May 2013

Fox Getting Upfront Price Increases; Where Do Things Stand With the Other Broadcast Nets?

The Fox broadcast network has wrapped up a sizable portion of its upfront ad sales, and it is reportedly getting price increases. B&C reports that the network is pulling in cost-per-thousand-viewers (CPM) hikes in the 5% to 7% range, according to sources close to the negotiations.

The sales come after a season in which Fox’s ratings fell 22% in the key 18-49 demo. Because of the lower ratings, the network’s upfront volume is expected to come in below last year’s $1.9 million -- which was already down from the previous year.

“Buyers said that most of the big agencies had gotten their deals done with Fox,” the story reports. “The network suffered a big ratings falloff on ‘American Idol,’ which lost its crown as the most watched primetime series. The buyers say Fox remains attractive because its audience skews relatively young, making it desirable to advertisers in businesses like movies, technology and quick-serve restaurants.”

Other networks continued to negotiate, with the story noting that only a few deals have been completed.

“ABC did some deals, with prices in the 7% to 8% range. But that handful of early deals might not yet be indicative of where ABC's price will land,” the piece notes.

The report adds: “CBS, the top-rated network last season among adults 18-49, is expecting upfront price increases in the double-digit range, CEO Les Moonves told investors earlier this month. The network appears to be waiting until buyers, who are paying smaller increases with its rivals, come up to its price.”

A CBS spokesperson said today via Twitter and email: "We are in active negotiations with major agencies across the industry. We look forward to another successful upfront where we are confident we will lead in both volume and pricing.”

B&C notes: “NBCUniversal was sticking to its strategy of trying to sell advertising packages that include its broadcast network, cable channels and online properties. Despite resistance to a high asking price for ‘Modern Family’ on USA Network, buyers at major agencies said they were negotiating with NBCU on a portfolio basis. NBCU did manage to complete some deals with mid-sized to smaller buyers comprised of broadcast, cable and digital, according to sources close to the negotiations.”

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Cable Channel Gets a New Name -- Again

A cable channel will have a new name come June 1 -- the third name for the channel, which has been around for eight years, AP reports.

The channel is GMC, which was knowns as Gospel Music Channel until it changed its name in connection with expanding its programming beyond music. Next, it will be known as UP.

Charles Humbard, the channel’s president and CEO, does not want the move to be thought of as a rebranding.

Said Humbard: "We're 'refacing' or renaming the network to be clear about what we really stand for as a brand. For us, the move to UP is a way to very succinctly say something that's always been."

AP adds: “The Atlanta-based channel's focus on ‘uplifting and faith-friendly entertainment’ will continue with an expansion of its mix of original movies, plays and series and reruns of network programs, said Brad Siegel, its vice chairman.”

The channel’s first reality series, "Family Addition With Leigh Anne Tuohy," is coming June 7. It will be followed by another reality show, "Bullock Family Ranch," in July.

“In its recent presentation to advertisers in New York, UP also announced seven new movies that include the holiday titles ‘Guess Who's Coming to Christmas,’ starring Drew Lachey, and ‘Silver Bells,’ with Bruce Boxleitner,” AP reports. “The programming schedule, which is bookended by the music video blocks ‘Uplifting Urban’ ‘Uplifting Pop’ and ‘Uplifting Country,’ includes repeats of dramas and sitcoms including ‘Touched by an Angel’ and ‘Moesha.’"

The channel is in about 62 million homes in the U.S., the report notes. The channel “did a road test of the new name and found significantly more people said they would watch UP over the alphabet-soup GMC,” the story adds.

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Ruling Forces Oprah Winfrey Back Into Court

An appeals court has dealt a setback to Oprah Winfrey. The Hollywood Reporter’s Hollywood, Esq., reports that Winfrey will have to defend herself in a trademark lawsuit against her after the ruling by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

“In 2010, the media queen was sued by a motivational entrepreneur named Simone Kelly-Brown who has held a trademark registration on ‘Own Your Power’ since 1996,” THR reports. “The woman claimed that The Oprah Magazine featured on its cover a photograph of Winfrey and the headline, ‘Own Your Power,’ held an ‘Own Your Power’ corporate-sponsored event in conjunction with a Power Issue, and promoted it on an episode of ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show.’”

The trademark suit was dismissed last year in federal court, with a judge ruling that “there could be no confusion about the source and that Winfrey had a fair use right to descriptively label her magazine,” the story reports. But the appeals court today vacated that ruling, reopening the case and setting up further court proceedings.

“In the opinion, Circuit Judge Chester Straub notes that to prevail on a fair use defense, a defendant like Winfrey has to show that the use was made other than as a mark, in a descriptive sense and in good faith,” THR reports. “On the first prong, the judge says that the plaintiff has sufficiently alleged that Oprah was attempting to make use of a trademark, particularly in the wide-ranging, varied and repeated way it used the catchphrase.”

The appellate judge wrote: "We thus conclude that Kelly-Brown has plausibly alleged that Oprah was attempting to build a new segment of her media empire around the theme or catchphrase 'Own Your Power,' beginning with the October Issue and expanding outward from there. Kelly-Brown’s complaint implies that Oprah is a brand and is therefore the ultimate source of all things related to that brand, but that defendants sought to use the phrase 'Own Your Power' to denote a particular line of services and content within the larger Oprah brand."

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'GMA' Celebrates Historic Achievement

ABC’s “Good Morning America” is celebrating an achievement it hasn’t pulled off in 19 years. The morning show won the May sweeps in the key news demo of adults 25-54 -- the first time it has pulled off that feat since May 1994.

“GMA” also won the sweeps period in total viewers, for the first time since May 1995.

The network announced that the show averaged 5.704 million total viewers and 2.102 million adults 25-54, based on figures from Nielsen Media Research. It’s main competitor, NBC’s “Today” show, averaged 4.783 million total viewers and 1.992 million adults 25-54.

Numbers for “GMA” were up from the May 2012 sweeps period, rising 10% in total viewers and 2% in adults 25-54.

“GMA’s” margin over “Today” in total viewers was 921,000, the show’s largest margin in more than 21 years. The margin in the news demo, 110,000, was its largest in 19 years.

“GMA” has now been on top in total viewers for nine consecutive months, the network reported.

The network noted: “In Adults 18-49, ‘GMA’ tied ‘Today’ for No. 1 in ratings (1.2/10), while trailing by only 4,000 adult 18-49 viewers (1.507 million vs. 1.512 million).”

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Thursday Ratings: Did One-Week Delay Sink Tornado-Themed 'Mike & Molly' Finale?

The third-season finale of CBS’s “Mike & Molly” made it to air a week late Thursday night after being delayed because of its tornado-themed content, and the result was the show’s lowest rating ever, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the show delivered a 1.8 average rating in viewers 18-49, losing 25% from its most recent episode. The originally scheduled airdate was changed in consideration of victims of last week’s Oklahoma tornado. As it turned out, the finale aired on a night when the rest of the CBS lineup consisted of repeat programming.

But it was a slow night for all the broadcast networks. Fox won the night with a 1.5 average in 18-49, while its “Hell’s Kitchen” tied with a repeat of CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” for top show of the night with 2.0 averages. Fox’s new show “Does Someone Have to Go?” managed only a 1.0, losing 23% from last week.

ABC squeezed a 1.1 out of “Wipeout” in the 18-49 demo, off 8% from last week, while “Motive” also lost 8%, settling for a 1.2. “Rookie Blue” matched last week’s 1.2 average.

On NBC, only the recently renewed “Hannibal” made it into single digits, coming through with a 1.0 in 18-49 to keep pace with last week’s number. “Save Me” held steady with the premiere with a 0.7 average for the first of two back-to-back episodes, slipping to a 0.6 for the second episode.

For prime time overall, Fox led the way in the 18-49 demo with a 1.5 average rating, followed by Univision (1.4), CBS (1.4), ABC (1.2) and NBC (0.8). CBS led total viewers with 6.9 million, ahead of ABC (5.3 million), Fox (3.8 million), Univision (3.4 million) and NBC (2.3 million).

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Two Judges Confirm They Are Leaving 'American Idol'

"American Idol" continued its housecleaning, with two more judges announcing they're leaving the program. They join judge Randy Jackson, who has previously confirmed that he's leaving the show.

Now the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey are headed out.

"Thank you American Idol for a life changing experience!” Minaj wrote on Twitter. “Wouldn’t trade it for the world! Time to focus on the Music!!! Mmmuuuaahhh!!!"

Carey also confirmed on Twitter that she's leaving the show. Reports had surfaced earlier this year that all four judges would be leaving after a season of declining ratings, as previously reported.

Fox said in a statement about Minaj’s departure, "Given her extremely busy career, we understand and respect her decision and wish her the best.”

There hasn't yet been word on the fate of Keith Urban, although the Times notes that "the writing is clearly on the wall."

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NBC Finally Decides Fate of Series That Was on the Bubble

"More than two weeks after its upfront presentation, NBC has decided the fate of its last remaining bubble series," reports Deadline.com.

The series, "Hannibal," will return for a 13-episode second season either midseason or later. The show tracks the serial killer Hannibal Lecter and is based on Thomas Harris' novel "Red Dragon."

"'Hannibal' got off to a solid ratings start and was in serious contention for an early renewal," the story reports. "The numbers eventually tapered off, and NBC put the renewal decision on hold. 'Hannibal' was well reviewed, and there [were] overtures from at least one cable network in case NBC passed on a second season. Additionally, Amazon, which carries repeats of the show, had expressed serious interest in taking it on. 'Hannibal,' from Gaumont International Television, is produced under a different model at a license fee that is a fraction of what dramas with similar production values cost."

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CNN Shutters Its Operation in a Country Whose Dramatic News Events Once Almost Singlehandedly Defined What CNN Was

CNN has quietly shut down one of its international bureaus, bringing an end to an era after having a bureau in the country since 1990. TVNewser reports that the cable channel closed its Baghdad bureau. CNN was the last U.S. television news organization to still have a real bureau in the city, according to the report.

In a statement, CNN said: “While CNN is departing its current brick-and-mortar location in Baghdad, the network continues to maintain an editorial presence in Iraq through a dedicated team of CNN stringers and correspondent assignments as news warrants.”

CNN's reporting from Baghdad at one time defined the great lengths the cable news network would go to in its efforts to bring international stories into our living rooms. "During the Gulf War Peter Arnett became a household name worldwide when he became the only reporter with live coverage directly from Baghdad," according to the well-documented Wikipedia entry about Arnett. "His dramatic reports were often given with air raid sirens blaring and the sound of U.S. bombs exploding on Baghdad in the background. Together with two other CNN journalists, Bernard Shaw and John Holliman, Arnett brought continuous coverage from Baghdad for the 16 initial intense hours of the war (17 January 1991). Although 40 foreign journalists were present at the Al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad at the time, only CNN possessed the means to communicate to the outside world. Soon the other journalists left Iraq, including the two CNN colleagues, which left Arnett as the sole reporter remaining there."

The bureau closure comes a month after the U.S. marked the 10th anniversary of the war in Iraq. Other channels have closed their bureaus in the past few years.

"The scaling back in Baghdad is emblematic of a broader scaling back among TV news organizations when it comes to foreign bureaus,” TVNewser reports. “Expensive offices filled with staffers that only produce a handful of stories a year are going away in favor of correspondents or anchors who fly to wherever the story is on short notice. There are also mini-bureaus consisting of one reporter who shoots and cuts their own pieces.”

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Oscar Winner Leaves Detox Center After Treatment for Heroin Abuse

An Academy Award-winning actor has checked out from a detox facility after receiving treatment for a substance abuse problem that reportedly included heroin. TMZ reports that Philip Seymour Hoffman is back at work after 10 days in treatment.

“Hoffman -- who struggled with substance abuse in the past but kicked the habit for 23 years -- fell off the wagon more than a year ago,” the story reports. “He tells TMZ it started slowly with prescription pills, and recently escalated to snorting heroin.”

Hoffman, who won an Oscar for his lead role in the 2005 movie “Capote,” reportedly checked out of the detox center last Friday. His rehab had not been reported.

The actor “tells us the heroin use only lasted a week or so and he quickly realized he needed help, so he checked himself into a detox facility on the East Coast,” TMZ reports. The story adds that a cleaned-up Hoffman is now working on a movie that will be set in Europe.

An MTV report adds: “In an interview with ‘60 Minutes’ in 2006, the actor opened up about his prior substance abuse issues, which began shortly after he graduated from New York University. ‘It was anything I could get my hands on. ... I liked it all,’ he said at the time. ‘I went [to rehab], I got sober when I was 22 years old. You get panicked ... and I got panicked for my life. It really was just that.’"

The MTV report notes that Hoffman has a number of upcoming projects, “including November's ‘Catching Fire,’ Anton Corbijn's ‘The Most Wanted Man’ and ‘God's Pocket,’ which is being helmed by ‘Mad Men’ star John Slattery.”

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Philip Seymour Hoffman

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Original 'Revenge' Actress Exits the Show

An actress who has appeared on the ABC drama “Revenge” since the pilot is leaving the series. Deadline.com’s Nellie Andreeva reports that British actress Ashley Madekwe is departing.

"Her option was not picked up due to what I hear were storyline reasons," Andreeva writes.

Madekwe’s character, Ashley Davenport, started off as a friend to Emily Thorne, played by Emily VanCamp, and then fell for the scheming Tyler and eventually slept with both Conrad Grayson and his son.

"By the end of Season 1, Ashley’s storyline played out, but the producers found a way to bring her back in a new role as Conrad’s assistant and then PR for his political campaign. With Conrad winning the election in the second-season finale, that story arc also came to a natural conclusion," the piece notes.

Madekwe is one of two regulars leaving the show as it prepares for its third season. The other is Connor Paolo, whose character Declan Porter died in the season finale.

ashley-madekwe.jpgAshley Madekwe

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'Breaking Bad' Creator Working on Spinoff

"Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan told Yahoo TV that a spinoff of the cult AMC show is "very much" a possibility. The spinoff would star Bob Odenkirk's character, the fast-talking attorney Saul Goodman.

"I mean, nothing [is] signed on the dotted line. Nothing's written in stone, but we are working away on it. My writer and producer, Peter Gould, who created the character of Saul way back in Season 2, he and I have been talking, trying to figure out what a Saul Goodman show would look like. What would be the details of it, the particulars of it? And we're getting together to hash that out every chance we get," Gilligan said.

He noted that they're trying to figure out whether the show should be a prequel or a sequel.

"But any story that at some point or another showed Saul at his peak, his abilities and his networking skills, would, I think, show the criminal underbelly of a fictional Albuquerque that really had Saul Goodman wired into pretty much the heart of it," he said.

The finale of "Breaking Bad" will air Aug. 11.

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Alec Baldwin Gets a TV Hosting Gig

"30 Rock" star Alec Baldwin has been tapped for a TV hosting job. EW.com's Inside TV reports that Baldwin was hired by National Geographic to host its "Night of Exploration" programming block.

Baldwin will host shows that look at the "spirit of exploration," such as "Crossing the Ice," a two-hour special that tracks two Australians as they try to journey from the shore of Antarctica to the South Pole and back without assistance. Other episodes will include "Mystery Bear of the Arctic" and "Secrets of the Lost Gold."

Baldwin will join as host June 14. The programming block started airing in January.

Click here for additional details about Nat Geo’s upcoming programming released this week.

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Netflix CEO: 'Arrested Development' Has Been 'Huge' -- So What Will It Take for a Fifth Season?

Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings told CNBC that the fourth season of "Arrested Development" has "been huge, just as we had hoped," but declined to release any viewing numbers, reports The Wall Street Journal.

"The reason we’re not doing ratings is because we really want to focus over the first year,” Hastings said. “Netflix is about being able to watch when you want, not having to watch at a certain time like linear TV is. So we’re really not focused on the Day One ratings, it’s really over the first year.”

His comments come after investors sent his stock down by more than 6% Tuesday, after mixed reviews for the new season, as previously reported.

Hastings added that Netflix would be interested in a fifth season of the show.

“‘Arrested’ is unique, because that’s really up to the talent. If the talent were willing to do more, and interested in that, I’m sure we would be willing," he said.

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'30 Rock' Star Lands Pilot Order, Will Play a Former High School Coach and Pot Dealer

One of the stars of NBC’s “30 Rock” will star in a new comedy project. The New York Times’ Bill Carter reports that FX is continuing its push into comedy with a project from Tracy Morgan.

Morgan will star in the pilot for "Death Pact," which will feature the actor as a former high school coach and pot dealer. When he returns home from war as a hero, he starts a self-help group.

The order comes after FX's decision to create a sitcom with comedian and actor Billy Crystal.

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Time Warner CEO Sells Most of His Company Stock

Time Warner Chief Executive Jeffrey Bewkes sold most of his direct holdings in the media conglomerate, benefiting from the shares' 25% jump this year, reports Bloomberg.

Bewkes, 61, sold 81% of his shares -- 205,681 shares -- for $59.27 each, or a total of $12.2 million, the story notes. Since he became CEO, the shares have jumped 75%.

He continues to own 48,010 shares directly and 35,010 indirectly through an employee-benefit plan, aside from his 3.79 million in stock options and another 437,420 in restricted stock.

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NBC Benefit Concert Raises Millions for Tornado Relief

Blake Shelton's tornado relief concert, televised live on NBC, brought a strong turnout in donations. The Associated Press reports that the event raised more than $6 million in pledges and ticket sales.

The money will be donated to the United Way of Central Oklahoma, which is distributing funds to agencies that are helping people affected by the May 20 tornado, the story adds.

Performers on the special included country music stars Miranda Lambert, Vince Gill, Reba McEntire and Rascal Flatts.

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ABC Studios Signs '30 Rock' Producer to Overall Deal

ABC Studios has signed "30 Rock" producer Vali Chandrasekaran to a two-year overall deal, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

The former Harvard Lampoon editor has worked on his own development efforts recently, including "The Marathon Times," which was at ABC during the latest development season, the story says. Before that, he worked for three seasons on "30 Rock."

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Oscar-Winning Actress in Talks to Join Oscar Winner Denzel Washington in Big-Screen Version of CBS Hit

An Academy Award-winning actress is negotiating to join two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington in the feature film version of a dramatic TV series that was a hit on CBS during the 1980s.

Oscar winner Melissa Leo is in talks to "join Denzel Washington in the Antoine Fuqua-directed 'The Equalizer' for Sony Pictures," reports our friend Mike Fleming Jr. in an  exclusive story he's written for Deadline.com.

The article adds: "Leo, who won an Oscar for 'The Fighter,' reunites with Fuqua, who directed her in 'Olympus Has Fallen.' Washington plays McCall, a retired covert operative who, seeking redemption for his dark deeds, quits a CIA-like agency and [as in the TV series] puts an ad in the paper that reads simply: 'Got a problem? Odds against you? Call the Equalizer.' "

In the TV series McCall was played by Edward Woodward. 

The Deadline story says: "Leo will play McCall’s former handler when he worked counter-terrorism. She provides him with intelligence about who he is facing when he runs up against a new adversary. The film begins production mid-June in Boston."


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Melissa Leo as Alice Ward in her Oscar-winning performance in "The Fighter."

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B&C Reports Popular 'GMA' Personality Being Quietly Talked About to Host Syndie Talker, But the Anchor Tells B&C Such a Project Is Not on the Table

Is one of ABC's most popular morning personalities being considered by Disney/ABC executives to  host her own syndicated talk show?

Our respected reporter friends Paige Albiniak and Michael Malone write in B&C: "Robin Roberts has been key to elevating 'Good Morning America' ahead of 'Today,' and keeping it there. But does the a.m. anchor have the star power to make her own daytime show fly? That's what execs in the station and syndication community have been buzzing about in recent days since word spread quietly that Disney/ABC might consider a Roberts-led syndicated talk show as one of the next possible 'GMA' spinoff projects, according to multiple sources."

However, the story continues, "ABC News has made no secret of its desire to elevate its GMA franchise further. But in a statement to B&C, Roberts said a new show for her is not on the table: 'No one is developing any show for me nor are discussions being had to that effect. I am 100% focused on my health and anchoring "GMA," now and in the future.' "

The article adds, "One of the several potential stumbling blocks to such a new talk show would be finding a time slot for it on ABC-owned stations and stations in other markets. The most natural place for a Roberts vehicle is at 3 p.m., where Katie Couric's Disney/ABC talk show currently airs on ABC O&Os and on many ABC affiliates that took ABC's offer to take back the hour of time from the network in order to carry the syndicated 'Katie.'"

We urge you to click on  the link  above and read the entire B&C story.

As Matt Drudge would say, "Developing..."

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Brillstein Names New TV President

Brillstein Entertainment Partners named a new president of its television division. Deadline.com reports that the company tapped former Regency Television President Robin Schwartz.

“She will replace JoAnn Alfano, who is departing after serving as TV head for the past two years. Alfano will continue to executive produce the new Brillstein/Plan B drama series for ABC, ‘Resurrection,’” the report notes.

The report adds: “Brillstein’s TV unit has signed a new two-year overall deal with ABC Studios where it has been based for the past decade. The new pact has a first-look component.”

Said Brillstein Entertainment CEO Jon Liebman: “We are grateful for the continued support of our friends at ABC Studios and excited about our new first-look arrangement. Robin Schwartz is a terrific executive and her broad experience and talent relationships make her an excellent choice to lead and build our television group. We are happy for JoAnn, who is a great friend, and we are looking forward to working with her in the next chapter of her career.”

Deadline notes: “Schwartz has a background as a network and studio executive and a writer. She started off as VP Primetime Series and Children’s Programming for NBC and also served as VP Programming at ABC Family, where she played a key role in the rebranding of the cable channel following its purchase by Disney. Schwartz was named president of Regency TV in 2004 and ran the studio until it closed in 2007. She went on to become the first president of OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, which she departed in one of a series of executive shake-ups during the network’s uncertain early years. At OWN, she established the structure for the start-up cable network.”

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Weak Premieres for Two New Broadcast Series

New series on two broadcast networks debuted to poor numbers, based on Nielsen overnights fro the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports soft openings for both CBS’s “The American Baking Competition” and ABC’s “The Lookout.”

“Baking” opened with a 1.0 average in viewers 18-49, as CBS -- which filled out the rest of its lineup with repeats -- settled for a fifth-place finish for prime time overall.

ABC’s “Lookout,” previously known as primetime “Nightline,” managed only a 1.1 average in 18-49 at 10 p.m., airing against repeats on CBS (“CSI,” 1.1 average) and NBC (“Chicago Fire,” 0.9). ABC also had a 1.0 for “Family Tools” -- a series low, and down 17% from the most recent original episode -- and a 1.3 for “How to Live With Your Parents” -- another series low, and down 38% from a week ago.

Fox won the night with its two-hour “MasterChef,” which held steady to last week’s premiere with a 2.2 average in adults 18-49 to rank as the top show of the night.

NBC pulled in a 1.9 average in 18-49 for its special “Healing in the Heartland: Relief Benefit Concert.” “Dateline” delivered a season high for a Wednesday installment with a 1.6 average.

For prime time overall, Fox led the way in the 18-49 demo with a 2.2 average, followed by NBC (1.5 average), Univision (1.4), ABC (1.1) and CBS (1.0). NBC won a tight race for total viewers, averaging 6.5 million to lead CBS (5.7 million), Fox (5.4 million), ABC (4.1 million) and Univision (3.5 million).

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'Mad Men' Conspiracy Theory: Is Megan Draper an Iconic Real-Life 1960s Actress -- and Does This Mean the Character Is Doomed?

A conspiracy theory has surfaced involving the hit AMC drama “Mad Men” following Sunday night’s episode. EW.com reports that a viewer stirred speculation after pointing out a similarity between a skimpy costume worn on the show by Megan Draper, played by Jessica Pare, and a 1960s photo shoot for Esquire magazine starring actress Sharon Tate.

You can click here to see a comparison of the two photos, which were posted on Twitter. But be warned that the material is racier than what we would normally post.

EW.com reports: “An observant viewer tweeted at costume designer Janie Bryant to ask about the similarity between a T-shirt seen on Megan Draper and one worn by model Sharon Tate in a 1967 photo shoot for Esquire magazine, and Bryant’s less-than-crystal-clear response has sparked talk of a costume-driven conspiracy theory on Reddit.”

The viewer, @BHisaRockstar, tweeted: “Dying to know if this pic of Sharon Tate inspired Megan’s look? My dad shot it for @esquiremag in ’67.”

Bryant’s reply: ”No coincidence.”

The piece notes that Bryant’s brief tweet could be interpreted as meaning either “it’s no coincidence,” or “no, it’s a coincidence.” But “Mad Men” viewers seem to be leaning toward the former interpretation -- and that has them concerned about the fate that awaits the character.

The report notes: “In August 1969, Tate -- then eight-and-a-half-months pregnant and married to director Roman Polanski -- was murdered by followers of Charles Manson during a home invasion at the couple’s home in Los Angeles. Does the red star on Megan Draper’s shirt mean that the character is headed towards a similar fate?”

Some viewers already have their minds made up. One Reddit commenter is quoted in the report posting: “I totally buy the link. Tate was murdered in August of 1969, so next season probably. She was murdered by a home invasion, and this season of Mad Men seems to be really emphasizing (normalizing?) the idea of the home being ‘invaded’ by the outside.”

Another commenter writes: “It would be a huge move to have a character to enter a historical event and replace a victim in this way. I love the idea, but still. Maybe Megan isn’t Sharon Tate, but will eventually die in the same manner? The shirt is just alluding to her future demise by hinting at a real event?”

The show is known for its symbolism, the report notes, adding: “Though series creator Matthew Weiner has been accused of being a little heavy-handed with his use of symbolism -- especially when it comes to the subject of death and dying -- a direct link between the tragic end of Sharon Tate and the fate of Megan Draper seems too easy.”

The show’s designer, Bryant, commented last month on the connection between the show’s costumes and real-life 1960s style icons, downplaying the role of the latter.

“It’s not just one or a few actresses or models or style icons, that’s not what the show is about,” she’s quoted as saying. “It’s really about each individual character. I get inspired by a lot of different things, and one is the script and the things that these characters say to each other … and it’s that process of doing research and being inspired by different visual outlets, whether it be a TV show, a catalogue, a magazine, a photograph, or getting inspired by going through newspapers.”

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Nat Geo Rolls Out Aggressive Slate of Original Programming

Subject matter from the battlefields of Afghanistan to the inner workings of the American mob will be spotlighted during the summer months on National Geographic Channel, which announced an aggressive lineup of original programming set to debut from June through August.

New programs and documentary specials will be featured along with fresh installments of many of the cable channel’s franchise programs. Five new series are being featured, including “Battleground Afghanistan” and “Inside the American Mob.”

Other new series are “Eyewitness War,” focusing on groups including the Army, the Navy and the Drug Enforcement Administration; “Inside: Secret America,” following underground networks involved in activities such as guns, drugs and the paranormal; and “Doomsday Castle,” spotlighting a man and his 10 kids living in a castle deep in the South Carolina woods and preparing for the worst.

Upcoming specials include “Crossing the Ice,” about a trek to the South Pole, and “Touching the Dragon,” about a man’s unusual relationship with a 15-foot crocodile.

Click here for additional details on these and other upcoming Nat Geo programs.

 

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NBC Expands 'The Voice'

NBC has unveiled plans for expanded versions of its singing competition series “The Voice.” TVbytheNumbers.com reports that show will expand to two hours for the live June 10 and June 17 episodes.

“For the June 10 program, the remaining artists will sing for both the coaches -- Adam Levine, Shakira, Blake Shelton and Usher -- as well as nationwide audience. At-home viewers will begin voting at the show’s conclusion to see who moves on and who is eliminated,” NBC said in a press release.

The remaining artists will compete one last time during the June 17 program before the champion is unveiled June 18.

The story notes: “For the recently completed 2012-13 traditional television season, the Monday edition of ‘The Voice’ averaged a 5.2 rating, 14 share in adults 18-49 and 14.4 million viewers overall, making it the #3 primetime series on the broadcast networks in adults 18-49, the #2 entertainment series and the #1 reality series.”

The win by “The Voice” among reality shows reportedly marks the first time since the 2002-2003 season that Fox’s “American Idol” has failed to finish No. 1 in the key 18-49 demo.

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Has Oprah Winfrey Lost Her Mind? One Critic Apparently Thinks So

The first collaboration between Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry is off to a good news/bad news start. The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that OWN’s first scripted drama series, Perry's "The Haves and the Have Nots," premiered to record ratings while drawing bad reviews from a number of critics.

The fallout from the series included a suggestion by one critic that Winfrey “has apparently lost her mind.”

The show debuted Tuesday with two back-to-back episodes, with OWN calling it the network’s highest-rated premiere ever. The first episode delivered 1.77 million total viewers, while the second episode grew to 1.8 million viewers. For those two airings, the numbers in women 25-54 were 1.57 million and 1.67 million, respectively.

But the reviews were rough. OWN didn't allow critics to view the show before its airing, which follows Perry's policy of not allowing his movies to be pre-screened for reviewers.

The show even spurred a petition on Change.org, which calls for Winfrey to remove the show from the lineup because it claims Perry "perpetuates stereotypes" about the black community, notes TheWrap.

Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times called the show "so awful that the awfulness appears intentional. Except that might make it interesting, and it just isn't." Variety's Brian Lowry described it as "claustrophobically cheap, not to mention poorly written and indifferently acted." He added that it has the potential to damage Winfrey's legacy of self-empowerment, the story notes.

McNamara, who was named last month as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for criticism, also commented on the channel’s refusal to screen the show for critics, writing: "One can only assume OWN hoped to prevent us from rising en masse to prevent 'The Have and the Have Nots" from ever airing before staging intervention with Winfrey, who has apparently lost her mind."

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NBC Series to Recast Two Roles

An NBC series is recasting two roles. Deadline.com reports that the casting moves are being made on the newly picked-up comedy series "Undateable."

From Warner Bros. TV and Bill Lawrence's Doozer Productions, the show will recast the role played by Briga Heelan, who stepped in at the last minute to replace Aly Michalka, who was originally cast. That recasting was expected since Heelan also plays the female lead in Lawrence's TBS comedy "Ground Floor," which was also picked up to series. Her role was Maddie, a waitress who's attracted to the wrong guys.

Matthew Wilkas is also leaving the project. He played Brett, the gay best friend of Justin, played by Brent Morin, who finds something wrong with every potential partner, the story says.

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Host Named for 2013 Emmy Awards -- Popular Actor Will Make Repeat Appearance

The Emmy Awards have announced who will host the 2013 ceremony. EW.com’s Inside TV reports that the awards will be hosted by "How I Met Your Mother" star Neil Patrick Harris.

The gig will mark the actor's second time hosting the awards ceremony.

It's not the only major awards ceremony Harris will host this year, as he's also emceeing the 67th Tony Awards on June 9. Both the Emmys and the Tonys air on CBS, which is also home to his comedy series.

"I couldn’t be more honored and excited to be hosting this year’s Emmy Awards,” Harris said in a release. “And what perfect timing -- I’ll just do the exact same script I’m about to use for the Tonys. ‘And the Emmy for Best Revival of a Musical goes to “Breaking Bad!”' See, told you it works.”

The Emmy Awards will air live on CBS on Sunday, Sept. 22.

Neil-Patrick-Harris.jpgNeil Patrick Harris

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'Two and a Half Men' Adding a New Female Character

"Two and a Half Men" is adding a new character as a series regular -- a woman in her early 20s or late teens who's the long-lost daughter of Charlie Harper, the character that was played by Charlie Sheen on the CBS comedy series, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

"I hear the girl will eventually move in with Walden [Ashton Kutcher] and her uncle Alan Harper (Jon Cryer). The new character is expected to fill the void left by the departure of Alan’s son Jake as Angus T. Jones recently exited as a regular after 10 seasons on the show," Andreeva notes.

Andreeva adds: "With the new addition, 'Two and a Half Men' will have subbed two of the three characters in the title, following the successful transition from original leading man Sheen to Kutcher two years ago."

Sheen was dismissed from the show in 2011 after a high-profile meltdown.

 

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Why Charlie Sheen's 'Anger Management' Will Have a Four-Week Run on Fox

"Anger Management," the Charlie Sheen comedy series that airs on FX, is getting a four-week sampling on the cable net’s sibling, the Fox broadcast network, in what's most likely an attempt to re-inflate sagging ratings, reports Michael O'Connell in The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

While "Anger Management" debuted to cable comedy records, the show has suffered a steep ratings decline, the story notes. "These days, the series' ratings are barely recognizable," O'Connell writes.

The show's May 23 episode averaged just 777,000 viewers and drew a 0.3 rating in the 18-49 demographic. Fox said "Anger Management" will air on Mondays through June, in place of "The Mindy Project" repeats. Two first-run episodes of "Anger Management" will air as part of the sampling.

"It needs to be said that cross-promotion on Fox is hardly unusual, especially during the summer months," O'Connell writes. "But while those broadcasts might have been convenient and mildly helpful in finding a wider audience for the young series, 'Anger Management' goes into its Fox run with no shortage of public awareness. And it could use a shot in the arm.”

 

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Lawsuit Filed in Reality Show Death

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in connection with a death during production of a reality show. The Hollywood Reporter’s Hollywood, Esq., reports that the suit stems from a Feb. 10 helicopter crash in which three people were killed.

The suit was filed Wednesday in L.A. Superior Court by the mother of Darren Rydstrom, a cameraman who died in the crash during a night shoot for a military-themed show for Discovery Channel.

Also killed in the crash in a canyon north of Los Angeles were the helicopter’s pilot, David Gibbs, and cast member Michael Donatelli.

The suit accuses the pilot, the owners of the helicopter and the producers of the show of negligence, the piece notes.

“Rydstrom’s mother, Jerie S. Rydstrom, filed suit against Van Nuys Helicopters and two men identified as the company principals, David Child and Cherif Amin,” the story reports. “The suit also names as defendants Orbic Air, which it says is owned by David Child; Crossbow Helicopters and its owner David G. Gibbs, pilot of the doomed craft; and the producers of the show, J.D. Roth and Todd Nelson.”

The lawsuit says the Bell 206B helicopter was being flown under “visual flight rules” and the pilot had a responsibility to “look and avoid” a collision with the terrain, the piece reports.

The report adds: “The suit says the producers ‘breached their duty’ when they entrusted the helicopter to Gibbs and Crossbow Helicopters, adding the ‘defendants negligently failed to ensure that David G. Gibbs was competent, qualified and sufficiently informed for the flight.’”

The suit seeks damages to be determined by the court, the piece notes.

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BBC Defends 'Doctor Who' Over Claims of Racism

The BBC is defending the popular sci-fi series "Doctor Who" against accusations of racism. According to The Hollywood Reporter, after a new academic book came out that calls the series "thunderingly racist," the BBC is pointing out its "strong track record of diverse casting among both regular and guest cast."

Several contributors to the book, "Doctor Who and Race," point to the failure of the show to cast an Asian or black actor as the Doctor, the story says. Others took issue with a 2011 "slapstick" episode where the characters travel back to kill Hitler, as well as the tendency in the show's early years to cast white actors in ethnic roles.

One American writer criticized the show's fifth Doctor, portrayed by Peter Davison, as being cricket-obsessed. The writer argued that it points to the "racial and class nostalgia" of the British Empire, the story says.

"The biggest elephant in the room is the problem privately nursed by many fans of loving a TV show when it is thunderingly racist," wrote Australian academic Lindy Orthia, who compiled the anthology.

"Doctor Who" is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

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Director James Burrows Commits to CBS Comedy

Noted multicamera director James Burrows will remain with a new CBS comedy as executive producer and director after helming the pilot. Deadline.com reports that Burrows is sticking with "The Millers."

Burrows directed four pilots this development season, with three of those going to series. Aside from "The Millers," the other two ordered to series are "Friends with Better Lives" on CBS and NBC's "Sean Saves the World."

"The Millers" stars Will Arnett and is created by Greg Garcia. It's about a recently divorced man whose parents move in with him.

 

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'Access Hollywood Live' Gets Picked Up for Daytime

The syndicated entertainment news show "Access Hollywood Live" has been picked up to air in a daytime slot on E!, reports TheWrap.com.

Hosted by Billy Bush and Kit Hoover, the spinoff of "Access Hollywood" will air daily starting June 10 in the 3 p.m. time slot. The program is produced by KNBC-TV and distributed by NBC Universal Domestic Television.

While "Access Hollywood Live" debuted in 2010, it first aired only on a dozen stations. It’s now distributed to non-network-owned stations nationwide, the story adds.

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Brett Ratner Donates $1 Million -- No Hard Feelings About Being Ousted as Oscars Producer

Brett Ratner, who was ousted as the producer of the Oscars in 2011 after using an anti-gay slur, has donated $1 million to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ planned movie museum, reports The New York Times.

The academy intends to open the museum in early 2017, and Ratner gave to a campaign that's aiming to raise $300 million, the story reports.

He apparently doesn't hold a grudge, noting in a statement that he felt "blessed to be part of such a magnificent museum," the piece notes.

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Katie Couric Says 'Today' Tried to Lure Her Back

Katie Couric said she received "cautious overtures" from "Today" about returning to the NBC morning show, but says that they "sort of evaporated," reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

Couric made the comments to Howard Stern on his Sirius XM radio show. She added that she and her former "Today" co-host Matt Lauer "had talked about teaming up and doing a show at some point."

Asked whether she would ever return to "Today," she answered, "Part of me, for me, that was the best job."

She also talked about teaming up with Lauer again, saying that they have chemistry, but with a "brother-sister type relationship."

 

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Emmy-Winning Comedy Director Set to Helm 'Fargo' TV Adaptation

A comedy director who won an Emmy for his work on NBC’s “30 Rock” is on board to direct the premiere episode of an adaptation of “Fargo” for FX. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Adam Bernstein will direct the episode.

Bernstein is also executive producing the limited series, which is based on the Coen brothers film of the same name. The project will feature a new "true crime" story.

Ethan and Joel Coen are also executive producing, along with Warren Littlefield. The project will begin production in the fall for a spring 2014 debut.

Bernstein shared in the Emmy for "30 Rock" for outstanding comedy series in 2007.

 

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Programming Lineup, Launch Date Set for New NBCU Cable Channel

After a delay of several months, NBCUniversal has rolled out plans for the launch of a new cable channel. Deadline.com reports that Esquire Network will launch Sept. 23.

Originally set to launch April 22, the channel was held back for what was reported as an effort to get more original programming ready. Now the channel will bow with a two-hour special commemorating Esquire magazine’s 80th anniversary.

NBCU and Hearst first announced the channel back in February, as previously reported. The company has unveiled a lineup of original programming that will be in the mix with off-net programs including “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Party Down,” “Burn Notice” and “Psych.”

In making the announcement, Esquire Network general manager Adam Stotsky said: “As Esquire magazine reaches such a significant milestone, it only seems fitting that Esquire Network kick off by celebrating the rich legacy of this iconic brand. And we will build on this unparalleled 80-year history with a new prime-time lineup featuring compelling original programming that hits on the wide-ranging interests, aspirations and passions of men today.”

The company said in its release: “The 80th anniversary special joins a growing pipeline of original programming, including previously announced series ‘Knife Fight,’ an underground cooking competition hosted by Ilan Hall; ‘The Getaway,’ exploring the world’s most amazing cities through the eyes of a revolving cast of travel-loving celebs; ‘How I Rock It,’ a look at style in all its forms, hosted by NBA superstar Baron Davis; ‘Risky Listing,’ a docuseries set in the exclusive, intensely competitive world of New York nightlife real estate; and ‘American Field Trip’ (working title), a trip across the country with photojournalist Matt Hranek, in search of people, places and objects that embody the timeless American spirit.”

The company also announced two new series, “Brew Dogs” (working title) and “Horse Players.”

“For ‘Brew Dogs,’ produced by Custom Productions and Redtail Media, Scottish ‘beer evangelists’ James Watt and Martin Dickie travel across America with a vital mission: to prove that the drink of the masses doesn’t need to taste mass-produced,” the company said. “In each episode of the 6×60 series, James and Martin, who own the UK’s fastest-growing brewery, visit a different American beer town, celebrate distinctive craft beers and create their own locally inspired draft.”

“Horse Players” is a 7×60 series produced by Go Go Luckey for Esquire Network that, according to the company release, “takes place in the high-stakes world of professional horse race handicapping, where the only thing bigger than the bets are the characters placing them. From Churchill Downs to Saratoga to Santa Anita, each episode follows a group of handicappers as they travel the country in search of instant riches -- and compete for the title of America’s top handicapper.”

 

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Amazon Gives Full Series Orders to Five New Shows

Amazon announced today that it is greenlighting five new series for full-season orders. The online company ordered the comedies “Alpha House” and “Betas” and the children’s programs “Annebots,” “Creative Galaxy” and “Tumbleaf.”

The company said in its announcement that the shows “have been given the greenlight to begin production on a full series of episodes that will air exclusively on Prime Instant Video later this year and in early 2014. Amazon and LOVEFiLM customers gave feedback that Amazon Studios used to decide which comedy and kids pilots should be made into Amazon’s first original series.”

Said Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios: “We are thrilled at the enthusiastic customer response to our first original pilots. We built Amazon Studios so that customers could help decide which stories would make the very best movies and TV shows. It’s exciting to see the process in motion, doing exactly what we set out to do. The success of this first set of pilots has given us the push to try this approach with even more shows -- this is just the beginning.”

“Alpha House” creator Garry Trudeau said: “We're thrilled to have emerged safely from this harrowing exercise in online democracy. All of us at ‘Alpha House’ thank both Amazon and its wise and wonderful customer base for such a happy outcome. As the future of episodic TV packs up and moves to Seattle, we hope the audience will continue to have as much fun watching the show as we have making it.”

“Annebots” focuses on Anne, described by the company as “a young scientist who creates three robot helpers to assist her scientific experiments in the back of her dad’s junkyard. This science-based series from creator J.J. Johnson aims to introduce kids to science and technology in a fun, new way.”

“Creative Galaxy” is described as “an animated interactive art adventure series, designed to inspire kids' creative thinking through crafts, story, music and dance. The series was created by Angela Santomero, creator of ‘Blue’s Clues’ and the Emmy-nominated literacy series ‘Super Why!’”

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Broadcast TV's Terrible Tuesday: No Network Cracks a 2.0 in Key Demo for Prime Time; One Network Has Its Lowest-Rated Tuesday Premiere Ever

It was a bad Tuesday night across the board for the broadcast networks, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that all of the broadcast nets failed to reach a 2.0 average for prime time.

CBS had an especially rough time in the demo. On a night when its first two hours of prime time consisted of repeat programming, the network bowed its new series “Brooklyn DA” at 10 p.m., and the show attracted only a 1.0 average in viewers 18-49. it was the lowest-rated Tuesday night series premiere in the history of the network.

NBC’s “The Voice” was the top show of the night, but its 3.0 average in 18-49 represented a 6% decline from a week ago. NBC did eke out a win for the night overall with a 1.9 average rating.

NBC’s “The Voice” recap show slipped to a 1.7 in viewers 18-49, down 15% from two weeks ago. NBC also aired a repeat of “The Office” (1.0 average).

Second-place Fox got what it could out of a two-hour “So You Think You Can Dance,” a 1.8 average in 18-49, down 10% from last week.

ABC saw 1.2 averages across the board in the 18-49 demo, including the two-hour season premiere of “Extreme Weight Loss” (a retitled version of the show previously called “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition”). The show was down 20% from its premiere a year ago, and was the lowest-rated premiere in series history.

Elsewhere on ABC, the series finale of “Body of Proof” also settled for a 1.2 in 18-49, equaling the show’s all-time low but good enough to win the 10 p.m. hour.

The grim numbers for prime time overall look like this: NBC led the 18-49 demo with a 1.9 average, followed by Fox (1.8 average), Univision (1.4), ABC (1.2) and CBS (1.1). CBS won total viewers with 7.3 million, followed by NBC (6.6 million), ABC (5.3 million), Fox (5.0 million) and Univision (3.4 million).

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CBS Gives Sibling Channel Some 'Brother'-ly Love

CBS is showing some sibling love to a cable channel that’s a part of its corporate family. Deadline.com reports that the “Big Brother” companion show “Big Brother: After Dark” will air on TVGN.

“The move comes two months after CBS acquired 50% of the network,” the story reports. “’Big Brother: After Dark’ previously aired on CBS’s other cable sibling, premium network Showtime, for seven seasons. It became an increasingly odd duck in Showtime’s lineup as the pay cable network expanded into noisy, awards-winning scripted series, but corporate synergy kept it there. Now there is another cable alternative within the CBS family, and Big Brother: After Dark should be a better fit for pop culture-focused TVGN.”

The show will air a “curated live feed” from inside the “Big Brother” house seven nights a week, the piece reports. The two-hour show will air at midnight ET/PT, delayed for Pacific Time. Its 13-week run launches June 26.

“Now entering its 15th season, ‘Big Brother’ will have a longer edition this summer with the new season premiering on Wednesday, June 26 (9-10 PM ET/PT),” Deadline reports. “It will be broadcast three nights weekly: Tuesdays (9-10 PM ET/PT, beginning July 2); a live eviction show hosted by Julie Chen on Wednesdays (9-10 PM, live ET/delayed PT, beginning July 3); and Sundays (8-9 PM ET/PT, beginning June 30). The live eviction show will move to 8-9 PM ET/PT on July 17.”

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Coach on NBC's 'The Voice' Scrambling to Explain Comment After Sparking Angry Outcry -- Here's the Video

One of the coaches on NBC’s “The Voice” has been busy doing damage control after a comment made on the show provoked harsh criticism.

CBS News reports that Adam Levine, well known as the lead singer of Maroon 5, got a negative reaction online after saying on the singing competition, “I hate this country.” (The video is below.)

Levine muttered the barely audible comment after losing two of his team members -- Judith Hill and Sarah Simmons -- during eliminations on Tuesday’s show.

The online response came quickly, with many commenters attacking Levine while others defended the remark as a joke. Levine responded with a series of tweets indicating the remark was indeed a joke and had been misinterpreted.

He issued a more carefully worded statement today in which he said: "I obviously love my country very much and my comments last night were made purely out of frustration."

His statement added: "Being a part of 'The Voice,' I am passionately invested in my team and want to see my artists succeed. Last night's elimination of Judith and Sarah was confusing and downright emotional for me and my comments were made based on my personal dissatisfaction with the results. I am very connected to my artists and know they have long careers ahead, regardless of their outcome on the show."

Here’s the video from the show, with Levine’s comment heard around the 1:15 mark:

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Apple CEO Grilled About Company's 'Grand Vision' for TV

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal's Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook talked about a "grand vision" for television, but clammed up when asked for details.

"We’re still playing in TV through Apple TV. For several years we were selling a few hundred thousand. We’ve now sold 13 million -- about half of those in the last year," Cook said. "It’s been good for customers, but also for learning for Apple. Customers would agree there are things about television that aren’t so great."

Asked whether Apple might go beyond its current approach to television, Cook dodged the question, the story notes. He said, " I don’t want to go any further on this because I don’t want to give anybody any ideas. There is a very grand vision."

 

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This is a Surprise: CEO Says High-Profile Cable Network Will Finally Be Profitable This Year, Ahead of Schedule

Launching a high-profile cable network can cost millions of dollars, so it's of some note that a money-loser is now predicted to make money this year.

David Zaslav, the CEO of Discovery Communications, made the surprise announcement that the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), which Discovery co-owns with Oprah Winfrey, will actually be profitable this year, reports Deadline.com

Heretofore, it was thought that the network would just get to break-even by the end of the year.

According to the Deadline story, written by our good friend David Lieberman, OWN, "which stumbled out of the gate in 2011 -- is 'ahead of where we thought it would be' and 'finding enormous success for us,' [Zaslav said]. For example, on Saturday night, when it runs original programming without Winfrey, 'we’re the No. 1 network for African American women.' The comment buttressed Zaslav’s broader argument that the pay TV business is in good shape, and Discovery is doing especially well in that environment. Zaslav is unfazed by the seemingly growing number of consumers who say that they’re fed up with rising pay TV rates, and want distributors to offer channels a la carte or on low-priced tiers. 'This is a very sturdy system,' he says. 'Viewers really enjoy the basic package. … I don’t see that being challenged.' "

The story adds, "That belief will drive Discovery as it prepares to fight for higher fees in its next rounds of carriage negotiations with pay TV providers. 'We feel we need to get more value' for the company’s rising ratings, and outlays for programming. 'We’re on the right side of the argument emotionally and on the right side of the argument in terms of the statistics.' ”

Zaslav made his remarks at the Sanford C. Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference today, Wednesday, May 29, 2013.

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After Mixed Reviews for 'Arrested Development,' Netflix Stock Sinks -- Despite Early Signs That the Show's a Hit

Wall Street seemed to view Netflix's new season of "Arrested Development" as problematic, sending shares of the stock down by more than 6% Tuesday after reviews came in for the show, reports the Associated Press.

As previously reported, early reviews were mixed, with several critics saying the frenetic pace of the original was missed. The New York Times was particularly rough, saying that Netflix had "killed" the series.

While "Arrested Development" is the third original series to debut on Netflix in 2013, it has garnered the most attention because of the popularity of the original Fox show. Netflix had also raised the idea that the new season would help woo hundreds of thousands of new subscribers, the piece adds.

Indeed, some early signs indicate that audiences flocked to Netflix to watch the fourth season of "Arrested Development," which aired exclusively on the streaming network after a seven-year absence from network television, reports Deadline.com.

Data analytics company Procera Networks said one DSL network had 36% of devices watching Netflix on Sunday viewing at least a portion of an episode of the comedy, more than triple the number for Netflix's "House of Cards" debut, the story notes.

TorrentFreak, meanwhile, noted that 100,000 people downloaded episodes of the show within the first day of release, which the story notes is significant but just one-tenth of those who pirated the season premiere of "Game of Thrones" from HBO.

 

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Larry King Lands a New TV Talk Show -- and the Channel He Will Be On Is Unexpected, to Say the Least

Longtime CNN talk host Larry King is resurfacing with a new TV show, and the channel that hired him is a surprise. According to The Hollywood Reporter, King’s new show, "Politics with Larry King," will be on the Kremlin-backed channel Russia Today.

The show is set to launch next month on the English-language TV channel. According to Margarita Simonyan, RT’s editor-in-chief, it will be no-holds-barred, THR reports.

Commenting on King’s quarter-century run on CNN, which ended in 2010, Simonyan said: "Whether a president or an activist or a rock star was sitting across from him, Larry King never shied away from asking the tough questions, which makes him a terrific fit for our network.”

THR adds: “King's career spans 56 years since he began as a local radio reporter in Florida and he has more than 50,000 interviews under his belt. The broadcast veteran's veteran says the show will break new ground.”

King confirmed that he will seek out voices that are largely ignored by the media. “I have interviewed every U.S. president since Nixon, and lest people forget, I helped usher Ross Perot into the national conversation during the 1992 presidential contest," he said. "I appreciate the importance of providing a platform to those with real alternative visions for our country’s future.”

“RT will air the new show produced by Ora.tv in June as well as ‘Larry King Now,’ which launched on Hulu and Ora.TV last year,” THR adds. “The programs will be recorded in RT America’s Washington D.C., studios and Ora TV’s studio in Los Angeles. RT America will be the exclusive U.S. broadcaster for both programs, which will continue to stream online at Hulu.com and Ora.tv and also be available online on rt.com.”

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James Lipton of 'Inside the Actors Studio' Opens Up About His Days as a Pimp

James Lipton, the host of the Bravo show "Inside the Actors Studio," told Parade magazine that he used to be a pimp, when he lived in Paris in the 1950s.

"It was only a few years after the war. Paris was different then, still poor. Men couldn’t get jobs and, in the male chauvinist Paris of that time, the women couldn’t get work at all. It was perfectly respectable for them to go into le milieu," Lipton told the publication.

He added that prostitution was "completely regulated. Every week they had to be inspected medically. The great bordellos were still flourishing in those days before the sheriff of Paris, a woman, closed them down. It was a different time"

Asked how he got involved in pimping, Lipton said he became friends with a prostitute, and when he ran out of money, she arranged for him to become a pimp.

Lipton said he represented more than one girl -- in fact, he managed "a whole bordello." He added, "I did a roaring business, and I was able to live for a year. The French mecs didn’t exploit women. They represented them, like agents. And they took a cut. That’s how I lived. I was going through my rites of passage, no question about it. It was a great year of my life."

Quizzed on whether he thinks people should pay for sex, Lipton responded, "I really don’t. I think if you can’t earn it on your own, then you don’t deserve it.”

Lipton, whose 250th show will air soon on Bravo, added that he's not retiring. For the episode, he will air new interviews with actors including Christopher Walken and Robert De Niro, the story adds.

james-lipton.jpgJames Lipton

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TV Station's New Ad Campaign Targets 'State of TV' -- and Not in a Good Way

A new advertising campaign from a New York City television station offers a grim assessment of the state of TV, and aims to cash in on it. EW.com's Inside TV reports that new ads for Thirteen, a local PBS station, depict outlandish fake shows including "Bayou Eskimos" and “Knitting Wars.”

The station has placed the ads in New York City subway stations. They bear the tagline, "The fact you thought this was a real show says a lot about the state of TV."

Other fake shows include "Bad Bad Bag Boys," which shows two tough-looking grocery clerks and the tagline, "Clean up on every aisle," and "Married to a Mime," showing a family where the husband is decked out in facepaint, and the tagline notes, "She's got plenty to say."

The poster for "Knitting Wars" uses the tagline, "It's sew on."

EW.com notes, while "we’re 98 percent in agreement with the sentiment and snark, we also kiiiiinda want to see 'Knitting Wars' on the air, if only because the ‘It’s Sew On’ kicker had us in … stitches.”

The ads urge New Yorkers to support public broadcasting.

Thumbnail image for Dillionaire-ad.jpg

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TV Executive Who Helped Make Snooki Famous Named President of TruTV

An executive who helped make Snooki a pop culture icon while he was at MTV has been named president of TruTV. The Los Angeles Times reports that Chris Linn, who previously was an executive vice president of MTV, got the position with the Time Warner-owned cable network.

His hiring signals that TruTV wants to aim for a younger and hipper audience. While at MTV Linn helped develop "Jersey Shore" and its spinoff "Snooki & JWoww," the story notes.

He succeeds Marc Juris, who left the role earlier this month.

 

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ABC Family Comedy Series Renewed

ABC Family has renewed a comedy series. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the cable channel will bring back "Melissa & Joey" for a fourth season.

The channel also gave a back order to the show for an additional 20 episodes for season three. The order pushes the show past the 100-episode mark.

The show is the first ABC Family comedy to reach 100 episodes, the piece notes. The show, which features Melissa Joan Hart playing a politician and Joey Lawrence as her manny, is set to debut its third season today, May 29. The newly ordered second half of the season will air in 2014.

"One-hundred episodes is a great accomplishment for any series, and we are thrilled to give 'Melissa & Joey' the opportunity to achieve this milestone, as they’ve delivered hundreds and hundreds of laughs over the seasons,” said Kate Juergens, executive vice president programming and development at ABC Family.

A decision on the future of "Bunheads" will come in the next few weeks, after the network has reviewed its summer programming, the piece notes.

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Dish Network Rolls Out Social Media App for Hopper DVR

Satellite company Dish Network has rolled out a new social media app for the Hopper DVR. Deadline.com reports that the company says the app, Social, is the industry’s “first and only set-top app that delivers on-screen social content relevant to the show or channel a viewer is watching.”

Deadline adds: “Subscribers who have Dish’s Hopper Whole-Home HD DVR can keep their eyes on the TV screen to watch a program while they also read and write posts to Facebook and Twitter (up to four accounts apiece). When the app is open, they’ll have three options on the right side of the screen: ‘Now Watching’ will offer the Twitter feed for the show the user is watching. ‘My Twitter’ will enable the viewer to see and send tweets on his or her personal Twitter feed. And ‘My Facebook’ offers similar functionality for Facebook. At the bottom on the screen users will see a data bar with statistics and information including, as Dish describes it, ‘the top areas in the country where people are Tweeting about the program, the program’s sentiment rating, percentage of Tweeters by gender and frequency of Tweets.’”

Jimshade Chaudhar, Dish’s director of product marketing and management, said that last year “Twitter saw 32 million Americans tweet about TV programming, an incredible display of consumer interest in wanting a more social experience from TV. Through our Social app, we’ve made it easier for consumers to follow social conversations and post in real-time without leaving their TV screen.”

Deadline notes: “The new app follows Dish’s release of a second-screen mobile app that helps viewers use their Twitter and Facebook accounts to discuss the shows that they’re watching.”

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Media Buyers on What to Expect From Upfront Ad Sales

Media buyers have offered an assessment of what to expect from this upfront season. MediaLife reports that the buyers are saying this will be a "ho-hum" season, without strong results for the broadcast networks.

"Media people foresee very small gains in total volume sales for the networks, and they expect CPM gains to remain in the low single digits for all but No. 1 network CBS," the article notes.

The publication ran a survey of its readers, asking them to predict how total broadcast sales will compare with 2012's results, when the English-language networks sold $9.1 billion in inventory.

The results? The biggest share of respondents (27%) are predicting a 2% gain over last year. Another quarter said they think sales will actually decline, anywhere from 1% to 4%, the story says. Eighteen percent said they believe sales will be flat.

A majority of readers, at 60%, said CBS will see the biggest CPM gains.

Most "buyers remain unimpressed with NBC, which is coming off its most competitive season in nine years. Asked which network will see the smallest CPM gains, 35 percent picked NBC, with 30 percent choosing the CW. Fox was third with 20 percent," the story reports.

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A&E's 'Longmire' and 'Glades' Return With Higher Ratings

The A&E dramas "Longmire" and "The Glades" returned over the Memorial Day holiday and brought bigger audiences than their previous season premieres, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

"Longmire" drew 4.3 million viewers to its second-season premiere, or 200,000 more than its series debut last summer, the story notes. Among adults 18-49 and 25-54, the show boosted its audience by 12%.

Meanwhile, "The Glades" drew 3.3 million viewers to its fourth-season debut, also about 200,000 more than its previous premiere, the story reports.

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More Details Emerge on What's Going On Behind the Scenes at NBC's 'Community'

"Community" creator Dan Harmon, who was ousted from the show last year, might return for the series' final 13-episode season, reports Deadline.com.

As previously reported, Harmon is in talks to return to the NBC comedy series after being fired by studio Sony Pictures Television. Some critics had complained that the fourth season of the show, overseen by new showrunners, had lost its edge without Harmon.

Right now, "Community" isn't on NBC's fall schedule, Deadline notes. The show's former writer-producer Chris McKenna has also been approached about rejoining for the show's final season. McKenna left "Community" last May to move to Universal TV, where he's under an overall deal.

Despite being approached about staying, current showrunners David Guarascio and Moses Port have opted to move on, the piece notes. They had a one-year deal.

 

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Tornado-Themed 'Mike & Molly' Finale Gets Air Date

The third-season finale of "Mike & Molly," which was pulled from the CBS schedule last week because its tornado-linked storyline was too close to reality following the deadly Oklahoma twister, will air Thursday, May 30, reports TVLine.

The episode features Mike and Carl working at a Renaissance Faire while a tornado moves closer to Chicago, with the impending disaster causing Mike and Molly to reveal secrets to each other, the article notes. The episode also features guest spots by Jim Beaver of "Supernatural" and Gerald McRaney of "Southland."

 

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HBO Sets a Nine-Year Viewership Record

HBO hit a viewership home run over the weekend with the debut of an original production. Deadline.com reports that the turnout for “Behind the Candelabra” -- the Steven Soderbergh-directed Liberace biopic -- set a nine-year mark for the pay-cable channel.

Sunday’s first airing of the program delivered 2.4 million viewers, the most for an HBO original movie premiere since May 30, 2004, when 2.6 million showed up for “Something the Lord Made.”

“’Candelabra’ also did considerably better than HBO’s last biopic, on record producer Phil Spector,” the report notes. “Starring Al Pacino and Helen Mirren, the film about Spector’s first trial for the 2003 death of actress Lana Clarkson pulled in 754,000 viewers in its 9 p.m. airing on March 24. Overall, ‘Phil Spector’ had 1.039 million viewers over two plays on March 24. Across two plays Sunday, ‘Candelabra’ had a total of 3.5 million viewers watching the 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. broadcasts.”

Michael Douglas stars in “Candelabra” as Liberace, with Matt Damon playing his much younger lover Scott Thorson. The movie is based on Thorson’s 1988 memoir, and co-stars Dan Aykroyd, Scott Bakula and Rob Lowe.

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A Major Network Series Has Its Lowest-Rated Premiere Ever

It continues to be a rough period for premieres on the broadcast networks, with the latest series to suffer its lowest season premiere of all time being ABC’s “The Bachelorette,” based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the two-hour reality show debuted Monday to a 1.9 average rating in 18-49, losing 27% from the premiere a year ago. Last time around, “Bachelorette” led out from “Dancing with the Stars,” while the latest installment opened the network’s prime-time lineup. It was followed by a special episode of ABC’s “20/20,” which managed only a 1.3.

“Bachelorette” went head-to-head with the top show of the night, NBC’s two-hour “The Voice,” which came through with a 3.1 average in the 18-49 demo, slipping 11% from a week ago. With “Revolution’s” 1.9, matching last week’s number, NBC coasted to an easy win for the night, both in the demo and in total viewers.

CBS aired all repeats, while Fox’s only fresh show was the new comedy “The Goodwin Games,” which matched last week’s premiere with a 0.6 in adults 18-49.

The numbers for prime time overall show NBC well ahead with a 2.7 in the 18-49 demo, followed by ABC (1.7), Univision (1.5), CBS (1.1) and Fox (0.6). NBC averaged 9.4 million total viewers to lead ABC (5.8 million), CBS (4.4 million), Univision (3.4 million) and Fox (1.4 million).

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Nat Geo Casts Its JFK and Jackie

An actor who is a household name will play President John F. Kennedy, while a less well-known actress -- but one with her own credentials in both TV and features -- will play Jackie Kennedy in Nat Geo’s upcoming adaptation of Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing Kennedy,” The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

Rob Lowe will play JFK, while Ginnifer Goodwin -- best known for “Big Love” and for feature films including “Something Borrowed” and “He’s Just Not That Into You” -- will play Jackie Kennedy, the piece reports.

Also on board is Michelle Trachtenberg, who will play Marina Oswald.

In a statement today announcing the castings, National Geographic Channels President Howard T. Owens said: “We are thrilled to be working with Rob Lowe, Ginnifer Goodwin and Michelle Trachtenberg, three gifted artists who have responded to this timely, authentic and entertaining material. With ‘Killing Kennedy,’ timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK, National Geographic Channel continues to bring daring, culturally significant television events to our growing global audience.”

THR notes: “The drama marks the latest adaptation from Bill O'Reilly's collection of best-sellers, and comes three months after ‘Killing Lincoln’ premiered to 3.4 million viewers. Production will begin in June in Richmond, Va., when Lowe and Goodwin are on hiatus from NBC's ‘Parks and Recreation’ and ABC's ‘Once Upon a Time,’ respectively.”

Ridley Scott's Scott Free Productions is producing, with Nelson McCormick (“The Good Wife”) set to direct.

Ginnifer-Goodwin-ginnifer-goodwin-29897990-1280-1024.jpgGinnifer Goodwin

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The Way-Too-Early Emmy Predictions: Who Should Win and Who Will Win

After a successful round of Emmy predictions way back in May 2012, one media outlet is giving it another shot with a set of “way-too-early” Emmy predictions for 2013. Writing on TheWrap.com, Tim Molloy notes that last time around, four out of the seven predictions turned out to be right.

“This year’s races, though, are much harder to call because of a huge wild card: Netflix, the streaming service that entered the game with the year’s best new drama, ‘House of Cards,’ and the return of ‘Arrested Development,’” Molloy writes. “Will TV industry professionals roll out the welcome mat for an online service that could cost them their jobs? We have no idea.”

For outstanding comedy series, Molloy predicts the winning streak for ABC’s “Modern Family,” which has won three years in a row, will continue. But who should win? “For now, I'm saying ‘Veep,’” Molloy writes."But I’m writing this right before getting to see all those ‘Arrested’ episodes.”

Lead actress in a comedy is a category that’s especially strong, the piece notes, with Molloy pickin “Veep’s” Julia Louis-Dreyfus to win a close battle with Lena Dunham of HBO’s “Girls.”

Molloy writes: “Louis-Dreyfus will probably get an easy repeat for two reasons: First, she’s excellent as the unabashedly self-centered title character. And second, voters will ding Dunham for being naked a lot when she arguably doesn’t need to be and for her character’s carefully crafted annoyingness.”

Who should win, according to Molloy? Either Louis-Dreyfus or Laura Dern, for HBO’s “Enlightened.”

In the category of outstanding lead actor in a comedy, Molloy’s “should win” and “will win” selections are the same. “It’s time to recognize Louis C.K. as an actor,” he writes. “Actually, the time was last year or the year before, but that’s OK. The comedian and his brilliant FX series, ‘Louie,’ were still new and unfamiliar to viewers then. Now he has reached the media saturation point, and voters may be ready to recognize his -- not using this word lightly -- genius.”

Outstanding drama series looks to Molloy like a wide-open race. “Last year’s winner, ‘Homeland,’ was perceived by many critics to suffer a sophomore slump,” he writes. “If Emmy voters agree, that could throw open the race. The ‘Homeland’ win broke a four-year streak for AMC’s ‘Mad Men,’ which likely won’t win again until next season, its last one.”

Molloy’s prediction in the category is a trophy for PBS’s “Downton Abbey.” But who should win it? “The gorgeous, understated ‘Boardwalk Empire,’ which TheWrap picked as the best show of 2012. It’s not as flashy as its competition, but is much richer in its subtleties. It’s as smart as people think ‘Downton Abbey’ is.”

“Mad Men” will get recognition for lead actress in a drama, if Molloy’s prediction holds up. “It will be laughable if Elisabeth Moss isn’t nominated for ‘Mad Men,’ a show on which she’s now the de facto audience surrogate by virtue of Don Draper becoming such a monster,” he writes, predicting that Moss will win, and adding that either she or Robin Wright of “House of Cards” should win.

The “will win” and “should win” categories come together again in lead actor in a drama, where Molloy sees Kevin Spacey of Netflix’s “House of Cards” coming through: “There’s a very elegant solution here for voters who want to recognize ‘House of Cards’ without giving away the store: Reward Kevin Spacey for his mesmerizing performance as a scheming congressman.”

Finally, Molloy sees NBC’s “The Voice” winning reality-competition program, and deserving the win -- even with CBS’s “The Amazing Race” having won the award in nine of the 10 years of the category’s existence. “Wait, you say: ‘The Amazing Race’ is still excellent, and it isn’t fair that NBC should win with a show that borrows so many elements from Fox’s ‘American Idol,’" Molloy writes. “We agree. But it’s time for Emmy voters to try something new, and the current incarnation of ‘The Voice’ is more unpredictable and inspiring than the current incarnation of ‘Idol.’ Not fair, we know.”

Please click on the link in the first paragraph to read more of Molloy’s comments on the contenders in these categories.

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JCPenney Under Fire for Advertising a Kettle That Looks Like Hitler -- See for Yourself

JCPenney is being criticized after a billboard appeared in Culver City, Calif., advertising a kettle that some observers say looks a lot like Adolf Hitler, CBS Local reports.

“The ad seen off the 405 Freeway near Centinela Boulevard is for the Bells and Whistles Stainless Steel Tea Kettle, part of a line of exclusive Michael Graves-designed kitchenware for the department store,” the story reports. “But some users of online content aggregator Reddit have speculated whether JCPenney -- which saw a 16 percent year-over-year drop in sales earlier this month -- intentionally made the stainless steel tea kettle resemble one of the most notorious men in history to stir up public interest.”

One user commented: “I stare at this from my office building every day and now I can tell my co-workers that I’m not the only one who saw the Hitler in the bells and whistles sign!”

JCPenney had not commented on the controversy, the piece notes.

hitler-kettle.jpgAdolf Hitler and the kettle billboard

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Surprise Twist Behind the Scenes at NBC's 'Community'

A surprising turn of events is being reported in the saga of the NBC comedy series “Community.” The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the show’s creator, Dan Harmon, is in talks to return to the show, just a year after studio Sony Pictures Television fired him.

It's not clear in what capacity he would return, although he's discussing some part in the show's fifth season with Sony Pictures TV, the piece reports. He broke the news during his Harmontown podcast Sunday, according to the blog HollyWookiee, which attended the podcast.

Harmon asked that the news be edited out of the podcast, but then added, "I don't care who knows," the blog says. The podcast hasn't yet been released online, THR reports.

As previously reported, Harmon was fired last May as showrunner, writing in a candid blog post, "I’m not saying you can’t make a good version of 'Community' without me, but I am definitely saying that you can’t make my version of it unless I have the option of saying 'it has to be like this or I quit' roughly 8 times a day."

Harmon had a reportedly turbulent time on the show and had feuded with co-star Chevy Chase.

Some critics complained that the fourth season of the show, which was overseen by two new showrunners, had lost its edge without Harmon, THR reports.

dan-harmon.jpgDan Harmon

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Former 'Baywatch' Actress Hired to Host New GSN Show

An actress who formerly appeared on "Baywatch," has been hired to host GSN's "The Chase," a new quiz show that's adapted from a British program, reports Deadline.com.

The hiring of Brooke Burns comes after talks with NBC Sports' Dan Patrick fell through at the last minute. The show pits a team of four contestants against a genius, the story adds.

Burns also is attached to host the GSN dating show "Where Have You Been All My Life."

brooke-burns.jpgBrooke Burns

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'Saturday Night Live' Still Paying Out to Former Cast Member Who's Now a Politician

"Saturday Night Live" is still paying out for a former cast member who was on the show from 1975 through the mid-1990s and who currently serves as a Democratic senator from Minnesota, reports the New York Post.

Al Franken earned up to $50,000 in interest last year from Broadway Video Inc., which is owned by "SNL" executive producer Lorne Michaels, the story notes, citing Senate disclosure forms.

He also earned royalties from songwriting, performing, writing/producing and "SNL" merchandise, the piece adds. Franken, who is known for his "SNL" self-help guru Stuart Smalley, earns $174,000 a year as a senator.

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Eight Bidders Lined Up for Hulu

Media reports say eight bidders are in play for the online streaming service Hulu. Nikki Finke reports on Deadline.com that seven named bidders and an unidentified pay-TV outlet are vying for outright ownership or at least an equity stake in the company.

“The last time Hulu was in play, it was 2011 and an auction sale went nowhere. And before that, in 2010, an IPO was contemplated but not pursued. So I’m somewhat skeptical about a successful outcome this time around,” Finke writes.

Hulu owners Walt Disney Co., News Corp. and Comcast Corp. set a “soft Wednesday deadline,” the piece notes, with most of the bids coming in by that time and a later bid from Yahoo coming in Friday.

Finke writes: “The other confirmed bidders include KKR & Co., Silver Lake Management/Hollywood agency WME, Guggenheim Digital (even though Guggenheim Securities advises Hulu’s board), Time Warner Cable (interested in becoming a 4th co-owner), DirecTV, and the Chernin Group (whose Peter Chernin helped create Hulu and has partnered with investors Qatar Holding and Providence Equity Partners).”

Amazon failed to submit a bid, the piece notes.

“The Los Angeles-based Hulu board began seeking the latest round of bidding in March,” Finke writes. “Now the question is whether Disney, News Corp, and Comcast will look for an exit and take their content with them, then license it back to Hulu for bigger fees but no exclusivity.”

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What Do Critics Say About the New 'Arrested Development'?

Seven years after leaving Fox, "Arrested Development" returned to life Sunday via Netflix, with the new episodes for the show's fourth season all available at once -- and early reviews are mixed, TheWrap.com reports.

"Several critics saw the nature of on-demand online streaming as having an ill effect on [the] approach taken by the groundbreaking comedy's creator Mitch Hurwitz and the show itself," the story notes.

The piece adds: "Most missed was the frenetic pace of the show, at least by The New York Times' Mike Hale, who recalled the show's glory days -- they weren't that glorious, since it was canceled -- and its unique rapid-fire approach."

But some critics felt the show had to live up to extremely high expectations, given the hype leading up to the Netflix debut.

Eric Goldman of the website IGN wrote, "What’s important to keep in mind of course is just what a high standard 'Arrested Development' has set for itself. We expect a level of brilliance that is hard to achieve and ‘Flight of the Phoenix’ [the new season’s premiere episode] wasn’t a complete home run in this regard. But it still had plenty to love."

 

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NBC's 'Smash' Goes Out With a Whimper

NBC's "Smash" ended its two-season run with two back-to-back episodes that failed to draw crowds, reports The New York Times' ArtsBeat.

Based on preliminary Nielsen ratings, the episodes averaged 2.4 million total viewers, which was better than the 2 million average the program received after the network shifted it to Saturdays.

Nevertheless, the second episode, which aired at 10 p.m. on Sunday, was beaten by a repeat of CBS's "The Mentalist," both in total viewers and in the 18-49 segment.

The series ended with guest appearances from Broadway actors including Ron Rifkin and Lillias White, who portrayed presenters during a faux-Tony Awards ceremony.

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'Law & Order: SVU' Star on Board for New Season

After a couple of weeks of negotiations, NBC's "Law & Order: SVU" has secured a deal for the return of star Mariska Hargitay, reports Deadline.com.

"Happy weekend. It’s official. Season 15--I’LL BE BACK!,” the actress tweeted.

NBC had renewed the show without Hargitay signed to return, although her participation had been expected. Her former "SVU" star Chris Meloni will also be returning to prime time, but this time starring in the new Fox comedy "Surviving Jack."

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CNN Schedules New Talk Show

CNN has scheduled a new talk show, setting the premiere for Sunday, June 9, TVNewser reports. The show is “Stroumboulopoulos,” hosted by Canadian talk host George Stroumboulopoulos.

The show will move into a Friday time slot starting June 14, the piece notes. For its premiere it will follow an episode of Anthony Bourdain's "Parts Unknown.”

Guests on the debut episode will include comic book icon Robert Kirkman and actress Ellen Page, the story notes.

The show "is a big bet for CNN, not only because of the new entertainment-centric format, but also because it will be the first studio show that the channel isn’t actually producing itself. Embassy Row Productions, which produces 'Watch What Happens Live' on Bravo and 'The Talking Dead' on AMC, is producing the program," the story reports.

Thumbnail image for george-stroumboulopoulos.jpgGeorge Stroumboulopoulos

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Oscar-Winning Actress Cast in Fox Event Series From M. Night Shyamalan

An Oscar-winning actress has been cast in a Fox event series from Chad Hodge and M. Night Shyamalan, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports. The actress is Melissa Leo, who joins "Wayward Pines."

The 10-episode drama, which also stars Matt Dillon, is based on a novel of the same name by Blake Crouch. It focuses on Secret Service agent Ethan Burke, played by Dillon, who is searching the town of Wayward Pines, Ind., for two missing federal agents.

Leo will play Nurse Pam, who takes care of Burke when he wakes up in the hospital, the story notes. It marks Leo's first TV role since the final season of HBO's "Treme." She won a supporting actress Oscar for "The Fighter," and was nominated for lead actress for the 2008 movie "Frozen River."

melissa-leo.jpgMelissa Leo

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Comedy Central Renews Sketch Comedy Show

Comedy Central has renewed a sketch comedy show. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel is bringing back "Inside Amy Schumer," which stars comedian Schumer.

Schumer on Monday tweeted the news about the show, which debuted last month with strong ratings. It attracted 1.6 million total viewers for its first episode, while drawing a 2.4 rating among men 18-34.

amy-schumer.jpgAmy Schumer

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Viacom's Sumner Redstone Turns 90 as His Stock Hits a High

Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone celebrated his 90th birthday on Monday, just as the company's stock hit an all-time high last week and its board voted to raise the cash dividend, reports the Los Angeles Times.

That dividend boost will give Redstone an additional $3.7 million per year in extra income, the story adds. The company raised the dividend to 30 cents a share, up from 27.5 cents. With Redstone's 40 million shares, that means his quarterly dividend payments will now total $48 million in cash over the course of a year.

That's above Redstone's compensation, with Viacom paying him $20.4 million last year in salary, bonus and stock benefits.

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Amanda Bynes Says She Will Sue the NYPD

Former Nickelodeon star Amanda Bynes is threatening to sue the New York Police Department after she was arrested for allegedly possessing marijuana and tossing evidence out the window, reports People magazine.

Bynes, 27, tweeted that she plans to sue the NYPD for "illegally entering my apartment, lying about drugs on me and lying about me tampering with non existent drug paraphernalia."

As previously reported, Bynes allegedly tossed a bong out her window.

In tweets following her arrest, she added, "Then I'm suing for being put into a mental hospital against my will, then locked up overnight for coming home after a facial and working out with my trainer like the good girl that I am."

She also told fans she planned to get "a nose job" and added that she's "looking forward to a long and wonderful career as a singer/rapper!"

She previously accused the officer who arrested her of sexual harassment, the report notes.

 

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If You Lived and Drove in Los Angeles Anytime Between 1968 and 1999, Chances Are You Knew This Familiar Voice. Longtime KNX Newsradio Anchor Harry Birrell, Recipient of Numerous Golden Mike Awards, Dies at 85

"Harry Birrell, 85, a radio reporter and news anchor whose deep bass voice was heard on KNX-AM (1070) for more than 30 years, died Saturday at his home in Thousand Oaks of complications from interstitial lung disease, said his son Walker," reports Claire Noland in the Los Angeles Times.

The story continues, "Birrell joined KNX in 1968 and was a regular weekday anchor on the all-news station until 1993, when he retired. But he continued to file daily reports of Ventura County news from his home in Thousand Oaks until January 1999." Birrell joined the station when it started its all-news format in the spring of 1968. Prior to that time KNX-AM's format was Middle of the Road (M.O.R.). 

The obituary adds, "The Radio and Television News Assn. of Southern California recognized Birrell with multiple Golden Mike awards for excellence in local broadcast journalism."

“ 'I have found my niche,' Birrell said in a Times interview in 1975. 'For me, this job is more than just reading the news. You’re looking at cold copy much of the time, putting things together, and there are always people dropping off new material. But it never gets routine. You never come to work knowing what’s going to happen from one minute to the next.'

To hear a snippet of Birrell reporting some old headlines, you can listen to a short podcast of Birrell's obituary on the KNX Newsradio site.

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Wow! Movie Box Office Totals Shatter Records Over Memorial Day Holiday Weekend

With an estimated take of $316 million over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, Hollywood shattered domestic box-office records.

"Over $300 million for Memorial Day weekend has never happened before," box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of Hollywood.com told Fox News.

Leading the holiday weekend in movie theaters was " 'Fast & Furious 6,' starring Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson, [which] grossed an estimated $120 million from Friday till Monday, making it the second-biggest film opening of the year behind Disney's 'Iron Man 3's' $175.3 million earlier this month," NBC News reported, adding that the movie was "the biggest opening film in Universal Pictures' history."

Speaking of "Iron Man 3," it has now brought in $1.14 billion in worldwide box-office receipts, moving it into the top-5 money-making movies of all time, reports Box Office Mojo, according to BBC News.

The only four movies that have been more successful at the box office, worldwide, according to the BBC story, are "Avatar," "Titanic" (both over $2 billion, worldwide), "The Avengers" and the last "Harry Potter" movie. "Iron Man 3" displaced 2011's "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," which previously held the No. 5 slot. To overtake "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" in the No. 4 slot, "Iron Man 3" needs to gross a total of $1.35 billion.

Here are the top 6 grossing movies over the Memorial Day Weekend in the U.S., according to Hollywood.com:

RankMovieGrossTheatersAvg.PerYTDDistributor
01 Fast & Furious 6$120.0M3,658$32,810$120.0MUniversal
02 The Hangover, Part 3$51.2M3,555$14,406$63.0MWarner Bros.
03 Star Trek: Into Darkness $47.0M3,907$12,030$155.8MParamount
04 Epic$42.6M3,882$10,974$42.6MFox
05 Iron Man 3 $24.35M3,424$7,112$372.4MDisney
06 The Great Gatsby$17.02M3,090$5,508$117.8MWarner Bros.

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Ed Shaughnessy, Who Played the Drums on 'The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson' for Almost 30 Years, Dead at 84. Wait'll You Watch This Awesome Must-See Video of Shaughnessy and Drummer Buddy Rich Playing a Duet From the 'Tonight Show' in 1978. Wow!

"Ed Shaughnessy, 84, whose mutton-chop whiskers and swinging rhythms made him one of the most famous drummers in jazz during his nearly three decades with Doc Severinsen's "Tonight Show" band, has died," reports the Los Angeles Times.

The story adds, "Shaughnessy had a heart attack Friday, May 24, 2013, at his Calabasas home, said William Selditz, a close family friend."

The Times' story notes that "An early advocate of bebop, Shaughnessy performed with Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, John McLaughlin, Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, and George Balanchine and the New York City Ballet."

Shaughnessy's obituary in The New York Times says, "Mr. Shaughnessy was a well-traveled and highly regarded jazz drummer when he was offered the 'Tonight' job in 1963, shortly after Johnny Carson had taken over as the show’s host. He had performed or recorded with Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Billie Holiday and numerous others. He had also worked for four years as a staff musician at CBS Television, and, remembering the tedium of that studio job, he was not sure he wanted another.

"He agreed to take the 'Tonight' gig for two weeks and see how he liked it. 'When I got up there,' he recalled in a 2004 interview for the Percussive Arts Society, 'and Doc Severinsen was the lead trumpet player, Clark Terry was sitting next to me in the jazz trumpet chair, and there were all these great players, I said, ‘My God, this is not your ordinary studio situation.’ ”

"Mr. Shaughnessy took the job and never left [until Carson himself retired in 1992]. He remained when Mr. Severinsen replaced Skitch Henderson as the bandleader in 1967 and when “The Tonight Show” moved from New York City to Burbank, Calif., in 1972." 

Here's a brief excerpt from an interview Shaughnessy did with JazzWax in 2012:

JazzWax: Johnny Carson loved the drums, didn’t he?
Ed Shaughnessy: Oh yes. Johnny played at home all the time. I helped him set up his drum set. He had played since he was a kid. He was a drummer in high school and a magician. He idolized Buddy Rich. Johnny told me that when he was at home, to unwind, he’d sit with his big headphones and play the drums along to his favorite big band albums. He said, “It relaxes me. I don’t think about the show or anything else.”

JW: Ever take a shot at writing a theme song?
ES: I did. I tried to write a theme for 'The Tonight Show' when Jay Leno took over, but it was rejected.

As a tribute to Shaughnessy, here's a must-see duet that he did with legendary drummer Buddy Rich that was featured on the "Tonight Show" on August 11, 1978. Once the video starts playing, Rich is the first drummer you'll see. In the side-by-side two-shots, Shaughnessy is on the left. In the video, Shaughnessy is 49 years old and Rich is 59. Rich died at age 69 of a heart attack. Having never seen this clip before, we actually applauded the computer screen when it was over!

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10 Fans Injured At NASCAR Race When Fox Sports TV Cable Falls On Track

"Charlotte Motor Speedway said 10 fans were injured today, Sunday, May 26, 2013,  at the Coca-Cola 600 and three of them were taken to the hospital after a nylon rope supporting a Fox Sports overhead television camera fell from the grandstands and landed on the track surface," reports Huffington Post Sports.

The story adds, "According to Speedway spokeswoman Danielle Frye the three people taken to the hospital had 'minor injuries that are not life threatening.' She said seven people were treated with 'minor cuts and scrapes' on site and released."

Here's an official statement about the incident from Fox Sports:

"At this time, we do not have a cause for the failure of the camera drive line that interrupted tonight’s Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and our immediate concern is with the injured fans.

"The camera system consists of three ropes -- a drive rope which moves the camera back and forth, and two guide ropes on either side. The drive rope failed near the Turn 1 connection and fell to the track. The camera itself did not come down because guide ropes acted as designed. A full investigation is planned, and use of the camera is suspended indefinitely.

"This camera system had been used successfully at this year’s Daytona 500, last week’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and other major events around the world. We certainly regret that the system failure affected tonight’s event, we apologize to the racers whose cars were damaged, and our immediate concern is for the race fans. We also offer a sincere ‘thank you’ to the staff at CMS for attending to the injuries and keeping us informed on this developing situation."

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Have a Few Spare Hours this Holiday Weekend? Watch TV Marathons or Mini-Marathons Featuring These Shows and 100s More: 'Deadliest Catch,' 'NCIS,' 'Freaks and Geeks,' 'Dr. Who,' 'Hatfields & McCoys' and 'Mad Men.' Plus a Big TV Marathon in 2 Weeks

One of the fun ways to spend some time relaxing during a holiday weekend such as Memorial Day weekend is to tune into some of the many marathons and mini-marathons on TV. Once again, we urge you to check out all of the TV marathons this weekend as compiled by Mike Vicic at TV Tango.

And if all of this weekend marathons weren't enough, here's a major 48-hour TV marathon set to start in two weeks, at 3 a.m. at the very beginning of Saturday morning, June 8th, 2013: It's a marathon of "Perry Mason," one of the most beloved shows in TV history. Doing the honors is the Hallmark Movie Channel. By the way, most weekends the Hallmark Movie Channel is also a favorite of baby-boomer insomniacs for its wee-hour airings of "Mr. Ed." [All we can say about that brilliant programming coup is a horse is a horse, of course, of course and no one can talk to a horse, of course, that is, of course unless the horse is the famous Mr. Ed."]

Some marathon highlights we culled from Vicic's TV Tango list for this weekend are as follows (all times Eastern Time. Check listings for other time zones):

"Deadliest Catch" from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday, May 25th on Discovery Channel

"NCIS" from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, May May 27th on USA Network

"Freaks & Geeks" from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, May 27th on IFC 

"Dr. Who" from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, May 26th on BBC America

"Hatfield & McCoys" mini-series from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. on Sunday, May 26th on History channel

"Mad Men " from 1:30 p.m to 1:15 a.m. on Sunday, May 26th on AMC

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Mike Darnell, Fox's President of Alternative Programming, Who Has Guided One of the Biggest Hits Ever on TV -- 'American Idol' -- for Its Entire Run, Is Leaving the Network

Mike Darnell, Fox's president of alternative programming (officially Fox calls it alternative "entertainment"), whose contract is up at the end of June, is leaving the network when his contract expires.

In a statement Darnell said, "I'm extremely grateful that Fox has offered me a new long-term contract (and anyone who knows me won't believe I'm saying this), but I've decided it's time for a change. With my current deal ending in June, and having been here for 18 years (kind of a record in Hollywood), I had to make a decision: either stay (and basically admit to myself I was going to retire at Fox...not a terrible choice) or leave and try something new. I've been in 'reality' since before it was even called that, and it has truly been an amazing ride. However, the world has changed drastically over the last few years and now with hundreds of channels and limitless ways to watch television, I've decided this was the perfect time to take advantage of the rapidly changing marketplace."

Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of Fox parent News Corp. also said in a statement, "Mike took risks at a critical time and was a pioneering force in shaping the reality programming genre that exists today. He's a smart and fearless executive who will be missed."

Writes our friend Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com, "Shortly after we broke the news of Fox president of Alternative Programming Mike Darnell’s decision to depart the network after 18 years, I got to speak to Darnell about the bombshell news. 'I remember considering leaving the last time,' he said. 'This happens every time my contract is up. It’s always an excruciating decision.' This time he couldn’t resist the temptation of other opportunities. 'I love it here, but there are all these other things out there.' What things is he most attracted to? 'I will take a little time to feel my way through, but it will be something that is creative and exciting that has a sense of entrepreneurship,' Darnell said, indicating that a career as a producer may be in the cards.

Andreeva's interview adds, " 'The last couple of years have been very intense, with me taking on duties of a current executive and line producer' Darnell admitted. As for his legacy, 'I’ve done good things, I’ve done bad things, I’ve done funny things and I’ve done evil things,' said Darnell, whose stature in the business is far greater than his 5’2″ height. Fox’s search for Darnell’s successor won’t be easy. 'They’ve got some some really small shoes to fill,' he quipped."

Mike Darnell.jpg

Fox' reality show guru Mike Darnell is leaving the network

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TVWeek Memorial Day Holiday Schedule

We're off Monday, Memorial Day, and will return with all of our products on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.

Meanwhile, if news breaks, we'll send out a TVWeek Extra Alert.

From our family to your family, we wish you a safe and fun Memorial Day holiday.

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Thursday Nights Sure Aren't What They Used to Be: New Shows Premiere to Feeble Numbers ... and a 1.7 Rating Wins the Night

On a night when shows on three different broadcast networks premiered to weak viewer numbers -- two series debuts and a season premiere -- a network that averaged a lowly 1.7 rating in the key 18-49 demo won the night, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that Fox easily won Thursday night in the demo with its 1.7 average for prime time, beating out CBS (1.4 average), Univision (1.3), ABC (1.2) and NBC (0.8). CBS, meanwhile, aired mostly repeat programming and still won total viewers, averaging 6.6 million to top ABC (5.3 million), Fox (4.3 million), Univision (3.4 million) and NBC (2.6 million).

The top show of the night was a CBS repeat of “The Big Bang Theory,” which delivered a 2.2 average in viewers 18-49 at 8 p.m.

Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen” was close behind with a 2.1 in the 18-49 demo, rising 17% from the show’s previous original. But Fox’s series premiere of “Someone’s Got to Go” was part of a bad night for premieres, managing only a 1.3.

Also making its series premiere was NBC’s “Save Me,” which racked up a dismal 0.7 in 18-49. A second episode followed, delivering another 0.7. NBC’s only other original was “Hannibal,” which equaled its series low with a 1.0, slipping 9% from a week ago.

ABC’s season premiere of “Rookie Blue” notched a 1.2 in adults 18-49, its lowest-ever season premiere and down 14% from its third-season premiere a year ago -- but it did manage to win the 10 p.m. hour against “Hannibal” and CBS’s rerun of “Elementary” (0.9).

Elsewhere on ABC, both “Wipeout” and “Motive” matched “Rookie Blue’s” 1.2 average in 18-49. “Wipeout” was up 20% from last week’s all-time low, while “Motive” slipped 8% from its airing Monday.

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Why a 'Star Trek' Legend Is Helping Out With a Kickstarter Project

One of the biggest stars of the original “Star Trek” television series has thrown his clout behind a new crowdsourced project, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock on the 1960s installment of "Star Trek," is endorsing a project from the show's original writers, David Gerrold and DC (Dorothy) Fontana, along with producer David C. Fein, the story reports.

The three are using Kickstarter to raise money to shoot and create a new science-fiction series called "The Star Wolf." So far, they've raised about $52,000 of the $650,000 they need to create the series.

Original "Star Trek" cast member Nichelle Nichols has agreed to play the recurring role of Admiral O'Hara.

In an endorsement posted on Kickstarter, Nimoy wrote, "The folks behind this project are people I've known for over 40 years. David Gerrold and Dorothy Fontana gave us some of the best writing we ever had on the original ‘Star Trek’ series. I, for one, will be eagerly looking forward to see what their creativity will offer us on 'The Star Wolf.'"

The project has also received an endorsement from Bill Prady, executive producer on 'The Big Bang Theory."

The project is based on Gerrold's book series, which tracks a crew caught up in an interplanetary war between humans and a race called the Morthans.

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ABC's 'Good Morning America' vs. NBC's 'Today': A 19-Year Milestone Is Chalked Up in Morning Ratings Wars

The ABC morning show "Good Morning America" is celebrating a ratings achievement that set a 19-year mark -- and it’s all about beating its NBC rival, the "Today" show.

“GMA” beat “Today” by 1.6 million viewers Wednesday morning, giving "GMA" its largest single-day margin over its rival in total viewership since May 18, 1994, reports Deadline.com.

"GMA" was helped by featuring the winners of "Dancing with the Stars" that morning, although, ironically, the prime-time dancing show had its lowest-rated finale ever on the previous night.

ABC's morning show drew 6.1 million total viewers, while "Today" was watched by 4.5 million. Until Wednesday, the biggest spread between the two shows in recent times was on Nov. 28, 2012, when "Good Morning America" drew 1.3 million more viewers than its NBC rival.

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Video: Kmart's Punny Ads Go Viral

Kmart's newest ad campaign has produced two ads in two months that have gone viral. Both rely on naughty sounding word puns.

The first one, below, called "Ship My Pants," has received more than 17 million views since it was posted online on April 10, 2013.

The one beneath it, "Big Gas Savings," has had close to 1.5 million views in the two and a half days since it was posted online on May 22, 2013.

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Former Nickelodeon Star Arrested on Felony Charge

A former Nickelodeon star was arrested Thursday night at her apartment in New York City. TMZ.com reports that Amanda Bynes was arrested for allegedly possessing marijuana and tossing evidence out the window.

A building official called police after reportedly seeing Bynes with a joint in the lobby, talking to herself and acting oddly, the story says. She allowed police to enter her apartment, but when they saw her bong, she tossed the pot-smoking device out the window, according to the report.

When police arrested her, Bynes reportedly went wild and yelled, "Don't you know who I am?" She was wearing a platinum blonde wig at the time, the piece adds.

Bynes was arrested for alleged criminal possession of marijuana, as well as reckless endangerment and felony tampering with evidence. She was reportedly taken to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation before going to the station.

Bynes starred in Nickelodeon shows in the 1990s and 2000s, including "The Amanda Show" and "All That," and has appeared in films such as "What a Girl Wants" and "She's the Man."

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Amanda Bynes

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Oscar and Grammy Winner in Talks to Become a Judge on 'Idol'; Former 'Idol' Champ Says She's Out of the Running

Two big names surfaced in connection with the “American Idol” judges’ jobs, with one former “Idol” winner saying she’s out of the running while another singer is reportedly in talks for a spot on the show.

TheWrap.com reports that Jennifer Hudson is in talks to join the Fox singing competition as a judge for its 13th season, which would mark her return to the show where she was finalist in season three. Her run on “Idol” helped launch her Oscar-winning film career and Grammy-winning recording career.

Hudson, who won an Oscar for “Dreamgirls,” is said to be interested in joining the show. Meanwhile, a representative for former "Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson told The Hollywood Reporter that the singer won't be judging the competition, after rumors emerged that she was in talks to join.

Fox declined to comment on Hudson's negotiations.

The show's producers are concerned they've lost their core audience, and want to bring back some former contestants to help win them back, TheWrap notes.

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Why a Renowned Director May End His Retirement to Direct Cinemax Series

A renowned feature film director may come out of retirement to take on "The Knick," a period series from Cinemax set in 1900 New York, reports Mike Fleming Jr. on Deadline.com.

Steven Soderbergh had announced he would retire after his final film, "Behind the Candelabra," which airs Sunday on HBO. But now he's talking about joining "The Knick," with Soderbergh potentially directing all the episodes as well as executive producing with Clive Owen, who is starring in the project.

"While this might make some ... look cynically on Soderbergh’s 'retirement,' he told me the other day in an interview for the Michael Douglas-Matt Damon Liberace movie that for the moment, he has shut the door on feature films," Fleming writes.

Fleming adds: "I can see that he likes the energy present in pay and basic cable TV, and it would be like him to try helping rebrand Cinemax by giving that network an event series, rather than setting it at HBO, which has a wealth of great series already."

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Cablevision Calls Cops on Protesters

Cablevision Chief Executive James Dolan called the police on protesters at the company's annual meeting, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The protesters were shareholders with ties to the Communications Workers of America, a union that's been in a labor dispute with Cablevision, the story notes. Dolan asked the protesters to leave several times before he called the cops.

"The CWA and Cablevision have been locked in a contentious contract dispute regarding a group of Brooklyn workers for over a year,” The Journal reports. “The CWA has accused Cablevision of illegally firing 22 Brooklyn employees who chose to join the union more than a year ago. Cablevision says it replaced them because they were refusing to work and has since rehired them, according to a Cablevision spokesman."

Annual meetings are usually fairly quiet, as The Journal notes. Cablevision said in a statement after the meeting that the union had "attempted to disrupt the meeting" and that authorities were now handling the matter.

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'Survivor' Winner Lands Job Writing for CBS Comedy

The winner of CBS's most recent season of "Survivor" has been hired as a writer for one of the network's new comedies. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that John Cochran made the announcement on Twitter.

"I'm thrilled to announce that I'm going to be a writer on the new CBS sitcom 'The Millers,'" Cochran wrote.

The comedy, from Greg Garcia, stars Will Arnett as a recently divorced man whose parents move in with him. It also stars Emmy-winning actress Margo Martindale, known for her role on "Justified."

Cochran studied law at Harvard, but revealed his dream to become a writer during the live reunion show of "Survivor," which aired on May 12.

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Broadcasters Go After Aereokiller in D.C. Court

Broadcast networks have filed a lawsuit against Aereokiller in an effort to prevent the company from providing streaming video of broadcast programming in the Washington, D.C., market, Variety reports.

The move is “the latest effort to challenge the legality of a bevy of services seeking to provide over-the-air television on the Internet,” the story reports. “Fox, NBC, ABC and Allbritton Communications filed a claim in U.S. District Court in Washington against Aereokiller, the provocatively named company founded by FilmOn’s Alki David. The name comes from Aereo, the startup financed by Barry Diller that has so far prevailed in court against broadcasters’ efforts to halt its streaming service in the New York market.”

Aereo uses a system of dime-sized antennas to beam programming to subscribers, the piece notes.

Variety reports: “Aereokiller, too, uses tiny antennas, according to David, but it faced a different fate in the Los Angeles market. When the networks challenged the legality of Aereokiller in L.A., a federal court ruled in favor of the broadcasters, prohibiting the company from stealing their signals in the western states of the Ninth Circuit. That put the decision in conflict with that of the New York federal courts, raising the prospect that the case will eventually end up in the Supreme Court.”

With both Aereo and Aereokiller planning to expand their services, broadcasters are eager to halt those plans.

In a joint statement, the broadcasters said: “Our complaint filed today in the federal district court for the District of Columbia underscores our commitment to vigorously protect our copyrighted programming from illegal appropriation by opportunistic pirates.”

Variety adds: “Having expanded into Dallas, Miami and other cities as well, David has insisted that Aereokiller’s streaming is legal, and is appealing in the Ninth Circuit in California.”

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ABC Family Orders Spelling-Bee Show

A spelling bee-themed game show called "Spell-Mageddon" has been ordered by ABC Family for a summer debut, reports TheWrap.

The show adds distractions to the traditional spelling bee. The program is executive produced by Adam Reed, Adam Freeman and Leslie Greif of Thinkfactory Media, which has produced "Hatfields & McCoys."

The show will join ABC Family's Wednesday night comedy lineup starting July 24.

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HBO Signs Overall Deal With Russell Simmons

Music and TV producer Russell Simmons has signed a two-year overall deal with HBO, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Simmons will develop new projects for the network, which was home to his "Def Comedy Jam," which ran from 1992-97 and from 2006-08 and is credited with helping several African-American comedians get their start.

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Girls Gone Wild Founder Apologizes for 'Hurtful' Remarks, but Also Blames the Media

Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis apologized for his "hurtful" remarks made during an interview in which he called jurors who convicted him "retarded" and said they should be shot by firing squad, reports the Los Angeles Times' ShowTracker.

As previously reported, Francis gave a profanity-laced interview to The Hollywood Reporter one day after he was found guilty of false imprisonment of three women in his Bel-Air home. He called the jurors "mentally f---ing retarded and you should be euthanized because, as Darwin said, you have naturally selected yourself."

In his apology, Francis said he regretted making the comments. "They were hurtful and do not reflect my true feelings. While I disagree with the jury's verdict as I am completely innocent of the charges and intend to appeal, I was afforded a fair trial, and if I lose at the appellate level, I will reluctantly but fully accept the jury's verdict."

But he added that the quotes were picked from a six-hour interview about his trial and life, and complained that the comments were "manipulated" by the media, the Times notes.

"My comments are appalling, but anyone who has ever been wrongfully convicted of a crime that they did not commit would be as frustrated as I am," Francis said.

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Boy Scouts National Council Votes to Lift Ban on Gay Youth. Check Out the Voting Totals

 "The Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday to end its controversial policy banning gay kids and teens from joining one of the nation's most popular youth organizations, ditching membership guidelines that had roiled the group in recent years,"reports NBC News.

According to the story. "Over 61 percent of Scouting's National Council of 1,400 delegates from across the country voted to lift the ban, BSA officials said. The final tally was 757 yes votes, to 475 no. The ban on gay leaders was not voted on and will remain in place."

The article adds, "The policy change will go into effect Jan. 1, 2014, 'allowing the Boy Scouts of America the transition time needed to communicate and implement this policy to its approximately 116,000 Scouting units,' the BSA said in a statement."

The story also makes the observation that "[T]he outcome of the historic ballot is not going to end the debate: Some opponents on the right said they would pull their sponsorships of packs and troops, and parents threatened to take their boys out of Scouting; LGBT activists said the policy change doesn't go far enough because gay adults still wouldn't be allowed to participate."

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Long-Running Cable Series Canceled

A cable series that has had a 13-season run has been canceled. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that A&E is giving up on “Intervention.”

The docuseries’ final five episodes will be televised starting June 13.

David McKillop, executive VP of programming at A&E Network and Bio Channel, said in today’s announcement: “As ‘Intervention’ comes to an end, we’re proud to have paved the way for such an original and groundbreaking series. We’re honored to have been a part of the 243 interventions since its premiere in March of 2005, leading to the 156 individuals that are currently sober to this day.”

THR adds that the final five episodes “will feature what the cable network dubs its most ‘intense’ and ‘gripping’ stories yet. During its run, ‘Intervention’ earned two Emmy nominations for outstanding reality series, taking home the statuette in 2009.”

The cancellation follows by a year A&E’s cancellation of another one of its signature reality shows, “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” which wrapped after eight seasons, the piece notes.

“The cancellation comes as A&E has found watercooler and ratings success with docuseries ‘Duck Dynasty,’ which in April topped ‘American Idol’ with its record-breaking finale ratings,” THR adds. “The season finale drew a record 9.6 million viewers and 5.5 million among adults 18-49.”

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Video: Morgan Freeman Dozes Off During TV Interview

A TV interview featuring Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine promoting their new movie “Now You See Me” caught Freeman apparently catching a few Z’s, USA Today reports.

During the interview Wednesday on Fox's Seattle-Tacoma affiliate KCPQ-TV, Freeman, 75, appears to doze off while Caine, 80, is chatting with anchors Kaci Aitchison and Bill Wixey about the magic tricks featured in the movie.

“It didn't prevent Caine from merrily explaining the tricks in the film,” the story reports. “Freeman woke to nod now and then. And when he [was] asked the question: ‘What is the key to being a great narrator?,’ Freeman responded with, ‘Uh, probably just being a good reader.’"

Here’s the clip:

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Shakeup for Broadcast Drama Series, With Co-Creator/Exec Producer/Co-Showrunner Exiting the Show

Changes are taking place behind the scenes of a broadcast drama series. Deadline.com’s Nellie Andreeva reports that co-creator/executive producer/co-showrunner Stephanie SenGupta has left the CW series “Reign.”

SenGupta’s departure leaves co-creator/executive producer Laurie McCarthy as the series’ sole showrunner, the report notes.

Andreeva adds: “The move is not completely unexpected as there had been chatter that the two didn’t quite see eye to eye. SenGupta, who I hear originally came up with the idea for ‘Reign’ many years ago, is moving on to focus on creating a new show on her own.”

SenGupta has recently worked as co-executive producer on the CBS drama “Hawaii Five-0,” and was previously involved in the “Law & Order” franchise.

“The CBS TV Studios-produced ‘Reign,’ a soapy reimagining of the teenage years of Mary Queen of Scots in the French Court, is one of the buzziest new CW series and landed the coveted post-‘Vampire Diaries’ slot on the fall schedule,” Andreeva notes.

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Not Much to Cheer About for the Broadcast Nets on a Night of Season Finales

On a night of season finales, one show had its season premiere Wednesday night, and its numbers were down from a year ago, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that Fox’s “MasterChef” debuted with a 2.0 average in viewers 18-49, down 13% from its season premiere last year. The one-hour episode was followed by a second installment, which improved to a 2.2 average.

ABC’s three season finales had mixed results, with “Nashville” delivering a highlight: a 1.9 in the 18-49 demo, the series’ best number since Jan. 16 and a 12% improvement from a week ago. The finale of “Modern Family” was the top show of the night with a 3.6, although that number was down 12% from the year-ago finale, down 3% from last week and the show’s lowest-ever season finale.

ABC’s season finale of “The Middle” matched last year’s season finale with a 2.0 in 18-49, rising 5% from a week ago. Also on ABC, “How to Live With Your Parents” rose 10% from last week to a 2.2.

CBS’s two-hour season finale of “Criminal Minds” delivered a 2.7 average in adults 18-49, off 25% from last year’s season finale while rising 4% from a week ago. CBS filled out the prime-time schedule with repeats of “Two and a Half Men” (1.1) and “Mike & Molly” (1.2).

NBC aired two season finales, with “Law & Order: SVU” falling 20% from last year’s finale to a 1.6 average in 18-49, a 7% uptick from last week, while “Chicago Fire” lost 15% from a week ago for a 1.7. NBC opened prime time with “Dateline,” which rose 8% from a week ago to a 1.4.

Prime time overall was a virtual dead heat among three networks in the 18-49 demo, with CBS and ABC averaging 2.2 ratings and Fox keeping pace with a 2.1. NBC trailed with a 1.6 average. CBS won total viewers, averaging 9.0 million to ABC’s 6.9 million, NBC’s 6.3 million and Fox’s 5.2 million.

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Jennifer Aniston Plays a Stripper in Her New Movie -- Here's the Trailer

“Friends” veteran Jennifer Aniston appears to be keeping in shape, which is important because she plays a stripper in her upcoming movie, “We’re the Millers.”

The racy comedy opens Aug. 9, but Warner Bros. has just rolled out the trailer. Here it is:

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Nat Geo Orders Series About Fixing Churches

A reality show about helping out struggling churches has been ordered by National Geographic Channel for a summer debut, reports Deadline.com.

Called "Divine Intervention," the six-episode unscripted series will feature a group of "Church Hoppers" who try to turn around struggling congregations by using tough love. The show is from T Group Productions, which is behind shows such as "Storage Hunters" and "Mystery Diners."

The program is described as “’Kitchen Nightmares’ for churches,” the piece notes.

 

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Veteran TV and Film Actor -- Who Coined a Catchphrase in a Popular TV Show in the '70s -- Dead at 87

An actor who carved out a long string of credits in both movies and television, winning a Golden Globe in 1954, has died. Steve Forrest, who starred as Lt. Dan "Hondo" Harrelson on the ABC series "S.W.A.T.," died May 18 in Thousand Oaks, Calif., according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 87.

Forrest was often cast as the leading man or "heavy" during his 60 years of acting, and had a special affinity for Westerns, taking on guest-starring roles in TV classics such as "The Virginian," "Bonanza" and "Gunsmoke."

He won a Golden Globe Award as most promising male newcomer for the feature film “So Big” in 1954. He went on to a starring role opposite Anne Baxter in “Bedevilled” in 1955, worked with Elvis Presley and Barbara Eden in “Flaming Star” in 1960, and had a big role in the Faye Dunaway vehicle “Mommie Dearest” in 1981, among many other film roles.

His role as Harrelson on the 1970s series "S.W.A.T.," produced by Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg, endeared him to American TV viewers, especially with his catchphrase, "Let's roll!," the report notes. His character was often seen with a bullhorn shouting out the signature phrase.

He played the title role in the 1960s U.K. series “The Baron,” appearing as the show’s “Baron” John Mannering during its one-season run.

Forrest resurfaced in a cameo as the van driver in the 2003 film version of “S.W.A.T.,” which starred Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Farrell.

steve-forrest.jpgSteve Forrest

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Legendary Guitarist -- Who Wrote 'We Will Rock You' -- Says Why 'The Voice' Doesn't Rock Him, Calling It 'the Ultimate Insult to Music'

A famous rock guitarist served up a scathing appraisal of the singing competition format “The Voice,” calling it "absolutely the dullest, dumbest, most depressing program on TV” and “the ultimate insult to music and to performers.”

Brian May, who earned “legend” status as the guitarist for Queen, shredded the show in a recent blog post. May, who composed songs including "We Will Rock You" and “Fat Bottomed Girls” and is ranked on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, wrote that the show makes him "feel sick."

May’s critique was aimed at the U.K. version of the show, which stars singer Tom Jones. May added, "I hate seeing the great Tom Jones shoehorned into this scenario … it seems to deprive everyone who takes part of their dignity."

May continued, "It brings singing down to the level of a stupid obstacle course. ... This is not -- NOT -- what music is about.”

May also wrote: "When we sing, or play, for real, we are NOT screaming at the top of our lungs trying to persuade someone to notice us. We have messages, we have subtle emotions, we have beauty, which can only be shared by a performer in front of an audience whose whole attention is already freely given. The performance is all about EVERYTHING the performer gives … in voice, in sound, in body language, in facial expression, in intimate eye contact. This stupid, stupid idea that someone can JUDGE a singer by turning his back on him, and missing out on proper contact, is, to me, a fatuous nonsense. And actually poisonous to the growth of young performers."

He added that he hopes the show "dies a natural death very soon."

brian-may.jpgBrian May

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'Arrested Development' Creator Mitch Hurwitz's Urgent Message to Show's Fans: Forget What He Said Before

When the new episodes of "Arrested Development" were conceived, creator Mitch Hurwitz said viewers would be able to watch the installments on Netflix in any order they wanted, but now he has an urgent message for fans: Scratch that, reports New York Magazine.

The new episodes go live on Netflix on Sunday at 12:01 a.m. PT, the story notes.

"I’m really doing everything I can to put out that misconception that it can be watched in any order,” Hurwitz told the publication. “Although I really did have that ambition at one point.”

He added: "Not only will the episodes be available at the same time on Netflix, but they also cover the same period of time in the characters’ lives. So it seemed like, yeah, you should be able to jump in in any order and see George Michael’s episode and then maybe Buster’s episode, if you want, and see what each of them is doing.”

In post-production, though, he realized that ambition wouldn't work, because the gags that unroll across episodes wouldn't work if they weren't viewed in the right order, the story says.

"Our brains like to make stories out of things, and that requires order," Hurwitz said. "I pretty quickly realized everything here is about the order of telling the stories, that there will be shows where you find out a little bit of information and then later shows where you revisit the scene and you find out more information -- and that’s not fun in reverse. To get more information first and then less information isn’t as interesting. I thought, OK, this may not be up for debate.”

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Young Actress -- Part of a Famous Family of Actors -- Joins 'American Horror Story'

The latest addition to FX’s "American Horror Story: Coven" will be a young actress who is part of a famous acting family. TVLine.com reports that Emma Roberts, the daughter of actor Eric Roberts and the niece of Julia Roberts, is close to a deal to join the drama series.

The news comes after Fox passed on Roberts’ pilot "Delirium." In “Coven,” Roberts, 22, will play Madison, a party girl who's into herself. With the casting, she will play opposite her real-life boyfriend, actor Evan Peters.

"Coven" will include returning actors such as Jessica Lange and Frances Conroy, as well as new stars including Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett and Patti LuPone.

emma-roberts2.jpgEmma Roberts

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Why CBS Just Renewed One of Its Annual Specials, Despite the Fact That the Most Recent Edition of the Show Had Its Lowest Ratings in 21 Years

Believe it or not, sometimes it is NOT all about the ratings. 

For example, CBS just renewed an annual special it has been airing for 35 years, despite the fact that the last time the special aired its ratings hit a 21-year low.

The annual special that CBS has just renewed through 2018 its the Tony Awards, reports The New York Times.

The announcement comes just three weeks before CBS's telecast June 9 of the annual theater awards ceremony, which will feature one of the network’s stars, Neil Patrick Harris, returning to host the event.

"For CBS, the Tony Awards show is much more of a prestige item for its summer programming schedule than a potential ratings boon,” The Times reports. “Last year’s edition, with Mr. Harris, hit a 21-year low in the ratings, drawing only about 6 million viewers."

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NBC, With Popular Judge on 'The Voice,' Putting Together Benefit Concert for Oklahoma Victims

NBC is planning a relief concert in support of Oklahoma's tornado victims with "The Voice" judge and state native Blake Shelton, reports Deadline.com.

If the plans come together, the concert will be held early next week.

"Details about the performances are sketchy, but it’s anticipated that several of Shelton’s 'Voice' co-judges would be involved,” the report notes. “Shelton performed a song with wife Miranda Lambert during [Tuesday] night’s live episode of 'The Voice' as Red Cross donation information played on the screen. TV benefits like this can come together quickly."

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If You're a 'Walking Dead' Fan, AMC's Boss Has Good News for You

AMC Networks Chief Executive Josh Sapan had some heartening words for fans of "The Walking Dead" when he spoke Wednesday at a media conference, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Speaking of the ending of AMC's "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men," Sapan said, "We’ll all suffer from some minor heartbreak when these shows come to a natural close."

But he added that he sees much more life left in the zombie series "The Walking Dead," which is in its third season.

Said Sapan: "We hope that zombies live forever and we’ve just begun to find out what the post-apocalyptic world is like, so that we’ll be sitting here at the Barclays conference in 2022 discussing the fact that 'Walking Dead' is not over. ... At that point, I think any one of the companies will have replaced the United States government and we’ll be in a complete free enterprise world in which there are no nations.”

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Backstreet Boy Working on Reality Show

One of the Backstreet Boys has a reality series in the works. Deadline.com reports that the show will star and be executive produced by Nick Carter, tracking him as he tries to make amends for his past and get ready for his wedding.

The unscripted production company Bischoff-Hervey Entertainment is shopping the docu-series, which also stars Carter's fiancee, Lauren Kitt. The show coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Backstreet Boys, who will release a new album in July.

Nick-Carter.jpgNick Carter

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Will 'Freaks and Geeks' Get a Second Act, a la 'Arrested Development'?

With "Arrested Development" returning with new episodes on Netflix after a seven-year hiatus, the Los Angeles Times asks why a similar feat couldn't be undertaken for another cult hit, "Freaks and Geeks."

Asking "Freaks and Geeks" creator Paul Feig the question, he answered that the problem would be with the cast, which included James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel and Linda Cardellini.

"Oh, we couldn't afford them," Feig told the publication. "It'd be the most expensive cast ever."

Feig added that, in his opinion, the issues would go deeper than money.

"You know, Mitch Hurwitz is just braver than I am," Feig says, referring to the "Arrested Development" creator. "I've never seen a good reunion -- in real life or on film. There's always something that's wrong. Half the time, you're just thinking, 'Oh, look how old they are.'"

Feig added, "Never say never. I love them all. But we're probably best served leaving the past behind."

 

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Andy Roddick Joins New Sports Network

Retired tennis pro Andy Roddick has a new television job. Deadline.com reports that Roddick, the champion of the 2003 U.S. Open, is joining the new Fox Sports 1 network, which will debut Aug. 17.

Roddick will co-host "Fox Sports Live," the network’s flagship news and highlights show, joining Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole, who were previously tapped as the primary highlight team, the piece adds.

Fox Sports 1 is aiming to turn "Fox Sports Live" into the network's version of ESPN's "SportsCenter." Roddick has been one of the top male U.S. tennis players for years, but retired last August at the age of 30.

 

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'GMA' Anchor Robin Roberts Writing a Memoir; Another TV Host Also Has a Book in the Works

Robin Roberts, whose battle with a rare blood disorder was chronicled on the morning show she hosts, ABC’s "Good Morning America," has inked a deal to write about her struggle in a new memoir, reports The New York Times.

The untitled book will be released in April 2014. Her publisher, Hachette's Grand Central Publishing, said the book would focus on her illnesses (she was previously treated for breast cancer), as well as "the life lessons she continues to learn, and her inspiring return to the ‘GMA’ anchor desk.”

Separately, CNN's Piers Morgan has also set a deal to write a memoir, which will be released in October, reports TVNewser.

Morgan’s book is called "Shooting Straight: Guns, Gays, God, and George Clooney," and will focus on his time at CNN. It will be written in a diary format similar to his last memoir, "The Insider."

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Angelina Jolie Turns Down All TV Interviews About Her Double Mastectomy

Angelina Jolie has turned down all TV interviews, including a request from NBC News' Ann Curry, with whom she has a long-standing relationship, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

After Curry was ousted from "Today," Jolie let it be known that she wouldn't talk with anyone else from NBC. But even though NBC pushed to get the first interview with Jolie following her New York Times' piece about her surgery, the actress turned down Curry, as well as every other news outlet, the story says.

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CBS, Looking to Replace a Retiring Hit, Orders 'Bad Teacher' to Series -- the Network's Sixth New Sitcom for Fall 2013

[Updated at 3:03 p.m. PT on May 22, 2013 to say it's CBS' sixth new sitcom it's ordered, not its fifth. A spokesperson for CBS called us with this correct informaton, saying that THR was wrong when it said it was the fifth new sitcom ordered.]

CBS has given a series order to “Bad Teacher,” Hilary Winston’s adaptation of the 2011 Cameron Diaz feature film, The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

The show stars Ari Graynor of “Fringe” as “a sexy, foul-mouthed divorcee who becomes a teacher in order to find her next husband,” THR reports. “’Community's’ Winston penned the pilot and executive produces alongside Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, who penned the screenplay for the film. Sam Hansen, Jimmy Miller and Sara Rodier also exec produce the Sony Pictures Television and Mosaic single-camera comedy.”

The order is the sixth by CBS of a comedy series for 2013-14, after the network ordered just two for 2012-13. “It comes at a time when CBS is bulking up on comedy offerings as the network looks to find a replacement for ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ which will come to an end after its upcoming ninth season,” the piece reports.

CBS plans to launch an expanded two-hour comedy block on Thursday nights, with “The Millers,” from Greg Garcia, and David E. Kelley's new Robin Williams-Sarah Michelle Gellar series joining “The Big Bang Theory.” Monday’s comedy entries will include “Mom,” new from Chuck Lorre and starring Anna Faris, and the Tony Shalhoub vehicle “We Are Men.”

“For its part, ‘Bad Teacher’ comes with built-in name recognition, with the feature co-starring Justin Timberlake grossing more than $216 million worldwide,” the report notes. “CBS's adaptation also boasts a recognizable cast in co-stars Ryan Hansen (‘Veronica Mars’), David Alan Grier (‘In Living Color’), Sara Gilbert (‘The View,’ ‘Roseanne’) and Kristin Davis (‘Sex and the City’).”

The sale marks the eighth this season for Sony Pictures Television, the piece notes.

THR adds: “CBS also has James Van Der Beek entry ‘Friends With Better Lives’ on the bench for midseason.”

ari-graynor.jpgAri Graynor 

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Historically Bad Ratings for Reality Show's Finale

A major broadcast reality series chalked up the worst ratings in its history for a season finale Tuesday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that ABC’s two-hour “Dancing with the Stars” finale generated a 2.6 average rating in the demo, losing 21% from last year’s finale.

However, the number was up 44% from what the show delivered last week. And ABC managed a second-place finish for the night behind NBC, even with ABC’s “The Bachelor’s Funniest Moments” pulling only a 1.2 in viewers 18-49.

NBC was paced by “The Voice,” which slipped 11% from last week to settle for a 3.1 in the 18-49 demo, the show’s lowest-rated Tuesday installment of the season. NBC got a 2.0 out of its news special “Devastation in Oklahoma,” the only one of the Big Four broadcasters to run a prime-time special on the tornado disaster.

NBC’s season finale of “Grimm” was up 6% from the finale a year ago, delivering a 1.7 in adults 18-49, matching last week’s number.

Fox’s two-hour “So You Think You Can Dance” was good enough for third place on a night when CBS aired all-repeat programming. “Dance” delivered a 1.9 in the 18-49 demo, matching the number for last week’s one-hour premiere.

CBS aired repeats of “NCIS: Los Angeles” (1.3 average in 18-49) and two episodes of “NCIS” (1.3 and 1.4).

For prime time overall, NBC led the way with a 2.3 average in viewers 18-49, followed by ABC (2.1 average), Fox (1.9), Univision (1.4) and CBS (1.3). ABC pulled ahead in total viewers, averaging 11.5 million to lead NBC (7.8 million), CBS (7.5 million), Fox (4.6 million) and Univision (3.5 million).

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NBC Brings Aboard Former MTV Exec

NBC is bringing aboard a former MTV programming boss to help out with development. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that David Janollari is joining NBC, less than a year after he exited as MTV’s head of programming.

Janollari has signed a three-year pact to develop scripted programming for the Peacock Network, THR reports.

“The pact reunites Janollari -- the former president of the WB Network -- with NBC Entertainment President Bob Greenblatt, with whom he developed ‘Six Feet Under,’ ‘Elvis’ and ‘American Family,’ among others,” the story reports.

Bela Bajaria, Universal Television executive VP, said: "Our goal is to make deals with the best creative producers in our business and David Janollari exemplifies this. Not only have I had the pleasure of working with him when he was a producer in the trenches, but he also has experience as an executive at three different networks, which gives him added insight into the complexities and ever-changing programming needs of our industry at this moment. We’re thrilled to welcome him to the Universal Television family.”

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David Janollari

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He's Back: Billy Crystal to Star in TV Comedy

Billy Crystal has a new sitcom that marks his return to television. The New York Times reports that the comedy veteran will star in “The Comedians,” a pilot in the works at FX.

Crystal will play “a once-great comic who tries to keep his career going by pairing up with a younger comic in a late-night sketch comedy show,” the story reports.

The piece adds: “If additional episodes of the show are produced, as is highly likely given Mr. Crystal’s profile, they would be the first regular television work for Mr. Crystal since he was a cast member on ‘Saturday Night Live’ in 1984.”

One of the project’s creators is writer-director Larry Charles, known for “Seinfeld,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and the feature film “Borat.” Charles is set to direct the pilot for the new project, which is based on a Swedish format.

“FX has recently split its programming genres into two separate channels, with one devoted to comedy,” The Times notes. “The network already gained a reputation for innovative comedy with shows like ‘Louie’ and ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.’”

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Billy Crystal

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Girls Gone Wild Mogul, After Being Found Guilty of False Imprisonment, Goes on Profanity-Laced Tirade

Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis, one day after he was found guilty of the false imprisonment of three women in his home in Bel-Air, gave a profanity-laced interview to The Hollywood Reporter in which he railed against the jurors in his case and a number of other detractors.

Directing his comments at the jurors, Francis is quoted as saying: "I want that jury to know that each and every one of you are mentally f---ing retarded and you should be euthanized because, as Darwin said, you have naturally selected yourself. You are the weakest members of the herd. Goodbye! And if that jury wants to convict me because I didn't show up, which is the only reason why they did, then, you know, they should all be lined up and shot!"

“Just the day before, a Los Angeles jury deemed the Girls Gone Wild founder guilty on three counts of false imprisonment and one of assault likely to cause great bodily injury, and now he faces the real possibility of time in prison when he is sentenced in July (though he notes the charges are misdemeanors, not felonies),” THR reports. “It's the latest brush with the law for a man who could write a treatise on running afoul of it, who keeps a veritable posse of lawyers in his employ at any given time. But Francis is adamant he is innocent of the allegations brought against him on behalf of three young women, who said he took them to his house, kept them there and even assaulted one.”

Francis continued his attack on the jury -- and the jury system -- in the exclusive THR interview, saying: "The problem with the jury system is that anyone who's not smart enough to come with an excuse to get out of jury duty doesn't get out. Only the stupidest of the stupidest people end up on juries, you know? I've never met a smart person who's done jury duty."

THR adds: “Francis has been jailed in Florida and Nevada; successfully sued for defamation by Las Vegas mogul Steve Wynn, whom he now owes $20 million; indicted for tax evasion and filming underage girls; blamed for the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing of a company connected to Girls Gone Wild (which he says he no longer owns); and banned from entering GGW's Santa Monica offices by bankruptcy trustee R. Todd Neilson, who filed suit to keep Francis off the premises.”

But Francis denies responsibility for all of it, THR reports.

Said Francis: "You know why I've been criticized, why I've been brutalized? Anybody who criticizes me, anybody who -- it's just a jealous guy. Everybody who says, 'Oh, Joe Francis is this' -- look at their penis and tell me if it's small. Tell me!"

He also offered this explanation for why people seem to have it in for him: "I have private jets, I have a great life, I'm a good-looking guy. I'm not conceited, but like -- look, I have girls around me all the time, whatever I want. I make a lot of money. It's a great life. If I wasn't me, I'd f---ing hate me."

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Joe Francis

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Emmy Award-Winning CBS News Reporter Says Her Computers Are Under Investigation

An Emmy Award-winning CBS News investigative reporter said that her personal and work computers are under investigation after being compromised. Politico reports that CBS’s Sharyl Attkisson made the revelation.

"I can confirm that an intrusion of my computers has been under some investigation on my end for some months but I'm not prepared to make an allegation against a specific entity today as I've been patient and methodical about this matter," Attkisson told the publication. "I need to check with my attorney and CBS to get their recommendations on info we make public."

Attkisson said she didn't know the full details, but told WPHT, a CBS Radio station in Philadelphia, that there could be a relationship between it and "what's happened to James [Rosen]," the Fox News reporter who came under investigation by the Justice Department after reporting on classified information, the story says.

We reported Tuesday about the James Rosen story.

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Longtime TV Character Actor, Known for Landmark Role on 'Mary Hartman,' Dead at 90

A character actor who appeared on TV shows including "Dallas" and "Lou Grant" has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Laurence Haddon was 90.

Haddon had a landmark role as a gay man on "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman," one of the first non-stereotypical gay characters on TV, the story notes. In one episode from 1976, neighbors catch him kissing another man, whom they had believed was his brother. The couple later talks about getting married.

Haddon appeared as J.R. Ewing's banker Franklin Horner on "Dallas" and as the foreign editor on "Lou Grant." Other TV appearances included "Dr. Kildare," "Hill Street Blues" and "The Rockford Files."

laurence-haddon.jpgLaurence Haddon

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Disney Channel Pulls Episode of 'Jessie' After Viewer Complaints

An episode of "Jessie" has been pulled by Disney Channel, after some viewers complained about the episode’s mocking of a character's gluten intolerance, TVLine reports.

"[W]e received your feedback about tonight’s 'Jessie' episode which some of you accessed early on Video-on-Demand,” the network said in a statement posted on Facebook. “We are removing this particular episode from our regular programming schedule and will re-evaluate its references to gluten restrictions in the character’s diet. Please accept our apologies for the upset this episode caused you and your family.”

The episode found Jessie, a nanny for a wealthy family, minding one of her charge's friends, who follows a gluten-free diet. Jokes were made at the condition’s expense, including pancakes being thrown at the child, who yelled, "Gluten!," the story says.

A petition on Change.org suggests the episode encourages bullying and objects to the portrayal of the character as "annoying, sniveling and demanding, repeatedly teased and excluded by the other children.”

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Critics' Choice TV Awards Nominations: Two Cable Channels Distance Themselves From the Pack

The Broadcast Television Journalists Association announced the nominations for the third annual Critics’ Choice Television Awards, and two cable channels were the clear front-runners.

HBO, with 21 nominations, leads the way, followed closely by FX with 19. The broadcast networks are next in the pecking order: CBS will 11 nominations, ABC with 10 and Fox and NBC with nine each. Also strong: AMC and Sundance with seven nominations each, USA with six and BBC America and Showtime with five apiece.

Among shows, FX’s “American Horror Story: Asylum” and CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” lead the way with six apiece, while NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” and Sundance’s “Top of the Lake” come in with five each.

Best Comedy Series will be a battle among “The Big Bang Theory,” FX’s “Louie,” ABC’s “The Middle,” Fox’s “New Girl,” “Parks and Recreation” and HBO’s “Veep.”

Nominees for Best Drama Series are FX’s “The Americans,” AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” PBS’s “Downton Abbey,” HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” CBS’s “The Good Wife” and Showtime’s “Homeland.”

The awards will be presented June 10 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Click here for the full list of nominees.

 

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Wife of Drama Series Crew Member Warns of 'Emotional Toll' of Work in TV Industry

In an open letter to the entertainment industry, the wife of a key production person on a broadcast drama series warns of the “emotional toll” from working in the TV industry.

Micaela Bensko, the wife of Don Bensko, production supervisor on ABC’s “Nashville,” wrote the letter after her husband and some of his colleagues were let go as the show retools for its second season, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The letter warns of the industry's emotional toll, given its long hours. She also wrote that Lionsgate TV, the show's producer, had replaced her husband and others without "a phone call or a thank you for all they had done.”

As Micaela Bensko puts it in her letter: “You know you've made it in Hollywood, when a studio replaces your team, and doesn't even bother to call.”

The letter adds: “The studios will argue they must shoot long hours because of their budget, the deadlines, the people that call them at midnight. The reality is, nothing is important when the humanity in the process is lost.”

The show is undergoing changes after "Nashville" became the only freshman drama on ABC to receive a renewal, reports Deadline.com. Most of the changes being made in preparation for the second season are taking place in the production and post-production areas, including replacing production supervisor Bensko and his team, the story says.

"Changes on 'Nashville' were expected following a rocky freshman season, with the show going through growing pains and struggling with its creative direction as well as the ratings," Deadline reports.

Micaela Bensko notes that one of the biggest problems for her family was geography, with the long hours compounded by a bicoastal living situation -- a family based in Los Angeles and a show based in Nashville.

She writes in her letter: “I am writing because something needs to change in an industry we have loved as a family. Television is a fascinating medium when studios and production teams are on the same page. But what about when they aren't, which is now so often the norm? It becomes a cliche. Bringing good stories to life was and is a dream for so many young people who reach for the stars, only to realize the Heavens were moved to another location. And the humanity in the process has been lost.”

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Video: For Fans Waiting for a 'Friends' Reunion, This May Be the Closest You'll Get

A TV appearance by Jennifer Aniston led to what may be the closest thing to a “Friends” reunion in years. The clip, produced in connection with Aniston’s scheduled appearance today on “Ellen,” contains a few surprises, so we'll try not to spoil it.

Here it is:

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Advocacy Group Irate at MTV Show Over Stunt That Even the Show's Star Admits Was 'Pretty Gross'

A stunt on an MTV reality show -- which even the show’s star admits was “pretty gross” -- has drawn an angry protest from a media advocacy group.

The Parents Television Council protested Tuesday’s airing of "Ke$ha: My Crazy Beautiful Life," in which the pop star drank her own urine, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

Ke$ha herself described the stunt earlier this year as "pretty gross" and said she wouldn't recommend it to others, the story says.

The PTC used the episode to make the argument that consumers should be able to buy cable channels a la carte.

"If given the opportunity, I can't imagine that parents would want to pay for a cable network that airs an episode of a pop star drinking her own urine, and that is why Congress needs to take seriously the idea of giving consumers the ability to choose and pay for only the cable networks they want," PTC President Tim Winter said in a statement.

On the show, Ke$ha apparently drinks the urine after a friend touts its health benefits.

“Skeptics might smell a publicity stunt,” the Times report notes. “A clip shows Ke$ha swirling a plastic bottle filled with a clear liquid that looks suspiciously like water, not bodily fluids.”

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Jim Henson Getting His Own Museum Gallery

The Muppets are getting a new hangout, and it's a gallery devoted to the Jim Henson creations at the Museum of the Moving Image, reports The New York Times' ArtsBeat.

The announcement comes after Henson's family donated almost 400 puppets, costumes and other props to the museum, which is located in Astoria, Queens. Henson, the creator of the Muppets, died in 1990.

The gallery, expected to open in the winter of 2014-15, may display some of the 200 puppets it received, including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Ernie, Bert and Count von Count.

"It’s only fitting that this extraordinary collection of puppets, costumes, props, and more should find a home in New York, where imagination and free expression are part of the fabric of our city, and where anyone who’s watched an episode of ‘Sesame Street’ sees the inspiration provided by the vibrant neighborhoods and characters that make our city so extraordinary," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.

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CMT Extends Order for Reality Series -- Show Is Currently the Cable Channel's Top Ratings Draw

CMT has ordered another 11 episodes of an unscripted series. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel extended the order for "Dog and Beth: On the Hunt," featuring the bounty hunters "Dog" and Beth Chapman.

Production on the extra episodes for the show's freshman season will start immediately for an August premiere date, the story says. The show's episode count will extend to 22 with the additional order.

The series currently ranks as CMT's top show, averaging more than 1 million total viewers.

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Mark Twain Prize to Be Awarded to TV Pioneer

This year's Mark Twain Prize for American Humor will go to a television pioneer. Politico reports that the award will be presented to Carol Burnett.

The groundbreaking performer will receive the award in October, with the ceremony to be broadcast later on PBS.

“I can’t believe I’m getting a humor prize from the Kennedy Center. It’s almost impossible to be funnier than the people in Washington," Burnett said in a statement released by the Kennedy Center, which is the organization that names the winners.

Previous winners include Tina Fey, Steve Martin, Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg.

Burnett earned six Emmy Awards for her 11 years of "The Carol Burnett Show," which aired on CBS from 1967 to 1978.

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Carol Burnett

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Familiar CNN Face Tapped to Moderate the National Geographic Bee, Taking Over From Alex Trebek

A well-known CNN on-air personality has been tapped to moderate the National Geographic Bee. TVNewser reports that Soledad O’Brien will take over from "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek, who has moderated the Bee for 25 years.

O'Brien, the former anchor of CNN's morning news program "Starting Point," will take over starting with the 2014 edition and her Starfish Media Group will produce the event, the story says.

Trebek is hosting the 25th annual event this week, with the finals set for Thursday night and slated to air on PBS at a later time, the piece notes.

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Soledad O’Brien

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Universal TV Signs 'Grimm' Co-Creators to New Overall Deal

Universal TV has signed "Grimm" co-creators David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf to a new overall deal, reports Deadline.com.

The writing partners will continue as executive producers on the NBC drama, which recently received a third-season renewal.

The show has been an "unsung hero at NBC," the story notes, as the only series from the 2011-12 season to make it to a third season. In its most recent second season, the show attracted an average of 6.9 million viewers and was up 14% in viewers 18-49.

 

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Brad Pitt Reveals That 'For a long time I thought I did too much damage -- drug damage. ... I spent years effing off'

Brad Pitt reveals that a lot of his former life "scares him," in the upcoming June/July issue of Esquire magazine.

Pitt says he really didn't straighten out his life until about a decade ago, which is about when he was filming "Troy."

A press release emailed to reporters in advance of Esquire's release on newsstands May 31, 2013, quotes Pitt as saying, "I’m two credits short of graduating college. Two credits. All I had to do was write a paper. What kind of guy is that? That guy scares me -- the guy who always leaves a little on his plate. For a long time I thought I did too much damage -- drug damage. I was a bit of a drifter. A guy who felt he grew up in something of a vacuum and wanted to see things, wanted to be inspired. I followed that other thing. I spent years fucking off. But then I got burnt out and felt that I was wasting my opportunity. It was a conscious change. This was about a decade ago. It was an epiphany -- a decision not to squander my opportunities. It was a feeling of get up. Because otherwise, what’s the point?”

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Sony Board Discussing a Shareholder's Proposal That the Company Spin Off Its Entertainment Assets

"Sony Corp. directors are discussing whether to adopt billionaire Daniel Loeb’s proposal for an initial public offering of its entertainment business, a week after the TV maker said the assets weren’t for sale," reports Bloomberg.

The story continues, "Sony has jumped 22 percent since Third Point LLC’s Loeb told [Sony CEO Kazuo] Hirai that partially spinning off the entertainment assets would bring a higher valuation and raise cash for the company, whose movie studio topped the U.S. box office last year. Film and financial services earnings have helped the Tokyo-based company counter nine straight annual losses from making TVs."

Of the discussions now taking place among the directors, Hirai said, "It’s only a start. It’s important that the board will discuss this and come to a decision that represents Sony’s stance,” the story reports.

The article adds, "Hirai, who started his career at Sony’s music division, previously said he didn’t plan to sell the entertainment assets as he builds services linking Xperia smartphones, PlayStation devices and Bravia TVs with Sony movies and music." 

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With Numbers Almost Finalized for 2012-13, an Eight-Year Ratings Winning Streak Has Been Broken

An eight-year ratings winning streak has been snapped, with a new No. 1 among the broadcast networks in the key demo of viewers 18-49.

EW.com’s Inside TV reports that CBS has claimed the No. 1 spot for the 1012-13 season, having built up an insurmountable lead with two nights remaining. The win breaks Fox’s eight-year win streak.

CBS also won total viewers, but that’s nothing new: The Tiffany Network has won that metric in 10 of the past 11 seasons. However, CBS was the only network among the Big Four to improve from the previous season in total viewers.

In the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demo, all four networks were down -- but Fox, plagued by problems with “American Idol,” posted by far the biggest decline, losing 22%. Fox still finished second.

CBS was down 3% in 18-49, averaging a 2.9 rating; Fox’s 22% drop left it with a 2.5 average; NBC fell 4% to average a 2.4, good for third place; and ABC lost 8%, averaging a 2.2 rating to finish fourth.

In total viewers, CBS gained 1% from a year ago to average 11.8 million, finishing well ahead of the competition. Second-place ABC fell 6% to average 7.8 million, Fox lost 20% to come in third with 7.1 million and NBC dipped 6% to finish fourth with 7.0 million.

This is the first time in 21 years that CBS will win the 18-49 demo, the story reports, and CBS would rank No. 1 even if its Super Bowl coverage were excluded. CBS has nine of the top 15 scripted shows in prime time.

“During a press breakfast for reporters last week, CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves relished the current standings,” EW reports. “Yet CBS only deserves partial credit for its ranking this season. The network maintained roughly the same ratings as last year -- which is certainly no easy task in an era of increasing DVR use, streaming and competition from cable networks. But it was Fox declining 22 percent due to softening 'American Idol' popularity and other factors that gave CBS the trophy.”

Fox will try to fight back next fall, the report notes, and it will have a few new weapons. Among them are the action-drama “Almost Human” from J.J. Abrams, a new “24” as a limited series, and a retooled “Idol” with new judges.

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Netflix Unveils Rollout Plans, Premiere Date for New Ricky Gervais Show

Netflix has taken the wraps off plans for its new Ricky Gervais series. Deadline.com reports that the online streaming service will launch the show, “Derek,” just after midnight on Sept. 12.

Gervais is the writer, director, executive producer and star of the series, which focuses on a naive lead character who is employed at a nursing home. The show is already on the air in the U.K.

“The show will launch stateside and in international Netflix territories including Canada, Ireland, Latin America, Brazil and the Nordics in seven 30-minute episodes launching simultaneously,” Deadline reports. “A second season has already been renewed.”

The comedy-drama series also stars David Earl, Karl Pilkington and Kerry Godliman as fellow employees.

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Steven Spielberg Readying Groundbreaking TV Series

Plans have just been announced for what’s being touted as a groundbreaking new television series from filmmaker Steven Spielberg. The Los Angeles Times reports that Spielberg will executive produce an original live-action series based on the “Halo” video games.

“The blockbuster game franchise inspired a 90-minute Web series, ‘Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn,’ that put the video game's protagonist, Master Chief, at the center of the cinematic action. The fall release helped drive sales of the ‘Halo 4’ game. The games have sold more than 50 million titles,” the story reports.

Said Bonnie Ross, general manager of Microsoft's 343 Industries studio, which oversees the "Halo" franchise: "I'm thrilled to anounce a live-action partnership with 343 Industries and one of the best storytellers of all time: Mr. Steven Spielberg."

The Times report adds: “Spielberg appeared via video at the Microsoft One next-generation console launch to say he has been a lifelong gamer who began playing in the era of ‘Pong.’ As the technology has evolved, he said, the interactive worlds and stories grew more compelling.”

Said Spielberg: "For me, the 'Halo' universe is an amazing opportunity to be at the intersection where technology and storytelling meet.”

Nancy Tellem, the head of Microsoft Studios -- and a former CBS exec -- touted the new Xbox One game console as part of a new era of television.

Said Tellem: "Until now the TV viewing experience has been a one-way street for the viewer. Now, that's about to change. TV on the Xbox will immerse you, enable you to virtually jump into the action."

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Long-Delayed Fox Series Finally Debuts -- to Feeble Numbers

Fox and ABC both rolled out new prime-time series Monday night, and neither program made much of a splash. But as bad as the debut for ABC’s “Motive” was, Fox’s new comedy “The Goodwin Games” fared even worse -- a lot worse -- based on Nielsen overnights.

Bowing on a night of otherwise all-repeat programming on Fox, “Goodwin,” which premiered after a significant delay, delivered a shockingly low 0.7 average in the key 18-49 demo, TVbytheNumbers.com reports. The rest of Fox’s prime time consisted of repeats of “Raising Hope,” “New Girl” and “The Mindy Project,” with everything delivering 0.6 or 0.7 averages.

Perhaps even more stunning, “Goodwin Games” mustered a mere 1.748 million total viewers. By comparison, the rollout for ABC’s drama series “Motive” was a juggernaut, delivering a total audience of 6.83 million and a 1.4 average in 18-49. But that was a fraction of the audience delivered by ABC’s only other show of the night, a two-hour “Dancing with the Stars,” which managed a 2.5 in the 18-49 demo and 14.73 million total viewers.

At the upper end of the ratings spectrum, NBC’s two-hour “The Voice” was the top show of the night with a 3.4 average in adults 18-49, as NBC won the night in the demo. The bad news: “The Voice” was down 11% from last week, yielding a Monday low for the series and a season low for a performance show.

NBC’s “Revolution” held its own, matching last week’s 1.9 in viewers 18-49.

CBS put up a mix of repeats and finales, with the series finale of “Rules of Engagement” slipping 14% from its previous original to a 1.8 while the season finale of “Hawaii Five-0” came through with a 2.0, rising 11% from last week but losing 26% from the previous season finale.

The numbers for prime time overall show NBC at No. 1 in the 18-49 demo with a 2.9 average, followed by ABC (2.1 average), CBS (1.9), Univision (1.5) and Fox (0.6). ABC claimed the top spot in total viewers with 12.1 million, followed by NBC (9.0 million), CBS (7.5 million), Univision (3.8 million) and Fox (1.6 million).

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Layoffs Coming for ESPN

ESPN has confirmed that it is expecting a round of job cuts. The company issued a statement acknowledging moves that had already surfaced in the media, Deadline.com reports.

In the statement, ESPN said: “We are implementing changes across the company to enhance our continued growth while smartly managing costs. While difficult, we are confident that it will make us more competitive, innovative and productive.”

The number of layoffs could go as high as 400, the report notes. ESPN has about 7,000 total employees.

The Deadline report notes: “If the language sounds familiar, it’s because it is: ESPN is 80% owned by Disney (Hearst owns the other 20%), which has gone division by division to cut costs over the past month or so. Layoffs have already hit the Walt Disney Studios unit (150 layoffs in film, theatrical and music departments) and shuttered LucasArts, the video game division of Disney’s newly acquired Lucasfilm.”

Disney Interactive also recently laid off about 500 staffers.

ESPN is highly profitable, but is also a big spender, the piece notes, including recent sports rights deals involving the U.S. Open tennis tournament and a network for the SEC college conference.

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NBCU Names New SVP of Cable Ad Sales

NBCUniversal today announced the appointment of a new senior vice president, cable advertising sales. The company named Cherie Cohen to the post.

Cohen will oversee the company’s regional sales offices in Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles.

“Working with NBCUniversal’s entire stable of 18 cable networks, as well as the sales leadership teams from its two broadcast networks -- English and Spanish -- and more than 50 digital properties, Cohen will report to Dan Lovinger and Laura Molen who each serve as Executive Vice Presidents of Cable Advertising Sales for NBCUniversal,” the company said in its announcement.

Said Lovinger: “Cherie is a seasoned media executive with a successful track record working creatively across multiple assets and platforms and she will be a terrific addition to our powerful and diverse portfolio of brands.”

Molen added: “Not only is Cherie known for her leadership and team-building skills, she also is well-regarded by high-level clients and has an established commitment to developing unique opportunities for advertising partners.”

Cohen was previously vice president, multimedia sales, for ESPN.

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CBS Pulls 'Mike & Molly' Finale

CBS has pulled the season finale of "Mike & Molly." The network made the decision to take the episode off the schedule because of its tornado theme following the destruction in Oklahoma, where dozens are dead after a twister ripped through parts of the state, The Huffington Post reports.

The episode, which had been scheduled for 9:30 p.m. Monday, May 20, featured a tornado descending on Chicago.

"Due to the tragic events this afternoon in Oklahoma, we are pre-empting tonight’s season finale of 'Mike & Molly,' which has a related storyline," CBS said in the statement Monday.

The network instead aired a repeat, and said it will air the finale "at an appropriate time."

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Did 'SNL' Cast Member Let the Cat Out of the Bag About Another Regular Leaving the Show?

Following a number of high-profile departures, another "Saturday Night Live" cast member is leaving the show, according to a fellow cast member.

EW.com's Inside TV reports that Jay Pharoah indicated in a tweet that Jason Sudeikis is departing the show -- but that tweet has since been deleted, according to the report.

Referring to departing cast members Bill Hader and Fred Armisen, Pharoah wrote: "Hader, Armisen & Sudekis the talent of those three and just them as people in general will be missed but we will be strong and carry on..”

After "Saturday Night Live" said farewell to both Hader and Armisen last week, some fans thought it meant that Sudeikis would return to the show next season. A representative for "SNL" didn't immediately return EW's request for comment, the story says.

Thumbnail image for jason-sudeikis.jpgJason Sudeikis

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NBC to Pre-empt 'The Voice'

NBC's "The Voice" will be pre-empted tonight, Tuesday, May 21, 2013, so that the network can air a one-hour special hosted by Brian Williams live from the scene of the tornado-devastated communities near Oklahoma City, reports Deadline.com.

"NBC Nightly News" will air in its regular 6:30 p.m. slot and won't be expanded, while "Today’s” Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker, Natalie Morales and Willie Geist will all report from Moore, Okla., where much of the damage was centered, the story notes.

NBC's sibling networks MSNBC and the Weather Channel will focus much of their reporting today on the tornado and its destruction, the story adds.

"The Voice" episode that will be pre-empted is a recap show that was set to feature the top 10 performances. A new live episode will air Wednesday night as scheduled.

CBS, meanwhile, announced plans to expand the “CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley” to 90 minutes tonight, 6:30-8 p.m. ET, for coverage of the aftermath of the tornado, with Pelley anchoring live from Moore.

"ABC World News" has also sent staffers to the tornado-damaged region and the network has been covering the disaster on "Nightline" as well, but plans for tonight's coverage were not known at our deadline.

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Will Seth MacFarlane Host the Oscars Again? Statement From the 'Family Guy' Creator Gives His Answer, His Reason ... and an Odd Suggestion for a Replacement

"Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane said he won't return to host the Oscars for a second time, saying in a statement that he can't make it work with his schedule, reports TVGuide.com.

"Traumatized critics exhale: I'm unable to do the Oscars again. Tried to make it work schedule-wise, but I need sleep. However, I highly recommend the job, as [producers Craig] Zadan and [Neil] Meron are two of the most talented producers in the business. My suggestion for host is Joaquin Phoenix," he said.

MacFarlane was a polarizing host, with some appreciating his humor and others offended by some of his jokes, such as the song "We Saw Your Boobs."

The report notes: “After it was announced in April that executive producers Zadan and Meron would be producing the show again, reports surfaced that they wanted MacFarlane to host a second time. This isn't the first time that MacFarlane has turned down the job either. Two days after the Feb. 24 ceremony when he [was] asked if he would do it again, MacFarlane tweeted ‘no way.’"

MacFarlane’s schedule/sleep excuse appears to be legit, the report notes. Not only is he working on “Family Guy” and “American Dad!,” but MacFarlane is also executive-producing “Dads,” a new Fox comedy series, and producing a Fox reboot of Carl Sagan's documentary series “Cosmos,” with 13 episodes set to air in 2014.

Phoenix’s actions in recent years make him an interesting name for MacFarlane to mention. Last October he declared the Academy Awards to be “bullshit” -- even though he had his own best actor nomination for “The Master.” He later stepped back from that position and acknowledged that the awards have value for deserving filmmakers.

Phoenix previously got attention when he announced in late 2008 that he had retired from acting to become a rapper. That phase -- which included a notorious “Letterman” appearance in early 2009 -- turned out to be an apparent stunt surrounding the mockumentary “I’m Still Here,” released in 2010.

In case you missed it, here's the classic Joaquin Phoenix appearance on "Late Show with David Letterman" in February 2009:

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Canceled ABC Show to Return Next Month

A canceled ABC series will resurface on the network next month. TVLine reports that the network will complete its airing of the first season of "666 Park Avenue."

The four remaining episodes of the supernatural drama will air on Saturdays beginning June 22, with the finale airing July 13. The show was about a couple that moves into a ritzy Manhattan apartment building, only to find it might be possessed by an evil force.

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'Today' Co-Host Says There Will Be a 'Revolt' if Matt Lauer Leaves

One of the regulars on NBC’s morning show “Today” came out this week with a strong show of support for Matt Lauer. TMZ.com reports that co-host Kathie Lee Gifford said there would be a "revolt" at the network if Lauer is allowed to leave the program.

Gifford was leaving Rockefeller Center on Monday when she expressed her views about Lauer, who has dropped in popularity among viewers since Ann Curry was ousted from the show last year.

Gifford said she felt Lauer had been unfairly demonized since Curry’s departure. She added that at one point she wanted to buy a full-page ad in a New York City newspaper to defend Lauer, but he talked her out of it, the story says.

kathie-lee-gifford.jpgKathie Lee Gifford

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'Dancing With the Stars' Hit by Voting Issues

ABC’s "Dancing with the Stars" was hit by voting difficulties Monday, with ABC asking fans to vote by texting, calling and via Facebook after problems arose with ABC.com, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The problems come after NBC's "The Voice" said it had voting "inconsistencies," as previously reported. In that case, fans who voted online and via texting weren't counted.

With "Dancing with the Stars," the network realized it had a problem before Monday's broadcast and informed viewers that voting via ABC.com wasn't available, the story adds.

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'Smallville' Lawsuit Settled -- Test Case for Vertical Integration

"Smallville" co-creators and writers Miles Millar and Alfred Gough have settled their lawsuit against Warner Bros. over how WBTV handled finances on the long-running Superman show, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq.

An agreement in principle has been reached to end the lawsuit, the story says. The case alleged that Warner Bros. had shortchanged the show's profit participants with sweetheart license-fee deals between the studio and its sibling TV networks, the piece reports.

According to the article, "The lawsuit was one of the big ones that tested vertical integration in the entertainment industry. Filed in 2010, the lawsuit contended they were deprived of significant profits when WBTV allegedly undersold the series to affiliates the WB Network and then The CW instead of licensing the series to outside companies."

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Why Oscar Winner Ang Lee Bailed Out on FX Project

Oscar-winning director Ang Lee has left an FX drama project. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Lee departed the pilot "Tyrant" due to exhaustion.

"Tyrant" is "one of the most brilliant ideas for a series that I’ve seen and one about which I was very excited. However, after spending over four years making and promoting 'Life of Pi,' I have recently realized that I need some rest," Lee said in a statement. "Because I cannot give 100 percent to this exciting project at this time, I cannot allow myself to do anything that may affect the potential for this exciting new series."

"Tyrant," from "Homeland’s” Howard Gordon, is about an American family that gets caught up in the workings of a Middle East nation.

The Fox 21 project will start looking for a replacement for Lee, and doesn't expect the change to greatly impact the shooting schedule, the story notes.

Lee has won two Oscars for best director -- for “Life of Pi” earlier this year and for “Brokeback Mountain” in 2006.

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Report: Fox News Reporter Was Investigated in 2009 by the Justice Department

The Justice Department investigated a Fox News reporter's newsgathering activities as a possible crime during a probe of a leak, reports The Washington Post.

The reporter is James Rosen, Fox News' chief Washington correspondent, and the revelation outraged journalists and advocates of government transparency, the story adds. The government suggested that Rosen was a "co-conspirator" for digging for classified information, a suggestion that critics said threatens to criminalize press freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.

"Others also suggested that the Justice Department’s claim in pursuing an alleged leak from the State Department was little more than pretext to seize his e-mails to build their case against the suspected leaker," the story notes.

"It is downright chilling," Fox News executive Michael Clemente said in a statement. He said the network will "unequivocally defend [Rosen’s] right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press.”

The investigation into Rosen came to light as part of a Washington Post story about the Justice Department's investigation into leaks about North Korea in 2009. The publication posted a warrant for Rosen's personal email account.

The affidavit included FBI agent Reginald Reyes' comment that Rosen asked former State Department arms expert Stephen Jin-Woo Kim to pass on "sensitive United States internal documents and intelligence information" by "employing flattery and playing to Mr. Kim’s vanity and ego.”

Equating reporting practices with criminal activity particularly angered critics.

"Neither flattery nor an insistent tone rises to the level of a criminal offense,” said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists.

According to the Post, "Investigators pulled Rosen’s security badge records, phone logs and his personal e-mails, but they never charged him with a crime. No reporter has ever been prosecuted for seeking classified information."

 

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'Breaking Dawn' Actress Snags Lead Role in New Drama

An actress known for her work in two "Breaking Dawn" movies and for the TV series “Alias” has landed a lead role in "The Strain," the high-profile FX drama project from filmmaker Guillermo del Toro and showrunner Carlton Cuse, reports Deadline.com.

The female lead role goes to Mia Maestro, who played Nadia Santos in “Alias” and appeared as Carmen in both part one and part two of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn.”

The FX show, an adaptation of del Toro's vampire novels, has received a pilot order and may also get a 13-episode series pickup, the story says. Corey Stoll plays Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, who investigates a viral outbreak with ties to vampirism.

Maestro will play Dr. Nora Martinez, who works closely with Stoll's character.

mia-maestro.jpgMia Maestro

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Lindsay Lohan Is Sued for $5 Million

Adding to the current troubles for Lindsay Lohan, who is putting in time in court-ordered rehab, the actress was sued for $5 million, TMZ.com reports.

The lawsuit -- a countersuit by clothing manufacturer D.N.A.M. Apparel Industries -- has to do with Lohan’s drug problems, the piece reports. Lohan previously sued D.N.A.M.

“In her lawsuit, Lindsay says she struck a business deal with D.N.A.M. in 2009 allowing them to manufacture clothes for her ‘6126’ clothing line -- but D.N.A.M. stiffed her on a massive licensing fee. Lindsay wants $1.1 million in damages,” TMZ reports. “But D.N.A.M. is now coming back at Lindsay for nearly five times that amount, insisting SHE'S the reason their business deal fell apart.”

D.N.A.M. cites Lohan’s "drug-addled image," saying it harmed 6126's reputation and made the clothing line impossible to sell, the piece notes.

“According to D.N.A.M., the company did its darndest to sell their 6126 clothes to high-end third party retailers -- but by spring 2010, no one would touch the brand ... because Lindsay was back in rehab ... and her legal problems were playing out in the media ‘like a Greek tragedy.’” TMZ reports. “D.N.A.M. says it invested millions in 6126 for nothing -- and now it's suing for breach of contract and fraud, demanding at least $5 million in damages.”

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Founding Member of Legendary L.A.-Based Rock Band Dies

One of the founders of a rock band that played a big role in shaping popular music in the 1960s has died. The Washington Post reports that Ray Manzarek, the keyboardist for the Doors, died today, Monday, May 20, 2013, at 74.

Manzarek reportedly died at a clinic in Rosenheim, Germany, of complications from bile duct cancer.

Besides his accomplishments as a member of the Los Angeles-based Doors, Manzarek, born and raised in Chicago, was a producer, writer and film director.

Manzarek studied economics in college but his heart was in music, and a fateful meeting with Jim Morrison on a California beach in 1965 led to the creation of the Doors.

“Led by the charismatic Morrison, with his mystical wildness and commanding physical presence, and driven by the power of Mr. Manzarek on the organ, the band worked its way into the soul of the 1960s counterculture,” The Post reports. “Much of what the Doors became known for was owed to Mr. Manzarek, with his penchant for blending musical streams and currents, old and new, from blues to classical, with spoken poetry and an overlay of the psychedelic.”

The group released a string of hits including “Light My Fire,” “L.A. Woman” and “Break On Through.” Besides Morrison and Manzarek, the band consisted of guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore.

The report notes: “Morrison’s death in 1971 broke the spell. Mr. Manzarek, a considerable talent in his own right, struck out for himself. He continued to make music, alone or in bands, through this year, and he exerted great influence on other keyboard artists.”

The band was known for not having a bass player, which was made possible by Manzarek playing bass parts on keyboard.

“He also mastered the combo organ,” the story notes. “He played guitar and percussion instruments as well as the keyboards, and he sometimes sang. He was heard in a half-dozen subgenres of rock, including acid rock, blues rock, hard rock and jazz rock. When the punk movement began to flourish in Los Angeles, Mr. Manzarek worked in production with the band known as X on the punk landmark album ‘Los Angeles.’”

Here’s a clip of Manzarek performing “Light My Fire” with fellow Doors alum Robby Krieger in Providence, R.I., in November 2011:

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For the First Time, a Woman Is Running the FCC -- at Least for Now

For the first time ever, the Federal Communications Commission is being headed by a woman. Deadline.com reports that the agency on Saturday named Commissioner Mignon Clyburn as Acting Chair, taking over the position vacated by Julius Genachowski.

The appointment is designed to fill the post until President Obama’s choice for the permanent job, Tom Wheeler, can be confirmed by the Senate.

Clyburn talked about the appointment today, telling staffers: “I see myself as a member of a relay team, running one of the middle legs. My job is to build on forward momentum, give the next teammate a running start, an improved position, and no matter what, my goal is not to drop the baton.”

Deadline adds: “It could take months before she can pass that baton to Wheeler. The Senate likely will confirm him in tandem with a Republican to replace former Commissioner Robert McDowell, who left the FCC on Friday. Presidents typically appoint someone recommended by the opposition leadership when there’s an FCC opening for the out party. But the Senate GOP has yet to make its pick.”

Among those being considered, according to the piece, are Duke University’s Michelle Connolly, a former FCC chief economist; former Scripps Networks Chief Legal Officer A.B. Cruz; and Hill staff veterans Ray Baum and Neil Fried.

The report notes: “Last week the U.S. Office of Government Ethics disclosed that Wheeler -- a former lobbyist who’s now an investor with Core Capital Partners -- said that if confirmed he would divest holdings in 78 companies including AMC Networks, Apple, Cablevision, CBS, Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network, Gannett, Google, Liberty Media, News Corp., Scripps Networks, Time Warner, Time Warner Cable and Disney.”

mignon-clyburn.jpgMignon Clyburn

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Unscripted Boldly Goes Into ... Scripted: NBC Adds 'Siberia' to the Lineup

In a bold step forward for unscripted programming, it has found its way into ... scripted programming. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that NBC has announced plans for “Siberia,” a scripted drama about contestants in a reality show.

The network plans to launch the summer series July 1 at 10 p.m.

Said Jeff Bader, president of program planning, strategy and research for NBC Entertainment: “The concept of survival, when mysterious elements are at play, makes for a compelling show. We believe a scripted series that offers an insightful behind-the-scenes view of how a reality concept comes together -- especially when things don’t go according to plan -- will connect with our audience in a very satisfying way.”

THR adds: “’Siberia’ takes place more than 100 years after a meteor hits the remote Siberian territory of Tunguska in 1908. Sixteen contestants descend on Tunguska not knowing the land's mysterious past. When a contestant is badly injured and no help arrives, the contestants realize that strange occurrences are not part of the reality show. With their safety threatened, contestants [are] forced to work together to survive.”

The program comes from Infinity Films with Sierra/Engine Television and Welldone Productions. Matthew Arnold is the show creator, and Michael Ohove, Slava Jakovleff and Chris Philip are executive producers.

The report notes: “’Siberia’ marks the latest scripted push for summer as the Big Four broadcast networks look to keep the lights on following last year's disappointing unscripted slate. NBC has ‘Camp’ and drama ‘Crossing Lines,’ while CBS is going big with ‘Under the Dome’ and the second run of ‘Unforgettable.’”

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New 'Star Wars' Series Coming to TV

A new “Star Wars” series is coming to television. Disney announced plans today for the new show, set to arrive in fall 2014 -- before the scheduled 2015 date for the next “Star Wars” movie, Reuters reports.

The new series, “Star Wars Rebels,” is animated and “will be set in the two decades between the events of the third and fourth films, where the Empire becomes a dominant force in the galaxy, Disney said,” Reuters reports.

In a statement, Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, said: "I think 'Star Wars Rebels' will capture the look, feel and fun that both kids and their parents love about 'Star Wars.'"

The series is set to premiere on the Disney Channel, with additional airings on Disney XD channels around the world, the report notes.

The piece adds: "’Star Wars: Episode VII,’ to be directed by J.J. Abrams, is the first of three new ‘Star Wars’ films announced by Disney in October 2012, when it purchased George Lucas' Lucasfilm company for $4.05 billion.”

 

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ABC Finds a Winning Formula in Sunday Ratings; Finales Fizzle on Fox, NBC

ABC dominated the broadcast ratings Sunday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. Its formula for success was a simple one: “The 2013 Billboard Music Awards.”

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the three-hour awards program surged 33% from last year’s telecast, delivering a 3.6 average rating in viewers 18-49. The network opened prime time with the season finale of “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” which rose 29% from a week ago to a 1.8.

Fox, meanwhile, had lackluster results for its season finale of “Family Guy” -- a 2.5 average rating in 18-49, down 4% from last year’s finale (but up 8% from last week) -- and its season finale of “The Simpsons” -- flat with last year with a 2.1. The series finale of “The Cleveland Show” managed a 1.1, ticking up one-tenth from a week ago.

Additional episodes of the Fox series -- all of them leading in to the finales -- had mixed results: “Cleveland” pulled a 0.9 in adults 18-49, even with last week; “The Simpsons” was down 10% to a 1.8; and “Family Guy” rose 8% to a 2.6. Fox came in second behind ABC for the night.

CBS failed to get much mileage out of its two-hour special “ACM Presents: Tim McGraw’s Superstar Summer Night,” which settled for a 1.2 average rating in the 18-49 demo as CBS finished a distant third in prime time. Back-to-back episodes of “60 Minutes” produced a 1.4 and a 1.3.

NBC’s two-hour season finale of “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice” managed a 1.5 average rating in 18-49, losing a hefty 32% from last year’s season finale but 15% better than last week’s season low for the series. NBC opened prime time with a two-hour repeat of “The Voice,” which mustered only a 0.7 average.

For prime time overall, ABC was comfortably ahead in the 18-49 demo with a 3.1 average, topping Fox (1.8 average), CBS (1.3) and NBC (1.1). ABC also took the win in total viewers with 8.9 million to CBS’s 7.8 million, NBC’s 3.9 million and Fox’s 3.9 million.

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'Hardest-Working Man in Television' Is Finally Ready for Prime Time

A familiar TV host who has been called "the hardest-working man in television" will soon extend his talents to prime time. Elizabeth Jensen reports in The New York Times that Charlie Rose is getting a new PBS show.

Rose, who already hosts a late-night PBS interview show and co-hosts on "CBS This Morning," will also host a half-hour program called "Charlie Rose Weekend" that will air on Friday nights, the story reports.

The show will cull the best from Rose’s late-night show, which has aired on PBS for two decades, and will also feature original interviews. The network will start airing it in July at 8:30 p.m. Fridays, replacing the newsmagazine "Need to Know."

Jensen adds, "Where Mr. Rose, who is 71, will find the time to put together yet another program is unclear. Through PBS, which plans to announce the program [today], he said the new project is 'distinctly different in nature' from the late-night show, and will make 'full use of technology and social media.'"

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One New Trend for Next Season: The 'Limited Series'

One new trend for next season is the "limited series," or shows that are planned with fewer than the traditional 22 episodes, reports B&C.

All four of the top broadcasters ordered limited series for the 2013-14 television season, such as ABC's "Betrayal" and NBC's 10-episode order of "Dracula."

"Of course, limited series -- also known as miniseries -- are nothing new, but until now they've mostly been confined to cable," the story says. "Years ago, miniseries were common. They included such popular event programming as 'Roots'; 'Shogun,' which Fox is in the process of remaking; and 'The Thorn Birds.” In recent years, however, they had become far too expensive for broadcast networks because they don't repeat and there were only limited ways to make money on the completed production."

The story adds, "The arrival of well-financed subscription video on demand (SVOD) services has changed all of that."

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Well-Known Comedian Files for Bankruptcy, Saying He Owes $8.3 Million to the IRS

A popular comedian and actor has filed for bankruptcy, claiming he owes almost $11 million in debt, including $8.3 million to the IRS, reports TMZ.com.

It's the second bankruptcy filing for Sinbad since 2009, although the first case was dismissed because he didn't file the right documents, the story says.

Sinbad said he owes the IRS for taxes from 1998-2006, and also said he owes both state and federal taxes from 2009-2012. The actor starred on several TV projects, including "The Sinbad Show" on Fox from 1993-1994, and appeared in films and specials ranging from stand-up comedy specials to films such as "Jingle All the Way."

The 56-year-old comedian claims he owes about $375,000 to American Express, and $2.3 million to the California Franchise Tax Board. He also claimed he earns $16,000 per month and can't afford to pay his bills.

sinbad.jpg

Sinbad

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Today's Must-Read: TVWeek's Media Buyer of the Year

Today we honor our TVWeek Media Buyer of the Year. This is the 12th year we've given out this prestigious award.

This year's honoree is a 26-year veteran of the media business. And he'll be involved in placing about $4 billion worth of TV advertising this year.

Guess who it is and click here to find out if you're right, and to read our engaging, insightful interview with him.

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NBC News Names New President

NBCUniversal News Group announced today the appointment of a new president of NBC News. In an announcement by Group Chairman Pat Fili-Krushel, the company revealed that Deborah Turness will get the job.

Turness is the former editor of ITV News, the most-watched commercial network news service in the U.K., the company noted.

“Turness joins CNBC President Mark Hoffman and MSNBC President Phil Griffin as part of the NBCUniversal News Group leadership team reporting to Fili-Krushel. She will be based at the NBC News headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and begin her new role on August 5,” the company announced.

Said Fili-Krushel: “Deborah has built an outstanding reputation as both a journalist and business executive with a proven track record for innovation and collaboration. She is a leader with a global perspective, who is also very familiar with NBC News, having worked closely with us through our partnership with ITN. Her passion for the news business, combined with her creativity and vision, will be a tremendous asset to NBC News, and I’m very pleased to welcome her to the team.”

One of Turness’ first challenges will be facing a downtrend in ad sales for the network news division, as we reported separately today.

Please click here to read additional details about Turness’ background in the full press release from NBCUniversal News Group.

deborah-turness2.jpgDeborah Turness

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*******PLEASE NOTE--THIS ITEM IS A PAID TEXT ADVERTISEMENT*** American Legion Announces 2013 Recipients of Top Journalism Award

***PLEASE NOTE--THIS ITEM IS A PAID TEXT ADVERTISEMENT***

INDIANAPOLIS (May 10, 2013) – A Hawaii television station, America’s newspaper and a war correspondent’s video on the website of the nation’s “newspaper of record,” will receive The American Legion’s Fourth Estate Award during the organization’s 95th National Convention in Houston, Texas, on August 29

The Fourth Estate Award has been presented annually by The American Legion since 1958 for outstanding achievement in the field of journalism. Nominations were considered in three categories: print, broadcast, and new media (Internet).

Taking top honor in the print category for a second time was USA TODAY. A fourteen-month investigation of more than 460 forgotten lead factory sites, including tests of more than 1,000 samples of soil in 21 neighborhoods by reporters Alison Young and Peter Eisler, found significant lead poisoning risks. Failures by the EPA and state regulators had left thousands of families across the country in harm’s way for more than a decade. The series, Ghost Factories, drew calls for action from seven U.S. senators and has led the EPA to re-examine health risks at all 464 sites nationwide. More than a dozen states have launched their own investigations and several sites have already been targeted for cleanup.

Hawaii’s KITV-TV brought closure to a long and dark phase of history with the production of a one hour documentary on the life of Marianne Cope, just canonized by the Vatican for her work on the Kalaupapa peninsula in the mid-1800s. Of the more than 8,000 people torn from families and left to die in the leprosy settlement of Kalawao and Kalaupapa, only 18 remain today. With the disease no longer a threat, these elderly and frail patients traveled to Rome for the canonization. For them, her sainthood validated that their suffering and sacrifice have not been in vain. KITV’s Pamela Young, Rex Von Arnswaldt and Gary Sprinkle poignantly closed out a dark phase of history with a story of hope, faith and courage.

In the Internet (new media) category, freelance war correspondent Alex Quade won her second consecutive Fourth Estate Award for her video report, “Chinook Down,” for the New York Times website. Her short documentary revealed the full story and human toll behind a WikiLeaks headline of a Chinook helicopter shot down by a surface-to-air missile in Afghanistan, killing all onboard. Quade was supposed to be on that helicopter. She survived to report firsthand on the firefight and recovery. For five years, she gathered material on the attack, interviewing pilots who provided air support to rescue teams on the ground, obtaining previously unreleased Pentagon documents via Freedom of Information Act appeals, and video. The result of Alex Quade’s investigation was a 10-minute video for the New York Times that brought closure to the families; as one soldier who had long suffered from PTSD told her, “You helped me come home from the war.”

“These outstanding journalists have gone above and beyond the works of their peers; Each of them has exhibited the highest commitment to excellence in the research, writing and production of masterful reports that have truly made a difference for the better in our world,” said James E. Koutz, national commander of the 2.4 million member American Legion.

“These journalists are among the best of the best,” he said. “I will be honored to present each of them with our highest recognition of journalistic accomplishment, The American Legion Fourth Estate Award.”

Previous winners of the award include Dateline NBC, C-SPAN, United Press International, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Indianapolis Star, the Detroit News, Fortune Magazine, ABC News, and Life Magazine, among others.

The nation’s largest wartime veterans organization, The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and patriotic youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through nearly 14,000 posts across the nation.

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Why Viewers Might Not See as Many Bare-Chested Women on 'Game of Thrones'

HBO's "Game of Thrones" is known for its nudity, although that might be changing, according to a report in the U.K.'s Telegraph.

A star of the series, Oona Chaplin, says one of the actresses has refused to appear in any more topless shots. While Chaplin, who plays the noblewoman Talisa Maegyr, refused to name the actress, the newspaper notes that there's been a lot of comment about Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen. Clarke hasn't appeared in topless scenes recently, the story adds.

"One of the girls in the show who got her kit off the most in the first couple of seasons now doesn’t at all because she said, 'I want to be known for my acting, not for my breasts,’ ” Chaplin said.

Chaplin said she has no problem herself in being naked on screen.

"The objectification lies in the eye of the beholder, just like beauty. I’m really comfortable getting my kit off, so, if they want to, I’m like, 'yeah, bring it, I’m naked, no problem,’ ” she said.

Oona-Chaplin.jpgOona Chaplin

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Former 'Good Morning America' Executive Producer Says She Had a Double Mastectomy

A former "Good Morning America" executive producer has revealed that she, like Angelina Jolie, has undergone a double mastectomy after learning she carried the BRCA gene. TVNewser reports that Shelley Ross made the revelation.

Ross said that Jolie's Op Ed piece in The New York Times convinced her to go public on her blog about her own experience.

"I thought what she did was so smart. It’s an opportunity to expand the dialogue. Like her, I was able to write down all the details. Nobody can interpret this as if I’m dying," Ross said. (To read her blog post, click here.)

Ross had only told a small group of friends, concerned that if the news spread, it would have included "false, libelous, damaging, actionable reports, regardless of what I tried to correct," she said.

“If it [the mastectomy] got out to what is certainly a small handful of detractors, I would have read about some anonymous person ‘hearing a death rattle.’ I’m not dying and I’m not dead," she told the publication.

Ross is juggling several projects at the moment, including Nik Wallenda's live Discovery special on June 23, which will show the tightrope artist traversing the Grand Canyon. Another project is a film project about Johnny Carson, which is based on a memoir by his attorney, Henry Bushkin, the story notes.

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Broadcast Nets Up the Ante From Last Year at Upfronts, Order More Series -- Which Studios Sold the Most?

The broadcast networks spent heavily on scripted series during this year’s upfronts. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the nets ordered 45 scripted pilots to series, almost 10 more than a year ago.

“Factor into that the off-cycle straight-to-series orders and event series set for 2014 and that number grows to a whopping 52,” the story reports.

Leading the way was Warner Bros. TV with 12 orders, up from nine last year, followed by 20th Television with 11, orders, way up from five last year.

Here are the shows sold, by studio:

Warner Bros. Television (12 series sold): “Surviving Jack” (Fox), “Almost Humanæ (Fox), “Believe” (NBC), “Hostages” (CBS), “Mom” (CBS), “Undateable” (NBC), “The 100” (CW), “Super Fun Night” (ABC), “The Originals” (CW) (co-production with CBS Television Studios), “The Tomorrow People” (CW), “Reign” (CW) (co-production with CBS Television Studios), “Star-Crossed” (CW) (co-production with CBS Television Studios).

20th Television (11 series sold): “Enlisted” (Fox), “Dads” (Fox), “Gang Related” (Fox), “Sleepy Hollow” (Fox), “Crisis” (NBC), “Crazy Ones” (CBS), “Back in the Game” (ABC), “Mind Games” (ABC), “Friends With Better Lives” (CBS), “24: Live Another Day” (limited series) (Fox), “Murder Police” (animated series) (Fox).

ABC Studios (nine series sold): “Intelligence” (CBS) (co-production with CBS Television Studios), “Trophy Wife” (ABC), “Mixology” (ABC), “Killer Women” (ABC), “Resurrection” (ABC), “Lucky 7” (ABC), “Betrayal” (ABC), “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” (ABC), “Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (ABC) (with Marvel TV).

CBS Television Studios: (nine series sold): “Intelligence” (CBS) (co-production with ABC Studios), “We Are Men (CBS), “The Millers” (CBS), “Reckless” (CBS), “The Tomorrow People” (CW) (co-production with Warner Bros. TV), “Star-Crossed” (CW) (co-production with Warner Bros. TV), “Reign” (CW) (co-production with Warner Bros. TV), “The 100 (CW) (co-production with Warner Bros. TV), “Under the Dome (summer series) (CBS).

Universal Television: (eight series sold): “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Fox), “About a Boy” (NBC), “Sean Saves the World” (NBC), “The Family Guide” (NBC), “Chicago PD” (NBC), “Ironside” (NBC), “Dracula” (NBC), “Crossbones” (NBC).

Sony Pictures Television (seven series sold): “Us & Them” (Fox), “Rake” (Fox), “The Goldbergs” (ABC), “The Michael J. Fox Show” (NBC), “Welcome to the Family” (NBC), “The Blacklist” (NBC), “The Night Shift” (NBC).

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Former 'Ugly Betty' Star Headed Back to ABC?

Former "Ugly Betty" star America Ferrera may be poised to return to ABC in a modern-day twist on "Romeo and Juliet," reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The project is called "Pedro & Maria" and is in development as a potential limited series at the network. It was originally developed at MTV three years ago, and is from executive producer Ben Silverman of "The Office," through his Electus studio.

The project is based on a Spanish-language telenovela.

Thumbnail image for america ferrera.jpgAmerica Ferrera

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Report: Ad Sales at NBC News Trending $100 Million Below Budget

Advertising sales at NBC News are trending $100 million below budget, hurt by a ratings decline at "Today" in the key 25-to-54 demographic, reports the New York Post.

Because ABC's "Good Morning America" is now regularly beating "Today," it may take some ad money away from the NBC program when upfront negotiations start, the story notes. Since 2011, ad sales at "Today" are down by at least $50 million, the piece notes.

Fixing the problems at NBC News is now up to incoming boss Deborah Turness, who became the first female editor of a U.K. news division when she took on the top role at ITV News. As we reported separately, Turness was named today as the new president of NBC News.

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Who Are the Upfront's Overachieving Producers and Writers, With Multiple Orders?

This upfront season marked successes for several producers and writers who landed multiple orders for new series, including "Cougar Town" co-creator Bill Lawrence, who unveiled three new series at the upfront presentations last week, reports Deadline.com.

Lawrence's new shows are "Undateable" on NBC, "Surviving Jack" on Fox and "Ground Floor" on TBS. Lawrence's "Cougar Town" was also recently renewed for a fifth season by TBS.

J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot received two new orders for the 2013-14 TV season, with "Almost Human" at Fox and "Believe" at NBC.

Independent producer Aaron Kaplan at Kapital Entertainment received two new series orders, with "Back in the Game" at ABC and "Friends with Better Lives" at CBS. His freshman ABC comedy "The Neighbors" received a renewal, while his pilot "Bad Management" at ABC is in contention for a series pickup.

Others receiving multiple orders include "The Vampire Diaries" co-creator Julie Plec and former "ER" showrunner David Zabel.

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BBC Orders Season 8 of 'Doctor Who'

The BBC confirmed it's ordering the eighth season of "Doctor Who," with Steven Moffat returning as the lead writer and executive producer.

The broadcaster is also working on a 50th anniversary special that will air Nov. 23, and will feature past "Doctor Who" actors such as David Tennant and Billie Piper, the story notes.

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Report: DirecTV Considering Bid for Hulu

DirecTV is contemplating a bid for the online streaming service Hulu, reports The Wall Street Journal. Hulu's owners, which include Walt Disney, News Corp. and Comcast, are considering their options for Hulu, including a sale.

Interested bidders are reportedly said to include Time Warner Cable, Yahoo, Guggenheim Partners and Peter Chernin's investment group.

DirecTV may want the service to expand its "TV Everywhere" service, which offers TV shows online to its pay-TV customers. It's not clear whether DirecTV is interested in purchasing a minority stake, or the entire business.

The piece reports: "Some industry executives have expressed concerns about the potential for 'cord cutting,' or users choosing to drop pay-TV connections in favor of affordable online video services. Cable companies are relatively well-positioned for such a change, since they sell broadband subscriptions. Satellite operators DirecTV and rival Dish Network Corp. are more reliant on their video business."

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Is It Destiny? Reports Have Two Singers Close to Finalizing Deals to Be Judges on 'The X Factor.' Between Them They Have Sold Close to 100 Million (!) Albums

Fox's 'The X Factor" is talking to two singers who have sold close to 100 million albums between them to replace Britney Spears and L.A. Reid, two judges on the show this past season who will not be coming back this fall.

According to an exclusive story broken on Sunday, May 19, 2013, by TMZ, " 'The X Factor' is upping the sexy factor -- TMZ has learned Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio are signing on to be judges for next season. Sources connected to Fox tell TMZ the pair are in final negotiations to join the show ... with only minor details left to be hammered out before they sign on."

The TMZ story added, "A rep for Fox had no comment."

Rowland is probably best known as a member of "Destiny's Child" with Beyonce and Michelle Williams.That group sold about 50 million albums worldwide. As a solo artist Rowland has sold another 24 million albums.

From Mexico, Paulina Rubio has sold about 20 million albums worldwide.

The Hollywood Reporter's version of TMZ's exclusive said, "Rowland previously served as a judge on the eighth season of 'The X Factor' U.K. This wouldn’t be the first time Simon Cowell has pulled talent from his series across the pond. In the first season of 'The X Factor' U.S., Cowell had initially tapped Cheryl Cole to judge, though she was ultimately replaced by Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger, who herself later moved across the pond to judge in the U.K."

The other two judges on "The X Factor" are Cowell and Demi Lovato, both of whom were also judges on the show this past season as well.

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Singer-Songwriter Who Wrote Two No. 1 Hits Loses Battle with Cancer at 72

A singer-songwrtier who had two No. 1 hits has passed away at age 72, the Los Angeles Times reports.

One of the hits was a song sung by Helen Reddy. The other he sang himself.

Says the Times, "Alan O'Day, 72, who wrote popular songs for other artists, including Helen Reddy and the Righteous Brothers, but scored his own No. 1 single with 'Undercover Angel' in 1977, died Friday at his home in Westwood. The cause was cancer, according to his manager, Ken Kaufman."

The Times obituary also says "Earlier, O'Day wrote 'Rock and Roll Heaven,' a popular song for the Righteous Brothers, 'Train of Thought,' recorded by Cher, 'The Drum' for Bobby Sherman and 'Angie Baby,' which was a No. 1 hit for Reddy in 1974.

The story also notes, "Born in Hollywood, O'Day grew up in the Coachella Valley area. He later divided his time between Nashville and Los Angeles."

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Winning Powerball Ticket Sold in a Supermarket in a Town of About 12,000 People

A ticket that has the winning numbers in Saturday night's $590.5 million Powerball lottery jackpot was sold in a supermarket in a town of about 12,000 people.

The town is "Zephyrhills, Fla., a Florida Lottery official confirmed to NBC News early Sunday," reports NBC News.

Zephyrhills is about 30 miles northeast of Tampa, Fla.

The story continues, "Powerball's website said one winner was sold in Florida, and David Bishop of the Florida Lottery confirmed that it was sold at a Publix supermarket in Zephyrhills."

Here at TVWeek we also found this posted on the Powerball site: "There was one Powerball jackpot winner Saturday and 7,598,546 additional players won prizes totaling more than $84 Million."

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Powerball Jackpot Is Shy of $600 Million. Here are the Winning Numbers and the Amount of the Jackpot

Tonight's Powerball lottery jackpot came in shy of the $600 million that Powerball officials were estimating. As announced right before the drawing, the final tally of the jackpot was $590.5 million.

The winning numbers were 10,13,14,22 and 52. The Powerball was number 11.

It will not be known for a number of hours whether anyone has the winning numbers. Earlier, Powerball officials said 80% of all possible Powerball lottery combinations were represented in the tickets sold.

Only seven states do not participate in the Powerball lottery: Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. These states would need to make changes in their state laws (and/or their state constitutions) to participate.

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Golf Legend Who Overcame Childhood Stutter to Cover Golf for 35 Years on CBS Dies at 82. Read Here About His Storybook U.S. Open Win in 1964

A golfer who had a legendary career both on the links and as a golf analyst and commentator on CBS for 35 years, has died.

Ken Venturi, 82, "had been hospitalized for nearly two months for pneumonia and infections in his back and intestines, according to the San Francisco Chronicle and sfgate.com..

The story adds, "He survived prostate cancer in 2000-01 and quintuple heart-bypass surgery in 2006."

Venturi's career is filled with the kind of stuff you find made up in movies.

For example, take this account of Venturi winning the U.S. Open in 1964, taken from the San Francisco Chronicle/sfgate article mentioned above:

"[O]n June 20, 1964, Mr. Venturi became an enduring symbol of perseverance in winning the U.S. Open under brutal conditions on the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.

"He shot 66-70 on the final day -- back then, the tournament concluded with 36 holes on Saturday -- to win his only major championship.

"When his final putt dropped, sealing a four-shot victory, the magnitude of the moment almost stunned Mr. Venturi. He raised his arms, mumbled, 'Oh my God, I've won the Open!' and began crying when he saw tears streaming down the face of fellow competitor Raymond Floyd.

"Mr. Venturi didn't just win the Open -- he won it in unforgettable fashion."

The article continues, "It already was hot for the morning round, when Mr. Venturi surged into contention. His swift pace slowed as the heat took its toll. He started shaking on No. 17 and struggled to walk off the 18th green after completing his round.

"Dr. John Everett, a Congressional member, was summoned to the locker room to examine Mr. Venturi. Everett recommended he withdraw, fearing he might die if he tried to play another round. Everett walked all 18 holes with Venturi in the afternoon, regularly providing water and salt tablets.

"But the tale of this victory stretches beyond 100-degree heat and Mr. Venturi's fight through dehydration and exhaustion. His career was in tatters at the time -- he hadn't won in nearly four years and, less than a month earlier, he was practically broke and on the brink of returning to the San Francisco Bay Area to find a real job.

" 'It's hard to express, but to come back borders on a miracle,' Mr. Venturi said in 2011. 'It's storybook. It's fictional.' That it did happen resurrected his career and forever changed his life."

Venturi later joined the golf broadcasting team at CBS, where he delivered analysis and commentary for 35 years, retiring in 2002. One of the amazing things about that is that Venturi suffered from a severe stutter when he was growing up. It's one of the reasons he took up the solitary sport of golf in the first place.

Though he could not attend the event, Venturi was inducted in the World Golf Hall of Fame on May 6, 2013.

ken venturi.jpg

Ken Venturi

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Thursday Finales: One Show Plummets, Another One Surges (But Guess Which Show Is Going Off the Air)

It was a tale of two shows headed in opposite directions for a pair of finales on the broadcast networks Thursday night, but the series that surged in the ratings is now off the air while the series that plunged is likely to be around for a while.

NBC’s farewell episode of “The Office” saw a healthy increase in viewers, delivering a 3.0 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, based on time zone-adjusted Nielsen numbers reported by TVbytheNumbers.com. Meanwhile, the season finale of Fox’s “American Idol” sank 44% from last year’s number, drooping to a time zone-adjusted 3.6 in the demo. It was reportedly "Idol's" all-time lowest-rated finale.

For “The Office,” the 3.0 in 18-49 for the 75-minute finale represented a 16-month high and a big jump from last week’s 2.3. NBC opened the night with a retrospective hour focused on the series, which turned in a 2.0. “Hannibal” slipped one-tenth to a 1.0.

The top show of the night was the season finale of CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory,” which delivered a 4.4 in the 18-49 demo, matching the number for last year’s finale but losing five-tenths of a ratings point from last week’s episode. Also on CBS, “Elementary’s” two-hour season finale scraped up a 2.0 average, rising one-tenth from the series low the show suffered a week ago.

ABC also offered up a couple of season finales, with “Scandal” turning in a 3.2 average in viewers 18-49, equaling last week’s number, while “Grey’s Anatomy” dipped one-tenth to a 3.0. “Wipeout” fell three-tenths to a series-low 1.0.

Even with “Idol” way down, Fox still easily won the night, based on pre-time zone-adjusted numbers. Fox averaged a 3.4 for prime time overall in viewers 18-49 to CBS’s 2.6, ABC’s 2.4 and NBC’s 2.2. Fox was also on top in total viewers, averaging 13.6 million to lead CBS (10.4 million), ABC (7.2 million) and NBC (4.4 million).

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Cannes Film Festival Hit With $1 Million Jewel Heist

Thieves got away with about $1 million in jewelry earmarked for celebrities to wear at the Cannes Film Festival in France, The Washington Post reports. The gang reportedly pulled off the job this morning by ripping a safe out of a wall at a hotel near the festival.

“According to the BBC, an employee of Chopard, the Swiss jeweler, was staying in the room and the jewels were meant to be loaned to celebrities to wear at the French Riviera’s renowned festival,” the story reports. “Hours earlier, the festival had screened a film called ‘The Bling Ring,’ directed by Sofia Coppola and featuring Emma Watson, based on the true story of a group of high schoolers in Los Angeles. The film portrays students who ‘after seeing online when certain stars are expected at a premiere or other event, take the opportunity to steal designer bags, shoes and clothes from their homes, lingering to pretend to live in celebrity opulence,’ according to the AP.”

Jewel thefts have been a problem in the past for the area, known for its wealthy tourists, the piece notes.

The story reports: “This past holiday season, law enforcement agencies placed additional police on patrol and installed surveillance cameras, reported The Riviera Times, a local English-language newspaper: ‘As a hub for luxury tourism, the Riviera always attracts jewellery thieves and bank robbers. But this Christmas, the risk is even higher. “The price of gold has risen, we are in financial difficulty, delinquance [sic] persists -- we have all the ingredients for a highly tense Christmas!” said colonel Gael Marchand, head of the A.M. gendarmerie, in a report by Nice Matin.’”

The area had a large jewelry heist in 2009, the Post notes, although in that case it was not related to the festival. The report notes about the 2009 incident: “A man walked into a Cartier jewelry store wearing a Hawaiian shirt and produced a gun, ordering everyone inside to the floor. Two accomplices followed and scooped up around $21 million worth of jewels, according to New York [Magazine].”

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Another Media Outlet Hacked in Syria-Related Attack

Another major media outlet has been targeted by hackers focused on the situation in Syria. Advertising Age reports that the latest attack was focused on the Financial Times.

Messages related to the confict in Syria appeared on the publication’s blog and some of its social media accounts today. “The FT Trading Room account on Twitter posted two messages,” the piece reports. “One said ‘Syrian Electronic Army Was Here" and the other ‘Do you want to know the reality of the Syrian 'Rebels'? Just watch this video.’ The link showed a man cutting the heart from a corpse as an unidentified voice says, ‘I swear in the name of god that we will eat from your hearts and livers, you soldiers of Bashar the dog.’"

The hack raises concerns about the ease with which social-media accounts such as those on Twitter can be compromised.

On the Financial Times website, Robert Shrimsley, managing editor for FT.com, said: "We have now locked those accounts and are grateful for Twitter's help on this. Unfortunately this is an increasingly common issue for major news organizations."

Ad Age notes: “Last month, hackers hijacked the Associated Press's Twitter account, sending stock markets down 1% in a matter of seconds by posting a false claim that President Obama had been injured in an attack on the White House.”

The report quotes Stefano Zanero, an assistant professor in Politecnico di Milano University's computer engineering department, saying: "Twitter's information-technology security is still weak even though it has become an official communication tool for many companies. This is why it would need, for example, a two-factor authentication system based on a second password sent to users' mobile phones."

The piece adds: “The FT, owned by Pearson, said that some of its employees had received phishing e-mails in the days before the attack, designed to trick them into revealing information.”

The story also reports: “On the newspaper's @ftmedia Twitter page, a video clip -- since deleted -- was posted with the text ‘Jabnet A-Nosra terrorists executed innocent citizens #SEA #Syria.’ In the video, a masked person appears, reading from a paper before shooting about nine people kneeling blindfolded in the back of their heads. The gunman is flanked by two people carrying black flags with a white motif.”

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Diva Diss: J-Lo's 'Idol' Performance Fails to Get a Rise Out of Mariah

Oh, the drama. It seems it’s always something with those “American Idol” divas. In the latest buzz about the Fox singing competition, it seems Mariah Carey dissed Jennifer Lopez on Thursday’s season finale.

Us Weekly reports: “When former judge Jennifer Lopez delivered an energetic 10-minute performance on the season finale of ‘American Idol’ on May 16, Carey kept a fixed smile on her face but refused to join the other three judges in giving Lopez a standing ovation. She played with the streamers and grinned straight ahead instead.

“Earlier in the night, Carey took to the stage with a pre-recorded medley of her greatest hits, including ‘Vision of Love,’ ‘Make It Happen,’ ‘My All,’ ‘Hero,’ ‘We Belong Together,’ and ‘#Beautiful,’ but it was Lopez's dance-infused performance that had the audience pumped.”

If that weren’t enough, rumors began circulating online soon after Carey’s medley saying the singer had lip-synched the performance.

Lopez's performance consisted of her dance hit "Live It Up," with a guest appearance by rapper Pitbull.

The report notes about Lopez and Carey: “The pair have a history of controversy together that dates back to a time when Carey's ex-husband Tommy Mottola gave material she'd selected for her ‘Glitter’ soundtrack to Lopez after she'd left his label. Lopez, 43, was previously a judge on the hit Fox singing competition, and has been rumored to be returning to the judge's table in an upcoming season as the Fox series struggles in the ratings.”

Lopez has been non-committal about whether she wants back on the show. Asked about it by TV Guide, she said recently: "I don't know! When I say, 'I don't know,' people think, 'Oh, she's playing a game.' I'm not. If it became really real where I had to make a decision, I would have to sit down and really weigh out the options of what my life looks like in the next year to see if I would sign."

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for jennifer-lopez.jpgJennifer Lopez

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Shine International Appoints CEO

Shine Group -- the production company group behind scripted and non-scripted TV programs including “The Biggest Loser” and “MasterChef” -- has confirmed Nadine Nohr as CEO of Shine International, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The appointment comes after a successful run for Nohr as interim CEO.

“Nohr originally accepted the role on a yearlong basis in September 2012 and has been a consultant to Shine International since 2010, overseeing the relocation and restructure of Shine Group's global distribution company in 2011,” the story reports. “Prior to joining Shine, Nohr had held a variety of roles within international distribution, including that of managing director of Granada International for 12 years.”

Said Alex Mahon, Shine Group CEO: “Nadine has been exceptional in her leadership of Shine International, and I am delighted that she has accepted our request to become the permanent CEO. She has been instrumental in the company’s recent successes, rapid growth and good health. I am tremendously excited for the times that lie ahead for Shine International with Nadine at the helm. She is a true master of the international sales business, and we are fortunate to have her experience.”

Added Nohr: “With such a dynamic team throughout Shine, brilliant third-party clients and a varied and quality catalog to bring to broadcasters I am thrilled about the many opportunities the future holds here.”

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Syfy Pulling the Plug on Series That Has Been a Fan Favorite

Syfy will pull the plug on a drama series that has been a fan favorite -- but the show will get a fifth and final season, Deadline.com reports.

The series is "Warehouse 13," which will air a six-episode final season, with production slated to start this summer and the season to premiere in 2014.

The show tracks Secret Service agents as they hunt down magical artifacts, which are often dangerous. The program "always seemed to play second-fiddle to something on the Syfy schedule, even when it was the cable channel's top-rated scripted program," notes sci-fi publication Airlock Alpha.

The article adds: "It still brings in a strong audience. However, it has been recently overshadowed by the new Syfy series 'Defiance,' which indirectly caused 'Warehouse 13' to get pushed to the 10 p.m. slot -- a death slot for a family-oriented show."

 

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High-Profile Online Project Dead: Producer Says Viewers 'Hated It Out of Existence'

The writer and producer of a high-profile online project gave a stark assessment of why the show won’t be moving past the pilot stage, New York Magazine’s Vulture reports.

The project is Amazon's "Zombieland," one of the Internet company's first group of pilots, which won't receive a series order, according to the report. The news was relayed in a tweet from its writer and producer Rhett Rheese, who also wrote the 2009 movie it was based on.

"Sad for everyone involved. I'll never understand the vehement hate the pilot received from die-hard 'Zombieland' fans. You guys successfully hated it out of existence. Anyway, we did our best, and we're very proud of our team," Rheese wrote.

Amazon has also passed on "Browsers," as the company narrows down which projects to pursue, according to Deadline.com.

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Emmy-Nominated Actor Hit With Felony Drug Charge

A young actor who has been getting attention for his work on television, including receiving a Daytime Emmy nomination in 2010, has been hit with a felony drug charge, CNN reports.

Dylan Michael Patton, 20, was charged with selling cocaine out of his home in Agoura Hills, Calif. Patton is known for playing Will Horton from 2009-2010 on NBC’s “Days of Our Lives.” He received a Daytime Emmy nomination for outstanding young actor in a drama series for the role in 2010.

Because his home is next to an elementary school, the criminal complaint includes a charge of selling drugs within 1,000 feet of an elementary school, the report notes.

“Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies arrested Patton at his home, which they then searched, according to the Los Angeles [County] District Attorney's Office,” the story reports. It quotes a release from the DA’s Office saying: "Deputies allegedly seized cocaine from the residence.”

The report adds: “Prosecutors said they will ask Patton's bail be set at $30,000. He would face up to nine years in prison if convicted.”

Born in Texas, Patton began his acting career in commercials at age 7, and has made guest appearances on “Cold Case” and “That’s So Raven.” He has been nominated for two Young Artist Awards -- in 2008 for his guest performance on “Cold Case,” and in 2011 for his work on “Days of Our Lives.”

dylan-patton2.jpgDylan Michael Patton

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Viral Internet Star Arrested on Murder Charge

An Internet star who has appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and has been featured on other television programs was arrested on a murder charge. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Kai the hatchet-wielding hitchhiker, whose real name is Caleb Lawrence McGillvary, was arrested in connection with the murder of New Jersey attorney Joseph Galfy.

Kai gained some fame thanks to a viral video that included a memorable news interview with him, which was featured by "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central and led to an appearance on "Kimmel."

Authorities charge that the hitchhiker murdered the attorney, 73, who was found beaten to death in his bedroom, wearing only his socks and underwear.

According to the Sun-Times, statements on Kai's Facebook page after the attorney's death asked “what would you do?” if you awoke in a stranger’s house and found you’d been drugged and sexually assaulted. One commenter suggested hitting the culprit with a hatchet, to which Kai responded, "I like your idea," the story says.

Union County, N.J., prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow said, “I believe that everyone is a little safer with this person off the streets,” according to the Sun-Times report.

Kai's viral video has been viewed more than 3.9 million times on YouTube, the report notes.

Here’s the “Colbert Report” clip:

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Kanye West, Set for 'SNL' Appearance This Weekend, Goes on a Profanity-Laced Rant Against Sketch Comedy

Kanye West is set to appear on this weekend's "Saturday Night Live," but in a profanity-laced rant while appearing at the Adult Swim upfront, made it clear he wouldn't do any sketches on the show, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

West said a friend had asked him if he would do a "skit about the paparazzi" and "humanize" himself.

"I ain’t here to apologize to no [one], man. It ain’t about me humanizing myself,” was his retort, according to the story. “At what point did I become un-human where I had to turn myself back? Or maybe I was demonized. Or maybe I was treated inhumane and not human in that kind of situation.”

He also said: “Nah, I ain’t doing no f--king 'SNL' skits … this my … life. This ain’t no f--king joke. That’s it.”

Ben Affleck will host this Saturday's show, which is the season finale.

West also said during the upfront appearance: “One thing about me, I’m the worst kinda … celebrity because all I do is make real music. All I do is sit in the studio and make real, real s--t. That’s mother f--king it. … So I don’t want nobody trying to run up on me with no cameras, trying to sell pictures and s--t to magazines, asking me no dumbass questions, throwing me off my focus.”

Here’s a teaser for this weekend’s “SNL” -- which almost qualifies as West appearing in a sketch:

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'Grey's Anatomy' Star Says He Wants to Become a Barista, Possibly Turn to Selling Pot

"Grey's Anatomy" star Patrick Dempsey tells Bon Appetit magazine that he bought Tully's, a rival to Starbucks, because he wanted to bring the company back to life, but adds that he has a goal of becoming a "certified barista."

"I want to become a certified barista and work in the stores," he told the publication. He said he drinks about five cups of coffee a day.

"It doesn't really affect me," he said, in reply to whether his coffee habit keeps him from sleeping. "Coffee is good for your mind -- it's basically a legalized drug. The next step is selling marijuana, of course."

Asked whether Tully's would ever sell pot, he replied, "Great question. There's a business model there. You could present it in a beautiful, elegant way: a Michelin-starred coffee shop where you can get marijuana."

Patrick-Dempsey2.jpgPatrick Dempsey

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Singer George Michael Airlifted to Hospital With Head Injury After Traffic Collision

Pop singer George Michael was airlifted to a hospital Thursday after receiving what was reported as a head injury in a single-vehicle collision in England, TMZ.com reports.

Doctors said the singer, who was part of the pop duo Wham! and has had a successful solo career, was expected to be OK, according to the report.

“According to the singer's rep, Michael was a passenger in a Range Rover that crashed on the M1 motorway (a huge freeway) at around 5:50 PM local time,” TMZ reports. “The rep says no [other] vehicles were involved in the crash. It's unclear exactly what caused the collision.”

A statement released by a rep for the emergency response team says: "[George] sustained a head injury and following treatment, stabilisation and immobilization by land and air ambulance crews, he was flown to the hospital for further care."

The spokesperson for Michael said the singer suffered "superficial cuts" and was recovering.

Michael has reportedly sold more than 100 million records worldwide, and was ranked in 2008 as the 40th most successful artist on the Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists list.

george-michael.jpgGeorge Michael

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ESPN Snatches U.S. Open From CBS -- Dealing Another Blow to Broadcast Sports Rights

In what The New York Times calls the "latest assault on the fraying broadcast sports model," ESPN said it will take control of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in 2015, ending CBS's almost half-century airing the event. We reported earlier this week that ESPN was close to a deal for the event, which has aired on CBS since 1968.

The Times notes: "ESPN already has the tournament’s cable rights and will pay $825 million over 11 years to combine what it has carried since 2009 with what CBS has televised. It also promised that every match would be seen live on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPN3, the broadband network."

In an interview, ESPN President John Skipper played down the difference between broadcast and cable. "We feel that sports rights are the most valuable commodity in media. The difference between broadcast and cable is inconsequential," he told The Times.

Under the deal, ESPN will pay $75 million a year for the open, or almost quadruple what it had been paying.

"Still, it amounts to pocket change for ESPN, which in 2014 will start a long-term deal in which it will pay $1.9 billion a year to continue to carry 'Monday Night Football,'" the piece notes.

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'Wonder Woman' Prequel Still Alive

It’s too soon to write off a “Wonder Woman” prequel that has been in the works for broadcast TV. EW.com’s Inside TV reports that “Amazon” is still in development at the CW, according to network President Mark Pedowitz -- even though the project was missing from CW’s fall schedule, released this week.

"It’s being redeveloped. We don’t want to produce something” that didn't do the character justice, Pedowitz said. "It’s the trickiest of all the DC characters."

A casting call earlier this development season said the project was looking for a 5-foot-8 or taller actress to play Iris, a "fierce warrior with the innocent heart of a romantic, and she will fight to the death to make the world safe.”

Pedowitz noted that “the basics” are already in place for the project, the piece reports, but he indicated that the execution was lacking.

Click here to see preview clips for the CW’s new series for fall.

 

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Revived Online Soap Operas Cutting Back Their Schedule

The revived online versions of "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" are having their schedules cut back. The New York Post reports that the shows will be cut back to twice-a-week airings starting Monday.

Both shows debuted April 29 on Hulu and iTunes, and they have been running four times a week. The decision to cut back to twice a week was made to avoid overloading viewers with content, according to producers.

"All My Children" will air new shows on Mondays and Wednesdays, while "One Life to Live" will air its new installments on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“In the past these shows had their vast majority of views within the first 24 hours,” Jeff Kwatinetz and Rich Frank of production company Prospect Park said in a statement. “Instead, our shows are primarily consumed on different days than when they originally air.

“Primarily, fans have been binge-viewing or watching on demand, and as a result, we feel we have been expecting our audience to dedicate what has turned out to be an excessive amount of time to viewing these shows.”

 

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'Sarah Connor Chronicles' Producer Moves to Universal, Joins Pirate Project

Josh Friedman, the executive producer behind "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles," has signed a two-year overall deal with Universal Television and will join the new pirate drama "Crossbones," The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

Friedman is moving from 20th Television. Under his new deal, he will develop and supervise projects for the studio and will work as the co-executive producer on "Crossbones," which stars John Malkovich.

He recently served as an executive producer and writer on last year's drama pilot "The Asset," which was passed over at Fox. He also served as a writer and consulting producer on Fox's "The Finder," the short-lived spinoff from "Bones."

 

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HBO Orders Comedy Series From 'King of the Hill' Creator

HBO continues to move further into comedy, placing a series order for a project from Mike Judge, the creator of animated shows such as "King of the Hill," The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

The project is an untitled comedy set in modern Silicon Valley, with a cast that includes T.J. Miller, Thomas Middleditch, Josh Brener, Lindsey Broad, Christopher Evan Welch, Amanda Crew, Angela Trimbur, Zach Woods and Kumail Nanjiani, the story notes.

The order marks the second comedy series order this week from HBO, which also greenlighted an untitled gay-themed comedy starring Jonathan Groff, as we reported previously.

“The recent additions also join ‘Getting On’ (six episodes from the creators of ‘Big Love’) and Stephen Merchant's ‘Hello Ladies’ (eight episodes) as well as Christopher Guest entry ‘Family Tree,’ which bowed this month to lackluster returns,” THR adds.

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Lifetime Announces Premiere Date for Jodi Arias Movie -- Even as the Convicted Murderer Is Having Her Fate Decided in Court

While the penalty phase of her murder trial was playing out today elsewhere on cable, Lifetime unveiled plans for its movie about convicted murderer Jodi Arias, USA Today reports.

The network announced that “Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret” will premiere June 22 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

“Tania Raymonde (‘Lost’) plays Arias, 32, who was recently found guilty of the 2008 killing of her former lover, Travis Alexander (Jesse Lee Soffer, ‘The Mob Doctor’), after a day of sex. Alexander suffered a slashed throat, numerous stab wounds and a bullet in the head in the attack,” the story reports. “Arias could face the death penalty in the sensational Arizona case.”

“Ugly Betty’s” Tony Plana will play prosecutor Juan Martinez, with David Zayas of “Dexter” appearing as detective Esteban Flores.

“The film finished production this week but still has time to address the outcome of the penalty phase, depending on how long that takes,” the report notes. “Lifetime also plans to broadcast an hour-long documentary, ‘Jodi Arias: Beyond the Headlines,’ on Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT. It explores their relationship and Alexander's murder.”

While news broke of Lifetime’s plans, cable news channel HLN today was providing full coverage of the Arias trial, in which it was being decided whether Arias will be sentenced to death.

Thumbnail image for jodi-arias.jpgJodi Arias

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CBS Names New VP of News Services

CBS News has announced a key executive appointment. Deadline.com reports that the division filled the position of vice president, News Services, naming Kurt Davis to the post.

“Davis will lead CBS News’ satellite newsgathering organization, which provides news and information to 200 CBS affiliates as well as to broadcasters around the world,” the story reports. “The appointment is effective immediately, and he will be based in New York.”

Davis has spent 10 years as executive news director for CBS affiliate KENS-TV in San Antonio, Texas.

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Shakira's Out at NBC's 'The Voice,' but Another Coach Will Be Back

On the heels of news that Shakira is leaving NBC’s “The Voice,” the show has confirmed that one of its other high-profile coaches, Christina Aguilera, will be back, E! Online reports.

Host Carson Daly talked about Aguilera’s return: "We're all excited," he told E! News. "She helped launch the show, and like we've said with all of our coaches, this isn't their day jobs. They're not celebrity judges, they are real artists and they have to tour and it's great to have her come back into the fold."

Daly also commented on Shakira’s departure, saying it wasn’t a complete surprise. "There's a lot of moving parts, a lot of scheduling, as you can imagine,” he said. “The way this show shoots in a calendar, if you and I sat down and I laid it all out, you'd have to make decisions pretty early that take effect sometimes four or five or six months later. With these people's busy schedules, we make decisions. Plus, we're on twice a year now. The show's doing well; we think we'll be here for a while, so hopefully there will be a bunch of big name artists that might have a red chair in the future!"

Shakira told the publication, commenting on her decision to leave the show: "It was a hard decision for me to make, because I'm really fond of the coaches, the people in production and everybody around me."

Now speculation is focusing on whether Usher will return after this season. Asked about Usher, Daly was inconclusive, offering this comment: "I don't know. He might be back, he might not. He might be back now. He might be back later, but he's been an incredible addition to the show. I hope he comes back, if not now, soon!"

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Christina Aguilera

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Fox Rides Reality Lineup to Nightly Ratings Win

“American Idol” continues its lackluster season in the ratings, but the veteran singing competition had enough left in the tank to push Fox to a nightly win in the key 18-49 demo Wednesday night, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “Idol” equaled last week’s 2.9 average rating in viewers 18-49. Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance,” meanwhile, rose four-tenths of a ratings point from the night before, scoring a 2.3.

That was enough for a Fox win for the night, even with ABC’s “Modern Family” coming in as the top show of the night -- up two-tenths from a week ago to a 3.5.

ABC’s “The Middle” and “Nashville” also rose from last week. “The Middle” was up one-tenth to a 1.9 in 18-49, while “Nashville” ticked up two-tenths to a 1.8. “Family Tools” (1.2 average) and “How to Live With Your Parents” (2.0) matched last week’s numbers.

CBS aired a mix of repeats and fresh programming, with a new episode of “Criminal Minds” equaling last week’s 2.5 average in adults 18-49, while a fresh “CSI” slipped two-tenths to a 2.0.

NBC’s best performer was “Chicago Fire,” which rose one-tenth from last week to a 1.9 in the 18-49 demo. “Law & Order: SVU” lost four-tenths to a 1.5, while “Dateline” equaled its previous Wednesday original’s 1.3.

For prime time as a whole, Fox led the way with a 2.6 average in the 18-49 demo, followed by ABC (2.0 average), CBS (1.9) and NBC (1.6). Fox also won total viewers, averaging 9.3 million to lead CBS (7.9 million), ABC (6.4 million) and NBC (6.3 million).

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Video: CBS Breaks Out First-Look Trailers for New Series

The CBS Network has unveiled first-look video clips for a number of its new fall series. Here they are:

The Millers

The Crazy Ones

Hostages

Intelligence

Mom

We Are Men

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Onetime Michael Jackson Defense Witness Changes His Tune, Calls Jackson a Pedophile

A former friend of Michael Jackson -- and onetime witness on behalf of the late pop singer -- appeared on television calling Jackson a pedophile and detailing allegations that Jackson sexually abused him as a child.

CNN reports that Wade Robson called the singer “a pedophile and a child sexual abuser.” Robson, a dancer and choreographer who was befriended by Jackson when Robson was 5 years old, appeared Wednesday on NBC’s “Today” show.

Robson is seeking payment from Jackson’s estate for the alleged child sexual abuse.

“Robson, now 30, denied in testimony at Jackson's child molestation trial in 2005 that he had been molested by the singer,” CNN reports. “Two months after Jackson's death in 2009, Robson said they had ‘a wonderful relationship’ and he called Jackson ‘a kind human being.’"

An attorney for the singer’s estate called Robson’s new allegations "outrageous and pathetic."

“The accusation came in the form of a creditor's claim against the estate in a Los Angeles probate court this month,” the report notes.

Robson told Matt Lauer on the “Today” show: "This is not a case of repressed memory. I never forgot one moment of what Michael did to me, but I was psychologically and emotionally completely unable and unwilling to understand that it was sexual abuse."

Robson added: "He performed sexual acts on me and forced me to perform sexual acts on him.”

“Robson said the abuse started when he was 7 years old, when he often visited Jackson's Neverland Ranch. It continued until he was 14, he said,” the CNN piece reports. “Jackson was acquitted of child molestation charges in 2005, partly based on the testimony of Robson, his sister and his mother.”

Tom Mesereau, the lawyer who defended Jackson in the 2005 trial, said: "It's absurd. He was one of the strongest witnesses for the defense at Michael Jackson's criminal trial in 2005. He was adamant under oath that he had never been molested at any time."

“Robson said his denial to investigators during a 1993 criminal investigation was the result of Jackson's ‘complete manipulation and brainwashing’ of him. He denied Jackson ever offered money to keep him quiet,” CNN reports.

Robson reportedly said: "He would call me every day and role play and tell me the same sort of things and also tell me then that if anyone ever thought that we did these things, any of these sexual things, that both of us would go to jail for the rest of our lives.”

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The CW Takes the Wraps Off Video Previews of New Programs

The CW has released a number of first-look trailers for its new fall programs. Here they are:

The 100

The Originals

Reign

Star-Crossed

The Tomorrow People

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As NBC Mulls Fate of Drama Series, Other Networks Are Interested

One drama series went through the upfronts without learning whether NBC will renew it, but Deadline.com reports that at least one cable network is interested in the show, “Hannibal,” if NBC decides to pass.

Amazon has also expressed interest, the story adds. The show started off with strong numbers but viewers lost interest as the season progressed, and NBC has put its renewal decision on hold.

"There are no talks going on and 'Hannibal' has not been shopped as the producers are waiting on a renewal at NBC," the piece says.

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Report: Another Judge Leaving 'American Idol'

After the announcement that longtime judge Randy Jackson is leaving Fox's "American Idol," singer and rapper Nicki Minaj is also planning to depart, reports US Weekly.

Minaj will be focusing on her next album, touring and her endorsements, with a source close to her saying that she had planned all along to judge on the show for only one season.

Minaj joined the series last year, along with fellow judges Keith Urban and Mariah Carey. Despite an ongoing feud between Minaj and Carey, ratings for the show sank this season.

Carey hasn't yet made her plans clear, while Urban has also been quiet about whether he will return.

As previously reported, the show is said to be replacing all four judges, along with longtime producer Nigel Lythgoe, because of the show's ratings slump.

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Nicki Minaj

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Why the ACLU Is Trying to Influence the Storyline on a Major TV Sitcom

The American Civil Liberties Union is lobbying for a storyline on a major television comedy series. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the advocacy group wants the characters Cam and Mitch from ABC’s "Modern Family" to get married.

The group launched a website, ModernFamilyWedding.com, which includes a petition to alert the producers that Americans will watch if Mitch and Cam -- played by Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet, respectively -- exchange vows. The effort is a bid by the ACLU to raise awareness for marriage equality.

"We’re doing this not just because we love ‘Modern Family,’ but because we are at a watershed moment when the Supreme Court is considering two cases regarding the freedom to marry; when states are passing marriage equality laws with increasing frequency; and a majority of Americans support marriage equality," the ACLU said.

Gay characters on TV have helped generate support for same-sex marriage, according to a Hollywood Reporter survey in November.

The report notes: “The ACLU's move comes after a particularly rough week for LGBT characters on TV. Following a 2012-13 broadcast season that featured a record number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters, this past week's wave of cancellations -- which included ‘The New Normal,’ ‘Smash,’ ‘Go On’ as well as ‘Southland’ and ‘Happy Endings’ -- will drastically change those results.”

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Aereo Going for Knockout Punch in Legal Battle With Broadcasters

In its legal battle with broadcasters, Aereo is looking to score what The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq. calls "the ultimate ruling."

The Barry Diller-backed company filed for summary judgment in the case, which is looking into the legality of Aereo’s service providing acces to over-the-air television programming to consumers’ digital devices.

If U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan agrees with Aereo’s contention that no jury could conclude that Aereo technology violates broadcasters’ public performance rights, the case will not go to trial, the story notes.

Aereo has already scored a pair of legal victories, “beating back a preliminary injunction and affirming the ruling at an appeals court,” the report notes.

The broadcasters believe the case isn't yet over, and are expected to respond soon to Aereo's request, the story says.

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Why Shakira Is Leaving 'The Voice'

Shakira has confirmed that she won't return to NBC's "The Voice" for the show's fifth season, soon after reports surfaced that Christina Aguilera is in talks to return to the show, reports E! Online.

"It was a hard decision for me to make, because I'm really fond of the coaches, the people in production and everybody around me," she said. "And I really enjoyed 'The Voice,' but I also have a musical career and I'm also a mother now and my poor baby's so tired flying such long distances. He already has more miles than any pilot. So I think I have to give him a little break, and we'll see what happens in the future."

Shakira gave birth to her son Milan in January.

There are also reports that Usher may not return to the show.

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CNN's Soledad O'Brien Defends Comments After 'Black in America' Sparks Controversy; New Project Will Again Focus on Race

After receiving criticism for what some called the divisive nature of "Black in America" and recent comments she made about white reaction to the series, Soledad O'Brien said she's happy to continue the conversation about race and is developing "White in America," reports TVNewser.

Her earlier, criticized remarks were made at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, where she spoke about the CNN documentary. She said, "First of all, it’s only white people who ever said that -- ‘If we could just see beyond race. If only people didn’t see race, it would be such a better place, and you are responsible for bringing up these icky race issues, Soledad, you should just let sleeping dogs lie.' I was like, again, ‘OK, white person, this is a conversation that you’re clearly uncomfortable with, and I have no problem seeing race, and I think we should talk about race.'"

In a later response, O'Brien said her comments were then taken out of context by the blogosphere.

She added, "As a journalist, my job is to probe the uncomfortable topics to drive conversation. I’m happy to see that’s still happening as a result of ‘Black In America,’ and I look forward to continuing that conversation as we continue to tell the stories of who we are. We’re not just working on ‘BIA,’ but also developing a ‘White in America.’ Stay tuned for that one.”

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Soledad O'Brien

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USA Moves Into Comedy With First Orders in 15 years

USA Network has shifted into comedy mode with its first green lights for comedy projects in 15 years, reports Deadline.com.

The cable channel placed series orders for "Sirens," from comedian and actor Denis Leary, and "Playing House," from Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham, the story says. The network has also picked up the comedy pilot "Love Is Dead," but won't move forward with "Paging Dr. Freed."

"Sirens" and "Playing House" will accompany "Modern Family" on USA's schedule and debut in the first quarter of 2014, the story notes. "Modern Family" will start airing reruns on USA on Sept. 24.

"With 'Modern Family' joining our lineup in the fall, we can leverage television’s most popular comedy to serve as a powerful launch pad for new originals in this genre,” said USA Co-President Chris McCumber.

"Sirens" is about three Chicago EMTs who are great at saving lives, but not always successful in their relationships, the story says. "Playing House" is about a pregnant woman and her career-focused best friend, while "Love Is Dead" is about a company that specializes in breaking up romantic relationships for those who will pay for someone else to handle it.

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Time Warner Cable May Bid for Hulu

Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Glenn Britt is talking with other cable operators about joining forces in a bid for streaming service Hulu, reports the New York Post.

The idea would make sense, given that the cable industry is threatened by the growing popularity of streaming video from Hulu, Netflix and Amazon.

The pay-TV operators could then turn Hulu into an "authenticated" service, which would allow subscribers to continue receiving it as long as they paid for cable, the piece notes.

Hulu's owners -- News Corp., Disney and Comcast -- reportedly want bids by May 23, and have hired Guggenheim Partners to explore a sale.

Comcast, the country's biggest cable service, controls about one-third of Hulu but can't control it, a condition of its 2010 acquisition of NBCUniversal. Under the plan, Comcast would keep its stake, while Time Warner Cable and other pay-TV companies would buy out the other partners, an idea that Comcast CEO Brian Roberts likes, the story says.

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Viacom Slapped With Class-Action Lawsuit Over Alleged Spam

Snooki is getting another 15 minutes of fame thanks to a new lawsuit. Viacom was hit with a class-action suit Tuesday that alleges a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act because MTV reportedly sent promotional texts to people who voted in the 2011 Video Music Awards, according to TheWrap.com.

The lawsuit claims a Tennessee resident voted in the 2011 VMAs via text message, and then was hit with promotional texts such as, "MTV: 'Jersey Shore' sneak peek of tonight's episode -- why is Snooki lying in a bush? Watch," according to the story.

The lawsuit alleges that MTV didn't tell viewers that they had agreed to receive spam texts by voting. Viacom didn't have comment on the lawsuit, the story says.

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This Year's Upfront Is About Second Chances

This year's upfront presentations have been about second chances, with some previously rejected projects getting to see the light, writes Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

"Of the four new scripted series showcased at the Turner upfront presentation [Wednesday], three had been previously developed at other networks,” Andreeva writes. “That includes David Baldacci/Shane Brennan’s TNT drama 'King And Maxwell,' which was at CBS; Howard Gordon/Jeffrey Nachmanoff’s TNT drama 'Legends,' which was at NBC; and Bill Lawrence/Greg Malins TBS comedy 'Ground Floor,' which was at CBS."

At CBS, the network unveiled "We Are Men," a comedy that was written years ago by Rob Greenberg. CBS had asked him to convert it to multicamera, but he didn't. It finally was picked up as a single-camera comedy last summer, according to his original vision.

Another project that received a second chance is "The Goldbergs," which was set up at Fox last year but then ended up at ABC.

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Univision and Telemundo on the Hidden Reason Their Viewers Are a Better Deal for Advertisers

Univision and Telemundo are pitching advertisers on the old-school nature of their viewers, telling them that they don't digitally record shows to fast-forward through the ads, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

Both networks touted their new season schedules to advertisers in separate upfront presentations, but they had a similar message, the story says.

"Both claimed that their viewers were more engaged and more passionate than viewers of the four major broadcast networks. Univision noted that more than 90% of viewing of Spanish-language shows is done in real time, compared with about 65% for the English-language networks," the Times says.

The Spanish-language networks want to expand their share of the TV advertising pie. While the English-language broadcasters have seen declining audiences in recent years, they are still also hoping to boost ad rates, the piece notes.

"Our country is changing. In fact, it has already changed," Univision advertising executive Steve Mandala said. "We are the power behind the opening weekend of many movies ... and if you are trying to sell autos you cannot succeed without the Hispanic audience."

He added, "Univision is the only network where you pay for more, not for less."

Both networks expect to book more sales this year, the piece says. Telemundo has added more than 100 ad clients during the past year, and expects more growth for the next season, the piece says, citing Emilio Romano, president of Telemundo Media.

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Amazon Nearing Orders for Original Series

Amazon Studios is getting closer to picking up some of its pilots to series, and has started notifying those projects that are getting series orders, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

Those considered likely to receive an order include "Alpha House," which stars John Goodman and is written by Garry Trudeau, and "Betas," produced by Michael London.

"I also hear positive things about 'The Onion Presents: The News,' starring Jeffrey Tambor, from The Onion’s Will Graham & Dan Mirk, and 'Zombieland,' based on the hit movie, written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, though their fate is unclear," Andreeva writes.

The orders would mark the first original series for Amazon, and are coming out of its first slate of 14 pilots -- eight comedies and six children's shows.

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A Spinoff of 'Vampire Diaries' and Two Other New Series, Plus 4 Returning Shows Will Be on New Nights: CW Unveils Fall Schedule

Next season's TV lineup for the CW "transplants four shows to new nights and adds three new dramas, including a spinoff of 'The Vampire Diaries' introduced in an April episode of that hit series," reports our good friend Gary Levin in USA Today.

Levin adds about  the spinoff, called "The Originals," that it will be "centered on Klaus (Joseph Morgan) and set in New Orleans, [and] won't be paired with 'Vampire' on the schedule. Instead, it will open Tuesdays, which has not been a strong night for the network."

Here's the fall schedule for the CW. New shows are in ITALICS:

Monday:
8 p.m. Hart of Dixie
9 p.m. Beauty and the Beast (new time period)

Tuesday:
8 p.m. The Originals
9 p.m. Supernatural (new time period)

Wednesday:
8 p.m. Arrow
9 p.m. The Tomorrow People

Thursday:
8 p.m. The Vampire Diaries
9 P.m. Reign

Friday:
8 p.m. The Carrie Diaries (new time period)
9 p.m. America's Next Top Model (new time period)

One of the best TV writers around, Lisa de Moraes of the Washington Post, writes of the CW's other new shows: " 'Reign,' on Thursdays, will take liberties with the history of Mary Queen of Scots. In CW’s rewrite of history, Mary arrives in France with four close friends as her ladies-in-waiting --that’s a 1500s posse -- to marry the French king’s hot son, Prince Francis. But Francis has a 'history' with a lady of the court -- as if that mattered! Then there’s Francis’ 'roguish' half-brother, Bash -- never thought we’d see 'roguish' in a CW announcement -- who Mary thinks is pretty hot too."

De Moraes adds: " 'The Tomorrow People,' on Wednesday, is about a genetically advanced race with the abilities of telekinesis, teleportation, and telepathic communication, who, understandably, are being hunted down by scientists. But not just any scientists. Evil, paramilitary scientists, known as the Ultra."

Finally, de Moraes notes: "On the bench are a sci-fi update of the Romeo and Juliet story called 'Star-Crossed,' about a crazy-in-love teenaged girl and teenaged alien. Also waiting for a time slot: 'The 100,' named after the 100 -- 100 juvenile delinquents sent down to Earth, like canaries in a coal mine, to see if it’s inhabitable, 97 years after a nuclear war.

"And, if Tyra Banks has been the face of reality TV all these years on CW, the new face is Harvey Levin, star of 'Famous in 12.' One lucky fame-seeking family will be shipped to Los Angeles to see if they can become the next Kardashians in just 12 weeks. They’ll be guided by the TMZ machine, with Levin at the helm. Family members will appear on the TMZ television show and on TMZ.com. They will circulate, day to day, at well-known celebrity hangouts. They will have their 'unique and varied talents' cultivated, to create a public profile fit for a Kardashian. Bet you never thought you’d see 'Kardashian' and 'talents' in the same sentence, did you?"

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Warner Bros. Confirms Rosenblum's Exit, Outlines Management Changes

Warner Bros. Television Group confirmed the departure of President Bruce Rosenblum, which we reported earlier this week, and detailed a number of changes that are taking place among top management, B&C reports.

Production and distribution for the company’s worldwide television operations will be overseen by Peter Roth, Craig Hunegs and Jeffrey Schlesinger, the piece reports.

“The changes are effective immediately and were announced as the longtime head of Warner Bros. Television Group Bruce Rosenblum prepares to leave the company. They are the first executive changes announced by Kevin Tsujihara, CEO, Warner Bros., since he assumed his position,” B&C reports.

The story adds: “Under the new management structure, Peter Roth will become president and chief content officer of WBTV Group, while keeping his title as president of the TV studio. Rosenblum's deputy Craig Hunegs becomes president, business and strategy, Warner Bros. Television Group, with responsibility for the business operations. The longtime head of the studio’s international TV division, Jeffrey Schlesinger, becomes president of worldwide TV distribution.”

Roth, Hunegs and Schlesinger will report directly to Tsujihara.

“Roth and Schlesinger will share oversight of Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Marketing, headed by Lisa Gregorian, chief marketing officer, Warner Bros. Television Group,” B&C reports. “Ken Werner, president of Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, will report to Schlesinger and remain in his role of head of distribution for all television shows produced by Warner Bros. and Telepictures, the first-run production arm of Warner Bros. Television. Hilary Estey-McGloughlin remains president of Telepictures, which now feeds into Roth.”

In a statement, Tsujihara said: "The digital revolution continues to change every aspect of the way we do business, and this strategic realignment will help us address those changes to better deliver our world-class content to the widest array of consumers across the globe. Warner Bros. has the world's best television series, films, games and original digital content, and we are committed to maximizing its value to the company, our creative partners and, ultimately, consumers."

The repor adds: “As part of the changes at the studio, the studio's digital strategy will be consolidated under one executive with Thomas Gewecke becoming chief digital officer of Warner Bros. Entertainment.”

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Fox Reality Show Returns to Lower Numbers

A veteran Fox reality series opened its new season on a down note Tuesday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the one-hour season premiere of “So You Think You Can Dance” settled for a 1.9 average, down from a 2.4 for last year’s premiere and a 2.2 in the 8-9 p.m. hour last year.

For the night, Fox came in a distant third in the key demo, and fourth in total viewers. Both “New Girl” and “The Mindy Project” equaled last week’s numbers -- a 2.1 in 18-49 for “New Girl” and a 1.3 for “Mindy.”

Winning the night was NBC, by a slim margin over CBS. NBC’s “The Voice” was the top show of the night in viewers 18-49 with a 3.4 average, despite losing three-tenths from a week ago. “Grimm” ticked down one-tenth to a 1.7. NBC opened prime time with a repeat of “The Voice” (2.0 average).

CBS got solid performances from most of its drama lineup, with “NCIS” rising one-tenth in 18-49 from a week ago to a 3.2, “NCIS: Los Angeles” up one-tenth to a 2.5 and “Golden Boy” holding steady with a 1.2.

Fourth-place ABC couldn’t get much traction, with “Wipeout” equaling its all-time low with a 1.1 in adults 18-49 and “Body of Proof” matching its 1.4 from a week ago. “Dancing with the Stars” climbed one-tenth to a 1.8.

For prime time overall, NBC’s 2.4 average was the best in the 18-49 demo, followed by CBS (2.3 average), Fox (1.8) and ABC (1.4). CBS ran away with total viewers, averaging 12.9 million for the night to 8.2 million for ABC, 7.4 million for NBC and 4.2 million for Fox.

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NBCU's Telemundo in Business With Ryan Seacrest, Donald Trump

NBCUniversal-owned Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo Media revealed that it is in business with Ryan Seacrest and Donald Trump, Advertising Age reports.

“The slate of new shows announced at Telemundo's upfront presentation on Tuesday night at Lincoln Center included ‘Duelo Musical: Super Estrella’ (‘Superstar Showdown’), a showdown between two different music stars each week who face off in four rounds of music-based games and sing-offs that the audience will vote on,” the story reports. “The showdown will be produced in association with Ryan Seacrest Productions in the ‘American Idol’ producer's first foray into Spanish-language programming.”

The report adds: “Telemundo, part of Comcast-owned NBCUniversal, is also creating Miss Latina USA, a combination reality show and beauty pageant whose winner will go on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant. This will be the first time another U.S. contestant in addition to the official Miss USA pageant winner will be part of the Miss Universe competition. NBC co-owns the Miss Universe Organization with Donald Trump, and Miss Universe already airs on Telemundo as well as NBC.”

The story notes that Telemundo had its highest ratings yet in the first quarter of this year, and has reported adding more than 110 new advertisers since last year's upfront.

The report adds: “In other new moves, Telemundo is setting up a multiplatform studio called Fluency to develop and produce bilingual programming. And the company announced TelemundoMas, a full-length player for the Web and mobile devices that lets users watch full-length episodes of Telemundo programs the day after they are broadcast.”

The network also unveiled a new telenovela, "La Impostora," which features “a waitress and aspiring actress who is hired by a famous Hollywood star to pose as a millionaire investor and infiltrate his dead girlfriend's family to find his long-lost son,” the story notes.

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Turner Boss Steve Koonin: 'Industry Has Reached a Tipping Point'

TBS and TNT today rolled out development slates involving major players in the industry, including Steven Spielberg, Dick Wolf, Steve Carell and Sylvester Stallone.

In making the announcement, Turner Entertainment Networks President Steve Koonin said: "For a decade, we’ve been beating the drum the loudest -- that cable is as good as broadcast. Now, our industry has reached a tipping point. From creative strength to ratings power, cable has emerged as the leader in television. I’m proud of the role we’ve played at TNT and TBS. Today, we’re looking toward the next horizon -- becoming a multiscreen video company serving multiple audiences."

Koonin spotlighted the company’s successes in the multiscreen world, including inviting fans to re-create an entire episode of TBS's “Conan” through crowd-sourcing and fostering the creation of "Rizzles," an online community of “Rizzoli & Isles” devotees who create fan fiction based on the TNT drama series.

“Using a new, multi-dimensional research tool called ATHENA (Advanced Tool for Harnessing and Evaluating Network Audiences), TBS and TNT have begun to measure viewer engagement with the networks through social media and other digital platforms,” the company announced.

Execs took the wraps off the programming strategies today at the upfront presentation in New York. Other high-profile industry partners in developing new projects include Diablo Cody, Denis Leary, Nicholas Sparks, Marcia Clark, Dee Johnson, Walt Becker, Jamie Foxx and James Duff.

Koonin also announced that this summer TBS and TNT will become the industry's first national entertainment networks to offer live streaming of their on-air lineups 24/7, as we reported separately.

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Weird Non-TV Story of the Day: Wealthy Moms Hiring the Disabled to Help Their Kids Cut Into Line at Disney World

A new report says wealthy Manhattan mothers are using people with disabilities to avoid waiting in long lines at Florida's Disney World.

“Some wealthy Manhattan moms have figured out a way to cut the long lines at Disney World -- by hiring disabled people to pose as family members so they and their kids can jump to the front,” the New York Post reports. The piece says the “black-market Disney guides” work for $130 an hour, or $1,040 for an eight-hour day.

One mom, who reportedly hired a disabled guide through Dream Tours Florida, is quoted as saying: “My daughter waited one minute to get on It’s a Small World -- the other kids had to wait 2 1/2 hours.”

She reportedly added: “You can’t go to Disney without a tour concierge. This is how the 1 percent does Disney.”

“The woman said she hired a Dream Tours guide to escort her, her husband and their 1-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter through the park in a motorized scooter with a ‘handicapped’ sign on it. The group was sent straight to an auxiliary entrance at the front of each attraction,” the Post reports. “Disney allows each guest who needs a wheelchair or motorized scooter to bring up to six guests to a ‘more convenient entrance.’”

The scam was reportedly uncovered by Wednesday Martin, a social anthropologist, while doing research for an upcoming book, “Primates of Park Avenue.”

Said Martin: “It’s insider knowledge that very few have and share carefully.”

She added: “Who wants a speed pass when you can use your black-market handicapped guide to circumvent the lines all together? ... So when you’re doing it, you’re affirming that you are one of the privileged insiders who has and shares this information.”

Disney World also offers something called VIP Tours, with a VIP guide and fast passes, the report notes. But at $310 to $380 per hour, this service is more expensive than the “black market” disabled guides.

“Passing around the rogue guide service’s phone number recently became a shameless ritual among Manhattan’s private-school set during spring break,” the story reports. “The service asks who referred you before they even take your call.”

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CBS Betting Heavily on Comedy; Fall Schedule Includes New Thursday Sitcom Block, Saturday Encore Hour -- Here's the Full Schedule

CBS is betting heavily on a slate of new comedy series, with a new Thursday night comedy block and a lineup of new sitcoms featuring Robin Williams, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Will Arnett, Margo Martindale, Anna Faris, Allison Janney and Tony Shalhoub.

The network unveiled its fall schedule today, with four new comedies and one new drama in the fall lineup -- along with another drama series slotted for midseason and a couple of other new series on the way for midseason. The biggest moves are in comedy, with a new two-hour comedy block set up on Thursday nights from 8-10 p.m. and an encore hour set aside for comedies on Saturdays.

The new CBS sitcoms are “The Crazy Ones,” a single-camera comedy from executive producer David E. Kelley starring Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar; “The Millers,” a multi-generational family comedy from executive producer Greg Garcia starring Will Arnett, Margo Martindale, Beau Bridges and JB Smoove; “Mom,” an edgy family comedy from executive producer Chuck Lorre starring Anna Faris and Allison Janney; and “We Are Men,” an ensemble single-camera comedy starring Tony Shalhoub, Kal Penn, Chris Smith and Jerry O’Connell, the network announced.

A new suspense thriller, “Hostages,” will premiere Mondays at 10 p.m. in fall, with a new action drama, “Intelligence,” set to take over that slot after the “Hostages” finale in January.

Three hit CBS drama series -- “NCIS,” “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “Person of Interest” -- will all air on Tuesday nights.

Also coming up for midseason are the new legal drama “Reckless” and the new romantic comedy “Friends with Better Lives,” which do not have time slots yet.

CBS noted that it will finish the current season as the top-rated network in viewers for the 10th time in 11 seasons, No. 1 in the adults 25-54 demo and No. 1 in adults 18-49 for the first time since the 1991-1992 season.

Here’s the fall schedule:

CBS TELEVISION NETWORK
2013-2014 PRIME TIME SCHEDULE

(N=New, NT=New Time, all times ET/PT)

MONDAY

8:00-8:30 PM HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
8:30-9:00 PM WE ARE MEN (N)
9:00-9:30 PM 2 BROKE GIRLS
9:30-10:00 PM MOM (N)
10:00-11:00 PM HOSTAGES (N)
INTELLIGENCE (Midseason) (N)

TUESDAY

8:00-9:00 PM NCIS
9:00-10:00 PM NCIS: LOS ANGELES
10:00-11:00 PM PERSON OF INTEREST (NT)

WEDNESDAY

8:00-9:00 PM SURVIVOR
9:00-10:00 PM CRIMINAL MINDS
10:00-11:00 PM CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION

THURSDAY

8:00-8:30 PM THE BIG BANG THEORY
8:30-9:00 PM THE MILLERS (N)
9:00-9:30 PM THE CRAZY ONES (N)
9:30-10:00 PM TWO AND A HALF MEN (NT)
10:00-11:00 PM ELEMENTARY

FRIDAY

8:00-9:00 PM UNDERCOVER BOSS
9:00-10:00 PM HAWAII FIVE-0 (NT)
10:00-11:00 PM BLUE BLOODS

SATURDAY

8:00-8:30 PM COMEDYTIME SATURDAY (N)
8:30-9:00 PM COMEDYTIME SATURDAY (N)
9:00-10:00 PM CRIMETIME SATURDAY
10:00-11:00 PM 48 HOURS

SUNDAY

7:00-8:00 PM 60 MINUTES
8:00-9:00 PM THE AMAZING RACE
9:00-10:00 PM THE GOOD WIFE
10:00-11:00 PM THE MENTALIST

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Jimmy Kimmel, at ABC's Upfront Presentation, Takes Aim at Rival Networks -- Here Are Some of His Best Lines

Jimmy Kimmel is known for his wisecracks at ABC's upfront presentation, and this year was no different, with the "Jimmy Kimmel Live" host skewering not only his own network but rival networks as well, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

Here are some of his best lines, according to the report.

On NBC's ratings: "They came behind Univision this year," said Kimmel, referring to NBC's loss to Univision in the February sweeps. "They have an interesting strategy next year -- they're going to oppose immigration reform."

On Fox's ratings slide: "Except for the problems with 'American Idol,' there's a lot to like about their new schedule. Except for the hole in the side of the boat, there was a lot to like about Titanic."

On ABC's new streaming app: "We believe this is a revolutionary new way for us to take money from you. ... We are very excited about our new app -- now you need never miss your favorite ABC shows just because you're driving."

On the upfronts themselves: "[We're] just throwing a bunch of shit at a wall to see what sticks. And guess what, you're the wall. ... Next year you'll come back and do it again, and every year I wonder what's wrong with this process. Which got me thinking, maybe this is a good place for me to sell some of my own shit." Kimmel then displayed some of his Craigslist ads for items such as a used cellphone and an old printer.

On the upfront buying season: "As the old saying you can't polish a turd, but you can buy $100 million of ad time on it. So let's do that, let's go in on a turd together."

On Jay Leno leaving NBC’s ‘Tonight Show’: "[NBC] did a lot of research and they realized that by being number 1 in his time slot, he was embarrassing their other shows."

And on Leno’s replacement, Jimmy Fallon: "He's the one who sings and plays guitar. I'm the one who comes here every year and calls you assholes."

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Cast Member Who Has Been on 'Saturday Night Live' Since 2005 to Leave the Show

A longtime "Saturday Night Live" cast member is leaving the show, with a final appearance slated for this Saturday's season finale, reports The New York Times. The cast member is Bill Hader.

He first joined the NBC sketch show in 2005 as a featured player and was promoted to regular cast member the following year. Some of his memorable portrayals include his Al Pacino and Julian Assange impersonations.

“It was a hard decision, but it has to happen at some point,” he told The Times. “It got to a point where I said, ‘Maybe it’s just time to go.’”

Last year Hader was nominated for an Emmy as a supporting actor in a comedy series, a rare honor for a "Saturday Night Live" cast member, the story notes. He has also appeared in movies such as "Superbad" and "Tropic Thunder."

Thumbnail image for bill-hader.jpgBill Hader

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Couple From 'Kitchen Nightmares' in Profanity-Laced Online War

A couple who were featured on Friday's "Kitchen Nightmares" have started an online war with their Internet critics, becoming a viral sensation with a series of profanity-laced messages, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

The couple, Amy and Samy Bouzaglatell, were so hard to work with that "Kitchen Nightmares" host Gordon Ramsay stormed out of their restaurant, declaring them to be beyond saving -- the first time in the history of the reality show that he made such a proclamation.

While that might have been the end of it for some, the couple didn't like the way viewers wrote about them on message boards such as Yelp and Reddit, the piece notes. They then posted a series of angry responses to their critics, many of them written in all caps, the online version of yelling.

Some of their responses include:

"This is Samy. I am keeping note of all names here. We will be pursuing action against you legally, and against reddit and yelp, for this plot you have come together on. you are all just punks."

And:

"To all of the Yelpers and Reddits: Bring it on. you are just pussies. come to arizona. you are weaker than my wife, and weaker than me. come to my business. say it to my face. man to man. my wife is a jewel in the desert. you are just trash.reddits and yelpers just working together to bring us down. pathetic."

And from Amy:

"I AM WONDER WOMAN. I AM A GREAT CHEF, A GREAT WIFE, AND A GREAT MOM TO MY KIDS. AND WE WILL BE PARENTS TO A HUMAN KID, ONE DAY TO. WE WILL SHOW ALL OF YOU."

And this one:

"WE ARE NOT FREAKING OUT. WE DO NOT CARE ABOUT A "WITCH HUNT" I AM NOT A WITCH. I AM GODS CHILD. PISS OFF ALL OF YOU. FUCK REDDITS, FUCK YELP AND FUCK ALL OF YOU. BRING IT. WE WILL FIGHT BACK."

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Audiences and TV Networks at Odds Over Christian Slater

Audiences and network executives are apparently in disagreement about the appeal of actor Christian Slater, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

"If there's one thing that TV audiences have made crystal clear in the last few years, it's that they don't like TV shows starring Christian Slater," the story notes.

Yet networks keep ordering shows starring the "Heathers" actor.

The past three years have seen NBC's "My Own Worst Enemy," ABC's "The Forgotten" and Fox's "Breaking In" -- all starring Slater -- all canceled quickly after bombing.

But three strikes haven't gotten Slater out. He's starring in another new network drama, the ABC midseason show "Mind Games," the piece notes. He stars with Steve Zahn as brothers who use manipulation to solve clients' problems.

"Maybe 'Mind Games' will be able to manipulate viewers into accepting Slater as a TV star," the story says.

christian-slater.jpgChristian Slater

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Angelina Jolie's Breast Cancer Announcement Inspires CNN Anchor to Reveal Mastectomy Plans

Angelina Jolie, who revealed she had a double mastectomy after finding out she was at high risk for breast cancer, has inspired CNN morning anchor Zoraida Sambolin to talk about her own health situation, reports People.

The CNN anchor revealed her struggle with breast cancer on Tuesday after reading Jolie's piece in The New York Times about her medical treatment.

"This inspired me to talk," Sambolin, 47, said. She said she was diagnosed three weeks ago and has decided on a double mastectomy as the best course of treatment.

"I didn't want anyone feeling sorry for me," she said. "I didn't want to be emotional wreck on air. I tried to figure out the best way. Then when I saw this, I thought, 'Wow, OK.'"

Sambolin also said: "I have two beautiful kids. I want to live for them. You would cut off any appendage to see them grow up."

zoraida-sambolin.jpgZoraida Sambolin

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New HBO Series Off to a Slow Start, While Veteran Series Ends Record-Breaking Streak

A new HBO series got off to a slow start Sunday while the record run ended for a veteran HBO show. The pay-cable network’s new comedy "Family Tree" drew only 794,000 viewers to its Sunday debut, reports Deadline.com.

That was a sharp dropoff from its lead-in, "Veep," which was watched by 1.2 million viewers. Across its two airings, "Family Tree" attracted a total of 975,000 viewers, the piece adds. “Family Tree” stars Chris O'Dowd in a mockumentary-style show in which his character investigates his odd family.

"Game of Thrones," meanwhile, ended its four-week record streak. The show drew 4.8 million viewers for its 9 p.m. broadcast Sunday, still strong but down from the 5.3 million who tuned in for its May 5 episode.

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TNT and TBS to Become First National Entertainment Networks to Offer Live Streaming 24/7

TBS and TNT announced plans to roll out live streaming across multiple platforms beginning this summer, making the cable channels the first national entertainment networks to go 24/7 with live streaming.

The service will be offered through the networks' websites and two newly created Watch TNT and Watch TBS apps. The channels announced the plans today during their upfront presentation in New York.

“Live streaming is the latest phase in the rollout of TV Everywhere, the industry-wide initiative that gives subscribers to cable, satellite and telco video services access to more of their favorite shows across a wide range of digital platforms,” the channels said in their announcement.

Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks, told the audience at the upfronts: "Starting this summer, subscribers will be able to watch TBS and TNT live -- anytime, anywhere, on multiple devices. Tablets and smartphones become television sets, bringing new opportunities for us and for advertisers."

The cable channels announced in a press release: “TNT and TBS will begin their live streaming just as both networks are in the midst of the their summer programming, which for TNT includes returning series ‘Rizzoli & Isles,’ ‘Falling Skies,’ ‘Major Crimes,’ ‘Perception,’ ‘Franklin & Bash’ and newcomers ‘King & Maxwell,’ ‘The Hero,’ ‘72 Hours’ and ‘Cold Justice.’ TBS's summer lineup includes the second season of the hit sitcom ‘Sullivan & Son’ and the new series ‘Deon Cole's Black Box,’ and ‘Deal With It.’ Also available through live streaming will be TNT's award-winning coverage of the NBA, including the regular season, playoffs and All-Star Weekend; TBS's regular-season and playoff coverage of Major League Baseball; and both networks’ coverage of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship.”

The live streams will be available initially through http://www.tntdrama.com and http://www.tbs.com, and through the networks' newly created iPhone/iPad apps, with additional platforms to be added by the end of the year.

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Sony Under Pressure to Break Off Entertainment Unit in IPO

Sony is under pressure from billionaire investor Daniel Loeb to spin off its entertainment business in an initial public offering, allowing the company to focus on its struggling electronics unit, reports Bloomberg.

Sony said the entertainment business isn't for sale.

Loeb has a record of pushing changes at corporations, including a management shakeup at Yahoo! last year, but Japanese companies haven't been as easy to sway by activist investors, the story notes.

"Japanese companies try to balance the interests of finance, labor and government, while the U.S. in recent decades has become investor-centric, so raiders and activists are more tolerated," Harvard Business School professor Rakesh Khurana said.

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MTV Greenlights Two New Series

MTV has greenlighted two new series, with a common theme running through them in that they’re both about young women following their dreams, reports Deadline.com.

"The Alectrix" is about an all-girl pop music group working with music manager Joe Simpson. The six-part series will track the group as they try to get a break in the music industry. It will debut Tuesday, June 4, at 11 p.m.

The other show, with the working title "South of Heaven," is a docu-series about young women working at a honky tonk in Texas, which will debut in the fall, the story notes.

 

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Attorney General Defends AP Phone Records Seizure

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. defended the Justice Department's seizure of telephone records from the Associated Press, calling an article that prompted the investigation one of "the top two or three most serious leaks" he's ever seen, reports The New York Times.

As previously reported, the seizure sparked an angry outcry from the AP, lawmakers and the television industry.

AP executive editor Kathleen Carroll said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that the organization was "distressed" and added that no one at the AP has "ever seen anything like this,” TVNewser reports.

Holder said the AP's reporting had "put the American people at risk, and that is not hyperbole,” The Times reports. He was apparently referring to a May 7, 2012, article that disclosed the foiling of a plot to bomb an airliner. "And trying to determine who was responsible for that, I think, required very aggressive action," he said.

The AP's president and chief executive, Gary Pruitt, disputed Holder’s characterization. "We held that story until the government assured us that the national security concerns had passed,” Pruitt said. He added that the White House had been planning to publicly announce the news.

 

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HBO Gives Nod to Gay-Themed Show

HBO has given an eight-episode order to an untitled dramedy project starring Jonathan Groff, which is about three friends exploring the city's gay culture, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

The project is from Andrew Haigh, who directed a pilot that's based on a film script by Michael Lannan called "Lorimer," the story says. Groff will star with Frankie J. Alvarez and Murray Bartlett as the three friends.

Production is slated for the fall, with the series expected to debut in 2014.

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PBS Sets Premiere for 'Downton Abbey' Season Four

PBS unveiled a big news item for Anglophiles today, announcing the premiere date for the eagerly anticipated fourth season of its period hit "Downton Abbey." E! Online reports that the drama series will return Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014.

The series will have an eight-week run, wrapping up the season Feb. 23.

A number of changes are in store for the show, the report notes: "Not returning to the series are Dan Stevens, whose character Matthew Crawley was killed off in the season three finale, Jessica Brown Findlay, who played the beloved Lady Sybil, and Siobhan Finneran aka villainous maid O'Brien."

Commenting on the loss of Stevens, executive producer Gareth Neame said: "This is a lesson in something that seems like a really big loss in the moment [that] will actually turn into a great opportunity [for Lady Mary], which it will also be for the show, to take a turn in a whole different direction."

The report adds: "The series will also introduce its first recurring black character, a jazz singer played by Gary Carr. Tom Cullen will also join the cast in season four as a potential love interest for Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery)."

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Awkward Situation: A Reporter Congratulates Matthew Perry, Whose Show 'Go On' Was Just Canceled (Here's the Video)

Upfronts week can be a tough time for some in Hollywood, given that many shows are canceled or passed over for pickup, something that happened to former "Friends" star Matthew Perry, whose freshman comedy "Go On" was canceled by NBC, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

But sports reporter Dan Moriarty, who interviewed Perry at an L.A. Kings playoff game, apparently didn't know the situation, bringing up the subject by noting, "So ... big news today and congratulations is in order."

Perry handled the situation graciously, replying, "Oh, thank you. You're talking about my show getting canceled. It was sort of a sad day because of the people, and I'm going to miss them. But this show was really getting in the way of some Kings games, so I'm OK."

Moriarty barely recovered, noting, "So it's a double-edged-sword congratulations."

Here's the clip:

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'The Voice' Lifts NBC to Ratings Win; CBS Show Comes Back Strong From Season Low

Even while dropping in the ratings, NBC's "The Voice" had enough to lift the network to a nightly ratings win in the key 18-49 demo Monday night, based on Nielsen overnights.

Meanwhile, CBS's "How I Met Your Mother" came back strong after recording a season low a week ago.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC's two-hour "The Voice" delivered a 3.6 average rating in viewers 18-49, losing a half-point from a week ago but still making it the top show of the night. Close behind was "How I Met Your Mother" with a 3.4, a surge of eight-tenths from last week's season low.

NBC won prime time overall with a 3.1 average in the 18-49 demo, leading CBS (2.5 average), ABC (2.0) and Fox (1.7). ABC came out on top in total viewers with 12.4 million, ahead of NBC (9.3 million), CBS (8.1 million) and Fox (4.0 million).

ABC's two-hour "Dancing with the Stars" mustered only a 2.0 in 18-49, matching last week's series low. "Castle" ticked up two-tenths to a 2.2.

NBC's "Revolution" slipped one-tenth from a week ago to a 1.9 average in adults 18-49.

CBS's "2 Broke Girls" rose two-tenths of a point to a 2.9 in the 18-49 demo, while "Mike & Molly" ticked up one-tenth to a 2.4 and "Hawaii Five-0" slipped one-tenth to a 1.8.

On Fox, a two-hour installment of "Hell's Kitchen" was down two-tenths in 18-49 to a 1.7 average.

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Fox Working on Drama About Billy the Kid

Fox is working with Tom Fontana of "Homicide: Life on the Street" on a limited-run drama about Billy the Kid, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

The series would tell the origin story of the outlaw, set in the 1860s slums of New York and the violent American West in the 1870s, the story says. The themes of the project will focus on two issues near and dear to Americans today: guns and celebrity.

Fontana will write the project, while Barry Levinson of "Rain Man" is slated to produce.

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Fox Network Rolls Out Trailers for Fall Series

Fox broke out trailers for its new fall shows, including "Gang Related," "Surviving Jack," "Sleepy Hollow" and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." Here they are:

Gang Related

Surviving Jack

Almost Human

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Dads

Enlisted

Rake

Sleepy Hollow

Us & Them

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The TV Academy Gets Real

A lot of TV viewers still don't know about the "other" awards given out by the organization that hands out the Primetime Emmys, but the 6th Annual Television Academy Honors were held a few days ago in Beverly Hills, and TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin was on hand to provide a full account.

The event honored a wide range of social issue-focused programming, bringing out TV mainstays from D.L. Hughley to Aaron Sorkin. Please click here to read Atkin's report on the festivities.

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ABC Orders 13 New Series for 2013-2014 Season, Eight of Which Will Debut This Fall. 'Dancing with the Stars' Cut to One Night a Week. Here's ABC's Fall Schedule

"ABC introduced a new fall schedule on Tuesday that, like those unveiled by the network’s competitors, was heavily dependent on new series -- 13 in all, in ABC’s case," writes Bill Carter in The New York Times

Carter adds, "The network will open the fall season with eight of these series on its prime-time schedule, five of which are comedies as ABC tries again to make Tuesday a second comedy night."

Here's ABC's fall schedule. New shows are in ITALICS.

MONDAY:

8:00 p.m. “Dancing with the Stars”
10:00 p.m. “Castle”

TUESDAY:

8:00 p.m. “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
9:00 p.m. “The Goldbergs
9:30 p.m. “Trophy Wife
10:00 p.m. “Lucky 7

WEDNESDAY:

8:00 p.m. “The Middle”
8:30 p.m. “Back in the Game
9:00 p.m. “Modern Family”
9:30 p.m. “Super Fun Night
10:00 p.m. “Nashville”

THURSDAY:

8:00 p.m. “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland
9:00 p.m. “Grey’s Anatomy”
10:00 p.m. “Scandal”

FRIDAY:

8:00 p.m. “Last Man Standing”
8:30 p.m. “The Neighbors”
9:00 p.m. “Shark Tank”
10:00 p.m. “20/20”

SATURDAY:

8:00 p.m. “Saturday Night College Football”

SUNDAY:

7:00 p.m. “America’s Funniest Home Videos”
8:00 p.m. “Once Upon a Time”
9:00 p.m. “Revenge”
10:00 p.m. “Betrayal

The Times' Carter adds,  "ABC will introduce a whole new night of series on Tuesday, after jettisoning the ''Dancing with the Stars' results show (results of the dance competition will now be included in the program’s Monday show). The new Tuesday schedule will be led off with by the network’s highest-profile drama, 'Super Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,' a comic book-based adventure from Joss Whedon ('Buffy the Vampire Slayer')."

The article also notes: "ABC will save [five] of its new shows for later in the season, including a new reality show called 'The Quest,' which takes real people on a 'Lord of the Rings' sort of adventure.

"ABC said it would run its serialized shows in 12-episode arcs, which will take breaks filled with other original shows.

"One of its holdover comedies, 'Suburgatory,' will be held off until midseason."

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Report: CBS May Lose a Major Sports Event It Has Aired Since 1968

ESPN may be close to stealing a sports event that has been a fixture on CBS for 45 years. The New York Post reports that the cable channel is positioning to snag the U.S. Open tennis tournament, which has been airing on CBS since 1968.

ESPN is prepared to pay $60 million for the rights, or about 50% more than the tournament currently fetches, to begin airing the championship in 2015, the story says.

CBS, the Tennis Channel and ESPN now each air parts of the U.S. Open, with the rights fees split among the networks. Under the new deal, ESPN would gain rights to the total event.

The agreement would also switch the men's finals back to Sunday evening from their current Monday slot so they wouldn't conflict with ESPN's Monday Night Football, the story adds.

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Today Is the 15th Anniversary of the Death of the Most Famous Person in American Popular Culture. Here Is the Movie or Miniseries About Him Someone in Hollywood Should Have the Guts to Make

No, it's not  Elvis. He actually left the building 36 years ago come August. To find out who it is and to read this insightful essay by TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross, please click here.

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ABC Unveils Live Streaming Plan in Fight Against Aereo

ABC is taking the broadcasters’ battle with streaming video startup Aereo to the Internet firm’s home turf. USA Today reports that the network this week “will start streaming its entire programming schedule in real-time to viewers in New York and Philadelphia. This marks the first time one of the major broadcasters has streamed a 24-hour live feed online.”

“However, there are a few key differences between ABC's and Aereo's approach: After a six-week introductory phase that will be open to anyone in the two markets, ABC's streams will only be available to authenticated cable subscribers. And ABC is using cloud technology to deliver its live streams, making the endeavour a whole lot cheaper than Aereo's,” the story reports.

ABC was scheduled to begin streaming its programs to iOS devices in the two markets today, with the plan being to expand the initiative rapidly to other markets where ABC owns local TV stations. “Viewers served by ABC affiliates may get access to the live streams a bit later -- ABC first has to negotiate revenue sharing for advertising served on the live streams and navigate the treacherous waters of content licensing,” USA Today reports.

The report adds: “Ken Brueck, co-founder and CMO of upLynk, the company that powers the live streaming for ABC, thinks it's only a matter of time before affiliates join the live stream. That's because, from a technology perspective, ABC's live streaming is incredibly cheap: Local affiliates who want to live stream their feed only need a simple $1,000 Linux box that taps into their live broadcast feed and uploads everything to the cloud, where transcoding happens in real time.

“Specialized software on the upLynk device also taps into the broadcaster's programming guide, and Uplynk swaps out programming on the fly if the broadcaster doesn't have the rights to air a certain show online. Also swapped out are ads, with ABC replacing its generic TV advertising with targeted ads served to iOS devices.”

The $1,000 box, combined with upLynk's cloud transcoding, amounts to a breakthrough in broadcasters’ efforts to accomplish live streaming. “Previously, live streaming would have required them to deploy hardware encoders to each and every affiliate, something that Brueck estimates would have cost many millions of dollars. Now, the transcoding is done by Amazon's EC2,” the piece reports.

“That's an approach that Aereo can't take advantage of, because it has to transcode a unique feed for each and every customer, which is why Aereo's roll-out is much more expensive -- and has been somewhat slow. The startup, which captures live programming from major broadcasters with tiny personal antennas and then streams it to subscribers, announced that it wants to be in 22 cities by the end of 2013. But so far, it's only available in New York.”

The downside for ABC and broadcasters is that ABC doesn’t have the rights to stream all programming online, “so upLynk's cloud servers occasionally have to swap out programming on the fly,” the story reports.

Said Brueck: "Sometimes, your content is going to be different" from what’s carried on live TV. The piece notes: “He added that he hopes that ABC's new live streaming app can help the entire industry to sort out these kinds of issues.”

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'Voice' Coaches: Who's In, Who's Out at the NBC Singing Competition?

The coaches’ picture is becoming clearer at the NBC singing competition “The Voice.” TheWrap.com reports that CeeLo Green is in advanced talks to return for the fifth season of the show, while Christina Aguilera has already signed her contract to return to the show.

Aguilera will be paid $12.5 million for her fifth-season appearance, although she could earn as much as $17 million, depending on how many hours she works, the story says. She reportedly earned $17 million when she was a coach on the show's third season. Coaches on "The Voice" are paid by the hour.

Green won't make close to what Aguilera is pulling in, however, the story says. The show is also still negotiating with coaches Adam Levine and Blake Shelton, who will likely return.

Aguilera and Green both announced their departures from the show last December, with Shakira and Usher replacing them.

Shakira is leaving the show after just one season, according to Deadline.com.

Christina-Aguilera.jpgChristina Aguilera

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More Bad News for Networks? TV Writer Warns of Sophomore Slump

As the current television season winds down, one prominent TV writer notes a disturbing trend for the broadcast networks. Writing in The New York Times, Bill Carter warns of a sophomore slump.

“Even with increased competition from cable television and online entertainment, networks could always count on new hits to be their strongest line of defense. And for decades the best thing about these new shows was that they continued to get stronger in their second season,” Carter writes. “But in the television season about to end, some of the most popular new shows from a year ago have not built on their initial success -- and in fact have wound up in premature decline.”

Carter cites shows including CBS’s “Two Broke Girls,” ABC’s “Last Man Standing” and “Once Upon a Time” and Fox’s “New Girl,” all introduced in fall 2011, as disappointments in their second seasons.

“That does not include the calamitous plunge for more marginal shows, like NBC’s ‘Smash,’ which lost half its audience this year and was canceled last Friday,” Carter writes.

Said Warren Littlefield, who had a hand in long-running NBC hits such as “Seinfeld” and “Friends”: “It’s something new for breakout hit shows to be down in their second year. And yes, it’s alarming.”

Adds Carter: “In the last few days, the networks announced the new shows they have ordered, and their message was unmistakable: We need new hits -- a lot of them.

“The four major networks will present a total of at least 41 new series next season, surely among the most to be introduced in one season. And they are not finished; other shows are expected to be announced within weeks.”

The current season has seen a few exceptions to the sophomore slump, Carter notes. He cites second-season growth for CBS’s “Person of Interest” and ABC’s “Scandal,” but notes that most sophomore shows have seen ratings declines.

“Executives say one factor in the downturn for second-year shows has been the across-the-board ratings drop afflicting the industry. Every network is down in the category most closely watched by advertisers -- viewers ages 18 through 49 -- by margins ranging from 3 percent for CBS to 21 percent for Fox,” Carter writes.

Brad Adgate, senior VP for research at Horizon Media, is quoted in the story saying: “Obviously, this has just been a terrible year for network television. And it means this pilot season is the most important for the networks that I can remember.”

“Mr. Adgate said too much was asked of some of the new hits, such as counting on them to prop up whole nights,” Carter adds.

Adgate notes: “In the case of ‘Two Broke Girls,’ I think CBS asked it to be a linchpin show. It’s not a linchpin show yet, like ‘Big Bang Theory.’”

Carter notes that CBS moved “Two Broke Girls” this season to Monday night at 9, the tentpole spot for that night. “Even with delayed viewing counted, it is down almost a million viewers among the 18-to-49 group,” Carter writes.

Adgate adds a grim footnote for broadcast in general: “You have the competition from cable. And now streaming video. And you have young people turning off their TVs. How can a show grow in that environment?”

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NBC Plans Three-Hour Live Staging of 'The Sound of Music' With 'Idol' Winner in Lead Role

In a move that’s reminiscent of the family-friendly productions aired in the past, NBC will broadcast a three-hour live staging of "The Sound of Music." Deadline.com reports that the program will air Thursday, Dec. 5.

The announcement was made by NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt, who noted that such big family-focused shows aren't often undertaken today, "but we are doing it anyway." Maria von Trapp will be played by “American Idol" winner Carrie Underwood. In the famed movie, the role was played by Julie Andrews.

The staging is based on the original Broadway musical and tells the true story of Maria von Trapp, who becomes a governess for an aristocratic widower's seven children and falls in love with her employer.

 

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Angelina Jolie Reveals She Underwent a Double Mastectomy

Actress Angelina Jolie writes in an opinion piece in The New York Times that she has undergone a preventive double mastectomy, because she carries a "faulty" gene, BRCA1, which increases a woman's risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

"Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could," she wrote. "I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex."

Jolie said she finished three months of medical procedures on April 27, and that she had been able to keep the surgeries private while continuing with her work.

"But I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience," she notes. "But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action."

Jolie has reconstructed her breasts and writes that her children "see nothing that makes them uncomfortable. They can see my small scars and that’s it. Everything else is just Mommy, the same as she always was."

For those who were wondering about her husband's role in the surgeries, she writes, "I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive. So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition. Brad was at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries."

angelina-jolie.jpgAngelina Jolie

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Feds Seize AP Phone Records, Sparking Outrage From Lawmakers, TV Industry

The Justice Department has seized telephone records from reporters and editors at the Associated Press, sparking an angry outcry from the news service, lawmakers and the TV industry.

CNN reports that the government “secretly collected two months of telephone records for reporters and editors at The Associated Press, the news service disclosed Monday in an outraged letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.

“The records included calls from several AP bureaus and the personal phone lines of several staffers, AP President Gary Pruitt wrote. Pruitt called the subpoenas a ‘massive and unprecedented intrusion’ into its reporting.”

Pruitt wrote: "These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP's newsgathering operations and disclose information about AP's activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.”

The AP said the government has not indicated why it was collecting the phone records, according to CNN. But the story adds that the AP “noted that U.S. officials have said they were probing how details of a foiled bomb plot that targeted a U.S.-bound aircraft leaked in May 2012. The news agency said records from five reporters and an editor who worked on a story about the plot were among those collected, but it said none of the information the government has shared with it suggested agents listened in on any reporters' calls.”

Lawmakers and television industry sources were among the first to respond to the probe.

Said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner: "The First Amendment is first for a reason. If the Obama administration is going after reporters' phone records, they better have a damned good explanation."

In a statement issued today by the Radio Television Digital News Association, RTDNA Chairman Vincent Duffy said: “This unprecedented invasion of privacy involving confidential information is a blatant violation of basic rights afforded by the First Amendment. This action is unwarranted and absolutely strikes at the heart of the press freedoms we cherish in the United States. These critical freedoms are protected by both the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights and have clearly been thrust aside by the federal government through this action.”

RTDNA added that it is “working closely with other media groups to seek answers as to why the Justice Department took such a serious and, in our judgment, blatantly unconstitutional action toward an unknown end. Our efforts are directed toward reversing this assault on these basic and important freedoms.”

AP’s Pruitt noted that the subpoenas were disclosed to the agency Friday. “In all, federal agents collected records from more than 20 lines, including personal phones and AP phone numbers in New York; Hartford, Connecticut; and Washington,” CNN reported.

Pruitt demanded in his letter to Holder that the Justice Department return all records it seized and destroy all copies, adding: "We regard this action by the Department of Justice as a serious interference with AP's constitutional rights to gather and report the news.”

CNN adds: “The U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington responded that federal investigators seek phone records from news outlets only after making ‘every reasonable effort to obtain information through alternative means.’ It did not disclose the subject of the probe.”

The report quotes the U.S. Attorney’s Office saying: "We must notify the media organization in advance unless doing so would pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation. Because we value the freedom of the press, we are always careful and deliberative in seeking to strike the right balance between the public interest in the free flow of information and the public interest in the fair and effective administration of our criminal laws."

“CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said the Obama administration ‘has been incredibly aggressive’ about prosecuting leakers, and there's no privilege in federal law that allows reporters to protect their sources. But he said past administrations have avoided going that far,” CNN reports.

Said Toobin: "I have never heard of a subpoena this broad, It's legal, as far as I can tell. The administration isn't violating the First Amendment. But they are certainly doing more than has ever been done before in pursuing the private information of journalists. And we'll see if there's any political check on them, because there doesn't appear to be any legal check on what they're doing."

White House spokesman Jay Carney told the press Monday that the White House was unaware of the subpoenas.

Said Carney: "We are not involved in decisions made in connection with criminal investigations, as those matters are handled independently by the Justice Department.”

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Dr. Joyce Brothers, Pioneering TV Psychologist and One of the Early Masters of the TV Sound Bite, Dead at 85

Dr. Joyce Brothers, a popular psychologist who became a fixture on television handing out words of wisdom in one-line sound bites, has died. The New York Times reports that Brothers died Monday at 85.

In addition to serving up advice on her own syndicated television shows such as "The Dr. Joyce Brothers Show," Brothers wrote a newspaper advice column from 1960 until this year. She is credited with a string of quotes that are part of popular culture, such as: “When you come right down to it, the secret of having it all is loving it all.” And: “No matter how lovesick a woman is, she shouldn't take the first pill that comes along.”

Brothers was a frequent guest on many TV shows, including "The Tonight Show" and variety programs such as "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour."

"Throughout the 1960s, and long beyond, one could scarcely turn on the television or open a newspaper without encountering her," The Times notes. The piece adds, "Historically, she was a bridge between advice columnists like Dear Abby and Ann Landers, who got their start in the mid-1950s, and the self-help advocates of the 1970s and afterward."

Playing herself or a role that was similar to her real-life persona, she appeared in guest roles on TV shows such as "Taxi" and "The Simpsons."

The Times notes: "Looking crisply capable yet eminently approachable in her pastel suits and pale blond pageboy, she offered gentle, nonthreatening advice on sex, relationships, family and all manner of decent behavior."

Brothers came to the public's attention in the 1950s as a contestant on "The $64,000 Question," where she won as an authority on boxing, the piece reports. She appeared on the show because she wanted to supplement her and her husband's income, and noted that the quiz show liked odd matches, such as the shoe-maker who was an expert on opera.

"What, she decided, would be more improbable than a petite psychologist who was a pundit of pugilism?" the story says. She became the first woman to win the top prize, $64,000.

That led to an invitation to become a commentator on a sports program, which led to more TV appearances. Soon, she was a TV star.

Here are some additional quotes attributed to Brothers:

“Marriage is not just spiritual communion, it is also remembering to take out the trash.”

“There is such a thing as bad publicity.”

“Trust your hunches. They're usually based on facts filed away just below the conscious level.”

“Credit buying is much like being drunk. The buzz happens immediately and gives you a lift. ... The hangover comes the day after.”

“Psychologically, having it all is not a valid concept. The marvelous thing about human beings is that we are perpetually reaching for the stars. The more we have, the more we want. And for this reason, we never have it all.”

“Being taken for granted can be a compliment. It means that you've become a comfortable, trusted element in another person's life.”

“Before your dreams can come true, you have to have those dreams.”

“Love comes when manipulation stops; when you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you. When you dare to reveal yourself fully. When you dare to be vulnerable.”

joyce-brothers.jpgDr. Joyce Brothers

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HBO Revives James Gandolfini Project

HBO has revived a high-profile project with actor James Gandolfini, a surprise move given that the network passed on the project just two months ago, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The project is "Criminal Justice," which was adapted from a BBC show. HBO plans to air the project as a seven-part limited series after retooling the New York crime drama, the story says.

After HBO chose to pass over the project, it started getting some buzz and interest from rivals, the piece notes. Oscar nominee Richard Price will write, with Oscar-winning writer Steven Zaillian directing and executive producing.

Gandolfini will play Jack Stone, a jailhouse attorney. The limited series will track the case of a man who wakes up after partying with a stranger to find her stabbed to death.

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BBC Asks Fans Not to Disclose 'Doctor Who' Spoilers After DVD Mishap

The BBC is asking fans to avoid revealing spoilers for the "Doctor Who" finale after a small number of the show's U.S. fans pre-ordered the series on DVD and received their orders three weeks early, reports The New York Times' ArtsBeat. The DVD sets include the final episode of the season, which isn't slated to air until Saturday, the report notes.

"We are asking fans who may have the discs not to divulge plot details so that fellow fans who have yet to see the episodes do not have their viewing pleasure ruined,” BBC Worldwide said in a statement.

The finale is called "The Name of the Doctor" and is said to reveal crucial details about the mysterious time-traveling doctor, who is played by Matt Smith.

BBC Worldwide said that Steven Moffat, the show's producer, would share a special video with Smith and his predecessor in the role, David Tennant, if the people who have seen the pre-released DVDs keep mum.

"But you don’t need to be a time-traveling alien from the planet Gallifrey to know how this is probably going to end," The Times notes.

 

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Emmy-Winning TV Producer Dead at 75

A veteran television producer who was a part of three Daytime Emmy wins for outstanding drama series as senior producer on CBS’s “The Bold and the Beautiful” has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Ron Weaver died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles at 75, the piece reports.

Weaver joined the show as an associated producer in 1986 and rose to senior producer, overseeing the show's day-to-day operations. He then became the vice president of BBL Inc., the show's distribution arm, where he worked on international sales, operations and promotion.

He left the show in April, the story adds. Before moving to “The Bold and the Beautiful,” he spent 13 years at Children’s Television Workshop, where he was a part of the original production team that created “Sesame Street,” “The Electric Company,” “3-2-1 Contact,” “Feeling Good” and “The Best of Families,” the story reports.

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NBC Unveils Plans for Leno-Fallon Handoff; Seth Meyers Gets Start Date

NBC paid a lot of attention to its plans for a revamped late-night lineup during today's network upfront presentation. Deadline.com reports that the network "officially announced that Jay Leno will end his 22-year run on 'The Tonight Show' during the week leading up to the 2014 Winter Olympics, which start Feb. 6. And that Jimmy Fallon will be introduced during the second week of the Sochi games when ratings are at their highest."

Fallon's start date at "Tonight" will be Feb. 24, NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt announced, with Seth Meyers making his debut on "Late Night" the same night.

Deadline adds: "NBC Broadcasting chief Ted Harbert kicked off the upfront by explaining the changeover with this understated description: 'Things are shifting and changing in late-night.' But if any of the media buyers or advertisers in the audience thought NBC was going to candidly say why they’re taking off the network’s #1 'Tonight Show' host for two decades, they got a joke instead. Promising a 'slight change' in late-night, Greenblatt deadpanned, 'I’m stepping down in 2014 and Jay Leno will be taking my job.'”

Greenblatt did cite the ”increasingly competitive” late-night landscape, saying the network wanted to “pass the baton while still No. 1,” the report notes. He also offered plenty of niceties for Leno: ”We owe a great debt of gratitude to Jay Leno and extend Jay our sincerest thanks for an unparalleled run.” Greenblatt said Leno “always has been a gentleman, and added, “He took great care of the franchise and for that we’ll always be grateful," the report adds.

Neither Leno nor Fallon took part in the live upfront presentation, Deadline notes, adding: "Instead there was a taped ‘Special Message from Jimmy and Jay’ telling advertisers to 'get ready for the biggest season in late night yet: the final season with Jay Leno' and introducing Fallon. 'Hey guys, I’m so thrilled and honored to be taking over "The Tonight Show" from Jay Leno. Any questions, send me an email at robert.greenblatt@nbcuni.com. I don’t want to make a big deal about the whole "Tonight Show" thing. It’s still 8 months away.'”

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On the Heels of Trump Touting Show's Renewal, 'Celebrity Apprentice' Sinks to Season Low

On the same day that Donald Trump took to Twitter to announce that "Celebrity Apprentice" had been picked up for another season on NBC, as previously reported, the show's Sunday night broadcast sank to a season low in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that Sunday's two-hour "Apprentice" managed only a 1.3 average in viewers 18-49, losing two-tenths of a ratings point from a week ago. NBC opened prime time with a two-hour repeat of "The Voice," which pulled in a 1.0.

Trump announced Sunday on Twitter that "Celebrity Apprentice" had received a renewal -- even though the program did not appear in the fall schedule unveiled by NBC.

The night's top show on broadcast was CBS's two-hour "Survivor: Caramoan," which came through with a 2.6 in the 18-49 demo. Significant adjustments are anticipated because of the show's overrun. "Survivor Reunion" followed the telecast, delivering a 2.2. CBS's "60 Minutes" at 7 p.m. scored a 1.5, improving three-tenths from last week's season low to help CBS win the night.

Second-place ABC got a 2.2 average in adults 18-49 for "Once Upon a Time," matching last week's number. The two-hour finale of "Revenge" came in two-tenths below last week, settling for a 1.6. "America's Funniest Home Videos" slipped one-tenth to a 1.4.

Fox was paced by "Family Guy" with a 2.4 average in 18-49, up from a 2.2 a week ago. "The Simpsons" equaled last week's 1.9, while "American Dad" also had a 1.9, a decline of four-tenths from its previous original. "Bob's Burgers" slipped one-tenth to a 1.6, and back-to-back episodes of "The Cleveland Show" settled for a 0.8 and a 1.0.

For prime time overall, CBS led the way in the 18-49 demo with a 2.2 average rating, followed by ABC (1.7 average), Fox (1.6) and NBC (1.1). CBS won total viewers with 9.6 million to ABC's 6.4 million, NBC's 4.0 million and Fox's 3.4 million.

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Fox Bringing Back '24'

Fox confirmed today that it will bring back the drama series "24." Reuters reports that star Kiefer Sutherland is on board for the return of the show, set for summer 2014.

"'24: Live Another Day' brings back Sutherland as counter-terrorism agent Jack Bauer in the series that follows his race against the clock to foil presidential assassination attempts and chemical weapons attacks," the story reports. "The new 12-episode miniseries will represent 24 hours in Bauer's life, following the same real-time format that became the series' trademark."

In a statement, Sutherland said: "The response to '24' is unlike anything I have ever experienced as an actor before. To have the chance to reunite with the character, Jack Bauer, is like finding a lost friend."

"The series, which originally ran for eight seasons between 2001 and 2010, won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series in 2006, and Sutherland won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in the same year," the report notes.

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Video: NBC Rolls Out Trailers for New Shows

NBC broke out first-look trailers for a number of its upcoming programs in advance of today's upfront presentation. Here's the first batch:

"Dracula"

"Ironside"

"The Michael J. Fox Show"

"Sean Saves the World"

"Welcome to the Family"

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Fox Boss Hints at Plans for Revamped 'Idol'

Fox Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly, gearing up for his network's upfront presentation in New York today, talked with reporters about what's been happening at "American Idol" -- and what's in the cards for the suddenly ratings-challenged singing competition.

Among the changes that are in store, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed, the number of judges is expected to be reduced from four to three.

THR quotes Reilly saying: “We had some challenges … particularly in the fall.”

The report adds: "Rather than blame 'Idol’s' latest judges’ panel for the show’s record lows, Reilly pointed a finger at the show's age as well as some of this season’s format changes (including separating the males and females for several weeks). Though he remained mum on details, he assured the press that there would be fresh twists to the format next season."

Reilly confirmed that Randy Jackson is leaving the show, something that Jackson already confirmed himself.

THR adds: "To hear Reilly tell it, 'There’s not an ounce of ill will either way.' As for the other judges, he would only say that the trio would be 'welcome back' but 'everything is still on the table.' Reilly and his team will begin conversations about next season as early as Friday morning, following the singing competition's 12th season finale. The only hint he would offer on the judges' front is that there will 'likely' be only three judges rather than the current four."

The report notes: "His network, which is poised to cede its crown as the top-rated network to CBS, has witnessed a 20 percent free-fall in the demo this past season. For what it’s worth, Fox will round out the season as the No. 1 network among the 18-34 demographic, and can point to 'The Following' as the season’s No. 1 new series."

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Which TV Market Watches the Most Television?

One major American city tops the list as the TV market where people watch more live television than in any other market.

Pittsburgh residents watched more live television during the February sweeps period than residents of any other large market monitored by Nielsen with local people meters, reports MediaPost.

Residents in the steel city watched an average of about five-and-a-half hours of live TV per day, followed by St. Louis, with five hours and 23 minutes a day, the story says. Baltimore, Philadelphia and Detroit round out the top five, with residents of those cities watching an average of five hours and 15 minutes or more.

St. Louis was No. 1 in time-shifted viewing, followed by Cleveland and Sacramento. Seattle residents watched the most TV via streaming, with an average of eight minutes a day, followed by San Francisco, Detroit and New York.

The market that watched the least live TV was San Francisco, with an average of 2 hours and 57 minutes.

The research, contained in Nielsen’s first “Local Watch” report, focuses on the 25-54 demo.

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ABC Renews Comedy Series

ABC revealed that it will bring back a sitcom that has been on the bubble. EW.com’s Inside TV reports that the comedy series "The Neighbors," about a family living in a suburban development populated by space aliens, has been renewed.

The show, which stars Jami Gertz and Lenny Venito, has averaged a 2.0 rating with adults 18-49, and probably wasn't included in the network's Friday orders because of its middling ratings, the story notes.

ABC will announce its fall schedule on Tuesday, the piece adds.

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Broadcast TV's Biggest Cliffhanger: How Plunging Ratings Will Play at the Upfronts

The broadcast television networks are starring in their own cliffhanger as the network upfronts approach, reports Brian Stelter in The New York Times.

As the nets prepare to showcase their new fall schedules this week in New York, they are facing prime-time ratings that have dropped precipitously this season, Stelter notes.

New technologies are making it easier to skip ads, while marketers are shifting money into cable. Netflix and Amazon are trying to get in the game by competing for viewers with their own original programming.

"The many pressures bearing down on the industry are casting a shadow over this week’s upfronts, an annual tradition in New York in which the new sitcoms, dramas and reality shows are previewed at splashy, open-bar events and the networks try to capture their portion of an estimated $9 billion in advertising commitments," Stelter notes.

Broadcast ratings in the key 18-49 demographic tumbled by 17% during the winter months when compared with a year earlier, according to Goldman Sachs, which called the decline "the sharpest pace on record."

At the same time, cable networks were drawing record audiences with miniseries such as "The Bible" on History and shows such as AMC's "The Walking Dead."

Viewers "penalize the networks often -- for disappointing them, for changing shows’ time slots and for canceling shows prematurely. If this season is any indicator for next year, the networks will wind up canceling almost all of the shows they announce this week," Stelter writes.

Profits have also been impacted. “At ABC, the lowest-rated of the four broadcasters, first-quarter profit fell 40 percent compared with the same quarter last year, but the network still made $138 million,” Stelter writes. “NBC, on the other hand, lost $35 million in the quarter, because of lower advertising revenues. NBC’s parent, Comcast, said the network would have fared better if its biggest hit, ‘The Voice,’ had been on in the quarter.”

At Fox, ratings erosion for “American Idol” has been a serious problem. Stelter notes: “Ad revenue slipped at Fox too, partly because ‘Idol’ has lost nearly a quarter of its viewers this season, on top of a 50 percent decline over the previous five years.”

Chase Carey, president of Fox parent News Corp., said of the season’s ratings: “We’re clearly disappointed.” Carey spoke to Wall Street analysts last week “before delivering bullish words about the coming season’s slate,” Stelter writes. “Fox eked out 15 percent profit growth, to $196 million, by spending less on programming and persuading distributors to pay higher subscriber fees -- a strategy pioneered by the cable channels that the broadcasters also own.”

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Donald Trump Has His Own Announcement About NBC's Programming Plans, and It Differs From the Network's Party Line

On the heels of NBC’s unveiling of its fall 2013 schedule, which we reported previously, Donald Trump issued a tweet containing news that wasn't exactly in line with NBC’s version.

Trump’s news was that his show “Celebrity Apprentice” had been picked up for another season. But the show didn’t appear on the fall schedule released by NBC. The show has been considered to be on the bubble.

Trump tweeted on Sunday: “I am pleased to inform you that Celebrity Apprentice has been renewed for another season by NBC.” He added: “See you at the NBC upfronts tomorrow.”

Deadline.com reports that the network had not confirmed whether the show had officially been given the nod and had not announced whether Trump would be a part of the network’s upfront presentation.

Two years ago, Trump used the upfront stage to announce that he wouldn't run for president and would return to "Celebrity Apprentice,” Deadline notes.

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NBC Names Replacement for 'Late Night' Host Jimmy Fallon

NBC has another piece of its late-night lineup in place. Deadline.com reports that the network is moving "Saturday Night Live" fixture Seth Meyers into the spot being vacated by Jimmy Fallon as host of "Late Night."

Fallon is taking over "The Tonight Show" next spring, replacing Jay Leno.

“We think Seth is one of the brightest, most insightful comedy writers and performers of his generation,” NBC Chairman Bob Greenblatt said. “His years at 'SNL‘s Weekend Update' desk, not to mention being head writer of the show for many seasons, helped him hone a topical brand of comedy that is perfect for the 'Late Night' franchise."

The real winner may be Lorne Michaels, who will control all three NBC late-night shows, the story points out. Michaels will executive produce "Late Night with Seth Meyers," which will tape from 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York, where "Saturday Night Live" and "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" will also be based, the piece notes.

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Cancellations Taking a Toll on Gay Characters

Openly gay characters are having a tough time as the networks decide their fall schedules, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

While the 2012-13 TV season featured a record number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters, next season may not prove as hospitable, since the networks' recent cancellations have seen many of those shows get cut, the story notes.

Gay-friendly shows getting the ax include NBC's "The New Normal," which was about a gay couple starting a family, and CBS’s "Partners."

NBC’s "Smash," which featured four gay regulars, was also canceled. Other shows with gay characters that have landed on the chopping block include TNT's "Southland" and ABC’s "Happy Endings," whose character Max Blum was considered one of TV's least stereotypically gay characters, the story notes.

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Fox Comedy Series Recasts Female Lead

On the heels of the announcement that it has been picked up, a Fox comedy series is recasting its female lead. Deadline.com reports that Alex Kapp Horner is leaving "Surviving Jack.”

The show, produced by Bill Lawrence, is based on the Justin Halpern book "I Suck at Girls." Horner played the wife of character Jack Dunlevy, played by Chris Meloni.

Other new comedy series that are recasting their female leads include NBC's "The Family Guide," which is parting ways with Parker Posey, and NBC’s "Sean Saves the World," where Lindsay Sloane is exiting, the piece adds.

alex-kapp-horner.jpgAlex Kapp Horner

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CBS Orders James Van Der Beek Comedy

CBS has placed a series order for a James Van Der Beek comedy project. TheWrap’s The Box reports that the network ordered "Friends With Better Lives."

Van Der Beek was recently in ABC's "Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23," but that show was canceled earlier this year.

"Friends With Better Lives," from 20th Century Fox TV, is about a group of 30-something friends who each believe the other one has a more attractive life.

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Cartoon Network Adds Series Starring Cartoon Version of Mike Tyson

Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim" programming block will add a new cartoon series called "Mike Tyson Mysteries," which stars an animated version of the retired boxer, reports the New York Post.

The animated version of Tyson will solve wacky problems with the help of his pet pigeon. Tyson will voice the character and will also make live-action appearances for the show, which doesn't yet have a premiere date.

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Bravo Making Progress in Battle Over 'Real Housewives of NYC'

After a salary dispute threatened to shut down "Real Housewives of New York City," Bravo is moving closer to getting the show back on track for a new season, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The six-member cast, which includes Ramona Singer and LuAnn de Lesseps, is likely to sign deals soon, the piece notes. While details aren't known, it's believed that the cast members will receive pay increases.

As previously reported, the show was facing cancellation over an impasse involving the cast members' demand for higher pay.

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Two Actresses Join FX's 'American Horror Story'

Two well-known actresses have been cast in FX’s “American Horror Story,” with Tony Award winner and Emmy nominee Patti LuPone and Oscar nominee Angela Bassett joining the show, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The pair will join the third cycle of the show, which will have a witch theme and will be called "American Horror Story: Coven." The news was tweeted by showrunner and co-creator Ryan Murphy, who wrote, "Two legends are joining the cast of American Horror Story: Coven -- Oscar nominee Angela Bassett and Tony winner Patti LuPone!"

It's not yet known which parts the actresses will be playing.

Bassett, who received an Oscar nomination for her role as Tina Turner in "What's Love Got to Do With it," received multiple pilot offers from broadcast networks this season, the story notes. LuPone won Tony Awards for her work in "Evita" and "Gypsy: A Musical Fable," and received a comedy Emmy nomination for her work on "Frasier," the piece adds.

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Warner Bros. TV Group President Leaving the Company

The president of Warner Bros. Television Group will leave the company after more than two decades at the studio, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Bruce Rosenblum didn't survive a "two-year bake-off that pitted him against [studio chief Kevin] Tsujihara (and, to a lesser degree, film studio President Jeff Robinov) to succeed outgoing Warner Chairman Barry Meyer," the story says.

Peter Roth, the president of Warner Bros. Television, will be promoted and will report to Tsujihara, the piece reports.

The article adds: "Warners has a powerhouse television operation with hits including 'The Big Bang Theory,' and Rosenblum was known as an exceptionally tough deal-maker immersed in the studio’s business in advance of the upfronts even as it was clear that his days were numbered. Roth’s strength is not on the business side, so as THR suggested in March, Tsujihara will pair him with Jeff Schlesinger, who oversees international TV sales, and Rosenblum’s No. 2, Craig Hunegs."

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Fox Reveals Fall Schedule; 'Bones' Moves to Fridays in Late Fall, New J.J. Abrams Series Set

"Fox is going back to the future in a pair of new fall dramas as it seeks to rebuild after a 20% ratings decline this season. A big slump at American Idol has knocked the network out of first place among young-adult viewers after an eight-year run."

So writes our good friend Gary Levin at USA Today.

Levin adds, "While 'Glee,' 'New Girl' and 'The Mindy Project' remain on the schedule, the network's new shows tap into its roots and center on young men. Monday brings 'Sleepy Hollow,' a modern-day version of the classic in which Ichabod Crane is resurrected and plunged 250 years ahead to a dystopian future in which he teams up with a cop to unravel a mystery and save the world. And in late fall, producer J.J. Abrams (Fringe) returns to Fox with 'Almost Human,' a sci-fi action futuristic action drama about cops who are teamed with robots."

"Bones"  will  begin the season on Monday nights, but as the fall progresses, the veteran series will move to Friday nights to make room for Monday airings of "Almost Human."

In a statement, Kevin Reilly, Chairman, Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting, says, “This season, we will strategically launch five inventive live-action comedies, four distinctive dramas, our first-ever event series, as well as some innovative new digital initiatives, across the week and throughout the year. We’re making the biggest investment in original programming in our history to ensure that Fox continues to engage viewers and move the culture more than any other entertainment brand.”

FOX 2013-2014 SCHEDULE
(New Shows in ITALICS)

MONDAY
8:00-9:00 PM Bones (fall) / ALMOST HUMAN (new; late fall)
9:00-10:00 PM SLEEPY HOLLOW (new; fall) / THE FOLLOWING (midseason)

TUESDAY
8:00-8:30 PM DADS (new)
8:30-9:00 PM BROOKLYN NINE-NINE (new)
9:00-9:30 PM New Girl
9:30-10:00 PM The Mindy Project

WEDNESDAY
8:00-10:00 PM The X Factor (fall) / American Idol (midseason)

THURSDAY
8:00-9:00 PM The X Factor Results (fall) / American Idol Results (midseason)
9:00-10:00 PM Glee (fall) / RAKE (new; midseason)

FRIDAY
8:00-9:00 PM JUNIOR MASTERCHEF (working title) (new; fall)
9:00-10:00 PM SLEEPY HOLLOW encores (fall)

Late Fall:
8:00-9:00 PM Bones (late fall)
9:00-9:30 PM Raising Hope (late fall)
9:30-10:00 PM ENLISTED (new; late fall)

SATURDAY
7:00-10:30 PM Fox Sports Saturday
11:00 PM-12:30 AM Animation Domination High-Def

SUNDAY
7:00-7:30 PM NFL Game (fall)
7:30-8:00 PM The OT (fall)
8:00-8:30 PM The Simpsons
8:30-9:00 PM Bob's Burgers
9:00-9:30 PM Family Guy
9:30-10:00 PM American Dad

Fox also announced that "Scheduling to be announced for the following new series slated for midseason: GANG RELATED, SURVIVING JACK, US & THEM and MURDER POLICE.

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Barbara Walters Announces When She Will Retire

Legendary TV personality Barbara Walters, 83, has announced when she will retire.

Here's the official announcement from ABC News:

Barbara Walters Announces 2014 Retirement

The legendary newscaster will leave TV journalism next summer

For decades, Barbara Walters has inspired millions with her groundbreaking interviews—but after 37 years with ABC News, the newscaster is announcing on 'The View' Monday that next summer, she will retire from TV journalism. Until then, she will continue to anchor and report for ABC News, appear on 'The View,' and anchor specials throughout the year including a 20 Years of 10 Most Fascinating People special in December, an Oscars special, and a May career retrospective.

Walters will remain executive producer of 'The View,' the show she created in 1997.

“I am very happy with my decision and look forward to a wonderful and special year ahead both on ‘The View’ and with ABC News. I created ‘The View’ and am delighted it will last beyond my leaving it.”

Walters began her career in 1961 at NBC’s "Today Show," where she eventually became a co-host. “No one was more surprised than I,” she says of her on-air career. “I wasn’t beautiful, like many of the women on the program before me [and] I had trouble pronouncing my r’s. I still do!”

Still, in 1976, Walters found a new home at ABC Evening News, where she became the first female anchor on an evening news program. Three years later, she became a co-host of "20/20."

At ABC, her interviews were wide-ranging and her access to public figures, unparalleled; Walters crossed the Bay of Pigs with Fidel Castro, conducted the first joint interview with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israel’s Prime Minister Menachem Begin. She also developed a reputation for asking tough questions. In one instance, “I asked Vladimir Putin if he ever ordered anyone to be killed,” she recalls. “For the record, he said no.”

But there were lighter interviews too. Walters hosts a “Most Fascinating People” special in December, which has afforded her the opportunity to chat with stars from Angelina Jolie to Tom Cruise. She has also interviewed every U.S. President and first lady from the Nixons to the current administration. But perhaps one of her favorite contributions to the network has been “The View.”

"There's only one Barbara Walters,” says ABC News President Ben Sherwood. “And we look forward to making her final year on television as remarkable, path-breaking and news-making as Barbara herself. Barbara will always have a home at ABC News and we look forward to a year befitting her brilliant career, filled with exclusive interviews, great adventures and indelible memories."

Meanwhile, Walters, who has one daughter, Jacqueline, is looking forward to taking a break—and seeing what the next generation of journalists has to offer.

“I do not want to appear on another program or climb another mountain,” she says. “I want instead to sit on a sunny field and admire the very gifted women—and okay, some men too—who will be taking my place.”

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NBC Announces Fall Schedule: Thursday, Once the Network's Most Powerful Night, Undergoes Major Changes

Our good friend -- and former TVWeeker -- James Hibberd of Entertainment Weekly writes, "NBC will continue to program a two-hour comedy block on Thursdays despite its struggles on the evening. Parks and Recreation will shift to Community‘s 8 p.m. slot in the fall (Community will be a midseason replacement at some point). NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt says the rest of the Thursday comedy lineup will have a 'family theme' moving forward, continuing to signal a shift back toward more traditional comedies after years of more hipster-friendly titles that often couldn’t deliver broad audiences."

Hibberd continues, "The new Thursday shows include multi-cultural/generational comedy Welcome to the Family and two sitcoms heralding the return of NBC comedy stars from yesteryear: 'Will & Grace‘s' Sean Hayes in 'Sean Saves the World,' and 'Family Ties' star Michael J. Fox in the rather plainly titled 'The Michael J. Fox Show.' In a concept that echos Fox’s prime-time history, the actor will play a news anchor and family man who returns to the workplace after putting his career on hold due to having Parkinson’s disease."

Here's NBC's Fall schedule, followed by it's Mid-Season lineup:

NBC FALL SCHEDULE
(New programs in ITALICS)

MONDAY
8-10 p.m.– “The Voice”
10-11 p.m. – “THE BLACKLIST

TUESDAY
8-9 p.m. – “The Biggest Loser” (New Time Slot)
9-10 p.m. – “The Voice” (New Time Slot)
10-11 p.m. – “Chicago Fire” (New Time Slot)

WEDNESDAY
8-9 p.m. – “Revolution” (New Time Slot)
9-10 p.m. –“Law & Order: SVU”
10-11 p.m. – “IRONSIDE

THURSDAY
8-8:30 p.m. – “Parks and Recreation” (New Time Slot)
8:30-9 p.m. – “WELCOME TO THE FAMILY
9-9:30 p.m. – “SEAN SAVES THE WORLD
9:30-10 p.m. – “THE MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW
10-11 p.m. – “Parenthood” (New Time Slot)

FRIDAY
8-9 p.m. – “Dateline NBC”
9-10 p.m. – “Grimm”
10-11 p.m. – “DRACULA

SATURDAY
Encore programming

SUNDAY
7:00-8:15 p.m. – “Football Night in America”
8:15-11:30 p.m. – “NBC Sunday Night Football”

Hibberd also quotes a statement from NBC Entertainement chairman Bob Greenblatt that says, in part, " 'The overriding strategy this year was to develop enough strong comedies and dramas to take advantage of the promotional heft of the Winter Olympics and devise two schedules for the upcoming season: one for fall and a slightly different one for midseason. I’m pleased to say that our development groups — headed by Jennifer Salke (scripted) and Paul Telegdy (alternative/reality) — really delivered,' Greenblatt said. 'This is the most robust and highest-testing slate of new shows we have had in years.'

"Greenblatt continued, 'And aside from our Olympics planning, we also wanted to create better flow and compatibility on each night, and deploy our strongest lead-in (‘The Voice’) to maximum effect.' "

Here's the NBC midseason lineup that Greenblatt referenced, above:

MONDAY
8-10 p.m. – “The Voice”
10-11 p.m. – “THE BLACKLIST

TUESDAY
8-9 p.m. – “The Voice”
9-9:30 p.m. – “ABOUT A BOY
9:30-10 p.m. – “THE FAMILY GUIDE
10-11 p.m. – “Chicago Fire”

WEDNESDAY
8-9 p.m. – “Revolution”
9-10 p.m. – ”Law & Order: SVU”
10-11 p.m. – “IRONSIDE

THURSDAY
8-8:30 p.m. – “Parks and Recreation”
8:30-9 p.m. – “WELCOME TO THE FAMILY
9-9:30 p.m. – “SEAN SAVES THE WORLD
9:30-10 p.m. – “THE MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW
10-11 p.m. – “Parenthood”

FRIDAY
8-9 p.m. – “Dateline NBC”
9-10 p.m. – “Grimm”
10-11 p.m. – “CROSSBONES

SATURDAY
8-10 p.m. – Encore and specials programming
10-11 p.m. – “Saturday Night Live” (Encore)

SUNDAY
7-8 p.m. – “Dateline NBC”
8-9 p.m. – “AMERICAN DREAM BUILDERS
9-10 p.m. – “BELIEVE
10-11 p.m. – “CRISIS" 

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NBC Cancels 'Smash' and 'The New Normal,' CBS Passes on TV Version of 'Beverly Hills Cop' from Shawn Ryan and Eddie Murphy

The headline from Deadline.com says it all: "SHOCKER: ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ Gets Pass At CBS, Likely To Be Shopped Elsewhere." 

In other big programming news, NBC cancelled two more series, the much-hyped and very expensive "Smash,' and "The New Normal." 

Regarding "Smash," The Hollywood Reporter writes, "Despite the infusion of Broadway stars, an arc by Jennifer Hudson and cameos from Rosie O'Donnell and Liza Minelli, among others, the once lauded series is averaging a measly 0.8 among adults 18-49 and just under 3 million total.

"The high-profile drama was a passion project for the NBC entertainment chairman, Bob Greenblatt, who brought the drama with him from his former post at Showtime. The episodic cost of Smash was said to in the neighborhood of $4 million, largely in part to pricey production numbers and a large ensemble cast.

" 'Smash,' which counted Steven Spielberg among its executive producers, will complete its 17-episode sophomore season on May 26.....[This season's] final episode was crafted as a series finale."

As for CBS not picking up the pilot of "Beverly Hills Cop" and making it a series, Deadline writes, "It is likely that the project, which had multiple suitors before landing at CBS in a bidding war last fall, will be shopped elsewhere. 'Beverly Hills Cop' originally was produced by Sony TV. After it had already been picked up to pilot at CBS, Paramount – which is looking to enter the TV business — exercised an option to buy into the show, creating an odd pairing between former corporate siblings Paramount and CBS and making odd bedfellows of Les Moonves and Brad Grey."

The Deadline article notes that "Cop" "stars Brandon T. Jackson as Axel Foley’s son and Eddie Murphy reprising his signature role as Axel."

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The Latest Pickups, Renewals and Cancellations: Goodbye CBS's 'CSI: NY,' 'Vegas,' TNT's 'Southland' and Other Shows. Hello to New Chuck Lorre Sitcom and Drama with 'Lost's' Josh Holloway, Among Many Others

It's early evening on Friday, May 10, 2013, here in Hollywood, and with the broadcast networks (primarily) finalizing plans for their upfront presentations to advertisers and their agenciies next week in New York, there's been a flurry of activity in cancelling shows, ordering new ones, and renewing others.

Based on reports from the various Hollywood trades (see below), pick ups to series include "Super Fun Night" (ABC); "S.H.I.E.L.D." (ABC); "Back in the Game" (ABC) starring James Caan; "Mind Games" (ABC); "The Goldbergs" (ABC); Chuck Lorre's "Mom" (CBS); "Crazy Ones" with Robin WIlliams and Sarah Michelle Gellar (CBS); "The Millers (CBS); "Intelligence" with Josh Holloway (CBS); Jerry Bruckheimer's "Hostages" with Toni Collette (CBS); "The Black List" (NBC); "Night Shift" (NBC): and  "Welcome to the Family" (NBC).

Renewals include: "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC); "Castle (ABC) "Modern Family: (ABC); "Once Upon a Time" (ABC); "Revenge" (ABC); Scandal" (ABC); "Suburgatory" (ABC); "Nashville" (ABC); and "Community" (NBC).

Canceled series include: "CSI: NY" (CBS); "Vegas" (CBS); "Rules of Engagement" (CBS); "Golden Boy" (CBS); "Southland" (TNT); "Monday Mornings" (TNT); "Happy Endings" (ABC); and "Rock Center with Brian Williams" (NBC).

Our report is culled from a number of excellent reports in the Hollywood trades. You can't go wrong reading stories about  this afternoon's cancellations and pickups and renewals in any of these publications: Deadline.com (http://www.deadline.com/2013/05/cbs-picks-up-crazy-ones-greg-garcia-mom-rob-greenberg-hostages-intelligence/ ; http://www.deadline.com/2013/05/nbcs-rock-center-with-brian-williams-cancelled/ ;http://www.deadline.com/2013/05/abc-renews-scandal-greys-anatomy-castle-nashville/ ; http://www.deadline.com/2013/05/nbc-sony-make-deal-blacklist-night-shift-welcome-to-the-family-all-picked-up-community-renewed/ ; http://www.deadline.com/2013/05/abc-picks-up-marveljoss-whedens-s-h-i-e-l-d-to-series/ ; http://www.deadline.com/2013/05/cbs-csi-ny-vegas-cancelled/ ; http://www.deadline.com/2013/05/tnts-southland-cancelled-after-five-seasons/ )

or The Hollywood Reporter (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/cbs-series-orders-mom-intelligence-crazy-ones-will-arnett-519502 ; http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/cbs-cancels-csi-ny-vegas-520885 ; http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/abc-orders-rebel-wilsons-super-520911 ; http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/nbc-orders-james-spaders-blacklist-520914 ; http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/nbc-renews-community-fifth-season-520816 ; http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/abc-renews-scandal-greys-anatomy-520909 )

or Variety (http://variety.com/2013/tv/news/cbs-3-1200479386/ ; http://variety.com/2013/tv/news/community-renewed-nbc-parks-and-rec-amy-poehler-1200478598/ ; http://variety.com/2013/tv/news/abcs-first-new-series-order-goes-to-agents-of-shield-1200479556/ ; http://variety.com/?p=1200479322 ).

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Another Sitcom Joins the NBC Casualty List

Another comedy series has been added to the list of cancellations at NBC. On the heels of word that the comedies “1600 Penn,” “Whitney,” “Guys With Kids” and “Up All Night” were given the ax, as we reported earlier today, comes news that “Go On” will also, well, not go on.

EW.com’s Inside TV reports that the Matthew Perry sitcom has bit the dust, adding that “there still could be more carnage to come. We’re also awaiting word on the fate of freshman comedy ‘The New Normal,’ along with perpetual underdog veteran ‘Community’ (NBC is in talks with Sony on potentially renewing the latter).”

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NBC Orders Remake of Classic Drama Series, Spinoff of Current Drama

NBC continues to make programming announcements for fall 2013, with the latest being the announcement that the network will try a remake of the 1960s-1970s detective drama “Ironside,” the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports.

The Peacock Network also ordered “Chicago PD,” a police spinoff of “Chicago Fire.”

“The network also added ‘Undateable,’ a young-adult sitcom starring Chris D'Elia as a romantic player who tries to show a group of nerds the ins and outs of the dating world,” the story reports. “The comedy will be produced by Bill Lawrence, the writer behind ‘Scrubs’ and ‘Cougar Town.’"

“L.A. Law” and “In Treatment” alum Blair Underwood will play the title role in "Ironside," portraying “a New York detective who was wounded in a shooting and is now confined to a wheelchair, but still tackles tough cases with his team of experts,” the piece notes.

The original version of “Ironside,” which ran from 1967 to 1975 on NBC, starred Raymond Burr.

“Law & Order” creator Dick Wolf, who is also behind “Chicago Fire,” will executive produce "Chicago PD."

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ABC Series Has Its Worst-Ever Premiere; CBS Show Hits All-Time Low

An ABC series got off to a bad start on its new season, scoring its worst-ever premiere in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that Thursday’s premiere of “Wipeout” mustered only a 1.2 average rating.

Meanwhile, CBS’s overall win for the night was tainted by seeing “Elementary” sink to an all-time low with a 1.8 average in the 18-49 demo, down two-tenths from its previous series low a week ago.

CBS had mixed results for the rest of its lineup, with “The Big Bang Theory” losing three-tenths of a ratings point from last week with a 4.6 in viewers 18-49 -- still easily the top show of the night. “Two and a Half Men” rose two-tenths to a 3.4, while “Person of Interest” matched last week’s series low, a 2.4.

ABC got good news from “Scandal,” which surged six-tenths to a 3.2 in the 18-49 demo, setting a series high. “Grey’s Anatomy” delivered a 2.9, slipping one-tenth from last week.

Fox’s “American Idol” moved up two-tenths from last week for a 2.8 average in 18-49, while “Glee” also ticked up two-tenths, to a 2.1.

NBC’s one-hour “The Office” came through with a 2.3 average rating in adults 18-49, half a point better than last week. The finale of “Community” managed a 1.3, ticking up one-tenth, while “Hannibal” remained flat with a 1.1.

For prime time overall, CBS led the way with a 2.7 average in the 18-49 demo, followed by ABC (2.4 average), Fox (2.4), NBC (1.5) and Univision (1.5). CBS had a comfortable lead in total viewers, averaging 12.1 million to Fox’s 8.6 million, ABC’s 7.3 million, Univision’s 3.5 million and NBC’s 3.3 million.

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MTV and Its Corporate Cousins Get Back to Their Musical Roots

MTV and other Viacom cable channels are working on an innovative program that taps into the “music television” part of their DNA. TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin reports that MTV, CMT and VH1, along with their various related channels, are already under way on an “artist opportunity hub” -- a concept that may be poised to evolve into a serious starmaking system.

Click here to read Atkin’s in-depth report on the project and to find out where Shannon Connolly, SVP of Digital Music Strategy for Viacom Music and Logo Group, sees things heading.

 

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CBS Affiliates Board Backs Live Plus Same Day Ratings

The CBS Affiliates Board today came out in support of a recent TVB position supporting Live Plus Same Day ratings. Here’s the statement from the CBS group:

“New York, May 10, 2013 -- The CBS Affiliates Board supports the recent TVB statement that local Live Plus Same Day ratings data is currently the most representative of the national C3 standard, according to Chris Cornelius, CBS Affiliates Board Chair and President/COO of Barrington Broadcasting.

“’As television viewing behaviors evolve, it’s imperative that we are willing and diligent in keeping pace with the realities of the consumer, and that has to include making sure that we support the most representative data available for our advertisers,’ stated Cornelius. ‘Today, the most reasonable approximation of the national C3 standard, at the local level, is Live + Same Day data. We know that time-shifting is becoming more prevalent, so it is our responsibility as local broadcasters to make sure that the current local measurement of our primary screen is in line with how people consume TV. The CBS Affiliates Board further concurs with TVB president Steve Lanzano that local TV measurement must be poised to “progress as the national currency advances to capture C7 and cross platform viewing.”’”

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Future Is Unclear for One 'Glee' Star

One of the stars of Fox's “Glee” has an uncertain future on the show, with observers unsure whether she will be back for its fifth season. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Heather Morris, who is pregnant, does not have a deal to return to the show.

Morris could potentially return either as a regular or in a recurring role, the piece notes. Her character, Brittany, started as a background cheerleader but gradually got more screen time as her dingbat persona won over viewers.

Heather-Morris.jpg

Heather Morris 

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NBC Pulls Plug on Four Comedy Series; One Fan Favorite Is Spared

Four NBC comedies have been canceled, while the network renewed one sitcom that has been a fan favorite.

The cancellations of four shows that have been on the bubble indicate that NBC is undergoing a comedy makeover, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

The canceled shows include "1600 Penn," which earned anemic ratings, and "Up All Night," which had a series of upheavals including the departure of its star Christina Applegate. Also canceled are "Guys with Kids," which earned mediocre ratings, and "Whitney," which suffered from dwindling viewership.

NBC renewed the fan favorite "Parks and Recreation" for a sixth season, despite modest ratings. The show drew 3 million viewers a week during the past season, but has become a critical favorite with star Amy Poehler earning Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, notes the Times' Show Tracker in a separate report.

 

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After Intense Negotiations, Stars of CBS Drama Agree to Return, Leading to Show's Renewal

After a week of "intense negotiations, a couple of deadlines and best and final offers," the five leads of the CBS drama series "Criminal Minds" have all signed new two-year deals, leading to a ninth-season renewal from CBS, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

As previously reported, two key cast members -- Kirsten Vangsness and A.J. Cook, who play Penelope Garcia and Jennifer "JJ" Jareau, respectively -- were ready to walk while they negotiated for higher pay.

While the two didn't quite get salary parity with their male counterparts, Shemar Moore and Matthew Gubler, they both received sizable pay bumps, Andreeva writes.

The other stars who signed new deals are Moore, Thomas Gibson and Joe Mantegna, the piece says.

 

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TNT Bringing Back Series

TNT has renewed a docudrama series. Deadline.com reports that the cable network is bringing back the series "Boston's Finest," which has been following the heroic work of the Boston Police Department after the Boston Marathon bombing.

The unscripted show, which gives viewers a look at the men and women who work in the city's police department, has averaged 1.3 million viewers in Live+7, the story notes. That's in line with TNT's "The Great Escape," which was canceled after its first season.

The show is executive produced by Donnie Wahlberg, a Boston native, and Seth Jarrett and Julie Insogna-Jarrett.

 

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Fox Cancels Drama Series -- Does This Mean Another Series Will Return?

Fox announced it is canceling a drama series, raising the possibility that another Fox series could return to the network.

"Touch," the drama starring Kiefer Sutherland, has been canceled, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker. The thriller ran for two seasons and was Sutherland's follow-up to "24," but "Touch" never reached the same ratings levels, the story notes. The first season averaged about 7 million viewers, but its second season is averaging only 3.8 million viewers.

But Sutherland could return to Fox on "24," given that the network is considering bringing back the show as a limited event series, reports Deadline.com.

There have been attempts to bring "24" to the movie screen, but they haven't worked out, the story notes. Howard Gordon, currently the executive producer on Showtime's "Homeland," has pitched the idea of starting a new story arc, and "24" producers 20th Century Fox TV, Imagine TV and Fox all "jumped on board," according to the report.

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Cable Reality Show Faces Cancellation Over Impasse Between Network and Cast

Cast members on a veteran cable reality show have been given what amounts to an ultimatum: sign their contracts today or the network will cancel the show.

Bravo has drawn a line in the sand in an effort to break the impasse over "The Real Housewives of New York City,” reports the New York Post's Page Six. With contract negotiations stalled, production of new episodes has already been delayed, the report notes.

The network has told the cast, including LuAnn de Lesseps and Carole Radziwill, that it will cancel the series unless they sign their contracts today, May 10, 2013. Bravo was slated to start taping the sixth season this week, but the women refused to start filming with contract talks still under way.

Several cast members are asking for "reasonable" pay increases to cover costs such as hair and makeup. Cast members currently earn an average of about $65,000 per season, although some long-term cast members earn more.

Ramona Singer, who started with the first season, earns a reported $500,000, but asked for $1 million for the sixth season, the piece adds. While Bravo refused her request, she still agreed to return.

A representative for Bravo declined to comment.

 

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Randy Jackson Confirms He Won't Return to 'American Idol'

Randy Jackson, the only original judge still on the Fox singing competition "American Idol," said he won't return to the show next season, reports Bloomberg.

Jackson was a stabilizing factor on the show, which had added celebrity judges such as Jennifer Lopez in recent years. In earlier seasons, he was a buffer to the acid-tongued Simon Cowell.

Ratings for the show are down about 20% this season, with feuding pop divas Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey failing to lure viewers.

But Jackson’s departure might just be the beginning. It has been reported that all four current judges won't be asked to return next season, as the show wants to get rid of the high salaries it was paying Carey and Minaj (a reported $18 million and $12 million, respectively) and try to boost ratings with a fresh approach.

In a statement, Jackson said, "To put all of the speculation to rest, after 12 years of judging on ‘American Idol’ I have decided to leave after this season. I am very proud of how we forever changed television and the music industry.”

 

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Detective Drama May Be Headed to Cable After ABC Passes

ABC has passed on the drama pilot "Murder in Manhattan," which stars Annie Potts and Bridget Regan as a mother and daughter who work together as amateur detectives, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

But the pilot will be shopped to cable networks through ABC Studios' lower-cost programming unit, the story notes. That path worked for "Devious Maids," which ABC Studios sold to Lifetime after ABC passed it over.

"Murder in Manhattan" is from writer/executive producer Maria Maggenti of "90210."

 

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*******PLEASE NOTE--THIS ITEM IS A PAID TEXT ADVERTISEMENT*** American Legion Announces 2013 Recipients of Top Journalism Award

***PLEASE NOTE--THIS ITEM IS A PAID TEXT ADVERTISEMENT***

INDIANAPOLIS (May 10, 2013) – A Hawaii television station, America’s newspaper and a war correspondent’s video on the website of the nation’s “newspaper of record,” will receive The American Legion’s Fourth Estate Award during the organization’s 95th National Convention in Houston, Texas, on August 29

The Fourth Estate Award has been presented annually by The American Legion since 1958 for outstanding achievement in the field of journalism. Nominations were considered in three categories: print, broadcast, and new media (Internet).

Taking top honor in the print category for a second time was USA TODAY. A fourteen-month investigation of more than 460 forgotten lead factory sites, including tests of more than 1,000 samples of soil in 21 neighborhoods by reporters Alison Young and Peter Eisler, found significant lead poisoning risks. Failures by the EPA and state regulators had left thousands of families across the country in harm’s way for more than a decade. The series, Ghost Factories, drew calls for action from seven U.S. senators and has led the EPA to re-examine health risks at all 464 sites nationwide. More than a dozen states have launched their own investigations and several sites have already been targeted for cleanup.

Hawaii’s KITV-TV brought closure to a long and dark phase of history with the production of a one hour documentary on the life of Marianne Cope, just canonized by the Vatican for her work on the Kalaupapa peninsula in the mid-1800s. Of the more than 8,000 people torn from families and left to die in the leprosy settlement of Kalawao and Kalaupapa, only 18 remain today. With the disease no longer a threat, these elderly and frail patients traveled to Rome for the canonization. For them, her sainthood validated that their suffering and sacrifice have not been in vain. KITV’s Pamela Young, Rex Von Arnswaldt and Gary Sprinkle poignantly closed out a dark phase of history with a story of hope, faith and courage.

In the Internet (new media) category, freelance war correspondent Alex Quade won her second consecutive Fourth Estate Award for her video report, “Chinook Down,” for the New York Times website. Her short documentary revealed the full story and human toll behind a WikiLeaks headline of a Chinook helicopter shot down by a surface-to-air missile in Afghanistan, killing all onboard. Quade was supposed to be on that helicopter. She survived to report firsthand on the firefight and recovery. For five years, she gathered material on the attack, interviewing pilots who provided air support to rescue teams on the ground, obtaining previously unreleased Pentagon documents via Freedom of Information Act appeals, and video. The result of Alex Quade’s investigation was a 10-minute video for the New York Times that brought closure to the families; as one soldier who had long suffered from PTSD told her, “You helped me come home from the war.”

“These outstanding journalists have gone above and beyond the works of their peers; Each of them has exhibited the highest commitment to excellence in the research, writing and production of masterful reports that have truly made a difference for the better in our world,” said James E. Koutz, national commander of the 2.4 million member American Legion.

“These journalists are among the best of the best,” he said. “I will be honored to present each of them with our highest recognition of journalistic accomplishment, The American Legion Fourth Estate Award.”

Previous winners of the award include Dateline NBC, C-SPAN, United Press International, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Indianapolis Star, the Detroit News, Fortune Magazine, ABC News, and Life Magazine, among others.

The nation’s largest wartime veterans organization, The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and patriotic youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through nearly 14,000 posts across the nation.

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Two CW Shows Get Renewals

The last two of the CW’s current series to receive renewals have been announced. Deadline.com reports that the channel renewed "The Carrie Diaries" and "Nikita."

"Carrie" will return for a 13-episode order as a midseason show, while "Nikita" will return for a six-episode run, the piece notes. It's likely to be the last season for "Nikita," although if the short season works, it could return for additional runs as a limited series, the report adds.

 

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Neil Patrick Harris to Host Tony Awards Again -- Here's a Clip of One of His Classic Tony Openings

"How I Met Your Mother" star Neil Patrick Harris has agreed to host the awards show for a fourth year, reports The New York Times' ArtsBeat.

Harris first hosted the Tonys in 2009, then took off 2010, and returned in 2011 and 2012. For the past two years, he earned Emmy Awards for his Tony duties, which he shared with the show's executive producers, Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss, the piece points out.

This year's Tony Awards will be held June 9 at Radio City Music Hall and will be telecast live on CBS.

Here’s a clip of Harris’ opening from the 2011 Tonys, featuring the production number “It’s Not Just for Gays Anymore”:

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Spike Orders More 'Bar Rescue'

Spike TV has given the greenlight for 20 more episodes of its original series "Bar Rescue," which will air this fall, reports Deadline.com.

The show, which features bar expert Jon Taffer as he tries to turn around failing businesses, averaged 1.8 million viewers for its third season, its highest level yet, the story notes. It also improved its time slot with the 18-34 and 18-49 demographics more than threefold and twofold, respectively, the piece adds.

 

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Netflix Adds Shows From Disney Junior and Disney XD

Netflix has signed a deal with the Disney/ABC Television Group giving the online streaming site shows from Disney Junior and Disney XD such as "Tron: Uprising" and "Jake and the Never Land Pirates," reports the Los Angeles Times.

The multiyear licensing deal will also add "Handy Manny," "Special Agent Oso" and "JoJo's Circus" to the streaming service on a non-exclusive basis, the piece adds. The addition of the kids' shows comes as Netflix has been seeking to attract more families to the service.

Netflix has added a "Just for Kids" section to its site, which helps younger viewers and families find kid-friendly programs.

 

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Calling the TV Business an 'Injustice Being Inflicted on the American People,' John McCain Unveils Legislation Challenging the Current TV Model

Sen. John McCain introduced legislation today that he says will give consumers better control over their pay-television choices. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Arizona Republican announced the measure while proclaiming that the current practices of the television business amount to an “injustice being inflicted on the American people.”

McCain said his measure, the Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013, will "help shift the landscape to benefit television consumers."

“Long a foe of how pay-TV distributors such as satellite and cable companies and programmers package and sell programming, McCain wants the industry to start selling channels on an individual or a la carte basis to consumers, the Times reports. “That way, a customer who doesn't love sports isn't stuck footing the high bill ESPN charges.”

Speaking on the Senate floor, McCain said: "Whether you watch ESPN or not, and admittedly I do all the time, all cable subscribers are forced to absorb this cost. Today we are putting up a stop sign."

The Times adds: “McCain criticized not only distributors but also programmers for so-called bundling. That is when a large company such as ESPN parent Walt Disney Co. or MTV parent Viacom rolls all of its channels together in one bundle to sell to distributors.”

McCain said: “The video industry, principally cable companies and satellite companies and the programmers that sell channels, like NBC and Disney-ABC, continue to give consumers two options when buying TV programming: First, to purchase a package of channels whether you watch them all or not; or, second, not purchase any cable programming at all."

The Times notes: “While a distributor can still opt to buy individual channels from a programmer, the bundle typically includes a discount for strong channels in return for carrying less popular networks. Cable executives argue that the bundle actually lowers prices for everyone. If an ESPN or a TNT was suddenly in 50% fewer homes, it would have to double what it charges to those customers still interested in receiving it, they say.”

The report adds: “Bundling has even become controversial within the television industry. Earlier this year, New York cable operator Cablevision Systems Corp. sued Viacom [alleging] anti-competitive behavior, claiming the parent of MTV and Comedy Central [is] using its muscle to force the carriage of smaller networks that customers don't want.”

McCain said the measure is voluntary, but includes incentives that he hopes will bring the industry on board.

“One provision has to do with the cable compulsory license, which lets a pay-TV distributor retransmit programming without getting permission from the copyright holder,” the story reports. “The compulsory license typically applies to a pay-TV distributor that carries a local broadcast channel. In those cases, rather than pay a copyright holder directly for retransmitting a TV station that is carrying a rerun of ‘Seinfeld,’ it pays the Copyright Royalty Tribunal, which then compensates the copyright holder.

“If a pay-TV distributor does not offer programming on an a la carte basis, McCain's bill would strip their right to use the compulsory license. That means that distributor would have to negotiate individual deals with all the rights holders of that content, which would be incredibly time-consuming and likely more expensive.”

The compulsory license provision would be applicable only to programmers owning both broadcast and cable operations, the piece notes, adding: “That includes Walt Disney Co., which owns ABC; News Corp., which owns Fox; and CBS, which besides its broadcast network also owns some cable channels, including CBS Sports Network.”

“But some other big programmers, including Viacom and Time Warner, do not own broadcast properties. For those companies, McCain's bill would require them to sell their channels on an individual basis as well as a bundle for distributors,” the Times adds.

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Seth MacFarlane to Make 'Simpsons' Debut

Seth MacFarlane is responsible for much of Fox's Sunday animation block, but hasn't yet voiced a character on the long-running "The Simpsons." Now Deadline.com reports that’s about to change.

MacFarlane will make his debut on the show during its one-hour season finale on May 19, the story says. He will voice a character named Ben, a married man whom Marge gets to know online through a swingers site, the piece reports.

Comedian Lisa Lampanelli is also providing guest voice work on the show's 24th-season finale.

 

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Reality Check: NBC's 'The Voice' Sinks to Historic Low, Still Better Than Fox's 'Idol' Head-to-Head

Two flagship reality shows suffered their own forms of ratings misery Wednesday night, with NBC’s “The Voice” sinking to a series low in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights, while Fox’s “American Idol” lost to the NBC show in the hour that the two shows went head-to-head.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “The Voice” fell to an all-time-low 2.7 average rating in 18-49 for the 8 p.m. hour. “American Idol” registered a 2.5 in the same hour, although the two-hour program grew in its second hour and averaged a 2.8 overall. “Idol” was comfortably ahead of “The Voice” in total viewers, averaging 10.82 million to the NBC show’s 8.77 million.

CBS also had an entry in the 8 p.m. clash of the reality shows, with “Survivor: Caramoan” coming in a close third in the 18-49 demo with a 2.5 average, and placing second in total viewers with 9.33 million.

The top show of the night was a scripted series, ABC’s “Modern Family,” which delivered a 3.1 average rating at 9 p.m. -- a season low. That number wasn’t enough to lift ABC out of fourth place overall, as “The Middle” also registered a season low, a 1.8, slipping two-tenths of a ratings point from last week; “How to Live With Your Parents” fell one-tenth to a 2.0; and “Nashville” joined the network’s downtrend by losing one-tenth and settling for a 1.6.

CBS was up across the board -- the 2.5 for “Survivor” in adults 18-49 represented an uptick of one-tenth from last week, while “Criminal Minds” also nudged up one-tenth to a 2.5 and “CSI” surged three-tenths to a 2.2.

NBC also had a couple of shows move in a positive direction: “Law & Order: SVU” rose a healthy four-tenths of a ratings point from last week to a 1.9 average in 18-49, and “Chicago Fire” inched up one-tenth to a 1.8.

Fox won prime time overall with its 2.8 average in viewers 18-49, finishing ahead of CBS (2.4 average), NBC (2.1) and ABC (1.9). Fox also took a narrow win in total viewers, with its 10.8 million beating CBS’s 9.7 million, NBC’s 7.5 million and ABC’s 6.1 million.

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YouTube Launches Subscription Service With 'Sesame Street,' UFC

YouTube rolled out its eagerly anticipated subscription service today, taking the wraps off 30 paid channels, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The channels offer familiar entertainment brands including "Sesame Street," "Jim Henson Family TV" and the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the report notes, “spanning the programming gamut, from familiar children's fare to British TV and documentary films to entertainment offerings targeting specific audiences, such as ‘Gay Direct’ and the Alchemy's rap battle network.”

Each channel is offering a 14-day initial trial, the piece notes, with monthly rates starting at 99 cents.

Said Malik Ducard, director of content partnerships for YouTube: "This is really just the beginning. We'll also be rolling out more paid channels in the coming weeks."

The report adds: “Some YouTube channels, such as ‘Sesame Street,’ will offer its subscribers full episodes. The UFC will provide access to classic fights. As with cable TV, the channels may or may not feature ads -- at the discretion of the channel creator.”

The channels are accessible on computers, smartphones, tablets and Internet-connected TV sets.

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PBS Orders California-Based Version of 'Downton Abbey'

PBS has commissioned a project that is being described as "Downton Abbey" set in California, reports the New York Post.

Called "Alta California," the show is set in the 1800s in California, and is a multigenerational drama with some of the themes of PBS's period hit "Downton Abbey," the story says. Those themes include class conflict and history as well as great landscapes.

The project is from Dennis T. Leoni, who created the Showtime series "Resurrection Blvd.," the piece notes.

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NBC Cancels Drama Series

NBC made a number of programming moves, including canceling a drama series. Deadline.com reports that the network pulled the plug on the midseason drama "Deception."

While NBC executives liked the show, it had a tough time finding its footing in a crowded field, including fending off comparisons to ABC's "Revenge," the story reports.

Additionally, NBC passed over seven pilots, including the Charlize Theron-produced "Hatfields & McCoys," one of its more high-profile projects, TheWrap notes.

Other pilots that got passed over include "The Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives"; "Joe, Joe and Jane"; "Drop Off"; "Holding Patterns"; "Bloodline"; and "The Sixth Gun." NBC will announce its schedule Sunday.

Nineteen pilots remain in contention, including J.J. Abrams' "Believe."

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Report: 'American Idol' Taking Nuclear Option and Getting Rid of All Four Judges, Along With Longtime Producer

"American Idol" isn't asking any of its four current judges to return next season, and on top of that, longtime producer Nigel Lythgoe also will be leaving the show, reports TheWrap.

While reports have surfaced about former judge Jennifer Lopez coming back to the program, that's not in the cards, according to the report.

Because of slumping ratings, Fox will make major changes to the show, including shedding all four judges, even original judge Randy Jackson, the story reports. A Fox representative declined to comment.

While the four judges have options to return next season, Fox won't pick them up. The show, which paid a reported $18 million to Mariah Carey and $12 million to Nicki Minaj, has vowed to stop paying huge salaries.

The show's format will change, with a redesigned look and an end to the tribute nights.

Ratings are down 22% this season, dipping to a series low last Thursday, when “Idol” drew 11 million viewers and only a 2.4 rating in the key 18-49 demographic, the piece points out. At its peak, the show was drawing about 30 million viewers.

 

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Fox Hands Out Series Pickups for 2013-14 TV Season

Fox kicked off the upfront season Wednesday by announcing it has picked up five new comedies and four new dramas for the fall, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

The comedies are:

"Brooklyn Nine-Nine," a cop comedy starring "Saturday Night Live" alum Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher.

"Dads," from "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane. It stars Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi as childhood friends whose dads move in with them.

"Enlisted," which is about three brothers on a Florida Army base, and is written and created by "South Park’s” Kevin Biegel.

"Us & Them," starring Jason Ritter and Alexis Bledel, adapted from the hit BBC comedy "Gavin & Stacey."

"Surviving Jack," starring "Law & Order: SVU" alum Christopher Meloni as a father in Southern California during the 1990s.

The dramas are:

"Almost Human," by J.J. Abrams and J.H. Wyman. It's set 25 years in the future when androids work with humans on the police force.

"Gang Related," a law enforcement drama about a member of Los Angeles' anti-gang task force. It stars Ramon Rodriguez.

"Rake," starring Greg Kinnear in his first broadcast series role as a self-destructive criminal defense attorney.

"Sleepy Hollow," in which Ichabod Crane is revived 250 years after his death to help solve a historical mystery.

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Veteran Film Director, Best-Known for 1970s Psychological Thriller, Dead at 86

A feature film director, screenwriter and actor whose legacy includes a series of successful 1960s and 1970s movies has died. Reuters reports that Bryan Forbes, best-known for the 1975 psychological thriller “The Stepford Wives,” died Wednesday at 86.

The British-born Forbes reportedly died at his home in Virginia Water, Surrey, England, after a long illness.

Forbes’ feature directing career got off to a strong start in the early 1960s, with “Whistle Down the Wind” (1961), followed by “The L-Shaped Room” (1962) and “Seance on a Wet Afternoon” (1964). He continued his success in the 1970s with “The Stepford Wives,” “International Velvet” (1978) and other movies, before wrapping up his directing career with the TV movie “The Endless Game” in 1990.

He co-wrote the screenplay for the 1992 Robert Downey Jr. movie “Chaplin.”

“Forbes was married to British actress Nanette Newman and had two daughters, TV presenter Emma Forbes and journalist Sarah Standing,” Reuters reports.

Actress Joan Collins responded to news of Forbes’ death on Twitter, writing: "Very sad to hear that Bryan Forbes died. He was an iconic figure of the British film industry. My heart goes out to Nanette, Sarah and Emma."

“Forbes was born John Theobald Clarke in east London in 1926 and made his screen acting debut in 1948,” the Reuters report notes. “He landed supporting parts in several notable British films including ‘An Inspector Calls’ and ‘The Colditz Story.’

“He set up Beaver Films in 1959 with director Richard Attenborough. Forbes wrote their first film, ‘The Angry Silence,’ which featured Attenborough in the lead role and was nominated for an Oscar in 1961 and won a BAFTA.”

bryan-forbes.jpg

Bryan Forbes

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NBC's 'The Voice' Admits Voting 'Inconsistencies'

NBC's "The Voice" disclosed a voting irregularity this week, and talked about the problem on Wednesday's show, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Fans had trouble voting online and via text messaging through the vote-tallying company Telescope, the story notes. Nevertheless, even if the problems had been solved, the outcome -- which contestants were eliminated -- wouldn't have changed, the network said.

"Tonight we’d like to be completely upfront with you,” host Carson Daly said. “We noticed some inconsistencies with this week’s texting and online voting.”

Telescope CEO Jason George said in a statement, "Our system caught an inconsistency in a portion of this week’s voting data. For fairness, those votes have been removed from Monday and Tuesday’s results, but we want to assure fans and artists alike that this in no way affected the outcome for any team.”

Telescope also manages voting for other shows, including "The X Factor" and "American Idol."

 

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Alex Trebek Talks About His Future on 'Jeopardy!' -- and the Show He Wants to Do After He Leaves

Alex Trebek revealed that he has been considering how he would like to spend his post-"Jeopardy!" years, telling TV Guide that he would like to try his hand at a talk show.

Trebek said he “wouldn't mind hosting a once-a-week type show like what Charlie Rose does. And I'd like the Pope to be my first guest." He added that his first question would be, "Why has the Church been screwing up so much?"

Trebek added that he doesn't expect to continue hosting “Jeopardy!” beyond 2016. "I suspect this might be my last contract," he said. "I'm not going to go on forever. My contract expires in 2016. There is a time for all things and my time may be coming."

Asked about "Today" co-host Matt Lauer or CNN anchor Anderson Cooper replacing him, Trebek said, "Any of them could do it. It's just a question of whether they would want to and enjoy it. Both men are a lot younger than I am and it's a pretty static format, even though the guests and clues change, which keeps it exciting. If Matt Lauer would come over to 'Jeopardy!,' I'd be happy to take over his job on 'Today.'"

Thumbnail image for alex-trebek.jpgAlex Trebek

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PBS Takes the Wraps Off Ambitious Programming Plans for Fall, Including 50th Anniversary JFK Tributes

PBS has unveiled its wide-ranging programming plans for fall 2013, with a number of special programs on tap to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963.

Other fall highlights include new dramas, the first PBS Independent Film Showcase, and programs examining American heritage from diverse viewpoints. The fall season will also see the return of acclaimed science programs and the second PBS Arts Fall Festival.

“PBS pays tribute to President Kennedy on the eve of the 50th anniversary of his assassination with intriguing new takes on the president’s life and death, anchored by ‘JFK,’ a new four-hour, two-part special from ‘American Experience,’” PBS announced. “A new episode from the science series ‘NOVA,’ the history-focused ‘Secrets of the Dead’ and other specials to be announced complete this special anniversary coverage.”

PBS is rolling out a new unscripted, interactive series, “Genealogy Roadshow,” which employs scientific and historical methods to uncover individual and family histories. Also on tap is “Latino Americans,” described as “the first major documentary series for television to chronicle the rich and varied history of Latinos across 500 years. Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. is executive producing “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross,” chronicling black history in the U.S.

“The arts remain a staple of PBS programming, with the PBS Arts Fall Festival returning for a seven-week run celebrating music and Broadway classics, including ‘Nashville 2.0,’ a tribute to legendary country stars, a star-studded version of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Company and ‘Great Performances: Barbra Streisand: Back to Brooklyn,’ the superstar’s first Brooklyn concert since her childhood years,” PBS announced. “The PBS Independent Film Showcase airs this fall with documentaries from ‘Independent Lens’ and ‘POV.’ ‘Great Performances’ premieres its ambitious four-part miniseries ‘The Hollow Crown,’ combining Shakespeare’s ‘Richard II,’ ‘Henry IV (Parts I & II)’ and ‘Henry V’ into a single chronological narrative.”

Sunday nights will see the drama series “Masterpiece” present material including “Foyle’s War, Series VII” and “The Paradise,” an adaptation of Emile Zola’s French novel.

PBS offered extensive details on the rest of its fall programming plans in an in-depth press release issued today. Please click here to read it.

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NBC Signs First-Look Deal With 'The Voice' Coach

NBC has signed an exclusive one-year first-look development deal with one of the coaches on "The Voice." Deadline.com reports that the network signed with Adam Levine and his producing partner, Jordan Feldstein.

The pair will develop scripted and alternative programming for NBC. Levine, the lead singer for Maroon 5, sold a comedy project and a drama to NBC in 2011, the piece adds.

Thumbnail image for adam-levine.jpg

Adam Levine

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ABC's 'Castle' May Get Two-Season Order

ABC may give a two-season renewal to "Castle," the procedural that stars Nathan Fillion, which would extend the show’s run to seven seasons, reports Deadline.com.

The show now ranks as ABC's most-watched drama series, and is one of several shows on the network whose future is certain, along with "Grey's Anatomy," "Scandal" and "Modern Family," the piece notes. Meanwhile, "Dancing with the Stars" might scale back on the number of cycles it airs each season, the story adds.

"Castle" spent the first couple of seasons on the bubble, but as its fifth season finale is approaching, the series now has a solid fan following and strong ratings.

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Sony Reports First Full-Year Net Profit in 5 Years, Thanks in Part to Its Strong Insurance Division. We Didn't Even Know Sony Had an Insurance Division

"Sony reported its first full-year net profit in five years on Thursday and said it expected earnings to grow by a further 16% this year, helped by restructuring efforts and a weaker yen," reports the Financial Times.

The story notes, "Sony has for some time relied on profits from the banking and insurance operations it owns in Japan to make up for weakness in other businesses. Last year was no different: Its financial arm earned a profit of 149 billion yen, three times more than the next most profitable division, its US-based film studio."

Sony Life, which is insurance the company sells in Japan, continues to be a strong performer for Sony.

The company also benefited from the sale of its New York headquarters for $1 billion.

Says the story, "The Japanese electronics and entertainment group said net profit for the year that ended in March totaled 43 billion yen ($435m), a turnround from its massive 457 billion yen loss a year earlier. For the current year, it expects to earn a profit of 50 billion yen."

The article adds, "Sony has axed 10,000 jobs, or about 6% of its workforce, [and] shrunk its lossmaking television manufacturing business."

Continuing about the TV-set division, the story says that Sony's "once-dominant TV operation remained in the red, however. The company has struggled to compete against South Korean and Taiwanese producers in the era of digital flat-screens, and the operation has been losing money for nearly a decade."

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TNT Orders Series Starring 'Game of Thrones' Actor

TNT has ordered a drama series starring a "Game of Thrones" actor. EW.com's Inside TV reports that the cable network ordered "Legends," starring Sean Bean from “Thrones.”

Bean will play an undercover agent who works for the FBI's Deep Cover Operations and who has the talent to transform his appearance. The project, based on a novel by Robert Littell, is executive produced by "Homeland’s” Howard Gordon and Alexander Cary.

The show will debut on TNT next year. On HBO's "Game of Thrones," Bean played the honorable but doomed Eddard Stark.

Sean-Bean.jpgSean Bean

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Former World Wrestling Corp. Exec Named to Key Post at CBS TV Distribution, Will Oversee 'Arsenio' and Other Shows

Former World Wrestling Corp. executive Eric Pankowski has been named senior vice president of programming and development at CBS Television Distribution, where he will develop syndicated shows, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Pankowski will create and develop first-run shows, and will oversee current shows including "The Arsenio Hall Show," which debuts Sept. 9, the story notes.

He most recently served as senior vice president of creative and development for World Wrestling Corp. Previous stints included time at Warner Bros., where he helped debut "Lopez Tonight" and worked on production of shows including "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and "Judge Mathis."

 

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Actress Who Played One Role on TV for Almost Four Decades Dead at 84

A veteran television actress who played one role for nearly 40 years on a long-running series has died. EW.com’s Inside TV reports that Jeanne Cooper, who played matriarch Katherine Chancellor on CBS’s “The Young and the Restless,” died today at 84.

“Cooper, who has starred in the daytime series since its first year in 1973, had been in and out of a Los Angeles hospital recently due to an undisclosed illness,” the story reports. “Her actor/son Corbin Bernsen had been informing fans of her condition via Facebook, where he confirmed her death today.

Bernsen wrote on the website: “My mother passed away this morning just a short time ago, peaceful with my sister by her side, in her sleep. I was going to visit this afternoon, thought I had time. Reminder to self -- time is a precious thing. I too am at peace however. I said my goodbyes several times over during the last few weeks.”

Bernsen also wrote of his mother: “She has been a blaze her entire life, that beacon, that boxer I spoke of earlier. She went the full twelve rounds and by unanimous decision… won! And while her light finally gave into the wind that gives flight to all our journeys, there will always be a glimmer left behind by what she stood for. I will speak about that more in coming days, months I suppose. I will certainly dedicate what remains of my life to continue her purpose of honesty, equality, humility, empathy and love.”

The report notes that it remains unclear how “Y&R” will handle Cooper’s death. “The series is currently six weeks ahead of schedule and her storyline recently involved her character successfully undergoing surgery for a brain tumor,” the piece notes.

In a statement, CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler said: “Jeanne Cooper will be remembered as a daytime television legend and as a friend who will truly be missed by all of us here at the Network. She was the longest-running cast member on daytime’s No. 1 show, bringing indelible charm, class and talent to every episode. On behalf of everyone at CBS, we send our condolences to Jeanne’s family, as well as the legions of fans she has amassed during her record 39 years on ‘The Young and The Restless,’ and throughout her career.”

Cooper received 10 Daytime Emmy nominations during her career, winning the Daytime Emmy in 2008. She also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Daytime Emmys in 2004, and had two Primetime Emmy nominations.

jeanne-cooper.jpgJeanne Cooper

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CBS Drama Back on Track After All-Time Low; NBC Wins Night Despite Dropoff for 'The Voice'

A CBS drama series got headed back in the right direction Tuesday night after notching a series low last week, while NBC’s “The Voice” lost ground but still had enough to power the network to a nightly win in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that CBS’s “NCIS: Los Angeles” bounced back after its all-time low, gaining two-tenths of a point to deliver a 2.2 in viewers 18-49. CBS’s other dramas were down, however, as the network settled for second place behind NBC.

NBC’s “The Voice” was easily the top show of the night with a 3.6 average rating in the 18-49 demo, but that was a drop of three-tenths from a week ago. Leading out from “The Voice,” “Grimm" won the 10 p.m. hour with a 1.9, equaling last week’s number.

CBS’s “NCIS” lost two-tenths from a week ago, settling for a 2.9 in 18-49, while “Golden Boy” managed only a 1.2 to place third at 10 p.m., slipping one-tenth from last week.

Fox had mixed results, with “Hell’s Kitchen” losing two-tenths from last week to deliver a 1.9 average in adults 18-49, while “New Girl” ticked up one-tenth to a 2.1 and “The Mindy Project” held steady with a 1.3.

ABC saw its beleaguered “Splash” improve slightly, rising one-tenth from its series low of last week to register a 1.0 in 18-49. “Dancing with the Stars” was also up, two-tenths higher with a 1.7 average, while “Body of Proof” slipped two-tenths from its previous original episode to a 1.4.

NBC led the way for prime time overall with a 3.0 average in the 18-49 demo, followed by CBS with a 2.2, Fox with a 1.8, Univision with a 1.5 and ABC with a 1.3. CBS came out on top in total viewers with 12.4 million, followed by NBC (9.4 million), ABC (7.7 million), Fox (4.0 million) and Univision (3.8 million).

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Jodi Arias Found Guilty of First-Degree Murder

In a high-profile and heavily televised murder trial in Arizona, Jodi Arias was found guilty today of first-degree murder in the death of her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander.

The verdict was announced on live TV shortly before 5 p.m. ET in Maricopa County Superior Court. The trial in the sensational case, which has been a focus of heavy media attention since January, now moves into the aggravation phase.

Arias, 32, could face the death penalty. The body of Alexander, 30, was found in his shower in June 2008. “He had been shot in the face, stabbed multiple times and his throat had been slashed,” Reuters reports.

Arias admitted to killing Alexander, but “had said her actions were in self-defense after he attacked her because she had dropped his camera while taking photos of him in the shower,” the report notes.

jodi-arias.jpgJodi Arias

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Piers Morgan to Executive Produce Starz Project About a Subject That's Right in His Wheelhouse

Piers Morgan has a new drama project in the works at Starz that focuses on subject matter that should be familiar to the CNN talk host. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Morgan will executive produce “Fleet Street,” a period piece about tabloid journalism.

Morgan is a former tabloid editor who worked in the U.K. at The Sun, News of the World and The Daily Mirror, the report notes.

“’Fleet Street’ is set in England in the 1970s and will chronicle the rise of tabloid journalism, the sexual revolution and class warfare -- told through the eyes of an American journalist,” the story reports. “The drama hails from Lionsgate Television (which produced ‘Boss’ for Starz) in association with Richard Branson's Virgin Produced, Octagon Entertainment and Morgan's Ferrett Productions. Morgan (CNN's ‘Piers Morgan Live,’ ‘America's Got Talent’) will executive produce alongside Octagon managing director John Ferriter (‘Arsenio Hall Show’) and Virgin's Jason Felts, Justin Berfield and Michael Forman. BAFTA-winning screenwriter Danny Brocklehurst (U.K.'s ‘Shameless,’ ‘Clocking Off’) will pen the pilot and executive produce.”

In a statement today announcing the project, Morgan said: “Imagine an industry where every single opponent worked in the same street, competing with each other by day -- drinking, brawling, fornicating, night clubbing and cocaine-snorting with each other by night. A street full of the most ruthless and amoral people in the world existed, and it was called Fleet Street. In the early '70s, it became the breeding ground for modern popular journalism, as foreign media tycoons stomped over the British establishment to re-define 'news,' suddenly exposing the rich, powerful and famous in spectacular front-page scoops. It was the dawn of the celebrity era, in all its gruesome detail -- a revolution that changed pop culture.”

The report notes: “For Starz, Fleet Street comes as the premium cable network is ramping up its original scripted fare as it is set to lose its portfolio of Disney films in 2016. Starz is scheduled to launch at least four scripted series in 2013, including the recently completed final season of ‘Spartacus,’ season two of Jeffrey Dean Morgan's ‘Magic City,’ freshman period drama ‘Da Vinci's Demons’ -- which has already been renewed for a second season -- and new limited series ‘The White Queen’ with Janet McTeer.”

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One Network Group Dominates Sports Emmys -- and It's Not ESPN

One network group dominated the Sports Emmys, awarded Tuesday night by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Taking home a whopping 23 trophies was NBC Sports Group, consisting of NBC, NBC Sports Network, nbcolympics.com, Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC and Telemundo.

The NBC group left its rivals in the dust, with the next-highest total being seven awards for Turner Sports -- TNT, TBS and NBA TV. HBO Sports snagged six Emmys, while ESPN -- ESPN, ESPN 2 and ESPN 3D --came in with five.

Among the trophies for NBC, the broadcast network won Outstanding Live Sports Special for its coverage of Super Bowl XLVI, “Sunday Night Football” won Outstanding Live Sports Series, and Outstanding Live Event Turnaround went to the network’s Games of the XXX Olympiad.

Fox won Outstanding Playoff Coverage for the National League Championship Series, HBO earned a trophy for Outstanding Sports Documentary for “Namath” and CBS Sports Network claimed the trophy for Outstanding Edited Sports Special for “One Heartbeat.”

For a complete list of winners and the detailed press release from NATAS, please click here.

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Video: David Bowie's Latest Clip Gets 'Adults Only' Rating From YouTube

Veteran rocker David Bowie sparked a bit of a scandal with his latest music video, which you can see below. Newsday reports that the clip for “The Next Day” was pulled for a period of time from YouTube, and returned with an adults-only rating from the online streaming site.

“The video features actors Marion Cotillard and Gary Oldman, and shows Bowie as a Christ-like figure performing in a bar populated with religious figures and scantily clad women,” the story reports. “Cotillard plays a woman with a stigmata and is seen with blood bursting from her wounds, while Oldman is a priest who shows interest in Cotillard’s character and takes issue with Bowie’s.”

Reuters reported that the clip was removed from YouTube briefly, with a statement posted indicating that the video violated the site’s terms of service. “The video was then restored to the site but viewing is restricted to people ages 18 and older,” Newsday reports.

The report adds: “Why the outrage? Based on watching the video, it's likely the unholy combination of religious imagery and sex -- for example, the video features lusty priests and a woman in bridal veil wearing nothing else except nipple coverings. (Really.)”

Vevo reportedly continues to post the video without restrictions. And you can watch it here:

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Singer for Grammy-Nominated Band Arrested in Murder-for-Hire Plot

The lead singer for a Grammy-nominated metal band has been arrested in an alleged murder-for-hire plot. The Associated Press reports that Tim Lambesis, 32, lead singer of the band As I Lay Dying, was arrested Tuesday in Southern California.

He’s accused of trying to hire an undercover detective to kill his estranged wife.

Lambesis “was taken into custody while shopping at a retail business in Oceanside, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said in a statement,” the story reports. “Detectives received information Thursday that Lambesis had solicited someone to kill his wife, who lives in nearby Encinitas, the statement said. A task force from several law enforcement agencies launched an investigation that led to the arrest.”

Lambesis was charged with three federal counts -- one count of solicitation to commit murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit a crime, the article reports. No additional details were provided by police.

“As I Lay Dying formed in San Diego in 2000 and has released six albums, including 2007's ‘An Ocean Between Us,’ which reached No. 8 on Billboard's charts,” the report notes. “A single from the album, ‘Nothing Left,’ was nominated for a Grammy for top metal performance. Their last album, ‘Awakened,’ came out in September on Metal Blade Records.”

The band is scheduled to begin a U.S. tour later this month.

The report adds: “Lambesis, known for his signature growling vocals, had recently raised more than $78,000 from fans to fund his side project, Austrian Death Machine, a metal band mocking the film work of Arnold Schwarzenegger, according to the Los Angeles Times. The top prize, for those who spent $5,000, was to have the winner's initials tattooed on Lambesis' buttocks, the newspaper said.”

tim-lambesis.jpgTim Lambesis

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Showtime Drama Might Not Make It to Season 4

A Showtime series currently in its third season may wrap things up with a two-hour movie rather than move on to season four. Deadline.com reports that "The Borgias," a drama about the infamous Italian family, is unlikely to get a fourth season.

A final decision hasn't yet been made, but Showtime executives are reportedly considering ending the show’s run with a movie that would wrap up the storylines.

The producers of "The Borgias," which was created by Neil Jordan, originally conceived that the show would run for four seasons, similar to the network's "The Tudors."

The drama series has been gaining some ratings momentum, and a fourth season remains a possibility, the piece notes. The third season debuted last month with 582,000 viewers, down 4% from the 2012 premiere. The third episode, though, drew total-night viewership of 918,000, the highest number of the season so far.

Jordan indicated recently that he would like to finish the show with a movie. "Another 10 episodes is kind of exhausting,” he said during interviews with the British press, the report notes. “I’ve mapped out a movie, which, if [Showtime brass] agree, will shoot in June with the same cast, and finally the Pope will die horribly.”

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CNN Announces New Series

CNN took the wraps off plans for a new original series, announcing that it is joining forces with Robert Redford on the unscripted, eight-part series “Chicagoland.” The series will be executive produced by Redford and Laura Michalchyshyn of Sundance Productions, and award-winning filmmakers Marc Levin and Mark Benjamin of BCTV.

As the title implies, the series will focus on the city of Chicago. “It is as authentic an American city as there is, and the series will explore where politics and policy meet real people’s lives -- in a city generating change and innovation in social policy, education, and public safety -- to meet national and local challenges,” CNN announced.

The series is scheduled to launch in early 2014.

Said Redford: “The vibrant culture and opportunities inherent in this 21st century, world-class city run alongside profound daily challenges. Much of it falls on the shoulders of its tough, visionary mayor, his team and people doing heroic work in neighborhoods throughout the city. Chicago has always had a rhythm all its own. It’s a city that wears its heart on its sleeve and I am honored to be a part of telling this story.”

Amy Entelis, senior vice president for talent and content development for CNN Worldwide, added: “We’re very pleased to bring this unique long-form series to the network. ‘Chicagoland’ is a creative exploration of stories relevant to every city and every American.”

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Nielsen Changes Its Definition of the TV Universe -- and This Means the Universe Is About to Get Bigger

Nielsen revealed how much the universe of U.S. television homes will increase with the TV measurement company’s expanded definition of a TV household. The Los Angeles Times reports that the size of the TV universe will rise by 1.2% with Nielsen shifting its focus to include thousands of dwellings that watch via a high-speed Internet connection.

The new definition will go into effect in September, and will increase the number of TV homes to 115.6 million -- up from 114.2 in the current TV season. Homes qualify as part of the TV universe if they have a high-speed Internet connection and at least one TV monitor with the ability to deliver video, the piece notes.

Final estimates of the new TV universe will be released in late summer, before the 2013-14 TV season begins.

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CNN Executive -- Who Is Also a Former News Director of a Major New York TV Station -- Is Leaving CNN

A top CNN executive is leaving the cable news channel, with CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker writing in a memo to staff that CNN senior vice president of current programming Bart Feder "decided that it is time to move on and take his career in a new direction,” reports TVNewser.

"Bart Feder and I have been in discussions over the last couple of weeks about his role in the company," Zucker wrote.

Zucker, who recently took the leadership role at CNN, has been making changes in the executive suite and with on-air personalities. In the past few months, managing editor Mark Whitaker and senior VP of communications Christa Robinson have departed.

Feder joined CNN in 2008 as the senior VP of current programming, and is the former news director for WABC-TV in New York.

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Which TV Pilots Are Likely to Receive Pickups? Here's the Top 10

With the upfronts slated for next week, broadcast executives are deciding which of 100 pilots will receive orders and land on the 2013-14 schedules. The Hollywood Reporter spoke with industry insiders and compiled a list of the 10 projects that appear most likely to receive series orders.

They are:

"Beverly Hills Cop" from CBS. The continuation of the film franchise "tested through the roof," the story notes.

"Mom" from CBS, which Deadline.com is reporting will receive an order today, as reported separately. The project has been considered a sure bet since it comes from Chuck Lorre of "Two and a Half Men."

"Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." from ABC. The project is from Joss Whedon of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and could solve ABC's problems with the 8 p.m. Thursday slot, where shows such as "Charlie's Angels" and "Last Resort" failed to catch on, THR notes.

"Tomorrow People" from the CW. An adaptation of a 1970s British series that appeals to younger viewers. It's from "The Vampire Diaries’” Julie Plec and "Arrow’s” Greg Berlanti, two of the network's most valued show creators. It's about young people with special powers who work to defeat evil.

"The Goldbergs" from ABC. It's said to be a dysfunctional version of "The Wonder Years," and has received some good buzz after its pilot screenings.

"Blacklist" from NBC. One TV agent said it was one of the best scripts of the year, tracking a world-class criminal who turns himself in. James Spader stars, and a series order would mark his return to NBC after his role on "The Office."

"Brooklyn Nine-Nine" from Fox. This workplace cop comedy could be a companion to the already renewed "The Mindy Project." It stars Andy Samberg of "Saturday Night Live," Andre Braugher and Terry Crews.

"Rake" from Fox. Academy Award nominee Greg Kinnear stars in an adaptation of an Australian drama that's about a "House"-like character who's an attorney. The project is from Peter Tolan of "Rescue Me."

"Crisis" from NBC. This Washington thriller starring Dermot Mulroney and Gillian Anderson has been getting rave reviews for its cast.

"Reign" from the CW. This is a drama about Mary Queen of Scots' rise to power. The network is said to like the international appeal of the show, which was filmed in Europe and has a largely unknown cast.

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What?!!? CNN and HLN Personalities Hold Split-Screen Interview in the Same Parking Lot

In what’s being called "a bizarre television and spatial anomaly on CNN," the network aired a "satellite" interview between CNN's Ashleigh Banfield and HLN's Nancy Grace, who were updating viewers Tuesday morning about the Cleveland kidnapping story, with the two on-air personalities apparently only a few feet apart, the Atlantic reports.

"At first it seems like a normal TV 'remote,' as Banfield interviews Grace from another location,” the article reports. “Then the channel's graphics alert viewers: Both anchors are in Phoenix. That's odd. Also: They're both outdoors, sitting in what looks to be a parking lot. And is that same building behind them?"

The same cars can be seen passing along the street behind the two women, followed by the identical bus, the piece notes.

"It seems that Grace and Banfield are sitting in the same parking lot, facing in the same direction, and judging by the speed of the vehicles in their shots, they cannot be sitting more than 30 feet away from each other," the Atlantic points out.

While the women work for two different cable networks, CNN and HLN share the same corporate owner, the report notes. Grace and Banfield were in Phoenix to cover the Jody Arias murder trial.

cnn-split-screen.jpg

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Fox News Anchor Renews Contract, May Move to Prime Time

Fox News Channel may be on the verge of making the first significant tweaks to its prime-time schedule in more than 10 years, reports Brian Stelter in The New York Times.

The report comes after anchor Megyn Kelly, who has been working afternoons, renewed her contract with the cable channel. Kelly may be positioning for a move to prime time, Stelter reports.

The potential change comes after another of Fox News' best-known anchors, Greta Van Susteren, also renewed her contract this week, the story says. Van Susteren, who has held the 10 p.m. time slot since 2002, might find another spot on the channel, opening up that time slot for Kelly.

John Coale, Van Susteren's husband and a lawyer who represents her, told The Times that he wasn't aware of scheduling changes, but added that his wife would be happy to move to an earlier hour. Coale was diagnosed with cancer in December, and said that he would "like to spend some quality time with my wife, at least before 11 p.m." Coale is recovering after surgery, the piece adds.

"A prime-time change would be, by Fox News scheduling standards, seismic; the channel has had a remarkably consistent lineup of hosts and shows, much to the chagrin of competitors like MSNBC and CNN, which have not," Stelter writes.

Kelly reupped with Fox News after meeting with the heads of at least two other TV networks, including CNN, the piece notes. She gained attention during last fall's presidential election, when she walked through Fox News' offices to interview its voting analysts about Karl Rove's belief that the network had called Ohio for President Obama too early.

"They, not surprisingly, defended their decision. The moment became a viral hit and bolstered Ms. Kelly’s personal brand as a part of Fox’s news side, not its opinion side," Stelter notes.

Meanwhile, “Ms. Van Susteren’s 10 p.m. program, ‘On the Record,’ has been a sore spot on the channel’s schedule,” Stelter writes. “The program had an average of 1.43 million viewers in the first quarter. In the demographic that matters most to advertisers, viewers ages 25 to 54, Ms. Van Susteren attracted 250,000 a night, only 35,000 more than her competitor on MSNBC, Lawrence O’Donnell. At the end of the quarter, MSNBC said in a news release that Fox’s ‘On the Record’ had recorded its ‘worst quarterly performance ever.’”

On the other hand, Van Susteren’s show has consistently been No. 1 in total viewers, the piece notes.

megyn-kelly.jpgMegyn Kelly

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HBO Series Sets Ratings Record

An HBO drama series is on a ratings roll, setting a series high Sunday for the fourth week in a row. EW.com’s Inside TV reports that "Game of Thrones" drew an audience of 5.5 million viewers for Sunday’s 9 p.m. telecast, and with both plays that night, viewership reached 6.8 million, a new gross nightly high.

The third season of the drama is currently averaging a cumulative 13.4 million viewers, when original viewing, repeats and viewing via DVR, HBO Go and On Demand are factored in, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to Co-Host NBC's 'Today'

NBC’s "Today" show has arranged for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to co-host the 8 a.m. hour of the show on Friday, when he will appear from the Jersey Shore, reports Deadline.com.

Christie will also be interviewed and will discuss the state's efforts to recover from Hurricane Sandy.

Christie recently made headlines with the revelation that he had secretly undergone Lap-Band surgery in February to help reduce his weight, as reported by ABC News.

The governor, who has talked about his weight struggles in the past, has lost about 30 pounds since the surgery three months ago.

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NBC's Pro Football Theme Song 'Waiting All Day for Sunday Night' Will No Longer Be Sung by Faith Hill. She's Being Replaced by an 'American Idol' Winner

NBC's "Sunday Night Football" has found a replacement for Faith Hill to perform the show's theme song, "Waiting All Day for Sunday Night."

B&C reports that "American Idol" winner Carrie Underwood will now sing the song.

"Waiting All Day for Sunday Night," is set to an original Joan Jett Song, "I Hate Myself for Loving You."

Hill performed the song from 2007-2012. Pink performed it in the show's inaugural season in 2006.

carrie-underwood.jpg

Carrie Underwood

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CBS to Give Series Order to New Chuck Lorre Sitcom Starring 'SNL' Alum

CBS will give a series order to a new comedy from Chuck Lorre, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com. The order for “Mom” is expected today, the piece reports.

It's the network's first pilot from this year's development to receive a series order, with CBS picking it up a full week before its upfront presentation.

"A select few A-list producers get early pickup deadlines from the networks, giving them a window to shop the projects elsewhere if they get a pass. Lorre understandably is in that category with an unusually early deadline for 'Mom' this year even by those standards," Andreeva writes.

Still, there wasn't much doubt that CBS would pick up the project, given that it had a hot script and a cast led by Anna Faris and Allison Janney. The finished pilot was also well received, the piece notes.

The series, from Warner Bros. TV, is about a newly single mother, played by Faris, who is getting back on her feet in California’s Napa Valley. It may end up in the Monday 8:30 p.m. time slot.

Thumbnail image for Anna-Faris.jpgAnna Faris

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Plans for $25 Million Remodel of Fallon's New York Studio for 'The Tonight Show' Are Scrapped; Now Re-Do Will Cost Millions Less

"Despite months of planning, Jimmy Fallon won't be getting a big, new $25 million studio at 30 Rock after all when he takes over 'The Tonight Show' and moves it to New York in 2014," reports Paul Bond in The Hollywood Reporter.

The story continues, "Insiders tell THR that NBC spent seven months working on plans that called for the combining of Studios 6B and 8G and turning them into a megastudio for Fallon as well as a showy theater for NBCUniversal to screen movies. Including a balcony, the facility would have fit an audienceof 400."

The report adds, "The project, though, recently was scrapped, says an insider, and now when Fallon becomes host of 'Tonight,' he'll have to settle for a mere $5 million renovation of Studio 6B, where he currently hosts 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.' "

Among several reasons that NBC might have changed its mind about the rennovations is this one, the story notes, "Other insiders say NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke balked at the $25 million price tag and that some worried Fallon couldn't fill a 400-seat theater five nights a week. Counters an NBC rep, 'That's simply not true.' "

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Walt Disney Chief Bob Iger Says ABC Needs More 'Scandal'

Walt Disney Chairman and CEO, Bob Iger, says the ABC television network needs more "Scandal."

The TV show, that is.

According to Variety, Iger said on an earnings call today, May 7, 2013, that  "ABC’s success will depend on having a team in place that 'comes up with the kinds of shows that drive higher ratings and advertising revenue'...Iger cited Shonda Rhimes’ ABC Studios-produced sudser 'Scandal,' which has blossomed in its second season, as the kind of 'program that we own that has great potential in delivering on our investment. But we want more of them.' "

According to the story, Iger also said, "I’ve seen the pilots and I’m more than reasonably encouraged in what I’ve seen.”

The article notes, "Among the Alphabet’s hot prospects are Joss Whedon’s 'Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,' based on the comicbook company’s spy characters, some of which were seen in 'The Avengers,' the 'Iron Man' franchise, 'Thor' and 'Captain America: The First Avenger.'...Another drama in consideration is an oater inspired by the Disneyland roller coaster Big Thunder Mountain Railroad."

As for earnings, the article says, "During the most recent second quarter, which wrapped March 30, 2013, Disney’s broadcast division, led by ABC, saw revenue decline 2% to $1.5 billion on lower ratings, although profits rose 40% to $138 million." 

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Steven Spielberg Once Said That Without This Man's Work 'There never would have been a 'Star Wars' or a 'Jurassic Park.' ' Special Effects Wizard Ray Harryhausen Dead at 92

Ray Harryhausen, one of the legends of Hollywood special effects and the king of stop-motion animation for decades, died today in London. He was 92.

Inspired by the original “King Kong,” Harryhausen became the master of pre-CGI-era special effects, developing a form of stop-motion animation he called Dynamation. He made his mark in movies starting with “Mighty Joe Young” in 1949 and continuing through “Clash of the Titans” in 1981. Also among his best-known movies were “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad” (1958) and “Jason and the Argonauts” (1963).

“Way before movies like ‘Star Wars’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ inspired the imagination of film lovers everywhere, audiences were enraptured by the sword-wielding skeletons of ‘Jason and the Argonauts,’ the great ape of ‘Mighty Joe Young’ and the dinosaurs opposite Raquel Welch in ‘One Million Years B.C.,” USA Today reports.

In fact. according to the Los Angeles Times obituary about Harryhausen, Steven Spielberg once said that wiithout Harryhausen "There never would have been a 'Star Wars' or a 'Jurassic Park.' "

The USA Today report adds: “The legendary effects wizard's influence was felt both in his sci-fi and fantasy movies as well as in the works of later filmmakers such as George Lucas and Peter Jackson. Beginning his career in the 1940s, Harryhausen became well known for using stop-motion model animation and having them interact with actors in a live-action world.”

A statement on his Facebook page says: "Harryhausen's genius was in being able to bring his models alive. Whether they were prehistoric dinosaurs or mythological creatures, in Ray's hands they were no longer puppets but became instead characters in their own right, just as important as the actors they played against and in most cases even more so."

USA Today reports: “Born in Los Angeles, Harryhausen first became inspired as a 13-year-old watching Willis H. O'Brien's large beast of ‘King King’ come alive via stop-motion photography in 1933. The young Harryhausen would then work with O'Brien as a technician on ‘Mighty Joe Young’ (1949) before his breakthrough ... with The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), where he designed a giant rampaging lizard that attacked New York City.”

The report adds: “Monster movies became his forte in the 1950s and '60s, and he unleashed a wide variety of ... creatures, including the gigantic irradiated octopus of ‘It Came From Beneath the Sea’ (1955), alien spacecraft in ‘Earth vs. the Flying Saucers’ (1956), a whole island of beasties including the Cyclops in ‘The 7th Voyage of Sinbad’ (1958) and a prehistoric mollusk in ‘Mysterious Island’ (1961).”

His skeleton warriors in “Jason and the Argonauts” were perhaps the most famous of his many trademark movie creations, with the swordfight between the seven skeletons and a group of live actors taking more than four months to complete.

The following video clip, one of the best of many video tributes to Harryhausen that can be found online, includes virtually all of Harryhausen’s iconic movie creations:

ray-harryhausen.jpgRay Harryhausen with one of his trademark skeleton warriors

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NBC Expands Series Finale for 'The Office' -- With This Lineup of Guest Stars, the Show Will Need the Extra Time

The upcoming series finale of the long-running NBC comedy series “The Office” is almost movie length now. The network revealed that the May 16 sendoff will be 15 minutes longer than previously announced, clocking in at one hour, 15 minutes, Deadline.com reports.

The show will air from 9-10:15 p.m., followed by “Hannibal” from 10:15-11 p.m. “Hannibal” will run with limited interruptions.

Commenting on the storyline for the “Office” sendoff, Deadline reports: “The final episode picks up months after the airing of the documentary, when the workers of Dunder Mifflin, past and present, gather for a wedding and a final round of interviews. Mysteries are solved, hatchets are buried, pranks are prunked.”

The story lists a roster of guest stars for the episode including Mindy Kaling, BJ Novak, Rachael Harris, Dakota Johnson, Joan Cusack, Ed Begley Jr., Malcolm Barrett, Matt Jones, Andy Buckley, Mike Schur and Bobby Ray Shafer.

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TNT Orders Michael Bay Drama Series

With a “Grey’s Anatomy” veteran set to star, TNT has given a series order to a drama series from Michael Bay, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The series is “The Last Ship,” based on the William Brinkley novel. TNT ordered a 10-episode season, set to roll out next year with “Grey’s” alum Eric Dane in the lead role.

“’The Last Ship’ centers on a global catastrophe that nearly obliterates the Earth's population, forcing the crew of a naval destroyer to confront the reality of their new existence in a world where they are among the only survivors,” THR reports. “Dane stars as Tom Chandler, the commanding officer of the USS Nathan James who's married with two young daughters.”

Said Michael Wright, president and head of programming at TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies: "’The Last Ship’ has all the elements of a big Hollywood blockbuster, from its epic storytelling to its top-notch cast headed by the perfect leading man, Eric Dane. Michael Bay and his fellow executive producers have shaped William Brinkley's story and characters into an exceptional drama full of action, suspense, tragedy and triumph. ‘The Last Ship’ is smart, fun television that takes you on a great ride."

THR adds: “’Last Ship’ hails from Platinum Dunes' Brad Fuller and Andrew Form (‘A Nightmare on Elm Street,’ ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’), with Hank Steinberg (‘Without a Trace’) and Steven Kane (‘The Closer’) serving as executive producers. Steinberg and Kane co-wrote the pilot, which Bay will produce. Rhona Mitra, Adam Baldwin and Tracy Middendorf co-star.”

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In Unusual Simulcast, A&E Networks Pitching High-Profile Upcoming Miniseries as a 'House Party'

A&E Networks will roll out an unusual strategy at its upfront presentation Wednesday in New York, revealing that it will run its upcoming miniseries “Bonnie & Clyde” simultaneously on Lifetime, History and A&E, Advertising Age reports. It will pitch the high-profile event to viewers as a “House Party.”

The strategy “will allow A&E Networks to combine female-skewing Lifetime viewers with male-skewing History and A&E's broader adult audience -- all the better, the thinking goes, to offer ad buyers larger reach at one time,” Ad Age reports. “It is the first such attempt by the company but is likely to be repeated if it works.”

The report adds: "’Bonnie & Clyde’ is the latest big-budget TV miniseries, where History has been spearheading the genre's return to prominence -- first with ‘Hatfields & McCoys,’ whose finale averaged 14.3 million viewers, and then ‘The Bible,’ whose finale got 10.3 million viewers. Their success also spawned History's first scripted series, ‘Vikings,’ which has been renewed for a second season.

Please click here to read Ad Age’s detailed report.

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'The Voice' Carries NBC to Monday Win as the Competition Sinks to a Historic Low

NBC’s singing competition “The Voice” carried the network to another Monday prime-time ratings win in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights, while one of its main competitors, ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” dipped to an all-time low, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

Even while losing four-tenths of a ratings point from last week, the two-hour “The Voice” was the top show of the night by a comfortable margin, averaging a 3.9 rating in 18-49. NBC also had a 2.1 average for “Revolution,” which bounced back by three-tenths from last week’s all-time low.

Airing opposite “The Voice,” ABC’s two-hour “Dancing” followed last week’s series low with another all-time low, slipping one-tenth to a 1.9 in adults 18-49. “Castle” led out from the dance competition with a 2.0, equaling last week’s number.

Second-place CBS saw “How I Met Your Mother” slip to a season-low 2.6, dipping one-tenth from last week in viewers 18-49. “2 Broke Girls” also delivered a 2.6, even with last week; “Rules of Engagement” had a 2.1, also equaling last week; “Mike & Molly” fell two-tenths to a 2.2; and “Hawaii Five-0” ticked up two-tenths to a 1.9.

Fox had a slow night, opening with the low-rated special “Rihanna 777,” which managed only a 0.8 in the 18-49 demo. The network led out from it with a “Bones” rerun (0.6 average).

For prime time overall, NBC was on top with a 3.3 average in adults 18-49, followed by CBS (2.2 average), ABC (2.0), Univision (1.6) and Fox (0.7). ABC came through with a win in total viewers, averaging 12.2 million to NBC’s 10.0 million, CBS’s 7.5 million, Univision’s 3.8 million and Fox’s 2.1 million.

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Two Key Cast Members Ready to Walk From CBS's 'Criminal Minds'

The long-running CBS crime drama "Criminal Minds" may have a cast shakeup in the works, given that two of the show’s stars have turned down offers from CBS and show producer ABC Studios, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

The actors are Kirsten Vangsness and A.J. Cook, who play Penelope Garcia and Jennifer "JJ" Jareau, respectively.

Meanwhile, Shemar Moore, who portrays Derek Morgan, is "deep in negotiations," although the two sides aren't close on settling on pay, the story notes.

In good news for the show's chances of getting a renewal, stars Thomas Gibson and Joe Mantegna are close to new agreements, although no deals have been made yet. The studio and the network have given the stars until the end of today to sign in order for the show to receive a renewal, the piece adds.

As for Vangsness and Cook, Andreeva writes that the pair are negotiating together and "have decided to take a stand on the treatment of female cast members on the show as the two have consistently been been paid less than half of what all of their male counterparts -- not just stars Gibson and Mantegna -- are making."

With the latest offers from ABC Studios and CBS "again positioning them well below all other cast members, I hear Vangsness and Cook are willing to walk if they don’t get some parity with their co-stars," Andreeva writes.

 

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Inspiration for Beloved TV Character Dead at 94

The woman who inspired one of the most popular TV characters of all time has died. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Margaret "Marge” Groening, the mother of "The Simpsons" creator Matt Groening and the inspiration for Marge on the TV show, died at 94.

According to a death notice published in The Oregonian, her parents, Matt and Ingeborg Wiggum, met on a boat sailing to America from Norway.

She married her classmate Homer Groening "because he made her laugh the most," the notice says. Homer Groening, a cartoonist, died in 1996, according to The Reporter.

"The names of Matt Groening’s parents (and those of his sisters Lisa and Maggie) make it obvious that the inspiration for Fox’s long-running 'Simpsons' came from his family," The Reporter notes.

 

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Does Jeff Zucker Have an Ace Up His Sleeve as He Struggles to Resuscitate CNN?

Jeff Zucker doesn’t have a lot to show yet in his campaign to bring CNN back to life in the cable news ratings race, but that may be about to change. TheWrap.com reports that Zucker, whose “four-month tenure running CNN has been marred by failed programming experiments and embarrassing reporting gaffes,” has a key weapon in his arsenal.

That weapon, according to the report, is a morning show, "New Day," which aims to repeat Zucker’s success in making NBC’s "Today" show “the most-watched, most profitable morning news show on television,” the story says.

"New Day," to be co-hosted by Chris Cuomo, "Situation Room's" Kate Bolduan and former KTLA-TV news anchor Michaela Pereira, is set to premiere Monday, June 10. The piece points out that the lineup is reminiscent of “Today’s” Matt Lauer, Katie Couric and Ann Curry.

New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter, who examines the morning news wars in his book “Top of the Morning,” told TheWrap: "I think it's going to take a long time to turn around CNN's morning show. I hope that his boss and his lieutenants have the patience that's necessary. Zucker knows that because he was patient with the 'Today’ show in the '90s. So, if anybody can be patient enough to get a following to CNN's morning show, it's Jeff Zucker."

TheWrap notes: “Zucker's first few months at CNN have been a mix of gaffes and successes. Ratings took off during the search for the Boston bombing suspects, but the network was the first of several outlets to wrongly report an arrest, days early. The network’s reporting on a guilty verdict of teenaged defendants in a Steubenville rape case also drew criticism.”

Zucker was quick to bring in his own people in key roles, the piece reports, including “bringing in Allison Gollust, his former PR right hand from NBC, and pushing CNN's executive vice president Mark Whitaker (who was credited with the channel’s overall approach) out the door.”

The report adds: “Zucker has demonstrated a preference for talent with personality, poaching ABC's Jake Tapper and adding ESPN’s Rachel Nichols to their ranks, among others. In doing so, he has bid goodbye to network news veterans and commentators including Soledad O’Brien, Roland Martin, James Carville and Maria Cardona.”

The piece quotes a high-ranking exec at rival cable news net MSNBC, speaking anonymously, saying of Zucker: "I think he basically went in there to establish it was his network, got involved with everything and made people react quicker. Step one is to wake everybody up and make sure they react."

“CNN has always cornered the market for breaking news,” the report notes, “but it has had a hard time keeping viewers around for its scheduled programming. Zucker is trying to change that by bringing in recognizable and engaging personalities and broadening the news channel’s appeal.”

Adds the MSNBC exec: "He’s got a tricky thing, he's got to thread a needle. He has the best brand in news, but has to figure out how to differentiate itself from the competition."

We urge you to click on the link in the first paragraph to read TheWrap’s in-depth report.

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Mariah Carey's Husband Points the Finger in Diva Feud -- and Not at Nicki Minaj

Nick Cannon, Mariah Carey's husband, pointed fingers in an interview on "The Talk," telling the audience that he blames "American Idol’s” producers for feeding a feud between his wife and fellow judge Nicki Minaj, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

"It’s kind of unfortunate,” he said on the CBS talk show. “When you see someone like my wife, who tries to remain classy and tries to take the high road, it feels like everybody else around it -- including the network and the producers -- feed into this whole sound bite drama. It feels like it lacks substance.”

Cannon added that he believes viewers are tired of the fights.

"I think America in general is tired of seeing the mean judges and people be mean to people. They’re over it,” he said, adding, “In the book of Mariah Carey, 'American Idol' will be a footnote.”

The report adds: “Earlier on KTLA, Cannon speculated on his wife’s Idol future. ‘It’s a time when she has so many amazing things going on in her life, if there’s something unstable -- I think if they get it stable she might re-look [sic] at it, but no one wants to be a part of something unstable,’ he said.”

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Who's the Highest-Paid Media CEO? Here's the Top 10

The highest-paid media CEO of 2012 is a familiar name in the TV business, based on a new report ranking the top media execs. Deadline.com reports that CBS’s Leslie Moonves, who earned $62.2 million last year, tops the list. Moonves’ pay package was 11.1% smaller than in 2011, the report notes..

The biggest jump among the top execs was made by Liberty Media's Greg Maffei, who jumped to No. 2 from No. 28, earning $57.2 million. The piece notes that Liberty “adjusted stock options just in case the feds change the corporate deduction this year for performance-based compensation.”

Overall, the top 20 together earned $542.7 million, a big increase from their total 2011 earnings of $416.6 million, the piece adds.

Another new entrant to the top 10 was Yahoo's Marissa Mayer, who earned $36.6 million.

Below is the list of the 10 highest-paid media CEOs, as compiled by Deadline:

1. Les Moonves, CBS, $62.2 million

2. Greg Maffai, Liberty Media, $57.2 million

3. David Zaslav, Discovery Communications, $49.9 million

4. Bob Iger, Disney, $40.2 million

5. Marissa Mayer, Yahoo, $36.6 million

6. Philippe Dauman, Viacom, $33.5 million

7. Rupert Murdoch, News Corp., $30.0 million

8. Brian Roberts, Comcast, $29.1 million

9. Michael Rapino, Live Nation, $28.5 million

10. Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner, $25.9 million

 

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Will Steve Carell Return for 'Office' Finale? According to One Report, the Verdict Is In

Steve Carell, who portrayed the clueless boss Michael Scott on NBC's "The Office" for seven seasons, will reportedly return for the show's finale, according to TVLine’s Michael Ausiello.

While executive producer Greg Daniels has shot down speculation that Carell would return, the report says that the May 16 finale will indeed include an appearance by the actor.

In denying his return, Daniels told reporters last week, “I think Steve felt, and I agree, that the ‘Goodbye, Michael’ episode was his goodbye and he didn’t want to overshadow the ending that all the other characters deserved," the story says.

Ausiello observes: “Possible translation: Carell’s return won’t overshadow the ending.”

Carell's return will be more of a cameo than a full-on guest appearance, Ausiello writes. It's not known whether actress Amy Ryan, who played Scott's soulmate Holly Flax, will join the finale of the show’s ninth and final season.

A rep for Carell continues to assert that the finale will be “Scott-free,” the piece notes.

The report adds: “On Saturday, Carell surprised thousands of ‘Office’ fans when he joined his former co-stars at a huge ‘wrap party’ held in the real Scranton, Pennsylvania.”

 

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Dr. Phil Sues Gawker Over High-Profile Interview

Phil McGraw's production company has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Gawker Media, claiming "Dr. Phil" suffered ratings losses after Gawker's Deadspin website posted footage of his interview with the man behind the Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood Esq.

The lawsuit filed Monday by McGraw’s Peteski Productions claims that Deadspin posted the juiciest parts of the interview online before it had aired in most "Dr. Phil" markets.

Part one of the two-part interview, broadcast over two days, ended on a cliffhanger, with viewers unsure whether the hoaxster, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, would speak in the female voice he used to allegedly trick Te'o into thinking he was having a relationship with a woman called Lennay Kekua, the story says. In reality, Kekua did not exist.

In the second part of the interview, the hoaxter used the female voice.

According to the lawsuit, Deadspin allegedly stole copyrighted material and posted it online, resulting in lower ratings for the second episode.

Gawker Media didn't immediately respond to requests for comment, the piece adds.

 

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Aereo Mounts Offensive in Legal Battle, Takes Aim at CBS

Aereo is taking the offense in its battle with CBS, asking a Manhattan federal court to rule that its technology doesn't infringe on the broadcaster’s copyrights, reports the New York Post.

The suit also asks the court to bar CBS from suing it in the 22 cities where it's planning to expand its service, the piece adds.

The action comes a few days after CBS chief Leslie Moonves said he's willing to shift the network to cable, a move that he said could be made "in a few days," as previously reported. CBS and other broadcasters had previously sued Aereo for copyright infringement, but have twice failed to get preliminary injunctions to halt Aereo.

About Aereo's pre-emptive lawsuit, a CBS spokesman said, "These public relations and legal maneuvers do not change the fundamentally illegal nature of Aereo’s supposed business."

For its part, Aereo said, “The fact that CBS did not prevail in their efforts to enjoin [us] in their existing federal lawsuit does not entitle them to a do-over in another jurisdiction.”

 

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YouTube Set to Roll Out Subscription Channels

YouTube will start selling paid subscriptions to channels over the next few weeks, in a move to compete with traditional pay-TV packages, reports Bloomberg.

Each channel will be available for $1.99 per month, although prices could vary. The platform will help the Google company generate revenue on top of its current offerings of one-time TV or movie rentals.

The plan comes just days after Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said YouTube had already won in the battle with TV, as previously reported.

The paid channels will offer children's programming, entertainment, music and other topic areas, according to The New York Times. Several dozen will be offered at the start.

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USA Network Plans Aggressive Marketing Push for Its Big Sitcom Acquisition

USA Network is readying the kind of marketing push normally reserved for first-run shows to support its acquisition of reruns of the popular ABC comedy "Modern Family," reports Jeanine Poggi in Advertising Age.

"There's a lot riding on 'Modern Family,' which the network acquired in 2010 after its freshman season on ABC for a reported $1.4 million per episode. It premieres on USA Sept. 24. It will air five nights per week in prime time and serve as a platform for USA to launch its own original comedies," Poggi writes.

The network is planning a 14-week marketing push that includes on-air, digital and on-the-ground promotions, the piece notes.

USA is calling fans of the show "Mofys," a nickname that reminiscent of the network’s calling its "Psych" superfans "Psychos," the piece adds.

The network will use Mofys in TV spots called "Mofy Anonymous" or "Mofy Testimonials," and will search across the country for a real "modern family," the story reports.

Please click here to read Poggi’s detailed report.

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Who Will Run Al Jazeera America? Here's a Look at the Shortlist -- and Why Some Don't Want the Job

Al Jazeera America is looking for someone to run the new U.S. cable news operation, and a number of veteran TV news pros happen to be available. As it turns out, Al Jazeera has reached out to a number of candidates, reports Sharon Waxman at TheWrap.com.

While the position is one of the biggest jobs in media, it carries high risks, she writes.

"The job running the Qatar-based network recently bought from Current TV has high visibility and no doubt a high salary attached,” Waxman writes. “But it also bears the burden of building an audience in mainstream America with the name of a Middle Eastern brand unfamiliar to most U.S. viewers and probably off-putting to some."

Sizing up the field, Waxman notes that one contender is former CNN President Jon Klein, who was fired from CNN in 2010. It's believed he wants the job, the story notes. Waxman writes, "Would it be cool for a Jewish guy to run an Arab-owned news network?"

Another candidate is Steve Capus, the former NBC News president, who reportedly believes Al Jazeera's reputation would be hard to overcome with many Americans.

Former CNN managing editor Mark Whitaker is also a possibility.

No offers have been made yet, the piece adds.

According to Waxman, other candidates on "most shortlists" include former ABC News chief David Westin, although she writes that he's not interested in the role nor is being actively considered, and MSNBC chief Phil Griffin, although he loves his post at the network and wouldn't leave for Al Jazeera, the story notes.

Former Current TV President David Bohrman is out of the running, the piece adds, citing an insider who did not offer additional details. David Doss, former producer of Anderson Cooper's CNN show, wasn't considered "mature" enough, while former CBS News President Andrew Heyward's interest isn't known, the story says.

The only woman on the shortlist, Alexandra Wallace, produces NBC's "Nightly News," but it's not known what her interest is either, the story notes.

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Hacker Group Strikes Again -- and This Time It Targets a Site That Usually Issues Its Own Fake News

Just a day after reports surfaced that a hacker group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army had hacked E! Online, the group struck again, this time hitting the Twitter feed of the parody news organization The Onion.

The Onion had its Twitter feed broken into by the group on Monday, The New York Times reports.

The group posted a number of anti-Israel messages to The Onion's 5 million or so Twitter followers. Another message read, "UN retracts report of Syrian chemical weapon use: Lab tests confirm it is Jihadi body odor.”

Besides E! Online, which we reported yesterday, other media sites that have been hacked by the group include the Associated Press, CBS and NPR.

The Onion deleted the fake posts and posted a satirical article about the event, under the headline, "Onion Twitter Password Changed To OnionMan77: ‘That Ought To Do It,’ Company Sources Confirm.”

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'The Rawest and Most Realistic of All Reality Shows' Moves to Spike TV

Spike TV announced that it is the new television home for a long-running series that the channel defines as “the rawest and most realistic of all reality shows." The show is “Cops,” which moves to Spike from Fox in September with new episodes.

Making the announcement today was Spike TV President Kevin Kay.

Said Kay: “’Cops’ is a remarkable series that has been able to sustain strong ratings well into its third decade, a monumental achievement in television. As we continue to grow and expand our audience, new episodes of ‘Cops,’ with its loyal audience of adults 18-49, is the perfect addition to our prime-time lineup on Saturday nights.”

The series is wrapping up its 25th season in prime time this month. Spike said it will keep the show in its familiar Saturday 8 p.m. ET/PT time slot.

Spike will also have access to some archival material from the “Cops” library.

“Cops” creator John Langley, president of Langley Productions, said: “After 25 seasons with Fox, we are delighted to find our new home with the Spike family, where we previously aired ‘Undercover Stings.’ And we are doubly pleased that our ‘Cops’ time slot remains Saturday nights for our fans. It may be bold to say, but we are looking for yet another record-breaking run with Spike!”

“Cops” premiered March 11, 1989, and has aired more than 900 episodes.

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Video: Helen Mirren, Dressed as the Queen, Emerges From Theater to Yell at Drummers Creating a Ruckus Outside

An agitated Dame Helen Mirren -- dressed as the Queen -- surfaced on a London street to try to get a bunch of drummers to pipe down after they disrupted her performance, the U.K.’s The Telegraph reports.

Mirren told the group to “shut the f**k up,” according to some media reports. The incident was caught on video -- not great video, mind you, as it’s shot from a distance and Mirren can’t be heard.

Mirren “had stormed out of the nearby Gielgud Theatre, where she was playing the Queen, in full costume to demand that the drummers stop disturbing her performance,” the publication reports. “Footage of the incident filmed by comedian Chris Dangerfield [shows] Dame Helen Mirren gesticulating to the drummers and appearing to shout at them.”

The paper adds: “The scene, as described by Dame Helen to The Daily Telegraph, played out on Saturday evening as the noisy band of carnival-style entertainers promoted London’s As One In the Park gay music festival while Dame Helen was on stage in ‘The Audience,’ for which she earned an Olivier Award last week.”

“It was towards the end of the first half, as she was discussing her 1992 ‘annus horribilis’ with John Major, played by Paul Ritter, that the incessant thudding outside became increasingly hard to ignore.”

The video shows Mirren gesturing toward the group, and then the drumming stops.

Said parade organizer Mark McKenzie: “Not much shocks you on the gay scene. But seeing Helen Mirren dressed as the Queen cussing and swearing and making you stop your parade -- that’s a new one.”

The report adds: “Mr. McKenzie claimed that Dame Helen had even given one of the parade promoters a regal tap around the head.”

Said Mirren: “I’m afraid there were a few 'thespian’ words used. They got a very stern royal ticking off but I have to say they were very sweet and they stopped immediately.

“I felt rotten but on the other hand they were destroying our performance so something had to be done.”

Here’s the clip:

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Newsman and Actor, Known for 'Scarface,' 'RoboCop,' 'Rocky III,' Dead at 78

A pioneering TV news anchor who became an actor on TV and in films, including appearances in “Scarface,” the “RoboCop” movies and “Rocky III,” has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Mario Machado was 78.

Machado, who often played journalists on TV and in movies, died Saturday at a convalescent facility in West Hills, Calif., of complications from pneumonia after a battle with Parkinson’s disease, the story reports.

“Machado worked for many years at KCBS-TV, its predecessor KNXT and other local stations, earning eight Emmy Awards along the way,” the story reports. “In the early 1970s, he became one of the first, if not the first, Chinese-American on-air TV news reporters and anchors.”

He made his first credited appearance as an actor in 1969, playing a technician on “Mission” Impossible.” “He also appeared in the 1971 telefilm ‘Brian’s Song,’ the films ‘Oh, God!’ (1977) and ‘St. Elmo’s Fire’ (1985) and in such series as ‘Banacek,’ ‘Wonder Woman,’ ‘Barnaby Jones,’ ‘The Rockford Files,’ ‘Simon & Simon’ and ‘Beverly Hills, 90210,’” the report notes.

Machado also hosted a medical investigation show, “Medix,” which ran for eight seasons beginning in 1967, the piece reports.

“Born April 22, 1935, in Shanghai to a Portuguese father (a consulate official) and a Chinese-Portuguese mother, Machado played Casey Wong in three ‘RoboCop’ films in a parody of TV anchors and portrayed an interviewer in ‘Rocky III’ (1982) and ‘Scarface’ (1983),” the report adds.

mario-machado.jpgMario Machado

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Fox Gets a Bump From NASCAR Rain Delay

Fox’s Sunday night ratings got a lift from Mother Nature, as the rain-delayed NASCAR race in Talladega, Ala., ran into prime time and delivered the network’s best numbers of the night, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that Fox won the night in the key 18-49 demo, helped by a 2.3 average rating for the NASCAR overrun, which filled the first 90-minute segment of prime time. The report notes that the numbers are subject to more than the usual adjustments due to the nature of live programming.

Leading out from NASCAR, Fox’s “The Simpsons” had a 1.7 average rating in viewers 18-49, “Bob’s Burgers” rose to a 2.0 and both “Family Guy” and “American Dad” had 2.1 averages.

CBS’s two-hour finale of “The Amazing Race” also delivered a 2.3 average in 18-49, but that was down one-tenth of a point from the episode a week ago and down four-tenths from the spring finale last year.

Elsewhere on CBS, “60 Minutes” had its lowest average of the season in the 18-49 demo, a 1.2, losing three-tenths from a week ago. “The Mentalist” ticked up one-tenth to a 1.7.

ABC was paced by “Once Upon a Time,” which bounced back from last week’s series low, rising two-tenths to a 2.2. “America’s Funniest Home Videos” slipped one tenth to a 1.5, “Revenge” climbed one-tenth to a 1.8 and “Red Widow” rebounded from last week’s series low, climbing two-tenths to a 0.9.

NBC aired a two-hour repeat of “The Voice” (0.9 average in 18-49), followed by a two-hour “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice,” which lost two-tenths from last week’s demo number, settling for a 1.4 average rating.

For prime time overall, Fox’s 2.1 average led the way in the 18-49 demo, followed by CBS (1.9 average), ABC (1.6) and NBC (1.2). CBS won total viewers, averaging 9.4 million to 5.8 million for Fox, 5.8 million for ABC and 4.0 million for NBC.

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Polarizing Figure Is Named Most Influential Athlete of 2013

An athlete who hasn’t won any professional championships or Olympic medals -- and for that matter, who doesn’t even have a job right now -- has been named the most influential athlete of 2013.

Topping the annual Forbes list is Tim Tebow, who saw little action last season as a backup quarterback with the New York Jets after polarizing fans the previous season -- when he went on an improbable run quarterbacking the Denver Broncos to the playoffs.

Tebow was recently released by the Jets, and his future in the NFL is uncertain.

The Los Angeles Times reports: “The athletes he beat out included three 2012 Olympic gold-medal winners (No. 2 Michael Phelps, No. 3 Usain Bolt, No. 7 Gabby Douglas), three Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks (No. 5 Peyton Manning, No. 6 Drew Brees, No. 8 Aaron Rodgers) and three athletes who have won titles in other pro sports (No. 4 Derek Jeter, No. 9 LeBron James, No. 10 David Beckham).”

The Forbes poll uses Nielsen surveys of U.S. fans and E-Poll Market Research.

“Of course, it should be pointed out that Tebow accomplished quite a bit -- two national titles and a Heisman Trophy at Florida, a playoff win with the Denver Broncos -- before spending the season mostly on the bench with the Jets last year,” the Times reports. “And it's no secret that Tebow is a devout Christian -- and an outspoken one at that. He has a huge following, many of whom could probably care less whether he ever plays in the NFL again.”

tim-tebow.jpgTim Tebow

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Why Dr. Drew Says He's Done with 'Celebrity Rehab'

Dr. Drew Pinsky said he's done with his VH1 program "Celebrity Rehab" because the show is "very stressful and intense for me," reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Pinsky, who spoke on a radio show, made the comments after five former “Celebrity Rehab” cast members have died, the most recent death being country star Mindy McCready earlier this year.

"To have people questioning my motives and taking aim at me because people get sick and die because they have a life-threatening disease, and I take the blame? Rodney King has a heart attack and I take blame for that?” he said.

Others who have died after appearing on the show are Jeff Conaway, Mike Starr and Joey Kovar.

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MSNBC Apologizes for Joe Biden Error

MSNBC has apologized for misusing footage of Vice President Joe Biden in a segment on gun control, reports Deadline.com.

"The Cycle" host Toure made an on-air apology for the network, explaining that it had played a clip of Biden in which the network had explained he was speaking about gun control.

“The vice president was actually speaking about Benghazi. It was a producer error. MSNBC regrets the error," Toure said.

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Charlie Sheen's Ex-Wife Hospitalized

The ex-wife of “Anger Management” star Charlie Sheen has been hospitalized, according to media reports. USA Today reports that Brooke Mueller was in UCLA Medical Center being treated for prescription drug abuse.

TMZ reported that Mueller’s 4-year-old twins with Sheen were taken from her home last week because of what was described as suspected drug use, the report notes. The twins were reportedly staying with Sheen’s other ex-wife, Denise Richards.

USA Today quotes Steve Honig, a rep for Mueller, issuing a statement to clarify the situation. Says Honig: "Despite reports to the contrary, Brooke is currently at UCLA Medical Center where she has been since being admitted May 3. Brooke will be there for several more days, and will likely transition directly into a residential treatment facility to get help for prescription drug abuse."

The report adds that Honig “confirms that Bob and Max are with Richards, adding, ‘Brooke misses her children, and wants to get healthy so she can resume her life and get back to being a mom.’"

Mueller was reportedly in rehab most recently in December, being treated for addiction to Adderall.

Thumbnail image for brooke-mueller.jpgBrooke Mueller

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Verbal Sparring Intensifies Between Donald Trump and Jon Stewart

Hostilities between Donald Trump and "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart flared up when Stewart uttered a throwaway joke at the business mogul's expense on his Wednesday show, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

"By the way, did you know Donald Trump's birth name is F**kface Von Clownstick?" Stewart said. "That's all over Twitter, I hope."

Trump addressed Stewart's insult on Friday, writing on Twitter, "What’s funny about the name ‘F**kface Von Clownstick’ -- it was not coined by Jon Leibowitz -- he stole it from some moron on twitter. If Jon Stewart is so above it all & legit, why did he change his name from Jonathan Leibowitz?"

Trump added, "He should be proud of his heritage! Jon Stewart @TheDailyShow is a total phony -- he should cherish his past -- not run from it."

"The Daily Show’s” Twitter account responded, "Can't an overrated Jew have a complicated relationship with his dad without being accused of hiding his heritage? #FuckFaceVonClownstick," the story adds.

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Billy Crystal Headed Back to TV

Billy Crystal is planning a return to television with a project that he will star in as well as co-write and executive produce along with "Burn Notice" creator Matt Nix, reports Deadline.com.

Larry Charles of "Borat" is directing, co-writing and executive producing, with Fox TV Studios producing. Nix is under an overall deal there.

While details about the premise aren't known, it's thought to be based on a European format and is said to be an edgy comedy.

The project marks a return to TV for Crystal, who appeared in "Soap," his own variety show and "Saturday Night Live" in the 1980s. Since then has worked on movies, although he hosted the Oscars on TV and directed and executive produced the HBO baseball movie "61*," the piece notes.

Thumbnail image for billy-crystal.jpgBilly Crystal

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'Nightline' to Debut Prime-Time Hour

ABC's "Nightline" is set to launch an hourlong prime-time edition later this month. B&C reports that the show will premiere Wednesday, May 29.

The program will have the 10 p.m. time period, and will focus on consumer issues, such as coverage of products and trends and providing ideas for avoiding costly mistakes, the story says.

Cynthia McFadden and Bill Weir will anchor, with other ABC News correspondents joining in. The program will air until the end of summer.

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CNN Host Grilled on His Own Show

A CNN host spent part of Sunday morning getting grilled by his own show after he was let go from his other job. Media critic Howard Kurtz was fired by the Daily Beast after writing an article about NBA player Jason Collins that was criticized as faulty, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Kurtz wrote that when Collins came out as gay, he didn't acknowledge that he had once been engaged to a woman. But Collins had actually talked about his engagement in the piece he wrote for Sports Illustrated.

On his CNN show, "Reliable Sources," Kurtz gave a lengthy apology to Collins, saying he had read the story "too fast" and had missed the section where he wrote about his engagement.

Then Kurtz was grilled by two other media reporters, NPR's David Folkenflik and Politico's Dylan Byers.

Kurtz told the two reporters he "should be held to a higher standard." He added that "sometimes under deadline pressure ... I have not been as careful" as he would have been on a longer article. He said he would "leave it to others to judge if I have taken on too much."

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PBS Working With TED on Special

PBS is working with the non-profit TED, known for its 18-minute-long talks given by intellectual luminaries such as Stephen Hawking and Daniel Pink, on a new education-focused special, reports Elizabeth Jensen in The New York Times.

The one-hour special, "TED Talks Education," is the first TV venture for TED. It will air Tuesday. If it succeeds, more joint projects could come to the public broadcasting airwaves, Jensen writes.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting paid for the program's $1 million in costs. The special, taped in April at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, will be hosted by the singer John Legend.

It will feature teachers, students and educational reform advocates such as Bill Gates. "The focus is on positive changes that speakers advocate. Mixed in are clips of students discussing what excites them in school," Jensen notes.

The show has kept the TED talks to between 5 and 8 minutes, though, since TV viewers generally don't want to sit through 18-minute speeches, the piece adds.

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'Revenge' Names New Showrunner After Shakeup

The ABC drama "Revenge" has named a new showrunner following the departure of Mike Kelley. TheWrap.com reports that the series tapped executive producer and writer Sunil Nayar for the job.

As previously reported, a behind-the-scenes shakeup led to Kelley's departure, with tension on the set leading to what Kelley called a "difficult mutual decision."

Nayar will take on the showrunner role if ABC renews the show for a third season. The role would be part of a new two-year deal Nayar made with ABC Studios, the show's producer, TheWrap reports. Nayar previously has worked on "Body of Proof" and "Three Rivers."

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CBS in Talks to Take Full Control of TVGuide.com

CBS is in talks to take full ownership of TVGuide.com, after being in a 50/50 partnership with Lionsgate since spending $100 million in March to buy the stake previously owned by One Equity Partners, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

"I’ve learned that CBS is in negotiations with Lionsgate about acquiring its half of TVGuide.com," Andreeva writes. "The website had been valued at about $20 million, and I hear CBS is paying a little shy of $10 million for Lionsgate's half of the Web property."

The discussions come after DirecTV had been in exclusive talks to buy TVGuide.com, with those negotiations failing to produce an agreement, Andreeva writes.

CBS wants to include TVGuide.com in its interactive division, which includes TV.com, CNET, CBS.com and other sites.

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Bethenny Frankel's Syndicated Talk Show Gets Premiere Date

Bethenny Frankel's syndicated daily talk show now has a premiere date. Deadline.com reports that the show will debut Sept. 9.

The program, from Warner Bros. and Ellen DeGeneres' company, aired a successful six-week test last summer on several Fox-owned stations, and has been cleared in 98% of the country for next fall, the story adds.

The show also debuted its first promo clip. Here it is:

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E! Twitter Feed Gets Hacked -- Leading to False Reports That Justin Bieber Is Gay and Something About Angelina Jolie and Syria

E! Online said its Twitter feed was hacked, with the culprits sending out false reports Saturday about Justin Bieber and Angelina Jolie, reports the Associated Press.

The Syrian Electronic Army claimed responsibility. The group has taken credit for a number of media attacks, including against the BBC, Al Jazeera English and the U.K.’s The Guardian, as well as the AP.

The report notes that the SEA sees its targets as sympathetic to Syrian rebels. One of the false tweets reportedly announced that Bieber is gay, while others indicated Jolie blames the crisis in Syria on Jordan. The Wall Street Journal has said the SEA supports Syrian President Bashar Assad, the San Francisco Examiner reports.

The same group was reportedly responsible for a false report last week that the White House had been bombed.

E! Online said it's working with Twitter to solve the problem and is investigating.

 

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Variety TV Editor Asks About This Year's Broadcast Network Pilots: 'Where's the Pizzazz??!!'

"As the upfronts approach, it’s hard to scope out pilot pickup buzz at the major broadcast nets this year because there are few clear heat-seekers," writes Variety's Editor-in-Chief for TV, Cynthia Littleton.

Littleton, a veteran on the TV beat, continues, "The big bets of this year’s development crop were made early on in the cycle (last summer and fall) and for the most part have retained their front-runner status: ABC’s 'Marvel’s Agents of Shield' with the Whedon clan; CBS’s redo of 'Beverly Hills Cop'; NBC’s 22-episode throwdown for the Michael J. Fox domestic laffer; Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher in Fox’s cop comedy 'Brooklyn 99'; and the union of David E. Kelley and Robin Williams in CBS’s 'Crazy Ones.' "

The story continues, "The fuzzy picture for next season’s series pickups will clear up a little this week as the broadcast nets begin their formal pilot screenings. Here’s hoping there is more sizzle on the screen than there seems to be at this stage. The nets need some flash after a ho-hum 2012-13 season."

Littleton notes, "Some of the most creative ideas have come in the form of nontraditional casting decisions. 'Office' alum [Rainn] Wilson is set for a dramatic turn as a misanthropic homicide detective in CBS’s 'Backstrom' (it’s got a Swedish pedigree so ’nuff said), especially with Dennis Haysbert along for the ride. Christopher Meloni is leaving the serious law-and-order biz for a sitcom turn in Fox’s father-son laffer 'I Suck at Girls,' which has good buzz. Wendell Pierce of 'The Wire' and 'Treme' is lending his mellifluous baritone to the Michael J. Fox sitcom (he’ll have to watch his language on broadcast TV).

To read more of Littleton's perceptive observations about this pilot season, please click on the link in the first paragraph and read her entire piece.

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On the Eve of the Upfront Season, USA Network to Broaden Program Strategy

"For most of the past decade the USA Network has lived by the mantra 'blue skies,' which has translated into programming a string of upbeat hourlong drama hits, like 'Burn Notice' and 'Royal Pains," writes our good friend Bill Carter in The New York Times. 

Carter continues, "That strategy has paid off, with USA ranking as the most-watched entertainment network on cable for eight straight years. So why is the network going to make a new pitch to advertisers on May 16 that emphasizes areas previously little explored by USA, like situation comedy and reality shows?"

Part of the reason, Carter notes, is that starting this fall USA Network has the syndication rights to the hit sitcom "Modern Family."

Carter adds, "But the network’s top program executives also acknowledge that in order to grow, and to maintain the top position in a competitive cable environment, it is time to branch out into new programming directions.

"At its advertiser [Upfront] presentation next week, USA is expected to announce that it has ordered its first two original sitcoms, as well as several new reality shows, and a new drama that breaks with the USA tradition by taking a bit of a walk on the dark side."

We urge you to click on the link in the first paragraph above to read more of Carter's insightul article about USA Network's upcoming strategy and how the network plans to pull it off tactically.

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Slayer Guitarist Jeff Hanneman Dies at 49; Spider Bite Might Be Related to His Death. Flesh-Eating Disease?

"Jeff Hanneman, 49, a founding member of Slayer whose career was irrevocably changed after a spider bite, has died," the Associated Press reports

The story continues, "Slayer spokeswoman Heidi Robinson-Fitzgerald said Hanneman died Thursday morning of liver failure at a Los Angeles hospital with his wife, Kathy, by his side."

The story adds, "The guitarist had recently begun writing songs with the band in anticipation of recording a new album later this year. He had been slowly recovering from what was believed to be a spider bite that nearly cost him his arm after he failed to seek immediate treatment."

The article also says "Robinson-Fitzgerald said it's believed the spider bite contributed to the failure of Hanneman's liver, but it is unclear whether an autopsy will be scheduled. No funeral arrangements have been made."

A CNN story about the death of the Grammy-winning heavy metal guitarist says: "Though there was no official word from a physician or medical professional about Hanneman's death, several news outlets reported what Hanneman's band said in a statement Friday -- that the rocker's death was connected to a spider bite that he suffered at least more than a year ago.

"On the band's website, a statement read that in January Hanneman 'had contracted necrotizing fasciitis likely caused by a spider bite, and has been undergoing surgeries, skin grafts and intense rehab since.' "

Necrotizing fasciitis has long been commonly known as the flesh-eating disease.

Jeff Hanneman Slayer.bmp

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Cable Vet Bill Hilary Hooks Up With Superstar in Her New Cable Venture

Veteran cable TV executive Bill Hilary has hooked up with a superstar to lend programming muscle to her new cable venture.

The announcement, made today, May 3, 2013, reads: "NUVOtv, the first and only English-language cable network for U.S. Latinos, today announced that cable veteran Bill Hilary has joined the network as Head of Programming. Hilary will oversee all aspects of the network’s programming, including development, production, acquisitions and scheduling. Hilary will be based in Los Angeles and report to Michael Schwimmer, CEO of NUVOtv."

The announcement adds, "Hilary will work closely with the network’s new creative and business partner, Jennifer Lopez, and her television production company, Nuyorican Productions. In the fall of 2012, NUVOtv announced a landmark partnership with superstar performer and celebrity icon, Jennifer Lopez. Hilary is the first senior executive hire to be announced as part of the network’s expanding management team."

The announcement also notes, "Hilary immediately augmented his team by appointing Lynnette Ramirez as Vice President of Programming. A long-time programming executive, Ramirez was most recently Senior Vice President - Development with George Lopez Presents, the television production company of actor and comedian George Lopez. Ramirez will report to Hilary, as will Vice President of Programming Sara Auspitz, formerly of Endemol and Turner’s TBS network."

Said Lopez, according to the announcement, "“At NUVOtv, our goal is to become the premiere Modern Latino entertainment destination. I’m very pleased to be working with Bill as a creative partner who shares our vision to build NUVOtv into the leading network in America for English-speaking Latinos.”

The announcement also notes, "Prior to joining NUVOtv, Hilary was Chief Operating Officer at World Television Productions International and before then, President of Magna Global Entertainment, Interpublic Group. Hilary’s 20 plus years of television experience also includes his roles as Chief Executive Officer of BBC America and Executive Vice President and General Manager of Comedy Central...."

"NUVOtv is currently available in more than 31 million homes nationwide with major distribution partners being AT&T U-verse, Comcast, Cox, Dish Network and Verizon FIOS," the announcement says, adding, "The network is available in the top 15 Hispanic DMAs and in most major US markets including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago and New York."

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Disney Channel Star Signs to Be in Upcoming Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore Comedy Feature

One of the rising stars of the Disney Channel will appear in an upcoming Warner Bros. comedy with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, reports Deadline.com.

Ths star is Bella Thorne, who is featured in the hit Disney Channel sitcom "Shake It Up."

Sandler and Barrymore also starred in the hit "50 First Dates," which was the 15th highest-grossing movie of 2004.

According to Deadline, the new movie, "Blended," "revolves around the parties to a particularly lousy blind date who -- each with their kids from a previous marriage -- find themselves stuck together in a resort for families. Despite everything they can do to resist, the attraction grows between the two, and their kids benefit from the burgeoning relationship."

Thorne will play Sandler's daughter.

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Today's Most Intriguing Non-TV Related Headline Comes From Bloomberg: 'The Lawsuit That Could Bring Down the NCAA'

Today's most intriguing non-TV related headline is this one from a Bloomberg story: 'The Lawsuit That Could Bring Down the NCAA.'

The piece is by Bloomberg View columnist Jonathan Mahler, who writes, "The storm that’s slowly rolling toward Indianapolis quietly gained strength this week with the filing of several devastating documents in a federal court in California. If it stays on course, it’s going to hit with biblical force, reducing the National Collegiate Athletic Association to a heap of rubble.

"This storm is also known as O’Bannon v. NCAA. It’s an antitrust lawsuit filed in 2009 by former UCLA All-American basketball player Ed O’Bannon and a handful of other ex-college athletes, who don’t think the NCAA should be profiting from their names and images without sharing the royalty payments."

The article continues, "In their latest filing, O’Bannon’s lawyers argue that the case deserves class-action status. If their request is granted, the NCAA would be liable for claims brought not just by the plaintiffs but also by all former athletes. Anyone who has ever played a Division I college sport would instantly be suing for damages for every instance in which his or her image was used in a video game, highlight reel, broadcast or rebroadcast.

"That could get pretty expensive for the NCAA. But if the case were just about a few billion dollars, the association would have settled by now. It hasn’t because O’Bannon and his lawyers are also asking for something else: They want all current and future college athletes to be able to make licensing deals of their own. It’s short yardage from there to the NCAA’s doomsday scenario: schools bidding for the services of student- athletes."

To read even more about this very intriguing case, we urge you to click on the link in the first paragraph, above, to read the entire article.

 

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Aereo Says Networks Are Bluffing About Moving to Cable

The CEO of TV-streaming service Aereo told Bloomberg that threats from networks including CBS and Fox to switch to cable are merely a bluff.

Lower advertising revenue and pressure from lawmakers would make it extremely difficult for the networks to move forward on the threat, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia said.

“The reality is they want to get paid twice, and Aereo is just an excuse to articulate that business strategy,” Kanojia said. “Good luck to them.”

Kanojia was referring to the networks' two biggest sources of revenue: advertising and retransmission fees.

A CBS spokesman said the network disagrees with his assertion that the broadcasters would stand to lose billions in ad revenue if they switched to cable.

"More than 85 percent of our viewers already receive their signal” from a pay-TV service, spokesman Chris Ender said. “CBS could serve the remaining 15 percent in a variety of legitimate ways. We don’t believe it’s going to come to that in any event.”

A spokesman for Fox declined to comment.

“I have a hard time believing lawmakers are going to be OK with them taking away all the valuable programming,” Kanojia said. “You’re telling millions of people they’re not going to have access to sports?”

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New Showrunner for 'Cougar Town'

"Cougar Town" has promoted writer and producer Blake McCormick to showrunner, replacing Ric Swartzlander, who ran the show last season, reports Deadline.com.

The show's creator, Bill Lawrence, left "Cougar Town" after its third season to shift into his overall deal at Warner Bros. TV, but ended up working on the show during its fourth season because he didn't have a series on TV, the story notes.

But with the upcoming fifth season, that's unlikely since Lawrence has three pilots in contention, "Undateable" at NBC, "I Suck at Girls" at Fox and "Ground Floor" at TBS.

McCormick, who previously served as a co-producer on Fox's "King of the Hill," has worked on "Cougar Town" for the past three seasons.

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MTV Orders Dating Series

MTV has given a series order to a new dating show. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the cable network gave a 20-episode order to "Girl, Get Your Mind Right!," which will feature dating expert Tionna Smalls providing relationship advice to young women.

The show will debut May 20 at 6 p.m. and run Monday to Thursday for five weeks, the story says. The half-hour show also has a hidden-camera element.

The order is part of MTV's return to the dating genre, after it also picked up "The Hookup," a dating series hosted by Andrew Schulz, which is also slated to air as an afternoon strip, the story notes.

"For a long time dating shows were a real big part of our programming slate and we've kind of fallen away from that recently," Tony DiBari, senior vice president of series development at MTV, told the publication. "It remains something that's important to our viewers, and also because dating has changed so much recently that it feels like the right time to get back into that space."

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BBC America Renews Its Second Original Scripted Series

BBC America has renewed its second original scripted series. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel is bringing back "Orphan Black" for a second season.

That means the network has gone two-for-two, as it also renewed its first original drama, "Copper," for a second season.

"Orphan Black" will return in 2014. The renewal comes a few weeks before the series airs its first-season finale June 1, the piece adds.

The show is about Sarah, an outsider and orphan who witnesses the suicide of a woman who looks exactly like her. She decides to take the woman's identity, her bank account and her boyfriend, but it opens her life up to more mysteries.

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Previously Canceled Show Gets Return Date

A series that was canceled earlier this year only to get a reprieve and be given another season now has a return date for that season. The series is "Drop Dead Diva," which is being brought back by Lifetime, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The show will return June 23, with 13 episodes planned for its fifth season. The season will start with an episode aptly called "Back From the Dead."

The storyline will pick up from last season's cliff hanger, when Jane searches for her missing fiance, who disappeared after seeing her kiss another man, the story says.

The dramedy is about a shallow model whose soul ends up inhabiting the body of a brilliant plus-sized attorney. Lifetime canceled “Diva” on Jan. 15, but then inked a deal with the show’s producer, Sony Pictures TV, and announced six weeks after the cancellation that the show would be back for season five.

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Video: 'Unbelievably Entertaining' Police Dash Cam Clip of Reese Witherspoon's Arrest

A video of actress Reese Witherspoon's arrest has hit the Internet, and it's not likely to be a performance she's proud of.

In the video, released by TMZ, the actress is seen getting "in the officer's face ... and annoyed him to the point that he arrested her for disorderly conduct," TMZ.com reports. The website describes the clip as an “unbelievably entertaining dash cam video.”

Some of the dialogue has been reported previously, but the latest report also says that Witherspoon claimed to be pregnant and needed to pee. At one point, her husband, Jim Toth, apologized to the arresting police officer about Witherspoon, telling him, "I'm sorry, I had nothing to do with that!"

Witherspoon later said on "Good Morning America" that she panicked and said "crazy things" because her husband was being arrested for DUI.

TMZ reports: “Reese -- who since admitted she was hammered at the time -- decided to butt in during the arrest ... and the officer obviously wasn't having it and cartoonishly enforced the law with a vengeance.”

Here’s the clip:

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HBO Making a Pilot With 'The Rock'

HBO is slated to make a half-hour dramedy pilot with Dwayne Johnson, also known as The Rock, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Johnson will star in and executive produce the pilot, with Mark Wahlberg and Steve Levinson also serving as executive producers. The untitled project is about retired athletes living in Miami, the piece adds.

Peter Berg of "Friday Night Lights" has been tapped to direct.

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One Cable Channel Is Up While Another Is Seeing Steep Audience Losses at Scripps Networks

Scripps Networks Interactive has seen steep audience losses at one network and significant gains at another, perhaps indicating how the audience’s appetite is changing.

The steep losses have been at Scripps’ Food Network, reports the New York Post. Food Network lost 17% of its audience during the 12 months through April 30, with the average prime-time show on the network slipping to 1.06 million viewers.

Meanwhile, sister network HGTV grew its audience by 10%, drawing about 1.24 million viewers during prime time. “America seems to like HGTV’s handy hunks, like those on ‘Cousins on Call,’ hosted by Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri,” the story reports.

It appears that home improvement remains a draw, while the audience appetite for food shows like Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” is falling off, the piece notes.

Despite the ratings problems with Food Network, revenue at the channel rose 5% to $208.3 million. That made it Scripps' biggest revenue source, the story says.

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Al Jazeera Opening First U.S. News Bureaus, and the Locations May Surprise You

Al Jazeera America, the cable news network that is being made from Current TV, is opening its first U.S. news bureaus, and the channel’s initial list of sites includes places without many competitors, reports TVNewser.

An unofficial list of 12 potential bureaus surfaced, with the list including Detroit and Chicago, the story notes.

The thinking behind those locations may be that it will allow Al Jazeera America to differentiate itself from other cable news networks, such as CNN and MSNBC. "The American auto business is still based in Detroit, and that seems to be the impetus behind having a bureau there," TVNewser notes.

According to Politico, Al Jazeera’s list of bureau locations also includes more obvious choices such as Los Angeles, New York and Washington, along with smaller cities such as Denver and Nashville.

Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, New Orleans and Dallas are also on the list.

An Al Jazeera spokesman refused to confirm the list, noting that no leases have been signed.

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Matt Lauer Says He's 'Not a guy who complains'

"Today" co-host Matt Lauer, who has been widely blamed for last year's ouster of his former co-host Ann Curry, appeared on "The Tonight Show" and told Jay Leno that he's "not a guy who complains," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

When Leno asked Lauer how he has been holding up, Lauer put a positive spin on the criticism he's been receiving, the story says.

"It’s been an interesting year, no question about it,” Lauer said. “But the fact of the matter is every day millions of people still invite us into their homes to deliver the news. I am not a guy who complains. ... I love this job. I really do.”

Lauer also talked about how Kathie Lee Gifford came to his defense. Here’s the clip:

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Netflix 'Streamageddon'? Turns Out It Wasn't So Bad

The so-called "streamageddon" at Netflix, when the service lost hundreds of titles from its library, turned out to be not such a big deal after all, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The "great 'Netflix purge' of 2013 was wildly exaggerated," the story says.

The panic started when a site that monitors which TV shows and movies are available for streaming noted that 1,794 titles would disappear May 1 from Netflix. The story was picked up by other news sites, such as CNN Money.

"Netflix did lose about 1,000 titles -- not the higher number that has been bouncing around Internet blogs -- because the titles fell out of availability to on-demand services. At the same time, it added 500 titles, including 'Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol,' 'The Hunger Games' and 'Captain America: The First Avenger,'" the story notes.

The reason was the business structure of the pay television release "window," which means that movies regularly shift in and out of availability for streaming, the story notes.

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Minaj Takes Shots at Carey in 'Idol's' Clash of the Divas

Nicki Minaj has landed some verbal blows against rival diva Mariah Carey as the sparring between the two “American Idol” judges continues.

In an exchange of tweets with entertainment blogger Perez Hilton, Minaj called Carey “insecure” and “bitter,” USA Today reports.

The report credits Hilton with stirring things up.

“On Wednesday's ‘Idol,’ upon critiquing a contestant's performance, Carey made a jab in Minaj's direction, saying: ‘Again, back to the Billboard Hot 100, No. 1 song, which you just performed -- which is difficult to get; not everybody has that,’" the story reports, adding: “Here's where Hilton comes in: responding to a Thursday morning post on his gossip website which declared ‘Mariah Carey BURNS Nicki Minaj on “Idol,”' Minaj tweeted to Hilton, ‘Bwaha! Burn? Shes sad i tied her record for Hot 100 entries in only 3 years of being in the game. Yep, a black female rapper @perezhilton.’"

Minaj later followed up with another tweet to Hilton, the story reports, with Minaj writing: "What u SHOULD be doing (wit your messy [expletive]) is asking why a woman SO successful at her age, is still so INSECURE, and bitter @perezhilton."

The report adds that Minaj also addressed rumors that the Fox singing competition is trying to lure Jennifer Lopez back to the judging panel. Minaj reportedly tweeted: "All dem #1s but JLo phone ringin? Lol. I guess having a personality, being a secure woman, and giving genuine critique still trumps that."

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Executive Who Has Led Cable Network (That's in 90 Million Homes) for the Past 6 Years is Leaving

The executive who has run a cable network that's in more than 90 million homes is leaving after 6 years leading the network.

Writes our friend Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com, "Marc Juris, who has led Turner Broadcasting’s TruTV as EVP and COO, is leaving. The exact timing of his departure is unclear; his current contract is up at the end of the year. Turner Entertainment Networks president Steve Koonin just announced Juris’ exit in a company memo."

That memo reads, according to Andreeva, "Today the company is announcing the departure of our colleague Marc Juris. As executive vice president and chief operating officer of truTV, Marc has provided valuable leadership, especially through the network’s rebranding and subsequent audience growth.

"I have already begun the process of evaluating truTV’s current and future leadership needs so that we can choose the right executive to lead the network.

"We are extremely grateful to Marc for his many contributions to our business, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

Steve Koonin"

Koonin is Turner Entertainment Networks president.

The article adds that TruTV recently hit a ratings record with the network’s flagship series, 'Hardcore Pawn.'

The story also notes that "But for the most recent month of April, truTV averaged 874,000 viewers, down 8% from last year. In 18-49, it posted 405,000, down 18%. The network also has faced accusations that many of its unscripted shows are staged/scripted."

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Potential Game Changer: Time Warner Cable CEO Says If Aereo Ultimately Passes Legal Muster the MSO May Use 'Similar' Technology To Deliver Broadcast Signals to Its Cable Subs. Billions of Dollars in Retrans Fees Could be at Stake

Glenn Britt, Time Warner Cable's chairman and CEO, "said his company may consider capturing television content from public airwaves and delivering them to customers over an Internet connection, a practice that has shaken the entertainment industry.," reports Cecilia Kang in the Washington Post.

Billions of dollars in retransmission fees could be at stake.

The story continues, "The idea was pioneered by a Web start-up called Aereo, whose business model sparked lawsuits from all of the nation’s broadcasters, including NBC, CBS, Fox and ABC. Their complaints in courts have failed" thus far.

The article adds, "The entry of Time Warner Cable into Aereo’s space would be a game changer, with broad implications for how television is created and delivered to households. Unlike Aereo, which serves only two markets, Time Warner is the country’s second-largest cable company and has broad influence over how TV content is delivered into millions of living rooms."

The piece then quotes Time Warner Cable chief Britt: " 'What Aereo is doing to bring broadcast signals to its customers is interesting,' Time Warner Cable chief executive Glenn Britt said in an interview. 'If it is found legal, we could conceivably use similar technology."

Currently cable operators pay big bucks in retransmission fees to broadcasters. Analsyts at SNL Kagan have predicted that by 2017 retrans fees could hit close to $5 billion.

To read more about Britt's interest in what Aereo is doing, we suggest you click on the link in the first paragraph, above, to read Kang's entire insightful article.

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Moonves Signals Aggressive Upfront Goals for CBS

CBS’s sales team will go after the highest possible CPM increases in the upcoming upfront market, CBS Corp. President and CEO Les Moonves told investors Wednesday, Adweek reports. Moonves commented during the company’s first-quarter earnings report.

Moonves said CBS has its sights set on rate increases in the "high-single to low-double-digit" range.

"’And there you have it, the numbers you have been waiting for,’ Moonves cracked, a nod to how anxious analysts have been to hear him thump his chest in time-honored fashion,” the report notes.

Moonves said, “Pricing increases will look very similar to last year,” when CBS secured 9% CPM hikes and booked about $2.65 billion in advance commitments, the piece notes, adding: “Moonves earlier that spring had agitated for hikes of 10% or greater.”

The story reports: “While Moonves' bluster was a return to form -- in February, he joked that his sales department would murder him if he were to make another outsized prediction -- it flies in the face of what media buyers have been saying in recent weeks. Suggesting that demand for broadcast inventory has reached its apogee, many senior TV buyers are saying that they are unlikely to write CPM premiums in excess of 6%.”

The report adds: “Wall Street watchers are following the agencies' lead. Barclays media analyst Anthony DiClemente said he sees similar pricing patterns, noting that CPMs in aggregate are likely to increase by 6%. DiClemente added that he believes that ratings king CBS will continue to outperform, booking 6.5% rate increases, while boosting dollar volume 10.5% to $2.93 billion.”

CBS is in a strong position relative to its broadcast rivals. “It not only beats all comers in reach, averaging 12 million viewers per night, but it also has the crucial 18-49 and 25-54 demos all wrapped up,” the piece notes.

“Thanks in large part to the estimated $263 million in Super Bowl XLVII ad bookings, CBS saw Q1 ad sales revenue jump 8% versus the prior-year period. The company said scatter rates are now up in the double digits,” the story reports. “Net earnings came in at $463 million, up 22% from $394 million a year ago.”

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Only a Handful of Shows Are Defying This Season's Ratings Skid -- and Most of Them Have One Thing in Common

With a brutal season for broadcast ratings winding down, analysts are examining the results to try to find meaning -- and at least one analysis came up with an interesting trend.

TheWrap.com reports that while newer shows have generally failed to gain a foothold, older shows, from NBC's "Sunday Night Football" to ABC's "The Bachelor," are among the season’s few bright spots.

“TheWrap looked at the top 30 shows on broadcast television as of last week, and found that only seven of them have gained in the key 18-49 demographic since last season,” the publication reports. “Six of the seven debuted in 2007 or earlier. The other is CBS's sophomore ‘Person of Interest.’"

Only two of the season’s roughly three dozen new shows, the report notes, have made it into the top 30 -- NBC's "Revolution" and Fox's "The Following.”

“The lack of new hits makes the networks' job harder as they try to promote their new slates to advertisers at the upfront presentations just half a month away,” the piece reports. “They have to make the case that their new shows will thrive -- despite the shortage of hits among the shows they unveiled this time last year. The absence of sparkly newcomers also makes the networks more reliant on their rising veterans.”

By network, TheWrap breaks down these seven shows that have posted gains:

NBC: "’Sunday Night Football’ and its pre-kickoff show, which debuted in 2006, are both up slightly.”

ABC: "’The Bachelor,’ which debuted in 2002, had the biggest gain over last season -- 13%. ‘Grey's Anatomy’ is also up, but made much smaller gains. It debuted in 2005.”

CBS: "’Big Bang Theory,’ which premiered in 2007, is up 11%. The ‘Big Bang’ gain makes it the top-rated scripted show on broadcast television. ‘NCIS,’ which debuted in 2003, and last year's ‘Person of Interest’ are also up somewhat.

Fox, ABC and NBC have all seen declines in total viewers and the key 18-49 demo, the piece notes, while CBS is flat in 18-49 and up slightly in total viewers.

“The ‘Big Bang’ gain comes at the expense of its Thursday rival, ‘American Idol.’” the report notes. “The Fox singing competition, TV's top show for eight years, is down 21% on Thursday nights and 25% on Wednesdays.”

CBS continues in its perennial leadership position in total viewers, but this year -- in part because of the declines for Fox’s “Idol” -- CBS has also moved ahead of Fox into the No. 1 spot in the demo.

“The networks' overall slide comes as cable and online shows are making big gains. AMC's ‘The Walking Dead’ is now the top-rated drama of the season, and may beat out ‘Big Bang’ as the top-rated scripted show overall,” TheWrap reports. “Meanwhile, Netflix is making inroads with the drama ‘House of Cards’ and the horror series ‘Hemlock Grove,’ both of which viewers can watch anytime online. New episodes of ‘Arrested Development’ are due at the end of May.”

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All-Time Lows Across the Board for CBS Prime-Time Lineup; ABC Has Its Worst Comedy Premiere Ever

CBS’s entire prime-time lineup sank to series lows Wednesday night in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “Survivor,” “Criminal Minds” and “CSI” all fell to all-time lows in the demo.

“Survivor” kicked off prime time with a 2.3 average in viewers 18-49, losing 21% from last week. “Criminal Minds” also delivered a 2.3, also slipping 21% from its previous original. Finally, “CSI” sank to a 1.8, off 25% from its previous original.

CBS still had enough for a second-place finish for prime time overall, behind Fox, which had its own ratings problems. Fox’s two-hour “American Idol” lost 15% from a week ago, settling for a 2.8 average in 18-49, an all-time low for a Wednesday installment of the series.

The top show of the night was ABC’s “Modern Family,” which dipped 8% from its previous original episode to a 3.5 average in the 18-49 demo. The bad news for ABC was a weak series premiere for its new comedy “Family Tools,” which managed only a 1.5. That made it ABC’s lowest-rated comedy premiere ever, and was 26% below the time slot premiere of “The Neighbors” back in October.

ABC’s “The Middle” held its own with a 2.0 in 18-49, equaling its previous original, while “How to Live With Your Parents” was one of only a few broadcast programs to see an increase, surging 47% from last week to a 1.5. “Nashville” dipped 6% from its previous original to a 1.7 rating.

Fourth-place NBC squeezed a 1.6 average out of a clip show for “The Voice” in viewers 18-49, a 19% improvement on what “Dateline” delivered last week in the time slot. “Law & Order: SVU” slumped 21% to a 1.5, while “Chicago Fire” climbed 6% from its previous original to a 1.7.

For prime time overall, Fox’s 2.8 average led the way in the 18-49 demo, followed by CBS (2.2 average), ABC (2.1) and NBC (1.6), which beat out Univision (1.4). Fox led total viewers with 11.1 million to CBS’s 9.4 million, ABC’s 6.6 million, NBC’s 5.9 million and Univision’s 3.4 million.

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CNN Host Fired From His Online Job for 'Sloppy Reporting' on Jason Collins Story

A media critic and reporter who hosts a CNN show was fired today from his other job over what’s being called “sloppy reporting on pro basketball player Jason Collins’ coming out,” Deadline.com reports.

Howard Kurtz, who hosts “Reliable Sources” on CNN, got the boot from his reporting job with the Daily Beast, the piece reports.

Daily Beast Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown tweeted: “@TheDailyBeast & @HowardKurtz have parted company… We wish him well.”

“At issue was that Kurtz reported wrongly that Collins hadn’t made public he was once engaged to a woman -- when he had,” Deadline reports. “This didn’t seem to rise to the level of a firing offense.”

But it may have just been the last straw. Kurtz reportedly tweeted: “This was in the works for some time… But as we began to move in different directions, both sides agreed it was best to part company.”

Kurtz was the longtime media critic for The Washington Post until taking a buyout in 2010, the report notes. It adds: “He has done double duty [with] the CNN media show since 1988. In the past Kurtz has come in for criticism for writing about CNN and hosting the show.”

Kurtz’s job at CNN is reportedly safe at this time, the piece notes.

howard-kurtz.jpgHoward Kurtz

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CBS Leads Daytime Emmy Nominations

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced the nominees for the 40th Annual Daytime Entertainment Emmy Awards, with CBS leading all networks with 49 nods.

PBS snared 44 nominations, followed by ABC with 38, Nickelodeon with 36 and NBC with 25. Syndicated programming received 37 nods.

Among individual programs, “The Young and the Restless” leads the way with 23 nominations, followed by “General Hospital” with 19, “Sesame Street” and “Days of Our Lives” with 17 apiece, “The Bold and the Beautiful” with 15 and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” with 10.

The Daytime Entertainment Emmy Awards will be presented Sunday, June 16, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, and will be televised live on HLN.

In addition, the Daytime Entertainment Creative Arts Emmy Awards Gala will be held at the Westin Bonaventure in downtown Los Angeles on Friday, June 14.

Game Show icon Monty Hall and legendary producer Bob Stewart will receive Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Click here to see the full list of nominees and the press release from NATAS.

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NBC Shakes Up Late-Night Oversight

NBC is shaking things up a bit in its executive ranks in an adjustment to oversight of late-night. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the network is adding to NBC Broadcasting Chairman Ted Harbert's responsibilities, giving him oversight of NBC’s late-night programming.

Late-night, however, will still report to current reality and late-night boss Paul Telegdy, while Harbert reports directly to NBCUniversal Chairman Steve Burke. Telegdy, who’s based in Burbank, reports to NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt.

"Harbert's role is said to involve daily oversight of 'The Tonight Show' and 'Late Night,' both of which are expected to tape in New York beginning next spring," the story says.

NBC wasn’t commenting on the moves, the piece notes.

The report adds: “According to an informed source, Telegdy -- whose title is president, alternative and late-night programming -- recently flew to New York to lobby for continued sole oversight of the late-night schedule. But with all of that programming now originating in New York, Harbert clearly will be a major player in his expanded role.”

Harbert has reportedly been wanting for some time to expand his responsibilities.

“According to sources, Telegdy had opposed the decision to shift Jay Leno out of his ‘Tonight’ perch,” the story reports. “They also say that it was Harbert, rather than Telegdy, who initially was tasked with effecting the transition to Jimmy Fallon, though ultimately it was Burke who flew to Los Angeles in March to convince Leno that the time had come for change.”

ted-harbert2.jpgTed Harbert

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TV Fixture Throws Her Hat in the Daytime Talk Ring

A familiar TV personality is getting into the daytime talk game with a syndicated show in the works for a possible fall 2014 debut. Deadline.com reports that “Today” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” veteran Meredith Vieira is working on a pilot with NBCUniversal Domestic TV Distribution.

Vieira started talking with NBCUniversal about the project soon after she said in January that she would be leaving the syndicated game show "Millionaire,” the piece notes.

Her talk show would likely be "lighter and more entertaining" than shows from her "Today" predecessors Katie Couric and Jane Pauley, the story adds.

The NBC station group hasn't yet signed on for a new show to replace "Jeff Probst," which has been canceled, so the stations could air temporary programming until Vieira's show is ready.

 

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Discovery Producer, Bitten by a Venomous Snake, Releases What Some Are Calling 'The Grossest Picture on the Internet.' Here It Is -- If You Have the Stomach for It

Steve Rankin, a producer on the Discovery show "Naked and Afraid," released what is being described as "the grossest picture on the Internet" after he was bitten by a venomous snake, which caused his flesh to rot to the bone, reports TMZ.com.

The good news is that Rankin survived the snake bite and he tells TMZ that he's recovering after receiving skin grafts in Los Angeles. "Naked and Afraid" is slated to debut this summer, and will feature two complete strangers -- a man and a woman -- meeting for the first time while naked and in the wilderness.

"I was scouting locations in Costa Rica. ... As I was traversing through some deep jungle I was bitten on the foot by a fer-de-lance. It's one of the deadliest snakes in the world and the fangs went right through my boot," Rankin told the publication.

His team carried him for two miles on a makeshift stretcher, then got him to a helipad, where he was airlifted to a hospital in San Jose, which gave him antivenom and antibiotics.

"About 5 days later the flesh in my foot had started to rot," he said. Surgeons in Costa Rica had to cut some of his foot away, and then he was moved to Los Angeles for the skin grafts.

Please, be forewarned: The photo, which shows the damage to Rankin's foot before the skin grafts, is stomach-churning. If you must look at it, please click here.

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YouTube Chief Says the Battle With TV Is Already Over -- and TV Lost

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt declared that victory by YouTube over television has “already happened,” The Huffington Post reports. Schmidt, whose company owns YouTube, spoke during a presentation by Google to advertisers Wednesday in New York.

“Schmidt said, ‘The future is now’ for YouTube, which recently passed the milestone of 1 billion unique visitors every month. But he added with the Third World in mind, if you think that's a large number, ‘Wait until you get to 6 (billion) or 7 billion.’” the story reports.

The report adds: “Schmidt and YouTube, which billed the event as a ‘brandcast,’ shifted away from the video platform's relationship to TV. A year ago, YouTube seemed to have its sights set on reinventing television by funding the launch of more than 100 channels from well-known media brands and Hollywood personalities. But that initiative went unmentioned at Wednesday's presentation.”

The event was part of a week of “NewFronts,” the digital media equivalent of television’s upfront presentations to advertisers. “Though the model for the evening was TV, YouTube used it to distinguish itself as something entirely different,” the piece reports.

Said Schmidt: "It's not a replacement for something that we know. It's a new thing that we have to think about, to program, to curate and build new platforms."

Robert Kyncl, global head of content for YouTube, echoed Schmidt’s sentiment, saying: "I thought that YouTube was like TV, but it isn't. I was wrong. TV is one-way. YouTube talks back."

He added: "TV means reach. YouTube means engagement."

Some comparisons were made between YouTube and TV, including YouTube’s touting the fact that more users 18-34 watch YouTube than any cable network.

“Though companies like Yahoo and AOL have used their NewFront presentations to announce new slates of original programming, YouTube made no programming announcements Wednesday night,” the report notes. “YouTube celebrated DreamWorks Animation's purchase Wednesday of the teen-focused YouTube network Awesomeness TV for $33 million.”

DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg joined the festivities, and commented: "This is a whole new form of content, content delivery and content consumption. It's the medium of the future and the future has already arrived."

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In 1972, 'The Waltons' Premiered, 'The Godfather' Debuted in Theaters -- and This Media Mogul Allegedly Failed to Pay Some Taxes

1972 was a big year for media, with the premiere of "The Waltons" on CBS and the debut of "The Godfather" in movie theaters. On top of that, according to the IRS, media mogul Sumner Redstone made a taxable gift to his kids and failed to file a return. Now the tax agency is collecting, reports the New York Post.

The Internal Revenue Service informed the 89-year-old Redstone, the executive chairman of Viacom, that he owes $1.1 million in taxes and penalties (including interest) because of a gift of stock to his son and daughter, the story notes. The stock was in the family's National Amusements theater chain and came after the settlement of a family lawsuit.

“I can’t remember ever hearing of anybody going back 41 years to raise an issue. It’s really unprecedented in my experience," Richard Behrendt, a former IRS estate and gift tax auditor who is now director of estate planning at Robert W. Baird & Co., told the Post.

Redstone is arguing that what the IRS claims was a taxable gift was an "ordinary business transaction" because of the lawsuit. He filed a petition last month in which he calls the lawsuit a "bitter family dispute" from the early 1970s that involved Redstone's late brother Edward, the story notes.

The settlement gave some shares in the theater chain to both Edward's and Sumner's kids, the report adds. Because no tax return was filed, there's no statute of limitations, according to Behrendt.

Redstone's attorney didn't immediately return a call for comment and the IRS said it doesn't comment on pending litigation.

 

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Rapper Chris Kelly, Part of '90s Duo Kris Kross, Dead at 34

Rapper Chris Kelly, who was half of the 1990s rap team Kris Kross, has died, reports ABC News. Kelly, 34, was pronounced dead Wednesday night at the Atlanta Medical Center, the story reports.

Authorities were investigating the circumstances surrounding his death, the story says. An autopsy was expected to be performed later today.

Kelly was known as a backward-pants-wearing boy rapper who became famous with "Jump," from the 1992 Kris Kross album "Totally Krossed Out." Kelly was 13 years old when the song was released. The song went on to spend eight weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Kelly and his musical partner Chris Smith toured with Michael Jackson in 1992 on his "Dangerous World Tour." Their last album, 1996's "Young, Rich & Dangerous," reached gold status, the story notes.

Yahoo Music writer Billy Johnson Jr. told ABC News that he interviewed Kelly in February, and that the performer had gone back to school to become a studio engineer. Kelly reportedly said pictures of him showing patches of his hair missing were due to a skin disease called alopecia.

Fans had questioned his health after the photos surfaced. Kelly "said that those rumors had been very hurtful because people thought he had cancer and it wasn't true," Johnson said, according to the report.

Here’s the video clip for “Jump”:

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Oprah Winfrey -- Remember Her? -- Scores Big 'Get'

Oprah Winfrey has remained out of the headlines lately -- at least by Oprah standards -- but she made a little news this week by landing an in-depth interview with NBA player Jason Collins, the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports.

Collins became one of this week's top newsmakers with the announcement that he's gay, making him the first openly gay active player in any major team sport in the U.S.

In one of his first sitdown interviews, Collins and his twin brother, Jarron, will speak with Winfrey for "Oprah's Next Chapter," which will air Sunday on OWN. Jarron Collins retired as an NBA player in 2011, while Jason Collins is a free agent after playing with the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards this season.

George Stephanopoulos actually scored the first post-announcement interview with Jason Collins, which aired Monday on ABC News, the story adds.

jason-collins.jpgJason Collins

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Emmy Nomination Goes to 'Sesame Street' Puppeteer Who Resigned Amid Scandal

The Elmo puppeteer who left "Sesame Street" after allegations surfaced that he had sexual relations with minors has received a Daytime Emmy nomination for his work on the show, reports The New York Times.

The nod for Kevin Clash took some by surprise, although he worked on the show during the award-eligible season, the piece points out. He is the recipient of 23 Daytime Emmy Awards, including some for the show and others for his individual work.

He was nominated Wednesday for outstanding performer in a children's series, and is included in the show's nod for outstanding preschool children's series. Competing against him in the individual category are two other "Sesame Street" performers, Joey Mazzarino and David Rudman, and Jeff Corwin from "Ocean Mysteries."

Clash's attorney said the performer "wants to return to work in the industry he’s committed his entire life to," according to The Times.

 

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Comedy Central Sets Dates for Jon Stewart's Three-Month Hiatus From 'Daily Show'

Comedy Central’s "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" will be carrying on without Stewart this summer, with the channel announcing plans for his three-month hiatus.

Guest host John Oliver, who has been working as a correspondent for the show, will take over June 10, Deadline.com reports.

Stewart is taking a 12-week break to direct his first movie, "Rosewater," as we reported in March.

The show previously announced that Oliver would fill in for eight weeks of original episodes, while another four weeks will be filled by repeats. Stewart will return to "The Daily Show" Sept. 3.

Guests slated to appear during Oliver's first week include Seth Rogen and Fareed Zakaria.

 

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Oscar Winner Set to Star in HBO Adaptation of Pulitzer-Winning Book

An Oscar-winning actress has been tapped to star in HBO's adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book "Olive Kitteridge," written by Elizabeth Strout, reports Mike Fleming Jr. on Deadline.com.

Frances McDormand, who won an Oscar in 1997 for “Fargo,” will star in the project. Also on board are "The Kids Are All Right" director Lisa Cholodenko and actor Richard Jenkins, who was nominated for an Academy Award in 2009 for his role in "The Visitor."

HBO will turn the book into a miniseries that tells the story of Kitteridge, a sometimes abrasive math teacher, and the Maine town she lives in.

“Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman will be executive producers along with McDormand and her As Is banner and Jane Anderson,” the piece reports. “Anderson adapted the book into the four-hour mini. David Coatsworth is producing.”

Fleming adds: "Getting this cast, director and a four-hour commitment from HBO is a real testament for McDormand. I’ve been following this one for years, and it started when McDormand fell in love with the book before it won the Pulitzer. She bought it with her own money, and drafted Anderson to write the script.”

frances-mcdormand.jpg

Frances McDormand

 

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ABC Special Pumps Up Sales of Amanda Knox Book

Diane Sawyer's ABC News special with Amanda Knox, the former exchange student who was accused of murdering her roommate in Italy, boosted sales of Knox's memoir, "Waiting to Be Heard," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The book is now one of Amazon's top five sellers, after initially failing to crack its top 100 list. Overnight ratings for the ABC interview were also strong, with the network hitting a 12-week high in the 10 p.m. Tuesday slot. The special earned a 1.7 rating among adults 18-49 and drew 8.5 million viewers.

"The news also confirms a Sawyer interview as one of the most reliable promotional vehicles for a book," the piece points out.

Sawyer's interviews have also helped boost sales of books by Jaycee Dugard, Bob Woodward and Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, according to the story.

The ABC News veteran will next interview Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for advocating schooling for girls, in another book-related interview, the piece says. Yousafzai is releasing a memoir called "I Am Malala," with both the book release and the interview slated for October.

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Rolling Stones, Trying to Sell $600 Tickets, Find You Can't Always Get What You Want

The Rolling Stones are finding that you can't always get what you want, as they try to sell $600 tickets for the band’s "50 and Counting" tour that starts Friday in Los Angeles, reports Bloomberg.

Pairs of $600 floor seats were still available Wednesday for the tour kickoff at Staples Center arena.

"To anyone not working in investment banking, these are extremely expensive tickets,” Pollstar editor-in-chief Gary Bongiovanni told the publication.

Staples owner Anshutz Entertainment Group has started to lower prices as a result, with more $85 tickets going on sale. Those were the only tickets sold out for May 3, the story adds.

“By the time the show starts, they’ll fill every seat at the arena,” Bongiovanni said. “It just won’t be with people who paid $600 a seat.”

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The Highest-Paid Female Star in Hollywood in 1947 Dies at 91. Believe It or Not, the Highest-Paid Female Star That Year Was NOT Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Shirley Temple, Elizabeth Taylor, Betty Grable, Lana Turner, Katharine Hepburn or Myrna Loy

A movie star who became the highest-paid actress of 1947 only to turn her back on Hollywood after a brief career has died. The Los Angeles Times reports that Deanna Durbin, who walked away from Hollywood at age 26, died Tuesday at 91.

Durbin, an accomplished singer as well as an actress, was a teen sensation at Universal Studios. But after retiring from public life in 1949 she moved to a farmhouse outside Paris and remained out of the limelight for the rest of her life.

Durbin’s wildly popular movies were credited with rescuing Universal from bankruptcy during the Depression. She was a teen star during the 1930s, winning the Academy Juvenile Award at age 17. Among her films were “Three Smart Girls” in 1936, “Spring Parade” in 1940 and “Lady on a Train” in 1945.

“Appearing in only one short and 21 feature films in her 12-year career in Hollywood, Durbin nevertheless left behind a treasure trove of upbeat productions that made her one of the biggest stars of her era and earned her loyal fans decades after her last film was released in 1948,” the Times reports.

Since 1950 she had lived outside the village of Neauphle-le-Chateau, near Paris.

“At a time when most girls were barely discovering boys, Durbin was catapulted into her role as a wholesome teen idol to millions of young girls,” the Times reports. “Dresses, dolls, ski suits and hats were named after her. Her fresh face and clear voice were known all over the world. Poignantly, even Anne Frank, confined to her family's hiding place in Amsterdam during World War II, pasted a movie magazine picture of Durbin on her wall.”

Deanna-Durbin.jpgDeanna Durbin

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ABC Mainstay Plummets in Ratings

A series that has performed well in the past for ABC plunged to an all-time low Tuesday night in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “Dancing with the Stars” turned in a grim 1.5 average rating in the demo, part of a tough night that saw ABC finish in a tie with Univision for fourth place in prime time among the broadcast networks.

“Dancing” lost 25% from last week, finishing well behind the competition on NBC, CBS and Fox in its 9 p.m. hour. ABC’s sputtering 8 p.m. reality series “Splash” fared even worse, sliding 18% to a series-low 0.9 average in 18-49.

The network did get a 1.7 out of its special “Murder, Mystery: Amanda Knox Speaks” at 10 p.m., improving a modest 6% on what “Body of Proof” delivered in the time slot a week ago -- not enough to lift ABC out of the cellar.

NBC’s two-hour “The Voice” was the top show of the night, even as it hit a season low with a 3.7 average rating in adults 18-49 -- down 10% from a week ago. But the network’s big winner was “Grimm,” which won the 10 p.m. hour with a 2.0 average for its time slot premiere, up 54% from last week and doubling the number turned in by “Ready for Love” in the time slot a week ago.

CBS saw its two “NCIS” shows head in opposite directions. “NCIS” was up 7% from a week ago with a 3.0 average in 18-49, while “NCIS: Los Angeles” fell 19% to a series-low 2.2. CBS’s “Golden Boy” continues to struggle at 10 p.m., equaling its series low with a 1.3 average, off 7% from last week.

Fox’s lineup was down, with “Hell’s Kitchen” shedding 5% of its 18-49 audience from last week to settle for a 1.9. “New Girl” lost 9% from its previous original, delivering a 2.0, while “The Mindy Project” equaled its all-time low with a 1.3, off 13% from its previous original.

NBC won the night by a comfortable margin, averaging a 3.1 rating in adults 18-49 for prime time overall, followed by CBS (2.2 average), Fox (1.8), Univision (1.4) and ABC (1.4). The picture was different in total viewers, with CBS winning the night by averaging 12.8 million, ahead of NBC (9.7 million), ABC (7.8 million), Fox (3.9 million) and Univision (3.4 million).

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NBC Owner Comcast Beats Earnings Forecasts -- But No Thanks to the Broadcast Network

Media giant Comcast offered a mixed bag in its first-quarter earnings report today, announcing that it generated $1.65 billion in net income, up 13.7% from the year-ago period, on revenues of $15.3 billion, up 2.9%, Deadline.com reports.

“Analysts thought that revenues would come in a little higher, at $15.4B. But earnings of 54 cents a share beat forecasts for 50 cents,” the story reports.

Revenue from cable networks was up 4.6% to $2.2 billion, with operating cash flow up 6.2% to $859 million, the piece notes, adding: “Comcast says that affiliate fees were up 8.6% while ad price increases offset lower ratings to raise sales 2.5%.”

The report notes: “The story’s drearier at the broadcast operation: Its operating loss increased to $35M from $14M last year while revenues fell 18.5% to $1.5B. (The drop would be just 5.3% without last year’s Super Bowl.) The main culprits, the company says, were “lower prime-time ratings at the NBC broadcast network and lower content licensing revenue.”

However, the piece says NBCUniversal reported operating cash flow rose 17.2% to $953 million -- despite a 2.4% drop in revenues to $5.34 billion. The report notes that revenues would have been up 2.4% factoring out last year’s $259 million from NBC’s Super Bowl coverage.

Revenues from the Comcast cable systems were up 6.4% to $10.2 billion, with operating cash flow of $4.2 billion, up 6.7%. The systems lost 60,000 video customers during the year to end March with 21.9 million. “That was offset by the 433,000 increase in broadband customers, to 19.8M, and 211,000 pickup in phone customers to 10.2M,” the report notes.

Commenting on the Comcast acquisition of General Electric’s stake in NBCUniversal, CEO Brian Roberts said the move should “drive innovation and operational excellence to deliver superior entertainment and communications choices for consumers.”

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Mountain Dew Commercial Pulled After Accusations of Racism

PepsiCo has taken down an ad for Mountain Dew after the company received viewer complaints saying the spot is racist and misogynistic, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“The minute-long commercial was developed by rapper Tyler, the Creator, who is black,” the story reports. “He and Mountain Dew are removing the video from all their channels, according to a Mountain Dew statement.”

The ad, which the report says features “a battered and terrified white woman trying to pick a suspect out of a lineup of black men,” had been airing online.

The company said: “We apologize for this video and take full responsibility.”

“The footage opens with a lineup of black men -- one wearing an eye patch -- with names such as Lil Musty and Beyonte, and a goat in a suit named Felicia,” the Times reports. “From behind the glass, a white woman, bruised, on crutches and in a neck brace, is behooved by a white man in a suit carrying a Mountain Dew bottle to ‘nail this little sucker.’ Felicia, meanwhile, is shown threatening the woman with lines such as ‘You better not snitch on a playa,’ and ‘Snitches get stitches, boo.’”

The report adds: “Then, this winner: ‘I'ma get out of here and I'ma do you up.’ Supposedly, it’s a play on the ‘Dew’ in Mountain Dew.”

Writer and social commentator Boyce D. Watkins reportedly wrote after viewing the spot that it is “a new low for corporate racism,” adding: “Their decision to lean on well-known racial stereotypes is beyond disgusting.”

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CNN Renews Freshman Show

One of the shows that is part of the revamped CNN lineup has already received a renewal, just three episodes into its first season. Deadline.com reports that the cable news channel will bring back “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” for a second season.

The new season, set to premiere Sept. 15, will feature visits to Spain, New Mexico, Israel, Copenhagen, Sicily, Detroit, Tokyo and India, the story reports.

In a statement, CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker said of the series: “In addition to its runaway ratings success, it is also quite the conversation starter, as anyone who follows social media can attest. We are so happy to announce Season 2, and I can assure you that audiences will love what is coming up on the show.”

The report adds: “Bourdain was brought on board at the cable news network last spring before the former NBC executive took over, but Zucker has been a big booster of ‘Parts Unknown.’ On April 19, he even made a point of noting the debut of the show in a note to staffers on their work during the week of the Boston Marathon bombing and Texas warehouse explosion.”

In its premiere April 14, the show brought in 747,000 total viewers and 282,000 in the key 25-54 demo, the piece notes, boosting the time slot by 120% in the demo and 62% in total viewers, against year-ago numbers.

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Futuristic Drama From Ridley Scott in the Works at AMC

A futuristic drama project is under way at AMC after the cable channel inked a two-year first-look deal with Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions, Deadline.com reports.

“The pact, Scott Free’s first such first-look agreement with a cable network, stems from the production company’s collaboration with AMC on ‘The Terror,’ a drama series project based on the 2007 best-selling novel by Dan Simmons, which was taken in for development by AMC in February,” the story reports.

In addition to “The Terror,” two other dramas are in the works under the deal. “One is an untitled futuristic, dystopian, sci-fi saga from executive producer and writer Jason Cahill (‘Fringe’) and producer and Emmy-winning prosthetic makeup artist and ‘The Walking Dead’ co-executive producer Greg Nicotero, who also has a deal at AMC,” Deadline reports.

The piece adds: “The other, ‘Raiders,’ from executive producer and writer Evan Wright (‘Generation Kill’), was among the finalists at this year’s AMC pilot script showcase held this month. It is a WWII drama about a rogue U.S. Navy commander who leads an unconventional warfare unit into the heart of Africa on a mission that will bend the arc of history.”

Joel Stillerman, executive VP of Original Programming for AMC: “We are excited for the opportunity to work with Scott Free as we continue to develop and produce scripted dramas that defy expectations with truly original stories and characters.”

David Zucker, president of Scott Free Television, added: “We have tremendous admiration for AMC’s success in pushing the boundaries of television and storytelling.”

Feature writer David Kajganich is writing “The Terror,” which comes from Scott Free TV, Television 360 and feature producer Alexandra Milchan.

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Obama Formally Names Nominee to Chair FCC

President Obama today officially named his nominee to chair the Federal Communications Commission. Deadline.com reports that Obama named Tom Wheeler as his nominee. The nomination had been expected, as we reported earlier.

“There was laughter at the White House ... when the president, who was also smiling, said he anticipates ‘a speedy confirmation process.’ That may be too much to expect,” Deadline reports. “But the FCC won’t be leaderless once Chairman Julius Genachowski steps down: President Obama designated Commissioner Mignon Clyburn to be Acting Chairwoman until Wheeler’s aboard.”

The piece adds: “Wheeler’s mandate is to make sure that the U.S. is ‘at the cutting edge’ of technological change, promoting ‘American ingenuity and American innovation.’”

Genachowski reportedly said he could “attest to Tom’s commitment to harness the power of communications technology to improve people’s lives, to drive our global competitiveness, and to advance the public interest.”

Wheeler is a longtime Obama ally who “ran the president’s transition effort for science, technology, space and arts agencies -- and lobbied for the cable industry from 1979-1984 when he was president of the National Cable Television Association, and then represented wireless phone companies as CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA),” the report notes.

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Moonves Says CBS Could Move to Cable 'in a Few Days' if Networks Lose Aereo Suit

CBS chief Leslie Moonves said he isn't losing sleep over broadcast-streaming service Aereo, adding that if the lawsuit brought by the networks isn't resolved in the courts, he's willing to switch CBS to cable, reports Deadline.com.

"We can do it in a few days. If we go to cable, if we are forced to, then about 10% of America will not get our signal and I don’t think they will like that,” said Moonves, who spoke at the Milken Institute's Global Conference.

"We will go after them in the courts and if that doesn’t work there are other remedies. There are financial remedies; there are congressional remedies," Moonves said.

The piece adds: “The CBS chief said that with around 2,000 subscribers in NYC, the ‘illegal’ Aereo won’t hurt the network but that he still intends to shut them down.”

Commenting on the veteran media executive behind Aereo, Moonves said: “Barry Diller has done what he likes to do, disrupt things.”

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NBC Station Drops Ratings-Challenged Drama Series -- but Not Because of the Ratings

An NBC affiliate has dumped one of the network’s new drama series. EW.com’s Inside TV reports that the affiliate, Salt Lake City station KSL-TV, dropped the ratings-challenged drama "Hannibal," complaining about its graphic content.

The station posted on its Facebook page: "This decision was made due to the extensive graphic nature of this show. The time slot will be replaced with a special edition of KSL 5 News at 9 p.m. NBC remains a valued partner to KSL TV. KSL is confident that with the proliferation of digital media, those who wish to view the program can easily do so.”

The station said it had received "numerous" complaints from viewers.

The drama is likely to air instead on the local CW affiliate. NBC had no comment.

KSL, owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has dropped programming before because of what it calls objectionable content. It refused to run the short-lived "The Playboy Club" and the gay-friendly comedy "The New Normal."

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Ousted 'Smash' Creator Has Harsh Words for the NBC Show

"Smash" creator Theresa Rebeck, who was ousted during the NBC musical drama's first season, isn't mincing words when it comes to the second season of the show, reports Buzzfeed.

Rebeck responded to a Buzzfeed writer who wrote about what went wrong with the show's first season and NBC's effort to reboot it, according to the story.

Joshua Safran became executive producer and showrunner after Rebeck left, with Safran expected to take the show in a new direction, the piece notes.

After asking that Buzzfeed take down the critical story (which the writer declined to do), Rebeck wrote that "most media reporters would agree that the second season is a complete disaster." She added: “The troubles with a once promising show go far beyond faring poorly in the ratings."

NBC moved "Smash" to Saturday nights, where ratings have continued to dwindle. The show is considered likely to be canceled by the network.

Rebeck suggested that an unnamed source used in the story was being untruthful, and wrote: “If in fact Theresa Rebeck was the problem with ‘Smash’ and the train wreck it became, wouldn’t things have gotten better -- rather than drastically worse -- once she left?”

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'Streamageddon' Hits Netflix, as Hundreds of Titles Disappear From the Service

[Updated on 5-1-13 at 1:21 pm. PT. Slate has published the following correction to its story, and we have made the appropriate correction to our item based on the Slate story. "Correction, May 1, 1:07 p.m.: This post previously stated that these titles would become exclusively available on Warner Archive Instant. A spokesperson for Warner Bros. tells Slate that the films being removed from Netflix’s streaming service do not belong to Warner Bros."


For serious movie fans, today is "streamageddon" on Netflix, the day when hundreds of titles will disappear from the streaming service, reports Slate.

Writer Sam Adams reports on Slate: "Complicating matters further, Netflix is currently testing a variety of new interfaces, rolling out variations on its iconic queue to small groups of users. Instead of a customizable queue, some -- like me -- now see a ‘list’ which can only be sorted according to a handful of options."

The piece notes that most customers appear to "loathe" the new options.

Some of the movies that are disappearing include Woody Allen's "Stardust Memories," the heist thriller "Odds Against Tomorrow" and the James Bond film "Goldfinger," according to Slate.

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MSNBC Extends Deal With Host, Pulls Plug on One of His Shows

MSNBC signed a new long-term contract with one of its most high-profile hosts, while announcing that it will wrap up one of his shows. TVNewser reports that the channel will wind down "The Chris Matthews Show," a syndicated public affairs show that's produced from NBC News' Washington bureau, this summer.

Meanwhile, Matthews and the channel inked a new long-term deal.

The final installment of "The Chris Matthews Show" will air July 21. The half-hour show has been produced by NBC since 2002. Matthews said the reason for ending the program was so that he could focus on "Hardball," writing books and working on long-form television documentaries.

"There are limits to what I can do in a week,” Matthews said a statement. “Henceforth, I intend to concentrate any time left over from 'Hardball' on writing books like the one I’m committed to now on the relationship between Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan, that and producing documentaries on history and politics.”

chris-matthews.jpgChris Matthews

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Comedy Central Has New Show to Follow 'Daily Show' and 'Colbert Report'

Comedy Central has developed a new nightly half-hour program that will follow Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report," which follows a long search, reports the New York Post.

The program will feature stand-up comedian Chris Hardwick, who is known for hosting "Talking Dead," a companion program to the AMC drama "The Walking Dead," the story says. The new show doesn't yet have a name.

The humor website Funny or Die will co-produce the program with Comedy Central. It will air Monday through Thursday and debut in the fall.

chris-hardwick.jpgChris Hardwick

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Netflix Sets July Debut for New Original Series

Netflix has rolled out plans for the debut of its latest original series. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that the streaming service will premiere "Orange Is the New Black" July 11.

The rollout will follow the premiere of Netflix’s revival of "Arrested Development" on May 26, the report notes.

“Orange” is set in a women's prison and is based on the bestselling memoir by Piper Kerman. It was adapted by "Weeds" creator Jenji Kohan and stars Taylor Schilling as a young woman who ends up in prison on a drug sentence.

Other cast members include Laura Prepon, Jason Biggs, Kate Mulgrew and Natasha Lyonne.

Like Netflix's other original shows, the service plans to release all 13 episodes of the series at once.

taylor-schilling.jpg

Taylor Schilling

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Venture Capitalist in Line to Become FCC Chairman

A venture capital investor is set to be nominated today as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. The New York Times reports that President Barack Obama today will nominate Tom Wheeler for the post.

Wheeler, a former lobbyist for the cable and mobile phone industries, has prompted some concern among consumer advocacy groups that "anticipated his nomination and said they were troubled by his background investing in and lobbying for cable and wireless companies," the piece notes.

Some of those advocacy groups claim that the outgoing chairman, Julius Genachowski, didn't stand up against big telecommunications companies, the story says.

Wheeler received "cautious approval" from Public Knowledge, a critic of Genachowski's, which noted that Wheeler had lobbied for mobile phone and cable companies when those industries were much smaller.

Wheeler is a managing director at Core Capital Partners, which manages $350 million and invests in start-ups and small to midsize technology businesses, the story says. He also serves on the board of Internet service provider EarthLink, which competes with other telecom companies such as Verizon.

tom-wheeler.jpgTom Wheeler

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Maria Shriver Returning to NBC

Maria Shriver is returning to NBC nearly a decade after she left the network when her husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, ran for governor of California, reports The New York Times.

Shriver will return as a “special anchor,” appearing on a variety of NBC programs rather than focusing on one particular show, the story says. She will also produce and anchor prime-time special reports.

Shriver, who will focus on women's issues, will be based in Los Angeles.

“I see it as a partnership that will evolve over time and give me an ongoing outlet for many of the stories I want to tell,” Shriver said. “Like so many women, I’m trying to craft a life that allows me to do meaningful work and keep a focus on my family, which will always be my No. 1 job.”

In addition to the broadcast network’s news programs, Shriver may appear on the cable networks MSNBC and CNBC, and on NBC Sports shows, the report notes. She will also hold the title of editor at large for women's issues for NBC News’ websites, the piece adds.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for maria-shriver.jpgMaria Shriver

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HBO Working on Miniseries About Frank Sinatra

HBO is working on an ambitious miniseries about the life and music of Frank Sinatra, reports the New York Post. The singer's family is providing home movies and private performances, which haven't been seen before by the public, the piece notes.

The documentary miniseries will air across four nights in 2014, and is produced by Frank Marshall, the noted Hollywood producer behind "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and the "Bourne" movie series.

Some details, such as the project's working title and a specific air date, aren't yet known. Directing the series will be documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney.

Sinatra, who died at age 82 in 1998, has been the focus of other projects, with "Goodfellas" director Martin Scorsese working on a project for more than a decade, the piece notes.

 

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Because We Don't Already Have Enough TV Shows About Pawn Shops ... CMT Orders One

Following the success of History’s “Pawn Stars” -- and its spinoffs “Cajun Pawn Stars,” “American Restoration” and “Counting Cars” -- along with truTV’s entries “Hardcore Pawn,” “Combat Pawn” and “Hardcore Pawn: Chicago,” CMT is getting into the pawn shop business.

The cable channel picked up "Win Lose or Pawn," CMT’s first daily series, which will launch this summer as a strip, reports Deadline.com.

The format was created by veteran reality producer Phil Gurin of The Gurin Co., which is behind "Oh Sit," and Eric Evangelista of Hot Snakes Media. Both will serve as executive producers.

The show is currently casting, with the project searching for people who have objects to pawn or goods they want appraised.

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Amanda Knox Finally Speaks -- But Did She Say Anything?

In her first television interview, Amanda Knox, the exchange student who was accused of murdering her roommate Meredith Kercher in Italy, told Diane Sawyer on ABC that she "could have been more sensitive," although she uttered the statement in a "distant, remote voice,” according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Her first interview after six years of silence and two murder trials came across as "strangely muted," the story notes. Knox proclaimed her innocence on the one-hour prime-time special, criticized the interrogation by Italian police and admitted to suicidal thoughts.

"But new to everyone was the chance to see, to hear, to evaluate Knox in person for the first time. Dressed in a light green sleeveless shift and wearing little makeup, Knox came across as composed and thoughtful, though a little remote," The Reporter notes.

The piece adds, "She cried and displayed emotion, but each time she appeared to be trying to stifle it and hold it in, as if trying to shield herself from the full horror of what happened to her."

That remoteness will work against her, the piece says. "For the average viewer, it is hard to generate much passion for Knox either way. She claims to have been wrongly convicted -- or at least convicted on the basis of faulty evidence -- but her remoteness makes it hard to generate sympathy for her," the story points out.

ABC continues to make the most of its exclusive with Knox. In addition to Tuesday’s prime-time special, that night’s “Nightline” was focused on the case, and Knox was scheduled to appear live today on “Good Morning America,” with still more of the Diane Sawyer interview to be featured tonight on “World News Tonight.”

“Including the pre-interview teases, ABC will have featured Knox no less than six times in three days,” THR notes.

“Her self-description as naive, innocent and immature seems accurate,” the report adds. “Most of the harshest charges against her -- that she was promiscuous, that she appeared unmoved by Kercher's death -- appear as youthful folly, not malignant behavior.

“Knox frankly admits that she decided to experiment with casual sex for the first time during her year in Italy but concedes how foolish that was.”

Knox cried during the interview when Sawyer ran through a list of her nicknames in the press: "she-devil," "heartless manipulator," the "sphinx of Perugia" and so on.

“She says her seeming coldness in the immediate aftermath of Kercher's murder reflects not indifference but the stunned uncertainty of a young person who had never been involved in anything so horrific,” the piece reports.

It adds: “She doesn't come across as a bad person or unlikable so much as guarded and hard to know.”

Knox accuses the authorities in Italy of conning her out of getting a lawyer and badgering her into giving a false confession.

“Sawyer picks up the story, demolishing the prosecution's case by pointing out the problems in the DNA evidence and emphasizing the guilt of Rudy Guede, a small-time criminal, who separately was convicted of the murder,” THR reports. “Most damning, Sawyer points out that Knox's DNA was nowhere to be found in the bedroom where Kercher was killed. Guede's DNA was everywhere, including on the victim.

”The report adds: “At the end, Sawyer asks what Knox would like to say to Kercher's parents. ’Eventually, I hope to have their permission to pay my respects at her grave’ and tell them how much she talked about her family in the short time they were roommates.”

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for amanda-knox.jpgAmanda Knox

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