August 2013

Unfaithful Lust: Two Must-See Movies of the Silver Screen Hit the Small Screen Tonight and Tomorrow

By Chuck Ross

With the Labor Day weekend upon us, here are two movies I consider must-sees -- one on TV in a few hours, and the other on TV tomorrow afternoon.

First we have one of the best bio-pics ever put out by the major studios: "Lust for Life," starring Kirk Douglas as Vincent van Gogh. It was released in 1956 and made by MGM.

The script, by radio veteran Norman Corwin, is smart without being ponderous. It's not full of bon mots, but neither is it overly sentimental. 

The performances are outstanding. Douglas, who physically resembles the artist, inhabits the character in a way that expresses van Gogh's internal and external conflicts simutaneously. Anthony Quinn plays painter Paul Gauguin, in a role that righfully was recognized with a Best Supporting Oscar. James Donald is excellent as Vincent's brother Theo -- and it's hard to believe it's the same actor who played the doctor the next year in "Bridge Over the River Kwai."

Behind the camera were two of the best, Russell Harlan and Freddy Young. Young would later paint the screen with breathtaking beauty for David Lean's epics "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Dr. Zhivago." The wide-screen cinematography of "Lust for Life" is one of the highlights of the film.

All of this was put together with vivid intensity by director Vincente Minnelli, one of the major directors in Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s. Critic David Thomson, in his superb "New Biographical Dictionary of Film" wrote of Minnelli directing this picture that it "is a heartrending identification with an artist, as moving as anything in American cinema. And the artist concerned is not Firbank or Toulouse-Lautrec--but van Gogh, a harsh, clumsy mystic. 'Lust for Life,' has everything that is often found absent from Minnelli's work: the use of color, costume, and bravura emotional acting to define a tragic human situation."

I wouldn't be as harsh on Minnelli about his other work, but I certainly agree with Thomson about his praise for "Lust for Life."

The film is on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) tonight, Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, at 8:45 p.m. Pacific time (11:45 p.m. on the east coast.) It's also available on DVD and while it's not available for streaming on Netflix, it can be streamed through Amazon.

Let's move on to my second recommendation this weekend of a movie on TV. Nothing pleases me more than being able to recommend to you movies that were huge flops when they were released that are actually fine films.

Here's a case in point. The original "Unfaithfully Yours," a Preston Sturges movie from 1948. (It was remade in 1984 with Dudley Moore.) It screens tomorrow, Saturday, Aug. 31st, 2013, at noon, Pacific time, also on TCM (3 p.m. Eastern time). Like "Lust for Life," it's also available in DVD, and for streaming on Amazon, but not Netflix.

Here's what Pauline Kael said of "Unfaithfully Yours": "One of the most sophisticated slapstick comedies ever made, this classic, written and directed by Preston Sturges, got terrible reviews and failed at the box office. The hero, a symphony conductor (a parody of Sir Thomas Beecham), is played by Rex Harrison, who is at one of his comic peaks. During a concert the conductor, convinced that his wife (Linda Darnell) has been unfaithful to him, fantasizes how he will handle the situation in three different ways, according to the style of the music on the program–Rossini’s Overture to Semiramide, the “Pilgrim’s Chorus” from Wagner’s Tannhäuser, and Tchaikovsky’s “Francesca da Rimini.” After the concert, he tries to carry them out, scrambling them hopelessly. There are so many great lines and situations in this movie that writers and directors have been stealing from it for years, just as they’ve been stealing from Sturges’s other work, but no one has ever come close to the wild-man deviltry of the best Preston Sturges comedies."

While I like the movie, I'm not as wild about it as Kael was, and if you watch it thinking it will have the same high-spirited zaniness of Sturges' "The Lady Eve" or "The Palm Beach Story," you'll likely be disappointed. Nor does it have the comic wistfullness or bright dialogue of Sturges' "Sullivan's Travels."

Kael's description of sophisticated slapstick is more to the point. I primarily recommend "Unfaithfully Yours"  because I think it has one of the cleverest screenplays ever made.

Here are some thoughts by Sturges himself about why he thought the film failed at the box office. This is from the book "Preston Sturges By Preston Sturges: His Life in His Words.":

I believe the success or failure of any writing depends upon the residual. By that I mean what the reader has left in his mind after closing the book; what the spectator takes home with him after leaving the theatre or movie palace.

Years ago, in Chicago, I went with Father to see a matinee. He laughed so hard that he shook like jelly through the whole comedy, and as we walked up the aisle at the end of the performance, I turned to him enthusiastically, ‘That was some play, wasn’t it!’ The tears of laughter still wet upon his cheeks he turned to me and said indignantly, ‘What are you talking about? I thought it was rotten!’

It was years before I understood what he meant. Then I forgot it and very stupidly made ‘Unfaithfully Yours.’ The audiences laughed from the beginning to the end of the picture. And they went home with nothing. Because nothing had happened. It just looked like something had happened. The audiences ate my seven-course special and went home hungry.

The performances, I thought, were very good, and my favorite parts of the picture are the three prospects of Sir Alfred [the Rex Harrison character], which I tried to do as if written and directed by Sir Alfred, who is neither a writer nor a director. Imagining his own roles vividly, the marionette-like behavior of the other characters during the prospects is the natural result of Sir Alfred’s ability to have them say and do exactly what he wants them to do. Only one critic in the world recognized what I was trying to do; I was greatly criticized by a few others for verbosity and for using a static camera in those scenes…

“Unfaithfully Yours" received much critical acclaim and lost a fortune.

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Adaptation of the Clever and Entertaining 1973 Sci-Fi Movie 'Westworld' Has Pilot Production Commitment From HBO, with Quite a Pedigree Behind the Camera: J.J. Abrams, Jerry Weintraub and Jonathan Nolan

"In one of the biggest commitments ever for HBO, the pay cable network has nabbed 'Westworld,' a drama series inspired by Michael Crichton’s 1973 sci-fi movie," writes Nellie Andreeva at

The story continues, "The project, from J.J. Abrams‘ Bad Robot, 'Person Of Interest' creator Jonathan Nolan, producer Jerry Weintraub and Warner Bros TV, has received a pilot production commitment."

Nolan is the brother of Christopher Nolan and together they co-wrote "The Dark Knight" and other projects. Jonathan also wrote the short-story that is the basis of one of his brother's best movies, "Memento."

The article also says that "written by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy ('Burn Notice'), the new 'Westworld' is described as a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin. Jonathan Nolan is set to direct the pilot."

The article adds, "This marks the second series inspired by 'Westworld,' which starred Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin and James Brolin and introduced new digital visual techniques.The first, the short-lived 1980 drama 'Beyond Westworld,' was a continuation of both 'Westworld' and its movie sequel 'Futureworld.' "

Yul Brenner in Westworld.bmpYul Brynner played a robot in "Westwold"

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A&E Pulls Plug on Drama Series

A&E has canceled a drama series. reports that the cable channel made the decision not to go ahead with a fifth season of "The Glades."

The decision comes even though the show's fourth-season finale hit season highs in viewership, the piece notes.

"I hear the network made the call this morning," Nellie Andreeva reports on the website. "Like its companion 'Longmire,' 'Glades' posted season highs in its finale earlier this week, averaging 3.4 million total viewers, 1.1 million adults 18-49 and 1.3 million adults 25-54. But year-to-year, 'Glades' was down double digits in key demos while 'Longmire' posted gains."

The cable channel will bring back "Longmire" for a third season, as we reported previously.

Andreeva adds: "'The Glades,' from Fox TV Studios, was the first A&E scripted series to stick and helped establish the network’s scripted brand."

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How Much Is Your Used iPhone Worth? As of Today, Probably More Than It Was

Apple today launched a new program that could translate into money for owners of iPhones. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company just kicked off its eagerly anticipated iPhone trade-in program at U.S. retail stores.

The move is the latest in a series of efforts by Apple to gain and retain customers for its line of smartphones.

"The Cupertino, Calif. tech giant said its 'reuse and recycling' program emphasizes the value of iPhones, even after they’ve been used," WSJ reports.

A company spokeswoman said: “In addition to helping support the environment, customers will be able to receive a credit for their returned phone that they can use toward the purchase of a new iPhone."

Apple is offering as much as $280 in its retail stores for a used iPhone.

WSJ adds: "To get a credit, customers have to show that their trade-in iPhone works by powering it on. Customers also have to be in wireless carrier contracts when they leave the store, Apple employees said.

"Trading in and buying a new phone through the program won’t re-start a customer’s contract, a person familiar with the process said. Additionally, if the cost of phone they’re buying is lower than the trade-in credit they receive, they’ll get a gift card with the remaining balance."

Other companies have previously offered money for used iPhones. "A cottage industry has sprung up around recycling used gadgets, or reselling them on sites like eBay," the story reports. "Gazelle, which offers to buy used iPhones from customers through its website, indicates it will pay as much as $350 for a like-new device."

WSJ adds: "Apple store workers will offer the program to customers as an option to help pay for a new device, and as an alternative to sometimes costly repairs, employees familiar with the program said. In its training for store employees, Apple emphasized that its partnership with Brightstar for the trade-in program will also focus on creating recycling jobs in the U.S. Most [of] the phone’s components will be reused or recycled, one person said."

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Canadian Cops Pull Out of U.S. Reality Show After Outcry Over Woman's Arrest

After agreeing to star in a U.S. reality show, Canada's famed Royal Canadian Mounted Police apparently got more than they bargained for, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"The RCMP has formally pulled out of the true-life series about policing the Yukon by True Entertainment, the maker of 'The Real Housewives of Atlanta,' after officers were filmed arresting an apparently intoxicated woman in Whitehorse on Wednesday night," the publication reports. "The incident, witnessed by locals as the cameras rolled, caused a public outcry over an American reality series turning rural poverty into trashy entertainment."

In a statement issued Thursday, David Gilbert, a spokesman for the police group, said: "While the RCMP believes it is important to convey the complexities of policing in the Yukon and highlight the successful relationships that make this possible, the RCMP has concluded that it is unable to continue to participate in this production."

THR adds: "The unnamed reality series started shooting on Aug. 10 'to capture the variety and uniqueness of policing in our territory,' Gilbert explained. But on Aug. 16, the RCMP temporarily suspended its participation in the reality series after initial community concerns."

As concerns over the project mounted, former Yukon MP Audrey McLaughlin told Canadian broadcaster CBC: "Don't the police have anything else to do? There are two police cars, two officers, a whole film crew for this one poor unfortunate woman."

The woman's arrest apparently was the last straw.

Gilbert said the RCMP has "taken the necessary steps to formally terminate our agreement with the production company."

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Ted Nugent's Wife Arrested in Gun Incident at Airport

"The wife of rock musician Ted Nugent was arrested Thursday afternoon at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport after a gun was found in her carry-on luggage," the Dallas Morning News reports. "Airport spokesman David Magana confirmed that the D/FW Airport Department of Public Safety had taken Shemane Ann Nugent, 51, into custody."

Magana did not comment further, other than to say: “The rest of it is working its way through our system of legal approval.”

The report adds: "Nugent’s attorney, David Finn, said taking the gun to the airport was an 'honest mistake.' Nugent 'completely forgot or never knew the weapon was in her bag.'”

The attorney noted that Shemane Nugent has a license to carry a concealed handgun.

Finn added: “She is very embarrassed. She’s never been in this situation before. She has expressed remorse for any inconvenience for any public safety officials.”

Ted Nugent, known for "Cat Scratch Fever" and a number of hard rock anthems, is an outspoken gun rights advocate who has had a second career as a reality television star, with a series of shows including "Surviving Nugent," "Wanted: Ted or Alive" and "Ted Nugent's Gun Country." He has made headlines clashing with President Obama on gun control and other issues.

Dallas/Fort Worth "ranks second behind Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for guns found in carry-on luggage, according to a Transportation Security Administration spokesman," the report notes.

Shemane and Ted Nugent have been married since 1989.

ted-and-shemane-ann-nugent.jpgTed and Shemane Ann Nugent

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Football Tweaks Thursday Ratings ... But It Looks Like a Big Night for 'Big Brother'

On a night when NFL preseason football broadcasts played heck with broadcast lineups, CBS drove to a comfortable win as "Big Brother" blew its competition out of the stadium, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. reports that "Big Brother" notched a 2.6 average in viewers 18-49, surging a half-point from a week ago. But the report adds: "There were numerous local pre-emptions for NFL preseason football on ABC, Fox, CBS, The CW and NBC. CBS had pre-emptions in approximately 40% of the country due to NFL preseason football."

Consequently, the broadcast network results are probably inflated and are subject to more than the usual adjustments, the report notes. But nonetheless, here they are:

CBS easily won the night, averaging a 2.0 for prime time overall in adults 18-49, followed by NBC (1.5), ABC (1.4), Fox (1.4), Univision (1.3) and CW (0.4). CBS also won total viewers, averaging 7.2 million to lead ABC (6.3 million), NBC (4.9 million), Fox (4.5 million), Univision (3.4 million) and CW (1.1 million).

CBS sandwiched "Big Brother" in the middle of a lineup of repeat programs, with the best result being a 1.8 average for "Two and a Half Men" in the 18-49 demo.

NBC aired the finale of "Hollywood Game Night," which didn't do much better than its lead-in, a repeat installment of the show. Both programs averaged 1.5 ratings in viewers 18-49, with the finale nosing ahead in total viewers, 4.82 million to 4.66 million. A rerun of "America's Got Talent" opened prime time with a 1.4 in 18-49 and 5.16 million viewers.

Third-place ABC was the only one of the big 4 broadcasters to put up a schedule consisting entirely of fresh programming. Back-to-back editions of "Motive" settled for a 1.3 and a 1.4 average in the 18-49 demo, while "Rookie Blue" pulled in a 1.5.

Fox matched ABC's 1.4 demo average for the night with repeats of "Glee," "New Girl" and "The Mindy Project."

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NBA Star and Reality Show Personality Arrested

A champion NBA player who is also a reality television star -- and who has been making headlines lately for his off-court problems -- has been arrested. The Los Angeles Times reports that Lamar Odom, who won two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and most recently played with the L.A. Clippers, was arrested this morning on suspicion of DUI.

Odom is one of the title characters, along with his wife, Khloe Kardashian Odom, on the E! reality show "Khloe & Lamar." The story reports that Odom "was spotted driving erratically on the 101 Freeway in the San Fernando Valley, the California Highway Patrol said."

According to jail records, Odom was arrested at 3:54 a.m. and booked into jail in Van Nuys, Calif., the story reports.

"CHP officials said they spotted Odom driving a white Mercedes sports utility vehicle eastbound on the 101 Freeway near Sepulveda Boulevard. The driver was driving in a 'serpentine manner' at speeds of about 50 mph," the Times reports. "Authorities tried to pull over Odom, but he continued driving eastbound, passing Van Nuys Boulevard and Woodman Avenue. He exited at Coldwater Canyon Boulevard and came to a stop, CHP officials said."

The story cites a CHP report saying Odom showed "objective signs of intoxication and was unable to perform field sobriety tests as explained and demonstrated."

The report adds: "Odom was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and possibly drugs."

Odom has been the subject of recent speculation in the media that he is dealing with a drug problem. Reports surfaced last weekend that Odom went missing following a fight with his wife, the story notes.

"His agent told ESPN that the basketball player was 'not missing,' and a source told the outlet that Odom was at a Los Angeles hotel as friends tried to help him with a drug problem," the Times report adds.

Lamar-Odom.jpgLamar Odom

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TVWeek Closed Labor Day -- Have a Wonderful Holiday Weekend!

This coming Monday, Sept. 2, 2013, is Labor Day, an official holiday for those of us working here at Crain Communications.

So we'll next see you on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

Meanwhile, if anything breaks over the holiday weekend, we'll be sure to notify you via one of our TVWeek EXTRA alert emails.

Have a fun and safe holiday weekend!

All our best,

Your friends here at TVWeek

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Actor Seen in 'Mad Men,' 'Modern Family,' 'Will & Grace' and Other TV Shows -- and in the Movie 'The Hangover' -- Dead at 91

An actor who began his career late in life after making a name for himself in the music business has died. The Los Angeles Times reports that Murray Gershenz, who started acting at age 79, died Wednesday of a heart attack at 91.

He was known as "Music Man Murray," after spending nearly 75 years collecting more than 300,000 records that filled his shop. His huge collection and his quest to sell it was the subject of the documentary film "Music Man Murray," which debuted last year, the piece adds.

Gershenz found a second career as a character actor, landing bit parts on shows including "Raising Hope," "House" and "Parks and Recreation." He also had a memorable role in "The Hangover," playing an elderly man who fully disrobes, and he had a number of appearances on late-night talk shows, working with hosts such as Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel.

Gershenz told the Times during a tour last year of his record shop that he started buying records when he was 16.

"I fell in love with music -- and I was a compulsive collector," he told the newspaper.

The piece notes, "At one point he interrupted our tour to take a call from someone he assumed to be potential buyer. Instead, it was a casting agent inquiring about his availability for a Doritos commercial."

"The acting gigs were coming in steady, and he wanted to devote his time to it, which he did. His goal was to sell the collection by the time he was 90," the article says.

Gershenz sold his collection earlier this year, which required a fleet of 52-foot-long trucks to load.

Here's an acting demo reel for Gershenz:

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Pat Robertson Under Fire Over Claim About Gay Men

Pat Robertson is taking heat over a claim he made about gay men. TheWeek reports that the host of "The 700 Club" said on the show that gay men with the AIDS virus wear special rings that cut victims and infect them with HIV. The claim prompted criticism from CNN's Anderson Cooper and others.

Even Robertson's own Christian Broadcasting Network, which was founded by Robertson in 1961, apparently thought he had gone too far and edited out the section of the show's online broadcast. It also removed versions of the clip from YouTube, according to Right Wing Watch.

Cooper singled out the claim on his "Ridiculist" segment on Wednesday, TheWeek notes. Cooper compared Robertson to the crazy uncle you only see at Thanksgiving, and said he was surprised at the "baffling" claim because usually "Robertson's thoughts on gay issues are well-thought-out and very well-articulated." (He went on to air a clip of Robertson's statements on a variety of topics including demonic possession, the story says.)

The Huffington Post quotes Robertson saying during the discussion of AIDS and HIV on "The 700 Club": “There are laws now ... I think the homosexual community has put these draconian laws on the books that prohibit people from discussing this particular affliction. You can tell somebody you had a heart attack, you can tell them they’ve got high blood pressure, but you can’t tell anybody you’ve got AIDS.

“You know what they do in San Francisco? Some in the gay community there, they want to get people. So if they got the stuff they’ll have a ring, you shake hands and the ring’s got a little thing where you cut your finger. Really. It’s that kind of vicious stuff, which would be the equivalent of murder.”

pat-robertson.jpgPat Robertson

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His Name Isn't Familiar to Most. But This 9-Time Emmy Nominee (He Won 3) Helped Create the Look of What We Saw When Color Spectaculars Came to TV. Check Out This Impressive Video. One of the Fathers of TV Art Direction, Charles Lisanby, Dies at 89

He was one of the many in TV who spend most of their careers toiling behind-the scenes, and he's the only art director enshrined in the Television Academy’s Hall of Fame. Charles Lisanby, 89, has died, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

According to the article, "Lisanby, who helped pioneer color television scenic design, died Aug. 23 at his Los Angeles home of complications following a fall, publicist Leonard Morpurgo said.

"A great friend of famed pop artist Andy Warhol, Lisanby designed 'The Garry Moore Show' (1958), the legendary comedy show that introduced Carol Burnett to TV audiences, and designed numerous variety shows for stars such as Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Mitzi Gaynor, Diana Ross and Dolly Parton. He also served as art director for telecasts of the Academy Awards, the Emmy Awards and, in 1984, the first MTV Video Music Awards."

Charles Lisanby.bmpHe was nominated for nine Emmys over the span of five decades. According to THR, "He won in 1988 for 'Barry Manilow: Big Fun on Swing Street' (with a nomination the same year for the '60th annual Academy Awards' telecast); in 1980 for the special 'Baryshnikov on Broadway'; and in 1975 for the miniseries 'Benjamin Franklin.'"

The obituary notes: "Survivors include longtime partner Richard Bostard and sister-in-law Gladys. A funeral service will be held Sunday, Aug. 31, in his hometown of Princeton, KY."

The THR article also says that in a 2010 article from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Lisanby explained how he worked: “You have to find out what the show is about -- who’s starring, what is the script or sketches. You really have to service the show, figure out what it needs to say, what it has to say. People have to look at something, and if what they’re looking at bores them, they’re not going to watch.”

Here's a wonderful example of exactly what Lisanby was speaking about. This clip is from "Baryshnikov on Broadway" in 1980. Not only does it feature knockout perfomances from dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov and his guest star, Liza Minnelli, it also highlights the absolutely stunning Emmy-winning art direction by Lisanby and set decoration by his collaborator, Dwight Jackson. (Don't be put off by the subtitles at the very beginning of the clip. They disappear after about 10 seconds.)

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Remember the NBC Show 'Chuck'? Upcoming Project Has a Close Connection to It

For fans of the spy dramedy "Chuck," which aired on NBC from 2007-2012, there hasn't been much news since the show went off the air more than a year and a half ago. But here's a promising development: reports that Fox has ordered a father-daughter police drama from two people who were involved in the show -- "Chuck" executive producer Matt Miller and Zev Borow, a former writer on the show.

"Bad Guys," written by Borow with Miller supervising, is about Lea Morris, a single mom and an NYPD detective, who is dealing with her recently paroled father. The logline says, "'Bad Guys' affirms the ancient truth: You can’t pick your family, but with any luck you can arrest them.”

The project also reunites Borow and Miller at Fox, after both worked on the network's "Human Target." Miller was a showrunner on that program, while Borow was a writer.

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A&E Drama Series Is Renewed

A&E's most watched drama series has been renewed. Citing a tweet from the show's executive producer, reports that "Longmire" was picked up for a third season.

Exec producer John Coveny wrote on Twitter: "Thanks to the 5 million plus weekly fans (live+7). Young and older skewing alike! The call just came: SEASON 3 for #Longmire is a GO!"

A&E and Warner Bros. TV had no comment, and Deadline noted that the two sides have yet to finalize the deal for a third season. "There had been speculation that such a deal could include A&E taking ownership in the show. However, everyone seems to agree that 'Longmire' will return to A&E for a third season," the piece reports.

The show's second-season finale drew a season-high 4.4 million total viewers, with 1.1 million adults in the 18-49 segment.

A&E's "The Glades," however, doesn't appear likely to go to a fifth season, after reporting year-over-year ratings decline. The network hasn't yet made a decision, the piece notes.

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Donald Trump Gives Some Advice to Miley Cyrus

Donald Trump has some words of wisdom for Miley Cyrus, who has received a torrent of backlash over her sexually charged, twerk-filled performance at the MTV Video Music Awards.

"Miley, don't let them get you down. They're all jealous," Trump told her in a Vine video posted Thursday, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Cyrus is staying at one of Trump's hotels, according to text that accompanies the Vine video.

As previously reported, Cyrus' performance drew a rebuke from the Parents Television Council, whose advisory board includes her father, Billy Ray Cyrus. Still, Billy Ray Cyrus has tweeted supportive messages about his daughter's performance, according to Buzzworthy.

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Provocative Non-TV Story: Scientists Are Seriously Asking Whether Life as We Know It Started on Mars. Would That Make Us All ... Martians??!! (Time for a Seance to Contact Orson Welles and Ray Bradbury ...)

It might be the most provocative beginning of a story any newspaper has published in quite a while:

"Did life as we know it start on Mars? Are we all Martians? These are the questions some serious scientists are considering," writes Deborah Netburn in the Los Angeles Times.

The story continues: "Speaking at an international conference of geochemists, chemist Steven Benner of the Westheimer Institute of Science and Technology argued Thursday that early Mars provided a more hospitable environment for life to spring up than early Earth.

"'The evidence seems to be building that we are actually Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock,' he said in a statement."

The article asks, "So, how did life ever get going? Benner can't say for sure, but he has found evidence that the mineral boron and an oxidized mineral form of the element molybdenum can keep organic material from turning into tar, and may be essential for allowing life to form.

"Those two elements were probably not found on early Earth, because there wasn't enough oxygen on our planet at the time and it wasn't dry enough, he said, but they could have been found on early Mars, which did have oxygen and which was more arid.

"'It's yet another piece of evidence which makes it more likely life came to Earth on a Martian meteorite, rather than starting on this planet,' Benner said in a statement."

For more details please click on the link above to read the full L.A. Times article.

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NBC's 'Nightly News' Slates Return of Brian Williams

After taking several weeks off to deal with knee-replacement surgery, "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams will return after Labor Day, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

Lester Holt, who has been filling in for Williams, told viewers that doctors have given Williams the green light to return, and that he would be back on the Tuesday after Labor Day.

Williams announced on his Aug. 1 show that he would undergo the surgery.

Thumbnail image for brian-williams.pngBrian Williams

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'Rocky & Bullwinkle' Legend to Be Honored With TV Academy's Governors Award

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences next month will bestow its Governors Award on the woman who voiced Rocky the Flying Squirrel on "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show."

The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that the honor will go to June Foray. Foray, 95, will receive the award at the academy's Creative Arts Emmys ceremony Sept. 15, the story notes.

Foray has voiced iconic TV characters including Rocky and his enemy Natasha Fatale, as well as the sweet Granny, who owned Sylvester and Tweety Bird, in the classic "Looney Tunes" cartoons. Her voices also include Witch Hazel, who always tried to capture Bugs Bunny, and Cindy Lou Who from the TV special "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

june-foray.jpgJune Foray

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Werewolf From 'Being Human' Joins HBO Dramedy

A star of BBC's "Being Human" has been cast in a new HBO half-hour dramedy about gay men in San Francisco. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Russell Tovey is joining "Looking."

Tovey, who played the werewolf George Sands on the supernatural BBC drama, will play Kevin, a gay video game wunderkind who has made a lot of money at a young age, the story says. His character works closely with Patrick, who is played by Jonathan Groff.

The casting is the first big U.S. role for Tovey, who is openly gay, the story says. The eight-episode series will start shooting in San Francisco in the next few weeks.

russell-tovey.jpgRussell Tovey

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'Les Miserables' to Become Fox Show About Lawyers

"Veronica Mars" creator Rob Thomas is developing a project for Fox based on Victor Hugo's novel "Les Miserables," reports

The one-hour drama project will focus on an attorney who is fighting the consequences of his own unjust conviction, while also working to try to get other wrongly convicted people exonerated, the story says.

The untitled prime-time soap is from Rob Thomas Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television.

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CBS Spotlights NFL Stars in Ad Aimed at Ending Time Warner Blackout

"CBS Corp. aired ads in three major U.S. markets this week urging fans to switch television providers before the start of the professional and college football seasons to pressure Time Warner Cable Inc. to end a month-long blackout over fee increases," Reuters reports.

"The ads, which feature a much-anticipated matchup between star sibling NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning, are designed to highlight what Time Warner subscribers would miss should the blackout in those major markets extends into the rabidly followed football season."

CBS and corporate sibling Showtime have been blacked out on Time Warner systems in Los Angeles, New York and Dallas, along with some smaller markets, since Aug. 2.

"Analysts predict the blackout -- affecting more than 3 million homes -- will end around the NFL regular-season kickoff on Sept. 8, as both sides fear a backlash from irate football fans blocked from watching the hugely popular sport," Reuters reports. "CBS's ad, which began airing this week in the three largest affected markets, encouraged viewers to 'tell your friends with Time Warner Cable to switch providers now, so they'll be ready for the games on CBS.'"

Said sports TV consultant Ed Desser: "They both realize that this was the big skirmish ahead of them, when TV viewers started paying attention after the doldrums of the summer."

Reuters adds: "The CBS ad included shots of the Manning brothers, who will face each other in a Sept. 15 game between the Denver Broncos and New York Giants.

"'It's Peyton versus Eli in what could be their last match up ever,' the ad proclaims."

The ad also features defending college football champion Alabama, which faces Texas A&M in a CBS game Sept. 14. A&M upset Alabama last season.

Said cable analyst Craig Moffett of Moffett Research: "At the end of the day, CBS programming is just too valuable and CBS's sports lineup is too compelling for Time Warner to remain dark once football season starts."

Moffett adds: "Time Warner Cable will be taking a tremendous risk to let it get that close to the Manning Bowl. What has probably been a minimal trickle of consumer defections would turn into a torrent if it started to look like it might not be televised."

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Comedy Central Adds Programs Surrounding 'Futurama' Finale

Comedy Central is adding programs to mark the finale of the Matt Groening animated series "Futurama." reports that the cable channel will televise pre- and post-shows around the show's Sept. 4 series finale.

The pre-show will include a discussion with Groening and "Futurama" executive producer David Cohen, with Nerdist's Chris Hardwick moderating. (Hardwick also hosts the AMC after-shows "The Talking Dead" and "Talking Bad.") Voice stars from the show, including Billy West and Lauren Tom, will also participate.

After the finale, the post-show will add co-executive producer Patric M. Verrone and supervising director Peter Avanzin, and will include reactions to the final episode. It will also feature answers to questions from fans and details on what went on behind the scenes.

"Futurama" ran on Fox from 1999 to 2003, and then was revived by Comedy Central in 2008 as direct-to-video films, with the network airing new series episodes starting in 2010.


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Valerie Harper Defies the Odds: Her Brain Cancer Is 'Close to Remission'

Just one day after news surfaced that beloved TV actress Valerie Harper plans to appear on "Dancing with the Stars," word surfaced that her brain cancer is "close to remission."

The Los Angeles Times reports that Harper and her doctor broke the news this morning on NBC's "Today" show. Harper, who played Rhoda Morgenstern on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Rhoda" in the 1970s, was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in January, and has already outlived doctors' expectations.

"The 74-year-old 'Rhoda' star, who went public with her diagnosis in March, has combined chemotherapy with Eastern options including acupuncture and Chinese tea," the Times reports. "Harper has the rare condition leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, which occurs when cancer spreads to the fluid-filled membranes that surround the brain. She previously beat lung cancer."

But the news isn't all good. Her doctor is quoted as saying: "The problem is that any minute this can change. ... [Patients] develop resistance to the therapy and it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when."

The Times report adds: "Harper has maintained an upbeat public attitude since her cancer revelation, which she shared in detail at the time with People magazine. Now, she's cooperated for 'Valerie's Story -- A Meredith Vieira Special,' set to air Sept. 19 on NBC. The cameras travel into Harper's home and even accompany her to chemotherapy."

Here's a video report from E! News:

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NFL Reaches $765 Million Deal With Players Over Concussions

The NFL has come to terms with players over concussion-related brain injuries, agreeing on a a tentative $765 million settlement, ESPN reports. The settlement covers the league's 18,000 retired players, with the NFL "agreeing to compensate victims, pay for medical exams and underwrite research," the story reports.

The deal, announced just before the start of the 2013 season, comes after months of court-ordered mediation and would settle a lawsuit brought by more than 4,500 former players.

"One of the principal terms of the settlement is that the agreement 'cannot be considered, an admission by the NFL of liability, or an admission that plaintiffs' injuries were caused by football,'" the story reports. "According to the settlement, $675 million of the $765 million would be used to compensate former players and families of deceased players who have suffered cognitive injury, including the families of players who committed suicide after suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Other money will be used for baseline medical exams, the cost of which will be capped at $75 million. The NFL also will fund research and education at a cost of $10 million."

The report also notes: "Individual awards would be capped at $5 million for men who have or develop ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease or another severe cognitive impairment; $4 million for those diagnosed with CTE after their deaths; and $3 million for players with dementia."

The settlement still must be approved by Senior U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia.

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Fox Cruises to Big Win With 'MasterChef' Twin Bill -- How Much Did Paula Deen Have to Do With It?

With controversial TV chef Paula Deen in the lineup Wednesday night, Fox rode back-to-back episodes of "MasterChef" to an easy win in the broadcast ratings, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the demo number for the 9 p.m. episode -- the one featuring Deen -- was a 2.4, equaling last week, but total viewers rose 13% to 6.3 million. The show's 2.4 average made it the top program of the night in the demo. The Deen episode was taped in March, before a scandal erupted over Deen's use of the N-word.

Fox's Deen-free 8 p.m. episode of "MasterChef" lost ground from its previous original airing in the time slot, reports. The show slipped two-tenths in viewers 18-49 to a 2.0. Still, the double-header was easily enough to lift Fox over its broadcast competition, with much of the lineup on the other networks consisting of repeat programming.

NBC did put up a fresh installment of "America's Got Talent," which ticked up one-tenth from last week's season low to a 2.2 average in the 18-49 demo, TVbytheNumbers notes. "Talent" was by far the top show of broadcast prime in total viewers, averaging 9.69 million.

NBC also rolled out a new episode of "Camp," which matched its series low from last week in the 18-49 demo, a 0.9.

CBS broke out a new "Big Brother," which fell two-tenths from a week ago to a 2.0 in 18-49. ABC's only new program, the newsmagazine "The Lookout," rose one-tenth from last week's series low to a 0.8.

When all was said and done, Fox's 2.2 average rating for prime time in adults 18-49 was easily good enough to win the night among the broadcast nets, with second place going to NBC (1.5 average), followed by Univision (1.3), CBS (1.3) and ABC (0.8). NBC came out on top in total viewers with 6.4 million, followed by Fox (5.8 million), CBS (5.5 million), Univision (3.3 million) and ABC (3.2 million).

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NBC Strikes Again in Busy Development Season -- Network Will Go Bowling With New Comedy

NBC has reportedly set up a bowling comedy from two actresses who are moving to writer-producer roles for the project. Writing on, Nellie Andreeva reports that the network ordered the multicamera comedy to be exec produced by Krysten Ritter ("Don't Trust the B") and Aaron Kaplan and written by Liz Vassey ("CSI").

"Based on an idea by Kaplan, the comedy revolves around a group of six friends who meet each Wednesday night for their weekly bowling league and centers on two of them -- a couple, now broken up, who refuse to give up custody of their bowling league," Andreeva reports. "Kaplan took the idea to Ritter, an avid bowling fan, who came on board as an executive producer. Vassey, who has developed with NBC and Uni TV in the past, was tapped to pen the script. She previously co-wrote an episode of 'CSI' while she was a cast member on the veteran CBS crime drama."

The report notes that Ritter already has a relationship with NBC and Universal TV, having toplined the pilot "Assistance" last season.

"Kaplan’s broadcast sales so far this season include 'The Mysteries of Laura,' which has a production commitment at NBC, and 'The Henchman,' which has a put pilot commitment at Fox," Andreeva adds.

krysten-ritter.pngKrysten Ritter

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Fred Savage Comedy Lands at CBS

CBS is moving forward with a comedy project from former "Wonder Years" star Fred Savage. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the network made a script deal for the single-dad project, "Raised by Wolves."

"The half-hour effort will revolve around a 20-something guy who suddenly becomes a full-time dad to his 7-year-old daughter. As the title suggests, his buddies will band together to help him raise her," THR reports. "The project is being produced by CBS TV Studios, where 'Wolves' executive producer Fred Savage signed an overall deal when he launched his production company in late 2011. Matt Dearborn ('Even Stevens') and Racelle Rosett ('Blossom') will co-write and executive produce."

Savage has come a long way from "Wonder Years," the report notes. The actor "has managed to successfully transition behind the camera, where his work as a TV director has earned him the most attention," the story reports. "Among his small-screen credits: 'Modern Family,' '2 Broke Girls' and NBC's short-lived 'Best Friends Forever,' for which he was an executive producer as well. Earlier in his helming days, Savage directed a few episodes of Dearborn's 'Stevens.' In March, Savage was tapped to direct the Charlize Theron comedy film 'Ladies Night.'"

fred-savage.pngFred Savage

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Report: 'American Idol' in a Bind; Production May Be Delayed

The Fox singing competition "American Idol" finds itself in a tough spot -- with the possibility that production will be delayed -- after the deal to sign songwriter and producer Dr. Luke collapsed, The Hollywood Reporter's Idol Worship reports. Dr. Luke had been close to a deal to become a judge on the show.

The show was originally slated to start taping next Tuesday, but that might be pushed back, the story reports.

As previously reported, singer Harry Connick Jr. is in the running to take the third spot at the judge's table, joining Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban.

Fox is said to be cool to the idea of giving the job to Connick, preferring to hire an industry professional rather than another celebrity, THR notes. Fox declined to comment.

Dr. Luke's deal fell apart Aug. 23 after Sony Music CEO Doug Morris declined to allow him to appear on the show because his competitor, Universal Music Group, holds the exclusive rights to "American Idol" recordings, the story notes.

THR reports that Luke even offered Sony Music half his potential "Idol" salary, which was said to be about $12 million. Luke earns about $30 million a year from his music business, the piece adds, noting that would have lessened the sacrifice.

Meanwhile, Fox and "Idol" producers are said to be angry with talent agency CAA, which reportedly assured them that Luke's contract would allow him to take the judge's role. Fox's attorneys found that his contract didn't allow him to do so, the story adds. CAA didn't respond to a request for comment for the THR report.

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Singer-Songwriter of One of the Most Popular Novelty Pop Songs, Worldwide, of the Early 1960s Faces Child-Sex Charges

The man who wrote and sang one of the most popular novelty songs, worldwide, in the early 1960s is facing child sex charges.

Australian Rolf Harris, who sang the hit "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport," has been charged with "nine counts of indecent assault and four counts of making indecent images of a child" by British prosecutors, reports

"The alleged indecent assaults date from 1980 to 1986 and relate to two complainants aged 14 and 15 at the time of the alleged offending," the story reports. "Harris , 83, is scheduled to appear at Westminster Magistrates Court on September 23.

"There are six charges of indecent assault relating to a girl aged between 15 and 16 from 1980 to 1981, three charges of indecent assault relating to a girl aged 14 in 1986, and four offences of making indecent images of a child between March and July 2012."

The story notes that Harris "has lived in Berkshire, west of London, for more than 50 years."

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Cable Program Becomes the Most Tweeted About Episode in TV History -- and It's Not 'Game of Thrones' or 'Breaking Bad'

An episode of a cable TV series that aired Tuesday made history as the most tweeted about television episode of all time. The show also set personal bests for viewership.

It's not one of the usual suspects in terms of cable buzz. ("Game of Thrones," "Breaking Bad" and a few others come to mind.) The show is ABC Family's "Pretty Little Liars," which aired its most-watched summer finale in the show's history. reports that the series wrapped up its season on a high note with 3.3 million total viewers.

Among viewers 18-49, the show drew 1.8 million people, also a high for the season and for the show's summer finales, the story reports. But in a metric that is becoming increasingly important, the show drew a flurry of social-media mentions. The episode became the "most tweeted" installment in TV history with almost 1.9 million tweets, TheWrap reports.

The tweeting peaked at 70,000 tweets per minute during the episode's final minute, the report notes. ABC Family is touting the episode's average of 10,200 tweets per minute, along with 637,000 contributors and 38 trending topics.

The website Uproxx elaborates, reporting: "To put that into perspective, the 'Red Wedding' got 367,000 mentions on Twitter, while there were more than 604,000 tweets about 'Sharknado' from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. on [the Thursday it aired]. So, 'Pretty Little Liars' is more than three times as popular as 'Sharknado' proving yet again, tween girls are more dangerous than shark tornadoes."

Uproxx adds: "The people who watch ABC Family are teens (especially now that the adults have fled after R.I.P. 'Bunheads' was cruelly canned), and teens have nothing better to do than tweet endlessly about OMG DID U SEE WHAT SANTANHA DID ON #PLL WAT A BITCH. Unlike us grownups, who OMG DID YOU SEE WHAT SKYLER DID ON #BB WHAT A BITCH. We spell 'WHAT' correctly."

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Lisa Kudrow Joining Cast of One of the Hottest Dramas on TV

Lisa Kudrow -- Phoebe to her "Friends" -- is joining the cast of one of the hottest dramas on TV, reports our good friend Nellie Andreeva at

The story says Kudrow will be joining the cast of ABC's "Scandal."

Andreeva writes that "details about Kudrow’s character are under wraps, but I’ve learned that she plays a politician. On the Kerry Washington-starring drama, Kudrow is joining her longtime producing partner Dan Bucatinsky, who received an Emmy nomination for his recurring role as Cyrus’ (Jeff Perry) long-suffering husband. This marks Kudrow’s biggest series acting commitment in a long time."

"Scandal" was created by ABC hit-maker Shondra Rhimes, and is partially based on the life of Judy Smith, a former presidential press aide who is a co-executive producer on the series.

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Al Jazeera Off to a Slow Start -- and That's Putting It Gently

Ratings for the new cable news network Al Jazeera America during its first week on television were minuscule, reports TVNewser.

"Not surprisingly given the low-rated channel it replaced (Current TV), and the fact that it lost a few million homes from AT&T before launch (it is currently in just over 40 million homes), AJAM’s launch ratings were pretty low by traditional cable news standards," the story reports.

The top-rated show on the new network was Thursday evening's "Real Money with Al Velshi," which attracted 54,000 total viewers.

The 2 p.m. Saturday airing of "News Live" drew 48,000 viewers, and "Inside Story," which aired Thursday at 12:30 p.m., averaged 41,000 viewers, the story says. Meanwhile, the debut episode of "The Stream" on Tuesday averaged 38,000 viewers, which the story notes is below Nielsen's threshold for providing accurate ratings.

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Cable Channel Hits Two-Decade Ratings Low

A cable news channel is earning some of its lowest ratings in decades. The New York Post reports that in the key news demo of viewers 25-54, CNBC is attracting an average of just 37,000 viewers this month in total day.

That's down 35% from a year ago, the story reports, citing Nielsen data. It's also the worst ratings draw for CNBC in the 25-54 demo since April 1993. A CNBC representative said Nielsen's current rating system undercounts viewers.

CNBC's peak in the key demo was in January 2002, when 162,000 viewers in that age group tuned in, the story adds.

August has been a challenging month for cable news channels in general, with Fox News falling 24% in the key demo in total day, and MSNBC down 32%, the piece notes. CNN bucked the trend, climbing 13%, while its sister channel HLN was off 9%.

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Emmy-Winning Actor From 'Will & Grace' Joins 'American Horror Story'

An actor who appeared on the hit NBC comedy series "Will & Grace" is joining FX's "American Horror Story." The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Leslie Jordan, who played Beverley Leslie on the NBC sitcom, has been cast in the horror anthology series.

Details on Jordan's role are being kept quiet, as is the norm with the series, the story says. Jordan won an Emmy for best guest actor for "Will & Grace" in 2006. His long list of TV credits also includes "Desperate Housewives," "Boston Public" and "Boston Legal."

The third season of the FX drama, subtitled "Coven," picks up the story of witches and witchcraft in America, set 300 years after the Salem witch trials. The season also features Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett.

Leslie-Jordan.jpgLeslie Jordan

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'Good Morning America' Host Robin Roberts Says She Will Soon Be Back Full Time

"Good Morning America" co-host Robin Roberts says she will be back to work full time on the ABC morning show after Labor Day.

"The day after Labor Day I'll be back to a five-day-a-week schedule," she told People magazine. "I'm looking forward to it. I want to get back to my full life."

The one-year anniversary of Roberts' bone-marrow transplant will be marked Sept. 20, the story notes. She told the publication that she feels "90 percent of myself again, and that's a great feeling."

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Robin-Roberts.jpgRobin Roberts

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Paul Giamatti TV Project Moves Forward

A dark comedic drama starring Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Paul Giamatti is moving forward. reports that FX has given a pilot order to "Hoke," in which Giamatti plays homicide detective Hoke Moseley.

"Hoke" features Moseley, a hardboiled detective in the middle of a midlife crisis, working in Miami in 1985. The project is based on the Charles Willeford novels "Sideswipe," "New Hope for the Dead" and "The Way We Die Now," the story notes.

The project was written by the Oscar-nominated writer Scott Frank, who will direct the pilot and will be the showrunner if it gets a series order. Frank received an Oscar nomination for his adaptation of Elmore Leonard's "Out of Sight" and a Golden Globe nomination for his adaptation of another Leonard novel, "Get Shorty," the story notes.

Giamatti received an Oscar nomination for his 2005 supporting role in "Cinderella Man" and is an Emmy winner for his title role in the 2008 HBO production "John Adams."

Thumbnail image for paul-giamatti.jpgPaul Giamatti

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Conflict Talk Show to Launch Syndication Test Run

A new conflict-oriented talk show is moving toward its trial run in syndication, with a wide debut set for early next month. TVNewsCheck reports that "The Test," hosted by comedian Kirk Fox, will roll out Sept. 9 on stations reaching more than 90% of U.S. television homes.

The show "takes its inspiration from shows like NBCUniversal’s 'Maury' where DNA and lie-detector results have propped up ratings the past few years," the story reports. "But the look and feel of 'The Test,' from CBS Television Distribution and Tribune Broadcasting, have been freshened up with a brighter set and a comedian, Kirk Fox, who mostly plays it straight, as host."

Said executive producer Jay McGraw: “This show will fit right in with shows people are accustomed to watching on Tribune stations. It’s fun, entertaining and it has a lot of conflict. But it looks like a conflict-talk show that doesn’t come from a company that only does conflict. We have brought to this some of the storytelling and set design that we are used to.”

The program is produced by McGraw’s Stage 29 Productions, which also produces CBS Television Distribution’s "The Doctors."

"Longtime 'Dr. Phil' producer Carla Pennington is an executive producer on the show," the piece reports. "And earlier this year, Patricia Ciano was brought on as an executive producer. She previously held the same position on Debmar-Mercury’s 'Jeremy Kyle' and Warner Bros.’ 'Judge Jeanine Pirro.'"

Said McGraw: “She is the showrunner. She has done a lot of this genre and has done a lot of television, in general. She has been great at giving Kirk direction without being intrusive. And, now that we’re further along, I can see she’s great in the edit bay. She puts together a great story.”

kirk-fox.JPGKirk Fox

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'Treme' Actor Joins HBO's 'Game of Thrones'

An actor from the HBO drama series "Treme" has been cast in the fourth season of HBO's "Game of Thrones." The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Michiel Huisman will be a part of "Thrones."

Details of his role are being kept secret, the report notes.

Some fans of the show are speculating that Huisman will play Styr, Magnar of Thenn, a wildling leader with a hairless body, although British actor Joseph Gatt was also rumored to be playing the role, as previously reported.

michiel-huisman.jpgMichiel Huisman

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New Fox Project Ventures Into 'Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' Territory

Fox has bought a script from "Save Me" creator John Scott Shepherd, which focuses on a woman who's literally invincible, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

"Broken Girl" is described as a mix of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" and "Unbreakable," focusing on a woman named Trish Derring who decides she has nothing to live for after losing her boyfriend, but finds that she's invincible.

Shepherd will write and executive produce the 20th Century Fox TV and Prospect Park drama.

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Conflicting Reports About Fate of Kris Jenner's Talk Show

20th Television says reports that Kris Jenner's talk show has been canceled aren't accurate, with a representative telling that it's "too early to make a decision."

Reps for the show also took to Twitter to deny reports that the show was canceled after low ratings during a six-week test run, the story says.

"Kris" ended its six-week test run Friday, rolling out a high-profile guest for the finale in Kanye West, who has had a child with Jenner's daughter Kim Kardashian. West revealed the first photos of the couple's daughter.

The show's Twitter account featured a post Wednesday that said: "Rumors flying are false but glad everyone is still buzzing about our 6 week summer run!!!!"

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Former ABC Entertainment President Sells Project to Fox

The former entertainment president at ABC has made his first sale in his new role as producer. reports that Stephen McPherson landed a half-hour project at Fox.

The project is written by Brandon Schwartz and developed by McPherson, and focuses on a young man who, after getting dumped by his girlfriend, moves into a West Hollywood apartment complex filled with characters such as a former gigolo and aspiring models.

McPherson is executive producing the project, with Schwartz co-executive producing.

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Crooner Reportedly in the Mix for 'Idol' Judge's Spot

A popular singer has reportedly surfaced as a contender for a judging job on Fox's "American Idol." reports that Harry Connick Jr. is now in the mix for the job.

"He is a self-professed big fan of 'American Idol' who has done two very well-received stints as a guest mentor on the Fox singing competition and has been rumored for a judging gig on the show in the past," Nellie Andreeva writes on the website. "Could it be Harry Connick Jr.'s time? I hear the singer is on a shortlist of candidates for the seat on the 'Idol' judging table, which became vacant again after a deal with music producer Dr. Luke fell through at the last minute."

Connick, a multiple Grammy winner, has sold more than 25 million albums worldwide and is ranked by the Recording Industry Association of America among the 60 top-selling male artists in the U.S. Known for his blend of jazz and pop crooning, Connick's best-selling U.S. album is the holiday effort "When My Heart Finds Christmas."

Andreeva notes: "Asked in May on 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show' whether he would be interested if asked to become a judge on 'Idol,' Connick Jr. said, 'Well, yeah, I mean I had a really good time! I had a good time mentoring. Judging is a whole different deal; I don’t know how good I would be at that.'”

harry-connick-jr.pngHarry Connick Jr.

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Which New Fall Shows Will Be Worth Watching? Here Are the 20 That Are Not to Be Missed

With the summer 2013 television season winding down, thoughts turn to the upcoming fall season. Conveniently, the folks at have put together a list of 20 new shows for 2013-14 that are worth a look -- including a superhero spinoff, a new show featuring Robin Williams and a show the report says "may be Seth MacFarlane's most offensive series so far."

Here's a sample:

The Blacklist (NBC), with James Spader and Megan Boone; showrunner: John Eisendrath says the show, which features Spader as a fugitive working with the FBI, is worth watching "because after watching Spader play unsavory types in such offerings as 'The Office,' 'Boston Legal' and 'Secretary,' it will be interesting to see if he can pull off a full-on heavy here."

The Goldbergs (ABC), with Jeff Garlin, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Patton Oswalt (narrator); showrunner: Adam F. Goldberg
The 1980s family show, inspired by Goldberg's childhood, "invokes feelings of a less-precious 'The Wonder Years,'" the piece says.

MasterChef Junior (Fox), featuring Gordon Ramsay with child contestants
"Will Ramsay unleash his notorious temper on the tots as they vie for culinary dominance?," the report asks. "Will the kids' parents retaliate against Ramsay in an environment filled with sharp objects? The possibilities are as endless as they are intriguing."

Hostages (CBS), with Dylan McDermott, Toni Collette, Tate Donovan, from a producing team including Jerry Bruckheimer
Reports TheWrap: "McDermott established his creepy cred in spades with his two-season run on FX's 'American Horror Story,' and he brings intensity to his role as a renegade g-man."

Hello Ladies (HBO), with Stephen Merchant, Christine Woods, Nate Torrence
"Merchant is the hilarious co-creator of the British version of 'The Office' and 'Extras,' and the trailer drops an all-time great Roe v. Wade abortion joke. (How often do you get to say that?)," the piece notes.

The Michael J. Fox Show (NBC), with Fox joined by Betsy Brandt, Wendell Pierce, Sam Laybourne, Alex Reid
TheWrap says: "Michael J. Fox is back. Do you really need more reasons to watch? Oh you do. Also, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is in the first episode, 'Breaking Bad' star Brandt plays Fox's wife, and the show will raise Parkinson's awareness: Win/win/win."

The Crazy Ones (CBS), with Robin Williams, Sarah Michelle Gellar; created by David E. Kelley
Explaining why the show is worth watching, the report notes: "Imagine if Don Draper were funny. The industry that infiltrates the CBS sitcom plot is not the only connection to 'Mad Men.' James Wolk, who played the shady Bob Benson, also guest stars in the much-hyped show.

Dads (Fox), with Seth Green, Giovanni Ribisi, Vanessa Lachey; Seth MacFarlane and Alec Sulkin executive produce
TheWrap notes: "Fans of 'Family Guy' will get on board for a reteaming [of] the 'Family Guy' producers MacFarlane and Sulkin. It's also worth finding out if the show is as offensive and some critics think it is."

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC), with Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen; showrunners: Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen
"Though 'Avengers' mastermind Joss Whedon won't write and direct every week, the show is in good hands with his brother Jed, and Jed's wife, Tancharoen," the report notes. "The pilot strikes a good balance between comic-book drama and poking fun at comic-book drama."

Masters of Sex (Showtime), with Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan; created by Michelle Ashford
Says TheWrap: "Though set in 1950s St. Louis, 'Masters of Sex' feels vigorous and alive -- and not just because of all the naked people. There's a deep sense of tragedy underlying all the research. As much as Masters and Johnson try to remove emotional variables, sex refuses to be mastered."

Here are the 10 other recommended new shows mentioned in the article:

Dracula (NBC)
The Originals (CW)
Super Fun Night (ABC)
Sean Saves the World (NBC)
We Are Men (CBS)
Almost Human (Fox)
The Millers (CBS)
Mom (CBS)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox)
Sleepy Hollow (Fox)

We urge you to click on the link at the top of this story to read the full report from TheWrap.

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Beloved TV Actress, Having Already Outlived Her Doctors' Prognosis for Her, Is Going 'Dancing With the Stars'

A beloved television actress who has been diagnosed with cancer -- and who has already outlived the predictions of medical professionals -- says she has signed to appear on "Dancing with the Stars." reports that Valerie Harper, who played Rhoda Morgenstern on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" before going on to star in the spinoff "Rhoda," has already begun practicing for the ABC show.

"We're told Valerie and her partner Tristan have already been practicing for two days, and she's surprisingly good. Our sources say she's completely self-sufficient and doesn't need any special assistance ... at least so far," the website reports.

Harper, 74, was given three months to live back in March, the report notes, and has already outlived that forecast. She was diagnosed with "leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare form of cancer in which cancer cells spread into the membrane surrounding the brain," TMZ reports.

The report adds: "Leah Remini will also be on the next season, as well as Snooki, Elizabeth Berkley, Amber Riley from 'Glee,' and Christina Milian.

Harper won four Emmys for her Rhoda character in the 1970s --- three consecutive wins as outstanding supporting actress for "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" from 1971 to 1973 and a win as outstanding lead actress for "Rhoda" in 1975.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for valerie-harper.jpgValerie Harper

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'Talent' Fuels Ratings Win for NBC; Fox Reality Franchise Ticks Up as ABC Entry Dips

In the clash of two-hour reality competitions, NBC rode "America's Got Talent" to a comfortable win in the Tuesday ratings, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. reports that "Talent" was easily the top show of the night on broadcast, scoring a 2.2 average rating in viewers 18-49. "Talent" and NBC prevailed even as the show matched last week's series low for a Tuesday installment.

Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" was the only one of the three franchise reality shows to record an uptick, rising one-tenth from last week to a 1.3 average in the 18-49 demo. ABC's "Extreme Weight Loss" slipped two-tenths from its season high a week ago, notching a 1.1.

The rest of the prime-time programming on the Big 4 broadcast networks consisted of repeats, including CBS's three drama reruns ("NCIS," 1.0 average in 18-49; "NCIS: Los Angeles," 0.9; and "Person of Interest," 0.7) -- which left the Tiffany Network in fifth place among the broadcast nets.

For prime time overall, NBC's 1.8 average in adults 18-49 led the way, followed by Univision (1.4 average), Fox (1.3), ABC (1.0) and CBS (0.8). The battle for total viewers was tighter, with NBC taking a narrow win by averaging 6.8 million, ahead of CBS (6.5 million), Fox (4.0 million), ABC (3.5 million) and Univision (3.5 million).

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Twitter Ratchets Up Its TV Tie-In

Twitter has made an acquisition aimed at tightening the social media site's connection with television. Advertising Age, a sister publication to TVWeek, reports that the site acquired the social-TV startup Trendrr for an undisclosed amount.

The move is part of an effort to make it easier for networks and publishers to display tweets in their programming, the piece reports.

"It's the second major acquisition Twitter has made this year of an ecosystem company that conducted measurement and analytics on behalf of networks and brands around social conversations linked to TV. It reportedly paid $90 million for a former Trendrr competitor, Bluefin Labs, which was acquired in February," Ad Age reports.

The report adds: "Bluefin's technology has been integrated into the Twitter stack and has so far been put to use for a TV ad targeting product launched in May that enables marketers to show promoted tweets to Twitter users who are likely to already have seen their TV ads, based on the shows they've watched.

"Trendrr's technology will also be integrated, but for a different purpose. Its 'Curatorr' product aimed at media companies -- which would help a show like 'The Voice' present a relevant stream of tweets to depict the Twitter conversation happening around the show, for example -- will be used as the basis for tools for curation that a broader set of partners can tap into. The goal is to foster a developer ecosystem around curation that might include companies like Mass Relevance, which works with brands and media companies to present tweets on websites, Jumbotrons, and elsewhere."

In a blog post, Trendrr CEO Mark Ghuneim wrote: "Curatorr, our Twitter certified product, will work with media companies, marketers, and display ecosystem partners to create compelling user experiences -- continuing to pursue our initial charter of focusing on the real-time aspects of TV and media."

Ad Age adds: "As it did with Bluefin, Twitter will wind down Trendrr's other product, dubbed ',' which provided measurement and analytics around social TV, largely to TV networks."

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After Trying to Find Ways to Get Rid of Her, Fox Schedules Program Featuring Paula Deen

Even after Fox executives considered a range of options for getting Paula Deen off the schedule, the network will air an episode of "MasterChef" featuring the disgraced celebrity chef, the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports.

Executives considered not airing the episode, or trying to edit her out of the show, but neither idea was realistic, the story says. The editing would have disrupted a key section in the show's competition.

The episode was taped in March, before the former Food Network celebrity damaged her career by admitting that she had used racial epithets. Deen had appeared on the show before, and was a hit with the show's viewers, the piece notes.

Deen's "appearance sets the stage for potentially cringe-worthy moments of Deen oozing her 'Hey Y'all' drawl while the controversy over her use of racially charged language still hangs in the air," the article points out.

The episode is set to air tonight, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013.

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Must-See. 50 Years Ago Today Dr. Martin Luther King Gave His 'I Have a Dream' Speech. That Evening, Marlon Brando, Sidney Poitier, James Baldwin and Four Others Went Into a D.C. TV Studio and Had This Remarkable Discussion

It was 50 years ago today, on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 1963, that about 250,000 people participated in a landmark event of the American Civil Rights movement, the March on Washington, D.C. Once there, they heard one of the most famous speeches ever delivered, Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Click here to watch a video of the complete original speech. (It's a little over 15 minutes long.).

Later that evening, actors Sidney Poitier, Marlon Brando and Charlton Heston, singer Harry Belafonte, author James Baldwin and writer-director Joseph Mankiewicz took part -- with moderator David Schoenbrun -- in a candid discussion about race relations that was filmed in a Washington, D.C., studio. They had all participated in the March on Washington that day. Though Schoenbrun was then a correspondent for CBS News, the luminaries had not come together for a CBS broadcast. It was filmed by the United States Information Agency (USIA), and was later broadcast on TV stations in countries around the world.

Here is that must-see historic roundtable discussion:

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After Altercation With Pregnant Writer, Longtime 'CSI' Cast Member Takes Leave From the Show

An original cast member of "CSI" is taking a leave of absence from the CBS drama series after getting into a heated dispute with one of the show's writers -- who is eight months pregnant, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

"George Eads will not appear in several episodes during the first half of the season. We look forward to him returning to 'CSI' very soon," a CBS TV Studios representative said in a statement.

Eads will appear in the first three episodes of the upcoming season before his leave kicks in.

His absence isn't a salary negotiation ploy this time around, the story notes. In 2004, the actor was fired from the CBS show after a salary impasse with the studio and network.

Rather, the leave comes after Eads clashed with a co-writer of a recent episode, after he became unhappy with the creative direction of his character. When showrunner Carol Mendelsohn heard of the exchange, it led to a meeting during which Eads threatened to quit, the story adds.

Eads' absence will be explained in the fourth episode by Catherine, played by Marg Helgenberger, picking him to undergo special training at Quantico, the piece notes.

Eads is one of only three actors, along with Eric Szmanda and Paul Guilfoyle, who have been with the show continuously from its start, THR notes.

george-eads.pngGeorge Eads

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Will Fired Fox News Executive Spill Company Secrets? His Attorney Says Exec 'No Longer Has Any Confidentiality Obligation' -- and His Statements Reveal Plenty of Hard Feelings

An attorney for Brian Lewis, a former top executive at Fox News, is making it clear that his client may be spilling some inside information about the cable news channel and its chief, Roger Ailes, reports Gawker.

As previously reported, Lewis was fired recently for what the news company said were financial irregularities and breaches of his contract. Lewis was once a close adviser to Ailes.

Attorney Judd Burstein told Gawker in a statement that his client "no longer has any confidentiality obligation to Newscorp or Roger Ailes because of the false and malicious statements made by Fox to date."

He added that Ailes and News Corp. "have a lot more to fear from Brian Lewis telling the truth about them than Brian Lewis has to fear from Roger Ailes and his toadies telling lies about Brian Lewis."

Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox wasn't immediately available to comment, the story adds.

brian-lewis.pngBrian Lewis

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Disney Gets Go-Ahead to Build Huge TV and Film Production Site

Disney has received a green light to build a huge television and film production facility. reports that the company received approval for the project from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

The 58-acre site will be built on the Golden Oak Ranch, which has a long history as a filming location. The Santa Clarita Valley site, just north of Los Angeles, served as the setting for Disney films such as the 1957 classic "Old Yeller" and the 2007 feature "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," along with TV shows including "Bonanza," "Charmed," "Little House on the Prairie" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

The new facility will include several sound stages, as well as writers' quarters and other amenities. The company is aiming to complete construction of the site in 2016, the story says.

The project should create $530 million in annual economic gains and new revenue for California, while also boosting job creation, the article notes, citing Supervisor Mike Antonovich.

"Many of the film production companies are now going out of state," Antonovich said. "This is an opportunity to increase film production in Los Angeles County."

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NBC Orders Medical Drama From 'ER' Team

NBC is getting back in business with some of the key players behind the network's long-running medical drama "ER." reports that the network has given a pilot production commitment to "Outbreak," a drama based on the 1995 movie, from former "ER" executive producers John Wells and Jack Orman.

The project marks one of the biggest drama commitments so far this development cycle, the story notes.

"Outbreak," written by Wells and Orman, is a medical thriller about a team trying to contain a deadly virus before it becomes a pandemic, the story reports. The film, directed by Wolfgang Petersen and starring Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo and Morgan Freeman, grossed $190 million on a $50 million budget.

"ER," created by Michael Crichton, ran on NBC from 1994-2009.

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Better Than Last Year? A Look Back at Summer 2013

This summer's television schedule provided some sunny news for cable and broadcast networks, especially after last year's "bummer summer," reports Joe Adalian in New York Magazine.

This summer's TV lineup included the broadcast hit "Under the Dome" on CBS, the return of AMC's "Breaking Bad" and a Shark Week on Discovery that was bigger than ever, Adalian notes.

The summer also had other positives, with Adalian spotlighting 10 high points including ABC Family's "Pretty Little Liars," which he notes is "thriving this summer" by averaging more than 2 million adults 18-49 . That's bigger than even ABC's "Rookie Blue" or CBS's "Unforgettable."

Also among Adalian's highlights is Syfy's "Sharknado." Even though it first appeared as if its social-media cachet would outpace its ratings, the TV movie picked up viewers on repeats, and even got people to pay to see it in a movie theater.

"Throw in the massive social media chatter about the show, and the nearly as massive news media coverage of said online chatter, and 'Sharknado' has to be considered one of summer TV's biggest hits," Adalian writes.

Another high point was Netflix's "Orange Is the New Black," although Adalian notes that there's "no quantifiable way to measure how many people are watching the show."

Adalian adds: "But 'Orange' is a winner because, without any huge stars or much advance publicity, it has easily become the most buzzed-about new series to debut this summer (and yes, we're counting 'Under the Dome')."

What about the losers? Adalian cites the USA-TNT "drama factories," with the networks "finding it harder to score out-of-the-box hits." Another loser was Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance," which has lost one-quarter of its audience from 2012.

FX's "Wilfred" also places among the losers, with its ratings plunging to just 371,000 viewers under 50, about half of the number who tuned in last summer.

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Alec Baldwin Involved in Fight With Photographer

"30 Rock" actor Alec Baldwin has gotten into another fight with a photographer, according to a report by Both parties decided to walk away from the altercation without pursuing charges, the website reports.

Accounts varied about who was the aggressor in the incident on a New York sidewalk, the story notes. A rep for NYPD reportedly said both parties admitted being involved in pushing and shoving each other.

The photographer, who doesn't work for TMZ, told the site that he was asking Baldwin "normal questions and he flipped. That's all."

The photographer called the police, while Baldwin's wife Hilaria ducked into a nearby store, the piece adds. Baldwin reportedly also called police.

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'Walking Dead' Actor to Play Lead in New AMC Drama -- Will He Remain With 'Dead'?

An actor from the hit AMC zombie drama "The Walking Dead," has been cast by the cable network in a new drama project. reports that David Morrissey, who plays the Governor on the zombie show, has been cast as the lead in the pilot "Line of Sight," about a National Transportation Safety Board investigator who is a survivor of a mysterious plane crash.

Fans of "The Walking Dead" may be reassured to learn that Morrissey will be able to work on both projects, given that they share Atlanta as their location.

"We are huge fans of David Morrissey and are glad he’ll be doing double duty for AMC viewers through his work on 'The Walking Dead' and our pilot for 'Line Of Sight,' both of which are produced in Atlanta,” the network said in a statement.

But Deadline adds: "However, as it is with all characters on the zombie drama with extraordinarily high body count, the Governor’s future beyond Season 4 is uncertain, and Morrissey’s casting as the lead of another AMC show will certainly fuel further speculation that the Governor may be facing his demise."

David Morrissey

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Good News for 'Breaking Amish' Fans

TLC is upping its order for "Breaking Amish." The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the cable channel added two installments to its order for "Breaking Amish: L.A.," including a reunion special for the reality show.

The series, which tracks seven young Amish and Mennonite men and women as they live together in Los Angeles and decide whether to abandon their traditional culture, has averaged about 1.8 million total viewers.

The order will bring the series to 11 installments, as well as the reunion special. The extra episodes will air consecutively on Sunday, Sept. 29, at 9 p.m. and will serve as the show's season finale, the story says.

The special is called "Breaking Amish: L.A. -- The Shunning Truth," and features NBC's Michelle Beadle as the host.

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Bravo Reality Show to Set Sail on a Second Season

Bravo has renewed a docu-series after the show ended its first season with strong ratings. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the cable channel will bring back "Below Deck" for season two.

The yachting show ended its first season on Monday with its highest ratings in all key demos, including 1.8 million total viewers and 966,000 adults 18-49, the story reports.

Bravo's Andy Cohen will host a reunion show with the crew that will air Sept. 2 at 10 p.m. Additionally, a special featuring unaired footage from season one will air Sept. 9.

The show tracks crew members working on the Honor, a 164-foot yacht.


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FCC Getting Involved in CBS-Time Warner Cable Dispute

The Federal Communications Commission is working on resolving the dispute between CBS and Time Warner Cable, which has led to a blackout of CBS stations for more than 3 million viewers, reports Bloomberg.

"The commission is engaged at the highest levels with the respective parties and working to bring the impasse to an end,” a spokesman told Bloomberg in a statement. "We urge all parties to resolve this matter as quickly as possible so consumers can access the programming they rely on and are paying for.”

The statement didn't provide details on the FCC's efforts, although the agency's acting chairwoman, Mignon Clyburn, has said that the panel doesn't have the power to intervene, the story notes.

The blackout started Aug. 2 and includes CBS stations in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas, along with other markets.

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ABC, CBS and NBC Join Cable Nets Today in Broadcasting Obama's Speech Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King's Famous 'I Have a Dream' Speech. Plus, CNN and MSNBC Will Re-Broadcast King's Original Speech Today. And You Can See It Now

"ABC, CBS and NBC will interrupt regularly scheduled programming [today] to join the cable news networks in carrying live President Obama’s remarks on the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, at which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous 'I Have A Dream' speech,' reports

The story notes that broadcast network coverage should start at about 11:40 a.m. Paciific time (2:40 p.m. Eastern time).

The article adds: "CNN and MSNBC say they will telecast King’s 1963 speech in its entirety. CNN says it will run sometime after 9 a.m. Pacific time (noon Eastern time); MSNBC says it will run the speech at approximately 1 p.m. Pacific time (4 p.m. Eastern time), after President Obama’s remarks." MSNBC will also show the speech, with limited commercials, at 5 p.m. Pacific time (8 p.m. Eastern time), the story notes.

Here is a video of King's entire "I Have a Dream" speech. The video is just under 17 minutes long:

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OMG, Was Woody Allen Right in 'Sleeper' That We Should Really All Be on a Diet of Hot Fudge Sundaes? Well, Not Quite, But Check Out This Non-TV Story About the Health Benefits of Hot Chocolate. It's a Harvard Study!

"Hot chocolate helps older people 'keep brain healthy,'" The Huffington Post reported several weeks ago (and somehow we missed it then).

"Two cups of cocoa a day boosted blood flow to the brain and improved the memories of volunteers with narrowed arteries," the article reported. "The study involved 60 people with an average age of 73 who were not suffering from dementia."

The story continued: "Only the 18 members of the group who had impaired blood flow benefited from drinking hot chocolate. After a month, they experienced an 8.3% improvement in flow to working areas of the brain. Test scores of their working memory also improved, with recall times falling from an average of 167 seconds to 116 seconds."

The story noted, "Dr Farzaneh Sorond, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, who led the study reported online in the journal Neurology, said ... "As different areas of the brain need more energy to complete their tasks, they also need greater blood flow. This relationship, called neurovascular coupling, may play an important role in diseases such as Alzheimer's."

The article added, "Dr Paul Rosenberg, from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, US, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study, said: 'More work is needed to prove a link between cocoa, blood flow problems and cognitive decline. But this is an important first step that could guide future studies.'"

We here at TVWeek are stiill looking for any scientific proof that KitKat bars are better for you than lima beans. When we find something we'll let you know ...

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NBC Commits to Immaculate Conception Drama

NBC is moving forward with a project described as a supernatural mystery drama about a large-scale immaculate conception. reports that the network has given a put pilot commitment to "Conception," from producer David Janollari and "Eagle Eye" writer John Glenn.

"The project hails from Universal Television where Glenn’s and Janollari’s companies, John Glenn Entertainment and David Janollari Entertainment, are both based, and marks a rare put pilot commitment for NBC’s sibling studio," the story reports. "Co-written by Glenn and Lars Jacobson, 'Conception' tracks a modern-day immaculate conception on a large scale. The show follows those few children that survived and how they’re destined to change the world."

Glenn and Janollari are executive producing, the piece notes.

The report adds: "This is Janollari’s third sale to NBC in his first development season at Uni TV, adding to comedies 'Gifted' from writer David Bickel and a romantic half-hour from writer Paul Ruehl. Glenn wrote two drama projects for NBC last season, the modern-day 'Hatfields & McCoys,' which went to pilot, and 'Lost Horizon' with M. Night Shyamalan, which had a put pilot commitment."

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Another Advocacy Group Piles On Miley Cyrus Over Twerking Performance -- and You Won't Believe Who This One Is Advocating For

The fallout continues from Miley Cyrus' rump-twirling act at MTV's Video Music Awards, with the latest group to join the feeding frenzy being an advocacy group for ... teddy bears. reports that the Teddy Bear Fund, which gives out stuffed animals at abuse shelters, is upset about the performance, which featured a variety of large teddy bears.

A rep for the group told the website: "Miley made a poor choice to use a universally loved children's teddy bear in an offensive way."

TMZ notes: "Miley's been under fire ever since she bumped, grinded and twerked her crotch through an army of seemingly drugged out teddy bears during her VMA performance."

The teddy bear group's rep added: "There is always good art and bad art -- unfortunately ... this was bad art. Hopefully she might consider reversing this situation by giving lots of teddy bears to children in need of comfort."

miley-cyrus-and-teddy-bears-VMAs.jpgMiley Cyrus and teddy bears at the VMAs

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'Girls Gone Wild' Founder Sentenced to Jail

The founder of the racy "Girls Gone Wild" video franchise received a jail sentence today in connection with an incident that took place at his Hollywood home in 2011. reports that Joe Francis was ordered to serve at least 270 days for attacking a woman at the mansion.

"According to our count, Joe has been ordered to serve at least 270 days in county jail," TMZ reports. "He's also been sentenced to 36 months probation and has been ordered to complete a Level 3 Anger Management course.

"He's also been ordered to complete 1 year of psychological counseling at a rate of 1 session per week."

Francis had demanded a retrial after being convicted on five charges -- assault, three counts of false imprisonment and one count of dissuading a witness from reporting, TMZ says. But the retrial request was shot down during today's court proceedings.

"Three women had accused Joe of taking them to his Hollywood home -- following a night out -- and refusing to let them leave," the TMZ report notes. "He was also accused of attacking one of the women, choke-slamming her head into his tile floor."

The report adds: "During the sentencing, the judge expressed serious concerns with Joe's explosive temper -- and warned that it could get him in trouble in the future unless he learns how to keep his cool."

joe-francis.jpgJoe Francis

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Fox Sports Names New EVP, Marketing

Fox Sports has announced the appointment of a new executive vice president, marketing. The company promoted Robert Gottlieb, senior VP and head of marketing, to the post.

Gottlieb, who was in his previous position since February, is credited with developing and orchestrating the expansive launch campaign for Fox Sports 1.

Announcing the promotion were Fox Sports Co-Presidents and COOs Randy Freer and Eric Shanks, to whom Gottlieb reports.

"In this new role, Gottlieb is responsible for all aspects of Fox Sports’ on-air, off-air and consumer marketing efforts including television, print, online, radio and outdoor creative for Fox Sports; Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2, America’s new sports networks; Fox Deportes; and Fox Sports Digital assets," the company said in its announcement.

Said Freer: “We appointed Robert head of marketing with every confidence that he would maintain the high level of creative excellence that has been a Fox Sports trademark since 1994, elevating our linear and digital assets to new heights. Clearly, he has exceeded our expectations. The marketing campaign for the launch of Fox Sports 1 Robert developed and implemented with his team over the last several months was nothing short of brilliant, helping establish a clear brand identity in a very crowded marketplace.”

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NBC Show Hits Season High; CBS Series Wins the Night

An NBC series hit a season high Monday night in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights, but it was a CBS series that won the night. reports that NBC's "American Ninja Warrior" rose two-tenths of a ratings point from a week ago to a 1.7 average in viewers 18-49, the show's best number of the season. CBS's "Under the Dome," meanwhile, ticked up one-tenth from a week ago to a 2.5, keying a win by CBS for prime time overall.

CBS filled up the other two hours of prime time with comedy reruns. NBC aired fresh installments of "Get Out Alive With Bear Grylls" (up two-tenths from last week's series low to a 1.3 average in 18-49) and "Siberia" (0.7 average, matching last week).

ABC's only fresh program was "Mistresses," which rose one-tenth from last week's series low to a 1.0 in the 18-49 demo.

Fox aired an all-repeat lineup.

For prime time overall, CBS led the broadcast networks with a 1.7 average in adults 18-49, followed by Univision (1.4 average), NBC (1.2), ABC (0.9) and Fox (0.8). CBS came in well ahead of the pack in total viewers, averaging 6.8 million to lead NBC (3.9 million), ABC (3.7 million), Univision (3.7 million) and Fox (1.9 million).

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Veteran CBS News Correspondent Dies

A longtime correspondent for CBS News, known for an award-winning report in 1975, has died. reports that Bruce Dunning died at a Manhattan hospital from injuries suffered in a fall. He was 73.

Dunning, who retired in 2004, was known for his award-winning report in 1975 from a World Airways jet during a refugee rescue in South Vietnam. The report, aired during the waning days of the Vietnam War, was broadcast on the "CBS Evening News" Saturday edition, with Dan Rather anchoring.

Dunning joined CBS News in July 1969, and joined its Saigon bureau in 1970. In 1972, he moved to the Tokyo bureau, where he covered Asia and became one of the first journalists to report from North Korea.

He became the assistant bureau manager for CBS News Miami in 1983, covering Latin America and the Southeast of the U.S.

bruce-dunning.jpgBruce Dunning

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CBS Rebooting 1970s Series

CBS is developing an updated version of a 1970s television series. reports that the network has a reboot of the comedy anthology "Love, American Style" in the works.

The new version won't keep the anthology format, which has proved a tough sell -- one example being NBC's experience with "Love Bites," the story says.

Instead, the new "Love, American Style" will track four couples who are connected through their complicated relationships.

The original series ran on ABC for five seasons, and there have been several stabs at reviving the show, including an ABC pilot starring Melissa Joan Hart that aired in 1999.

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Report: Bryan Cranston Lands a High-Profile Post-'Breaking Bad' Gig -- and It's a Role That Will Take Him Even Deeper Into the Dark Side

It's being reported that Bryan Cranston has been cast in a high-profile role where the actor will further explore the dark side he has mined on AMC's "Breaking Bad." According to Cosmic Book News, Cranston will play Lex Luthor in the feature film sequel to "Man of Steel."

The movie has been keeping in the news with casting announcements including Ben Affleck as Batman and Henry Cavill as Superman.

"Bryan Cranston has been cast as Lex Luthor in what is said to be at least a six 'appearance' deal (think of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury popping up in every Marvel movie in the run-up to 'Avengers') and may be as high as ten," the story reports. "Look for the official announcement to follow the conclusion to the final season of 'Breaking Bad' as WB wants to dovetail off the end of that."

The report notes that Affleck "allegedly" has a 13-appearance deal for "Batman."

"DC is going to have all of their main characters liberally appearing or at least mentioned in all of their movies to portray a more connected world than what Marvel Studios has done so far," the story reports. "DC also does have major interest in bringing Matt Damon into the Justice League now that Affleck is on board, and it is rumored that he is being considered for Aquaman or Martian Manhunter."

Thumbnail image for bryan-cranston-walter-white.jpegBryan Cranston

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Miley Cyrus' VMA Performance Draws a Predictable Rebuke From Media Watchdog Group -- But There's a Twist

The Parents Television Council is known for criticizing shows that offer explicit content, so it's not surprising that the group condemned Miley Cyrus' performance at MTV's Video Music Awards. But there's another reason to take notice of the complaint, reports The New York Times' Arts Beat.

Cyrus' father, Billy Ray Cyrus, is on the group's advisory board, the article points out.

Billy Ray Cyrus didn't respond to requests for comment, but the country singer did write on Twitter what may be interpreted as a response to the mixed reaction to his daughter's rump-shaking performance. "Thanking God for so many blessings tonight. Continue to pray for world peace. More love … less hate," he wrote.

While the MTV program was rated TV-14, meaning that the show would contain material inappropriate for kids under 14, the PTC argued that the network should have warned parents about allowing 14-year-olds to watch it without supervision, the story adds.

“MTV continues to sexually exploit young women by promoting acts that incorporate ‘twerking’ in a nude-colored bikini. How is this image of former child star Miley Cyrus appropriate for 14-year-olds?” PTC spokesman Dan Isett said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for MTV said the network didn't have comment on the criticism.

miley-cyrus-on-VMAs.pngMiley Cyrus on the VMAs

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Kate Gosselin Files Federal Lawsuit Against Her Ex-Husband and Former Reality Co-Star

Kate Gosselin, the former reality star of shows such as TLC's "Jon & Kate Plus 8," has accused her ex-husband in a lawsuit of hacking into her computer and phone to get information for a tell-all book, reports the Associated Press.

The federal lawsuit alleges that Jon Gosselin tapped in to her bank accounts, email and other private data to gather material for a book called "Kate Gosselin: How She Fooled the World."

The 2012 book was pulled from the market after two days, the lawsuit alleges, because it included illegally obtained information.

"Jon violated a federal anti-hacking statute in order to publish salacious, scandalous and defamatory information about Kate," A. Jordan Rushie, Kate Gosselin's attorney, said, adding: "It's damaged her reputation."

An attorney who had represented Jon Gosselin in the past didn't immediately return a message, while the book's writer, also named as a defendant, didn't return a request for comment.

kate-gosselin.pngKate Gosselin

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Fey-Poehler at the Golden Globes, Part 2? It's in the Works

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have been approached about returning to host the Golden Globes, after their previous hosting gig drew almost 20 million viewers and rave reviews, reports Nellie Andreeva at

"I hear there are no active conversations between the network and the funny ladies who have received an informal invitation versus a formal offer as NBC and [Dick Clark Productions] are looking to gauge their interest," Andreeva writes.

Both actresses are busy, with Fey in the first year of a four-year deal at Universal TV, under which she has already sold two comedy projects. Poehler is the star and producer of NBC's "Parks and Recreation."

Andreeva adds: "But unlike the Oscars, which are a massive undertaking requiring about three months of prep work for the host(s), the Golden Globes are not as labor intensive for the hosts, who don’t have as big a role on the free-wheeling show."

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Fox News Sets Debut for New Show to Be Hosted by Longtime CNN Journalist

Fox News has set a premiere date for a new show, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The publication reports that the cable channel will roll out Howard Kurtz' new show "MediaBuzz" on Sunday, Sept. 8, at 11 a.m. ET.

The former CNN commentator will host a live one-hour weekend program that "will focus on the state of the news media in addition to the media's shaping of current events and their role in politics while also featuring interviews with leading journalists and commentators," the network said.

Kurtz recently came under fire for a Daily Beast article in which he suggested NBA player Jason Collins had failed to mention he was previously engaged to a women when he disclosed he was gay in a Sports Illustrated story. In fact, Collins had mentioned the engagement, and the backlash caused Kurtz to leave his role at The Daily Beast, the story notes.

His last appearance on CNN was on June 30. He had hosted "Reliable Sources" on the network since 1998.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for howard-kurtz.jpgHoward Kurtz

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Cable Series Gets a Post-Program Talk Show, Emulating Forerunners 'Breaking Bad' and 'Walking Dead'

Mining what is turning out to be fertile cable terrain pioneered by AMC's "The Walking Dead" and "Breaking Bad," an FX series will now have its own post-program talk show.'s Inside TV reports that FX's "Sons of Anarchy" is the latest series to get a complementary talk show, in which the events of each episode will be discussed. FX has picked up three episodes of the post-show program, which will air online.

The show will stream on the network's website after the drama airs on the East Coast, the story says. The after-show will be hosted by Chris Franjola of "Chelsea Lately."

The report notes: "On Twitter, creator Kurt Sutter confirmed the show will follow a similar format to the AMC after-shows, with 'cast members, celebrity superfan and me' appearing."

The three after-show episodes are scheduled to accompany the season 6 premiere (set for Sept. 10), the season's fifth episode and the season finale.

AMC's "The Walking Dead" has the companion show "Talking Dead," while "Breaking Bad" has "Talking Bad."

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'Fringe' Star Joins Showtime Drama

One of the stars of Fox's "Fringe" has joined a drama project at Showtime. reports that the Showtime pilot "The Affair" added Joshua Jackson, who played Peter Bishop on the Fox science-fiction drama.

"The Affair" is about two marriages and an affair that shakes them, as it tracks the consequences from the infidelity, the story says. Dominic West will play a father of four who has an affair with Allison, who is married to Cole, a cowboy played by Jackson.

The cult favorite "Fringe" ended its five-year run earlier this year.

joshua-jackson.pngJoshua Jackson

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CNN's 'New Day': Obama Caps Week of Big Interviews, Little Ratings

CNN's morning show "New Day" ended a week of high-profile interviews with Chris Cuomo interviewing President Barack Obama, but the sitdown failed to translate into big ratings, reports

The CNN show was third in total viewers (280,000) and in the 25-54 demographic (91,000), the story reports.

Still, the show beat its performance from a week earlier, the report adds. "Compared to the same day last week, 'New Day' was up +9% in Total Viewers and down -11% in A25-54 viewers on Friday. Ratings peaked during the 8am ET hour, when the largest chunk of the interview aired, with 323,000 Total Viewers and 101,000 A25-54 viewers," the story notes.

Other big interviews for the show during the week included Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Prince William.

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Antenna Sales Are Booming in Blackout Markets

Sales of HD antennas and other related products are booming in cities where CBS is blacked out to Time Warner Cable customers, according to a B&C story citing a report by Radio Shack.

"Purchases of HD antennas and related products are up double digits compared to prior weeks in Dallas, New York and Los Angeles," a spokeswoman for the retailer told B&C in an email.

Viewers in those markets who subscribe to Time Warner Cable aren't able to watch their local CBS station, which was blacked out starting Aug. 2.

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Turnout for MTV's Video Music Awards Falls Short of the Record

While Miley Cyrus' performance on MTV's Video Music Awards attracted a lot of attention, the show was only watched by an estimated 10.1 million people, hardly a ratings record, reports Lisa de Moraes at

"That’s a big step up from last year’s overall audience of 6.1 million but still far short of the 12.4 million who tuned in in 2011 -- or the runner-up 11.95 million crowd of 2002," de Moraes writes.

Sunday's show was watched by 4.6 million in the 12-34 age group, which ranks the show as the No. 1 cable entertainment telecast of the year in that demographic, the report notes.

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In Major Ad Deal, NCC Media Adds Dish Customers to Cable Subscribers NCC Already Reaches

NCC Media and Dish have signed a landmark deal that "will combine ad impressions in over 3 million additional DISH subscriber homes with those of NCC owners Comcast, Cox and Time Warner Cable in 25 of the largest U.S. markets," the two companies have announced.

The announcement continues: "The arrangement crowns a decade-long effort by NCC and its owners to consolidate the advertising reach of all U.S. Multichannel Video Program Distributors (MVPDs), brings DISH to the local advertising market for the first time, and creates a golden opportunity for MVPDs to grow ad revenues together."

The deal is part of NCC's I+ advertising initiative.

The annnouncement adds, "DISH's newly developed targeted ad system will be intergrated with existing local market cable advertisig platforms, called 'interconnects,' greatly increasing an ad campaign's coverage."

Warren Schlichting, Senior VP, ad sales for DISH, said, in part, in a statement: "By gaining access to the country's third-largest pay-TV provider's customers, local and national spot advertisers can now speak with millions of consumers who were simply not accessible before."

Greg Schaefer, NCC's president and CEO, said, in part, in a statement: "This collaboration with DISH was done because it's what the advertising market demanded; to deliver more quality consumer GRPs in cable programming in local markets."

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THR Now Reporting That Dr. Luke Will NOT Be an 'Idol' Judge -- And It's Not Because Most of America Has Never Heard of Him

Just yesterday, on Monday, Aug. 26, 2013, we ran an item from that Dr. Luke was finalizing plans to be a judge on "American Idol."

Here's the latest: In an exclusive story, Shirley Halperin of The Hollywood Reporter writes that Dr. Luke will NOT be a judge on "Idol." And it's not because most of the country has never heard of him.

Says THR, "By joining the Fox show -- and thus developing talent for Universal -- the hit-maker would have run into a snag with Sony Music."

The story adds, "The music giant signed Luke to a lucrative label deal in 2011 (his Kemosabe imprint is home to songwriter-turned-solo artist Bonnie Mckee, rapper Juicy J and pop-urban act Becky G, who herself said at last night's MTV Video Music Awards, 'I think ["Idol"] is going to happen' for Luke, but Sony's competitor, Universal Music Group, holds the exclusive rights to 'American Idol' recordings.

"Allowing Luke to spend months of the year judging and nurturing talent then developing said artists for another label makes little business sense for the company that invested so deeply in his own hit-making power. L.A. Reid faced a similar obstacle when he was in the running for the 'Idol' gig prior to season 10. It was, in fact, what helped lead the veteran executive to Fox's other singing competition, 'X Factor,' which has a recording partnership with Sony. Reid left after two years on the show."

The THR story also notes: "For Luke's part, says an insider close to the situation, the hit-maker came to the realization that the commitment would simply demand too much of his time. 'He really loves his artists and wants to build up the label,' a source tells THR. ... Beyond the label's current projects, 'Luke wants to build an entertainment company' ... after a lot of conversations, both Luke and Sony Music CEO Doug Morris came to the mutual agreement that taking Dr. Luke out of the 'Idol' running 'was the best thing for all parties.'"

So who will join the judges table on 'Idol'? The article speculates: "Among the contenders is Justin Bieber manager Scooter Braun, an eleventh-hour suggestion by [Jennifer] Lopez. The charismatic ex-party promoter and marketing whiz is seemingly open to the idea and has his own label deal with UMG, putting him on the right side of the 'Idol' loyalty fence."

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More Details (Including an Impressive Video) Claiming to Show New Gold iPhone 5S and Blue iPhone 5C

"In a video that hit the Web today, Monday, Aug. 26, 2013, a purported gold colored 'iPhone 5S' and a blue 'iPhone 5C' were stacked against the current iPhone 5, offering a detailed look at how the three compare from a variety of different angles," reports Apple Insider.

The story continues, "While images of Apple's supposed next-generation iPhone casing have been seen before, Monday's video (via AppAdvice) offers a better perspective of the "champagne gold" chassis. Aside from the obvious change in color, it appears that the gold hued iPhone 5S has been fitted with white antenna window inserts that feature a cutout for the rumored dual-LED flash assembly."

The new phones are expected to be introduced next month.

The story adds, "Of course, there’s no way to tell if the parts shown in this video are legitimate, but they definitely line up with previous rumors and leaked photos."

Here's the video:

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Amazon Orders Project From 'X Files' Creator

The creator of "The X Files" is getting back in the game after being away for a while, and his latest project is moving forward at Amazon Studios. reports that Chris Carter received a pilot order for "The After," his project with Georgeville TV.

"Carter wrote and is set to direct the thriller, which takes place at the moment of apocalypse," the story reports. "Georgeville TV, founded by Marc Rosen and Reliance’s Motion Picture Capital, first teamed with Carter for 'The After' last fall when the project was taken to MIPCOM by Sierra/Engine TV."

The report adds: "'The After' joins another Amazon drama pilot, recently ordered 'Bosch,' as the company is looking to launch its first hourlong series. Amazon also has Jill Soloway’s comedy pilot 'Transparent' starring Jefferey Tambor, and football comedy 'The Outlaws,' written by Jeremy Garelick and Jon Weinbach and executive produced by Ice Cube, also is gearing up for a pilot shoot."

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Who's the Longest-Running Late-Night Host in TV History? (Hint: He's Still at It, and He's Coming Up on a Milestone)

The longest-running late-night host in television history is marking a milestone this week, and to celebrate the occasion he's bringing in someone who has been around for a number of his milestones. The host is David Letterman, who's calling on his pal Bill Murray to help him mark 20 years on CBS.

Murray, who kicked things off when CBS's "Late Show with David Letterman" bowed Aug. 30, 1993, returns Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, to help Letterman mark 20 years on the network.

Murray also was a part of Letterman's "Late Night" when it premiered on NBC back in 1982. Letterman's overall record run in late-night stands at 31 years and counting.

CBS reports that Letterman's run on the Tiffany Network has included 3,897 episodes (as of the Aug. 29 installment), along with four prime-time specials. The show has reportedly won nine Emmy Awards, including six as outstanding variety, music or comedy program. It has been nominated for a total of 73 Emmys, CBS reports.

Murray will be making his 26th appearance on the CBS chat show.

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1970s TV Superhero Joins 'Two and a Half Men'

An actress known for playing a superhero on television in the 1970s will be back in prime time as a part of the CBS comedy series "Two and a Half Men." reports that Lynda Carter, known for her role in "Wonder Woman," is joining the sitcom.

Carter will play "a version of herself" in the upcoming season 11, the story reports.

The report adds: "The set-up: Alan (Jon Cryer) has a massive Carter crush going back to her days as an actress on the original 'Wonder Woman' series (1975-79). He gets to meet her in person and, well, you’ll have to tune in to see what happens next. 'Men' is getting an overhaul this fall as Amber Tamblyn joins the show as Charlie’s lesbian daughter, who moves in with Alan and Walden (Ashton Kutcher). The show returns Sept. 26 at 9:30 p.m."

lynda-carter.pngLynda Carter

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TV Adaptation of Terry Gilliam Movie Moves Forward at Syfy

Syfy is moving forward with a project it has had in development to adapt a Terry Gilliam feature film. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the cable channel ordered a pilot for "12 Monkeys."

At one point the channel was considering a straight-to-series order for the project, the report notes.

Gilliam's 1995 post-apocalyptic time travel movie starred Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe and Brad Pitt. It was inspired by the 1962 short film "La Jetee" by Chris Marker.

"Feature film producers Charles Roven and Richard Suckle of Atlas Entertainment -- one of the production companies on board the Universal film -- submitted the pitch and will executive produce the hourlong pilot," THR reports. "Terry Matalas ('Nikita,' 'Terra Nova,' 'Star Trek: Enterprise') and Travis Fickett ('Nikita,' 'Terra Nova') will pen the script for the Universal Cable Productions venture. Production will begin in November."

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'Cops' Ready to Bow at Its New Cable Home -- Here's a First-Look Video Ahead of the Season 26 Premiere

The long-running show "Cops" is about to roll out its 26th season on television after moving to a new home on cable. The show's Spike TV premiere is set for Saturday, Sept. 14.

The series bowed in March 1989 and has aired more than 900 episodes, tracking law-enforcement activities in 140 U.S. cities and in Hong Kong, London and the former Soviet Union.

On tap for the Spike premiere are ride-alongs in Stockton, Calif., Sarasota County, Fla., and Amarillo, Texas.

Here's a first-look video:

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'American Idol' Putting Finishing Touches on Deal With Its Newest Judge

Fox's "American Idol" is close to locking in its third judge for the upcoming season. Writing on, Nellie Andreeva reports that the singing competition is closing in on a deal with producer-songwriter Dr. Luke.

"When Dr. Luke's name first surfaced as a leading contender for a judge gig on 'Idol,' the news prompted headlines like, 'Dr. Who?'" Andreeva writes.

But many people are undoubtedly familiar with Dr. Luke's work, which includes Kei$ha’s “Tik Tok,” Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” and “I Kissed a Girl” and Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite." He also started his career as lead guitarist for the house band on "Saturday Night Live," which might make his face familiar to some, she notes.

"And with Dr. Luke’s hire 'Idol' is going back to its roots, betting on a unknown to the public top music producer as a judge -- just as it did with Simon Cowell in 2002," Andreeva writes.

Dr. Luke is expected to join the panel that also includes Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez. Meanwhile, Randy Jackson continues talks to return to the show as in-house mentor, replacing Jimmy Iovine.

dr-luke.jpgDr. Luke

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TV Land Cancels Series

TV Land has made the decision to cancel a series. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the cable channel is divorcing itself from the Fran Drescher comedy "Happily Divorced" after two seasons.

The comedy starred Drescher as a woman who starts dating again after her husband reveals that he's gay. While the semi-autobiographical story debuted with 2.4 million total viewers in June 2011, it ended its second season with about 1 million viewers in February.

TV Land is preparing a new comedy starring Kirstie Alley and is working on scripted pilots for "Jennifer Falls" with Jaime Pressly and "Younger" from Darren Star, the story notes.

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'Breaking Bad' Actress Says Fans Expressed 'Homicidal Rage' Over Her Character

A "Breaking Bad" actress writes in The New York Times about her experience performing on the hit AMC show, noting that her strong-willed character is disliked by many fans and even inspired "homicidal rage at the actress playing her."

Anna Gunn, who appears on the show as Skyler White, writes that "people transferred their negative feelings directly to me. The already harsh online comments became outright personal attacks. One such post read: 'Could somebody tell me where I can find Anna Gunn so I can kill her?'" Gunn notes that she took steps to increase her safety after the threat.

Gunn says that the dislike inspired by Skyler -- a strong woman who stands up to her husband as he spirals into making and selling meth -- is partly due to her role as her husband's antagonist.

"But I was unprepared for the vitriolic response she inspired," she adds.

"Vince Gilligan, the creator of 'Breaking Bad,' wanted Skyler to be a woman with a backbone of steel who would stand up to whatever came her way, who wouldn’t just collapse in the corner or wring her hands in despair," she notes.

She continues that she realized "most people’s hatred of Skyler had little to do with me and a lot to do with their own perception of women and wives. Because Skyler didn’t conform to a comfortable ideal of the archetypical female, she had become a kind of Rorschach test for society, a measure of our attitudes toward gender.

"I can’t say that I have enjoyed being the center of the storm of Skyler hate. But in the end, I’m glad that this discussion has happened, that it has taken place in public and that it has illuminated some of the dark and murky corners that we often ignore or pretend aren’t still there in our everyday lives," she writes.

anna-gunn.jpgAnna Gunn

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'Daily Show' Correspondent Joins Fox Comedy

A correspondent for Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" has landed a role on a Fox comedy series. reports that Aasif Mandvi is joining the new sitcom "Us and Them."

Mandvi will play a recurring role as Dave Coaches, the ex of the best friend of the show's main character Stacey, who is played by Alexis Bledel. Coaches is also the security guard roadie for the Dave Matthews Band, the story adds.

The show has also upgraded Michael Ian Black to a regular, after he appeared as a guest star in the pilot.

aasif-mandvi.pngAasif Mandvi

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Paula Deen Settles Lawsuit That Brought Down Her Empire

Celebrity chef Paula Deen has settled the lawsuit that wrecked her business empire after she admitted in a deposition that she had used racial epithets, reports Bloomberg Businessweek.

"The terms of the settlement were not disclosed; the one-sentence statement filed in U.S. District Court in Savannah announced only that all parties had agreed to dismiss the case," the story notes.

Deen said in a statement released Friday that she's "working to review the workplace environment issues that were raised in this matter and retool all of my business operations," although she didn't admit wrongdoing.

The lawsuit was filed in 2012 by a former Deen employee, Lisa Jackson, a white woman who worked for several years at a restaurant owned by Deen and her brother. A judge earlier this month dismissed the race claims in the case.

The piece notes: "That ruling came too late to spare Deen from questions about her racial attitudes in sworn depositions. Excerpts of those depositions made national headlines, and Deen struggled to explain herself in video apologies and an appearance on the 'Today' show."

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CNN Fixture Has a Strain of Marijuana Named After Him

Marijuana aficionados took notice of a change of heart by a popular CNN correspondent. Business Insider reports that the cable network's medical guru Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who is now supporting medical use of marijuana, has had a strain of pot named after him.

Helping Hands Herbals Dispensary in Boulder, Colo., released a marijuana strain called Sanjay Gupta Kush, which the site describes as a "modified indica with roots originating from southeast Asia."

As previously reported, Gupta changed his mind about his opposition to legalizing marijuana for medical use after working on a documentary for CNN called "Weed."

"We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that," he wrote in an essay.

sanjay-gupta.pngDr. Sanjay Gupta

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Donald Trump Sued for $40 Million

Donald Trump has been hit with a $40 million lawsuit by the state of New York, with the state's attorney general filing the suit against the businessman and his for-profit investment school, reports Reuters.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is alleging that Trump and his school engaged in illegal business practices, such as making false claims about classes at the school, the story says.

"No one, no matter how rich or popular they are, has a right to scam hard-working New Yorkers," Schneiderman said in a statement.

The Trump Entrepreneur Institute allegedly operated without an educational license from 2005 to 2011, the lawsuit claims. It also allegedly misled consumers about courses that claimed to teach Trump's investment techniques for real estate, the story says.

The lawsuit alleges that more than 5,000 people enrolled, with tuition payments of $40 million. The state is seeking restitution of that amount, along with disgorgement of profits, penalties and an injunction.

An attorney for Trump didn't immediately return requests for comment, Reuters reports. But after the lawsuit was disclosed, Trump wrote on Twitter, "Lightweight NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is trying to extort me with a civil law suit."

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NBC Orders Ryan Seacrest Comedy Project That Started Out at ABC

Ryan Seacrest has sold a comedy to NBC that was originally developed for ABC in 2001, about a female daytime talk producer who deals with love and life in New York City, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

The project was originally written by the late Judy Toll of "Sex and the City" and Cynthia Greenberg. Toll, who died at the age of 44 in 2002 after a battle with melanoma, was a Groundlings alum who often featured her own search for romance in her work, the story says.

The project, "Me and My Needs," was produced as a pilot for ABC in 2001, with Greenberg and Toll executive producing with Gene Stein and Nina Wass.

"Sources tell THR that Wass and Stein decided to revive 'Me and My Needs' as a way to honor Toll's memory after initially balking at the idea when a network executive approached them about it a few years ago," the story notes.

"NBC's take -- which has received the blessing and support of Toll's family -- will see its central character be more focused on Toll's unique brand of comedy rather than the heavy workplace emphasis of the 2001 pilot," the piece adds.

Wass, who is now executive vice president of programming at Ryan Seacrest Productions, will executive produce the new version of the project, the story notes. Also executive producing will be Seacrest, among others.

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'Buffy' Actor Joins NBC's 'Grimm'

An actor from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is joining the upcoming season of NBC's "Grimm."'s Inside TV reports that Alexis Denisof has been cast on the show on a recurring basis.

Denisof, who also starred on the "Buffy" spinoff "Angel," will play Viktor Albert Wilhelm George Beckendorf, the first cousin of Eric Renard, who is played by James Frain.

The casting reunites Denisof with "Angel" co-creator David Greenwalt, who co-created the NBC supernatural drama. The next season of "Grimm" starts Oct. 25.

alexis-denisof.pngAlexis Denisof

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Kardashian-West Baby Photo Helped Score a Ratings Bump for 'Kris'

Kanye West's appearance on "Kris," where he shared the first photo of his baby with Kim Kardashian, helped boost the finale ratings for the Kris Jenner-hosted talk show, reports

The interview scored a series-high 1.7 household rating and performed well in Los Angeles and Dallas, where it ranked No. 1 in its time period, the story notes.

"But for the syndicated talk show’s entire six-week run on selected Fox stations, 'Kris' didn’t make a splash and came out just about even (0.8 in HH metered markets) with last year’s time period and with its lead-in," the piece points out.

Jenner is the mother of Kim Kardashian and the grandmother of the baby, North West.

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Super Bowl Ad Time Close to Selling Out

Advertising time on the Super Bowl is already 85% sold out, with 90% projected to be sold by the time the NFL season starts next month, reports USA Today, citing Fox Sports.

Fox isn't saying what it's getting for the commercial time, although the article notes that some 30-second spots are selling for more than $4 million. CBS took in an average of $3.8 million for the 2013 game.

"It's selling the way the No. 1 show on TV should sell," Fox Sports Executive Vice President Neil Mulcahy told the publication. "We're seeing more and more dollars come to sports -- particularly live sports."

The strongest ad category is autos, although Mulcahy declined to name specific marketers. He added: "Most of the folks from last year's game are back, though one or two will not be there." A few new advertisers will also appear, he said.

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Why 'The Hobbit' Director Peter Jackson Won't Be Directing 'Doctor Who'

Rumors that "The Hobbit" director Peter Jackson would be taking on an episode of "Doctor Who" spread around the Internet over the weekend, but the story has no truth to it, reports Mike Fleming Jr. at

"I can tell you with 100% certainty that there are no plans for Jackson to do any such thing," Fleming writes.

The rumor started because Jackson, a huge fan of the series, has an open-ended invitation to helm an episode of the cult sci-fi series, but discussions haven't moved beyond that, Fleming writes.

"The director is completely engrossed in the second and third installments of 'The Hobbit' trilogy, and he will not be emerging from Middle Earth for the better part of two years," the story notes.

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Talk Around the Water Cooler: A Well-Known Media Agency Veteran Is Leaving Giant Group M to Join Small Agency Holding Group That Includes Media Storm and 3 Other Agencies

"A well-known senior Madison Avenue [media] executive ... is leaving the biggest agency holding group for one that, if not the smallest, is certainly the newest." writes our good friend Stuart Elliott in The New York Times.

The executive in question is Antony Young.

Writes Elliott: "Mr. Young is becoming president of the Water Cooler Group, which is being formed to be the parent of four agencies -- Bolt, Hip Genius, Maude and Media Storm -- that specialize in tasks like media planning and buying, social media, creative and content development and interactive television. Clients of the agencies in the new holding group include Connecticut Tourism, Food Network, Fox Sports 1, FX, Major League Soccer, MLB Network, MTV, Open Road Films, TV One, Viggle and WE tv.

"Before joining the Water Cooler Group, Mr. Young held top posts at Mindshare, a media agency owned by the GroupM division of WPP, which is the world’s largest family of agencies -- at least until the completion of the merger, announced last month, of the Omnicom Group and the Publicis Groupe to form the Publicis Omnicom Group. Before his work at Mindshare, Mr. Young held a top post at Optimedia, part of the ZenithOptimedia Group division of Publicis.

The story adds: "'What Mindshare and GroupM are doing is some of the best work in the marketplace,' Mr. Young said. 'But there are clients -- and, frankly, agency people -- who are looking for something different, an alternative,' he added, particularly on a smaller scale than the giant media agencies that keep 'getting bigger.'"

Young is considered one of the media executives who focus on brand strategy. In fact, several years ago, partially under the auspices of our sibling publication Advertising Age, Young wrote a book called "Brand Media Strategy."

To read more details about the Water Cooler Group, we urge you to click on the link in our first paragraph, above, and read Elliott's quite thorough article.

antony young.jpgAntony Young

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Holy Jiminy Cricket! You Have Got to See This! Miley Cyrus' Booty Shaking at VMAs Shows She's Not in Disney's Land Anymore. Also, See the Shocked Reaction From Will Smith and His Family

Reaction of Will Smith and his family watching Miley Cyrus perform at Sunday night's MTV Video Music Awards -- this photo went viral:

Will Smith and fmily watching Miley Cyrus at VMAs 2013.jpgAnd here's the main event: Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke:

Some tweeted reaction, as found in USA Today:

"Country star Josh Gracin tweeted: 'Thanks Miley Cyrus. Now I have to explain to my 11 yr old daughter why she no longer can follow your career.'

"And 'Dancing With the Stars'/'Bachelor' alum Melissa Rycroft tweeted: 'I think I'm too old to appreciate the (ahem) new Miley Cyrus....feeling slightly violated...#VMA' "

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She Was Indisputably One of the Greatest Actresses of Her Generation. She Won Multiple Tonys and Emmys and We Can Think of At Least Two Oscars That She Should Have Won. Julie Harris Dies at 87

"Julie Harris, 87, the unprepossessing anti-diva who, in the guises of Joan of Arc, Mary Todd Lincoln, Emily Dickinson and many other characters both fictional and real, became the most decorated performer in the history of Broadway, died on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, at her home in Chatham, Mass," writes Bruce Weber in an obituary in The New York Times.

The cause of death was congestive heart failure.

The Times says: "Perhaps more than any other performer of her era and her elevated stature, she owed her stardom and reputation to the stage. Sometimes called the first lady of the American theater, she made her first Broadway appearance while she was still in college, and over the next half century-plus earned 10 Tony nominations, more than any other performer."

She won Tony Awards for her stage performances in "I Am a Camera" (1952), "The Lark" (1956), "Forty Carats" (1969), "The Last of Mrs. Lincoln" (1973) and "The Belle of Amherst" (1977). Her LP of the latter brought her a Grammy for best spoken-word recording. 

She also won a sixth Tony Award for lifetime achievement. No other performer has six Tonys.

Her Emmy-winning tally is three, two for her performances in "Hallmark Hall of Fame" dramas -- "Little Moon of Alban"  and "Victoria Regina." Her third Emmy was for a voice-over performance as Susan B. Anthony.

Weber writes in The Times, "Ms. Harris made herself known in 1950 as a 24-year-old playing a 12-year-old, the loquacious, motherless, fiercely self-tormenting Frankie Addams, in Carson McCullers’ adaptation of her own novel, 'The Member of the Wedding.' With her hair cut tomboy short, she spent virtually all of the play onstage, dreaming aloud, remonstrating with the sage family cook Berenice (played by Ethel Waters), hectoring her young cousin John Henry (Brandon De Wilde) and berating herself with the incessant needy bleat of loneliness. It required a huge effort, and Ms. Harris received the kind of notices that can -- and in this case did -- propel a career.

“'In the long, immensely complicated part of the adolescent girl, Julie Harris, a very gifted young actress, gives an extraordinary performance -- vibrant, full of anguish and elation by turns, rumpled, unstable, egotistic and unconsciously cruel,' Brooks Atkinson wrote in The New York Times.

"She reprised the role of Frankie in the 1952 film, directed by Fred Zinneman, before returning to Broadway that year in a role that couldn’t be more different, in 'I Am a Camera,' as the first Broadway incarnation of Isherwood’s bawdy, bohemian nightclub singer Sally Bowles [later made famous by Liza Minnelli in the musical movie version of 'Camera,' titled 'Cabaret']. Harris won exultant reviews, and after 50 performances, the producers affixed a seven-foot cutout of her to the theater marquee and placed ads in the newspaper declaring that 'Gertrude Macy and Walter Starcke have the pleasure to announce the stardom of Miss Julie Harris.' For her performance, she won her first Tony, and once again she re-created the role in the movies."

Harris was nominated for an Academy Award for the movie version of "Member of the Wedding." We here at TVWeek think she should have won for that performance, as well as for her supporting work in the 1962 movie version of Rod Serling's "Requiem for a Heavyweight." Harris was not nominated for that performance.

On TV, Harris is probably best known for her eight years on "Knots Landing" playing Lilimae Clements. Not including her regular role on "Knots Landing," Harris was in close to 70 other TV shows over six decades.

As Weber writes in his obit, "Slim, red-haired, physically graceful though not especially athletic, Harris had the aura of delicacy but was not a mesmerizing beauty; nor was she a distinctive, public personality. In interviews, she was unremittingly humble, dwelling on what she deemed her failures far more than her successes and speaking of acting as an imperfectible craft for which the effort at rendering a character, not the finished result or the applause, is not only the challenge but the reward."

Julie Harris and Donna Mills.jpgJulie Harris, left, with Donna Mills in a "Knots Landing" reunion

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Linda Ronstadt, 67, Named the No. 1 Female Singer for the Decade of the '70s by Cash Box Magazine, Says She Has Parkinson's Disease and Can No Longer Sing

"Legendary singer Linda Ronstadt, 67, told AARP that she 'can’t sing a note' because she suffers from Parkinson’s disease," the AARP reveals in an exclusive story on its website. [AARP is now the official name of the organization formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons.]

The story continues, "Diagnosed eight months ago, Ronstadt began to show symptoms as long as eight years ago. But she ascribed her inability to sing to a tick bite ('my health has never recovered since then'), and believed the shaking in her hands resulted from shoulder surgery."

Ronstadt told AARP music writer Alanna Nash, "I couldn’t sing, and I couldn’t figure out why. I knew it was mechanical. I knew it had to do with the muscles, but I thought it might have also had something to do with the tick disease that I had. And it didn’t occur to me to go to a neurologist. I think I’ve had it for seven or eight years already, because of the symptoms that I’ve had. Then I had a shoulder operation, so I thought that’s why my hands were trembling."

Ronstadt continued, "Parkinson’s is very hard to diagnose, so when I finally went to a neurologist and he said, ‘Oh, you have Parkinson’s disease,’ I was completely shocked. I wouldn’t have suspected that in a million, billion years. No one can sing with Parkinson’s disease. No matter how hard you try.”

The story adds: "Ronstadt walks with the aid of poles when on uneven ground, and uses a wheelchair when she travels."

Ronstadt, one of the bestselling female singers of all time, was named the top female singer for the decade of the 1970s by the music trade publication Cash Box.

Known for singing beautiful ballads and for having perfect pitch, here are some facts about Ronstadt that were once compiled in an article for Goldmine by Phil Marder:

● She has earned 11 Grammys, two Academy Of Country Music awards, an Emmy and an American Latino Media Arts award, and she has received Tony and Golden Globe nominations.
● She ranked as the No. 1 female singles seller in 1975 and 1977.
● Combining albums and singles, she is one of the highest-ranking artists in the history of recorded music.
● All told, she has posted 38 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching the top 10 on 10 different occasions, No. 2 three times and the top spot once. On the Billboard top album charts, she has 36 entries, including 10 that reached the top 10 and three that hit No. 1.
● She has reached the UK top 40 with five albums and three singles, including a No. 2 single in 1989.
● Between 1969 and 1994 she has had 20 singles reach the Canadian top 40, including two that peaked at No. 2 and two that reached No. 1, and nine top 20 LPs, including the “Trio” album, which hit No. 4, and “Simple Dreams,” which topped the Canadian charts.
● On the country charts, she has had solo albums and a single reach No. 1 in addition to a No. 1 collaboration with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris.
● She is considered the first female solo artist popular enough to pack large concert arenas.

Here are two videos from YouTube that show off Ronstadt's talent. If you are too young to know her work, please watch them. She's an extraordinary singer. The first video is her rendition of The Eagles' "Desperado," live, in a 1977 concert.

Here's the second video. It's a 1999 live duet with Emmylou Harris from the "Today" show of Linda Thompson's "Telling Me Lies." (Ronstadt is the brunette.)

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NBC Headed Down Yellow Brick Road as 'Oz' Becomes the Toast of the Development Season

NBC has snapped up a new version of "The Wizard of Oz," which is suddenly a hot commodity in television, reports.

"A century after the release of L. Frank Baum’s 'Wizard Of Oz' series, the books have become the toast of this TV development season," Nellie Andreeva writes on the website. "NBC just nabbed 'Emerald City,' an Oz-themed drama from 'Siberia' creator/showrunner Matthew Arnold. Two weeks ago, CBS put in development 'Dorothy,' a medical soap inspired by the characters and themes from 'The Wizard of Oz.' I hear there is another Oz drama making the rounds from 'Heroes' alums Adam Armus and Nora Kay Foster, with 'Heroes' creator Tim Kring supervising. And just last month, Syfy picked up for development a miniseries titled 'Warriors Of Oz; from director Timur Bekmambetov, a fantasy-action reimagining of the classic story."

Some of the renewed interest in the venerable tale may have to do with the upcoming 75th anniversary of the 1939 movie, Andreeva notes, pointing out that a 3D reissue of the beloved Judy Garland film is in the works for the occasion. Also, Andreeva notes, "Oz the Great and Powerful" did well earlier this year.

"'Emerald City,' which Arnold is writing and executive producing through Universal Television, is described as a dark reimagining of the classic tale of Oz in the vein of 'Game Of Thrones,' drawing upon stories from Baum’s original 14 books," Andreeva adds.

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New CNN Program Sinking in Ratings

As CNN continues to struggle to turn around its recent ratings results, one key new program is showing signs of weakness. Variety reports that the new morning program "New Day" has seen its numbers fall off after a decent start.

"This week, despite exclusive interviews with Prince William on Monday and Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, the show has posted its lowest numbers yet -- finishing well behind rivals Fox News and MSNBC," the story reports.

Other dayparts have been headed in a positive direction for CNN this summer, the report notes, adding that "New Day" has been a pet project for CNN boss Jeff Zucker.

“'New Day' seemed to be hanging in there earlier this summer, beating or finishing neck-and-neck with MSNBC’s 'Morning Joe' in the adults 25-54 demo for its first five weeks, according to Nielsen, but it has not been competitive since," Variety reports.

Still, the show is doing better than its predecessor. "CNN is faring better than what 'Starting Point' was doing a year ago, up more than 30% in key categories from the historic lows for the network at the time," the article reports. "But with all the pre-launch hoopla for 'New Day,' including a shiny new studio for the show and the naming of former ABC News anchor and reporter Chris Cuomo as co-anchor, expectations were elevated."

The report adds: "Looking at the Nielsen estimates for Monday through Wednesday of this week, 'New Day' was averaging just 74,000 adults 25-54 -- well below the 229,000 for FNC’s 'Fox and Friends' and the 117,000 for MSNBC’s 'Morning Joe.' It was also 26% lower than the 100,000 the network drew the previous week, which had been the ratings floor for the show prior to this week."

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'Star Wars' Cinematographer Dies -- It Was a Well-Known Movie From 1964 That Was His Favorite of the Many Features He Filmed

The cinematographer who filmed "Star Wars" -- along with a number of beloved movies -- has died. BBC News reports that Gilbert Taylor died today at his home on the Isle of Wight. He was 99.

Taylor's many film credits included the Beatles movie "A Hard Day's Night," "The Omen" and Alfred Hitchcock's "Frenzy." But the movie he said he would most like to be remembered for is Stanley Kubrick's 1964 Cold War satire "Dr. Strangelove."

"He also worked with Roman Polanski on such films as 'Repulsion' and 'Cul-de-Sac,' for which he received back-to-back BAFTA nominations in consecutive years [1966 and 1967]," the report notes.

The story adds: "To many, though, he will be best remembered for his contribution to the first 'Star Wars' film, on which he worked under the auspices of director George Lucas.

"'George avoided all meetings and contact with me from day one,' Taylor would later tell American Cinematographer magazine.

"'So I read the extra-long script many times and made my own decisions as to how I would shoot the picture.'"

Taylor also filmed the 1980 movie "Flash Gordon," among many others.

gilbert-taylor.pngGilbert Taylor

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Why Did NBC's 'Today' Have Its Biggest Crowd of All Time This Morning?

NBC's "Today" show reportedly had the biggest crowd in the show's history crammed into the area around New York's Rockefeller Center this morning. The reason, USA Today reports, was an appearance by the British boy band One Direction.

"In fact, according to 'Today,' NYPD estimated 18,000 Directioners gathered around Rockefeller Center, packing into about two New York City blocks outside the show's studios," the paper reports.

"Today's" Al Roker confirmed: "It seems to me this is the biggest crowd we've ever had."

USA Today adds: "A mother and two daughters from Queens, N.Y., who got in line six days ago -- on Saturday -- were named the 'biggest' fans of the day, Matt Lauer said."

However, they weren't the only hard-core fans on the scene, as hundreds reportedly camped out overnight and many got in line days ahead of the performance.

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Report: Bon Jovi Fires Lead Guitarist Richie Sambora

The rock band Bon Jovi has fired Richie Sambora, the band's longtime lead guitarist, and Sambora will not be on hand for the upcoming world tour, according to media reports.

The Toronto Star reports that Sambora hasn't played with the band since spring. The reason being cited is money: Sambora is reportedly demanding $2 million a month to play with the group.

"Sambora’s substitute is Canadian Philip Xenidis, also known as Phil X, who filled in for Sambora several times before when he was unavailable," the story reports. "According to sources, Xenidis comes a lot cheaper than Sambora. He is reportedly getting paid a substantially smaller sum of $10,000 per month."

With Phil X in Sambora's place, the band is headed to South America for tour dates in September, with North America on tap for October and December.

richie-sambora.pngRichie Sambora

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Bombshell from Microsoft: Ballmer to Leave Company Within 12 Months as New CEO Sought

"[Microsoft CEO Steve] Ballmer, 57, plans to step down within 12 months, Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said today in a statement," reports Bloomberg.

The story continues, "The company’s lead independent director, John Thompson, will oversee the search for his successor, heading a committee that will also include Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Investors applauded the move, sending the shares up as much as 8.7 percent to the highest intraday price since 2009.

"Ballmer’s move reflects the changes roiling the computing industry his company helped pioneer. Microsoft, which supplies the software running most PCs, lost almost half its value on Ballmer’s watch. The stock hasn’t closed above $50 since his first year on the job amid competition from Google, Apple and Facebook in everything from tablets to the Web."

Ballmer became Microsoft's CEO when Bill Gates left the company in 2000. Various media reports says Gates in not a candidate to return to replace Ballmer.

Bloomberg also notes, "Microsoft last month reported quarterly profits and sales that missed analysts’ estimates. The company’s latest computing operating system, Windows 8, also hasn’t spurred the comeback that Ballmer was aiming for. In April, activist investor ValueAct Holdings LP disclosed a stake of about $1.9 billion in Microsoft, pushing the software maker to consider giving the shareholder a board seat.

“ '[Ballmer's] become a lightning rod for frustration over Microsoft’s lack of progress in mobile and Windows 8,' said Richard Williams, an analyst at Cross Research in Millburn, New Jersey."

steve ballmer.jpgSteve Ballmer

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Former 'Today' News Anchor Dies

A former news anchor on NBC's "Today" show, whose career started in the early days of television, has died, reports the Associated Press.

Lew Wood died of kidney failure at a hospice in Riverside County, Calif., the story reports. He was 84.

Wood served as the NBC morning program's third news anchor, replacing Frank Blair in 1975. Wood, however, left the show after just one year, and entered public relations, where he worked until his 2006 retirement.

"He always joked that when he left the 'Today' show, it was due to illness and fatigue. They were sick and tired of him," his daughter told the AP.

Before working on "Today," he had anchored for WNBC-TV in New York and worked for CBS as a correspondent, including reporting on the civil rights movement in the 1960s and accompanying Martin Luther King Jr. on a march.

In 1963, Wood covered a breakfast speech made by President Kennedy, then snapped a personal photo of the president before he departed for the Dallas motorcade where he would be assassinated.

"He was a workhorse, very steady and reliable, excellent reporter and had good on-camera presence," fellow correspondent Dan Rather told the AP.

lew-wood.jpgLew Wood

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Top Candidates Lined Up as Replacements for Jason Sudeikis and Other Departing 'SNL' Cast Members

"Saturday Night Live" has its top candidates lined up to join the NBC sketch comedy show as featured players this fall, just as longtime performers Jason Sudeikis, Bill Hader and Fred Armisen depart the program, reports

The top candidates are comedian John Milhiser, actress Noel Wells and performers Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett, the story says.

"No official announcement yet from the venerable late-night show but the four are heavily rumored to land the coveted 'SNL' spots," the piece reports. "All four have been performing at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre." "SNL" alum Amy Poehler is one of the co-founders of Upright Citizens Brigade, which has also supplied current "SNL" cast members Bobby Moynihan and Kate McKinnon.

Mooney and Bennett are part of Good Neighbor, a comedy group that has a deal with Comedy Central, but the two networks are working on ironing that out, the story adds.

Sudeikis, Hader and Armisen are set to leave "SNL" in May, with Seth Meyers due to depart in late fall, the report notes.

john-milhiser.pngJohn Milhiser

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After Major Oscar Snub Last Year, This Actor Has a Lot of Good Will Going For Him -- Ergo, He's Landed the Part as the Next Batman

Christian Bale is done doing his thing as Batman, so the caped crusader will be played by another actor in the next "Superman" movie.

"Ben Affleck will play Batman opposite Henry Cavill in the 'Man of Steel' sequel, Warner Bros. announced today," reports the Los Angeles Times' Hero Complex blog.

The story continues: "In a statement, director Zack Snyder expressed his excitement about the casting of Affleck, noting, 'Ben provides an interesting counter-balance to Henry’s Superman. He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne. I can’t wait to work with him.' ”

"Snyder, who directed 'Man of Steel,' is set to co-write the story with David S. Goyer, who will pen the screenplay. Production is expected to begin next year, with a July 17, 2015, release date."

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If You're a Longtime Fan of 'Survivor' but Haven't Watched the Show Lately, Here's a Great Reason to Put It on Your Must-Watch List This Season: Rupert's Back! And That's Just the Tip of the Iceberg. The 'Big Brother' Connection to this Fall's 'Survivor'

One of the most popular contestants to ever play "Survivor," Rupert Boneham, will be back playing the game this fall, reports Entertainment Weekly.

As EW reminds us, Rupert "has never won in his three previous outings but did collect a million dollars as the winner of a special fan voted prize given away during the 'All-Stars' season." This go-around Rupert will be joined on the show by his wife, Laura, EW adds.

Says the article, this fall's season of "Survivor" is subtitled "Blood vs. Water," and features "'Survivor' contestants playing with (or, rather, against) their loved ones. Yesterday [EW] revealed that one of those pairs would be 'Survivor: One World’s' Kat Edorsson and her boyfriend, 'Big Brother' season 12 winner Hayden Moss. Now the rest of the cast can be officially unveiled. And that cast will be playing in the most twist-heavy 'Survivor' season ever."

The story continues: "Among the cast of 'Survivor: Blood vs. Water' -- which filmed this past May and June in the Philippines -- will be a contestant from the group that started it all, as season 1 player Gervase Peterson returns to compete along with his niece Marissa. He will be joined by three million dollar winners -- Tina Wesson from 'The Australian Outback' (who will be playing with daughter Katie), Aras Baskauskas from 'Panama' (with brother Vytas), and Rupert."

The article also explains that "In a surprise, the new cast also features three players from 'One World' -- which is generally considered one of the weakest 'Survivor' seasons ever. Joining Kat will be Monica Culpepper (and husband Brad) and the controversial Colton Cumbie (and fiancé Caleb). Rounding out the cast are threepeaters Tyson Apostol (with girlfriend Rachel) and the former Candice Woodcock (now Candice Cody, with husband John), as well as Laura Morett from 'Samoa' (with daughter Ciera)."

If you want to read about additional changes in how "Survivor" will be played this fall, please click on the link in our first paragraph above to go to the original EW article, which explains all of those details. One of those changes is that Redemption Island will be back, after a three-season absence.

rupert on 'Survivor'.jpgRupert Boneham

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Tea Party Group Urges Comcast Customers to Cancel Subscriptions

A conservative political group has launched a campaign aimed at convincing Comcast customers to cancel their subscriptions, according to The Hollywood Reporter. In a new video posted online and set to become a TV commercial (see the video below), the Tea Party organization FreedomWorks focuses its anger on MSNBC, and in particular, Al Sharpton.

The group is sending emails to 2.3 million people in an effort to convince them to cancel their Comcast subscriptions as a way to send the company an anti-MSNBC message, the story reports.

"By paying your Comcast cable bill, your money is helping to pay for Al Sharpton's salary," the video says. "Switch your cable provider now."

FreedomWorks calls MSNBC host Sharpton a "known race-card hustler," the story adds. The video will be turned into a commercial that will air in areas where Comcast is dominant.

The email reportedly tells people, "Cable company Comcast owns the left-wing media outlet MSNBC that broadcasts propaganda instead of news … If you have Comcast, tell CEO Brian Roberts you don’t want to pay for propaganda.”

Comcast, MSNBC and NBCUniversal didn't respond to requests for comment, the story adds.

Here's the video:

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New Miniseries in Development at Discovery -- Project Revisits Material From One of the Highest-Rated Miniseries in TV History

A new miniseries in development at Discovery may have a familiar feel to it for TV viewers. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that the project is based on the "North and South" trilogy of novels by John Jakes.

The books have previously aired in miniseries format, including when producer David L. Wolper in 1985 created ABC's "North and South" based on the first book, starring Patrick Swayze and James Read. It's ranked as the seventh highest-rated miniseries of all time, the story notes.

Installments based on the second and third books aired on ABC in 1986 ("North and South: Book II") and 1994 ("Heaven and Hell: North and South Book III"), with "Book II" doing well while "Book III" was viewed as a disappointment.

"There's no word on if Discovery is planning to similarly divide its project, or if it plans to try to adapt all three books into one sprawling miniseries," the story notes.

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Is This 13-Year-Old the Next Disney Star? Disney XD Greenlights Two Pilots Starring the Young Actor

A 13-year-old actor is getting buzz as the next Disney teen star, with the company casting him as the lead in two Disney XD pilots, reports Nellie Andreeva on

Jacob Bertrand has the lead in "Kirby Buckets" and "Neckpee Island," although Disney XD intends to move only one of the projects to series, the story says.

"That is a special treatment given only to talent Disney brass strongly believe would be their next breakout star. Disney XD sibling Disney Channel used the same tactic for Selena Gomez eight years ago," Andreeva writes.

At that time, Disney cast Gomez in two pilots, one of them being "Wizards of Waverly Place," which went on to become a hit.

Bertrand was previously a regular on "Marvin Marvin" and guest-starred on "iCarly."

"Kirby Buckets" is about a boy of the same name who wants to be a famous animator, and while trying to meet his idol, he and his two best friends run into a series of disasters, such as a low-speed lawn mower chase, the story says.

"Neckpee Island" is about a troublemaker whose dad decides to move their family to a remote island in order to keep the boy out of trouble.

jacob-bertrand.jpgJacob Bertrand

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Popular Gen X Movie Heads to TV -- Project in the Works at NBC

A popular Gen X movie is now a television project, with the film's director working on a version for NBC, reports The movie is "Reality Bites," which starred Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke and was directed by Ben Stiller.

Stiller, who also acted in the movie, is working with writer Helen Childress on the project, which will follow recent college grad Lelaina Pierce as she seeks romance and professional success in the early 1990s.

The project is set in Houston and will feature Lelaina with her video camera as she tracks her "slacker" friends. In the movie, Ryder played the Lelaina character.

The project is produced by Universal Television.

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ESPN Bails Out on 'Frontline' Project

Citing a lack of editorial control, ESPN has left a "Frontline" project that's slated to air in October, reports The New York Times. The project is focused on concussions in the NFL.

The decision comes after 15 months of work on the project, with ESPN stripping its name, logo and credit from the documentary, called "League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis."

ESPN's decision comes after the partnership resulted in nine joint TV and online reports, which have appeared on ESPN's "Outside the Lines," on and on "Frontline's" website, the story says.

"In hindsight, we should have reached this conclusion much sooner," an ESPN spokesman said.

The spokesman for the sports TV network said the decision was not based on concerns about damaging its contractual relationship with the NFL, the story adds.

“Because ESPN is neither producing nor exercising editorial control over the ‘Frontline’ documentaries, there will be no co-branding involving ESPN on the documentaries or their marketing materials. The use of ESPN’s marks could incorrectly imply that we have editorial control," the network said in a statement.

Raney Aronson-Rath, the deputy executive producer of “Frontline,” said the first signs of trouble surfaced last Friday. At that point, ESPN said it didn't want its logo on the films.

A spokesman for the NFL said the group isn't supportive of the documentary, but allowed doctors who advise the league on concussions to choose for themselves whether they wanted to be involved.

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Broadcasting Legend Vin Scully Commits to Another Season at the Mic

Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully will return as the announcer of Los Angeles Dodgers baseball games in 2014, marking his 65th season with the team, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Scully, 85, is re-upping on a year-to-year basis, the story notes. That's because "he respects his audience too much to mumble around a microphone the way Willie Mays stumbled around center field for the New York Mets, in a sad close to a brilliant career," the piece reports.

Scully told the newspaper, "I really still enjoy it immensely. My health is good, thank God. So why not? And my wife said, 'Why not?'"

"Just the thought of walking away from it to retirement -- and looking out the window or something? It's just too good. As a baseball man, and someone who has always loved the game, the situation and the conditions are perfect," Scully said.

vin-scully-dodgers.pngVin Scully

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Gingrich Sets Sights on Moving Media to the Right

After former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich criticized "the media elite," he's preparing to join CNN's revived "Crossfire" -- a stump from which he says he hopes "to move it to the right," reports The New York Times.

The show, which will return to TV eight years after the original program was canceled, represents a gamble by CNN that an audience exists for a program spotlighting debate between the right and the left. Other hosts include liberals Van Jones and Stephanie Cutter, while Gingrich's fellow conservative is S.E. Cupp.

It's also a bet that the show can juice up CNN's evening ratings, the story adds. Still, Gingrich told The Times that the new "Crossfire" will succeed if only 1% of American viewers tune in.

newt-gingrich-cnn.pngNewt Gingrich

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ESPN Talking With Potential Partners About Web-Based TV Service

Disney-owned ESPN has been in preliminary talks to provide programming via a Web-based TV service along the lines of proposed services from Google, Sony and Intel, Bloomberg reports.

"An Internet TV provider would have to pay as much or more than cable and satellite services, President John Skipper said [Thursday] at ESPN’s campus in Bristol, Connecticut," the story reports. "He declined to specify the companies ESPN has spoken with."

The piece notes that ESPN is the most valuable channel on cable and commands the highest subscriber fees of any basic cable network, based on data from SNL Kagan.

"A Web-based service would have to buy 'the whole suite of products,' Skipper said. 'We’re not going to offer one-offs.' The network includes the flagship channel, plus others such as ESPN2, ESPN News and mobile applications offered to existing pay-TV subscribers," the report notes.

"Access to ESPN would give new online TV providers instant credibility and a foothold to compete with established players like Comcast Corp. and DirecTV," Bloomberg adds.

The report notes: "Talks with alternative TV providers are exploratory and any new platform would have to offer a package of channels comparable to what other operators provide, according to Chris LaPlaca, a spokesman for ESPN."

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Cable Blackout Fuels Cord Cutting

With the dispute between Time Warner Cable and CBS leading to a blackout of CBS stations in Los Angeles and other cities, some consumers are opting to cut the cable cord entirely, reports David Lazarus in the Los Angeles Times.

Alan Ehrlich of South Pasadena, Calif., was one of those who cut their cable connections because of the blackout, the story notes.

"I've heard stories of people cord-cutting," Ehrlich said. "I always wondered how hard it was, or if I would miss cable." He added that setting up a high-definition antenna was "easy. Any 5-year-old could do it."

The antenna allows him to receive local channels, as well as digital channels broadcast locally by TV stations, the story reports. He also kept the Internet portion of his cable service, and signed up for Amazon Prime to watch movies and TV shows.

More people are doing the same thing, Lazarus writes. The U.S. pay-TV industry lost about 316,000 customers in the 12 months ended June 30, according to Moffett Research.

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Animal Planet Orders Adventure Series

Animal Planet has ordered a six-part adventure docuseries called "Killer Islands," which features wildlife expert Dave Salmoni as he visits remote islands, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

Salmoni will travel to six islands during the series, looking at how and why the creatures living there have succeeded despite tough conditions.

The project, a co-production of Discovery Networks International and Animal Planet, will first air internationally on Discovery Channel. Animal Planet will debut the series in the U.S. next summer.

dave-salmoni.jpgDave Salmoni

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Comedy Central Orders Uncensored Late-Night Series

Comedy Central will bring a new entry to the late-night landscape. B&C reports that the cable channel has ordered a stand-up series that will be hosted by comedian Dave Attell.

The channel placed an order for eight episodes, the piece reports.

"The untitled series, which will be uncensored, will feature Attell and other comedians unfiltered," B&C reports. "The series will feature sets from up-and-coming comedians and well-known ones, as well as interstitial moments throughout the episodes. The series is expected to premiere in 2014."

Also on tap is a one-hour stand-up special featuring Attell, which Comedy Central will air in 2014.

Ken Alterman, president, content development and original programming for Comedy Central, said: "When I was first approached for this, I thought someone said 'Dave Chappelle.' I immediately said yes. I love Dave Attell, too, so it's fine."

B&C notes: "Attell is no stranger to the network, having hosted 'Insomniac With Dave Attell' from 2001-04, as well as appearing on a variety of the network's series including 'The Daily Show.'"

dave-attell.pngDave Attell

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Does Anybody Not Love This Guy? We Sure Love Him. Our Favorite Food Network Host, Guy Fieri, Has Got a New Show. Emporiums, Markets and Bazaars?

Guy Fieri, the popular host of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," will host a new series on the Food Network.

Fieri "stars as host of the new supermarket-themed cooking competition 'Guy's Grocery Games.' Now in production, the 13-episode series is set to premiere in October 2013 on Food Network," the programmer announced.

The announcement continues, "Set in a grocery store, four talented chefs compete against each other in three cooking challenges, as they must navigate their way through the aisles adhering to a number of 'real-world' culinary challenges to create tasty dishes. From shopping on a budget to substituting ingredients when the essentials are out-of-stock to cooking a complicated dish with five items or less, the chefs' culinary and improvisation skills are put to the test. In the end, the food does the talking, and one-by-one the losing chefs are eliminated by a rotating list of guest judges. The last chef standing goes on a shopping spree of a lifetime to make big bucks. It's the most fun cooking competition ever set in a grocery store."

GuyFieri_car_close-up.jpgGuy Fieri

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CBS and Verizon Sign Carriage Pact; Moonves: Time Warner Cable Turned Down 'Almost Exactly the Same Deal'

CBS and Verizon have come to terms on a three-year carriage deal, and following the agreement CBS boss Leslie Moonves made the point in a memo to staffers that "Time Warner Cable has been offered almost exactly the same deal."

A press release announcing the accord says it allows for “continued retransmission of CBS owned stations and wider distribution of CBS Sports Network on Verizon’s FiOS TV in multiple markets across the country.” reports: "The deal ensures distribution of CBS-owned stations in multiple Verizon markets, such as New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas, areas that are also home to Time Warner Cable subscribers."

Said Ray Hopkins, CBS Corp. president for Television Networks Distribution: “We are very pleased to reach this agreement with Verizon and its FiOS service. This deal was reached in a short period of time, and CBS has once again achieved fair value for our over-the-air rights. Verizon is a distribution partner of growing importance to us that provides excellent service to its expanding number of subscribers, and we are glad that this partnership will continue and grow.”

EW adds: "This deal with Verizon now puts the spotlight back on Time Warner Cable, particularly after CBS CEO Leslie Moonves sent a memo to his staff claiming that TWC was offered a very similar deal and has yet to move toward an agreement. 'You should know that Time Warner Cable has been offered almost exactly the same deal for CBS carriage to which Verizon has agreed,' Moonves said in the memo."

Time Warner Cable had not answered EW's request for comment for the report.

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Non-TV Story of the Day: Ex-NFL Player Indicted on First-Degree Murder Charge

Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was formally indicted today in Massachusetts on charges including first-degree murder in the death of Odin Lloyd, ESPN reports.

Hernandez also faces weapons charges in connection with the death of Lloyd, "a friend whose bullet-riddled body was found in an industrial park about a mile from the ex-player's home," the story reports.

ESPN adds: "The six-count grand jury indictment charges Hernandez with killing 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player from Boston who was dating the sister of Hernandez's girlfriend."

Hernandez, 23, appeared briefly in court today. He "pleaded not guilty to murder and weapons charges in June, and he is being held without bail at a county jail," the story notes.

After the court appearance by Hernandez, "his attorney Michael Fee said the defense was pleased to be on a path to a jury trial and was looking forward to testing the prosecution's evidence," the report adds.

Said Fee: "There has been an incredible rush to judgment in this case." The attorney added that the prosecution is lacking sufficient evidence to prove its case.

"Hernandez signed a contract last summer worth $40 million but was cut by the Patriots within hours of his June 26 arrest, when police led the handcuffed athlete from his home as news cameras rolled," ESPN reports. "He could face life in prison if convicted."

Lloyd's body was reportedly found by a jogger June 17 in an industrial park in North Attleborough.

"Prosecutors say Hernandez orchestrated Lloyd's killing because he was upset at him for talking to people Hernandez had problems with at a nightclub days earlier. They say Hernandez, [Ernest] Wallace and another associate, Carlos Ortiz, picked Lloyd up at his home in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood early on June 17 and then drove to the industrial park," ESPN reports.

The report adds: "Shortly before his death, authorities say, Lloyd sent his sister text messages. He asked if she had seen who he was with when he got into the car in Boston. Then he indicated who it was in a way that Lloyd's family said he knew his sister would understand. 'NFL,' he wrote. 'Just so you know.'

"Moments later, authorities say, Lloyd was dead after gunshots rang out in an unpaved construction area by a warehouse after he apparently got out of the car for what he thought was a bathroom break."

aaron-hernandez.pngAaron Hernandez

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Dick Van Dyke Offers to Sell His 'Used' Jaguar -- Cheap! TV Legend Jokes About Roadside Emergency as Fiery Video Surfaces

It looks as though Dick Van Dyke had himself a pretty nice car -- until the new Jaguar burned to a crisp alongside the 101 freeway in Calabasas, Calif., earlier this week.

As we reported previously, Van Dyke, 87, was rescued from his burning Jaguar by a passer-by. Now the TV legend, who was unharmed in the incident, is joking about it.

Van Dyke tweeted a photo of the burned-up car (see below), along with the message: "Used Jag for sale REAL CHEAP!!"

dick-van-dykes-burned-up-jag.pngDick Van Dyke's tweeted photo of his car reports that Van Dyke also posted a limerick about the incident. Here it is:

"I once drove a car that could fly
I had never driven so high
But, I recently found
Even back on the ground
U still can be left high and dry"

Here's a video that has surfaced showing the roadside drama up close:

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Two Unscripted Shows Buck the Downtrend on a Night of Season and Series Lows for Broadcast Nets

On a mostly down Wednesday night for the broadcast networks, two key reality shows bucked the trend, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. reports that CBS's "Big Brother" and Fox's "MasterChef" were up. With a 2.3 average in viewers 18-49, "MasterChef" wound up as the top show of the night on the broadcast nets, just eclipsing "Big Brother's" 2.2 average.

"MasterChef" was up one-tenth of a point from last week, while "Big Brother" ticked up two-tenths.

Fox, which led off prime time with a repeat installment of "MasterChef" (1.1 average in 18-49), finished as the top broadcast network for prime time overall. CBS followed "Big Brother" with two hours of drama repeats ("Criminal Minds," with a 0.9 average, and "CSI," with a 1.1).

Second-place NBC got a 2.1 average out of "America's Got Talent" in viewers 18-49, equaling last week's season low, while "Camp" turned in a 0.9, matching last week's series low.

ABC's only fresh program was the 10 p.m. airing of "The Lookout," which lost three-tenths of a point from last week in the 18-49 demo, settling for a series-low 0.7.

Fox led the way for prime time overall with a 1.7 average in adults 18-49, followed by NBC (1.4 average), CBS (1.4), Univision (1.4) and ABC (0.8). NBC pushed its way to the top in total viewers, averaging 6.2 million to lead CBS (5.5 million), Fox (4.2 million), Univision (3.5 million) and ABC (3.1 million).

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ABC's 'Good Morning America' Celebrates Milestone

It wasn't all that long ago that its chief rival, NBC's "Today" show, was the one chalking up a string of ratings victories, so ABC's "Good Morning America" is putting the word out about its own achievement in the morning ratings wars: "GMA" has now been the No. 1 program in total viewers for a solid year, racking up 52 consecutive weeks in first place.

"GMA" topped "Today" by 808,000 total viewers for the week of Aug. 12, capping off its longest stretch at No. 1 in more than 21 years, since before the start of the 1991-92 season, according to data from Nielsen Media Research.

"GMA" senior executive producer Tom Cibrowski told his staff: “Because of your incredible work, 'Good Morning America' has been #1 in Total Viewers for one entire year. It is an amazing accomplishment and a fantastic ride. We are also extremely grateful to the viewers who tune in every morning, and now it’s up to us to keep going. We are only just beginning.”

ABC said in its announcement: "During the week, 'GMA' outdrew NBC’s 'Today' (4.270 million and 1.703 million, respectively) by +808,000 Total Viewers and by +199,000 Adults 25-54. In fact, 'GMA' more than tripled its Total Viewer advantage (+217%) over the No. 2-ranked 'Today' show compared to its lead on the same week last year (+255,000 on w/o 8/12/13)."

The announcement adds: "Season-to-date, 'GMA' has turned in its most number of No. 1 finishes in both Total Viewers (46 of 46 weeks) and Adults 25-54 (38 of 46 weeks) during a television season in more than 21 years -- since before the 1991-92 season; Nielsen’s electronic database started on September of 1991."

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Apple's iTunes Radio to Debut Next Month. Here Are All the Details, Including the Advertisers Who Will Be In on the Launch

[This article is courtesy of our sibling Crain Communications publication, Advertising Age, where it first appeared]

By John McDermott, Advertising Age

iTunes Radio, Apple's answer to Pandora, is set to debut next month with a handful of high-profile brand partners including McDonald's, Nissan, Pepsi, Procter & Gamble and possibly one or two more brands, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

The deals range from the high single-digit millions of dollars to tens of millions of dollars and include a 12 month advertising campaign to run within the streaming music service for each of the participating brands.

In addition to basking in all the publicity that comes with a heavily-anticipated Apple product launch, the launch partners get exclusivity within their respective industries through the end of 2013. Come January 2014, however, ads on iTunes Radio will become widely available, provided an advertiser agrees to the minimum buy-in of around $1 million, according to sources briefed on the product.

Advertisements on iTunes Radio will come in three forms: interstitial audio and video ads and "slate" ads; interactive display ads that will take over whatever screen the consumer is using. That includes iPhones, iPads, all desktops and laptops loaded with iTunes (including Windows PCs) and Apple TV, the Apple device that brings Internet connectivity and apps to TVs.

Audio and video ads
Users will be served an audio ad once every 15 minutes and one video ad every hour, the sources said. The video ads will only be served to consumers at times when they are likely to be looking at their device screen, such as immediately after hitting play or choosing to skip a track.

For the launch, advertisers will be running ads across all of the devices that iTunes Radio will accessible on (that is, anything that runs iTunes). When the launch goes wide in 2014, advertisers will have the ability to target specific devices for their ads. The cost of iTunes Radio ads will increase with the size of the screen, according to agency executives; iPhone ads will be cheapest and Apple TV ads will be the most expensive.

Some of the launch partners will also be curating playlists that have fewer ads than typical iTunes Radio stations. These branded stations will not be labeled with a brand name, but will most likely involve a short ad saying that brand was sponsoring a user's block of free listening.

Ad-free option
Of course, consumers can choose to have no ads at all. iTunes Radio will be a free, ad-supported service to the public, but Apple will be offering an ad-free option to anyone who purchases iTunes Match, a cloud-based music storage feature that allows users to access their libraries on any Internet-connected Apple device.

iTunes Radio inventory will be sold via iAd, Apple's mobile ad network. No surprise then that the debut of the ad-supported iTunes Radio service closely resembles iAd's 2010 launch; a select few launch partners, high minimum buy-ins and lots of fanfare.

Like most mobile ad networks, iAd has struggled to take mobile advertising market share away from Facebook and Google since then, but iTunes Radio may give it a boost. Whereas iAd only sold display ads, iTunes Radio gives the network more valuable audio and video inventory.

Because iTunes Radio will not allow users to search and play a song on-demand, it's most immediate competitor will be Pandora, the No. 3 company in terms of U.S. mobile advertising revenue market share in 2013, according to eMarketer. Pandora mobile ad revenue is projected to increase 43% year over year, from $376 million this year to $539 in 2014.

Push to buy
Apple and its music industry partners think that iTunes Radio's greatest revenue generator will be its ability to get users to actually buy music. A purchase button will be placed next to every song played on the service in an attempt to get users to permanently add title to their iTunes library.

It's a move against other music-streaming companies' strategy of allowing users to passively listen to songs interrupted by ads or to charge them a premium for the ability to play songs on demand and listen to ad-free digital radio. Regardless, the caliber of iTunes Radio's launch partners proves that, at least initially, there's enough interest in the service to garner attention from some of the most recognizable brands and biggest ad spenders in the U.S.

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Web Series Cast Member Found Dead, With 'Blunt Trauma' Evidence

A transgender woman who was a cast member on a Web series was found dead Tuesday evening, with her body showing evidence of "blunt trauma," reports, citing a coroner's report.

The victim, Domonique Newburn, 32, was a member of the cast of the Web series "Hollywood House Boys." Production on the series was halted after four episodes were made in 2010, but production had recently restarted.

Friends of Newburn, whose body was found in an apartment in Fontana, Calif., said they think her killing was a hate crime.

Ryan Hope, the Web series creator, said in a statement: "We are all deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic loss of our sister, Domonique Newburn. Domonique was an amazing person [whose] spirit transcended gender. When we set out to document or lives for reality-television, we never once wished to make headlines like this. Our thoughts, prayers, and condolences are with her family."

Investigators found evidence of a struggle both inside the house and outside, according to a police detective. Witnesses reported seeing a man leaving the home in the victim's car, the story says, with the car later found in a park about 13 miles from where Newburn's body was found.

domonique-newburn.pngDomonique Newburn

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There's a New No. 1 in U.S. Web Traffic -- Google Gets Knocked Out of the Top Spot; Here Are the Top 5

A shakeup has taken place at the top of the rankings for the most-visited websites in the U.S. Citing the latest report from comScore, USA Today reports that Yahoo knocked Google out of its spot to rank as the country's most-visited Web property in July.

"Yahoo received 196.6 million unique visitors last month, compared to 192.3 million for Google. This is the first time Yahoo has returned to the top spot for U.S. web traffic since May 2011, comScore tells Marketing Land," the story reports.

The report notes that the total does not include figures from Tumblr, which was acquired by Yahoo earlier this year for $1 billion.

"Yahoo's return to the top is another victory during the tenure of Marissa Mayer, who recently marked her first year as the company's CEO," the story reports. "Shares of Yahoo have nearly doubled in value since she took over."

Rounding out the top five most-visited Web properties, according to the report, are Microsoft properties, Facebook and AOL.

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Huge 1980s Movie Hit in Development for the Small Screen

A movie that was a monster hit at the box office in the 1980s is in development to become a television show.'s Inside TV reports that Entertainment One (eOne) is working with Nu Image on an adaptation of "Rambo."

Star Sylvester Stallone is in talks to be involved in the project creatively as well as potentially to revive his role as the title character, the story says. A representative for the actor didn't immediately get back to EW with comment, the report notes.

The 1985 movie "Rambo: First Blood Part II," the most successful film in the "Rambo" series, took in about $300 million in worldwide box office receipts. It was a sequel to the 1982 movie "First Blood," which is also sometimes called "Rambo." Made on a budget of about $14 million, "First Blood" reportedly grossed $125 million worldwide.

The franchise has spawned video games, an animated 1986 TV series and four feature films so far.

"'Rambo' fans cover all demographics and we’re confident that we’ll quickly find this series a home," John Morayniss, the chief executive of eOne Television, said in a statement.


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First Reviews Are In for Al Jazeera America

With Al Jazeera America debuting this week, a check of the cable news channel's critical reception by found that while some kinks need to be worked out, the initial effort was generally well received.

David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun called the channel's delivery "solidly-reported and skillfully packaged," while comparing the network to the BBC. "Some of the camera work almost takes your breath away," he wrote.

Brian Lowry of Variety compared the network to PBS, writing that Al Jazeera America had "nary a wacky human-interest or feel-good story to be found."

Still, while the network is delivering news free of gimmicks, the "tradeoff appears to be a lack of entertainment value," the Los Angeles Times' Company Town notes.

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CBS, Time Warner Cable Declare Temporary Truce in New York

CBS and Time Warner Cable have agreed to set aside their squabble for the time being, with the two sides agreeing to allow the upcoming New York City Democratic primary debates to air for Time Warner Cable subscribers on WCBS-TV, reports

WCBS will air four debates, starting tonight, Thursday, with the Democratic primary debate for comptroller. Other than that, the blackout will remain for the CBS stations in New York, Los Angeles and other markets, as the two sides have failed so far to reach an agreement over retransmission fees.

"With vacancies in all three citywide offices, this election will decide the future of the city we all share and love," said New York City Campaign Finance Board Chair Father Joseph P. Parkes. "We are very pleased that these two institutions have chosen to look past their differences and provide all New Yorkers the best opportunity to see these important debates."

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Fired Fox News Executive Says His Rancorous Exit 'Comes With the Territory'

Fired Fox News executive Brian Lewis, who was booted from the company amid allegations of financial misconduct and breach of contract, is going quietly -- resisting the opportunity to fight back against his former bosses. But Lewis said some of the reports surrounding his departure were "pure fiction," reports the Los Angeles Times.

Lewis said he had a "great 20 years" working for Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, but declined to talk about the specifics of his departure or the charges made. He said the harshness surrounding the situation "comes with the territory," the story adds.

One rumor about his departure was that Lewis had been secretly helping New York magazine writer Gabriel Sherman on his book about Ailes and Fox News. "People are going to say what they are going to say," Lewis said.

He declined to comment on whether his departure stemmed from a contract dispute gone wrong, the report adds.

As previously reported, Lewis was fired by Ailes for what the news company said are “issues relating to financial irregularities, as well as for multiple, material and significant breaches of his employment contract."

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After Emmys Snub, Actress Lands on NBC Comedy Series

An actress who many observers felt was one of the top snubs when the Emmy nominations were announced last month has landed a new gig.

"Orphan Black" star Tatiana Maslany, who won fans for her portrayal of several clones on the BBC show, has been cast in a two-episode arc on NBC's "Parks and Recreation," The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

The Canadian actress will play a love interest for Aziz Ansari, who plays Tom Haverford. While details about her character haven't been released, she will appear in the fifth and sixth episodes of the comedy, which will air its sixth-season premiere Sept. 26.

Earlier this year, Maslany was named the winner of the Critics' Choice Television Award for best actress in a drama series for "Orphan Black," which airs in the U.S. on BBC America.

tatiana-maslany-2013-critics-choice.pngTatiana Maslany

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Syfy Continues Push Into Alternative Programming With New Unscripted Series

As part of its plan to grow a slate of alternative programming, Syfy is developing a new unscripted series. reports that the new project is a competition reality series focusing on costume design.

Called "Camera Ready," the project spotlights 10 costume designers who work on challenges related to film, TV and music videos. Their costumes, which will include non-traditional materials such as fiber optics, will be judged by a panel that includes Oscar-winning costume designers, the story adds.

The show comes from Mission Control Media, which also produces Syfy's prosthetic makeup competition "Face Off."

face-off-syfy.jpgSyfy's "Face Off"

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'Star Trek Into Darkness' Actor Joins HBO's 'Game of Thrones'

An actor who recently appeared in "Star Trek Into Darkness" is joining HBO's fantasy drama series "Game of Thrones." The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that "Thrones" has cast British actor Joseph Gatt.

Gatt recently appeared as a science officer in "Star Trek Into Darkness" and also played a frost giant in "Thor," the story notes.

While HBO isn't revealing which part Gatt will play in the hit series, fans are speculating that he will play Styr, Magnar of Thenn, a wildling leader who has a hairless body. Because of the condition alopecia universalis, Gatt reportedly has no hair on his body.

joseph-gatt.jpgJoseph Gatt

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OWN Gives Comedy Series a Hefty 52-Episode Order, Ups Order for Drama Series Too

Oprah Winfrey's cable channel appears to be thriving on programming from one content provider. B&C reports that OWN increased its order for season one of Tyler Perry's scripted comedy "Love Thy Neighbor" to 52 episodes, up from the previous 26.

While the current cycle of the comedy began airing its two-part finale Aug. 21, the additional episodes will air as part of season one starting in January.

The series premiered May 29 and has averaged more than 1 million total viewers, the report notes.

OWN also gave an order for four additional episodes of Perry's drama "The Haves and Have Nots," the piece adds. The channel had previously increased its order for the show by 16 episodes in June.

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FX Orders Animated 'Bigfoot' From Seth Rogen

FX gave a pilot order for an animated comedy called "Bigfoot" from Seth Rogen, who is executive producing the project, reports

The project is based on Graham Roumieu's fake Bigfoot autobiographical graphic novels, including "In Me Own Words," the story notes. The project will focus on Bigfoot as he struggles with his animal nature while coping with modern life and its philosophical issues.

"This will be the greatest show about an animated Bigfoot ever made,” Rogen said.

The project is written by Matt McKenna of "American Dad," who will also executive produce.

FX has been seeking additional animated shows to pair with its popular "Archer" comedy, the story notes.

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Report: Simon Cowell Asks Estranged Husband of Lauren Silverman to Stop Criticizing Him

Simon Cowell has secretly met with Andrew Silverman, the estranged husband of socialite Lauren Silverman, who is reportedly pregnant with Cowell's baby, asking Silverman to stop criticizing him in public, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

The television producer met with Andrew Silverman a few weeks ago in an attempt to convince him to remove Cowell's name from the divorce papers. The meeting ended with the two men shaking hands and agreeing their discussion would stay confidential, the story adds.

The men's representatives issued a joint statement, saying the report was "completely untrue," the story adds.

Lauren Silverman, who is said to be about 12 weeks pregnant, arrived Wednesday in the south of France to join Cowell on his yacht.

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Ad Giant Interpublic Teams Up With TV Companies to Build Automated Ad-Buying System

Advertising  industry giant Interpublic has teamed up with a number of TV companies to build an automated ad-buying system, reports The Wall Street Journal. [Note: the WSJ is behind a pay wall and may charge you to read this article.]

The story says that the TV companies involved are A&E Networks, Clear Channel, Tribune Co. and Cablevision Systems Corp. The report adds, "Others, such as NBCUniversal, are in discussions with the group but haven't yet agreed to join."

To read, for free, a complete explanation of what this means and how it would work from our sibling publication Advertising Age, please click here.

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Another Stunner at 'American Idol': Mentor Jimmy Iovine Out, Likely to Be Replaced by a Familiar 'Idol' Personality

Jimmy Iovine, the legendary music producer who is also the co-founder of Interscope Records and chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M, is out at "American Idol," reports our friend Nellie Andreeva at

Iovine, who mentors the contestants on the show, "joined Idol in Season 10, the first without original judge Simon Cowell," Andreeva writes. She continues: "With his music executive/producer experience and no-nonsence attitude, Iovine was tipped to fill the void left by the acerbic British music executive. His Interscope Geffen A&M also took over from Cowell’s label in handling the albums of the 'Idol' finalists."

The story gave no reason as to why Iovine is leaving the show.

So who might replace Iovine as a mentor to the show's "Idol" wannabes? Well, none other than former "Idol" judge Randy Jackson, Andreeva writes.

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Disney/ABC TV Group Braces for Layoffs

Layoffs are in the works at Disney/ABC Television Group, with the impact expected to be felt across the unit, the Los Angeles Times reports. The ABC broadcast network, local television stations and cable channels ABC Family and Disney Channel are all expected to be included.

"About 175 jobs are expected to be cut through layoffs or from not filling open positions, a person familiar with the matter said. The Disney/ABC Television Group employs around 7,600 people," the story reports.

A spokesman for Disney/ABC Television Group is quoted as saying: “As technological advances continue to alter the competitive landscape and viewer habits, it’s incumbent upon us to stay ahead of the curve. To that end, we’ve undergone a review of our organizational structures and processes, and have re-imagined and realigned certain areas and functions to gain efficiencies and better position us for future growth."

The Times report adds: "The majority of the cuts are expected to come at ABC's TV stations and in technical operations for the broadcast and cable networks, the person with knowledge of the cuts who was not authorized to discuss details publicly said. ABC owns TV stations in several major markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia."

Other units of The Walt Disney Co. have undergone similar restructuring, the piece notes, adding that the latest steps are "part of a broader long-term effort to cut costs and slim the company down to better compete in a changing media landscape."

The report notes: "Earlier this spring, Disney's cable sports empire ESPN trimmed between 300 and 400 positions after its internal review. There have also been staff reductions at Disney's movie studio, consumer products and video game units."

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NBC Series Sinks to Ratings Low

A tough ratings summer for the broadcast networks continued last night as an NBC series sank to its all-time low for a Tuesday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. reports that NBC still rolled to a win for prime time.

"America's Got Talent" continued to lead the way for the Peacock Network, even while losing two-tenths of a point from a week ago to a 2.2 average in 18-49, a new series low for a Tuesday installment. The two-hour program was still easily the top show of the night in broadcast prime time.

Two other broadcast nets also aired two-hour unscripted programs. ABC's "Extreme Weight Loss" ticked up two-tenths from last week to a season-high 1.3 average in the 18-49 demo, while Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" dipped one-tenth to a 1.2.

ABC's and NBC's other hour of prime time, and all of CBS's prime-time lineup, consisted of repeat programming.

For prime time overall, NBC topped its broadcast rivals with a 1.8 average in adults 18-49, ahead of Univision (1.3 average), Fox (1.2), ABC (1.0) and CBS (0.8). NBC also claimed No. 1 in total viewers with 6.7 million, topping CBS (6.3 million), Fox (3.8 million), Univision (3.5 million) and ABC (3.4 million).

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Dr. Phil Taking Heat Over 'Ill-Advised' Question on Drunken Teen Sex

A move by Dr. Phil McGraw's show in advance of an episode on drinking and teen sex landed the talk show host in the middle of a controversy, the Los Angeles Times reports.

In an apparent attempt to provoke discussion on the topic, the "Dr. Phil" show reportedly sent out a tweet asking: "If a girl is drunk, is it OK to have sex with her? Reply yes or no to @drphil #teensaccused." The tweet has since been deleted.

"Twitter users responded, all right. But instead of answering yes or no, as Dr. Phil's show hoped, they expressed anger at the host for suggesting that it might be OK to have sex with someone without consent," the story reports.

A rep for the "Dr. Phil" show released a statement today saying: "This Tweet was intended to evoke discussion leading into a very serious show topic based upon a recent news story, hence the #teensaccused label. It was a poll question, not a statement or a joke. As he has maintained over many years, Dr. Phil believes that the position of those incapacitated in any fashion, be it drugs, alcohol, age or mental illness, can not and do not have the capacity to give their consent to anything, especially sex, which could have life-changing repercussions. This was a research post in preparation for a show, not a personal post, and Dr. Phil deleted it the second he saw it. It was clearly ill-advised. We sincerely apologize that it suggested anything other than what was intended, data gathering. As you can imagine, Dr. Phil is very upset that this happened."

The Times report adds: "A petition on, launched by sexual assault activist Carmen Rios, has asked that Dr. Phil 'publicly announce that he will produce and air a show that centers on survivors' voices and educates the public about the true definition of rape and sexual assault, as well as how to prevent it.'"

phil-mcgraw.jpgDr. Phil McGraw

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'70s TV Star Arrested -- Again

A performer who was a teen idol in the early 1970s was arrested early today -- and it's not the first time. CNN reports that David Cassidy, who starred in the TV series "The Partridge Family," faces a drunken driving charge after his arrest today in Schodack, N.Y.

"Cassidy, 63, was given breath and field sobriety tests after he failed to dim his car's headlights at a police checkpoint, according to the police report," CNN reports. "He was arrested when he blew a .10 in the breathalyzer device, the report said. The legal blood alcohol limit is .08."

Cassidy was reportedly released on $2,500 bail, with a court date set for Sept. 6.

"Cassidy, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, entered a no contest plea as a first-time offender in February 2011 to a drunken driving charge that followed a November 2010 arrest in Florida," the story reports. "He was sentenced to a year's probation and his driver's license was suspended for six months for that conviction. He also attended a DUI school, paid a $500 fine and served 50 hours of community service."

A career highlight for Cassidy was the 1970 Partridge Family hit "I Think I Love You." He went on to a solo singing career after the TV show wrapped in 1974, and continues to perform. He was seen recently playing an aging former teenage idol on the ABC Family series "Ruby & the Rockits."

david-cassidy-1972.jpgDavid Cassidy in 1972

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News Corp. Announces Global Ad Exchange

News Corp. today announced plans to launch a global programmatic advertising exchange that will allow marketers to "collectively leverage the company’s leading online and mobile products and rich first-party data for programmatic buying and real-time bidding," the company said in a press release, adding: "News Corp. properties will discontinue any remaining arrangements with third-party ad networks."

The company's announcement adds: "The News Corp. Global Exchange, which will roll out over the coming weeks, comprises more than 50 leading websites and mobile products, reaching millions of highly engaged subscribers and users worldwide via,,,,,, and more, including BallBall, the recently launched mobile app and website for exclusive European football highlights in Japan, Indonesia and Vietnam."

Said Robert Thomson, News Corp. CEO: "Content aggregators would like to commodify our content, while data scrapers would like to aggregate our audience -- the only way to reach the world's greatest content and the most prestigious and lucrative audiences is directly through our digital properties. Third parties are no longer invited to the party."

The company's announcement adds: "To support the private exchange, News Corp. will be working with The Rubicon Project as its global sell-side platform. News Corp. enjoys a strong direct relationship with its premier audience of affluent, engaged subscribers and users, while the exchange will allow advertisers to target a number of audience segments on a global scale via premium quality inventory and unique data."

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James Franco Invokes Classic Works of Art to Announce His New TV Series

Actor, director and writer James Franco took the wraps off plans for a new TV series, invoking the image of a famous artist, Vincent van Gogh, in an Instagram message Tuesday night teasing the program, Entertainment Weekly reports.

Franco uploaded a picture with his own face superimposed over a self-portrait of van Gogh, as seen below. The post reportedly included the message: “New TV show, with me, and a bunch of crazy stuff. Announcement tomorrow.”

Franco followed up this morning with details on the show -- and another reference to classic art.

EW reports: "A new hour-long weekly series called 'James Franco Presents' will premiere on Ovation this November; Franco will executive produce and host the series, which will deliver 'an unprecedented look at the fascinating projects and real-life adventures of Mr. Franco, "James Franco Presents" will document his provocative explorations of the world of art. From his gallery exhibits to his students’ films, the innovative series will also provide an exclusive opportunity to hear Mr. Franco’s point of view on his most-personal passion projects, most of which have not been seen by the public.' In addition to his own work, the show will highlight up-and-coming artists."

Robert Weiss, chief creative officer for Ovation, added in a press release: “James Franco is the ultimate artist, so partnering with James is a dream come true for Ovation. And, since Ovation’s mantra is ‘art is everywhere,’ James is the perfect person through whom to introduce viewers to a modern, more inclusive definition of art.”

The second Instagram post has Franco's face superimposed over the Mona Lisa, accompanied by the message that the show is a “new TV series about art. Duuuh.”

james-franco-art.jpgTeaser for "James Franco Presents"

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NBC News to Rebroadcast Historic 'Meet the Press' Program From 1963

NBC will mark the anniversary of a historic event by rebroadcasting its Aug. 25, 1963, episode of "Meet the Press" this Sunday, reports.

The telecast featured an interview with Martin Luther King conducted 50 years ago -- three days before he gave his "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial, the piece notes. In the interview, King talked about the upcoming march on Washington and the need for civil rights legislation, jobs and social equality.

The program will be re-aired in its entirety, minus a tease for the following week's broadcast.

"'Meet the Press Special Edition: Remembering the Dream' will air on NBC’s 10 owned-and-operated stations, New England Cable News, and numerous NBC affiliates," the story reports. "As of now, nearly 80 stations, covering more than 62% of the country, were on board, but in most places it will pre-empt local news or local political affairs shows. In most markets, the half-hour program will air immediately before or after the regularly scheduled broadcast of 'Meet the Press.'"

The regularly scheduled episode of "Meet the Press" will also focus on the anniversary of the Washington march, the piece notes.

Here's a clip:

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Fox News Channel Executive Fired for 'Financial Irregularities'

A top executive at the Fox News Channel has been fired by Roger Ailes for what the news company called “issues relating to financial irregularities, as well as for multiple, material and significant breaches of his employment contract," reports Bill Carter in The New York Times.

Brian Lewis was fired July 25 after serving as executive vice president of corporate communications for Fox News. The news shocked many in the cable news industry, the story adds.

Although Lewis had once been a close adviser to Ailes, his relationship with his boss had reportedly soured within the past year or so, Carter writes.

No other details were given, although Carter adds that Ailes is said to be working on a settlement with Lewis, who didn't respond to phone messages. Fox News said it had made the decision "after an extensive internal investigation of Brian Lewis’ conduct.”

Lewis joined Fox News in April 1996, just months before the channel debuted, notes The Hollywood Reporter.

THR adds: "Insiders say that their close relationship made it difficult for Ailes to cut Lewis loose, but the financial issues his actions raised -- details of which were not available Tuesday -- coupled with complaints about complacency and other matters, left Ailes feeling as if he had no other choice."

brian-lewis.pngBrian Lewis

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'Dancing with the Stars' Regular Will Sit Out Next Season

ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" is losing one of its regular performers for a season.'s Inside TV reports that professional ballroom dancer Kym Johnson will miss the 17th season of the dance competition.

The dancer will return for the 18th season in the spring, after working on a project in her home country of Australia, the story reports.

Johnson, 37, "is known for the regal presence she lends to traditional ballroom routines as well as an endlessly kind and patient demeanor in her dealings with celebrity partners," the piece reports.

kym-johnson.jpgKym Johnson

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Report: Authorities Are Suspicious About Death of 'That '70s Show' Actress

Both the Los Angeles County Coroner and the Los Angeles County Sheriff are conducting investigations into the cause of actress Lisa Robin Kelly's death, reports

The story notes that the "L.A. County Coroner never got a call from the rehab facility where Kelly died. A doctor at the rehab facility pronounced Kelly dead at 8:07 a.m. Thursday [Aug. 15, 2013], but we're told the Coroner didn't find out until noon, when an official from the office saw the post on TMZ."

It has been widely reported that Kelly died in her sleep late Wednesday, Aug. 14.

TMZ adds that the authorities became suspicious when the rehab doctor told the coroner that the former "That '70s Show" actress died from an embolism.

"Our sources say the Coroner scoffed at the doctor's conclusion, because there's no way to know if someone died of an embolism without performing an autopsy. In other words, you can't tell by looking at a dead body," the story reports.

The facility's doctor said Kelly was taking detox drugs, but because the toxicology report isn't completed, it's unclear whether those drugs played a role in her death, the story adds.

TMZ adds: "As for the embolism -- the Coroner still has not made a determination. But they ARE suspicious. And, we're told, the Sheriff has issued a security hold on the case, meaning no information can be released while the case is being investigated."

lisa-robin-kelly3.jpgLisa Robin Kelly

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NBC Renews Freshman Show

NBC has made the first renewal of the season for a freshman unscripted summer series. reports that the network picked up the summer game show "Hollywood Game Night" for a second season.

The show, hosted by Jane Lynch, will return either next summer or earlier. The program is produced by Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner, and is based on Hayes' actual game nights, the story notes.

"Not only is it a show we’re very proud of, it is easy watching and fun, and the repeats have been holding up quite well, retaining 85% of the premiere ratings, a quality we’re looking for," NBC president of alternative and late-night programming Paul Telegdy said.

He added that host Lynch was one reason the show was renewed. "She is someone who beyond fits the NBC family of talent on personal level and in terms of who she is and what she stands for; she is all kinds of awesome," Telegdy said.

The show features two regular people who join competing teams of celebrities to play games like charades and concentration. Celebrity contestants have included Minnie Driver, Nick Cannon, Matthew Perry, Amy Poehler and Martin Short.


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Emmy-Nominated TV and Film Director Dead at 95 -- His Long String of Credits Included 'Magnum Force,' 'Rawhide,' 'Gunsmoke,' 'The Harrad Experiment'

A prolific TV and film director who racked up a long string of credits in a career going back to the early 1950s has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Ted Post, who directed Clint Eastwood in the series "Rawhide" and in films including "Magnum Force," died Tuesday at 95.

Post directed 56 episodes of CBS's "Gunsmoke" as well as 90 episodes of the ABC soap "Peyton Place." The versatile director also helmed the 1981 pilot for the classic CBS police show "Cagney & Lacey," and the 1973 free love movie "The Harrad Experiment."

He received an Emmy nomination for best direction in 1955 for an episode of the CBS series "Waterfront."

Post started out in television in the early 1950s, working on anthologies such as "Armstrong Circle Theatre," "The Ford Television Theatre" and "Schlitz Playhouse." In the 1960s, he specialized in TV Westerns, including "Rawhide," "The Rifleman" and "Wagon Train." He also directed a number of episodes of the classic TV shows "Combat!" and "Twilight Zone."

His relationship with Eastwood, who played Rowdy Yates on CBS's "Rawhide," soured during filming of the 1973 film "Magnum Force," which featured Eastwood reprising his "Dirty Harry" role as Harry Callahan. Post later said in an interview that Eastwood was "feeling his oats as a budding director. He made editorial changes without consulting me.”

During the 1970s and 1980s, Post directed episodes of series including "Columbo" and miniseries such as "Rich Man, Poor Man." His last directing credit was the 1999 low-budget movie "4 Faces," the report notes.

ted-post.jpgTed Post

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'Breaking Bad' Actor Heads to NBC Comedy Series

An NBC sitcom is bringing in an actor from the AMC drama "Breaking Bad." The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Jonathan Banks, who plays Mike Ehrmantraut on "Breaking Bad," will tackle a multi-episode arc in the fifth season of NBC's "Community."

The actor will appear in the second episode of the upcoming season, and is slated to be in 11 episodes. His character will be Professor Pat Nichols, a New Jersey-born man who teaches criminology and who has a mysterious background including traumatic police and military work, the story adds.

The fifth season will mark the return of creator Dan Harmon, who was ousted as showrunner for the series' fourth season.

It's not the first time a "Breaking Bad" actor has appeared on the show. Giancarlo Esposito previously guest-starred as Gilbert Lawson, the piece notes.

jonathan-banks.pngJonathan Banks

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TBS Renews Three Shows

TBS has announced renewals for three series. reports that the cable channel picked up a second season of the Howie Mandel-produced hidden camera series "Deal With It," giving third-season orders to "Sullivan & Son" and "Men at Work."

"Sullivan & Son" has received a 13-episode order, after averaging 2.4 million viewers in Live + 7 delivery during the summer, the piece reports. The third season will air next summer.

"Men at Work" has been given a 10-episode order, after averaging 1.9 million viewers this spring. The show's third season will air in early 2014.

"Deal With It" also received a 10-episode order, after pulling an average 2.3 million viewers in its first season. The second season will air in 2014, the piece adds.

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Why Kanye West Reportedly Turned Down 'American Idol' Judging Spot

Kanye West reportedly turned down an offer to join the judges' panel on "American Idol," according to US Weekly.

The reason? He reportedly didn't want to "go that mainstream," the story says, citing an unnamed source. The Fox show had asked West to take up the third and final spot on the judge's panel, joining Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez, the piece reports.

"He didn't want to lose any street cred. So he turned it down," the source adds.

"Idol" producers are currently leaning toward songwriter and record producer Dr. Luke as the third judge, although they've met with three contenders:, Sean "Diddy" Combs and Rodney Jerkins, the story says.

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Al Jazeera America Plays Hardball With AT&T

Al Jazeera America is accusing AT&T of breach of contract, and the fledgling cable news channel is taking its beef to court. The cable channel said Tuesday it has filed a lawsuit against AT&T after AT&T dropped the network from its lineup, B&C reports.

AT&T stopped airing the channel Aug. 20, the day Al Jazeera America debuted as a 24-hour news channel.

In a statement, Al Jazeera America said: "Al Jazeera America made a decision to seek judicial intervention in its dispute with AT&T. Unfortunately AT&T's decision to unilaterally delete Al Jazeera America presented us with circumstances that were untenable -- an affiliate that has willfully and knowingly breached its contractual obligations. Accordingly, we had no choice but to take this action and to enforce Al Jazeera America's rights under its agreement with AT&T -- and to compel AT&T to do the right thing."

AT&T had said earlier that it wouldn't carry the channel because the two sides had failed to come to a carriage agreement, the story notes.

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'Parks and Recreation' Actress Developing Dramedy for CW

The CW has given a script order to an actress on the NBC series "Parks and Recreation" for an hourlong dramedy project. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Rashida Jones and her older sister, Kidada Jones, are developing the project, called "Ladyballs."

Rashida Jones played Louisa Fenn on the first two seasons of "Boston Public," which aired from 2000-2004 on Fox. She also had a run on NBC's "The Office," playing Karen Filippelli, and recently has appeared as Ann Perkins on "Parks and Recreation."

The new project is about two 20-something long-lost friends who reunite after realizing they've been dating the same man, the story says. After plotting to humiliate the cheater, they decide to start a business dedicated to helping people who have been wronged.

The project is from Warner Bros. Television, where Rashida Jones is under a two-year pod deal, the story adds. "Prep School Confidential" author Kara Taylor will write the script and co-executive produce.

rashida-jones.jpgRashida Jones

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It's a Family Affair: Kris Jenner Lines Up Grand Finale for Her Talk Show's Trial Run

Kris Jenner's talk show "Kris" ends its six-week trial run on the Fox-owned stations this Friday, and the Kardashian matriarch is calling on her high-profile family for the finale. reports that Kanye West will reveal a photo of his and Kim Kardashian's daughter North West on Friday's installment of the show. Jenner is Kim Kardashian's mother and the baby's grandmother.

"Kris wants a huge rating that day, because Fox will be making a decision on whether to pick the show up for a full series -- something she desperately wants," TMZ notes.

The photo of the baby was shown briefly on monitors during the show's taping -- but was taken down quickly to prevent audience members from snapping a photo, the story notes. The report adds that the image will appear for longer when the show airs on television.

The piece adds: "Kim and Kanye had initially decided to either give the first pics to a fancy magazine or release it on social media. They also toyed with the notion of raising money for charity, but ultimately decided that charity begins at home."

kris-jenner.jpgKris Jenner

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Simon Cowell Confirms Impending Fatherhood

After weeks of speculation about his relationship with New York socialite Lauren Silverman, Simon Cowell told the BBC that he's "proud to be a dad."

While reports have suggested that Silverman is pregnant with Cowell's child, neither had confirmed the reports.

The "X Factor" guru told the British broadcaster, "Things are changing in my life right now, for the better. She [Lauren]'s a very special girl."

As previously reported, Cowell allegedly broke up the marriage of Silverman and her husband, Andrew Silverman, and is listed as a co-respondent in the divorce filing, which alleges adultery. Cowell's representatives earlier this month had denied the report.

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CNN Shakes Things Up on the Washington Beat

CNN has announced staff changes involving some high-profile Washington correspondents, B&C reports. Among the personnel moves, Jessica Yellin, who has been working as the network's chief White House correspondent, is promoted to chief domestic affairs correspondent and will also be a substitute anchor.

"Dividing up the White House beat will be Brianna Keilar and Jim Acosta, who will be senior White House correspondents. Keilar has been a White House correspondent since 2008, and before that covered Congress, while Acosta has been national political correspondent," the story reports.

The piece adds that Rene Marsh, who has been reporting for CNN Newsource since last year, was named aviation and government regulation correspondent.

In a statement, CNN Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist said: "With these changes, CNN's Washington team of correspondents will be even better positioned to deliver on our core missions of breaking news and enterprise reporting."

jessica-yellin.pngJessica Yellin

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Fox Digs In Its Heels on 'Dads' After Show Is Accused of Racial Insensitivity

Fox is standing firm on the controversial new sitcom "Dads" after the show was accused of racial insensitivity. reports that the network turned down a request by the Media Action Network for Asian Americans that the pilot be reshot.

Much of the attention has been focused on a particular scene, as we reported last week.

Deadline reports: "In the scene, business partners Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi have Brenda Song’s employee character dress up in sexy Asian Schoolgirl costume and giggle demurely to please Chinese businessmen."

The Deadline report adds: "Down the road, Fox execs promised the organization, 'You will see that Brenda Song’s character is a strong, intelligent, empowered young woman who basically runs the company, and who almost always gets the upper hand.' They also said the show, from Seth MacFarlane and team, 'is a show that will be evocative and will poke fun at stereotypes and bigotries -- sometimes through over-the-top, ridiculous situations,' adding, 'The series is based heavily on the executive producers’ own lives, and the relationships between the fathers and sons on "Dads" will continue to be the main driver of show’s comedic sensibility. Everyone involved with "Dads" is striving to create a series with humor that works on multiple levels and "earns" its audaciousness.'”

Thumbnail image for Brenda-Song.pngBrenda Song

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'CSI' Bringing Back One of Its Most Popular Stars to Mark Milestone

CBS's mainstay crime series "CSI" is coming up on a milestone, and to mark the occasion the program is bringing back one of its most popular alums. The network announced that original cast member Marg Helgenberger will rejoin the show for its 300th episode.

Helgenberger will revive her character Catherine Willows, who will help solve a 14-year-old cold case. The episode is set to air Wednesday, Oct. 23.

"It’s back to the beginning for 'CSI’s' 300th episode, when the team investigates a homicide in the home of a reclusive former casino mogul who was a suspect in a similar crime in 2000," the network announced. "The CSI team recalls who they were and where they were in order to solve the cold case."

Helgenberger was with the show for its first 12 seasons. Season 14 premieres Sept. 25, with current cast members Ted Danson, Elisabeth Shue and George Eads.

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Shows on Three Major Broadcast Nets Match Their All-Time Lows -- the Other Big 4 Network Avoids the Problem by Airing All Repeats

One of the big 4 networks essentially avoided a tough summer Monday night on broadcast by airing all repeats in prime time, and while it ended up in fifth place at least it avoided the embarrassment suffered by the other three -- all of whom endured another round of all-time low ratings. reports that programs on CBS, NBC and ABC all matched their historic lows, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. CBS's "Under the Dome" (2.4 average in 18-49), NBC's "Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls" (1.2 average) and ABC's "Mistresses" (1.0) equaled the series lows delivered by their previous original episodes.

Fox got along with two repeats of "Raising Hope," a repeat of "New Girl" and a repeat of "The Mindy Project," with all of the programs delivering 18-49 demo numbers in the 0.6-0.7 range.

Someone had to win the night, and that honor went to CBS, with a modest 1.4 average for prime time in viewers 18-49. Other than "Dome," CBS went with all repeats.

NBC gave it a shot with fresh episodes of "American Ninja Warrior" (1.5 in the 18-49 demo, down one-tenth from a week ago) and "Siberia" (0.7, even with last week).

ABC led in to "Mistresses" with two hours of repeats.

When the dust settled, CBS led the way with its 1.4 average in adults 18-49, ahead of Univision (1.3 average), NBC (1.1), ABC (0.9) and Fox (0.7). CBS walked away with total viewers, averaging 6.2 million to lead ABC (3.9 million), NBC (3.5 million), Univision (3.4 million) and Fox (1.6 million).

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How Did Oprah's Lindsay Lohan Interview Stack Up Against Her Other Recent High-Profile Sitdowns?

Oprah Winfrey's post-rehab interview with actress Lindsay Lohan, aired to much fanfare Sunday on OWN, failed to rise to the level of some of Winfrey's other recent "celebrity in crisis" interviews, reports.

Lohan's interview on "Oprah's Next Chapter" averaged 892,000 total viewers at 9 p.m., nudging the figure just 7% above its recent average.

That compares with 3.5 million for Winfrey's interview with Bobbi Kristina, the daughter of Whitney Houston, and 3.2 million for her interview with fallen cycling star Lance Armstrong, Deadline reports.

With the 10 p.m. broadcast added in, the Lohan interview racked up 1.8 million viewers.

"Elsewhere on Sunday, the Season 6 finale of HBO’s 'True Blood' averaged 4.1 million viewers, up from the previous week but down 18% from the fifth-season closer last year and down 9% from the sixth-season premiere earlier this summer," the report adds. "For the night, including the 11 p.m. encore, 'True Blood' accumulated 5 million viewers, and the sixth season is averaging 10.6 million viewers in gross audience across different platforms."

The AMC drama "Breaking Bad" slowed down a little after its record-breaking premiere, the report notes, slipping 19% from week one to deliver 4.8 million viewers for week two.

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Who Is the Highest-Paid Late-Night Star? There's a New King on the Block -- Here Are the Top Earners in Other Dayparts, Too

The highest-paid host in late-night television is a name that has surpassed perennial leaders Jay Leno and David Letterman, reports

The top-paid name in late-night is "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart, who is now earning between $25 million and $30 million a year, the story reports. That puts him ahead of Leno, who took a pay cut last year and now earns about $20 million annually. Letterman is also said to earn about $20 million per year, as the license fee paid to Worldwide Pants, his production company, has recently been reduced.

The shift is the biggest in TV Guide's survey, the story notes.

"Stewart's ratings have made him worthy of his status as highest-paid late-night host," the story says. "His show is regularly the top-rated late-night program among viewers aged 18 to 49, the demographic advertisers covet the most, and is especially strong in the younger half of that age group."

As for prime-time TV, Ashton Kutcher has held onto his spot as the top-paid actor, earning a reported $750,000 per episode on CBS's "Two and a Half Men." On the drama side, Mark Harmon of "NCIS" is the top earner, at $525,000 per episode, along with a slice of the show's profits.

Across all genres, the highest-earning performer on TV is Judy Sheindlin, also known as Judge Judy. The star earns $47 million per year for her syndicated show "Judge Judy." Simon Cowell, meanwhile, is the top-earning TV mogul, with earnings of about $95 million from his ownership of "The X Factor" franchise, the story reports.

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'Rizzoli & Isles' Halts Production Following Actor's Death

TNT's "Rizzoli & Isles" has stopped production as its producers evaluate the show's options following the sudden death of actor Lee Thompson Young, reports Nellie Andreeva at

As previously reported, Young, 29, took his own life, reportedly dying from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was found after he failed to show up for work and his landlord discovered his body when he went to check on him.

Andreeva writes, "The producers of the series, in which Thompson played star Angie Harmon’s partner on the force, are currently evaluating whether to resume production [Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013] or go on hiatus while the cast and crew cope with Young’s death and writers figure out how to write off his character."

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Best-Selling Author -- His TV and Movie Projects Include 'Justified,' 'Get Shorty,' '3:10 to Yuma' and Many Others -- Dead at 87

One of the best-known contemporary American writers has died. The New York Times reports that the prolific crime novelist Elmore Leonard died today at his home in Bloomfield, Mich. Leonard was 87.

His work has been adapted into many film projects over the years, and is the basis of the current FX series "Justified." Other well-known works by Leonard include "Get Shorty," "Out of Sight" and "Rum Punch," which became "Jackie Brown" on the big screen.

Early in his career Leonard wrote Westerns, and his short stories have become films including "3:10 to Yuma" and "The Tall T."

Other novels by Leonard have included “Freaky Deaky,” “Glitz” and “La Brava.”

"To his admiring peers, Mr. Leonard did not merely validate the popular crime thriller; he stripped the form of its worn-out affectations, reinventing it for a new generation and elevating it to a higher literary shelf," Marilyn Stasio writes in the New York Times obituary.

She adds: "Reviewing 'Riding the Rap' for The New York Times Book Review in 1995, Martin Amis cited Mr. Leonard’s 'gifts -- of ear and eye, of timing and phrasing -- that even the most indolent and snobbish masters of the mainstream must vigorously covet.' As the American chapter of PEN noted, when honoring Mr. Leonard with its Lifetime Achievement award in 2009, his books 'are not only classics of the crime genre, but some of the best writing of the last half-century.'”

Asked why he continued in his 80s to turn out a book a year, Leonard is quoted as saying: “It’s fun.”

"It was in that spirit that Mr. Leonard, at 84, took more than a casual interest in the development of one of his short stories, 'Fire in the Hole,' for television," Stasio writes. “'Justified,' as the FX series was called, won a Peabody Award in 2011 in its second season and sent new fans to 'Pronto' (1993) and 'Riding the Rap' (1995), two novels that feature the series’ hero, Raylan Givens (played by Timothy Olyphant), a federal marshal from Harlan Country, Ky., who presents himself as a good ol’ country boy but is 'not as dumb as you’d like to believe.'

"Approving of the way the show was working out, Mr. Leonard wrote his 45th novel, 'Raylan,' with the television series in mind. Published in 2012, it featured three strong female villains and gave its cowboy hero license to shoot one of them."

Leonard was hospitalized after suffering a stroke July 29, as we reported previously.

elmore-leonard.pngElmore Leonard

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TV Legend Has Close Call Before Being Pulled From Burning Car

One of the legends of television had a close call Monday when his Jaguar caught fire, but a Samaritan pulled over and helped 87-year-old actor Dick Van Dyke escape the burning car, reports

Jason Pennington, who rescued the "Mary Poppins" actor, said he was driving along the 101 freeway in Los Angeles when he saw a smoke-filled car on the side of the road, with an elderly man hunched over the steering wheel.

He discovered Van Dyke struggling inside, and then pulled him out as the fire spread. While the actor was disoriented by the fire, he didn't need medical attention, and his wife picked him up soon afterward, the piece notes.

The car was later completely engulfed in flames. His wife, Arlene Van Dyke, 41, later tweeted that the actor was fine, the New York Daily News reports.

Van Dyke starred on two long-running CBS shows: "The Dick Van Dyke Show" in the 1960s and "Diagnosis: Murder" in the 1990s.

TMZ posted this brief video showing Van Dyke's car burning by the roadside:

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'Game of Thrones' Actress Adopts Her Direwolf

Sophie Turner, who was 13 when she was cast as Sansa on HBO's "Game of Thrones," adopted the dog who portrayed her direwolf -- a large, fearsome wolf -- on the show, according to a report in the U.K.'s Coventry Telegraph.

"Growing up I always wanted a dog, but my parents never wanted one. We kind of fell in love with my character’s direwolf, Lady, on set," Turner, now 17, tells the publication.

Because the direwolf dies in the show, the production wanted to find a new home for the animal that played her, she added. Turner and her family adopted the dog after production of "Thrones" wrapped following season one.

"My mum persuaded them to let us adopt her," she says. The dog, called Zunni, is a Northern Inuit dog, according to the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

sophie-turner-and-zunni.pngSophie Turner and Zunni

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'Houdini' Miniseries Gets Green Light; Oscar Winner to Play the Famed Escape Artist

The miniseries "Houdini" is moving forward, with an Oscar-winning lead actor and a television channel now in place. B&C reports that History has greenlighted the project, which will feature actor Adrien Brody in the title role.

The four-part series, which will begin production this fall, will track magician and escape artist Harry Houdini as he travels from poverty to worldwide acclaim, the story notes. The project is co-produced by Lionsgate and A+E Studios, with Gerald Abrams and Andras Hamori executive producing.

Brody won an Oscar in 2003 for "The Pianist."

adrien-brody.jpgAdrien Brody

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Verizon FiOS Seizes on CBS-Time Warner Cable Dispute as a Chance to Go After CBS Employees

Verizon FiOS is betting that CBS employees are angry enough with Time Warner Cable -- amid the blackout caused by a contract dispute between CBS and the cable operator -- that they'll switch TV providers, reports Joe Flint in the Los Angeles Times.

The blackout of CBS stations in Los Angeles, New York, Dallas and other markets is now in its third week, with little progress despite ongoing negotiations between the two parties.

"In a memo to staffers, CBS said Verizon FiOS is offering employees 'exclusive discounts and special promotions.' Verizon is even going to send sales teams to CBS offices in those cities this week to sign up new customers," Flint writes.

Flint adds: "During previous disputes between a programmer and distributor that led to a blackout, it was not unusual for a rival distributor to try to use the situation as an opportunity to pick up dissatisfied consumers."

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Drama Project in the Works at MTV Based on Upcoming Book

MTV has announced a new drama project based on an upcoming book. reports that the cable channel has tapped Gigi Levangie to co-write the project based on her book "Seven Deadlies."

The book is about a student who discovers she has to defeat classmates who carry the bloodlines of the seven deadly sins, the story notes.

Levangie, who previously worked on adapting her novels "The Starter Wife" and "Maneater" as miniseries, will work with Stacey Title and Jonathan Penner on the project. Her book will be published this fall by Blue Rider/ Penguin.

gigi-levangie.pngGigi Levangie

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CBS Settles Dispute Over ABC's 'Glass House'

CBS has settled a dispute with the producers of ABC's "The Glass House," which CBS had alleged was a knockoff of its reality show "Big Brother," The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq., reports.

CBS last year sued ABC and some executives who worked on the show, but then pulled its copyright infringement claim against the network after a federal judge denied CBS's effort to halt ABC from airing the show, the story notes.

"Instead, CBS decided to continue pursuing 'Glass House' executive producer Kenny Rosen, ABC vp alternative programming Corie Henson and 'Glass House' producer Michael O'Sullivan in arbitration," the story reports.

CBS on Monday said it will receive financial compensation as part of the settlement.

"The producers have admitted that one of them used confidential 'Big Brother' manuals in the production of 'The Glass House,' and they have expressed regret for using this material. In addition, those involved have pledged not to misappropriate CBS trade secrets in the future," CBS said in a statement.

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FX Developing Autobiographical D.L. Hughley Comedy

FX is working on a comedy series starring D.L. Hughley and based on the comedian's life, reports The project is similar to FX's "Louie," starring Louis C.K., in that it will be autobiographical and feature a stand-up comedian.

The untitled project will focus on Hughley's life experiences and on his roles as a radio host and family man.

"Hughley has been married for more than 25 years and has three children. He had a New York radio show a couple of years ago and recently signed on to host a nationally syndicated afternoon drive show," the story notes.

dl-hughley.jpgD.L. Hughley

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NBC Wins Bidding War for Mermaid Comedy

After joining in a "multiple-network bidding war," NBC has bought a mermaid comedy from the executive producer and showrunner of "The Big C," Jenny Bicks, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

The comedy tracks a beached mermaid who ends up working in a Miami bar with a group of people who have also lost their way. NBC has given the project a put-pilot commitment, with Bicks on board to write and executive produce the project.

"I am thrilled to be working with NBC, and p.s., mermaids totally exist!" Bicks told the publication.

The commitment comes about two weeks after Bravo passed on Bicks' effort to get a "Heathers" follow-up to television, the story adds. "The Big C" recently ended a four-season run on Showtime.

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Move Over, Oprah: NBC Program Is Getting in the Book Club Business

An NBC program will try an idea that worked well for Oprah Winfrey -- and one that the NBC show itself has tried in the past. The New York Times reports that NBC's "Today" is starting a book club, part of a goal to position the show as a meatier program than the lighter "Good Morning America," the ABC program that's currently in first place among morning shows.

The book club isn't a first for TV or for "Today," however. Winfrey found success with her Oprah's Book Club, which started in 1996 on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and could bring instant best-seller status to its book choices. "Today," meanwhile, had its own version of a book club about a decade ago, but that effort faded, the publication notes.

The first book club pick will be "The Bone Season," a debut novel by Samantha Shannon, the story notes. The book is set in 2059, with its heroine a "dreamwalker," who steals information by breaking into other people's minds, according to Amazon. The book goes on sale today.

New selections will be chosen every four to five weeks, and the books will receive stickers on their covers indicating they are part of the book club.

The books will be chosen by a team of "Today" co-hosts and producers, and will include both fiction and nonfiction, and new titles and classics, the story says, citing Jaclyn Levin, the senior producer responsible for books and authors on the program.

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Former Disney Star Commits Suicide

A rising star who broke out on the Disney Channel before going on to a successful career as a television actor has committed suicide, reports.

The publicist for Lee Thompson Young, 29, confirmed the actor's death today, telling the website: "It is with great sadness that I announce that Lee Thompson Young tragically took his own life this morning ... Lee was more than just a brilliant young actor, he was a wonderful and gentle soul who will be truly missed."

Young surfaced as the title character in Disney's "The Famous Jett Jackson," which aired from 1998-2001. He has been a regular on "Rizzoli & Isles," playing Det. Barry Frost, and gained attention as running back Chris Comer in the 2004 movie "Friday Night Lights."

Young reportedly died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"We're told when he didn't show up to work this morning, staffers called the landlord of Young's L.A. home to check up on the actor," TMZ reports. "We're told ... when the landlord opened the door, he discovered Young's body."

Young also appeared in guest roles on a number of TV shows, including "CSI: NY," "Scrubs" and "Smallville."

lee-thompson-young.jpgLee Thompson Young

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'Big Brother' Tumbles as Fox's Football Carries the Night; NBC Finale Sinks

Fox rolled to a win in the Sunday night broadcast ratings with its coverage of preseason NFL football, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. reports that Fox's football game between the Colts and Giants averaged a 1.9 in viewers 18-49. CBS's "Big Brother" came out slightly ahead of it with a 2.0 average to rank as the top show of the night on broadcast, but that was down four-tenths of a point from a week ago.

CBS's "Unforgettable" equaled last week's series low, a 1.1 average in 18-49. "60 Minutes" delivered a 0.9.

ABC's "Whodunnit?' finale ticked up three-tenths from last week to a 1.4 average in adults 18-49, while "Secret Millionaire" climbed one-tenth to a 1.2.

NBC's two-hour finale of "Crossing Lines" fell to a series low of 0.4 in the 18-49 demo.

For prime time overall, Fox's 1.9 average carried the night in adults 18-49, followed by CBS (1.2 average), ABC (1.0), Univision (0.7) and NBC (0.5). CBS came out on top in total viewers, averaging 6.3 million to lead Fox (5.8 million), ABC (4.0 million), NBC (2.3 million) and Univision (2.0 million).

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'X Factor' Judge Joins 'Glee'

A singer-songwriter, musician and actress who has been working as a judge on "The X Factor" is joining the Fox musical drama series "Glee." The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed confirms that Demi Lovato will appear in a major role during the show's fifth season.

"As first reported by TVLine, Lovato will have a recurring role as Dani, a New York-based struggling artist who becomes a friend to Rachel (Lea Michele) and Santana (Naya Rivera)," THR reports. "She'll also have frequent interactions with Adam Lambert's mysterious character, details of whom are being kept under wraps. The 'American Idol' alum and 'X Factor' judge/former Disney Channel star will have several musical numbers together in Lovato's reportedly six-episode stint."

Lovato's work on Disney Channel's "Sonny With a Chance" wrapped up in January 2011, the report notes. Her shooting for "Glee" will work around her "X Factor" schedule.

"The casting marks the latest example of synergy with Glee's Thursday night companions and the show's first casting since the death of star Cory Monteith on July 13," the report notes.

"Glee" returns for the fall season Sept. 26.

demi-lovato.pngDemi Lovato

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Singer for Rock Band in Violent Abduction

The singer for a successful U.S. rock band was reportedly abducted and beaten over the weekend before being dumped on train tracks, reports.

Alex Band, the lead singer for the band the Calling, was nabbed while he was walking down a street in Lapeer, Mich. Band was reportedly in town for a music festival and was walking from his hotel to a nearby mini-mart when the incident happened around 4 a.m. Sunday.

"We're told ... during the stroll, a van pulled up alongside Alex and the people inside snatched the singer right off the street," TMZ reports.

The report adds: "Eventually, sources say, the abductors dumped the badly beaten rocker on some nearby train tracks.

After a bandmate noticed Band was missing, a search party was formed, according to the report, with Band found a short time later.

Band, 32, was robbed during the incident. He was later taken to an emergency room, where he was treated and released. His condition was unknown.

The Calling is known for its 2001 hit "Wherever You Will Go."

alex-band.jpgAlex Band

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One Network Has Three of the Worst Bets Among New Fall Shows, Based on a Forecasting Method That Proved to Be Accurate Last Season -- Here Are the Predicted Best and Worst Performers

NewMediaMetrics is sizing up the new fall shows using a forecasting method that worked well last season. reports that the firm is using attachment theory to predict which new shows will succeed and which will fail, gathering indications of audience reception based on how immediately people connect with a show's premise.

Last season, the company predicted that NBC's "Revolution" would score well with viewers, and it turned out to be one of the fall's biggest successes.

The story notes, "Networks must be taking their checkbooks out, right? Not exactly. NewMediaMetrics has worked with NBC, Fox and FX in the past, as well as a number of other cable networks. But currently, only a few cable stations -- such as Ovation TV, Fuse TV and TVOne -- employ the company."

As for how it works, the piece notes, "After networks unveil their new shows to advertisers at their May upfront presentations, NewMediaMetrics and a marketing partner present loglines describing show concepts to 3,000 people across the U.S. They rate their emotional attachment to an idea on a scale of 1 to 10. For returning shows, only the show title is provided."

So which new shows will do well in the fall? NewMediaMetrics ranks CBS's "The Crazy Ones," starring Robin Williams, as the best bet for the 2013-14 season, followed by NBC's "The Michael J. Fox Show" and Fox's "Sleepy Hollow."

The three worst-performing shows, according to the prediction, will be three ABC shows: "Super Fun Night," "Trophy Wife" and "Back in the Game."

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J.Lo's Boyfriend Slips Up, Reveals What's Up With Her Rumored Return to 'Idol'

In an apparent slip, the boyfriend of superstar singer and former "American Idol" judge Jennifer Lopez revealed that Lopez will be returning to "Idol," although Fox hasn't officially announced her hiring, reports E! Online.

Casper Smart was asked by E! News whether Lopez is returning to the program, and he answered, "Yes," the story notes.

"Apparently Smart thought that Fox had already made the announcement. (Nope, that was all you, sir. The network, meanwhile, had no comment.)," the story reports.

If Lopez does return, she will join Keith Urban, who is the only judge returning from the show's 12th season. Several other names have been mentioned as possible new judges, including former contestants such as Jennifer Hudson and performers such as the Black Eyed Peas', the piece adds.

Former judges Mariah Carey, Randy Jackson and Nicki Minaj aren't returning to the show.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for jennifer-lopez.jpgJennifer Lopez

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Coming Soon to Food Network: Paula Deen

Paula Deen will be back on Food Network in the fall. People magazine reports that the embattled TV chef will appear in some episodes of "Home for Dinner," a show that's hosted by her son Jamie.

The episodes were taped before a controversy over Paula Deen's use of the N-word led to a decision by Food Network not to renew her contract.

"Just got word #HomeforDinner with mom is being aired in September. I'll keep y'all posted. But, you know, watch it anyway," Jamie Deen wrote on Twitter.

Paula Deen, 66, is living a quiet life in her hometown of Savannah, Ga., after the media storm and loss of business deals that followed her admission about using the racial epithet, the story adds. It's not clear whether she'll make a full-time return to television, the article notes.

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Katie Couric Explains Herself After Kim Kardashian Unloads on Her

Katie Couric sought to tamp down a brewing social-media feud sparked by a comment Couric made to In Touch Weekly that questioned why the Kardashians are so popular, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"I don’t understand -- why are they so famous? I think it’s mostly teenage girls that are interested," Couric said to In Touch, according to the report.

Kardashian responded by posting a photo of a congratulatory note sent by Couric on the birth of Kardashian's baby, along with the hashtags, "#IHateFakeMediaFriends #MayIHumblySuggestYouNotSendGiftsThenTalkS--t."

Couric replied in a statement that she was just answering a question that was posed by a reporter, and hadn't meant to hurt Kim's feelings.

"I was responding to a reporter's question, and explaining how I'm intrigued by the public's fascination with her family. I didn't mean to hurt her feelings. The gift is genuine, and I'm happy for Kim and Kanye," she said.

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Lindsay Lohan Tells Oprah Winfrey What Her Addictions Are

Actress Lindsay Lohan told Oprah Winfrey in a Sunday night interview on OWN that she's an addict, but said her addictions are to alcohol and chaos, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Lohan said during her interview with Winfrey that while she has used cocaine, her addiction is to alcohol, the story notes. She reportedly said she lied about her cocaine use, admitting that she has used the drug about 10-15 times, although she has previously said she used it only three or four times.

"I was terrified of being judged," she said in explaining why she lied about it. Lohan added that she snorted but never injected the drug.

She said she took cocaine because it "allowed me to drink more. It was a party thing. People would have it, and I'd do it."

During the interview, Lohan "remained steadfastly penitent, hit all the predicted recovery notes, and very carefully avoided anything that could be construed as a bombshell," points out Lindsey Weber on New York Magazine's Vulture blog. The piece notes: "She also resisted the urge to complain about her parents Dina and Michael (whose dramatics have put them in just as many tabloids as their famous daughter), saying that they were currently 'not toxic.'"

According to The Reporter, when Winfrey asked whether Lohan is "addicted to chaos," the actress replied, "I think so. Yeah, it was a comfortable choice to me. What was chaotic to other people in the outside looking in was normal. There is something to be said about me learning to be comfortable with things just being OK."

Lohan said she's ready to work to regain the trust of directors, producers and other people in the industry, after her legal troubles and rehab visits.

"[I'm ready] to get the thing that has made me happiest my whole life back, which is to work really hard, stay focused and prove myself," she said. "I have to regain trust in people, in my career, that had doubts, and I fully respect that on their behalf. As long as I stay honest in myself and do the work I'm willing to do and have been willing to do and am doing, then nothing can stand in my way. I am my own worst enemy, and I know that."

lindsay-lohan4.pngLindsay Lohan

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Sons of John Mellencamp Arrested in Attack on Teenager

Two sons of rock singer John Mellencamp were booked in an alleged attack on a teenager in southern Indiana, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

Hud Mellencamp, 19, was booked early today in a Monroe County jail on felony battery charges and later released, the story reports. Speck Mellencamp, 18, was released Friday on similar charges.

The brothers are accused of punching and kicking a 19-year-old man.

"Authorities say Speck Mellencamp entered the porch of a man's Bloomington home and punched him in the face July 29, believing that man had hit him earlier that evening," the story reports. "Court documents say the brothers and another 19-year-old man 'punched, kicked and stomped' the man, who suffered facial injuries."

John Mellencamp lives near Bloomington, the report notes, adding that his publicist declined comment.

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'Once Upon a Time' Casts Little Mermaid

The ABC drama series "Once Upon a Time" has cast its Little Mermaid. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that actress JoAnna Garcia will take on the role of the Disney princess.

Garcia is expected to appear in two episodes in the upcoming third season, the story notes. The appearance of the character was first revealed at Comic-Con.

It's likely that the Little Mermaid persona will be slightly different from the 1989 animated classic about the mermaid who gives up her voice to become human.

Garcia most recently starred in the short-lived NBC comedy "Animal Practice" and was a regular on The WB's "Reba."

JoAnna-Garcia.pngJoAnna Garcia

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MSNBC Moves Ed Schultz Back to Weeknights

MSNBC continues to try to find the right spot in its programming lineup for Ed Schultz. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the cable news channel is moving Schultz back to weeknights, where he will have the 5 p.m. slot starting Aug. 26.

"The move comes less than five months after 'The Ed Show' moved from 8 p.m. Monday-Friday to 5-7 p.m. on weekends. That announcement last March was preceded by months of media speculation that Schultz was losing the lead-off slot in MSNBC's prime-time lineup. Schultz made the announcement on his show, saying there were 'a number of personal and professional reasons' for the move to weekends," THR reports.

MSNBC President Phil Griffin told the publication: "Ed has proven himself no matter where we've put him."

THR adds: "The latest schedule shift displaces the first airing of 'Hardball with Chris Matthews'; currently Matthews' show airs at 5 p.m. with a repeat at 7 p.m. Beginning Aug. 26, 'Hardball' will have one run at 7 p.m. 'Hardball's' 7 p.m. show traditionally gets higher ratings than the 5 p.m. premiere. And Griffin expects those numbers to improve after the move. The move makes MSNBC's prime-time lineup all new for the first time since the network's shift to a political focus."

Said Griffin: "We've grown a lot in the last decade." Griffin added that Schultz "laughed a little" when Griffin called to ask him to return to weeknights, THR notes.

Griffin told the publication that the latest move "makes us whole in early prime. Obviously we had to make sure we had the right show. 'The Ed Show' is the right show."

"The changes also comes as MSNBC is battling ratings declines in July and its worst second-quarter finish in prime time since 2009," THR reports. "Like it did in the second quarter, the NBCUniversal-owned cable news channel finished July behind Fox News Channel and CNN. In ratings for the total day, MSNBC was also bested by CNN sister channel HLN in the second quarter. With a newsy second quarter marked by the Boston Marathon bombings and the Jody Arias trial, CNN and HLN both saw ratings increases. CNN was up 50 percent in total viewers and 78 percent in viewers ages 25-54."

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for ed-schultz.jpgEd Schultz

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Project From 'Parenthood' Actress Lands at Broadcast Network

One of the stars of the NBC dramedy series "Parenthood" has received a script commitment for a TV project based on her debut novel. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the CW is moving forward with the project, based on actress Lauren Graham's book "Someday, Someday, Maybe."

Graham will write the script and executive produce the drama for Warner Bros. Television, while Ellen DeGeneres will also executive produce along with Jeff Kleeman through the pair's A Very Good Production, the story adds.

The drama is about a woman with half a year left to make good on her plan to find success as an actress in New York City. The commitment means Graham is returning to the network where she starred on "Gilmore Girls."

Lauren-Graham.jpgLauren Graham

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Is NBC Softening Its Stance on Hillary Clinton Miniseries? Statement Hints That the Project May Not See the Light of Day

NBC has issued a response to a decision late last week by the Republican National Committee to ban the network, along with CNN, from the 2016 GOP presidential debates over a pair of Hillary Clinton projects. reports that NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt said in a statement released Friday: “The Hillary Clinton movie has not been ordered to production, only a script is being written at this time. It is ‘in development,’ the first stage of any television series or movie, many of which never go to production. Speculation, demands, and declarations pertaining to something that isn’t created or produced yet seem premature.”

"The statement was issued not long after word got out that Fox TV Studio, which had been in early stages of talks to produce the miniseries, would not move ahead with the project about the former first lady and secretary of state," the report notes.

Characterizing the Clinton miniseries as a promo, the RNC voted Friday to implement the ban, with CNN included because of a planned documentary focused on Clinton.

Deadline reports that NBC "took on this headache when Greenblatt made the Clinton miniseries one of his big announcements at his Summer TCA Press Tour appearance on July 27. Network execs like to come to Press Tour with these kinds of bright shiny lights, to distract the press so they don’t ask too many uncomfortable questions about ratings and some of their new series pickups, etc. Greenblatt announced that the network was preparing the four-hour miniseries as part of an ambitious slate of longform projects with which he hopes to make noise and boost ratings."

The report adds: "In its announcement, NBC said the miniseries would look at 'Clinton’s life as a wife, mother, politician and cabinet member from 1998 to the present' and that the script 'will begin with Clinton living in the White House as her husband is serving the second of his two terms as president.' Diane Lane already has been cast for the lead role; the script was being written by Courtney Hunt, writer and director of 'Frozen River.'”

In a separate article this morning, Deadline reports that NBC News White House correspondent Chuck Todd, who has been vocal about his unhappiness with the Clinton project, "seemed in a much better mood this morning, after NBC Entertainment said late Friday the mini might never be programmed. Appearing on MSNBC’s 'Morning Joe,' Todd said the Republication National Committee’s announcement Friday morning that it would block NBC from the GOP primary debates because of the miniseries ... was 'smart' if it limited the number of GOP primary debates, weeding out fame seekers."

Todd reportedly said on the program: “About half the Republican field from 2012, if they didn’t have the debates, they would not have run. They simply ran for exposure -- to get a talk show … to get a radio deal, a column, or a deal with Fox [News]. It wasn’t really because they thought they had a viable shot.”

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Morgan Freeman Working on Drama Series for CBS

CBS is working on a drama series from "Joan of Arcadia" creator Barbara Hall and Oscar winner Morgan Freeman, reports The project is about a fictional female secretary of state, the story reports.

The drama will look at the personal and professional life of an unconventional secretary of state as she juggles a complicated family life and office politics, the story notes. Hall is writing the project, which comes from CBS TV Studios and Freeman's Revelations Entertainment.

The development comes as NBC is dealing with its own secretary of state project, a miniseries about Hillary Clinton. As previously reported, the NBC project has raised the ire of the Republican National Committee, which voted last week to ban the network from the 2016 GOP presidential primaries. CNN, which is also working on a Clinton project, was also banned by the RNC.

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NBC Wins Greg Berlanti Project in Bidding War

NBC won a bidding war over a new drama project from Greg Berlanti's Berlanti Productions, Kapital Entertainment and writer Jeff Rake. reports that the Peacock Network won the project, "The Mysteries of Laura."

The project is based on a Spanish series called "Los Misterios de Laura," and is about a female homicide detective with evil twins, the story says. Rake is writing the adaptation and will executive produce with Berlanti and Kapital's Aaron Kaplan.

It's the first time the producers, who have created more than 20 pilots between the two of them in the past few years alone, have been paired together on a project, the story adds.

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Fox TV Studios Bows Out of Hillary Clinton Project

Fox TV Studios, which had been in talks to step in as producer of the Hillary Clinton miniseries that is in the works at NBC, is out of the picture, reports.

"The two companies had been in preliminary talks, with the two sides far apart, and were never able to bridge the gap on the deal terms," the story reports. "The economics of TV movies and miniseries are challenging, which is why very few production companies take on such programs these days. That includes NBC’s own studio, Universal TV, which would not produce NBC’s longform projects, including 'Hillary.'"

Diane Lane is attached to play Hillary Clinton in the miniseries. The project has been a rallying cry for the Republican National Committee, which voted today to ban both NBC and CNN from 2016 GOP primary debates because both networks have Hillary Clinton projects in the works.

NBC News Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd has called the Clinton miniseries “a total nightmare” for the network's news division.

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Comcast Extends NBCU Chief Steve Burke to 2018, With Hefty Salary Hike

Comcast has given a big contract extension to NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke. reports that Burke's contract, which was set to run out at the end of 2014, will now run through August 2018.

Burke gets "an 18% increase in his base salary to $2.6M while his annual cash bonus opportunity stays at 300% of his base salary, the company says in an SEC filing," Deadline reports. "Burke also secured a $5M performance-based bonus described as an 'inducement' for him to stay and 'on account of Mr. Burke’s outstanding work in integrating NBCUniversal and its businesses into Comcast, and making extraordinary progress in improving its businesses and results.'”

The bonus carries the contingency that Burke must remain with the company for 13 months, while Comcast's operating cash flow for the year ending June 2014 must be at least 101% of what it was the preceding year, the piece notes.

Deadline adds: "Last year Burke’s compensation package came to $26.3M including $2.2M salary, $4.3M in stock awards, $4.7M in option awards, $7.2M in non-equity incentives, $5.3M increased value of pension value, and $2.6M in other compensation."

steve-burke.jpgSteve Burke

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Emmy-Nominated Actor Dead at 77

A veteran film and television actor who was one of those familiar faces even if many viewers didn't know his name has died. The U.K.'s Daily Mail reports that August Schellenberg, known for a string of Native American roles including the mentor Randolph in three "Free Willy" movies, died Thursday at 77.

The Canadian-born Schellenberg died in Texas after a long battle with lung cancer.

"Born of Swiss-German and Mohawk descent, the actor leaves behind a legacy of playing Native American characters on both TV and film," the story reports. "He got his start at the National Theatre School of Canada, taking stage roles before soon transitioning to screen work."

He was nominated for an Emmy in 2007 for his supporting role as Sitting Bull in the HBO miniseries "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee." He also played Sitting Bull in the 1996 TBS production "Crazy Horse."

"He was also nominated for and won several Canadian screen awards, including a Genie for his performance in the much-praised period film 'Black Robe' and a Gemini Award for the TV movie 'The Prodigal,'" the report notes.

He most recently appeared in a 2012 Canadian feature, "The Last Movie." He also appeared alongside Christian Bale and Colin Farrell in the 2005 release "The New World."

"He took great pride in his heritage and supported several charities, such as The American Indian College Fund and The National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, in light of that," the Daily Mail reports. "He also gave acting seminars around North America, notably at the Centre for Indigenous Theatre and York University, both based in Toronto."

august-schellenberg.pngAugust Schellenberg

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CBS Rides 'Big Brother' to Thursday Win

CBS's "Big Brother" saw its numbers dip from a week ago, but the show was still a comfortable No. 1 in broadcast prime and CBS still cruised to a win for the night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. reports that "Big Brother" was down 4% from last week, settling for a 2.3 average in 18-49. CBS filled out the rest of its prime-time lineup with repeat programming and coasted to a 1.7 average for the night.

Second-place ABC saw its numbers pumped up by NFL preseason coverage: "Wipeout" was up 78% from last week with a 1.6 average in the 18-49 demo; "Motive" rose from a 0.7 a week ago to a 1.3; and "Rookie Blue" shot up 56% to a 1.4.

The story carries this disclaimer: "There were numerous local pre-emptions for NFL preseason football on ABC, CBS, and NBC. CBS was pre-empted or delayed in approximately 5% of the country due to local broadcasts of NFL preseason football. Ratings are tentative, likely inflated, and subject to greater change than usual."

NBC's only fresh program was "Hollywood Game Night," which ticked up 18% from last week's series low to a 1.3 average in viewers 18-49.

Fox went with an all-repeat lineup and finished in fifth place.

For prime time overall, CBS's 1.7 average led the way in the 18-49 demo, followed by ABC (1.4), Univision (1.2), NBC (1.2) and Fox (0.6). CBS took a narrow win in total viewers with 6.1 million, ahead of ABC (5.6 million), NBC (3.9 million), Univision (3.3 million) and Fox (1.7 million).

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GOP Slaps Ban on CNN, NBC for 2016 -- 'The Media Overplayed Their Hand This Time'

The Republican National Committee voted today to ban the television networks NBC and CNN from hosting GOP presidential primary debates in 2016, reports. The move keeps up GOP pressure on the networks in response to their plans to air programming focused on Hillary Clinton.

“The media overplayed their hand this time," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. "It was so obvious even liberals saw it. And some reporters at CNN and NBC are upset at the Democrat donors in their companies who made the decision to run these Clinton promos."

TheWrap reports: "The RNC’s vote at the party’s Summer Meeting in Boston bars the party or its officials from either partnering or sanctioning debates with either network. The party made good on its threats to do so if the networks didn’t reverse course. Priebus says the networks are giving Clinton, a potential 2016 Democratic candidate, an unfair boost over Republican candidates. He has used the issue to rally the GOP base by returning to a familiar theme: The media is biased against Republicans."

Priebus added: “We’re done putting up with this nonsense. There are plenty of other outlets. We’ll still reach voters, maybe more voters. But CNN and NBC anchors will just have to watch on their competitors’ networks."

As previously reported, Preibus sent a letter earlier this month to NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt and CNN President Jeff Zucker in which he threatened to boycott the networks if they moved forward with the Clinton projects. The networks responded by saying the RNC's concerns were "premature."

In his letter, Priebus wrote: “It’s appalling to know executives at major networks like NBC and CNN who have donated to Democrats and Hillary Clinton have taken it upon themselves to be Hillary Clinton’s campaign operatives."

TheWrap adds: "Part of the effort was a petition drive targeting the two networks. The party also offered its own 'four part mini-series,' entitled, 'Will the Hillary Films Include…' Each video in the series included a press release and an ad on the RNC’s website."

The story also notes: "Plans for the series caused some internal debate at NBC. While NBC News issued a statement saying it was separate from NBC entertainment, both Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell on the news side have questioned the wisdom of the miniseries. NBC has talked with Fox about producing the series."

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New Fox Show Accused of Racism, Asked to Reshoot Scenes

Fox has been asked to reshoot some scenes in the pilot for a new program. Writing on, Lisa de Moraes reports that the Media Action Network for Asian Americans asked Fox to reshoot some "racist" scenes in the pilot for Seth MacFarlane's live-action "Dads."

Fox said it's in the process of responding to the request.

As previously reported, critics at the recent Television Critics Association press tour took a dislike to the new show for some of the same reasons that MANAA is protesting the show -- notably, its apparent racist humor. The show includes an Asian-American actress, Brenda Song, who is asked to dress up as a sexy Asian schoolgirl to impress Chinese clients.

"Word of the kerfuffle got out [Thursday] afternoon when MANAA took the issue to the press," de Moraes writes. "In case you didn’t get the screener MANAA saw back in July, 'Dads' is about two video game developers (Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi) with cranky old dads (Martin Mull and Peter Riegert), who move in to their place. Sometimes the dads say stupid racist things. Mull’s character, for instance, calls Asians 'Orientals,' and says, of Chinese people, 'There’s a reason "Shanghai" is a verb.'”

After TV critics ripped the show TCA, "Fox Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly placated them somewhat by telling them the show will need to recalibrate and find the right comedic balance. MANAA wants the pilot recalibrated before it premieres," de Moraes writes.

She adds: "In particular, the group took issue with a scene in which the sons are about to meet with Chinese businessmen and ask their Asian employee Veronica (Brenda Song) to dress up as a sexy schoolgirl. Green’s character suggests she also giggle demurely -- 'which is more a Japanese stereotype,' MANAA noted. 'Supposedly all was made right when the Chinese agreed to the deal after the "creepy interpreter" sent a picture of his penis to Song, who, predictably, said that it was tiny,' the organization complained in its letter, a copy of which was sent to the media [Thursday] afternoon."

MANAA noted that one of the producers of "Dads" made the point at the screening last month that the racial and sexist humor comes from the dads, and that being from an older generation they “don’t know any better.”

"However, MANAA noted, the whole sexy, giggling Asian schoolgirl thing came from the sons." de Moraes writes. "The organization also noted that, 'given the level of hostility we felt in the "Dads" pilot, perhaps it should come as no surprise' that series co-creator Alec Sulkin had tweeted on the day of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, 'If you wanna feel better about this earthquake in Japan, Google "Pearl Harbor death toll."' (Sulkin later took down that tweet, explaining apologetically, in another tweet: 'Yesterday death toll = 200. Today = 10 thousand. I am sorry for my insensitive tweet. It’s gone.' On the bright side, he got to recycle the gag, tweeting shortly after Hurricane Sandy struck New Jersey, 'If I you want to feel better about the floods in New Jersey, google MTV’s Jersey Shore.')"

The report adds: "MANAA founding President Guy Aoki told Deadline the problems with the handling of race in a sitcom aren’t unique to Fox, citing CBS’s '2 Broke Girls,' in which, he claimed, the Asian guy is frequently the butt of the jokes but never the black guy in the diner. 'They are fearful of black people who are angry,' Aoki said of the TV industry, adding, 'At this point they are not fearful of angry Asian people. That’s why [MANAA] exists.'”

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MTV's 'Video Music Awards' Will Shed Some Dead Weight

MTV's "Video Music Awards" announced a format change for this year's ceremony. The New York Post reports that the telecast won't feature a host this year.

Instead, the program will focus on more performances and what a representative calls "surprise comedic moments," the story reports.

The telecast will air at 9 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25, from Brooklyn's Barclays Center. The show has previously ditched a host on three other occasions: in 2004, 2007 and 2011.

Skipping a host doesn't appear to have hurt ratings, with the 2007 and 2011 telecasts both reporting bigger audiences than the year before. Last year's "VMA" telecast, hosted by Kevin Hart, was watched by only 6 million viewers, fewer than half of the previous year's total, the piece adds.

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Death of 'That '70s Show' Star Being Called a 'Mystery'

Law enforcement officials are reportedly calling the death of former "That '70s Show" star Lisa Robin Kelly a "mystery," reports.

"There were no drugs or alcohol in her room, no vomit in her airway, and no obvious sign of trauma," the story reports, noting that the coroner is performing an autopsy.

As previously reported, Kelly, 43, died in her sleep Wednesday night at a rehab facility where she had voluntarily checked in to a treatment program. The actress had struggled with alcohol-related problems and had a number of DUI arrests and allegations of spousal abuse.

TMZ says Kelly "was not taking any withdrawal drugs at the time she died -- at least that's what the rehab facility told law enforcement ... TMZ has learned."

The report adds: "Our law enforcement sources tell us ... reps from the L.A. County Coroner and L.A. County Sheriff's homicide came to Pax Rehab House in Altadena, CA Thursday afternoon, and officials from Pax said unequivocally ... they did NOT give Lisa any drugs."

The report notes that Kelly's boyfriend took her to the hospital Sunday, "where she registered a .34 blood alcohol level, which is borderline fatal. Lisa was admitted to Pax the next day, and she had been to rehab dozens of times before -- yes, dozens."

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Actor Reveals He Was Offered 'Doctor Who' Role -- and the One-Word Reason He Turned It Down

An actor who says he was offered the role of Doctor Who has revealed why he turned down the offer. The U.K.'s Express reports that British actor Bill Nighy told the publication that he was offered the role and turned it down because the character carries too much "baggage."

Nighy, 63, who was featured as an art historian in a 2010 episode of "Doctor Who," doesn't elaborate on the "baggage" in the report. He says he kept mum about the offer when it was made, although he doesn't disclose when he received the offer. The BBC show recently tapped actor Peter Capaldi as the 12th incarnation of the doctor.

"I will say that I was approached. But I didn't want to be the Doctor. No disrespect to Doctor Who or anything, I just think that it comes with too much baggage," he said. He added, Capaldi is "a marvelous actor. He'll be very good as the Doctor. He'll bring a lot of wit and dry humor. He's elegant and he looks great."

Nighy has a wide range of film, TV and theater credits, including appearing in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 1" and many other feature films. He won a Golden Globe for the BBC TV movie "Gideon's Daughter" in 2007.

Bill-Nighy.jpgBill Nighy

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Lawsuit by Veteran Meteorologist Accuses L.A. Station of Ageism and Sexism

A major TV station in Los Angeles has been sued by a veteran meteorologist who claims that the station didn't consider him for a job because it was seeking a young, attractive woman, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq.

Meteorologist Kyle Hunter, who filed the lawsuit against KABC-TV Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, claims he applied for the job in June 2011 but wasn't interviewed, nor were "multiple qualified persons age 40 and over" who applied but also were not interviewed.

Hunter, who describes himself as having worked at stations in Los Angeles and San Diego and holding a bachelor's and master's degree in meteorology, claims that the station's general manager and news director "had previously decided to hire a young, attractive female for this position -- preferably a blonde who physically resembled Indra Petersons," who had previously held the role.

The lawsuit alleges that Bri Winkler, who was hired for the job, didn't submit a formal application and that she was a recent college grad who had worked on-air for one year in Amarillo, Texas, the story says. Jumping from a small market like Amarillo to Los Angeles is unusual, the suit claims.

KABC didn't immediately respond to requests for comment, the story adds.

This isn't the first time around for Hunter with a discrimination lawsuit. THR reported separately in March 2012 that Hunter filed a similar suit against CBS Broadcasting and L.A. stations KCBS-TV and KCAL-TV. Hunter was represented by high-profile attorney Gloria Allred at that time.

That earlier THR story reports: "Hunter alleges 'that within the past few years, KCAL and KCBS decided to hire young attractive women as weathercasters in prime time rather than men in order to induce more men to watch their prime time newscasts,' according to the suit. That means there was no place for Hunter, an over-40 male meteorologist with impeccable credentials, he says."

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Upcoming Event Could Trigger End to Time Warner Cable's CBS Blackout

The CBS blackout on Time Warner Cable could be ended by an event that's coming up soon. Writing in The New York Times, Bill Carter says the end of the blackout could be triggered by the Sept. 8 start of the National Football League season.

That means Time Warner Cable subscribers in New York, Dallas, Los Angeles and other markets would have three more weeks without CBS programming, the piece notes.

"I really think these guys are going to need the NFL to add a sense of urgency to this,” RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank told Carter.

Carter adds, "Neither side in the standoff has mentioned any progress over the last several days. Both have continued to level charges and accusations of blame for Time Warner Cable’s decision to remove CBS’s stations in areas the cable company covers, which include subscribers in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas."

One reason the kickoff of the NFL season may spark a deal is because customers could become more vocal at at that point, providing more leverage to CBS in the negotiations, the story points out.

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John Oliver Wrapping Up His Run on 'Daily Show' -- so How Did He Do?

John Oliver wraps up his eight-week tenure this week as fill-in for Jon Stewart on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," and The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Oliver kept the ratings steady during Stewart's hiatus.

The show's ratings remained unchanged in the young, male demographics, the story notes. With men 18-34 and adults 18-34, the series kept its .97 rating.

The report adds: "Yes, there were modest slips from summer 2012. The average viewership dropped 13 percent from 1.492 million viewers to 1.299 million viewers in Live+Same Day returns, while posting even smaller losses in adults 18-49."

But it's difficult to compare this summer with last, given that the shows were a few weeks out of the Republican and Democratic national conventions and running up to the 2012 U.S. presidential election, the piece notes.

The story adds: "So where does this leave Oliver? While few would argue that the correspondent didn't perform as host -- his tenure has been met, by and large, with a warm critical response -- he also benefited a great deal from the apparently robust 'Daily Show' brand. And nearly 15 years after that brand became synonymous with Jon Stewart, it seems like it might be capable of performing just as well without him."

john-oliver.pngJohn Oliver

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Harriet Tubman 'Sex Tape' Pulled From YouTube

A controversial parody "sex tape" based on the historic abolitionist Harriet Tubman has been pulled by Russell Simmons from his All Def Digital YouTube channel, with Simmons offering an apology for the video, reports the New York Daily News.

The video features Shanna Malcolm as Tubman, who engages in sex with her master as a way to blackmail him into helping to create the Underground Railroad, the story says.

The video sparked an outcry and a petition on, which condemned the parody.

"Not only does the Harriet Tubman 'sex tape' make a mockery of the history of transatlantic slavery, Harriet Tubman's memory in particular and the painful reality of sexual exploitation and terror in the lives of enslaved women, but the video also contributes to rape culture by perpetuating the myth that women only 'pretend' not to enjoy being forced into having sex against their will," the petition says.

Simmons said his "buddies" at the NAACP called and asked him to take down the tape.

"In the whole history of Def Comedy Jam, I've never taken down a controversial comedian," he wrote in a statement on Globalgrind. "When my buddies from the NAACP called and asked me to take down the Harriet Tubman video from the All Def Digital YouTube Channel and apologize, I agreed."

He added, "Lastly, I would never condone violence against women in any form, and for all those I offended, I am sincerely sorry."

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Al Jazeera America to Feature 'Less Opinion, Less Yelling' -- and Fewer of Two Other Things You Are Used to Seeing on Other News Channels

Al Jazeera America interim chief executive Ehab Al Shihabi said the new network will have "less opinion, less yelling and fewer celebrity sightings," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Along with fewer celebrities, the network will also feature fewer commercials than its rivals, with only six minutes per hour as compared with "15 to 17 minutes" for other networks, Shihabi said. He added: "We are not infotainment."

Shihabi made the comments Thursday on a conference call with reporters, as the network gears up for its debut next Thursday, the story adds.

The story notes, "Prior to launch, the network has positioned itself as a alternative to CNN and touted unbiased reporting in contrast to partisan-leaning MSNBC and Fox News. The network now boasts a staff of nearly 900 and is set to appear in 49 million households. "

Channel President Kate O'Brian, formerly a senior VP at ABC News, acknowledges that Al Jazeera America enters a "fairly busy media landscape," but adds: "The American viewer is looking for a particular set of things that they just can't find in the marketplace, and that's unbiased coverage, in-depth, quality coverage and telling stories that they don't really hear in any of the news product that's out there right now."

The report notes: "As much as $600 million has already been spent by Al Jazeera Media Networks to launch the U.S. cable news network, sources told The Hollywood Reporter last month."

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'Sex and the City' and '90210' Creator Developing New Comedy

The creator of "Sex and the City," "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Melrose Place" is working on a new comedy called "Younger," reports. The new show from Darren Star, which is in the works for TV Land, is about a 40-something mom who decides to lie about her age in order to restart her career, the story reports.

The project is based on a novel of the same name by Pamela Redmond Satran, the story notes. The New Jersey housewife at the center of the program pretends she's in her 20s, getting a makeover and securing a job at a hot publishing company.

"Darren has brought to life some of the most dynamic and indelible characters on television today," TV Land Executive Vice President of Development and Original Programming Keith Cox said. "We are beyond excited to work with him. Between 'Sex and the City,' 'Beverly Hills, 90210' and 'Melrose Place,' he has created some of the most iconic and beloved shows in the history of television."

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'Glee' Will Resist Temptation to Have Finn Hudson Die of an Overdose

"Glee" creator Ryan Murphy says the character Finn Hudson won't die of a drug overdose, although he tells it was an idea that producers considered. Hudson was played on the Fox series by Cory Monteith, who died of drug overdose in July, as reported previously. He was 31.

"But we have decided that we’re not going to have him pass from that. Basically, what we’re doing in the episode is we are not telling you yet, or maybe not at all, how that character died," Murphy told the publication in an interview.

He added, "The idea being, how somebody died is interesting and maybe morbid, but we say very early on in the episode, 'This episode is about a celebration of that character’s life.' That might be weird for some people, but it felt really exploitative to do it any other way."

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Major Breakthrough: Sony Reportedly Close to Deal to Carry Viacom Cable Networks, Such as MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, on an Internet-Based Over-the-Top Pay Service That Would Be Available on Sony's PlayStations

Sony "has reached a preliminary deal with Viacom to carry the media giant's channels, such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, on its planned pay-TV service, people familiar with the matter said," report Amol Sharmaa and Shalini Ramachandran in The Wall Street Journal. [NOTE: The WSJ is behind a pay wall and may charge you to read this story.]

The article continues, "Like its technology rivals, Sony is planning to stream cable channels and on-demand programming over the Internet, posing new competition for cable, satellite and phone companies that sell subscription TV services."

The story also notes, "Sony would beam the service to Sony devices like its PlayStation gaming consoles and Sony TV sets, said a person familiar with the situation. It is hoping to launch the service early next year."

The New York Times follow-up to the WSJ story says Sony might even start the service before this year is out.

Sony already offers a number of third-party services on the almost 25 million PlayStation 3 consoles that it has sold in the U.S. Those services -- mostly delivered to the PlayStation via an Internet connection -- include Netflix and Amazon's streaming service. But unlike Sony's new service, these services deliver shows, not a live feed to a cable channel or network.

The WSJ article adds, "Still, the economics of a new pay-TV service are difficult. Media companies typically charge higher prices to new entrants than they do to established distributors. TV channels typically get paid on a per-subscriber basis, but media executives say they would be likely to seek a minimum revenue guarantee in online TV deals in case Sony or [another over-the-top service] don't build a large subscriber base."

The Times story notes, "If Sony’s service (or another one like it) gets off the ground, incumbents like Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon are also likely to sell their own versions, furthering this new type of competition." For example, Comcast, the nation's largest MSO, has a very robust service called Infinity that allows Comcast subscribers to watch TV online. For years it has been speculated that if over-the-top subscription services become a reality, Comcast could allow non-Comcast cable subscribers to access Infinity over the Internet for a price.

The Times story also says, "Of course, all of the alternatives being dreamed up in Silicon Valley and elsewhere are B.Y.O.B. -- Bring Your Own Broadband. Video is data-intensive, and data caps or stiffer monthly charges for broadband imposed by companies like Comcast could inhibit the establishment of virtual cable services. In a recent interview, the departing Time Warner Cable chief Glenn Britt acknowledged as much when he was asked about Intel’s interest in TV.

“ 'The reality is, if everybody watched TV over the Internet, and we were out of the TV business, then we would have to recover more money from the Internet service,' Mr. Britt said."

Given the importance of a potential Sony-Viacom pact, we urge you to click on the links above and read both the WSJ and NY Times stories in full.

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Oprah Talks About the Struggles of OWN and Her Symptoms of a Nervous Breakdown

Oprah Winfrey has "made several public revelations about OWN that could complicate Discovery chief David Zaslav’s current spin campaign that her cable channel is no longer a disaster," report Lisa De Moraes and Nikki Finke at

The story continues, "First, Oprah told People magazine that last summer she suffered 'the symptoms of a nervous breakdown' and reached her 'breaking point' because her Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) was struggling very publicly. On Thursday night, Aug. 15, 2013, Winfrey told host Andy Cohen on Bravo’s 'Watch What Happens Live' that her biggest personal ‘aha’ moment would have to be last year when she was 'getting all the schadenfreude from the media cause OWN wasn’t where I wanted it to be at the time.' ”

The article also notes, "Zaslav’s joint venture with Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Inc, OWN, had a wobbly 2011 start and weathered more problems in 2012 even though Discovery advanced it hundreds of millions of dollars. (Exactly $509M total as of June 30th of this year and, while Discovery isn’t required to lend any more, it might do so if needed, according to Zaslav.)"

Furthermore, according to the article, "Oprah revealed to People that during an interview she was conducting with anti-African child slavery activist Jason Russell (videomaker of 'KONY 2012'), 'Jason was talking about having a nervous breakdown and I was thinking, "I have those symptoms."' A few days later she was preparing to record voice-overs for a couple of her shows on OWN when she hit a breaking point. 'I remember closing my eyes while I was reading. I thought, "I cannot have another thing enter my brain." I needed to pull back.' After years of advising viewers how to face a crisis head-on, 'this forced me not to just talk the talk. Failure is a great teacher. I knew this intellectually. But it’s another thing if you’re living it.'"

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'That '70s Show' Star Dead at 43

One of the stars of the Fox comedy series "That '70s Show" has died. Entertainment Weekly reports that it has confirmed actress Lisa Robin Kelly, who played Eric's older sister Laurie on the first five seasons of the show, is dead.

"Kelly passed away last night at a rehab facility, her agent, Craig Wyckoff, tells EW," the story reports. "The 43-year-old had voluntarily checked into treatment, 'where she was battling the addiction problems that have plagued her these past few years.' (Most recently, she was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving this past June.)"

Wyckoff said in an email to the publication: “I spoke to her on Monday and she was hopeful and confident, looking forward to putting this part of her life behind her. Last night she lost the battle.”

Kelly struggled with alcohol-related problems and a series of encounters with law enforcement, including a number of DUI arrests and allegations of spousal abuse. reports that she died in her sleep Wednesday night. "We're told Lisa's new boyfriend brought her to rehab again on Monday ... but she went into cardiac arrest late Wednesday night and could not be saved," the story reports.

TMZ adds: "Sources tell us Lisa had been in and out of rehab centers hoping to kick her alcohol problem ... and most recently fell off the wagon after a huge dispute with her estranged husband Robert Gilliam. Sources say ... Kelly's estranged husband beat her last May to obtain residual money from her show. He was convicted of domestic battery last month and sentenced to 3 years probation. He also served 35 days in jail for the beating."

Kelly reportedly filed for divorce from Gilliam last month.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for lisarobinkelly.jpgLisa Robin Kelly

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Fox Wins Night as Key NBC Series Falls to Season Low

Fox came out on top in a hotly contested Wednesday prime-time ratings battle among the broadcast networks as franchise reality shows on three networks came within a whisker of each other's numbers in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights. reports that Fox's "MasterChef" came out just ahead of the others, registering a 2.2 average rating in viewers 18-49, edging NBC's "America's Got Talent" (2.1) and CBS's "Big Brother" (2.0). "MasterChef" and "America's Got Talent" went head-to-head at 9 p.m., while "Big Brother" aired at 8 p.m.

For NBC's "Talent," that 2.1 was a season low and a 16% decline from last week. Elsewhere on NBC, "Camp" equaled its series low with a 1.0 in the 18-49 demo, losing 9%.

"Big Brother," the only fresh program aired by CBS in Wednesday's prime-time block, was down 9% from a week ago.

ABC aired mostly repeats, with a fresh installment of "The Lookout" matching last week's 0.9 average in 18-49.

Prime time overall saw a close race, as Fox edged its rivals with a 1.6 average in adults 18-49, topping NBC (1.5 average), CBS (1.4), Univision (1.2) and ABC (0.9). NBC turned the tables in total viewers, winning the night with 6.3 million, ahead of CBS (5.6 million), Fox (4.1 million), ABC (3.3 million) and Univision (3.1 million).

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'House' Actor Sparks Twitter War

A former "House" actor waded into a controversy with an online response to some breaking news this week. reports that Kal Penn -- also known for his performances as Kumar in the "Harold and Kumar" stoner movies, generated an angry response on Twitter with a defense of New York's controversial stop-and-frisk policy.

The policy was ruled unconstitutional this week by a federal judge. Penn, who will star in the CBS comedy "We Are Men" and previously served in the Obama administration, sent out a tweet linking to an op-ed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who defended the stop-and-frisk practice.

Critics pointed out that other cities had lowered their crime rates without the controversial practice, while some on Twitter wondered whether Penn's account had been hacked, the story says. Eventually, Penn stopped replying to the tweets and moved on.

kal-penn.pngKal Penn

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'Girlfriend in a Coma' Back on Track at NBC

The NBC comedy project "Girlfriend in a Coma" is back on track after signing on "The Devil Wears Prada" director David Frankel, reports

The project has been dormant for four months, after star Christina Ricci left the show in March, the story says. The pilot is now moving toward production with Frankel signed on, while original cast members Miranda Cosgrove and Daniel Stern are still on board, the story says.

The project is based on Douglas Coupland's book of the same name, which tracks a woman who was in a coma for many years and wakes to find she has a 17-year-old daughter, played by Cosgrove. Stern plays the girl's dad.

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Cable Series Shatters Ratings Records

A cable series returned last night with a season premiere that shattered a number of cable viewership records. The premiere episode of season four of "Duck Dynasty" on A&E delivered 11.8 million total viewers, making it the No. 1 nonfiction series telecast in cable history, A&E announced.

The program also set a cable record for a nonfiction series in the demo of adults 25-54 with 6.3 million viewers, the network announced, along with cable records for all key demos.

"The episode was also watched by 6.3 million adults 18-49 and 3.0 million adults 18-34, becoming the number one series telecast in network history among all key demos," A&E announced. "The episode is poised to be the #1 show on television, broadcast or cable, last night."

The premiere was up from the record-setting season three premiere by 37% in total viewers, 29% in adults 25-54 and 26% in adults 18-49, A&E added.

Please click here to read the full announcement from A&E.

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Veteran CNBC Correspondent Leaves the Network

A longtime correspondent for CNBC is leaving the cable financial news channel and taking a job with an online operation. Business Insider reports that today is the last full-time day at CNBC for senior stock correspondent Herb Greenberg.

Greenberg will return to, where he was senior columnist from 1998-2006.

"In his new role, Greenberg will be the editor of Herb Greenberg's Reality Check, a subscription newsletter for investors focused on risk," the publication reports. "In a post on Facebook, Greenberg explained that his CNBC contract was about to expire and that he and his wife decided to move back to San Diego."

Greenberg plans to continue as a contributor to CNBC, and reportedly will put in a camera to enable him to report from his home in California, along with visiting the studio part time.

Elisabeth DeMarse, CEO and Chairman of TheStreet, said in a statement: "We're thrilled Herb Greenberg is returning to TheStreet. No one is more passionate and does more work around companies and industries than Herb does. He sparks serious conversation to help investors separate speculation from reality by shining a spotlight on risks. Our goal is to educate investors, and help investors make money. But avoiding losing money is just as important as making it -- and nobody does it better than Herb."

Greenberg added: "I'm excited to be returning to my online journalism roots. A lot has changed over the years, but one thing hasn't: TheStreet stands out as an independent, edgy voice. It remains a perfect place to give investors a dose of reality -- and remind them of the risk many choose to ignore."

herb-greenberg.pngHerb Greenberg

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Howard Stern on Suicide of 'Bachelor' Star Gia Allemand: 'I Think There Are Pressures'; Celebrities Open Up About Reality Star's Death

Howard Stern was one of a number of celebrities expressing sorrow over the suicide of "Bachelor" alumna Gia Allemand. E! Online reports that Stern talked about Allemand's death Wednesday night during taping of "America's Got Talent" in New York.

"I actually watch The Bachelor. I remember who she was. And I think there are pressures -- I don't know that had anything to do with her suicide of course," Stern is quoted as saying. "Some people wake up in the morning and think everything in their life is gonna be rosy and go great, and life doesn't work that way. It's an unrealistic expectation, so I was sad to hear about it."

The publication reports separately that multiple sources have confirmed that Allemand apparently hanged herself Monday night.

"Her boyfriend, NBA player Ryan Anderson, discovered her at her home on Monday night and called 911, according to a statement released by Allemand's rep on behalf of her family, who previously confirmed that she was found after an apparent suicide attempt," E! reports.

Allemand was taken off life support Wednesday, as we reported previously.

Stars of ABC's "Bachelor" franchise, along with other celebrities, were reacting with sorrow to the news of her death. Among the responses noted by E!:

"Melissa Rycroft said in a statement to E! News: 'Gia was such a joyous person to be around. She was the person that in any room drew a crowd because she exuded positive energy and friendliness. This is beyond tragic and my thoughts and prayers go out to her loved ones.'

"Tenley Molzahn also wrote: 'What I can say about Gia is that she was a beautiful girl - her heart shined through her smile. She was a little spitfire and lived life to the fullest. You look at her Twitter or Instagram and she didn't ever seem to have a dull moment. My heart is heavy, along with many others today. She leaves us with a beautiful example of how to live life in faith, in joy, and in beauty. My deepest condolences to her boyfriend, her family, and her closest friends. Let's celebrate Gia, and look at the way she lived as an inspiration. Many, many sad people today.'

"Jason and Molly Mesnick tell E! News in a statement: 'Our hearts are so heavy in hearing the news on Gia. With everything that comes along with the Bachelor, the biggest gain that each of us walks away with is a new "family", and our family has lost a beautiful soul far too soon. She will always be in our hearts, and our thoughts & prayers go out to Gia's family, friends, and loved ones.'"

gia-allemand3.jpgGia Allemand

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WWE Superstar Comes Out as Gay

A WWE superstar has come out as gay, making him the first openly gay wrestler on the organization's roster, reports

Darren Young, who has appeared on "NXT" and "SmackDown," told TMZ about his sexual orientation when a reporter from the publication asked whether a gay wrestler could succeed at WWE.

"Absolutely. Look at me. I'm a WWE superstar and to be honest with you, I'll tell you right now, I'm gay. And I'm happy. I'm very happy," Young said.

Given the testosterone-driven world of WWE, the announcement is comparable to coming out in the NFL, the story says.

"For the record, Darren is now the first openly gay wrestler ever at WWE ... and the first headlining wrestler ever to come out while still signed to a major promotion," TMZ reports. "Other pro wrestlers have been rumored to be gay, but that's it ... just rumors."

TMZ posted this video of the interview:

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When Warren Buffett Buys and Sells Stock, It Pays to Listen -- He Bails on Gannett, But Has Hopped Onboard the Stock of Another Media Company

Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate run by billionaire Warren Buffett, just filed its 13F, detailing its holdings in various stocks at the end of the second quarter, reports Business Insider.

The story reports: "According to the filing, Berkshire entered into new positions in Dish Network, purchasing 547,312 class A shares, and Suncor Energy (17,769,457 shares) in the second quarter."

The article adds that Buffett's Berkshire sold its entire stake in Gannett (1,740,231 shares).

Bloomberg's story on Buffett's second-quarter activity notes, "Buffett and his deputies spent the most on stocks in a quarter since 2011."

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Why Piers Morgan Is Demanding $10,000 From 'Daily Show' Host John Oliver -- Here's the Video at the Center of His Demand

"The Daily Show" interim host John Oliver is on the hook for $10,000 after making an offer on the show about fellow British television host Piers Morgan, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

Oliver was poking fun at Morgan, who once told CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta that he had fallen off a Segway in 2007 after taking prescription Vicodin. The "Daily Show" segment was focused on Gupta's recent turnaround on marijuana, with Gupta making a documentary called "Weed" about the drug.

"I would like to personally offer $10,000 in reward to anyone who can bring me footage of Piers Morgan falling off that Segway," Oliver said.

Morgan provided the footage himself, and aired it on his own CNN show on Tuesday, the Times notes.

"Mock all you want, Mr. Oliver, but, my fellow Brit, your punch line did carry with it a bona fide offer, to anyone, you said, who could produce the video of me falling off a Segway, and by the way, breaking five ribs, collapsing a lung and nearly expiring from life," Morgan said.

He added, "But now it's time for you to suffer pain. Ten thousand dollars worth of pain in fact. I assume the money will be delivered by the end of business day tomorrow. If not, I'll make sure that Mr. Stewart, now he's back from his lengthy movie-making sabbatical, will take it out of your measly little salary."

Here's the clip showing Morgan's Segway mishap:

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NBC Buys Drama Based on Life and Work of Best-Selling Writer

NBC has bought a drama project called "Sparks," which is based on the case files and life of renowned neurologist and writer Dr. Oliver Sacks, reports

The project, executive produced by "Medium" creator Glenn Gordon Caron and Michael London of "Milk," has received a commitment plus penalty, the story says.

Sacks is the author of a number of best-selling books, including "Awakenings," which became an Oscar-nominated film starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams, and "Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain," which formed the basis of the "Nova" documentary "Musical Minds."

Here's a TED Talks piece featuring Sacks talking about hallucinations:

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Yet Another Tina Fey Comedy Sparks Bidding War

Just a day after news broke about a Tina Fey project in the works at NBC, another comedy effort from the "Saturday Night Live" alumna is making headlines.

A network bidding war has erupted over a new project from Fey and Matt Hubbard, which is described as a comedy set at a former all-girls college, reports The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

NBC, Fox and other networks are interested in the project, which will look at what happens when the college starts admitting men, the piece adds.

Fey and Hubbard will executive produce under Fey's four-year overall deal with Universal Television, although she doesn't have plans to act in the show.

Like the NBC project, the new one comes from Fey's company Little Stranger.

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Why Miss Universe Host Andy Cohen Is Boycotting This Year's Event

Andy Cohen, who has been the regular co-host of the Miss Universe Pageant, said he's skipping this year's pageant because it's being held in Moscow, Russia, where a controversial anti-gay law has been passed, reports E! Online.

Cohen, the host of Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live," told his pageant co-host of the past two years, E! News' Giuliana Rancic, that he turned down the gig because "discriminatory policies make it unsafe for the gays who live there and gays coming to work or visit."

"The law is that anyone under suspicion of homosexuality can be arrested," he said. He added that he "didn't feel right as a gay man stepping foot into Russia."

It's not clear who will replace Cohen at the event, the story adds.

"Implemented last month, a controversial new law banning 'propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations around minors' bars the public discussion of gay rights and relationships anywhere children might hear it," the story reports. "The law has been condemned by Russian and international human rights groups as highly discriminatory."

The report adds: "The anti-gay propaganda law quickly stirred up controversy, with people calling for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia to gay bars in Los Angeles planning 'vodka-dumping' protests."

andy-cohen.pngAndy Cohen

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Lindsay Lohan Joins Series Focused on Self-Destructive Lead Character

Lindsay Lohan will be a part of a TV series that focuses on a self-destructive lead character whose career was derailed at least in part by drugs. reports that Lohan was cast in the series finale of HBO's "Eastbound & Down." The fourth season of the show, which HBO has said will be its last, is set to premiere Sept. 29. (Spoiler alert.)

The show revolves around washed-up Major League pitcher Kenny Powers, played by Danny McBride. Lohan will play the adult version of Powers' illegitimate daughter on the show, and is currently taping on set, the story says.

The casting marks a significant opportunity for Lohan, as it's her first real acting role since she left rehab. A spinoff could be in the works if she's funny in the role, the piece notes.

The story adds, "Kenny's baby seemed destined to become Lindsay Lohan. If you recall, Kenny stashed his bong and all sorts of sex toys in the baby's room at the end of last season."

Thumbnail image for lindsay-lohan.pngLindsay Lohan

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'Orange Is the New Black' Losing a Leading Actress

Netflix's "Orange Is the New Black" is losing one of its leading actresses. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Laura Prepon will depart the show as a series regular for its second season.

Prepon will return to wrap up her storyline, and the show is open for her to return to the series, the story notes. It's not clear whether her exit is her decision or a creative choice from executive producer Jenji Kohan, the piece adds.

The actress portrays Alex, the sometimes love interest of Taylor Schilling's Piper. Prepon starred on "That '70s Show" and the short-lived NBC series "Are You There, Chelsea?"

Thumbnail image for laura-prepon.jpgLaura Prepon

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Same-Sex Marriage to Get Treatment on Popular TV Show

A hit show on a major broadcast network is set to tackle the issue of same-sex marriage. reports that the ABC comedy "Modern Family" will focus in its fifth-season premiere on the legalization of same-sex marriage in California, which was the subject of a recent ruling by the Supreme Court.

Executive producer Steven Levitan, who spoke at a table read for an audience of Emmy voters at Fox Studios, asked tweeters not to reveal any spoilers while also noting that a plot tweet was likely to happen, the story says.

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'Duck Dynasty' Star Talks About Rumored Political Run

"Duck Dynasty" star Willie Robertson addressed a report that he's being courted to run in a special election for a seat that will be vacated by Rep. Rodney Alexander (R.-La.), reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

His response to the report? "It's news to me," he said on a visit to Fox News' "The Five."

"I’m kinda busy right now," he said. "I’ve got a lot of stuff going on."

Alexander's office replied that the congressman is a fan of the series and is "proud of the positive attention" it has brought Ouachita Parish, the story adds.

As previously reported, Republican operatives were said to be interested in getting Robertson to run for the seat, even though they doubted he would leave his television and business roles.

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Willie Robertson

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Controversy: Local Cable TV News Channel in San Diego Makes Parody of Robin Thicke Video. The Parody Calls for San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, Who Has Been Accused by 14 Women of Sexual Harassment, to Resign. See the Video and Read Why It's Controversial

"Robin Thicke’s summer pop hit is called 'Blurred Lines,' and journalism critics say that’s exactly what they see in a music video parody that uses dancing T.V. news starlets to take a shot at Bob Filner, the San Diego mayor accused by 14 women of sexual harassment," writes James Rainey on the website of the Los Angeles Times.

The video was produced by "... U-T TV — the cable television affiliate of the newspaper once known as the Union-Tribune...," the story says. On its website, the cable channel describes itself: "U-T TV is San Diego’s only all day, all local, all platform live news station powered by the region’s dominant media company. U-T TV leverages the content and expertise of more than 160 newsroom content providers and journalists to deliver the most credible, in-depth, and complete coverage of the San Diego experience."

U-T TV and the newspaper, now known as U-T San Diego, are owned by MLIM Holdings, which is run by San Diego real estate investor Doug Manchester.

You can see the video below, at the end of this story. Here's some of the reaction to the video, according to the Times story:

“ 'Vapid and embarrassing,' pronounced the managing editor of the Voice of San Diego news site and a U-T competitor."

And: " 'The only thing a news organization has is its credibility in reporting the news,' said Dean Nelson, director of the journalism program at Point Loma Nazarene University. 'This doesn't help.' "

The Times story continues, "The video features a hip-thrusting Filner character, made by superimposing the mayor’s head on another man’s body, pursuing three young women in skirts and high heels. The U-T news staffers gyrate and spin while rejecting the faux mayor’s advances. The words 'RESIGN' and 'CREEPER' flash on the screen.

"The criticism of Filner by U-T TV has struck some as ironic, since the start-up television operation has been accused by some other journalists in San Diego of using its female hosts as props."

In a section of its website that has comments by viewers, "U-T San Diego itself injected: 'We are just trying to entertain with this video. That's all!' " according to the Times' story.

The article adds, "The parent U-T newspaper has drawn considerable criticism since its purchase two years ago by...Manchester. The new owner has been accused of departing from journalistic standards by using his paper to promote his political friends and interests, particularly a new downtown stadium and arena."

Here's the video:

If you've not seen the original Robin Thicke video that this parodies, you can find it here on YouTube. Warning--the Thicke video (not the parody) has nudity.

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Breaking Bad for Young People: CVS Drugstores Wants to Prevent Them From Tapping Into Their Inner Walter White

CVS, the largest drugstore chain in the country, has some bad breaking news for young people. Especially young people who might be trying to channel their inner Walter White.

"Photo identification will now be required to buy nail polish remover at CVS stores," reports the website of CBS Los Angeles.

And if you're not over 18 years old, you won't be able to buy nail polish remover.

Here's why, according to the story: "The product contains acetone, which is a key ingredient in the production of crystal methamphetamine. CVS said it will also limit the amount of nail polish remover customers may buy."

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'Bachelor' Contestant, 29, Dies in New Orleans -- Her Death Is Being Called a Suicide

Updated at 2:54 p.m. PT on Aug. 14, 2013, to include TMZ report on cause of death.

A contestant from Season 14 of ABC's "The Bachelor" died today in a New Orleans hospital. E! News reports that Gia Allemand, a 29-year-old model, died in University Hospital. Some media reports are calling Allemand's death a suicide.

This afternoon updated its story to report "TMZ has learned Gia hanged herself. Her boyfriend, Ryan, found her hanging and unconscious in her home and immediately called 911."

Allemand had been listed in critical condition after being rushed to the hospital Monday for what was described only as "a serious emergency medical event," as we reported earlier today.

"It was later revealed that the brunette was placed on life support and had her mother and her longtime boyfriend, NBA basketball player Ryan Anderson of the New Orleans Pelicans, by her side," E! reports. "A couple of hours after the family made their initial announcement, Melinda Farina (who is a close friend of Gia's) tweeted about the ordeal."

Farina tweeted: "@GiaAllemand is on life support w little pulse and barely breathing ..cause unknown 48 hours critical please pray for Gia everyone.

"I'm so sad about my best friend right could this have happened to such an incredible person..she needs to come out of it!"

She added: "Everyone I will keep you posted if I hear anything further right now it's not good-we all need to stay positive though she's tiny but strong."

The nature of the emergency was not disclosed by Allemand's family, but was reporting her death to be a suicide.

TMZ cited multiple sources close to Allemand saying she had been upset about her rocky relationship with her boyfriend.

"Gia's boyfriend Ryan Anderson found Gia in her house Monday night," TMZ reports. "We're told Gia was on life support, which was withdrawn today. She had suffered 'critical loss of brain and organ function.' Her mom, boyfriend and other friends were in the hospital when she died."

Vienna Girardi, the winner on Season 14 of "The Bachelor," told TMZ: "Gia was a beautiful girl and an unbelievable friend. I’m shocked and can’t believe what happened to her. She seemed so happy, but you never know the demons people are fighting inside. I will never forget her and will miss my friend forever."

The E! report adds: "Former 'Bachelor' star Sean Lowe tweeted about the tragic news, saying, 'My prayers go out to @GiaAllemand's family during this time. Life on earth is but a vapor and she's with our Lord now.'"


Gia Allemand

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Michelle Obama to Release a Hip-Hop Album -- Here's the First Video

First lady Michelle Obama plans to release a hip-hop album, Time magazine reports. But the report adds: "You won’t hear her dropping any rhymes."

"In her continuing efforts to fight childhood obesity through her 'Let’s Move!' campaign, the first lady has partnered with Partnership for a Healthier America and the Hip Hop Public Health Foundation to release a 19-song compilation album to encourage kids to exercise and make healthy food choices," the story reports.

The album, "Songs for a Healthier America," will feature the work of Run DMC, Doug E. Fresh and "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks, among other artists, the piece notes.

Also contributing to the album are Ashanti, Monifah, Matisyahu, Ariana Grande and Blink-182′s Travis Barker -- appearing as "Salad Bar."

"The New York Knicks’ Iman Schumpert and Nils Lofgren of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band also contribute," the piece reports. "The album features tracks with names like 'We Like Vegetables,' 'Veggie Luv,' 'Get Up Sit Up' and 'U R What You Eat,' all designed to get kids thinking about health and diet. Ten music videos are set to be released with the album and will be distributed to schools in New York City, with other major cities to follow."

The first lady doesn't contribute vocals to the album, but she does appear in videos. The first video, for a song called "Everybody," is out now. Here it is:

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Tuesday Ratings: NBC Gets By on 'Talent' Alone

NBC aired just one fresh program in Tuesday's prime-time lineup, but it was easily enough to lift the Peacock Network to a win for the night against depleted competition, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. reports that NBC's two hour installment of "America's Got Talent" was by far the top program of the night on broadcast, even as it slipped 4% from last week to a 2.4 average rating in viewers 18-49. NBC opened prime time with a repeat installment of "Hollywood Game Night," which managed a 1.1.

The closest competition among English-language broadcast nets came from Fox, whose two-hour "So You Think You Can Dance" dipped 7% from a week ago to a 1.3 in 18-49.

Head-to-head against "Dance," ABC's two-hour "Extreme Weight Loss" lost 6% from the previous week to settle for a 1.1 in the 18-49 demo.

CBS aired an all-repeat drama lineup and finished in fifth place for the night among the broadcast networks.

For prime time overall, NBC's 1.9 average led the way in adults 18-49, followed by Fox (1.3 average), Univision (1.3), ABC (1.0) and CBS (0.8). NBC led total viewers by a narrower margin, averaging 6.9 million to top CBS (6.0 million), Fox (3.9 million), ABC (3.3 million) and Univision (3.2 million).

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Is the Wait for 'Downton Abbey' Driving You Crazy? Here's the Scoop on Season 4

We won't reveal the spoilers unless you click through ... but we have some juicy tidbits about the upcoming season 4 of the PBS period hit "Downton Abbey."

TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin went to the Television Critics Association press tour to get the lowdown on the upcoming season from the horse's mouth: executive producer Rebecca Eaton and the major cast members. Please click here to read her report.

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Two Prestigious Publications -- CNET and Consumer Reports -- Say This New TV Is a 'Game Changer.' But Will Joe and Joanna Consumer Agree?

Two prestigious publications are using the words "game changer"  about a new TV set. But the big question is will consumers agree?

The last big innovation in TV sets was 3D, and those sets have not been embraced in a major way by consumers.

Frist, let's hear from Consumer Reports: "It's not often that we get an up-close look at a truly new TV technology, but that's exactly what happened when we brought the Samsung KN55S9C OLED TV into our labs. OLED promises to be a game-changer that could one day push current TV technologies to the sidelines. It combines the best attributes of plasma and LCD sets: the deep blacks, high contrast, and unlimited viewing angles of plasma TVs with the bright images, super-slim designs, and energy efficiency of LCD sets."

Super-slim is almost an understatement -- this OLED TV is only half an inch thick.

Brian Cooley, editor-at-large at CNET, said on "CBS This Morning" today, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, that the new Samsung TV is a "game changer." He added, "This will be the TV you want and have in a few years. It's $9,000 now, but I'll tell you, that's $6,000 less than expected, so the glass is half-full."

The new Samsung TV set is a curved screen, but Cooley said that wasn't the news here. What is the news is that it's a big-screen -- 55 inch -- OLED TV. Previously, much of what we've seen with OLED TV technology has been with much smaller screens.

Says Consumer Reports: "It's arguably the best all-around TV we've ever tested, with the highest overall picture-quality scores and no major shortcomings -- except, perhaps, its steep $9,000 price. Still, that's much less than the $13,500 price disclosed when it was introduced earlier in Korea, and significantly below the current $15,000 retail price tag of LG's comparably sized 55EA9800 set, which we're hoping to test shortly."

"This isn’t the first OLED TV we've seen. The Sony XEL-1 wowed us when it was introduced a few years ago. But it cost $2,500 and had a tiny, 11-inch screen, making it unsuitable for use as a main TV. Manufacturing larger sets has been a challenge, but Samsung's was worth waiting for, though panel lifetime and screen burn-in are yet to be determined."

Consumer Reports -- which has always prided itself on the impartiality of its reviews -- just kept gushing about the new Samsung TV:

"[H]ow did the TV actually do on our test patterns and real-world video? In a word, brilliantly.

"We were wowed by the seemingly effortless, accurate reproduction of high-definition programs and movies viewed on Samsung’s OLED set. The TV delivers on all key image quality attributes, including image brightness, deep black levels, full 1080p picture detail, accurate colors, and unparalleled 3D performance. We’ve often seen TVs that match some of these key performance benchmarks, but what makes the SC9 unique is that it hits them all. There was none of the screen nonuniformity or degraded viewing angle performance we’ve seen on LCDs, and no coarse contouring (banding) on smooth shades, or visible graininess on dark shadow detail that we see on some plasmas."

The review adds: "We know that 3D isn't everyone's cup of tea, but we'd be remiss not to mention that this set's 3D performance is stunning, simply the best we've ever tested. In fact, we were quite surprised to see the OLED deliver near-perfect scores on our 3D ghosting tests."

Once the prices fall on OLED TVs to what most consumers can afford, we will find out indeed whether they are the "game changer" both CNET and Consumer Reports think they can be.

Samsung OLED TV.jpgSamsung's New 55-Inch Big Screen OLED TV

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NBC's New Tina Fey Project

NBC is embarking on a new comedy project with Tina Fey. reports that the "30 Rock" creator and co-showrunner Robert Carlock have sold a female-focused workplace project to the network.

While it's similar to "30 Rock" in that it's about a young female comedy writer, the project is said to be similar to "Cheers," the story says.

The young woman is trying to reconnect with her father and finds a new home and family on Fire Island, the piece adds.

The project is the first from Fey’s Little Stranger production company after she signed a four-year deal with Universal Television last year, the report notes.

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Tina Fey

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Change Is in the Works for the Emmys Next Year

A change is in store for the Emmy Awards in 2014. According to The Hollywood Reporter the ceremony, which usually airs in September, will shift to August next year to avoid a conflict with NBC's "Sunday Night Football."

The TV Academy has decided on Aug. 24 as the date, but a representative for the group declined to comment, the story notes.

"The move is not a surprise," the piece reports. "Each of the big four broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC -- get to air the Emmys once every four years. Next year is NBC's turn, and the network has scheduled the show in August each of the last two times it hosted. (NBC aired the Emmys on Aug. 27, 2006 and Aug. 29, 2010; every other Emmys ceremony since 2002 has aired in Sept.)."

NBC acquired the rights to "Sunday Night Football" in 2006, and doesn't want to have to choose between the two big draws, the report notes. Football season starts in early September.

The article adds: "The move would put the 2014 Emmys out of the fall TV season but in the past the shift has been welcomed by publicists and talent who say they prefer completing their promotional duties by the end of the summer, as opposed to having them bleed into the fall, when film festivals and production commitments often make for chaotic schedules."

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Donald Trump Takes a Side in CBS-Time Warner Cable Dispute

Donald Trump is wading into the contract dispute between CBS and Time Warner Cable, and he's directing his anger at the cable operator for blocking access to golf programming, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Trump took to Twitter to complain about the CBS blackout, saying he was unable to watch the PGA Championship on New York's WCBS-TV.

"Time Warner, I am going to be switching many of my buildings to another service -- this is ridiculous!" Trump tweeted Monday. He also complained that the cable company isn't giving "major discounts" to customers because of the blackout.

Time Warner Cable addressed his complaint in a statement, writing, "We're sorry Mr Trump is upset but we would hope that, as a businessman, he understands why we're focused on keeping our costs down so we can keep our customers' bills reasonable."

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Why One Character on 'Orange Is the New Black' Resembles a Popular Radio Figure

If actor Robert Stanton resembles a popular real-life radio figure on Netflix's "Orange Is the New Black," there's a reason for that, according to creator Jenji Kohan, who spoke about it on NPR's "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross.

Kohan said she's a big fan of "This American Life" host Ira Glass, and even offered Glass a role in the prison drama, TheWrap notes, citing the "Fresh Air" interview. She said he "politely declined."

"I'm a huge Ira Glass fan; I'm a huge fan of radio in general. I don't have a whole lot of time to watch TV, but I'm a big podcast listener, a big radio listener and a fangirl to a certain extent," Kohan said.

Kohan added that Stanton's glasses aren't identical to those worn by Glass, but that there is "a flavor."


Ira Glass

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'Bachelor' Contestant on Life Support

A contestant who starred on ABC's "The Bachelor" was hospitalized in critical condition, and is said to be on life support.

People magazine reports that Gia Allemand, who appeared on "The Bachelor's" 14th season, was taken to University Hospital in New Orleans "following a serious emergency medical event" Monday night, according to a statement from ABC.

E! Online News is reporting that Allemand is on life support.

Allemand, 29, reportedly had her mother and her boyfriend, NBA player Ryan Anderson of the New Orleans Pelicans, with her.

"On behalf of the family, we kindly ask for privacy at this time," the ABC statement said. It didn't provide additional information about the emergency.

Jake Pavelka, who courted Allemand on the show, reportedly issued a tweet Tuesday saying: "Please pray for @GiaAllemand… A dear friend and one of the sweetest women I know… #powerofprayer."


Gia Allemand

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Video: CNN Gives Viewers a Taste of What the New 'Crossfire' Will Be Like: 'It Sounded Like Cats in a Bag'

CNN aired a segment Tuesday that gave viewers a look at what they can expect on the revived version of the political debate show "Crossfire," and "It sounded like cats in a bag," reports.

The segment on "The Situation Room" featured Stephanie Cutter on the left and S.E. Cupp on the right -- two regulars who will be featured on "Crossfire."

"They 'discussed' voter fraud. It sounded like cats in a bag," Lisa de Moraes writes in the Deadline piece. "CNN’s most anticipated series debuts Monday, Sept. 16. at 6:30 p.m. ET -- now starring, most notably, former Speaker of the House and GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich."

De Moraes adds: "The political gabfest previously aired weeknights from 1982-2005, and is maybe best remembered these days for the time Jon Stewart appeared on the show in October 2004, ostensibly to promote his book 'America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide To Democracy Inaction,' but mostly to tell the show’s talking heads that the program was 'hurting America. Here is what I wanted to tell you guys: Stop… You have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.;”

Here's the clip:

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Frank Darabont Ready for Splashy TV Comeback After Exit From 'Walking Dead' -- His Upcoming Event Series Gets a New Name -- This Is at Least Its Third -- Along With an Air Date and a Trailer ... Watch the Video Here

After leaving AMC's "The Walking Dead," Frank Darabont is about to return to television. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that Darabont's new project, being billed as an event series, will premiere on TNT Dec. 4.

The series, originally called "L.A. Noir" and then "Lost Angels," has a new title: "Mob City."

The six-episode series is adapted from the book "L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City." It's set in Los Angeles after World War II, when the police fought mobsters like "Bugsy" Siegel, who will be played by Ed Burns.

There's no word on why the title was changed a second time, the story notes, but the Times reports on the first name change: "The original title ... came straight from the nonfiction book by John Buntin; however, Darabont later said in an interview that lawyers for video game company Rockstar threatened legal action over the name. Rockstar published the 2011 video game 'L.A. Noire.'"

Here's a trailer for the series:

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'Don't Trust the B----' Creator Resurfaces With New ABC Project

ABC has given a put pilot commitment to the creator of "Don't Trust the B---," bringing her back to the network following the cancellation of that comedy series, reports

The new project is written and executive produced by "Don't Trust the B----" creator Nahnatchka Khan, with Jake Kasdan also executive producing. The studio is 20th Century Fox TV, where both Khan and Kasdan are based, the story adds.

Called "Fresh Off the Boat," the project is based on Eddie Huang's memoir, and features a Chinese family that has moved to Orlando in the 1990s.


Nahnatchka Khan

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Lifetime Greenlights Project From Company of Prolific Writer/Producer Behind 'The Notebook,' 'Message in a Bottle' and Many Other Productions

Lifetime has greenlighted a two-hour backdoor pilot from Nicholas Sparks Productions, reports Sparks is a novelist, screenwriter and producer who has had a number of his works adapted into feature films, including "The Notebook," "Nights in Rodanthe," "Dear John" and "Message in a Bottle."

The Lifetime project is called "Deliverance Creek," and is a period piece set at the end of the Civil War, written by Melissa Carter. The main character, Belle Barlowe, is determined to protect her family's land, but a corrupt bank prompts her to become an outlaw, the story says.

It's the first pilot for Sparks' TV production company, which he created in 2012 with his publishing agent Theresa Park, the story says. The company's head of development, Elise Henderson, is on board as co-executive producer with Sparks, Park and Carter executive producing, the story reports.

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HBO Close to Deal for Cate Blanchett Star Vehicle

HBO Films is putting the final touches on a deal for a project that will be a star vehicle for actress Cate Blanchett. reports that the pay-cable network is close to a deal with actress and writer Julie Delpy to adapt the Marisa Acocella Marchetto memoir "Cancer Vixen."

Besides starring in the project, Blanchett is on board as an executive producer, along with Maven Pictures partners Trudie Styler and Celine Rattray, the story says.

Delpy recently starred in the Richard Linklater-directed "Before Midnight," which she also co-wrote. Her other co-writing credits include "Before Sunset" and "2 Days in New York."

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Julie Delpy

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'Duck Dynasty' Won't Be Going Away Anytime Soon -- Show's Stars Squeeze More Money, More Seasons Out of A&E

The stars of A&E's hit reality show "Duck Dynasty" successfully negotiated for a salary bump, with the Robertsons now earning a total of more than $200,000 per episode, reports Nellie Andreeva at

The money will be divided among nine adults and 11 children on the show, the story says, noting that the new pay rate is about four or five times what the group previously earned on the show.

"Additionally, I hear the new pact includes additional seasons for the show as well as series/cast options. The Robertsons started conversations with A&E and series producer Gurney Prods. in early 2013, delaying the show’s fourth season," Andreeva writes.

One reason A&E was willing to make a deeper commitment to the series: "The season 3 finale stands as the most watched A&E series telecast ever, drawing a staggering 9.6 million total viewers, 5.6 million adults 25-54, 5.5 million adults 18-49 and 2.6 million adults 18-34," Andreeva writes.

The report adds: "The family’s influence could spill beyond television -- star Willie Robertson was a top draw at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in April, and there is talk about him possibly running for Congress."

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ESPN Lets Go of Former NFL Star After He Has a Screaming Match with His Co-Host

A former star player in the NFL has been let go by ESPN after he had a very public screaming match with his ESPN co-host, reports.

The story says that ESPN "has cut ties with Hugh Douglas in the wake of his threats and racial slurs inflicted on Michael Smith, his co-host on the ESPN2 program 'Numbers Don’t Lie,' on August 2 at the Orlando House of Blues."

The story explains that Dougles a "former All-Pro defensive end was at a National Association of Black Journalists convention event when he and Smith had an altercation that escalated into a screaming match. Several media outlets reported that witnesses saw Douglas threaten to fight the much-smaller Smith — his on-air adversarial foil — and hurled slurs at him including “Uncle Tom” and “house n—–” and that the men had to be separated."

After he was let go Douglas tweeted, "“I am very disappointed to be leaving ESPN and will have more to say about this situation and my future at the appropriate time.” ESPN has said only that Douglas is no longer with the network," according to the story.

Hugh Douglas and Michale Smith.bmpHugh Douglas (left) and Michael Smith

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One of the Most Beloved Stars of 'Grey's Anatomy' to Leave Series, Saying, 'Creatively, I Really Feel Like I Gave It My All'

One of the stars of the veteran ABC series "Grey's Anatomy' is planning on leaving the show, reported Lesley Goldberg in an exclusive story for The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed blog.

Goldberg wrote, "ABC's 'Grey's Anatomy' is losing one of its original and most beloved stars. Sandra Oh has opted to exit the medical drama from Shonda Rhimes."

The story continues, " 'Creatively, I really feel like I gave it my all, and I feel ready to let her go,' an emotional Oh tells THR. 'It's such an interesting thing to play a character for so long and to actually get the sense that she wants to be let go as well. [Cristina] wants to be let go, and I am ready to let her go. We have to start the process, story-wise, for the Grey's writers to think of why she's going to go.'

The article notes, "Oh has played prickly doctor Cristina Yang since the series premiered in 2005 and will exit ABC's top-rated drama following the completion of its upcoming 10th season. The actress, who was among the stars who signed new two-year deals in May 2012 to return to Grey's through season 10, instead will pursue other opportunities beyond the series."

To read a lot more details about this story, please click on the link in the first paragraph, above. and you'll be taken to Goldberg's lengthy piece.

Sandra Oh in 'Grey's Anatomy'.jpgSandra Oh as Dr. Cristina Yang

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What Special Programming Event Had 29 Million People Tuning In to a Cable Channel Earlier This Month? C'mon, Take the Bait

We're pretty sure you know the answer to this one: Which special programming event set viewership records this month -- that's right, it was Discovery Channel's Shark Week 2013, which became the most-watched Shark Week in the 26-year history of the programming franchise, Lisa de Moraes reports on

"An average of 2.12 million people watched Shark Week in prime time, Discovery says, and nearly 29 million unique viewers sampled the orgy of shark-dom," de Moraes writes. "Sunday’s faux-documentary 'Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives' survived the week as the most watched program in the franchise’s history, with an average of nearly 5 million tuned in."

Shark Week really hooked viewers in the 18-49 male demo, the piece reports, topping everything on TV in the metric, including the return of NFL Sunday football (the preseason variety) to NBC.

De Moraes writes: "Overall, the franchise coughed up Discovery Channel’s best-ever week among 18-49 year-olds. That’s because Shark Week programming bagged the highest-rated premieres in franchise history for their respective nights in the demo, starting with 'Megalodon' on Sunday, 'Voodoo Sharks' (Monday), 'I Escaped Jaws' (Tuesday), 'Great White Serial Killer' (Wednesday), 'Alien Sharks' (Thursday) and 'Great White Gauntlet' (Friday)."

The event set personal bests in many key demos, including adults 18-34, 18-49, and 25-54. And it made a big splash in late-night.

"Shark Week’s first ever after-show, 'Shark After Dark,' netted more 18-34-year-old viewers on four of its five nights, besting Comedy Central’s 'The Daily Show' and 'Colbert Report,' TBS’s 'Conan,' Bravo’s 'Watch What Happens Live' and E!’s 'Chelsea Lately,' which ... included one night guest-hosted by Lindsay Lohan," the piece reports, adding that "Shark After Dark" topped those competitors all five nights in the slightly older 18-49 and 25-54 demos.

"Interestingly, Shark Week 2013 was not Discovery Channel’s most watched week ever," the report adds. "That distinction still belongs to the week Discovery premiered its iconic 'Raising the Mammoth' special. That week in March of 2000, Discovery clocked an average of 2.35 million viewers. That said, the 'Mammoth' resurrection week skewed much older -- median age of 44 years. Shark Week 2013 shed those older viewers and brought in more young ones, resulting in a median age of 37."

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Drama Series Thriving on Cable After Being Passed Over by Broadcast Net

A drama series that was originally developed for a broadcast network -- but never made it onto the schedule -- has just been picked up for a second season by the cable network where the show eventually landed.

The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Lifetime renewed the show, Marc Cherry's "Devious Maids," for season two. The series, which was developed for ABC but was turned down by that network, will be back on Lifetime in 2014 with a new 13-episode season.

"The series, which premiered June 23, ranks as Lifetime's fastest-growing drama ever and has propelled the cabler to become the No. 1 network on Sundays at 10 p.m. among women. Worth noting: The show's audience is 18 percent Hispanic, which nearly doubles Lifetime's prime-time average," THR reports.

The show was inspired by the telenovela "Ellas son la Alegría del Hogar," the piece notes. It received a series order from Lifetime in June of last year after ABC developed and then turned down the pilot.

"'Devious Maids' got off to a relatively soft start for Lifetime with its June 23 premiere, opening to just 2 million viewers (826,000 of them adults 18-49), but it has proven to be one of the steadiest-growing freshmen of the summer," the report notes. "Just two weeks ago it hit a series high of 2.9 million viewers (a 45 percent increase), rivaling targeted demo competition from Bravo's 'Real Housewives' with 1.4 million adults 18-49. The series has made especially strong gains among females, recently seeing a 74 percent boost over the premiere to 1.1 million women 18-49."

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NBCU Shuffles Executive Lineup at Syndication Arm

NBCUniversal has done some major tweaking to the executive lineup at NBCU Domestic Television Distribution. B&C reports that Ed Swindler, president of strategy and operations at NBC Broadcasting, will oversee day-to-day broadcast syndication operations.

Swindler will take on much of the workload that was handled by Barry Wallach before he stepped down earlier this year as NBCU DTD president, the report notes.

Sources told the publication that NBC Broadcasting Chairman Ted Harbert made the announcement internally last week.

"Reporting to Swindler is Sean O'Boyle, executive VP and general sales manager, who oversees program sales to TV stations. Bo Argentino, senior VP of advertising and media sales, and Rob Fitzpatrick, executive VP of business and legal affairs, will directly report to Swindler, who now oversees domestic broadcast sales as well as advertising, legal and business affairs," B&C reports.

The report adds: "Swindler will continue in his role at NBC Broadcasting, where he's charged with maximizing the profitability of NBC's broadcast assets, including the network, owned stations and affiliate relations."

The piece notes that Frances Manfredi, president of NBCU cable and new media distribution, "now also will oversee off-net syndication sales to broadcast and cable sales, and continue to oversee digital and subscription-video-on-demand sales as well as distribution of film and television to Canada. O'Boyle also will report in to Manfredi when it comes to off-net broadcast sales."

Additionally, the story reports that Valerie Schaer, executive VP of creative affairs, will oversee development, programming, marketing and public relations for the division.

"Linda Finnell, senior VP of programming and development, and Tracie Wilson, senior VP, programming and development, Stamford Media Center, both will report to Schaer," B&C adds. "Donna Mills, senior vice president, marketing, communication and affiliate relations, and Alexis Rouse, VP, publicity, will report to both Schaer and Manfredi."

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Oprah Responds to Switzerland's Apology Over Alleged Racism Incident -- and Has a Few Words for Lindsay Lohan While She's at It ... and Then There's the 'Inhaling' Comment

Oprah Winfrey continues to field questions about an alleged racism incident that she said took place at a high-end store in Zurich, Switzerland. She talks about the incident in at least two new video interviews -- one of which appears below, while the other can be found at this BBC News link.

Her latest comments came after she received an apology from the Swiss tourism office. Separately, the store clerk who was apparently singled out in the incident denied that it involved racism.

Meanwhile, Winfrey offered an encouraging update on Lindsay Lohan, which is included near the end of the two-minute "Extra" clip, below.

Winfrey also appears to slip in a confession about smoking pot, if you read between the lines, in the "Extra" clip below -- watch for her comment about "inhaling," around the 30-second mark.

Winfrey addresses racism most directly on the BBC clip, saying she regrets identifying Switzerland as the country where the incident took place, and she's sorry the incident blew up in the media.

Here's the "Extra" clip:

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CBS Show Sinks to All-Time Low as ABC Wins the Night

A series that has been performing well for CBS this summer hit a stumbling block in the ratings Monday night, paving the way for a prime-time win by ABC, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. reports that CBS's hit summer drama "Under the Dome" lost 12% from its week-ago number in viewers 18-49, recording a series-low 2.3 average rating. The network still managed a second-place finish for prime time, even with the rest of its lineup consisting of repeats.

ABC, meanwhile, got a winning result out of its three-hour special "CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock." The show surged 33% from last year's broadcast, delivering a 2.0 average in the 18-49 demo.

NBC's all-new lineup of "American Ninja Warrior" (up 14% from a week ago to a 1.6 average in 18-49), "Get Out Alive With Bear Grylls" (up 8% to a 1.4) and "Siberia" (up 17% from a series low last week to a 0.7) all showed improvement, but the Peacock still found itself in fourth place among the broadcast networks.

Fox continued to roll out repeats and settled for fifth place.

For prime time overall, ABC's 2.0 average led the way in adults 18-49, followed by CBS (1.4 average), Univision (1.3), NBC (1.2) and Fox (0.7). ABC also won total viewers, averaging 8.2 million to top CBS (6.1 million), NBC (3.5 million), Univision (3.4 million) and Fox (1.5 million).

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Veteran Character Actor Dead at 68 -- 'Webster' Actor Also Hosted Game Show, Gained Cult Status for Voice Work

A veteran character actor known for his performances on ABC's "Webster" and other TV series and for his voice work has died. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Henry Polic II, who played Jerry Silver on "Webster," died Sunday in an assisted living facility after battling cancer. He was 68.

Polic portrayed the Sheriff of Nottingham on Mel Brooks' series "When Things Were Rotten," and gained cult status as the voice of the evil Scarecrow/Dr. Jonathan Crane in "Batman: The Animated Series," the story notes.

Polic was a game-show host on ABC's "Double Talk" in 1986, and was also popular as a TV game contestant, often appearing on "The $25,000 Pyramid" and a later version, "The $100,000 Pyramid." Both shows were hosted by Dick Clark.

On "Webster," his character was the secretary and confidante to Katherine, played by Susan Clark. The show, which starred Emmanuel Lewis in the title role, ran on ABC from 1983 to 1987 and in syndication from 1987 to 1989.


Henry Polic II

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'The Love Boat' -- the Actual Boat -- Comes to a Troubled Ending

The cruise ship used in the classic series "The Love Boat" has made its last run. CNN reports that the ship sailed to Turkey last week for dismantling, experiencing tragedy along the way as two people died in an accident on the ship.

The ship was damaged while entering the Turkish port of Aliaga, where it is to be dismantled, and started taking on water. Crews used electrical pumps to drain the water, but engine-exhaust buildup caused toxic exposure to gas, leading to the fatalities, the story notes.

Six other people were injured but were released from the hospital, according to the report.

Izmir Ship Recycling Co. bought the ship for about $3.33 million, with its dismantling expected to take as long as eight months.

The boat was originally called the Pacific Princess and was used in the ABC series from 1977 to 1987, the piece notes.

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Pacific Princess -- aka the Love Boat

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Reality Star Being Wooed for Public Office?

Some Republican operatives are reportedly hoping a popular reality TV personality can be convinced to run for the House of Representatives. The Washington Examiner reports that they are interested in getting "Duck Dynasty" star Willie Robertson to run for the seat that will be relinquished by retiring Republican Rep. Rodney Alexander of Louisiana.

Alexander is stepping down in September to work in Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's cabinet, and a special election will be held to fill his seat, the story says. His district includes Monroe, La., home to the game call and hunting companies headed by Robertson, the story notes.

A spokesman for the Robertson family didn't return a request for comment, the story says.

The piece reports: "GOP officials said while there is an interest in getting Robertson to run, they doubted that they can get him to leave his TV and CEO perch. Others said that Washington is often too fast to reach out to celebrities because they often turn out to be poor candidates."


Willie Robertson

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Racial Discrimination Claim Against Paula Deen Thrown Out

A federal judge on Monday tossed out a racial discrimination claim against Paula Deen that damaged the former Food Network star's business empire after Deen admitted during a deposition for the case that she had used the N-word in the past.

The judge ruled that a white former employee of Paula Deen had no standing to file a claim of racial discrimination against Deen, The New York Times reports. The former employee, Lisa T. Jackson, alleged discrimination against black workers that she claimed created a tough work environment for her. She also added that the biases were "more personally offensive" to her because she has biracial nieces.

The judge, however, ruled that Jackson doesn't meet the standard for protection under federal law and that she wasn't anything other than "an accidental victim of the alleged racial discrimination.”

Deen lost major business deals, including Food Network and Smithfield Foods, as the scandal over her deposition spiraled out of control in recent months.

Monday's order doesn't affect Jackson's sexual harassment allegations in the lawsuit, the story says. Deen and Jackson continue to have settlement talks.

"As Ms. Deen has stated before, she is confident that those who truly know how she lives her life know that she believes in equal opportunity, kindness and fairness for everyone,” Deen's spokewoman said.

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Paula Deen

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ABC Orders Comedy From Hot TV Producer

ABC has bought a comedy from a producer that is off to a hot start this development season, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

The producer is Shonda Rhimes' Shondaland. Rhimes has an overall deal with ABC Studios.

The network ordered the untitled project from "Cougar Town" co-executive producers Christine Pietrosh and Jessica Goldstein, marking the third sale by Shondaland for 2014-15.

The project is about a group of friends who come together after an unexpected event. Pietrosh and Goldstein will write and executive produce, while Shonda Rhimes and her Shondaland partner Betsy Beers will also executive produce.

The sale is Shondaland's first of the season for a comedy project, following orders for a cop drama from Rhimes and Beers with Dana Calvo ("Made in Jersey") and a legal drama, "Lawless," with K.J. Steinberg ("Gilded Lilys").

THR adds: "The Pietrosh/Goldstein entry marks Shondaland's second attempt at a comedy, which remains a priority at the company behind dramas 'Grey's Anatomy,' 'Scandal' and the recently concluded 'Private Practice.' Last year, Rhimes and Beers teamed with writer Issa Rae for a comedy called 'I Hate L.A. Dudes,' which did not move forward at the network."

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NBC Wins Bidding War for Greg Berlanti Drama

In a competitive bidding situation, NBC has bought a drama from producer Greg Berlanti and novelist and feature writer Seth Grahame-Smith, reports

The prison drama, "Paradise," is set in the late 21st century in Las Vegas, which is now the world's largest maximum-security prison and called Paradise, the story says. Dr. Matthew Turner is sent to the prison after being wrongly convicted of a murder, but hatches a plan to escape, the story says.

Grahame-Smith wrote the 2009 bestselling novel "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," as well as "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," which he adapted for Tim Burton.

Berlanti is behind a string of TV projects including "Everwood," "Arrow" and "Dawson's Creek."

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History Pilot Sparks Lawsuit

A lawsuit has been filed over a pilot at the History channel, reports. A man is suing A&E Television Networks over the pilot "Thingamabob," alleging that he was offered the hosting job but fired after airing concerns about working conditions, the story reports.

Jerry Carnett claims he was working on the TruTV series "Killer Karaoke" when he was named by T Group Productions and 1Stave PDPP Inc. to join the "Thingamabob" pilot as a co-host. Both production companies are also named as defendants, the report notes.

Carnett claims that after he warned a builder on the set that he was using a large grinding wheel in an unsafe way, he was "demoted, his co-hosting duties were taken away and he was placed on two days of leave."

He alleges that when he returned, the grinding wheel was still being used even though it had injured the builder, and that cameras were "swarming an individual using the vary [sic] machine responsible for injuring another builder's hand."

Carnett alleges that he was fired after complaining about the safety issues. A&E had no comment on the lawsuit.

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Freddie Prinze Jr. Joins Lifetime Series

Actor Freddie Prinze Jr. has been added to a Lifetime series.'s Inside TV reports that Prinze, known for his work in "I Know What You Did Last Summer," "She's All That" and other feature films, joins the series "Witches of East End."

Prinze is initially on the show as a guest star, although the part could turn into a longer-term role, the report notes.

The spot will reunite him with former "Freddie" co-star Madchen Amick, who played the sister-in-law of his character in the 2005-2006 comedy.

In "Witches of East End," Prinze will portray an entomologist who falls for Wendy Beauchamp, played by Amick, although he soon wonders whether she's more interested in his bugs. He will appear in the fourth episode, with the possibility of appearing in additional episodes, the story says.


Freddie Prinze Jr.

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Closure Coming for Fans of 'The Borgias' -- But Not on TV

Fans of Showtime's canceled series "The Borgias" failed to convince the network to bring the historical drama back, but they will get closure after all with an e-book written by creator Neil Jordan, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

Jordan has written "The Borgia Apocalypse," which will serve as a conclusion to the series.

"Hard-core fans worried that this smacks of a hurried Band-Aid to a deep wound can take comfort in the fact that the book is actually based on the unproduced script Jordan had already written for the two-hour 'Borgias' series finale," the story reports.

The series ended its run in June after three seasons.

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The Miniseries Is Back: Bestseller to Get TV Adaptation From Weinstein Co.

A bestselling true-life detective book has been bought by The Weinstein Co., which is considering it for a TV miniseries, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The book is "The Hour of Peril," which focuses on the true story of detectives trying to disrupt a plot to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln.

"Daniel Stashower’s 'The Hour of Peril' is an untold and landmark moment in American history, with the suspense and fervor of a crime thriller, which will make for immensely captivating television," said Meryl Poster, president of television at The Weinstein Co.

THR notes, "Broadcast and cable networks are lapping up miniseries of late, with a wave of high-profile 'limited' and 'event' entries in the genre coming on the heels of 2012's 'Hatfields & McCoys' on History."

The Weinstein Co. has previously successfully adapted the book series "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" for HBO with Anthony Minghella, the piece notes.

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Time Warner Cable in Talks to Add Al Jazeera America to Lineup

Time Warner Cable is in negotiations to carry Al Jazeera America, after the network dropped Current TV following its January sale to the Qatar-based network, reports The Huffington Post.

When Time Warner dropped Current TV, it said it would keep an open mind as the new network came together. So far, Al Jazeera America has hired 850 staffers, including well-known anchors and correspondents. The channel is set to launch Aug. 20.

Al Jazeera America recently announced the hiring of ABC News veteran Kate O'Brian as network president. In addition, CNN veteran David Doss is VP of news programming and CBS News alum Marcy McGinnis is VP of news gathering, while MSNBC veteran Shannon High-Bassalik is senior VP in charge of documentaries and programs.

Longtime CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien, Fox News and MSNBC veteran David Shuster and former "Good Morning America" host Antonio Mora are among the on-screen personalities the channel has lined up.

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Senators Weigh In on Time Warner Cable-CBS Dispute

Lawmakers from one of the states most affected by Time Warner Cable's blackout of CBS-owned stations and cable channels weighed in Monday on the dispute between the two companies.

Sens. Barbara Boxer (D- Calif.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) asked the companies to end the blackout that has left Los Angeles, New York, Dallas and other markets without CBS programming, reports the Los Angeles Times.

“Millions of customers in the Los Angeles area and throughout the country have subscribed to receive the programming CBS networks create and Time Warner Cable distributes, but are unable to access it because of this standoff,” they wrote in a letter sent to CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves and TWC Chief Glenn Britt. "The status quo is unfair to the millions of your customers who are caught in the middle of your dispute, and we strongly encourage both sides to resolve it immediately."

Their letter comes after Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) last week asked the Federal Communications Commission to get involved.

Millions of viewers have missed shows such as CBS's "Under the Dome" and the PGA Championship, the story notes. Along with CBS-owned stations, Showtime has also gone dark.

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Fox News' Greta Van Susteren Writes Blog Saying Fox Broadcasting (not Fox News) Should Hire Jay Leno on Feb. 7, 2014, the Day After Leno's Last Show on NBC

"FOX BROADCAST (not Fox News Channel) should hire Jay Leno on February 7, 2014 (of course no one is asking me …)," blogs Greta Van Susteren of Fox News.

Van Susteren wrote the blog today, Aug. 12, 2013, on her Fox News website, GretaWire.

Her blog says, "I just read that Jay Leno’s last night on 'The Tonight Show' is February 6, 2014. I have not followed the story about Leno and NBC very closely but I decided to dig a bit deeper when I saw the February 6th date."

She adds, "And guess what? Leno is winning his timeslot……in NBC’s ‘great wisdom’ they are upsetting the apple cart and forcing him to go. They have a known winner and are ‘rolling the dice.’ If I were a shareholder, I would wonder about that one."

She then urges Fox Broadcasting to hire Leno.

A Huffington Post piece about Van Susteren's Leno blog notes that it , "[E]choed the sentiment of at least one other Leno supporter at Fox. In March, Steve Pruett, the head of Fox's affiliate board, expressed interest in developing a late night show hosted by Leno. The network told the New York Post, however, that it “has no plans for a late-night show — at this time.”

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Record-Breaking Return for Cable Series

A cable drama series had a big night Sunday, setting viewership records as it returned to television for what is billed as its final run. reports that AMC's "Breaking Bad" bowed to 5.9 million total viewers, an all-time series high and double the turnout for the show's fifth-season premiere last summer. The series is set to wrap after the final eight episodes.

"Last night’s opener delivered 3.3 million adults 25-54 and 3.6 million adults 18-49, second only to AMC’s mega-hit 'The Walking Dead' in 18-49 across all cable," the story reports. "Immediately following 'Breaking Bad,' the premiere of AMC’s new drama 'Low Winter Sun' drew 2.5 million viewers, a solid number but less than half of the massive 'Breaking Bad' lead-in."

The new "Breaking Bad" after-show, "Talking Bad," brought in 1.2 million viewers for its premiere.

AMC also had other good news over the weekend. The piece reports: "On Saturday night, AMC’s 'Hell on Wheels' returned with a two-hour season three premiere, delivering 2.5 million viewers, up 2% from the season two premiere, which aired on a Sunday, and double AMC’s Saturday prime-time average."

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Worst Movie Ever Made? Embarrassingly Bad Jerry Lewis Footage Creates Buzz Online -- See It Here

Clips from a lost movie that some media outlets are speculating might be the worst movie ever made are creating some excitement online -- along with potential embarrassment for veteran comedian Jerry Lewis.

The latest clip to surface is a rough seven-minute "making of" from the 1972 movie, "The Day the Clown Cried," which Lewis starred in, co-wrote and directed.

Lewis himself was unhappy with the work, NBC News reports. "The film was not made as a comedy; it was to have been Lewis' first foray into serious drama. But after test screenings went terribly wrong, Lewis (who told Dick Cavett in 1973 that he'd planned to release it at the Cannes Film Festival) pulled the film," the story reports.

Lewis, now 87, was asked about the movie this year at Cannes, and reportedly said: "It was all bad and it was bad because I lost the magic. You will never see it. No one will ever see it, because I am embarrassed at the poor work."

In the movie, "Lewis plays a circus performer who is taken by the Nazis after making fun of Hitler. In the concentration camp where he's sent, he amuses the children with his routine, and eventually walks with them into a gas chamber. The last scene involves Lewis' clown (Helmut Doork) and the children laughing while the gas surrounds them," NBC News reports.

The report adds: "'The Day the Clown Cried' is perhaps the most infamous film that was never released, and if Lewis has his way, it will never see the light of day. But on Saturday, YouTube user Unclesporkums uploaded perhaps the longest clip (it's a 7-minute 'Making of Footage' collection of clips) to ever publicly surface of the film in the past 41 years, which introduces the movie mistake to a whole new generation."

The report notes that one of the few people to have seen the movie since Lewis shelved it is comedian Harry Shearer, known for his voice work on "The Simpsons." Shearer, who reportedly saw a rough cut back in the 1970s, talked about it in an interview with Spy magazine in 1992.

Shearer is quoted as saying: "Seeing this film was really awe-inspiring, in that you are rarely in the presence of a perfect object. This was a perfect object. This movie is so drastically wrong, its pathos and its comedy are so wildly misplaced, that you could not, in your fantasy of what it might be like, improve on what it really is. 'Oh My God!' -- that’s all you can say."

Here's the clip:

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Not Much to Cheer About for the Broadcast Nets in Sunday Prime Time; 'Big Brother' and 'Teen Choice Awards' Lose Ground

Sunday night's prime-time ratings on the broadcast networks were lackluster at best, with each of the Big 4 networks breaking out a mix of fresh and repeat programming and viewer numbers generally down, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. reports that CBS's "Big Brother" was the top show of the night on broadcast, even while it slipped 4% from a week ago to a 2.2 average rating in 18-49. CBS's prime-time schedule started 9 minutes late due to overrun from the PGA Championship, meaning the network's numbers will be subject to more than the usual adjustments.

CBS's "Unforgettable" led out from "Big Brother" with a 1.3 average in the 18-49 demo, rising 8% from a week ago.

Other than CBS, which averaged a 1.4 rating in viewers 18-49 for prime time, no network broke a 1.0. Fox and ABC tied for second with 0.9 averages, followed by Univision (0.7) and NBC (0.6). CBS also finished well ahead of the pack in total viewers, averaging 6.9 million to lead ABC (3.8 million), NBC (2.6 million), Fox (2.4 million) and Univision (2.1 million).

Fox's "Teen Choice Awards" settled for a 0.9 average in the 18-49 demo, down 10% from a year ago.

ABC squeezed a 1.1 average out of "Whodunnit?" in adults 18-49, an improvement of one-tenth of a point from last week's series low. "Secret Millionaire" fell 17% from the premiere a week ago to a 1.0.

NBC's "Crossing Lines" equaled its series low with a 0.5 average in 18-49.

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Swiss Store Clerk Refutes Oprah's Racism Story

A sales assistant in a luxury boutique in Zurich, Switzerland, is fighting back after being singled out by Oprah Winfrey for an alleged racist incident. The store clerk told her side of the story to a Swiss publication, saying Winfrey lied about the incident, the U.K.'s Daily Mail reports.

"Speaking anonymously to Sunday newspaper SonntagsBlick, the Italian bag lady said she felt 'powerless' and in the grip of a 'cyclone' after Winfrey went on TV in America to claim she had been the victim of racism," The Daily Mail reports. "Winfrey was in Switzerland in July when she walked into the Trois Pommes boutique in Zurich looking for a handbag to match the outfit she was going to wear to old friend Tina Turner's wedding.

"She claims the sales assistant refused to show her the black crocodile leather bag because -- seeing a black woman -- she automatically assumed she would not be able to afford it."

The clerk gave this version of events: "I wasn't sure what I should present to her when she came in on the afternoon of Saturday July 20 so I showed her some bags from the Jennifer Aniston collection.

"I explained to her the bags came in different sizes and materials, like I always do.

"She looked at a frame behind me. Far above there was the 35,000 Swiss franc crocodile leather bag.

"I simply told her that it was like the one I held in my hand, only much more expensive, and that I could show her similar bags."

The sales clerk said the incident had nothing to do with racism.

"It is absolutely not true that I declined to show her the bag on racist grounds. I even asked her if she wanted to look at the bag," she reportedly said. "She looked around the store again but didn't say anything else. Then she went with her companion to the lower floor. My colleague saw them to the door. They were not even in the store for five minutes."

Click here to see a video of Winfrey's comments.

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Major Singing Star Says She Would 'Rather Poke My Eyes Out With Sticks' Than Join 'X Factor'

A singer who is a major international star had more than a few unkind words for "The X Factor," not just turning down an offer to join the show, but doing so with a flourish.

The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Charlotte Church had a strong negative reaction to her invitation to become a part of the U.K. version of "X Factor."

The 27-year-old singer tweeted about the offer Aug. 8, writing: "I got asked to do the X Factor job. I’d rather poke my eyes out with sticks than be a part of the machine that kills music.”

She explained that when she met with people from the show to find out what level of creative input she would have, "they basically said none unless it was in line with what was required…I wanted to see just how hard-line it was. I found my answer and politely declined.”

The story adds: "Subsequent reports out of the U.K. cite an 'X Factor' source who says producers found Church 'boring,' adding that 'she was never high on the priority list as there were far bigger names producers were looking at.'"


Charlotte Church

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Acclaimed Director Makes Film About Subject No One Wants to Hear About

A director of international renown is taking on a subject that can be life-threatening, but one that most people neither want to talk about nor do anything about.

The director is Werner Herzog.

His latest film, a documentary "called 'From One Second to the Next,' explores the consequences of texting while driving, which the film says leads to 100,000 or more accidents a year," according to a report by Matt Richtel on The New York Times' Bits blog.

The story continues: "The film, which had its premiere Thursday night in Los Angeles, is sponsored by the major mobile phone companies, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile. Research shows that drivers who text face a significantly increased crash risk.

"However, public safety advocates have been frustrated that motorists continue to text and drive at high rates despite polls that show they understand the risks."

The story also notes, "[R]esearchers have expressed concern that mobile phone companies, even as they urge people to not text and drive, continue to glorify the idea of an “always-on” lifestyle that encourages people to constantly talk, text and multitask."

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It Was Once the Phone No One in Hollywood Could Live Without: As Woes Continue, BlackBerry Exploring Sale of the Company

"The struggling smartphone maker BlackBerry Ltd. said on Monday that it was exploring a potential sale of the company or a joint venture, as it continued to cast about for a solution to its troubles," reports the New York Times' Dealbook blog.

The Canadian company, formerly called Research in Motion, "introduced its BlackBerry 10 this year in a make-or-break attempt to recover at least some of its once-dominant position in the market," the story reports. "But the phones arrived just as the high end of the smartphone market appeared to be saturated with Apple iPhones and handsets from Samsung and others using the Google Android operating system. BlackBerry’s innovations were also more incremental than revolutionary."

The article continues, "A report last week by IDC, a company that tracks technology sales, found that despite its new phones, BlackBerry had fallen into fourth place in the global market behind devices using Windows Phone. IDC estimated BlackBerry’s worldwide market share at 2.9 percent."

Says a Bloomberg story on the BlackBerry situation, "BlackBerry fired 5,000 workers last year as part of a plan to eliminate $1 billion in operating costs. Analysts had expected the cutbacks to help the company post a profit last quarter. Instead, BlackBerry lost $84 million, dragged down by the sluggish sales of the BlackBerry Z10. The new touch-screen phone, introduced at a lavish event in New York in January, missed estimates by almost a million units last quarter. The company is projecting another loss for the current period."

Another possibility for BlackBerry is that the company will be taken private, according to a number of media reports.

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Jay Leno Sets Date for His 'Tonight Show' Departure -- Ahead of Schedule

The end date has been set for Jay Leno's run on NBC's "Tonight Show," with the late-night fixture wrapping it up well before his contract ends. Leno's final episode will air Feb. 6, 2014, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

That's earlier than the September 2014 end date for his NBC contract, the report notes. Leno is ending his run just before the Winter Olympics, with NBC expected to use its coverage of the high-profile sports event to help gain attention for new "Tonight" host Jimmy Fallon.

Staff on the show will be paid through the end of Leno's contract. With Leno's departure, the show will shift production to NBC's 30 Rock headquarters in New York City, from its current Burbank location, as Fallon takes over as host.

Leno has been hosting "Tonight" since May 1992, taking over after Johnny Carson's 30-year run. Leno was off the show for nine months in 2009 and 2010 while NBC experimented -- unsucessfully -- with Conan O'Brien on "Tonight" and tried out Leno in prime time.


Jay Leno

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What Is, Pointing the Finger? Alex Trebek Says Who's to Blame for 'Jeopardy!' Kids Week Incident

"Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek had a few things to say about a recent incident on the show's Kids Week, which had fans crying foul. Mainly, Trebek said it wasn't his fault, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

As previously reported, eighth-grader Thomas Hurley III's Final Jeopardy answer was ruled incorrect because he misspelled "Emancipation Proclamation," adding an extra "t" to the first word ("Emanciptation"). Trebek told the boy that he had "misspelled [the answer] badly," causing fans to protest that the host had been too harsh with the boy.

"It wasn’t my decision; it was the judges’,” Trebek told the publication. “I don’t mind being accountable if it’s something I have done, but it kind of bothers me to take a lot of flak for something I haven’t done. I must be getting thin-skinned in my old age.”

He added, "After the show I said [to the judges], 'I can understand it, but it’s a little rough.' I thought they may have ruled a little harshly, but they ruled according to the rules of the game. They made a valid point, and I can understand that.”

Click here to see the video of the incident.

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'Real World' Star Dead at 44

One of the early stars of MTV's long-running reality franchise "The Real World" has died. The New York Times reports that Sean Sasser, whose romance on the show with Pedro Zamora was one of the first real-world gay relationships on TV, died Wednesday. Sasser was 44.

The cause was mesothelioma, his husband, Michael Kaplan, said.

Sasser and Zamora started dating when Sasser was working on opening a restaurant in San Francisco and wanted to publicize AIDS issues, the story says. As teenagers, each had contracted HIV.

Their romance was one of the most interesting story lines of "The Real World," the article notes, with the couple holding a commitment ceremony in the "Real World" apartment. It wasn't the first time two gay men had pledged commitment to each other on TV, with "The Joan Rivers Show" holding a gay wedding in the early 1990s, the piece notes.

“For a whole generation they made AIDS and they made same-sex relationships very real,” said gay rights historian Eric Marcus. “Pedro Zamora and Sean Sasser reached a much larger audience than anyone had to date.”

Zamora died of complications from AIDS several months after their ceremony.


Sean Sasser

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Kardashian Matriarch Fights Back After President Obama Cites Her Family as What's Wrong With America

Kris Jenner is fighting back after President Barack Obama pointed to her daughter Kim Kardashian as proof that the American Dream is changing, reports

Obama, in an interview with Kindle Singles, criticized the "change in culture," noting that in the past, "Kids weren't monitoring every day what Kim Kardashian was wearing, or where Kanye West was going on vacation, and thinking that somehow that was the mark of success."

Jenner, matriarch of all things Kardashian, addressed his comments on her talk show on Friday.

"It's really great that people aspire to get a great job ... but I wasn't aware that you could only set the bar so high and that we could only dream so big," she said.

She added, "I find it so odd that he's picking on Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Well, Kanye West, first of all, doesn't go on vacation. Ever. And Kim Kardashian is the hardest-working young lady in the world. She never sleeps, she never stops, she never slows down and works so hard for what she's got.”

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Warner Bros. Accused of Censorship as Fracas Erupts Over 'Tom and Jerry' Cartoons

A controversy has erupted over Warner Bros.' Golden Collection of "Tom and Jerry" cartoons, after two episodes were pulled from the latest Blu-ray disc set because the cat and mouse were in blackface, reports the U.K. publication The Independent.

"The controversy surrounds the second installment of Warner Brothers' 'Golden Collection,' which fans believed would be a full chronological and uncut series," the story reports. "It was meant to have been released two months ago but still hasn't reached the shops and may not be seen until next year. Fans complain that the planned running order omitted Casanova Cat and Mouse Cleaning, episodes from 1951 and 1948 that are often censored when broadcast on children's TV."

In one of the episodes Tom tries to impress a female cat by putting blackface on Jerry, who then performs a minstrel dance, the story says. In another episode, Tom wears blackface.

The piece notes, "Adult collectors say they are grown-up enough -- and understand the time the cartoons were made -- to be trusted with the material."

Customers have taken to Amazon's pre-sale order pages to complain, with one customer writing, "Culture is always reflected in cartoons, and while this may not have been right, it existed. It is a shame to omit pieces of history in a collection simply due to PR getting shaky boots over the past."

A representative for Warner Bros. said, "The company felt that certain content would be inappropriate for the intended audience and therefore excluded several shorts."

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Actress Who Has Been Nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe and Two Emmys -- Without Any Wins -- Joins M. Night Shyamalan TV Project

An M. Night Shyamalan project in the works at the Fox Network has brought in an Oscar-, Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated actress. reports that Juliette Lewis has been cast in "Wayward Pines."

Lewis will play Beverly, a local bartender, on the limited project, the story says. Her character is described as "warm and approachable," and a like-minded character to Matt Dillon's Secret Service agent, the piece adds.

Dillon's character arrives in the town of Wayward Pines, Idaho, in search of two missing federal agents. His investigation, however, only uncovers more questions, the story notes.

Lewis received a lot of recognition for her supporting work in the 1991 Martin Scorsese movie "Cape Fear," earning an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe nomination for the part. She was also nominated for a Primetime Emmy in 2003 for HBO's "Hysterical Blindness" and for a Daytime Emmy in 2002 for Showtime's "My Louisiana Sky."


Juliette Lewis

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Controversial NBC Project on Hillary Clinton May Be Produced by Fox

Fox Television Studios, a sister company of Fox News, is in discussions with NBC about producing its miniseries about Hillary Clinton, which has been a target of a threatened boycott by the Republican National Committee, reports.

The talks are said to be preliminary, with both sides still far apart, the piece notes.

"The economics of TV movies and miniseries are challenging, which is why very few production companies take on such programs these days. That includes NBC’s own studio, Universal TV, which would not produce NBC’s longform projects, including 'Hillary,'" the piece reports.

As previously reported, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus last week warned NBC and CNN that it will not partner with them on presidential debates during the 2016 election cycle unless they "pull the plug" on two separate projects about the former first lady that are in the works at each network.

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Report: What to Expect From the New iPhone, Which Is Likely to Be Revealed Sept. 10

Presentation of the new Apple iPhone is expected early next month, on Tuesday, Sept. 10, reports All Things D.

And here's what we can expect from the new phone, according to

"• Same design as iPhone 5
• Apple rumored to be discontinuing production of other phones to focus solely on its upcoming new models.
• Same 4 inch screen size but possibly of a different display, which may bring better battery life
• Better 12-13mp camera with dual-LED Flash
• Fingerprint reader
• New cheaper iPhone, most likely to be named iPhone 5C with possible new color options, 3.5-inch screen and a 5MP camera"

To read about each of these bullet points in detail, please click on the link to TheNextWeb above and read its original piece.

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Customers Sue Time Warner Cable Over Loss of Local Broadcast Channel in Retrans Dispute

A group of Time Warner Cable customers filed suit against the company over its dropping of a local broadcast channel from its lineup, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

The channel is Milwaukee NBC affiliate WTMJ-TV (Channel 4), and the move is unrelated to the current dispute between TWC and CBS -- even if the tone of the WTMJ impasse is similar to that of the CBS-Time Warner situation, in which CBS-owned stations and cable channels have been blacked out on Time Warner systems.

"Time Warner dropped WTMJ on July 25 over a contract dispute. Both companies have been running public relations campaigns ever since trying to convince the public the other side is making unreasonable demands," the story reports. "WTMJ is owned by Journal Broadcast Group, which in turn is owned by Journal Communications, which also owns the Journal Sentinel."

The lawsuit was filed by three Time Warner customers. "The lawsuit, filed late Thursday in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, seeks class-action status on behalf of all Time Warner subscribers who no longer get WTMJ-TV on their service," the piece reports.

It adds: "The suit seeks unspecified damages for breach of contract, and a day's credit for each customer for every day service was interrupted more than four hours, under a state statute that addresses service interruption."

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CBS Puts Numbers to Ratings Impact From Time Warner Cable Blackout

CBS talked about the financial impact and ratings impact of the Time Warner Cable blackout, which has cut access to the broadcast network for many customers in major markets. According to CBS, the impact has been minimal.

The network says it is down only .2% in viewers and has seen no change in the 18-49 demographic since the blackout went into effect, reports's Inside TV.

Time Warner Cable pulled the network Aug. 2.

"Compared to the same week last summer, CBS’s Friday-Thursday prime-time programs during the blackout are actually up 38% in viewers and 33% in both adults 18-49 and 25-54, according to Nielsen results," the story notes.

The report adds: "CBS says the overall financial hit to the net is negligible -- for now -- since August is typically a low-rated month anyway."

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New Set, New Format in the Works for NBC's 'Today' -- 'Much More Than a Fresh Coat of Paint'

A new set for NBC's venerable morning show "Today," which executive producer Don Nash says is "much more than a fresh coat of paint,” will be unveiled Monday, Sept. 9, reports TVNewser.

Said Nash: “It is much more ‘current’ than what we have; I think it is much more exciting. We will have a lot more bells and whistles to play with, but it is classy, just like the show itself.”

The show will move out of the current Studio 1A this week and be taped from the plaza for about three weeks, allowing the set to be completed. The show will also receive a new graphics package.

The story adds: "'Today' has also been tweaking its format somewhat. This week the 9 a.m. hour of the program was re-branded as 'Today’s Take,' featuring a new introduction and voice-over, and expanding on the roundtable format with Willie Geist, Natalie Morales and Al Roker. The first news segment of the third hour was pushed down from where it had been to make room for the expanded chat section, part of a formula Nash says they have been tweaking."

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'Bones' Creator Sells Drama Project to Fox

"Bones" creator Hart Hanson and "Rubicon" creator Jason Horwitch have sold a detective drama to Fox, reports

Called "Noone," the project has been put in development and tracks a female police detective in San Francisco. The drama is described as "a story of redemption, martial arts and romance," the piece notes.

The project is from 20th Century Fox TV, where Hanson is under an overall deal.

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Drama Development Off to a Slow Start

The marketplace for network dramas has been "very sluggish" so far this development season, aside from a bidding frenzy over the sci-fi project "Extant," reports Nellie Andreeva at

"I hear there is a sense of quiet panic at some of the networks over the dearth of drama pitches. Word is some of them, like NBC, have only bought about a couple so far, with a couple more in the deal-making process," Andreeva writes.

"Besides 'Extant,' which is headed to next summer with a series order at CBS, there has been only one significant commitment to an hourlong project so far this season, Fox’s put pilot buy of Michael Green’s adaptation of 'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' right after Independence Day," she adds.

"There is fear that there may not be too many other marquee projects from seasoned showrunners this year as many of them are tied up in staff jobs," the piece notes.

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Worst Movie Ever Made? Embarrassingly Bad Jerry Lewis Footage Creates Buzz Online -- See It Here

Clips from a lost movie that some media outlets are speculating might be the worst movie ever made are creating some excitement online -- along with potential embarrassment for veteran comedian Jerry Lewis.

The latest clip to surface is a rough seven-minute "making of" from the 1972 movie, "The Day the Clown Cried," which Lewis starred in, co-wrote and directed.

Lewis himself was unhappy with the work, NBC News reports. "The film was not made as a comedy; it was to have been Lewis' first foray into serious drama. But after test screenings went terribly wrong, Lewis (who told Dick Cavett in 1973 that he'd planned to release it at the Cannes Film Festival) pulled the film," the story reports.

Lewis, now 87, was asked about the movie this year at Cannes, and reportedly said: "It was all bad and it was bad because I lost the magic. You will never see it. No one will ever see it, because I am embarrassed at the poor work."

In the movie, "Lewis plays a circus performer who is taken by the Nazis after making fun of Hitler. In the concentration camp where he's sent, he amuses the children with his routine, and eventually walks with them into a gas chamber. The last scene involves Lewis' clown (Helmut Doork) and the children laughing while the gas surrounds them," NBC News reports.

The report adds: "'The Day the Clown Cried' is perhaps the most infamous film that was never released, and if Lewis has his way, it will never see the light of day. But on Saturday, YouTube user Unclesporkums uploaded perhaps the longest clip (it's a 7-minute 'Making of Footage' collection of clips) to ever publicly surface of the film in the past 41 years, which introduces the movie mistake to a whole new generation."

The report notes that one of the few people to have seen the movie since Lewis shelved it is comedian Harry Shearer, known for his voice work on "The Simpsons." Shearer, who reportedly saw a rough cut back in the late 1970s, talked about it in an interview with Spy magazine in 1992.

Shearer is quoted as saying: "Seeing this film was really awe-inspiring, in that you are rarely in the presence of a perfect object. This was a perfect object. This movie is so drastically wrong, its pathos and its comedy are so wildly misplaced, that you could not, in your fantasy of what it might be like, improve on what it really is. 'Oh My God!' -- that’s all you can say."

Here's the clip:

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She Met Her Husband, Steve Lawrence, on a TV Show, and They Became One of the Most Famous Married Musical Acts in TV and Nightclub History: Eydie Gorme Dies at 84

"Concert and recording superstar Eydie Gormé, 84, who -- performing everything from ballads to bossa nova with singing partner and husband Steve Lawrence -- made an indelible impression on American audiences during the swingin' '60s, died Saturday afternoon [Aug. 10, 2013] in Las Vegas, her spokesman, Howard Bragman, tells People," the magazine reports on its website.

The People obituary continues: " 'Legendary singer and performer Eydie Gormé passed away peacefully at Sunrise Hospital following a brief illness,' Bragman said in a statement. 'She was surrounded by her husband, son and other loved ones at the time of her death.'" Bragman did not give any details about Gormé's illness.

People continues: "In his own statement, Steve Lawrence, 78, said: 'Eydie has been my partner on stage and in life for more than 55 years. I fell in love with her the moment I saw her and even more the first time I heard her sing.' He added, 'While my personal loss is unimaginable, the world has lost one of the greatest pop vocalists of all time.' "

Says the Associated Press obituary: "Gormé was a successful band singer and nightclub entertainer when she was invited to join the cast of Steve Allen's local New York television show in 1953. She sang solos and also did duets and comedy skits with Lawrence, a rising young singer who had joined the show a year earlier. When the program became NBC's 'Tonight Show' in 1954, the young couple went with it. They married in Las Vegas in 1957 and later performed for audiences there."

The AP story adds: "Although usually recognized for her musical partnership with Lawrence, Gormé broke through on her own with the Grammy-nominated "Blame It on the Bossa Nova." The bouncy tune about a dance craze of the time was written by the Tin Pan Alley songwriting team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. Her husband had had an equally huge solo hit in 1962 with "Go Away Little Girl," written by the songwriting team of Gerry Goffin and Carole King.

"Gormé would score another solo hit in 1964, but this time for a Spanish-language recording.

"Gormé, who was born in New York City to Sephardic Jewish parents, grew up speaking both English and Spanish. When she and her husband were at the height of their career as a team in 1964, Columbia Records President Goddard Lieberson suggested she put that Spanish to use in the recording studio.

"The result was 'Amor,' recorded with the Mexican combo Trio Los Panchos."

The People obituary notes: "A favorite on 'The Ed Sullivan Show,' in showrooms in the Catskills and in Las Vegas -- where they later took up permanent residence -- as well as on stages, including Carnegie Hall, Steve and Eydie, as they were known, sang popular hits of the day, including Broadway standards, and exchanged pointed personal banter -- all of which their audiences ate up."

Steve and Eydie also starred on Broadway in the musical "Golden Rainbow," which opened in February 1968 and played for about a year.

The People story adds: "Gormé and Lawrence had two sons: David, a composer, and Michael, who died in 1986, at 23, from an undiagnosed heart condition. Steve and David Lawrence survive Gormé, as does a granddaughter and generations of fans. 'Services are pending and will be private,' said spokesman Bragman."

Steve & Eydie.bmpEydie Gormé with her husband, Steve Lawrence

Be sure you check out the must-see video clip below that we found on YouTube. It's an incredible 4-minute tracking shot from "The Steve Allen Show" in 1958. It features Allen, Ann Sothern, Steve Lawrence, Eydie Gormé, Dinah Shore and a special mystery guest singing "This Could Be the Start of Something Big".

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'Big Brother' Matches Its Season High, Carries CBS to Ratings Win

CBS's "Big Brother" equaled its high for the season Thursday night, lifting CBS to a nightly win in the broadcast ratings, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. reports that the reality show delivered a 2.5 average rating in viewers 18-49, matching last week's season high. The report notes that preseason NFL broadcasts created numerous pre-emptions in local markets, meaning the numbers will be subject to more than the usual adjustments.

CBS filled out the rest of its prime-time lineup with repeat programming, but still won the night handily.

Second-place NBC got a bump from the season finale of "The Winner Is," which surged 40% over its week-ago number to a 1.4 in the 18-49 demo. The show's lead-out, "Hollywood Game Night," also rose, improving 25% to a 1.5.

ABC had mixed results with its lineup of fresh programs. "Wipeout" fell 8% from a week ago to a 1.1 average in the 18-49 demo, while "Motive" ticked up 25% from last week's series low to a 1.0 and "Rookie Blue" improved 20% from a series low a week ago to a 1.2.

Fox got by on all repeats and wound up in fifth place among the broadcast nets.

For prime time overall, CBS led the way with a 1.9 in adults 18-49, followed by NBC (1.4 average), Univision (1.3), ABC (1.1) and Fox (0.8). CBS also won total viewers, averaging 6.6 million to lead NBC (5.0 million), ABC (4.7 million), Univision (3.2 million) and Fox (2.3 million).

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Former Model Settles Lawsuit Over 'Mad Men' Title Sequence

A lawsuit over the title sequence to AMC's hit drama series "Mad Men" has been settled. The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq. reports that model Gita Hall May settled her suit against Lionsgate Entertainment over briefly showing her during the show's opening credits.

"The lawsuit was filed in March by the 79-year-old ex-model who alleged her image from a Richard Avedon photograph shot more than half a century ago was used without her permission," THR reports. "The photo was for an early-'60s Revlon ad, and May said that she had never consented 'to allow, forty years later, her image to be cropped from the photo, in secret, and inserted as a key element in the title sequence of a cable television series.'”

Lionsgate had argued that its use of the image was protected by the First Amendment.

"On Monday, a Los Angeles Court was scheduled to hold a hearing on the defendant's anti-SLAPP motion, but in advance, the parties have figured out a way to resolve the situation," the story reports. "Court papers indicate an unconditional settlement but don't spell out the terms."

The THR piece notes: "The opening of 'Mad Men' contains more than 40 period advertisements, according to a declaration by 'Mad Men' executive producer Scott Hornbacher, including those from Herman Miller, IBM, American Airlines, Carling Black Label Beer, Van Heausen, Pan Am, TWA, Heinz, Lady Remington, Zippo and Smirnoff Vodka."

Lionsgate reportedly argued in a previous motion to strike down the lawsuit: "Visible for barely more than one second, the image from the advertisement ... has been altered and combined with dozens of other creatively altered images also taken from period advertisements and with new creative elements to form a highly distinctive opening sequence that is as much creative expression as the content of the Series itself."

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Joy Behar Exits 'The View,' Fires a Four-Letter Shot at Harry Reasoner on Her Way Out the Door

Joy Behar was never expected to go quietly. The 16-year veteran co-host got in one last shot before departing "The View," and she made it count, dropping a carefully aimed F-bomb on veteran newsman Harry Reasoner, the New York Daily News reports.

"Barbara Walters threw Joy Behar a 60-minute going-away party on 'The View' Friday and Behar said thanks by tossing a blunt F-word at an old Walters adversary," the report says. "Behar ended her brief farewell remarks at the end of the show by saying 'something I've been meaning to say on [Walters'] behalf for 16 years: "F--- Harry Reasoner." ' "

Reasoner, who died in 1991, was reportedly unhappy about being stuck with Walters as his co-anchor when Walters broke the gender barrier on the "ABC Evening News" back in the 1970s. Walters has said Reasoner made things tough on her at the time.

"Walters reacted to Behar's comment Friday with a combination of a gasp and a laugh," the report notes.


Joy Behar

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Amanda Bynes Has Her Forced Hospital Stay Extended; Mom Gets Conservatorship

Actress Amanda Bynes will remain involuntarily confined in a mental hospital for an additional 30 days after a judge extended her hospitalization for a second time today, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"Bynes has been involuntarily hospitalized since late July 22 after she set a small fire in the driveway of a Thousand Oaks home, lighting her pants on fire in the process. Her initial 72-hour hold was later extended by two weeks, which ended Thursday night," the story reports.

Additionally, Bynes' mother was reportedly granted temporary conservatorship over her daughter's finances and medical care.

The Times reports: "A judge traveled to the Ventura hospital where Bynes is being held to make the ruling about her continued care, TMZ reported. Doctors had reportedly made the decision that the 'She's the Man' star should stay in their care, in line with state law that says such an arrangement can be made only if the patient is 'gravely disabled as a result of a mental disorder,' the site said."

Bynes missed the probate court hearing today on the temporary conservatorship, as doctors determined that she was not well enough to attend, the Times notes. "She reportedly intended to fight against such an arrangement, which was pursued by her parents, Richard and Lynn Bynes, and awarded to Lynn," the story reports.

The piece adds: "Amanda is 'not improving yet. ... These meds take longer than a week to work, and she's only been given them for about a week,' a 'well-placed' source told the New York Daily News on Thursday."

In their application for conservatorship, Bynes' parents reportedly expressed concern that, among her other issues, Amanda had gone through $1.2 million of her $4 million savings.


Amanda Bynes

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Video: First Trailer for New 'Homeland' Season

After leaving viewers in suspense with a second season that ended in a bang -- literally, with an attack on a CIA memorial service -- Showtime has released a three-minute clip previewing the upcoming third season of its drama hit "Homeland," which returns Sept. 29, USA Today reports.

"Marine-turned-terrorist Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) was framed for the attack, and is now on the lam. He's absent from the first two episodes, after a teary farewell with handler/love interest Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), and when we do see him (as you'll see in the trailer), he's sporting a hoodie over his shaved head. Meanwhile, daughter Dana tries out a Muslim prayer mat," the piece reports.

Says executive producer Alex Gansa: "One of the themes of season three is the cost that being an intelligence officer exacts on the people who are in that career. And Saul (Mandy Patinkin) and Carrie are obviously the prime examples of that. As a result of the attack last year, the CIA itself is on trial: That agency couldn't even protect itself; how should it be expected to protect the country? Saul is confronted with that very question in the first episode."

Here's the trailer:

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MSNBC Building Prime-Time Talk Show Around a Familiar -- and Controversial -- TV Actor

MSNBC is creating a prime-time talk show for an actor who has been a fixture on television in recent years -- and who has attracted his share of headlines and controversy surrounding his off-air escapades.

Mediaite reports that the cable news channel is readying a weekly show for "30 Rock" star Alec Baldwin, which the story says will feature "a large dose of Baldwin's outspoken liberal politics."

The untitled show is being created with the 10 p.m. Friday slot in mind, the story notes. Baldwin has a long history with NBCUniversal, including having starred on "30 Rock" for seven seasons on NBC and being a frequent guest host on "Saturday Night Live."

His political point of view also would fit MSNBC's tendency to air progressive and liberal viewpoints, the piece notes.

The 10 p.m. hour on MSNBC is currently occupied by Lawrence O'Donnell, although his show only airs Monday through Thursday. Currently "Lockup," a prison documentary, airs on Friday evenings.

Baldwin has been something of a cottage industry for the celebrity gossip sites, ringing up headlines for his clashes with the paparazzi and repeatedly getting himself in trouble with angry Twitter rants.


Alec Baldwin

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Al Jazeera America Hires Former NBC News Anchor

Al Jazeera America continued what TVNewser calls its "string of big splashy hires" with its announcement that the cable news channel has hired former "NBC Nightly News" weekend anchor John Seigenthaler.

Seigenthaler worked for NBC News for 11 years, reporting on 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 London bombings, the story notes. He left NBC in 2007 and became chief executive of Seigenthaler Public Relations-NY.

"I’m proud to join a respected worldwide news organization that is committed to delivering high quality, objective and balanced investigative journalism,” Seigenthaler said in a statement. “While other networks and newspapers are cutting back, Aljazeera is growing. It’s exciting to be part of the launch of this unique cable news channel.”


John Seigenthaler

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'American Masters' Filmmaker Dead at 67

A filmmaker whose work for the PBS series "American Masters" focused on celebrities including Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, has died, The New York Times reports. Gail Levin was 67.

Levin died of complications from metastatic breast cancer, her brother and only survivor, David Levin, said.

"She often played down biographical details to tell the subject’s stories in an almost impressionistic manner," The Times notes.

In "Marilyn Monroe: Still Life," from 2006, she looked at the actress through photographs of her, while in "Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides" (2011), she looked at Bridges' off-screen work as a painter, potter and vintner, the story says.

Her last film, "Cab Calloway: Sketches," focused on Calloway's dance moves, which continue to have impact, and his broad appeal with audiences, the story says.


Gail Levin

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Fox News Moving Daytime Anchor Into Prime Time -- but How Will the Channel Make Room?

Change is coming to the Fox News Channel prime-time lineup, and the one certainty is that the cable news operation will move "America Live" host Megyn Kelly from her afternoon slot into prime time. But Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes isn't disclosing much about how the network might reshuffle its evening schedule to make room for Kelly, reports the Los Angeles Times.

"Megyn has earned a better time period; she will be in our prime-time lineup," Ailes said Thursday during an interview with Fox News managing editor Neil Cavuto held at parent company 21st Century Fox's investor conference.

Ailes, however, didn't disclose what time period Kelly will secure when she returns from maternity leave.

The comment comes after the Drudge Report earlier Thursday speculated that Sean Hannity would be ousted from his 9 p.m. hour to make room for Kelly.

Ailes declined to comment on the report, calling it a "rumor at the moment."

"Hannity is a brand who many of our viewers love and want to see, and he's probably the nicest guy in the building," Ailes said. "The difference between Hannity and everyone else [at rival networks] is that he's a conservative but he has liberals on every night to argue with."

When Cavuto pointed out that Ailes hadn't mentioned Bill O'Reilly, Ailes joked, "Yup, he's finished. No, I'm just kidding, don't let that out. ... No one is leaving."

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for megyn-kelly.jpg

Megyn Kelly

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CBS Working on High-Concept 'Wizard of Oz' Project

CBS has a high-concept "Wizard of Oz" adaptation in the works,'s Inside TV reports, with the network calling the project "a medical soap based in New York City, inspired by the characters and themes immortalized" in the classic movie.

The show is from writer Emily Fox of "Ghost Whisperer" and executive producers Carl Beverly and Sarah Timberman, and comes from CBS Television Studios.

"When you think about it, there is a certain medical drama aspect to the classic film," James Hibberd writes in the EW report. "Stay with me here -- Dorothy’s friends are all missing some vital component that they’re on a quest to recover. She helps put the life-saving straw back in the Scarecrow and gives joint-loosening oil to the Tin Man (who then gets a 'heart' from the Wizard)."

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Was Stephen Colbert's 'Get Lucky' Dance Party a Hoax? Colbert Responds to the Claim

In what's being called "Daftpunkgate," Stephen Colbert came under criticism for his "Get Lucky" dance party on Tuesday, with some viewers speculating that it was an elaborate hoax to build ratings for MTV, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

Colbert addressed the question Wednesday by sarcastically agreeing with the claim.

“You got me!” he said. “We thought we had tricked you by flying the disco Decepticons from Paris, in a sophisticated pantomime to fool everyone -- even myself, so committed was I -- that Daft Punk was coming all just to help someone else’s show on another network a month from now.”

Daftpunkgate came about after the French pop duo Daft Punk was slated to appear on "The Colbert Report," but canceled Monday afternoon. Colbert said the reason was an exclusive agreement with sister network MTV to exclusively appear on that network's Video Music Awards, which are slated for Aug. 25.

That put Colbert in a bind, given that he said he had sold a sponsorship deal to Hyundai. Instead, the show created its own "Get Lucky" video, featuring cameos from Hugh Laurie, Jimmy Fallon, Matt Damon, the cast of "Breaking Bad" (including a roller-skating segment with Bryan Cranston) and Henry Kissinger.

"A little detective work, however, indicates that while Colbert and his staff deserve credit for their crisis management skills and for creating one of the year’s most thoroughly entertaining viral videos, not everything was as last minute as it seems," the Times notes.

For example, the cast of "Breaking Bad" appeared on "Charlie Rose" Friday night and Cranston appeared on Colbert's show on Aug. 1, so it's likely that the actor taped his segment while visiting New York last week, the story says.

Here's Colbert responding to Daftpunkgate allegations:

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Video Archive

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Former Prime-Time Star Eyes Return to Network TV After Foray Into Movies

An Emmy-winning actress who was a fixture on prime-time television until she exited a few years ago for a move to the big screen is looking to get back on network TV.

Katherine Heigl, who left "Grey's Anatomy" more than three years ago, is on board as the lead in a new drama project that's being shopped to cable and broadcast networks, reports Nellie Andreeva at

"NBC appears a strong contender, though I hear that there is interest/offers from multiple networks, so a decision likely won’t be made until next week," Andreeva writes.

The project is written by Alexi Hawley, who serves as supervising producer on Fox's "The Following."

"I hear the procedural focuses on how the CIA handles hotspots around the globe, with Heigl playing an adviser/communications liaison for the U.S. president," the story says. "Heigl, who I hear responded to the strong female character at the center of the show, is executive producing with her mother/manager Nancy Heigl," as well as producer Robert Simonds of "The Pink Panther" and Julia Franz.

Heigl won an Emmy for her performance as Dr. Isobel "Izzie" Stevens on ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" in 2007, and has had success in a string of feature films including "Knocked Up," "Under Siege 2: Dark Territory" and "27 Dresses."


Katherine Heigl

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Transgender TV Personality Accuses BET Awards of Discrimination

A transgender television personality alleges discrimination in a $2.5 million lawsuit over his appearance at the 2013 BET Awards, The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq. reports.

B. Scott, born Brandon Scott Sessoms, claims that when he was offered the role of "style stage correspondent," BET and corporate parent Viacom were "fully aware" of his style and personality.

He alleges his clothing for the evening was approved, but says he was later pulled backstage and told that he "wasn't acceptable," according to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. The lawsuit alleges, "B. Scott was told to mute the makeup, pull back his hair and was forced to remove his clothing and take off his heels; thereby completely changing his gender identity and expression."

The story, which uses the "he/his" pronoun to be consistent with the lawsuit, adds, "In past discrimination lawsuits, judges have given wide latitude to producers if it's in the name of the creative process of making content. A lawsuit over alleged sexual harassment from jokes told in the 'Friends' writers' room failed. So too did a class action against producers of 'The Bachelor' for refusing to cast African Americans in lead roles."


B. Scott

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CNN Medical Guru Shifts His Position on Pot, Apologizes for Earlier Stance

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta says he has changed his mind about marijuana, and is apologizing for his earlier opposition to the legalization of medical marijuana, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

His change of opinion comes as CNN is set to air his documentary "Weed," the story notes.

In an essay called "Why I Changed My Mind on Weed" that was published on CNN's website, Gupta writes that he had relied on mainstream research for his earlier opinion.

"I didn't look far enough," he wrote. "I didn't review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis."

He added, "We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that."

"Weed" will air Sunday on CNN.

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Piracy of CBS Show Spikes in Areas Where the Network Is Blacked Out

Piracy of a CBS series has seen a spike, with particularly large increases in cities where the network is blacked out amid a contract dispute with Time Warner Cable. cites data from TorrentFreak, which says the increase in illegal downloads of the summer hit "Under the Dome" puts the show among the most-pirated programs.

Piracy of "Under the Dome" jumped 34% over the weekend, while in New York City, where CBS is blacked out, the piracy rate more than doubled, with the show making up 3% of all downloads in the U.S. this week, up from 1.3% the previous week, according to data from TorrentFreak.

The site said that more sampling is required before coming to conclusions.

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Leah Remini Files Missing Person Report on Wife of Scientology Leader

Former "King of Queens" actress Leah Remini, who publicly broke from the Church of Scientology last month, has filed a missing person report with the police on the wife of the organization's leader, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Shelly Miscavige, the wife of Scientology leader David Miscavige, allegedly hasn't been seen in public in six years, the story notes.

As previously reported, Remini broke from the church after she reportedly threatened to call the police about the whereabouts of Shelly Miscavige. She questioned the church leader about her whereabouts at Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' 2006 wedding, reportedly leading to Remini's receiving "thought modification" from the church for five years.

A representative for the church denied that the leader's wife is missing, telling TMZ that the missing person report "is a publicity stunt cooked up by a small band of unemployed fanatics who live on the fringe of the Internet."

"The Church and the attorney for Mrs. Miscavige have already responded to this ludicrous claim -- as you noted yourself in your story," the representative said.

The TMZ story includes this: "According to a report on the Hollywood Reporter, Shelly hasn't made a public appearance in six years -- though in 2012, her attorneys issued a statement saying, 'Any reports that [Shelly] is missing are false.'"

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'Underwhelming' Title Revealed for 'Sharknado' Sequel

The title for Syfy's "Sharknado" sequel has been revealed, and it's what The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed calls "an underwhelming name."

The sequel for the original Syfy movie will be called "Sharknado 2: The Second One," the story says. It's scheduled to premiere in 2014 and will be set in New York City.

Fans weren't all that fond of the new title, with "Mortal Kombat" co-creator Ed Boon tweeting, "Sharknado 2: The Second One. Really? That's the title of the sequel? Why not just call it 'Sharknado 2 1/2' while you're at it ?"

THR offered a few suggestions that it believes have "more, um, bite" than the sequel's title. They include: "Sharknado 2: Sharkz in the Hood" and "Sharknado 2: Sharks Take Manhattan."

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Hey Little Buddies, Three TV Classics Return to the Small Screen: 'Gilligan's Island,' 'The Love Boat,' and the Steve McQueen Western 'Wanted: Dead or Alive'

Three classic TV shows are returning to the small screen next month: "Gilligan's Island," "The Love Boat" and "Wanted: Dead or Alive," starring Steve McQueen.

All of the shows will be returning on Me-TV, the Memorable Entertainment Television digital network from Weigel Broadcasting that's primarily distributed on TV stations' subchannels.

Me-TV made the announcement of its fall schedule -- which starts Monday, Sept. 2, 2013 -- during its airing of "Night Gallery" last night, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. It also posted the announcement on its Facebook page.

This is from Me-TV's official press announcemnt:

Joining the Me-TV schedule for their maiden voyage on the network are two seaworthy series: ‘Gilligan’s Island’ and ‘The Love Boat.’ Other brand new shows to the ‘Fall for Me’ schedule, as well as the Me-TV library, include ‘F Troop,’ ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive,’ starring Steve McQueen, and beginning in November, ‘The Alfred Hitchcock Hour’ joins the Sunday Night Noir lineup.

Returning to Me-TV this fall are ‘I Love Lucy,’ ‘Cannon,’ ‘The Untouchables,’ ‘Rawhide,’ ‘The Twilight Zone,’ ‘Taxi,’ ‘The Bob Newhart Show,’ ‘Remington Steele,’ ‘The Streets of San Francisco,’ ‘The Rockford Files,’ and ‘Hogan’s Heroes.’

The annoucement has this statement from Neal Sabin, president of content and networks for Weigel:

“This fall’s Me-TV schedule has more than 60 different classic TV programs every week. No other network has as much variety or as many of the most beloved series of all time. ‘Gilligan’s Island’ and ‘The Love Boat’ are two of the most requested series from Me-TV viewers of all ages. We are happy they will both be part of our schedule this fall.”

The announcement also notes:

The Me-TV network has 150 broadcast affiliates, representing more than 90% of the country and can be found in 28 of the top 30 U.S. markets on cable and satellite. Several major media groups that have Me-TV affiliates include: Hearst, Gannett, Raycom, Sinclair, Media General, Post-Newsweek, Nexstar, Allbritton, London Broadcasting, Belo, Hubbard, Cordillera, Bahakel, Fisher, Cox, Morgan Murphy, Grant, New Press Gazette, New Age, Granite, Capitol, Dispatch, Journal, Bonten and Titan.

... Me-TV’s library includes almost 100 series from Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution, CBS Television Distribution, NBCUniversal Television as well as many independent series owners and producers. Me-TV’s lineup includes ... M*A*S*H, The Brady Bunch, Cheers, Perry Mason, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Gunsmoke, I Love Lucy, and Hawaii Five-O.

gilligan's island.bmpThe Ballad of Gilligan's Island
Just sit right back
And you'll hear a tale
A tale of a fateful trip,
That started from this tropic port,
Aboard this tiny ship.
The mate was a mighty sailin' man,
The Skipper brave and sure,
Five passengers set sail that day,
For a three hour tour,
A three hour tour.

The weather started getting rough,
The tiny ship was tossed.
If not for the courage of the fearless crew
The Minnow would be lost.
The Minnow would be lost.

The ship set ground on the shore
Of this uncharted desert isle
With Gilligan,
The Skipper too.
The millionaire
And his wife,
The movie star,
The professor and Mary Ann,
Here on Gilligan's Isle.

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Actor Uses, Er, Loses, His Head: One of the Actors We Remember so Fondly from 'The Sandlot' Arrested for Head-Butting a Cop

One of the stars of "The Sandlot," Tom Guiry, who played Scotty Smalls in the popular 1993 movie, has been arrested for head-butting a cop, TMZ reports.

The article says, "The story is crazy. We're told Guiry was at [Houston's] Bush Intercontinental Airport over the weekend when a United Airlines employee concluded he was too drunk to fly.

"Law enforcement sources tell us the employee contacted an airport cop, who approached Guiry and gave him two options: a public intoxication arrest, or the drunk tank.

"Guiry then made a terrible mistake -- allegedly becoming belligerent and verbally abusive ... and even threatening the officer. Guiry then allegedly tried kicking the cop in the face and then scored a headbutt."

E! News says it has confirmed the arrest of Guiry, now 31, with a spokesperson for the Houston police department. He says that Guiry has been "charged with felony assault of a public servant."

tom guiry mug shot.bmp(Above) Tom Guiry's Mug Shot (from TMZ)

scotty smalls.jpg
Tom Guiry as Scotty Smalls in the 1993 moive "The Sandlot"

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She Was One of the Major Actresses of the '70s and Won Two Golden Globes and an Oscar Nomination During That Era. Karen Black Dies at 74

"Karen Black, 74, who was Oscar-nommed for 'Five Easy Pieces' and starred in films including 'Nashville' and 'Easy Rider,' died [today,Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013], after a long battle with cancer," reports Variety.

The obituary continues, "Her husband Stephen Eckelberry announced her death on Facebook, saying, 'It is with great sadness that I have to report that my wife and best friend Karen Black has just passed away, only a few minutes ago. Thank you all for all your prayers and love, they meant so much to her as they did to me.'

"The offbeat, intense actress also tried singing, songwriting and play writing, and was nominated for a Grammy for writing the songs 'Memphis' and 'Rolling Stone' which she performed in character in Robert Altman’s 'Nashville.' "

She won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for both "Five Easy Pieces" (1970) and "The Great Gatsby" (1974). She was nominated for yet a third Golden Globe, this time for Best Actress, for her performance in "Day of the Locust" (1975).

The Variety story adds, "Associated with several iconic films and directors of the 1970s, [Black] talked to Paper magazine recently about the era, 'We were just doing our thing. I happen to have an acting style that is very spontaneous and very un-self-conscious, and it went with the movies of the ’70s. It was a great time, it was a very beautiful time. There was a way of loving freedom -- or loving spontaneity.' "

The obituary also notes that Black's first major film role came in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1966 movie "You’re a Big Boy Now," and she also appeared in TV shows including "Adam 12," "Mannix" and "Judd for the Defense" and in the TV movie "Trilogy of Terror."

The Variety story says that Black was "born Karen Blanche Ziegler in Park Ridge, Ill., [and] attended Northwestern U. before moving to New York to appear in Off-Broadway productions. She took the name Black from her first husband, Charles Black. She was also married briefly to actor Robert Burton and to screenwriter L.M. Kit Carson, with whom she had a son, Hunter Carson. She married Eckelberry in 1987, with whom she adopted a daughter, Celine."

karen black.jpgKaren Black

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CBS and Time Warner Cable Are Talking

Time Warner Cable says it's talking with CBS Corp. again, almost a week after talks broke down and the retransmission dispute between the two companies escalated to a blackout of CBS properties on TWC systems, Bloomberg reports.

In an email today, TWC spokesman Bobby Amirshahi reportedly said: “Our negotiators are communicating.” A spokesperson for CBS did not respond immediately to a request from Bloomberg for a comment on the story.

Since the blackout began Friday, CBS and TWC have waged a high-profile public opinion campaign. "The two companies have largely made their arguments via the press, with Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Officer Glenn Britt publicly offering to sell CBS’s networks to customers a la carte -- a system that would let subscribers decide which of the channels they wanted individually. CBS called the proposal a 'scam,'” the story reports.

At issue in the dispute are the fees CBS charges to retransmit its programming over Time Warner Cable systems, along with various side-issues such as the streaming of content over the Internet.

"The parties had a discussion last night, said Martin Franks, a CBS executive vice president, as he answered questions at a New York City Council hearing today," Bloomberg reports. "The meeting addressed the effect of the blackout on consumers."

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One of the Last of the Munchkins Dies

One of the few remaining actors who played Munchkins in the 1939 classic film "The Wizard of Oz" has died. USA Today reports that Margaret Pellegrini died Wednesday at a Phoenix-area hospital after suffering a stroke. She was 89.

Pellegrini's death leaves only two of the original 124 Munchkins still alive, the piece reports.

"Pellegrini has said she was 16 when 'The Wizard of Oz' was filmed. She played one of the 'sleepy head' kids and wore a flowerpot on her head in the movie," the story reports. "Later, Pellegrini was a guest speaker at grade schools across the Phoenix metropolitan area for many years. She usually appeared in costume and told stories about her time as a Munchkin, The Arizona Republic reported. She also told children that the 'Wizard of Oz' movie was a moral lesson."

Pelligrini is quoted as saying: "There are two roads in life that you can take -- the wrong road and the right road. And remember, there really is no place like home."

The two surviving Munchkins are reportedly Jerry Maren, 93, a Los Angeles resident, and Ruth Duccini, 95, who lives in Phoenix.


Margaret Pellegrini

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One Morning Show Is Crushing the Competition in Viewer Growth -- and It's Not on ABC or NBC

Much of the focus in the morning ratings wars has been on the rivalry between NBC's "Today" show and ABC's "Good Morning America," but another show has been leading the way in terms of viewer growth.

The show is Univision's "Despierta America" -- "Wake Up America" -- which is up 26% season-to-date in the coveted 18-49 demo, averaging 441,000 viewers, reports, citing Nielsen data. That growth comes while English-language morning shows are generally flat or down, the report points out.

"It's a testament to the torrid growth of 'Despierta America' that recent guests on the Spanish-language network's early talk show have been A-list: Matt Damon, Channing Tatum, Adam Sandler and Halle Berry," the story reports.

"Despierta America" considers the English-language morning shows its competition, the piece notes, and "Despierta" has one of the youngest demographics around.

"On average, the 'Despierta America' viewer was nearly 15 years younger (43 on average) in Q1 and Q2 2013 than its English-language morning show competition," TheWrap reports. "The average age of a 'Good Morning America' viewer was 58 years old, 'CBS This Morning' 58.5 and NBC’s 'Today' show 57, according to Nielsen data."

The report adds: "ABC’s 'Good Morning America' is flat year-over-year with an average of 1.4 million viewers; 'CBS This Morning' is basically flat as well (up 1 percent) with 729,000 viewers; and NBC’s 'Today' show is down 16 percent to 1.2 million viewers."

Is the disparity attributable simply to the fast-growing Spanish-speaking demo, or is it something more? Cesar Conde, Univision's president, says it's a combination.

"We have an audience that wants to start off their day on a positive note ... well-informed and empowered," he said. He added: "We really try to inject an element of fun and humor into our morning show … in a way that I think other networks aren’t doing."

The report adds that Conde "knows that his networks are positioned well due to their fortuitous target market. After all, Hispanic families tend to be larger, skew much younger and spend the highest percentage of disposable income on entertainment compared to other ethnolinguistic groups, he said."

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'Talent' Fuels Another Ratings Win for NBC

"America's Got Talent" continued its winning ways Wednesday night, rising from its week-ago number, ranking as the top show on broadcast prime and fueling an overall ratings win for NBC, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. reports that "Talent" delivered a 2.5 average rating in viewers 18-49, a 4% improvement from last week. NBC's "Camp" was also up, climbing 9% from a week ago to a 1.2.

Going head-to-head with "Talent" at 9 p.m., Fox's "MasterChef" managed a respectable 2.2 in the 18-49 demo, helping Fox place a close second for the night even while slipping 4% from the previous week.

CBS's "Big Brother" equaled last week's 2.1 average in 18-49, and ABC's "The Lookout" also equaled last week's number, a 0.9. The rest of the broadcast lineup consisted of repeat programming.

For prime time overall, NBC's 1.7 average rating led the way in adults 18-49, followed by Fox (1.6 average), CBS (1.4), Univision (1.2) and ABC (0.8). NBC also won total viewers, averaging 6.8 million to outpace CBS (5.6 million), Fox (4.1 million), ABC (3.2 million) and Univision (3.2 million).

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Station Group Boss: Consider Us a Buyer

Amid talk about industry consolidation in the wake of the announced acquisition of the Allbritton Television Stations by Sinclair Broadcast Group, one station group is making it clear that it would love to get in on the merger-and-acquisition action.

TVNewsCheck reports: "Count Gray Television among broadcast industry consolidators, Hilton Howell told analysts and investors today. Howell, chairman-CEO-president, said Gray is actively considering acquisitions that are accretive and de-levering."

Howell said during the company's second-quarter earnings conference call: "We are looking aggressively at partners and deals and will make sure we do our absolute best to keep our leverage in mind."

President and COO Bob Prather left that post in June, the piece notes, prompting questions about the direction the company is headed. Among the questions is whether Gray will be a buyer or a seller.

Howell made it clear the company intends to be a buyer.

Said Howell: "Gray has a vital and integral role to play in the consolidation of this industry. In terms of acquisitions, we have looked at [a lot] of things. The mantra from us is the company is in de-levering mode. We still are. But there are certain stations, certain groups that are a perfect fit for us. ... Gray has a long road ahead in terms of being able to add those types of stations to our company."

He added: "The company is simply not for sale. But let it be known I know there are people who would love to buy it. I would never say never."

The report adds: "Gray has been quietly expanding its portfolio with stations in Dothan, Ala.; North Platte, Neb; and, most recently, the addition of KJCT, the ABC affiliate in Grand Junction, Colo."

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NBCUniversal Makes Key Cable Appointments

NBCUniversal today announced key appointments in the executive lineup of its Cable Entertainment Group. Named as executive vice president, Research and Insights, was Charles Kennedy, while Liz Mahaffey was appointed as executive vice president, Brand Strategy.

Making the announcements was NBCU Cable Entertainment Chairman Bonnie Hammer, to whom both executives will report.

Said Hammer: “Charles is at the top of his field, a talented executive with a deep knowledge of the business. His keen insights, opinions and feedback are invaluable assets to our future growth.”

She added: “Liz is one of the best big picture thinkers in the business. She will play a pivotal role in making the whole of this portfolio greater than the sum of its parts.”

Please click here to read the full announcement from NBCUniversal.

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'Big Brother' Contestant Investigated Over Child Porn Comments

A contestant on CBS's "Big Brother" may have set the "moral bar at an all-time low" for the show when he made comments about child porn that triggered an investigation, reports's Inside TV.

Spencer Clawson grabbed a fellow contestant's microphone on the show and said, "I like to beat off to child porn. Did I ever tell y’all about that? I love it. … I love it when they’re around 3 or 4 years old. My favorite ones are when you can tell they’re in a basement.”

The comments were apparently an attempt to make the other contestant look bad. But the police department in Clawson's hometown of Conway, Ark., took the comments seriously and investigated, the piece reports.

"Due to the nature of the comments, our department moved quickly to look into the matter. At this time we haven’t found that any criminal act was committed," the police department said in a statement.

His employer, Union Pacific, released a statement saying that it has "taken all the action it can under the Collective Bargaining Agreement until Mr. Clawson is released from the show." Clawson has also uttered gay and misogynistic slurs, and praised Hitler, the report notes.

"Union Pacific has notified law enforcement of Mr. Clawson’s August 5 comments," the company said.


Spencer Clawson

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Jeff Zucker's Son Resigns From Cory Booker Startup Amid Questions About His Qualifications

CNN President Jeff Zucker's 15-year-old son isn't old enough to drive, but he has already been hired and quit a role on the advisory board of Cory Booker's Internet startup Waywire, reports the New York Post.

Andrew Zucker, 15, abruptly quit his seat on the advisory board after questions arose about his qualifications, the story notes. He had been granted stock options in the video-sharing site started by Booker, the Newark, N.J., mayor who is considered a rising star in the Democratic Party.

“Despite the fact that his affiliation with Waywire was extremely limited to only an advisory capacity, in order to avoid even the perception of a conflict, Jeff’s son has resigned from the Waywire advisory board, effective immediately,” CNN said in a statement.

Critics on Twitter had called out the arrangement, condemning it as a "gross nepotism alert," the story says.

It also raised eyebrows among corporate-governance experts, who said they'd never heard of anyone so young serving on an advisory board, which are usually filled with experienced people who understand how to help a startup get to the next level, the piece adds.

On top of that, the arrangement raised questions about the relationship between Jeff Zucker and Booker, who often is covered by CNN, the article notes. A spokesman for Booker said the mayor wasn't involved in selecting Andrew Zucker for the position.

"The mayor never met with or talked to Andrew when he advised the company, and wasn’t involved in him joining Waywire,” a spokesman said.

A representative for Waywire said the boy was hired in March after he had "developed a reputation of being able to identify technologies that would be popular with teenagers and which ones wouldn’t be."

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Lady Gaga Gets Fully Nude in Video

"The Marina Abramovic Institute enlisted Lady Gaga to help them draw attention to their Kickstarter campaign fund by going nude -- completely nude -- in a new promotional video," reports Us Weekly.

The article continues, "In the video, the 27-year-old 'Born This Way' singer starts out fully clothed in a gray jumpsuit and chanting outdoors. She then bares her completely naked body in a full frontal shot while doing a series of stretches in the woods. Gaga boldly shows off her slim figure and multiple tattoos while practicing the Abramovic Method."

The story says that the Abramovic Method is "a series of exercises designed to heighten participants' awareness of their physical and mental experience in the present moment."

Here is one of the photos that accompany the Us Weekly report. The entire video can be found at the Daily Beast website at this URL:

ladygaga Abramovic Method.jpgLady Gaga demonstrates the Abramovic Method in new video

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Movie That Terrified Audiences 40 Years Ago May Be Made Into TV Series

A horror classic that created a frenzy during its theatrical run 40 years ago is being shopped as a TV drama series, reports. The movie is "The Exorcist," which marks its 40th anniversary later this year.

Morgan Creek, which owns the rights to the property, is shopping a series by feature writer Jeremy Slater, who is said to have a new take on the material. Broadcast and cable networks are interested in the project, the story says.

Morgan Creek and Roy Lee, executive producer of "The Ring," also shopped a limited series based on "The Exorcist" last year, but with a different writer.

Slater wrote the new "Fantastic Four" film, the piece notes.

The movie "The Exorcist," starring Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow and Linda Blair, quickly built a reputation for terrifying audiences when it was in theaters and was later named as the scariest movie of all time on a number of lists. It received 10 Academy Award nominations, including becoming the first horror film nominated for best picture. "The Sting" won best picture that year, while "The Exorcist" took home Oscars for best adapted screenplay and best sound mixing.

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'Two and a Half Men' Casts Charlie Harper's Lesbian Daughter

CBS's "Two and a Half Men" has cast an actress to portray Charlie Harper's lesbian daughter, a character who potentially will fill a void left by the departure of original co-lead Angus T. Jones, reports

The actress is Amber Tamblyn, who is known for television roles in "Joan of Arcadia" and "House." She has also appeared in films such as "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" and "The Grudge 2."

Tamblyn will play Jenny, the illegitimate daughter of Charlie Harper, who was portrayed by Charlie Sheen before he was fired from the show. The character has moved to Los Angeles for an acting career and wants to reconnect with her family.

The character is set to recur in five episodes, but that could be extended into a co-lead if the character is popular, the story notes.


Amber Tamblyn

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'Captain Kangaroo' Performer Dies at 86

Cosmo Allegretti, a set painter who became a figure on the children's television classic "Captain Kangaroo," has died, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker. He was 86.

Allegretti died July 26 of emphysema, the story reports. The performer stumbled into the show after producers were unhappy with a puppet and he offered to create a new design.

He portrayed Dancing Bear, and voiced many characters including Mr. Moose and Grandfather Clock. The show aired on CBS from 1955 to 1984, with Bob Keeshan in the title role. Keeshan died in 2004, while Hugh Brannum, who played Mr. Green Jeans, died in 1987. (Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash, who recently left his role on "Sesame Street," also worked on the show in the 1980s, the story adds.)

Allegretti was married in the 1950s to actress Carol Lawrence, who has appeared on shows such as "Sex and the City" and "Saved by the Bell."


Cosmo Allegretti, right, with "Captain Kangaroo" Bob Keeshan

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NBC Wins Bidding War for Comedy Project

In what is being reported as potentially the biggest commitment for a comedy project so far this development season, reports that NBC has bought a project from "Happy Endings" creator David Caspe and Jamie Tarses.

Called "Marry Me," the project also has Seth Gordon of "The King of Kong" attached to direct and executive produce. Tarses, the former head of ABC's entertainment division, will executive produce the Sony Pictures TV project.

The project created a bidding war when it went out two weeks ago, and has earned a pilot production commitment from NBC as well as a full license fee and series penalty, the story reports.

"'Marry Me' centers on a young couple who get engaged, something they quickly realize is harder than it looks," the report adds.

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VH1 Hires Fox Veteran to Oversee Programming

VH1 has hired a veteran television programming executive who worked for years at Fox as its new programming chief. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the cable network has placed Susan Levison, who was most recently at FishBowl Worldwide Media, in the post.

She replaces Jeff Olde as the network's executive vice president original programming and production. Olde left VH1 to take over the programming job at E!, the piece notes.

Levison will be based in Los Angeles and will oversee all original programming currently on the network, as well as development for both coasts. She will report to VH1 President Tom Calderone.

“Susan’s proven expertise in crafting engaging stories with strong characters in reality formats and scripted dramas and comedies makes her a perfect match for VH1 and our successful mix of music, pop culture, humor and nostalgia programming,” Calderone said.

At FishBowl, she sold unscripted series such as "Toned Up" to Bravo and "Off Beat" to Fuse. Before that, she served as senior vice president comedy development at Fox, where she shepherded shows including "The Cleveland Show" and "Bob's Burgers."


Susan Levison

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Suggestions for Surviving the CBS Blackout

With millions of viewers left without Showtime and CBS programming given the blackout of those networks on Time Warner Cable systems as a dispute drags on between the two companies, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed has compiled a "a survival guide of sorts to tide viewers over."

If you are a "Big Brother" fan, you might want to try "The Challenge: Rivals II" on MTV, which the article describes as "complete with physical challenges, social gamesmanship and all-out verbal -- and often physical -- fights. It's a more chaotic version of CBS summer staple 'Big Brother.'" It airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m.

If you miss "The Young and the Restless," there are other soaps such as "General Hospital" to tune in to, the story adds. "Veteran soaps like NBC’s 'Days of Our Lives' and ABC’s 'General Hospital' are still running strong," the piece notes.

For "Dexter" fans, the publication suggests trying "Hannibal," with the last three episodes of the show's first season available on Hulu. DVD/Blu-ray sets will come out Sept. 24.

And its last suggestion is to substitute "Under the Dome" with "Breaking Bad." The piece notes, "Dean Norris is the common thread between the two series." He plays Councilman "Big Jim" Rennie on "Under the Dome," and the DEA agent Hank on "Breaking Bad," which will return Aug. 11 with the show's final episodes.

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'Grey's Anatomy' Creator Sells Cop Drama to ABC

The creator of "Grey's Anatomy" and its spinoff "Private Practice" has sold a police drama to ABC. reports that Shonda Rhimes' Shondaland received an order from the network for the hourlong project, from "Made in Jersey" creator Dana Calvo.

Rhimes isn't expected to be writing the project, or any project this development season, given her showrunner duties on "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal," the story reports. The untitled Calvo project is set in Miami and tracks a detective known for his unusual methods, along with his new female partner, the story says.

The new project is the second sale by Rhimes for the 2014-15 season, following an order by ABC for "Lawless," from "Mistresses" developer and exec producer KJ Steinberg, the report notes.

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Quirky Rap Video From DirecTV Featuring the NFL's Manning Brothers Becomes a Viral Hit; Watch It Here -- at Your Own Risk

A rap parody featuring Eli and Peyton Manning and made by DirecTV has become a viral hit, The New York Times reports. The clip had already surpassed 4 million views by this morning, one day after being posted.

The story notes that Eli Manning "has been featured in commercial spots for Toyota, Dunkin’ Donuts and Reebok, along with a handful of prior ads for DirecTV."

The video, which advertises "Football on Your Phone," was released to promote DirecTV's mobile service for NFL Sunday Ticket. The Mannings don silly wigs and costumes during the ad, with Eli at one point jumping through a portrait of Alexander Graham Bell.

See it for yourself:

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Fox Buys Comedy From Rashida Jones and Will McCormack

Fox has made a put pilot commitment for a new comedy from Rashida Jones and Will McCormack's new production company, Le Train Train, reports

The project is "Stuck," a single-camera comedy about a middle-aged woman who gets her "stuck in childhood" daughter a job at the same bank where she works. Jones, who doesn't have plans to act in the project, will executive produce with McCormack and Alexandra Rushfield, who wrote the project.

Jones, an original cast member on NBC's "Parks and Recreation," will leave the show during its next season.

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TV Series in the Works Based on 'Rich Kids of Instagram'

Some young people featured on the "Rich Kids of Instagram" Tumblr blog, which focuses on wealthy kids showcasing their over-the-top lifestyles, will be spotlighted in a show in development at E!, reports

The project, "Rich Kids of Beverly Hills," is an unscripted show about a group of 20-something friends who get noticed on Instagram, the story says. The project is produced by ITV Studios America in association with Leepson Bounds Entertainment.

The Tumblr blog "Rich Kids of Instagram" isn't involved in the project, the story adds.

"Rich Beverly Hills teens have been a staple on TV with the two 'Beverly Hills, 90210' series," the piece notes.

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Huh? Time Warner Chief Says That for HBO's 'Game of Thrones,' the Fact That It's Among the Most Pirated TV Shows in the World Is 'Better Than an Emmy'

"Studies have shown that 'Game of Thrones' is among the most pirated TV shows around the world. In the final analysis 'that’s better than an Emmy,' [Time Warner chief Jeff] Bewkes said today [Aug. 7, 2013], speaking on the media conglom’s second-quarter earnings call," reports Variety.

The story adds: "Global Internet piracy actually helps spread the word about original programming like HBO’s 'Game of Thrones' -- ultimately leading to more paying subscribers for the premium cabler, according Bewkes."

The piece also adds that his "comment may have been somewhat tongue-in-cheek but Bewkes’ point was that buzz is good for the HBO brand."

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Mr. Rogers Remixed: How PBS Found a 'Lost Generation' of Viewers

PBS is the only broadcast network that is holding its ground in the key 18-49 demo, up in total viewers and way up in viewers 18-34, reports in a piece examining how the public broadcaster is defying the downtrend that has afflicted most broadcasters.

"Even as ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC are down, a public television network's ratings are up with a mix of Shakespeare, one of Emmy voters' favorite period dramas, and programs that teach kids to do math," the piece reports. "PBS can thank that Emmy favorite, 'Downton Abbey,' and an autotuned Mr. Rogers. And maybe even Mitt Romney, whose call to end PBS's funding last year made the Twitter generation rally around Big Bird."

PBS was wrapping up its Television Critics Association press tour presentations today in a unique position among broadcasters, the report notes: "It doesn't need to make excuses. Since last fall, the traditional Big 4 networks are all down in the key 18-49 demographic, and all but CBS are down in total viewers. (CBS is up very slightly.)"

The broadcaster's best trend is in young viewers -- especially the elusive 18-34 demo. "CBS gained 3 percent with the demo, but other broadcasters are down, even CW, which specifically targets young adults. PBS is up a whopping 18 percent," the piece reports. "The public network is landing young adults at a time when other networks aren't sure where they're hiding. The CW believes they are jettisoning television for online viewing, and has set up deals with Netflix as a result. CBS gave a TCA presentation that said younger viewers weren't as important as they used to be, because they increasingly live at home."

Jason Seiken, general manager of digital for PBS, talked about young adults as a "lost generation," the story says. The piece adds: "Children watch 'Sesame Street' to learn to read, count and be nice. Then they disappear until middle-age, when they learn to appreciate 'Masterpiece Theater,' 'Frontline' documentaries and nature shows."

The report notes that PBS's overall numbers still don't stack up against the Big 4. "PBS averaged 2.1 million total viewers last season. That puts it ahead of CW, but it has about a third as many as the least-watched Big 4 networks," TheWrap reports.

PBS's gains, the piece notes, are coming without the network "dumbing down." "It is trying to reclaim the educational mantle from cable networks like Discovery, History and TLC, which have moved toward reality shows and scripted dramas. One PBS affiliate, WNET, has an ad campaign that belittles reality shows with ads for fake series like 'The Tanners,' about feuding, sunbaked suburbanites," the story reports.

Commenting on the free publicity PBS received after Mitt Romney said during the first presidential debate that he would cut federal funding for the network, PBS President Paula Kerger said: "People had such a visceral reaction. It was helpful. People have not only their own opinions about public broadcasting, we have a place in people's hearts. The comments he made did have a positive impact. Not that I go looking for those kinds of impacts."

Other factors in the PBS rise include the system's adaptation to social media and the launch 18 months ago of PBS Digital Studios, which Seiken says mixes "PBS quality with YouTube's sensibility." One example: the autotuned Mr. Rogers video "The Garden of Your Mind," which you can view below. The video has had more than 9 million views online, and has inspired a number of other PBS remixes, the piece notes.

Please click on the link in the first paragraph of this story to read the full report.

Here's Mr. Rogers remixed:

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CBS Orders Futuristic Thriller From Spielberg

CBS today announced a straight-to-series order for a futuristic thriller from Steven Spielberg's Amblin Television and CBS Television Studios. The serialized drama "Extant" is set to air in summer 2014.

The storyline centers on the efforts of a female astronaut to reconnect with her family after she returns from spending a year in outer space. Her story reportedly has implications for the course of human history.

Please click here to read the full announcement from CBS.

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When Faith Means Risking Your Life: New Series Looks at Snake Handling

A new TV series has been announced that will examine the religious practice of snake handling. The show, announced today by National Geographic Channel, follows two pastors, Jamie Coots and Andrew Hamblin, as they lead their congregations in the controversial ritual.

"Snake Salvation" is set to premiere Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. ET/PT.

"Based on a Bible passage that suggests a poisonous snakebite will do no harm as long as its handler is anointed by God’s power, some devotees of this unconventional ritual practiced in 100 churches in the U.S. believe not participating will leave them destined for hell," the cable channel says in its announcement.

The show's two central figures "frequently battle the law, a disapproving society and sometimes their own families to lead their faithful followers to righteousness," the announcement says. It adds: "To them, handling snakes is nothing short of a commandment from God. You can call them crazy, but they are determined to keep their tradition alive no matter the cost."

Matthew Testa, the executive producer of the series, adds: “Jamie and Andrew take huge risks in practicing their faith, not just in terms of the danger posed by the venomous serpents they handle, but also from law enforcement. But they firmly believe they are commanded by the Bible to take up serpents as a sign to non-believers, and feel strongly they are exercising their religious freedom as guaranteed by the Constitution. They often say, 'God's law trumps the law of man.'"

Please click here to read the full announcement from Nat Geo and find additional details on the series.

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One Network Dominates in Tuesday's Clash of the Reality Franchises

With three reality shows making up a total of six hours of prime-time programming on the broadcast networks Tuesday night, one network, NBC, came away as the clear ratings winner.

NBC's "America's Got Talent" was the top show of the night, based on Nielsen overnights, both in total viewers and in the key 18-49 demo. And NBC won the night outright in both categories. reports that "Talent" delivered a 2.5 average rating in viewers 18-49, along with 9.26 million total viewers. Those numbers put it well ahead of Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" (1.3 average in the demo with 4.04 million viewers) and ABC's "Extreme Weight Loss" (1.2 average, 3.89 million), with the NBC show equaling the combined demo number for the other two shows and topping their combined viewer total.

However, both "America's Got Talent" and "So You Think You Can Dance" were down from last week -- "Talent" down 7% in 18-49, "Dance" off 13%. "Extreme Weight Loss" matched its week-ago number, a season high.

CBS aired a lineup of drama repeats and found itself in an unfamiliar position, finishing fifth overall among the broadcast nets in the key demo -- but it did have a strong showing in total viewers, placing second overall.

The numbers for prime time overall show NBC on top with a 2.0 average in adults 18-49, followed by Univision (1.3 average), Fox (1.3), ABC (1.0) and CBS (0.9). NBC won total viewers with 7.4 million, ahead of CBS (6.3 million), Fox (4.0 million), ABC (3.5 million) and Univision (3.2 million).

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Video: Trailer for New Spike Jonze Movie Features Scarlett Johansson as a Sexy Version of Siri

The trailer for a new Spike Jonze movie appears to ask, "What if Siri were not just a robotic voice who misinterprets your inquiries about nearby Mexican restaurants? What if Siri could understand human emotions, provide worthwhile company, and communicate with you in a voice that did not make you want to ask her to locate the closest bridge to drive off of?," Vanity Fair reports.

The movie, "Her," stars Scarlett Johansson as Samantha, the film's sultry surrogate for Siri, along with Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore Twombly, her smitten user.

"Also featured in the trailer are Amy Adams and a sad wig as a potential love interest who may not have a chance against Johansson’s smoky-voiced operator, as well as Rooney Mara (in flashback), playing the woman who left Twombly broken enough to romantically pursue a computer in the first place," the piece reports.

See -- and hear -- for yourself:

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Shark Week Shenanigans: Dead Shark on Subway Forces Evacuation

With the universe seemingly focused on sharks this week in honor of Discovery Channel's Shark Week, someone apparently took the opportunity to place a small dead shark aboard a subway train in the New York area, the AP reports.

The discovery of the shark, which the story says "appears to be about 4 feet long, has a cigarette in its mouth with a fare card and Red Bull can nearby," led to the evacuation of the train. The cigarette and other props appear to have been added by a passenger who seized the moment as a photo op.

"The conductor asked passengers to leave the car and closed it off. The train continued to the end of the line, and then a supervisor placed the shark in a garbage bag and put it in the trash," the story reports.

The piece speculates whether a fan of Shark Week may have gotten carried away.

After photos of the shark surfaced online, the piece notes, "Transit officials say they were aware of the photos but are making no effort to find the person who posted them. The transit authority says it has 'better things to do.'"

USA Today notes that a number of celebrities have been caught up in the frenzy surrounding Shark Week, with "Sharknado" star Tara Reid tweeting: "get these mother fing sharks off this mother fing plane"

Hank Azaria contributed this tweet: "It's #SharkWeek….wake me when it's Sharknado Week."

And Katie Couric went for something educational: "Fun fact for #sharkweek RT @TheAtlantic: Why don't sharks get cavities?"


Shark found on New York subway

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OMG: Your Samsung Smart TV Can Be Hacked and Made to Watch YOU Watching It, and You'd Never Know

Samsung's Smart TV can be hacked so that the hackers could watch you watching the TV, and you'd never know, according to a report by

These smart TVs are usually equipped with a camera so users can use Skype.

The article says "researchers told that the more dynamic a website is, the more opportunities there are for inserting code. They point out that the problem is not with the apps but with the way they were designed for Samsung's Smart TV."

Thus, "One of the immediate questions that arises is whether the TV can turn its camera on its owner and open a gateway for home surveillance. The researchers say that a hacker could potentially take control of the TV's camera and remain undetected.

"'They could actually either see live, streaming video into your home or office or to take still camera shots of you,' [one of the researchers] said about potential hackers. 'There's no physical indicator, nor visual indicator, that you'd be able to know your camera was on or taking pictures of you.'"

The story adds that the researchers "said that they've reached out to Samsung about their findings, and the company has been responsive to their research. It's unclear if the security flaw can be found in TVs made by other manufacturers. A spokesperson for Samsung told that the company is aware of the security issues regarding the Smart TV and has released a software update to resolve the issue. The company says it is taking measures to vigorously enhance security and protect its customers' privacy."

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News Program Names First All-Female Anchor Team

A long-running television news program will be anchored by two women for the first time in its history. The New York Times reports that "PBS NewsHour" named an all-female anchor team.

For decades the broadcast was co-anchored by the two men who created the program, Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil.

PBS said Tuesday that Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff will take over the nightly newscast in September. They will also serve as managing editors for the program.

The appointments mark the first time a network broadcast has featured a female co-anchor team, PBS said. It marks an achievement for women on television and journalism, seven years after Katie Couric was tapped as the first woman to anchor an evening news program, the piece notes.

The show originated its co-anchor format in the 1970s, when Lehrer and MacNeil founded the program. The two men co-anchored until 1995, when MacNeil retired. Lehrer continued until 2011, when he too retired. Among the program's various names over the years it was called "The MacNeil/Lehrer Report" from 1975-1983 and "The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour" from 1983-1995.

In recent years the show has had rotating anchors, with Ifill and Woodruff part of a rotation that also included Jeffrey Brown, Ray Suarez and Margaret Warner.


Gwen Ifill, left, and Judy Woodruff

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Fake Documentary Angers Viewers

A cable channel is standing by a faux-documentary that aired Sunday and brought complaints from viewers. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Discovery is defending "Megalodon," which aired as part of Shark Week.

Shark Week executive producer Michael Sorensen said in a statement that stories about the creature "have been out there for years and with 95 percent of the ocean unexplored, who really knows?," the story reports.

Sorensen added in the statement that the creature is "one of the most debated shark discussions of all time, can Megalodon exist today?"

The two-hour special included "found" footage and so-called "evidence" that the prehistoric shark is alive today, although the story notes that the megalodon lived about 1.5 million years ago.

The special has been Shark Week's highest-rated program, drawing 4.8 million viewers and a 2.6 rating in adults 25-54. The program came with three disclaimers, alerting viewers that none of the institutions or agencies in the film had approved its contents, and that while legends of giant sharks continue, "There is still debate about what they may be."

"Despite the repeated notes, many viewers took issue with 'Megalodon,' considering the opening special to Discovery's biggest event of the year to be fact," THR reports.

Actor Wil Wheaton posted a blog entry calling "Megalodon" a "bullshit 'documentary.'" Wheaton asked for an apology from Discovery, writing that the "found footage" was shot to look professional. He criticized the network for lying to the audience and presenting the animal as if it were real.

"In a cynical ploy for ratings, the network deliberately lied to its audience and presented fiction as fact. Discovery Channel betrayed its audience," Wheaton wrote.

This year's Shark Week has been Discovery's most-watched ever. It continues to air this week.

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CBS Drama Will Lose Two Cast Members

A popular CBS drama series is about to lose two of its original cast members. reports that toward the end of its sixth season, "The Mentalist" will bid farewell to Amanda Righetti and Owain Yeoman.

"The departures of colleagues and sometime lovers Van Pelt and Rigsby will likely tie into this fall’s unmasking of Red John, a six-year-old mystery whose resolution is poised to set the show on a new course," the story reports.

Series creator Bruno Heller would "neither confirm nor deny" the report of the departures, but noted that the program is entering its "most dramatic and game-changing season, and anything can happen.”


Amanda Righetti

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Report: Cord Cutting Is No Longer an Urban Myth

The U.S. pay-television industry lost 316,000 customers for the 12-month period ending in June, signaling that cord cutting is picking up pace, Variety reports, citing data from Moffett Research analyst Craig Moffett.

The news comes even as the housing market is recovering, the report notes.

"Cord cutting used to be an urban myth. It isn’t anymore,” Moffett wrote in a research report. “No, the numbers aren’t huge, but they are statistically significant.”

The story adds, "The second quarter is seasonally weak for pay TV, given that colleges shut down and 'snow birds head north,' Moffett noted. But for the 12 months ending June 30, pay TV subscribership fell about 0.3% whereas subscribership rose 330,000 (up 0.3%) for the 12-month period ending Q2 2012, according to Moffett, a longtime industry analyst who for years has warned about the affordability problem of pay TV services."

Citing an analysis by Leichtman Research Group, the story adds: "The latest figures showing the industry decline -- which has hit cable operators including Comcast and Time Warner Cable the hardest -- comes after pay-TV providers shrank subscriber rolls 80,000 on a year-to-year basis in the first quarter of 2013."

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Dustin Hoffman Treated for Cancer

Dustin Hoffman has been treated for cancer, People magazine reports, citing the actor's representative. According to the rep, the treatment was successful.

"It was detected early and he has been surgically cured," his rep said. "Dustin is feeling great and is in good health."

The two-time Oscar winner, 75, will undergo preventive treatments to minimize the likelihood of a recurrence, the story says. His rep declined to disclose more information about his cancer or treatments.

Hoffman won Oscars for "Kramer vs. Kramer" in 1980 and "Rain Man" in 1989. He's also an Emmy winner, for the 1985 CBS production "Death of a Salesman."

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'Downton Abbey' Sets Return Date -- Are Spoilers a Part of the Marketing Strategy?

PBS announced the return date for the popular period drama "Downton Abbey," whose fourth season will premiere in the U.S. Jan. 5, the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports. The premiere date is months after the program airs on British television -- a fact that will likely lead to spoilers for American audiences.

Last year, for example, many U.S. viewers found out through online publications that a major character died in the season finale, weeks before the show had aired in the U.S.

"The fact that people talk about it and that that word of mouth sort of travels once it premieres in the U.K. has actually benefited us," PBS President and Chief Executive Paula Kerger told reporters Tuesday at the Television Critics Association press tour.

The fourth season of "Downton" will debut in Britain in the fall.

Kerger said the earlier broadcast in the U.K. may be one reason the show draws such high ratings in America. "Downton Abbey" ranks as PBS's most-watched drama ever, drawing an average of 11.5 million viewers.

She added, "It's one of those handful of programs, I think, that are on the air still that people do sort of want to have a collective experience about."

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Video: Oprah Winfrey Opens Up About Recent Racism Incident

Oprah Winfrey revealed in an interview that she was recently a victim of apparent racism. In a video posted by ET Online, Winfrey, who is making the rounds of talk shows while promoting the new movie "Lee Daniels' The Butler," talks about the incident, which took place in Zurich.

"While Winfrey may be one of the most recognizable faces on the planet, she apparently doesn't have as big a fan base in Switzerland," the story notes.

Winfrey also comments on celebrity chef Paula Deen, who lost her Food Network job and a number of endorsement deals after she admitted to using a racial epithet. "I think Paula Deen was sort of used as a symbol, but I think lots of people use the word inappropriately all the time," Winfrey tells ET's Nancy O'Dell.

Winfrey says she wants to interview Deen but adds that she might take a while to reach out to her, because Winfrey wants to make sure it wouldn't result in a "defensive conversation." As time passes, Deen may be more likely to have a candid discussion without feeling attacked, Winfrey adds.

"I just really want to know what happened," she says.

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Lindsay Lohan's Late-Night Hosting Gig Pumps Up Ratings

Lindsay Lohan's guest-hosting gig on a late-night talk show produced the show's best ratings this year, reports The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Lohan hosted Monday's installment of E!'s "Chelsea Lately," filling in for Chelsea Handler. The episode ranked as the show's most-watched night since October 2012, with 890,000 total viewers. That represents a 42% increase from the show's year-to-date average, the piece notes.

Lohan poked fun of herself on the guest spot, while also interviewing "Orphan Black" actor Dylan Bruce.

Lohan has a sitdown interview with Oprah Winfrey coming up on OWN, scheduled to air Aug. 18.

Here's a clip posted by ABC News:

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CNN Takes Wraps Off Fall Prime-Time Lineup, 'Crossfire' Revival

CNN boss Jeff Zucker is hoping the cable channel's resurrected "Crossfire" will tap into viewer interest that fires up around the start of a new broadcast season, with the show set to debut Monday, Sept. 16, at 6:30 p.m., reports

"Crossfire" will debut the same week that some of the broadcasters will unveil their new shows, including Fox's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," which will also debut Sept. 16. ABC will premiere the renovated "Dancing with the Stars" the same night.

"Crossfire" has been restaffed with Newt Gingrich, Stephanie Cutter, S.E. Cupp and Van Jones, who are set to discuss political issues. CNN will also add a prime-time show called "AC 360 Later" because it, yes, airs later. The show will air Monday to Thursday at 10 p.m., two hours after Anderson Cooper's "AC 360."

Meanwhile, Wolf Blitzer's "The Situation Room" has been cut down to 90 minutes, airing from 5-6:30 p.m., in order to make space for "Crossfire."

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High-Profile Drama Project Connects Dots From 'Weeds,' 'Homeland'

A casting announcement for a high-profile cable drama project brings together some of the players behind "Weeds" and "Homeland." reports that FX has cast Justin Kirk, one of the stars of Showtime's "Weeds," in its pilot "Tyrant," which comes from Howard Gordon.

Gordon developed and executive produces Showtime's "Homeland."

Kirk will play a mysterious American diplomat with a hidden agenda in the project about an American family that is drawn into the political workings of a Middle East nation, the story says. The project has also cast Sibylla Deen.


Justin Kirk

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FX Working With 'Community' Actor on New Comedy

FX has a comedy project in the works from an actor known for his role on the NBC comedy series "Community." reports that the cable channel gave Donald Glover a script development deal for a project based on the music industry in Atlanta.

As previously reported, Glover plans to cut back his role on "Community," and will appear in only five of the next season's 13 episodes. One reason was Glover's desire to spend more time on his music career.

With the FX deal, the actor will write, executive produce and star in the project, which is called "Atlanta." Glover was attracted to FX's offer to work around his music career, in which he performs under the pseudonym Childish Gambino, the story notes.

Thumbnail image for donald-glover.jpg

Donald Glover

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CBS Program to Examine U.S. Education System

A new CBS program will take a look at the U.S. system of eduction from the point-of-view of teachers, reports. The two-hour special, "Teach," will air Sept. 6.

The documentary, directed by Oscar winner Davis Guggenheim of "An Inconvenient Truth," poses the question of what it takes to serve as a teacher, the story says. It tracks a year inside the classrooms of a fourth-grade teacher and high-school algebra teacher in Denver; an AP history teacher in Los Angeles; and a middle-school math teacher in Idaho.

The project is Guggenheim's third education-themed documentary, after "Waiting for Superman" and "The First Year."

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Another CBS Series Hits All-Time Low; ABC Series Has Its Lowest-Rated Finale Ever ... and There's More

Just one night after one of its series sank to an all-time low in the ratings, CBS suffered the same fate with another show Monday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. reports that CBS's summer hit "Under the Dome" fell to a series-low 2.5 average rating in viewers 18-49, losing 11% from its number a week earlier.

The report cites "both CBS’s ongoing carriage dispute with Time Warner, which has left TWC customers in Los Angeles, New York City and Dallas without CBS, and unusual competition from what was billed as the most dramatic 'Bachelorette' finale ever" as possible explanations for "Dome's" slide.

The result came one night after an all-time low for CBS's "Unforgettable," which faced competition from the return of NBC's Sunday night football coverage -- albeit a preseason game.

About that "Bachelorette" finale on ABC, it may have been dramatic but it was the show's lowest-rated season finale in its history, managing just a 2.5 average in the 18-49 demo -- off 16% from the previous season finale. Still, it was up 8% from last week, and a season high.

ABC's wrap-up show "The Bachelorette: After the Final Rose" matched its lowest rating in series history with a 2.5 average in 18-49 -- down 19% from a year ago. The "Bachelorette" programming still gave ABC enough of an audience to easily win the night.

NBC had its own problems. "American Ninja Warrior" turned in its lowest 18-49 number of the season, a 1.4 average rating, down 7% from last week, and "Siberia" equaled last week's all-time low with a 0.7. The bright spot was "Get Out Alive With Bear Grylls," which improved 8% after a season low a week ago, registering a 1.3.

Fox aired an all-repeat lineup, while CBS aired two hours of repeats before rolling out its fresh "Under the Dome."

On a night of season lows and series lows, the number of the night may have to go to CW's "Breaking Pointe," which barely moved the needle, delivering a season-low 0.1 average rating in viewers 18-49, down 50% from the show's 0.2 a week earlier.

For prime time overall, ABC was the easy winner in viewers 18-49 with an average rating of 2.6, ahead of CBS (1.6), Univision (1.2), NBC (1.1), Fox (0.7) and CW (0.2). CBS put up a little more of a fight in total viewers, but it still went to ABC with 8.7 million, topping CBS's 6.3 million, NBC's 3.5 million, Univision's 3.1 million, Fox's 1.8 million and CW's 564,000.

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New NBC Show Names Host

A high-profile new NBC prime-time show for fall has named its host. The New York Times reports that the network named Ryan Seacrest as host of “The Million Second Quiz.”

Seacrest was widely expected to get the job with the show, which will air nightly for two weeks of the network's schedule in September. Seacrest already hosts "American Idol" on Fox and “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” every year on ABC, along with a daily Clear Channel radio show.

The deal was announced after weeks of negotiations between NBC and Seacrest, with the host needing to ensure that the job wouldn't interfere with his other commitments. Seacrest will work from New York while "Quiz" is on the air, instead of his normal base in Los Angeles.

The show, a 60-minute trivia contest, will feature players inside an hourglass-shaped structure in Midtown Manhattan. It is scheduled to debut Sept. 9 and run through Sept. 19, with one night off while "Sunday Night Football" is on the air.

The story adds: "The arrangement is unusual, since networks typically do not like to share talent; the fact that it came together is a testament to Mr. Seacrest’s broad appeal. He will be an executive producer of the 'Quiz' as well as its host. On Twitter on Monday he called it an 'insane concept': 'The game will take one million seconds to finish…12 days, unknown bathroom breaks.'"


Ryan Seacrest

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'Anger Management' Fills Spot Left Open After Nasty Departure of Selma Blair

FX's "Anger Management" has cast an actress to succeed Selma Blair, who was ousted from the show in a nasty sequence of events back in June that went down after Blair allegedly criticized star Charlie Sheen's work habits. reports that the job is going to Laura Bell Bundy, who will play Sheen's character's new sex-study research partner, Dr. Jordan Denby. Her character is "a brilliant psychologist whose recent divorce, fondness for alcohol and wild mood swings turn Charlie’s life into an emotional roller coaster," the story reports.

Bundy starred on Broadway as Elle Woods in "Legally Blonde -- The Musical," earning a 2007 Tony Award nomination. Known more for her work on Broadway and her recording career, Bundy has had a number of film and television roles, including appearing as Becky in four episodes of "How I Met Your Mother."

Some readers may recall that the casting call announced back in June invoked the memory of the beloved NBC sitcom "Cheers," likening some of the characters on "Anger Management" to familiar "Cheers" characters.

The announcement noted: "If Charlie and Kate were like Sam and Diane on Cheers, then you are Rebecca. Tough, career driven, neurotic and you wear your heart on your sleeve. And you hate yourself for eventually becoming attracted to Charlie." Rebecca was played by Kirstie Alley, who filled in the spot on "Cheers" vacated by Shelley Long.


Laura Bell Bundy

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Steadfast NBC Weatherman Al Roker Messes Up -- First Time in 39 Years This Has Happened

Al Roker, the stalwart weatherman on NBC's "Today" show, slipped up this morning, doing something he says he has never done before, USA Today reports. Roker overslept and missed a show.

"He completely slept though his 6 a.m. early-morning show, 'Wake Up With Al,' on The Weather Channel. It was his first time ever in snoozing through a show," the story reports.

Roker, 58, tweeted: "After 39 years, it happened. I overslept and missed a show."

"He made it in for 'Today,' where he was spotted yawning behind the scenes," USA Today notes.

"Today" veteran Matt Lauer commented: "I tweeted out Rip Van Roker, and I'm getting a lot of tweets back saying a lot of people though it was RIP Al Roker. ... Read carefully!"

Here's a clip from "Today":

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Sony Pictures TV Fills Key Executive Post

Sony Pictures Television has filled a key executive position. The company announced the appointment of a new senior VP, marketing, U.S. distribution, promoting Rachel Mizuno to the post.

Sheraton Kalouria, executive vice president & chief marketing officer, SPT, mad the announcement. Mizuno will report to Kalouria.

Mizuno has responsibility for all marketing efforts in support of SPT’s first-run and off-net syndication, SVOD, cable and broadcast sales businesses, including overseeing affiliate marketing, media strategy, consumer marketing and promotional campaigns, the company said.

Said Kalouria: “Rachel’s rich experience in the television industry and her commitment to innovation are key to our marketing efforts. Her deep understanding of the U.S. broadcast syndication business and her exceptional affiliate relationships will help SPT achieve its business goals.”

Mizuno is a 19-year veteran of the television industry, who began at KSBW-TV in Monterey, Calif., and KSBY-TV in San Luis Obispo. After relocating to Los Angeles she worked in sales for Columbia Tristar Television Distribution. She worked in station relations on "The Donny & Marie Show" and was later promoted to director, affiliate marketing and then executive director, affiliate marketing.

Most recently she has been vice president, marketing, overseeing SPT’s affiliate marketing department and developing and managing promotion and media plans for more than 1,200 television stations. She has overseen campaigns involving "The Dr. Oz Show," "Seinfeld" and "The Queen Latifah Show," which launches in September, among other programs.


Rachel Mizuno

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Correspondent Jumps From 'Today' to 'GMA'

A correspondent who has been working for NBC News and has been featured on the "Today" show has made a move to ABC News. Sara Haines will work with a number of ABC News programs including "Today" rival "Good Morning America."

ABC News President Ben Sherwood announced the division's hiring of Haines, who said her goodbyes to her "Today" cohorts on the air Friday.

Said Sherwood: "Sara's storytelling combines exploration, adventure, humor and heart. She has tried everything from lobstering in Maine to spring training with the Miami Marlins. Her proudest moments always involve shining a light on people who have shown resilience and courage in difficult times, especially her work with Comfort Zone Camp and Kids of Courage."

Haines came up through the NBC Page Program and joined "Today" as a production coordinator in 2002, moving to the on-air team in 2009.

She will be based in New York and will begin her new job Sept. 3.

On Friday's "Today" show, Haines reportedly told co-hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb during her tearful farewell: “Someone once told me, ‘Sometimes you have to leave home to grow up.’ It’s time for me to grow up.”


Sara Haines

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NBC, CNN Respond to GOP Concerns Over Hillary Clinton Projects

NBC and CNN both told the Republican National Committee that its concerns over the networks' Hillary Clinton projects are "premature," following the RNC's threat of a boycott, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

As previously reported, the RNC has threatened action against both NBC and CNN, which are both working on productions focused on Clinton. NBC reportedly has a Clinton miniseries in the works, while CNN is working on a documentary focused on the former first lady and Secretary of State.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus sent letters to the networks warning that the group wouldn't partner with them on presidential debates during the 2016 election cycle unless they "pull the plug on recently announced documentary programs about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton."

NBC responded with a "mildly worded" email, THR reports. In it, the network "even hinted the show might never air -- regardless of partisan threats -- since it has not yet been ordered into production," the story says.

"NBC Entertainment has many projects in development, and this particular miniseries -- which has nothing to do with the NBC News division -- is in the very early stages," the network said in the email, which was sent to THR.

The email adds: "The script has not been written nor has it been ordered into production. It would be premature to draw any conclusions or make any assumptions about it at this time."

Earlier Monday, Priebus revealed that he had written to NBC Entertainment and CNN requesting that they scrap their Clinton projects. In his letter to NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt, Priebus wrote: "As an American company, you have every right to air programming of your choice. But as American citizens, certainly you recognize why many are astounded at your actions, which appear to be a major network's thinly veiled attempt at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election."

CNN also responded Monday, with the cable news channel also calling the RNC's concerns "premature," THR reports.

The THR report adds: "Meanwhile, Priebus made an appearance on 'Hannity' on the Fox News Network, where he defended his decision to pressure CNN and NBC."

Priebus reportedly said on the program: "We have to control the referees we're bringing into our playground, and right now I can't trust two organizations that are willing to spend millions of their own dollars in promoting a candidate that they know is gearing up to run for president. If it's no big deal and it's just sort of this evenhanded review of Hillary Clinton, fine, then just wait two years and when she doesn't run for president, move forward with your documentary. Nothing is going to change. Hillary is going to be here for plenty of years for us to produce movies and documentaries about Hillary Clinton. That's all."

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Movie That Premiered Last Month Is Now the No. 2 Movie in Cable TV History -- Do You Know Which Movie Is No. 1 All-Time?

A smash premiere for a cable movie last month made it the No. 2-ranked film in cable television history. The New York Times' Arts Beat reports that "Teen Beach Movie" drew 13.5 million viewers for its July 19 premiere on Disney Channel, adding in a week's worth of DVR playback viewing. The live audience was reportedly 8.4 million.

About 8 million children 2 to 11 watched the show, which the newspaper describes as a "kooky mash-up of 'Grease' and 'Beach Blanket Bingo' overlaid with a movie-within-a-movie construct and a contemporary girl-power theme."

The story reports: “'Teen Beach Movie' now comfortably ranks as the No. 2 film in cable television history, behind 'High School Musical 2' from 2007, according to Nielsen."

The Aug. 17, 2007, premiere of "High School Musical 2" -- also on Disney Channel -- reportedly attracted 17.2 million viewers, making it at the time the most-watched basic-cable telecast in history as well as the most-watched made-for-cable movie in history.

The Times adds: "While Disney Channel has not announced a sequel [to 'Teen Beach Movie'], its young viewers can surely expect one; in addition to strong ratings, tie-in products like a cast album have sold briskly. Gary Marsh, the president of Disney Channels Worldwide, is clearly thrilled. Even before the final viewer numbers became available, he was said to have pushed an ice cream cart around the network’s Burbank, Calif., corporate offices to celebrate."

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Pay-Cable Drama Series Canceled

A drama series that has been running on pay cable has been canceled. reports that, after two seasons, Starz is pulling the plug on "Magic City."

This Friday's episode will serve as the series finale, the report notes.

The show stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Ike Evans, the owner of the Miami hotel the Miramar Playa. To keep his hotel ahead of his rivals, Evans strikes a deal with mob boss Ben Diamond, played by Danny Huston.

In a statement, Starz said: “We are tremendously proud of the series and everyone involved. From the writers, to the cast and crew, it has been an incredible collaboration. This was a story born from Mitch Glazer's singular vision of Miami, the Magic City of his childhood, and we are grateful to him for bringing it to life on Starz. The season's story arc will allow us to deliver a satisfying conclusion to the series, and we thank all the fans who checked in to the Miramar Playa.”

Starz renewed the drama in March of last year, before its series premiere, which is an uncommon move. That renewal may have been based on the show's potential for global distribution, the piece notes.

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CBS's Moonves Unmoved by Offer From Time Warner Cable -- We Have His Cold Response, in Full

CBS Corp. released its response to yesterday's proposal by Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt to end the cable provider's blackout of CBS-owned stations, Showtime and other CBS properties. The response, in the form of a personal letter to Britt from CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves, appears to show that the two sides remain far apart.

"After reviewing your letter, we have concluded that there is not a sincere or helpful proposal in it. It is, rather, a well-wrought distraction," Moonves writes.

The letter adds: "Let me remind you, Glenn, that you have in your possession more than 100 pages of our actual proposal, with economics, terms and rights agreements contained for CBS, Showtime and all the content vehicles under discussion. You had them well before you dropped our programming from your service. We have never received a mark-up or reply to anything contained in them."

In the letter, Moonves rejects TWC's proposal for a la carte pricing, writing: "As to your groundbreaking 'offer' to go a la carte: Anyone familiar with the entertainment business knows that this is an empty gesture. The economics and structure of the cable industry have created a certain way that content is distributed and compensated. We both know that a true a la carte universe is not one that Time Warner Cable welcomes."

Moonves sums up the CBS position by writing: "Rather than engaging in public posturing that achieves nothing but confusion and doesn't move us one bit closer to our mutual goal, please return to the negotiating table and talk about the real issues that separate us. We will be there waiting and hopeful."

Please click here to read the full letter from Moonves to Britt.

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New MTV Reality Slate Includes Program About Virgins; Two Other Shows Will Tap Into One of the Hottest Reality Genres on TV

MTV has announced four new reality shows, including one the network is working on as the "Untitled Virgins Project," which is about young virgins struggling with temptation, the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports.

"Luckily, MTV isn't putting them all in the same house together, otherwise, their premise would likely be thrown out the window pretty quickly," the story notes.

The network has explored similar territory in the past with the reality series "Engaged & Underage," which was about virgin couples and aired in 2007.

Other new shows include two about a subject that has been proliferating throughout the TV reality universe: food. "House of Food" is a reality series focusing on chefs competing in food-related competitions, while "Snackdown" will ask chefs to turns snack foods into "culinary masterpieces," the piece notes.

The other new show is "The Ex and the Why," which will track young men and women as they deal with issues from past romances, the story notes.

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'Marco Polo' Explores Move to Netflix

The "Marco Polo" series from The Weinstein Co. and Electus may be moving to Netflix, after the streaming service made an offer for a 9-episode order for the drama, reports Nellie Andreeva at

"According to sources close to the negotiations, there is no deal in place yet because Harvey Weinstein also is considering a feature version of the project, which is fully financed, and is deciding between the two options," Andreeva writes.

The project was originally set up at Starz, which gave it a 10-episode straight-to-series order in January 2012.

Andreeva adds: "The series was supposed to film in China, something no other U.S. show has done, which proved a complex and difficult proposition. I hear the potential series will film in Malaysia. Seven scripts already have been written, with casting on track to begin right away for a production start in the first quarter.

"The Weinstein Co. and Electus took out the project after it was released to them by Starz, the pay cable network confirmed."

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MTV Series Gets Renewal -- Minus Show's Creator and Showrunner

MTV has announced the renewal of a series after a shakeout behind the scenes. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the cable channel is bringing back "Awkward" for a fourth season, minus the show's creator and former showrunner.

The show has tapped new showrunners, Chris Alberghini and Mike Chessler, who will replace creator and former showrunner Lauren Iungerich.

Iungerich left the show after the comedy ended its third-season production in June, the story notes.

Alberghini and Chessler previously co-created VH1's series "So NoTORIous," starring Tori Spelling, and worked on the CW's "90210."

"Awkward" ranks as MTV's longest-running scripted comedy, with the third season bowing in April with 2.1 million total viewers. The second half of season three will debut in October.

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'My Name Is Earl' Meets 'Wonder Years' in New Cable Project

An actress known for her role on the NBC comedy series "My Name Is Earl" will play the title character in the TV Land pilot "Jennifer Falls." reports that the role will be played by Jaime Pressly.

Pressly will play Jennifer Doyle in the comedy pilot, which is from executive producer Matthew Carlson of "The Wonder Years," the piece notes.

The network describes the character as "a career woman and mother who must move back in with her own mom after being let go from her high-powered, six-figure salary job. With her teenage daughter in tow, Jennifer has to face her new life, trying to reconnect with old friends in her hometown and making ends meet as a waitress in her brother’s bar."


Jaime Pressly

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Video: Bob Woodward, the Legendary Washington Post Reporter, Comments About the Sale of The Post to Internet Billionaire

Just a week after the Boston Globe was sold to Boston Red Sox owner John Henry, an Internet billionaire has bought The Washington Post. Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of, agreed to buy The Post for $250 million, Bloomberg reports. Bezos believes he can turn around the newspaper, according to the report.

Bezos is buying the paper personally, apart from his Amazon holdings. Still the story notes that Bezos is banking that he can apply his e-commerce success to the struggling newspaper industry.

The Washington Post Co. isn't selling its Kaplan education division and other non-newspaper businesses as part of the deal.

Bezos will get a newspaper famed for its Watergate coverage in the 1970s. In the video clip below, see what The Post's legendary reporter Bob Woodward thinks of the deal. The sale ends the management of The Post by the Graham family, which bought the publication in 1933.

Some saw the deal as further devaluing newspapers, reports The Washington Post Co.'s market value of $4.2 billion should have suggested a higher selling price for one of the best-known names in publishing, said Ava Seave, a consultant at Quantum Media.

"By selling for a very low number it definitely makes comps for other newspapers more difficult," she said.

Still, the newspaper division had been losing money, including a $53.7 million loss in 2012.

Washington Post CEO Don Graham wrote in a letter posted on the company's website that he and his niece Katharine Weymouth decided to sell the newspaper unit after considering its future following years of dwindling revenue.

"As the newspaper business continued to bring up questions to which we have no answers, Katharine and I began to ask ourselves if our small public company was still the best home for the newspaper," Graham wrote.

Here's the video with Bob Woodward:

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Writer Elmore Leonard Hospitalized

Author Elmore Leonard, who wrote books that inspired FX's "Justified" and films including "Get Shorty" and "Out of Sight," was hospitalized after suffering a stroke July 29, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Leonard, 87, is recovering in a Detroit-area hospital, the story adds. The stroke wasn't life-threatening.

His family is "optimistic" about his condition, which has been improving each day, Leonard's research assistant Gregg Sutter told the Detroit News.

Leonard is "very much into his 46th novel," Sutter added.


Elmore Leonard

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Republican National Committee Threatens to Boycott NBC and CNN

The Republican National Committee is upset about a couple of TV projects that are in the works, and has threatened action against both NBC and CNN unless the projects are pulled, CBS News reports.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus sent letters to the two networks today warning that the RNC will not partner with them on presidential debates during the 2016 election cycle unless they "pull the plug on recently announced documentary programs about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton," the story reports.

"Last month, NBC said it would air a four-hour miniseries about the former first lady and top-seeded contender for the Democratic nomination titled, 'Hillary'; days later, CNN Films announced its intent to produce a documentary about her. In separate letters to NBC Chairman Robert Greenblatt and CNN President Jeff Zucker, Priebus called each documentary a 'thinly veiled attempt at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election,'" the piece reports.

In the letters, Priebus wrote: "This special treatment is unfair to the candidates for the Democratic nomination in 2016 who might compete against Secretary Clinton." He specifically named Vice President Joe Biden, Govs. Martin O'Malley, Andrew Cuomo and John Hickenlooper, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the piece reports.

The report adds: "'Should Clinton compete in the general election,' he continued, their programs could also disadvantage the GOP nominee."

In a statement, Priebus said: "It's appalling to know executives at major networks like NBC and CNN who have donated to Democrats and Hillary Clinton have taken it upon themselves to be Hillary Clinton's campaign operatives. I hope Americans will question the credibility of these networks and that NBC and CNN will reconsider their partisan actions and cancel these political ads masked as unbiased entertainment."

The report adds: "Priebus also pointed out the hoopla among Democrats in 2008, when the conservative group Citizens United planned to air a pay-per-view documentary about Clinton on election eve. 'And yet they're conspicuously silent now that a major news network will launch a documentary of its own. They must trust that you're doing her a favor,' he wrote."

Priebus reportedly attached a nine-day deadline to his demand.

In his statement, he wrote: "If they have not agreed to pull this programming prior to the start of the RNC's Summer Meeting on August 14, I will seek a binding vote stating that the RNC will neither partner with these networks in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates they sponsor."

NBC and CNN had not yet responded to the action, the piece notes.

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CBS Series Hits All-Time Low as Football Returns to Dominate Sunday Broadcast Ratings

The National Football League returned to Sunday nights with an NBC preseason game between the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys, lifting the Peacock Network to an easy ratings win for the night, based on Nielsen overnights. reports that NBC rolled to a win for prime time overall with a 2.9 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, well ahead of CBS (1.3 average), Fox (1.2), ABC (0.9) and Univision (0.8). Things were much tighter in total viewers, but NBC won it by averaging 8.0 million, topping CBS (6.7 million), ABC (3.8 million), Fox (2.5 million) and Univision (2.0 million).

The NFL game delivered a preliminary 3.3 average in viewers 18-49, 10% higher than the equivalent number last year.

The other broadcast networks were generally down. CBS's "Big Brother" slipped 4% from a week ago to a 2.2 average rating in 18-49, while its "Unforgettable" fell to an all-time low of 1.2, losing 8% from the season premiere a week ago.

ABC's "Secret Millionaire" had its lowest-rated season premiere yet, delivering a 1.2, off 20% from the premiere a year ago. "Whodunnit?" equaled its series low with a 1.0, falling 9% from last week.

Fox aired a lineup of "Animation Domination" repeats, with the best number being a 1.6 in 18-49 for a "Family Guy" episode.

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Time Warner Cable Proposes Solution to the CBS Blackout

Time Warner Cable provided a ray of hope today to viewers affected by the company's impasse with CBS, which has taken the broadcast network and CBS-owned cable networks off TWC's systems.

USA Today reports: "With a CBS programming blackout well into its fourth day for Time Warner Cable customers, the cable company proposed to restore the stations if CBS agrees to 'the new economics TWC reluctantly agreed to' during negotiations while other terms from their expired contracts are kept."

TWC CEO Glenn Britt made the offer in a letter sent today to CBS CEO Leslie Moonves. "Britt also implied that TWC was willing to forgo its insistence on the digital rights that would allow the cable company to distribute the network's older shows," the report adds.

Britt's letter reportedly states: "Although those terms are not ideal to CBS or TWC, and would leave TWC and our customers without the digital rights that CBS has provided to others, since both parties have lived under those terms productively for many years, we believe we should continue to live with them in the interest of restoring CBS immediately for the benefit of the consumers."

The report adds: "If CBS refuses the new proposals, TWC is still willing to resume network programming by allowing CBS to make its stations available to TWC a la carte at prices and terms of its choosing, Britt's letter said."

Britt added: "This way, rather than our debating the point, we would allow customers to decide for themselves how much value they ascribe to CBS programming."

CBS said it had received the letter, adding in a statement: "We are formulating our response."

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Russia Launches Criminal Case Against U.S. Rock Band

Russia has launched a criminal case against an American rock band. CNN reports that Russia is incensed by an incident involving the band Bloodhound Gang in which one of the band members reportedly "stuffed the Russian flag into his pants, pulled it out his backside and whipped it between his legs."

"A musician told the audience, 'Don't tell Putin,' and then tossed the flag into the audience at a concert Wednesday in Odessa, Ukraine," the story reports. "RIA Novosti reported that Russia's Interior Ministry has issued a statement saying that a 'specialized investigative unit' within the ministry 'launched a criminal case regarding desecration of the national flag.'"

The band, which is known for its provocative material, reportedly left Russia Sunday. The group had a hit in 1999 with "The Bad Touch," the piece notes.

"The stunt was caught on video and posted to YouTube. It went viral in the Ukraine and Russia, and was flooded with angry Russian-language comments," CNN reports. "Journalists later quoted the band as saying that all items that the band throws into the crowd must first pass through the bassist's pants."

The group had been scheduled to perform this week at the Kubana rock festival, near the southern Russian Black Sea resort of Anapa, the report notes, but RIA Novosti reported that the group was "deported."

CNN reports: "The band told CNN that it left Russia and was not deported. They said they canceled their concert at the festival. A member of the band's crew, who asked to not be named for security reasons, told CNN the band was attacked Saturday by Russian nationalists inside Anapa airport in Krasnodar Krai.

"The band members were 'beaten up' by a crowd of men who punched and kicked them, the crew member said, adding that some of the attackers had whips."

No one was seriously injured, according to the report, which adds that "a Russian police guard was accompanying them as they waited to leave."

CNN adds: "RIA Novosti reported Monday that Russia's Criminal Code states that 'foreign nationals ... who commit a crime beyond the boundaries of the Russian Federation are subject to criminal liability in line with this code if their crime is aimed against the interests of the Russian Federation or a Russian national.'"

According to the Russian criminal code, desecration of the Russian flag can reportedly bring a one-year prison sentence.

Here's one of a number of videos that have surfaced in connection with the incident:

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Critics Name the Best Programs in Television

The 29th Annual Television Critics Association Awards took place over the weekend at the Beverly Hilton, where critics made their picks for the best programming in television today. They also honored the past, with "All in the Family's" Norman Lear and Rob Reiner on hand to pick up the Heritage Award.

FX had a big night, and HBO kept up its tradition of raking in industry honors -- although neither award powerhouse took home the night's top honor, Program of the Year. Please click here to find out which show took that prize, along with the rest of the winners and highlights in a recap by TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin.

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Turner Broadcasting Gets a President. First Time in More Than a Decade That Position Has Been Filled

The last time the Turner Broadcasting System Inc. had a president was 2001. That was Steve Heyer, who left the company that year to go to Coca-Cola.

Today, Aug. 5, 2013, Turner announced that David Levy will get the post. It shortens his current title considerably as it increases his responsibilities.

Levy has been Turner's president of sales, distribution and sports. According to the announcement, in becoming president, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., Levy "adds oversight of Turner’s domestic entertainment and animation & young adults networks and business portfolios to his current leadership of the company’s advertising sales, affiliate sales and sports units. Levy is based in New York and reports to [Chairman and CEO Phil] Kent."

As previously announced, John Martin has already been named to succeed Kent as CEO starting Jan. 1. Martin is currently the CFO of Turner parent Time Warner.

The announcement about Levy adds: "In addition to all of the company’s domestic revenue, Levy now oversees all creative and business activity of the Turner signature networks TBS, TNT, Turner Classic Movies, truTV, Cartoon Network, Boomerang and Adult Swim, as well as their digital brand extensions. This new role has full accountability for a majority of Turner’s domestic business, which is a major driver of the company’s growth and future. With his promotion, Levy adds Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks, and Stuart Snyder, president and chief operating officer of Turner Animation, Young Adults & Kids Media, to his direct-report team of business-unit heads that includes Donna Speciale (Turner Entertainment & Animation Ad Sales), Greg D’Alba (CNN Ad Sales and Turner Digital Ad Sales), Coleman Breland (Turner Network Sales) and Lenny Daniels (Turner Sports)."

In a statement, Kent said: "David is an extraordinary executive with a broad range of experience in just about every aspect of our business. His imagination and audacity echo the spirit of Turner’s founder and namesake, and he inspires great teams to do their best work. Having worked closely with David for over 17 years, I know his capabilities and potential, and had planned to add to his already-considerable portfolio oversight of every aspect of our domestic entertainment and kids businesses, which represent well over half of our operating profit. John Martin and I discussed the future of Turner and this new structure upon the announcement of John’s appointment as the company’s next CEO. With his enthusiastic support, we agreed David will provide outstanding leadership to his longtime colleagues Steve Koonin and Stu Snyder, and will be a significant managerial asset to John, as CEO, and Turner.”

In a statement, Levy said: "I’m looking forward to leading Turner Broadcasting alongside Phil and John Martin, and I appreciate their confidence in me for this important role. I have invested more than 25 years in our company. That cumulative experience affords me a unique understanding of our capabilities and a vision for how I’ll work with Steve Koonin and Stu Snyder and the great entertainment and animation networks teams, and with our colleagues in the revenue and sports units, to continue to evolve and grow Turner.”

David Levy--Turner Broadcasting System.png

David Levy

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MLB Announces Huge Suspension for Alex Rodriguez; Players From Eight Teams Suspended in Drug Scandal

Major League Baseball announced its penalty today in the closely watched Alex Rodriguez case in the Biogenesis performance enhancing drugs scandal, while revealing the names of 12 other players who have agreed with the league to 50-game suspensions, ESPN reports.

The Yankees third baseman received a suspension through the 2014 season, as was widely expected. Rodriguez is expected to appeal, and was reportedly preparing to play tonight in Chicago when the Yankees visit the Chicago White Sox. He would remain eligible to play during the appeal process.

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement: “As a social institution with enormous social responsibilities, Baseball must do everything it can to maintain integrity, fairness and a level playing field. We are committed to working together with players to reiterate that performance-enhancing drugs will not be tolerated in our game.”

ESPN adds: "Selig said Rodriguez's punishment will begin Thursday and cover the postseasons and was covered under the drug program's protocols and Rodriguez's 'use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years.'"

The suspensions affect eight MLB teams, with the following players all reportedly agreeing to 50-game suspensions without the right to appeal:

--Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers, outfielder.
--Everth Cabrera, San Diego Padres, shortstop.
--Jhonny Peralta, Detroit Tigers, shortstop.
--Antonio Bastardo, Philadelphia Phillies, reliever.
--Jordany Valdespin, New York Mets, outfielder.
--Francisco Cervelli, New York Yankees, catcher.
--Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners, catcher.
--Cesar Puello, New York Mets, outfield prospect.
--Fautino De Los Santos, San Diego Padres, pitching prospect.
--Sergio Escalona, Houston Astros, pitching prospect.
--Fernando Martinez, New York Yankees, outfield prospect.
--Jordan Norberto, free-agent pitcher.

"The players' union made a late appeal to MLB for a deal for Rodriguez but was told there would be no more negotiations," the ESPN story reports. "He will be punished under the Joint Drug Agreement and other areas of the league's collective-bargaining agreement but will be allowed to play while he appeals."

"Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun was the first player to reach an agreement with MLB on a suspension for his connection to the Biogenisis case," ESPN reports. "The 2011 NL MVP accepted a season-ending 65-game suspension last month." The suspension for Braun came down July 22.

The Boston Globe adds: "In January, the Miami New Times broke the story that Biogenesis, a South Florida anti-aging clinic, had supplied several high-profile major leaguers with human growth hormone and other performance-enhancing drugs. Since that time, Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch has cooperated with the league’s investigation of the players."

The formal announcement of the suspensions was delayed by negotiations between Rodriguez and MLB, the Globe reports.

"A baseball official told USA Today that Rodriguez was given the choice to accept a ban through the 2014 season or face a lifetime ban from the sport," the Globe reports. "After further negotiations between the league and Rodriguez’s representatives, the slugger will be suspended under baseball’s drug policy and thus is able to appeal his suspension. A suspension under commissioner Bud Selig’s 'best interests [of] baseball' clause would not have been eligible for an appeal."

Rodriguez inked a 10-year, $275 million contract in December 2007. His return on opening day of the 2015 season would come four months before his 40th birthday.


Alex Rodriguez

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NBC News Correspondent Dies

A longtime NBC News correspondent and anchor has died. Citing the network, TVNewser reports that John Palmer died after a "short, sudden illness." He was 77.

"NBC Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt said Palmer was a "dear colleague and friend," whom "many of you welcomed into your living rooms for a good many years. … ’Been there, done that’ only begins to describe John’s career. There was no one better in the trenches, and as a colleague, no one more liked.”

Palmer worked as a foreign correspondent for NBC News, then started covering the White House in 1979 and went on to cover five presidents. In 1982 he joined "Today," where he was a news anchor with hosts Jane Pauley and Bryant Gumbel. He left NBC News in 1990, and rejoined four years later.


John Palmer

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'Star Trek' Actor, Known for Many TV and Film Roles, Dead at 91

An actor who became a familiar face playing Native American characters -- who also played a Klingon commander on the original "Star Trek" TV series and two of the show's TV spinoffs -- has died. The New York Times reports that Michael Ansara died Wednesday at 91.

Ansara, who was born in Syria, often played ethnic roles, including many Native American characters in TV and film Westerns. His film career started with "Action in Arabia" in 1944, but he became a TV star in the 1950s when he portrayed the Apache chief Cochise on the ABC show "Broken Arrow."

He later starred as Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam Buckhart on NBC's "Law of the Plainsman."

On "Star Trek," he portrayed the Klingon leader Kang on the original TV series and its later spinoffs "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and "Star Trek: Voyager." He was one of the few actors to play the same part on three different "Star Trek" series.

His many TV performances spanned five decades, going back to the early days of the medium with appearances on "Family Theatre" in 1951 and "The Lone Ranger" in 1952. He was also seen on "The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "Naked City," "The Rifleman," "Wagon Train" and "Perry Mason," among many other early TV appearances.

Later in his career, he appeared as Kane on "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" and made appearances on "Days of Our Lives," "Hunter" and a number of other shows.

Ansara's film work included roles in the 1953 Marlon Brando movie "Julius Caesar," the sci-fi adventure "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" (1961) and the Elvis Presley movie "Harum Scarum" (1965), among many other films.

Ansara was married to "I Dream of Jeannie" star Barbara Eden from 1958-1974, his second of three marriages.


Michael Ansara in 1959 on "Law of the Plainsman"

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'Jeopardy!' Fans Blast Show on Social Media for What It Did to This 12-Year-Old

"Social media is still howling after last week's perceived slight of eighth-grader Thomas Hurley III" during Kids Week on "Jeopardy!," reports CNN.

The CNN story also asks whether it's not the "saddest moment in 'Jeopardy!' history."

As the article notes, here's what happened: "Thomas knew the answer to the Final Jeopardy question: 'Abraham Lincoln called this document, which took effect in 1863, "a fit and necessary war measure."'

"But the 12-year-old Connecticut boy added an extra 't' to his answer: What is 'emanciptation proclamation.'  Host Alex Trebek said Thomas 'misspelled it badly.' 

'That's unfortunate,' he said. 'The judges are ruling against you.' "

As you'll see in the video clip below, Trebek actually misspeaks, saying that Thomas put in an extra "p," when it was an extra "t" that he put in.

The CNN story continues, "Thomas, who was in second place with $9,600 in winnings, had wagered $3,000 on the answer. He hung his head.

"'The thing that bothered me most was the way Alex Trebek and the producers treated my son. They were kind of smug,' his father, Thomas Hurley II, told CNN on Sunday night. 'It's a kids' tournament! Everyone knew what he meant.' 

"The show was recorded in February, but aired Wednesday. Hurley said his son 'was barely holding it together, he was almost in tears. He had to relive it on Wednesday.'"

CNN notes that the "Jeopardy!" producers and judges released this statement about the incident: "If 'Jeopardy!' were to give credit for an incorrect response (however minor), the show would effectively penalize the other players. We love presenting young people as contestants on our show, and make every effort to be fair and consistent in their treatment."

Social media exploded with comments about the incident, most of them blasting the show, as the CNN story reports:

" 'I used to love Jeopardy, but how Alex treated that kid and embarrassed him was uncalled for,' Luke Tran said in a post on the 'Jeopardy!' Facebook page. 'He called him out on his spelling saying it was badly misspelled when it wasn't that badly misspelled it was just misspelled slightly.'

"Some questioned the point of the game show.

" 'Jeopardy is not a spelling bee game and frankly before Alex Trebek or the judges penalize this boy for not spelling a word correctly then Alex trebek needs too explain too the contestants that spelling matters in the final around,' Ash Cruz Rios-James also said on Facebook."

To further complicate matters, after we here at TVWeek looked at the following video it seems to us that an argument can be made that the winning contestest misspelled the word "proclamation" in his answer, spelling it "proclanation." And his last "n" is not really legible at all. But clearly in the case of his answer the show's judges and producers decided they knew what he intended to write.  

Here's the video of the incident:

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High-Profile Former Judge Closing in on Deal to Return to 'American Idol'

Fox's "American Idol" is close to a deal with one of its former judges for a return gig.'s Inside TV reports that the show is closing in on a pact that would bring superstar singer Jennifer Lopez back to the show.

"At this point, Lopez’s deal is not signed -- but it could be ready in as little as a few days. Lopez was an 'Idol' judge during the 2011 and 2012 seasons of 'American Idol' and was reportedly courted during the 2013 season as a possible replacement for judge Mariah Carey," the story notes.

The third judge remains up in the air, with reports that Black Eyed Peas singer is still in talks. Harry Connick Jr. is likely no longer under consideration, while former "Idol" contestant Jennifer Hudson also no longer appears to be a contender, the story adds.

It's likely that the next season of "Idol" will have three judges, rather than the four it has had in recent seasons, the piece notes.

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How Leah Remini Plans to Blow the Lid Off Scientology

Actress Leah Remini, who recently broke from Scientology, has warned that she's not about to keep quiet about her experiences with the group, and now Us Weekly is reporting that she plans to write a tell-all book about those experiences.

"It will include my experiences, everything that's taboo to talk about," she told Us. She spoke to the publication at the 15th annual DesignCare event in Malibu, Calif.

Remini said she's going through "a time of change." She added, "I think the fact that my family has taken a stance and we are on a united front says a lot."

"Remini isn't lacking in supporters," the report notes. "Earlier this week, the actress received some kind words of encouragement from fellow Hollywood Scientology defector Paul Haggis."

Haggis, who wrote back-to-back Oscar winners for best picture in "Million Dollar Baby" and "Crash," wrote in a letter to The Hollywood Reporter: "Leah and I were always friendly but never close friends. Despite this, she called me as soon as she heard about my letter of resignation. Unlike the rest of my former friends, she expressed real sadness that I was leaving and concern for me and my family."

The Us report adds: "Haggis further explained that Remini risked getting in trouble to defend him and his family to members of the Church, for which he 'will forever be grateful.'"

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Actress and Producer Dies -- She Produced More Than 200 Episodes of a Long-Running TV Series

An actress who made a name for herself both in front of and behind the cameras of a number of TV shows has died. The Huffington Post reports that Gail Kobe, who produced more than 200 episodes of the CBS daytime drama "The Bold and the Beautiful," died Thursday in Michigan.

No cause of death was reported for Kobe, who has been listed as either 82 or 84 in varying reports.

"Kobe's first big-screen appearance came in Cecil B. DeMille's 1956 epic 'The Ten Commandments,'" the story reports. "From there, she went on to have roles in 'Maverick,' 'Perry Mason,' 'Twilight Zone,' 'Dr. Kildare,' 'Bewitched' and 'Gunsmoke,' according to her IMDb profile."

Kobe also produced episodes of "Guiding Light," "The People's Court" and "The Edge of Night," among other shows.

Gail Kobe in 1959.png

Gail Kobe in 1959

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CBS Will Try Again With Jim Gaffigan Comedy

CBS is reworking comedian Jim Gaffigan's comedy for the 2014-15 television season. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the network gave a pilot order for a reworked version of the project.

The semi-autobiographical comedy stars Gaffigan as a frazzled father of five living in New York, as he is in real life, the piece notes. The pilot will be rewritten by Gaffigan with Fedora Entertainment's Peter Tolan.

The original pilot co-starred Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino as Gaffigan's wife, but it's unclear whether she or any other cast members will remain with the project. Sorvino has since booked a multi-episode arc on USA Network's "Psych."

"The project marks CBS's second pilot order for the new development season, joining 'The McCarthys,' which is also being redeveloped," the piece notes.

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Actor Who Will Take Over Role of Doctor Who Is Revealed

The 12th Doctor Who has been named, with the role going to an actor known for his portrayal of a "foul-mouthed spin doctor," reports the U.K. publication The Guardian.

The actor taking on the iconic role is 55-year-old Peter Capaldi, who will become the oldest actor to portray the Time Lord since the first Doctor Who in 1963, William Hartnell, the story reports.

Capaldi is known for playing Malcolm Tucker in "The Thick of It," and was the bookies' favorite for the role, ahead of actors Idris Elba and Ben Whishaw.

"It is so wonderful not to keep this secret anymore," Capaldi said. "For a while I couldn't even tell my daughter. Being asked to play the Doctor is an amazing privilege. Like the Doctor himself I find myself in a state of utter terror and delight. I can't wait to get started."

Capaldi is a longtime "Doctor Who" fan, who wrote a fan letter to the Radio Times when he was 15, the story says. He has also appeared on "Doctor Who" previously, portraying a character known as Caecilius in a 2008 episode called "The Fires of Pompeii," when David Tennant portrayed the Doctor.


Peter Capaldi

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How Long Will It Take for the CBS-Time Warner Cable Dispute to Be Resolved?

CBS and Time Warner Cable didn't negotiate Sunday, following TWC's implementation of a blackout of CBS-owned stations and cable networks in some major cities, and that's a situation that could take a while to be resolved, reports Bill Carter in The New York Times.

Among the casualties, it's likely that one of the drama hits of the summer, CBS's "Under the Dome," will be blocked tonight.

CBS said in a statement that while it is willing to talk, no negotiations are going on. A Time Warner Cable spokeswoman also said the company is willing to talk.

"But several media analysts suggested the standoff might be protracted, with predictions ranging from about 10 days to as long as six weeks," Carter writes. "The later date is associated with the start of the NFL season, a package of programming that everyone involved agrees cannot be denied to subscribers."

The dispute is over retransmission fees, the money paid to broadcasters by cable providers for airing their networks. "In this case CBS, according to several analysts following the situation, has asked for an increase from about $1 per subscriber to about $2," Carter notes.

There's also disagreement over programming, with Time Warner Cable wanting access to CBS's older shows.

Carter notes: "Time Warner Cable wants access to those programs on terms it says are fair and reasonable; CBS says that the company is essentially seeking something free, and that these deals have nothing to do with the retransmission negotiation anyway."

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Top ABC Exec Hints About the Next 'Star Wars' TV Series

ABC and Lucasfilm have been talking about a new "Star Wars" television series, Reuters reports, with ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee mentioning the potential project over the weekend at the Television Critics Association press tour.

Lee told critics Sunday: "We've started conversations with [Lucasfilm]. I have an inkling in my mind, but they have a lot on their plate."

The report notes: "Disney bought Lucasfilm in October for $4.1 billion and has said it intends to make a seventh 'Star Wars' film in 2015 and a new one every two or three years thereafter."

Reuters adds: "This autumn, ABC will begin airing 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,' it's first network program based on Marvel comic book characters since Disney paid $4.2 billion to buy the comic book and film studio in 2009."

A Cinema Blend report connects the two projects this way: "To see how a live-action 'Star Wars' show might shake out on ABC, you need only look at 'Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.,' the 'Avengers' spinoff that's one of the network's biggest fall premieres. A way to keep the world of Marvel superheroes alive on the small screen without having to shell out big bucks for Robert Downey Jr. or Chris Evans, 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' is a natural extension of the ever-growing Marvel Universe -- but it's also unclear whether audiences are interested in superhero stories that have no actual superheroes in them. A 'Star Wars' TV spinoff would be different, of course, but Lucasfilm will obviously be eyeing 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' to see what might work for them when their time comes."

Cinema Blend cautions that the project may face a long timeline, noting: "'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' is premiering a full five years after the debut of 'Iron Man,' which kicked off the expansive Marvel Universe that's still expanding today. 'Star Wars: Episode VII' isn't due in theaters until 2015, and if the 'Iron Man' model holds, that would put a live-action TV series five years after that."

But the piece adds that given the familiarity factor with "Star Wars," a new series could be ready to go for the fall after the premiere of "Episode VII."

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'ER' Actress Joins Showtime Project

An actress known for her work on the long-running NBC medical drama "ER" has been cast in a Showtime project. reports that Maura Tierney is joining the pilot "The Affair," opposite Dominic West and Ruth Wilson.

The project is described as an intense look at two marriages and an affair that unsettles them. Noah, played by West, is a devoted father of four who meets a woman, played by Wilson, who he believes is his soulmate.

Tierney will play Noah's wife of 17 years, who swings from being forgiving to furious, the story adds.


Maura Tierney

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Joan Rivers Goes Blue as Her War With the WGA Heats Up

Joan Rivers is lashing out at the Writers Guild of America in her first public comment about the guild's accusations against Rivers in connection with her E! Network show "Fashion Police," reports Variety.

"This is such a bunch of bullshit,” Rivers said in a statement Friday. “E! should hire Anthony Weiner to work with these people. He’d fit right in.”

The WGA East last week moved toward disciplining Rivers over alleged union rule violations for writing and acting as showrunner for the show, which isn't under WGA jurisdiction, the story notes. Guild members aren't allowed to work on non-union shows, the piece adds.

Writers for "Fashion Police" have been on strike since April 17 over union representation.

"The punishment could include Rivers becoming the first member ever expelled from the WGA East," the story adds.

The guild didn't have immediate comment, the report notes.

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Are Cox and Charter, the Nation's 3rd- and 4th-Largest MSOs, Talking Merger?

"Cox Communications Inc., the third-largest U.S. cable provider, has held talks about combining with Charter Communications Inc. [the fourth-largest U.S. cable provider], according to two people with knowledge of the matter," writes Alex Sherman on the website of

The story continues, "Cox President Pat Esser has discussed a deal with representatives from Liberty Media Corp., which owns a 27 percent stake in Charter, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are private. The structure of a potential deal hasn’t been determined, including which company might be the acquirer, the other person said. Cox and Charter also haven’t begun direct talks, the people said."

However, after the Bloomberg story appeared, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran a story that said, "[I]n an internal memo to employees, Cox Communications President Pat Esser dismissed the news report and said he had not met with representatives of Charter or major shareholder Liberty Media to discuss a merger.

“'While our standard policy is to not comment in the press on rumors related to mergers and acquisitions, the media continues to persist with these rumors and I felt it important to let you know that they are just that -- rumors and speculation,' Esser wrote."

In its story Bloomberg noted: "Cox has 4.8 million video subscribers, while Charter has 4.4 million, according to Craig Moffett, an analyst at Moffett Research LLC in New York. 'A Cox deal, if available, makes a ton of sense for Charter,' Moffett said ... in a research note. 'Nosebleed leverage wouldn’t be necessary; a merger of equals would leave balance sheet room for subsequent deals, while still giving Charter the benefit of a doubling of scale.'"

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Sale of Boston Globe -- for a Fraction of its $1.1 Billion Purchase Price in 1993 -- Cited as a Milestone in Decline of Newspapers

The Boston Globe was sold to Fenway Sports Group, whose chairman is "The Cosby Show" executive producer Tom Werner, and the sale, for $70 million, is "the latest milestone in the story of newspapers’ decline in the digital age," reports David Lieberman at

The New York Times bought the Boston newspaper in 1993 for $1.1 billion, the highest price ever paid for a U.S. newspaper.

The Times agreed Saturday to sell the New England Media Group, which includes the Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, to Fenway Sports Group, the parent company of the Boston Red Sox.

The Times has been unloading non-core assets, and put the Globe up for sale in February, the piece notes. The report adds: "Times CEO Mark Thompson says that the sale will enable him to 'sharpen our company focus on and investments in The New York Times brand and its journalism.'”

Tom Werner, who founded The Carsey-Werner Company, was also the executive producer of TV hits such as "Roseanne" and "3rd Rock from the Sun."

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Kathy Bates on NBC's Canceling of 'Harry's Law': 'I think they treated us like s--t!'

One of the most talented and acclaimed actresses of our time, who is both an Oscar and an Emmy winner -- Kathy Bates -- blasted NBC today, Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, reports Lisa de Moraes at

Writes de Moraes, "NBC cancelled 'Harry’s Law' in the spring of ’12, at the end of its second season, even though it was the network’s most watched drama series — because its audience skewed older and Warner Bros owned the show, not NBCU."

Moraes then explains that a critic during a session this afternoon at  the TV Critics Association's tour at the Beverly Hilton hotel asked Bates -- who was at the press tour to talk about her upcoming role on "American Horror Story: Coven" -- about the NBC cancellation.

According to the story, Bates replied, "I think they treated us like shit. They kicked us to the curb. They disrespected us; they disrespected our 7-11 million viewers. I think they’re getting what they deserve this year, Thank you.”

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CBS Goes Dark on Time Warner Cable

"Unable to come to terms on a new distribution agreement, CBS-owned channels have gone dark on Time Warner Cable systems around the country, including [in the nation's two largest cities] Los Angeles and New York City," reports our good friend Joe Flint in the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog.

The story continues, "CBS said the service was suspended around 5 p.m. Eastern time. Both sides then issued statements blaming the other for being unreasonable in the negotiations, which were extended from Monday." Click here to read CBS's statement on the Time Warner action. To see a statement that Time Warner Cable gave its subs, see the picture at the end of this item, below.

The article adds, "Other channels that were dropped include the CBS-owned cable channels Showtime, The Movie Channel (TMC) and the CBS Sports Network. The dispute covers only CBS-owned channels. CBS affiliates that are carried by Time Warner Cable are not part of this fight.

"Time Warner Cable said customers who receive Showtime and TMC, both of which are sold on an a la carte basis, would receive a credit retroactive to the first day of the blackout. In the meantime, Time Warner Cable is offering the pay channels Starz and Encore in the place of Showtime and TMC. The company did not say whether it would offer a rebate to subscribers for the CBS TV stations."

Flint's story also says: "CBS is seeking a significant increase from its last deal with Time Warner Cable, signed five years ago. CBS is currently getting less than $1 per subscriber, per month from Time Warner Cable and would like to get that figure into the $2 range over the life of its next contract. The network noted that it has managed to negotiate deals with several other distributors including satellite broadcasters Dish Network and DirecTV and New York cable operator Cablevision Systems. 'This is the first time in its history that CBS has been dropped from a cable system,' the network said, adding that 'Time Warner Cable, on the other hand, has a long history of taking channels off the air -- more than 50 in the last five years alone.'"

Please click on the link to Flint's story above to read more details. Here's a picture of a TV screen that some Time Warner subs got when CBS was dropped this afternoon. The photo ran with the L.A. Times story:

cbs-time warner cable dispute.jpg

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'Big Brother' Delivers Its Largest Audience of the Season for CBS; Other Networks Struggle With Series Lows

"Big Brother" delivered a strong performance in the ratings Thursday night, helping CBS coast to a dominant win for the night, based on Nielsen overnights.

The network reported that the reality show's 7.04 million total viewers for the live eviction episode, in which Howard Overby was booted from the house, represented "Big Brother's" largest audience of the season. The show's 2.5 average rating in the key demo of viewers 18-49 matched last week's season high in that demo, and the show also delivered a 2.8 in adults 25-54 to win its time slot in key demos.

CBS filled out its prime-time lineup with repeat programming, with the highlight there being a 2.1 average in the 18-49 demo for "The Big Bang Theory," according to CBS rolled to an easy win for prime time in the demo, with the best any of the other English-language broadcast nets could manage being a 1.0 average.

Fox aired all repeats and finished a distant fifth for the night, while ABC tried out a lineup of all new programs only to be matched by NBC with a mix of originals and reruns.

The highlight for ABC was an improved result for "Wipeout," which bounced back from last week's all-time low of 1.0 to register a 1.2 this week. "Motive" remained at the series-low 0.8 it delivered last week, while "Rookie Blue" ticked down one-tenth of a point to a season-low 1.0.

NBC opened with a repeat of "America's Got Talent" (0.9 average in 18-49), then saw a fresh installment of "The Winner Is" equal last week's series low of 0.9 and a new episode of "Hollywood Game Night" slip one-tenth to a series-low 1.2.

For prime time overall, CBS's 1.8 average led the way in adults 18-49, followed by Univision (1.2), ABC (1.0), NBC (1.0) and Fox (0.6). CBS also won handily in total viewers, averaging 6.3 million to lead ABC (4.7 million), NBC (4.0 million), Univision (3.2 million) and Fox (1.6 million).

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ABC Orders Time-Travel Drama From 'Life of Pi' Writer

ABC has bought a high-concept time-traveling drama from "Life of Pi" writer David Magee, who is working with Michael Green on the project. reports.

The project, "Travelers," was bought with significant penalty, the piece notes.

"Travelers" is about a man who brings his family to a wake for the father he didn't know, but discovers that the doors in his father's house are time portals that send them through history, the story reports.

Oscar-nominated Magee is writing with Green supervising, and the project is produced by 20th Century Fox TV, where Green is under an overall deal. Green is also adapting "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" for Fox, which has a put pilot commitment.

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Oscars Go Back to a More Traditional Host, Name TV Veteran for Return Appearance

The producers of the Academy Awards telecast named the host today for next year's ceremony, and the selection indicates they aren't interested in repeating the controversy surrounding this year's broadcast and host Seth MacFarlane.

Instead, producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are "going traditional" this time around and bringing back Ellen DeGeneres. The ceremony is set to air on ABC on Sunday, March 2, 2014.

This will be the second go-round for DeGeneres as Oscars host, after she hosted the 2007 ceremony. She has also hosted the Emmy Awards and Grammy Awards multiple times.

In a statement, Zadan and Meron said: “We are thrilled to have Ellen DeGeneres host the Oscars. As a longtime friend, we had always hoped to find a project for us to do together, and nothing could be more exciting than teaming up to do the Oscars. There are few stars today who have Ellen's gift for comedy, with her great warmth and humanity."

DeGeneres quipped: “I am so excited to be hosting the Oscars for the second time. You know what they say -- the third time's the charm."

DeGeneres has been on the receiving end of her share of awards too, including a staggering 45 Daytime Emmys for her syndicated talk show "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."


Ellen DeGeneres

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Media Executive Killed In 17-Story Fall From NYC Building After Railing Gives Way

"A 35-year-old media executive on a first date plunged to her death Thursday after the railing on her 17th-floor New York City balcony gave way, police said," reports The Huffington Post.

The article continues, "Jennifer Rosoff went outside for a cigarette around 12:50 a.m. when she either sat on the railing or leaned on it. Her date told her that she probably shouldn't do it, and then moments later, she apparently fell backward and landed on construction scaffolding at the first floor, authorities said. Police spoke to the man and no foul play was suspected."

The story notes that Rosoff "worked at The New Yorker, Lucky Magazine and Cosmopolitan before recently joining a new media advertising startup called TripleLift, according to her LinkedIn profile."

That story also notes: "The gray brick high-rise building on Manhattan's Upper East Side was built before World War II. Only the higher-floor corner apartments have balconies, and the city's buildings department [had] ordered residents to stay off them [because inspectors said they were unsafe]."

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Wow: Why Critics Hate a New Fox Show -- and Why That Means It Could Be a Hit

A new Fox series got a strong reaction from critics, who appear to generally hate the show, based on the "thwapping" it received Thursday at the Television Critics Association press tour. But that could be a good sign for the popularity of the series, the comedy "Dads," writes Lisa de Moraes at

"It was the kind of brawl the tour hasn’t seen since the '2 Broke Girls' Q&A back in that sitcom’s first season -- and we all know what a hit that turned out to be for CBS," de Moraes writes.

The problem with "Dads" is its apparently racist humor, the story notes. The program stars Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi as childhood friends and business partners whose dads, played by Martin Mull and Peter Riegert, move in with them.

The dads "provide lines like asking their son if he’s watching 'Punch the Puerto Rican' when they see a boxing match on TV," the story notes.

"But it’s not left to just the actors in Dumbass Old Guy roles to provide the show’s racist humor, a la 'All In The Family.' Green and Ribisi’s characters tell their Asian female staffer, played by Brenda Song, to dress up as a sexy Asian schoolgirl to impress Chinese clients," de Moraes writes.

"Mostly [creators] Mike Scully, Wellesley Wild and Alec Sulkin let the TV critics take whacks at them without putting up much of a fight," she notes, but the actors defended the show.

“I’ve never done anything in 43 years that somebody didn’t find offensive,” Riegert said.

Green added, "Just to be fair, this is a disparaging portrayal of white men."

Song, the actress who was at the center of the Asian schoolgirl outfit controversy, said that when she saw the scene in the script, she told herself, "All right, Brenda, this is your job."

In defending the writing, she said she has been known to use "I’m Asian -- I’m really good at math” jokes, and sometimes when men hit on her, she has used the line, “Ah, sorry. I no speak English.”


Brenda Song

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Is the End in Sight for 'Glee'?

The Fox musical drama "Glee" appears to be nearing the end of its run. Citing comments from Fox Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly,'s Inside TV reports that the show is likely to wrap after its sixth season.

The upcoming fifth season is set to premiere next month, with a sixth season of the series already on order.

"I would not anticipate it goes beyond two more seasons,” Reilly told reporters Thursday. “Never say never, but there’s two very clear [story] arcs to get to that end and conclude. If we discover a new crop of kids and there’s some breakout we like … [but] right now, we’re thinking two seasons.”

The fifth-season premiere of "Glee" is currently set for Thursday, Sept. 26, a week later than first scheduled, because of the death of star Cory Monteith from an overdose.

As previously reported, Reilly said that Monteith's character Finn Hudson will be written out of the show on the third episode of the upcoming season. While the episode will deal with drug addiction, it doesn't mean that Hudson will die of a drug overdose.

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Why 'NBC Nightly News' Viewers Won't Be Seeing Brian Williams

Anchor Brian Williams will be missing from "NBC Nightly News" for a while. TVNewser reports that Williams will take a leave of absence while he undergoes knee replacement surgery.

Williams will be off the show for at least a few weeks while his right knee is operated on. The anchor dedicated part of Thursday's show to the surgery, which requires patients to take anywhere from three weeks to three months before they can walk somewhat normally, the piece reports.

Williams' role will be handled by Lester Holt while he's out. Williams' knee problems stem from a high school football injury.


Brian Williams

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Publisher Gives In to Joan Collins, Will Cut Sex Claim From Shirley Jones' Book

Simon & Schuster has given in to Joan Collins' demand to cut a section of Shirley Jones' book that claims Collins and her husband approached Jones and her husband about a sexual liaison, reports

As previously reported, "Dynasty" star Collins was upset at Jones' book, "Shirley Jones: A Memoir," over a claim in the book that Collins' husband proposed the couples strip down and watch porn together. Jones, a star of "The Partridge Family," said she thought Collins' husband, actor Anthony Newley, was proposing "swinging."

Collins sent Simon & Schuster a cease-and-desist letter, and both Jones and the publisher agreed to remove Collins' name from the book. Her name will be removed immediately from the e-book and will be eliminated from future reprints, although the books that have already been printed will remain in circulation as they are, the story says.

"We all make mistakes. I've made a few myself, but not with Mrs. Jones. I'm a serial monogamist," Collins told TMZ.

Collins and Newley were married for most of the 1960s before divorcing. Newley died in 1999.


Anthony Newley and Joan Collins

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CBS Names New Head of Unscripted

CBS moved quickly to fill a key executive position, naming a new head of unscripted programming just hours after Jennifer Bresnan announced she was stepping down. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the network promoted Chris Castallo to the post.

Castallo will serve as executive vice president alternative programming, overseeing all nonscripted series programming and reporting to Entertainment President Nina Tassler. Castallo, who was expected to get the job, has been serving as senior vice president of the unit.

As previously reported, Bresnan left her role to relocate to New York, where her husband and family live. Her husband is CBS Corp. Chief operating officer Joe Ianniello. She had headed the department since 2008.

“Chris is a skilled executive who thinks like a programmer, producer and promoter all at once," Tassler said in a statement. "He’s a terrific combination of a hands-on executive with a great vision for the genre, and we look forward to his leadership in this area.”

THR reports that Castallo "steps up at a particularly challenged time for the network reality business, as evidenced by the genre’s lack of new hits. While broadcast continues to take shots with big, shiny floor programming, the bulk of the genre’s buzz of late has come out