September 2013

You Knew When This Was Announced That It Was Shakier Than Jell-O: NBC Kills Its Miniseries Project About Hillary Clinton

"NBC has canceled its planned Hillary Clinton miniseries," reports The Huffington Post..

The story continues, "The project, which was announced [with much fanfare] in July with Diane Lane attached to star, was officially killed after months of headlines and threats from the Republican National Committee."

The article adds, "The proposed miniseries, 'Hillary,' had Courtney Hunt attached as writer and director and would 'recount Clinton's life as a wife, mother, politician and cabinet member from 1998 to the present,' NBC said originally. The script began with Clinton living with husband Bill Clinton in the White House during his second term."

The NBC announcement follows CNN's announcement -- reported earlier today -- that it has also canceled its Hillary Clinton project, which was to have been a documentary.

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Sunday's Network Premieres Overshadowed by Football, Record 'Breaking Bad' Finale

The broadcast networks continued to roll out fall premieres Sunday night, but in the end nothing came close to NBC's "Sunday Night Football" numbers, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

The networks' new fall lineups also had to compete with the series finale of "Breaking Bad" on AMC, which delivered a series-record 10.3 million total viewers and 6.7 million in the 18-49 demo, according to AMC.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC coasted to an easy win among the broadcast networks in viewers 18-49 for prime time overall, averaging a 5.6 rating to place well ahead of Fox (3.3 average), ABC (2.0), CBS (1.6) and Univision (1.1). NBC also won big in total viewers, averaging 15.3 million for prime time to lead CBS (9.5 million), Fox (8.1 million), ABC (6.7 million) and Univision (2.9 million).

NBC's "Sunday Night Football" clash between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons averaged a preliminary 6.7 in the 18-49 demo, down from a 6.9 for last week's game. Sunday's broadcast also average 18.47 million total viewers.

The one new series to roll out on the broadcast nets was ABC's "Betrayal," which managed only a 1.5 average rating in 18-49 at 10 p.m. That number was down 29% from the "666 Park Avenue" premiere in the same time slot a year ago, and matched "Red Widow" as ABC's lowest-rated in-season Sunday premiere of all time.

ABC's season premiere of "Once Upon a Time" delivered a 2.6, down a hefty 33% from last year's season premiere but up 13% from the spring finale. The network's "Once Upon a Time" clip show at 7 p.m. drew only a 1.3, down 32% from last year.

ABC's "Revenge" opened its new season with a 2.4 in adults 18-49, off 25% from the year-ago premiere but up 41% from the season two finale.

Fox's season premieres of its Sunday "Animation Domination" lineup were down, with the best rating delivered by "The Simpsons" -- a 2.8 average in 18-49, down 26% from last year's premiere. "Family Guy" had a preliminary 2.6 (down 21%), "Bob's Burgers" came through with a 2.1 (down 19%) and "American Dad" also had a 2.1 (down 16%)

CBS's start times were offset by a 15-minute football overrun, scrambling the network's preliminary ratings, but the report notes that the entire lineup was down from last year. The network's best number was for the 8 p.m. hour, with a 2.0 in the 18-49 demo for the combo of "60 Minutes" and "The Amazing Race."

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'Breaking Bad' Finale Chalks Up Huge Ad Payday -- How AMC Squeezed Every Last Drop Out of Its Runaway Hit

For advertisers seeking to reach viewers of AMC's "Breaking Bad" finale, the price skyrocketed to levels rivaling episodes of top broadcast series, going as high as $300,000 to $400,000 for a 30-second spot, Jeanine Poggi reports in Advertising Age.

That pricing puts the show in the same realm as broadcast hits such as "American Idol," the piece reports.

Some media buyers were able to swing broader deals to bring the price down to the $200,000 range, but even that represents a large jump from AMC's typical ad rates, Poggi notes.

"The network has worked hard to maximize its revenue from the final weeks of the series." Poggi writes. "In order to secure a spot in any episode during the final half of the show's fifth season, AMC asked marketers to guarantee that they'd buy a large amount of other ads, such as movies on AMC or time on sibling channels like We TV and IFC, according to the buyers."

The report adds: "The $300,000 to $400,000 price tag would put the 'Breaking Bad' finale in contention with regular episodes of some of broadcast TV's most costly shows, but it still pales in comparison to some big broadcast series finales. ABC asked around $900,000 for ads in the series finale of 'Lost' in 2010, and broadcasters sought more than $1 million for commercials in series finales of 'Seinfeld,' 'Friends' and 'Everybody Loves Raymond.' CBS charged about $450,000 for a 30-second spot for the series finale of 'M*A*S*H' all the way back in 1983."

Poggi also notes: "Ads in recent episodes outside of the finale ranged between $130,000 and $140,000 in the so-called 'scatter market,' according to a buyer, and cost less than that in the annual upfront negotiations that precede each TV season."

The finale of "Breaking Bad" aired last night, Sunday, in an extended 75-minute episode, with AMC reporting that a series-record 10.3 million total viewers tuned in.

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CNN Renews Emmy-Winning Series

Fresh off its triumph in the Emmy Awards, a CNN show got more good news, with the cable news channel announcing it has been renewed. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" will be back for a third season.

The show gave CNN its first two Primetime Emmys earlier this month, winning for outstanding informational series and outstanding cinematography for a nonfiction series at the Creative Arts Emmys, the report notes. The channel has ordered an eight-episode third season, which is set to roll out in spring 2014.

In a statement, CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker said: “We had high expectations for this series when it launched back in April. Yet [Bourdain and Zero Point Zero Productions] keep raising the bar -- first with the spectacular series premiere in Myanmar, later in the season with the groundbreaking Libya episode and then at the start of season two with a sensitive and incredibly informative tour of Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank."

Season two premiered Sept. 15, delivering 240,000 viewers in the 25-54 demo, the piece notes.

anthony bourdain.pngAnthony Bourdain

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Eva Longoria Drama Project in the Works at NBC

Eva Longoria is working with NBC on a new drama project, Deadline.com reports. The hourlong project from Longoria‘s UnbeliEVAble Entertainment is the legal drama "Vega v. Vega."

"Written/co-executive produced by Laurie Silverstein, the show centers on a brilliant, young, successful lawyer who suddenly finds herself forced to go into a practice with her mother, a pioneering female attorney with whom she has a love/hate relationship," the story reports. "Attorney Elizabeth Bradley, who starred on David E. Kelley’s NBC reality series 'The Law Firm,' serves as producer. Bradley started her legal career in the law firm where her mother was a partner, and the two later launched a successful practice together, Bradley & Bradley, LLP."

The new project, UnbeliEVAble's fourth sale of the season, is produced by Warner Bros. TV and UnbeliEVAble, with Longoria, George W. Perkins, Sunta Izzicupo and Ben Spector executive producing, the report notes.

"The company also has 'Trust,' an hourlong soap based on the popular Colombian telenovela 'Pura Sangre,' which centers on an attorney, at ABC; a legal/mystery drama at the CW with writer Albert Kim; and a comedy inspired by sex therapist Laura Berman at NBC," Deadline adds.

Thumbnail image for eva-longoria.jpgEva Longoria

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Report: Two People Closely Connected to Lindsay Lohan Are Banned From Her OWN Show

Two people closely connected to actress Lindsay Lohan have been banned from her new show on Oprah Winfrey's OWN cable network, according to a new report by TMZ.com.

The two people are her parents, Michael and Dina Lohan, the story reports.

The show's producers "want nothing to do with her parents, and TMZ has learned ... an executive decision was made to ban them from the show," the website reports. "Michael and Dina Lohan will NOT film a single scene for the upcoming series. No one will even refer to DiLo's DWI arrest earlier this month -- according to production sources."

Dina Lohan was arrested Sept. 12 on suspicion of drunk driving in Long Island, N.Y., as we reported previously.

"We're told producers were struggling a few weeks back with the show's direction ... and after intense debate decided to not include the 'Lohan family circus,'" TMZ adds. "We're told cameras did capture Michael and Lindsay together on 3 days -- but it's unclear whether that footage will make the final cut ... and there won't be any further shooting with daddy dearest."

The show will focus on Lindsay Lohan's recovery and comeback, as was its original plan, the piece notes.

Lindsay Lohan, who has a $2 million deal with OWN, recently was confronted by Winfrey, who ordered the actress to focus more on her work on the show, as we reported late last week.

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Spinoff in the Works for One of TV's Most Popular Sitcoms

One of the top comedy series on television may get a spinoff. Deadline.com reports that 20th Century Fox TV and ABC are discussing a potential spinoff for ABC's "Modern Family," which just won a fourth consecutive Emmy for outstanding comedy series.

Discussions are in the early stages and many ideas are in contention, the story reports, noting that one idea is for a show to be built around Rob Riggle, who appeared in two episodes last season as Gil Thorpe, a rival real estate agent to Phil Dunphy.

"Thorpe is abrasive and has a penchant for inserting his name in words, like 'Thorpedoed' and 'Gil Pickles,'" the piece reports.

The idea is being developed by "Modern Family" executive producers Paul Corrigan and Brad Walsh, who wrote one of the two episodes featuring Riggle last season.

"Modern Family" co-creator and executive producer Christopher Lloyd will likely continue with the main series, although co-creator Steve Levitan may have some involvement with the spinoff, the report adds.

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Veteran TV Director Dies -- He Also Helmed the Last Elvis Presley Movie

A director who racked up a string of TV and feature film credits over a career spanning six decades -- including directing the 1969 movie "Change of Habit," Elvis Presley's final film -- has died.

The Los Angeles Times reports that William A. Graham, who directed the pilots for "Police Story" and "The Big Valley," died Sept. 12 at 87.

Graham died of complications from pneumonia, the report notes, citing his wife, Janet.

After studying at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York, Graham started in TV by directing segments of anthology programs such as "Kraft Theatre." He went on to direct episodes of many series, including "The X-Files," "The Fugitive," "Twelve O'Clock High" and "Batman."

Graham also directed a number of feature films, including "Waterhole No. 3," "Return to Blue Lagoon" and "Where the Lilies Bloom."

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Drama That Was Canceled After Season One, Then Revived, Survives Again -- Picked Up for a Third Season

A drama series that has had a rocky road to success -- being canceled after its first season, only to be revived for a summer run -- has made it to a third season. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that "Unforgettable" has been renewed for season three by CBS.

The procedural starring Poppy Montgomery will return for 13 episodes in summer 2014. The renewal comes after the drama averaged 8.23 million viewers this summer and scored a 1.4 average rating in adults 18-49 and a 2.0 in adults 25-54.

"It ranked as Sunday's top scripted program in total viewers. In its Sundays at 9 p.m. slot, 'Unforgettable' was up nearly double year over year in all three metrics," the story notes.

The renewal means that CBS is moving forward with both of its summer scripted dramas, following the renewal of "Under the Dome."

poppy-montgomery.pngPoppy Montgomery

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Cher Says She's Haunted by the Ghost of Sonny

Writing on a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" forum, singer and actress Cher said that she believes she's haunted by the ghost of Sonny Bono, her ex-husband and performing partner.

Cher, who starred on the television hit "The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour" in the early 1970s, was asked whether she's afraid of ghosts. Sonny Bono died in 1998 during a skiing accident. The pair had divorced in 1975.

"Absolutely not!!! I love ghosts. I actually think that Sonny makes a light go on. I have a beautiful chandelier that he makes the light go on when it is impossible, there is no power on. I love ghosts, I prefer ghosts to some people," Cher replied.

Sonny and Cher.jpgSonny & Cher

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Walter White's House on 'Breaking Bad' Shows Up on Craigslist -- But Will the Owners Sell?

After the house that serves as Walter White's home on "Breaking Bad" appeared in a real estate listing on Craigslist, the owners of the house told TMZ.com that they would never sell.

Fran and Louie Padilla have lived in the home since 1973, and said that the memories they have from living there and raising a family wouldn't be worth any potential windfall -- even though their house is receiving more than 1,000 visitors a month.

Realtors told the website that the market value of the home is about $150,000 to $200,000, and that its use on the show wouldn't improve the value.

The AMC drama features the house's exterior and backyard, although the interior scenes are shot on a sound stage.

Century 21 used the house in a marketing stunt this weekend, just before the drama aired its finale on Sunday, reports Advertising Age.

The real estate firm took out a fake ad on Craigslist for the home, giving it a price tag of $150,000 and describing it as an "Albuquerque Palace Waiting for You."

"In today's media environment there's only so many Super Bowls, only so many opportunities to capture the attention and imagination of a mass audience, and 'Breaking Bad's' season finale was one of those moments," Matt Gentile, director of social media for Century 21, told Ad Age. "Walter's house is like its own character on the show."

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CNN Scraps Hillary Clinton Project

CNN Films has pulled the plug on a high-profile documentary project focusing on Hillary Clinton, Politico reports. The move comes after director Charles H. Ferguson stepped down from the project today after finding potential sources reluctant to participate -- partly in response to pressure from the Clinton camp.

CNN Worldwide spokesperson Allison Gollust told the website: "Charles Ferguson has informed us that he is not moving forward with his documentary about Hillary Clinton. Charles is an Academy Award winning director who CNN Films was excited to be working with, but we understand and respect his decision. ... [W]e won't seek other partners and are not proceeding with the film."

"In a blog post on Huffington Post, Ferguson said that pressure from Clinton aides and supporters, as well as the Republican National Committee, cast a chilling effect on potential sources and interview subjects," Politico adds.

Ferguson reportedly wrote in the blog post: "When I approached people for interviews, I discovered that nobody, and I mean nobody, was interested in helping me make this film. Not Democrats, not Republicans -- and certainly nobody who works with the Clintons, wants access to the Clintons, or dreams of a position in a Hillary Clinton administration. Not even journalists who want access, which can easily be taken away."

Politico adds: "Ferguson explains that after signing his contract with CNN Films, he began receiving pressure from Clinton press secretary Nick Merrill and Clinton aide Philippe Reines, 'who contacted various people at CNN, interrogated them, and expressed concern about alleged conflicts of interest generated because my film was a for-profit endeavor.'"

The report notes that Ferguson and CNN also received pressure from the Republican National Committee, "which voted to ban CNN from hosting or sponsoring Republican primary debates, and from Clinton supporters like Media Matters For America chief David Brock. (NBCUniversal, which is currently at work on a fictional miniseries about Hillary Clinton, was also banned from debates by the RNC)."

Ferguson wrote in his blog item: "After approaching well over a hundred people, only two persons who had ever dealt with Mrs. Clinton would agree to an on-camera interview, and I suspected that even they would back out.

"This, of course, was the real consequence, and probably the real intent, of the announcements by the RNC, Philippe Reines, and David Brock. Neither political party wanted the film made."

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NBC Buys Comedies

NBC has bought two comedy projects that are part of a trend this year, Deadline.com reports. The two autobiographical projects are from "Enlisted" co-executive producer Sanjay Shah and "Legit" co-executive producer Chris Case.

"The networks love auto/semi-autobiographical comedies and are stocking up on half-hours based on personal experiences this year," Nellie Andreeva writes in the Deadline piece.

"Shah’s single-camera comedy, from Universal TV, follows two very different brothers and their immigrant parents all trying to run a fast-food franchise together in a sketchy Sacramento neighborhood," the story reports. Shah's own family runs a Burger King.

"Maybe It's Me," from Case, is a multicamera project based on his life dealing with three strong women: his girlfriend, his ex-wife and his "work wife," the story says. The project is from 20th Century Fox TV.

“I realized that if most of the women in my life are upset with me most of the time, maybe it’s me,” Case said.

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'Flat Is the New Up': What's the Mood Among Media Buyers One Week Into the New TV Season?

One week into the new fall television season, media buyers -- not known for being optimistic -- are showing signs of optimism, B&C reports.

“It looks like all four of the networks have gotten out of the starting gate with at least one promising hit,” says Horizon Media's Brad Adgate, senior vice president of research.

He pointed to NBC's "The Blacklist" and ABC's "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." among the shows that are off to strong starts, along with CBS's "The Crazy Ones" and Fox's "Sleepy Hollow."

“That’s better than last year,” Adgate added, noting that broadcast ratings dipped by double digits a year ago, with only a single show, NBC’s "Revolution," breaking out.

The piece reports: "Media buyers say they root for higher ratings -- especially when they get more viewers than they paid for. They like broadcasting’s vast reach to help sell products."

The report adds that when ratings come up short, buyers' clients receive make-goods from the networks that don’t always fit their marketing plans or run alongside their promotions.

Sam Armando, senior VP for strategic intelligence at Publicis division SMGx, noted that the buzz has been greater in anticipation of this season's shows than it was a year ago.

“Let’s face it," Armando said, "the broadcast ratings have been down consistently year after year. It sounds like I’m being sarcastic if I were to say that flat is the new up, but if they could maintain their audience it would be a success.”

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Did 'SNL' Get a Bump From Tina Fey's Guest-Hosting Spot?

With Tina Fey returning to "Saturday Night Live" for the NBC late-night staple's season opener, the sketch show's ratings held steady to its most recent finale, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

The Fey-hosted season 39 premiere, with Arcade Fire as the musical guest, drew an average 4.7 rating in metered-market households, the story notes.

"That's even with the most recent episode and within an inch of last year's opener, hosted by Seth MacFarlane with musical guest Frank Ocean (4.8 rating)," the piece notes.

Fey, a former head writer for "SNL," hosted for the third time since she left the show.

The report adds: "Among the 25 markets with Local People Meters, 'SNL' averaged a 2.8 rating among adults 18 to 49. That's up from the season finale, its best demo showing since April, and even with last season's premiere."

tina fey2.jpgTina Fey

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How the Looming Government Shutdown Would Affect the Media Industry

With a potential federal government shutdown looming, anyone in the media industry who has business with the Federal Communications Commission could be affected, writes David Lieberman at Deadline.com.

"Most of the agency’s operations will be put on hold Tuesday unless lawmakers can agree on a spending bill for the fiscal year that begins October 1," he writes.

Lieberman adds: "An impasse would force the government to shut non-essential services, and that would hit the media industry hardest at the FCC. The agency said [Friday] that 98% of its 1,754 employees would be furloughed."

If a shutdown drags on, it could potentially lead to a postponement of the Oct. 15-29 window for applying for low-power FM radio licenses, and would lead to a work stoppage on the FCC's approval of TV station deals, such as Gannett's $1.5 billion acquisition of Belo, the story notes.

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Report: Even Liberal Hollywood Is Full of Anti-Gay Bias

Anti-gay bias is pervasive even in liberal Hollywood, reports the Los Angeles Times' Company Town, citing a survey of SAG-AFTRA members.

About a third of those who responded to the survey said that directors, casting directors and producers may be biased against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender actors, the story notes. About 5,700 people responded to the survey, conducted by UCLA's Williams Institute and the union.

About half of LGBT performers reported hearing anti-gay comments while on set.

"Coming out remains a significant and consequential decision for many performers, and we are committed to supporting our members in living honest and authentic personal and professional lives,” said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, general counsel and chief administrative officer at SAG-AFTRA.

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Bill O'Reilly Reveals What He Wants Written on His Tombstone

Fox News host Bill O'Reilly told Norah O'Donnell on CBS's "60 Minutes" that he knows what he wants written on his tombstone, reports TVNewser.

“On my tombstone, Holy Rood Cemetery out there in Long Island: ‘He finally stopped talking,'" O'Reilly said.

O'Donnell tagged along with O'Reilly as he worked on a show, prompting O'Reilly to suggest that she was doing so "because you like me. You want to be here."

O'Donnell replied, "Well, I’m doing it because I’m interested." She added, "There’s clearly something behind why millions of people are watching your show, and why millions of people have bought your books.”

“I think you’re doing it because you can’t believe it’s happening. That you are here because you can’t believe a thug like me is this successful," O'Reilly responded, according to the piece.

Here's a sample:

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High-Ranking NBCU Exec Headed Out the Door

A top executive at NBCUniversal who has been with the company for more than a decade is headed out. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Executive VP Lauren Zalaznick will leave the company, with newly hired Cesar Conde, the former president of Univision Networks, on tap to take over many of Zalaznick's responsibilities.

Zalaznick will stay on during the transition, the report notes.

"The 12-year company veteran was a top cable operator at NBCU, overseeing a female-friendly portfolio of networks including Bravo, Oxygen and now-defunct Style until February of this year. At that time, her channels were absorbed by fellow cable exec Bonnie Hammer, and Zalaznick was moved into more of a strategic role. With NBCU executive VP as her title, she was charged with accelerating growth for the company portfolio by identifying and executing on new business opportunities," THR reports.

NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke announced the move today in an internal memo, saying: “Those of you who know Lauren well know she is one of those rare executives that combines great creative instincts with a true business orientation."

THR adds: "According to sources close to Zalaznick, who has been described as both a powerful tastemaker and a quirky intellect, she likely will return to an operator role of some sort. It's not clear exactly what that next step will entail, though she has been quietly dabbling in the startup space, where she is either advising or investing in a handful of companies."

Conde joined the company earlier this month, as previously reported, as an executive VP reporting to Burke. While he will take over much of Zalaznick's workload, one exception is Fandango, which THR notes will now be the responsibility of a film group under the watch of Jeff Shell, who was recently promoted.

After the transition, Zalaznick "will remain affiliated with the company as a consultant on digital media content and technology marketplace trends for a period of time," the THR report notes.

The story adds: "In making his early 2013 announcement, which made Zalaznick more of a behind-the-scenes suit than the high-profile programmer she had been, Burke touted her as an exec who 'loves ideas and new ways of doing things. She also is innovative, energetic and focused on growth.' Over the past six months, her gig has entailed such things as establishing the company’s first data science team and forming the NBCU Digital Council to focus on the impact of emerging global trends."

Zalaznick has been with the company since 2004.

lauren zalaznick.pngLauren Zalaznick

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ABC Working on New Comedy From Producers Behind 'Bob's Burgers' and 'Big C'

ABC has a new comedy in the works that traces its bloodlines to "The Big C" and "Bob's Burgers." Deadline.com reports that the network ordered "Work With Jerks" from former "Big C" showrunner Jenny Bicks and "Bob’s Burgers" writer/producers Lizzie and Wendy Molyneux.

"20th Century Fox TV, where the Molyneux sisters are under an overall deal, is producing," the report notes. The project is written by Lizzie and Wendy Molyneux with Bicks supervising, and all three are executive producing,

"'Work With Jerks' centers on an ambitious yet often misguided woman whose role models are Hillary Clinton and Marissa Mayer but [who] realizes she may have to rethink her professional strategy when she joins a company working with all male employees," the report notes.

Bicks has already sold a mermaid project to NBC this season, Deadline notes.

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Two Returning TV Icons in Head-to-Head Ratings Showdown -- Robin Williams' 'The Crazy Ones' vs. 'The Michael J. Fox Show' -- and It's No Contest

The eagerly anticipated return of TV icons Robin Williams and Michael J. Fox to broadcast prime time turned out to be a one-sided affair Thursday night, as CBS's "The Crazy Ones," starring Williams, dished out a beatdown in its head-to-head clash with NBC's "Michael J. Fox Show," based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "The Crazy Ones" delivered a solid 4.0 preliminary average rating in the key 18-49 demo -- almost twice the 2.1 turned in by "Michael." The disparity was even greater in total viewers, where "Crazy Ones" more than doubled "Michael" -- 15.60 million to 7.30 million.

Both shows premiered at 9 p.m., with "Crazy Ones" running 30 minutes to "Michael's" 60 minutes. And "Crazy Ones" had the benefit of leading out from the top show of the night, CBS's one-hour season premiere of "The Big Bang Theory," which brought in a whopping 18.90 million total viewers and a 5.6 average rating in viewers 18-49. "Big Bang" was up significantly from a 5.0 for last year's premiere.

Leading out from the new Robin Williams sitcom, CBS's premiere of "Two and a Half Men" was off the pace from last year's premiere, losing six-tenths of a point to settle for a 2.9 in the 18-49 demo. CBS's "Elementary" premiere fell even harder, losing a full point from a year ago to come in with a 2.1.

The "Michael J. Fox" premiere was the top-rated show of the night for NBC, which saw the one-hour season premiere of "Parks and Recreation" kick off prime time with a soft 1.3 in 18-49, off four-tenths from last year's premiere. "Parenthood's" season premiere tied the show's all-time low with a 1.6 average, off three-tenths from last year's premiere.

ABC celebrated Tuesday's big launch of its flagship new drama, "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," by re-airing the pilot at 8 p.m., but this time around it generated only a 1.4 average among viewers 18-49. (Tuesday's preliminary number was a 4.6.) The rest of ABC's prime time was filled with the two-hour season premiere of "Grey's Anatomy," which fell short of last year's premiere by a full point, delivering a 3.4 average.

Fox rolled out the season premiere of "Glee," which was well off the pace of last year's premiere. The latest episode managed only a 2.0 in the 18-49 demo, down from a 3.1 a year ago. "The X Factor," which was already up and running for the new season, matched last week's 2.0.

CBS cruised to a comfortable win in adults 18-49 for prime time overall, and a dominant win in total viewers. In the demo, CBS's 3.7 average rating led the way, followed by ABC (2.7 average), Fox (2.0), NBC (1.7) and Univision (1.5). CBS's average of 14.2 million total viewers for prime time left the other broadcast nets in the dust, with ABC (7.9 million) a distant second, followed by Fox (5.8 million), NBC (5.3 million) and Univision (3.7 million).

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A&E Developing Original Drama Series

The A&E Network announced that it is developing a new original scripted drama series. The show, a co-production of A+E Studios and FremantleMedia North America, is "The Returned."

The project is based on the popular French suspense series adapted by Fabrice Gobert, and is inspired by the feature film "Les Revenants," directed by Robin Campillo, the network said.

“'The Returned' focuses on a small town that is turned upside down when several local people, who have been long presumed dead, suddenly reappear, having not aged and unaware of their own fatality," A&E said in its announcement. "As they attempt to resume their lives, strange phenomena and gruesome murders begin to occur."

The announcement was made today by David McKillop, general manager and executive vice president of A&E Network.

Said McKillop: “’The Returned’ takes an incredibly unique approach, filled with suspense and twists and turns, to the subject of the living dead. Part mystery, part thriller, ‘The Returned’ is a perfect complement to A&E’s unique brand of scripted storytelling.”

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Miley Cyrus Names the 'Best Drug on Earth' -- and Admits She Uses It

With her naked body already getting plenty of exposure thanks to her "Wrecking Ball" video, does Miley Cyrus have anything left to reveal? According to the New York Daily News, the answer is yes -- and her new Rolling Stone cover feature is proof.

"In a new set of quotes released from Cyrus' in-depth interview with the Oct. 10 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, the 20-year-old singer delves into her use of recreational drugs," the Daily News reports. "The former 'Hannah Montana' starlet told the edgy mag that 'weed is the best drug on earth,' and other substances such as cocaine and MDMA, also known as molly, don't really hold a candle to marijuana."

Cyrus is quoted telling Rolling Stone contributing editor Josh Eells: "One time I smoked a joint with peyote in it, and I saw a wolf howling at the moon."

She adds: "Hollywood is a coke town, but weed is so much better. And molly, too. Those are happy drugs -- social drugs. They make you want to be with friends. You're out in the open. You're not in a bathroom."

And: "I really don't like coke. It's so gross and so dark. It's like, what are you, from the '90s? Ew."

The Daily News adds: "Despite her slam on the '90s, she did tell Rolling Stone that her controversial music video for 'Wrecking Ball,' in which she strips completely nude, was inspired by an icon from the decade, Sinead O'Connor, and her video for 'Nothing Compares 2 U.'"

Says Cyrus: "I wanted it to be tough but really pretty -- that's what Sinead did with her hair and everything." The report notes that O'Connor was not naked in her video, but she was bald.

Another quote from the Cyrus interview reveals her ambivalence about being targeted by photographers: “I hate the paparazzi," she says, "but when they're not sitting there waiting for you, you're like ‘Who's bigger news? Who are you trying to get a picture of?’”

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The Biggest Story of Premiere Week? One Network's Resurgence

Just a few days into the 2013-14 broadcast television season, the re-emergence of one network has surfaced as the story of the season, Lisa de Moraes writes on Deadline.com. That network is NBC -- and its hot start to the season is the story even though ABC's "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." may be the hottest new show, de Moraes writes.

"NBC is up with every single one of its series on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights compared to Premiere Week 2012," she writes, citing numbers for the key 18-49 demo. "The network has won seven of nine hours in the demo among broadcasters. In total viewers, it’s won six of the week’s first nine primetime hours and has moved from third place to first -- making those Comcast guys look pretty clever for having re-upped NBC programming chief Bob Greenblatt's contract without waiting for Premiere Week numbers."

NBC's revival can be attributed to a few simple strategic adjustments, according to de Moraes. "How did NBC do it? Easy! It dumped comedies, inflated 'The Voice,' and replaced highly serialized dramas with procedural crime dramas," the piece reports. "'The Blacklist' replaced 'Revolution' on Mondays at 10, Dick Wolf’s 'Chicago Fire' replaced 'Parenthood' Tuesdays at 10. On Wednesday NBC ran a two-hour season debut of Wolf’s 'Law & Order: SVU,' like last year, but this time with a drama lead-in instead of comedies."

One NBC show that has bucked the uptrend is a drama that performed well for the network as a freshman last year. "NBC’s least timeslot-improving series is its most NBC-ish: returning 'Revolution,'" de Moraes writes. "Wednesday at 8, it logged a 1.8 rating and 6.8 million overall viewers. But that’s still better than 'Animal Practice' and 'Guys With Kids' fared in the hour on Premiere Week Wednesday last fall. 'Revolution' is up 29% and 13% better in the demo, respectively, and 34% and 37% in total viewers, respectively."

The report adds: "Meanwhile, 'Blacklist,' James Spader’s glorious scenery-chewing master class, clocked a 3.8 demo rating and about 13 million viewers, which is about 36% better in viewers and 12% better in the demo than 'Revolution’s' performance in the hour during Premiere Week 2012."

The latest chapter in the story, Thursday night's results, doesn't look quite as cheery for NBC, with the numbers still being crunched. In a key showdown featuring the return of two high-profile TV stars, preliminary figures show that the new Robin Williams comedy on CBS, "The Crazy Ones," trounced NBC's new "Michael J. Fox Show." Nielsen overnights in viewers 18-49 show "Crazy" with a 4.0 average rating to a 2.1 for "Michael J. Fox."

We will report in full on Thursday's broadcast results when more complete numbers become available later today.

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Kanye West Demands Apology Over Late-Night Skit

Kanye West is demanding an apology and has gone on a Twitter tirade against a late-night host after apparently becoming angered over a skit, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The target of West's anger is Jimmy Kimmel.

"Did anyone else get a very angry phone call from Kanye West about an hour and a half ago? Just me? OK. I didn't know if he was mad at all of us," Kimmel said in his opening monologue Thursday.

West had called Kimmel earlier in the day, saying he was angry over a skit in which Kimmel's show hired two child actors to re-enact a BBC interview. "We just had the kid say the stuff Kanye said. And apparently this upset him," Kimmel said.

According to Kimmel, West gave him two choices, with the first being a public apology.

"And that was really the only choice -- the other choice he gave was 'my life … your life is going to be much better if I apologize,' and then he started tweeting today," Kimmel said. "And I don't even know if I've seen some of these because they're happening as we speak."

West has been tweeting angrily at Kimmel, writing insults such as, "JIMMY KIMMEL PUT YOURSELF IN MY SHOES … OH NO THAT MEANS YOU WOULD HAVE GOTTEN TOO MUCH GOOD PUSSY IN YOUR LIFE…"

Kimmel joked, "Finally, I'm in a rap feud."

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NBC Sports Network to Re-Examine Its Standards After Uproar Over Killing of Elephant

A series airing on the NBC Sports Network has become the target of intense criticism and a campaign calling for the show's cancellation, with the network announcing it will re-examine its standards because of the outcry, the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports.

The uproar over the series "Under Wild Skies" was prompted by a segment on the show in which an NRA strategist shot and killed an African elephant, the piece reports. The incident sparked an online petition calling for the show to be canceled.

The episode showed host Tony Makris and a guide stalking an elephant in Botswana, with Makris boasting about his "positively lethal" rifle. After shooting the animal twice, he follows it and finishes killing it. The men then celebrate over champagne.

In addition to hosting the show, Makris is a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. The show isn't produced by NBC Sports Network, but is an NRA-sponsored show that airs via a "time buy," similar to an infomercial, the story notes.

NBC Sports Network reportedly said it won't rebroadcast the episode, but will go on airing the show. A video posted online and linked from the Times article, apparently showing the killing of the elephant, was removed from YouTube and replaced with a disclaimer saying the clip "violated YouTube's Terms of Service."

"We've listened to our viewers and will not air that particular episode of 'Under Wild Skies' again. We're also taking a close look at our internal standards as part of this process because this content should not have aired," the network said in a statement. "While this form of hunting is legal, we understand that many viewers find it objectionable. As a result we are taking an aggressive approach towards objectionable content within future episodes of 'Under Wild Skies' and other series."

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'Good Morning America' Poised for a Milestone -- Something It Hasn't Achieved in Nearly Two Decades

"Good Morning America" is about to do something it hasn't done in 19 years. TVNewser.com reports that the ABC morning show is on the verge of winning a full TV season in the ratings -- an achievement the show hasn't pulled off since September 1994.

"The last time 'Good Morning America' won a full TV season, 'Frasier' and 'Picket Fences' were the top TV programs, Andre Agassi was the U.S. Open champion, and just-married Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley shared a kiss at the MTV Awards," the story reports.

Back then, Charlie Gibson, Joan Lunden and Spencer Christian were the hosts of "GMA," the report notes.

"With the final ratings to be released [today], 'Good Morning America' is poised to win its first full TV season since 1993-1994 in total viewers and the first since 1992-1993 in the A25-54 demo. And 'GMA' continues to enjoy its largest season lead over 'Today' in more than 21 years, since before Nielsen’s electronic database started in 1991," the piece reports.

Host Robin Roberts, who recently took an extensive leave to get medical treatment, is "the healthiest she’s been after everything she’s been through,” senior executive producer Tom Cibrowski told the website.

“Our gang is so incredibly excited to start the morning every day -- it shows on the air and off. They are friends on and off camera,” Cibrowski said. “Robin, George, Josh, Lara and Sam each bring something special to the table and honestly enjoy putting on the best possible show every morning.”

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'Animation Domination' Series Picked Up for Another Season on Fox

Fox has renewed one of the series in its Sunday "Animation Domination" comedy lineup. EW.com's Inside TV reports that the network picked up "Bob's Burgers" for a fifth season.

The network has ordered 22 more episodes of the program. The show returns for season four Sunday, Sept. 29, at 8:30 p.m.

"'Bob’s Burgers' is one of those rare finds that just continues to outdo itself, creatively,” Fox Chairman Kevin Reilly said in a statement. “The show has become a key member of our Sunday 'Animation Domination' family, and we’re looking forward to attracting new fans with another season.”

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'Hobbit' Star Snags High-Profile TV Role

The actor who plays Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson's film trilogy "The Hobbit" and Dr. Watson in the BBC/PBS series "Sherlock" has signed on for another high-profile role.

The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that English actor Martin Freeman has been cast as the leading man in the FX adaptation of Joel and Ethan Coen's "Fargo." Freeman will play Lester Nygaard, the character portrayed by William H. Macy in the 1996 movie.

The 10-episode limited series will track a "true crime" story, with the same Minnesota flavor and humor of the original movie, the story says.

Noah Hawley is writing the script and executive producing, while the Coen brothers are also executive producing, along with Warren Littlefield and Geyer Kosinski. Adam Bernstein of "30 Rock" will direct the pilot.

The indie movie "Fargo" was a sensation at the Oscars in 1997, receiving seven Academy Award nominations -- including for best picture -- and winning trophies for Frances McDormand for best actress and the Coen Brothers, Ethan and Joel, for best original screenplay.

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NBC Buys DC Comics Adaptation

NBC has bought an adaptation from Warner Bros. TV and DC Comics. Deadline.com reports that the network ordered a project based on the DC Comics series "Constantine."

The project focuses on the supernatural detective John Constantine, who defends people against dark forces, the story says. The character, created by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and Jamie Delano, first appeared in 1985 as a recurring character in "The Saga of the Swamp Thing."

He was the focus of a 2005 movie, with Keanu Reeves portraying the character. NBC bought the project with penalty, the report notes.

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New Fox Drama Project Sounds a Lot Like the Amanda Knox Story

A new project in development at Fox is reminiscent of the story of "Foxy Knoxy" -- U.S. student Amanda Knox, who became embroiled in a murder case while studying in Italy. Deadline.com reports that Fox ordered the project, "Guilt," from former ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson.

The project is billed as a fictional piece and focuses on an American girl who is studying abroad when her Irish roommate is murdered, leaving her as the prime suspect, the story says. The article describes the show as "a sexy, soapy, twisted thriller."

"The series will explore the different levels of guilt of everyone in this mystery -- from the suspect, to the police, to the prosecution, to the defense team, to the tabloids, to the victim’s family," the Deadline report notes. "American Knox was studying in Italy when she was arrested and then tried for the gruesome murder of her English roommate."

"Guilt" is from Lionsgate TV and McPherson's Wonder Monkey. McPherson will executive produce, along with Nichole Millard and Kathryn Price.

McPherson has done a lot of business in his first season as a producer, with three comedies at Fox and one at CBS in addition to the new drama project, the story notes.

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Veteran TV Producer Named to Kennedy Center Board

A TV producer behind a string of successful shows is joining the board of trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. TheWrap.com reports that "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes was selected by President Obama to serve on the board.

Rhimes, who is also the writer and producer of the Washington, D.C.-based drama "Scandal," is one of six new appointments made by Obama to the Kennedy Center board.

The others are Entravision Communications Chief Executive Walter F. Ulloa; Frank F. Islam, CEO of FI Investment Group; Amalia Perea Mahoney, director of Chicago’s Galeria Amalia Mahoney, an art gallery specializing in Latin American Art; David M. Rubenstein, co-ceo of The Carlyle Group; and Alexandra C. Stanton, CEO of Empire Global Ventures.

Other members on the 32-member board include Caroline Kennedy and former CBS reporter Giselle Fernandez, along with other business and arts figures, the story notes.

Rhimes is also behind the "Grey's Anatomy" spinoff "Private Practice," and had a hand in the short-lived 2011 ABC medical drama "Off the Map."

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CBS TV Distribution Testing Talk Show Starring Rap Artist

CBS Television Distribution is testing a new daytime talk show starring a rapper. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the test run for the program, "Serch," centered on rapper MC Serch, will get a four-week test run on Tribune TV stations.

The test will start in early January, with the show airing in eight television markets. The New York-based show will look at stories about real people, with former "Katie" producer Ethan Nelson serving as executive producer.

"Serch [will] use his street smarts and unconventional background to help guests grapple with and resolve their problems," according to a statement.

“Serch has such an interesting, unique life story that makes him relatable to a wide audience,” said Maureen FitzPatrick, CBS Television Distribution executive vice president of programming and development. “He connects with different communities, has a message to share about taking personal responsibility for your life choices and is on a mission to help people change their lives.”

Serch grew up in an orthodox Jewish community in New York, and was one of the first white rappers, performing in 3rd Bass before going solo. In 2003 he became the first non-black DJ on the Detroit station WJLB-FM, the story adds.

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'Mad Men' Star Reassures Fans That He's Not Dying of Cancer, Calls Upcoming Throat Surgery 'Routine'

Prompted by dire reports in the media, "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm took the opportunity during an appearance Wednesday on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" to reassure fans that he's not dying, US Magazine reports.

In a raspy voice, the 42-year-old actor said during the appearance: "I've got a polyp on my vocal cord. It sounds worse than it is, although it doesn't sound as bad as how the National Enquirer reported it, which was that I was coughing up blood and probably have cancer."

He added: "That's good to put that out there. Thanks, guys. Thanks a lot. Because, you know, I cough up blood ... never!"

Commenting on his upcoming throat surgery, Hamm told Kimmel, "It's a very routine procedure."

"The actor, who plays handsome, damaged ad executive Don Draper on AMC's 'Mad Men,' is set to begin filming the seventh and final season of the drama series on Nov. 4," the report adds.

Hamm said of the series finale: "I've gotten sort of broad strokes as to how it will end. [Creator Matthew Weiner] has a very specific idea as to what he wants to do."

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'Simpsons' Couch Gag Gets Big-Name Director for Halloween Episode

The upcoming "Treehouse of Horror" Halloween episode of animation staple "The Simpsons" will open with a couch gag directed by Guillermo del Toro, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

Del Toro is known for his work in feature films, with "Blade II," "Hellboy," "Mimic" and this year's "Pacific Rim" among his credits. He will follow in the footsteps of other creative bigwigs, such as Oscar-nominated animator Bill Plympton and the artist Banksy, in taking on the end of the show's opening credits.

"But del Toro is by far the biggest name of the lot, and his gag is definitely one appropriate for him," the story notes. "According to Fox, del Toro's gag will feature monsters and classic characters from horror movies throughout history."

The "Treehouse of Horror" anthology will air Oct. 6.

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OMG! One of the Top Executive Producers in the History of the Syndication Business is Leaving Hit Flagship Show

One of the top executive producers in the history of the TV syndication business will be leaving her hit flagship show next year. At the time she will have been with the show for 20 years.

Linda Bell Blue will be leaving "Entertainment Tonight" in September 2014, reports Variety.

Says the story, "She will also be departing her post on sibling entertainment news mag 'OMG! Insider.' Bell is currently eyeing a creative exec role with CBS TV Distribution, the company behind 'Entertainment Tonight' and 'OMG!'"

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Is the Honeymoon Over for a Key NBC Series? Season Premiere Matches Historic Low

An NBC series that has performed well for the network in the past had an ominous achievement when it returned Tuesday night for its fall season premiere. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "Revolution's" season-two debut managed only a 1.8 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights.

The number matched the drama series' all-time low and was well below half of the 4.1 demo number the show delivered a year ago for its series premiere. The season-two opener also came in below the 2.0 recorded by last year's season finale.

The good news for NBC: Leading out from "Revolution," the two-hour season premiere of "Law & Order: SVU" climbed to a 2.7 average rating in 18-49, rising six-tenths of a point from the premiere's performance a year ago.

The top series of the night was ABC's "Modern Family," fresh off a repeat Emmy win as outstanding comedy series -- the sitcom's fourth in a row. "Family" launched its new season with a 4.1 average in viewers 18-49 for its one-hour premiere, off the pace from its 5.5 for last year's debut but enough to help ABC squeeze out a ratings win for the night.

Elsewhere on ABC, the half-hour season premiere of "The Middle" slipped a half-point from last year's hour installment to a 2.4, while the new James Caan sitcom "Back in the Game" got off to a disappointing start with a 2.2 to rank as the lowest-rated fall comedy premiere on ABC since 2009. The season premiere of "Nashville" wasn't much help, plunging seven-tenths of a ratings point from last year's premiere to a 2.1 average.

Fox, which opened the season ahead of its broadcast competition, chugged its way to a competitive second-place finish on the strength of its two-hour "The X Factor," which improved on last week's 2.2 average in the 18-49 demo to deliver a 2.5.

CBS was in the hunt in a tight race among the big four nets, but its numbers were down: "Survivor" notched a series low, slipping three-tenths from last week's premiere to a 2.3 in adults 18-49. The season opener of "Criminal Minds" settled for a 2.8, off the pace from a 3.1 a year ago. And "CSI" fell four-tenths from last year's opener to a 2.1 for the season premiere.

The numbers for prime time overall show ABC on top in the 18-49 demo with a 2.8 average rating, followed by Fox (2.5 average), CBS (2.4), NBC (2.4) and Univision (1.4). A highly competitive race for total viewers among the big four broadcast networks saw CBS come in at No. 1 with 9.9 million, followed by ABC (8.8 million), NBC (8.6 million) and Fox (7.6 million), with Univision well off the pace (3.5 million).

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Miley Cyrus Says Her MTV Performance 'Could Have Even Gone Further' -- and Points the Finger at Someone Else She Thinks Deserves Blame

In an interview for the new issue of Rolling Stone, singer Miley Cyrus says her performance on MTV's Video Music Awards "could have even gone further, but we didn't," referring to her infamous twerk-fest that led to a number of complaints to the FCC for her sexual poses.

Cyrus said she didn't expect the angry reaction to her performance, noting: "It's not the Grammys or the Oscars. You're not supposed to show up in a gown, Vanna White-style." She added: "It's supposed to be fun!"

The former star of "Hannah Montana" said her performance with singer Robin Thicke got "handsy," but complained that no one criticized Thicke.

"No one is talking about the man behind the ass. It was a lot of 'Miley twerks on Robin Thicke,' but never, 'Robin Thicke grinds up on Miley.' They're only talking about the one that bent over. So obviously there's a double standard," she told the magazine.

Brooke Shields' criticism of her performance as "desperate" sparked some amusement from Cyrus. (Shields played Cyrus' mother on "Hannah Montana.")

"Brooke Shields was in a movie where she was a prostitute at age 12!" Cyrus said.

She continued: "America is just so weird in what they think is right and wrong. Like, I was watching 'Breaking Bad' the other day, and they were cooking meth. I could literally cook meth because of that show. It's a how-to. And then they bleeped out the word 'fuck.' And I'm like, really? They killed a guy, and disintegrated his body in acid, but you're not allowed to say 'fuck'? It's like when they bleeped 'molly' at the VMAs. Look what I'm doing up here right now, and you're going to bleep out 'molly'? Whatever."

Cyrus continues what some observers have described as her overexposure campaign with her naked cover feature on Rolling Stone, as previously reported.

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ABC Working With Steven Spielberg on Comedy

ABC has a new comedy project in the works from Steven Spielberg's Amblin Television. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the project is an adaptation of the British show "No Angels."

"The network is teaming with writing team Kat Likkel and John Hoberg ('Bad Management') to adapt the comedy about a raucous group of four female nurses working together and sharing the same house in a 'Bridesmaids'-style girl gang comedy," THR reports. "The project revolves around their lives, dating, sex, making mistakes, plotting revenge and struggling with what it means to grow up and be responsible."

Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey, co-presidents of Amblin, will executive produce the project along with Spielberg, the story reports.

"Likkel and Horberg will serve as showrunners should the comedy move to series and executive produce alongside Julie Anne Robinson, who will also direct if 'No Angels' moves forward," the story adds. "Channel 4's 'No Angels' starred Kaye Wragg, Sunetra Sarker and Jo Joyner and ran for three seasons from 2004-06. It was created by Toby Whithouse ('Being Human,' 'Doctor Who')."

ABC has been showing a lot of interest in U.K. programming as a source for its own shows, the piece notes. "Last pilot season, ABC turned to remakes of British fare 'Spy,' 'Pulling' and 'Lucky 7' (based on 'The Syndicate')," THR reports. "Only 'Lucky 7,' which also hails from Amblin, made it to series. (The lottery drama premiered to disappointing results on Tuesday.) Last year, British-born ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee greenlit a remake of British entry 'Family Tools' (based on 'White Man Van') to series. The comedy was canceled after one season."

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HBO Renews Acclaimed Drama Series

HBO is renewing a heavily honored drama series. Michael Lombardo, president of programming for the pay-cable channel, announced the network will bring back "Boardwalk Empire" for a fifth season.

“Thanks to Terry Winter, Martin Scorsese, Tim Van Patten, Howard Korder and their stellar team, 'Boardwalk Empire' remains in a class by itself,” Lombardo said. “I look forward to another electrifying season of this impeccably crafted series.”

The Prohibition drama recently won five Emmys, more than any other series, at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards. The show's fourth season launched Sept. 8.

"Among the early critical raves for the new season of 'Boardwalk Empire,' New York’s Daily News declared that the series 'remains must-see television drama,' while People called it 'terrific' and a 'gripping spectacle.' The Chicago Tribune hailed the show’s 'achingly good performances,' and Variety termed it 'one of TV’s most compelling dramas.'" HBO said in its release announcing the renewal.

The program continues to be one of HBO's biggest ratings draws, averaging 7.5 million viewers this season, the channel announced.

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'Walking Dead' Adds Young Actress

A young actress is poised for what could be her big break with a role on the AMC smash "The Walking Dead." Deadline.com reports that Alanna Masterson, 25, is joining the cast for a recurring role in the show's upcoming fourth season, with an option to step up to series regular for season five.

"Details on her role are scarce but she will be introduced in the middle of the season as a new survivor in the world of the walking dead," the story reports. "There is chatter that the character might be Tara Chalmers from the comic books but the network is keeping mum."

The drama series also recently added Christian Serratos, the piece notes.

Masterson, part of an acting family that includes Danny Masterson, Christopher Masterson and Jordan Masterson, had a recurring role on the 2010 series "First Day," but has mostly appeared in guest roles, including a 2009 spot on "Grey's Anatomy" and a visit to "Malcolm in the Middle" in 2006.

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HBO Moves Forward With Gandolfini Project, Replacing the 'Sopranos' Star With a Film Legend

HBO is going ahead with a project that was originally set to star the pay-cable network's iconic Tony Soprano, actor James Gandolfini. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the miniseries "Criminal Justice" is back on track, with Robert De Niro taking over the lead role.

The project had been in limbo since Gandolfini's untimely death earlier this summer. Gandolfini will remain as executive producer, posthumously.

The project is an adaptation of a BBC drama with the same title, which tracked different characters in each episode as they traveled through the justice system.

De Niro, a two-time Oscar winner -- for "The Godfather: Part II" (1974) and "Raging Bull" (1980) -- is considered by some to be the greatest actor of his generation ... and it's a heck of a generation, with Nicholson, Hoffman and Pacino among his contemporaries.

In the HBO production, De Niro will play Jack Stone, a lawyer who defends a young man accused of murdering a girl in New York.

Two other TV projects involving Gandolfini -- HBO's "Big Dead Place" and CBS's "Taxi-22" -- were also in the works at the time of the actor's death.

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A&E Cancels a Series That Has Been on a Lot of 'Guilty Pleasures' Lists -- Is It One of Yours?

Is it a guilty pleasure, or just another example of train wreck TV -- or both? A series that has captured the interest of viewers for a wide range of reasons -- maybe some of us can relate a little too well -- has been canceled. The Atlantic reports that A&E pulled the plug on its intervention series "Hoarders" after six seasons.

"So, no more peeks into the scary homes of people with this peculiar psychological affliction, no more gasping in horror at grimly discovered cat poop or watching as some poor soul wails as all their broken vacuum cleaners are thrown out," the story notes. "Well, except for TLC's 'Hoarding: Buried Alive,' of course."

The cancellation comes as A&E is tweaking its brand, adding scripted shows such as "Longmire" and "Bates Motel."

Hoarding was recently added as a diagnosable disorder to the DSM-5, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, notes Reality Blurred.

"The TV show forced people to look at the disorder,” cast member and cleaning specialist Matt Paxton told Reality Blurred. “For a show about trash, we had an amazing run.”

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Veteran TV Producer Dead at 79

A veteran television executive who worked as a producer and supervising executive on the first season of "Baywatch" has died. The Hollywood Reporter says Robert Silberling died Monday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 79.

Silberling died after a battle with Lou Gehrig's disease, the story reports. Survivors include his son, the filmmaker Brad Silberling of "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events," and Brad Silberling's wife, Emmy-nominated actress Amy Brenneman, the piece notes.

On "Baywatch," Robert Silberling served as a co-executive producer and supervising executive on the David Hasselhoff series before it was canceled by NBC in 1990. The show continued on in first-run syndication, and ended up airing until 2001.

Silberling also produced telefilms including "Outback Bound" (1988), "The Gift of Love" (1994) and "The Face on the Milk Carton" (1995).

"Earlier Silberling had produced documentaries including 'Nine From Little Rock' (1964) and 'John F. Kennedy: Years of Lightning, Day of Drums' (1965) under the aegis of the U.S. Information Agency before eventually becoming an executive at ABC and then CBS," Variety adds.

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Why Oprah Had to Get All Up in Lindsay Lohan's Stuff and 'Scared the Crap Out of Her'

Oprah Winfrey had an "intense showdown" with actress Lindsay Lohan -- who's working on a project for Winfrey's OWN cable channel -- after Lohan failed to show up for work on the project, TMZ.com reports, adding that the confrontation "scared the crap out of" Lohan.

As previously reported, Lohan will receive $2 million as part of her deal with OWN, which includes an eight-hour docuseries that focuses on Lohan's attempt to right her career after a series of disasters. The showdown reportedly happened at Lohan's mother's house, with Winfrey telling the actress that she wouldn't receive her big paycheck unless she got her act together, the story notes.

"We've confirmed ... Lindsay was a disaster at the beginning of the project -- at times just being a no-show -- which doesn't work in Oprah's world," TMZ reports.

The piece adds: "Our sources say Lindsay had a bunch of excuses ... she was spending time trying to find an apartment in NYC, she had other projects she was trying to finish, there were 'miscommunications' between her people and the folks at OWN, yada yada."

But in the end, the report notes, Oprah made the ultimatum clear and Lindsay got the message -- and appears to be back on track toward earning that $2 million.

"We're told Lindsay is now cooperating and things have been running okay for nearly a month, but Oprah is still watching Lindsay like a hawk," TMZ notes.

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Time Warner Chief Says HBO Is Open to Broadband-Only Play

The head man at Time Warner -- the parent company of HBO -- says the pay-cable channel is open to the idea of offering its programming as a broadband-only service. But B&C reports that Time Warner Inc. Chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes "would be reluctant to offer the premium channel to customers without an existing pay TV connection."

"Bewkes, at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference Wednesday, said offering its HBO GO online service as a bundle with a cable high-speed data service would create a product 'you can't refuse,' adding that such an offering could give the premium channel an inroad into the 70 million households that subscribe to pay TV but not HBO, not just the 5 million to 6 million that don’t have a pay TV service," B&C reports.

Bewkes reportedly said: "Where do you think the likely next subscriber is? Is it the 70 million homes that have bought 200 channels of stuff and they haven't bought HBO? Or is it the 5 or 10 million that didn't buy either HBO or that? It's pretty obvious; it's the 70 million homes. We’re working more on that. If a way to get them is through a broadband offering, our distributors would be properly interested in that. They haven't yet."

The piece notes that HBO has about 30 million subscribers, making it the leading premium network.

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Did Anthony Weiner Have an Ulterior Motive for His Failed Mayoral Bid? According to One Report, He Was Angling for a TV Job All Along

New York politician Anthony Weiner, who became a punchline and lost his New York City mayoral bid amid revelations about his sexting habits, has his eye on a new gig: a lucrative television or radio role, reports the New York Observer.

Weiner has been talking with agents since February, before he even started to think about a return to public service, the story says. Weiner, who resigned from Congress amid an earlier sexting scandal, reintroduced himself to public life with an April story in The New York Times Magazine.

"One agent he was said to have met is known for high-end placements on cable TV networks and represents many household names. According to an industry insider, Mr. Weiner wanted to gauge how a failed mayoral bid would impact his prospects of landing a lucrative TV or radio gig," the piece reports.

Weiner was frequently on cable news networks before he resigned from Congress, and seemed to enjoy that part of campaigning, the story notes. Since losing in the New York City mayoral primary, he has made several media appearances, including a radio interview with Geraldo Rivera last week.

The article reports: "The appearances have helped to fuel speculation that Mr. Weiner may now be eying a career on the airwaves -- similar to his fellow scandal-scarred candidate, ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who hosted a show on CNN after his resignation."

So where might he pop up? MSNBC would be a natural fit, the piece says.

Weiner declined to confirm or deny the meetings, according to the article.

Thumbnail image for anthony-weiner.jpegAnthony Weiner

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ABC Renews Drama Series

ABC has renewed a summer drama series. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the network will bring back "Mistresses" for a second season.

The series rated as the summer's No. 2 scripted drama in adults 18-49, trailing only CBS's breakout hit "Under the Dome." "Mistresses" stars Alyssa Milano in a remake of a British series with the same title, and its run this summer was geared toward keeping viewers interested during a traditionally rerun-filled time of year, the story notes.

While the show originally was scheduled against "Under the Dome," ABC shifted the drama to an hour later to avoid the conflict, showing a vote of confidence in the series, the piece adds.

alyssa-milano.jpgAlyssa Milano

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Anne Rice Novel in Development at CBS, With the Writer Producing

A novel by Anne Rice is in development at CBS, EW.com's Inside TV reports. The network has ordered a drama script based on her 2009 book "Angel Time," the story reports.

Rice, the writer of best-selling novels such as "Interview With the Vampire," will be an executive producer on the project. She will be joined by Sarah Timberman of "Masters of Sex," Carl Beverly and Joe Carnahan of "The A-Team." Carnahan will direct the pilot if the project reaches that stage in the development process.

The novel is about an assassin who's given another chance by an angel, and sent back to 13th century England to save a Jewish couple who are wrongly accused of murder.

anne-rice.jpgAnne Rice

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Will Bill Nye the Science Guy Dance On? Here's What He Says

Bill Nye is reportedly in "good spirits" after suffering a partial ligament tear in his left knee in a fall during his dance routine Monday on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars," reports People magazine.

Nye, known as TV's "Science Guy," fell after he "stepped on the cuff of these fancy slacks and I went down," he told the publication.

"We'll do R.I.C.E. -- we'll do rest, ice, compression, elevation [and] see where we get," he said of his injured knee.

As previously reported, Nye was injured while dancing with partner Tyne Stecklein. He has become a fan favorite with his goofy performances, including Monday night's segment, when he dressed as Ludwig van Beethoven and danced to the composer's Fifth Symphony.

Nye sent out a tweet Tuesday saying: "Here is the scoop: partially torn ligament. Awaiting the doc's orders with Tyne. We plan to dance! Stand by..." He also sent around an Instagram photo (shown below).

The New York Daily News reports: "The 57-year-old TV geek partially tore a ligament in his knee, apparently sustained during a trip at the end of his routine [Monday]." He was reportedly rushed to the hospital after the performance.

Nye has received low scores on the show for his dancing, but has ranked high in popularity, the Daily News notes.

"Nye and partner Tyne Stecklein have leaned heavily on the Science Guy's comedic timing and TV persona in their routines so far on 'DWTS.'" the piece reports. "A gimpy knee plus a spot at the bottom of the leaderboard is not a potential winning formula for the Science Guy. Nye, however, avoided elimination on 'DWTS' Monday night, despite fielding the worst scores this season."

Nye was not optimistic -- at least about his dancing -- in the runup to his "Dancing with the Stars" stint, telling Entertainment Weekly just before the season premiere: “I’m pigeon-toed, I’m on the wrong foot, and I’m slouched -- I mean when you look in the mirror, I suck. I suck. But with that said, at least I’m aware of it.”

The Daily News adds: "His best moves have been off the dance floor: galvanizing the popular vote and dominating the rest of the field in social media mentions to keep himself in the game. If Nye needs surgery, he’ll likely have to step down from the dance competition -- following the footsteps of past season casualties Dorothy Hamill (spine) and Misty May-Treanor (torn Achilles' tendon)."

Click here to watch a video of Nye and Stecklein on the show.

bill-nye-tyne-stecklein.jpgBill Nye and dance partner Tyne Stecklein await doctor's orders after his injury

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More Film Writers Switching to Television

While television was once looked down upon by screenwriters, that's changing, with feature film writers increasingly looking for work in the TV industry, reports the Los Angeles Times, citing a survey from the Writers Guild of America, East.

About 90% of respondents to the survey of film, TV and new media writers said they plan to look for guild-covered work in the TV industry next year. More than half said they wrote for movies in the past five years.

"In other words, screenwriters plan to explore opportunities in TV,'' the guild said in a statement. "Members view television as a more writer-driven medium than feature film, and a growing slate of compelling, creatively satisfying shows is being produced for the small screen."

The survey comes amid the critical and popular success of TV series such as AMC's "Breaking Bad" and Netflix's original programming, including "Orange Is the New Black."

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CBS Orders New Bruckheimer Show

CBS is working on another project from Jerry Bruckheimer, following the premiere Monday of "Hostages," reports Deadline.com.

The new project is called "Oasis," which will be written by John Hlavin of "Underworld: Awakening," and is about people living in a utopia who find there might be danger and mystery behind their community.

The sale marks the third for Bruckheimer TV this season, following "Home" and "Bagel Nation," which were sold to Fox and ABC, respectively.

Bruckheimer and Jonathan Littman are executive producing, with KristieAnne Reed co-executive producing. Bruckheimer TV and Warner Bros. TV are producing.

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Emily Goldwyn and Sasha Spielberg -- Both Scions of Iconic Hollywood Families -- Sell Comedy to ABC

Emily Goldwyn and Sasha Spielberg, the daughters of John Goldwyn and Steven Spielberg, have sold a comedy called "Girls Without Boys" to ABC, reports Deadline.com.

From Warner Bros. TV, the project will be written by Goldwyn and Spielberg, who came up with the idea based on their own experiences at the Marlborough school, the story says. The project tracks three smart but socially awkward girls as they try to navigate the world after attending a single-sex school.

"Marlborough may have given them a first-class education, but not about things like being able to talk to boys," the piece notes.

Caroline Williams of "Up All Night" will be the showrunner, and will executive produce along with Rashida Jones and Will McCormack. Emily Goldwyn recently was an assistant to Williams, who helped her with the process of developing the show.

"This is the first big deal for Goldwyn & Spielberg as a writing team," the piece notes.

Besides being the daughter of film producer John Goldwyn, Emily Goldwyn is the great-granddaughter of Samuel Goldwyn, one of the archetypal early Hollywood media moguls; and the granddaughter of film producer Samuel Goldwyn Jr.

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Miley Cyrus Is on the Cover of the Rolling Stone. And, Surprise, She's Not Wearing Any Clothes

The cover of Rolling Stone carries this line: "Good Golly Miss Miley!" And, sure enough, there's rock 'n' roll's newest bad-girl wannabe, not wearing any clothes. Here's a picture of the cover:

miley cyrus rolling stone cover.bmpHere's an outtake from the same photo shoot. To see more outtakes, please click here.

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Hottest Showrunner in TV, 'Breaking Bad's' Vince Gilligan, to Produce New Crime Serial, 'Battle Creek' for CBS. Another Hugely Successful Showrunner Is Also Connected to the Project

"Vince Gilligan, the creator and producer of one of the most-talked-about series in recent years, 'Breaking Bad,' is the hottest name in television," writes our good friend Bill Carter in The New York Times.

Carter continues, "Now Mr. Gilligan has concluded a deal that will bring another series he created to the more lucrative side of the business, broadcast TV," specifically CBS. Like "Breaking Bad," the show will come from Sony Pictures Television.

The story adds, "The show, a police drama called 'Battle Creek,' comes with an added layer of elite television pedigree. Based on Mr. Gilligan’s script, which he originally wrote for CBS 10 years ago, before he created 'Breaking Bad,' the show’s production will be led by David Shore, another celebrated television producer, who created and produced the longtime Fox hit drama 'House.'"

The story explains, "CBS has promised to produce 13 episodes and put them all on the air. Most show deals begin with a script payment, and the next stage is limited to the making of a pilot. In this case, CBS has committed to paying for all 13 episodes before they are even produced.

"Neither Sony nor CBS would reveal the specific financial terms of the deal, though Zack Van Amburg, the president of programming for Sony, said CBS would pay “a premium license fee.” Based on the typical costs of a pilot and an additional 12 episodes for an expensive, hourlong drama with top-tier producers attached, it is probably worth $35 million to $45 million."

We urge you to click on the link above in the first paragraph and read all of Carter's story, including how "cheap wine" played its part in the consummation of this deal.

vince gilligan.bmpVince Gilligan

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ABC Chalks Up the Biggest Broadcast Drama Premiere in Four Years -- And the Worst in Network History

ABC kicked its fall rollout into high gear Tuesday night with the premieres of four new programs, including the eagerly anticipated "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." Based on preliminary numbers for the key 18-49 demo, results were mixed, to say the least.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the Alphabet Network scored big with "S.H.I.E.L.D.," which delivered a 4.6 average in viewers 18-49 at 8 p.m. to equal NBC's two-hour "The Voice" as the top-rated broadcast shows of the night. But ABC's other new drama, "Lucky 7," laid an egg at 10 p.m., pulling in a 1.3 average and finishing a distant third in the time slot.

The 18-49 turnout for "S.H.I.E.L.D." was reportedly the biggest drama series debut on a broadcast network in four years. The show also delivered 11.9 million total viewers. At the other end of the spectrum, the demo result for "Lucky 7" reportedly made it ABC's lowest-rated fall drama premiere in network history.

Somewhere in the middle were ABC's two new comedies: "The Goldbergs" had a respectable 3.2 average in 18-49, while "Trophy Wife" settled for a 2.3. When the dust settled, ABC wound up in a tie for second place for prime time overall.

NBC won the 10 p.m. hour with the season premiere of "Chicago Fire," which came through with a 2.8 in the 18-49 demo to top CBS's season premiere of "Person of Interest," with a 2.3. The "Chicago Fire"-"The Voice" combo gave the Peacock Network a comfortable win for the broadcast prime. "The Voice" was down from a hefty 5.1 average rating on Monday, but up from a 4.0 for the Tuesday premiere a year ago.

CBS's double premiere for its "NCIS" franchise saw the season debut of the mothership deliver a 3.4 average in adults 18-49 at 8 p.m. -- the lowest premiere for the series in six years, and seven-tenths of a point below last year's 4.1 -- followed by a 3.0 for "NCIS: Los Angeles" -- down from a 3.4 a year ago and the show's lowest premiere ever.

Fox saw its numbers drop significantly after getting a jump on the new season a week ago. "Dads" lost seven-tenths of a point in the 18-49 demo from last week, sinking to a 1.5 average; "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" was down eight-tenths to a 1.8; "New Girl" drooped eight-tenths to a 2.1; and "The Mindy Project" slipped four-tenths to a 1.5.

NBC led the way for prime time overall with a 4.0 average in the 18-49 demo, with CBS and ABC tied for second place with 2.9 averages. Fox (1.7 average) and Univision (1.2) trailed.

CBS rode its lineup of procedurals to a big win in total viewers with 16.0 million for prime time, topping NBC (12.5 million), ABC (8.1 million), Fox (3.7 million) and Univision (3.1 million).

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TLC Expands a Micro-Niche, Slates Two New Programs About People Fleeing Churches

TLC is poised to mine ratings gold from what would have to be considered a micro-niche: programs about people leaving churches.

Deadline.com reports that the cable channel has two new shows on tap in the genre: "Breaking the Faith" and "Escaping the Prophet." Both programs take aim at the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS.

"The FLDS religion remains one of the most secretive communities in America, a world of unquestioned authority, arranged marriage, and little contact to the outside world," TLC said in its announcement. "Often in the headlines for its extreme beliefs and behaviors, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints continues to be led by its president -- and self-described prophet -- Warren Jeffs, despite his 2011 conviction on two felony counts of child sexual assault. With an estimated 10,000 followers of the church, no series has fully explored the experiences of individuals who choose to leave the compound -- until now."

TLC will televise a sneak peek of "Breaking the Faith" within the season finale of another show about people's struggle with their church, "Breaking Amish: L.A.," this Sunday, Sept. 29, Deadline notes. The program's premiere is set for Nov. 24.

"Breaking the Faith" tracks eight young men and women as they try to start new lives after escaping the FLDS community, the network says. "The young men, known as lost boys, are cast-outs from their homes and not welcomed back, while the women are escaping the controlling ways of the community -- including arranged marriage and a life of complete submission, known as “keeping sweet” -- and are hoping for a better life on the outside," the TLC announcement says.

"Escaping the Prophet," set for a December premiere, "follows ex-FLDS member Flora Jessop on her mission to take down one of the most reportedly dangerous polygamist cults in America," TLC says. "Flora, a social activist, an advocate for abused children, and the author of the 2009 book 'Church of Lies,' had endured extreme abuse during her life in the church, until she escaped at the age of 16. Now, she works closely with law enforcement, the Attorney General of Arizona, and a network of inside informants to help rescue runaways and extract victims within the community, as well as help empower families who choose to stay and fight."

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Fox News Takes Wraps Off New Show

Fox News Channel continues to tweak its lineup, unveiling details today on a new program, Deadline.com reports. The show is the daytime hour "The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson."

The program is set to launch Monday at 2 p.m. ET, leading out from "America's News HQ," with co-anchors Bill Hemmer and Alisyn Camerota.

Deadline reports: "'The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson' will focus on all current events from general news and crime to politics and investigative reports, the network said. Carlson recently left the network’s popular morning program 'Fox & Friends'; she was replaced by Elisabeth Hasselbeck."

Fox News said in its announcement: "Carlson will interview newsmakers and lead in-depth panel debates, lending viewers context and perspective on the headlines of the day. The program will also utilize social media to explore trending news stories and enlist viewer feedback."

Said Carlson: “I am thrilled that Roger Ailes has given me the opportunity to host a signature show for Fox that will focus on the real stories of the day. From in-depth interviews to social media interaction live during the show, I look forward to joining viewers in the afternoon for smart and straight-forward talk. Plus, I now get to have breakfast with my kids and maybe even drive them to school! How great is that?”

Gretchen.jpgGretchen Carlson

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New Law Clamps Down on Paparazzi Targeting Kids of Celebrities

A measure signed into law this week should make it more difficult for paparazzi trying to take pictures of the children of public figures and celebrities in California, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed the privacy measure, which will make it a misdemeanor to attempt to photograph or videotape a child in a harassing manner if the image is being taken because the child's parent is a celebrity or public official," the story reports. "The measure drew strong support from Hollywood celebrities. Actresses Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry testified before the Legislature that when they take their children out in public, they are harassed by paparazzi."

State Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, who wrote the measure, said in a statement that the new law "will give children, no matter who their parent is, protection from harassers who go to extremes to turn a buck." He added: "Kids shouldn't be tabloid fodder nor the target of ongoing harassment."

The report notes: "The law, which takes effect Jan. 1, also increases the penalty for harassment, which now is as much as six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. The new penalty for harassment of children by photographers or video camera operators is as long as a year in jail and a maximum fine of $10,000."

Bill opponents the California Broadcasters Association and the California Newspaper Publishers Association had argued that the measure was too broad and that existing harassment measures were sufficient, the piece notes.

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Video: Tina Fey's 'Wardrobe Malfunction'

A promotional video for this weekend's season 39 premiere of NBC's "Saturday Night Live," featuring guest host Tina Fey along with "SNL" regular Kenan Thompson, includes a promise by Fey that "'SNL' will be over in time for you to watch the 'Breaking Bad' finale," which is scheduled for the next day.

The multi-take promo includes one take containing a "wardrobe malfunction" for Fey. Don't get your hopes up -- it's all carefully orchestrated. But here it is:

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Lifetime Cancels Long-Running Series

A long-running Lifetime drama series has come to the end of its run. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that the cable channel has canceled "Army Wives" after seven seasons.

Fans will get some closure as the network plans a two-hour retrospective early next year, the report notes.

The series, which starred Wendy Davis, Catherine Bell and Brian McNamara, never earned the kind of buzz generated by AMC's "Breaking Bad," but it did earn some awards, such as two Gracie Awards, the piece notes.

In a statement, Lifetime General Manager Rob Sharenow said: "There is no denying how special 'Army Wives' has been to both Lifetime and the television landscape. By taking on a very relevant and timely issue, it has brilliantly captured the challenges our military families endure and the bravery they and their loved ones display while serving our country."

The series' seventh season, which ended in June, was its last.

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Cable News Host Apologizes for 'Embarrassing Racial Stereotypes'

One of the hosts of a cable news show came under fire over an incident that took place on the show late last week. The U.K. publication The Daily Mail reports that Joe Kernen, a co-host of CNBC's "Squawk Box," apologized for the incident, in which he mimicked an Indian accent and made a joke about 7-Eleven during a segment about foreign exchange rates.

Kernen came under fire for what was characterized as "embarrassing racial stereotypes," the story reports.

The hosts of "Squawk Box" had been talking about India's central bank when Becky Quick produced two rupee notes from her purse. Kernen then launched into a fake Indian accent, to his co-hosts' alarm.

Kernen then said, "Are they good at 7-Eleven?," leading to condemnation from his co-hosts, the story reports. He followed up with a quick on-air apology.

Kernen later issued another apology in response to a request from The Daily Mail for a comment. He told the publication: "Last Friday, I made an inappropriate and insensitive remark on 'Squawk Box.' I apologize for any offense it caused."

joe-kernen.jpgJoe Kernen

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Actress Mentally Unfit to Stand Trial, Says Her Attorney

Former Nickelodeon star Amanda Bynes is mentally unfit to stand trial, according to her attorney, reports TMZ.com. Bynes was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday on her DUI arrest in West Hollywood in April 2012, but her attorney told the judge that the troubled actress didn't have the mental capacity to understand the proceedings.

The judge then transferred the case to the mental health court, which will hold a hearing about her mental competency, the story reports.

Bynes is receiving long-term treatment after being placed under a conservatorship, the report notes.

Bynes, who surfaced as a star in TV shows including "All That" and "The Amanda Show," has been institutionalized since a bizarre incident in July in which she reportedly set a fire in a residential driveway in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and was videotaped in a liquor store trying to remove gasoline from her dog.

amanda-bynes3.pngAmanda Bynes

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Celebrity Contestant Injured on 'Dancing with the Stars' -- May Need Surgery

One of the celebrity contestants on the ABC competition "Dancing with the Stars" was injured while performing on the show. E! Online reports that television's "Science Guy," Bill Nye, hurt his knee, which may require surgery.

Nye was injured Monday while dancing with partner Tyne Stecklein, the story says.

"We can confirm Bill Nye was injured during his performance last night and is currently seeking medical attention," an ABC representative said Tuesday. "We will continue to keep you posted on his progress."

Nye -- who has called his partnership with Stecklein "beauty and the geek" -- has become a fan favorite on the show, with his first performance drawing more than 3 million views on YouTube, the piece notes.

On Monday night, he pleased the crowd with his Ludwig van Beethoven costume, dancing to the composer's Fifth Symphony. If he continues, he and his partner are scheduled to perform the Jive next week, the story says.

Below is the first performance on the show by Nye and Stecklein -- watch it!

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Oscar-Winning Director Headed Back to TV

Fox has given a put pilot commitment to a project that will mark the return to television for an Oscar-winning director.

Deadline.com reports that the project comes from director, producer and screenwriter Robert Zemeckis -- known for "Forrest Gump," "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" and the "Back to the Future" movies, among many others -- and the creator of A&E's "The Glades," Clifton Campbell.

Called "Billy Ray," the drama project is about a family whose missing child returns 16 years later, after being raised in Alabama by someone with an iffy background, the story says. Campbell and Zemeckis are executive producing, although no studio is on board yet.

The project would mark Zemeckis' first series in more than 15 years -- he executive produced HBO's short-lived "Perversions of Science" in 1997 -- and his first directing job for a series since he worked on the HBO anthology "Tales From the Crypt" in 1995.

Zemeckis, whose feature directing credits also include "Contact," "Cast Away" and "Romancing the Stone," won the Academy Award for best director for "Forrest Gump" in 1995.

Robert-Zemeckis.jpgRobert Zemeckis

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NBC Orders First Pilot for 2014-15 Season

Just one day after the new fall television season kicked off, NBC placed its first pilot order for the 2014-15 television season. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the network ordered a drama that's described as a "Traffic"-like thriller.

The project, "Odyssey," is from "The Following" writers Adam Armus and Kay Foster, with Peter Horton of "thirtysomething" executive producing, the story reports. Armus, Foster and Horton will co-write the pilot.

"The drama centers on three families who are torn apart when a stranded female soldier, a disillusioned corporate attorney and a disrespected political activist are pulled into the same shocking international military conspiracy," the report notes.

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Disney Pulls Plug on Program Allowing Disabled People to Go to Front of Line

The Walt Disney Co. is pulling the plug on its program that allowed disabled people to go to the front of the line for attractions at its theme parks, partly because of abuse of the plan, reports Bloomberg.

Instead, guests with disabilities will be given appointment times based on current waiting times for the rides, the story says. Previously, disabled guests received a "guest assistance card" that allowed them to move to the front of a line. The new system will be go into effect Oct. 9.

Earlier this year, the New York Post reported that wealthy Manhattan parents were hiring disabled people to pose as family members, allowing their children to cut the lines at Disney World.

One mom who reportedly hired a disabled "guide" was quoted at the time saying: “My daughter waited one minute to get on It’s a Small World -- the other kids had to wait 2 1/2 hours. ... You can’t go to Disney without a tour concierge. This is how the 1 percent does Disney.”

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Dr. Drew Reveals He Had Treatment for Cancer

Reality television host Dr. Drew Pinsky has revealed that he underwent treatment for cancer. People magazine reports that Pinsky says he underwent surgery last July for prostate cancer, telling only a small number of friends and colleagues at the time.

He returned to work after 10 days and has made a complete recovery, as he tells it.

"The erectile function is normal, sex drive is normal, bladder works normally. And I don't have to worry about prostate cancer," he told the publication.

Pinsky said the cancer was discovered after he returned from a Caribbean vacation, when he worried he had caught a tropical disease. While the illness passed, he was found to have elevated PSA, and was treated for prostatitis. After getting treatment for that and not getting better, he had a biopsy, which uncovered the cancer.

"We're all bad as males. I convinced myself I could do my own primary care," he said. "These are very complicated issues. The message I want to give out is that this is still an art. So much of the good outcome for me was the result of people following their intuition, including my wife."

Thumbnail image for dr-drew-pinsky.jpgDr. Drew Pinsky

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Iger Says Disney May Feed 'Voracious Appetite' of Netflix and Other Digital Platforms for New Content

Walt Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger said the company may create content for platforms such as Netflix and other new digital services, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"I wouldn't be surprised if, sometime in the near future, you didn't hear about Disney making content specifically for one of the platforms you cite and not necessarily making it for one of our channels," Iger told the Fox Business Network when asked about Netflix, Amazon.com and Google.

He added, "Now, we will continue to feed these great (Disney-owned) channels, but these new platforms are voracious in terms of their appetite for good content, and we can make it."

While he didn't provide specifics, Iger added that the company has the ability to produce traditional TV-type programming as well as more edgy content tailored for digital platforms.

Commenting on the new marketplace for content, Iger said: "You might get a mini-episode of something on one platform and then, you know, tweets about the story on another, and so on. You also have a huge, huge explosion of shortform content that is designed for mobile and basically social distribution where you actually have people that serve as the distributor of that content."

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ABC Developing Drama Series From 'Bones' Creator

"Bones" creator and executive producer Hart Hanson has a drama series in development at ABC. Deadline.com reports that the project, "The Good Thief's Guide," has landed a script commitment with significant penalty.

Based on the book by Chris Ewan, the project tracks Charlie Howard as he blogs about his adventures across the world and steals to keep himself afloat.

Hanson and Andrew Miller are executive producing, with the project produced by 20th Century Fox TV, where Hanson is under an overall deal, the story says. Hanson currently has another book adaptation, "Backstrom," in contention at CBS.

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Why Fans of 'Breaking Bad' Are Getting a $22.99 Refund

Apple made an announcement that will be good news for some fans of AMC's "Breaking Bad." The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that iTunes users who bought season passes for the show's fifth season are eligible for a $22.99 credit.

The move comes after some fans became upset upon learning their purchase of a "season five" pass was good only for the first half -- eight episodes -- of the show's split final season. The drama series, which airs its final episode on Sunday, split its fifth season into two halves of eight episodes each.

Some iTunes users were upset when they found the service wanted essentially two payments for the last season. A separate purchase was required for the final eight episodes, billed as "the final season," the story reports.

That led to anger among users -- and a lawsuit from one customer, the story says. Apple has apologized for the confusion, noting that customers will receive the credit.

"'Season 5' costs $13.99 for standard definition and $21.99 for high definition while the final episodes cost $14.99 for SD and $22.99 for HD," the report notes.

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Star of Canceled Syfy Series Headed to CBS Drama ... and an ABC Casting Update

One of the stars of Syfy's "Warehouse 13" is headed for a major role on a CBS drama series. Deadline.com reports that Joanne Kelly, who plays the Secret Service agent Myka Bering on "Warehouse 13," will tackle a recurring role on the new series "Hostages."

Kelly will play Vanessa, an ambassador and the sister of the nation's first lady, played by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.

As previously reported, "Warehouse 13" was recently canceled by Syfy, with a six-episode final season slated to debut in early 2014.

Separately, Jack Coleman of "Heroes" has been cast in a multi-episode arc on "Scandal" on ABC. Not much is known about his character, beyond that he's said to be a charming Southerner.

joanne-kelly.pngJoanne Kelly

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Stop, Stop, Stop All the Dancing, Give Me Time to Breathe! But No, Miley Cyrus Goes Wild in Yet Another Music Video. See It Here

According to Entertainment Weekly, "In the new Mike Will Made-It music clip for “23,” Miley Cyrus parades around a high school wearing 'sexy' Chicago Bulls jerseys and vintage Jordans while making references to Naughty By Nature and MC Hammer. She smokes cigarettes, graffitis the bathroom, and generally runs amok."

Here's the video -- Warning: Some may find it offensive.

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Fox Wins Bidding War for Warner Bros. Series That Will Use Characters Associated With Batman, Though the Caped Crusader Himself Won't Be on the Show

"In one of the biggest drama deals this season, after a bidding war, Fox has landed 'Gotham,' from Warner Bros. TV and 'The Mentalist' creator Bruno Heller, with a series commitment. For 'Gotham,' Warner Bros. TV is mining one of DC Comics‘ most popular character universes, 'Batman,'" writes our friend Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

The story continues by saying that the series will explore "the origin stories of Commissioner James Gordon and the villains who made Gotham City famous. In 'Gotham,' Gordon is still a detective with the Gotham City Police Department and has yet to meet Batman, who will not be part of the series."

Andreeva also notes: "While Superman spawned the long-running series 'Smallville,' this is the first series featuring a character from the world of Batman in a very long time as Warner Bros. TV had been exploring a Gotham City-set show for more than a year."

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On a Night of Broadcast Premieres, One Network Separates Itself From the Pack

Monday night saw new fall shows and season premieres roll out in earnest in broadcast prime time, and one network came away as the clear winner, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. The network was NBC.

The Peacock Network combined the two-hour season premiere of "The Voice" with a strong debut for the new drama series "The Blacklist" to chalk up a dominating win for the night. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the season five premiere of "The Voice" delivered a 4.9 average rating in viewers 18-49 -- topping last fall's 4.2 average and last spring's 4.8 to easily claim top broadcast show of the night.

NBC's "The Blacklist" premiere was the night's next-highest-rated show on broadcast with a 3.8 average in 18-49 -- trouncing everything else in its 10 p.m. time period but below the 4.1 turned in last fall by the premiere of the hotly anticipated "Revolution," which also had "The Voice" as its lead-in.

Head-to-head against "The Blacklist," CBS's premiere of its new drama "Hostages" managed only a 1.8 average in the 18-49 demo, less than half the number for the NBC show. The CBS show matched the rating for CBS's "Hawaii Five-0" in the time period a year ago. ABC's "Castle" was No. 2 in the time slot with a 2.2, improving slightly on a 2.1 for last year's premiere.

CBS had a better result for its new show "Mom," which premiered to a 2.5 average in adults 18-49 at 9:30, leading out from "2 Broke Girls." That show's season premiere delivered a 2.8 average, but CBS's top show of the night was the one-hour season premiere of "How I Met Your Mother," with a 3.6.

ABC saw its two-hour "Dancing with the Stars" lose ground from last week's season premiere. With new competition from a batch of premieres at 8 and 9 p.m., "Dancing" dropped from a 3.1 for the opener to a 2.3 this week in viewers 18-49.

Fox's new drama "Sleepy Hollow" turned in another good number -- a 3.1 in 18-49 -- although it lost ground from last week's 3.5. "Bones" also lost four-tenths of a point, settling for a 1.9.

The numbers for prime time overall show NBC well ahead of the pack in the 18-49 demo with a 4.6 average, beating CBS (2.7), Fox (2.5), ABC (2.3) and Univision (1.3). The race for total viewers is tighter, but NBC again comes out on top with 14.0 million, topping ABC (12.7 million), CBS (8.3 million), Fox (7.6 million) and Univision (3.4 million).

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Cable Exec: A la Carte Poses a Threat to Hollywood's Creative Community

A leading cable executive issued a scathing assessment of the a la carte programming model. Appearing in Beverly Hills at the media event TheGrill, FX Networks CEO John Landgraf said a la carte poses a threat to the Hollywood creative community, the cable industry and consumers, TheWrap.com reports.

Said Landgraf: “I think it’s a risk to the whole ecosystem.” The executive added that half the jobs in Hollywood would disappear if the current model gave way.

“If that happened, you’d see the greatest recession in the history of Hollywood," he said.

"While he acknowledged 'a certain amount of genuine consumer irritation' over the current cable model and its resultant prices, he insisted that it’s still a relatively cheap form of entertainment compared to other forms of entertainment and that the current way of doing business is essential to a financially viable entertainment industry," the story reports.

Added Landgraf: “There are a lot of interested parties that would like to see the system fall apart (but) it’s just a really efficient economic model.”

And: “If you look at the town we sit in and all of the agencies and all of the people in these agencies … they’re dependent on this model. They’re absolutely dependent on this model."

From a consumer standpoint, Landgraf said, the loss of revenue from pay-TV subscriptions would hit the funding of programming, leading to “more homes paying higher prices for fewer channels.”

Here's a taste of what Landgraf had to say:

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FX Renews Drama Series

FX announced that it will bring back a freshman drama series for a second season. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the cable net is renewing "The Bridge."

"The 13-episode renewal comes as little surprise given the show's solid performance -- it has been tracking just shy of 'The Americans' -- and the creative team spoke optimistically of a second season throughout this summer's panel at the Television Critics Association," the story reports.

THR adds: "All told, the July 10 series premiere has taken in 5.07 million viewers. That figure, Nielsen's Live+Seven Day returns, marks a 67 percent jump from the original haul of 3.04 million viewers. Both figures just trail 'The Americans' as FX's biggest launch to date. 'The Bridge' ranks as the No. 1 new scripted cable series launch of the summer among adults 18-49. Season one is averaging 3.65 million total viewers and 1.68 million among adults 18-49. When adding DVR numbers, the series jumps 89 percent in total viewers and 105 percent in the demo compared with Live+Same Day."

The series is also doing well overseas, the piece notes, with its recent launch attracting 3 million consolidated viewers in 19 metered pay-TV markets en route to what should be an audience of about 4.5 million total viewers.

"'The Bridge,' an adaptation of international hit 'Bron,' came to FX from Shine America and FX Productions. It hails from 'Homeland' writer/executive producer Meredith Stiehm and 'Hawaii Five-0' producer Elwood Reid and revolves around two detectives, one from the U.S. (Diane Kruger) and one from Mexico (Demian Bichir), who must work together to hunt down a serial killer operating on both sides of the border," THR notes.

The current serial killer storyline will wrap when the show's 13-episode first season winds down. "Stiehm and Reid recently said that the upcoming finale will act as a launch pad for the sophomore run -- though they won't be taking on a serial killer per season model," the report adds.

The show's second season will debut in summer 2014.

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Actress Slams Emmys as 'Dated' and 'Embarrassing' -- Here's What's Eating Her

An actress who has been a part of her share of awards ceremonies said she was "really disappointed" with Sunday's Emmy Awards, E! Online reports. The main problem, according to "Grey's Anatomy" star Ellen Pompeo, was a lack of diversity.

"I didn't see any diversity in the Emmys at all," Pompeo is quoted as saying in an interview with the Associated Press. "The Emmys felt so dated to me. ... That dance number was embarrassing. Did you see one person of color in that dance number?"

The report adds: "To be fair, two of the dancers in the 'American Horror Story: Asylum' portion of the dance number were clad in head-to-toe latex, so ... we can't be 100 percent sure."

Talking about her own show -- which has taken home five Emmys in past years, but was shut out this time -- Pompeo noted: "I'm extremely proud of our very, very diverse cast, which represents the world I walk around in any day."

Pompeo has no Emmys of her own but has been a part of the Golden Globes -- nominated for her work on "Grey's" in 2007 -- and a number of other awards, including winning a People's Choice earlier this year.

"Perhaps Pompeo was also among the scandalized Gladiators who, like Diahann Carroll, were convinced that Kerry Washington was going to walk away with the Emmy for lead actress in a drama series for 'Scandal' (a Shonda Rhimes-created show, like 'Grey's'), only to see Claire Danes notch her second straight win for 'Homeland,'" the report notes.

E! Online reported separately that Pompeo later said her comments about Emmys diversity were supposed to be off the record.

"Even so, the 43-year-old 'Grey's Anatomy' star stands by her belief that this year's show was 'disappointing' and 'lacked diversity.'" E! reports. "During a Sept. 23 appearance on Bravo's 'Watch What Happens Live,' Pompeo said her quotes were made 'off the record' and said her team was investigating the matter."

ellen-pompeo.jpgEllen Pompeo

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HBO Takes Wraps Off New Comedy Series

HBO has acquired a new comedy series. Deadline.com reports that the pay-cable channel obtained U.S. and Canadian rights to "Doll & Em."

The project, consisting of six half-hour episodes, is from King Bee Productions, a new company launched by Emily Mortimer of "The Newsroom" and Alessandro Nivola. Mortimer stars along with Dolly Wells.

"A portrait of female friendship, 'Doll & Em' tells the story of a British Hollywood star who hires her childhood friend to be her personal assistant while making a film in Los Angeles," the story reports. "Mortimer and Wells co-wrote 'Doll & Em' along with the show’s director Azazel Jacobs ('Terri,' 'Momma’s Man'). Nivola produced along with Stacia Peters, Kevin Comer, Mortimer, Dolly Wells and Azazel Jacobs. Revolution Films’ Andrew Eaton executive produced with Lucy Lumsden."

emily-mortimer.pngEmily Mortimer

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CBS Developing Spinoff of One of Its Popular Dramas

CBS has a new drama series in the works, and it's a spinoff of one of the network's popular current series. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that actor Mark Harmon is working on a spinoff of "NCIS."

Harmon stars as Special Agent Gibbs on "NCIS," which is still going strong after 10 seasons. Harmon will executive produce the new project along with "NCIS" executive producer and showrunner Gary Glasberg.

The new show is expected to be introduced as a two-part "NCIS" episode in the spring, Andreeva reports.

"The character-driven project, written by Glasberg and produced by CBS Studios, centers on the the NCIS New Orleans office, which handles cases from Pensacola through Mississippi and Louisiana to the Texas panhandle," Andreeva writes.

New Orleans was chosen as the setting because of its history of music and partying, which lures military personnel who are on leave, the piece notes.

The project would be the show's second spinoff, following the successful "NCIS: Los Angeles," which also started as a backdoor pilot.

mark-harmon.jpgMark Harmon

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Emmy Tributes to Fallen Stars: Bad Idea? Another Dead Actor's Son Speaks Out

The controversy over the Emmy Awards' decision to single out five recently departed television figures for tribute appears to be spreading, with the son of "Dallas" star Larry Hagman expressing "disappointment," reports ET Online.

Hagman, who starred in "I Dream of Jeannie" before becoming the iconic TV character J.R. Ewing on "Dallas," died Nov. 23, 2012, at 81 of complications from leukemia. He was included in the "In Memoriam" segment of Sunday's Emmys ceremony, but was not one of the five TV people singled out for individual tributes.

As previously reported, the son of Jack Klugman, Adam Klugman, said his father's omission from the individual tributes was "criminal." Jack Klugman, a three-time Emmy winner, was passed over in favor of relative newcomer Cory Monteith of "Glee" and four others who were honored individually.

The individual tributes were something new the Emmys producers tried this year. Klugman, Hagman and other recently departed stars were included in the ceremony's traditional "In Memoriam" montage.

Preston Hagman, the son of Larry Hagman, said he felt the three seconds given to his father in the montage was "short." He added, "I think all of them were short. If you are going to honor [the 'In Memoriam' recipients], honor them with the respect and dignity that they portrayed. Do it for everyone.

"These are very talented people. The actors that they’re honoring have done so much for the industry. ... If you're going to respect and recognize them, then do it correctly."

Hagman said while he was watching the Emmys he felt "disappointment. Again, I think my dad was a trailblazer in the industry to set the stage for other actors. So it's not anger, it's definitely disappointment, for what he contributed to the profession."

The report adds: "Other stars fondly remembered in the 'In Memoriam' montage included Dennis Farina, Annette Funicello, Conrad Bain, Lee Thompson Young, Eileen Brennan, Bonnie Franklin, Jeanne Cooper, Allan Arbus, Charles Durning, Alex Karras, Julie Harris, Andy Williams and Roger Ebert."

larry-hagman2.pngLarry Hagman

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'Mad Men' Star Jon Hamm to Undergo Surgery

Jon Hamm, the star of the AMC drama series "Mad Men," will undergo surgery next week. TVGuide.com reports that the actor faces what the report describes as a "routine outpatient procedure" to remove a polyp from his throat.

Hamm was up for outstanding actor in a drama series at Sunday's Emmy Awards, but lost out to Jeff Daniels of HBO's "The Newsroom."

The first half of the final season of "Mad Men" will debut next year.

jon-hamm.jpgJon Hamm

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Rapper Targeted in NFL Lawsuit Fights Back, Points the Finger at Underage Cheerleaders in a 'Sexually Provocative Position' (Video)

Rapper M.I.A. posted a video (watch it below) in response to a $1.5 million lawsuit against her by the NFL, which is going after her for flashing her middle finger during a halftime performance at the 2012 Super Bowl.

M.I.A. is refusing to pay the NFL over the incident, arguing that the cheerleaders who appeared during the performance were more offensive than her hand gesture, reports TMZ.com.

The 38-year-old rapper is seen in the new video discussing the NFL incident, which she calls "completely ridiculous" and "a massive waste of time," among other descriptions.

"They've scapegoated me into figuring out the goalposts on what is offensive in America -- like, is my finger offensive, or is [an] underage black girl with her legs wide open more offensive," M.I.A. says in the video, which appears to show her talking to someone in the media.

As previously reported, the NFL filed suit against M.I.A. for displaying the gesture, seeking $1.5 million in damages for what the league calls an "offensive gesture." M.I.A. is fighting the lawsuit.

In the video posted Monday, M.I.A. claims the cheerleaders were rounded up by Madonna from an Indianapolis high school, and were all under 16. She says during the halftime performance the girls had their "hips thrusted in the air, legs wide open, in this very sexually provocative position." She added she was just being "punk rock" by using the gesture.

The controversial portion of the halftime performance can be seen here.

Here's the new video of M.I.A. discussing the lawsuit and the Super Bowl halftime show:

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Oscar Winner to Star in New ABC Series

An actress who has one Oscar on her shelf -- along with five other Academy Award nominations -- is signed up for a major role in an upcoming ABC series.

Deadline.com reports that Vanessa Redgrave, who won an Oscar in 1978 for "Julia," will co-star in the network's 13-episode limited drama series "The Black Box." Redgrave will appear opposite Kelly Reilly, the report notes.

The project, written by Amy Holden Jones ("The Relic," "Mystic Pizza"), is slated to run in 2014.

"Simon Curtis is directing the project, executive produced by Jones; Ilene Chaiken, who serves as showrunner; Bryan Singer; 3 Arts’ Oly Obst; and Anne Thomopoulos," the report notes, adding that the series "centers on Elizabeth Black (Reilly), a world-renowned neuroscientist who appears to have it all but is constantly haunted by her own struggle with mental illness. And that is not the only secret she’s kept locked away from her family and her new fiance."

Redgrave is set to play Elizabeth’s psychiatrist and confidante.

vanessa-redgrave.jpgVanessa Redgrave

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Did Timberlake Cancel on Leno to Make a Bigger Impact on a Rival Late-Night Show?

Justin Timberlake canceled his Monday performance on NBC's "Tonight Show" amid reports that the singer wasn't feeling well. But Deadline.com reported Monday that there might have been another reason for his cancellation.

"Earlier in the day, another source said tonight’s Timberlake performance may have been scrubbed to ensure maximum impact tomorrow night, when the pop star is scheduled to perform a free concert on Hollywood Blvd. compliments of ABC’s competing late-night show 'Jimmy Kimmel Live,'" the Deadline piece reports.

Timberlake kept his commitment to sit down on "The Tonight Show," but didn't perform. During the appearance he talked about being sick and being on an "antibiotic cocktail." (See video below.)

Kimmel shut down Hollywood Boulevard on Monday night to feature a free concert by Paul McCartney, according to KTLA.com. Timberlake was scheduled to perform tonight, Tuesday.

Here's a little of Timberlake on NBC's "Tonight Show" Monday night:

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'Dancing With the Stars' Pumps Up Leah Remini's Scientology Feud

ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" appears to be prepared to get as much mileage as possible out of actress Leah Remini's high-profile break from the Church of Scientology.

The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Remini candidly discussed the break during Monday's live telecast of the show. "The church is looking for me to fail," she said, "so they can say, 'Look what happens when you leave.'"

Her comments, made to her partner Tony Dovolani about the pressures associated with her widely publicized departure from the church, mark the first time she has addressed the split on the dancing competition, the story notes.

"She remained mum during the Sept. 16 opener -- but producers held little back in showcasing Monday's brief sound bite. A newspaper headline about her Scientology exit also flashed across the screen during the clip," the piece notes.

The report adds: "Remini has been selective about the venues where she's chosen to discuss the split, though it did come up during her appearance on the recent season premiere of 'Ellen.'"

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for leah-remini2.jpgLeah Remini

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New NBCU Channel Names President

NBCUniversal's new cable network has announced the appointment of a president. B&C reports that the channel, Esquire Network, promoted Adam Stotsky to president from general manager of G4 and Esquire.

Stotsky oversaw the debut of Esquire, which debuted yesterday after the company rebranded the Style Network. His promotion was announced by NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group Chairman Bonnie Hammer.

The new network debuted after its rebranding was delayed from April 22, the piece notes.

Adam-Stotsky.jpgAdam Stotsky

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Oops: MSNBC's 'Geography Refresher' Messes Up Its Geography

MSNBC's Toure helpfully told viewers watching "The Cycle" that he was going to give them a "geography refresher," but unfortunately he provided the wrong information for Kenya's location, reports TVNewser.

His error was in the script, rather than in the graphic accompanying the segment on the mall takeover in Nairobi, Kenya.

"Here is your Monday geography refresher: Kenya is located on the northern coast of Africa, right next door to Somalia,” he said.

Kenya isn't located on the north coast of Africa, as it sits on the eastern coast, the piece reports. It is, however, adjacent to Somalia.

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'Fox & Friends' Enjoys Ratings Bump During Hasselbeck's First Week

The Fox News Channel's morning show "Fox & Friends" saw its ratings rise during Elisabeth Hasselbeck's first week on the show, reports TheWrap.com.

The cable show was up 10% week-over-week in the news demographic of adults 25-54, the story notes. MSNBC's "Morning Joe" was up 17% in the demo during the same time frame. On CNN, meanwhile, "New Day" was down 12% week-to-week.

The Fox show averaged 278,000 viewers in the news demo during the week, up from 252,000 the previous week. Numbers for MSNBC's "Morning Joe" were 145,000, up from 124,000; and CNN's "New Day" dipped to 94,000, from 107,000 a week earlier.

"Fox News boasts an 18% increase in the demo from Q3-to-date since Hasselbeck joined," the report notes. "During the same time period, 'New Day' is down 15% while 'Morning Joe' is up 12% in the demo."

Thumbnail image for elisabeth-hasselbeck2.jpgElisabeth Hasselbeck

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Kelly Clarkson Forced to Sell Jane Austen Ring in U.K. Flap

Kelly Clarkson has been forced to sell a ring that was once owned by Jane Austen, after Britain blocked the export until Austen's House Museum raised enough money to pay the "American Idol" winner for the gold-and-turquoise piece of jewelry, reports USA Today.

British newspapers reported that Clarkson had been "thwarted" in her wish to bring the ring to the U.S., the story notes.

Clarkson was gracious about the sale, saying in a statement, "The ring is a beautiful national treasure and I am happy to know that so many Jane Austen fans will get to see it at Jane Austen's House Museum."

USA Today notes, "Like most countries with deep reserves of art and antiques (but not the USA), Britain can block the export of items it considers national treasures. Anything belonging to the divine Miss Austen is considered sufficiently rare, if not outright sacred, to keep in the country, since very little else owned by Austen remains. Austen left the ring to her sister, and it had remained in her family for two centuries."

Clarkson won the ring at a Sotheby's auction, bidding five times the pre-auction estimate. To keep the ring in the U.K., the British needed to raise about $248,000 to pay the singer.

Donations from Austen fans funded the purchase, including $158,000 coming from one anonymous donor, the story says.

Clarkson, an Austen fan, is reportedly wearing a replica of the ring.

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'Mentalist' Creator and Producer Sell Sci-Fi Drama to Broadcast Net

"The Mentalist" creator Bruno Heller and executive producer Tom Szentgyorgyi have sold what's being described as a Western/sci-fi drama to the CW, Deadline.com reports.

The project, "Red," is about the first human settlement on Mars, which features a female sheriff, the story says.

Now in development, the drama is written by Szentgyorgyi and is executive produced by Szentgyorgyi and Heller for Warner Bros. TV.

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There Is No Stopping This Juggernaut: Against the Emmys, the NFL and the 'Dexter' Finale, 'Breaking Bad' Sets Another Ratings Record (and 'Dexter' Did Well Itself)

Things are breaking sooooo good for AMC's Emmy-hit "Breaking Bad."

On Sunday night, Sept 22, 2013, against stiff competition from the NFL, from the Emmys, and from the finale of Showtime's "Dexter," "Breaking Bad's" penultimate episode hit another ratings high.

With "6.6 million viewers ... 'Breaking Bad' beat its own AMC record set a week earlier (6.4 million viewers)," reports E! Online.

Adds The Hollywood Reporter: "Among adults 18-49, the series was also at a high, with 4.3 million viewers. It also scored with adults 25-54, averaging 3.7 million viewers. The series seems poised to outdo itself again with next week's series finale. After returning to huge year-to-year gains with the start of its final eight episodes, 'Breaking Bad' has raised the bar twice more in the last month."

And E! notes, about the "Dexter" finale: "Despite most critics and viewers universally panning Dexter Morgan's (Michael C. Hall) swan song, the series-ender brought in 3.3 million viewers for the night, making it the highest-rated 'Dexter' episode ever and the most watched original episode in Showtime history."

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HBO Entertainment President Steps Down

The president of HBO Entertainment is exiting the position and making a career change. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that Sue Naegle will focus on producing and will launch her own company, which will have a three-year first-look deal with the pay-cable network.

HBO declined to comment on the story.

"This will mark a second career change for Naegle," Andreeva writes. "She was a top TV lit agent at UTA before she was tapped by Richard Plepler and Michael Lombardo to succeed Carolyn Strauss as HBO’s top development executive in 2008 at a transitional time for the premium cable network, which had been struggling to find new hits post-'Sopranos' and 'Sex and the City.' Naegle nurtured 'True Blood,' which she sold as an agent just before joining HBO, and was instrumental in bringing in such HBO series as mega-hit 'Game of Thrones' and the watercooler darling 'Girls.'"

Rumors began circulating earlier in the summer about a possible exit for Naegle, who has a good relationship with both Plepler and Lombardo, Andreeva reports. "I hear she felt there was a significant overlap in the HBO executive suite, with President of Programming Lombardo also very hands-on in series development," the report notes.

Naegle reportedly began talks recently with Plepler and Lombardo in advance of next year's expiration of her contract.

"I hear she expressed her concerns about continuing in her position, where she felt squeezed, and the three came up with the plan for her to stay on as a producer," Andreeva writes. "Naegle will segue into producing immediately. She is expected to hire another executive, with her development expected to be exclusive to HBO in the premium cable arena."

With Naegle's exit, the channel may expand the duties of Senior VPs Casey Bloys and Michael Ellenberg, the report notes.

sue-naegle.jpgSue Naegle

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What's the Fastest-Selling Entertainment Item in History? With Sales of $1 Billion in Three Days, It's Not a Movie, TV Show, Book or Audio Recording

A product that recently went on sale has become the fastest entertainment item in history to reach the $1 billion sales mark. Reuters reports that the title goes to a video game, "Grand Theft Auto V," which went on sale Sept. 17.

"The latest installment of 'GTA,' a cultural phenomenon that has sparked a national debate on adult content and violence, received strong reviews and racked up $800 million in first-day sales alone," the story reports. "That marked a launch-day record for the 'Grand Theft Auto' franchise, which is Take-Two's most lucrative and allows players to cruise around a make-believe gameworld based on real-life locations such as Los Angeles."

The game has been around for 16 years, but interest in the fifth version has been building since the releas of "Grand Theft Auto IV" in 2008, the piece notes.

"It took more than five years to be developed by Take-Two's Rockstar Games studio at a cost of between $200 million and $250 million, according to some analysts' estimates," Reuters reports. "Last year, it took Activision Blizzard Inc's first-person shooter title 'Call Of Duty: Black Ops II' 15 days to hit $1 billion in global sales after its November release. That game took in sales of $500 million on its first day."

The new game is currently available for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 platforms, which are owned by more than 160 million gamers, the report notes, adding: "Take-Two is yet to announce a version for the much-awaited next-generation Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles, which will go on sale in November."

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Veteran TV and Film Director Dies -- His 1971 Movie Became a Cult Classic

A director who paid his dues for years in television before unleashing a movie that became a cult classic has died. The New York Times reports that Richard C. Sarafian, director of the 1971 car chase movie "Vanishing Point," died Wednesday in Santa Monica, Calif., at 83.

Sarafian made his mark in television in the early 1960s, directing major series including "Maverick," "Dr. Kildare," "77 Sunset Strip," "The Big Valley," "I Spy" and "Gunsmoke." Soon after jumping to the big screen, he rolled out "Vanishing Point," which starred Barry Newman, Cleavon Little and Dean Jagger -- along with a souped-up Dodge Challenger that was prominently featured speeding past vistas of the American Southwest. The movie is revered in some circles for its social commentary, which is said to sum up the mood of the nation in the post-Woodstock period.

Sarafian later directed "The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing" (1973), starring Burt Reynolds, and "Sunburn" (1979), starring Farrah Fawcett, among a number of other feature films.

"He also directed one of the most fondly remembered episodes of 'The Twilight Zone': 'Living Doll,' the chilling tale of a demonic talking doll named Talky Tina who terrifies a man played by Telly Savalas," The Times reports. "That episode, first shown in 1963, also terrified children for decades -- including Mr. Sarafian’s own. Deran Sarafian said he thought the episode was 'the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen' before learning that his father had directed it."

Sarafian died of pneumonia, having contracted the illness while he was recovering from a fall, the story reports.

richard-c-sarafian.jpgRichard C. Sarafian

Check out the entertaining trailer for "Vanishing Point":

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Big Night for Emmys, Bigger Night for Football

Sunday was a good night for CBS in the Nielsen ratings, with viewership surging for the Emmy Awards ceremony. But it was an even better night for NBC, thanks to "Sunday Night Football."

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the Emmys delivered a 4.9 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, based on time-zone-adjusted Nielsen fast nationals. That's up from a 3.8 for the equivalent number a year ago, which was eventually adjusted up to a 3.9.

The Emmys also delivered 17.63 million total viewers, which CBS announced was the best number for the awards since 2005. The network added that the numbers were the best since 2006 in a number of demos, including adults 18-49, adults 25-54 and adults 18-34. The 2005 ceremony aired on CBS and did not go up against football, the network noted. The 2006 ceremony aired in August on NBC.

Compared with last year's results, Sunday's Emmy Awards ceremony was up 26% in adults 18-49 (4.9 average rating, up from a 3.9), 21% in adults 25-54 (5.8 average, up from 4.8), 50% in adults 18-34 (4.5 average, up from 3.0) and 33% in total viewers (17.63 million, up from 13.26 million), the network reported.

NBC, however, wound up as the top network in broadcast prime time Sunday night, with "Sunday Night Football" coverage of the Bears-Steelers game responsible for the bulk of it. The game came in with a preliminary 6.9 average rating, down from a preliminary 7.4 a week ago. Leading into the game, NBC filled out its prime-time lineup with "Football Night in America" pregame coverage.

The preliminary numbers are subject to more than the usual adjustments, due to the nature of live programming. But the way things look initially for prime time overall, NBC leads the way in the 18-49 demo with a 5.5 average rating, followed by CBS with a 4.8. The rest of the broadcast nets are far behind: Fox has a 1.1 average, followed by Univision (1.0) and ABC (0.6). ABC and Fox aired all-repeat programming.

CBS won the night in total viewers, averaging 16.3 million to lead NBC (15.2 million), ABC (3.3 million), Univision (2.8 million) and Fox (2.6 million).

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Apple's iPhone Launch Breaks Record -- Here Are the Numbers

The three-day launch of Apple's new iPhone 5S and 5C models was a record breaker, Forbes magazine reports. The rollout saw 9 million units sold, in what the publication calls "a record-breaking streak that will offer some much-needed assurances about Apple's ability to design new products."

Said Apple CEO Tim Cook: “This is our best iPhone launch yet -- more than nine million new iPhones sold -- a new record for first weekend sales. The demand for the new iPhones has been incredible, and while we’ve sold out of our initial supply of iPhone 5S, stores continue to receive new iPhone shipments regularly. We appreciate everyone’s patience and are working hard to build enough new iPhones for everyone.”

Forbes adds: "As thousands stood in long lines outside Apple stores, iPhone users eagerly switched to the new operating system. More than 200 million phones now use the redesigned software. Apple says it’s the fastest software upgrade in history."

The three-day sales figures put to rest the fears of some industry watchers.

"Observers had hoped Apple might offer numbers on the very first day, and when it did not, some worried the new phones had fallen flat," the story reports. "Instead, they greatly exceeded expectations. For example, Pipper Jaffray’s Gene Munster had forecast just 5 million in new sales."

The report adds: "The new iPhones come in the 5S model and the 5C. The iPhone 5S, sheathed in aluminum, has a faster processor and a new fingerprint scanner -- German hackers already say they’ve broken it -- and costs $200 with a contract. It’s available in a muted color range: silver, gold and dark gray. By contrast, the iPhone 5C costs less ($100 with a contract), sells in a variety of candy-colored shells and is aimed at foreign customers more accustomed to cheaper smartphones."

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Talk Show Tops Itself, Has Its Best Premiere Week in History

A talk show that has been a ratings juggernaut in daytime is off to its best start in history with its new season. The show is "Ellen," which delivered its best premiere week of all time for the week of Sept. 9, based on preliminary national data.

The show, which stars Ellen DeGeneres, notched a preliminary 2.6 average household rating for the week. That number tops its 2.5 for premiere week in the 2012-13 season -- which itself was up from a 2.3 for 2011-12 and a 2.1 for 2010-11.

The show's launch in 2003 delivered a 1.4 average for the week, and numbers have trended up since then.

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BlackBerry Strikes Deal to Sell Company for $4.7 Billion

Smartphone manufacturer BlackBerry announced today that it has struck a preliminary deal to sell the company for about $4.7 billion to a group led by one of its biggest shareholders, Fairfax Financial, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The move kicks off the process of trying to find better offers for the beleaguered company to take it private, the report notes.

"Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltrd., a Canadian insurance firm, signed a letter of intent with the BlackBerry board where it could pay $9 a share in cash for the BlackBerry shares not already held by Fairfax," the story reports. "The firm currently holds about 10% of BlackBerry's shares."

The report notes: "The deal is far from complete -- it is subject to six weeks of due diligence until Nov. 4, and BlackBerry is entitled to shop the company during this period. The Fairfax group still needs to raise financing for its potential deal."

Other parties reportedly remain interested in bidding for BlackBerry, but it was unclear how the announced agreement would affect their plans.

"Following the news BlackBerry's stock, which plunged 17% Friday after the company disclosed it had nearly $1 billion in unsold phones and would slash 40% of its workforce, rose about 1.2% to $8.83," WSJ notes.

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One Omission From Emmys Tributes Called 'Criminal' -- Veteran TV Actor's Son Speaks Out

The son of an actor who was a fixture on television for decades called his father's omission from the Emmy Awards tributes "criminal." The Associated Press reports that the comment was made by Adam Klugman, the son of "Quincy M.E." and "The Odd Couple" star Jack Klugman.

"I think it's criminal," said Adam Klugman told The AP. "My dad was at the inception of television and helped build it in the early days."

Jack Klugman, a three-time Emmy winner, died last December at age 90.

The Emmys producers announced ahead of Sunday's Primetime Emmys telecast that five individual memorials would be featured during the ceremony in addition to the traditional "in memoriam" segment that groups together figures from the TV industry who died during the past year.

Those honored individually during the ceremony were Cory Monteith of "Glee"; James Gandolfini of "The Sopranos"; Jean Stapleton of "All in the Family"; comedian and actor Jonathan Winters; and "Family Ties" producer Gary David Goldberg.

Klugman was included in the group remembrance, the story reports, citing an academy spokesman. Monteith, who died at 31, was the youngest of those singled out for tribute.

"It's an insult, and it really seems typical of this youth-centric culture that has an extremely short attention span and panders to only a very narrow demographic" of young adults, Adam Klugman told the AP.

Jack Klugman won an Emmy in 1964 for a performance on CBS's "The Defenders" before winning two more Emmys during the early 1970s for the ABC comedy series "The Odd Couple." He was nominated four times for "Quincy," but did not win for that series, which ran from 1976-1983 on NBC.

Klugman's other TV work included four appearances on "The Twilight Zone," along with a string of guest spots capped off by "Diagnosis: Murder," "Third Watch" and "Crossing Jordan."

Earlier in his career he focused on feature films, including performances in "12 Angry Men" in 1957 and "Cry Terror" in 1958.

jack-klugman.jpgJack Klugman

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Cable Drama Series Canceled

A basic cable network has made the decision to cancel a drama series. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that TNT canceled the Jon Tenney and Rebecca Romijn drama "King & Maxwell" after just one season.

The drama aired starting in June, and was part of TNT's summer lineup, the story notes. While it drew 3.5 million viewers for its premiere, that was considerably down from its lead-in, "Major Crimes." Over the course of its summer run, "King & Maxwell" drew an average of 3.1 million viewers.

"The series did not rank high in the cable network's big roster of summer launches that also included 'Falling Skies,'" the piece notes. Except for "Franklin & Bash," which remains on the bubble, all of TNT's other summer scripted originals have been picked up.

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'Breaking Bad' Breaks Through at Primetime Emmy Awards -- Here's the List of Winners

Big winners at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards included AMC drama series "Breaking Bad" -- which is wrapping up its run next week -- and the ABC comedy "Modern Family," as well as Liberace, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

HBO's "Behind the Candelabra," a film about the flamboyant pianist, was the biggest winner "in terms of sheer hardware," the story notes.

The biopic "won eight trophies last week at the Creative Arts Emmys, and three more Sunday night, including best miniseries or movie, director for Steven Soderbergh and lead actor in a movie or miniseries for Michael Douglas, who played Liberace," the piece reports.

Douglas drew laughs when he addressed his co-star Matt Damon, who played Liberace's lover in the movie.

"You really deserve half of this. So do you want the bottom or the top?” Douglas said from the stage.

Still, the Emmys ceremony had a somber tone, with five memorial moments devoted to actors who died during the past year, including "Sopranos" star James Gandolfini.

"Sopranos" co-star Edie Falco remembered Gandolfini with tears streaming down her face, saying, "He had tremendous warmth and heart.”

AMC's "Breaking Bad" won for outstanding drama series, while "Modern Family" won outstanding comedy series.

For "Breaking Bad," it was the show's first win in the top category, although it has been racking up acting trophies and other Emmy honors since 2008 -- including three consecutive wins, from 2008-2010, for Bryan Cranston as outstanding lead actor in a drama.

In this year's awards, "Breaking Bad's" Anna Gunn also won, for outstanding supporting actress in a drama series.

ABC's "Modern Family" has been one of the most honored programs in recent Emmys ceremonies, including winning outstanding comedy series for now four consecutive years.

Here is a list of the winners:

Drama Series: "Breaking Bad" (AMC)

Actor, Drama Series: Jeff Daniels, "The Newsroom" (HBO)

Actress, Drama Series: Claire Danes, "Homeland" (Showtime)

Supporting Actor, Drama Series: Bobby Cannavale, "Boardwalk Empire" (HBO)

Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Anna Gunn, "Breaking Bad" (AMC)

Directing, Drama Series: David Fincher, "House of Cards" (Netflix)

Writing, Drama Series: Henry Bromell, "Homeland" (Showtime)

Comedy Series: "Modern Family" (ABC)

Lead Actor, Comedy Series: Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory" (CBS)

Lead Actress, Comedy Series: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep," (HBO)

Supporting Actor, Comedy Series: Tony Hale, "Veep" (HBO)

Supporting Actress, Comedy Series: Merritt Wever, "Nurse Jackie" (Showtime)

Directing, Comedy Series: Gail Mancuso, "Modern Family" (ABC)

Writing, Comedy Series: Tina Fey and Tracey Wigfield, "30 Rock" (NBC)

Miniseries or Movie: "Behind the Candelabra" (HBO)

Lead Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Michael Douglas, "Behind the Candelabra" (HBO)

Lead Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Laura Linney, "The Big C: Hereafter" (Showtime)

Supporting Actor, Miniseries or Movie: James Cromwell, "American Horror Story: Asylum" (FX)

Supporting Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Ellen Burstyn, "Political Animals" (USA)

Directing, Miniseries or Movie: Steven Soderbergh, "Behind the Candelabra" (HBO)

Writing, Miniseries or Movie: Abi Morgan, "The Hour" (BBC America)

Reality-Competition Program: "The Voice" (NBC)

Variety Series: "The Colbert Report" (Comedy Central)

Writing, Variety Series: "The Colbert Report" (Comedy Central)

Directing, Variety Series: Don Roy King, "Saturday Night Live" (NBC)

Choreography: Derek Hough, "Dancing With the Stars" (ABC)

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One of the World's Best-Known Rockers to Become a Great-Grandfather

One of the most famous rock 'n' rollers is about to become a great-grandfather. The New York Post reports that the granddaughter of Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger is expecting a baby.

The Stones marked the group's 50th anniversary in 2012, and have been touring extensively in recent years. Jagger's 21-year-old granddaughter, Assisi, has a baby due next year with her boyfriend, the story says.

Assisi is the daughter of Jade Jagger, 42, who is the daughter of Mick and Bianca Jagger.

Mick Jagger hosted the season finale of "Saturday Night Live" in 2012. The Stones launched their "50 & Counting" tour in November 2012, with the tour spanning the U.S. and concluding with two performances in July in London's Hyde Park.

Thumbnail image for mick-jagger.jpgMick Jagger

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Report: Former Reality Star Fires Gun in Encounter With Photographer

A former reality star reportedly pulled a gun during an encounter with a photographer, firing a shot to scare her away, reports TMZ.com.

The photographer reportedly followed Jon Gosselin from his waiter's job in Beckersville, Pa., to his home, trying to get some snapshots of where he lives. She apparently followed him off the main roads and onto a dirt road, assuming it was a public road.

The photographer reportedly declined to file a complaint against Gosselin after she was told by authorities that she could be charged with criminal trespass. TMZ reported separately that Gosselin said he won't press charges against the photographer in connection with her alleged trespassing.

Gosselin received media attention last week following a report that he is waiting tables at the Black Dog restaurant in Beckersville. He said he found it almost impossible to get back into the work force after his starring role on "Jon & Kate Plus 8," and his messy 2009 divorce.

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Canceled Cable Series Could Become a Movie

A drama series that just aired its last episode may be resurrected as a movie. Deadline.com reports that a movie version of "Copper," which aired the series finale Sunday on BBC America, is in consderation.

Co-creator and executive producer Tom Fontana and executive producers Barry Levinson and Tom Kelly are mulling a movie version of the show, the piece reports.

"The extensive story arc work Fontana did on a third season has the veteran producer eyeing revamping the material for a movie, sources say, with the potential big-screen version said to look at examining life in America after the death of Abraham Lincoln and the years of Reconstruction," the story reports.

As previously reported, BBC America canceled the show, which was the network's highest-rated drama when it was renewed last fall for a second season. The series lost momentum after the start of its second season.

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Digital Buzz for New Fall Shows: One Series Is Off the Charts

One upcoming fall broadcast series is blowing away its rivals in terms of online buzz. Whether the buzz will translate into TV success remains to be seen, but Deadline.com reports that ABC's "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." has surpassed 1 million Facebook fans -- believed to be a record for a new show ahead of its premiere.

In general the new fall shows with the biggest Facebook followings are those that are offshoots or expansions of pre-existing franchises, which may help explain why networks are eager to cultivate such programs.

The CW's "The Originals," a spinoff of "The Vampire Diaries," is the second most popular new series on Facebook, with more than 500,000 fans, Deadline reports. The third most popular new show on Facebook is ABC's "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland," an offshoot of "Once." The latter has just under 500,000 fans.

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Countdown to 'Breaking Bad' Finale: AMC Will Run a Marathon of the Complete Series

AMC will run a "Breaking Bad" marathon leading up to the show's final episode, televising every episode of the show before the finale airs Sept. 29, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

"This will come as especially good news for people who have been curious to be part of the show's finale but aren't Netflix subscribers. The first 4 1/2 seasons are available for binge-watching there," the piece notes.

The marathon will start at 8 p.m. Wednesday night and continue through late Friday night, where it will air the conclusion of season 4. It will then pick up again at 11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, with the fifth season. The last section of the marathon will lead up to the first airing of the show's final episode at 9 p.m. Sunday, the story says.

"Breaking Bad" won the Emmy Sunday night for outstanding drama series, as we reported separately.

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HBO Orders Dark Comedy From Jerry Weintraub

HBO is moving forward with a project from Jerry Weintraub, described as a dark comedy about a geopolitical crisis. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the pay-cable channel gave a pilot order to "The Bring," from Weintraub, Jay Roach and "Weeds" executive producer Roberto Benabib.

The project focuses on how the crisis affects three different men: the U.S. Secretary of State, a foreign service officer and a Navy fighter pilot.

Benabib and his brother, Kim Benabib, will write the script. Roach, who is under a two-year overall deal at HBO, recently directed and executive produced the TV movies "Game Change" and "Recount."

Weintraub, the former chairman and CEO of United Artists, is known for producing a string of hit films, including "Nashville," "Diner" and "The Karate Kid," along with the remake of "Ocean's Eleven" and its sequels.

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NBC Developing Comedy From 'Community' Actor

An actor from NBC's comedy series "Community" has landed a multicamera comedy at the network with a significant penalty, Deadline.com reports. The project, from Ken Jeong, is based on the actor's life before he went into comedy, the piece reports.

Called "Dr. Ken," the project will be about Jeong's background as a licensed physician. Jared Stern, a feature comedy writer from "The Internship," is writing the project, which comes from "Community" producer Sony Pictures TV and the studio-based Davis Entertainment.

Jeong is a regular on "Community," whose fifth season may be its last, the report notes. The story adds that if the NBC comedy does continue, "Things could be worked out as both shows are with NBC and Sony TV."

Besides "Community," Jeong is known for his performances in "The Hangover" movies.

Ken-Jeong.jpgKen Jeong

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Fox Slates Special Focused on Travel Channel Personality

Fox has ordered a reality special that will feature magic tricks performed on athletes and celebrities. Deadline.com reports that the special, already in production under the working title "Unreal," stars magician JB Benn.

Benn hosts the Travel Channel series "Magic Man" and was featured in the 2004 A&E documentary series "Mondo Magic with JB Benn and Chris Korn."

Here's a look at Benn plying his trade:

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'Downton Abbey' Breaks U.K. Viewership Record

"Downton Abbey" returned to British airwaves with its fourth season Sunday night, drawing a record number of viewers, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The fourth-season premiere drew an average of 9.5 million viewers, marking the historical drama's best-ever season debut, the piece notes.

The third-season premiere drew 9 million viewers, with fans tuning in to watch Shirley MacLaine's character encounter Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess.

The show's fourth season will debut in the U.S. in January.

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Cable Network President Steps Down

The president of one of the top basic cable networks is leaving his post. B&C reports that the head of the family-oriented and teen-focused ABC Family, part of the Disney-ABC Television Group, is headed out. Michael Riley will remain on the job while the channel searches for his replacement.

The cable channel announced Riley's exit today, indicating he is leaving to explore the possibility of a position with a more international focus.

Said Anne Sweeney, co-chairman, Disney Media Networks, and president, Disney/ABC TV Group: "Michael has been a great leader over the past six years at Radio Disney and ABC Family, and his contributions will be felt for years to come. While we understand and support his decision to leave, it will be sad to see him go. We wish him the best of luck on his next adventure."

Riley has held the ABC Family post since 2010, and has been with The Walt Disney Co. for six years.

The report adds: "Riley leaves ABC Family as it's coming off a strong summer, having launched the top new cable TV series of the summer 'The Fosters,' and with the network ranking first in prime time among women 18-34. He is the second Disney-ABC executive to depart on Friday, following news that ABC reality chief John Saade was exiting that network."

michael-riley2.pngMichael Riley

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Will the Creative Arts Emmys, With That Hated 45-Second Rule, Change The Game for Future Awards?

With the Creative Arts Emmy Awards stirring up a hornet's nest of dissent among participants over its strictly enforced 45-second rule, as previously reported, will there be fallout for future awards shows?

TVWeek Open Mic writer Hillary Atkin ponders that question -- especially one major possible (but not likely) wardrobe change -- as she revisits the Creative Arts Emmys ceremony.

Please click here to read her look back on the Creative Arts Emmy Awards as you gear up for this weekend's main event -- the Primetime Emmys.

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Thursday Ratings: The Clock Runs Out on 'Million Second Quiz'

NBC aired the final installment of its splashy but ratings-challenged game show "The Million Second Quiz" -- at least for now -- Thursday night, seeing a bump in its Nielsen numbers for the finale, based on overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the two-hour finale delivered a 1.4 average rating in viewers 18-49, up 27% from last week's number. Leading out from it, NBC's "Valerie's Story: A Meredith Vieira Special" settled for a 1.0.

CBS won the night with a lineup of repeats, highlighted by a 2.2 and a 2.1 for two episodes of "The Big Bang Theory."

Second-place Fox saw "The X Factor" fall to a series low in the 18-49 demo, a 1.9 -- down 14% from last week's two-hour installment.

ABC's only fresh program in prime time was a one-hour "Wipeout," which ticked up 9% from the two-hour episode aired Sept. 5, delivering a 1.2 average in 18-49.

The report notes that simulcasts of the Thursday Night Football game in some cities mean that numbers on ABC and NBC may be inflated and are subject to more than the usual adjustments.

For prime time overall, CBS won the night with a 1.6 average rating in viewers 18-49, followed by Fox (1.5 average), NBC (1.3), ABC (1.3) and Univision (1.2). CBS also won total viewers, averaging 6.7 million to lead NBC (5.1 million), ABC (4.5 million), Fox (4.5 million) and Univision (3.1 million).

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus Says She Was 'Miserable' in One of Her Past TV Roles

Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, speaking at a recent SiriusXM Town Hall, admitted she was "pretty miserable" when she was on "Saturday Night Live," reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Louis-Dreyfus, who was cast at age 21, said she "did not adapt well" to the show. That's because she said she was used to the friendly environment of improv, while "SNL" was a “very dog-eat-dog” place when she was on the show in the early 1980s.

"Plus, there were a lot of drugs, and I didn’t realize everybody was on drugs,” she said.

Louis-Dreyfus was on the NBC sketch comedy show from 1982-1985, before going on to the role that made her a household name, playing Elaine on "Seinfeld." While she was at "SNL," Louis-Dreyfus befriended Larry David, who later gave her the "Seinfeld" job.

“Larry was there my third year,” she said. “He never got a sketch on the air. We sort of became friends because we identified with each other’s misery.”

Louis-Dreyfus played Elaine for nine seasons, as "Seinfeld" established itself as one of the most successful -- and most revered -- shows in TV history. After "Seinfeld" ended its run in 1998, she starred in the short-lived NBC sitcom "Watching Ellie."

Louis-Dreyfus has guested on a number of TV shows (including David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm") and starred in the CBS sitcom "The New Adventures of Old Christine" and HBO's "Veep," winning Emmys for her work on "Christine" and "Veep" -- to add to her Emmy for "Seinfeld."

julia-louis-dreyfus.jpgJulia Louis-Dreyfus

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High-Profile Cable Drama Canceled

A drama series that has been one of the most high-profile shows on its cable network has been canceled. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that BBC America canceled the series "Copper," which departed from the network's usual path of airing shows that originated on the U.K.'s BBC or co-productions,

The drama, which won't return for a third season, tells the American story of a 19th century New York City police officer. It was the network's highest-rated drama when it was renewed last fall for a second season, the piece notes.

But since then, BBC America's new science-fiction thriller "Orphan Black" has surpassed the historical drama. "Copper's" second season will end Sunday night.

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Disney Breaking Up With Bruckheimer in Wake of 'Lone Ranger' Disaster

Disney and veteran film and TV producer Jerry Bruckheimer are going their separate ways. They announced Thursday that they will not renew their first-look deal, which expires next year, the New York Daily News reports.

Bruckheimer, the producer of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies, "will branch out in 2014. Speculation has arisen that 'Lone Ranger's' terrible box-office performance was a factor in the decision," the story reports.

Bruckheimer is behind a string of popular TV shows including the "CSI" franchise, "Without a Trace," "Cold Case" and "The Amazing Race," along with hit movies including "Beverly Hills Cop," "Top Gun" and "Flashdance," not to mention the "Pirates" movies.

"Bruckheimer’s most recent movie for Disney, ‘The Lone Ranger,’ is considered the biggest box-office flop of 2013 and may have been a factor in the decision to part ways next year," the story reports.

Bruckheimer told The Hollywood Reporter: “It's time for us to tackle all kinds of movies, not just Disney movies. We're still working on 'Pirates' and hopefully 'National Treasure,' and we still have development at Disney."

The Daily News report adds: "Hollywood’s pre-eminent producer of tentpoles denied that the impending split was sparked by the huge disappointment of his last project with Disney -- the box-office flop 'The Lone Ranger.' Disney told analysts last month that the studio is anticipating a loss of between $160 million and $190 million for the movie."

The piece notes that with Disney acquiring Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, it has other sources to turn to for its next blockbuster.

"But overall, there’s no doubt that the Bruckheimer business has been good for the studio," the report adds. "Besides the 'Pirates' movies and 'National Treasure,' the producer also brought blockbusters 'Con Air' and 'Armaggedon' through the studio’s now-defunct Touchstone banner."

The breakup reportedly will not affect the fifth “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie, although the Daily News notes that the project was recenly moved back from its original summer 2015 release date, reportedly because of issues involving the script.

jerry-bruckheimer.pngJerry Bruckheimer

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Johnny Carson Returns to NBC -- in Prime Time This Time

NBC's late-night king for three decades, Johnny Carson, is returning to the network -- but this time he will be on in prime time. The New York Times reports that the network is working on an ambitious biographical miniseries about the former "Tonight Show" host.

Neither the timing nor the casting of Carson was announced, the story says.

"The Carson miniseries will be based on a long-awaited biography of the late-night star by Bill Zehme, who also will serve as an executive producer on the show. His book, 'Carson the Magnificent: An Intimate Portrait,' is to be published by Simon & Schuster, although its publication has been delayed several times," the piece adds.

johnny-carson.jpgJohnny Carson

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Veteran Game Show Host Gets Political With Twitter Rants

In the "what have they been up to lately" category, a veteran game show host is revealing a different aspect of himself these days. Original "Wheel of Fortune" host Chuck Woolery has been letting loose on Twitter with outspoken political views, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

"At age 72, the conservative game show host has become a prolific tweeter, with more than 67,000 followers. Unlike most celebrities, he's also not afraid to lay out his political views. Again and again and again," the story notes.

His comments include views such as, "Progressives argument is Obamacare is the law of the land. My response. So what. We can fix that."

The Times piece comments: "Wow, do the people at Fox News know about this guy? He may be a little crinkly around the corners of his eyes, but mealy-mouthed he is not."

Woolery was a TV fixture for decades, with hosting jobs on "Love Connection," "Scrabble" and other shows.

chuck-woolery-wheel-of-fortune.jpgChuck Woolery in his "Wheel of Fortune" days

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NBC's 'Million Second Quiz' Took Personal Information From 300,000 People

NBC gathered personal information from 300,000 people who answered a question about "the most important relationships in your life" via the show's app, reports TheWrap.com.

More than 300,000 people played online and answered questions about their personal lives in an effort to get on the show, the story says.

"NBC says it is not sharing the information with advertisers, who want to tailor their messages as specifically as possible, but may use it to help decide what kinds of shows and ads to offer," the article notes.

Would-be contestants were asked questions about their education, cell phone providers, which clubs they belonged to and whether they owned a lucky charm, among other queries, the story says.

"We don’t need to do anything with it because it’s obviously sensitive data, but we got a really good insight into the kinds of people who would use these kinds of goods and services,” Paul Telegdy, NBC’s president of alternative and late-night programming, told the publication.

The network didn't dupe anyone into providing the information, given that the applicants were trying to get on TV and would have likely made the information public. But participants might not have been aware that NBC could mine the data to get insights into their habits, the story notes.

"They may be surprised that not only does the company hold onto the information, but they’re using it for other purposes,” Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told the publication. “That’s a privacy issue even for people willing to disclose a lot of personal information.”

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New Steven Bochco Drama Gets Series Order

A new drama series from Steven Bochco ("Hill Street Blues," "L.A. Law") is a go. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that TNT has given a 10-episode order to "Murder in the First," which stars Taye Diggs and Kathleen Robertson.

Bochco wrote the pilot with co-creator Eric Lodal, with both men also executive producing.

The drama provides a look at the modern justice system by examining two murder cases that don't appear to be related, the story says.

Diggs will portray a homicide detective whose wife is terminally ill, while Robertson will play his partner, a single mom who understands her partner is going through a tough time. Both actors received multiple pilot offers, the piece notes.

The project is one of four new scripted dramas that have been ordered by TNT, following Frank Darabont's "Mob City," Michael Bay's "The Last Ship" and Howard Gordon's "Legends."

"Murder in the First" will debut in summer 2014.

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After Years in Development, HBO Pulls Plug on Cold War Spy Drama

HBO has rejected a spy drama that has been in the works at the pay-cable channel for years. Deadline.com reports that the network passed on the Cold War drama "The Missionary," which counted New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell as one of its producers.

The drama also included Mark Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson of "Boardwalk Empire" as its producers, and was written by Charles Randolph and directed by Baltasar Kormakur. The project was set in late 1960s Berlin.

As we reported back in 2010, Gladwell and Randolph had been working on a spy project when they joined with Wahlberg and Levinson, taking the joint project to HBO.

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Seth Meyers Series Gets a Second Season

A show from "Saturday Night Live" veteran Seth Meyers has received an order for a second season from Hulu, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker. The show is the animated series "The Awesomes."

Meyers co-created the show and provides the voice of Dr. Jeremy "Prock" Awesome, who leads a group of new superheroes who are replacing an older generation.

The show debuted in August and has been a hit, often included among the site's 10-most-watched shows list. The season finale for the first season will stream starting on Sept. 26.

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NBC Developing Drama Based on Graphic Novel Series

NBC has a drama project in development that's based on a series of graphic novels. Deadline.com reports that the project is based on the "Ghost Projekt" books, which are written by Joe Harris and illustrated by Steve Rolston.

The TV project will be written by John Glenn and feature writer and director Andre Ovredal of "Troll Hunter," with Ovredal also directing the pilot.

The project is about an American U.N. weapons inspector who teams up with a Russian agent to stop a group of thieves from spreading a dangerous supernatural material pilfered from an old Soviet lab, the piece reports.

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CMT Renews Unscripted Series

CMT has picked up an unscripted series for a new season. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the cable channel will bring back the dating series "Sweet Home Alabama" for a fourth season.

Season four will debut Friday, Nov. 8, at 9 p.m., with production already starting this week in Alabama, the story notes. The dating series will return with 11 men from the city and 11 men from the country trying to woo Kelsey, who is described as a Southern belle.

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How Much Do Americans Hate the Media?

Ho much do Americans hate the media? The Huffington Post, citing a poll from Gallup, reports that the venom has subsided just a little since last year.

Americans' distrust of the media reached an all-time high in 2012, with only 40% of respondents saying they could trust the press, the story says.

This year, that number has improved to 44%, the story says.

"Yes, 55 percent of people are still suspicious of the media. Those are bad numbers," the piece notes.

"This year's bump in confidence comes mainly from independents and Republicans, after these groups' trust in the media dropped last year amid a heated presidential election race in which Mitt Romney supporters may have felt their candidate was being treated unfairly," Gallup said.

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NFL Demanding $1.5 Million From Rapper Who 'Flipped the Bird' During Super Bowl Halftime Performance

As millions of us recall, the English-Sri Lankan rapper-singer M.I.A. "extended her middle finger during a performance of 'Give Me All Your Luvin' ' while mouthing, 'I don't give a shit,' " during a halftime performance at the 2012 Super Bowl, reports The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood Esq., noting that the NFL has filed suit against M.I.A. for displaying the gesture. (You can see the moment in the video clip below.)

The NFL is looking for $1.5 million in damages for what the league says in the lawsuit was an "offensive gesture … in flagrant disregard for the values that form the cornerstone of the NFL brand and the Super Bowl."

The story adds that M.I.A.'s attorney, Howard King, is fighting the suit, saying, "Of course, the NFL's claimed reputation for wholesomeness is hilarious in light of the weekly felonies committed by its stars, the bounties placed by coaches on opposing players, the homophobic and racist comments uttered by its players, the complete disregard for the health of players and the premature deaths that have resulted from same, and the raping of public entities ready to sacrifice public funds to attract teams."

The story continues: "The NFL makes the argument [in its lawsuit] that M.I.A. intentionally breached her agreement [to perform at the Super Bowl] with her gesture and says that if there's any doubts about her obligations under the contract, 'M.I.A., as a member of the public and a noted member of the music entertainment industry, was unquestionably aware of the adverse consequences sustained by the NFL, and the public outcry provoked, by the Janet Jackson 'wardrobe malfunction' during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXVIII.'

"King argues that the NFL's damage claim is ludicrous and that the FCC and the network that aired the gesture haven't cried foul. 'The statute of limitations has run on the FCC and NBC,' he says. '[They] will never assert a claim. Not only does NBC do hundreds of millions of dollars of business with the NFL, but NBC had a seven-second delay for the halftime show; either the operator fell asleep or the gesture was so fleeting he never saw it. In fact, no one would have seen it but for the advent of DVRs and the ability to freeze frame.'

The THR piece gives King the last word: "King adds, 'We encourage people to submit their examples of how the actions of the NFL, its stars, coaches, advertisers, broadcasters, team doctors and owners have damaged or destroyed any vestiges of any reputation for wholesomeness ever enjoyed by the NFL. These submissions, which we plan to use to bolster M.I.A's defense, will help balance the playing field, as they very well could eliminate the burden of undertaking a formal survey of the history of unwholesome behavior, can be made to the M.I.A defense team by email to NFL@khpblaw.com.' "

Here's the video of the offensive finger:

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CBS Reinvents Saturday Mornings, Rolls Out All-New Programming Lineup

CBS is reinventing its Saturday morning programming, rolling out a lineup of new shows accompanied by a catchy tagline: "The CBS Dream Team, It's Epic!"

The new lineup consists of six all-new half-hour FCC Educational/Informational-compliant programs aimed at viewers age 13 to 16, the network announced. The block launches on CBS Sept. 28.

The new shows are "Lucky Dog," "Dr. Chris Pet Vet," "Recipe Rehab," "Jamie Oliver's 15 Minute Meals," "All In with Laila Ali" and "Game Changers with Kevin Frazier."

Please click here to see program descriptions and the full press release from CBS.

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How to Tell the 'Homeland' People From the CIA at the Showtime Drama's D.C. Premiere

Showtime's "Homeland" chose Washington, D.C., where much of the action takes place in the hit drama series, as the site for its third-season premiere -- a choice that had cast members and producers from the show mingling with Beltway insiders and the CIA.

So how does a TV writer tell apart behind-the-scenes TV folk from secret Washington operatives? TVWeek Open Mic writer Hillary Atkin was on hand and quickly figured out the trick. Please click here to read her report.

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What's the Worst Scripted Program of 2013? Worst Actor and Actress? Website Names the 'Winners'

An Olympic athlete was among the big "winners" as some of the worst programs and performers on prime-time TV were presented with the not-so-coveted Golden Trashcan.

Swimmer Ryan Lochte won two "Bennie Awards," handed out by the Hollywood Temp Diaries website. Lochte was named worst reality personality, male, and his E! show, "What Would Ryan Lochte Do?," received the prize for worst reality program.

Katharine McPhee of NBC's "Smash" was named worst actress, with Angus T. Jones of the CBS comedy "Two and a Half Men" cited as worst actor.

The prize for worst scripted program went to CBS's "2 Broke Girls." Worst reality performer, female, went to June Shannon of TLC's "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo."

Please click here to see the rest of the results and read the press release from the Hollywood Temp Diaries.

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CBS's Season Premiere/Season Finale Lineup Wins Wednesday Night

CBS wrapped up one major reality franchise's summer season and launched another one's fall season Wednesday night, winning the prime-time broadcast ratings in the process, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the 90-minute opener of "Survivor," while down 19% from the premiere a year ago, had enough draw to eke out the title of top broadcast show of the night, delivering a 2.6 average in viewers 18-49. The finale of "Big Brother," also 90 minutes, wasn't far behind, averaging a 2.4 -- 4% off from the previous season finale.

Both programs had plenty of reality competition on other broadcast nets. NBC's two-hour "America's Got Talent" continued to flex its ratings muscle, rising 14% from last week to a 2.5 average in 18-49. NBC also aired another installment of "The Million Second Quiz," settling for a 1.2 average -- 8% below last week's Wednesday number.

Fox's two-hour "X Factor" remained competitive as well, matching the 2.2 average delivered by last week's premiere in adults 18-49.

ABC went with an all-repeat lineup in Wednesday prime and finished well off the pace of its big four rivals.

The numbers for prime time overall show CBS on top with a 2.5 average in the 18-49 demo, followed by Fox (2.2 average), NBC (2.0), Univision (1.3) and ABC (1.0). NBC moves to the top in total viewers with an average of 9.2 million, followed by CBS (8.1 million), Fox (6.6 million), ABC (3.5 million) and Univision (3.4 million).

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ABC Wins Battle for New Comedy

ABC has prevailed in what's being reported as a "competitive situation," landing a new comedy project from one of the creators of "The New Normal," Deadline.com reports.

The network bought the single-camera comedy from Ali Adler, the co-creator of NBC's "The New Normal." The comedy will be produced by ABC Studios and Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage's studio-based Fake Empire, the story says.

The project, written by Adler, is a divorce comedy that looks at how people behave when the other parent has the kids.

"You get to drink too much and binge-watch 'Breaking Bad' without checking homework or giving baths -- it’s about the silver lining of divorce," the story notes.

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Stars of TV's Highest-Rated Sitcom Angling for Raises -- Reportedly Looking to More Than Triple Their Current Pay

The stars of broadcast television's top-rated comedy are maneuvering to pump up their paychecks. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that "The Big Bang Theory's" Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco are all looking for big raises for their work on the CBS hit.

Their negotiations come after co-stars Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch signed new deals with Warner Bros. Television, getting raises and long-term commitments, the story notes.

"Sources tell THR that Emmy winner Parsons (Sheldon), Galecki (Leonard) and Cuoco (Penny) will negotiate together -- as they did in 2010 -- and are looking for a considerable bump in pay from their current deal," the story reports. "According to a TV Guide Magazine report, the trio currently earns $325,000 per episode and may seek up to $1 million an episode."

Actors Simon Helberg (Howard) and Kunal Nayyar (Raj) are also said to be renegotiating together, and are also seeking higher pay, the story says.

Warner Bros. TV declined to comment, the piece adds.

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Cops Shut Down TV Show Production After Gun Battle Gets a Little Too Real

The police shut down production of a major drama series after receiving calls from area residents about a gun battle -- a scripted scene for the show that apparently was a little too realistic.

TMZ.com reports that the New York Police Department halted the shoot Wednesday for the CBS show "Person of Interest."

"According to witnesses ... some NYC residents saw people with guns near 47th Street and 5th Avenue [Wednesday], and believed they were about to get caught in a shootout," TMZ reports. "We're told officers (real ones) responded ... and discovered the action was all part of the TV crime drama -- and the firearms were just props, but producers were still guilty of a major no-no.

"All gun scenes are supposed to be filmed with NYPD supervisors on the set -- and since this wasn't, cops shut down all outdoor production."

The show's permit was revoked, according to the Mayor's Office.

The TMZ report adds: "Sources connected to the production company tell us the whole mess was a 'scheduling error' -- they started shooting earlier than planned ... before NYPD monitors arrived. We're told no shots were fired."

Indoor shooting for the program continued, the piece notes, and outdoor shooting was expected to resume quickly.

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Producer Behind Long-Running Documentary Series Jumps to HBO

A veteran TV documentary producer described as "one of the most prolific and honored filmmakers in television" is moving to HBO, The New York Times reports.

Susan Lacy, the creator and executive producer of the long-running PBS series "American Masters," is making the move, Bill Carter reports in The Times.

“It was not an easy decision to make,” Lacy told the paper. “But this was a wonderful opportunity for me to continue to make films.”

Lacy, who created "American Masters" in 1986, has a multiyear deal with HBO to produce and direct documentary films for the pay-TV network. She will create a biographical series for its documentary unit, which is headed by Sheila Nevins.

One aspect of working for PBS won't be missed, she told The Times: Financing was often inadequate, and she herself often had to "find money to supplement the funding for each film,” she said.

HBO's deep pockets were "a big draw in taking this job," Lacy said.

susan-lacy.jpgSusan Lacy

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Non-TV Story of the Day: Don't Move to One of These Cities If You Have Allergies

If you're suffering with sniffles and itchy eyes, it probably has a lot to do with where you live. That's not exactly a revelation, but a new report out this week from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America gets specific, listing the 10 worst cities in the U.S. for allergy sufferers.

The worst city: Wichita, Kan., which came in at No. 1 in the 2013 Fall Allergy Capitals report.

"The report compares the most challenging U.S. cities to live in for people with fall allergies," USA Today reports. "The primary allergy trigger this fall will be ragweed pollen, says the not-for-profit organization, based in Landover, Md. It says outdoor mold also will be a problem because it continues to grow and is likely to be spread by fall weather and wind patterns."

The report examines the top 100 metro areas in the continental U.S. based on population concentration stats. "The ranking is based on pollen scores, number of allergy medications used per patient, and number of board-certified allergists per patient," USA Today notes. "The report was sponsored by Dymista, a prescription nasal spray for relief of allergy symptoms."

Mike Tringale, VP of external affairs for AAFA, says the worst cities are "places where ragweed thrives. ... In addition, there is some crossover -- some grasses are still pollinating."

Tringale adds: "Ragweed grows in urban areas, such as in cracks in sidewalks, along sides of roads and on roofs of buildings."

A couple of big cities appear to be getting worse. Dallas moved up from No. 26 on last year's list to No. 18 this fall, and Detroit rose nine spots to No. 19, the story notes.

Here are the 10 worst cities for fall allergies, according to the new report:

1. Wichita, Kan.
2. Jackson, Miss.
3. Knoxville, Tenn.
4. Louisville, Ky.
5. Memphis, Tenn.
6. McAllen, Texas
7. Baton Rouge, La.
8. Dayton, Ohio
9. Chattanooga, Tenn.
10. Oklahoma City, Okla.

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Superhero's Girlfriend Is Focus of New TV Project From Marvel

While Marvel is known for its secrecy about development plans, the company is reportedly working on a concept for a television series inspired by the short film "Agent Carter," Nellie Andreeva reports at Deadline.com.

The short, which will be included on the Blu-ray release of "Iron Man 3," was directed by Marvel Studios co-President Louis D'Esposito, and stars Hayley Atwell as Captain America's girlfriend, Peggy Carter.

The film looks at her life as a secret agent after her superhero boyfriend is frozen in ice.

"I hear the project is in very early stages, one of several in the works at Marvel, and is in the process of locking in a writer. It is unclear if Atwell would reprise her role if 'Agent Carter' comes to fruition," Andreeva writes.

The project could become a series for ABC, which would fit into the network's schedule of female-skewing dramas, the story notes.

Here's a little bit of Agent Carter in action, from the Blu-ray, which comes out Sept. 24:

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Was 'Wheel of Fortune' Contestant Robbed? Lips Get in the Way of a Shot at $1 Million (Here's the Clip)

On the long-running syndicated game show "Wheel of Fortune," spelling isn't the only requirement for winning, as one contestant learned the hard way. Today.com reports that the incident underscored the point that mispronunciation will also disqualify an answer.

A contestant named Paul had landed on the wheel's small million-dollar wedge and was trying to solve the puzzle, whose solution was "corner curio cabinet." But instead, he said, "Corno curo cabinet," the story says.

The show ruled the answer was incorrect, and disqualified him from his shot at the $1 million prize. The next player correctly enunciated the answer, the story adds.

"Well, it's one of those ... it just didn't come out the way you intended it to!" host Pat Sajak told Paul. "Paul, you've proved what several players have proven and I prove almost on a nightly basis: Sometimes your mouth says what your brain doesn't intend for it to."

Had he got the answer right, Paul still faced a few more steps to reach the $1 million prize, the report notes. For his part, Paul took his misstep in stride, later demonstrating that he could correctly pronounce the word "corner" and quipping: "You just have to say words, actual words, Pat!"

Check it out:

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'Morning Joe' Has a New Caffeine Fix

The longtime partnership between MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and a popular coffee brand is over. MSNBC confirmed that Starbucks' sponsorship of the morning news staple ended several weeks ago, BuzzFeed reports.

The "brewed by Starbucks" tagline that had been featured on the show since 2009 stopped appearing at the end of August. Then an orange straw -- a sign of a Dunkin' Donuts drink -- appeared in host Joe Scarborough's iced drink, while an actual Dunkin' Donuts coffee cup appeared next to host Mika Brzezinski, the story notes.

"MSNBC and Starbucks had a successful partnership for more than four years and we’re looking forward to working on new projects together in the future," a network representative said.

Mediaite notes that there was no indication of what caused Starbucks to end its sponsorship. "The partnership had been renewed in March of 2011, and included not just on-air endorsements, but Scarborough’s own blend of coffee, 'Gold Coast,'" the Mediaite report adds.

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Alert for 'Breaking Bad' Fans: Adjust Your DVRs

The final two episodes of AMC's "Breaking Bad" will break from their normal run time. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that each episode will run 15 minutes longer than usual, which will require some advance planning for people who DVR the show.

The longer episodes were announced Wednesday via Twitter by co-executive producer Peter Gould.

"I checked & it's official. Last 2 #BreakingBadeps are 75 minutes each w/commercials. Set your DVRS accordingly. Better still, watch live!" he wrote.

The next-to-last episode, set for this Sunday, will air at the same time as the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards, in which the drama series is up for six awards, the piece notes.

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TV Station Apologizes to Julie Chen for Its Role in Her 'Asian Eyes' Story

A television station in Ohio has apologized to "The Talk" co-host Julie Chen, who recently revealed that she had surgery on her eyes early in her career, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

Chen's recounting of her story indicated that the surgery was prompted in part by a news director at the station who told Chen her appearance would get in the way of opportunities at the station. As previously reported, Chen said on "The Talk" that the news director of the Dayton, Ohio, station told her she would never be on the anchor desk because of her "Asian eyes."

Chen said she later had plastic surgery to make her eyes look bigger.

"We are sorry to hear about what happened to CBS' Julie Chen in 1995 when she was a reporter at WDTN-TV," Joe Abouzeid, WDTN and WBDT president and general manager, said in a statement. "The station was under different management and ownership during that time. At WDTN and WBDT, we don’t tolerate racism or discrimination of any kind."

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What's Former Reality Star Jon Gosselin Doing Now? Hint: He's Getting a Lot of 'Are You the Guy ...?'

Former reality star Jon Gosselin has come a long way -- some would say a long way down -- from when he was riding high as one of the stars of a top-rated TV show. ET Online reports that Gosselin's new job is waiting tables at the Black Dog restaurant in Beckersville, Pa.

His current gig comes only a few years after his run on the top-rated TLC reality show "Jon & Kate Plus 8," which became "Kate Plus 8" for its final two seasons before ending its run in 2011. Jon and Kate Gosselin went through a messy divorce in 2009.

After the couple divorced and the show wrapped, Gosselin said he found it almost impossible to get back into the work force.

"At first I was nervous because I was like, 'How are people going to react?'" Jon said about his waitering job. "But then I'm thinking, 'Well it's fun and I get to talk to people.' And they technically already know me … they're like 'Are you the guy?' I'm like, 'Yeah, I'm the guy.'"

Gosselin, who lived in a $1.3 million home when he and Kate were featured on the show, now lives in a cabin in the wilderness, the story reports. He said he doesn't have an Internet connection or television, and he lives on his restaurant earnings, the piece adds.

jon-gosselin.jpgJon Gosselin

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'Queer Eye' Stars Reunite for Bravo Special

The five stars of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" are set for a reunion on a new Bravo special slated for October, reports The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The special, "Queer Eye Reunion: 10 Years Later," will feature design specialist Thom Felicia; fashion guru Carson Kressley; culture hound Jai Rodriguez; grooming expert Kyan Douglas; and food and wine expert Ted Allen.

The special will be hosted by Andy Cohen, with the five "Queer Eye" stars looking back on the groundbreaking show that helped straight men overhaul their appearance and their lifestyle.

When the show debuted in July 2003, it became a hit, leading to international versions and a female-focused spinoff. The show ended its run in 2007.

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'Game of Thrones' May Become More Like 'Breaking Bad'

HBO's "Game of Thrones" is known for its ruthless characters, but the writer of the original book series, George R.R. Martin, took to his blog to complain that Walter White on AMC's "Breaking Bad" is "a bigger monster than anyone in Westeros."

"I need to do something about that," Martin added.

Martin wrote his thoughts about "Breaking Bad" on his blog after watching the "Ozymandias" episode, which caused some stunned reactions from viewers after several characters died, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

After sharing his thoughts about White's character, Martin said he believes "Game of Thrones" has a chance at beating "Breaking Bad" for this year's Emmys -- adding: "(only a shot, though, I think they are the clear favorite), which pits us against their previous season ... but there's no way in hell that anyone is going to defeat BREAKING BAD next year, when their last season is the one in contention."

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Fox Rolls Out New Shows, Wins Tuesday Night

Fox continued its early rollout of the 2013-14 season Tuesday night, unveiling two new series and claiming a ratings win for the night, based on overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that Fox's season premiere of "New Girl" was the top show of the night with a 2.9 average rating in 18-49. The new fall show "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" had a solid premiere with a 2.5 (later adjusted up to a 2.6 in Tuesday finals), and the controversial new show "Dads" delivered a preliminary 2.1 (later adjusted up to a 2.2). The season premiere of "The Mindy Project" managed only a 1.9, down from a 2.4 for the series premiere a year ago.

In preliminary numbers for prime time overall, Fox came in at No. 1 in adults 18-49 with a 2.3 average rating, followed by NBC (2.0 average), Univision (1.4), ABC (1.2) and CBS (1.1). CBS aired an all-repeat lineup.

NBC wound up on top in total viewers, averaging 9.0 million for prime time, followed by CBS (8.1 million), Fox (5.3 million), ABC (3.8 million) and Univision (3.4 million).

ABC scored its best non-sports number on a Tuesday since May 28 by airing the movie "Iron Man 2," which delivered a 1.2 average in the 18-49 demo.

NBC's "Million Second Quiz" pulled in a 1.1 average in 18-49 -- better than its numbers at the end of last week (notably a 0.8 on Friday), but down from a 1.5 last Tuesday. Doing the heavy lifting on NBC was the two-hour "America's Got Talent," which rose 4% from last week to a 2.4.

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Is the Pay-TV Model in Trouble? Thanks to the 'Cord Never' Generation, It May Be

The pay-TV market as we know it is threatened by a new generation of "technology-savvy, budget-conscious consumers who are taking advantage of the availability of high-speed Internet connections and the proliferation of smartphones, tablets, lower-cost TVs and other gadgets that make it easy to consume downloadable shows in a snap," Bloomberg reports.

"The shift in viewing habits is putting pressure on cable, satellite and phone companies by pinching subscriber numbers, which may have a knock-on effect on revenue growth," the report says. "The impact on the $80 billion pay-TV industry is already being felt, with 2013 on pace to be the first year ever that total U.S. pay-TV subscriptions will decline, falling to 100.8 million from 100.9 million last year, according to researcher IHS."

In the past three years -- a period during which 3.2 million new U.S. households were set up -- the pay-TV industry added only 250,000 subscriptions, the piece reports, citing SNL Kagan figures.

Said Rich Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG LLC in New York: “It’s hard not to be concerned that there’s a growing population growing up not using [pay TV]. Alternatives are growing by the day.”

Bloomberg calls this new group the "cord never" generation, reporting: "Cord nevers are set to accelerate the erosion that cable and satellite TV providers are already suffering at the hands of phone companies. AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. have taken 11 percent of the market for paid-TV subscriptions after introducing competing services in the past decade. Cable commands 55 percent of the market, while satellite TV has 34 percent, according to IHS."

Meanwhile, choices are proliferating thanks to the Internet. "Netflix has attracted 29.8 million subscribers since it was founded in 1997, while Amazon sells streaming shows through its e-commerce storefront," Bloomberg reports. "Then there’s Hulu LLC and the wide range of programming available for download or streaming through Apple Inc. and Google Inc. websites. Silicon Valley technology companies such as Intel Corp. (INTC) are also planning Internet-based TV services."

Challenges posed by the "cord nevers" come on top of the widely acknowledged problem of cord cutters -- customers who previously paid for traditional cable or satellite and have since opted out in favor of Internet-related sources.

"Both groups affect the cable industry, which is unlikely to return to the growth in customer numbers it once enjoyed, said SNL Kagan analyst Ian Olgeirson," Bloomberg notes.

Said Olgeirson: “We think this trend probably amplifies a little over time. That comes from people who have either had a service and discontinued, or never came into the fold.”

So will pay TV vanish altogether? Not necessarily, according to the report.

"Paid TV subscribers in the U.S., including those buying programming from phone companies, remain prevalent, reaching 86 percent of households in 2009, according to IHS," the story reports. "Increases in advertising, per-subscriber fees and bundling telephone and Internet services will also help make up for customer declines, said Erik Brannon, an analyst at IHS."

Brannon adds: “The pay-TV business is fundamentally sound."

We encourage you to click on the link at the top of this story to read the rest of Bloomberg's in-depth report.

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Telepictures President Exits After 27 Years With the Company

The president of Warner Bros. production arm Telepictures has left the company after 27 years. B&C reports that Hilary Estey McLoughlin broke the news to those inside the company in a memo.

"I have discovered a whole new world out there, and I am excited to take on a new challenge," she said in the memo. She did not specify what she will do next, the piece notes.

"Estey McLoughlin transitioned to a producing role at Warner Bros. when Mike Darnell departed Fox to take over Warner's unscripted and alternative programming department in July," B&C reports.

The story notes: "Estey McLoughlin thanked a number of executives in her memo, including 'lifelong mentors' Barry Meyer, Bruce Rosenblum, and the late Jim Paratore."

In the memo, she said: "I will always be profoundly indebted to them for all they have done for me and my family."

hilary-estey-mcloughlin.pngHilary Estey McLoughlin

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Funny Business in Late-Night: Lexus to Air Live Ads Using Improv Comedians

Lexus is rolling out a program this week that will put live commercials, using improv comedians following up on suggestions from social media, on NBC's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon."

Advertising Age reports that the series will run every Thursday night, beginning tomorrow, Sept. 19, through Oct. 10. The improv comedians will use an early break during the show to put out a request for ad concepts from social media, and will return during a break later in the show to present the live ad.

Different ads will run on the East Coast and West Coast, the article notes. The series, which promotes the new Lexus IS, is running under the banner "It's Your Move After Dark."

"There have been recent attempts at live commercials, mostly in the late-night arena," the story reports. "NBC has aired live spots for Garmin during the 'Tonight Show with Jay Leno,' while ABC's 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' has delivered live spots for brands like Quiznos and Nikon."

The piece notes: "Live commercials were commonplace in the early days of TV, but essentially died out once shows became pre-recorded."

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Linda Ronstadt's Surprising Views on 'American Idol'

You may not be as surprised as we were, but a comment by Emmy winner and 11-time Grammy winner Linda Ronstadt about "American Idol" caught us by surprise. The quote comes from the singer's upcoming appearance on "Rachael Ray," set for this Friday, Sept. 20.

Ronstadt's appearance includes a discussion of her recent revelation that she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. But when the talk turned to "Idol," Ronstadt said: "I've never watched 'American Idol' in my whole life. When I go to heaven, I'm going to say, ‘I didn't watch "American Idol."’ They'll say, ‘Come on in.’”

Commenting on TV singing competitions in general, the singer of "You're No Good," "Blue Bayou," "When Will I Be Loved" and a string of other hits offers a broader perspective, saying: “I don't think that competition is for art, I think it's for horse races … they do, just like with pit bulls, they pit these singers against each other and they try to undermine each other and I think that's terrible; it's win at whatever price. ... To me, I think it's just a bad ... I think it's stupid.”

Asked about her Parkinson's, Ronstadt says the disease causes "a lot of just inconvenience because you can't do the things that you used to be able to do. ... I can't sing at all. Things that require a lot of coordination with your hands, like brushing your teeth or washing your hair. ... It's hard to ask other people to do things for me, because I'm used to doing stuff and I feel like a big demanding baby."

Ronstadt won an Emmy in 1989 for her "Canciones de Mi Padre" concert on PBS's "Great Performances."

linda-ronstadt-1970s.pngLinda Ronstadt back in The Day

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Former Disney Star Who 'Spiraled Out of Control' on Coke Resurfaces After Rehab

A former Disney star appears to be back at work after completing rehab for what is being reported as a cocaine problem. People magazine reports that Zac Efron, who became a teen heartthrob after starring in the Disney Channel original movie "High School Musical," completed a rehab stint about five months ago and has been keeping a low profile since then.

"The actor -- who recently walked the carpet at the Toronto International Film Festival -- is 'doing great,' a source tells People. 'He's taking care of himself and it shows,'" the magazine reports. The report adds that Efron "hasn't been seen out and about on the nightclub scene as of late."

TMZ.com reports that Efron's problem was cocaine, not alcohol, which was originally thought to be the issue.

Efron, 25, "did not go to rehab for alcohol abuse -- it was far more serious, because multiple sources tell TMZ he had a serious cocaine addiction," the website reports. "Zac completed his stint in rehab earlier this year. We're told the problem spiraled out of control during the filming of Seth Rogen's movie 'Neighbors,' which was shot during a narrow time frame beginning in April."

The TMZ report cites sources saying Efron was a no-show at times during production. "As one source connected with the film tells us, 'It was common knowledge he was struggling with cocaine,'" the piece notes, adding: "Three other sources confirm ... Zac's problem was rooted in cocaine, but say he also dabbled in Molly -- a pure form of Ecstasy, and a popular drug in clubs and raves."

Efron will soon be seen as one of the stars of a high-profile project about the JFK assassination, Tom Hanks' "Parkland," which opens in the U.S. next month. People quotes him talking to USA Today about working on the movie, saying: "It's really a surreal experience for me. It feels very mature and really interesting. It's a whole different kind of filmmaking and I feel blessed to have been a part of it."

zac-efron.pngZac Efron

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Why Networks Will Be Slower to Cancel New Shows This Season

With the new television season kicking off this week, viewers can expect a change in how the networks approach their new crop of shows, reports Media Life Magazine.

The networks will be slower to cancel new shows, given that the broadcasters will be watching how people use time-shifted viewing to catch up on programs, the story says.

"It takes days for Nielsen to deliver three-day DVR playback numbers and weeks for the seven-day ratings to come out, and that will lead to another likely trend this fall," the story reports. "TV shows will get more time to prove themselves."

Of course, sometimes the DVR numbers don't impact a show. Take NBC's drama series "Do No Harm," which didn't see any significant bump from playbacks and was canceled early this year after two episodes.

But other shows do end up seeing notable boosts in viewership from DVR and online playback, such as NBC's "Chicago Fire," the piece points out.

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With Concerns About Syria Situation, 'Homeland' Changes Its Shoot Location

Showtime has shifted some of its production plans for "Homeland" in response to concerns about the situation in Syria. Lisa de Moraes reports on Deadline.com that the drama series changed the location for some third-season scenes that were planned to be taped in Israel.

Instead, the show will film in Morocco, with the show's American producers informing the producers in Israel about the decision over the weekend.

"Producers of the show announced at a news conference in July that they were planning to return to Israel to shoot scenes for the final episodes of the coming season, according to multiple news reports from that month," the story notes.

The third season of the show is set to debut Sept. 29 on Showtime.

homeland season 3 poster.jpg

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Tom Hanks Working on Ambitious CNN Documentary Series

Tom Hanks is working on a 10-part documentary series for CNN. The Los Angeles Times reports that the ambitious project, announced as the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination approaches, will focus on the 1960s.

Called "The Sixties," the project will follow the events of the decade and the cultural transformation during those years, with subject matter including the Beatles, protests and drugs. "In other words, all the usual 1960s suspects," the story notes.

Hanks is co-producing with his partner Gary Goetzman, as well as CNN and Mark Herzog, the executive producer of History's "Gettysburg" movie, the piece adds.

CNN will air the first episode in November, with that installment focusing on JFK's assassination. The rest of the series will air starting in April 2014.

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Elisabeth Hasselbeck on 'Fox & Friends': The Early Numbers Are In

The much-awaited debut of Elisabeth Hasselbeck on "Fox & Friends" has delivered its ratings, and the numbers contain good news for Fox News, reports TVNewser.com.

Her Monday morning debut delivered a ratings boost for the network, with her first show up 4% in total viewers and 19% in the 25-54 demographic when compared with the same day last week. Compared with Fox News' quarter-to-date average, her debut gained 10% in total viewers and 21% in the demo.

An outspoken conservative, Hasselbeck parlayed her breakout role on the second season of the CBS reality series "Survivor" into a career in television, leaving ABC's "The View" two months ago after almost 10 years on the show.

elisabeth-hasselbeck2.jpgElisabeth Hasselbeck

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Seth Green on Fox's 'Dads': 'There Has Not Been Any ACTUAL Controversy'

"Dads" actor Seth Green came to the defense of the new Fox comedy, which has been accused of racism. Green wrote on a Reddit forum that he doesn't believe people who have made the accusations have "really seen the show as a whole and are solely focusing on singular jokes without considering them in the context of the entire show."

Asked by one reader about the "controversy" surrounding the show's jokes, Green wrote, "There has been a lot of discussion about critics saying that there is controversy, but there has not been any ACTUAL controversy."

He added: "And everyone needs to remember, this is a comedy, it's not about making fun of people but it's about having fun with the situations these people get into."

As previously reported, the Media Action Network for Asian Americans asked that Fox reshoot the pilot for "Dads," because of one scene in which an Asian-American female character played by Brenda Song dresses up in a Asian schoolgirl costume and giggles in an effort to please some Chinese businessmen.

On his Reddit forum, Green wrote: "The creators of the show are smart and clever, and we all grew up loving this kind of TV for being both a mirror to what we're all going through, and also provocative enough to ask questions about why we behave the way we do."

Still, a bigger issue for the show might be its harsh reviews. The New York Times said the show suffers from a "lack of imagination," and complains that "hilarity does not ensue" in one comedic scene. The San Francisco Chronicle called it "the worst new show of the season."

seth-green.pngSeth Green

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Wait a Minute: Why Is This Show on Animal Planet?

A reality series about five Orange County, Calif., women who travel to Alaska has been ordered by Animal Planet, reports Deadline.com.

Called "Alaska Gold Diggers," the project is about SaraJane “SJ” Bartholomae of Newport Beach, Calif., who inherited two gold mines from her father.

Bartholomae and her four adult daughters travel to Nome and Fairbanks in an effort to revive the family's mines, which were abandoned after her father's death. Her father was murdered when Bartholomae was a child.

At the same time, gold prices are reaching an all-time high, but the Alaska winter is only six weeks away.

"It’s more than just a fish-out-of-water story -- these women have grit and gumption, and will stop at nothing until they realize their father and grandfather’s dream of striking it rich in one of the harshest terrains on the planet,” said Jenny Daly, T Group president, who is executive producing.

fish-out-of-water.jpg

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ABC Family Working on Horror Project With 'Scream Queen'

A well-known actress who earned the nickname "The Scream Queen" early in her career has a new horror project in the works for ABC Family.

Deadline.com reports that Jamie Lee Curtis, who received the nickname after appearing in "Halloween" and other horror movies, is attached to star in the new project, "The Final Girls."

Steve Miner is slated to direct and executive produce if the project goes to pilot. That would reunite the two, who worked together on "Halloween H20: 20 Years Later."

The project is reportedly on a fast track in development, although it has not yet been given a green light, the story adds.

"The Final Girls" ia a drama about a group of girls who have each had their own frightening experiences and who are brought together by an older woman played by Curtis. Her character aims to transform their experiences into something positive, the piece reports.

As we reported previously, recent appearances by Curtis opposite Mark Harmon on the CBS drama "NCIS" have polarized fans of the show, producing a ratings bump while also generating complaints about what some consider a lack of chemistry between Curtis and Harmon.

jamie-lee-curtis2.jpgJamie Lee Curtis

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Syfy Bites on Werewolf Series Showcasing Blonde Beauty

Syfy has bought a werewolf drama, with its debut on the cable network set for 2014. B&C reports that the channel ordered the first season of the Canadian series "Bitten."

The series is based on a novel of the same name by Kelley Armstrong, and stars Laura Vandervoort as the only female werewolf still alive.

"'Bitten' is a fantastic blend of supernatural action, intense thrills, smouldering drama and a tortured love story that artfully adapts characters beloved for more than a decade by millions of readers around the world," said Chris Regina, Syfy senior VP of programming.

Vandervoort previously appeared on "Smallville" and was one of the stars of the 2009 action movie "Into the Blue 2: The Reef," a bikini showcase that went straight to DVD.

laura-vandervoot.pngLaura Vandervoort

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Fox Orders Jennifer Garner's Strip Club Project

Fox has given a pilot order to a new project from Jennifer Garner. TheWrap.com reports that Garner is on board to executive produce the drama project, which focuses on a male strip club.

The project, which has a put-pilot commitment, will also be executive produced by Jason Micallef, who wrote the pilot. The drama is about a single soccer mom who comes into an inheritance, which happens to be a male strip club. She ends up taking control of the club and assembling a ragtag family as a result.

jennifer-garner.jpgJennifer Garner

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'True Blood' Promotes Actress to Series Regular

The HBO vampire drama "True Blood" is promoting a relative newcomer to series regular for the seventh and final season. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the series is making Bailey Noble a full-time cast member.

Noble plays the half-faerie Adilyn Bellefleur on the program, after joining the show in the sixth season. Her character is the only surviving child of human Andy Bellefleur and the faerie Maurella, after her siblings were killed by a vampire.

bailey-noble.jpgBailey Noble

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Now We Know What Became of Tony Soprano's Track Suit

At last we have the answer to the burning question, "Whatever happened to Tony Soprano's track suit" ... and as it turns out, it's up for sale.

Clothing worn by the late actor James Gandolfini is being auctioned off today, with aficionados of the HBO drama "The Sopranos" getting a chance to buy some of his wardrobe from the hit show, reports the New York Post.

Tony Soprano's black and white Fila track suit, which the character wore in season 6, was expected to fetch at least $1,500, while a white bathrobe the character wore in the fifth season had a minimum bid of $1,500.

The articles of clothing came to auction from a private collector who bought the items from Gandolfini in 2012, the story says, citing Pete Siegel, co-founder of New York-based online auction house GottaHaveIt.com.

“It wouldn’t be the same if he had died, let’s say, 20 years ago. People still remember him and remember vividly," Siegel said.

Gandolfini died in June of cardiac arrest while visiting Rome, as previously reported.

tony-soprano-track-suit.pngThe Tony Soprano track suit

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A Virtual Who's Who of Top Broadcast, Cable, Digital, Programming and Ad Executives Join the 2014 Board of NATPE. Check It Out

NATPE President and CEO Rod Perth has made a serious statement with the quality of top executives that have joined the NATPE Board of Directors for 2014.

Said Perth, in a statement, of the newly elected board members, "We chose each of these board members because they are at the heart of strategic relevance for NATPE. Collectively they will contribute to our growth because they are experienced executives who are successfully managing businesses during this time of enormous change. NATPE is breaking down barriers by recognizing the interdependency of content, distribution, advertising, the international marketplace, and the narrowing divide between traditional and digital content."

Here's a list of the new board members:

Jack Abernethy, CEO, FOX TV Stations, New York

Joe Abruzzese, President, Advertising Sales, Discovery Communications, New York

Rola Bauer, President and Partner, Tandem Communications (Munich)

Ira Bernstein, Co-President, Debmar Mercury, New York

Deborah Bradley, Senior Vice President, Head of Program Acquisitions and Content Licensing, Turner Broadcasting, Atlanta

Sean Carey, VP Content Acquisitions, Netflix, Los Angeles

Alberto Ciurana, President, Programming & Content, Univision Communications, Miami

Lisa Honig, SVP, Program Distribution, USA & Canada, Fremantle Media, New York

Craig Hunegs, President, Business and Strategy, Warner Bros. Television Group, Los Angeles

Andy Kaplan, President, Worldwide Networks, Sony Pictures Television, Los Angeles

Michael Kassan, President/CEO, MediaLink, New York and Los Angeles

Lauren Zalaznick, Executive Vice President, NBC Universal, New York

In its announcement NATPE adds: "Current Digital Advisory Board members Ross Levinsohn, CEO, Guggenheim Digital Media, Los Angeles; Erin McPherson, VP & Head of Video Programming and Originals, Yahoo!, Los Angeles; and Tim Spengler, Worldwide CEO of MAGNA Global, New York, are joining the overall board.

"Returning to the NATPE Board are Rob Barnett, Founder/CEO, My Damn Channel, New York; Kevin Beggs, Chairman of Lionsgate Television Group, Los Angeles; Emerson Coleman, Vice President, Programming, Hearst Television, New York; Stephen J. Davis, President, Hasbro Studios, Los Angeles; Cesar Diaz, Vice President, Sales, Venevision International, Miami; Robert Friedman, CEO, Bungalow Media & Entertainment, New York; Bruce David Klein, President/CEO, Atlas Media Corp., New York; Eminence Gris Lew Klein, President, NATPE Educational Foundation, Pennsylvania; Jordan Levin, CEO, Generate & Alloy, Los Angeles; Greg Lipstone, Partner, ICM Partners, Los Angeles; Rod Perth, President & CEO of NATPE, Los Angeles; Hans Schiff, Television Agent, CAA, Los Angeles; Peter Tortorici, President/CEO, Group M, Los Angeles, and Elizabeth Tumulty, Executive Vice President Affiliate Relations, CBS Television Network, Los Angeles.

"The 2014 NATPE Executive Committee includes Chair Jordan Levin, Kevin Beggs, Emerson Coleman, Steve Davis, Bruce David Klein, Lew Klein and Rod Perth."

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Fall Broadcast Season Already Has Its First New Hit Show

The 2013-14 broadcast TV season got off to a high-octane start Monday night, with a new series staking an early claim to being the season's first breakout hit. Fox won the night on the strength of that new series, the drama "Sleepy Hollow," based on Nielsen numbers for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "Hollow" notched a hefty 3.5 average rating in viewers 18-49, in final numbers for the night. Trying to keep pace were the season premiere of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars," which delivered a 3.1 to finish second, while CBS's season finale of the summer sensation "Under the Dome" came through with a 2.8 to place third.

"Dancing" delivered a huge number in total viewers, averaging 16.04 million to lead all broadcast programs. "Under the Dome" was second with 12.1 milion, and "Sleepy Hollow" rounded up 10.1 million.

Fox opened its Monday prime time with the season premiere of "Bones," settling for a 2.3 in the 18-49 demo to set the stage for the big "Sleepy Hollow" premiere.

In the "not-so-notable summer finales" category, NBC's "Siberia" closer mustered a 0.6 average in 18-49, while CW's "Breaking Pointe" finale settled for a puny 0.2.

Preliminary numbers for prime time overall showed a competitive two-way race, with Fox taking the win for the night with a 2.8 average in adults 18-49, followed closely by ABC with a 2.6. Trailing were CBS (1.9 average), NBC (1.2), Univision (1.2) and CW (0.2).

ABC blew away the competition in total viewers for prime time overall, averaging 13.4 million, based on preliminary figures. Fox was a distant second with 8.8 million, ahead of CBS (7.2 million), NBC (3.2 million), Univision (3.2 million) and CW (602,000).

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Fox News Channel Rolls Out New Prime-Time Schedule

Despite dominating the cable news ratings, Fox News has decided to tinker with its prime-time programming lineup. The Los Angeles Times reports that the channel shuffled the schedule to make room in prime time for Megyn Kelly, who has been a fixture in daytime.

"Kelly's new show 'The Kelly File' is being given the plum 9 p.m. Eastern time slot. The current occupant of that hour, Sean Hannity, will move to 10 p.m. and Greta Van Susteren will go to 7 p.m. to replace Shep Smith's evening newscast," the story reports. "The only show staying in place is 'The O'Reilly Factor,' hosted by Bill O'Reilly."

The changes take effect Oct. 7 -- the 17th anniversary of the network's launch.

In a statement, Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes said: "These changes will enable the network to continue setting the industry standard for years to come."

The channel said Kelly's new show will include breaking news, in-depth investigations and newsmaker interviews.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for megyn-kelly.jpgMegyn Kelly

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Not So Fast: AMC Wants a Long Goodbye for 'Mad Men'

AMC is learning that breaking up with a hit show is hard to do, as the final stretch of the critical darling "Breaking Bad" rakes in huge numbers. So the cable channel has decided to spread the final run of another of its franchise shows, "Mad Men," over two years, Advertising Age reports.

The final season of "Men" has been extended to 14 episodes, with the first seven to bow in spring 2014, followed by the final seven in spring 2015.

"AMC took the same approach with 'Breaking Bad,' which began the first half of its fifth and final season in July 2012, took a lengthy break and returned for the last eight episodes this August," the story notes. "The real, final last episodes of 'Breaking Bad' this year have been attracting nearly double the number of viewers than had watched any other episode. Sunday's episode drew 6.4 million viewers, making it the series' most watched episode."

In a statement, AMC President Charlie Collier said: "We are determined to bring 'Mad Men' a similar showcase. In an era where high-end content is savored and analyzed, and catch-up time is used well to drive back to live events, we believe this is the best way to release the now 14 episodes that remain of this iconic series."

Please click here to read the full report from Advertising Age.

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Popular Talk Show Guest Dead at 77 -- You May Not Know Her, but She Was a TV Phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s

A woman who became an unlikely phenomenon on the television talk show circuit in the 1960s has died. The New York Times reports that Japanese-born Reiko Douglas died Sept. 9 in Los Angeles. She was 77.

She was a regular on U.S. talk shows in the 1960s and 1970s even though she appeared to know little English, the story reports. Douglas and her husband, the late comedy writer Jack Douglas, appeared often on Jack Paar's TV shows, starting with "The Tonight Show" in the 1960s and on to "Jack Paar Tonight" in the 1970s, the piece notes. They were often billed as "Jack Douglas and Reiko."

They also appeared on talk shows hosted by Merv Griffin, David Frost, Mike Douglas and Dick Cavett, and with Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show."

"In her first appearance on Mr. Paar’s show she took the stage alongside her husband in traditional Japanese attire. Her heavily accented, nearly incomprehensible replies to Mr. Paar’s questions caused much hilarity among the audience," the story reports.

"But far from being helplessly adrift in an Anglophone sea, Ms. Douglas was by many accounts in considerable control of the situation: her girlish charm and unassuming speech helped disarm a xenophobic public only a decade and a half after the end of World War II."

reiko-douglas-merv-griffin-jack-douglas.jpgReiko Douglas and Jack Douglas, right, with Merv on "The Merv Griffin Show"

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Something to Talk About: Genre Heats Up as Summer Winds Down

As summer winds down, the daytime talk genre appears to be heating up, based on just-released national syndication rankings for the week ending Sept. 8.

Two shows were tied at the top of the rankings for household ratings: "Live with Kelly & Michael (2.5, up 9% from the week before), and "Dr. Phil" (2.5, up 4%). "Dr. Phil" hadn't started its new season yet, with the season premiere set for Sept. 9.

"Dr. Oz" (1.9, up 6%), in repeats all week, tied for third with "Maury" (1.9, down 5%). Also in repeats, "Katie" (1.6, up 7%) had its best numbers in four weeks, tying "Ellen" (1.6, down 6%), which had its lowest ratings in a year.

"The Doctors" had its best numbers since the week of July 29 (1.2, up 9%).

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Fox Stations Extend Programming Service for Two More Years

A programming service that has been keeping off-network shows on the air in weeknight prime got a new lease on life with a two-year extension by the Fox Television Stations. B&C reports that the group signed a deal to keep MyNetworkTV around through 2015-16.

"The fate of MyNetworkTV, which shows off-network programs in prime Monday through Friday, had been in question, but FTS has committed to it for the foreseeable future," B&C reports. "MyNet airs on Fox-owned WWOR New York, KCOP Los Angeles and WPWR Chicago, among many other top markets, reaching 97% of the US. Its new season launches Sept. 30 with the addition of 'Bones,' which joins 'Law & Order: SVU,' 'House,' 'Law & Order: CI' and 'Monk' on the grid."

Said Twentieth Television President Greg Meidel: "The new schedule further elevates MyNetworkTV as destination programming for viewers, station partners and the advertising community. We are thrilled that the Fox Television Stations will continue to share a prime-time slate of well-established and compelling procedurals featuring television's most dynamic characters and story lines."

B&C notes: "MyNetworkTV launched in September 2006 with 12 hours of original content a week. In the fall of 2009, it switched to a 'programming service' model, and 10 hours of programming a week."

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Comedian Diagnosed With Parkinson's After Being Treated for Cancer

A comedian known for his many television appearances and for his film roles has been treated for prostate cancer and has early symptoms of Parkinson's disease, People magazine reports.

Billy Connolly has "fully recovered" from the surgery, according to a statement on his website. He's also receiving treatment for Parkinson's.

"Billy has been assured by experts that the findings will in no way inhibit or affect his ability to work, and he will start filming a TV series in the near future," the statement adds.

The Scottish-born Connolly has starred in TV shows such as the British documentary series "Billy Connolly's Route 66," and has made guest appearances on shows including "Veronica's Closet" and "House." He also has a long list of film credits, including "Mrs. Brown" and "Indecent Proposal."

An accomplished folk musician with a string of albums to his credit, Connolly has also released a number of live stand-up comedy DVDs.

billy-connolly.jpgBilly Connolly

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NBC Faces New Pressure as Fall Season Launches -- But Which Network Needs a Hit the Most?

The 2013-14 television season got a jump-start Monday night as the first new broadcast series launched, and as usual the big question is which shows will catch on with both viewers and advertisers. Fox's early premiere of "Sleepy Hollow" Monday got the new season rolling, with the bulk of premieres still to come.

Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva notes that each network faces its own unique issues, as the broadcast networks "seem to be switching identities this fall." NBC, she notes, is getting behind a new procedural ("The Blacklist") while CBS is pushing into single-camera comedy.

But the network that most desperately needs a hit may be ABC.

"ABC needs a hit, pronto," Andreeva writes. "While 'Scandal's' sophomore rise [was] one of the biggest success stories last season, returning only two series from last season, 'Nashville' and 'The Neighbors,' both bubble performers at best, is not a good record."

The network is pinning much of its hopes on "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." as it looks for a new fall hit.

NBC, meanwhile, faces new pressure. One of the biggest questions for the network is whether its "already anemic Thursday comedy block [can] withstand CBS’s expansion to two hours of comedy on the night once known as Must See TV," Andreeva writes.

Fox continues to contend with baseball-related challenges, given that the pre-emptions from playoffs add to the pressure on shows to find audiences quickly. "After taking a more niche approach in comedy for the last couple of seasons, Fox is betting on broader and lower-brow comedies this fall," such as the controversial "Dads," Andreeva writes, asking, "Will the change in direction pay off?"

Fox is also betting on genre shows, with "Sleepy Hollow" and "Almost Human," as the network searches for its next "X Files."

As for CBS, the network is making a big bet on single-camera comedy with "The Crazy Ones" and "We Are Men," with the goal of successfully expanding its Thursday night comedy block.

The CW, meanwhile, is "taking a lot of risks this fall," Andreeva writes. The network is using the hit "Vampire Diaries" to debut "Reign," a female-centered soap in a genre that has struggled on the network.

All together, the broadcast networks are debuting 26 new fall shows, up from 18 new shows last fall, notes Media Life Magazine.

"Hopes are higher for this fall, when each network has at least one show being eyed as a potential hit by media people," the publication notes.

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Viewers Bailing Out on CNN's New 'Crossfire'

CNN apparently has an "uphill battle with viewers" with its reboot of "Crossfire," as the half-hour show saw its ratings plunge during its first week on air, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

"Crossfire" debuted Sept. 9 with modest time-slot improvement, averaging 581,000 total viewers and 171,000 viewers in the target news demographic of adults 25-54. But by Friday, ratings had dropped 47% in total viewers and 40% in the demo, the report notes.

After the Monday premiere, "each of the subsequent four telecasts dropped double digits in both total viewers and the demo, before settling at 309,000 viewers and 103,000 adults 25-54 -- the latter a loss of 40%," the story reports. "For the week, 'Crossfire' averaged 438,000 viewers and 147,000 adults 25-54. Those numbers are down roughly 10% from the time slot’s year-to-date average -- and, among viewers, down 14% from the week before."

Meanwhile, competing shows on Fox News and MSNBC both saw ratings growth in what was a big news week including an address on Syria by President Obama. FNC's "Special Report With Bret Baier" averaged 2.136 million total viewers and 368,000 viewers 25-54, the story reports.

The new "Crossfire" features a political debate panel made up of Newt Gingrich, Stephanie Cutter, Van Jones and S. E. Cupp.

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NBC Developing Provocatively Titled Comedy

NBC has bought a comedy project with a title that is likely to draw attention. Deadline.com reports that the network is developing "My Parents Are Too F**king Happy," from actress Krysten Ritter and feature writer Heather Hach.

Ritter knows the territory when it comes to TV titles that push the envelope, having starred in ABC's "Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23."

The new project is produced by Universal TV and written by Hach, who has worked on films including "Freaky Friday" and "What to Expect When You're Expecting." It comes from Ritter's Silent Machine Entertainment as part of its first-look deal with the studio, the story notes.

The project is about three siblings with relationship troubles who are traumatized by their parents' perfect marriage.

Ritter, who also appeared on AMC's "Breaking Bad," has been cast in the NBC comedy pilot "Assistance," which Deadline says is still in contention.

Thumbnail image for krysten-ritter.pngKrysten Ritter

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Paula Deen Extortionist Sentenced to Prison

A prison sentence has been handed down against an extortionist who targeted embattled television chef Paula Deen. TMZ.com reports that Thomas Paculis was sentenced to two years in prison.

Paculis allegedly threatened to release "true and damning" information about Deen's use of racial slurs if he didn't receive $250,000, the story notes. He was arrested in July and charged with two counts of extortion after the FBI tracked him down.

He agreed to plead guilty to one count of extortion, in exchange for prosecutors dropping the other count, the piece notes.

As previously reported, Deen lost lucrative contracts and business deals after she admitted in a deposition in a separate case that she had used racist language. The Paculis extortion attempt surfaced as Deen was in the midst of the PR disaster.

Paculis was also reportedly ordered to get counseling for substance abuse.

thomas-paculis.pngThomas Paculis

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'Walking Dead' Won't Be Walking Alone, as AMC Plans a New Zombie Series

AMC, where the zombie series "The Walking Dead" has been a monster hit, plans to add another zombie show to its lineup. The new series will launch in 2015, writes Bill Carter in The New York Times.

"The network announced on Monday that Robert Kirkman, who wrote the comic book series that inspired the television show, will develop the new version, which is still untitled," the story notes.

Other members of the team behind the hit AMC show will also be involved in the new series, including producers Gale Anne Hurd and David Alpert.

"The opportunity to make a show that isn’t tethered by the events of the comic book, and is truly a blank page, has set my creativity racing," Kirkman said.

The news comes after AMC earlier this month said it's developing a spinoff of one of its current hits, "Breaking Bad." As previously reported, the new show, "Better Call Saul," will focus on the drama's ethically challenged attorney, Saul Goodman.

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Britney Spears Becomes a Vegas Act

Britney Spears is now a Vegas act. The 31-year-old pop superstar, known for her string of hits including "Oops!... I Did It Again" and "Baby One More Time," announced today on "Good Morning America" that she has inked a deal to appear in a two-year residency at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, USA Today reports.

The residency is set to launch Dec. 27, with a total of 50 shows planned.

"Spears made the announcement after a live helicopter stunt in Vegas, where she was greeted by more than 1,000 fans," the story reports. "She said that her upcoming show would mix old and new hits, with an atmosphere that's part dance club, part theater."

Said Spears: "We wanted the environment to be that way so people could come and have a good time and stand up and feel like they're in the show with me. I love Vegas. The energy here is really, really good."

britney-spears.pngBritney Spears

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Damon Lindelof -- the Man Behind 'Lost' -- Gets Series Order From HBO

HBO has given a series order to a new drama from Damon Lindelof, whose earlier TV projects have included "Lost" and "Crossing Jordan."

Deadline.com reports that the pay-cable network gave a 10-episode order for "The Leftovers," based on a book by Tom Perrotta. The project is directed by Peter Berg and co-written by Lindelof and Perrotta, whose novel is about the people who are left on Earth after the Rapture.

Warner Bros. TV is producing, marking the studio's first series for the network. The project also marks Lindelof's first television project since "Lost" ended on ABC in 2010.

Lindelof has been keeping busy since then with feature work, including "Cowboys & Aliens," "Prometheus" and "Star Trek Into Darkness."

damon-lindelof.pngDamon Lindelof

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Remember When 'Seinfeld' Brought on Mets Star Keith Hernandez -- You Know, the 'Magic Loogie' Incident? (Here's the Clip) Now Hernandez Is Returning the Favor

Jerry Seinfeld, a longtime New York Mets fan, will reunite with former Mets star Keith Hernandez, who was a guest on a memorable episode of "Seinfeld" that included the infamous "Magic Loogie" incident. (See the clip below.)

Seinfeld will be in the broadcast booth for today's Mets game against the San Francisco Giants for SNY, the television home of the Mets, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports. Seinfeld will appear on the pregame show on SNY at 6 p.m., and will join Hernandez and the rest of the broadcast team in calling the game, the story says.

Also calling the game will be Ron Darling and Gary Cohen, with lead studio analyst Bob Ojeda and host Chris Carlin on board for the pregame show.

"Four guys who love to talk sharing one broadcast booth sounds like a bad idea on its face. I don’t even know if the chairs will fit," Seinfeld said. "But to spend an evening with Keith, Ron and Gary, I will stand if I have to. Those guys, and the incredible Bobby Ojeda, are the all-star team of baseball broadcasting."

Seinfeld previously called a Mets game in 2010. Hernandez appeared as himself on "Seinfeld" in 1992, in a two-part episode called "The Boyfriend."

Relive the "Magic Loogie" incident from "Seinfeld":

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Lifetime Moves Forward With Dystopian Drama

Lifetime is developing a drama set in a dystopian future where women have stopped having babies. TheWrap.com reports that the cable channel gave a pilot order to the project, "The Lottery."

The drama looks at what happens as the human population is facing extinction, when 100 embryos are successfully fertilized and then raffled off in a national lottery to find surrogates, the story says.

“As conflict, control and mystery over this important scientific breakthrough unfolds, government interests and power begin to dominate one of the most personal and basic elements of humanity -- the right to have a family,” Lifetime said of the project.

The pilot is written by Timothy Sexton of "Children of Men," with Sexton executive producing along with Dawn Olmstead of "Prison Break."

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Olympic Star Will Be Focus of New TV Biopic

A breakout U.S. Olympian will be the subject of a new Lifetime movie, with the cable channel greenlighting a biopic about her life. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that the project will tell the story of Gabby Douglas, who won gold medals in the individual and team all-around gymnastics competitions at the London Games in 2012.

Douglas herself is expected to appear in the film, the story notes, although she won't star in it. The TV movie will instead feature Imani Hakim and Sydney Mikayla as Douglas during different periods in her life. Regina King from "Southland" is set to play her mother.

"Douglas was the first black gymnast in Olympic history to become the individual all-around champion, and the first American gymnast to win gold in the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics in the summer of 2012," the story notes.

The project, produced by Sony Pictures TV, has the working title "The Gabby Douglas Story."

Gabby-Douglas.jpgGabby Douglas

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Rosy Outlook for Netflix: How Many Streaming Customers Will the Video Streamer Have in Two Years -- and What's Driving the Surge?

Given its low monthly price and the expansion of Internet-connected devices, Netflix appears poised for subscriber growth and may reach 40 million streaming customers by the end of 2015 -- an increase of one-third from its 30 million current customers, the Los Angeles Times reports, citing media analyst Rich Greenfield.

Greenfield wrote that he can "see no reason why" Netflix couldn't pass the mark of 40 million streaming customers in 2015. Factors helping to boost growth include the service's $7.99 monthly fee, about half of what cable and satellite customers pay for HBO, and the fact that nothing is needed beyond a high-speed Web connection, the story notes.

The service is also appealing to customers because of its range of content offerings, including high-quality original shows such as "Orange Is the New Black" and "House of Cards," the report notes.

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All About Miley: Her Engagement Is Officially Off, Her First Comments on Her Blazingly Hot Video, and Why Sir Elton John Compares Her to Michael Jackson

Hannah Montana's alter ego, Miley Cyrus, continues to grab headlines. Here's the latest:

"Reps for both Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth confirm to People exclusively that the engagement is off between the two stars. The news marks the end of a tumultuous year in which Cyrus, 20, and Hemsworth, 23, have experienced more break-ups than bonding moments."

Then we have Cyrus' first comments about her megahit YouTube video "Wrecking Ball." Says Entertainment Weekly: "Already garnering over 44 million views on YouTube, earning the record for most views gained in 24 hours, the Terry Richardson-directed clip begins with a close-up of Cyrus’ face as a tear rolls down her cheeks, followed by more provocative imagery of her licking a sledgehammer and swinging naked on a wrecking ball. Cyrus said in comments to a radio DJ, 'If people can take their minds off the obvious and go into their imagination and see what the video really means, it is so vulnerable. … If you look at my eyes, I look more sad than actually my voice sounds on the record. It was a lot harder to actually do the video than it was to even record the song. It was much more of an emotional experience.'"

Cyrus adds: "Kind of anything that I do at this point it becomes such this big deal and for me. I’m just having fun, and whatever people label it as, it doesn’t really matter, I’m just having fun.”

Finally, there's this, from Sir Elton John, courtesy of The Huffington Post: " 'I look at Miley Cyrus and I see a meltdown waiting to happen,' John told [the newspaper] The Australian. 'And she's so young! But she's got two records in the top 20, so who is going to stop her?'

"John has seen this kind of thing before -- he likened Cyrus' behavior to that of Michael Jackson. Claiming he can 'spot a car crash before it happens,' John told the paper that he knew Jackson was going to die. 'He'd been doing drugs for so long, he'd been a mess for so long -- and I've known Michael since he was 12 or 13 -- that it was never going to happen.'"

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Miley Cyrus in her record-setting video "Wrecking Ball"

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Primetime Emmys to Include Special Tributes to James Gandolfini, Cory Monteith, Jean Stapleton, Others. Read Who Will Be Presenting the Special Tributes

"CBS and the TV Academy have announced that, in addition to what has become the traditional In Memoriam segment, this weekend’s Primetime Emmy Awards broadcast will also include special tributes to recently deceased industry figures," reports our good friend Lisa de Moraes at Deadline.com.

The article continues: "Sadly, death has been a big story in the TV industry since the last Emmy ceremony, including the unexpected deaths of James Gandolfini ('Sopranos') and Cory Monteith ('Glee'). In Sunday’s special tributes, Edie Falco will remember her 'Sopranos' co-star and Jane Lynch will remember her 'Glee' colleague."

The report adds: "Michael J. Fox, starring in a new NBC comedy, will pay tribute to 'Family Ties' producer Gary David Goldberg. Robin Williams, starring in a new CBS comedy, will remember friend/mentor Jonathan Winters, and Rob Reiner will fete his longtime 'All In The Family' castmate Jean Stapleton"

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Cable Series Continues Its Hot Streak, Sets Ratings Record

A cable drama series has been hitting ratings home runs, and that hot streak continued Sunday. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that AMC's "Breaking Bad" set a series record with 6.4 million total viewers.

"'Ozymandias,' dubbed the best episode in the series' history by The Hollywood Reporter TV critic Tim Goodman, was up 102 percent from the comparable showing last year -- and bested the previous record, set by the recent return, by half a million viewers," THR reports. "Among adults 18-49, the series set another high with 4.05 million viewers in the targeted demographic. The 3.59 million adults 25-54 brought another record."

The series finale is due in two weeks. As we reported last week, the series will have a spinoff on AMC focused on the character Saul Goodman, played by Bob Odenkirk.

"AMC also cites SocialGuide's Twitter findings from Sunday night, noting the series generated 604,765 mentions -- with a peak of 16,329 tweets per minute during the episode's final 10 minutes," THR notes, adding: "Star Aaron Paul, who live-tweeted the episode, surpassed 1 million followers during the broadcast."

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New Miss America Responds to Racist Outcry -- And Denies She Had Unkind Words for the Previous Miss America

The newly crowned Miss America, who is of Indian descent, responded to an outcry over her win that included Internet posts linking her to terrorism and implying that she should be working in a 7-11 store.

Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, brushed off the comments, USA Today reports. In her first news conference after the pageant, Davuluri said: "I'm so happy this organization has embraced diversity. I'm thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America."

Commenting on the online outcry, she said: "I have to rise above that. I always viewed myself as first and foremost American."

"She was referred to as 'the Arab' by some and other commenters noted 'This is America, not India.' One called her 'Miss 7-11,'" the story reports. "There were those who huffed about it being inappropriately close to 9/11. Some mentioned ties to al-Qaeda and at least one flat-out called her a terrorist."

But Davuluri has also been explaining a separate controversy. "According to Page Six, Davuluri was said to have been heard on tape in July in her hotel room after she was crowned Miss New York as saying that Miss America 2013, New York's Mallory Hagan, was 'fat as (expletive),'" the story reports. "At the time, she said the remarks were made by 'people in my room' and MIss America organizers said there was 'no validity' to the report."

Today on "Good Morning America," Davuluri reportedly told Lara Spencer: "It was such an unfortunate situation. I never made those comments. I called Mallory and have apologized to her because it was the right thing to do. And we worked it out. She's been an incredible resource throughout this journey."

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Football Fuels Big Win for NBC -- But Numbers Are Down

Football jumbled the prime-time broadcast schedule and played heck with the overnight ratings Sunday night, but it also left no doubt about who won the night.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC easily outdistanced its broadcast rivals on the strength of its "Sunday Night Football" coverage of the NFL game between the 49ers and Seahawks, along with its "Football Night in America" program. The website notes that overnight numbers for NBC, CBS and Fox are all subject to more than the usual adjustments due to the nature of live programming.

NBC wound up with a 6.3 average rating for Sunday prime in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights. That number was more than twice the average for its closest rival, CBS, which came in at 2.9. Trailing were Fox (1.8 average), ABC (1.4) and Univision (1.0). NBC also led comfortably in total viewers with 15.9 million, followed by CBS (10.3 million), ABC (6.6 million), Fox (4.5 million) and Univision (2.9 million).

The numbers for NBC's "Sunday Night Football" game were down from last week's opener. The game delivered a preliminary 7.4 average in 18-49, off 19% from the number a week ago.

CBS's lineup was jumbled by a 50-minute overrun of NFL coverage, rendering the hourly numbers impossible to translate. Fox's schedule also will have to be sorted out to account for football-related confusion.

ABC's prime-time coverage of the Miss America Pageant delivered a 1.9 average in adults 18-49, 19% higher than the pageant held Jan. 12, 2013. A scheduling quirk led to two pageants being held in one calendar year, the report notes.

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HBO's 'Behind the Candelabra' Is the Big Winner at the Creative Arts Emmys; 45-Second Rule Creates Hassles, Unrest

HBO's Liberace biopic "Behind the Candelabra" was the big winner at the 65th Annual Creative Arts Emmys, in a ceremony that spanned what the Los Angeles Times calls a "grueling 3.5 hours" Sunday evening.

"Candelabra," which starred Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, won eight awards, while the Tony Awards telecast and HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" each earned four Emmys.

Please click here to see the full list of winners of the Creative Arts Emmys.

The event, which honors the best behind-the-scenes work in television, was marred by a 45-second rule for acceptance speeches, which blasted loud music in winners' faces before they were done with their remarks, the story reports.

That rule apparently relaxed as the evening went on, notes Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

Andreeva reports that Creative Arts Emmys producer Spike Jones Jr. warned participants just before the start of the ceremony: "You have 45 seconds to get from your seat all the way down the aisle, up the steps, and do your acceptance speech. I'm not kidding."

Andreeva adds: "He indeed was not, and the strictly enforced acceptance time limit rubbed many attendees the wrong way as winner after winner had to make a dash for the the stage for a 10-second out-of-breath speech before they were cut off."

Andreeva also reports: "Possibly due to the backlash, the producers seemed to start [to] somewhat relax the strict 45-second limit as the show went on. For instance, comedy great Bob Newhart was not interrupted when accepting his first Emmy. But the worst offenders have been the presenters. Comedian Gilbert Gottfried went on and on for 7-8 minutes before introducing the variety categories."

The Deadline report quotes one unidentified multiple Emmy winner, who was unhappy with the rule, saying: “It’s disrespectful and it’s offensive to the professionals in this room to treat them like cattle. You’ve got women in gowns literally sprinting down the aisle after winning.”

Andreeva adds: "Indeed, one winner with a low-cut top was seen nearly coming out of it. Another winner had to remove her shoes to get to the stage in time. Numerous winners were drowned out by music after speaking for a few seconds, and several others had their mics cut altogether."

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New Talk Show Off to a Fast Start -- Ratings Are the Best for Any Syndie Talker in Seven Years

A new talk show has racked up the strongest first-week numbers of any syndicated talk show in seven years in key demos. In adults 18-49 and adults 25-54, the week one ratings for "Arsenio" are the best since the debut of "Rachael Ray" in September 2006.

After premiering Sept. 9, the late-night show featuring talk veteran Arsenio Hall finished its first week with a 0.7 average rating/3 share in adults 18-49, chalking up 40% growth over its lead-in (0.5/2) and 40% improvement over its year-ago time period average (0.5/2).

"Arsenio" reportedly finished as the top-ranked late-night talk show in the 18-49 demo (0.7/3), tying Jay Leno's number (0.7/4) and topping the other veteran shows.

The show's week one household rating in the 56 metered markets averaged a 1.5/3, up 50% from its year-ago time periods (1.0/2). In New York, "Arsenio" improved its time period on WPIX-TV by 86% over last year to a 1.3/3. In Los Angeles the show surged 138% over year-ago numbers to a 1.9/6 on KTLA-TV, and in Chicago, it grew 56% from last year to a 2.5/5 on WGN.

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Lorne Michaels Overhauls 'SNL' Lineup, Anoints New 'Weekend Update' Host; Last Two Cast Spots Appear to Be Set

"Saturday Night Live" is undergoing one of the biggest overhauls in its four-decade history following the departure of three key players and with the looming exit of "Weekend Update" anchor Seth Meyers, writes Bill Carter in The New York Times.

Producer Lorne Michaels has a plan for handling the transition at the "Weekend Update" desk that involves the relative newcomer Cecily Strong, Carter writes.

Strong will join Meyers on "Weekend Update" starting with the show's season premiere Sept. 28, and is lined up to potentially step into the job on a solo basis later in the season. Meyers is leaving "SNL" in February to host NBC's "Late Night" four nights a week.

Michaels said he's hoping that Meyers might still be able to work on "Update," given that "Late Night" (which Michaels also executive produces) doesn't have a Friday night edition, Carter notes.

As for Strong, she performed well during her first season on the show, creating memorable characters such as The Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation With at a Party. (See clip below.)

"Cecily, from the first show, was right there,” Michaels said. “She exploded.”

In addition to the changes at "Weekend Update," the show is adding six cast members. Michaels decided last week on the final addition, hiring stand-up comedian Brooks Wheelan. Also among the new cast members is Beck Bennett, who is seen on AT&T commercials with groups of kids. NBC will make their casting official today, Carter writes.

Cast members Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis are leaving the show, as we reported previously.

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Behind-the-Scenes Turmoil on TNT's 'Rizzoli & Isles'

The TNT flagship drama "Rizzoli & Isles" is experiencing a difficult situation behind the scenes. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the show has lost its creator and showrunner, Janet Tamaro, who departs less than a month after production was shut down following the sudden death of co-star Lee Thompson Young.

"It’s never good news when the creator/showrunner of a successful series exits," Andreeva writes.

Tamaro will stay on as a consultant, with her move coming as production ended on the show's fourth season. The latest turmoil surfaces after "persistent talk about discord on the 'Rizzoli & Isles' set and speculation that Tamaro may depart," Andreeva writes.

The report adds: "The death of Young, who committed suicide during the filming of the second to last episode, will be addressed at the beginning of Season 5."

In a statement, Tamaro said, "I’m at the top of my game, thanks in large part to this unbelievable experience and show. It’s time to challenge myself and develop new projects."

A search is on to find a new showrunner, the story adds.

janet-tamaro.jpgJanet Tamaro

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'Jeopardy!' Champ Says NBC Reneged on His Invitation to 'Million Second Quiz'

The most successful champion in the history of "Jeopardy!" says he received an invitation from NBC to participate in its new heavily promoted -- but ratings-challenged -- game show "Million Second Quiz," only to have the network change its mind and renege on the invitation.

Ken Jennings, who has reportedly won more than $3 million on "Jeopardy!," said NBC reached out to him over the weekend, asking him if he could fly across the country to appear on "Quiz." But that plan subsequently went awry, according to a blog post from Jennings.

"I couldn’t say no. I love game shows, even imperfect ones. I sent in some paperwork and had a plane ticket in my inbox by the time I sat down to brunch with my family," Jennings wrote.

An hour later, he wrote, his phone rang again. It was NBC calling back, saying there was a "miscommunication."

"The network, for unspecified reasons, was not willing to fly 'trivia champions' in for the show. I couldn’t imagine why not, as they’ve been flying in suspiciously telegenic 'Line Jumpers' of many other descriptions. But evidently not me. I could fly myself to New York if I like, they said. I wouldn’t even have to wait in line," he wrote.

His answer? "Thanks but no thanks," he wrote.

As previously reported, "Million Second Quiz" suffered significant ratings erosion during its first week, slipping to a 1.1 overnight average in the key 18-49 demo Thursday that made it the night's lowest-rated original prime-time show on the big four broadcast networks.

The number reported for Friday night's installment of "Quiz" was even lower -- a 0.8 average rating in viewers 18-49, based on Nielsen "live plus same day" figures.

ken-jennings.jpgKen Jennings

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Fox Apologizes for F-Bomb by NFL Legend

Fox Sports 1 apologized after one of its analysts, a veteran NFL player, made an off-the-cuff remark on the air that included an F-bomb. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the comment came from Terry Bradshaw, a Hall of Fame quarterback who won four Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Bradshaw was walking next to Jimmie Johnson when he dropped the swear word, the story says.

"Fox Sports apologizes for the inadvertent and inappropriate language heard during a commercial break on Friday's edition of 'Fox Football Daily' on Fox Sports 1," the company said in a statement.

The network added: "The personalities in the studio, including Terry Bradshaw, were unaware that we'd be going to the set live at that time. We apologize to Terry and viewers who unfortunately heard the comments. We are reviewing our procedures to make sure this does not happen again."

terry-bradshaw.pngTerry Bradshaw

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FCC Receives a Batch of Miley Cyrus-Related Complaints: 'Slutty,' 'Devil' Tongue and 'Made Me Want to Puke' Are Just a Few Examples; But There's One Problem

There's one main problem with the complaints submitted to the Federal Communications Commission about Miley Cyrus' controversial MTV Video Music Awards performance, according to the Smoking Gun.

The website reports that the panel received more than 150 complaints about the sexually charged appearance by the former "Hannah Montana" star. Some of the complaints requested that the FCC either fine or penalize Cyrus, singer Robin Thicke -- who performed with Cyrus -- and MTV.

But the website says there's one problem with the requests: The FCC can only sanction indecency on broadcast networks, not on cable channels such as MTV.

"So the complaints sent to the agency by outraged, scarred, and offended Americans must, statutorily, fall on deaf ears," the Smoking Gun notes.

The complaints, which the website says it received in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, include one from a woman who wrote that her 10-year-old girl "was compelled to bury her head under the covers."

Another complaint says the incident was "Much worse than that disaster at the super bowl [sic] with one of the jackson girls." Others suggested that Cyrus needs to be sent to a convent or should be "fined and jailed."

Among the other highlights posted by the website:

-- Cyrus accused of “licking the butt of a stuff bear.”

-- “Humped him like a bitch in heat.”

-- Cyrus was “acting like a devil flicking that tongue as deamons do.”

-- Cyrus’s grinding caused Thicke “to have a slight erection which can be easily noticed through his pants.”

-- “The scars on our childrens minds cannot be easily erased.”

-- Dressed like a “whore,” Cyrus “put her face in a fake butt.”

-- Cyrus “groped a woman’s posterior—without hesitation.”

-- “My daughter was even surprised of Slutty Cyrus.”

-- Singer was guilty of “indicating oral sex, dog sex, etc.”

-- “Just disgusting and almost made me want to puke.”

-- Woman’s 10-year-old niece’s “excitement quickly turned into shock.”

-- “Dry humping, which they call twerking apparently.”

Thumbnail image for miley-cyrus-crude-twerk.pngMiley Cyrus on the MTV Video Music Awards

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Miss America Selection Sparks Backlash

Miss America marked a first with its annual pageant Sunday night. CNN reports that the organization's crowning of Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, made her the first American of Indian descent to become Miss America.

Soon afterward, racist tweets began to proliferate on the Internet, the story reports. Among the comments: "If you're #Miss America you should have to be American." Davuluri is American, the report notes.

Others inaccurately complained that she's Muslim (Davuluri isn't Muslim) and repeated stereotypes about Indians, such as calling her Miss 7-11. Other comments made references to terrorism, such as "Miss America right now or miss Al Qaeda?" and "9/11 was 4 days ago and she gets miss America?"

The 24-year-old Davuluri, who performed a classical Indian dance with Bollywood moves in the talent portion of the competition, wants to be a doctor, following in the footsteps of her father, CNN notes.

It was the second year in a row that Miss New York won the competition.

The report notes: "Something similar happened when Rima Fakih was crowned Miss USA in 2010. Fakih is of Lebanese descent, and many were quick to try to link her to the militant group Hezbollah."

nina-davuluri.pngMiss America: Nina Davuluri

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Justin Bieber's Suggestion About Batman's Robin Gets Fans Upset

Fans of the superhero Batman are up in arms about overtures by pop star Justin Bieber, who has suggested he might play Robin to Ben Affleck's Dark Knight in "Batman vs. Superman," reports the New York Post.

While a few supporters wished Bieber well, the sentiment was overwhelmingly negative on Twitter, the story reports.

"The only things that can defeat Superman are kryptonite, magic, and putting Ben Affleck and Justin Bieber in his movie," one person wrote on Twitter. Another pleaded, "God, please let it be a hoax!"

The furor started when Bieber posted an Instagram photo of what looked like a copy of the movie's screenplay and added the hashtag "#Robin" next to it.

The superhero movie is scheduled to hit theaters in July 2015.

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Paula Deen Makes First Public Appearance Since N-Word Scandal

Paula Deen made her first public appearance since late June, when her career tanked after she admitted in a deposition that she had used a racial slur. The Houston Chronicle reports that the former Food Network star was greated by cheers and a standing ovation in Houston.

"These are tears of joy, y'all," Deen told the audience of about 1,500 at the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show at the Reliant Center. "I've said all along that the one place I'd want to make my first step back out is Texas. Y'all's hearts are as big as your state."

Deen, who is from Georgia, gave two cooking demonstrations, appearing with her sons, Bobby and Jamie Deen. Fans wore sashes and carried placards with her photo to show support for her, the story notes.

"We wanted to step it up because she's had a rough year," said fan Stephanie Young. "We want her back on TV, and we love her."

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for paula-deen.jpgPaula Deen

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'House' Star Gets Lead Role in Bravo Project

One of the leads on the long-running Fox medical drama series "House" has landed the starring role on Bravo's adaptation of "The Girlfriend's Guide to Divorce."

The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Lisa Edelstein, who played Dr. Lisa Cuddy on "House," got the part.

The project is from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" writer and producer Marti Noxon and based on the book series by Vicki Iovine. Edelstein will play Vicki, the best-selling writer of a self-help series who is hiding her break from her husband, the story notes.

Noxon will write the pilot, with Dawn Olmstead, Iovine and The Weinstein Co. TV President Meryl Poster executive producing.

Edelstein is about to appear in a multiple-episode arc on ABC's "Castle" when the drama returns Sept. 23. Since "House" ended its run in May of last year, she has been guest-starring on a number of shows, including "House of Lies" on Showtime and "The Good Wife" on CBS.

If "The Girlfriend's Guide" moves forward, it will mark Edelstein's first regular series role since "House," the report notes.

lisa-edelstein.pngLisa Edelstein

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NFL Delivers Best Numbers in 15 Years for CBS

CBS announced that its Sunday "NFL on CBS" doubleheader, which included the so-called "Manning Bowl III" showdown between quarterback brothers Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos and Eli Manning of the New York Giants, was the highest-rated debut for the CBS national game since the network regained NFL broadcast rights in 1998.

In metered markets, the coverage delivered an overnight 17.8 household rating/34 share, the network reported. The numbers also represented the highest-rated NFL game window of the day, including prime time, CBS announced. The network's late two-game window also included Oakland vs. Jacksonville.

The NFL window's 17.8/34 was up 24% from last year’s 14.4/28 for the New York Jets vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans vs. San Diego Chargers, the network noted.

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Ben Affleck Crime Drama Lands on Broadcast Network

After being pursued by five outlets across broadcast, cable and digital, Ben Affleck's crime drama "The Middle Man" has landed at Fox with a pilot order, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

The project will mark Affleck's television directing debut, with Glenn Gordon Caron serving as showrunner and writing the pilot, the story notes.

"Like most of Affleck’s movies, 'The Middle Man,' from Fox and Pearl Street, takes place in his native Boston. Described as a classic Boston crime story, it is set in the 1960s and tells the story of Rudy MacAteer, an FBI agent charged with taking down the Italian mafia, and his confidential informant, Irish-American gangster Mickey Flood," the story notes.

While Affleck has been approached for directing on TV before, this marks the first time he has committed to direct a pilot, the story notes.

ben-affleck.jpgBen Affleck

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NBCU Continues Management Realignment, Fills Key Posts

The management reorganization continues at NBCUniversal, with the latest changes announced by the media company focused on the ad sales lineup in NBCU's News Group.

"Tom Stevens has been promoted to the newly created role of Senior Vice President, NBCUniversal News Group Sales, where he will have strategic oversight of the sales partnerships for NBC News, CNBC and MSNBC to open doors for new client partnerships," the company announced in a release.

The announcement adds: "Christina Glorioso has joined the company as Senior Vice President, NBCUniversal News Group Advertising Sales Client Solutions, a newly created role, to further develop unique marketing opportunities for clients across the News Group in partnership with relevant NBCUniversal properties. Effective immediately, Stevens and Glorioso will report to Mark Miller, Executive Vice President for Advertising Sales, NBCUniversal News Group, who oversees the News Group Ad Sales division, including strategic sales, pricing and planning, new client development as well as marketing and client solutions."

The company also announced: "Lynne Kraselsky has joined the NBCUniversal News Group in the new position of Vice President, CNBC Sales, where she will be charged with all sales efforts for the network. Filling Stevens’ previous role, Ann Scheiner has been promoted to Vice President, Sales for NBC News and MSNBC, expanding her purview to include oversight of advertising sales for NBC News and MSNBC. Also effective immediately, Kraselsky and Scheiner will report to Stevens."

In the announcement, Miller said: “I’m pleased to be expanding our senior leadership team with these talented executives who have proven experience helping clients develop new ways to reach their customers. These appointments further strengthen our cross-portfolio capabilities and will offer advertisers more opportunities to take advantage of the power of the NBC News portfolio and the larger NBCUniversal portfolio.”

NBCUniversal has been making rapid-fire changes in its executive ranks this month, as previously reported. Among the changes, TV veteran Jeff Shell was placed in charge of Universal Studios and Bravo Media's Frances Berwick added oversight of Oxygen. Additionally, Univision President Cesar Conde was added to the NBCU lineup as executive vice president.

Please click here to read the full press release from NBCUniversal announcing the latest executive moves.

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Attention Writers, Producers and Those in Development: A Tip From Stan Lee, Who Has Co-Created Spider-Man, the Hulk, the X-Men and Iron Man.

By Chuck Ross

Dunno about you, but if I had one superpower to choose, it would be invisibility. I think that’s probably a pretty common choice.

But we here at TVWeek were surprised at which superpower Stan Lee would choose for himself -- and one that he says could be a commercial hit, if one could figure out the visuals.

Here’s what he told The Huffington Post in a recent interview:

HUFFINGTON POST: If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?

STAN LEE: Luck. Because if you're lucky, then everything falls into place. Whatever you want to do, you accomplish. I don't know why nobody has made a superhero who's just lucky. Well, I do know why -- because it isn't visually interesting. But luck would be the greatest power in the world.

stan lee.bmpStan Lee

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Comedy Legend Finally Wins an Emmy and Provides the Emotional Heart of Yesterday's Creative Arts Emmy Ceremony. Plus, Netflix Wins Two Emmys. We Have the Complete List of Winners

A comedy legend has finally won an Emmy, after being nominated seven times.

"Tears of joy rolled down the cheeks of the iconic Bob Newhart, who finally won an Emmy...for his guest stint on CBS’s 'The Big Bang Theory," reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

Newhart's Emmy, presented Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013, during the Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony, was for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series. It was a terrific birthday present for Newhart, who turned 84 just 11 days ago.

To see a full list of the winners of the Creative Arts Emmys, please click here. The list includes two wins by Netflix for "House of Cards." That show won for "Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series" and for "Outstanding Ciinematography for a Single-Camera Series."

Andreeva adds: "Greeted onstage by a standing ovation, an overcome Newhart warned Creative Arts producer Spike Jones he would not comply with the 45-second acceptance rule. 'Spike, I’m gonna need a little more time with this,' he said. 'This is my seventh shot at this.' Newhart then acknowledged his wife of 50 years, proving 'there are long marriages in show business.' He also named his four children and mentioned how he worked for 14 years 'at a wonderful place called MTM. And now I’m working at a wonderful place called "Big Bang Theory." ' He concluded by thanking the show’s cast, 'who really threw themselves on the sword for me.' Newhart was not drowned out by music; he cut himself off."

For producer MTM, Newhart starred in two popular sitcoms that were on CBS: "The Bob Newhart Show" (1972-1978), co-starring Suzanne Pleshette, and "Newhart" (1982-1990), co-starring Mary Frann and Tom Poston. 

In a separate article, Andreeva writes, "After a record losing streak (Newhart had been nominated six times before), he even had his series 'The Bob Newhart Show' and 'Newhart' removed from contention for six years to avoid disappointment. 'Well, this is from your peers,' the low-key but deeply moved Newhart said backstage at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. ... 'When they say you’re good, it means something special.' The comedy icon added that he was 'totally unprepared' for the standing ovation he received from those inside the Nokia. 'I had come to feel that the kind of stuff I do just doesn’t win awards. I just figured that every year, there were better people than me in the category.'"

Newhart added that he expects to return to "The Big Bang Theory," playing either the same part or a different one.

Again, to see a full list of winners of the 2013 Creative Arts Emmys, please click here.

In the network race,  HBO won 20 Emmys, CBS won 15 and NBC won 8. The next highest number of Emmys won was three, a feat accomplished by Cartoon Network, Disney.com, Nickelodeon, PBS and Showtime.

Programmers that won two Creative Arts Emmys, besides Netflix, were CNN, Comedy Central, Discovery, Fox, FX Nets, History and Starz.

In the individual series count, "Behind the Candelabra" (HBO) led with 8 Emmys, followed by the ''66th Annual Tony Awards" (CBS) and "Boardwalk Empire" (HBO), both with 4 honors each. The following series all won three Creative Arts Emmys: "Disney Mickey Mouse Croissant de Triomphe" (Disney.com), "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God" (HBO) and "Saturday Night Live" (NBC).

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NBC Developing CIA Drama

NBC is working with Sony and Davis Entertainment to develop an hourlong drama set at the CIA, Deadline.com reports.

"Written by feature writer Greg Poirier ('National Treasure 2'), 'Wolfe,' which has received a script commitment with penalty, is described as a tongue-in-cheek high-stakes show that sends up the spy genre," Deadline reports. "It centers on an enterprising criminal who discovers the CIA’s biggest agent, Westley Wolfe, is actually a fake, an invented hero meant to distract the public from their recent failures. The criminal assumes the spy’s identity and steps into his sexy world-traveling life. The CIA can’t out him or else they’d be outing themselves."

Executive producing are Poirier, who previously was behind ABC's Ashley Judd vehicle "Missing," and Davis Entertainment’s John Davis and John Fox.

NBC already has a relationship with Davis Entertainment, which the report notes already has two new shows on the NBC fall schedule, "The Blacklist" -- about a criminal working with the FBI -- and "Ironside."

greg-poirier.pngGreg Poirier

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Golden Globes to Honor Legendary Director With Cecil B. DeMille Award

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced that the Cecil B. DeMille Award, to be given out during the 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards Jan. 12, 2014, will be given to director Woody Allen, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The awards ceremony, taking place at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, will air live on NBC.

Said HFPA President Theo Kingma: “There is no one more worthy of this award than Woody Allen. His contributions to filmmaking have been phenomenal and he truly is an international treasure.”

Recent recipients of the DeMille Award have included Jody Foster, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg.

In its announcement the HFPA noted: "Woody Allen is the prolific writer/director of over 45 films including such revered and iconic works as 'Annie Hall,' 'Manhattan,' 'The Purple Rose of Cairo,' and 'Hannah and Her Sisters'; as well as recent critical and box office hits such as 'Match Point,' 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona' and 'Midnight in Paris,' for which he won both the 2012 Golden Globe for Best Screenplay -- Motion Picture and the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay."

Allen's latest effort, “Blue Jasmine,” is currently in theaters.

woody-allen.pngWoody Allen

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Ratings Erosion Continues for NBC's 'Quiz' -- Show Has Steadily Lost Ground on Each of Its First Four Nights

The ratings decline continued Thursday night for NBC's heavily promoted new game show "Million Second Quiz," based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "Quiz" slipped to a 1.1 average in the demo, making it Thursday's lowest-rated prime-time show on the big four broadcast networks, factoring out repeats on NBC itself. The number continued a trend that has been going on all week, with preliminary demo numbers for the show coming in with a 1.7 on Monday, slipping to a 1.5 on Tuesday night and losing ground further with a 1.3 Wednesday.

"Quiz" isn't faring much better in total viewers, either. Thursday's installment delivered a preliminary 4.22 million. Only NBC's other prime-time programming -- two repeats of "Hollywood Game Night" -- fared worse, in either total viewers or adults 18-49. "HGN" had 3.11 million viewers at 9 p.m. (with a 1.0 average in 18-49) and 2.86 million at 10 p.m. (1.0 average, again). Even a repeat of "Wipeout" on ABC, with a 1.3 demo number and 4.32 million total viewers, topped NBC's "Quiz."

TVbytheNumbers notes that numbers for ABC and CBS may be subject to more than the usual adjustments because of Thursday night football telecasts in local markets and may be inflated.

At the other end of the prime-time ratings spectrum, CBS's "Big Brother" claimed the rights to top show of the night with a 2.6 average in viewers 18-49, ticking up one-tenth of a point from last week. CBS also had a 1.7 for its fall preview show.

A repeat of CBS's "The Big Bang Theory" at 8 p.m. came in with the same number as Fox's fresh two-hour "X Factor," with both shows averaging 2.2 ratings in the 18-49 demo. But the number for "X Factor" was enough to push Fox to the top of the heap for prime time overall.

Fox won the night with a 2.2 average in adults 18-49 for prime time, followed by CBS (1.9 average), ABC (1.4), Univision (1.3) and NBC (1.0). Fox just beat out CBS in total viewers, averaging 6.8 million to CBS's 6.7 million, followed by ABC (5.1 million), NBC (3.4 million) and Univision (3.3 million).

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Lindsay Lohan's Mom Arrested

Lindsay Lohan's mother, Dina Lohan, was arrested Thursday night. TMZ.com reports that the 50-year-old was arrested in Long Island, N.Y., on suspicion of drunken driving.

She was arrested after being "pulled over on the Northern State Parkway by New York State Police around 11 pm Thursday night ... after she was allegedly going 77mph in a 55 in her white BMW," the story reports. "During the stop, cops say she appeared intoxicated -- and tested her blood alcohol level, which registered at .20 -- more than twice the legal limit of .08."

Lohan reportedly was booked on two DUI counts and one count of speeding, the report adds.

"According to officials, 'Lohan made an allegation that she was injured during the course of the arrest' ... but when medical personnel responded to the scene and determined she was fine, Dina 'recanted her claim,'" the piece reports.

She was reportedly released soon after being booked, and has a court date later this month.

"Dina's been on a party tear this month -- TMZ obtained a photo of Lohan partying like a drunken sailor at a giant party over Labor Day weekend," the report notes, adding: "People at the party tell us she was a mess that night -- slurring her speech and zoning out."

dina-lohan.pngDina Lohan

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NBCU Snags President of Rival Broadcast Network

NBCUniversal's latest move in its top executive ranks has caught some media watchers by surprise. Multichannel News reports that the company today named Univision President Cesar Conde as executive vice president.

Conde has been president of Spanish-language network Univision since 2009.

"In the newly created position, Conde will focus on business development, strategic priorities and special business projects for NBCUniversal, reporting directly to company CEO Steve Burke, said company officials. Conde, who will serve as a member of the NBCUniversal Executive Committee, will also oversee the International Group led by newly appointed chairman Kevin MacLellan," the story reports.

Under Conde's leadership, "Univision drew record ratings, and this past July finished as the most watched television network among the advertiser coveted 18-49 demo," the report notes. "Prior to Univision, Conde served as the White House Fellow for Secretary of State Colin L. Powell from 2002–2003."

Said NBCUniversal head man Burke: “Cesar is an impressive business executive with both traditional and emerging media expertise. His experience leading multiple domestic and international businesses will be instrumental in maximizing all the opportunities to grow our portfolio."

Univision also announced a number of executive moves today, as we are reporting separately.

cesar-conde.jpgCesar Conde

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Famed Engineer Dead at 80 -- His Name Became an Everyday Term and His Work Changed How We Experience Movies

An engineer whose work had a profound impact on the entertainment industry and on people who watch movies or listen to music has died. Variety reports that Ray Dolby, who founded Dolby Laboratories and brought sweeping innovations in sound engineering, died Thursday in San Francisco. He was 80.

The report notes that Dolby suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and was diagnosed in July with leukemia.

“Dolby pioneered the noise-reducing and surround sound technology used throughout the entertainment industry,” the story notes.

Hollywood sound professionals hailed Dolby’s inventions as the gateway to a new era of motion picture sound.

Said Michael Minkler, lead re-recording mixer at Todd-AO Studios: “‘Star Wars’ changed sound forever. That was the pivotal moment in movie sound. In 1977, when we mixed ‘Star Wars,’ there’s literally no way a movie of that magnitude was ever going to make it without Dolby Noise Reduction.”

Dolby’s innovations set new standards worldwide, and his company became synonymous with modern movie sound quality.

Said his son, filmmaker and novelist Tom Dolby: “Though he was an engineer at heart, my father’s achievements in technology grew out of a love of music and the arts. He brought his appreciation of the artistic process to all of his work in film and audio recording.”

Wylie Stateman, co-founder of Soundelux. added: “Dolby didn’t just create the playing field, he flattened it. Meaning we were free to explore to our wildest dreams but safe in knowing there were standards.

“You weren’t designing sound for one theater,” Stateman added. “You were designing sound for every theater on Earth.”

Both Dolby and his company received a string of honors for their contributions to the entertainment business. Among them, Dolby Laboratories, established in 1965, has received 10 Academy Awards and 13 Emmys, the report notes.

“Among his many honors, [Dolby] personally received the National Medal of Technology from President Clinton in 1997; the Order of Officer of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II in 1987; an Oscar statuette (1989) and an Academy Plaque; several Emmys; and a Grammy,” the story adds.

In 2012 the Kodak Theater, home of the Oscars, was renamed the Dolby Theater. Its ballroom, which traditionally hosts the post-ceremony Governors Ball, was renamed the Ray Dolby ballroom.

“Sound pros still marvel that such an honor went to one of their own,” the story notes.

Dolby parlayed his innovations into financial success, and was said to be worth $2.4 billion at the time of his death.

ray-dolby.jpgRay Dolby

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Report: Cable Channel Going Up for Sale

The owner of a cable channel has taken the first steps toward a sale of the channel, hiring JPMorgan Chase & Co. to get the ball rolling. Bloomberg reports that sports and entertainment company Madison Square Garden is looking to get rid of its music-TV channel Fuse.

The New York-based company said in an emailed statement: “We have been approached by certain parties expressing interest in Fuse and have retained JPMorgan to explore all strategic alternatives.”

“Selling Fuse would let the company’s TV business focus on its more lucrative sports networks, which broadcast New York Knicks and Rangers games,” the story says.

Macquarie Group analyst Amy Yong said Fuse could be worth $300 million to $400 million in a sale, the story notes.

“Shares of Madison Square Garden, which also owns real estate and sports teams, rose 1.6 percent to $55.99 at the close [Thursday] in New York,” the story adds. “The stock has gained 26 percent this year.”

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What 20th TV Has in Mind for the 'Greatest TV Asset of All Time'

A change is in store for a television fixture that 20th Century Fox TV Chairman and CEO Gary Newman called the "greatest television asset of all time." Variety reports that Newman told an investors meeting Thursday that the studio is finally ready to make reruns of “The Simpsons” available on cable.

“‘Simpsons’ has been a staple of broadcast syndication for nearly 20 years and a consistent seller on DVD,” the story says, “but the reruns have never aired on cable.”

Newman made the announcement at a morning Q&A at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Entertainment and Communications confab in Beverly Hills.

“Newman noted that the show has so many episodes that a cabler could air one month’s worth of ‘Treehouse of Horror’ Halloween-themed episodes in October. Or a month of Marge Simpson episodes in May for a Mother’s Day,” the story says.

Said Newman: “‘The Simpsons’ is the greatest television asset of all time -- certainly the greatest in a generation. We figured out that a cable channel could play the series for 52 weeks without having to repeat. The series has only been on broadcast stations. It hasn’t been on Netflix, it hasn’t been on cable. It isn’t as exploited as one would think.”

simpsons-couch.png

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Fallout From 'Anger Management' Spat Between Charlie Sheen and Selma Blair, as Blair Threatens to Sue

Actress Selma Blair is reportedly threatening a retaliation lawsuit against Charlie Sheen and Lionsgate Entertainment after getting the boot from “Anger Management," TMZ.com reports.

The website reports that Blair believes she was targeted after criticizing Sheen “for being a slacker.”

“She repeatedly complained to the crew that everyone had to sit around and wait while Charlie sat in his trailer and learned his lines,” the story says.

Sheen was apparently told of Blair’s comments, leading to her ouster from his FX show.

“Charlie got wind of Selma's beef and she believes that's when the die was cast,” the story reports. “Our sources say Selma's now demanding the $1.2 mil she would have made if she would have continued working ... and if she doesn't get it she's filing a lawsuit.”

TMZ notes that Blair appeared in three or four scenes per show, while Sheen appeared in all 12 scenes per show and had to memorize nearly 50 pages of dialogue per episode.

Said an unnamed source on the show: "When you work 12 hours a day and have 3 girlfriends at home, it's hard to memorize all the lines for tomorrow."

The story adds that lawyers for Blair and Lionsgate are trying to reach a settlement.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Selma-Blair.jpgSelma Blair

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Univision Shakes Up Management Team

On the same day that news broke that its president is headed to a rival network, Univision Networks announced a reorganization of its management team.

Under the new arrangement, "Alberto Ciurana, president of Programming and Content; Isaac Lee, president of News; and Juan Carlos Rodriquez, president of Univision Deportes, will report directly to Randy Falco, president and chief executive officer of Univision Communications, Inc.," the company announced.

Said Falco: “Alberto, Isaac and Juan Carlos are three extraordinarily talented executives with keen insights and deep knowledge of our business, our audiences and what makes our Networks so successful. They are largely responsible for the recent success and tremendous momentum of our Network business. This new management structure provides us with an opportunity to be even more nimble going forward and I look forward to working with the entire Network team and supporting their continued success.”

Also today, NBCUniversal reported that it has hired Cesar Conde, who has been president of Univision Networks since 2009, as we are reporting separately.

Click here to see the full press release from Univision on the latest management restructuring.

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Who's Up and Who's Down, as the Latest Rankings of TV Markets Show Cities Flipping Positions -- Also, How Many TV Households Does the U.S. Have? The New Numbers Are Out, and They Show a Reversal of a Recent Trend

Bucking a trend in the number of U.S. television households, Nielsen's just-released DMA rankings for the 2013-14 season show an increase of 1,637,050, bringing the total to 115,810,740 homes, reports TVNewsCheck.com. The number had been declining for two years.

Ninety-nine markets changed positions and there were a number of significant ups and downs, according to the report. The top 20 markets had four changes, with Orlando, Fla. and Phoenix each moving up a slot.

Phoenix moved into the No. 12 position, knocking Seattle down to No. 13, while Orlando rose to No. 18, pushing Cleveland into the No. 19 spot. The top five markets remain, in order: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Dallas-Fort Worth.

“The biggest mover was Lima, Ohio, which climbed 12 spots, from 199 to 187,” the story says. “Minot-Bismarck, N.D., moved up 6 slots, from 151 to 146, while Austin, Texas, jumped 5 places, from 45 to 40, as did Panama City, Fla. (from 159 to 154).”

Additionally, Charleston, S.C., climbed three positions, from 98 to 95.

"No market declined more than 3 slots, with Youngstown, Ohio, dropping from 110 to 113; Erie, Pa., slipping from 146 to 149; Joplin, Mo., landing at 152, down from 149; and Dothan, Ala., dropping from 169 to 172," the report adds.

The Nielsen rankings list a total of 210 markets, the smallest being Glendive, Mont., with 4,260 TV homes, up from 4,050 last year.

The new rankings officially take effect Sept. 28, according to the story.

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Time Magazine Boss Leaves the Publication for State Department Post

The managing editor of Time magazine is leaving the magazine and is headed to Washington for a post with the Obama administration. The New York Times reports that Richard Stengel will take a position as under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs at the State Department.

“Mr. Stengel succeeds Tara Sonenshine, who held the post with Secretaries of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Kerry before leaving in July,” the story reports.

Prior to Sonenshine’s term, the position was held by Judith A. McHale, former chief executive of Discovery Communications, who worked under Mrs. Clinton until 2011.

“Mr. Stengel has said that his deputy editor, Nancy Gibbs, would succeed him,” the story notes. “Daniel Kile, a spokesman for Time, declined to comment about either job move.”

Stengel, Time’s 16th managing editor, covered the 1988 and 1996 presidential campaigns as a writer and traveled with Secretary Clinton to the Middle East in 2012.

richard-stengel.pngRichard Stengel

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Former 20th and Disney Head Resigns From Legendary Entertainment Board; Veteran TV Producer Will Take His Place

A well-known producer and film executive who is a member of the board of Legendary Entertainment is stepping down after serving a little more than two years. Deadline.com reports that Joe Roth, the former chairman of 20th Century Fox and Walt Disney Studios, is exiting, effective Sept. 25.

“Roth’s departure comes out of a potential governance conflict that he and the company saw could arise from him holding a position on Legendary’s board of directors and as a producer of Legendary Pictures’ upcoming 'Brilliance' and 'Hot Wheels' pics,” the story says.

Tom Werner, co-founder of Carsey Werner -- producers of a string of hits including "The Cosby Show," "3rd Rock" and “That '70s Show” -- and chair of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool Football Club, will replace Roth, who joined the board in June 2011.

In addition to company founder Thomas Tull and soon Werner, former Walt Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook, venture capitalist Jim Breyer and Procter & Gamble CEO and Chairman AG Laffley sit on the Legendary board, according to the story.

joe-roth.jpgJoe Roth

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What Warner Bros.' Mega-Deal With 'Harry Potter' Author Rowling Means for TV

The agreement announced Thursday between Warner Bros. and J.K. Rowling, author of the “Harry Potter” series, involves not only new movies and theme park attractions, but also a television miniseries, The New York Times reports.

As reported yesterday, Rowling will adapt her “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” into a feature film, with Warner Bros. announcing that the movie will be the first in a planned film franchise. Rowling wrote the book as a supplement to the Potter series.

“The studio also said the agreement would permit new attractions and initiatives connected with its ‘Harry Potter’ presence at the Universal Studios theme parks,” The Times notes.

In television, the deal makes Warner the global distributor of a BBC miniseries set for production in 2014 based on Rowling’s first novel aimed at adults, “The Casual Vacancy,” according to The Times.

“The Rowling deal is a significant step for Kevin Tsujihara, who was recently named chief executive of Warner, after a long internal competition for a post being vacated by Barry Meyer,” the report notes.

Warner Bros. began the hugely successful “Harry Potter” film series in 2001 with “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” The final film of the series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2,” released in 2011, earned more than $1.3 billion in worldwide box office.

“Ms. Rowling has broadened her writing since the final Harry Potter book was published in 2007,” the story adds. "‘The Casual Vacancy,’ published last year, featured dark themes like drug addiction and domestic abuse.”

This summer, Rowling published the well-reviewed mystery novel “The Cuckoo’s Calling,” under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

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New CW Project Tackles Sensitive Subject Matter

A new drama project in development for broadcast TV is bound to be closely scrutinized and likely to stir controversy. Deadline.com reports that the project, "ZE," in development at the CW, focuses on a transgender teenager.

Brooklyn-based writer-playwright Kyle Jarrow is writing the script, with Michael London (“Milk,” “Sideways,” “The Illusionist”) executive producing. “ZE” will follow the story of a Texas FTM (female-to-male) and his offbeat family.

“A personal choice takes on controversial public significance when a Texas teenager announces she is transgender and will be living life as a boy,” the story says. “As his dysfunctional family spirals into identity crises of their own, he discovers that he might be the most well-adjusted of them all.”

The series title was chosen for its non-gender-specific reference (like he or she), the story notes.

Jarrow is no stranger to controversial topics; he won an Obie Award at age 24 for his Off-Broadway hit “A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant," a musical satire focusing on Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard.

He also wrote upcoming indie film “Saint Janet” and recently developed “Inside,” a cop drama for FX with Philip Seymour Hoffman’s production company, and “Nowhere,” an adventure drama for MTV, the story notes.

CBS TV Studios will produce.

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Will People Watch a TV Show About People Watching TV? Bravo Is Betting They Will

Reality television appears to have finally come full circle. A TV show about people watching TV has received an order from Bravo Media and will debut next month, B&C reports.

The new half-hour unscripted series, “The People's Couch,” will premiere Oct. 6.

“Based on the U.K. show ‘Gogglebox,’ the three-episode limited series will feature the same households watching and commenting on popular TV shows from the last week in their homes,” the story reports.

Said Bravo VP of Development Lara Spotts: "'The People's Couch' is a funny, unfiltered comment on America's current TV viewing habits. Continuing Bravo's tradition of serving up pop culture in fresh, new ways, this series taps into everyone's desire to know what others think about the shows they are watching."

Studio Lambert and All3Media America are producing the series, with Stephen Lambert, Eli Holzman, Tania Alexander and Aliyah Silverstein exec-producing.

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Report: This Cable Network's Ratings Have Slid Since It Licensed a Number of Its Shows to Netflix

“If there was anybody out there who still didn’t believe that SVOD hurt kids ratings, this should put a final end to that debate,” writes Sanford Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger. Juenger is quoted in an article in Variety by Todd Spangler.

According to the Variety piece, "Since Cartoon Network content became available on Netflix on March 30, 2013, ratings in Netflix households have been 10% lower versus viewership in non-Netflix households. Adult Swim viewership is 18% lower among Netflix homes."

The article adds: "In January 2013, Turner inked a deal with Netflix that included shows on Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. Now nearly half of programs running on Cartoon are also available on the streaming service..."

The story reports: "Overall, Cartoon’s ratings have dropped 23% from April to July on a year-to-year basis and the trend is getting worse, according to Juenger, with July ratings down 40% from the year prior.

"In a statement, Cartoon Network said it had previously assumed that providing kids content to Netflix would cause a decline of 3% to 5% in viewership nationally. In fact, the Bernstein report shows that overall, the network’s ratings dropped overall by 3% because of Netflix, based on the assumption that 30% of Cartoon’s viewers subscribe to the service."

To read more details on this, we urge you to click on our link in the first paragraph, above, which will take you to Spangler's piece in Variety.

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Following in the Footsteps of Esquire, a Well-Known 'Laddie' Magazine That Targets Young Men Plans to Launch Its Own Cable Network. Music Label Too

One of the best-known of the "laddie" magazines targeted to young men plans to start its own cable network, reports The Wall Street Journal. [NOTE: The WSJ is behind a firewall and may charge you to read this article.]

Says the article, "The owners of Maxim Magazine have agreed to sell the men's magazine to a media group led by Calvin Darden, in a deal aimed at expanding the men's lifestyle brand to cable television and to music production.

"In an interview, Mr. Darden said his newly formed Darden Media Group plans to create a Maxim-branded TV channel. He says he has already reached one distribution agreement with a pay-TV operator, and plans to complete two more in the weeks ahead. Mr. Darden is aiming to distribute the new channel to approximately 35 million households by year-end. He also plans to launch an independent music label based on Maxim."

The article adds, "Maxim magazine is one of the best known of a crop of male-focused 'lad [or laddie] mags,' which like other magazines, have suffered from readers' flight to the Internet and a broader decline in print advertising. Lately, the magazine has attempted to reinvent itself as a multi-media company, expanding to platforms like online video and Microsoft's Xbox gaming console."

The story also notes: "The move comes as other titles, notably Hearst Corp.'s Esquire magazine, look to television partnerships for a boost as traditional revenue sources like advertising and circulation face an industrywide decline."

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Major Fox Series Premieres to an All-Time Low Rating; NBC's 'Quiz' Continues to Lose Ground

A major Fox series premiered Wednesday night to the show's lowest rating of all time, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

The show is "The X Factor," which delivered a series-low 2.1 average in 18-49 for its one-hour season three premiere at 8 p.m., TVbytheNumbers.com reports. The number was well below the 3.4 turned in by last year's season premiere, and below the 2.7 that episode delivered in the 8 p.m. hour.

But the number for "X Factor," combined with a 2.4 for its lead-out, the season finale of "MasterChef" (up two-tenths of a point from last week, but down two-tenths from last year's finale), was enough to give Fox a comfortable ratings win on a night when much of the broadcast schedule consisted of repeat programming. "MasterChef" wound up as the top show of the night.

CBS put up a fresh "Big Brother" against the "X Factor" premiere at 8 p.m. and eked out a narrow win for the hour with a 2.2 average in the 18-49 demo, slipping one-tenth from last week. Repeats of "Criminal Minds" (1.1 average) and "CSI" (1.2) filled out CBS's prime time.

NBC continues to see the numbers fall for its heavily promoted game show "Million Second Quiz." Airing against "Big Brother" and the "X Factor" premiere, Wednesday's third installment of "Quiz" dropped to a 1.2 average, down from a 1.5 Tuesday night and a 1.7 for Monday's opener.

Leading out from "Million Second Quiz," NBC's "America's Got Talent" managed a 2.1 -- down two-tenths from a week ago and equaling the show's season low while losing the hour by three-tenths to the "MasterChef" finale. NBC wrapped its prime-time lineup with "Camp" at 10 p.m., settling for a 0.9 in the 18-49 demo -- tying the series low.

ABC went will a lineup of repeat programs and finished off the pace.

The numbers for prime time overall show Fox on top in adults 18-49 with a 2.2 average rating, followed by CBS (1.5 average), NBC (1.4), Univision (1.3) and ABC (1.0). Things are quite a bit tighter in total viewers, where Fox's 6.182 million is barely ahead of NBC's 6.177 million, with CBS's 5.916 million in the ballpark. Trailing are ABC with 3.558 million, and Univision with 3.375 million.

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CBS Renews a Reality Staple

In news that will come as no surprise to industry watchers, CBS has renewed a reality show that has been a staple of the unscripted television landscape for well over a decade. Deadline.com reports that the network will bring back "Big Brother" next year for its 16th cycle.

"Additionally, live, late-night companion show 'Big Brother: After Dark,' which moved from Showtime to new CBS sibling TVGN this summer, has been renewed for another installment on the basic cable network," the report notes.

Deadline adds: "'Big Brother,' which recently marked its 500th episode, is averaging 7.29 million viewers and 2.6 ratings in adults 18-49 this summer. Despite impact from the prolonged blackout on Time Warner Cable, the reality veteran is up +11% in viewers and +8% in adults 18-49 vs. last summer."

Season 15, currently under way, is set to wrap with a 90-minute finale Wednesday, Sept. 18, leading out from the season premiere of "Survivor," the report notes.

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Julie Chen Reveals She Had Surgery to Correct 'Asian Eyes'

Julie Chen, the host of CBS's "Big Brother" and moderator and co-host of the network's daytime show "The Talk," revealed that early in her career she had surgery on her eyes after running into obstacles because of what was described as "Asian eyes," USA Today reports.

The revelation on "The Talk" came as part of the show's "secret" week, which previously produced a blockbuster revelation from co-host Sharon Osbourne.

Said Chen: "My secret dates back to -- my heart is racing -- it dates back to when I was 25 years old and I was working as a local news reporter in Dayton, Ohio."

She said she asked the news director if she could fill on for other anchors during their vacations.

Chen added: "And he said, 'You will never be on this anchor desk, because you're Chinese.' He said, 'Let's face it Julie, how relatable are you to our community? How big of an Asian community do we really have in Dayton? ... On top of that because of your heritage, because of your Asian eyes, I've noticed that when you're on camera, when you're interviewing someone you look disinterested and bored because your eyes are so heavy, they are so small.'"

Describing the comments as "racism," Chen said they "felt like a dagger in my heart," because she was working toward a career in broadcasting.

When she later met with agents, she said, one "big-time agent" told her, "I cannot represent you unless you get plastic surgery to make your eyes look bigger. And I did it."

Chen unveiled before-and-after photos of herself, saying the surgery had dramatic results. "The eyes are bigger," she said. "I look more alert ... more expressive."

Chen, 43, said she has since moved on, adding: "No one's more proud of being Chinese than I am."

julie-chen-before-and-after.pngJulie Chen, before and after eye surgery

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Summer Hit Doing Big Business Internationally

The most-watched series of this summer in the United States is also racking up big numbers in the international marketplace.

CBS's "Under the Dome" is set to air its season-one finale Monday, Sept. 16, and has been picked up by the network for a second season in summer 2014. The network reports that the show is averaging 14.85 million viewers with a 3.9 rating and 11 share in adults 18-49, based on Nielsen figures.

Nielsen estimates that 53.4 million viewers have watched all or part of the series domestically during the summer.

"Dome" will be widely distributed by CBS Studios International, with more than 200 territories on board, the network reports. In countries where it has already premiered, a number of highlights have been noted.

Among them, according to a network announcement:

"In Canada, 'Under the Dome,' on Global, has been the #1 series on Canadian television since its debut."

"In the United Kingdom, 'Under the Dome' has been the #1 series on Channel 5 since its debut."

"In Australia, 'Under the Dome' is the highest-rated U.S. drama this year on Network Ten across key demos, total persons and persons 25-54."

"In Spain, 'Under the Dome' had the best international series premiere in Antena3 channel history and the best international series debut on Spanish free TV in three years."

Please click here for additional highlights in the full press release.

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U.S.-Born Jihadi Rapper Reportedly Killed

A militant jihadist born in Alabama to a Southern Baptist mother and a Syrian Sunni Muslim immigrant father has reportedly been killed by fellow militants. Time magazine reports that Omar Hammami, known as Al-Ameriki and “the rapping jihadi,” was killed today in Somalia.

The 29-year-old Hammami gained attention because of his American roots and his apparent fondness for the spotlight, which Time says created friction between him and other militants.

Hammami had gone to Somalia "to wage jihad with the group that apparently put him to death," the story reports, adding that he was killed "along with a British citizen of Pakistani descent known as Osama al-Britani, after forming a splinter faction from al-Shabab, the al Qaeda-affiliated militant group that had been hunting him for months, according to Hammami."

The report notes that al-Shabab tweeted last year about Hammami's “narcissistic pursuit of fame.”

The story reports: "When Shabab fighters closed in on Hammami in the Bay and Bakool area of southern Somalia, the men apparently fell victim to the internecine conflict typical both of radical political groups and of Somalia, which has had no functional central government since 1991. Various clans and neighboring nations still dominate the major cities, while al-Shabab, which translates as The Youth, is confined to the scrubby, sandy countryside where the firefight erupted early Thursday, outside the village of Dinsoor, according to the BBC."

The report adds: "True to form, Hammami had countered earlier reports of his death (including one that claimed he was done in by a U.S. drone) by releasing videos and hip-hop tracks. 'Just been shot in neck by shabab assassin. not critical yet,' he tweeted in April. The State Department offered $5 million for information leading to his capture."

omar-hammami.pngOmar Hammami

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Prime-Time and Late-Night Personality Joins NBC's 'Today' Show

A TV personality who is a familiar face in late-night is joining the team on a show at the other end of the daily programming cycle, NBC's "Today" show. USA Today quotes "Today's" Matt Lauer saying Carson Daly is "officially joining our family."

Daly has previously filled in on the show and has made a number of appearances during the past several months, the piece notes.

"Daly, 40, who is the host of 'The Voice' and 'Last Call with Carson Daly,' acknowledged that people 'associate me with nighttime, but I'm really a morning person,' he said," the story reports.

Daly added: "This feel likes a new era of 'Today.'"

Daly will launch a new feature on the show, "The Orange Room," focused on social media. "I'll be your digital doorman," Daly said.

Daly, who formerly hosted "TRL," called the "Today" show "'TRL' for grownups," adding: "I feel like I've been adopted by the first family."

"Sitting with Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker, Natalie Morales, Hoda Kotb, Willie Geist and Kathie Lee Gifford (who were all squeezed in on a couch), Daly cracked, 'This feels like an intervention,'" the story reports.

Daly noted that he plans to continue his weekly radio show, but he did not comment on plans for his late-night show.

carson-daly.jpgCarson Daly

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Mega-Movie Deal Will Bring a New Film Franchise to Theaters, Set in the 'Harry Potter' Universe, From 'Potter' Author J.K. Rowling

"Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling is teaming with Warner Bros. to launch a new film franchise set in the world of "Potter," the New York Daily News reports.

The first film in the series, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," will be penned by Rowling, the story reports. The movie will be set in New York City, taking place 70 years before the story of Harry Potter.

"The studio announced a massive new partnership with the the British author to produce a new film franchise set on the world created in the Potter books -- with the story kicking off in the most magical of places, New York City," the story reports. The series will not include Daniel Radcliffe's Harry Potter.

"The first movie in the budding franchise -- inspired by a Hogwarts textbook title, 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,' written by the fictional Newt Scamander, from the original series -- will be scripted by Rowling, who is making her screenwriting debut," the report notes.

In a statement, Rowling said: "Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for seventeen years, 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world."

The author added: "The laws and customs of the hidden magical society will be familiar to anyone who has read the Harry Potter books or seen the films."

The eight "Harry Potter" movies grossed $7.7 billion in worldwide box office receipts, ranking as the most lucrative film franchise in history, according to the report. The piece adds that Rowling's seven "Harry Potter" books sold 450 million copies, being translated into 74 languages.

"Rowling said she was intrigued by the idea of focusing on the adventures of Scamander, whose grandson, Rolf, ends up marrying fan favorite Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter series," the story reports.

Adds Rowling: “Having lived for so long in my fictional universe, I feel very protective of it and I already knew a lot about Newt."

Also in the works as part of the new pact: new video games and an increased presence for figures from the "Potter" universe at theme parks.

jk-rowling.jpgJ.K. Rowling

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NBC Preaches Patience on the 'Social Experiment' That Is 'Million Second Quiz' -- Especially After 'Huge Glitch on Opening Night'

NBC’s 24/7 live trivia game show “Million Second Quiz” opened to just OK numbers Monday night, and the show, hosted by Ryan Seacrest, drew criticism from viewers trying to play along at home after the server supporting the show crashed under the strain, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

“Following a rare company-wide promotion across all NBCUniversal platforms, NBC quickly increased the server capacity to prevent alienating at-home players eyeing a chance to be flown to New York to compete on the live broadcast,” the story reports. “Tuesday's broadcast -- facing reduced competition -- dipped two-tenths of a point in the demo, registering a 1.5 rating.”

“Million Second Quiz” will air nightly (except Sundays) through Sept. 19 and is being used as a promotion for NBC’s 2013-14 lineup.

THR spoke to Paul Telegdy, NBC’s president of alternative and late-night programming, to get his take on the show's performance so far.

Said Telegdy: “This is a show that is viral, so we're tracking all sorts of other metrics beyond the ratings about people's engagement and their involvement with the show. We had a huge glitch on opening night with the play-along-at-home app, which was driven by a surge in demand that we hadn't anticipated.”

The network exec added: "I think every person in America can remember a moment in their life when they experienced frustration with a piece of new technology."

Commenting on the show's early ratings results, Telegdy indicated he expects the audience to grow. "You ask a television executive if he wants more ratings than he got and there's not a single show to which that doesn't apply -- every time we wake up wishing we got more," Telegdy said, adding: "When you think of the touch points we have on a show like 'Million Second Quiz,' the benefits to the company are a bit more than the rating."

Telegdy added: "This is a show that is a progressive competition in terms of the amount of money at stake. The stakes grow with every second that passes. The understanding of the social experiment component and the endurance component -- which is winner's row -- people are just getting to grips with what it means, both the contestants and the viewers. … We have hundreds of thousands of actively engaged participants on the digital side and have people who are starting to understand the game. Every hour that passes, they'll care more about these contestants whose journeys they'll want to follow. That takes time."

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Who Will 'Elementary's' Lucy Liu Be Hooked Up With When She Tries Online Dating? Hint: He Recently Won a Tony for a Hit Musical -- and He's Been Seen With the Mother From 'How I Met Your Mother'

Lucy Liu's character on the CBS series "Elementary" is about to make her first attempt at online dating, and EW.com reports that Joan will meet a man played by Broadway star Steve Kazee.

Kazee won a Tony in 2012 as one of two leads in the original cast of the musical “Once," which racked up a batch of Tonys itself, including best musical.

So will Joan find what she's looking for? Well, there's a hitch: “Sherlock’s (Jonny Lee Miller) views on relationships -- particularly Internet matchmaking -- may mar the courtship before it even has the chance to get off the ground,” the story says.

Before his star turn in the hit musical, Kazee appeared in the TV series “Working Class” and had bit parts on “CSI” and “NCIS.” His “Once” co-star Cristin Milioti -- who was nominated for a Tony herself for "Once" -- is now the mother on "How I Met Your Mother."

The "Elementary" episode, “We Are Everyone,” is set to air in October. “Elementary” returns Sept. 26.

steve-kazee.jpgSteve Kazee

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'Glee' Alum Lands Lead in TV Movie

An upcoming TV movie will star an actor from the Fox series "Glee," who will also write a song for the movie. TheWrap.com reports that "Rocky Road," in the works at the cable network UP, will star Mark Salling, who played the bad boy Puck on “Glee.”

Scott Thompson (“Hannibal,” “Kids in the Hall”) and “SNL” alum Robin Duke will also star, according to the story.

“In the movie, which began production outside of Toronto this week, Salling will play Harrison Burke, a trader at a prestigious Wall Street investment bank who’s living high on the hog until a round of downsizing renders him unemployed,” the story reports.

Telling his parents he’s on vacation, Burke moves back home and takes a job with his father’s ice cream truck business in a small New Hampshire town.

The story notes that Salling will also write and record a song for the film.

Said Barbara Fisher, UP senior VP of original programming: “‘Rocky Road’ is a funny, timely story about a man whose charmed life melts away, forcing him to reconnect to his past, his family and his hometown.”

Tippi and Neal Dobrofsky (“Window Wonderland,” “Goodnight for Justice”) wrote the film for Entertainment One. Brian K. Roberts (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) will direct, with Entertainment One’s John Moranyniss and Ira Pincus executive producing.

mark-salling.pngMark Salling

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Jimmy Fallon Strikes Again -- This Time the Target Is 'Breaking Bad' (Here's the Video)

Jimmy Fallon has unleashed a video clip parodying "Breaking Bad" and its protagonist Walter White -- right down to the tighty whities. Like most of Fallon's parodies, the new 13-minute clip, "Joking Bad," is worth a look.

Here it is:

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CBS's Moonves on the Time Warner Blackout: 'No Harm Done'

Les Moonves commented on the 32-day CBS/Time Warner Cable blackout, saying the scuffle between the two companies did no damage to CBS, Deadline.com reports.

According to the story, the company chief spoke at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference, telling investors, “You will see at our third quarter earnings that there was no harm done to CBS Corporation.”

Moonves added: “It didn’t hurt us one iota financially. ... August is our slowest time in prime time." Commenting on the network's national advertisers, he noted: "Everybody hung in there.”

Moonves did have a few choice words for Time Warner, the story notes. “These are the guys who show up six hours late for an installation," he said.

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Oscar-Winning Actress and Rock Legends -- Including a Piano Man and a Guitar Master -- Among Kennedy Center Honorees

The organizers of the Kennedy Center Honors have taken the wraps off the list of recipients of the 36th annual awards, set to be handed out in a ceremony to be broadcast Dec. 29 on CBS. The recipients include guitarist Carlos Santana and piano man Billy Joel, along with Shirley MacLaine, who won an Oscar in 1984 for "Terms of Endearment."

Also to be honored are opera singer Martina Arroyo and keyboardist Herbie Hancock. CBS has televised the ceremony each year since its inception.

Please click here to read the full press release announcing this year's awards.

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Is Viewer Tolerance for 30-Second Online Ads Improving? Here Are the Numbers

Online video viewing is up, and it's increasingly shifting from the living room to mobile devices, according to a report by MediaPost citing new data from FreeWheel.

Meanwhile, the 30-second ad spot appears to be gaining acceptance online.

"The 30-second ad spot -- historically the most common ad length in broadcast TV -- has become increasingly prevalent in digital video over the past four quarters," the piece reports. "In fact, 50% of ad views are now 30-second ads -- up from 43% last year."

Said Doug Knopper, co-founder and co-CEO of FreeWheel: “This trend indicates increased viewer comfort watching 30-second ads online, movement of linear TV creative to digital video environments, and more effective digital inventory management by publishers looking to better reflect the TV ad experience."

The report adds: "Thirty-second ads now comprise almost 50% of all ad views, with viewers completing 15- and 30-second ads at nearly identical rates."

Online platforms continue to experiment in an effort to find the right mix of content and advertising, the piece notes, citing different approaches by digital-only distributors and those who have moved into digital from traditional outlets.

"Over the past year, digital pure-play networks drove over 80% of ad views from short-form content," the story reports, "while linear-cum-digital publishers like NBC and ESPN monetized a more diverse content mix, the online video technology firm found."

Citing FreeWheel's findings, the report notes: "Year-over-year, long-form ad loads for traditional-cum-digital publishers rose 12%, while mid- and short-form ad loads remained flat."

FreeWheel's data also spotlights the shift from linear TV -- “living room” viewing -- to "anytime, anywhere, any device viewing," the piece reports.

"Overall video view growth increased 38% year-over-year, largely driven by tablets and mobile phones," MediaPost reports. "Mobile continues to show strong growth, comprising 13.2% of all views in the second quarter of the year. However, monetization has been a challenge, with mobile totaling only 5.6% of total ad views. Tablets and 'over the top' devices (from gaming consoles to set-top boxes like Roku) are more aligned with TV-style viewing habits, with long-form content generating approximately 45% of total ad views."

The FreeWheel study reportedly examined about 18 billion video views during the second quarter of 2013.

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Big-Screen Version of 'Entourage' Delayed -- Who Gets the Blame?

The big-screen version of “Entourage” has been delayed, the New York Post's Page Six reports, adding that the holdup is caused by cast members seeking bigger paychecks for the movie.

“The long-awaited film based on the hit HBO show was due to go into production in May,” the story says, “but it’s been on hold while producers try to agree on deals with key members of the cast, Page Six has exclusively learned.”

Plans for the “Entourage” movie were announced in January 2012. A year later, producer Mark Wahlberg said the script was done and plans were made to go into production in May.

“Wahlberg said he’d originally hoped to start shooting as early as May this year so the flick could be released in April or May 2014,” the story reports.

Wahlberg also noted that the plot would focus on the show's familiar leading characters -- Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), Vince Chase (Adrian Grenier), Eric “E” Murphy (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and Johnny “Drama” Chase (Kevin Dillon).

HBO’s “Entourage” series ended its run in 2011.

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Facebook's Huge Prime-Time Number -- and What Its 'Critical Mass' Means for Television

The head of strategic partnerships at Facebook indicated that the potential now exists to ramp up collaboration between the social-media site and key players in television -- now that up to 100 million Facebook users are logging in during prime time, B&C reports.

“During a keynote address at the Next TV Summit, Nick Grudin, Facebook's head of strategic partnerships, highlighted the growing importance of the TV industry in the social media giant's future strategy and Facebook's push to offer TV players better tools to help them engage viewers,” the story reports.

Some 88 million to 100 million Facebook users log in nightly during prime time, according to the story.

Said Grudin during a keynote speaker interview with Multichannel News editor-in-chief Mark Robichaux: “Social media activity on Facebook has also reached ‘a critical mass’ for effective collaboration with TV players.”

“One example of that critical mass was the fact that some 9 million people were interacting on Facebook around the ‘MTV Video Music Awards’ and that around 10 million viewed the program on TV,” the story notes.

Said Grudin: "We are only at the very beginning of figuring out how social and TV work together and are just beginning to figure out how to deliver value. With the new APIs, we are trying to give the industry tools to drive its own success.”

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'Daily Show's' John Oliver Books Prime-Time Gig

John Oliver, who just wrapped a stint on Comedy Central as Jon Stewart’s summer replacement on “The Daily Show,” has a gig lined up in prime time. TheWrap.com reports that Oliver will reprise his role as Professor Ian Duncan on “Community.”

Oliver will appear in at least six episodes of the NBC comedy.

“The British comedian has played the role on both Season 1 and Season 2,” the story says. “Ian Duncan is an old client-turned-friend of Jeff’s (Joel McHale) from his previous career as an attorney. At Greendale Community College, Ian teaches psychology.”

Walton Goggins (“Justified”), Jonathan Banks (“Breaking Bad”) and Rob Corddry (“Childrens Hospital”) will also appear in the upcoming season.

“Showrunner and creator Dan Harmon returned for the season after being fired before Season 4,” the story notes. “He will be joined by returning writer/executive producer Chris McKenna.”

Thumbnail image for john-oliver.pngJohn Oliver

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Some Fan Favorites Joining Kiefer Sutherland as Cast Members on '24' Reboot

Actors are starting to be cast for the upcoming reboot of Fox's "24."

First came word that the most popular star of the show -- after lead actor Kiefer Sutherland, who plays the iconic Jack Bauer -- Mary Lynn Rajskub, will be back. She plays Chloe O'Brian.

Now we're told that season 4 favorite Kim Raver, who plays Audrey Raines, will also be back, reports our good friend Michael Ausiello in an exclusive story at TVLine.com.

Ausiello writes: "Raver joined '24' in season 4 and remained through season 6. When last seen ... Audrey was in something of a vegetative state after being tortured and injected with mind-altering drugs by her Chinese captors -- a development that led her father James Heller (William Devane) to forbid Jack from ever seeing his daughter again.

"Exec producer Howard Gordon later confirmed that, 'Audrey is so not dead. She’s not even in a coma. In my opinion, she is at the very worst in a psychiatric facility, but she may also be married to a contractor in Virginia who has a child.' "

Ausiello also notes, " '24: Live Another Day,' slated to launch in the spring, will essentially be '24' 'compressed over 12  weeks,' Fox President Kevin Reilly previously explained. 'It will go chronologically over the day, but it will skip hours.'"

kiefer-sutherland-kim-raver-24.jpgKiefer Sutherland and Kim Raver on "24"

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From Our 'No Good Deed Goes Unpunished' File: L.A. City Attorney Accused of Jury Tampering on Case. The Juror Involved? Tom Hanks. Yep, Two-Time Oscar Winner Tom Hanks

"Even when he’s trying to just fit in, actor Tom Hanks seems to become the center of attention," reports Ric Orlov in the Los Angeles Daily News.

The story continues, "The two-time Oscar winner was serving on a jury for a domestic violence case in downtown Los Angeles this week when the case was suddenly settled on Wednesday amid allegations of jury tampering.

"The alleged tampering happened when a staff member with the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office approached Hanks during a break to offer her thanks for his serving on the jury, according to the defense attorney on the case."

The article adds, "'She might have been a little star-struck or was just being nice, but it’s an absolute no-no to approach a juror,' said Andrew Flier, the attorney for defendant Oleh Yemets."

The article explains what happened next: "Yemets was facing up to a year in jail and potential deportation to Russia if convicted of the accusations of a misdemeanor attack on his girlfriend. Instead, after the Hanks incident was disclosed, raising questions about jury tampering, a deal was struck under which Yemets agreed to pay a $150 fine to a charge of disturbing the peace."

It's not known how Hanks would have voted on the case had it eventually been given to the jury to decide. 

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'Breaking Bad' Spinoff Gets Green Light

After months of rumors, it is now official: AMC's acclaimed drama series "Breaking Bad" will have a spinoff. The Los Angeles Times reports that the new show, "Better Call Saul," has received a green light -- just as "Breaking Bad" is in its endgame.

The new show will focus on not-always-ethical attorney Saul Goodman.

"'Better Call Saul' will feature Bob Odenkirk as Goodman in a one-hour series that is being positioned as a prequel to 'Breaking Bad,' focusing on Goodman before he became the lawyer for chemistry-teacher-turned-criminal Walter White," the Times reports. "AMC and Sony Pictures Television announced the deal in a joint statement."

The announcement did not offer additional details.

"Vince Gilligan, who is the creator of 'Breaking Bad,' has said in several interviews that he wanted to base a show around Goodman after 'Breaking Bad' ended its run," the report notes.

bob-odenkirk2.jpgBob Odenkirk

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Behind the Scenes of the NBCU Shakeup: Infighting and Corporate Intrigue

A shakeout among top executives at NBCUniversal that has been playing out in the past week is filled with corporate intrigue, according to a report by Kim Masters in The Hollywood Reporter.

After changes in the cable division surfaced earlier this week, a bigger shoe fell Tuesday when veteran Ron Meyer had the rug pulled out from under his long tenure as head of the company's film studio.

Masters reports: "For many months, industry executives had been shaking their heads over how NBCUniversal had marginalized Ron Meyer, the long-reigning chief of Universal Studios. Some believed Meyer's 18-year run finally might be over. But in August, NBCU CEO Steve Burke secretly invited Meyer to his house in Montana for fishing, horseback riding and a rapprochement. Meyer, 68, emerged with the title of vice chairman of NBCU and a contract extended to 2017."

Burke reportedly informed Meyer that Jeff Shell, the chairman of NBCU International and a Comcast insider, would be named chairman of the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group.

Meanwhile, infighting between Donna Langley and Adam Fogelson reportedly reached a boiling point.

"In the subsequent shuffle, studio chairman Adam Fogelson, who had been enjoying a run of success, abruptly was dismissed Sept. 9 and replaced by co-chairman Donna Langley, who had been seen as standing on shakier ground than Fogelson," Masters writes. "Industry observers say these outcomes result from a combination of pragmatism on the part of the suits at NBCU and the most old-fashioned type of corporate intrigue within Universal. They say Burke recognized that Shell -- a TV executive who lacks film experience -- needs Meyer to serve as his mentor in Hollywood."

Masters adds: "The resulting shakeup is the first big move at the studio since Comcast acquired NBCU in 2011. Sources say Burke had come to recognize that finding a strong candidate to run Universal was no simple feat. At the same time, Burke and Comcast CEO Brian Roberts were seen as eager to put one of their own in charge -- a well-regarded, no-nonsense executive with a Harvard MBA. (A source says Shell has made it clear that he feels no burning desire to mingle with celebrities.)"

The piece notes that other TV executives who have tried to move into top film positions -- Gail Berman at Paramount and Rich Ross at Disney, to name two -- have had short tenures.

The report quotes a Universal veteran saying: "In order for Jeff Shell to succeed, you have to make sure there isn't someone trying to kill him and there's someone who can help him."

Commenting on the Disney situation, the source adds: "If Ross would have had [former studio boss Dick Cook] there, things would have been different."

According to Masters, Fogelson and Langley were each trying to get the other fired. "Fogelson was preparing a presentation to Burke on why Langley should go, while Langley had a contract negotiation coming up and expressed reluctance to continue with Fogelson in the job," Masters writes. "Universal declined comment, but insiders say Meyer favored Langley -- who had more production experience -- and had wanted to give her the chairman's job following the dismissal of studio heads Marc Shmuger and David Linde in 2009. But Fogelson, who had been a strong head of marketing, had the leverage to demand a promotion."

Said one source: "Adam made clear that if he wasn't in line, he would leave."

We encourage you to click on the link to THR at the top of this story to read the rest of Masters' insightful report.

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Fox Developing Terrorism Drama

Fox is developing a drama project focused on terrorism. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the network picked up a script for the character-based thriller "Far From the Tree."

"From 'Switched at Birth' executive producer Becky Hartman Edwards and 'Gangster Squad's' Ruben Fleischer, the drama will center on the family members whose lives are turned upside down when their eldest son is involved in a large-scale eco-terrorist attack," the story reports. "The show centers on the parents and siblings of the eco-terrorist as they deal with the FBI, media and community at large, all while unraveling the complex mystery as to how and why one of their own became so radicalized."

Hartman Edwards, whose credits include "Parenthood," "Larry Sanders" and "Sex and the City," will write the script and will executive produce along with Fleischer for 20th Century Fox TV, the piece notes.

"For Fleischer, this marks the 'Gangster Squad' director's second sale this development season," THR adds. "He's also teaming with 'How to Make It in America' creator Ian Edelman for Fox comedy 'F.O.M.O. (Fear of Missing Out).' Repped by UTA and Sloane Offer, Fleischer is currently producing the feature 'Two Night Stand.' His credits also include directing 'Zombieland' and '30 Minutes or Less.'"

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Streaming Service Blames CBS After Being Cited for Contempt of Court

In an ongoing legal battle over a streaming website that has been compared to the higher-profile Aereo case, an attorney for FilmOn and its CEO, Alki David, is pointing the finger at CBS after David and the company were hit with a contempt of court order, Deadline.com reports.

As we reported last week, FilmOn, or FilmOnX, was dealt a setback last week when a judge sided with broadcasters in their dispute with the site, issuing a temporary injunction ordering the site to shut down across much of the country.

In a subsequent development Tuesday, Deadline reports, "a NYC-based judge agreed with a July 29 request from CBS and ordered that David’s free-TV-over-the-Internet service pay up what it still owes on a $1.6 million copyright infringement and injunction settlement reached last July. As well, the judge ordered that David and FilmOn cease violating portions of that agreement. Additionally, with no third party evidence produced to confirm that he has the rights to the material, David is to halt FilmOn’s VOD service."

U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald also wrote that she found “FilmOn and David in contempt for violating the Stipulated Consent Judgment and Permanent Injunction," the story reports.

Responding to that contempt finding, a lawyer for FilmOn, Ryan Baker, provided a statement pointing the finger at CBS.

Dominic Patten reported Tuesday on Deadline: "Today’s contempt of court order against streaming service FilmOn and its CEO Alki David was based on missing information, claims the company’s lawyer Ryan Baker. In a statement sent to me this evening, Baker says CBS’ legal reps were given the VOD licensing agreement requested by the federal court but that document was not passed on to the judge."

The statement from Baker says in part: "The court’s ruling holding FilmOn and Mr. David in contempt is based on the contention that they failed to produce licensing agreements to plaintiffs on or before August 21, 2013, pursuant to the court’s order. But a licensing agreement was produced by me on August 20, 2013. I emailed that agreement to counsel for CBS, who confirmed receipt. I requested in the accompanying email that counsel for CBS contact me to discuss that agreement. I was not contacted in response to that request. Counsel for CBS failed to notify the court of the document it obtained."

Baker adds that FilmOn and David have acted in good faith in the case, and are "evaluating their next move."

The judge wrote in the Tuesday ruling: “FilmOn and David are hereby ordered to forthwith deliver to plaintiffs’ counsel the sum of $1,350,000, plus interest at the statutory rate, the costs of collection, and reasonable attorneys’ fees.”

Patten adds in his Deadline report: "David said in early August 2012 that CBS 'renegged' on the agreement by releasing it in a way designed to embarrass him. Not according to Buchwald. The judge also ruled that the company and the billionaire digital media entrepreneur had to take down, as agreed in the July 2012 settlement, sites like www.cbsyousuck.com and remove other online material slagging and attacking the broadcaster. Sure thing your Honor, but the parties in this case being who they are, expect more twists and legal turns before the dust settles on this one."

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NBC Rolls to Ratings Win on Strength of 'America's Got Talent'

On a night when broadcast schedules and ratings were jumbled by the presidential address, NBC coasted to a ratings win, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC's "America's Got Talent" was the top show of the night, averaging a 2.3 rating in viewers 18-49. "Million Second Quiz" weakened a bit on its second night -- even without the NFL as competition -- slipping two-tenths of a point from Monday to record a 1.5 average.

The report notes that the 15-minute presidential address, which aired at 9 p.m. on the East Coast and was followed on some networks by analysis, makes week-to-week comparisons in the time slot pointless. But it appears that NBC's combination of the speech and "America's Got Talent" in the 9 p.m. half-hour led the way with a 2.1 average in 18-49, followed by Fox's speech/"So You Think You Can Dance" combo (1.3 average), ABC's speech/"The Bachelor" repeat (1.2) and CBS's speech/"NCIS: L.A." repeat (1.2).

For prime time overall, the overnight numbers look like this: NBC leads the 18-49 demo with a 2.0 average, followed by Fox (1.3), CBS (1.0), ABC (1.0) and Univision (1.0). Results are closer in total viewers, but again NBC is on top, averaging 7.8 million to lead CBS (7.1 million), Fox (4.2 million), ABC (3.6 million) and Univision (2.8 million).

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Jimmy Kimmel's 'Toxic Hoax': Not Everyone Is Amused -- and TV News Is Among the Targets

Both Jimmy Kimmel and TV news are coming under fire after Kimmel revealed on his ABC late-night show that a recent viral video about a failed twerking attempt was a prank he had orchestrated.

The original "twerk fail" video can be seen by clicking here, and Kimmel's revelation about the prank can be seen in a video clip here.

The prank, featuring an attractive stuntwoman pretending to catch fire during a twerk attempt, has been wildly successful as a viral video, racking up well in excess of 10 million online views. Countless TV news outlets picked up the clip and reported it as news.

In the aftermath, the incident has also generated a ton of publicity for Kimmel.

But now the backlash has begun. In a piece on Slate headlined "Why We Should Be Mad at Jimmy Kimmel," Daniel Engber writes that the incident "illustrates everything that’s wrong with viral marketing. Kimmel’s prank is not a biting satire, nor is it a mirror to our stupid culture. It’s a hostile, self-promoting act -- a covert ad for 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' -- rendered as ironic acid that corrodes our sense of wonder. If the Web provides a cabinet of curiosities, full of freakish baubles of humanity, the hoaxer smashes it to bits, then counts his money while he preens atop the rubble."

Writing on New York Magazine's Vulture blog, Josh Wolk aims his criticism at TV news. "Here, in this one hyperconcentrated minute of tape, can be found just about everything wrong with TV news today," Volk writes, adding: "The twerking video ... was clearly a gag. (Why else was the camera shut off so abruptly?) But in presenting it, the anchors have to act like it's a real thing to rationalize it being on a news broadcast (traditionally the home of factual information); they add an obligatory disclaimer of 'some are saying it's fake' to show their skeptical bona fides. As if the verifiability of this dumb but funny viral video really matters at all."

Wolk goes on to cite a string of complaints about TV news illustrated by the incident, including:

-- "The awkward attempts to use modern vernacular: 'This is a major twerking fail.'"

-- "That awful newsman cadence, the rushed words followed by the drawn-out emphasized word. 'Now the internet is on FIRE …'"

-- "the sheer breathlessness of the introductions, every word imbued with a 'Do you have a bag pulled over your head to protect your upholstery from the shards of your imminently blown mind?' intensity."

Wolk adds: "The biggest criticism about today's TV news is that they just put up facts as they come in without taking the time to verify them or look for context, in the interest of speed. This segment reveals that 'the public's right to know immediately' can also just be a euphemism for 'eh, just get it up so we can go to lunch, I'm sure it's fine.'"

He closes his Vulture piece with this: "There are so many more ridiculous aspects to be found in this footage; like a crossword puzzle, once you put it away and come back to it, more is revealed. Ironically, now this new Kimmel video will likely go viral, and these news segments will get passed around where major fails! are meant to go: the Internet."

Engber's piece on Slate saves its harshest words for Kimmel: "Seriously, what’s the point of Kimmel’s joke? If he really wants to 'put an end to twerking,' then we can agree he’s just a jerk. (Who wants to squash a trend of people dancing in their bedrooms?) If he’s teaching us to be wary of what we find online, then his lesson comes 20 years too late, and it’s also self-defeating: A hoax like this doesn’t point to lapses in transparency, it clouds our view of everything."

Engber adds: "YouTube shows the world in all its weirdness, and gives a window on the geek sublime. When liars spread their hoggish propaganda, they mist the landscape with distrust. Think of all the other twerk fails -- real ones, I mean -- that have been strip-mined of their life and humor by Kimmel’s toxic hoax. Why ruin those for personal gain? Why make all online videos seem a little suspect, just to advertise a late-night talk show?"

jimmy-kimmel.pngJimmy Kimmel

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CBS Gave Up on Assad Interview -- Until Charlie Rose Came Up With an Angle

CBS had pretty much given up on getting an interview with Syrian President Bashar Assad because Assad refused to appear on “60 Minutes,” due to concerns about how the interview would be edited, reports TVNewsCheck.com.

“But CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager said Tuesday that a suggestion from ‘CBS This Morning’ co-anchor Charlie Rose that the Assad interview air on Rose's eponymous show on PBS made it happen,” the story says.

Said Fager: "It was great that we figured out a way around it."

An estimated 1.2 million people in the U.S. watched the interview Monday, the story notes.

charlie-rose.pngCharlie Rose

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ABC Orders New Shonda Rhimes Dramedy

ABC is moving forward with a new project from Shonda Rhimes, the driving force behind the network's hugely successful "Grey's Anatomy." Deadline.com reports that the network bought "Show & Tell," a dramedy from Rhimes' Shondaland and Dan Bucatinsky, who is an actor on Rhimes' series "Scandal" and a writer on "Grey's."

"Inspired by Bucatinsky’s book about parenthood, 'Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight?,' 'Show & Tell' is described as a fast-paced dramedy about the lives, loves, and scandalous secrets of a group of parents whose kids attend the same school," the story reports. "Bucatinsky is writing and will executive produce with Shondaland’s Rhimes and Betsy Beers."

The project, to be produced by ABC Studios, is Shondaland’s fifth of the current development season, the report notes.

"Bucatinsky ... is nominated for an Emmy for his recurring role on 'Scandal' as the long-suffering husband of Cyrus (Jeff Perry)," the story adds.

dan-bucatinsky.jpgDan Bucatinsky

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Cast and Crew of Showtime's 'Homeland' Meet With CIA -- 'They Busted Our Chops a Little Bit'

Showtime's acclaimed CIA-focused drama series "Homeland" hasn't gone unnoticed by the real-life CIA. The agency hosted the cast and crew of the show in a boardroom meeting and headquarters tour Monday, with CIA Director John Brennan among those taking part in the "covert operation," USA Today reports.

"We had a lot of questions and they had a lot of questions," said Morena Baccarin, who plays Jessica Brody, the wife of congressman and terrorist Nicholas Brody, played by Damian Lewis. The actress quipped: "It was all very classified."

"For Claire Danes who plays bipolar CIA agent Carrie Mathison, it was her second visit to the agency," the report notes. Said Danes: "It's always so thrilling and moving to meet the people who really do so much to protect and defend our country."

"But what about Danes' troubled character, who often breaks the rules and is portrayed as constantly on the edge of a complete breakdown?," the story asks. Danes: "Obviously they acknowledged that this is a fairly imaginative take on reality. But I think they appreciated the emotional honesty and integrity of it."

Showrunner Alex Gansa was also on hand, and commented on what was described as a thoughtful question-and-answer session between CIA staffers and the "Homeland" crew. Said Gansa: "They busted our chops a little bit." He noted that the CIA people reminded him, "You can't bring a cellphone into the CIA, and on the show we have people calling all the time."

Gansa added: "We were having a debate about who had to be more secretive."

The story notes: "The visit was probably most important to Mandy Patinkin, who plays Saul Berenson, who is now director of the CIA on the upcoming season of the show in the wake of a bomb going off at the CIA headquarters at the end of Season 2."

Said Patinkin: "The director (Brennan) came in and spoke eloquently. And then he asked me to come into his office because he knew I was the director of the CIA."

Asked whether Brennan is a fan of "Homeland," Patinkin said: "He's never seen it. I don't think he watches much television."

The report adds: "Brennan took Patinkin into his office, which the actor noted was 'very similar to the office they made for Saul Berensen. ... I must say it was a powerful office to be in. I felt the responsibility of that room.'"

Thumbnail image for mandy-patinkin.jpgMandy Patinkin

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NBCU Chief Says Network Is About $1 Billion Behind Other Nets

NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke, speaking today to investors at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference, painted what most observers would call a grim picture of NBC's profitability.

Deadline.com reports that the exec said the network trails its rivals by as much as $1 billion, even though it has “essentially the same cost structure” as CBS, ABC and Fox.

"That’s bad news, right? Not to Steve Burke," the story reports. To Burke, the gap “represents a huge opportunity” to grow, the piece notes.

"Burke is upbeat about collecting more cash from retransmission consent deals with pay TV distributors," the article reports. "NBC made 'virtually nothing' from cable and satellite companies two years ago and expects to see $200M in payments this year. That should continue to grow with 75% of NBC’s distribution deals expiring over the next three years. With other networks commanding big increases -- including CBS from its recent showdown with Time Warner Cable -- Burke sees 'no reason why we won’t draft behind other broadcasters.'”

Burke said he expects ad rates to improve, noting that NBC's ad pricing represents about a 20% discount on the rates commanded by rival networks.

“Our ratings are lower than we’d like them to be," Burke said, adding that the discount “will go away” -- but “it may not be in a year.”

"He expects big improvements this year with the Winter Olympics running on NBC in February, the middle of the broadcast season," the piece reports.

Said Burke: “It will be a great launch pad for all of our spring shows. ... We feel like we’re putting ourselves in a position to do better this fall and spring.”

Thumbnail image for steve-burke.jpgSteve Burke

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Video: Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake Run Through the History of End Zone Dancing

Is this the future of NBC's "Tonight Show"? Jimmy Fallon, anointed as the heir to Jay Leno, got together with pop superstar Justin Timberlake on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" to work out the evolution of end zone dancing -- just in time for the launch of the NFL season.

See for yourself:

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Judge Rules Against Lady Gaga

Pop superstar Lady Gaga suffered a setback in court Tuesday when federal judge Paul Gardephe ruled that a $380,000 claim against her by her former personal assistant will go forward, the New York Daily News reports.

The judge decided that a jury should hear the case in which Jennifer O'Neill says she is due the money in overtime pay for time O'Neill says Gaga forced her to be on call.

Gaga tried to have that part of O'Neill's lawsuit against her thrown out.

"In 2011, Jennifer O’Neill sued Gaga for $380,000 of what she described as unpaid overtime, fuming that she was required to cater to the singer, or at least be on call, at 'every hour of every day,'" the story reports. "Earlier this year, the 'Bad Romance' star asked Manhattan Federal Court Judge Paul Gardephe to toss out O’Neill’s claims for on-call pay, arguing that the assistant was allowed to take care of personal business -- so long as she had her cell phone with her."

The judge ruled that on-call time can potentially be considered work. "He said it will be up to a jury to decide how much or how little being constantly on call restricted what O’Neill could do in her private time," the story reports.

lady-gaga.pngLady Gaga

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New NBC Show Loses Ground on Second Night

NBC's splashy new game show "The Million Second Quiz" is off to a less-than-spectacular start. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the show lost ground from its ho-hum premiere Monday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

Monday's numbers had "Quiz" with a 1.7 average rating in the demo -- decent, for late summer, but probably less than the network was hoping for with a show that has been a focus of a ton of hype.

That number fell to a 1.5 in overnights for Tuesday night -- with the night's numbers being "more scrambled than usual," the website notes, due to the presidential address. The second-night numbers came against less stiff competition, as Monday night's TV lineup included the NFL.

Tuesday's one-hour show did grow from its first half-hour to its second -- from a 1.4 in 18-49 to a 1.5.

The NBC show, hosted by Ryan Seacrest, continues nightly -- presumably until a million seconds, or roughly eleven and a half days, run out.

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CNN Gets a Bump From Revived 'Crossfire'

CNN’s newly resurrected “Crossfire,” featuring Newt Gingrich, Stephanie Cutter, S.E. Cupp and Van Jones, improved on the channel's time slot performance but still lagged behind its cable news competition, TheWrap.com reports.

“Crossfire” attracted 581,000 total viewers in the 6:30 time slot for its Monday night premiere, the story reports. “Compared to the previous four Mondays in the 6:30 p.m. time slot for CNN, ‘Crossfire’ improved 44 percent in total viewers and 21 percent in the demo,” the report notes.

The piece adds: “While the highly promoted and anticipated ‘Crossfire’ performed favorably compared to CNN’s previous performance in the time slot, in the grand scheme it still failed to match the competition by nearly all measures. In total viewers, Fox News’ first-place ‘Special Report’ quadrupled ‘Crossfire,’ drawing 2.402 million.”

In the key news demo of viewers 25-54, "Special Report" was No. 1 in the time slot with 384,000 viewers, followed by "Crossfire" with 171,000. MSNBC's "Politics Nation" was third in the demo with 116,000 -- but "Politics Nation" eclipsed the CNN show for second in total viewers with 617,000, according to the report.

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Film Critic to Be Honored With Life-Size Statue

Organizers in Champaign, Ill., the hometown of one of the most famous film critics, have given the thumb's-up to a plan to put up a life-size statue of that critic, The Washington Post reports. The critic, of course, is the late Roger Ebert.

They announced plans Tuesday to raise $125,000 to build the bronze sculpture of Ebert giving his trademark "thumb's-up" gesture.

"The statue would go in front of Champaign’s Virginia Theatre, which has hosted the Ebertfest film festival for 15 years," the story reports. "Ebert, a Pulitzer Prize-winning movie reviewer and television personality, grew up in neighboring Urbana and attended the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign."

The sculpture will have Ebert sitting in the middle of three movie theater seats, the piece notes. "Artist Rick Harney of Bloomington will create the sculpture. Ebert’s widow, Chaz Ebert, selected the composition and organizers said she will work with Harney on the design," the story reports.

In a statement announcing the fundraising campaign for the statue, organizers said: “The sculpture will be a permanent memorial which will honor Ebert for both his career and his dedication to his roots. It will also honor him for his determination to press forward with Ebertfest in the face of huge medical challenges.”

The goal is to have the statue ready for unveiling at Ebertfest in April 2014. Ebert died earlier this year at 70 after battling cancer for several years.

roger-ebert.jpgRoger Ebert

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Target Launching Digital Video Service

Retail giant Target is making an entrance into the digital-video market with its Target Ticket Service, Variety reports. The company aims to debut the service Oct. 1 or sooner, with a library of around 30,000 TV and movie titles available for rental or purchase.

“Rivals like Walmart and Best Buy already offer digital-video services, while Internet companies Apple and Amazon.com have well-established footholds in the space,” the story reports. “But about half of Target’s customer base has never downloaded or streamed video entertainment, presenting an opportunity for the retailer to gain share, according to Anne Stanchfield, Target’s divisional merchandise manager of entertainment.”

Said Stanchfield: “The industry is not brand-new at this stage, but there is a significant portion of our guests who haven’t adopted digital entertainment yet.”

Target Ticket has movie deals with major studios and Disney, Paramount, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Universal and Lionsgate.

“TV networks in the mix include ABC, AMC, CBS, CW, Fox, FX, HBO, The WB, NBC, Showtime, Starz and USA Network,” the story adds. “TV content is available for purchase only but may be streamed or downloaded.”

The service will also offer access to day-after-broadcast TV shows and movies before they are available on DVD.

“Target Ticket pricing will be roughly comparable with similar offerings,” the story notes. “Theatrical title ‘Now You See Me’ goes for $14.99 in standard definition and $17.99 in high definition. A season of ‘Game of Thrones’ is priced at $28.99 (SD) and $36.99 (HD).”

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Disney Delays 'Pirates of the Caribbean' Sequel

The Walt Disney Co. announced Tuesday that it is delaying the release of "Pirates of the Caribbean 5," the next installment in the wildly successful Johnny Depp movie franchise, Reuters reports. The film was previously slated to open July 10, 2015.

"Disney's announcement gave no reason for the film's delay," the report notes, but it adds: "A person familiar with the project said studio executives did not think the script and other aspects of the film were ready for it to start production. No date was given for the film's release."

The timing of the announcement may hold a clue. "The delay on 'Pirates 5' comes a day after the studio said it would move up the release of another big-budget film, 'Ant-Man,' from October 2015 to July 31, 2015, three weeks after the Johnny Depp film was originally scheduled to be released," Reuters notes.

The superhero project "Ant-Man" comes from Marvel Comics, which has been a hit machine with "Iron Man" and other superheroes.

The report adds: "The four 'Pirates of the Caribbean' installments have generated more than $3.7 billion in worldwide ticket sales, according to the website Box Office Mojo."

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Adding Injury to Insult: AMC Cancels Series for the Second Time!

As if it weren't bad enough when AMC canceled this drama series the first time, AMC has now canceled it a SECOND time.

Writes our good friend Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com, "It’s déjà vu all over again. A year after AMC canceled 'The Killing' after two seasons, the network has done it again following the mystery drama’s third season. There had been some encouraging signs -- 'The Killing‘s' third season opened with an OK 1.8 million viewers and drew largely positive reaction from critics and fans. But it ended with 1.5 million for the season finale, up only slightly from the 1.4 million viewers of the second-season ender, and season 3 overall was essentially flat with season 2, whose ratings had triggered the series’ first cancellation."

Andreeva adds, "In one of the few cancellation stories with a happy ending, 'The Killing' producer Fox TV Studios kept the show alive after its axing by AMC last year, and the network eventually reversed its decision, ordering a third season, with Netflix stepping in as exclusive subscription streaming service to help offset the cost."

However, don't expect the series to be ressurected a second time, Andreeva writes.

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Sharon Osbourne Reveals That When She First Came to America She Had a Fling With a Man Who Later Became a Major Late-Night Talk Show Host Here

Sharon Osbourne told this story on "The Talk" earlier this week, according to the Los Angeles Times:

" 'I was 25,' said Osbourne, now 60, setting the stage for the big reveal. 'I had just moved to America. I didn't know many people. Remember, 25. I had met my husband but we weren't together; we were just friends. 'So I'm here, I don't have a boyfriend, I never did date a lot at that time anyways 'cause I was not very dateable.'

"Turns out she had a friend who worked at a place that was 'full of men' and insisted Osbourne check it out. She did, and noticed one man who was 'very nice, very funny ...' The two women 'prank called' him, and Osbourne's British accent got him interested enough to keep talking to an alleged wrong-number dialer.

"Eventually, 'He came to my house and he met me and then we had a little fling. And the fling was more fling for me, and not fling enough for him. Because a couple of months into it, he brought around his real love of his life for me to meet, and she was lovely and they took me to Fatburger and they showed me around town.'

" 'That man that I had a flingy-wingy with was Jay Leno,' Osbourne said, bringing down the house."

Watch the video:

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TLC Renews Series

TLC has made the decision to bring back a series for another season. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel picked up a second season of "Who Do You Think You Are."

The channel ordered 10 one-hour episodes, to be televised during 2014. The show's season-one finale airs tonight.

"The series, which has been averaging 1.8 million P2+ viewers in its first season, takes celebrities on a journey into their personal histories, mining their pasts to reveal unknown details about themselves and their families," the story reports. "Celebrities featured this past season include Christina Applegate, Kelly Clarkson, Cindy Crawford, Zooey Deschanel, Chelsea Handler, Chris O’Donnell and Trisha Yearwood."

Jim Parsons of "The Big Bang Theory" is lined up for tonight's season finale, the piece notes.

jim-parsons.pngJim Parsons

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Showtime Working With L.A. Lakers on Basketball Drama; Filmmaker Behind a String of High-Profile Sports Movies Is on Board

Members of the Los Angeles Lakers organization and the filmmaker behind the basketball feature film "White Men Can't Jump" are working on a basketball drama for Showtime, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

"Can't Jump's" Ron Shelton is set to write, direct and executive produce the one-hour project, which tracks the family behind a pro hoops team.

"The sports-centric filmmaker's most notable movies include 'Bull Durham,' 'Tin Cup' and 'White Men Can’t Jump,'" the report notes. "Serving as EP alongside him on the project are several members of the L.A. Lakers family, including assistant coach Kurt Rambis, retired coach Phil Jackson and team execs Jeanie Buss and Linda Rambis -- the latter two doing so under their shingle Street Reason Entertainment."

The focus of the untitled project is on the family behind the scenes of a pro team. "Brett Tomberlin of IDW and Ubiquity Studios will also executive produce, as will Brian Gilbert and Andrew Trapani of Nine/8 Entertainment," THR adds.

The programming lineup at Showtime, which recently renewed the drama series "Ray Donovan," is rapidly evolving. "Masters of Sex" is set to bow this month, with its launch linked to the return of "Homeland."

"With 'Dexter' signing off this month after eight seasons and 'The Borgias' having come to an end after four seasons, Showtime has drama pilots 'The Vatican' with 'Friday Night Lights' favorite Kyle Chandler, marriage drama 'The Affair' starring 'Fringe's' Joshua Jackson and horror drama series 'Penny Dreadful' with Josh Hartnett and Eva Green in the works," the report notes.

The pay-cable channel has already established itself as a player in sports programming, with Showtime Entertainment President David Nevins making it clear that sports is a personal priority, the report notes.

"Showtime recently added '60 Minutes Sports' to a roster that already includes 'Inside the NFL,' baseball doc series 'The Franchise,' 'All Access,' 'Jim Rome on Showtime,' 'Showtime Championship Boxing,' 'ShoBox: The New Generation' and 'ShoMMA.'" the piece reports.

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'American Psycho' Headed to TV

A new show being developed for TV offers an update on the 2000 Christian Bale feature film "American Psycho," Deadline.com reports.

The project, in development at FX, is set decades after the events that transpire in the movie. "Lionsgate TV, whose sibling Lionsgate Films was behind the 'American Psycho' feature, and FX Prods are producing the series shepherded by former Lionsgate Films head of production-turned producer Allison Shearmur and writer Stefan Jaworski," the story reports.

The report adds: "The drama series fast-forwards from the late 1980s, when the movie was set, to present day. It will feature serial killer Patrick Bateman, now in his mid-50s but as outrageous and lethal as ever, taking on a protege in a sadistic social experiment who will become every bit his equal -- a next-generation American Psycho."

Jaworski is writing and is also executive producing along with Shearmur and Ed Pressman, the report notes.

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Apple Takes Wraps Off Two New iPhones

In an eagerly anticipated product unveiling today at its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., Apple announced two new versions of its iPhone, The Washington Post reports.

The new iPhone 5C is a low-cost edition of the smartphone selling for as little as $99, aimed largely at overseas markets. The other new phone is the iPhone 5S, a high-end upgrade.

"The cheaper version of the phone, known as the iPhone 5C, will come in several new colors, including green, gray, light blue, pink and yellow, according to various media reports," The Post reports. "The iPhone 5C will cost $99 for 16 GB on a two-year contract and $199 for 32 GB -- essentially the same price points that Apple used to offer for its older phones."

In a promo video for the phone, Apple design guru Jony Ive called the 5C “beautifully, unapologetically plastic.”

The high-end iPhone 5S "will come with a new chip, the M7, which will help the phone measure motion and environmental information, according to Mashable. That will allow Apple to tap into the growing field of health data," the story reports. "The iPhone 5S will be the same price as the iPhone 5, and will have [a] 16GB version for $199, a 32 GB version for $299 and a 64 GB version for $399, all on contract."

The company also announced "Touch ID," a new fingerprint sensor. "Users will be able to teach the iPhone to recognize a fingerprint, reports The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple, and also be able to authenticate their App Store purchases through a fingerprint," the story reports.

The unveiling "comes as a time when the question of whether the firm can maintain its cool factor has dogged Apple and its chief executive, Tim Cook, since the 2011 death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs," The Post adds. "While the company has said that creating cutting-edge products remains core to its corporate philosophy, worries about its ability to innovate, combined with sinking profits, have contributed to a more than 20 percent stock slide from this time last year when it introduced the iPhone 5."

The company's share price jumped as the unveiling event began but then fell a little, The Post notes.

The Post adds: "Apple is far from the only smartphone maker facing problems keeping fat profit margins and sky-high sales growth rates. The entire industry is struggling to find buyers for the most expensive -- and most profitable -- smartphone models as U.S. and Western European markets become saturated with existing smartphone owners."

apple-5c.pngApple 5C

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Warning to 'Sons of Anarchy' Fans: Be Prepared for the Most 'Sad' and 'Violent' Season in the Show's History

Fans of the FX biker drama "Sons of Anarchy" have been put on notice: The show's upcoming sixth season won't be pulling any punches.

The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that cast members are promising the most "violent" and "sad" season in the show's history.

Kim Coates told the publication: "This is the second to last season, it's all guns-a-blazin', no pun intended. Get ready, because there's no pulled punches. It is flat-out, 100 percent sad this year."

THR notes: "The actor, who plays Tig, says that his personal anti-violence stance makes filming the show difficult at times."

Says Coates: "Honestly, it's tough. It's tough shit. It's not even that we're doing a lot of violent stuff, it's just that it's coming to an end. You know characters will die, you know they'll be gone forever, and ['Sons'] is a big hit. It's a big hit all over the world."

THR adds: "With Tuesday's premiere picking up right where last season's finale left off, with Tara (Maggie Siff) and Clay (Ron Perlman) both jail-bound, Jax (Charlie Hunnam) is forced to put his own issues on the backburner and focus on freeing his wife."

Says Hunnam: "I think at the end of last season, [Jax] felt as though he'd really let himself and the club down. [He] hadn't risen to the challenge of being president in the way that he thought he would, so there's kind of resolute Jax in the beginning of this season where he's really determined to have a reckoning for his bad behavior and do an about-turn, and stop going down the dark path he was going down and repeating some of Clay's mistakes."

The story adds: "Perlman jokes that Clay will become an incarcerated 'Top Chef' contestant in the coming season, and later suggests that 'everyone dies but Happy (David Labrava).'"

Getting serious, Perlman adds: "The sands are shifting under our feet. ... We've lost the president, we have a new president, everybody's in positions that they're rather uncomfortable in because they've never done them before. It's a season of unrest and transition because I think we're winding our way towards the end."

Adds Peter Weller, who has directed a number of episodes and appears in the season six premiere: "It's all a personal journey now. The mission of communal glory and vengeance and territory that was so prevalent in 'The Iliad,' now it's about finding your own safety and sanctuary at any cost. It's very emotional."

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One Show Dominates as Syndie Daytime Shows Premiere

Monday was a big day for syndicated talk show premieres, with the bulk of the shows launching their new seasons while one newcomer, Warner Bros.' "Bethenny," made its national debut, Deadline.com reports.

"'Bethenny,' hosted by Bethenny Frankel, opened with a 0.9/3 in households and 0.6/4 in women 25-54," the story reports. "That was in line with the debuts of the two new talk shows last fall that didn’t make it to second season: 'Jeff Probst' (1.9, 0.7) and 'Ricki Lake' (0.8, 0.4). The bright spot for 'Bethenny' was its demo performance, which was up double digits from its lead-in and the time period’s average last September, while the show was down in households."

Among the veterans, another Warner Bros. show, "Ellen," continued its winning ways, topping its rivals on premiere day for the second consecutive year. The show's host, Ellen DeGeneres, is also a producer of "Bethenny."

"'Ellen' drew a 3.1/8 in households and 1.8/11 in women 25-54. That was up a tenth from last fall’s premiere in HH and down 18% from last year’s all-time-high season opener in women 25-54," Deadline reports. "Compared with last September’s and May’s averages, 'Ellen' was up by double-digits."

Katie Couric's "Katie" premiered for its second season with a 1.7 in households and a 0.9 in women 25-54. "That was down 39% in HH and 44% in women 25-54 from the series’ big ... premiere last fall but still good enough for second place among the talk show openers in the demo behind 'Ellen,'" the story notes.

"Dr. Phil" (1.8, 0.7) was second in households, and was down from its premiere a year ago. "Dr. Oz" (1.3, 0.6) was also down.

"Of the holdovers that opened their new seasons last week, 'Kelly & Michael' (3.0, 1.2) finished neck and neck with 'Ellen' in HH, while last season’s breakout freshman 'Steve Harvey' (1.3, 0.7) looks a bit soft," Deadline notes.

The report adds: "The other new syndication series that premiered yesterday, CBS Television Distribution/Tribune Broadcasting’s 'The Test,' did a so-so 0.7 HH rating but observers note that the conflict talker has an upside potential."

The piece notes that the other high-profile newcomer, Sony TV’s "Queen Latifah," is set to premiere next Monday.

Thumbnail image for ellen-degeneres.pngEllen DeGeneres

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TV Executive Gets Top Job at Film Studio as NBCUniversal Shakeup Continues -- Does the Move Signal a Shift From Theatrical Model to VOD?

The executive shakeup continues at Comcast’s NBCUniversal, which placed a TV executive at the helm of its film studio Monday.

“NBCUniversal said that the executive, Jeff Shell, a Comcast insider who has recently been focused on the media conglomerate’s international businesses, will take over day-to-day operations at Universal Studios, which includes the Universal and Focus Features labels,” The New York Times reports.

Those day-to-day responsibilities have been handled for the past 18 years by Ron Meyer, who will become vice chairman of NBCUniversal, which Comcast bought in 2011.

“By naming one of its own to succeed Meyer -- rather than promoting a Universal executive -- Comcast signaled that the movie studio is now firmly nested inside a corporate structure that cares as much about funneling content to cable video-on-demand services as it does about theatrical hits,” the story says.

In a statement, NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke said of Shell: “I have worked with him for over a decade and have been consistently impressed by his strategic vision, operational focus and energy."

Prior to joining Comcast, Shell was chief executive of TV Guide International. He also logged time at News Corp., where he helped oversee Fox Sports, FX and the National Geographic Channel.

NBCUniversal has also restructured top management in its cable group, as we reported yesterday.

jeff-shell.pngJeff Shell

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Big Opening Night for Arsenio Hall's New Late-Night Show

Early indications are good for the new late-night show starring veteran Arsenio Hall, which premiered in syndication Monday night to strong viewer numbers.

"The Arsenio Hall Show" opened as the top late-night broadcast program in the demos of adults 18-49 and adults 25-54, based on Nielsen figures for Local People Meter markets. The show delivered a 1.0/4 in 18-49 and a 1.2/5 in 25-54.

The premiere scored a 1.9/4 in households, up 90% from the year-ago time period average of 1.0/2 in September 2012.

The program also bucked the normal late-night trend of declining from lead-ins as viewers go to bed. "Arsenio" was up 19% from its lead-ins, rising from a 1.6/3 to a 1.9/4.

The program surged 60% over its lead-ins in New York and 88% in Los Angeles.

Hall ended his previous late-night talk show 19 years ago.

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Which Country Has the Fastest Video Streaming -- and Where Does the U.S. Rank?

A new report ranks the fastest video streaming by country, and most of the countries with the highest averages are located in Scandinavia and Northern Europe.

B&C reports that the ISP Speed Index released Monday by Netflix for the month of August includes a measurement of historical country averages. "Among the countries where Netflix measures ISPs, Denmark was tops in August, delivering average Netflix streams of 2.64 Mbps," the story reports. "Finland followed with 2.57 Mbps, trailed by Sweden (2.5 Mbps), the U.K. (2.4 Mbps), and Norway (2.38 Mbps)."

Everyone else came in below the threshold of 2 Mbps, led by the U.S. at 1.98 Mbps. Ireland reportedly came in at 1.82 Mbps, with Mexico at 1.71 Mbps.

"Netflix’s newly expanded view shows monthly country averages going back to November 2012," B&C adds. "Canada, the first country outside the U.S. to launch Netflix, is not factored into the current Netflix rankings. Variety reported Sunday that Netflix will launch service in the Netherlands on September 11, just ahead of the IBC Conference in Amsterdam."

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G4 Gets a Reprieve, as NBCU's New Cable Net Won't Replace It After All -- So Which Network Will Be Scrapped?

NBCUniversal has changed its plans for a new cable network, which was previously announced as a replacement for G4. B&C reports that the new plan for Esquire Network is to replace Style Network.

NBCU Cable Entertainment Group Chairman Bonnie Hammer made the announcement Monday in an internal memo, the story reports. Esquire Network is set to launch Sept. 23.

Hammer cited brand overlap among the company's portfolio of cable networks in making the decision.

In the memo, Hammer said: "Our goal has always been delivery of compelling content by means of distinct, complementary brands, each in its clearly defined lane. With Bravo, E! and Oxygen, we offer unique takes on popular culture for an ever-broadening audience, including the all-important female demo. In pursuit of that same demo, Style presents brand overlap within our portfolio."

The report adds: "As a result of the rebrand, current Style series like 'Giuliana & Bill' and 'Tia & Tamara' will remain on Esquire Network or move to one of the NBCU portfolio's other female-targeted networks likely Bravo or Oxygen. Style Media President Salaam Coleman Smith will stay on through the transition while the company searches for another internal placement for her. Though NBCU will seek to minimize layoffs by moving Style staffers to other networks within the portfolio, some will certainly be laid off as a result of the rebrand."

Additionally, the piece notes that the move will make Esquire Network available to Style's 75 million households vs. G4's 62 million.

"Esquire Network general manager Adam Stotsky will remain head of G4 as well, which will remain as-is," the report adds. "The network canceled several of its long-running series like 'Attack of the Show' late last year in anticipation of the rebrand."

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Naked Miley Cyrus Video Sets Viewing Record

A controversial new music video by Miley Cyrus, which can be seen by clicking here, is off to a record start with its Internet viewing, the U.K. publication The Mirror reports.

The video for "Wrecking Ball" features a naked Cyrus riding provocatively on a large wrecking ball, along with a number of other suggestive shots. It also has Cyrus again rolling out her tongue -- which figured prominently in her heavily buzzed about recent appearance on MTV's Video Music Awards. This time the tongue works its magic mainly on a sledgehammer.

The Mirror reports that "Wrecking Ball" received more than 12.3 million views on the YouTube/Vevo platform in its first 24 hours, breaking a short-lived record set by the boy band One Direction with the clip for its single "Best Song Ever."

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Why Elton John Will Perform at the Emmys for the First Time

Sir Elton John will perform live at this year's Emmy Awards for the first time, the BBC reports. Why now? The veteran singer and musician has signed on to perform a tribute to fellow piano player Liberace.

Liberace's life is depicted in the HBO biopic “Behind the Candelabra," which premiered at Cannes this year and is nominated for 15 Emmys.

The awards, to be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, will take place Sept. 22.

Both Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, who appear as Liberace and his lover Scott Thorson in “Candelabra,” are nominated for lead actor in a miniseries or movie for their performances.

elton-john2.jpgSir Elton John

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NBC Gets in Business With Emmy-Winning ABC Star

NBC is stepping in to bring a longtime ABC star back to television. TheWrap.com reports that the Peacock Network bought a CIA drama project that reportedly will star and be executive produced by Katherine Heigl.

Heigl, who won an Emmy for the ABC drama series "Grey's Anatomy" in 2007, has been keeping busy with film work since the "Grey's" job ran out in 2010, but reportedly has been wanting to get back to a full-time TV role. The new project is about a CIA officer who briefs the president, TheWrap reports.

"The untitled drama, which has received a put-pilot commitment, will revolve around a maverick CIA officer to be played by Heigl. Tapped to become the president’s daily briefer, she is responsible for targeting America’s most critical threats while navigating the unique lifestyle that comes with such a high-powered job," the story reports.

The script is set to be written by Alexi Hawley (“The Following,” “Castle,” “Body of Proof”). "Robert Simonds ('License to Wed,' 'The Shaggy Dog') is also executive producing, along with Hawley, Heigl’s mother and manager Nancy, Henry Crumpton, Rodney Faraon and Julia Franz," the report adds.

Said Heigl: “I have been passionate about, and enthralled by, this project from the moment Hank, Rodney and Bob brought it to me over a year ago. The story is not only compelling and intelligent but a look behind the curtain at the CIA we haven’t seen before in film or television."

Thumbnail image for katherine-heigl.pngKatherine Heigl

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It's Not Your Imagination: Broadcasters Are Targeting Men

Broadcasters are taking a cue from cable, where male-skewing hits including "The Walking Dead" and "Breaking Bad" have helped change the way programmers are looking at gender, Advertising Age reports.

With broadcast viewers being predominantly female -- especially when excluding sports -- advertisers haven't been targeting men with prime-time broadcast programming. But that appears to be changing.

“On the slate this fall season, which kicks off this week, are male-centric comedies like Fox's ‘Dads,’ ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ and CBS’s ‘We Are Men’; genre series like ABC's ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’ and the CW's ‘Tomorrow People’; along with gritty dramas like NBC's ‘The Blacklist’ and the retread ‘Ironside,'" the story reports.

“The hope is that men will help halt the broadcast-ratings decline. The networks collectively lost about 8% of their audience last season. Fox relinquished its No. 1 spot as the most-watched broadcaster among adults 18 to 49 to CBS, while ABC came in last place among the Big Four in the demo.”

But networks will have their work cut out for them if they’re serious about attracting males.

“Broadcasters can't get too racy, as they contend with decency standards cable channels can ignore,” the story notes. “And networks also can't forsake female audiences.”

Said Amy Sotiridy, senior VP and director of national broadcast at Initiative: "Network isn't the place to target males. If you are looking to reach young males you are buying sports or male-targeted cable."

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Cable Providers Offer a Proposal to Prevent Future Blackouts

In the wake of the CBS-Time Warner Cable retransmission dispute, which left consumers in a number of markets unable to access CBS programming for a month, cable and satellite providers will appeal today to Congress to let them use distant network signals when they're involved in retrans negotiations, TVNewsCheck.com reports. The idea is being presented as a way to avoid future blackouts.

“’Without immediate action by Congress ... it seems likely that millions more screens will go dark every year, and consumers will pay more and more for their cable and satellite service,’ R. Stanton Dodge, EVP and general counsel of Dish Network, will testify during a hearing before a House Judiciary Committee subcommittee, according to an advance copy of his written testimony,” the story reports.

The piece adds: “But the National Association of Broadcasters will urge lawmakers to veto the pleas for relief. ’A change in the law that would permit a satellite carrier to import a distant signal -- not based on need, but to gain unfair market leverage in a retransmission consent dispute -- would be contrary to decades of congressional policy aimed to promote localism,’ Gerard Waldron, a communications attorney who is testifying in NAB’s behalf, will say, according to the text of his written testimony for the hearing.”

Waldron is also expected to argue that permitting cable and satellite proveders to import network signals would jeopardize the viability of local network affiliates, the piece reports.

The report adds: “Among other arguments, Waldron will contend that viewers are far more likely to lose access to TV programming from power outages than from retransmission consent bargaining impasses. In addition, he will charge that that 89% of the recent 'service disruptions' resulting from negotiating impasses have involved three companies -- Time Warner Cable, DirecTV and Dish.”

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Lionsgate Names New Chairman of TV Group

In a move that reflects the ongoing diversification of Lionsgate's television business, the company announced the promotion of Kevin Beggs to chairman of Lionsgate Television Group. Beggs signed a new long-term deal with the company, which announced the move today at its annual shareholders meeting in Toronto.

Beggs is a 15-year company veteran.

"Mr. Beggs will continue to oversee development and production of all scripted and non-scripted programming for broadcast, cable and digital platforms worldwide, and he will continue to report to Lionsgate Chief Executive Officer Jon Feltheimer," the company said in a release announcing the promotion.

The release adds: "Under Mr. Beggs’ leadership, Lionsgate’s television roster has diversified to encompass 30 series on 20 different networks, including the multiple Emmy Award-winning 'Mad Men,' the hit series 'Weeds' and 'Nurse Jackie,' the 10+90 series 'Anger Management,' the broadcast network series 'Nashville' and the critically acclaimed breakout 'Orange is the New Black.'"

Said Feltheimer: “Kevin epitomizes the entrepreneurial leadership, innovative thinking and creative vision that have shaped the consistent and successful evolution of our television business. He is an integral part of a management team notable for its breadth, depth and continuity, and we are confident that he will lead our Television Group to continued growth and diversification in the years to come.”

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Gingrich Offers His Opinion on Hillary Clinton TV Projects -- Including One at CNN, Where He Now Works

Talking about the relaunch of CNN's “Crossfire,” Newt Gingrich took the opportunity to offer his opinion on two high-profile TV projects that are in the works about Hillary Clinton -- including a documentary at CNN.

Gingrich said it isn’t possible to make a “neutral” documentary about Hillary Clinton, Deadline.com reports.

“Asked his thoughts on the Republican National Committee’s decision last month to block CNN from GOP presidential primary debates during the 2016 election cycle because it is working on a Clinton docu, Gingrich said he thought CNN -- and NBC, which has said it is developing a Hillary Clinton miniseries -- should offer equal time,” the story says.

The story quotes Gingrich saying: “I actually don’t believe you can create a neutral documentary about Hillary Clinton." Gingrich also referred to NBC’s Clinton miniseries project as a documentary, the story notes.

“’I don’t see it as a giant deal,” he said of the CNN project, adding, “I don’t think Hillary’s survival or failure are going to rest on these two documentaries.’”

“That said, Gingrich took particular issue with NBC’s having signed actress Diane Lane to play Clinton in its miniseries,” the story adds.

Said Gingrich: "If you look at who they have playing Hillary Clinton, it’s unquestionably bias from Day 1."

Gingrich did not elaborate on the comment, but the report notes: "In discussions about NBC’s miniseries some critics have pointed out that Diane Lane is the soon-to-be former daughter-in-law of James Brolin, who played Ronald Reagan in the controversial CBS miniseries about the former president; the RNC also took issue with that miniseries, which wound up running instead on Showtime -- a network whose programming chief at that time was Bob Greenblatt, who is now in charge of programming at NBC."

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Video: Leah Remini Opens Up to Ellen About Leaving Scientology

Appearing with Ellen DeGeneres on "Ellen," former “King of Queens” star Leah Remini opened up about her recent decision to leave the Church of Scientology, admitting that she has lost longtime friends as a result of the decision.

Here's the clip:

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Legendary TV Salesman Dead at 92

One of the giants of television advertising for decades -- especially in the Los Angeles market -- has died. TMZ.com reports that car salesman Cal Worthington -- famous for his "Go see Cal" and "Here's Cal Worthington and his dog Spot" commercials -- died at 92.

"Worthington -- who had dealerships in Long Beach, CA, Anchorage, Alaska, Phoenix, Houston, Sacramento and other cities -- died Sunday at his ranch in California. According to his family, Worthington passed away while watching Sunday football," the story reports. "The family didn't say what caused his death."

Worthington became a celebrity on the strength of his commercials, which dominated local airwaves for many years. The spots often featured Worthington with various animals -- tigers, elephants, monkeys, bears, you name it -- identifying them all as "his dog Spot."

Here's a sample:

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Popular Radio Figure Reveals Battle With Cancer

A radio personality revealed that she has been battling cancer for 15 months, also making the announcement that she is now cancer-free. The Los Angeles Times reports that the announcement was made by Robin Quivers, the longtime sidekick to Howard Stern, on Stern's SiriusXM show today.

"Turns out Quivers, 61, has been doing the show from home for the last 15 months while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation for endometrial cancer," the story reports. "Quivers ... first noticed a problem while attending an away wedding, where she realized she couldn't urinate, and headed to an ER for help. Upon returning home she saw other doctors who discovered she had a cancerous mass in her pelvic region."

Quivers reportedly underwent a 12-hour surgery in May 2012 to remove the tumor, which had attached itself fo all of the organs in her pelvis.

"The first round of docs were unfamiliar with the type of cancer, she said, and were looking only to prolong her life," the story reports. "Quivers switched to Sloan Kettering, she told Stern, which was familiar with this type of cancer -- it was growing in her uterine tissue -- and said it would go for a cure."

Stern reportedly told his listeners today: "I gotta be honest, I thought she was a goner. I can’t tell you how dire everything seemed."

Quivers reportedly faced the possibility of losing her colon and spending the rest of her life depending on a colostomy bag.

On the show, Quivers said: "I've always been a quality of life kind of person, and I didn't want to live in a certain state."

But Quivers said she got good news about three months ago.

Said Quivers: "I go into my doctor's office. She just looks at everything, she goes, 'You're cured. You're done, because you're cured.'"

Robin-Quivers.jpgRobin Quivers

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NBCUniversal Shakes Up Its Executive Ranks

NBCUniversal has made what's being reported as a management restructuring, shifting a number of executives in its cable division into new positions. NBCUniversal Cable Group Entertainment Chairman Bonnie Hammer announced the moves today in an internal memo, B&C reports.

Bravo Media President Frances Berwick adds oversight of Oxygen, replacing Jason Klarman. Klarman, who has been president of Oxygen since 2010, is exiting the company. A spokesperson for NBCUniversal confirmed the moves, B&C reports.

"Jeff Wachtel, who had been co-president of USA Network, will assume the new role of president and chief content officer, NBCU Cable Entertainment, where he will work with the presidents and development teams at each network," the B&C report adds.

In the memo, Hammer said: "Jeff's development track record at USA is the envy of the TV business, so it makes sense to maximize his original programming expertise and business savvy by extending his purview across the entire portfolio."

B&C adds: "Wachtel will also take oversight of Universal Cable Productions and Wilshire Studios, working with Steve Dolmaschio, who will become chief operating officer of both. Chris McCumber will become sole president of the No. 1 cable network after being co-president since 2011."

Hammer took control of the NBCU cable holdings in February, the report notes, with her oversight including Bravo, Oxygen and Style. Berwick, Wachtel and McCumber will continue to report to her.

"With the news Monday that Style would rebrand as Esquire Network on Sept. 23, Style Media president Salaam Coleman Smith will assist with the transition while the company looks for another placement for her, with Hammer saying the executive 'will play an integral role ... at NBCUniversal in the future,'" the piece reports.

frances-berwick.pngFrances Berwick

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Football Scores Broadcast Nets' Highest Sunday Overnights Since the Oscars

NBC's broadcast of the NFL game Sunday night between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants turned in some big Nielsen numbers. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the early returns showed "Sunday Night Football" down from last year's equivalent game but still higher than anything on broadcast in a while.

"In metered-market results, which are time zone-adjusted, the 16.6/27 in metered-market households from 8:30 p.m.-11:45 a.m. ET for NBC Sports’ coverage of last night’s New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys game is the #1 rating of the night, excluding Fox’s NFL overrun," the website reports. "NBC’s primetime average 12.6/21 from 7-11 p.m. ET is the best Sunday average for ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox since February 24 (ABC’s Academy Awards coverage)."

Looking at Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo, NBC easily outpaced its broadcast rivals for the night, although Fox also got some big numbers from NFL overrun and postgame coverage during the 7 p.m. hour.

NBC averaged a 9.1 rating in 18-49 for the game from 8:30-11 p.m., down from a 9.8 average for last year's opening game between Pittsburgh and Denver, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

Fox's NFL overrun for the 7 p.m. half-hour delivered a 7.9 average rating in the 18-49 demo, while its combination of NFL overrun and the postgame show "The OT" at 7:30 pulled in a 7.5.

NBC's "Football Night in America" surged to a 7.0 in viewers 18-49 for the 8 p.m. half-hour, as the 8:30 game neared.

CBS put up a lineup of original programming, with its U.S. Open tennis coverage delivering a 1.6 average in 18-49 for the 7 p.m. hour. "60 Minutes" came through with a 1.9 at 8 p.m., with "Big Brother" equaling that number at 9 p.m. (up one-tenth from last week), while "Unforgettable" dipped to a 0.9 at 10 p.m. for the show's summer finale -- down one-tenth of a ratings point from a week ago.

ABC's only fresh show was "Secret Millionaire" at 9 p.m., which ticked up three-tenths from last week to a 1.1.

For prime time overall, NBC led the broadcast networks with a 7.2 average rating in adults 18-49, followed by Fox (3.9 average), CBS (1.6), ABC (0.9) and Univision (0.6). NBC also led the way in total viewers, averaging 18.7 million to lead Fox (9.9 million), CBS (7.2 million), ABC (3.9 million) and Univision (1.8 million).

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Miley Cyrus' Follow-Up to Her MTV Twerkfest: New Video Has Her Still Showing a Lot of Tongue -- Oh, and This Time She's Naked; Here's the Video

Former "Hannah Montana" actress Miley Cyrus appears determined to let everyone know her sexually charged appearance on MTV's Video Music Awards was no fluke.

Continuing the "I'm all grown up now" theme, her new music video for "Wrecking Ball" has the 20-year-old again showing a lot of tongue -- including licking a sledgehammer this time -- and riding naked on a large wrecking ball.

Here it is:

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'SNL' Unveils Host, Musical Act for Show's Season 39 Premiere

NBC's "Saturday Night Live" has announced hosts and musical acts for the first few episodes of the upcoming 39th season, and the headline is the return of former "Weekend Update" anchor Tina Fey to host the premiere. USA Today reports that Fey will host the Sept. 28 season opener, with Arcade Fire on tap as the musical act.

The appearance will be Fey's fourth as guest host since she left "SNL" in 2006 to launch "30 Rock." Arcade Fire will also be making its fourth appearance.

"For Week 2 on Oct. 5, Miley Cyrus, who made a grindingly big splash at MTV's Video Music Awards, will both host and perform as the musical guest," the story reports. "And Oct. 12, actor Bruce Willis returns for his second hosting stint, joined by Katy Perry, promoting her upcoming album 'Prism.'"

The report adds: "Still no word on how producer Lorne Michaels plans to replenish the Not Ready for Prime Time Players lineup. 'SNL' lost Bill Hader, Fred Armisen and Jason Sudeikis in May and will see Seth Meyers depart, probably in December, as he readies his own late-night talk show, due in February."

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for tina-fey.jpgTina Fey

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Big-Name Actors to Play Michael J. Fox's Parents on Upcoming NBC Comedy

The parents of Michael J. Fox’s character on the upcoming NBC comedy series "The Michael J. Fox Show" will be played by a pair of veteran TV and film actors. EW.com reports that Candice Bergen and Charles Grodin will play Fox's parents.

The show is one of the most eagerly anticipated programs of the fall season.

Bergen, an Oscar nominee for the 1979 movie "Starting Over," starred in the long-running CBS sitcom “Murphy Brown,” earling a string of awards for her performance including five Emmy Awards for outstanding lead actress in a comedy, from 1989-1995. More recently she appeared on ABC's “Boston Legal” -- earning Emmy nominations in 2006 and 2008 for her supporting role on the show.

Grodin is known for his work in films including “Heaven Can Wait,” “Midnight Run” and the “Beethoven” movies. He guest-starred on “Law & Order: SVU” last year, and is an Emmy winner as part of the writing team behind the 1977 NBC production "The Paul Simon Special." He was nominated for a Golden Globe for "The Heartbreak Kid" in 1973.

candice-bergen.pngCandice Bergen

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MTV Twerking Incident Costs Miley Cyrus a High-Profile Job

Miley Cyrus’ crude twerking at the MTV Video Music Awards in Brooklyn last month cost the actress and singer a high-profile gig as the model for the December cover of Vogue, according to the U.K. publication The Daily Mail.

“Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour had been eager to champion [Cyrus] as a new fashion icon,” the story says, “but changed her mind after seeing the singer perform her overtly sexual routine in latex bra and knickers.”

Performing at the VMAs with singer Robin Thicke, Cyrus repeatedly bent over, gyrating against Thicke and stroking her crotch with a large foam finger.

The report quotes a source saying: “Anna found the whole thing distasteful. She decided, based on Miley’s performance, to take the cover in a different direction.”

miley-cyrus-crude-twerk.pngMiley Cyrus at the VMAs

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New Talk Show Launches Today -- With One of the Top Names in Daytime TV Behind the Project

A new daytime talk show gets its official launch in syndication today, and one of the biggest names in daytime television has her fingerprints all over it.

“Bethenny” is largely the vision of host Bethenny Frankel, but “executive producer Ellen DeGeneres looms large over it,” reports TVNewsCheck.com.

DeGeneres “helped hatch the idea for the Telepictures show, serves as an executive producer and gave it a jump-start last summer when ‘Bethenny’ taped on the ‘Ellen’ set in Los Angeles for its six-week tryout on Fox TV Stations,” the story says. Warner Bros. distributes both shows.

But the show's host wants to make it clear she's not under the wing of DeGeneres.

“She’s doing her show and I’m doing mine," said Frankel. "She gave me a great opportunity and her team has been very supportive. But I am in the zone. I’m a big girl doing it on my own.”

Frankel added: “I feel even better about this now than I did with the summer test. I have my own people. I am involved in every single thing, down to the muffins in the dressing rooms."

Frankel exec produces the show along with DeGeneres, Terence Noonan, formerly of Sony Pictures Television’s “Dr. Oz,” and Meghan Schaefer Spielberg, formerly of MSNBC.

"Last summer’s test averaged a 0.9 rating, 6 share among women 25-54, up 80% from the time slot average a year earlier," the report notes. "That was good enough for Fox and enough other broadcasters to give the show blanket national coverage. The show was sold on a cash-plus-barter basis (4 national minutes, 11 local minutes)."

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Golden Globe-Nominated Actor Says He Tried to Commit Suicide

An actor who received a Golden Globe nomination for his work on a TV drama series revealed during a speaking appearance that he tried to commit suicide.

Wentworth Miller, one of the stars of the Fox series “Prison Break,” who publicly came out in August, said he tried to commit suicide as a teenager, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“Speaking at a Human Rights Campaign gala at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel on Saturday, the actor described an incident where he willfully overdosed on pills during a weekend where his parents were away from home,” THR reports, citing a video posted by TMZ.com.

Miller received a Golden Globe nomination in 2006 for his lead performance in "Prison Break," which aired on Fox from 2005-2009.

"The first time I tried to kill myself I was 15," he says in the video. "I waited until my family went away for the weekend and I was alone in the house and I swallowed a bottle of pills. I don't remember what happened over the next couple days, but I'm pretty sure come Monday morning I was on a bus back to school pretending everything was fine. And when someone asked me if that was a cry for help, I say no, because I told no one."

THR says the actor “described doing press tours while on the hit Fox drama as a closeted gay man” and realized how many times he “did not speak out."

"I had multiple opportunities to speak my truth, which was that I was gay," he said. "But I chose not to. I was out in private, to family and friends ... but professionally, publicly, I was not."

Miller made headlines several weeks ago when he wrote a letter declining an offer to appear at Russia's St. Petersburg Film Festival because of the country's anti-gay laws. "As someone who has enjoyed visiting Russia in the past and can also claim a degree of Russian ancestry, it would make me happy to say yes. However, as a gay man, I must decline," he stated at the time.

Miller's next project is the feature film "The Loft," a thriller, and he is actively writing several other screen projects, according to THR.

wentworth-miller.jpgWentworth Miller

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Why VOD, After a Slow Start, Is Finally Taking Hold

A new report from Nielsen indicates that video-on-demand is finally coming into its own after a slow start. The report says VOD is now available in 60% of American households, according to the Los Angeles Times. That figure represents “a dramatic increase” from just five years ago, when the services were “slow to catch on with consumers,” the story reports.

"VOD is not a new technology. It's been around over 10 years," said Dounia Turrill, senior vice president of insights at Nielsen. "But the big difference is, over the past year or so, it has really transformed significantly."

“Turrill said the on-demand viewing technology has gotten easier to use and that, coupled with broadcast and cable networks now more willing to offer episodes of current TV shows on the platform, is making VOD more customer-friendly," the Times reports. "Cable and satellite subscribers are now no longer out of luck if they forgot to record a show with their digital video recorder. And many homes still don't have a DVR."

Said Turrill: "DVRs are in 50% of households, which by definition means they’re not in 50% of households. VOD platforms ... provide the ability to time-shift to homes that don't have the equipment. So, I think that's a very big development."

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What's Up With Eminem in That Awkward Interview With Brent Musburger? Here's the Video

Detroit native Eminem joined ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit and Brent Musburger at halftime of the Michigan-Notre Dame game, and according to Business Insider, “it was deeply weird.”

The rapper “seemed spaced out and was sparse with his words at first,” the story reports.

Herbstreit, sensing the interview was not going well, urged the production team to send it to commercial after a minute or two.

"Live TV freaks me out a little bit," Eminem said.

“Eminem got a little more responsive when they came back from commercial,” the story notes, “but it was still awkward.”

Musburger tried to get the rapper to talk about gambling and the Detroit Lions, and Eminem finished the segment “by talking about how he has Musburger on his announcer fantasy team," the piece reports.

The rapper ended the interview by saying he was “really uncomfortable right now.” Eminem was on the broadcast to promote his new album.

Here's a taste:

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Jessica Lange Gets a Love Interest on 'American Horror Story: Coven'

Jessica Lange's character on FX's "American Horror Story" will have a love interest during the show's third season, with an actor from the Starz drama series "Magic City" joining "American Horror Story: Coven." The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Danny Huston will join the cast of “Coven” opposite Lange.

“American Horror Story” showrunner Ryan Murphy tweeted Sunday to announce the latest casting, THR reports.

“Coven,” which examines the secret history of witchcraft in America, stars Lange as a witch, along with Kathy Bates playing historical figure “Madame LaLurie, a Louisiana-born socialite and serial killer who kept slaves bound in her home,” and Angela Bassett as voodoo expert and cult leader Marie Laveau.

Huston, who is the half-brother of actress Anjelica Huston and the son of director John Huston, played Ben "The Butcher" Diamond on "Magic City," which wrapped last month after a two-season run. He will play a love interest for Lange's Fiona on "Coven."

Danny-Huston.jpgDanny Huston

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'Big Get' for PBS and CBS: A Charlie Rose Interview With Syrian President Bashar al-Assad; Obama Makes the Rounds of the TV Networks

CBS News was making plans early today to air a Charlie Rose interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on today's morning and evening newscasts, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

"CBS has billed the interview as the first television questioning that Assad has been given in two years. Rose interviewed Assad in Damascus at the presidential palace on Sunday, the network said in a statement," THR reports. "Clips from the interview will first appear on CBS's morning show on Monday. The interview will also be aired on 'The Charlie Rose Show' on PBS at 9 pm ET."

President Obama, meanwhile, was taping interviews today with CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, CNN and Fox News that are expected to be televised tonight.

"Obama is expected to make the case for why Congress should authorize the use of military force against Syria after the Assad regime's alleged chemical weapons use on its civilians," THR reports.

The story adds: "Rose previewed the Assad interview on 'Face the Nation' on Sunday. Rose said that Assad denied 'that he had anything to do with the attack.'"

Here's the clip from "Face the Nation":

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It's the First New York-Area Super Bowl, But an Out-of-Towner Gets Coveted Halftime Gig

The New York Daily News reports that the NFL, “stiff-arming local superstars like Bon Jovi, Billy Joel and Jay Z,” has “drafted out-of-towner Bruno Mars” to headline the Pepsi Super Bowl XLVIII Halftime Show at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014 -- the first New York-area Super Bowl.

Not all New Yorkers were thrilled about the pick, according to the story. “Yuck,” said Joe Dowbenko, 21, of Brooklyn, while knocking back buffalo wings on a football Saturday. “I just don’t affiliate Bruno Mars with football. He’s too sensitive.”

The report adds: “While the hit-making Hawaiian’s singing is not at question, local fans blitzed NFL officials for ignoring the deep roster of New York and New Jersey talent."

“If the options are like Springsteen, Bon Jovi or Bruno Mars -- I mean, Bruno Mars doesn’t have anything to do with New York,” said football fan Sandy Shelton, 26, of Hell's Kitchen.

Superstar Beyonce performed at last year’s Super Bowl in New Orleans. Other recent performers include Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, The Who, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Paul McCartney.

Not everybody thought picking platinum-selling Mars -- known for “Unorthodox Jukebox” -- was a fumble, the story adds.

“I have no problem with it,” said Eric Bishop, 30, of the upper West Side. “He’s at the top of the charts. He’s very good.”

BrunoMarssongPics1UjEywkLCp66EnM.jpgBruno Mars

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TV Ad Spending Rises in Second Quarter

Television ad spending jumped in the second quarter of 2013, bringing spending into positive territory for the first half of the year, based on a new study from Kantar Media.

B&C reports that spending in the second quarter was up 6.4% to $18.4 billion, based on Kantar figures. The gain boosted first-half ad spending growth to 3.3%

"The gains were caused partly because of extra NBA playoff games on both broadcast and cable, Kantar said. Also, a year ago, spending was depressed somewhat by the lead-up to the Summer Olympics, making this year’s gain appear larger," B&C reports.

The report adds that ad spending on broadcast network TV “was up 4.9% to $5.3 billion in the quarter, but remained down 0.6% for the first half of the year. Cable grew 14.9% to $6.9 billion in the quarter, bringing its gains for the half to 10.1%.”

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MGM 'Not Toxic Anymore'; How the Company Turned It Around -- and Which New TV and Feature Projects Are on the Way

For much of the past decade, “Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has been troubled by financial turmoil and infuriating production stops and starts, including a debacle in which Tom Cruise helped run its United Artists label,” The New York Times reports.

That scenario might finally be changing, especially after “Skyfall,” starring Daniel Craig as James Bond, took in $1.1 billion.

Shares of MGM Holdings’ thinly traded over-the-counter stock have risen 50 percent since April, to about $58.50, the story says. “Revenue almost tripled in the last quarter, to $339 million, according to the company. Helped by repeated Standard & Poor’s upgrades over the last three years, MGM now has access to revolving lines of credit totaling $750 million.”

Kevin Ulrich, co-founder of Anchorage Capital Group, a New York investment firm that is MGM’s largest single owner, with a 30 percent stake, said: “The company was on death’s doorstep and now has effectively no debt and is generating a ton of cash. That’s an outstanding turnaround.”

Most important, new movies are flowing from the studio. “A remake of ‘Carrie’ arrives on Oct. 18, while the blockbuster ‘Hobbit’ series returns in December," the story reports. "‘RoboCop,’ ‘22 Jump Street’ and ‘Hercules’ come next year. MGM’s James Bond franchise returns in 2015 and remakes of ‘Ben-Hur’ and ‘Poltergeist’ are in the works.”

MGM’s television business, “a vital part of its growth strategy, is also showing momentum,” the story says. "‘Vikings’ had its debut on the History channel and was an instant hit. ‘Teen Wolf’ continues on MTV, while 'Paternity Court' arrives in syndication on Sept. 23 and a series adapted from 'Fargo' chugs toward FX.”

“The MGM name had become pretty toxic, both in the financial community and the creative one, and that’s certainly not the case anymore,” Gary Barber, MGM’s chief executive, said last week in a wide-ranging interview. He added, “I feel that MGM is fully rehabilitated.”

But MGM has “blown the comeback trumpets before only to have its owners cash out and leave the studio reeling anew,” the report notes. “The billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian, for instance, bought and sold the studio three times between 1969 and 2005. By that measure, the studio’s long-term future is far from clear.”

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NFL Opener Surges From Last Year, Lifting NBC to Dominant Night

Thursday night was a big night for football and NBC in the broadcast ratings, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the season kickoff pitting the Denver Broncos against the Baltimore Ravens delivered a preliminary 10.4 average rating in the demo, surging 20% from the number for last year's opener -- which aired on Wednesday, Sept. 5.

NBC's pre-game show, "Football Night in America," delivered a 6.5 average in viewers 18-49, 15% better than the preliminary number a year ago.

The closest any other program on broadcast could come was a 2.4 average in 18-49 for CBS's "Big Brother," up 33% from last week. ABC's two-hour "Wipeout" settled for a 1.1 (down 8% from its previous original), while "Rookie Blue" managed a 1.0 (up 11% from last week).

Fox aired all repeats, and CBS surrounded "Big Brother" with repeats.

NBC's dominance is reflected in the numbers for prime time overall, with the Peacock Network way out in front of the pack with a 9.2 average in adults 18-49, followed by CBS (1.5 average), Univision (1.4), ABC (1.1) and Fox (0.5). The picture in total viewers is similar, with NBC leading the way with 23.2 million, well ahead of CBS (5.9 million), ABC (3.8 million), Univision (3.5 million) and Fox (1.6 million).

Due to the nature of live programming, the preliminary numbers for NBC are subject to more than the usual adjustments.

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Video: Really Bad Twerk Fail Lights Up Internet

This is one time when a "worst ever" video really IS the worst ever. A video of what's being called the worst twerk fail ever has caught fire, so to speak, in online video circles and has gone viral -- and for good reason.

We would rather not spoil the fun, so just watch ... here it is:

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Syfy Drama Casts Lead, Key Cast Members

An actor from the NBC drama "Kings" has been cast as the lead in a new Syfy drama project. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the lead in "Dominion" goes to Chris Egan.

The drama pilot is based on characters in the 2010 feature film "Legion," the piece notes. Tom Wisdom and Alan Dale have also nabbed key roles in the new production.

"From Universal Cable Productions, 'Dominion' is described as a supernatural action drama set 25 years in the future after a war between an army of angels and mankind has transformed the world. The drama follows the journey of a rebellious young soldier who discovers he's the unlikely savior of humanity," the story reports.

The report adds: "Egan will play Alex Lannen, an orphan with a rebellious and protective streak. He's a grunt soldier in Michael's Archangel Corp but destined for more than his lowly classification in Vega's post-Extermination War society might indicate."

Wisdom, who appeared in "300," will play the archangels' greatest warrior, and Dale, seen in "The O.C.," is set to play a general who is a leader of the humans.

"'Legion' co-writer/director Scott Stewart will direct the pilot and executive produce alongside Bold Films' Michel Litvak and David Lancaster. Vaun Wilmott, who is also penning Syfy's miniseries development project 'Ringworld,' will write and co-exec produce," the report notes.

chris-egan.jpgChris Egan

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Big Finish for Two Cable Shows

The season finales of two ABC Family series delivered strong viewer numbers for the cable network Wednesday night, B&C reports. Both "Melissa & Joey" and "Baby Daddy" delivered season highs.

"The third-season finale of 'Melissa & Joey' garnered 1.1 million total viewers and averaged 704,000 adults 18-49 at 8 p.m.," the story reports. "The episode also drew season highs among women 18-49 (471,000), viewers 12-34 (589,000), and females 12-34 (400,000)."

The report adds: "At 8:30 p.m., 'Baby Daddy' concluded its second-season run with 1.3 million total viewers and 502,000 adults 18-34. The show also earned season highs among adults 18-49 (801,000), women 18-49 (497,000), viewers 12-34 (693,000) and females 12-34 (446,000)."

Both shows are due back for holiday episodes in December, the report notes.

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Lamar Odom Leaves Rehab, Hires O.J. Simpson Lawyer

One day after checking into a rehab center to deal with his drug addiction, NBA player and reality TV personality Lamar Odom checked out, according to People magazine.

“The pro basketball player, 32, checked into the drug and alcohol center on Wednesday morning and left Thursday afternoon with an assistant, according to two sources. Odom was later spotted in Los Angeles,” the story says.

Odom, who is married to reality star Khloe Kardashian Odom and is one of the stars of the E! reality series "Khloe & Lamar," was arrested last week for allegedly driving under the influence and has a history of drug use, the piece reports.

He “violated NBA drug policies twice in eight months back in 2001, and spoke in 2003 of his marijuana use,” the story notes.

TMZ.com reports that Khloe was unaware that her husband had entered rehab, and indicates Odom's drug issues appear to be putting a strain on the marriage.

"Sources close to the couple tell us Khloe never got so much as a heads-up about Lamar's plans, and was completely blindsided by the report he's checked in for treatment," TMZ reports. "We're told one big reason for that is Khloe and Lamar have not been talking at all since she issued an ultimatum last weekend -- get help or our marriage is over -- intending to force his hand on the issue of rehab."

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reports that Odom has hired former O.J. Simpson attorney Robert Shapiro.

"Shapiro is a longtime family friend of Odom's wife, Khloe Kardashian Odom, and served alongside Robert Kardashian, Khloe's father, as part of O.J. Simpson's legal team when a court verdict found the football star not guilty of the 1994 killings of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman," the Times reports.

The Times story adds that Odom is reportedly receiving treatment for his drug problems. "Two sources told the Times that Odom is getting treatment for his problems but is not in rehab," the story notes.

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Poll: America's Four Favorite TV Shows Are All on One Network -- But Which New Shows Are Most Eagerly Anticipated?

The results of a new poll show that all of the top four television shows named as U.S. viewers' favorites are on the same network. MediaPost reports that four CBS shows top the list, which is based on a Harris poll of almost 2,300 adults.

The top shows, in order, are “The Big Bang Theory,” “NCIS,” “Criminal Minds” and “CSI." The results reflect, to some extent, the overall position of CBS as the most-viewed network, the report notes.

"NBC’s 'Law & Order: SVU' finished fifth, followed by a pair of cable shows in AMC’s 'Breaking Bad' and A&E’s 'Duck Dynasty,'" the report adds. "Fox’s 'Family Guy' and ABC’s 'Modern Family' and another CBS series, 'Person of Interest,' round out the top 10."

The online survey, conducted in August, asks the question: “Thinking about the shows that are currently on television, which two or three are your favorite shows?”

While CBS came in on top in the poll and in the ratings, the report notes significant differences between the two measures.

"The leaders don't have much correlation with ratings last season," the piece reports. "Using household averages, by one measure 'NCIS' and 'Big Bang' finished first and third, respectively. But 'Criminal Minds' and 'CSI' finished in ties for 17th and 19th, respectively."

The piece also notes that “Law & Order: SVU” finished in a tie for 53rd, but it adds: "Reruns on the likes of MyNetworkTV may have helped boost its popularity. So might legacy appreciation for the 'Law & Order' franchise when it comes to a survey."

"The Big Bang Theory" came in as the favorite program among men, while "NCIS" was tops among women, the report adds.

The upcoming season doesn't necessarily shape up well for CBS, based on the poll, the article notes. The piece says the poll indicates "ABC’s 'Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD' is the new series that viewers are most looking forward to watching, followed by NBC’s 'Michael J. Fox Show,' Fox’s 'Sleepy Hollow,' CBS’s 'The Crazy Ones' and ABC’s 'Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.'"

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Judge Sides With Broadcasters, Shuts Down Website That Retransmits Programming

Aereo-like services that retransmit local TV programming over the Internet without paying broadcasters could be facing some serious problems, according to TheWrap.com.

On Thursday a Washington, D.C., judge issued a temporary injunction to shut down FilmOnX across most of the country, ruling that the service violates copyright laws, the story says.

“The court finds that the provisions of the 1976 [Telecommunications] Act that protect plaintiffs' work are clear. FilmOnX’s service violates plaintiffs’ ‘exclusive right … to perform the copyrighted work publicly,” wrote the judge.

The lawsuit was filed by TV stations in Washington whose signals were being aired by FilmOnX, the story says, adding: “Other plaintiffs include CBS and CBS Studios, Disney, Gannett, Telemundo and Universal Network Television.”

The judge rejected FilmOnX’s argument that its “thousands of mini antennas, each tied to an individual subscriber, mean the company is not retransmitting a broadcaster’s signal,” the story says.

“The ruling is likely to set the stage for a quick appeal -- and potentially push the case toward a Supreme Court decision if Congress doesn’t step in to clarify the law,” the report adds.

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TV Show Sets a Guinness World Record: It's the Highest Rated of Them All, Based on Critics' Scores

A current television series now holds a Guinness World Record. The upcoming edition of the Guinness organization's book, "Guinness World Records 2014," lists the AMC series "Breaking Bad" as the world's new Highest-Rated TV Series, EW.com reports.

“The show set the record based on its 99 out of 100 average critics’ rating on review aggregator Metacritic,” the story says, adding: “Guinness previously honored ‘Mad Men,’ ‘Sons of Anarchy’ and ‘Downton Abbey’ with that title."

The book is set to come out Sept. 12.

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Nikki Finke Seeks Control of Her Website

The feud between Deadline.com's Nikki Finke’s and Variety owner -- and Deadline.com owner -- Jay Penske is well-known in the entertainment industry. But according to The Wall Street Journal, Finke now wants to buy back control of the Deadline.com website, or start a new one.

“Either move would cause a stir throughout Hollywood, where the name ‘Nikki’ is a brand of its own thanks to Ms. Finke's trademark mix of scoops, snark and vitriol against those she believes have crossed her,” the story reports. “The fact that the former Associated Press and Newsweek writer hasn't been photographed or seen in public in decades only adds to her mystique.”

After Penske purchased Variety last year, Deadline founder and editor Finke “became unhappy that he didn't give her a role at the older and more famous competitor,” the story reports.

WSJ adds: “It is still possible Ms. Finke and Mr. Penske will resolve their differences, but they disagree on the key question of the terms under which Ms. Finke could depart Deadline.com under her employment contract.”

“Ms. Finke had told several people she expected to take charge of Variety when Mr. Penske bought it,” the story says. “They said she was upset to learn she would play no role as Mr. Penske oversaw a number of changes, including ending a five-day-a-week paper, relaunching a weekly edition as a magazine, and eliminating a website paywall. At the same time, Ms. Finke believed Deadline wasn't receiving adequate resources from Penske Media.”

The report continues: “Ms. Finke said she believes that in order for the publications to coexist as corporate siblings, they need to stop playing on the same turf. ’It is very clear that our specialty is breaking news,’ she said of Deadline. ’I would like to see Variety's specialty be analysis and commentary.’"

Finke reportedly said that if she can't regain control of Deadline.com, she might build a new entertainment news website at NikkiFinke.com.

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Valerie Harper Reveals Why She Said Yes to 'Dancing With the Stars'

Legendary TV actress Valerie Harper, who is battling brain cancer, opened up about her illness and her upcoming appearance on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." In an interview with People magazine, Harper said: "When life asks you to dance, you just have to dance."

People reports: "For the past two weeks, the actress has been enduring grueling four-hour-a-day dance rehearsals in anticipation of her Sept. 16 debut on 'Dancing with The Stars.'"

Said Harper: "I feel much better. And my brain scans are looking better too. The doctors tell me there's less evidence of cancer, which is very unusual. However, they both say it's not a case of if, but when. And I can live with that."

The story adds: "Harper broke the news that she has leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare, lethal form of cancer that strikes the membranes surrounding the brain, in People this past March. Her inspiring attitude of living each day to the fullest touched millions, so it's hardly surprising that the former Broadway dancer signed on to appear on the hit ABC show, dancing beside Tristan MacManus."

Harper admits in the interview that her appearance carries with it a certain degree of fear, saying: "I'd been asked to do this before, but I always said no because I started dancing on Broadway at 17. It helped pay for my acting lessons. And I didn't want to appear on the show and fumble because of my diagnosis."

The story adds: "But ever since June, her doctors have been 'ecstatic' with the results of her brain scans, which have begun showing increasingly 'less evidence of cancer.' Buoyed by the diagnosis and physically feeling better than she has in months, Harper hopes it 'might prove inspiring to people to see a 74-year-old woman with terminal cancer dancing.'"

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

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Lawsuit Related to HBO's 'Luck' Accuses Hollywood of Routinely Concealing Animal Deaths, Injuries

HBO and Stewart Productions, the producer of the ill-fated horse racing drama series "Luck," are seeking to distance themselves from a lawsuit filed by a former American Humane Association employee.

The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq., reports that an amended filing in the case, from former AHA Director of Production Barbara Casey, alleges animal abuse is rampant in Hollywood and accuses the AHA of "kowtowing" to Hollywood producers -- especially HBO.

Casey was fired by AHA after she complained about alleged mistreatment of horses during production of "Luck," on which three horses reportedly died. She has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against AHA, and is fighting to have HBO and Stewart Productions included in the suit.

"In an amended complaint that alleges that the entertainment companies are liable for 'aiding and abetting a wrongful termination,' she claims that the AHA 'kowtows' to Hollywood producers," THR reports. "Her legal papers included graphic pictures and discussed how her former employer looked the other way or covered up animal abuse on such productions as 'The Life of Pi,' 'War Horse' and 'The Hobbit.'"

The report adds: "Casey reserved special scorn for AHA's relationship with HBO, and now the cable network has struck back with a motion to strike her lawsuit."

HBO and Stewart are invoking the First Amendment in their argument against what they reportedly see as a frivolous lawsuit, the story notes.

The article quotes their argument in part: "The alleged acts by HBO and Stewart that form the basis of plaintiff's claims against them were unquestionably in furtherance of defendants' right of free speech because they were in aid of and incorporated into a broadcast in connection with a public issue."

"They add that horse-racing scenes were the 'core of the program's content' and that 'the animal actors in "Luck" were an essential element of both the drama and the excitement of "Luck" and they were fundamental to the series' creativity,'" THR reports.

The judge handling the case has already indicated an inclination toward letting HBO and Stewart out of the case, the report notes.

"The AHA is also unhappy with Casey's litigation," THR adds. "Upon the filing of her amended complaint, which made allegations like AHA's president attending red carpet events with producers and celebrities, and AHA having conflicts that resulted in the 'concealing (of) animal deaths and injuries as a matter of course,' the organization made a public rebuke."

The report quotes a statement from the AHA saying: "We absolutely and categorically deny the sensationalist, inflammatory, misleading and untrue allegations in Ms. Casey's amended complaint, and we look forward to vigorously defending ourselves through the proper legal channels."

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FCC May Scrap UHF Discount; Resolution Near in Bloomberg-Comcast Dispute

Acting Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn announced that the panel's Sept. 26 public meeting will include a “vote on the proposal to do away with the UHF discount and an order resolving Bloomberg's long-standing complaint against Comcast for alleged violation of the FCC's news neighborhooding condition in the NBCU merger,” B&C reports.

“Currently the FCC only counts half of a UHF station's audience total toward the 39% national ownership cap,” the story says. “That rule dates from the analog TV days when UHF signals were inferior to VHF. The reverse is true in the digital age.”

According to the story, removing the discount “would prevent some super groups, like Sinclair, from getting any more super. And if it were applied to deals in the pipeline [it] would create problems for Tribune’s purchase of local TV stations. It is expected to grandfather any current combos.”

According to sources familiar with the document, the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) also explicitly asks whether, given that turnabout in UHF/VHF fortunes, the FCC should now consider applying the discount to VHFs, the story says.

“The FCC is expected to approve the UHF discount NPRM, but that is no guarantee it will act expeditiously on an order,” the story reports. “It may have signaled the move earlier in the month, when it proposed starting in 2014 to charge UHFs and VHFs the same regulatory fees, rather than charging UHFs less, as it has been doing, also an artifact of its inferior analog status.”

Bloomberg has been pushing the FCC to make a final decision on its complaint against Comcast for what Bloomberg alleges is a violation of the news neighborhooding condition the FCC imposed as a condition of allowing Comcast to meld with NBCU, the story says.

The FCC in May 2012 agreed with Bloomberg that Comcast needed to group news channels in adjacent channel positions to comply with the NBCU deal condition. That condition was meant to prevent Comcast from favoring its co-owned news nets, like MSNBC and CNBC, over independents.

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Disney Defeats Lawsuit Over Stan Lee Comic Book Franchises -- Again

A Colorado judge dealt another blow to Stan Lee Media, the company the comic book legend founded in the mid-1990s, which lost its franchises including Fantastic Four, X-Men and Spider-Man after emerging from bankruptcy a decade ago.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Stan Lee Media “has attempted to hold various parties responsible for that fate,” including Lee himself, Marvel, and “last but not least, Disney.”

“Last October, SLM filed a billion dollar lawsuit that alleged Disney had committed copyright infringement on Lee's famous comic characters, ‘based upon Disney's independently actionable conduct which occurred after April 2009,’" the story says.

The article adds: “Even though SLM argued that this case was different than what came before, U.S. District Judge William Martinez disagrees."

In a ruling Thursday, the judge wrote: "Plaintiff has tried time and again to claim ownership of those copyrights; the litigation history arising out of the 1998 Agreement stretches over more than a decade and at least six courts. Taking its cue from the Southern District of New York and the Central District of California, this Court holds that Plaintiff is precluded from re-litigating the issue of its ownership of copyrights based on the 1998 Agreement."

The judge added that SLM can't make a claim of copyright infringement, because such a claim first requires “ownership of a valid copyright," the story adds.

stan-lee.pngStan Lee

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'Sunny' Helps New Cable Channel Get Off to a Strong Start

“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” got off to a good start with its first appearance on FX’s new offshoot network FXX, according to TheWrap.com.

“The Season 9 premiere of ‘Always Sunny’ Wednesday at 10 p.m. drew 757,000 total viewers,” the story says. “In the 18-49 demographic most important to advertisers, the comedy grabbed 648,000 viewers, which is 80 percent of what the Season 8 premiere drew on FX -- an encouraging number, given that FX is carried in 26 million more homes than FXX is.”

“The League,” starting its fifth season, also premiered on FXX and performed well at 10:30, improving its “Sunny” lead-in with 786,000 total viewers, including 687,000 in the 18-49 demo -- a 9% increase over the show's season four average, the story adds.

Said FX Networks and FX Productions CEO John Landgraf: “The numbers last night on FXX for ‘Sunny’ and ‘The League’ far exceeded our highest expectations. To have just launched the channel three days ago and get these ratings is thrilling. The delivery of these shows needs no qualification, they are proven appointment viewing for young adult audiences."

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DirecTV Announces Series From Writer-Director Neil LaBute

DirecTV has tapped playwright, screenwriter and director Neil LaBute (“The Shape of Things,” “In the Company of Men") to write and produce a series of 10 short films to air on DirecTV’s Audience Network, Deadline.com reports.

The deal was announced a month before the premiere of DirecTV’s limited series “Full Circle,” also based on LaBute’s scripts, but this time around LaBute plans to be more involved with the production, the story says.

Chris Long, SVP of DirecTV’s original content and production, said LaBute will be given “full creative control” over the short films.

“We are proud that Neil has chosen DirecTV as the first place to write, produce and direct his own material,” Long said. “The films will be produced with a true auteur model; we’re striving for the least possible distance between the artist’s vision and the final product.”

The project is aiming for a quick turnaround. Production is set to begin this month, with the films slated to begin airing in the late fall, the story says.

neil-labute.pngNeil LaBute

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Motion Picture Academy Names Recipients of Honorary Oscars -- Angelina Jolie on Tap for Prestigious Award, Along With a Versatile Comedian and a TV Fixture

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Thursday that Angelina Jolie will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her philanthropic work, according to The New York Times.

Jolie, who won a best supporting actress award in 2000 for “Girl, Interrupted,” “has collaborated extensively with the Council on Foreign Relations and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and has visited many refugee camps,” the story reports.

Other honorary Oscars will go to Angela Lansbury, who has received three Academy Award nominations over her career; Steve Martin, a three-time Oscar host who is known for his versatility as a writer, actor, comedian and musician; and Piero Tosi, a costume designer who collaborated with the Italian director Luchino Visconti, the story says.

Even after her successful film career, Lansbury is perhaps best known for her long run on CBS's "Murder, She Wrote," which earned the actress 12 of her 18 Emmy nominations. Lansbury has yet to win an Emmy.

“The academy’s Thalberg Award, which periodically honors a film producer for outstanding lifetime achievement, will not be presented, for the third year in a row,” the story reports. “The last person to receive the Thalberg Award was Francis Ford Coppola in 2010.”

The Oscar ceremony will be televised March 2, with the Governors Awards to be presented at a dinner ceremony Nov. 16, the story notes.

Thumbnail image for angelina-jolie.jpgAngelina Jolie

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Non-TV Story of the Day: The NSA Has Been Able to Foil Basic Safeguards of Privacy on the Internet

"The National Security Agency (NSA) is winning its long-running secret war on encryption, using supercomputers, technical trickery, court orders and behind-the-scenes persuasion to undermine the major tools protecting the privacy of everyday communications in the Internet age, according to newly disclosed documents," The New York Times reports.

The story continues: "Many users assume -- or have been assured by Internet companies -- that their data is safe from prying eyes, including those of the government, and the NSA wants to keep it that way. The agency treats its recent successes in deciphering protected information as among its most closely guarded secrets, restricted to those cleared for a highly classified program code-named Bullrun, according to the documents, provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former NSA contractor."

The story adds: "The agency has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption, or digital scrambling, that guards global commerce and banking systems, protects sensitive data like trade secrets and medical records, and automatically secures the e-mails, Web searches, Internet chats and phone calls of Americans and others around the world, the documents show."

The article also says: "The NSA hacked into target computers to snare messages before they were encrypted. In some cases, companies say they were coerced by the government into handing over their master encryption keys or building in a back door. And the agency used its influence as the world’s most experienced code maker to covertly introduce weaknesses into the encryption standards followed by hardware and software developers around the world."

To read more of this article about the NSA and privacy over the Internet, please click on the link in our first paragraph, above.

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He Worked on Some of the Most Famous Shows on TV: 'Playhouse 90,' 'Twilight Zone,' 'Gilligan's Island,' 'Bewitched' and 'Charlie's Angels.' And Wait Until You Read His Account About the Emmys. Writer-Producer William Froug Dies at 91

Variety writes that as a television writer/producer, William Froug "was attached to series including 'The Twilight Zone,' 'Gilligan’s Island,' 'Charlie’s Angels,' 'Playhouse 90' and 'Adventures in Paradise.' His involvement in 'Bewitched' earned him a shared Emmy nomination for outstanding comedy series in 1967."

The story also says that Froug, "the Emmy-winning writer-producer, author and screenwriting professor who restructured UCLA’s entire screenwriting program, died of natural causes at the Tidwell House Hospice in Sarasota, Florida, on Aug. 25, 2013. He was 91."  Though he died a week ago Sunday, the Hollywood trades only wrote about his death late yesterday afternoon, and today, Sept. 6.

The Variety obituary adds: "In 1958, Froug won an Emmy for best produced television series for 'Eddie,' for which he also received a Producers Guild Award. Among other accolades, he received the Writers Guild of America, West’s Valentine Davies Award for industry/community service in 1987 and was named one of the 'Emmy Legends of Television' by the Archive of American Television last year."

Besides being an executive at CBS, at various times Froug taught at both UCLA and USC.

The Variety story also notes: "Froug is survived by four children -- Suzy Allegra, Nancy Earth, Lisa Froug-Hirano and Jonathon Froug --[four grandchildren and two great grandchildren], and was married to Christine Michaels at the time of his death."

Here's a terrific story Froug tells about his Emmy-winning show "Eddie." This is from Froug's 2005 autobiography, "How I Escaped From 'Gilligan's Island' and Other Misadventures of a Hollywood Writer-Producer."

The year was 1958. and Froug was producing shows for the half-hour drama anthology series "Alcoa Goodyear Theatre." He received an unusual script -- a show that consisted of a single monologue. Froug loved the script, titled "Eddie." It was about a gambler who had to raise money to pay off his debts by a certain hour, or he was going to be killed. Immediately, Froug thought of one actor to play the part: Mickey Rooney. (Five years later Froug would also use Rooney as the only actor in a "Twlight Zone" episode called "The Last Night of a Jockey.")

Here is some of what Froug wrote about "Eddie" in his autobiography:

"As it turned out, Rooney could have directed himself. [As the cameras rolled] I could only stare with amazement as this superb actor picked up the prop phone and instantly became Eddie, making his desperate pitch to his customers, his brother, and finally his mother; a lonely, isolated man pleading for his life. With no actor to play against, it was a virtuoso performance. Rooney's face broke out in sweat, his eyes searching the tiny apartment as if seeking divine intervention. Mickey Rooney's performance defined talent. He was even better than I had imagined. ... When we finished shooting after a little more than two days, the entire crew gave Rooney a richly deserved standing ovation."

Froug continues: "When the print was edited we showed the rough cut to a few Screen Gems executives. They came out of the projection room with raves. 'It's an Emmy for Rooney, no doubt about it,' was the consensus. You could feel the excitement around the Screen Gems offices. We had something special."

Finally it was time for the Emmys to be presented. The show itself won. Froug writes, "It turned out to be 'Eddie's' night. Jack Smight won as best director, and Al Brenner won one for adapting Kenneth Hughes' script."

Rooney was up against five other actors in the category "Best Single Performance of the Year." Four of the others -- Rod Steiger, Christopher Plummer, Paul Muni and Robert Crawford Jr. -- were nominated for their performances playing characters in various other drama anthologies. The fifth nominee was Fred Astaire, who was up for playing himself singing and dancing in his TV special "An Evening with Fred Astaire." Astaire won the Emmy.

Froug writes: "Entering the men's room at the Earl Carroll Theater after the ceremonies were over, I discovered Rooney at the sink, staring at his image in the mirror. 'Fuck 'em!' he yelled. 'Fuck 'em all! Who needs the bastards!' He turned away form the sink and staggered drunkenly out the door, barely able to navigate. Who could blame him?"

william-froug-book-cover.jpgWilliam Froug pictured on the cover of his autobiography

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Alec Baldwin Gets a New Show

Actor Alec Baldwin -- who has been making more headlines lately for his run-ins with the paparazzi than for his career moves -- is making career news today. MSNBC made the official announcement that Baldwin will have a show on the cable news channel.

The news confirms reports last month that MSNBC had the "30 Rock" star in mind as it tweaks its lineup.

"Up Late w/Alec Baldwin" will air Friday nights on the channel from 10-11 p.m. ET. The show, which will focus on current events and culture, is set to bow next month.

In the announcement, Baldwin said: “After two seasons of my WNYC podcast, I’ve developed a fondness for hosting a show that involved talking with smart, talented and engaging people in every imaginable field. I’m grateful to MSNBC for helping me bring a similar show to television.”

The show's official announcement came from MSNBC President Phil Griffin.

Said Griffin: “I’ve been talking with Alec for a while and can’t wait to bring his personality and eclectic interests to MSNBC. He’s got such passion for ideas and what’s going on in the world -- he’s going to be a great addition to our lineup.”

The announcement notes: "Baldwin is the winner of two Emmy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, eight SAG Awards and a Television Critics Association Award for his role as Jack Donaghy on NBC’s '30 Rock.' He is one of Hollywood’s most charismatic and prolific actors, having appeared in over 40 films. Baldwin garnered raves for his performance in Martin Scorsese’s 'The Departed' and a 2004 Academy Award nomination for his role in 'The Cooler' opposite William H. Macy."

The release adds: "Baldwin has hosted the popular podcast 'Here’s the Thing' on WNYC since 2011. On 'Here’s the Thing,' Baldwin has interviewed a variety of public figures including politicians, policy makers, performers and artists, ranging from David Letterman to Dick Cavett to Republican political strategist Ed Rollins."

alec-baldwin2.jpgAlec Baldwin

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Video: Jimmy Fallon Uses Puppies to Pick the Winner of Tonight's NFL Opener

The NFL season kicks off tonight, and NBC's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" got in on the excitement last night by predicting the winner of the opener between the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens -- using puppies. The winner is determined by which of two bowls of kibble ends up with more puppies choosing it.

Fallon's puppies have a pretty good track record. The Hollywood Reporter notes that the method was used to successfully pick the Super Bowl winner earlier this year.

Here's the clip:

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HBO Takes Wraps Off Plans for Woody Harrelson-Matthew McConaughey Drama Series

HBO revealed plans today to roll out a new drama series starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey. Deadline.com reports that the eight-episode series, "True Detective," will debut in January.

"The project centers on detectives Rust Cohle (McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Harrelson), whose lives collide and entwine during a 17-year hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana," the story reports. "The investigation of a bizarre murder in 1995 is framed and interlaced with testimony from the detectives in 2012, when the case was reopened."

The piece adds that the first trailer for the new series is set to run this Sunday before HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" season premiere.

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With His New Show Coming Up on Fox, Universal Renews Pact With 'Parks and Recreation' Showrunner

"Parks and Recreation" showrunner Michael Schur has reupped his deal with Universal TV, extending until 2016, reports The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The deal comes as Fox is about to debut his second comedy, "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." Meanwhile, NBC's "Parks and Recreation" is about to enter its sixth season.

"Mike is a wildly talented writer and, hands-down, one of the best showrunners in the business,” Universal TV exec VP Bela Bajaria said in a statement.

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Reality Wednesday: NBC's 'Talent,' CBS's 'Big Brother' and Fox's 'MasterChef' in Tight Battle

A batch of major broadcast reality shows waged a close battle for ratings supremacy Wednesday night, with "America's Got Talent," "Big Brother" and "MasterChef" all finishing within a few tenths of a point of each other, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC's "Talent" squeezed ahead by a narrow margin, coming in as the top show of the night with a 2.3 average in viewers 18-49. CBS's "Big Brother" was close behind with a 2.2, while Fox's "MasterChef" delivered a 2.1 for the 9 p.m. installment along with a 1.9 for another episode at 8 p.m.

The numbers for "MasterChef" were sufficient to give Fox the win for the night, with Fox's 2.0 average in the 18-49 demo leading the way, followed by NBC (1.6 average), Univision (1.4), CBS (1.4) and ABC (1.0). But Fox had to settle for third in total viewers, where NBC came out on top with 6.5 million, ahead of CBS (5.7 million), Fox (5.2 million), ABC (3.8 million) and Univision (3.5 million).

The bulk of the other programming on the broadcast nets consisted of repeats, with two exceptions: ABC's season finale of "The Lookout" aired at 10 p.m., rising 43% from last week's episode to a still not great 1.0 average in 18-49. In the same time slot, a fresh episode of NBC's "Camp" also had a 1.0, climbing 11% from last week's series low. Both shows finished behind a repeat of CBS's "CSI," which won the hour with a 1.1.

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Lippin Group Names President of Corporate Communications, Eyes Expansion of Global Business

The global entertainment, media and lifestyle public relations agency The Lippin Group has named a new president of corporate communications. The company announced today that it has promoted Donald Ciaramella to the post.

"Mr. Ciaramella will look to further the company’s growth in both traditional and new media, while continuing to manage the company’s New York office," the company said in its announcement. "In this newly created role, he will also continue to provide strategic communications and business counsel to C-suite level and senior communications executives for leading entertainment and media clients."

Chairman and CEO Dick Lippin said in a statement: “Don and I have been together for a long time and I truly believe he is one of the most dedicated and professional executives in our entire industry. He has shown leadership throughout his career and developed exceptional relations with the media and top level executives in the entertainment world. Add to that his honesty and you have the whole package of someone who is a delight to call my associate.”

Ciaramella was previously EVP of corporate communications for The Lippin Group. In that capacity he has overseen "domestic and international corporate strategies and activities targeting the industry, business, advertising and media communities," the company said in its announcement. His oversight has included TV -- broadcast, cable, syndication and VOD -- along with interactive and international production and distribution companies, professional services companies and industry associations, the company noted.

"Specifically his strategies have successfully launched several cable channels including Gospel Music Channel (now UP), HGTV, ImaginAsian (now Mnet America), and ReelzChannel," the company said. "He has also overseen campaigns for established networks including: A&E, Court TV, Hallmark, HISTORY, Starz, TV5MONDE USA, TV One, Univision and Veria Living."

donald-ciaramella.jpgDonald Ciaramella

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Forbes Names the Highest-Paid Actress on TV -- and She's WAY Ahead of the Pack; Here's the Top 10

Forbes magazine has come out with its list of the highest-paid TV actresses of 2013, and the actress at No. 1 on the list is "Modern Family" star Sofia Vergara. This is Vergara's second consecutive year at the top of the list.

Vergara's earnings over the past year reached $30 million, making her by far the top-paid actress on prime time, the story notes. She has been helped by deals from companies eager to tap into the Hispanic market, and has a high-profile product line at Kmart, the piece notes.

Forbes reports: "Vergara’s endorsement deals speak to the same set of consumers -- Diet Pepsi, Covergirl, Rooms to Go and thyroid medicine Synthoid signed contracts this year in addition to Spanish-language commercials for laundry detergent, Comcast and State Farm insurance -- deals that establish the star [as] one of the most in-demand spokespeople as marketers hope to capture her high-wattage crossover appeal."

Vergara's earnings are almost triple those of the next actresses on the list. Tied at No. 2 are Kaley Cuoco of "The Big Bang Theory" and "Law & Order: SVU" veteran Mariska Hargitay, both with earnings of $11 million.

The Forbes rankings are based on earnings from June 2012 to June 2013.

Here's the top 10:

1. Sofia Vergara, $30 million
2. (tie) Kaley Cuoco, $11 million
2. (tie) Mariska Hargitay, $11 million
4. (tie) Tina Fey, $10 million
4. (tie) Bethenny Frankel, $10 million
4. (tie) Kourtney, Kim and Khloe Kardashian, $10 million each
4. (tie) Melissa McCarthy, $10 million
4. (tie) Ellen Pompeo, $10 million

Thumbnail image for sofia_vergara.jpgSofia Vergara

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TV Star Recognized by Guinness World Records for Longest TV Career

A television icon whose career spans many decades has been honored by Guinness World Records. Deadline.com reports that the organization recognized "Hot in Cleveland" star Betty White, naming the 91-year-old as the holder of the record for "Longest TV Career for an Entertainer (Female)."

The new category was created to recognize White's 74 years as an entertainer, the story says.

English TV host Bruce Forsyth, who also has a 74-year career, holds the male title.

White started her career in radio in 1939 and has had something of a comeback in recent years, hosting "Saturday Night Live" in 2010 after a petition helped get her on the show. NBC later created "Betty White's Off Their Rockers," which was canceled earlier this year after two seasons.

Thumbnail image for Betty-White.jpgBetty White

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Judge Mathis Teams With Ellen DeGeneres on Fox Comedy

Judge Greg Mathis, the star of the courtroom show "Judge Mathis," is working with daytime talk show host Ellen DeGeneres on a half-hour comedy that has been sold to Fox, TheWrap.com reports.

The script deal was announced Wednesday by Warner Bros. DeGeneres, Mathis and Jeff Kleeman are executive producing.

"The project is inspired by the real life of the 'Judge Mathis' star, who considers himself a 'hoodlum-turned-judge.' Mathis’ new sitcom will depict the life of the man who has total control of his courtroom, but no control at home raising his four children," the story says.

judge-greg-mathis.jpgJudge Greg Mathis

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Lamar Odom Checks Into Rehab

NBA veteran and reality television personality Lamar Odom has checked into a rehab center, after alleged drug use reportedly caused friction in his marriage with Khloe Kardashian, reports People magazine.

As previously reported, Odom, one of the stars of the E! reality series "Khloe & Lamar," was recently arrested on suspicion of DUI after the champion NBA player was reportedly spotted driving erratically.

Odom, 32, has admitted using drugs in the past, People notes. He also violated NBA drug policies twice in 2001, the story adds.

Odom played last season with the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, having won two NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers. He has also been a member of the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks.

lamar-odom-clippers.jpgLamar Odom

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'Reverse Kramer': Dave Chappelle Lashes Out About Confrontation in Hartford

Comedian Dave Chappelle opened up about a recent confrontation with audience members at his comedy concert in Hartford, Conn., "calling the crowd a bunch of 'young, white alcoholics' and saying he wanted to pull a 'reverse Kramer,'" TMZ.com reports.

Chappelle talked about the incident after he took the stage Tuesday night in Chicago. The comedian "immediately went off on Hartford -- where he engaged in a nasty stand-off with the crowd after several loudmouthed fans heckled him during his set," the report says.

The piece quotes Chappelle saying: "I don't want anything bad to happen to the United States ... but if North Korea ever drops a nuclear bomb on this country, I swear to God I hope it lands in Hartford, Connecticut."

Chappelle also reportedly called the Hartford crowd "evil" and said: "I wanted to pull a reverse Kramer and call them all crackers or something crazy like that." The reference was presumably to "Seinfeld" alum Michael Richards' N-bomb tirade during an infamous 2006 performance at the Laugh Factory, the piece notes.

TMZ adds: "In the end, Dave says the crowd in Hartford was lucky to see him 'freak out' that night -- explaining, 'That s**t's like being at a f**king tiger show the night Sigfried and Roy got their throats bit out by the tiger ... you don't go to see somebody be safe.'"

In the Hartford incident, TMZ reported separately that Chappelle went off on the crowd after being heckled and refused to do his act.

"Chappelle had only been on stage for a few minutes when he started to become irritated with some loudmouthed people in the crowd. As an act of defiance, Chappelle reportedly sat on his stool and with his mouth shut for several minutes," the website reported. "Eventually, Chappelle grabbed the mic and told the crowd: 'I f**ked up when I left my show, you know why? 'Cause my show only has to be 22 minutes of television. I could've went on television, I could've read the phone book for 22 minutes and I would've got 50 million dollars.'"

Chappelle reportedly added in Hartford: "Tonight is different. Tonight my contract says 25 minutes and I have 3 minutes left, and when my 3 minutes is up, my ass is gone."

dave-chappelle.pngDave Chappelle

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Writers Quit 'Batwoman' Comics in Dispute Over Lesbian Superhero

The "Batwoman" comic book series has become embroiled in controversy after two co-authors, J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman, wrote on a blog post that they were quitting after DC forbade Kate Kane (Batwoman) from marrying her girlfriend, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The blog post in which the writers announced their departure was listed as "unavailable" Thursday morning.

"Batwoman" was refreshed in 2010, becoming a stand-alone series that tracked Kate Kane, a member of the U.S. Military Academy who leaves in order to be honest about her sexual orientation, the story notes.

According to THR, the writers wrote on their blog post, "In recent months, DC has asked us to alter or completely discard many long-standing storylines in ways that we feel compromise the character and the series."

They added, "We were told to ditch plans for Killer Croc's origins; forced to drastically alter the original ending of our current arc, which would have defined Batwoman's heroic future in bold new ways; and, most crushingly, prohibited from ever showing Kate and Maggie actually getting married. All of these editorial decisions came at the last minute, and always after a year or more of planning and plotting on our end."

The news comes after "Batwoman" broke ground in February with an issue that included Kate proposing to Maggie. It was the first lesbian wedding proposal in mainstream comic history, the story notes.

A DC representative didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, the piece adds.

Batwoman.pngBatwoman -- Kate Kane

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'Downton Abbey' Actor Resurfaces in New TV Job

An actor whose departure from "Downton Abbey" was mourned by fans of the historical drama has landed a new TV job. EW.com's Inside TV reports that Dan Stevens, who played Matthew Crawley on "Abbey," will resurface -- in voice form, anyway -- in an iconic role on the CW.

Stevens will voice the character of a computer called TIM on "Tomorrow People," a drama produced by Greg Berlanti, the story says. The computer's character was first created in the 1970s U.K. version of the TV show and voiced by Philip Gilbert, the story says.

The report notes: "Stevens, who will next be seen alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Fifth Estate,' is far from the first actor to be heard-but-not-seen on a TV series. Kristen Bell was the voice of 'Gossip Girl' for six seasons, Bob Saget has been the voice of Future Ted on 'How I Met Your Mother' for going on nine seasons, and Ron Howard acted as the uncredited narrator of 'Arrested Development' during the show’s run."

"Tomorrow People" debuts Oct. 9.

dan-stevens.pngDan Stevens

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Study Shows a Shift Toward More Women Working in TV

More women are working in television, but the industry's glass ceiling remains pretty solidly in place, reports TheWrap.com.

During the 2012-13 season, women made up 28% of the creators, producers, directors, writers, editors, and directors of photography working on broadcast programs, the story notes, citing a study from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University.

That number represents a 2% gain from the previous year and ties the historical high set in 2007-08.

"It’s positive that we’re seeing some growth,” said Martha Lauzen, the center's executive director. “It’s not great strides, but it would be unrealistic to expect a large industry like television to turn around overnight. Change doesn’t happen overnight, it happens slowly.”

The report adds: "The representation of women on television was wider than on the big screen, where women find fewer opportunities. An earlier study by the center revealed that women represented just 18 percent of all directors, producers, writers, cinematographers and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films."

The picture is brighter for women working in front of the television cameras. The story notes: "Thanks to shows like 'The Good Wife' and 'Parks and Recreation' that feature strong roles for women, the number of speaking parts for actresses on broadcast channels was tied with a historical high. Forty three percent of all speaking parts and 43 percent of major characters on broadcast shows were female, which represented a 2 percent bump from the 2011-12 season."

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Elizabeth Hurley to Star in E! Project

E! has cast British actress Elizabeth Hurley in a starring role in a new project. Deadline.com reports that Hurley, known for her work in films including "Bedazzled" and "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" -- and for "That Dress," a black Versace "safety pin dress" she wore to the L.A. premiere of then-boyfriend Hugh Grant's "Four Weddings and a Funeral" in 1994 -- will star in the pilot "The Royals."

The project comes from the "One Tree Hill" team of creator Mark Schwahn and producers Brian Robbins and Joe Davola, the report notes.

The drama is about a fictional royal family, and is said to look at how men and women are corrupted by power, money and desire, the story says. Hurley will play Queen Helena, who is dealing with the death of her oldest son and trying to break apart a relationship between her middle son and his American girlfriend.

elizabeth-hurley-1994.jpgElizabeth Hurley in the famous
safety-pin dress in 1994

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U.S. Auto Sales -- One of the Keys to TV Station Profits -- Rebound in August, Capping a Strong Summer

Local TV stations got good news from the automotive marketplace, where U.S. auto sales, one of the key drivers of revenue for stations via auto advertising, rebounded in August, Automotive News reports.

Among the highlights reported by the publication:

-- Total sales in August of 1,501,294 units -- the highest unit count in 75 months.

-- A seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate of 16.1 million -- the best since November 2007.

-- A 17% increase from a year earlier -- the biggest since August 2012.

-- Sales of Detroit 3 large pickups rose 22%, leading all three automakers to double-digit gains.

In a conference call, Toyota brand general manager Bill Fay said: "August capped a solid summer for the industry. While we've seen fluctuations in some economic indicators, one thing has remained consistent: the overall strength of the U.S. auto industry."

The report adds: "Not only have automakers sold more light vehicles in the first eight months this year (10.6 million) than in all of 2009 (10.4 million), but last month's 1.5 million sales topped the unit volume of every August since -- get this -- 2003."

The story also cites the following highlight: "Clean sweep for Detroit brands. Every Detroit 3 brand recorded higher sales in August, the first time in 12 months that all 11 domestic divisions rose in unison. Ford's Lincoln and Chrysler's Fiat eked out a 1 percent increase. General Motors' Cadillac led all domestic brands with a 38 percent gain, with Buick close behind at 37 percent."

Among the major players, only Volkswagen Group of America and Hyundai-Kia America failed to post double-digit August sales increases over a year ago -- when volume was also strong for both companies, the report notes. For August 2013, Volkswagen was up 4% and Hyundai-Kia rose 6%.

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Tennis Channel Suffers Setback in Legal Battle With Comcast

The District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday denied the Tennis Channel's attempt to get a new hearing in its legal battle against Comcast, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Comcast won a court victory in May when a court ruled that the Tennis Channel had failed to prove that Comcast had discriminated against it by putting it in a higher-priced sports tier with fewer customers, the story adds.

That decision effectively reversed a finding by the FCC that Comcast had illegally put the Tennis Channel at a competitive disadvantage.

The Tennis Channel said in a statement Wednesday that it was disappointed with the ruling.

"The U.S. Circuit Court decision today effectively strips the FCC of the ability to perform the role Congress requires," the channel said. "Tennis Channel takes very seriously Congress’ goal of a fair, open marketplace where diverse, independent voices are afforded the opportunity to compete on a level playing field based on their own merit. Many in the industry have recognized that if Comcast owned Tennis Channel instead of Golf Channel, the tables would be turned. We are disappointed with this result and intend to pursue further review.”

Comcast said it was "gratified" by the ruling.

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WGN America Orders Atom Bomb Drama

WGN America has ordered its second original series. B&C reports that the channel ordered a project called "Manhattan," about the development of the first atomic bomb.

The drama received a 13-episode order, the report notes. It is written and created by Sam Shaw of "Masters of Sex."

The series joins WGN America's witch trials drama "Salem" on the channel's 2014 programming slate.

Production will start in New Mexico this winter with the network planning a summer debut.

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Clash of the Summer Reality Franchises: NBC Blows 'Em All Away

In the weekly Tuesday night showdown of reality franchises on the broadcast networks, NBC's summer workhorse, "America's Got Talent," crushed its rivals, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the two-hour "Talent," airing at 9 p.m., delivered a 2.3 average rating in viewers 18-49, easily the top number of the night on the broadcast nets. Going head-to-head at 8 p.m., Fox's two-hour "So You Think You Can Dance" and ABC's two-hour "Extreme Weight Loss" managed only a 1.3 and a 1.2, respectively.

"Talent," which was up 5% from a week ago, helped NBC claim a win for prime time overall. The rest of the programming on the big four broadcast nets -- including CBS's entire prime-time lineup -- consisted of repeats.

The overall numbers for broadcast prime show NBC on top with a 1.9 average in adults 18-49, followed by Univision (1.6 average), Fox (1.3), ABC (1.1) and CBS (0.9). The rankings tighten up in total viewers, with NBC still on top with 7.1 million, followed by CBS with 7.0 million, Fox with 4.1 million, Univision with 3.8 million and ABC with 3.7 million.

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New A&E Series Focuses on Country Music

A&E is going country. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the cable network has ordered an eight-episode docuseries, "Crazy Hearts: Nashville," focusing on aspiring country music performers and insiders.

"The Nashville, Tenn.-set series will follow the lives of musicians and insiders over eight hourlong episodes as they balance life, love and their pursuit of stardom," the story reports. "The series will go backstage into the lives and lyrics of several up and coming musicians as they try to hit it big, fall in love and live to sing about it. The series promises love triangles and fiery relationships that will cause both rivalry on-stage and off."

The show comes from Eastern's Toby Barraud and Stefan Springman ("Love and Hip Hop"), the piece reports. Also executive producing are A&E's Drew Tappon, Fred Grinstein and Evan Lerner.

The report notes: "'Crazy Hearts: Nashville' comes as country music continues to be a draw for ABC's 'Nashville.' The musical starring Connie Britton ranks as ABC's lone returning scripted drama from last year's freshman class. The series, like Fox's 'Glee,' also taps into ancillary revenue from downloads of the original music featured on the series."

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The Internet Is in Overdrive This Afternoon With Reports That Jack Nicholson Has Retired From Acting Due to Problems With His Memory. But NBC News' Maria Shriver Tells E! That It's Not True

Internet media sites are buzzing this afternoon, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, with reports that Jack Nicholdson has quietly retired from acting due to memory loss.

For example, a story on the website of  USA Today says that Nicholson has not made an official announcement, but notes that a report by the gossip site RadarOnline has created a ton of buzz about Nicholson on Twitter and other social media sites.

"Radar points out that the three-time Academy Award winner has not worked since the 2010 movie 'How Do You Know,' starring Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson," USA Today reports. "And the site quotes an unnamed insider as saying he has quietly quit acting 'without fanfare.'"

In the past we here at TVWeek have found reports on RadarOnline that quote anonymous sources are not necessarily true. 

Here's what E! Online had to say: "Rumors that the three-time Oscar winner was hanging up his acting hat started running rampant on Wednesday, Sept. 4, after a report surfaced claiming the 76-year-old Hollywood legend was doing just that. The apparent reason? Memory loss.

"However, it appears such speculation may have simply originated from the cuckoo's nest.

"NBC's Maria Shriver has confirmed to E! News that reports of Nicholson retiring from acting due to memory loss or dementia are 100 percent false, adding that the Chinatown star is not suffering from any memory-related illness or dementia and has no current plans to retire."

Nicholson has an astonishing 12 Academy Award nominations, including three wins -- in 1976 for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," in 1984 for "Terms of Endearment" and in 1998 for "As Good as It Gets." He also has 16 nominations for competitive Golden Globe Awards, winning six of those to go with his Golden Globes Cecil B. DeMille Award for outstanding contribution to entertainment, received in 1999.

Early in his career, Nicholson worked in television, with guest appearances on a string of 1950s and 1960s TV shows including "Matinee Theatre," "The Barbara Stanwyck Show," "Sea Hunt," "Tales of Wells Fargo," "Hawaiian Eye," "Dr. Kildare" and "The Andy Griffith Show."

The E! story adds: "In fact, a source close to the movie icon says Nicholson is actively reading scripts and is looking forward to his next project."

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Jon Stewart's Return Brings Surge of Viewers for 'Daily Show'

The return of longtime host Jon Stewart after his summer hiatus from Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" brought a surge in viewership to the late-night staple. Deadline.com reports that more than 2 million viewers turned out, marking a 24% improvement on the show's year-to-date average of 1.63 million for episodes hosted by Stewart.

"About 640,000 of that crowd was aged 18-34 -- the show’s target audience and nearly a quarter more than Stewart episodes have averaged year to date," the story reports. "In his final two weeks of original episodes before leaving to direct his first feature film 'Rosewater,' Stewart averaged 1.415 million 'Daily Show' viewers -- which had been down 12% compared to 1.6 million for the comparable two weeks of originals the previous summer."

Stewart, who missed much of the summer season to shoot the movie in Jordan, is quoted in the story as saying during his return appearance last night: “I’ve missed you so much -- you don’t know what it’s like out there in the real world. Nobody applauds every stupid fucking thing you do!”

Deadline adds that Stewart showed "telltale signs of a comic who has been through a life-changing experience and feels he should be doing something more serious. In his absence, John Oliver filled in, averaging 1.3 million viewers, indicating viewers clearly were curious to watch the show’s Senior British Correspondent try out Stewart’s chair. His consistent numbers over his run meant they liked what they saw."

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Katie Couric Gets Engaged

Katie Couric, 56, has become engaged to financier John Molner, 50, USA Today reports. Molner is head of mergers and acquisitions at Brown Brothers Harriman.

The talk show host lost her husband Jay Monahan to colon cancer in 1998.

Molner asked Couric to marry him by proposing with a "spectacular diamond ring at sunset on the beach in East Hampton, N.Y.," People magazine notes.

katie-couric-john-molner.pngKatie Couric and John Molner

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Recent Product May Get Kicked Off TV, Cutting Off a Revenue Source for Networks

A recently developed product that has been advertising on television may be banned from the medium, Advertising Age reports. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to take a position next month on e-cigarettes, which have led a historic return to TV for tobacco companies.

Spending on e-cigarette commercials rose almost 18% from 2011 to 2012, according to a Citibank report cited by the publication.

The FDA is likely to propose a ban on TV ads for the products, according to a report from the financial services group CLSA Americas, the story adds.

Because the market for e-cigs isn't regulated, their proliferation has allowed the return of Big Tobacco to television after more than 40 years, the piece points out.

Lorillard's Blu e-cigarette features Jenny McCarthy in its campaign, while Reynolds American is preparing a TV campaign to air in Colorado for its e-cigarette Vuse.

The FDA said it couldn't comment on the contents of an upcoming proposal to regulate the market, the report notes.

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Bill Nye (the Science Guy), Jessie From 'Saved by the Bell,' Corbin Bleu, Snooki, Jack Osbourne and Former NFL Star Keyshawn Johnson Are Among Those Who Will Be on 'Dancing With the Stars' This Season -- Here's the Full Lineup of Celebs

ABC has taken the wraps off the celebrity lineup for season 17 of "Dancing with the Stars," which kicks off Monday, Sept. 16, with a two-hour premiere.

The new lineup, which has been partially revealed about a week ago, includes TV legend Valerie Harper, former NFL star Keyshawn Johnson, "King of Queens" star Leah Remini, reality personality Nicole 'Snooki' Polizzi and comedian Bill Engvall.

Also among the 12 celebs: reality star Jack Osbourne, singer Christina Milan, "Glee" star Amber Riley and actress Elizabeth Berkley Lauren of "Saved by the Bell."

"Disney star Corbin Bleu, Brant Daugherty of 'Pretty Little Liars,' and Bill Nye, who is best known as 'The Science Guy,' round out the dynamic lineup," the network announced.

The network unveiled the full lineup live today on "Good Morning America." For the first time, the show will combine the performance and results installments into a two-hour program airing Monday nights.

bill-nye.jpgBill Nye, 'The Science Guy'

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Legal Battle Halts Production of Soap Opera: Did ABC Use Fatal Storyline on 'General Hospital' to Sabotage 'One Life to Live'?

"One Life to Life" has reportedly halted work as production company Prospect Park wages a legal battle with the show's former network, ABC, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Prospect Park will focus on "All My Children," which was proving more popular with online viewers, while it resolves the legal dispute, the story says. Writers are now working on scripts for a second season of the soap.

Prospect Park is claiming in a lawsuit that ABC has actively tried to sabotage the online revival of the soap operas, including killing off some "One Life to Live" characters who appeared on ABC's "General Hospital," the Times notes.

"In the ultimate act of bad faith, ABC killed off two 'OLTL' characters on loan to 'General Hospital' by having their car forced off a cliff," Prospect Park claims in its lawsuit, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

ABC says it has done nothing wrong, the Times reports.

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Star Says HBO Has Renewed Drama Series

The star of an HBO drama series says the pay-cable network has renewed the show, although no official word has come from the network yet. Deadline.com reports that Jeff Daniels tweeted that his HBO drama "The Newsroom" was picked up for a third season.

Sources confirmed to the publication that the show has been picked up for another season, which the story notes isn't surprising. HBO programming head Michael Lombardo said at the TCA press tour back in July that the show was on track for a third season.

The Emmy-nominated drama from Aaron Sorkin stars Daniels as anchorman Will McAvoy.

The show's two-part season finale airs over the next two Sundays.

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Key Role on 'Game of Thrones' Is Recast

A key role on HBO's "Game of Thrones" has been recast and will be played by its third actor. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Icelandic actor Hafthor Julius Bjornsson will play Gregor Clegane, becoming the third person cast as "The Mountain."

The actor announced his casting on Twitter, writing, "For all my fans! I am happy to tell you that I will be THE MOUNTAIN In season 4 In Game Of Thrones :)"

The Mountain is the brother of Sandor Clegane, played by Rory McCann. The part was first portrayed by Conan Stevens in season one, while Ian Whyte took on the role in the second season. Whyte was also cast as a giant and a White Walker in the show.

While the character didn't appear in the third season, it's likely the huge knight will have an expanded role in the next season, the story adds.

Julius-Bjornsson.pngHafthor Julius Bjornsson

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Geraldo Says Half-Nude Selfie Cost Him a Job

Geraldo Rivera is blaming his half-nude selfie for losing a job. The Los Angeles Times reports that Rivera says the photo he posted in July led to his losing a speaking engagement.

As previously reported, Rivera took a photo of himself with a towel covering his privates, and then posted it on Twitter with the comment, "70 is the new 50." The Twitterverse retweeted the image, but the response wasn't entirely positive.

Now, Rivera is blaming the selfie for getting him uninvited to a panel discussion about the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination at Duquesne University next month, the Times reports.

"Just heard Duquesne Univ cancelled my appearance at JFK assassination panel because of 'selfie'. Fact I first aired Zapruder film less impt," Rivera wrote on Twitter.

A representative for the Catholic university, which is in Pittsburgh, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the photo was "inappropriate and inconsistent" with the school's values, the story adds.

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New MSNBC Show Surges in Ratings

MSNBC has received good news with the ratings for a new program. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that viewer numbers have surged for "All In with Chris Hayes."

The 5-month-old show didn't start off strong, but it is posting its best averages yet in total viewers and in the key news demo of adults 25-54 -- excluding the period when news broke from the Boston Marathon bombings in April, the story reports.

For the week of Aug. 26, the show was up 71% over the previous week in the 25-54 demographic, reaching 224,000 people in the age group. Total viewers rose 47% to a nightly average of 772,000.

"'All In' heavily covered Syria and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington throughout the week and featured Newark, N.J., mayor and Senate candidate Cory Booker during Thursday's episode," the report notes. "The 8 p.m. show outperformed CNN competition in 'Anderson Cooper 360' (577,000 viewers, 170,000 adults 25-54) on all five nights -- though it still lagged behind cable news' reigning ratings champ, Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly. The pundit was up himself, averaging 2.56 million viewers and 430,000 adults 25-54 to hold on to his status as the top broadcast of the week."

MSNBC has recently reconfigured its prime-time schedule, the piece notes. "The network, which reclaimed its prime-time ratings runner-up status in August after falling behind CNN earlier this year, brought former 8 p.m. occupant 'The Ed Show' back to weekdays at 5 p.m.," THR reports. "'Hardball with Chris Matthews' also started airing exclusively at 7 p.m. in an effort to condense the host's audience. (He previously aired at both 5 and 7 p.m.)"

The "Hardball" lead-in appears to be helping Hayes' show. Matthews "saw his own ratings rise to highs not seen since the week of the Boston attack, with the new one-off 7 p.m. episodes averaging 737,000 viewers and 188,000 adults 25-54 -- up 51 percent from his August average," THR reports.

chris-hayes.pngChris Hayes

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Why CNN Is Bringing Back 'Crossfire' Ahead of Schedule

CNN has rescheduled the return of its debate show "Crossfire," the Associated Press reports. The show will now return to the cable news channel Monday, Sept. 9, instead of the following Monday.

The network cited the looming congressional vote on a U.S. military response against Syria as the reason it can't wait to get the show launched.

The program will feature Newt Gingrich, S.E. Cupp, Stephanie Cutter and Van Jones discussing political issues in a half-hour format. It will air at 6:30 p.m. weekdays, the piece notes.

"The show aired for many years on CNN before being stopped in 2005 after it was criticized by 'The Daily Show' host Jon Stewart," the report notes. "But new CNN boss Jeff Zucker has advocated bringing it back."

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NBC Names Host for 'Wall of Fame'

NBC has cast the host for its new family trivia series "Wall of Fame." The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the network gave the job to "Guys With Kids" star Anthony Anderson.

The show will feature eight hourlong episodes, with families seeking to answer trivia questions while guessing whether celebrity contestants answered correctly, the story says. Taping will start at the end of September.

"Our celebrities will add an extra element of surprise, as they too will have their knowledge tested -- providing a high potential for many unpredictable and raucous answers," said NBC president of alternative and late-night programming Paul Telegdy.

The celebrity participants haven't been named yet.

Anderson starred along with Jesse Bradford and Tempestt Bledsoe during the 2012-13 season on the NBC comedy series "Guys With Kids," which was canceled after a 17-episode run.

anthony-anderson.jpgAnthony Anderson

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ABC Orders Comedy From 'Awkward' Creator

"Awkward" creator Lauren Iungerich has sold a comedy project to ABC, Deadline.com reports, calling the order "one of the biggest comedy commitments this year."

The sale of the project, "Damaged Goods," marks Iungerich's first broadcast development cycle after leaving the MTV series, the piece notes. ABC has given the project a pilot production commitment with a series penalty.

The project is described as a comedy about sexual politics in the post-feminist era.

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Endemol North America Chief Stepping Down

The chairman and chief executive of Endemol North America is stepping down. According to The Hollywood Reporter, David Goldberg will leave his post at the end of the year.

"It is time for me to try something new and I am excited about the possibilities. I am incredibly proud of the remarkable group of executives, producers and companies that I assembled over the last 13 years and all that we accomplished together," Goldberg said.

Goldberg will continue to consult for "Steve Harvey," which has become one of daytime TV's biggest success stories this year, the piece notes. Under Goldberg's leadership, Endemol USA created reality hits such as "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and "Fear Factor."

The company will name a replacement closer to Goldberg's departure.

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Pay-TV Industry Continues to Shed Subscribers -- 217,000 More Customers Cut the Cord

The pay-television industry was down 217,000 customers in the second quarter compared with a year earlier because of cord cutting, reports the Los Angeles Times, citing an SNL Kagan report.

Traditional cable companies are losing more customers to satellite and telecom competitors that are also in the video business, the story says.

"The report illustrated why Time Warner Cable had little choice but to settle its contentious dispute with CBS Corp., which led to a monthlong blackout of CBS-owned stations in Los Angeles, New York and Dallas," the article points out.

The piece continues: "The SNL Kagan report primarily highlighted comparisons from the first quarter of this year to the second quarter. That comparison showed that the cable, satellite and telco video service companies collectively lost 366,000 TV subscribers when looking at one quarter to the next.

"Still, the losses represented an 11% improvement from the same measurement period in 2012 when the number of subscriber losses reached 411,000."

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HBO Will Pull Plug on Popular Series

HBO has unveiled its plan to wrap up a popular drama series. USA Today reports that the pay cable channel took the wraps off plans to wind down "True Blood."

A 10-episode seventh and final season of the vampire series is planned for summer 2014. Season six wrapped last month.

In a statement, HBO programming chief Michael Lombardo said: "'True Blood' has been nothing short of a defining show for HBO. [Executive producer] Alan Ball took the books by Charlaine Harris, assembled a brilliant cast led by the magnificent Anna Paquin in the role of Sookie Stackhouse and crafted a show that has taken its many devoted fans on an unforgettable journey."

Along with Paquin, the show stars Stephen Moyer and Alexander Skarsgard.

Ball added in a statement: "From the moment I read Charlaine's books, I thought there was the potential for something really special. Then our amazing writers, cast and crew brought her world to life in a way that exceeded my wildest expectations."

"Brian Buckner took over day-to-day oversight of the show from Ball in the sixth season and will retain that role for the final season," USA Today notes. "'True Blood' follows Paquin's Sookie, a part-faerie who can hear people's thoughts, and her dealings with vampires Bill Compton (Moyer) and Eric Northman (Skarsgard), along with a wide range of human and supernatural characters in Bon Temps, La."

The sixth season of the series averaged 10.6 million total viewers across multiple showings and platforms, the report notes, ranking as one of HBO's most popular series.

True-Blood.jpg

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Twerking MTV's Video Music Awards: Miley Cyrus Reveals Why She Did It

Miley Cyrus has broken her silence about why she delivered her now-famous twerk-heavy performance at MTV's Video Music Awards -- a performance that got almost everyone talking, with many observers criticizing the former "Hannah Montana" star for her "all grown up now" act.

USA Today reports that Cyrus planned the whole thing -- from her rump-twirling against Robin Thicke's crotch to the suggestive foam finger to the ubiquitous protruding tongue -- for that very reason: to get people talking.

"Her strategy worked," the report notes. "Her performance has become an MTV VMA 'moment,' like Britney Spears and Madonna before her. She also told Robin Thicke that they're going to 'make history.' And they did. Her performance has surpassed Beyonce's Super Bowl performance on Twitter for most tweets per minute."

Commenting last week on the fallout from the show, Cyrus is quoted as saying: "What's amazing is I think now, we're three days later and people are still talking about it. They're overthinking it. You're thinking about it more than I thought about it when I did it. Like, I didn't even think about it 'cause that's just me."

Cyrus noted that she's not the first pop star to make noise at the VMAs. "Madonna's done it. Britney's done it. Every VMA performance, that's what you're looking for; you're wanting to make history," she said.

Cyrus dismissed those who found fault with the effort. "I don't pay attention to the negative because I've seen this play out so many times. How many times have we seen this play out in pop music?" she said.

Miley-Cyrus-2012.jpgMiley Cyrus

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LeBron James Developing Sitcom

NBA champion LeBron James of the Miami Heat is working with a TV channel on a comedy series. The New York Daily News reports that the project is in the works at Starz.

"He has joined with a group that includes producer Tom Werner, who is also chairman of the Boston Red Sox, to create 'Survivor's Remorse,' a half-hour sitcom for Starz," the story reports. "The show focuses on two men from the Philadelphia ghetto who become successful and occasionally find themselves looking back with pangs of guilt."

James will be an executive producer on the project. Said James: "I have a deep passion for the amazing television being created right now. I love 'Boardwalk Empire,' 'Magic City,' 'Scandal' and '24.'"

The NBA star added: "When my business partners Tom Werner and Maverick Carter brought up the idea of creating a television series that would capture the story of what happens when you make it out, I jumped at the chance.

"Nobody can craft a story like Tom Werner. He has an incredible vision for television and I'm really excited to partner with him and the rest of our team."

Mike O'Malley, who has been playing Kurt Hummel's father on "Glee," will be a writer on the project. No airdate has been set.

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'Mary Tyler Moore Show' Reunion on Tap This Week

A reunion of cast members from the classic series "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" will take place this week. The occasion is the season finale of TV Land's "Hot in Cleveland," set to air Wednesday, Sept. 4.

The regulars will be joined by a number of guest stars, including Cloris Leachman, Mary Tyler Moore, Valerie Harper and Georgia Engel, with series regular Betty White also a "Mary" alum. Other guests on the finale are Jesse Tyler Ferguson and George Hamilton.

Following the finale, an all-star episode will air featuring Craig Ferguson, Alan Dale and Nick Searcy.

The finale, "Love Is All Around," airs at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

hot-in-cleveland-finale.jpg"Hot in Cleveland" season finale

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CBS, Back at Full Strength, Wins the Night

With its carriage dispute with Time Warner Cable finally resolved and the blackout lifted, CBS celebrated Monday night by winning the ratings battle against its broadcast rivals, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the Tiffany Network was paced by its summer hit "Under the Dome," which ticked up one-tenth of a point from last week in viewers 18-49 to a 2.6 average, easily making it the top broadcast show of the night. The rest of CBS's prime-time lineup consisted of comedy reruns, with the best number being a 1.4 for "Mike & Molly."

Second-place NBC had good news of its own, a season high for its two-hour "American Ninja Warrior," which rose 6% from a week ago to notch a 1.8 average in 18-49. "Siberia" continued to lag behind at 10 p.m., but did rise 17% to a 0.7.

ABC's only fresh program, "Mistresses," surged 30% in the 18-49 demo to a 1.3. Fox aired all repeats and finished well off the pace.

For prime time overall, CBS won the 18-49 demo with a 1.6 average rating, followed by NBC (1.4 average), Univision (1.2), ABC (1.1) and Fox (0.7). CBS finished well ahead of the pack in total viewers, averaging 6.8 million to top NBC (4.3 million), ABC (4.2 million), Univision (3.2 million) and Fox (1.8 million).

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Fox News Channel Replaces One Media Criticism Show With Another

Updated headline and story at 10:25 a.m. PT on Tuesday, Sept, 3, 2013 to reflect that "Fox News Watch" is being replaced with a new show, also about media criticism.

The Fox News Channel  will be replacing its long-running show about media criticism with a new one on the same subject. TVNewser.com reports that "Fox News Watch" will be replaced by a new show hosted by former CNN host Howard Kurtz, who was recently hired by Fox News. Kurtz is a well-known pundit on the subject of media.

Jon Scott hosted the last episode of "Fox News Watch" over the weekend, thanking the show's previous hosts, its staff and guests. He had hosted the program for the past six years, the piece notes.

The new show will be called "MediaBuzz."

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'Friends' Star Targeted by Unpleasant New York Graffiti

A former star of the hit NBC sitcom "Friends" apparently has ticked off some New Yorkers, with anti-"Friends" graffiti appearing near actor David Schwimmer's new mansion, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Construction on the home is reportedly almost finished.

One graffiti message reads, "Ross is not cool." The graffiti may be related to Schwimmer's decision to demolish a historic townhouse in 2011 to make room for his new mansion, the story says. He bought the property in 2010 for $4.1 million.

When the house was torn down in 2011, other angry messages appeared, the story notes. One such message reportedly read: "The destruction of an irreplaceable historic building for what??? Another ugly yuppie ghetto catering to monied transients + Euro-Trash!!"

david-schwimmer.pngDavid Schwimmer

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CBS and Time Warner Cable Settle Dispute -- So Who Won?

CBS and Time Warner Cable have ended their contract dispute, with the broadcaster not only securing a higher fee for its content, but also retaining digital rights, reports Bill Carter in The New York Times.

While the companies didn't disclose financial terms of the deal, both sides indicated that the deal swung in CBS's financial favor, Carter writes. The agreement meant that CBS and its related networks, such as Showtime, returned to Time Warner Cable systems in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas, along with a number of smaller markets, following a monthlong blackout.

The deal was struck just before this week's launch of the National Football League regular season, with CBS set to air key games.

In a statement, CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves said: "We are receiving fair compensation for CBS content. And we also have the ability to monetize our content going forward on all the new, developing platforms that are right now transforming the way people watch television."

Reuters reports: "CBS was asking for as much as $2 a month in 'retransmission fees' to allow Time Warner to carry the CBS network and other channels for each of its 3.2 million cable subscribers in the affected areas. That would be a large hike from the current CBS monthly fee of around 56 cents a subscriber, although any increase would be phased in over the life of the contract."

Time Warner Cable Chairman Glenn Britt said in a statement: "We wanted to hold down costs and retain our ability to deliver a great video experience to our customers. While we certainly didn't get everything we wanted, ultimately we ended up in a much better place than when we started."

The Reuters report quotes cable and telecommunications analyst Craig Moffett of Moffett Research saying: "CBS is the winner. Content owners always win these negotiations -- it's just a matter of how much they won. They have all the leverage. Consumers don't get mad and trade in their channel when these fights drag on. They go looking for a different satellite or telephone company."

Reuters adds: "The agreement will almost certainly continue to reduce Time Warner Cable's margins, which have narrowed for the past decade as program costs have increased faster than operator's ability to raise rates, said Michael Corty, an analyst with Morningstar who follows Time Warner Cable."

Corty notes: "The video margins are still substantial, but cable operators are having to make it up more and more from broadband sales."

The two sides said in a statement that programming returned on all systems at 6 p.m. ET Monday.

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Judge's Job on 'American Idol' Reportedly Locked In

"American Idol" has reportedly locked down who will be sitting in the third judge's seat for the upcoming 13th season of the show, with singer Harry Connick Jr. set to join Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez on the panel, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Connick surfaced last week as a contender for the job, after Dr. Luke dropped out due to a conflict with his record label, Sony Music. Rival Universal Music Group holds exclusive rights to "Idol" recordings.

Producers of "Idol" were reluctant to hire another woman judge given that the friction last season between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj didn't score well with the show's older female viewers, the story adds.

Thumbnail image for harry-connick-jr.pngHarry Connick Jr.

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Wildfire Threatens Set for Beloved 1970s-1980s TV Show

Part of Hollywood history is at risk, with the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park close to reaching a ranch that was used as a location for the classic NBC TV series "Little House on the Prairie," reports the U.K. publication The Daily Mail.

The wildfire is close to the ranch that was featured on the show, the story says. Michael Landon played a character named Charles Ingalls on the show, and it turns out that another Ingalls family now lives on the ranch. In a coincidence, the Ingalls family settled the land, and descendants still reside there, the story reports.

The wildfire has destroyed 187,000 acres of brush and timber along with 111 structures, the piece adds, with firefighters projecting that they will have it contained by Sept. 10. The real Ingalls family plans to stay at the ranch and wait out the fire, according to the report.

"Little House on the Prairie," which also starred Melissa Gilbert, Karen Grassle and Melissa Sue Anderson, aired on NBC from 1974-1983.

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Fox Sideline Reporter Suffers Concussion -- Video Goes Viral

After Fox sideline reporter Pam Oliver was hit in the head by a pass thrown by Colts backup quarterback Chandler Harnish, the clip went viral, with a number of viewers finding it amusing. But the New York Daily News reports that Oliver suffered a concussion as a result of the Aug. 18 incident and has experienced pain since then.

Oliver got through the game telecast, but on the way back to her hotel, her slight headache grew worse. The next day she woke up with more pain, light sensitivity and nausea. Diagnosed with a concussion, she spent five days inside a dark room, the piece adds.

“I slept for hours on end. The minute you wake up you’re reminded. Your head is pounding,” she said. “I really could not take light -- the light from the TV, the accent lighting. The sun was completely my enemy. My blinds were drawn. It was miserable.”

She still has headaches, but notes that the experience has brought her closer to her subjects, for whom concussions are a very real risk.

"Players don’t want to be reminded about their concussions. They don’t want to be known as the guy who went down with one. They downplay it,” she said. “Then it happens to me and I start wondering how these guys go back to being hit, taking all that punishment, a week or two later.”

Oliver will return to the sidelines Sept. 8 when the Packers play the 49ers in San Francisco. “But when I’m back on the sidelines, I’ll do what I always do: Stay a bit behind the line of scrimmage. And keep my head on a swivel," she said.

Here's the clip:

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Upcoming Season of 'Homeland' Has a Piracy Problem

"Homeland" has become a victim of online piracy, with the Showtime drama's third-season premiere leaked online before its Sept. 29 airdate, reports Deadline.com.

More than 100,000 users of the file-sharing site BitTorrent have reportedly downloaded the episode, while "Homeland" producer 20th Century Fox's anti-piracy unit is working on pulling the episode, according to the report. The online version is said to be a workprint and missing opening credits.

The episode was shown last month at the Television Critics Association press tour, the piece notes.

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Big Numbers for 'Breaking Bad' Fail to Rub Off on Another AMC Drama

A ratings surge for the AMC drama series "Breaking Bad" -- one of the summer's cable hits -- hasn't carried over to another AMC drama. The New York Times' Arts Beat reports that the cable channel's other Sunday drama, "Low Winter Sun," is seeing its numbers rapidly erode.

The debut episode of "Sun" drew 2.5 million viewers for its Aug. 11 premiere, but the total fell to only 1.5 million viewers for episode two. The Aug. 25 installment -- the most recent episode for which ratings are available -- delivered only 1.2 million viewers, the story adds.

The piece notes, "Even 'The Killing,' another AMC dark cop drama that was broadcast on Sundays earlier this summer, had a larger audience for its Season 3 finale on Aug. 4: 1.5 million viewers. 'The Killing' has not yet been renewed for a fourth season, which does not bode well for the prospects of future seasons of 'Low Winter Sun.'"

The report adds: “'Hell on Wheels' -- the Western that AMC banished to Saturday this season, which has no lead-in to speak of -- had more total viewers than 'Low Winter Sun' for its Aug. 24 episode, with 2 million."

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'Sesame Street' Sets Higher Goals for Its Toddler Audience

"Sesame Street" is no longer content to teach young children the basics of counting and the alphabet, but is reaching for a new goal of introducing concepts about nature, math, science and engineering to its young viewers, reports Elizabeth Jensen in The New York Times.

"The content is wrapped in the traditional silliness; these are still Muppets. But the more sophisticated programming, on a show that frequently draws an audience even younger than the 3- to-5-year-olds it targets, raises a question: Is there any evidence that it is doing anything more than making PBS and parents feel good?" Jensen writes.

In one example, "Super Grover 2.0" shows a cow, who is stuck at the top of some stairs, how to get down using a ramp, which he explains is "a sloping surface that goes from high to low."

Officials at Sesame Workshop insist that the introductions to scientific issues are effective. “This is working,” Rosemarie Truglio, senior vice president, curriculum and content, told The Times.

The focus on science goes back to 2009, when the show was inspired by the 2005 book "Last Child in the Woods," about how children are out of touch with the natural world.

That led to the show creating the "Super Grover 2.0" segments, with the Muppet using springs, magnets and investigative powers to solve problems. Other shows are also aiming to teach similar subjects to children, with educational experts noting that even young children can comprehend basic scientific ideas, Jensen notes.

“They actually are already thinking about these things,” Kimberly Brenneman, an assistant research professor at Rutgers and an education adviser for PBS's "Sid the Science Kid," told The Times.

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Talent Manager J.J. Harris Dies at 62 -- Her Roster Included Kevin Costner, Charlize Theron

Film and television talent agent and manager J.J. Harris has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She was 62 and is believed to have died Friday of natural causes.

Her roster included clients such as Kevin Costner, Drew Barrymore and Charlize Theron. She managed Costner until her death, the story adds.

Harris was found in her Beverly Hills home by staff, after she failed to return Costner's calls, leading her office staff to become concerned and to check her house, reports Nikki Finke at Deadline.com.

"Through the years, Harris was an outspoken feminist who challenged mano-a-mano the Hollywood men’s club that long ruled actor representation," Finke writes. "Bluffing her way into the William Morris accounting department as a secretary, Harris rose through the ranks to become a young but powerful agent best known as fiercely loyal to her clients -- even if they weren’t always as loyal to her."

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Fox Buys Show From Ryan Seacrest

"American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest has sold a show to Fox. Deadline.com reports that the broadcast network ordered a dating program from Seacrest.

Not many details of the project are known, but the show is called "Dream Date" and is said to focus on a group of women looking for romance. It is also said to include a celebrity element, the story adds.

While there's no airdate yet, it's possible it could debut in the fall or at midseason.

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Rupert Murdoch Takes Another Pay Cut

21st Century Fox Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch has taken a pay cut. The Los Angeles Times reports that Murdoch's fiscal 2013 compensation declined slightly to $28.9 million.

The previous year, Murdoch received a $30 million compensation package -- which was almost 10% below his 2011 compensation of $33.3 million, the piece reports.

"Despite the dip, Murdoch's annual base salary remains the highest in the industry, at $8.1 million. During the past year, Murdoch's bonus was divvied up into two categories: stock awards, which were valued at $5.1 million, and a performance-based cash bonus of $12.5 million," the story notes.

Chase Carey, Murdoch's second-in-command and the company's chief operating officer, saw his pay rise 9% to $27 million for fiscal 2013. He was praised for his "exceptional management" leading up to the June 28 spinoff of the company's publishing unit, the story notes, citing comments from the compensation committee in the firm's proxy.

"Murdoch's 2013 compensation was almost the same amount he paid to acquire a 16-acre trophy property in Los Angeles, the Moraga Vineyards estate," the Times report notes. "The 82-year-old media baron's $28.8 million purchase of the winery in the hills above Bel-Air, visible from the 405 Freeway, was finalized earlier [last] week."

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Non-TV Story of the Day: Life Expectancy Grows for Women Age 50 and Up

"Life expectancy for women who live to age 50 is going up around the world, but poor and middle-income countries could easily make greater gains, according to a new World Health Organization report," The New York Times reports.

The article also notes: "Heart disease, stroke and cancer kill most women over 50, said Dr. John R. Beard, director of the W.H.O.'s department of aging, so countries should focus on lowering blood pressure with inexpensive drugs and screening for cervical and breast cancer. Those diseases can be prevented or treated, said Dr. Beard, who was also an author of the study, which was published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization. Getting women to avoid smoking, excessive drinking and being obese is also crucial, he said."

The story adds: "Japanese women live the longest on average. But women in most countries now live longer than they did 40 years ago, thanks to progress against infectious diseases like flu, tuberculosis and pneumonia."

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Microsoft Buys Finland! (Sort of)...Software Giant Pays $7.2 Billion for Nokia's Cell Phone Business. 10 Years Ago, Nokia's 1100 Cell Phone Was the Best-Selling Consumer Electronics Device in the World. But That Was 10 Years Ago

"Microsoft said it has reached an agreement to acquire the handset and services business of Nokia for about $7.2 billion, in an audacious effort to transform Microsoft’s business for a mobile era that has largely passed it by," writes Nick Wingfield in The New York Times.

The story continues, "Late Monday night, Sept. 2, 2013, Microsoft and Nokia said 32,000 Nokia employees will join Microsoft as a result of the all-cash deal, which will turn the Finnish mobile phone pioneer into the engine for Microsoft’s mobile efforts."

That article adds, "'This agreement is really a bold step into the future for Microsoft,” [Microsoft CEO Steve] Ballmer said in a telephone interview from Finland. 'We’re excited about the talent capabilities it will bring to Microsoft.' 

"Nokia was once the mightiest company in the mobile phone business, but it has lost much of its luster as the industry shifted to the era of the smartphone. Samsung and Apple divide nearly all of the profits in the global smartphone business now."

Indeed, according to Reuters, "The basic Nokia 1100, launched in 2003, was a runaway hit, shifting 250 million units, making it not just the world's best-selling mobile, but the most popular consumer electronics device of any kind.

"Nokia remained the world's largest vendor of mobile phones until knocked off the top spot by Samsung in 2012, but it lost its lead in the lucrative smartphone market a year earlier, having been on the back foot since the launch of Apple's iPhone in 2007."

The way the purchase breaks down, according to Business Insider, "Microsoft will pay 3.70 billion Euro for Nokia's devices business. That's nearly $5 billion in U.S. dollars. Microsoft will also pay an additional 1.65 billion Euro ($2.2 billion U.S.) for the rights to Nokia's patents.

Also, as part of the deal, Microsoft anounced that "it has selected Finland as the home for a new data center that will serve Microsoft consumers in Europe. The company said it would invest more than a quarter-billion dollars in capital and operation of the new data center over the next few years, with the potential for further expansion over time."

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On This Holiday Afternoon, in a Few Hours, You Should Watch This Movie on TV, Which I Highly Recommend

By Chuck Ross

For someone like me, whose favorite genre of motion picture is film noir, and who also has a huge interest in TV, a movie such as 1948’s “Pitfall” is irresistible.

Here’s the most basic of descriptions about “Pitfall.” Dick Powell plays the protagonist, an insurance agent. He’s married to a character played by Jane Wyatt. Their little boy is played by Jimmy Hunt, who, a few years later, would play the little boy in the original  “Invaders from Mars.”

The femme fatale is played by the sultry, smokey-voiced Lizabeth Scott. The villain in the piece is Raymond Burr.

More about “Pitfall” in a moment. It’s one of my favorite film noirs and I highly recommend it. You can catch it in a few hours on Turner Classic Movies (TCM), at 1:15 Pacific time this afternoon, Labor Day, Sept. 2, 2013 (4:15 p.m. Eastern time). Since the end of last year it’s finally on DVD, and you can stream it on Amazon (though you cannot stream it on Netflix).

The actor Powell most associated with the silver screen is William Powell, best remembered as Godfrey in “My Man Godfrey,” and for playing Nick Charles in the “Thin Man” series of sophisticated comedy dramas.

The other acting Powell -- Dick -- started his career in the 1930s playing the lightweight crooner in any number of Warner Bros. musicals. As that genre started to become less popular, Powell was desperate to change his image. According to Bruce Crowther in his book “Film Noir,” in 1944 Powell made a major effort to land the part of Walter Neff, the insurance agent in “Double Indemnity” whose life is turned topsy-turvy once he meets a potential client played by Barbara Stanwyck. Instead, that part went to Fred MacMurray, who heretofore had primarily been known for light romantic leads.

Meanwhile, that same year, Powell was hired to play detective Philip Marlowe in a movie version of Raymond Chandler’s “Farewell, My Lovely." According to Crowther in “Film Noir,” Powell’s image at the time was so strong as a frothy song-and-dance man that RKO, the studio which was making the movie, was afraid if the movie went out with the title “Farewell, My Lovely,” starring Dick Powell, that the public would think it was another of his lightweight musicals. So the title was changed to “Murder, My Sweet.” And to be doubly sure that the public would get it, the posters included on them this line: “Meet the New Dick Powell!”

With “Murder, My Sweet,” and two noir’s that immediately followed it, “Cornered” and “Johnny O’Clock,” Powell had successfully transitioned his image to one of a tough guy. He never sang in movies again.

The lead in “Pitfall” was a chance for Powell to actually play that insurance agent he wasn’t able to play in “Double Indemnity,” and to actually now soften his image by playing a nice, family man who finds himself overwhelmed by the circumstances of his life.

Six years later, by the way, after Powell was part of the stellar ensemble cast of “The Bad and the Beautiful,” he essentially retired from films, and became a key producer in TV, bringing us shows ranging from “Wanted: Dead or Alive” to “The Rifleman ” to “Burke’s Law.”

Once Powell was signed for the lead role in “Pitfall,” the pivotal role of the villain had to be cast. Director Andre de Toth had been asked to rewrite the script. He hired a friend, William Bowers, a screenwriter who was under contract with Universal, and the two re-wrote the script in four weekends, de Toth claims in an interview in “Film Noir Reader 3: Interviews with Filmmakers of the Classic Noir Period,” edited by Robert Portirio, Alain Silver and James Ursini. Because Bowers had worked on the picture on the QT, neither he nor de Toth asked for screen credit, de Toth said.

The producers of the film wanted Humphrey Bogart to play the heavy in “Pitfall,” de Toth says. The interview continues, “I said, ‘No,’ and they all thought I was crazy. I was not looking for a Bogart picture. At times like that, a strong actor playing a character overshadows the whole picture. And I don’t want to make pictures. I wanted to photograph life, real characters, not movie stars who overshadow everything, because that can never be a true picture of life.

“But they could not find someone to play [the villain] that both they and I would approve. We went through all the standard heavies. So then the rumor was that I couldn’t make up my mind, that I was stalling because I wasn’t satisfied with the script. Finally, one afternoon, the casting agent we were using came to my office. He was a little follow carrying a satchel full of photographs, so many that I’m surprised he didn’t get a hernia carrying it around. He opened up this satchel, and he couldn’t hold it upright, so pictures started to fall out all over the desk and floor. It was a waterfall of black-and-white glossies. And as he gathered them up, I noticed one on the floor right next to my foot. That was Raymond Burr. And I said, ‘That’s him. That’s the one.’ And he got the part.’ ”

Burr had been discovered by Anthony Mann the year before, and had played the heavy in Mann’s “Desperate.” But de Toth says he had never seen that film.

De Toth continues, “You know, when it comes to actors, nobody is all good, nobody is all bad. Burr…he had the right look, a big guy, kind of handsome, but a little scary. I couldn’t tell from the picture that he was a very nice guy – which, of course, did not matter—and very soft spoken, which was perfect. With a picture like ‘Pitfall,’ if your villain is correctly cast, then you avoid a lot of trouble. Whatever your villain is supposed to do…if the audience cannot completely accept that the actor they are seeing could do that, then your picture goes out the window. But you cannot go too far either. The villain cannot be too much. It has to be just enough.”

Burr is disgustingly brilliant in “Pitfall,” as he was in dozens of parts playing a heavy. Have you ever seen “Rear Window”? Miraculously, though the public had become very comfortable seeing him as a heavy, they completely bought it, nine years later, when Burr made the switch to become a good guy on the small screen, in the long-running “Perry Mason” and then “Ironside.”

De Toth also says he had to fight to get Lizabeth Scott in the movie. He said the studio wanted someone who was more a looker, more a ‘Marilyn Monroe” type. He said he liked Scott’s performance very much because “She lived the character” and thus was “real” and “believable” in the role.

The film opens with Jane Wyatt as Powell’s wife in a scene that seems as if it could be an outtake from her role in TV’s “Father Knows Best” in the 1950s. But by the end of the film Wyatt’s character is as far from her Margaret Anderson as one could imagine.

One of the other joys of watching “Pitfall” is seeing all the locales in Los Angeles at the time.

One last footnote about “Pitfall.” If, after watching it, you’re surprised that the PC police of Hollywood at the time – known as the Hays office –allowed the film to be released as it was, you’d be right.

Again, here’s De Toth, in “Film Noir Reader 3”: “In ‘Pitfall’ we did have problems with the ending [from] the Hays office….Like I told you, I like to photograph life. Film noir. Westerns. What’s coming through the clothes is what counts. I like to show people naked [not literally] in front of the camera.

“[So] when the Hays office looked at the script, they said no, no Code Seal of Approval. Now, of the five honchos at the Hays Office, there were two whom I knew had ‘lady friends.’ So I called [the two men] and said, ‘I would like to take you to lunch, just to thank you for trying to get us approved. We’ll go ahead and shoot it and try again when you see the final picture.’ Both of them were cowards and did not want to promise anything later; but a free lunch is a free lunch. But at that lunch I also invited the two lovely lady friends whom they knew, and two jaws dropped on the table. Later on, when the picture was done, I didn’t hear any argument.”

Interviewer: And that’s how you got your Code Seal?

De Toth: My lips are sealed.

Thumbnail image for pitfall-dick-powell-lizabeth-scott-1948.jpgDick Powell and Lizabeth Scott in "Pitfall"

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Video: Must-Watch--You'd Think This Was CGI, But It's Being Reported as Real. Happened in Taiwan. Wow!

boulder.jpgIn the video, below, in the first few seconds you'll see this boulder move. Then just watch the rest of the video.

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He Practically Invented Political Satire on TV, Years Before 'SNL.' And He Was One of the Best TV Interviewers Ever. And He Did All This Both in the U.K. and the U.S. Sir David Frost Dies at 74

"Veteran broadcaster Sir David Frost has died at the age of 74 after a suspected heart attack while on board a cruise ship," reports the BBC.

The story continues, "A family statement said he had been giving a speech aboard the Queen Elizabeth on Saturday night."

The story adds that Frost "conducted a series of interviews with [former U.S. president Richard] Nixon, who had resigned the presidency two years earlier, in which the former president came close to apologising to the public for his role in the Watergate scandal.

"Their exchanges were eventually made into the film 'Frost/Nixon' - based on a play - which saw Michael Sheen portray Sir David Frost to Frank Langella's Nixon.

"Playwright Peter Morgan said: 'He was a legendary broadcasting figure and a member of the British broadcasting landscape for two generations and in many ways his success was very un-English. He was a pioneer. He combined being a satirist and someone who one satirised. It was an extraordinary, four-dimensional, vivid career...' "

Frost had extraordinary success on both sides of the Atlantic.

In 1962 and '63 in the U.K., Frost hosted a groundbreaking political satire show titled "That Was The Week That Was," or TW3 for short. Many Americans first came to know Frost when NBC rebroadcast an episode of that show that was produced the day after president John Kennedy was assassinated. TW3 dropped its usual satirical format and presented instead a moving, poignant, memorable tribute to JFK. 

After TW3 was canceled in the U.K., the series, with Frost, came to America, on NBC. It ran from January, 1964 through the beginning of May, 1965.

Frost later had a syndicated talk show in the U.S. that ran from 1969 to 1972. He replaced Merv Griffin's talk show when Griffin left syndication to go to CBS to challenge Johnny Carson and the "Tonight" show.

The BBC article adds, "BBC director general Tony Hall said: 'From satire to comedy to the big political interviews, for more than 50 years he brought us the history of the world we live in today, that's the mark of the man.'

"Sir David joined broadcaster Al-Jazeera in 2006 when it launched its English-speaking service.

"He married his second wife, Lady Carina Fitzalan-Howard, in 1983 and they had three sons."

Here's a terrific overview of Frost's career, produced by the BBC:


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