July 2013

Amazon Expands Push Into Originals, Greenlights Five New Projects

Amazon Studios announced today that it has greenlighted five new projects, as the studio continues its push into original programming.

The five new pilots follow what the company calls positive response to its first round of TV pilots. The new projects are all aimed at kids.

“We're very excited to be able to introduce these five original ideas and their talented creators to Amazon customers. After the success of our first pilots, we look forward to getting lots more fantastic feedback from kids and parents,” said Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios. “For the first time we are offering live-action and animated programming for older children and continuing with entertaining, educational programming for preschool-aged children -- it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

The company noted in its press release: "Amazon Studios’ first pilots launched in April of 2013 with eight comedy pilots and six kids pilots. Of the 14 pilots, 'Alpha House,' 'Betas,' 'Annebots,' 'Creative Galaxy' and 'Tumbleaf' were chosen, with the help of customer feedback, to be produced as series. The shows will stream on Prime Instant Video later this year and in early 2014."

Here are the descriptions of the new projects from the press release:

Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street
Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street is a live-action adventure show created by David Anaxagoras, a first-time writer, discovered through Amazon Studios’ open-door submission process. This pilot is a look at the lives of three quirky tweens who live in a surreal world of eccentric characters and strange happenings.

Grid Smasher
Grid Smasher offers viewers an innovative visual style with a mix of puppetry and CGI and was created by Emmy Award nominee Dan Clark (Team Smithereen, Yo Gabba Gabba!, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). In Grid Smasher, Johnico and his team of rag-tag aliens compete to win the greatest game in the universe.

Hard-Boiled Eggheads
Hard-Boiled Eggheads, created by Emmy Award winner Duane Capizzi (Transformers Prime, Jackie Chan Adventures, Men in Black: The Series, Darkwing Duck) is an animated action-comedy for children ages 6-11. The pilot features Miles and Quentin, classified special agents who set out to correct the mistakes of science -- monsters made of toxic waste, mutants born of lab accidents and the occasional hostile alien.

The Jo B. & G. Raff Show
The Jo B. & G. Raff Show is an animated series created by multiple Emmy Award-winning writer and producer Josh Selig (Sesame Street, The Wonder Pets, Oobi). In this pilot, two best friends, Jo B. and G. Raff, are hosts of their very own TV show, “The Jo B. G. Raff Show” but every day, just when their show is about to start filming, Jo B. realizes that G. Raff can’t be found anywhere. This pilot helps teach preschoolers the importance of compromise and how to meet in the middle to resolve disagreements.

Written by Angela Santomero, creator of Blue’s Clues, Creative Galaxy, and the Emmy-nominated literacy series, Super Why, Wishenpoof! is an animated series that helps teach the essentials of problem solving, empathy and making good choices. The pilot revolves around Bianca, who is just like any other little girl -- well, almost -- Bianca has “wish magic.” Bianca’s magical powers of wish magic let her make all kinds of wishes come true. This is Santomero’s second Amazon Studios pilot. Santomero’s first pilot, Creative Galaxy, is currently in production and scheduled to be available on Prime Instant Video and LOVEFiLM in early 2014.

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Oprah Opens Up About the N-Word, Racism

Oprah Winfrey let her feelings be known about racism and the N-word in an interview with Parade magazine. The longtime queen of daytime TV made it clear she has no tolerance for the word.

Winfrey sat down with fellow actor Forest Whitaker and director Lee Daniels, with the three doing publicity for the upcoming release of their movie "Lee Daniels' The Butler."

Asked about the use of the N-word, Winfrey said: "You cannot be my friend and use that word around me. It shows my age, but I feel strongly about it. … I always think of the millions of people who heard that as their last word as they were hanging from a tree."

Daniels added: "It’s a word I used quite a bit, until Oprah sat me down and talked to me about its power."

Said Whitaker: "I don’t use the word. Never did."

Noting that young people today don't know enough about the civil rights movement ("They don’t know diddly-squat. Diddly-squat!," said Winfrey), Winfrey asked: "Do we live in a land where Martin Luther King’s dream has been ultimately fulfilled? No. Has part of the dream been fulfilled?"

To which Daniels replied, "Yes," and Winfrey nodded. Then she added: "Are more people judged by the content of their character than by the color of their skin? Yes. Is everybody judged by the content of their character? Absolutely not."

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'Talent' Fuels Big Win for NBC; Weak Premiere for New Series

Even with its two-hour "America's Got Talent" shedding viewers from last week, NBC coasted to an effortless ratings win Tuesday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "Talent" ticked down one-tenth of a ratings point in viewers 18-49, settling for a 2.7 average -- still the strongest show of the night on broadcast by a wide margin. NBC led off with a repeat of "Hollywood Game Night," which delivered a 1.0.

The other big two-hour reality showpieces airing last night couldn't compete with NBC's entry. Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" was next in line with a 1.4 average in the 18-49 demo, equaling last week's number, while ABC's "Extreme Weight Loss" also matched last week, notching a 1.1.

CW broke out its new show "Capture," which has been billed as a reality version of "The Hunger Games" (while critics liken it more to Hide and Seek). The one-hour premiere barely moved the needle at 9 p.m., trickling in with a 0.4 in viewers 18-49 -- well below CW's two installments of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" (0.8 at 8 p.m. and 0.9 at 8:30). "Capture" did improve on the 0.3 delivered by "Perfect Score" in the slot one week ago.

CBS rolled out three hours of drama repeats -- "NCIS" (1.1 average in 18-49), "NCIS: Los Angeles" (0.9) and "Person of Interest" (0.8).

When the dust settled, NBC was firmly at No. 1 for prime time as a whole with a 2.1 average rating in 18-49, topping Fox (1.4 average), Univision (1.3), CBS (0.9), ABC (0.9) and CW (0.6). NBC's edge in total viewers was 7.6 million to CBS's 6.2 million, Fox's 4.1 million, Univision's 3.4 million, ABC's 3.3 million and CW's 1.7 million.

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New App Tells Viewers When the Commercials Are Over

A new iOS app alerts viewers in real time when TV programming returns from a commercial break. Engadget reports that the tech goodie, Commercial Break, is currently running a beta test.

"You tell it what channel you're watching and it uses DSP and some algorithms to analyze audio and video cues, delivering a push notification to your mobile device once what you were watching comes back," the story reports.

The piece adds: "As of right now, it's in public beta with 10 compatible channels in New York City: ABC, CBS, CNN, ESPN, ESPN2, FOX, NBC, TNT, TBS and USA. Outside of the Big Apple, CNN, ESPN and ESPN2 are compatible nationwide, with a few of these channels also available to others along the East Coast."

The app's developers have plans to expand to other markets as well, the report notes.

According to a press release announcing the app, Commercial Break is available for free from Apple's App Store during its beta test.

Commercial Break co-founder and CEO Haim Kairy says in the release: "The average American sees more than ten hours of commercials every week. Commercial Break is two Israelis' attempt to help them take back that time. The idea came to me after channel-surfing one day: I realized that my co-founder, Eli Ben David, and I could apply our backgrounds in engineering and sound production to automate the tedious channel-flipping that we all do while waiting for our program to come back from commercials."

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Who's the Highest-Paid Actress in Hollywood? The List Is Out

Forbes magazine has released its list of Hollywood's highest-paid actresses, and the actress who tops the list hasn't made a major movie in three years. Coming in at No. 1 was Angelina Jolie.

Her last major film, the report notes, was "The Tourist" with Johnny Depp, a 2010 release.

"In the interim, Jolie wrote and directed her first film, the Bosnian War movie 'In the Land of Blood and Honey,' and privately dealt with a major health issue. After finding out that she was a carrier of the BRCA1 gene, Jolie opted to have a double mastectomy," Forbes notes. "Jolie probably could have kept her decision a secret. Somehow, the celebrity press never caught on to why the star was suddenly out of the public eye."

Jolie tops the list, based on earnings between June 2012 and June 2013, with earnings estimated at $33 million.

"Hollywood hasn’t shied away from Jolie," Forbes reports. "She’s still one of the few actresses who can demand a paycheck north of $15 million for the right movie -- like Disney’s retelling of the old Sleeping Beauty story, 'Maleficent.' The film, which hits theaters next summer, marks Jolie’s return to blockbusters and big money."

The No. 2 actress on the list, Jennifer Lawrence, checks in with earnings of $24 million.

"Hollywood’s new It Girl had a huge year in 2012," Forbes reports. "Not only did she win the Best Actress Oscar for 'Silver Linings Playbook,' she helped the first movie in 'The Hunger Games' franchise earn $690 million on a budget of $80 million. While Lawrence was paid under $1 million to appear in the first film, Lionsgate was more than happy to bump up her pay for 'Catching Fire,' which hits theaters in November. She’ll also co-star in the next 'X-Men; film, 'Days of Future Past,' in which she plays a young Mystique."

Last year's No. 1, Kristen Stewart, slips to No. 3 this year with earnings of $22 million, down from $34.5 million a year ago.

In fourth place is Jennifer Aniston with $20 million, and rounding out the top five is Emma Stone, at $16 million.

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Controversy Swirls Around Star of New Reality Show

The figure at the center of an upcoming cable reality show is attracting a lot of attention, and much of it is negative. Business Insider reports that Steve Stevens, who stars in CNBC's new show "Money Talks," appears to have a shady past.

Stevens runs a business that sells sports betting picks and is described by the network in a press release issued over the weekend as a "well-known handicapper." But Stevens "is being called a fraud and an ex-convict by some of the most prominent people in the sports betting world today," the story reports.

A report from a site called WagerMinds questions the identity of Stevens, noting that it has never heard of him even though "we've covered the sports betting industry for years." Experts have also called into question Stevens' claim that he has a 71.5% success rate at picking games, which WagerMinds says has the impossible odds of "one trillion to 1."

Business Insider adds that the "70% claim was a red flag for a lot of sports betting folks," adding that NBA bettor Bob Voulgaris, who is described by FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver as the best sports bettor in the world, only wins about 57% of his bets.

Stevens' company VIP Sports Las Vegas has its domain name registered to a man called Darin Notaro, who allegedly is on probation for six federal felony counts of telemarketing fraud by wire going back to 1999, the story says.

Reports suggest that Stevens and Notaro are the same person, and a statement from a CNBC spokesman, published by Business Insider, appears to confirm that suggestion. Here's the full statement:

"We are aware of Steve Stevens’ 1999 conviction and while we are very clear in the press release that VIP Sports clients risk big dollars in the hopes that Stevens and his agents have the expertise to consistently deliver winners, viewers should tune in on September 10th at 10pm ET/PT to draw their own conclusions about VIP Sports. We are merely betting that viewers will be interested in the world of touts and handicappers and in no way endorse either Stevens’ picks or his business model."

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Popular Radio Personality Dumped After Sexual Harassment Allegations Surface

A popular radio host has disappeared from the air, with his show being abruptly canceled after allegations surfaced that he had sexually harassed a male employee of the show, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"Spanish-language radio personality Eddie 'Piolin' Sotelo's mysterious departure from the airwaves last week came after a performer on his nationally syndicated program accused him of sexual harassment, according to documents obtained by The Times," the newspaper reports. "Alberto 'Beto' Cortez, a writer, producer and performer on the popular 'Piolin por la Manana' radio program, alleged that his boss Sotelo was 'physically, sexually and emotionally harassing' him for a three-year period ending last January."

The paper reports that Univision, the broadcaster behind "Piolin por la Manana," has severed ties with Sotelo.

"Univision has not decided how it plans to program the early morning drive-time period that Piolín ruled for a decade," the Times reports separately. "For now, the company is playing Mexican regional music during that slot. During the month of June, the most recent month that has ratings data available, Sotelo's show was tied for sixth place among morning programs in the competitive Los Angeles media market."

The Times also notes: "In addition to the claim of sexual harassment, Cortez alleged that Sotelo ordered members of his radio production team to falsify letters in support of a high-profile campaign for congressional immigration reform, an issue that Sotelo championed on his program."

Jeffrey Spitz, an attorney for Sotelo, called the allegations false. The Times quotes a statement from Spitz saying: "A disgruntled, troubled employee has made malicious and false claims about Eddie Sotelo. This was done as part of a demand for money. ... The employee worked with Eddie for more than a decade. The employee's allegations of harassment and falsification of immigration letters are pure fiction intended to gain a financial settlement."


Eddie Sotelo

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Video: Did a CNBC Reporter Use an Offensive Slur?

A CNBC reporter has been accused of using an offensive slur on the air, although some observers say the word was used completely unintentionally.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the incident involves reporter Robert Frank, who was talking about Wendi Deng's impending divorce from media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. "What do you think the chink in the armor here might be?" Frank asked during the discussion of Deng, who was born in China.

Frank uses the word "chink" twice during the exchange.

The phrase previously got an ESPN headline writer fired after using it in a story about NBA player Jeremy Lin. The Asian American Journalists Association told Media Matters for America that the term is "offensive."

Media Matters sent an email to journalists after the CNBC exchange, citing the AAJA's media watch chair Bobby Caina Calvan. Media Matters said while Calvan said the question may have been "spoken innocently," the phrase shouldn't be used when talking about Asian Americans, the story notes.

A CNBC representative said the term's use was "totally unintentional."

Here's a clip of the report, with the controversial word appearing -- twice -- around the 3:23 mark.

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NBC Wraps Upfront, Brings Home Increases in Volume and CPM; Here's Why It Took So Long

NBC has finished its upfront negotiations, tying up loose ends well after the July 4 weekend, which has been the informal deadline in recent years, reports Jeanine Poggi in Advertising Age.

The network brought in a 20% increase in advertising commitments over last year, the story reports. Talks finished later than usual because the broadcast ad inventory was bundled for the first time with NBCUniversal's cable and digital properties, the story notes. Last year, NBC had things pretty well wrapped up by mid-June.

NBC secured $2.1 billion in commitments, up from about $1.72 billion to $1.74 billion last year. CPM rates rose between 7% to 8%, while last year the rate increases were more in the range of 5% to 6%, the story adds.

Poggi reports: "The figures mean NBC comes in behind CBS, which brought in $2.5 billion to $2.75 billion in ad commitments at this year's upfront market, where TV networks negotiate with ad buyers for commercial time in the approaching season. CBS's dollar volume was in line with the prior two upfronts, according to a person familiar with the situation. The Eye Network notched price hikes similar to NBC's, between 7% and 8%."

NBC is not alone in taking its time to conclude its upfront dealmaking this year. "ABC is still wrapping up deals, with media buyers claiming the network has been holding out for price hikes between 7% and 8%, higher than the 6% to 7% increases it saw last year," the story reports.

But $800 million may have evaporated from the broadcast prime-time upfront, compared with last year's commitments, because of weak broadcast ratings, Poggi notes.

"While some of these dollars may have shifted to cable and digital, media buyers say clients are holding back money that may eventually resurface in the so-called scatter market, where advertisers buy commercial time close to the air date," she adds.

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How Facebook Plans to Grab a Slice of the TV Advertising Pie

In a bid to break into the television industry's dominance of media budgets, Facebook plans to sell television-style commercials for as much as $2.5 million a day, reports Bloomberg.

The social-networking site will start offering 15-second spots to advertisers later this year, following efforts by Google and AOL to capture TV ad dollars, the story notes. Prices will range from $1 million to $2.5 million a day.

"With Facebook, the idea would be to capitalize on the millions of users who actively check the site on a daily basis, including during the prime-time hours coveted by television advertisers," the story reports. "As of last quarter, 61 percent of Facebook members were using the site daily -- a number that has risen despite management predictions that it would decline."

The service would allow advertisers to put their ads directly in a user's feed. At 15 seconds, the ads would be the same length as some TV commercials, and would also be the length of Facebook's Instagram's videos, a feature that was added last month.

The ads would be sold on a full-day basis and would be based on age and gender, a switch from Facebook's current practice of selling ads based on location and areas of interest, the story says.

"By relying on fewer categories, Facebook is mimicking the way television ads are purchased, an attempt to make the process more comfortable for executives accustomed to TV," the report notes.

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NBC's 'Today' Replaces Director

NBC's "Today" show is shaking things up with a move behind the cameras. TVNewser.com reports that the venerable morning show is bringing aboard Rob George, who replaces director Joe Michaels.

Michaels was promoted to senior director last month and is overseeing a studio overhaul, the report notes.

George worked as the director of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" for the past three seasons, and started out in local news at stations including KOMO-TV in Seattle. He was also part of the directing team for NBC's coverage of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and has worked on projects for Ryan Seacrest Productions.

George starts Aug. 12 and will direct the 7-9 a.m. hours.

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'Sharknado' Storm Building for Syfy -- Movie's Third Airing Makes History

Syfy's "Sharknado" continues to gain momentum. After the initial airing of the TV movie failed to make much of a splash in terms of viewer totals, subsequent telecasts have built on its audience.

TheWrap.com reports that Saturday night's third airing drew 2.1 million viewers, making it the most-watched original movie encore in the network's history. The movie aired during a "Sharkathon" all-day festival, which also included "Sharktopus" and "Swamp Shark."

As previously reported, the debut of "Sharknado" earned a lot of attention online, but pulled a relatively small audience of 1.4 million viewers. As social media buzz grew in the wake of the telecast, the number climbed to 1.9 million for the first encore.

The movie is now set for a special theatrical release, and a sequel is in the works.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for sharknado-poster.png

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Oprah Winfrey's OWN Turns the Corner Ahead of Schedule

The cable network OWN has turned an important financial corner for owners Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications: It has turned a profit, reports the New York Post.

The network, which launched Jan. 1, 2011, made money in the second quarter, six months before it was expected to go into the black, the story notes.

OWN, which struggled to find an audience in its early days, has since reversed that trend, drawing big ratings for two Tyler Perry shows and big interviews by Winfrey, including one with disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong. The network's total viewership jumped by 39% during the second quarter, the story notes.

OWN will start paying back Discovery for its investment, the piece adds.

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ABC Family Renews Drama Series, Expands Orders for Two Other Shows

ABC Family announced the renewal of a drama series, while also expanding its orders for two other series. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that the cable channel will bring back "Switched at Birth" for a third season.

ABC Family added to the orders for new series "The Fosters" and "Twisted," the story reports. Both series now have full-season orders, with the channel greenlighting each show's remaining 10 episodes.

"Switched at Birth" has performed solidly for the network, drawing an average of 2.4 million viewers. The show features a mixture of deaf, hearing and hard-of-hearing characters, the piece notes.

"The Fosters" has grown its audience after debuting to 1.4 million viewers, while the thriller "Twisted" opened with 1.6 million viewers, the story notes. "The Fosters" is about a lesbian couple and their family of biological, adopted and foster kids.

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'Fringe' Star Cast in Ryan Murphy's HBO Project

One of the stars of the Fox science-fiction series "Fringe" has been cast in Ryan Murphy's HBO pilot "Open." EW.com's Inside TV reports that Anna Torv is joining the project, which is an exploration of human sexuality and relationships.

The project has also cast Jennifer Jason Leigh, who will play a woman in a relationship with Torv's character, the story says.

Torv, who played FBI agent Olivia Dunham on "Fringe," will portray Windsor, “a yoga instructor in a long-term relationship with Holly (Jennifer Jason Leigh), but upon meeting Grace feels an instant connection," the story says.


Anna Torv

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Lifetime Greenlights Project From 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' Writer

A former writer and producer on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" received a green light for a project from Lifetime, reports Deadline.com.

Marti Noxon will executive produce the pilot "Unreal," a drama based on an independent short film called "Sequin Raze," which starred Frances Conroy and Ashley Williams.

"Unreal" goes behind the scenes of a dating show, tracking a young employee whose job is to emotionally manipulate contestants in order to get dramatic footage, the story says. The show is described as a humorous yet troubling look at reality TV.

Noxon has two other cable projects in contention for pickup: "Girlfriends Guide to Divorce" at Bravo and "Proof" with M. Night Shyamalan at Syfy.

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Flash: CW Show Will Launch New Superhero Series

The CW's "Arrow" will introduce a new superhero in the next season, before the character creates his own spinoff series, reports Deadline.com.

"Arrow" co-creators Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg and writer Geoff Johns said on a conference call that the new character, the Flash, will start off as an "ordinary man" when he's introduced in "Arrow's" eighth episode this season.

"The character will be as grounded and realistic as possible,” Kreisberg said. “That’s how we’ll get to know him. Then his life will get a bit faster.”

Berlanti added, "That said, he does need powers to become the Flash. And he will be the Flash. He will wear a red costume, and he will go by that name.”

Asked why they decided on the Flash -- whose other identity is Barry Allen -- rather than another Justice League superhero character, Kreisberg said he was Berlanti's favorite character growing up. “There’s something very relatable about Barry. He got his powers by accident, they just sort of came to him. … He also isn’t a dark and tortured soul," Kreisberg said.

The next step will be to write the script and find an actor to play the superhero, Kreisberg added. Casting begins this week.

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Emmy-Winning, Oscar-Nominated Actress Dead at 80

A well-known actress with a long track record in television and film, who received seven Emmy nominations and took home a trophy in 1981, has died. CNN reports that Eileen Brennan, known for her role in the 1980 feature film "Private Benjamin" and for her many TV roles, died Sunday at 80.

Brennan reportedly died at her home in Burbank, Calif., after a battle with bladder cancer.

Brennan received an Oscar nomination for her performance as Goldie Hawn's exasperated drill captain in "Private Benjamin," the report notes. She reprised the role in a TV series adaptation of the movie from 1981-83, racking up more honors: an Emmy for outstanding supporting actress in 1981 and two additional Emmy nominations, a Golden Globe in 1982 and others.

She also received Emmy nominations for her work on "Taxi," "Newhart," "thirtysomething" and "Will & Grace."

In a statement, her family said: "Our family is so grateful for the outpouring of love and respect for Eileen. She was funny and caring and truly one of a kind. Her strength and love will never be forgotten. She will be greatly missed by all of us."

"Brennan was known for character roles as sassy, brassy women, the kind with a sandpaper surface but a light, pure heart," the CNN report notes. "She played a waitress in 'The Last Picture Show' (1971), the wife of Paul Newman's conman in 'The Sting' (1973), a wisecracking maid in 'At Long Last Love' (1975) and Mrs. Peacock in 'Clue' (1985)."

The report adds: "Verla Eileen Regina Brennan was born in Los Angeles in 1932, the daughter of a doctor and a silent-film actress. After several small stage roles, she finally earned notice for her 1959 off-Broadway turn as 'Little Mary Sunshine,' for which she won an Obie. Five years later, she gained fame for her performance as Irene Molloy, one of the woman who falls victim to Dolly Levi's matchmaking skills, in the 1960s hit musical 'Hello, Dolly!'"


Eileen Brennan

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ABC Wins Monday Night as Reality Series Surges; NBC's Full Prime-Time Lineup Hits Lows

With one of its franchise reality shows scoring a season high, ABC chalked up a win over its broadcast rivals Monday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the Alphabet Network's two-hour edition of "The Bachelorette" rose four-tenths of a ratings point from last week to a season-high 2.3 in 18-49. The network's 10 p.m. drama "Mistresses" ticked up one-tenth to a 1.3.

Second-place CBS had the top show of the night in "Under the Dome," which slipped one-tenth to a 2.7 in the 18-49 demo but still dominated the 10 p.m. hour. The rest of the CBS lineup consisted of comedy repeats.

NBC's slate of originals was only good enough for fourth place among the broadcast nets: "American Ninja Warrior" turned in a 1.5 in adults 18-49 to pace the network, losing one-tenth from last week's season low to hit a new season low. "Get Out Alive With Bear Grylls" fell two-tenths to a series-low 1.2, while "Siberia" also sank to a series low, slipping one-tenth from its previous original to a 0.7.

Fox came in a distant fifth with a slate of comedy repeats.

For prime time overall, ABC led the way in the 18-49 demo with a 2.0 average, followed by CBS (1.7 average), Univision (1.3), NBC (1.1) and Fox (0.5). ABC eked out a narrow win in total viewers, averaging 6.6 million to lead CBS (6.5 million), NBC (3.6 million), Univision (3.3 million) and Fox (1.4 million).

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Why Are the Networks Hemorrhaging Younger Viewers -- and Does It Really Matter?

One of the hottest topics in the television industry these days is why the broadcast networks are shedding younger viewers at an alarming rate -- and what it means for the business.

"There are lots of theories about why broadcasters are losing adult viewers under 50: They're spreading out to cable, or watching shows online. Maybe network shows just aren't what they used to be," TheWrap.com reports.

But CBS, which the report notes has the oldest median viewer age at 56.1 years, has its own view, which the story sums up as: "Networks are winning fewer viewers 18-to-49 because there are fewer people 18-49. Not only that, the network says, but those who remain don't carry the weight they once did. They tend to skew younger, and to increasingly -- gasp -- live at home, even up to the age of 34."

The piece quotes CBS Corp. Chief Research Officer David F. Poltrack, one of the most respected researchers in the business, summing up younger viewers with a bit of understatement: "This makes them of limited interest to a substantial number of advertisers."

But Poltrack adds that CBS understands "the whole youth culture thing." The network last season won the ratings battle in the key 18-49 demo for the first time since 1991-92, the report notes.

"What's become of younger adult viewers is one of the biggest questions at the Television Critics Association summer press tour," the report notes. "So CBS gave Poltrack an entire panel Monday to make the case that 18-to-49-year-old viewers don’t matter as much as they once did, and that networks and advertisers should broaden their focus beyond the one now considered most desirable."

Poltrack told the website: "This 18 to 49 demographic is a smaller percentage of the overall population in numbers. So why would anybody sell -- this is what we tell advertisers -- why would you want to continue to sell and focus your selling on a shrinking part of the total population?"

Other insiders offer a different spin. NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt, speaking over the weekend at TCA, provided a more traditional perspective: "The decline year-to-year in broadcast television from 5 to 7 percent has been happening for the last two decades. So it isn’t just a recent phenomenon, and it’s been happening partly because cable is just taking viewers away."

"The CW, meanwhile, has blamed its recent ratings woes in part on its core audience, people 18 to 34, increasingly watching TV online. CBS co-owns the network with Warner Bros. Entertainment," the report notes.

Another CBS executive, President Leslie Moonves, made the point at TCA that the Internet can be a valuable partner for the networks. "He noted that CBS's 'Under the Dome' earned roughly 13.5 million viewers initially, but ticked up over 20 million including DVR and streaming audiences," the piece reports.

Said Moonves: "Since I've been in the network television business, which is over 30 years, people have been saying, 'Oh, the model is dead.' The model's never been dead. It's just evolving. It's changing."

Please click on the link near the top of this story to read the full report.

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'Sherlock' Casts New Villain

"Sherlock" has cast a foil for title detective Sherlock Holmes for the upcoming season of the show. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the British series tapped "Borgen" star Lars Mikkelsen as Charles Augustus Magnussen.

The report cites a Twitter comment from producer Sue Vertue.

Mikkelsen is the brother of "Hannibal" star Mads Mikkelsen, the story notes. "Sherlock," which airs in the U.S. as part of PBS's "Masterpiece," will return for its third season in 2014.

It's possible that Magnussen is based on the character Charles Augustus Milverton, who appeared in a 1904 short story called "The Adventure of Charles August Milverton" by author Arthur Conan Doyle. The character is described by Sherlock Holmes as "the worst man in London" and "the king of all the blackmailers."


Lars Mikkelsen

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Syndie Sales of 'Raising Hope' Hit Milestone

Twentieth Television announced today that sales of the hit 20th Century Fox Television series "Raising Hope" reached the milestone of being sold for syndication in more than half the country.

The show "has been sold in over 140 markets, increasing its clearances to 55% of the country. Set to debut in syndication in 2014, 'Raising Hope' is sold in top 10 markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Boston, San Francisco and Atlanta," the company said.

Among the stations set to air the syndication run of the program are CBS Station Group’s WLNY (New York), KCAL (Los Angeles), KTXA (Dallas), WSBK (Boston), KBCW (San Francisco), KSTW (Seattle), WTOG (Tampa), KMAX (Sacramento); Weigel Broadcasting’s WCIU (Chicago), WCWW (South Bend); Gannett Broadcasting’s WATL (Atlanta); Sinclair’s WUCW (Minneapolis), WVTV / WCGV (Milwaukee); Meredith’s KPTV / KPDX (Portland) Local TV’s WDAF (Kansas City), Adell Broadcasting’s WADL (Detroit); London Media Group’s KAZT (Phoenix); Lockwood Broadcasting’s WKNX (Knoxville), WHDF (Huntsville) and The CW 100+ Station Group.

Said Paul Franklin, Twentieth's executive VP and general manager of broadcast sales: “‘Raising Hope’ has clearly hit its stride. With an exceptional cast and hilarious writing, the critically acclaimed comedy is well positioned for a strong run in syndication. We are thrilled that, starting next year in syndication, audiences will get to enjoy, and in some cases discover, one of the most enjoyable half-hours of television.”

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Longtime ABC and NBC News Correspondent Dies

A veteran TV news correspondent who worked for both NBC News and ABC News during his long career has died. The New York Times reports that Herb Kaplow died at 86 after suffering a stroke.

Kaplow's career spanned the 1950s into the 1990s, and included covering the Nuremberg trials and the revolution in Cuba.

As a Washington correspondent, Kaplow was a familiar face to generations, covering the White House and 10 presidential campaigns, the story notes. He also reported on the civil rights movement, ranging from the Supreme Court's 1954 ruling to desegregate schools, to the Freedom Riders' campaign to integrate buses in the 1960s, the story adds.

Here's a brief clip from NBC News on Kaplow's death:

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Sinclair Puts Cable News on Notice: It's Putting Together a National News Channel

Just a day after taking the wraps off its buyout of the Allbritton Television Stations, Sinclair Broadcast Group revealed ambitious plans for one piece of the acquisition. B&C reports that the company plans to take its newly acquired news channel national.

"David Smith, Sinclair president and CEO, said the main takeaway from Sinclair's $985 million agreement to acquire Allbritton is the 'strategic significance' of the transaction -- very definitely including Allbritton's NewsChannel 8. The cable channel has 2 million subscribers in the D.C. area, and Smith -- addressing investors July 30 -- painted a picture of a vastly expanded national franchise," B&C reports.

Said Smith: "Because Allbritton has limited reach, the channel has yet to be fully developed outside the D.C. area. We believe we have a distinct opportunity to accomplish that."

Smith called the channel a "launching point" for a national news channel, the piece notes, with the executive talking about a "unique hybrid model" that would distribute the national channel both within the Sinclair group and on MVPD systems.

"Smith threw out a $300 million figure for incremental revenue garnered from the MVPDs for carriage, using CNN's 57 cents a sub as a model," B&C reports.

Smith added: "The takeaway is we believe there is significant value we can unlock when we couple the cable channel with the rest of our news channels and roll it out to more than just D.C."

The piece adds: "Asked why a Sinclair news channel should get comparable fees to CNN, Smith went into a lengthy takedown of the national cable news nets ('This is gonna shock you,' he warned), reciting figures on early a.m. paid programming on his Fox affiliate in Columbus, Ohio, tripling the ratings of Fox News Channel primetime star Bill O'Reilly, with an even wider gap versus CNN's prime. 'If a brand is not delivering value, why should it get paid?' he asked."

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A 243-Week NBC Winning Streak Is Broken

A ratings winning streak that went on for 243 weeks -- almost five years -- has been broken. ABC News reports that “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer” finished as the No. 1 evening newscast for the week of July 22 in the key news demo of adults 25-54, snapping the 243-week winning streak by "NBC Nightly news."

“ABC World News with Diane Sawyer" topped "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams" by 38,000 viewers in the demo -- 1.917 million to 1.879 million -- ABC reported, citing Nielsen Media Research numbers.

The ABC program also closed the gap in total viewers, registering the smallest gap vs. NBC in 42 weeks with a difference of 249,000 viewers -- down from 1.28 Million a year ago.

Broadcast news ratings for the week of July 22 show ABC on top in the news demo with a 1.6 average rating/7 share and 1.917 million viewers, followed by NBC (1.6/6; 1.879 million) and CBS (1.3/5; 1.506 million).

NBC had the edge in total viewers with 7.536 million, followed by ABC (7.287 million) and CBS (5.954 million).

Said Michael Corn, "World News" executive producer: “Diane and I are incredibly proud of the talented team of producers and correspondents who come in every day curious about the world. We appreciate the support from our local stations and most of all the loyal viewers who trust us to bring them the most important and compelling stories of the day. We have a lot more work to do. We’re just getting started.”

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USA Network Shuffles Schedule After Disappointing Start for New Series

USA Network is tweaking its schedule just a few weeks after rolling out a new show. The cable channel is shifting the new unscripted series "Summer Camp" to Mondays at 11 p.m. starting Aug. 5, reports Deadline.com.

The show has been airing Thursdays at 8 p.m., but it got off to a slow start, with 1.1 million viewers tuning in for its July 11 debut, the story notes. The number was only a little higher than the 950,000 viewers who turned out for the April premiere of USA's other new unscripted show, "The Moment."

"But 'Summer Camp' fared far better in the younger demos (661,000 adults 18-49, up 86%, 422,000 in 18-34, up 215%), leading to USA’s decision to give the show a shot in a different slot," the piece notes.

The show will follow "WWE Raw" on Mondays, and the network hopes that some of the audience for "Raw" will stick around to watch "Summer Camp," given that the two shows have a similar median age.

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Leah Remini Says She's 'Not About to Shut Up' After Breaking From Scientology

Former "King of Queens" star Leah Remini says she's "not about to shut up" after her reported break from Scientology earlier this month. The actress made the comment in an interview with People magazine.

"I believe that people should be able to question things," Remini said, speaking to the publication at an event in Malibu, Calif. "I believe that people should value family, and value friendships, and hold those things sacrosanct. That for me, that's what I'm about. It wouldn't matter what it was, simply because no one is going to tell me how I need to think, no one is going to tell me who I can, and cannot, talk to."

As previously reported, Remini broke from the religion after she was reportedly subjected to "interrogations" and "thought modification." She apparently came under scrutiny after she questioned leader David Miscavige about the whereabouts of his wife at Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' 2006 wedding.

Remini, who was part of the religion for three decades, said, "It doesn't matter, it could be anything. I thought about the family being broken up for some other cause, and I'm not about to shut up," according to People.

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After Awkward Fox News Interview, Author Sees Book Sales Soar

Fox News apparently unwittingly helped sell books for provocative Jesus biographer Reza Aslan, who appeared on the network in an awkward interview, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Aslan, who appeared on the FoxNews.com show "Spirited Debate," was immediately asked by host Lauren Green why, as a Muslim, he decided to write about Jesus, who founded Christianity.

"Well, to be clear, I am a scholar of religions with four degrees," Aslan said, "including one in the New Testament, and fluency in biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim."

"It's not that I'm just some Muslim writing about Jesus," he continued. "I am an expert with a PhD in the history of religions."

The clip went viral after the website Buzzfeed posted it with the headline "Is this the most embarrassing interview Fox News has ever done?" Click here to see the video.

After the interview, the book rose from the No. 8 spot on Amazon on Friday to No. 1 on Sunday, reports The New York Times.

"I’ll be perfectly honest -- I’m thrilled at the response that people have had to the interview,” Aslan told The Times. “You can’t buy this kind of publicity.”

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Lindsay Lohan to Fill In as Guest Host on Late-Night Show

Lindsay Lohan has lined up an appearance as guest host of a late-night talk show. Following her deal with OWN for an interview and docuseries, EW.com's Inside TV reports that Lohan will guest host "Chelsea Lately" on E!.

The actress will fill in for Chelsea Handler on Monday's show, just days before Lohan's movie "The Canyons" opens in theaters Friday.

Previous guest hosts on "Chelsea Lately" have included Dave Grohl and the Kardashians.

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Lindsay Lohan

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Disney Channel Renews Show

Disney Channel announced Monday that it is renewing one of its series. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that the channel will bring back "Gravity Falls" for a second season.

The animated series has been a hit with kids in several demographics during its first season, ranking as the No. 1 animated series with children 2-11, 6-12 and 9-14, the story says, citing Nielsen Television Index.

The show tracks fraternal twins Dipper, voiced by Jason Ritter, and Mabel Pines, voiced by Kristen Schaal, as they spend the summer with their great uncle Stan in the town of Gravity Falls. Stan runs a museum of curiosities called the Mystery Shack, and each episode ends with a secret message, the story notes.

"'Gravity Falls' is mystery, comedy and weird all rolled into one unique show -- there is nothing else like it," Eric Coleman, senior vice president of original series for Disney Television Animation, said in a statement.

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'Ray Donovan' EP Takes Leave After Gambling Plea

"Ray Donovan" executive producer Bryan Zuriff is taking a voluntary leave of absence from the Showtime drama after pleading guilty to running an illegal gambling operation, reports Deadline.com.

As previously reported, Zuriff pleaded guilty in a case stemming from a large-scale FBI investigation and tied to the Russian mob. He faces up to five years in prison and has agreed to forfeit $500,000 as part of a plea deal.

"Insiders indicate that by pleading first from the 34 people charged in the operation, he is expected to get a more lenient sentence," Deadline notes.

In a statement, Zuriff said: "Out of respect for my colleagues at the network and everyone involved with the show I’m voluntarily taking a leave of absence so that the resolution of my personal legal matters won’t distract from the audience’s great response to the program. I appreciate all the support I’ve received and look forward to everyone’s continued success.”

Zuriff has been a hands-on executive producer, the story notes, and was frequently on the set. The show was recently renewed for a second season.

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Cowabunga! Fox Eyes Big Payday for 'Simpsons' Reruns

In a new syndication effort, 21st Century Fox's Twentieth Television is targeting a deal of up to $1 billion for "The Simpsons," reports Reuters.

"The Simpsons," which is entering its 25th season, first sold in syndication to TV stations in 1998, but the new deal would license reruns to stations and cable networks at the same time, the story reports. Creator Matt Groening would share in the deal's proceeds.

FX, which is owned by 21st Century Fox, is expected to have first dibs on the deal, but other potential buyers include Viacom and Turner Broadcasting, the story notes.

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Long-Running CW Show Will Get a Spinoff

A spinoff is in the works for a CW series that has been on the air for almost a decade. Deadline.com reports that the drama series "Supernatural," which has been airing since 2005, will get a spinoff.

The spinoff will start as a backdoor pilot, airing as an episode of the show's upcoming ninth season, the story says. The episode will be written by "Supernatural" supervising producer Andrew Dabb, and will focus on the hunter and monster cultures of Chicago.

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Report: 'The Voice' Turns Down Jennifer Lopez

NBC's singing competition "The Voice" reportedly turned down an offer from Jennifer Lopez. The New York Post's Page Six reports that Lopez was rejected after offering to sing for the season finale.

An NBC representative confirmed that Lopez offered to guest star on the show's finale, but said she wasn't included because of scheduling issues. Instead, Cher performed on the June finale.

Lopez was hoping to actually end up as a "Voice" mentor, but the program wasn't interested, the story says. Mentors on the program have included Sheryl Crow, Mary J. Blige and Michael Buble.

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Jennifer Lopez

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Canada: Where Hockey Meets High Fashion. Non-TV Story - Saks Fifth Avenue Bought by Canadian Retailer for $2.4 Billion in Cash

"On Monday, July  29 , 2013,  Rick Baker’s Hudson’s Bay Company announced that it had agreed to buy [Saks Fifth Aveune parent] Saks Inc., one of the oldest and most revered names in luxury retailing, for $2.4 billion in cash, uniting it with Lord & Taylor and the Canadian chain Hudson’s Bay," reports The New York Times.

The story continues, "The acquisition would create a behemoth in the retail world and cap an extraordinary run of deal making by Mr. Baker. The combined company would own 320 locations, 179 of which are full department stores. It had combined revenues of about $7 billion in the 2012 fiscal year."

The story adds, "With the acquisition, Mr. Baker says he plans to push the Saks brand into Canada, where there is only one luxury department store chain, Holt Renfrew. 'There’s certainly room for a little competition up there,”' Mr. Baker said. Canadian Saks stores will be 'on the luxurious side of the U.S. Saks stores,' he said."

"As in his previous deals for Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s, real estate is an important component of the Saks acquisition." the story says.

Saks Fifth Avenue.pngSaks' Flagship New York City Store

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In Strange Dance, as Deadline (Again) Passes, Time Warner Cable Begins to Take CBS Stations Off Its Systems in Retrans Dispute, Only to Halt the Blackouts and Continue Negotiating

"Time Warner Cable and CBS said early Tuesday morning that they will shrug off their self-imposed midnight Tuesday deadline and continue to negotiate on a new retransmission contract," USA Today reported at 12:27 a.m. ET.

The article adds, "TWC spokeswoman Maureen Huff said the signals were being removed when CBS asked to stop the process. 'They were dark in some but not all areas,' she said. 'At the request of CBS, we have halted going dark on their channels.' The parties will continue to negotiate with no established deadline, Huff said."

The story noted, "Their retransmission contract - which dictates how much CBS gets paid by TWC for its broadcast signals - expired at the end of June. But the companies chose to keep CBS stations on the air while the talks continued. They set several deadlines in July only to extend them repeatedly. On Tuesday, they extended the 5 p.m. deadline six times, once each hour after 7 p.m.

"Their negotiation involves only the 13 CBS-owned TV stations in eight markets that are served by TWC. Showtime, TMC, Flix and Smithsonian - all fully or partly owned by CBS - are also included in the contract."

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Drama Series Is Renewed

CBS announced that it is bringing back a drama series for another season. The Tiffany Network is ordering a 13-episode second season of the summer hit "Under the Dome," to roll out in summer 2014.

Stephen King, who wrote the novel that is the basis for "Under the Dome," will pen season two's premiere episode.

Making the announcement was Nina Tassler, president of CBS Entertainment.

Said Tassler: “We’re excited to tell more stories about the mystery of the dome and the secrets in Chester's Mill, and are thrilled to have the master storyteller himself, Stephen King, tell the first one of next season."

The serialized drama has been a rarity this summer: a new scripted series that is performing well on broadcast. It comes from Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television.

"Under the Dome" is averaging 13.84 million viewers, a 3.5 rating/10 share in adults 18-49 and 4.8/12 in adults 25-54, the network reported.

"In addition to impressive live plus same day ratings on CBS, the series has also seen significant additional viewing on DVR playback, video-on-demand and online streaming -- including Amazon's Prime Instant Video, which provides exclusive online subscription streaming four days after the broadcast on CBS," the network said in its release. "Amazon says that since the show’s launch, UNDER THE DOME has been watched by more customers than any other series on the service."

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Video: Taylor Swift Learns the Secret of Carly Simon's 'You're So Vain' ... but Is She Telling?

Taylor Swift joined forces with a singer-songwriter from a few decades ago who was one of her inspirations, Carly Simon, with the two women performing Simon's signature song, "You're So Vain." In the process, Swift learned the answer to one of the great secrets of popular music: Who was the song written about?

Here's the video, which was posted by MTV:

Get More: Music News

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Reality Show Personality Hit With Criminal Charges

A reality television personality and her husband are facing what's being described as "a laundry list of criminal charges -- ranging from bank fraud to tax evasion -- and now, they both face more than 50 years in prison if convicted," TMZ.com reports.

The charges were announced against Teresa Giudice, of Bravo's "Real Housewives of New Jersey," and her husband, Joe Giudice.

"U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman just announced the 39-count indictment, claiming Teresa and her hubby massively defrauded the IRS as well as several banks between 2001-2008," the story reports. "According to the U.S. Attorney, the Giudices conspired to illegally obtain mortgages and other loans from multiple banks by intentionally overestimating their incomes in order to get more money."

The couple are also accused of withholding information about their net worth after filing for bankruptcy protection in 2009, the piece reports, noting that Teresa Giudice's income from the Bravo show was one of the details in question.

"As for tax evasion, Joe is accused of failing to file income tax returns for the years 2004-2008, during which he allegedly earned $1 million," the story reports. "All told, the Giudices were hit with 39 charges -- including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, which carries a max prison sentence of 20 years, and bank fraud, which carries a max of 30 years. The remaining charges carry the possibility of even more prison time."

The Giudices had not been arrested, the report notes, but they have a court date set for Tuesday morning in New Jersey.

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Moonves Sounds Off About 'Big Brother' Racism

CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves opened up today about the racism issue that has surfaced on this season's round of "Big Brother." The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the executive addressed the topic during today's CBS session at the Television Critics Association press tour.

Said Moonves: "'Big Brother,' it's obviously is a social experiment. It always was. Clearly that's what's happening this year."

"Moonves voiced his distaste for some of the houseguests' derogatory comments, declaring: 'I find some of the behavior absolutely appalling personally,'" THR adds. "In response to the Internet and viewer uproar over, CBS inserted a disclaimer -- the first time the long-running summer reality staple has used one -- prior to its broadcasts."

Moonves also said: "I think we've handled it properly. It makes us uncomfortable."

THR adds: "The decision came after CBS faced increased pressure from viewers and subscribers of the uncensored 24-hour live feeds on CBS.com to address the cast's comments, which has cost two houseguests their jobs and [caused] an employer of another to distance itself from its employee."

The racist remarks made their way into the July 7 installment of the show, and since that time "Big Brother" has continued to touch on the remarks and their fallout.

"Moonves, whose wife Julie Chen hosts 'Big Brother,' admitted that he and Chen discuss the show in the privacy of their own home," THR notes.

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Tara Reid Disputes 'Sharknado 2' Report

Actress Tara Reid is disputing a media report that surfaced over the weekend that says she has been dumped from the sequel to "Sharknado." TVWeek carried the report this morning.

Accesshollywood.com says Reid took to Twitter to refute the report, tweeting: “There is no script for Sharknado 2. ... Until I read it then I will make a decision. But everyone that is saying i got cut that is not true #liars.”

The report adds: "The production company behind the movie, The Asylum, also Tweeted, 'For the record, @TaraReid is awesome and was great to work with in #SHARKNADO. We’d be lucky to have her back for the sequel. That is all!'"

“Sharknado 2” is expected to roll out in 2014, with the action reportedly moving to New York City.

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CBS Sees Viewer Numbers Slip

CBS saw its viewer numbers droop on a couple of fronts Sunday night, including getting a mediocre turnout for the season premiere of "Unforgettable," based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. But the network still did well enough to tie Univision for first place for prime time overall in the demo, while coasting to an easy win in total viewers.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the "Unforgettable" premiere delivered a 1.3 average in 18-49, well below the 2.0 averaged by the season-one finale. CBS's "Big Brother," which has generally been up in recent weeks, was down Sunday, slipping three-tenths of a point from a week ago to a 2.2 -- still enough to rank as the top broadcast show of the night. "60 Minutes" pulled in a 1.0, and a repeat of "The Mentalist" at 10 p.m. had a 0.7.

Fox aired an all-repeat "Animation Domination" lineup and finished close behind in third place in the 18-49 demo. ABC's season finale of "Celebrity Wife Swap" ticked up one-tenth from a week ago to a 1.1, while its "Whodunnit?" ticked up one-tenth from last week's series low to a 1.1.

NBC rolled out mostly repeats, with a new installment of "Crossing Lines" equaling last week's series low with a 0.5 average in viewers 18-49.

For prime time overall, CBS and Univision led the way with 1.3 average ratings in adults 18-49, followed by Fox (1.2 average), ABC (0.9) and NBC (0.7). CBS was well out front in total viewers with 6.7 million, followed by ABC (3.3 million), Univision (3.3 million), NBC (3.0 million) and Fox (2.6 million).

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NBC Cancels Show

NBC has announced the cancellation of a prime-time show. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the network canceled the competition series "Fashion Star" after two seasons on the network.

NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt confirmed the show's cancellation at the Television Critics Association tour.

The reality competition, which showed fashion designers competing to have their clothing sold in stores such as Saks and Macy's, had shifted to Friday nights for its second season, the story reports. It also was revamped, with Louise Roe brought in to host, replacing executive producer Elle Macpherson, the piece notes.

But the May 10 finale drew a 0.5 rating in the 18-49 demographic, a substantial drop from the first-season finale's rating of 1.6. The show's first season aired on Tuesday nights.

"With the exception of 'The Voice,' NBC has struggled to find a breakout hit in the unscripted arena in recent years," the story points out.


Louise Roe

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Huge Acquisition Makes Largest TV Station Group Even Bigger

The largest operator of local television stations in the United States is getting even bigger. B&C reports that Sinclair Broadcast Group, which reportedly operates at least 88 stations across the U.S., is buying the Allbritton Television Stations for $985 million.

"The [Allbritton] stations consist of seven ABC Network affiliates, covering 4.9% of the U.S. TV households, and NewsChannel 8, a 24-hour cable news network covering the Washington metropolitan area that Sinclair may expand to other markets. Lucrative, and influential, WJLA Washington is also in the group," the story reports.

The acquisition is likely to close in the fourth quarter, but requires regulatory approval. The count of stations operated by Sinclair is as high as 140 when pending acquisitions are included.

"To comply with FCC ownership rules, Sinclair expects to sell the license and certain related assets of its stations in Birmingham, Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York, and Charleston, and to provide services to each of these stations," B&C reports. "Sinclair continues to acquire at an impressive rate, with Allbritton easily being the largest of its string of acquisitions."

As we reported earlier this month, when news broke that Allbritton was up for sale, Sinclair was considered one of the strongest contenders, along with Nexstar. At that time, however, it was thought WJLA might go to a separate buyer, with Disney-ABC the odds-on favorite.

David Smith, Sinclair's president and CEO, said: "We are thrilled to add the Allbritton properties to our growing portfolio and national footprint. To buy a full-blown news operation in our nation's capital and an infrastructure that allows us to be connected to our branches of government and be at the pulse of national issues is a once-in-a lifetime event. We are especially excited to acquire the NewsChannel 8 local news channel, not only for the content it can provide our existing news stations, but moreover because their regional cable presence provides the perfect platform should we decide to expand it into other markets, especially given the amount of local news we produce across our entire portfolio."

B&C notes: "Besides the Washington properties, the Allbritton stations include: WCFT-WJSU-WBMA Birmingham-Tuscaloosa-Anniston, WHTM Harrisburg, KATV Little Rock, KTUL Tulsa, WSET Lynchburg and WCIV Charleston."

Allbritton Chairman and CEO Robert Allbritton added in a release announcing the buyout: "Sinclair is the ideal buyer of our superb television stations. Its existing reach and history of innovation matches exceptionally well with our long tradition of viewer service and news gathering excellence. David Smith and his team have been a pleasure to work with. I am confident that their leadership and resources will enable our stations to reach new heights of service to our communities."

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Will 'Today' Co-Host Jump to 'The View'?

A co-host of NBC's "Today" is being courted as a potential new co-host for ABC's "The View," reports the New York Post's Page Six.

"The View" is said to be interested in Hoda Kotb and has reportedly reached out to her. She's appealing because of her news experience, which is something the show lost when Meredith Vieira departed, and she adds diversity to the show's panel, the story notes. She would replace longtime "View" host Joy Behar, who is leaving the program.

A representative for ABC said there was "zero truth" to the report, while NBC reportedly wants to keep Kotb on the network. Kotb co-hosts with Kathie Lee Gifford on the fourth hour of "Today."

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Hoda Kotb

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Report: Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity to Get Dropped by Major Radio Company

In what's described as a major shakeup for the radio industry, the country's second-largest radio broadcaster will drop conservative hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity from its stations by year-end, reports Politico.

Cumulus Media won't renew the contracts for either host, meaning that their voices will disappear from the company's 40 channels in top markets, the story reports, citing an industry source.

"The decision comes after negotiations between Cumulus and Premiere Networks, the division of Clear Channel that distributes Limbaugh and Hannity's shows, broke down due to disagreements over the cost of the distribution rights, the source said. Cumulus is known to drive a hard bargain on costs, and Clear Channel is known to seek top dollar for big names," the piece reports.

The story adds: "As industry insiders caution, Cumulus and Clear Channel have come to the brink before during contract negotiations only to resume talks. But the source told Politico that Clear Channel was unlikely to reduce the cost for distribution rights to a level that would satisfy Cumulus."

Cumulus has been reaching out to radio talent agencies and political insiders to find new hosts to fill airtime, the story says. Some established radio talent, such as Mike Huckabee, may be moved into one of the open slots, the piece notes.

Cumulus declined to comment on the report.

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Co-Creator of 'The Simpsons,' Battling Terminal Cancer, Is Giving Away His Fortune

One of the co-creators of "The Simpsons," who made a fortune from the long-running show, is giving away millions as he struggles with terminal colon cancer, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Sam Simon, 58, retained the executive producer title after leaving the show in 1993, which helped build his fortune, the story says. "The 'Simpsons' money got bigger and bigger," he tells the publication. "When I left 'The Simpsons,' no one thought that this thing was going to still be around. It's the cumulative effect. It's like, 'Oh my God, 25 years later, and it's still coming in.'"

Simon was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer five months ago, and was given three to six months to live, the piece notes. He has vowed to donate almost all of his "Simpsons" royalties, which he has estimated at "tens of millions" annually, to charity.

He founded the Sam Simon Foundation, which provides food for people (vegan foods only) and stray dogs. He also supports the animal-rights group PETA, which named its Norfolk, Va., headquarters the Sam Simon Center, and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a marine conservation group.

Simon said he puts in about half a day per week on FX's "Anger Management," on which he's a consultant, and works on his radio show. "That's a good workload for me. I'm not supposed to drive anymore, but I do. I got into three accidents on my way home between Wilshire and 16th to here. I think they give me too much Ativan. That's the way it is now," he said.

As for his philanthropic work, he said he has always been an animal lover.

"Everything that the Sam Simon Foundation does is supposed to help dogs and people -- that's our mission. I like dogs and meeting people whose dogs we've saved with our free-surgery day," he said.

Asked about when he felt compelled to give away his money, Simon noted, "One thing is, I get pleasure from it. I love it. I don't feel like it is an obligation. One of the things about animal rights, which is not the only thing that I care about in this world, is that your money can bring success. I see results. There is stuff happening, really good stuff, every week."


Sam Simon

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'Ray Donovan' Producer Pleads Guilty in Case Tied to Russian Mob

One of the producers of Showtime's drama series "Ray Donovan" has pleaded guilty in a case stemming from a huge FBI investigation and tied to the Russian mob. Deadline.com reports that executive producer Bryan Zuriff pleaded guilty to running an illegal gambling operation.

Zuriff entered the plea just days after Showtime picked up the drama for a second season, the story notes. According to a statement from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Zuriff faces up to five years in prison and has agreed to forfeit $500,000 as part of a plea deal.

"Bryan Zuriff spanned the coasts with his crimes, by operating his own illegal gambling enterprise in Los Angeles, and helping to operate a vast illegal gambling enterprise in New York,” Bharara said. “With his plea, he becomes the first defendant, but not the last, to be convicted in this sprawling script of criminal conduct.”

As we reported back in April, Zuriff was one of 34 people charged in connection with the alleged gambling ring as a result of a massive FBI investigation.


Bryan Zuriff

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CNBC Cancels Reality Series -- 'We Were in for a Bumpy Ride,' Exec Says

CNBC said it remains committed to reality programming, even after canceling one of its first reality shows. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the cable channel reaffirmed its commitment after canceling "Crowd Rules."

"We knew we were in for a bumpy ride," said Jim Ackerman, CNBC's senior vice president of prime-time alternative programming. "There's a lot of stuff out there -- you have to be willing to take shots. And you have to be willing to say, hey that didn't work, let's move on. The commitment is as strong as ever."

The network announced an expanded reality slate at a session of the Television Critics Association press tour, the story says. The network has renewed "The Car Chasers" and will debut "Money Talks," featuring Steve Stevens of VIP Sports in Las Vegas.

CNBC is also casting for the second season of "The Profit," which is about an entrepreneur looking for small businesses to invest in.

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NBC Lands Heavily Decorated Olympian for Winter Games

NBC has hired the country's most decorated athlete in the Winter Olympics to work as an analyst at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno will work on features and provide studio commentary during the Games, and will be joined by Al Michaels, who will host daytime coverage of the Games on weekdays and weekends.

Ohno is an eight-time Olympic medalist and two-time gold medal winner, having competed in the 2002, 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics.

Michaels is known for his "Miracle on Ice" call at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, when the U.S. ice hockey team beat the Soviet team. Michaels said during the third period, "Do you believe in miracles?! Yes!," the story notes.

"We are excited to have two Olympic icons in their own right on board to play an integral role in our Sochi coverage,” Jim Bell, executive producer of NBC Olympics, said in a statement. “Al’s historical perspective and expertise will serve as a foundation for NBC Sports Group’s live daytime coverage, while Apolo will bring a fresh off-the-ice and pop culture perspective.”

Apolo Anton Ohno

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Michael J. Fox Says He's Up for a 22-Episode Series

Actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's, said at the Television Critics Association press tour that he's adjusting to the rigorous schedule of a 22-episode season, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

Fox, who will star in "The Michael J. Fox Show" on NBC, said he has taped six episodes so far.

"I knew one of two things would happen over the year: I would atrophy or I'd rebuild the muscles -- and I'm rebuilding the muscles," he said.

Questions about Fox's health were predominant in the panel on the show at the TCA press tour, the story notes.

"Sometimes it's frustrating, and sometimes it's funny," he said of his battle with the disease. "I look at it that way, and I think other people need to look at it that way. … If someone wants to be outraged, they can be outraged. I don't think it's that outrageous."

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'Sharknado' Sequel Will Reportedly Include Only One Actor From Original

The producers of "Sharknado" are working on a sequel, and they only want one actor back from the original Syfy television movie, reports TMZ.com.

That actor is Ian Ziering, the story says. The producers aren't planning to ask back actress Tara Reid, who played Ziering's estranged wife, the story says.

Both Ziering and Reid were paid about $50,000 for the movie, but Ziering should earn more for the sequel, the piece adds.


Tara Reid

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NBC vs. ESPN: Dueling Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding Documentaries

NBC is working on a documentary about figure skating rivals Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding, just days after ESPN said it plans its own documentary about the pair, reports The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

ESPN's "30 for 30" is working on a look at the infamous attack before the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics, when Harding had Kerrigan clubbed in the knee during the runup to the competition.

NBC, however, has secured an exclusive interview with the press-shy Kerrigan, something the ESPN project did not, the story notes. The NBC project will be narrated by sportscaster Mary Carillo, and will air in prime time around the time the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, are broadcast.

While both Kerrigan and Harding will be interviewed, it's unlikely that the pair will appear together on camera, the story notes.

ESPN will air its documentary, which will include interviews with Harding and several people close to Kerrigan, in November.

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'American Horror Story' Bringing Back Actor From First Season

"American Horror Story: Coven" is bringing back an actor who appeared in the show's first season. EW.com's Inside TV reports that the show is bringing back Denis O'Hare.

It's not clear what O'Hare's role will be in the FX show's third season, with his casting announced via Twitter by executive producer Ryan Murphy. The third season has many alums reappearing, including Jessica Lange and Frances Conroy, the story notes.


Denis O'Hare

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James Spader Reveals Why He Took Role on NBC's 'The Office' -- and It's a Familiar Reason

Actor James Spader said at the Television Critics Association press tour that he took the role as Robert California on "The Office" for the money, reports Deadline.com.

Spader said he was offered the role after appearing as a one-off in the show's seventh-season finale. He viewed it as a way to make money to help finance his work on "Lincoln," the story notes.

"I had a ball doing that one episode … and two things happened,” Spader said. “I was offered 'Lincoln' -- a film everybody was doing [long pause] for very little money, and yet the commitment was going to be eight months in advance. And I had just finished doing a play in New York and [needed] to make some money” -- a job “that actually paid my bills, and lo and behold they aired ['The Office' season-seven] finale and people responded to the finale, and [the producers] called and said, ‘We’d love to have you back in any capacity you’re willing.'"

Spader said he agreed to return as long as they let him out to work on "Lincoln."

"So in a sense I never felt like I was more than a visitor there. I was fine with that," he said.


James Spader

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Radio Personality Who is Also One of the Co-Hosts of Syndie Show 'Dish Nation' Dies at 53

A popular radio personality and one of the co-hosts of Twentieth Television's syndicated TV show "Dish Nation" passed away Saturday, July 27, 2013.

"Radio host Kidd Kraddick ... died suddenly today at age 53." wrote our friend Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

The story continued, "Kraddick passed away at a golf tournament in New Orleans raising money for his Kidd’s Kids Charity. 'Twentieth Television and the team at Dish Nation are heartbroken and deeply saddened by the loss of a great talent and friend,' the studio said in a statement. 'Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his longtime radio crew during this very difficult time.'" 

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Kidd Kraddick

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All Together Now: BBDO, Saatchi & Saatchi, TBWA, Starcom, DDB, MediaVest, GSD&M, Razorfish, Martin/Williams, Optimedia, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Burrell, Arnell, OMD, Publicis, PHD, Zenith and Zimmerman. Huge Merger in the Advertising Business

Two of the biggest forces in worldwide advertising, the United States-based Omnicom Group and the France-based Publicis Groupe, have merged to form the world's largest advertisng group.

All of the advertising amd media agencies listed in our headline, above, will be owned by the same parent company. And our list is not exhaustive.

"The combined company will be called Publicis Omnicom Group and be led by Omnicom CEO John Wren and Publicis CEO Maurice Levy as co-chief executives. The move is designed to bolster the companies' focus on growing Asian and Latin American markets, such as China and Brazil, where they each have ramped up operations to counter lackluster growth in weak European markets."

So writes the Associated Press, which continues, "But although a combined firm will allow for more pricing power in general, the decrease in competition could present regulatory hurdles in the U.S. and Europe. Client conflicts also could be an issue, as rivals such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, McDonald's, Yum Brands' Taco Bell, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble find themselves under the same umbrella."

From our good friends at our sibling Crain Communications publication Advertising Age, Bradley Johnson and Rupal Parekh, here are some details of the deal (and please turn to AdAge.com for any further developments on this story):

Biggest shared clients: McDonald's, Procter & Gamble, L'Oreal, AT&T

Potential for conflicts: Pepsi and Coca-Cola; AT&T and Verizon; Microsoft and Google

Top brass: Maurice Levy, 71, and John Wren, 60, will serve as co-CEOs for the first two and a half years of the deal. After that, Mr. Levy will become non-executive chairman and Mr. Wren will continue as CEO. For the first year following closing of the transaction, Bruce Crawford, 84, currently Omnicom chairman, will be non-executive chairman of Publicis Omnicom Group. For the second year following the deal's closing, Mr. Crawford will be succeeded as non-executive chairman by Elisabeth Badinter, 69, currently chairperson of the Publicis Groupe supervisory board. Ms. Badinter, daughter of Publicis Groupe's founder, is Publicis Groupe's biggest shareholder with a 9.1% stake as of year-end 2012 (including her children's holdings). The company's board will have 16 members, consisting of the two co-CEOs and seven non-executive directors from each company.

Headquarters: The company will be headquartered in the Netherlands, with the group's operational offices still led from Paris and New York. The location choice is neutral and offers tax advantages.

Combined revenue as of 2012: $23 billion

Total number of employees: Over 130,000

Joint printed statement about the dea put out by Levy and Wren: "For many years, we have had great respect for one another as well as for the companies we each lead. This respect has grown in the past few months as we have worked to make this combination a reality. We look forward to co-leading the combined company and are excited about what our people can achieve together for our clients and our shareholders."

Efficiency Goals: Aiming for $500 million realized due to operating synergies. That's likely going to require consolidation of real estate, companies and possible headcount elimination, but the execs declined to provide any detail around how those cost-savings will be achieved.

Antitrust issues: In the U.S., the two firms' combined revenue was $11.4 billion, twice that of the nearest competitor, WPP. Ad Age DataCenter estimates total 2012 U.S. agency revenue at $35.6 billion based on the sum of estimated revenue of nearly 1,000 agencies analyzed in Agency Report 2013. Omnicom and Publicis in 2012 together accounted for 31.5% of worldwide revenue among the 50 largest agency companies ranked by Ad Age, vs. 22.8% for WPP. The combined company accounted for 41.2% of 2012 revenue among the world's 10 largest media agencies, according to Ad Age estimates. Publicis Omnicom would own three of the world's five largest media agencies, including the four largest U.S. media agencies, according to Ad Age.

Approval process: The companies are hoping the deal will close by year-end 2013 or in the first quarter of 2014. Mr. Levy claims that so far the French government has been supportive of the deal and it will get past regulators, while Mr. Wren says advisers have "not raised any red flags."

Impact on competing players in the ad business: WPP moves to No. 2, well behind the combined Publicis Omnicom. Dwarfed now are Interpublic, Dentsu Inc., Havas and MDC Partners. This deal could set off more acquisition activity as the remaining players look to remain competitive.

Stock information: Publicis Omnicom Group is expected to be listed on the NYSE and Euronext Paris, traded under the symbol OMC (Omnicom Group's current ticker), and to be included in the S&P 500 and the CAC 40, a French stock-market index. Omnicom shares closed Friday at $65.11, up 81 cents or 1.3%. Shares rose in after-hours trading to $67.15 on merger speculation, approaching their July 18 all-time high ($67.43). Publicis stock closed Friday at 59.35 euros, up 1.5%; shares July 18 reached 60.44 euros, highest since 2000. The companies' combined market cap -- stock-market value -- was $32.5 billion as of Friday ($16.8 billion for Omnicom, the rest for Publicis). The deal was structured so shareholders of Omnicom Group and Publicis Groupe will each end up with about a 50% stake in Publicis Omnicom Group.

Advisers on the deal: Moelis & Co. is financial adviser to Omnicom on the transaction. Rothschild is acting as financial adviser to Publicis Groupe. Legal advisers to Omnicom are Latham & Watkins LLP and De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek. Legal advisers to Publicis Groupe are Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz; Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier; and NautaDulith N.V. Jones Day provided counsel to Moelis & Co.

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NBC Announces 4-Hour Miniseries About Hillary Clinton, to Star Diane Lane. Says NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt: 'We Need to Be in the Event Business'

NBC Chairman Robert Greenblatt announced Saturday, July 27, 2013, that NBC will present a four-hour miniseries titled "Hillary," about Hillary Clinton. The program will star Diane Lane, who has been nominated both for Emmys ("Cinema Verite," "Lonesome Dove") and for an Academy Award ("Unfaithful").

Greenblatt, speaking at the summer tour of the Television Critics Association (TCA), told TV critics and reporters that his flagship NBC network "needs to be in the event business."

For years the biggest event on the network has been the Olympics. Greenblatt is now adding some significant scripted miniseries to the mix as well. Two of those are a sequel to "The Bible" and a six-hour miniseries about Cleopatra.

But it was his announcement of "Hillary" that made the biggest splash, especially since Clinton might run for president again. Asked about that at the TCA gathering at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., Greenblatt replied, "We have to think very carefully about the timing. She probably wouldn't announce for another two years.That would be be maybe spring or summer of 2015. The show could have already aired by then."

In its press release about "Hillary" NBC said that it "will be written and directed by Oscar nominee Courtney Hunt ('Frozen River'). The miniseries will recount Clinton's life as a wife, mother, politician and Cabinet member from 1998 to the present. The script will begin with Clinton living in the White House as her husband is serving the second of his two terms as president."

Greenblatt also announced a four-hour miniseries retelling of "Rosemary's Baby," the Ira Levin bestseller from 1967 that was made into a hit movie the following year. Another miniseries will be a remake of Stephen King's 1987 "Tommyknockers," which aired as a miniseries 20 years ago, in 1993.

Finally, Mark Burnett will produce for NBC the limited series "Plymouth," about the Pilgrims' journey to America and settling here.

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A First for AMC: Cable Channel Doubles Down on New Dramas, Orders Two to Series

For the first time in its history, AMC has ordered two new series in one cycle, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports. The cable channel is adding "Halt & Catch Fire" and "Turn" to its programming lineup.

AMC President Charlie Collier made the announcement this afternoon at the Television Critics Association press tour, the piece notes.

"'Halt & Catch Fire,' set in the early 1980s, revolves around the personal computing boom and is told through the eyes of a visionary and an engineer and prodigy whose innovations directly confront the corporate behemoths of the time." THR reports. "Their partnership will be challenged by greed and ego while charting the changing culture in Texas' Silicon Prairie. The effort hails from AMC Studios and Gran Via Productions. The series was created by Chris Cantwell and Chris Rogers with 'Breaking Bad's' Mark Johnson and Melissa Bernstein as executive producers."

The report adds: "'Turn,' based on Alexander Rose's book 'Washington's Spies,' hails from 'Nikita's' Craig Silverstein and is executive produced by Barry Josephson. Set during the summer of 1778, the drama centers on a New York farmer named Abe Woodhull, who bands together with a group of childhood friends to form the Culper Ring, a group of spies who turn the tide in America's fight for independence. Also from AMC Studios, Silverstein will pen the project with Josephson exec producing via his Josephson Entertainment."

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After Creating a Sensation Online, TV Movie Heads to Theaters

A TV movie that became an instant cult classic thanks to the Internet is headed to movie theaters. TheWrap.com reports that Syfy's "Sharknado," which created a sensation on social media even though its viewer numbers were pretty low, will have a special theatrical screening.

The movie drew only 1.5 million viewers for its premiere on Syfy, and after getting a lot of buzz, it delivered 1.9 million for its encore, TheWrap notes, adding: "Chances are you haven't watched it yet."

"'Sharknado' is coming to select Regal, Edwards and UA Cinemas for one night only, the company announced. Friday, Aug. 2 will see a midnight showing at many participating theaters," TheWrap reports. Tickets will be $12.50.

"The movie stars Ian Ziering and Tara Reid trying to save L.A. from a tornado full of sharks," the piece notes.

As we reported previously, "Sharknado 2" is already in the works at Syfy, which is putting on a Twitter contest to name the sequel. The movie also inspired an update to the list of "Syfy's 17 Most Awesomely Bad Horror Movie Titles."

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Reality Franchise Rises to the Occasion as Finale Lifts Fox to Nightly Win

A Fox reality franchise, airing its two-hour season finale Thursday night, helped lift the network to a win for the night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "Hell's Kitchen" delivered a 2.2 average rating, enough to give Fox a comfortable win over its broadcast rivals.

The number for "Hell's Kitchen" was a 5% improvement from last week, but in a summer when broadcast viewership is generally down, it's no surprise that the finale was down from last year's season finale -- 12% below the installment that aired Sept. 10, 2012.

The top show on broadcast last night was CBS's "Big Brother," which equaled last week's 2.4 average in the 18-49 demo. CBS finished second behind Fox for prime time overall, while winning the night in total viewers -- even with the rest of its prime-time lineup consisting of repeat programming.

ABC's slate of all-new programming was only good enough for fourth place among the broadcast nets behind Fox, CBS and Univision. Pacing the network was "Rookie Blue" with a 1.1 in viewers 18-49, matching last week's episode; "Wipeout" dipped 9% to a 1.0, equaling its series low; and "Motive" was even with last week's series-low 0.8.

Bringing up the rear among what now amounts to a "Big 5" lineup of broadcasters was NBC, which rolled out a fresh "The Winner Is" (0.9 average in 18-49, same as last week) and a new "Hollywood Game Night" (1.3 average, up 8%).

The overall prime-time numbers show Fox on top in adults 18-49 with its 2.2 average rating, followed by CBS (1.7 average), Univision (1.4), ABC (1.0) and NBC (0.9). CBS takes the top spot in total viewers with 6.3 million, followed by Fox (5.4 million), ABC (4.7 million), Univision (3.7 million) and NBC (3.5 million).

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Director Steven Soderbergh, Whose 'Candelabra' Was a Success for HBO, Joins Forces With Cinemax

Director Steven Soderbergh is following up the success of his HBO movie "Behind the Candelabra" by joining forces with another pay-cable channel.

The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that Soderbergh will direct all 10 episodes of a new Cinemax series called "The Knick," which is set in the Knickerbocker Hospital in New York City, circa 1900. The series stars Clive Owen, who will also executive produce along with Soderbergh.

The piece reports: "Cinemax's airing of an original series directed by Soderbergh is a further sign that the pay-cable channel is branching out from its traditional programming slate of pulpier and racier material, with such current series as the softcore 'Femme Fatales,' 'Lingerie' and 'Working Girls in Bed.' It has sometimes had the nickname 'Skin-emax.'"

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Disney Cancels Comedy Series

Disney Channel has canceled a comedy series. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the cable channel pulled the plug on the live-action comedy series "Shake it Up" after three seasons.

The series stars Bella Thorne and Zendaya as best friends who end up getting jobs as backup dancers on a TV show.

The program will end after 78 episodes, although a final airdate hasn't been set. The decision to cancel the show comes after Disney said another long-running comedy, "Good Luck Charlie," would end after its fourth season, as we reported recently.

Disney is building a new comedy slate, which includes the "Boy Meets World" spinoff "Girl Meets World" and a series about twins called "I Didn't Do It," the piece notes.


Bella Thorne and Zendaya

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Emmy-Winning Director Dies -- He Directed More Than 2,000 Episodes of a Show You've Almost Certainly Seen

A veteran television director who spent the bulk of his career with a wildly popular syndicated show has died. According to The Hollywood Reporter, "Wheel of Fortune" director Mark Corwin died Thursday in Los Angeles of cancer. He was 65.

Corwin helmed more than 2,000 episodes of the syndicated game show, and also directed some episodes of its companion show, "Jeopardy!" He worked as associate producer on "Wheel" before taking over the director's role from Dick Carson, the younger brother of Johnny Carson, when Dick Carson retired, the story says.

The Merv Griffin-created show, which debuted in 1975, has had only three regular directors, the piece notes. Corwin shared in "Wheel's" Daytime Emmy win in 2011 as outstanding game/audience participation show.

In an interview with DGA Quarterly magazine in 2006, Corwin said: "The game constantly changes. You never know what’s about to happen -- it takes total concentration. I’ve never known a director who isn’t thinking five steps ahead."

"Mark made directing 'Wheel of Fortune' look easy, and it’s no simple task," executive producer Harry Friedman said. "He loved this show and understood that the viewers have a special bond with 'Wheel,' which he never took for granted."

Corwin started his career as a stage manager, and went on to work on shows including "Hollywood Squares," "Card Sharks" and "Jeopardy!"

"Wheel of Fortune" announced Corwin's death from on location in Las Vegas, where it's filming 30 episodes. A permanent director has not been announced to succeed Corwin.

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Simulcast Set in 200 Countries for TV Show's 50th Anniversary

A simulcast in 200 countries around the world is in the works for a TV program that is about to mark its 50th anniversary. The BBC announced its plans today for the special episode of "Doctor Who," The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

The special plans are being made at least in part in an effort to avoid having spoilers circulate on the Internet before the episode airs in some countries, the story notes.

"Somewhat fittingly for a show about a time lord, it looks like 'Doctor Who' fans around the world are going to have to set their alarm clocks to make sure that they catch the series' 50th Anniversary Special this November," THR reports.

BBC Worldwide said in its statement: "It's always been our ambition to work with our broadcast partners so that international 'Doctor Who' fans can enjoy the 50th Anniversary special at the same time as the UK. We'll have more details soon about our very exciting global plans for November."

THR adds: "The episode -- which will be transmitted in 3D in Britain and accompanied by screenings in movie theaters around the country -- will begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday, November 23, in the United Kingdom, with BBC America's transmission beginning at 11 a.m. on the West Coast and 2 p.m. on the East."

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New NBC Series Casts 'ER' Alum

A new NBC drama series has added an actress known for her work on "ER" as a regular cast member. Deadline.com reports that Parminder Nagra is joining "The Blacklist."

Nagra will play Agent Margot Malik, an intelligent and strong FBI agent who becomes friends with Elizabeth Keen, a rookie FBI profiler, and becomes her mentor, the story says. Keen is played by Megan Boone.

"The Blacklist" stars James Spader as a former government agent who is on the FBI's most wanted list, but who surrenders in exchange for helping to catch the country's most wanted terrorists.

Nagra, who played Dr. Neela Rasgotra on "ER," is also known for her role in the 2002 feature film "Bend It Like Beckham," and has appeared on a number of TV series including "Alcatraz" and "Psych."


Parminder Nagra

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HBO Sheds Light on Next Project From 'Deadwood' Writer David Milch

"Deadwood" writer David Milch is poised for a return to HBO with a new project, with the pay-cable network close to giving the effort a green light, Deadline.com reports.

HBO executives Michael Lombardo and Richard Plepler talked about the project, which Milch is executive producing, during the network's Television Critics Association session. The project is called "The Money."

“It’s a look at a dynastic New York media family, a look at power, the complexity of modern urban life, in a classic Milchian voice,” Plepler said.

Lombardo added that the script "may go into production soon and we’re talking casting."

Justin Chadwick is reportedly lined up to direct a potential pilot.

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Report: Long-Suffering Wife of Eliot Spitzer Plans to Divorce Him

Silda Spitzer, the wife of former CNN and Current TV host Eliot Spitzer, is saying privately that she plans to divorce her husband after his run for New York City comptroller, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

Silda Spitzer, described in the report as Eliot Spitzer's long-suffering wife, has reportedly told her female friends that she's had enough and will file for divorce after the Nov. 5 election, the story says. Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of New York, left office amid a prostitution scandal.

The couple are also reportedly living apart, in two different homes on New York's Fifth Avenue, the story adds.

His representative said the pair are "still a couple," but Eliot Spitzer has said that he and his wife won't be seen together during the campaign. "I think it’s fair to say I’m running for office. No other member of my family is running for office. And I think the public is going to judge me, not who else is with me or not with me. She’s got a career. There are other things I think the public appreciates -- I’m out here fighting every day for them," Spitzer said at a campaign stop.

A spokeswoman for Eliot Spitzer said: "We will not comment on the absurd barrage of stories about his personal life.”

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Time Warner Cable Chief Headed Out

Time Warner Cable said its chief executive is leaving the post. The New York Times reports that the company broke the news that Glenn Britt, who has served as CEO since 2001, will retire at the end of the year.

The news brings to a head years of succession planning and months of talk about Britt's potential departure, the report notes.

Britt, 64, will be succeeded by Robert Marcus, 48. The changeover "represents a generational change both for the company and the industry. Mr. Marcus has been in line for the top job since 2010, when he was named president and chief operating officer," the story notes.

When Britt joined the cable industry in the 1970s, there were doubts whether people would pay for TV access when it was already free over the airwaves, the story points out. In the 12 years since Britt took over Time Warner Cable, it has expanded into broadband and is trying to win over businesses after some consumers switched their homes to DirecTV or Verizon FiOS, the piece adds.

Marcus told The Times that his top goals will be residential subscriptions, corporate culture and customer service.

"We’ve got to develop a level of emotional connection with our customers,” instead of competing only on price, Marcus said.


Glenn Britt

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Syfy Orders Pilot Based on Apocalyptic Fantasy Film -- Four Other Projects Also Surface as Strong Contenders at the Channel

Syfy has ordered a drama pilot for a project based on an apocalyptic fantasy movie. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel ordered a 90-minute pilot for "Dominion," which is based on characters from the 2010 movie "Legion."

The project is described as a supernatural action drama set in the future, after a war between angels and mankind has transformed the Earth. The project will be directed by Scott Stewart, who directed the feature film and who is also co-writing the script.

Syfy is also narrowing its choices for additional pickups, with four projects leading the list. They include another adaptation of a movie, "12 Monkeys," as we reported earlier this week; and "Clandestine," described as a space drama about mercenaries. Also reportedly in the running are "Proof," about a wealthy man who offers a reward for anyone who can prove there's life after death; and "Sojourn," about a space detective investigating a murder on a spaceship.

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Judge Agrees to Extend Amanda Bynes' Psychiatric Hold; Parents Seek Legal Conrol

A judge has granted a request to extend actress Amanda Bynes' psychiatric hold, TMZ.com reports. The former Nickelodeon star was put on a 5150 hold Monday, as previously reported, with that hold initially in force for only 72 hours.

Bynes' parents, Rick and Lynne, were headed to court this morning after filing an application for conservatorship over their daughter, People magazine reports. Bynes' latest troubles began when she allegedly set a fire in a residential driveway in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

The extension of the psychiatric hold was reportedly granted during a hearing Thursday in the psychiatric hospital where Bynes has been held since Monday night. TMZ reported that Bynes had her attorney at the facility, arguing to deny the extension.

Doctors reportedly argued that releasing Bynes could pose a danger to the actress and to others, TMZ noted.

The extension means that even if a judge denies her parents temporary conservatorship today, Bynes will remain in the psych ward for another two weeks, the piece adds. TMZ reports that her parents were seeking the conservatorship because they feared the extension would be denied and they wanted a means of controlling her actions if she was set free.

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Why a New Movie About Muhammad Ali Has a Mostly White Cast

The creators of the HBO movie "Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight" defended the project's white cast, with screenwriter Shawn Slovo explaining that it's a Supreme Court drama set in 1971, and there were "no black clerks and woman clerks" then, reports Deadline.com.

A TV critic asked the creators at the Television Critics Association press tour why the film had so many white characters and didn't "go into what black people were thinking” when Ali refused to be conscripted in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.

The story notes that Ali does appear in the film, but via archival footage. Danny Glover plays Justice Thurgood Marshall in the film, but otherwise the main cast is white -- including Christopher Plummer, Frank Langella and Ed Begley Jr. The movie is directed by Stephen Frears.

Slovo said: "That’s the drama we were telling. We chose to make a Supreme Court drama about the Ali case.”

Ali was arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges and stripped of his boxing title, but in 1971 the Supreme Court overturned the conviction. The movie focuses on that Supreme Court decision.

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HBO Has a Message for 'Game of Thrones' Writer George R.R. Martin, and It's a Familiar One to Fans

HBO Chief Executive Richard Plepler and Programming President Michael Lombardo have a message for writer George R.R. Martin, whose fantasy novels are the basis for the network's hit "Game of Thrones," reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The message: Keep writing.

Asked during HBO's session at the Television Critics Association press tour about the report that the show would last seven seasons, Lombardo said, "As far as I’m concerned, they can go on as long as there are stories to tell."

But he added that since the show is relying on Martin's series, which so far has published five of the planned seven books, "I know there are issues with the books and catching up."

Plepler added, "Our line to George was, ‘Keep writing.’”

“Yes. Get busy writing,” Lombardo agreed.

That's something that fans of the novels have also been urging Martin to do, given that the fifth book in the series took the author six years to complete.

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Geraldo Rivera Says Two Particular Complaints Convinced Him to Take Down Half-Naked Selfie

Fox News anchor Geraldo Rivera said he took down his infamous half-naked selfie from Twitter after he got two complaints: one from his daughter, and the other from Fox News, reports TVNewser.

As previously reported, Rivera posted the half-naked picture of himself Sunday morning, writing, "70 is the new 50." (Rivera turned 70 on July 4.)

Rivera, who gave the explanation in an interview with radio station WPLJ in New York, said he received a text from his daughter and a phone call from Fox News.

Speaking of his daughter, Rivera said she wrote in all caps, "TAKE THAT THING DOWN RIGHT NOW." He added, "I took it down the next day after I heard from Fox. I just heard from Fox to take it down, I haven’t heard the next sentence yet.”

Explaining why he posted the photo in the first place, Rivera blamed tequila, the story notes.

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Key NBC Show Sinks to Season Low

A franchise show that has been performing well this summer for NBC hit a snag Wednesday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "America's Got Talent" lost 21% from last week to sink to a season-low 2.3 average rating.

In a head-to-head showdown with Fox's "MasterChef" at 9 p.m., the two reality shows finished in a dead heat, tying for top show of the night -- just one-tenth ahead of CBS's "Big Brother," which aired an hour earlier. Fox edged NBC for a win in the demo for prime time overall.

NBC's 10 p.m. entry "Camp" also sputtered, slipping 15% from a week ago to record a 1.1 average in viewers 18-49. The "America's Got Talent" recap show at 8 p.m. delivered a 1.6.

CBS followed "Big Brother" -- whose 2.2 in 18-49 equaled last week's number -- with repeats of "Criminal Minds" (0.9) and "CSI" (1.1).

Fox's repeat of "MasterChef" at 8 p.m. pulled a 1.2 in the 18-49 demo.

ABC rolled out mostly repeats, with a fresh installment of "The Lookout" managing a 0.8 at 10 p.m., matching last week's average.

For prime time overall, Fox took a narrow win with a 1.7 average rating in adults 18-49, followed by NBC (1.6 average), CBS (1.4), Univision (1.3) and ABC (0.8). NBC came out on top in total viewers, averaging 7.1 million to lead CBS (5.6 million), Fox (4.3 million), Univision (3.3 million) and ABC (2.9 million).

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TV Veteran Will Produce Lindsay Lohan's OWN Series

The high-profile Lindsay Lohan docuseries is gaining momentum at Oprah Winfrey's OWN. As we reported previously, Lohan has what has been reported as a $2 million deal with the cable network.

The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that veteran producer Craig Piligian is on board, along with his Pilgrim Studios banner. Piligian was also behind OWN's "Raising Whitley," the story notes.

Piligian will executive produce the eight-hour Lohan docuseries, which will focus on Lohan's attempt to put her career back on track and avoid the kinds of distractions that have derailed her in the past. The show is scheduled to roll out in 2014.

"For Pilgrim, the Lohan vehicle marks his latest foray into the unscripted arena, joining a long roster of titles including 'The Big Brain Theory,' 'My Fair Wedding,' 'The Ultimate Fighter,' 'Wicked Tuna,' 'Top Shot,' 'Top Hooker,' 'Swamp Pawn,' 'Dirty Jobs' and 'American Chopper,' among scores of others," the story reports. "Piligian also executive produced TV movie 'Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial.'"

Piligian, who reportedly has not yet met with Lohan, called the project a "work in progress," telling THR: "Lindsay is a great subject, a great actress and we're really excited to be in business with her. We're excited about the project and can't wait to get started."

The report notes: "News of the Lohan docuseries comes as the actress has struggled with her sobriety, making headlines during the filming of Lifetime's high-profile Elizabeth Taylor TV movie 'Liz & Dick' and the feature 'The Canyons.' Most recently, her efforts to return to the success she had with 'Mean Girls' and 'Herbie' have included arcs on Fox's 'Glee' and FX's Charlie Sheen comedy 'Anger Management,' with the vocal actor noting Lohan held the production 'hostage' after delivering 'half a show,' often arriving two hours late."

An interview with Lohan by Winfrey is set for Aug. 18 on "Oprah's Next Chapter."

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Lindsay Lohan

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Oprah Sets Visit to 'Letterman' -- Her First Since Landmark Appearance in 2005

Oprah Winfrey is finally ready for a return visit to CBS's "Late Show with David Letterman" -- her first since a highly publicized appearance on the show eight years ago.

"Her return, which will take place Aug. 1, marks her second visit to the show -- the first was that aggrandized appearance in 2005 when she promoted the Broadway musical 'The Color Purple,' which she produced," the Los Angeles Times reports. "It was a historic TV moment (for some). It seemed to signal a burying of the hatchet after a 16-year feud -- apparently the product of a 1989 dine and ditch tab, which was later compounded with Letterman's infamous Uma-Oprah joke as host of the Academy Awards in 1995. It's a feud that Winfrey implied was all in Letterman's head when she appeared on his show."

Letterman has since appeared on "Oprah's Next Chapter" on Winfrey's OWN cable channel.

This time around, the catalyst appears to be Winfrey's upcoming film project.

"Since she can't interview herself (wait, it's Oprah -- she probably can?), Winfrey is heading to the 'Late Show' once more to get the word out about her upcoming film 'Lee Daniels' The Butler,'" the Times reports. "In it, the network executive stars as Gloria Gaines, wife of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker,) who served as a White House butler. The film, which is based on the account of former White House butler Eugene Allen, is set for an Aug. 16 release."

Here's a look at what went down last time Winfrey visited Letterman's show:

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Anne Heche Inks Multiyear Deal With Universal

Actress and producer Anne Heche has signed a multiyear first-look production pact with Universal Television, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

"Under the new pact, the former 'Save Me' star will star in Universal TV programs that would air on NBC or on other broadcast and cable networks," the story reports.

Said Jennifer Salke, president of NBC Entertainment: “Anne has proven, time and again, to be both a wonderfully gifted actor and a hard-working producer with fantastic taste. We’re looking forward to working together on all fronts.”

The report notes: "Heche recently starred [in] and executive produced 'Save Me,' which wrapped up its one-season run on NBC in June. She will also recur on 'The Michael J. Fox Show,' which premieres Sept. 26 as part of NBC's new Thursday comedy block."

Heche has had a successful run in features but also has a solid track record in television, including an Emmy nomination for "Gracie's Choice" in 2004 and a Daytime Emmy win for "Another World" in 1991. Her other TV credits include "Men in Trees" and "Hung."


Anne Heche

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Former WB Exec to Lead Ad Sales for Twentieth

The former head of ad sales for Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution will lead media sales at Twentieth Television. Twentieth announced that Michael Teicher has been named executive VP, media sales.

Teicher will be based in New York and will report to Greg Meidel, Twentieth Television president. Teicher, who will oversee sales for 20th Century Fox TV and Debmar-Mercury programming, succeeds Joe Oulvey.

In a statement announcing the move, Meidel said: “Michael is a tremendous addition to the Twentieth Television team. Having overseen media sales of some of syndication’s most popular and influential properties, he is poised to bring his strategic thinking and decades of expertise within the ad sales community. Michael will plan, position, and execute advertising strategy and brand integrations for Twentieth Television and Debmar-Mercury.”

The announcement adds: "As part of his responsibilities, Teicher oversaw the operation responsible for selling national advertising time for such first-run series as 'TMZ,' 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show,' 'Extra,' 'The People’s Court,' 'Judge Mathis,' and 'Bethenny' as well as off-network series 'Big Bang Theory,' 'Friends,' 'Two and A Half Men,' 'The Middle' and 'The Closer,' to name a few."

Teicher was previously with Replay TV, Turner Broadcasting and Major League Baseball.

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KTVU Producers Fired Over Fake Asiana Pilots' Names

KTVU-TV has fired at least three producers over an embarrassing mistake in which the station aired fake names of Asiana airline pilots involved in a July 6 crash at San Francisco International Airport, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Investigative producer Roland DeWolk, special projects producer Cristina Gastelu and producer Brad Belstock were let go after an in-house investigation into the July 12 gaffe, the story says. A fourth producer, Elvin Sledge, said he is leaving for health reasons.

As previously reported, the station aired incorrect, prank names of the pilots on the jet that crashed earlier this month, such as "Captain Sum Ting Wong." The report led Asiana Airlines to say it would sue the TV station for damaging its reputation, although the airline later said it would not go through with the lawsuit.

The fake names, which had been posted on the Internet days before the TV broadcast, were sent to the station via email from an expert who had previously provided information to the station, the story says.

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'American Idol' Sued, Accused of Racial Smear Tactics

"American Idol" has been hit with a lawsuit filed by 10 former contestants from various seasons of the Fox singing competition, TMZ.com reports. The contestants, who are black, allege they were unfairly booted from the show because of their race.

They're suing for at least $25 million each, the story says.

"The contestants have accused producers of conducting a 'cruel and inhumane' scheme to exploit them for ratings by illegally digging up their arrest histories and using the records to humiliate them on national TV," TMZ reports. "The contestants [are] Corey Clark (Season 2), Jaered Andrews (Season 2), Jacob John Smalley (Season 2), Donnie Williams (Season 3), Terrell Brittenum (Season 5), Derrell Brittenum (Season 5), Thomas Daniels (Season 6), Akron Watson (Season 6), Ju'Not Joyner (Season 8), and Chris Golightly (Season 9)."

The report adds: "The contestants' lawyer claims the show used the arrest info to make his clients appear to be 'violent criminals, liars and sexual deviants' ... when they weren't. In fact, none had ever even been convicted of the charges stemming from their arrests.

"Worse, the lawyer claims ONLY black people were ever probed about their alleged criminal pasts ... never white people."

The 10 men are accusing the show of discrimination and other issues, and reportedly want "American Idol" to launch anti-racism policies.

"Not only do the contestants feel they got the shaft, they claim their lives have been ruined by the show's racist portrayals," TMZ adds.

Representatives for Fox and show producer FremantleMedia were not commenting, the piece notes.

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Keith Olbermann on How Things Will Be Different This Time

Keith Olbermann, who has had contentious situations almost wherever he has worked in television, is plotting his return -- and he says things will be different this time around.

Citing comments Olbermann made at the Television Critics Association press tour, the Los Angeles Times reports that the veteran political commentator and sports reporter is determined to have fun on television again with his return to the ESPN family for a new show on ESPN2.

Olbermann said his stints at MSNBC and Current TV "took a lot out of me, and were not that much fun." He added, "I had fun doing 'SportsCenter.'" The piece notes that he clashed with his employers during his time at "SportsCenter" in the 1990s, ultimately departing ESPN "in a furor and with bad feelings" -- a pattern that was repeated at MSNBC and Current.

Olbermann denied that he has been banned from discussing politics by ESPN, as has been reported, but noted that the new program is a sports show. The program, "Olbermann," will include commentary, interviews, contributors and panel discussions.

The weeknight show launches Aug. 26.

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Keith Olbermann

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Top Comedy Executive Steps Down at Fox

A high-ranking executive on the comedy side at Fox is stepping down. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that Senior VP Marcus Wiley, who has been co-heading the network's comedy department, is leaving to shift into producing.

Wiley is reportedly finalizing a multiyear first-look deal with the network. Suzanna Makkos, who has been running the department with Wiley, will now run the unit alone, the story says.

Wiley started at the network in 1999 as an assistant to David Nevins, but left to work at the William Morris Agency for five years, the piece notes.

"He is known in the industry for his temper and passion for talent," Andreeva writes.

Wiley rejoined Fox in 2008, and helped bring several shows to the network's comedy lineup, including "Raising Hope," "New Girl" and "The Mindy Project."

Andreeva writes: "But after recently turning 40, Wiley started pondering what his end game would be. 'I came back to Fox to learn the mentality on a high level and take that into being a producer,' Wiley said."

He plans to focus on live-action and animated comedy projects, and will also expand into drama, the story adds.

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'Princess Bride' Actor Cast as Lead in USA's 'Horizon'

An actor who starred in the 1987 feature "The Princess Bride" has been cast as the male lead in USA Network's "Horizon." The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Cary Elwes signed on for the sci-fi period drama set in World War II.

The project is about a secretary at the FBI, played by Ruth Bradley, who finds out that her husband may have been killed by a spaceship, leading her to discover a potential alien invasion.

Elwes' role is Max Hartman, a man with a double life, the story says. The casting brings him back to USA after a turn on "Psych."

"Horizon" is executive produced by Gale Anne Hurd of "The Walking Dead," along with "Burn Notice's" Bridget Tyler, who is also writing the script.


Cary Elwes in "The Princess Bride"

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CNN and CBS News Veteran Joins Al Jazeera America

Another TV news veteran has signed on with the new cable channel Al Jazeera America. TVNewser.com reports that the channel hired Joie Chen, a veteran of CNN and CBS News, as the anchor of its prime-time newsmagazine "America Tonight."

Chen most recently worked as a media consultant in Washington, D.C., after leaving CBS News in 2008. Before that, she worked at CNN and CNN International for more than decade.

"America Tonight" will include contributor Soledad O'Brien, and will air weeknights at 9 p.m.

"I’m thrilled to create world-class journalism with some of the best in the business,” Chen said in a statement. “'America Tonight' will bring together the powerful and diverse voices of Al Jazeera America and stand out from other networks with its fearless, unbiased reporting.”


Joie Chen

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Longtime 'SNL' Cast Member Leaving the Show

One of the regulars on NBC's late-night sketch comedy show "Saturday Night Live" is leaving the show after a long run.

Last night, Wednesday, July 24, 2013, on "Late Show with David Letterman," Jason Sudeikis, who has been with "SNL" for about 10 years, said he's departing and won't be back in the fall.

His long list of celebrity impressions includes a number of political figures, such as Bill Clinton, Howard Dean and Joe Biden, along with Donald Trump, Chris Matthews, Glenn Beck, Wolf Blitzer and many others.

Here's Sudeikis making the announcement on Letterman:

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CBS Creates Saturday Morning Block Aimed at Teens, With Shows From Jamie Oliver, Laila Ali

CBS is creating a three-hour Saturday morning programming block aimed at teens, with shows featuring TV chef Jamie Oliver and sports personality Laila Ali, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

The block will debut Sept. 28 and comes out of a partnership with independent TV producer-distributor Litton Entertainment. The programming will be branded as "The CBS Dream Team, It's Epic!"

The shows will be aimed at viewers 13-16, and will focus on themes such as healthy eating and people with significant achievements, the story adds.

Oliver's show is called "Jamie Oliver's 15-Minute Meals," and will feature the chef making quick meals while delivering nutritional information.

Other shows include "All In with Laila Ali," where Ali will profile inspirational people, and "Lucky Dog," featuring animal trainer Brandon McMillan, in which he rescues untrained dogs and helps them find homes.

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CBS and Time Warner Cable Extend Deadline, Fueling Hope That Blackout Will Be Averted

CBS and Time Warner Cable extended their current contract, averting a deadline that would have led to a blackout of CBS stations in big cities including New York and Los Angeles, reports The New York Times' Bill Carter.

The two sides said after 11 p.m. Wednesday, hours before the deadline of 9 a.m. today, that they had extended the deadline through 5 p.m. next Monday, the story reports.

Carter writes, "CBS had made public statements asking for an extension in the negotiations, while Time Warner Cable was holding off on agreeing to one. But the decision to extend makes a showdown much less likely. In previous standoffs between networks and cable companies over compensation for station signals, extensions have generally meant neither side wants to push the dispute to the point where cable customers lose access to channels."

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Hulu Pulls Out of Talks With Time Warner Cable

The owners of the streaming site Hulu have called off negotiations with Time Warner Cable in which the cable operator was attempting to acquire a 25% stake in the streaming service, reports Reuters.

The talks ended after the two sides failed to agree on a price. While negotiations may start up again at some point, no further talks are currently planned, the article notes.

Hulu's owners -- 21st Century Fox, Comcast and Walt Disney -- started negotiating with Time Warner Cable after calling off a sale in early July.

Reuters notes: "The reported end of the latest round of discussions marks another blow for Hulu and its media conglomerate owners, which last shopped the five-year-old video service unsuccessfully in 2011."

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'Revolution' Actress Joins New NBC Medical Drama

An actress who was one of the stars of season one of NBC's post-apocalyptic drama series "Revolution" has been cast in the new NBC medical drama "Night Shift." Deadline.com reports that Daniella Alonso, who played Nora Clayton on "Revolution," is joining the new series.

Alonso will appear on "Night Shift" as Landry, the only psychiatrist on weekend night shift at a hospital ER in San Antonio, Texas.

Alonso has also been seen on "One Tree Hill," "CSI," "Law & Order" and other TV series, along with features such as "Black Knight," "The Hills Have Eyes 2" and "The Collector."


Daniella Alonso

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ABC Buys Hourlong Comedy from 'Parenthood' Producers

ABC has bought a comedy from "Parenthood" producers Jason Katims and Sarah Watson, reports Deadline.com.

The untitled project is about a woman struggling to climb the ladder at a Chicago law firm, the story says. The project, written by "Parenthood" co-executive producer Watson with Katims supervising, was first developed last season and sold to Fox amid bidding from Fox, ABC and NBC.

Fox, though, ended up picking male-focused shows, and ABC followed up once the script was released, the story adds. ABC is refocusing the project so that it better fits the network's lineup.

Katims, who's also known for "Friday Night Lights," has a new series, "About a Boy," coming up at NBC.

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Video: Jimmy Fallon Riffs on His New Baby

In an opening monologue that some fans are calling his cutest ever, Jimmy Fallon gushed about becoming a father on last night's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon."

Here it is:

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ABC and Clear Channel Unveil Major Partnership

ABC and Clear Channel today announced a major partnership that brings ABC content including "Good Morning America" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live" to digital radio. The deal makes Clear Channel's newly launched iHeartRadio Talk the exclusive digital radio platform for a range of ABC content.

As a part of the pact, iHeartRadio will help select talent for "Good Morning America's" 2014 summer concert series, and iHeartRadio DJs will be featured on "GMA."

The deal includes ABC News programming such as "Nightline," "20/20" and "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," along with the morning talk staple "The View."

"The agreement delivers on ABC’s dedication to expanding its network and channel brands across multiple platforms while connecting viewers with some of their favorite ABC shows via iHeartRadio, Clear Channel’s industry-leading digital radio platform," the announcement states. "Through the new iHeartRadio Talk feature, launching today in beta, each show will have a dedicated show page featuring the best highlights on-demand. In addition, 'Good Morning America' will produce exclusive extras."

Please click here for additional details on the partnership in the companies' announcement.

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Doctors Seek to Keep Amanda Bynes Institutionalized as a Theory Surfaces About What's Wrong With Her

Doctors are seeking to extend the 5150 psychiatric hold on actress Amanda Bynes, with the initial hold only sufficient to keep the troubled 27-year-old in lockdown for 72 hours, TMZ.com reports.

As we reported previously, Bynes was held for psychological evaluation after an incident Monday in Thousand Oaks, Calif., in which she started a fire in a residential driveway -- and spilled gasoline on her dog in the process.

The latest theory about what's going on with Bynes focuses on possible schizophrenia, with TMZ reporting that she's exhibiting signs of the disorder.

The website reports: "Medical professionals and others will seek a 2-week extension on her 5150 psychiatric hold so doctors can properly diagnose her ... sources familiar with the situation tell TMZ."

The report adds: "People close to Bynes are convinced she's suffering from mental illness, specifically schizophrenia."

The driveway incident may be the tipping point for efforts by those close to Bynes to help the former Nickelodeon star.

"Sources tell us ... Amanda's parents will now ask a judge to put the 27-year-old in a conservatorship, a la Britney Spears, because they believe she is unable to care for herself and could be a danger to others," TMZ reports. "Amanda's parents have wanted to take action for the past couple of months -- but they didn't have the goods because Amanda's conduct was not so over the line that a judge would take away her freedom."

Bynes will not be charged with a crime in connection with the latest incident, TMZ reports separately. However, she still faces a number of legal issues, including DUI charges in Los Angeles and reckless endangerment and marijuana charges in New York City, the piece notes.


Amanda Bynes

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Fox Loses Appeal Over Dish's Ad-Skipping 'Hopper' Device

In a blow to broadcasters' efforts to slow the march of ad-skipping technology, a federal appeals court today rejected an appeal by 21st Century Fox in its case against Dish Network's "Hopper" device.

Reuters reports: "The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court judge's refusal to temporarily halt sales of Dish's Hopper, which contains the ad-skipping feature known as AutoHop, and a related 'marsupial-inspired' product called the Joey."

AutoHop was introduced last year and is offered on programming recorded using Dish's PrimeTime Anytime feature, which "lets subscribers record Fox, ABC, CBS and NBC prime-time programs with one click, and replay them commercial-free starting the day after they broadcast. Recordings can be saved for eight days," Reuters reports.

Broadcasters have argued that AutoHop amounts to copyright infringment and threatens their ad-based business model. With about 14 million subscribers, Dish is the nation's second-largest satellite provider.

"Last November, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in Los Angeles said the parent of the Fox Broadcasting Co network did not deserve a preliminary injunction to stop sales of products featuring AutoHop or PrimeTime Anytime," the story reports. "She said Fox failed to show that it would likely prevail on its copyright infringement and breach of contract claims, or otherwise face irreparable harm if sales were to continue."

The report adds: "Writing for a three-judge 9th Circuit panel, Circuit Judge Sidney Thomas agreed that the copyright claims might fail because it is 'the user, not Dish' who makes the alleged illegal copies of Fox programs such as 'Glee' and 'The Simpsons.'

"He said the breach of contract issue was a 'much closer call' given Dish's 2010 agreement to disable fast-forwarding through commercials in 'video on demand' programs."

The story adds: "But applying a 'very deferential' standard of review, he said Gee 'did not clearly err' in concluding that PrimeTime Anytime more closely resembled a DVR."

In today's ruling, the court did not address the merits of the Fox case, the piece notes.

The report adds: "Wednesday's decision could 'encourage other pay-TV providers to offer similar services,' wrote Christopher King, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus. 'We suspect broadcasters are factoring potential ad-skipping losses into their demands for retransmission-content payments from Dish.'"

CBS and NBC have also sued Dish over the Hopper.

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NBC Rolls to Prime-Time Win as 'America's Got Talent' Surges

On a night when three broadcast networks showcased franchise reality shows, NBC's "America's Got Talent" flexed its muscle and powered the network to an easy win.

Based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo, "Talent" was a big winner over Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" and ABC's "Extreme Weight Loss."

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that all three reality shows rolled out fresh two-hour installments, with the Fox and ABC shows airing at 8 p.m. and the NBC show coming on at 9 p.m. "America's Got Talent" finished as the top show of the night with a 2.8 average rating in viewers 18-49 -- up 12% from last week -- while "So You Think You Can Dance" lost 7% from its July 9 episode to settle for a 1.4, and "Extreme Weight Loss" equaled its 1.1 average from a week ago.

NBC opened prime time with a "Hollywood Game Night" repeat (1.0 average in 18-49), while ABC aired its "20/20" special "Royal Baby" at 10 p.m. and drew a 0.9.

CBS ran a night of drama reruns and wound up in fifth place among the broadcast nets.

For prime time overall, NBC's 2.2 average rating in the 18-49 demo led the way, followed by Univision (1.6 average), Fox (1.4), ABC (1.0), CBS (0.8) and CW (0.6). NBC also handily won total viewers, averaging 7.9 million to lead CBS (6.0 million), Fox (4.1 million), Univision (4.0 million), ABC (3.9 million) and CW (1.6 million).

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Long-Running Sitcom to End Its Run

A comedy series that has been closing in on a decade on television will soon wind down. Rolling Stone magazine reports that the FX sitcom "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" is ready to end its run after its 10th season.

Writer and actor Glenn Howerton told the publication that the show will end after a decade on the air because there's "a certain point where you wear out your welcome and we don’t want to do that."

The show, which will premiere its ninth season on FX's sister network FXX in September, has never been nominated for an Emmy, the publication notes. Asked about that snub, Howerton said, "I’m always blown away by it. Matt Weiner, [who] created the show 'Mad Men,' is a big watcher. He used to come to visit us a couple times on set. The 'Game of Thrones' showrunners DB Weiss and David Benioff are huge fans. So much so they wanted to write an episode -- we’ve never let anyone else write an episode before, but we let them. So I don’t know where the disconnect is."

Howerton added, "In a lot of ways, it’s kind of our fault, because we never go to the parties, you know, the events you're supposed to. We’ve never really played the game."

Asked whether he will go to the parties and events this year, Howerton said, "I don’t know, maybe in the 10th season, just because it’s the last season and for the sake of the show, maybe we’ll try to butter some people up. But then again part of me wants to be like, 'Fuck you fucking motherfuckers, man.'"


Glenn Howerton

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'Curb Your Enthusiasm' Actor Is Sued Over Parking Lot 'Road Rage' Incident

In an incident that sounds like a storyline from the show, one of the stars of HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" has been hit with a lawsuit over what has been described as a case of road rage over a parking space.

The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq. reports that actor Jeff Garlin, who's also an executive producer on "Curb," was sued over an incident in a parking lot in which he's accused of smashing a woman's car window with his fist and screaming "crazily."

The incident got Garlin arrested last month, as we reported previously, although the Los Angeles city attorney later dropped the charges, the piece notes.

But a civil lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, with the plaintiff alleging the incident happened when she was in the parking lot of a Studio City CVS pharmacy. The woman says she "made a face" at Garlin after he refused to move his car so she could park.

Garlin allegedly "got out of his car, followed her from behind and slammed his fist against the driver's side window so hard that it broke the glass." He also allegedly "stuck his face in front of her in a threatening way, gave her the 'finger' and screamed crazily at her."

The plaintiff said she didn't recognize the comedian. Her companion took a photo of Garlin's license plate and called the police, who then arrested the actor.

The woman is seeking unspecified damages "in an amount subject to proof at trial."

Garlin's representative didn't have a comment on the lawsuit, the story adds.


Jeff Garlin

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Leslie Moonves Warns CBS Employees to Prepare for Blackout

CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves warned employees that the company's television stations may get blacked out by Time Warner Cable if negotiations stall before a deadline this week, reports the Los Angeles Times' Company Town.

"There is a very real threat that Time Warner Cable is going to drop our stations in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas," Moonves wrote in a memo to employees that was obtained by the publication.

The two sides have until 9 a.m. Thursday to strike a new deal, after the deadline was pushed back a day, reports TVNewser. The deadline had been Wednesday, but that falls within a sweeps period, and FCC rules don't allow blackouts to fall during the ratings periods, the report notes.

The two sides are negotiating fees paid by Time Warner Cable to CBS to carry its TV stations, with the negotiations affecting only stations owned by CBS, and not all affiliates, the Los Angeles Times adds.

"Still, that could translate to several million viewers in three key markets and could harm CBS's ratings," the story points out.

Moonves wrote, "Cable is a very, very profitable business, and Time Warner Cable can certainly afford to pay CBS a fair rate for our programming without passing any added cost on to its customers." He added, "According to its own billing statements, it is already charging its subscribers more than $20 a month for broadcast programming."

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ABC Orders Limited Series

ABC has ordered a limited series scheduled to air in 2014. Deadline.com reports that the network ordered the Cold War drama "The Assets," based on the book "Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed."

The book was written by CIA officers Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille, who tracked down Aldrich Ames, a mole within the agency who leaked information to the Soviet Union that led to the deaths of at least 10 Soviet agents who spied for the U.S., the story says.

The series will be produced by ABC News' Lincoln Square Productions. Audiences have been interested in Cold War dramas, such as FX's new show "The Americans," which looks at spying between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, the piece points out.

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'Friends' Star Offers Definitive Word on Long-Rumored 'Friends' Movie

One of the former stars of "Friends" offered what may be the most definitive statement yet on a long-rumored movie based on the beloved NBC sitcom.

Lisa Kudrow tells CNN there won't be a movie based on the show, and adds, "There was never a 'Friends' movie."

After reading a few months ago that NBC was going to do a movie, she wondered whether it was true, she said.

Kudrow, who played Phoebe Buffay for the show's 10 seasons, tells the publication, "Well, I knew there wasn't ever a movie. There was never a 'Friends' movie. Ever. So I've always known it's not happening. But with this last rumor someone came up with a great graphic with the couch and it looked like a real teaser and I went, 'Wait!'"

The actress adds: "And then someone came up with a fake story and got some publication to buy the lie that there was going to be a reunion, so I saw on Twitter people were posting this article that NBC was really going to do it. And I went, 'Wait a minute, was I not invited? Oh my God, maybe there is one and I wasn't asked to do it.' I even had a moment where I believed it because everything around it looked real. It was a good setup."

But Kudrow added that the show's creators have put the rumors to rest. "I don't know who else needs to say, 'It's really not happening,'" she said.

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Lisa Kudrow

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More Details Surface About Amanda Bynes Incident, Including Dog Doused With Gasoline -- Video Shows Her Frantic Effort to Get the Dog Cleaned Up

More details have surfaced about an incident Monday night that landed former Nickelodeon star Amanda Bynes in lockup for mental evaluation. Bynes accidentally got gasoline on her pet Pomeranian while setting a fire in a woman's driveway, and ran into a liquor store to try to clean off the dog, reports TMZ.com.

As previously reported, the actress was hospitalized Monday night on a 5150 -- an involuntary psychiatric hold -- after setting a small fire in a residential driveway.

Bynes was caught on surveillance video entering the liquor store just minutes after she reportedly set the fire in Thousand Oaks, Calif. She entered a restricted "employees only" area while holding her dog in outstretched arms.

The cashier, concerned something was wrong, left the register and followed Bynes to find out what was going on. The owner of the store told TMZ that the cashier smelled gasoline and saw Bynes trying to rinse off the dog in a sink in the back area. After the cashier confronted Bynes, she reportedly "freaked out" and left the store, the article says.

The website later reported that the dog was OK after being turned over to Bynes' parents.

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NBC's 'Parks and Recreation' Bringing Aboard a TV Legend

"Parks and Recreation," NBC's only returning fall comedy series, will feature an appearance by a TV comedy legend. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that "Happy Days" star Henry Winkler has been cast in a guest role on the show.

Winkler will play Jean-Ralphio's father, although it's not clear whether the father will be as crazy as his son, played by Ben Schwartz. Last season, the show tapped "Saturday Night Live" alum Jenny Slate to play Jean-Ralphio's sister.

Winkler, who played the Fonz on "Happy Days" and more recently appeared in "Arrested Development," will appear in the sixth-season premiere and possibly return for future episodes, the story says.

The show will return Sept. 26 with an hourlong episode set in London.


Henry Winkler

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Baby Bump? Cable Nets' Extensive Coverage of Royal Birth Barely Registers

The birth of the royal baby was all over cable news networks on Monday, but the ratings barely budged, reports TVNewser.com.

News of the birth was announced during the 3 p.m. hour, with the formal announcement from the palace placard coming during the 4 p.m. hour, the story notes. Fox News and MSNBC were up slightly from their yearly averages in total viewers, while CNN doubled its yearly average.

"In other words, there was viewer interest in the birth, but the ratings were far lower than other recent events, like the Zimmerman trial and the Asiana crash," the piece notes.

Numbers for the 3 p.m. hour in the key news demo of adults 25-54 show CNN on top with 304,000, ahead of FNC's 225,000 and MSNBC with 109,000. FNC moves ahead at 4 p.m. with 326,000 to CNN's 316,000 and MSNBC's 105,000.

Fox News is way ahead in total viewers for both hours. At 3 p.m., FNC leads with 1.643 million, followed by CNN with 875,000 and MSNBC with 426,000. At 4 p.m., Fox is on top with 1.812 million, ahead of CNN with 1.001 million and MSNBC with 467,000.

"The Duchess of Cambridge went into labor in the middle of the night, so yesterday’s morning programs all led with the impending birth. None of the morning cable programs saw any sort of royal baby ratings bump," the report notes. "As usual, 'Fox & Friends' was first in both total and demo viewers, followed by 'Morning Joe' and 'New Day.'" the piece reports.

The report adds: "In prime time and total day, Fox News led cable news in total viewers and the demo, with CNN second, and MSNBC third. A replay of 'Will & Kate Plus One' helped CNN edge 'On the Record' for the top demo slot at 10 p.m., though it was the only hour CNN edged out FNC."

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IFC Renews Comedy Series

IFC has ordered another season of a comedy series. The Los Angeles Times reports that the cable channel renewed the show "Maron," a comedy starring comedian and podcaster Marc Maron, for season two.

The show was renewed for 13 half-hour episodes, up from 10 for its initial season. The series tracks what the publication calls Maron's "sad and foolish adventures." He also serves as the show's creator, writer and executive producer.

“In many ways, Marc is a perfect representation of IFC and our approach to comedy,” Jennifer Caserta, president and general manager of IFC, said in a statement. “He also seems to be in need of a less dysfunctional family, so we’re happy he’s returning to ours for an expanded second season."


Marc Maron

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TV Reunion for John Travolta, Kirstie Alley

Actor John Travolta will make a rare television appearance, reuniting with his "Look Who's Talking" co-star Kirstie Alley when he guest stars on TV Land's new original sitcom "Kirstie," Deadline.com reports.

Travolta will play a stagehand working on a Broadway show starring Alley's character, Madison Banks, a stage performer. The show tracks Madison's son Arlo, whom she gave up at birth, and who hopes to reconnect with her.

"Cheers" veteran Rhea Perlman stars as Madison's assistant, while "Seinfeld" alum Michael Richards plays her driver.

"I’m excited about working with Kirstie again, in addition to such terrific talent on the show,” Travolta said. “It’s always a treat to be surrounded by people you respect so much both personally and professionally.”


John Travolta

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Lifetime Working on TV Movie With Heather Graham and Ellen Burstyn

Lifetime has greenlighted a TV movie that will star Heather Graham and Ellen Burstyn. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel is adapting the bestselling V.C. Andrews' novel "Flowers in the Attic" for the project.

The novel is about four siblings -- two boys and two girls -- who are abused by their grandmother (Burstyn) after their father dies and their mother (Graham) abandons them. Their family has a hidden, dark secret, which leads the grandmother to lock up the children in the attic.

The book was adapted into a 1987 movie starring Louise Fletcher and Victoria Tennant, which wasn't well received.

Burstyn is an Oscar winner for her work in the 1974 movie "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore," and has received a total of six Oscar nominations. She won an Emmy in 2009 for a guest appearance on "Law & Order: SVU."


Ellen Burstyn

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NBC's 'Chicago Fire' Casts 'True Blood' Actress

NBC's "Chicago Fire" has added an actress from "True Blood" for the show's second season. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the show is bringing aboard Michelle Forbes.

Forbes will play a top consultant with the State Fire Marshal's Office named Gail McLeod, who keeps track of the city firehouse's budgets and performance.

On "True Blood," Forbes played a maenad named Maryann Forrester. Forbes is also known for her roles on "The Killing" and "Battlestar Galactica," on which she played Admiral Helena Cain.

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Michelle Forbes

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NBC Inks Long-Term Pact With Major Sports Organization

NBC has signed a deal that will give it lucrative rights to one of the biggest sports in America. USA Today reports that the network has finalized a deal with NASCAR.

The auto racing sanctioning body severed future broadcast ties with Turner Sports and ESPN, the story reports. Rights to the sport's top division, the Sprint Cup Series, will be shared by NBC and Fox starting with the 2015 season.

"NBC and NASCAR agreed to a contract that runs from 2015-2024, but didn't release financial terms of the deal," USA Today reports. "NBC picks up the last 20 of a scheduled 36 points Sprint Cup races, and they could air Sunday afternoons as a lead-in to Sunday Night Football. Fox and NBC will share TV rights to the Nationwide Series, which has aired on ESPN since 2007."

The deal sets up a situation similar to the NASCAR broadcast deal that was in place from 2001-2006, when Fox and NBC also split the season.

NBC Sports Network will carry 13 of NBC's 20 races each year, the piece notes.

Highlights of what NBC picks up, according to USA Today, include:

-- the final 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races (7 on NBC, 13 on NBCSN)

-- the final 19 NASCAR Nationwide Series races (4 on NBC, 15 on NBCSN)

-- NASCAR K&N Series and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour events

-- NASCAR Toyota (Mexico) Series events

Live streaming rights are also covered in the pact.

USA Today adds: "Fox Sports announced an eight-year contract extension with NASCAR last fall that runs from 2015-22. The $2.4 billion deal, which was a 36% increase over the current eight-year contract that expires next year, included the Daytona 500, 12 other Cup races, the Camping World Truck Series and practices and qualifying sessions."

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CBS Summer Hit Continues to Rise; Feeble Season Premiere for Another Summer Drama

CBS continues to see audience growth for one of the few new scripted series that has succeeded this summer. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that Monday's installment of "Under the Dome" was the top show on broadcast prime time Monday night, based on Nielsen overnights.

"Dome" rose 4% from a week ago in the key 18-49 rating, delivering a 2.8 average rating. The rest of the CBS lineup consisted of repeat programming, but CBS still finished in a three-way tie for first place among the broadcast networks for prime time overall, equaling Univision and ABC with a 1.7 average.

At the other end of the ratings spectrum, CW's "Breaking Pointe" returned for its second season and managed only a 0.2 average rating in 18-49 -- losing 50% from the number for its premiere a year ago.

ABC was paced by a 1.9 average in the 18-49 demo for "The Bachelorette," which was up 6% from last week. The network's 10 p.m. drama "Mistresses" also showed signs of life, rising 20% from last week to a 1.2 average.

NBC's lineup of all-original programming was up, but was only good enough for fourth place among the broadcast networks, with the Peacock averaging a 1.3 for prime time in viewers 18-49. "American Ninja Warrior" equaled last week's 1.6, "Get Out Alive With Bear Grylls" climbed 8% to a 1.4, and the "Dateline" special "The Royal Baby" delivered a 1.0, improving 20% on the 0.8 turned in by "Siberia" in the 10 p.m. slot a week ago.

Fox went with all repeats and came in a distant fifth among the broadcast nets.

For prime time overall, Univision, ABC and CBS led the way in adults 18-49 with 1.7 averages, followed by NBC (1.3 average), Fox (0.7) and CW (0.2). CBS came out on top in total viewers with 6.8 million, followed by ABC (5.7 million), Univision (4.2 million), NBC (4.0 million), Fox (1.9 million) and CW (632,000).

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Paramount Puts TV Division in Hands of Digital Exec

Paramount has named a president of its new television division, with an appointment that makes it clear the company is making digital a high priority. Variety reports that Amy Powell was named president of Paramount Television.

"Powell will continue to head up Paramount’s digital entertainment branch as well as InSurge Pictures," the story reports. "The move marks the first appointment since Par started the television division, which will finance and develop television for all platforms for digital episodic content to prime-time series."

Said Paramount Chairman & CEO Brad Grey: "Amy has proven herself to be a highly-talented, innovative and creative executive. Her skill and experience working across all platforms, at engaging audiences, and, most recently her work at Insurge, will be instrumental as we build a versatile television operation.”

Variety adds: "Sources say that this new division is not meant to be a new CBS but will act more like what Lionsgate does, which has developed such television shows as 'Weeds' and 'Mad Men.'”

Powell has overseen Paramount's digital division for the past two years.

The report adds: "The exec told Variety that Paramount will be open to inking overall deals with scribes and other television creatives, and that she aims to 'have very open doors to the creative community. … We want them to look to us as a flexible, nimble TV studio.'"

Powell added: “The shows that will make us successful are unpredictable and explore rich landscapes, while capturing the cultural zeitgeist today and not being derivative.”


Amy Powell

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Former Nickelodeon Star Hospitalized for Mental Evaluation After Odd Incident

A former Nickelodeon actress with a history of legal troubles and bizarre behavior was reportedly hospitalized Monday night on a 5150 -- an involuntary psychiatric hold. TMZ.com reports that Amanda Bynes was brought in after starting a small fire in the driveway of a residence.

"Law enforcement sources tell us, the fire department responded to the home in Thousand Oaks, Calif., around 9 p.m. -- near where Amanda was just accused of trespassing -- after someone noticed the small blaze in the driveway. The sheriff's department was subsequently called when Amanda was found standing near the campfire," TMZ reports. "When sheriff's deputies arrived, they questioned Amanda about what she was doing, and why she was doing it -- and based on her answers, they determined she needed to be hospitalized on a 5150 hold. Translation: her answers were really wacky."

The 5150 hold for mental evaluation means Bynes car remain locked up for as long as 72 hours. "Britney Spears was famously taken in on a 5150 in 2008 during her pre-conservatorship period," the report notes.

TMZ talked with the woman who lives in the house where the incident occurred, and she apparently did not know Bynes and was unaware of the incident until she was told about it by authorities.

"Cops then described to her that there was a young lady in her driveway, who had lit a fire and was carrying a little red gas tank," the report notes. "The homeowner says cops told her Amanda had burned part of her clothing."

Bynes made a name for herself on the TV shows "All That," "The Amanda Show" and "What I Like About You" along with feature films such as "What a Girl Wants" and "She's the Man." More recently she has been getting attention for her run-ins with the law, such as this incident in New York City back in May.


Amanda Bynes

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Al Jazeera America Staffs Up, Names ABC News Veteran as President

Al Jazeera America, which is less than a month away from its scheduled Aug. 20 launch, has hired an ABC News veteran as its president, TVNewser.com reports. Kate O'Brian will fill one of the two top roles at the fledgling network.

O'Brian will oversee the network's news gathering and programming. She has been with ABC News for three decades, serving as senior VP of news for the network, in charge of breaking news, since 2007.

The new network also announced the hiring of three other veterans of TV news, the Associated Press reports.

"Three other Americans who have extensive experience in television news, but aren't working there currently, will join Al Jazeera as senior vice presidents," the AP reports. "David Doss, a producer for news shows at ABC and NBC News who had most recently been producing broadcasts for Anderson Cooper at CNN, will be in charge of news programming."

The AP report adds: "Marcy McGinnis, currently teaching journalism at Stony Brook University, will be responsible for news gathering, similar to a job she held at CBS News a decade ago. Shannon High-Bassalik has run local news operations, worked at MSNBC and most recently produced CNN's morning news show before it was remodeled. She will be in charge of documentaries and programs."

Mostefa Souag, acting director general of the Al Jazeera Media Network, said of O'Brian: "She is a highly experienced and award-winning journalist who fully understands what Americans want to see and hear when they watch the news. Kate has the vision, tenacity and integrity to ensure that Al Jazeera America will quickly become the success we expect it to be."

The network is also looking for a CEO who will lead the business side, with Ehab El-Shihabi currently serving as its interim CEO. O'Brian will report to El-Shihabi for now, until a new CEO is appointed, TVNewser notes.


Kate O'Brian

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Study Spotlights a Little-Publicized TV Danger That Is Killing Children

A danger to children associated with television that hasn't previously received much attention is reportedly increasing. The number of children hurt by a television falling on them more than doubled between 1990 and 2011, NBC News reports, citing a new study of emergency room records.

More than 17,000 people under the age of 18 were treated each year for TV-related injuries in ERs, a rate of one child every half-hour, according to the study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics.

From 2000 to 2011, falling TVs caused the deaths of 215 children.

"A child’s dying once every three weeks from a TV tip-over. The numbers are going up. This is a call to action. These are 100% preventable injuries," the study’s senior author, Dr. Gary Smith, a pediatrician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, told NBC News.

One reason for the increase in injuries is that households own more TVs, and a growing number of TVs are falling from furniture that's not designed to hold the sets. For instance, 46% of tip-overs came from a TV falling from an armoire or dresser.

Additionally, flat-screen TVs, which are top-heavy, can make it easier for children to pull them over, the study found.

Smith added that the study "dispels that myth that as flat-screens came onto the market, we would see a decline in TV tip-overs. We’re seeing the opposite.”

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ABC Family Cancels Series

ABC Family has canceled a low-rated drama series. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that the cable channel made the decision to pull the plug on "Bunheads."

Despite its low viewer numbers, the show had a passionate following of fans and critics who had urged the network to give it a second season. The drama ended its 18-episode first season in February, and fans held onto hope that it would earn a renewal given the length of time ABC Family took to decide its fate.

The show, created by Amy Sherman-Palladino of "Gilmore Girls," starred Sutton Foster as a Las Vegas chorus girl who moves to a small town to teach ballet.

"The series had amazing storytelling, the most talented cast and a passionate and loyal fan base. Recognizing all of this, we took extra time to try and find ways to bring the series back for another season, but in the end it simply wasn’t possible," the network said in a statement.

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Just Like Old Times: Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold Renew Their War of Words

It was deja vu all over again, but this time the battle raged on Twitter, in full view of the public. With fans following along closely, Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold got into an online fight over old wedding videos, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Barr and Arnold were married for four years, followed by an 18-year estrangement that ended last August when Arnold appeared at Barr's Comedy Central Roast. Since then, the two have occasionally tweeted at each other.

But the fight started when Arnold tweeted he had cleaned out his garage and dumped boxes at Goodwill, including some old wedding videos, although he didn't specify which wedding they were from. (He's been married four times.)

Barr tweeted about the videos, asking whether they were from their wedding and noting that it wasn't his choice to "destroy" them. By the end, the two patched things up, but below is an excerpt from the exchange.

Tom: Cleaned out garage and dropped boxes at Goodwill. Hope someone really needs 47 remote controls, 65 phone chargers and my old wedding videos.

Roseanne: Of me? bc if they are, I would like that footage since it has my kids in it-it's not really your choice2 destroy.

Tom: It's still there. They are only charging $1 for it and the proceeds go to a good cause.

Roseanne: what the fuck is wrong with U?

Tom: What is wrong with you? So damn serious all the time

Roseanne: i'm asking you a question -- try answering it honestly. It's not THAT hard, really.

Tom: Yes mother dear

Roseanne: hey, can u answer my q?

Tom: Here's the better question: What did YOU do with your copy of our old wedding videos?

Roseanne: you took it

Tom: Let's put this petty bickering to rest and agree that The Jackie Thomas Show was awesome.

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PBS to Air Another Season of Period Drama

PBS will air a second season of a British period drama series. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the broadcaster has secured rights to the sophomore run of "Mr. Selfridge."

The U.K.'s ITV renewed the drama in February. In the U.S. the show was a ratings hit for PBS, with nearly 15 million viewers watching during its first season, the story notes. The drama stars Jeremy Piven as department-store tycoon Harry Gordon Selfridge.

The second season, which takes place as World War I is about to break out, is already filming in the U.K.

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'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' Director Signs On for TV Reboot of Classic Film

"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" director Timur Bekmambetov has joined a miniseries project that re-creates "The Wizard of Oz" in a post-apocalyptic future, reports Deadline.com.

Called "The Warriors of Oz," the Syfy project features a warrior from present-day Earth who is sent into a future Oz, where he works with three other warriors (Heartless, Brainless and Coward) to take down the evil Wizard, the story says. Bekmambetov will executive produce and potentially direct, while the project from Universal Cable Productions is searching for a writer.

The project is part of Syfy's efforts to create more miniseries, with a project based on Larry Niven's "Ringworld" also in the works.

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Royal Baby's Arrival Shakes Up Prime-Time Schedule

NBC shook up its prime-time schedule last night to cover the newest addition to Britain's royal family, while further changes were in the works elsewhere on the dial.

TVLine.com reports that NBC bumped "Siberia" Monday night for a special about the baby boy born to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. NBC pre-empted the regularly scheduled episode of "Siberia" for a "Dateline" special called "A Little Prince," which was hosted by Natalie Morales. The "Siberia" episode will air next Monday.

ABC plans to broadcast "The Royal Baby: Heir to the Throne," a special edition of "20/20" anchored by Barbara Walters, tonight (Tuesday) at 10 p.m. A repeat of "Body of Proof" had been scheduled.

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Cable Channel Buys Election-Polling Guru Nate Silver's Website

FiveThirtyEight creator Nate Silver, who has been writing a blog of the same name for The New York Times, sold his company to ESPN, reports TVNewser.com.

Silver said ESPN bought the FiveThirtyEight name and Web domain as part of a deal to have him join the network. That means that if Silver decides to leave ESPN, FiveThirtyEight will stay with ESPN and ABC.

“Our goal here is to make Nate comfortable and happy that this is his new long-term home, so he doesn’t have to do this every four years,” ESPN President John Skipper said. "We really care about smart, talented individuals who can make a difference, and we think that’s what Nate can do for us.”

Silver had a licensing deal with The Times, which allowed him to keep the rights to the name and domain. It had been anticipated that Silver would work out a similar deal with ESPN, so the company's outright sale came as a surprise to industry watchers, the piece notes.

In announcing the acquisition, ESPN reported: "Silver will serve as the editor-in-chief of the site and will build a team of journalists, editors, analysts and contributors in the coming months. Much like Grantland, which ESPN launched in 2011, the site will retain an independent brand sensibility and editorial point-of-view, while interfacing with other websites in the ESPN and Disney families."

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BBC America Joins Greek Mythology Project; 'Game of Thrones' and 'Hatfields & McCoys' Alums on Board

BBC America is co-producing a Greek mythology-focused drama, which will debut as part of the network's Supernatural Saturday in the fall. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel is joining the British fantasy drama "Atlantis."

The BBC One production is created by Howard Overman of "Misfits" and Julian Murphy and Johnny Capps of "Merlin." The show will revisit Greek myths and legends, and stars Mark Addy of "Game of Thrones" and Sarah Parish of "Hatfields & McCoys," among others.

The 13-episode series is now filming in Morocco and Wales, the piece adds.


Sarah Parish

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Univision Poised for Historic Ratings Achievement

Univision is set to end the July 2013 sweeps period as the top-rated network in both the 18-49 demo and the 18-34 demo, marking the first time the Spanish-language network will beat all of the English-language broadcasters, reports Deadline.com.

The story notes: "During the sweep, Univision is delivering an average audience of nearly 3.6 million total viewers, 1.8 million adults 18-49, 874,000 adults 18-34, and 1.1 million persons 12-34 in prime time. Those stats also put Univision in first place for the sweep among 12- 34-year-olds -- with a 30% lead over nearest competitor Fox."

"While fourth placed among viewers of all ages (ahead of Fox), Univision leaps to the top of the pack with 18-49-ers, who are the currency of most scripted entertainment programming ad sales. In that age bracket, Univision will wrap the sweep 21% ahead of second-place broadcaster Fox," the piece notes.

Univison Chief Executive Randy Falco, who spent three decades at NBC before joining the Spanish-language network, said: “Finishing the February sweep as the No. 4 network, ahead of NBC, made a major impact. Wrapping up July -- during a time when other networks are investing more than ever in summer programming -- as the No. 1 network among both adults 18-49 and 18-34 for the first time, is making history.”

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TV Series Version of '12 Monkeys' Movie in the Works

A television version of the 1995 movie "12 Monkeys" is close to a series order, with original movie producers Chuck Roven and Richard Suckle on board with the project at Syfy, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

The movie starred Bruce Willis as a criminal in a post-apocalyptic world, where humanity has moved underground after the outbreak of a deadly virus. Willis' character travels back in time to try to learn more about the virus. The film also starred Brad Pitt and Madeleine Stowe.

Roven and Suckle submitted the pitch, which may become a 90-minute backdoor pilot that could end up receiving a straight-to-series order, similar to Syfy's "Battlestar Galactica."

Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett, both of "Nikita" and "Terra Nova," will write the script, while "24's" Jon Cassar will direct the project from Universal Cable Productions.

"We have a great pilot. We're now flushing out what the rest of the series might be," Syfy President of Original Programming Mark Stern told the publication.

Syfy is considering five to six new original scripted projects for 2014, and is considering short orders of eight to 10 episodes, Stern said.

"Some may be [split runs of] 10 and 10. Our goal is to do five or six original scripted series a year and a big tentpole event miniseries that could also possibly serve as a backdoor pilot to a series as well, the way that 'Battlestar Galactica' did. It's an exciting time for us," he said.

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Rumored O.J. Simpson Sitcom Appearance Is Not Happening

Despite a report that surfaced Monday that O.J. Simpson was positioning for a role on a cable comedy series, it won't be happening, the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports.

The report surfaced in the New York Post, which said Simpson's promoter, Norman Pardo, pitched the idea of a role for the former NFL standout on FX's "Anger Management," "and was met with a resounding thumbs-up."

Simpson followed his football career with a successful move into acting before his fall from grace in the mid-1990s, with a filmography that includes "The Towering Inferno," "Capricorn One" and the "Naked Gun" movies, along with TV shows such as "Cade's County," "Here's Lucy" and "In the Heat of the Night." He also executive produced a number of TV projects.

The original report in the New York Post cited Pardo saying that an executive on "Anger Management" had called Simpson a "perfect fit" for the show.

But representatives at Lionsgate and the show said there wasn't any truth to the story. An FX exec said, "It will never happen," the Times notes.

Simpson is currently serving a 33-year prison sentence for a robbery and kidnapping conviction.


O.J. Simpson

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TV and Film Veteran Dennis Farina Dead at 69

Veteran actor Dennis Farina, known for playing tough cops -- and sometimes tough gangsters -- in a string of TV series including "Law & Order," has died. CNN reports that Farina died today at 69.

In a statement today, Farina's publicist, Lori De Waal, said: "We are deeply saddened by the loss of a great actor and a wonderful man. Dennis Farina was always warm-hearted and professional, with a great sense of humor and passion for his profession. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends, and colleagues."

"Farina, who had a long career as a police officer in Chicago, got into acting through director Michael Mann, who used him as a consultant and cast him in his 1981 movie, 'Thief.' That role led to others in such Mann-created shows as 'Miami Vice' (in which Farina played a mobster) and 'Crime Story' (in which he starred as Lt. Mike Torello)," CNN reports.

Farina's feature film roles included "Midnight Run" (1987), "Get Shorty" (1995), "The Mod Squad" (1999) and "Snatch" (2000).

"In 2004, he joined the cast of the long-running 'Law & Order' after Jerry Orbach's departure, playing Detective Joe Fontana, a role he reprised on the spinoff 'Trial by Jury.' Fontana was known for flashy clothes and an expensive car, a distinct counterpoint to Orbach's rumpled Lennie Briscoe," the story reports. "Farina was on 'Law & Order' for two years, partnered with Jesse L. Martin's Ed Green. Martin's character became a senior detective after Farina left the show."

The report adds: "In recent years, Farina was one of the stars of 'Luck,' the ill-fated HBO series about horse racing, and had an occasional role on the Fox series 'New Girl.'"


Dennis Farina

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Aereo Seen as Possible Bargaining Chip in Fight Over Broadcast Fees

With a programming blackout looming in the increasingly rancorous negotiation between CBS and Time Warner Cable, The New York Times reports that the startup Aereo service, which streams broadcast TV signals over the Internet, is surfacing as a possible bargaining chip.

"The contract dispute between CBS and Time Warner Cable is the first to unfold in the New York metropolitan area since Aereo came to market there last year. Last week, the companies warned that if the dispute was not resolved by Wednesday, CBS could be taken away from 3 million of Time Warner Cable’s 12 million subscribers," the story reports.

The piece adds: "Enter Aereo. The service, backed by Barry Diller and a number of other venture capitalists, uses giant arrays of antennas to pick up freely available television signals and stream them to the phones, computers and other screens of paying subscribers. By relying on the antennas, Aereo does not pay the kinds of retransmission fees that distributors like Time Warner Cable pay to broadcasters like CBS -- an approach that Aereo says is legal, but that the broadcasters say is not."

Industry watchers have speculated that distributors could find a way to use Aereo or a similar service to get around paying increasing retransmission fees — the fees that are at the center of the CBS-TWC dispute, the piece notes.

"While Time Warner Cable does not seem ready or willing to deploy Aereo-like technology, a spokeswoman, Maureen Huff, said Sunday that it would recommend Aereo to its New York subscribers if CBS was blacked out," The Times reports. "The distributor may also underline the fact that Aereo, which normally costs $8 a month, offers a 30-day free trial. (Ms. Huff also pointed out that many CBS shows are available online on a delayed basis, and that 'all of CBS’s broadcast TV programming is available free over-the-air,' so subscribers can use antennas.)"

The report notes that Time Warner Cable is being careful about Aereo because it is at the center of litigation after a number of major media firms filed suit. "In this case, its invocation of Aereo might be particularly corrosive because CBS has helped lead the charge against Aereo in the courts," The Times notes.

Aereo has been racking up wins in court as the litigation has proceeded, including a win last week as an appeals court declined to hear an appeal by broadcasters, as previously reported.

"Emboldened by the rulings, Aereo, which is so small that it has not shared any New York subscriber data, recently expanded to Boston and Atlanta; its next market is Chicago, it says, with many more to come," The Times reports. "But it has not announced any plans in the West Coast markets covered by the Ninth Circuit Court, where a service similar to Aereo was rejected in December. Given the uncertain state of play, Aereo is of limited use to Time Warner Cable currently; along with New York, the fight with CBS affects subscribers in Los Angeles, Dallas and several smaller markets."

Media analyst David Bank of RBC Capital Markets is cited in the story saying he wouldn't be surprised to see Time Warner Cable play the Aereo card in some way. "But he wrote in an e-mail message: 'I think it would be more of "negotiating tactic" than a real business solution,'" The Times notes.

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Cable Channel Celebrates No. 1 TV Movie of 2013

A new TV movie delivered a big audience to one cable channel, ranking as the No. 1 TV movie of the year to date. Disney Channel reported that "Teen Beach Movie," which premiered Friday, July 19, at 8 p.m., pulled in 8.4 million total viewers to rank as the day's top television program.

"A family viewing event, the movie also attracted a solid adult audience, delivering nearly 1.6 million/1.5 rating in adults 18-49, standing as the #1 telecast in the time period across broadcast and cable networks. The song, sand and surf fest, set inside a retro beach party movie, is part of the Disney Channel Original Movie franchise," the channel reported.

Additionally, the channel's WATCH Disney Channel service had its most watched week ever, with the channel crediting the movie with delivering more than 550,000 views. The service is available to customers of Comcast, Cablevision, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Midcontinent Communications, AT&T U-verse, Verizon FiOS and other multichannel distributors.

"Among major youth demos, 'Teen Beach Movie' handily became the #1 cable TV telecast of the year across kids 2-11 (4.6 million/11.6 rating), kids 6-11 (3.9 million/16.5 rating) and tweens 9-14 (3.4 million/14.3 rating) and #1 scripted TV telecast overall, behind only 'Super Bowl XLVII,'" Disney Channel reported.

The huge turnout for "Teen Beach Movie" helped its leadout, a preview of the sitcom "Liv & Maddie" (9:45 p.m.), get off to a strong start, with 5.8 million total viewers, 3.2 million kids 2-11, 2.7 million kids 6-11 and 2.4 million tweens, the channel reported. The show, which has its regular time slot premiere set for Sunday, Sept. 15, at 8 p.m., ranked as the network's No. 2 series debut of all time in kids 6-11 and its most watched in total viewers in two and a half years, since "Shake It Up" in November 2010.

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CNBC Star Shopping for Job Offers as Contract Nears End

One of the stars of cable business news channel CNBC is shopping around for job offers. The New York Post reports that Maria Bartiromo is talking with other channels in advance of the expiration of her five-year contract with CNBC, set to end later this year.

Bartiromo, 45, is using a "negotiating window" to discuss potential deals with CNN and Fox Business Network, among other channels, the story says. CNBC has suffered a ratings decline, as has her show, the piece notes.

Bartiromo reportedly earns between $2 million and $3 million a year, and has worked at CNBC since 1993. A representative for CNBC said, "She is under contract with CNBC," while CNN had no comment. A spokeswoman for FBN said, "There are no serious discussions going on.”


Maria Bartiromo

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'Two and a Half Men' Gets Back at Star Who Called the Show 'Filth'

"Two and a Half Men" star Angus T. Jones, who blasted the CBS sitcom during an episode last year that has been widely described as a meltdown, is getting left on the cutting room floor. The show's producers are editing out the actor from the show's opening credits, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

His co-stars, Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher, will still be featured in the opening sequence, potentially with an as-yet-unknown new co-star, the story says.

Jones, who is leaving for college, had already had his role stripped down to occasional appearances, after being a series regular from the beginning. The actor made headlines last year when he trashed his own show, calling it "filth," which may be another reason his role is being cut down, the story adds.

"If he's indeed sliced out of the credits, Jones will be the second of the three original 'Men' to exit unceremoniously," the story notes. "Charlie Sheen was fired a couple of seasons back after publicly tangling with producers; Kutcher replaced him. Cryer is the sole remaining star who was there when the series premiered in 2003."

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Angus T. Jones

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Stuntmen Rescue Suicidal Woman at Comic-Con

Stuntment who were in San Diego for Comic-Con sprang into action last week to pull off a rescue of a woman they spotted dangling from the balcony of her 14th-floor apartment, ABC News reports. The woman was reportedly suicidal.

"Amos Carver, a stuntman and rigger from Tuscon, Ariz., told ABCNews.com that he was setting up for a live stunt event for a private party at the convention with other stuntmen when they heard screams from across the road where they were working Thursday afternoon," the story reports.

Said Carver: "The [stunt] coordinator and I were up on a scissor lift, we were a good 30 to 40 feet in the area already working when we turned around and looked. There was just a lot of commotion -- people were screaming and pointing."

"Carver said he saw a woman hanging off the balcony railing of the 14th floor of an apartment building. He immediately brought the lift down to the ground so he and two other stuntmen, Gregg Sergeant and Scot Schecter, could grab additional gear, and race across three lanes of traffic to get to the apartment building to attempt to bring her to safety," the story reports.

The piece adds: "The three men had to scale a fence before running through the building's lobby to rescue the woman, he said. With clearance from the apartment building's manager, the stuntmen raced up to the woman's apartment, where they found the door unlocked."

Carver added: "We went through the apartment trying to be as quiet as possible. We didn't want to alert her that we were there."

"Carver said when they found the woman outside, 'she was hanging on [the balcony] with one hand, and had one foot off the ledge,'" ABC News reports. "Without thinking, Sergeant lunged and grabbed the woman from behind in a bear hug while he and Schecter rushed in."

Carver was able to place a harness on the woman, to ensure that, in his words, "even if she did slip, she couldn't go anywhere without us." The three men then brought her back into her apartment.

Said Carver, who noted that the woman was intoxicated: "She just kept saying, 'I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry,' over and over again. She was very distraught."

The report adds: "Police told ABC San Diego affiliate KGTV the woman, whose identity has yet to be released, had been drinking and was upset over a breakup."

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How CNBC Turned an Embarrassing Clip Into a PR Fiasco (Here's the Clip)

CNBC made what's being called a public relations blunder after some of its on-air personalities got a lesson in the banking system from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel "looked like a sore loser" after it ordered YouTube to take down the clip on copyright grounds.

In the clip from a "Squawk Box" interview, Warren "forcefully and gleefully" takes on challenges about financial regulation from the network's hosts, the story reports. The clip went viral, with more than 700,000 views after Upworthy and Warren's YouTube site posted it, the piece notes.

The interview is being clled an embarrassment for CNBC, and the channel's effort to squelch it online apparently only added to the embarrassment. Upworthy notes that it's common practice for politicians to post clips of their interviews on TV news outlets.

Columbia Journalism Review called the interview a "TKO" for Warren, who is sponsoring the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act along with Republican Sen. John McCain. The CJR says she made CNBC host Brian Sullivan look "downright foolish."

"No wonder NBCUniversal’s copyright order smelled fishy," the Deadline.com piece notes, adding, "The brouhaha appears to be subsiding after CNBC said that the interview is 'well worth watching' and that it 'has been available to view in multiple locations on CNBC.com since its original posting.'"

Here's the portion of the interview posted by Upworthy:

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Geraldo Rivera Tweets Half-Naked Photo of Himself After Turning 70 -- Look If You Dare

Geraldo Rivera shared a selfie of himself Sunday morning, pictured half-naked and with a towel covering his privates, writing on Twitter, "70 is the new 50," TVNewser.com reports. Rivera turned 70 July 4.

The Twitterverse responded by retweeting the image hundreds of times, but many of the comments were far from positive. A number of political pundits and TV personalities were among those responding with their own tweets. Here's a sampling from the TVNewser report:

Meghan McCain: "Thanks internet, I cannot unsee Geraldo Rivera's naked selfie. So much wrong. So. Much. Wrong..."

Michelle Malkin: "The. Horror."

David Folkenflik: "I must say that on closer review of that Geraldo near-nude selfie, I wish I hadn't more closely reviewed that Geraldo near-nude selfie."

Anthony Bourdain: "Geraldo throws his hat into the New York mayoral race"

Rivera tweeted the photo sideways, but we've rotated it to its upright position:


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'Person of Interest' Viewers Will See More of Actress

An actress who has been a part-timer on the CBS drama series "Person of Interest" has received a promotion to series regular. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the decision to promote Amy Acker was announced Saturday at the series' Comic-Con panel.

Acker's character has been revealed to be "Root," the facless hacker at the beginning of the series, the story notes. Acker, who is known for her roles on "Dollhouse" and "Angel," will appear as a full-time cast member starting with the show's Sept. 24 season premiere.


Amy Acker

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Universal Television Developing Series Based on Comic Book

Universal Television has a deal to develop a series based on a comic book. Deadline.com reports that the company will develop "Clone," based on the comic from Robert Kirkman's imprint Skybound, which is written and created by David Schulner.

The deal was announced during a Skybound panel at Comic-Con, and is part of Schulner's overall deal at NBCUniversal, where he created the short-lived NBC midseason drama "Do No Harm," which was pulled after two low-rated episodes.

"Clone" is a thriller with a sci-fi angle, asking questions about identity and nature vs. nurture, the story says. Skybound publishes Kirkman's "The Walking Dead" graphic novel, as well as publications such as "Thief of Thieves" and "Invincible."

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Fox Pushes Back 'Glee' Premiere

Fox has pushed back the premiere of the fifth season of "Glee" following the death of actor Cory Monteith, reports B&C.

Production on the show has been delayed until early August, and the show will now premiere Sept. 26, a week later than previously scheduled.

The show will pay tribute to Monteith's character Finn Hudson during the upcoming season's third episode, as previously reported. That's because the first two episodes of the fifth season, a Beatles tribute, have already been written.

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'Breaking Bad' Companion Talk Show Names Host

AMC's new companion show for "Breaking Bad" has named a host. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that "Talking Bad" will be hosted by Chris Hardwick, who hosted a similar companion show called "Talking Dead," which was all about AMC's zombie show "The Walking Dead."

The 30-minute episodes of "Talking Bad" will recap each episode in the AMC crime drama's final season, which consists of eight episodes and will premiere Aug. 11 at 9 p.m. Hardwick will also host celebrity guests who either are linked to the show or are fans, the piece reports.

His "Talking Dead" show earned strong ratings, with numbers in the 18-49 demographic that were bigger than some popular prime-time shows, the piece notes.

"Talking Bad" will air after each episode of "Breaking Bad."

"An after-show hosted by Chris seemed like the perfect way to pay homage to and count down the final eight episodes of 'Breaking Bad,' giving fans the opportunity to come together and talk about the end of this iconic series brought to life by creator Vince Gilligan and his amazing cast and crew," said Joel Stillerman, AMC's executive vice president of original programming, production and digital content, in a statement.

AMC announced initial plans for "Talking Bad" back in April when it rolled out plans for a slate of new programs, as previously reported.

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Chris Hardwick

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Show Creator Dan Harmon on the Future of NBC's 'Community'

"Community" creator Dan Harmon, appearing at Comic-Con, talked about plans for the NBC comedy series. Deadline.com reports that Harmon said he wants the show to make it beyond its fifth season, which will air in the 2013-14 season.

“I don’t consider these the last 13. I will do everything I can to get us the sixth season," Harmon told moderator Chris Hardwick.

While it's still unclear when NBC will air the show next spring, Harmon said he wouldn't change the story arcs developed in the fourth season, on which he wasn't involved. As we reported recently, Harmon was fired from the show last year, then rehired earlier this year.

“We need to re-establish these characters. I don’t want to plan too hard. We’re taking a different approach in the writers room, and we’ll be done shooting by Christmas," Harmon said.

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Apple Testing iPads and iPhones With Larger Screens

Apple is working on iPhones and tablets with larger screens, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing officials at the company's suppliers.

"In recent months, Apple has asked for prototype smartphone screens larger than 4 inches and has also asked for screen designs for a new tablet device measuring slightly less than 13 inches diagonally, [the officials] said. The current iPhone 5 has a four-inch screen, while the iPad has a 9.7-inch screen. The iPad Mini, a stripped-down version of its tablet computer, has a 7.9-inch screen," WSJ reports.

The report adds: "Whether the designs will make their way to market is unclear. The Cupertino, Calif., company routinely tests different designs for its products as it refines them during development. The company also changed its offerings of the iPhone and iPod last year to include larger screens, while adding a variant of the iPad with a smaller display."

A spokeswoman for Apple declined to comment for the story.

WSJ adds: "The tests with suppliers seem to suggest that Apple is exploring ways to capture diversifying customer needs when many mobile device makers offer smartphones and tablets in various sizes. Its biggest rival in the tablet and smartphone markets, South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co., has an 'all things to all people' strategy, covering many different product sizes to capture as many customers as possible. The move has allowed Samsung to leapfrog Apple in the smartphone market even though Apple still leads in tablets."

Said IDC analyst Helen Chiang: "In the long run, we will see touch screens in all sizes as the future vision of the technology industry is to offer the same user experience across all screens. The key is to bring down the cost and introduce compelling applications for large-screen devices."

The report notes: "Apple's move, if adopted, fits into a broader trend of mobile device makers offering many size options. Competitors including Samsung, Sony Corp. and Huawei Technologies Co. have launched smartphones with displays larger than 5 inches. The category is called 'phablets' to refer to devices that cross over between a smartphone and tablet."

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CW's 'Supernatural' Brings Back a Fan Favorite

The CW's "Supernatural" is bringing back a character who is a fan favorite. Deadline.com reports that the drama series announced the return of actress Felicia Day in her role as Charlie Bradbury.

The show, which is returning for a ninth season, will also feature an episode directed by Misha Collins, who plays the angel Castiel on the show.

Day, who is known for her roles on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog," plays a hacker on "Supernatural." Her character's reprise was announced Sunday by executive producer Robert Singer at the show's Comic-Con panel.


Felicia Day

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Wow! Pow! Zap! Next Superman Movie Will Include One of Superman's Justice League Colleagues as the Movie's Co-Star

"At the conclusion of the Warner Bros/Legendary panel at Comic-Con, 'Man of Steel' director Zack Snyder walked onstage," Entertainment Weekly reported late Saturday afternoon, July 20, 2013. "He thanked everyone for supporting 'Man of Steel' and announced, rather nonchalantly: 'It’s official: We’re making another Superman movie.' "

The story continues, "He insisted that he couldn’t say anything about the film, but explained that he had 'pored through the DC Universe to look for a way to tell this thing.' He said there was a single element of the film he could share.

"At that point, he called Harry Lennix -- who you’ll recall basically played the Nick Fury character in 'Man of Steel' -- for a charismatic dramatic reading. (How charismatic? Lennix was wearing an ascot.) He read a key line from Frank Miller’s 'The Dark Knight Returns': 'I want you to remember, Clark. In all the years to come. In all your most private moments. I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you.'

"That line is, of course, spoken by Batman."

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Current Plans Call for 'Glee' to Do a Tribute to Cory Monteith's Character Finn, But Not Until Third Episode of Season. Here's Why

For the folks at "Glee," "the current plan is to pay tribute [to Cory Monteith's character Finn] during the show’s third episode, assuming ['Glee' co-creator Ryan] Murphy and his team 'can get it perfect,'" reports Lacey Rose in The Hollywood Reporter.

Says the story, "The first two episodes of season five, a long-planned Beatles tribute, [have] already been written and will need to be tweaked slightly."  That's why the tribute to Monteith won't be until the third episode of 'Glee' next season."

Murphy told The Reporter, " 'The right thing to do for the show, at least at this point, is to have that character pass. When we do the tribute episode to that character, we'll have to do it in a way where the castmembers will not have to re-create feelings of grief that they’ve had this week -- but do it in an upbeat way. If we can do this responsibly and help young people through these feelings, that’s the best that we can hope for.' Murphy says that they don't intend to tackle the tribute episode until after the memorial [for Monteith], so much of the cast and crew are still making sense of their emotions."

According to the story, Murphy added, " 'It’s always sad and shocking when somebody so young dies, but one of the things that made it even more upsetting is that so many of us who knew and loved him were actively involved in trying to get him better,' Murphy continues, reflecting on the emergency intervention that they had with Monteith in Murphy’s office on the Paramount lot in March."

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Broadcast Ad Revenues Surge

The broadcast networks posted big gains in advertising sales in June to spur revenue growth for the second quarter of 2013, Jon Lafayette reports in B&C. The report cites figures just released by the research firm Standard Media Index.

"Total television spending was up 10% in the second quarter from a year ago. For first half of the year, TV ad revenue is up 4%," the story reports. "The broadcasters racked up a 16% increase in ad revenues in the second quarter, including more than 30% jumps at ABC, CBS and NBC in June, when the NBA Finals and the finale of 'The Voice' aired. CBS's revenues increased 27% in the quarter, ABC rose 19%, NBC gained 13% and Fox was up 8%. Univision revenues increased 28%."

The second-quarter improvement reversed what had been a downtrend, with a 5% decline in the first quarter, the piece notes. The improved results left broadcasters with a 5% improvement for the first half of the year.

"Cable network advertising revenue was up 6% in the second quarter. For the first six months of 2013, ad revenues are up 4%," Lafayette reports. "With a 31% drop in June, ESPN's ad revenues were down 7% in the quarter and 2% so far this year. ESPN's ratings were down 32% in the quarter, a plunge ESPN described as an aberration caused by a drop in NBA games and Euro Championship soccer matches. The drop meant that for the quarter, ESPN fell to second place in ad revenue behind TNT, which was up 9%."

The report adds: "Big gainers in the quarter among the top 20 cable networks by revenue included History, up 16%; HGTV, up 15%; FX and Lifetime, up 11%; and Discovery, up 10%. Big declines were registered by E!, down 20%; AMC and Nickelodeon, down 10%; and ABC Family, down 7%."

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Actress Issues Non-Apology Apology Over N-Word Rant Aimed at Oprah -- Here's the Video

Actress Rae Dawn Chong quickly went into damage control today after a radio rant about Oprah Winfrey, complete with the N-word and plenty more -- click here if you haven't heard it yet -- created an online frenzy. Chong released a video in which she attempts to add context to her remarks.

TMZ did a lot to put the word out after the initial interview aired, and now TMZ has posted Chong's "non-apology apology" video.

Here it is:

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CBS Show Hits Season High, but Univision Wins the Night

Even on a night when a CBS franchise show rose to a season high, Spanish-language broadcaster topped all of its English-language broadcast rivals in prime time Thursday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that Univision finished prime time with a 1.8 average in viewers 18-49. That was better than CBS (1.7 average), Fox (1.6), ABC (1.0) and NBC (0.9). CBS moved to the top spot in total viewers, averaging 6.0 million, followed by ABC (4.7 million), Univision (4.4 million), Fox (3.9 million) and NBC (3.8 million).

The CBS reality franchise "Big Brother" continued to turn in solid numbers for summer, rising to a season-high 2.3 average rating in the 18-49 demo, two-tenths of a point higher than last week. The rest of the CBS lineup consisted of reruns.

Fox went head-to-head against "Big Brother" at 9 p.m. with a fresh episode of "Hell's Kitchen," which held its own, shedding only one-tenth from a week ago with a 2.0 average. A recycled "Hell's Kitchen" at 8 p.m. managed only a 1.2.

ABC's lineup of all-new programming turned in improved but still less-than-stellar numbers: a 1.1 for "Wipeout" in viewers 18-49, up one-tenth from last week; a 0.8 for "Motive," matching last week's number; and a 1.1 for "Rookie Blue," up one-tenth from last week's season low.

NBC settled for a 0.9 in 18-49 for "The Winner Is ...," off two-tenths from a week ago, and a 1.2 for "Hollywood Game Night," also down two-tenths.

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Warner Bros. Unit Announces Layoffs

A unit of Warner Bros. has laid off a number of employees, Deadline.com reports. The cuts have been made in the DVD division of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. The number of job cuts was not reported.

"We’re told that the cuts involved backroom functions related to the DVD supply chain; the disc business has been steadily in decline in the industry thanks to digital delivery. The cuts were to only about one-half of 1% of the conglom’s total global workforce that numbers about 8,000, were told, and Warner Bros is looking to relocate about half of the affected workers elsewhere in the company," the story reports.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment includes the divisions Warner Home Video, Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, Warner Bros. Advanced Digital Services, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Warner Bros. Technical Operations and Warner Bros. Anti-Piracy Operations, the piece notes.

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'Game of Thrones' Actor to Star in New Cable Series

An actor who has made his mark in TV series including "Game of Thrones" and "Stargate: Atlantis" will star in a new limited series for Sundance Channel. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Jason Momoa, who played Khal Drogo on HBO's "Thrones," will star in "The Red Road" -- previously known as "The Descendants."

The project comes from executive producer Sarah Condon, writer Aaron Guzikowski and director and showrunner Bridget Carpenter, the report notes.

"The six-episode 'Red Road' is described as a hard-hitting drama that revolves around a weathered sheriff struggling to keep his family together while policing two clashing communities: the folks in the small town in which he grew up and those in the neighboring Ramapo Mountains," THR reports. "Sarah Condon ('Bored to Death') will produce, with Contraband's Aaron Guzikowski on board to pen the script. Bridget Carpenter ('Friday Night Lights,' 'Parenthood') will executive produce and serve as showrunner."

Momoa is set to play Philip, described in the report as "a Ramapo-Indian brimming with menace, charisma and hypnotic self-confidence. He attended high school with Harold, now a police officer, and his wife Jean ('Boardwalk Empire's' Julianne Nicholson) until his supposed involvement in the death of the latter's twin brother forced him to drop out and flee the state. He's now been sent back to town by his crime-lord father to establish a new base of operations for vice and mayhem."

The project is Sundance's second original scripted series, the piece notes. The channel's first, "Rectify," is set to come back for season two next year.

THR notes: "The casting comes a day after Sundance received a record 10 Primetime Emmy nominations for its miniseries 'Top of the Lake' and 'Restless.'"


Jason Momoa

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TV Station Group Going Up on the Block -- And One Major Station Is the Crown Jewel

Bids are due Monday on a television station group that's up for sale, and the consensus among industry watchers is that it will probably be sold to two separate bidders. TVNewsCheck.com reports that Allbritton Communicatons, which has a total of eight stations, is likely to sell its flagship station, WJLA-TV in Washington, to one bidder and the other seven to another bidder.

The odds-on favorite to end up with WJLA is Disney-ABC.

The piece cites an unnamed source in the financial community, commenting on Disney-ABC's chances, saying: "I would not be surprised and would be surprised at the same time. Just to have a station in Washington would make sense. But they have not bought a TV station in a long time."

The report notes: "One reason Disney-ABC might have the inside track on WJLA: The station's ABC affiliation gives the network the right to approve the transfer of the affiliation to a new owner. When Young Broadcasting infamously outbid NBC for KRON in San Francisco in 1999, NBC pulled its affiliation. Young, unable to ever overcome the economic body blow, was forced into bankruptcy in 2009."

As for the rest of the Allbritton stations, one investment banking insider says it's all about the ability to acquire duopolies.

"Gaining a duopoly is the most powerful driver behind broadcasting M&A," said Michael Alcamo of M.C. Alcamo & Co. "So the directions that Allbritton's stations will ultimately go will most likely be determined by who can establish duopolies in those markets."

The report adds: "Other possible bidders for Allbritton (possibly including WJLA), are Sinclair, Nexstar, Hearst, LIN, Meredith, Raycom, Scripps and Tribune. A key consideration is the duopoly potential in Allbritton's other markets: Birmingham, Ala. (DMA 42), Harrisburg, Pa. (DMA 43), Little Rock, Ark. (DMA 56), Tulsa, Okla. (DMA 59), Roanoke, Va. (DMA 68), and Charleston, S.C. (DMA 98)."

Sinclair and Nexstar may be the strongest contenders, the piece notes. "Sinclair has stations in Birmingham and Harrisburg and Nexstar has stations in Harrisburg and Little Rock," the story reports. "LIN has a station in Birmingham, as does Raycom. Scripps has an overlap in Tulsa. Tribune, which recently came out swinging with its $2.73 billion Local TV/FoxCo acquisition, has a station in Harrisburg."

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Why So Many Snubs in This Year's Emmy Nominations?

The Emmy nominations tend to generate at least as much interest in who got snubbed as they do in who received nominations, and "This year is a particularly brutal one, owing to the introduction, in an already too crowded TV world, of programming not specifically produced for, you know, television," writes Lisa de Moraes at Deadline.com.

A number of traditional Emmy contenders, from cable as well as broadcast, appeared to get shoved aside this year to make room for a new medium, as online streamer Netflix arrived at the Emmys party in a big way with 14 nominations.

One of the big snubs, de Moraes writes, is Tatiana Maslany of BBC America's "Orphan Black," on which she plays a con artist and six clones. Her name "started trended this morning when the academy didn’t recognize any one of her seven performances," de Moraes wrote Thursday.

Matt Weiner of "Mad Men" was "completely shut out in the drama writing derby -- a first for the AMC period drama. Yes, the academy has actually made us feel bad for Weiner -- something we didn’t think possible," she notes.

One blow for broadcast TV was the absence of a nomination for Julianna Margulies of CBS's "The Good Wife," after the actress received nods in each of the past three years.

De Moraes includes more than a dozen other snubs, such as the IFC series "Portlandia" ("Hello -- It won a Peabody") and actor Kevin Bacon of the Fox serial-killer drama "The Following" ("Bacon’s quiet scenery-chewing skills were apparently lost on the academy").

Other snubs included Melissa McCarthy -- nominated for a guest-hosting spot on "Saturday Night Live" but not for her regular gig on CBS's "Mike & Molly" -- and HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," which ended its string of two consecutive nominations for outstanding drama series.

Please click on the link in the top paragraph, above, to read the rest of de Moraes' analysis. And click here to see the full list of Emmy nominations.


Tatiana Maslany

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CBS and Time Warner Cable Ratchet Up the Rhetoric as Talks Reach an Impasse

CBS and Time Warner Cable are taking their problems public, with each starting a campaign to make the other company look bad as discussions over a new distribution deal reached an impasse, reports Joe Flint in the Los Angeles Times.

The two sides have been negotiating a contract that would keep CBS-owned TV stations on Time Warner Cable. If a deal isn't reached, the stations could come off the cable company's systems as soon as July 24, the piece notes. The blackout would affect cities where CBS owns stations, such as New York and Los Angeles.

"CBS is driving up the cost of cable TV -- charging higher and higher prices for shows they give away for free online and over the air," a Time Warner ad says.

CBS's ads let customers know they may lose their TV channel, and will also promote competitors to Time Warner Cable, the story says.

Flint writes: "It has been many years since Time Warner Cable and CBS negotiated a distribution deal. The price the cable operator is paying now for the CBS stations is well under $1 per subscriber, per month, a person familiar with the matter said.

"CBS has made no secret that it wants hefty increases for access to its content. CBS is the most-watched network and also has rights to major sports including the National Football League."

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'Color Purple' Co-Star Rips Oprah Winfrey -- Here's the Tape, Which Is Being Called a 'Racial Attack'

An actress who co-starred with Oprah Winfrey in the 1985 Steven Spielberg feature "The Color Purple" had harsh words for Winfrey in a tape posted by TMZ.com, which you can hear below.

"Rae Dawn Chong just UNLOADED on the talk show queen -- claiming O is a self-centered fat 'biotch' who would have been a 'house n**ger' back in the slave days," TMZ reports. "Rae Dawn -- who's part black -- appeared on 'Matty P's Radio Happy Hour' and talked about how her personal relationship with O went from good to really REALLY bad back in the 80s."

Chong says on the tape that Winfrey was "lovely" to her during filming of "The Color Purple," but later became "a total biotch." 

Said Chong: "I starred in 'Commando.' And she just wasn’t having me. She’s competitive. She didn’t like me. She just wasn’t having me."

TMZ, which calls Chong's tirade a "racial attack," adds: "It's clear, Rae doesn't like O either -- 'cause for the next several minutes of the interview, she ranted on and on about how much she hates Winfrey -- and stooped so low, she even took shots at her appearance and invoked slave imagery."

Chong appears to say that Winfrey would not have worked in the house, but rather would have been in the field, in slavery days. She also manages to praise Winfrey, giving her credit for "shifting the DNA" of how the nation perceives women "of a certain size and a certain shade."  

Hear for yourself:

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Group Says Heavily Emmy-Nominated Show Illustrates 'Hollywood's Hatred of Catholicism'

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights has issued a statement condemning the show that received more Emmy nominations than any other show this year.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the conservative group is targeting FX's "American Horror Story: Asylum" and its 17 Emmy nominations, calling it an example of "Hollywood's hatred of Catholicism."

The group's Bill Donohue also criticized The Hollywood Reporter and Variety for declining to run an anti-"Asylum" ad last year, before the show aired on TV.

"This show, which leads the pack with 17 Emmy nominations, depicted a Catholic home for the criminally insane run by sadistic and libidinous nuns. The plot is sinister. Characters include a nymphomaniac, a lesbian, a degenerate bully, a serial killer and a doctor who enjoys torturing patients. What a bunch!" Donohue said in the statement.

He added, "What other group receives such treatment? Once again, TV has sunk lower than we ever thought possible. Talk about crazy!"

A representative for FX wasn't immediately available for comment, the story says.

Among its many nominations, the show received Emmy nods for outstanding miniseries or movie; outstanding lead actress in a miniseries or movie for Jessica Lange, who plays Sister Jude Martin on the show; two nods for outstanding supporting actor, for James Cromwell and Zachary Quinto; and outstanding supporting actress, for Sarah Paulson.

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Popular Fantasy Trilogy Getting TV Treatment

A popular fantasy trilogy has been optioned by New Regency Productions and 20th Century Fox Television for a TV project, reports Deadline.com. The book series is "The Kingkiller Chronicle."

The novels, by Patrick Rothfuss, are about a young man named Kvothe who wants to get revenge on the mysterious group that murdered his family, the story notes. The first book, "The Name of the Wind," was published in 2007, with the second book, "The Wise Man's Fear," published in 2011. Both became New York Times bestsellers.

The third novel, "The Doors of Stone," is due next year.

The TV project will be adapted and executive produced by Eric Heisserer, who wrote the 2011 feature prequel "The Thing," with Arnon Milchan, Andrew Plotkin, Brad Weston and Robert Lawrence also executive producing.

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CW's 'Arrow' Casts 'Mad Men' Actress as Love Interest for Title Character

The CW's "Arrow" has cast a love interest for Arrow. TheWrap.com reports that the title character, played by Stephen Arnell, will be setting his sights on Caity Lotz, star of the 2012 horror film "The Pact" and also previously seen on "Mad Men."

Lotz will play the Black Canary, a character in the DC Comics franchise who is a "superhero vigilante who fights crime using martial arts and a sonic scream attack," according to a Wiki site devoted to the characters.

Lotz will start out in a recurring role, but is expected to become a series regular as her character becomes the love interest for Arrow, the piece notes. Black Canary was once ranked as the 71st greatest comic book character ever by the comic magazine Wizard, the story says.

Lotz previously had a recurring role on AMC's "Mad Men" and starred in the mockumentary "Death Valley" on MTV.


Caity Lotz

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After Calling off Sale, Hulu Will Mine 'SNL' Connection to Achieve Its Next Goal

After Hulu called off its sale and announced plans to invest $750 million in the company, the streaming site's next goal appears to be boosting its competitiveness with Netflix -- and a key step in reaching that goal is "The Awesomes," reports The New York Times.

Netflix, as evidenced by the Emmy nominations it received Thursday, has succeeded in winning over critics and fans with its original programming, the piece notes.

"With a sale averted, Hulu executives can now focus on more important matters -- promoting the site’s highly anticipated animated series 'The Awesomes,' which will make its debut Aug. 1," the story reports.

The animated show is Hulu's first original series this year, and its first-ever animated show. It features "SNL" fixture Seth Meyers as Prock, part of a team of not-so-super superheroes, the piece adds.

"Mr. Meyers is also a co-creator, executive producer and writer along with Michael Shoemaker, whose production credits include 'Saturday Night Live' and 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,'" the story reports.

The show will feature voice work by other "SNL" personalities as well, the piece notes, including Bill Hader and Taran Killam.


"The Awesomes"

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Syndication Ratings Suffer as Summer Kicks Off

Most syndicated programs were down and several access magazines dropped to season lows for the week ended July 7, as viewers turned off the TV for the long July 4th weekend, B&C reports.

"Entertainment Tonight," from CBS Television Distribution, dropped 12% to a season low of a 3.0 live-plus-same-day national household rating, the story says, citing Nielsen. CTD's "Inside Edition" also reached a new season low, sinking 7% to a 2.5 rating.

Talk shows that aired fresh programming performed better, with Disney/ABC's "Live! With Kelly and Michael" adding 4% for the week and 9% for the year, the piece notes. CTD's "Rachael Ray," also airing fresh episodes, jumped 17% to a 1.4 rating, its highest in seven weeks, the story adds.

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'Orange Is the New Black' Actress Gets Promotion

Taryn Manning has received a promotion on Netflix's "Orange Is the New Black," reports Deadline.com. Series producer Lionsgate promoted Manning to a series regular for the show's second season, which was ordered last month.

Manning plays Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett, a meth addict who is from rural Virginia. The actress has also appeared in "Hawaii Five-0" and "Sons of Anarchy," among other shows.


Taryn Manning

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TV Land Ups Its Order for Comedy Series

TV Land has ordered 10 more episodes of an original comedy series. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the cable channel increased its order for "The Exes," with its current third season performing 9% ahead of its previous season average.

The show is about three divorced men who live across the hall from their divorce attorney, a woman who is also their landlord. It stars Donald Faison, Wayne Knight, David Alan Basche, Kelly Stables and Kristen Johnston.

The additional episodes will air later this year.


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Composer Moves One Step Closer to Becoming the 12th Person to Earn an EGOT -- All Four Major Performing Arts Awards

With the Emmy nomination he received Thursday, one composer moved a step closer to achieving an EGOT -- the acronym that stands for Emmy-Grammy-Oscar-Tony, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The composer is Alan Menken, who has won Oscars for his work in Disney films such as "Beauty and the Beast." Menken received an Emmy nomination for his song "More or Less the Kind of Thing You May or May Not Possibly See on Broadway" in ABC's comedy "The Neighbors."

"His Grammy came just last year, won with Glenn Slater for the song 'I See the Light' in Disney’s 'Tangled,'" THR reports. "And months later, Menken and Jack Feldman collected a Tony for their original score to 'Newsies.'"

If he wins an Emmy, that would make him the 12th person to hold the EGOT honor, joining the ranks of Mel Brooks, Audrey Hepburn, Mike Nichols and composers including Marvin Hamlisch.

The first person to pull off the EGOT was Richard Rodgers, who accomplished the feat in 1962. Others have included Rita Moreno, John Gielgud and Whoopi Goldberg.

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'Damn You, Homer.' 'D'oh!' It's a Meeting of the Minds Between Two Animated Juggernauts, 'Family Guy' and 'The Simpsons'

"The Simpsons are going to spend some quality time with the Griffins," reports Entertainment Weekly.

The story continues, " In a crossover episode titled 'The Simpsons Guy,' Homer & Co. will be featured in an episode of Family Guy, EW has learned."

SPOILER ALERT: Here are the detaiils, according to EW: "Simpsons castmembers Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith and Hank Azaria will lend their voices to the installment, in which Peter and the rest of the Griffins embark on a road trip and wind up in Springfield. There, they cross paths with Homer, who graciously greets his new “albino” visitors, and the two families become fast friends. Stewie is impressed with Bart and his assortment of pranks, Lisa tries to figure out exactly what it is that she’s good at, and Marge and Lois do some bonding. Meanwhile, Peter and Homer argue over which beer is better: Pawtucket or Duff."

simpsons and family guy.jpg

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What 'Storage Wars' Doesn't Tell You About Storage Auctions

"Storage auctions were virtually unheard of before A&E’s 'Storage Wars' gained popularity, joining the new phenomenon of oddly specific reality shows like 'Hoarders,' 'Auction Hunters' and 'Pawn Stars.' Anyone who has ever watched an episode of 'Storage Wars' or 'Auction Hunters' may think that storage auctions are some of the most exciting, cutthroat events around, but the old adage holds true: Don’t believe everything you see on TV."

So says Jenny Zhang, a storage specialist who has written an essay on the Allstate blog.

Zhang continues, "If you’re worried about the belongings inside your self-storage unit falling into the hands of eager auction-goers, save yourself the graying hair -- having your possessions auctioned is less likely than these shows would have you believe."

Furthermore, Zhang writes: "If you’re interested in attending a storage auction in the hopes of picking up some undiscovered gems, don’t be fooled by the seemingly action-packed environment depicted on reality TV. Countless journalists have attended real storage auctions and returned with reports that they were nowhere near as exciting or dramatic:

"• Before bidding begins, bidders may preview the contents of the unit from the door. Those participating in the auction are generally not allowed to step inside the unit or touch anything.

"• After the auction, the winner of the unit usually has about 48 hours to remove the contents and clean the unit. They are not allowed to dump trash from the unit onsite."

We urge you to click on the link in the second paragraph, above, to read a lot more specifics. 

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Reality Pioneer and Longtime Fox Exec Lands Key Post at Warner Bros.

Just weeks after leaving Fox, a veteran TV executive has scored a top job with Warner Bros. Television. According to The Hollywood Reporter, reality pioneer Mike Darnell will get the job of president of unscripted and alternative programming and syndicated fare at the studio.

"The move puts Darnell in charge of the reality genre for the studio's Telepictures division as well as Warner Horizon, which produces 'American Idol' rival 'The Voice,'" the piece notes. Darnell will start in his new position Aug. 12, reporting to Peter Roth, president of Warner Bros. TV.

Darnell told THR: "It's what I wanted to do, which is to stretch my fingers out. There are so many more platforms out there now and Warner Bros. has a great presence in all of them."

The report adds: "The move, Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara's first major executive hire since he was elevated to run the studio in January, comes after Darnell spent 18 years at Fox, where he played an integral role in building the network as a destination for edgy, unscripted TV. In his early days there, that meant producing such headline-grabbing specials as 'When Animals Attack!' and 'World’s Scariest Police Chases.' Next came the wave of noisy reality series, such as 'Temptation Island' and 'My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance.' And more recently, his unscripted territory has been defined by the bigger, G-rated tent-pole franchises such as 'American Idol' and 'The X Factor.'"

Darnell had a reputation as a hands-on executive at Fox, the report notes. "In the case of 'Idol,' which reigned for years as TV's most-watched program but has suffered ratings declines in recent seasons, Darnell was present at every taping -- often with his mother in tow," THR reports.

The report adds: "The new appointment reunites Darnell with Roth, who was president of Fox Entertainment from 1996-1999. Darnell also has close ties to 'Voice's' Mark Burnett as well as Mike Fleiss, creator of 'The Bachelor' franchise who made several shows for Darnell at Fox. Quips Darnell: 'I just wanted to work for another company with a Peter and a Kevin.'"


Mike Darnell

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NBC Rolls to Nightly Win Even as New Series Slips

NBC beat its broadcast rivals in the prime-time ratings Wednesday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the Peacock Network averaged a 2.0 rating in the demo for prime time.

The win came despite minor erosion for NBC's new 10 p.m. series "Camp," which slipped one-tenth of a point from last week's premiere to a 1.4 average in viewers 18-49 -- still just good enough to win the hour in the demo.

Pacing the NBC win was "America's Got Talent," which held steady to last week with a 2.8 in the 18-49 demo, leading out from a repeat episode of the series at 8 p.m. (1.8 average).

The highest-rated show at 8 p.m. was CBS's "Big Brother," which continues to attract more viewers since the reality show began dealing with racism issues a few weeks ago. "Brother" ticked up one-tenth from last week in adults 18-49 to a 2.1.

Second-place Fox's "MasterChef" delivered a 2.1 with a fresh installment at 9 p.m., losing two-tenths from a week ago.

ABC followed two hours of repeats with a fresh episode of "The Lookout," which finished third behind NBC's "Camp" and CBS's "CSI" repeat at 10 p.m. with a 0.8 average in 18-49, an improvement of one-tenth from the series low a week earlier.

For prime time overall, NBC's 2.0 average led the way in the 18-49 demo, followed by Fox (1.6 average), CBS (1.5), Univision (1.4) and ABC (0.7). NBC also outpaced the competition in total viewers with 7.7 million, followed by CBS (5.7 million), Fox (4.4 million), Univision (3.7 million) and ABC (2.7 million).

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Emmy Voters Redefine Television as Netflix Crashes the Party

Industry watchers are digesting this morning's news that an online series, Netflix's "House of Cards," crashed television's biggest annual awards party in a big way, grabbing nine Primetime Emmy nominations, with the online streaming site -- which brought in a total of 14 nominations -- also receiving recognition for "Arrested Development" and "Hemlock Grove."

Writing for TheWrap.com, Steve Pond says that in acknowledging "House of Cards" in particular, "Emmy voters rewrote the definition of television."

"In an extraordinarily competitive Outstanding Drama Series category, Television Academy voters put a show that rolls out new episodes all at once up against five that stick to the traditional timeline of once a week," Pond writes. "And for only the second time in history (albeit the second year in a row), voters in the Emmys' drama category went with a slate of shows that didn't contain a single series from any of the broadcast networks."

As Bruce Rosenblum, president of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, said in his comments introducing the nominations: "Television is on broadcast, on cable and on demand on the Internet."

Writes Pond: "WIth these choices voters conceded that it's a brave new world in television, making Beau Willimon's political drama a game-changer that parlayed Netflix's multi-faceted Emmy campaign into nods for actors Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright (though surprisingly not supporting-actor candidate Corey Stoll).

"The presence of 'House of Cards' in a category that also included perennial nominees 'Mad Men,' 'Breaking Bad,' 'Downtown Abbey,' 'Homeland' and 'Game of Thrones' likely edged out FX's Cold War series 'The Americans,' which was considered the other new show with a chance of breaking into the category."

Pond notes in his analysis that Netflix fell just short of a double play with the failure of "Arrested Development" to earn a nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series, which he says is "one of the few areas in which the broadcast networks still hold their own with the likes of 'Modern Family,' 'The Big Bang Theory' and '30 Rock.' Those three series are vying with FX's 'Louie' and HBO's 'Girls' and 'Veep.'

"But 'Arrested' did land three nominations after a return that received mixed reviews. Among its nods were an Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series nod for Jason Bateman."

Netflix also received two nods for "Hemlock Grove."

"A few favorites were left out in the cold in a largely predictable group of nominations: past winners Julianna Margulies for 'The Good Wife' and Jon Cryer for 'Two and a Half Men,' Steve Buscemi for 'Boardwalk Empire,' which also failed to land a drama-series nod, and, in the comedy-actress category, former winner Melissa McCarthy ('Mike and Molly') and last year's nominee Zooey Deschanel ('New Girl')," Pond adds in his piece for TheWrap.

"Perhaps most surprisingly, two-time winner Eric Stonestreet became the only one of the six main cast members of 'Modern Family' not to land a supporting actor or actress nomination; while Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ed O'Neill, Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara were all nominated, Stonestreet was left out for the first time in the show's four years on the air."

Please click on the link in the second paragraph, above, to read the rest of Pond's analysis of the Emmy nominations. And click here for a full list of the Emmy nominees.

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Video: Cory Monteith Leaves a Video Message for a Fan on His Final Airline Flight

"Glee" star Cory Monteith recorded a short video while he was on his flight to Vancouver, where he was found dead Saturday from an overdose of drugs and alcohol, as previously reported.

In the video, posted on YouTube, the actor appears to give advice to a fan, saying "Stay out of trouble. And stay in school." "Good Morning America" called it Monteith's "final message" to a fan.

Meanwhile, Monteith's "Glee" co-stars have begun to open up about his death, as seen in this video posted by USA Today:

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Reality Show Contestant Sues Over Disappointing Prize, Accuses Show of 'Lying to the American Public'

A contestant who scored a win on a reality TV show filed a lawsuit after his prize from the show failed to live up to his expectations, The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq. reports.

The show is Food Network’s "Giving You the Business," which premiered April 25 and recently wrapped up its first season on the air. In the show, "competing food service employees are put to the test with unexpected challenges in their eateries. The competitors do not know they are being filmed by hidden cameras -- and whoever performs best wins his or her own franchise of the episode’s featured restaurant," THR reports, adding: "That’s the way it’s supposed to go, at least."

The winner on the episode that aired May 23, Kris Herrera, who managed a New York location of the frozen yogurt franchise 16 Handles, filed the suit, saying he was promised his own 16 Handles location.

"Instead, he claims, all he received was a single, non-transferable, non-voting share of common stock in 16 Handles’ parent company," the story reports. "Now Herrera has sued the Food Network and parent Scripps Networks. In a complaint filed July 16 in a New York court, he also targets as defendants 16 Handles founder Solomon Choi and parent companies Yogurt City and Yo Fresh and Food Network producer Cineflex."

THR adds: "Herrera says he was first told in a 'ruse and deception' that he had been selected to participate in filming a 'corporate video' for the yogurt chain and instructed to submit photos of his family. Later, he says he was assigned a seven-hour shift in which he dealt with 'situations of embarrassment and ridicule that placed him in a negative light.'

"Herrera then says that he, along with other store managers, were told to report to a TV studio where it was revealed that they had unknowingly been a participant in the show. They were told of the premise of the show and allegedly promised that one of them would win a franchise location."

But soon after completion of filming on the episode, according to Herrera, things began to turn sour as he was told by Food Network that he would only be awarded "part of a franchise," or a "stake in a franchise," according to the lawsuit.

"His inquiries about exactly what percentage he would receive went unanswered, he claims, and three days before the airing, he received the disappointing stock share," THR reports. "He has sued for breach of contract, fraud and violation of his right to privacy and publicity. The complaint states he 'would have never allowed the episode that showed him in situations of embarrassment, ridicule, defamation and false light to air … if he was not going to be awarded his own franchise store and if he was only going to be awarded a single, non-transferable, share of stock.'"

The report adds: "According to the complaint, after he was told that he had won his own franchise store, Herrera was presented with a release form, which the plaintiff contends 'was a condition to his being awarded his very own franchise store.' The contract waives or transfers much of Herrera's legal rights but the plaintiff is disputing its enforceability."

Herrera issued a statement in which he said: “I feel like it’s a total fraud. They lied to me and they are lying to the American public. Every week dozens of people come into the store and congratulate me on winning my own franchise store. They don’t know all I got was the shaft.”

Reps for Food Network declined to comment for the story.

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MSNBC Legal Analyst Found Dead

A private-practice attorney who was a legal analyst for MSNBC has been found dead. Citing a report from the Cliffview Pilot, TVNewser.com reported Wednesday night that Jay Fahy died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Fahy appeared on the network in June to talk about the George Zimmerman trial, and also contributed to CNBC.

Fahy was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head by two men walking under a railroad trestle at a location near his office in Rutherford, N.J., the Cliffview Pilot reported. There wasn't any sign of foul play, but police are investigating, the piece adds.

Fahy was reportedly a former prosecutor who specialized in white-collar crime.


Jay Fahy

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2013 Primetime Emmy Nominations Announced. Netflix Gets Nods for 'House of Cards' and 'Arrested Development'; Commercial Broadcasters Snubbed Again in Outstanding Drama Category -- We Have the Complete List of Nominees

With 14 Primetime Emmy nominations, Netflix has made TV history. Never before has a network that is neither primarily a broadcast or cable network broken through with Primetime Emmy nominations in the major categories.

Furthermore, for the second year in a row, the major commercial broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC -- have been snubbed in the Outstanding Drama category.

For the complete list of Primetime Emmy nominees, please click here.

In Outstanding Drama the nominees are: “Breaking Bad,” “Downton Abbey,” “Game of Thrones,” “Homeland,” Netflix’s “House of Cards” and “Mad Men.”

For Outstanding Comedy the nominees are: “The Big Bang Theory,” “Girls,” “Louie,” “Modern Family,” “30 Rock” and “Veep.”

The nominees for Best Actress in a Drama series are: Vera Farmiga, (“Bates Motel”); Michele Dockery (“Downton Abbey”); Claire Danes (“Homeland”); Robin Wright (“House of Cards”); Connie Britton (“Mad Men”); and Kerry Washington (“Scandal”).

The nominees for Best Actor in a Drama series are: Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”); Hugh Bonneville (“Donwnton Abbey”); Damian Lewis (“Homeland”); Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”); Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”); and Jeff Daniels (“Newsroom”).

For Best Actress in a Comedy series the nominees are: Laura Dern (“Enlightened”); Lena Dunham (“Girls”); Edie Falco (“Nurse Jackie”); Amy Poehler (“Parks and Recreation”); Tina Fey (“30 Rock”); and Julia-Louis Dreyfus (“Veep”).

For Best Actor in a Comedy series, the nominees are Jason Bateman (“Arrested Development”); Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”); Matt LeBlanc (“Episodes”); Don Cheadle (“House of Lies”); Louis C.K. (“Louie”); and Alec Baldwin (“30 Rock”).

HBO received by far the most nominations of any network with a total of 108. Among the broadcast networks, CBS and NBC tied with 53 nominations apiece, followed by ABC with 45. Pay-cable channel Showtime received 31 nods, while basic-cable channels FX and AMC each had 26. PBS received 25 nods and Fox had 19.

Netflix's 14 bids put the streaming site ahead of Lifetime, with 12 nominations, while History and Sundance Channel racked up 10 nods apiece.

Again, please click here for the full list of Primetime Emmy nominations.

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Shakeup at the Top for ABC Studios

ABC Studios, the TV production arm of Disney-ABC Television Group and the largest producer of programming for the ABC broadcast network, has had a shakeup at its highest level of management. The Los Angeles Times' Company Town reports that Barry Jossen is out as head of the studio, and will be replaced by Patrick Moran.

Moran was most recently the senior vice president of development for the studio, the report notes.

The shakeup comes after ABC ended the 2012-13 season in third place in total viewers and fourth place among adults 18-49. The only new shows from the past season to earn second-season orders were "Nashville" and "The Neighbors," the piece points out.

Jossen, who served as executive vice president of ABC Studios since 2009, has signed a production deal with the unit, the story adds.

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Olbermann's New Deal With ESPN: What the Network Won't Let Him Do

As part of ESPN's deal to rehire Keith Olbermann, the television host is banned from talking about a certain subject, The New York Times reports. According to the report, Olbermann has agreed not to discuss politics.

As part of his deal to host a one-hour evening show for ESPN2, he is allowed to speak on issues outside of sports, such as pop culture and current events, except for politics, the story says. He signed a two-year deal with the network that will bring him back later this year.

The story notes, "Within ESPN, there was concern about asking Olbermann back because he left the network under emotionally charged circumstances and because it was feared by some that Olbermann had become too politicized as the host of his interim MSNBC program 'Countdown,' which aired from 2003 through January 2011."

Olbermann addressed the issue of his ban on a conference call Wednesday, TVNewser reports.

“The idea that I would want to do anything that was not specifically sports related -- even in a political context -- I don’t know where this came from. If I wanted to do politics I would still be doing politics. This is something else," Olbermann said.

He added, "If Barack Obama runs onto the field during the All-Star Game, we will talk about it. If George W. Bush wanted to talk baseball I would be happy to have him, but we are not going to talk politics."

The show, called "Olbermann," will debut Aug. 26, TVNewser says.

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ABC Renews Drama Series

Just four episodes into its current season, ABC has announced a renewal for a drama series. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the network renewed the Canadian cop show "Rookie Blue" for a fifth season.

Even though the drama has dipped slightly this season, it's still one of the network's strongest originals, the story notes. The most recent episode earned a 1.0 in adults 18-49, losing out to NBC's "Hollywood Game Night."

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'Glee' Moving Ahead Without Cory Monteith

"Glee" is moving forward without star Cory Monteith, who was found dead Saturday from a drug overdose in a Vancouver hotel room, reports TMZ.com.

The show isn't canceled and its writers called an emergency meeting to figure out how to work his character out of the story, the piece notes.

The producers are looking at shows such as "8 Simple Rules" and "The West Wing," which also lost actors due to death. In the case of "8 Simple Rules," which lost star John Ritter due to an undiagnosed aortic dissection, the ABC comedy took a two-month break and returned with a "goodbye" episode. It also added James Garner and David Spade to fill out the cast.

TMZ cites a source close to the production saying: “'Glee' is definitely not canceled. If you look at the dollars and cents of the show and that it was very much an ensemble with new kids being added last year when some graduated -- it’s clear that the show wasn’t about one character."

The source adds: "No decision has been reached about a script yet, as it’s still early."

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for cory-monteith.jpg

Cory Monteith

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MSNBC's 'The Cycle' Names Daughter of Former Presidential Candidate as New Co-Host

MSNBC's "The Cycle" has named the daughter of a well-known politician who ran for president in 2012 as a new co-host. TVNewser.com reports that the show is bringing aboard "HuffPost Live" host Abby Huntsman -- the daughter of former Utah Gov. and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman.

Abby Huntsman made the announcement on "HuffPost Live." She's replacing S.E. Cupp on "The Cycle," with Cupp leaving to co-host the revived "Crossfire" on CNN, the story notes.

Abby Huntsman

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NBC's J.J. Abrams Project Loses Showrunner

An NBC project from Warner Bros. TV and J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot Productions has lost its showrunner, with Mark Friedman departing "Believe" on his own accord, Deadline.com reports.

The parting was agreeable, the story notes. While Friedman, who is also the co-creator, is leaving, the show's other co-creator, Alfonso Cuaron, will remain as executive producer with J.J. Abrams. TheWrap.com reports that the departure was due to "creative differences," and that a search is on for a showrunner to replace Friedman.

The project is about a 10-year-old girl with special powers, who ends up protected by a former death-row inmate.

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In-Demand Writer-Producer Team Behind Fox's 'Fringe,' CBS's 'Hawaii Five-0' Switches Studios, Signs Three-Year Pact

The veteran writing-producing team behind such shows as Fox's "Fringe" and CBS's "Hawaii Five-0" signed a three-year overall deal with CBS Television Studios, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, with their K/O Paper Products TV President Heather Kadin and manager of TV development Aaron Baiers, will develop television projects for the studio, the story says.

They are moving to CBS TV Studios from 20th Century Fox Television.

“Alex and Bob are two of the most coveted writer-producers in features and television for an important reason. They have a unique perspective on what it takes to develop a modern-day blockbuster,” said CBS TV Studios President David Stapf.

The two met in high school and worked together on "Hercules" before moving to "Xena: Warrior Princess."

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'Sherlock' Actor Joins HBO's 'Game of Thrones'

An actor from the British series "Sherlock" has been cast in HBO's "Game of Thrones." EW.com's Inside TV reports that Mark Gatiss, who plays Mycroft Holmes on "Sherlock," is joining the HBO series.

Gatiss' role is being kept quiet, the story notes. "Maybe showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss will say more at their Comic-Con panel on Friday?" the piece asks.

"Thrones" added a number of new roles in its second and third seasons, while the fourth season has already seen the casting of Pedro Pascal in the role of Prince Oberyn "The Red Viper" Martell.


Mark Gatiss

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FX Orders Comedy About a Toxic Romance

FX has ordered a comedy pilot about a toxic, self-destructive relationship. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel ordered "You're the Worst," written and created by Stephen Falk.

Falk, who is a co-executive producer and writer on "Weeds" and on Netflix's "Orange Is the New Black," also created and executive produced the NBC comedy "Next Caller," the story says.

FX has been ordering comedy projects, giving a pilot order to "Man Seeking Woman" and ordering an unnamed Martin Lawrence project with a 10/90 order, similar to Charlie Sheen's "Anger Management." The order includes an initial production of 10 episodes, with an additional 90-episode order triggered if the first 10 reach a ratings threshold.

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Kim Kardashian Opens up About Motherhood

Reality television star Kim Kardashian, who has been quiet since giving birth to her and Kanye West's baby girl, took to her blog to write a brief post about motherhood, notes The Hollywood Reporter.

"These past couple of weeks have been filled with the most exciting experiences of my life. I’m enjoying this time to fully embrace motherhood and spend time at home with my family," she wrote in the short blog entry.

Kardashian's daughter, North, was born June 15. The baby was born a month early because of medical complications related to preeclampsia, which causes high blood pressure and swelling, THR notes.

Kris Jenner, Kardashian's mom, said on her new talk show, "Kris," that her daughter is enjoying her privacy. "And when she comes out, she comes out!" she said.

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Is This a First? TV Movie That Only Got Modest Ratings -- But Was a Huge Sensation with Social Media -- Gets a Sequel

We guess this was inevitable. A TV movie that was only moderately successful in the ratings -- but was a sensation with social media -- is getting a sequel.

Syfy has announced that " 'Sharknado 2,' a working title, will be produced by The Asylum, the company behind last week's Syfy TV movie 'Sharknado' that created a social media frenzy despite its relatively modest ratings," reports The Hollywood Reporter.

The story continues, "Syfy also announced a Twitter contest to name the sequel. Fans will be able to tweet their subtitle to @SyfyMovies using #Sharknado. The network will select the best submission as the sequel's subtitle."

Another THR article notes: "In its inaugural broadcast, 'Sharknado' brought in 1.4 million total viewers, with 566,000 among adults 18-49, 617,000 in the 25-54 demo and 209,000 in the 18-34 grouping," which is on-par with other Syfy original moviies.

In the article announcing "Sharknado 2," THR adds: "Said Syfy executive vp programming and original movies Thomas Vitale: 'Every once in a while, there is a perfect storm -- on television. The fans are clamoring for a sequel. Or perhaps it will be a prequel. What we can guarantee is that "Sharknado 2" will be lots of fun. We’ll be announcing more details very soon. But we didn’t want our fans to worry they wouldn’t get their fill of more shark fin, I mean, fun next year.' "

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Syndie Hopeful 'The Meredith Vieira Show' Already Outwits the Competition With NBC Station Deal

"The Meredith Vieira Show" has passed its first hurdle by clearing the 10 NBC owned-and-operated TV stations. The show -- which will be distributed by NBC Universal -- got its first major break thanks to the demise of "Survival" host Jeff Probst's talk show, which had been airing at 2 p.m. on a number of the NBC O&O's.

Here's what NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution said in making the announcement:

NBCUniversal Domestic TV Distribution today announced the new daytime program “The Meredith Vieira Show” has been sold to the NBC Owned Television Stations for its Fall 2014 debut.

The new one-hour talk show starring award-winning TV personality Meredith Vieira, will air on the 10 NBC Owned Television Stations, which include WNBC New York, KNBC Los Angeles, WMAQ Chicago, WCAU Philadelphia, KXAS Dallas-Fort Worth, KNTV San Francisco, WRC Washington DC, WTVJ Miami, KNSD San Diego and WVIT Hartford. The NBC Owned Stations represent more than 27% of the nations’ TV households.

“We couldn’t be happier to welcome Meredith Vieira to our 10 stations next year,” said Valari Staab, President, NBC Owned Television Stations. “With her genuine warmth, intelligence and likeability, as well as her extraordinary ability to understand and connect with viewers, Meredith is a great addition to our daytime lineup. We look forward to the Fall of 2014.”

Produced in New York City on a set that resembles her home, “The Meredith Vieira Show” is a multi-segmented, exciting hour that will blend the host’s unique point of view, empathy, and sense of humor with insightful storytelling that will make viewers laugh, learn and feel inspired. Each day, the show will offer a unique blend of daytime fun with a mix of feel-good human interest stories from everyday people to celebrity guests who have an important story to tell, lifestyle segments and key topics that highlight Vieira’s warm, relatable and distinctive personality.

“Meredith Vieira is a gifted broadcaster who already has a wonderful relationship with the daytime viewer,” said Sean O’Boyle, EVP and General Sales Manager, NBCUniversal Domestic TV Distribution. “Her relatability, humility and generosity are all rare traits which make her so successful on television. We are very excited about taking ‘The Meredith Vieira Show’ to the local marketplace, and with the NBC Owned Stations on board, we are off to a fantastic start.”

With more than two decades of experience, Meredith Vieira has earned numerous awards, including 14 Emmys®, and continues to be a staple on daytime TV. Throughout her successful and diverse broadcasting career Vieira has been a huge part of some of the most successful programs in television history, including “Today,” “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” “The View,” and “60 Minutes.”

While it might be fun sport to see Vieira go up against the person she replaced on the "Today" show, Katie Couric, it's doubtful that will happen, at least on the NBC stations. That's because Couric is on mostly at 3 p.m., and that's where the NBC O&O's have been airing Steve Harvey, another successful syndie talk show.

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Fox Hits It Out of the Park in Tuesday Ratings

Fox rolled to an easy win in the Tuesday night broadcast ratings, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that Fox, which aired the MLB All-Star Game, led the way in prime time with a 2.9 average rating in the demo and 10.3 million total viewers.

The game equaled the fast-national demo number for last year's contest, although last year's game was later adjusted upward. Last night gave Fox its highest-rated night of this summer in adults 18-49, with the disclaimer that adjustments may be greater than usual due to the nature of live sports programming.

NBC was second on the night, even as its two-hour "America's Got Talent" ticked down from a week ago, off one-tenth in the 18-49 demo to a 2.5.

ABC saw its two-hour "Extreme Weight Loss" match last week's 1.1 in viewers 18-49.

The CW had two premieres, with "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" tallying a 1.1 in 18-49 for each of its back-to-back episodes, while "Perfect Score" managed just a 0.4 for the debut and a 0.3 for the second installment.

CBS aired an all-repeat drama lineup.

For prime time overall, Fox's 2.9 average rating in the 18-49 demo led the way, followed by NBC (2.0 average), Univision (1.5), CBS (1.0), ABC (1.0) and the CW (0.7). In total viewers, Fox led with 10.3 million to NBC's 7.9 million, CBS's 6.5 million, Univision's 4.0 million, ABC's 3.3 million and CW's 1.9 million.

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Critics Outraged by Rolling Stone Magazine's Choice for Its Latest Cover -- See for Yourself

Rolling Stone magazine has stirred up a hornet's nest with its choice for the cover of its latest edition. The Los Angeles Times reports that the magazine is taking heat after putting alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover.

Some observers are calling the cover photo a "rock 'n' roll glamour shot," the Times reports.

"Dzhokhar Tsarnaev appears on the cover of the magazine's Aug. 1 issue next to a headline that reads, 'The Bomber: How a Popular, Promising Student Was Failed by His Family, Fell Into Radical Islam and Became a Monster,'" the story reports.

The Times piece adds: "In a post on its website Tuesday evening, Rolling Stone said writer Janet Reitman had spent two months interviewing 'dozens of sources -- childhood and high school friends, teachers, neighbors and law enforcement agents, many of whom spoke for the first time about the case -- to deliver' her story, reportedly due to hit newsstands Friday."

The photo has been used before by other media outlets, including The New York Times, the piece notes. But critics say it inappropriately casts Tsarnaev in a flattering light, the L.A. Times piece reports.

The report cites one commenter writing on Rolling Stone's website: "Rolling Stone is suppose[d] to be about music not giving glory to someone who injured and killed innocent people for no reason."

The piece also cites another commenter writing simply: "Cancel my subscription."

"On Facebook, a post describing Reitman's article had attracted almost 12,000 comments by mid-morning Wednesday," the Times reports.

Comedian Albert Brooks reportedly tweeted: "Maybe I'm old fashioned but putting the Boston bomber on the cover of Rolling Stone is a terrible idea."

The report also quotes this tweet from country star John Rich: "You always think as an artist 'If I ever get on the Rolling Stone I'll know I've made it!' That was until they started promoting terrorists."

Here's the cover:


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Emmys Shakeup: Netflix Arrives as a Serious Contender

With nominations for the Emmy Awards to be revealed Thursday, industry watchers believe two of Netflix's shows -- "House of Cards" and "Arrested Development" -- are leading contenders to receive bids in the outstanding acting and program categories, reports Bill Carter in The New York Times.

"And if they are nominated, it would be the first time that slots in the most avidly pursued categories went to programs not specifically produced for the medium of television," Carter writes.

He continues: "The reaction to this development inside the traditional television business has been largely muted, with many executives suggesting that only the quality of the work is important. But to some, this is a moment reminiscent of the days when cable channels like HBO first began to challenge the dominance of broadcast networks like ABC."

"House of Cards" is likely to grab one of the six nominations for best drama, FX Chairman John Landgraf told Carter. That could kick off one of his network's candidates, such as "Justified" or "The Americans."

"It would be the height of bad sportsmanship to seek to keep a show out because it comes from a different distribution system," added Landgraf, whose cable network is aggressive in its pursuit of Emmy recognition.

"More than anything else, Netflix’s arrival in the Emmy mix is disquieting to some broadcast and cable executives because it is probably only the beginning," Carter writes. "Though there is little evidence that winning Emmys drives up viewership (just ask Tina Fey about '30 Rock'), creators and networks still see them as validation. Netflix clearly does; it campaigned ardently for nominations this year ... including planting lawn signs in Los Angeles neighborhoods presumed to be dense with members of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences."

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Google's Over-the-Top Aspirations: Is the Online Giant About to Challenge Time Warner Cable, Comcast and Other TV Providers?

Google has met with major media companies and is considering entering the television fray, either offering a library of TV shows, along the lines of Netflix or Hulu, or streaming a bundle of live networks and on-demand shows, reports The New York Times.

The latter option would replace "the cable bundles that most households now purchase," the story says.

The report notes: "No deals are imminent. But Google’s recent meetings with major media companies that own channels are a sign of the newfound race to sell cablelike services via the Internet, creating an alternative to the current television packages that 100 million American households buy from companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable."

Google, which owns YouTube, declined to comment.

The piece adds: "Intel is hard at work on one such service and companies like Sony and Microsoft have previously shown interest in the same idea, called an “over the top” service because the channels would ride on top of existing broadband connections. They need support from the channel owners, though, and so far that has been tepid."

Google has tried to enter the TV business before. Its TV ad-buying system shut down last year, while talks in 2011 with TV networks failed to produce results, the story says.

"Broadband in the meantime has continued to become more popular and more widely available, spurring interest in alternatives to traditional television distribution," the piece adds.

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Forbes Releases Its List of Hollywood's Highest-Paid Actors, With a Comeback Story at No. 1

Forbes magazine has come out with its list of Hollywood's highest-paid actors, and the veteran actor who came in at No. 1 represents a comeback story after a long struggle with substance abuse and legal problems.

"Robert Downey Jr., once best known for his orange jail jumpsuit, is now Hollywood's hit machine, the highest-paid actor in town, according to Forbes magazine's annual list of entertainers with boffo bank accounts," USA Today reports. "Downey tops the list with an estimated $75 million in earnings, with Channing Tatum at No. 2 and Hugh Jackman at No. 3."

The list represents a star's earnings from June 2012 to June 2013, and is assembled in part by talking with agents, producers, managers and other insiders, the report notes.

USA Today adds: "Downey's reign at the top is all the more sweet given how far he had fallen in the late 1990s: He was addicted, under arrest, in and out of jail, in and out of rehab, in and out of court, and, finally, in prison for nearly a year, for drug possession. In Hollywood he was seen as talented but damaged goods, and un-insurable."

The story also notes: "What Downey lived through actually killed other young actors with substance abuse problems, such as Heath Ledger and, just over the weekend, 'Glee' star Cory Monteith, who was found dead in his Vancouver hotel room. The coroner reported [Tuesday] he died from an overdose of heroin and alcohol."

Forbes calls Downey a "hit machine," and adds: "He's starred in six movies that have each grossed over $500 million at the box office worldwide. Two of those films, The Avengers and Iron Man 3, each earned over $1 billion."

USA Today notes: "He's fully insurable now."

Forbes says the No. 2 actor on the list, Tatum, came in with $60 million in earnings. "Tatum is often touted for his looks and his dance skills but he’s also a super smart businessman," the magazine reports. "He and director Steven Soderbergh self-financed the movie 'Magic Mike,' which meant they didn’t have to get notes from any studio bigwigs and they didn’t have to share any of the film’s sizable profits. The $7 million movie brought in $167 million at the global box office and is a growing business. A Broadway show is in the works as well as a line of bars and a sequel."

As for No. 3, Jackman, he brought in an estimated $55 million. "A lot of that money comes from his work as Wolverine in the 'X-Men' films," Forbes says. "Yet another 'X-Men' movie (the sixth) hits theaters later this month. It’s the second film to exclusively feature Jackman’s Wolverine."

Mark Wahlberg came in fourth with $52 million, with Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, rounding out the top five with $46 million.


Robert Downey Jr.

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'Game of Thrones' Unveils Directors for Season 4; Author of the Book Series Is Set to Write One Episode

HBO's "Game of Thrones" has set its directors for its fourth season, including bringing back Neil Marshall, who directed the second season's pivotal "Blackwater" episode, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Additionally, George R.R. Martin, who wrote the books that form the basis for the TV show, will write one episode of the fourth season, the story adds. Most of the other episodes will be written by showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, although co-producer Bryan Cogman will contribute two episodes.

Here are the directors for the fourth season:

Episode 1: David Benioff & D.B. Weiss

Episodes 2, 3, 8, 10: Alex Graves

Episodes 4, 5: Michelle MacLaren

Episodes 6, 7: Alik Sakharov

Episode 9: Neil Marshall

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'American Horror Story' Couple's Violent 'Misunderstanding' Gets Actress Arrested

An actor and actress who are a real-life couple in addition to being co-stars on the FX series "American Horror Story" were involved in what is being reported as a domestic violence situation, leading to the arrest of actress Emma Roberts, the New York Daily News reports.

Roberts, the daughter of actor Eric Roberts and the niece of actress Julia Roberts, plays Madison on the upcoming season of the drama series, in which her boyfriend, Evan Peters, stars. She was arrested early July 7 in Montreal after what authorities described as a fight between Roberts and Peters. Roberts wound up being escorted from their hotel room in handcuffs.

Police reportedly showed up at the hotel after guests in nearby rooms called to report hearing a fight.

TMZ.com reports that Roberts, 22, was later cleared by a Quebec judge because Peters, 26, did not want to press charges. Peters reportedly received a bloody nose and a bite mark in the incident, the story adds.

A police source told the Daily News: "Officers on the scene reported light injuries to both people. The female suspect was arrested, but no charges were pressed in court so she was released. It is a closed case at this time."

A rep for the couple made a statement Tuesday indicating they're working on moving past the situation and calling the dispute an "unfortunate incident and misunderstanding," the Daily News reports.

The rep added: "The couple are working together to move past it."

Roberts and Peters have been dating since early 2012.

Thumbnail image for emma-roberts2.jpg

Emma Roberts

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Barbara Walters Is Urged to Keep Jenny McCarthy Off 'The View'

"The View's" decision to hire Jenny McCarthy as its newest co-host is causing concern among public health groups, who fear that she will use her role to spread misinformation about vaccines, reports USA Today.

McCarthy has blamed vaccines for causing her son, Evan, to develop autism.

"Two dozen studies have failed to find any link between autism and vaccines. The advocacy group Autism Speaks also has said there is 'no connection' between immunizations and the condition," the story says.

The report adds: "About one in four adults said they were familiar with McCarthy's views about vaccines, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll taken in 2008. Of those adults, 40% said her claims made them more likely to question vaccine safety."

The group Every Child by Two, an international vaccination group founded by former first lady Rosalynn Carter, wrote to "The View" producer Barbara Walters urging her to keep McCarthy off the show.

"Children have died due to this misinformation, and those who perpetuate lies for personal gain ought to be held responsible," said Amy Pisani, the executive director of Every Child by Two.

ABC didn't say whether McCarthy will talk about vaccines or other medical topics. She is scheduled to make her debut on the show Sept. 9.

jenny mccarthy.jpg

Jenny McCarthy

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ABC Drama Shuts Down as Star Feuds With Studio

An ABC drama series shut down production when its lead actor was a no-show amid a dispute with the production company. Deadline.com reports that "Castle" shut down Friday when Nathan Fillion, who plays title character Richard Castle, didn't show up for work.

Fillion is in a dispute with ABC Studios over his desire for a four-day work week, the story reports. His absence Friday may have been his way to send a message, the piece notes.

The show will continue to shoot this week, and Fillion is back on the set. The series was picked up for a sixth season in May, and is one of ABC's most-watched dramas.


Nathan Fillion

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Time Warner Shakes Things Up, Names New CEO for Turner Broadcasting

Time Warner Inc. today announced a top-level management change for its Turner Broadcasting System division. Multichannel News reports that the company named Time Warner Inc. Chief Financial Officer John Martin as the new Turner CEO.

Martin will replace current CEO Phil Kent effective Jan. 1, the report notes, with Kent stepping up to chairman in a transition phase in 2014.

In a statement, Time Warner Chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes said: “Phil Kent’s exceptional leadership at Turner has driven much of Time Warner’s recent success. For the past decade, he has expertly guided the Turner networks through a period of rapid change, all the while building on each network’s leading position with viewers and advertisers and forging stronger relationships with distributors. At Phil’s initiation, he and I agreed that now is the right time to announce the next generation of leadership, and I am pleased that he will serve as chairman.”

The report notes: "As CFO, Martin currently oversees all of Time Warner's finance, accounting, mergers and acquisitions, internal audit, investor relations, treasury and tax areas as well as corporate human resources, employee development and growth, compensation and benefits, worldwide recruitment, and security and transportation. Mr. Martin is also responsible for leading efforts to launch enterprise-wide services in the areas of information technology, real estate and facilities and HR systems. In addition, he works closely with other members of Time Warner's senior management team and its operating divisions on a variety of organizational, development and diversity issues."

Martin became CFO of Time Warner Inc. in 2008, after serving as EVP and CFO of Time Warner Cable Inc. since August 2005.

Bewkes added in his statement: “John is one of the most capable and strategically minded executives I know. As CFO, he led the design and implementation of our financial strategy that has helped Time Warner deliver superior shareholder returns. But he is also a broad and thoughtful business thinker whose inclusive management style and focus on driving the business forward will fit well with the Turner tradition. I have great confidence he will build on the success Phil has achieved to take Turner to even greater heights.”

The company expects to name a successor to martin as CFO in the coming weeks, the piece notes.


John Martin

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Oxygen Pulls the Plug on High-Profile Series

Oxygen has announced its decision to cancel a show. EW.com's Inside TV reports that the cable channel will bring the reality series "The Glee Project" to an end after two seasons.

The decision was made several weeks ago and is unrelated to the recent death of "Glee" star Cory Monteith, the piece notes. The show featured contestants competing for a role on the Fox musical series.

Blake Jenner, who won last season, secured a seven-episode arc on "Glee's" fourth season, and recently was promoted to series regular for the show's fifth season.


Blake Jenner

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Actor Who Played 'Star Trek's' First Klingon Dead at 83

An actor who made history by appearing as the first Klingon on the original 1960s series "Star Trek" has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Victor Lundin, 83, died June 29 in Los Angeles after a long illness.

Lundin, who often played tough guys in films and TV, also was one of the Penguin's henchmen on "Batman" and played Chief Standing Pat in another episode of the 1960s television show.

The actor also played the alien slave Friday in 1964's "Robinson Crusoe on Mars," an adaptation of the Daniel Defoe novel. Lundin was a trained opera singer who also was a singer-songwriter. He went on to roles such as Machine Gun Kelly in 1960's "Ma Barker's Killer Brood."

His television work included roles on "Gunsmoke," "Get Smart," "Mannix" and "Babylon 5," among other shows.


Victor Lundin

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Showtime Renews Drama Series

Pay-cable channel Showtime announced the renewal of a drama series. USA Today reports that the channel ordered a second season of "Ray Donovan," which stars Liev Schreiber as the title character.

The renewal comes just a few weeks after the program's debut June 30.

The show's storyline has Donovan, a "fixer" for a big law firm, moving to Los Angeles from South Boston after his criminal father is released from jail, as a way to protect his family. The show opened as Showtime's highest-rated premiere, while the initial airing of its third episode on Sunday drew 2.2 million viewers, according to the report.

"'Ray Donovan' is on track to be our biggest season one show ever," Showtime Entertainment President David Nevins said in a statement.

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Useful Digital Story of the Day: Google Maps Finally Returns to Apple's iPad

"Google is rolling out a revamped version of its popular Maps application for Apple's iOS, highlighted by dedicated support for the iPad tablet," reports FierceMobileContent.

The article continues: "The new Google Maps for iOS 2.0, also optimized for the iPhone and iPod touch, comes roughly seven months after Google launched the first iteration of the app. Last year, Apple dumped built-in Google Maps support with the release of its iOS 6 platform update, introducing its own Apple Maps platform as a replacement. Google quickly responded to the move by developing a standalone Google Maps app for iOS users, but didn't initially support the iPad and iPad mini form factors."

The story adds: "Google introduced a similar Maps update for its own Android mobile operating system last week. Google Maps is the second most popular mobile application among U.S. consumers across all platforms, trailing only Facebook, according to a recent comScore Mobile Metrix report."

To read about some of the features of the new Google Maps we urge you to click on the link in our first paragraph, above, and read the entire original story.

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ABC Will Stagger Its Fall Rollout -- Here's the Full Schedule

ABC's fall premiere dates feature staggered program debuts, with the broadcast network taking a page from the cable network playbook, reports TheWrap.com.

"20/20" will kick off the 2013-14 season on Sept. 6, earlier than the other networks, while the new show "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland" is slated for an Oct. 10 debut.

Here are the dates, with new shows denoted by asterisks:

Friday, Sept. 6

10-11 p.m. “20/20”

Monday, Sept. 16

8-10 p.m. “Dancing with the Stars”

Friday, Sept. 20

8-8:30 p.m. “Last Man Standing”

8:30-9 p.m. “The Neighbors”

9-10 p.m. “Shark Tank”

Monday, Sept. 23

10-11 p.m. “Castle”

Tuesday, Sept. 24

8-9 p.m. “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”*

9-9:30 p.m. “The Goldbergs”*

9:30-10 p.m. “Trophy Wife”*

10-11 p.m. “Lucky 7”*

Wednesday, Sept. 25

8-8:30 p.m. “The Middle”

8:30-9 p.m. “Back in the Game”*

9-10 p.m. “Modern Family” (special one-hour premiere event)

10-11 p.m. “Nashville”

Thursday, Sept. 26

9-11 p.m. “Grey’s Anatomy” (special two-hour premiere event)

Sunday, Sept. 29

8-9 p.m. “Once Upon a Time”

9-10 p.m. “Revenge”

10-11 p.m. “Betrayal”*

Wednesday, Oct. 2

9:30-10 p.m. “Super Fun Night”*

Thursday, Oct. 3

10-11 p.m. “Scandal”

Sunday, Oct. 6

7-8 p.m. “America’s Funniest Home Videos”

Thursday, Oct. 10

8-9 p.m. “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland”*

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HBO Orders Comedy Series From Team Behind Offbeat Movie

HBO has ordered a new comedy series from the team that wrote and directed a quirky 2011 feature film. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the pay-cable channel ordered "Togetherness" from brothers Jay and Mark Duplass, marking their first television writing effort after a number of movies, including 2011's "Jeff, Who Lives at Home."

The new project, about two couples living in the same house, stars Mark Duplass as Brett Pierson, who seemingly has a perfect life but in reality has both personal and professional problems. His wife is played by "Two and a Half Men's" Melanie Lynskey.

Amanda Peet plays Lynskey's sister, who wants to move closer to her sister, while Steve Zissis, who also appeared in "Jeff, Who Lives at Home," will play Brett's friend who has just been left homeless.

The Duplass brothers will write, executive produce and direct the comedy, and Zissis will also write and serve as a consulting producer.

The report notes: "The series joins a new batch of comedies at the premium cable network including Mike Judge's 'Silicon Valley,' the untitled eight-episode gay-themed Jonathan Groff vehicle, 'Getting On' (six episodes from the creators of 'Big Love') and Stephen Merchant's 'Hello Ladies' (eight episodes) as HBO bulks up on half-hours to join comedies 'Girls' and 'Veep.'"

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Asiana Airlines Thinks Better of Suing TV Station KTVU for Airing Fake Names of Pilots on Plane That Crashed at SFO

Asiana Airlines has opted not to sue KTVU-TV over the TV station's reporting blunder, reports Deadline.com.

The story says, "Asiana Airlines has had a change of heart. Earlier this week, the carrier said it planned to sue local San Francisco Fox affiliate KTVU after the channel erroneously identified the pilots in the July 6 crash of Asiana flight 214 by four prank names.

"Today, however, the Seoul-based company said it was nixing those plans. 'Asiana Airlines has decided not to proceed with the case since KTVU has issued a formal apology and in order for us to focus all our efforts on managing the aftermath of the accident,' said a statement obtained by Reuters."

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Hulu's Called-Off Sale Cost Suitors $25 Million

Hulu's decision to call off its sale as it was entering the final stages of the bidding process hit the company's would-be buyers in the pocketbook to the tune of $25 million in banking and legal fees, the New York Post reports.

Bidders also provided detailed plans to Hulu's owners on how they would operate the business. "Those ideas are now in the hands of Hulu’s owners -- much to the frustration of those involved," the story adds.

Potential buyers included DirecTV, the Chernin Group and its partner AT&T, and Guggenheim Digital Media working with private-equity firm KKR.

Time Warner Cable is still in discussions to buy a stake in Hulu, which is owned by 21st Century Fox, Disney and Comcast.

"Sources say the bidders found out the sale was off Thursday night, just hours before an official press release went out on Friday," the story says.

The report adds: "Hulu’s cold feet -- the second time in two years that its owners have called off a sale at the last minute -- left suitors feeling more than a little confused."

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Ellen DeGeneres' Honorary CoverGirl Model -- and YouTube Makeup Guru Sensation -- Talia Joy Castellano, Dies at 13 as She Loses Her Courageous 7-Year Battle with Cancer

"Talia Joy Castellano, a bubbly cancer patient who became an honorary CoverGirl with the help of Ellen DeGeneres, has died. She was 13," reports Nardine Saad at the Los Angeles Times' Ministry of Gossip website.

The Orlando, Fla., teenager became a YouTube sensation with her motivational makeup tutorial videos, which captured the attention of the TV host. Talia died Tuesday at Arnold Palmer Hospital, with the announcement coming from her official Facebook fan page.

Castellano had been fighting cancer since 2007, when she was 7 years old. Says the story, "[D]uring her bouts with the disease, after she lost her hair, the affectionately called 'professional, YouTube Makeup Guru' refused to don a wig. Instead, she chose to boost her self-confidence by experimenting with makeup at the behest of one of her mom's friends, who also battled cancer. Castellano then started taping herself giving makeup tutorials and posted the videos on YouTube. One clip reached more than 8 million views, and numerous videos earned more than 500,000."

The article adds, "One of her dreams was to meet DeGeneres and do her makeup. In September 2012, the Emmy-winning comedienne granted the teary-eyed teen her wish..."

The story says, "When DeGeneres asked Castellano how she stayed positive in the face of cancer, the young girl gave a bubbly reply: 'When people ask me that, I’m [like], what do you want me to do, be depressed?' she said. 'A little fishy told me, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming," ' referring to the catch phrase of DeGeneres' ... inspiring fish Dory from the Disney-Pixar film 'Finding Nemo.' " That exchange is in the second video, below.

Here is Castellano's appearance on the "Ellen" show last year, during the show's premiere week in September. This first video is part one of the appearance, and the second one is part two.

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Coroner: Cory Monteith Died of Drug Overdose

"'Glee' star Cory Monteith spent his last evening out on the town with three friends before returning to his luxury hotel room alone where he took heroin and died early Saturday morning from the effects of the drug combined with alcohol," reports the Global Post, a publication owned by the Canadian Press.

The article continues: "'There was evidence in the room that was consistent with drug use,' Const. Brian Montague, of Vancouver police, said at a news conference Tuesday [July 16, 2013], after the B.C. Coroners' Service announced the results of an autopsy and toxicology tests. 'It was the opinion and belief of our investigators at that time that this was going to be a drug overdose.'"

The story adds: "The Service's Barb McLintock said the coroners' investigation will continue. Police say the unanswered questions McLintock's office will determine include the levels of alcohol and heroin in Monteith's system and whether the 31-year-old was the victim of a bad batch of heroin, something which turns up from time to time in Vancouver."

The article also notes: "Montague said the police investigation is finished. He said the two women and another man Monteith were with last Friday night co-operated fully with police and investigators believe they know exactly what the group was doing and where they were. He wouldn't elaborate and said officers won't pursue where Monteith might have gotten the heroin."

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Fox May Take Aereo Case to the Supreme Court

Broadcasters ratcheted up the anti-Aereo rhetoric after suffering another defeat in court this morning, with Fox threatening to take its copyright infringement case to the highest court, Deadline.com reports.

In a statement released today, Fox said: “The 2nd circuit’s denial of our request for an ‘en banc’ hearing, while disappointing was not unexpected. We will now review our options and determine the appropriate course of action, which include seeking a hearing in the U.S. Supreme Court and proceeding to a full trial on the merits of the case."

Deadline notes: "In April, the court said a U.S. District judge was right last year to refuse broadcasters an injunction against the controversial service that streams broadcasters’ over-the-air signals to its subscribers. This latest move in the broadcasters’ battle with the Barry Diller-backed Aereo comes less than a week after the service was slapped with another copyright suit by the Hearst-owned ABC Boston affiliate."

Aereo expanded its service to include Boston in mid-May, the piece notes, adding: "The same month, Aereo filed a suit in New York court to stop CBS from going after them in Boston and other cities the service intends to start up in over the 12 months. Unsurprisingly, CBS filed right back to dismiss that suit."

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Today's Must-Read: Report Says 'Apple today tipped its hand on a number of likely features for its long-awaited television product'

"Apple today tipped its hand on a number of likely features for its long-awaited television product. The new details suggest that Apple is actually working on an all-in-one television set, in addition to new features for its existing Apple TV set-top box. They also suggest that Apple will justify selling such a device by creating an integrated user experience not seen in other televisions."

So writes Christopher Mims at Quartz, the website focusing on new business that's published by the same people who publish The Atlantic.

The article continues, "The first reveal came from Apple reportedly offering $280 million for the Israeli company PrimeSense, which created the motion sensing technology first used in Microsoft’s Kinect sensor."

The article then explains: "Apple wants PrimeSense because, as Aviad Maizeis, president of PrimeSense, is fond of demonstrating, by far the most mature application of PrimeSense is as a gesture-control system for television. (Granted, the Xbox One can already do this, but as the success of Roku and the proliferation of smart TVs and next-generation cable boxes demonstrate, not everyone wants a gaming platform as part of their media center.)"

Mims adds: "It allows you to use gestures reminiscent of existing touch-based interfaces, such as swipe and touch, to swiftly navigate through a carousel of content on your television. The difference is that, instead of touching a piece of glass, you’re simply waving your hands in the air. The real magic is that you can sit down at a PrimeSense-enabled television and, because of its similarity to existing interfaces, grasp it immediately -- a level of intuitiveness and simplicity that surely appeals to Apple."

Next, the story says: "Apple is pitching cable companies on a premium service that would allow people to skip television advertisements for a price, with the revenue shared with said cable companies, reports [well-respected tech reporter] Jessica Lessin. Apple has been in talks with cable companies for a while, but given conflicting rumors, the substance of those talks is unclear. Ad-skipping technology may seem like a fairly irrational move for cable operators, given that advertising is the backbone of their revenue."

The piece concludes: "Apple could probably put its ad-skipping tech into both a TV and a set-top box, but gesture control is another beast entirely. Selling an AppleTV-like box with a fiddly, detachable sensor that has to be tacked onto an existing television doesn’t seem like the Apple way. It’s more likely that, if the company unveils a gesture-control system, it would be integrated into an existing, Apple-branded television. Putting all of these pieces together -- deals with streaming services, cable companies, gesture control and, who knows, support for apps and games people have already bought for their iPhone and iPad -- is a plausible way for Apple to sell a television that would justify the usual Apple markup."

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Stevie Wonder Announces Boycott in Wake of Zimmerman Verdict

Music legend Stevie Wonder responded to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin with a statement against the "stand your ground" laws in that state and other states.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Wonder "told a Quebec City, Canada, crowd on Sunday that he would boycott Florida on future tours, along with any other state that has passed similar 'stand your ground' legislation."

Wonder reportedly told the crowd: "I decided today that until the 'stand your ground' law is abolished in Florida, I will never perform there again. As a matter of fact, wherever I find that law exists, I will not perform in that state or in that part of the world."

The Times report notes: "Wonder is known for his music's deeply felt messages of love and community, so it's striking to hear him so angry. But his remarks to Sunday's crowd drew a connection between civil rights-era activism and the unfinished business of the movement today."

Wonder is quoted as saying: "The truth is that -- for those of you who’ve lost in the battle for justice, wherever that fits in any part of the world -- we can’t bring them back. What we can do is we can let our voices be heard. And we can vote in our various countries throughout the world for change and equality for everybody. That’s what I know we can do."

Reportedly, at least 20 other states, along with Florida, have "stand your ground"-type laws, the story notes.

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CBS Has Just Enough to Win the Night as Its Summer Hit Holds Steady; 'Pool Party' Belly-Flops

CBS aired mostly repeats last night, but capped off prime time with its hit summer drama series -- and the combination was just enough to win the night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "Under the Dome" was easily the top show of the night, airing at 10 p.m. and almost tripling its time-period competition with a 2.7 average in 18-49 -- equaling last week's number.

Trailing "Dome" at 10 p.m. were originals from two rival broadcast nets -- ABC's "Mistresses," with a 1.1 in the 18-49 demo (slipping one-tenth from a week ago), and NBC's "Siberia," which delivered a 0.8 (also losing one-tenth).

The comparisons were just as striking in total viewers: 10.8 million for "Under the Dome," 3.6 million for "Mistresses" and 2.5 million for "Siberia."

Earlier in the night the big number was a 1.9 average rating in adults 18-49 for ABC's two-hour "The Bachelorette," which matched last week's average. The combination helped ABC finish a close second behind CBS for prime time overall.

NBC gave it a go with two hours of its own reality programming, but "American Ninja Warrior" lost one-tenth from a week ago to settle for a 1.5 in the 18-49 demo, and "Get Out Alive With Bear Grylls" also lost one-tenth, slipping to a 1.4.

Fox aired all repeats and wound up in fifth place.

An interesting development -- but not in a good way -- at the "sixth broadcast network," the CW, was the debut of the two-hour "iHeartRadio Ultimate Pool Party," which delivered one of the lowest demo numbers in recent memory, a 0.2 in viewers 18-49, along with 732,000 viewers.

The tally for prime time overall shows how narrow CBS's win was, with Univision also knocking on the door. CBS came out on top in the 18-49 demo with a 1.7 average, followed by ABC (1.6 average), Univision (1.6), NBC (1.2), Fox (0.6) and CW (0.2). CBS had a little more breathing room in total viewers, winning the night with 6.7 million, followed by ABC (5.7 million), Univision (4.0 million), NBC (3.8 million), Fox (1.5 million) and CW (732,000).

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Fox Grapples With Future of 'Glee' After Star's Death

With autopsy results expected this week on actor Cory Monteith, the people behind the Fox musical series "Glee" got back to work in an attempt to chart the future of the show.

Monteith, who played Finn on the series, was found dead July 13 in a Vancouver hotel room, as previously reported. USA Today reports that the British Columbia Coroners Service performed an autopsy Monday on the 31-year-old actor, who had a history of substance abuse problems.

"Glee" is scheduled to premiere its fifth season this fall.

"Fox, the network that airs 'Glee,' is discussing internally how to handle the show's new season, which was originally slated to premiere Sept. 19, before taking a break for the baseball playoffs. If the network opts to delay the air date, it would likely happen after the World Series, meaning late October or early November," USA Today reports.

"Another big issue: how to handle his death on the show, especially in terms of story lines. Complicating the issue is that Monteith dated his show co-star, Lea Michele," the report adds. "Plus, there's the additional task of shooting season five promos, which have been delayed in the wake of the news."

The report cites TV historian Tim Brooks saying the show must properly address Monteith's death.

Says Brooks: "I don't think (the death) will hurt the show, assuming they handle it right. The show can certainly survive it and can perhaps even fashion a tribute in a way that honors not only him but something viewers can learn from."

Noting the possibility that Monteith died because of drug use, and given the young audience for "Glee," Brooks notes: "There could be a larger lesson that life is fragile and you need to live it in a way that's meaningful."

Officials have ruled out foul play in Monteith's death, the report notes. Toxicology reports from the autopsy could take several more days, and an official said there's nothing at this point that indicates the actor's death was attributable to illicit drugs.

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Cory Monteith

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'Mad Men's' Jon Hamm Steps Out of Character

Jon Hamm opened up recently about an upcoming gig that promises to put the emphasis on his lighter side -- a departure from the dark, brooding character that has earned him acclaim on the AMC drama "Mad Men."

Hamm talked about his latest assignment in a conference call with reporters. Click here to read TVWeek Open Mic writer Hillary Atkin's report on what viewers can expect to see from Hamm this week.

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Long-Running Fox Series Moving to Cable

A long-running prime-time series on Fox Broadcasting is moving to cable. The series will have its final airing of original episodes on Fox this upcoming season and then move to cable with new episodes in late 2014.

The show is Seth MacFarlane's "American Dad," which has been a staple of Fox's "Animation Domination" programming block for years on Sunday nights.The series will be moving to TBS.

Here's what TBS said in its announcement of the deal: "TBS has picked up Twentieth Century Fox Television's animated hit 'American Dad!' as an original series, beginning with the show's 11th season. Created by Seth MacFarlane, Mike Barker and Matt Weitzman, 'American Dad!' will join TBS's primetime lineup in late 2014. Sister network Adult Swim is set to present encores of each episode after initial airings on TBS. 'American Dad!,' which will begin its 10th season on the Fox television network this fall, is executive-produced by MacFarlane, Barker and Weitzman. TBS has ordered 15 episodes for season 11."

The announcement notes: "TBS and Adult Swim are no strangers to the Seth MacFarlane universe, having aired reruns of 'American Dad!' and MacFarlane's 'Family Guy' throughout the networks' lineups. TBS currently airs 'American Dad!' reruns weekdays ... [and] Adult Swim presents reruns of the show."

Michael Wright, president and head of programming for TBS, TNT and TCM, said in the annoucement: " 'American Dad!' is a great fit for TBS, a favorite of comedy fans who like smart, irreverent humor with ample doses of biting wit and skewering satire. We look forward to welcoming Seth MacFarlane and the rest of his team as they bring this iconic show to TBS."


"American Dad!" is moving from Fox to TBS

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Intern Fired Over Fake Asiana Crew Members' Names

An intern who confirmed several fake, racially insensitive names of crew members who crash-landed an Asiana flight in San Francisco has been fired by the National Transportation Safety Board, reports TheWrap.com.

Fox affiliate KTVU-TV broadcast the four names on Friday, with an anchor reading out the names on the air. Anchor Tori Campbell announced the prank names, including "Captain Sum Ting Wong" and "Wi Tu Lo" -- with the names also appearing in an on-screen graphic. As previously reported, Asiana said it will sue KTVU on the basis that the report was racially discriminating.

KTVU wouldn't disclose where it obtained the fake names, but said in the on-air report that they were confirmed by an NTSB official, TheWrap notes. The agency then blamed an intern for confirming the fake names.

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Los Angeles TV Crew Attacked in Riot Following George Zimmerman Verdict

A TV crew was attacked in Los Angeles as rioting was sparked by the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who was tried for killing Florida teen Trayvon Martin, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The news crew was from KCBS-TV/KCAL-TV.

During an 11 p.m. news conference on Monday, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said 13 people had been arrested in connection with the rioting.

The news crew was attacked at the corner of 43rd Street and Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles, the story notes.

The Los Angeles Times later reported: "KCBS-TV/KCAL-TV reporter Dave Bryan and his cameraman were among those who came under assault. One of the two journalists was taken to a hospital with a possible concussion, Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Andy Neiman told The Times."

KCBS/KCAL had reported that demonstrators were running, biking and skateboarding in the center of the street, while others were kicking in windows, knocking over garbage cans and getting on top of cars.

The police department announced an unlawful assembly at about 10 p.m., giving protesters a chance to leave or else get arrested.

The L.A. Times report adds: "Protesters also stormed a Walmart in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles, pushing their way through as guards scrambled to close security gates. A short while later, LAPD officers wearing helmets and carrying batons swarmed the store as others marched through the parking lot."

About 350 LAPD officers responded to the area, according to reports. The Times report cites witnesses at Walmart saying young people stormed into the store and threw merchandise on the ground while some tried to break into the glass jewelry displays.

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ABC Family Cancels Series

The star of an ABC Family series revealed Monday that the cable network has canceled the show. Deadline.com reports that "The Lying Game" star Alexandra Chando tweeted that ABC Family is pulling the plug on the teen-focused drama after its second season.

The show is based on Sara Shepard's books about a foster child who learns she has an identical twin sister, who was adopted by a wealthy family. The cable network had been waiting to see how its summer series performed before making a decision on the show, the story notes.


Alexandra Chando

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Shakeup in the Works for CNN Schedule, Wolf Blitzer

Changes are in the works for the CNN programming lineup, and while the final configuration remains uncertain, TVNewser.com reports that the cable news channel may give Wolf Blitzer the 1 p.m. time slot permanently. Blitzer, who currently holds down the 5-7 p.m. slot, has also been filling in regularly at 1 p.m.

The reason for the possible move is "Crossfire," which will return to the network this fall, although the time period isn't yet set.

"Right now the opinion among a handful of CNN staffers is that 'Crossfire' will air during the 6-7 p.m. hour, and if indeed that is where it ends up, Blitzer is expected to get 1-2 p.m. in addition to 5-6 p.m., where 'The Situation Room' currently airs," the story notes. "The Situation Room" is hosted by Blitzer.

TVNewser adds: "We also hear that when CNN President Jeff Zucker spoke to DC staffers last week during a bureau meeting, he said that they had not made a final decision with regard to when 'Crossfire' would air, so there is still a chance Blitzer will keep his two-hour afternoon block."

The report notes: "One thing is clear: Wherever 'Crossfire' ends up on CNN’s schedule, the shows around it will be shaken up in some form."

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Report: Keith Olbermann in Talks to Return to His Former TV Home

Former CNN, MSNBC, Current TV, Fox Sports Net and ESPN host Keith Olbermann is in talks with one of his former companies for a possible return to the fold. The New York Daily News cites sources saying the TV veteran is looking at a return to his sports roots with a potential late-night talk show on ESPN2.

Olbermann has attracted controversy at most of the stops in his television career, becoming a lightning rod for criticism especially after making the jump from sports to news commentary. He got attention for his liberal political views in particular during his time at MSNBC and Current.

But earlier in his career, including his stint at CNN, Olbermann's focus was on sports, and he took home a series of sports broadcasting awards including being named best sports broadcaster three times by the California Associated Press and winning 11 Golden Mike Awards. He was nominated twice for Sports Emmys and won a CableACE in 1995, all for his work on ESPN's "SportsCenter."

Talks are "very fluid" and there's no decision yet on Olbermann or the project, the story notes. If ESPN hires Olbermann back, the move could steal some thunder from the August debut of rival network Fox Sports 1, the piece notes.

"This could be the first shot in an all-sports cable TV war," the story reports. "The sources added that ESPN is also considering unleashing a multimillion-dollar 'SportsCenter' advertising campaign/counterattack that would air around the launch of FS1."

Nevertheless, hiring Olbermann at ESPN2 would be "strange," according to the report. That's because Turner Sports' TBS hired him to host its Major League Baseball postseason studio show, and it's unlikely that Turner executives would be pleased to see Olbermann debuting on ESPN2 before he appears on TBS.

The piece continues, "It also would be unusual for Turner to allow Olbermann to work for ESPN, which Turner Sports execs likely view as a competitor.

"Nonetheless, stranger things have happened in this business."

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Keith Olbermann

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Lindsay Lohan Will Make Millions off Deal With Oprah

The new deal between actress Lindsay Lohan and Oprah Winfrey's OWN cable net is reportedly worth millions for Lohan, whose career has sputtered in recent years as her struggle with substance abuse has attracted more headlines than her acting.

TMZ.com reports that Lohan will receive about $2 million from the Oprah Winfrey Network for the deal to star in an eight-part reality show about her struggles and her plans.

Going to rehab might have helped Lohan secure the big payday, given that her personal drama helped ratchet up interest in her, the piece notes. Lohan signed the agreement, which will provide her with two assistants and a stylist, at the Betty Ford Center, according to sources cited by TMZ.

In addition to the reality show, Lohan is set for what promises to be a high-interest interview with Winfrey, set to air in August on OWN, as previously reported. The reality show is on tap for 2014.


Lindsay Lohan

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HBO Renews Long-Running Drama Series

HBO announced that a long-running drama series will be back for another season. EW.com's Inside TV reports that the pay-cable network will bring back the vampire series "True Blood" for a seventh season.

The show's sixth season debuted June 26 with Brian Buckner as the showrunner, and the seventh season is slated for the summer of 2014. HBO said the drama is pulling in more than 10 million viewers per episode.

"'True Blood' remains a signature show for HBO, and a true phenomenon with our viewers,” said HBO Programming President Michael Lombardo. “Thanks to Brian Buckner and his talented team, the show continues to be a thrill ride like nothing else on TV.”

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Randy Travis Reportedly Improving; His Doctors Comment on Whether Drugs, Alcohol Contributed to His Health Problems

Randy Travis is improving as he deals with a serious health crisis, although the country superstar has been using a ventilator following heart problems and a stroke, reports TMZ.com.

His doctors at the Texas hospital where he's being treated said they're hopeful he will soon be breathing on his own. They added that his heart issues are not the result of drug or alcohol abuse. Instead, they say his health problems are probably attributable to a family history of cardiomyopathy, the story reports.

Travis was in critical condition last week following emergency surgery after he suffered a stroke while in the hospital, as previously reported. He was airlifted to the hospital July 8.

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USA Network's 'Psych' Brings Aboard Oscar Winner

An Oscar-winning actress is joining USA Network's dramedy series "Psych." Deadline.com reports that the detective show is adding Mira Sorvino in a multi-episode arc.

Sorvino will join the eighth season in its seventh episode, portraying the Santa Barbara Police Department's new head detective, Betsy Brannigan. Her character is described as sweet, yet tough, a woman who loves scrapbooking yet can take down ruthless lawbreakers, the story says.

Sorvino won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for the 1995 Woody Allen film "Mighty Aphrodite," and is well-known for her work in other features including "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" and "Mimic."

It's believed that the 10 episodes making up the show's eighth season will likely be the final run for "Psych," the piece adds.

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Mira Sorvino

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Verdict in Zimmerman Case Draws Big Audience to Cable News

The timing of the verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial -- in which the neighborhood watch volunteer was acquitted in the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin -- was less than ideal for cable news, coming late on a Saturday night, when viewership is typically low.

But it worked out well for the major news channels. More than 10 million viewers tuned in to cable news channels to watch coverage of the verdict, in what The New York Times calls a "huge total for a Saturday night."

In the 10 p.m. ET hour, immediately following the verdict, Fox News averaged 3.68 million viewers, while CNN pulled in 3.4 million. HLN, which is known for its coverage of criminal trials and which covered the Zimmerman trial extensively, drew 2.2 million, while MSNBC lagged with 1.2 million.

The week-earlier Saturday night viewership number for the cable news networks was only about 1.6 million across the same four cable channels, the piece points out.

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Lawsuit Over Sheen's 'Anger Management' Is Settled

Joe Roth, the producer behind Charlie Sheen's comedy series "Anger Management," has settled a $50 million lawsuit that alleged he cut producer Jason Shuman out of profits from the FX show, The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq. reports.

Shuman alleged he was stiffed millions in backend pay because the production had to meet significant financial demands from star Charlie Sheen, the story says. Shuman and his Blue Star Entertainment sued in April 2012, claiming they had developed the show "under the false promise of receiving significant backend ownership in, and producer credit and fees on, the show."

Terms of the settlement weren't released.

"According to a source, the parties have been in discussion for months over how much ownership to give Shuman and what to do about the credit situation. If the settlement holds, it will cut short a trial that was scheduled for next April," the story notes.

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Video: Barbara Walters' Latest High-Profile Interview -- as Her Retirement Plans Aren't Causing Her to Slow Down

Barbara Walters apparently isn't slowing down ahead of her retirement. The TV news and talk fixture just conducted a high-profile interview: a sit-down with the parents of George Zimmerman, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

Portions of the interview with Robert and Gladys Zimmerman aired Monday night on "World News with Diane Sawyer" and "Nightline," and the interview was scheduled to be featured this morning on "Good Morning America."

Zimmerman was found not guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. He's suing NBC News, which admitted to editing a 911 call in a way that made it appear Zimmerman was focused on race.

In the interview, according to a clip posted by ABC News, Zimmerman's mother said they, their son and his legal counsel have received death threats. Asked whether their son could resume a normal life, his mother said, "I don't know … we have lost everything."

Walters officially announced her retirement back in May, as we reported previously, with her plan being to leave TV journalism in summer 2014.

Here's a clip from the interview:

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In the Televised, Highly Publicized Trial of George Zimmerman, CNN Reports That 'When the six jury members went in for deliberation, three were for acquittal, one was for second-degree murder and two were for the manslaughter charge'

“When the six jury members in the George Zimmerman trial went in for deliberation, three were for acquittal, one was for second-degree murder and two were for the manslaughter charge, one of those jury members told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday,” reports our friend Laura Petrecca in USA Today.

The story continues, “As they reviewed the evidence, the jurors came to feel that Zimmerman truly feared for his life when he pulled the trigger, [the juror] said.

The identity of the jury member who spoke to Cooper was not revealed, but she was identified by her juror number -- B-37-- on "Anderson Cooper 360°." 

In the highly publicized case, Zimmerman, 28, who is Hispanic, shot and killed an African American teenager, Trayvon Martin, 17, on the night of Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford, Fla.

On the "Cooper" show, the USA Today piece notes that the juror who was interviewed “said that she wanted to remain ‘cautious’ and didn't want her face shown. Earlier Monday, literary agent Sharlene Martin said she had signed one of the Zimmerman jurors to write a book about her experience on the panel, and also identified that juror as B-37.”

The story adds that the “juror said Zimmerman was ‘a man whose heart was in the right place,’ but he went too far and did not use good judgment.” Furthermore, “the juror told Cooper that “she didn't think the shooting was racially motivated and that Zimmerman would have reacted the same way to someone of any race.”

The article notes: “While her identity wasn't revealed, there are some known facts about juror B-37. She is a middle-aged white woman and the daughter of an Air Force captain. She has been married to a space attorney for 20 years and has has two adult children.”

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Starting This Fall, Hit ABC Show Will Be Aired on BET Just 8 Days After Each Episode Is Shown on ABC

Starting this fall, cable channel BET will televise episodes of an ABC hit "just eight days after they premiere on ABC, under an unusual syndication deal announced on Monday," reports Brian Stelter of The New York Times.

The series is ABC's "Scandal."

The article continues, "BET will also present a marathon of Seasons 1 and 2 of 'Scandal' before Season 3 starts in September."

The Times story notes: "Episodes of shows like 'Scandal' typically do not start to be replayed on other channels for several years. But owners of shows are increasingly willing to experiment with new business models that greatly shorten that time lag: CBS, for instance, is letting Amazon rerun episodes of 'Under the Dome' four days after their initial broadcast.

"The free version of Hulu, the video Web site, will continue to have the five most recent episodes of 'Scandal' available for catch-up viewing, and Netflix and the paid version of Hulu will continue to have full seasons available for binge viewing. But by giving the show another home on television, the BET deal might expose the show to first-time viewers and turn them into new fans, potentially benefiting both ABC and BET."

The Times story also says that "Scandal" is the No. 1  broadcast series among African-Americans. "The show’s star, Kerry Washington, is the first African-American woman to lead an American network drama since the 1970s," the story reports. However, The Times also explains: "The show is by no means niche: It has become one of ABC’s most watched and talked-about shows, attracting upward of 10 million viewers for new episodes when digital video recorder playback is included."

"Scandal" was created by Shonda Rhimes, who also created the ABC hit "Grey's Anatomy."

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Battle Over Health Care Will Be a Boon to the TV Advertising Market

It looks as though an infusion of advertising money is headed television's way. Advertising Age reports that TV stations nationwide can expect to see about $500 million in advertising money as the political fight over the Affordable Care Act heats up.

"Campaign Media Analysis Group, part of Kantar Media, found that $500 million was spent since 2009 on TV ads that mention the Affordable Care Act and another $500 million will be spent in the coming months," the story reports. "That $1 billion spent on a single issue breaks previous records. And if the current trend holds, an overwhelming majority of those ads will attack Obamacare, as the ACA has become commonly known."

Please click here to read the full report.

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A 1.2 Average Rating in the Key 18-49 Demo -- a Number That Would Have Barely Been a Blip on the Radar Screen for Broadcast Networks Not That Long Ago -- Wins Sunday Night

The broadcast networks were mostly mired below the 1.0 barrier in the key 18-49 demo Sunday night, based on Nielsen overnights, as the broadcast nets' summer ratings doldrums continued.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the network that made the most of the night was Fox, which managed to win the broadcast prime-time ratings battle with a 1.2 average in the demo. CBS clocked in with a 1.1, followed by ABC with a 1.0, Univision with a 0.8 and NBC with a 0.7 average for prime time.

CBS won total viewers with 4.9 million, ahead of ABC (3.6 million), NBC (3.6 million), Fox (2.6 million) and Univision (2.2 million).

Much of the broadcasting lineup consisted of reruns, including Fox's winning formula of airing an all-repeat animation lineup. NBC's only fresh program was "Crossing Lines," which sank to a series low at 10 p.m. with a 0.5 average in viewers 18-49 -- finishing third in the time slot behind repeat programming on CBS and ABC.

CBS had a bit of golf overrun, delaying the start of prime time to 7:20 p.m. Otherwise, the network's only fresh program was "Big Brother," which was part of a block that delivered a 1.9 average in 18-49 at 8 p.m. -- apparently winning the night on broadcast, although adjustments will have to be made for the offset start times.

ABC broke out a couple of fresh shows, with "Celebrity Wife Swap" ticking up three-tenths from its series low a week ago to a 1.2 average in the 18-49 demo, while "Whodunnit?" rose one-tenth -- also from a series low last week -- to a 1.1.

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How Did This Ever Get On-Air? Asiana Airlines Says It Will Sue Cox's KTVU-TV, a TV News Powerhouse in the San Francisco Bay Area, for Broadcasting Prank Names of Pilots of the Jet that Crashed at SFO on July 6, 2013

"Asiana Airlines Inc. said a California television station 'seriously damaged' the carrier’s reputation by broadcasting incorrect [prankl] names of the pilots on its jet that crashed in San Francisco on July 6, 2013," reports Bloomberg.

The story says Asiana has "decided to take 'strong steps' to sue KTVU-TV because the report was racially discriminating, Lee Hyo Min, a spokeswoman for the South Korean airline, said in Seoul today. The company will take legal action in the U.S., she said." You can see a video clip of the report below.

The article continues: "KTVU channel 2 issued an apology on July 12 after its noon newscast that misidentified the Asiana pilots. The network said it made 'several mistakes' when it got the information, according to a statement on its website. Calls to the TV station in Oakland weren’t answered outside regular office hours today.

"The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board also apologized for 'inaccurate and offensive names that were mistakenly confirmed' as those of the pilots of the crashed jet, the Board said in a July 12 statement."

In its website statement KTVU said how the report made it on-air: "We made several mistakes when we received this information. First, we never read the names out loud, phonetically sounding them out.

"Then, during our phone call to the NTSB where the person confirmed the spellings of the names, we never asked that person to give us their position with the agency.

"We heard this person verify the information without questioning who they were and then rushed the names on our noon newscast."

According to TVSpy, the longtime industry website about local TV news, just a few days before KTVU aired the prank names the station "touted its coverage [of the jet crash] as being not only first, but '100% accurate': 'Being first on air and on every platform in all aspects of our coverage was a great accomplishment, but being 100% accurate, effectively using our great sources and social media without putting a single piece of erroneous information on our air, is what we are most proud of as a newsroom,' said News Director Lee Rosenthal at the time."

Here's the short video of the KTVU report. It's been viewed almost 8 million times on YouTube:

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ABC Family Hires New VP for Original Programming

ABC Family has named a new vice president, original programming. The cable channel announced today that the job is going to Kelly Goode.

Making the announcement was Kate Juergens, Executive Vice President, Original Programming and Development and Chief Creative Officer, ABC Family, to whom Goode will report.

"A top executive, Ms. Goode joins the network with vast experience in programming, formerly serving as GSN’s Head of Programming and most recently working as an in-house executive producer through an overall development deal with GSN," ABC Family said in its announcement. "In her new position, Ms. Goode will be responsible for all existing scripted series including drama and comedy. She will also focus on the important relationship with production teams and facilitate the communication between different productions and all ABC Family departments."

The cable network added in its announcement: "As the number of original series on ABC Family has increased dramatically, a dedicated Current team became necessary. Ms. Goode will head the Current team, within Juergens' programming department. Jennifer Gerstenblatt, Director Programming; Kelly Garrett and Danielle De Jesus, Managers Programming; and Julie Katchen, Coordinator Programming will report directly to Goode."

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Barbara Walters Makes It Official: Jenny McCarthy Is 'The View's' New Co-Host

Barbara Walters has put to rest months of rumors and speculation, making the official announcement today that Jenny McCarthy has been named as the new co-host of ABC's "The View."

McCarthy has been on the show 17 times, including eight appearances as a guest co-host. She will join the talk show full time starting Monday, Sept. 9, launching the show's 17th season.

Walters said in the official announcement: “We are delighted that Jenny will be joining us as a permanent co-host on ‘The View’ starting in September. Jenny brings us intelligence as well as warmth and humor. She can be serious and outrageous. She has connected with our audience and offers a fresh point of view. Jenny will be a great addition to the show as we usher in an exciting new chapter for ‘The View.’”

McCarthy commented: “I'm beyond thrilled to be joining Barbara and the other amazing women at the table. I'd like to thank ABC for this great opportunity. I'd also like to give a big thank you to VH1 for their support and for allowing me to fulfill this lifelong dream. I look forward to helping make hot topics a little bit hotter, and showing my mom that my interrupting skills have finally paid off.”

ABC added in its announcement: "This year, Ms. McCarthy brought her over-the-top comedic sensibilities to VH1 with her late-night talk show, 'The Jenny McCarthy Show.' She writes a blog and advice column, 'Ask Jenny,' for her hometown paper, the Chicago Sun-Times, answering reader questions about love, sex, single parenting and fitness. Playing recurring guest roles on such major network television shows as 'Two and a Half Men,' 'Just Shoot Me' and 'The Drew Carey Show,' she continues to be a sought-after comedic actress."

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Jenny McCarthy

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Bad News for Twinkie Lovers: In the Non-TV Story of the Day, the New Owner of the Venerable Snack Food Has Tinkered With the Twinkie

The good news is that the Twinkie is back. The bad news: It's not the same. The Associated Press reports that the company that now owns the Hostess brand has tinkered with the Twinkie, and the new version is smaller.

The new Twinkie reportedly weighs in at 38.5 grams per cake -- down from the previous 42.5 grams. Understandably, it's also lower in calories -- about 135 each, down from 150.

The new owner apparently isn't prepared to own up to tweaking the beloved snack food.

"A spokeswoman for Hostess, Hannah Arnold, said in an email Monday that the size change was made in 'mid-2012' by the predecessor company. That would mean it happened in the months leading up to its bankruptcy, as the company was trying to keep its head above water financially," the story reports. "Arnold has also said that the longer shelf life of Twinkies reported by The AP earlier this month was made by the predecessor company right before it went bankrupt. The 45-day shelf life, up from 26 days, was a separate change and hit shelves Nov. 1, she said."

The report notes that the new company is cutting operating costs by no longer using unionized workers.

"For retailers who request it, the company also said it's freezing Twinkies so stores can stamp their own expiration dates on them," the piece reports.

The report notes: "Twinkies and other snack cakes were purchased by private equity firms Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos & Co. after Hostess Brands said it was closing down in November. The firms are known for fixing up struggling brands."

Hostess has indicated that the price will remain the same, $3.99 for a box of 10 Twinkies.

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'Rizzoli & Isles' Off-Net Run Sold in 95% of U.S.

Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution announced today that it has locked up deals for a broadcast weekend off-net window for “Rizzoli & Isles” in 95% of the country for a fall 2015 premiere.

Ken Werner, President, and Rick Meril, Executive Vice President & General Sales Manager, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, made the announcement.

"The series has been sold into 170 markets including stations owned by Fox, CBS, Sinclair, Hearst, Gannett, Lin, Local TV, Cox, Raycom, Weigel, Meredith, Mission, Nexstar, New Age, Journal, Scripps, Gray, Grant, Max Media, London, West Virginia, Media, Lockwood, Drewry, Cordillera, Bonten, Bahakel, Citadel, Diversified, Woods, Schurz and Mckinnon," the announcement says.

The TNT show's fourth season debuted June 25 and was the highest-rated cable premiere of the summer, the announcement notes. "It is among the top 10 basic cable dramas of all time with adults 25-54 -- out of 165 original dramas -- and TNT’s #3 rated original series ever with adults 25-54 in the history of the cable network," the release notes.

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Al Jazeera America Lands Veteran of CNN, CBS News and ABC News

Al Jazeera America, which is readying for its launch next month, announced the hiring of a veteran of TV news operations including CNN, CBS News and ABC News. The channel named Sheila MacVicar as a correspondent for the prime-time current affairs newsmagazine "America Tonight."

"MacVicar, who will be based in Al Jazeera America’s Washington, D.C., bureau, will contribute to 'America Tonight’s' daily segments on the economy, international affairs, government, education, healthcare and the environment," the network announced. "MacVicar will join previously announced correspondents Adam May, Lori Jane Gliha and Christof Putzel, and special correspondent Soledad O’Brien."

Kim Bondy, executive producer for "America Tonight," said in the announcement: “Sheila MacVicar is an exceptional, veteran journalist who throughout her career has reported unbiased, fact-based stories. Sheila will bring more than 30 years of reporting experience, especially her ability to engage viewers on the issues that will most affect their lives, to America Tonight’s viewers.”

MacVicar has been a regular winner of news awards, with three Emmy Awards, an Edward R. Murrow award and a George Foster Peabody Award among her accolades. "She was a founding member of CNN’s post-9/11 award-winning investigative team and has extensive experience living in and reporting from conflict areas and regions with humanitarian crises, including the Balkans, Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa," Al Jazeera America noted.

MacVicar offered this comment in the announcement: “Al Jazeera America will be a channel committed to in-depth reporting that focuses on the human side of the story rather than on celebrities and statistics. That’s what I have done throughout my career and something I am truly looking forward to continuing to do here.”

MacVicar, who hails from Canada, most recently was international correspondent for CBS News.


Sheila MacVicar

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Cable News Channels Under Fire Over Trayvon Martin Coverage

Two cable news channels are under fire over their coverage of the trial of George Zimmerman in the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. The U.K. publication The Daily Mail reports that MSNBC and HLN are getting heat for televising a picture of Martin's dead body during Friday's trial coverage.

MSNBC only aired the photo for a brief moment, but a viewer took a picture of it, then emailed it to several websites. The picture then started spreading across the Web, the story reports.

Viewers upset by the image complained on Twitter about the photo, leading MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall write back that the photo was "an awful mistake," reports Mediaite.

HLN aired the same footage, Mediaite notes.

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Hollywood Rocked by Death of 31-Year-Old 'Glee' Star Cory Monteith

Hollywood responded to news of the death of "Glee" star Cory Monteith with an outpouring of grief and sympathy on social media sites, USA Today reports.

As previously reported, the 31-year-old actor, who played Finn on the Fox musical series, was found dead Saturday in a hotel room in Vancouver, several months after he had checked himself into a treatment center for substance addiction. He reportedly completed his treatment at that time and checked out in late April.

An autopsy is scheduled for Monteith today, as reported earlier.

Lea Michele, another star of the show who was Monteith's girlfriend both on and off the screen, had not yet released a statement, but CNN reported that her representatives asked Sunday that people "kindly respect Lea's privacy during this devastating time." Monteith's last public outing was reportedly with Michele June 8 at the Chrysalis Butterfly Ball.

Here are some of the celebrity tweets spotlighted in the USA Today report:

-- Ellen DeGeneres: "My heart breaks for the friends and family of Cory Monteith. What a loss."

-- Kim Kardashian: "Just heard about the death of Cory Monteith. So sad. Prayers 4 his family. Praying 4 Lea too! Words can't describe what they must be feeling."

-- Katy Perry: "Rest in peace Cory. My heart goes out to his family and loved ones. Our prayers are with you."

-- John Stamos: "We talked about how lucky he felt to be alive-and sober. We talked about playing drums. Glad i knew you Cory."

-- Neil Patrick Harris: "How sad to read about Cory Monteith passing away. What a shame. He was a lovely, kind, talented guy and will be missed."

-- Julianne Hough: "One of the kindest people I've ever met! My heart breaks for Cory's family and loved ones... You will be missed and forever loved Cory!"

-- Zooey Deschanel: "What an absolutely tragic loss of a very talented young man."

-- Rihanna: "Cory Monteith, may your spirit be at peace, and may you fly with the angels... Heartbreaking, my prayers are with all of his loved ones!"

-- Sophia Bush: "I saw him a few weeks ago in NY, looking so happy. heartbreaking…"

-- Mario Lopez: "RIP Cory Montieth... Such a nice guy, very down to earth. Incredibly sad....#TooYoungToDie"


Cory Monteith

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Lindsay Lohan Getting Into Business With OWN

OWN is upping the ante on its Lindsay Lohan bet, announcing plans for not only an Oprah Winfrey interview with the headline-magnet actress, but also an eight-part documentary series starring Lohan, Deadline.com reports.

Winfrey's exclusive interview with Lohan is set to air in August, the piece reports.

"Winfrey continues to be the go-to person for troubled celebs; this will be Lohan’s first post-rehab sit-down and comes on the heels of Winfrey’s much-publicized Lance Armstrong interviews in January," the story notes.

The eight-part documentary series starting Lohan will air in 2014, the piece adds.

OWN is coming off its best ratings quarter in network history, the report notes.


Lindsay Lohan

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NBC's 'Michael J. Fox Show' Adds Emmy-Winning Actress as Fox's Rival

NBC's high-profile fall comedy "The Michael J. Fox Show" has cast a high-profile actress as a rival character to Fox's news correspondent, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Anne Heche will play Susan Rodriguez-Jones, an anchor at NBC 4, where Fox's character Mike is returning to work after spending years battling Parkinson's, the story notes. Her character is a rival to Mike, after they worked together years earlier and she was involved in a suspicious incident in which she "lost" Mike in the Everglades, the piece adds.

Heche previously starred in NBC's "Save Me" and was a regular on HBO's "Hung." She broke out as a young actress on the NBC soap opera "Another World," earning a nomination for a Daytime Emmy in 1989 for outstanding juvenile female in a drama series before winning the Daytime Emmy two years later for outstanding younger actress in a drama series.

She later received a Primetime Emmy nomination for outstanding supporting actress in a miniseries or TV movie for the 2004 Lifetime production "Gracie's Choice."


Anne Heche

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Jimmy Kimmel Gets Married

Jimmy Kimmel, 45, married his longtime girlfriend Molly McNearney, 35, on Saturday, reports USA Today.

The wedding was held at the Ojai Valley Inn and included guests such as Matt Damon and his wife, Luciana, along with Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Howard Stern, John Krasinski and Ellen DeGeneres and Portia DeRossi, the story says.

The invitation requested that guests make a charitable donation instead of buying wedding gifts, People notes. This is the second marriage for Kimmel and the first for McNearney.


Molly McNearney and Jimmy Kimmel

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CBS Airs Disclaimer About Prejudice on 'Big Brother'

CBS has added a disclaimer to its reality show "Big Brother," which differs from the traditional TV warnings about violence or nudity in that it flags the presence of prejudice, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The warning reads, "'Big Brother' is a reality show about a group of people who have no privacy 24/7. At times, the Houseguests may reveal prejudices and other beliefs that CBS does not condone. Views or opinions expressed by a Houseguest are those of the individuals speaking and do not represent the views or opinions of CBS. Viewer discretion is advised.” The disclosure accompanied the show's Sunday airing.

As previously reported, the show drew attention when several houseguests were captured making racist and homophobic comments on its live feed.

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So How Did 'Sharknado' Perform in the Ratings? And More to the Point: How Did 'Sharknado' Affect the Rankings of 'Syfy's Most Awesomely Bad Horror Movie Titles'? Here's the New Top 10

Syfy garnered a lot of attention for "Sharknado," but the drama pulled in a relatively small audience given the amount of social-media attention the movie drew, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The original movie drew 1.4 million viewers on Thursday night, well below the turnout for a number of similarly themed Syfy movies in recent years, such as 2010's "Sharktopus," which was watched by 2.5 million viewers, and 2011's "Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid," which brought in 2.4 million viewers.

"Sharknado" drew younger viewers, however, with its 18-49 performance up 29% from the network's movie average this year. As previously reported, Syfy responded to a rising tide of celebrity-filled social-media buzz about "Sharknado" by announcing plans for a repeat airing and beginning the conversation about a possible sequel.

Meanwhile, EW.com was inspired by "Sharknado" to update its list of "Syfy's 17 most awesomely bad horror movie titles," with "Sharknado" vaulting to the top spot on the list.

Other entries include: "Sharktopus," at No. 2; "Piranhaconda," No. 3; "Mansquito," No. 4; and "Never Cry Werewolf" at No. 5.

Rounding out the Top 10: No. 6 -- "Mongolian Death Worm"; No. 7 -- "Kaw" (apparently inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds"); No. 8 -- "Jersey Shore Shark Attack"; No. 9 -- "Monster Ark"; No. 10 -- "Ice Spiders."

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Yuuup! A&E Prevails in Anti-SLAPP Motion Against Former 'Storage Wars' Star

A former "Storage Wars" star has been ordered to pay $122,692 of the legal bills for A&E, after he sued the network and Original Productions with allegations that the show was staged, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq.

Dave Hester -- known for his trademark storage auction call, "Yuuup!" -- sued in December, alleging that producers planted memorabilia that changed the show's outcomes, and that he was fired after complaining. A&E, for its part, responded that Hester was trying to make himself out to be a whistleblower, when he was just angry at the progress of his contract negotiations.

A&E succeeded in an anti-SLAPP motion, entitling the network to attorney fees and costs, even as the lawsuit continues, the story says. The defendants submitted bills for $138,194 for A&E and $43,263 for Original Productions.

SLAPP stands for "strategic lawsuit against public participation" and identifies a suit that is filed not necessarily with the expectation that the plaintiff will win the case but that is intended to inflict a heavy financial burden in an attempt to intimidate the defendant.

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Bill Cosby Set for Return to TV

Bill Cosby has a return to television in the works. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the comedy veteran will star in his first comedy special in three decades.

Cosby will be featured in "Far from Finished" on Comedy Central, marking his first television special since his landmark "Bill Cosby: Himself" in 1983. The new show will draw on material from shows earlier this year called "50 Years of Making You Laugh, Smile and Feel Good," the story says.

The special will air Nov. 24.


Bill Cosby

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USA Network Continues Push Into Comedy, Taps 'Heroes' and 'Numb3rs' Alums for New Project

An actor from "Heroes" and an actress from "Numb3rs" have been cast in the USA Network comedy pilot "Divide & Conquer." Deadline.com reports that Greg Grunberg of "Heroes" and Diane Farr of "Numb3rs" have joined the project.

The original half-hour production is part of a batch of recent comedy pilot orders by USA -- its first in 15 years. The order for "Divide & Conquer" follows orders for "Sirens," "Playing House" and "Love Is Dead," the story notes. The original comedies are geared as companions to off-network airings of "Modern Family" and will air starting in the first quarter of 2014, the story says.

"Divide & Conquer" is a family comedy that could pair well with "Modern Family," which will start its off-network run on USA Network on Sept. 24, the story notes. Grunberg and Farr play a couple with four children, with the dad feeling modern-day families over-parent their children, the story says.

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Did You Hear About J.K. Rowling's New Detective Novel? The Best-Selling 'Harry Potter' Author Wrote a Book as a Male British Army Officer, Earning Raves but Few Sales

The debut novel from a former British Army officer was published in April and earned rave reviews yet few sales, but there was a secret lurking behind the male name on the cover of "The Cuckoo's Calling": It was actually written by best-selling author J.K. Rowling, reports The New York Times.

Some readers praised the book but questioned whether it could have actually been a first novel because of its sophistication and assurance, the story notes. Despite earning rave reviews, it had sold just 1,500 copies in Britain.

The U.K.'s Sunday Times uncovered the author's identity after receiving a tip that the writer was the famed "Harry Potter" writer, the story says. (The Sunday Times is a subscription website, so access to the story isn't available to every reader.)

The Sunday Times found that the detective novel and Rowling's recent adult novel "The Casual Vacancy" shared the same agent, publisher and editor in Britain. The newspaper also hired computer linguistic experts to compare the two novels and the last "Harry Potter" novel. The result? The books had significant similarities.

The Sunday Times' arts editor Richard Brooks then said he confronted Rowling. "I e-mailed a blunt question: ‘I believe that Robert Galbraith is in fact J. K. Rowling, and will you please come back with a straightforward answer?,’” he tells The New York Times.

Rowling's spokeswoman responded that the writer had decided to admit her authorship.

The New York Times notes: "Ms. Rowling now stands to make a lot of money from this new book, and so do the publishers. One interesting aspect of the whole story is how Little, Brown essentially colluded in keeping a secret that caused it, at least until now, to forgo possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue."

As of Monday morning on Amazon, "The Cuckoo's Calling" was ranked No. 2 on its best-seller list, having spent only two days in the top 100, following Rowling's unmasking.

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Non-TV Story: Popular Frommer's Travel Guides, Which Were Sold to Google Last Summer for $23 Million, Have Been Bought Back by the Company's 83-Year-Old Founder, Who Will Soon Publish in Print Once Again

Arthur Frommer, the 83-year-old founder of of his namesake company, which is known for popular travel guides, has bought the brand back from Google, which did not publish any Frommer’s guidebooks.

"Now he is moving quickly to release his first batch of books in October under a new name, FrommerMedia," reports The New York TImes.

The story continues, "Mr. Frommer, often considered the father of the travel-guide business, wrote and published his first guide, 'The G.I.’s Guide to Traveling in Europe,' when he was a young Army corporal living in Berlin. That guide, turned into a book called 'Europe on $5 a Day,' became a huge success."

The article adds, "He has not had direct control over the Frommer’s guides for decades. In 1977, Frommer’s was sold to Simon & Schuster and later acquired by John Wiley & Sons. (Mr. Frommer remained involved as a consultant.) Last year, Google paid about $23 million for the brand, saying that it would incorporate the Frommer’s content from its books, mobile apps and Web site into local reviews. This year, it sold the brand back to Mr. Frommer for an undisclosed price. By the end of 2014, Mr. Frommer expects to release as many as 80 books. Mr. Frommer and his daughter, Pauline, will be co-presidents of the company. A new series, called EasyGuides, are an answer to the increasingly lengthy travel guides on the market that Mr. Frommer said were too long to be practical."

The story also notes that the popularity of the Internet has contributed to reduced sales of most travel guides in recent years.

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'Glee' Star Cory Monteith, 31, Who Played Finn on the Show, Found Dead in Hotel. No Foul Play Suspected. Death Comes Several Months After He Had Gone to a Treatment Facility for Substance Addiction. Autopsy Will Be Performed

"Cory Monteith, star of the hit Fox series 'Glee,' was found dead Saturday, July 13, 2013,  in a Canadian hotel room, according to Vancouver police," writes Amy Kaufman in the Los Angeles Times.

The story continues, "The sudden death of the 31-year-old Canadian actor [who played Finn Hudson on 'Glee'] came several months after he had voluntarily checked himself into a treatment facility for substance addiction."

The article adds, "Vancouver Police Department Acting Chief Doug LePard said at a televised news conference late Saturday 'all indications are that there was no foul play.' He also said that 'the cause of death wasn't immediately apparent.' Monteith was discovered shortly after noon in a room at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel in downtown Vancouver after he failed to check out as scheduled. He had been staying at the hotel since July 6, according to police.

"By the time Monteith's body was discovered by hotel staff he was 'clearly deceased,' LePard said. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday. Authorities declined to talk about anything found in Monteith's room but said hotel security records indicate he had returned alone in the early-morning hours and was believed to be alone at the time of his death."

The Times story adds, "Monteith had publicly discussed his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction and in late March had gone back into treatment. At that time, the actor's girlfriend and 'Glee' co-star, Lea Michele, released a public statement expressing her 'love and support' for Monteith, saying she would 'stand by him through this.' "

The story continues, "After a month-long stay, he exited the facility and was spotted by the paparazzi vacationing in Mexico with Michele, 26."

Said an Associated Press account of Monteith's death, "It was not Monteith's first time in rehab. He received treatment when he was 19 and had previously talked about his addiction struggles, saying he had a serious problem and took just 'anything and everything.' He told Parade magazine in 2011 that he was 'lucky to be alive.' "

Cory Monteigh ane Lea Michele.jpg

Cory Monteith and Lea Michele

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Hulu Owners Cancel Sale of Streaming Site

Hulu's owners have taken the streaming site off the auction block -- again. NBCUniversal, The Walt Disney Co. and 21st Century Fox announced a decision to keep the site and invest $750 million in it, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

This is the second time the owners have put the site on the block only to then cancel the sale, the piece notes.

"A news release announcing the decision was jointly issued by 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal and The Walt Disney Co. on Friday morning. It came after a final bid that reportedly topped $1 billion from DirecTV, one that reportedly topped $900 million from Peter Chernin and AT&T and interest from Time Warner Cable in acquiring a stake," THR reports.

Said Disney Chairman and CEO Robert Iger: “Hulu has emerged as one of the most consumer friendly, technologically innovative viewing platforms in the digital era. As its evolution continues, Disney and its partners are committing resources to enable Hulu to achieve its maximum potential."

Chase Carey, president and chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox, added: “We believe the best path forward for Hulu is a meaningful recapitalization that will further accelerate its growth under the current ownership structure."

THR notes: "The auction had drawn initial bids bids from Yahoo, Silver Lake Management with William Morris Endeavor, and also a final-round bid from Guggenheim Digital Media, the parent company of The Hollywood Reporter, in partnership with private equity firm KKR. Hulu generated about $695 million in revenue in 2012 via ad sales and through 4 million subscribers who pay for monthly access to Hulu Plus, the company's premium service."

Hulu's owners made a similar move two years ago after initiating a sale of the company. "Two years ago, some potential buyers were hesitant over a lack of assurances that Hulu would retain access to TV programming from Disney, Fox and NBCU if those companies were no longer equity owners," THR notes.

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ABC Shows Sink to Historic Lows; Lackluster Opening for New NBC Series

Fresh off a series low last week, an ABC show pushed the ratings bar even lower Thursday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. Meanwhile, the trend toward less-than-spectacular results for new summer series continued with a new NBC game show.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that ABC's "Motive" followed last week's series-low 0.9 average in viewers 18-49 with an even lower 0.8 last night, losing 11%. Elsewhere on ABC, "Wipeout" set a series low of its own with a 0.9, down 10% from its previous original. And completing a grim trifecta for ABC, "Rookie Blue" sank 17% from its previous original to a season-low 1.0, as ABC came in fifth for prime time overall among the broadcast networks.

The news wasn't much better for NBC, where the series premiere of "Hollywood Game Night" delivered a 1.3 average in the 18-49 demo at 10 p.m., 24% below the series premiere of "Stars Earn Stripes" last August. NBC opened prime time with a repeat episode of "The Winner Is …" (0.8 average), followed by the show's time slot premiere at 9 p.m. The fresh episode managed only a 1.0, shedding a hefty 47% from its most recent original. And NBC came in just a tick ahead of ABC for prime time overall.

At the upper end of Thursday night's broadcast ratings, Fox and CBS battled to a draw in the 18-49 demo, with both networks airing just one hour of fresh programming. CBS's "Big Brother" and Fox's "Hell's Kitchen" went head-to-head at 9 p.m., with both shows delivering 2.0 averages. The numbers for "Big Brother" have been trending higher since the racism issue surfaced recently on the show, and last night's episode came in 18% above last Wednesday's live show.

"Hell's Kitchen," which followed a repeat episode of the same series (1.1 average in 18-49 for the repeat), was down 5% from its previous original with its 2.0 average.

For prime time overall, CBS and Fox finished in a tie for first place with 1.6 averages in adults 18-49, followed by Univision (1.4 average), NBC (1.0) and ABC (0.9). CBS won total viewers with 6.0 million, followed by ABC (4.6 million), Fox (4.0 million), NBC (3.8 million) and Univision (3.7 million).

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Syfy Plans to Repeat 'Sharknado' After the Show Sets Off a Star-Studded Social Media Feeding Frenzy -- Is a Sequel in the Works?

Syfy's new title-tells-all TV movie "Sharknado" might have gone away quietly had it not been for social media, but after the Internet erupted in a feeding frenzy of posts about what Deadline.com calls the production's "bad special effects and even worse acting," Syfy plans to bring it back -- and is now talking about a sequel.

"Everyone -- and by ‘everyone’ we mean The Reporters Who Cover Television and the suits over at Discovery Channel who probably just saw their Shark Week franchise turned into a ratings minnow by the Syfy schlockflick -- was waiting Friday morning for the Nielsen ratings on the movie, in which the ecological nightmare caused by global warming triggers a freak weather system that results in a mega tornado choc-a-block with angry sharks who sail through the air attacking innocent children and blondes, and causing to be uttered such lines as 'they took my grandfather, so I really hate sharks," Deadline reports. "The movie culminates in a mano-a-sharko scene, in which our hero, Ian Ziering is swallowed by a flying shark but, happily, has his chainsaw with him at the time; he saws his way out and rescues the distressed damsel who’d earlier been consumed whole by same shark."

Just how crazy did the Internet go? Deadline reports: "Because it’s social media, real numbers vary wildly -- so what else is new? But Syfy is going with these, which are good enough for us: Sharknado clocked 5,000 tweets a minute at its peak -- TV’s most social program for the evening and the NBCUni cable network’s most social telecast ever. With 387,000 social mentions, 97% driven by Twitter, 'Sharknado' bested such competitive programming as CBS’s racial-slur-riddled 'Big Brother,' and came within 2,500 tweets of HBO’s 'Game of Thrones' wedding episode."

Syfy made this announcement this morning: “Given the enormous popular demand, Syfy will present a special encore presentation of 'Sharknado' on Thursday, July 18 at 7PM (ET/PT)."

A number of celebrities commented on the movie, Deadline notes, including Mia Farrow, who "tweeted a photo of herself with Philip Roth with whom she said she was watching 'Sharknado.' Maybe Roth did not appreciate the gag -- anyway, the photo that had been taken of them at a dinner party days earlier, vanished at some point," Deadline reports.

A few other celeb comments noted in the Deadline report:

From Greg Berlanti: “Somewhere in Hollywood there is a senior executive yelling at a junior executive for not coming up with #Sharknado first.”

Damon Lindelof offered: “This movie is such a ripoff of The Bicycle Thief.”

And this one from Michael Chiklis: “Oh Goddamn it, now I want to see it too and then I’m gonna want to quit this business…again!”


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New Drama Scores for FX With 3 Million Viewers

FX rolled out a high-profile new drama series Wednesday night, and the show delivered. B&C reports that the premiere of "The Bridge" at 10 p.m. averaged 3.04 million viewers on Wednesday at 10 p.m., according to Nielsen fast nationals.

"That was down slightly from FX's two most recent drama premieres of 'The Americans' (3.22M) in January and 'American Horror Story' (3.18M) in 2011," the report notes. "The premiere episode, which ran from 10-11:31 p.m., also delivered 1.16 million adults 18-49, which was also below both 'Americans' and 'AHS.' Combined with its encore telecast at 11:31 p.m., 'The Bridge' netted 4.12 million total viewers, slightly below 'The Americans'' premiere and first replay ('Americans' had two replays on its premiere night)."

“The Bridge” stars Diane Kruger and Demian Bichir and comes from "Homeland's" Meredith Stiehm. To read TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin's analysis of the show, please click here.

John Landgraf, CEO, FX Networks and FX Productions, commented: "We could not be prouder of this amazing series, which has garnered such incredible critical recognition. Meredith Stiehm and Elwood Reid have delivered a rich tapestry of intrigue and passion, and a story fraught with tension and suspense. And we're so lucky to have Demian Bichir and Diane Kruger, who so convincingly and appealingly embody their roles. We're grateful to our partners at Shine America and can't wait for audiences to see what happens next."

Fox International Channels plans a global launch for the show on the heels of the U.S. debut, with the series to air in 122 countries and 35 languages.

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Video: 'Fox & Friends' Segment Goes Awry When Co-Host Smacks Toddler in the Face With Basketball

A "Fox & Friends" segment suddenly went sour when co-host Brian Kilmeade threw a basketball in a toddler's face and made him cry, reports TVNewser.com.

Kilmeade was spotlighting the hoops skills of toddler sensation Titus Ashby when a bad pass hit the young boy in the face. The 2-year-old started to cry and reached for his father, the story notes.

Here's the clip:

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NBC Cancels Series

NBC has pulled the plug on a prime-time series after it returned with softer numbers this summer. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the network has retired Betty White's "Off Their Rockers."

The series finished its second season Tuesday, in a finale featuring both White and Ed Asner. Its ratings rebounded "significantly" for the finale, although the previous week the show pulled a series-low 0.8 rating in the 18-49 demo, the piece adds. The finale delivered a 1.0.

"Off Their Rockers" featured White emceeing pranks played by older people on younger victims, in a hidden-camera style like "Candid Camera."

TVbytheNumbers.com adds: "The entire season averaged a 1.5 adults 18-49 rating, not much worse than some of NBC's single-camera scripted comedies. However, it was one of the least DVR'd shows on television, while its 'cult' comedies like 'Community' have a passionate fan base and rise significantly in Live + 7 ratings."

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Why Are 'NCIS' Fans Begging Producers Not to Bring Back Jamie Lee Curtis?

Now that Cote de Pablo is leaving the CBS drama series "NCIS," fans are begging producers not to replace her with Jamie Lee Curtis, as much of the show's fan base has a dislike of the actress, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

A recent appearance by Curtis helped boost ratings, and producers added to her appearances as Dr. Samantha Ryan, a love interest for Gibbs, played by Mark Harmon. But now fans are worried CBS will bring her back to help viewership for the show's 11th season.

Hiring Curtis to replace de Pablo "would be the stake in the heart of this show," one commenter wrote Wednesday, the story notes.

"What's so bad about Curtis?" the story asks. "According to her many detractors, it all boils down to chemistry. As in, she didn't have any with Harmon."

One online commenter described as a longtime "NCIS" watcher got more specific about the objection to Curtis, writing: "Gibbs is supposed to be able to 'read' people, and to know whether they are trustworthy. Ryan is one of the *least* trustworthy characters this show has ever had. There is no reason why Gibbs would allow himself to get close to someone like her."

The Times piece adds: "The haters aren't just being paranoid. Curtis herself said she'd 'obviously love to' be a regular on the show if the writers could work it all out."

CBS confirmed this week that de Pablo, who played Ziva David for eight seasons on the show, won't be back for season 11, as previously reported.


Jamie Lee Curtis

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More Details Emerge About Leah Remini's Break With Scientology

More details are emerging about "King of Queens" actress Leah Remini's break from Scientology, with the New York Post's Page Six reporting the actress threatened to call the police about the whereabouts of the church's leader's wife, leading to her church-led interrogations.

As previously reported, Remini is breaking from the church after years of "interrogations" and "thought modification" after she questioned leader David Miscavige about the whereabouts of his wife at Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' 2006 wedding. Miscavige's wife, Shelly Miscavige, reportedly hasn't been seen in public since 2007.

A source told the publication: “When you ask a question, like, ‘Where is Shelly?,’ you are immediately hauled in, interrogated and asked, ‘Why are you asking, who are you connected to, are you going on the Internet?’”

Remini reportedly questioned the church's practices, including forcing its members to "disconnect" from family members termed "suppressive persons," the Post notes.

Because of her questions about Miscavige's wife and her threat to call the police, Remini reportedly underwent "thought modification" for five years, with friends and family members put through what the source called "security checking." She called it quits after the church tried the technique on her again this year, the story reports.

Remini released a statement Thursday thanking supporters. "I wish to share my sincere and heartfelt appreciation for the overwhelming positive response I have received from the media, my colleagues, and fans from around the world. I am truly grateful and thankful for all your support," she said in the statement.

A representative for Scientology didn't immediately return a request for comment, the Post notes.

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'Lost' Actress Joins NBC's 'Parenthood'

An actress known for her roles on ABC's "Lost" and "FlashForward" and USA Network's "Common Law" is joining the NBC series "Parenthood." EW.com's Inside TV reports that English actress Sonya Walger will play a recurring role in the show's fifth season.

Walger, who played Penny Widmore on "Lost" and was seen as Olivia Benford in ABC's short-lived "FlashForward," will portray a single, attractive architect named Meredith who works with Joel (Sam Jaeger) on a two-year project, the report notes. That ends up making Joel's wife, Julia (Erika Christensen), feel that Meredith is a threat, the story says.

Walger played Dr. Emma Ryan, a counselor to the show's lead characters, on "Common Law."


Sonya Walger

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Microsoft's Biggest Reorganization in Years: What Does It Mean for the Company's Future?

With Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announcing a major restructuring Thursday, industry watchers are focused on what it means for the company's direction.

CNET reports that Ballmer "has launched a restructuring of teams along functional, rather than product, lines, stressing that Microsoft has to focus on a single strategy and to work together with more collaboration and agility around common goals."

The idea is to speed the pace of innovation at the tech firm.

The CNET report adds: "Maybe the new organizational structure will better the odds of achieving breakthroughs, but it will take all the CEO's willpower, tenacity, smarts and positive energy to keep the ship steaming ahead."

USA Today notes: "The reorganization, outlined in a memo by CEO Steve Ballmer to employees, underscores a Microsoft refocusing on collaboration around disciplines and engineering areas to move faster."

On a conference call, Ballmer said: "The time frame for product releases, customer interactions and competitive responses [is] dramatically shorter than ever before."

USA Today adds: "The move comes as the company faces a worldwide downturn in PC buyers. Microsoft is also struggling to gain traction in mobile devices and services that keep pace with the likes of Apple and Google."

The USA Today report notes: "Ballmer in effect jettisoned the longstanding divisional hierarchy that took shape under his mentor, company co-founder Bill Gates. Certain business functions, including finance, marketing and business development, will move out of separate divisions and into their own company-wide groups with overarching senior executives."

USA Today cites Forrester analyst Frank Gillett, noting the shift from a structure based on products to a strategy aimed at how the company's devices function. Says Gillett: "You have a substantially different Microsoft than what we had yesterday."

Among the executive moves, "Terry Myerson, who now heads up Windows Phone, will be the executive vice president for operating system engineering, overseeing Windows, Windows Phone and the Xbox operating system," USA Today reports. "Satya Nadella, chief of Microsoft's server and tools group, has been named executive vice president for cloud and enterprise engineering, adding oversight of the company's data center network, known as Global Foundation Services, to his responsibilities."

Additionally, USA Today notes: "Julie Larson-Green, head of Windows engineering, will rise to executive vice president of devices and studio engineering, including the Microsoft Surface tablet, the Xbox hardware and mice and keyboards. And Qi Lu, chief of Bing and online services, will become executive vice president of apps and services engineering, adding most of Microsoft Office plus Skype, the Lync communications service and the Yammer business social network."

Don Mattrick, who has overseen Xbox, announced last week that he was leaving the company to become CEO of game company Zynga, as expected.

"Notably, Kurt DelBene, president of the Microsoft Office Division, will be retiring, and Rick Rashid, the longtime Microsoft Research chief, will 'move into a new role driving core OS innovation in our operating systems group,' according to Ballmer's memo," USA Today adds.

CNET notes: "The question that will remain unanswered for many months is whether the reorganization, even one that reduces energy-sapping internal turf battles, catalyzes any major, disruptive innovations, increased product velocity or newfound customer love to the company."

Innovation is clearly at the forefront of the company's agenda, CNET notes, with Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner saying this week during a keynote presentation at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference: "If you bet on Microsoft, you are not going to ask anymore, 'Hey, where is the innovation?' The challenge going forward is how do we keep up with it."

"The COO also said that Microsoft is delivering innovation faster than anyone can embrace it, and that the company's new fiscal year, which began July 1, will be the biggest year of innovation in its 38-year history," CNET adds.

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Former KCET-TV President and Longtime Executive Director of TV Academy Dies

The former president and founder of Los Angeles station KCET-TV, a longtime director of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, has died, the Los Angeles Times reports. James L. Loper was 81.

Loper helped turn the public broadcasting station into one of the country's biggest noncommercial stations, and went on to oversee the Television Academy, the story notes.

The obituary notes, "An Arizona transplant, Loper was a doctoral student at USC in the early 1960s when he joined a small group, the Committee for Educational Television, that was trying to establish a public broadcasting station in Los Angeles.

"When KCET went on the air in 1964, Loper was director of educational television. About two years later, he took charge of the station, first as vice president and general manager and then as president from 1971 to 1983."

Under his leadership, the station debuted three Peabody Award-winning programs: "Hollywood Television Theater," "Visions" and "Cosmos," a 1980 miniseries co-produced with its host, astronomer Carl Sagan.

The piece adds: "Loper resigned from KCET in 1983 after a Times investigation revealed that a bank account had been set up by the station to maintain his memberships in private clubs, professional organizations and charities. The station had been undergoing a financial crisis, exacerbated by cuts in federal support, that brought it to the brink of bankruptcy."

Loper served as executive director of the TV Academy from 1984 through 1999.

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NBC Doubles Down on Game Shows

NBC, which already has one high-profile new game show in the works in "Million Second Quiz," is doubling down on the game show genre. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the network has given a straight-to-series order for "Wall of Fame," a show featuring families competing for money by answering pop-culture trivia questions.

The show, which consists of eight hour-long episodes, will allow contestants to guess whether members of the celebrity "wall of fame" delivered the correct answer to the same questions, the story adds. The series is from Endemol USA.

"This series offers something for everyone in a unique game-show format that rewards families who know their pop-culture trivia,” said Paul Telegdy, NBC president of alternative and late-night programming.

NBC launched another new game show, "Hollywood Game Night," Thursday, July 11. "The unscripted series from Sean Hayes' production company features host Jane Lynch overseeing a group of celebrities and contestants playing for prizes," the report notes.

"Million Second Quiz," a live 24-hour show, is being readied for fall, with Ryan Seacrest close to a deal to host.

The report adds: "Endemol USA ('Wipeout,' '1 vs. 100,' 'Dating in the Dark') has a successful track record for producing game shows. The production company previously developed 'Deal or No Deal' based on the international format that aired in more than 50 countries and aired on NBC for four seasons, consistently ranking as one of NBC's highest-rated shows."

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Attention News Personnel -- Time to Polish Up That Resume. Al Jazeera America Hires Four New Anchors, Including One Who Won a Peabody at WWL. At Launch Al Jazeera America Says It Will Have 800 Staffers and 12 Bureaus

Al Jazeera America has hired four anchors as it continues to staff up for its late summer debut, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The network hired Jonathan Betz, Richelle Carey, Morgan Fogarty and Del Walters, the story says. Betz won a Peabody Award for team coverage of WWL-TV's coverage of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

Carey worked for seven years as a reporter and anchor for CNN, while Fogarty was a lead anchor at WCCB News in Charlotte, N.C. Walters has won more than 20 Emmys in two decades as an anchor and investigative reporter for WJLA-TV in Washington, the story notes.

The story adds, "The New York City-based [Al Jazeera America] will be available in some 50 million households starting in late August. Its parent company, Al Jazeera Media Network, purchased Current TV in January for $500 million.

"The new network expects to have a staff of 800 at launch and will have a dozen bureaus including Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, Nashville and New Orleans."

With Al Jazeera America funded by the government of Qatar, the piece notes that media watchers have said its biggest hurdle will be overcoming the perception that the news organization is anti-American.

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Netflix in Talks for More 'Arrested Development'

Netflix is talking with Imagine TV's Brian Grazer about producing another season of "Arrested Development," which would mark the show's fifth season and its second on the streaming site, reports Bloomberg.

“We are in conversations with them to do another,” Grazer told Bloomberg in an interview at the Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley, Idaho. "They are interested in doing that."

Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings has called original programs such as "Arrested Development" key to transforming the service into a Web-based television network, while currently it is mostly known for its rerun TV shows and already released movies.

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Paula Deen Hires Hollywood Attorney Known for Work With Keith Olbermann and Conan O'Brien

Embattled television chef Paula Deen is bringing in a big gun as she struggles to emerge from a scandal involving her use of the N-word.

Deen hired Patty Glaser, a Hollywood attorney for Keith Olbermann and Conan O'Brien, as part of a revamp of her legal team, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Glaser won't represent Deen in a lawsuit filed by a former restaurant manager, which led to Deen's admissions in a deposition that she had used racial epithets. Instead, Glaser will provide overall counsel to Deen and handle her relationships with sponsors, which took a negative turn after the deposition went public.

Deen has lost several large business partners, including Walmart and Food Network.

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2-to-1 You Can't Guess the Premise of This New Show in Development. Hint: It's Got Its Roots in the Classic Style of Such Hollywood Icons as Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Grace Kelly and Warren Beatty

In an exclusive story our friends at Deadline.com write of a new series in development at NBC that will be focused on the style of classic Hollywood films, "or a celebrity’s signature style (think Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Warren Beatty, etc.)."

Here's the giveaway. The story says, "Costume designer Janie Bryant -- best known for 'Mad Men' and her Emmy-winning work on HBO's 'Deadwood' -- is in development on a new design competition series with E.J. Johnston and James Deutch, co-creators of NBC’s fashion competition series 'Fashion Star.'"

The story continues, "In the new show -- working title 'Janie Bryant’s Hollywood' -- wannabe designers will be given a different challenge each week to create a garment in the style of a classic Hollywood film, or a celebrity’s signature style (think Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Warren Beatty, etc.). Bryant and the show’s judges will decide each week who best executed the challenge."

The show is being pitched to various cable outlets, the story says, including Bravo, E! and Lifetime.


Janie Bryant

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Nickelodeon Doubles Order for Comedy Series

Nickelodeon has doubled its order for a spinoff series. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the cable channel greenlighted 20 additional episodes of the "iCarly" and "Victorious" spinoff comedy "Sam & Cat."

The first season's episode count will now be 40. The show, which stars Jennette McCurdy as Sam Puckett and Ariana Grande as Cat Valentine, had the network's biggest live-action debut in three years, drawing 4.2 million viewers, the story says.

"Sam & Cat" debuted June 8, with the additional episode order coming after only four episode airings, the piece notes.

"The show has been so well-received, and competition is greater than ever these days. Making a hit show is even more challenging today than, say, 10 years ago," producer Dan Schneider told The Reporter. "It's a little daunting to do 40 episodes in your first season, but what makes it fun is the success, because we're all sharing in that."

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Another New Summer Series, Another 'Just OK' Opening; CBS Gets Good News

NBC rolled out a new series Wednesday night, and like most of the programming opening this summer, it bowed to less-than-spectacular viewer numbers, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the new dramedy "Camp," starring Rachel Griffiths, opened to a 1.5 average rating in viewers 18-49 -- good enough to win the 10 p.m. slot against soft broadcast competition. The number was a big improvement -- up 36% -- over the July 1 premiere of "Siberia," which managed only a 1.1.

NBC's Wednesday premiere of "America's Got Talent" was up 4% from the number for last Tuesday's installment with a 2.7 in the 18-49 demo. Overall, the Peacock Network came in second for prime time in the demo -- and first in total viewers.

Winning the night was Fox, which notched a 2.1 and a 2.2 in adults 18-49 for back-to-back installments of "MasterChef." The episodes were down 5% and 12%, respectively, from their June 26 equivalents.

CBS got good ratings news as "Big Brother" climbed 18% from last week's series low to notch a 2.0 in 18-49. The finale of "The American Baking Competition" equaled last week's 1.1 average.

ABC came in fifth among the broadcast nets with only two fresh programs: "The Lookout," mired in third place at 10 p.m. with a 0.7 average in viewers 18-49, and the series finale of "Family Tools," which failed to ratchet up much interest with a 0.6, equaling last week's series low.

For prime time overall, Fox's 2.1 average led the way in the 18-49 demo, followed by NBC (1.8 average), Univision (1.6), CBS (1.4) and ABC (0.7). NBC topped its rivals in total viewers with 7.3 million, followed by Fox (5.3 million), CBS (4.9 million), Univision (3.8 million) and ABC (2.8 million).

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Cheap 4K UHD TVs: Who Wins and Who Loses in the New TV Market?

Top executives from major TV sellers opened up about a new trend in the television set marketplace: the arrival of inexpensive 4K UHD television sets from third-tier and second-tier manufacturers. Dealerscope questioned them about whether the trend poses a threat to their brands.

Here are some of the comments:

Said Mike Fasulo, Executive Vice President, Sony: "I don’t see it as a threat. I see it as a terribly confusing situation for the consumer. I see some of it as irresponsible. … To shortchange the consumer is kind of disappointing. We’re just creating a new market, and already we’re hearing of brands coming out without upscaling, and trying to run a race to the bottom with pricing. Unfortunately, the consumer is going to be the victim in this case, which really bothers me. We emphasize not just the number of pixels but the picture engine that drives those pixels. We have eight million pixels in ours, and we’ll include the number in our specs, but the whole numbers game is not the play here; it’s really the experience."

Jay Vandenbree, Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Home Entertainment Group, LG, commented: "It potentially sets a pricing limitation that there is little value in the R&D and things that go with developing a technology like Ultra HD, and that certainly isn’t the truth. From an industry standpoint, we struggle every day to make sure we can extract the value from our product. For someone to come in and say it’s only worth $1,500, I think that’s a potential issue. Even if it’s successful in terms of people wanting to buy a brand-new technology at a small price, now there’s going to be dissatisfaction with its output -- especially in terms of overall picture quality and the 2K-to-4K upconversion. And that is just as bad for the industry, because it says the technology isn’t that good. But when done right, the technology is outstanding. I don’t understand why any retailer would want to support that, because it impacts their ability to be able to garner the value of the product. My opinion is that it’s a miss for a manufacturer wanting to drive that, or for a retailer wanting to support it."

Added Scott Ramirez, Vice President, Product Marketing & Development, Visual Products, Toshiba: "We don’t see those as a threat. The way we look at it is a customer who’s interested in 4K is interested because they appreciate good picture quality. And if that’s the case, once they compare the quality of those OPP (opening-price-point)-type 4K models versus Toshiba, with our CEVO 4K processor, we don’t believe they’d be interested in purchasing that low-cost 4K model, because it just won’t provide the same experience."

Please click on the link in the first paragraph, above, to read the other quotes in the Dealerscope report.

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Justin Bieber and Bill Clinton Talk Out the Bucket Incident

Justin Bieber's videotaped peeing-in-a-bucket display apparently caught the attention of Bill Clinton, who wound up having a conversation with the pop star about the incident, according to media reports.

Clinton was mentioned -- and not in a good way -- during Bieber's outburst, as previously reported, with the pop star spraying a cleaning substance on a photo of Clinton and shouting, "(F-bomb) Bill Clinton" just before running out the door of the New York restaurant where the incident took place.

USA Today reports: "On Wednesday evening, the pop star apparently reached out to Clinton to apologize. Bieber tweeted: '@billclinton thanks for taking the time to talk Mr. President. Your words meant alot. #greatguy.'"

Clinton did not respond with a tweet of his own, but the report confirms that a conversation took place between Clinton and Bieber.

"Extra reports that Bieber said he was sorry for disrespecting him. The two, who have met before, were said to have had a 'great conversation' and that Clinton accepted the apology," USA Today reports.

The piece adds: "E! reports that Clinton said something along the lines of: 'If that is the worst thing you have ever done, all is well.' And that Bieber offered to help out with the Clinton Foundation."

If you haven't seen the video of the bucket incident yet, you can click here to see it.

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Two Broadcasters Lead the Pack by a Wide Margin in News & Documentary Emmy Award Nominations -- We Have the Full List of Nominees

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences today announced the nominations for the 34th annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards, with two broadcasters -- CBS and PBS -- way out ahead of the pack in total number of nominations.

CBS raked in a total of 46 nods, with PBS close behind with 45. HBO came in a distant third with 21 nominations, followed by ABC with 14, NBC with 13, CNN with eight and MSNBC with five.

Winners will be announced Oct. 1 in a gala ceremony at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, in New York.

David Fanning, executive producer of "Frontline," will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, as previously announced.

To see the full list of nominees, please click here.

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Non-TV Story of the Day: Body of Boston Strangler to Be Exhumed

Authorities plan to exhume the body of the Boston Strangler, Albert H. DeSalvo, the Boston Globe reports. The move was set in motion to enable new forensic testing in the hope of proving DeSalvo killed Mary Sullivan in 1964.

The Boston Strangler terrorized the greater Boston area for two years in the 1960s.

"Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said that a DNA match has been made between DeSalvo, the self-confessed Boston Strangler, and the murder of 19-year-old Sullivan, who was raped and murdered and 'her body desecrated' in her Charles Street home on Jan. 4, 1964," the story reports. "Conley said the DNA testing showed a 'familial match' between forensic evidence in Sullivan’s killing, leading prosecutors to ask for a Suffolk Superior Court judge to order the exhumation of DeSalvo’s remains to prove 'once and for all' that DeSalvo murdered Sullivan."

Researchers and law enforcement officials have been unable to agree about whether DeSalvo was responsible for all of the 11 murders that have been attributed to him, the piece notes. DeSalvo confessed to the murders.

Said Conley: “At this point in time, 50 years removed from those deaths and without the biological evidence that we have in the Sullivan case, that is a question that we cannot answer. But these developments give us a glimmer of hope that there can be one day finality, if not accountability, for the families of the ten other women murdered so cruelly in Boston, Cambridge, Lawrence, Lynn and Salem.’’

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CBS Finds a Way to Replace the 'Half' in 'Two and a Half Men'

CBS is making a surprise casting move to fill time that used to be occupied by the "Half" on the hit sitcom "Two and a Half Men." The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that the network's scaling back of screen time for Angus T. Jones will be countered by the addition of a potentially permanent lesbian character named Jenny.

Jenny is the 21-year-old illegitimate daughter of the late Charlie Harper, who was portrayed by Charlie Sheen before he was fired from the show. News surfaced back in May that the show would be bringing aboard Harper's long-lost daughter.

Jones' screen time has been cut down after he publicly condemned the show last year, the piece notes. Jones went through what has been described as a high-profile meltdown that included calling the show "filth."

While the Jenny character, who will start off in a recurring role, has yet to be cast, she's said to share some traits with her father, including a love of women.

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Report: Sitcom Star Breaks From Scientology After 'Interrogations' and 'Thought Modification'

An actress who has been a familiar face on TV for years is reportedly breaking from the Church of Scientology. The New York Post's Page Six reports that "King of Queens" star Leah Remini is making the move after she underwent years of "interrogations" and "thought modification."

Remini is reportedly quitting the church because of policies that forbid members from questioning the management of leader David Miscavige, and for forcing believers to "disconnect" from family members who leave the church, the story says.

In one episode recounted by former Sea Org member Mike Rinder, he says Remini asked where Miscavige's wife, Shelly, was during Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' 2006 wedding. He reports that she was scolded by a high-ranking official, who told her she didn't have the "rank" to ask about Miscavige's wife.

The story adds that Shelly Miscavige allegedly hasn't been seen in public since 2007.

The report notes: "As a result, Remini 'was put through interrogations and blacklisted within the church that she donated millions to and that her family has spent their lives in. She was put through "thought modification" for five years,' our source said."

The source quoted in the story explains Remini's decision to leave the church, saying: "It all began when Leah questioned the validity of excommunication of people. She is stepping back from a regime she thinks is corrupt. She thinks no religion should tear apart a family or abuse someone under the umbrella of ‘religion.’”

The source said "internal reports" filed by longtime church friends of the actress led to an investigation by the church of Remini's family.

The report adds: "Someone close to Remini said she’s weighing going public 'when she sees what the church tries to do. She has heard they use people to scare you into silence.'”

The report quotes the source saying: “She’s from Brooklyn. The church can’t hurt her … they don’t have her family, that’s all that matters to her.”

A representative for Scientology denied the allegations.

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Leah Remini

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'American Idol' Alum Joining 'Glee' -- but Is the Casting Bad News for Him?

A popular alum of the Fox singing competition "American Idol" is joining the cast of another music-oriented Fox show, "Glee." Deadline.com reports that Adam Lambert, the runner-up in "Idol's" eighth season, will be a part of "Glee's" upcoming fifth season.

The casting was announced by "Glee" co-creator Ryan Murphy on Twitter, although he didn't provide details on Lambert's role.

The news could mean that Lambert is no longer on the shortlist for a seat at the "Idol" judges' table, the piece points out. He had been mentioned as a possible replacement for one of recent departures from the show, which include judges Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Randy Jackson.


Adam Lambert

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Video: Lamar Odom Meltdown, as the NBA Star and Kardashian Hubby Goes Off on Paparazzo, Trashes Camera Gear

NBA player Lamar Odom, the husband of Khloe Kardashian, had a bad moment caught on video Wednesday, when he "flipped out on a paparazzo in L.A.," TMZ.com reports.

A video of the incident shows Odom calmly posing for a photo with a fan in the middle of his meltdown. Another clip shows him apparently tossing camera equipment into the street.

TMZ says the incident was sparked by the photographer's questions about whether Odom had cheated on Kardashian.

"The confrontation was all captured on video as the photog -- not a TMZ guy -- rolled up to Lamar's car and asked if he stepped out on Khloe with a stripper," TMZ reports. "At first, Lamar calmly answered the question -- saying, 'I would never cheat on my wife, that's why I wear my wedding ring.'

"But things quickly turned -- when Lamar asked the photog for his name and then said, 'I'm gonna step out the car and I'm gonna talk to you.'"

Here are the clips:

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Joss Whedon Muse Joins CW's 'Arrow'

An actress who is a favorite of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" creator Joss Whedon has been cast on the CW's Greg Berlanti action-adventure series "Arrow." TheWrap.com reports that Summer Glau will appear on the series in a recurring role.

The show is based on the DC Comics character Green Arrow. Glau will portray "the enigmatically beautiful and professionally dangerous Isabel Rochev, Vice President of Acquisitions of Stellmoor International," the network said. She will appear on the series beginning with its Oct. 9 season premiere.

Glau appeared in Whedon's short-lived 2002 Fox space Western series "Firefly" and its 2005 feature film incarnation, "Serenity," and also had roles in Whedon's TV series "Angel" and "Dollhouse."


Summer Glau

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TV Chef Anthony Bourdain Unloads on Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber doesn't have a fan in television chef Anthony Bourdain, who took to Twitter to criticize the young singer after a video captured Bieber peeing in a janitor's bucket in a New York City restaurant, reports TMZ.com.

"The chef should have put his foot up this young punk’s ass," Bourdain wrote. He added, "My dishwasher ain’t cleaning that up, squirrel balls!" and: "Looking forward to seeing him open for Menudo at the State Fair -- in about ten years."

As previously reported, Bieber was captured on a video posted by TMZ that apparently showed him urinating in a mop bucket and laughing "like he's the king of the world."

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Randy Travis Remains in Critical Condition After Emergency Surgery

Country singer Randy Travis remained in critical condition in a Texas hospital following emergency surgery prompted by a stroke, USA Today reports.

Travis, 54, was in the hospital being treated for heart problems when he suffered the stroke. As previously reported, he was hospitalized Sunday after acquiring viral cardiomyopathy, a disease that weakens and enlarges the heart.

The singer's publicist, Kirt Webster, said Travis underwent surgery to relieve pressure on his brain.

In a statement released Wednesday, Webster said: "His family and friends here with him at the hospital request your prayers and support."

The report adds: "Doctors said earlier Wednesday that Travis was in good health until three weeks before he was hospitalized, when he contracted a viral upper respiratory infection.

"That information was released via video by physicians William Gray and Michael Mack of the Baylor Health Care System. Before Travis suffered the stroke, Mack said the singer's condition had stabilized 'and he has shown signs of improvement.'"

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TNT Skips Out on Geena Davis Bounty Hunter Project

TNT has decided not to move ahead with Geena Davis' bounty hunter pilot, in which the Oscar-winning actress was slated to play the main character, reports TVLine.

The series would have brought Davis, who starred in "Commander in Chief," back to television. Marsha Mason of "The Middle" was slated to play Davis' mother, who would work with her daughter on jobs, while Scott Bakula of "Quantum Leap" was cast as Davis' ex-husband.

Davis won an Oscar for "The Accidental Tourist" in 1989.

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Geena Davis

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Charles Dickens Novel Inspires Bravo Project

Bravo, the home of the "Real Housewives" reality franchise, is tackling a much different type of project. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel is working on "Fortune," which is inspired by the Charles Dickens novel "Bleak House."

"Fortune" is a one-hour drama series with a script in development from playwright Theresa Rebeck and executive producers John Wells and Andrew Stearn. Set in the present day, the project follows a prominent New York family battling over an inheritance.

Dickens' "Bleak House" tracked the endless legal battles over a fortune complicated by conflicting wills.


Charles Dickens

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'Breaking Bad' Character Gets Museum Exhibit

Walter White, the chemistry-teacher-turned-meth-maker on "Breaking Bad," is set to get his own museum exhibit, with the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, N.Y., working on an exhibit about the character, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

Called "From Mr. Chips to Scarface: Walter White's Transformation in 'Breaking Bad,'" the exhibit will include key props and costumes, including Heisenberg's hat and the character's hazmat suit.

Actor Bryan Cranston has won three Emmys for his portrayal of White on the AMC series.

The exhibit will run from July 26 to Oct. 27, and will include videos from the show, which starts its final season Aug. 11.


Bryan Cranston as Walter White

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'Legend of Korra' Adds Voices From 'Parks and Recreation,' 'House'

The animated Nickelodeon series "The Legend of Korra" has added several well-known voices to the cast for the second half of its first season, including Aubrey Plaza of "Parks and Recreation" and Lisa Edelstein of "House," reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Plaza will play Eska, a Waterbending cousin of Korra's, while her twin brother, Desna, will be voiced by Aaron Himelstein of "Joan of Arcadia." James Remar of "Dexter" will take on the role of Tonraq, Korra's father, while Edelstein will voice Kya, Tenzin's sister.

"Book 2," the second part of the show's first season, starts six months after Book 1 ended, when Korra won out over the villainous Amon and his Equalists. Book 2 will consist of 14 episodes and is set to debut later this year.

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'Freaks and Geeks' Actor -- He Also Played James Dean in a 2001 TV Movie -- Is Next Up for a Comedy Central Roast

The next featured guest in Comedy Central's roast series will be an actor who broke out with a role on the NBC series "Freaks and Geeks" and went on to a well-received lead performance in the TNT biopic "James Dean" in 2001.

The target of the roast is James Franco, the actor, writer, director and what The New York Times calls a "student of life."

Franco, who has also appeared in movies such as "127 Hours" and the "Spider-Man" trilogy, made the announcement in an Instagram video posted Tuesday evening.

"Hey, yo, what’s up? I’m going to get roasted on Comedy Central. Be sure to check it out. They wanted me to tell you that. All right. Ha ha," Franco said in what The Times described as a "laconic, half-mumbled style."

That created some questions over whether Franco would in fact follow other roast honorees such as Charlie Sheen and Roseanne Barr, but Comedy Central followed up with a news release that confirmed the roast.

The event will take place in Los Angeles in August and debut Sept. 2 on Comedy Central.

Franco won a Golden Globe for "James Dean" and was nominated two other times, for "127 Hours" and "Pineapple Express." He also received an Academy Award nomination for "127 Hours."


James Franco

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Whitney Houston's Daughter, Bobbi Kristina, Is Engaged to Person Who Grew Up in Her House With Her. Says Kristina, 'I'm Tired of People Saying 'Eww, You're Engaged to Your Brother.' He's Not Really My Brother'

"Whitney Houston's daughter Bobbi Kristina is officially engaged ... but she wants everyone to know it's not an incest thing -- 'cause her future hubby is not her BIOLOGICAL brother," writes TMZ.

The story continues, saying that Bobbi "posted the announcement on Facebook early this morning ... saying she's set to tie the knot with Nick Gordon ... the guy who Whitney brought into the family home and helped raise at an early age. FYI -- Whitney referred to Nick as her 'son' ... but never legally adopted him."

According to TMZ, Kristina continues, "I'm tired of hearing people say 'eww you're engaged to your brother.' ... Let me clear up something, we aren't even real brother and sister nor is he my adoptive brother. My mom never adopted him. In fact, mommy was the one who even said that she knew that we were going to start dating."

Kristina continues, "My mom knows me better than any of you. A lot of y'all are saying that y'all are only saying this all out of love. Which is bull because if that was so, all you would want is for me to be happy."

bobbi kristina and nick gordon.bmpBobbi Kristina and Nick Gordon


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One of the Regulars on TV's Most-Watched Series, 'NCIS,' Is Bowing Out of the Show

One of the regular cast members of the most-watched prime-time series on TV is leaving.

The show is CBS's "NCIS," and the cast member is Cote de Pablo, who has played Ziva David for the last 8 seasons of the show. "NCIS" started airing in 2003, and de Pablo started playing David in 2005. She's been in 187 episodes so far, according to IMDb

Write our friends at Deadline.com, "CBS has just confirmed that Cote de Pablo is not coming back for the 11th season of the network’s hit drama 'NCIS' this fall, though she will appear long enough for her character Ziva David to finish out her storyline. CBS and producer CBS TV Studios said in a joint statement today that the decision was de Pablo’s to end her longtime run on the show. 'We respect Cote’s decision, thank her for being an important part of the "NCIS" team, and for eight terrific years playing Ziva David', the statement says. 'Cote and CBS share a great respect for the "NCIS" audience, and we look forward to working with her and the producers on appropriate closure in this chapter of Ziva’s story.'

The story continues, "De Pablo had been the only other cast member without a deal (it expired at the end of the most current season) after star Mark Harmon re-upped in February, an agreement that allowed CBS to renew network TV’s most-watched drama soon after."

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Cote de Pablo

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Fox Moves Ahead With 'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen'

Fox has given a put pilot commitment to an adaptation of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" graphic novels, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

Michael Green of "Green Lantern" will write and executive produce and serve as showrunner should the project go to series. 3 Arts' Erwin Stoff will also executive produce, but neither Moore nor O'Neill will serve as executive producers, the piece adds.

The graphic novels feature a group of well-known Victorian literary characters, such as Captain Nemo and Dr. Jekyll, who work together to fight enemies. A film version was released in 2003, starring Sean Connery, but it wasn't well received.

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NBC Notches a Win in Broadcast Ratings

NBC won the broadcast ratings Tuesday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC's overall average, a 2.0 rating in the demo, gave the network a comfortable win on a night when many broadcast networks rolled out repeats and only a few fresh programs aired.

NBC was paced by its two-hour "America's Got Talent," which rose 4% from last week's season low to a 2.5 average in 18-49, the best number of the night for any broadcast show. Also on NBC, a fresh episode of "Betty White's Off Their Rockers" delivered a 1.0 -- up 25% from last week's all-time low for the series.

Fox went with a two-hour "So You Think You Can Dance," which equaled its number from last week -- a 1.5 in viewers 18-49.

ABC went up against "Dance" with a two-hour "Extreme Weight Loss," which improved 10% from last week's season low to deliver a 1.1 in the 18-49 demo. A repeat of "Body of Proof" at 10 p.m. managed only a 0.5.

CBS aired all repeats, but still managed to edge ABC for fourth place among the broadcast nets.

For prime time overall, NBC's 2.0 led the way in the 18-49 demo, followed by Univision (1.5 average), Fox (1.5), CBS (1.0) and ABC (0.9). NBC also won total viewers, averaging 7.6 million to lead CBS (6.7 million), Fox (4.4 million), Univision (3.8 million) and ABC (3.1 million).

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Former Reality TV Personality Faces Felony Charges in Alleged Robbery Attempt -- With a Gun, an 'Expandable Metal Baton' and a Bulletproof Vest

The estranged wife of a former Major League pitcher was arrested and charged with "two counts of felony aggravated assault with a weapon, one count of criminal trespass, and one count of possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime," the New York Daily News reports.

Anna Benson, 37, was featured on "Baseball Wives," which had a brief run on VH1 from November 2011 to January 2012. She was arrested Monday after allegedly breaking into the Atlanta apartment of her estranged husband, Kris Benson, who pitched for a number of teams during his Big League career, including the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets.

She was reportedly wearing a bulletproof vest during the incident, in which she is accused of wielding a gun and an "expandable metal baton," allegedly threatening to beat her husband with the baton in an attempt to rob him.

"Benson, who filed for divorce last year, told investigators he believed his soon-to-be ex was wearing the vest because she figured he was armed," the story reports.

The report adds: "A former FHM model who met the ex-Met while she was working as a dancer at an Atlanta strip joint, Anna Benson was a polarizing -- if shapely -- presence in Major League Baseball even before her hubby pitched for the Mets for two seasons in 2004 to 2005.

"Anna Benson did a jaw-dropping topless Penthouse spread when Kris Benson was a budding star in Pittsburgh and shocked the locals there by revealing they once had sex in the stadium parking lot -- while autograph-hungry fans waited just outside the tinted windows of their SUV."


Anna Benson

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Conde Nast Launches Video Channel

Conde Nast Entertainment today announced the launch of a new video channel -- the company's fifth digital video network. The new channel focuses on the Vanity Fair brand.

"At launch, programming for the channel will include four original series inspired by Vanity Fair," the company announced. "The lineup features a celebrity interview show hosted by Vanity Fair senior West Coast editor Krista Smith, a show based on Vanity Fair contributing editor David Kamp’s popular features and book series 'The Snob’s Dictionary,' a docu-series revolving around Manhattan’s most iconic addresses, and an animated 'how-to' series. The content will be widely distributed across all platforms including the official Vanity Fair video site http://video.vanityfair.com and YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/VanityFair as well as through syndicated partnerships. American Express, Salvatore Ferragamo and Acura will sponsor the channel launch."

Said Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Graydon Carter: “Our goal is to bring Vanity Fair to life in a new medium. If we do it right, these videos will be smart, entertaining, and a little bit unconventional.”

Dawn Ostroff, president of Conde Nast Entertainment, added: “Vanity Fair is one of our culture’s most influential brands, and their digital channel will only add to the global conversation sparked by the magazine. The channel takes the fabric of Vanity Fair and spins it into something fresh and new for the digital age.”

The press release offers the following program descriptions:

"Vanity Code": Vanity Fair’s animated “How-To” series offers solutions for unique life situations like How To…Behave at a Swinger’s Party, or How To…Feign Interest in Your Boss’s Children. This is a hilarious look at how to survive almost any cultural situation. #VanityCode

"@VFHollywood with Krista Smith": Tune in to see the latest stars stopping by Vanity Fair’s Los Angeles office to talk with senior west coast editor Krista Smith about their current and upcoming projects -- and then watch as they take a spin in VF’s video photo booth where they’ll answer revealing questions. With celebs like Diane Kruger, Guillermo del Toro, Amy Schumer, and Charlie Day, this series gives you an inside look of what’s coming up next in Hollywood. #VFHollywood

"The Snob’s Dictionary": Based on the books and Vanity Fair features written by VF contributing editor David Kamp, the 10-part Snob’s Dictionary web series is a window into the world of the cultural snob, for whom knowledge of subjects is more important than the actual enjoyment of them. Season one tackles film, food, music, and television, and will introduce viewers to Nick Drake, Heirloom Tomatoes, and many more snob-worthy objects and pursuits. #Snob

"Eminent Domains {NYC}": This 8-part web series will offer viewers a look at some of the most interesting, historic, and legendary addresses in New York City. From storied co-ops like The Dakota to high-end modern towers like 15 Central Park West, these iconic New York buildings have as interesting a story as their inhabitants. Future seasons of Eminent Domains will travel to other cities around the world. #VFDomains

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New Drama Series Crosses Boundaries

A new FX drama series, premiering tonight, Wednesday, July 10, 2013, may look on the surface like a lot of other cop shows, but TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin says there's more to "The Bridge" than meets the eye.

Please click here to read her insightful analysis of what sets "The Bridge," starring Diane Kruger and Demian Bichir, apart from the pack.

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Appearance on TV Show Leads to Death Threats

After their appearance on a TV reality show set off a torrent of criticism among viewers, the owners of a restaurant in Arizona are reportedly receiving death threats.

Amy and Samy Bouzaglo, who own Amy's Baking Company in Scottsdale, tell the U.K. newspaper The Daily Mail that they're getting death threats since appearing on Fox's "Kitchen Nightmares." They say they have contacted the police and FBI about the situation.

"Over the past couple of months, we’ve gone from being completely unknown to having people call us at 3 a.m. saying they’re going to break into our house with a rifle, rape me and kill my husband," Amy Bouzaglo said.

Her husband is also under threat of deportation to Israel by Homeland Security after serving 15 years in prison for drug trafficking in Europe, the story adds.

Since the episode, which depicted host Gordon Ramsay walking out on the couple after he said he couldn't help them, they've changed their tip policy, allowing servers to keep their gratuities, the story notes.

"Since the show, we recognize the outcry and now we’re giving the servers their tips. It would still work out in their favor to be be paid hourly, but now they’re guaranteed to make a minimum of $7.80 an hour and we make sure they go home with more than that, 100%," Amy Bouzaglo said.

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'The View' Fixture Exits Show, Heads to Fox News Channel

One of the longtime co-hosts of the ABC talk show "The View" is making the move to Fox News Channel. The New York Times reports that Elisabeth Hasselbeck has been hired by Fox News to replace Gretchen Carlson on "Fox & Friends."

Hasselbeck's last day on "The View" is expected to be today, and she will start on "Fox & Friends" in mid-September, the piece adds. Carlson will move to another daytime hour, although the time slot wasn't specified.

"Ms. Hasselbeck, who as the lone conservative on 'The View' sometimes came under attack from her more liberal co-hosts, will not feel that way on 'Fox & Friends.' The morning show is reliably conservative; the co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade seem to compete to one-up each other’s critiques of the president and Democrats," the story reports.

The change comes after Fox News announced plans to move Megyn Kelly, the anchor of "America Live," to prime time this summer, with speculation that she will take over Greta Van Susteren's 10 p.m. time slot, the story says. Kelly's move frees up some time during the day, where Carlson may end up moving.

The piece adds, "ABC indicated that the decision to leave 'The View' hastily was Ms. Hasselbeck’s. Her departure began to be rumored some months ago, but she and the show’s creator, Barbara Walters, have sidestepped the issue in interviews and in conversations on the show."

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Elisabeth Hasselbeck

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Leave It to Bieber: Latest Outrageous Incident Has the Pop Superstar Urinating in a Mop Bucket and Cursing Bill Clinton -- Here's the Video

Justin Bieber continues to attract more attention for his outlandish behavior than for his music, with a recently surfaced video posted by TMZ.com apparently showing the pop singer urinating in a mop bucket in the back room of a New York restaurant and "laughing like he's the king of the world," the website reports.

"The clip was shot in NYC earlier this year -- we're told Bieber and his idiotic friends were leaving some nightclub, exiting through a restaurant kitchen, and Bieber decided he needed to take a leak," TMZ reports. "But rather than go to a bathroom like a civilized person, Bieber -- wearing pants that should literally be illegal -- whipped out his junk and whizzed into a yellow mop bucket used to clean the restaurant's floors ... meaning whoever's job it was to mop the place up had to physically change Bieber's disgusting piss water."

The report speculates that Bieber and his friends were drunk, and notes: "Bieber's friends act like the restaurant should be honored that the singer decided to piss there."

The piece adds that at the end of the short video clip, "Bieber sprays a photo of Bill Clinton with cleaning liquid for some reason ... saying, 'F*** Bill Clinton!'"

Here's the clip:

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Ryan Seacrest Closes In on Deal to Host Yet Another Show

No one can accuse Ryan Seacrest of being shy about media exposure. Seacrest is close to signing a deal to host NBC's new reality show "Million Second Quiz," reports Lisa de Moraes at Deadline.com, adding that it's a continuation of the "Ryan Seacrest Overexposure March."

"To recap: Seacrest is already host of Fox’s 'American Idol,' a daily Clear Channel radio show, ABC’s 'New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.' He’s also the face of E!’s trophy-show coverage, and is the Kardashian family’s exec producer of choice. In a major image booster, he signed a big two-year deal with Comcast in which its NBC network put him to work special-corresponding for 'Today,' contributing to the network’s prime-time news programming and to its Olympics coverage," de Moraes notes.

But Seacrest's own idol was Dick Clark, who rarely turned down the chance to host a non-scripted show, she notes.

She adds, "It’s not news when Seacrest is this close to signing a deal to host NBC’s tacky-ish competition-in-a-glass-house show -- it’s news if he turns it down."

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Broadcast News Fixture May Move to Cable

A correspondent for NBC's recently wrapped "Rock Center," whose resume also includes a long stint at CBS News, has his sights set on a possible move to cable. TVNewser.com reports that Harry Smith may be joining CNBC, with the cable network in talks to hire the longtime morning newsman.

"Rock Center" aired its final broadcast on NBC last month, the story notes. Smith spent 25 years at CBS News, including stints on "The Early Show" and "CBS This Morning." He also contributed to "CBS Evening News with Dan Rather," "48 Hours" and other CBS News productions before leaving the network in 2011.

More recently he has reported for NBC News shows and filled in for Brian Williams on "Nightly News."

A CNBC representative said, "Harry Smith is one of the truly great TV journalists and fortunately already a member of the NBCUniversal News Group, so if we could figure out a way to utilize his skills to serve our viewers and users I’m sure we’d be interested.”


Harry Smith

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Here's What Set Off Kanye West's Latest Eruption -- and What He Wants You to Do About It

Kanye West is upset, and he's asking his fans to do something about it. TMZ.com reports that the musician took to Twitter to express his angst after learning that a rough cut of his new music video, "Black Skinhead," was leaked online Tuesday, before the video was finished.

After the unfinished video quickly spread over the Internet, West asked anyone who had posted the video to take it down, the story reports.

The early cut is rough, with glitchy CGI and too-dark images, the story says. On Twitter, West wrote that the final version will be ready within the next week and added in a separate tweet, "And to who ever leaked the video … F*** YOU!," the story notes.

West tweeted: "Me and Nick Knight have been working on this video for 5 months and for creatives it's heartbreaking when something like this happens."

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Los Angeles Bans Naked 'Project Runway' Billboard

Los Angeles has banned the racy new "Project Runway" billboard that features naked models at the feet of hosts Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, reports TooFab.

As previously reported, Lifetime just released the art for the upcoming 12th season of the show, which will premiere July 18. Click here to see the art.

Lifetime had no comment on the banning of the billboard, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed notes. Besides billboards, the photo was slated to run in magazines and on posters, websites and bus shelters. After Los Angeles deemed the naked version too risque, Lifetime instead will run a version with underwear, TooFab says.

The naked billboard will appear in New York City, however, the piece adds.

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'Lord of the Rings' Actor Cast in FX Drama

One of the stars of the "Lord of the Rings" film series is joining a drama project that's in the works at FX. Deadline.com reports that Sean Astin, who plays Samwise Gamgee in the "Rings" movies, has been cast in the pilot for "The Strain," directed by Guillermo del Toro.

It's not clear which character Astin will play in the project, which is based on the vampire trilogy del Toro co-wrote with Chuck Hogan. The project, which stars Corey Stoll, Mia Maestro and John Hurt, tracks a doctor as he investigates a virus that's an ancient strain of vampirism.


Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgee

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Rupert Murdoch to Appear Before British Parliament

News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch will appear before a committee of the British Parliament to discuss comments he made on a tape about a police probe into journalists' phone hacking and payments to public officials, reports the Los Angeles Times.

"Murdoch's comments, secretly recorded during his visit to the News Corp.-owned Sun tabloid in March, have exploded into a controversy over whether the press baron was condoning the payments to officials by suggesting such behavior was part of the 'culture of Fleet Street,'" the story reports.

Scotland Yard detectives had been looking for the tape of Murdoch discussing the issues, as we reported previously. Click here to listen to a portion of the tape.

"Mr. Murdoch welcomes the opportunity to return to the Select Committee and answer their questions. He looks forward to clearing up any misconceptions as soon as possible," News Corp. said in a statement Tuesday.

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Court Finds Apple 'Played a Central Role in Facilitating and Executing' a Conspiracy With Five Big Publishers to Raise the Price of E-Books

“A federal judge on Wednesday found that Apple violated antitrust law in helping raise the retail price of e-books, saying the company 'played a central role in facilitating and executing' a conspiracy with five big publishers," reports The New York Times.

The story continues: “'Without Apple’s orchestration of this conspiracy, it would not have succeeded as it did in the spring of 2010,' the judge, Denise L. Cote of United States District Court in Manhattan, said in her ruling. She said a trial for damages would follow.”

The article notes: “The Justice Department brought the antitrust case against Apple and the publishers a year ago. The publishers settled their cases, but Apple executives insisted that the company had done nothing wrong."

The piece adds: “The Justice Department said Apple’s deal with the publishers left Amazon with no choice but to raise prices. When Apple entered the e-book market in 2010, it changed the way publishers sold books by introducing a model called agency pricing, where the publisher -- not the retailer -- sets the price, and Apple took a cut of each sale. As a result, the publishers were able to set e-book prices higher. Apple proposed price caps of $12.99 and $14.99.

“Apple also included a condition in its contracts, called the most-favored nation clause, requiring the publishers to allow Apple to sell e-books at the same price as the books would be sold in any other store. Apple has said the clause was intended to guarantee that its customers got the lowest e-book prices, but the government argued that it defeated price competition.“

To read all the details about this story, we urge you to click on the link in our first paragraph, above, and read the original piece.

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Report: One Bidder Is Out of the Running in Hulu Sale

One bidder has been eliminated from the competition to buy Hulu after making a lower bid than the other would-be buyers, reports the New York Post.

That bidder is Guggenheim Digital Media and private-equity partner KKR, the story says. The other bidders are Chernin Entertainment, which is bidding with AT&T, along with DirecTV. Time Warner Cable is reportedly trying to become an investor in Hulu along with its current owners, as we reported yesterday.

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Former Cable Host Eliot Spitzer Near Tears on 'Morning Joe'

Former cable host Eliot Spitzer, who is hoping to revive his political career after resigning as New York governor amid a prostitution scandal, was close to tears in an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," reports Politico.

Spitzer, who hosted shows on Current TV and CNN following the scandal, was asked by Mika Brzezinski to give a personal answer on how he has changed since he left office.

"A lot of pain. A lot of pain. … You go through that pain, you change,” Spitzer said, with what the article calls "watery eyes" and visibly choking up.

After the interview, the show's hosts discussed whether Spitzer's tears were real.

"They felt real to me. I was sitting there, it felt very real to me,” said panelist and Republican adviser Nicole Wallace.

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Daytime TV Fixture Gets Syndicated Talk Show

NBC Broadcasting today announced plans for a new syndicated daytime talk show, to be hosted by a fixture of daytime television. "The Meredith Vieira Show" is being readied for a fall 2014 premiere, with the focus on the longtime "Today," "NBC Nightly News" and "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" personality.

Vieira will be an executive producer on the show, which will be produced and distributed by NBCUniversal Domestic TV Distribution.

Making the announcement was NBC Broadcasting Chairman Ted Harbert.

Said Harbert: "All of us at NBCU are so excited about this new show with Meredith. She creates an instant connection with audiences with her smart, quick-witted and down-to-earth style. This entertaining and substantive show will be a great way to reach her loyal daytime fans as well as new ones who will discover why Meredith is one of America's most loved television personalities."

The announcement adds: "Taped on a set that resembles her home (complete with her actual furniture and family photos), 'The Meredith Vieira Show' is a multi-segmented, exciting hour that will blend the host’s unique point of view, empathy, and sense of humor with insightful storytelling that will make viewers laugh, learn and feel inspired. Each day, the show will offer an exceptional mix of daytime fun along with feel-good human interest stories from everyday people to celebrity guests who have an important story to tell, lifestyle segments and key topics that highlight Vieira’s warm, relatable and distinctive personality."

Vieira offered this comment: “As a journalist on 'Today' and '60 Minutes,' I learned how to really listen to people and help give them a voice. On 'The View,' I unleashed my own opinionated self and discovered the empowerment that comes with sometimes heated, but always respectful, discussion. And on 'Millionaire,' I relished the joy of changing people's lives while having pure fun. All of these experiences, along with being a wife and mom, have led me here because they all share one common denominator ... this fundamental need we have to connect with and find inspiration in each other.”


Meredith Vieira

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Wow: Key Art Just Released for the Upcoming Season of 'Project Runway' Takes a Stripped-Down Approach -- and We Do Mean STRIPPED Down

Lifetime is getting down to the naked truth as it approaches the upcoming 12th season of "Project Runway," set to debut starting July 18. And that's "naked" as in, well, naked, if the just-released key art promoting the new season is any indication.

See for yourself …


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Mindshare Names New CEO for North America

Global media agency Mindshare, part of GroupM, is making a change in the leadership of its North American operation. The company named Colin Kinsella as CEO for North America, effective July 15.

Making the announcement was Mindshare Global CEO Nick Emery.

Said Emery: “Our challenge as a business is to realize media's potential to be our client's lead business partner. Everything begins and ends in media, and Colin's leadership will ensure that Mindshare is a business partner above and beyond the conventional.”

Kinsella will succeed Antony Young, who will stay with Mindshare but will shift his focus to global business projects and development, the company said. Both Kinsella and Young will report to Emery.

The announcement notes: "Kinsella comes to Mindshare with more than 20 years of experience in traditional and digital advertising. Most recently he was CEO North America for Digitas, a Publicis agency. In that role, he was responsible for driving growth, innovation and collaboration across the agency’s largest region."

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Discovery Will Mine 'Braveheart' Territory With New Miniseries

Discovery Channel today announced plans for a new miniseries. The channel greenlighted development of a scripted project with the working title "Untitled William Wallace and Robert The Bruce Project."

The production is based on historical books by Nigel Tranter.

"This miniseries brings to life Scottish patriots William Wallace and Robert Bruce and the Scottish unrest and turbulent times in 1296 after King Edward I of England invaded Scotland and imposed English rule," the channel said in its announcement. "Edward I’s reign over Scotland was never peaceable and Scottish discontent was widespread. In 1297, the country erupted in an open revolt as national resistance developed into a war of independence during which William Wallace and Robert Bruce played leading roles."

Since his death in 1305, Wallace has emerged as a prominent figure in literature, and was the title character of the 1995 Oscar-winning movie "Braveheart."

"Wallace spearheaded Scotland’s offensive against the English and his martyrdom paved the way for eventual success," Discovery noted. "Robert the Bruce, Scotland’s 'hero-king,' was descended from Scots, Gaelic and English nobility. His grandfather, Robert Bruce ‘The Competitor,’ was one of the claimants to the Scottish throne and Robert the Bruce fought tirelessly for Scotland’s independence from England through the reigns of Edward I and Edward II."

The new project is a co-production of Discovery and Scott Free Productions, with Ridley Scott and David W. Zucker serving as executive producers for Scott Free Productions.

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New NBC Series Bows to Soft Numbers; CBS's Summer Hit Slips

Monday's overnight ratings weren't horrible for the broadcast networks -- at least not by recent standards -- but the numbers didn't give anyone much to cheer about, either. Based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo, ABC and CBS finished in a tie for No. 1 in prime time with 1.7 average ratings.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that CBS's modest summer drama hit "Under the Dome" lost a little ground -- but still had enough to come in as the top show of the night on broadcast. "Dome" lost 7% from a week ago, settling for a 2.7 average in viewers 18-49. Combined with a lineup of repeat programming, that was enough for CBS to match ABC's total with all fresh programming.

ABC saw its two-hour "The Bachelorette" rise 6% from last week to deliver a 1.9 average in 18-49. Leading out from "Bachelorette" at 10 p.m., "Mistresses" showed signs of life, rising 9% from last week's series low to a 1.2.

NBC debuted its new series "Get Out Alive With Bear Grylls" and settled for a 1.4 average in adults 18-49 -- 18% below the premiere of "Stars Earn Stripes" last August. The rest of the NBC lineup was down from last week, with "American Ninja Warrior" slipping 6% from its two-hour premiere to a 1.6 and "Siberia" losing 10% from the premiere to record a 1.0.

Fox aired all repeats, and it showed, with Fox coming in a distant fifth among the broadcast nets.

For prime time overall, ABC and CBS led the standings in viewers 18-49 with their 1.7 averages, followed by Univision (1.5), NBC (1.3) and Fox (0.6). CBS moved ahead in total viewers with 6.5 million, topping ABC (5.9 million), NBC (4.0 million), Univision (3.8 million) and Fox (1.5 million).

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National TV Academy Reveals Winner of Lifetime Achievement Award, Readies for News and Documentary Emmys

Rolling out plans for the 34th annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced today that the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award will be David Fanning, executive producer of "Frontline."

The presentation will take place as part of the annual News and Documentary Emmys, set for Tuesday, Oct. 1, at Frederick P. Rose Hall in the Time Warner Center in New York.

Said NATAS Chairman Malachy Wienges: “David Fanning has guided 'Frontline' to the pinnacle of public affairs television. Working with some of the most talented journalists and producers in the business, 'Frontline' combines good reporting with good filmmaking that over several decades has engaged the television audience in many of the critical issues of our time."

Wienges noted that Fanning has won a number of Alfred I. duPont and Peabody Awards along with 57 Emmys.

David Winn, director of the News and Documentary Emmy Awards, added: “'Frontline' is among the most distinguished public affairs documentary series in television history. Executive producer David Fanning has served as its guiding hand since the show’s debut in 1983. Under his leadership, 'Frontline' has produced an astonishing body of work -- over 530 films -- and maintained a 30-year commitment to serious reporting on important topics."

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'Waltons' Actor Dies at 85

An actor with a string of TV credits spanning six decades, best known for his long-running role on the CBS drama "The Waltons," has died. Joe Conley, who portrayed the general store owner Ike Godsey on "The Waltons," died July 7, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 85.

No details of his death were immediately available, the story says.

The actor portrayed Godsey on 172 of the show's 212 episodes, which aired on CBS from 1971 through 1981, and in all six of the reunion telefilms, the story notes. (The general store owner was played by another actor, Woodrow Parfrey, in the series' two-hour pilot.) On the series, Conley played opposite Ronnie Claire Edwards, who appeared as his bossy wife, Corabeth Walton Godsey.

Conley's character owned the General Merchandise, rode a 1927 motorcycle and got married to Corabeth Walton in the third season, the piece adds.

Conley started out as a child radio star and then appeared on dozens of TV shows, including "Mister Ed," "Lassie," "Dragnet" and "Gunsmoke." He also appeared in films such as 2000's "Cast Away" and in TV commercials.


Joe Conley in "The Waltons"

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Randy Travis in Critical Condition, Undergoes Heart Surgery

Country music superstar and actor Randy Travis has been hospitalized and was in critical condition, according to media reports. TMZ.com reports that Travis was hospitalized after acquiring viral cardiomyopathy.

USA Today reports that Travis had heart surgery, according to a family member.

In a statement, Travis' sister-in-law Teresa Traywick said: "We have been told he has had surgery. Our prayers are going out to him because my husband just had a heart attack last year, so it is in their family. Their mother passed away at an early age with her heart, so it is like these boys are following right in their footsteps. My prayers are with them. That's all I can say right now."

Citing the Mayo Clinic, the TMZ story notes that cardiomyopathy is a "disease that weakens and enlarges your heart muscle." It's not clear what caused the condition in the 54-year-old singer, the story adds. He had been scheduled to perform Wednesday in Deadwood, S.D.

Travis has appeared in TV and films, including the TV series "Touched by an Angel" and the 2001 feature "Texas Rangers." He has had 16 No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart since breaking through in the mid-1980s, and is widely considered to be a key player in the evolution of country music, particularly in spurring the neotraditional movement.

He has had a series of hassles in the past year, including a high-profile run-in with the law last August in which he was reportedly found naked at the scene of a traffic accident and was accused of threatening to kill police officers during his arrest, as we reported previously.


Randy Travis

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Video: 'Big Brother' Host Julie Chen Says Racist Comments 'Took Me Back to the '70s' -- Here Are Some of the Controversial Comments From the Reality Show

"Big Brother" host Julie Chen said the racist comments uttered by the show's houseguests and captured on cameras "stung" her and took her "back to the '70s," reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Chen, who addressed the issue on her show "The Talk," said it reminded her of being bullied as a child.

"I took it personally," she said. "The really sad part was it took me back to the ’70s when I was growing up in Queens, when I was 7 years old, getting bullied and being called a chink. … The year is 2013! … Then I felt ignorant. There are still people who feel that way?"

The video clip below contains clips from "Big Brother," including remarks that have stirred controversy about racism and homophobia, along with Chen's comments and the reactions of other panelists on "The Talk."

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'Biggest Loser' Contestant Sued for Allegedly Gaining Weight

A fan favorite on NBC's "The Biggest Loser" is being sued for allegedly putting on too much weight. TheWrap.com reports that Tara Costa has been sued by a fitness company whose complaints include the allegation that she gained too much weight to serve as an effective promoter for the company.

Costa appeared on NBC's "The Biggest Loser: Couples 2" and lost 155 pounds. The lawsuit, however, alleges that Costa "had gained far too much weight" to make personal appearances for FC Online Marketing, which owns the Website I Love Kickboxing, the story says.

The lawsuit claims that her weight gain conflicts with their agreement, which reportedly includes an agreement for Costa to "maintain her current level of fitness and conditioning" during the pact, the piece adds.


Tara Costa

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Weird Statue Erected in London's Hyde Park as Monument to Popular TV Drama -- See for Yourself

An unusual 12-foot fiberglass statue has been erected in London's Hyde Park as tribute to a popular television drama. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the giant replica of actor Colin Firth coming out of the water is a tribute to the 1995 BBC drama "Pride and Prejudice."

The sculpture portrays Firth as Mr. Darcy at the moment when he emerges from a pond after a quick dip at his estate, Pemberley, the story says. The sculpture depicts that scene because U.K. television viewers recently voted the image as the most memorable in a British television drama.

The sculpture will remain in the Hyde Park's Serpentine for several days before going on a U.K. tour and then settling in at its permanent home in Lyme Park, Cheshire, where the scene was taped.


Colin Firth statue in London's Hyde Park

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Music Superstar Dislocates Shoulder Making Video, Is Hospitalized

A dislocated shoulder has sidelined a music superstar. The injury happened during the making of a music video, according to a number of media reports.

According to the New York Daily News, Mariah Carey was "inside nightclub Avenue in [the Manhattan neighborhood of] Chelsea from the early morning hours till she wrapped early in the evening, filming a music video for the Young Jeezy remix version of her hit single '#Beautiful,' which also features Miguel.

"An on-set source tells [the Daily News] that during filming, while dancing and singing in towering high heels, Carey toppled over and dislocated her shoulder."

A story by the Associated Press says Carey was then taken to a New York hospital (not named in the article) where, according to Carey's rep, " 'doctors reset her shoulder' and that 'she is fine.' "


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Why One 'Community' Star Is Being Downgraded to Part Time for Season Five

One of the stars of the NBC comedy series "Community" won't be seen nearly as much during the show's upcoming fifth season. Joe Adalian reports on New York Magazine's Vulture.com that actor Donald Glover is cutting back significantly on his appearances on the show.

The actor, who plays Troy Barnes, will appear in only five of the next season's 13 episodes, the story says. The reason is that Glover wants to spend more time working on Childish Gambino, a stage name under which he performs music.

Adalian writes: "Glover will now be able to focus more on his music, while Sony will save some money since it won't have to pay Glover for every episode. (Of course, once and future showrunner Dan Harmon might find a way to spend that extra coin. Maybe a 3-D episode?)"


Donald Glover

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Showtime Scores a First With 'Ray Donovan'

The new Showtime series "Ray Donovan" scored a first for the cable network. Deadline.com reports that the second episode of the drama series increased its audience from its premiere week -- a first for a freshman drama series on the pay-cable channel.

Sunday night's episode drew 1.56 million viewers at 10 p.m., while the previous week drew 1.35 million viewers, the piece notes. Including replays that same night, the show drew 2.2 million viewers. Meanwhile, "Dexter," which aired as the lead-in to "Ray Donovan," also improved its second-week viewership numbers, the first time the serial-killer drama has improved in its second week of a season, the story adds.

"Dexter" rose from 2.48 million viewers for the season premiere to 2.52 million for its 9 p.m. airing in week two.

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'Lincoln Lawyer' Director Signs On for Drama Series Based on James Patterson Books

The director of the Matthew McConaughey feature "The Lincoln Lawyer" has joined a project that aims to bring the James Patterson book series "Private" to television as a drama series.

Deadline.com reports that Brad Furman, who directed the 2011 thriller "The Lincoln Lawyer," is set to direct the TV drama.

The effort has been pitched as a straight-to-series project, with Sonar Entertainment producing. John McLaughlin of "The Black Swan" has written the two-episode pilot and will write additional episodes, while Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal of Tribeca Productions have joined as executive producers.

The project is about a former CIA agent named Jack Morgan who becomes a private detective.

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Bids Are in for Hulu. How the Streaming Service Will Be Transformed, Depending Upon Who Acquires It

Streaming site Hulu has received bids from at least three potential buyers, according to a number of media reports.

Most interesting may be how the service might be transformed, depending upon who acquires it.

According to Deadline.com: "Conventional wisdom is that DirecTV remains the bidder to beat. It’s said to be interested in bundling Hulu with its pay TV packages as well as offering a stand-alone option. AT&T [which is bidding with Chernin Entertainment] is understood to be intrigued by the possibility of making Hulu the centerpiece of a new wireless video business that would ask studios to help pay for costs to transmit video to mobile devices. Time Warner Cable, says Bloomberg, is eyeing an alternate route by seeking to become an investor alongside the current Hulu owners."

A definitive agreement is expected to be reached with one of the suitors in the next week or two, according to The Wall Street Journal

Another bidder for Hulu is the team of Guggenheim Digital Media and KKR, The WSJ reports.

The Deadline story notes: "The deadline for final offers was last Friday, July 5th, 2013. Hulu’s owners Fox and Disney want about $1B for the company. (Comcast also is a co-owner but relinquished control over Hulu’s affairs as a condition to win government approval to buy NBCUniversal.)"

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'Monty Python' Producer -- 'the Seventh Python' -- Wins Lawsuit Against the Other Troupe Members

A producer has scored a court victory over the members of the Monty Python comedy troupe. The Associated Press reports that Mark Forstater prevailed in a British court in a battle over royalties for "Spamalot," the stage musical based on the 1975 film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

Forstater brought the lawsuit against the Python troupe claiming he was a producer on the film, with his lawyers arguing that he should be treated as "the seventh Python" financially, the story says. At a hearing last year, Python member Michael Palin said that a seventh member of the group "was never going to be accepted by the Pythons."

"There were six of us. We were a tight group. We wrote our own material," Palin said.

But a judge ruled in favor of Forstater in his lawsuit against the five surviving Pythons. (Graham Chapman died in 1989.) The exact amount of the judgment will be decided in future hearings, the piece adds.

Forstater said that despite the lawsuit he still thinks the Pythons "are very funny."

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'Nashville' Promotes Three Cast Members to Full Time

ABC's "Nashville" promoted three actors to series regulars for the drama's second season, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

Sisters Lennon and Maisy Stella and "The O.C." actor Chris Carmack have been upped to full time.

The Stella sisters have appeared on the show since the pilot, cast as daughters to Connie Britton's character, the story notes. The sisters gained a following through their YouTube videos, which have millions of views, and their "Nashville" songs are among the show's most popular tracks on iTunes, the piece notes.

Carmack joined the show during the last six episodes of the drama's first season, playing Will, a friend of Scarlett's. His character puts on a womanizing personality to hide the fact that he's gay, which he worries will hamper his career in country music, the story notes.


Lennon and Maisy Stella

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Time to Set Yer DVRs Again. I Never Beliked an Oater More

By Chuck Ross

Back in the late 1960s I watched, or at least partly watched, one of the worst movies I've ever seen. It starred the wonderful singer Roy Orbison -- he was best known for singing "Pretty Woman" and dozens of other delightful songs -- in a musical Western wherein he played/carried a guitar that doubled as a rifle. Don’t ask. It wasn’t so bad that it was a hoot, it was so bad it was horrible.

So from then on, whenever I saw that this movie, “The Fastest Gun Alive,” was going to be on TV, I avoided it. Then, one day when I was in college I was at a friend’s house and he was all excited because "Alive" was going to be on TV that night. I said no way are we going to watch it, that It was the worst piece of cow manure I had ever seen. “I love Roy Orbison, but he’s a joke in this movie, and It’s not a funny joke.”

My friend started laughing. “What? You’re thinking about 'The Fastest Guitar Alive.' I said we’re going to watch 'The Fastest Gun Alive.'”

Oh boy, he was right. I had been avoiding the wrong movie for years. As it happens “The Fastest Gun Alive,” which I saw for the first time at my friend's house that night, and which I have now watched repeatedly, is an exceptional Western. It stars Glenn Ford, Broderick Crawford and Jeanne Crain, and all deliver the goods in “Alive.” Ford particularly gives a nuanced reading to his densely written character.

It’s the first movie I saw from the team of Russell Rouse and Clarence Greene, who were responsible for a small number of really smart, stellar movies, most of which are not familiar to most folks: “The Well,” “Wicked Woman,” “The Thief” and my favorite of theirs, “New York Confidential.”

“The Fastest Gun Alive” will be shown Tuesday morning, July 9, 2013, at 8 a.m. Pacific Time and 11 a.m Eastern Time on TCM (Turner Classic Movies). And it’s available to rent or buy anytime on Amazon’s streaming service. Unfortunately, it's not available for streaming on Netflix.

Rouse and Greene also have one true classic to their names: They were the screenwriters of the film noir standard “D.O.A.,” which was released in 1950 and starred Edmund O’Brien.

They also produced a terrific noir TV series, “Tightrope,” in which Michael Connors starred as an undercover cop in a pre-“Mannix” role. Unfortunately, “Tightrope,” produced by Columbia’s Screen Gems for CBS, lasted only through the 1959-1960 TV season.

The movie critic David Thompson, in his encyclopedic “The New Biographical Dictionary of Film,” has said of Russell Rouse, who both directed and co-wrote (with Frank Gilroy) “The Fastest Gun Alive,” that he was “a mysterious privateer whose handful of films are all trembling with some crazy ingenuity.” Nowhere is this “crazy ingenuity” more evident than in “The Fastest Gun Alive.” It’s a winner. And I loved the fact that when I first saw the movie I never saw the twist at the end coming. Check it out.

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Rover, Time to Get ON the Couch! Network for Dogs Coming to DirecTV

"Release the hounds: DogTV -- touted as the first TV network aimed at man’s best friend -- is a real 24-hour channel that will be unleashed on DirecTV starting Aug. 1, 2013, reports Todd Spangler in Variety.

Says the article, "According to PTV Media, the company behind DogTV, it spent more than four years developing and testing a 24-hour TV channel aimed at pups of all breeds."

Furthermore, the story notes, "What, exactly, is on the network? Forget human-oriented fare like 'Old Yeller' or 'Lassie': DogTV’s programming comprises 3- to 6-minute video clips in three categories: relaxation, stimulation and 'exposure,' which centers on segments designed to habituate dogs to domestic stimuli (like riding in a car with a toddler).

“ 'The dog-approved programming content was created to entertain, relax and stimulate stay-at-home dogs, so owners don’t come home to ripped-up couches, shredded magazines or a favorite pair of heels chewed to bits,' the company says."

Dog TV has been tested "only in San Diego, launched last year with Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable, as well as online and through Roku Internet set-tops for $9.99 per month," the article says, adding that DirecTV will charge $4.99 a month for DogTV after a promo period.


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'Big Brother' Focuses on Racism, Homophobia -- and It Pays Off

CBS's "Big Brother" brought its recent outbreak of racism and homophobia out of the relative obscurity of the live Internet feed and into the glaring spotlight of the prime-time broadcast Sunday night -- and got a ratings bump out of it, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"After a week of controversy, the Sunday episode of CBS's long-running reality series aired homophobic and racist remarks from two contestants, Aaryn Gries and GinaMarie Zimmerman. As a result, ratings zoomed 11% in the key adults ages 18 to 49 demographic, compared with the season premiere a week earlier, according to Nielsen," the story reports. "A total of 6.2 million viewers tuned in, enabling CBS to walk away with the 8 p.m. hour, early numbers showed."

As we reported separately, it was a low-rated night overall for the broadcast networks, with CBS and Fox tying for No. 1 in the 18-49 demo for prime time overall with 1.2 averages, based on Nielsen overnights. But "Big Brother" was the highest-rated show on broadcast prime.

"The comments from Gries and Zimmerman had aired on the show's online live stream, but it had been unclear whether CBS would actually air the material on broadcast. Last week, the network issued a statement distancing itself from their remarks; the pair also lost their regular jobs back home as a result," the Times reports. "Gries told an Asian American contestant to 'go make some rice.' Zimmerman, who had worked as a beauty-pageant coordinator, used the N-word in criticizing welfare."

However, even with the controversy, the report notes that "Big Brother" is off to a less-than-stellar start on the season. "Ratings for the first four episodes represent the show's worst opening average since 2008," the piece notes.

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Fox's All-Repeat Animation Lineup Ties CBS Atop Sunday Ratings

Sunday’s prime-time ratings weren’t much to shout about on the broadcast networks, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the best anyone was able to average for the four hours was a 1.2 rating, with both Fox and CBS hitting that mark.

CBS had a mostly repeat lineup, but got a little help from a fresh installment of “Big Brother” -- which received plenty of publicity leading up to Sunday over racism and homophobia among the houseguests. The episode brought the issues out of the shadows of the online live feeds and onto the broadcast airwaves -- including naming names, as reported separately. The strategy appeared to pay off with a bump in the ratings: The show ticked up 11% from last week to a 2.1 average in 18-49, the best rating for any show on broadcast that night.

Fox’s “winning strategy” was perhaps even more of a surprise, as the network matched CBS’s number with an all-repeat animation lineup. Highlights included a 1.7 in the 18-49 demo for “Family Guy,” a 1.5 for “American Dad” and a 1.4 for “The Simpsons.”

NBC filled its air with mostly repeat programming, with its only original, “Crossing Lines,” settling for a meager 0.6 in viewers 18-49 at 10 p.m.

ABC, which tied NBC for last place overall in prime time, also mixed repeats and originals, with a fresh “Celebrity Wife Swap” earning a 0.9 average in 18-49 while “Whodunnit?” improved only slightly on that number, reaching a 1.0.

The numbers for prime time overall show Fox and CBS at the head of the pack in the 18-49 demo with 1.2 averages, followed by Univision (1.1 average), then NBC and ABC tied at 0.9. CBS won total viewers with 5.4 million, followed by NBC (3.7 million), ABC (3.3 million), Fox (2.7 million) and Univision (2.4 million).

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21st Century Fox Realigns Television Syndication and Distribution Business

21st Century Fox today announced it has "realigned its television syndication and distribution unit Twentieth Television, formerly part of Fox Television Stations, under Twentieth Century Fox Television, the Company’s television production studio. Twentieth Television will continue to be led by President Greg Meidel, who will now report to Gary Newman and Dana Walden, Chairmen, Twentieth Century Fox Television."

The announcement continues: "Under this new structure, Mr. Meidel and his team at Twentieth Television will continue to handle all domestic broadcast and cable television syndication, distribution and barter deals for Twentieth Century Fox Television’s broad portfolio of hit shows. These include 'Modern Family,' 'Glee,' 'How I Met Your Mother,' 'New Girl,' 'Family Guy' and 'The Simpsons' as well as Fox 21’s 'Homeland' and Fox Television Studios’ 'The Americans,' among many others. In addition, Twentieth Television will manage distribution for Twentieth Century Fox Film’s motion picture library, as well as shows produced by FX Productions and Fox Television Stations.

"Fox Television Stations will continue to develop and produce first-run programming, which will now be overseen by Stephen Brown, Executive Vice President, Programming and Development, reporting to Jack Abernethy, Chief Executive Officer of Fox Television Stations."

The rest of the announcement says: " 'This reorganization underscores the changing landscape of the syndication TV business, more closely aligning the distribution of our shows with our content creators,' said Chase Carey, President and Chief Operating Officer, 21st Century Fox. 'I am confident that Greg will continue to be a driving force in capturing revenue opportunities for the programming we produce, including Twentieth Century Fox Television powerhouse brands like "Glee" and "Modern Family." '  

"Carey continued, 'Fox Television Stations has achieved great success over recent years and built a real position of leadership, expanding its footprint in key markets and bringing innovative programming to its millions of loyal viewers with investments in first-run production as well as news, live event TV and talk.' "

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Fallen Star: Rapper and Onetime R&B Chart Topper, Winner of Many Grammys, Reports to Prison

A singer-songwriter, rapper, producer and actress who has been a huge star, topping the charts and raking in multiple Grammy Awards, reported to prison today. The Los Angeles Times reports that Lauryn Hill, formerly of the Fugees, began serving a three-month sentence in Connecticut for failing to pay about $1 million in taxes.

Hill reported to federal prison in Danbury, Conn., according to a spokesma for the Bureau of Prisons. After she completes her term behind bars, she is expected to spend another three months in home confinement.

The story reports: “Hill was sentenced in May, the result of leaving taxes on earnings of over $2 million unpaid from 2005 to 2009. At the time the singer's attorney said she'd paid back the debt; Hill herself compared the music business to a form of slavery and said she'd ‘had an economic system imposed on me,’ according to the AP.”

Hill wrote about her prison sentence recently in an online posting, writing on Tumblr: "I shuddered during sentencing when I kept hearing the term 'make the IRS whole' ... make the IRS whole, knowing that I got into these very circumstances having to deal with the very energies of inequity and resistance that created and perpetuated these savage inequalites. The entire time, I thought, who has made black people whole?!"

Hill’s last album was the 2002 release "MTV Unplugged No. 2.0," the report notes, adding: “In May she released a single, ‘Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix),’ the initial offering from a new deal with Sony Music.”

lauryn-hill.jpgLauryn Hill

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Turner Entertainment Networks Names Chief Strategy Officer

Turner Entertainment Networks, the division of Turner Broadcasting that includes TBS, TNT, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and truTV, announced that it has promoted Jennifer Dorian to chief strategy officer.

“Dorian, who most recently served as senior vice president of strategic development, will continue to work with network executives to create strategies that will strengthen and sustain the TEN brands and business in today's rapidly evolving media world,” the company announced. “In addition, Dorian will lead and facilitate strategies to evolve the cable portfolio into a multi-screen video company. She is based in Atlanta and reports to Steve Koonin, president of TEN.”

Said Koonin: "Jennifer possesses that rare combination of creative imagination, strong business sense and impeccable communication skills, qualities that are vital to creating and implementing successful business strategies for our brands. In addition, Jennifer's extensive involvement in the TBS, TNT, TCM and truTV brands makes her the perfect person to develop strategic initiatives that will continue to grow and strengthen them in the future."

Dorian was previously senior VP, network strategy and brand development, for Turner Entertainment Networks.

The company noted in its announcement that in her most recent capacity Dorian “oversaw strategic business planning and brand identity development and image marketing for both networks. Prior to that position, Dorian was vice president of branding for TNT where, in 2001, she led the network's launch and ongoing strategic brand positioning as ‘TNT: We Know Drama.’ Dorian's positioning of the brand became a resounding success, with TNT ranking as ad-supported cable's #1 network in delivery of key adult demos for six consecutive years. TNT has been able to monetize its positioning with advertisers in large part because of the groundwork laid by Dorian and the network team.”

Dorian also oversaw the implementation of the "TBS Very Funny" brand in 2004.

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'Big Brother' Houseguests in Hot Water

Three "Big Brother' houseguests got in trouble after the CBS show's live feed captured them uttering offensive statements, with the comments by the three cast members prompting reactions from their employers, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Contestant Spencer Clawson, 31, made comments that included gay slurs, praised Hitler as a gifted speaker and used the C-word, sparking his employer, Union Pacific Railroad, to issue a statement distancing itself from his remarks.

"The values represented by Spencer Clawson's comments during the 'Big Brother' show do not at all align with Union Pacific's values. Mr. Clawson is on unpaid leave of absence while participating on 'Big Brother.' Union Pacific does not condone his comments," the company said in a statement.

Two other houseguests have seen their professional careers take a hit after insensitive comments were recorded. Aaryn Gries was dropped by modeling agency Zephyr Talent, while GinaMarie Zimmerman was fired as an employee at East Coast USA Pageant, the story notes.

CBS responded to the comments last week, as previously reported, indicating it did not condone the houseguests’ comments.

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Oops: Starz Announces Hiring of Actor for High-Profile Role, Then Announces That the Announcement Was a Mistake

Starz found itself backpedaling after an erroneous announcement of the hiring of an actor for a high-profile role. The pay-cable channel said its digital division made a mistake when it tweeted that Sam Heughan had been cast as Jamie Fraser in its adaptation of the novel "Outlander," reports Deadline.com.

Starz took down the original tweet, and a representative said that the actor is in talks with the network, but there's no deal yet. "Outlander" author Diana Gabaldon wrote Friday on Twitter, after the original tweet was taken down: "I can't confirm that contract is signed, but saw @heughan audition tapes. #jawdrop."

Heughan has appeared in the BBC series "Doctors" and in the 2007 TV movie "A Very British Sex Scandal."

"Outlander," which has sold 20 million copies worldwide, is about a British World War II nurse who time travels to 18th century Scotland, where she falls in love with the warrior Jamie Fraser.

sam-heughan.jpgSam Heughan

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Scotland Yard Tracking Down Secret Rupert Murdoch Tape

Scotland Yard is on the case of a secret recording of News Corp. mogul Rupert Murdoch. The U.K. newspaper The Guardian reports that Scotland Yard detectives are hunting for the tape, which reportedly captures Murdoch admitting to Sun journalists that payments to public officials were part of "the culture of Fleet Street."

British authorities have made a formal request to Exaro News, which broke the story, to provide the undercover recording, the story says.

"DCI Laurence Smith told Exaro News that the police would seek a production order compelling it to disclose the recording if it did not do so voluntarily. It is understood the police have also approached Channel 4, which aired a small part of the recordings," the story reports.

The piece adds: "The development is the clearest indication yet that police in London are ready to examine Murdoch's private disclosures since the tapes emerged on Wednesday night."

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Adman Charles Saatchi, Who Was Shown in a Photo Grabbing His Wife by the Throat, Says He's Divorcing Her for Not Defending Him Against Allegations of Abuse

Multimillionaire Charles Saatchi informed his wife, celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, that he's divorcing her via a statement to the British newspaper the Daily Mail.

In a statement to the newspaper Sunday, he told Lawson that he made the "heartbreaking" decision because she failed to defend him against allegations of abuse.

As previously reported, Lawson was photographed being grabbed by the throat by her husband at a restaurant, sparking an uproar over what some said looked like an abusive incident. Lawson stars on the ABC cooking competition show "The Taste," while Saatchi made his fortune in advertising.

At one point Saatchi offered the bizarre explanation that what he had actually been doing when he was photographed was trying to remove "snot" from Lawson's nose.

"I am sorry to announce that Nigella Lawson and I are getting divorced," Saatchi told the newspaper in a statement. "I feel that I have clearly been a disappointment to Nigella during the last year or so, and I am disappointed that she was advised to make no public comment to explain that I abhor violence of any kind against women, and have never abused her physically in any way."

Since the photographs of the incident were published, Lawson and Saatchi haven't spoken with each other, with Lawson refusing to answer his calls or return his text messages, the piece notes. The couple have been married for 10 years.

There was no immediate response from Lawson or her representatives following the announcement, according to CNN.

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You Watch and Decide: YouTube Originally Banned Justin Timberlake's New Music Video for Being Too Explicit. Now, It's Back on YouTube

A racy new Justin Timberlake music video is running on YouTube (and can be seen below) after the website reportedly lifted a ban on it, according to Rolling Stone.

The video for “Tunnel Vision” is labeled as “explicit” on YouTube. After reportedly being banned for a short period of time, the video is back on the world's most popular video site, with a caution: "Content Warning. This video may be inappropriate for some users." It also has a box asking users to confirm their age. 

“The racy video hit the web last Wednesday, and features topless women dancing lithely while a fully-clothed Timberlake dances in various montages,” Rolling Stone reports. “The seven-minute video also features images of the singer's face projected onto the naked dancers while longtime producer and collaborator Timbaland provides additional vocals.”

In a survey by Alabama Media Group’s website AL.com, more than 300 readers indicated the video is “pornographic.” More than 200 respondents labeled it “just another music video,” while 167 people considered it “art,” the AL.com story reports.

The report notes that YouTube’s official policy states: "Most nudity is not allowed, particularly if it is in a sexual context. Generally if a video is intended to be sexually provocative, it is less likely to be acceptable for YouTube.”

Here’s the video -- with our warning that it’s more explicit than what you’re used to on YouTube. The video primarily consists of TImberlake singing and naked women dancing, with their breasts visible:

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No-Brainer? Producers Tweak 'So You Think You Can Dance' After Receiving Criticism

Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" is making some changes after viewers criticized the show. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the show is tweaking its procedures after two competitors were voted off the show at the top of the hour, then still had to perform the week's dance.

The show won't keep that format, according to judge and executive producer Nigel Lythgoe. "We're taking your advice by revealing America's vote in the beginning and judging at the end," Lythgoe wrote on Twitter. "I hope it will inspire the bottom 4? Thank you."

With the tweak, the bottom four contestants will have the chance to "dance for their lives" before the judges decide which two will get booted from the program, the story says.

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Former CNN and Current TV Talking Head Plans Return to Politics After Resigning in Disgrace

A high-profile politician who was forced out of office by a scandal and then went into television is planning a return to politics. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Eliot Spitzer, who resigned as New York governor amidst a prostitution scandal, is readying his next political move.

Spitzer, who spent the past three years hosting shows for CNN and Current TV, has announced he's running for the office of city comptroller for New York City.

“I’m hopeful there will be forgiveness; I am asking for it,” Spitzer told The New York Times in an interview.

His re-entry to politics comes at a time when other disgraced public office holders, such as Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, have overcome scandals involving their personal or sexual conduct, The Times notes.


Eliot Spitzer


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CNBC Working on Changes to Its Prime-Time Lineup

CNBC is poised to tweak its prime-time programming. The New York Post reports that the financial news channel is working on a new roundtable show that might air in the 7 p.m. time slot now held by "The Kudlow Report.”

Producers are working on what's described as a "rapid-fire talk show about stocks," the story notes. Possible personalities for the show could include CNBC's Carl Quintanilla and Kayla Tausche.

The idea comes as prime-time viewership at CNBC has seen a drop-off in viewers during the first six months of 2013, as have the cable channel’s more popular segments that air during the day's trading hours. Its average prime-time viewership fell to 91,000 viewers in the key 25-54 demo for the first half of the year, down from 94,000 a year earlier, the piece reports.

A rep for CNBC said, "We often experiment with different segments and formats that can be used almost any hour of the day and occasionally for specials during prime time as well."

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ION Picks Up USA Dramas

ION has bought two dramas that first aired on USA Network. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the cable channel will televise rebroadcasts of "Burn Notice" and "White Collar."

The shows will join ION's off-cable slate, which includes "Psych," "Leverage" and "Monk." "White Collar" will return for its fifth season this fall, while "Burn Notice" is airing its seventh and final season on USA, the story notes.

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Still No. 1: TV News Does Unexpectedly Well in New Gallup Poll

Television news got some good news in a just-released Gallup poll. Deadline.com reports that the latest survey about where Americans turn for news shows that more than half, 55%, of U.S. adults say they turn to television for coverage of current events.

“More surprising, 50% of 18- to 29-year-olds say TV is their main news source,” Deadline adds. “That’s the same percentage as with 30- to 49-year-olds. And only 8% fewer than the response rate of 50- to 64-year-olds. Among the 65+ crowd, 68% prefer to consume their news via TV. Where the age groups part company is in their second fave choice for news, Gallup says. Here, 27% of 18-29s go with ‘Internet’ -- which is actually 1% fewer than among 30-49. Only 6% of those 65 and up picked the Internet as their primary source of news.”

The report adds that “7% of 18-49s picked print (aka newspapers and other tree-pulping sources) as their primary source of news -- again, 1% higher than among 30-49s -- as compared to 18% of those aged 65 and up. Where do 18-29s make up the difference? A full 7% of those contacted by Gallup said they had ‘no opinion’ on the subject. That’s compared to just 2% of 30-49s, and 3% of 50-64 and 65+.”

The survey, taken last month, polled 2,048 adults nationwide.

Deadline notes: “More than half the references to television were general, with 26% simply saying they watch television or TV news, Gallup said. Fox News Channel and CNN were named by 8% and 7%, respectively, of those who said they got their news from TV. Memo to MSNBC: you got lumped in with those networks mentioned by 1% of those polled, or less, which included the broadcast networks’ newscasts. On the bright side, those evening newscasts still clock bigger Nielsen numbers than cable news networks.”

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David Attenborough Plans a Least One More Series Before He Turns 90

Legendary broadcaster David Attenborough, 87, has been at it for 60 years, and he’s a long way from finished. Attenborough is known for nature documentaries including “Life on Earth” (1979), “The Living Planet” (1984) and “The Blue Planet” (2001).

RadioTimes reports that Attenborough plans to make at least one more natural history series for BBC1 before he turns 90.

The next project will be along the lines of "Frozen Planet," the piece reports.

"There had been speculation that Attenborough would not be making any large-scale multi-part series for BBC1 due to his age, health and the demanding schedules for such landmark programs," the story notes.

Kim Shillinglaw, the head of science and natural history for the BBC, told the publication, “Is it the end of David’s landmark series? God no. He is doing a couple of things for us and there is a landmark in the pipeline which is quite a long way off."

She said the show would likely be aired in "two to three years time" but didn't disclose additional details.

david-attenborough.jpgDavid Attenborough

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Leslie Moonves Sells $22.1 Million in CBS Stock

CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves sold $22.1 million of his company stock last week, prompting the question of whether the head man felt the stock had topped out, Deadline.com reports. But that’s not the case, according to a representative for the network, the report notes.

The story reports, "According to an SEC filing, [last] week Moonves acquired 450,000 shares from options at $23.19 a share (or $10.4M), and sold 675,000 for prices ranging from $49.02 to $49.51 a share (for $22.1M)."

The sale was part of Moonves' estate plan, called a 10b51, that makes stock purchases and sales that are automatically set via the plan, the piece reports.

“No matter what motivated the sale, that’s a tidy profit with CBS -- which closed [July 5] at $50.06 -- hovering around its all time high (measured since 2006 when it was spun off from Viacom),” Deadline reports. “But many prominent execs use automatic triggers for their estate trading to avoid sending an unintended signal to investors who keep an eagle eye on insider trades to see when the people who know a company best believe that the stock price is about to change its trajectory.”

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Crain's Chicago Business Weighs the Risks and the Potential Rewards of Tribune's Spending $2.7 Billion to Buy 19 TV Stations

"The last time Tribune Co. borrowed billions of dollars to finance a big acquisition, it didn't work out very well," writes columnist Joe Cahill in one of TVWeek's sibling publications, the well-respected Crain's Chicago Business.

Cahill continues, "I'm referring, of course, to the ill-fated leveraged buyout real estate mogul Sam Zell orchestrated in 2007. Mr. Zell cashed out existing shareholders and took the media company private in a deal that loaded Tribune with $8 billion in debt. That turned out to be too much for Tribune, which landed in bankruptcy after advertising revenues plummeted during the recession.

"Apparently the experience left Tribune executives with no fear of debt. Barely six months after emerging from bankruptcy, the Chicago-based media company is borrowing about $2.7 billion to buy 19 local television stations from Local TV Holdings LLC. The deal announced July 1 would almost double Tribune's broadcast station count to 42. It also would more than triple the company's debt to about $3.8 billion."

The article notes, "Debt-rating companies are alarmed. Standard & Poor's Ratings Services yesterday put Tribune on credit watch with “negative implications,” because the deal would boost debt to about 4.3 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, a big jump from 2.3 before the acquisition but still within the range debt markets consider reasonable. Moody's Investors Service put Tribune credit on 'review for downgrade,' citing increased debt levels resulting from the deal."

Bottom line, Cahill writes, "If the stations [Tribune CEO Peter] Liguori is buying give him the cash he needs to produce hits, it's a good deal. But if Tribune can't make that shift, the buyout debt may get awfully heavy."

To read a lot more about the speciific risks and potential rewards of  the Tribune deal as outlined by Cahill, please click on the link in our first paragraph, above, to read the entire original article.

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NY Times Report Asks: In the Nation's No. 1 Market, Is WWOR's Dropping of Its Last Remaining Newscast Irresponsible or Innovative?

"Depending on one’s perspective, what the New Jersey-based television station WWOR is doing" -- dropping its last remaining newscast -- "is [either] irresponsible or innovative," writes Brian Stelter in The New Yorik Times.

The story continues, "Last week, with no notice, the station canceled its 10 p.m. half-hour of news, the only newscast it had left. On Monday [today, July 8, 2013], it will try something new at 10, a youthful newsmagazine called 'Chasing New Jersey.' The anchor, a real estate executive and onetime Republican candidate for Congress, will be called the 'ringleader' on the program; the reporters will be called 'chasers.' "

The story adds, "The shift in programming strategy is bound to be watched in Washington, where WWOR, broadcast on Channel 9, has been under regulatory scrutiny for years. The station is in a unique position, being the only big commercially owned broadcaster in New Jersey, whose 8.9 million residents otherwise see television news mainly from stations in New York City and Philadelphia. WWOR’s license for the public airwaves, granted by the Federal Communications Commission, comes with the condition that the license-holder pay special attention to the northern part of the state. 

"Since 2001, that license-holder has been the News Corporation, the sprawling media company controlled by Rupert Murdoch. (Since the company split into two parts last month, the new name for WWOR’s owner is Twenty-First Century Fox.) When the station’s license expired in 2007, the F.C.C. pointedly declined to renew it, but didn’t revoke it either, leaving the station in a sort of limbo -- able to continue broadcasting for the time being, but uncertain about its future."

To read more details about what WWOR is doing, we urge you to click on the link in our first paragraph, above, and read Stelter's entire article.

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What a Miracle That Yesterday's Plane Crash at the San Francisco Airport Wasn't Worse. Reminds Us of This KGO-TV Video Report of a Jetliner, in 1968, That Missed the San Francisco Runway Entirely and Landed in the Bay -- and, Remarkably, No One Was Hurt

Study this picture carefully. It's a commercial jetliner that, by mistake, missed the runway at San Francisco Airport on Nov. 22, 1968, and instead landed in the San Francisco Bay. There were over 100 people onboard, and no one was hurt:

JAL Jet lands in SFBay, 1968 (a).jpg

To see an excellent 3-minute KGO-TV video report about what happened, please click here (it's not embeddable).

To read an equally good written report -- at the SFGate website -- about what happened, please click here.

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Who is Reportedly in 'Serious Talks' To Replace Joy Behar on 'The View?' Hint: She's a Former Playmate of the Year and Is Outspoken About the Causes of Autism. Also, Who May Replace Elisabeth Hasselbeck, if She Also Leaves 'The View'

Jann Wenner's Us Weekly is making news again, as it reports it knows who is talking to the producers of "The View" to join the show.

"Make room on the couch! Frequent 'View' guest cohost Jenny McCarthy may be joining the ABC morning talk show full-time.'She is in serious talks right now,' an insider tells Us Weekly of the star, 40, who is currently hosting her own low-rated chatfest on VH1. 'Her show isn't quite working out, so she's definitely open to it.' "

The story continues, "The sassy single mom would replace Joy Behar, 70, when the comedian moves on in August, reveals another source. 'The cast and crew get a kick out of Jenny,' adds a set source. 'She's a good fit. She may not be able to carry a show, but she works well with a group ensemble.' "

The article goes on to say, "A third insider adds Brooke Shields, 48, is also in talks to replace Elisabeth Hasselbeck, 36, come fall. Us Weekly exclusively revealed in March that Hasselbeck will not be returning as a cohost, but she has yet to confirm the news."

McCarthy first came to national attention as Playboy's Playmate of the Year in 1994, the year after Anna Nicole Smith held that title.  In recent years she's been vocal about autism and what causes it. She appeared on PBS's 'Frontline' in 2010 espousing her views about autism. In 2002 McCarthy had a son, Evan, who has been diagnosed with autism..

jenny mccarthy.jpg

Jenny McCarthy

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A Chance to See a Rare Gem of a Movie That's Not on DVD

By Chuck Ross

To me a good Western -- and I love a good Western -- emphasizes a personal code of honor by the main character. And I love a gritty Film Noir, in which one of the most appealing elements is also the protagonist’s personal code of honor. And if a movie happens to a Western with a major Film Noir sensibility, I’m in hog heaven.

One such movie is a rare gem with the intriguing title “Blood on the Moon.” Released in 1948 by RKO, it’s never been released on DVD in the U.S., despite the fact it stars some well-known players: Robert Mitchum, Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie herself back when she was 26 and in her first Western), Robert Preston and Walter Brennan, the latter two both in uncharacteristically unmannered performances.

And the movie was directed by one of filmdom’s best-known directors, Robert Wise. You can find old VHS or laserdisc copies of “Blood on the Moon,” and there was an official release on DVD in the PAL format used in the U.K., but no U.S. DVD in our standard NTSC format has been released.

So set your DVRs for a short while from now, Friday, July 5th 2013, at 2:00 p.m. PT (5:00 p.m. ET), when TCM (Turner Classic Movies) will present, uncut and without commercials, “Blood on the Moon” which runs just under 90 minutes. There’s not a wasted, extraneous frame in the entire tightly edited picture. No surprise there—before he became a director, Wise was an editor. In fact, he has the editing credit on one of the most famous –and well-edited—pictures of all-time: “Citizen Kane.” (And yes, “Kane” director Orson Welles himself spent many hours editing that film with Wise.)

Strictly speaking, “Blood on the Moon” is a Western, with major noir overtones. About ¾ of the movie takes place at night. The movie opens with a striking (process) shot of Mitchum riding, alone, at night, in a driving rainstorm.

Will “Blood on the Moon” appeal to you? It will if you like this, from the trailer: Across the screen blaze the words “There’s ‘Blood on the Moon,” Casting Shadows of Danger! Violence! Death!”

Then the voice-over kicks in: “ ‘Blood on the Moon,’ a peril-packed saga of the grazing land, of stampeding cattle and ruthless men who ride by day and kill by night. ‘Blood on the Moon,’ starring Robert Mitchum, who dares invade a gun-smoked barricade, an adventurous stranger with several notches on his gun, but none on his conscience.“

One of the key scenes in “Blood on the Moon” is a terrific barroom brawl, shot in the shadows, featuring Mitchum. Wise always said the reason the scene came out as good as it did was because he had asked Mitchum, who had been in a number of Westerns, to make it as realistic-looking as possible. The brawl is triggered by one of the best lines Westerns, as Mitchum says right before the first blow is struck, “I’ve seen dogs that wouldn’t claim you as a son.”

Here’s one more assessment of “Blood on the Moon” that may entice you to check it out. It’s from the liner notes of my laserdisc copy of the film as penned by Tom Bussell, a writer with whom I am otherwise not familiar.

He wrote that over the years “Blood on the Moon” – which was filmed by Nicholas Musuraca – has become appreciated by film buffs “for its noir visuals in oil-lamp-lighted interiors, and the strong light and dark contrasts of the rugged Western terrain; for its protagonist who is first seen in a state of provisional existence in an unpredictable environment, not unlike the WW II veteran burdened with readjustment to a nuclear world; for the characters who menacingly populate its narrative, often concealing rather than revealing; for its tension and claustrophobia stunningly epitomized in the extraordinary barroom [fight]; and for its theme of disenchantment and debasement in a macrocosm darkened both physically and emotionally by ethical uncertainty.”

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Pranksters Disrupt Testimony in George Zimmerman Trial -- Teaching Users What Not to Do on Skype

A digital prank interrupted the televised George Zimmerman murder trial today, leaving the no-nonsense judge presiding over the case less than amused -- and teaching viewers a lesson about Skype, the New York Daily News reports.

"Scott Pleasants, one of George Zimmerman's former criminal justice professors at Seminole State College, was testifying remotely from Colorado. But no one blocked out his user name, and Skype users inundated his connection with dozens of calls. Incessant pings rang out in the courtroom," the story reports.

Defense attorney Mark O'Mara responded to the disruption, saying: "There's now a really good chance that we're being toyed with, just so you know."

The report adds: "Pleasants tried to laugh off the prank, but Judge Debra Nelson was not smiling. She told him to log off Skype, and the testimony proceeded without video -- good old-fashioned speakerphone."

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch participant, is accused of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.

The report summed up the takeaway for Skype users this way: "Skype alert: Displaying username during nationally televised trial not recommended."

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The No. 1-Rated Cable Channel -- for 28 Consecutive Quarters -- Gets on Board With 'TV Everywhere'

A cable channel that has quietly racked up one of the most impressive winning streaks in television -- the top-rated cable channel for 28 consecutive quarters -- is going "TV Everywhere," Deadline.com reports.

The channel is USA Network, which becomes the first NBCUniversal cable property to dip its toe into the space, the story reports. Viewers will be required to subscribe to a pay TV service to gain access to the content, the piece notes.

"Today’s announcement says the network’s shows like 'Royal Pains' and 'Burn Notice' can be seen online and via the new USA Now app for tablets and smartphones the day after they air on USA, and that NBCU is planning rollouts of similar apps for its other channels including Syfy and Telemundo," the story reports. "Today’s launch will be for iOS platforms only, with an Android version on its way later this month.

The providers who are on board so far include Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, DirecTV, Dish Network and FiOS, the report says. "After the Android app is live, that means about half the 99 million U.S. households that get USA will have access to the content, with a ramp-up expected in the next year," Deadline notes.

The report adds: "In addition to streamed episodes, there will be the usual second screen experiences and social networking tie-ins. A second phase will incorporate more personalization and gamification elements. Viewers will receive show recommendations based on their viewing habits, and have the ability to sign up for alerts for new content."

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All-Time Lows for Series on NBC and CBS; ABC Gets Off Easy With 'Just' a Season Low

No fewer than four broadcast series sank to all-time lows or season lows Tuesday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that CBS's "Big Brother" and NBC's "Betty White's Off Their Rockers" both set series lows, while NBC's "America's Got Talent" and ABC's "Extreme Weight Loss" reached season lows in the demo.

But even with "America's Got Talent's" erosion -- slipping three-tenths from last week's season low to a new season low of 2.3 in viewers 18-49 -- NBC won the night, as "Talent" still finished as the top show of the night on broadcast.

NBC opened prime time with back-to-back episodes of "Betty White's Off Their Rockers" -- a repeat at 8 p.m. followed by an original at 8:30 -- with both installments delivering 0.8 averages in 18-49. The fresh episode was down two-tenths from a week ago.

CBS's "Big Brother" fell to an all-time low for the series, losing four-tenths from last week's Wednesday premiere to average a 1.8 in adults 18-49. The rest of the CBS prime-time lineup was repeats.

ABC saw its two-hour "Extreme Weight Loss" sink to a season low with a 1.0 in 18-49, losing two-tenths from a week ago. Leading out from it, a "Body of Proof" repeat delivered a 0.6.

Fox was down too, with its two-hour "So You Think You Can Dance" settling for a 1.5 average in the 18-49 demo, down two-tenths from a week ago.

NBC came out on top for prime time overall with a 1.8 average rating in viewers 18-49, ahead of Fox (1.5 average), Univision (1.4), CBS (1.2) and ABC (0.9). NBC claimed the top spot in total viewers as well, averaging 7.4 million to lead CBS (6.0 million), Fox (4.3 million), Univision (3.7 million) and ABC (3.3 million).

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Paula Deen's Accuser Says Lawsuit 'Has Never Been About the N-Word'

As celebrity chef Paula Deen deals with the fallout from saying in a deposition that she used a racial epithet, the woman behind the lawsuit tells CNN that the case "has never been about the N-word."

Lisa Jackson, who filed a harassment lawsuit against Deen, issued a statement to CNN's Don Lemon, the story reports.

The lawsuit "is to address Ms. Deen's patterns of disrespect and degradation of people that she deems to be inferior," Jackson said.

"I may be a white woman, but I could no longer tolerate her abuse of power as a business owner, nor her condonation of Mr. Hier's despicable behavior on a day-to-day basis," she said, referring to Deen's brother, Bubba Hier. "I am what I am, and I am a human being that cares about all races, and that is why I feel it is important to be the voice for those who are too afraid to use theirs."

Deen's attorney has called Jackson's allegations of violence, discrimination and racism false, while Deen has said she doesn't condone prejudice, the story notes.

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Hallmark Channel Cancels Show

Hallmark Channel announced it is canceling a show. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel confirmed it won't be picking up a second season of "Marie."

Commenting on the cancellation of the talk show focused on singer Marie Osmond, Hallmark Channel said it wants to focus on "quintessential lifestyle service shows" instead of talk shows, the report notes.

Osmond's show will now focus on searching for a syndication deal, with Associated Television International, the company behind "Marie," already talking with station groups for a fall 2014 launch, the story says. The plan previously was to broaden the show's reach via a multiplatform strategy, the piece adds.

"'Marie,' which marked Osmond’s return to daytime television, premiered on Hallmark last fall when it replaced 'The Martha Stewart Show,'" the report adds. "Osmond recently has drawn attention for her stint as guest host on CBS’s 'The Talk.'"

marie-osmond.jpgMarie Osmond

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CBS Responds to 'Offensive' Comments on 'Big Brother' Live Feed

Racism, misogyny and homophobia have surfaced on CBS's "Big Brother," prompting the network to respond to comments on the show's live feed, TMZ.com reports.

CBS released a statement to the website, saying: "We certainly find the statements made by several of the Houseguests on the live Internet feed to be offensive." The network also said that live programming can reveal unpleasant aspects of people, adding, "At times, the Houseguests reveal prejudices and other beliefs that we do not condone."

Among the comments noted in the TMZ report:

-- GinaMarie referred to welfare as “n**ger insurance”
-- Aaryn called gay contestant Andy a "queer."
-- Spencer referred to Andy as “Kermit the F**" ... and praised Hitler as a gifted speaker.

Zap2It.com adds that another houseguest, Jeremy, continuously refers to women as "bitches," while a discussion among GinaMarie, Aaryn and Kaitlin "got rather ugly" on the subject of race, with the houseguests referring to black contestants in the house as "tokens."

According to Zap2It, Kaitlin said to another contestant, "I can't trust anyone, n****." She then added, "I just said the N-word!"

Zap2It adds that Aaryn used disparaging language to refer to Andy, noting that he would probably get MVP because "people love the queers."

TMZ adds: "There have been rumors that 'Big Brother' will be 86ing some of the offensive cast members -- but it certainly doesn't appear that's gonna happen."

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TVWeek 4th of July Holiday Schedule

Today is our last workday this week, and then we are off for a four-day 4th of July holiday weekend.

If news happens before we come back online on Monday, July 8, 2013, we'll contact you with one of our TVWeek Extra Alerts.

From our family to yours, please stay cool and safe over the long holiday weekend!

All our best,

Dennis, Aimee and Chuck here at TVWeek

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Four-Time Grammy Nominee -- Who Has Sold 27 Million Albums -- Joins NBC Singing Competition as Judge

NBC's "The Sing-Off" has added a four-time Grammy Award nominee as a judge, and announced that the show's host, Nick Lachey, will return, Deadline.com reports.

The new judge is Jewel, the story reports. The 39-year-old singer-songwriter has reportedly sold more than 27 million albums worldwide since releasing her debut album, "Pieces of You," in 1995.

NBC, which recently ordered a fourth cycle of the singing competition, is reverting the program back to its original format, slated to air as a holiday strip over several nights, the piece notes. When the network scheduled it as a two-hour regular weekly show in 2011, the ratings were underwhelming.

The program will feature top a cappella groups who compete to win $100,000 and a recording contract.


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While Food Network Struggles, Its Sister Network's Ratings Are Sizzling

While Food Network's key audience demographic saw a 16% decline during the first half of 2013, its sister network HGTV is growing, with its key demo rating climbing almost 8% during the same period, reports the New York Post.

The result is that HGTV beat Food Network for the first time in three years.

The home-focused HGTV added an average of 39,000 viewers 25 to 54 during the first half of the year, bringing its total average audience in the demo to 532,000. Food Network, meanwhile, lost 97,000 viewers in the demographic and saw its average slide to 509,000.

Food Network recently severed its relationship with Paula Deen, the celebrity chef, after she admitted to using a racial slur in the past, as previously reported.

Brad Adgate, research chief at Horizon Media, cited economic trends as a reason audiences are refocusing on home-oriented programming. “As the housing market rebounds, people are looking for ideas,” Adgate said.

The Post adds: "The momentum swing in U.S. living rooms -- toward watching shows about the home and tuning out food fodder -- is also benefiting the DIY Network, which saw its total audience grow by 12.9% in the second quarter, according to Nielsen."

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Alec Baldwin Says He Wants to Quit Acting ... and Reveals What He Was Really Thinking About at James Gandolfini's Funeral

Alec Baldwin says quitting acting would be "the greatest thing in the world," adding that he will never use Twitter again, having had a revelation while at James Gandolfini's funeral, Vanity Fair reports.

"When I was there I realized Jimmy Gandolfini didn’t have Twitter. Jimmy Gandolfini was so beloved as a person, and he was so admired as an actor, and he didn’t give a fuck about social media," Baldwin told the publication.

As previously reported, Baldwin shut down his Twitter account after going on a profanity-laden rant against a Daily Mail reporter who had written that Baldwin's wife, Hilaria, tweeted during Gandolfini's funeral.

Baldwin added, "I really learned a lesson at the funeral. I said to myself, 'This is all a waste of time.' Meaning it’s fun sometimes, but less and less, and less. It’s just another chink in your armor for people to come and kill you."

Baldwin, who is expecting a baby with Hilaria, added that his dream for the child is that she "has no knowledge of me as a public person. That would be heaven for me."

Asked whether he plans to quit acting, Baldwin responded, "I’d love to if I could, yeah. That would be the greatest thing in the world."

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Do People Think Paula Deen Is Racist? New Survey Provides an Answer

A new survey posing the question of whether respondents think embattled television chef Paula Deen is racist may provide a little ray of sunshine for Deen during her current difficulties.

The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that 71% of respondents in an online survey from Ask.com said they don't believe Deen is racist.

Almost two-thirds believe another network will pick up a show from the celebrity chef, who lost her partnership with Food Network after she admitted to using the N-word.

The poll suggests that many viewers believe Deen's former partners, which include Walmart Stores and Kmart, are blowing her behavior out of proportion. Respondents noted that they believe Lance Armstrong's doping and Tiger Woods' infidelity were worse, the story says.

It's unclear how many users participated in the survey, however, the piece points out.

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'Breaking Bad' Creator Offers Progress Report on the Spinoff

"Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan talked in an interview about a spinoff of the cult AMC series, saying the project is moving "full speed ahead," TheWrap.com reports.

"It's not a done deal yet, but it's definitely something we're full speed ahead on trying to get going," Gilligan said.

The final eight episodes of the original series are set to air starting Aug. 11.

The spinoff is focused on the show's scheming attorney, Saul Goodman, played by Bob Odenkirk. Gilligan and writer Peter Gould are still trying to figure out whether the spinoff will be sequel or a prequel.

"We are plugging away, coming up with a pitch and a take on it for the network and studio, and hopefully everyone will agree that there's a really fun show to be had here," Gilligan told the publication. "And hopefully we'll get it up and running, and then Peter will run it. I'd love to see that happen."

Gilligan noted that the show has the potential to be either a half-hour, with more comedic elements, or an hour-long program akin to "Breaking Bad."

"As you can imagine with Saul Goodman as a character, a show like that would have to have plenty of humor to it. But also because he works for some pretty scary clientele sometimes, there'd be a bit of drama in it as well. We're trying to nail that down," he said.

If the show is a prequel, there's a chance that Giancarlo Esposito, who played Gus Fring, could return.

"Any chance I get to work with Giancarlo again, I would jump at the opportunity. He is a wonderful actor and such a sweet guy," Gilligan said.

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Does Hallmark Have Its Third Original Series in the Works?

Hallmark Channel has greenlighted an original movie to air in October, with the potential for the project to become a series if it's successful, reports B&C. The project is "Dead Letters."

The two-hour movie features Eric Mabius from "Ugly Betty" as a postal detective who helps deliver letters and packages from the past, the story notes. If it moves on to be a series, it would become Hallmark's third original prime-time show after "Cedar Cove," which debuts later this month, and "When Calls the Heart."

"Dead Letters" will air Oct. 12, with a potential series eyed for 2014. "Touched by an Angel" executive producer Martha Williamson is executive producing and wrote the script, the piece notes.

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Report: Apple Near Deal With Time Warner Cable for TV

Apple is close to reaching a deal with Time Warner Cable, which would provide subscribers of the latter service with channels through Apple TV, reports Bloomberg.

A deal is likely to be announced in the next few months. Apple is hiring Pete Distad from Hulu, where he served as senior vice president of marketing and distribution, to work with Apple executives on media negotiations, the piece adds.

The deal would mark Apple's first agreement with a cable company, although it already has agreements with Time Warner, HBO and Walt Disney. Apple wants to lure more customers to the $99 set-top device, which is facing stronger competition from rivals such as Microsoft's Xbox.

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Has Paula Deen's N-Word Crisis Helped CNN?

The recent furor over the use of the N-word in Paula Deen's world has been a disaster for the celebrity chef, but one cable network appears to have reaped a reward.

"CNN's Monday night special 'The N Word' -- which explores a topic that's been very much in the news lately, thanks to Paula Deen -- delivered tasty numbers for the cable news network," TheWrap.com reports. "The special, airing at 8 p.m., drew 612,000 total viewers. Not bad, considering that CNN's prime-time average for the month of June (technically, May 27 through June 30) was 468,000 total viewers."

In the key news demo of viewers 25-54, the special drew 218,000 viewers.

TheWrap adds: "The special, hosted by Don Lemon, examined the various aspects of the racial epithet, including comparing the word with 'cracker,' often used as a derogatory term for white people."

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Report: Kim Kardashian and Kanye West Reject $3 Million for Photos of Baby

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have reportedly turned down a $3 million offer from an Australian magazine for pictures of their newborn daughter, North West, reports US Weekly.

West doesn't want the baby to appear on Kardashian's reality show, "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," according to the report. The couple hasn't yet shared any photos of the baby, who was born June 15. The article doesn't name the Australian magazine that reportedly made the offer.

West is said to be a doting father and has become a "super worrywart" over the baby, the piece adds. Kardashian has also toned down her social media presence during the past few weeks, the story notes.

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TNT Orders Fourth Season of Popular Drama Series

TNT announced it is renewing a drama series that has been performing well for the cable network this summer. The channel ordered a fourth season of "Falling Skies."

The program comes from DreamWorks Television and executive producer Steven Spielberg, and stars Noah Wyle.

"Currently airing Sundays at 10 p.m. (ET/PT), 'Falling Skies' is averaging 5.8 million viewers in Live + 7 delivery and ranks as basic cable's #1 scripted series with adults 18-49 and adults 25-54 for the summer-to-date," TNT reports.

The channel will launch the show's 10-episode fourth season in summer 2014.

TNT notes: "'Falling Skies' tells the extraordinary tale of life and survival in the wake of a catastrophic alien invasion. Wyle plays Tom Mason, a college professor who becomes an unlikely resistance leader after a massive invasion by an alien force. The series also stars Moon Bloodgood, Will Patton, Drew Roy, Connor Jessup, Maxim Knight, Seychelle Gabriel, Mpho Koaho, Colin Cunningham and Sarah Carter. Among the guest stars this season on 'Falling Skies' are Gloria Reuben, Robert Sean Leonard, Stephen Collins and Doug Jones."

The series debuted in summer 2011 and ranked as the top new series of that year on basic cable, the network reports. TNT adds: "The series returned with strong numbers last year, averaging 5.6 million viewers in Live + 7 and ranking as basic cable's #1 summer drama with adults 25-54."

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Fox News Tweaks Prime-Time Lineup

Fox News Channel rarely messes with its prime-time schedule these days, but the network announced today that change is coming.

FNC is moving "America Live" host Megyn Kelly from afternoons into the prime-time lineup when she returns from maternity leave, Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes announced. The announcement did not specify Kelly's new role.

The network also said it has signed new long-term deals with Bret Baier, Shepard Smith, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren.

The network noted that the new schedule will be unveiled at a later date.

In the announcement, Ailes said: “Megyn is an exceptional talent who has successfully filled and surpassed each role we have given her at the network. Her ability to command the screen, delve into the facts and lead a debate is what makes her one of the most sought-after anchors in the business.”

Said Kelly: “Roger Ailes hired me nine years ago when I was new to this business and he had little other than instinct to suggest it might work out. I was grateful to him then, remain so today, and am excited for this next opportunity.”

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Megyn Kelly

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Cable Network That's in the Media Spotlight More Than Most Scores Big in 2nd Quarter of 2013

A basic cable network that's probably in the media spotlight more than most has scored big in the second quarter of 2013.

"OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network scored its best quarter in network history delivering a 32% growth in second quarter 2013 in primetime versus first quarter, making OWN a Top 5 cable network for African-American women 25-54," OWN says in a press release.

The press release continues, "In addition, for the month of June, OWN delivered its best month ever ranked as the #4 network in all of television for African-American women (#3 in cable) and #21 of all ad-supported cable networks in the key demo of women 25-54 driven by the network’s first scripted series from Tyler Perry 'The Haves and the Have Nots' and 'Love Thy Neighbor,' airing on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, respectively. OWN was the #1 cable network on Tuesday and Wednesday nights AA women 25-54, with both series ranking among the Top 5 original series in primetime in all of television for AA women 25-54. Month to month, OWN was the fastest-growing ad-supported cable network among W25-54 (+100%), A25-54 (+100%), A18-49 (+100%), Households (+77%) and Total Viewers (+87%)."

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Summer Drama Drives CBS to Nightly Ratings Win; Soft Start for New NBC Drama Series

CBS won the broadcast ratings battle Monday night, based on Nielsen overnights for both the key 18-49 demo and total viewers. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the CBS win came despite a significant drop for the network's key summer drama series "Under the Dome."

"Dome" was the top show of the night on broadcast with a 2.8 average rating in viewers 18-49, down a half-point from the previous week. The rest of the CBS lineup consisted of repeat programming.

NBC's new supernatural drama series "Siberia," about a fictional reality show, premiered against "Under the Dome" and ABC's "Mistresses" at 10 p.m. and managed only a 1.1 average in 18-49. Also premiering on NBC was the two-hour fifth-season opener of "American Ninja Warrior," which delivered a 1.7 average -- off seven-tenths from last year's season premiere.

Head-to-head against NBC's "Ninja," ABC's two-hour "The Bachelorette" dipped two-tenths from last week to a 1.8 average in the 18-49 demo, just enough to squeeze out a win over "Ninja." Leading out from "Bachelorette," "Mistresses" ticked up one-tenth from last week's series low to a 1.2.

Fox aired repeats, along with a fresh installment of "The Goodwin Games," which equaled the 0.6 average of last week's show in viewers 18-49.

For prime time overall, CBS led the way in adults 18-49 with a 1.8 average, followed by ABC (1.6 average), NBC (1.5), Univision (1.4) and Fox (0.6). CBS won total viewers with 7.1 million, ahead of ABC (5.5 million), NBC (4.4 million), Univision (3.5 million) and Fox (1.6 million).

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Actor Paul Jenkins Dies -- You May Remember Him From 'M*A*S*H,' 'Dynasty,' 'The Waltons' and Many Other Shows

Actor Paul Jenkins, who made a string of TV appearances from the 1970s into the 2000s, has died. Contactmusic.com reports that Jenkins died Monday at 74 after a brief illness.

Along with a few appearances in feature films including "Chinatown" in 1974 and "Network" in 1976, Jenkins carved out a prolific career in television. His TV appearances over the years included "M*A*S*H," "Columbo," "Lou Grant," "Dynasty," "Kojak," "The Partridge Family," "The Rockford Files" and "Starsky and Hutch," with later appearances on "Ally McBeal," "The West Wing" and "Cold Case," among other shows.

He may be best remembered as Professor Parks on "The Waltons," a role he played from 1974-1976.


Paul Jenkins

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Paula Deen's Latest Legal Strategy Invokes Recent Supreme Court Ruling

Attorneys for beleaguered TV chef Paula Deen made an unusual legal argument in the discrimination lawsuit that triggered the sudden dismantling of much of her business empire, E! Online reports.

"Lawyers for the embattled celebrity chef are citing the Supreme Court's June 26 decision striking down California's Prop 8, which originally banned gay marriage in that state, as a reason a court should dismiss Lisa's Jackson's federal lawsuit against her and her brother Earl 'Bubba' Hiers," the story reports.

"Jackson, a former restaurant worker at the duo's Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House in Savannah, filed a racial harassment complaint last year alleging Deen and Hiers subjected her to racial harassment and a hostile work environment by, among other things, making racist remarks about the restaurant's African-American employees."

Deen got into trouble after admitting in a deposition for the case that she had used the N-word in the past. In the two weeks since that revelation, numerous business partners -- including Food Network, Deen's longtime TV home -- have severed their ties with Deen.

"Deen's legal eagles have subsequently been hitting back hard against Jackson, charging in a brief that one of the plaintiff's core claims -- that she was personally offended by Paula's utterance of the racial slur since she had biracial nieces -- was a lie. They cited evidence that Jackson's nieces are actually those of her partner's and that the girls are Hispanic, not African-American," the piece reports.

Deen's team filed a supplemental brief Monday in U.S. District Court in Georgia citing the Supreme Court ruling, the report notes.

The piece adds: "Deen's attorneys noted the opinion of Chief Justice John Roberts on the Hollingsworth vs. Perry Prop 8 case, where he wrote that in order for a person to have standing to sue, they must prove they have 'suffered a concrete and particularized injury that is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct.'"

The Deen camp reportedly argued: "In other words, for a federal court to have authority under the Constitution to settle a dispute, the party before it must seek a remedy for a personal and tangible harm."

TV Guide notes: "In Deen's view, given the fact that Jackson is white, she doesn't have standing to bring the case because she herself didn't suffer personally from race discrimination."

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Alicia Silverstone Launches Breast Milk Sharing Program

Actress Alicia Silverstone, who has attracted attention in the past for her parenting practices, has launched a breast milk exchange program, Kind Mama Milk Share, designed to help vegan parents, TV Guide reports.

After hearing about a friend's difficulties in determining the origins of shared breast milk, Silverstone wrote on her website The Kind Life: "A lot of women unfortunately have a similar struggle, and there's no reason why they shouldn't be able to give their babies the most amazing start in life with clean, mean, glorious breast milk. And because we are a community of beautiful souls who recognize the importance of food as health, I say we help support those mamas and babies who need a hand during one of the most important times in their lives."

TV Guide reports: "Silverstone's website has already been flooded with support from parents. But for the program to work, any potential donor would need to be screened to ensure that the milk is clean and healthy."

Silverstone is known for her work in the features "Crush," "Clueless" and "Batman & Robin," along with a series of TV roles -- "Braceface," "Miss Match," "Suburgatory" and others.

The TV Guide report notes: "This isn't the first time Silverstone's parenting practices have raised eyebrows. In 2012, she stirred controversy for chewing up food and feeding it directly from her mouth to that of her then-10-month-old son, Bear Blu. 'I do want to let you know that this has been going on for thousands of years -- still going on all over the place -- and it's natural,' Silverstone said at the time."

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Alicia Silverstone

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Oscar-Winning Actress Takes Job With U.N.

An actress who has chalked up a string of awards including an Oscar and a Golden Globe has a new gig: working with the United Nations. The Associated Press reports that Geena Davis is working with the U.N.'s women's agency to create the first global study on how girls and women are depicted in family films.

"We cannot let the negative depiction of women and girls erode the hard gains that have been made on gender equality and women's empowerment," said Lakshmi Puri, acting head of UN Women. "We hope that the study will address factors that positively impact the perception of women in society."

The study will look at top-grossing international movies in countries including Australia, China, Russia and the U.K.

Davis, whose Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media commissioned the study with support from UN Women and the Rockefeller Foundation, said the lack of female characters in media is teaching that women "don't take up half the space in the world."

Results will be released in late 2014.

Davis played the first female president in the TV series "Commander in Chief," winning a Golden Globe for the role in 2006. She is known for the female-oriented buddy movie "Thelma & Louise," which earned her an Oscar nomination in 1992, and won an Oscar for best supporting actress in 1989 for "The Accidental Tourist."

Other memorable film roles for Davis include "Beetlejuice," "The Fly," Earth Girls Are Easy" and "A League of Their Own."


Geena Davis

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Pierce Brosnan Loses Daughter to Ovarian Cancer, Which Also Killed Her Mom

"Mother of two Charlotte Brosnan, 42, died from ovarian cancer last Friday, the same disease which killed her mother in 1991," reports the U.K. newspaper The Telegraph.

The story continues, "She fought the disease with 'courage and dignity,' but passed away surrounded by her family last Friday, her father, actor Pierce Brosnan, said. 'On June 28 my darling daughter Charlotte Emily passed on to eternal life, having succumbed to ovarian cancer,' he said."

Brosnan added: “Charlotte fought her cancer with grace and humanity, courage and dignity. Our hearts are heavy with the loss of our beautiful dear girl. We pray for her and that the cure for this wretched disease will be close at hand soon. We thank everyone for their heartfelt condolences.”

The story explains that Charlotte was Pierce Brosnan's "daughter from his marriage to his first wife, Cassandra Harris, a former Bond girl, who he married in 1980," and who died in 1991, also from ovarian cancer. Pierce had adopted Charlotte and her brother Christopher after their father died in 1986 and they took the Brosnan surname."

The article also notes: "Stephanie Zimbalist, who played opposite Pierce in the TV series 'Remington Steele,' posted on Facebook: 'Sad co-star news to announce. Please join us in sending love, prayers and sympathy to Pierce Brosnan and his family for the death of his daughter Charlotte.'”

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Pierce Brosnan and his daughter Charlotte

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Russell Brand Explains Recent Hijacking of MSNBC Show

Comedian Russell Brand opened up about a controversial appearance a couple of weeks ago on the MSNBC show "Morning Joe," which was described as Brand's hijacking of the show.

The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports: "Appearing to promote his 'Messiah Complex' tour, Brand grew increasingly frustrated with the set-up and the hosts referring to the comedian as if he wasn't there, leading him to admonish them for their lack of 'manners' and take the interview into his own hands, promoting his tour and delivering the news himself."

Now Brand has followed up with an op-ed in the U.K. paper The Guardian, saying everything went smoothly until he encountered "rudeness from the crew," THR reports.

Brand explains in the op-ed: "I was surprised by the soundman's impatient intrusiveness and yet more surprised as I stood just off set, beside the faux-newsroom near the pseudo-researchers who appear on camera as pulsating set dressing, when the soundman yapped me to heel with the curt entitlement of Idi Amin's PA."

THR adds: "He goes on to say that when he sat down, he realized what he was in for, claiming that he became aware the show was broadcasting 'the shrill, white noise of dumb current affairs.'"

Brand writes: "One of the things that's surprising when you go on telly a lot is that often the on-camera 'talent' (yuck!) are perfectly amiable when you chat to them normally, but when the red light goes on they immediately transform into shark-eyed Stepford berks talking in a cadence you encounter nowhere else but TV-land -- a meter that implies simultaneously carefree whimsy and stifled hysteria."

Click here to see video of the "Morning Joe" appearance.

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Here's a Wild and Crazy Idea: Forget Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer This Weekend and Instead Spend the Holiday Binge-Watching All 221 TV Episodes of 'The Lone Ranger' With Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels. Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!

Americans will spend millions this 4th of July weekend in air-conditioned movie theaters watching Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer in the new movie version of "The Lone Ranger."

Here's a wild and crazy baby-boomer alternatiive: Hunker down and binge-watch all 221 episodes of the classic TV version of "The Lone Ranger," starring Clayton Moore as the masked former Texas Ranger and Jay Silverheels as Tonto. The series was a staple on ABC when commercial TV was in its infancy, running originally from 1949 until 1957 in prime time, and then for years afterward in syndication.

One way to accomplish your binge watching is by purchasing the beautiful collectors' edition DVD box set that's been recently released by Classic Media. The entire series run is on 30 DVDs. Its suggested retail price is $200, but as of this writing, Amazon has a few left at $129. And we saw some at Costco that were even less.

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Also, here's an interesting program note for any "Lone Ranger" fan who lives in the Los Angeles area, or is familiar with the area: Much of the TV show was shot at the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif., where many of the distinctive sandstone boulders seen in the show -- including the rock seen with Silver rearing up in the opening sequence to every episode, which became known as Lone Ranger Rock -- remain in place and can be seen in person.


The Lone Ranger and Silver, with Lone Ranger Rock

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'You're Gonna Need a Bigger DVR': Discovery Adds Programming to Its Signature Event

An annual event that has already grown into the Discovery Channel's signature programming block is getting even bigger. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that the cable channel's Shark Week will premiere 11 new shark specials this year, up from last year's eight.

Shark Week, which returns for its 26th year, starts Aug. 4.

A program the publication calls "the first-ever late-night shark talk show" will air every evening that week. "Shark After Dark" takes a page from "The Talking Dead," and will feature clips from Shark Week as well as shark experts and surprise guests.

Another new feature of Shark Week is the Shark Cam, a robotic submarine that will track sharks underwater. The footage will be used in the special "Return of Jaws," about great white sharks living off Cape Cod.

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Biopic Is the Year's Top Original Cable Movie Premiere in Key Demos

A biopic that aired over the weekend is the top original cable movie premiere this year among adults 25-54 and adults 18-49. Deadline.com reports that Lifetime's "Anna Nicole," about the life of former Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith, earned that distinction.

But the report notes that "Anna Nicole" fell short of the viewer turnout for Lifetime's Elizabeth Taylor biopic. Deadline reports that "Anna Nicole" drew 3.3 million viewers Saturday night, fewer than the 3.5 million who tuned in for "Liz & Dick" with Lindsay Lohan. "Liz & Dick" premiered Nov. 25, 2012.

The total viewer numbers place "Anna Nicole," which starred Agnes Bruckner as Smith, even with the network's "Prosecuting Casey Anthony," which aired Jan. 19 and starred Rob Lowe.


Agnes Bruckner

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Disney's Iger Extends His Stay as CEO, Pushing Back Succession Plans

Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Robert Iger has extended his role at the entertainment company. Bloomberg reports that Iger will stay through June 2016, giving him an additional 15 months in the role and delaying the need for the company to pick a successor.

Iger will continue as both the chairman and CEO until that time, Disney said. He had been scheduled to give up the CEO title on April 1, 2015,

Bloomberg notes, "The company cited a need for continuity and Iger’s record of success. Analysts have long cited Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo and Tom Staggs, who leads the parks and resorts division, as probable replacements. The two swapped roles in January 2010."

During Iger's time as CEO, Disney has created total shareholder return of 193%, beating the S&P 500 Index's 54% during the same time, said Disney independent lead director Orin Smith. Iger was tapped for the role in September 2005.

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Can Basketball Star Dwight Howard HANDLE THE TRUTH? Lakers Superfan Jack Nicholson Pleads With Howard to Stay in L.A. And if Howard Does Stay, There's Likely a TV Show in His Future

According to the Lakers News website, Academy Award-winning actor and Los Angeles Lakers superfan Jack Nicholson has reached out to Laker Dwight Howard, a free agent,  to stay with the team.

The article also notes that Time Warner Cable executives -- who have a major deal to cablecast Lakers games -- want to develop a TV show around Howard if he’s to stay with the Lakers. No details about the potential show were given.

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Dwight Howard

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TV Writers' Earnings and Movie Writers' Earnings Headed in Opposite Directions

An annual report from the Writers Guild of America, West, indicates that the earnings of TV writers and movie writers are headed in opposite directions.

The earnings of television writers rose 3.9% last year, reaching $1.02 billion, while earnings for film writers continued a three-year slide, reports The New York Times, citing the report from the WGA.

The report found that the number of writers working in TV appeared to drop to 4,510 from 4,558, although the guild said that late reports could show slight growth.

Meanwhile, earnings from movie writing fell 6.1% last year to about $343 million, down from $365.3 million in 2011. The number of writers in film also fell, declining 6.7% to about 1,537.

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Soledad O'Brien Joins Al Jazeera America

"Former CNN morning show host Soledad O’Brien will be joining Al Jazeera America as a special correspondent," reports Politico.

As previously reported, the move was expected.

Writes Politico, "O’Brien will contribute short-form segments to Al Jazeera America’s current affairs magazine program 'America Tonight,' and her production company Starfish Media Group will produce hourlong documentary specials."

Politico also has this statement from Ehab Al Shihabi, executive director of Al Jazeera’s international operations and the senior executive developing the new channel: “O’Brien’s career producing and reporting on the human side of many of the most important stories of the past decade will fit in perfectly with what Al Jazeera America will be covering every day. Her dedication to that type of journalism is what makes it so exciting to announce that she and her production company are joining the Al Jazeera America team.' ”

For her part, according to the story, O'Brien said, in a statement, "I look forward to beginning a relationship with Al Jazeera America, which has made a commitment to producing quality programming and pursuing underreported stories."

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NBC's 'Biggest Loser' Books 'American Idol' Champion

NBC's "The Biggest Loser" has booked an "American Idol" winner to compete on the upcoming 15th season of the show. People magazine reports that Ruben Studdard will appear on the reality show as he tries to deal with his obesity.

"I was losing weight, but I was exhausted. It was making me sick," Studdard, 35, said, referring to a 1,200-calorie diet he was on. "I'm a big man. There was no way to do those workouts on that amount of food, so everything was contradicting itself."

Studdard, who weighed 455 pounds at one point, quit that plan after losing 12 pounds, eventually losing 70 pounds in 2006 by becoming vegetarian and exercising, the story says. He began putting on weight again after a divorce in 2012, the piece notes.

Studdard became the second "American Idol" champion in 2003.


Ruben Studdard

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As the Battle Over Same-Sex Marriage Is Fought in More and More States, How Each Side Positions Its Ads and the Message in Those Ads Is Paramount

In a fascinating article written for Political Research Associates (PRA), David Dodge, who "has an extensive background in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.organizing and a Masters of Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School," explains how the anti-same-sex marriage forces changed their messaging in 2012 from what they had said in 2008, and how that change hurt them.

We heard Dodge speak this past weekend on NPR's "On the Media," in a segment about last week's Supreme Court decisions about same-sex marriage. We then tracked down his article, which was acually written in February, which is an absorbing piece about advertising and messaging.

It begins, "In 2008, millions of California voters saw this scene play out on their television screens: A young mother is working away in the kitchen as her little daughter comes home from school. Brandishing a copy of the gay-themed children’s book King & King, the child excitedly tells her mother: “Mom! Guess what I learned in school today! I learned that a prince can marry a prince, and I can marry a princess!” The mother’s reaction turns to horror, then consternation, as a narrator warns that this will happen in schools across the state should same-sex marriage remain legal. This commercial — the “Princes” ad — was by far one of the most controversial, and most effective, ads run by the religious right-backed “Yes on 8″ campaign in their successful 2008 effort to pass a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in California. A study conducted with data collected by Vote for Equality (VFE) showed that a remarkable 15 percent of all voters became less supportive of marriage equality after viewing the ad, including a whopping 26 percent of all undecided voters."

Dodge continues, "One would expect that the right would reuse this successful message, peddling the misleading implication that legalizing same-sex marriage would force public schools to discuss LGBTQ relationship and sexual behavior with children. And so they did, most prominently in Maine’s similarly successful “Yes on 1″ campaign, which in 2009 convinced a majority of the state’s voters to reject the state’s recently passed same-sex marriage law. But in the 2012 election, when Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington had marriage referenda on the ballot, voters in all four heard a very different message from the right — one which failed to resonate with voters, leading to long-hoped-for victories for marriage equality in all four states."

Dodge concludes, "Just as pro-LGBTQ campaigns learned from their mistakes, so can the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and its allies. It is likely that they will return to the successful 'harm to kids' message, and also likely that future battles at the ballot box will be fought outside blue states — meaning less favorable terrain for the pro-equality side."

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Analysis: A Sea Change As Consolidation Fever Has Struck TV Station Groups. Looks Like the Fever Might Spread to MSOs as Well. What's Going On?

"In the media industry, it’s once again important to be big," write Keach Hagey and Shalini Ramachandran in the Wall St. Journal's Markets Pulse column (Warning: the WSJ is behind a pay-wall and may charge you to read this article).

The article continues, "Tribune Co’s $2.73 billion agreement to buy Local TV Holdings LLC’s 19 television stations, unveiled Monday, is the biggest in a spate of TV station acquisitions that so far this year totals nearly $9 billion, according to SNL Kagan.

"These deals, along with signs that cable-TV executives are looking to spark a consolidation wave in that industry, signal a sea change in the media sector. After a decade in which media industry deal-making was heavily concentrated on unwinding mergers struck in the past, executives once again have an appetite for acquisitions."

So what's going on?

Says the article, "[T]hese deals are concentrated on the distribution side, among TV station owners and potentially cable operators [and] reflect a recognition that with growth in pay television slowing sharply, economies of scale are vital."

The piece continues, " 'Our investment thesis is simple: scale matters,' said Tribune CEO Peter Liguori, during a call with analysts Monday morning. Or as Liberty Media Corp. Chairman John Malone, a pioneer of the cable industry, put it last month, 'the whole name of the game in the cable business is scale.' " 

The story then explains, "The twist is that both station owners and cable operators are hoping that bulking up will improve their bargaining leverage with each other."

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NBC Snares Sequel to 'The Bible'

The sequel to History's wildly successful miniseries "The Bible" will be on NBC, with the broadcast network greenlighting the Mark Burnett project, TheWrap.com reports.

The project is "moving from the minors to the majors: Burnett and NBC are forging a holy alliance to bring the sequel to the peacock," the story reports. "The sequel, which bears the working title 'A.D.: Beyond the Bible,' follows the enormously popular 10-part miniseries 'The Bible,' which drew a huge audience to History earlier this year and is a likely Emmy contender."

Burnett is already in business with NBC as executive producer of "The Voice."

The focus of the sequel is on the dark days after the betrayal and death of Jesus. NBC describes the project this way: "A perfect storm brews in the Holy Land, fueled by social injustice, Roman military oppression and religious unrest. High priests and the Herod dynasty vie for power. Zealot revolutionaries turn to violence to regain what they believe is their promised land. And in the face of terrible odds and brutal persecution, the small band of Jesus’ disciples stand against the combined might of Rome and their own local authorities.

"In a generation of rebellion, war, famine and carnage, who can they trust? Who should they fear? Will tomorrow bring a violent death? For many, it does … but others survive, and as the storm around them breaks, the fate of Israel, of Rome and of their faith is decided."

NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt said the plan to secure the sequel for NBC has been in the works since "The Bible" premiered on History in March.

Said Greenblatt: "I followed the development process of ‘The Bible’ closely with Mark and knew that the story was far from over after Christ’s Crucifixion. In fact, what happened in the aftermath -- which is essentially the beginning of Christianity -- is utterly fascinating. The day after ‘The Bible’ premiered, I told Mark we were on board with no hesitation for the follow-up miniseries."

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Audience Members Witness Screams, Groaning in Onstage Death of Cirque du Soleil Performer

Audience members at a Cirque du Soleil performance Saturday in Las Vegas described their horror as they witnessed the death of one of the show's cast members who was killed in a 50-foot fall.

"Sarah Guyard-Guillot, an artist in 'Ka' at MGM Grand and a mother of two children ages 8 and 5, was killed Saturday night after a fall from the show's stage at MGM Grand. The Clark County Coroner's Office said [Sunday] afternoon that Guyard-Guillot, 31, was pronounced dead at 11:43 p.m. Saturday at University Medical Center," the Las Vegas Sun reports.

"No formal cause of death has been determined pending further examination of Guyard-Guillot's body. She was born in Paris and had spent more than 22 years as an acrobatic performer. She was a graduate of Annie Fratellini Art & Circus Academy, named for the famed French circus clown and actress. The official website for Cirqeufit acrobatics school in Las Vegas, where Guyard-Guillot served as a coach, said she was an acrobatic and aerialist specialist. She was hired by 'Ka' as the production opened at MGM Grand in 2004."

MGM Resorts International, a partner of Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas, released a statement Sunday saying: "Our company is deeply saddened by the loss of one of the talented 'Ka' artists Saturday night. The thoughts and prayers of our employees are with the performer's family, the cast of 'Ka' and the entire Cirque family during this difficult time."

Guyard-Guillot's death was the first reported fatality in an onstage accident in the 30-year history of Cirque, the report notes.

"According to reports from audience members, the incident occurred Saturday night during the latter stages of the production at MGM Grand. Guyard-Guillot was one of the artists suspended by a wire from the show’s vertical stage in the show-closing Final Battle scene. As she ascended to the top of the stage, she slipped free of her safety wire and dropped to the open, unseen pit below the performers," the Sun reports.

Guyard-Guillot was said to be still in her harness when she fell.

"The show momentarily continued, but then the music halted, and the performer’s screams and groans could be heard from below the stage," the story reports.

Dan Mosqueda, who was in the audience with his family, said: “(The artist) was being hoisted up the side of the stage and then just plummeted down. Initially, a lot of people in the audience thought it was part of the choreographed fight. But you could hear screaming, then groaning, and we could hear a female artist crying from the stage.”

The Sun adds: "Minutes after the artist’s fall, a recorded announcement was played on the theater’s sound system informing ticket-buyers that refunds or vouchers to future shows would be offered to those in the audience, and the crowd was dismissed."

Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte said: “I am heartbroken. I wish to extend my sincerest sympathies to the family. We are all completely devastated with this news. [Guyard-Guillot] was an artist with the original cast of 'Ka' since 2006 and has been an integral part of our Cirque du Soleil tight family. We are reminded, with great humility and respect, how extraordinary our artists are each and every night. Our focus now is to support each other as a family."

Performances of "Ka" were canceled until further notice.


Sarah Guyard-Guillot

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Showtime Series Sets Ratings Record

Showtime celebrated record ratings for the premiere Sunday night of a new drama series. TVLine.com reports that the debut of "Ray Donovan" delivered 1.35 million total viewers, topping "Homeland" as the pay-cable channel's most watched original series launch in its history. "Homeland" opened to 1.08 million total viewers.

"Ray Donovan" stars Liev Schreiber as a fixer for the rich and famous, with Paula Malcomson and Jon Voight also among the key cast members.

Other big Showtime premieres include "Shameless," which brought in 982,000 total viewers, and "The Borgias," which opened to an audience of 1.06 million, the piece reports.

"Setting the table for 'Ray Donovan' was 'Dexter‘s' final season opener, which drew 2.5 million viewers -- the show’s largest premiere audience ever (besting last fall’s 2.4 mil), yet down 11 percent from the Season 7 finale (2.8 mil)," TVLine adds. "Including replays, 'Dexter‘s return amassed 3.2 mil -- again, up from the Season 7 premiere’s 3.0 mil but down from the finale’s 3.4 mil."

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Key Microsoft Exec May Be Headed for Game Company

A top executive at Microsoft Corp. may be headed for a new position with a game company. Reuters, citing a report by AllThingsD, reports that Microsoft's Don Mattrick could take over as CEO of Zynga.

The news that Zynga may be about to push out Chief Executive Mark Pincus reportedly sent Zynga share prices 10% lower.

"Mattrick, who heads Microsoft's critical Xbox business as the company's president of interactive entertainment, could leave Microsoft to join Zynga, possibly as its CEO and is 'working in close partnership with its founder and current CEO Mark Pincus,' according to AllThingsD, citing multiple unnamed sources," Reuters reports.

Zynga and Microsoft declined to comment, the piece notes.

Reuters adds: "Pincus, 47, controls a 61 percent voting stake in the gaming company he founded in 2007, according to financial filings from March, and he would have final say over his company's leadership.

"Zynga's business model, which relied heavily on selling virtual goods to gamers on Facebook Inc's platform, began to disintegrate a year ago as users tired of Facebook games. Pincus has been unable to turn around the company named after his pet bulldog, Zinga."

Mattrick helped turn the Xbox operation into a money maker for Microsoft after joining the company in 2007, with the device eventually becoming the best-selling console in the U.S.

"Mattrick's departure would come just as Microsoft gears up to launch the third version of its console, called the Xbox One. Unveiled in May and scheduled to hit stores later this year, the machine has already stirred up controversy," Reuters reports. "Gamers attacked the high price tag, Microsoft's plan to require an Internet connection at least once a day and moves to limit sharing of used games. Last month, Microsoft reversed its position on the Internet connection and said it would allow game sharing."

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CBS Ekes Out a Sunday Win as ABC Show Sinks to Historic Low

CBS claimed a narrow win in the Sunday night broadcast ratings, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the Tiffany Network's 1.1 average in the demo for prime time was just good enough to edge the other broadcast nets.

CBS won despite airing mostly reruns, as "Big Brother" was its only original program. The reality franchise's 1.7 average in viewers 18-49 made it the top show of the night on broadcast, even though "Big Brother" was down a half-point from its Wednesday premiere.

Coming in second for the night was Fox, which aired an all-repeat lineup. ABC and NBC mixed repeats and originals, with the worst news for ABC being "Celebrity Wife Swap's" 1.0 average in 18-49, an all-time low for the series and three-tenths below the number the series turned in last week, along with "Whodunnit's" similar decline -- also down three-tenths from last week to a 1.0.

NBC's lone fresh program was "Crossing Lines," which equaled last week's 0.7 average in the 18-49 demo.

For prime time overall, CBS's 1.1 average rating led the way in adults 18-49, followed by Fox (1.0 average), ABC (0.9), Univision (0.9) and NBC (0.8). CBS also won total viewers, averaging 5.6 million to NBC's 3.6 million, ABC's 3.5 million, Fox's 2.3 million and Univision's 2.2 million.

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ABC Dumps One of the Judges on 'The Taste'

One of the judges on ABC's "The Taste" has been dropped from the show. Deadline.com reports that the network opted not to pick up the contract of Brian Malarkey for the show's upcoming second season.

The food show is reportedly looking for a new judge to replace Malarkey.

In a statement to the food blog Eater, Malarkey said he was "disappointed to part ways and not return for Season 2, but onward and upward! I’m looking forward to pursuing future television projects and continuing to grow our restaurant group."

"The Taste" was renewed by ABC May 14, even though it struggled with ratings during its first season, the story says. The show's other judges -- Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson and Ludo Lefebvre -- are returning for season two.

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Roseanne in Talks to Return to TV in NBC Sitcom. The Real News Here Is the Radical Structure of the Business Deal That's Being Considered

NBC is close to a deal that will bring Roseanne Barr back to broadcast prime time, with an agreement that marks a departure from tradition for a broadcast network, reports our good friend Nellie Andreeva in an exclusive story for Deadline.com.

Writes Andreeva, "I hear the project, a multi-camera family comedy, is intended as going straight to series under the 10/90 model used by Lionsgate’s Debmar-Mercury for the Tyler Perry sitcoms on TBS and most recently 'Anger Management' at FX."

Andreeva continues, "Universal TV is producing in what would be the studio’s first stab at the 10/90 template. This also would mark the first broadcast network to take on the model, which involves a straight-to-series 10-episode order that triggers a 90-episode back order if a ratings mark is hit."

The story notes that the project is being co-written by Barr and "Nurse Jackie" co-creator and former co-showrunner Linda Wallem.

The risk in using the 10/90 model is that while the initial ratings may be good, in subsequent seasons the ratings may drop precipitously.

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Will CBS Summer Hit Trigger a Strategic Shift for Broadcasters?

A new hit for CBS -- if it can be called a hit after just one airing -- could spawn a strategic shift for the broadcast networks. Writing in The New York Times, Bill Carter says the early success of "Under the Dome" means broadcasters could be looking at fighting back against the summer domination of the cable networks.

CBS took a cue from cable by launching a high-profile drama series during the summer months, typically the realm of repeats and reality shows on broadcast. "Under the Dome" drew more than 13.5 million viewers for its premiere last Monday, making it the biggest audience for a summer drama in more than 20 years. During the subsequent three days, an additional 3 million viewers watched the show.

The ratings illustrate the potential “to create a whole new model for summer programming,” David F. Poltrack, the network’s chief research executive, told The Times.

Already, other broadcasters are readying summer dramas, including ABC's "Resurrection," which is about a town visited by long-dead relatives, and Fox's plan for some "event series" such as a revival of the hit "24."

“The networks have to stop losing viewers,” Brad Adgate, the senior vice president for research at Horizon Media, noted. “After the season they just had they can’t afford to lose any more.”

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Actor Known for Landmark Martial Arts Movie Dies

An actor known for his role in a movie that marked a seminal moment in the evolution of martial arts cinema has died. CNN reports that Jim Kelly, who made his mark in the Bruce Lee film "Enter the Dragon," died Saturday of cancer at 67.

"Kelly worked as a martial arts instructor in Los Angeles when he was tapped for his first role in the action movie, 'Melinda. But he is best known for his work in the 1973 Bruce Lee film 'Enter the Dragon,'" the story reports. "Kelly's appearance in the movie was brief -- fans lamented he was offed too soon -- but his electrifying Afro, lanky 6-foot-2 frame and his wisecracks left an impression."

The piece notes that after "Enter the Dragon," Kelly was in demand: "He capitalized on the attention by taking on the title role in 'Black Belt Jones' the following year. A spate of other roles followed throughout the '70s, most notably 'Three the Hard Way,' but then dried up.

"In later years Kelly took up tennis professionally, becoming a ranked player on the USTA senior circuit."

Kelly said in a 2010 interview with the Los Angeles Times: "I never left the movie business. It's just that after a certain point, I didn't get the type of projects that I wanted to do."

CNN adds: "In 2004, he starred with basketball star LeBron James in a Nike commercial that spoofed another Bruce Lee film, 'Game of Death.' And he sometimes appeared at comic book conventions, much to the delight of his lasting fans."

"Enter the Dragon," the first Chinese martial arts film produced by a major Hollywood studio, was released by Warner Bros. six days after the death of its star, Bruce Lee. The film was selected in 2004 for preservation in the National Film Registry because of its cultural significance.


Jim Kelly

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Report Says Time Warner Cable Execs, Upset by Idea That They May Be Bought by Charter and John Malone, Are Instead Thinking of Acquiring Other MSOs Themselves

"Time Warner Cable would rather grow through acquisitions than be bought by billionaire John Malone, and has been eyeing Cablevision, its most coveted target, and No. 3 cable operator Cox Cable, according to three people familiar with" the thinking of Time Warner Cable executives, reports Reuters.

The story continues, "Time Warner, the second-largest U.S. cable operator with more than 12 million subscribers, has contacted both companies in recent months to discuss options including a merger, according to one of the people, although in neither case have the talks progressed to any serious consideration of a transaction. The source did not say how recent the talks were."

The article adds, "Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Glenn Britt is not interested in a Charter merger, according to people with knowledge of the matter. ... A fourth person familiar with Time Warner Cable's thinking said that its executives believe a merger with Charter would not benefit Time Warner Cable shareholders because of the large amount of debt it would put on the combined company's balance sheet. They are also skeptical about potential synergies."

As previously reported, Malone, whose Liberty Media now owns 27% of Charter, is looking for one or more MSO acquisitions.

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'Glee' Upgrades Five Cast Members -- After Downgrading Others

The Fox musical drama "Glee" has promoted five actors to series regulars, just days after the show downgraded some of the long-standing cast -- such as Mark Salling (Puck) and Heather Morris (Brittany) -- from series regulars, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

The actors getting promotions from recurring characters are Melissa Benoist (Marley), Jacob Artist (Jake), Becca Tobin (Kitty) and 'The Glee Project' alums Blake Jenner and Alex Newell, the story says.

Salling and Morris, along with Amber Riley (Mercedes) and Harry Shum Jr. (Mike), will likely return for guest appearances.

The story adds, "Fox and studio 20th Television renewed the Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk musical for its fifth and sixth seasons in April and the promotions come as little surprise; all five have been considered the future of the series as its original core cast marches toward the show's latest graduation."

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'Game of Thrones' Casts 'Most Anticipated New Role'

HBO's "Game of Thrones" has made a key casting move for the upcoming season. EW.com's Inside TV reports that the fantasy series has cast the character of Prince Oberyn Martell -- also known as the Red Viper of Dorne.

The character will be portrayed by Chilean actor Pedro Pascal, who previously appeared in arcs in CBS's "The Good Wife" and USA's "Graceland." The report calls Pascal's character "the most anticipated new role coming to the fourth season."

Here's a description of the character from EW.com: "Oberyn is a brash, charming, cunning prince of Dorne (part of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros). His sister Elia was brutally murdered by the Lannister knight Gregor 'The Mountain' Clegane when Mad King Aerys was overthrown by Robert Baratheon and the Lannisters. In season four, Oberyn comes to King’s Landing with revenge on his mind."

Commenting on the casting in a statement, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss said: "This was a tough one. The Red Viper is sexy and charming, yet believably dangerous; intensely likable, yet driven by hate. The boys love him, the girls love him, and he loves them all back. Unless your last name is Lannister. We found a fellow who can handle the job description and make it seem effortless."


Pedro Pascal

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'Happy Endings' Won't Have One

The ABC comedy "Happy Endings" has run out of time in its struggle to find its own happy ending. Deadline.com reports that leading studio Sony Pictures TV pulled the plug on efforts to find a new home for the show.

The move comes as the cast's options expire today, the story notes. Sony tried hard to find another home, even before ABC decided to cancel the comedy earlier this year, ending its three-season run.

"Cable network USA, which is re-entering the half-hour comedy space this fall with off-network acquisition 'Modern Family,' originally expressed interest in early April," the report notes. "It entered talks with Sony immediately after ABC made the cancellation decision the Friday before upfronts but, three weeks later, the network opted not to proceed with the pickup to focus on its original comedy series. While USA was considered the only real play for 'Happy Endings,' Sony TV didn’t give up and continued to search for ways to keep Happy Endings until it ran out of time with the cast options."

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Jennifer Lopez Responds to Criticism Over Serenading Repressive World Leader

After a performance Saturday in which she serenaded the leader of the former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan, singer Jennifer Lopez apologized for the show, with her representative saying she wouldn't have performed in the country if she had known it had human rights issues, reports People.

The statement said that the event was hosted by the China National Petroleum Corp., and that it wasn't political in nature. But the country's leader, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, attended the show. He has been criticized by Human Rights Watch and other organizations, which describe his rule as "among the most repressive in the world," the story notes.

According to media reports, the performance included Lopez singing "Happy Birthday" to Berdimuhamedow in response to a last-minute request.

"Had there been knowledge of human rights issues any kind, Jennifer would not have attended," her publicist said. Lopez's performance fee wasn't disclosed.

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NBC Keeping 'Office' Alum's Comedy Project Alive

A comedy project that just missed being picked up to series is still alive at NBC. Deadline.com reports that the untitled pilot from "The Office" alum Craig Robinson remains in play at the network.

The project has received an order for three additional scripts, and the network has extended the options on the entire cast, the story reports. The project is about a musician, played by Robinson, who becomes a middle-school music teacher.

The cast also includes Larenz Tate, Amanda Lund and Jean Smart.

Along with his role as Darryl Philbin on NBC's "The Office," Robinson is known for his work in feature films including "Pineapple Express" and "Zack and Miri Make a Porno." He is also a singer and a stand-up comedian.

The pilot is from Universal TV, Deedle-Dee Productions and 3 Arts.


Craig Robinson

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News Corp. Is Now Officially Two Companies

News Corp. completed a transaction Friday afternoon that had been in the works for more than a year: the separation of the media conglomerate into two separate companies, 21st Century Fox and a smaller News Corp., reports the Los Angeles Times.

Shares of the two companies, which are both controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his family, were to trade starting today, Monday, as separate stocks.

21st Century Fox will include the 20th Century Fox movie and TV studios, Fox News Channel, Fox Sports, FX, National Geographic and the Fox broadcast network. The publishing group is keeping the News Corp. name, and includes publications such as The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.

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Alec Baldwin Apologizes After Profanity-Laced Rant

Alec Baldwin has apologized for a Twitter rant last week following James Gandolfini's funeral. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the actor apologized for using homophobic language in tweets aimed at Daily Mail reporter George Stark.

Stark had reportedly said Baldwin's wife, Hilaria, tweeted during the funeral service last week, including sending messages about anniversary presents. As previously reported, Baldwin sent profanity-laced tweets to Stark, including calling the reporter a "toxic little queen."

Baldwin deleted his Twitter account after the rant. Both he and his wife denied that she tweeted during the funeral.

Baldwin later apologized for using homophobic language. In a letter sent Friday to GLAAD, Baldwin said his "ill-advised attack” on Stark “had absolutely nothing to do with issues of anyone's sexual orientation.”

"My anger was directed at Mr. Stark for blatantly lying and disseminating libelous information about my wife and her conduct at our friend's funeral service. As someone who fights against homophobia, I apologize,” he said.

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Starting Today, Netflix Will Start Showing Reruns of Fox's Highest-Rated Sitcom

Netflix has acquired the rights to show reruns of the highest-rated sitcom Fox now airs. 

"The streaming service and Fox have inked a multi-year deal to bring 'New Girl' to the subscription-based digital outlet," reports Deadline.com, adding, "The first season of the Chernin Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV-produced series from creator Liz Meriwether will be available July 1 with subsequent cycles like the recently ended Season 2 to follow after their broadcast season is complete."

Regarding season one of "New Girl" the story says, "Debuting on September 20, 2011, 'New Girl' ended up being the 12th-highest-rated series overall among adults 18-49 of the 2011-2012 season with a 4.2/11 result. It was the second-highest-ranking new series of that season among the key demo."

Fox TV Distribution Executive Vice President of Worldwide Pay TV and Video on Demand Gina Brogi said in a statement: "We are delighted that Netflix viewers will now have the opportunity to enjoy this remarkable comedy. As a leader in digital distribution, Netflix is an important partner for us. We are thrilled to continue building our relationship with them.”


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TV Station Ownership Consolidation Continues, with Tribune Buying 19 Stations for $2.72 Billion

In a major TV station deal, Tribune Broadcasting, which already owns 23 TV stations,  has agreed to acquire 19 more TV stations for almost $3 billion.

According to the announcement, "Tribune Company and Local TV Holdings, LLC, today jointly announced they have entered into a definitive agreement for Tribune to acquire all of Local TV’s 19 television stations in 16 key markets for $2.725 billion in cash."

The announcement continues, "Upon closing, the acquisition will immediately transform Tribune into the country’s largest commercial TV station owner, with a total of 42 stations from New York to Los Angeles and Miami to Seattle. Importantly, because most of Local TV’s stations are ranked #1 or #2 in revenue share in their respective markets, the transaction will generate significant free cash flow and be immediately accretive to Tribune’s earnings."

Local TV was formed in 2006 by Oak Hill Capital Partners when it purchased nine TV stations that had previously been owned by the New York Times. A year later it added eight stations owned by News Corp. Tribune and Local are no strangers to one another. They have had a broadcast management agreement for the past five years.

Said Tribune CEO Peter Liguori in the announcement, “This is a transformational acquisition for Tribune—it makes us the #1 local TV affiliate group in America, expands the distribution platform for our high-quality video content, and extends the reach of our digital products to new audiences across the country. We couldn’t be more excited about Tribune’s future as America’s leader in creating and distributing original content and local news programming.”

The announcement notes, "Tribune’s broadcast portfolio will increase from 23 to 42 stations, and include 14 CW affiliates, 14 Fox affiliates, 5 CBS affiliates, 3 ABC affiliates, 2 NBC affiliates and 4 independents. Tribune will own 14 stations in the country’s top 20 markets. It will become the #1 Fox affiliate group, expand its position as the #1 CW affiliate group, and add market-leading stations in prime cities such as Denver, Cleveland, St. Louis, Kansas City, Salt Lake City and Milwaukee.

"Tribune anticipates the combination with Local TV will generate more than $100 million in annual run-rate synergies within five years after closing. The transaction will be structured to deliver to Tribune a step-up in the tax basis of the acquired assets. Taking into account Tribune’s estimate of run-rate synergies and the present value of this tax asset, the effective purchase price multiple on a pro forma basis is approximately 7x 2011 and 2012 average EBITDA."

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TVBizwire | July 31, 2013

NBC's 'Today' Replaces Director

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'Sharknado' Storm Building for Syfy -- Movie's Third Airing Makes History

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Oprah Winfrey's OWN Turns the Corner Ahead of Schedule

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ABC Family Renews Drama Series, Expands Orders for Two Other Shows

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'Fringe' Star Cast in Ryan Murphy's HBO Project

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Lifetime Greenlights Project From 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' Writer

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Flash: CW Show Will Launch New Superhero Series

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Emmy-Winning, Oscar-Nominated Actress Dead at 80

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ABC Wins Monday Night as Reality Series Surges; NBC's Full Prime-Time Lineup Hits Lows

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Why Are the Networks Hemorrhaging Younger Viewers -- and Does It Really Matter?

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'Sherlock' Casts New Villain

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Syndie Sales of 'Raising Hope' Hit Milestone

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Longtime ABC and NBC News Correspondent Dies

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Sinclair Puts Cable News on Notice: It's Putting Together a National News Channel

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A 243-Week NBC Winning Streak Is Broken

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USA Network Shuffles Schedule After Disappointing Start for New Series

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Leah Remini Says She's 'Not About to Shut Up' After Breaking From Scientology

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After Awkward Fox News Interview, Author Sees Book Sales Soar

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Lindsay Lohan to Fill In as Guest Host on Late-Night Show

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Disney Channel Renews Show