November 2013

One in a Million: Guess Who's Leading the Public Voting for Time's Person of the Year (Hint: It's NOT Obama, Edward Snowden, or Syria's Bashar al-Assad)

Guess who's leading Time magazine's public online poll for "Person of the Year." We can tell you that it is NOT President Obama, NSA leaker Edward Snowden or Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, "The winner so far: Miley Cyrus, with more than 29 percent of the vote.The twerk-loving pop star is beating world leaders, sports stars, the Boston Marathon bombers and numerous Hollywood figures as the person voters think most influenced the news this year for better or worse."

The story continues, "As of Wednesday afternoon, Cyrus was getting 29.1 percent of votes, ahead of Indian politician Narenda Modi (12.1 percent), NSA leaker Edward Snowden (9.4 percent), Texas state senator and abortion-rights activist Wendy Davis (5.4 percent) and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad (5.0 percent).

"Cyrus' success, however, may not be based on the will of the people, but that of two hackers who have been rigging the vote for the pop star, as they explained to The Daily Dot."

The article adds, "Online voting closes at 11:59 p.m. Dec. 4 and the winners of the reader polls will be announced Dec. 6. Those of you who don't agree with the online vote will be relieved to know that Time's editors will make the final decision about who will be 2013's 'Person of the Year,' a selection that will be announced Dec. 11."

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Miley-Cyrus-2012.jpgMiley Cyrus

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Thanksgiving Holiday Marathons on TV

Seems like more and more people are creating their own TV marathons using their DVR, on-demand programming, or one of the streaming services, such as Netflix or Amazon.

But we have found a few traditional marathons still on TV. The most impressive one we found was Syfy's marathon of James Bond movies that starts tomorrow morning, Thursday, 11/28/13, and runs through the weekend. The marathon includes our two favorite Bond movies "Casino Royale" and "Goldfinger." The movies start at 8 a.m. ET on Syfy.

Also, TBS has a "Friends" marathon going on tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., ET.

For a compete listing of the special programming over the next few days we suggest you click here, which takes you a schedule at the TVTango website.

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The Hunt for Time Warner Cable Continues: Now Cox Cable Reportedly Wants In. And Charter Raises $25 Billion for Its Acquisition War Chest

"Cox Communications is considering jumping into the bidding for Time Warner Cable, according to people familiar with the situation, the latest twist in a fast-evolving takeover battle for the second-largest U.S. cable operator," report Dana Mattioli, Amol Sharma and Martin Peers in the Wall Street Journal.

Separately, The WSJ reports: "Charter Communications is arranging about $25 billion of debt financing as it pursues an acquisition of Time Warner Cable, allowing it to include a hefty cash component in any offer it makes for the New York-based cable operator, according to people familiar with the matter." This second story is reported by Mattioli, Peers and Dana Cimilluca.

In the Cox story, The WSJ says, "Atlanta-based Cox is the nation's third-biggest cable operator, with about 4.5 million TV subscribers, ranking slightly ahead of Charter."

The article continues, "Analysts said Cox, which has a stronger balance sheet than Charter, may be in a good position to pursue a deal. 'In some ways they make perfect sense as a white knight,' said Craig Moffett, an analyst at MoffettNathanson.

"Cox has maintained 'conservative credit metrics' in recent years, including a ratio of debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of about 2.7, according to Moody's Investor Services, compared with 3.2 for Time Warner Cable and 5.5 for Charter."

In its story about Charter, The WSJ says, "Charter could be battling other suitors for Time Warner Cable, including Cox Communications and Comcast, both of which are mulling whether to make bids. Time Warner Cable would be more receptive to a sale to Cox or Comcast, a person familiar with the matter has said, in part because of its concerns a deal with Charter could be financially risky since it carries significant debt relative to its earnings.

"The risks are highlighted by the size of the debt financing being arranged. Charter already has about $14 billion of debt, more than five times its annual earnings before interest, taxes depreciation and amortization, while Time Warner Cable has about $24 billion of net debt. In a report in July, Moody's Investor Services said that assuming a Charter offer was funded with $20 billion in new debt, the combined company's debt would approach $60 billion, 'the largest high yield non-financial corporate issuer by far.' Moody's said that would raise the price of the debt."

To learn a lot more details about each story we urge you to click on the links above, which will take you to the articles in The WSJ. NOTE: The WSJ is behind a pay-wall and may charge you to read its stories.

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More Ratings Woes for Cable News Network

More ratings woes for one of the major cable news networks, which is liikely to post its worst-performing month since the cable network suffered record drops in August 2012, reports The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed.

The network is CNN.

“CNN's situation did not improve in November,” the piece notes. “Initial data from Nielsen Media has the network down the most of any cable news network this past month -- with all suffering year-to-year drops compared to the surge that accompanied last November's presidential election and the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy battering the East Coast.”

Additionally, “New Day” suffered new lows for CNN’s morning programming. Since debuting in June, the show saw its worst month, with an average of only 83,000 viewers in the 25-54 demographic. That represents a 46% drop from “Early Start” in the same time period a year earlier, the piece adds.

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TVWeek Thanksgiving Holiday Schedule

After today, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, TVWeek will be closed tor the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

We will be back on our regular schedule on Monday, Dec. 2, 2013.

In the interim, we'll be sending out our TVWeek EXTRAs to keep you informed.

Have a wonderful holiday and hey, let's be careful out there...

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Jennifer Love Hewitt Has a Baby

“The Client List” actress Jennifer Love Hewitt has given birth to a baby, reports People.

Hewitt gave birth to a baby girl and named her Autumn James Hallisay, the story says. 

Hewitt met her husband, Brian Hallisay, on the Lifetime show “The Client List,” the story says. Their daughter was born Nov. 26.

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If Bad Weather Continues Macy's Thanksgiving Parade Faces Drastic Step It's Only Had to Do One Time Ever, 42 Years Ago

The weather is such in New York CIty that Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade may have to do something it's only had to do once in its history, reports USA Today.

On Thanksgiving day in 1971, for the first time ever, the Macy's parade had to ground its balloons, according to the paper. This is the 87th year of the parade.

The article says, "Travelers flying home for Thanksgiving aren't the only ones who could potentially be grounded due to messy East Coast weather -- Snoopy, SpongeBob SquarePants and Toothless the dragon may have to stay out of the air as well.

"Those Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons -- and 13 other giant balloons -- won't take off Thursday morning if sustained winds exceed 23 mph and gusts exceed 34 mph."

The article adds, "Weather has caused parade organizers -- and watchers -- troubles in the past. In 1997, winds drove a Cat in the Hat balloon into a metal pole. The ensuing damage left a woman in a coma for almost a month before she recovered. In 2005, an M&M balloon knocked over a streetlight that injured two sisters."

The story also notes, "In addition to the possible weather issues for tomorrow, controversy is swirling around two floats.

"Animal rights activists are upset that a SeaWorld float, which features two 27-foot orcas, is joining the parade. They claim SeaWorld doesn't treat its whales well.

"SeaWorld says the accusations have 'absolutely no basis' and that 'the men and women who care for these animals at SeaWorld are dedicated in every respect to their health and well-being.'

"And ranchers were rankled that singer Joan Jett was slated to perform on the South Dakota tourism float, saying the vegetarian and animal-rights activist wasn't a good representative for their beef-producing state. She will still be in the parade, just not on that float. Macy's said the parade does not engage in social commentary or political debate."

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Report: Chef's TV Future in Doubt Amid Charges of Alleged Drug Use

The TV future of a chef is being questioned amid charge of alleged drug use.

Because of the charge, ABC executives are reportedly considering whether to invite Nigella Lawson back for a third season of “The Taste,” reports the New York Daily News.

The drug claims emerged in a London trial, as a court ruled that two former aides to the TV chef could use her “bad character” in their defense against charges they defrauded Lawson and her husband, according to the U.K.’s Telegraph.

The aides, Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, claim that Lawson allowed them to spend the disputed money on holidays and designer items as a way to ensure their silence about her drug use, the story says.

A prosecutor said Lawson has called the claims “totally scurrilous” and false, the Telegraph notes.

An ABC representative told the Daily News that the next season of “The Taste” is already taped and is so far scheduled to air starting on Jan. 2, 2014.

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'Family Guy' Producers Say 'Special Announcement from Brian' Is a Hoax

Producers of Fox’s “Family Guy” are warning that a countdown clock promising a “special announcement from Brian,” the show’s recently deceased dog, is a hoax, reports Deadline.com.

As previously reported, the dog, Brian Griffin, was killed in the show’s latest episode, causing fan outrage and a petition to bring him back.

Two days after Brian’s death, the countdown clock appeared, Deadline notes.

“The producers have confirmed that the ‘special announcement from Brian’ website is a hoax and was not created by anyone connected to the show, studio or network,” studio 20th Century Fox TV told Deadline.

brian griffin.jpgThe late, great Brian Griffin

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Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Warren Beatty, Harrison Ford, Jodie Foster, Spielberg and Scorsese Have All Showed Up to Accept the Golden Globes' Most Prestigious Award. But This Year's Winner, Reportedly, Won't Show Up. Huh?

This seems bizarre. Usually the winner of the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille award for "outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment" makes it a point to accept the award in person when it's presented at the annual broadcast of the Golden Globes.

However, according to our friend Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com, "It looks like Woody Allen will be staying true to his principles of shunning awards shows (and Los Angeles). I hear that the Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning filmmaker is not expected to attend the Golden Globes in January, where he will be the recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award. I hear the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) made the decision to honor Allen without securing a commitment from him that he would attend."

Past winners of the award include Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Warren Beatty, Harrison Ford, Jodie Foster, Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese, all of whom have shown up at the ceremony to accept their awards and give speeches.

The article continues, "Getting Allen to go to the Globes would’ve been an incredible coup as he is notorious about ignoring trophy shows. He wasn’t present to receive any of his three Oscars out of 23 nominations and has shied away from the Golden Globes despite 13 nominations and two wins. In fact, the only awards show he ever attended was the 2002 Academy Awards as an ambassador of New York, thanking Hollywood for its support of his beloved city post-9/11."

What appears particularly odd is that, knowing Allen does not attend these events, the HFPA would not have first made sure he would attend before announcing that he will ge the award.

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CBS News Reporter and Producer Placed on Leave of Absence Over Flawed Benghazi Report

A CBS News reporter who came under fire for a "60 Minutes" report on the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, has gone on a leave of absence, Reuters reports.

Says the story, "CBS News has asked '60 Minutes' reporter Lara Logan to take a leave of absence...according to a memo from the chairman of CBS News, Jeff Fager.

"Logan's producer, Max McClellan, was also put on leave, according to the memo, which was addressed to CBS News employees. A copy of the memo was obtained by Reuters. Fager is also executive producer of '60 Minutes.' "

The report quotes the memo saying: "'60 Minutes' ... fell short by broadcasting a now discredited account of an important story, and did not take full advantage of the reporting abilities of CBS News that might have prevented it from happening."

Reuters adds: "On Oct. 27, '60 Minutes' aired a segment about the Benghazi attack based on a security official who claimed he was at the scene during the assault, in which four Americans were killed, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.

"The program corrected the report after it came to light that the security official had given conflicting testimony to the FBI."

Logan used security official Dylan Davies as a key source, and Davies "claimed he fought off an assailant during the incident and saw Stevens' body," Reuters reports. "Conversely, the FBI and the State Department said Davies was not at the compound during the attack, according to CBS News executive director of standards and practices Al Ortiz, who wrote a detailed memo about the segment to CBS employees obtained by Reuters."

Logan later admitted that it was a mistake to put Davies on the air.

On the Nov. 8 edition of "CBS This Morning" she said: "The most important thing to every person at '60 Minutes' is the truth, and today the truth is we made a mistake."

Asked about the leaves of absence, a CBS spokeswoman told Reuters: "The '60 Minutes' journalistic review is concluded, and we are implementing ongoing changes based on its results."

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for lara logan.jpgLara Logan

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Popular TV Star Suffers Second 'Mini-Stroke'

A television actor who starred on a popular comedy series for seven seasons in the 2000s has suffered his second "mini-stroke." EW.com reports that Frankie Muniz, who played the title role in Fox's "Malcolm in the Middle," tweeted about his medical situation Monday.

Muniz, 27, reportedly wrote: “Almost a year to the day, I experienced another mini stroke. Hopefully that will be the last. Miserable.”

EW adds: "Muniz was hospitalized last year for a mini-stroke, a term used to describe a [transient] ischemic attack (TIA) when blood temporarily stops reaching the brain."

Muniz reportedly told People magazine after that incident: “I felt like I was getting stabbed in the head -- the worst headache you could ever think of. I couldn’t see anything.”

Thumbnail image for frankie-muniz.jpgFrankie Muniz

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Alec Baldwin and MSNBC Part Company

MSNBC and Alec Baldwin, who has been hosting "Up Late" on the cable channel, have come to what's being called a "mutual parting," with the actor's show pulled from the network's schedule for good, USA Today reports.

The move comes in the wake of a brouhaha over Baldwin's alleged use of a gay slur during a confrontation with a photographer, as we reported previously.

Following the incident, MSNBC placed the show on suspension, with word surfacing soon afterward that the cable channel was not eager to have him return.

Now, MSNBC and Matthew Hiltzik, a rep for Baldwin, have released a statement saying: "We are jointly confirming that 'Up Late' will not continue on MSNBC."

MSNBC also released a statement, saying that the decision is a "mutual parting and we wish Alec all the best."

That statement came after media reports surfaced saying Baldwin had been fired, USA Today notes.

Among the outlets reporting that Baldwin had been fired was the New York Post's Page Six, which added this colorful note: "Besides demanding a humidifier because he claimed the air at 30 Rock was too dry, Baldwin alienated staffers when he demanded a separate makeup room being used by a woman with cancer who is sensitive to hairspray.

"When Baldwin was told he couldn’t have his way, he allegedly bellowed at the top of his lungs, 'I don’t give a f--k if she has cancer or not, I want that f--king makeup room.'”

Thumbnail image for alec baldwin-up late-msnbc.jpgAlec Baldwin on "Up Late"

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'Idol' Producers Fight Back Against Lawsuit

The producers of the Fox singing competition "American Idol" fought back in court over a lawsuit against the show, filing a motion to dismiss the racial discrimination suit and arguing that its claims of racism can't, in their words, "be reconciled with reality," The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq., reports.

The suit was filed in July by 10 former contestants on the show and touched on "such diverse topics as civil rights laws, unconscionable release forms, criminal background checks and a supposedly rigged TV contest." THR reports. "But at its heart, the lawsuit aimed to show that by disqualifying many African-American contestants through the years, the popular TV show was oppressive."

The defendants, including Fremantlemedia, Fox Broadcasting, former executive producer Nigel Lythgoe and various corporate sponsors, replied to the accusations Monday.

In the motion to dismiss, the defendants' lawyers say: "By their own allegations, from the show’s inception, approximately one-third of the 'Golden Ticket' winners (who advance beyond the open auditions and travel to Hollywood) have been African American. Plaintiffs also allege that approximately one-third of 'American Idol’s' semi-finalists have been African American. During the show’s twelve seasons, four of the winners have been African American. African Americans thus have participated in key stages of the contest at more than double their proportion of the country’s population."

THR adds: "Of course, as we originally pointed out when the lawsuit was filed, the plaintiffs aren't so concerned with successful outcomes, but rather the disqualifications, or unsuccessful outcomes. The ex-contestants including Jaered Andrews, Corey Clark and Chris Golightly contend that the producers unfairly exploited criminal 'rap sheets' and with thin evidence about their crimes and to their own advantage, precluded them from having a fair shot at being victorious on 'American Idol.'"

The defendants' motion challenges the timing of the suit, saying: "The ten plaintiffs in this lawsuit are former 'American Idol' contestants who were eliminated from the show, either by public vote or through disqualification, as long as ten years ago. Long after the statutes of limitations have expired for all but one plaintiff, they now ask the Court to revisit their eliminations."

The motion also makes a free speech argument, THR notes. The motion says: "As plaintiffs’ complaint acknowledges, the show dramatizes the lives of the contestants, telling their back stories, personal struggles, and ambitions. As an expressive work, 'American Idol' is entitled to the First Amendment’s full protection."

Please click on the link near the top of this story for additional arguments in the THR report.

nigel lythgoe.pngNigel Lythgoe

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NBC Pulls Off a Ratings Achievement It Hasn't Done in 10 Years

NBC is touting a ratings achievement it hasn't pulled off since 2003. The Peacock Network announced that it won the November sweeps in the key 18-49 demo, marking the second consecutive November sweeps win for NBC. It was the first time NBC has won back-to-back November sweeps since 2002-2003.

The network also boasts the No. 1 program of the sweeps in the 18-49 demo, "Sunday Night Football," along with the No. 1 unscripted (non-sports) series, "The Voice," and the top new series, "The Blacklist."

NBC has four of the top eight prime-time series on the big four networks in the 18-49 demo for the sweeps period, with "Sunday Night Football" coming in at No. 1 in every key category.

With three nights left to be counted in the sweeps period, NBC leads the month by an 18% margin in viewers 18-49. If that number holds up, it would represent the biggest percentage win for any network in a November sweeps period since 2002.

The month is also NBC's highest November in total viewers since 2007.

Please click here to read the full press release from NBC.

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Comedic Actor Dies After Killing Deer

A comedic actor known for his work on a seminal TV sketch comedy series has died. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Jay Leggett, known for his appearances on Fox’s “In Living Color,” died of natural causes at 50.

Leggett reportedly died after spending Saturday deer hunting near his Wisconsin hometown of Tomahawk. Emergency crews responded to a call at a cabin and found family members performing CPR on him, the story says.

Leggett co-wrote, appeared in and produced the feature film “Employee of the Month,” starring Matt Dillon and Christina Applegate, and co-wrote “Without a Paddle,” starring Dax Shepard and Seth Green. He performed on the 1993-94 season of “In Living Color,” and appeared in other TV shows including “ER,” “Ally McBeal” and “The Drew Carey Show.”

He produced and starred in the Spike TV series "Factory," which had a six-episode run in 2008.

CNN notes that Leggett was an avid deer hunter, and produced the 2011 documentary "To the Hunt: Deer Season in Tomahawk, Wisconsin."

CNN reports that Leggett "collapsed and died next to his all-terrain vehicle at the end of a hunt on the first day of gun deer season in his native Tomahawk, Wisconsin, according to Lincoln County sheriff's spokesman Mike Caylor. A deer that Leggett had killed was strapped to the ATV."

The CNN report quotes a sheriff's statement saying: "The victim had returned to the cabin from his deer stand on an ATV. When he got off the machine he collapsed and was found unresponsive by family members who immediately started CPR."

jay leggett.jpgJay Leggett

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HBO Being Pressured to Dump Bill Maher's Show

HBO and its corporate owner Time Warner are under pressure to kick Bill Maher off the air, reports Newsday's a.m. New York.

The Catholic League is putting the heat on after becoming incensed over recent remarks by guest Dan Savage, who is a gay rights activist. He criticized the Catholic Church on the show last week in what the article calls a “profanity-laced rant.”

“The show deserves to be cancelled,” the Catholic League wrote in a letter to Time Warner. It also included “54 anti-Catholic statements made by Bill Maher on TV,” the story says.

Maher has long been opposed to organized religion and has spoken often on the topic. He even devoted an entire movie to the subject -- "Religulous," released in 2008. He has also said that he is an agnostic, not an atheist. As a child, Maher has said, he was raised as a Catholic. 

According to TMZ.com, Savage, who was criticizing a bishop who claims children adopted by gay children have a higher suicide rate, said, “He's confusing children of gay parents with children who are raped by Catholic priests." Savage also described them as “kiddie-f***ing Catholic priests,” TMZ notes.

The TMZ report notes that the Catholic League "has had issues with Maher for years," and adds: "Savage's remarks incensed the org ... so they sent a list of every 'anti-Catholic' statement ever mentioned on the show -- going as far back as '98 -- asking every bishop to write Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, urging him to give the show the ax."

bill maher.pngBill Maher

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Fans of 'Family Guy' Outraged by Latest Plot Development -- and Some Aren't Buying It

Fans of the long-running Fox animated series "Family Guy" are howling about Sunday's sudden plot twist, with many of them refusing to take it lying down. (Spoiler alert.)

The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that fans of the show have started a petition to bring back Brian, the talking family dog on the comedy series, who was killed in the latest episode, as we reported yesterday.

“Brian Griffin was an important part of our viewing experince [sic]. He added a witty and sophisticated element to the show. 'Family Guy' and Fox Broadcasting will lose viewers if Brian Griffin is not brought back to the show,” the petition reads.

“They killed America’s dog!” it adds.

The Change.org petition got up to speed Monday morning, and had gained more than 28,000 supporters as of Tuesday morning.

The show killed Brian by having him hit by a car. The show’s executive producer said the decision was made to kill off a character as a “fun way to shake things up.”

Still, some fans are suspicious about Brian’s death, Nellie Andreeva writes on Deadline.com.

“After all, Stewie is in possession of a (temporarily not working) time machine he and Brian had frequently used. If they were able to prevent a cataclysmic event like 9/11 in the controversial 2011 episode, altering the circumstances that led to Brian’s death should be a piece of cake once the machine is working again,” she writes.

One issue that complicates a potential return is that the Griffin family has adopted a new dog, Vinny, who is voiced by “The Sopranos” actor Tony Sirico, the piece notes. Sirico is slated for six episodes, but could become a regular, Andreeva writes.

She adds, “Still, Brian has been one of ‘Family Guy’s' most popular characters, and along with Stewie, is probably the show’s top merchandise property. It doesn’t make a lot of business sense to kill off one of your top cash cows.”

Producer 20th TV would not comment for the Deadline story when asked about Brian's chances for a comeback, Andreeva notes, adding: "Truth be told, it would be a financial boon for 20th TV to reap the benefits of the inevitable spike in sales of Brian-themed toys and other collectibles in the wake of his death and then have the character come back."

Here's "Family Guy's" Brian Griffin tribute clip:

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'Game of Thrones' Actor Says He's Quitting Acting -- and His Character on the Series May Be What's Creeping Him Out

An actor who is a regular on the HBO series "Game of Thrones" says he will quit acting as soon as the acclaimed drama series comes to an end. Jack Gleeson, who plays the evil King Joffrey on the series, made the comments to the Irish Independent.

"The lifestyle that comes with being an actor in a successful TV show isn't something I gravitate towards,” the Irish actor said. “It was always a recreation beforehand, but when I started doing ‘Game of Thrones’ perhaps the reality was made too real for me.”

Asked whether he watches himself on the show, he says he tends not to. “You tend to abstract yourself from the creepiness of it when you're playing it, but when you see it on television it sends shivers down my spine,” he said. “I would like to try and defend him, but I would have a pretty hard job doing it. I suppose he's the product of his context and his family. In terms of redeemable qualities, there wouldn't be many."

jack gleeson-game of thrones.pngJack Gleeson in "Game of Thrones"

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Want to Watch a Celebrity Wedding Live? Now You Can, on Pay-Per-View

An upcoming celebrity wedding will be televised live as a pay-per-view event. TMZ.com reports that next month's wedding of former “Real Housewives of D.C.” star Michaele Salahi and Journey guitarist Neal Schon will be available in 90 million homes.

“The PPV event/wedding is going down Dec. 15th at the Palace of the Fine Arts in San Fran... and if you didn't get the invite ... you can watch the three-hour TV special dubbed the ‘Winter Wonderland Wedding and Music Event’ for just $14.95!!!” the story reports.

The wedding will be hosted by a TV crew including Debbie Matenopoulos, Cameron Mathison, and Karyn Bryant, and Schon's rock band Journey will perform.

The couple will “be (slightly) redeeming themselves by donating a portion of the proceeds to a charity that benefits typhoon relief in the Philippines,” the piece notes.

The event is billed as "Neal and Michaele: The Winter Wonderland Wedding and Music Event," and promises performances by Journey and "very special guests."

neal schon-michaele salahi.pngNeal Schon and Michaele Salahi

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'That '70s Show' Veteran to Play Crime Lord

The latest TV role for an actor known for the long-running Fox comedy “That ‘70s Show” sounds as though it will give him something grittier to sink his teeth into.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the El Rey Network tapped Wilmer Valderrama, who played the foreign exchange student Fez on “That ‘70s Show,” for a series regular role as a crime lord on “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series."

Valderrama will play the character Carlos Madrigal on the 10-episode series, which is based on the film of the same name. Also starring in the show are D.J. Cotrona as Seth Gecko and Zane Holtz as his brother, Richie Gecko. Don Johnson will play a Texas Ranger who is on their trail after several people die during a bank heist.

Robert Rodriguez, the director and producer behind the "From Dusk Till Dawn" feature film franchise, will executive produce with Carlos Coto, who is also the showrunner.

El Rey, founded by Rodriguez, will debut in December and is a new 24-hour English-language network that’s geared toward a Latino audience.

Thumbnail image for wilmer-valderrama.jpgWilmer Valderrama

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A&E Renews Drama Series

After taking some time presumably to think it over, A&E has made up its mind about bringing back a drama series. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel renewed “Longmire” for a third season, ordering an additional 10 episodes.

The official renewal “took awhile,” the story notes, even though the show's executive producer John Coveny tweeted in August that the third season had been given a nod.

“In its second season, ‘Longmire’ averaged 3.7 million total viewers with the season finale episode August 26 delivering a season high of 4.4 million total viewers,” the story notes.

Robert Taylor stars as Longmire, the sheriff of a remote Wyoming county, with Katee Sackhoff playing his deputy.

longmire.jpg

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Why the 1973 'Charlie Brown Thanksgiving' Is Gaining Viewers

The 1973 animated special “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special” continues to gain fans, and last year drew its largest audience in four years, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker.

According to ABC Vice President of Alternative Series and Specials Mark Bracco, the Charlie Brown specials continue to “resonate with viewers," and it has to do with families passing along the holiday tradition.

“The kids that watched them a generation ago are now watching them with their own kids. Today's parents have made the Charlie Brown specials a part of their own holiday traditions,” Bracco told the publication via email.

The Thanksgiving special will air on the holiday this year, and the broadcast will include a bonus cartoon, “This Is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers.”

charlie brown thanksgiving.jpg

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ReelzChannel Picks Up Talk Show

ReelzChannel has placed a hefty order for a talk show starring a performer with a long track record in television and the recording industry.

Deadline.com reports that the cable channel picked up 80 of the 150 produced episodes of “Marie!,” the Hallmark Channel talk show from Marie Osmond. The show will air starting Jan. 6 at 10 a.m.

The network has the option to buy more episodes, while “Marie!” producer Associated Television International is still looking at a potential syndication sale, the story adds.

Osmond co-hosted the ABC variety show "Donny & Marie" in the 1970s along with her brother Donny Osmond. The pair also had a syndicated talk show of the same name that aired from 1998-2000.

Marie Osmond has been a solo recording artist, a part of the family singing group the Osmonds, and half of a singing duet with brother Donny. As a solo artist, her cover of "Paper Roses" in 1973 reached No. 1 on the Billboard country charts.

marie osmond.jpgMarie Osmond

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Martin Sheen to Star in a Whale of a TV Movie

Actor Martin Sheen, known for his roles on “The West Wing” and in the classic film “Apocalypse Now,” will star in an Animal Planet original movie, the New York Post reports.

Sheen will play Old Thomas Nickerson in the two-hour movie "The Whale," which is based on the true story of the Essex, a 19th century whaling ship that sank in 1820 after being attacked by a sperm whale. The story is said to have formed the basis for Herman Melville’s novel “Moby Dick.”

The project is based on the memoirs of Thomas Nickerson, who served as the cabin boy on the ship and was one of its survivors.

No airdate has been set for the film, in which Sheen will play Nickerson as an older man.

The project, a co-production of Animal Planet and BBC Factual Productions, was shot on location in Malta and in London, the story notes.

martin sheen.pngMartin Sheen

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'Doctor Who' Special Breaks BBC America Viewing Record

The “Doctor Who” 50th anniversary special broke BBC America’s all-time ratings record, with 3.6 million viewers watching the first telecast and an encore on Saturday, reports EW.com’s Inside TV.

On Twitter, the show generated 1.8 million tweets, more than any other cable show for the week, the story adds.

As previously reported, the special set a Guinness World Record for the largest simulcast of a TV drama in history. The episode was simulcast in 94 countries and screened in 1,500 movie theaters.

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E! Renews Three Series

E! has announced renewals for three shows. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel is picking up new seasons of the freshman reality series “Total Divas” and “Eric & Jessie: Game On" and the talk show “Hello Ross.”

All three shows were picked up for second seasons.

“Hello Ross,” a weekly talk show, is hosted by Ross Matthews and has featured guests including Leah Remini and Gwyneth Paltrow. The show will end its first season on Friday.

“Total Divas” tracks the private lives of some of WWE’s Divas, including the Bella Twins, the story says. It will continue airing its first season through Dec. 15.

“Eric & Jessie” is about the marriage of singer Jessie James and Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker, the story says. Its first season ended Nov. 3.

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Apple News: Looks Like Larger Tablet Is Coming. Also, Will Hand Gestures Control an Apple TV?

It looks like Apple is working on a larger iPad to sell next year, reports Digitimes.

According to the story, "Apple is... rumored to be planning to release a 12.9-inch iPad in 2014 with Quanta in charge of manufacturing the device, ...sources noted."

The article continues, "The sources pointed out that Apple's large-size iPad will mainly target the education and enterprise markets."

Furthermore, the article notes, "Quanta is expected to encounter several challenges in terms of industrial design and assembly when making the large-size iPad. And since the size is not the mainstream specification, order volumes are expected to be limited, the sources said."

Separately, Apple has bought Israeli company PrimeSense for a reported $350 million, Apple Insider reports.

According to the story, "Apple's confirmed purchase of PrimeSense, makers of technology that powered Microsoft's first-generation Kinect sensor, has helped to fuel speculation that a future Apple TV product, whether a next-generation set-top box or a full-fledged television set, will be controlled by gestures."

The story also says, "Outside of Kinect, PrimeSense's technology has been found in devices such as iRobot's Ava healthcare robot and Matterport's full-color 3D scanners. In those devices, PrimeSense's sensors are used to create a three-dimensional model of the environment for navigation and human interaction."

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NBC News Names Chief Global Correspondent

NBC News announced today that it has named a new chief global correspondent. The news division said in a press release that it has hired veteran journalist Bill Neely, who will be based in London.

Neely has been international editor for Britain's ITV News since 2002, appearing regularly on NBC News through its partnership with ITN. He will rejoin his former ITN boss, Deborah Turness, who is president of NBC News. Turness made the announcement.

In a memo to staffers, Turness said: “Bill is one of the greatest television journalists of this generation. He embodies a unique combination of high-end analysis, hunger to win, and superior story-telling skills. Quite simply, Bill is the kind of journalist who competitors don’t want to see turn up on a story, and I’m delighted that from now on he will be on our team. He complements NBC News’ already stellar lineup of world-class correspondents whose talents, experience, and dedication make me proud each and every day.”

Neely commented: “After almost 25 five wonderful years at ITN during which I’ve been privileged to cover so many of the biggest stories of our time, I’m thrilled to be joining NBC as their Chief Global Correspondent. Every change is a challenge, but broadcasting to a new audience at a great American network has to be one of the best challenges -- and opportunities -- any journalist could be offered.”

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ABC Program Surges in Sunday Ratings -- Still No Match for NBC's Football

An ABC broadcast had a huge surge in viewership Sunday night, but nothing on broadcast could come close to the numbers delivered by NBC's football coverage, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that ABC's broadcast of "The American Music Awards" pulled in a 4.5 average rating in the 18-49 demo, a four-year high for the program and up 32% from a year ago. The broadcast also delivered 12.90 million total viewers.

NBC's "Sunday Night Football" telecast of the Patriots/Broncos game, meanwhile, had a preliminary 8.8 average in viewers 18-49 from 8:30-11 p.m. with 23.99 million total viewers, as NBC soared to an easy win for the night.

The report notes that the numbers for NBC and Fox, which had NFL overrun in prime time, are approximate and subject to more than the usual adjustments due to the nature of live programming. Meanwhile, CBS had programming delays and its numbers are subject to change.

The preliminary figures show ABC's lead-in to "The American Music Awards," "America's Funniest Home Videos," with a 1.5 average in 18-49, up 7% from a week ago.

Fox's "The Simpsons" had a 2.9 in viewers 18-49, surging 61% from a week ago, when it aired an hour later. "Bob's Burgers" delivered a 1.9, rising 27% from its previous original; "Family Guy" equaled last week's 2.2; and "American Dad" ticked up 13% from its previous original to a 1.8.

Trailing the pack among the big four broadcast networks was CBS, where football delays messed with the schedule. In preliminary results, "60 Minutes" came in with a 1.6 average in 18-49, down 6% from last week; "The Amazing Race" recorded a series-low 1.5, slipping 25%; "The Good Wife" fell 7% to a 1.3; and "The Mentalist" inched up 7% to a 1.5.

Looking at the numbers for prime time overall, NBC has a big lead with a 7.0 average in adults 18-49, followed by Fox and ABC (both 3.7), CBS (1.5) and Univision (1.2). In total viewers it's NBC on top with 19.6 million, followed by ABC (11.4 million), CBS (9.78 million), Fox (9.77 million) and Univision (3.5 million).

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Producer of Showtime Series Sentenced in Case Linked to Russian Mafia

One of the producers of a Showtime drama series was sentenced today in a high-profile criminal case. The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq., reports that Bryan Zuriff, one of the executive producers on "Ray Donovan," avoided prison time in his gambling case.

"A judge sentenced Zuriff to six months of home confiment, two years of probation, 300 hours of community service and a $20,000 fine," the story reports. "The announcement came from U.S. District Court Judge Jesse Furman at a hearing in a New York courtroom on Monday."

The piece reports: "Zuriff was one of 34 people indicted this past April for his role in a high-stakes sports-betting enterprise with alleged connections to the Russian mafia. In July, Zuriff became the first person from this group to plead guilty. In legal papers, he admitted getting caught up with co-defendants Hillel Nahmad and Ilya Trencher, although he maintained that he wasn't aware of any mob connections."

Zuriff went on a leave of absence from the Showtime drama series to "protect" the series from bad publicity, he said, but he rejoined the show as a consultant. "He is said to have had a hand in the upcoming second season and has recently been working on a Todd Phillips movie to be filmed in the summer of 2014, the Aaron Sorkin-penned Steve Jobs movie and a number of other TV and film projects," THR notes.

The report adds: "At the hearing, Zuriff apologized for his actions and said a 'silver lining' was that the arrest allowed him the opportunity to address gambling addiction. He revealed he has been in intensive therapy for past seven months."

His attorney made the argument that Zuriff's relationship with the Showtime series was endangered by the case and said a jail sentence for Zuriff would adversely impact the show, the piece notes.

The report adds: "The judge agreed with prosecutors that what he did was not a 'victimless crime' and while acknowledging that 'prison wouldn't serve any purpose here' and that the letters showed that he had acknowledged what he had done and didn't blame others, that more than 'a slap on the wrist' was warranted. (Hence the home confinement.)"

Among those writing letters requesting mercy for Zuriff were Judd Apatow, "Lone Survivor" director Peter Berg and "Ray Donovan" star Jon Voight, the report says.

"According to attorneys for Zuriff, who broke into Hollywood as a talent manager for stars like Elizabeth Shue, Chris Noth and Brent Spiner, their client opened a 'sports book' account on unlawful Internet gambling sites and accepted wagers on behalf of Nahmad and others," the story reports. "Zuriff met Nahmad through fellow 'Ray Donovan' producer Mark Gordon -- a 'newfound friendship [that] was exciting and Bryan did all he could to fit in with his new companions,' said the legal papers."

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AMC Orders Two New Dramas

AMC has placed orders for two new drama projects. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel ordered pilots for "Knifeman" and "Galyntine."

"Both will be produced by AMC Studios next year for consideration for series for 2015," the story reports. "The scripts for 'Knifeman' and 'Galyntine,' along with 'White City,' had been heating up for a pickup at AMC over the past month, with 'Knifeman' and 'Galyntine' now joining AMC pilot 'Line of Sight.'"

Set in 18th century London, "Knifeman" is reportedly inspired by “The Knife Man: Blood, Body Snatching and the Birth of Modern Surgery,” the biography of John Hunter by Wendy Moore.

"It tells the story of a charming, arrogant, decorum-breaking genius who challenges societal norms to transform his visions into cutting-edge discoveries," the story reports. "A surgeon or 'barber' in a time when blood-letting and praying was the norm, John Tattersal is a hard drinking, hard living man not afraid to push the boundaries of modern medicine, even if it takes digging up a few graves to do it. While he makes his living running an unlicensed operating theatre out of his residence, he picks up extra cash harvesting organs for his brother Julian, favorite son and prized physician of the St. Stephen’s teaching hospital."

The pilot is penned by Rolin Jones and was developed by Jones and Ron Fitzgerald, with both set to executive produce.

"'Galyntine' is rooted in a both fantasy/action adventure and science-fiction. In the vein of NBC’s 'Revolution,' It takes place at a time after a cataclysmic technology-induced disaster has resulted in a new society that has eschewed any form of technology," the story reports. "This catastrophic event leaves small numbers of survivors scattered around the planet and forced to adapt to isolation and unique challenges."

The project is written by Jason Cahill and executive produced by Cahill and Greg Nicotero, the report notes.

Said Joel Stillerman, EVP of programming, production and digital content for AMC: “These are both highly original and ambitious pilots that take us into worlds that we haven’t seen on TV before. The bawdiness and fun of 'Knifeman' and London in the mid-18th century; and the completely unique take on a post-apocalyptic world in 'Galyntine' are right in AMC’s wheelhouse of making television that is both unexpected and unconventional.”

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ABC Developing Haunted House Project With Longtime Fox Exec

ABC has some industry heavyweights on board for its new new haunted house project. TheWrap.com reports that the network is developing the project with former Fox alternative programming chief Mike Darnell, while “Paranormal Activity” producer Jason Blum is set to executive produce.

Not many details are known about the project, although it’s being produced by Blum’s Blumhouse Productions.

"After leaving Fox after nearly 20 years early this year, Darnell signed on with Warner Bros. Television Group, as president, Warner Bros. unscripted and alternative television," the report notes.

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Katie Couric Joins Yahoo

UPDATE, 10:15 am, PT on 11/25/13. Yahoo confirms the hiring of Couric, who will begin her interview show for the Internet giant early in 2014. Below is the story we posted earlier this moring.

Katie Couric "is close to finalizing an extensive deal with Internet giant Yahoo, according to multiple sources," The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed blog has reported in an exclusive story by Marisa Guthrie.

The story says Couric is talking to Yahoo about "hosting a newsmaker interview program that would be featured on the site's highly trafficked home page." In August 2013, for example, the comScore Internet traffic service reported that Yahoo's sites had 196,564,000 unique visitors during the month of July, beating out the 192,251,000 unique visitors that visited Google's sites, according to The New York Times' Bits blog.

Kara Swisher at All Things D, who first reported Yahoo's interest in Couric in August, writes that "The deal is set to be announced [today]. Monday, [Nov. 25, 2013,] said multiple sources at the company, which could designate Couric as 'global news anchor' of the Silicon Valley Internet giant."

The THR story adds: "Couric is said to have been personally wooed by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who has already lured New York Times tech columnist David Pogue in an effort to pump up the Internet giant's media presence. Couric earlier this year bowed a commentary feature on Yahoo News called 'Katie's Take,' which has mostly been repurposed material from her talk show. (ABC News and Yahoo have had a news sharing partnership since 2011.)"

The THR article also says, "ABC News declined comment. But an executive told THR: 'Katie is an incredible journalist and this was an opportunity that she couldn’t pass up. Thanks to the powerful association between ABC News and Yahoo we know that Katie will continue to work closely with us and welcome her on our air anytime.'"

The THR story adds, "Couric's daytime talk show is in its second and almost certainly final season on ABC. She will complete the season and sources at Disney-ABC insist that a decision about the future of 'Katie' will not be made until sometime in December after executives get a look at the November sweeps ratings.

"The original deal -- said to be worth $40 million -- encompassed two seasons of the daytime talk show and three years at ABC News; it is standard for news contracts to be three years. It's unclear how much the news division is paying toward Couric's contract or how much she'll walk away with in an early exit."

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'Family Guy' Kills Off a Major Character

In a report that includes spoilers involving the episode of "Family Guy" that aired Sunday on Fox -- stop reading now if you don't want to know -- the series killed off a major character, USA Today reports.

The character had been a part of the Seth MacFarlane animated series since the pilot aired back in 1999. The character is Brian, the family dog, who was hit by a car.

"The show's executive producer Steve Callaghan spoke to E! Online about the painful decision, which forced the family to say teary goodbyes to their bruised and bloodied dog," the story reports.

Said Callaghan: "We thought it could be a fun way to shake things up. It seemed more in the realm of a reality that a dog would get hit by a car. As much as we love Brian, and as much as everyone loves their pets, we felt it would be more traumatic to lose one of the kids, rather than the family pet."

USA Today adds: "Shortly after Brian's death, the Griffins adopted a fast-talking new dog named Vinny, who is voiced by 'The Sopranos'' Tony Sirico, and helps comfort Stewie in the wake of his devastating loss."

Adds Callaghan: "Where Brian was sort of a match for Stewie intellectually, Vinny is a good match for Stewie because he doesn't let Stewie get away with any crap. He'll call Stewie out on his b.s. freely."

The report notes: "Cast members such as Mila Kunis and Seth Green were surprised to learn of the character shakeup, which has already sparked the hashtag #BringBackBrian on Twitter. Aside from his belief that Vinny will add a new dynamic to the Griffin family, Callaghan isn't worried about any major post-Brian backlash in the long term."

Said Callaghan: "Our fans are smart enough and have been loyal to our show for long enough to know that they can trust us. We always make choices that always work to the greatest benefit of the series."

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CEO Out as Turnover Continues for Ryan Seacrest Productions

Ryan Seacrest Productions continues to suffer from turnover, with the latest departure being the company’s chief executive, Adam Sher, Nellie Andreeva reports on Deadline.com.

“In the past year, the company, which is yet to score a major hit beyond the ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ franchise, also parted ways with Fernando J. Hernandez, EVP Development and Production, who took a job at Universal TV, and SVP Development and Current Unscripted Programming Heather Schuster,” Andreeva writes.

Sher, who joined in 2008, will retain his equity stake, the story says.

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Part 2 of Dan Rather, JFK, Edward R. Murrow and the Business of TV News: Is a Dream a Lie If It Don't Come True, or Is It Something Worse?

Like Friday's Part 1, this compelling Part 2 is a must-read by TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross, and will likely quickly become the talk of the TV news business. Please click here to read it.

If you somehow missed Part 1, please click here to find it.

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Sarah Palin Stands by Her Slavery Analogy

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Sunday stuck by her comparison of the national debt to slavery, but added that she accepts the apology from MSNBC host Martin Bashir, reports TheWrap.com.

“The definition of slavery is to be beholden to a master, and we will be beholden when that note is due,” Palin said during a “Fox News Sunday” appearance.

As previously reported, Bashir apologized after implying in a commentary that Palin deserved to have someone "shit" in her mouth. He made the comment in response to Palin’s earlier remark that U.S. debt to China would result in a “slavery” situation.

On Sunday, Palin said, “Who am I to not accept an apology?” She added, “Everyone must humble themselves and accept that offer of apology. But next time they want to say such a thing and then get the attention they were seeking after they said it, and then they want to call and apologize to me in private? I’d like them to go through Todd first, or one of my children first. Leave a message with them. Hear what they have to say about it. And then they can come to me.”

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'Inadvertent' Error Keeps HBO's 'Game of Thrones' Out of Drama Awards Competition

Because of what HBO is calling an "inadvertent" error, the pay-cable channel's wildly successful drama series "Game of Thrones" will not be competing for a Writers Guild of America Award in the drama series category, Nellie Andreeva reports on Deadline.com.

The network attributes the oversight to an “inadvertent online entry error,” the story reports.

“Game of Thrones” previously received two consecutive WGA Awards nominations in the category. HBO said the show's episodic entries weren’t affected.

“Since the submission process is online, it is not clear whether the omission was a result of a computer glitch or human error. I hear HBO tried hard to rectify the problem the moment it was discovered, but WGA would not add the show to the top drama category it had been competing in since it [launched],” Andreeva writes.

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Lifetime Renews Drama Series

Lifetime has made the decision to renew a drama series. The New York Post reports that the cable channel has greenlighted season two of “Witches of East End.”

The drama will air 13 new episodes in 2014. The show stars Julia Ormond as the matriarch of a family of witches, although she has raised her daughters to be ignorant of their powers.

The series, with its first season set to end Dec. 15, has been averaging 3 million total viewers and 1.7 million viewers in the 18-49 demographic.

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ABC News Correspondent Finds Another Tumor During Mastectomy

An ABC News correspondent will undergo more cancer treatments after a second tumor was found during a double mastectomy, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

As previously reported, Amy Robach, 40, found out she had cancer after going through a mammogram on live television in October.

Robach, who had the surgery last week, will need further treatment because the cancer has spread to a lymph node, the story notes. She’s expected to return to work the Monday following Thanksgiving.

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Ron Burgundy Joins Canadian Broadcaster

Fictional television news anchorman Ron Burgundy, played by "Saturday Night Live" alum Will Ferrell, is joining the Canadian sports broadcaster TSN, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Burgundy will call a pro curling event for the network, the story says. He will join TSN’s Vic Rauter at an event in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on Dec. 1 to provide the commentary. THR calls Rauter "the Edward R. Murrow of curling broadcasters.”

In a statement released Sunday, Burgundy is quoted as saying: "Marked by the gods of broadcasting and placed into this shimmering green sphere like a golden egg in hay, chosen like an unclean jackal by Noah himself, I accept your hallowed task and sing out with a battle cry worthy of your love and your wisdom."

"And that song is, ‘Winnipeg, get ready to paint the town Burgundy!’ Farrell's "Anchorman" character added. The movie's sequel, "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues," is due to hit theaters Dec. 20.

ron burgundy-will ferrell.jpgWill Ferrell as Ron Burgundy

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Nickelodeon Renews Comedy Series

Nickelodeon has renewed a comedy series, while also extending its order for the show's current season. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the cable channel added six episodes to “Instant Mom's” freshman season and ordered a second season.

The multicamera comedy will air 26 episodes in its first season. It stars Tia Mowry-Hardrict as a woman who gives up her partying lifestyle when she marries an older man and becomes a stepmom to his three children.

The show has helped bring year-over-year ratings improvements for Nick at Nite in the 18-49 demographic, the story says. Since debuting in September, it has drawn 1.2 million total viewers per episode, on average.

Said Russell Hicks, president of content development and production for Nickelodeon: "In just a couple months since its debut, 'Instant Mom' has resonated remarkably well with the Nick at Nite and NickMom audiences. We're thrilled to witness its early success alongside 'See Dad Run' and families enthusiastic about Tia and an undeniably charismatic cast."

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'Doctor Who' Broadcast Sets Guinness World Record

The “Doctor Who” 50th anniversary broadcast, “The Day of the Doctor,” set a Guinness World Record for the largest simulcast of a TV drama in history, reports the U.K.’s Telegraph.

The episode was simulcast in 94 countries, as well as in 1,500 movie theaters worldwide, including in the U.S. More than half a million tickets were sold for the 3D movie screenings, the story notes.

In the U.K., the episode was watched by 10.2 million viewers, giving the series its biggest overnight ratings since the BBC revived the show in 2005, the piece adds.

In response to receiving the award from Guinness editor-in-chief Craig Glenday at a London celebration, “Doctor Who” showrunner Steven Moffat said, “For years the Doctor has been stopping everyone else from conquering the world. Now, just to show off, he's gone and done it himself!"

The show already is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most successful science-fiction series, the report notes.

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'Daily Show' Correspondent Joins Tim Robbins/Jack Black Project at HBO

A correspondent for Comedy Central's “The Daily Show” is joining an HBO comedy project. Deadline.com reports that Aasif Mandvi has been cast in the pilot for “The Brink,” a dark geopolitical comedy.

The project is directed by Jay Roach and written by Roberto Benabib and Kim Benabib, with Jerry Weintraub producing. It stars Tim Robbins as the U.S. Secretary of State and Jack Black as a Foreign Service officer.

Mandvi will play a Pakistani who works for the U.S. embassy and both loves and resents America, the story says.

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Cable Hall of Famer Signs Off From CNBC

Maria Bartiromo signed off from CNBC on Friday, a day when both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 set records, reports TVNewser.

As previously reported, Bartiromo, who has worked at CNBC for two decades, recently agreed to join the Fox Business Network. Bartiromo is a popular TV reporter and a member of the Cable Hall of Fame.

Bartiromo, who has anchored CNBC’s “Closing Bell” for the past 11 years, said Friday: “I won’t give you a long and mushy goodbye, especially since I’ve been getting choked up all day, but I still must extend my love and thank you to many, as this is my last broadcast on CNBC.”

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Reality TV Star Under Federal Investigation

A reality television personality is the target of a federal investigation. According to The Hollywood Reporter, one of the former stars of MTV's "Jersey Shore," Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, is having his finances investigated.

"The U.S. Attorney's Office has issued subpoenas for records related to several businesses he owns, according to a statement released by his publicist," THR reports.

The statement adds: "He is cooperating with the investigation and is providing the requested records. Although the nature and the scope of the investigation is not clear at this time, Sorrentino fully expects that when all the facts are revealed, no further action will be taken."

"Sorrentino owns the production and management company MPS Entertainment and has his own clothing line," THR reports. "The U.S. Attorney's Office has a policy not to confirm or deny the existence of any investigations, they said. The FBI in Newark also said they wouldn't confirm or deny the existence of an investigation."

mike the situation sorrentino.pngMike "The Situation" Sorrentino

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Veteran ABC Drama and NBC Sitcom Sink to Historic Ratings Lows; NBC Falls Below CW for Prime Time

A long-running ABC drama series and an NBC comedy series both fell to all-time lows Thursday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "Grey's Anatomy," which is in its 10th season on ABC, fell to a series low with a 2.5 average in viewers 18-49, losing one-tenth from a week ago.

ABC's "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland," meanwhile, continued at its series low, equaling last week's 0.9 average in the 18-49 demo. "Scandal" was the network's highest-rated show with a 2.9, equaling last week's number.

On NBC, back-to-back fresh episodes of "Parks and Recreation" failed to ignite viewer interest as both installments delivered 1.0 averages in 18-49, a series low for the six-season comedy series. That number was down from a 1.1 a week ago.

The rest of NBC's lineup was even with last week: a series-low 0.9 for "Seas Saves the World" in the 18-49 demo, a 0.9 for "The Michael J. Fox Show," also a series low, and a 1.2 for "Parenthood." NBC had the rare achievement of finishing sixth for prime time overall, below not only its big four rivals but also Univision and the CW.

The report notes that the "Thursday Night Football" game between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons was simulcast on the CW affiliate in Atlanta and the Fox affiliate in New Orleans, meaning numbers for CW and Fox may be inflated and are subject to more than the usual adjustments.

CBS coasted to a relatively easy win for prime time overall, with "The Big Bang Theory" by far the top-rated broadcast show of the night. "Bang" equaled last week's 5.2 average rating in viewers 18-49 and delivered 18.59 million total viewers.

CBS's "The Millers" rose two-tenths from the previous week to deliver a 2.8 average in 18-49, while "The Crazy Ones" inched up one-tenth to a 2.2 and "Elementary" rose two-tenths to a 1.8. "Two and a Half Men" was flat with a 2.1.

Fox got a 1.6 out of "The X Factor," up three-tenths from a week ago, and a 1.6 for "Glee," up two-tenths from last week's series low.

The CW gave the big four's bottom feeders a run for their money with "The Vampire Diaries," which matched its 1.3 average from a week earlier in the 18-49 demo, and "Reign," which rose two-tenths to a 0.9.

When the dust settled, CBS was comfortably ahead for prime time overall with a 2.6 average in adults 18-49, followed by ABC (2.1 average), Univision (1.7), Fox (1.6), CW (1.1) and NBC (1.0). In total viewers, CBS remained at No. 1 with 11.0 million, followed by ABC (6.9 million), Fox (5.2 million), Univision (4.3 million), NBC (3.1 million) and CW (2.5 million).

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for big-bang-theory.png"The Big Bang Theory"

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Video: Howard Stern Hassles David Letterman About the Jay Leno Situation

"America's Got Talent" judge and veteran radio personality Howard Stern reopened old wounds during an appearance on CBS's "Late Show with David Letterman," taunting the late-night icon about his apparent thawing relationship with rival host Jay Leno.

Here's the video:

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Comedy Central Orders Project Set in an Asylum

Comedy Central greenlighted a single-camera comedy about an asylum. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel is moving ahead with “Crazy House,"

Written and co-executive produced by Nick Turner and Lee Rubenstein, the project is about two friends who plead insanity and are sentenced to an asylum after inadvertently putting their boss into a coma, the story says.

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News Shows See Ratings Surge as JFK Anniversary Programming Ramps Up

With today marking the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination, news channels and news programs are already reporting upticks in ratings, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

Among the beneficiaries were the Sunday morning news programs that aired last weekend.

"'CBS Sunday Morning With Charles Osgood,' devoting a special edition to JFK, surged to its largest audience since Feb. 4, 1996." THR reports. "The 6.23 million viewers easily topped the morning's competition and outperformed the typical ratings seen from weekday champs 'Good Morning America' and 'Today.' The surge was less significant in the targeted adults 25-54 demographic, up 15 percent from the same day last year to a 1.6 rating. ('CBS Sunday Morning' last hit a demo score that high as recently as May.)"

CBS's "Face the Nation" also saw a surge. "Up a whopping 52 percent, week to week, the Bob Schieffer broadcast brought in 4.57 million viewers for a 12-year high. (The weekly series last brought in an audience as large during its first broadcast after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2011.) Later that night, a special JFK-centric '48 Hours' beat even college football in the 9 p.m. hour. 'Meet the Press,' which has been suffering from 21-year lows on NBC, did see more modest boosts in its coverage. It grew 9 percent among total viewers to 2.23 million viewers," THR reports.

Remembrances and other programs focused on President John F. Kennedy have been airing all month, with wall-to-wall coverage of the anniversary of the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination airing today and a number of specials on tap over the weekend.

"One of the biggest investments in JFK programming came from PBS," the report notes. "The public broadcaster reports that its specials -- including episodes of 'Nova,' 'Secrets of the Dead' and 'American Experience' -- have grossed 11.7 million viewers ahead of specials from 'Frontline' and 'PBS Newshour.'"

The impact is also being felt on cable. "CNN, which has been seeing more success with documentaries than its regular lineup, topped Sunday night with 'The Assassination of President Kennedy,'" the story reports. "The special averaged 720,000 viewers and 201,000 adults 25-54 in its initial telecast. On the scripted side, 'Killing Kennedy' proved to be a ratings win for Nat Geo. The telepic brought a network record with 3.4 million viewers tuning into its Nov. 10 premiere."

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TV Hunter in Viewers' Crosshairs After Posting Pic of Herself With Her Latest Kill -- Here's the Photo

A TV hunter enraged viewers by posting a photo of herself with her latest kill after what she calls "an incredible day hunting in South Africa."

TheWrap.com reports that Melissa Bachman is now the target of a petition asking Dish Network, DirecTV and the Pursuit Channel to pull her hunting show, “Winchester Deadly Passion."

As of Friday morning, more than 76,000 people had signed the petition, which was sparked by Bachman posting a photo of herself with a mature lion she had shot in South Africa.

“Trophy hunting is despicable and counters any efforts of conservation," the petition states. "These photos represent Bachman's complete disrespect for nature and we do NOT want her influencing our children and being promoted by TV networks."

Bachman killed the lion during a guided hunt, with South Africa’s Maroi conservancy saying that she had had a lion on her “wish list” for the hunt.

“We are not apologizing for facilitating the hunt. As for all the negative commentary towards us, please consider how much you have contributed to conservation in the past 5 years,” the conservancy said in a Facebook post. “If you are not a game farmer and struggling with dying starving animals, poaching and no fences in place to protect your animals and crop, please refrain from making negative, derogatory comments.”

The National Geographic Channel dropped Bachman from “Ultimate Survival Alaska” last year after an online petition, the story notes.

Bachman wrote in a tweet accompanied by the photo below: “An incredible day hunting in South Africa! Stalked inside 60-yards on this beautiful male lion … what a hunt!

"My first Nyala in South Africa … what a beautiful place and incredible weather!! I’m loving it here …”

Among those commenting was comedian Ricky Gervais, who tweeted: "'@MelissaBachman: incredible day in South Africa! Stalked this male lion...what a hunt! pic.twitter.com/Gerc9AfmGo' spot the typo"

Here's the photo from Bachman's Twitter account:

Melissa-Bachman-twitter-lion trophy.jpg

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Fox Tweaks Prime-Time Schedule, Puts Comedy Series on Hiatus; 'Glee' Changes Nights

Fox is making significant changes to its prime-time schedule following a disappointing performance this fall for its two-hour Tuesday comedy block, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com. Among the changes, "The Mindy Project" is going on hiatus and "Glee" is changing nights.

The Tuesday comedy block will consist of just one hour starting Feb. 25, when “Glee” returns to its 8 p.m. Tuesday slot, where it performed well in the 2011-12 season, the story reports.

“Fox brass hope that the move would help the show regain some footing, which it has lost airing behind a very weak ‘The X Factor’ this fall,” Andreeva writes.

The new hourlong comedy block will include only “New Girl” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” which will take over the 9:30 time slot Feb. 4, replacing “The Mindy Project.”

“The Mindy Project” will return April 1 after “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” ends its first-year run, the story notes.

“The move comes after the sophomore comedy starring Mindy Kaling hit a new series low (1.2 in 18-49) this week. The show’s crew already has been told of the scheduling change, and ‘Mindy’ is planning a month-long production hiatus around the holidays, which the writers will use to regroup and plot the show’s April re-launch,” the piece reports.

Some changes are also in store for Fox's midseason dramas.

Andreeva writes, “Instead of premiering new legal dramedy ‘Rake’ behind the NFC Championship Game on January 19 as previously announced, Fox will launch the second season of gritty drama ‘The Following’ after the big game for a two-night season premiere on Sunday, January 19, and Monday, January 20, when the series will debut in its regular Monday 9 p.m. slot, following the season finale of ‘Sleepy Hollow.’”

The thinking is that the male-skewing “The Following” will work better with the football game than the lighter “Rake,” which stars Greg Kinnear and which will now premiere Jan. 23 in its regular Thursday 9 p.m. timeslot.

“Remaining unclear is the spring scheduling of comedy ‘Dads,’ which will air its last originals ... Tuesday February 4 and February 11 before going on hiatus to make room for ‘Glee.’ It could come back later in the season, a return date is TBD,” Andreeva notes.

Here's Fox's midseason schedule:

JANUARY 5

8-8:30 PM -- THE SIMPSONS
8:30-9 PM -- BOB’S BURGERS
9-9:30 PM -- FAMILY GUY
9:30-10 PM -- AMERICAN DAD

JANUARY 19

6-10 PM ET -- NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (Live)
10-11 PM ET/7-8 PM PT -- THE FOLLOWING (Season Premiere, Night One)

JANUARY 26

8-8:30 PM -- THE SIMPSONS
8:30-9 PM -- BOB’S BURGERS
9-9:30 PM -- FAMILY GUY
9:30-10 PM -- AMERICAN DAD

FEBRUARY 2

6-10:30 PM -- SUPER BOWL XLVIII (Live)
10:30-11 PM ET/7:30-8 PM PT -- NEW GIRL
11-11:30 PM PT/7:30-8 PM PT -- BROOKLYN NINE-NINE

FEBRUARY 9

8-8:30 PM -- THE SIMPSONS
8:30-9 PM -- BOB’S BURGERS
9-9:30 PM -- FAMILY GUY
9:30-10 PM -- AMERICAN DAD

MONDAYS

JANUARY 6

8-9 PM -- ALMOST HUMAN
9-10 PM -- SLEEPY HOLLOW

JANUARY 20

8-9 PM -- SLEEPY HOLLOW (Season Finale; Special Time)
9-10 PM -- THE FOLLOWING (Season Premiere, Night Two)

JANUARY 27

8-9 PM -- ALMOST HUMAN
9-10 PM -- THE FOLLOWING

TUESDAYS

JANUARY 7

8-8:30 PM -- DADS
8:30-9 PM -- BROOKLYN NINE-NINE
9-9:30 PM -- NEW GIRL
9:30-10 PM -- THE MINDY PROJECT

JANUARY 28

8-8:30 PM -- DADS
8:30-9 -- PM BROOKLYN NINE-NINE
9-9:30 PM -- NEW GIRL
9:30-10 PM -- THE MINDY PROJECT (Winter Finale)

FEBRUARY 4

8-8:30 PM -- DADS
8:30-9 PM -- BROOKLYN NINE-NINE (Encore)
9-9:30 PM -- NEW GIRL
9:30-10 -- PM BROOKLYN NINE-NINE (Time Period Premiere)

FEBRUARY 11

8-8:30 PM -- DADS
8:30-9 PM -- DADS
9-9:30 PM -- NEW GIRL (Encore)
9:30-10 PM -- BROOKLYN NINE-NINE (Encore)

FEBRUARY 18

8-10 PM -- AMERICAN IDOL (Special Night)

FEBRUARY 25

8-9 PM -- GLEE (Spring Premiere)
9-9:30 PM -- NEW GIRL
9:30-10 PM -- BROOKLYN NINE-NINE

MARCH 25

8-9 PM -- GLEE
9-9:30 PM -- NEW GIRL
9:30-10 PM -- BROOKLYN NINE-NINE (Season Finale)

APRIL 1

8-9 PM -- GLEE
9-9:30 PM -- THE MINDY PROJECT (Spring Premiere -- Part 1)
9:30-10 PM -- THE MINDY PROJECT (Spring Premiere -- Part 2)

APRIL 8

8-9 PM -- GLEE
9-9:30 PM -- NEW GIRL
9:30-10 PM -- THE MINDY PROJECT (Time Period Premiere)

WEDNESDAYS

JANUARY 15
8-10 PM -- AMERICAN IDOL (Season Premiere, Part One)

THURSDAYS

JANUARY 16

8-10 PM AMERICAN IDOL (Season Premiere, Part Two)

JANUARY 23

8-9 PM -- AMERICAN IDOL (Time Period Premiere)
9-10 PM -- RAKE (Series Premiere)

FRIDAYS

JANUARY 10

8-9 PM -- BONES
9-9:30 PM -- RAISING HOPE
9:30-10 PM -- ENLISTED (Series Premiere)

SATURDAYS

JANUARY 11

11 PM-Midnight -- ANIMATION DOMINATION HIGH-DEF

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Change in Store for 'American Idol'

A key change is coming for Fox's singing competition series “American Idol." The Hollywood Reporter’s Idol Worship reports that the show is bringing back musical director Rickey Minor, after he left for two years to take on leadership of NBC's "Tonight Show” band.

The change comes as Jay Leno is preparing to give up his "Tonight Show" perch to Jimmy Fallon, the story notes.

“Naturally, that means Ray Chew and his Ray Chew Live band will not be back when season 13 launches in January,” the piece notes.

Minor said he plans to “elevate our game” by using a “strong, live element and really making distinct arrangements based around the contestants. Because a great song is a great song, but make it contemporary and original, like we did with Adam Lambert and David Cook and all the artists where we helped them find their voice. That's really the key.”

rickey minor.pngRickey Minor

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Bill O'Reilly Says Sarah Palin Also Refuses to Come on His Fox News Show

Bill O’Reilly said that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who recently backed out of an appearance on NBC's "Today" show, also won’t come on his Fox News program, TVNewser reports. O'Reilly says Palin "doesn’t want to mix it up,” according to the report.

O’Reilly made the comments on his show in a segment about Palin’s cancellation on “Today” in protest of offensive remarks made by MSNBC host Martin Bashir. As previously reported, Bashir implied in a commentary that Palin deserved to have someone “shit” in her mouth, and later apologized to her.

In a segment when O’Reilly spoke with Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz, the host said, “Sarah Palin won’t do this program. She won’t come on the program because she doesn’t want to mix it up. She doesn’t! She wants to give a speech, and nobody gives speeches here. OK? So she doesn’t come on.”

O’Reilly noted that he asked Palin to appear on his program that night. “We invited her on tonight. You’re here instead,” O’Reilly told Kurtz.

bill o'reilly.jpgBill O'Reilly

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Cable Channel Developing Ambitious Ten Commandments Project

A basic cable and satellite channel is embarking on an ambitious TV project. Deadline.com reports that WGN America, working in conjunction with The Weinstein Company, has an event series in the pipeline based on the Ten Commandments.

The 10-part series will be executive produced by Bruce Cohen, the Oscar-winning producer of movies such as “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Beauty.”

Each episode will be directed by a different director, with the project aiming for A-list talent, the story says.

“This would be one of Hollywood’s highest-profile takes on one of the most studied and sacred texts in Christianity and Judaism since the 1956 movie directed by Cecil B. DeMille starring Charlton Heston as Moses,” the piece notes.

News of the project comes after History scored in the ratings with its miniseries “The Bible,” underscoring the popularity of religious-themed programming.

WGN America has already ordered two original scripted series, "Salem" and "Manhattan," the report notes.

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'Hawaii Five-0' Elevates Actor to Series Regular

CBS’s “Hawaii Five-0” is promoting an actor to series regular after he has appeared on the drama series in a guest role. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the show is giving Chi McBride's character a bump.

McBride portrays Capt. Lou Grover, a character who was introduced in September’s fourth-season premiere. McBride started out as a guest star, portraying a SWAT team leader who has relocated to Oahu from Chicago.

"After his first guest spot, we knew we had something special here with Chi playing Captain Lou Grover," exec producer Peter Lenkov said.

The promotion comes after McBride was scheduled to voice a role on the Fox animated project “Murder Police,” but that show was canceled before its premiere, the piece adds.

chi mcbride.jpgChi McBride

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Charter Closing In on Time Warner Cable Bid as a Possible 'Fresh Wave of Consolidation' Looms

Charter Communications is lining up an agreement with banks to borrow money to make an offer for Time Warner Cable, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Charter has held talks with Bank of America, Barclays and Deutsche Bank about “a multi-billion dollar debt package that would underpin an offer for Time Warner Cable, which has a market capitalization of nearly $35 billion,” the story reports.

The piece adds: “Another possible source of cash for a bid, according to people familiar with the matter: sovereign wealth funds and wealthy individuals. Arranging equity commitments from such parties could allow Charter to increase the cash component of the deal without taking on too much debt.”

The piece notes that there’s no guarantee a bid will emerge, and the timing isn’t clear.

“A merger of Time Warner Cable and Charter could spark a fresh wave of consolidation in the cable-TV industry, which has been steadily losing television subscribers to satellite operators and phone companies and faces new threats from online video,” the report notes.

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FX's 'The Strain' Looks to 'Game of Thrones' to Supply Newest Cast Member

FX’s drama series “The Strain” is recasting the role of Professor Abraham Setrakian and has looked to the cast of “Game of Thrones” to fill the position, reports TheWrap.com.

David Bradley, who plays Walder Frey on HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” has been tapped for the role, the story says. “The Strain” is based on books by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, and tracks Dr. Ephraim Goodweather as he battles a mysterious strain of vampirism.

Setrakian is a Holocaust survivor who runs a pawn shop in Manhattan’s Spanish Harlem. The role was originally slated to be played by John Hurt, the piece notes.

david bradley.pngDavid Bradley

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MTV Dedicates a Day to Miley Cyrus

MTV wants more of Miley Cyrus, and is programming eight hours of shows dedicated to the singer in celebration of her 21st birthday, reports EW.com’s Inside TV.

Cyrus made headlines with her VMAs performance in August on MTV, in which she twerked and used a foam hand in ways that some viewers found offensive.

EW.com reports: “The half-hour program will feature Cyrus reflecting on her career as well as a look back at some of her milestone music videos and performances, including Miley’s best MTV moments (hmmm … I wonder what those will be). MTV will then air a deluxe edition of ‘Miley: The Movement’ with new commentary from the singer before the birthday girl introduces and hosts episodes of her favorite MTV shows ‘Awkward’ and ‘Snooki and JWOWW.’ The day ends with a repeat of the ’21 Candles’ special at 7:30 p.m. ET.”

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Miley-Cyrus-2012.jpgMiley Cyrus

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Syfy Moves Forward With Haunted House Drama

“Chuck” co-creator and showrunner Chris Fedak is working on a haunted house drama for Syfy, which is called “The Woods,” The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

The drama is about a young woman who returns to a mansion in the woods where her sister disappeared when they were children, the story notes.

Fedak is executive producing with Liz Phang of “90210,” with Phang also writing the script.

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In-Air Cellphone Calls on Flights Poised to Gain FCC Approval. Could Policy Cause an 'Air Rage' Problem?

"Rules against making cellphone calls during airline flights are 'outdated,' and it's time to change them, federal regulators said Thursday, drawing immediate howls of protest from flight attendants, airline officials and others," reports the Associated Press..

The story continues: "Tom Wheeler, the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said in a statement Thursday that the commission was proposing greater in-flight access to mobile broadband. The proposal will be considered at the commission's Dec. 12 meeting."

Not everyone is for the idea, though, the article notes: "'Passengers overwhelmingly reject cellphone use in the aircraft cabin. The FCC should not proceed with this proposal,' the Association of Flight Attendants said in a statement in response to the FCC chairman's comments."

The article quotes Henry H. Harteveldt, a travel analyst with Hudson Crossing, saying: "There are bad ideas, and then there's this. Unlike the ability to use their personal electronics and Wi-Fi from gate to gate, passengers don't want this."

Harteveldt adds: "The constant chatter of passengers on their mobile phones has the potential to further increase tension among already stressed-out passengers. It will be a catalyst for increased cases of 'air rage.'"

JetBlue spokesman Morgan Johnston is quoted saying in an email: "Our customer feedback indicates people may not want that policy, but of course tastes and desires change. We would prioritize making the cabin comfortable and welcoming for all -- for those who want cell service and for those who like peace and quiet."

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Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng Finalize Their Divorce

The question on a lot of people's minds as word comes today that Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng have finalized their divorce is: Who gets the business? The answer: We don't know.

However, it appears unlikely that any real power will change hands.

"No terms of the settlement were released," ABC News reports, adding: "The couple have been married 14 years, and have two young daughters. The divorce is the third for Murdoch, 82, who has four adult children from his previous marriages."

The couple appeared today in a courtroom in Manhattan to declare that they have arrived at a settlement. They said in a joint statement: "We are pleased to announce that we have reached an amicable settlement of all matters relating to our divorce. We move forward with mutual respect and a shared interest in the health and happiness of our two daughters. We will not comment on this any further."

The choice of New York for the filing is no accident. ABC News quotes Michael Stutman, president of the New York chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, saying the state is a favorite location for prominent couples to divorce.

Said Stutman: "It's favored not only for the deference it gives to prenuptial agreements, but also because it's one of only a few states where the divorce filings are not open to the public. You can't go to the county clerk's office and pull out the Murdoch divorce file. In California, it's all public record. All the juicy stuff is there."

Stutman added that in New York, whatever is in the prenup agreement tends to hold up. "I'm not sure there would have been fertile ground for any real disagreement," he said. "The prenup tends to rule the day. That's likely why he filed here."

ABC News adds: "Forbes estimates the Murdoch family's wealth to be $13.4 billion. According to The Wall Street Journal (which Murdoch owns), the divorce will not have any effect on succession plans for the two businesses the family controls through a family trust: News Corp. and 21st Century Fox."

The report also notes: "The Journal says that Murdoch had not just one prenup but two -- plus two postnups. The fact that these agreements are in place, says the paper, means that Murdoch's divorce from Deng, 44, should be less costly for him than the $1.7 billion he reportedly had to pay second wife Anna Torv."

rupert murdoch-wendi deng.jpgRupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng

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How an NBC Late-Night Program Topped Everything in Prime Time

NBC is touting the ratings results for a late-night show, noting that the program beat everything on broadcast prime on Saturday night, Nov. 16. The program is “Saturday Night Live,” which got a sizable bump from host and musical guest Lady Gaga.

The broadcast delivered the highest “SNL” household rating since March 9 and the show’s best results in the key demo of viewers 18-49 and in total viewers since Oct. 5, the network said.

"Last week’s episode earned a 2.4 rating, 10 share in adults 18-49, 6.5 million viewers overall and a 4.3 rating in households," NBC announced. "Those results were #1 for the night on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, besting every Saturday prime-time program on the Big 4 networks in all three categories."

The network added: "It was the highest 'SNL' rating in households since March 9 (with a 5.2 for an edition hosted by Justin Timberlake, who was also musical guest). The Nov. 16 averages in 18-49 and total viewers are the show’s highest since Oct. 5 (with host and musical guest Miley Cyrus, 2.7/12 in 18-49, 6.7 million viewers overall)."

The figures are based on Nielsen Media Research “live plus same day” national viewing data.

lady gaga on snl.pngLady Gaga on "SNL"

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One of ABC's Strongest Series Hits a Season Low

An ABC series that has been a strong ratings performer for the network took a ratings hit Wednesday night, sinking to a season low, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. But TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the show, "Modern Family," still came in as the top show of the night in broadcast prime.

"Modern Family" lost a half-point in the 18-49 demo from a week ago, settling for a 3.3 average as ABC wound up second overall to CBS for prime time. Most of ABC's other programming also lost ground: "The Middle" fell two-tenths to a 2.2, equaling its season low; "Back in the Game" dipped two-tenths to a 1.6, hitting a series low; and "Super Fun Night" slipped one-tenth to a 1.9.

Bucking the trend on ABC was "Nashville," which inched up one-tenth from a week ago to a 1.6 in viewers 18-49.

CBS was comfortably ahead in the 18-49 demo, led by "Criminal Minds" with a 2.8 average -- up one-tenth from a week ago. "CSI" rose two-tenths to a 2.1, equaling its season high, while "Survivor" slipped one-tenth to a 2.4.

Third-place Fox saw its two-hour "X Factor" deliver a 1.6 average in 18-49, off one-tenth from the previous week.

NBC finished off the pace of its big four competitors, with "Revolution" drifting down one-tenth from last week to a 1.4 average in the 18-49 demo, while "Law & Order: SVU" and "Dateline" both held steady to last week's numbers: a1.6 for "SVU" and a 1.1 for "Dateline."

For prime time overall, CBS led the way with a 2.4 average in adults 18-49, followed by ABC (2.0 average), Fox (1.6), Univision (1.5) and NBC (1.3). CBS was well ahead in total viewers, averaging 11.1 million to lead ABC (6.9 million), Fox (5.5 million), NBC (5.3 million) and Univision (3.8 million).

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Former 'SNL' Regular -- Who Now Has His Own Full-Time TV Job -- Will Return to Host the Show

NBC has announced a lineup of guest hosts for December for "Saturday Night Live," and one of the guests is a former regular on the show who has gone on to big things on the network. EW.com reports that Jimmy Fallon is set to guest host the special Christmas edition of "SNL" on Dec. 21.

Fallon is now the host of NBC's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," and has been anointed to take over "The Tonight Show" starting Feb. 17, after Jay Leno departs.

Fallon's "SNL" appearance will reunite him with one of his frequent collaborators, as Justin Timberlake is on board in the musical slot that night.

NBC also announced the return of two stalwarts to guest-hosting roles, with Paul Rudd slated for Dec. 7 and John Goodman lined up for Dec. 14. For Rudd, who stars in "Anchorman 2," it will be his third time as guest host. The musical guest that night will be One Direction.

"Rudd last appeared on 'SNL' in 2010, hosting with musical guest Paul McCartney; the British boy band first appeared on 'SNL' in 2012. Their next album, 'Midnight Memories,' drops Nov. 25," the report notes.

Goodman is one of "SNL's" most frequent guest hosts, having already hosted the show 12 times -- the last time being in 2001. The musical guest for his Dec. 14 show will be Kings of Leon, in the group's third appearance on "SNL."

The report adds: "Goodman currently stars on 'Alpha House,' Amazon’s first scripted series. The Kings’ latest album, 'Mechanical Bull,' was released Sept. 24."

As for Fallon, the story notes: "Though he has hosted 'SNL' only once before (in 2011), he’s made several cameo appearances since leaving the show in 2004. Timberlake, meanwhile, will make his fifth appearance as musical guest -- and his second in 2013 alone. Both he and Fallon have won the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for hosting 'SNL' in the past."

jimmy fallon.pngJimmy Fallon

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$335 Million TV Station Acquisition Has 15 Stations Changing Hands

A television station sale has been agreed to that will result in 15 stations and $335 million changing hands. B&C reports that Gray Television and Excalibur Broadcasting agreed to acquire the stations from Hoak Media and Parker Broadcasting.

"Separately, Excalibur has agreed to acquire two Fox-affiliated television stations in one of the markets, Minot, N.D., served by Hoak from Prime Cities Broadcasting for $7.5 million," the report adds.

Gray President and CEO Hilton Howell said: "We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring the Hoak, Parker and Prime Cities television stations into the Gray community. These transactions will yield impressive synergies, many of which are unique to Gray given how well the stations' locations, operations and culture complement our own."

The deal affects smaller markets, in the No. 105 to No. 108 range.

"Stations moving to Gray include KSFY-KABY-KPRY Sioux Falls, KVLY Fargo, WMBB Panama City (Fla.) and KALB Alexandria (La.). Due to regulatory requirements, Gray will sell Hoak's stations in the Panama City and Grand Junction markets to one or more independent parties," the story reports.

The piece adds: "Excalibur, run by former Gray exec Don Ray, has reached separate definitive agreements with Hoak and Parker to acquire KHAS Lincoln (Neb.), KXJB Fargo, KAQY Monroe-El Dorado (La.) and KFQX Grand Junction (Colo.). Due to regulatory requirements, Excalibur will sell Parker's television station in the Grand Junction market to an independent third party."

"Excalibur has also reached a definitive agreement with Prime Cities to acquire KNDX and satellite KXND in Minot-Bismarck-Dickinson (N.D.)," the report notes.

Said Eric Van den Branden, Hoak Media president and CEO: "Our cultures and operating philosophies are very similar, and we share a strong commitment to local news excellence and a deep sense of service to the communities in which our stations are located. We will clearly miss working with some of the most talented and dedicated people in broadcasting, but we know we leave our employees in capable hands with Gray Television."

The agreements are subject to regulatory approval, which is expected in the first or second quarter of 2014, the report notes.

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Sarah Palin Backs Out of 'Today' Appearance Over MSNBC Host's Comments

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has canceled an interview on NBC’s “Today,” following offensive remarks about her and an apology by MSNBC host Martin Bashir, reports TheWrap.com.

“Today” co-host Matt Lauer was slated to visit Palin’s Alaska home for a holiday-themed interview. NBC News and Palin didn’t return requests for comment, the story says.

Palin is “mighty steamed” at MSNBC and Bashir over his remarks, according to Howard Kurtz at Fox News.

As previously reported, Bashir implied in a commentary that Palin deserved to have someone "shit" in her mouth, and later apologized to her, her family, supporters and “anyone who may have heard what I said.”

Thumbnail image for sarah-palin.jpgSarah Palin

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TV's Longest-Tenured NFL Analyst Announces Retirement

A Pro Football Hall of Famer who is the longest-tenured NFL analyst in television has announced his retirement. CBS Sports reports that Dan Dierdorf, 64, will step away from the game after the current season.

“After a 13-year career as an offensive lineman with the St. Louis Cardinals, Dierdorf stepped into the booth and has been there for the last 30 years,” the story reports.

It adds, “Dierdorf was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996 and is the recipient of the 2008 HOF Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award for excellence in broadcasting. Dierdorf, John Madden, Frank Gifford and Len Dawson are the only Hall of Fame members to also receive the Rozelle award.”

Dierdorf, who started his broadcasting career in 1984, said he was “blessed” to spend his life dedicated to football.

“It has become a challenge for me to travel to a different NFL city every week, so it's time to step aside. This has been a wonderful ride as I really have lived the dream,” he said.

dan dierdorf.pngDan Dierdorf

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McDonald's Pulls a Popular Item From the National Menu

McDonald's has scrapped plans to make a popular menu item available nationally this year. USA Today reports that the fast-food giant won't do what it has done the past three years, when it put the popular McRib on the menu nationally to help pump up sales during the second half of the year.

"The fast-food chain says it's leaving it up to local franchise groups to decide whether to offer the pork sandwich, which comes with pickles, onions and barbecue sauce," the story reports. "Now the company is going back to the days when the sandwich was a regional offering. The lack of widespread availability in years past in some regions helped give the sandwich a fabled status, with one fan even creating a McRib Locator to help people find the sandwich. The sandwich's status in pop culture is also fueled by its patty, which is shaped to look as though there are bones inside."

The company has had difficulty juggling new menu items, the report notes. "Tyler Litchenberger, a McDonald's spokeswoman, said the company had 'other national priorities' this year, such as its new Mighty Wings. She said franchises that decided to sell the McRib have had it for the past couple of weeks," USA Today reports.

The spokeswoman did not provide details on the number of markets where the McRib is available.

"McDonald's, based in Oak Brook, Ill., has been stepping up its pace of limited-time offers and new menu introductions over the past year," the story notes. "The strategy is seen as a way to keep customers interested amid intensifying competition. But Jeff Stratton, head of McDonald's U.S. business, conceded last week that the pace has been too fast and created operational issues for restaurants."

Sales at U.S. McDonald's restaurants that have been open for at least a year rose just 0.7% in the most recent quarter, the report notes, adding: "The company has been struggling to boost sales since late last year, when a key monthly sales figure fell for the first time in nearly a decade."

McDonald's McRib.jpg

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Well-Known TV Psychic Dies

A well-known psychic who made appearances on a number of television shows over the years has died. CNN reports that Sylvia Browne, who appeared on “Loveline with Dr. Drew,” “Unsolved Mysteries” and other shows, died at 77.

“A believer in reincarnation as well as God, Browne conducted thousands of hypnotic regressions and hundreds of trance sessions to help people around the world, according to her official biography. She explained on CNN's 'Larry King Live' that she both communicated with the dead and looked into the future.”

"I don't know how I do it," Browne said on King’s show. "I've done it all my life."

Browne became aware of her abilities when she was 3 years old, according to her official biography. She told King it was a “very scary thing” when she realized she could foretell if someone would die.

Browne also had detractors, including people who were critical of her telling the mother of then-missing Amanda Berry that she would see her daughter “in heaven, on the other side” during a 2004 episode of “The Montel Williams Show.” Berry was still alive, and was rescued in May after being held against her will in the Cleveland home of Ariel Castro, the story notes.

On her website, Browne posted an admission that she had been wrong. “If ever there was a time to be grateful and relieved for being mistaken, this is that time. Only God is right all the time,” she wrote in the statement.

sylvia browne.jpgSylvia Browne

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New HBO Series to Star Actor Who Last Played the Same Character 15 Years Ago in an HBO Movie

A well-known actor is set to bring back a character he last played 15 years ago in an HBO movie, and this time the project is an HBO drama series.

The actor is Laurence Fishburne. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Fishburne may reprise his role as Socrates Fortlow, an ex-con featured in a series of novels by Walter Mosley.

HBO is developing the project as a drama series, "The Right Mistake," with Fishburne and Mosley executive producing along with Helen Sugland, Tom Russo and Diane Houslin.

Fishburne appeared as Fortlow about 15 years ago in the HBO telepic “Always Outnumbered,” written by Mosley and directed by Michael Apted.

Now, the actor’s Cinema Gypsy Productions and Fox Television Studios are working on the series adaptation, based on a number of Mosley’s novels featuring the character, the story says.

Fishburne is currently appearing in NBC’s “Hannibal.”

laurence-fishburne.jpgLaurence Fishburne

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Leah Remini Joins Cable Series

Actress Leah Remini, who has been in the news recently after her high-profile break with Scientology, has been cast in a multi-episode arc on TV Land’s “The Exes,” reports Deadline.com.

The former “King of Queens” star will play Nicki, Stuart’s sister. After finding out her husband has been having an affair, she moves to Manhattan, where her brother is sharing an apartment with two other men and is living next door to his divorce attorney, played by Kristen Johnston.

The casting marks Remini’s return to multicamera sitcoms since “The King of Queens” went off the air six years ago, the piece notes. She has since appeared on the single-camera comedy “Family Tools” and recently competed on “Dancing with the Stars.”

leah-remini2.jpgLeah Remini

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Report: Chris Brown, After Reportedly Flying Into a 'Violent Rage,' Ordered Into Treatment for Anger Management

Singer Chris Brown has been ordered to rehab for anger management, after he broke into a reported “violent rage” and was thrown out of a Malibu rehab facility, reports TMZ.com.

According to a separate TMZ story, Brown was kicked out of the rehab facility after he allegedly threw a rock through his mother’s car window.

“According to the report, Chris' mom showed up for a family session and was urging her son to stay in the facility for extended treatment. Apparently, Chris violently disagreed with her and in a fit of anger threw a rock through her car window, shattering it,” the story reports.

The earlier story notes that the Probation Department recommended the singer receive live-in anger management rehab. “The judge agreed with Probation, and ordered Brown to check into a facility for 90 days, and the facility must be in L.A. County and approved by Probation,” the earlier story notes.

The judge wants a report on an incident in Washington, D.C., where Brown allegedly assaulted another man, the story says. That “could result in Chris getting his probation yanked in the Rihanna case ... which could then result in prison time,” the piece adds.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for chris brown.pngChris Brown

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Hulu Renews Original Series for Second Season

Streaming-video service Hulu has renewed an original series for a second season. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the service will bring back “Behind the Mask.”

The show, whose current season ends Dec. 17, looks at the lives of the people who portray the mascots for sports teams at the high school, college and professional levels, the piece reports. The show is from filmmaker Josh Greenbaum.

“Josh’s perceptive and empathetic storytelling is insightful and entertaining. He turns the mascots into everyday superheroes who we can all relate to and root for,” said Hulu Originals head of development Charlotte Koh.

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Starz Unfurls Plans for Pirate Drama From 'Transformers' Director

Starz has taken the wraps off its plans for a new pirate drama series from the director of the "Transformers" movies. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that the pay-cable channel will debut “Black Sails,” from executive producer Michael Bay, Jan. 25.

The drama, a prequel to “Treasure Island,” stars Toby Stephens at Captain Flint, who takes on a young sailor named John Silver, played by Luke Arnold. The show is set two decades before the classic Robert Louis Stevenson novel, and tracks the pirates’ efforts to keep their home, New Providence Island.

Starz is already moving forward with a second season, with production starting this month in South Africa, the piece adds.

Besides the "Transformers" film series, Bay is known for directing and producing "Armageddon," "Pearl Harbor" and other major films.

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All Four 'America's Got Talent' Judges to Return

After news broke that Howard Stern will return to the judges’ table on “America’s Got Talent,” NBC said all four of the judges will be returning to the summer program, The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

Nick Cannon has also agreed to return as host, the piece notes. The four judges are Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel.

"Howard, Heidi, Mel and Howie have proven that they are a dynamic quartet of judges who aren’t afraid to share their opinions, while at the same time creating fireworks of their own," Paul Telegdy, president of alternative and late-night programming at NBC Entertainment, said.

The show was the top summer reality series this year, with the number of total viewers up 6% from the previous year, the piece adds.

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'Private Practice' EP to Run New ABC Project

Barbie Kligman, a former executive producer of “Private Practice,” has joined ABC’s project “Secrets & Lies” as writer, executive producer and showrunner, reports Deadline.com.

The show, which is an adaptation of an Australian crime drama, has a 10-episode commitment from ABC and is looking at casting options, the story says. The original Australian show, which is set to debut in that country next year, is about a father who finds the body of a young boy and falls under suspicion.

ABC gave the new project a straight-to-series order last month, as we reported previously.

barbie kligman.pngBarbie Kligman

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Vampires From Space Set for TV Series, Video Game, Graphic Novel and More

A studio has bought the rights to a 1976 novel about vampires from space, which is set to be adapted for television. Deadline.com reports that Ringleader Studios obtained the rights to "The Space Vampires," by British author Colin Wilson.

The novel has previously been adapted as a movie -- the 1985 film “Lifeforce,” which starred Patrick Stewart, Steve Railsback and Mathilda May.

“Ringleader is plotting a small-screen episodic series, also titled ‘Lifeforce,’ as well as a graphic novel, video game, and additional media tie-ins," the story reports. "Plot follows a group of astronauts who discover a derelict spaceship and return to Earth with three humanoid aliens that unleash a life-sucking plague upon humanity."

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Non-TV Story of the Day: Ancient Humans Had Sex With Mystery Species, New DNA Study Shows

The headline blaring from the website of The Huffington Post (based on a story in Nature News) reads: "Ancient Humans Had Sex With Mystery Species, New DNA Study Shows."

The article says: "The ancient genomes, one from a Neanderthal and one from a different archaic human group, the Denisovans, were presented on 18 November at a meeting at the Royal Society in London. They suggest that interbreeding went on between the members of several ancient human-like groups living in Europe and Asia more than 30,000 years ago, including an as-yet unknown human ancestor from Asia.

“What it begins to suggest is that we’re looking at a ‘Lord of the Rings’-type world -- that there were many hominid populations,” says Mark Thomas, an evolutionary geneticist at University College London who was at the meeting but was not involved in the work."

The article cites David Reich, an evolutionary geneticist at Harvard Medical School in Boston who was also at the London meeting, saying the new genomes indicate that Denisovans interbred with another extinct population of archaic humans, neither human nor Neanderthal, that lived in Asia more than 30,000 years ago.

The story continues: "The meeting was abuzz with conjecture about the identity of this potentially new population of humans. 'We don’t have the faintest idea,' says Chris Stringer, a paleoanthropologist at the London Natural History Museum, who was not involved in the work. He speculates that the population could be related to Homo heidelbergensis, a species that left Africa around half a million years ago and later gave rise to Neanderthals in Europe. 'Perhaps it lived on in Asia as well,' Stringer says."

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Barry Diller, Once a Top Executive at ABC and Fox, Says if He Were Still a Traditional Broadcaster He'd Sue TV Business Disrupter Aereo as the Broadcasters Are Doing. The Irony: Diller Is the Primary Backer of Aereo

If Barry Diller were "still a broadcast executive and encountered competitors like Aereo, 'I’d sue ’em,' he said," reports Bloomberg Businessweek.

Diller was at one time a top executive at ABC and later Fox Broadcasting. The irony is that, besides owning Expedia, he is the chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp, which is the primary backer of Aereo.

Aereo uses micro-antennae and says it doesn't have to pay to retransmit broadcast signals to Aereo subscribers. Aereo has been sued by a number of broadcasters, and so far Aereo is winning in the courts.

The Businessweek article also notes: "Billionaire Diller, the backer of Aereo Inc., said the online-television service may eventually get as much as 35 percent of U.S. households to subscribe if it overcomes legal challenges from broadcasters.

"People in their mid- to late 20s aren’t willing to pay $100 a month for cable-TV packages, making Aereo’s $8 service increasingly attractive, Diller said [yesterday, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013] at The Year Ahead: 2014, a two-day conference hosted by Bloomberg LP in Chicago."

barry diller.jpgBarry Diller

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700 Jobs to Be Cut as Media Company Restructures

A major media corporation that owns television, radio and newspaper operations has announced a restructuring that will result in job cuts, primarily in the company's newspaper unit. The Los Angeles Times reports that Tribune Co., which owns the Times, unveiled the plan today.

The restructuring will include a 6% staff reduction, resulting in the loss of almost 700 jobs during the next year, the report notes.

The cuts "will largely involve operations personnel rather than reporters and editors at its eight daily papers, Peter Liguori, Tribune’s chief executive, said in an interview," the Times reports. "The restructuring is intended to help Tribune withstand the ongoing decline in print advertising, which traditionally has been the lifeblood of the newspaper industry."

Said Liguori: “Over time, there will be some small reductions in editorial staff, but the majority of these reductions are going to come from non-reader-facing functions. It’s never easy to let go of our colleagues, especially in Tribune, where people have made real significant contributions. But it is critical that we recognize what is going on secularly and we position the business for the best future we can.”

Liguori said the newspapers are profitable, adding that the latest move is “not by any means a Hail Mary pass."

The Times adds: "In the reorganization, functions that are now managed by individual papers, such as advertising and circulation, will be consolidated into single units across the company."

A number of promotions were announced to put people in place to run the consolidated operations.

"Bill Adee will oversee the publishing division's digital operations. Bob Fleck, currently a senior vice president of advertising at the Chicago Tribune, will become executive vice president of advertising for the newspaper unit," the story reports.

The report adds: "Bill Nagel, currently executive vice president of business services at The Times, will have the new role of executive vice president of marketing for the publishing unit. He will oversee all consumer marketing and circulation operations, as well as brand marketing, market research and events management."

Even with newspaper advertising sales eroding, Tribune reported a third-quarter profit of almost $50 million, the report notes, attributing the result largely to cost cutting.

"The company aggressively cut costs, with operating expenses dropping $47 million, or 7%, to $626 million," the piece reports. "The newspaper division slashed $61 million while costs rose in other parts of the company."

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Jean-Claude Van Damme's 'Epic Split' Volvo Truck Spot Becomes a Cottage Industry (Here's the Video to Prove It, with Wildly Popular Parodies Starring Channin Tatum and...Toronto Mayor Rob Ford!!)

Have you seen the new spot for Volvo trucks featuring action star Jean-Claude Van Damme doing what's being billed as an "epic split" to demonstrate the precision of the company's trucks? Posted about a week ago, the video clip -- which can be seen below -- has already racked up more than 36 million hits on YouTube.

And it has already inspired a number of noteworthy parodies, two of which also appear below. In the first, which surfaced a few days after the original clip, embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford replaces Van Damme. In the final clip below, posted just yesterday, actor Channing Tatum offers his own take on the stunt.

Here's the original Volvo spot with Jean-Claude Van Damme:

The Rob Ford version:

... and Channing Tatum's treatment:

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Flight Attendant Accused of Hiding Rats in Her Underwear Sues Jay Leno Over 'Tonight Show' Jokes

A flight attendant has filed a lawsuit against Jay Leno over jokes that were made about her on NBC's "Tonight Show," The Huffington Post reports.

The woman says she was wrongly accused of "using her underwear and pantyhose to carry pet rats aboard airplanes," the story reports.

"The former American Airlines flight attendant, 55-year-old Louann Giambattista, accuses Leno and three other comedians of having made 'sickening, outrageous and disgusting attacks' in a July 2013 segment titled 'Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda,'" the story reports, adding: "A copy of the suit, obtained by Courthouse News, takes specific issue with humorous statements made on Leno's show that accuse her of 'engaging in bestiality and sexual misconduct with a rat.'"

The report quotes the following three jokes made by comedians who were guests on the show:

Alec Mapa: "If I were one of those rats, I would be really upset. I prefer not to sit in cooch."

Kira Soltanovich (reportedly referring to a popular brand of vibrator): "A filthy rodent like a rat does not belong on an airplane. She could have used what the rest of us ladies use -- a rabbit."

Jim Norton: "I don't understand this one at all. If she wanted something that creepy-looking in her underwear she should have hooked up with me."

Giambattista has also reportedly sued American Airlines, alleging a "relentless campaign of discrimination."

The Huffington Post report adds: "The suit further alleges that Giambattista's sex life with her husband has also been harmed by the Leno segment: 'Every time he looks at her he thinks of defendant Leno and the heinous segment depicting her as a sexual deviant.'"

louann giambattista.jpgLouann Giambattista

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CBS Wins Tuesday as Two NBC Series Sink to Ratings Lows

CBS won a close three-way battle for the top spot in Tuesday night's broadcast ratings as one NBC series fell to a season low and another set an all-time low mark, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that CBS came out just ahead of NBC and ABC, which tied for second place. NBC's "Chicago Fire" lost three-tenths of a ratings point from last week to settle for a 1.9 average in viewers 18-49, the drama series' season low.

NBC's one-hour "The Voice" was the top show on broadcast Tuesday night with a 3.1 average in 18-49, but that number represents a new low for a fall Tuesday installment of the singing competition. Meanwhile, "The Biggest Loser" matched the 1.8 turned in by last week's show.

CBS had consistent performances from its drama lineup. "NCIS" and "Person of Interest" equaled last week's numbers in the 18-49 demo -- a 3.0 for "NCIS" and a 2.0 for "Person of Interest" -- while "NCIS: Los Angeles" ticked up one-tenth to a 2.5.

ABC got its best number out of its special "David Blaine: Real or Magic," with the 90-minute program delivering a 2.5 average in viewers 18-49. "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." inched up one-tenth from last week's all-time low to a 2.3, while "The Goldbergs" drifted down one-tenth to a 1.6.

Fox's Tuesday comedy lineup remained mostly at or near historic lows. "Dads" ticked up one-tenth from last week's series low to a 1.3; "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" also gained one-tenth from last week's series low, to a 1.5; "New Girl" equaled last week's series low, a 1.7; and "The Mindy Project" dipped two-tenths to a season-low 1.2.

When the dust settled, CBS had a winning 2.5 average in adults 18-49 for prime time overall, ahead of NBC and ABC (both at 2.3), Univision (1.5) and Fox (1.4). CBS was comfortably ahead in total viewers with 15.5 million, topping NBC (8.3 million), ABC (6.9 million), Univision (3.7 million) and Fox (3.1 million).

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'Breaking Bad' Actor Headed to Big Screen With Slavery Project

One of the stars of the acclaimed drama series "Breaking Bad" has lined up a project that he will direct for the big screen. Deadline.com reports that Giancarlo Esposito, who received an Emmy nomination for his performance as Gus Fring on the AMC series, is working on the slavery-themed historical drama "Patriotic Treason."

Ed Harris, who has four Oscar nominations under his belt -- including "Pollock" and "The Truman Show" -- is set to star as abolitionist John Brown.

"Adapted by Oscar nominee Jose Rivera ('Motorcycle Diaries,' 'On The Road) from Evan Carton’s 2006 book 'Patriotic Treason: John Brown and the Soul of America,' the film centers on the controversial figure known for his 1859 raid on Harper’s Ferry," the story reports. "Brown hoped the attack would ignite a slave uprising. Instead it left 11 dead and led to Brown’s capture, after which he was found guilty of treason and hanged. Political enemies considered Brown a madman and a terrorist, but the notoriety of his violent attacks [is] credited with sparking the Civil War."

Esposito, who is set to play freed slave and orator Frederick Douglass in the project, said: “John Brown was the lightning rod of his place and time, but, to me, his story is just as electric in our world today, where controversies about race, religion, patriotism, and the use of violence for democratic ends are as intense as they were then.”

The report adds: "Spectrum Films’ Keith Sweitzer studied the life of John Brown at the University of Texas under professor Carton, and helped develop the 'Patriotic Treason' book deal. He and Esposito will produce with Act 4′s Jesse Singer & David Johnson, who are eyeing an early summer shoot."

Esposito made his directorial debut with the 2008 film "Gospel Hill," the piece notes.

giancarlo esposito-breaking bad.jpgGiancarlo Esposito

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USA Cancels Drama Series

The USA Network has pulled the plug on a drama series after it failed to match the ratings success of its freshman season. Going away after three seasons on the cable network is “Necessary Roughness,” The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

The series often featured timely stories about the sports world, including story lines about athletes coming out as gay, the story notes. The past season featured a story line about doping in pro sports, the piece adds.

In a statement, the network said: “We are proud of this show and its writers, which had a unique ability to address topical subjects before they unfolded in real life on the sports pages."

The report adds: “‘Necessary Roughness’ got off to a promising start during summer 2011, but the show never came close to matching its freshman ratings. Its third and final season performed relatively close to the second season, opening to 2.6 million viewers and wrapping in August to 2.36 million. In live-plus-same day showings, the series generally pulled a 0.6 rating with adults 18-49.”

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Who's No. 1 on Forbes' New List of the Highest-Paid Musicians? Gaga, Bieber and Beyonce Are All in the Top 10 -- But a Veteran Topped Them All

Forbes magazine has published its list of the highest-paid people in music for 2013, and while relative newcomers such as Justin Bieber, Beyonce and Lady Gaga are all ranked high on the list, an industry veteran tops them all.

That veteran is Madonna, who comes in at No. 1 in the rankings, based on income from concert ticket sales, recorded-music royalties, publishing, merchandise sales, endorsements and other business ventures from June 1, 2012, to June 1, 2013. Madonna pulled in $125 million during that period, according to Forbes.

"The bulk of Madge’s millions came from the tail end of her MDNA Tour, which grossed $305 million. She augments her income with heady merchandise sales at concerts, as well as her Material Girl clothing line and Truth or Dare fragrance," Forbes reports.

No. 2 on the list is Madonna rival Lady Gaga, at $80 million. "Lady Gaga and Madonna have a superstar rivalry made in gossip-blog heaven," Forbes reports. "The former burst onto the scene five years ago with a provocative pop sensibility reminiscent of the latter’s. Last year, Madonna accused Gaga of ripping off one of her songs; this year, the 'Born This Way' singer insisted she doesn’t want the Material Girl’s throne."

Gaga "grossed over $160 million on her latest tour before succumbing to a hip injury," Forbes notes. "Had she been able to finish, she would have likely topped $200 million. Her 'ARTPOP' album was released after the end of our scoring period, but should give her a boost on next year’s list. She could easily reach the No. 1 spot with a successful set of concerts, the main driver for most major artists’ earnings."

Ranking third on the list is the veteran band Bon Jovi, with live performances accounting for much of its $79 million.

"Road warrior Toby Keith pulled in $65 million to land the No. 4 slot, while Coldplay parlayed seven-figure nightly grosses into a $64 million payday," Forbes reports.

Rounding out the top 10: Justin Bieber at No. 6 with $58 million; Taylor Swift at No. 7 with $55 million; Elton John at No. 8 with $54 million; and Beyonce and Kenny Chesney tied at No. 9 with $53 million apiece.

Thumbnail image for madonna.jpgMadonna

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Former Disney Star Involved in Hit-and-Run -- One Day Before Arraignment on DUI Charge

A former Disney Channel star was reportedly involved in a four-car hit-and-run crash early Tuesday. TMZ.com reports that actor Jake T. Austin, who played Max Russo on “Wizards of Waverly Place,” was involved in the incident.

The incident reportedly took place one day before Austin is scheduled to face arraignment on a DUI charge stemming from an earlier incident.

In the latest mishap, a 2010 Audi reportedly crashed into three parked cars in Sherman Oaks, Calif., around 3 a.m., with the Audi registered to Austin, the story says. Witnesses said after the driver hit the parked cars, someone inside the vehicle threw a bottle of alcohol out the window. Then the two people inside the car reportedly called a black car service to pick them up.

In a separate story, TMZ reports that Austin, 18, was the driver of the car, but because he wasn’t at the scene when police arrived, he won’t be prosecuted for drunk driving.

“But drinking aside, Austin is still in trouble for leaving the scene of an accident without providing identifying information ... which constitutes a hit-and-run. But Jake's lawyer pulled off some legal acrobatics that could get Jake off the hook,” the story says.

“We're told the lawyer called cops at 4 a.m. and told them Jake was the owner of the car. Cleverly, the lawyer did NOT disclose the fact that Jake was the driver ... so as not to violate the attorney-client privilege, especially important because leaving the scene is a crime,” the TMZ report notes.

The actor reportedly left because both of the car's occupants were injured and went to seek medical care, the story says. Austin reportedly had an injury to his mouth, and received stitches at the ER, the piece adds.

TMZ also reports that Austin was arrested last month on a DUI charge.

"Law enforcement sources tell us, Austin was arrested October 8th by the CHP after being pulled over for driving at night without headlights," the website reports. "We're told police officers smelled booze as they approached his vehicle, administered a field sobriety test and Austin did poorly."

The teenager is reportedly scheduled for arraignment today on the DUI.

Austin is currently one of the stars of the ABC Family series "The Fosters."

jake t austin.jpgJake T. Austin

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Bill Murray Returns to TV

Former "Saturday Night Live" star Bill Murray, who has mainly been seen in feature films in recent years, will return to television for a role in the HBO miniseries “Olive Kitteridge,” Deadline.com reports.

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Elizabeth Strout, the adaptation will feature Murray as Jack Kennison, a widower who is befriended by the title character. Kitteridge, who is played by Frances McDormand, is an abrasive high school math teacher in small-town Maine, where the locals deal with tragedy, affairs and and crime.

Murray recently wrapped three movies, Ted Melfi's “St. Vincent De Van Nuys"; “Monuments Men,” directed by George Clooney; and Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” the story says.

bill murray.jpgBill Murray

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'America's Got Talent' Re-Ups Judge

“America’s Got Talent” will bring back one of its celebrity judges for another stint on the NBC talent show. Deadline.com reports that the show has signed Howard Stern for a third season.

The shock jock is set to return to the judges’ table next summer, the story reports.

Stern broke the news on his SiriusXM radio show, saying, “It started out as a goof. Now it’s becoming a job.” Stern was hired to replace Piers Morgan in 2011, and the production moved to New York City from Los Angeles to accommodate Stern.

Even though he praised NBC for being flexible about his desire to remain in New York and limit his travel, he told listeners that it wasn't an easy decision whether to return to the show.

“I really, really did struggle with this decision because I’ve been working a long time. I really wanted to decide if this was going to take away too much free time. Did I really still enjoy doing it? Did I have something to say? Is it something I should be involved with still?” he said.

howard stern.jpgHoward Stern

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ABC News Anchor Leaves Rehab

A popular ABC News anchor who entered rehab for alcohol abuse in October has left the program. TVNewser reports that Elizabeth Vargas returned home and is expected back on the air as early as next week.

After leaving the rehab center, Vargas tweeted, “Hello everyone! I am home, and so grateful for all your support and well wishes. I am so much better and taking it one day at a time. :)”

Vargas has been with ABC since 1996 and co-anchors “20/20,” also filling in on "Good Morning America."

Midway through her treatment, Vargas released a statement saying: “I realized I was becoming increasingly dependent on alcohol, and feel fortunate to have recognized it for the problem it was becoming. I am so thankful for the love and support of my family, friends and colleagues at ABC News.”

elizabeth vargas.pngElizabeth Vargas

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Voice Actors on Long-Running Animated Show Receive Raises

The lead voice actors on a veteran animated Fox comedy series have nailed down big bumps in pay. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the four main members of the voice cast for Seth MacFarlane’s “Family Guy” secured pay hikes bringing them each to between $175,000 and $225,000 per episode for at least two more seasons.

The four lead voice actors are Alex Borstein, who plays the mother, Lois; Seth Green, who voices son Chris; Mila Kunis, who portrays daughter Meg; and Mike Henry, who plays neighbor Cleveland Brown.

The piece notes: “The deal will go into effect with the 12th season, currently in production, which is expected to roll out in the fall of 2014. (Creator Seth MacFarlane, who voices several roles including main character Peter Griffin, son Stewie and martini-swilling dog Brian, will negotiate separately because his deal with 20th TV has several other components.)”

The show draws a 3.3 rating among the 18-49 demographic in live-plus-7 ratings, which means the show outranks all of Fox’s other animated shows in the demographic, the story notes.

But the “Family Guy” actors still earn less than the voice actors on “The Simpsons,” who reportedly make in the $300,000 range per episode, the piece notes.

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Report: MSNBC Not Eager to Have Alec Baldwin Return

MSNBC executives aren’t all that eager to have Alec Baldwin return to the cable news network, the New York Post’s Page Six reports.

As previously reported, Baldwin's "Up Late" show is on a two-week suspension from MSNBC after Baldwin apparently made an anti-gay remark to a photographer.

Executives are said to be cold to his return because of Baldwin’s allegedly “angry behavior,” the story says. The actor has reportedly shouted at the staff and complained that the air at 30 Rock is too dry, the story says.

His ratings haven’t been stellar, either. His last show hit a low in the 25-54 demographic, pulling in only 101,000 viewers in the key news demo, the story says.

A representative for MSNBC said: “Every episode of ‘Up Late’ has beaten CNN and increased MSNBC’s audience in the time slot. Alec has been dedicated to developing ‘Up Late’ and spent hours each week in production. He’s got great ideas and has a collaborative relationship with the staff.”

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Frank Darabont Says 'Sociopaths' Fired Him From 'The Walking Dead'

Frank Darabont, who developed “The Walking Dead” for AMC, let loose in an interview with Variety about his feelings over being let go from the show, saying he no longer watches the zombie drama and describing those who fired him as “sociopaths.”

Asked whether he still watches the show, he replied: “Oh God no, why would I? If the woman you loved with all your heart left you for the Pilates instructor and just sent you an invitation to the wedding, would you go?”

He added: “There’s a deep commitment and emotional investment that happens when you create something that is very near and dear to you, and when that is torn asunder by sociopaths who don’t give a shit about your feelings or the feelings of your cast and crew because they have their own reasons to screw everybody, that doesn’t feel good.”

Darabont started developing his new show, “Mob City,” soon after he was fired from “The Walking Dead.” The TNT series will debut Dec. 4, with two episodes airing per week. The plan is that the condensed season will draw viewers to the noir drama while other networks are airing holiday programming, the piece notes.

“It’s semi-binge-viewing, I guess,” Darabont told Variety. “The audience really gets to see if they’re digging what they’re seeing. … It’s so smart. If the show is successful, it will be due in large measure not just to our efforts, but to TNT’s because they’re marketing the hell out of it.”

frank darabont.jpgFrank Darabont

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FX Orders Vampire Series

FX has placed a series order for a vampire drama. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel ordered 13 episodes of the Guillermo del Toro series “The Strain.”

The project, based on a book trilogy from del Toro and Chuck Hogan, landed at FX after a bidding war, the piece notes.

“‘The Strain’ now is heading into production on its first season, with the bulk of the scripts already completed and one major casting change. The role of Professor Abraham Setrakian, played in the pilot by John Hurt, is being recast,” the story notes.

Corey Stoll, who played Rep. Peter Russo in Netflix's "House of Cards," leads the cast of "The Strain." Stoll portrays Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, who heads a Centers for Disease Control team that investigates an outbreak of vampirism.

corey-stoll.jpgCorey Stoll

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'Wheel of Fortune' Gets New Director -- Only the Third Person to Fill the Role

“Wheel of Fortune” has named a new director, who will be only the third director in the 31-year history of the syndicated show, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The show promoted Bob Cisneros to position, the story reports. Cisneros, who started his career in CBS Television City’s mailroom, joined the program in 1987 as a stage manager, when he was on staff at CBS Television, the story says. Later he became associate director.

He replaces Mark Corwin, who died this summer after serving as director since 1999. Corwin had taken over when Dick Carson, the younger brother of longtime “Tonight Show’ host Johnny Carson, retired.

"I am so proud to be named the director of ‘Wheel of Fortune’ -- it is a dream come true,” Cisneros said. “I am surrounded by a fantastic staff and crew that has supported me through my entire ‘Wheel’ journey, and I look forward to continuing the tradition of my predecessors by creating quality shows for our fans.”

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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's Reality Show Canceled After One Episode -- Despite Record Ratings

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who has become the butt of jokes for his admitted use of crack cocaine and his other wild behavior, has lost his Canadian reality TV show after just one airing, reports The Globe and Mail.

Sun News Network on Tuesday canceled “Ford Nation” after its debut episode on Monday. The network had announced the show only on Thursday, and the cancellation comes despite what were record ratings for Sun News, the story reports.

“While ‘Ford Nation’ pulled about 155,000 viewers, according to overnight ratings, it is a victim of the brutal economics of cable TV and the Fords’ relative inexperience with the medium: Monday’s episode took five hours to record, and another eight hours to edit, making it an unusually expensive endeavour for a niche network that is in only about 40 percent of Canadian households,” the piece notes.

Even though Kory Teneycke, vice president of Sun News, called the show “by far the most successful thing, from an audience perspective, the network has ever done,” the show won’t be produced again.

During Monday’s episode, the mayor -- who has admitted smoking crack and falling into “drunken stupors” -- vowed that he was changing his behavior. Asked whether the mayor should be a role model, he replied, “Absolutely you should be a role model. But I’m only human.” He added, “Am I perfect? I’m not perfect. But I’ll tell you what I am perfect at -- watching taxpayers’ money, creating jobs, stimulating the economy.”

Here's a taste:

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ABC Shakes Up Prime Time: Network Scraps One Series, Rolls Out New Comedy; Here's the Full Midseason Schedule

ABC is making significant changes to its prime-time lineup, including dumping one series from the schedule and adding a new comedy series.

In a revelation that is not a surprise, "Betrayal" will not be back after its current order for 13 episodes runs out. Meanwhile, "Revenge" moves to 10 p.m. Sundays, with "Suburgatory" slated to return Wednesday, Jan. 15. Also returning are "The Bachelor" and "The Taste."

The comedy "Mixology" will get the slot leading out from "Modern Family," taking over for "Super Fun Night" starting Feb. 26.

Other new series include "The Assets," "Killer Women," "Mind Games" and "Resurrection."

Please click here to read the full press release from ABC, including details on all of the midseason series.

Below is the full schedule of midseason premieres:

THURSDAY, JANUARY 2

8:00-10:00 p.m. “The Taste”
10:00-11:00 p.m. “The Assets”

MONDAY, JANUARY 6

8:00-10:00 p.m. “The Bachelor”

TUESDAY, JANUARY 7

10:00-11:00 p.m. “Killer Women”

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 15

8:30-9:00 p.m. “Suburgatory”

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 26

9:30-10:00 p.m. “Mixology”

SUNDAY, MARCH 9

9:00-10:00 p.m. “Resurrection” (New Time)
10:00-11:00 p.m. “Revenge” (New Time)

TUESDAY, MARCH 11

10:00-11:00 p.m. “Mind Games”


The full press release from ABC can be found by clicking here.

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Video: Mike Tyson Returns Evander Holyfield's Ear -- and So Much More -- in New Foot Locker Spot

The premise of a new 60-second spot for Foot Locker is all is right with the world, at least from a sports perspective -- including Mike Tyson returning a chewed-off ear to Evander Holyfield and a few other high-profile sports figures otherwise making amends.

Here's the spot:

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Legendary TV Comedy Troupe to Reunite

A comedy troupe that had a big impact on TV before going on to make an even bigger splash in movies is poised to reunite. The troupe is Monty Python, which became a sensation for its BBC sketch show, launched in 1969, and a series of movies including the 1974 hit "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

"They are all officially senior citizens -- and so are many of their fans -- but that isn't stopping the surviving members of Monty Python from planning a reunion that is expected to take the form of a stage show," the Los Angeles Times reports. "Members of the beloved British comedy group are expected to announce this week that they are reuniting for a new stage production. Eric Idle said on his Twitter account that a news conference will be held in London on Thursday."

Idle wrote in that tweet: "Make sure Python fans are alerted to the big forthcoming news event."

The Times adds: "It remains unclear if the show will feature new comedy material and how the Monty Python members will be involved. The British tabloid the Sun first reported Monday that the surviving members of the troupe have agreed to a reunion."

Along with Idle, the surviving members of the group are John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and Terry Jones. The sixth member of the group, Graham Chapman, died in 1989.

monty python.jpgMonty Python

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NBC Show Sinks to Season Low, But the Peacock Soars to a Nightly Ratings Win

On a night when NBC filled its three hours of prime time with programming built around a single show, that show sank to a season low -- and NBC still won Monday night handily, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

With NBC airing three hours of "The Voice" programming -- a one-hour recap show followed by the regular two-hour Monday edition -- TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the regular show fell to a 3.4 average rating in 18-49, losing four-tenths of a point from the previous week and settling for a season low. For its part, the recap delivered a 2.2.

That left NBC with a 3.0 average for prime time in viewers 18-49, still well ahead of its broadcast rivals. NBC did slip to second place behind ABC in total viewers.

ABC and Fox tied for second place in adults 18-49, but the report notes that ABC's numbers may be inflated by "Monday Night Football" coverage on ABC affiliates in Boston and Charlotte, with the network's preliminary figures subject to more than the usual adjustments.

ABC's two-hour "Dancing with the Stars" came in with a 2.3 average in the 18-49 demo, way up from last week's series-low 1.7. "Castle" also had a 2.3, up from a 2.0 a week ago.

Fox's new drama "Almost Human" made its time slot debut at 8 p.m. and fell to a 2.2 average in 18-49 after delivering a 3.1 for Sunday's premiere. "Sleepy Hollow" slipped one-tenth from last week to a 2.5.

Most of CBS's lineup was even with a week ago. "How I Met Your Mother" finished with a competitive 3.1 average in the 18-49 demo, matching its number from last week, while "2 Broke Girls" equaled last week's 2.7, "Mike & Molly" again came in with a 2.3 -- equaling its series low -- and "Mom" matched last week's 1.9, also a series low.

CBS's "Hostages" fell one-tenth in 18-49 to a series-low 1.0 average.

For prime time overall, NBC's 3.0 average led the way in the 18-49 demo, followed by ABC and Fox (2.3 averages), CBS (2.0) and Univision (1.2). ABC was on top in total viewers with 13.7 million, ahead of NBC (9.5 million), Fox (6.8 million), CBS (6.6 million) and Univision (3.4 million).

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Cable Channel Has a Record Ratings Night

A cable channel turned in a record performance in the ratings Sunday night, with viewers turning out in force for its lineup of unscripted programs.

Bravo Media announced that "Real Housewives of Atlanta" fueled much of the surge for the Bravo channel, complemented by a strong performance for its companion show "Watch What Happens Live."

"Housewives" made Bravo the No. 1 cable network in the 8 p.m. hour Sunday in the key 18-49 demo and delivered almost 3.7 million total viewers, as the episode became the highest rated of the season in all key demos, Bravo reported.

"Watch What Happens Live," featuring guests Phaedra Parks and Ben and Jewel Tankard, also had its most-watched episode of the season, with almost 1.4 million viewers.

"Bravo’s newest series, 'Thicker Than Water,' was up 18% among total viewers from the prior week’s episode (11/10/13) with over 1.8 million total viewers," Bravo reported. "Additionally, the night rounded out with 'Fashion Queens,' which also scored a season-to-date high among all key demos and earned nearly 1.1 million total viewers."

real-housewives-of-atlanta-season-5.jpg

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Fox Sports Regional Networks Name New President

Fox Sports announced that it has named a new president of Fox Sports Regional Networks, who will also have oversight of Fox Deportes.

"Jeff Krolik, an accomplished media executive who has led the day-to-day operations for Fox Sports Regional Networks as executive vice president since 2007, has been promoted to the position of President. The announcement was made today by Eric Shanks, President and COO of Fox Sports, to whom Krolik will report," the company announced.

The announcement also says: "In addition to continuing his oversight of Fox Sports Regional Networks, which comprises an industry-leading 22 owned-and-operated networks, Krolik will assume oversight of Fox Deportes, the No. 1 U.S. Latino Sports channel. Fox Deportes leads both Univision Deportes and ESPN Deportes in year-to-date total viewers and persons 18-49."

Said Shanks: “Jeff has played a vital role in growing our regional sports network business and helping it become the industry leader it is today. I’m confident Jeff will continue to do an outstanding job managing our regional business, while also overseeing the growth of Fox Deportes.”

Krolik has been with Fox Sports since 2007, after serving as general manager of Fox Sports Bay Area from 1995-2007.

The announcement notes: "Over the past two years, Fox Sports Regional Networks has added Fox Sports San Diego, Fox Sports New Orleans, and SportsTime Ohio to its roster of owned-and-operated regional sports networks and has acquired 49% of the YES Network. Through his management of Fox Sports Regional Networks, Krolik oversees local relationships with 45 NBA, NHL, and MLB teams and is responsible for a business that produces more than 5,000 live sports telecasts annually."

jeff krolik.pngJeff Krolik

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A Conversation With a Daytime TV Powerhouse

A talk-show host who is a rising force in daytime television took time out recently to talk with reporters, and TVWeek Open Mic writer Hillary Atkin was on hand to file an in-depth report.

Please click here to read highlights of the wide-ranging conversation with Queen Latifah.

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Shocker: One Report Indicates Actress Brittany Murphy and Her Husband Appear to Have Been Murdered. A Separate Report Says Mold Toxin May Have Killed Them

After actress Brittany Murphy, known for the 1995 movie "Clueless" and for voicing Luanne Platter on the Fox series "King of the Hill," among many other roles, died in 2009, a coroner's report attributed her death to pneumonia and anemia. But a new lab report says otherwise, TheWrap.com reports.

The lab report "lends credence to what actress Brittany Murphy’s father has long suspected: that she and her husband died not of natural causes, but of poisoning by someone out to kill them," the story reports.

Separately, the headline of a story penned by Alex Ben Block in The Hollywood Reporter's legal blog, Hollywood, Esq., reads "Shocking New Brittany Murphy Claim Says Toxic Mold May Have Killed Star."

Block's story starts, "The mother of Brittany Murphy has filed a lawsuit against the attorneys that represented her in a suit against the builders of the home where the actress died, claiming the lawyers never told her about a possible wrongful death suit due to mold in the house.

"The suit by Sharon Murphy in Los Angeles Superior Court comes nearly two years after the Dec. 20, 2009, death of Brittany Murphy, which was followed by the May 2010 death of Brittany's husband, Simon Monjack. Sharon Murphy apparently did not become convinced that toxic mold was a cause in the death of her daughter and son-in-law until this past summer, when she was in the process of selling the house in the Hollywood Hills."

TheWrap story about Murphy and her husband possibly being murder victims adds: "Murphy’s father, Angelo Bertolotti, didn’t accept the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office conclusion that the 'Clueless' star and husband Simon Monjack died of natural causes -- pneumonia and anemia -- five months apart. He sued to gain access to her hair samples, and hired [Denny] Seilheimer’s private lab, the Carlson Company, to look for signs of poisoning."

TheWrap adds: "The lab found evidence she was poisoned -- probably by 'a third party perpetrator with likely criminal intent,' according to the report, which was authorized by Seilheimer. The report found that Murphy’s body had dramatically elevated levels of aluminum, manganese, barium and other metals."

Murphy was 32 when she died in December 2009. Her husband died five months later, on May 23, 2010, at age 40. Like Murphy's death, Monjack's was attributed at the time to pneumonia and anemia.

After Murphy's death, "Bertolotti fought for access to what he claimed was Murphy's previously untested hair samples in Los Angeles County Superior Court," the New York Daily News reports. "He suggested in his court filing that chronic arsenic poisoning is sometimes misdiagnosed as anemia."

Ed Winter, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office, told TheWrap that his office has not been in touch with Murphy's father and that he had no updates as of Monday. He told the website: “We have no comment on that and our report stands as of now."

"LAPD spokesman Officer Cleon Joseph said it would be up to the Coroner’s Office whether to take further action," TheWrap reports, quoting Joseph saying: “Whatever the findings, if there was something to report, they would report it to us."

Getting back to Block's THR story that toxic mold may have killed Murphy and her husband, Block writes, "According to Ed Winter, assistant chief coroner of Los Angeles County, the coroner's office specifically looked for evidence of mold during the autopsies of both Murphy and Monjack and did not find any. Winter told THR on Monday [Nov 18, 2013] that at the time of Monjack’s death, Sharon Murphy told him she did not believe mold was the cause and she would not permit an inspection of the house by the L.A. health department as the coroner had requested. ..."

"In a complaint filed Monday, Sharon Murphy charges the firm of Steiner & Libo with legal malpractice, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty for not properly informing her that in January 2011 -- when she accepted the final settlement of that earlier lawsuit -- she was giving up her right to sue for the wrongful death of her daughter due to the presence of mold in the 13-year-old, 8,000-square-foot-home.

"The coroner had found that pneumonia was one of the causes of their deaths."

We urge you to click on the links above, which will take you to the original stories to read further details.

brittany murphy.jpgBrittany Murphy

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TV's Hottest Showrunner Signs Eight-Figure Deal With Sony Pictures TV

A TV producer who is coming off one of television's most critically acclaimed series in years, who already has two new projects in the pipeline and who has been called the hottest showrunner in television is no longer a free agent.

Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that "Breaking Bad" creator and executive producer Vince Gilligan signed what she calls a "rich new overall deal" with Sony Pictures TV, which produced the AMC drama.

"There had been strong interest among all studios in signing Gilligan, whose Sony TV overall deal had expired. I hear it came down to Sony and Warner Bros. TV, with Gilligan ultimately opting to stay at his home for the past six years," Andreeva writes.

Gilligan is already working on two new series with Sony TV: "Battle Creek" at CBS and a spinoff of "Breaking Bad" called "Better Call Saul," which is at AMC.

"Those projects will remain outside the eight-figure new Sony overall deal, which is strictly for television. It will cover all future TV development by 'The X Files' alum Gilligan, who is expected to focus his attention to cable where had his biggest success with 'Breaking Bad,'" Andreeva reports.

Thumbnail image for vince-gilligan.jpgVince Gilligan

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TV Reporter to Have Brain Tumor Removed

A reporter for a Los Angeles television station has gone on medical leave to prepare for a surgical procedure. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that KTTV reporter Julie Chang, an anchor and entertainment reporter for the station's "Good Day L.A.," is preparing to have a brain tumor removed.

Chang discovered the tumor after receiving a CT scan following a surfing incident, when a surf board hit her in the eye, the story reports, noting that Chang continued to appear on air but suffered severe headaches.

"If I hadn't moved to Southern California, I wouldn't have taken up surfing, which, in a way may have saved my life," Chang said in a message that was read by anchor Steve Edwards.

Chang added that the tumor is at the center of her brain. She said, "I will update you through my 'Good Day L.A.' family and via Twitter, so don't be a stranger. I promise I will return stronger, and who knows, perhaps smarter!"

julie chang.jpgJulie Chang

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Video: 'SNL' Cast Member Injured in Skit

A "Saturday Night Live" cast member was injured while performing in a skit during last Saturday's broadcast. The New York Times' Page Six reports that Bobby Moynihan twisted his ankle doing a spoof of out-of-control Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

In the skit, which was the show's cold opening, Moynihan took a fall when he portrayed the mayor, who is under fire for his admitted use of crack. The skit called for Moynihan to throw himself into the crowd at a press conference, resulting in the injury.

Moynihan ended up missing his own movie premiere as he skipped Sunday night's Cinema Society screening of "Delivery Man," in which he has a role.

Here's the "SNL" clip:

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Sarah Palin Gets Apology From Cable News Host Over 'Sh-t in Her Mouth' Insinuation

A cable news host apologized to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin after he implied in a commentary that she deserved to have someone "shit" in her mouth, TheWrap.com reports.

MSNBC host Martin Bashir admitted he went overboard when he made the comment.

"I wanted to take this opportunity to say sorry to Mrs. Palin and to also offer an ‘unreserved apology’ to her friends and family, her supporters, our viewers and anyone who may have heard what I said,” Bashir said.

He made the comment in response to Palin's remark that U.S. debt to China would lead to a "slavery" situation.

Palin, in a Nov. 9 speech, said, “Our free stuff today is being paid for by taking money from our children and borrowing from China. When that note comes due and -- this isn’t racist, so try it, try it anyway, this isn’t racist -- but it’s going to be like slavery when that note is due. Right? We are going to be beholden to a foreign master.”

On his show Friday, he introduced Palin as "America’s resident dunce, scraping the barrel of her long-deceased mind.” Criticizing Palin for invoking slavery, Bashir read from a diary kept by a plantation owner, who recorded that he had a slave "shit" in another slave's mouth as a punishment.

Bashir added: "When Mrs. Palin invokes slavery, she doesn’t just prove her rank ignorance. She confirms that if anyone truly qualified for a dose of discipline … she would be the outstanding candidate."

Here's a clip of Bashir's apology, followed by Friday's "Clear the Air" segment that got him in trouble:

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TNT Drama Series Shakes Things Up Behind the Scenes

A TNT drama series has undegone a key change behind the scenes. According to The Hollywood Reporter, TNT's "Rizzoli & Isles" named Jan Nash as the new showrunner, succeeding creator and showrunner Janet Tamaro.

Tamaro left at the end of the show's fourth season, the report notes.

Nash has previously worked on TNT's "Memphis Beat" and CBS's "Without a Trace."

"Rizzoli & Isles" stars Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander as a police detective and a medical examiner, and has an average of 8.4 million viewers in live-plus-7 ratings for the current season.

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One of the Most Beloved Films of All Time Is Getting a Sequel

A sequel in the works for a film that has been a television staple and is one of the most beloved movies of all time. Variety reports that the TV holiday season perennial "It's a Wonderful Life," Frank Capra's iconic 1946 movie, is getting a sequel.

The new production is titled "It's a Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story" and comes from Star Partners and Hummingbird Productions, with the goal of having the film ready for the 2015 holiday season.

The sequel is slated to star Karolyn Grimes, who portrayed the cherubic Zuzu in the original. She will return as an angel who shows George Bailey's unlikable grandson how the world would have been better off without him.

The original move showed George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, how his hometown would have been worse off without his presence.

"The storyline of the new film retains the spirit of the original -- every life is important as long as you have friends,” said Bob Farnsworth of Hummingbird.

No casting decision has been made on who will play the grandson. The film will have a budget between $25 million and $35 million, the piece adds.

Fans of the original movie apparently weren't thrilled with the news, with comments on Variety's site tending toward the negative.

"I never post on web sites, but I feel the need to tell whoever is listening, that I hope this is a joke. Please stop. The world is a better place because of that movie. Stop ruining good things. I hope you find love, and money doesn’t have to consume everything," one commenter wrote.

karolyn grimes.jpgKarolyn Grimes

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Comedy From 'Private Practice' Star Receives Early Pilot Order From NBC

A comedy starring and executive produced by a former "Private Practice" star has received an early pilot order from NBC, Deadline.com reports.

The comedy, "Bad Judge," is about a sexually forthright woman who lives on the edge, but who is also a judge in the criminal courts, the story says. The project stars and is executive produced by Kate Walsh, who starred as Addison Montgomery on ABC's "Private Practice."

The project is from Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's Gary Sanchez Productions and actress Anne Heche. It was written by Chad Kultgen of "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone."

Thumbnail image for kate walsh.pngKate Walsh

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Toronto Mayor Now Says He Wants to Be Canadian Prime Minister. And Insists He's Serious. Let's Go to the Videotape

Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's remarks about wanting to run for Canadian Prime Minister come about a minute and 30 seconds into this video:

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Why 'Doctor Who' Fans Say the Series Needs a Spinoff (Watch the Video Here)

Fans of "Doctor Who" are asking the BBC for a spinoff of the 50-year-old franchise, with thousands of people signing a petition that asks for a new show depicting the Eighth Doctor's adventures, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The petition started after the BBC debuted "The Night of the Doctor" online last week, which showed Paul McGann's Eighth Doctor. (See the video below.) The seven-minute episode showed McGann's doctor regenerating into John Hurt's "War Doctor," according to the U.K.'s RadioTimes.

One reason fans want to see more of the Eighth Doctor is that McGann previously had only appeared as the character in a 1996 pilot for an American version of the series, which was produced for Fox, THR notes.

The Change.Org petition says, "Even a web series would suffice!" It adds, "It would be a shame for such a fantastic actor and Doctor to be once again confined to the past yet again."

As of Tuesday morning, the petition had more than 11,000 supporters. THR notes that the backers planned to send the petition to the BBC once it passed 10,000 signatures.

Here's the "Doctor Who" mini-episode "The Night of the Doctor":

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CW Tweaks Plans for 'The Flash'

The CW has changed its plans for introducing its new superhero "The Flash." Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the network has decided to create a stand-alone pilot for the character, backing away from the original plan to create a backdoor pilot in "Arrow."

The character, portrayed by Grant Gustin, was slated to appear in three episodes of "Arrow," with the 20th episode serving as a backdoor pilot for "The Flash," the story says. "But now the CW has opted to film a traditional stand-alone 'Flash' pilot instead of doing a backdoor pilot as 'Arrow's' episode 20," Andreeva writes.

The character's origin story was slated to be told in the eighth and ninth episodes of "Arrow."

"The creative team remains the same, with 'Arrow' co-creators Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg and series scribe Geoff Johns writing the pilot and [David] Nutter, who helmed the pilot for 'Arrow,' directing," the story says.

Andreeva adds: "The decision was made after CW brass saw cuts of Episodes 8 and 9, which have been very well received. Filming a stand-alone 'Flash' pilot would allow the creators to better flesh out the superhero’s story and his world on a bigger budget, as pilot budgets are significantly higher than episodic ones. While no longer a full-blown spinoff, 'The Flash' still will be tethered to the 'Arrow' universe since the the character (as Barry Allen) will first be introduced there."

Grant-Gustin.jpgGrant Gustin

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For Whom the Bell Tolls: Bombshell Announcement as One of the Most Well-Known Reporters on TV -- After Becoming the Signature Anchor and Host at Another News Network for the Past 20 Years -- Jumps to the Fox Business Network

One of the most popular reporters on TV --  and already a member of the Cable Hall of Fame -- is joining the Fox Business Network.

"This is a total bombshell for the financial media world," reports Business Insider, continuing, "CNBC's...Maria Bartiromo is headed to Fox Business Network, Matt Drudge first reported while she was anchoring 'Closing Bell' this afternoon."

Oddly, Drudge's original report isn't available online anymore. Instead, Drudge links to this Business Insider article.

The Business Insider article continues, with this statement from CNBC: "After 20 years of groundbreaking work at CNBC, Maria Bartiromo will be leaving the company as her contract expires on November 24th. Her contributions to CNBC are too numerous to list but we thank her for all of her hard work over the years and wish her the best."

The article also notes that our former colleague and good friend here at Crain Communications, Claire Atkinson, who's now at the New York Post, wrote this past summer in the Post that Bartiromo was talking to both Fox Business and CNN.

Maria Bartiromo.jpgMaria Bartiromo 

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ABC Series Hits All-Time Low; Solid Debut for New Fox Drama

A new Fox series premiered to solid numbers Sunday night while an ABC show sank to a historic low, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that Fox's "Almost Human" delivered a 3.1 average in the demo, the best number for any non-football programming in Fox's Sunday prime-time lineup.

ABC's "Once Upon a Time" continued to erode, sinking to a series-low 1.9 in 18-49.

Fox finished a strong second on the night, trailing only NBC's dominant "Sunday Night Football" coverage. Fox's lineup got a bump from football overrun.

NBC finished well out in front of its broadcast rivals on the strength of its NFL programming. The Peacock Network averaged a 7.5 for prime time in viewers 18-49, with Fox second with a 3.8 average. CBS trailed with a 1.6, followed by ABC (1.4) and Univision (1.2).

NBC dominated in total viewers as well, averaging 20.8 million for prime time to lead Fox (10.4 million), CBS (10.0 million), ABC (5.6 million) and Univision (3.3 million).

NBC's "Sunday Night Football" showdown between the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs averaged a 9.1 rating in 18-49, well ahead of last week's preliminary 7.0 average.

On Fox, "The Simpsons" managed a 1.8 average in the 18-49 demo, the same as last week. The show aired at 8 p.m. last week but was bumped to 9 p.m. Sunday. "Family Guy" rose two-tenths of a ratings point to a 2.2.

The CBS prime-time lineup was down from last week: "60 Minutes" fell to a 1.7 average in viewers 18-49 after scoring a football-inflated 3.1 a week ago. "The Amazing Race" ticked down two-tenths to a 2.0, "The Good Wife" lost three-tenths to settle for a 1.4, and "The Mentalist" inched down one-tenth to a 1.3.

ABC's best number in 18-49 was a 1.9 for "Once Upon a Time," but that number was a series low and a drop of two-tenths from last week.

The rest of the ABC lineup was up: "America's Funniest Home Videos" rose one-tenth from last week to a 1.4 in 18-49, "Revenge" ticked up two-tenths to a 1.5, and "Betrayal" inched up one-tenth to a 0.9. Both "Revenge" and "Betrayal" bounced back from series lows a week ago.

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'Breaking Bad' Mainstay Lands Starring Role in New Series

One of the key players in the cast of the recently wrapped AMC drama series "Breaking Bad" has a new gig lined up. USA Today reports that Anna Gunn, who played wife and enabler to Walter White on "Breaking," will resurface on an upcoming Fox series.

"Gunn will play Detective Ellie Miller, who's investigating the death of a friend's child, in Fox's Americanized remake of BBC's 'Broadchurch,' due next season," the story reports. "The remake, to be called 'Gracepoint,' will star 'Broadchurch's' David Tennant as Detective Emmett Carver, who's brought into the case and gets the promotion Miller thought she'd won."

Gunn took home an Emmy for her performance as Skyler White on "Breaking Bad."

USA Today adds: "Also joining the cast is Jacki Weaver, who played Bradley Cooper's mother (and Robert De Niro's wife) in last fall's 'Silver Linings Playbook,' which won her an Oscar nomination. Weaver plays Susan Wright, a mysterious loner in a trailer park who has ties to the case."

The new series is set to begin filming in January.

anna gunn.pngAnna Gunn

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'Seinfeld' Sold for a Fifth Cycle

Sony Pictures Television announced today that it has sold "Seinfeld" to television stations for a fifth cycle that will take the show through 2017, B&C reports.

In a statement, SPT President of U.S. Distribution John Weiser said: “'Seinfeld' is the greatest television show ever. With this renewal, viewers will be able to enjoy the show for many more years into the future.”

"The deal extends 'Seinfeld’s' clearances in more than 90% of the country, continuing its successful broadcast run on such highly ranked stations as WPIX New York, KCOP Los Angeles and WCIU Chicago, and also supported by station groups including Tribune, Fox, CBS, Sinclair, Local, Raycom, Cox and Hubbard, among many others," the B&C report adds.

Weigel's Neal Sabin, president of content and networks, said in a statement: “It's really something that the show about nothing is entering its 5th syndication cycle. 'Seinfeld' is a timeless classic we are happy to have on our station, making viewers and advertisers happy and successful, yada, yada, yada.”

The report adds: "Now in its fourth cycle, 'Seinfeld' remains a top-five show in the adults 25-54 demographic among current hits including Warner Bros.’ 'The Big Bang Theory' and 'Two and A Half Men,' and Twentieth’s 'Family Guy' and 'How I Met Your Mother.' 'Seinfeld' also numbers among the top 10 off-net sitcoms in households."

The show bowed in syndication in 1995 and has reportedly made more than $3 billion since then, the report notes.

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Nielsen's Twitter TV Ratings Show One Series With a Massive Lead

Nielsen SocialGuide is now distributing the weekly measurement the Twitter TV Ratings Weekly Top Ten, and the measure for the week of Nov. 11-17 shows one series, AMC's "The Walking Dead," holds a commanding lead in unique audience.

NBC's "The Voice," however, is No. 1 in the total number of Tweets.

The shows are ranked by unique audience, where "Walking Dead" is a runaway No. 1 with 4.07 million, followed by "The Voice" at No. 2 with 2.50 million.

In number of tweets, "The Voice" is No. 1 with 595,000, well ahead of No. 2 "Walking Dead" at 262,300.

"Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings go beyond activity to measure the actual reach of Tweets about TV shows," Nielsen noted. "The ratings include not only ‘authors’ (the number of people tweeting about TV programs) and the total number of Tweets, but also the much larger ‘audience’ of people who actually view those Tweets."

Nielsen defines "unique audience" as "the total number of distinct Twitter accounts accruing at least one impression of one Tweet ascribed to a TV episode. Unique Audience is de-duplicated at the account level, so that a Twitter account will be counted only once for a given reported episode regardless of how many impressions the account accrued for that episode."

The measure captures relevant Tweets from three hours before, during and three hours after an episode’s initial broadcast, based on local time, Nielsen notes.

The company adds: "Unique Audience measures the audience of relevant Tweets ascribed to an episode from when the Tweets are sent until the end of the broadcast day at 5 a.m. The data includes new/live primetime and late fringe episodes only and excludes sports events. Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings are only available for English-language U.S. Broadcast and Cable Networks."

Here's the Nielsen chart:

nielsen socialguide 111813.pngSource: Nielsen SocialGuide

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Video: Alternate Ending to 'Breaking Bad' Goes Viral

The people behind the "Breaking Bad" complete series DVD set came up with a gem of a special feature to include in the set, which plays on star Bryan Cranston's other popular TV role. Now the alternate ending to "Breaking Bad" is making a splash on the Internet.

We won't say any more than that -- watch it for yourself:

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TV Personality Will Be Named Sexiest Man Alive

A television personality who has become a familiar face in prime time is poised to be named People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive.

The Hollywood Reporter's Earshot reports that "The Voice" judge and Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine will receive the honor.

Levine was asked about it on Friday's "Today" show but appeared reluctant to address the question, the story reports. He noted, "It would be an interesting idea … I know nothing."

Levine follows Channing Tatum, Bradley Cooper and Ryan Reynolds as the magazine's Sexiest Man Alive, the piece notes. The singer recently became engaged to Victoria's Secret model Behati Prinsloo.

behati prinsloo-adam levine.jpgAdam Levine and fiancee Behati Prinsloo

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Latest Alec Baldwin Scandal Puts His New MSNBC Show in Jeopardy

Alec Baldwin's new MSNBC show was placed on suspension -- and may not return at all -- after a scandal erupted last week in which the actor reportedly made anti-gay remarks to a photographer. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel placed the show on a two-week suspension because of the incident.

Baldwin is saying that he and the show might not return at all after the suspension ends, the story reports.

As previously reported, Baldwin apparently chased and threatened a photographer outside his Manhattan apartment, reportedly calling the man a "c**ksucking f*g." Baldwin later said he actually called the photographer a "fathead."

On his blog, which is published on The Huffington Post, Baldwin wrote, "Whether the show comes back at all is at issue right now." He added, "But if the show dies, its fate ends up being no different than the vast majority of start-up TV programming, and so be it. We do take a small amount of pride in knowing that we beat CNN in the ratings each of our nights. (I forget who they had on at that time.)"

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for alec-baldwin2.jpgAlec Baldwin

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'How I Met Your Mother' Spinoff Greenlighted

A spinoff of the hit CBS comedy "How I Met Your Mother" has been greenlighted by the network. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the project, to be called "How I Met Your Dad," received a pilot order.

The new show puts a female spin on the original format, Andreeva reports.

The project was pitched Oct. 30 and comes from "How I Met Your Mother" creators and executive producers Craig Thomas and Carter Bays. "Up All Night" creator and executive producer Emily Spivey is also behind the project.

"How I Met Your Dad" will tell an all-new story, including new characters, although they will meet at MacLaren's Pub, the favorite spot of the "How I Met Your Mother" crew.

"It is unclear if the characters from the spinoff would be introduced in the 'HIMYM' finale as originally envisioned," Andreeva writes.

She adds, "CBS certainly could use more 'HIMYM' -- the veteran comedy is the key piece holding together the network’s Monday lineup, which has had a rough fall."

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Hulu, Under New Management, Has a New Strategy

Under new Chief Executive Mike Hopkins, a veteran Fox television executive, Hulu is changing its television strategy, reports the Los Angeles Times' Company Town.

"The site will throw off its old mantle of TV disrupter as it seeks to work in partnership with cable and satellite companies," the story notes.

It adds: "The newly installed Hulu executive team is believed to already be pursuing deals with cable operators to offer subscribers access to Hulu as a way to watch current shows online, according to several people with knowledge of the situation."

The team may also be seeking to use the deals with pay-TV providers to sell subscriptions to Hulu Plus, the story adds.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for mike hopkins.jpgMike Hopkins

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Charlie Sheen Backs Out of Appearance at Film Festival, Citing a 'Potentially Life-Threatening' Problem With His Private Plane

Charlie Sheen backed out of an appearance at the Baja Film Festival, saying his private plane had a "potentially life-threatening" mechanical problem, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Sheen, who stars in FX's "Anger Management," also declined the film festival's offer to send a replacement plane, explaining that he will only travel on his own private aircraft, the story adds.

The actor wrote an apology on Twitter, noting, "I will NOT fly my family my friends or myself on any other aircraft. this is a non negotiable rule of mine as it lives in concert with zero wiggle room for maybes or friendly coercion. as I write this my plane is still not launch ready therefore leaving us all with zero options to attend the event on time."

Thumbnail image for charlie sheen.pngCharlie Sheen

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Larry King Says He Can't Believe He's 80, Living With a 'Young Wife and Two Kids'

Larry King said he can't believe he's 80, given that when he was a kid, "nobody was 80." He made the comment in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

King, who turns 80 on Nov. 19, is currently hosting "Larry King Now" on Ora.tv, a digital platform. He previously hosted CNN's "Larry King Live" from 1985 to 2010.

"I remember when my uncle visited once, he was 60, and I asked my brother: 'Do you think he has sex? He's 60, he can't,'" he told THR. "I can't believe I'm living in Beverly Hills with a young wife and two kids [and three grown kids]. I've got a nice car. I love my job. I've got a bagel store, and I have breakfast every morning with friends I grew up with. I've been in movies, I've written books -- I don't know how that all happened."

King said he has no regrets with his work, although he believes he would have become a stand-up comedian if he hadn't gone into broadcasting.

"I did a comedy tour last year, and I love the whole ball of wax of comedy. Mel Brooks was the funniest person I ever met, but Don Rickles, Richard Pryor and George Carlin were, too. I'd be a combination of Mel Brooks and [Jerry] Seinfeld -- a tummler and a storyteller," he said.

King has been married to Shawn King, 54, since 1997.

Larry-King-and-Shawn-Southwick-King.jpgLarry King and Shawn King

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'Chelsea Lately' Regular Developing FX Project

One of the regulars on E!'s "Chelsea Lately" is developing a comedy project for FX. Deadline.com reports that comedian Jen Kirkman is working on a project called "Jen," a half-hour comedy that's written by and stars Kirkman.

"Chelsea Lately's" Chelsea Handler will executive produce along with Kirkman. The project focuses on a woman who is newly divorced, in her mid-30s and without a desire to have kids. Kirkman is a writer and regular roundtable guest on "Chelsea Lately."

jen kirkman-2011.jpgJen Kirkman

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Emmy Awards Voting Shifts to Digital System

The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is moving to an online voting system for the Emmys, with Chief Executive Bruce Rosenblum introducing plans for a two-year transition, reports Variety.

The transition will first cover the initial round of Emmy voting, which sets nominees in all the categories. In 2015, online voting will be available for all rounds of the voting process, the story says. A paper ballot will also be available during the two-year transition period.

"We refine the Emmy Awards process every year, and this migration to an all-digital, online voting procedure will ensure that voting is easy, private and secure," Rosenblum said in a statement. "This is all part of our ongoing mission to activate greater member engagement, to inspire and help our members develop their professional potential, and to bring new and long-established voices within the television community together to continue to chart a bold path for our industry.”

bruce rosenblum.pngBruce Rosenblum

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Bill Moyers' Public TV Program Gets a Reprieve

After receiving an outpouring of support for Bill Moyers and his public television show "Moyers & Company," the program's executive director told public television officials that the show will remain on air, reports Elizabeth Jensen in The New York Times' ArtsBeat.

Judy Doctoroff told public television officials Friday that the show will stick around, after she said the show received "thousands of heartfelt and well-written messages saying ‘don’t go.’” Moyers had announced recently that he was ending the show.

The program, which also secured new funding, will continue to air both interviews and essays, although Moyers' production demands will be eased. Moyers, 79, said in a statement that the support he received "is not about me" but about how public broadcasting can offer viewers "a place for sanity and civility where they can reflect on what is going on in the world.”

The show will return starting Jan. 10 in a half-hour format, the story adds.

Thumbnail image for bill moyers.jpgBill Moyers

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AMC's 'The Killing' Comes Back to Life on Another Platform

"The Killing" is coming back to life yet again, after it was canceled by AMC and then revived by the network in September. Deadline.com reports that this time Netflix is the show's savior.

The streaming service has picked up the mystery drama as a Netflix original, giving it a six-episode final season, the story reports. Fox TV Studios, which is behind the show, has made "tenacious efforts to keep it alive," the piece adds.

“The rich, serialized storytelling in 'The Killing' thrives on Netflix, and we believe that it is only fitting to give Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder a proper sendoff,” said Cindy Holland, VP Original Content for Netflix.

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Who's the Best Doctor Who? Poll Picks Favorites for Show's Anniversary

Fans of the long-running BBC show "Doctor Who," which has featured 11 actors portraying the title role, have picked the actors they believe portrayed the best Time Lord and his companion, reports the U.K.'s RadioTimes. The British poll was conducted in connection with the show's 50th anniversary.

The favorites are David Tennant as the Doctor and Billie Piper as his companion, the poll of 20,000 RadioTimes readers found. Tennant played the 10th Doctor, between 2005 and 2010, while Piper played Rose Tyler, a companion to both his Time Lord and the previous Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston.

Tennant received 56.1% of the vote, with his successor, Matt Smith, coming in a distant second with 15.9% of all votes.

The Doctor whom many remember as the iconic face of the show, Tom Baker, placed third, drawing about 10% of the vote.

doctor-who-david-tennant-billie-piper.jpgDavid Tennant and Billie Piper

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Dish and Media General Reach Retrans Agreement

Dish and Media General have reached an agreement to end their retransmission consent dispute, with 17 Media General stations going back on Dish's systems immediately, reports B&C.

The two sides said in a short statement Saturday that they had resolved the dispute, although terms weren't disclosed.

The stations, in markets including Charleston, S.C., and Savannah, Ga., had been dark on Dish since Oct. 1.

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Cable Channel Orders 40 More Weeks of Late-Night Show

A late-night cable show has been picked up for 40 additional weeks. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Comedy Central ordered 40 more weeks of "@midnight," starring Chris Hardwick.

"The show, which ended its trial run Thursday night, will return in early January when 'The Daily Show' and 'The Colbert Report' return from their year-end hiatus," the story reports. "The news comes fewer than 24 hours after HBO revealed that it had snatched up 'The Daily Show' correspondent and summertime fill-in, John Oliver, for a topical show on its network."

Said Kent Alterman, Comedy Central's president of original programming: “We're amazed at how quickly @midnight has resonated with our fans. If the Internet catches on and social media becomes a part of pop culture, we think we'll really have something here."

The report adds: "The four-week run designed to expand Comedy Central's late-night foothold proved successful with '@midnight' benefiting from a strong lead-in from from 'Daily Show' and 'Colbert Report.' Through its first three weeks, the trio of Comedy Central offerings registered as the three most-watched series among men 18-34. ... when compared to all late-night shows. Among the broader all-important 18-49 demo, the series lured 453,000 viewers, putting it above Bravo's 'Watch What Happens Live,' E!'s 'Chelsea Lately' and TBS's new entry, 'Pete Holmes.'"

Said Hardwick: “I don't have adequate words to express how excited I am that we are going to be a fixture of late-night in 2014. Huge thanks to the amazing teams at Funny Or Die, Serious Business, and Tom Lennon and Ben Garant. They've made this process one of the most rewarding and fun experiences of my life."

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'Must-Flee TV'? Three NBC Shows Hit Series Lows

If NBC hopes to reclaim the Thursday night ratings glory of its "Must-See TV" era, last night's Nielsen numbers show that the Peacock has a long way to climb.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that three NBC series equaled their all-time lows in the key 18-49 demo, based on the overnights. For prime time overall, NBC finished in fifth place behind Univision, with the CW just one-tenth of a point back.

To make matters worse, the report adds: "Last night’s 'Thursday Night Football' game (Colts/Titans) was simulcast on the NBC affiliate in Indianapois and the Fox affilliate in Nashville. As a result, the NBC and Fox results may be inflated and subject to more than typical adjustments in the finals."

Equaling series lows were NBC's "Parks and Recreation" (1.2 average in 18-49, down 8% from its most recent original episode), "Sean Saves the World" (1.0, down a troubling 29% from a week ago) and "The Michael J. Fox Show" (1.0, matching last week's series low).

A second original episode of "Parks and Recreation" also delivered a 1.2 in the 18-49 demo, while "Parenthood" was the network's highest-rated show with a 1.3, equaling its number from the previous week.

At the other end of the ratings spectrum, CBS was mostly up, coasting to a win for the night with its blockbuster comedy "The Big Bang Theory" leading the way. "Bang" was up 4% from a week ago with a 5.1 average in viewers 18-49 to finish as the top show on broadcast prime by a substantial margin.

CBS's "The Millers" was also up, rising 4% from last week's series low to deliver a 2.7 in 18-49, while "Two and a Half Men" ticked up 5% to a 2.1. "The Crazy Ones" was steady with a 2.1, and "Elementary" lost ground, dipping 11% to a 1.6.

ABC had the No. 2 show of the night, as "Scandal" delivered a 2.9 to win the 10 p.m. hour, rising 4% from last week's season low. But ABC had its own problems, with "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland" and "Grey's Anatomy" both equaling their series lows. "Wonderland" came in with a 0.9 in adults 18-49, matching last week's number, while "Grey's" fell 4% to match its series low with a 2.6 average.

Fox saw "The X Factor" improve 17% on last week's series low with a 1.4 average in 18-49, while "Glee" equaled last week's series low, a 1.5.

For prime time overall, CBS's 2.5 average in viewers 18-49 was enough for the win, followed by ABC (2.1 average), Fox (1.4), Univision (1.2), NBC (1.1) and CW (1.0). CBS was comfortably ahead in total viewers with 10.6 million, followed by ABC (7.0 million), Fox (4.9 million), NBC (3.5 million), Univision (3.2 million) and CW (2.2 million).

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Character Actor Known for 'Seinfeld' and 'Godfather III' Dead at 89

A veteran character actor who was one of those familiar faces whose name remained unknown to many viewers has died. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Al Ruscio, who portrayed crime boss Leo Cuneo in "The Godfather: Part III" and had a memorable appearance on "Seinfeld," died Nov. 12 at 89.

Ruscio portrayed the new restaurant manager at Monk's in a 1993 episode of "Seinfeld," in which Elaine accuses him of hiring only buxom women. But the waitresses turn out to be his daughters.

In the late 1980s ABC drama "Life Goes On,' he played a grandfather who loved opera.

In "The Godfather: Part III," his character screams at Joe Mantegna's character, "Joey Zaza, you son of a bitch!," the story notes.

His other TV roles include parts on "One Day at a Time," the early Showtime series "Steambath" and "The X-Files," among many others.

al ruscio.jpgAl Ruscio

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Tribune Acquires New Craig Ferguson Show

Tribune Broadcasting has acquired a new show from Debmar-Mercury that will star Craig Ferguson, B&C reports. The show is "Celebrity Name Game," which Ferguson will host.

In a statement, Debmar-Mercury co-Presidents Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein said: "This huge commitment to 'Celebrity Name Game' from one of the premier broadcast groups in the country illustrates the tremendous value stations place in acquiring quality, compatible first-run programming that can play alongside off-network sitcoms in early fringe and access time periods. As we've proven with 'Family Feud,' stations are hungry for humor. With an exceptionally funny and popular host like Craig, a strong concept and Fremantle's extraordinary track record of producing hit game shows, that is exactly what we have with this show."

The B&C report notes: "The show will air in all of Tribune's markets, including WPIX New York, KTLA Los Angeles and WGN Chicago. In many markets the show will air in access time periods, with some 70% of the show's clearances so far between 5 and 8 p.m.

In a joint statement, Tribune Broadcasting President of Programming and Entertainment Sean Compton and Tribune President of Broadcast Media Larry Wert said: "Combining Craig Ferguson's sharp wit with 'Celebrity Name Game's' fast-paced format makes this show a great fit to the existing lineup on our broadcast stations. We look forward to partnering with Debmar-Mercury, Fremantle and Coquette Productions on this project as Tribune continues to add inventive first-run programming, specifically in access and early fringe."

B&C adds: "As part of the deal, Tribune will be a financial partner in the show through Tribune Studios. 'Celebrity Name Game' is produced by FremantleMedia North America and Coquette Productions, the production company of Courteney Cox and David Arquette. Coquette teamed with veteran showrunner Scott St. John ('Deal or No Deal'), as well as Laura Robinson and Richard Gerrits of North 44 Productions -- who created the board game, Identity Crisis, on which the show is based."

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Alec Baldwin Reportedly Chases Down a Photographer and Uses a Gay Slur

In an incident that was captured on video Thursday, actor and MSNBC host Alec Baldwin apparently chased down and threatened a photographer outside his Manhattan apartment shortly after his stalker was found guilty in court, reports TMZ.com.

Baldwin earned a rebuke from GLAAD over the incident, in which he reportedly chased the photographer and called him "a c**ksucking f*g," the story says.

A spokesperson for GLAAD condemned the use of the slur, telling the publication, "Mr. Baldwin can't lend his support for equality on paper, while degrading gay people in practice. It's clearly time he listens to the calls from so many LGBT people and allies to end this pattern of anti-gay slurs."

But Baldwin claims he actually didn't use the gay slur. Instead, he says he actually called the photographer a "fathead," according to TheWrap.com.

On Twitter, Baldwin wrote, "Anti-gay slurs are wrong. They not only offend, but threaten hard fought tolerance of LGBT rights."

Baldwin apologized to GLAAD earlier this year after he called a Daily Mail reporter a "queen" and threatened to beat him, as previously reported.

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'The Simpsons' in Huge Syndication Deal

By Michael Schneider, TV Guide magazine -- In what could be the largest off-network syndication deal in history, "The Simpsons" is coming to FXX in August 2014. FX Networks also acquired the exclusive video-on-demand and non-linear rights to the show, which will be available on the upcoming FXNOW app.

The deal includes "The Simpsons'" first 24 seasons (or 530 episodes), with the show's 25th season set to be added in September. (Future years will also be added once they've run a full season on Fox.)

TV Guide Magazine first broke the news in July that Twentieth Television (the syndication arm of "Simpsons" producer 20th Century Fox Television) was shopping "The Simpsons" for the first time since the cartoon's 1989 launch. At the time, analysts believed the show could fetch as much as $1.5 million an episode (similar to what USA Network paid for Modern Family repeats). That's close to $825 million; but add a few more seasons on top of that, and "The Simpsons" could ultimately come close to a $1 billion investment for FX Networks.

simpsons-family-couch.png"It's landmark," says Chuck Saftler, the president of program strategy and chief operating officer of FX Networks, who declined to confirm a dollar figure. "This is a deal that stands alone and apart from all others. I can't go into the specifics beyond that. But there is no other deal that can even stand up in comparison to the breadth and scope of this specific deal."

The "Simpsons" acquisition will help grow the burgeoning FXX channel, which launched in September in place of Fox Soccer Channel. But the real game-changer in FX Networks' "Simpsons" deal lies in its unprecedented VOD and streaming deal. FX managed to clear 100% of those rights to the show, which could help make FXNOW an instant major player and rival to popular existing apps like HBO Go. Saftler and FX have been busy snapping up blockbuster movie rights in addition to their own series as they looked to build a robust app – and now "The Simpsons" will be at the center of it.

"The fact that we were able to negotiate a deal that gave us all episodes for both our linear channels and for our non-linear app and website made this a deal that was built for the way the future of television will look," Saftler says. The "Simpsons" deal allows for all episodes at all times. Most deals, he says, give networks the ability only to stream five or ten episodes at a time.

"This was a very long, hard and complicated negotiation," says FX Networks CEO John Landgraf.

A beaming Saftler told TV Guide Magazine that his deal for "The Simpsons" was two decades in the making. "This is the fulfillment of my 20-year history at FX," Saftler says. "On my first day at FX it was my goal to put 'The Simpsons' on our network. Mind you, this is going to be on FXX. But it's taken 20 years to fulfill that goal. So I'm a very patient and very happy guy. My 20-year wait has now paid off."

FXX will likely air around 18 episodes of "The Simpsons" per week, comparable to how many repeats TBS runs of "The Big Bang Theory" and USA schedules of "Modern Family." "As we are at the very early days of FXX, we felt that there was no better fit for that network than 'The Simpsons,'" Saftler says. "Especially for a network that's targeted at the younger end of the FX brand."

But Saftler warns not to characterize FXX as becoming The Simpsons Channel. "I really feel that this is going to be one dimension of what FXX is rather than the whole of what FXX is. I feel that this is a really important dimension of the network but it is only one dimension of it." The "Simpsons" acquisition comes as FX Networks makes some early tweaks to the new channel. Nightly talk show "Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell" was just canceled, while new animated series "Chozen," originally announced as FXX's first original series, was moved to FX instead.

The decision to use "The Simpsons" as a tool to grow FXX is reminiscent of how "NYPD Blue" and "The X-Files" were used in 1997 to relaunch FX into its modern iteration.

Of course, those deals led to lawsuits by "X-Files" star David Duchovny and "NYPD Blue" executive producer Steven Bochco, both of whom felt that Twentieth had left money on the table. For "The Simpsons," Twentieth and FX were no doubt cognizant of the fact that profit participants like Matt Groening and James L. Brooks were watching the deal closely.

Groening, Brooks and longtime showrunner Al Jean were mentioned and thanked several times in FX's press release. "Only the profit participants can speak to (whether they're happy with the financial terms), but all I can say is it is the richest deal in the history of off-network syndication," Saftler says. "And we paid dearly for the right to have this landmark show."

It's believed that as many as five conglomerates made a play for "The Simpsons." But FX Networks was always seen as the front-runner for the show. Other logical suitors may have included Turner (TNT, TBS, Adult Swim) and Viacom (the company behind MTV, Comedy Central and TV Land). 20th Century Fox is protective of the show, which has made billions of dollars for its corporate parent over the years. Handing the keys to a rival would have brought in fresh outside money, but it would have also allowed a competitor to benefit from the brand – while perhaps hurting FX and FXX.

FX Networks' unique deal for "The Simpsons" was aided by the fact that the animated staple had been kept off cable due to Twentieth's original 1993 broadcast syndication deals with TV stations. At the time, an animated series hadn't been syndicated in the modern era, giving stations enough leverage to demand exclusivity as long as the show was still in originals on Fox. In recent years Twentieth amended that wording in its station deals, finally allowing a cable sale.

Negotiations for the "Simpsons" deal took place over the last month-and-a-half. "The moment we knew it was available for us to go get it, we went after it," Saftler says. "It was really important for us to bring it home."

Michael Schneider is the Los Angeles Bureau Chief of TV Guide magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @franklinavenue

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Anderson Cooper Mocks Miss Universe Contestant, Offends Her Country

Anderson Cooper is in hot water after he mocked a contestant in last weekend's Miss Universe competition during his CNN show "AC 360." TVNewser.com reports that Cooper mocked the costume worn by Miss Peru, Cindy Mejia, in the beauty pageant.

Cooper, during his "Ridiculist" segment on Wednesday, singled out the costume, noting, "What says Peru more than colorful flowers in what appears to be a plastic little old man baby on her shoulder wearing a hat.”

Peru's media voiced outrage, with a number of outlets demanding an apology, the story reports.

"They say his joke didn’t recognize the fact that Miss Peru’s costume represents the country’s traditional cloth worn by Peruvian women from the Mantaro Valley," the piece notes.

The Huffington Post quotes Cooper saying: "Oh look, the man baby looks surprised! He's got his little, little man baby hand right up there in front of his face like, 'Oh! I'm a little--I'm a man baby from Peru."

The report adds: "'Can we see that again?' Cooper insisted, unable to continue talking because of his unstoppable giggles."

The Huffington Post piece notes that "apparently people in Peru weren't laughing. The Latino Daily News reported on Wednesday that nearly all of the daily papers in Peru are dominated with stories on the 'audacity of CNN’s Anderson Cooper.'"

cindy mejia-miss universe-miss peru.pngCindy Mejia, Miss Peru in the Miss Universe competition

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Miley Cyrus Confirms She Smoked a Joint at MTV's EMAs -- and Reveals What Happened Afterward

Miley Cyrus said the cigarette she lit up on stage at the MTV's Europe Music Awards actually contained marijuana, and that she smoked it because "I knew the fans in Amsterdam would love it," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Earshot.

Cyrus, who made her comments on the UK"s Capital FM radio station, said she didn't give the reaction to the stunt a lot of thought.

"It's not something that I think about," she said, referring to the media reaction. "I was just walking out of my room and then I was like, 'Oh, I have this in my bag. That will be really funny.' And I didn't say anything to anybody. It's not that I think about that ... and I don't tell anyone I'm gonna do it."

After the show, she said, there was discussion about what to do with the joint. "You know, afterwards we had the joint and we're all, 'Should we keep this as, like, the joint?' And then we're like, 'No, it's fine, just smoke it, just finish it off,' " she said.

Cyrus hinted that too much is made of the stunt element in her performances, saying: "Some people I think overthink so much. ... That's not why I do it. I just did it mostly because I knew the fans in Amsterdam would love it, and they started going crazy when I did it. … But I don't really care what the media says because I don't Google myself, so I don't know what they say. And I don't care."

miley cyrus joint.jpgMiley Cyrus smokes "the joint"

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NBC Orders Series Starring TV Comedy Veteran

NBC has ordered a comedy series starring a comedian who has been a part of the TV landscape for decades. Deadline.com reports that the network ordered 12 episodes of "Working the Engels," which will star Andrea Martin.

Martin was a mainstay of the sketch comedy show "SCTV, which had a run on Canadian television going back to the 1970s and aired on NBC in the early 1980s. She also has a career on stage and in movies, including "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." She recently won a Tony Award as best featured actress in a musical for "Pippin."

Martin's other TV work includes "Sesame Street," where she's Wanda the Word Fairy, and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."

The new comedy series, written and created by Katie Ford and Jane Ford, is about a family that has to come together to keep financially solvent when its bread-winning father passes away, the story reports. Martin will play the family matriarch.

The project is co-produced by NBC with Core Media/Noreen Halpern's Halfire-CORE Entertainment, and Canada's Shaw Media, the story says.

andrea martin.pngAndrea Martin

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Pioneering TV Journalist Dies at 84

A journalist who was one of the first to cover television and who created a TV encyclopedia has died. The New York Times reports that Les Brown died after battling lung cancer. He was 84.

"When Mr. Brown became an entertainment reporter for Variety in 1953, his television duties were subordinate to covering radio. That quickly changed as TV became dominant," the story notes.

Brown went on to write for The New York Times, covering the industry as it grew from just a few networks into the expanding universe of cable channels in the 1980s, the piece adds.

"He brought a narrative sweep and life to network thinking in the executive office, but then after that he took a step back and looked from a longer perspective," Ron Simon, curator of television and radio at the Paley Center for Media, told The Times.

In 1981, Brown created Channels of Communications, one of the earliest publications to cover the industry with an analytic viewpoint. While there, he recruited journalists including Michael Pollan, James Traub and Walter Karp, the piece notes.

His output included seven books, including 1971's "Televi$ion: The Business Behind the Box."

Commenting on "Les Brown's Encyclopedia of Television, The Times notes, "His most ambitious project was his TV encyclopedia, the first edition of which was published in 1978 under the auspices of The Times. (Two more followed.) The books provided deeply researched profiles of the networks, entries on major and minor stars and industry figures, and definitions of insider argot like 'cume' (for cumulative audience) and 'pocketpiece' ('the definitive weekly network rating report' that 'was designed to fit in the inside coat pocket of the network salesmen')."

Brown also foresaw the expansion of the cable industry, which he worried would give too much power to cable companies. In 1982, he wrote, "They’re like tines of a rake. They all meet at the handle. And the handle is the guy who owns the cable system.”

les brown-NY Times.jpgLes Brown

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Andy Kaufman's 'Daughter' Is a Hoax, His Brother Says

Michael Kaufman, the brother of comedian Andy Kaufman, said he believes he's the victim of a hoax that is designed to make him believe his brother is still alive and is the father to a young woman, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"I believe I am part of the hoax," Kaufman said Thursday on CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper." "I don't believe that [the woman claiming to be Andy Kaufman's daughter] is acting on her own, though."

As previously reported, Michael Kaufman told an audience at a comedy club on Monday that he received a letter from his brother 15 years after his death, and introduced a woman who claimed to be Andy Kaufman's daughter. The comedian died in 1984 of lung cancer.

But the woman who claimed to be Andy Kaufman's daughter is actually an actress, whose father is a Manhattan doctor, according to a report on The Smoking Gun. Her real name is Alexandra Tatarsky. The publication claimed that Michael Kaufman recruited her to play the role of Andy Kaufman's daughter.

Michael Kaufman denied The Smoking Gun's claim that he hired the actress, THR notes.

Separately, Andy Kaufman's last girlfriend, Lynne Margulies, tells TMZ that she was in the hospital room when Kaufman died.

"I was in the hospital room. I was there. They would have had to switch bodies," she told the publication. She added that Andy Kaufman has a daughter named Maria, who is in her 40s, and that he had no other children.

andy kaufman 2.pngAndy Kaufman

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Jack Black and Tim Robbins Team Up for HBO Project

HBO has cast actors Jack Black and Tim Robbins in a new project. Deadline.com reports that the project is a comedy pilot directed by Jay Roach and written by former "Weeds" executive producer Roberto Benabib.

Called "The Brink," the project is a dark comedy about a geopolitical crisis. Robbins plays U.S. Secretary of State Walter Hollander, while Black portrays a Foreign Service officer who is caught up in the events.

jack black.jpgJack Black

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George Lopez Has a New Scripted Project in the Works

Comedian George Lopez has a new project in development at the CW. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the show is a Latina-focused musical drama called "Star Crazy."

The drama is about a young singer who grows up in poverty but ends up becoming the nation's darling, the story says. Bob Brush of "The Wonder Years" is writing the script, along with actress Mel Harris. Brush, Harris, Lopez and Leslie Kolins Small, the president of Lopez' Travieso Productions, will executive produce.

The piece adds: "For the CW, 'Star Crazy' comes just as the younger-skewing network also is developing a 'Fame'-like drama from Debbie Allen and Sam Haskell. Both projects come as music-themed series continue to generate buzz, with Fox's 'Glee' currently airing its fifth season on Fox and ABC's 'Nashville' in the midst of its sophomore run."

george lopez.pngGeorge Lopez

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NBC Developing Comedy From Bill Lawrence

NBC is developing a comedy produced by "Scrubs" creator Bill Lawrence and written by "Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous" co-creator Dan Lagana, reports Deadline.com.

Called "Stand-Up Guy," the show is about a comedian who balances his aspirations as a stand-up comedian with his home life. Lawrence's Doozer and Warner Bros. TV are producing, while Lawrence, Lagana and Jeff Ingold will executive produce.

Lawrence is also the co-creator of "Cougar Town" and "Spin City."

bill lawrence.pngBill Lawrence

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AMC Renews Drama Series, Extends Its Season

AMC is bringing back a drama series and giving the show a longer season. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that the cable channel will bring back the Western series "Hell on Wheels" for a fourth season that will extend for 13 episodes, rather than the usual 10.

"Hell on Wheels" grew its audience during its third season, averaging 3.3 million viewers per episode.

"During its third season, AMC moved the series out of its traditional Sunday night home, where viewers have been trained to look for all of AMC's big dramas such as 'Breaking Bad' and 'The Walking Dead,' and put it on Saturday nights," the story reports. "The move worked, as the series picked up a larger audience."

Set in the 1800s, the series is about the construction of the first transcontinental railroad.

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Our Favorite (and Funniest) Non-TV Story of the Week: JPMorgan Humiliates Itself in Front of All of Twitter

It may have been the worst idea of the year. Here's the setup. On Wednesday morning, Nov. 13, 2013, someone at JPMorgan tweeted: "Tomorrow at 1pm ET $JPM Vice Chairman Jimmy Lee takes over @JPMorgan to answer your questions for 1 hour. Tweet your Q early using #AskJPM."

According to an article on Salon.com (from which we stole part of our headline),  here are some of the questions that were tweeted to #AskJPM:

Were you embarrassed when even the usually-silent @USOCC asked Jamie Dimon to step down from the Bank Unit? … #AskJPM

Do you have an org chart that's perfectly analogous to the criminal underworld - capo, made man - or do you just wing it? #AskJPM

When you robosigned credit card docs, did you think you were going to have to shutter the litigation group?… #AskJPM

Does it feel better paying the biggest bank fines in history so far, or did the satisfaction of the crimes outweigh the fines? #AskJPM

Why aren't you in jail for sending a literal ton of gold bullion to Iran in violation of sanctions? #AskJPM

#AskJPM why did u think this would be a good idea

Finally, someone at JPMorgan sent this tweet at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon:

Tomorrow's Q&A is cancelled. Bad Idea. Back to the drawing board.

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'Daily Show' Correspondent Gets His Own Show on HBO

One of the popular correspondents on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" has been hired by HBO to host his own show on the pay cabler, reports our friend Cynthia Littleton at Variety.

Littleton writes that John Oliver's "move to topline his own series was only a matter of time after his well-received stint substituting for Jon Stewart this summer. HBO said Thursday that Oliver will host a weekly topic comedy series to air on Sunday nights starting next year. The lanky, energetic Brit has been widely praised for his sharp take on American pop culture and for his ability to pull off absurdist stunts in interviews and field reporting assignments for 'Daily Show.' "

Littleton then quotes HBO's president of original programming, Michael Lombardo, as saying, “We weren’t otherwise searching for another weekly talk show, but when we saw John Oliver handling host duties on ‘The Daily Show,’ we knew that his singular perspective and distinct voice belonged on HBO."

Here's a fun John Oliver highlight reel that Comedy Central put together:

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Sad News, as One of L.A.'s Best Known Business Writers Dies of a Massive Stroke: Mark Lacter Was 59

"The news couldn’t have come as more of a shock: Yesterday, Mark Lacter, Los Angeles magazine’s business columnist, died of a massive stroke. He was a mere 59. I began editing Mark’s column when he came to the magazine eight years ago. Whether he was writing about boutique banks, Hollywood production flights, the middle-class squeeze, or LAX, Mark had a singular ability to boil down complicated details into a narrative that was easy to follow and a pleasure to read."

So reads the obituary by Los Angeles magazine's executive editor Matthew Segal.

Lacter's mellifluous voice was also familiar to the listeners of NPR's KPCC, which serves Southern California. Lacter did regular business commentaries on the station. He also had a blog at LAObserved.com.

As Segal writes, Lacter's skills were "polished over several decades as a writer and editor. Mark worked at the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Daily News and headed the Los Angeles Business Journal for two stints -- one in the ’90s, with a gig [in between] as senior editor at Forbes before returning to the Journal."

Segal ends his column writing: "Mark had been with his wife, the mystery novelist Laura Levine, since 1988. 'He was the best hubby,' she said over the phone today [Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013] from her Westside home. 'He always made me laugh.' Me, too. We’ll all miss him very much. The man was without peer."

We urge you to click on the link above to read Segal's entire tribute to Lacter.

mark-lacter-600.jpgMark Lacter

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Alec Baldwin's Stalker Found Guilty

A 41-year-old Canadian woman was found guilty today of stalking and harassing actor Alec Baldwin and his wife. The New York Times reports that Genevieve Sabourin received a sentence of 210 days in jail before being taken out of the courtroom in handcuffs.

The trial made headlines this week, with Sabourin angering the judge by shouting at Baldwin and his wife, Hilaria, as they testified, as we reported earlier this week, and being cited for contempt of court on Wednesday.

"The judge’s decision ended a week of courtroom drama during which Mr. Baldwin took the stand to describe what he called a 'nightmarish' ordeal with an obsessed stalker," The Times reports.

The report adds: "Ms. Sabourin, a freelance film publicist and aspiring actress, was unrepentant when Judge Robert Mandelbaum asked if she had anything to say before sentencing. 'I haven’t done anything wrong,' she said. 'That’s what I have to say. You are doing a mistake right now.'”

"Judge Mandelbaum said Ms. Sabourin had demonstrated 'a complete lack of respect for the legal system' and had waged a 'relentless and escalating campaign' to annoy and harass Mr. Baldwin and his wife," The Times report adds.

The judge told Sabourin: “The rules of civil society apply to you as to everyone else."

"Ms. Sabourin was found guilty in a bench trial without a jury of several misdemeanors: two counts of stalking, and one count each of attempted aggravated harassment and harassment," the story reports. "She was also convicted of violating an order of protection for Mr. Baldwin and his wife, issued in May 2012, by sending threatening messages on Twitter to Ms. Thomas. The judge had already sentenced her to 30 days in jail this week for contempt of court, and gave her the maximum sentence available for the other charges: 180 days."

Genevieve-Sabourin 2.jpgGenevieve Sabourin

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This is Pretty Weird. Report Says Comedian Andy Kaufman Might Still Be Alive

Comedian and performance artist Andy Kaufman died in 1984 -- or was that just another one of his tricks? CNN reports that rumors are swirling this week that Kaufman faked his death and has been alive all this time.

The rumors were sparked by news that Kaufman's brother has suggested the whole death thing was just another stunt by Andy. Given the comedian's fondness for hoaxes, his death was greeted by skepticism at the time, and conspiracy theories have been around ever since.

The conventional version of the story says Andy Kaufman died of a rare form of cancer at age 35. But his younger brother, Michael, said Andy may have faked the whole thing.

"In a tale almost as outlandish as his brother's skits, Michael Kaufman told an audience at a New York comedy club Monday night that he received a letter from his brother 15 years after his death. He then introduced a woman he said was his brother's daughter born in 1989," CNN reports.

"Michael Kaufman explained he was going through Andy's writings many years ago and found a reference to him 'talking about faking his death,' including the line, 'I will reappear.' It said Andy's reappearance would take place at a restaurant on Christmas Eve in 1999."

The report adds: "When Michael Kaufman went to the restaurant, he said, a parking attendant gave him a letter purportedly from his brother. Michael Kaufman read the letter to the audience at Monday's annual Andy Kaufman Awards show."

Michael Kaufman read: "It was too much pressure to be Andy Kaufman. I just wanted to be Andy. I think that's why I got sick. I had to change completely and quickly. I'm extremely very happily married with the most wonderful wife in the whole wide world and with the two greatest kids: a 10-year-old daughter and a son who is 8."

The story reports: "Michael Kaufman said he was 'obviously moved by this, but I'm also real skeptical.' He then introduced a 24-year-old woman as Andy's now-grown daughter."

CNN adds: "Michael Kaufman told the audience the woman approached him about a month after his father, Stanley Kaufman, died this summer: 'She told me a lot of secrets that Andy and I had together, like our secret handshake, the way Andy made fun of me for being too nice of a guy.'"

CNN notes that today the website The Smoking Gun "reported that the woman is a young actress who posed as the comedian's daughter and that she's really the daughter of a 58-year-old psychologist."

The comedian's old foil from the world of wrestling, pro wrestler Jerry Lawler, commented on the rumors to CNN, saying: "I would like nothing better than to know that Andy was still alive and been with us all this time. But like anybody else, I really don't know any more than what I've heard.

"It could be a great hoax in his honor, dreamed up by his friend Bob Zmuda and his brother, Michael. That would be something that would be in keeping with Andy's tradition, but who's to say. It could really be legit."

The CNN report adds: "Kaufman's manager George Shapiro was at the comedian's side at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on May 16, 1984. 'Andy's very much alive in our hearts, but I don't think his body is around,' Shapiro told CNN Thursday. 'He died. I was in the hospital.'"

Shapiro added that when he told The New York Times and The Washington Post about Kaufman's death back in 1984, the papers did not want to report it because of Kaufman's history of pranks.

Said Shapiro: "They figured it was a ruse, another Andy Kaufman ploy."

Andy-Kaufman.jpgAndy Kaufman

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Fox's 'X Factor' Rises -- But It's No Match for CBS and ABC Lineups

CBS and ABC finished in a close race for No. 1 in Wednesday prime time, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo, while a surge in viewers for "The X Factor" wasn't enough to let Fox keep pace.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that CBS won the night with a 2.4 average rating in viewers 18-49, edging ABC's 2.2 average. Fox followed with a 1.7, then NBC (1.4) and Univision (1.3).

CBS was comfortably ahead in total viewers, averaging 10.6 million for prime time, followed by ABC (7.1 million), Fox (5.8 million), NBC (5.4 million) and Univision (3.6 million).

Fox's "The X Factor" showed signs of life, adding 13% from last week to average a 1.7 in 18-49.

CBS was led by "Criminal Minds" with a 2.7 average in adults 18-49, up 17% from last week. "Survivor" slipped 4% to a 2.4 average, and "CSI" rose 6% to a 1.9.

ABC had the top-rated show on broadcast prime, as "Modern Family" returned from a hiatus to a 3.8 average in 18-49, down 3% from the show's previous original. The rest of the lineup was up: "The Middle" gained 5% to record a 2.3 average, "Back in the Game" was up 6% with a 1.8, "Super Fun Night" surged 24% to a 2.1 and "Nashville" climbed 7% to a 1.5.

Fourth-place NBC was mostly steady, with "Revolution" remaining at last week's series low with a 1.4 average in viewers 18-49, "Dateline" equaling last week's 1.1 and "Law & Order: SVU" rising 7% to a 1.6.

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Shocker: Why Millions of Us, Who Thought We Saw Jack Ruby Kill Lee Harvey Oswald Live, on TV, Didn't. The Tricks of Memory

By Chuck Ross

Images of what transpired live, on TV, in the hours and days after President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed almost 50 years ago, on Nov. 22, 1963, seem to be indelibly etched in our collective memories.

One of those moments was watching Walter Cronkite taking off his glasses as he announced, live, on CBS, that JFK was dead.

Equally indelible is the image so many of us have (and our late parents or grandparents told us they had) of watching -- again, live, as it happened -- Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement of the Dallas police station on Sunday, Nov. 24, 1963.

Here's why millions of us who were watching CBS's coverage that day actually did NOT see it live, according to Dan Rather, who was reporting from Dallas at the time:
  
My job on that Sunday morning ... I had become, over the days of the assassination, the sub-anchor, if you will [of our CBS News assassination coverage]. Walter Cronkite and Harry Reasoner and other people in New York were handling the main anchor duties at CBS News world headquarters in New York.

We had set up shop, if you will, at our local station at KRLD. ... The plan was for New York to throw the coverage to me in Dallas. … I would narrate the [live feed of the] transfer of the prisoner [Oswald] from the police headquarters to the city jail. I was at the local station prepared to do the narration of the whole transfer. That’s where I was.

I had great difficulty getting my head around the fact that this person [Ruby] had appeared out of nowhere in the basement of the police station and assassinated the man alleged to be the assassin [of the president]. It was almost incredible, and [my] first thought was, ‘Did I see what I thought I saw?’ And of course in the next nanosecond, ‘Of course you did.’ And I was screaming for New York to come to us. They had not come to us live. They were in the midst of reading an essay and memorial to President Kennedy. But they came quickly, and we turned around the videotape and, of course, the country saw what had happened.”

Later Rather said that NBC carried Ruby’s shooting of Oswald live, “but [not] CBS, as I explained, because Harry Reasoner had an essay about President Kennedy that he insisted upon reading, and the powers that be in Washington [at CBS News] said ‘Okay.’ We’d covered a church service in Washington, at the National Cathedral, I think, about President Kennedy, and the plan was to go from the church service to come to Dallas for the transfer of the prisoner. Reasoner had this essay he had written -- he was a good writer and he was proud of his writing and he wanted to read this essay. So while the assassination of Oswald was happening, we were in the middle of a Harry Reasoner essay in New York. As I say, I was screaming for them to come to us. They eventually did. ... So the assassination [of Oswald] was seen live on some television, but that particular event was not seen live on CBS News.”

Rather made all these remarks earlier today, Nov. 14, 2013, in a telephone press conference held to promote his AXS TV special “My Days in Dallas: A Remembrance with Dan Rather,” which will air Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, at 8 p.m. ET and 5 p.m. PT.

On Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, TVWeek will post more of Rather’s remarks from the press conference.

ruby shooting oswald-1963.jpgJack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald was shown live on NBC, but not on CBS

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NBC Bringing Back Show It Canceled Three Years Ago

NBC is reviving a series it canceled three years ago. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that the network is reviving the competition show "Last Comic Standing."

The comedy talent competition lasted seven seasons in its first run on NBC, airing from 2003-2010. For its revival, it will have comedian Wanda Sykes on board as an executive producer.

The eighth season will air next summer, although it's not known yet who will host the show. Former hosts include Jay Mohr, Anthony Clark and Bill Bellamy.

Sykes will be joined on the executive producing front by Page Hurwitz of Push It Productions, the company that is run by both Sykes and Hurwitz.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for wanda-sykes.jpgWanda Sykes

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Late-Night Show Canceled

A late-night show that lost much of its audience when it transitioned to a new channel has been canceled. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that "Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell" got the ax.

The show moved in September of this year from cable channel FX to sibling network FXX. As we reported two weeks ago, much of the show's audience appeared to vanish after the move.

"As I pointed out in my post 'The Mystery of 'Totally Biased's Vanishing Audience' two weeks ago, the show has had a very rough sledding in its transition from FX to FXX, drawing something like 12,000 total viewers, 4,000 adults 18-49, 3,000 adults 18-34 and 0 adults 18-24 at 11 p.m. on nights where FXX doesn’t have originals in prime time," Andreeva writes.

She adds: "While a dropoff in moving to FXX, which is carried in 26 million fewer homes than flagship FX, was expected, those public access program-level numbers were puzzling as 'Totally Biased' was a solid and pretty stable ratings performer on FX."

The show's last original episode will air tonight, Thursday, the story says. After that, FXX will air repeats of the show for the rest of the week.

w kamau bell.jpgW. Kamau Bell

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The End of a TV Era: Last Surviving Adult Cast Member From 'I Love Lucy' Dies

An actress who was believed to be the last surviving adult cast member from the groundbreaking CBS comedy "I Love Lucy" has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Shirley Mitchell was 94.

Mitchell died of heart failure, according to her sister-in-law, Oscar-nominated actress Nancy Olson, the piece notes.

Mitchell joined "I Love Lucy" in the 1953-54 season and appeared in three episodes, including one in which she received honest opinions about her new hat and her laugh during a bridge game including Lucy and Ethel. The set-up was that Lucy had bet her husband and her friends Fred and Ethel that she could last 24 hours without lying.

Lucy tells Mitchell's character, "Marion, stop cackling. I’ve been waiting 10 years for you to lay that egg!”

Mitchell was married to Jay Livingston, the composer and lyricist who worked on Oscar-winning songs including "Mona Lisa" and "Que Sera, Sera," the piece notes. They were married from 1992 until he died in 2001.

Mitchell's television roles include Opal Clampett on "The Beverly Hillbillies" and roles on "Please Don't Eat the Daisies," "Petticoat Junction," and "The Red Skelton Hour."

shirley mitchell.jpgShirley Mitchell

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Witchy Rock 'n' Roll Star Headed to 'American Horror Story'

A famous rock 'n' roll singer who has been bewitching audiences for years -- including making an impact on one of the characters on FX's "American Horror Story: Coven" -- is about to turn up on the show.

People magazine reports that Fleetwood Mac veteran Stevie Nicks will make a guest appearance in an unknown role. Nicks already has a connection to the show, as one character in the current season, Misty Day, played by Lily Rabe, "is quite spellbound with Nicks," the story notes.

"Since the October debut of 'American Horror Story's' third season -- which gives viewers a glimpse at a non-Harry Potter world of witchcraft set in the Big Easy -- Misty has made her Fleetwood Mac fangirl status no secret. 'Doesn't it just penetrate your soul?' she gushed in an earlier episode while listening to the decidedly wand-worthy jam, 'Rhiannon,'" the piece reports.

Nicks, of course, has witchy themes running through much of her own work, with her music copyrighted under the name Welsh Witch Music and one of her most famous songs with Fleetwood Mac, "Rhiannon," being about a Welsh witch, according to song introductions by Nicks. The singer, however, has long denied rumors that she is a witch or has an interest in Wicca.

The guest-starring role was announced by creator Ryan Murphy via Twitter. Murphy, the co-creator of "Glee," featured the Fleetwood Mac album "Rumours" on one of the Fox show's episodes.

stevie nicks.JPGStevie Nicks

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Syfy Developing Series Based on a Literary Work Many of Us Had to Read in School

Syfy has a drama project in development based on an old piece of literature that has been on a lot of educators' reading lists. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel is working on a series adaptation of the Old English epic poem "Beowulf."

The project will be written by Matt Greenberg of "1408," who will executive produce with Brian Hamilton, Michael Chechik, Andrew Cosby and Paulo de Oliveira, the piece reports. Omni will produce and also distribute with Universal Cable Productions.

"Beowulf," about a hero who battles the monster Grendel, was the subject of a 2007 motion capture film, which bore the same title and was directed by Robert Zemeckis.

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Legal Battle Breaks Out Over 'Doctor Who'

A legal battle has erupted over the BBC series "Doctor Who," and at the center of the dispute is a time-traveling device that is a key player on the show.

The U.K.'s Independent reports that Stef Coburn, a son of the writer of the first "Doctor Who" episode, is claiming the BBC is in breach of copyright for the use of the TARDIS -- the blue police box that serves as the Doctor's time-traveling vehicle. The story reports that Coburn wants the company to pay up or stop using it.

"Stef Coburn claims that upon his father's death, any informal permission his father gave the BBC to use his work expired and the copyright of all of his ideas passed to his widow, Joan. Earlier this year she passed it on to him," the story reports.

Coburn told the publication that he remembered his father, Tony Coburn, speaking with his family about the creation at the dinner table, telling them, "Get a load of this, boys: TARDIS. Time and Relative Dimension in Space." Tony Coburn wrote "An Unearthly Child," the series' first episode, which includes the TARDIS.

"It is by no means my wish to deprive legions of 'Doctor Who' fans (of whom I was never one) of any aspect of their favourite children's program. The only ends I wish to accomplish, by whatever lawful means present themselves, involve bringing about the public recognition that should by rights always have been his due, of my father James Anthony Coburn's seminal contribution to 'Doctor Who,' and proper lawful recompense to his surviving estate," Stef Coburn said.

The BBC said it is looking into Coburn's complaint. It added that there haven't been challenges to the copyright since the BBC registered it in the 1980s. Coburn said if he had owned the rights then, he would have taken action.

His father reportedly came up with the idea after walking on Wimbledon Common and seeing two blue police boxes. "Struck by the alien sight, he says, Coburn was inspired to make them the physical basis of his fantastical machine," the piece notes.

tardis-doctor-who.jpg"Doctor Who's" TARDIS

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NBC Greenlights Maya Rudolph Variety Show

Maya Rudolph, a former cast member of "Saturday Night Live," has received a pilot order from NBC for a new show. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the project is a variety program that will star Rudolph.

The project is produced by "Saturday Night Live" creator Lorne Michaels.

"I hear the plan is to air the pilot as a special after the Winter Olympics. Rudolph is executive producing with Michaels, Erin David and Dave Becky. The project has been in the works for several months," Andreeva writes.

She continues, "When NBC comedy series 'Up All Night', in which Rudolph co-starred with Christina Applegate and Will Arnett, did not go forward with the planned multi-camera revamp in February, Rudolph, along with her co-stars, began fielding pilot offers. Rudolph didn’t entertain them, indicating to studios and networks that she was interested in doing a variety show instead. NBC was among several suitors who began pursuing the project, leading to the pilot order."

Thumbnail image for maya-rudolph.jpgMaya Rudolph

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Discovery Rolling Out New Series Called 'Dude, You're Screwed!'

Discovery will debut a new series next month called "Dude, You're Screwed!" EW.com's Inside TV reports that the program is a survival series that will feature five survival experts trying to find their way out of harsh environments.

The experts have backgrounds such as the Navy SEALs and the Green Berets. They will be dropped in extreme locations such as a glacier or jungle, and must find their way to civilization within 100 hours.

The show will debut Sunday, Dec. 8, at 10 p.m., and will have a second window on Animal Planet next year, the story adds.

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NBCUniversal Takes Over Children's Channel

NBCUniversal has bought out its partners in a children's channel, taking sole ownership of the venture. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Comcast-owned NBCU bought out the stakes of PBS and HIT Television Ventures in the kids' channel Sprout.

The network debuted in 2005 as a venture among Comcast, PBS, Sesame Workshop and HIT Entertainment. The 24-hour network focuses on children 2-5 years old and their caregivers.

"We see enormous potential in Sprout, and we are committed to our investment in the kids and family arena,” said Bonnie Hammer, chairman of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. “This acquisition furthers our strategy to create and deliver the very best content across all of our audiences.”

Shows on Sprout include "The Chica Show" and a library of shows including "Caillou" and "Sesame Street."

chica show.jpg

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Discredited Benghazi Report Under Review by '60 Minutes'

The discredited report on the terrorist attacks in Benghazi is under review by "60 Minutes," reports Bill Carter in The New York Times.

"The moment we confirmed there was an issue in our story, we began a journalistic review that is ongoing," the show said in a statement.

Lara Logan, the correspondent who worked on the report, gave a short apology on-air during Sunday's episode, although she didn't mention an internal review, the story says.

"In that appearance at the end of Sunday’s show, Ms. Logan said that Dylan Davies, one of the main sources for the Benghazi report, had misled the program’s staff. 'It was a mistake to include him in our report. For that, we are very sorry,' Ms. Logan said," Carter writes.

Thumbnail image for lara logan.jpgLara Logan

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Lifetime Orders Fashion Show From 'Project Runway' Mentor

Lifetime has picked up a fashion competition show hosted by "Project Runway" mentor Tim Gunn, which will be called "Under the Gunn," reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

Gunn will oversee the work of three previous "Project Runway" competitors: Mondo Guerra, Anya Ayoung-Chee and Nick Verreos.

"Those three have already proved their fashion mettle but must now prove to Gunn that they can manage a thriving fashion business," the story reports. "To wit, they'll be mentoring 15 up-and-coming designers whom Gunn will present with increasingly difficult challenges each week."

The show will debut Jan. 16 and is set to run for 13 episodes.

tim gunn.pngTim Gunn

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GSN Sues Gaming Company

GSN, the game show network, has filed a lawsuit against Bash Gaming, claiming the network was about to acquire the company for as much as $160 million when Bash pulled out at the last possible second and agreed to be bought by another buyer, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq.

GSN claims Bash Gaming, which makes casino games for social and mobile platforms, had agreed verbally and in principle to the acquisition. But at the last second, Bash instead made a deal with an unidentified purchaser, the story reports.

The lawsuit, filed against Bash Gaming, two executives and The Raine Group, asks to enforce the terms of the sale, and seeks damages of at least $25,000. GSN is also seeking "an amount equal to the difference between what it was to pay for Bash and what the third party is paying, which would have been its immediate upside in the value of the transaction," the story adds.

The piece notes: "According to the suit, negotiations for GSN to buy Bash, whose top seller is a cross-platform bingo gaming product -- Bingo Bash -- began in summer 2012. GSN said it wanted to acquire Bash to expand its reach to mobile customers."

The lawsuit also alleges that Bash agreed not to negotiate a purchase with any other party before the closing, the story adds.

GSN is a joint venture between Sony Corp. and DirecTV. Requests for comment from Bash, its executives and Raine didn't receive a response, according to the piece.

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We'd Like to Add a Clever Retort, But This Non-TV Headline of the Day Left Us Nonplussed: 'Secret Service Agent Removed After Leaving Bullet in Woman's Hotel Room'

"A year after a prostitution scandal rocked the Secret Service, the agency is dealing with a new embarrassment after a senior supervisor was removed from his position for trying to retrieve a bullet he left in a woman's hotel room, a source told NBC News."

Thus begins a story this morning, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, by Kristen Welker and Alexander Smith, posted on NBCNews.com.

The article continues: "Ignacio Zamora oversaw two dozen agents in the president's security detail before the incident at Washington's luxury Hay-Adams Hotel in May, according to the Washington Post.

"An investigation into Zamora's conduct at the hotel revealed that he and another supervisor...had sent 'sexually aggressive' emails to a female subordinate, the newspaper reported."

The NBC News story adds, "A source familiar with the matter told NBC News that Zamora was off-duty when he met a woman at the hotel, which overlooks the White House. After he left, he realized he had left a bullet in her room and went back to the hotel and asked the front desk if he could retrieve it, the source said.

"The Post reported that the agent tried to get into the woman's room to retrieve the bullet and she would not open the door. A report of the incident led to Zamora being punished internally."

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Mariah Carey: Being on 'American Idol' 'Was Like Going to Work Every Day in Hell With Satan.' Then She Conceded It Wasn't That Bad, Adding, Though, 'Honestly, I Hated It.' (Hmm. If We Were Paid $18 Million for a Gig We'd Be a Little More Gracious ...)

During a radio interview music superstar Mariah Carey said about being a judge on "American Idol" last season, "I hated it," reports People.

The article continues,"'I thought it was going to be a three-person panel," [Carey] admitted, thinking she'd have fun working with her longtime friend Randy Jackson. 'But it wasn't that.'

"Carey continued: 'It was like going to work every day in hell with Satan.' Carey then put a gloved hand over her eyes and laughed. 'I'm just playing. It didn't affect me that much,' she continued. 'I was disappointed.'"

Later in the interview Carey let loose with this zinger, according to People: "Some of [the contestants] were so good and also really good people. It was disappointing when they would, for political reasons, not put people through."

Carey made her comments on New York radio station Hot 97, on a program with Angie Martinez.

According to another People article, this one from last year, Carey was paid close to $18 milllion for her one-season appearance on "Idol."

While "Idol" was a top-5 show in the ratings last season, "In two years, [the show's] average audience has dropped by 10 million viewers, from 23.1 million viewers to 13.2 million," according to The Hollywood Reporter. Furthermore, the THR article notes, the median age of an 'Idol' viewer last season was 51.2 years old.

mariah carey-2013.pngMariah Carey

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ABC Drama Sinks to Series Low -- Along With Fox's Full Prime-Time Lineup

An ABC drama series fell to a series ratings low Tuesday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo, as NBC eked out a narrow win over CBS for prime time overall. Meanwhile, the entire Fox prime-time lineup set or equaled series lows.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that ABC's "Marvels Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." fell to a series-low 2.2 average in 18-49, shedding 12% from a week ago.

Other ABC programs showed improvement. "The Goldbergs" rose 13% from its series low a week ago, delivering a 1.7 average in the 18-49 demo, and "Trophy Wife" climbed 9% to a 1.2. The special program "Scandal for Real: The Top 10 Political Scandals of the Century" scored a 0.8, improving 14% on the number delivered by a Robin Roberts special in the 10 p.m. time slot a week ago.

The results for Fox were grim. "Dads" lost 14% from the previous week to set a series low with a 1.2 in 18-49, "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" equaled its series low with a 1.4, falling 13% from a week ago, "New Girl" dipped to a new series low with a 1.7, off 15%, and "The Mindy Project" matched its series low, a 1.3, losing 13%.

NBC had mixed results, with "The Biggest Loser" falling 10% from last week in the 18-49 demo to a 1.9, "Chicago Fire" rising 5% to a 2.0 and "The Voice" holding steady with a 3.4.

Second-place CBS got consistent numbers out of its drama lineup: a 2.9 for "NCIS" in adults 18-49, the same as last week; a 2.4 for "NCIS: Los Angeles," also matching last week's number; and a 2.0 for "Person of Interest," up 5%.

For prime time overall, NBC's 2.5 average rating in viewers 18-49 was just good enough to win the night, topping CBS (2.4 average), ABC (1.5), Fox (1.4) and Univision (1.3). But CBS finished with a huge lead in total viewers, averaging 15.5 million to lead NBC (8.5 million), ABC (4.6 million), Univision (3.6 million) and Fox (3.1 million).

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Accused Alec Baldwin Stalker Cited for Contempt of Court

A woman who is on trial for allegedly harassing and stalking actor Alec Baldwin received a jail sentence today for contempt of court, CNN reports.

As we reported yesterday, Genevieve Sabourin repeatedly disrupted the proceedings Tuesday, yelling out as Baldwin and his wife, Hilaria, testified and accusing them of lying.

Sabourin got her chance to testify today, and described a romantic date with Baldwin "that she says ended with sex and a promise of lifelong omelets," CNN reports.

Baldwin denied under oath Tuesday that he has ever had a romantic relationship with Sabourin -- prompting a series of outbursts from Sabourin, who was eventually ushered out of court by her attorney.

"Sabourin's impatience earned her a contempt of court citation and 30-day jail term Wednesday morning as she repeatedly interrupted another witness, saying at times, 'I want to testify,'" CNN reports. "Sabourin was warned by the judge repeatedly during the first day of testimony Tuesday about her outbursts as she listened to a teary Baldwin deny having had a romance with his alleged stalker."

The doorman at Baldwin's New York apartment building testified about an incident involving Sabourin on April 8, 2012.

CNN reports: "The actor's wife, Hilaria Baldwin, who was then engaged to him, told the doorman that Sabourin was a stalker and that she would call police, he testified. Sabourin called Hilaria a prostitute and another derogatory term before leaving the building, the doorman said."

Sabourin testified about what she says was a romantic dinner and evening together for her and Alec Baldwin on Feb. 18, 2011.

"Baldwin picked her up at her hotel at 7:30 p.m. and the couple attended a Broadway play, she testified. Afterward, they shared an intimate dinner, eating off of each other's plate, she said. She drank chardonnay, while Baldwin had water," CNN reports. "They took a cab back to her hotel, where Baldwin suggested one last glass of water, she testified. The next several hours were spent in her hotel room where they made love and he made a promise, she said."

Sabourin said Baldwin told her: "I make the best omelets in the world and I'd be happy to make you omelets every morning for the rest of your life."

CNN adds: "Sabourin began crying at that point of her testimony, complaining how everyone finds their love, as companions, but that she now knows she made the wrong choice with Baldwin."

Baldwin has testified that Sabourin imagined the relationship.

"Baldwin has admitted they had dinner once in 2010, but said that was it. They met through a mutual friend, he said," CNN reports, adding: "Both Baldwin and Sabourin worked on the 2002 flop 'The Adventures of Pluto Nash.'"

Sabourin faces up to a year in prison if she is found guilty of stalking.

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CBS Will Rush New Action Thriller Into the Lineup

A drama series that is waiting in the wings at CBS will bow sooner than previously scheduled, including a special preview. The network announced that "Intelligence," starring Josh Holloway, will get a preview Tuesday, Jan. 7, at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

The preview will air following an original installment of "NCIS." The show will move Jan. 13 to its regular time slot, Monday at 10 p.m. "Intelligence" was previously scheduled to roll out Feb. 24.

"Hostages" will end its 15-episode season with a two-hour season finale on Monday, Jan. 6.

CBS describes Holloway's character, Gabriel, as "a high-tech intelligence operative enhanced with a super-computer microchip in his brain. With this implant, Gabriel is the first human ever to be connected directly into the global information grid. He can hack into any data center and access key intel in the fight to protect the United States from its enemies."

Marg Helgenberger makes her return to network TV in the series, playing Lillian Strand, director of the elite government cyber-security agency that supports Gabriel and oversees his unit’s missions.

Also in the cast are Meghan Ory, Michael Rady, John Billingsley and PJ Byrne.

Michael Seitzman, Tripp Vinson and Barry Schindel executive produce the series for ABC Television Studios in association with CBS Television Studios.

josh holloway.jpgJosh Holloway

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Zac Efron Has His Mouth Wired Shut

Actor Zac Efron has had to cancel promotional appearances after having his mouth wired shut. E! News reports that the move came after Efron, who starred in Disney's "High School Musical," broke his jaw over the weekend in a fall at his home.

Efron reportedly slipped in a puddle of water.

"He not only broke his jaw when he fell, but he also suffered a gash that required stitches," the story reports. He is expected to fully recover.

"In the meantime, upcoming plans to promote his new comedy 'That Awkward Moment' have been put on hold. Also starring Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan, the movie follows a group of young guys who vow to stay single. It's set for release in January," the report notes.

Efron also has another movie, "Neighbors," set for release next year.

zac efron.pngZac Efron

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MTV Shakes Things Up for One of Its Most Iconic Shows

A pioneering MTV series is undergoing the first real format change in its history. Writing on EW.com, James Hibberd reports that the upcoming edition of "The Real World" will have a new title and a major plot twist.

"Arguably TV’s second-longest-running reality show (the first would be 'COPS,' which launched in 1989), 'The Real World' will be re-titled 'Real World: Ex-Plosion' when it airs next year," Hibberd reports. "The season begins like any other: Seven young, attractive and single diverse cast-mates from around the country move into a house (first cast photo above). They’ll start to form bonds, with each other and with San Francisco locals. Then, one month into the three-month shoot, they’ll go away for a day trip. When they return, they’re in for a huge shock: Their exes have moved in too."

Created by Jonathan Murray and Mary Ellis-Bunim, the show has been on for 21 years and 28 seasons, Hibberd notes.

Murray indicated the shakeup has to do with other shows -- such as Fox's "Hell's Kitchen" and CBS's "Big Brother" -- finding success by following some of the ideas pioneered by "The Real World."

Said Murray: “When 'The Real World' went on the air in ’92 you put seven diverse people together and you get conflict, and out of that conflict would come change, and then you have a story. Now that it’s 21 years or so later, maybe we’re a bit of a victim of our own success. Diversity is a fact of life today. A lot of young people date people of different races, or have friends who are gay. The world has changed. We’ve had conversations [with the network] throughout 28 seasons of the show, but we’ve never made this big of a commitment to change.”

The show's ratings have slipped, Hibberd notes, with the latest season averaging 1.5 million viewers. MTV, meanwhile, has reduced its order from two cycles a year to just one.

"The Exes twist has been done in reality TV before ('Big Brother‘s' ‘X Factor’ twist in 2003), but Murray suggests the idea came about in a more organic way," Hibberd notes.

Said Murray: “When we cast people we usually always try to cast single people. And they’d say they were single during the casting process. Then the moment they arrived at the house suddenly their ex was back in their life. I don’t know if it’s a safety blanket or that we’re never really done with our exes. When you talk about the age of our cast, their ex is often their first love -- they play a huge role in their life.”

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NBC Fends Off Poaching Attempt by ABC, Renews Deal With 'Today' Host

NBC News has renewed its deal with one of the co-hosts of the "Today" show, fending off an attempt by ABC News to lure her away. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that NBC inked a new deal with Hoda Kotb that will keep her together with Kathie Lee Gifford on the show's fourth hour.

Kotb will also continue to appear on other NBC News outlets, such as "Dateline," the report adds.

The deal comes after Kotb considered an offer from ABC News that would have included a role on "The View." The morning talk show is casting its net during a current transition period, including recently bringing aboard Jenny McCarthy, with a huge change looming when mainstay Barbara Walters retires at the end of this season.

"For NBC News, re-signing Kotb keeps the fourth hour of 'Today' intact. The final hour of the morning franchise -- which airs at 10 a.m. in most markets -- ranks well against its daytime competition, with Kotb and Gifford proving of considerable appeal to daytime's target audience of women 25-54," the piece notes.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for hoda-kotb.jpgHoda Kotb

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Was 'Modern Family' a Bad Investment for NBCU's USA Network?

USA Network paid around $1.4 million an episode to air repeats of "Modern Family," but so far that big bet doesn't appear to be paying off, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The ABC comedy is the centerpiece of USA's prime-time schedule this fall, with the cable network seeking to lure a younger audience with the show.

USA "was so confident 'Modern Family' would do well that it negotiated higher ad rates than advertisers had previously paid for the same prime-time slots occupied last season by shows including reruns of aging crime dramas like 'NCIS' and 'Law & Order: SVU,'" the story notes.

But no one's laughing just six weeks after the debut of the strategy, the piece reports. The comedy is averaging 9% fewer viewers than its time slots delivered last year in the key 18-49 demographic. Total audience, meanwhile, has plunged 40%.

"What's more, the show has delivered only about half the viewers in the 18-to-49 group that USA guaranteed, requiring the cable network to give advertisers 'make goods' -- extra ad time -- to offset the shortfalls, media buyers say," the piece reports.

One bright spot: Viewership for "Modern Family" has bumped up steadily since it debuted on USA Network. The network says reruns of popular shows still require months to gain traction.

The repeats of "Modern Family" are drawing an audience that's 11 years younger, on average, as well as more affluent and better educated, than the typical USA viewer, the piece notes.

"'Modern Family' has always been a long-term strategic play for us, and we are pleased with its week-to-week double-digit growth," Linda Yaccarino, president of ad sales at parent NBCUniversal, told The Journal.

One issue might be the shift in USA's strategy from being known as a drama network to seeking a foothold in comedy, the piece notes. USA plans to debut its own original sitcoms, and is counting on "Modern Family" to help build an audience.

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CNN Hires Sports Anchor

CNN has announced the hiring of an anchor who will be focused on sports coverage. Jumping to the cable news channel from Golf Channel is Lara Baldesarra.

Baldesarra will join CNN's sports unit in Atlanta. Beginning next month she will anchor "World Sport," the flagship sports news program on CNN International. She will also contribute to sports-related event coverage across all CNN platforms.

In a statement, Bill Galvin, senior vice president of sports programming and development for CNN, said: “We’re thrilled with Lara’s addition to CNN’s global sports operation. Her expertise as a leading voice in the sports world aligns perfectly with CNN’s commitment to providing a thoughtful perspective across a broad range of news and events.”

Baldesarra added in a statement: “I’m passionate about sports and journalism, so I could not be more excited about joining an organization that values and excels in both of these things. CNN is a world-class operation, and I look forward to hitting the ground running.”

At Golf Channel Baldesarra anchored "Golf Central" and hosted "Grey Goose 19th Hole," a weekly interview show.

lara baldesarra-cnn.pngLara Baldesarra

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New Ryan Seacrest Show Gets 40-Episode Order

A new show from Ryan Seacrest has received an order for 40 episodes. The program is a game show with the working title "Go Viral," which was picked up from Ryan Seacrest Productions by Nickelodeon.

The show is set to premiere in summer 2014.

"The half-hour, studio-based game show features kid contestants as they compete in elimination challenges revolving around viral videos," Nickelodeon said in its announcement. "Each round will test kids on these laugh-out-loud videos -- from predicting outcomes to guessing their popularity as voted by the studio audience. Production on the series is slated to commence early next year in Los Angeles."

Making the announcement was Russell Hicks, Nickelodeon’s president of Content Development and Production.

Said Hicks: “We’re excited to be working with Ryan Seacrest Productions on this show that captures pop culture in an exciting new way for kids. Nickelodeon has an undeniable track record in producing hit game shows and we are adapting the format to reflect the way kids consume content today.”

Please click here to read the full press release from Nickelodeon.

Thumbnail image for ryan-seacrest.pngRyan Seacrest

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You Know That Canceled Series ABC Planned to Revive? Not so Fast

After word surfaced last month that ABC was having second thoughts about a series it had canceled -- and a plan was in the works to bring back the show -- now it appears that any plans to resurrect the program are dead.

Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the network has set aside its hopes of bringing back "Body of Proof" for a midseason run, as the plan has run out of time.

"Even if the network and producing studio ABC Studios had figured out a way to make it happen and had actors and writers locked in to start work tomorrow, 'BOP' wouldn’t have been ready to join the schedule until the last week of March," Andreeva writes.

Star Dana Delany tweeted, "Sorry to disappoint some, but #bodyofproof will not be resurrected. May she rest in peace. Time for new adventure.”

Andreeva adds: "Technically, it is possible for ABC and ABC Studios to consider an order for summer or next season but the more time lapses, the harder bringing back key players would be. As Delany indicated, she may take on a new show, which would make her unavailable to 'BOP' and thus seal its fate as her character is the heart of the series."

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High-Profile Bravo Exec Moves Out of the Executive Suite

Bravo has tweaked its arrangement with one of the cable channel's most high-profile personalities and executives. Writing in The New York Times, Bill Carter reports that Bravo gave "Watch What Happens Live" host Andy Cohen a new two-year deal, which will keep him on the show and allow him to develop prime-time shows, but Cohen will also give up his executive position at the network.

Cohen will remain an executive producer on the many versions of the "Real Housewives" franchise, but will give up his role as executive vice president for talent and development at the cable network, the piece reports.

"Mr. Cohen said in an interview that when his show expanded to five nights a week two years ago, it signaled an 'inevitable transition' for him away from his executive work," Carter reports. "But he said he had not given his programming position short shrift, having been instrumental in the development of numerous new shows on Bravo, including 'Married to Medicine,' 'Fashion Queens' and 'Shahs of Sunset.'"

Thumbnail image for andy-cohen.pngAndy Cohen

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Fox Gives Early Pilot Order to Project From 'Big Bang Theory' Star

Fox has given an early pilot order to a comedy from one of the stars of CBS's hit sitcom "The Big Bang Theory." Deadline.com reports that the project comes from "Bang" star Johnny Galecki along with writer Ricky Blitt and producer Stephen McPherson.

"Here's Your Damn Family" has a cast-contingent order, and marks Galecki's first pilot order as a producer, the story says.

"The comedy centers on a stunted, set-in-his-ways thirtysomething man living with his mom who finds his perfectly organized world upended when his mother/roommate gets married, and her new husband plus his three teenage children move in. Blitt, Galecki and McPherson executive produce," the piece notes.

Blitt and Galecki have been friends since working on the 2002 Fox pilot "Becoming Glen," on which Galecki played the title character and Blitt wrote, the piece notes.

johnny galecki.jpgJohnny Galecki

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Outgoing Head of PromaxBDA Lands a New Executive Post

Jonathan Block-Verk, who is exiting as president and CEO of PromaxBDA, as we reported Monday, has his next job lined up. B&C reports that Block-Verk will assume the newly created position of executive VP of strategic partnerships and head of television for Shazam.

The hire is part of Shazam's push to expand its second-screen work TV players, the story reports.

"In the new post, Block-Verk will oversee the company's business relationship with cable, broadcast, programming and multichannel video providers," B&C reports.

Block-Verk had a six-year run leading PromaxBDA.

The B&C report notes: "The hiring of Block-Verk is the most recent example of how Shazam has been bringing in executives with extensive experience in television to bolster its alliances with the broadcast and cable industries. Earlier this year, Shazam hired Kevin McGurn, formerly of Hulu, as its new chief revenue officer and Daniel Danker, formerly of the BBC, as its new chief product officer."

In a statement, Shazam CEO Rich Riley said: "Shazam is aggressively working with leading networks and production companies to drive ratings, engagement and revenue for our TV partners while providing an exceptional experience for consumers. From driving tune-in for shows like 'Almost Human' and 'Sleepy Hollow,' to integrated content such as voting for 'The X-Factor' or real-time scores for the U.S. Open, Shazam is a leader of the second screen. We are especially proud of our most recent success with a half a million Shazams of the Country Music Awards broadcast. With his extensive experience working with industry leaders, Jonathan is going to be a tremendous leader of our efforts around TV."

Block-Verk added in a statement: "I have spent my career working at the intersection of media, technology and audience engagement, helping the world's most innovative television and advertising executives contextualize and embrace the evolving media landscape. I couldn't be more excited to join the Shazam team, working with the television industry to successfully -- and profitably -- take advantage of this incredible new platform that is already redefining the future of our business."

jonathan block-verk2.pngJonathan Block-Verk

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Key Player on 'Orange Is the New Black' Signs On for More Episodes

A TV veteran who played a key role on season one of Netflix's "Orange Is the New Black" has signed on for more than the single episode that had been slated to tie up her story. BuzzFeed reports that actress Laura Prepon will return to the show for at least a multiple-episode arc.

"According to sources close to the show, Prepon will now return for four -- I repeat, four -- of the 13-episode second season of Jenji Kohan’s original Netflix series. Prepon begins filming in New York this week," the story reports. "As far as Prepon’s future with 'OITNB,' she is currently negotiating her Season 3 status, which could lead to a more sustained presence for her."

When Prepon, known for "That '70s Show" and "October Road," took the role of Alex Vause, she signed a contract for only the first season, the piece notes.

"Having completed the season loving the character but not the bleak prison setting, along with her desire to direct her first movie this year (as she told Vulture in August), Prepon decided she didn’t want the commitment of being a series regular," the article reports.

The piece adds, "Luckily for the Prepon faithful -- and perhaps for Netflix and Lionsgate -- scheduling around directing her first feature has ended up not being a conflict."

laura prepon.pngLaura Prepon

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First Project From Paramount's Rebooted TV Unit Is a Small-Screen Adaptation of a Hit 1990 Movie

Paramount's relaunched television division is working on a small-screen version of a hit 1990 movie. Deadline.com reports that the unit has an adaptation in the works for "Ghost," which starred the late Patrick Swayze as a murdered man who taps a psychic to reconnect with his fiancee.

The movie, which won a supporting actress Oscar for Whoopi Goldberg (who played the psychic) and another for best original screenplay, is known for its use of "Unchained Melody" during a love scene between Swayze and his fiancee, played by Demi Moore.

The adaptation signals that Paramount will tap into its movie library to create series, the story notes. Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman will co-write the script with showrunner Jeff Pinkner.

Paramount formally restarted the TV unit in July, after being without one since the 2005 split between Viacom and CBS. Last season, Paramount worked with Sony TV on a pilot based on the "Beverly Hills Cop" film.

patrick-swayze-demi-moore-ghost.jpgPatrick Swayze and Demi Moore in "Ghost"

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Netflix Tweaks Interface for TV Viewing

Netflix has changed its interface for watching the streaming service on a television set, in a move designed to prompt more viewing, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"Starting now, subscribers who watch Netflix via various TV devices will see three large, automatically rotating images for every title they select (the first one's provided by the content partner and the second and third are selected by Netflix), accompanied by a short, punchy synopsis about each TV show or movie," the story says. "Viewers will also be able to easily access recommendation tools like awards won by a particular title, how a movie or TV show relates to what you've already watched and whether your Facebook friends have seen something you're considering."

Netflix has also eliminated the red Netflix screen that's shown after pressing play, which makes the streaming faster, the story adds.

Subscribers who watch online or through tablet or smartphone apps won't see the new design, although the company may add it later, the story says.

"The general thematic notion of being rich and cinematic and stepping out of the way and letting people make this connection with the content is a theme that you can certainly see us explore across various different devices, updating the apps over time," Netflix VP of product innovation Chris Jaffe told THR.

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Reboot of 1980s Horror Anthology Coming to TV

A series that frightened television viewers in the 1980s is in the works for a broadcast remake. EW.com's Inside TV reports that the CW is working on a reboot of George A. Romero's horror anthology "Tales From the Darkside."

The writer will be Joe Hill, the acclaimed horror novelist and the son of Stephen King. Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, executive producers of Fox's "Sleepy Hollow," are also working on the project.

"That’s about all we know at this early stage. Except for, perhaps, that it will likely feature plenty of ridiculously hot young characters being menaced by supernatural forces, given that the project is at the CW (a fashion magazine assistant with a haunted Twitter account is surely a first-season episode). The official logline is that the series is a 'reinvention of the horror/fantasy/thriller anthology series,'" the piece adds.

The original series ran in syndication and was on TV for four seasons, from 1984-1988, following a pilot that aired in 1983. The project reportedly grew out of the success of the 1982 feature "Creepshow," which was also a horror anthology, written by Stephen King and directed by Romero.

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Non-Wizard Story of the Day: 'Muggles Rejoice! Butterbeer Is Now Being Served at Starbucks.' But You'll Need a Secret Password to Order It

The part of the headline in quotes, above, was one we found in a recent entry on the Entertainment Weekly Popwatch blog.

The story says: "Butterbeer, the beloved drink that Harry, Ron, Hermione and so many others down regularly throughout the Harry Potter books, is coming to Starbucks, per a note at Dalebacar.com."

The aricle continues: "The item won’t be on the menu though; instead Muggles will have to use a secret password (sound familiar?) to access the frothy beverage. The password being the exact recipe below."

Here's the recipe, acccording to the article:

--A Creme Frappuccino base. Whole milk is required for the right consistency.
--Add 3 pumps of caramel syrup.
--Add 3 pumps of toffee nut syrup.
--Top with caramel drizzle

To which we here at TVWeek only have one phrase to add: "Wingardium Leviosa!"

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It's Not Your Imagination That Movies Are Getting More Violent. And Get This: Study Says Movies Rated PG-13 Are More Violent Than R-Rated Ones!

"A Rapid-Fire Surge in PG Violence" screamed one of the front-page headlines in the Los Angeles TImes on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013.

The story, by John Horn and Steven Zeitchik, begins: "When the first 'Die Hard' and 'Terminator' movies landed in theaters in the 1980s, both were rated R. But their sequels arrived with PG-13 marks -- even though the level of violence had actually escalated.

"Critics have blasted Hollywood's movie ratings for years, claiming that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) takes a prudish view of sex and foul language but a very liberal one when it comes to mayhem and bloodshed."

The story continues: "A new report provides strong evidence for that critique, concluding that gunplay has tripled within PG-13 films since 1985, the first full year the rating was used. Last year, PG-13 films were actually more violent than films rated R."

Adds the article: " 'We were absolutely stunned,' said Brad Bushman of Ohio State University, co-author of the report published Monday in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. 'The MPAA website clearly says that R-rated films contain more violence. But PG-13 films now contain significantly more violence than R-rated films.' The MPAA declined to comment."

We urge you to click on the link in the first paragraph, above, to read more details of this story.

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NBC Wins Monday as Shows on CBS and ABC Hit All-Time Lows

NBC coasted to a comfortable ratings win Monday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo, as CBS's "Mom" and "Hostages" and ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" hit series lows.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that ABC's two-hour "Dancing with the Stars" sank to a series low for a Monday with a 1.7 average in 18-49, losing 15% from a week ago. ABC's "Castle" also had a rough night, losing 14% to equal its season low, a 1.9.

CBS's "Mom" came in with a 1.9 in the 18-49 demo, slipping 5% from last week and matching its all-time low. CBS's best number was for "How I Met Your Mother," which lost 9% to turn in a 3.1. "2 Broke Girls" bucked the downtrend, rising 4% to a 2.7, while "Mike & Molly" was off 15% from last week's season premiere, settling for a 2.2.

CBS's "Hostages" equaled last week's number in 18-49, a series-low 1.1.

NBC had the top show on broadcast, its two-hour "The Voice," which delivered a 3.8 in viewers 18-49, rising 6% from the show's season low for a Monday, last week's 3.6 average. "The Blacklist" ticked up 3% to a 3.0 to win the 10 p.m. hour.

Fox's lineup matched last week's numbers -- a 2.5 for "Sleepy Hollow" in adults 18-49, and a 2.0 for "Bones."

For prime time overall, NBC won the 18-49 demo with a 3.5 average, followed by Fox (2.3 average), CBS (2.0), ABC (1.8) and Univision (1.4). ABC finished with a slight lead in total viewers with 11.7 million, ahead of NBC (11.5 million), Fox (7.2 million), CBS (6.8 million) and Univision (3.5 million).

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Shocker: Atlanta Braves Leaving Turner Field

The Atlanta Braves professional baseball team is leaving Turner Field.

"Not much shocks me," writes columnist Mark Bradley, who has worked at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper for more than 25 years. "This did. The Atlanta Braves, who have played downtown since moving here from Milwaukee in 1966, are leaving Atlanta for Cobb County.

"Braves officials said today they will build a new stadium near the intersection of I-75 and I-285 -- the place so congested we Cobb Countians know to avoid if at all possible -- that will be ready for play in 2017. (The Braves' lease at Turner Field expires in 2016.)"

The new location is 10 miles from the current Turner Field. Turner Field will only be 21 years old when the Braves abandon it in 2017. Turner Field opened in 1996, as the major track and field stadium for the 1996 Summer Olympics. The Braves moved in the next year. Turner Field cost $209 million to build and seats 49,000. The new stadiurm will seat 7,000 fewer people (42,000) and cost $400 million-plus more to build ($672 million), according to ESPN.

turner field-atlanta.jpgTurner Field in Atlanta

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TVGN Unveils Seven Original Projects in Development

TVGN is taking a serious plunge into original programming, taking the wraps off plans today for seven new original shows. The lineup of unscripted programs puts an emphasis on celebrities, fans and the Hollywood lifestyle.

The new slate includes the celebrity buzz show "TMI," which looks at the entertainment world through the lens of celebrity tweets and posts; the celebrity bio, fashion and travel hybrid "Watch! Magazine TV Project"; and the fan home makeover show "Have You Scene My Room." The titles are all working titles.

Also on tap: "Rock the Boat: New Kids on the Block," from New Kids band member Donnie Wahlberg; the game show "Celebrity Celebrity"; "Tour Wars," about the underbelly of the Hollywood tour business; and "The Story Behind," a look behind the scenes of some successful TV series.

Please click here to read the full press release from TVGN, with details about all of the new projects.

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Alec Baldwin Dabs at Tears, Gets Heckled by Accused Stalker as He Testifies at Her Trial

Alec Baldwin had an eventful court appearance today in New York, where he testified at the trial of a woman accused of stalking and harassing the actor.

The New York Daily News reports that Genevieve Sabourin, who is charged with 23 counts of harassment and one count of stalking, shouted at the actor as he testified, saying "Wow, you're lying," and, "I can't believe you're doing that," after Baldwin testified that the two have never been lovers.

Sabourin was eventually hustled out of the courtroom by her attorney after being threatened with contempt of court by the judge, the story reports.

Baldwin reportedly dabbed at tears as he recounted how Sabourin showed up at his home on the same day he proposed to his wife, Hilaria.

"And when Baldwin again denied he and Sabourin were ever romantically involved, the furious French-Canadian yelled, 'You have a scar!,'” the New York Daily News reports. "Then Sabourin pointed at her hip in an apparent attempt to convince everyone that she had the goods on Baldwin."

As an agitated Sabourin was being ushered out by her attorney, Todd Spodek, she reportedly screamed: “I gotta prove that I had a sexual relationship. I didn’t do anything wrong. He’s lying! He’s lying!”

Sabourin also took shots at Baldwin's wife, Hilaria, after she took the stand.

Sabourin reportedly screamed at Hilaria: “I never spoke to you. You’re going to hell, Hilaria. You’re lying.”

"But Sabourin’s shrieking failed to rattle Hilaria," the story reports. "She calmly said her hubby put her on the phone with Sabourin once in a vain attempt to get her to stop calling."

According to the report, Hilaria testified: "She starts shrieking at me, ‘You b---h! You b---h! You b---h! You b---h!’ Over and over again. And I said, ‘Genevieve, this is not appropriate.’”

"Hilaria said Sabourin eventually started tweeting her from the handle @Scarfacemadam. Sabourin, according to Baldwin, was the mistress of 'Scarface' producer Martin Bregman," the story reports.

Hilaria testified: "She started to write to me and tell me if I knew what was good for me to not show up to certain events."

The NY Daily News report adds: "Hilaria said Sabourin showed up unannounced at her husband’s East Hampton home after he got down on one knee and asked her to marry him. She said she finally sicced the cops on Sabourin on April 8 when she turned up at their E. 10th St. building and demanded to see Baldwin."

Said Hilaria, according to the report: "I was so afraid I couldn't remember my address. I looked at a piece of mail. I was completely out of my mind."

The story adds: "Prosecutors contend Sabourin waged a months-long harassment campaign against the '30 Rock' star and bombarded him with 100 creepy emails and texts begging him to marrying her and 'conceive a mini Baldwin.'”

genevieve sabourin.jpgGenevieve Sabourin

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Famous Actor Brothers Get a Show About ... Hamburgers?

Two brothers who are well-known actors are joining forces on a new TV project about their family business -- but it's not the entertainment business, it's a hamburger stand.

A&E is rolling out plans for "Wahlburgers," a reality show that will include actor brothers Donnie and Mark Wahlberg in the cast, the New York Daily News reports. The show is set to premiere Jan. 22.

"The show, which was announced back in January, has been filming all year at Wahlburgers, the family's burger restaurant in Hingham, Mass.," the story reports. "Paul Wahlberg, older brother of the more famous Donnie and Mark, is executive chef at the restaurant and will probably be the most prominent family member in the show."

Besides appearing on the docu-series, Donnie and Mark Wahlberg will also produce. They're also keeping busy with other projects.

"Donnie is busy with 'Blue Bloods' and other work, while Mark does a lot of film and TV production," the report notes. "Donnie is also producing another reality show, 'Don't Rock the Boat,' whose first episode on the TV Guide Network will feature his old boy band, New Kids on the Block, taking a week-long cruise with their fans."

The focus of "Wahlburgers" will be on family drama and on revealing what goes on behind the scenes of the restaurant, the report notes.

mark wahlberg-left-and donnie wahlberg.pngMark Wahlberg, left, and Donnie Wahlberg

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China Weighs In as Controversy Widens Over Jimmy Kimmel Skit

The controversy over a satirical skit on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" appears to be growing larger, with China's Foreign Ministry now demanding an additional apology from ABC, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

As previously reported, both Kimmel and ABC have apologized for the skit, in which a child suggested the United States should "kill everyone in China" to get rid of the country's debt. A petition at WhiteHouse.gov, which has received more than 100,000 signatures, will now receive an official administration response.

On Monday, China Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters, "ABC should face up to its mistake, and respond with a sincere attitude to the reasonable demands by Chinese people in America, and prevent a similar incident from occurring again," according to THR.

The skit and its backlash have been covered in China, with links to the skit circulating online in the country, the report notes. The People's Daily, the government mouthpiece, has published stories with headlines such as "ABC Apology Fails to Appease Chinese Americans" and "American Broadcaster Urged to Acknowledge Misconduct," the story adds.

ABC issued a second apology Friday, saying: "The simple fact is, the segment should never have been broadcast. Systems we have in place for these types of things did not function properly, and steps have been made to try and prevent this kind of egregious mistake from occurring in the future."

Kimmel has also apologized, both on TV and in person at the protests, with more than 1,000 people picketing the ABC building Saturday in Burbank.

A clip of the original skit can be seen by clicking here.

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Former President of Cable Ad Sales at NBCU Gets New Gig -- Now in a Position to Help You If You're Looking for a Job

The former president of ad sales for NBCU's myriad cable networks has joined the practice of a premier executive search and management consulting company.

Dave Cassaro has joined the Sucherman Consulting Group as Senior Consultant, the company has announced.

"Cassaro will offer expertise on advertising and revenue generation," the annoucement says, adding, "He will also work on the placement of senior advertising and revenue executives across television, digital and other media entities."

Besides his extensive experience in cable ad sales, Cassaro is one of the very few people -- if not the only one -- who also has worked in ad sales at all four major broadcast TV networks: ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. He has also worked at a rep firm, Telerep. 

Erik Sorenson, Sucherman's COO, said in the announcement, “We are thrilled that Dave has joined forces with our growing firm to broaden our expertise and capacity. He brings a wealth of knowledge and an enormous network of former colleagues and clients.”

Sorenson himself has quite a resume in TV management. He's been both a local TV news director and a TV station manager. He has executive produced the "CBS Evening News." And for six years he was the president of a cable channel: MSNBC.

Just last month Sucherman announced the hiring of two other search consultants, Christina Sampaio-Forman and Mary Bryan Moore. Sampaio-Forman came from Eight Minds, an independent think tank for television and film production companies. Moore had previously been with Disney Publishing and ESPN. 

dave cassaro.pngDave Cassaro

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Well-Known Media Writer Jumps From The New York Times to CNN

CNN has hired a new senior media correspondent from The New York Times, who will also become the new host of CNN's venerable show about media, "Reliable Sources." The network announced that it named New York Times media industry reporter Brian Stelter, 28, to the post.

The permanent hosting spot on "Reliable Sources" has been vacant since Howard Kurtz left in June for Fox News. Since then, Stelter has filled in a few times as guest host.

"Stelter will also serve as a senior media correspondent for CNN Worldwide, reporting on trends, personalities and companies across the media spectrum -- from news to entertainment," CNN announced. "He will report daily on CNN/U.S., CNN International, CNN.com, CNNMoney.com, and across CNN’s vast mobile and social landscape, feeding and flowing into his show and creating a multiplatform, global media beat for CNN."

In a statement, CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker said: “Brian has emerged as one of the top media reporters in the country and will be a great addition to our many platforms. He grew up in the digital space, and has covered the media industry for his entire career. Brian has a keen understanding of this field -- as both a journalist covering the industry and as an innovator -- first, by creating his own digital platform, and second, by also leveraging the countless ways information is disseminated to enhance his storytelling."

Stelter has been at The New York Times since 2007, covering television and digital media for the Media & Advertising and Arts sections of the newspaper and for the paper's Media Decoder blog. This year he published a best-selling book about morning TV news, “Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV (2013).”

Said Stelter: “It is an honor to take the helm of 'Reliable Sources,' the very best of a very small number of programs about the media’s role in society. I’m equally excited about reporting throughout the week on CNN’s many digital platforms and television networks. CNN is reimagining media coverage at what is the best time ever to be covering media, and I’m very happy to be a part of it.”

The CNN announcement adds: "Stelter created TVNewser, a blog covering the television news industry, in 2004, while a college freshman at Towson University. Six months later he sold TVNewser to Mediabistro.com, though he continued to edit and write for the blog for three additional years."

brian stelter.pngBrian Stelter

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Angela Lansbury Has a Problem With NBC's New 'Murder, She Wrote'

With NBC recently announcing plans to remake the long-running mystery show "Murder, She Wrote," its former star, Angela Lansbury, revealed that she has a problem with the idea.

The Associated Press reports that Lansbury, who played amateur sleuth Jessica Fletcher for 12 seasons during the original show's run on CBS from 1984-1996, has criticized NBC's decision to use the original name "Murder, She Wrote" for the reboot.

As previously reported, NBC is working on a new version of the show -- one of television's most successful series -- with Oscar winner Octavia Spencer in the lead role that Lansbury made famous. Lansbury received 12 consecutive Emmy nominations for her role as Jessica Fletcher, among her 18 total Emmy nods. She has never won an Emmy.

Lansbury won four Golden Globes for the role, receiving a total of 10 Globe nominations for the series. She also won Golden Globes for two film roles -- in "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (1945) and "The Manchurian Candidate" (1962) -- and has been nominated for three Oscars.

Lansbury told the AP in a telephone interview that she thinks the new NBC series should have a different title.

"I think it's a mistake to call it 'Murder, She Wrote,'" Lansbury said, "because 'Murder, She Wrote' will always be about Cabot Cove and this wonderful little group of people who told those lovely stories and enjoyed a piece of that place, and also enjoyed Jessica Fletcher, who is a rare and very individual kind of person. ...

"So I'm sorry that they have to use the title 'Murder, She Wrote,' even though they have access to it and it's their right," she said.

Lansbury described Spencer as a "wonderful ... lovely actress." She added, "So I wish her well, but I wish it wasn't in 'Murder, She Wrote.'"

Spencer's representatives didn't respond to a request for comment from the AP, the piece adds.

angela lansbury.jpgAngela Lansbury

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New HBO Project: A Black 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'?

HBO has a project in development that is being likened to "Seinfeld" creator Larry David's HBO series "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

Deadline.com reports that the pay-cable channel is working with film and television director and showrunner Salim Akil of "The Game" on a project called "Mr. Director," which is a look at black Hollywood in a style similar to "Curb."

Akil, who is finishing directing and co-showrunning the seventh season of BET's "The Game," will play a version of himself in the HBO project. The show will look at "the outrageous, circuitous path taken to become one of Hollywood’s Top 50 showrunner/directors," the story says.

salim akil.pngSalim Akil

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One Service Is Responsible for Almost a Third of Downstream Internet Traffic

A well-known online service represents the largest share of downstream Internet traffic in North America, with 31.62% of all activity attributable to Netflix, according to The Hollywood Reporter, citing a report from Canadian Internet monitoring firm Sandvine.

YouTube is in second place, responsible for 18.69% of all downstream traffic in the region. Video streaming accounts for more than 53% of all downstream traffic, the report adds.

"The top two Internet streaming sites now represent more than half of all downstream traffic," the story says. "On the other hand, BitTorrent's downstream traffic (which is primarily illegal file sharing) continues to decline sharply, now at just 4 percent of the total. It still is the most important source of upstream traffic (i.e., from people's homes to other computers) at 36.35 percent, primarily because individuals are sharing files."

The aggregate total -- combining downstream and upstream -- shows Netflix on top with 28.18%, followed by YouTube with 16.78%.

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Cable Channel Greenlights Five New Series

Travel Channel this week greenlighted five new original series, including three based on the "Secrets & Legends" franchise, reports B&C.

"Eat Secrets" will be hosted by Adam Richman, as he seeks out food gems hidden in locations across the U.S. The cable channel ordered 13 half-hour episodes from Sharp Entertainment, the story reports.

Shane Green will host "Resort Recon," which will use hidden cameras to show resort owners where they have problems with their establishments. The initial order for the show, from RelativityREAL, is for 13 one-hour episodes.

Three new series in the "Secrets & Legends" franchise will focus on castles, hotels and national parks, the story reports.

"'Castle Secrets & Legends' is produced by Optomen Productions Inc. and was greenlit for five one-hour installments," the piece reports. "Twelve02 Productions Inc.'s 'Hotel Secrets & Legends' will get 13 one-hour segments. 'National Park Secrets & Legends,' which is produced by Galafilm Inc., was okayed for eight half-hour shows."

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CW Handing Out Full-Season Orders Like Halloween Candy

The CW handed out post-Halloween treats for its lineup of new series, announcing full-season orders for all three of its new dramas, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

"The Originals," a spinoff of "The Vampire Diaries," was seen as likely to receive a full-season order, given that it's averaging 2.7 million viewers and a 1.3 rating in the 18-49 demographic.

With "The Tomorrow People" and "Reign," though, it "felt like one might survive while the other might not. Not because either are doing really well, exactly, but because the CW has limited inventory to play with," the story reports. "Specifically, many in the industry expected 'Reign' to get beheaded."

"Tomorrow People" is drawing 2.4 million viewers and a 0.9 rating in the demographic, while "Reign" has been drawing 2.1 million viewers and a 0.8 in the demo.

CW President Mark Pedowitz offered this statement: “In just a few seasons, we have built a much stronger prime-time schedule. Our on-air ratings are up year to year, and our digital viewing continues to grow exponentially. We’re excited about the creative momentum the producers have established for all three of our new series, and now our fans will have the chance to see the full stories unfold for them this season. With the additional episodes ordered, plus two new dramas and new reality for midseason, we’ll be able to continue our commitment to adding more original programming all year long.”

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Cinemax Wins Bidding War for Project From 'Walking Dead' Creator

After a bidding war among multiple cable networks, Cinemax has landed a new project from "The Walking Dead" creator Robert Kirkman, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

The drama, "Outcast," is based on a comic of the same name from Kirkman, which hasn't yet been published. The comic book is about a man who has been dealing with possession since he was a child, and as an adult is searching for answers, the story says. The book will be published next year.

Kirkman will write the script, his first time writing a pilot. He will also executive produce with David Alpert of Circle of Confusion. The drama comes from Fox International Channels, which also distributes "The Walking Dead" worldwide.

"Despite the success of 'The Walking Dead,' 'Outcast' is only my second foray into the horror genre," Kirkman said. "I think Kyle Barnes is every bit as compelling as Rick Grimes and demonic possession is way scarier than zombies -- so this is going to be fun."

robert kirkman.pngRobert Kirkman

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Former 'Divorce Court' Judge Gets a New Show

Former "Divorce Court" judge Mablean Ephriam has been tapped for a new court show from Entertainment Studios, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Ephriam, a former Los Angeles prosecuting attorney who sat on the bench on "Divorce Court" from 1999 to 2006, will star in "Justice with Judge Mablean," the story says. The project marks the fifth court program from Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios.

Ephriam's signature phrase was, "Look deep before you leap." She also portrayed a judge in Tyler Perry's Madea movies.

mablean ephriam.pngMablean Ephriam

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Report: Liberty Global in Talks to Buy Intel's TV Service

European cable operator Liberty Global is in discussions to buy Intel Corp.'s online pay-TV service, which is in development, reports Bloomberg.

Liberty Global, which owns Virgin Media in the U.K. and operates in Germany and other countries, would use the system outside the U.S., the piece notes.

"Liberty Global’s interest creates competition for the advanced set-top box being developed by Intel since at least early 2012," the story reports. "The chipmaker, which promised to offer service this year, balked at making the significant programming investments on its own, and began looking for partners."

Verizon Communications was said to be in talks to buy the project at an earlier point.

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Alec Baldwin's New MSNBC Show Falls to a Ratings Low

Alec Baldwin's 10 p.m. show on MSNBC fell to a new low in the key news demographic of viewers 25-54 on Friday, reports Deadline.com.

"Up Late with Alec Baldwin" drew just 101,000 viewers in the demographic, representing a 41% drop from its October debut, the piece notes. "While Baldwin’s total viewers were up to 395,000 from the 354,000 low of its November 1 show, the demo was down from that show’s 130,000," the story adds.

Another cable-news show also hit a demo low Friday, with former ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols drawing just 41,000 viewers in the 25-54 age group for her CNN show "Unguarded," the story notes. That's a 55% drop from the show's October debut, the piece notes.

Thumbnail image for alec-baldwin2.jpgAlec Baldwin

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President and CEO of PromaxBDA Is Leaving

The president and chief executive officer of PromaxBDA is leaving the international organization of entertainment marketers, promoters and designers, it was announced today, Monday, Nov. 11, 2013, by Joe Earley and Lisa Gregorian, the co-chairs of PromaxBDA.

In a memo to their members, Earley and Gregorian wrote, "After six successful years with PromaxBDA, our President/CEO Jonathan Block-Verk will be leaving the organization to start a new exciting chapter."

What that chapter is they don't say. Earley, who has been with Fox Broadcasting for almost 20 years, is the chief operating officer of the Fox Network. Gregorian is the chief marketing officer of the Warner Bros. Television Group. She was part of the team at Lorimar when Warner Bros. purchased that company in 1989.

In their memo, Earley and Gregorian praised Block-Verk for having served PromaxBDA well during his 6-year tenure leading the organization. They conclude the memo by writing: "We will be announcing a new head of the organization in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, there is a terrific staff in place who remains committed to providing excellent service to you our members. You have the word of the Board and of the entire staff that we will not miss a beat."

According to B&C, Block-Verk said in a statement: "I have absolutely loved being a part of the PromaxBDA team and cherish the memories we have shared over the past six years. I have worked with an incredible staff and amazing boards of directors who have provided invaluable mentorship, leadership and friendship as we resurrected the association, pumping energy, excitement and relevance into the global organization."

According to the PromaxBDA website, "Promax was established in 1956 as a non-profit, full-service, membership driven association for promotion and marketing professionals working in broadcast media. In 1997, The Broadcast Design Association (BDA), who had partnered with Promax for years on their annual conference, officially joined forces with Promax and became PromaxBDA."

The website also notes that the "association represents more than 10,000 companies and individuals at every major media organization, marketing agency, research company, strategic and creative vendor and technology providers ..." PromaxBDA also has a number of chapters in international markets. 

jonathan Block-Verk.jpgJonathan Block-Verk

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Veteran Actor, TV Tough Guy, Dead at 82

An actor who was a familiar face on television, appearing in a string of popular shows over the years including a regular run on "Cagney & Lacey," has died. Paul Mantee, described as a "burly, tough-guy actor," died Nov. 7, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 82.

Mantee played Det. Al Corassa on the long-running CBS cop show "Cagney & Lacey" from 1983-1988. He was also known for his starring role as Cmdr. Christopher "Kit" Draper in the 1964 theatrical release "Robinson Crusoe on Mars."

"A longtime resident of Malibu who wrote columns for the local newspaper, Mantee played the health inspector on a 1994 episode of 'Seinfeld,' 'The Pie'; had a recurring role as Commander Clayton on 'Hunter,' the police drama that starred Fred Dryer; and appeared as Cornell, a henchman for Catwoman who disguises himself as Batman to frame the Caped Crusader for a robbery in a 1967 storyline that saw the villainess go back to college," THR reports.

His many guest appearances on TV included performances on "Dallas," "L.A. Law," "Murder, She Wrote," "Remington Steele" and "The Fall Guy."

Early in his career he appeared on seminal TV series such as "Dragnet," "The Untouchables," "Dick Powell Theatre," "Cheyenne" and "The Rifleman."

Mantee also made his mark on the big screen. "Mantee starred as secret agent Dick Dagger in 'A Man Called Dagger' (1968)," THR reports. "He also had small roles in such films as 'They Shoot Horses, Don't They?' (1969); 'The Greatest' (1977), starring Muhammad Ali; 'The Great Santini' (1979); 'Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story' (1993); and 'Apollo 13' (1995)."

paul mantee.pngPaul Mantee

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'GMA' Reporter Reveals She Has Breast Cancer

An ABC News reporter revealed today on "Good Morning America" that she has breast cancer. The New York Daily News reports that Amy Robach announced her diagnosis and said she will undergo a double mastectomy.

The mastectomy is scheduled for Nov. 14. Robach, 40, told Robin Roberts on the show: "I've decided to be very aggressive."

Robach went through a mammogram on live television in October as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and credits that assignment with enabling her to catch the cancer in time.

"The reporter recounted the fateful 'GMA' assignment she received early in October that would eventually save her life," the story reports. Robach said during the segment: "Between flying all over the world for work, and running around with my kids to school and ballet and gymnastics like so many women, I just kept putting it off."

Roberts, who is herself a cancer survivor, reportedly convinced Robach to go ahead with the assignment.

Said Robach: "Thank God you did. I had cancer the whole time we were sitting in that office, and I said, I don't have any connection to that disease."

On her ABC News health blog, Robach wrote: "I was asked to do something I really didn't want to do, something I had put off for more than a year, I had no way of knowing that I was in a life-or-death situation.

"I would have considered it virtually impossible that I would have cancer. I work out, I eat right, I take care of myself and I have very little family history; in fact, all of my grandparents are still alive."

Here's Robach's video report:

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Comedy Central Cancels Series

Comedy Central has confirmed that it is pulling the plug on a series. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel said it will not order additional episodes of "The Jeselnik Offensive," which ran for two seasons.

Season two ended its run during the past summer.

"Series star/co-creator, comedian Anthony Jeselnik, announced the cancellation while performing at the New York Comedy Festival over the weekend, reportedly leading the crowd into a 'F*ck you Comedy Central' chant," the story reports.

"Jeselnik was a regular on Comedy Central’s roasts before landing his own series on the network," Deadline adds. "'The Jeselnik Offensive' featured Jeselnik’s take on news ripped from the headlines of Gawker, Reddit and the places we troll for the darker, more shocking and lurid stories."

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FX Gains Rights to a Batch of Recent Blockbusters

FX has acquired television rights to a number of recent theatrical releases that have done big business at the box office. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel snagged Disney's "Thor: The Dark World," Warner Bros.' "Gravity" and Sony's "Captain Phillips."

"They’ve also locked in 'Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa,' 'Cloudy With a Chance Of Meatballs 2' and 'Prisoners,'" the story reports. "FX has been very aggressive in acquiring blockbusters, buying virtually every No. 1 movie in the box office for the past couple of years for the main network and FX siblings FXX and FXM."

Some of the network's other recent acquisitions that have been previously announced are "Iron Man 3," "Man of Steel," "Fast And Furious 6," "World War Z," " The Heat," "The Wolverine" and "The Hangover Part III."

The newest acquisitions are set to roll out on the FX Networks starting in 2015, the report notes.

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Cable Channel Scores Its Highest Viewership Total of All Time

A cable channel recorded its highest viewership total in history with a program that aired Sunday. Announcing the milestone was National Geographic Channel, which had an average turnout of 3.4 million total viewers for the two-hour premiere of "Killing Kennedy."

The total is the highest in NGC history. The original program also delivered a 2.8 household rating, the network's second highest ever, and a 1.1 average rating in the 25-54 demo.

The drama, which is based on the book by Bill O'Reilly, is executive produced by Ridley Scott and stars Rob Lowe as JFK and Will Rothhaar as Lee Harvey Oswald. The program is set for an encore telecast Friday, Nov. 15, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

"The 1.1 P25–54 is the highest-rated P25–54 since the premiere of 'Killing Lincoln' in February 2013 (also a 1.1 P25–54), and is more than 175% higher than NGC’s Sunday 8–10 p.m average so far this calendar year (.4 P25–54)," the network announced. "Additionally, the hashtag #killingkennedy trended worldwide last night on Twitter, etc. During the broadcast, it became the #1 trending topic in the U.S., and across both Trendrr and Social Guide 'Killing Kennedy' was in the top 10 for total social mentions amongst all prime-time cable programs last night. The website also experienced 2.1 million total page views, a record for the network in one night, and 9.8 million total page views over the past three weeks."

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'Hatfields & McCoys' Actor Files Lawsuit Accusing History of 'Reckless, Careless, Callous and Oppressive Acts'

An actor on History's hit "Hatfields & McCoys" has sued the network, alleging reckless misconduct and breach of contract for injuries he incurred after being thrown from a horse on the set, reports Deadline.com.

Tom McKay's suit alleges in part: "The subject horse became uncontrollable again during filming of a scene, bolted, and subsequently threw Plaintiff into a tree, resulting in serious and permanent injuries and harm to Plaintiff."

The actor, whose credits include the Starz series "The White Queen," is seeking unspecified damages for suffering and anguish, loss of earnings and earnings capacity, and medical costs, the story says. On the "Hatfields & McCoys" McKay played Jim McCoy.

The show's star and producer, Kevin Costner, isn't named in the lawsuit, although others involved in the production are, including director Kevin Reynolds, the piece adds.

McKay's action seeks to punish the defendants, with the complaint alleging: “The reckless, careless, callous, and oppressive acts of defendants, and each of them, as set forth herein-above, are sufficient to warrant the imposition of punitive and exemplary damages against said defendants in an amount sufficient to punish and make an example of them."

The report adds: "In the detailed filing, McKay claims unsafe conditions on the Romanian set, as well as knowing of violent mistreatment of the horses used by the production by improperly trained handlers. He also alleges: 'Defendants, by and through their authorized managing agents, including Leslie Grief, Kevin Reynolds, Chris Landry, and Razvan Piu, and other of defendant’s managing officers/agents, intentionally misrepresented to Plaintiff that their horses were safe, well behaved, and were suitable for riding by Plaintiff.'”

tom mckay.jpgTom McKay

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Sacha Baron Cohen Shocks Audience With Stunt That Appears to Kill an Old Woman

Sacha Baron Cohen left half the audience "shaking in their Jimmy Choos" after he appeared to kill an elderly woman in a wheelchair Saturday night at the Britannia Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, reports Deadline.com.

"The reaction was so visceral in the room, host Rob Brydon had to literally calm down the normally more sedate British crowd. Some clearly thought it was real," the story reports.

Cohen's acceptance speech included a bit in which presenter Salma Hayek introduced an elderly woman in a wheelchair, whom she identified as Grace Collington, an actress who she said appeared in Charlie Chaplin's 1931 film "City Lights." Hayek told the audience, "At 87, she’s the oldest surviving actor to have worked with Chaplin in a silent movie."

When Cohen came to the stage to accept his award, Collington gave him one of Chaplin's famous canes. But then Cohen pushed her off the stage, and she landed face-down, motionless and seemingly dead, the story says.

Cohen told the crowd: "Grace Collington is the oldest, sorry, was the oldest … . I dedicate my award to her. It’s obviously a tragedy, but on the bright side what a great way to go. She’ll probably make the Oscars In Memoriam section. … Anyway tonight is not about her, it’s about me."

About half the audience roared, while the rest were shocked, the story says.

The event, held at the Beverly Hilton, was presented by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts-Los Angeles.

Here's a partial clip of the stunt:

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As CBS News Apologizes Again -- This Time on '60 Minutes' -- Politico Addresses the Question CBS Doesn't Talk About On-Air: How Come the Network Made This Mistake

Last night, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, CBS News correspondent Lara Logan apologized at the end of "60 Minutes" for the report on Benghazi that included some erroneous information. You can see a video of that apology below. 

And as we previously reported, Logan also appeared last week on "CBS This Morning" to apologize for the report.

However, in neither televised apology did CBS News address how it could have made the mistake of not fully vetting the account it was given by the principal source of the "60 Minutes" report, security contractor Dylan Davies.

A report on Politico by Dylan Byers that was published late Friday afternoon, Nov. 8, 2013, addresses this issue:

"That '60 Minutes' could have conducted a year’s worth of reporting [on the Benghazi story] without adequately vetting Davies or obtaining the FBI’s report [on what Davies told the FBI] was the subject of much hand-wringing over at CBS News on Friday, according to sources that spoke with Politico. For some, it was also proof of a greater truth: that '60 Minutes'' greatest asset -- its longstanding reputation as one of the most reliable brands in television journalism -- can also be its greatest liability. "

Citing sources familiar with the reporting by "60 Minutes," the Politico story adds: "'60 Minutes' exists in a silo at CBS News, often by choice, these sources said. Throughout their reporting, Lara Logan and the '60 Minutes' team did not seek assistance from their colleagues in CBS News’ investigative unit, many of whom are well-sourced with the FBI and would likely have been able to assist in the vetting process. ...

“'Between John Miller, Chris Isham and Len Tepper you have three journalists who have about as good as sources as you could have at the FBI,' one source said, referring to members of the CBS News investigative team. 'Why weren’t they asked, "What does that FBI report say?" ’ "

The Politico article adds, "Kevin Tedesco, the spokesperson for '60 Minutes,' declined Politico's request for an interview regarding the error and both Tedesco and Sonya McNair, the senior vice president for communications at CBS News, declined to say when the network learned about the FBI account. Instead, Tedesco forwarded a press release from Friday morning announcing Logan’s apology, which took place on 'CBS This Morning.'"

To read additional details of Politico's report we urge you to click on the link to its original article, above.

Here's the video of the  "60 Minutes" correction:

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Miley Cyrus in Another Music Awards Shocker

Singer and former Disney Channel star Miley Cyrus had a stunt in store for the MTV Europe Music Awards in Amsterdam, when she pulled a joint from her purse and started smoking on stage, reports the New York Post.

As previously reported, Cyrus' twerking-filled MTV Video Music Awards performance this summer produced a backlash from viewers and a rebuke from the Parents Television Council.

Cyrus' smoking stunt was censored for U.S. viewers, notes Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com. "In the edited version that aired in the U.S., Cyrus barely says one line before the camera cuts to an ultra wide shot of the audience and comes back to her for an awkward goodbye," she writes. "Had MTV opted to leave the smoking stunt by the 20-year-old Cyrus in, the network most certainly would’ve gotten into hot water with watchdogs and parents."

Cyrus was billed as someone to watch at the EMAs, with promos on MTV asking, "How Wild Will Miley Get at the EMAs?," Andreeva notes. While marijuana is sold in Amsterdam's coffee shops, promoting illegal substances and smoking to minors wouldn't go over well in the U.S., the piece notes.

miley cyrus-MTV-EMAs-2013-joint.pngMiley Cyrus lights up in Amsterdam

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Disney Bursts SOAPnet's Bubble

Disney is about to burst the bubble of the SOAPnet channel. The Los Angeles Times' Company Town reports that the Walt Disney Co. is pulling the plug on the soap opera-focused cable channel at the end of this year.

Disney created the channel 14 years ago to get more mileage out of its daytime dramas, the report notes.

Three years ago, DIsney said it would fold SOAPnet to make room for Disney Junior, which targets toddlers. But because cable and satellite TV operators still wanted to provide soap operas to their customers, Disney continued to provide programming for both channels, the story says.

But Disney has recently told cable operators that it will stop programming SOAPnet after Dec. 31. Disney stopped charging distributors for the network several months ago, as programming tapered off and the channel started airing reruns of old shows such as "One Tree Hill," the piece notes.

Meanwhile, Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger praised Disney Junior on a recent earnings call with analysts, noting that retail sales for related products more than doubled in fiscal 2013. The network is the top-rated TV outlet for preschoolers, the report adds.

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Charlie Sheen Says He Wants to 'Make Amends' With Former Boss Chuck Lorre

Actor Charlie Sheen, who was fired from CBS's "Two and a Half Men," wrote on Twitter that he wants to "make amends" with his former boss Chuck Lorre, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

Sheen also noted that he has an "idea" to run by Lorre, which suggests his desire to make up might be motivated by looking for a job, the story notes. Lorre, the creator of "Two and a Half Men" along with a number of other hit shows including "The Big Bang Theory," doesn't have a Twitter account, the piece adds.

After unleashing a series of public insults against Lorre during Sheen's high-profile meltdown in 2011, Sheen was fired from "Men." The actor, who now stars in FX's "Anger Management," later named Lorre as a defendant in a lawsuit against the show's producers.

chuck lorre.jpgChuck Lorre

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NBC Lands Rights to Outer Space Milestone

NBC has secured a deal to cover an upcoming milestone in space travel. The network is partnering with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic to broadcast the first commercial space flight, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

The trip, which will be the first to take private passengers into space -- including Branson and his family -- will be shown on a wide range of NBCUniversal platforms including MSNBC, The Weather Channel and Syfy, the story says. The coverage will culminate with a three-hour live event on "Today."

The event will also include an NBC prime-time special to air the evening before the trip.

In a statement, Sharon Scott, president and general manager of NBC News' Peacock Productions, said: “Without a doubt, Sir Richard and his children taking the first commercial flight into space will go down in history as one of the most memorable events on television. Through NBCUniversal’s multiple platforms and overseas network partners, viewers from around the world will get to experience this 'where were you moment.' We’re extremely honored to chronicle Sir Richard’s journey and live launch into space.”

richard branson.jpgRichard Branson

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Killer Whales vs. Nuclear Power: CNN Finds Out It's No Contest

CNN may have learned a lesson the hard way last week -- learning that cable viewers apparently aren't as fond of documentaries about nuclear power as they are about killer whales. The cable news channel's Thursday night broadcast of "Pandora's Promise" delivered just 345,000 viewers, Deadline.com reports.

The nuclear-themed film, which was heavily promoted, represented a steep decline from CNN Films' "Blackfish," which drew 1.36 million total viewers in the same time period two weeks earlier, the story notes. "Pandora's Promise" attracted only 145,000 adults in the key news demo of adults 25-54, compared with 472,000 for "Blackfish," which is about killer whales kept in captivity.

"The fallout of 'Promise'’s low ratings Thursday night was that the Jeff Zucker-run CNN once again was far behind both Fox News Channel (2.54 million total viewers and 400,000 in the demo) and MSNBC (810,000 and 229,000) in both categories during the two-hour slot," the story reports.

The results, the report says, "can’t bode well for a cable network that just came off its lowest prime-time week in over a year and the worst since Zucker took over in January."

The piece adds: "CNN Films acquired the nuke-themed 'Pandora’s Promise' in April this year after it screened at the Sundance Film Festival and had a theatrical run. Such docus as 'Promise' and 'Blackfish' are a part of the network’s attempt to broaden its programming scope -- though with mixed results, obviously."

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'Downton Abbey' Gets Fifth-Season Renewal

The popular period drama "Downton Abbey" has received a fifth-season renewal, after the series ended its fourth season in the U.K. with record ratings, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The season finale drew an average audience of 9.8 million, representing 40% of people watching television in the U.K. at that time. That makes the finale the highest-rated drama on British television so far this year, the piece adds.

The fifth season will be written by creator Julian Fellowes, and executive produced by Gareth Neame, Liz Trubridge and Fellowes, according to EW.com's Inside TV.

downton abbey-season 4.jpg

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ABC Greenlights Comedy Project

ABC has made another early comedy pickup, giving a pilot order to an adaptation of the British comedy "Bad Education," Deadline.com reports.

The show's creator and star, Jack Whitehall, will star in the ABC version, "An American Education." Whitehall will take on the role of Alfie Wickers, a British transplant to the San Diego public school system. Wickers uses novel educational methods that upset his test-focused administrators, the story notes.

ABC Studios is producing.

jack whitehall.jpgJack Whitehall

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CBS Buys Family Comedy From 'Zach Stone' Creator

CBS has bought a script for an untitled comedy from the creator of the canceled MTV show "Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous," The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

From Dan Lagana, the project is about a married couple dealing with raising both a teenager and a toddler. Lagana will write the script and executive produce for CBS Television Studios.

"Zach Stone" was canceled by MTV after one season.

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Whoopi Goldberg Says 'SNL' Diversity Beef Comes '15 Years Late'

Whoopi Goldberg commented on the recent controversy over a lack of diversity on NBC's sketch comedy show "Saturday Night Live," telling Showbiz411 writer Paula Schwartz that the issue is nothing new.

"These folks are 15 years late on this question," Goldberg told the publication, apparently referring to the recent round of criticism leveled against "SNL" for its lack of a black female cast member.

Goldberg herself has never been invited to host "SNL," the piece reports, citing Tom Leonardis, the president of Whoop Inc., Goldberg's production company. Leonardis has worked with Goldberg for 19 years.

"He told me even before their partnership, when Goldberg was very young, Lorne Michaels never invited the most famous female black comedian to guest host," Schwartz writes. "Think of it: Whoopi Goldberg has an Oscar, she’s hosted the Oscars, she performs with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams, she runs 'The View,' she has a Tony Award for her acclaimed Broadway one-woman show directed by Mike Nichols."

Commenting on "SNL's" diversity situation, Goldberg said: "'Saturday Night Live' has looked like this for 15, 16 years. I don’t understand: Why is everyone up in arms? Didn’t anybody see it before? Clearly not!”

The comment was made at an afterparty for Goldberg's new HBO documentary, "Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley," which premieres Nov. 18.

As previously reported, the issue of diversity on the NBC comedy show was raised after cast member Jay Pharoah noted that he would like the program to add a black woman. Another cast member, Kenan Thompson, argued that female black comedians aren't "ready" to appear on the show.

whoopi goldberg.jpgWhoopi Goldberg

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Amazon Ups the Ante Again for Its Competitors: Partners With U.S. Postal Service for Sunday Deliveries at Regular Rates

Amazon will begin Sunday deliveries using the U.S. Postal Service, reports The New York Times.

"For this holiday shopping season, Sunday delivery of Amazon products will be limited to the Los Angeles and New York metropolitan areas, which in New York’s case includes parts of New Jersey and Connecticut," the story reports. "In 2014 it is expected to expand to other cities including Dallas, Houston, New Orleans and Phoenix."

The article adds: "For the Postal Service, which lost nearly $16 billion last year, first-class mail delivery, particularly on Saturdays, is often a money loser, whereas package delivery is profitable.

"The deal, announced yesterday, on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, and taking effect immediately, in time for the holiday shopping season, gives the Postal Service a chance to take some business from United Parcel Service and FedEx, which do not deliver on Sundays. Now, some orders that would have been handled by either of those carriers for Monday delivery will go through the Postal Service and arrive on Sunday."

Amazon will not increase its rates for Sunday delivery. And, if you're a member of Amazon Prime who qualifies for two-day free delivery, Sunday delivery will be free if you order on Friday.

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Careful, Google -- This Is the Kind of Grass-Roots Effort That Could Grab the Attention of Legislators: Pissed-Off YouTube User's Original Song 'F--- You Google+' Goes Viral

There's been a change made to YouTube that has angered some users. The popular video website, owned by Google, now requires anyone who wants to comment on a video to sign up to Google+.

In reaction, "Jawed Karim, one of YouTube's original creators, took to the comments for the first time in eight years and asked, 'Why the fuck do I need a Google+ account to comment on a video?,' " reports TheVerge.com.

The story says it cannot verify whether Karim actually made the comment himself of whether his account was hacked, but what is clear is that a lot of YouTube users share the same feeling as expressed in the comment.

One of those users, Emily Blackery, has sung a song and posted it on YouTube. "My Thoughts on Google+" is filled with such lines as "Fuck you, Google+, your website can get fucked," and has gone viral with close to 700,000 hits as of 6 a.m. (PT) today, Monday, Nov. 11, 2013. The video was just posted last Friday, Nov. 8. You can watch her short video below. Warning: If you are offended by the word "fuck," you may want to skip it.

According to the website VentureBeat.com, Google "previously said it was making this change to produce more 'meaningful conversations' on YouTube, something it hasn’t been known for historically. Google’s logic was that it would be able to produce the kinds of quality conversations that happen on Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook."

However, another website, TheRegister in the United Kingdom, questions Google's real reason for making the change: "Google+ requires users to have a public profile across Mountain View's massive online estate to allow them to be tracked around the web for Google to better target ads for them."

TheRegister's story continues, "An online petition has been signed by thousands of YouTubers who are unhappy with the switch."

As of this writing on Monday morning, the petition has more than 88,000 people who have signed it.

Here's the video. Again, some users will likely find the language in it offensive.

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Fox Gives 13-Episode Order to New Animated Series Co-Executive Produced by Seth MacFarlane

"With its Sunday night 'Animation Domination' lineup in a bit of a transition, Fox has given a 13-episode order to the new animated comedy 'Bordertown' from 'Family Guy's' Seth MacFarlane and Mark Hentemann to debut during the 2014-2015 TV season," reports our good friend Mike Schneider in an exclusive story for TV Guide.

Mike continues, "The show, created by Hentemann, takes place in a fictitious desert town in Texas near the border with Mexico. The show revolves around Bud Buckwald, a married father of three and a Border Patrol agent not adjusting well to the cultural changes around him, and his next-door neighbor Ernesto Gonzales, a Mexican immigrant and father of four. 'Bordertown' take a satirical look at America's cultural shifts through the evolving relationships between the two families."

The story adds, "Hentemann and MacFarlane will executive produce 'Bordertown' for 20th Century Fox TV, while Alex Carter ('Family Guy') and Dan Vebber ('American Dad') are co-exec producers.

For more details, please click on our link in the first paragraph, above, which will take you to the original story. 

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Shocker: Report Says Candidate to Become Microsoft CEO is Prepared to Sell Its Xbox Business and Shut Down Bing

One of the candidates to become Microsoft's new CEO is prepared to sell the company's Xbox business and shut down its Bing search engine, reports Bloomberg.

The candidate is Stephen Elop, 49, the former CEO of Nokia. He was also formerly in charge of Microsoft's Office division.

According to the article, "Elop would be prepared to sell or shut down major businesses to sharpen [Microsoft's] focus, [three people with knowledge of Elop's thinking said.] He would consider ending Microsoft’s costly effort to take on Google with its Bing search engine, and would also consider selling healthy businesses such as the Xbox game console if he determined they weren’t critical to the company’s strategy, the people said."

Oddly, Bloomberg buried this shocker more than halfway though its article that runs about 1000 words.

The article notes that if appointed CEO, Elop would likely make Microsoft's Office products more available: Elop "would consider breaking with decades of tradition by focusing the company’s strategy around making the popular Office software programs like Word, Excel and PowerPoint available on a broad variety of smartphones and tablets, including those made by Apple Inc. and Google Inc.," according to the three people familiar with Elop's thinking.

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Headline of the Day: 'Hunger Games Theme Parks Are Coming, Because Nothing Says Fun Like Children Fighting to the Death.'

So reads the headline today, Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, on the online newsfeed of Time magazine. The subhead that ran after the headline said: "Shoot an arrow through the heart of your opponent and win a stuffed animal!

Here's the beginning of the story that carried that headline and subhead: "If you were starting to wonder if Hollywood could possibly squeeze any more money out of the 'Hunger Games' franchise, shame on you for doubting them. Lionsgate is now in talks to develop theme parks based on the popular series, Variety reports. The entertainment company’s CEO Jon Feltheimer made the announcement Friday morning.

“ 'We have been approached in two different territories about potential theme park opportunities, which gives you a sense of the cultural impact of this franchise,” Feltheimer told analysts on a conference call. He said they were 'pursuing' those opportunities..."

Variety said Feltheimer gave no further details.

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'Veronica Mars' Creator Working on Zombie Project

"Veronica Mars" creator Rob Thomas is developing a zombie project for the CW called "iZombie," reports Deadline.com.

Thomas will work with Diane Ruggiero, the co-writer of his fan-funded "Veronica Mars" movie, on writing the zombie project. It's based on characters created by DC Comics' Chris Roberson and Michael Allred, and focuses on a medical student who becomes a zombie and takes a job in a coroner's office to gain access to brains.

The piece reports: "Zombies cannot be hotter at the moment with AMC’s 'The Walking Dead' shattering ratings records and Brad Pitt’s 'World War Z' doing well in theaters recently. Additionally, there are three series projects about loved ones coming back from the dead: 'Babylon Fields' at NBC, a remake of the hit French drama 'The Returned' at A&E, and ABC’s midseason series 'Resurrection.'"

rob thomas.pngRob Thomas

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In Explosive Deposition, Tom Cruise Says Scientology Is One Reason Katie Holmes Left Him

Actor Tom Cruise admitted in a court deposition that his ex, actress Katie Holmes, left him and filed for divorce in part to protect their daughter, Suri, from Scientology, People magazine reports.

Cruise made the revelation in a deposition as part of his lawsuit against Bauer Publishing. the publisher of In Touch magazine, which Cruise is suing over a cover story alleging that the actor "abandoned" his daughter following the couple's June 2012 divorce.

The deposition took place Sept. 9 in Los Angeles, with the transcript later filed publicly, the story notes. Cruise's comments came during questioning by Elizabeth McNamara, a lawyer for Bauer. Cruise is suing Bauer for $50 million.

"In the wide-ranging, often contentious deposition, Cruise's attorney Bert Fields was on hand as the star was forced to answer questions about everything from his use of private jets to Scientology," People reports. "He revealed that Suri is no longer practicing the religion. Pressed about whether Holmes left him to 'protect' Suri from Scientology, Cruise responded, 'I find that question offensive. … There is no need to protect my daughter from my religion.'

"But asked whether Holmes left him in part for that reason, Cruise said, 'That was one of the assertions, yes. … There are many other aspects to the divorce.'"

The actor also admitted that he didn't see his daughter for more than 100 days, "from Aug. 4, 2012, when they wrapped up a weeklong father-daughter vacation to Disney World, until that Thanksgiving," People reports.

Said Cruise: "Unfortunately in this situation it was impossible." Cruise cited the demands of his filming schedule as he was in London to shoot the sci-fi movie "All You Need Is Kill."

"Cruise said he phoned Suri nearly every day, though [he] agreed that phone calls are a poor substitute for seeing a child in person," the People story reports. "Talking to a young child on the phone, 'you have to work at it. I've gotten very good at it. I tell wonderful stories,' he said. 'I also find that, you know, Suri is a very happy child, and confident, and has a good sense of herself.'"

tom cruise-suri.pngTom Cruise and Suri

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Furor Continues Over Jimmy Kimmel Skit -- White House to Weigh In

While Jimmy Kimmel and ABC have apologized for a recent skit in which a child suggested the United States should "kill everyone in China" to get rid of the country's debt, the furor over the skit isn't dying down, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

Instead, the segment will now receive a response from the White House, after an official petition at WhiteHouse.gov received the 100,000 signatures required to receive an official administration response, the story says.

The petition, started Oct. 19 by "H.Z." from Cedar Park, Texas, reads, "The kids might not know anything better. However, Jimmy Kimmel and ABC’s management are adults. They had a choice not to air this racist program, which promotes racial hatred."

The report notes: "Kimmel's skit has already prompted several mea culpas, including the host greeting protesters outside his Hollywood Blvd. studio and apologizing in person."

Kimmel reportedly said when he met with protesters: "I come to you with nothing but love in my heart. I’m a comedian, I was trying to make people laugh; I'm sorry that I did it."

The official White House website promises only that staffers will review a petition that attracts enough signatures, and that it will receive an official response.

The petition has received "some rather unlikely requests," THR notes, including this one: "The program is totally unacceptable and it must be cut. A sincere apology must be issued. It is extremely distasteful, and this is the same rhetoric used in Nazi Germany against Jewish people."

The report adds: "In addition to calling for [Kimmel's] firing, the Los Angeles group that assembled in front of the El Capitan Theatre held up signs with a Hitler mustache drawn onto Kimmel's face."

The original skit can be seen by clicking here.

kimmel-protest-hitler.jpgAnti-Jimmy Kimmel protest in Hollywood

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CBS Apologizes for '60 Minutes' Benghazi Report

CBS has issued an apology for a report that aired on "60 Minutes" covering the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attack. The apology represents a shift of position from earlier this week, when the network defended the accuracy of the report, as we reported previously.

"60 Minutes" correspondent Lara Logan appeared today on "CBS This Morning" to discuss the report, telling co-hosts Norah O'Donnell and Jeff Glor, "We take the vetting of sources and stories very seriously at '60 Minutes,' and we took it seriously in this case. But we were misled and we were wrong."

The controversy is focused on a source who appeared on "60 Minutes" under the pseudonym Morgan Jones, who in reality is Dylan Davies, a security contractor who talked about his alleged actions in Libya on the night of the attack. Media outlets cited discrepancies between Davies' account on "60 Minutes" and other versions of his story that were reported elsewhere.

Logan said today on "CBS This Morning," speaking of Davies: "What we now know is that he told the FBI a different story from what he told us. That’s when we realized that we no longer had confidence in our source, and that we were wrong to put him on air, and we apologize to our viewers."

Also among the problems with the "60 Minutes" report is the revelation that Davies has a book deal with Simon & Schuster, which is a CBS-owned company, and CBS failed to disclose the connection as part of the "60 Minutes" report.

Please click here to read the full press release from CBS, which includes a transcript of Logan's appearance on "CBS This Morning."

Below is a video of Logan's appearance today on "CBS This Morning."

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Kathie Lee Gifford Says 'Today' Segment Was 'Crap' Before She Arrived

Kathie Lee Gifford was joined by her "Today" co-host Hoda Kotb on her new podcast, and talked about how their segment -- prior to Gifford's arrival -- was "crap," reports TheWrap.com.

Kotb agreed that the segment wasn't interesting, the story says, with the co-host calling it a "bore snore."

The fourth hour of "Today" was hosted by Kotb, Natalie Morales and former "Today" anchor Ann Curry from 2007 until Gifford joined in 2008. She replaced Curry and Morales.

Gifford added that she was hesitant to join the show because she was "afraid of being bored," the story says.

“I turned it on and it was basically a discussion of what white shirt holds up best in the wash,” Gifford said of show. “Thank goodness I don’t keep a gun handy or I would have shot myself. It was deadly, it was awful, it was boring and I told ["Today" executive producer] Jim Bell that.”

Thumbnail image for kathie-lee-gifford.jpgKathie Lee Gifford

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NBCU Cuts Ad Sales Staff

NBCUniversal has cut positions in ad sales after the company restructured that part of its business last month, reports Brian Steinberg at Variety.

It's not clear how many employees have been cut, although it could be as much as 3.5% of the ad sales personnel, the story reports. The senior executives remain in place, the piece adds.

Steinberg writes: "In an unorthodox maneuver unveiled last month, NBCUniversal said it would start selling its ad inventory not by network, but by the type of audiences advertisers wanted to reach. As such, the company put a single person, Dan Lovinger, over the sale of all advertising related to mass-entertainment programming, i.e. NBC broadcast, USA, Syfy and WWE programming. Laura Molen was placed in charge of selling ads across the company’s lifestyle cablers, including E!, Bravo and Esquire. Advertisers interested in attracting the live audiences who flock to sports events and news programming now deal with a group led by Seth Winter, formerly head of just sports ad sales. And Scott Schiller, a digital-ad sales executive, was given expanded oversight of advertising sales related to digital video."

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Reality TV Personality Under Fire for 'Bipolar' Tweet

A reality television personality is under fire for a tweet in which she talks about being "so bipolar." TheWrap.com reports that "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" star Kylie Jenner sent out a tweet comparing changing her hair color to being bipolar.

Her tweet read: "I miss my black hair I'm so bipolar." The message included a photo of her with dark hair. The twitterverse reacted negatively, with one commenter writing, "No, you're not 'so bipolar,' you're indecisive … and a moron."

A spokesman for the National Alliance on Mental Illness called Jenner's tweet "inappropriate" and "insensitive." Jenner hadn't yet responded to the backlash, the story adds.

“She’s 16. It’s an inappropriate, insensitive expression, but it reflects the need for greater education and understanding about mental illness among all teens. Particularly because most mental illness emerges by age 14,” the NAMI spokesman said.

kylie jenner.pngKylie Jenner

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Sharon Osbourne Contrite -- or Is She? -- After Unleashing Expletive Aimed at 'The View' Hosts

Sharon Osbourne is apologizing to the co-hosts of "The View" for saying they should "go f--- themselves," adding, "I'm not well," reports TMZ.com.

Osbourne made her criticism of Whoopi Goldberg, Jenny McCarthy and Sherri Shepherd during a segment on "The Arsenio Hall Show" earlier this week, and on Thursday's airing of Osbourne's show "The Talk," she apologized.

"I'm really just a loose cannon," Osbourne said, according to the TMZ report.

"Unfortunately I was inappropriate and I was trying to be funny at somebody else's expense," she added.

But Osbourne may be having the last laugh, as she's generating a lot of publicity for her comments and the subsequent apology, notes the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

The Times asks: "Is it sincere? Who knows, but that's not the point. What matters is that 'The Talk' and 'The View' are locked in a battle for viewers, and 'The Talk' -- which was widely ridiculed as a 'View' pretender when it premiered a few seasons back -- is gaining. These are daily programs and the ratings picture changes slowly. It's a grinding battle. One way to get an edge is to dominate the news cycle."

sharon osbourne.jpgSharon Osbourne

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NBC Sets Plans for Holiday Edition of Show

NBC is rewarding a show that has performed well in the ratings, adding a holiday episode to the schedule. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the network has made plans for a "Hollywood Game Night" holiday special, which will feature celebrity guests including Ray Romano, Cheryl Hines and Gavin DeGraw.

The special, which will air Dec. 2 at 10 p.m., was ordered after the network renewed the game show for a second season. Production is already taking place on the holiday special and season two, the story adds. The game show is hosted by "Glee's" Jane Lynch.

The special will air after a two-hour episode of "The Voice," and is part of NBC's lineup of holiday programming that starts Nov. 27 with a Thanksgiving "Saturday Night Live" special, the story notes.

Also on tap for the all-star special are Rachel Bilson, Andy Roddick and Brooklyn Decker.

andy roddick.pngAndy Roddick

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'American Horror Story' in Talks With Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett

"American Horror Story" co-creator Ryan Murphy tells EW.com's Inside TV that he has approached both Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett about continuing on the FX show.

"I have approached them and they wanna do it,” Murphy told the publication. He added, “That’s very exciting when you can work with (A) actresses you’ve always idolized and (B) those two are loving this season. They love what they get to do. Kathy Bates sent the writers a basket of plush toys all in the shapes of disemboweled organs. It doesn’t get better than when an Oscar winner sends you a grab bag of stuffed pancreas to say ‘Thank you and job well done.’”

FX recently renewed the show for a fourth season.

Thumbnail image for Kathy-Bates.jpgKathy Bates

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Former 'SNL' Cast Member to Star In and Produce Fox Comedy

Fox has a comedy in development that will star and be produced by a former "Saturday Night Live" cast member. TheWrap.com reports that the untitled single-camera project comes from Molly Shannon.

Shannon will play Fiona, a woman at the top of her career, but whose home life includes clashes with her stay-at-home pregnant daughter. Shannon will reunite with Bruce McCulloch, a former "SNL" writer who also directed Shannon's 1999 film "Superstar," based on her popular "SNL" character Mary Katherine Gallagher.

McCulloch is set to write and work as showrunner on the project, from 3 Arts Entertainment in association with Twentieth Century Fox TV. David Miner is also on board as an executive producer.

molly shannon.pngMolly Shannon

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Universal TV Gets Into Business With J.Lo

Universal Television has struck a first-look production deal with Jennifer Lopez' Nuyorican Productions, under which the company will develop new scripted and reality projects, reports Deadline.com.

Nuyorican has a new ABC Family drama, "The Fosters," which was recently renewed for a second season. A goal of the company is to "create edgy, timely and relevant programming," Lopez said in a statement.

In conjunction with the deal, Nuyorican tapped Priscilla Porianda as head of development. She joined the company last year.

"She will work closely with Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Benny Medina and I in expanding our brand into scripted and unscripted television," Lopez said.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for jennifer-lopez.jpgJennifer Lopez

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Interview With Cleveland Kidnapping Victim Fuels Ratings Surge for 'Dr. Phil'

"Dr. Phil" scored a season high with its two-day interview with Cleveland kidnapping victim Michelle Knight, reports Variety.

The two-part interview scored an identical 4.0 household rating/11 share on both Tuesday and Wednesday, which represents a season high, the story says.

Ratings in Cleveland were particularly high, with a 16.9 rating/34 share in the city, about four times the average from November 2012.

"Total viewer estimates won’t be available until later this month, but this week’s two-part interview figures to easily surpass 5 million," the piece adds.

Thumbnail image for michelle knight-cleveland.pngMichelle Knight

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ABC Orders Comedy Starring 'Daily Show' Contributor

ABC has ordered a comedy project that will star an actress and comedian known for her work as a contributor to Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" and her appearances on HBO's "Flight of the Conchords."

Deadline.com reports that the network bought "American Monster," which will star Kristen Schaal. Schaal and her husband, former "Daily Show" writer Rich Blomquist, joined forces with writer-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller on the project.

Schaal's character is described in the report as "a small-town misfit who becomes an unlikely celebrity when she goes on trial for the murder of the century." Schaal and Blomquist will write the script, and will also executive produce along with Lord and Miller and Seth Cohen for 20th Century Fox TV and Lord Miller.

"This is the third sale for Lord Miller in the company’s first season under the exclusive three-year deal it inked with 20th TV in May," the report notes. "It also has two comedies at Fox, 'The Last Man on Earth' from Will Forte, which has a pilot production commitment, and 'Torched' from writer Chris Romano, which has a put pilot commitment.

Lord and Miller directed the pilot for Fox’s "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," the report notes.

Thumbnail image for kristen-schaal.jpgKristen Schaal

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ABC Crushes the Competition in Wednesday Prime Time

ABC found a way to blow away its broadcast rivals in the ratings Wednesday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo as well as total viewers.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the Alphabet Network's coverage of "The CMA Awards" delivered a dominant 4.7 average in viewers 18-49 -- more than twice what its closest rival could muster. The number was up 24% from last year's show, ranking last night's program as the most-watched CMAs in four years.

The program averaged 16.63 million total viewers to easily outdistance all the other broadcast networks.

Second-place CBS got its usual steady performance from its two Wednesday night dramas, along with a bump from "Survivor: Blood vs. Water." "Survivor" was up two-tenths of a ratings point from last week with a 2.5 in viewers 18-49. Both "Criminal Minds" and "CSI" matched last week's numbers -- a 2.4 for "Criminal Minds" and a 1.7 for "CSI."

Fox's "The X Factor" continued to struggle to gain traction. The two-hour singing competition had a 1.5 in the 18-49 demo, the same as the show's Tuesday installment last week but well off the pace of the previous regular Wednesday airing, back on Oct. 9, when the show delivered a 2.2.

NBC couldn't quite match Fox's numbers, winding up in fourth place. "Revolution" ticked along with a 1.4 in adults 18-49, equaling its number from a week ago, while "Law & Order: SVU" ticked up one-tenth from its previous original to a 1.4. "Dateline" wrapped things up with a 1.1 at 10 p.m.

For prime time overall, ABC's 4.7 average was by far the best number in the 18-49 demo, putting it well ahead of CBS (2.2 average), Fox (1.5), NBC (1.3) and Univision (1.2). ABC was a big winner in total viewers as well, averaging 16.63 million to lead CBS (9.25 million), NBC (5.10 million), Fox (4.51 million) and Univision (3.24 million).

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Asked About the Paternity Issue, New MSNBC Host Ronan Farrow Tells THR Reporter: 'Don't You Feel Like a Quality Journalist Right Now?'

Even in an interview billed as his first since MSNBC announced he's getting a show on the cable network, Ronan Farrow sounds as if he's tired of the paternity questions.

Asked by The Hollywood Reporter's Marisa Guthrie for a comment on the headlines surrounding his paternity -- with rumors that he's Frank Sinatra's biological child instead of Woody Allen's -- the son of actress Mia Farrow responded, "Don't you feel like a quality journalist right now?"

Guthrie writes that Farrow, 25, delivered the line "conspiratorially," and with a laugh.

On the subject of his upcoming MSNBC show, Farrow said he plans to "shake things up" at the cable news network, adding that he has a mandate to provide "a fresh take."

Farrow, a Rhodes scholar who graduated from college at age 15, said he "managed to screw up plenty in life, mind you, but in the things I really cared about -- the legal work, or the stories I was telling as a writer, or the office I built in government -- I wasn't left a lot of margin for error. It's kept me driven."

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for ronan farrow.pngRonan Farrow

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'Star Wars' Sequel Gets a Release Date

The release date has been set for the eagerly anticipated "Star Wars: Episode VII." Time magazine reports that the movie will hit theaters in a little more than two years -- Dec. 18, 2015, in time for the holidays.

The Walt Disney Studios made the announcement on the StarWars.com website.

Alan Horn, chairman of the studio, said in a statement on the site: “We’re very excited to share the official 2015 release date for 'Star Wars: Episode VII,' where it will not only anchor the popular holiday filmgoing season but also ensure our extraordinary filmmaking team has the time needed to deliver a sensational picture."

The report notes: "'Episode VII' underwent a screenwriter switch-up last month, with the film’s director J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan taking over for original writer Michael Arndt, most well-known for his work on Toy Story 3 and Little Miss Sunshine. After the switch, Abrams told Deadline that the 2015 completion deadline had a role in the swap."

Said Abrams, speaking to Deadline: “It became clear that given the time frame and given the process and the way the thing was going that working with Larry in this way was going to get us where we need to be and when we needed to be."

The movie's story line reportedly picks up after the action of "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi," released in 1983. Shooting is scheduled to beging in spring 2014.

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Twitter Stock Hits a Home Run on First Day of Trading

Twitter shares hit it out of the park in their first day of trading, with the price soaring as investors grabbed for a piece of what they hope will be the next monster social media stock.

USA Today reports that Twitter shares soared 73% by the close of the market.

"Twitter and its bankers, led by Goldman Sachs' Anthony Noto, priced its IPO at $26 a share late Wednesday. The offering raises more than $2 billion and valued the business at $18.34 billion," the report notes. "The shares opened at $45.10 on the New York Stock Exchange, under ticker TWTR. The stock climbed as high as $50.09 and closed at $44.90, up 73%. That values the company at more than $31 billion, which compares to Facebook's market capitalization of $120 billion and LinkedIn's $26 billion value."

The pricing illustrates that "euphoria is returning to the tech sector," the story reports, attributing the enthusiasm to "optimism about the potential for social media to grab a big share of the booming online advertising business."

Shares in Facebook and LinkedIn are also surging, the report notes, with both stocks "up at least 80% so far in 2013."

Said Morningstar equity analyst Rick Summer: "We're entering a pretty extended period of optimism. There is a lot of downside risk at these levels."

The report adds: "Summer has a $26 fair value for the micro-blogging service, which assumes the company can attract one billion users over the next ten years, up from about 230 million now, while improving its monetization of those users by 20% a year."

Says Summer: "Is it possible this won't materialize? Absolutely. Our downside fair value target is $15."

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Time Slots Are Tight for Fall 2014 as Syndicators Plan to Unleash a Huge Pile of New Shows

The distributors of syndicated television programming are finding out that time slots are hard to come by for fall 2014, with syndicators hoping to roll out somewhere in the ballpark of 20 new shows.

Most of those new programs are anything but sure things at this point, TVNewsCheck reports. Only three are a firm go, according to the report: "Meredith Vieira," from NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution, and "The Real" and "TMZ Live," both from Warner Bros.

"Pickups of the others will depend in large part on which current shows don't return and open up coveted time slots," the story reports.

The new syndie fare includes more than a dozen first-run programs and seven off-net shows, the report notes.

"The New York-based 'Meredith' will be a multi-topic talk show with celebrity guests and a regular sidekick for Vieira. It’s already cleared in 70% of TV homes with the NBC Owned Television Stations supplying clearances in the top markets," the story reports. It adds: "'The Real' is a 'View'-style panel talk show with five co-hosts, including comedian Loni Love, which Fox TV Stations tested successfully over the summer. 'TMZ Live,' a spinoff of entertainment newsmagazine 'TMZ,' has been slowly rolling out since 2012, initially on Fox stations."

The chances for the rest of the bunch rest heavily on the fate of a few current bubble shows. The at-risk group, the story reports, includes Disney-ABC’s "Katie," Warner Bros.’ "Bethenny," CBS Television Distribution’s "The Test" and Trifecta’s "OK! TV."

"'Katie's' fate rests mostly with the ABC Owned Television Stations, Disney's in-house station group," TVNewsCheck reports. "If the O&Os don’t want a third season or can't get it for the terms they want, there will not be a third season. A decision is said to be imminent."

"Bethenny" is looking a little better after a recent uptick in ratings. "In fact, among women 25-54 and women 18-49, it outperformed Sony Pictures Television’s rookie 'Queen Latifah' the week of Oct. 21. Week to week, it was up 33% and 20%, respectively," the piece reports.

Both "OK! TV" and "The Test" are among the poorest-performing syndicated programs on the air, the article notes. "However, 'Test' is performing on par with NBCUniversal’s conflict-talk show 'Trisha,' which is snagging third-season renewals on major station groups," the report notes.

The new programs looking for distribution include talk shows, game shows, court shows and panel shows, the piece says.

"Debmar-Mercury and station group Scripps are developing a 'View'-style panel show with a legal twist. Its chief panelist is former 'View' co-host and celebrity attorney Star Jones. An announcement that the show will go forward is expected soon," the story reports. "Debmar-Mercury, which has seen its 'Family Feud' surpass 'Wheel of Fortune' and 'Jeopardy' as the No. 1 game show among adults 18-49, is likely to secure clearances for its Craig Ferguson-hosted game show 'Celebrity Name Game.'"

CBS TV Distribution and "Judge Judy" star Judy Sheindlin are readying the court show "Hot Bench." "With three judges deciding cases, CTD is expected to announce a launch group soon," the story reports.

Said Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming for Katz Television Group: “I would be very surprised if CBS doesn’t get 'Hot Bench' launched, and I’d be very surprised if Debmar doesn’t get their game show launched."

Please click on the link near the top of this story to read the full in-depth report at TVNewsCheck.com.

meredith vieira-nbcu.jpgMeredith Vieira

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Who Will Succeed Matt Lauer at 'Today'? If Q Scores Matter, We Can Rule Out at Least One High-Profile Contender

NBC will focus on finding a successor to "Today" co-host Matt Lauer over the next two years, even though NBC News Group Chairman Patricia Fili-Krushel recently said she wants to keep Lauer "as long as he wants to stay," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Marisa Guthrie.

"The botched June 2012 changeover from Ann Curry to Savannah Guthrie might have torpedoed NBC News' reputation as the outlet of the deftly executed handoff, but it also has made NBCUniversal executives including CEO Steve Burke and News Group Chairman Patricia Fili-Krushel determined to make the next one smooth and painless," Guthrie writes.

Willie Geist, who joined "Today" more than a year ago, and "Meet the Press" host David Gregory are "the obvious in-house candidates to succeed Lauer, should he leave," the story says.

Q Scores reveal that both Geist and Gregory have higher positive ratings than Lauer. Gregory's stands at 18 among adult women, compared with 14 for Geist. Lauer's score this year dropped to a positive Q Score of 7.

Another contender is CNBC's Carl Quintanilla, while the ubiquitous Ryan Seacrest, who was the subject of considerable speculation about the anchor position last year, is said to be a long shot.

Also listed by Guthrie as a long shot -- albeit a high-profile one -- is Carson Daly, who became digital host and social media correspondent for "Today" back in September. Guthrie notes: "Among Lauer's morning-news colleagues, Daly is the most polarizing and has 'the weakest emotional connection' to female viewers, notes Q Scores executive VP Henry Schafer."

Guthrie adds, "For NBC News, the stakes could not be higher. In 2012, 'Today' generated $515 million in ad revenue for the 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. hours, according to Kantar Media, the biggest moneymaker in the NBC News portfolio. But 'Good Morning America's' ratings -- in September, 'GMA' marked a full season as the No. 1 morning program among total viewers and the 25-to-54 demo -- spurred a shift in upfront dollars from 'Today' to 'GMA,' say buyers."

Thumbnail image for carson-daly.jpgCarson Daly

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Guest on NBC's 'Today' Dies Just Hours After Her Appearance on the Show

A woman who made an appearance this week on NBC's morning show "Today" died soon after that appearance.

USA Today reports that Joy Johnson, a retired gym teacher who was the oldest woman to compete in Sunday's New York City Marathon, died Monday, just hours after she shook hands on "Today" with weatherman Al Roker.

Johnson, 86, died at Bellevue Hospital Center Monday afternoon. She likely died due to a fall she suffered before finishing the race for her 25th time, the story says.

"She wanted to die with her track shoes on," her daughter, Diana Boydston, said. "And she did. Literally."

Johnson, a California native, hit her head when she fell at about mile 20. She refused to go to the hospital and finished the race in about eight hours, her daughter said. When she appeared on "Today" -- an appearance that had become part of her post-marathon ritual, including showing off her medal -- she had bandages on her face, and told Roker, "It looks worse than it really is," according to TVNewser.

USA Today adds: "The 5-foot-5 Johnson took up running when she retired. She told the New York Daily News that her daily training in the weeks before the race consisted of coffee, Bible verses and an eight-mile run, plus 150 pushups some days."

The story quotes Johnson saying Saturday in her hotel room: "I always say I'm going to run until I drop. I'm going to die in my tennis shoes. I just don't know when I'm going to quit."

joy johnson-al roker-today-2013.jpgJoy Johnson with Al Roker, earlier this week on "Today"

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Groundbreaking TV Deal Brings Marvel Heroes to Netflix

Netflix and Marvel owner Disney today announced a landmark deal that will bring a number of Marvel's heroes to the video streaming service.

The long-term deal calls for Marvel TV to develop four serialized programs along with a miniseries programming event, the companies said.

"Led by a series focused on 'Daredevil,' followed by 'Jessica Jones,' 'Iron Fist' and 'Luke Cage,' the epic will unfold over multiple years of original programming, taking Netflix members deep into the gritty world of heroes and villains of Hell’s Kitchen, New York," the companies announced.

Netflix has committed to at least four series of 13 episodes each, culminating in a miniseries focused on Marvel’s “The Defenders” that "reimagines a dream team of self-sacrificing, heroic characters," the companies said.

The programming, which marks Marvel’s most ambitious foray yet into live-action television, will be produced by Marvel Television in association with ABC Television Studios.

Said Alan Fine, president of Marvel Entertainment: “This deal is unparalleled in its scope and size, and reinforces our commitment to deliver Marvel's brand, content and characters across all platforms of storytelling. Netflix offers an incredible platform for the kind of rich storytelling that is Marvel’s specialty. This serialized epic expands the narrative possibilities of on-demand television and gives fans the flexibility to immerse themselves how and when they want in what’s sure to be a thrilling and engaging adventure.”

Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos added: “Marvel’s movies, such as 'Iron Man' and 'Marvel’s The Avengers,' are huge favorites on our service around the world. Like Disney, Marvel is a known and loved brand that travels. With 'House of Cards' and our other original series, we have pioneered new approaches to storytelling and to global distribution, and we’re thrilled to be working with Disney and Marvel to take our brand of television to new levels with a creative project of this magnitude.”

The companies' announcement notes: "This new original TV deal follows last year’s landmark movie distribution deal through which, beginning with 2016 theatrically released feature films, Netflix will be the exclusive U.S. subscription television service for first-run, live-action and animated movies from the Walt Disney Studios, including titles from Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Disneynature and Lucasfilm."

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FX Renews Acclaimed Drama Series

FX is bringing back a heavily honored drama series for another season, with the show's star also tapped to return. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that the cable net ordered a fourth season of "American Horror Story."

Star Jessica Lange will also be back, with her current contract extending through season four, Deadline.com reports. Lange has been on board since season one, winning an Emmy in 2012 for her work on the show.

The series, which focuses on a different set of characters each season, has been pulling an audience that's 87% larger than last season, the Times reports. So far, the third season is drawing an average of 7.74 million viewers.

"Additionally, the decision to cast it as a series of miniseries and not a traditional drama has paid off well for FX at the 2013 Emmys, where Season 2's 'American Horror Story: Asylum' grabbed 17 nominations, the most of any single program. The series has received a total of 34 nominations and four Emmy wins," the Times adds.

Thumbnail image for jessica lange 2.pngJessica Lange

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A Major-Market Broadcast Partnership Dating Back to 1948 Could Be About to Go Away

A major-market broadcast partnership that has been in place for 65 years may soon be a thing of the past. The Chicago Tribune reports that the Chicago Cubs may exit their broadcast contract with WGN-TV after the 2014 season.

The team has notified the Tribune-owned station that it has 30 days to agree to higher fees for the 2015 season or negotiations would open with other media outlets, the story reports.

"The move not only sets a higher price for the broadcast rights, but shortens the duration of the agreement to 2019, lopping three years off the existing agreement," the story reports. "If Tribune Co. doesn’t step up to the plate within 30 days, the team is free to explore other broadcast options for about 70 games televised each season by WGN, opening the door to a potentially more lucrative contract, or perhaps its own cable sports network."

The broadcast partnership between WGN and the Cubs stems back to 1948, the piece notes. The team now gets about $20 million to air 70 games each year.

But with rights fees for sports deals rising sharply, the team could possibly find a more profitable deal elsewhere, the piece notes.

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CBS's Leslie Moonves Adds Insult to Injury for Time Warner Cable

CBS chief Leslie Moonves told analysts on a conference call to discuss his company's third-quarter earnings that the broadcaster's results were not hurt by the Time Warner Cable blackout, reports Deadline.com.

Moonves "rubbed a little salt into the cable operators' wounds" with the remark, the story notes. The comment comes after Time Warner Cable last week announced a hefty loss of subscribers, as previously reported. The company shed 306,000 video customers, and blamed its battle with CBS.

Moonves "put other pay TV distributors on notice that CBS’s revenues from retransmission consent fees are up 50% so far this year and 'you’ll see even bigger increases in the years to come' -- even without giving up streaming rights to its programs," Deadline reports.

"We don’t lose any sleep,” CBS Chief Operating Officer Joseph Ianniello said, according to the story. “As long as consumers have a choice [with satellite or telco video providers] they’ll always find CBS.”

Thumbnail image for Leslie-Moonves.jpgLeslie Moonves

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Nexstar to Acquire Seven TV Stations for $87.5M

Nexstar Broadcasting Group announced a deal today that gives it control of seven television stations in four markets, the financial news website Benzinga reports.

The $87.5 million deal, which the report says "is expected to be immediately accretive upon closing," gives Nexstar the stock of Grant Company, which owns the stations.

"Simultaneous with the Grant agreement, Nexstar entered into a purchase agreement with Mission Broadcasting, Inc. ... pursuant to which Mission will purchase one of the Grant stations from Nexstar and, upon consummation of the transaction, enter into local service agreements with Nexstar," the story says. "The acquisition will be funded through internal sources, borrowings under the existing credit facilities and future credit market transactions."

The stations, all Fox and CW affiliates, are WFXR-WWCW, Roanoke, Va. (Fox-CW, DMA 66); WZDX, Huntsville, Ala. (Fox, DMA 79); KGCW-KLJB, Quad Cities, Iowa (CW-Fox, DMA 41) ; and WLAX-WEUX La Crosse, Wis. (Fox-Fox, DMA 128).

The acquisition brings Nexstar's holdings to 102 stations in 54 DMAs, covering about 15.5% on the U.S. TV marketplace.

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ABC Developing Baby Boomer Comedy

As the Baby Boomer generation arrives at a "certain age," ABC is developing a comedy about men in their 60s -- former basketball teammates -- who reconnect and rediscover friendship, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

The project comes from "The Neighbors" creator Dan Fogelman and "The George Lopez Show" co-creator Robert Borden. Borden will write and executive produce with Fogelman.

Andreeva writes: "It is good timing for the project, coming on the heels of a weekend where three opening movies featured stars over 60: Fogelman-penned comedy 'Last Vegas' ( Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas and Kevin Kline) and dramas 'Ender’s Game' (Harrison Ford) and 'All Is Lost' (Robert Redford). With the baby boomers entering retirement, there is a growing audience for entertainment featuring more mature stars."

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Disney Channel Greenlights Pilot for Spy Comedy

Disney Channel has greenlighted a half-hour spy comedy pilot. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the project, "Super Awesome Katy," will star "Shake It Up" actress Zendaya.

The project is about a girl named Katy Cooper, played by Zendaya, who is both a black belt and a tech whiz. She finds out that her parents are spies who expect her to follow their career path, the story says.

Production will start in early 2014, with "Shake It Up" executive producer Rob Lotterstein serving in the same role on "Super Awesome Katy."

"Shake It Up" will air its series finale Nov. 10.

zendaya.jpgZendaya

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Fox Orders Pilot From 'Don't Trust the B----' Creator

Fox has given an early pilot order to a comedy written by "Don't Trust the B--- at Apt. 23" creator Nahnatchka Khan, Deadline.com reports.

The pilot for "Fatrick" is slated to be directed by Oscar-winning writers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash of "The Descendants," while Corey Nickerson will co-executive produce.

The project is about Patrick, a 30-something moving man who used to be a fat kid and was nicknamed Fatrick. His new life continues to be haunted by his past, and the show will shift between the present and his childhood years.

Faxon and Rash will make their television directorial debuts with the project.

Thumbnail image for Nahnatchka-Khan.pngNahnatchka Khan

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HBO Developing Crime Thriller 'Headhunters'

HBO is developing a project based on the 2008 book "Headhunters" by Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø, reports Deadline.com.

Alexander Woo, a consulting producer on TNT's "Legends," will write and executive produce. HBO-based producer Carolyn Strauss will also executive produce for the Swedish production company Yellow Bird Entertainment, which owns the book's rights.

The project is the latest stemming from a Nesbø novel. NBC recently passed on a project called "I Am Victor," which was developed last season and went to pilot.

jo nesbo.jpgJo Nesbø

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Damon Wayans Jr. Returns Full Time to Fox Series

Damon Wayans Jr., an original cast member on Fox's comedy series "New Girl," will continue with the show for the rest of the third season after returning for a four-episode guest arc, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Wayans left the show early on because of his role on ABC's "Happy Endings." Ratings for his first guest appearance coincided with an 11% rise in ratings from the show's previous original episode, which aired a few weeks ago, the story notes.

damon-wayans-jr.jpgDamon Wayans Jr.

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Popular Longtime ABC News Personality in Rehab for Alcohol Abuse

A popular ABC News personality is in a rehabilitation facility for alcohol abuse, reports the New York Daily News Confidenti@l blog in an exclusive story.

Says the story, "ABC’s '20/20' co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas, 51, has been MIA on the air for weeks, and Confidenti@l has learned she’s been in a well-respected rehab center for alcohol abuse. 'She’s checked herself into a facility, and she’s getting treatment,' one insider close to Vargas tells us. 'She’s been there for a few weeks and will be there for another few weeks.' "

The Confidenti@l story adds that it received this statement from Vargas: "Like so many people, I am dealing with addiction. I realized I was becoming increasingly dependent on alcohol. And feel fortunate to have recognized it for the problem it was becoming. I am in treatment and am so thankful for the love and support of my family, friends and colleagues at ABC News. Like so many others, I will deal with this challenge one day at a time. If coming forward today gives one other person the courage to seek help, I’m grateful.”

The story says it also received this statement from an ABC News spokesperson: “We are proud of the steps Elizabeth has taken and are pulling for her recovery. We look forward to having her back home at ABC News, where she has done so much distinguished work over the years. Elizabeth is a member of our family, and we will support her in every way we can."

After three years at NBC, Vargas joined ABC in 1996. She has also been a co-anchor of ABC's flagship newscast, "World News Tonight." She has held her current position on "20/20" since 2006.

elizabeth vargas-abc.jpgElizabeth Vargas

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Blockbuster's Retail Operation and DVD-by-Mail Business Shutting Down

Pioneering video-rental company Blockbuster is being shut down. USA Today reports that Dish Network, which owns the company, has decided to close Blockbuster's 300 remaining U.S. stores by early January, and will shut down DVD rentals by mail as of mid-December.

Said Joseph P. Clayton, CEO of Dish Network: "This is not an easy decision, yet consumer demand is clearly moving to digital distribution of video entertainment. Despite our closing of the physical distribution elements of the business, we continue to see value in the Blockbuster brand, and we expect to leverage that brand as we continue to expand our digital offerings."

The company will retain rights to Blockbuster's huge video library, along with licensing rights to the brand name, the piece reports.

"Dish said it will focus on expanding its Blockbuster @Home business, a streaming service available to Dish pay-TV customers. Blockbuster On Demand, the company's streaming service for the general public, will also continue to operate," the report notes.

Dish bought Blockbuster for $320 million in 2011, as Blockbuster was coming out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

"Dish's plan at the time was to leverage its more than 1,700 store locations to offer in-store rentals that would complement Dish's other video offerings," the story notes. "'Cross-marketing and service-extension opportunities' -- possibly in-store promotions for Dish's packages -- were also mentioned by Dish at the time of the acquisition.

"But running the stores proved to be tougher than Dish's management anticipated, as video lovers continued to flock to Netflix, YouTube and other startup streaming sites and cheaper kiosk rental locations."

Dish has been shutting down Blockbuster outlets since the acquisition, along with scaling back the rental library.

"Its rental library was cut in half in the last year, down to 41.5 million titles as of June from 81.9 million a year earlier," the story reports. "Blockbuster's revenue fell to $120 million in the second quarter, less than half of [the] $253.3 million it generated in the year-ago period."

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Pop Star Set to Become First Performer to Sing in Space

Talk about catching a ride to the gig. A pop superstar has scheduled a performance that's literally out of this world -- singing in outer space. Us Magazine reports that Lady Gaga has seized the opportunity to become the first artist to pull off the feat.

The gig is scheduled for early 2015.

"The 'Dope' performer, 27, is set to blast off in a Virgin Galactic ship and belt out a single track during the Zero G Colony high-tech musical festival in New Mexico," the article reports.

The piece quotes a source saying: "She has to do a month of vocal training because of the atmosphere." The source adds that Gaga's "glam squad" is expected to accompany the singer on the shuttle.

"Zero G Colony is a three-day hi-tech festival set to take place at Spaceport America in New Mexico that features world-class entertainment and cutting-edge technology," the story reports. "Gaga's performance in space is planned to take place on the third day at dawn, which is approximately six months after the first Virgin Galactic commercial flight."

Another source is quoted saying: "Gaga has taken out a ridiculous life insurance policy!"

lady gaga 2.pngLady Gaga

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NBC Wins Tuesday Night as a Number of Broadcast Shows Sink to Series Lows

NBC took a win for prime time Tuesday night in the broadcast ratings, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo, but TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the win came even as the network's franchise "The Voice" sank to a season low.

Meanwhile, a number of shows on the other networks notched series lows.

NBC's two-hour singing competition shed three-tenths of a point from last week's result, delivering a 3.3 average rating in 18-49 -- still good enough to finish as the top-rated broadcast show of the night. For its part, NBC's "The Biggest Loser" bounced back from a season low a week ago, climbing three-tenths to a 2.1. It was "Loser's" best rating since its season premiere.

Second-place CBS was mostly down, with "NCIS" dipping two-tenths from a week ago to a 2.9 average in viewers 18-49 while "NCIS: Los Angeles" also fell two-tenths, recording a 2.4. "Person of Interest" remained at the series low it scored last week, a 1.9 average.

Fox was paced by "New Girl," which rose two-tenths from the previous original episode to a 2.0 in the 18-49 demo. "The Mindy Project" also ticked up two-tenths, to a 1.5, while both "Dads" and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" matched the numbers for their previous fresh installments -- a 1.4 for "Dads" and a 1.6 for "Brooklyn."

ABC wound up in fourth place, as two of its shows -- "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." and "The Goldbergs" -- sank to series lows. "Marvel's" slipped two-tenths of a point from its previous original with a 2.5 in adults 18-49, while "Goldbergs" lost two-tenths from a week ago for a 1.5.

"Trophy Wife" was also off two-tenths from last week, with a 1.2 in 18-49, while ABC's special on the CMA Awards, "In the Spotlight With Robin Roberts," managed only a 0.7 at 10 p.m.

NBC came out on top for prime time overall with a 2.9 average in the 18-49 demo, ahead of CBS (2.4 average), Fox (1.6), ABC (1.5) and Univision (1.2). CBS finished with a big lead in total viewers, averaging 15.1 million to outpace NBC (9.7 million), ABC (4.4 million), Fox (3.6 million) and Univision (3.1 million).

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'From Dusk Till Dawn' TV Series Adds Don Johnson to Cast

An upcoming TV series based on the cult film "From Dusk Till Dawn" has added "Miami Vice" star Don Johnson to the cast, Deadline.com reports.

Johnson will revive his role as Sheriff Earl McGraw, whom he also played in the movie.

"DJ Cotrona, Zane Holtz and Jesse Garcia are set to star in English-language network El Rey’s first original series, the 10-episode 'From Dusk Til Dawn,' based on the cult horror movie by El Rey’s Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino," the story reports. "Like the movie, the El Rey/FactoryMade-produced series centers on career criminal Seth Gecko (Cotrona) and his older, seriously unstable brother Richie (Holtz). The roles were played in the film by George Clooney and Tarantino, respectively."

Garcia will play a character that is new for the series, a Texas Ranger named Freddie.

Production started this week in Austin, Texas, the piece notes. The first two episodes were written by Rodriguez, who is also directing them.

"Meanwhile, El Rey has assembled the writing and producing team for its second original series, from Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci’s K/O Paper Products," the report adds. "Dan Dworkin and Jay Beattie have joined the untitled action drama as executive producers and showrunners. They are writing the first episode, which will be directed by Rodriguez. ICM Partners-repped Dworkin and Beattie are co-creating the project with Orci and his cousin, Andrew Orci, and are exec producing with Kurtzman, Orci, Heather Kadin and El Rey’s Rodriguez, John Fogelman, and Cristina Patwa.

"The adventure drama is said to be a lighter, Latino take on James Bond."

don johnson.pngDon Johnson

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TBS Orders Pilot From Steve Carell

TBS has placed an order for a new single-camera comedy pilot to be written and directed by "The Office" alum Steve Carell, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

Carell and his wife, Nancy, created and will write and executive produce the project, "Tribeca," a police procedural parody.

The article describes the project as "a satirical look at a police procedural anchored by Angie Tribeca, a 10-year veteran of the LAPD's elite RHCU -- Really Heinous Crimes Unit. The single-camera comedy explores an eccentric but brilliant group of people who investigate crime, reveal way too much personal information, and refuse to rest until justice has been served … sort of. These dedicated men and women are more than counter-intuitive; they are nonintuitive."

The project comes from Carell's Carousel Productions.

"For TBS, the comedy joins fellow pilots 'Do It Yourself' starring Bill Engvall and the untitled half-hour from Josh Heald ('Hot Tub Time Machine,' 'Conan')," the story reports. "Should 'Tribeca' move to series, it would join a roster that includes Bill Lawrence's upcoming comedy 'Ground Floor,' the 10th season of 'American Dad,' 'Cougar Town,' 'Sullivan & Son,' 'Men at Work' and a roster of unscripted fare."

Thumbnail image for steve carell.pngSteve Carell

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CBS Stands Behind '60 Minutes' Report After Coming Under Fire

CBS News is defending the accuracy of a "60 Minutes" report after the piece was attacked in the media. Writing in The New York Times, Bill Carter notes that the Oct. 27 report about last year's Benghazi attacks drew fire from outlets including The Washington Post and the website for the watchdog group Media Matters.

Carter notes that correspondent Lara Logan admits the broadcast made one disclosure error. Logan said the report should have disclosed that a book written by the interview subject is published by a business owned by CBS, the story says.

Carter writes: "The '60 Minutes' report centered on an account from Dylan Davies, a security contractor who said he was at the site in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012, the night of the attack. He appeared on camera with Ms. Logan under the pseudonym Morgan Jones and described having an active role during the fighting that took place."

Following the broadcast, The Post and Media Matters cited an incident report attributed to Davies that varied from what he told "60 Minutes," the story says.

But Davies later told The Daily Beast that he had not written the report. "He also said he had lied to a superior about his part in the action on the night of the attack because he had been ordered not to go to the scene," Carter writes.

The result is "further partisan sniping, with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, citing the CBS account as evidence that the Obama administration was withholding facts about the attack," the story adds.

Logan said she spent a year investigating the attacks for the TV program. She "attributed the critical response to the report to the intense political warfare that has surrounded the episode," Carter writes.

“We worked on this for a year. We killed ourselves not to allow politics into this report,” Logan told The Times.

"Ms. Logan said 'The Embassy House,' the book written under the Morgan Jones pseudonym, along with Damian Lewis, presents a version of events consistent with what was reported on the television program," the story reports, quoting Logan saying: “If you read the book, you would know he never had two stories. He only had one story."

CBS News Chairman Jeffrey Fager, who executive produces “60 Minutes,” said Tuesday that "he regretted not making the connection between Mr. Davies and CBS public," the piece adds.

Added Logan: “Honestly, it never factored into the story. It was a mistake; we should have done it, precisely because there’s nothing to hide. It was an oversight.”

lara logan.jpgLara Logan

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Fake Emergency Alert System Warning in 'Conan' Promo Gets TBS in Trouble With FCC

TBS is facing a fine from the Federal Communications Commission after the network used a fake Emergency Alert System alarm during an ad for "Conan," B&C reports.

The FCC Enforcement Bureau Acting Chief Robert H. Radcliffe said the proposed $25,000 fine sends a "strong message." He added, "It is inexcusable to trivialize the sounds specifically used to notify viewers of the dangers of an incoming tornado or to alert them to be on the lookout for a kidnapped child, merely to advertise a talk show or a clothing store."

Radcliffe added that such fake alerts are in "clear violation of the law."

Turner said the promo was produced under a tight deadline and that it wasn't submitted to standards and practices, B&C notes. That is now standard procedure for similar "Conan" promos, the piece adds.

While the regular fine for such violations is $8,000, the FCC increased it because the ad was aired in both the East and West Coast feeds, indicating a willful and repeated violation, the story says.

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'Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon' Names Head Writer

With late-night host Jimmy Fallon preparing his transition to NBC's "The Tonight Show," the program has announced a head writer -- and the selection is no surprise: It's Fallon's head writer on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," A.D. Miles, reports Deadline.com.

Miles has worked as head writer on "Late Night" since 2009, and will continue in that role when Fallon shifts to "The Tonight Show" Feb. 17.

"Miles, an actor-comedian who worked the New York comedy scene in the 1990s and starred on Comedy Central’s 'Dog Bites Man,' had no talk show experience when he was hired as 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon's' first head writer. He helped establish the show’s brand of elaborate parodies and high-energy bits," the story notes.

AD Miles-NBC.pngA.D. Miles

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New Year's Eve Odd Couple Set to Do It Again

A set of seemingly mismatched TV hosts will reunite Dec. 31 to reprise their collaboration on a TV New Year's Eve celebration. TVNewser.com reports that newsman Anderson Cooper and comedian Kathy Griffin will again co-host CNN's annual New Year's Eve telecast.

It will be the pair's seventh consecutive year co-hosting CNN's New Year's Eve program live from Times Square, the story says. They've had many noteworthy moments during that run, such as when Griffin slipped in the "F" word on-air in 2009, the piece notes.

Then there was last year's telecast, "when Griffin engaged in some good-natured sexual shenanigans, recoiling Cooper back in utter embarrassment," the report adds.

And in 2008, the piece reports, "Griffin heckled a crowd member who shouted at her, saying, 'Why don’t you get a job buddy. You know, I don’t go to your job and knock the d---s out of your mouth.'”

kathy griffin-anderson cooper.pngKathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper

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NBC Orders More Scripts for Comedy Series -- Despite Low Viewer Numbers

NBC has ordered additional scripts for a sitcom that hasn't exactly hit a ratings home run this season. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the order for four more scripts for "Sean Saves the World" shows the network continues to have hopes for the Sean Hayes vehicle.

The multicamera comedy is drawing an average of 4 million total viewers and a 1.3 rating in the 18-49 demographic, when counting live-plus-seven DVR viewing, the report notes.

The Thursday night series "received little traction early this season from its previous lead-in, the since-canceled 'Welcome to the Family,'" the story reports. "The comedy, about a openly gay single father learning to take care of his teenage daughter, posted a modest uptick last week, airing after a 'Saturday Night Live' special (1.2 in the demo)."

Nevertheless, the show has been cited on a number of critics' "likely to be canceled" lists, such as New York Magazine's Joe Adalian.

"The order for additional scripts comes as NBC looks to firm up its Thursday roster heading into the new year, when 'Community' will join the schedule and 'Parks and Recreation' will become 'Sean's' new lead-in at 8:30 p.m.," THR notes. "For Hayes, the news comes as he continues to oversee a full roster of NBC fare. His Hazy Mills banner with college pal Todd Milliner produces Friday drama 'Grimm' and the upcoming second season of unscripted entry 'Hollywood Game Night.'"

As we reported recently, Hayes blamed his show's low ratings on NBC, saying that the network "just doesn't have the eyeballs CBS does."

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Fox Shoots Down Rumors of 'Glee' Spinoff

With the end in sight for Fox's high-profile musical series "Glee," a rumor surfaced that the network is working on a "Glee" spinoff with Lea Michele -- and Fox quickly shot down the rumor, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

The rumor surfaced in a report published by RadarOnline that said "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy was working on the project, which would include other core cast members of the show.

The Times reports: "The hit Fox show is currently in its fifth season and is facing the roadblocks typical to television shows based on teenagers as they quickly age out of roles. A spinoff would be a good way to migrate key characters into a new playing field alongside Michele."

But after the Radar story quoted an anonymous inside source saying of the spinoff, "This is definitely happening," the Times reports: "Fox was quick to deny the story, which by Monday afternoon had been picked up by a variety of excited blogs and news outlets."

"Glee" has been renewed for a sixth season, and Murphy revealed last month that season six would be the show's last.

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Lifetime Developing Adaptation of Tony Winner

Lifetime is adapting a Tony Award-winning play as a television project. The New York Post reports that the cable net has "The Trip to Bountiful" in the works.

Cicely Tyson, who won a Tony for her lead role in the recent Broadway revival of the play, will reprise the role in the Lifetime movie.

The project will return the Horton Foote play to its roots on TV, as it was originally written for TV in 1953, the story notes. The 1953 TV movie, which aired on NBC, starred Lillian Gish.

The story is about an older woman living in Houston with her son, who refuses to take her back to her hometown, called Bountiful. She decides to make the trip herself, boarding a bus for the journey.

The movie also became an Academy Award-winning 1985 movie starring Geraldine Page and John Heard. Page took home the Oscar for best leading actress for her performance in the film.

Other cast members for the new production include Vanessa Williams, who also appeared in the Broadway revival, along with Blair Underwood and Keke Palmer. Lifetime will air the new production in 2014, the story notes.

cicely tyson-bountiful-2013.jpgCicely Tyson in "The Trip to Bountiful"

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'Under the Dome' Writer Developing ABC Alien Drama

Soo Hugh, a writer on the hit CBS drama series "Under the Dome," is developing a drama about aliens seeking to destroy the Earth for ABC, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

ABC has given the untitled project, from ABC Studios, a script commitment. Hugh, who has also worked on "The River" and "Zero Hour," will executive produce the project, which is said to focus on a race against the clock to defeat the aliens by using children.

Amblin TV's Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank, who also work on "Under the Dome," will executive produce the drama, while Dawn Olmstead will executive produce through her Grady Girl Productions.

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CNN's Newly Restarted 'Crossfire' Sinks to Ratings Low

After CNN sank to its worst prime-time ratings in more than a year last Wednesday, one of its new shows has also hit a new low, reports Deadline.com.

"Crossfire," which was restarted by CNN boss Jeff Zucker after eight years off the air, pulled only 233,000 total viewers and just 59,000 viewers in the key news demo of adults 25-54 for its Monday show, the piece notes.

"Monday’s results represent a significant drop from the October 3 high the Newt Gingrich, Stephanie Cutter, S.E. Cupp and Van Jones hosted show hit with 891,000 total viewers and 326,000 in the demo. 'Crossfire's' previous viewership low was on October 25 when it had 251,000 total viewers. The previous demo low was on September 20 when it drew just 66,000 viewers among adults 25-54," the story reports.

Rival full-hour shows on Fox News and MSNBC performed much better, with "Special Report" on Fox News drawing 2.44 million viewers and 411,000 in the demo. MSNBC's "PoliticsNation" drew 707,000 total viewers and 170,000 in the 25-54 group.

CNN also recorded its worst week under the Zucker regime for the week ended Nov. 1, averaging 385,000 total viewers and 95,000 adults 25-54. Comparable numbers for Fox News Channel: 2.367 million total viewers, 377,000 in the demo. And MSNBC: 683,000 total viewers, 150,000 in the demo.

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After 'Surviving' a Stint on NBC, Man of the Wild Maps Plans for Hellish New Series

A high-profile TV wildman has been to hell and back -- including a stay on NBC -- and now he has found his way home. EW.com's Inside TV reports that Bear Grylls is mapping his return to Discovery Channel with a new series, "Escape From Hell."

"The program has the survival expert telling stories of ordinary people who were stranded in real-life dire situations, and then [Grylls] pits himself against some of the same dangers and scenarios -- from avalanches to sand storms," the story reports.

The new project marks a homecoming for Grylls, who wrapped up five years of Discovery's "Man vs. Wild" in 2011.

"Last summer, Grylls survived a summer trek to one of the most perilous entertainment environments on the planet -- NBC -- for his reality show 'Get Out Alive' (no decision yet on a second season, NBC says)," the report notes.

In a statement, Grylls said: “I am super excited to be working with Discovery again -- the channel where the 'Man vs. Wild' journey began. 'Escape From Hell,' and any future endeavors, will be intense -- but that’s where the fun is! 'Man vs. Wild' took me to some of the toughest climates and terrains out there, and this new series is an exciting evolution of that."

The show will debut Nov. 11 with a special premiere before moving into its regular time slot starting Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 10 p.m.

Check out a trailer from the show's early U.K. rollout -- the dates and other broadcast details don't apply to the upcoming U.S. run:

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Drama Set in 1880s Paris on Tap at Broadcast Net

Another period drama is in development for broadcast television. Deadline.com reports that the project, set in 1880s Paris, is in the works at the CW, which already has the Mary, Queen of Scots drama "Reign" on the air.

The new project, "The Painted Girls," is based on the book of the same name by Cathy Marie Buchanan, which is about three sisters enrolled at a top ballet academy. One of them becomes a muse for the painter Edgar Degas. At the same time, a serial killer is on the loose in Paris.

Dan Jinks of "Pushing Daisies" is executive producing, while Tony-nominated playwright Geoffrey Nauffts will write the adaptation and co-executive produce. The project is from CBS TV Studios.

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Is NBC's 'The Blacklist' Really a Hit? Some Signals Are Unclear

While NBC is promoting its drama "The Blacklist" as a hit, some signals behind the show's apparent ratings success aren't clear, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

The Monday night show, which stars James Spader as a con man helping the FBI solve crimes, was the top-rated new drama last week, and the top-rated drama overall among adults 18-49, the story notes.

"As for the negatives?" the story asks. With a lead-in from "The Voice," "Blacklist" held onto only 72% of the singing competition's audience. That's "lower than the 80% or so network execs would like to see. What's unknown at this point is how 'Blacklist' would fare without one of the biggest shows on TV handing it a big audience," the piece says.

The story adds: "Also unclear? Whether 'Blacklist' has settled into a number it can deliver week after week. Monday's show sank to an all-time-low rating of 2.9 in 18 to 49. The show premiered in September with a 3.8 rating. (One troubling sign: 'Voice's' numbers were down too.)"

The report notes that NBC has already placed a full-season order for the show, which should give it time to grow artistically -- and to build a solid audience.

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It's Official: Nikki Finke Leaves Deadline, Vows to Start Another Site to Cover Hollywood

Nikki Finke has left Deadline.com.

Finke, who is the founder of Deadline.com, and up until this evening, its editor in chief, tweeted earlier tonight, Nov. 5, 2013, "Jay Penske has just told me I am free to leave. He tried to buy my silence. No sale."

Penske bought Deadline in 2009.

Finke also tweeted, "Great day! I loved starting Deadline Hollywood and I loved what we built. I now can leave and start a new career at NikkiFinke.com." It was followed by this tweet: "I'll announce shortly where I'm going to set up NikkiFInke.com and what will be the new showbiz news feed. Exciting changes!"

If one currently puts "NikkiFinke.com" into one's web browser, it defaults to Deadline.com.

On the Deadline.com site itself, Nellie Andreeva, who covers TV for Deadline, and Mike Fleming Jr., who covers movies, co-wrote a piece that carries the headline "Deadline.com and Nikki Finke Parting Ways." It says, in part, "This is an emotional and painful parting of the ways for us. When we joined Deadline four years ago from The Hollywood Reporter and Variety (respectively), we felt that we were doing something disruptive and game-changing. That spirit is what brought us together and will keep us together, and the current team will remain on that path. Businesses evolve and change, and we’ve learned that no one is indispensable."

Joe Flint of the Los Angeles Times Company Town blog wrote of Finke's departure, "Finke is leaving after repeated clashes with Jay Penske, who purchased the site in 2009 and also owns Variety. 'I'm so happy,' Finke said in a brief interview."

Flint notes that this week Finke and Penske "met with a mediator in an effort to reach an accord. While Finke said the talks didn't appear to go far, nonetheless Penske decided to release her from her contract, which ran through 2016."

To read some of the steps that lead to Finke's departure, please click here.

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History to Remake One of the Most Iconic TV Productions of All Time

One of the landmark events in the history of television is about to return to TV as a remake. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that History -- which is coming off a couple of massive ratings successes in "Hatfields & McCoys" and "The Bible" -- will remake the 1977 miniseries "Roots."

"The cable network is planning a new eight-hour 'Roots' miniseries after acquiring rights to the 12-hour original from Mark Wolper, son of 'Roots' executive producer, the late David L. Wolper, and to the book the mini was based on, 'Roots: The Saga of an American Family,' from the estate of author Alex Haley. Mark Wolper is on board as executive producer," Andreeva writes.

The original production, which starred LeVar Burton as Kunta Kinte, aired on ABC over eight nights in January 1977 and became a cultural phenomenon. The final episode remains the third most-watched TV program of all time, with Nielsen estimating the audience at 100 million viewers. The miniseries also won nine Emmys.

The new project will draw on both the book and the original production, adding a contemporary perspective, Andreeva notes.

Said History EVP and GM Dirk Hoogstra: “We would like to revive that cultural icon for a new audience."

Andreeva adds: "The project originated with a remark by one of Hoogstra’s executives, VP Development and Programming Michael Stiller, who suggested the network should try to remake 'Roots.' The idea was put into motion, and meetings were set up with Mark Wolper and the attorney representing the Haley estate. As talks progressed, it emerged that there was a second 'Roots' remake project out there from different original auspices that had been eyed by FX. In the end, History stepped up and secured rights, clearing the way for a new 'Roots' mini on the cable network."

Noting that similarly themed projects have been doing well lately -- "Django Unchained" and "12 Years a Slave" among them -- along with historical films such as "Lincoln," Hoogstra said: “History in general is in the zeitgeist, which is great for us being a network whose name is History."

levar burton-kunta kinte-roots-1977.jpgLeVar Burton as Kunta Kinte in the original 1977 "Roots"

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Set Your DVR, as PBS Gives Hendrix His Due -- Tonight

You may be wondering -- especially if you're of a certain age -- why a series calling itself "American Masters" waited this long, but tonight the acclaimed PBS documentary series will finally give guitar legend Jimi Hendrix his due.

Click here for a few choice details from TVWeek Open Mic writer Hillary Atkin, who has seen the two-hour program, "Jimi Hendrix -- Hear My Train a Comin'," and says it's not to be missed.

As if recently uncovered footage of Hendrix performing at the Miami Pop Festival in 1968 -- included in the production -- wouldn't be enough to convince you on its own.

jimi hendrix.jpgJimi Hendrix

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Another Night of Season Lows for NBC Prime Time -- Along With Another Nightly Win

NBC saw its prime-time lineup sink to season lows and a series low last night, but NBC has owned Monday nights this season and claimed another nightly win, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC's two-hour installment of "The Voice" hit a season low with a 3.6 average rating in viewers 18-49, losing a significant chunk of viewers from last week's 4.3 average. "The Voice" was still the top show on broadcast prime.

NBC's "The Blacklist," meanwhile, dipped to a series-low 2.9, shedding two-tenths of a point from a week ago.

Second-place Fox had its own problems, with "Bones" returning from a hiatus to a 2.0 average in 18-49, off two-tenths from its previous original, while "Sleepy Hollow" returned to a series-low 2.5, also slipping two-tenths from the show's previous original.

ABC finished a competitive third overall, with its two-hour "Dancing with the Stars" matching last week's 2.1 average in the 18-49 demo and "Castle" surging three-tenths to a 2.4.

CBS drifted to fourth place, even with "How I Met Your Mother" climbing four-tenths from a week ago to a 3.4 average in viewers 18-49. "Mike & Molly" had its season premiere, producing a 2.6 rating -- off the pace from last year's 3.1 but better than the 1.9 delivered by last season's finale.

"2 Broke Girls" dipped one-tenth to a 2.6 in adults 18-49, and "Mom" also fell one-tenth, to a 2.0. "Hostages" continued to struggle at 10 p.m., tying its series low with a 1.1 after managing a 1.2 a week ago.

For prime time overall, NBC led the pack with a 3.4 average in the 18-49 demo, ahead of Fox (2.3 average), ABC (2.2), CBS (2.1) and Univision (1.3). ABC came out on top in total viewers with 13.6 million, topping NBC (11.2 million), CBS (7.1 million), Fox (7.0 million) and Univision (3.4 million).

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Actresses From CBS Sitcom to Host People's Choice Awards -- We Have All the Nominees

Two actresses who star on a CBS comedy series were announced today as the hosts of the 40th annual People's Choice Awards. CBS announced that "2 Broke Girls" stars Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs will do the honors.

The ceremony will air live on CBS from Nokia Theater L.A. Live on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, from 9-11 p.m. ET, tape delayed for the same time slot on the West Coast.

Click here to see the full list of nominees, which was announced today, along with details on voting via the PeoplesChoice.com website, social media and mobile devices.

kat dennings-beth behrs.jpgKat Dennings, left, and Beth Behrs

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'Well, That's Not Very Kind': We Know Some of You Are Waiting for the Annual Post-Halloween Video Where Parents Torment Their Kids About the Candy

Jimmy Kimmel's massive Halloween prank is now in its third year, and while, as one youngster says in the video, "That's not very kind," it is still funny.

As he does each year, Kimmel gets parents to tell their kids that they (the parents) ate all the Halloween candy -- and much crying ensues, along with a few surprises. But we're pretty sure the kids do eventually get the candy.

See for yourself ...

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Cable News Channel Pulls Plug on Three Shows, Will 'Reposition the Brand'; Layoffs Are in the Works

A cable news channel has canceled three shows and announced that it is taking steps to "reposition the brand." The channel, HLN, made the announcement Monday, TheWrap.com reports.

A number of employees will be cut, including the staffs of "Raising America," "Now in America" and "Evening Express," which have all been canceled by HLN, the sister network to CNN.

"While change is necessary to evolve HLN, it is also difficult,” new network chief Albie Hecht wrote in a memo to staffers. “A handful of our family members will be impacted by today’s news.”

HLN is in fourth place among cable news networks. The channel will roll out its new schedule Nov. 18.

"News Now" will add an hour, while ABC's "What Would You Do?" will return to the schedule at 5 p.m. weekdays. "Showbiz Tonight" will move to 6 p.m. and will broadcast live from the HLN newsroom with repeats at noon and 11 p.m., making it appear to be "the big winner here," the story notes.

"Not affected are 'Morning Express,' 'Jane Velez-Mitchell,' 'Nancy Grace,' 'Dr. Drew on Call' and 'After Dark,' which will remain in their normal time slots," the report adds.

The piece notes: "Though HLN remains in fourth place in cable news ratings, it made big gains in the third quarter in both dayside and prime time versus last year." The channel also has a higher percentage of viewers in the key news demo of viewers 25-54 than MSNBC, Fox News or CNN, the story reports.

showbiz tonight-hln.png"Showbiz Tonight"

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Behind-the-Scenes Shakeup for Long-Running Series

A shakeup has taken place behind the scenes of a veteran show. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the animated comedy series "American Dad" is undergoing a change of leadership.

As the series prepares for its 11th season -- and transitions from its long run on Fox to its new home on TBS -- co-creator and co-showrunner Mike Barker has stepped down, Andreeva reports.

"I hear the change at the helm was made over concerns that the show was not running smoothly. Barker has been on 'American Dad' since the show’s 2005 launch except for a short-term leave last season," Andreeva writes.

Barker remains in an overall deal at 20th Century Fox TV, the studio behind the show. Fellow co-creator Matt Weitzman will serve as the sole showrunner for the time being, the piece notes.

mike barker.pngMike Barker

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Veteran TV Writer Has a Theory About CNN's Dwindling Ratings -- Is It All About One Major Political Issue?

CNN's ratings fell last week to the cable news channel's lowest weekly number since August 2012, a decline that may be tied to its coverage of the Affordable Care Act, writes veteran TV writer Bill Carter in The New York Times.

"Did that mean people didn’t want to hear wall-to-wall coverage of the failure of the site?" Carter asks. "Maybe not, if they were viewers already committed to one of the partisan corners: Both Fox News and MSNBC did far better last week, with heavy coverage of issues related to the health care law.

"But CNN, which led most of its news hours last week with reporting related to the site’s inadequacies, drew little interest from viewers, even on the day that Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services, testified in Congress and took many hostile questions from Republican representatives."

Fox News Channel's audience appears to be more interested in the story of the troubled rollout of the health-care exchange, with FNC drawing 2.4 million viewers overall last week. By comparison, CNN drew only 385,000 viewers during the same period. MSNBC averaged 683,000 total viewers.

The problem could also be related to programming choices, notes the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker. Jeff Zucker, who was tapped to turn around CNN a year ago, "has tried to shake up CNN by, among other things, bringing back 'Crossfire' and offering a show to travel personality Anthony Bourdain," the publication reports. "But the moves don't seem to be working."

Thumbnail image for jeffzucker.jpgJeff Zucker

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NBC News Accused of 'Checkbook Journalism'

NBC is coming under fire for two recent episodes of apparent "checkbook journalism," with NBC News most recently paying a six-figure fee to a group of skydivers who survived a plane collision, reports The Washington Post.

NBC News agreed to compensate the nine skydivers and two pilots for their appearance on "Today," a one-hour "Dateline NBC" special and a story on "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams," the story says. The "Today" appearance was scheduled for today, Tuesday, Nov. 5.

The group will receive more than $100,000 for its role, the story says.

"NBC would not confirm that figure, but the network said it paid only for use of the video. NBC said other news organizations were also bidding for the material," the story notes. Such paycheck journalism is considered unethical by the Society of Professional Journalists and other journalism organizations, the piece adds.

The payment to the skydivers comes after it was disclosed last week that NBC News is in talks to pay for an exclusive documentary deal with the family of Hannah Anderson, a teenager who was kidnapped by a family friend who had killed her brother and mother, the piece adds.

"Anderson, who survived her ordeal, already has appeared on the 'Today' show and 'Dateline NBC' in a series of exclusive interviews with the network," the piece reports.

The Post adds: "NBC News is under pressure to restore the ratings dominance of the 'Today' show, which has fallen behind its ABC rival, 'Good Morning America,' in the lucrative morning-news period. The two programs compete ferociously to book newsworthy guests, particularly those with a strong appeal to women, who comprise the majority of viewers for both shows. The competition has led to bidding wars for of-the-moment interview subjects in the past, although ABC News said it has banned the practice of paying for interviews."

An NBC News spokeswoman said licensing the footage of the incident with the skydivers "is standard industry practice and is the result of a very competitive process with other major broadcast outlets."

hannah anderson-nbc-today.pngHannah Anderson on "Today"

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How Can You Get HBO Without Cable? Here's How, Step by Step

Most television shows are still available to cord-cutters, via services such as iTunes or Amazon.com, which allow purchases of recent episodes, but one network has held out: HBO, reports The Wall Street Journal's Martin Peers.

Peers warns, however, that the process is not easy -- nor is it cheap.

Peers writes: "While someone willing to wait a few months could rent a DVD or buy an episode on iTunes, diehard fans who want to catch the latest episode of 'Boardwalk Empire' or 'Game of Thrones' as soon as it is available have had little choice but to subscribe to pay TV. (Well, they could engage in piracy, but that’s another story.)"

But Peers adds that he "can report a triumph of the modern media age: Last Friday I became a cord cutter who is getting HBO."

As summed up by New York Magazine's Vulture, here's how Peers did it:

• Be a Verizon FiOS customer.
• Cancel your cable set-top box service.
• Keep your super-fast (and pricey) broadband service and basic channel package.
• Pay a promotional $10-per-year price for HBO access.
• Speak to a lackadaisical customer-service representative who really doesn't care whether or not you have a cable set-top box to properly access HBO through.
• Watch HBO on your laptop or TV through HBO Go. Be a hero to your children.
• Hope that this isn't just a loophole that Verizon is working to immediately close.
• Still pay $85 a month to watch 'Boardwalk Empire.'

Peers sums up: "So far, I couldn’t claim to be saving boatloads of money -- maybe $40 a month, not peanuts. But finally I’m only paying for what I watch, which is the point. That in my mind is value for money."

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Does 'SNL' Need More Black Friends? Video Clips Reveal the Show May Have Writers' Block on One Subject

Kerry Washington's recent appearance as guest host on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" gave the show a chance to poke fun at itself over its diversity issues, as we reported previously. But it didn't make those issues disappear.

In fact, the latest 'SNL" may have added some fuel to the fire. In a piece for TheWrap.com, Mekeisha Madden Toby writes that Washington's material -- which is strongly reminiscent of material seen not too long ago when Maya Rudolph guest-hosted -- displays what might be described as a lack of insight into black women on the part of "SNL" ... unless it's just a case of writers' block on the subject.

"While Washington joked about the late-night series’ lack of black women cast members in the opening sketch, it is telling that the two black women who’ve hosted the show most recently were pigeonholed," Madden Toby writes, adding: "As guest hosts, both women played Michelle Obama and appeared in the Barack Obama-themed sketch 'How’s He Doing?'”

Rudolph, a longtime "SNL" cast member, guest-hosted in February 2012.

Regarding the two "How's He Doing?" sketches, Madden Toby writes: "The only difference is Rudolph played a professor from the historically black college Howard University and Washington’s character was from Spellman College -- another historically black college. Making matters worse, both Rudolph and Washington played FLOTUS Michelle Obama. Washington also doubled as Winfrey while Rudolph lampooned her countless times as a cast member. Apparently, when it comes to black women in pop culture, the writers behind 'Saturday Night Live' are rather limited in their references."

The report supports its point with four video clips, which we've included below. The report says the clips illustrate that "not only are African-American women a scarcity on the show but when they do appear, writers apparently have two token sketches. Make that three if you count Oprah Winfrey."

The clips show both Washington and Rudolph in sketches as Michelle Obama, and both in "How's He Doing?" bits. See for yourself ... but not all of the video clips will work on all browsers and devices:

Kerry Washington as Michelle Obama, November 2013:

Maya Rudolph as Michelle Obama, February 2012:

Kerry Washington on "How's He Doing?," November 2013:

Maya Rudolph on "How's He Doing?," February 2012:

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Amanda Bynes Stabilized, Expected Home By Christmas

Troubled actress Amanda Bynes will be home by Christmas, as a combination of medication and psychological counseling has stabilized her, reports TMZ.com.

Bynes has been at a Malibu rehab facility since September. Her release will happen next month, with the actress slated to go home with her mother, who will provide supervision.

"We're told -- aside from the fact that the meds and therapy appear to be working -- doctors are concerned that Amanda is going stir crazy," the report adds. "She's not allowed to go outside because paparazzi are hanging out at the facility and the staff is worried if Amanda is around other patients and pictures are taken, it will compromise the others."

In August Bynes was denied a request to put an end to her extended psychiatric hold when a judge determined that her mental condition was precarious enough to require further hospitalization. Her problems made headlines when she started a fire in a residential driveway in July.

amanda bynes 3.pngAmanda Bynes

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For One Cable Network, Christmas Has Already Arrived

Even though three weeks remain before Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, one cable network is already rolling out its Christmas-themed programming: the Hallmark Channel, reports the New York Post.

"Most networks tend to wait until the end of November to jump-start their holiday programming -- but Christmas, it seems, can’t come early enough for Hallmark," the story notes.

Hallmark started last Saturday with "The Thanksgiving House," at a time when other networks had just finished televising their Halloween programming. It marked the first of 12 original movies that will air between now and Dec. 25 and that are focused on the holidays.

“We just hear from our viewers that they have such a high appetite for this content and this programming that they want us to start really right after Halloween,” Bill Abbott, the chief executive of Hallmark Channel parent Crown Media Family Networks, told the publication.

The channel also plans a big finish, with all 12 of its holiday movies airing back-to-back in a 24-hour marathon starting at 6 a.m. on Dec. 25, the piece notes.

thanksgiving house-hallmark.png"The Thanksgiving House"

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'Murphy Brown' Creator Developing NBC Comedy

The creator of the wildly successful CBS sitcom "Murphy Brown," which ran for 10 seasons, ranking in the top 10 through much of the 1990s, and won 18 Primetime Emmys, is working on a comedy for NBC.

Deadline.com reports that Diane English has joined NBC's comedy project featuring British girls Sophia Grace and Rosie, who appear frequently on "Ellen" in musical performances.

The project, produced by Ellen DeGeneres' A Very Good Production and Warner Bros. TV, has received a pilot production commitment now that English has signed on, the story notes. While there's no definite concept yet, the comedy will likely feature Sophia Grace, 10, and her cousin Rosie, 7, playing girls similar to themselves, the piece notes.

Here's a clip of the girls performing on "Ellen":

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Will Loki's Army Take Over the World? New Disney Series From Marvel and Lego Bows Today

Marvel and Lego have joined forces to create a new series for Disney, with 10 episodes running simultaneously on Disney.com starting today, Nov. 5, 2013, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Heat Vision.

The episodes feature Lego Spider-Man and Marvel superheroes and villains, all within a Lego-built world. Called "Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Maximum Overload," the series features a plot in which the Marvel Comics supervillain Loki creates an army to take over the world.

Lego and Marvel have worked together for some time, with the toy company creating both toy lines and video games based on Marvel characters.

The episodes will also be available on Disney's YouTube channel and on Disney's Roku- and Xbox-connected TV apps, the piece notes.

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Amazon Schedules Rollouts for Its First Two Original Series, With Free Tryout Phase -- Service Won't Copy Netflix's Complete Release Model

Amazon will release its first two original series later this month, but unlike Netflix, it won't place all the episodes online at once, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

"Alpha House," created by Pulitzer Prize winner Gary Trudeau and starring John Goodman, will start streaming Nov. 15. "Betas," about a group of tech entrepreneurs who work on a social-media service, will start Nov. 22.

But only three episodes will be released at first, the company said.

"We will release three episodes upfront for all customers so they can try out the shows and get to know the characters. Then we will release new episodes via Prime Instant Video week by week so that customers can chat about the shows and build up anticipation," Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios, said. "We’re constantly experimenting and trying new things -- and we’re eager to hear customers’ feedback on this model.”

The first three episodes will be free, but the remainder will be available only through Amazon Prime subscriptions, which cost $79 per year.

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FX Developing Comedy From 'Wilfred' Director

FX is developing a project described as an "odd couple comedy" from "Wilfred" director and executive producer Randall Einhorn, reports Deadline.com.

"Texts From Bennett," Einhorn's first project under his overall deal with FX Productions, is based on a book of the same name from Mac Lethal. The novel focuses on the texts from the narrator's cousin, a 17-year-old white boy who claims to be 13% black, the story says. The boy and his mother move in with the narrator after they lose their house.

The project is searching for a writer to adapt the book.

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Non-TV News of the Day: As Black Friday Gets Ever Earlier, Kmart Announces That, for the First Time, It Will Stay Open for 41 Straight Hours

Discount retailer Kmart has announced  that it will once again kick off its Black Friday sale at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, and, for the first time, then keep its stores open for 41 straight hours, reports DailyFinance.com.

Walmart, the nation's No. 1 retailer, has not yet officially announced its Black Friday hours for 2013.

Says the article, "Opening on Thanksgiving has become the norm among many retailers this year, but most are choosing to do so late in the evening, usually around 8 p.m. ... But Kmart has never bought into the notion that Thanksgiving should be dedicated to food and family. This won't be the first time it's opened its doors to shoppers on the morning of Thanksgiving, but this year it will go a step further by keeping them open until late Friday night. That's a 41-hour marathon of shopping that it clearly hopes will give it a bigger slice of the Black Friday sales pie."

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Netflix, Having Broken the Emmy Barrier, Now Sets Sights on Winning an Oscar

Netflix, the online streaming service that broke through at this year's Primetime Emmys by snaring the award for direction of a drama series with "House of Cards," is setting its sights on the Academy Awards, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Last Friday, Nov. 1, the Times broke the story that Netfilx was negotiating to "acquire exclusive rights to 'The Square,' a documentary about the Egyptian revolution that has won prizes at the 2013 Sundance and Toronto film festivals." That deal has since closed.

The Times also said that the acquisition "puts Netflix into the thick of Oscar season barely a month after it was a force at the Emmys with multiple nominations for buzzy political soap opera 'House of Cards.' 'The Square' is currently getting a self-financed Oscar-qualifying run in New York and Los Angeles and is tabbed as a favorite in the documentary category. In the [L.A.] Times on Friday, [the paper's movie critic] Kenneth Turan called the film 'articulate, thoughtful and intensely dramatic.' "

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NBC's Greenblatt Is Down on TV Critics: 'In Broadcast TV, the Critics Are Just Savage to Us'

Bob Greenblatt, the chairman of NBC Entertainment, has been in Jerusalem for a TV conference, reports Deadline.com.

The story reports that Greenblatt said at the conference: "We’re in the process of trying to figure out what is the next stage of broadcast TV. We compete with cable every day. Network shows have kind of gotten safe and predictable and a little old-fashioned. … We have to be provocative and do things to surprise people.”

Prior to joining NBC, Greenblatt spent a number of years at pay cabler Showtime.

Then, speaking about NBC's "The Blacklist," which is the most-watched new drama on TV, Greenblatt said, according to the story, that the show is a "'hybrid' of the kind of serialized shows that work on cable and the closed-ended franchises that are more familiar to network TV. It 'could be the next wave,' he suggested. 'NBC had to make noise. … We were number four. … If you’re not provocative you’re going to be passed over these days.' In a nod to some of NBC’s woes (there’s been a lack of breakout comedies for the second straight season), Greenblatt commented, 'Unfortunately, yes, we read the critics. I think in cable TV, critics are important because they raise the profile of a show. But in broadcast TV, the critics are just savage to us.' "

Our observation here at TVWeek is that, for the most part, TV critics as a whole take equal opportunities to bash and praise.

For example, the annual awards doled out by the Television Critics Association (TCA) this year included broadcast winners in the categories of comedy programming, news and information programming, and reality programming.

Likewise, at the Critics' Choice Television Awards this year the broadcast networks won in the following categories: Best Comedy, Best Supporting Actor-Comedy, Best Supporting Actress-Comedy, Best Supporting Actress-Drama, Best Reality Series-Competition and Best Reality Host. Some of the winners were on NBC. Furthermore, of the most exciting new show honorees, the critics picked three from cable and three from broadcast. 

robert greenblatt.jpgBob Greenblatt

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Executive Shuffle at NBCU Cable Nets

NBCUniversal has made a number of key changes among the top leadership in its cable entertainment division, Nellie Andreeva reports on Deadline.com.

"Veteran USA Network executive, EVP original scripted development Bill McGoldrick, is moving to sibling Syfy to head that network’s development as EVP, Original Content," Andreeva reports. "He replaces Mark Stern, who will segue to producing, serving as an executive producer on a 2014 Syfy series. Another USA veteran, Jackie de Crinis, will succeed McGoldrick in an expanded role as EVP of Original Programming for USA Network."

McGoldrick will report to Dave Howe, president of Syfy, while de Crinis will report to Chris McCumber, president of USA.

Said NBCU Cable Entertainment Chairman Bonnie Hammer: “Bill and Jackie both have uncanny instincts about quality content that resonates with audiences, and are incredibly brand savvy. With this move, Bill expands his development responsibilities while he gets to satisfy a not-so-secret passion for the genre. Jackie, who’s done a fantastic job at USA, gets to take on a well-deserved leadership role. It’s a win/win for Syfy, USA and the entire Cable Entertainment Group.”

Andreeva adds: "In his new position, McGoldrick will be responsible for the development and production of Syfy’s original programming, including scripted and unscripted series, as well as oversight of international co-productions. In partnership with Universal Pictures, he is also responsible for development of Syfy Films theatrical development."

McGoldrick began at USA back in 1998, starting as an executive assistant before moving to an exec position in series development, Andreeva notes. His work in that capacity included "Monk" and "The Invisible Man."

"After a four-year stint at Spike TV as VP and SVP original series development, McGoldrick returned to USA in 2009 as SVP, original scripted programming and was upped to EVP in April 2012," Andreeva notes.

She adds: "De Crinis served as USA’s EVP scripted series until 2009 when she relocated with her family to Hawaii, with McGoldrick succeeding her in the scripted development post. She remained a senior USA programming executive, overseeing current series from Hawaii. For her newly created role, in which de Crinis will be responsible for all production and development of original programming for USA, including scripted and unscripted series, she is moving back to Los Angeles."

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Justin Bieber Is Dethroned as the King of Twitter -- So Who's the New Top Gun?

There's a new top gun on Twitter, who just knocked pop star Justin Bieber off his perch. CNN reports that Bieber has been displaced by another pop star, Katy Perry, as the most popular person on Twitter.

Perry, 29, reportedly had 46,529,319 followers on the social networking site as of this morning, slipping past Bieber's total of 46,507,829.

"While the public's opinion on Bieber is typically divided, the 19-year-old singer has reigned supreme on Twitter after passing Lady Gaga as the most popular on the site in January," the story reports. "The Mother Monster now has the third most followed account with 40,400,759 followers, according to TwitterCounter.com, putting her ahead of President Barack Obama.

Bieber has been performing in Brazil, where he reportedly fled the stage over the weekend after being hit by a bottle thrown from the crowd in Sao Paulo. He was due to release a new song, "Bad Day," today, the report notes.

Thumbnail image for katy-perry.jpgKaty Perry

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CBS Outdraws NBC's Football-Fueled Prime-Time Lineup in Total Viewers

CBS's prime-time lineup saw its numbers surge Sunday night, with the network coming out on top in total viewers -- even against NBC's powerhouse "Sunday Night Football" -- based on Nielsen overnights. NBC still took a comfortable win in the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that CBS got a bump from its own football coverage, recording a 6.6 average in the 18-49 demo for the 7 p.m. hour, the first hour of prime time, with a weighty average of 23.11 million total viewers in the hour for football overrun -- well above anything else in broadcast prime.

CBS's "60 Minutes" kept the network's hot streak going at 8 p.m. with 15.09 million total viewers and a 3.2 average in 18-49 -- soaring above the 1.3 recorded a week earlier. "The Amazing Race" turned in a 2.0 in the demo at 9 p.m., up two-tenths of a point from a week ago, and "The Good Wife" equaled its season high with a 1.6, also up two-tenths.

NBC's "Sunday Night Football" finished easily as the top show of the night in the 18-49 demo, as usual, with a 5.7 average rating from 8:30-11 p.m. That number was up one-tenth of a point from the previous week. The program also delivered 15.34 million total viewers.

Fox put up a mix of repeats and originals and wound up in third place. "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy" led the way among the fresh programs, both with 2.5 averages in the 18-49 demo -- a loss of a half-point from the previous original for "The Simpsons," with "Family Guy" holding steady. "Bob's Burgers" dipped one-tenth to a 1.8 and "American Dad" slipped two-tenths to a 1.9.

ABC settled for fourth place overall, even as most of its lineup showed improvement. "Once Upon a Time" ticked up one-tenth from last week to a 2.3 in viewers 18-49, "Revenge" climbed three-tenths to a 1.7 and "Betrayal" inched up one-tenth to a 1.0, while "America's Funniest Home Videos" equaled last week's season high, a 1.4.

For prime time overall, NBC led the way in the 18-49 demo with a 4.6 average rating, followed by CBS (3.3 average), Fox (1.9), ABC (1.6) and Univision (1.2). CBS claimed a win in total viewers with 14.4 million, ahead of NBC (12.6 million), ABC (6.1 million), Fox (4.3 million) and Univision (3.4 million).

The report notes that numbers for NBC and CBS are subject to significant adjustments due to the nature of live programming.

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Charlie Sheen Gets Bad News From L.A. County

A department of Los Angeles County came down hard on actor Charlie Sheen, dealing the star of FX's "Anger Management" a setback in his struggle with his ex, Brooke Mueller, over their 4-year-old twin sons, Bob and Max.

TMZ.com reports that a "very punitive" Department of Children and Family Services denied Sheen the right to spend time with the twins.

"Sources familiar with the situation tell TMZ ... the department contacted Denise Richards -- who has temporary guardianship over twins Bob and Max -- and they told her she was not allowed to take the kids over to Charlie's house today for a visit," the website reported Saturday. "We're told department officials told Richards they were pissed off that Charlie dared to tell TMZ Bob and Max were not being protected by the department."

Sheen complained Friday about Mueller and about the role of the Department of Children and Family Services, as TMZ reports separately. The interview includes some of Sheen's typically colorful language, with the actor describing Mueller's home as "a house full of creeps and cretins" and quoting one of his sons saying of the house: "Oh no -- I'm back at the crazy house."

Sheen also says in the interview that he believes Mueller is using drugs again, and accuses the DCFS of failing to accurately track the situation involving Mueller and the twins.

Commenting on the latest county action, TMZ notes: "DCFS' actions are curious ... because it seems the decision to deny Charlie visitation was not based on his fitness to be around his kids but rather on the embarrassment he caused the department."

charlie sheen.pngCharlie Sheen

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'NCIS' Fills a Full-Time Cast Spot

CBS's long-running procedural "NCIS" announced today that it has filled a full-time position in the drama's cast. EW.com's Inside TV reports that actress Emily Wickersham, who has been in a recurring role as NSA analyst Eleanor “Ellie” Bishop since September, was promoted to series regular.

"Wickersham, who has also appeared on 'The Sopranos,' was originally slated for three episodes but according to producers, her work with the team has proved a success," the story reports.

In a statement, executive producer Gary Glasberg said: “Emily Wickersham’s Ellie Bishop is proving to perfectly complement the NCIS team. Her energy and enthusiasm is contagious. Great things are planned for Bishop and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have her on board.”

EW adds: "Wickersham, whose first episode airs Nov. 19, fills an empty series regular spot on the show that has been there since the second episode of the current season, when Cote de Pablo’s Ziva left the show. (Since Ziva’s departure, the storyline has focused on a fair amount on the team’s reaction to her sudden departure.)"

Wickersham's character is described as “a mysterious mixture of analytic brilliance, fierce determination and idealism,” the piece notes, adding that the character "will be introduced when it is discovered that the Secretary of the Navy was bugged during a confidential briefing, a security breach Bishop described in exact detail two years ago in a threat analysis report. Working side-by-side with Gibbs and the team, Bishop will cross-examine the case file to help determine who is behind the crime."

emily-wickersham.jpgEmily Wickersham

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ABC Cancels Series

ABC has pulled the plug on one of its new fall shows, and also announced full-season orders for two new comedy series. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the network is canceling the comedy series "Back in the Game."

The show, which stars James Caan and Maggie Lawson, is a semi-autobiographical baseball comedy from brothers and executive producers Mark and Robb Cullen. It has been averaging 7.2 million viewers with a 2.1 rating in the key 18-49 demo in Live + 7 DVR viewing, the report notes.

The series will air the rest of its original 13-episode order.

ABC has given full-season orders to the comedies "The Goldbergs" and "Trophy Wife," and has also ordered four more episodes of "Super Fun Night," THR reports.

"The Goldbergs," a comedy set in the 1980s, has averaged 7.5 million total viewers and a 2.7 rating in adults 18-49 in Live + 7. "Trophy Wife" is averaging 5.7 million total viewers and a 1.9 rating, but has also earned a positive response from critics, the story says. Both shows are part of ABC's all-new Tuesday schedule.

Meanwhile, "Super Fun Night" is drawing an average of 7.4 million viewers and a 2.8 rating in the 18-49 demographic. It airs on Wednesday nights.

"ABC has comedy 'Mixology' and dramas 'Mind Games,' 'Killer Women' and 'Resurrection' on the bench," the report adds.

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'Survivor' Contestant From First Season Dead at 77

One of the contestants from the landmark first season of CBS's long-running reality franchise "Survivor" has died. TheWrap.com, citing an obituary published in the Kansas City Star, reports that B.B. Andersen died Tuesday, Oct. 29, at 77.

Andersen was "one of the original cast members who launched ‘Survivor’ back in 2000,” executive producer Jeff Probst said in a statement. “He was a powerful presence on the show and that zest for epic adventure was at the heart of everything he did.”

The obituary notes that Andersen died after a battle with brain cancer. "A world traveler and avid sportsman, B.B. was a lover of fine cigars, fine wine, close friends, and good political debate," the notice reads.

b.b. andersen-survivor.jpgB.B. Andersen on "Survivor"

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NBC Halts Production on Series, Aiming for a 'Course Correction'

An NBC drama series has halted production, with the show taking an unplanned break so that writers can make a "course correction" to work on scripts and story lines, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com. The show is the midseason series "Crisis."

"There also will be some reshoots done on completed episodes," Andreeva writes. "Along with the pilot for 'The Blacklist,' 'Crisis,' a hostage/political thriller drama starring Gillian Anderson and Dermot Mulroney, tested through the roof in the spring, with the two considered NBC’s strongest drama pilots of last season."

The hiatus comes after concerns arose that the show has veered from the direction of the pilot, the story notes. Producer 20th TV is also bringing in additional senior-level writers to help creator Rand Ravich.

"Unlike fall series, midseason ones are not on a tight delivery schedule, which has allowed a number of elaborate drama productions to take a temporary shutdown for extra work on story lines and scripts," Andreeva notes.

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Could One Country's Passion for 'Slow TV' Be the Next Programming Trend?

A new programming trend is capturing TV viewers in one country, and the television industry appears to be paying attention. Deadline.com reports that Norway's interest in what's being called "Slow TV" -- shows that stretch for hours and capture slow-moving activities, such as knitting or train travel -- could catch on internationally.

"The overall gist of the concept, to which LMNO Productions recently acquired U.S. rights, is a hybrid of unhurried documentary coupled with hours and hours of continuous coverage provided by fixed cameras trained on a subject or an event," the story reports.

Those events have included stacking firewood, a 134-hour coastal cruise and a 7-1/2 hour train ride. A new show, "National Knitting Evening," will feature four hours of discussion on the activity.

"Making 'Knitting Evening' sound like a breathless frenzy of activity compared to some earlier Slow TV ventures, seven spinners and knitters will then hunker down to stitch a large men’s sweater in an attempt to break a Guinness world record -- for speed, no less," the piece adds.

While these activities are popular among Norway's population, Norwegian public broadcasting executive Rune Mokleburst told Deadline he believes the format can travel outside of the country. One benefit: slow TV is cheap to produce, with "Knitting Evening" costing only $150,000 to $200,000.

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'SNL' Hits a Ratings Home Run -- and Spawns a Viral Video -- With Kerry Washington Episode

NBC's "Saturday Night Live" parlayed some negative publicity into high ratings for last week's show. Time magazine reports that the show hit a season high with its installment hosted by Kerry Washington, which aired just after an old controversy flared up anew over the sketch show's lack of a black female cast member.

"Whether or not Washington’s Saturday appearance satisfied any of the show’s critics, it did accomplish one thing: The network has announced that the episode hit a ratings high for the season among metered-market viewing households, with the most viewers tuning in since Justin Timberlake’s appearance on the show in March," the story reports.

The piece adds: "In markets with Local People Meters -- a newer TV-tracking device used in the 25 top markets -- Miley Cyrus’ October appearance drew slightly more eyeballs."

The report also says: "Just days before it was announced that Washington would anchor the episode, with musical guest Eminem, 'SNL' cast member Kenan Thompson reignited a long-running debate over the lack of diversity on the show. In discussing his decision to no longer play female characters in sketches -- a decision that, coupled with his colleague Jay Pharaoh’s similar feelings, meant that there would be no black female characters in any 'SNL' gags -- Thompson said that there weren’t black female comedians auditioning for the show who were 'ready' for the gig; predictably, the many funny African-American women in the business (and their fans) were not happy about that."

Meanwhile, a video from the episode, prominently featuring Washington, has gone viral. The clip spoofs the recent hit song "The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)." Here it is:

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Video: 'Daily Show's' Jon Stewart Lashes Out at Fox News

Fox News has been bringing up Jon Stewart's name a lot lately, and now Stewart is doing something about it.

Stewart took aim at Fox News Channel on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" after Fox News used Stewart's jokes about the glitch-laden rollout of the Obamacare health-insurance exchange as evidence of Americans' anger about the law, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

In footage played by Stewart on Thursday's "Daily Show," a Fox News host said of the Affordable Care Act rollout, "If you've lost Jon Stewart you're in deep trouble."

Stewart ridiculed the network for its claim, saying: "Don't act like us making jokes about a certain program or president is evidence that that politician or issue has reached some kind of tipping point for action." He cited previous attacks by the show on George W. Bush, noting that Bush's presidency "survived" the onslaught.

Backed by a gospel chorus, Stewart reiterated the point, saying: "Don't you use our jokes as evidence that the thing you hate must be stopped because I’m sure when we joke about [something] you like, you're more than happy to ignore it."

The chorus adds this, seemingly aimed at Fox News: "Go [bleep] yourself."

Fox News declined to comment, the story notes.

Here's the "Daily Show" segment:

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Father of Zombie Movies Sounds Off About 'The Walking Dead'

The father of zombie movies apparently has no love for AMC's "The Walking Dead." The website The Big Issue reports that George A. Romero said he turned down the opportunity to work on the show and described it as "just a soap opera with a zombie occasionally."

Romero brought zombies into the popular culture with his 1968 film "Night of the Living Dead," and revisited the genre in a series of classics including "Dawn of the Dead" (1978) and "Day of the Dead" (1985).

"They asked me to do a couple of episodes of 'The Walking Dead' but I didn’t want to be a part of it,” Romero said. "Basically it’s just a soap opera with a zombie occasionally. I always used the zombie as a character for satire or a political criticism, and I find that missing in what’s happening now.”

He added that he never called his creatures "zombies."

“No, never did. I never thought they were zombies,” he said. “To me back then, zombies were those voodoo guys who were given some sort of blowfish cocktail and became slaves."

Romero added: "And they weren’t dead so I thought I was doing a brand-new thing by raising the dead. Not that the dead haven’t been risen before. … It goes back to Jesus, doesn’t it?”

george a romero.jpgGeorge A. Romero

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Cleveland Kidnapping Victim Set for TV Interview This Week

One of the Cleveland kidnapping victims has booked a high-profile television interview. The Associated Press reports that Michelle Knight will appear in a taped interview Tuesday and Wednesday on "Dr. Phil."

Knight "describes the horrible conditions in the house" and the abuse she suffered, which included "being tied up like a fish," the story says. Knight, who was 20 when she was kidnapped in 2002, escaped in May along with two other victims, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, after years of captivity at the hands of their kidnapper, Ariel Castro.

Castro was sentenced to life in prison and hanged himself Sept. 3.

"When you listen to her describe the horrible living conditions and how she was treated, you wonder how anyone lasted a day, let alone more than a decade. In the 12 years of doing the 'Dr. Phil' show, no one has changed me like Michelle Knight and her story of survival," Phil McGraw told The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

michelle knight-cleveland.pngMichelle Knight

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Report: Charter Considering a Bid for Time Warner Cable Before Year-End

Charter Communications is considering a bid for Time Warner Cable and may make an offer before year-end that would appeal to the shareholders of the second-biggest U.S. cable operator, reports Reuters.

Liberty Media, which owns one-quarter of Charter, talked with Time Warner Cable earlier in the year, and talks have restarted, the story says. Time Warner Cable, however, "remains cool" to the idea, the piece notes.

Time Warner Cable declined to comment, as did Charter. Liberty Media didn't immediately return requests for comment, the report adds.

The story notes: "Cable billionaire [John] Malone, who controls Liberty Media, has been talking up the need for consolidation in the cable industry since he jumped backed into the U.S. cable market last spring. The U.S. cable TV market is mature and faces rising programming costs and the continued loss of video subscribers."

Charter is hoping that a decline in Time Warner Cable's TV and Internet customers, which led to a weak third-quarter report, may make the company more open to an offer, Reuters notes.

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Comic Book Guru to Create and Star in Animated Movies

Comic book legend Stan Lee will create and star in a trilogy of animated movies, EW.com's Inside TV reports. The productions are in the works for Hub Network, and will include a cartoon version of Lee, the piece reports.

"SLAM 7" will feature actors such as Mayim Bialik of "The Big Bang Theory" and Sean Astin of "The Hobbit" as superheroes from outer space. Lee's character is desperate for a new comic book idea when he finds a spaceship in the desert, the story says.

The title stands for "Stan Lee and the Mighty Seven." Also lined up to play superheroes are Armie Hammer, Christian Slater, Teri Hatcher, Darren Criss and Flea, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

"Here I am, the world’s only witness to a spaceship that crashed,” Lee told the publication. “As I get closer to it, timidly I might add, I see people getting out of it. They survived the crash. And there are seven aliens. They look kind of human, but each one has a specific superpower. What happens is that I ask them if they would let me write about them. If they would work with me, I would make them superheroes here on Earth and I want exclusive rights to their story. I’ll write all the things that they do. And they say OK."

The first movie will air in March 2014. Plans are already under way for 26 episodes to follow the trilogy, the story says.

Hub, a digital cable and satellite channel aimed at children and families, is a joint venture of Discovery Communications and Hasbro.

Thumbnail image for stan-lee.pngStan Lee

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PBS and NPR Veteran Ray Suarez Joins Al Jazeera America

Journalist Ray Suarez, a veteran of PBS and NPR, is joining Al Jazeera America. The Huffington Post reports that Suarez announced the news today in a tweet.

Suarez will be the host of the cable news channel's "Inside Story."

"Earlier in October, Suarez announced that he was leaving PBS after 14 years on the network's flagship 'NewsHour.' He told told Fox News Latino that he did not see 'much of a future' with the network, although he did claim that his departure was not bitter and that he left 'on good terms,'" the story reports.

The piece adds: "Suarez also told Fox News Latino that he still has 'one more high-demand, high-stress job in me.' Perhaps this new endeavor will be just that."

In a press release from Al Jazeera America, Suarez says: "This is an exciting time to be joining Al Jazeera America and a great opportunity for me personally. This is exactly what I wanted to do: host a program that provides viewers with a close look at the day's news and the issues they care about the most without the partisan rancor that you often see and hear elsewhere on television."

ray suarez.pngRay Suarez

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ABC Buys Project from Comedy Writing Duo Based on One of Their Gender Reassignments

ABC has bought a comedy project called "Changes" from the writing duo Joshua Sternin and Jennifer Ventimilia, who was called Jeffrey Ventimilia before her gender reassignment, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

The comedy is about two men whose three-decade-long friendship is changed when one of them becomes a woman.

"Sternin and Ventimilia’s partnership echoes the Wachowskis, who also continued to work together following Larry’s gender reassignment," the story says.

The project is one of two comedies the duo has sold to ABC, with the other project based on the memories of activist and journalist Dan Savage, the story says.

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Video: 'SNL' Pokes Fun at Its Own Diversity Issues in Show's Cold Opening With Kerry Washington. Also, Lorne Michaels Addresses the Issue

Doing what it does best, NBC's "Saturday Night Live" chose satire as its weapon of choice as it took on itself and the show's highly publicized struggles with diversity, addressing the issue in the program's cold opening this past Saturday night, Nov. 2, 2013. You can see a video of the opening below.

Meanwhile, in an article about "SNL's" diversity issues David Bauder of the Associated Press spoke to the man who runs "SNL": "Founding producer Lorne Michaels, who is still the show's top executive and generally keeps the casting process mysterious, said he's well aware of the issue and is on the lookout for black women as potential cast members. 'It's not like it's not a priority for us,' he said in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday night, Oct. 31, 2013. 'It will happen. I'm sure it will happen.'"

Later in his article Bauder writes, "Michaels said 'SNL' is particularly interested in sketch comedy experience, a different skill than stand-up. He also wants to make sure that a new cast member has some seasoning and won't be overwhelmed by the pace and attention. 'You don't do anyone a favor if they're not ready,' he said.

"Two of the black women who were on the show -- Danitra Vance and Yvonne Hudson -- lasted only one season each during the 1980s, although Michaels said that wasn't necessarily an indication they weren't ready. The third black woman cast member, Ellen Cleghorne, was on from 1991 to 1995."

Here's an excerpt on the subject of "SNL" and diversity that ran on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, on NPR's afternoon news show "All Things Considered." Show co-host Robert Siegel is interviewing NPR's TV critic, Eric Deggans:

ROBERT SIEGEL: But does the lack of diversity on "Saturday Night Live" make it any less funny?

DEGGANS: I think it narrows the range of things they can talk about and make fun of on the show. For example, Maya Rudolph used to play the first lady and they can't do the first lady anymore since she left the show in 2007. And Kenan Thompson, a black male cast member, has wound up playing a lot of women on the show. ... Now, Kenan has said that he's grown tired of doing this. He's not going to play women anymore and, you know, people have felt that it's kind of played into this historic problem that black male comics have had where they've been sort of pressured to put on dresses and play female characters. So it's become a problem for the show and people have been talking about it.

Later in the interview:

SIEGEL: "Saturday Night Live" is just one show. There [are] plenty of TV shows out there with mostly white casts. Why is it such a big deal?

DEGGANS: Well, this is important because "Saturday Night Live" sets the cultural conversation in a lot of ways. So the way it makes fun of politics or society is the way we talk about politics and society. And what's also important is that we've seen people who break the mold come along on "Saturday Night Live" and bring in something really exciting.

Eddie Murphy came and he brought comedy rooted in black culture to "Saturday Night Live" and he revitalized the show and he made it feel funny and relevant again. And I think that having a black woman who is really talented could also achieve that.

And then, finally, you know, "Saturday Night Live" is America's comedy farm team.

People like Will Ferrell and Tina Fey have gone on from the show to conquer Hollywood, do great movies. And if black women aren't a part of that pipeline, they don't get to reach those heights in the same way.

Here's the cold opening from this past Saturday's "SNL" (following the pre-roll commercial NBC has on the clip):


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Racy Cable Drama Series Gets the Ax

A cable drama series starring a veteran TV and film actress has been canceled. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Lifetime has canceled the Jennifer Love Hewitt vehicle "The Client List."

Hewitt received a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in the 2010 Lifetime movie version of "The Client List," which spawned the series.

The series wrapped up its second season back in June, with Hewitt playing Riley Parks, a single mom working as a massage therapist.

"The decision to not move forward with the drama comes after lengthy negotiations with star and executive producer Hewitt," THR reports. "The actress had been in talks with producers about the creative direction of the storyline. Hewitt is engaged to co-star Brian Hallisay and wanted their real-life relationship and pregnancy written into the show. Hallisay started as a recurring character and was ultimately promoted to regular in season two."

Lifetime declined to comment for the story, but sources have indicated that Hewitt's vision for the series was at odds with that of other producers.

THR adds: "'The Client List's' cancellation comes as the female-skewing cable network recently axed its longest-running original scripted drama 'Army Wives' after seven seasons. The network recently renewed 'Drop Dead Diva' for a sixth season after temporarily canceling the drama after its fourth season. Additionally, 'Devious Maids' will return for a second season and [Lifetime] likely will renew freshman drama 'Witches of East End.'"

Hewitt's TV projects have included high-profile roles in "Party of Five" and "Ghost Whisperer," with her film resume including the "I Know What You Did Last Summer" movies.

client list.jpg

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Airport Shooting Has Celebrities Tweeting the News

A number of celebrities were among the travelers caught in the chaos today at Los Angeles International Airport, where a gunman went on a shooting spree, as we reported earlier.

Deadline.com reports that actor James Franco was one of the notable personalities on the scene. Franco reportedly Instagrammed a photo of himself stuck on a plane and tweeted: "At #lax Some S**tbag shot up the place.”

"Tim Daly called in to CNN and delivered one of the most detailed 'on-scene' reports," the story adds. "He’d been in a VIP lounge when the gunman was wounded near Gate 35, he said. Very quickly after the shooting 'The LAPD burst into the lounge…weapons drawn, herding everybody together to make sure there were no bad guys in the lounge,' he described, noting that 'having a gun pointed at you' in real life is a harrowing experience."

Daly said he and others were locked in the lounge for almost an hour, and as they were brought out he reported seeing blood and broken glass on the ground along with a rifle and a number of ammo clips. He credited officials for doing
“an outstanding job trying to keep people calm.”

The report adds: "'Mythbusters'‘ Grant Imahara and Tory Belleci were present in Terminal 3 at the time the incident, Science Channel and parent company Discovery reported this afternoon. Both were en route to Delaware for the filming of 'Punkin Chunkin.' Both are safe."

CBS scheduling chief Kelly Kahl became a reporter for a while as he waited outside the terminal, the report notes. Kahl told the local CBS station: “There are a couple hundred people standing there not knowing what to do. Mostly people exiting the airport on foot, walking down Century (Boulevard)."

In response to Kahl's report, TV Guide Los Angeles bureau chief Michael Schneider tweeted: “Holy crap, @calibadger is live from LAX on KCBS/KCAL right now as an eyewitness of the chaos there."

"Kahl told Deadline he noticed something was wrong as he approached the airport by car, discovered they could not get the car into the airport and parked at a remote location and [walked] in," the story reports. "He was stopped by police and sat outside the airport for a while, making alternate travel plans, and talking to the CBS station about what he was observing."

On cable, "It was the first big live breaking news event for Shepard Smith’s new Fox News Deck, which he used to full capacity," the story reports. "The 38-foot video wall showed chopper footage of LAX and interviews with witnesses, as did various other monitors. Smith frequently went to the set’s 55-inch touchscreen monitor to read out emails and statements from officials."

tim daly.pngTim Daly

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Fox Slides Into a Tie for Last Place With CW as Broadcast Ratings Suffer a Halloween Hit

Viewership levels dipped Thursday night because of Halloween, TVbytheNumbers.com reports, with the broadcast networks down 8% from a week ago in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights.

High on the casualties list was Fox, which fell into a tie with the CW for fifth place -- last place among the broadcast networks -- with a 0.7 average rating in 18-49. Fox paired a clip show for "The X Factor" (0.8 average) with a "Glee" repeat (0.6).

ABC notched an overall win for prime time, with its drama series "Scandal" coming in as the top show of the night even while it equaled last week's season low. "Scandal's" 2.9 average in 18-49 was good enough to easily win the 10 p.m. hour.

ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" slipped 7% from a week ago to a 2.6 in the 18-49 demo, tying its all-time low. The annual Halloween telecast of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" delivered a 2.2, off 19% from the Wednesday airing a year ago.

Second-place CBS got its best number from a repeat of "The Big Bang Theory," which scored a 2.5 average in viewers 18-49. A second "Bang" rerun had a 2.0. An original installment of "The Millers" fell 26% from a week ago to a series-low 2.0.

CBS's "The Crazy Ones" also had a series low, losing 17% of its 18-49 viewership from a week ago to settle for a 1.9. "Elementary" slipped 6% to a 1.7.

NBC placed a distant third, with the "Saturday Night Live" Halloween show leading the way with a 1.7 average in adults 18-49. "Sean Saves the World" ticked up 8% from last week to a 1.2, "The Michael J. Fox Show" fell to a series-low 1.1, down 8% from the previous week, and "Parenthood" notched a 1.3, the same as last week.

The CW had a 0.8 in 18-49 for "The Vampire Diaries (down 38% from last week) and a 0.6 for "Reign," matching last week's number.

For prime time overall, ABC's 2.6 average led the broadcast nets in adults 18-49, followed by CBS (2.0 average), NBC (1.4), Univision (1.0), the CW (0.7) and Fox (0.7). CBS came out ahead in total viewers with 9.4 million, topping ABC (8.4 million), NBC (4.4 million), Univision (2.7 million), Fox (2.6 million) and CW (1.8 million).

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'Da Ali G Show' Lands on Cable as Sacha Baron Cohen Inks Deal

The man behind "Borat," "Ali G" and "The Dictator's" Admiral General Aladeen is headed to TV. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Sacha Baron Cohen inked a first-look deal with FX Productions that will bring unaired episodes of "Da Ali G Show" to FXX starting next year.

"In addition to developing new comedy projects for FX Productions, whose current comedy efforts include 'Legit,' 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia,' 'Archer' and critical darling 'Louie,' Baron Cohen will film new introductions to 'Da Ali G Show' -- which first debuted in the U.K. in 2003," the story reports.

Nick Grad, FX Networks and FX Productions president of original programming, said in making the announcement: "We're thrilled to be in business with Sacha Baron Cohen. He is an amazing talent, and we look forward to him developing new series for FXP. We're also excited to introduce 'Da Ali G Show' and Sacha's characters to a new audience on FXX. And we can't wait to see how he will incorporate new, original content in the episodes."

HBO had the U.S. run of "Da Ali G Show," but did not air all 18 episodes. The show helped launch Baron Cohen's film career, with his 2006 mockumentary "Borat" earning him a Golden Globe as best actor in a musical or comedy.

"The network is branding the run Ali G: Rezurection, which will premiere in February 2014 on FXX," THR notes.

sacha baron cohen.jpgSacha Baron Cohen

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Gunman Opens Fire at LAX; One Victim Reported Dead

A gunman opened fire today at Los Angeles International Airport, reportedly killing one man -- a TSA officer, according to some reports -- and wounding a number of people, the Los Angeles Times reports. Conflicting reports surfaced about the fate of the gunman, with early reports indicating he had been killed and later updates saying he had been taken into custody.

"A federal law enforcement official said that the gunman was a ticketed passenger entering the airport," the Times reports. "Officials don’t believe the gunman has ever worked for TSA. Law enforcement sources had earlier told The Times the gunman was a TSA employee."

According to early reports, seven people were treated for injuries by L.A. Fire Department personnel, with six victims transported to area hospitals.

The shooting took place around 9:20 a.m. PT, shutting down much of the airport. The suspect reportedly pulled a rifle out of a bag and opened fire in a number of locations. The shooting was believed to be the work of a lone shooter.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said just before noon PT that people should stay away from LAX, including those with flights scheduled for this afternoon. At that time new passengers were not being allowed into the airport.

The FBI commented just after noon, saying: "We do not see any threats" at the airport.

LAPD officials would not discuss the injuries or other details, saying the case is being handled by the FBI.

LAX said some flights were being diverted to Ontario Airport, and indicated significant flight delays could be expected.

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Key Player at NBC's 'Today' Exits the Show

NBC's morning show "Today" is losing one of its key players. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that senior producer Melissa Lonner, the show's top entertainment booker, is headed out.

The veteran producer, who has been responsible for booking "Today's" summer concert series, will exit by the end of the year, the piece reports, citing multiple sources.

"Lonner had been a senior producer and 'Today's' entertainment booker, tasked with securing Hollywood celebrities and A-list musical acts including Justin Bieber, Adele and Coldplay for the show's popular outdoor concerts at Rockefeller Center plaza," the story reports. "NBC News sources tell THR the decision was mutual. But a source close to Lonner said she opted not to renew her contract, which is up at the end of the year."

The booking department was restructured in 2012, the report notes, with Matt Zimmerman put in charge of the expanded, integrated booking group.

A spokesperson for "Today" declined comment for the story.

"Lonner's exit is the latest in a series of personnel and content changes for the once top-rated NBC morning show," the THR report notes. "Last summer, Rob George was tapped to become the show's director, replacing Joe Michaels, who had held the job for 18 years. Michaels was upped to senior director and assigned to oversee the show's redesigned studio, unveiled last September."

The report adds: "The show also has segued to an ensemble format and away from the traditional male-female co-host configuration with Al Roker, Willie Geist and Natalie Morales playing bigger roles although Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie remain the A anchors during the 7-9 a.m. hours."

melissa lonner.jpgMelissa Lonner

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Host Pulls the Plug on Interview and Commentary Program

A television program featuring interviews and commentary will soon go off the air, after the host announced plans to end the show. Writing in The New York Times, Elizabeth Jensen reports that Bill Moyers plans to wrap his show "Moyers & Company" Jan. 3.

The program has been airing on public television stations via syndication since January 2012. Moyers told the stations Tuesday about his plans to end the program.

The plan is in keeping with the two-year timetable Moyers set when he debuted the show, the piece notes. At the time, Moyers had come out of a 20-month retirement.

Moyers wasn't available for comment, the story adds.

bill moyers.jpgBill Moyers

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Time Warner Cable Points the Finger for Loss of Video Customers

Time Warner Cable is naming names as it tries to explain why its subscriber base suffered a hefty dropoff during the third quarter. The Los Angeles Times reports that the company lost 306,000 video customers in the period, blaming the loss largely on its drawn-out battle with CBS and the blackout of CBS stations.

The company also lost 24,000 high-speed data customers and 128,000 voice customers. Time Warner Cable tempered its revenue forecasts for 2013 because of the loss of customers.

"The CBS dispute apparently took a much larger toll than anyone would have imagined," media analyst Craig Moffett said. He described the results as "horrible."

Still, Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Glenn Britt said the blackout made sense in the long run. "We do think we are better off with CBS than we would have been if we had not had this fight," Britt said, according to the story.

Moffett, meanwhile, warned that cable operators should realize the battle left Time Warner Cable "badly damaged even for having fought the fight." He wrote: "If you thought the scales were tipped in programmers’ favor before, now you know that it is worse than you imagined."

Thumbnail image for glenn-britt.pngGlenn Britt

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Jenny McCarthy Dresses Up as Miley Cyrus' Tongue for Halloween

The impact of Miley Cyrus was felt far and wide this Halloween, but among the most unusual takes on the VMAs twerk queen was the costume chosen by "The View" co-host Jenny McCarthy.

McCarthy tweeted photos of herself dressed as that perpetually protruding appendage, Miley's tongue.

Here's a pic:

jenny mccarthy as miley's tongue.png

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iPad Air, On Sale Today, Earns Raves From Two Major Reviewers

Apple's new iPad Air, on sale today, has received rave notices from two widely read, influential reviewers.

"Writing for The Wall Street Journal, Walt Mossberg called the iPad Air the best tablet he has ever reviewed," Reuters reports.

Here's what Mossberg wrote in The Journal: "I've been testing the iPad Air for about a week and found it a pleasure to use. This new iPad isn't a radical rethinking of what a tablet can be, but it's a major improvement on a successful product. It is the best tablet I've ever reviewed."

Mossberg was especially impressed with the new iPad's reduction in weight: "In a feat of design and engineering, Apple has slashed the iPad's weight by 28%, made it 20% thinner and 9% narrower, while increasing its speed and retaining the brilliant, 9.7-inch Retina display." 

At the same time, he says the new iPad continues to have the long battery life of previous versions. Mossberg is also impressed with the number of apps available for the iPad -- close to 500,000. Mossberg also writes for The Journal's All Things D website.

Adds the Reuters story: "Reviewer David Pogue, who recently left The New York Times to start a new consumer-tech website at Yahoo, said the iPad Air is "a fantastic leap into the future if you're upgrading from an original iPad, or if you've never owned a tablet before."

Pogue, who is posting his reviews on tumblr until his Yahoo site is ready, also writes about the iPad Air: "This time around, there’s no gotta-have new feature -- nothing on the level of the Retina screen, Siri voice recognition, or even a fingerprint reader (like the one on the iPhone 5s). That big public yawn must drive Apple’s engineers crazy. The thing is, making the iPad smaller, lighter, and faster without sacrificing battery life or beauty is a tremendous achievement.

"This isn’t a device that sits or hangs in one place its whole life. It’s not a microwave or a TV. You have to hold this thing while you’re using it, and carry it around when you’re not. So size and weight matter a lot."

The one caveat almost all reviewers note is the relatively high price of the iPad Air.

ipad air.bmpApple's ads emphasize the new iPad's reduction in weight

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CNN Racks Up Its Worst Ratings in More Than a Year

CNN recorded its lowest prime-time ratings in more than a year on Wednesday night, with numbers approaching the network's record lows from the summer of 2012, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

But all three major cable news networks saw boosts to their ratings earlier in the day, when Fox News, CNN and MSNBC aired live coverage as Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius testified.

From 8-11 p.m., CNN averaged just 67,000 viewers in the key news demographic of viewers 25-54. That trailed HLN's 93,000 and CNBC's 79,000, and was far behind Fox News' 396,000 and MSNBC's 127,000.

"CNN's ratings haven't been as low since Aug. 10 of last year (62,000), when it was contending with the 2012 London Olympics," the story notes.

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Music Manager Demands Retraction From VH1 Over 'False and Defamatory Statements'

VH1 has been asked to retract statements contained in a music biopic, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The demand comes from Perri "Pebbles" Reid, the former manager of the music group TLC, who wants VH1 to retract statements in its TLC biopic "CrazySexyCool."

"The movie contains many false and defamatory statements and scenes about me," Reid wrote on her website. She added: "Please know that I have never cheated or mislead anyone. I will defend my reputation, accomplishments, and character. My attorney is in the process of demanding a retraction of the false and defamatory statements and scenes about me from VH1."

Reid, the ex-wife of L.A. Reid, said she found the movie "extremely personally upsetting." The biopic portrays her as a "parasite who knowingly swindled millions from the group," the article adds.

TLC's current manager, Bill Diggins, said the movie is accurate, the piece adds.

"[They] told [their story] accurately and they told it in a way that, at some points, wasn't so flattering to them," he said.

crazysexycool tlc story vh1.jpg

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Kim Kardashian and Kanye West File Lawsuit Against YouTube Founder Over Leaked Video

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian and rapper Kanye West are suing YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley for allegedly cashing in on a tape that captured West's marriage proposal to Kardashian, reports TMZ.com.

West and Kardashian claim that Hurley put the video on his new Internet site MixBit, as he was desperate for a "second act" after selling YouTube, the story says. "In the lawsuit, Kim and Kanye claim Hurley wasn't even invited to AT&T Park in San Fran but manipulated his way in," the piece notes, citing the location of the proposal.

The pair also claim that Hurley signed a confidentiality agreement, and that they have a photo of him holding the document. They are suing for unspecified damages, the story says.

The piece adds, "Even though Kim and Kanye don't say how much the video was worth, they mention it was destined for MC Cable Television, which is an arm of Bunim/Murray and E!, which produces and broadcasts 'Keeping Up with the Kardashians.'"

chad hurley.jpgChad Hurley

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'The Simpsons' Sets Tribute to Marcia Wallace, the Voice of Edna Krabappel -- Wallace Died Oct. 25

"The Simpsons" will pay tribute to the late actress Marcia Wallace, who played the long-running show's schoolteacher Edna Krabappel, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

As previously reported, Wallace passed away Oct. 25. She was also known for her role as Carol Kester, the receptionist on "The Bob Newhart Show."

"The Simpsons" will air a classic episode that focuses on Krabappel, instead of a repeat of "American Dad," and then will air an all-new episode called "4 Regrettings and a Funeral." The show will conclude with a tribute card that honors the actress.

The special lineup, set for this Sunday, will feature the episode "Bart the Lover," from the show's third season, for which Wallace won an Emmy in 1992. The episode, which airs at 7:30 p.m., focuses on Krabappel's difficulties in romance.

The clip below features the extended opening to "4 Regrettings and a Funeral," which parodies "The Hobbit":

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Starz Working on Reagan-Era Porn Drama With Owen Wilson and 'Law & Order's' Rene Balcer

Starz is developing a Reagan-era drama with Owen Wilson and Rene Balcer of "Law & Order," The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports. The project is called "WonderWorld."

Balcer will write, executive produce and work as the showrunner if the project goes on to series. Regina Lee is producing the project for Wilson's new TV production group, the story notes. The project is about two agents who infiltrate the Mob-run porn industry of the 1980s.

The piece notes: "For Starz, 'WonderWorld' comes as the premium cable network looks to have 75 hours of original programming on its airwaves in the coming years. The network recently gave an early second-season renewal to Michael Bay's pirate drama 'Black Sails' ahead of its freshman season premiere. It also has 50 Cent-produced drama 'Power' and fantasy drama 'Outlander' set for 2014 along with the second season of 'DaVinci's Demons.'"

rene balcer.jpgRene Balcer

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Sound Familiar? New Show Features Five Women Talking

It may sound a lot like an announcement for CBS's "The Talk," which sounded a lot like an announcement for ABC's "The View." But the latest announcement for a show about five women talking is for "The Real."

After a four-week test run, Warner Bros. TV Distribution/Telepictures will debut the show next fall on Fox TV stations, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Hosted by five women, including Tamera Mowry-Housley of "Sister, Sister" and Tamar Braxton of "Braxton Family Values," the show will receive a second window on BET, the story says. That's similar to "The Wendy Williams Show," which airs on Fox stations and on BET.

"'The Real' brought viewers a unique combination of elements that were missing from daytime, a real, multicultural conversation about issues that women of all ages are talking about,” said Ken Werner, president of Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, in a statement.

the real talk show.JPG

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ABC Developing Thriller Focused on Female Tabloid Reporter

ABC is developing a crime thriller based on a series of best-selling novels about a tabloid reporter. Deadline.com reports that the project focuses on the character Annika Bengtzon, who's at the center of a series of Swedish novels by Liza Marklund.

The books also served as the inspiration for the popular Swedish series "Annika Bengtzon: Crime Reporter," the story notes.

The project, from Universal TV, is about a no-nonsense reporter who tries to get to the bottom of a series of crimes while also dealing with her family and superiors. Writer Charles Randolph of "Love and Other Drugs" will executive produce with TBD's Peter Traugott and Rachel Kaplan and Yellow Bird’s Jenny Gilbertsson and Berna Levin.

annika bengtzon book.jpg

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