versions of its iPhone, iPad and MacBook devices. Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller declined to comment on any of the company's future devices.

"Those who use the new Wi-Fi standard will notice the biggest benefit in crowded spaces, where a clean radio signal cuts through interference from other devices, even if their connection to their service provider falls short of 802.11ac's lofty speed limit.

"The advantage will become even more apparent when more televisions, home appliances and other electronics come to market with the ability to match Ethernet cables with Wi-Fi that is equally reliable."

We urge you to read the entire article by using the link in our first paragraph.

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Video: Four TV Stars Reveal the 'Naked Truth' in Sizzling Nude Photo Shoot for Allure [Fixed so you can now link to the video itself]

Four of the most beautiful actresses in television stripped down for Allure magazine’s annual “Naked Truth” photo feature.

USA Today reports: “Patrick Demarchelier photographed a bevy of beauties -- ‘Once Upon a Time’ star Jennifer Morrison, ‘Glee's’ Naya Rivera, ‘Nashville’ actress Clare Bowen and ‘Cougar Town’ star Christa Miller -- as they lounged naked by a pool for the May issue of Allure, out Monday [April 22].”

This year’s shoot is reportedly inspired by Marilyn Monroe’s final movie, “Something’s Got to Give.”

Among the highlights from the interviews, “Glee’s” Rivera says "it's kind of cool" that she has become a sex symbol in the lesbian community thanks to her role on the show. Says Rivera: "I get more girls than my boyfriend."

Bowen comments: "The only reservation I have about nudity is whether it's necessary or not. If it's for a shock factor, it takes away from what makes it beautiful."

Morrison reveals this tidbit: "I've had so many moles removed because I'm so fair-skinned. I have anywhere between 15 and 20 scars on my body."


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Legendary TV Sports Announcer Dies

A television sports announcer who was a familiar presence to countless fans for decades has died. USA Today reports that Pat Summerall, who worked for CBS Sports from the early sixties into the 1990s, died today at 82 in Dallas.

“For many sports fans in the 1960s through the 1990s, Pat Summerall was the voice of the NFL, starting with CBS's Sunday telecasts and later with Fox, famously paired for much of that time with John Madden,” the story reports.

His daughter Susie Wiles told the Associated Press: "He was an extraordinary man and a wonderful father. I know he will be greatly missed."

Summerall reportedly died at Zale Lipshy Hospital, where he was recovering after undergoing surgery for a broken hip.

“Summerall worked a record 16 Super Bowls, drawing on his football relationships made during his nine-plus years as a kicker in the NFL, primarily for the then-Chicago Cardinals and New York Giants from 1952 to 1961,” USA Today reports. “He had been ill off and on in his later years. A recovering alcoholic, Summerall had a liver transplant in 2004, needing it even after 12 years of sobriety.”

Madden, his longtime partner, released a statement today saying: "Pat was my broadcasting partner for a long time, but more than that he was my friend for all of these years. We never had one argument, and that was because of Pat. He was a great broadcaster and a great man. He always had a joke. Pat never complained and we never had an unhappy moment. He was something very special. Pat Summerall is the voice of football and always will be."

Summerall and Madden moved on from CBS to Fox Sports when CBS lost its NFL package following the 1993 season, the report notes.

“A man with many interests, Summerall also was called on by CBS to be the lead announcer for its coverage of PGA Tour events for many years as well as such major tennis events as the U.S. Open. He called 13 Super Bowls, 26 Masters and 21 U.S. Opens for the network,” the piece reports.

In a statement, CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus said: “There is no one more closely associated with the great legacy and tradition of CBS Sports than Pat Summerall. His voice was synonymous with big events whether it was NFL football and the Super Bowl, the Masters or U.S. Open Tennis.”

CBS Sports announcer Jim Nantz added: “Pat Summerall was a hero to me. I treasured the gift of friendship that I had with him. I was his understudy for 10 years. He could not have been more generous or kind to a young broadcaster. He was a giant and one of the iconic figures in the history of the CBS Television Network.”

pat-summerall.jpgPat Summerall

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Study Shows There's One Kind of Ad That Doesn't Get Zapped by DVR Owners

One group of advertisers appears to have less to fear from the DVR, with its ad-zapping capability, than other marketing groups. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a new study concludes that movie ads appear to be insulated from fast-forwarding, with DVR owners as likely as non-DVR owners to watch the spots.

The study by Worldwide Motion Picture Group surveyed 1,500 moviegoers, focusing on the movie industry’s target audience of people age 13 to 64 who go out to at least six movies a year.

The piece reports: “About half of DVR owners watch shows live, and another 25% record shows and still watch movie ads. As a result, the total is ‘not statistically different from people who don’t have DVRs’ who often avoid commercials by doing other things, says WMPG chief Vincent Bruzzese.

Bruzzese adds: “The frantic rumors about the declining efficacy of advertising for movies is overblown.”

THR reports: “Some 87% of the DVR owners said that they stop to watch an ad for an upcoming theatrical release. By contrast 65% watch commercials for upcoming television shows, 52% do so for consumer electronics, 47% for video games, 39% for food products, and 23% for cars.”

Bruzzese notes that movie ticket-buying decisions are being made farther ahead of time than in the past, suggesting that studios should launch their marketing campaigns earlier. He cites the proliferation of websites targeting movie fans with information that in many cases is available before the studios launch their ad campaigns.

Said Bruzzese: “There’s a lot of information out there that’s outside [the studios’] control and is reducing the number of people that marketing can impact.”

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CBS's Prime-Time Lineup Sinks as NBC Surges

Monday’s prime-time broadcast ratings saw some role reversal as ratings-challenged NBC had its numbers surge while perennial ratings leader CBS endured a night of season lows and series lows, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that CBS’s full prime-time lineup equaled or surpassed its low marks in the key 18-49 demo: series lows for “2 Broke Girls” (2.3 average rating, down 23% from its previous original), “Mike & Molly” (2.2, down 15%) and “Hawaii Five-0” (1.8, down 14%, equaling its series low), and season lows for “How I Met Your Mother” (2.6, down 4%) and “Rules of Engagement” (2.0, down 9%).

NBC, meanwhile, hit a season high in viewers 18-49 with its two-hour “The Voice” (5.1 average rating, up 2% from a week ago). The network pre-empted “Revolution” at 10 p.m. to cover the Boston Marathon bombing -- the only broadcast net to pre-empt prime-time programming for the breaking news -- and won the hour with a 3.1.

ABC managed a 2.2 average in 18-49 for its two-hour “Dancing with the Stars” going head-to-head with “The Voice,” a 5% bump from last week. “Castle” delivered a 2.1, dipping 5% from its previous original.

Fox’s two dramas were both down 5% in adults 18-49 from their previous originals, with “Bones” registering a 1.9 in viewers 18-49 and “The Following” settling for a 2.1.

NBC scored a big win for prime time overall in the 18-49 demo, averaging a 4.5 rating to lead ABC (2.2 average), CBS (2.1) and Fox (2.0). NBC also squeaked out a win in total viewers, averaging 12.5 million to ABC’s 12.4 million, CBS’s 7.2 million and Fox’s 6.1 million.

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British Channel Spikes Film About Bombing Attack on London Marathon

A U.K. broadcaster announced today that it is taking a movie off its schedule in the aftermath of Monday’s bombing attack at the Boston Marathon. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Channel 4 pulled “Four Lions,” a farce about a bomb plot focused on the London Marathon.

Said a spokesman for Channel 4: "In light of recent tragic events, Film4 has decided not to proceed with the planned broadcast of Four Lions, which was scheduled for Monday.”

THR adds: “The satire from 2010, directed by Christopher Morris and produced by Film4 Productions and others, is about four disillusioned young Muslim British men who train to become suicide bombers and detonate explosives during the London Marathon.”

Benedict Cumberbatch of “Sherlock” appears as a negotiator in the film, the report notes.

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One Cable Drama Sets Ratings Record, While Another Is Headed in the Opposite Direction

A cable drama series that has been a huge hit continues to see its numbers grow. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that HBO’s “Game of Thrones” set a series record Sunday with 4.72 million viewers turning out for its 9 p.m. airing.

Another cable drama, meanwhile, appears to be headed in the other direction: AMC’s “Mad Men,” which recently bowed for season six, lost almost 20% of the 3.4 million viewers who turned out for the season’s premiere, settling for 2.7 million viewers for episode two.

“Thrones” is off to a strong start on its third season, pulling in 4.36 million total viewers for the premiere and 4.27 million for episode two before Sunday’s third episode. Sunday’s 4.72 million represented an 11% increase.

Adding in Sunday’s 11 p.m. encore, “Thrones” tallied 5.8 million viewers on the night.

“’Veep’ returned to HBO at 10 p.m. for its second season, averaging just shy of 1.2 million viewers,” the report notes. “And while the Julia Louis-Dreyfus comedy was down from its 1.4 million debut in 2012, it was steady with its freshman finale. Also of note: the series topped every original broadcast of ‘Girls'’ recent sophomore season in the same half-hour.”

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Had Enough Movie Awards Yet? Not So Fast: There's One Last Ceremony to Talk About

Just when you thought the movie awards season was over, one more ceremony comes along to generate still more buzz about last year’s movies and look ahead to the 2013 summer blockbuster season.

TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin takes you inside Sunday’s MTV Movie Awards -- click here for all the scoop.

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Why NBC Pre-empted 'Revolution' for Boston Bombing Coverage

NBC was the only broadcast network to pre-empt its regular prime-time lineup to cover the deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon, and part of the reason had to do with the subject matter on "Revolution," Deadline.com reports.

An anchored news special with Brian Williams aired at 10 p.m. instead of the drama, which had been slated for the time slot. One issue that influenced the decision was that the plot of the "Revolution" episode was about efforts to find a nuclear bomb, which executives decided wasn't appropriate after the tragedy, the story adds.

"The pre-emption has serious repercussions for 'Revolution,' sending NBC’s scheduling team scrambling for solutions,” the story reports. “The problem is that, because of the drama’s late return to the schedule to coincide with the spring cycle of 'The Voice,' 'Revolution' was slated to air all 10 remaining new episodes with no interruption."

Without the pre-emption, the show would have ended past the finish of the season, with a finale airing May 27. But now "Revolution" may need to air its finale even later into the summer, a move that's frowned upon for top drama series, the story notes.

Another option is for NBC to air two originals in one week, keeping the May 27 finale date.

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Management Shakeup at Nickelodeon

In the latest management change under Nickelodeon Group President Cyma Zarghami, Nickelodeon said longtime executive Marjorie Cohn, president of content development, is leaving the network, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Also departing is Alison Dexter, executive vice president of production, the story says. Both executives were leaving immediately, and neither will be replaced.

Cohn had been at Nickelodeon for more than two decades.

"After Nickelodeon's senior management came under fire last year by Wall Street analysts amid a dramatic ratings plunge, Zarghami began realigning the ranks by promoting managers viewed internally as loyal members of her team," the story reports.

Since then, ratings have bounced back, with Nickelodeon beating Disney Channel in children 2-11 for the past two fiscal quarters, the story says.

Cohn helped develop shows such as "SpongeBob SquarePants," "iCarly" and "Rugrats," the story says. She had been with the network since its early days.

The story adds that in August, Nickelodeon executive Brown Johnson was pushed out, while two months later two other top executives, Paul Ward and Pete Danielsen, stepped down.

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NBC's 'Sunday Night Football' Loses Singer for Opening Theme

The singer who has performed the opening theme for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” since 2007 is off the show, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Popular singer Faith Hill won't be returning to the program in the fall, the story reports.

Hill has sung a reworked version of Joan Jett's "I Hate Myself for Loving You" since replacing Pink, who had the job in 2006 the story says. The decision to leave was Hill’s, and a replacement hasn't yet been named.

“Sunday Night Football” producer Fred Gaudelli said in a statement: "Faith Hill is family to all of us at 'Sunday Night Football.' For the last six seasons and two Super Bowls, her opening performance of 'Waiting All Day' set the tone for 'SNF' and became a television staple."

faith-hill.jpgFaith Hill

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CNN Wins Sunday Prime Among Cable News Channels as New Show Debuts to Strong Numbers

A new CNN program bowed Sunday night to strong numbers, pushing the channel to a ratings win among cable news channels. Deadline.com reports that "Parts Unknown," which features celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, attracted 747,000 viewers in its 9 p.m. time slot.

That represents a surge of 62% over the network's year-to-date Sunday averages, the piece says. In the key demo of viewers 25-54, the show drew 282,000 viewers, a 120% increase.

The “Parts Unknown” debut pushed CNN, which has struggled in the ratings, to No. 1 for prime time Sunday among the cable news channels. CNN averaged 208,000 viewers for prime time in the 25-54 demo, topping MSNBC (160,000) and Fox News Channel (141,000), the story reports.

The first episode featured Bourdain in Myanmar, and future shows will track him visiting Libya, Canada, Peru and Los Angeles' Koreatown.

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Launch of NBCU's New Cable Network Is Delayed by Months

NBCUniversal has delayed the planned launch of a new cable network, pushing back the launch date to summer 2013. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the extra few months before the launch of the Esquire Network -- a rebrand of the G4 network -- will enable the company to debut the network with five original shows.

The rebrand was originally slated for April 22, and the original plan was to bow with two original shows. The new launch date has not been announced.

"We have an opportunity to launch with more original programming than we had envisioned. In order to give our viewers a more substantial program offering that showcases the breadth of the Esquire Network, we are pushing our rebrand to the summer,” said Esquire Network general manager Adam Stotsky in a statement.

The move will enable to new network to add "American Ninja Warrior" to the lineup, the report notes. G4 programming will continue until the rebranding.

Other new shows include the cooking competition "Knife Fight," which had been scheduled to bow this month, and lifestyle series "How I Rock it," the story notes. “The Getaway,” from Anthony Bourdain -- which was also previously set for this month -- and “American Field Trip,” with blogger and journalist Matt Hranek, are also in the lineup.

Repeats of shows including "Party Down" and "Parks and Recreation" will also air on the Esquire Network.

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Ozzy Osbourne Denies Report That He and Sharon Have Split

Ozzy Osbourne took to Facebook to deny reports that he and Sharon, who married in 1982, have split, reports People.

“Just to set the record straight, Sharon and I are not divorcing," he wrote. "I'm just trying to be a better person."

Osbourne, 64, wrote that he had been taking drugs and drinking during the past year and a half, describing it as "a very dark place." He added that he has been sober for 44 days.

"I would like to apologize to Sharon, my family, my friends and my band mates for my insane behavior during this period," he wrote. "And [to] my fans."

TMZ had reported that the longtime pair had split up, at least temporarily, with Sharon living at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

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NBC Rolls Out Summer Premiere Dates

NBC has announced its summer debut slate, with dates released for the premiere of the Anne Heche comedy "Save Me" and the adventure competition "Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls," reports TheWrap.

"Get Out Alive" will feature "Man vs. Wild" star Grylls as he leads 10 teams through New Zealand's South Island, while "Save Me" stars Heche as a mom and wife who has a near-death experience.

Here are the debut dates:

Thursday, May 23, 8 p.m. "Save Me"

Tuesday, June 4, 9 p.m. "America's Got Talent"

Monday, July 1, 8 p.m. "American Ninja Warrior"

Monday, July 8, 9 p.m. "Get Out Alive With Bear Grylls"

Wednesday, July 10, 10 p.m. "Camp"

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Glenn Beck Testing Live Commercials on His Cable Network

Glenn Beck's fledgling cable network is testing live commercials this week as a way to keep people watching during ad breaks and to sidestep ad-skipping on DVRs, reports Advertising Age.

Beck will air four 90-second commercials during each evening show this week on the network, TheBlaze, and then test the idea again during the week of April 29.

"We want to redefine advertising by bringing the ideas and concepts behind radio and original TV advertising to TV today," Beck wrote in an email. "Live, in-program advertising benefits our viewers by entertaining them, and benefits our advertisers by most effectively sharing stories of why their products and services are so beneficial."

Live ads are common in radio, and that's something that Beck already does on TheBlaze, the story says. Inventory for those types of ads are sold out.

The new live ads will test spots that are more akin to TV commercials, including visual components such as employee interviews and the advertiser's logo, the story adds. Beck may or may not take part. Ten advertisers are participating in the test, including Blinds.com and Liberty Safe.

The story points out, "TV networks have been experimenting with different forms of TV spots as it becomes harder to get viewers to watch commercials. The results episode of 'American Idol' on Fox last week included a commercial break that accompanied ads with live camera feeds from the 'Idol' stage, backstage and the audience. It seemed to be the first time the 'double-box' format, which has been used during some sports broadcasts, appeared in an entertainment series."

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MTV Movie Awards Deliver Big Numbers

Not only did the MTV Movie Awards get some buzz because of Aubrey Plaza's rushing the stage, but the show also attracted more viewers, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The annual awards show averaged 3.8 million viewers age 12 to 34, a jump of 21% compared with a year earlier. Overall, the telecast averaged 4.8 million across the Viacom-owned networks that aired it, including MTV and VH1.

Ratings were up 45% in the 18-34 demographic and 44% in the 18-49 age group, the story says.

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No Cameras Allowed During Kim Kardashian's Divorce Trial

A judge has barred cameras from the courtroom during Kim Kardashian's divorce trial from Kris Humphries, which is slated to begin May 6, reports the New York Post.

Kardashian didn't want cameras during the in-court proceedings, so the ruling is in her favor, the story says. Nevertheless, it's an unusual move for someone whose life has been detailed by reality TV.

Kardashian, who is pregnant with Kanye West's baby, was married to Humphries for 72 days in 2011.

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Disney XD Renews Breakout Comedy

Disney XD renewed a comedy series that has been a breakout hit for the network. Deadline.com reports that the channel will bring back "Crash & Bernstein" for a second season, with the network aiming for a fall 2013 premiere.

The series tracks Wyatt Bernstein, played by Cole Jensen, as a boy who wants a brother, and gets his wish when his "Build-a-Bestie" toy comes to life as Crash, a puppet that's voiced by Tim Lagasse. The show will resume production in Van Nuys, Calif., in July, the story says.

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Twitter Talking With Viacom, NBCU About Video and Advertising

Twitter has held talks with Viacom and NBCUniversal about creating partnerships that would place more top-quality video and advertising on the social media network, reports Bloomberg.

Twitter has talked about hosting TV clips for Viacom, and selling ads with those segments, the story says. The social media company has also talked with NBCUniversal about a content deal.

Twitter wants to add more video as a way to get people to stay on the site and watch promotions. By streaming videos, it hopes to split any ad revenue with the networks, the story says. Deals may be struck by mid-May, and Twitter may reach out to other networks.

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How Was the TV Coverage of the Boston Bombings? Says One TV Columnist, 'Information moved faster than knowledge'

As viewers flocked to their TV sets yesterday to watch the horror in Boston, it soon became clear, as it often does in the live coverage of these kinds of tragic events, that real information is hard to come by.

Writes Joanne Ostrow, the TV critic for the Denver Post, "We know the drill: The moment of violent disruption, the sense of shock oddly mediated by the screen, replayed endlessly -- now on every platform. The repeated images become mere images, first shocking, then numbing."

She adds later, "For hours, broadcasters rehashed sketchy information. CBS’s Scott Pelley was the most restrained anchor-authority figure. Early on, NBC let Brian Williams chat unchecked (he’s wonderfully funny in late-night situations, a terrific writer on his “Rock Center,” and a solid everyday anchor. But in the midst of this breaking news, he seemed too glib about Boston, the marathon and everything else. He made up for that in a primetime hour). ABC’s George Stephanopoulos’ early debriefing of terrorism experts was more informative, even when they had nothing conclusive to say. CNN’s oddly monotone and repetitive Wolf Blitzer was a caricature of the excitable cable news anchor. Fox’s Sean Hannity managed to work the gun debate into the Boston bombing discussion."

Ostrow also notes, "We were told that cell service was disrupted so as not to set off additional bombs. That report was then retracted. We heard the JFK Library had a third bomb. That report later knocked down. A suspect was held at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Authorities later said not so. More unexploded bombs? Maybe, maybe not. Information moves faster than knowledge and still the finish-line explosion footage rolls.

"We remind ourselves that some people haven’t been watching since mid-afternoon, that it’s new to them, that TV in breaking news situations is like all-news radio, not meant to be consumed hour after hour but only in small doses. As first-time audience members fill the room, the fright is fresh to them. But it’s difficult to experience anew, it’s so much a part of memory now. (The older man who fell after the blast was doing okay, Twitter updated.) Isn’t it time to take a break from TV? family members ask."

We urge you to click on the link above to read Ostrow's full commentary. Another commentator, Variety's insightful TV critic Brian Lowry, wrote a similar piece that you can read if you click here.

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Emmy-Winning Commentator for CBS's Boston Affiliate, WBZ, Says, 'Evil swine scattered bombs around crowded areas in what will prove to be an utterly failed effort to terrorize us'

Jon Keller, the Emmy-winning political commentator for CBS’s Boston affiliate, WBZ-TV, insists that the bombs that exploded Monday during the Boston marathon will not terrorize his fellow Bostonians.

In a commentary that you can read  in its entirety or listen to here, Keller begins, “We knew this would happen someday, that no matter what precautions we took, our freedom to mingle and our insistence on enjoying civic life would one day leave us vulnerable to an attack by vicious, ignorant, hate-filled criminals."

He later continues, “And so it comes as more of a shock than a surprise that it did happen here, that evil swine scattered bombs around crowded areas in what will prove to be an utterly failed effort to terrorize us. I know that it failed because I’ve already seen the evidence.

"Down on the Boston Common Monday, I saw no signs of panic in the crowds walking away from the crime scene, only contained anger, and determination to both help those who needed it and defy the perpetrators of this atrocity."

Keller concludes, "Here’s a concrete step we can take -- we can make a special point of patronizing the restaurants and stores in the crime scene area bounded by Clarendon Street, Huntington Ave., Dalton Street and Newbury Street.

"They’ll be losing a lot of business over the next couple of days while the area is cordoned off. Let’s make sure none of them are too badly hurt by this foul, failed attempt to break us."

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Deadly Explosions Rock Boston Marathon

CNN is reporting that a pair of explosions went off this afternoon near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, reportedly leaving at least two people dead. Boston police gave an update on the casualties around 4 p.m. ET, saying that at least 23 people had been injured.

Other early reports placed the number of injured higher, with some observers saying “dozens” of people had been hurt. The facts in the incident were still developing, and the numbers were expected to change.

CNN reported on its website: “The blasts occurred a few seconds apart, shrouding downtown Boston's Copley Square in smoke. Paramedics were treating several victims at the scene, and police ordered onlookers to back away from the area, CNN Producer Matt Frucci reported.”

Some of the injuries have been described by witnesses as severe.

CNN.com adds: “The explosions occurred about 2:45 p.m., about an hour after the first runners had crossed the finish line, Frucci said.”

Cable news channels and the broadcast networks cut to full-time coverage of the chaotic developments in Boston, as did many local TV stations around the country. In Los Angeles almost all of the local stations interrupted their normal programming and remained on the Boston story more than an hour and a half after the incident occurred.

NBC, CBS and ABC brought in their top news personnel and shifted to full-time coverage of the explosions, which were captured on video.

According to some reports, unexploded bombs were found in the area. The blasts were being referred to as a “bombing” by some, including Vice President Joe Biden. However, it was unclear in the immediate aftermath of the explosions whether they might have been accidental.

Nonetheless, security personnel were reportedly on high alert in Boston, with the Massachusetts National Guard called in. Security was also stepped up in New York City, CNN reports.

The FBI was reportedly working with Boston authorities to try to piece together what happened.

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Dish Makes $25.5 Billion Bid for Sprint

In a move that could change relationships between consumers and their data providers, Dish Network is making a high-stakes bid for Sprint Nextel, The New York Times reports.

“Smartphones, tablets and computers all pull data from the Internet, but people still pay two different bills: the high-speed connection they get at home, and the wireless connection they get outside,” the piece reports. “Dish Network, the pay-TV operator, wants to bridge that gap.”

Dish’s bid for the country’s third-largest wireless carrier is valued at $25.5 billion. “A merger between the two companies could roll television, high-speed Internet and cellphone services into a single package that would be faster and more affordable for consumers,” the story reports.

In a phone interview, Charlie Ergen, Dish Network’s chairman, said: “It really means that we’re going to give consumers what every consumer wants. They want broadband and video and voice in their home and want the exact same thing outside the home. And they want it to look and feel and [be] priced outside the same as it is inside.”

The report adds: “Dish Network’s bid is an effort to scupper the planned takeover of Sprint Nextel by the Japanese telecommunications company SoftBank, which agreed in October to acquire a 70 percent stake in the American cellphone operator in a complex deal worth about $20 billion.”

Dish said its offer, in cash and stock, is worth about 13% more than the SoftBank bid.

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Comedians Pounce on Justin Bieber's Odd Comment at Holocaust Victim's House

A visit by young and often unpredictable pop superstar Justin Bieber to the home of Holocaust victim Anne Frank had some observers scratching their heads, comedians reeling off one-liners and many of Bieber’s fans asking, “Who’s Anne Frank?,” Rolling Stone reports.

Bieber wrote in the guestbook at the Anne Frank House: "Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber." That last line sparked an Internet firestorm after the museum posted the entry on Facebook.

“The message has largely been derided as narcissistic and self-serving, a sentiment that some of Bieber's 37 million Twitter followers have sought to counter with messages of support,” the story reports. “Notably, many of his fans have said they didn't know who Anne Frank was, which has some commentators hoping the whole incident will mean increased expsoure for Frank and ‘The Diary of a Young Girl,’ her chronicle of two years spent hiding from the Nazis in occupied Amsterdam during World War II.”

For its part, the museum had only positive things to say about Bieber, posting on Facebook: "The Anne Frank House was pleased to welcome Justin Bieber to the Anne Frank House last Friday. We think it is very positive that he took the time and effort to visit our museum. ... We hope that his visit will inspire his fans to learn more about her life and hopefully read the diary."

But the entertainment community jumped all over Bieber with a flood of Twitter posts. Here are some samples from the Rolling Stone piece:

Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais), April 14, 2013: “I agree with Justin Bieber. Anne Frank would've loved his stuff. It's perfect for being played really really quietly so no one can hear it.”

Albert Brooks (@AlbertBrooks), April 15, 2013: “Justin Bieber said he hoped Anne Frank would have been a fan. I really want to kill myself.”

Rainn Wilson (@rainnwilson), April 14, 2013: "’Who's this Anne Frank & why is he visiting her HOUSE? Are they dating?! OMG!’ -93% of beliebers”

Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling), April 15, 2013: “I'm out of the country & the news seems lame guys. Accidental Racist? Bieber's Anne Frank thing? Kobe's Achilles heel is compelling I guess”

Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane), April 15, 2013: “I think President John Tyler would've been a Belieber.”

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Comedy Central Orders Its First-Ever Dramatic Comedy Series

Comedy Central announced that it has ordered its first dramatic comedy series. The cable network ordered HBO’s digital series “Brody Stevens: Enjoy It!,” it was announced by Kent Alterman, president of content development and original programming.

Comedy Central will expand the six existing episodes of the series along with producing six all-new episodes. The existing episodes will be expanded to a half-hour each.

Stevens will also be featured in Comedy Central’s “The Half Hour,” with his stand-up set slated to air this summer. Stevens is also working on the 17-episode digital series “Push & Believe” for the cable network, following comedians as they prepare for their turn on “The Half Hour.”

“Brody Stevens: Enjoy It!” is executive produced by Stevens, Zach Galifianakis, Mike Gibbons, Generate’s Dave Rath and Funny Or Die and directed by Dean Fleisher-Camp.

Here's a taste of "Push & Believe":

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NBC's Bob Costas Rips Into CBS

NBC sportscaster Bob Costas lashed out at CBS during an appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show,” ripping into the network for failing to acknowledge "Augusta's history of racism and sexism" during its Masters coverage, reports Deadspin.

"What no CBS commentator has ever alluded to, even in passing, even during a rain delay, even when there was time to do so, is Augusta's history of racism and sexism,” Costas said on the show. “Even when people were protesting just outside the grounds -- forget about taking a side -- never acknowledging it. So not only will I never work the Masters because I'm not at CBS, but I'd have to say something and then I would be ejected."

While Costas didn't refer to CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz by name, he seemed to indicate he feels Nantz should have taken a stand, Deadspin reports.

"I think someone should [have] had the guts to do it along the way,” Costas said. “Broadcaster, executive, somebody should have said to someone at Augusta, 'Look, this is an issue. And this is not “Nightline” or “Meet the Press” -- we understand that. But this is an issue. And it's an elephant in the room. And we're going to address it as concisely as we can but we're going to address it so our heads are not in the collective sand trap.’”

bob-costas.jpgBob Costas

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AMC Moves Series to Saturday -- But Does This Mean What It Usually Means?

Moving a series to Saturday night is usually a bad sign for the series, but AMC’s latest move appears to be a different story. The cable channel made the decision to shift "Hell on Wheels" in the hopes of building something on Saturday nights, Bill Carter reports in The New York Times.

“Starting this summer, AMC, the channel behind some of television’s most talked-about dramas, like ‘Mad Men,’ ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘The Walking Dead,’ plans to march head on into the programming Death Valley that has been Saturday night with a strategy built around a simple premise: a lot of men still like watching cowboys,” Carter reports.

“This week, at the network’s upfront, the annual programming presentation for advertisers in New York, AMC, whose hits thus far have all come on Sunday night, will announce a plan to open up a second night of original drama. Starting Aug. 3, it will move its established western series, ‘Hell on Wheels,’ to Saturdays.”

Execs at AMC are reportedly excited about the programming move. Said AMC President Charlie Collier: “It’s an effort to open up another night of original programming, but also it’s strategic. I’m looking at the opportunity. We have decades of empirical evidence that Western fans are available on Saturdays.”

Carter notes: “Much of that evidence has come from AMC itself, which has filled its Saturday schedule with classic Western movies like ‘Hondo’ and ‘High Plains Drifter,’ and more recently with classic cowboy television shows. The network acquired ‘The Rifleman,’ and in the last 18 months has had remarkable ratings returns for that hit from the late 1950s.”

The show recently drew 509,000 viewers on a Saturday afternoon, the piece notes.

The network will also announce at its upfront this week that it has acquired the classic TV show "Rawhide," which starred Clint Eastwood. That and other Westerns will provide a lead-in to "Hell on Wheels," set during the construction of the transcontinental railroad.

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Jeff Zucker Poaches One of Katie Couric's Top Producers for CNN

[Updated on 4-15-13 at 9:45 a.m. PT to reflect that this story was first reported by Brian Stelter of The New York Times, not The Hollywood Reporter.]

CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker has poached one of Katie Couric's executive producers, after the producer was originally recruited to "Katie" by Zucker himself, according to Brian Stelter of The New York Times.

The executive producer is Michael Bass. Writes Stelter,"...Bass, a longtime deputy of Mr. Zucker’s dating from their days at 'Today' on NBC, left 'Katie' last Friday, [April 12, 2013] in the latest of several backstage changes there. At CNN, Mr. Bass will be a senior vice president, reporting to Mr. Zucker, according to people at the cable news channel and at 'Katie' who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the move had not been announced."

The Times story adds, "Mr. Bass will not be replaced immediately at 'Katie,' partly because the show added Ethan Nelson, another co-executive producer with a news background, two months ago. Mr. Nelson previously worked at 'Good Morning America.'

"But people at 'Katie' and its distributor, the Walt Disney Company, say they expect a shake-up after the first season ends and before the second season begins. The executive who replaced Mr. Zucker just three months ago, Michael Morrison, has been marginalized, according to several staff members there, so much so that rumors are running rampant that he is about to be replaced."

The Times notes that spokespeople for CNN and, separately, 'Katie," declined to comment.

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New York Times Catches Up With the Appeal of Cord-Cutting

By Chuck  Ross, TVWeek 

One of the longtime jokes about The New York Times is that by the time it pinpoints something as a trend, the trend is practically mainstream.

Case in point: Today's (April 15, 2013) essay in the print and online editions of The Times by its Media Equation columnist, David Carr. The headline of the piece  reads "More Cracks Undermine the Citadel of TV Profits."

Here's how the article begins: "For the longest time in the media business, the concept of the bundle has been foundational. Ads go with editorial content in print, commercials go with programming on television and the channels you desire are paired with ones you did not in your cable package.

"People were free to shop for what they wanted, as long as they were willing to buy a bunch of other stuff they did not. The box score last night for your home team? It was wrapped inside a bundle of paper that included everything from foreign news to ads for lingerie. If you liked a song, you generally had to buy an album full of others to get the goods."

Carr then says that these media fundamentals are "under attack."

At  the end of a piece that is about 1,200 words long, Carr concludes with these three paragraphs:

"... Like many Americans, I spent this weekend watching the fight to wear a green jacket at the Masters. But a funny thing happened on the way to the clubhouse at Augusta, Ga.: I took a detour. The Masters app, which let me omnisciently check the leader board, scan for my own highlights and toggle between specific groups or holes, sucked me in.

"The second screen experience slowly replaced the first -- I barely looked up at the television. CBS’s reverent, almost whispered coverage took a back seat as I programmed my version of the Masters. The function that would have allowed me to throw the Internet coverage to my big-screen television was not enabled, but that’s only a matter of time. Change often comes very slowly, but then happens all at once.

"CBS paid dearly for rights to the Masters, marketers ponied up to advertise in limited spots and my cable provider paid a hefty toll in terms of retransmission fees, but there I was, staring at the device on my lap, looking at a bright future -- no cable, no commercials, no bundle required."

Note from Millennials and even those of us somewhat older: Welcome to the 21st century, Mr. Carr.

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The Highest-Paid Media Exec Takes a Pay Cut -- But He's Still No. 1

The executive who is recognized as the highest-paid CEO in the media industry took a pay cut in 2012. Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Joe Flint reports that CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves remains in the top spot, earning $62.2 million last year.

That represents a cut from 2011, when his pay package was worth nearly $70 million.

For 2012, Moonves received a base salary of $3.5 million and a bonus of $27 million. The remainder of his pay package was in stock awards and option awards.

"Moonves is far and away the most well-compensated media executive for 2012,” Flint writes. “Discovery CEO David Zaslav had a package valued at almost $50 million. Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger's compensation had a value of $40.2 million. Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes' package was valued at $25.9 million."

CBS pointed to record results in 2012, noting that "Moonves' compensation is reflective of all this success."

Sumner Redstone, the chairman of CBS, received a raise, earning a package worth $31.3 million, up from $20.3 million in 2011. The jump was attributed to an increase in the value of his pension, the story notes.

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'Parks and Recreation' Star Kicked Out of MTV Movie Awards

One of the stars of "Parks and Recreation" was ejected from the MTV Movie Awards after staging an incident the show's producers were not expecting, reports Deadline.com

 Aubrey Plaza, who plays April on the NBC comedy, got the boot after rushing on stage during the ceremony and trying to wrestle an award away from comedian Will Ferrell.

Plaza ran up while Ferrell was accepting the Comedic Genius Award, a move that was apparently made to hype her upcoming movie "The To-Do List," as the actress had the film’s title written across her chest.

MTV said the incident wasn't planned and that producers of the show kicked her off the lot where the show was held. Later, Ferrell told MTV backstage, "It was just a lot of liquor breath."

Here’s a clip:

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Heather Graham Joins Pay-Cable Series

Actress Heather Graham, known for her performances in movies including “Boogie Nights,” “The Hangover” and “The Spy Who Shagged Me,” is joining the Showtime series “Californication,” Deadline.com reports.

Graham will appear in a season-long arc during the show’s upcoming seventh season, the story reports. Also joining the show is Mary Lynn Rajskub from “24,” who has booked a three-episode arc.

“Graham will play a woman from Hank’s (David Duchovny) past whose arrival upends his life, while Rajskub will play a neurotic writer,” the piece reports.

The casting news follows the revelation that “Sopranos” star Michael Imperioli is joining the show, as we reported last week.

Production on season seven is set to begin later this month, with the season to premiere in 2014, the piece notes.

Thumbnail image for Heather-Graham.jpgHeather Graham

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Does Moonves' Silence About the Upfronts Mean Anything?

Industry insiders are keeping an eye on CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves in the runup to the broadcast networks’ upfront presentations to media buyers and advertisers.

Advertising Age reports that Moonves has been silent this year about predictions for the upfront, unusual for a man known for "chest-thumping over price increases.” That's leading to questions about "whether his quiet is cause for concern," the piece reports.

"How could his silence not signal anything?" said Marc Morse, senior vice president, national buying at RJ Palmer. "That's the problem -- when you boast and then you don't, the silence is louder. It implies something is wrong."

Moonves declined to make predictions at an investor conference last month, noting, "My sales guys killed me for the last two years when ... I guaranteed double-digit CPM growth. Two years ago, we were up 13 to 15%, I did OK, and last year we were only up 9%, so I was a little bit of a liar. But they made me swear I'm not going to give out any numbers [until] we get closer to it."

But with a month left until the upfronts, Moonves still hasn't spoken, the piece notes.

Most are expecting a "tepid" upfront, with Barclays Capital analyst Anthony DiClemente predicting broadcast-upfront revenue will increase by less than 1% to $9.2 billion, while cable will wrap with dollar volume up 2% to $9.99 billion, the story reports.

Please click here to read Ad Age’s full report.

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'Leave It to Beaver' Actor Dies at 71

An actor known for his role on the classic sitcom “Leave It to Beaver” has died. The New York Daily News reports that Frank Bank, who played Clarence "Lumpy" Rutherford on the series, died Saturday at 71.

No cause of death was given.

"Known as 'Lumpy' for his size and rather dim intellect, Clarence Rutherford was one of the several caricatures who made 'Leave It to Beaver' perhaps the most memorable teenage TV show of the late-‘50s era,” the piece notes.

“Beaver” originally aired from 1957-1963, first on CBS and then on ABC. Bank's character first appeared in season one, tormenting Wally and Beaver Cleaver. "His bullying never caused any real harm, though, mostly because he was so incompetent," the story says.

Bank had guest roles on other 1950s shows, but he left acting after "Beaver" ended and became a bond broker. He reprised his role as Lumpy in the 1983 movie "Still the Beaver" and the 1980s television show "The New Leave It to Beaver," the piece notes.

Here’s a clip from “Leave It to Beaver” featuring Bank as Lumpy:

frank-bank.jpgFrank Bank

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Surprise Entry Tops List of Year's Most Controversial Books

The top selection on a new list of the most controversial books of the past year is a surprise. The Associated Press reports that the list released by the American Library Association places a children’s book, “Captain Underpants,” in the top spot.

One of the favorites to make the list, the erotic trilogy "Fifty Shades of Grey," a multimillion seller by E L James, came in at No. 4.

The list released today ranks the most "challenged books" each year -- “works subject to complaints from parents, educators and other members of the public,” the story reports. “The objections: offensive language, and, of course, graphic sexual content.”

Dav Pilkey's "Captain Underpants" books were cited for “offensive language, unsuited for age group.” Next on the list are “Sherman Alexie's prize-winning ‘The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian’ (offensive language, racism, sexually explicit), and Jay Asher's ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’(drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide),” the piece reports. “Also on the list, at No. 10, Nobel laureate Toni Morrison's ‘Beloved’ (sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence).”

Pilkey released a statement responding to the “Underpants” selection, saying: "It's pretty exciting to be on a list that frequently features Mark Twain, Harper Lee, and Maya Angelou. But I worry that some parents might see this list and discourage their kids from reading ‘Captain Underpants,' even though they have not had a chance to read the books themselves."

The report notes: “The ‘Fifty Shades’ books were released last spring and public libraries in Georgia, Florida and elsewhere soon pulled the racy romance trilogy or decided not to order the books, saying they were too steamy or too poorly written. Local library representatives at the time denounced the novels as ‘semi-pornographic’ and unfit for ‘community standards.’"

The library group’s Office for Intellectual Freedom defines a challenge as a "formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness,” the story reports.

The piece notes that the list “included some works highly regarded in the literary community: Morrison's ‘Beloved,’ winner of the Pulitzer Prize; Alexie's novel, a National Book Award winner; and a book club favorite, Khaled Hosseini's ‘The Kite Runner’ (homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit). Young adult star John Green was on, for ‘Looking for Alaska’ (offensive language, sexually explicit), along with perennial chart-maker ‘And Tango Makes Three,’ by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, the story of two male penguins who raise a baby penguin. Also on the list were Alvin Schwartz's ‘Scary Stories’ (unsuited for age group) and Jeanette Wells' memoir ‘The Glass Castle’ (offensive language, sexually explicit).”

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North Korea Documentary Caught in Controversy

The BBC said it is going ahead with plans to air a documentary about North Korea despite a controversy that has flared up over the production.

The broadcaster has come under fire from the London School of Economics (LSE) over using its students to gain access to the country and allegedly putting the students at risk, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“BBC journalist John Sweeney and other reporters snuck into the country posing as LSE students to gain access for an episode of the broadcaster's flagship current affairs program, ‘Panorama,’ which is scheduled for broadcast on BBC One [tonight],” the piece reports. “For its part, the BBC said it had made the students -- traveling to North Korea with the state's official OK -- aware of the dangers, which included possible detention and prison if discovered.”

LSE Chairman Peter Sutherland asked the BBC to spike the documentary, “North Korea Uncovered,” but that request was rejected by BBC Director General Tony Hall, the piece reports.

Hall reportedly said that the program should be televised because of “a clear public interest in reporting on the escalating situation in North Korea,” THR reports.

“Sweeney himself told BBC News that the students had been fully informed of the risks involved so they could make an informed decision about the potential danger and whether or not they would go,” the report notes. “But the LSE said they had been deliberately misled by the BBC, and challenged the corporation's risk assessments.”

The piece notes that foreign journalists are typically denied visas by North Korea, while students are allowed in.

“Sweeney and two other journalists spent eight days in the country in March with the LSE group on a trip ostensibly arranged by the university's international relations department,” THR reports. “The LSE said it first became aware of the true nature of his visit last Tuesday during a meeting with BBC staff. The university said North Korean authorities alleged that Sweeney had described himself on his visa application as an ‘LSE student, PhD in history’ and gave as his address a room number that is used by a member of its academic staff.”

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Ratings Surge for Masters Golf Tournament

CBS’s coverage of Sunday’s final round of the 2013 Masters Tournament, in which Australian Adam Scott won the Green Jacket in a two-hole playoff over Argentina’s Angel Cabrera, saw a surge in ratings.

CBS Sports announced that the telecast earned an average household rating/share of 10.2/21 in Nielsen metered markets, up 26% from last year’s 8.1/19.

The coverage peaked with a 13.4/25 from 7-7:30 p.m. ET.

Coverage of Saturday’s third round on CBS delivered an average HH rating/share of 6.3/15, up 24% from last year’s 5.1/12 in metered markets, the network reported. The third-round rating peaked with a 7.2/17 from 5:30-6 p.m. ET.

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NBC Readying a Children's Version of 'The Voice'

NBC has a project in the pipeline that is a version of its hit singing competition "The Voice" for kids, aimed at featuring singers age 8 to 14, the New York Post reports.

While casting calls went out last week, the network placed the project on hold a few days later, deciding to tape the series at the same time and on the same stage as "The Voice,' the story says. "The Voice Kids" has been a hit in other countries such as Germany and Holland.

A source close to the project reportedly said producers hope to begin production by the end of this year.

A young version of "American Idol" debuted in 2003, but "American Juniors" failed to catch on and was canceled after one season.

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Will Chuck Lorre's New Sitcom Get a Choice Slot From CBS? And What's Up for the Network on the Drama Side?

In a report on the current pilot season, Deadline.com's Nellie Andreeva declares that "Chuck Lorre has done it again" by creating a successful frontrunner among this year's projects.

His CBS pilot "Mom" was likely to rise to the top on his clout alone, but the project recently pleased network executives with a "rousing table read," the story says.

"The only remaining question surrounding 'Mom' is where it will land on the schedule. I hear Monday 8:30 p.m. as a likely possibility. It makes a lot of sense, as 'How I Met Your Mother' is already a strong launching pad that most recently helped establish '2 Broke Girls' last year," Andreeva writes.

CBS seems pleased with its comedy development this year, although the picture is "still pretty murky" on the drama side, she adds. "'Beverly Hills Cop' continues to look like a sure bet, with the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced conspiracy thriller 'Hostages' also strong," Andreeva notes.

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Sandy Hook Activists Angered by 'Glee' School Shooting Episode

An episode of Fox’s “Glee” focused on a school shooting has angered family members of Sandy Hook victims and activists in Newtown, Conn.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the volunteer group Newtown Action Alliance, formed after the Sandy Hook massacre, put up a warning message on its Facebook page in advance of the episode, which aired last night.

The message urged people not to watch the episode, adding: "I would suggest if you do watch this TV show to either not watch it tonight or watch with caution.”

THR notes: “The Newtown-based volunteer group posted a message shortly afterward explaining that the suggestion was meant for town residents, not the wider world.”

The group’s post also said: "So, Glee is really going there ... and we are interested in your feedback. What do you think about this? Does it further the gun debate? Do you think the episode was timed to coincide with the events happening right now in Washington? Is it just a sensationalist attempt at ratings? Are you planning on watching it?"

A Sandy Hook parent also opened up about the episode. “Andrew Paley, whose two sons survived the Sandy Hook massacre, slammed the show on Facebook for going forward with the shooting story line while the community is still healing from the events of Dec. 14,” THR reports.

Paley wrote: "Those of us with kids that survived the shooting do not need to watch this episode. It's too soon as our kids and our own wounds are still too new. I understand keeping it in the minds of the Nation but dammit, at least let the people of Newtown know before hand. I found out because an old friend who blogs about the show [gave] me a heads up. The producers should be ashamed to not think of us and how we'd feel if we just happened to be watching."

Paley appeared today on CNN to reinforce his objections to Fox’s action. "We have no problem, at least the parents I've spoken to, that they aired an episode that had a school shooting,” he said. “It's reality. It happened here. It happened at Columbine. ... What's really upsetting is that no one, none of the producers, reached out to the town of Newtown to let us residents who were so close to this episode know ... ."

THR adds: “The award-winning series' latest socially relevant episode, called ‘Shooting Star,’ opened with a parental guidance warning. It shows members of New Directions hiding in a classroom after hearing gunshots in the hallway; there were no injuries but the harrowing experience left students shaken and cost Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) her job.”

The story line is expected to continue through the last four episodes of the show’s current fourth season, the piece notes.

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Odd Non-TV Story: Man Attacked and Killed by Beaver

A fisherman was attacked and killed by a beaver after the man tried to have his picture taken with the animal, the U.K.’s The Telegraph reports.

The beaver bit the man twice on the thigh, severing an artery, the piece reports. The attack took place in Belarus.

“The 60-year-old former serviceman, who has not been publicly identified, bled to death before an ambulance could reach him near Minkovichi in Brest region,” the story reports. “Eurasian beavers are common throughout much of Eastern Europe but attacks are rare and fatal cases are almost unheard of, experts said.”

Sergei Shtyk, the deputy head of the region's wildlife inspectorate, said the victim and two friends encountered the beaver during a fishing trip, and the victim approached the animal.

Said Shtyk: "It was early morning and already light when they saw a beaver by the road, which was unusual because beavers are nocturnal. One of them went up to be photographed with it, and the animal attacked him and bit him twice, cutting an artery in his thigh, before running away.

"The man's friends tried to bandage him and find a doctor in a nearby village but he died from blood loss before help arrived."

Another official, Sergei Shilinchuk, deputy head of Brest's environmental protection committee, said this was the worst beaver attack he had heard of. "People have lost fingers -- that's the worst I've come across," Shilinchuk said. "The beaver is not normally aggressive, but it does have big teeth and immensely powerful jaws; it can cut down a tree three feet wide."

Belarus has reportedly seen a rapid increase in its beaver population in the past five years. “There are thought to be up to 80,000 of the animals in the country as a whole,” the report notes. “Demand for their fur has dropped off sharply since its Soviet heyday, and current levels of shooting and trapping are not enough to keep the population in check.”

Shilinchuk added: "We're making efforts to stimulate commercial use of beaver meat but that hasn't taken off yet.”

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'American Idol' Ratings: Show Appears to Have Stopped the Bleeding

The worst may be over for Fox’s “American Idol” in its recent struggle with ratings. The show was up Thursday night in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights, leading Fox to a ratings win for the night.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “Idol” delivered a 3.1 average rating in 18-49, improving two-tenths of a point from a week ago. Fox’s “Glee” was also up, drawing a 2.4 average, four-tenths better than its previous original episode.

Fox’s 2.7 average for prime time in viewers 18-49 gave the network an easy win over CBS (1.9 average), Univision (1.6), NBC (1.5) and ABC (1.2). CBS aired all repeats and ABC put up just one fresh program.

Fox had a narrow win for prime time in total viewers, averaging 9.8 million to lead CBS (9.0 million), ABC (4.2 million), Univision (3.9 million) and NBC (3.5 million).

ABC’s “Wife Swap” ticked up one-tenth from last week to score a 1.4 average rating in the 18-49 demo.

NBC was on pace with a week ago, with a couple of shows posting slight gains. The network’s highest-rated show was “The Office” with a 1.9 in 18-49, up one-tenth from a week ago. “Community” rose two-tenths, rebounding from last week’s series low to post a 1.2. Holding steady to last week’s numbers were “Parks and Recreation” (1.5 average), “Go On” (1.1) and “Hannibal” (1.6), which equaled last week’s premiere number.

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'Veronica Mars' Movie Raises $5 Million

In what some are calling the future of film, the effort to raise money for a “Veronica Mars” feature film has topped $5 million on the crowdsourcing site Kickstarter, Entertainmentwise reports.

The TV version, starring Kristen Bell, aired from 2004-2007 on UPN and CW. Show creator Rob Thomas took to Kickstarter to generate funding to revive the show as a movie.

After reaching the $5 million milestone, Thomas tweeted: "$5 MILLION! Holy Cow! This was my secret dream number that dare not speak its name. Thanks, everyone!"

Next up, Thomas is taking the effort to Comic-Con in San Diego in July.

He reportedly wrote in an email to his backers: "Even if we have an official panel at SDCC, we're planning to pull out all the stops for our own exclusive event, so this is the one you'll want to be at.”

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Kristin Chenoweth Lands Role in Matthew Broderick Comedy

Emmy-winning actress Kristin Chenoweth is now a key player in a new comedy project starring Matthew Broderick. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Chenoweth will play the sister of Broderick’s character in the new CBS pilot from Tad Quill (“Scrubs”).

“The untitled multicamera comedy centers on Jack (Broderick), a recently widowed father raising his 12-year-old son while jumping back into the dating pool,” the story reports. “Chenoweth, also a Broadway alum, will play Marnie, described as Jack's ‘cute’ and ‘judgmental’ sister who works as a waitress.”

Veteran James Burrows will direct the pilot, with Quill writing and executive producing. CBS Television Studios is producing.

Chenoweth won an Emmy Award in 2009 for her supporting role on “Pushing Daisies.”

Thumbnail image for kristin-chenoweth.jpgKristin Chenoweth

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HBO Sets Return Date for Drama Series

HBO has taken the wraps off its plan for a drama series that will be back for a new season starting in July. Deadline.com reports that season two of “The Newsroom” will premiere July 14.

“The Aaron Sorkin-created TV journalism series first premiered on HBO on June 24, 2012,” the report notes. “HBO announced a second-season pickup for ‘The Newsroom’ on July 2, 2012. The show stars Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Olivia Munn, and Sam Waterston.”

Jane Fonda and Terry Crews played recurring characters during the show’s first season, the piece notes.

The show’s first-season finale, which aired Aug. 26, attracted a season-high 2.3 million viewers, the report adds.

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Legendary Comedian Dies

One of the greatest legends of comedy, who became an inspiration to generations of comedians who followed him, has died. USA Today reports that Jonathan Winters died Thursday evening at his home in Montecito, Calif., of natural causes. He was 87.

“Winters' career began when he won a talent contest in Dayton, Ohio, which led to radio gigs and appearances at comedy clubs, along with comedy albums,” the story reports. “He was a favorite guest on the late-night TV circuit for decades, often appearing with Jack Paar, Johnny Carson and Steve Allen. And he often performed in character. One one of his best known was Maude Frickert, an old lady with a quick and acid wit. He had his own TV show in the 1950s.”

Here’s a clip of Winters roasting Frank Sinatra:


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Will Updated Version of Long-Running Fox Series Wind Up on CNN?

The creator and host of a series that has been a fixture on television since the 1980s reportedly plans to pitch a new show to CNN.

"America's Most Wanted" creator John Walsh tells TV Guide that he's considering options for the show, and will meet with CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker this month about possibly joining the network. “AMW” aired from 1988-2011 on Fox and had a brief run on Lifetime before being canceled last month.

"Maybe Jeff will say there's room on this channel, especially with CNN's international reach," Walsh told the publication. "They ask me constantly to go on Anderson Cooper, Erin Burnett and Piers Morgan. Maybe I can come up with some kind of hybrid show that might serve those purposes. ... I hope that maybe with the blessing of Lifetime that I might be able to do something."

Walsh is still working with Lifetime, even after the network canceled "America's Most Wanted," including working on a project called "John Walsh Investigates." It will focus on three cases per episode, with the pilot looking at the case of convicted murderer and sex offender Joseph Edward Duncan, among others.

"I'm not ready to throw the towel in yet. It's very hard to turn down these people who are constantly reaching out and saying, 'Catch this guy, find justice for me.' We are the court of last resort," Walsh said.

Walsh, who once hosted a syndie talk show for Zucker at NBC, said of the new CNN boss: "He knows my passion."

“America's Most Wanted” has been off television since October, after a 25-season run in which it is credited with helping to catch 1,202 criminals. But if some version of the show returns, it is likely to be under a new name.

Said Walsh: "Lifetime had to pay pretty heavy duty license fees to use the name ‘America's Most Wanted.’ That's something Fox trademarked and copyrighted before I even did the show.”

Walsh’s next venture is likely to step away from the “AMW” brand. "I think it would be easier," he said. "Fox has been great to me. But with the ‘America's Most Wanted’ brand name comes the license fee and the obligation to Fox. And that comes off the top. Not to disrespect Fox in any way or their support to me, but maybe it's time to make it something else. I'm in that thought process."

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'Homeland' Loses One of Its Regular Characters

A pivotal character on Showtime’s acclaimed terrorist drama “Homeland” won’t be back as a regular. Deadline.com reports that David Marciano, the actor who has played the snoop Virgil since "Homeland’s” pilot, won't return to the show for the third season as a regular, although he could appear as a recurring guest star.

Marciano follows Diego Klattenhoff in moving away from a regular role on the show, the story says. Three other regulars, meanwhile -- David Harewood, Jamie Sheridan and Navid Negahban -- left as their characters were killed off.

The story adds, "The rest of 'Homeland's’ regular cast, led by Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, Mandy Patinkin and Morena Baccarin, will likely return in their previous capacity."


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IMDb Prevails in Battle Over Revealing Age of Actress

A jury in Seattle handed a win Thursday to IMDb in a lawsuit by an actress who sued after the site revealed her age, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq.

"In bringing the lawsuit, [actress Huong] Hoang was determined to make a point about how IMDb's publication of her birthdate had caused her harm,” the piece reports. “As Hoang said in the complaint that she filed in federal court in October, 2011, 'In the entertainment industry, youth is king.'"

The jury decided that the site hadn't breached any legal obligations to the 42-year-old actress, however.

The article notes that both sides had their own views about what the trial was about. For Hoang, who goes by Junie Hoang professionally, the case was about "perception, your age, how you look." IMDb, though, saw it as "a search for truth," according to its attorney, and the right for IMDb to present accurate information, the piece reports.


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Upcoming History Miniseries Will Focus on Turbulent Period in U.S. History

Following up on its ratings success with "The Bible" and "Hatfields & McCoys," History is working on another historical miniseries, focusing this time on the Revolutionary War, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

"Sons of Liberty" will follow a group of revolutionaries including John Adams, Paul Revere, John Hancock and Sam Adams, the story says.

Few details have surfaced about the project, although it comes from Stephen David Entertainment, which produced History's "The Men Who Built America." That miniseries focused on titans such as J.P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie.

History also just announced this week that it has a Harry Houdini project in the pipeline, as previously reported.


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DreamWorks Has Picked its Next Franchise, and It'll Be Familiar to Anyone Who Grew Up in the 1960s

DreamWorks Animation has picked its next franchise, and it's a familiar toy from the 1960s. Bloomberg reports that the media company will focus on fuzzy-headed Troll dolls.

CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg is buying the rights to the characters and stories to create television shows, films and merchandise, the piece notes.

"Trolls is a brand with over 50 years of deep heritage and we are thrilled to bring this iconic, multi-generational property to DreamWorks Animation,” said COO Ann Daly in a statement.

DreamWorks Animation will become the worldwide licensor for Trolls merchandise, except in Scandinavia, where Dam Things continues to hold the rights, the story says.

The Troll doll was created in 1959 by fisherman and woodcutter Thomas Dam, who was too poor to buy a Christmas present for his daughter, and instead carved a doll for her, according to a statement published by Deadline.com.

The statement adds, "This modern-day Geppetto couldn’t have imagined that the Troll dolls would soon become one of the biggest toy crazes of the 1960s. The Trolls experienced a resurgence in the 1990s, and in 2003, the Toy Industry of America named Trolls on its list of One Hundred of the Century’s Most Treasured Toys."


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'Sopranos' Actress Returning to FX Drama

An actress known for her performance on HBO’s “The Sopranos” is headed back to FX’s “Sons of Anarchy.” TVLine.com reports that Drea de Matteo will reprise her role as Jax's ex-wife and the mother of his first child.

Her character, Wendy, will appear in the sixth-season premiere in September, according to EW.com's Inside TV. A song written by "Sons of Anarchy" creator Kurt Sutter and de Matteo's longtime partner, Shooter Jennings, will also air during the sixth season, the piece notes.

The actress won an Emmy for her work as the tormented Adriana La Cerva on “The Sopranos” in 2004.

Thumbnail image for drea-de-matteo.jpgDrea de Matteo

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No Reason to Worry About Aereo, Sinclair CEO Says

Sinclair Broadcasting CEO David Smith said he's not concerned about Aereo, the $12-per-month television streaming service that pushed the top broadcasters to sue for copyright infringement. TVNewsCheck reports that Smith made the comments during a conference call with analysts.

Smith said there may have been misunderstandings about Fox and Univision's threats to move to cable because of Aereo.

"The notion they would go to cable means they would go to cable through us," Smith said. "We would substitute other programming in prime time and in dayparts as we see fit to be competitive with Aereo. ... It means we would change our cable content versus our over-the-air content."

He added that Aereo's technology isn't proprietary and that broadcasters could do it on their own. "I have no concern about Aereo whatsoever," he said.


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Video: 'The Simpsons' Take On 'Breaking Bad'

"The Simpsons" are taking on the AMC hit "Breaking Bad," with an opening segment inspired by the meth-focused drama series, reports Deadline.com.

The opening plays to "Crystal Blue Persuasion," a song that played a pivotal role in a recent "Breaking Bad" episode, with Marge putting on a "Kiss the Cook" apron and baking up blue cupcakes (apparently she's "baking bad"). Homer does a Heisenberg impression, while the tribute includes a cameo from "Breaking Bad" stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul.

Here’s a glance at the segment:


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Netflix Might Be Bigger Than Any Cable Network

Viewers spend more time with Netflix than with any cable network, according to BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield, reports Deadline.com.

The analyst announced his conclusion after Netflix CEO Reed Hastings posted on Facebook that his company streamed more than 4 billion hours of programming in the first quarter.

"The information is important because many investors wonder whether the streaming video company is spending too much on programming," the story notes.

With the latest figures from Netflix, Greenfield figures that each subscriber is watching 87 minutes of the service each day, up from his calculation last year of 79 minutes.

"Netflix is now likely the most watched cable network, essentially in-line with the Disney Channel,” Greenfield wrote, according to the story.

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'Copper' Casts Four-Time Emmy Winner, Who's Also a 16-Time Nominee

BBC America's "Copper" has cast a four-time Emmy winner and 16-time Emmy nominee in its second season. EW.com's Inside TV reports that the period crime drama is bringing Alfre Woodard aboard.

Woodard will appear in a five-episode arc in the second season, playing Hattie Lemaster, a former slave who has arrived in 1865 New York to start a new life. "Copper" is BBC America's first original scripted series, and its second season will premiere June 23, picking up before President Lincoln's assassination.

The series follows Detective Kevin Corcoran, played by Tom Weston-Jones.

“Previously announced guest stars lined up for season 2 include Eamonn Walker (‘Chicago Fire’) as legendary abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass, Lee Tergesen (‘Army Wives’) as a new criminal foe for Corcoran, and Andrew Howard (‘Burn Notice’) as the manager of a budding criminal organization,” the report adds.

Woodard has a string of 16 Emmy nominations going back to 1984, with wins for “Hill Street Blues,” “L.A. Law,” “Miss Evers’ Boys” and “The Practice.” She was most recently nominated in 2011 for “True Blood.”

She also has an Oscar nomination, for the 1983 movie “Cross Creek,” and a Daytime Emmy nomination for “The Wishing Tree” in 2001.

alfre-woodard.jpgAlfre Woodard

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Why Charlie Sheen Returned This Week to the Warner Bros. Lot -- After Being Banned From the Lot Two Years Ago

Actor Charlie Sheen returned to the scene of much of the drama associated with his 2011 public meltdown, the Warner Bros. lot -- where he was banned at the height of tensions between the actor and “Two and a Half Men” creator Chuck Lorre.

Deadline.com reports that Sheen “set foot on the lot for the first time, appearing on ‘Conan’ to promote his cameo in ‘Scary Movie 5.’” Sheen’s return to the lot this week was in contrast to his previous appearance two years ago, as this time “he arrived in a military tank, joined inside by two ‘goddesses,’” the report notes.

Sheen commented on his return visit: “When we pulled up to the gate, they ran like a really intense security check. Not that intense … but I used to be able to just cruise on in. Not anymore.”

“But some things haven’t changed,” the story reports, “like Sheen harboring bad feelings against ‘Men’ executive producer Chuck Lorre and Warner Bros., which fired him from the show. He said he deals his anger issues by whacking a watermelon-filled duffel bag with a bat and imagining there is ‘a Warner Bros. executive hugging Chuck Lorre’ inside.”

charlie-sheen.jpgCharlie Sheen

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Cablevision's Dolans See Huge Pay Raises

Cablevision Systems CEO James Dolan and his father, chairman and founder Charles Dolan, each received raises last year of about 50% over what they made in 2011, reports B&C.

James Dolan received $16.9 million in 2012 total compensation, or a 48% jump, while his father received $16.6 million last year, an increase of about 50%.

While base salaries were unchanged at $1.75 million for James and $1.66 million for Charles, both saw big jumps due to option awards. Charles Dolan was given $7.1 million in option awards last year, while James Dolan was given $6.9 in option awards. Neither received option awards in 2011.

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Tiny Uptick for Fox's 'Idol' in Wednesday Ratings -- But Another Unscripted Show Equals Its Worst-Ever Number

Fox’s “American Idol” showed signs of life in the Wednesday ratings, based on Nielsen overnights, while another unscripted show lost ground. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that CBS’s “Survivor” equaled its all-time low in the key 18-49 demo.

“Idol’s” two-hour installment delivered a 3.2 average rating in viewers 18-49, rising just a bit -- one-tenth of a ratings point -- from last week. That was good enough to give Fox a win for prime time overall.

“Survivor: Caramoan” settled for a 2.4 in the 18-49 demo, off one-tenth from a week ago and equaling the series’ all-time low. CBS’s dramas were up: “Criminal Minds” rose two-tenths to a 3.0, while “CSI” climbed three-tenths to a 2.4.

ABC was paced by “Modern Family,” which turned in a 3.8 average in 18-49 to come in as the top show of the night on broadcast -- even though that number was off four-tenths from last week. The new comedy “How to Live with Your Parents” lost four-tenths from last week’s premiere to bring in a 2.5.

Elsewhere on ABC, “The Middle” held steady with a 2.0 in adults 18-49, “Suburgatory” dipped one-tenth to a 1.7 and “Nashville” ticked up one-tenth to a 1.8.

NBC aired repeats of “Hannibal” and “Law & Order: SVU,” while a fresh installment of “Dateline” managed a 1.2 average in 18-49, losing two-tenths from a week ago.

For prime time overall, Fox’s 3.2 average in 18-49 led the way, followed by CBS (2.6 average), ABC (2.3), Univision (1.6) and NBC (1.0). Fox also led total viewers with 12.0 million, followed by CBS (10.5 million), ABC (7.1 million), NBC (4.1 million) and Univision (3.8 million).

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Patricia Arquette Joins HBO Drama

Patricia Arquette has made her first major series commitment since she wrapped up seven seasons on “Medium” in early 2011. The veteran film and TV actress is joining HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” Deadline.com reports.

Arquette joins the series in a recurring role for season four, which is currently in production. “She will play Sally Wheet, a tough-as-nails Tampa speakeasy owner with connections to local gangsters,” the story reports.

The season is set to premiere later this year, with Ron Livingston and Jeffrey Wright among the new regulars to appear along with lead Steve Buscemi.

Arquette won an Emmy for “Medium” in 2005, and is known for a string of feature films including “Flirting With Disaster,” “Lost Highway” and “True Romance.”

patricia-arquette.jpgPatricia Arquette

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'Charlie Brown' Actor Pleads Guilty to Stalking

An actor who provided the voice of Charlie Brown in a string of animated “Peanuts” TV specials, including “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” has pleaded guilty to stalking and making criminal threats, People magazine reports.

Peter Robbins faces up to three years in prison in connection with incidents involving his former girlfriend and her doctor, the story reports.

“Robbins, 56, reportedly paid for breast-augmentation surgery for his then-girlfriend, Shawna Kern,” the piece reports. “But after their relationship ended following an alleged domestic-violence episode, he threatened Kern and the doctor in an attempt to get his money back, prosecutors said.”

Robbins was arrested on felony stalking charges in January at the border crossing between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, as previously reported. He initially pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Robbins was 9 years old when he became the voice of Charlie Brown.

Thumbnail image for peter-robbins.jpg

Peter Robbins

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Jay-Z's Scathing New Track Elicits Response From White House

In the wake of an alleged unauthorized trip to Cuba by Jay-Z and wife Beyonce, Jay-Z released a track today blasting politicians -- and earning a response from the White House, USA Today reports.

The track, “Open Letter,” includes the lyrics: "Politicians never did (expletive) for me / except lie to me, distort history," "I done turned Havana to Atlanta / Guayabera shirts and bandannas," "Boy from the hood got White House clearance,” and "They wanna give me jail time and a fine -- Fine, let me commit a real crime."

Many of the references appear to address the controversy stirred up by the Cuba trip, with Florida lawmakers among those looking into whether the trip was illegal. Today the White House responded to the reference to "White House clearance."

Said Jay Carney, the president's press secretary: "I guess nothing rhymes with Treasury. ... Because Treasury offers and gives licenses for travel, as you know, and the White House has nothing to do with it. "

Carney also said: "I am absolutely saying that the White House and president on down has not had anything to do with anyone's travel to Cuba -- that is something [for] Treasury to handle."

Carney added: "It's a song. The president did not communicate with Jay-Z over this trip."


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Why a Victoria's Secret Angel Is Poised to Be Stripped of Her Wings

One of the most recognizable, um, faces of the Victoria’s Secret lingerie line is reportedly on the verge of being fired, with her alleged “difficult reputation” cited as a factor. Us Weekly reports that Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr, 30, appears poised to be stripped of her wings.

“According to multiple sources, Kerr, 30, is being let go as a Victoria's Secret Angel after her $1 million, three-year contract ‘was not renewed,’" the piece reports. “The reason for the sudden split? One source tells Us that Kerr ‘has a difficult reputation.’"

A source said Kerr, who has a 2-year-old son with actor Orlando Bloom, is "not a big seller for VS," unlike other Angels such as Candice Swanepoel and Alessandra Ambrosio.

“Executives from Victoria's Secret wouldn't deny that the contract has not been renewed, but chief marketing officer Ed Razek tells Us that he has already invited Kerr to walk in the 2013 show,” Us reports.

Said Razek: "We have no plans to stop working with her.”

Another source noted: "They can still use her for catalogue, where she will get a day rate, but she doesn't have to be an Angel to do that."

miranda-kerr-VS-Angel.jpgMiranda Kerr

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CW Pulls Plug on Low-Rated Show

A low-rated show has been officially pulled from the CW's schedule. Deadline.com reports that the broadcast network had already unofficially killed the program, "Cult," when it sent the drama to Fridays.

The show's first two episodes averaged only a 0.3 rating in the key 18-49 demo. While the show won't return to the airwaves, it's possible that its remaining six episodes will be shown online.

In the show’s Friday time slot, repeats of "The Carrie Diaries" will air, with April 19 featuring an encore of the reality show "Oh Sit!," the report notes.

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Easy Target? Matt Lauer Mocks Himself Over His Sinking Popularity

Matt Lauer, the beleaguered co-host of NBC’s "Today" show, poked fun at his eroding popularity among viewers when he emceed an event sponsored by the UJA Federation of New York’s Broadcast Cable & Film Division, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

Lauer told the crowd he was surprised he had been asked to host the dinner, which honored Bloomberg Media Group CEO Andrew Lack, because if "you’ve been following the papers lately, you know it’s been a bit rough for me. These days, I only get asked to host dinners if polio is busy. Yup, I have a lower Q rating than polio right now.”

Later, he introduced his former "Today" co-host Katie Couric with this joke: "Katie has a way of making headlines. Who can forget when she was co-host of the ‘Today’ show? She got a colonoscopy on TV. Not to be outdone, two weeks ago, I got one in The New York Times.”

matt-lauer.jpgMatt Lauer

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'CSI' Taps Legendary Rock Band to Debut New Song on Its Finale

"CSI" has tapped a legendary rock band to perform a new song on the finale for the CBS crime drama, reports TVGuide.com. The band is Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne’s band.

The episode will air May 15, and will feature the CSI team investigating a trail of murders that lead them to a Black Sabbath show.

The band's TV appearance comes less than a month before Black Sabbath releases its new album "13," the story says. It's the first studio album for the group since 1978.

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Oscar-Winning Actor Working on Houdini Miniseries With History

An Academy Award-winning actor is working on a miniseries about escape artist Harry Houdini for History, reports EW.com's Inside TV. News of the project involving Adrien Brody comes on the heels of the network's success with two other miniseries projects, "The Bible" and "Hatfields & McCoys."

With a working title of "Houdini," the show has Gerald W. Abrams (the father of J.J. Abrams) attached as executive producer. For Brody, who won an Oscar for his performance in "The Pianist," the role marks a rare venture into television, the story notes.

Many of the details aren't yet known, as the deal just closed, the piece adds.

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NBC Renews 'Last Call With Carson Daly' -- Did Leaked Rumor About Alec Baldwin Jockeying for Late-Night Force the Network to Keep Daly Happy?

NBC apparently still has room for Carson Daly on its schedule despite reports that the network is talking with "30 Rock" star Alec Baldwin about possibly taking over Daly’s time period, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

The network said it will renew "Last Call," which airs at 1:35 a.m., for a 13th season, the story notes.

"Only cynics would assume that giving Daly the thumbs-up now has something to do with trying to smooth things over after the Baldwin thing leaked out. Because NBC clearly has no problem with seamlessly transitioning its late-night TV hosts. (Jay Leno, white courtesy phone please.)," the story notes.

The article also points out, "NBC has good reason to keep Daly happy: He happens to host its singing contest 'The Voice,' which is just about the only hit NBC has right now."

Another report says NBC was never negotiating with Baldwin, and that he and the network aren't investigating the idea any longer, according to E! Online. The network was never close to a deal or an offer, the story adds.

The New York Times’ Bill Carter stood by his report earlier this week that Baldwin “is in the mix for a spot in NBC’s late-night lineup,” which we reported previously.

Carter reported Wednesday that the “Last Call” renewal “did not mean that talks between Mr. Baldwin and NBC had ended. Two network executives said the actor remained in the mix for some future role in NBC’s late-night programming, most likely in some form of interview format akin to his widely praised podcasts.”

Carter adds: “Mr. Baldwin has a deal to develop programming with NBC, and his success with the podcasts is what has generated the interest in a late-night role, an executive informed about the discussions with the actor said on Wednesday.”

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Charlie Sheen Sets the Record Straight About Lindsay Lohan's On-Set Antics

Charlie Sheen complained about Lindsay Lohan's behavior during her taping for his FX show "Anger Management," but he indicated it wasn't as bad as the impression created by tabloid reports, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Sheen, who spoke about his experience with the actress on NBC's "Tonight Show with Jay Leno," said it wasn't true that Lohan showed up late -- at least, "not on day one."

"Day one, she was fabulous. She was on time; she knew her lines, hit every mark, made us look off our game. … Then we had to deal with day two. It was as though she had us held hostage because she gave us half a show," Sheen said.

Lohan said her excuse was that she wasn't feeling well. "We worked around it. She was late, what can I say? But she got to the shoot prepared with an excuse," he said.

Asked about rumors that some items went missing on the set, Sheen said, "She borrowed some stuff and was told she had to pay for it and they would take it out of her check, and she said fine. That's all it was."

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Here's One Person Who's Thrilled About MTV's 'Buckwild' Cancellation

At least one vocal critic of the MTV reality show “Buckwild” has made it clear he’s thrilled that the show has been canceled. Danny Jones, the mayor of the town where "Buckwild" was filmed, told TMZ.com that he's "relieved and happy" about the news.

Not everyone was equally delighted. As previously reported, producer J.P. Williams slammed MTV about the decision, saying it "smells of s---."

The decision to cancel the reality show came after one of its stars, Shain Gandee, died of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

Jones, the mayor of Charleston, W.Va., told TMZ, "I’m relieved and happy the show is canceled, and so is everyone around here. The show does nothing for us and exaggerates every negative stereotype about us."

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Syfy Developing Two Miniseries Based on Classic Sci-Fi Books; Channel Renews Drama Series

Syfy said it's developing two miniseries based on classic books: Larry Niven's "Ringworld" series and Arthur C. Clarke's "Childhood's End," reports EW.com's Inside TV.

"Ringworld" was previously under consideration nine years ago at the network, but has a different team for what will be a four-hour miniseries, the story says. Michael Perry of "The River" is adapting the series, which is about a team of explorers who discover an alien artifact.

"Childhood's End" will be executive produced by Michael DeLuca of "The Social Network" and is about a peaceful invasion of Earth by the Overlords, a mysterious race that ends all war.

Separately, Syfy also renewed "Being Human" for a fourth season, EW.com's Inside TV notes. The third season of the supernatural drama left viewers on a cliffhanger. The series is based on a British series with the same name.

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Sinclair Broadcast Group Acquires Fisher Communications

Sinclair Broadcast Group and Fisher Communications announced that the two companies have entered into an agreement that has Sinclair acquiring Fisher for about $373.3 million.

“Under the terms of the agreement, Fisher shareholders will receive $41.00 in cash for each share of Fisher common stock they own,” the companies said. “The transaction represents a 44% premium to the closing price of Fisher common stock on January 9, 2013, the final trading day prior to Fisher announcing a review of strategic alternatives.”

The acquisition is subject to approval by the Federal Communications Commission, along with “antitrust clearance, the affirmative vote of two-thirds of Fisher’s outstanding shares and other customary conditions,” the companies said. “The transaction is not conditioned on Sinclair obtaining financing or Fisher achieving or maintaining any financial or operational thresholds or metrics. The transaction is expected to close and fund during the third quarter of 2013, subject to closing conditions.”

Fisher's flagship station is KOMO-TV, the ABC affiliate in Seattle, and most of its stations are in the Pacific Northwest.

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IFC Announces Slate of Comedies, Including Project From 'Will & Grace' Star

IFC is building on the success of its cult hit "Portlandia" with a development slate of 11 scripted comedies, including one that boasts "Will & Grace" star Megan Mullally as co-creator, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The project from Mullally is called "Two Idiots," and is about two women raised in a Beverly Hills hotel who have a "beleaguered butler" and share a boyfriend, the story notes. IFC has ordered a script for the project.

Other pilot projects include "Garfunkel & Oates," about a comedy-folk duo with Riki Lindholme and Kate Micucci playing the characters in the title, and the stop-animation project "Timms Industrial Piping," whose voice cast includes Giancarlo Esposito, John Lithgow and Elizabeth Banks, the story says.

Another pilot in the pipeline is “International Plan,” which the report notes “stars Michael Blieden and Eric Ledgin, a pair of ‘Late Night With Jimmy Fallon’ writers … who play fictionalized versions of themselves. (In this case, they’re ‘two newly single guys who travel around the world looking for love, and in the process form an invaluable friendship.’ It’s filming in Stockholm: Countdown to jokes about blondes/ABBA/Dragon Tattoo begins now.)”

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Famed Paris Art Museum the Louvre Closes Temporarily -- for a Weird Reason

One of the most famous landmarks in Europe was forced to close, and for a weird reason. The U.K.’s The Guardian reports that the Paris art museum the Louvre closed Wednesday because of pickpockets.

The world’s most widely visited museum closed after workers staged a walkout in a protest over pickpockets, the story reports.

“More than 100 staff stopped work to denounce raids by organised gangs which they said were growing in number and becoming ‘more aggressive.’ targeting both visitors and staff in the vast galleries,” the report notes. “The museum said in a statement that pickpocketing was a growing problem despite measures taken last year, including tighter co-operation with the police and temporary bans on people already identified as pickpockets from re-entering the museum. Late last year, the Louvre filed an official complaint to the state prosecutor over visitors falling victim to the thieves.”

An official for the union representing the workers said staffers are in fear of organized gangs -- including minors who are admitted to the museum for free. “Some complained of being spat at, insulted, threatened or kicked, saying thieves had become more violent,” the piece reports.

The Louvre had 10 million visitors last year, the story notes, and would typically attract 30,000 a day at this time of year.

The museum was expected to reopen today.

The report notes: “Strikes have closed the Louvre in the past, including in 2009 when workers protested against government plans not to replace half of retiring public workers, including museum staff. In 2001, the museum was closed for a week by a strike over working hours.”

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Comedian Russell Brand, a Victim of Swatting, Says He Would Do It If He Were a Teen

British comedian and actor Russell Brand, a recent victim of the prank known as "swatting," said on Ryan Seacrest's radio show that if he were a teenager, he would "definitely do it," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Swatting involves calling 911 to falsely claim that a crime is occurring at a celebrity's house, with the goal of spurring a SWAT team to respond to the star's house, sometimes surprising the unsuspecting celebrities.

Brand's recent swatting episode was highlighted in The New York Times, with a piece published Wednesday describing how police approached his home with guns drawn, only to encounter his "shocked and frightened housekeeper, taking out the garbage."

The Times adds, "What once was merely a police annoyance in Southern California -- thrill-seeking pranksters filing a false report of a breaking horrific crime at celebrity’s home, designed to provoke the dispatch of SWAT teams -- has turned in recent weeks into a full-blown 'swatting' epidemic, drawing expressions of concerns from police officials and victims alike, and the promise of a crackdown by lawmakers in Sacramento and at Los Angeles City Hall."

Brand seemed less shaken than his housekeeper by the encounter. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he said he wasn't at home when the event happened.

"If all swatting attacks are this unnoticeable, I’m ready for war,” Brand joked. “I didn’t even know it had happened. I still don’t know what a swatting attack is!”

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HBO Lands Hot New Drama About Sexuality and Relationships

"After fielding interest from multiple networks, 'Open,' the racy new drama spec [script] from 'Glee' and 'American Horror Story' co-creator Ryan Murphy, has gone to HBO, which has given it a pilot order," writes our friend Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

The story continues, " 'Open' revolves around five lead characters, including a married couple of thirtysomethings, the husband’s male co-worker and a woman in her 40s who is a yoga professional."

Andreeva adds, "HBO previously tackled the subject of relationships and sexuality with 'Tell Me You Love Me,' though I hear 'Open' takes a completely different approach. 'It is a challenge how to talk about relationships and monogamy without feeling navel-gazing and neurotic, and (Murphy and [his co-writer on the project, 'Dexter' co-executive producer Lauren] Gussis) figured it out,' said [HBO president of programming] Michael Lombardo."

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The Healthiest Non-TV Story of the Day: Quick, What Foods Were Named California's Official State Fruit and State Vegetable Just This Week? (Hint: The Orange Is NOT the Fruit)

On Wednesday, April 10, 2013, California Lt. Governor -- and former mayor of San Francisco -- Gavin Newsom named two foods as the official fruit and vegetable of the state, according to The Packer, which has been covering the produce industry since 1893.

Says the story, Newsom "has proclaimed artichokes the state vegetable and avocados the state fruit."

For those of you who have long thought that avocados are also vegetables, no, they are fruits. As we understand it, avocados are classified as fruits because they have a large pit.

The article continues, "Newsom also declared almonds the state nut and rice the state grain. Newsom is acting governor while Jerry Brown is in China on a trade tour."

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Weak Premiere for New NBC Series -- and That's Not the Worst News in the Broadcast Ratings

A new NBC show premiered Tuesday to less-than-stellar numbers, but the picture was brighter for the Peacock Network than it was at rival ABC, where a struggling reality show saw its numbers continue to nosedive.

Even with a disappointing two-hour premiere for NBC’s “Ready for Love,” NBC was able to put together a ratings win on the strength of “The Voice,” based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the “Ready for Love” premiere, leading out from “The Voice,” managed just a 1.6 average in the key 18-49 demo. NBC’s one-hour “The Voice” at 8 p.m. was the top show of the night with a 4.2, despite losing three-tenths of a ratings point from a week ago.

ABC’s “Splash” lost two-tenths from last week’s 1.4 in viewers 18-49 -- which was already a series low -- to set a new low-water mark of 1.2. “Dancing with the Stars” also had a rough outing for the Alphabet Network, losing four-tenths from last week for a 1.9, a season low for a results show. “Body of Proof” held steady, equaling last week’s 1.4.

CBS got a 2.6 average rating out of “NCIS” in viewers 18-49, losing six-tenths from the show’s previous original episode, while “NCIS: Los Angeles” also delivered a 2.6, even with its previous original. “Golden Boy” ticked up two-tenths from last week to a 1.5.

Fox also had mixed results, with “Hell’s Kitchen” slipping two-tenths from last week to a 1.8 in 18-49, “New Girl” holding steady with a 2.2 and “The Mindy Project” rising two-tenths to a 1.5.

NBC’s 2.4 average for prime time overall in the 18-49 demo was good enough to win the night, edging CBS’s 2.2 average and well ahead of Fox (1.8), Univision (1.6) and ABC (1.5). CBS took a big win in total viewers, averaging 12.8 million to easily beat ABC (8.7 million), NBC (6.9 million), Fox (4.0 million) and Univision (3.9 million).

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Jamie Foxx to Oversee Horror Anthology Series

A new horror anthology series is set to be unveiled from Jamie Foxx and his Foxxhole Productions. Deadline.com reports that Syfy was set to roll out plans for the high-profile series during its upfront presentation this evening.

“The Oscar winner will executive produce, write and direct the five-episode horror anthology series, which will debut during Syfy’s annual 31 Days Of Halloween programming marathon this October,” the story reports. “Foxx might also appear on the yet-untitled series, which is produced by Universal Cable Prods.”

The project is being compared to earlier efforts including “Tales From the Crypt’ and “The Twilight Zone.” “The contemporary series tells creepy morality tales with themes such as envy, jealousy and superficiality,” the report notes.

Said Foxx: “This is a project that I’ve wanted to do for a long time and I’m so happy to see it come to life. Get ready to lose it when some special friends and I bring the scares this October, and who knows … maybe I’ll make a guest appearance or two along the way!”

The series will be exec produced by Troy Miller (“Flight of the Conchords”), through his Dakota Pictures, along with Fox, Jeff Stilson, Jaime King and Julie Yorn.

Syfy has also just greenlighted three new reality series, as we reported earlier today.

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Alec Baldwin Has a Few Unkind Words for the Oscars

Alec Baldwin, whose name came up this week as a possible host for an NBC late-night show, made news again with his comments about the Oscars.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Baldwin appears to have taken himself off the list of possible hosts for the 2014 Academy Awards.

“Baldwin, who hosted the 2010 telecast with Steve Martin, had some pointed things to say about the Motion Picture Academy and the Oscars in a free-wheeling interview in The Hollywood Reporter tied to his current run on Broadway in the play ‘Orphans,’” the piece reports. “Baldwin told the magazine he would ‘never, never, never’ do it again and that ‘the Oscars is a completely thankless job.’”

The show’s long running time appears to be one of Baldwin’s main complaints. The “30 Rock” star said that ideally the program would “last about two hours, and it would be a very tight show with a lot of serious, cineastic appreciation.”

The report adds: “Baldwin noted that that the broadcast raises much of the academy’s annual budget. (The 2012 show netted the group more than $51 million, according to the group's annual report.)”

Baldwin is quoted as saying: “ABC and the academy, they have no interest in doing a tight, better-produced show. They are forced, because of economic constraints, to have a flabby, tired show.”

The actor reportedly suggested Ellen DeGeneres as possible Oscars host, but he added: “I’m dying to see who they get to do it next year. They’re going to have to go dig someone up from the cemetery. They’re going to have to go dig up Bob Hope.”

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'March Madness' Sets 19-Year Mark

The 2013 “March Madness” NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship set a 19-year viewership mark, based on Nielsen figures. The tournament, which was carried on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV, was the most-watched NCAA Tournament in 19 years, CBS announced.

“The 2013 NCAA Tournament averaged 10.7 million total viewers, up 11% from last year’s 9.6 million viewers, and is the highest average for the NCAA Tournament in 19 years (11.2 million; 1994),” the broadcaster announced.

“The National Championship game, which saw Louisville defeat Michigan on CBS on Monday, April 8, earned an average fast national household rating/share of 14.0/22, up 14% from last year’s 12.3/19 (Kentucky-Kansas),” the announcement adds. “The National Championship game averaged 23.4 million viewers, up 12% from last year’s 20.9 million.”

Coverage of the entire 2013 tournament by Turner Sports and CBS Sports averaged a HH rating/share of 6.7/14, up 10% from a 6.1/13 a year ago, and is the highest average NCAA Tournament rating in eight years (6.9/15; 2005), CBS reported.

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A&E Orders Crime Series Starring Chloe Sevigny

A&E has greenlighted "Those Who Kill," a scripted show based on a Danish crime series that will star indie favorite Chloe Sevigny as a police detective, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

"'Those Who Kill' is not a crime procedural about serial killers -- it’s a deep serialized character portrait of two compelling yet damaged individuals coming together through the revelation of their dark past," said A&E President Bob DeBitetto in a statement.

The show, which will air 10 one-hour episodes, stars Sevigny as Catherine Jensen, while James D'Arcy will portray a forensic psychiatrist who helps her.

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Chloe Sevigny

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Embarrassing Gaffe for NBC's 'Today' Show

NBC’s morning show “Today” had an embarrassing blooper on Tuesday’s show. In a story reported by anchor Natalie Morales about ousted JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson, the program aired a photo of the wrong Ron Johnson, Mediaite reports.

The photo that appeared on-air was of Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, the piece reports.

Morales “reported the news of the CEO’s short tenure ending at retail giant JCPenney apparently without noticing the error made by the ‘Today’ show’s graphics department,” the story reports.

The piece adds: “Sen. Ron Johnson made news recently when he found himself in a heated back and forth with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her Senate hearings on Benghazi. Like any politician, he was probably not thrilled to have his photo appear directly above the word “ousted” on national television this morning.”


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NBC -- in 'Aggressive' Stance on Recasting -- Replaces Actress on New Comedy

NBC, which reportedly has been aggressive about recasting its new projects this season, has made a key cast change on a new comedy.

Deadline.com reports that actress Aly Michalka exited the pilot "Undateable," from Bill Lawrence and Warner Bros. TV. Michalka is reportedly being replaced with Briga Heelan. The pilot is set to tape Thursday.

Heelan was cast last month as the female lead on another Lawrence pilot, TBS's "Ground Floor," the story says.

Michalka also left a comedy pilot last year, bowing out from Fox’s “Rebounding,” the report notes.

The story adds: "NBC has been aggressive with recastings this season."

The piece notes: "Because of her relationship with the producers, Heelan has been able to quickly step into 'Undateable,' in which she is being cast as a guest star because of her existing commitment to 'Ground Floor.' ('Undateable' will actually film before the TBS pilot.)”

“Undateable” is written by Adam Sztykiel, based on the book by Ellen Rakieten & Anne Coyle, the report notes. The project “is described as a bromantic comedy about Danny (Chris D’Elia) and Justin (Brent Morin) -- two very different guys who are bonded by their common inability to attract women,” Deadline reports, adding that Heelan “will play Maddie, a waitress in Justin’s (Morin) bar who is endlessly attracted to jerks and bad pickup lines … but could she have a sweet spot for Justin?”

briga-heelan.jpgBriga Heelan

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Producer Slams MTV After Network Cancels 'Buckwild'; Tribute Special Set for Show's Fallen Star

MTV has pulled the plug on the controversial reality show “Buckwild” following the death of Shain Gandee, one of its stars. The network confirmed plans this morning to cancel the show.

The network also announced plans to televise a special this Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/PT as a tribute to Gandee. 

The Hollywood Reporter says producer J.P. Williams was less than thrilled with MTV's decision to end the series. “Williams, who manages most of the cast members and produces the show, took particular aim at MTV for pulling the plug midway through filming on the second season,” the piece reports.

Williams is quoted as saying: "This is the network that has shows about teen pregnancy. They'll stick by a show that allows you to abandon a child, but a kid dies by accident doing what he does for a living [mudding] and they cancel the show? There's something that smells of s--- here on every level."

“News of the show’s cancellation comes a week or so after Gandee, 21, was found dead April 1 in his vehicle, along with his uncle and a friend, after going off-roading, or ‘mudding,’ on a remote road in West Virginia,” the story reports. “The local sheriff’s office ruled the death was caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. The network had suspended production as it considered whether to continue with the hit series, which was intended to fill a void left by onetime juggernaut ‘Jersey Shore.’”

Williams said producers were told Friday that MTV planned to go ahead with the series. “At that time, the network had four episodes in the can and was planning to shoot four more plus a special dedicated to Gandee to kick off the season,” THR reports. “But Williams says MTV brass followed up Tuesday with a different message for the show’s producers: The network had opted to cancel the series instead.”

Said Williams: “There was no explanation.”

“He adds that the cast, which had planned to come to Los Angeles for the MTV Movie Awards this weekend, had not been informed of the news,” the story reports.

“Williams, who manages eight of the show’s cast members, including Gandee, does not intend to move on to other projects,” THR reports. “In fact, he suggests that he will continue shooting the series and will look to produce a ‘Buckwild’ film, which he would self-finance if need be. ‘My job is to protect these kids,’ he tells THR, adding: ‘This will get ugly.’”

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Shain Gandee

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Reality Star in 'First Official Fake Sex Tape'

Saying “We have crossed a new frontier,” a report by Fox News declares a widely publicized tape featuring a former reality TV star to be “the first official fake sex tape.”

The piece reports that Farrah Abraham, a former star of MTV’s “Teen Mom,” has admitted being taped having sex with adult film star James Deen.

“According to Deen, he thinks the idea was to have it come out as a personal sex tape inadvertently leaked, but once the two were photographed coming out of a porn distributor's office hand in hand, the jig was up,” the story reports. “Abraham, who initially denied she was involved in the film, said in a statement sent to FOX 411 she was peeved at her co-star for doing interviews about the movie. She also denied that she planned to leak the movie, claiming she shot the film to have her ‘own personal video.’"

Said Abraham: "I'm a great woman, mother and entrepreneur. ... I wanted my own personal video made and photos taken for myself; when I am older I will have my best year to look back on."

Abraham reportedly added that she "will not be [selling the movie] for anything less than a couple million."

The report adds: “Abraham's admission was an about face from her statements on Tuesday when the former MTV star tweeted: ‘I 'm going to ignore all the lies, all the hate, all the disrespectful people who want 2 take advantage of me, have fun making money off me.’"

MTV wrapped up Abraham’s reality show back in August. Since then, “the young mother has seemingly been desperate to stay in the spotlight. Last month photos surfaced of Abraham partying in lingerie and kissing another woman,” the story reports.

The piece adds: “Immediately following the final season of ‘Teen Mom’ she released a song and a music video, which featured her and her daughter, Sophia. She also penned the book ‘My Teenage Dream Ended,’ and created her own pasta sauce with her picture on the label.

“Abraham has also tried her hand at modeling since ‘Teen Mom’ wrapped, posing in sexy bikini shoots.”

farrah-abraham.jpgFarrah Abraham

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Fox Unveils Streaming Plan to Affiliates

Fox rolled out plans Tuesday for a “TV everywhere” service that will enable its affiliates to stream content from the network, along with their local content, on the Web and via a Fox app, TVNewsCheck reports.

“The TV everywhere plan, which is expected to launch this fall, has been in the works for about a year and affiliates started learning about it six months ago,” the piece reports. “Similar to Disney's Watch ESPN strategy, paid TV subscribers would be able to access local and network content through an app and on the Web. Once authenticated, users could watch a live, linear stream or individual video-on-demand programming.”

The report adds: “The app would use a mobile device's built-in GPS to restrict local access to that market, says Steve Pruett, chairman of the Fox affiliates board. For example, a user in El Paso, Texas, would be able to receive KFOX local content. If that user opened the app in Denver, however, it would pick up the market location and stream KDVR, that market's local Fox affiliate.”

Said Michael Hopkins, Fox Networks president of distribution: "We want to make sure our content is on every device, either through the Fox national app, on the Fox Sports Go app or something similar with our entertainment content. If consumers are going to go to a local station site or app, we want our content to be there."

The service would be made available through cable and satellite operators, the report notes. Affiliates would presumably pay Fox for rights to network content.

Hopkins would not provide details about contracts between the network and its affiliates, but commented: "I think, by and large, everyone will be onboard by the fall."

The piece adds: “Fox plans to update its Fox Sports app to include streaming of its national sports coverage, in addition to regional coverage. For example, users in Michigan would be able to watch live Detroit Pistons games from Fox Sports Detroit.”

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Syfy Greenlights Three New Series

With Syfy slated for its upfront presentation today in New York, the network has greenlighted three new series, reports B&C.

The new series are "Joe Rogan Questions Everything," "Cosworld" and "Fandemonium," the story says. All three are reality shows, and all are set to debut later this year.

“Starring former ‘Fear Factor’ host and UFC commentator Joe Rogan, ‘Joe Rogan Questions Everything’ will have Rogan investigate mysteries such as the existence of Bigfoot or UFOs,” the piece reports. “’Cosworld’ will delve into the world of ‘costume play,’ where people wear costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea from a work of fiction. ‘Fandemonium’ is a docuseries that will focus on the fanboy and fangirl culture.”

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CBS Casts 'Game of Thrones' Actress as Sherlock Holmes' Love Interest

CBS has cast an actress known for her role in "Game of Thones" as a love interest in its Sherlock Holmes series "Elementary." EW.com's Inside TV reports that Natalie Dormer, known for portraying Margaery Tyrell in "Game of Thones," will play Irene Adler in "Elementary."

Adler, a character who appeared in Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes mysteries, is often seen as a romantic interest for the famous detective.

Dormer will appear in a three-episode arc, with the character described as "perhaps the most pivotal relationship in Sherlock’s life," according a statement from creator Rob Doherty.

However, her death at the hands of Holmes' arch-rival Moriarty has already been mentioned on the show.

"We’re moving to the next chapter in our show -- and in some ways, to a previous chapter in Holmes’ story,” Doherty said.

natalie-dormer.jpgNatalie Dormer

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TBS Settles on Premiere Date for 'Sullivan & Son' After Injury to Star

After star Steve Byrne suffered an injury to his face, the premiere date for the second season of TBS's "Sullivan & Son" became uncertain. But Deadline.com reports that the network has now settled on a date.

The second season will premiere June 13 at 10 p.m., which means that the series will make its delivery date even after Byrne’s injury forced a production shutdown.

As previously reported, Byrne was said to have had his jaw broken by an "irate cabbie," requiring that it be wired shut for six weeks.

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Steve Byrne

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Non-TV Story of the Day: Politician Caught in Lewd Behavior Weighs Run for NY Mayor

A politician whose career appeared to go down in flames when he was caught in a scandal over lewd behavior is reportedly considering a run for mayor of New York.

The New York Times reports that former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who’s featured in a cover story in The New York Times Magazine, says he’s ready to “ask people to give me a second chance.”

Weiner resigned from Congress in 2011 amid a sexting scandal. “Mr. Weiner cautioned that he did not know when he would decide about entering the race, and conceded that ‘the fact that I don’t know tells me I shouldn’t run. Or I should not run now,’” The Times reports. “He also acknowledged that he would be ‘the underdog in any race I ran,’ citing a poll he commissioned earlier this year to gauge whether voters were prepared to forgive him and take him seriously as a candidate.”

The politician and his wife, Huma Abedin, say he is “a changed and humbled man: a stay-at-home father living in what the magazine writer describes as a ‘sprawling apartment’ on Park Avenue South, far from the Queens and Brooklyn neighborhoods Mr. Weiner represented in the House of Representatives for more than a decade,” the report notes.

Said Weiner: “Some people just don’t buy it. Like they just don’t have room for a second narrative about me.”

The report adds: “Since leaving Congress, Mr. Weiner has generally refrained from commenting on either the scandal that prompted his resignation or his political future. But his visibility has increased in recent months, first with a photo shoot in People magazine that featured Mr. Weiner and Ms. Abedin with their infant son, Jordan, and then, over the weekend, with tabloid photos of the family, paparazzi-style.”

Weiner adds in the interview: “We have been in a defensive crouch for so long. We are ready to clear the decks on this thing.”

“In the interview, Mr. Weiner and Ms. Abedin, a longtime aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, discuss the behavior that led to his resignation -- he sent lewd photos of himself to women following his Twitter account, and then falsely claimed that his account had been hacked,” the piece reports. “He also engaged in sexual conversations on Facebook with women he had never met.”

Commenting on his behavior, Weiner said: “It was just another way to feed this notion that I want to be liked and admired.”

The report notes: “If Mr. Weiner decides to enter the race for mayor, he will have a head start on fund-raising: He has $4.3 million in his coffers, left over from an abortive campaign for mayor in 2009, and this year he would be eligible for an additional $1.5 million in public matching funds. If he does not use the money this year, he will lose those matching funds.”

anthony-weiner.jpegAnthony Weiner

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Is TV Going to the Dogs? DirecTV Thinks Consumers Will Pay Up for DogTV

Satellite provider DirecTV plans to start airing a premium channel for dogs, betting that pet owners will pay $5.99 a month so that their dogs can watch TV, reports Bloomberg.

DogTV calls itself the first and only TV network for dogs, the story says. The idea is that owners will put on the canine channel when they leave the house, giving their pets something to do while their humans are away, the story says.

The agreement between DirecTV and DogTV is the biggest distribution deal yet for the new channel, which is currently available via the Web for $9.99, the story says. California customers of Cox can subscribe for $4.99 a month.

Programming includes “scenes with and without other animals, animation sequences and a variety of moving objects,” according to the network's website, the story says.

Here's a sample:

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Cable Net Eyes Religious Dating Program

A cable network is considering a dating show that would ask congregations to find suitable partners for single church goers. The New York Times reports that the game-show focused network GSN is eyeing the format after the popularity of its "The American Bible Challenge."

"American Bible Challenge" first aired this season and is already in a second go-round. But GSN cautioned that the network isn't planning to be dominated by religious programming, according to the piece.

“We still need to be a broad-based channel,” said Amy Introcaso-Davis, a GSN executive.

That means the network will continue to air secular shows such as "Family Feud" and "Minute to Win It." But "The American Bible Challenge" has helped GSN gain a foothold among viewers interested in religious-themed programming.

That has helped GSN's ratings gain traction among viewers 18-49 and 25-54.

The church-based dating show would be called "It Takes a Church," and would be an hourlong updated version of how "the ladies of the church are always trying to fix up the few single” parishioners, Introcaso-Davis said, according to the story.

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Drama Series Producer to Fans: Don't Post Pictures, Spoilers or Shooting Locations

The producer of a successful drama series is reaching out to fans to plead that they not post photos or spoilers of the show as the production resumes for its third season, reports Deadline.com.

Producer Sue Vertue of the British hit “Sherlock” sent the plea to fans of the show, asking them to allow the crew to get on with its "punishing" schedule, which includes taping in London.

"What I am nervous about is that our London shooting schedule is punishing and will really give us very little time to interact with you. The actors really hope you understand that," she wrote.

She added, "Also, and I know this is probably asking a lot, the majority of fans and indeed ourselves would REALLY appreciate it if you didn’t post pictures or spoilers or ideally our daily locations."

"Sherlock" airs in the U.S. on PBS as part of the "Masterpiece" series.

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Report: Alec Baldwin in Talks to Join NBC's Late-Night Lineup

Emmy-winning actor Alec Baldwin "is in the mix for a spot in NBC’s late-night lineup, one executive involved in the network’s program planning said," reports our good friend Bill Carter in The New York Times' Media Decoder blog.

The piece continues, "The most likely landing place for a show hosted by Mr. Baldwin would be in the latest of NBC’s entries, the show now called 'Last Call.' That half-hour interview program currently stars Carson Daly. Mr. Daly is also the host of NBC’s biggest show, 'The Voice.' "

Carter adds in his story, "Mr. Baldwin has also been long regarded one of the best guests on late-night television shows. And he has won critical praise for a podcast series he created with WNYC radio in New York, called 'Here’s The Thing.' "

The article speculates that the show Baldwin would do for NBC would basically be a TV version of "Here's The Thing."

Carter explains, "In the series, Mr. Baldwin has interviewed a wide range of guests, including David Letterman, Billy Joel, Kristen Wiig, Chris Rock, Lena Dunham, and the Indianapolis Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck."

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CNN Unveils Plans for Interview Series

CNN is making plans for a new interview series. As the cable news channel continues to retool under CNN Worldwide boss Jeff Zucker, Dominic Patten reports on Deadline.com that the channel has brought in Canadian broadcaster George Stroumboulopoulos from the CBC to front the project.

“In the latest CNN 2.0 move by the Jeff Zucker-run network, the new 10-episode hourlong show is set to air Fridays in prime time starting early in the summer,” Patten writes. “This is the second recent addition to CNN’s summer lineup. As I reported this weekend, the network is bringing back its political debate show ‘Crossfire’ in June.”

The new show, which is still unnamed, will tape in Los Angeles with Stroumboulopoulos hosting in front of a live audience, the piece notes.

Patten adds: “Similar to the Canadian’s long-running talk show ‘George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight’ in Canada, the CNN series will feature in-depth interviews along with musical performances. Sony Pictures TV’s Embassy Row will produce the series.”

Stroumboulopoulos hosted “The One: Making a Music Star” on ABC in 2006, with the low-rated show being canceled after just two weeks, the piece notes.

george-stroumboulopoulos.jpgGeorge Stroumboulopoulos

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Country Star Defends His Latest Record -- Which Some Are Calling the Worst Song Ever -- Against Accusations of Racism

One of the biggest stars in country music has been defending his latest release against accusations of racism. The New York Daily News reports that Brad Paisley's "Accidental Racist" -- which also features LL Cool J -- is being called by some bloggers and other critics “the worst song ever.”

The song includes Paisley singing about being a "white man coming to you from the southland," the piece notes, with LL Cool J rapping about feeling like a "newfangled Django."

“The country crooner isn't apologizing. In fact, the conversation it has started appears to be the response Paisley wanted,” the story reports.

Paisley took to Twitter Monday night to defend the song, writing: "I wouldn't change a thing. ... This is a record meant to be FAR from easy listening. But fun. Like life. Have a ball, ya'll."

The piece notes that the song includes these lyrics, rapped by LL Cool J: "If you don't judge my gold chains, I'll forget the iron chains.”

Paisley has been making the rounds in the media in defense of the song. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly he said of the collaboration: “It’s not a stunt. It was really obvious to me that we still have issues as a nation with [race]. … And I think the younger generations are really kind of looking for ways out of this.”

The report adds: “The controversial song is featured on Paisley's upcoming album, ‘Officially Alive,’ and the singer previously explained to ‘Good Morning America’ that the completed work pushes out of his comfort zone. More lyrics from the song explain Paisley's plight of being ‘caught between southern pride and southern blame.’"

Paisley is quoted telling Lara Spencer: "We decided not to respect boundaries. We thought anything that helps tell the story and, I guess, be entertaining, we thought it was time to incorporate it.”

Paisley added during his Monday night workout on Twitter: "As you buy this album, I hope it triggers emotions. I hope you feel joy, heartache, triumph, surprise; you laugh, cry, nudge someone beside you. I hope the album rocks you, soothes you, raises questions, answers, evokes feelings, all the way through until Officially Alive"

Here’s the song:

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'Breaking Bad' Spinoff in the Works at AMC

AMC is winding down “Breaking Bad” with an eight-episode run set for this summer, but that isn’t necessarily the last we’ll see of the “Breaking Bad” universe. Nellie Andreeva reports on Deadline.com that the cable channel is working with series producer Sony TV on a possible spinoff.

The spinoff would be built around one of the original series’ memorable characters, criminal lawyer Saul Goodman, played by Bob Odenkirk.

“There are no deals in place yet as the project is in its nascent stages, but I hear it is being conceived by ‘Breaking Bad’ creator Vince Gilligan and series writer-producer Peter Gould, who created the Saul character together for a Season 2 episode written by Gould,” Andreeva writes. “In the episode, titled ‘Better Call Saul,’ Walt (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse (Aaron Paul) hire the flamboyant Goodman after Badger (Matt L. Jones) is caught by the DEA. Goodman, who has been a regular presence on the show since, is a sleazy but highly competent criminal lawyer with a penchant for over-the-top TV commercials in which he uses his signature tagline ‘Better Call Saul!’”

The series has taken advantage of Odenkirk’s comedy background, using the character to provide comic relief, Andreeva notes. She adds: “As a result, I hear the potential spinoff is eyed as a comedy, which could be one-hour, but a half-hour format also is being explored.”

bob-odenkirk.jpgBob Odenkirk

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Starz Readying Vietnam Drama From 'Newsroom' Writer, 'Spartacus' Producer

The Vietnam War is beginning to look like a hot topic again. The latest network to get on the bandwagon is Starz, which is working with former “Newsroom” writer Gideon Yago and “Spartacus” executive producer Rob Tapert on “Airborne,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The project, which also involves producer Aaron Lam, is set at the outset of the Vietnam War. The piece reports that it “revolves around a young helicopter crew as they fight for survival, sanity, their souls and each other in a country -- and war -- that are descending into chaos.”

Yago, a Peabody award-winning journalist who has worked for MTV News and CBS News, will write the script.

In a statement announcing the project, Yago wrote: "Even though we are using Vietnam and the early days of air cavalry as a backdrop, our hope is to bring the audience timeless stories about what makes a hero and how a group of young people fight to retain their humanity in the midst of a surreal and terrible conflict.”

The report adds: “’Airborne’ comes as Starz -- which recently broke off into an independently run company -- is looking to boost its original scripted offerings. The network this month will bow David S. Goyer drama ‘DaVinci's Demons’ and also has ‘Black Sails’ and ‘The White Queen’ on deck. The premium cable network is also teaming with Sky Atlantic to co-produce drama series ‘Fortitude.’”

FX is also working on a Vietnam series, “They Marched Into Sunlight,” as we reported last week.

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NBC Show Hits Season High But Basketball Owns the Night

NBC had a pretty good night in the ratings Monday even as CBS coasted to a comfortable win with the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship game, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC’s two-hour “The Voice” scored a season high in the key 18-49 demo, rising two-tenths of a ratings point from last week to a 4.9 average rating. NBC’s “Revolution” also inched its way up, delivering a 2.3, up one-tenth.

CBS’s coverage of the game averaged a 7.5 in the 18-49 demo in preliminary numbers, with significant adjustments expected due to the nature of live programming. The pregame show checked in with a 4.4.

For prime time overall, CBS came home with a comfortable win, averaging a 5.5 rating in viewers 18-49. NBC was the only serious competitor with a 4.0 average, trailed by ABC (1.8) and Fox (1.6). ABC accounted for itself better in total viewers, but CBS won there too, averaging 15.9 million to NBC’s 11.2 million, ABC’s 11.1 million and Fox’s 5.2 million.

ABC’s two-hour “Dancing with the Stars” slipped to a season-low 2.0 in 18-49, losing two-tenths of a point from a week ago to notch the all-time lowest rating for a performance episode of the series.

Fox’s “The Following” held steady with a 2.2 in adults 18-49, same as last week. CBS, Fox and ABC all rounded out their prime time with repeat programming.

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CNN's 'Reintroduce' Ad Leaves Out Some Familiar Faces

CNN has taken out an ad in The New York Times that asks readers to allow the network to "reintroduce ourselves," with accompanying photos of a dozen anchors and personalities, but what's more interesting is who's left out, reports Deadline.com.

The ad features established CNN stars such as Anderson Cooper, Wolf Blitzer and Christiane Amanpour, along with new hires under new leader Jeff Zucker such as Jake Tapper and Chris Cuomo, the story says.

But it leaves out some other well-known names, including Candy Crowley and John King, the story says. It also doesn't mention "Super-Size Me" director Morgan Spurlock, who was hired last year to host a new documentary series called "Inside Man." Lead congressional correspondent Dana Bash is another name that’s missing from the ad.

The piece ponders whether the omissions are people who don’t “need to be reintroduced, or are they being shown the door like Soledad O’Brien, Roland Martin and James Carville? Stay tuned.”

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Cable News Staple Was Close to Shifting to CBS

A program that is a staple of cable news almost moved to CBS News, reports David Bauder in the Associated Press. The show is "Morning Joe," the talk show on MSNBC that features Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. The program almost made the shift two years ago, the piece reports.

Executives at NBC News had said they would allow everyone out of their contracts to move to mornings on CBS, the story reports.

Both hosts were interested in reaching a larger audience at CBS, the story notes. Scarborough recalls former "Today" show executive producer Jim Bell coming to the phone and asking, "How's the guy on the least-watched and most talked-about morning show?," according to the story.

Bauder writes, "Then Steve Burke, chief executive officer of NBCUniversal, called Scarborough upstairs, wondering why he was being asked to approve giving away a show he and his friends watched every day. He urged them to stay, that things will work out, and it would be the best decision they'd ever made."

"He was right," Scarborough said. "Because we get to do everything we want here."

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'Sopranos' Veteran Joins Showtime Series

One of the main members of Tony Soprano’s gang on HBO’s hit drama “The Sopranos” is headed to Showtime for a comedic role. Deadline.com reports that Michael Imperioli, who played Christopher Moltisanti on “Sopranos,” has joined “Californication.”

Imperioli will take on a major recurring role in the series’ upcoming seventh season, the story reports.

“He will portray Rick Rath, a successful old-school television producer who will play a key role in Hank’s (David Duchovny) latest venture,” Deadline reports.

“Californication” is gearing up for a 12-episode season, with production beginning this month and the seventh-season premiere set for 2014.

“Imperioli, who co-stars in thriller ‘The Call’ opposite Halle Berry, will next be seen in the ‘Oldboy’ remake, reuniting with director Spike Lee,” the report notes. “In addition to ‘Sopranos,’ which earned him an Emmy, Imperioli’s major series stints include ‘Law & Order,’ ‘Life on Mars’ and ‘Detroit 187,’ playing a detective on all of them.”

michael-imperioli.jpgMichael Imperioli


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NBC Brings Back Rugged Competition Series

A tough competition series will be back on NBC, with new hosts and some format tweaks. EW.com’s Inside TV reports that the network is bringing back the obstacle course show “American Ninja Warrior.”

“Former NFL player and NFL Network sports analyst Akbar Gbaja Biamila is joining the show as a host, alongside returning host Matt Iseman,” the story reports. “In addition, ESPN sports broadcaster Jenn Brown will join the show as a co-host.”

The program will have a revised “win and get in” format, with competitors who successfully complete their city’s obstacle course earning the right to compete for the title in Las Vegas. Production will begin April 5.

The show will be carried on both NBC and the Esquire Network -- formerly G4.

Said executive producer Arthur Smith: “After the success of last season, we knew we had to give audiences more of the thrills and excitement that only ‘American Ninja Warrior’ can deliver. This year promises to be bigger, better, and even more challenging.”

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'Mad Men' Premiere Breaks Ratings Pattern

The season six premiere of AMC’s critically acclaimed “Mad Men” broke a trend in the ratings, the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports, with the program drawing lower numbers.

The premiere attracted 3.4 million viewers, the report notes, with half of them in the 25-54 demo.

“That's not a bad number for the Emmy-winning AMC drama, whose ratings have never quite matched its critical accolades or overall buzz factor, but it is a slight downturn from the 3.5 million viewers who tuned in to the Season 5 premiere last year,” the story reports.

“On the bright side, the numbers in the 25-54 demographic are identical to where they were last season. And Sunday night's ratings are also a jump from the Season 4 finale, which drew an audience of 2.7 million viewers last spring.”

The trend for the show from season to season has generally been up, the report notes. “Until this season, ‘Mad Men’ had seen its audience grow considerably from year to year, thanks in part to its availability for streaming on Netflix. For instance, the Season 5 premiere was up 21% from the year before that, and the season as a whole was its highest-rated,” the story reports.

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Want to Go on 'America's Got Talent'? Take a Look at Its 45-Page Agreement, Which Says Producers Can Trick and Exploit You

Wannabes looking for a place on NBC's "America's Got Talent" should get an eyeball on the show's "grueling" 45-page contestant agreement, which says producers can trick, exploit and embarrass the show’s participants, reports the New York Post.

"I further understand that my appearance, depiction and portrayal in the program may be disparaging, defamatory, embarrassing ... and may expose me to public ridicule, humiliation or condemnation,” the agreement says.

The show, which is in its eighth season, is holding auditions this week in New York, with judges Howard Stern, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Mel B. on board.

Contestants are required to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and enter into binding management, recording and endorsement deals, which hinders their ability to seek more lucrative deals with other outlets, the story says.

Other tidbits in the agreement are that hidden cameras might be used to film contestants in places such as bathrooms and dressing rooms, and participants will have to pay a $5 million penalty if they provide false information.

However, the stipulations aren't unusual for reality TV, the piece adds. The report notes: "Producers of 'The Voice' and 'X Factor' also have 'talent holds' and options for management and record deals on their contestants that can last for up to one year."

The piece adds: “The show allows singers, dancers and variety acts of any age a chance to win $1 million. That prize, according to the fine print, is paid as an annuity over 40 years -- leaving the winner with $25,000 annually before taxes.”

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Cable Executive Receives 47% Pay Increase -- Is His Compensation Out of Line?

Ken Lowe, the chief executive and chairman of Scripps Networks, saw his pay jump by almost 47% in 2012, reports Deadline.com.

Lowe's raise came during a year when Scripps' shares jumped almost 34%, the story notes. Scripps owns cable networks including HGTV and Food Network.

His pay package included $1.3 million in salary, $7.4 million in stock awards, $1.4 million in option awards, $1.7 million in non-equity incentives, $2 million for a change in pension value and $441,155 in other compensation, the story says. All together, that's $14.2 million.

"Lowe’s package is 3.1 times higher than the median for the four other highest-paid execs. That’s better than last year, when he made 3.5 times the median. But it’s still high enough to worry corporate governance watchdogs who say that a CEO’s pay can be considered out of whack when it’s at least 3 times higher than the average for his or her top colleagues," the story points out.

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NCAA Championship Game Surges in Ratings

Monday night’s NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship Game between Louisville and Michigan was a ratings winner for CBS, with the network reporting the game was up 18% from last year’s broadcast in metered markets.

The game delivered a 14.3/23 rating/share in metered markets, the network announced. Overall, coverage of the 2013 "March Madness" tournament by Turner Sports and CBS Sports delivered a 7.2/15 average, an increase of 9% from a year ago. This year’s tournament tied with the 2011 event for the highest overall average for the NCAA Tournament in eight years (7.3/14; 2005).

In the championship game, Louisville beat Michigan 82-76 to claim the national title. The metered-market average of 14.3/23 was up from last year’s 12.1/19, based on Nielsen figures.

The network released the following list of the top five rated metered markets for the title game:

1. Louisville: 54.0/70
2. Detroit: 33.5/47
3. Columbus, Ohio: 26.4/40
4. Indianapolis: 25.1/39
5. Cincinnati: 24.7/38

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'The Bible' Breaks Home-Video Records

Mark Burnett and Roma Downey's History miniseries "The Bible" is breaking sales records for home video, becoming the top-selling TV miniseries of all time on home-video release, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In its first week of release, the series sold 525,000 units, the story says.

"We are humbled by the overwhelming response from audiences to 'The Bible' miniseries,” said Downey and Burnett in a statement. “First, the show was No. 1 on History, now it is No. 1 on Blu-ray and DVD and has been No. 1 in every country in which it aired."

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Award-Winning Fantasy Novel Getting Miniseries Adaptation

An award-winning historical fantasy novel will be adapted into a seven-part miniseries by the BBC. The New York Times' ArtsBeat reports that the production based on "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell" is set to air in 2014.

The show will be adapted by Peter Harness of "Wallander" and directed by Toby Haynes of "Doctor Who," the story says. In the U.S., it will air during BBC America's Supernatural Saturday programming block, which includes sci-fi and fantasy shows such as "Doctor Who."

The novel, written by Susanna Clarke and published in 2004, is set during the Napoleonic wars and focuses on two rival magicians. It won the 2005 Hugo Award for best novel and was longlisted in the 2004 Man Booker Prize.

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Oxygen Denies Reports That 'The Glee Project' Is Dead

Oxygen wants to make sure everyone realizes "The Glee Project" isn't canceled, despite reports that it has been scrapped, reports TheWrap.com.

Instead, the show is merely "on hold," with its fate depending on whether "Glee" is renewed, the story says. "The Glee Project" features "Glee" cast members as they help introduce a lesson and mentor competitors, with winners getting a multiple-episode arc on the Fox show.

The series has a small viewership -- with only 820,000 viewers watching its second-season finale -- but has passionate fans, the piece notes.


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Well-Known Judge to Remain On-Air Through 2017

A judge who is a fixture of daytime television has signed a multiyear deal to remain on the air for at least 21 seasons. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that "Judge Judy" star Judy Sheindlin signed with CBS Television Distribution to continue the syndicated show through 2017.

The announcement wasn't surprising, given that the show averages more than 9 million daily viewers, making it the most-watched show in daytime.

The story adds, "Similarly impressive, the show has spent 860 consecutive weeks -- since its debut on Sept. 16, 1996 -- as the top-rated half-hour syndicated court show on TV."

judge-judy-sheindlin.jpgJudge Judy Sheindlin

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Best Non-TV News: Today Is Ben & Jerry's 34th Annual Free Ice Cream Cone Day!! Guess How Many Free Ice Cream Cones Will Be Given Away

Sometime today, Tuesday, April 9, 2013, you can drop by your local Ben & Jerry's and pick up a free ice cream cone.

Says the premium ice cream maker on its website, "Is there a better way to say thank you than free ice cream? Not if you’re Ben & Jerry’s! On Tuesday, April 9, Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops around the world will host the 34th annual Free Cone Day. Since its first anniversary in 1979, Ben & Jerry’s has thrown open the scoop shop doors and invited fans of all ages in for a free cup or cone. The annual celebration is a way for the company to celebrate and say thank you for another year of support."

And just how many cones will Ben and Jerry's be giving away? Says the site, "This year, more people are enjoying Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day than ever. From Europe to Asia and back to North America, more than 1 million cones will be given out during the annual celebration."

The site adds, "To confirm Free Cone Day participation and hours, make sure to check out the Scoop Shop Locator at www.benjerry.com or contact your local Scoop Shop in advance." 


The ever-popular Cherry Garcia on a cone


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Wow: News Corp. Threatens to Take Fox Off as Free, Over-the-Air Broadcaster and Make It a Pay Channel as Dispute With Aereo Heats Up. Univision Owner Makes Similar Threat

"Media company stocks rise as News Corp.'s Chase Carey, Univision's Haim Saban threaten to pull the plug on over-the-air broadcasting because of court wins by Barry Diller's Aereo," reports The Hollywood Reporter.

The story continues: "Wall Street observers Monday said that News Corp.'s threat to retool Fox from a broadcast network into a pay-TV channel in order to counter Barry Diller's Aereo was a real possibility, but would likely only happen as a last resort. Most predicted that the broadcaster would take its time and await future court decisions given the likely near-term financial hits of viewers and advertising caused by such a change."

The story then quotes some media analysts. " 'I think it is quite plausible that Fox would do that if the courts fail to appreciate Aereo’s free-rider strategy,' Wunderlich Securities analyst Matthew Harrigan said of Fox’s threat to move from free to pay TV. But the company’s finances 'would probably hurt mildly' over the short term as it 'would take a while for even higher subscription revenue to make up for losing off-air access.' "

And: "Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger, in a report at the beginning of the year, wrote that if all four big broadcast networks moved from over-the-air to pay-TV business models, lost retransmission fees paid by pay-TV firms and lower advertising revenue could be replaced by higher total revenue from affiliate fee and ad dollars, but only over time.

" 'The more real the prospect of Aereo becomes (or any other similar concept which might come forth in the future), the more likely the networks might dust off their old spreadsheets and reconsider the "broadcast-to-cable" conversion math,' he wrote in a note, which he re-sent to investors Monday. 'After all, if there were no free over-the-air signal, then there would be no Aereo.'"

The dispute between broadcasters and Aereo is back on the front pages because, as previously reported, a federal appeals court, on April 1, backed an earlier court ruling in favor of Aereo. That report quoted USA Today as reporting, "The decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York City, affirms an earlier ruling that Aereo doesn't violate the broadcasters' copyrights in airing programs over the Internet from its farm of mini-antennas in Brooklyn." 

Reacting to the latest ruling was News Corp.'s COO Chase Carey, THR reported: "Addressing the situation at the National Association of Broadcasters' annual gathering in Las Vegas on Monday, April 8, 2013, Carey partly endorsed free TV, but issued a threat: 'We can’t sit idly by and let someone steal our signal. We like the broadcast business, and if we can affirm our rights, that is a path we prefer to pursue.' [Carey added,] “We need to be able to be fairly compensated for our content. A dual revenue stream [with subscription fees (via retrans agreements) and advertising] is critical."

Univision owner Haim Saban added, according to the Reporter story: " 'Simply put, we believe that Aereo is pirating broadcasters’ content. As Chase Carey said, no broadcaster can afford to sit idly by and allow Aereo’s theft to continue unchecked,' Saban said Monday. 'To serve our community, we need to protect our product and revenue streams, and therefore, we too are considering all of our options -- including converting to pay TV. With Hispanics watching over-the-air news and entertainment at twice the rate of non-Hispanics, being forced to convert to cable would significantly impact our community.' ”

We urge you to click on the link in our first paragraph, above, to the original story in THR and read the complete article.

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Annette Funicello -- Famed Mouseketeer and Beach Movie Actress -- Dead at 70

Annette Funicello, who starred on TV on “The Mickey Mouse Club” in the 1950s and later became a regular in the surf movies of the 1960s, has died. The New York Times reports that Funicello died today of complications from multiple sclerosis. She was 70.

“As an adult Ms. Funicello described herself as ‘the queen of teen,’ and millions around her age agreed,” the story reports. “Young males enjoyed watching her blossom into womanhood, while females liked her because she was sweet, forthright and plain nice. Parents saw her as the perfect daughter.

“She was the last of the 24 original Mouseketeers chosen for ‘The Mickey Mouse Club,’ which began in 1955, when fewer than two-thirds of households had television sets. Walt Disney personally discovered her at a ballet performance.”

The report adds: “Sometimes called “America’s girl next door,” she nonetheless managed to be at the center of the action during rock ’n’ roll’s exuberant emergence. She was the youngest member of Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars tour, which included LaVern Baker, the Drifters, Bobby Rydell, the Coasters and Paul Anka. Mr. Anka, her boyfriend, wrote ‘Puppy Love’ for her in her parents’ living room.”

Walt Disney offered a studio contract to Funicello as “The Mickey Mouse Club” was winding down in 1958, and she went on to appear in a number of Disney productions, starting with “The Shaggy Dog.” She became a frequent guest on TV series such as “Zorro” and “Make Room for Daddy,” and also pursued a recording career. She had two singles that made the top 10: “Tall Paul” in 1959 and “O Dio Mio” in 1960.

In her later years, Funicello became an active campaigner in the fight against multiple sclerosis, the disease from which she suffered.

annette-funicello.jpgAnnette Funicello

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As NBC Eyes Jumping on the Early-Renewal Bandwagon, Which Shows Stand the Best Chance of Being Picked Up?

With three broadcast networks -- Fox, CBS and the CW -- already announcing early renewals for their better-performing programs, speculation is that NBC may be poised to make a similar move.

“Among those rumored to get an early jump on next season are the network’s flagship reality series ‘The Voice,’ top scripted series ‘Revolution’ and solid Friday performer ‘Grimm,’ which also received an early second-season order last year,” Nellie Andreeva writes on Deadline.com. “The renewals could come as early as tomorrow, following the latest set of ratings for ‘The Voice’ and ‘Revolution,’ both of which made a strong return to the schedule two weeks ago. Meanwhile, ‘Grimm’ just logged another finish as the top-rated scripted series on Friday.”

Andreeva adds: “I hear a deal for a second-season renewal of ‘Revolution’ was put in motion several months ago when NBC reduced the first-season order to the futuristic drama by two episodes. Meanwhile, I hear ‘Grimm’ is already preparing for third season, releasing a large number of low- and mid-level writers [earlier] than normal in preparation for staffing.”

“Parks and Recreation” and “Chicago Fire” are also solid picks to return. Andreeva notes that the fate of “Chicago Fire” may be connected to that of another Dick Wolf-produced NBC series, “Law & Order: SVU.” A “Chicago Fire” spinoff is also in the works.

“Elsewhere at NBC, ‘Parenthood’ also appears on track for a renewal, with ‘Go On’ and ‘The New Normal’ looking hopeful after getting a boost from the return of ‘The Voice,’” Andreeva writes. “Midseason comedy ‘1600 Penn’ and sophomore drama ‘Smash’ are dead, while comedy series ‘Whitney’ and ‘Guys With Kids’ are heavily on the bubble.”

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CBS Dominates Sunday as Awards Show Blows Away Last Year's Number

CBS rode an awards show to a big win in the ratings Sunday, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that CBS’s “Academy of Country Music Awards” surged by 1.2 ratings points from last year, delivering a 4.3 average.

CBS crushed the competition for prime time overall, averaging a 3.6 rating in viewers 18-49 to come in well ahead of Fox (1.3 average), NBC (1.2), Univision (0.9) and ABC (0.7). ABC aired an all-repeat lineup, while Fox and NBC aired mostly repeats.

In total viewers, CBS was again well out front with 13.9 million for prime time, followed by NBC with 3.7 million, ABC with 3.3 million, Fox with 2.8 million and Univision with 2.5 million.

Fox’s only fresh program, “The Cleveland Show,” averaged a 1.6 rating in viewers 18-49, up three-tenths from its previous original airing.

NBC rolled out an original episode of “Celebrity Apprentice,” which drew a 1.4 in 18-49, slipping one-tenth from a week ago.

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A&E Renews Drama Series

The A&E Network today announced that it is renewing a drama series for a second season. Just weeks after the March 18 premiere of “Bates Motel,” the season picked it up for a 10-episode season.

The series stars Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore, and comes from executive producers Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin.

Bob DeBitetto, president and general manager of A&E Network and BIO Channel, made the annoucement.

Said DiBitetto: “’Bates Motel’ has garnered critical acclaim and a loyal audience in its first few weeks. With superb writing and exceptional acting, led by the critically acclaimed performances of Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore, we’re incredibly excited to see where Carlton and Kerry take Norma and Norman Bates next.”

A&E noted in its announcement: “The premiere of ‘Bates Motel’ garnered 4.5 million total viewers and 2.5 million adults 25-54 and 18-49, based on Live+7 viewership, making it the most-watched original drama debut in the key demos in the network’s history.”

Season two is set to start pre-production later this year, with the season to bow in 2014.

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Dr. Phil Denies Rumor About Jodi Arias

Dr. Phil McGraw addressed a rumor connecting him with the family of accused murderer Jodi Arias. The New York Post reports that McGraw denied on Twitter that he’s paying for the family to live in Arizona while Arias is on trial.

“Absolutely untrue,” McGraw, the host of "Dr. Phil," wrote on Twitter. The denial came after a researcher wrote on her personal blog the claim that McGraw was receiving daily notes about the trial from Arias' parents in exchange for paying for their accommodations, the story says.

"I’ve never met the Arias family, and neither I, nor my ... production company -- has paid or promised them anything,” McGraw wrote.

Arias is charged with murdering her boyfriend in 2008.

McGraw paid $600,000 to Casey Anthony's parents for their first TV interview after her acquittal, although the money went to a foundation, the story notes.

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Report: Former News Corp. Executive Bids $500 Million for Hulu

A former News Corp. executive and veteran television exec has reportedly bid about $500 million for the online video streaming site Hulu. Reuters reports that Peter Chernin, the former president of News Corp., made the bid.

Chernin helped created the service in 2007, and current owners News Corp. and Walt Disney reached out to potential bidders last month, the story notes. It's not known whether other bidders have emerged, the piece adds.

Chernin, also a former Hulu board member, left News Corp. in 2009 to create the holding company the Chernin Group, which has stakes in companies such as Pandora and also has film and TV production efforts.

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CNN Reportedly Bringing Back a Show It Canceled in 2005

After the disappointing ratings of "The Lead with Jake Tapper" and the failed experiment of "(Get to) the Point," CNN is bringing back "Crossfire," which was canceled in 2005, reports Deadline.com.

Insiders at CNN say the show is set to return in June, the story reports. The network hasn't yet picked hosts, nor is it clear whether it will keep to the original half-hour format. The show first aired in 1982.

"Right now it seems that 'Crossfire 2.0' is slated to have a variety of CNN personalities and contributors taking up the 'left' and 'right' roles on the new version of the political debate show," the story says.

CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker has brought back some other network history since taking over in January, including reviving James Earl Jones' traditional "This is CNN" voiceover, the piece adds.

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NBC to Give New Show a Second Premiere

Following a less-than-spectacular ratings debut for a new drama series, NBC will try again. The network will repeat the premiere of "Hannibal" April 10, giving audiences another chance to catch the new gothic drama, reports Deadline.com.

As previously reported, "Hannibal’s” debut Thursday wasn't exactly the ratings draw that NBC may have been hoping it would be. The show averaged a 1.6 rating in the key 18-49 demo, finishing third in its 10 p.m. time period.

The series will temporarily take "Chicago Fire’s” time slot Wednesday at 10 p.m. for the repeat broadcast. The show's second episode will air the following night in its regular time period, Thursday at 10 p.m.

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Cable Channel Pulls Plug on Late-Night Talk Show

A talk show built around a personality who has been a staple of the cable network Bravo has reportedly been canceled. USA Today reports that comedian Kathy Griffin confirmed the news that her late-night talk show "Kathy" was canceled by the channel.

Griffin tweeted about the development Saturday, the piece notes. She responded to a tweet by Perez Hilton about the show’s cancellation, writing: “Sad but tru. Appreciate your kind words, PH.”

The second season of "Kathy" debuted in January, although the series was booted from its prime-time 10 p.m. time period in February, notes EW.com's Inside TV.

Griffin has been a staple on Bravo with her six-season reality series "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List," which debuted on the network in 2005, the story notes.

She is continuing her relationship with Bravo, USA Today reports, noting that Griffin is scheduled to tape a new comedy special next weekend for a summer debut.

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NBC Anchor Brian Williams Says His Daughter's Role on 'Girls' Has Helped Boost Baby Name Popularity

NBC anchor Brian Williams cited an increase in the popularity of a girl’s name -- which happens to be the name of the character his daughter plays on HBO’s "Girls," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed. The name is Marnie.

On the comedy series, Marnie is played by Brian Williams’ daughter Allison Williams.

in a report on the popularity of baby names on Friday's "Nightly News,” Williams said: “The big activity is among girls. The folks at NameBerry say Marnie is suddenly hot because there is a character named Marnie on an HBO series.”

While Williams didn't say that the character is played by his daughter, he had a "slight twinkle" in his eye as he reported it, the story says.

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Fox Sports Is Sued for Race Discrimination

Fox Sports has been hit with a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination. The Hollywood Reporter’s Hollywood, Esq., reports that fired executive Jerry Davis claims in his suit that no black person has ever held a position of vice president or above at the News Corp. unit.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, says Davis is a 52-year-old black man who worked as a director in the music department. He claims he was passed over four separate times for promotion "because, as a black man, he did not fit neatly into the company's corporate culture," according to the lawsuit.

Fox declined to comment, the story notes.

Davis claims he didn't receive any promotions while working at Fox Sports, and alleges that the company eliminated his job while he was on disability leave "without providing any interactive process or attempts at accommodation," the story says.

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Rare 'Star Trek' Item Sold for $231,000

An auction fetched the second-highest price ever paid for a bit of memorabilia from the original 1960s TV series “Star Trek.” A phaser rifle that was used by William Shatner in the show sold for $231,000, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The sale price trails only the $304,750 a collector paid for the captain’s chair in 2008, the piece notes.

The phaser rifle was designed by toy designer Reuben Klamer, who created the prop for Gene Roddenberry. It was seen in "Where No Man Has Gone Before," which was taped as the pilot but ended up as the third episode. It aired on Sept. 22, 1966.

In the episode, Captain Kirk uses the phaser rifle to kill an officer who has gained telepathic and telekinetic powers. After that episode, the rifle was replaced with the smaller, handgun-style phaser, the story says.

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Roger Ebert's Final Review Posted

The last review by Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert, who died Thursday, was posted to his website Sunday, reports TheWrap.com.

The review is for the movie "To the Wonder," directed by Terrence Malick and starring Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams, and Ebert's review is generally positive.

Below is the final paragraph:

"There will be many who find 'To the Wonder' elusive and too effervescent. They'll be dissatisfied by a film that would rather evoke than supply. I understand that, and I think Terrence Malick does, too. But here he has attempted to reach more deeply than that: to reach beneath the surface, and find the soul in need."

Ebert's funeral service will be held today (Monday) in Chicago, while a memorial is planned for Thursday, according to TheWrap.

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Linda Yaccarino, Who Now Runs Ad Sales for NBCUniversal, Says the Company's Size May Be Its Biggest Strength: 'The leverage we have is the sheer amount of content we have and the way we can creatively stitch it together to meet reach needs'

Linda Yaccarino, NBCUniversal's president of ad sales, senses change in the air, according to Advertising Age.

"One of her conversation changers is Project Symphony -- an internal initiative NBCU is bringing to the market for the first time," Ad Age reports. "It singles out its own select projects to promote heavily across platforms, including in partnership with Comcast. That will allow brands the treatment that Universal Studios' 'The Lorax' received last year when the Dr. Seuss character appeared on the bottom of the screen during TV shows across NBCU's networks, made a cameo on 'The Voice' and was plugged on 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.'

"'The leverage we have is the sheer amount of content and the way we can creatively stitch it together to meet reach needs,' Ms. Yaccarino said. 'Aggregation of important ratings points to reach precise customers -- whether it's moms or independent women or upscale men -- that's really what we are talking about.' She plans to increase reach by packaging some of NBCU's cable assets along with broadcast."

And that's just the beginning of Yaccarino's strategy and tactics for this year's upfront. Click on the link above to read the entire Ad Age article.

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Hundreds Attend Funeral for 'Buckwild' Star

Hundreds of people, many dressed in camouflage, attended the funeral of "Buckwild" cast member Shain Gandee, reports the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail.

Some attendees wore neon T-shirts with the logo of Gandee Candy, his family's candy company, the story says. Gandee, his uncle and a third man were found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning last week. They were found in Gandee's Ford Bronco, which was partially sunk in a mud hole.

Hank Williams Jr.'s "A Country Boy Can Survive" was played over speakers at the Charleston Municipal Auditorium as attendees watched a slideshow of Gandee’s life, the story notes.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for shain-gandee2.jpg

Shain Gandee

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Top Comcast and NBCUniversal Execs Get Raises

Comcast Corp. Chief Executive Brian Roberts and Steve Burke, the CEO of NBCUniversal, received salary increases in 2012, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Citing a regulatory filing Friday, the Times reports that Roberts earned $29 million in compensation last year, a jump of 8% from 2011. Burke saw a bigger increase in compensation -- 11.3%, bringing his total to $26.3 million last year, the story says.

"Burke has been busy putting out brush fires throughout NBC. He jetted from New York to Los Angeles on Palm Sunday to work out a transition plan with NBC's "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno, who will surrender his job and the late-night crown next February to Jimmy Fallon," the piece notes.

"Comcast assumed 100% control of NBCUniversal last month. Last year, Comcast controlled 51% of the media company but General Electric agreed to sell out its 49% stake during the last fiscal quarter, several years earlier than originally planned."

2012 was a good financial year for Comcast, with revenue up 12% and operating income boosted by 14%, the piece notes. Its stock price jumped 61% in 2012.

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Has ABC Renamed Joss Whedon's 'S.H.I.E.L.D.'?

A new Web page for Joss Whedon's forthcoming ABC project has sparked speculation that "S.H.I.E.L.D." has a new name, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The new title, as revealed on ABC's website for advertisers, is "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D," the story says. A rep for the network says that the title isn't yet official, however.

"Keep in mind that titles often change during the development process (remember how Fox’s 'The Mindy Project' was originally called 'It’s Messy'?). At the very least, however, this title made it through enough layers of network approval to get previewed to Madison Avenue, and we hear this is what Marvel and the producers are currently calling the project as well," the piece notes.

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Margaret Thatcher, Britain's First Female Prime Minister, Dead at 87

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the only woman to serve as Britain’s prime minister, has died at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke today, CNN reports.

“Thatcher's funeral will be at St. Paul's Cathedral, with full military honors, followed by a private cremation, the British prime minister's office announced,” CNN reports. “Thatcher served from 1975 to 1990 as leader of the Conservative Party. She was called the ‘Iron Lady’ for her personal and political toughness.”

Thatcher retired from public life in 2002 following a stroke, and suffered a number of strokes during the next decade, the piece notes.

“She made few public appearances in her final months, missing a reception marking her 85th birthday hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron in October 2010. She also skipped the July 2011 unveiling of a statue honoring her old friend Ronald Reagan in London,” the story reports. “In December 2012, she was hospitalized after a procedure to remove a growth in her bladder.”

Thatcher said in an interview six years before becoming prime minister: "I don't think there will be a woman prime minister in my lifetime."

“During her time at the helm of the British government, she emphasized moral absolutism, nationalism, and the rights of the individual versus those of the state -- famously declaring ‘There is no such thing as society’ in 1987,” the story reports. “Nicknamed the ‘Iron Lady’ by the Soviet press after a 1976 speech declaring that ‘the Russians are bent on world dominance,’ Thatcher later enjoyed a close working relationship with U.S. President Reagan, with whom she shared similar conservative views.

“But the British cold warrior played a key role in ending the conflict by giving her stamp of approval to Soviet Communist reformer Mikhail Gorbachev shortly before he came to power.”

margaret-thatcher.jpgMargaret Thatcher

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Filmmaker Who Directors Guild President Says Is 'a National Treasure' Dies at 77

A filmmaker whom Taylor Hackford, president of the Directors Guild, called "a national treasure" has died of bladder cancer at age 77, reports The New York Times.

The filmmaker is Les Blank.

Thumbnail image for les blank.bmp

Les Blank

The Times obituary, by Bruce Weber, says: "Les Blank, whose sly, sensuous and lyrical documentaries about regional music and a host of other idiosyncratic subjects, including Mardi Gras, gaptoothed women, garlic and the filmmaker Werner Herzog, were widely admired by critics and other filmmakers if not widely known by moviegoers, died on Sunday at his home in Berkeley, Calif."

The Times adds, "[Blank's] films are hardly standard documentary fare, dominated by archival footage and interviews with talking heads; nor are they of the Frederick Wiseman-D.A. Pennebaker fly-on-the-wall exposé school. Rather, the films, most of them less than an hour long, are 'brilliantly sympathetic, well-crafted essays,' as John Rockwell wrote in The New York Times in 1979, rife with deftly framed portraiture, cunningly observed social scenes, beautiful nature photography and the poetic juxtaposition of imagery and sound."

The story continues, " 'I think he’s a national treasure,' the director Taylor Hackford said in a telephone interview. 'Although his films are not well known at the moment, they’ll take their place. Films are great when they live a long time, and I think Les’s will live.' " 

Says an obituary about Blank in the San Francisco Chronicle: " 'I started showing Les' films in 1969 when I saw his first film, 'The Blues Accordin' to Lightnin' Hopkins,' said Tom Luddy, a longtime producer for American Zoetrope and co-founder of the Telluride Film Festival. 'I thought it was the best film on music I had ever seen. He got stuff that nobody else gets.' Luddy thought it was a fluke, but it wasn't. 'That began this amazing career of capturing the culture and lifestyle of so many unique artists working in regional American settings.' "

A list of Blank's films can be found here, on the IMDB website.

Here's a short excerpt from "The Blues Accordin' to Lightnin' Hopkins":

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Judge Exits Singing Competition Series

Another singing competition series is joining the trend of shaking up the judging panel, following similar moves by “The X Factor and “The Voice.” This time it’s NBC’s “The Sing-Off.”

Judge Sara Bareilles is leaving the show, EW.com reports.

The story reports: “The Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter wants to ‘focus on her music,’ says a source close to Bareilles. She replaced original ‘Sing-Off’ judge Nicole Scherzinger for the show’s third season after Scherzinger departed to Fox’s ‘X Factor.’”

Reality guru Mark Burnett is reportedly overhauling “The Sing-Off” before it bows for its fourth season. “The move creates at least one opening on the judges panel for the lively a cappella competition. ... It’s not yet clear if there are more departures to come,” the piece reports.

The show is hosted by Nick Lachey, with Ben Folds and Shawn Stockman in the other judges’ seats.

The report notes: “Since ‘The Sing-Off’ premiered in December 2009, the series has [had] its ups and downs in the ratings, but has maintained a fan base of admirers. When it wasn’t renewed in 2012, many thought the show was canceled. But last month NBC announced ‘The Sing-Off’ would return sometime during the holiday season.”

Sara-Bareilles.jpgSara Bareilles

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Mob Boss Tony Soprano vs. Dunder Mifflin Boss Michael Scott as Feuding Dinosaur Bone Collectors? Believe It

TV’s Tony Soprano and Michael Scott -- longtime “Sopranos” kingpin James Gandolfini and Dunder Mifflin boss Steve Carell on “The Office” -- are continuing their comedic collaborations with a new HBO project, “Bone Wars,” Deadline.com reports.

Carell and Gandolfini recently co-starred in the feature “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.” The new project, with the two men starring and executive producing, is headed for the small screen.

“The project, now in development, is based on the real-life Bone Wars (aka the Great Dinosaur Rush) between Edward Drinker Cope of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia and Othniel Charles Marsh of the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale,” the piece reports. “Set during the post-Civil War birth of American science, the film is a sophisticated comedy about one of history’s most notorious feuds -- the great dinosaur fossil race between paleontologists Marsh (Gandolfini) and Cope (Carell) -- a decades-long competition that led to the discovery of more than 160 dinosaurs and their mutual downward spiral.”

The project is looking for a writer, the piece notes. Joining as exec producers are Alexandra Ryan of Gandolfini’s Attaboy Productions and Thom Hinkle of Carell’s Carousel Television.

The report notes: “Gandolfini and his Attaboy banner have had constant presence at HBO since the end of ‘The Sopranos.’ He developed a few projects including the original movie ‘Hemingway & Gellhorn,’ which he executive produced, and starred in the film ‘Cinema Verite’ and the pilot ‘Criminal Justice.’”

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How Strong Were Ratings for the Premiere of NBC's New Drama Series? It Depends on How You Spin It

A high-profile NBC drama series bowed Thursday night, and while it wasn’t exactly a ratings disaster, it wasn’t quite a juggernaut either. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “Hannibal” delivered a 1.6 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights, finishing third in the 10 p.m. time slot.

The number was an improvement of 78% from the premiere of the network’s “Do No Harm,” which came up with a 0.9 in viewers 18-49 on Jan. 31, the piece points out. But it was down 20% from the 2.0 for “Awake” in its premiere just over a year ago. The “Hannibal” rating was NBC’s best result for entertainment programming in the time period since March 15, 2012, and was 60% better than the network’s average this year in the time slot.

For prime time overall, NBC placed fifth in both the 18-49 demo and total viewers, trailing not only its big 4 rivals -- CBS, Fox and ABC -- but also once again finishing behind Spanish-language Univision. NBC’s “Community” fell to a series low with a 1.0 in 18-49, losing 9% from its previous original. “The Office” also hit a series low, a 1.7, down 11%. “Parks and Recreation” was down 6% to a 1.5, while “Go On” made its time slot premiere at 9:30 p.m. with a 1.1, losing a hefty 42%.

CBS won the night with a 3.1 average rating in viewers 18-49 for prime time overall, followed by Fox (2.3 average), ABC (2.2), Univision (1.5) and NBC (1.4). CBS also won total viewers, averaging 13.3 million to Fox’s 7.7 million, ABC’s 6.9 million, Univision’s 3.6 million and NBC’s 3.3 million.

CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” was the top show of the night, ticking up 2% from its previous original episode for a 4.9 in adults 18-49. “Two and a Half Men” surged 12% to a 3.8. “Person of Interest” lost 7% for a season-low 2.7, and “Elementary” equaled its series low, losing 9% for a 2.1.

ABC had 2.7 averages in 18-49 for both “Grey’s Anatomy” (down 7% from a week ago) and “Scandal” (up 4%, and No. 1 in the 10 p.m. hour). “Wife Swap” managed only a 1.2 at 8 p.m., down 14%.

Fox’s “American Idol” continued its recent soft ratings, matching its series low with a 2.8 average in viewers 18-49, equaling its week-ago number. “New Girl” had a 2.0, slipping 9% from its previous original, while “The Mindy Project” delivered a 1.4, up 8% from Tuesday’s result.

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HBO Documentary in the Works About Hollywood Figure Who Died in 2012

A popular Hollywood screenwriter, director and producer who died last year is the subject of an upcoming HBO documentary. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the project will focus on the late Nora Ephron.

“Ephron's son, journalist Jacob Bernstein, is developing what is being billed as an intimate portrait of his mother, an acclaimed writer/director known for such films as ‘When Harry Met Sally,’ ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ and ‘You've Got Mail,’” the story reports. “He will direct and co-produce the project, titled ‘Everything Is Copy,’ which was a lesson that her mother, also a self-reflective screenwriter, had taught her early on.”

Co-directing will be Nick Hooker, with Matt Parker and Carly Hugo attached as producers, the report notes. The project is set up at HBO Documentary Films.

The piece adds: “Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, who won both an Emmy and Peabody award for ‘9/11,’ is on board as an executive producer. Carter previously teamed with HBO on ‘His Way,’ a documentary centered on legendary producer Jerry Weintraub.”

Ephron died almost a year ago at 71 of pneumonia, a complication from acute myeloid leukemia.

The report notes: “In early March, Bernstein penned a lengthy remembrance of his mother's final days in a New York Times magazine entry entitled ‘Nora Ephron's Final Act.’ Included in the piece was a retelling of her last moments of consciousness, which were marked by still-sharp jokes, crossword puzzles and hallucinations.”

nora-ephron.jpgNora Ephron

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History Renews Its First Scripted Series

The first season of the History channel’s first scripted series has gone well, becoming the No. 1 new cable series of 2013. Now the channel has announced it is bringing back “Vikings” for a second season.

Dirk Hoogstra, executive VP of development and programming for History, announced the series is coming back with a 10-episode order for season two. The announcement comes just five episodes into season one.

“’Vikings’ continues to be the #1 new cable series in 2013 and has propelled History to #1 in cable in its Sunday 10-11 p.m. time period,” the cable channel announced. “Over the five weeks, the hit drama series averaged 5.0 million total viewers, 2.2 million Adults 25-54 and 1.9 Adults 18-49. This past Sunday, episode five delivered 4.7 million total viewers, 2.2 million Adults 25-54 and 1.7 million Adults 18-49. This was up 4% among total viewers and up 5% among Adults 25-54 from last week.”

Said Hoogstra: “’Vikings’ is a win win for us. As our first scripted series, ‘Vikings’ has paid off in a big way with critical acclaim, strong ratings and a passionate, loyal fan base. It came out of the gate strong and has stayed on top, solidifying History as a major player in the scripted genre, just as we are in reality.”

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James Brown Channel Coming to YouTube, With Launch Timed to Mark a Landmark 1968 Event

The Godfather of Soul, James Brown, will be the focus of a new YouTube channel. Deadline.com reports that Shout Factory is launching the channel, which will feature concert footage and testimonials. Additional material will be made available on DVD and via other merchandise.

The launch “coincides with the 45th anniversary of Brown’s Boston concert following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.,” the report notes. “Many historians believe that the concert helped to prevent riots from breaking out as they had in several other cities.”

The launch is a collaboration with the James Brown Estate, with the material to be found at youtube.com/jamesbrownofficial and shoutfactory.com/jamesbrown.

Said Jeffrey Thompson, Shout Factory VP of digital strategy and business development: “These digital destinations will continue to evolve as we program content specific to key events as well as discover and add new video assets, leveraging Shout Factory’s unique content curation capabilities.”

Shout Factory founders Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos said in a statement that the initiative is “an integral part of our commitment to leverage a variety of digital entertainment platforms to celebrate the very best of pop culture.”

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Al Jazeera Hires First Anchor -- and He's a Familiar Face From CNN

Al Jazeera has hired its first anchor for its new U.S. cable channel, and it's a familiar face from CNN. The New York Times' Media Decoder reports that CNN’s Ali Velshi is moving to Al Jazeera.

As we reported Thursday, Velshi's last day at CNN will be today, April 5, and the announcement of his departure was made during a staff meeting Wednesday at CNN.

Velshi, who has been the chief business correspondent and an anchor at CNN, will become the host of a half-hour prime-time business program on the new network. It's not clear when it will replace Current TV, which Al Jazeera bought earlier this year.

Velshi said his reason for taking on the new job was that he “was really struck by their commitment to building a strong news organization." He added that he's not worried about aligning himself with the Al Jazeera brand name.

“I think the product will trump any preconceived notions that people may have going into it,” he told The Times. “They’re very determined for this brand to make an impact and for this brand to be a meaningful provider of news.”

Thumbnail image for ali-velshi.jpgAli Velshi

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Actor Departs HBO's 'Girls' Amid Reports of Creative Differences

An actor on the HBO show “Girls” has left the comedy series, with some media outlets reporting a creative clash between the actor, Christopher Abbott, and the show’s creator, Lena Dunham.

Abbott, who played Charlie on the series, won't return for the third season, reports The New York Times' ArtsBeat.

On "Girls," Abbott's character was a seemingly aimless man who breaks up with Marnie (Allison Williams), then hits upon success by creating a popular iPhone app, the story says.

“Charlie and Marnie seemed to have reconciled in the Season 2 finale of ‘Girls,’ but Mr. Abbott’s departure suggests that plot line won’t extend very far into Season 3, which is now in production,” The Times reports. “A press representative for Mr. Abbott said in an e-mail on Thursday morning that he was ‘grateful for the experience of collaborating with Lena, Judd [Apatow] and the entire “Girls” cast and crew, but right now he’s working on numerous other projects and has decided not to return to the show.’”

The New York Post cites sources saying Abbott and Dunham clashed as production began on the new season.

Said one source cited in the piece: “They’ve just started work on Season 3, and Chris is at odds with Lena. He didn’t like the direction things are going in, which seems a bit odd since the show put him on the map.”

The writing staff has also reportedly been shaken up for the new season, according to the Post.

christopher-abbott.jpgChristopher Abbott

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'Game of Thrones' Breaks Another Record -- One That HBO Probably Isn't Happy About

"Game of Thones" broke a big record with its third-season premiere, but it's one that HBO probably isn't too happy about. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that the program broke a record for online piracy.

The episode, called "Valar Dohaeris," broke records for simultaneous illegal downloads through BitTorrent and other sites, the story says.

The season premiere, with more than 1 million downloads and 160,000 simultaneous users sharing files, broke a previous record held by the third-season premiere of "Heroes," which had just over 144,000 simultaneous downloads.

Last year, "Game of Thrones" was the most pirated show, the story says.

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Is Reality TV Running Out of Ideas?

The reality television business appears to be running out of fresh formats, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which examined the MIP-TV television market before coming to that conclusion.

"Every year program execs descend on MIP-TV hunting for the next big thing in reality TV. But if the new crop of show formats is anything to go on, we shouldn't expect another revolution,” the story reports.

Said Karoline Spodsberg of Banijay International: “I don't see anything mind-blowing this year. The trend -- if you can call it a trend -- is that people are reworking already existing genres and existing shows. Almost everything ‘new’ is set in something we already know and already is successful.”

Examples are ABC's "The Taste," which combines "Iron Chef" with the blind auditions of "The Voice," and "Everybody Dance Now," a take on "So You Think You Can Dance?" but with flash mobs, the story points out.

“In fact, the most successful ‘new’ format of the past two year has been ‘The Voice’ from Talpa Media, a show that is essentially ‘American Idol’ with spinning chairs,” the piece reports.

Said Jens Richter of Red Arrow: “There are a lot of really new, really great show ideas out there. The problem is the channels have become so risk adverse. For broadcasters its all about: track record, track record, track record.”

The report notes: “Among the dozens of reality shows launching at MIP-TV there are a handful that break the mold. Endemol's ‘Your Face Sounds Familiar’ -- based on a Spanish show -- combines the comedy, celebrity and singing competition genres in a format in which local stars mimic the famous singers of all times, from Frank Sinatra to Justin Bieber.

“’Absolute Majority’ from Banijay, based on a hit German format, is a compelling mash-up of political discussion and game show in which politicians compete for the votes of a live audience. ... And Keshet Broadcasting's ‘Remember Me’ puts a new spin on the makeover genre by putting a formerly obese woman back into a fat suit to confront the demons of her past.”

While any of these or another, as-yet-undiscovered, format could become the next big thing, THR reports, “It looks likely that broadcasters will continue to go with the old song and dance -- and spinning chairs -- for some time to come.”

Added Iris Boelhouwer, head of global creative operations for Endemol: “It's true nothing at the moment looks like the 'next big thing.’ But the thing about the revolutionary formats, the ones that change the business, is you never see them coming.”

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AMC Blames Zombies for Errors in 'Walking Dead' Ad

AMC took out a full-page ad in The New York Times to publicize its huge ratings for "The Walking Dead’s” finale on March 31, but unfortunately got a few things wrong, reports Deadline.

The ad bragged that "Walking Dead" beat "The Voice" and "Modern Family" -- but misidentified their networks, placing "The Voice" on ABC (it airs on on NBC) and "Modern Family" as a Fox show (it airs on ABC).

AMC blamed the errors on the undead.

"It appears our fact checking department was overrun by zombies. We have the utmost respect for these shows and networks,” the network said in a statement Thursday.


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'Glee' Co-Creator Ryan Murphy Working on Sex Show

"Glee" co-creator Ryan Murphy is shopping a script with "Dexter" co-executive producer Lauren Gussis that's an exploration of sexuality, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The show is likely to end up on cable, and reportedly a bidding frenzy is whipping up, the story says.

"In fact, steamy sex series could become the next rage,” the report notes. “In September, Showtime is scheduled to premiere 'Masters of Sex,’ a new drama starring Michael Sheen and the captivating Lizzy Caplan that’s about the real-life pioneers of the science of human sexuality. And you can’t study sex without watching someone have sex, right?"

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Heavyweights DiCaprio and Hanks Working With HBO on Movie About World Leader

HBO Films is developing a movie about a real-life world leader with actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, reports Deadline.com. The project is “Gorbachev.”

The production also involves former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev -- the subject of the film -- who is on board as a consultant, the story notes.

The movie is written by former "Hell on Wheels" showrunner John Shiban and is executive produced by DiCaprio, Hanks and others.

The film stems from DiCaprio's relationship with Gorbachev, with the two meeting when the former Soviet president appeared in DiCaprio's 2007 environmental documentary "The 11th Hour," the piece adds.

It's also a reunion for DiCaprio and Hanks, who starred in Steven Spielberg's "Catch Me If You Can."

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ABC Taps Paul Reubens to Play One of 'Alice in Wonderland's' Signature Characters

One of the signature characters from “Alice in Wonderland” will be played by Paul Reubens -- known for his alter ego, Pee-Wee Herman -- in ABC’s new “Once Upon a Time” spinoff.

Deadline.com reports that Reubens has been cast to provide the voice of the White Rabbit in the new show, “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.”

The project is set in a pre-curse Wonderland and is told via the character of Alice, played by Sophie Lowe.

If the project goes to series, Barbara Hershey, who played the Queen of Hearts in "Once Upon a Time," might appear in flashbacks. Other characters from "Once," such as the Mad Hatter, played by Sebastian Stan, are also likely to appear, the story says.

paul-reubens.jpgPaul Reubens

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TLC Unveils New Programs for 2013-2014

Touting strong ratings during 2012 -- including 2 million-plus viewers for “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” “Breaking Amish,” “Long Island Medium” and “Sister Wives” -- TLC took the wraps off its lineup of new programming for 2013-2014.

Among the cable channel’s new shows are “Breaking Amish: Brave New World,” “Best Funeral Ever,” “Alaskan Women Looking for Love” (working title), “Cajun Paranormal,” “My Teen Is Pregnant and So Am I,” “Ballroom Blitz” (working title), “Family S.O.S. with Jo Frost” and “Women of Homicide.”

Click here for details on the full TLC lineup of new programs for 2013-2014.


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Details Emerge on the New 'Tonight Show' Set in New York

Jimmy Fallon's new set for NBC’s retooled "Tonight Show," which will move to New York City after Jay Leno steps down, will look like a Broadway theater, reports the New York Post.

The network is gutting a studio on the sixth floor of 30 Rockefeller Center, punching through the ceiling to create a balcony that will provide the feeling of a Broadway theater, the story notes.

It will also seat 50 more people than Leno's 300-seat studio in Burbank, Calif.

"The Dr. Oz Show" is getting kicked out of its sixth-floor studio as a result, the piece adds. Construction will start this summer.

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New Syfy Project Has 'NCIS' Bloodlines

A new drama project is in development at Syfy, which bought the script on spec from Alfonso H. Moreno of "NCIS," reports Deadline.com.

“The untitled project, from Fox TV Studios and Ross Fineman’s FtvS-based Fineman Entertainment, starts off with a meteorite striking a plane,” the piece reports. “The only two survivors find themselves sleepwalking and waking up with no memory of their actions. On the run from the government, they must figure out what happened to them and prove their innocence.”

Moreno and Fineman are executive producing, the report notes.

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Four Lessons for Apple to Be Learned From the Introduction of the Facebook Phone

According to Fortune, "Now we know: The Facebook Phone is neither a phone, nor an operating system. Instead, [Facebook founder Mark] Zuckerberg unveiled a downloadable collection of apps, available April 12, that will be supported on select Android phones to start, including the $99 HTC First, the first device to come pre-loaded with it."

Nevertheless, JP Mangalindan writes in Fortune tthat Apple can learn four things from this Facebook move:

1. "Don't force the marriage of desktop and mobile. As Zuckerberg told Fortune, Facebook on mobile doesn't closely resemble the desktop experience -- a strategy that seems to be working as the social network continues to expand its footprint on smartphones and tablets. (Indeed, 157 million Facebook users checked the social network daily via mobile devices as of last January.)"

2.  "If it's not your strong suit, look elsewhere. Apple is master of many things -- industrial design, elegant interfaces, tablets -- but let's face it: Social has never been one of them. One need look no further than the failed, awkwardly named iTunes social networking service Ping for proof."

3. "Relax -- just a little bit. A Home-like experience for iOS would likely be great for users who want it, but why the hold-up? Apple's tight reins over iOS development is likely the culprit. Though Zuckerberg told Fortune Facebook has a good relationship with Apple, he also suggested when it comes to iOS development, you really need to work with them."

4. "Don't commodify the hardware. ... [A]s Apple explores new revenue streams, particularly in areas like China, and mulls over more inexpensive iPhone models, it shouldn't treat its hardware with any less emphasis than it already does. Because for Facebook, HTC's average-seeming handset sounds to us like a missed opportunity."

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Our Tribute to Roger Ebert

[Popular film critic Roger Ebert died Wednesday, April 4, 2013, at age 70. Here's our tribute to him]

By Chuck Ross

I didn’t know Roger Ebert well. I used to run into him – and his then TV sparring partner, Gene Siskel – every so often at studio press screenings in Los Angeles years ago, when I worked for The Hollywood Reporter. And I would see both of them when I went to Promax, where they would host the awards for creative promos. Roger was very approachable, and since I also love movies, I always had something to talk to him about. And he never seemed to tire talking about movies. I know a number of broadcasters who also came to know Ebert through those Promax appearances.

But like most of you, I feel I best came to know Ebert from his TV shows. Back on Jan. 24, 2005, we here at TelevisionWeek had the pleasure of bestowing upon Ebert our Lifetime Achievement Award in the category of TV syndication. Though Ebert had first been diagnosed with cancer in 2002, it wasn’t until 2006 that he had the major surgery that removed part of his jaw. So at the time of our honoring him it was during the period he was reviewing movies on TV with film critic Richard Roeper, who had replaced Siskel after Gene died.

Roeper was kind enough, for that 2005 salute to Ebert, to pen for us an essay about his TV partner. With Richard’s permission, here’s that piece once again:

Roeper Knows the Real Ebert

by Richard Roeper

Virtually every day for the past five years, I've been asked the same two questions:

"Where do you get your shoes?"

What's it like to work with Roger Ebert?"

The answer to question No. 1 is that I don't "get" them anywhere, all right, pal? I make them. I'm a part-time cobbler and I'm proud of it, and I'm tired of pretending that I buy my shoes retail.

As for question No. 2 -- what it's like to work alongside the most famous and accomplished movie critic the world has ever known -- I usually put on a brave face and say something like, "Oh, it's nothing but sunshine and balloons every moment we're in the same room together."

That always seems to satisfy the questioner.

Only one problem: It's a lie.

Let me tell you what it's really like to work with Mr. Roger Ebert.

First of all, his behavior in our Chicago screening room is beyond belief. Even though there are about 50 seats in the theater, he insists on sitting right behind me and kicking the seat for hours at a time, usually as he hums "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." When I turn to shoot him a nasty look, he flicks a kernel of popcorn at me, laughs uproariously and says, "I'm sorry, does that bother you?"

That's usually about the time Ebert's cellphone goes off. (His ringer is the theme from "Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed.")

Here's something else you wouldn't expect: The guy constantly talks back to the screen during the movie. Typical comments:

"Aw, hell no!"

"Oh come on, that would never happen! Who wrote this crap!"

"He's under the bed, girlfriend. Why don't you look under the bed!!!"

"I thought that guy was the cousin. Is he the boyfriend or the cousin? This movie is giving me a headache."

As for Ebert's behavior on taping day, let's just say that showing up three hours late in a velour sweat suit and insisting that everyone in the crew call him "Doctor Thumb" is not my idea of professional behavior. And it's a good thing the show isn't live, because the language-well, let's just say that the language would make Tarantino blush.

Enough with the pseudo-Friars Club routine. The truth is, I can kid like that about Roger because anyone who has ever worked with him in any capacity -- and for that matter, anyone who has attended one of his classes or exchanged e-mails with him about the movies or even stopped him on the street to discuss what Bill Murray says to Scarlett Johansson at the end of "Lost in Translation" -- knows that Roger Ebert is a class act.

Whether he's telling one of his famously corny jokes, filling the room with his passion for political debate or casually relating a personal anecdote that co-stars Nicole Kidman, Clint Eastwood or Groucho Marx, Roger's thirst for life is infectious. And when he champions a film such as "Million Dollar Baby" or "Monster," the man is a runaway train of enthusiasm. To see him get so excited about a film after so many years and so many movies is inspirational.

What's it like to work with Roger Ebert?

An absolute blast. A privilege. And an honor.#

In that same 2005 salute to Ebert, Alex Ben Block, then our TVWeek editor, did a terrific interview with Ebert. How good was it? Well, today, April 4, 2013, in The New York Times obituary about Ebert, they quote from it. If you click here you can read Alex’s insightful interview in full. And by the way, Alex is still writing wonderful pieces, now for The Hollywood Reporter.

I would also urge you to read a very perceptive profile of Ebert, by Chris Jones, from 2010, in Esquire magazine. Click here to find it. When Alex Ben Block spoke to Ebert in 2005, it was by phone, and Ebert was in Paris.

Interestingly, Ebert references that trip in this thought about dying quoted in Jones’ Esquire article:

I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear, he writes in a journal entry titled “Go Gently into That Good Night.”I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.

Finally, I urge everyone to go see a movie in honor of Ebert. I suggest one of his favorites from last year – it’s also a movie I’ve been recommending to friends lately. It’s “Searching for Sugar Man,” which recently won the Oscar for Best Feature Documentary. If you can’t find it on-demand or at your local video store, you can buy it through Amazon or watch it through Amazon’s streaming service. It’s got a great many surprises and is one of those films which is most impressive the less you know what it’s about before you see it. Suffice to say that Ebert called it “miraculous and inspiring."

Which are the two words I'd use to describe Roger Ebert.#

Roger Ebert.jpg

Roger Ebert 1942-2013

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Film Critic Roger Ebert Dead at 70

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that famed film critic Roger Ebert has died. Ebert, 70, had just announced that he was cutting back on work, as previously reported, as his fight with cancer had taken a turn for the worse.

Ebert’s film reviews appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times since 1967, but he was probably best known for his work on TV, including with longtime partner Gene Siskel, who died in 1999. The two critics popularized the thumbs-up, thumbs-down rating system as they argued over movies on “Sneak Previews,” “At the Movies” and “Siskel and Ebert and the Movies.”

Following Siskel’s death, Ebert carried on with a new show, bringing in critic Richard Roeper for “Ebert & Roeper & the Movies.”

Ebert also wrote more than 15 books, becoming the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.

The Chicago Sun-Times website appeared to crash soon after the news broke of Ebert's death, presumably because of a high volume of traffic from people wanting to read about Ebert. Here's a link to another story on Ebert's death, in the Chicago Tribune.

roger-ebert.jpgRoger Ebert

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A Familiar Face at CNN Is Headed Out the Door

CNN continues to shake up its on-air lineup, with another familiar face the latest casualty as new CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker retools the channel.

TVNewser reports that Ali Velshi, the channel’s chief business correspondent, is out the door. His last day will be Friday, April 5.

Zucker made the announcement during a staff meeting Wednesday, the story reports. “Zucker said that CNN and Velshi were parting as friends, and that the channel was sorry to see him go,” the piece notes.

Velshi confirmed the news, saying: “It’s been an amazing almost 12 years at CNN. Love it more today than I ever have, and CNN is going to be great under Jeff. I basically grew up here, so it’s sad to leave, but I’ve got a great opportunity to stretch some new muscles and grow something, and it appeals to my entrepreneurial side.”

The story reports: “Velshi joined CNN in 2001 as an anchor and reporter for the CNNfn financial news channel. He moved to CNN proper as a business correspondent and anchor in 2004 when CNNfn shut down. In addition to his correspondent duties, he also serves as the anchor of ‘CNN Your Money’ and ‘World Business Today’ on CNN International.”

An inside source said Zucker commented that Velshi was leaving for a new venture that “he couldn’t pass up,” but details on that venture were not known.

ali-velshi.jpgAli Velshi

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Two Longtime Reality Juggernauts Fall to All-Time Ratings Lows

A pair of the most durable and successful franchises in reality television sank to historic lows in the ratings Wednesday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the ratings freefall continued for Fox’s “American Idol," as the two-hour show lost 6% from last week. “Idol’s” 3.0 average rating in 18-49 was an all-time low for the Wednesday edition -- following last week’s all-time low of 3.2.

On CBS, “Survivor” equaled its all-time low with a 2.4 average in viewers 18-49, slipping 4% from a week ago.

The top show of the night was ABC’s “Modern Family,” which bounced back from last week’s season low. The show improved 28% to a 4.1 in the 18-49 demo, up from the 3.2 it hit a week ago.

When the dust settled, Fox wound up on top for prime time overall, averaging a 3.0 in adults 18-49 to finish ahead of CBS (2.4 average), ABC (2.3), Univision (1.7) and NBC (1.5). Fox also won total viewers, averaging 11.5 million to CBS’s 9.9 million, ABC’s 7.2 million, NBC’s 6.1 million and Univision’s 3.9 million.

CBS’s lineup was down from its previous round of original episodes. “Criminal Minds” delivered a 2.8 in 18-49, down 7%, while “CSI” slipped to a 2.1, down 9%.

ABC rolled out the new series “How to Live With Your Parents,” with decent results. The show earned a 2.9 in viewers 18-49, much better than what “Suburgatory” has been delivering in the time period but also equaling the premiere of the ill-fated “Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23” about a year ago.

Elsewhere on ABC, “The Middle” improved 11% from last week to a 2.0 in the 18-49 demo, “Suburgatory” dipped 5% to a 1.8 and “Nashville” built up to a 1.7, 13% better than last week.

NBC had what could be considered a highlight as “Dateline” delivered the 8 p.m. Wednesday hour’s best number in 12 weeks, even if it was only a 1.4 average in 18-49. That was a 27% improvement from the show’s most recent airing on Sunday, March 24.

Elsewhere on NBC, “Law & Order: SVU” lost 6% from last week, settling for a 1.6 in viewers 18-49, and “Chicago Fire” also lost 6% and delivered a 1.6.

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MSNBC Names New Panelist for 'The Cycle' as Network Continues to Shuffle Lineup

MSNBC’s latest round of musical chairs continues as the network moves on-air personalities into new slots. B&C reports that the channel named Ari Melber as the new panelist on “The Cycle.”

Melber replaces Steve Kornacki, who moved from “The Cycle” to host the channel’s weekend morning show “Up.” “Up’s” Chris Hayes vacated that chair to fill a vacancy in the nightly prime-time lineup, where Ed Schultz recently departed for a lead role in the new MSNBC prime-time weekend programming.

Melber joins co-hosts S.E. Cupp, Krystal Ball and Touré on “The Cycle, which airs weekdays at 3 p.m. ET.

“Melber has been with MSNBC since 2011 as a contributor and has guest hosted for Alex Wagner and Martin Bashir,” the report notes. “He is the author of MSNBC.com's ‘The Laws of Politics’ blog. He is also a correspondent for The Nation.”

MSNBC also just named Karen Finney to host a new weekend 4 p.m. program, as we reported earlier this week.

Ari-Melber.jpgAri Melber

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Joan and Melissa Rivers' E! Show 'Fashion Police' Accused of Failing to Pay Back Wages

The E! show "Fashion Police," hosted by Joan Rivers and produced by her daughter Melissa Rivers, has been hit with claims by writers alleging they are owed more than $1 million in back wages, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

The claims were filed with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, and allege that the show broke state labor laws by failing to pay regular and overtime hours.

"Fashion Police" also features other celebrities including Kelly Osbourne.

"The most I've been paid for a show has been for eight hours of work," said writer Eliza Kinner in a statement that was issued by the Writers Guild of America, which provided legal assistance to the writers. "In reality, I put in anywhere from 12 to 32 additional hours on each show -- time I should have been compensated for. On top of that is all the unpaid overtime we regularly work. There are some shows where we are required to work 16-hour days, from 2:30 p.m. until around 5:30 the following morning."

E! said it pays its writers fairly and is in legal compliance, the story notes.

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Discovery Channel Unveils 2013-14 Upfront Slate

Discovery Channel took the wraps off its 2013-14 upfront slate -- including the cable channel’s first-ever scripted miniseries, “Klondike.” The lineup features live events, new programs and high-rated returning favorites.

“Building on its record-breaking momentum, Discovery presents its 2013-2014 Upfront slate highlighted by major live events such as ‘Wallenda Live,’ significant history and natural history programs ‘Hidden Kingdom’ and ‘Survival,’ bold new series such as ‘Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius’ and favorite returning series that include ‘Deadliest Catch,’ ‘Gold Rush,’ ‘Amish Mafia’ and ‘Moonshiners,’” the network announced. “Awe-inspiring adventures to daring destinations coupled with unprecedented access and a range of compelling characters continues into 2014 as Discovery readies its first-ever scripted miniseries, ‘Klondike,’ featuring Academy Award nominee Tim Roth, Tim Blake Nelson, Abbie Cornish, Richard Madden, Augustus Prew, Ian Hart and Johnnie Simons.”

Other new programs include “Backyard Oil,” “Cutter Oil” (working title), “The Huntsmen,” “Naked and Afraid,” “Naked Castaway” and “Rock Raiders.”

Click here to see details about these programs and the rest of the slate.

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Report: 'Today' Show Host Is Exploring Other Options

One of the co-hosts of NBC’s "Today" show is exploring other job opportunities, according to a report by EW.com’s Inside TV, and it isn't Matt Lauer, who has been the subject of intense speculation about his future on the show.

It's Hoda Kotb, the co-host of the show's fourth hour, the piece reports. Kotb is quietly meeting with studios and exploring new hosting jobs, such on a daytime talk show, the story says.

"The moves could signal an upcoming exit from the NBC position that she’s held since 2007, or simply represent a savvy negotiation tactic -- Kotb’s contract with 'Today' expires this fall," the piece reports.

Kotb's fourth-hour co-host Kathie Lee Gifford is said to want to move the hour from New York to Los Angeles so she can be closer to her children, which has reportedly led to tension between the pair.

"Today" had no comment, the story notes.

hoda-kotb.jpgHoda Kotb

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'Game of Thrones' Star Says She's Broke

One of the stars of HBO’s wildly successful fantasy series “Game of Thrones” says she has less than $5 in her bank account. TMZ.com reports that actress Lena Headey, who plays the conniving Queen Cersei on "Thrones," says she’s counting on her tax refund to cover living expenses.

Headey made the statements about her financial situation in legal documents that were obtained by TMZ, the story says. She filed the documents in response to demands by her husband, Peter Loughran, for half of their $46,000 tax refund for 2011.

Headey filed for divorce from her husband last year, and is claiming she needs $6,000 from the refund right away because she's living on credit to survive, the story says. She expects to receive acting income in the future, the piece adds.

The judge denied her husband's emergency motion for half the money, while Headey's proposal -- which included giving $6,000 to Loughran -- also got tossed, the story adds.

Now in its third season, “Game of Thrones” is one of the most popular series on television, with HBO estimating that season two had an average gross audience of 11.6 million viewers.

lena-headey.jpgLena Headey

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Shain Gandee, 'Buckwild' and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Is MTV Star's Death a Teachable Moment?

The death of MTV reality star Shain Gandee has ratcheted up pressure on the cable channel to cancel what was already a controversial show, “Buckwild.” The Huffington Post notes that its short time on the air, the series has seen two of its stars arrested -- one on suspicion of DUI and another for allegedly trying to sell oxycodone and heroin -- and now has had a star, Gandee, killed while “mudding,” a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Critics argue the show uses the formula spawned by ‘Jersey Shore’ (whose absence in MTV’s lineup ‘Buckwild’ was meant to fill), feeding off and egging on the type of bad behavior stereotypical to the region it’s depicting,” the report notes. It adds: “Gandee’s death is already spurring online debates as to how tastelessly season two might go about handling it. Tasteless is sort of ‘Buckwild’s’ M.O.”

Politicians in West Virginia, where “Buckwild” is set, began expressing outrage over the show before it even made it to the air, saying it exploits negative images of the state. Other observers have focused on what can be learned from the death of Gandee and two other men in Gandee’s 1984 Ford Bronco.

The story reports: “Gordon Johnson, an attorney in Wisconsin who tracks cases of carbon monoxide poisoning nationwide, wondered in a blog post [Tuesday] if the freak accident might in fact turn ‘Buckwild’ into that unifying force: the source of ‘a teachable moment.’”

The piece explores the connection between the increasingly popular recreation of mudding -- which, according to its most basic definition, means driving through the mud -- and the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Open-air all terrain vehicles, or ATVs, are the most notoriously dangerous rides of choice, but in rare cases -- as in Gandee's -- trucks and other enclosed vehicles can become deadly too,” the story reports. “This can happen if the exhaust pipe gets clogged, in which case, the rule to live by, quite literally, is that bigger is better. Full on obstruction stops the engine from burning altogether, an infinitely safer outcome. Partial clogs result in burning that’s often not clean enough for the delicate operation of producing carbon dioxide emissions. The result is carbon monoxide, an invisible gas that behaves like oxygen upon entering the body, heading straight for the blood stream where it proceeds to suck out oxygen as it would if pumped into a fire.

“Snow, not mud, is typically the culprit. This winter, the city of Boston issued a warning about carbon monoxide after two people, including one child, died in snow-clogged cars, and two others passed out.”

Whatever role alcohol may have played in the incident is expected to become a focus after toxicology reports are released. In the meantime, suffice to point out that Gandee reportedly left a bar around 3 a.m. Sunday after announcing plans to go mudding.

Citing an interview with Johnson, Huffington Post notes about carbon monoxide: “The gas takes ‘minutes, not moments’ to extinguish oxygen from the bloodstream. One might assume the feeling of getting woozy would prompt a person to open a window, or stop revving their car, before it’s too late. But as Johnson points out, that would not be the case after a blizzard: ‘Why do people keep their car running and their windows up when they’re stuck? Because they’re cold.’”

The piece advises: “Never gun a car longer than a minute. ‘If you can't get it to move after 30 seconds, you won't be able to move it,’ Johnson reasoned. Also, probably a good idea to keep your windows open even during those 30 seconds. (Though there was a case last year in Maine of three people dying in a poisoned vehicle despite opening their windows, that nightmarish scenario is rare.)”

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Shain Gandee

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Reality Producers Come Up With a Subject That Hasn't Been Done Yet

With dozens of shows about and targeted toward younger people, the ID Channel is working on a show called “Elder Skelter,” about senior citizens who commit crimes, reports the New York Post.

The true-crime show is about senior citizens who commit "cold, calculated crimes," the story says. The show will be hosted by three seniors, including 93-year-old lona Royce Smithkin, who still sings in cabarets.

“The other hosts are Joyce Carpati, 80, who worked for 27 years at Cosmopolitan and was a lifelong friend of Helen Gurley Brown, and Lynn Dell Chohen, also 80, who owns the Upper West Side’s Off-Broadway Boutique," the story reports.

"We’re always looking at virtually all aspects of crime,” ID President Henry Schleiff said. “Some we do with a little more tongue in cheek, which is kind of where this one comes in.”

None of the hosts are criminals or victims, but were recruited from photos in a fashion blog about stylish senior citizens, the story says.

Production will start later this spring. It wasn't yet known which crimes will be featured, the story says.

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ABC's 'Happy Endings' May Find a Way to Avoid a Sad Ending for the Series

ABC's "Happy Endings" may find itself avoiding a tragic ending even if the network decides to cancel it, because the leading studio behind the show is talking with other networks about picking it up, reports Deadline.com.

The possibilities include USA Network and NBC, with USA expressing interest in picking it up if the show is canceled.

That would help USA build up its half-hour comedies, after the cable channel has ordered several pilots but hasn't yet greenlighted one, the piece points out.

USA has wanted to find an original comedy to pair with its off-network run of "Modern Family," and "Happy Endings" would fit especially well given that the two shows were paired together for two seasons on ABC, the story says.


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New Programming and Graphics in the Forecast for Weather Channel

The Weather Channel is planning a big programming change this year, adding to its morning and daytime programs and its entertainment programming, reports TVNewser.

"Aside from the programming, the biggest change viewers will see is the graphics packages, which are being redesigned to be consistent across all of the Weather Company platforms, including Weather.com and the Weather app,” the story reports. “The new TV graphics bear a striking resemblance to the graphics found on the website and app. Local weather and information will always be on-screen, at least in the morning, when so many viewers tune in to the channel."

In prime time, where the network has been seeking to gain viewers, the Weather Channel will target the "weather enthusiast."

Said Weather Company CEO David Kenny: “The weather enthusiasts are 50 million strong, they are not a small group, they are really curious, they are really engaged, they over-index on weather … because they do stuff, and it helps them do stuff.”

New original series include "Secrets of the Earth," which will explore corners of the globe such as "canyons of gravity that warp space and time," and "Storm Warriors," which will look at how people survive extreme weather environments.

“Secrets of the Earth” is set to premiere May 23, with “Storm Warriors” due in August.

Also on tap: “Weather That Changed the World” (premiering June 6), “Strangest Weather on Earth” (September) and “Freaks of Nature” (September).

The following short-format Web series, which only have working titles at this point, are coming to weather.com: “Brink” (launching June 3), “The Bucket List” (July 1) and “The Explorers” (Aug. 5).

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Wonderful, Highly Recognizable Character Actor Who Was in Movies and Scores of TV Shows, From 'The West Wing' to 'The Golden Girls' and 'Frasier,' Dies at 86

He played a Supreme Court justice on "The West Wing," and tried to make Barbarella die of pleasure. He memorably played a minister on "Cheers" who could only marry Woody and his girlfriend if he was drunk.

Milo O'Shea, who was nominated for two Tony Awards but never an Emmy or an Oscar, has died at age 86, The New York Times reports. The cause was complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

The Times describes O'Shea as "an Irish character actor -- recognizable by his black bushy eyebrows, tumble of white hair and impish smile."

milo O'shea.jpg

O'Shea's first Tony nomination came in 1968. According to The Times, the play was called "Staircase." In the play O'Shea "and Eli Wallach played gay, middle-aged hairdressers in a relationship not much different from many troubled heterosexual marriages. The play, while not commercially successful, came to be regarded as one of the first serious depictions of homosexuality on Broadway."

The Times adds, "In 1981, on Broadway, [O'Shea] played a duplicitous, charming, Mercedes-driving priest in 'Mass Appeal,' receiving his second Tony nomination."

In an episode of "Frasier" he famously played a couples therapist helping Frasier and his brother.

The Times reports that O'Shea "is survived by his wife, Kitty Sullivan; his sons, Colm and Steven; and three grandchildren."

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15 New Episodes of 'Arrested Development' Set for Release Next Month

Netflix will debut 15 new episodes of the fan favorite "Arrested Development" next month. The Los Angeles Times reports that the release has been scheduled for Sunday, May 26.

The show first aired on Fox from 2003-2006 and was a cult hit but never rose to a viewership level that could ensure its survival beyond that point. The show has gained fans in the years since through Netflix and DVDs, the story notes.

With the new episodes going online on May 26, fans will have two days to binge view the episodes, given that the following day is Memorial Day.

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'It Will Revolutionize TV Forever' Says Analyst, Who Reveals Truly Eye-Popping Details of New Apple TV Set. He Insists It Will Be Out Later This Year

Analyst Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets "believes that Apple will launch a full-blown television set in the later part of 2013 that promises to 'revolutionize the TV experience forever,' " reports Apple Insider.

The article says White "believes the 'iTV' will come with a 'mini iTV' screen that will allow users to view content on a smaller 9.7-inch display -- the same diagonal screen size as a full-size iPad. He believes this secondary display could also be used for home security, phone calls, video conferencing and more.

The piece quotes White writing: "Essentially, we believe the 'mini iTV' screens will be able to capture content from the 60-inch 'iTV' across a distance of up to 200 meters, allowing a user to view 'iTV' content in the kitchen, washroom, garage, bedroom, backyard, etc. We believe Apple will offer one 'mini iTV' per 'iTV,' but package options will include up to four screens (i.e., one screen is part of the standard package and pay extra for each additional.)"

The report adds: "While this smaller screen will be of a similar shape to the iPad, it will have limited functionality and will not serve as an iPad replacement, the analyst said."

Apple Insider said White claims his information comes from "visits with Apple suppliers."

Besides the mini iTV, the article says White believes the new iTV will also come with an iRing that owners of the TV will use. "The 'iRing' accessory described by White is a new concept that has not been previously detailed in other reports," Apple Insider notes. "[White's] visits with Apple suppliers suggested the ring will act as a 'navigation pointer' for the television, and will allow the TV set to enhance motion detection and replace some of the functionality found in a remote."

The article notes that White also speculates that the Apple iTV will range in size from 50 inches to 60 inches and cost somewhere between $1,500 and $2,000.

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Cinemax Orders Drama Focused on Contract Killer

Cinemax is moving forward with a project based on a series of novels about a contract killer. Deadline.com reports that the pay-cable channel ordered a pilot for "Quarry," a drama based on a novel series by Max Allan Collins.

The project is about a Marine sniper who returns from Vietnam in 1973 and finds himself demonized by the public. He's recruited into a network of contract killers.

Collins also wrote the graphic novel “Road to Perdition.” The pilot is being written by Graham Gordy and Michael D. Fuller, according to the report.

The story adds: “John Hillcoat is set to direct the pilot, co-produced by Anonymous Content. Hillcoat, Gordy and Fuller, all Anonymous clients, executive produce with Anonymous’ Steve Golin, David Kanter, Matt DeRoss and Keith Redmon.”

The order comes after Cinemax renewed its freshman drama "Banshee," the piece notes.


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Syfy Orders Series Based on 'Mind-Bending' Japanese Reality Competition

Syfy has ordered a reality show based on a Japanese series that features contestants trying to escape from "four mind-bending and seemingly diabolical rooms," reports Deadline.com. The Syfy project, "Exit," is based on Japan’s "Dero!"

The winning team has to escape before time runs out, with the team required to solve puzzles to get out of the four rooms, the story says. The show joins Syfy's other reality shows, including "Face Off," "Ghost Hunters" and "Total Blackout."

Syfy has ordered six episodes, with the program scheduled to premiere June 4 at 10 p.m. It will be hosted by Curt Doussett.

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HLN Unveils Plans for Live Telecast of Daytime Emmys

HLN and the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences took the wraps off plans for the upcoming 40th Annual Daytime Entertainment Awards. The program will air live from Los Angeles on HLN on Sunday, June 16.

The ceremony will celebrate daytime programming in popular genres including talk, food shows, children’s programming, courtroom shows, game shows and daytime dramas. The telecast, originating live from the Beverly Hilton, is scheduled to air from 8-10 p.m. ET/PT.

Said Scot Safon, executive VP and general manager of HLN: “Last year, HLN’s first-ever presentation of the Daytime Emmy Awards was the No. 1 most-watched, regularly scheduled non-news broadcast in the network’s history, and received terrific viewer feedback both on-air and online. Our audiences thanked us for tapping into that vital part of American pop culture. HLN is the news channel that focuses on stories at the forefront of the American conversation, and daytime programming often tackles those same themes and stories.”

Iconic game show host Monty Hall and veteran producer Bob Stewart will be honored this year with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Click here to see the press release from HLN.

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USA Sets Summer Premiere Dates

USA Network has set the summer premiere dates for several of its popular shows, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

"Burn Notice" will return June 6, followed by the debut of "Graceland," a new drama that's focused on undercover agents from several agencies living together.

"Royal Pains" and "Necessary Roughness" will return June 12, while "Covert Affairs" and "Suits" will premiere July 16.

A new reality show called "Summer Camp" will debut in July.

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OWN Programming Coming to the UK

Certain programming from the Oprah Winfrey Network will soon be available to be seen in the United Kingdom on a regular basis, OWN has announced.

Here's the press release:

(Los Angeles, CA and Silver Spring, MD) – OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network and Discovery Networks International (DNI) today announced they have partnered to launch an OWN programming block in the United Kingdom. The multi-year deal will include programming from popular OWN series: OPRAH’S NEXT CHAPTER, OPRAH’S MASTER CLASS, OPRAH’S LIFECLASS, and SUPER SOUL SUNDAY. The programming block marks a drive to bring broad based general entertainment content to TLC and bring OWN content to DNI’s female flagship channels in future. The block will premiere on the soon-to-launch TLC in the UK, and additional launches for the months ahead are currently being explored.

“We are so proud to build on the great success that we have had airing OPRAH’S NEXT CHAPTER with Lance Armstrong and Justin Bieber,ˇ said Luis Silberwasser, Executive Vice President & Chief Content Officer, DNI. “This is the next phase in showcasing the content that is like no other, the kind that only Oprah and her team at OWN can deliver. This is a real win for DNI, OWN, and most importantly, our viewers with the stars and celebrities that are featured across OWN programming. We are delighted to premiere this block in the UK on TLC at its launch.ˇ

“OWN’s success in the U.S. has afforded us this opportunity to expand our programming internationally reaching Oprah’s dedicated fans around the world,ˇ said Erik Logan, president, OWN. “We are seeing great demand for our series as we continue to build our worldwide audience. We’re thrilled to be able to continue the network's momentum with this international expansion.ˇ

OWN will continue its partnership with Passion Distribution to distribute other OWN programming internationally.

About the programs:

OPRAH’S NEXT CHAPTER: Viewers join Oprah for in-depth interviews with some of today’s biggest newsmakers and celebrities. The series has delivered some of the network’s highest ratings reaching millions of viewers worldwide.

OPRAH’S MASTER CLASS: Oprah uncovers the successes, failures and lessons of some of the most brilliant and famous people of our time, including Jay-Z, Simon Cowell, Diane Sawyer, Lorne Michaels, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, Sidney Poitier, Dr. Maya Angelou — and even Oprah Winfrey herself.

OPRAH’S LIFECLASS: Taking the role of a teacher alongside handpicked experts, Oprah highlights the lessons and principles that guide her life.

SUPER SOUL SUNDAY: The multi-award winning series inspires viewers to become the best they can be and find a deep connection to the surrounding world. During this inspiring block of programming, Oprah sits down with top thinkers, visionaries and authors to discuss themes of happiness, spirituality and personal fulfillment. Notable guests include Elie Wiesel, Wayne Dyer, Gary Zukav, Debbie Ford, Marianne Williamson and Ram Dass.

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Tribune Broadcasting CEO Leaves Company

The president and chief executive officer of Tribune Broadcasting has left the company. Chicagoland Radio and Media reports that Nils Larsen ended his roles not only with Tribune Broadcasting but also with the Tribune Company as a whole. He was executive VP and chief investment officer for Tribune Company.

“Larsen's exit was confirmed to CRM by a spokesperson for Tribune Company today, but no official statement will be made on the exit,” the story reports. “Larsen is a longtime business associate and friend of former Tribune Chairman/owner Sam Zell. It was ‘financial whiz kid’ Nils Larsen, along with Randy Michaels, who had helped Zell gain a huge profit on his investments in Ohio radio company Jacor Communications in 1999.”

Larsen has been with Tribune since December 2008, and has overseen Tribune Company's business development for Zell.

“In December 2009, Larsen was made the Chief Investment Officer for Tribune Company. After controversial Tribune Company CEO Randy Michaels was forced out in October 2010, Larsen was one of four executives named to run the company, adding the title of Tribune Broadcasting Chairman,” the story reports. “In May 2011, Nils Larsen was named as the President and CEO of Tribune Broadcasting Company, despite never having worked a single day in his life in any broadcasting field.”

The piece adds: “Most in the industry knew that Larsen was never put in the Tribune Broadcasting role to advance the company's broadcasting division, but rather to have him watch carefully over the finances of the division while it struggled to exit bankruptcy for years. Tribune Company finally exited bankruptcy on December 31st.”

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ABC Series Does a Belly Flop in the Ratings

ABC’s celebrity diving competition “Splash” fell to an all-time low Tuesday night in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the show delivered a series-low 1.4 average rating in the demo, dropping 18% from last week.

NBC’s “The Voice,” meanwhile, was headed in the opposite direction. The singing competition came through with a 4.3 in viewers 18-49, ticking up 5% from last week and helping NBC coast to an overall win for the night in the demo.

CBS aired mostly reruns and settled for a fifth-place finish for the night.

Leading out from “The Voice,” NBC’s “The New Normal” delivered a 1.9 in 18-49, matching the performance of “Go On” last week in the time slot. That was followed by the season finale of “The New Normal,” which managed only a 1.4 -- but that was an improvement of 8% from last week.

NBC’s “Smash” finished third in the 10 p.m. slot with a 0.9 average in adults 18-49, slipping 10% from a week ago.

CBS’s only original program was “Golden Boy,” which finished second at 10 p.m. with a 1.3 average in the 18-49 demo, off 7% from last week.

ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” improved on its “Splash” lead-in, but its 2.2 average in 18-49 was down 8% from last week. “Body of Proof” won 10 p.m. with a 1.5, even as it slipped 6%.

Fox had a 1.9 in viewers 18-49 for “Hell’s Kitchen,” down 5% from a week earlier, and a 1.4 for “The Mindy Project,” down 7%.

For prime time overall, NBC won the 18-49 demo with a 2.3 average rating, followed by ABC (1.7 average), Fox (1.6), Univision (1.6) and CBS (1.4). CBS won total viewers with an average of 9.5 million, leading ABC (9.3 million), NBC (7.0 million), Univision (3.8 million) and Fox (3.7 million).

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MSNBC Names Host for New Weekend Show

MSNBC continues to tweak its lineup, focusing in particular on weekends. B&C reports that the cable channel has named political analyst Karen Finney, a familiar talking head on MSNBC since 2009, as the host of a new weekend program.

Finney will host a Saturday and Sunday hour that will air from 4-5 p.m. ET. Her show’s name and premiere date are still to be determined.

The show will lead into Ed Schultz’s “The Ed Show,” which left prime time weeknights for Saturdays and Sundays, and will be televised from 5-7 p.m. ET.

In a statement, MSNBC President Phil Griffin said, "Karen's rich background in both education policy and politics will add a unique point of view to our expanding live weekend programming."

Finney is a former spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee and has worked on four presidential campaigns. She worked in Bill Clinton’s White House and was on board for Hillary Clinton's first New York Senate race.


Karen Finney

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Executive Behind 'High School Musical' Exits Cable Channel

Michael Healy, the Disney Channel executive who shepherded hits including "High School Musical," is leaving his role as senior vice president of original movies to pursue other opportunities, reports Deadline.com.

As Deadline notes, the "High School Musical" original movie and its sequel "crossed over into features and into virtually every facet of the Disney company to become a billion-dollar worldwide franchise."

Other movies Healy developed include "Camp Rock" and "Wizards of Waverly Place the Movie."

With his departure, the network's original movie department will be restructured. Healy first joined Disney Channel in 1997 as vice president of original movies.

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Disney Channel Renews Comedy Series

The Disney Channel announced a renewal for a comedy series. TVLine reports that the cable channel will bring back the series "Austin & Ally" for a third season.

The new season will track Austin's music career as it takes off and as Ally's begins to gain traction, the story reports.

In a statement, Adam Bonnett, senior vice president, original programming, Disney Channels Worldwide, said: "This ensemble cast -- Ross Lynch, Laura Marano, Raini Rodriguez and Calum Worthy -- has incredible comedic chemistry and charm that continues to win audiences over.”

Production on the third season will start in July for an October debut, the report notes.

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Cult Film Director Dead at 82

A director known for cult films including “Vampyros Lesbos” and “Venus in Furs” has died. Deadline.com reports that Spanish director Jess Franco died Tuesday after a stroke. He was 82.

“Born Jesus Franco Manera, he made his feature directing debut with 1959′s ‘We Are 18 Years Old’ and opened his cult classic ‘The Awful Dr. Orlof’ stateside in 1961,” the story reports. “His erotic horror films of the 1970s and 1980s sealed his reputation as an exploitation cinema icon.”

The report adds: “Franco worked frequently with actress Soledad Miranda (‘Eugénie de Sade,’ ‘Vampyros Lesbos,’ ‘She Killed In Ecstasy,’ ‘The Devil Came From Akasava’) before her death in 1970, as well as Christopher Lee (‘Count Dracula,’ ‘The Blood Of Fu Manchu,’ ‘The Bloody Judge’) and protege/wife Lina Romay (‘Female Vampire,’ ‘Barbed Wire Dolls,’ ‘Jack The Ripper’).”

The director remained active throughout his life. His final film, “Al Pereira Vs The Alligator Women,” opened in Spain in March.

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In a Decision That 'Will Haunt Me for the Rest of My Life,' One of the Celebrities on 'Splash' Quits the ABC Diving Show

One of the celebrity contestants on “Splash,” the ABC reality competition where participants try to dive from a high platform, has left the show. USA Today reports that former Playboy Playmate Kendra Wilkinson walked off because she was unable to overcome her fear.

“She walked all the way up. She looked cute in her suit. And then she freaked. When it came time to dive, Kendra Wilkinson couldn't do it,” the story reports. “On Tuesday's ‘Splash,’ the reality show star helped out her teammates by walking back down from the 23-foot platform, tears in her eyes. That was the only water she was touching.”

Wilkinson said: "I'm so sorry, everybody. It's bittersweet. One thing I don't do is quit. This is the first time in my life I've quit something. This will haunt me for the rest of my life."

“Kendra was paired with extreme skier Rory Bushfield, who had been advised by doctors not to compete after he ruptured an eardrum in practice,” the report notes. “She has been open about having a serious fear of heights.”

Wilkinson has commented about her problems with heights: "I start spinning, I start wanting to throw up, I'm shaking, my fingers wiggle.”

After Tuesday’s show, she tweeted: "Damn I got a lot of hate tonight but ill take it. Big mistake signing up for the show. Sorry I let you all down."

Here’s a clip:

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Roger Ebert Announces He's Scaling Back on Work as He Continues His Cancer Fight

Popular film critic and television personality Roger Ebert has been forced to take what he calls a “leave of presence” -- not quite a leave of absence -- from his writing career because of the debilitating effects of his battle with cancer, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. In a note to his readers in his blog on the newspaper’s website, Ebert wrote:

“Last year, I wrote the most of my career, including 306 movie reviews, a blog post or two a week, and assorted other articles. I must slow down now, which is why I'm taking what I like to call ‘a leave of presence.’”

Ebert assured his fans that he is not going to disappear. He would, however, be turning over some duties to “a talented team of writers handpicked and greatly admired by me. What's more, I'll be able at last to do what I've always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review.”

The veteran critic added: “The immediate reason for my ‘leave of presence’ is my health. The ‘painful fracture’ that made it difficult for me to walk has recently been revealed to be a cancer. It is being treated with radiation, which has made it impossible for me to attend as many movies as I used to.”

Ebert also unveiled plans for a new and improved Rogerebert.com website.

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Skydance Productions Launches TV Division, Names Veteran Fox Exec as President

Skydance Productions announced the creation of a new television division, Skydance TV, which launches May 1. The company named former Fox executive Marcy Ross as president of the new division.

In a statement, David Ellison, president and CEO of Skydance Productions, said: “During her tenure at Fox, Marcy has developed and produced some of the best shows on television that have entertained audiences around the world. We are thrilled to welcome her into the Skydance family to help pioneer our entrance into this wonderful medium of storytelling.”

Commenting in the company announcement, Ross said: "When I met David and the Skydance team, I knew I had found the creative partner I was looking for. I am so impressed with the success that David, Dana Goldberg and Paul Schwake are achieving in the feature film side and I trust that once we open our doors wide to the television community, we will find the same success building a fun, nurturing place to create programming.”

Ross previously served as executive vice president of current programming for Fox Broadcasting Company, overseeing a lineup of shows including “Glee,” “House,” “The Simpsons,” “New Girl” and “Family Guy.” She previously served as senior vice president, comedy programming, for Studios USA.


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Prince to Make Rare TV Appearance -- With Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars and Other Top Artists Also on the Bill

An upcoming television program will feature a lineup of top music stars, including a rare TV appearance by Prince. The occasion is the 2013 Billboard Music Awards, which will air live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Sunday, May 19, on ABC.

“In addition to delivering multiple unforgettable performances, the awards show will also honor Billboard chart topper and world-renowned music legend Prince with the Billboard Icon Award, highlighting his unique journey and history of groundbreaking accomplishments in music during the broadcast, which is to be executive-produced by Don Mischer,” ABC announced.

Taylor Swift, Miguel, Justin Bieber and Bruno Mars have been announced as performers. Additional performers and presenters are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

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TBS Shuts Down Production on Comedy Series After Actor Is Injured

Production has been shut down on a TBS comedy series after an injury to its star. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel has shut down production of “Sullivan & Son,” with the shutdown expected to last six weeks.

The move comes after actor Steve Byrne, who plays the title character, Steve Sullivan, received an injury to his face. The report cites sources saying Byrne had his jaw broken “by an irate cabbie” and is expected to have it wired shut for six weeks.

TBS and producer Warner Horizon weren't available for comment on the incident. The show was in production on its second season.

“Production on ‘Sullivan & Son’ will resume in June, with the show still expected to make the the delivery date for a summer premiere,” the report notes.

steve-byrne.pngSteve Byrne


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Major Hollywood Studio Quietly Starts Its Own Streaming Service Featuring Old Movies and TV Shows

A major Hollywood studio has "quietly launched" its own streaming service featuring older library product. "According to the website, it enables subscribers who pay $9.99 a month opportunities to watch what the company calls 'rare and hard-to-find' content," writes our good friend David Lieberman at Deadline.com.

The studio is Warner Bros. and the service carries the awkward name Warner Archive Instant.

Currently there are only 113 movies and 5 TV series available on the service.

The TV series are "Jericho," "The Adventures of Superman," "Cheyenne," "Hawaiian Eye" and "77 Sunset Strip."

Some of the movies include "The Bad Seed," "Cat People," "A Face in the Crowd" (which is an excellent movie about TV) and, from 1926, Lillian Gish in "The Scarlet Letter." Of this last rarity the late movie critic Pauline Kael once said that Gish's performance in it "is one of the most beautifully sustained performances in screen history -- mercurial, delicate, passionate."

Currently the service is only available for computers (though it's not compatible with Internet Explorer 7) and through Roku. And only through Roku can subscribers currently see the service in HD.

The library product shown on Warner Archive Instant will be culled from movies and TV shows originally produced by "Warner Bros., MGM, RKO, New Line, Monogram, Allied Artists, Lorimar and more," acording to the website.

The website also has these questions and answers:

Is this any different from the other streaming services?

Aside from having TV shows and movies that are hard to find elsewhere -- including many titles from the Warner Archive Collection -- we will offer extra, enhanced content as well as our special "Showcase" sections.

What is the "Showcase"?

Our special Showcase section features a monthly festival-style list of streaming movie marathons. They're carefully curated selections of motion pictures and/or TV programming built around a common theme or interest. It's like having a repertory theater in your living room!

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CNN Continues to Stumble Through Its Makeover, With Another New Show Tanking in Ratings; at a Rival Cable News Channel, Meanwhile, Things Are Looking Up

Jeff Zucker’s retooled CNN lineup is beginning to take shape at the cable network, and so far the ratings results have been less than encouraging.

The CNN panel show "(Get to) the Point" debuted Monday night, giving the network its lowest 10 p.m. ratings for the year, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Meanwhile, MSNBC also debuted a new show Monday, as Chris Hayes' "All In" drew 859,000 total viewers in its 8 p.m. time slot. Among viewers 25-54, the show attracted 298,000 people, more than "The Ed Show," its predecessor, which averaged 205,000 viewers in the demographic during the first quarter, the story says.

CNN’s "(Get to) the Point" debuted on less than one day's notice, drawing 278,000 total viewers and 80,000 in the 25-54 demographic. Both are lows for the time slot this year, the piece notes.

It's the second new series under CNN Worldwide President Zucker, with the launch billed as a weeklong project, the story adds. The cable network debuted “The Lead with Jake Tapper” last month, with that show also delivering disappointing numbers, as previously reported.


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It's Official: Here's NBC's Announcement of When Fallon Takes Over for Leno and 'The Tonight Show' Moves Back to New York

Here’s NBC’s official announcement of forthcoming changes on “The Tonight Show”:

Jay Leno, longtime host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” announced today that he will wrap up what will be 22 years of headlining the iconic late-night show in Spring 2014. NBC also announced today that Jimmy Fallon, now host of NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” will transition into new hosting duties on “The Tonight Show” franchise after Leno concludes his successful run.

As part of the transition, “The Tonight Show” will be returning to its original home in 30 Rock in New York and will be executive-produced by Emmy Award winner Lorne Michaels (“Saturday Night Live,” “30 Rock”). Programming plans for the 12:35 a.m. (ET) time period currently are in development and will be announced soon.

Said Leno: “Congratulations Jimmy. I hope you’re as lucky as me and hold on to the job until you’re the old guy. If you need me, I’ll be at the garage.” 

Said Fallon: “I’m really excited to host a show that starts today instead of tomorrow.”

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'SNL' Cast Member Lands Another Project -- Will This Mean She's Off the Show?

A cast member on "Saturday Night Live" has landed another TV project, raising the possibility that she will leave the NBC late-night sketch comedy show.

“SNL’s” Nasim Pedrad has been cast in an untitled NBC comedy pilot from comic John Mulaney and producer Lorne Michaels, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

On the pilot, Pedrad will play a smart but lacking-in-direction grade school teacher. The project also stars Martin Short, an "SNL" alum himself, and Elliott Gould.

If the project receives a series order, Pedrad will leave "SNL," where she has worked since 2009. She's known for celebrity impersonations on the show.

nasim-pedrad2.jpgNasim Pedrad

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Cause of 'Buckwild' Star's Death Determined

Officials have determined the cause of death for 21-year-old Shain Gandee, a star of the MTV reality series “Buckwild.” Gandee and two other men were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which cites the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office.

The West Virginia resident was found dead in his 1984 Ford Bronco along with his uncle and a third person on a country road. Some had speculated that the car's tailpipe was submerged in mud, creating an exhaust backup that killed the three men, as previously reported.

The sheriff's office said the deaths were accidental.

Gandee's family said that family members believe he died peacefully without pain or suffering, the story notes.

Thumbnail image for shain-gandee2.jpg

Shain Gandee


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Netflix Announcement Forces SEC to Change Law and Get With the 21st Century

An announcement that Netflix made last July on its Facebook page has forced the Securities and Exchange Commission to change one of its regulations, reports Forbes.

According to the report, the brouhaha "stems from when Netflix CEO Reed Hastings last July posted on his personal Facebook that, for the first time in company history, viewers had consumed 1 billion hours in a month." The announcment was credited with causing movement in Netflix's stock price. Thus, Forbes says, "The SEC then sent a Wells Notice to Netflix -- a signal a company is being investigated and could face charges -- but since concluded it didn’t need to punish Netflix."

After further thinking about the incident, Forbes reports, the SEC has announced that companies can "announce news through social media, provided investors know to expect it, regulators said this afternoon. The clarification updates existing wording, Regulation Fair Disclosure, that sanctioned corporate websites as an appropriate means to distribute information. The update will probably force links to corporate Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts to quickly appear prominently on investor-relations pages. Else businesses with tweet-happy executives could soon run afoul of regulators."

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Report: Fallon Closes Deal for 'Tonight Show'

Jimmy Fallon has reportedly closed a deal to take over NBC's "The Tonight Show," according to The Hollywood Reporter. The timing for the transition remains unclear while NBC considers how to handle the handover from Jay Leno, the report notes.

The decision has been expected since reports surfaced last month that NBC was preparing to replace current host Leno, 62.

Separately, The New York Times reports that Fallon has extended his contract with the network, with the inclusion that he will succeed Leno at some point. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, although his current contract would have ended in 2015.

According to The Reporter, "NBC has refused to confirm the succession, instead letting Leno and Fallon, 38, tease audiences with jokes about the situation." Earlier this week the network aired a musical number featuring Leno and Fallon singing about the transition, which we posted here.

The THR piece continues: "Still not clear is when exactly Fallon will take over 'Tonight.' THR’s source says some NBC execs want to launch Fallon’s New York-based 'Tonight' in February during [the] network's high-rated Winter Olympics coverage, but producer Lorne Michaels is said to prefer to give Fallon a little more time. Plus, NBC would owe Leno a significant penalty if it took him off the air before his contract expires."


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Study: Education Level Corresponds With the Amount of Morning TV That Viewers Watch

A new study from Nielsen found that in homes where the head of household had at least four years of college, families watched less morning TV than in homes headed by people with only a high school education, reports the Los Angeles Times.

In more educated homes, families watch an average of 48 minutes of morning TV. Homes with less educated heads of households watch an hour and 16 minutes of morning TV.

The study found a similar trend for late-night TV, with more educated homes watching a nightly average of 52 minutes of TV. Less educated households spent one hour and 13 minutes, on average, watching late-night TV.

"Overall, the report shows that higher education and income levels were correlated with less TV usage, particularly at the early and late parts of the day," Nielsen said.


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Jane Henson, Widow of Jim Henson and a Partner in the Muppets, Dies at 78

Jane Henson, who helped create, design and market the Muppets, has died, reports the Los Angeles Times. She was 78.

Henson met her husband, Jim Henson, in a puppetry class at the University of Maryland in the 1950s, with Henson later asking her to join him on a TV show called "Sam and Friends, which combined marionettes and puppets. The pair married in 1959.

Jane Henson became his creative and business partner in the franchise that created such memorable puppet characters as Miss Piggy, Kermit and Gonzo, and was involved in "Sesame Street" characters such as Cookie Monster and Bert and Ernie.

She also served on the board of the Jim Henson Foundation. Her husband died in 1990.

jane-henson.pngJane Henson

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Report: More Than 1 Million Pay-TV Customers Canceled Service Last Year

With options such as Netflix and Hulu available to consumers, about 1.08 million pay-television customers canceled their service last year, reports Bloomberg, citing a report from Convergence Consulting Group.

That means the total number of consumers to have cut their service from cable and satellite operators has reached 3.74 million since 2008, the story says. This year, the total will reach 4.7 million.

Still, the percentage of people canceling service last year was only 1.1% of all pay-TV accounts. But that's slowing growth in pay-TV subscriptions, with the industry only forecast to add 98,000 accounts this year.

“Even with the ‘cord-nevers’ it’s still going to be a pay-TV dominated universe for a long time,” said Brahm Eiley, president of Convergence Consulting.

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Cable Network CEO's Pay Package Goes From $52 Million to $49.9 Million. Does That Really Constitute a Pay Cut?

The CEO of a major cable programmer has taken what's being described as a pay cut, but it sounds as though he should be able to get by. 

Discovery Communications Chief Executive David Zaslav saw his compensation dip a little in 2012, Jon Lafayette reports in B&C. Zaslav earned $49.9 million last year, down from $52.4 million in 2011, the story reports.

Zaslav's salary rose slightly, to $3 million last year from $2.961 million in 2011. He received $25.3 million in stock awards, a bump from $20.3 million, and received $5.3 million in non-equity incentive plan compensation, up from $4.8 million in 2011.

The reductions came from his option awards, which were $15.8 million last year, down from $23.8 million in 2011.


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Apple May Debut New iPhone This Summer

Apple will start production on a new iPhone in the second quarter, preparing for a potential summer debut, reports The Wall Street Journal. The new model is similar to the current one, the report notes.

Apple also continues to work on a less expensive iPhone that could be rolled out in the second half of 2013, the story adds.

"The four-inch device likely will use a different casing from the higher-end iPhone. Apple has been working on different color shells for the phone but its plans remain unclear," The Journal notes.

The report adds: "The two devices reflect new pressures on Apple. The Cupertino, Calif., company has long commanded unique premiums for the iPhone, but consumer demand for cheaper products is spiking.”

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Dominant Night in the Ratings for NBC, Even as Drama Series Sinks to Record Low

NBC cruised to a big ratings win in the key 18-49 demo Monday night, even as a key NBC drama series hit a new low. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the Peacock’s two-hour “The Voice” turned in a dominant 4.6 average, based on Nielsen overnights -- easily the top show of the night, even though it slipped 4% from last week’s premiere.

The bad news for NBC came from “Revolution,” which lost 12% from a week ago to a 2.3 average in 18-49 -- the lowest number for the series to date.

With CBS airing all repeats -- and finishing fifth for prime time overall in viewers 18-49 -- NBC was the runaway leader with a 3.9 average for prime time, followed by ABC (2.2 average), Fox (2.1), Univision (1.5) and CBS (1.2). ABC came out on top in total viewers with 13.1 million, ahead of NBC (10.9 million), Fox (6.7 million), CBS (4.8 million) and Univision (3.7 million).

ABC’s two-hour “Dancing with the Stars” equaled its all-time low with a 2.1 average in the 18-49 demo, losing 13% from last week. “Castle” was up 5% with a 2.2.

Fox’s “The Following” also set a series low, delivering a 2.2 -- 4% off the pace from last week. “Bones” ticked up 5% to a 2.0.

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Gay TV Actress Tops the List of Most Appealing Actors Among Faith-Based Audiences

A TV actress who is openly gay is No. 1 on a new list of the actors with the greatest appeal to faith-based audiences. Reuters reports that "Criminal Minds" star Kirsten Vangsness topped the list of TV actors.

Among movie stars, Sandra Bullock came out on top.

“Vangsness, 40, who plays fun-loving FBI technical analyst Penelope Garcia on the CBS show ‘Criminal Minds,’ is openly gay and announced her engagement to her longtime girlfriend in 2009,” the story reports. “Actors on the popular crime shows ‘NCIS’ and ‘CSI’ also fared well in the 2013 rankings of the most appealing celebrities by survey respondents who said they attend regular services at their house of worship.”

The survey results were released by E-Poll Market Research, and were based on a survey of 1,100 Americans age 13 and older who ranked more than 40 celebrity attributes.

“James Earl Jones, Sean Connery and Morgan Freeman, who has played God or God-like figures several times, rounded out the top four movie stars,” Reuters reports.

Among TV actors, "NCIS" actress Cote de Pablo placed second, with "Hot in Cleveland" actress Betty White and "NCIS" stars Sean Murray and Pauley Perrette rounding out the top five.

The report adds: “Connery, Taraji P. Henson, Amy Adams, Dwayne Johnson and Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus Christ in the 2004 film ‘The Passion of the Christ,’ are all more popular with faith-based audiences than among the general U.S. population, the poll found.”

kirsten-vangsness.jpgKirsten Vangsness

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Bravo Rolls Out Record-Breaking Slate of 35 Original Series

Bravo announced a record-breaking lineup of 35 original series, expanding its fleet of unscripted “docu-soaps” and reality series while embarking on its first venture into scripted programming, USA Today reports.

The cable channel, which continues to see strong results for its “Real Housewives” franchise, renewed 18 existing shows and ordered another 17 new programs, set to bow within the next year.

Among the new shows, the piece reports, are “Newlyweds: The First Year” (premiering May 6), “which follows four couples over the course of a year, starting with their wedding day (the honeymoons don't often last long)”; “Divorce Diva,” profiling attorney Vikki Ziegler; and “Extreme Guide to Parenting,” which examines sometimes questionable parenting methods.

The report adds: “In more typical Bravo fashion, several new shows are patterned after ‘Real Housewives,’ without the housewife part. Among them (with dates if announced): ‘Below Deck,’ due this summer, concerns crew members on a luxury yacht; ‘City Sisters’ (fall) are single, ‘up-and-coming movers and shakers’ in New York; ‘Eat, Drink, Love’ (summer) revolves around Los Angeles women in the restaurant industry.”

Other new shows include “Southern Charm,” set in plantation society around Charleston, S.C.,; “Taking Atlanta” (summer); “100 Days of Summer,” set in Chicago; “Two Fit Girls,” about fitness entrepreneurs; “Ladies of London”; and “Princesses: Long Island.”

Also coming down the pipe: “The Kandi Factory,” “Courtney Loves Dallas,” “Fashion Queens,” “Property Envy” and “Thicker Than Water: The Tankards.”

“’Real Housewives of Orange County’ returned last weekend, ‘Atlanta’ just wrapped its biggest season yet and Bravo also announced new seasons of the ‘New Jersey’ edition (due June 2), along with those in Beverly Hills, Atlanta, Miami and New York,” the report adds. “Other renewals include ‘Flipping Out,’ ‘Tabatha Takes Over,’ ‘Million Dollar Listing,’ ‘Shahs of Sunset’ and ‘Vanderpump Rules.’”

One scripted pilot, “Rita,” with Anna Gunn of “Breaking Bad,” will be shot next week, the story reports.

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Where Can You Tune In to Watch Amy Poehler, Matthew Perry, Jason Bateman, Martin Short, Maya Rudolph and a Bunch of Other Stars? They'll All Be Appearing on a New TV Show

An upcoming series has lined up a roster of top television actors and other celebrities. Deadline.com reports that more than a dozen actors have signed on for the upcoming NBC game series “Hollywood Game Night.”

The show is produced by Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner and hosted by Jane Lynch. The show “features celebrities hanging out and playing games with fun-loving non-celebrity contestants in a cocktail party atmosphere,” the story reports.

“Set to do the series so far are Amy Poehler, Matthew Perry, Jason Bateman, Kristin Bell and fiance Dax Shephard, Maya Rudolph, Fred Armisen, Minnie Driver, Kal Penn, Martin Short, Ellie Kemper, Kristen Chenoweth, Cheryl Hines, Molly Shannon and Max Greenfield, with more expected to join,” the piece reports.

NBC has placed an order for eight episodes of the series, which is based on Hayes’ real-life “game nights.”

The report notes: “In each episode, two contestants will be treated to a night of fun and celebration where they get to rub shoulders with the celebrity crowd. At the end, one of the contestants will walk away with a cash prize and a night of stories and memories.”

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No Surprise Here: 'Game of Thrones' Renewed by HBO

In a move that would have been a shock if it hadn’t happened, HBO has renewed the hit fantasy series "Game of Thrones" for a fourth season, TheWrap.com reports.

“The series premiered its third season on Sunday, hitting a series high of 4.4 million total viewers, inching out the Season 2 finale last year, which was the series' previous season high,” the story reports. “The Season 3 premiere was also up 13 percent over last season's premiere.”

The season premiere attracted a total of 6.7 million viewers across three airings Sunday.

The report notes that people who don’t pay for HBO are also watching “Thrones.” The piece reports: “The Season 3 premiere attracted the largest BitTorrent swarm on record, with more than 320,000 users sharing the episode in one way or another. That number more than doubled the most previous BitTorrent swarm record, which was held by the Season 3 premiere of NBC's ‘Heroes.’"

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MTV Suspends Production of 'Buckwild' After Death of Cast Member; Possible Explanation Surfaces for Three Deaths

After the death of a cast member, MTV has suspended production of its reality show "Buckwild," reports The New York Times.

As previously reported, the body of Shain Gandee, 21, was found dead along with his uncle, David Gandee, and a third person on Monday.

The third body was identified late Monday as Donald Robert Myers, 27, a resident of the Sissonville, W.Va., area, according to Fox News. Officials said their 1984 Ford Bronco had its muffler below the surface and mud covered the car's passenger side.

It's possible the cabin of the car could have filled with carbon monoxide from the exhaust, if the muffler were submerged and the engine running, the story notes.

MTV executives declined to comment on the record about whether the show would continue, The Times says. The current season, which only started production a little more than a week ago, has been suspended indefinitely, the story reports.

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'Today' Executive Producer on Why Matt Lauer Remains on the NBC Morning Show

"Today" executive producer Don Nash spoke out about the Matt Lauer situation, saying the staff of the NBC morning show isn't divided on whether Lauer should stay. Nash told TV Guide, "This staff loves Matt."

Nash also relayed feedback from a focus group of female morning-show viewers in which the viewers were asked what might make them stop watching “Today.” Said Nash: "Every one of them said, 'If Matt Lauer were to leave.' Their opinions didn't square with what we had been reading in the papers and on websites."

Nash added that he thinks the show's ratings "could be much worse without him."

Nash’s comments reflect other comments from NBC executives about Lauer's job being secure, although there are reports that the network has reached out to possible replacements, including CNN anchor Anderson Cooper. Lauer's contract ends in 2014.

"We hope Matt stays forever," Nash said, "but you're always looking for talent because you want the person to grow into the job and you want some time to groom them."


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Donald Trump Drops Lawsuit Against Bill Maher

Donald Trump has dropped the $5 million lawsuit he lodged against Bill Maher for allegedly calling him part orangutan, reports TMZ.

Trump sued Maher in February, claiming Maher skipped out on a promise to donate $5 million to charity if Trump could prove he wasn't related to an orangutan. Maher’s comments followed Trump's offer to donate $5 million in a challenge to President Obama's birth certificate.

Trump had replied to Maher by providing a copy of his birth certificate, and claimed that Maher should pay up.

Trump filed documents March 29 to dismiss the case, although Trump's special counsel said the reason was to amend the lawsuit and refile it later, the story says.


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Amid Allegations About Death on France's 'Survivor' Series, Doctor Commits Suicide

There’s been a second death related to the French television version of “Survivor,” TF1’s “Koh-Lanta,” reports Deadline.com. A doctor who had worked on the program, Dr. Thierry Costa, committed suicide.

His death comes about a week after contestant Gerald Babin suffered a heart attack during the shooting of the first episode of the season.

Production had already been shut down on “Koh-Lanta” and the season canceled. Costa left a suicide note, which he asked be made public. In it, Costa wrote that he had treated Babin “as a patient and not a contestant.” Nevertheless, he wrote that he was distraught by “false accusations and assumptions” in the media.

Deadline report: “Last Friday, ‘Koh-Lanta’ producer Adventure Line Productions, a subsidiary of Zodiak media, said it would sue for defamation after information from an anonymous source, which called into question the on-site response of the production team and the doctor, was published by French media. A manslaughter inquiry has been opened into Babin’s death. ‘Koh-Lanta’ started airing in 2001 and is one of leading network TF1′s flagship series, drawing an average of 7.4M viewers.”

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CBS Sports Chairman Defends Handling of Kevin Ware's Gruesome Injury

CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus says he doesn't regret banning replays of Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware’s gruesome leg injury, and he's fine with people watching it on the Internet, reports the Associated Press.

CBS aired two replays on Sunday showing Ware's gruesome broken leg, although the replays didn't include the sight of blood or bone, the story says. Ware’s tibia bone was said to be protruding from his skin. The player reportedly had successful surgery later Sunday to repair his leg.

"I've seen statistics on the millions of views this piece of footage has had on YouTube and I have no problem with that," McManus said. "In today's world, if you want to see a piece of video instantaneously that you just saw on television, there are a million ways to do that."

He added, "If people want to go watch the footage for whatever reason, they have a right to do so. I just didn't think we had any obligation to be the facilitator of putting that footage back on the screen. We documented it, we described it and we showed it, and I think that was enough."

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FX Has Vietnam War Series in the Pipeline With Oscar Winner Exec Producing

FX has a Vietnam War series in development, with an Oscar winner as executive producer. Deadline.com reports that Stephen Gaghan is exec producing “They Marched Into Sunlight,” a six-part limited series.

The project, from Fox 21 and FX Productions, is based on the bestselling book from Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss. The project looks at the Vietnam War from the perspective of both the battlefield and in the U.S., focusing on two events in 1967: a student protest in the U.S. against the makers of Napalm, and an ambush in the Vietnam jungles.

Gaghan won the Academy Award for writing the screenplay for "Traffic."

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CW Rolls Out Summer Premiere Dates, Including Three New Series

The CW has taken the wraps off its schedule of summer premieres, including a lineup of new programs and a new season of “Breaking Pointe,” EW.com's Inside TV reports.

Here’s the schedule:

Tuesday, July 16
8-8:30 p.m.: Whose Line Is It Anyway? (series premiere)
9-9:30 p.m.: Perfect Score (series premiere)

Monday, July 29
9-10 p.m.: Breaking Pointe (season premiere)

Wednesday, July 31
9-10 p.m.: The Hunt (series premiere)

The following descriptions were also provided for the new shows:

“Whose Line is it Anyway?” will be hosted by Aisha Tyler and will also feature the return of cast members Ryan Stiles, Wayne Brady and Colin Mochrie, who along with a special guest each episode must put their comedic skills to the test through a series of spontaneous improv games, prompted only by random ideas supplied by the studio audience.

“Perfect Score,” hosted by Arielle Kebbel (The Vampire Diaries), puts a unique twist on dating game shows by not only giving players a chance to win a date, but also the opportunity to win cold hard cash -- IF they can successfully identify their perfect match. In each half-hour episode, two friends compete to see who can pick their ideal mate from a group of 12 prospective singles, after both the players and the contestants have taken compatibility tests. These tests are used to assign cash values to each possible match, and the player who selects the most compatible single -- with the highest cash value -- wins the cash prize and the date.

“The Hunt” is a new wilderness competition featuring 12 teams of 2 who will enter “The Arena,” a fenced-in enclosure in the middle of the wild, where they must live for one month and compete against each other for scarce resources. With $250,000 on the line, it’s a winner-take-all battle in which the teams must hunt each other down to survive.

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CNN Latino Expands Syndicated Block Into New York and Three Other Cities

CNN Latino, the cable network's Spanish-language programming service, has sold its eight-hour syndicated block to TV stations in cities including New York and Phoenix, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The service launched in January on KBEH-DT Channel 63 in Los Angeles, and it was initially limited to distribution in that city, the country's biggest Latino market.

But by adding four cities, including Orlando and Tampa, the programming block is now available in about one-quarter of the country's Latino market.

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Conan O'Brien Extends Deal With TBS Through 2015

Conan O'Brien will remain with TBS until November 2015 after extending his contract with the cable network, reports Bill Carter in The New York Times.

Carter writes, "While his old network, NBC, is in the midst of the latest late-night upheaval, trying to smooth a transition from Jay Leno to Jimmy Fallon at 'The Tonight Show,' TBS is promoting Mr. O’Brien’s success with young viewers. The network notes that his audience has the youngest median age in late-night television, 39.7 for this television season. By contrast, Mr. Leno’s is 58.1 and Mr. Fallon’s is 53.3."

TBS also said O'Brien's show leads late-night entertainment with online viewers, with 8.3 million Twitter followers and 2 million Facebook fans.

Carter points out, "Because TBS has yet to have a real star in prime time -- virtually all its success is based on reruns of sitcoms like 'The Big Bang Theory' -- Mr. O’Brien has become the standout individual face of the network. So it is all the more important for TBS to lock Mr. O’Brien in for another two-plus years."

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Netflix Adds Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and TNT Content

Netflix announced the addition this week of content from Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and TNT. Beginning Monday, April 1, the online streaming service now has complete past seasons of Cartoon Network shows including “Adventure Time,” “Ben 10,” “Regular Show,” “Johnny Bravo” and Warner Bros. Animation's “Green Lantern.”

Adult Swim programs including “Robot Chicken,” “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” Sony Pictures Television's “The Boondocks” and the Emmy-winning “Children’s Hospital” from WBTVG's Studio 2.0 have also been added to the offerings.

The TNT series “Dallas” from Warner Horizon Television is also now available, the company announced.

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What's Barbara Walters Saying About Her Retirement? Not Much

Despite reports last week that Barbara Walters is retiring, she gave a long non-answer on ABC's "The View" about her future, reports TVNewser.

"I have no announcements to make," she said. “Nothing is going on. Even though our programs have been original, they have been taped, so we have not commented. There were many reports last week saying that I was retiring from ABC, and there was an assumption that I would be making an announcement today."

She continued, "However, here I am, and I have no announcements to make [ applause ]. But I do want to say this, that if and when I might have an announcement to make, I would do it on this program, I promise, and the paparazzi guys, you will be the last to know.”

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HBO Developing Project Based on First Person to Walk Around the Globe

HBO Films is working on an adaptation of the book "The Man Who Walked Around the World," which is about David Kunst's feat of becoming the first person to circumnavigate the globe by foot, reports Deadline.com.

After the Apollo moon landing, Kunst and his brother John started their world tour from Minnesota in June 1970. More than four years later, Kunst returned to Minnesota -- without his brother, who was killed by bandits in Afghanistan in 1972, the story says.

Kunst was later joined by his other brother, Pete, and the two finished the tour together.

Robert Connolly of "Underground: The Julian Assange Story," is on board to write and direct.

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Cable Ratings Soared on Sunday Night, Which Used to Be a Broadcast Stronghold

Ratings for programs shown on cable TV soared this past Sunday night. Sunday used to be a stronghold of broadcast TV.

To begin, the History channel announced: "The much anticipated finale of History's 'The Bible' on Sunday March 31st from 8-10 p.m. ET/PT drew blockbuster ratings for the network with 11.7 million total viewers; 4.6 million Adults 25-54 and 3.8 million Adults 18-49. This is up +14% among total viewers, +18% among A25-54 and +12% among A18-49 vs. last week.

"In addition, head to head, the 9-10 p.m. portion of 'The  Bible' edged out the 9-10 p.m. portion of [AMC's] 'The Walking Dead' (12.33 Million total viewers vs. 'Walking Dead' with 12.29). During the 9-10 p.m. hour 'The Bible' focused on The Resurrection."

Noted B&C: "The third season finale of AMC's 'The Walking Dead' drew a series-best 12.4 million viewers Sunday at 9 p.m., just ahead of this year's midseason premiere in February (12.3 million),"

B&C added, "That was also 38% higher than last year's finale (9 million). The third-season ender also drew a series-high with 8.1 million adults 18-49, up 5% over the midseason premiere and up 35% over last year in that demo. The series' season average of 7.03 million adults 18-49 is also No. 1 for the broadcast season among all networks, season-to-date.

In a separate story B&C also noted that "HBO returned 'Game of Thrones' Sunday night for its third season to a series-best 4.4 million viewers for its 9 p.m. premiere.

"That was up 13% over last year's premiere (3.9 million) and also 4% higher than where the show left off (4.2 million). Across three plays, 'Game of Thrones' drew a series-high 6.7 million viewers, up 7% vs. last year's 6.3 million."

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Reality TV Star, 21, Found Dead With Two Others

A young star of a controversial reality show was found dead this morning with two other people, according to media reports. The body of Shain Gandee, 21, one of the stars of the MTV reality show “Buckwild,” was found along with his uncle, David Gandee, 48, and an unidentified third person.

“Buckwild” has been the subject of controversy, as previously reported, with West Virginians upset about what they call its inaccurate characterization of the state’s young people as wild and reckless. The show was renewed in February by MTV for a second season.

Details were scarce, but Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department officials said the three bodies were discovered in a vehicle in Sissonville, W.Va., reportedly at the end of a long dirt road. Shain Gandee was last heard from around 3 a.m. Sunday when he and David Gandee apparently told people in a bar that they were going four-wheeling.

Officials also reportedly said no foul play was suspected.

MTV said in a statement: "We are shocked and saddened by the terrible news about Shain Gandee, and those involved in this tragic incident. We are waiting for more information but at this time, our main concern is for the Gandee family and their friends."

The statement adds: "Our thoughts and prayers are with them. Shain had a magnetic personality, with a passion for life that touched everyone he met, and we will miss him dearly."

Relatives had reportedly been searching for the men since early Sunday morning and had reported them missing Sunday.

shain-gandee2.jpgShain Gandee

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How Low Can They Go? Slow Sunday for Broadcast Nets

With CBS’s Sunday viewership measurement tweaked by its live coverage of the “March Madness” NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship, the Tiffany Network cruised to an apparent easy win in the ratings. As for the other broadcast networks, it was a slow night.

Fox aired all repeats and settled for a 1.1 average rating in the key 18-49 demo for prime time overall, TVbytheNumbers.com reports, based on Nielsen overnights. ABC’s mix of repeats and originals fared even worse, averaging a 0.9. NBC’s only fresh program was “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice,” and the network came in with a 1.3 for prime time, good for second place behind CBS.

CBS had a preliminary 2.5 average in viewers 18-49, winning the night. But its start times are offset throughout prime time due to overrun from the basketball coverage, and the CBS numbers will be subject to considerable adjustments.

Preliminary numbers for the networks for prime time in total viewers show CBS with 10.7 million, followed by NBC with 4.6 million, ABC with 3.6 million and Fox with 2.5 million.

ABC’s rebroadcast of the holiday special “It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown” delivered a 0.6 in 18-49, down 57% from its airing in 2010. “Revenge” fell 17% from last week to a 1.5, and “Red Widow” equaled its all-time low with a 1.0.

NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice” led the 10 p.m. hour with a 1.4, down 13% from last week.

CBS notched a preliminary 4.2 in the 18-49 demo for the 7 p.m. hour, when it aired a combination of basketball and “60 Minutes.” Numbers for subsequent hours were 2.4 at 8 p.m. (“60 Minutes”/”Amazing Race”), 1.9 at 9 p.m. (“Amazing Race”/”The Good Wife”) and 1.3 at 10 p.m. (“Good Wife”/”The Mentalist”).

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'March Madness' Viewership Surges

Coverage of the “March Madness” NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament saw a surge in viewers over the weekend. CBS Communications Group announced that Turner Sports and CBS Sports coverage of Sunday’s regional finals was up 25% from a year ago, delivering an average overnight household rating/share of 8.0/19 vs. last year’s 6.4/13, according to Nielsen figures.

Sunday’s first telecast window (2:15-4:30 PM, ET), in which Michigan beat Florida to advance to the Final Four, delivered a 6.2/16, up 17% from a 5.3/12 in 2012.

The second telecast window (5:00-7:30 PM, ET), which featured Louisville over Duke, scored a 9.4/21, up 21% from a 7.8/15 in 2012. This game was marked by graphic images of an injury to Louisville player Kevin Ware, as we reported previously. Ware, who broke his leg in the incident, is reportedly recovering after surgery.

For the tournament-to-date, averages in the metered markets are 6.7/14, up 8% from 6.2/13 in 2012.

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Wow: Federal Appeals Court Backs Barry Diller's Aereo in Dispute With Local TV Stations

A federal appeals court today issued a key ruling in the Aereo case, rejecting an appeal by television station owners of an earlier ruling that enabled the startup to stream local TV networks via its website and app, reports USA Today.

"The decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York City, affirms an earlier ruling that Aereo doesn't violate the broadcasters' copyrights in airing programs over the Internet from its farm of mini-antennas in Brooklyn," the story reports.

The article adds: "Two groups of plaintiffs -- network station owners -- sued Aereo last year in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, asking for an injunction barring the company from transmitting programs because it lacks the proper license. The district court denied the motion, concluding that Aereo customers are streaming content through their own antenna."

Aereo plans to introduce its service to 22 markets this year.

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CBS News Veteran Jumps to ABC News

ABC News announced today that it has hired a veteran of CBS News as an anchor and chief national correspondent. ABC News chief Ben Sherwood made the announcement that the network hired Byron Pitts, The Huffington Post reports.

Pitts is expected to begin his new job in a few weeks.

“Pitts has been with CBS News for more than a decade, the story reports. “He is a correspondent for the ‘CBS Evening News’ and appears regularly on ‘60 Minutes.’ He is well-known for his 2009 memoir, in which he detailed how he was illiterate until the age of 12. With Pitts' departure, ‘60 Minutes’ is left with an all-white broadcasting lineup.”

Sherwood wrote in the announcement: "An accomplished reporter and brilliant storyteller, Byron has a unique talent for stories about people and communities facing the longest odds.”

The announcement comes on the heels of news that “CBS This Morning” Saturday anchor Rebecca Jarvis is leaving the network, as previously reported. Jarvis is also thought to be headed to ABC News.


Byron Pitts

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Video: Basketball Analyst's Race-Oriented Remark Sets Off Firestorm

CBS basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb, described as the only non-African-American sitting on the network's panel analyzing its Sweet 16 coverage, set off a Twitter firestorm over the weekend when he said he was there to offer "a white man's perspective," reports TheWrap.com.

"I'm just here to bring diversity to the set, give the kind of white man's perspective," he said to his four co-panelists. His comment was received with "awkward laughter," the story notes.

Twitter followers said the joke was inappropriate, and Gottlieb apologized. "It was not a smart thing to say and I apologize," he said, according to the story.

He got some defense from panelist Charles Barkley, who said, "He made a joke earlier tonight and people are going crazy. All those idiots on Twitter, which I would never ever do, all you people at home who've got no life and are talking bad about Doug Gottlieb, get a life. It's over with. It's no big deal."

Here's the video:

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Lohan Adds Stipulation to Plea Agreement, Says She Can't Get By Without a Particular Drug

Lindsay Lohan’s recent plea agreement, designed to send the actress to rehab, now has a string attached. The actress added a stipulation to the deal she made in the case against her for reportedly lying to authorities, TMZ.com reports.

Citing sources close to Lohan, the website reports that Lohan insisted on the stipulation that she be allowed to continue taking the prescription drug Adderall. Adderall, which contains amphetamine, is a stimulant used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.

The sources cited in the report indicated Lohan has been taking Adderall daily for years and believes she needs it to enable her to function.

“We're told Lindsay was steadfast -- either attach Adderall to the deal or she'd take her chances at trial,” the story reports. “Sources say Lindsay's lawyer, Mark Heller, assured her he could find a lockdown rehab facility that would accommodate her demand.”

However, the story says it may not be possible to find a suitable facility. “Fact is, there's no such thing as a lockdown rehab facility that would take Lindsay, much less allow her to take the drug,” TMZ reports. “It's pretty ironic ... when Lindsay was jailed back in 2010, she got a doctor to prescribe Adderall while she was behind bars ... even though her ADHD diagnosis was called into serious question.”

Some people close to Lohan cite the Adderall as a reason for her problems, the piece notes.

lindsay-lohan-brazil.jpgLindsay Lohan


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Bueller? After Three Years, CBS Finds Its Star for New Comedy

CBS is bringing aboard "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" star Matthew Broderick to star in a new project. Deadline.com reports that Broderick will star in an untitled Tad Quill comedy pilot, marking a rare television role for the actor.

The pilot, directed by James Burrows, is about Jack -- Broderick's character -- who is raising his 12-year-old son after becoming recently widowed. He's also trying to start dating again.

CBS first developed the project three years ago, but put it on hold because of trouble finding the right actor for the lead character, the story notes.

Broderick was hired after a "lengthy courtship," the story adds. He's involved in theater, and is familiar on CBS through his regular presence at the Tony Awards. He also guest-starred recently on ABC’s "Modern Family" and NBC’s "30 Rock."


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Well-Known Playboy Playmate, Wife of TV Producer, Dead at 70

Christa Speck, one of the best-known Playboy Playmates of the 1960s, has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Speck, who was the wife of television producer Marty Krofft, died March 22 at her home in Los Angeles of natural causes. She was 70.

Speck, a native of Germany, was working for Bank of America as a bank secretary when Playboy discovered her, naming her Playmate of the Month in September 1961 and Playmate of the Year in 1962. She became the first foreign-born model to receive the title, the piece adds.

Her centerfold was seen in the 1978 film "Animal House," and she was picked as one of the 10 favorite Playmates from the magazine's first decade by its editors and readers.

In 1965, Speck married Krofft, who became a major producer of children’s television programming. Krofft partnered with his brother Sid Krofft on a series of programs such as “H.R. Pufnstuf,” “Lidsville” and “Land of the Lost.”

christa-speck.jpgChrista Speck

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NBC Show About Cannibal Has Famed Chef as 'Food Consultant'

An upcoming NBC drama about a cannibal has hired a famous chef as a “food consultant.” The New York Post reports that "Hannibal," based on the cannibal villain Hannibal Lecter, tapped Spanish chef Jose Andres for the job.

The show is about a criminal profiler named Will Graham, played by Hugh Dancy, who is hired by the FBI to track down a killer. Unknown to Graham, the expert psychiatrist they hire -- Hannibal Lecter -- is really the murderer.

Lecter charms the law-enforcement officials with fine food and wine -- which is where the chef comes in to advise the show, the story says. Andres says his native cuisine includes some body parts, such as lungs and kidneys, that Americans don't commonly eat.

On “Hannibal,” the cops who are wined and dined by Lecter don’t realize they’re being served human body parts.

NBC will post Andres’ recipes online after each episode, the piece says.

Jose-Andres.jpgJose Andres

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CBS Anchor Announces Departure From Network

A CBS News personality who has been with the network for three years announced on the air that she is leaving CBS.

On "CBS This Morning," Rebecca Jarvis said she's leaving the network, where she has anchored the Saturday edition of the show and has worked as a financial correspondent, reports TVNewser.com. She's reportedly moving on to ABC News, according to the story.

Before joining CBS three years ago, Jarvis worked at CNBC for four years. Previously, she competed on NBC’s "The Apprentice" and was a runner-up.

Jarvis appeared with co-anchor Anthony Mason to announce her departure, saying: “Anthony, it’s been a real pleasure and a treat and gift sitting next to you. You’re one of a kind. You’ve been so great. And to everybody who sits out here, you’re wonderful. Thank you for all of your hard work. Thank you to all of the producers and thanks to you, the viewers.”

CBS isn't ready to name a new co-anchor for the Saturday edition of "CBS This Morning," the piece adds.

Rebecca-Jarvis.jpgRebecca Jarvis

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AMC Unveils New Logo, Tag Line -- No More 'Story Matters Here' ... What's Behind the Change?

AMC has replaced its familiar “Story Matters Here” tag line after four years, unveiling its new logo and tag line over the weekend, Ad Week reports.

“As AMC prepares to transition from the zombie hordes of post-apocalyptic Georgia to the emotionally stunted suits of late-'60s Madison Avenue, the network on Sunday night made a somewhat less abrupt shift in its on-air branding,” the story reports. “In a five-second bumper that aired immediately before the 9 p.m. EDT Season 3 finale of ‘The Walking Dead,’ AMC took the wraps off a new logo and tag line. ‘AMC: Something More’ replaces the four-year-old ‘Story Matters Here,’ which was adopted as the network looked to herald itself as a home for original scripted fare.”

The move reflects the rapid evolution of the channel into a respected venue for original scripted programming, with the widespread acceptance of series including “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead.”

“Whereas ‘Story Matters Here’ was designed to bridge AMC’s drama series and its movie library, ‘Something More’ is meant to speak to the network’s promise to deliver shows that defy expectations,” the piece reports.

Said Linda Schupack, AMC executive VP of marketing: "'Something More' speaks to the idea that we’re going to go a little deeper and we’re going to take a twist where you don’t necessarily expect it.”

She added: "The idea is that we are 'Something Innovative,' ‘Something Engaging,’ ‘Something Immersive.’ All of which then rolls up to ‘Something More.’ Because the thing about this brand is, we are eclectic, we are not just one thing."

The piece notes: “If the switch isn't as profound as that of four years ago, it’s because the AMC of 2013 is now an established brand. In a sense, the network no longer feels as if it needs to grab viewers by the lapels.”

Added Schupack: "It's not a repositioning of our brand. It’s all meant to reflect a new, refined expression of what we are."


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Disney Junior Expected to Dethrone Nick Jr.

Disney Junior, a year-old network aimed at children, is expected to surpass Nick Jr.'s ratings when Nielsen data for the new network is revealed for the first time on Tuesday, reports The New York Times.

That's despite the fact that Nick Jr. is available in 75 million homes, or 25% more homes than Disney Junior.

The article notes, "Disney now has the top three preschool cable programs, led by what appears to be a monster-size new hit, 'Sofia the First,' a cartoon that stars a pint-size princess and her zany animal friends.

"Although ad revenue is small -- Disney Junior accepts limited sponsorships; Nick Jr. allows advertising aimed at mothers, but only a bit -- the potential payoff in the toy aisle is huge."

Nick Jr.'s "Dora the Explorer," for example, contributes $1 billion each year in retail sales. Merchandise linked to Disney Junior shows is already growing, with Disney expecting $1.5 billion in sales during its current fiscal year.

Loyalty to Disney is also part of the plan, the story notes .

"Animated preschool shows also draw strong audiences in reruns, and some easy dubbing makes them a valuable overseas export,” the story reports. “Beyond all of this, the value of future brand loyalty is incalculable. Anne M. Sweeney, president of the Disney-ABC Television Group, has devised her fast-growing TV portfolio to retain children as they grow, just as Viacom tries to hook toddlers into the Nickelodeon family."

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'Glee' Star Enters Rehab While Series Is Still in Production

One of the stars of Fox’s "Glee" has entered rehab for substance addiction, while the series has two episodes left to tape for its current fourth season. Deadline.com reports that Cory Monteith, who plays Finn, has gone into rehab.

Taping will continue as scheduled, with the show set to explain his character’s absence, although the story doesn't say what the reason will be.

“Cory is a beloved member of the 'Glee' family and we fully support his decision to seek treatment,” “Glee” producer 20th Century Fox TV said in a statement. “Everyone at the show wishes him well and looks forward to his return.”

Monteith, 30, has been in rehab before, entering a program when he was 19, the story adds.

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Video: First Look at New CBS Series From Stephen King

CBS is getting ready for its upcoming drama series from Stephen King with the release of a new behind-the-scenes video for the series, “Under the Dome.”

The show, which examines the goings-on in a town that inexplicably finds itself trapped under a mysterious dome, is set to roll out in June.

Check it out here:

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PBS Adds Dessert to Its Menu of Martha Stewart Programming

PBS, which already televises “Martha Stewart’s Cooking School,” is adding to its lineup of programming from the domestic diva. The New York Times' Media Decoder reports that the service will air Stewart's dessert-oriented Hallmark Channel show "Martha Bakes."

PBS will broadcast reruns of "Martha Bakes" after its second season of "Cooking School," starting the first weekend in April, the story says. "Martha Bakes" previously aired for two seasons on Hallmark. “Cooking School” has been on PBS since last fall.

The deal comes after KitchenAid, which is a sponsor of "Martha Stewart's Cooking School," signed on as the exclusive sponsor of "Martha Bakes," the piece adds. Hallmark still has licensing rights to the second season of the show through late September, and reruns may also air there, the story says.

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TVBizwire | April 30, 2013

Video: ESPN Analyst Sparks Controversy With Comments on NBA Player's Coming Out

TVBizwire | April 30, 2013

Cable Drama Loses Executive Producer

TVBizwire | April 30, 2013

Alex Trebek Hopes He Will Be Hard to Replace as 'Jeopardy!' Host

TVBizwire | April 30, 2013

Starz May Order 'Outlander' Straight to Series

TVBizwire | April 30, 2013

Comedian Sarah Silverman to Follow in Footsteps of Wanda Sykes, Louis C.K.

TVBizwire | April 30, 2013

CNN Pushes Back Debut of New Show

TVBizwire | April 30, 2013

Lindsay Lohan Setting Up a Deal to Blog About Rehab

TVBizwire | April 30, 2013

Oscar Nominee Signs On for 'American Horror Story'

TVBizwire | April 29, 2013

Two ABC Series Sink to Historic Lows on a Rough Sunday for Broadcast Nets

TVBizwire | April 29, 2013

Aereo's Barry Diller Lashes Out at Rupert Murdoch

TVBizwire | April 29, 2013

Actor Who Made Transition From Big-League Baseball Dead at 54

TVBizwire | April 29, 2013

Spike TV Maps Return to Scripted Programs With Push Into Special-Event Series -- Slate Includes Benghazi Project and a Movie About the Mafia Takeover of the Music Business

TVBizwire | April 29, 2013

'Teen Mom' Star Signs Sex Tape Deal for Nearly $1 Million

TVBizwire | April 29, 2013

CBS Renews 'Two and a Half Men,' But One of Its Stars Won't be Back as a Regular

TVBizwire | April 29, 2013

One TV Series Is Racking Up Arrests Among Its Cast Members

TVBizwire | April 29, 2013

NBC Plans Retrospective for Canceled Series

TVBizwire | April 29, 2013

Former 'Today' Co-Host Defends Matt Lauer

TVBizwire | April 29, 2013

ABC Comedy in Trouble After Ratings Drop

TVBizwire | April 29, 2013

Why NBC's 'Community' May Survive Despite Anemic Ratings

TVBizwire | April 29, 2013

USA Network Shifts Underperforming Show to Fridays