June 2013

On a Warm Friday Night in Most of the Country, It's a Good Time to Catch up With Four Noir Suspense Classics on TV

By Chuck Ross

TCM has been showing a number of classic film noirs on Friday nights in June, ending tonight with four really terrific films that I recommend.

The first starts very soon: at 6:30 p.m. PT and 9:30 p.m. ET. It's the least well known of the four movies. It's called "Deadline at Dawn," and it's a crime thriller from 1946. The hard-boiled dialogue by Clifford Odets crackles, though it's not as pointedly sharp as his dialogue in "Sweet Smell of Success." Odets is working from a novella by William Irish, which is a nom de plume of Cornell Woolrich, who was one of our greatest practioners of pulp fiction. A number of his works have been made into movies, including one of Hitchcock's masterworks, "Rear Window."

"Deadline at Dawn" is an actor's delight, with Susan Hayward, Paul Lukas, Marvin Miller and Joseph Calleia particular standouts.

That the acting is one of the film's pleasures is no surprise, since the movie is the only motion picture directed by Harold Clurman, one of the most famous theatre directors in the history of New York theatre. WIth Lee Strasberg and Cheryl Crawford, Clurman founded the influential Group Theater in New York. Clurman was also a drama critic. I don't know why he only directed this one movie.

The luminous black and while look of the movie is courtesy veteran RKO cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca. His work should be much better known than it is.

Following "Deadline at Dawn," you can catch, from 1944, "Murder My Sweet"  on TCM at 8 p.m. PT (11 p.m. ET). It's one of two films featuring Raymond Chandler's great L.A. detective Philip Marlowe that is showing on TCM tonight. Playing Marlowe in "Murder My Sweet" is Dick Powell, previously known for musicals. He's wonderful in the part, and  he is my secord favorite Marlowe on screen.

My favorite portrayal of Marlowe is in another movie on tonight, and, in my opinion, the best of tonight's lot. It's "The Big Sleep,' featuring Humphrey Bogart as Marlowe. From 1946, it's directed almost flawlessly by Howard Hawks. One of Bogart's best roles. Lauren Bacall is smart and sultry; Dorothy Malone is sexy and seductive  There is nothing about this movie that I don't like. If you've never seen it, it's one of the most enjoyable crime thrillers ever made.

"The Big Sleep" screens on TCM tonight at 10 p.m. PT (1 a.m. ET).

The fourth film on tonight that I highly recommend is one of Hitchcock's best, "Strangers on a Train." It has one of the best performances in any Hitchcock film, that of Robert Walker as the nasty Bruno Anthony, in a performance on the dark side that I think is only challenged in its greatness by Dennis Hopper in "Blue Velvet" and Andy Robinson in "Dirty Harry." Hitchcock is known as the "master of suspense," and this is one of the films from where that moniker comes.  "Strangers" comes on TCM at 2 a.m. PT (5 a.m. ET).

 

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'Vampire Diaries' Actress Indicted in Ricin Case

An actress who appeared in TV shows including "The Vampire Diaries," "The Walking Dead" and "All My Children" has been formally charged in a case involving sending ricin-laced letters to President Obama, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Mark Glaze, the leader of a gun-control group.

USA Today reports that Shannon Guess Richardson of Texas was indicted on three federal threat charges.

"The indictment, made public Friday, charges 35-year-old Shannon Guess Richardson of New Boston, TX., with threatening the President of the United States and two charges of mailing threatening letters. If convicted, Richardson could be sentenced to five years imprisonment for each charge. The mother of five remains jailed," the story reports.

Richardson, a former beauty queen, was arrested June 7. She has played a series of minor roles in television shows.

"In the ricin-laced letter to President Obama mailed May 20, Richardson allegedly wrote, 'You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns. Anyone wants to come to my house will get shot in the face,'" the piece reports. "The letter claims to be written by a man who has served in the U.S. Army, is married and has children, and blames the president for not being able to retire."

The letter to Obama reportedly adds: "(I will) make sure you wont be runnin' this country in the ground any further. What's in this letter is nothing compared to what ive got in store for you mr president."

Richardson is accused of sending similar letters to Bloomberg and Glaze.

The USA Today report adds: "John Delk, an attorney for Richardson's husband Nathan Richardson, said Richardson sent the letters in an attempt to set up her husband, who is seeking a divorce. Richardson contacted federal investigators claiming she had found a suspicious substance in the refrigerator and ricin-related internet searches on the couple's computer."

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Shannon Guess Richardson

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George Zimmer, the Ex-Chairman of Men's Wearhouse and Its Public Face in Its Commercials Who Was Fired Recently, Fights Back in Open Letter to Men's Wearhouse Employees

George Zimmer, the founder and former executive chairman of The Men’s Wearhouse -- and the public face of the compiany in its commercials -- who was fired by the company's board recently, fought back this week with an open letter to the company's emloyees, according to Yahoo Finance.

According to the story, Zimmer writes, in part:

Over the years, as CEO, I consistently encouraged the company to take a longer term approach of investing most of our profits back in the company, delivering value to our customers and building a loyal and dedicated workforce totally committed to service, rather than pursuing shorter term strategies based on financial engineering. Inside the Boardroom, we often had spirited discussions about how best to achieve these objectives. Regardless of whether the Board eventually sided with my point of view or not, I believe this dialogue and discussion led to better decisions that contributed to the success of The Men’s Wearhouse.

Unfortunately, this dynamic seems to have changed.

Just one month after the directors unanimously nominated me for reelection to the Board, last week they abruptly fired me from my management role and postponed the Annual Stockholder Meeting so they could nominate a new slate of directors that excluded me. To justify their actions, they now have tried to portray me as an obstinate former CEO, determined to regain absolute control by pushing a going private transaction for my own personal benefit and ego. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The reality is that over the past two years, and particularly over recent months, I believe that the Board and management have been eroding the principles and values that have made The Men’s Wearhouse so successful for all stakeholders.

Zimmer ends his letter:

To be clear, at this point I have not concluded that taking The Men’s Wearhouse private is a better means of preserving the unique culture and values that have made the company so successful over the years. What I do know is that as a founder and large shareholder, I am greatly concerned about the future of the company if this culture and these values are lost, and believe that the Board should be open to at least consider the full range of possibilities that could optimize the future value of the company for all stakeholders.

To read all of Zimmer's letter, please click on the link in our first paragraph, above.

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George Zimmer

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High-Profile '24' Alum Joins Fox Reboot

A high-profile member of the team behind Fox's "24" has signed on with the network's reboot, the event series "24: Live Another Day." Deadline.com reports that Evan Katz, a longtime writer on "24," is on board for the reboot.

Katz joins "24" alums Howard Gordon, David Fury and Jon Cassar as an executive producer on the new project. Katz signed a two-year deal with 20th Century Fox TV, the studio behind the "24" franchise, the piece notes.

"Next to Gordon, Katz was probably '24’s' longest-serving writer. He joined at the beginning of Season 2 and won a WGA Award for the first episode he ever wrote on the show, the Day 2 hour in which Jack Bauer fakes killing the son of a terrorist in order to force him to talk," Deadline reports. "Katz started as a consulting producer, becoming co-executive producer in Season 3 and executive producer in Season 4, staying with the series until its end in May 2010 after eight seasons. He shared in 24‘s best series Emmy win in 2006."

Said 20th TV Chairman Gary Newman: “When Howard came to us about bringing back the show, we all loved the idea of reassembling the creative team that made '24' such a success. Getting Evan Katz -- who wrote some of the show’s most memorable episodes -- to share the executive producing responsibilities of 'Live Another Day' is a huge win for this studio. He’s an incredibly talented writer and we’re thrilled to welcome him back.”

Talks are ongoing with two other former "24" EPs, co-creator Bob Cochran and Manny Coto, the report notes.

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Spanish-Language Univision Ties for No. 1 Among Broadcast Networks

Spanish-language broadcaster Univision climbed into a tie for the No. 1 spot in the broadcast ratings for Thursday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that both Univision and Fox finished with 1.4 average ratings in viewers 18-49 for prime time overall. They led CBS (1.2 average), ABC (1.0) and NBC (0.7). CBS, which aired all repeats, won total viewers, averaging 6.2 million to 4.6 million for ABC, 3.8 million for Fox, 3.7 million for Univision and 2.3 million for NBC, which also aired an all-repeat lineup.

The top show of the night on broadcast was a tie between two shows that aired at 8 p.m.: a rerun of CBS's "The Big Bang Theory" and a new installment of Fox's "Hell's Kitchen," with both shows delivering 2.0 averages in 18-29.

Fox's "Does Someone Have to Go?" delivered a 0.9 in the 18-49 demo, same as last week.

ABC's lineup of first-run programming failed to gain much traction: "Wipeout" and "Motive" both managed 0.9 averages in adults 18-49, with "Wipeout" down 25% from its previous original back in May. "Motive" was also down 25% from its previous original and sank to a series low.

ABC's top show was "Rookie Blue" with a 1.1 average in 18-49, but that number was down 9% from the previous original and a season low.

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NBC News Hires Former N.Y. and L.A. Police Chief

NBC News has hired the former chief of the New York Police Department and the Los Angeles Police Department, TVNewser reports. The news operation hired Bill Bratton as an analyst, the piece reports.

Bratton will work for NBCUniversal's networks and platforms, including MSNBC and NBC News Digital. Bratton was a high-profile police chief in the 1990s and 2000s, and currently leads the consultation firm The Bratton Group and Bratton Technologies, the story notes.

His wife, Rikki Klieman, is a legal analyst for CBS News.

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Bill Bratton

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Alec Baldwin Runs Into Trouble on Twitter Again Over a Sensitive Subject

Alec Baldwin apparently has deleted his Twitter account -- for a third time -- after getting in trouble over a subject that has proved to be a sensitive one for him: his wife, Hilaria.

Baldwin reportedly sent profanity-laced tweets to a Daily Mail journalist who wrote that Hilaria had sent tweets about anniversary presents while attending James Gandolfini's funeral service, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"I am gonna f--- you up," Baldwin wrote in one tweet, the story says.

The Daily Mail article, by writer George Stark, claimed that Hilaria sent tweets that "included a request for ideas about wedding anniversary presents and promotional notes about her upcoming appearance on the Rachael Ray show" while attending the funeral.

Baldwin sent scathing messages directed at Stark, including: "Someone wrote that my wife was tweeting at a funeral. Hey. That's not true. But I'm gonna tweet at your funeral."

Other tweets from Baldwin called Stark a "lying little bitch" and a "f---ing little bitch," according to the report. Baldwin's latest rant, which also reportedly included calling Stark a "toxic little queen," is being called homophobic by some in the media.

The actor also wrote that he doesn't have a publicist now, after he "fired them," and insisted that his wife didn't use her phone during the service.

Baldwin reportedly tweeted: "How much of this shit are people supposed to take? With these f---ing blatant lies EVERY DAY. My wife DID NOT use her phone, in any capacity, at our friends funeral. Now, f--- this twitter + good luck to all of you who know the truth."

Baldwin's wife also defended herself, tweeting: "I don't know what hurts more: people randomly and maliciously writing lies about you, or the people who actually believe them."

Now Baldwin's account appears to have been deleted. Clicking on his most recent Twitter handle, @ABFalecbaldwin, brings up a page that says, "Sorry, that page doesn't exist!"

It's not the first time Baldwin has deleted his account. In 2011, he deleted it after a high-profile dispute with American Airlines, and in 2012, he quit Twitter after marrying Hilaria.

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Canceled NBC Series Heads to Ovation

A canceled NBC series won't disappear completely from the television landscape after all, with Ovation picking up rights to rebroadcasts of "Smash," the musical drama that was canceled by the network this season, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The arts network will debut the series July 19, with the second season starting in November.

"Ovation is thrilled to satisfy the wishes of diehard 'Smash' fans and followers to keep the series alive, as well as to provide viewers who are new to the series an opportunity to experience the incredible talent, music, dancing, drama and excitement," Robert Weiss, Ovation's chief creative officer, said in a statement.

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Embattled TV Chef Paula Deen Is Winning on at Least One Front

The ongoing controversy over Paula Deen's use of the N-word has brought one negative headline after another for the TV chef during the past week, but the news hasn't been all bad for Deen.

Vanity Fair reports that her cookbooks are suddenly hot. "After a somewhat fumbling attempt at damage control on the 'Today' show on Wednesday ('I is what I is,' she told Matt Lauer), Paula Deen has been dropped by Walmart, Target and QVC, among others," the story reports. "However, the developments of the past few weeks do not seem to have deterred her fan base, who have gotten two of her cookbooks -- one of which hasn’t even come out yet -- to the top two spots on Amazon.com's Bestsellers list."

Deen's "Southern Cooking Bible" has climbed to the No. 2 spot on the Amazon list, the piece notes.

Buyers of the cookbooks have also left comments on Amazon in support of Deen, the report adds. Here's one such comment quoted in the story:

"I don't normally buy items for a policical statement but this time I have. Paula has freedom of speech and I have the power of the buck. Today I bought this book AND a box of cheerios (in support of their ad that contains a mixed race marriage). Time for American to grow up beyond the age of ten years old, get over the polical correctness crap and get on with life."

Another commenter writes:

"I don't like being told what to think, say, or do by the agenda-driven liberal media or the conservative religious right.

"I'll probably never read this cookbook but it will sit front and center in my bookcase next to The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie, and my unopened 2 Live Crew CD. I'll feel quite pleased everytime I see them there. My little contributions to the war on hypocrisy and censorship. Worth every penny."

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Sharon Osbourne Shares Her Low Opinion of Kanye West

"The Talk" co-host Sharon Osbourne, who is married to rocker Ozzy Osbourne, shared an unfavorable view of rapper Kanye West on Thursday, calling him "an average-looking guy with an average talent," reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

Osbourne's comment was part of a backlash on the show against the rapper, who the publication says has "been even more boastful than usual while promoting his new album 'Yeezus.'"

In one interview, West described himself as "No. 1 living and breathing rock star," the story notes, adding that he compares himself favorably with rock stars including Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison.

Said Sharon Osbourne, commenting on West's not-exactly-humble media persona: "I think it's his thing, he puts on this shtick."

She contrasted West's approach with that of her heavy-metal spouse Ozzy, saying proudly: "My husband's under the radar with no ego."

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Paramount Unveils Plans for New 'Terminator' Trilogy

After "Terminator" star Arnold Schwarzenegger famously vowed that he would be back, Paramount has announced that the "Terminator" franchise will indeed be back.

CBS News reports: "The franchise is getting a reboot, Paramount announced Thursday, with three new films set to roll out soon. There's no official word on whether Arnold Schwarzenegger, 65, will resume the title role, but according to the Los Angeles Times, insiders say the actor is expected to be involved in the films in some way."

The original "Terminator," released in 1984, and its sequels have made more than $1 billion in box office receipts, the piece notes. The movies star Schwarzenegger as a virtually indestructible robot assassin.

"The studio says it will release the new 'Terminator' in July 2015, more than three decades after 'The Terminator' hit the big screen," the story reports. "It's being produced by Annapurna Pictures, which is also behind 2013's 'Zero Dark Thirty.'"

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Rebellious NBC Affiliate Reverses Decision on 'SNL'

An NBC affiliate that has shown a tendency in the past to make up its own mind about the merits of the network's programming has reversed course on "Saturday Night Live," one of the shows it has refused to air in the past.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Salt Lake City station KSL-TV, which is owned by the Mormon Church, will resume showing first-run episodes of "SNL" in the fall, after years of refusing to televise the show.

"The decision is part of the station's plan to make the lineup stronger and improve its relationship with NBC, said Tami Ostmark, KSL-TV's vice president of marketing, research and promotion," the story reports. "KSL is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has not aired certain shows over the years due to content it deems inappropriate. But Ostmark says content was never the issue with 'SNL.' She says the station didn't want to bump a popular sports show that aired at the same time."

NBC released a statement noting that it is pleased with the decision and values its partnership with KSL, the report notes.

The show will air at 10:30 p.m. Saturdays starting Sept. 28. KSL has been airing repeats of "SNL" in an earlier time slot, while first-run episodes have aired on the CW affiliate KUCW in Utah.

"The CW affiliate has been airing NBC's 'Hannibal' since May after KSL dropped it due to graphic and gory content," the story reports. "The station has also been showing 'The New Normal,' a sitcom about a gay couple who invites a surrogate mother into their home, since the fall of 2012.

"KSL executives said the program was inappropriate to air during family viewing time, saying the show's dialogue was excessively crude and that scenes were too explicit."

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Hulu's Owners Extend Deadline to Give One Bidder More Time

News Corp., Walt Disney and Comcast, owners of Hulu, have extended the deadline for second-round bids to allow DirecTV additional time to get its financing in place, reports the New York Post.

DirecTV will likely submit a bid of about $1 billion for the streaming service, the story says. Its rival bidders are Guggenheim Digital Media and Chernin Entertainment in partnership with AT&T.

Meanwhile, KKR and Yahoo! are expected to drop out of race after offering lower bids, between $600 million and $800 million.

The bidders and Hulu declined to comment, the story adds.

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Netflix Picks Up Second Season of Series Before Its First Season Debuts

Weeks before it is set to debut its freshman season on Netflix, the streaming service has picked up a second season of the comedy series "Orange Is the New Black," The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

Netflix asked for 13 additional episodes in a second season from Lionsgate TV. The project is from "Weeds" creator Jenji Kohan, and is based on a memoir from Piper Kerman.

The cast includes Laura Prepon, Taylor Schilling, Jason Biggs and Kate Mulgrew.

The first season will debut July 11.

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ABC Keeping 'Middle Age Rage' Pilot in the Running

The comedy pilot "Middle Age Rage" is still in contention at ABC, with the network extending options on the cast until September, reports Deadline.com.

The project stars Annie Mumolo as a middle-aged wife and mom who, after feeling ignored, starts demanding the respect she thinks she deserves, the story says. The project was created by Cheryl Holliday and received positive reactions when it was delivered to the network.

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'Anger Management' Signs 'Beverly Hills, 90210' Actor

FX's "Anger Management' has cast an actor from "Beverly Hills, 90210" as Charlie Sheen's nemesis. Deadline.com reports that Brian Austin Green is joining the comedy series.

Green, who is known for his role as David Silver on the 1990s drama, appeared previously on the FX show in a guest role as Charlie Goodson's foil, the story says. The character was brought back for two additional episodes, and is now becoming a regular.

Green has also appeared in "Desperate Housewives" and "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles."

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Brian Austin Green

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Has Diddy Won a Spot on 'Downton Abbey'? Spoof by the Hip-Hop Star Wins Over Show's Creator

Hip-hop star Diddy, aka Sean Combs, spoofed the period drama "Downton Abbey" with a Funny or Die skit called "Downton Diddy," and the joke just might get him a role on the actual PBS show, reports The New York Times.

In the spoof, Diddy plays a nobleman named Lord Wolcott, who appears in key scenes of the show, and proclaims himself the new owner of the manor. (To see it, click here.)

In a talk before the spoof, Diddy tells fans, "Yes, I am an Abbey-head." He also tells the Dowager Countess that one of her putdowns was "a little bitchy."

The spoof charmed creator Julian Fellowes, who told The Telegraph that he "absolutely adored" the skit and is considering giving Diddy a cameo role in an episode.

“I’d never say never, though I imagine he’d steal the scene, even if it was a small part,” Fellowes said. Of the skit, he said, "I loved that, I thought it was fabulous."

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Cable MSO Mega Deal in the Works? John Malone, Who Once Built TCI Into the Largest MSO in the U.S., Is Said to Be Behind the Negotiations. It's Just a Question of Money, With a Classic Malone Goal of Paying Little to No Taxes

Cable guru John Malone and his Liberty Media Co. are on the prowl for a cable mega deal, report Alex Sherman and Serena Saitto at Bloomberg.

"Malone is exploring scenarios for how Charter Communications Inc. could acquire Time Warner Cable, even after his initial overtures were rebuffed, according to people familiar with the discussions," the story says, later adding, "In addition, Charter is considering acquiring Cablevision Systems Corp., the fifth-largest provider, two other people said. Such a deal faces its own challenges because it would require support from the Dolan family, which has controlled the company for 40 years. Kelly McAndrew, a spokeswoman for the Bethpage, New York-based Cablevision, declined to comment."

Malone, having spent a large part of his career building TCI into the largest cable operator in the U.S. before selling it to AT&T in 1999, is no stranger to big MSO acquisitions. His interest in doing these deals now stems from the fact that Liberty owns 27% of the MSO Charter Communications.

Notes the article, "Malone said this month at Liberty Media’s shareholder meeting that he saw Charter becoming 'a horizontal acquisition machine. ... The whole name of the game in the cable business is scale,' [added] the 72-year-old Malone.

"Despite the resistance of Time Warner Cable, the second-largest U.S. cable company, Liberty and Charter would like to get a friendly deal done in the coming months, one person said."

Charter, the 4th-largest MSO in the country, is much smaller than Time Warner Cable.

The story adds that among the challenges for Charter and Liberty is the fact "Time Warner Cable isn’t interested in a deal and doesn’t think Liberty and Charter can come up with an offer that’s attractive, according to people familiar with management’s thinking. Acquiring Time Warner Cable would be a challenge for Charter, a much-smaller company whose debt exceeds its $12.5 billion market capitalization. Time Warner Cable, valued at $31.5 billion, also would demand a hefty premium, said Bryan Kraft, an analyst at Evercore Partners Inc. in New York."

Still, not a lot of people have made money betting against Malone over the years. Says the story, "Liberty Media is considering options such as borrowing against its own balance sheet or Time Warner Cable’s assets to raise the cash needed for an offer, two people said. Comcast used a similar strategy to complete its purchase of NBCUniversal from General Electric in 2011."

The Bloomberg story also explains that "after buyng his stake in Charter in May, Malone set out to use the holding to rebuild a U.S. cable empire. He said earlier this month he was interested in both large and small cable acquisitions to give Charter more scale in negotiating programming contracts with content providers such as News Corp., Walt Disney Co. and NBCUniversal.

"Charter is also 'highly motivated' to pursue a merger with Time Warner Cable because it would allow it to increase the net present value of its net operating losses for tax-avoidance purposes, Evercore’s Kraft said. Charter has lost money every year since emerging from bankruptcy in 2009. Time Warner Cable, meanwhile, earned $2.16 billion in net income last year."

The story also notes that "CNBC reported earlier this month that Time Warner Cable discussed merging with Charter, pushing up the stocks of both companies."

We urge you to read more details about this story by clicking on the link in our first paragraph, above, and going to the original article.

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QVC, Which Had Been Weighing What to Do About Paula Deen, Makes a Decision. It's More Bad News for Deen, but There's a Caveat

"QVC CEO Mike George says in a blog post that 'for now' Paula Deen 'won’t be appearing on any upcoming broadcasts and we will phase out her product assortment on our online sales channels over the next few months." reports our good friend David Lieberman at Deadline.com.

The story continues, "The site offers a Deen-branded line of cookware. The shopping channel chief adds that 'People deserve second chances. And we always strive to do the right thing.' ”

The article also notes that following the note written by the QVC CEO, "Deen writes one of her own expressing appreciation for 'the caring way that QVC has interacted with me over the past week.' She also says that she has 'some important things to work on right now, both personally and professionally' and agrees that 'it’s best for me to step back from QVC and focus on setting things right.' Deen says that she is 'truly sorry and assure you I will work hard to earn your forgiveness.'

So QVC's decision is to dump Deen for now, with the proviso that at some point in the future they might decide to do business with her again.

Earlier today,as previously reported, retail giant Target also decided to cut ties with Deen.

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Paula Deen Appearance Shakes Up Morning Ratings

An appearance by a tearful Paula Deen -- caught up in a swirling controversy over her use of the N-word -- shifted the balance of power in the morning ratings Wednesday.

Deadline.com reports that NBC’s “Today” show, where Deen was grilled by Matt Lauer about the scandal, pushed its way past ABC’s “Good Morning America” for the first time since November, during coverage of Hurricane Sandy.

“According to the early calculations, ‘Today’ averaged 4.84 million viewers and ‘GMA’ 4.67 mil.,” the story reports. “To put this in perspective: One day earlier, ‘GMA’ had clocked nearly 800,000 more viewers than ‘Today,’ using the same early measurement system.”

The piece notes that Wednesday’s breaking news of Supreme Court decisions leaves the picture unclear.

“On Wednesday a gigantic live breaking news event -- Supreme Court rulings -- happened at 10 AM-ish ET (7 AM-ish PT), which means the news broke just as the morning infotainment programs were revving up on the West Coast,” the story reports. “Because these Nielsen stats are not program adjusted, there is a chance they could change significantly when final ratings are ready.”

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Another Huge Retailer, Target, Joins Paula Deen Exodus

Paula Deen’s business partners continue to sever ties with the TV chef as she deals with a scandal over her use of the N-word. TheWrap.com reports that two major partners jumped ship today, including retail giant Target.

“A spokeswoman for [Target] told the AP that the [retailer] will phase out Deen's merchandise, which includes cookware.” the story reports. “‘Once the merchandise is sold out, we will not be replenishing inventory,’ the spokeswoman added.”

TheWrap adds: “Over the past week, a number of Deen's business partners have fled from the butter-happy chef, chipping away at her empire by defection. After the Food Network's decision not to renew Deen's contract, Smithfield Foods parted ways with Deen, followed by Caesars Entertainment and Walmart. On Thursday, drug manufacturer Novo Nordisk, which makes the diabetes drug Victoza, which Deen endorses, suspended their relationship.”

Novo Nordisk announced today: "Novo Nordisk and Paula Deen have mutually agreed to suspend our patient education activities for now, while she takes time to focus her attention where it is needed. Novo Nordisk would like to acknowledge Paula’s involvement in our Diabetes in a New Light campaign, where she has helped make many people aware of type 2 diabetes and the lifestyle changes needed to control this serious disease."

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Show of Force by 'Sopranos' Alums at James Gandolfini's Funeral

Stars of the long-running HBO drama “The Sopranos” came out in force today for the funeral of series star James Gandolfini, with the show’s creator David Chase among those eulogizing the actor, Reuters reports.

“Most of the cast of ‘The Sopranos,’ including Edie Falco, who played Tony Soprano's wife, and Michael Imperioli, who played his nephew Christopher Moltisanti, attended the 90-minute ceremony at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in upper Manhattan,” the story reports.

Commenting on the funeral, actor George Loros, who played mobster and FBI informant Ray Curto on “The Sopranos,” said: "It was heaven on earth. You could feel James' presence.”

Describing Gandolfini, Loros added: "He could be talking like you and I are talking right now, and then he could be called to the set and be just brutal (as an actor). He had such a God-given gift."

Gandolfini died a week ago in Rome after suffering a heart attack. He was 51.

“Scores of fans waited in the sweltering heat to get a glimpse of actors Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Chris Noth and Julianna Margulies, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as they entered the cathedral,” Reuters reports. “Other fans managed to get into the funeral service, which was led by the Very Reverend Dr. James A. Kowalski.”

The piece notes: “On Wednesday about 100 people attended a private wake for the actor in New Jersey. Gandolfini, who was raised in a working-class neighborhood, shared Tony Soprano's Italian-American heritage and New Jersey roots.”

Gandolfini, who also appeared on the stage, was honored Wednesday night by Broadway theaters with a dimming of their marquees, the report adds.

“Gandolfini collapsed in the bathroom of his hotel room in Rome while vacationing with his 13-year-old son, Michael. He had been scheduled to attend the closing of the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily. He body was flown to the United States on Sunday,” the Reuters story reports.

“Gandolfini's portrayal of a gangster who ordered hits on his enemies and saw a therapist to talk about his insecurities was the signature role of his career and won him three Emmy Awards as best actor in a drama series. The show ran for six seasons.”

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James Gandolfini

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CBS Mainstay Returns to Lower Viewer Numbers

A long-running CBS series made its season debut to lower viewer numbers Wednesday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the reality mainstay “Big Brother” opened to a 2.1 average rating, equaling its lowest-ever premiere, back in July 2008.

The number was down 19% from the 2.6 delivered by last summer’s “Big Brother” premiere.

Leading out from “Big Brother,” CBS’s “The American Baking Competition” matched last week’s 1.2 in viewers 18-49. A repeat of “Criminal Minds” at 10 p.m. on CBS also had a 1.2.

Fox won the night with back-to-back episodes of “MasterChef.” The 8 p.m. program, airing opposite “Big Brother,” matched the CBS show’s 2.1 average in 18-49, while the 9 p.m. installment of “MasterChef” rose to a 2.4. The two programs were up 5% and 4%, respectively, from a week ago.

NBC aired all repeats, and ABC mixed repeats and originals. An original episode of ABC’s “Family Tools” turned in a series-low 0.7 average in 18-49, falling 22% from a week ago, while the series finale of “How to Live With Your Parents” pulled a 0.9, 10% off from the previous week, and a fresh installment of “The Lookout” on ABC also had a 0.9, a series low and 18% below last week.

For prime-time overall, Fox’s 2.3 average led the way in the 18-49 demo, followed by Univision (1.5), CBS (1.5), NBC (1.0) and ABC (0.9). Fox claimed a narrow win in total viewers, averaging 5.74 million to CBS’s 5.66 million, NBC’s 4.45 million, Univision’s 3.91 million and ABC’s 3.35 million.

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'Felicity' Actor Joins HBO's Ryan Murphy Project

A new Ryan Murphy project in the works at HBO has added an actor known for “Felicity.” Deadline.com reports that Scott Speedman will play one of the lead roles in the drama pilot “Open.”

“The project, which Murphy co-wrote with Lauren Gussis, is described as a modern, provocative exploration of human sexuality and relationships,” Deadline reports. “Speedman will play Jonathan, a handsome sports marketing executive. On ‘Open,’ from Fox 21, he joins Wes Bentley, who was recently cast as the other male lead.”

Speedman, who played Ben Covington on “Felicity,” was seen recently in the ABC drama series “Last Resort.”

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Scott Speedman

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MTV Cancels Series -- Will the Star Be Flipping Burgers Next?

MTV has canceled a series. The cable channel made the decision not to pick up a second season of the freshman comedy "Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous," reports  EW.com's Inside TV.

The show starred comedian Bo Burnham as a teen who wants to become a reality TV star and hires a camera crew, the story notes. Burnham started tweeting fast food restaurants after the cancelation, asking if they were hiring, with Carl's Jr. tweeting back, "Always! How are you in the kitchen?"

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Drummer From Seminal New Wave Band Dies

The drummer for a band that was one of the most important U.S. groups of the new wave movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s has died. Billboard reports that Alan Myers, the third and most prominent drummer for Devo, died after a battle with cancer.

Myers was 58.

"Myers joined Devo in 1976 and left a decade later," the story reports. "He can be heard on the new wave band’s biggest hit, 1980’s 'Whip It,' which reached No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. Myers also appears in the song’s iconic video, joining his bandmates in black, sleeveless turtlenecks, and their trademark headgear, where he is shown playing a set of Synare 3 drum synthesizers."

The report adds: "His style of drumming became near legendary thanks to such seminal albums as Devo’s 1978 debut, 'Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!' And 1980’s 'Freedom of Choice' as well as the concert movie 'Devo Live 1980,' issued by Target Video in 2005."

Devo dabbled in a variety of styles, including punk, post-punk and art rock. Other defining songs from the group's peak period include "Mongoloid," "Jocko Homo," "Girl U Want" and a cover of the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction."

Here's the classic video for "Whip It":

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Two Years Ago Oprah Personally and Unequivocally Said She Would Not Try to Save the Daytime Soaps From Disappearing From the Airwaves. She Now Decides OWN Can Air theTwo Soap Operas

In April 2011, when ABC announced that it was canceling the daytime soap operas "All My Children" and "One Life to Live," Oprah Winfrey, a well-known fan of the genre, was deluged by requests to save the shows by airing them on her Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

In response, Oprah made a video and put it on YouTube in which she addressed the issue. Sitting at her desk and speaking directly to the camera, Oprah said she understood the devastation soap fans felt about the soaps being canceled. Then Oprah said:

Here is the bone-marrow truth. The soaps have been an institution in broadcast history and television because they had the support of the audience. When I first started doing my show, All My Children, General Hospital, were getting double-digit ratings. As those years have passed those double digits have moved to single digits and single digits and single digits, until now, many soaps are not even getting a full single-digit number. Because there are just not enough people who are at home in the daytime to watch them. Because of that, they are going off the air.

Believe me, if there was a dime left to be made from them on broadcast television, it would still be happening.

And so, because all good things come to an end, all things have their time, as do the soaps, as does ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show,’ I will not be taking on the responsibility of trying to revive an institution that for all intent and for all purpose, indicates that that time has come for it to be over. So thank you for believing that I could save them, but I really can’t.

Now, after a rocky two years for OWN, it appears that OWN and Oprah believe there still are a few dimes to be made from the soaps after all.

The channel  announced: "OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network is hosting a summer fling for soap fans as the network has acquired the first 40 episodes of The OnLine Network's reprisal [SIC] of the popular daytime dramas 'All My Children' and 'One Life to Live' for a special exclusive 10-week limited engagement. Half-hour episodes of each show will air Monday through Thursday beginning Monday, July 15, with 'All My Children' at 1 p.m. ET/PT and 'One Life to Live' at 3 p.m. ET/PT only on OWN."

OWN President Erik Logan says in the statement: "These shows have proven to be very popular with a significant, loyal fan base, not to mention Oprah herself is a big fan. Many of our viewers across numerous platforms have expressed their passion for the soaps so we are especially excited to air this limited engagement on OWN."

The announcement made no reference to Oprah's 2011 remarks, nor did OWN say why Oprah changed her mind about OWN airing the soaps.

OWN has removed from YouTube the original video we posted in 2011 that had Oprah's remarks about the soaps, but we were able to find another posting of it on YouTube. Here it is:

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Report: CBS Anchor Scott Pelley Looking for New Producer

CBS News anchor Scott Pelley is reportedly looking for a new executive producer to lift his evening news program from third place, according to the New York Post's Page Six.

Pelley is said to be seeking a replacement for producer Patricia Shevlin in an effort to boost his ratings. A CBS representative said the story was "ridiculous," adding, "Another day, another silly rumor about the fastest-growing evening newscast on broadcast TV.”

The report cites a source saying, “Patricia has been there for a long time and does an outstanding job, but Pelley doesn’t want to be in third.”

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Al Jazeera America in Talks With Soledad O'Brien

Al Jazeera America is in negotiations with Soledad O'Brien's Starfish Media Group about producing long-form programming and other segments for the new cable news network, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

O'Brien formed Starfish Media Group in February when she was leaving CNN's "Starting Point." Her production company will also produce programming for CNN, and has signed a development deal with HBO, the piece adds.

Al Jazeera America is set to debut later this summer.

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Soledad O'Brien

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Emmy-Nominated Comedy Writer Dead at 89

An Emmy-nominated comedy writer who wrote dozens of episodes of the hit late 1970s and 1980s ABC sitcom 'Three's Company" has died. Deadline.com reports that George Burditt was 89.

Burditt, who also served as executive producer of "Three's Company" from 1981-84, earned four Emmy nominations as a writer during the 1970s – two for "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour" and two for "Van Dyke and Company," the piece notes.

Burditt also wrote episodes of other classic comedies, including "All in the Family," "Sanford and Son" and "The Jeffersons." He started in TV after serving in the Marines during World War II and then working for the greeting card company American Greetings.

His son Jack Burditt is an Emmy-winning producer and writer on shows such as "Frasier" and "30 Rock."

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Fox Unveils Fall Schedule, Premiere Dates

Fox has released its fall schedule, and as is typical for the network, it's debuting series both earlier and later than its rivals, reports Zap2It.

Four nights of programming will air before the official start date of the 2013-14 season, which begins Sept. 23. That could help those series draw audiences before Fox's postseason baseball puts the shows on break in October.

Below is the list of fall premieres, with new shows in all caps: 

Wednesday, Sept. 11

8 p.m. "The X Factor"


Thursday, Sept. 12

8 p.m. "The X Factor"


Monday, Sept. 16

8 p.m. "Bones"

9 p.m. "SLEEPY HOLLOW"


Tuesday, Sept. 17

8 p.m. "DADS"

8:30 p.m. "BROOKLYN NINE-NINE"

9 p.m. "New Girl"

9:30 p.m. "The Mindy Project"


Thursday, Sept. 19

9 p.m. "Glee"


Friday, Sept. 27

8 p.m. "MASTERCHEF JUNIOR"


Sunday, Sept. 29

8 p.m. "The Simpsons"

8:30 p.m. "Bob's Burgers"

9 p.m. "Family Guy"

9:30 p.m. "American Dad"


Monday, Nov. 4

8 p.m. "ALMOST HUMAN"


Friday, Nov. 8

8 p.m. "Bones" (new timeslot)

9 p.m. "Raising Hope" (new timeslot)

9:30 p.m. "ENLISTED"

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Rhys Ifans Joins CBS Drama Series

Actor Rhys Ifans, known for his work in feature films including "Notting Hill" and "The Amazing Spider-Man," is joining the cast of the CBS drama series "Elementary" in a recurring role. EW.com's Inside TV reports that the Welsh actor will play Mycroft Holmes, the older brother of detective Sherlock Holmes.

Ifans will first appear in the premiere of the show's second season, which will be shot in England and will air Sept. 26. The episode will feature Sherlock and Joan traveling to London to stay with his older brother, with whom he has had a falling out, while they pursue a case.

Ifans portrayed Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard in "The Amazing Spider-Man" and the messy roommate Spike in the comedy "Notting Hill." A member of the rock group Super Furry Animals, Ifans is also known for playing Nigel Gruff in "The Replacements."

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Rhys Ifans

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CW to Adapt Venezuelan Telenovela

The CW has made one of the first buys for the coming development season, with a project based on a Venezuelan telenovela called "Juana la Virgen," reports Deadline.com.

The CW's "Jane the Virgin" project will be written by Jennie Snyder Urman, the creator of CW's drama series "Emily Owens, MD." Urman will also executive produce, along with Ben Silverman of Electus, Gary Pearl and Jorge Granier.

The project is about Jane, a hard-working and religious young woman who is accidentally artificially inseminated, the story reports.

Silverman has successfully adapted Latin American shows for U.S. audiences, including ABC's "Ugly Betty," which is based on a Colombian telenovela. "Juana la Virgen" was a huge hit in Venezuela, where it drew an average 39.1% share, the piece adds.

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Next on Nik Wallenda's To-Do List: Walk Between Two Iconic New York Skyscrapers

Daredevil Nik Wallenda has his next goal in mind: to walk across a tightrope strung between two New York City landmarks -- the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building, a distance of 4,000 feet, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

However, it doesn't appear as if his dream will come to pass, given that New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has said he won't grant permits to Wallenda.

"It’s dangerous to cross the Grand Canyon, and obviously, there’s water at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Here, we have thousands of New Yorkers," Kelly told New York station WCBS-TV.

Wallenda's walk across a tightrope spanning the Grand Canyon drew 13 million viewers to the Discovery Channel Sunday night.

Wallenda is a member of a dynastic daredevil family, the Flying Wallendas. He's the great-grandson of family patriarch Karl Wallenda, who fell to his death in 1978 in Puerto Rico while attempting a high-wire walk between the towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel.

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HBO Series Adds Ken Marino

Ken Marino of MTV's "The State" and the Starz comedy "Party Down" is joining an HBO series. Deadline.com reports that the actor has been cast in the fourth and final season of the comedy "Eastbound & Down."

His character is Guy Young, a middle-aged athlete who's still partying every weekend, and who will appear in all eight episodes of the upcoming season. The show stars Danny McBride as a self-destructive baseball player, who at the end of the third season made it back to the majors but then faked his own death.

The fourth season will start the action several years later.

Marino also appears in the Adult Swim comedy "Childrens Hospital."

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Ken Marino

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Weekend Event Expected to Attract Fans of 'Bonanza,' 'Battlestar Galactica'

An event scheduled for this Saturday is expected to be a big draw for fans of the TV shows "Bonanza" and "Battlestar Galactica." The event is an auction of show memorabilia and personal items that belonged to actor Lorne Greene, who starred in both shows, the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports.

One item up for auction is a "Bonanza" belt buckle inlaid with a $20 gold coin, which the publication says is now worth $3,000. The buckle was produced by Nevada's Carson City Mint and is expected to sell for $10,000. A single-action Colt rifle that was made for Greene may sell for about $15,000, said auction house co-owner Jeffrey Pilliod.

“I’m guessing 90% of buyers will be 'Bonanza' fans, and the other 10% will be 'Battlestar Galactica' fans,” Pilliod said.

Greene starred in "Bonanza" from 1959-1973 and in "Battlestar Galactica" from 1978 to 1980. He died in 1987 at the age of 72. The auction was arranged by his son, Chuck, who said he had "too much stuff" and wanted to offer some to the public, the story notes.

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Lorne Greene

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More Partners Dump Paula Deen in Wake of 'Today' Appearance

The damage continues to mount for celebrity chef Paula Deen, with more partners dropping out of their deals with her as she struggles through a scandal involving her use of the N-word.

A high-profile interview with Matt Lauer this morning on NBC’s “Today” show, in which Deen broke down and cried, as previously reported, apparently did not help her cause.

Deadline.com reports: “Walmart now has dropped out, potentially costing Paula Deen revenues from a product line that includes eyeglasses, cookware, and baked goods. The retail giant says that it is ‘ending our relationship with Paula Deen Enterprises and we will not place new orders beyond those already committed.’”

The news follows word earlier today that Caesars Entertainment had severed ties with Deen’s company.

Deadline reports that Caesars “says today that it ‘has reached a mutual agreement with Paula Deen Enterprises’ not to renew their deal to operate four Paula Deen-themed buffets. Caesars says it will rebrand the existing ones at Louisville’s Horseshoe Southern Indiana, Memphis’ Harrah’s Tunica, Chicago’s Harrah’s Joliet, and North Carolina’s Harrah’s Cherokee.”

Caesars EVP of Communications and Government Affairs Jan Jones Blackhurst said: “While we appreciate Paula’s sincere apologies for statements she made in her past that she recently disclosed during a deposition given in response to a lawsuit, after thoughtful consideration of their impact, we have mutually decided that it is in the best interests of both parties to part ways at this time.”

Meanwhile, Deadline, citing a report by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, notes that Dean “received statements of support from Epicurean Butter, IQ Craft, Club Marketing Services, Harvest NA, Landies Candies, and Sandridge Food.”

Deadline adds: “The statement from Tasty Blend Foods praised Deen’s ‘commitment and how she stepped up and apologized to her viewers, fans and the nation. We personally endorse Paula Deen and what she stands for. We are very saddened that she is being judged by her past, everyone has made a mistake sometime in their lives.’”

The latest word from QVC remains that the company is reviewing its business relationship with Deen, as previously reported.

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Oprah's Back on Top: Winfrey Reclaims a Title She Held in the Past Before Losing It for a Couple of Years

We don’t know whether Oprah Winfrey pays attention to these things, but word comes today that she is back on top of the Forbes Celebrity 100, which ranks the most powerful celebrities.

Forbes took the wraps off the list today, and after two years at No. 2, Winfrey is back in the spot that she owned in previous years: No. 1.

“Winfrey remains a powerful force in Hollywood,” Forbes reports. “Her Oprah Winfrey Network, once a drifting cable outpost that lost an estimated $330 million for parent company Discovery between 2008 and the end of 2012, is now a smoothish-running media machine that could turn a profit by the end of 2013.”

The list is based not on earnings or net worth, the basis of other Forbes lists, but on a combination of factors including fame and marketability. This year’s Top 10 is dominated by women.

“Even without her eponymous daytime talk show, Winfrey made an estimated $77 million between June 2012 and June 2013, down from last year’s $165 million,” Forbes reports. “While she wasn’t the highest earner on our list, her money, mixed with strong fame scores in metrics like press mentions and social networking power, pushed her to the top.”

Coming in at No. 2 on the list is Lady Gaga, followed by Steven Spielberg at No. 3. Rounding out the top five are Beyonce Knowles at No. 4 and Madonna at No. 5.

The rest of the Top 10 consists of Taylor Swift at No. 6, Bon Jovi at No. 7, Roger Federer at No. 8, Justin Bieber at No. 9 and Ellen DeGeneres at No. 10.

Jennifer Lopez, who topped last year's list, fell to No. 12 this time around.

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CNN Bringing Back a Show From Its Past - With a Lineup of New Hosts That Includes Newt Gingrich

CNN announced today that it is bringing back a show that was a staple on the cable news channel in the past. The network made official what has been expected for a couple of months: It’s resurrecting “Crossfire.”

Hosts for the new edition of the debate program will be Newt Gingrich and S.E. Cupp on the right and Stephanie Cutter and Van Jones on the left. CNN televised the previous version of “Crossfire” from 1982 to 2005.

Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide, said in a statement: “Few programs in the history of CNN have had the kind of impact on political discourse that ‘Crossfire’ did -- it was a terrific program then, and we believe the time is right to bring it back and do it again. We look forward to the opportunity to host passionate conversation from all sides of the political spectrum. Crossfire will be the forum where America holds its great debates.”

All four hosts will also appear on other CNN programming and will take part in coverage of elections and other political events, the network said.

Ken Jautz, executive vice president of CNN, said in the announcement: “Following the successful launches of ‘Around the World,’ ‘The Lead with Jake Tapper,’ and ‘New Day,’ we felt it was the right time to turn our attention next to ‘Crossfire.’ This will be the next step in reinvigorating our lineup of live programs.”

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NBC Show Hits Season Low in Tuesday Overnights

A key NBC show dipped to a season low Tuesday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the network’s two-hour installment of “America’s Got Talent” settled for a 2.6 average rating, losing 13% from a week ago.

But even with rival reality shows seeing improved numbers on Fox and ABC, the turnout for “Talent” was enough to deliver a prime-time win for NBC. It helped that CBS was in all repeats Tuesday night.

NBC opened prime time with two editions of “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers,” and both the repeat episode at 8 p.m. and a new installment at 8:30 delivered 1.1 averages in viewers 18-49.

Fox’s two-hour “So You Think You Can Dance” rose 14% from last week to a 1.6 in the 18-49 demo. ABC’s “Extreme Weight Loss” also improved, rising 20% from its previous original to a 1.2.

NBC found itself comfortably ahead for prime time overall with a 2.1 average in adults 18-49, followed by Fox (1.6 average), Univision (1.5), ABC (1.0) and CBS (0.9). NBC also won total viewers, averaging 8.0 million to lead CBS (6.4 million), Fox (4.4 million), Univision (3.8 million) and ABC (3.5 million).

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Can Disney Bring Back the Cool to Beach Party Films?

Disney Channel is bringing back a movie genre that hasn't been popular since today's grandparents were teens: the beach party film, reports The New York Times.

"Teen Beach Movie" is slated for a marketing push that's on par with the network's successful "High School Musical" series, the piece notes.

"But will Disney’s efforts result in a franchise-spawning hit? Or will 'Teen Beach Movie' and its surfing, singing, super-silly characters end up, well, high and dry?," the story asks.

"We will find out," Disney Channels Worldwide President Gary Marsh told The Times. "We’re certainly rolling the dice to some degree.”

Beach party movies, such as "Beach Blanket Bingo," were popular from about 1959 to the mid-1960s, when social change altered young moviegoers' tastes.

"With all of the social upheaval, these films became impossible to sell by about 1970,” Jeanine Basinger, the chairwoman of Wesleyan University’s film studies department, told the newspaper. “The wholesome, innocent, endless summers became utterly unrelatable.”

In Disney Channel's take on the genre, two modern-day teens are transported into "Wet Side Story," a 1962 film about surfers versus bikers, the story says. The characters in the film within the film welcome the travelers.

The movie will air July 19.

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Polarizing Media Figure Comes to Paula Deen's Defense

A prominent media figure who tends to polarize viewers has come out in defense of Paula Deen as the TV chef endures a scandal over her use of the N-Word.

Conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck expressed support for Deen during his Web broadcast Wednesday in a "lengthy tirade," reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

Beck, dressed in a quasi-military outfit, compared Deen's situation to the plight of historical figures such as Christopher Columbus and Martin Luther King Jr.

"Where would the world be if Columbus and Magellan and other world explorers believed conventional wisdom and believed the world was flat. … Where would we be if Martin Luther King didn’t speak and challenge segregation? Where would we be if everyone in the world thought in the box?” he asked.

He described her use of the N-word as a "violation of political correctness, nothing more” and suggested Deen is the victim of "McCarthyism."

"How can people advance if we suppress any thought?” Beck asked. He added, “I’m not putting the N-word into any category of great thought.”

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Ad Magnate Charles Saatchi, Husband of TV Chef Nigella Lawson, Offers Bizarre -- and Gross -- Explanation for Choking Incident

Charles Saatchi, the husband of television chef Nigella Lawson, has given a bizarre explanation – and a gross one -- for an incident in which he grabbed his wife's throat at an outdoor restaurant, reports the British newspaper The Sun.

Saatchi claims he was trying to pick out some "snot" from her nose. "Even domestic goddesses sometimes have a bit of snot in their nose. I was trying to fish it out," he said. During the incident, he also jabbed at her nose.

Pictures of the incident surfaced in the media earlier this month, creating a flurry of domestic violence accusations, as previously reported.

Lawson reportedly plans to spend some time in the U.S., where she will film a series called "The Taste" in Los Angeles, the story adds.

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Breaking National News: Supreme Court Declares Federal Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional; Two Key Decisions Back Same-Sex Marriage

"The Supreme Court struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act on Wednesday and declared that same-sex couples who are legally married deserve equal rights to the benefits under federal law that go to all other married couples," reports the Los Angeles Times.

The story continues, "The decision is a landmark win for the gay rights movement. It voids a section of the law known as DOMA, which was adopted with bipartisan support in Congress in 1996 to deny all benefits and recognition to same-sex couples. At that time, no state permitted gays and lesbians to marry. Now, 12 states and the District of Columbia authorize same-sex marriages."

In a separate decision today, another report in the Los Angeles Times says, "The Supreme Court cleared the way Wednesday for same-sex marriages to resume in California as the justices, in a procedural ruling, turned away the defenders of Proposition 8.

"Chief Justice John Roberts, speaking for the 5-4 majority, said the private sponsors of Prop. 8 did not have legal standing to appeal after the ballot measure was struck down by a federal judge in San Francisco."

This report also says, "Last fall, the high court agreed to hear a last-chance appeal from the sponsors of [Proposition 8] the 2008 ballot measure that limited marriage to the union of a man and a woman.

"Federal courts in San Francisco had struck down the measure on the grounds that it unfairly discriminated against gays and lesbians who wished to marry.

"Usually, the governor and state’s lawyers defend state laws in federal court, but both Gov. Jerry Brown and Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris refused to defend Prop. 8. Several sponsors of the ballot measure stepped in to defend the law, but there were questions about whether they had legal standing to represent the state in court."

The Supreme Court today ruled that they did not have that legal standing.

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CNN Slammed for Airing Blueberry Muffin Segment Instead of Filibuster Coverage

CNN is coming under fire for its editorial choices Tuesday night. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the cable news channel was lambasted by viewers on Twitter, who took issue with the network's failure to cover a nearly 11-hour filibuster by Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis.

Interest in the filibuster was intense online, with the Texas Tribune streaming coverage to as many as 100,000 viewers at its peak, the story says. Davis was seeking to block stringent anti-abortion legislation.

But many critics slammed cable networks – including Fox News and MSNBC -- for failing to cover the filibuster properly, with CNN particularly coming under attack. It was mocked for a segment featuring Piers Morgan discussing the calories in a blueberry muffin with Dr. Drew Pinsky, the piece notes.

Actress Mia Farrow was one of the people who drubbed CNN, writing, "You are a disgrace @CNN u cannot call yourself a news channel."

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Legal Setback for 'Good Wife' Star

"The Good Wife" star Julianna Margulies was handed a legal setback when a judge denied her motion for a summary judgment in a case filed by her former manager, Steve Dontanville, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

His firm sued the actress last year, claiming that she owned the firm for commissions on "The Good Wife," and is seeking at least $420,000. The judge rejected her argument that the agreement with Dontanville's firm wasn't valid because it wasn't in writing.

If Margulies doesn't settle out of court, the case may go to trial this year, the story adds.

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Fresh Off a Big Haul at Daytime Emmys, 'Sesame Street' Producer Cuts Staff

Sesame Workshop, the producer of "Sesame Street," is trimming its staff, just two weeks after the show earned six Daytime Emmy Awards. According to The Hollywood Reporter the company is cutting staff by 10%.

The cuts come after previous reductions in the spring of 2012, the story notes.

"After careful review, we have concluded that we must reduce our workforce by approximately 10% to strategically focus our resources," a representative said. "We remain optimistic about our future and remain committed to our mission of helping children reach their highest potential here and around the globe.”

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Mike Tyson's One-Man Show Coming to HBO, Directed by Spike Lee. This Report at Deadline.com Written by New Major TV Columnist Hired by the Site

"HBO has bought TV rights to Mike Tyson’s one-man show, 'Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth,' to be directed by Spike Lee," reports Deadline.com.

The story continues, "HBO Films will film the show in July for debut on HBO later in the year. The stage production features 'Iron Mike' recounting his life’s highs and lows in his signature candid style."

The byline of the story reads someone new to Deadline.com,  Lisa de Moraes, TV Columnist. Earlier Deadline said that it has hired de Moraes, noting that she is "the hugely respected and popular Washington Post journalist who for 15 years wrote the well sourced and widely read ‘The TV Column’ several times a week. Effective immediately, de Moraes becomes Deadline.com’s TV Columnist, covering the business of TV with her deep sources and outstanding knowledge and unusual fearlessness."

The announcement of de Moraes, long a good friend of TVWeek, also notes: "Before joining The Washington Post in 1998, de Moraes served for nearly 10 years as Television Editor for The Hollywood Reporter."

De Moraes lived primarily in the Washington, D.C., area when working for The Post. She has moved to Los Angeles for her new position with Deadline.com.

De Moraes joins Deadline's TV editor Nellie Andreeva in covering the TV beat for the site.

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Second 'Downton Abbey' Actress Cast in New 'Cinderella'

A second actress from the PBS period drama "Downton Abbey" has been cast in Disney's remake of "Cinderella." Deadline.com reports that Sophie McShera, who plays Daisy on “Downton Abbey,” will be an evil stepsister in the new production.

Her casting follows the casting of "Downton" actress Lily James as Cinderella. James plays Lady Rose MacClare in the PBS show's most recent season.

Filming on the “Cinderella” project is set for September, after the fourth season of "Downton" is taped in August. The Disney film will be released March 13, 2015, and also stars Cate Blanchett as the vindictive Lady Tremaine and Richard Madden, who plays Robb Stark on "Game of Thrones," as Prince Charming.

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Sophie McShera

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Amazon and Netflix Continue to Battle Over Kids Viewing

Amazon "has added a bunch of new kids shows from PBS to its Prime Instant Video collection. So if you’re a Prime member, you can now stream shows 'Caillou' and 'Dinosaur Train' for free," writes Peter Kafka at the website All Things D.

Not to be outdone, Kafka notes that Netflix "is adding 'Mako Mermaids,' which Netflix says is a spinoff of something called 'H2O -- Just Add Water,' which Netflix says is a 'Global Smash Hit Series' for 8- to 12-year-olds. Which I cannot verify because my kids are still in their 'Dinosaur Train' phase."

Kafka also writes, "The main difference in the two announcements, which come within a day of each other, is that Amazon’s newest programs aren’t exclusive to the service, but Netflix’s new programming is. The main point: Both of the streaming services are pushing hard to play up their utility as cheap/free babysitting services."

The article also notes, "Last month, Netflix added a new slug of Disney shows; a few weeks after that, Amazon added a bunch of Viacom shows that Netflix used to have."

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USA Orders Two More Episodes of Detective Series, Will Ask Fans to Pick Storyline

USA Network is ordering two additional episodes for the upcoming eighth season of the comedy-drama detective series "Psych," bringing what will likely be its final season to 10 episodes, reports Deadline.com.

For one of the extra episodes, USA Network will ask fans to pick from three episodic storylines. The one with the most votes will be produced, with the winner to be announced at the "Psych" Comic-Con panel July 18.

The other additional episode will be picked by USA executives from among five extra scripts, the piece adds.

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Syfy Pushes Back Jamie Foxx Horror Series

Oscar winner Jamie Foxx won't see his five-episode horror anthology Syfy series air before Halloween this year, reports Deadline.com.

The series has been postponed for what's said to be scheduling reasons, although no new target date has been set. Foxx, who is writing and directing the series and was considering guest appearances, has been promoting his new movie "White House Down" and is expected to talk with Syfy executives about the show after the film opens Friday, the piece adds.

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Dr. Oz Magazine to Launch

Hearst Corp. is working with Dr. Mehmet Oz "to create a new women’s lifestyle magazine devoted to healthy living the Oz way," reports MediaPost's Media Daily News.

The article continues, "The magazine, which has yet to receive a title, will target women with content about well-being, food, beauty, real-life stories, news, travel and finances -- all delivered with Oz’s friendly persona. The magazine will launch with two pilot issues in the first half of 2014, with the possibility of a regular publication schedule in the second half of the year."

The story continues, "The first pilot issue will have a newsstand distribution of 350,000, while another 450,000 copies will be sent to subscribers of other Hearst publications."

Adds the article, "The new magazine will have cross-promotional opportunities with Oz’s nationally syndicated TV show, 'The Dr. Oz Show,' which is carried by 18 Hearst TV stations around the U.S. Oz rocketed to fame as a frequent guest on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show,' beginning in 2004, which led to numerous other TV appearances and eventually his own TV show. He also has regular columns in Time and O, The Oprah Magazine. The latter is also published by Hearst."

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Non-TV Story: L.A. Becomes Biggest City in U.S. to Ban Plastic Bags. Two Billion Plastic Bags are Used Annually By Angelenos

"The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday gave its final approval to an ordinance that requires Los Angeles to ban single-use plastic bags," reports the website of CBS Los Angeles.

The story continues, "The ordinance, which will prohibit large stores grossing more than $2 million a year from handing out plastic grocery bags, will take effect Jan. 1, 2014. It will go into effect [six months later for smaller] stores that carry limited groceries, including liquor stores and independent markets."

The article adds, "Under the law, customers will be required to provide personal reusable bags when visiting stores or pay 10 cents per paper bag."

The story notes that "Nearly two billion single-use plastic bags and 400 million paper bags are distributed annually in Los Angeles, according Heal the Bay, a non-profit environmental organization.

"Los Angeles, which is the largest city in the country to ban plastic bags, spends about $2 million a year cleaning up litter related to the non-biodegradable bags. Similar bans are already in effect for West Hollywood, Laguna Beach, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Manhattan Beach and several cities in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County."

 

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Anne Rice, Best-Selling Author of 'Interview with the Vampire,' Says Paula Deen is Being 'Crucified.' And Rice Says She Had Never Heard of Deen Until This Current Controversy

"Anne Rice, the author of 'Interview With the Vampire' and two books about the life of Jesus Christ, had never heard of celebrity chef Paula Deen until last Friday, but she believes the TV personality is being 'crucified,' reports the Los Angeles Times.

The story continues, "Rice wrote a brief defense of Deen on her Facebook page on Friday, then engaged in further discussion with her fans, many of whom wrote to express their dismay that Rice would defend the chef."

The article says that Rice wrote, "I never heard of her until today, and wow, this looks like a crucifixion. I may be wrong but aren't we becoming something of a lynch mob culture?"

The story adds, "When an African American educator from the South wrote to share her disappointment that Rice would be a defender of Deen, the author didn't back down. 'I'm sorry to disappoint you but I think she's being crucified,' [Rice] wrote. 'The lawsuit is ugly all right, and the brother of Paula Dean comes off as a detestable person. But I don't think Paula Deen should go down over this. I think it's unfair.' "

According to her website, Rice was born in New Orleans in 1941 and lived there for 17 years before moving to Texas. From 1962 to 1988 she lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, and then moved back to New Orleans. She returned to California in 2005.

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The Good News for Los Angeles Is That TV Pilots Generated Close to $300 Million in Production Spending this Year. But There's Also Bad News for L.A. About the Pilot Season

There's good news and bad news for Los Angeles about this year's TV pilot season, reports Dave McNary in Variety.

On the good news side of the ledger the article states, "The 96 TV pilots shot in Los Angeles this year generated $277.8 million in production spending, up 6% over last year, according to the FilmL.A. permitting agency."

On the bad news front, the story notes, "Hollywood’s share of pilots has been declining with just 52% of all pilots in the current cycle, the second lowest on record and far below the 82% percent share in 2007."

Back to the good news: "FilmLA said the 96 projects were the second largest annual tally in Los Angeles’ history, up four from last year and six fewer that the peak year in 2005. It also noted that from Jan. 1 to June 10 this year, permitted production days for pilots were up almost 40% over 2012."

And on the negative side, "“By the beginning of the 2013/2014 fall viewing season, L.A.’s share of network screen time devoted to primetime scripted dramas will have fallen below 40%, a new low,” the report noted. “In all, viewers this fall will be exposed to 38 L.A.-based shows (15 dramas, 23 comedies). And viewers will also be exposed to 27 shows filmed outside the region (26 dramas, 1 comedy). Come mid-season, L.A.’s drama share could be even smaller, since just one L.A. show was picked up as a midseason replacement.”

The story also notes, "“By the beginning of the 2013/2014 fall viewing season, L.A.’s share of network screen time devoted to primetime scripted dramas will have fallen below 40%, a new low,” the report noted. “In all, viewers this fall will be exposed to 38 L.A.-based shows (15 dramas, 23 comedies). And viewers will also be exposed to 27 shows filmed outside the region (26 dramas, 1 comedy). Come mid-season, L.A.’s drama share could be even smaller, since just one L.A. show was picked up as a midseason replacement.”

To read more details we urge you to click on the link in our first paragraph, above, to read McNary's excellent full article.

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NBC Hits Five-Month Ratings Highs, Soars 58% vs. Last Year in Prime Time

NBC announced that its ratings reached five-month highs, both in adults 18-49 and in total viewers, for the week of June 17-23.

The network averaged a 1.9 rating (6 share) in the 18-49 demo and 6.7 million total viewers in prime time for the week, its best numbers since the week of Jan. 7-13, when it got help from an NFL Wild Card Game that aired in prime time.

The network was up 58% from the same week last year in the 18-49 demo (up from a 1.2 average rating) and up 47% in total viewers (6.7 million vs. 4.6 million), based on “live plus same day” figures from Nielsen Media Research. .

“Tuesday’s finale of ‘The Voice,’ Monday’s last ‘Voice’ competition episode and Tuesday’s ‘America’s Got Talent’ are the week’s #1, 2 and 3 non-sports telecasts respectively on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox in adults 18-49, and those three shows are also top-rated on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox for the week in total viewers, adults 18-34, adults 25-54, kids 2-11 and teens 12-17,” the network announced. “Monday’s preview of ‘The Winner Is…’ was #7 for the week among non-sports programs in adults 18-49.”

Even with tough competition from ABC’s coverage of the NBA Finals this year, the finale of “The Voice” equaled the show’s year-ago finale in the 18-49 demo (4.4 each).

In total viewers, the finale of “The Voice” was the show’s biggest finale ever, riding 31% from a year ago (15.6 million vs. 11.9 million).

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Big Premiere for New CBS Drama

A new CBS drama series bowed to a big viewer turnout Monday night, despite opening against game six of the Stanley Cup Finals. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the series premiere of “Under the Dome” at 10 p.m. delivered a 3.2 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights.

The program also attracted 13.14 million total viewers, far more than anything else on broadcast Monday night.

The turnout in viewers 18-49 represented a 68% improvement over CBS’s most recent summer drama premiere, “Flashpoint,” in 2008, which opened with a 1.9 average. The number for “Under the Dome” was also much stronger than the 1.8 for the season premiere of “Hawaii Five-0” back in September. And it was the highest number for a CBS summer premiere since “Fire Me Please” also delivered a 3.2 in 2005.

The 3.2 for “Under the Dome” matched NBC’s 3.2 average in 18-49 for game six of the Stanley Cup Finals, which turned out to be the series finale as the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup by dispatching the Boston Bruins. NBC coasted to a win for the night in viewers 18-49, while CBS, which filled out the rest of its prime-time lineup with repeats, still took a narrow win in total viewers.

NBC’s Stanley Cup game was up a whopping 94% from the equivalent number for game six a year ago. The report notes that the numbers are subject to more than the usual adjustments due to the nature of live sports programming.

ABC’s two-hour “The Bachelorette” rose 12% from last week to a 1.9 in adults 18-49, while “Mistresses” slipped 8% to a series-low 1.1.

Fox put up only one fresh program, “The Goodwin Games,” which ticked up 20% from last week to a 0.6 average in 18-49.

For prime time overall, NBC’s 3.1 average rating led the way in viewers 18-49, followed by CBS’s 2.1, ABC’s 1.6, Univision’s 1.4 and Fox’s 0.6. CBS topped its rivals in total viewers with 8.2 million, followed by NBC (7.9 million), ABC (5.5 million), Univision (3.6 million) and Fox (1.7 million).

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Veteran TV and Film Actor Dead at 93

An actor who built a durable career over six decades in film and television has died. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Elliott Reid, known for the feature films “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and “The Absent-Minded Professor,” died of heart failure Friday at 93 at an assisted-living facility in Studio City, Calif.

“Reid starred opposite Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ and alongside Fred MacMurray in ‘The Absent-Minded Professor,’” the piece reports. “He also had roles in ‘Son of Flubber’ and ‘Inherit the Wind’ and appeared in episodes of ‘I Love Lucy,’ ‘Perry Mason’ and ‘Murder, She Wrote,’ among others.”

Reid’s other TV appearances included “Seinfeld,” “All in the Family” and “Barney Miller.” He was also a writer, and was nominated for a Writers Guild of America award for an episode of “After MASH” in 1985.

Early in his career he was well-known for his work on radio, including the series “Suspense.” He was also a stage performer and a member of Orson Welles’ Mercury Theater.

elliott-reid.jpgElliott Reid

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OWN Doubles Down on Tyler Perry Series

Oprah Winfrey’s OWN cable network is doubling down on Tyler Perry. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel has doubled its order for Perry’s “Haves and the Have Nots.”

OWN reportedly ordered 16 more episodes of the rookie drama series, which is produced by Perry. The order brings the total for season one to 32 episodes.

The show’s May 28 premiere was OWN’s highest-rated series premiere ever, the piece notes.

“The series about the rich Cryer family and their hired help garnered 1.77 million viewers (1.57 in women 25-54) at 9 p.m. and another 1.8 million (1.67 in women 25-54) for its second original episode at 10 p.m. in late May,” the piece reports.

In a statement, OWN President Sheri Salata said: “Naturally, it is wonderful to have the network’s first scripted series score so resoundingly. Tyler’s fans and OWN viewers have responded to this guilty pleasure in record numbers, and we are happy to give them more of a good thing.”

The new episodes will premiere in early 2014.

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CBS Goes Back to the Drawing Board, Orders New Pilot for Comedy Project

CBS is rethinking a new comedy project and has ordered a new pilot. Deadline.com reports that the network is converting "The McCarthys" from a single-camera project into a multicamera project.

Discussions are under way with potential cast members about joining the new pilot, the story notes. The project is about the gay son of a sports-focused Boston family whose biggest point of conflict isn't his sexual orientation but his need for space from his family.

The project, which was written and co-executive produced by Brian Gallivan, was in serious consideration for a series order this season.

Along with "The McCarthys" getting another chance, CBS is also talking with Sony TV about retooling a single-camera comedy from Jim Gaffigan and Peter Tolan, the piece adds.

The story notes that CBS has a strong track record when it comes to re-piloting comedies. “'The Big Bang Theory' started off with a pass for the original pilot, but the reworked second pilot spawned the blockbuster series,” the piece reports.

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Report: CBS Anchor Pelley Sent to DC Bureau to Make Amends With Staffers

CBS News anchor Scott Pelley was reportedly sent to the network's Washington, D.C., bureau to make amends for rubbing staffers the wrong way, according to the New York Post's Page Six.

One issue was an incident in which Pelley allegedly lost his temper at CBS News employees when his colleague John Miller broke the news about the State Department sex scandal on "CBS This Morning," instead of on Pelley's evening newscast, the story says.

Pelley told the Post he didn't have a meltdown over the news report. He added, "You wouldn’t last 10 seconds at CBS News. This is not how reporters do their job. You called my publicist but not me in my office?”

The Post writes that when its reporter called Pelley to ask about the trip to D.C., he was told to call a publicist. The representative said, "Scott is often in Washington, was a correspondent there for many years, and talks all the time with members of the team.”

Thumbnail image for scott-pelley.jpgScott Pelley

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MSNBC Apologizes Over George Zimmerman Trial Coverage

MSNBC offered an apology in connection with its live coverage of opening arguments in the George Zimmerman murder trial. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel apologized for airing live F-bombs during the coverage.

Zimmerman is being tried in connection with the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.

The NBCUniversal cable network had vowed to go live "as news warrants," the story notes. No delay was in place when prosecutor John Guy began with a quote from Zimmerman, saying, "F---ing punks. These assholes always get away.”

Chuck Todd, host of MSNBC's "The Daily Rundown," immediately apologized and said the network would use a delay going forward.

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Paula Deen's Business Empire Continues to Crumble

The business empire built up by polarizing TV chef Paula Deen continues to crumble as the scandal over her use of the N-word takes its toll. In the latest development, QVC says it is reviewing its business relationship with the television chef, reports Deadline.com.

As previously reported, Smithfield Foods severed its ties with Deen after she said in a court deposition that she had used racial epithets. Deen was fired late last week by Food Network, where she was one of its biggest stars.

Deadline notes, "It increasingly looks that, if the celebrity chef wants to save her multimillion-dollar licensing and endorsement empire, she needs to do it on NBC’s 'Today' show this Wednesday."

Deen abruptly canceled an appearance on "Today" last week as the scandal was brewing, apparently angering Matt Lauer and other “Today” personalities. But Deen rescheduled yesterday and is expected to address the controversy on Wednesday morning’s show.

The television chef booked about $9.9 million in 2010 from speaking engagements, licensing agreements, television and other deals, the story notes.

Deen has released a number of videos apologizing over the incident. Here’s one that surfaced a few days ago:

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'Star Wars' Creator George Lucas Marries CBS News Contributor

"Star Wars" creator George Lucas got married Saturday, wedding his longtime girlfriend. TVNewser reports that Lucas married CBS News contributor Mellody Hobson, with PBS star Bill Moyers officiating.

Hobson and Lucas have been dating since 2006 and became engaged in January, shortly before she signed on with CBS News, the story notes.

The pair attended the Daytime Emmy Awards a week before their marriage, with Lucas winning his first Emmy for the animated show "Star Wars: The Clone Wars."

mellody-hobson-george-lucas.jpg

Mellody Hobson and George Lucas

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Comedy Series to Feature 'Happy Days' Reunion

A mini-"Happy Days" reunion in the works for a cable comedy series. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Scott Baio's Nick at Nite comedy series "See Dad Run" booked an appearance by “Happy Days” creator Garry Marshall.

Baio's career started on "Happy Days" when Marshall cast him as Fonzie's younger cousin, Chachi Arcola, the story notes. The episode of “See Dad Run” in which Marshall will appear in is directed by his son, Scott Marshall, the piece adds.

Garry Marshall will play the TV dad to Baio's character. Marshall’s character is a former ladies’ man who wants to settle down now that he's in his 70s, the story adds.

The episode will be taped this week on Paramount's Stage 19, the same soundstage where "Happy Days" was taped during its run, the piece notes.

“See Dad Run” debuted in October 2012 and is in its second season on Nick at Nite.

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CW Releases Fall Schedule, With Shows Rolling Out Over Two Weeks

The CW released its fall schedule, with the network rolling out new and returning programs over two weeks in October, similar to its strategy last year, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

"Hart of Dixie" will start off the new season Oct. 7, while "The Carrie Diaries" will mark the end of the fall rollout on Oct. 25, the story notes.

Below is the fall schedule, with series premieres marked with asterisks:


Monday, Oct. 7

"Hart of Dixie," 8-9 p.m. ET

"Beauty and the Beast," 9-10 p.m. ET

Wednesday, Oct. 9

"Arrow," 8-9 p.m. ET

*"The Tomorrow People," 9-10 p.m. ET

Thursday, Oct. 10

"The Vampire Diaries," 8-9 p.m. ET

*"Reign," 9-10 p.m. ET

Tuesday, Oct. 15

*"The Originals," 8-9 p.m. ET

"Supernatural," 9-10 p.m. ET

Friday, October 25

"The Carrie Diaries," 8-9 p.m. ET

"America's Next Top Model: Guys and Girls," 9-10 p.m. ET

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In Warner Bros. Shuffle, TV and Movies Now Report to One Executive

With Warner Bros. film chief Jeff Robinov leaving the company and a shakeup in the company’s television unit, both sides of the business will now report to one executive, Kevin Tsujihara, who was recently appointed chief executive, reports The New York Times.

The changes in the Warner Bros. power structure represent a move from its long-standing practice of relying on separate movie and TV presidents to run those businesses, the story notes.

"Less than four months after taking over for Barry Meyer, Mr. Tsujihara, 48, will now have a half-dozen TV and movie executives reporting directly to him," The Times reports.

The report adds: "Warner said in an e-mail to employees on Monday that Mr. Robinov, who has been president of the studio’s movie operation, would “no longer serve” in that role. Four of Mr. Robinov’s lieutenants -- Toby Emmerich, Dan Fellman, Sue Kroll and Greg Silverman -- will instead begin reporting to Mr. Tsujihara."

The executive changes are likely more than simply a stopgap, even though the moves were quickly put into place after Robinov signaled he would be leaving, The Times notes. The report adds that the circumstances around Robinov's departure are "still unclear."

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Analysis: After a Disruptive Executive Shakeout, Will Warner Bros. Finally Stabilize?

Jeff Robinov’s exit as boss of Warner Bros.’ film operation appears to be the final chapter in what has been a disruptive executive shakeout for the media giant, TheWrap.com reports in a piece that poses the question of whether things are finally ready to stabilize.

The “corporate bake-off” for the studio’s top position, the piece says, “left nearly everyone close to the competition burned.”

Brent Lang & Lucas Shaw write: “When Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes picked Kevin Tsujihara to run Warner Bros. in January, it should have ended any questions about who was in charge. Instead, it led to months of instability at a studio known for steady transfers of power.

“And in the end, it hasn’t made Bewkes look particularly deft.”

Robinov and TV boss Bruce Rosenblum -- the two candidates who didn’t get the job -- both left the company after grumbling about how things went down, the piece notes.

The report quotes Michael Yoshikami, founder and CEO of Destination Wealth Management, saying: "It was distracting. I was surprised [Bewkes] used this strategy. I can’t think of a situation where this approach has led to a positive outcome. It creates a situation where it’s difficult for people to work together."

The focus now is on what happens moving forward, the report notes.

“As public as Robinov’s fight with upper management became, some expect it to now quiet down and return to normal,” the story reports, quoting one Warner Bros. executive saying: “Everyone was anticipating large fallout with a greater staffing shuffle.”

However, some observers fear that the new structure, with three veteran execs essentially taking over from Robinov, might create further dysfunction, the story says.

“Sue Kroll will be running marketing and distribution; Greg Silverman overseeing production; and Toby Emmerich, continuing to head New Line,” the piece notes. “But since no one is taking Robinov’s position as studio chief, that may well create its own competitive dynamic among a trio of ambitious executives. All three will report to Tsujihara.”

One industry executive who works closely with the studio indicated that may not be a problem, telling TheWrap: “They aren’t really threats to one another. Sue Kroll and Greg and Toby all want to rule the world or they wouldn’t be in those jobs, but they also all know they can have power in their respective lanes. Both Toby and Greg need Sue Kroll to market their movies.”

The report adds: “Tsujihara has created the same structure -- and potentially the same internal tensions -- on the television side. A trio of longstanding executives have replaced Rosenblum: Peter Roth serves as president and chief content officer; Craig Hunegs is president of business and strategy; and Jeffrey Schlesinger is now president of television distribution.”

Sounding a partially optimistic note was Hal Vogel, CEO of Vogel Capital Management, who “told TheWrap that the current structure could work if all of the executives are given narrowly defined portfolios and stick to them, but said that he did not believe having three or more people in control of an institution works smoothly over the long run.”

Said Vogel: "Corporate politics, and especially the version of corporate politics in Hollywood, evolves in the same way as in the animal kingdom. More power will eventually accrue more to one person than the others."

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Discovery Draws 13 Million Viewers to Nik Wallenda's Grand Canyon Walk

Discovery Channel drew about 13 million people to the live broadcast Sunday evening of Nik Wallenda's “Skywire” tightrope walk across the Grand Canyon, The New York Times reports.

Nothing else on TV that night came close to matching the size of the audience for “Skywire,” the story adds.

"The ratings for Mr. Wallenda’s walk across the gorge were more or less equal to the ratings on the night last year when he walked across Niagara Falls. That stunt, televised by ABC, peaked around 13.1 million viewers, setting a nearly five-year record for the broadcast network," the piece points out.

Wallenda turned to Discovery for his latest stunt because it allowed him to walk across the Grand Canyon without a safety harness, something that ABC insisted he wear, the piece points out.

Social media and online distribution played a big part in the event, as previously reported, with 1.5 million streams reported on Discovery.com and 40,000 tweets per minute on Twitter.

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Record Ratings for 'Mad Men' Sixth-Season Finale

The AMC drama "Mad Men" drew record ratings for its sixth-season finale Sunday. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that the telecast drew about 2.7 million total viewers and a 2.1 average household rating.

While the viewer number was even with last year's result, the household rating average was the highest ever for the show, by one-tenth of a ratings point, the piece notes.

"The audience for 'Mad Men' is getting slightly older, which is not surprising for a TV series in its sixth season. The episode drew 1.3 million adults in the key demographic of ages 25 to 54, down 7% from last season," the piece notes.

AMC pointed out that the show continues to score as the "most upscale" drama on cable, with its viewers including the highest proportion of wealthy households.

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'Good Morning America' Adds Veteran From CBS's 'Early Show,' NBC's 'Today'

ABC’s front-running morning show “Good Morning America” appears to be serious about maintaining its lead over NBC rival “Today.” Deadline.com reports that the ABC show, which recently broke NBC’s stranglehold on the morning ratings, is adding David Friedman, a veteran of not only “Today” but also CBS’s “The Early Show,” as special creative executive.

“GMA” senior executive producer Tom Cibrowski announced the move today, saying Friedman’s focusw will be helping the show ramp up for fall.

David Friedman has joined ABC’s morning infotainment program Good Morning America as special GMA Creative Executive, working full-time for several months to help the show ramp up in the fall, GMA senior exec producer Tom Cibrowski announced today.

“Friedman used to be exec producer of CBS’s ‘The Early Show,’ and started his career at ‘Today,’” Deadline reports. “But, these days, he’s maybe best known for the seven years during which he created, launched and exec produced Carson Daly’s late-night show. Most recently, he’s been one of the industry’s go-to guys for live special event programming, including ‘The Biggest Loser’ finale on NBC.”

Cibrowski wrote in his announcement to staff: “Starting July 15, David will be here full time for several months as we ramp up for the important Fall months leading to the November Sweep. David will work directly with me on planning and executing exciting new GMA events, large and small. He will also be an important voice on the daily execution of the program and brings a world of experience in live television, from morning to late night programming.”

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Viewers Turn Out for New Show From Marc Cherry and Eva Longoria

The new drama series from Marc Cherry and Eva Longoria got a warm reception for its premiere Sunday night on Lifetime. The cable channel announced that “Devious Maids” averaged 2.0 million total viewers for the premiere.

Based on Nielsen Research figures, the series also averaged 865,000 adults 25-54, 826,000 adults 18-49, 662,000 women 25-54 and 633,000 women 18-49, Lifetime announced.

The series stars Ana Ortiz of “Ugly Betty,” Dania Ramirez of “Entourage,” Roselyn Sanchez of “Without a Trace,” Edy Ganem of “Livin’ Loud” and Judy Reyes of “Scrubs” as maids working for the rich and famous in Beverly Hills.

The show, from ABC Studios, was inspired by the hit telenovela “Ellas son la Alegría del Hogar” and is executive produced by Cherry, Longoria, Sabrina Wind, Paul McGuigan, Larry Shuman, David Lonner, John Mass and Televisa USA’s Paul Presburger and Michael Garcia.

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Paula Deen Fired by Another Company

The damage continues to mount for celebrity chef Paula Deen, who is embroiled in a scandal over her use of the N-word. USA Today reports that the latest company to sever ties with Deen is Smithfield Foods, which has had a partnership with Deen since 2006.

The move comes after Deen was fired late last week by Food Network, where she has been one of the cable channel’s biggest stars.

Keira Lombardo, Vice President of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications for Smithfield, released a statement saying: "Smithfield condemns the use of offensive and discriminatory language and behavior of any kind. Therefore, we are terminating our partnership with Paula Deen. Smithfield is determined to be an ethical food industry leader and it is important that our values and those of our spokespeople are properly aligned."

Smithfield is a global pork producer based in Smithfield, Va.

Fans of Paula Deen have been trying to rally support for the embattled Southern cuisine specialist, as previously reported.

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Weak Premiere for New NBC Drama Series on a Bad Night for Broadcast in General

Viewer numbers were soft for two new summer broadcast series and a season premiere Sunday night, with a new show from NBC faring especially poorly. The Peacock’s two-hour opener for the cop drama “Crossing Lines” generated only a 0.7 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnight reported by TVbytheNumbers.com.

“Crossing Lines,” starring William Fichtner and Donald Sutherland, opened against ABC’s one-hour series premiere of the reality competition “Whodunnit?,” which managed a 1.3 in the 18-49 demo. But both new shows finished behind a couple of animated reruns on Fox in the 9 p.m. hour -- “Family Guy” (1.5 average) and “American Dad” (1.4).

“Whodunnit?” fared even worse than the NBC premiere in total viewers, averaging 4.04 million to 4.37 million for “Crossing Lines.”

Meanwhile, ABC’s summer premiere of “Celebrity Wife Swap” matched “Whodunnit’s” 1.3 average in viewers 18-49, equaling “Swap’s” all-time low and off 19% from the show’s most recent original installment, back in May. It was down a hefty 46% from the winter premiere in February.

With an all-repeat lineup, Fox managed to finish in a tie with ABC for first place in the 18-49 demo for prime time overall. Fox and ABC averaged 1.1 ratings, followed by NBC (0.8 average), Univision (0.7) and CBS (0.6). CBS, which also aired all reruns, turned it around in total viewers, finishing first with 4.9 million, followed by NBC (4.2 million), ABC (4.0 million), Fox (2.5 million) and Univision (2.1 million).

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'Carol Burnett Show' Reunion Lined Up for Comedy Series

A reunion of players from “The Carol Burnett Show” will take place this week on a comedy series. Wednesday’s episode of “Hot in Cleveland” will reunite Carol Burnett and Tim Conway.

The episode, titled “Canoga Falls,” is set to air at 10 p.m. ET/PT on TV Land. The episode has Conway’s character, Nick, interested in Victoria’s mother, Penny, played by Burnett -- and not in his ex-girlfriend Elka, played by Betty White.

Jean Smart of “Designing Women” also appears in the episode.

 

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R&B Legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dead at 83

A legendary performer considered one of the best pure rhythm and blues singers of all time has died. The New York Daily News reports that Bobby "Blue" Bland died Sunday in Memphis at 83.

His son Rodd said he died of complications from an ongoing illness.

“Bland was a classic music business survivor, an artist who kept and cared for his skills long enough to be appreciated. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and was presented a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997,” the story reports. “He recorded and sang in parts of eight decades, starting with the embryonic blues and rhythm and blues circuit of the deep South in the late 1940s.”

Bland’s biggest crossover success came in 1961 with "Turn On Your Lovelight." He remains one of the top 25 best-selling R&B artists of the modern era, the piece notes.

His R&B hits included "I Pity the Fool," "I'll Take Care of You" and "Stormy Monday."

“Like a number of post-war R&B artists, he blended gospel with blues in his singing style. But he also had a strong fondness for pop vocals in the crooner vein, borrowing stylings from both Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra,” the report notes.

Here’s a live performance by Bobby “Blue” Bland of “Ain’t No Sunshine”:

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Why Jim Carrey Says He Can't Support His New Movie

Actor Jim Carrey is putting the word out that he doesn't support his new movie, "Kick-Ass 2." TMZ.com reports that the actor took toTwitter to discuss his sentiments in response to December's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

"I did Kickass a month b4 Sandy Hook and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence," Carrey wrote. He added, "My apologies to others involved with the film. I am not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart.”

The film is slated for release in August, and is a highly anticipated sequel to a film that grossed almost $100 million. The lack of support from Carrey, who is the film's biggest star, is a blow to the film, the story points out.

Universal, the studio behind the sequel, didn't get back to TMZ with a comment, the story notes. Carrey plays Colonel Stars and Stripes in the movie.

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NBC Will Stagger Fall Premieres -- Here Are the Dates

NBC has released its fall schedule, with the plan being to stagger premieres starting with the late-September premiere week and ending several weeks later, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

James Spader's "The Blacklist" and the singing competition "The Voice" will kick off the 2013-14 television season, with "Dracula" airing as the latest-debuting new show on the network. "Dracula," starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, will premiere just before Halloween, on Oct. 25.

Below is the schedule, with new shows in capital letters:

“The Voice”: Monday, Sept. 23, 8 p.m. ET

“THE BLACKLIST”: Monday, Sept. 23, 10 p.m. ET

“Chicago Fire”: Tuesday, Sept. 24, 10 p.m. ET

“Revolution”: Wednesday, Sept. 25, 8 p.m. ET (new day and time)

“Law & Order: SVU”: Wednesday, Sept. 25, 10 p.m. ET

“Parks and Recreation”: Thursday, Sept. 26, 8 p.m. ET (new time)

“THE MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW”: Thursday, Sept. 26, 9 p.m. ET (premiere/preview)

“THE MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW”: Thursday, Sept. 26, 9:30 p.m. ET (time period premiere)

“Parenthood”: Thursday, Sept. 26, 9 p.m. ET

“Dateline”: Friday, Sept. 27, 8 p.m. ET

“IRONSIDE”: Wednesday, Oct. 2, 10 p.m. ET

“WELCOME TO THE FAMILY”: Thursday, Oct. 3, 8:30 p.m. ET

“SEAN SAVES THE WORLD”: Thursday, Oct. 3, 9 p.m. ET

“The Biggest Loser”: Tuesday, Oct. 8, 8 p.m. ET

“Grimm”: Friday, Oct. 25, 9 p.m. ET

“DRACULA”: Friday, Oct. 25, 10 p.m. ET

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'That '70s Show' Star Arrested -- Again

One of the stars of the late 1990s/2000s Fox comedy hit “That ‘70s Show” was arrested over the weekend. TMZ.com reports that Lisa Robin Kelly, who played Laurie Forman on the series, was arrested Saturday night on suspicion of drinking while driving.

It's not her first arrest, with past arrests including a DUI in 2010, alleged spousal abuse in April 2012 and assault in November 2012, the piece reports.


TMZ reports: “Law enforcement sources tell us ... cops responded to a call around 11:30 pm on Saturday night that a car was parked on the 5 freeway, blocking a lane of traffic. That car was Lisa's (allegedly).

“We're told when officers arrived they noticed something fishy -- i.e. signs of booze -- and conducted a field sobriety test -- which police say she bombed -- and Lisa was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.”

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Lisa Robin Kelly

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Emmy-Winning Actor Joins 'Downton Abbey'

The PBS period drama “Downton Abbey” is bringing aboard a high-profile actor for season four. TheWrap.com reports that Emmy winner Paul Giamatti has joined the cast.

Giamatti will appear as the playboy brother of Lady Grantham, played by Elizabeth McGovern. The season is set to launch Jan. 5, 2014.

“The show is a snapshot of a very English way of life, but along with Shirley MacLaine, Giamatti will represent the ugly American relatives of the gentry at the heart of the show,” TheWrap reports. “Giamatti's character is described by the show's producers as being ‘rather free-spirited’ and ‘sure to upset the Granthams’ apple cart.’"

Giamatti won an Emmy for HBO's "John Adams," along with widespread recognition for his work in feature films including "Sideways" and "Win Win." He received an Academy Award nomination for "Cinderella Man."

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Paula Deen Fans Join the Fracas Over Her Racial Slurs and Her Food Network Firing

Fans of television chef Paula Deen are sounding off about the recent controversy surrounding the television chef. The New York Times reports that some fans jumped to her defense after Food Network dropped her for using racial slurs and considering a plantation-themed wedding.

A line of mostly white Paula Deen fans stood outside her Savannah restaurant The Lady and Sons on Saturday morning, with talk about boycotting Food Network over dropping their favorite chef, the story notes.

As previously reported, Food Network said it wouldn't renew Deen's contract when it expires at the end of June, after she admitted in a deposition for a discrimination lawsuit that she had used racial epithets.

One woman in line Saturday morning was Nicole T. Green, 36, an African-American who said she stopped at the restaurant to show her support for Deen.

"I get it, believe me,” Green told The Times. “But what’s hard for people to understand is that she didn’t mean it as racist. It sounds bad, but that’s not what’s in her heart. She’s just from another time.”

Many fans felt Food Network's decision was out of proportion, and the network’s Facebook page filled with comments from Deen supporters who disagree with the network's decision, the piece notes.

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'Anger Management' Looking for New Actress -- With the Casting Call Invoking a Beloved Sitcom of the Past

FX's "Anger Management' has posted a casting notice for a new actress, following the ouster of co-star Selma Blair in a clash with star Charlie Sheen, reports New York Magazine.

Blair left the show after angering Sheen by reportedly complaining about his work habits, as previously reported.

The new actress should be a "gorgeous, sexy" Latina or Caucasian actress, between five feet and five feet, six inches tall and in her 30s or 40s.

The description adds, "If Charlie and Kate were like Sam and Diane on Cheers, then you are Rebecca. Tough, career driven, neurotic and you wear your heart on your sleeve. And you hate yourself for eventually becoming attracted to Charlie."

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Spring's Most Pirated Shows Ranked, Including Another Record for 'Game of Thrones'

The HBO fantasy series "Game of Thrones" has set another record, with the drama's third season ranking as the most-pirated show of spring 2013, EW.com's Inside TV reports, citing TorrentFreak.

The show drew 5.2 million illegal downloads this spring, easily outdistancing CBS's "The Big Bang Theory," in second place with 2.9 million downloads.

In third place was CBS's "How I Met Your Mother" with 2.85 million downloads, and AMC's "The Walking Dead" was fourth with 2.7 million.

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AMC Drama Takes Early Hiatus After Disaster Halts Production

The AMC drama "Hell on Wheels" started its hiatus early after having production disrupted by a natural disaster. Deadline.com reports that producers made the decision after the show's sets were flooded by rising water in the Calgary area.

As previously reported, taping was suspended last week after an epic storm and flooding prompted mandatory evacuations in parts of Calgary, although at that point the set hadn't been affected. The set was subsequently flooded as torrential rains continued in the area and the waters rose, claiming lives as the region braced for additional flooding.

The set is located near the Bow and Highwood rivers, both of which reportedly breached their banks.

The cast in crew were flying back to their homes from Calgary, the story notes. The drama had been previously slated to start its hiatus this Thursday.

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'Hunted' Spinoff in the Works for Cinemax, With Show's Female Lead Making the Jump to New Series

A spinoff of the spy drama “Hunted” starring that show’s female lead is in the works at Cinemax. Deadline.com reports that HBO/Cinemax and Frank Spotnitz of "The X Files" are developing "Sam Hunter."

The spinoff will star Australian beauty Melissa George reprising her role as Sam, an agent who works in private espionage. She's on the run from her former employer and has to protect her young daughter while trying to find out who's trying to kill her, the story says.

Cinemax plans to debut the show as a four-hour miniseries, which Spotnitz is writing.

"Hunted," which also starred Adam Rayner, earned solid ratings for Cinemax, but partner BBC One last year decided not to renew the series for a second season and continuing the show without the BBC's involvement wasn't possible, the story notes.

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Melissa George

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Daredevil's Grand Canyon Stunt a Boon for Cable Channel -- Thanks in Large Part to Social Media

Daredevil Nik Wallenda walked across the Grand Canyon on live television Sunday, successfully traversing 1,400 feet across the canyon while also suspended 1,500 feet above its floor, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

The event, “Skywire Live,” was a score for Discovery Channel, which benefited from online social-media mentions, notes Deadline.com. The feat generated 40,000 tweets per minute, and 1.5 million streams on Discovery.com.

Wallenda, known as "The King of the High Wire," said the winds were "a lot stronger than I expected," and at one point he had to take a pause, squatting to get his balance, THR notes. He also said he took time to admire the view of the Little Colorado River.

Toward the end of his walk, he thanked "Discovery Channel for believing in me" along with thanking network executives, and was chided by his father, who was helping guide him through the walk.

"Pay attention -- you're not there yet," his dad said.

After completing the walk, Wallenda said, "It took every bit of me to stay focused that entire time. My arms are aching like you wouldn't believe."

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Crass Gesture? Amazon Pulls Hasty James Gandolfini Memorial Facebook Post -- Which Also Happens to Promote a 'Sopranos' DVD Set

Amazon was apparently shamed into pulling a hastily posted ad for a “Sopranos” DVD set, which appeared on Facebook in the hours after news broke of the death Wednesday of “Sopranos” star James Gandolfini.

The company quickly removed the entry after negative comments were posted by readers. The item consisted of the text “Saddened to hear about the passing of James Gandolfini today. We’ll miss you, James, and the memorable characters you brought to life,” followed by a link where readers could buy the DVDs and a picture of the DVD set.

The Huffington Post notes: “While the company's link to ‘Sopranos’ DVDs may have struck some as crass, it’s not uncommon for companies to profit off celebrity deaths. Just hours after Whitney Houston’s death, Sony Music, which owns the rights to some of Houston’s work, boosted the prices of two her albums on the U.K. iTunes site, a move that stoked the ire of her fans. The company later apologized and reversed the price hike.”

Among the comments on the Gandolfini post:

“Stay classy Amazon. I’m sure James Gandolfini’s family is happy that his untimely death could bump up your Sopranos DVD sales.”

And:

“I’m ashamed to be an Amazon shopper & Kindle user right now. It was in poor taste that you guys put up a link ‘remembering’ James Gandolfini along with a link to purchase Season 1 of The Sopranos. This is a real person, not a promotional opportunity.”

Amazon had not commented for the Huffington Post story.

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Here Are the Funeral Plans for James Gandolfini. Also, What Gandolfini Once Said He Would Like to Hear God Say When He Arrived in Heaven

"Funeral services for actor James Gandolfini will be this Thursday, June 27th, at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York City," CBS News and the Associated Press report.

The story continues, "An HBO spokeswoman speaking on behalf of the family says the funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. The 51-year-old star of "The Sopranos" died last Wednesday, June 19, 2013, in Rome. Family spokesman Michael Kobold says Gandolfini died of a heart attack."

The Washington Times reports: "The Bravo cable network show 'Inside the Actors Studio,' hosted by James Lipton, commemorates the life and career of actor James Gandolfini with a special broadcast of his appearance on the award-winning series" on Wednesday, June 26, at 6 p.m ET/PT.

The episode originally ran Oct. 17, 2004, after the fifth season of the original run of the "The Sopranos." Bravo also reran the episode last night, Sunday, June 23, 2013.

Toward the end of the show host Lipton asks Gandolfini, "What would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?"

To which Gandolfini quipped, "Take over for a while, I'll be right back."

As the audience roared its approval, Gandolfini kept saying "no, no," and was about to come up with a more serious answer. But Lipton stopped him, saying, "You do not dare change it. It's too good."

Here's the entire interview:

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Creator of Must-See TV's 'Family Ties' Dies at 69. Gary David Goldberg Also Created TV Critics' Favorite 'Brooklyn Bridge,' and Co-Created 'Spin City.' Sit, Ubu, Sit

"Gary David Goldberg, the genial two-time Emmy Award winner who mined his rich personal life to create such amusing and affecting entertainment as the Michael J. Fox sitcom 'Family Ties,' has died," reports The Hollywood Reporter

The story continues, "Goldberg, who later co-created Spin City,' another series starring Fox, and the critically lauded 'Brooklyn Bridge,' died from brain cancer yesterday, Sunday, June 23, 2013, at his home in Montecito, California. He was 68 years old." He would have been 69 tomorrow, June 25.

On his website, Goldberg said he didn't land his first "real" job writing for TV until he was 32, when he started writing for "The Bob Newhart Show."  Also on Goldberg's website, if you click here, you can watch a fun, short video about Goldberg's life that he narrates.

The THR obituary adds, "The down-to-earth Brooklyn native collected seven Emmy nominations in his late-starting but illustrious career, winning an outstanding series trophy in 1979 for co-producing the CBS newsroom drama 'Lou Grant' and a writing prize in 1987 for an episode of 'Family Ties.'

"Goldberg also penned episodes of 'The Bob Newhart Show' and 'M*A*S*H' and wrote and directed the features 'Dad' (1989) starring Jack Lemmon and 'Must Love Dogs' (2005)."

The THR story also notes, "Based on his life and families of friends he knew with similar backgrounds, Goldberg created 'Family Ties' in the early 1980s and pitched it to CBS, which turned him down. He then brought it to innovative NBC entertainment chief Brandon Tartikoff, who 'nurtured it and really made it happen,' the writer once recalled."

Premiering in September 1982 on Wednesday nights, "Famiily Ties" didn't hit ratings gold until 1984, when it moved to Thursday nights behind a new show that season,"The Cosby Show." For the entire 1985 and 1986 TV seasons, "Family Ties" was No. 2 for the year, right behind the No. 1-rated show on TV, "Cosby." 

Writes THR about 'Family Ties,'  "Initially, Goldberg did not want to cast Michael J.Fox for the lead (Matthew Broderick had already turned down the role). But hounded by his casting director, he agreed to a second reading by the actor and was sold. Fox would become the series' breakout star."

The THR story also says: "Goldberg later recruited Bill Lawrence (who recently had been fired from 'Friends') to create 'Spin City' -- the first successful TV series from the fledgling studio DreamWorks SKG. They cast Fox, now a movie star, as New York Deputy Mayor Mike Flaherty, coming up with the idea for the show while on the cross-country flight to pitch the actor. 'Mike wanted to prove himself to a whole new generation,' Goldberg recalled. 'He said, "No free ride … I want to do it in a different way." ' "

Goldberg's shows are also remembered for their end card, which showed a black labrador holding a frisbee in his mouth. On the soundtrack we hear "Sit, Ubu, sit." Goldberg's company was called Ubu Productions.

In March 2008, Goldberg wrote, on his website, an entry about his dog Ubu. Here's an excerpt:

Ubu was, what I would later hear described as a “lifetime dog.” As in once in your lifetime, if you’re lucky, you meet that dog who’s going to change your life. And Ubu changed mine.

I had always wanted to be a guy who had a dog. A big dog who was never on a leash but who would be controlled by -- (Ubu preferred “respond appropriately to”) -- affection and respect. I was trying to change myself from a city kid, sports-crazed and rigid, to a more laid back country boy. More mellow, more in touch with nature. And, being with Ubu and his energy put you in contact with those natural rhythms.

Ubu taught me to play. Just play. Not worry about winning and losing but making time and space disappear as I watched this creature totally immersed in every moment of his life. Never false. Fiercely loyal. Unabashedly affectionate and generous of spirit. Qualities I wanted in myself. Ubu always expected the best of me and I tried to live up to that reflection. He gave me confidence to be who I wanted to be. He taught me patience. He taught me to take time to smell the flowers. And, occasionally to piss on them.

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Gary David Goldberg, from a picture on his website

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Bad Day for Paula Deen: Now Food Network Says It's Dropping Her. In Deposition Released Earlier This Week Deen Said She 'Tolerated Racist Jokes and Condoned Pornography in the Workplace,' Report Says

"Paula Deen, the self-proclaimed queen of Southern cooking and a sugary mainstay of the Food Network, was dropped by the network on Friday, following a bewildering day in which she failed to show up for an interview on the 'Today' show and then in two online videos begged her family and audience for forgiveness for using racist language," writes Julia Molskin at the website of The New York Times

A Food Network spokeswoman told the Times that the network would not renew Deen’s contract when it expires in nine days, at the end of June.

Adds the Times, "Deen has faced a volley of criticism this week over her remarks in a deposition for a discrimination lawsuit by a former employee. In the document, she admitted she had used racial epithets, tolerated racist jokes and condoned pornography in the workplace."

The story continues, "In her first video on Friday, posted on YouTube and later removed, Ms. Deen, near tears, said: 'I want to apologize to everybody for the wrong that I’ve done. I want to learn and grow from this. Inappropriate and hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable.'

"In a longer video posted later in the afternoon, Ms. Deen appeared more composed. 'Your color of your skin, your religion, your sexual preference does not matter,' she said, adding, 'I was wrong, yes, I’ve worked hard, and I have made mistakes but that is no excuse and I offer my sincere apology to those that I have hurt, and I hope that you forgive me because this comes from the deepest part of my heart.' "

Also, asTVWeek previously reported today, Deen was supposed to be on the "Today" show this morning, but was a no-show, which upset "Today" co-host Matt Lauer.

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Dominant Performance for Game 7 of NBA Finals

Game 7 of the NBA Finals, aired Thursday night on ABC, turned in a dominant performance in the ratings, pushing ABC to a huge win for the night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the game delivered an 8.7 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, with 21.56 million total viewers. The report notes that the numbers are subject to significant adjustments due to the nature of live programming.

ABC reports that the game was the second-highest-rated NBA game in the network’s history. The network notes that the game, in which the Miami Heat claimed its second consecutive NBA title by knocking off the San Antonio Spurs, delivered a 17.7 overnight rating, peaking with a 22.6 from 11:30-11:45 p.m. ET, based on metered markets.

The NBA Finals overall averaged a 12.4 metered-market rating, rising 5% from an 11.8 for last year’s series, the network noted.

“The game generated a 44.2 metered market rating in Miami, making it the highest-rated NBA game ever in the market. Additionally, Game 7 scored big in San Antonio with a 46.4,” the network announced.

Nielsen fast nationals for the 18-49 demo show ABC well out in front of the pack with a 7.1 average rating for prime time overall, including a 3.2 for “Jimmy Kimmel Live: Game Night” and a 4.5 for “NBA Countdown.” CBS countered with an all-repeat lineup, while NBC aired just one fresh program. NBC’s “Hannibal” equaled last week’s series low with a 0.7 average.

Fox aired “Hell’s Kitchen,” which was down one-tenth to a 1.9 in 18-49, and “Does Someone Have to Go?,” which equaled last week’s 0.9.

For prime time overall, ABC’s 7.1 average in viewers 18-49 was the class of the field, besting Fox (1.4 average), Univision (1.4), CBS (1.0) and NBC (0.6). Total viewers was just as one-sided, with ABC out front with 17.8 million, followed by CBS (5.9 million), NBC (5.9 million), Fox (3.7 million) and Univision (3.6 million).

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New Eva Longoria Show Under Fire

A new show from actress Eva Longoria has been taking some heat. The U.K. paper The Daily Mail reports that the new Lifetime series “Devious Maids” has been accused of degrading Latinas by portraying them in stereotypical and demeaning roles.

The show focuses on five Latina housekeepers who face condescension from their rich Beverly Hills bosses.

Said Damarys Ocana, executive editor of Latina magazine, in an interview with ABC News: “There probably wasn't a Latina in the country who didn't initially roll her eyes of ‘oh great, here we go again. Another Latina character that's a maid.’”

Added Eric Deggans, media critic for the Tampa Bay Times: “Lifetime's ‘Devious Maids’ raises a pointed question: Where is line between exploding a stereotype and exploiting it?”

But Longoria, who produces the show along with Marc Cherry, creator of “Desperate Housewives,” defended the show.

Said Longoria, 38, in a video promoting the show: “When we get any sort of backlash, sort of ‘they are playing the stereotypical maids,’ my immediate response is that ‘so you're telling me those stories aren't worth telling?’"

Adds Ana Ortiz, one of the stars of the show: “To be honest, I had the same reaction. When I first saw the script, I was like, ‘Really?’

“[But] I reject the notion that if a woman, a person, a human, is a maid, that they don't deserve to have their story told. I just don't accept that you have to be a doctor or a lawyer to be a hero.”

Ortiz adds: “There's a responsibility we have to bring these characters to life truthfully and honestly. They're funny and sexy and tragic and all of that, and listen, my grandmother was ALL of that!”

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Paula Deen, Mired in Controversy Over Use of N-Word, Issues Video Apology

Celebrity chef Paula Deen released a videotaped apology today in response to a brewing controversy over her use of the N-word. As we reported previously, her use of the word surfaced in a court deposition.

Asking people to forgive her for her mistakes, Deen says in the video, “I want to learn and grow from this,” and, “Inappropriate, hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable.”

Here’s the video:

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'Homeland' Actress Joins USA Drama Series

An actress from the Showtime drama “Homeland” has landed a new gig on a USA drama series. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Zuleikha Robinson will play a major recurring role on the spy series “Covert Affairs.”

“She is slated to appear in multiple episodes of the globe-trotting one-hour series. Her first appearance will be in the ninth episode,” THR reports. “Robinson, who played Brody and Abu Nazir's go-between Roya Hammad on ‘Homeland,’ will portray Bianca, a D.C. power player who is one of the capitol's most formidable defense attorneys. With the help of Bianca's legal acumen, Arthur (Peter Gallagher) plans to combat allegations that could damage the Campbells' legacy.”

Robinson had recurring roles on “Lost” and “Rome.”

The piece notes that the USA series has also added Hill Harper from “CSI: NY” as a regular for the fourth season. The season premiere is set for July 16.

zuleikha-robinson.jpgZuleikha Robinson

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Outdoor Channel Names New CEO

Outdoor Channel has made a key executive move, replacing its current CEO. Multichannel News reports that Tom Hornish will depart the company after a transition, and will be replaced by Jim Liberatore, who assumes the new role immediately.

Liberatore, a veteran programming executive, was most recently president of the regional sports network SportsTime Ohio.

“The appointment comes after Outdoor Channel was acquired by Kroenke Sports and Entertainment in May for about $267 million,” Multichannel News notes.

In a statement, Kroenke Sports CEO Jim Martin said: "Jim has an outstanding track record of building and growing successful cable network brands and we will benefit from his expertise, industry relationships and vision. As we work with Jim to chart the next phase of Outdoor Channel's expansion, we will look to fully maximize the potential of this great franchise for our viewers, advertisers and business partners."

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Top-Level Shakeup Continues at Warner Bros.

[Updated at 10:27 a.m. PT on 6-21-13 to reflect the latest information on this story.]

"Warner Bros. film chief Jeff Robinov will soon begin negotiating his exit from the studio," reports The Hollywood Reporter, following up on an earlier exclusive first reported by Nikki Finke at Deadline.com.

Finke corrected her original story, which said that Robinov was leaving because he wasn't offered a new contract once his current one expires in December. Finke's update reads: "I’ve learned that Jeff Robinov’s attorney Skip Brittenham officially notified Warner Bros. on Thursday that it is in breach of the movie mogul’s contract, and he wants to negotiate his exit."

Says the THR story, Robinov's "contract is not up until 2014, but the studio is not expected to renew his deal. He has been taking meetings around Hollywood in search of a new job. While formal exit negotiations have not yet begun, sources say the situation is heating up and a departure is a mere formality."

In Variety's follow-up to Finke's exclusive, it says: "Jeff Robinov isn’t happy in his job, nor is Warner Bros. happy with him.."

In her Deadline story, Finke writes that both the newly crowned chief of Warner Bros., Kevin Tsujihara, and Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes allegedly put Robinov in what Finke calls a "cone of silence." That experience reportedly included Tsujihara sitting near Robinov on a cross-country plane trip and refusing to speak a word to him, even though the two men were seated across from each other, according to the story.

Finke also writes that neither Bewkes nor Tsujihara called Robinov to congratulate him after the successful opening of "Man of Steel" or any other of the studio's summer releases, including "The Great Gatsby" and "The Hangover Part III." 

However, the Variety story says, "While 'Man of Steel' had a strong opening and 'The Hangover Part III' has performed solidly, tracking for Warner Bros.’ big-budget July 12 release 'Pacific Rim,' of which Legendary owns 75%, has been weak. WB is coming off of a disappointing first quarter, with a string of box office misfires, among them 'Gangster Squad' and New Line Cinema’s 'Jack the Giant Slayer' and 'The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.' "

Also, according to the Variety story, "Robinov has been openly expressing his discontent at the studio ever since losing a nearly three-year runoff in January to succeed Barry Meyer as chairman-CEO of the studio [to Tsujihara]. In recent weeks [Robinov's] anger and unhappiness have been even more evident, say people who work with him."

Variety adds that Robinov "has been telling his colleagues that he doesn’t see a future for himself at Warner Bros. because his bosses have not given him a vote of confidence and assurances that they want him to stay after his current deal expires."

The Variety story says some of Robinov's "impolitic behavior" includes "him hanging up on Meyer when he delivered the news that home entertainment honcho Tsujihara had been selected as his successor -- [and] has hurt [Robinov] with the Warner Bros. brass despite his skills as a creative executive."

As previously reported, Bruce Rosenblum, the former top-ranking Warner Bros. executive on the TV side of the business -- who also was in the runoff with then Home Entertainment chief Tsujihara to head up all of Warner Bros. -- recently left the studio to join Legendary Entertainment.  

Interestingly, both Variety and Deadline.com are owned -- through companies with various names -- by Jay Penske. The Deadline story looks at the Robinov story from the point-of-view of Robinov and his supporters, while the Variety story takes the more traditional journalism approach of looking at the story from the point-of-view of both Robinov and Warner Bros.

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Video: 'Today' Hosts Not Happy About Being Stiffed by Paula Deen

Matt Lauer and other on-air personalities at the NBC morning show “Today” were visibly unhappy with Paula Deen after the embattled celebrity chef abruptly canceled an interview that had been scheduled for this morning.

Deen was expected to talk about news that surfaced this week about her past use of the N-word, as previously reported.

The Huffington Post, which put up a video clip of Lauer and others at “Today” discussing Deen’s cancellation (see below), reported: “Deen was supposed to be interviewed about the stunning legal deposition that shows her admitting to having used the N-word and to a seemingly never-ending host of other racially problematic things. But she pulled out with no notice, leaving Matt Lauer hanging.”

Here’s the clip:

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Details Emerge on James Gandolfini's Death

Details about the death of "The Sopranos" star James Gandolfini are emerging. Gandolfini, who died Wednesday at 51, died of cardiac arrest, the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports, citing Dr. Claudio Modini, the head of the emergency department at Rome's Policlinico Umberto I Hospital.

“When he arrived, [he] was already in cardiac arrest. He was put under resuscitation treatment for 40 minutes, but the emergency staff failed to restart his heart, and at 23:00, he was pronounced deceased," Modini said. Modini didn't personally treat the actor, the story notes.

He added that Gandolfini could have already been dead by the time he reached the hospital because "he was already in cardiac arrest."

Gandolfini arrived at his hotel Wednesday morning and showed no signs of illness, the Times notes, citing Rome's Il Messaggero newspaper. He dined inside the hotel that night and appeared to be in good spirits, signing autographs.

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Tonight Marks the End of the Line for an NBC Show After a Year and a Half

Tonight’s episode of a prime-time NBC show will be its last, marking the end of an unspectacular year-and-a-half run. TVNewser reports that the final edition of "Rock Center with Brian Williams" will feature reports by Harry Smith, Kate Snow, Chelsea Clinton and Dr. Nancy Snyderman, along with the final installment of the "Rock Bottom" segment with Williams.

The newsmagazine was shuffled across time slots and multiple nights after its debut in late 2011, never quite finding a niche, the piece reports.

NBC said before its upfront presentation in May that it was canceling the show, and the network has been trimming the show’s staff since that time.

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Abercrombie & Fitch Pulls T-Shirt Mocking Taylor Swift

After Taylor Swift's fans expressed their outrage, a T-shirt mocking the singer was pulled from Abercrombie & Fitch stores, reports People magazine.

The retailer turned to Twitter to calm outraged fans, writing, "Hey #swifties we no longer sell the tshirt. We <3 Taylor's music and think she's awesome!” The T-shirt had the slogan "# more boyfriends than t.s.”

Along with her music success, Swift also has a budding acting career, making her debut in a 2009 episode of CBS's "CSI" and appearing in films such as "Valentine's Day."

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Epic Flooding Halts Production of Drama Series

Production of a cable drama series was halted because of a rainstorm and flooding. Deadline.com reports that AMC's period drama "Hell on Wheels" was forced to suspend taping after the epic storm prompted mandatory evacuations in portions of Calgary.

The show’s set is near the Bow and Highwood rivers, which both breached their banks. Producers decided to evacuate the set, with crew and equipment moving to higher ground.

The suspension of production was initially slated for two days, but it's possible that production might not resume until after the show's scheduled hiatus, which starts next Thursday, the piece reports.

The set hasn't yet been affected, although the main road leading to it is flooded, the story notes.

 

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Comedy Veteran Signs to Return to NBC's 'Parenthood'

A veteran TV comedy actor has signed on to return to the NBC drama "Parenthood" next season. Deadline.com reports that Ray Romano will bring back his character, Sarah's boss and paramour Hank Rizzoli.

Romano will be a major part of the fifth season, appearing in 12 to 15 episodes -- along the lines of the 14 episodes he appeared in during the show's recent fourth season. His future on the show previously appeared to be in doubt after his character said he was moving to Minnesota to be near his daughter.

Sarah, played by Lauren Graham, had turned down her young boyfriend, played by Jason Ritter, to be with Hank.

Romano is returning to the show because of the strong relationship he developed with "Parenthood" executive producer Jason Katims, the piece adds.

Romano won an Emmy for his starring role on the CBS comedy "Everybody Loves Raymond" and co-created the cult TNT favorite "Men of a Certain Age."

ray-romano.jpgRay Romano

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FBI Reportedly Using 'Portlandia' Sketch as a Training Tool

An instructor at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., approached the producers of "Portlandia" for permission to use a clip from the IFC show in its advanced-intelligence classes, which focus on crimes such as espionage and IP theft, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

It wasn't exactly clear how the FBI Academy is incorporating the sketch, which is the show's "Sanitation Twins" segment spoofing recycling culture, the story notes.

"This falls under the surreal category," co-star Carrie Brownstein told the publication. "We granted permission, although he didn't tell us why he was interested." She added, "Maybe they're just making fun of us?"

Here’s a clip:

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Disney Channels Names Executive to Oversee Original Movies

Disney Channels has named an executive to oversee creative development for the Disney Channel Original Movie franchise. Deadline.com reports that the company tapped Naketha Mattocks as vice president of original movies.

Mattocks succeeds Michael Healy, who left Disney in April after spending 16 years at the company and overseeing more than 90 Disney Channel movies.

Mattocks last year served as a consultant for Lifetime, working on telefilms such as "Betty and Coretta," "A Killer Among Us," "Twist of Faith" and "House of Versace." She previously was head of development for Gary Ross' Larger than Life, and before that worked at Paramount Pictures, the story says.

naketha-mattocks.jpgNaketha Mattocks

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TV Academy Names New President

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has named a new president and chief operating officer. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lucy Hood, the executive director of the Institute for Communication Technology at USC and former president of Fox Mobile Entertainment, has been given the job.

Hood, who replaces retiring President Alan Perris, will report to TV Academy Chairman Bruce Rosenblum and Foundation Chairman Jerry Petry, the piece notes. She will oversee the day-to-day operations of both the academy and its Foundation.

Hood will work on the academy’s digital strategy, corporate sponsorships and marketing, among other duties.

“In a time when the television industry is experiencing so much change and evolution, I look forward to helping the academy adapt and evolve as well," Hood said.

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Lucy Hood

 

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Comedy Central Orders Series From Ben Stiller

Comedy Central has ordered a series from Ben Stiller. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the channel ordered the stand-up comedy series "The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail," executive produced by Stiller.

The series, hosted by comedians Jonah Ray and Kumail Nanjiani, will feature stand-up comedians performing at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles, the story says. The show will also go behind-the-scenes with the hosts and other guest stars in the green room.

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'Sopranos' Sales Spike Following Gandolfini's Death

Sales of "The Sopranos" on DVD and digital download have spiked on Amazon and iTunes since the death earlier this week of star James Gandolfini, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The 30-disc set that includes all seasons of the HBO drama series and sells for $124.99 is near the top of Amazon's Movies & TV Best Sellers list, with only an episode of AMC's "Mad Men" beating it.

The drama's complete first season is in third place on the iTunes Top TV Seasons chart, trailing only "Game of Thrones" season 2 and "Futurama’s” 10th and final season.

As previously reported, Gandolfini, 51, died this week while he was on vacation in Rome.

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CNN Anchor Jumps to Fox News Channel

A familiar face on CNN is moving to rival Fox News Channel. According to The Hollywood Reporter, veteran CNN reporter and “Reliable Sources” anchor Howard Kurtz is making the move.

Fox News announced today that Kurtz will anchor a new weekend program on Fox starting July 1.

“Kurtz, a veteran media reporter, recently earned a great deal of flak -- and subsequently departed his job as Daily Beast Washington bureau chief -- when an article he published on the Tina Brown outlet suggested that NBA player Jason Collins wasn't telling the whole truth when he came out as gay in a Sports Illustrated Story. Though his status at CNN remained unchanged, many had expected some movement,” THR reports.

Said Michael Clemente, executive VP of news for Fox News Channel: “Howie is the most accomplished media reporter in the country. He's also a master of social media trends, information good and bad, and a veteran political reporter. Altogether, he will add even greater depth to a very accomplished team of reporters and anchors.”

THR adds: “In addition to serving as an on-air analyst across the network, Kurtz's main charge will be to anchor a version of what is now called 'Fox News Watch.' The new format will continue to focus on the media and air during the weekends. The deal also has Kurtz writing a regular column for FoxNews.com.”

Kurtz has been the host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources” since 1998.

Kurtz commented: “I’m excited to be bringing my independent brand of media criticism to Fox News. I want to thank CNN for giving me such a prime opportunity over the years and was tempted to continue, but the chance to create a revamped program and establish a strong online presence was too good to pass up. I hope to add a new dimension to Fox’s coverage and have some fun while diving into the passionate debates about the press and politics.”

CNN said it plans to rotate a series of hosts for “Reliable Sources” in the coming months.

THR adds: “’Fox News Watch's’ current anchor, Jon Scott, will move to the specials unit where he will serve as anchor.”

Thumbnail image for howard-kurtz.jpgHoward Kurtz

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Video: James Gandolfini in 'The Sopranos' and Beyond

As fans react to the stunning news of the death of James Gandolfini at age 51, a number of videos have surfaced paying tribute to the actor. Here’s a new one compiling clips of Gandolfini’s performances on “The Sopranos” and other projects:

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Fox Takes Tough Stance on Indecency

Fox is taking a strong stand on the broadcast indecency issue, essentially pushing for the Federal Communications to stop enforcing indecency standards entirely, B&C reports.

“Fox has asked the FCC to dismiss all of its remaining indecency complaints -- several hundred thousand remained at last check -- and to get out of the business of regulating indecent content altogether,” the piece reports. “It is not a new position for the network, which has long argued the FCC's enforcement regime was chilling and unconstitutional, but it was put rather forcefully in its latest input to the commission.”

Fox made its comments Wednesday in response to an FCC proposal to pursue only "egregious" complaints, B&C reports.

“Fox said that is the least it could do,” the story reports. “And preferably, Fox said, the FCC should ‘conclude that it is legally required, and logically bound, to cease attempting to enforce broadcast indecency limits once and for all.’"

Describing Fox’s argument, B&C adds: “Given that the FCC's indecency enforcement power was rooted in the medium's unique access to children, and given that the FCC is now ‘just a small sliver of the panoply of video content available to an average consumer today,’ and thus less uniquely and pervasively available to children, the FCC should decide that it ‘no longer has any lawful grounds to “police” broadcast speech on the basis that it is indecent’ and admit that broadcasters should have the same First Amendment protections as any other medium.”

Fox argued that the panel, even if it does not completely abandon enforcement, "should confine its interest, at most, to content that indisputably includes an explicit portrayal of sexual or excretory organs or activities. The Commission has no business attempting to regulate isolated or fleeting words or images, nor should the FCC concern itself with innuendo or entendre. And in no event should the Commission ever attempt to sanction content during live programming or during news or public affairs programming."

Addressing the indecency complaints that remain in the works, the piece reports: “The Supreme Court did not throw out the FCC's indecency enforcement policy, but ... said that the FCC had not given sufficient notice of just how that policy would be applied. Given that, said Fox, ‘regardless of the path it chooses to pursue going forward, the Commission owes it to broadcasters and the Supreme Court to dismiss whatever remains of the backlog of pending indecency cases.’"

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Stanley Cup Finals Propel NBC to Ratings Win

NBC won the broadcast ratings battle by a narrow margin Wednesday night with the Stanley Cup Finals, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC’s 2.2 average for prime time put it just ahead of Fox’s 2.1.

The report notes that the numbers are subject to more than the usual adjustments due to the nature of live programming.

Fox aired back-to-back installments of “MasterChef,” with the 8 p.m. program delivering a 2.0 average in viewers 18-49, down three-tenths from last week, and the 9 p.m. episode climbing to a 2.2, also down three-tenths from a week ago.

CBS aired only one new program, “The American Baking Competition,” which equaled last week’s 1.2 average in 18-49.

ABC televised a mix of repeats and originals, with a new episode of “Family Tools” matching the series low from last week -- a 0.9 in the 18-49 demo. “How to Live With Your Parents” slipped two-tenths from last week’s series low to set a new series low with a 1.0. “The Lookout” equaled its 1.1 average from a week ago.

For prime time overall, NBC led the way with a 2.2 average in 18-49, followed by Fox (2.1 average), Univision (1.5), CBS (1.1) and ABC (1.0). NBC also won total viewers, averaging 6.2 million to lead CBS (6.0 million), Fox (5.3 million), ABC (3.8 million) and Univision (3.6 million).

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TV Chef Paula Deen Explains Use of N-Word

Celebrity chef Paula Deen and her representatives have offered an explanation for her use of the N-word, which surfaced during a deposition for a lawsuit against Deen, as previously reported.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Deen admitted using the racial epithet in the past but noted that she would not use it today.

“During her deposition, Deen said that she ‘of course’ had used the ‘N-word’ before, specifically when telling her husband about a time when ‘a black man burst into the bank that I was working at and put a gun to my head.’ TMZ notes that the incident in question occurred in 1986,” THR reports.

Paula Deen Enterprises released a statement to the media today in which it says: “During a deposition where she swore to tell the truth, Ms. Deen recounted having used a racial epithet in the past, speaking largely about a time in American history which was quite different than today. [Paula] was born 60 years ago when America’s South had schools that were segregated, different bathrooms, different restaurants and Americans rode in different parts of the bus. This is not today.”

THR adds: “The statement goes on to echo Deen’s sentiments that she ‘does not find acceptable the use of this term under any circumstance by anyone nor condone any form of racism or discrimination.’”

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Comedy Actress Stable After Going Into Organ Failure Following Birth of Her Daughter

An actress who was a regular on a recent comedy series is reportedly in stable condition after a health crisis. People magazine reports that Kathryn Fiore of TBS's "Wedding Band" spent 12 days fighting for her life following the birth of her daughter.

Fiore, who gave birth to her first child May 28, suffered from a uterine hemorrhage and then went into septic shock and organ failure. She underwent emergency dialysis and other life-saving procedures, and eventually stabilized. Fiore, 33, remains hospitalized and needs to learn to walk and use her hands again, the story says.

Her baby also experienced severe complications, but was discharged after 10 days, the piece adds.

Fiore's husband is Gabriel Tigerman, who has had roles on "Supernatural" and "Journeyman." A fund has been established for donations to help pay medical bills not covered by insurance, the piece adds.

Fiore played Det. Ingrid Wilson in “Wedding Band,” which aired for one season on TBS before being canceled early this year. The show starred Brian Austin Green.

The New York-born Fiore studied with the Groundlings Theatre in Los Angeles and was a featured performer on “MADtv,” among her numerous TV roles.

kathryn-fiore.jpgKathryn Fiore

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Report: Gandolfini Died During Father-Son Trip

Actor James Gandolfini was struck down during a father-son trip, TMZ.com reports. As previously reported, the "Sopranos" star was on vacation in Rome when he died, with his cause of death not immediately known. An HBO representative said the cause may have been a heart attack, although other reports cited a stroke.

Gandolfini was traveling with his son, Michael, who just graduated from eighth grade. The pair were spending some quality time together before Gandolfini was to attend the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily.

Michael's mother and Gandolfini's first wife, Marcy Wudarski, immediately flew to Italy to be with her son, the story adds.

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Gandolfini's Death Left Much of His Work Unfinished, Including Three Major TV Projects

With the untimely death of actor James Gandolfini, three major television projects are now facing an uncertain future, reports Deadline.com.

The actor-producer had been working on "Bone Wars" at HBO Films, a project in which he and Steve Carell were to play the famous post-Civil War paleontologists Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh. The pair had a fossil race that led to the discovery of more than 160 dinosaurs. The script wasn't yet written, the piece notes.

HBO last month gave a green light to "Criminal Justice," a limited series project starring Gandolfini as a New York City attorney who finds himself in deep water after taking on a homicide case. It's said to be too soon after Gandolfini’s death for the network to make decisions on that project, with recasting reportedly being one option for the series.

Only two weeks ago, CBS gave a script commitment to “Taxi-22,” an adaptation of a French-Canadian comedy, with Gandolfini attached to executive produce. The project, which was a passion project for the actor, remains in development.

Gandolfini and his Attaboy Productions also had several other projects in development, including "Big Dead Place," an HBO drama based on a memoir by Nicholas Johnson.

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James Gandolfini

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NBC Drama Writes Actress Out of Series

An NBC drama is writing an actress out of the series, leading to her departure from the show. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the freshman drama "Believe" is writing out actress Sienna Guillory.

Guillory, of "Resident Evil," had signed on as a series regular on “Believe” and appeared in the pilot. "Believe" is about a girl named Bo who has great power that will mature in seven years, and ex-con Tate, who protects her.

Guillory's character tried to kidnap Bo. Her role won't be recast, the story adds.

The Bad Robot series made the decision to go in a different direction, with Guillory's departure not reflecting her performance, the story says.

sienna-guillory.jpgSienna Guillory

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Matt Lauer Lashes Out at New York Times

"Today" co-host Matt Lauer took a shot at The New York Times when he appeared on Howard Stern's radio show Wednesday morning, reports TVNewser.

Asked what he reads in the morning, the NBC morning fixture mentioned The Times and said he also reads either the New York Post or the Daily News. Lauer was unflatteringly portrayed in Times reporter Brian Stelter's book "Top of the Morning," which was excerpted in the newspaper.

"I think there has been a little erosion in some areas as of late," Lauer said of The Times.

Asked by Stern whether he meant the way The Times treated him, Lauer responded, "Not only me personally, but the show, the industry, the way they cover television. If I think it’s unfair, if I think at times it’s been a little lazy, then it absolutely affects my opinion."

Stern asked, "Will you ever call someone at the The New York Times and say, ‘I think you’ve been lazy in this area’?"

Lauer responded, "No, no, no. I don’t call back people -- I’m not a complainer; that’s not what I do."

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FX Orders Kelsey Grammer Sitcom

Kelsey Grammer is teaming with another big name in comedy for his next TV project. FX ordered an untitled sitcom starring Grammer and Martin Lawrence as Chicago lawyers, EW.com's Inside TV reports.

The order is set up akin to the deal FX made with Charlie Sheen for "Anger Management." If the show, which comes from Lionsgate Television and its Debmar-Mercury, meets certain ratings goals during its first 10-episode run, the network will automatically order an additional 90 episodes.

The comedy is fom Bob Boyett of "Family Matters" and Robert Horn of "Living Single," the story adds, and depicts two attorneys who meet on what's described as the worst day of their lives.

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Well-Known TV Spokesman Dumped by His Company -- You've Heard His Catchphrase Countless Times

A TV pitchman who is a familiar face after decades of appearances in commercials has been dumped by his company. George A. Zimmer, who started Men's Wearhouse in 1973 and was known for decades as the face of the company, has parted ways with the company, reports The New York Times.

A disagreement between the company's board and Zimmer appeared to be the catalyst for the move, but it wasn't exactly clear what the disagreement is about, the story adds.

Zimmer appeared for three decades in the company's commercials, telling viewers, "You’re going to like the way you look. I guarantee it.”

Some analysts speculated that the dismissal might be over Men's Wearhouse's efforts to attract younger customers, which could have been held back by Zimmer's advertising presence, the story notes.

"They continually rework it, adjusting how much presence do we have on George. Does he stand? Does he sit? But it’s always all about George Zimmer -- his voice, his physical presence,” said Richard Jaffe, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus. “An old guy with a gray beard may not provide credibility to the product in the eyes of a 22- or 24-year-old.”

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George A. Zimmer

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Apple TV Lines Up Two Big Media Partners

Apple TV said it has added two major media partners to its set-top box lineup. The New York Post reports that initiative has been joined by ESPN and HBO.

The Apple effort will add the WatchESPN and HBO Go apps to the lineup, the story says.

Apple TV has about 10 million users, but the company wants to develop a bigger project that isn't part of the traditional TV model, the story points out.

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Netflix Renews Horror Series -- Producer Is a Subsidiary of the World's Oldest Film Company

Online streaming service Netflix has renewed an original horror series. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Netflix picked up a second season of "Hemlock Grove."

Season two will be a little shorter than the show’s freshman season, the piece notes: The second season will consist of 10 episodes, down from 13 for season one. The show is also adding Charles "Chic" Eglee as showrunner and executive producer.

"Netflix members loved the potent combination of sexy monsters, mystery, and the dark family soap opera that ended with a huge twist, leaving audiences worldwide totally shocked. Season one was just a warmup for what we have in store for season two," said executive producer Eli Roth.

The series is produced by Gaumont International Television, the U.S.-based TV subsidiary of the venerable Gaumont Film Company, based in France. The parent company, founded in 1906, is the oldest continuously operating film company in the world, predating U.S. companies such as Paramount Pictures and Universal Studios, both of which were founded in 1912.

Gaumont is increasingly moving into television series production through its U.S. subsidiary, and is behind NBC's "Hannibal," among other shows. 

The second season of "Hemlock Grove" will debut in 2014.

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After Racism Controversy Erupts, #PaulasBestDishes Goes Viral

After television chef Paula Deen admitted she has used the N-word, the hashtag #PaulasBestDishes was trending on Twitter, with wags combining references to America's troubled history of race relations with references to Deen's Southern cuisine, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

The trend started with one user writing, "Separate But Equal Light & Dark Meat," adding the hashtag #PaulasBestDishes. The hashtag was the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter by Wednesday afternoon.

Other examples include "Lynchin' Lemonade" and "Back of the Bus Biscuits," according to Awesomely Luvvie, a blog that collected some of the tweets.

Deen’s use of the N-word surfaced in a deposition for a court case in which a former employee of Deen claims she was subjected to racist and sexist comments, as we reported yesterday.

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'Colbert Report' Returns After Hiatus Due to Death of Colbert's Mother

"The Colbert Report" returned to air on Wednesday after an unexpected hiatus due to the death of host Stephen Colbert's mother, reports The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Colbert's mother died June 12, and last Thursday's episode was canceled at the last minute. New episodes had originally been scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, but were replaced with repeats.

Colbert previously canceled episodes of the Comedy Central show in February 2012 to take care of his mother, who at the time was reportedly ill.

 

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ReelzChannel Pulls Plug on Series After 'Disastrous' Start

ReelzChannel canceled a weekly series after just one taping, with the episode going "so disastrously that execs were talking cancellation by Friday," Deadline.com reports. The series is “The Big Picture.”

The entertainment talk show was co-hosted by "So You Think You Can Dance" and "Good Day LA" alum Lauren Sanchez and former Telemundo host Alex Cambert.

“It just didn’t play well,” Reelz CEO Stan E. Hubbard told the publication. "We had high hopes for it.”

Hubbard said there was "bad chemistry" on the set and described it as "not a good team effort."

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Sad, Terrible News: James Gandolfini Dies at Age 51

"James Gandolfini, 51, the Emmy Award-winning actor who shot to fame on the HBO drama 'The Sopranos' as Tony Soprano, a tough-talking, hard-living crime boss with a stolid exterior but a rich interior life,"  died today, Wednesday, June 19, 2013, reports The New York Times.

The story continues, "Mr. Gandolfini’s death was confirmed by HBO. He was traveling in Rome, where he was on vacation and was scheduled to attend the Taormina Film Festival. A cause of death was not immediately announced; a press representative for HBO said that Mr. Gandolfini may have died from a heart attack, though other news reports said he died from a stroke."

The obituary adds, "The success of 'The Sopranos' helped make HBO a dominant player in the competitive field of scripted television programming, and transformed Mr. Gandolfini from a character actor into a star. The series, created by David Chase, won two Emmy Awards for outstanding drama series, and Mr. Gandolfini won three Emmys for outstanding lead actor in a drama, having been nominated six times for the award.

"HBO said of Mr. Gandolfini in a statement on Wednesday, 'He was special man, a great talent, but more importantly a gentle and loving person who treated everyone no matter their title or position with equal respect.' "

USA Today posted tweets about Gandolfini from various public figures as news of the actor's death spread. Here are a few:

U.S. Sen. John McCain: "RIP James Gandolfini, one of the nicest guys I've ever met"

Olivia Wilde: "James Gandolfini was a kind, funny, wonderful guy. I'm so lucky to have worked with him. Sending love to his family. Such a sad, sad day."

Ricky Gervais: "Damn. RIP James Gandofini. An amazing actor that made arguably the greatest drama of all time, & a funny, sweet, gentle giant off screen."

Russell Simmons: "Not tony soprano! Damn. Such a good guy and a great actor. James, rest in peace..."

Kristin Chenoweth: "NO. Not James Gandolfini. He was in my top 5 favorite actors EVER. "

Michael Chiklis: "James Gandolfini. This is a tremendous loss. A brilliant actor and a wonderful man. Our deepest sympathies to his family. Devastating."

Susan Sarandon: "So sad to lose James Gandolfini. One of the sweetest, funniest, most generous actors I've ever worked with. Sending prayers to his family."

Bette Midler: "The great James Gandolfini passed away today. Only 51. I can't believe it."

James Gandolfini.jpgJames Gandolfini in his signature role as Tony Soprano

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'Nightline' Names New Anchor

ABC News is replacing the anchor on its late-night newsmagazine “Nightline.” Deadline.com reports that the network is moving “Good Morning America” contributor Dan Abrams into the post.

Abrams was also named chief legal affairs anchor for the news division.

“He will continue his regular legal segments on ‘GMA,’ will launch a new branded ‘GMA’ segment ‘on a wide range of topics,’ and join the other ‘Nightline’ anchors on ABC’s ‘The Lookout,’” the report adds.

“Nightline” anchor Terry Moran will relocate to London this summer, and will be based there as chief foreign correspondent for the news division.

“Moran’s departure comes as ‘Nightline,’ now airing at 12:35 a.m., draws less than half its previous audience at 11:35 p.m.,” the report notes. “Moran joined ‘Nightline’ after a 1999-2005 stint as a White House correspondent for ABC News, where he has been since 1997.”

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Dan Abrams

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Country Singer Who Pioneered the Mail-Order TV Album Dead at 90

A country singer who sold millions of records and found international success over the course of a long career died today of heart failure at a Florida hospital. The family of Slim Whitman, 90, announced the singer’s death, Billboard reports.

“With millions of records sold, Whitman's keen ability at yodeling and his high octave falsetto kept fans entertained for years,” the story reports. “Born in Tampa, Florida, Whitman grew up enamored with the music of the ‘Singing Brakeman,’ Jimmie Rodgers. However, it wasn't until his stint in the United States Navy came to an end following the end of World War II that he decided to pursue music as a profession.”

He came to the attention of Tom Parker, the man who would later manage Elvis Presley, and Parker got Whitman a recording contract with RCA Victor. Whitman released his first single in 1948, and went on to make a mark with signature songs such as "Indian Love Call" and "Rose Marie," which became a huge hit in England in 1955, spending 11 weeks at No. 1 on the charts.

Whitman also found success with the singles "The Bells That Broke My Heart," "More Than Yesterday" and "Something To Remember," which went to No. 6 in 1971.

“Though he was well known in the United States, Whitman's star shone even brighter abroad, as he was one of the most successful country acts in the UK, earning several hits there when his career had slowed in America,” the piece reports. “In 1979, Whitman became involved in what was a new concept -- the mail-order TV album. His first, ‘All My Best,’ was a success -- selling over 1.5 million units, and led to several other releases in the 1980s. He returned to the Billboard Top 20 in 1980 with ‘When,’ and earned his first appearance on Johnny Carson's ‘Tonight Show.’"

Here’s a short clip featuring an unusual use of Whitman’s “Indian Love Call” in the movie “Mars Attacks!” (spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the movie):

Slim-Whitman.jpgSlim Whitman
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TV Cook Pinned Down Under Oath About Use of N-Word

A celebrity cooking show host and her team are doing damage control after a revelation in a deposition for a court case. Asked under oath whether she has ever used the N-word, Paula Deen responded, “Yes, of course,” TMZ.com reports.

“Deen was being deposed in connection with a pending sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former employee who claims she was subjected to a barrage of racist, sexist and generally inappropriate comments while she worked at Paula's Oyster House restaurant in Georgia,” the story reports.

A representative for Deen, who has a long relationship with Food Network and has hosted “Paula’s Home Cooking,” “Paula’s Best Dishes” and other shows, followed the revelation with a statement to TMZ saying: "Ms. Deen does not condone or find the use of racial epithets acceptable. She is looking forward to her day in court.”

The TMZ report focuses in particular on one exchange from the taped deposition, including the following series of questions and answers:

“Lawyer: Have you ever used the N-word yourself?
“Paula: Yes, of course.
“Lawyer: Okay. In what context?
“Paula: Well, it was probably when a black man burst into the bank that I was working at and put a gun to my head.
“Lawyer: Okay. And what did you say?
“Paula: Well, I don't remember, but the gun was dancing all around my temple ... I didn't -- I didn't feel real favorable towards him.
“Lawyer: Okay. Well, did you use the N-word to him as he pointed a gun in your head at your face?
“Paula: Absolutely not.
“Lawyer: Well, then, when did you use it?
“Paula: Probably in telling my husband.
“Lawyer: Okay. Have you used it since then?
“Paula: I'm sure I have, but it's been a very long time.”

The report notes that Deen was held at gunpoint during a 1986 bank robbery.

Later in the exchange, Deen adds: “That's just not a word that we use as time has gone on. Things have changed since the '60s in the South. And my children and my brother object to that word being used in any cruel or mean behavior. As well as I do.”

Deen had not commented for the report.

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Paula Deen

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ABC Chalks Up Another Win as NBA Finals Extend to Seven Games

Tuesday night was a win-win for ABC as the network claimed another ratings victory with its coverage of the NBA Finals and the Miami Heat came back to beat the San Antonio Spurs in overtime, ensuring that ABC would get a seventh and deciding game.

Citing Nielsen overnight figures for the key 18-49 demo, TVbytheNumbers.com reports that game six of the championship series scored a 6.5 average rating. “Jimmy Kimmel Live: Game Night” averaged a 2.6 while “NBA Countdown” drew a 3.8. The report notes that the figures are subject to more than the usual adjustments due to the nature of live programming.

The only other broadcast network to put up much of a fight was NBC, which came in a solid second on the strength of its talent competitions. “America’s Got Talent” slipped just one-tenth of a point from last week in viewers 18-49, delivering a 2.9 average, while the two-hour results finale of “The Voice” slipped one-tenth from the finale last spring to a 4.3.

CBS aired an all-repeat lineup of “NCIS” (1.1 average in 18-49), “NCIS: Los Angeles” (0.8) and “Person of Interest” (0.9), while Fox saw a fresh two-hour installment of “So You Think You Can Dance” lose ground, dipping three-tenths from a week ago to a 1.4.

ABC led the way for prime time overall in the 18-49 demo, averaging a 5.4 rating to NBC’s 3.8, Univision’s 1.5, Fox’s 1.4 and CBS’s 0.9. NBC came out on top in total viewers, averaging 14.0 million to 13.7 million for ABC, 6.4 million for CBS, 3.9 million for Fox and 3.7 million for Univision.

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Fox News Panelist Fired

A contributor who has been a familiar face on Fox News has been fired. Deadline.com reports that investment manager and author Tobin Smith, a regular panel member on Fox News’ "Bulls & Bears" and a contributor to both Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, was let go over "sponsored investment research" after he sent out an email and ad flier touting Petrosonic Energy.

While the campaign included a disclaimer that it was paid advertising and Smith didn't mention Petrosonic on air, the promotion became an issue because his NBT Equities Research reportedly banked $50,000 for the campaign.

"Some investors who bought into the company based on Smith’s recommendation contacted [The Wall Street Journal's] Market Watch blog, apparently not having read the disclaimer. Market Watch alerted its News Corp. sibling Fox News and was told that was the first it had heard of the matter," the story notes.

Fox Business Network has a rule that contributors aren't allowed "to accept financial consideration of any kind whatsoever to issue research, advertisements, or to otherwise promote individual stocks or securities,” the report notes.

tobin-smith.jpgTobin Smith

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Selma Blair Leaves Charlie Sheen's 'Anger Management' as Ugly Details Surface

The producer of the FX comedy series "Anger Management" revealed that Selma Blair is leaving the show, with the news coming after star Charlie Sheen started a campaign to get her fired, Nellie Andreeva reports on Deadline.com. Producer Lionsgate confirmed that Blair is off the show, the story reports.

The move comes after Blair questioned Sheen’s work ethic, as previously reported. Ugly details about Sheen's treatment of Blair emerged in the aftermath.

"I hear Charlie Sheen 'fired' her via text, in which he called the actress a 'c--t,'” Andreeva writes. “And it was not the only abusive, expletives-filled text she had received from Sheen, who also serves as an executive producer on 'Anger Management.'"

Andreeva adds: "I also hear that Blair was not the only member of the show's cast and crew that was frustrated by Sheen’s work habits as I hear they would often sit and wait for hours for him to show up for work. Although it was Blair voicing her concerns that got Sheen to flip out and get her sacked."

Her role won't be recast, the story notes. It's likely that the producers will use her departure as a launch pad for another creative makeover, given the show's sagging ratings. The program will stay in production as it retools.

"As for Blair, word is that she is being paid per her contract and no legal action is in the cards, at least not for now," Andreeva notes.

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Selma Blair

 

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'Lord of the Rings' Actress Cast in Her First TV Role

An actress known for her work in the "Lord of the Rings" movies and a string of indie films has been cast in her first television role, reports Deadline.com.

Liv Tyler joins "The Leftovers," an HBO drama pilot from "Lost" co-creator Damon Lindelof based on Tom Perrotta's book. The project tells the story of the people who didn't make the cut following the Rapture.

Tyler, the daughter of Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler, will play Meg, a woman who is about to get married but ends up targeted by a cult for recruitment.

Tyler’s career has been focused on the big screen, with roles in “Stealing Beauty,” “Inventing the Abbotts” and “Cookie’s Fortune," among many other feature films.

Liv-Tyler.jpgLiv Tyler

 

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NBC Working With Emmy-Winning Actress on Show About Her Brain Cancer

NBC is working with a four-time Emmy-winning actress on a documentary about her terminal brain cancer, reports the New York Post.

Valerie Harper, 73, was diagnosed in March, with doctors giving her as little as three months to live. Since then, she has given NBC full access to her life, taping her and her husband, Tony Cacciotti, and their daughter, Cristina.

While the program doesn't yet have a scheduled air date, it will be shown in prime time.

Harper won four Emmys in the 1970s -- three for "Mary Tyler Moore" and one for "Rhoda."

Thumbnail image for valerie-harper.jpgValerie Harper

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Why Betty White Wrote a Cursive Letter to the Internet

Actress Betty White penned a handwritten letter to the Internet, which surfaced on the Facebook page for her TV Land show “Hot in Cleveland,” EW.com’s Inside TV reports. The purpose of the letter is to ask fans of the show to tune in to tonight’s live season-five premiere of the show.

The letter, posted Tuesday, is written in cursive and is addressed, "Dear Internet,” the piece reports. The note, the story says, "is basically perfect."

She writes, "Who knew at 91 that I would be blessed to work on yet another wonderful and fun sitcom! And boy, do I have a blast. Where else could I get to be a bride, a jailbird, a college freshman, and a fugitive in Amish Country?”

In a P.S., she adds, "Spread the word! Hot in Cleveland LIVE (and blooper free!) tomorrow night at 10/9 C." She ends the note with a heart, and signs her name with "XOXO."

Here it is:

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Bryan Cranston Reveals His Next Move After 'Breaking Bad' Wraps Final Season

"Breaking Bad" star and perennial Emmy winner Bryan Cranston disclosed what his plans are following the AMC drama’s final season, which begins in August, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Cranston, who won three consecutive Emmys for outstanding lead actor from 2008-2010 for his work on “Breaking Bad,” said he plans to record a Samuel L. Jackson monologue for charity -- turning the tables on Jackson, who recently recorded one of Cranston's most memorable "Breaking Bad" monologues to raise money for charity. The speech was a scene from the fourth season in which Cranston’s character, Walter, tells his wife, "I am not in danger, Skyler. I am the danger. … I am the one who knocks!”

“I did see Sammy's monologue, and I'm going to be making one of my own from one of his monologues at some point to help with Alzheimer's research and finding the cure,” Cranston wrote. “I sympathize with him because my mother also had Alzheimer's. It's a horrible disease, but he found a very interesting way to bring attention to it.”

Cranston’s comments appear on a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” post. The actor also noted that he's sad to say goodbye to "Breaking Bad." "To me it's like retiring after winning the Super Bowl,” he wrote.

He also talked about making the switch from his comedic role on "Malcolm in the Middle" to the darkness in "Breaking Bad."

“What I discovered is that everyone has a dark side. It might be unrealized, untapped, but if the right buttons are pushed anyone can become dangerous and I just opened up to it,” he wrote.

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Bryan Cranston

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Nickelodeon Defiant as Pressure Mounts Over Food Ads

Nickelodeon is under pressure to put in place strict nutritional standards for food advertisements, but the network doesn't appear likely to give in to advocacy groups' demands or pressure from lawmakers anytime soon, The New York Times reports.

The Viacom-owned cable network says it believes nutritional standards should be set by regulators and food companies, not the entertainment industry.

"As an entertainment company, Nickelodeon’s primary mission is to make the highest quality entertainment content in the world for kids,” the company said in a written response to four senators who contacted the network last week about the issue. “That is our expertise. We believe strongly that we must leave the science of nutrition to the experts.”

As The Times points out, money is also a big factor in Nickelodeon's decision. Food advertising has fallen on Nickelodeon by 45% from 2008, but it remains the network's third-largest advertising category, after movies and toys.

Nickelodeon's food ads have declined partly because of self-regulation by food companies and because of the network’s own steps to limit some ads for fatty and sugary products.

“Things are moving in the right direction,” said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the advocacy group the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “They’re just moving way too slowly.”

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Disney Channel Orders Comedy Series

Disney Channel has picked up the multicamera half-hour comedy "I Didn't Do It," which stars Olivia Holt of the Disney XD show "Kickin' It," The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

The show will feature Holt as one-half of a set of fraternal twins, with her brother played by newcomer Austin North, as they deal with their freshman year of high school. Each episode starts with a "What just happened?" question, and uses flashbacks to follow the twins' different versions of events.

The network is planning a 2014 debut for the show, with production to get under way in Los Angeles this summer.

olivia-holt.jpgOlivia Holt

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Lukewarm Ratings for New CNN Show

A new CNN show bowed this week to lukewarm ratings. TheWrap.com reports that the cable news channel’s new morning show "New Day" drew 247,000 total viewers, and 95,000 in the 25-54 demographic, for its premiere Monday.

The numbers represent gains over the network's year-earlier time period, but the show still lagged in third place in total viewers against shows on rival networks, the story reports.

Hosted by Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan, the show trailed Fox News Channel’s "Fox & Friends," which drew 1.06 million viewers, and MSNBC's "Morning Joe," which was watched by 355,000. "New Day," however, did beat "Morning Express" on CNN sister network HLN in total viewers, with “Morning Express” drawing 215,000.

In the key news demo, “New Day’s” 95,000 viewers put the show in fourth place, behind “Fox & Friends’” 262,000, “Morning Joe’s” 132,000 and “Morning Express’” 121,000.

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Oxygen Greenlights Wendy Williams Series

A new series produced by Wendy Williams has been greenlighted by Oxygen, reports Deadline.com. The reality show, "Secret Celebrity," is produced by T Group Productions, and Williams will executive produce as part of her first-look deal with Oxygen.

The project features stars in disguise who surprise unsuspecting fans, friends and family, the story adds.

The show has already taped stars including LuAnn de Lesseps, Nick Lachey and Ice-T.

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HBO Passes on Project From Pulitzer Winner

HBO has passed on a project co-written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon and his wife, Ayelet Waldman, reports TheWrap. The project is the period drama pilot "Hobgoblin."

The project, described as "Inglourious Basterds" with magic, is set during World War II and follows a group of conmen and magicians who use their skills to help defeat Adolf Hitler, the story notes. "Black Swan" director Darren Aronofsky was originally attached to direct, which would have marked his first TV project, but he left the pilot earlier this year, the piece adds.

Nevertheless, the project isn't dead, with FX considering picking up the drama.

 

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Music Guru T Bone Burnett Won't Return to 'Nashville'

T Bone Burnett, who has been working as executive music producer for ABC’s “Nashville,” won't return to the country-music drama for its second season, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

Burnett is booked with a slate of other film, TV and recording projects, his manager told the publication. Burnett is married to "Nashville" creator Callie Khouri, and oversaw the creation of more than 100 original recordings and produced and co-produced dozens of original songs for the drama, the piece adds.

Burnett also co-wrote the score for each of the show's first-season episodes. His second-in-command, Buddy Miller, will take over his role on the show.

Burnett is currently working on music for the Coen brothers film "Inside Llewyn Davis."

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Broadcast Ratings: Reality Franchise Hits Season Low

Two major reality franchises each ran into ratings snags in a head-to-head clash Monday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that ABC’s two-hour “The Bachelorette” sank to a season low, while NBC’s two-hour performance finale for “The Voice” was down from last year’s finale. Even so, “The Voice” was strong enough to propel NBC to a big win for the night.

“The Bachelorette” delivered a 1.6 average rating in viewers 18-49, down two-tenths from a week ago and the lowest number of the season. Leading out from it, ABC’s “Mistresses” dipped to a 1.2, also down two-tenths from last week.

NBC’s “The Voice” managed a 3.5 in the 18-49 demo, up two-tenths of a ratings point from last week but down three-tenths from the performance finale a year ago. “The Winner Is ...” delivered a 2.0, rising two-tenths from a week ago.

CBS aired an all-repeat lineup, while Fox mixed repeats and originals. Fox’s fresh installment of “The Goodwin Games” mustered only a 0.5 average rating in adults 18-49, slipping one-tenths from the previous week. The broadcast airing of “Anger Management” on Fox lost two-tenths from last week, settling for a 0.5.

For prime time overall, NBC was well ahead of the pack with a 3.0 average rating in the 18-49 demo, leading ABC (1.5 average), Univision (1.4), CBS (0.9) and Fox (0.6). NBC also claimed a huge win in total viewers, averaging 10.5 million to ABC’s 4.9 million, CBS’s 4.1 million, Univision’s 3.8 million and Fox’s 1.5 million.

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Video: Comedian Russell Brand Hijacks MSNBC Show in Interview Gone Haywire

A visit Monday morning by Russell Brand to the MSNBC show “Morning Joe” got out of hand, The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

“After several minutes of giggles, quips at Brand's expense and, eventually, calling him by the wrong name, Brand appears to tire of the shenanigans and takes the interview into his own hands,” THR reports.

At one point Brand asks host Mika Brzezinski and panel members Katty Kay and Brian Shactman: "Is this what you all do for a living? ... You convey news to the people of America? People of America, we're gonna to be OK. Everything's alright. These are your trusted anchors."

THR adds: “Looking on sheepishly, the hosts watch as Brand hijacks their segment and begins delivering news to the camera himself. But in typical Brand fashion, he also takes the opportunity to call Brzezinski a ‘shaft grasper,’ drawing attention to the water bottle she holds in her hands.”

Brand quips: "You need to lose that ring, Mika, cause it don't mean nothing to ya.”

The video is below. It starts out with cringe-inducing remarks by Brzezinski saying she doesn't know who Brand is. The video runs eight and a half minutes, but the best fireworks come near the end.

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Oscar Winner to Direct AMC Project

The Academy Award-winning director of “Silence of the Lambs” has signed on to direct and executive produce an upcoming AMC project. Deadline.com reports that Jonathan Demme has joined the drama pilot “Line of Sight.”

“The project, from ‘Brotherhood’ creator Blake Masters, marks AMC’s first foray into the sci-fi genre,” the story reports. “Co-produced by Fox TV Studios and AMC Studios, ‘Line of Sight’ tells the story of Lewis Bernt, a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator who survives a mysterious plane crash, bringing him on an emotionally disorienting quest to discover the accident’s cause.”

Demme won the Oscar for best director in 1992 for “Silence of the Lambs.” His other films include “Philadelphia,” “Married to the Mob” and “Something Wild.”

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'Community' Creator Changes His Tune, Apologizes for Rant

After unleashing more than a few unkind words about the previous season of NBC’s “Community,” show creator Dan Harmon -- who has been rehired as showrunner -- offered an apology for what he called his “very un-Community” comments, Deadline.com reports.

“He offered a mea culpa to the show’s fans, its crew, and the writers on the fourth season that Harmon was absent for: ‘I’m sorry I pooped on your work.’ Harmon also apologized for using language that ‘dehumanize[d] the developmentally disabled’ and for ‘using the word “rape” in a comedic context,’” the story reports.

As we reported previously, Harmon on Sunday slammed season four of the show, which was run by writers David Guarascio and Moses Port after Harmon was fired. Among his comments: “It’s very much like an impression and an unflattering one. It’s 13 episodes of ‘I’m Dan Harmon!’ I’m going back to work tomorrow morning and I’m just like, do I talk like that?”

Deadline notes that Harmon, “who is heading back for Season 5 with writer Chris McKenna, compared catching up on the Guarascio and Port-led fourth season to ‘flipping through Instagram watching your girlfriend blow a million [people].’”

“He also didn’t mince words when it came to describing Sony TV’s decision to remove him from the show in the first place,” the piece adds, quoting Harmon’s online rant:

“There’s a system in place that’s winning because I would have had too much leverage, too much power, too much salary as would have a lot of writers coming into Season 4. So they just flushed us, and replaced us with two guys who didn’t know what they were getting into… Writers fighting other writers is the American Dream in the eyes of Sony. That is what they want. They want creative people rewriting each other. They want creative people replacing each other. They want us interchangeable. They want to think about writing the way they think about the guy on assembly line 24 that puts the final screw in the fucking Playstation… I shouldn’t even say ‘they’ because it’s an ‘it,’ it’s a fucking machine. There isn’t a single person that works at that corporation that isn’t also thought of like that by the fucking SkyNet… The system just wants us all to not be human.”

Deadline adds: “Harmon revealed he’d recently reached out to Bill Murray in hopes of bringing him on the show despite Season 4 introducing James Brolin as Jeff Winger’s father, the character Harmon had envisioned Murray to play.”

Harmon reportedly wrote: “I always wanted Jeff’s father to be Bill Murray. I named him Jeff Winger after Bill Murray’s character in ‘Stripes.’ There’s something awesome about being held down and watching your family get raped on a beach. It’s liberating.”

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NBC Orders Holiday Special From 'Simpsons' Writer

NBC is bringing aboard a writer/executive producer from “The Simpsons” for an animated holiday project. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the network agreed on a deal to have Mike Reiss adapt his best-selling children's book "How Murray Saved Christmas" for a 2014 holiday special.

The book will be turned into an hourllong musical comedy special, the piece notes, adding: “The special will follow the events of Reiss' best-seller and centers on a cranky deli owner named Murray Kleiner who is forced to fill in for Santa one Christmas and does a weirdly wonderful job.”

In a press release, NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke said: “’Murray’ is the perfect project to get audiences into the holiday spirit, and Mike’s impressive comedic background makes him a great choice to put all the pieces together.”

Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Walter Murphy (“Ted,” “Family Guy”) will compose music for the project.

“Reiss is a former writer and EP on ‘The Simpsons’ and created the short-lived animated comedy ‘The Critic,’” THR notes. “His credits include ‘Not Necessarily the News,’ ‘The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson,’ ‘It's Garry Shandling's Show’ and ‘The Simpsons Movie.’”

The piece adds: “For NBC, ‘Murray’ comes as the network is ramping up on specials and limited series, adding ABC's Quinn Taylor as vp movie, miniseries and international co-productions. This holiday season, NBC will air a live three-hour performance of ‘The Sound of Music’ from ‘Smash's’ Craig Zadan and Neil Meron and starring Carrie Underwood.”

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Unusual Demand by Star Jennifer Love Hewitt Puts 'Client List' Renewal in Jeopardy

The third-season renewal of Lifetime's drama series "The Client List" is hung up because of a real-life drama involving star Jennifer Love Hewitt's baby daddy, reports Deadline.com.

The network and the show's producers are trying to decide how to deal with Hewitt's demands and her pregnancy, which she announced two weeks ago.

Hewitt, who is an executive producer on the series, wants a third-season story line to focus on the character played by Brian Hallisay, her real-life fiance and the father of her unborn child, the story reports. According to Hewitt’s plan, Hallisay would reportedly play her character's baby daddy on the show in a major story arc.

But her vision conflicts with the showrunner's ideas, which focus on the series' male lead Colin Egglesfield, according to the report. Hallisay, who started on the show as a recurring character and was later promoted to a regular, reportedly does not have broad support among network executives.

Currently the two sides are at a standstill, leading to a delay in the show’s renewal. While a compromise appears to be within reach, the piece notes that both sides also appear to be prepared to walk away from the show.

A representative for Hewitt is quoted in the report saying: “There are many story lines we are exploring. So any suggestion that we are not doing our best to develop a great season is simply not accurate.”

jennifer-love-hewitt2.jpgJennifer Love Hewitt

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ABC Executive Jumps to NBC

NBC has snagged another key executive from rival broadcast network ABC. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that NBC hired Quinn Taylor as executive vice president of movie, miniseries and international co-productions.

Taylor was previously senior vice president of movies, miniseries and acquisitions at the ABC Entertainment Group. He will report to NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke.

Taylor follows former ABC colleagues Jeff Bader and Steve Kern in making the jump to NBC, as previously reported.

In a statement, Salke said: "NBC is excited to be back in the longform programming business -- an area where the network has played a leadership role in the past -- and we are thrilled that Quinn will be bringing his vision, experience and creative talent to the development of movies and miniseries for NBC.”

Like other broadcasters, NBC is beefing up its limited series and co-production efforts to round out its schedule with original programming that's less costly. Co-productions can be economic, with episodic license fees costing as little as $250,000, the story notes.

At ABC, Taylor was involved in co-productions such as "Rookie Blue" and the Canadian show "Motive," according to the piece.

quinn-taylor.jpgQuinn Taylor

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Fox News Sued Over Suicide Telecast

Fox News has been sued by the family of an Arizona man whose suicide was televised live, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq.

Angela Rodriguez, the mother of the man's three sons, who are 9, 13 and 15 years old, alleges in a complaint that they suffered extreme emotional distress after seeing an online video of the suicide, the story notes. Fox News Channel, Fox Entertainment Group and News Corp. are named as plaintiffs.

The footage was watched by millions of viewers when it aired live on the cable network in September 2012, as Fox News covered an 80-mile police pursuit of JoDon Romero. During the chase, Romero fired at squad cars and news helicopters, eventually leaving his car in the desert and running down a dirt road before shooting himself in the head.

When the event aired on "Studio B with Shepard Smith," Smith, who had been narrating the coverage, yelled at the control room to stop airing the footage. "Get off, get off, get off, get off, get off, get off, get off -- get off it, get off it, get off it!" he yelled, the piece reports. Smith later apologized for airing the footage.

The lawsuit says Romero's three sons were in school at the time, and "Rumor of a suicide broadcast on live television generated considerable buzz among the students at the school, particularly with respect to the two older boys." The boys found footage on YouTube and then "as they watched, they realized in horror that they were watching their father."

Neither of the two older children has returned to school since watching the footage, and a psychologist has found they have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, the lawsuit alleges.

Fox News said it won't comment on pending litigation.

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Ouch: Creator of NBC's 'Community' Sounds Off About the Show's Recent Season

Dan Harmon, the creator of the NBC comedy series "Community," had harsh words for the show's fourth season. In his latest Harmontown podcast, he noted that he finally watched the season, in which he wasn't involved after getting booted from the show a year ago, reports TVLine.

With Harmon off the show, many observers felt “Community” lost its edge. As it turns out, Harmon agrees.

He had some unkind words for season four. "I guess I already knew this, but apparently I’m a genius,” he said. “I think I feel pretty comfortable in expressing that [season four] wasn’t my cup of tea."

Referring to his replacements, Moses Port and David Guarascio, he said, "It’s not somebody doing what they do.” He added: "It’s very much like an impression -- an unflattering one. It’s 13 episodes of people doing, ‘Derpy, derpy, der, I’m Dan Harmon, der.’”

He said he felt his replacements "didn’t know what they were getting themselves into." Still, he said, "They tried their best.”

As we reported last week, Harmon is back on board as showrunner for the next season of the show.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for dan-harmon.jpgDan Harmon

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Miss Utah USA Tries to Explain Her Epic Meltdown

Miss Utah USA is explaining her meltdown that took place during the question-and-answer session of the Miss USA pageant as a case of nerves, reports TMZ.com.

As previously reported, Marissa Powell, 21, got into trouble with a halting response that made little sense. Her question was about salary inequality for women.

Powell is telling friends that she spaced out during the question because she was anxious and never really heard what was asked of her, TMZ notes. She said she tried to fake an answer, but just grew more flustered as she pressed forward.

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Ad Exec Avoids Charges Over Choking His Wife

In a development that has some observers convinced that he got off too easy, ad executive and noted art collector Charles Saatchi got off with a warning from British police after being photographed grabbing his wife, celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, by the throat, Reuters reports.

The incident has sparked a debate in Britain over domestic violence, the report notes.

“Photographs of Saatchi, 70, a former advertising tycoon, grasping a tearful Lawson around the neck while the couple were having dinner outside a London restaurant about a week ago were published in a tabloid newspaper on Sunday,” Reuters reports. “On Monday he downplayed the images, saying it was just a ‘playful tiff’ and he was holding her neck to make his point, sparking fury from women's rights group. He said the couple made up although Lawson had moved out while ‘the dust settled.’”

A spokesman for London's Metropolitan Police is quoted in the story saying today: "Yesterday afternoon, Monday June 17, a 70-year-old man voluntarily attended a central London police station and accepted a caution for assault. That would normally be the end of the matter."

Reuters notes: “Under English law, a caution can be given to an adult who admits a minor offense and this is not a criminal conviction but can be used as evidence of bad character in court for another crime. The suspect can be arrested or charged if they do not agree to be cautioned.

“Lawson, 53, dubbed the domestic goddess after the title of one of her cook books and known for her flirtatious kitchen manner, has made no public comment on the incident that happened outside a seafood restaurant in upmarket Mayfair on June 9.”

The incident and the response by British authorities sparked an outcry online and in the print media, with observers criticizing both Saatchi’s behavior and the lack of action against him.

“Saatchi told London's Evening Standard, for which he writes a column, that he recognized the impact of the pictures but said they conveyed the wrong impression,” the story notes.

Saatchi told the paper: "There was no grip. It was a playful tiff. The pictures are horrific but give a far more drastic and violent impression of what took place.”

Saatchi, who along with his brother ran Saatchi & Saatchi -- the world's largest advertising agency -- in the 1980s, added: "Nigella's tears were because we both hate arguing, not because she had been hurt."

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'Storage Wars' Star Wins Puny Judgment in Porn Video Case

"Storage Wars" star Brandi Passante won a lawsuit over a porn video that she claimed was fake, but the judge awarded her the small sum of $750, reports TheWrap.

Judge James V. Selna found in her favor Friday, granting her motion for a default judgment.

Passante had sued Hunter Moore, alleging that he distributed a porn video that falsely claimed to feature her. Passante had sought statutory damages of $5,250, but Selna awarded her the smaller amount, citing "lack of evidentiary support," the story notes.

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Two-Time Oscar Nominee Joins Guillermo del Toro's FX Vampire Project

A two-time Academy Award nominee has been cast in a project based on the vampire trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, reports EW.com's Inside TV. Actor John Hurt rejoins del Toro, signing on for the pilot for "The Strain."

Hurt, 73, is known for movies such as "The Elephant Man" and television shows including "Merlin," and previously worked with del Toro on his 2004 movie "Hellboy." In “The Strain” he will play professor Abraham Setrakian, a Holocaust survivor.

Production on "The Strain" starts in September. Del Toro will co-write and direct the pilot.

“I am incredibly happy to be reunited with John, who is one of the greatest actors in the world and one of my favorite people ever,” del Toro said in a statement. “Chuck and I always visualized him while writing 'The Strain' novels and he is absolutely perfect for the part!”

Hurt received Oscar nominations for “Midnight Express” in 1979 and “The Elephant Man” in 1981, and won a Golden Globe for “Midnight Express.”

john-hurt.jpgJohn Hurt

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Amazon Moves Into Drama With Project Based on Detective Series

Amazon Studios has ordered a project based on a series of detective novels. Deadline.com reports that Amazon greenlighted a pilot based on Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch books.

Amazon has previously focused on comedies and children's programming, ordering two comedies and three kids' shows to series a few weeks ago. But “Bosch,” the latest effort from the online retailer's streaming service, is a cop drama based on Connelly's novels about a homicide detective in Los Angeles.

The pilot was written by Connelly and "Treme" co-creator and executive producer Eric Overmeyer, with both men also executive producing.

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CBS News Names National Editor

CBS News has named a new national editor. TVNewser.com reports that the news division announced Monday it has appointed Terri Stewart to the position.

Stewart, who has been with CBS since 1986, has most recently worked as the northeast bureau chief for the network. She replaces Bill Felling, who was named executive director of news services for the network a few weeks ago.

Stewart will oversee day-to-day coverage of breaking news and special events.

Announcing the appointment was CBS News VP Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews, who said in a memo to staffers: “Over the years [Stewart] has held a number of key positions at the Broadcast Center, coordinating news coverage and often shedding light on stories and people with little visibility. In addition to her journalistic credentials and her loyalty to CBS News, Terri is a confident leader in the newsroom and has the respect of her colleagues at CBS News.”

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HBO's 'True Blood' Premieres to Lower Viewer Numbers

The sixth-season premiere of HBO's "True Blood" was down from the numbers for the show’s fifth-season opener, reports B&C.

The vampire drama drew 4.5 million viewers to its Sunday premiere, down 13% from its fifth-season premiere and off 11% from its finale last August, the story adds.

Across two airings, about 5.6 million total viewers tuned in to the episode. The program faced competition from the NBA Finals on ABC.

The HBO special “#TrueBlood: Live from the Set,” a companion piece to the premiere featuring a cast Q&A, attracted 2.3 million viewers, the report notes.

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Selma Blair's Future on 'Anger Management' in Limbo as Execs Try to Patch Things Up With Sheen

Selma Blair's future on the FX comedy "Anger Management" is reportedly in limbo, as executives try to make peace after Charlie Sheen expressed his determination to fire the actress, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

As previously reported, Sheen reportedly "fired" Blair from the show, after she apparently complained to executives that he is hard to work with.

"This is a move brimming with irony, starting of course with the name of the show as the dismissal attempt reportedly stemmed from Sheen getting enraged over comments made by Blair that questioned his work ethic,” Andreeva writes. “Also, Sheen actually went to the mat for Blair in the original casting process. She was his choice, he spoke very highly of her in TV interviews and, despite FX not going with Blair in the role of the therapist after the final round of auditions, Sheen made a push and got her the part."

Andreeva adds: "There is no official word on Blair’s status on the show with everyone involved keeping mum, but in a recent tweet posted on the show’s first day back from a monthlong hiatus for creative tweaking in light of the recent ratings slump, Blair was more than complimentary of Sheen: ‘Thanks for a great day back @charliesheen. You looked pretty darn handsome.’“

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Selma-Blair.jpgSelma Blair

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Wanna Advertise in the Super Bowl Next Year? There's a Catch: You'll Also Be Asked to Buy Ad Time on a Brand-New Cable Network

To get one of the valuable ad slots in next year's Super Bowl you'll be asked to also buy some ad time in a brand-new cable network, reports our good friend Brian Steinberg in an exclusive story in Variety

Steinberg, who until recently was working at our sibling publication Ad Age, writes at his new home, Variety: "To get one of the valuable ad slots available during [Fox's] broadcast of the Super Bowl in 2014, sponsors have been told they must buy time in other Fox Sports content, according to ad buyers -- with emphasis placed on Fox Sports 1. The new [Fox Sports 1] is slated to launch August 17 in more than 90 million homes with more than 5,000 hours of programming that include broadcasts of college football, college basketball, NASCAR, soccer and UFC."

The article adds: " 'For the past two years, in addition to buying a unit in the game, there has been a need to support other sports properties within a network’s respective media groups. A couple of years ago, NBC required it. Last year, CBS required it. And this year is no different,' said one ad buyer with knowledge of the tone of Super Bowl ad talks. 'Clearly, FS1 is a priority for [Fox],' the buyer added."

Steinberg continues, "To be sure, Fox is open to the purchase of ad packages that do not include FS1, such as the Super Bowl pre-game show, this buyer said, but the emerging network is getting most of the spotlight in pitches to advertisers."

To read all of Steinberg's insight into the selling of the 2014 Super Bowl, we urge you to click on the link in our first paragraph, above, and read the complete original story.

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Star of CBS Sitcom Coming to Broadway to Play Transgender Rock Star

The star of a CBS sitcom will be coming to Broadway early next year to play the lead in the musical "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," reports The New York Times' Arts Beat.

According to the report, "Neil Patrick Harris has made no secret that he wants to return to Broadway after his long run as the womanizing Barney Stinson on TV’s 'How I Met Your Mother' wraps up. Now he’s making good on the promise, aiming to star in a Broadway production of the musical 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' in the spring of 2014, the producers of the show announced on Monday."

The story continues, "Mr. Harris, who has won raves -- and an Emmy Award -- as the tireless host of the Tony Awards, will play the title character, an East German-born, transgender rock singer. The production will be the first Broadway mounting of the show, which features a book by John Cameron Mitchell and music and lyrics by Stephen Trask. Mr. Mitchell starred as Hedwig in the original production Off Broadway in 1998 and re-created his role when he directed the 2001 film adaptation."

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Neil Patrick Harris performing during the Tony Awards broadcast in 2011

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ABC Continues to Reap Ratings Rewards From NBA Finals

As the NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat move toward the series’ final stages, ABC continues to rack up ratings wins.

Based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo, the Alphabet Network coasted to another dominating win Sunday night as the Spurs gained the upper hand with a win in the pivotal game five, taking a 3-2 series lead.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the game earned a 5.6 average rating in adults 18-49. ABC’s warmup programming saw “Jimmy Kimmel Live: Game Night” average a 1.9, while “NBA Countdown” delivered a 2.5. The report notes that the preliminary numbers are subject to significant adjustments due to the nature of live programming.

The other broadcast networks didn’t put up much of a fight. Fox aired all repeats, while CBS opened with a fresh installment of “60 Minutes” before rolling out repeats. “60 Minutes” sank to a season-low 0.9, slipping three-tenths of a point from last week in the 18-49 demo.

NBC had the “2013 Miss USA Competition,” which averaged only a 1.3 in 18-49 over two hours -- down significantly from last year’s 1.8. NBC filled an hour with a repeat of “The Voice” (0.8 average), but got a boost in the 7-8 p.m. hour with the conclusion of the U.S. Open golf tournament, which averaged a 2.1 during that hour.

When all was said and done, prime time was a runaway for ABC, with a 4.7 average in viewers 18-49, followed by NBC (1.4 average), Fox (0.9), Univision (0.8) and CBS (0.6). ABC was also way out in front of the pack in total viewers, averaging 12.2 million to lead NBC (5.3 million), CBS (4.2 million), Fox (2.0 million) and Univision (1.9 million).

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Here's What Diahann Carroll, Cloris Leachman, George Lucas, Debra Messing, Holly Hunter and a Lot of Other Important People in Entertainment Were Doing a Few Nights Ago

Entertainment luminaries including January Jones, Diahann Carroll, Laura Linney, Jenna Elfman, Cloris Leachman, George Lucas and Holly Hunter gathered in Beverly Hills June 12 for the Women in Film 2013 Crystal + Lucy Awards.

The event marked the organization’s 40th anniversary. TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin was on the scene to file an eyewitness account of the gala honoring standout achievements by women in entertainment, and marking where things stand in the ongoing effort to achieve gender equality.

Please click here to read Atkin’s insightful report on the event.

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CBS Unveils 2013-14 Premiere Dates, Including Final Season for a Huge Hit Show and a New Thursday Comedy Block

CBS today announced its fall 2013 premiere dates, with almost all of its new and returning series set to premiere during the season’s official premiere week of Sept. 23-29.

Included in the network’s plans for the season is a special launch for the final season of the hit series “How I Met Your Mother,” which will return for season nine with a one-hour episode Monday, Sept. 23.

The season will also feature a new two-hour Thursday night comedy block, with veteran shows “The Big Bang Theory” at 8 p.m. and “Two and a Half Men” at 9:30 sandwiching new series “The Millers” at 8:30 and “The Crazy Ones” at 9 p.m.

In addition, "The 65th Primetime Emmy Awards" will air live Sunday, Sept. 22, the network announced.

Premiere dates for new shows are as follows: "Mom" and "Hostages" premiere Monday, Sept. 23; "The Millers" and "The Crazy Ones" premiere Thursday, Sept. 26; "We Are Men" premieres Monday, Sept. 30.

"Survivor" will bow early, with a special 90-minute premiere set for Wednesday, Sept. 18.

The midseason drama "Intelligence" will premiere Feb. 24.

Please click here to see the full schedule and to read the full press release from CBS.

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Long-Running MDA Telethon Lands on a Major Broadcast Network

The annual Labor Day weekend telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association has found a new broadcast home. The telethon founded by Jerry Lewis -- and hosted by the comedian from its inception in 1966 until 2010 -- moves to ABC, where this year’s event will air Sept. 1.

The event is now known as the “MDA Show of Strength Telethon,” and has been scaled back to two hours. It will air on ABC stations nationwide at 9 p.m. ET.

The arrangement marks the first time in the history of the telethon that it will air on a single network. In the past the organization partnered with a variety of network affiliates in various markets, with most of the stations in recent years being ABC affiliates.

Please click here to read additional details in the press release from ABC.

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Fox News Lashes Out at HBO Series as 'Liberal Fantasy'

A Fox News Channel show lambasted an HBO series as a "liberal fantasy," reports Deadline.com. The Fox News show “The Five” was reacting to a new trailer for the second season of the drama series "The Newsroom."

“The Five” co-host Greg Gutfeld reacted to how the program depicted the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street movement. "So Hollywood gets everything wrong again,” Gutfeld said. “If 'Newsroom' covered Roman Polanski’s crimes, they’d change the 13-year-old girl to 13-year-old Scotch.”

Last season, the drama series called the Tea Party the "American Taliban," the story notes.

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Video: Miss Utah USA Flubs Q&A During Miss USA Pageant

It’s being compared to an infamous flubbed answer given by Miss South Carolina Teen USA 2007 that became an Internet sensation. USA Today reports that Miss Utah USA, Marissa Powell, 21, got in trouble during the Q&A portion of Sunday’s Miss USA pageant, which aired on NBC.

Here’s a video showing Powell’s struggle in her big moment, along with a bit of the enduring “such as” clip from 2007 featuring Miss South Carolina Teen USA Caitlin Upton:

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Report: Charlie Sheen 'Fires' Selma Blair From 'Anger Management'

Charlie Sheen has reportedly "fired" actress Selma Blair from "Anger Management," saying he refuses to shoot if she comes on the set, reports TMZ.com.

The ill feelings apparently started when Blair complained to the show's executives that Sheen was hard to work with, alleging that he's late and has a poor work ethic. Sheen found out about the complaints and felt she was out of line, given that he's the show’s star. Blair plays Dr. Kate Wales, a therapist and colleague of Sheen's character.

He's now telling people that he "fired" Blair, although the story notes that it's not clear how official it is. Sheen has told executives that if Blair shows up to the set today (Monday), he will refuse to work.

Executives are hoping the dispute will blow over, the piece adds.

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Selma Blair

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Co-Founder of Second City Dies

One of the founders of the Chicago-based improvisational comedy troupe Second City has died. The Chicago Tribune reports that group co-founder Bernard "Bernie" Sahlins died Sunday at 90.

Sahlins founded Second City in 1959 with Paul Sills and Howard Alk.

"It is hard to overstate Sahlins' influence on the growth and innovation of sketch comedy, and on any entertainment that involves performers making things up based on suggestions from the audience. He also was famous for spotting big talents, quickly and early," the obituary notes.

Among his discoveries are Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner and James and John Belushi, the story notes.

"Bernie was a mischievous imp with the mind of Bertrand Russell," said George Wendt, known for his role as Norm Peterson on "Cheers" and who started his acting career under Sahlins.

bernard-sahlins.jpgBernard Sahlins

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Netflix Signs Its Largest Deal Ever for First-Run Content

Netflix has signed its largest-ever deal for original first-run content. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the deal with DreamWorks Animation makes the streaming site the premiere home of new original television programs based on the studio's franchises.

DreamWorks Animation will debut original shows on Netflix, with the deal covering more than 300 hours of new programming, the story says. The deal is part of DreamWorks' plan to expand its TV production and distribution.

Current franchises include "Shrek," "Madagascar," "Kung Fu Panda" and "How to Train Your Dragon," while the company also owns classic characters such as Frosty the Snowman and Lassie.

The first series for Netflix is expected to air sometime in 2014, although timing and financial details weren't disclosed.

“Netflix is a visionary company that continues to redefine the way audiences watch television, and it is a thrill to add to their growing momentum," DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg said.

The agreement doesn't impact DreamWorks Animation shows already airing on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, the piece adds.

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How 'Little House on the Prairie' Villainess Became a Gay Icon

Known for her role in the 1970s as the villainess Nellie Oleson in the classic television series "Little House on the Prairie," actress Alison Arngrim has turned that notoriety into gay fandom, reports The New York Times.

Arngrim, 51, tells The Times she spent years trying to shake her image, even playing a prostitute on "Fantasy Island," but failed. Her goal became even harder when "Little House" grew into a syndicated worldwide hit. Nellie was once voted as the No. 1 female villain in TV history, the story notes.

“I remember thinking, ‘Hmm, I’m not working much,’ ” she said. “Instead of fighting it, I decided to grab Nellie and run with her and never look back.”'

She added, “I turned toward the people who were still clapping the loudest for her.” That group? Gay men, the piece notes.

Ever since, she's been working nonstop, including performing a one-woman show called "Confessions of a Prairie Bitch" and signing autographs and selling copies of her 2010 memoir at gay-friendly establishments.

Nellie appeals to the gay crowd because of her clothing and her "quick turn of phrase," notes Lady Bunny, the D.J. drag queen.

"Little Nellie was hilarious with that hair and those petticoats, kind of like a drag queen in training,” Lady Bunny said. "Nellie was also a master of the quick turn of phrase to put people in their place. We always identify with that because it’s how we survived growing up."

Arngrim noted that her character is especially popular in France. "It’s similar to David Hasselhoff and Germany,” she said. “They don’t think Nellie is mean. They just think she’s French.”

alison-arngrim.jpgAlison Arngrim

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Video: Uproar Over Photos Showing TV Chef Apparently Being Choked by Her Ad Executive Husband

Photos surfaced that appear to show a celebrity chef being grabbed by the throat by her husband at a restaurant, sparking an uproar in the media over what some observers say looked like a violent encounter.

The chef is Nigella Lawson, who stars on the ABC cooking competition show “The Taste.” Her husband is advertising magnate Charles Saatchi.

“The photos, published by UK newspaper The Mirror's Sunday paper, the Sunday People, show Lawson, 53, at a table enshrouded in greenery outside a restaurant with a man who appears to be Saatchi, 70. In the pictures, his hand is at her throat as she appears to be stunned by his grasp,” ABC News reports. “In another picture, the man is grabbing at Lawson's nose as she shuts her eyes.”

The newspaper interviewed other diners about the incident, and they said it appeared to be a violent encounter, ABC News reports.

Said one witness: "It was utterly shocking to watch. I have no doubt she was scared. It was horrific, really. She was very tearful and was constantly dabbing her eyes."

The Mirror identified the restaurant as Scott's in London's affluent Mayfair district.

“A Scotland Yard spokesman said officers are looking ‘to establish the facts in order to assess whether an investigation is necessary,’” ABC News reports. “No arrests have been made, the spokesman said.”

Here’s a video report:

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Disney Channel Orders Eagerly Anticipated Sequel Series

Disney Channel has placed a series order for a show that is a sequel to a successful comedy series. MTV.com reports that the cable channel placed an order for “Girl Meets World,” a spinoff of “Boy Meets World.”

The show is set for a 2014 premiere.

“Fans have been buzzing about the '90s sitcom reboot ever since news of the pilot broke late last year,” the story notes. “Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel are reprising their roles as Cory Matthews and Topanga Lawrence, but the show will focus on their 13-year-old daughter, Riley Matthews, played by newcomer Rowan Blanchard. Sabrina Carpenter will play Maya, Riley’s best friend.”

The series will reportedly be set in New York and will track Riley’s adventures as a seventh-grader -- including dealing with her history teacher dad.

“In addition to Ben and Danielle, ‘Girl Meets World’ could see the return of other beloved ‘Boy Meets World’ actors,” the piece reports. “While filming the pilot, Blanchard Instagrammed photos of former stars Rider Strong (bad-boy bestie Shawn), Will Friedle (Cory's dim-witted brother) and Maitland Ward Baxter (Rachel McGuire) visiting set.”

Production is set to get under way in Los Angeles this summer.

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Living Legend Bruce Rosenblum, Who Left Warner Bros. After Losing a Power Struggle There, Joins the Legendary Co-Producers of Many Blockbusters, Including '300,' 'Inception,' 'The Hangover' Trilogy and the Recent 'Superman' Reboot

Bruce Rosenblum, who left his job as president of the Warner Bros. Television Group a month ago, has landed on his feet. Nellie Andreeva reports on Deadline.com that Rosenblum has joined Legendary Entertainment.

Rosenblum takes the job of president of the company’s newly launched Legendary Television and Digital Media. “Rosenblum will help set up a business model for Legendary’s expansion into television and digital as it plans to produce programming across linear and non-linear ‘on-demand’ platforms globally and pursue global digital distribution of its content for broadband, mobile and emerging technologies,” Andreeva writes. “The division will function autonomously, without the backing of a studio as Legendary, a well-capitalized company valued at $3 billion, mulls its next move as its partnership with Warner Bros. on the feature side is up at the end of the year.”

On the motion picture side Legendary, through its partnership with Warner Bros. and others, has had phenomenal success. Some of its movies include "300," "Inception," "The Hangover" trilogy, "The Dark Knight Rises" and the recent "Superman" reboot "Man of Steel."

Rosenblum left Warner Bros. after he lost a bruising power struggle to be named chief of the studio. That job went to Home Entertainment Group President Kevin Tsujihara. 

Andreeva adds: “This represents a much bigger and more ambitious foray into television than Legendary’s first entry into the space in 2011 when the company launched a TV division in conjunction with a development/production deal at Warner Bros. Television, the TV studio which was under Rosenblum’s purview. A year and a half later, Legendary opted to proactively end the deal and dissolve the TV division headed by Jeremy Elice, with sources citing Legendary management’s reservations towards the traditional TV development model, which they felt was not for the company, which tends to produce content in non-traditional ways.”

Andreeva notes that Legendary kept the door open at that time for a return to the TV business.

“I hear Legendary had been looking for the right executive to lead their ambitious expansion in the TV and digital arenas and began talking to Rosenblum when he became available,” she notes.

Rosenblum will report to Legendary founder and CEO Thomas Tull.

Said Tull: “Bruce has an outstanding track record in the business, and he will be instantly additive to the team in our efforts to continue to make world-class content for consumers, however and wherever they access that content.”

bruce-rosenblum.jpgBruce Rosenblum

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'Lost' Reunion on Tap for 'Hawaii Five-0'

A "Lost" reunion of sorts will take place on the CBS drama "Hawaii Five-0" this fall. EW.com's Inside TV reports that “Lost” alum Jorge Garcia is slated to join star Daniel Dae Kim on an episode next season.

Kim played Jin-Soo Kwon on ABC’s “Lost,” while Garcia played Hugo “Hurley” Reyes. Garcia will play a conspiracy theorist and share scenes with Kim on “Five-0,” the piece notes.

"Five-0" is moving to Fridays in the fall. The show also has staged other "Lost" reunions, tapping Terry O’Quinn, Tania Raymonde and Reiko Aylesworth in guest roles.

jorge-garcia.jpgJorge Garcia

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ABC Drama Gets a New Series Regular

ABC's "Scandal" has promoted a recurring actor to a series regular for the show's third season. EW.com's Inside TV reports that the series promoted Scott Foley, who plays Jake.

Foley has been a recurring guest star on the program, with his character thrown into a torture pit at the end of the second season, leaving his future in the lurch, the story notes. “Scandal” was created by Shonda Rhimes.

"I’m thrilled to join such a talented, enthusiastic and professional group of people,” Foley said in a statement. “Shonda and company have created a troupe of layered, complex characters, and to be able to be part of that is both exciting and humbling."

scott-foley.jpgScott Foley

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Kim Kardashian Gives Birth a Month Early

Reality television star Kim Kardashian gave birth a month early, with her baby girl arriving Saturday, reports People.

Her boyfriend and the father of the child, Kanye West, was at her side for the delivery, even though his busy travel schedule had kept him away leading up to the birth, the story adds.

Kardashian's due date was reportedly in July.

The baby could be featured on her mom's reality series, "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" later this season, as the show is currently in production and will tape for another few months, notes Deadline.com.

There aren't any plans for a baby special, according to a representative for E!, which airs the reality show. It's not clear how much the newborn will be shown on the program, though, since West has vowed never to appear on the show again and has told The New York Times that he will be protective of her.

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Awkward: A Rambling Princess Leia, Talking All About Drugs, Presents George Lucas With His First Emmy. It's the Wild and Crazy Daytime Emmy Awards. We Have a List of All the Winners

"A rambling Carrie Fisher stole the show at the gaffe-riddled 40th annual Daytime Emmy Awards show on Sunday night, June 16, 2013," reports the New York Daily News

The story continues, "Fisher was there to present the award for Best Animated Show -- ultimately collected by George Lucas for 'Clone Wars.'

"But before Fisher read the nominees, the actress said 'Hi, I’m Carrie, I’m an alcoholic. And a drug addict.' Then she said hello to Ozzy Osbourne, who was seated at her feet in the front row."

Fisher continued, according to the story: “Our nominees take us into worlds we have never seen before. Unless, like Ozzy and myself, you have taken acid. We have the same dealer, in which case this category doesn’t apply to you. Our nominees have not taken acid, at least not with me, which really is the only way to do it, as most of you know.” [Fisher] then nodded at the still-seated Lucas, 'Right, George?' ”

To see a complete list of the winners of the 40th Annual Daytime Emmys, please click here. The show was broadcast on HLN.

The article adds, "Despite some awkward moments and a string of technical gaffes, trophies went to 'Days of Our Lives,' which notched the big award for Best Drama, and 'CBS News Sunday Morning,' which won for Best Morning Show, beating 'Good Morning America' and 'Today.'"

One of the show's big mistakes was reported by CBS News and the Associated Press:

"In a major gaffe, Aisha Tyler of 'The Talk' was presenting outstanding talk show, informative, when she opened the envelope and quickly realized she had been given the wrong one.'Oh, interestingly enough, this winner is not in this category,' she said. 'If I read it out I'm going to give another category away.'

"The audience at the Beverly Hilton hotel gasped and Tyler vamped while waiting to be given the correct envelope from the wings. 'There better be a cocktail waiting on my table,' Tyler said.

"She then announced 'The Dr. Oz Show' as the winner.

" 'It's like saying, "Whoops," in the operating room,' Dr. Mehmet Oz said backstage about the goof-up."

Other winners included "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" for best entertainment talk show and Ricki Lake for best talk show host. As previously reported, Lake's show has already been canceled due to low ratings. "The Price Is Right" topped the game show category. 

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Road Rage Over a Parking Space Leads to Arrest of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' Co-Star

This isn't the first time this has happened in Los Angeles: Road rage over a parking space.

According to TMZ, "'Curb Your Enthusiasm' star Jeff Garlin [who plays Larry David's manager Jeff on the show] apparently had some issues curbing his anger Saturday ... the actor was arrested for allegedly smashing a couple car windows following a heated argument.

"Law enforcement sources tell TMZ ... the 51-year-old actor was arrested for felony vandalism in Studio City around 3 pm. We're told Garlin got into a verbal fight with another person over a parking space (hey it's LA) ... which escalated quickly ... and resulted in Garlin allegedly smashing the windows of the other person's Mercedes."

Garlin was reportedly released from jail on Sunday, June 16, 2013.

Garlin is also an executive producer of HBO's 'Curb' and has directed some episodes as well.

Jeff Garlin.jpg

Jeff Garlin

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With Fan Favorite Phil Mickelson in Lead on His Birthday, U.S. Open Ratings for Final Round Today Should Do Well

With fan favorite Phil Mickelson atop the leaderboard at the U.S Open on Father's Day, the ratings for the final round of this major golf tournament should do well. It's also Mickelson's 43rd birthday today, Sunday, June 16, 2013.

Adding to the suspense is that Mickelson has never won the U.S. Open. Writes Karen Crouse in The New York Times, "Mickelson played his first United States Open as an amateur in 1990 and finished 29th. In 21 subsequent starts, he finished as the runner-up a record five times. With an even-par round of 70 on Saturday, Mickelson took the 54-hole lead at Merion Golf Club at one-under-par 209. He was the only player under par."

Crouse adds, "Only once before, in 2006, has Mickelson held the 54-hole lead in this tournament. He went on to finish second."

The world's best known current golfer, Tiger Woods, continued to have his problems in major tournaments and quickly ballooned to 12-over-par during the final round of the Open.

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Looks Like a Lot of Dads Are Going to the Movies: 'Superman' Franchise Reboot 'Man of Steel' Has Already Become a Box Office Behemoth -- Sets June Record

"Faster than a speeding bullet, Warner Bros.’ $225 million franchise reboot 'Man of Steel' has become a box office behemoth," writes Grady Smith at the website of Enterainment Weekly.

Ths Father's Day weekend release "began its run with a massive $125.1 million ($113.1 million over the traditional weekend, $12 million from corporate screening programs on Thursday), breaking the record for the biggest June opening weekend ever, ahead of 'Toy Story 3‘s' $110.3 million bow in 2010. Among 2013 films, 'Man of Steel' had the second best debut of the year behind 'Iron Man 3,' which started with $174.1 million in May."

The USA Today story adds, " 'Man of Steel' garnered a fantastic $29,731 per theater average from its 4,207 locations. The film grossed $13.3 million in IMAX theaters, and 41% of its business came from 3D ticket sales. Audiences were 56 percent male and 44 percent female, a markedly more even gender distribution than Iron Man 3, which had a 61/39 percent male/female split on opening weekend. The dashing looks of Henry Cavill and the appeal of Amy Adams no doubt helped 'Man of Steel' play well with women."

On Rotten Tomatoes, "Man of Steel," with a story co-written by Christopher Nolan -- he of the super-successful "Batman" reboot -- received a rating of 56% from 215 reviewers, and a rating of 82% from more than 80,000 visiters to the site.

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CBS Cuts Obama Speech from Upcoming Summer Series 'Under the Dome'

"President Obama has been left on the cutting room floor of CBS' new summer series 'Under the Dome,' reports our good friend Joe Flint at the Los Angeles Times blog Company Town.

The article continues, "An audio clip of the president that was in the first hour of the series that CBS sent to critics earlier this month will be cut from the episode that will ultimately air, a CBS spokesman said."

The story explains, "In the scene, which comes at the end of the first hour, Obama is heard amid a slew of fake reports talking about what is going in the town. The audio of the president is actually from his remarks following Hurricane Sandy when he said the nation feels 'profoundly for all the families whose lives have been upended. The most important message I have for them is that America is with you. We are standing behind you and we are going to do everything we can…'

"Although the standards and practices department at CBS had approved the use, a decision was made to cut it anyway on Thursday. While use of audio from actual news events for a fictional TV show is not unusual, the network and producer Amblin Television decided that having these remarks from a real tragedy inserted in an entertainment show was inappropriate."

"Under the Dome" is based on a book by Stephen King.The series is schedule to debut on Monday, June 24, 2013.

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USA Today Reports 'Rupert Murdoch-Wendi Deng Divorce Story Gets Juicier' with Oddly Worded Statement from Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair

"Curiouser and curiouser. Day Two of the Rupert Murdorch-Wendi Deng divorce story turned juicier when ex-British prime minister and Deng pal Tony Blair got dragged into it."

So writes reporter Maria Puente on the website of USA Today.

The connection with Blair, according to the article, is speculation that "Deng, 44, had an affair with Blair, 60, who happens to be godfather of [Murdoch and Deng's] two young daughters, Grace, 11, and Chloe, 9.

"Blair, the former New Labor PM who was embraced politically by the conservative Tory/Republican Murdoch when he was in power, denied the claim through a spokesman today. But the way the denial was worded led to more speculation."

Here' s the denial, according to the story: "Today,The Hollywood Reporter asked and got an answer from Blair's London office [about the speculation.] 'If you are asking if they are having an affair, the answer is no,' said the anonymous spokesman. That set off more tweeting about why the spokesman used the present tense instead of the past tense."

As TVWeek previously reported, Murdoch 82, filed for divorce Thursday, June 13, 2013 from wife Wendi Deng Murdoch.

 

 

 

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HBO Executive Named an Ambassador by Obama

An HBO executive was named an ambassador to a major country today, Friday, June 14, 2013, by President Obama, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

The story says, "James Costos, HBO's vp of retail and licensing and a key fundraiser for the president, has been named Ambassador to Spain, the Obama administration announced Friday."

The story continues, "The choice of Costos puts half of a high-profile gay couple in a key post. His partner, White House decorator Michael Smith, previously was said to be interested in a diplomatic post, though Smith's spokesman adamantly denied that chatter. The couple co-hosted key Obama fundraisers in L.A. and New York."

The article adds, " 'HBO series, like "Sex in the City," "The Newsroom" or "Veep," are among the victims of online piracy, one of the main worries of the American concerns about Spain,' Spanish daily El Mundo wrote last weekend in a two-page spread speculating on Costos and Smith's potential imminent arrival in the country. 'If his appointment is confirmed, Costos will be particularly sensitive to this subject and ready to pressure the Spanish government to control the illegal downloads of video and books.' A 2012 GFK study for the Anti-Piracy Federation estimated that some 84 percent of digital content consumed in Spain comes from illegal downloads."

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James Costos

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Rapper 50 Cent Sells Drama Series to Pay Cable

A major pay-cable channel is getting into business with rapper 50 Cent. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Starz has placed a series order for the scripted drama series “Power.” 50 Cent -- also known as Curtis Jackson -- will executive produce.

“’The Good Wife's’ Courtney Kemp Agboh created the drama and will executive produce and serve as showrunner on the CBS Television Studios series. Mark Canton (‘300’) and Randall Emmett (‘End of Watch’) will also executive produce the eight-episode drama.”

Canton and Emmett previously collaborated on the Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger feature “Escape Plan,” the report notes.

“’Power’ revolves around James ‘Ghost’ St. Patrick, a wealthy New York City nightclub owner who caters to the city's elite,” the story reports. “He wants to build an empire, turn the club into a Fortune 500 business, but there's just one problem: Ghost is living a double life. When he's not at the club, he's the kingpin of the most lucrative drug network in New York for a very high-level clientele. His marriage, family and business all become unknowingly threatened as he is tempted to leave his criminal life behind and become the rags-to-riches businessman he wants to be most of all.”

Said Starz CEO Chris Albrecht: "We are thrilled to add ‘Power’ to our growing original programming lineup for 2014. Curtis has a unique and specific vision for the series, lending it an authenticity and voice rarely seen. Courtney has created a rich world and characters not often explored in contemporary drama. There is a rawness and soul to the character of Ghost as he struggles to live between these two worlds that we believe will leave an indelible mark on the audience and stay with them after the credits roll."

THR notes: “The project comes as Starz continues to ramp up production on original series after it opted not to re-up with Disney for its film portfolio 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 been renewed for a second season -- and new limited series ‘The White Queen’ with Janet McTeer.”

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'Smash' Co-Star Joins NBC's Sean Hayes Comedy

An actress who had an impact on the canceled NBC series “Smash” has resurfaced with a new gig. EW.com’s Inside TV reports that Megan Hilty, who was a fan favorite in her appearance as Broadway star Ivy Lynn on “Smash,” is joining the new Sean Hayes comedy "Sean Saves the World."

Hayes, who previously had a guest spot on "Smash," will debut the new NBC show this fall. Hilty will portray Hayes' character's best friend and co-worker, Liz.

The role was originally played by Lindsay Sloane, who left the project in May.

megan-hilty.jpgMegan Hilty

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Why Upfront Prices Are Slow to Rise This Year -- It's Not Just Because Ratings Are Down

The reason broadcast networks are being forced to settle for smaller ad rate increases than in past years isn’t just because ratings in the key 18-49 demo are down, according to a B&C analysis by John Consoli. A more important reason, he says, is the absence of must-buy shows.

“While some series are drawing more than 10 million viewers and decent 18-49 ratings, those shows don't really offer a compelling reason for media buyers to overpay like they may have done in past upfronts,” Consoli writes. “Conversations with assorted media agency executives, none of whom would speak for attribution, say this is the upfront where they have felt more comfortable holding their ground on paying ad rate hikes they believe are too high.”

Marketers are more concerned than ever about the return they get on their advertising investment, the piece notes, and it appears to be a winning strategy for them to drag their heels in negotiations while they shop around among the networks.

“With only a handful of major media agency holding companies representing close to three-quarters of the upfront ad dollars, no network can afford to not do deals with every one of them because of the large chunk of bucks each has to spend,” the piece notes. “So if the agencies each stick to their guns -- with no collusion of course -- they can hold prices down a bit like they have so far.”

One place the networks do have leverage is on Thursday nights, which are still a key for the movie and retail categories.

“That's one of the reasons why Fox did early deals in this upfront before watching negotiations start to lag,” Consoli writes. “Even though ‘American Idol’ saw a 24% decline in its Thursday night 18-49 ratings this season, it still averaged a 3.9 in the demo and 13.1 million viewers with a fairly young median age of 49. And ‘The X Factor’ on Fox on Thursday nights in the fall averaged a not-too-shabby 2.9 18-49 demo rating (also down 24%) with a median age audience of 45. For marketers who need eyeballs on Thursday nights, those two shows can still fill the bill.

“But for advertisers who don't need to be running commercials on Thursday nights, they can opt for NBC's ‘The Voice’ on Mondays or Tuesdays instead. And they can play one against the other in an attempt to get better pricing. ‘The Voice’ has a median age audience of 45, averaged 12.5 million on Mondays and 11.8 million on Tuesdays, with 18-49 ratings of 4.4 and 4.0, respectively.”

Ratings leader CBS wrapped up most of its upfront deals ahead of the other nets, settling for rate hikes toward the low end of forecasts by CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves. The quick wrap by CBS, Consoli notes, indicates that the networks “just don't have that strong a hand to play this year.”

“If any network held out, it should have been CBS, which reportedly got between 7.5% and 8.5% increases, lower than last year's upfront,” the piece adds. “CBS won the 18-49 ratings category for the first time in 21 years (even factoring out the Super Bowl telecast) and also won in viewers and in adults 25-54. The network had the top seven scripted series in total viewers and nine of the top 15 scripted series in the 18-49 demo, most among all the broadcast networks.”

Advertisers spent about $2.6 billion on the CBS upfront, the story notes, adding: “CBS drama ‘NCIS’ was the most-watched series in all of television among viewers and posted a solid 3.2 18-49 rating, which was down just a tick from last season's 3.3. But the series also has a median age of 60, so lots of older folks are watching and many advertisers hold them in less regard, rightly or wrongly. Similarly, ‘NCIS: Los Angeles’ averaged 15 million viewers and a 2.7 18-49 rating, down only slightly from a 2.8, but it too has a median age audience of 60.”

Even CBS’s top sitcom, “The Big Bang Theory,” a Thursday night fixture -- boasting 15.5 million viewers and a 4.8 average rating in 18-49 (up from a 4.4 last year) -- faced some resistance, according to Consoli. “There are some media buyers who at least tried to negotiate by saying they could buy ‘Big Bang’ cheaper in repeats on cable where it airs on TBS,” he wrote.

Please click on the link in the first paragraph to read Consoli’s full report.

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ABC Dominates Thursday With NBA Finals; NBC Has a Rough Night

The Thursday night ratings story was all about the haves and the have-nots: ABC had the NBA Finals and dominated the ratings, based on Nielsen overnights for the 18-49 demo, while everyone else had not, and finished way behind. NBC had an especially challenging night, both in the demo and in total audience.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that game four of the Finals, in which the Miami Heat evened the series with the San Antonio Spurs at two games apiece, averaged a 5.8 rating in viewers 18-49. That was down 3% from game four a year ago. “Jimmy Kimmel Live -- Game Night” averaged a 2.4 for ABC, down 5% from last year, while “NBA Countdown” scored a 2.7, off 4%.

No other network averaged more than a 1.4 for prime time in the 18-49 demo. Fox got a 2.0 out of “Hell’s Kitchen,” which was down 9% from a week ago, but that number was offset by a 0.9 for “Does Someone Have to Go?,” which fell 18%.

CBS aired an all-repeat lineup, while NBC, whose recent ratings issues have been well-chronicled, saw its mix of originals and repeats fall flat.

A fresh installment of “Save Me” on NBC managed only a 0.5 in 18-49 at 8:30, leading out from a “Save Me” repeat that delivered the same number. Repeats of both “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation” also came in at 0.5, while a fresh installment of “Hannibal” at 10 p.m. managed only a 0.7 -- a series low and down 22% from last week.

The report notes that numbers may be adjusted significantly, particularly due to the live sports broadcast.

For prime time overall, the numbers show ABC way out front with a 4.7 average rating in adults 18-49, followed by Univision (1.4 average), Fox (1.4), CBS (1.2) and NBC (0.6). ABC led total viewers with 11.8 million, ahead of CBS (6.5 million), Fox (3.8 million), Univision (3.5 million) and NBC (2.0 million).

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Charlie Sheen Unleashes Venomous Attack on Reality Star -- With Plenty of Choice Sheen-isms

It’s probably not the start of anything resembling his Big Meltdown over Chuck Lorre a while back, but Charlie Sheen showed he might still have a little pent-up anger -- and he still has a way with words -- as he fired a salvo of venom at his latest target: former “Teen Mom” star Farrah Abraham.

TMZ.com reports that Sheen, who stars on FX’s “Anger Management,” became incensed at Abraham for allegedly leaking the content of personal texts between the two. Their initial texts, in which Abraham reportedly was angling for a guest spot on Sheen’s show, have been described as flirtatious, including this one from Sheen:

"You sound fabulous! Would love to get together!!"

But after the texts surfaced on the Internet, Sheen’s mood apparently turned darker. He fired off an angry letter to Abraham, who has been making headlines lately for a sex tape and/or porn tape. Sheen’s letter was published by TMZ. Among the highlights ... well, it’s all highlights, so here it is, in full:

“hey, you desperate guzzler of stagnant douche agua;

“I truly do not recall giving you permission to globally reveal any communication between us. congrats on surviving your lobotomy and an even bigger congratz on the recent attempt at porn.

“your daughter must be so proud.

“please send my number to middle earth and if allowed, eagerly follow it into said abyss and slam the door behind you. the world will collectively sigh as the pungent memory of you vanishes into the pedestrian troposphere of lame-suck and zero-life.

“oh and I'm sure they'll wave the cover charge when they see your tranny-boobs and five o'clock shadow.

“bye!
“cs.”

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for farrah-abraham.jpgFarrah Abraham

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CBS Moves Struggling Show to Saturdays for Final Burnoff

CBS is shifting a struggling series to Saturdays in what will be a final burnoff. Deadline.com reports that the network is moving the docu-series "Brooklyn D.A."

The six-part series has tanked on Tuesday evenings, with the show down 23% from the debut last year of the docu-series "Dogs in the City."

"Brooklyn D.A." will move to Saturdays at 9 p.m. starting June 22.

 

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Who Put Something in Their Coffee? Steven Spielberg and George Lucas Say the Movie Business Will Crash and Burn, and What Will Follow. Implications for TV. And Spielberg Reveals That 'Lincoln' Came 'this close' to Being an Original HBO TV Movie

"George Lucas and Steven Spielberg think the film industry is heading towards a cliff," reports The Verge, the Vox Media website that covers the intersection of technology, science, art, and culture.

The piece adds: "The pair behind some of the most successful franchises in movie history think that conservative programming choices and rapidly evolving distribution schemes have set the stage for a massive upheaval -- and internet-based services may become the dominant medium when moviegoing as we know it crashes and burns."

The article continues: "People simply have a limited amount of time, said Spielberg. 'We can't expand the week. We can't expand the 24-hour cycle. So we're stuck with so many choices.' The enormous amount of available content has pushed movie studios to be more conservative, banking on the power of event films to break through the white noise of a crowded marketplace. 'You're at the point right now where a studio would rather invest $250 million in one film for a real shot at the brass ring,' he said, 'than make a whole bunch of really interesting, deeply personal -- and even maybe historical -- projects that may get lost in the shuffle because there's only 24 hours.'

" 'There's going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even half a dozen of these mega-budgeted movies are going to go crashing into the ground,' Spielberg said, 'and that's going to change the paradigm again.' "

Lucas then added his two cents, the story notes: "Lucas presented a clear vision of this post-crash entertainment landscape: a world where going to the movies is no longer a casual outing, but a high-end experience more in line with Broadway. 'What you're going to end up with is fewer theaters,' he said. 'Bigger theaters, with a lot of nice things. Going to the movies is going to cost you 50 bucks, maybe 100. Maybe 150.' It will be more in line with sporting events, with films playing in these high-end cinemas for as long as a year. 'And that's going to be what we call "the movie business." But everything else is going to look more like cable television on TiVo. It's not going to have cable or broadcast,' Lucas said. 'It's going to be the Internet television.' "

Later, according to the article, Lucas said, "I think eventually the 'Lincolns' are going to go away and they're going to be on television."

"[In reply] Spielberg smiled, saying, 'And mine almost was! This close. Ask HBO -- this close!,' " the article reports.

The two filmmakers made their remarks during a panel at the University of Southern California, according to the story.

We urge you to read this entire article, which you can do by clicking on the link in our first paragraph, above.

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Emmy-Winning Actress Responds to Criticism of Her Weight

An Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated actress fired back about criticism of her weight as it resurfaced as an issue in the media during publicity for her new movie.

"Mike & Molly" actress Melissa McCarthy focused in particular on a review from February by Rex Reed in the New York Observer. The New York Times reports that McCarthy, who is promoting “The Heat,” in which she co-stars with Sandra Bullock, offered a belated response to Reed, who raised objections to her weight and called her "tractor-sized.”

As previously reported, Reed’s February review of the movie “Identity Thief” came under fire from readers, who also objected to his characterization of McCarthy as a "female hippo."

Asked about the review, McCarthy said her initial reaction had been, "Really?” and “Why would someone OK that?”

Without mentioning Reed by name, she added, "I felt really bad for someone who is swimming in so much hate. I just thought, that’s someone who’s in a really bad spot, and I am in such a happy spot. I laugh my head off every day with my husband and my kids who are mooning me and singing me songs.”

She said had she received the review when she was 20, it "may have crushed me." But now, raising two young daughters in "a strange epidemic of body image and body dysmorphia,” she said comments such as Reed's “just add to all those younger girls, that are not in a place in their life where they can say, ‘That doesn’t reflect on me.’ ”

McCarthy won an Emmy in 2011 for “Mike & Molly” and was nominated for an Oscar in 2012 for “Bridesmaids.”

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Melissa McCarthy

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DirecTV Hounding Colorado Fire Victim for $400

DirecTV is demanding $400 from a victim of a Colorado fire, who lost everything Tuesday in the state's destructive wildfire, reports the Colorado Springs Gazette.

After Jeremy Beach lost his home in Black Forest, he started calling utilities and providers to cancel services to a house that doesn't exist. He had no problem with canceling trash pickup, utilities and other services, until he got to DirecTV, the story says.

They told him he would owe $400 for a satellite dish and two receivers that were destroyed in the fire.

"I couldn't believe it," he told the publication. "I had lost everything and they acted like they could care less."

Beach, who escaped the fire with his wife, who is 37 weeks pregnant with twins, his 5-year-old son and two dogs, said he needs the money to buy new "cups, plates, shoes, a new bike for my kid. I got so angry I had to hang up."

Many companies write off losses sustained by fires.

DirecTV previously told the newspaper that it was still charging fire victims because the victims' insurance wouldn't cover the cost of its equipment. The company didn't respond to requests for comment Thursday, the publication said.

The fire, which is raging close to Colorado Springs, has burned more than 16,000 acres and destroyed 360 homes, according to CNN.

 

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A&E Wins Bidding War for Drama

A&E has outbid other suitors for a drama project. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel secured the rights to the amateur bull riding drama "Blood, Sweat & Tears.”

The project, a serialized drama set in Texas, comes from TV writer Chad Feehan of "Southland" and director Joe Carnahan of "Narc.” Feehan is writing the script, which is about the world of amateur bull riding, while Carnahan will direct.

 

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Two USA Series Return to Smaller Audiences

The USA Network saw smaller audiences for the season premieres of two series. Deadline.com reports that the fifth-season premiere of USA's "Royal Pains" was watched by about 7% fewer viewers than its fourth-season debut. Leading out from “Pains,” “Necessary Roughness” also had a smaller turnout.

“Royal Pains” drew 3.682 million viewers, down from about 3.95 million who tuned in for its fourth-season premiere in June 2012. The program was also down in key demographics, with its 18-49 numbers pegged at 901,000 for the fifth-season premiere, down from 1.24 million a year earlier.

"Necessary Roughness" returned for its third season in the time slot following "Royal Pains," the piece notes. About 2.61 million viewers tuned in, down from the roughly 3 million viewers who watched its second-season premiere a year earlier.

"This decline comes despite the revamp that 'Necessary Roughness' underwent between seasons, bringing on John Stamos and David Anders for major recurring roles,” the story notes. “The show also added Karissa Lee Staples as a regular.”

 

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Will 'Happy Birthday' End Up in the Public Domain?

A filmmaker is suing to put the song "Happy Birthday to You" in the public domain, which would make it free to use, reports The New York Times.

Warner/Chappell Music, the publishing division of Warner Music Group, owns the rights to the song, which is thought to be the most performed song in the world.

The lawsuit comes from filmmaker Jennifer Nelson, who was producing a documentary about the song, tentatively called "Happy Birthday." She wanted to include a performance of the song, but was told she would have to pay $1,500 and enter into a licensing agreement with Warner/Chappell to do so.

"Before I began my filmmaking career, I never thought the song was owned by anyone. I thought it belonged to everyone," Nelson said in an email.

A spokesman for the music company declined to comment.

The lawsuit points out that in the late 1800s, two sisters wrote a song with the same tune, but with a different title ("Good Morning to All.") One of Nelson's attorneys said that "Happy Birthday to You" is "just a public adaptation" of the original song.

"It’s a song created by the public, it belongs to the public, and it needs to go back to the public,” the attorney, Mark C. Rifkin, said.

Robert Brauneis, a professor at the George Washington University Law School who has studied the copyright issues around the song, told the newspaper that he believes the song is in the public domain.

He added that a successful legal challenge "might be a model for challenges to other songs.”

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'Hunger Games' Actor Lands Lead in HBO Ryan Murphy Project

HBO has tapped an actor known for his role "The Hunger Games" to play the lead in a new Ryan Murphy drama project. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Wes Bentley will play the lead in the pilot “Open.”

"Open" is said to be a look at the complex landscape of evolving sexuality and relationships, the story notes. Murphy and Lauren Gussis of "Dexter" wrote the pilot and will executive produce.

Bentley will play Evan Foster, a handsome but arrogant man who likes to talk about his theories of human sexuality. If the show is ordered to series, it would mark Murphy's third show on-air, joining "Glee" on Fox and FX's "American Horror Story."

Bentley is also known for his role in the 1999 feature film “American Beauty.”

wes-bentley.jpgWes Bentley

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CBS News Responds to Unauthorized Computer Access

After revealing last month that an Emmy Award-winning CBS News reporter had her personal and work computers compromised, as previously reported, the news division issued a statement today providing an update on the investigation into the incident.

The computers were those of investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson. Here’s the statement from CBS News:

“A cyber security firm hired by CBS News has determined through forensic analysis that Sharyl Attkisson’s computer was accessed by an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions late in 2012. Evidence suggests this party performed all access remotely using Attkisson’s accounts.

“While no malicious code was found, forensic analysis revealed an intruder had executed commands that appeared to involve search and exfiltration of data.

“This party also used sophisticated methods to remove all possible indications of unauthorized activity, and alter system times to cause further confusion.

“CBS News is taking steps to identify the responsible party and their method of access.”

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Rupert Murdoch Files for Divorce From Wendi Deng Murdoch

News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch filed for divorce Thursday from wife Wendi Deng Murdoch, reports Nikki Finke at Deadline.com.

The pair met in 1997 at a News Corp. party in Hong Kong, where Deng Murdoch worked at his Star Television unit. The pair married two years later on his yacht in New York harbor, just a month after he divorced Anna Maria Torv Murdoch.

That divorce cost Murdoch $1.7 billion in a settlement with his ex-wife, after the pair had been married for 30 years, the story notes. The pending divorce from Deng Murdoch isn't expected to impact Murdoch's holdings, and was announced to provide transparency before News Corp. spins off its publishing assets later this month.

The couple have been living apart for six months, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Earlier in their marriage, the couple moved into a $7 million loft in Manhattan's Soho neighborhood, and then added homes around the world, including another New York residence (a $44 million penthouse on Fifth Avenue) and homes in London, Australia and Los Angeles.

The pair have two children, Grace Helen Murdoch, born in 2001, and Chloe Murdoch, who was born two years later.

Deng Murdoch grabbed headlines in 2011 when she launched herself at Jonnie Marbles, a prankster who was trying to throw a cream pie at her husband, who was at the House of Commons to testify in his company's tabloid phone-tapping scandal.

The couple signed a prenup that gives Deng Murdoch cash and property, but no control of News Corp. or its units, the story notes.

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News Corp. CFO to Step Down

News Corp. Chief Financial Officer David DeVoe, who has held the job for the past 15 years, is stepping down, reports the Los Angeles Times.

DeVoe has been part of Rupert Murdoch's inner circle for more than a quarter of a century, and is leaving after News Corp. splits into two publicly traded companies.

Joe Nallen, the deputy chief financial officer for News Corp., will become the CFO of 21st Century Fox, while Bedi Ajay Singh, recently the CFO of MGM Studios, will take on the top financial role at the new News Corp.

DeVoe will sit on the board of 21st Century Fox and will continue as an adviser to Murdoch, the story adds.

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Lindsay Lohan Checks Out of Betty Ford -- and Into Another Rehab Program

Actress Lindsay Lohan has reportedly checked out of the Betty Ford treatment center near Palm Springs and checked into the Cliffside rehab center in Malibu, reports TMZ.

The move was approved by the prosecutors, the judge and Lohan's attorney, because the Betty Ford center is geared to a 30-day program, and Lohan needs to complete the remainder of her 90-day sentence, the story says.

Cliffside is the third rehab center for Lohan since she checked in to her court-ordered rehab in early May, according to TVGuide.com. Lohan left the first center, Morningside Recovery in Newport Beach, Calif., after a few minutes.

 

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Sarah Palin Returns to Fox News

Sarah Palin is back in the fold at Fox News Channel. Six months after parting ways with the cable channel, the former governor of Alaska is set to return as a paid contributor, The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

Said Palin: “The power of Fox News is unparalleled. The role of Fox News in the important debates in our world is indispensable. I am pleased and proud to be rejoining Roger Ailes and the great people at Fox.”

Fox News boss Ailes said in a statement: “I’ve had several conversations with Governor Palin in the past few weeks about her rejoining Fox News as a contributor. I have great confidence in her and am pleased that she will once again add her commentary to our programming. I hope she continues to speak her mind.”

THR adds: “As a part of the new deal, Palin will be a contributor on both Fox News and Fox Business Network, starting her run on Monday, June 17, with an appearance on morning flagship ‘Fox & Friends.’”

The report notes that Ailes once told the AP: "I hired Sarah Palin because she was hot and got ratings."

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Sarah Palin

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'Honey Boo Boo' Comes Up With Unusual Stunt for Season Premiere

If you’re not already a fan of the TLC reality show “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” the stunt that producers came up with for the season two premiere probably won’t make you one. In fact, it may help convince you that the show stinks.

The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports: “TLC will roll out the Season 2 premiere of the reality show July 17 with a fragrant flourish, distributing 10 million scented ‘Watch 'n Sniff’ cards to fans across the country so they can smell along with the pint-sized beauty-pageant vet and her earthy family from rural Georgia.”

In a news release, TLC said: "With a numbered scent card that correlates to scenes in the double-stacked premiere episodes, viewers will we be able to watch the show, scratch their cards and redneckognize [sic] the aromas associated with the Boo Boo gang as they welcome the sights, sounds and smells of summer.”

The Times adds: “The gimmick reeks of gung-ho marketing. The cards will be distributed in People and Us Weekly magazines, with more passed out by Time Warner Cable and ‘street teams.’ Ten million of the cards may be pushing it, given that ‘Honey Boo Boo's’ weekly audience is around one-fifth of that. But a network's gotta dream, right?”

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MTV and HBO Shows Renewed

Renewals have been announced by MTV and HBO. The Hollywood Reporter says the freshman MTV comedy series “Girl Code” was picked up for a second season, with the cable channel ordering 20 new episodes.

THR reports separately that HBO picked up a second season of the news series “Vice,” executive produced by Bill Maher.

MTV’s “Girl Code” is a spinoff of MTV2’s “Guy Code.”

“’Girl Code,’ developed by Ryan Ling, features various female comics offering wide ranging advice on everything from frenemies, PDA, drinking, dating, dancing and more,” THR reports. “The series drew an average of 1.1 million viewers each week in its first season, averaging a 1.2 rating among P12-34.”

Ling is the show’s executive producer, with Darin Byrne and Paul Ricci executive producing for MTV. The show is directed by Laura Murphy.

“’Girl Code’ marks the first renewal at MTV under new programing chief Susanne Daniels,” THR notes. “The series launched behind the cable network's critical darling ‘Awkward’ on Tuesdays as part of its female comedy lineup, marking a priority to lure the demo to the home of original fare including ‘Teen Wolf.’”

HBO’s renewal for “Vice” comes after the Friday program has posted solid ratings gains.

Said HBO programming chief Michael Lombardo: "’Vice’s’ fearless, irreverent style of news coverage has produced a uniquely provocative show. We look forward to more of their groundbreaking reporting in season two.”

THR adds: “Seeing ratings rise over the course of its first season, ‘Vice’ has garnered a great deal of publicity from its recent trip to North Korea. ‘Vice’ founder and series host Shane Smith, who has twice reported from the isolated nation, was not allowed to return for the planned segment, so ‘Vice’ sent former Chicago Bulls star Dennis Rodman in his stead. Rodman's trip will take up the entire June 14 season finale.”

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'Seinfeld' Actors to Reunite on New Cable Show

An upcoming cable comedy series will be the setting for what amounts to a mini-“Seinfeld” reunion. Deadline.com reports that the TV Land show “Kirstie,” which has already orchestrated a reunion of two “Cheers” stars, will bring together “Seinfeld’s” Jason Alexander and Michael Richards.

Richards is signed as a regular on “Kirstie,” and Alexander has been signed for a guest spot that Deadline says could turn into a recurring role.

The sitcom also represents a reunion for its star, Kirstie Alley, and fellow “Cheers” alum Rhea Perlman.

“’Kirstie’ centers around Broadway star Madison Banks (Alley), whose life turns upside down when Arlo (Eric Petersen), the son she gave up at birth, suddenly appears, hoping to connect after his adoptive parents have died.” Deadline reports. “Alexander will play Maddie’s agent. Perlman stars as Maddie’s assistant and best friend alongside Richards as Maddie’s outlandish driver.”

Said Alexander, known for his years as George on “Seinfeld”: “It is a strange and wonderful thing to be working on a brand-new show yet surrounded by familiar faces and friends.”

Deadline notes: “Alley, Perlman, Richards and Alexander are back together after sharing NBC’s Thursday 9 p.m. hour as ‘Cheers’ helped launch ‘Seinfeld’ before the Jerry Seinfeld/Larry David series succeeded the Boston bar sitcom as the Peacock Network’s flagship comedy.”

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NBC Skates to Ratings Win as Stanley Cup Finals Surge

A huge increase in viewership for game one of the Stanley Cup Finals lifted NBC to a win in the Wednesday night ratings, based on overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the game, in which the Chicago Blackhawks outlasted the Boston Bruins in triple overtime, was up a whopping 140% from last year’s opening game, delivering a 2.4 average rating in viewers 18-49. The report notes that the numbers are subject to more than the usual adjustments due to the nature of live programming.

Fox came in a close second, with two installments of “MasterChef” delivering a 2.2 average in 18-49 at 8 p.m. (up 4% from last week) and a 2.4 at 9 p.m. (down 8%).

CBS aired mostly repeat programs, with its one original episode, “The American Baking Competition,” rising 9% from a week ago to a 1.2 average in the 18-49 demo.

ABC put up a mix of reruns and new programs. Among the fresh episodes, “Family Tools” equaled last week’s 0.9 in adults 18-49, “How to Live With Your Parents” slipped 8% to a series-low 1.2, and “The Lookout” matched its 1.1 from a week ago.

For prime time overall, NBC’s 2.4 average in 18-49 led the way, followed by Fox (2.3 average), Univision (1.4), CBS (1.2) and ABC (1.1). CBS nosed ahead in total viewers, averaging 6.44 million to NBC’s 6.42 million, Fox’s 5.6 million, ABC’s 4.0 million and Univision’s 3.6 million.

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Gannett to Buy Belo for $1.5 Billion, Creating Fourth-Largest Station Group

Gannett Co. has announced that it will buy station owner Belo Corp. for $1.5 billion, a move that would create the fourth-largest owner of major network affiliates in the U.S., Reuters reports.

The buyout would provide faster-growing TV assets for Gannett, helping to offset the company’s newspaper businesses, the piece notes. Gannett is the largest U.S. newspaper chain.

The deal would almost double Gannett’s broadcast holdings, creating a portfolio of network affiliates reaching almost one-third of the U.S. market, Gannett said today.

“Gannett's $13.75-per-share offer represents a 28 percent premium to Belo's close on Wednesday. Shares in both companies soared in early trading, with Gannett hitting a five-year high,” Reuters reports. “If the transaction is approved, Gannett's broadcast segment would contribute more than half of the company's pro-forma earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization.”

Gannett CEO Gracia Martore said the buyout would give Gannett a "more favorable balance," with more emphasis on higher-growth assets. She added: "I think what we have is tremendous financial flexibility. We have a balance sheet that is actually even financially stronger today."

The report adds: “Gannett said it would generate significant free cash flow and increase its operating earnings per share by about 50 cents in the first year. It will also result in some $175 million of annual savings within three years after closing.”

Belo owns 20 TV stations, including nine in the top 25 markets, the piece notes.

The report adds: “The deal, which is expected to close by the end of this year, will need antitrust approval, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval, and approval by holders of two-thirds of Belo shares, Gannett said.”

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Seinfeld Series to Return

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s latest series is getting another season. EW.com’s PopWatch reports that the television veteran’s Internet series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” is set to return today with the first episode of season two.

The season premiere is scheduled to bow at noon on Crackle and on the show’s official website, with Sarah Silverman as the featured guest. Other guests lined up for this season include David Letterman, Chris Rock and Seth Meyers, the piece notes. Each installment runs about 15 minutes.

“The show’s title is very literal,” EW notes. “Each episode pairs Seinfeld with another comedian, puts them in a cool old car, and features a conversation over caffeinated beverages.”

The report adds: “The concept is simple, but the results are often thrilling. (And also award-winning.) The first season saw episodes featuring Larry David, Ricky Gervais, Mel Brooks, Colin Quinn and Michael Richards, and each one featured revelatory chats about the nature of comedy, a subject Seinfeld finds endlessly fascinating.”

Seinfeld reportedly told EW: “Comedians never fail to get to this subject of, ‘How do you do this?’ or ‘What’s it like for you?’ or ‘What are you dealing with?’ So in almost every one of these shows, in fact I have to eventually say every single one at some point, these two people get to that.”

Here’s the season preview:

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'Star Trek' Actor Gets Apology From Ghost Writer Over Facebook Jokes

A ghost writer has given an apology to one of the stars of the original "Star Trek" television series. UPI reports that George Takei, who played Sulu on the 1960s TV show, received the apology from Rick Polito after Polito let it slip that Takei pays him to write his jokes.

The jokes are posted on Facebook and often become huge social-media hits, the report notes.

Polito said he wrote an apology to Takei and his husband, Brad. "I just said that I’d been looking for any mention of my book I could get and that I hadn’t meant to expose anything,” Polito said.

He added, “I don’t update his page. I’ve had no direct contact with George. I’ve sent him some memes, as have other comedian types, and I was happy for the exposure."

Polito said he wrote "funny lines" for Takei at $10 a joke.

The actor brushed off criticism that he used other people to write his material, writing in an email to Wired, "What is this hoo-ha about my FB posts? I have Brad, my husband, to help me and interns to assist. What is important is the reliability of my posts being there to greet my fans with a smile or a giggle every morning. That’s how we keep on growing."

george-takei2.jpgGeorge Takei

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Raw Video: Trapped Window Washers Become Focus of TV News

A scary high-rise incident in Midtown Manhattan became a focal point for TV news operations for several hours Wednesday, while creating traffic problems and otherwise disrupting normal life in New York City.

The two window washers who were trapped after their scaffolding broke near the top of the Hearst Tower were eventually rescued by emergency responders from FDNY.

Here’s some raw video of the incident from CNN:

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Fox Closes Upfront Sales on a Down Note

Fox has wrapped up its upfront advertising sales, but after a dismal prime-time season, the network saw its commitments decline by 8%, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The network sold about $1.75 billion in advertising commitments, down from about $1.95 billion a year earlier, reports Bloomberg.

Despite the lower dollar amount, Fox increased its average ad rates by about 5% to 7%, with the network selling about 80% of its advertising inventory for the 2013-14 season.

"Buyer demand has come in a bit weaker than last year with 'reported' pricing in the mid-single digits," Nomura Securities media analyst Michael Nathanson wrote in a report Wednesday, the Times notes. Nathanson added, "The underlying TV economy is not growing, while dollars are shifting out of broadcast and into cable."

Fox was hurt by a steep ratings decline for its longtime hit "American Idol" this past season, the piece notes, with the competition show dropping 20% in the ratings.

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Jennifer Garner Inks Pact With Warner Bros. TV

Warner Bros. Television has signed a two-year overall deal with Jennifer Garner's Vandalia Films, reports Deadline.com.

Her company will develop and executive produce series projects for the studio, which most recently had a deal with Universal TV and was formerly based at ABC Studios, the story adds.

Garner became a household name through the ABC drama "Alias," which is from J.J. Abrams. His Bad Robot Productions is also based at Warner Bros. TV.

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USA Network Working on New Sci-Fi Project With 'The 4400' Director

USA Network has tapped Yves Simoneau, who directed the pilot for the network's last genre series, "The 4400," to direct the alien drama pilot "Horizon," reports Deadline.com.

The project marks USA's return to science fiction, with casting currently under way and production slated to start this summer.

"Horizon" is set at the height of World War II and is about a secretary at the FBI who investigates files stamped with the codename "horizon," the story says. Her work arouses the interest of Nazi spies in the U.S., and links the death of her husband and the disappearance of a young girl.

 

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Soledad O'Brien Lands at a New Network; We Would Have Never Guessed That This Is Where She'd Land

Soledad O'Brien, who most recently was the morning show host on CNN until Jeff Zucker came in to revamp the network, has landed a new gig, according to an Associated Press story in USA Today.

The story reports: "Soledad O'Brien is joining fellow 'Today' show alum Bryant Gumbel at HBO's 'Real Sports.'

"HBO said Wednesday that O'Brien will be a reporter on the monthly magazine show, which is anchored by Gumbel. Her first story, due this month, is about war veterans who use martial arts to help cope with post-traumatic stress disorder. 'It's exactly what I've been doing for a long time -- telling stories about human beings and their struggles,' she said."

The only connection to sports in O'Brien's background, the story notes, is that she played some rugby while attending Harvard.

The article adds, "The deal with HBO also gives the network the first look at projects done by O'Brien's production company, Starfish Media Group. She's making a business out of creating and selling documentaries to networks and has a separate deal with CNN to continue the 'Black in America' series that she has been doing for the past couple of years."

soledad o'brien.bmp

Soledad O'Brien

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Video: Check This Out -- New Direction for Apple Ads

"Apple Inc. and TBWA\Chiat\Day, the ad agency behind the company’s most memorable advertisements, are embarking on a new campaign designed to revive interest in an aging product line and cement the iPhone maker’s bond with consumers, people with knowledge of the plan said," Bloomberg reports.

The story continues: "After years of product-oriented ads that have failed to stem market-share losses to devices built on Google's Android software, the campaign will emphasize the quality and reliability of Apple’s ecosystem of products, apps and content."

Here are two of the new ads:

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'24' Revival Signs Flagship Producer and Director

The revival of the Fox drama "24" has signed a key player from the original version of the series. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Jon Cassar, who produced and directed 59 episodes of the original series, has joined the project.

Cassar will direct the first two episodes of the 12-episode event series from Howard Gordon, 20th Television and Imagine TV, the story notes. He will be working again with actor Kiefer Sutherland, after Cassar recently directed him in a 2012 episode of the canceled Fox drama "Touch."

"Jon was a profoundly integral part of '24' creatively and culturally," Gordon said. "It doesn’t feel like it would be '24' without him, and we’re all just really thrilled to be working with him again.”

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'Harry Potter' Director Tapped for High-Profile FX Project

David Yates, who directed the last four "Harry Potter" movies, will direct the pilot for the high-profile FX drama project "Tyrant," which comes from "Homeland" executive producers Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff, reports Deadline.com.

Yates replaces Ang Lee, who withdrew from the project for personal reasons. "Tyrant" is about an American family that gets drawn into the politics of a turbulent Middle Eastern country. The project will be filmed in Morocco and is expected to go to series.

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'Electric Company' Lyricist Elaine Laron Dies at 83

"The Electric Company" lyricist Elaine Laron, who also wrote for the landmark 1970s children's project "Free to Be … You and Me," has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She was 83.

Laron's recorded works also include the anti-Vietnam War song "Hell No, I Ain't Gonna Go" and "The Loving Song" by Greek star Nana Mouskouri.

Laron collaborated with composers such as Stephen Schwartz of "Godspell" and Charles Strouse, who wrote the "All in the Family" opening theme, "Those Were the Days."

Her first television work came as the writer for the children's series "Captain Kangaroo," which led to her being hired for the Emmy Award-winning "The Electric Company." She wrote more than 30 songs for the PBS show during its first season, which ran from 1971-72. Cast members including Bill Cosby and Morgan Freeman performed her songs on the show.

Laron was the sister of Marilyn Funt, who was married to and later divorced Allen Funt, the creator of the hidden camera series "Candid Camera."

 

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TV Producer Dan Jinks Re-Ups With CBS TV Studios

Television and film producer Dan Jinks has signed a new two-year overall deal with CBS Television Studios, reports Deadline.com.

Under his previous deal, Jinks developed and executive produced "Emily Owens, MD," which was canceled by the CW. He previously worked with Bruce Cohen for 12 years, with the pair executive producing ABC's "Pushing Daisies" and "Traveler."

They also won an Oscar for their first movie, "American Beauty," and produced "Big Fish."

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IFC Orders More of Skit Show

IFC has ordered two more seasons of a skit series. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that the cable channel ordered more of "Portlandia," the skit show starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein.

The series will get a fourth and fifth season of 10 half-hour episodes each, which will air in early 2014 and 2015. "Portlandia," which features skits about locally sourced food and a feminist bookstore, has been nominated for an Emmy and picked up Peabody and WGA awards.

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Edward R. Murrow Award Winners Revealed

The Radio Television Digital News Association unveiled the winners of the 2013 National Edward R. Murrow Awards today, honoring news operations in local television, network television, radio and online categories.

CBS, ABC and CNN were among the top honorees in television, TheWrap.com reports.

“CNN won three Edward R. Murrow awards for its Syria coverage, while ABC won three for its coverage of the Newtown, Conn., elementary school killings. The awards honoring the best in television and radio journalism also recognized CBS for overall excellence in radio and Canada's Global News for television.”

The report adds: “The winning entries ranged from a devastating CNN report on a young Syrian girl who was shot in the cheek to a CBS Radio broadcast about a promising Pop Warner football player paralyzed by a bad tackle.”

CBS led the Network Radio and Television categories with seven awards. “Among the winners were ‘CBS Radio News,’ for overall excellence, radio newscast and radio feature reporting; a ‘60 Minutes’ story on the Stuxnet computer worm; CBS News for TV sports reporting; CBS News On the Road for TV writing; and CBSNews.com for its website. It was the seventh straight year that CBS Radio has won for overall excellence,” the story reports.

CNN won six awards. “Its Syria reporting won for continuing TV coverage, and its ‘Damascus Undercover’ won for TV news series,” TheWrap reports. “It won in the hard news category for radio with ‘Why Police Shoot’ and for TV for Nick Paton Walsh's report on the girl shot in Syria. CNN also won radio awards for use of sound/video and for writing.”

ABC took home five Murrows. “They included honors for its Newtown coverage in the TV newscast category, as well as in the breaking news radio and TV categories,” the story reports. “Its Hurricane Sandy coverage won for radio continuing coverage, and ABC News radio won for it's ‘Your Voice, Your Vote’ series.”

Click here for the complete list of winners.

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What If ESPN Created a Channel and Nobody Watched? Now We Know

ESPN has provided the answer to the question of what would happen if it created a channel and nobody watched. The answer came when ESPN announced today that it is shutting down ESPN 3D, the Associated Press reports.

The channel will shutter its 3D operation by the end of 2013, the piece reports, “dealing a major blow to a technology that was launched with great fanfare but has been limping along for years.”

ESPN said it didn’t have enough people watching the 3D channel to make it worth continuing. Without providing numbers, ESPN said the total was "extremely limited and not growing."

The report adds: “Last year, only 2 percent of TVs in the U.S. were able to show 3D programming, according to the most recent data from research firm IHS Screen Digest.”

The technology was hot in 2010 after the release of the 3D James Cameron movie “Avatar,” the report notes, with ESPN 3D being one of nine 3D channels to launch around that time.

“TV makers rushed to introduce 3D sets as well,” the story reports. “ESPN said then that it expected a ‘3D tsunami’ in the industry.

“But few consumers proved willing to pay the extra $200 or so for a 3D-capable set. The sets also required viewers to wear glasses, and many people felt the 3D effect didn't add that much to the viewing experience.”

Optometrists also noted that a number of viewers, up to one in four, have trouble watching 3D for a variety of reasons.

The report notes: “ESPN said it would be ready to provide the broadcasts again ‘if or when 3D does take off.’"

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Broadcasters May Try to Beat Aereo at Its Own Game

Aereo may have some competition as it strives to make broadcast TV programming available on phones, tablets and laptops. TheWrap.com reports that broadcasters, who are locked in a legal battle with the new service, may try their hand at livestreaming themselves.

Two broadcasters -- ABC and NBC -- are already working on it, the piece reports. Aereo, Barry Diller’s New York-based startup, uses an array of small antennae to transmit TV shows in real time to any device.

“Broadcasters aren’t fans of the new company for a couple of reasons,” the story reports. “First, Aereo wants to pull people away from their TVs. And it also allows them to store shows and then fast-forward through the commercials -- the commercials that let networks pay for shows.”

The broadcast nets have played down the threat posed by Aereo, but at the same time, their actions indicate they take it seriously, the piece notes. “They're suing the company under the claim that its use of their signals amounts to illegal retransmission,” TheWrap reports. “And several network executives have threatened to abandon the broadcast airwaves for cable, since Aereo only picks up shows reachable by antennae.”

But their most effective strategy, according to the report, may be to cut into the demand for Aereo’s streaming service -- which costs consumers $8 a month -- by doing their own livestreaming.

“What differentiates ABC and NBC's livestreaming from Aereo's is that no one disputes their right to make their own shows available online at the same time they air on TV,” the report notes. “Not that broadcasters' reasons for livestreaming have anything to do with Aereo. They say their attempts to make their shows available across more platforms is about making viewers' happy.”

The piece quotes a spokeswoman for ABC saying: “From our own research as well as that of others, we know consumers want choice and flexibility when it comes to when and how they watch their favorite shows. We’ve seen there to be a huge appetite for viewing on alternate platforms, especially tablets.”

One broadcast executive told TheWrap that all of the networks are likely to eventually go to livestreaming.

Said the executive: "Through legitimate channels, content is going to be ubiquitously available. In the long run, consumers are going to get their content in multiple ways -- including broadcast and live streaming. It's simply the way the market is going."

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Hit NBC Show Sinks to All-Time Low

A show that has been one of the bright spots for NBC reached a historic low in the ratings Tuesday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “The Voice” registered a 2.7 average in viewers 18-49, losing 13% from a week ago and setting an all-time series low. Leading out from “The Voice” at 9 p.m., the network’s two-hour “America’s Got Talent” was also down, falling 3% from last week to a 3.0.

Meanwhile, ABC rolled to a win for the night on the strength of the NBA Finals, even though game three was down 13% from last year. The game, in which the San Antonio Spurs blew out the Miami Heat by 36 points, delivered a 4.9 average in the 18-49 demo.

ABC’s warmup shows had mixed results. “Jimmy Kimmel Live -- Game Night” was up 26% from last year to a 2.4 average in 18-49, while “NBA Countdown” dipped 12% to a 2.3.

Fox saw its “So You Think You Can Dance” lose ground, with the two-hour show falling 14% from a week ago to a 1.6 average rating in adults 18-49.

CBS followed repeats of “NCIS” (1.1 average in 18-49) and “NCIS: Los Angeles” (1.0) with its only fresh show of the night, “Brooklyn DA,” which lost 14% from last week’s premiere to notch a 0.6 average.

For prime time overall, ABC’s 4.0 average led the way in the 18-49 demo, followed by NBC (2.9 average), Fox (1.6), Univision (1.1) and CBS (0.9). NBC pulled ahead in total viewers, averaging 11.1 million to 10.0 million for ABC, 6.5 million for CBS, 4.2 million for Fox and 3.0 million for Univision.

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Quotes and Highlights From the Critics' Choice Awards

When “Breaking Bad,” “Game of Thrones” and “The Big Bang Theory” picked up the top show awards in the drama and comedy categories at the Critics’ Choice Awards Monday night, TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin was on hand to file a first-person account.

Please click here to read her report on the top moments and key quotes from the ceremony -- and to find a link to all the winners and nominees.

 

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NBCU's 'Steve Harvey' Renewed in 65% of U.S. Through 2016

NBCUniversal’s hit rookie daytime talk show “Steve Harvey” has received a renewal through the 2015-16 season on a number of station groups, with the renewals bringing the show to 65% market penetration, B&C reports.

Station groups renewing the show include the NBC Owned Television Stations, Hearst, Cox, Media General, Fox, Sinclair, Gannett, Local TV, Allbritton, LIN, Nexstar and Raycom.

In a statement, NBC Broadcasting Chairman Ted Harbert said: "Steve is one of the best entertainers in the country and his first season has been a tremendous success because of the personal connection he makes with the daytime audience. It's so great to see Steve's very funny and substantive show being rewarded with long-term commitments from our station partners."

Also in a statement, Valari Staab, president of the NBC Owned Television Stations, said: "Steve Harvey's engaging, funny and warm style has been a hit with our audiences, and we couldn't be happier to continue our partnership with Steve and his great team. Steve Harvey has strengthened our daytime lineups and proven to be a strong lead-in to ‘Ellen’ and, in turn, our local newscasts."

B&C notes: “In its debut season, ‘Steve Harvey’ was the only new show to build over its lead-in and improve upon its year-ago time period averages. Across the metered markets in May, ‘Steve Harvey’ improved over its lead-in by 24% in households, and by 25% among daytime's key demographic of women 25-54. Compared to May 2012, ‘Steve Harvey’ improved 44% in households and 42% among women 25-54.”

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Emmy-Nominated Actress Dead at 94 -- She Played the Woman Wrapped in Bandages in a Legendary Episode of 'Twilight Zone'

A versatile actress whose TV credits go back to the early days of the medium has died. The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that Maxine Stuart, who also appeared on stage and in film, died Thursday, June 6, 2013, of natural causes. She was 94.

Stuart appeared on soap operas including "The Edge of Night" and “General Hospital,” and had a string of guest roles on television going back to the anthology shows of the early 1950s, including “Lux Video Theatre,” “Goodyear Playhouse” and “G.E. True Theater.” She also appeared in classic comedies, including “Get Smart,” “The Donna Reed Show” and “That Girl.”

She remained active into the 2000s, with her later TV roles including guest spots on “Judging Amy,” “Family Law,” “Chicago Hope” and “NYPD Blue.”

In 1960, she was cast in an episode of "The Twilight Zone' called "Eye of the Beholder," in which she played a woman wrapped in bandages who was undergoing her 11th surgery to change her appearance. Stuart played the part until the wrappings were removed, and then Donna Douglas, known for playing Elly May Clampett on "The Beverly Hillbillies," was revealed.

Stuart received an Emmy nomination in 1989 for her role as a piano teacher in "The Wonder Years." Other parts during her prolific career included appearances on "Murphy Brown,” “Hill Street Blues,” “L.A. Law,” “Cagney & Lacey” and many others.

In 1993, she joined the CBS soap opera "The Young and the Restless." “She epitomized what I wanted -- someone who brought a feistiness, a vitality and energy with her, who's gregarious and fun-loving,” William J. Bell, the show's co-creator, told the Times.

Stuart’s film roles included “Days of Wine and Roses” in 1962, “Fun With Dick and Jane” in 1977 and “Time Share” in 2000.

maxine-stuart.jpgMaxine Stuart

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Disney Channel Cancels Series

Disney Channel has canceled a series. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the cable channel is pulling the plug on "Good Luck Charlie," wrapping the live-action comedy after its current fourth season.

The show tracks the Duncan family, who have welcomed their fourth child, Charlotte "Charlie" Duncan. A TV movie called "Good Luck Charlie: It's Christmas Time!" in 2011 drew almost 7 million viewers, the piece notes.

Currently the show is taping a crossover episode with the comedy "Jessie." The rest of the season's episodes will air through 2014.

 

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Legendary Actress to Play God on NBC's 'Save Me'

NBC is bringing in a heavy hitter for the final episode of "Save Me." The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that the show will end its run with an appearance by actress Betty White as God.

The series, which stars Anne Heche as a woman who can communicate with God after nearly choking on a sandwich, will end this Thursday, June 13, with an episode called "Holier Than Thou." Heche's character will finally meet God, who will appear in the guise of White because, as the show explains, people always feel comfortable with her.

The role means that White will portray the divinity at a more advanced age than George Burns, who played God when he was 81 in the Carl Reiner film "Oh, God!" White is 91.

Betty-White.jpgBetty White

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NSA Surveillance Scandal Fuels Sales of a Book Published 64 Years Ago

News of a secret surveillance program by the National Security Agency has had an unexpected side-effect, fueling sales of a novel that was first published in 1949. Politico reports that sales have shot up for George Orwell’s “1984.”

The book focuses on a totalitarian state that closely monitors its population.

“As of Wednesday morning, four different editions of the book are in the top 40 of Amazon’s ‘Movers and Shakers’ list with the highest ranking at 17,” the story reports. “At one point, the Centennial Edition’s popularity was up nearly 10,000 percent and clocked in at third most popular on the list.”

Michael Sheldon, the author of “Orwell: The Authorized Biography,” reportedly told NPR that the NSA’s “broad net of surveillance is exactly the kind of threat Orwell feared.”

Politico quotes a description of “1984” that says: “‘Thought Police.’ ‘Big Brother.’ ‘Orwellian’ -- these words have entered our vocabulary because of George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel, ‘1984.’ The story of one man’s nightmare odyssey as he pursues a forbidden love affair through a world ruled by warring states and a power structure that controls not only information but also individual thought and memory, ‘1984’ is a prophetic, haunting tale.”

 

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How Is 'The Daily Show' Doing Without Jon Stewart? (Video)

With Jon Stewart out of the lineup for 12 weeks on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” -- and his spot being filled by substitute host John Oliver -- the show appears to be holding steady in the ratings, at least initially, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Monday’s show, the launch of Oliver's stint filling in for Stewart, drew 1.5 million viewers and a 0.7 rating in the 18-49 demographic. That matches Stewart's average so far this year, the piece notes.

"Let’s all acknowledge for a moment that this is weird,” the British-born Oliver said as he began his hosting duties. “This looks weird, it feels weird, it even sounds weird.”

Oliver has been a correspondent on the show for seven years. Stewart is taking a break to direct his first film, "Rosewater."

Here’s a clip of Oliver’s introduction to Monday’s show:

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'PBS NewsHour' Plans Layoffs

"PBS NewsHour" is bracing for its first significant staff cuts in decades. The New York Times reports that the moves come after a decline in corporate sponsorship.

The show's producer, MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, will close its two offices outside of the Washington area -- in Denver and San Francisco -- and cut most of the employees in those areas.

The cuts are being made to "improve the long-term sustainability of the ‘NewsHour,'" wrote Linda Winslow, the executive producer of “NewsHour,” and Boisfeuillet Jones Jr., the chief executive of MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, in an internal memo, the piece notes.

Some "noncritical production positions" at its main office Arlington, Va., will also be cut.

Earlier this year, it was projected that the production company was facing a funding gap of as much as $7 million, or a quarter of its total budget, the story notes.

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TNT Drama Returns to Lower Numbers

A TNT drama series returned for its sophomore season with lower viewer numbers. Deadline.com reports that Monday’s season premiere of the police procedural “Major Crimes” delivered about 5 million viewers, down from the 7.2 million people who tuned in for the show's debut in August.

"Major Crimes" had the benefit last year of debuting right after the series finale of "The Closer," which ended its run with 9.1 million viewers. But even with its lower-rated season opener Monday, "Major Crimes" ranks as the top scripted show on basic cable for the year among returning programs, the story points out.

"Major Crimes" stars Mary McDonnell as as the head of the LAPD's Major Crimes Division.

Leading out from “Major Crimes,” the new TNT drama “King and Maxwell” premiered to 3.5 million total viewers.

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DirecTV's First Original Scripted Series Gets Renewal

DirecTV's first original scripted series has received a second-season renewal. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the satellite service has given the go-ahead for another season of "Rogue."

The drama stars Thandie Newton as an undercover detective hunting for her son's killer. It will start production this summer on a second 10-episode run that will premiere in 2014, the story says.

"We are thrilled that our first venture into original programming resonated with our subscribers, who enthusiastically tuned in to 'Rogue' each week,” said Chris Long, senior vice president of entertainment and production at DirecTV.

 

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Ed Burns to Play Legendary Mobster in New Frank Darabont Series

Actor Ed Burns, known for film roles including “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Brothers McMullen,” has been cast to play the legendary mobster Bugsy Siegel in a recurring role in the TNT series "Lost Angels" from Frank Darabont, reports Deadline.com.

The series, based on the John Buntin book "L.A. Noir," is about the Los Angeles Police Department and the city's criminal activities led by Mickey Cohen in the 1940s, the story notes. Siegel was a Hollywood figure whose parties were attended by some of the town's biggest stars.

Robert Knepper, originally cast in a recurring role, has been bumped up to a regular for his role as Sid Rothman, a mobster who works for Cohen. His role on "Cult" ended when the CW canceled the show.

ed-burns.jpgEd Burns

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'Haven of Waste': Greece Shuts Down Its State-Run TV and Radio Broadcaster

The Greek government shut down its television and radio broadcaster, leaving 2,900 employees idle and creating outrage among the country's labor unions, reports The New York Times.

The Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation was described as a "haven of waste" by a government spokesman. The network went off the air at 11 p.m. Tuesday local time and was slated to reopen after a reorganization with a fraction of its staff, the piece adds.

Journalists from the broadcaster were defiant, continuing to stream news through the night as protesters gathered outside its headquarters, reports Deadline.com.

Greece is in the middle of dealing with austerity measures taken in response to a debt crisis, and is seeking to cut 15,000 public sector jobs by the end of next year, Deadline adds.

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'Sex and the City' Creator Sets Sights on Another Fertile Topic

"Sex and the City" creator Darren Star struck gold when he adapted Candace Bushnell's newspaper columns into the HBO comedy, and now he's hoping to do the same with with new subject matter: toddlers.

Star is adapting a book called "The Honest Toddler" for a television project, reports Deadline.com. Star will develop and executive produce the adaptation of the book, which was published last month.

The project is described as "Modern Family" from a child's point of view. It's considered for either broadcast or cable.

"The Honest Toddler" started as a Twitter feed by Bunmi Laditan, who started the account in 2012 after a tough week with her 2-year-old daughter. The observations include thoughts such as, "Tonight’s bedtime story was about three pigs struggling with repeat home invasions. Thanks for the new fear.”

 

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'Parenthood' Star Adapting Her Best-Selling Book Into a TV Drama

One of the stars of NBC’s "Parenthood" is adapting her best-selling novel into a one-hour drama. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Lauren Graham is adapting her novel "Someday, Someday, Maybe" for the project.

The book, Graham’s first novel, came out in April. The story about a young woman with six months left in her three-year plan to make it big as an actress in New York City will be adapted into a script by Graham.

She will also executive produce with Ellen DeGeneres and Jeff Kleeman. The studios behind the project are Warner Bros. TV and A Very Good Production, the story notes.

Graham appeared for seven seasons on WBTV's "Gilmore Girls."

lauren-graham.jpgLauren Graham

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NBC Names Producer for Fallon's 'Tonight Show' -- Which Also Gets a Name Change

NBC continues to chart the course for the transition of its late-night staple “The Tonight Show,” which is scheduled for the handoff from Jay Leno to Jimmy Fallon in February. In the latest development, the network named Amy Ozols, a writer for “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” to produce the show, Deadline.com reports.

The show will be called “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” reverting to a title format used when it was “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” and replacing the “with” that was used for hosts Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien. Lorne Michaels will be executive producer.

Said Michaels: “Amy Ozols has been with Jimmy since the very beginning of ‘Late Night.’ She is brilliant. I think she is the right choice to lead ‘The Tonight Show’ into the future.”

Fallon added: “It’s been so fun working with Amy these past four years -- she’s been a standout writer and producer since we started’Late Night.’”

The Deadline piece notes: “’Tonight Show’ has a tradition of female producers at the helm -- Debbie Vickers has been the longtime executive producer on ‘The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.’ Ozols, a Harvard/Harvard Law School graduate and Harvard Lampoon alum, has been a writer for ‘Late Night With Jimmy Fallon’ since the show’s premiere in 2009. She has written and produced some of the most popular ‘Late Night’ parodies -- including those on the ‘Real Housewives’ franchise, ‘Glee’ (‘6-bee’) and ‘Game of Thrones’ (‘Game of Desks’) -- as well as numerous other pieces including Fallon’s well-received opening to the 2010 Emmy Awards.”

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More Bad News for CNN

Former cable news leader CNN, struggling to regain ground in the ratings, suffered a setback in that effort over the weekend, with two shows producing disappointing results.

“Maybe it was Game 2 of the NBA Finals or the Tony Awards or maybe the menu, but CNN took a hit Sunday with ‘Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown’s’ finale and the debut of talk show ‘Stroumboulopoulos,’” Deadline.com reports. “Taking a trip down the Congo River, the finale of Bourdain’s freshman series sank to its second-lowest result of the season with 460,000 total viewers and 208,000 in the adults 25-54 demo. The June 9 travelogue show was down 38% in total viewers and 32% in the demo from the week before.”

“Parts Unknown” did beat MSNBC at 9 p.m., both in total viewers and in the 25-54 news demo, the piece notes, but it lagged well behind Fox News Channel’s viewer total of 837,000 for a rerun of “Hannity” focused on the IRS scandal. The CNN program topped FNC’s 108,000 in the news demo.

“Overall, Sunday’s finale was down 34% among viewers and 29% in the demo from the show’s season averages of 693,000 and 291,000, respectively,” Deadline notes. “’Parts Unknown’s’ worst performance of the season was on Memorial Day weekend, when it pulled in 363,000 total viewers and 173,000 in the demo. Following a strong start in its April 14 debut, the series, which CNN renewed on May 1, had its best results in its second week when 747,000 total viewers and 282,000 in the demo tuned in.”

The new 10 p.m. talk show “Stromboulopoulos,” meanwhile, produced the channel’s second-worst Sunday numbers of the year for the time slot, the story reports.

“Fronted by Canadian talk show host George Stroumboulopoulos, the premiere had as its first guests fellow Great White Northerners Martin Short and Keanu Reeves as well as rapper Wiz Khalifia,” Deadline reports. “Losing more than half of its lead-in audience, the show finished third behind Fox News and MSNBC with 192,000 total viewers and 78,000 in the adults 25-54 demo. That is down 62% in total viewers and 55% in the demo from the results of an Anderson Cooper special the week before in the same slot.”

Among the show’s time-slot competitors, FNC’s “Stossel” delivered 739,000 total viewers and 140,000 adults 25-54, while “MSNBC Investigates” served up 391,000 total viewers and 224,000 in the demo.

“Compared with year-to-date averages, ‘Stromboulopoulos’ was down 56% in viewers and 48% in the demo,” Deadline notes.

The show vacates its Sunday slot this week for a move to 11 p.m. Fridays.

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One Show Emerges as the Big Winner at Critics' Choice TV Awards

One television show was the clear winner as the Critics’ Choice Television Awards were handed out Monday night. In the comedy category, CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” was named best series -- while its counterparts in drama had to settle for sharing top honors.

HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and AMC’s “Breaking Bad” finished in a tie for best drama series.

“The Big Bang Theory” also did well in the acting categories, with Simon Helberg winning best supporting actor while the show’s Kaley Cuoco shared best supporting actress with Eden Sher of ABC’s “The Middle.”

“Breaking Bad’s” Bryan Cranston won best actor in a drama for the second year in a row. The winner for best actress in a drama was a surprise, with Tatiana Maslany winning for BBC America’s “Orphan Black.”

Louis C.K. and Julia Louis-Dreyfus won best actor and actress in a comedy series for FX’s “Louie” and HBO’s “Veep,” respectively.

Click here for a complete list of winners, along with all the nominees.

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Decent Opening for New NBC Series as the Peacock Wins the Night

A new NBC series debuted to decent ratings Monday night as the Peacock coasted to an easy win for the night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “The Winner Is ...” premiered to a 1.9 average rating in viewers 18-49, winning the 10 p.m. time slot. The program led out from NBC’s two-hour “The Voice,” which was the top show on broadcast with a 3.2 average, dipping 3% from a week ago.

“The Winner Is ...” lost just one-tenth of a ratings point from the number delivered by the season finale of “Revolution” in the time slot last week.

ABC was a distant second on the night, and was the only major broadcast net other than NBC to try a lineup of all-original programming. Its two-hour “The Bachelorette” equaled the series low from a week ago with a 1.7 average in 18-49, while its lead-out, “Mistresses,” improved 17% from last week’s premiere to a 1.4.

CBS aired all repeats, while Fox mixed reruns with original episodes. Among its fresh programs, the special broadcast run of FX’s “Anger Management” produced a 0.7 average in the 18-49, matching last week’s premiere, while “The Goodwin Games” lost 14% from a week ago, settling for a 0.6.

For prime time overall, NBC’s 2.8 average rating in adults 18-49 led the way, followed by ABC (1.6 average), Univision (1.3), CBS (1.0) and Fox (0.7). NBC also found itself comfortably ahead in total viewers with 9.9 million, outpacing ABC (5.2 million), CBS (4.3 million), Univision (3.3 million) and Fox (1.7 million).

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We TV Renews Celebrity-Driven Shows

We TV will bring back a pair of celebrity-driven reality shows. TheWrap.com reports that the female-focused cable channel announced renewals for “Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?” and “Tamar & Vince.”

"Tamar & Vince" returns for a second season, while "Joan & Melissa” comes back for season four.

Lauren Gellert, We TV senior vice president of original production and development, said in a statement: “Tamar, Joan and Melissa are talented, refreshing women that we’re delighted to have on We TV for new seasons of their popular shows. These are real women dealing with real issues in the scrutiny of the spotlight with style and grace, and we are so happy We TV viewers will again be along for these entertaining rides."

The report adds: “Produced by Magical Elves, ‘Tamar & Vince’ follows the relationship and music careers of Tamar Braxton, sister to Toni Braxton, who just had her first baby with Lady Gaga's manager Vincent Herbert. The pregnancy and new arrival will be a part of the show's sophomore season returning Thursday, Sept. 5, at 9/8c.”

Season four of "Joan & Melissa" is set to premiere in early 2014, with Joan Rivers’ 80th birthday among the milestones that are on tap. The show is produced by Pie Town Productions.

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Behind-the-Scenes Shakeup at 'Katie'

"Katie," the syndicated daytime talk show featuring Katie Couric, has had a behind-the-scenes shakeup, with co-executive producers Kathy Samuels and Ethan Nelson and director Joseph Terry leaving the program, reports Deadline.com.

The changes come two weeks after Rachel Miskowiec was tapped as new executive producer, the piece notes. The show started last fall with Jeff Zucker as executive producer and Samuels and Michael Bass as co-executive producers. Since then, Zucker and Bass have departed for CNN. Michael Morrison joined in January as executive producer, but left late last month and was replaced by Miskowiec.

"The changes follow a rocky freshman season for 'Katie,'" the story reports. "After a strong opening, the show slipped in the ratings. Its numbers eventually leveled off and 'Katie' remained No. 1 in households among all freshmen for the entire season, but it has been running neck and neck with fellow rookie 'Steve Harvey,' which has edged 'Katie' in the key women 25-54 demographic for the second part of the season, including the recent May sweep."

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Pioneering TV Reporter -- a Key Figure in Infamous Jimmy the Greek Incident -- Dead at 75

A television reporter whose reporting on racial progress ended the career of CBS sports commentator Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder has died. The New York Times reports that Edward Hotaling died of a heart attack.

Hotaling had lived in a nursing home since he suffered serious injuries in a 2007 car accident.

Hotaling was working for NBC affiliate WRC-TV in Washington when he interviewed Snyder for a report marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., asking the sports commentator to give his thoughts on racial progress in professional sports.

Snyder replied that he believed blacks were better athletes than whites because their slave ancestors were "bred to be that way." His comments led to his firing by CBS. Snyder died in 1996.

Hotaling said later that while he was appalled by Snyder’s remarks, he didn't agree with his firing, the story notes.

One story he reported with historic importance was about the building of the White House and the Capitol for a news feature in 2000. He found hundreds of monthly pay stubs in Treasury Department archives for the work of slave laborers on both buildings. Their owners received $5 a month for their work, the story notes.

"Many historians considered the discovery routine, since it confirmed a presumptive truth about life in the capital before slavery was abolished in 1865,” the piece reports. “But the report was news to many of Mr. Hotaling’s viewers, including several members of Congress. Representatives John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat and longtime civil right advocate, and J. C. Watts, an Oklahoma Republican, went on to establish a task force in 2002 to come up with ways to commemorate the slave builders."

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Edward Hotaling

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Will NBC's New Quiz Show Bring Viewers Back to Prime Time?

With the broadcast networks struggling to draw viewers this past television season, NBC is turning to a quiz show to test whether a new format can bring viewers back to prime time, reports Tim Molloy in TheWrap.

"Million Second Quiz," which will debut Sept. 9, gives viewers incentives to watch television in real time by rewarding them for watching commercials, the story notes.

"If you like shouting 'Jeopardy' answers at the screen, you might like 'Million Second Quiz' even more: It invites you to play along online. And you might even want to watch the commercials, because the show will give prizes to those who correctly answer questions about its advertisers. You may be challenged, for example, to answer some trivia about Ford Motor Co. during an ad for Ford -- and be rewarded with discounts on a car or truck," Molloy writes.

“If in answering that question ... I was able to win a $1,000 cash back on a Ford summer clearance sale, I would call that a win-win,” Paul Telegdy, NBC’s president of alternative and late night programming, told the publication.

The contestant who wins on the show will earn the staggering sum of $10 million, the piece points out.

"Million Second Quiz" aims to solve several issues, with networks realizing that live shows are one of the best ways to get viewers to watch, along with the fact that people now watch TV along with a second screen, such as an iPad.

"More people are holding a smartphone than are holding a remote control, which is part of the world we live in now. Imagine your smartphone is populated with a play-along-at-home experience that will also run during commercial breaks," Telegdy said.

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Al Jazeera America, Shopping for a President, Narrows the Field

Al Jazeera America is interviewing finalists for the job of president of the new network, reports TVNewser.com. Last week, Ehab Al Shihabi, the executive director of international operations for Al Jazeera and the senior executive overseeing Al Jazeera America, interviewed the final candidates, the story notes.

Among the candidates thought to be in contention are former CNN U.S. President Jon Klein; former CNN managing editor Mark Whitaker; and former ABC News chief David Westin.

The network is on track to debut later this year, although an exact date isn't yet known.

 

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Cher to Sing Live on TV for First Time in 10 Years

Cher will perform live on television for the first time in a decade. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that the singer will appear on the fourth-season finale of NBC’s "The Voice."

Cher hasn't sung live on TV since her 2003 NBC special, "Cher: The Farewell Tour," the story notes. On "The Voice," she's expected to perform "Women's World," the first single from her upcoming album of the same title.

Cher's last studio album was "Living Proof," which was released in 2001. She followed that up with her "Farewell" tour, which ran from 2002 to 2004 and was one of the highest-grossing tours ever, the piece adds.

cher.jpgCher

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John Stamos Project Back in Contention at NBC

A John Stamos project is back in contention at NBC, with the network commissioning a two-week rewrite based on the original script for "I Am Victor," reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

The project, based on a book by Jo Nesbo, has Stamos portraying Victor Port, a top divorce attorney with an unusual view of relationships, the story says. If executives like the new script, it's possible the project could proceed with a midseason debut following the Winter Olympics.

The new direction will focus more on Victor's legal cases rather than his personal life.

"I hear NBC liked the show’s legal world and Stamos, who tested very strong,” Andreeva writes. “There is also the issue of the show’s tone, which first became a point of contention during the filming of the pilot and led to the departure of executive producer Katie Jacobs. I hear the reworked version will be lighter than the original, which was deemed by some as being too dark.”

Thumbnail image for john-stamos2.jpgJohn Stamos

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HBO Boss Reveals Story Behind Greenlighting 'Game of Thrones'

While "Game of Thrones" is now a huge hit for HBO, the project was a gamble for the network, given that an adult fantasy television show had never succeeded before, reports James Hibberd on EW.com's Inside TV.

The story behind why the network greenlighted the project has more than a little to do with luck, the piece notes. In 2008, writers David Benioff and Dan Weiss turned in a pilot script, and HBO executives were debating the merits of the project, HBO programming president Michael Lombardo tells the publication.

"We had this pilot script and we were budgeting it and scratching our head whether we should go ahead and greenlight this,” Lombardo said. “And we were trying to figure out the production challenges. We knew it had to be able to stand next to projects in this genre being done on the big screen yet with a more limited budget.”

Lombardo decided to take a break and hit the gym, where, it turns out, both Benioff and Weiss also go to work out.

"And I see Dan on one of the bicycles,” Lombardo said. “He was reading this dog-eared copy of the first book. And it had underscores and yellow highlights [on the pages]. And he did not know I saw him -- I was standing on the side. And I thought, ‘We’re going to figure this out. These guys breathe this show in a way that doesn’t happen all the time.’"

Lombardo said he was "determined" to figure out the project after that.

As Hibberd writes, "The lesson: If you want to pull off an impossible creative accomplishment, it takes a ton of dedication, hard work and passion …

… and going to the same gym as HBO’s president doesn’t hurt either."

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'Game of Thrones' Breaks Records After All

The third-season finale of "Game of Thrones," which fell just short of a ratings record for HBO, did break records, as it turns out. The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq., reports that the episode broke records for piracy.

In the immediate aftermath of the season finale, the episode set a record for illegal downloads, with TorrentFreak reporting that 170,000 simultaneous shares on BitTorrent took place after the episode aired on HBO.

As previously reported, the episode was a huge ratings draw, but fell short of a record among HBO viewers. The finale brought in 5.4 million viewers, while the sixth episode of the current season delivered 5.5 million viewers.

In the 24-hour period after the finale aired on HBO, more than 1 million people downloaded the show, more than all previous records for a TV series, THR notes.

“Piracy is hardly a new development for ‘Game of Thrones,’” the report adds. “TorrentFreak previously reported that the series topped all other pirated TV shows in 2012, hitting 4.28 million downloads with one episode. ‘Game of Thrones’ has since bested that record with the recent season premiere.”

HBO, meanwhile, continues to attract a massive audience for the show. “The network confirmed Monday that, with an average 13.6 million viewers for every episode, ‘Game of Thrones’ has topped ‘True Blood’ to become HBO's most-watched series currently on-air,” THR notes. “It ranks behind only ‘The Sopranos’ as its most-watched original series ever.”

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Sony Pictures TV Confirms It Has Rehired Dan Harmon for 'Community'

Sony Pictures Television, the studio that fired "Community" creator Dan Harmon last year, announced that it has rehired him as the showrunner for the upcoming season, The New York Times reports. The announcement confirms news of Harmon’s return, which we reported last week.

The studio also said Chris McKenna, a writer and producer who previously worked on the NBC show, will return. Both will have the title of executive producer.

While the audience for the series has never been large, it has a loyal fan base, with its supporters blogging and tweeting about it passionately, the piece notes.

"For NBC, a struggling if recognizable show like 'Community' was evidently worth holding onto,” the story reports. “While the network has had its overall problems in recent years, its prime-time comedy lineup -- once an NBC hallmark -- has been a particular challenge, and it has lost signature series like '30 Rock' and 'The Office.'"

Harmon had tested the patience of both studio and network executives, and he had a public feud with "Community" co-star Chevy Chase, who has since left the series.

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Dan Harmon

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OWN Extends Orders for Three Shows

OWN has extended its orders for three of its most popular original shows. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the cable network ordered additional episodes of "Iyanla: Fix My Life," "Raising Whitley" and "Life With La Toya."

"Iyanla" will receive six additional episodes, which will start airing July 20. Between 10 and 12 episodes of "Whitley" and "Life With La Toya" have also been ordered, although they won't debut until 2014, the piece notes.

“We have seen tremendous ratings growth this year and much of that success is attributed to the performance of our Saturday night series,” said OWN President Erik Logan.

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'Dr. Oz' Renewed in 16 TV Markets

The talk show "Dr. Oz" has been renewed by Sony Pictures Television in 16 markets where it airs on Hearst-owned stations, reports B&C.

The news comes after the studio renewed the show on Fox-owned stations in 13 markets through the 2016-17 season, the piece notes.

The Hearst stations include WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh and WBAL-TV in Baltimore, the piece notes. With the Fox renewal, the show is now cleared in 55% of the country through the 2016-17 season. The show first aired in September 2009.

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Is There More 'Continuum' in the Future at Syfy?

The Syfy time-traveling police drama "Continuum" performed well in its second-season debut on Friday, reports Deadline.com. That could bode well for a third-season renewal, especially as the show was already tapped for a third season in Canada last week.

The program, which is a hit in Canada and has received positive reviews, drew 1.42 million total viewers and 552,000 viewers in the 18-49 demo to its second-season debut, topping its first-season average on Syfy.

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From the NCTA Cable Show: Rollout of TV Everywhere 'remains spotty and confusing and is progressing slowly'

TV Everywhere, "The cable initiative to stream any TV show, anytime, and anywhere remains spotty and confusing — and is progressing slowly — execs acknowledged in a panel on the subject [Monday, June 10, 2013] at the NCTA Cable Show in Washington, D.C.," reports our good friend David Lieberman at Deadline.com.

The story continues, "Thus far 'it’s not a success,' says Fox Networks’ Mike Biard. NBCUniversal’s Ron Lamprecht rated the progress at no more than a 5 out of 10. There’s no turning back, though. 'We see our consumers expecting that our content be everywhere,' Lamprecht says. 'There really isn’t any other choice. We have to be there.' "

 Here's an example of the confusion, the article notes: "Consumers also will find different shows when they use a network’s app compared with a cable company’s, and whether they’re used in or outside the home. 'In a TNT application within the home you’re accessing TV Everywhere, but in an Xfinity application it could be [just the cable company's] VOD' programming, says Turner Broadcasting’s Jeremy Legg. 'Explain to a consumer why they can get TNT in the home but not out of the home.' "

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Intel Has $2 Billion War Chest for Internet TV Programming Deals; For this New TV Service Intel is Willing to Pay Up to 75% More for Programming Than Cable Operators

"Intel has committed at least $2 billion to TV programming licensing deals for its forthcoming broadband TV service, according to sources familiar with the chipmaker's initiative, but so far it has failed to officially sign any major content companies," reports Todd Spangler in Variety.

The story continues, "The company has agreements in principle with CBS, News Corp. and Viacom for the Internet-video service, and as a new entrant into the pay TV sector Intel has offered to pay a 50% to 75% premium over industry-average rates, Reuters reported Friday."

The Reuters story, by Ronald Grover, Liana B.Baker and Noel Randewich, adds that Intel "has also suggested preventing viewers from skipping commercials on the first run of a show, said another source."

The Reuters  story also says, "SNL Kagan, a research firm that measures and publishes the average subscriber fees cable and satellite TV operators pay for television networks, recorded last year's highest fees were $5.15 per subscriber per month and were charged by Disney's ESPN.

"While it was not clear exactly what amounts Intel had originally offered for specific channels, sources said the tech company was basing its 50 to 75 percent premium on listed average SNL Kagan subscriber fees. Intel needs deals with the top five or six U.S. media companies to secure most of the popular TV channels, according to one source."

The article in Reuters also notes, "While Intel has not said how much it plans to charge for its TV service, [the head of Intel Media, Erik] Huggers has billed it as a premium product, rather than a cut-rate option for consumers hoping to save money by canceling their cable subscriptions. Higher prices for consumers would give Intel breathing room to pay more to media companies without sacrificing its own margins."

The Reuters story also quotes an Intel spokesman saying that the company "still plans to launch its TV service this year."

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'American Idol' Hires Producer to Replace Lythgoe

After dumping longtime “American Idol” producer Nigel Lythgoe, as we reported last week, the Fox singing competition has hired a replacement. Reuters reports that Swedish producer Per Blankens will take the lead behind the camera.

Lythgoe was fired from the show because of its ratings drop during the past season, the story reports.

“Blankens most recently was the executive producer of ‘Idol,’ Sweden's version of the popular televised singing competition, and helped the show garner strong ratings on Swedish TV,” the report notes. “He will oversee the upcoming 13th season of ‘American Idol,’ due to premiere in January 2014.”

Trish Kinane, executive producer of the Fox series, said in a statement: "(Per) is extremely passionate about 'Idol' and I'm very excited about his ideas and vision for keeping 'Idol' creatively vibrant. He brings the talent and energy needed to keep 'American Idol' strong,"

Lythgoe, who is the creator of the Fox show "So You Think You Can Dance," reportedly tweeted after hearing the news: "just had 10 days in the Bahamas, rain everyday. I get back to the States and get fired. Sad!"

Lythgoe said in a statement today: "If the executives that are now in charge of 'American Idol' believe that the ratings will improve with my departure, I have no complaints. It has been a great ride and I've loved every moment of it.”

“His departure comes after judges Mariah Carey, [Nicki] Minaj and Randy Jackson announced they were leaving the show, along with Fox's reality programming chief Mike Darnell, who will be leaving the network at the end of June,” the report adds.

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Dr. Drew Pinsky Answers Critics Who Want Him Held Accountable for Stars' Downfalls

Dr. Drew Pinsky, the host of the VH1 series "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew," tells The New York Times that he's baffled when people hold him accountable for the actions -- and deaths -- of some of his former patients on the show.

"They think I’m a millionaire and they think I am, like, rampaging or exploiting people to maintain that,” Pinsky said. “And that could not be farther from the truth.”

He recounted a recent show when an audience member grilled him about a pornographic tape made by Farrah Abraham, who was on MTV's "Teen Mom." Pinsky had served as a guest host on the show.

"Somebody went, ‘How about your teen mom Farrah and her porn tape?’” Pinsky said. “I went, ‘My teen mom Farrah?’ I’ve spent maybe three hours with her, probably 45 minutes across three different shows I hosted. I know her. I’m available to her. I care what happens to that young lady. But I don’t produce that show. I’m not her doctor.”

The backlash against Pinsky intensified after the death earlier this year of singer Mindy McCready. She was the fifth participant on Pinsky’s show to die within two years, the story notes. Pinsky said that McCready had stopped being his patient, but that he had urged her a few weeks before her death to seek help.

Pinsky said that his reason for working on "Celebrity Rehab," which he has said he won't return to, is to illustrate to the public the dangers of unchecked addictions.

"If doctors are not allowing ourselves to participate in the entertainment aspects, we are not going to have any impact,” he said. “The medical practice is not getting better.”

dr-drew-pinsky.jpgDr. Drew Pinsky

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'Game of Thrones' Finale: Did It Set a Ratings Record for HBO?

The season three finale of HBO’s hit drama series “Game of Thrones” was a huge ratings draw Sunday night for the pay-cable network, but The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that it fell just short of a record.

The initial airing of the episode brought in 5.4 million total viewers -- an increase of 28% over the second-season finale’s 4.2 million. The result solidified the status of “Thrones” as the No. 2 most-watched series in HBO history, the piece reports.

“The latest gross numbers (a combination of originals, encores, DVR, On Demand and HBO Go) have the third season of ‘Game of Thrones’ averaging 13.6 million viewers,” THR reports. “That's an increase of 2 million viewers from last season (11.6 million viewers) and makes the series HBO's most watched since the 2004 season of ‘The Sopranos.’”

The series set four new series highs in the course of season three, the report adds, with the highest number for an initial telecast of a single episode coming in week six, when the show delivered 5.5 million total viewers.

“Prior to this season, ‘True Blood’ ranked as the second-most-watched series in network history and the most watched currently running program,” the report adds. “The vampire drama returns for its sixth season on Sunday.”

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Nat Geo Greenlights Sequel to 'The '80s' Miniseries -- Maybe You Can Guess What the Next One Will Be About

National Geographic Channel has greenlighted a miniseries that is a sequel to its three-night, six-hour “The ‘80s: The Decade That Made Us,” Deadline.com reports. As might be expected, the new production will focus on the ‘90s.

The new project, with the working title “The ’90s: The Last Great Decade?,” is set to premiere worldwide on National Geographic Channels in 2014.

“Like the original mini, ‘The ’90s’ will showcase the people, the inventions and the decisions that shaped the last decade of the 20th century -- arguably the last time the United States reigned on the global stage -- a time of innocence and innovation in a pre-9/11 world,” the story reports. “It will be told from the perspective of notable history makers, celebrities, sports stars, politicians and musicians and will satisfy the urge for nostalgia with classic ’90s music, scenes from iconic movies and TV shows, best of fashion and key sports moments.”

Nutopia, which produced “The ‘80s” and “America -- The Story of Us,” is producing.

Alan Eyres, senior VP of development and production for National Geographic Channels, said: “Similar to ‘The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us,’ our goal is to create the defining biography of another generation as told through unexpected game changers, history makers, world leaders and entertainers of the ’90s. Nutopia proved to be an amazing creative partner and we want to re-create the success on the next groundbreaking, cinematic special event. And maybe I will grow out my ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ sideburns again.”

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NBA vs. Tonys in Sunday Night Blowout

Sunday was a big night for live events on the broadcast networks, with ABC’s NBA Finals telecast going up against CBS’s Tony Awards. But based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo, the showdown was a mismatch.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that ABC ran away with the ratings for the night, even with game two of the Finals, in which the Miami Heat topped the San Antonio Spurs to even the series at 1-1, down 21% from last year. The game telecast averaged a 4.6 rating in viewers 18-49, to a 1.2 for CBS’s Tonys.

The Tonys were up 20% from a year ago. The report notes that the numbers are subject to more than the usual adjustments due to the nature of live programming.

ABC had a 1.9 for “Jimmy Kimmel Live -- Game Night,” down 10% from last year, and another 1.9 for “NBA Countdown -- Live,” off 39% from a year ago.

Fox and NBC put up all-repeat lineups. CBS served up a fresh episode of “60 Minutes” at 7 p.m., equaling the show’s season low with a 1.2 average in 18-49.

For prime time overall, ABC was the runaway winner with a 3.9 average in viewers 18-49, well ahead of CBS (1.2 average), Fox (1.0) and NBC (0.9). The battle for total viewers was tighter, but still an easy win for ABC with 10.0 million to CBS’s 7.7 million, NBC’s 3.4 million and Fox’s 2.3 million.

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Kickstarter Campaign by 'Girls' Actress -- Daughter of Famous Playwright -- Fails After Being Widely Mocked

A Kickstarter fundraising effort by an actress who’s one of the stars of HBO’s "Girls" was shut down after failing to reach its goal, TMZ.com reports.

The campaign by actress Zosia Mamet, which the story says was "hugely mocked," closed Sunday after having raised only $2,783, less than 10% of its goal of $32,000.

The effort was from Mamet and her younger sister, Clara, who wanted to raise money to make a music video. One of the reasons for raising the funds for their banjo-and-body-percussion band was for "an excuse to spend more time together."

Some thought the campaign was a prank, given that their father is the famed playwright David Mamet and they earn television-star salaries. Clara Mamet appears on ABC's "The Neighbors."

Because they didn't meet their goal, the pair won't receive any of the money. Their highest pledge was $100, and only 80 people backed the project, with most promising only $1 in support.

zosia-mamet.jpgZosia Mamet

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ABC Picks Up Drama Series From Bryan Singer

ABC has picked up a drama series from Bryan Singer. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the network gave a 13-episode straigth to series order to "The Black Box."

The drama is executive produced by Singer, of "The X Men," and "The L Word’s” Ilene Chaiken, along with writer Amy Holden Jones of "The Relic," the story notes.

The project is about a neuroscientist named Elizabeth Black who struggles with mental illness and has other secrets she keeps from her family. ABC is considering the drama for a January debut, the piece adds.

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Walmart Cashing In on Hot Reality Show -- Next Up: Halloween Costumes for Dogs

A red-hot reality show is turning out to be a gold mine for Walmart. Advertising Age reports that the giant retailer is making the most of a relationship with A&E's hit show "Duck Dynasty, whose stars Korie and Willie Robertson were feted at the retailer's shareholder meeting last week.

The pair are featured on the top-selling graphic T-shirt at the retailer, and Walmart plans an expansion of the licensing line, the story notes. By the holiday season, "Duck Dynasty" merchandise will be available in 13 of Walmart's departments, up from six currently.

Merchandise tied to the show is also available at retailers such as Kohl's and Cabela's, with Kohl's set to debut an apparel line later this year, the piece adds.

"Duck Dynasty" Halloween costumes for dogs -- beards and camo gear -- are among the products that are on the way at Walmart. Click here for more details about what’s in the pipeline, including “Duck Dynasty”-branded antibacterial bandages.

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'Arsenio Hall Show' Hires Veteran Director

Arsenio Hall's new syndicated talk show has hired a veteran director. TheWrap.com reports that the show tapped Leon Knoles, whose credits include "America's Got Talent' and "Randy Jackson Presents America's Best Dance Crew.”

The late-night show will debut Sept. 9, with Hall executive producing. It will air on stations across the country, including the Tribune Broadcasting station group, the piece notes.

"Leon Knoles knows live television, music and, more importantly, how I work -- which is an unbeatable combination in my opinion,” Hall said in a statement.

 

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Erin Brockovich Arrested

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich-Ellis was arrested over the weekend on suspicion of boating while under the influence at Lake Mead in Nevada, reports ABC News.

Brockovich, 52, was arrested after a game warden watched her allegedly struggle to dock her boat at the Las Vegas Boat Harbor, the story says. Her blood-alcohol level was reportedly found to be twice the legal limit, the piece adds.

Brockovich said in a statement: "At no time was the boat away from the dock and there was no public safety risk. That being said, I take drunk driving very seriously, this was clearly a big mistake, I know better and I am very sorry."

Brockovich, who gained fame after a movie starring Julia Roberts was made about her efforts to fight PG&E, has hosted ABC's "Challenge America with Erin Brockovich" and "Final Justice" on Zone Reality.

Erin-Brockovich.jpgErin Brockovich

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Video: Simon Cowell Gets Egged During Finale of 'Britain's Got Talent'

Simon Cowell was hit by eggs during the finale of "Britain's Got Talent," with a viola player getting up from her seat in the orchestra and throwing eggs at the host, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The incident took place while Richard and Adam Johnson sang an operatic version of "The Impossible Dream," with a backup orchestra accompanying them.

The violist, Natalie Holt, was a contestant on the show last year, the piece notes. Cowell had to change his jacket after the incident, about which he said, "I tweeted yesterday that I didn't like eggs. Now I really don't like them."

Here’s the clip, with the egging taking place near the end of the performance:

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John Malkovich Helps Save a Man's Life

Actor John Malkovich is credited with helping to save a man's life in Toronto, where he's starring in the play "The Giacomo Variations," reports the CBC.

Jim Walpole, a tourist from Ohio, tripped and fell, slashing his throat on some scaffolding. Malkovich suddenly appeared and applied pressure to stop the bleeding, the story says.

"The way he was spurting I thought it was the carotid [artery] or the jugular [vein]," Marilyn Walpole, the victim's wife, said.

Malkovich used his scarf to help stop the blood flow.

"I asked, 'What's your name?' He said, 'John.' And I didn't ask the last name 'cause I didn't figure I'd remember it anyhow," Jim Walpole said. He added that he didn't recognize the actor and wasn't sure if he had seen any of his films.

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CBS, Close to Wrapping Upfront Sales, Secures Price Hikes

CBS is largely finished with its upfront sales for the 2013-14 television season, reports The New York Times. The network's progress is surprising because of reports that the market for upfront advertising sales has turned sluggish or even reached an impasse, the story notes.

CBS is receiving rate increases of about 7.5%, slightly lower than last year's 8% to 9%, the piece reports, noting that analysts had expected rate bumps to be lower this year. In total volume, CBS is expected to sell between $2.5 billion to $2.6 billion in commercial time, the report adds.

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'Last Resort' Creator Working on Sci-Fi Drama for HBO

Karl Gajdusek, the creator and executive producer of ABC's canceled drama "Last Resort," is working on a sci-fi project with HBO called "The Spark," reports Deadline.com.

The project is set in the near future, when a female protagonist searches for the source of a signal from beyond the solar system, the story says. Gajdusek is writing and executive producing the project, which he said will touch on several pillars of science fiction, including alien contact and origin stories.

Since its horror show "Tales From the Crypt" in the 1990s, HBO has mostly stayed away from genre projects until it entered the fantasy arena with the hit "Game of Thrones," the piece notes.

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Trucking Drama in Development at Showtime

Showtime is working on a drama project focused on the world of truckers in middle America, Deadline.com reports. The scripted project is called "Heartland Trucking."

The project is from television writer and Walt Whitman Award-winning poet Tony Tost, Television 360 and Fox 21, the story reports. The project will look at a family-run business that also has its own criminal agenda.

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Non-TV Story of the Day: The Guardian's Video Interview With Whistleblower Behind Revelations of NSA Surveillance

The U.K. newspaper The Guardian broke the story of the leak of National Security Agency surveillance practices after revelations from whisteblower Edward Snowden. Click here to watch a video the publication posted of an interview with Snowden.

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Lifetime Casts 'Pan Am' Actress as Accused Ax Murderer

Lifetime has cast an actress who recently had a run on ABC’s short-lived drama series "Pan Am" in an original movie about Lizzie Borden. Deadline.com reports that Christina Ricci will play the woman who was tried and acquitted in the 1892 ax murders of her father and stepmother.

The project is executive produced by Judith Verno of Lifetime’s "Drew Peterson: Untouchable," and is produced by Sony Pictures Television. Two years ago, actress Chloe Sevigny was attached to play Borden in an HBO miniseries project, the piece notes.

Borden lived in Fall River, Mass., where the murders took place, for the remainder of her life following her acquittal. No one else was ever charged with the crime, which is still unsolved.

“Pan Am,” which also starred Margot Robbie and Michael Mosley, bowed in fall 2011 and lasted one season on ABC.

Thumbnail image for Christina-Ricci.jpgChristina Ricci

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Actress Who Has Reportedly Had Minor Parts in Some Popular Series ('The Walking Dead,' 'The Vampire Diaries') Arrested in Sending of Poison-Laced Letters to Obama and Mayor Bloomberg

"A TV actress was arrested in Arkansas on Friday in connection with ricin-laced letters sent to President Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg," reports USA Today..

The story continues, "The arrest of Shannon Rogers Guess Richardson, 38, initially reported by NBC News, comes two weeks after Richardson contacted the FBI claiming that her husband, Nathan Richardson, had sent the letters last month to Obama, Bloomberg and Mark Glaze, head of a gun-control organization co-founded by Bloomberg."

The USA Today report adds: "Nathan Richardson, a 33-year-old Army veteran, was questioned by the FBI last week. He has been married to Guess, a former Dallas beauty queen, since 2011. Mrs. Richardson, a mother of five, has had minor roles in [the] cable TV series 'The Walking Dead' and [the CW's] 'The Vampire Diaries.' "

You can view a picture of Shannon Rogers Guess Richardson and read her resume on IMDb if you click here.

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Video: NBC Takes Wraps Off Trailer for Its Line-Blurring Series 'Siberia'

NBC has released a trailer for its summer show “Siberia,” in which the lines are blurred between reality TV and drama. See what you think:

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ABC Ordering Drama Series

ABC is putting the finishing touches on a straight-to-series order for a drama series. Deadline.com reports that the network is ordering “The Black Box,” written by Amy Holden Jones (“The Relic,” “Mystic Pizza”).

Nellie Andreeva writes in the Deadline.com piece: “She is executive producing with ‘The L Word’ creator Ilene Chaiken, who serves as showrunner, ‘X-Men’ director Bryan Singer, 3 Arts’ Oly Obst (‘The Invention of Lying’), and Anne Thomopoulos (‘Borgia’). The Black Box centers on Elizabeth Black, world renowned neuroscientist who appears to have it all but is constantly haunted by her own struggle with mental illness. And that is not the only secret she’s kept locked away from her family and her new fiance.”

The project marks the first move into television for indie film finance and production firm Bold Films, the piece notes.

Andreeva adds: “No premiere date has been set yet but I hear the series is being eyed for midseason, possibly January. This marks the first international package deal for WME, which reps Jones, Singer and Chaiken.”

ABC reportedly landed the project after a bidding war.

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Dominant Night for ABC as NBA Finals Open

ABC scored a slam dunk in the broadcast ratings Thursday night even as the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs opened with viewership numbers well below last year’s game one, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the game, won by the Spurs, delivered a preliminary 4.9 average rating in viewers 18-49, along with 12.29 million total viewers. That compares with a 6.9 for last year’s opener, when the Heat faced the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The report notes that the preliminary numbers are approximate and are subject to more than the usual adjustments due to the nature of live sports programming.

On a night of all-NBA-oriented programming, ABC also had a 2.1 average in 18-49 for “Jimmy Kimmel Live: Game Night” and a 2.5 for “NBA Countdown,” as the Alphabet Network coasted to an easy win for the night.

ABC averaged a 4.0 rating in adults 18-49 for prime time overall, well ahead of Fox (1.6 average), CBS (1.3), Univision (1.3) and NBC (0.7). ABC outpaced the pack in total viewers as well, averaging 10.4 million to lead CBS (6.6 million), Fox (4.0 million), Univision (3.3 million) and NBC (2.3 million).

Fox got a 2.1 average out of “Hell’s Kitchen” (equal to last week) and a 1.2 for “Does Someone Have to Go?” (up two-tenths) in the 18-49 demo. CBS aired all repeats.

NBC put up back-to-back episodes of “Save Me,” with both installments averaging 0.7 ratings in adults 18-49, up from 0.6 averages last week. “Hannibal” settled for a 0.9, slipping one-tenth.

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OWN Slates Comedy Specials

Oprah Winfrey’s OWN cable network is trying its hand at comedy. Deadline.com reports that the channel will televise a pair of comedy specials July 13 and July 20, with comedian Wanda Sykes hosting.

The all-female summer specials, “Wanda Sykes Presents Herlarious,” will focus on emerging female comedians.

“The one-hour original comedy specials will be hosted and produced by Sykes and Page Hurwitz’s Push It Prods., in conjunction with Harpo Studios,” the story reports. “The shows will be taped in front of a live studio audience at Harpo Studios in Chicago, the former home of ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show.’”

Among those set to perform are Andi Smith, Gloria Bigelow, Marina Franklin, Tracey Ashley, Carmen Lynch and Dominique Witten, the piece reports.

The report adds: “Kym Whitley from OWN’s Raising Whitley is among those scheduled for a guest appearance. Sykes also will appear with her guests in a series of comedy shorts that will air throughout each hour.”

Executive producers are Sykes, Hurwitz and Harpo’s Jill Barancik, with Sykes collaborators Lance Crouther and Alyson Fouse on board as writers.

The report notes: “Sykes hosted and produced her own late-night talk show ‘The Wanda Sykes Show’ on Fox. She also co-created/executive produced and toplined the Fox comedy series ‘Wanda at Large.’ Sykes has done three stand-up specials: ‘Wanda Sykes: Tongue Untied’ for Comedy Central and two HBO specials ‘Wanda Sykes; Sick and Tired’ and ‘I’ma Be Me,’ both of which were nominated for Primetime Emmy Awards.”

Thumbnail image for wanda-sykes.jpgWanda Sykes

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FX Cancels Show After Two Seasons

FX has canceled a show soon after the finale of its second season. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the cable channel pulled the plug on comedian Russell Brand's late-night talk show "Brand X with Russell Brand."

"Brand X" ran for two seasons on the network as a weekly talk show, with its season finale airing May 2. The show was retooled after its first eight episodes, the piece notes.

FX will continue to work with Brand on a scripted live-action comedy, the story reports.

The new project is based on Brand's life and is in the early stages of development. FX Networks CEO John Landgraf likened the project to Larry David’s "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

The story adds: “There is good news for FX's other late-night effort: ‘Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell’ will switch from a weekly to daily format come September when it moves to comedy-centric network FXX at the September launch.”

Landgraf said of Bell’s politically oriented show: "We saw more potential and upside in audience response."

 

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Nickelodeon Star Arrested

One of the current stars of Nickelodeon, who also has been making a mark in feature films, has been arrested. TMZ.com reports that Cody Longo, who stars in the Nick at Nite/TeenNick series "Hollywood Heights," was arrested early Thursday in Los Angeles on a drunken driving charge.

Longo, 25, was driving in Hollywood around 2:30 a.m. when the police reportedly noticed him driving aggressively, tailing a car and flashing his lights. He allegedly failed field sobriety tests, the story says.

A source reportedly said Longo’s blood-alcohol level registered as .19 and .20 on a couple of tests, more than twice the legal limit.

He was later released after posting $15,000 bail. A representative said, "This was an unfortunate misunderstanding," and added, "Cody takes it very seriously as his focus is music and acting."

Longo has appeared in films including “For the Love of Money” and “Piranha 3D,” and on the NBC soap “Days of Our Lives,” among other TV series.

cody-longo.jpgCody Longo

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Report: Michael Jackson's Kids Are Almost Unsupervised

After looking into Paris Jackson's hospitalization this week, child welfare investigators reportedly discovered that the children of the late pop superstar Michael Jackson are almost unsupervised, the New York Post reports.

Paris Jackson's co-guardian, her cousin T.J. Jackson, is now allegedly living almost two hours away from her family, instead of watching her and her two brothers with their 83-year-old grandmother, the story says.

Los Angeles County Child and Family Services didn't know that T.J. Jackson, 34, was living so far away until Paris Jackson was hospitalized in a reported suicide attempt, the story notes. T.J. Jackson was picked to help their grandmother because he's considered responsible, but he apparently moved 76 miles away a few months ago.

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Two TV Station Owners to Merge

Two companies that own television stations have announced a merger that will create a company owning 30 stations. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Media General is merging with New Young Broadcasting Holding Co., a privately held company that owns 12 television stations.

Media General, which owns 18 TV stations, will keep its dual-class stock ownership structure, the story notes. The combined company will own stations reaching 14% of the U.S. TV market, with revenue of more than $600 million.

The new company will keep the Media General name and will remain headquartered in Richmond, Va.

 

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Man Tries to Kill Himself Outside NBC's 'Today' Show

A distraught man tried to kill himself Thursday morning outside the Rockefeller Center studios of NBC's "Today" show, reports the New York Post.

The man, Pak Chong Mar, was ranting about a $1.3 million IRS bill, and sliced his wrists with a boxcutter at about 7:50 a.m., the story reports. He allegedly screamed, "The IRS is trying to take my money! I'm not a freeloader!"

Frightened tourists ran to hide, reportedly concerned about a terror attack similar to a recent attack on a British soldier in London.

A security guard took him down, while nearby police officers jumped in to help. Mar, 72, was sprayed with Mace to subdue him. His wounds weren't life threatening, the story notes.

His daughter told the newspaper that her father has a history of erratic behavior when stressed. He reportedly chopped off three of his fingers in 1995 to protest an eviction, and then refused to get them sewn back on.

"I think it’s a cry for help. If it was suicidal he would have done something much more drastic," his daughter, Lisa Yu Paks, said.

The NBC morning program appeared to be relatively unaffected. A witness said the “Today” show’s Al Roker and Matt Lauer “came out and looked at the scene. Al Roker just shook his head and went back inside. Matt Lauer went in shortly after.”

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Showtime Renews Comedy Series

Showtime has announced a renewal for a comedy series. Deadline.com reports that the pay-cable channel renewed "Nurse Jackie" just days before the dark comedy's fifth-season finale.

Showrunner Clyde Phillips, who took on the role after the fourth season, will return, as will executive producers Caryn Mandabach, Richie Jackson and Tom Straw.

The program stars Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton, a brilliant but flawed emergency room nurse, a role for which she won an Emmy.

The sixth season will start production this fall in New York, with the season to premiere in 2014.

 

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CBS Gives Script Commitment to James Gandolfini Project

In an early buy for the next development cycle, CBS has given a script commitment to a project with James Gandolfini attached to executive produce, Deadline.com reports.

"Taxi-22," an adaptation of a French-Canadian single-camera comedy, has been set at HBO for the past three years and went through different incarnations. At one point Gandolfini was attached to play the lead. But now a search is on for a new writer, and there aren't any plans for Gandolfini to star.

The project is said to be about a politically incorrect NYC cab driver, similar in spirit to the character Archie Bunker from “All in the Family.”

 

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Non-TV Story of the Day: Troubled San Onofre Nuclear Plant in Southern California Shutting Down for Good

"Southern California Edison (SCE) said today (Friday, June 7, 2013) it will close the troubled San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (or SONGS)," reports NPR's primary news radio outlet in Los Angeles, KPCC.

The article continues, "The twin-domed nuclear plant, on the seaside border of San Diego and Orange counties, hasn't produced electricity since January 2012, after a small radiation leak led to the discovery of unusually rapid wear inside hundreds of tubes that carry radioactive water in the nearly new generators.

" 'SONGS has served this region for over 40 years,' said Ted Craver, chairman and CEO of Edison International, parent company of SCE, in a news release, 'but we have concluded that the continuing uncertainty about when or if SONGS might return to service was not good for our customers, our investors, or the need to plan for our region’s long-term electricity needs."

The plant first went into operation in 1968. The reactor that served the plant at that time was shut down in 1992 and then dismantled. Two other nuclear reactors have served the plant since that time. Those two nuclear reactors have been shut down since January 2012.

The KPCC article adds, "Last month, SCE's parent, Edison International, raised the possibility of retiring the plant if it can't get one reactor running later this year. With questions about whether the plant can restart and who picks up the tab, 'there is a practical limit to how much we can absorb of that risk,' Edison Chairman Ted Craver told Wall Street analysts.

"SCE's news release said that in connection with the decision, SCE estimates that it will record a charge in the second quarter of between $450 million and $650 million before taxes ($300 million-$425 million after taxes), in accordance with accounting requirements."

The article also has a comment from Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth: “This is very good news for the people of Southern California. We have long said that these reactors are too dangerous to operate and now Edison has agreed. The people of California now have the opportunity to move away from the failed promise of dirty and dangerous nuclear power and replace it with the safe and clean energy provided by the sun and the wind."

To read SCE's entire statement about the closing of the nuclear plant, please click here.

san onofre.jpg

The twin concrete containment structures of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant have long been a familiar sight to those traveling on Interstate 5 just north of San Diego.

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Sundance Channel Orders Reality Show From Celebrity Chef

Sundance Channel has ordered a reality show from a well-known television chef. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the cable channel ordered "Dream School" from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

The show will look at how kids who are struggling in school would perform if their teachers were achievers and leaders, the story says. Oliver created the format, which is already a successful show in Britain, the piece notes.

"The series of 'Dream School' we did in the U.K. was one of the things I’m most proud of,” Oliver said. “We literally changed the lives of many of the kids for the better: Some of them went back to school and are now excelling; some of them found out that, despite being told in school that they would never achieve anything, they were actually very gifted at art or acting and went on to achieve great things.”

Oliver will serve as an executive producer, while rapper 50 Cent is expected to appear in the show and also executive produce, the story notes.

 

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HBO Wraps Comedy Series

HBO announced that it is wrapping up a comedy series that has been televised on the pay-cable channel since 2009. The show is “Eastbound & Down,” which will shut down after its upcoming fourth season.

Season four of the series, which stars Danny McBride as Kenny Powers, a self-destructive pro baseball pitcher, is set to premiere Sunday, Sept. 29, with eight episodes on tap. The season begins shooting this week in North Carolina.

“In the third season of ‘Eastbound & Down,’ which concluded in April 2012, Kenny Powers finally made it back to the majors and recaptured his former glory, only to fake his own death and run back home to his beloved April, the mother of his child,” HBO said in its announcement today. “The upcoming fourth season picks up the action several years later and finds Kenny living the American Dream with his family in North Carolina.”

Separately, HBO announced the return date for “Boardwalk Empire,” with the drama series debuting its fourth season Sept. 8. Larry David’s movie “Clear History” is set for Aug. 10, and Stephen Merchant’s comedy series “Hello Ladies” bows Sept. 29.

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Chernin May Have a Powerful Ally in Bid for Hulu

The Chernin Group’s effort to acquire online streaming service Hulu may have found a high-powered ally. The Wall Street Journal reports that AT&T is considering joining the group in its bid for Hulu.

"It makes sense -- in addition to its core phone business, AT&T also sells broadband and TV via its U-verse service,” the story reports. “And, while well-funded, Chernin certainly could use the extra financial firepower in the multi-player competition to buy Hulu.”

Several big companies have expressed interest in Hulu since its owners -- News Corp., Disney and Comcast -- decided to sell. Among the suitors are Yahoo, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV and Guggenheim Partners.

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Joan Rivers and Bristol Palin to Switch on 'Wife Swap'

The mother-daughter pair of Joan and Melissa Rivers will switch lives with Bristol and Willow Palin on ABC’s "Celebrity Wife Swap," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The Rivers pair will move to Alaska and take care of Bristol's son, Tripp, who the story says "rules the Palin household." They'll be asked to bring some structure to the 4-year-old's life.

The Palins, the daughters of former Gov. Sarah Palin, will fill in as executive producers of "Fashion Police," will entertain at formal dinner parties and will care for Melissa's 12-year-old son, Cooper, the story says.

The summer reality series will debut June 23, with the Rivers-Palin episode as the premiere.

 

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FX Eyes Companion Series to 'American Horror Story'

FX is considering a companion series to "American Horror Story: Coven." The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the network is looking into creating a show along the lines of AMC's "The Talking Dead," a companion to its zombie hit "The Walking Dead.”

"We're thinking about it," FX Networks Chief Executive John Landgraf told the publication. "If we do it I don't think we'll necessarily do it the way AMC does, as a linear thing. We might do an online thing. We haven't made a final decision but I think there's a decent possibility we're going to do something like that for 'Coven.'"

The network has done a "fair amount of legwork" on the concept, although Landgraf said it is too early to consider hosts for the project.

 

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Two ABC Series Sink to All-Time Ratings Lows

On a night when much of the broadcast lineup was filled with repeat programming, ABC aired a mix of reruns and fresh episodes, and the results were less than encouraging, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that two of ABC’s original shows, “Family Tools” and “How to Live With Your Parents,” sank to all-time series lows. “Family Tools” delivered a 0.9 average rating in viewers 18-49, slipping one-tenth of a ratings point from last week, when the show also set a series low.

“How to Live With Your Parents” also lost one-tenth from a week ago, dipping to a series-low 1.4 average in 18-49. ABC’s only other fresh program, “The Lookout,” held steady to last week with a 1.1.

Winning the night among the broadcast nets was Fox, whose two-hour “MasterChef” claimed top show of the night on broadcast with a 2.2 average in adults 18-49.

CBS broke out just one new program, “The American Baking Competition,” which equaled the 1.0 average the show delivered last week in the 18-49 demo.

NBC’s only original, “Dateline,” settled for a 1.1 in 18-49, losing four-tenths from last week’s Wednesday installment.

Fox led the broadcast nets for prime time overall with a 2.2 average in viewers 18-49, followed by Univision (1.4 average), ABC (1.1), CBS (1.1) and NBC (0.9). Fox also took a narrow win in total viewers, averaging 5.4 million to CBS’s 5.3 million, NBC’s 4.3 million, ABC’s 3.9 million and Univision’s 3.6 million.

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Star Who Went From Champion Athlete to Box Office Queen in 1940s Musicals Dead at 91

An actress who parlayed her athletic talent into a career as one of the biggest stars in Hollywood has died. The New York Times reports that Esther Williams died today, June 6, 2013, in Beverly Hills, Calif., at 91.

Williams was a champion swimmer who set a number of national records but was kept from competing in the 1940 Olympics because of the outbreak of World War II. She was discovered by MGM scouts while swimming as a member of Billy Rose’s Aquacade and soon became a regular in MGM musicals.

“From ‘Bathing Beauty’ in 1944 to ‘Jupiter’s Darling’ in 1955, Ms. Williams swam in Technicolor pools, lakes, lagoons and oceans, cresting onto the list of Top 10 box-office stars in 1949 and 1950,” The Times reports.

Film critic Pauline Kael wrote: “Esther Williams had one contribution to make to movies -- her magnificent athletic body. And for over 10 years MGM made the most of it, keeping her in clinging, wet bathing suits and hoping the audience would shiver.”

The Times reports: “In her autobiography, ‘The Million Dollar Mermaid’ (1999), Ms. Williams spoke of movie stardom as her ‘consolation prize,’ won instead of the Olympic gold medal for which she had yearned. At the national championships in 1939, Ms. Williams, who was 17, won three gold medals and earned a place on the 1940 United States Olympic team. But Hitler invaded Poland, and the 1940 Olympics were canceled with the onset of World War II.”

The report adds: “At a time when most movies cost less than $2 million, MGM built Ms. Williams a $250,000 swimming pool on Stage 30. It had underwater windows, colored fountains and hydraulic lifts, and it was usually stocked with a dozen bathing beauties. Performing in that 25-foot-deep pool, which the swimmers nicknamed Pneumonia Alley, Ms. Williams ruptured her eardrums seven times.

“By 1952, the swimming sequences in Ms. Williams’s movies, which were often elaborate fantasies created by Busby Berkeley, had grown more and more extravagant. For that year’s ‘Million Dollar Mermaid,’ she wore 50,000 gold sequins and a golden crown. The crown was made of metal, and in a swan dive into the pool from a 50-foot platform, her head snapped back when she hit the water. The impact broke her back, and she spent the next six months in a cast.”

She tried non-swimming roles, without much success. “Audiences rejected her in dramas like ‘The Hoodlum Saint’ (1946) and ‘The Unguarded Moment’ (1956),” the story reports. “Her only dry-land box-office success was ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ (1949), with Ms. Williams as the owner of a baseball team whose players included Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly.”

Other movie roles for Williams included “This Time for Keeps” (1947), “Fiesta” (1947), “On an Island With You” (1948), “Easy to Love” (1953) and “Duchess of Idaho” (1950).

esther-williams.jpgEsther Williams

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Executive Shuffle Continues at FX Networks

The management shuffle continues at FX Networks in advance of the company’s planned fall expansion. According to The Hollywood Reporter, newly anointed CEO John Landgraf elevated his longtime lieutenants.

“FX executives Nick Grad, Eric Schrier and Chuck Saftler each have been promoted to the position of president, a move that follows Tuesday's announcment that Landgraf would be upped to chief executive of both FX Networks and in-house studio FX Productions,” the story reports. “The executive shuffling comes some three months before Landgraf and the newly promoted trio are set to roll out FXX, a primarily comedy-focused network targeting a slightly younger 18-34 demo, as well as expand both FX and FXM (formerly Fox Movie Channel). In an upfront presentation to ad buyers earlier this year, the team said that it intends to deliver more than 25 original scripted series across the suite of channels over the next three years.”

Grad and Schrier will share the roles of president of original programming for FX Networks and FX Productions, meaning they will oversee all programming for FX, FXM and FXX. “Saftler will serve as president of program strategy and COO of FX Networks, which will give him oversight of scheduling, acquisitions and operations for the group of cable nets,” the piece reports. “He will also oversee specials, including award shows, and will continue to have creative and business oversight of the 10/90 series, including Charlie Sheen’s ‘Anger Management’ and the upcoming George Lopez comedy, ‘Saint George.’”

Landgraf commented: “Nick, Eric and Chuck have been involved in every facet of FX’s success over the past decade. It is only appropriate to see them each take on more responsibility as we pursue an ambitious expansion of our channels, programming and distribution platforms. While it is hard at times to step back from some of the day-to-day creative dialogues I love so much, it makes it easier when trusted colleagues and longtime partners are stepping up. It is my honor to work with them.”

Grad has been at FX since 2002, and was previously executive VP of original programming and development. Schier has been on board since 1999, most recently as executive VP of FX Productions and head of series development for FX.

“For his part, Saftler has the distinction of being the longest-tenured FX employee, having joined the network as director of scheduling in December of 1993, seven months prior to the network’s launch,” THR reports. The piece adds: “More recently, he has been responsible for assembling FX’s blockbuster-heavy movie library as well as the network’s UFC interests and all deals for its acquired series, including ‘Two and a Half Men,’ ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and ‘Mike & Molly.’”

Earlier this week Landgraf, who had been president and general manager of FX Networks and FX Productions, was promoted to CEO of both entities, as previously reported.

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Hosts of Self-Help Show Commit Double Suicide

A couple who hosted a self-help radio show committed double suicide, the New York Daily News reports. The Brooklyn couple, Lynne Rosen and John Littig, hosted a show called "The Pursuit of Happiness."

They committed suicide together by putting plastic bags over their heads and inhaling helium, the newspaper reports. They were found dead on a couch in their living room, leaving behind two notes.

“’We’re going to do this together,’ was the gist of Littig’s note, sources said,” the story reports. “Littig said, without explanation, that he could not watch his wife suffer anymore.”

Said a police source: “Her note basically said she was sorry for doing this. We believe she had some psychological problems.”

The report adds: “Until their decomposing bodies were found Monday, the couple had been best known as the hosts of a self-help radio show on WBAI-FM.”

Littig, a motivational speaker and musician, was 48 and Rosen, a psychotherapist, was 46.

“Neighbors in the 10-unit brownstone where the couple lived for two decades said they noticed a foul smell coming from their first-floor apartment earlier this week. They said the super kicked in the door after noticing blood dripping down into the basement through their floor,” the story reports.

“Police have not said when the couple ended it all. But neighbors said they were told they had been dead for a week before they were found.”

lynne-rosen-john-littig.jpgJohn Littig and Lynne Rosen

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Showtime Pulls Plug on Drama Series

Showtime is ending the run of a drama series. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the pay-cable channel will pull the plug on the medieval series "The Borgias" at the end of its current third season.

The June 16 season finale will serve as the show's series finale, the story notes. The show was originally envisioned as running for four seasons, similar to the network's historical drama "The Tudors."

Creator Neil Jordan said that while filming a pivotal scene in the third-season finale, star Jeremy Irons turned to him and said, "This feels like the end of something, that the family has come to an end.”

"While mulling a potential fourth season, Jordan said he wasn’t sure he had enough material for 10 episodes and wasn’t sure whether Showtime would want to commit to another season either," Andreeva writes.

Jordan said, "As a compromise, I proposed to finish the arc of all the characters with a two-hour movie.” He added, “When they looked at what it could cost, it was just too expensive."

He noted that he nevertheless likes where the story ends with the third-season finale.

 

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NBC News Veteran Jumps to Al Jazeera America

Al Jazeera America hired an NBC News veteran as its first White House correspondent. TVNewser reports that the channel hired NBC News correspondent Mike Viqueira for the position.

Viqueira most recently reported from the White House for NBC's "Today" and "Nightly News," among other NBC productions, the story says. He worked on the White House beat for four years, but was shifted back to Capitol Hill in December, the story notes.

He joins other prominent Al Jazeera America hires including CNN's Ali Velshi and Thomson Reuters executive John Meehan, who will work on the network's business coverage.

mike-viqueira.jpg

Mike Viqueira

 

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Details Surface on Paris Jackson's Struggle With Depression, 'Cry for Help'

Paris Jackson's hospitalization Wednesday came after a suicide attempt and a long period of depression, reports People magazine, citing a source close to the Jackson family.

As previously reported, Jackson, the daughter of the late pop superstar Michael Jackson, was hospitalized after what was reported as a possible suicide attempt.

Paris Jackson, 15, allegedly cut her wrists with a kitchen knife and swallowed as many as 20 ibuprofen tablets, the story says. She remained in a Southern California hospital, where she was said to be “stabilized.”

"Paris has been very, very depressed for a while. She's been throwing fits and tantrums, kicking and screaming and cutting herself," the source told the publication, adding: "Some of this is normal teenager things, hormonal changes. But now it's serious. Paris has said that there is something missing in her life. This is a cry for help."

The source also noted that the teenager misses her father, with June 25 marking the fourth anniversary of his death. "She was the center of Michael's world and it's all different now,” the source said. “She says that she is lonely and that she doesn't feel loved."

A second source quoted in the People report added: "Paris is very unhappy and alone. She's living in this place and there's security and uncles and all these hangers-on. And she's alone. That's one of the reasons she reached out to Debbie Rowe -- she wants a family; she's missed her dad."

Paris Jackson has recently rekindled her relationship with her mother, Rowe, as reported previously.

The report adds: “While her grandmother (and legal co-guardian) Katherine has been very supportive of Paris' ongoing relationship with Rowe, recently Paris has felt pressures outside the family. She signed with a manager and has been flooded with offers to work but hasn't wanted to commit, says the first family source.”

paris-jackson2.jpgParis Jackson

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Keith Olbermann Returning to TV

Keith Olbermann has signed a deal that will mark his return to television. Writing in The New York Times, Bill Carter reports that Olbermann signed with Turner Sports to host its studio coverage of postseason Major League Baseball this fall.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, including its length, but Turner sports distribution President David Levy told The Times that the network wants to have the show with Olbermann "last a long time." The job with Turner means that he will be on the air for much of October.

Olbermann, who has a background in sports including his work as an ESPN "SportsCenter" anchor in the 1990s, has ended many of his jobs in acrimony. Olbermann made light of his career, telling The Times, "If you go through the 37 pages of my resume, you will notice that every one of my jobs has lasted at least one month, so I’m covered no matter what the eventuality is.”

Because the role effectively gives him 11 months free, Olbermann said he would be "open to pursuing other things, of course.” He added, “Planning on it? No. Need to? Fortunately not. Whatever else might be out there just could not be as compelling as this.”

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Keith Olbermann

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Girls Gone Wild Founder Threatens Legal Action Over Stolen Sex Tape

Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis is threatening to sue over a sex tape that was taken from his girlfriend's stolen iPad, reports TMZ.com.

The footage, which features Francis and his girlfriend Abbey Wilson, was shot several weeks ago, the story says. Wilson was the winner of the Girls Gone Wild “Search for the Hottest Girl in America” contest in 2012, the report notes.

“The footage contains material from several sexual liaisons ... and it's currently being shopped to various media outlets,” the story reports. “Francis tells TMZ ... he has nothing to do with the tape's release -- and, ironically, he's trying desperately to stop it from going public by threatening the person who has it.”

Wilson's iPad was recently stolen from her bag at the Los Angeles International Airport.

David Houston, an attorney for Francis, said: "It is not only unfortunate, but it is a crime. As such, this office will take all necessary steps to determine who in fact has done this and who is attempting to distribute the video.”

joe-francis-abbey-wilson.jpgAbbey Wilson and Joe Francis

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How Does 'CBS Evening News' Anchor Scott Pelley Feel About Being in Third Place? Not Great

"CBS Evening News" anchor Scott Pelley isn't happy that his newscast is in third place, reports the New York Post.

"I hate it,” he said. “It drives me crazy all day every day. It’s awful. CBS should be first, not third."

He added, "But at least we’re a competitive third now. We’re close to overtaking ABC in the [news demo]. Our headlights are in their rearview mirror.”

When Pelley took over the newscast from Katie Couric it trailed "The NBC Nightly News" and ABC's "World News" by much larger margins. Since then, Pelley and CBS have started to close the gap, and “Evening News” was the only network newscast to show a spike in the 25-54 demographic -- the key news demo -- for the season.

"There’s an enormous curiosity about why a network evening news broadcast like ours is up 1 million viewers over two years -- which is counter to every trend we’ve seen in broadcast TV,” Pelley said. “Why? People are looking for a place they can get all the news they’re curious about in one small bite.”

scott-pelley.jpgScott Pelley

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Cable Show Makes Ratings History

A cable show made history during the 2012-2013 TV season by becoming the top-rated scripted series in the key demo of viewers 18-49 for the entire season -- topping its competition on broadcast as well as cable. TheWrap.com reports that AMC's "The Walking Dead" pulled off the accomplishment, becoming the first cable show in history to do so.

The zombie show ranked not only as the No. 1 scripted show for the 2012-13 season, but as the second-highest-rated show overall, after NBC's "Sunday Night Football."

The win is a stamp of approval not only for cable, but for scripted programming, given that Fox's "American Idol" was TV's top-rated series for almost a decade, the story notes. It was only in the 2011-2012 season that football surpassed “Idol.”

CBS's comedy "The Big Bang Theory" was the second-highest-rated scripted show.

"The Walking Dead" averaged a 7.5 rating in the 18-49 demo, with "The Big Bang Theory" drawing a 7.2. The top scripted show in total viewers, however, was CBS's "NCIS," which averaged 22.7 million viewers.

 

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Former '24' Director and Showrunner Reunite for TNT Series

Former "24" executive producer and director Brad Turner is reuniting with the series' showrunner and executive producer, Howard Gordon, on Gordon’s new TNT drama series "Legends," reports Deadline.com.

Turner will join the project as an executive producer and director. “Legends” is based on a book by Robert Littell and stars Sean Bean as an undercover FBI Deep Cover Operations agent who can disguise himself as a different person for each assignment, the story notes.

Gordon is also known for his work on Showtime’s “Homeland” and the NBC sci-fi thriller “Awake.”

 

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Rod Serling's Final Screenplay to Become Miniseries?

The final screenplay by the man behind “The Twilight Zone” -- Rod Serling -- is being shopped as a miniseries by J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot Productions, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The production company bought the rights to Serling's "The Stops Along the Way," the story notes. The idea is to sell the project as an "event" series.

Serling created "The Twilight Zone,” which aired on CBS from 1959 to 1964 and was recently named the third best-written TV show of all time, as previously reported. Serling also wrote and produced many screenplays, including "Planet of the Apes."

The content of "The Stops Along the Way" has remained a mystery since Serling's death in 1975. Serling reportedly mentioned the script in his final interview, saying it was one of his personal favorites among the pieces he had written, but did not reveal what it was about.

Rod-Serling.jpgRod Serling

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The CW Wraps Upfront Sales, Secures CPM Increases

The CW television network is the first broadcaster to wrap up negotiations for advertising sales for the 2013-2014 television season, reaching an amount on par with last year's commitments, the Los Angeles Times' Company Town reports.

The CW received CPM increases of 5% to 6%, and booked commitments of $410 million to $420 million, the story notes. The CW ended the 2012-2013 season down more than 10% among viewers 18-49, although its total audience grew by about 4%.

Fox last week started off the annual haggling in the upfront market, negotiating rate increases of 5% to 7%, the story notes.

The CW sold about 75% of its prime-time commercial inventory for the 2013-14 TV season, keeping the remainder for sales throughout the season.

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'Modern Family' Star's Nonprofit Group Targeted by the IRS

The Internal Revenue Service was singling out more than conservative and tea party activist groups -- it also targeted a pro-gay marriage nonprofit founded by "Modern Family" star Jesse Tyler Ferguson, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The IRS has admitted its actions weren't appropriate when it singled out applications from tea party and other conservative groups, the story notes. Some liberal organizations were also caught up in the agency's examination, however.

Ferguson's group, called Tie the Knot, raises money to support marriage equality by selling designer bow ties. The group was on a list issued by the IRS last month of "advocacy" groups whose applications were flagged for extra scrutiny because of indications they could engage in political activity, the piece reports.

A spokeswoman for Ferguson and the group said the actor had no comment.

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'Breaking Bad' Creator Says He Cried While He Was Writing the Finale

"Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan said he cried while writing the finale to the AMC drama, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“I haven't told my crew this. I actually cried writing the end -- 'The end' -- on the last episode," said Gilligan, who spoke on a panel benefiting 826LA. "I haven’t since then."

He added that the show’s ending was not something that was planned from the outset. The show is frequently lauded for its careful planning.

"We sat around in the writer’s room for thousands of man hours playing a game of chess, saying, ‘If we move the character from here to here to here, what happens? What’s the counter-move?’” Gilligan said. “Essentially, we said, ‘What are all the possible endings we can come up with?' And then, ‘What is the ending that satisfies us the most?’”

826LA is a nonprofit organization supporting student writers.

vince-gilligan.jpgVince Gilligan

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Michael Jackson's Daughter in 'Possible Suicide Attempt'

The 15-year-old daughter of the late pop superstar Michael Jackson was hospitalized early today in what has been reported as a “possible suicide attempt,” USA Today reports.

Paris Jackson was reportedly out of physical danger and remained in the hospital at midday today. 

“Paris was taken out of her Calabasas family house on a stretcher at around 2 a.m. and taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital,” TMZ.com reported. “The 911 call came in at 1:27 a.m. We're told the caller reported a possible overdose, although a source connected to the emergency response said there were multiple cuts on one of her wrists.”

Paris posted some pointed tweets Tuesday night, TMZ noted, including: "I wonder why tears are salty?" ... and "yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away now it looks as though they're here to stay."

One source reportedly said Paris “threw a fit” Tuesday night after being told she could not go to a Marilyn Manson concert, but other sources later indicated it was a false report.

USA Today adds: “The King of Pop's ex-wife and Paris' mom, Debbie Rowe, tells Entertainment Tonight that Paris, 15, was ‘rushed to the hospital with cuts on her wrist.’ Rowe tells ET that Jackson has had ‘a lot going on (lately).’

“Paris recently rekindled her relationship with ... Rowe and has been spending time with her for the first time since Michael and Debbie divorced in 1999. Mom and daughter were spotted celebrating Paris' 15th birthday at Ahi Sushi in Studio City, Calif., on April 3.”

Katherine Jackson's lawyer, Perry Sanders, released a statement saying: "Being a sensitive 15-year-old is difficult no matter who you are. It is especially difficult when you lose the person closest to you. Paris is physically fine and is getting appropriate medical attention. Please respect her privacy and the family's privacy."

paris-jackson.jpgParis Jackson

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TV's Greatest Writers Speak Out About TV's Greatest Writers

A gathering that included Norman Lear, Carl Reiner, Steven Bochco, James L. Brooks, Steven Levitan, Matthew Weiner, Gail Parent and other top television writers took place over the weekend, as the Writers Guild of America formally unveiled its list of the 101 Best Written TV Series.

TVWeek Open Mic writer Hillary Atkin was on hand for all the tales of what it’s like to write in TV -- covering the decades from the Golden Age to today. Click here for her report on the people and shows that had everyone talking.

 

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One Network Dominates the Tuesday Night Broadcast Ratings

Even on a night when its franchise series fell to a historic low, one network almost doubled its closest competition for prime time in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC’s reality franchise “The Voice” lost two-tenths of a ratings point from last week, sinking to a 3.0 average in 18-49, an all-time low for a Tuesday installment of the show. Leading out from “The Voice,” the two-hour premiere of “America’s Got Talent” delivered a 3.1 to wind up as the top show of the night on broadcast. But “Talent” was down a hefty six-tenths from last year’s premiere, and it was the show’s lowest-rated premiere yet.

NBC wound up as the big winner for the night against weak competition. CBS aired mostly repeats, ABC put up the struggling “Extreme Weight Loss” and Fox came in second with the sputtering “So You Think You Can Dance.”

For the night, NBC led the way with a 3.1 average rating in the 18-49 demo, followed by Fox (1.6 average), Univision (1.3), ABC (0.9) and CBS (0.9). NBC also had a big lead in total viewers with 10.9 million, followed by CBS (6.8 million), Fox (4.4 million), ABC (4.0 million) and Univision (3.4 million).

With a 1.6 average in adults 18-49, Fox’s “Dance” was off three-tenths from a week ago.

ABC’s two-hour “Extreme Weight Loss” managed only a 1.0, losing two-tenths from last week.

CBS’s only fresh program was “Brooklyn DA,” which fell two-tenths from last week’s premiere episode to a 0.8.

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Syndie Talk Show Wins Its Fifth Consecutive Sweeps Period; Court Show Tops All Syndicated Programs

One talk show continues to dominate the post-Oprah Winfrey era in daytime talk, winning its fifth consecutive sweeps period among talk shows. Wrapping up May sweeps with a 3.0 average rating (3.969 million viewers) was “Dr. Phil,” based on Nielsen’s national syndication ratings.

Meanwhile, a court show, “Judge Judy,” was the top syndicated show overall in the sweeps period, averaging a 6.7 rating. The off-network comedy series “The Big Bang Theory” was second (6.4 average), followed by the access game show “Wheel of Fortune” (6.3).

“The Ellen DeGeneres Show” (2.5, 3.289 million viewers) finished in a tie with “Live with Kelly and Michael” (2.5, 3.243 million viewers) for second place among talk shows.

“Dr. Oz” came in fourth with a 2.2 average rating and 2.843 million viewers, followed by “Maury” (2.0, 2.781 million viewers).

“Dr. Phil” was also the No. 1 talk show among women 25-54, rising 12% from a year ago to average a 1.9 in the demo.

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Pamela Anderson Ad Banned in the U.K. for Being 'Degrading to Women' -- Here's the Video

An advertisement starring "Baywatch" actress Pamela Anderson has been banned in the U.K. for allegedly being sexist and degrading to women, reports The Guardian.

The advertisement for the Web-hosting service CrazyDomains features Anderson addressing a boardroom full of men and showing cleavage, while one of the men daydreams about her and her assistant dancing in bikinis while covered in cream, the story says.

The Advertising Standards Authority, a watchdog agency, received four complaints that the ad was sexist. Meanwhile, the ad had been cleared by Clearcast, a group that pre-approves most British advertising, because it said Anderson is a "celebrity who was known for flaunting her body."

But the ASA banned the ad, noting it "considered the ad was likely to cause serious offense to some viewers on the basis that it was sexist and degrading to women." It pointed out that the fantasy scene gave the impression the man "viewed his female colleagues as sexual objects to be lusted after."

Here’s the ad:

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Report: 'American Idol' Producers Lythgoe and Warwick Are Out

Longtime friends and "American Idol" executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick are leaving the show, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Idol Worship.

Formal exit discussions haven't yet started, the story notes. The Fox singing competition has suffered a ratings decline, with its season 12 finale down more than 40% when compared with the show's 2011 finale.

This past weekend, a meeting was called to go over issues facing the program, the piece notes. The struggles have led to the departure of most of the judging panel, including Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj.

Judge Keith Urban's future on the show hasn't yet been determined, the piece adds.

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Rock 'n' Roll Legend Teams With Scorsese on HBO Project

One of the legends of rock ‘n’ roll is teaming with director Martin Scorsese on a new project for HBO. TheWrap.com reports that the project comes from Scorsese and Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger.

"Boardwalk Empire" actor Bobby Cannavale is in talks for a role in the untitled project, the piece notes. The project is about a record executive in New York City during the 1970s, when punk, disco and hip-hop were all part of the music scene.

The project, which is in development at HBO, is executive produced by Scorsese, Jagger and Terence Winter. Scorsese is set to direct the pilot, which is written by Winter. Also executive producing are Victoria Pearman and Rick Yorn.

On "Boardwalk Empire," Cannavale played Giuseppe "Gyp" Rosetti.

mick-jagger.jpgMick Jagger

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1980s Pop Star Launching Show

A singer who was a fixture on the charts in the 1980s as part of an iconic pop duo will be at the center of a new reality show. TheWrap.com reports that Daryl Hall will debut a home restoration series called "Daryl's Restoration Over-Hall" next year on Scripps' DIY Network.

Hall’s musical partnership with John Oates in Hall & Oates produced a string of hits including "Maneater," “Rich Girl,” “Private Eyes” and “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do).”

Hall will restore a one-bedroom house in Connecticut that was built in 1780 by a sea captain, the story notes. With the help of a team of craftsmen, he will try to create a new family home that balances historic accuracy with the demands of modern homeowners.

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Daryl Hall

 

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New Ken Burns Documentary for PBS Focuses on a Sober Subject

Award-winning documentary maker Ken Burns has been tapped by PBS to create a new three-part program based on Siddhartha Mukherjee's "The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer," reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

The documentary, "Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies," will be executive produced by Burns and directed by filmmaker Barak Goodman. It's slated for a spring 2015 debut.

WETA-TV in Washington, D.C., a production partner on all of Burns' films, will partner with Stand Up to Cancer, a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, to create an outreach program about the documentary.

"Cancer touches nearly everyone in this country, and public media can play a vital role in educating Americans about the disease," said WETA President and Chief Executive Sharon Percy Rockefeller. "We will illuminate cancer as never before, exploring in depth its history, sharing the experience of those battling it, and offering new hope by spotlighting some of the most extraordinary research being done today."

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Fox Argues in Court to Try to Stop Dish's Ad-Skipping Service; Judge Says He Records Shows Himself

Arguing that Dish’s AutoHop ad-skipping service threatens the television business model, Fox Broadcasting Co. asked a federal appeals court to halt the service. Bloomberg’s Businessweek reports that the network went to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to try to overturn a decision by a district judge that enabled the service to move forward.

“Dish’s PrimeTime Anytime allows subscribers to automatically record the entire prime-time lineup of all four major broadcast networks every night,” the story reports. “It’s similar to a video-on-demand service, which Dish can only provide under its contract if it doesn’t allow viewers to fast-forward through commercials, Paul Smith, a lawyer for Fox, argued [Tuesday] to a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals at a hearing in Pasadena, California.”

The report continues: “Instead of disabling fast-forwarding through the ads, the AutoHop service allows subscribers to skip them entirely when they watch the recorded shows, Smith said. Fox alleges that the Dish services breach their license agreement and undermine Fox’s business selling shows online through Apple Inc.’s iTunes and Amazon.com Inc.”

Smith told the court: “This is an unlicensed service that competes with a licensed service that we get paid for.”

The report adds: “Fox alleges the AutoHop service threatens the ad-supported television model because it diminishes the value of commercials, which are the main source of financing for primetime programming. The ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox affiliate associations, as well as the National Association of Broadcasters, filed arguments in support of Fox’s appeal.”

Fox’s argument was rejected in 2012 by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee, who “ruled that the Dish service was more akin to digital-video recording than to a video-on-demand service because the subscriber decides to enable PrimeTime Anytime,” the story reports.

The piece adds: “Circuit Judge Raymond Fisher, who said he records ‘Masterpiece Theater’ and Jon Stewart’s ‘The Daily Show,’ asked Smith to explain how this practice of creating a library of television shows to watch at some later time is any different from what Fox accuses Dish of doing.”

The judge told the attorney: “I do exactly what you’re complaining about.”

“Smith said it’s a fundamentally different process when a viewer decides what to record as opposed to a service that automatically records blocks of programs every night,” the report adds.

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'Argo' Actor, 'The Killing' Actress to Star in Comic Book TV Adaptation

An actor who appeared in the Oscar-winning 2012 film “Argo” and an actress known for her Emmy-nominated role in the AMC series “The Killing” will star in a new comic book adaptation for television.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Hallmark Channel tapped "Argo’s" Victor Garber and "The Killing’s" Michelle Forbes to star in the original movie "The Hunters." The movie is based on the comic book by Joshua Williamson, and is part of a new series of family movies scheduled for the network's Friday nights.

The film, which will air Oct. 25, is about the Flynn brothers, who try to find their parents, portrayed by Forbes and Dan Payne. Their parents are hunters who protect powerful artifacts.

Garber will play a family friend who has his own designs on one of the magical items, the piece adds.

michelle-forbes.jpgMichelle Forbes

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Injured Weather Channel Producer Talks About Tornado Encounter

Weather Channel producer and cameraman Austin Anderson, who underwent surgery Tuesday for injuries he sustained when an Oklahoma tornado threw his truck 200 yards, described the incident from his hospital bed to the Austin American-Statesman.

"We were on the north and east side of this particular thunderstorm,” Anderson said, describing it as “the dangerous side.”

He was driving the Weather Channel's "Tornado Hunt 2013" GMC Yukon, with network meteorologist Mike Bettes and cameraman Brad Reynolds also in the vehicle, when “for some strange, unknown meteorological reason, it turned abruptly to the left and headed right for us,” he said.

“The windows blew out as the car began to lift into the air from the tornado and it started tumbling broadside,” Austin said. “We were all strapped in.

“We must have rolled 10-15 times. We hit the ground and rolled some more and landed on the wheels with the top of the driver’s side completely pancaked down to the steering wheel where I was sitting.

“Bettes kept yelling, ‘Stay down. Stay down. It’s not over.’”

After a minute, Bettes and Reynolds got out and helped free Anderson. Their equipment was strewn across a 150-yard area, the story adds.

While Reynolds and Bettes were treated and released, Anderson was diagnosed with a cracked sternum and broken ribs and vertebrae. Surgeons were scheduled to install four rods and eight screws Tuesday to help support a crushed vertebra, he told the newspaper.

He will be in a back brace for three months. "I’m going to miss all of hurricane season,” he said.

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'Game of Thrones' Star Joins USA's 'Suits'

One of the stars of HBO's "Game of Thrones' is joining USA Network's legal dramedy "Suits.” EW.com's Inside TV reports that Michelle Fairley, who starred as Catelyn Stark on "Thrones,' will play a recurring role during the third season of "Suits."

For those who haven't read about or watched the most recent episode of "Thrones," don't read on if you don't want to know what happened on the show (spoiler alert). In vague terms, Fairley was free to find another role after a plot twist in Sunday's episode, called "The Rains of Castamere."

As previously reported, some media outlets have created compilations of fans' reactions to the shocking episode.

On "Suits," Fairley will play British entrepreneur Ava Hessington, who is faced with a lawsuit that could risk her family's business. She will make her debut July 16.

Another "Game of Thrones" actor will appear on the show next season as well. Conleth Hill, who plays Varys, will reprise a guest-starring role.

michelle-fairley.jpgMichelle Fairley

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'Anchorman' Exhibit, Linked to Will Ferrell Movie, Examines Personality-Driven News Formats

The Newseum in Washington, D.C., is opening an exhibit tied to the opening of the Will Ferrell film "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues."

TheWrap.com reports that the project by the journalism-focused museum looks at the rise of personality-driven news formats in the 1970s. The Newseum says the exhibit, timed to coincide with the release of the movie, “explores the reality behind the humor of ‘Anchorman.’”

The exhibit, which will open in November and will remain on display until August 2014, will feature costumes and original props from the movie, as well as a replica KVWN-TV anchor desk.

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'Legend of the Seeker' Star to Play Love Interest on USA's 'White Collar'

One of the stars of "Legend of the Seeker" is joining USA's "White Collar.” Deadline.com reports that “Seeker” alumna Bridget Regan has been cast in a 10-episode arc on the USA procedural.

Regan will play Rebecca Lowe, a book scholar who becomes a love interest for Neal Caffrey, played by Matt Bomer. She becomes his latest con, and then gets romantically involved with the character.

In "Legend of the Seeker," Regan played heroine Kahlan Amnell.

bridget-regan.jpgBridget Regan

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'Modern Family' Producer Signs With 20th Television

20th Century Fox Television has signed "Modern Family" producer Elaine Ko to a two-year overall deal, reports Deadline.com.

Ko will return to the show for a fourth year, after working on the ABC comedy first as a staff writer, then a producer, and now as a supervising producer, the story notes.

Ko won an episodic comedy WGA award earlier this year for writing the show's "Virgin Territory" episode.

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MTV Scripted Series Bows to Strong Viewer Numbers

A scripted series on MTV opened its third season Monday with series-best viewer numbers. Deadline.com reports that “Teen Wolf” drew 2.4 million viewers for its 10 p.m. airing, a 15% bump from the program's second-season premiere a year ago.

Monday’s turnout is also 10% higher than the show’s previous all-time high, its first-season debut in 2011, the piece notes.

The third-season premiere also drew a 2.3 rating among the 12-34 demographic, also an all-time high.

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Wendy WIlliams Gets Renewal on Fox Stations

"Debmar-Mercury has renewed the nationally syndicated 'The Wendy Williams Show' through the 2016-17 television season on Fox Television Stations," syndicator Debmar-Mercury has announced.

The announcement continues, "The renewal covering the top TV markets cements the fast-rising talk show’s return for its sixth, seventh and eighth seasons, announced Debmar-Mercury Co-Presidents Ira Bernstein and Mort Marcus."

Frank Cicha, the senior VP of programming for the Fox Television Stations said in the statement, " 'The Wendy Williams Show' has as much momentum as any show on our air right now, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Over the last few years, it’s evolved into the ideal lead-out to our morning news blocks. Like our news, the show delivers a day/date immediacy that serves as a blueprint for where we want to be the rest of the day.”

The announcement says that "Wendy WIlliams" was "the only talk show in all of syndication to post year-to-year growth, leaping 43% to reach a 1.2/8 in the demo of women 25 to 54."

 Bernstein and Marcus added in a statement, "Fox’s long-term renewal is a testament to the incredible growth the show has experienced this season and the amazing talent of Wendy. Our broadcast partners across the country have taken notice, demonstrating their faith in the staying power of this rapidly growing talk franchise with upgrades. We are particularly gratified that many of those are among the news leaders in their markets and see Wendy as the ideal lead out for their morning newscasts.”


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WGN America Orders Its First Original Scripted Series

WGN America has ordered iits first original scripted series as it "begins to aggressively expand its programming slate," the nationally distributed flagship network of the Tribune Broadcasting Co. announced.

According to the announcement, "WGN America has ordered the drama series 'Salem' from award-winning producers Brannon Braga ('24,' 'Star Trek: The Next Generation') and Adam Simon ('The Haunting in Connecticut'), it was announced today by Matt Cherniss, President/GM, WGN America. The series hails from Fox 21 ('Homeland,' 'Sons of Anarchy'), the prolific cable production division of Twentieth Century Fox Television.

The announcement continues: "Set in the volatile world of 17th century Massachusetts, 'Salem' explores what really fueled the town's infamous witch trials and dares to uncover the dark, supernatural truth hiding behind the veil of this infamous period in American history. In 'Salem,' witches are real, but they are not who or what they seem. The show, which centers on an epic romance wrapped around this explosive revelation, delivers a bold new vision of Salem -- and an even bolder new vision of witches.

"WGN America has ordered 13 episodes entering production this fall for a 2014 premiere."

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John Landgraf Named CEO of FX Networks and FX Productions

John Landgraf, president and general manager of FX Networks and FX Productions, has been promoted to CEO, Nellie Andreeva reports on Deadline.com.

“I hear as part of the promotion, Landgraf has signed a new multiyear contract to remain at the helm of the two, soon to be three FX-branded networks as well as sibling FX Prods., which he launched,” Andreeva writes.

Landgraf will continue to report to Peter Rice, chairman and CEO, Fox Networks Group.

Said Rice: “John’s integrity, creativity and leadership have made FX a home for fearless writers, actors and directors. He has also formed a close-knit team of exceptional executives who are together enjoying an amazing run of creative and business success.”

The report adds: “As CEO, Landgraf will have oversight over all aspects of entertainment and business operations for FX Networks, which is comprised of FX, FXM (formerly Fox Movie Channel), the soon-to-launch comedy focused FXX, as well as FX Prods. In addition to FX Networks and FXP, Landgraf will be responsible for FX Networks’ digital video-on-demand platform, FXNOW.”

The move puts Landgraf in a key position as FX Networks maps expansion plans. “In September, Landgraf will oversee the debut of FXX and the buildup of FX and FXM, as the plan for FX, FXX and FXM is to deliver more than 25 original scripted series combined over the next several years,” Andreeva writes.

Landgraf has been with FX since 2004, joining as president of entertainment and being promoted to president and general manager of FX Networks in May 2005.

Andreeva notes: “He has led FX to all-time highs in ratings and revenue as well as critical acclaim and has transformed Fox Movie Channel into what is now the ad-supported FXM. Since Landgraf joined FX, the channel has increased the amount of its original programming five-fold. The programming rampup was supported by the the creation of FX Prods., which produces or co-produces the majority of FX’s scripted series.”

john-landgraf.jpgJohn Landgraf

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Reality Franchise Sinks to All-Time Ratings Low; Weak Premiere for New Drama Series

A long-running reality show delivered its worst number ever in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights for Monday night. Meanwhile, a drama series on the same network -- ABC -- got off to a slow start.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that ABC’s two-hour “The Bachelorette” mustered only a 1.7 average in viewers 18-49, losing two-tenths of a point from last week for an all-time series low. Leading out from it, the premiere of ABC’s drama series “Mistresses” managed only a 1.2 average.

NBC won the night, with its two-hour “The Voice” holding steady to last week to come in as the top show of the night by a wide margin, both in the 18-49 demo (3.2 average rating) and in total viewers (11.05 million). Leading out from “The Voice,” the season finale of “Revolution” ticked up one-tenth from last week’s installment to a 2.0 average.

CBS aired a night of repeat programming, finishing ahead of Fox’s mix of originals and reruns. Fox’s fresh installment of “The Goodwin Games” matched last week’s 0.6 average in adults 18-49, while the premiere of the Fox run for FX’s “Anger Management” failed to create much of a ratings bump, settling for a 0.7.

When the dust settled, the numbers for prime time overall showed NBC well ahead of the pack with a 2.8 average in the 18-49 demo, followed by ABC (1.5 average), Univision (1.4), CBS (0.9) and Fox (0.7). NBC also won total viewers handily, averaging 9.5 million to ABC’s 5.2 million, CBS’s 4.5 million, Univision’s 3.5 million and Fox’s 1.7 million.

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NBC Takes Wraps Off Prime-Time Game Show Rollout for Fall

NBC unveiled plans today for a fall 2013 rollout for a new prime-time game show. Deadline.com reports that the network will debut “The Million Second Quiz” Monday, Sept. 9, at 8 p.m.

“The contest, where time equals money, will last 1,000,000 seconds or nearly 12 days. With more than $1 million cash as the grand prize, the live competition show will air each night at in the same time slot until September 14 and then pick up again on September 16 until its two-hour September 19 finale.”

The game will feature contestants living inside a giant hourglass-shaped structure in the middle of Manhattan.

“Its walls will be made out of glass so the contestants and the game play is visible from the street,” the story reports. “The four contestants that stay in the game the longest will also live in the structure, literally playing the game 24 hours a day.”

Viewers will also be able to play at home, with a chance to win a trip to New York for an appearance on the show. NBC affiliates will also get involved, featuring participants from their local area.

The show comes from All3 Media America, Studio Lambert and Universal Television, with Stephen Lambert, Eli Holzman and David Hurwitz executive producing.

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Spoiler Alert. Do Not Watch the Video in This Item if You Don't Want to Know What Happened On HBO's Hit 'Game of Thrones' This Past Sunday, June 2, 2013. However, if You Saw This Episode of 'Thrones,' You'll Likely Wanna Watch This.

A lot happened in this past Sunday's (June 2, 2013) episode of "Game of Thrones" on HBO. We won't say what. So -- spolier alert -- if you don't want to know what happened, don't watch the video below. The video, from The Wall Street Journal, is a compilation of fans' YouTube reactions to what happened on Sunday's episode.

The episode, officially called "The Rains of Castamere,” was watched on Sunday night by 5.2 million viewers. The record viewership for any "Games" episode is  5.5 million viewers, set earlier this season.

Here's the video:

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'Wire' Star Lands Lead in Showtime Drama

One of the stars of HBO's "The Wire" has been cast as the male lead in a new Showtime drama. EW.com's Inside TV reports that Dominic West will play the lead in the pilot "The Affair."

His character, Noah, is a married high school teacher with four kids who meets a woman whom he believes is his soul mate. The show looks at how an affair affects two marriages, with the story told from both the male and the female perspective.

dominic-west.jpgDominic West

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Veteran NBC Newsman Dies

A longtime NBC News correspondent who covered major events including the civil war in El Salvador and the civil rights movement in the U.S. has died. The New York Times reports that Don Oliver died Tuesday, May 28, 2013, at 76.

Oliver died of complications from Lewy body dementia, the story reports.

Oliver worked for NBC from the mid-1960s until 1992, and as a national correspondent covered events such as the assassination and funeral of the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. In the 1980s, he focused on environmental stories, including the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

After retiring from NBC, Oliver taught journalism at the University of Montana and consulted to the media industry.

don-oliver.jpg

Don Oliver

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'Glee' Actress Comes Out as Gay

An actress known for her role on the Fox musical series “Glee” has come out as gay. A story in The Hollywood Reporter says Charice Pempengco, who played foreign exchange student Sunshine Corazon during season two of “Glee,” made the revelation in a Sunday night interview on a Filipino talk show.

She gave the interview in her native language, Tagalog. "I don't know what the problem is because for me, there is no problem with that," she said. "So now I ask for forgiveness from those who don't understand. And those who cannot accept. I apologize: I understand you."

The 21-year-old singer and actress first gained fame through YouTube videos and has performed as a guest on shows including "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."

Pempengco, who goes professionally by her first name, reportedly became the first Asian solo singer to land in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 albums chart when her 2010 album “Charice” entered at No. 8.

charice-pempengco.jpg

Charice Pempengco

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'Modern Family' Hires Creator of Canceled NBC Series

ABC's "Modern Family" has hired the creator of a high-profile but canceled NBC comedy series. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the ABC series is bringing aboard Emily Spivey, the creator of "Up All Night."

Spivey will be part of the writing team during the show's fifth season, with her hiring announced by executive producer and writer Danny Zuker on Twitter.

Spivey was one of several people to depart the NBC comedy earlier this year when the network sought to turn the show into a multicamera project.

The former "Saturday Night Live" staff writer has a two-year overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television, which produces "Modern Family." Her deal includes working on new projects at the studio while also contributing to current shows.

 

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Plans Set for Rollout of Newest Kardashian Show

Plans have been announced for the rollout of the newest show from the Kardashian clan. B&C reports that the talk show "Kris" will debut July 15 in five Fox-owned markets.

Stations that will air the show include WNYW-TV in New York, where the show will take the 11 a.m. time slot, and KTTV-TV in Los Angeles, where it will air at 3 p.m., the story notes. The other three markets are Minneapolis, Phoenix and Dallas.

"Kris" is hosted by Kardashian matriarch Kris Jenner. The show will touch on topics such as fashion and beauty trends, and will also include celebrity guests. The set resembles Jenner's own home, the piece notes.

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Beloved Casting Director Dies

A veteran casting director who worked on shows including "Lou Grant" and "Designing Women" has died. TheWrap.com reports the death of Fran Bascom. Her age was not reported.

According to her sister, Lisa Green, Bascom had been feeling under the weather for the past two weeks. She was transported to a hospital in Burbank on Sunday. Her cause of death hadn't yet been determined.

The well-liked Bascom also worked as a casting director on "Days of Our Lives," "The Last Resort" and "Women of the House." Her most recent credit is the 2012 Hank Williams biopic "The Last Ride," which starred "The Big Bang Theory" actress Kaley Cuoco.

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Will Geraldo Run for Senate Following Lautenberg's Death? Here's What Geraldo Says

Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera said the death of Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey "effectively ends" his idea of running for the GOP nomination in a possible Senate race, reports TVNewser.

With Lautenberg's death, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will pick Lautenberg's replacement. There isn't likely to be a primary fight unless he picks Rivera, the story says.

"I think this effectively ends my speculation that I would run for the Senate,” Rivera said on his radio program. “I think it’s a very, very long shot that Governor Christie would even think of appointing me."

He added, “I haven’t been vetted. I’ve only toyed with the idea of running. However, if I ran, I have a very specific platform and I think listeners of this program are aware that you can be a Republican and not be a tea party conservative.”

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'Dora,' 'Blue's Clues' and Other Kids' Favorites, Along With MTV and Comedy Central Programs, Head to Amazon in Multiyear Licensing Deal With Viacom

Amazon’s Prime Instant Video will offer thousands of episodes of TV programming from Viacom’s cable channels Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., MTV and Comedy Central as part of an exclusive licensing deal between the two companies.

The agreement, announced today, June 4, 2013, will include children’s favorites “Dora the Explorer,” “Go, Diego, Go!,” “Blue’s Clues” and “The Backyardigans.”

Through Amazon’s Prime Instant Video service, programming will be available on Kindle Fire, iPad, iPhone, Roku and other platforms, with the kid-focused Kindle Fire service FreeTime Unlimited playing a key role in distribution plans.

Bill Carr, VP of Digital Video and Music for Amazon, said in a statement: “Kids shows are one of the most watched TV genres on Prime Instant Video. And this expanded deal will now bring customers the largest subscription selection of Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. TV shows online, anywhere. With programs like ‘Dora the Explorer,’ ‘SpongeBob SquarePants,’ ‘Bubble Guppies’ and ‘The Backyardigans’ there are hundreds of great shows for kids and parents to choose from. In addition, we are bringing customers popular shows from MTV and Comedy Central like ‘Key & Peele,’ ‘Workaholics,’ ‘Awkward’ and ‘Teen Mom 2,’ with the promise of more shows from these networks in the future.”

Click here for additional details in the press release from Amazon and Viacom announcing the pact.

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CW Unveils Trailers for New Series 'The 100,' 'The Originals,' 'Reign' and 'Tomorrow People'

The CW has rolled out new trailers for four upcoming fall and midseason series. Here are the trailers for “The 100,” “The Originals,” “Reign” and “Tomorrow People”:

“The 100”:


“The Originals”:


“Reign”:


“Tomorrow People”:

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HBO's 'Girls' Casts 'Boardwalk Empire' Actor

HBO's comedy "Girls" has brought aboard an actor from the pay-cable channel’s drama series "Boardwalk Empire." Deadline.com reports the casting of Michael Zegen, who recurs on "Boardwalk" as the mobster Bugsy Siegel.

The network is keeping mum on his character and the number of episodes in which he will appear, the story notes. Zegen will also return to "Boardwalk Empire" in the fall.

He previously appeared in "Francis Ha" and had recurring roles in "The Walking Dead," "Rescue Me" and HBO's "How to Make It in America."

michael-zegen.jpgMichael Zegen

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Discovery Plans Tribute to 'Stormchasers' Stars Who Perished in Tornado

Discovery will air a tribute to the "Stormchasers" stars who were killed during the recent Oklahoma tornados, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

"Mile Wide Tornado: Stormchasers Tribute," an "enhanced episode" of "Mile Wide Tornado: Oklahoma Disaster," will air Wednesday at 10 p.m., including special scenes of Tim Samaras, Carl Young and Paul Samaras, the story notes. The three were killed Friday while chasing a tornado in El Reno, Okla.

The men were traveling in a Chevrolet Cobalt, with the car appearing to have been tossed about half a mile by the tornado, according to a law enforcement official.

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Weather Channel Producer Remains Hospitalized After Tornado Incident, Will Undergo Surgery

A Weather Channel producer and camera operator is still in the hospital and will undergo surgery this week. TVNewser reports that Austin Anderson will be treated for injuries he received when his "Tornado Hunt" truck was thrown 200 yards by a twister.

"Austin was driving the Tornado Hunt vehicle when the tornado struck. He suffered several broken bones and is in the hospital. Although Austin will have to undergo surgery in the next few days, we are very relieved to report that doctors say he is expected to make a full recovery," the network said in a statement.

As previously reported, the Weather Channel's meteorologist Mike Bettes and his crew, including Anderson, walked away from the wreck. It marked the first time a personality for the channel had been injured during violent weather.

Anderson's injuries became apparent once they were admitted to the hospital, TVNewser notes.

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'House' Writer Tapped for CW Series

"House" writer Doris Egan has signed a two-year overall deal with CBS TV Studios, and as part of the deal will join The CW drama "Reign," reports Deadline.com.

On "Reign," she will serve as co-executive producer on the project about the teenage years of Mary Queen of Scots. The show will air in the timeslot immediately after "The Vampire Diaries" on the network's fall schedule.

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Prices to Visit Disneyland Increase Again. The Biggest Hit for Local Southern California Visitors to the Park, However, Quietly Happened 4 Months Ago

"Like magjc, the price to enter Disneyland just went up," reads a headline in the Los Angeles Times.

The story continues, "It just got more expensive to visit the Happiest Place on Earth. Again. Walt Disney Co. raised entry prices to its theme parks in California and Florida, effective Sunday.

"A single-day ticket to either Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim for visitors 10 or older now costs $92, up from $87 -- a jump of nearly 6%.The cost of the day pass has risen 28% since early 2010, when it was $72. Prices were previously raised in August 2010, June 2011 and May 2012."

For local Southern Californians, it means more bad news for their pocketbooks as far as Disneyland is concerned.

In February, the Orange County Register reported that Disneyland and its next-door sister park in Anaheim, California Adventure, had canceled its special pricing deals for folks living in Southern California that had been going on for the last decade: "Disney sold 2-for-1 tickets or similar deals to local residents from 2003 through last year as a way to bring in visitors during the slower season, usually January through May. But higher attendance, bolstered by last year's Cars Land improvements, prompted this year's cancellation." 

The article in the Los Angeles Times about the latest price increases says: "The price of a ticket for a child age 3 to 9 increased to $86 from $81. And the price of parking at the Anaheim property is now $16, an uptick of $1.

"The prices of annual tickets went up too. The Deluxe Annual Passport, which allows admission to both Anaheim parks 315 days of the year, now costs $499 -- up from $469. The Premium Annual Passport, which has no blackout dates, now costs $669, an increase of $20."

However, the story also notes, "Disney is offering discounts of up to $40 to annual passholders who renew before their tickets expire. In some cases, the discounts offset the price hikes."

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MSNBC Has Big Ratings Drop as the Channel's President Admits Viewers Don't Turn to MSNBC for Breaking News. Is MSNBC Actually a News Channel Anymore, or Just a Political Talk Channel?

In May, "at a time of intensely high interest in news, MSNBC’s ratings declined from the same period a year ago by about 20 percent. The explanation, in the network’s own analysis, comes down to this: Breaking news is not really what MSNBC does," reports our friend Bill Carter in The New York Times

The story adds, " 'We’re not the place for that,' said Phil Griffin, the channel’s president, in reference to covering breaking events as CNN does. 'Our brand is not that.'

"The brand, one MSNBC has cultivated with success, is defined by its tagline, 'The Place for Politics,' and a skew toward left-wing, progressive political talk, the opposite of the conservative-based approach that has worked well for Fox News. "

The article notes, "In May, MSNBC, which generally runs second to the dominant leader, Fox News, among cable news channels, plunged all the way to fourth place, dropping behind not only its closest rival, CNN, but also that network’s sister channel, HLN (formerly Headline News)."

Carter also observes, "MSNBC’s viewers may have especially grown tired of politics because the news has been mostly negative recently toward President Obama, whom MSNBC’s hosts have championed..."

Carter adds, "A broader question is whether MSNBC is being damaged by a perception that it is not really a news channel anymore. 'MSNBC has stopped doing news so you don’t really think of them when there is a breaking news story,' said a producer who has worked in both cable and broadcast news, who asked not to be identified because of continuing relationships with one of the networks.

"Unlike CNN and Fox, MSNBC does not have a full roster of its own correspondents, still relying largely on reporters from NBC News like Chuck Todd and Pete Williams. It does not even have a White House correspondent."

Carter also notes that MSNBC "has experienced steady growth in ratings over the last several years, however, and profits have followed. For example, a Pew Research study put the network’s annual profit at $186.6 million for 2011, up from $168.8 million the prior year. The research firm SNL Kagan estimated MSNBC’s 2012 profit at $202 million."

The article adds, "Mr. Griffin acknowledged that CNN, which has experienced ratings gains near 100 percent in the last two months, shines in periods of intense news interest. But, he said, this will pass. 'You do have to look at the long term,' Mr. Griffin said in May. 'In the first quarter of this year, Fox News had its lowest quarter in a decade. A year ago CNN had its worst month ever. I tip my hat to what CNN has done this month, but let’s not be so myopic as to think the whole world has changed.' " 

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A&E Networks Shuffles Top Executive Lineup

A&E Networks has made a number of management changes, as newly installed Chief Executive Nancy Dubuc sets up her team of top execs.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that three executive VP/general managers have been named: Dirk Hoogstra, at History/H2; David McKillop, at A&E; and Rob Sharenow, at Lifetime.

“In her bid to ramp up internally, Dubuc has moved former A&E honcho Bob DeBitetto to president of brand strategy and business development at newly launched in-house A+E Studios,” the report notes.

Additionally, Jana Bennett is joining the company as president of Bio and LMN.

In a statement today announcing the moves, Dubuc said: “At A+E Networks, we have created an amazing culture that is focused on creativity and innovation, and this has driven unprecedented success. We have the top brands that appeal to men, women and adults and we have strong brands in our emerging networks. With the ramp-up and realignment of our programming groups, A+E Networks is well positioned to reach even greater heights.”

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Critics' Choice TV Awards Name Most Exciting New Shows

The third annual Critics’ Choice Television Awards list of the Most Exciting New Series is out, and Showtime has the honor of being the only network to place two shows on the list, Deadline.com reports.

Showtime’s upcoming dramas “Ray Donovan” and “Masters of Sex” both made the list. The CBS summer series “Under the Dome,” which was developed at Showtime but moved to corporate sibling CBS, also made the list.

“FX’s ‘The Bridge’ also was honored, as well as two fall broadcast series, ABC’s drama ‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ and NBC comedy ‘The Michael J. Fox Show,’” the story reports. “Additionally, Bob Newhart was announced as the recipient of the 2013 Critics’ Choice Television Icon Award at the ceremony, slated for June 10, 2013, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.”

The piece adds: “Celebrity presenters include Malin Akerman, Angela Bassett, Miranda Cosgrove, Hugh Dancy, Cat Deeley, Josh Gad, Johnny Galecki, Seth Green, Allison Janney, Tatiana Maslany, Maria Menounos, Elisabeth Moss, Kunal Nayyar, Jack Osbourne, Adam Pally, Sarah Paulson, Aubrey Plaza, Kevin Rahm, John Ratzenberger, Emmy Rossum, Jimmy Smits, Eric Stonestreet and Sam Trammell.”

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Slow Sunday for Broadcast Nets: One Network's All-Repeat Lineup Wins the Night

Things went from slow to slower for the broadcast networks Sunday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that Fox won the night with a 1.3 average rating for prime time, airing an all-repeat programming lineup.

Two reruns of Fox’s “Family Guy” were the top-rated shows of the night, averaging a 1.7 and a 1.8 in viewers 18-49. CBS’s “60 Minutes” was the highest-rated fresh program, delivering a 1.0.

NBC’s two-hour “Women’s Concert for Change: Live From London” settled for a 0.8 average in 18-49. Everything else aired on the broadcast nets was repeat programming.

For prime time overall, Fox’s 1.3 average led the way in the 18-49 demo, followed by CBS (0.8 average), Univision (0.8), NBC (0.7) and ABC (0.6). CBS won total viewers with 5.3 million, followed by Fox (2.9 million), ABC (2.9 million), NBC (2.7 million) and Univision (2.1 million).

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Cheerios Marketer Stands Behind Ad After It Sparks Hate Talk

The marketers of Cheerios cereal appear to be standing behind a commercial that has become the focus of hate talk.

USA Today reports that the new ad featuring a mixed-race family had its comments section disabled on YouTube after sparking an online outcry. The clip has been viewed more than 1.7 million times in its few days on YouTube.

“Social media blow-back has been fierce, nasty and unusually racist after the top-selling General Mills cereal brand last week began airing -- and then posted online -- a commercial featuring a sweet, mixed-race girl,” USA Today reports. “In the ad, she is seeking nutritional advice from her white mother and black father. The spot ends with her pouring a bunch of Cheerios on the chest of her sleeping father -- believing it will make his heart healthier.”

In an emailed comment, Camille Gibson, vice president of marketing for Cheerios, said: "We are a family brand and not all of the comments were family-friendly."

The report adds: “General Mills is standing by the spot and has no plans to stop airing it or to take it down from its YouTube channel. ‘There are many kinds of families, and Cheerios celebrates them all,’ says Gibson. Despite some serious, negative response online, ‘it's been a very positive response overall,’ she says.”

A number of marketing experts are praising the spot, the piece notes. Barbara Lippert, media and pop culture columnist for MediaPost.com, said of the situation: "A progressive-looking commercial collides with the ugliness of the Internet." She added: "They can't bow to this incredible ugliness and underbelly of hatred. If the father had not been black, it would have been just another spot."

Ken Smikle, president of Target Market News, which tracks African-American marketing, says the commercial is getting attention because Cheerios is such a mainstream brand. “We think of Cheerios as a great American icon," he said. "There are going to be people who feel that their image of what's American is now being challenged by these iconic brands."

Here’s the commercial:

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Fox Names New VP of Current Programming

Fox has named a new vice president of current programming. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the network tapped Lauren Levy Neustadter for the position.

Neustadter, who will oversee comedy and drama series for the network, will report to James Oh, senior VP of current programming. She was previously VP of production at 20th Century Fox.

Said Oh: “Lauren is an outstanding executive with razor-sharp instincts who possesses a deep understanding of the creative process and talent needs. She brings a fresh energy and level of experience to our team that will be a tremendous asset as we continue to grow our slate of new and returning scripted series.”

Neustadter has been at 20th Century Fox since 2010.

lauren-neustadter.jpgLauren Levy Neustadter

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Oxygen Goes All In on Tattoos

Oxygen is betting heavily on tattoo-oriented reality programming. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the cable channel renewed “Best Ink,” with plans to expand its presence in the niche genre with two additional tattoo series.

“Best Ink” wraps up season two this Wednesday, and will be back for a third. The show, hosted by Pete Wents, helped Oxygen set ratings records in May, including its most-watched night ever, May 21.

The new projects have the working titles “Tattoos After Dark” and “Break Up Tattoos.”

“’Tattoos After Dark’ comes from ‘Jersey Shore’ EP SallyAnn Salsano and her 495 Productions shingle,” the story reports. “It showcases the antics that take place in late-night tattoo parlors in party towns. ‘Break Up Tattoos,’ from Original Media and ‘LA Ink’ EP Charles Corwin, reunites former couples for the opportunity to re-do a tattoo that once represented their relationships.”

Rod Aissa, senior VP of original programming and development for Oxygen Media, said: "’Best Ink’ has been a proven hit and our viewers have connected with the tattoo artists' and their skins' (clients) emotional stories. Season three will deliver bigger challenges, higher emotional stakes and contestants that will stop at nothing to prove they have the Best Ink. We want to continue to super-serve the audience by expanding our slate, delving further into the world of tattooing and the extreme and unexpected environments of the culture."

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USA Network's Revival of Canceled ABC Comedy Hits a Snag; Will the Show Wind Up Back on Broadcast?

An effort to bring a canceled ABC comedy to USA Network appears to have run aground. Writing in New York Magazine, Josef Adalian reports that the plan to resurrect "Happy Endings" is headed for an unhappy ending.

After negotiations and general agreements on financials, it doesn't appear as though the comedy will migrate to the cable network, the story says. A USA Network representative declined to comment, while representatives from Sony and ABC Studios couldn't be reached.

"All of this does not mean 'Happy' is dead-dead,” Adalian writes. “For one thing, negotiations can take radical and sudden turns, and USA's refusal to comment might indicate there's still a chance the situation will change and a deal will get done. What's more, we're already hearing other networks are mulling the idea of acquiring the show, including NBC and TBS. Stay tuned.”

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What Are the Best-Written TV Series of All Time? And Which Shows Got Snubbed?

The Writers Guild of America and its sponsor TV Guide revealed their list of the 101 Best Written TV Shows of All Time, and it appears to be one based on "some very short memories," reports Pete Hammond at Deadline.com.

The list, voted on in May 2012, doesn't have any embarrassments, but "there are a number of ridiculously shocking omissions" since only one show from the Golden Era of TV-- the 1950s and 1960s -- was included in the top 10, the piece notes.

That show is Rod Serling's "The Twilight Zone." The rest of the top 10 was represented by shows from the 1970s and later. Out of the entire list, only 12 are shows in black and white, while just seven shows are from the 1950s. Classics such as "The Untouchables" and "The Naked City" didn't make the list.

Another perplexing move was the inclusion of "Late Night with David Letterman" when the list left off the most influential late-night show of all, "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson," the story adds.

Here are the top 10:

1. "The Sopranos," HBO

2. "Seinfeld," NBC

3. "The Twilight Zone," CBS

4. "All in the Family," CBS

5. "M.A.S.H.," CBS

6. "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," CBS

7. "Mad Men," AMC

8. "Cheers," NBC

9. "The Wire," HBO

10. "The West Wing," NBC

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Fox News Anchor Has Harsh Words for Her Colleagues

Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly blasted some of her colleagues, calling them out over critical remarks they made about women in the workplace and gender equality, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Her comments were directed at Lou Dobbs and Erick Erickson.

During an all-male panel Wednesday on Fox Business Network's "Lou Dobbs Tonight," Dobbs and Erickson spoke about a recent Pew study that found women in households with children are the primary breadwinners in 40% of the homes.

Dobbs said, "We’re watching society dissolve around us."

Erickson added, "When you look at biology, look at the natural world, the roles of a male and a female in society and in other animals, the male typically is the dominant one.”

Kelly confronted the men on her show, saying, "What makes you dominant and me submissive, and who died and made you scientist in chief?”

She also gave her guests some historical perspective, noting: "In the '50s and '60s, there were huge, huge numbers of people who believed that the children of interracial marriages were inferior, were biologically inferior, and that is why it was illegal for some black and whites to marry in this country.”

Here's the clip:

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Is Nikki Finke Leaving Deadline.com?

After a number of reports were written in the last 12 hours speculating whether Nikki Finke will be leaving Deadline.com, the Hollywood news site she founded, Finke herself has finally responded.

In an article she's written at Deadline.com this morning, June 3, 2013, Finke begins, "Right now I am not going to discuss my Deadline Hollywood contract or my relationship with my boss Jay Penske. Why? Because I don’t have to. If that changes, I’ll tell you."

Finke adds: "The fact is I’m out of town and about to begin my long-planned summer vacation. And the last thing I want is to be bothered now by a bunch of media and/or moguls asking for comment."

So Finke herself isn't saying right now whether she's staying with Deadline or not.

A Los Angeles Times story by Company Town reporters Joe Flint and Dawn Chmielewski written Sunday night explains what led up to Finke writing about this issue at all: "Speculation about Finke's future at Deadline Hollywood heated up after rival online publication The Wrap reported that Finke was dismissed from her position after clashing with Jay Penske, the chief executive of Penske Media Corp., or PMC, which owns Deadline Hollywood.

"However, soon after The Wrap posted its story, PMC put a statement on Deadline Hollywood calling the piece 'libelous, false, and defamatory' and saying it didn't have an 'ounce of truth to it.'"

The Flint and Chmielewski piece asked, "So does that mean the often combative Finke is staying put?

"Not necessarily. Although the statement from PMC said the company had not fired Finke, it also said she 'has a multi-year contract with the company, and it is the company’s absolute intention to continue its obligations under the agreement.' According to people close to Finke, her PMC contract has a window, opening this month, that allows her to leave Deadline. It is no secret around Hollywood that Finke has been unhappy with Penske since PMC bought rival trade publication Variety. Finke was hoping to play a role in running Variety for PMC, but none has materialized."

The Company Town piece continues: "The mercurial Finke has been telling people that she is looking to leave Deadline and go back into business for herself. While she was filing her box-office report for this weekend she told some people that it would be her last such piece for Deadline."

Over at L.A. Observed, Kevin Roderick writes: "Anne Thompson, another longtime hand in the Hollywood trades, says at IndieWire that 'there are some whisps of truth in Sharon Waxman's breathless announcement that Jay Penske has fired Nikki Finke from Deadline Hollywood. ... The real issue is Finke's Deadline contract with Penske, which comes up next year. It's not so much a question of Penske firing Finke. It's a question of his renewing her. If their talks break down and she leaves, as I understand it the name Deadline goes with her. But the other Deadline employees are Penske's.' Thompson's headline: 'Where there's smoke there's fire.' "

Roderick continues: "So many angles at work here. Maybe this is just a heated contract negotiation. Maybe, as Thompson suggests, Penske realized he doesn't need the embarrassments that Finke brings along with her Rolodex. Finke has not seemed happy about the Penske takeover of Variety, and maybe it's time to cash out. One other thing to watch: For Waxman, who has exchanged personal and professional snipes with Finke for years, this is something of an all-in poker move. Either Waxman is completely right that Penske 'fired' Finke or she's arguably out of the game. I would hate to be a staffer invested in the future of The Wrap if Waxman overreached on this 'shocker,' as her headline terms the story -- accompanied by that decades-old photo of Finke with a red X drawn through it."

In her piece this morning Finke does address Waxman's report: "I am stating for the record that there is no truth to her claim that 'the most recent conflict between Penske and Finke involved an email that Finke sent to two partners at UTA in the wake of losing a scoop, according to an individual with knowledge of the exchange. The scoop in question was a story in TheWrap about the talent agency seeking an equity investor. In an email to, among others, CEO Jeremy Zimmer, Finke threatened to "f---" the agency, according to the individual. The email was sent to Penske.'

"That email doesn’t exist. I repeat, it doesn’t exist. True, I’ve occasionally lost my temper and sent nasty emails to Hollywood. And not once has Jay Penske ever complained to me about them. (He knows I’m a bitch. That’s why he bought me.) But I never sent the email described above."

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Media Abuzz Over Michael Douglas Comment Linking Oral Sex and Cancer

Actor Michael Douglas stirred up a bit of a media frenzy with a comment that throat cancer, something he battled in recent years, can by caused by oral sex with a woman who has a sexually transmitted disease, USA Today reports.

Douglas made the comment in an interview with the U.K. newspaper The Guardian. The actor reportedly indicated that his cancer might be related to his contracting the human papillomavirus (HPV).

“But now, Douglas' longtime rep, Allen Burry, tells USA Today’s Lorena Blas that although the headline on the Guardian story is ‘Michael Douglas: Oral sex caused my cancer,’ that's not what the actor said,” USA Today reports.

The rep reportedly said: "Michael Douglas did not say cunnilingus was the cause of his cancer. It was discussed that oral sex is a suspected cause of certain oral cancers as doctors in the article point out but he did not say it was the specific cause of his personal cancer."

Douglas, 68, has returned to acting after being free of cancer for more than two years, the story notes. After his diagnosis in 2010, he cited smoking and drinking as causes of his cancer, which was treated with extensive chemotherapy.

USA Today reports: “Asked whether he now regretted his years of smoking and drinking, Douglas replied in the article: ‘No. Because without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV, which actually comes about from cunnilingus.’"

The report adds: “Douglas, who has been married to Catherine Zeta-Jones since 2000, continued: ‘I did worry if the stress caused by my son's incarceration didn't help trigger it. But yeah, it's a sexually transmitted disease that causes cancer.’"

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Actress Pia Zadora arrested

Actress and singer Pia Zadora, known for her work in movies including the 1982 feature “Butterfly,” was arrested Saturday on suspicion of domestic battery and coercion, the New York Daily News reports. The arrest followed a disturbance at her home in Las Vegas.

“Zadora was booked Saturday into the Clark County Detention Center and released after posting $4,000 bail,” the story reports. “She was arrested about 11 a.m., some six hours after police responded to a disturbance call at her home.

“Police declined to release the name of the victim and other details, saying further information would be released Monday.”

Zadora has been married to Michael Jeffries, a Las Vegas police detective, since 2005. “The couple met after Zadora called cops to report a stalking incident,” the report notes.

Zadora won a Golden Globe as new star of the year for “Butterfly,” but was perhaps better known for “winning” a series of Golden Raspberry Awards -- including for “Butterfly.” She also was named worst actress by the Raspberries in 1984 for “The Lonely Lady,” and won the award for worst new star of the decade in 1990.

She was nominated for a Grammy in 1985 for “Rock It Out.”

As a child Zadora appeared in the cult movie “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians."

pia-zadora-vegas-PD.jpgPia Zadora (Las Vegas Metro PD)

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Two Cast Members Dropped From 'Suburgatory' in Budget-Cutting Move

Two cast members have been dropped from ABC's "Suburgatory" because of cost-cutting measures, reports the New York Post.

They are Alan Tudyk, who portrays Noah, and Rex Lee, who plays high-school guidance counselor Mr. Wolfe.

Tudyk was a series regular for the first two seasons, playing the best friend of the protagonist George, played by Jeremy Sisto. Lee appeared often but was a guest-star on the show.

The cutbacks are said to be the result of lower licensing fees for the show, which has performed well enough to get renewed but isn't a strong performer in the ratings, the piece says. Tudyk and Lee could appear "intermittently" on the show's next season, however, the story says.

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Starz Greenlights Fantasy Series

Starz has given a series order to a show based on a best-selling fantasy book. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel ordered "Outlander," based on the book of the same title, from "Battlestar Galactica" developer Ron Moore.

The show has a 16-episode order, with production slated to start in Scotland in October. The project hired four writers a month ago to work on the series, which is about a World War II combat nurse who travels back in time to 1743 and falls in love with a young Scottish warrior.

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Dan Harmon Returns to 'Community' as Showrunner

After a week of speculation it has become official that Dan Harmon, the creator of NBC's cult favorite "Community," is returning to the series as showrunner, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

Writer and executive producer Chris McKenna, who, like Harmon, left the series last year, is also returning to the show. The deals come after Harmon had let it slip recently that he was in talks to return, after he was fired by studio Sony Pictures Television last year, as previously reported.

Harmon will replace David Guarascio and Moses Port, who were brought in to oversee the show's fourth season. The most recent season had been criticized by fans for having lost the edge it had under Harmon.

Thumbnail image for dan-harmon.jpg

Dan Harmon

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'American Idol' Tour Scaled Back

With the ratings decline for Fox's "American Idol," the traditional summer tour of the finalists has been scaled back, with 19 Entertainment cutting nine concerts, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Idol Worship.

The cities losing tour appearances include Las Vegas, Detroit and St. Louis. The tour will start July 19, instead of the originally scheduled start date of June 29.

With the cancellations, the tour has cut back one-quarter of its scheduled dates. The tour will still visit 30 cities in North America.

 

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Weather Channel's Tornado Truck Tossed 200 Yards, Causing Channel's First Injury From Violent Weather

The Weather Channel's tornado hunt trunk was tossed 200 yards by a twister with a meteorologist and two photographers inside, but meteorologist Mike Bettes and the crew walked away from the wreck, reports TVNewser.

The report comes after the star of Discovery's "Storm Chasers" died amid an outbreak of tornadoes in Oklahoma, as previously reported. Tim Samaras, 55, died with his son, Paul, 24, and his friend Carl Young, 45, as they chased a tornado.

Bettes suffered minor injuries from his close call, including stitches in his hand, the New York Post reports. A network spokesman said it was the first time a personality for the channel had been injured while covering violent weather. Bettes and his crew were trying to escape from a tornado in El Reno, Oklahoma.

"That was the scariest moment of my life,” Bettes said. “I had never been through anything like it before.”

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Who Will Be the Next 'Doctor Who'? Bookmakers Reveal the Odds

With Matt Smith announcing he's leaving the hit BBC show "Doctor Who," bookmakers are providing odds on who will replace him as the mysterious Doctor in the sci-fi series, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

William Hill, the U.K.'s biggest bookmaker, is citing "Harry Potter" actor Rupert Grint and the BBC's "Being Human" star Russell Tovey as joint favorites, with each getting odds of 10/1. Grint portrayed Ron Weasley in the film franchise, and Tovey played werewolf George in the BBC series.

As previously reported, Smith is leaving the program after four years on the show. He's only the third actor to play the Doctor since the series was revived in 2005.

Some are speculating that the next Doctor could be a woman or a non-white lead, with William Hill placing the odds of the next lead being a woman at 8/1. The BBC recently defended the show against claims of racism, as reported earlier.

Other potential replacements include actress Billie Piper, who played the Doctor's sidekick a few years ago, as well as "Sherlock" star Martin Freeman. "Merlin" star Colin Morgan was named as a potential replacement, as was Rory Kinnear of "Skyfall."

Bookmaker Ladbrokes cited Kinnear as having the best chance of becoming the new Doctor, with odds of 3/1, the story notes. It also cited "Sherlock" star Benedict Cumberbatch as a potential replacement, with odds of 6/1, and "Harry Potter" star Daniel Radcliffe as a possibility.

 

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Matt Smith to Leave 'Doctor Who.' He's Only the Third Actor to Play the 'Doctor' Since the Show's Revival in 2005

Matt Smith is leaving 'Doctor Who' "after four incredible years on the hit show," the BBC has announced in a press release.

The announcement continues, "Matt first stepped into the TARDIS in 2010 and will leave the role at the end of this year after starring in the unmissable 50th Anniversary in November and regenerating in the Christmas special. During his time as the Doctor, Matt has reached over 30 million unique UK viewers and his incarnation has seen the show go truly global. He was also the first actor to be nominated for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award in the role. 'Doctor Who' is BBC America's highest-rated series..."

The press release continues:

Matt quickly won over fans to be voted Best Actor by Readers of Doctor Who Magazine for the 2010 season. He also received a nod for his first series at the National Television Awards, before winning the Most Popular Male Drama Performance award in 2012. Matt has played one of the biggest roles in TV with over 77 million fans in the UK, US and Australia alone!

Matt Smith says: "Doctor Who has been the most brilliant experience for me as an actor and a bloke, and that largely is down to the cast, crew and fans of the show. I'm incredibly grateful to all the cast and crew who work tirelessly every day, to realize all the elements of the show and deliver Doctor Who to the audience. Many of them have become good friends and I'm incredibly proud of what we have achieved over the last four years.

Having Steven Moffat as showrunner write such varied, funny, mind-bending and brilliant scripts has been one of the greatest and most rewarding challenges of my career. It's been a privilege and a treat to work with Steven, he's a good friend and will continue to shape a brilliant world for the Doctor.

The fans of Doctor Who around the world are unlike any other; they dress up, shout louder, know more about the history of the show (and speculate more about the future of the show) in a way that I've never seen before, your dedication is truly remarkable. Thank you so very much for supporting my incarnation of the Time Lord, number Eleven, who I might add is not done yet, I'm back for the 50th anniversary and the Christmas special!

It's been an honor to play this part, to follow the legacy of brilliant actors, and helm the TARDIS for a spell with 'the ginger, the nose and the impossible one'. But when ya gotta go, ya gotta go and Trenzalore calls. Thank you guys. Matt."

Steven Moffat, lead writer and executive producer, says: "Every day, on every episode, in every set of rushes, Matt Smith surprised me: the way he'd turn a line, or spin on his heels, or make something funny, or out of nowhere make me cry, I just never knew what was coming next. The Doctor can be clown and hero, often at the same time, and Matt rose to both challenges magnificently. And even better than that, given the pressures of this extraordinary show, he is one of the nicest and hardest-working people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Whatever we threw at him - sometimes literally - his behavior was always worthy of the Doctor.

But great actors always know when it's time for the curtain call, so this Christmas prepare for your hearts to break, as we say goodbye to number Eleven. Thank you Matt - bow ties were never cooler.

Of course, this isn't the end of the story, because now the search begins. Somewhere out there right now - all unknowing, just going about their business - is someone who's about to become the Doctor. A life is going to change, and Doctor Who will be born all over again! After 50 years, that's still so exciting!"

Having starred alongside three different companions, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) and most recently Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman), Matt's Doctor has fought Daleks and Cybermen, as well as Weeping Angels in New York. Regularly heard shouting 'run' and 'Geronimo', through Matt's Doctor fans have been introduced to a new culinary combination - fish fingers and custard!

Matt's spectacular exit is yet to be revealed and will be kept tightly under wraps. He will return to BBC America in the unmissable 50th anniversary episode on Saturday, November 23, 2013.

Thumbnail image for Matt Smith as the Doctor.bmp

Matt Smith

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Star of Discovery's 'Storm Chasers' Killed in Oklahoma Tornado

"A star of the Discovery Channel show 'Storm Chasers,' his son and a colleague have been identified as three of the 13 people killed after an outbreak of tornadoes struck the Oklahoma City area on Friday," Fox News reports. .

The story continues, "Tim Samaras, 55, died with his son Paul, 24, and friend Carl Young, 45, in Canadian County chasing down a tornado that wreaked havoc along Interstate 40, Fox 25 [Sinclair's KOKH in Oklahome City] reports."

The article adds, "  'We are deeply saddened by the loss of Tim Samaras his son Paul and their colleague Carl Young,' the Discovery Channel said in a statement to FOX411. 'Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families.' "

The artcle also says " 'We were shocked and deeply saddened by the news that longtime National Geographic grantee Tim Samaras was killed,' National Geographic Executive Vice President Terry Garcia said in a statement. 'Tim was a courageous and brilliant scientist who fearlessly pursued tornadoes and lightning in the field in an effort to better understand these phenomena.' "

The story notes "Tim Samaras is a 20-year veteran of storm chasing and founded the project TWISTEX (Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling in Tornadoes Experiment), which gathers weather information by placing devices in the way of tornadoes, [according to another Fox station].

"In 2004, Tim Samaras dropped a probe into the path of an EF-4 tornado, where it measured a 100 millibar pressure drop -- a record that still stands today, the Discovery Channel's website says."

Tim Samaras, Carl Young and their team had tracked down more than 125 tornadoes.

Thumbnail image for Storm Chasers Tim and Carl.jpg

Tim Samaras (right) and Carl Young

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Archie Called Her 'Dingbat,' But We Knew Better. Jean Stapleton, Who Made Edith Bunker a Character for the Ages, Dies at 90

"Jean Stapleton, 90, the actress who endeared herself to viewers in the 1970s as Edith Bunker, and whose sudden bursts of truth regularly cut through her husband Archie's bluster on the groundbreaking television series 'All in the Family,' has died, writes Claudia Luther in the Los Angeles Times

The obituary continues, "Stapleton died Friday, May 31, 2013, of natural causes at her New York City home, her family announced. She earned three Emmy Awards starring as the wife of Carroll O'Connor's loud-mouthed, bigoted Archie Bunker on the series, which marked the beginning of sitcoms as a forum for political — albeit often comical — family warfare."

Stapleton was in her late 40's when she achieved TV stardom. "All in the Family," on CBS, was the No 1-rated show on TV from 1971 through the end of the 1975 season. The lowest average season rating it did in any of those years was 30.1. Yes, those were the days.

Here at TVWeek we found that in a 1987 piece in the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Tribune's assistant entertainment editor, Don Braunagel wrote, about Stapleton:

Her face, voice and posture were among the most familiar on television-- and thus in the United States.

The round-eyed naivete. The hunched, arms-up shuffle as she hurried to get Archie a beer. The off-key screech with which she concluded the singing duet on "Those Were the Days."

It was "All in the Family," the landmark sitcom that dominated prime-time TV throughout the '70s. Integral to that show-- the "dingbat" who bested, and mellowed, husband Archie Bunker, that teddy-bear bigot-- was Edith.

And Edith Bunker was Jean Stapleton. But Jean Stapleton never was Edith Bunker.

Away from the cameras, Stapleton was a poised, confident actor, happy with her home life and articulate in her advocacy of such causes as women's rights. The contrast surprised some people.

The Los Angeles Times obituary also says, "As Edith, Stapleton became a role model for other women who had to deal with their own hot-headed Archies, a fact that O'Connor relished.

" 'Before Edith ... women who lived with fellows like Archie were usually submissive and suffering in the face of roaring nonthink,' O'Connor later wrote of his on-camera wife. 'After Edith, they confronted nonthink a little more sternly and stiffly and gave hint of a serious readiness to rebel, just as Edith rebelled from time to time.' "

The Times story adds, "The character that Stapleton created made the break-the-mold sitcom work, according to O'Connor. 'The benign, compassionate presence she developed made my egregious churl bearable,' he wrote in his 1998 autobiography. Her 'idea of Edith Bunker was not only original and perfectly suited to the American audience, but very comical and emotionally moving.' "

Reuters obituary about Stapleton says, "The New York-born Stapleton had a lifelong love of the theater, and her stage roles after 'All In the Family' included a part in a 1987 Broadway revival of the play 'Arsenic and Old Lace.'

"In 1990, she received the Village Voice newspaper's Obie Award for her performances in Harold Pinter's plays 'Mountain Language' and 'The Birthday Party.'

"After spending a number of years living and working in Los Angeles, Stapleton returned to New York in 2002 to live permanently.

"She is survived by her son, John Putch, and her daughter, television producer Pamela Putch. Her husband, William Putch, died in 1983."

Jean Stapleton.jpg

  Jean Stapleton

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