February 2014

One Late-Night Talk Show Surges -- and It's Not Fallon or Letterman

The late-night talk show wars have network publicists working overtime on spin control, as interest has surged since Jimmy Fallon took over NBC's "Tonight Show."

NBC has kept especially busy crunching the numbers, with Fallon dominating the late-night landscape during NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics, and -- so far, at least -- maintaining his lead over rivals David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel during this week's post-Olympics cooldown.

But on Thursday night it was ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" that surged in the ratings -- not enough to catch Fallon, but enough to move into second place ahead of Letterman.

ABC was eager to point out that Kimmel had closed the gap on Fallon, noting in a press release: "Posting its closest finish yet in both total viewers [and] Adults 18-49, 'JKL' delivered its best results since competing with NBC’s 'Fallon,' while the new NBC program fell to its lowest numbers of the past 9 days."

The Nielsen 'live plus same day" Fast Nationals for Thursday night look like this:

NBC's "Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon": 4.456 million total viewers
ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live": 3.559 million
CBS's "Late Show with David Letterman": 2.710 million

NBC contrasted Fallon's result with the track record piled up by his predecessor on "Tonight," Jay Leno. The NBC press release noted that Fallon's Thursday show was "up 24% versus 'Tonight’s' Thursday average this season prior to Jay Leno’s finale (4.456 million vs. 3.603 million, L+SD)." Of course NBC also noted that Fallon's numbers topped both Kimmel and Letterman.

Meanwhile, ABC's release pumped up the growth factor for "Kimmel," reporting: "On Thursday, February 27, 2014, ABC’s 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' catapulted over Wednesday by 45% in Total Viewers (3.559 million vs. 2.456 million) to score its 2nd-most-watched telecast ever on any night in late-night, behind only the Matt Damon takeover episode (on 1/24/13). In addition, 'JKL' grew day to day by 94% in Adults 18-49 (1.214 million vs. 625,000) to its best performance in nearly 3 months -- since 12/5/13."

Both ABC and NBC found it worth mentioning who was on Kimmel's show Thursday. ABC included a straightforward note, reporting: "Thursday’s 'JKL' featured Kerry Washington, Michael Strahan and musical guest Juicy J featuring Wiz Khalifa."

NBC, meanwhile, added what sounded like a disclaimer after reporting the numbers for Fallon, Kimmel and Letterman: "Note 'Kimmel' featured guest Kerry Washington of 'Scandal,' ABC’s 10 p.m. series that delivered a dominant ratings win in that slot last night."

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Bizarre Story of the Day: Men's Magazine Maxim Is Sold -- The Weird Part Is Who Bought It

The well-known men's magazine Maxim has been sold, according to a story by Advertising Age. The weird part of the story: A restaurant company bought the magazine.

"Alpha Media Group has sold Maxim magazine to a subsidiary of Biglari Holdings, a holding company that specializes in owning restaurants such as Steak 'n Shake, the companies said Thursday," Ad Age reports. "Maxim's current management team will continue to run the magazine and it will remain headquartered in New York. Terms of the deal were not disclosed."

Sardar Biglari, chairman and CEO of Biglari Holdings, issued a press release Thursday indicating that the company sees the Maxim brand as a long-term investment.

He said in the release: "Maxim's inclusion into our collection of companies will benefit from our financial strength. We plan to build the business on multiple dimensions, thereby energizing our readership and viewership."

Please click here to read the full report from Ad Age.

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Coroner: Toxic Mix of Drugs Killed Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman

New York City officials released details today on the death of Academy Award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, saying he died from a toxic mix of heroin and other drugs, the Associated Press reports.

"Hoffman died from a mix of heroin, cocaine, amphetamines and benzodiazepines, which are psychoactive drugs, said a spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner. The death was ruled an accident," the story reports, adding: "Law enforcement officials have said Hoffman was found Feb. 2 with a needle in his arm, and tests found heroin in samples from at least 50 packets in his Manhattan apartment."

The actor's death had been investigated as a suspected overdose. An autopsy earlier this month was reportedly inconclusive, prompting medical examiners to call for further tests.

"Authorities also found unused syringes, a charred spoon and various prescription medications, including a drug used to treat heroin addiction, a blood-pressure medication and a muscle relaxant," the story reports.

Hoffman won an Oscar for the 2005 movie "Capote." He died at 46.

The report notes: Investigators have been probing how Hoffman may have obtained the heroin. Tests of the heroin in his apartment have found that it was not cut with a dangerous additive such as fentanyl, a synthetic form of morphine used to intensify the high that has been linked to deaths in other states."

The story adds: "A musician, veteran jazz player Robert Vineberg, has been charged with keeping a heroin stash in a lower Manhattan apartment amid the investigation into Hoffman's death. Vineberg, who has said he was a friend of the Tony Award-nominated Hoffman, hasn't been charged in Hoffman's death and has said he didn't sell him the heroin found in his apartment."

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for philip seymour hoffman.jpgPhilip Seymour Hoffman

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You May Know 'Walking Dead' Is the Year's Highest-Rated Cable Drama ... and You Might Be Able to Guess No. 2 -- But as of Last Night, There's a New No. 3 in Town

A cable series had its season premiere Thursday night and shot right up to the No. 3 spot among the year's highest-rated cable dramas.

The show is History's "Vikings," which delivered 3.6 million total viewers for its season two premiere, based on Nielsen figures. That placed "Vikings" behind only AMC's ratings leader "The Walking Dead" and FX's No. 2 "American Horror Story: Coven" among cable drama series, History reported.

"Vikings" also pulled in 1.8 million adults 25-54, 1.7 million adults 18-49, 1.2 million men 25-54 and 1.1 million men 18-49, the network announced.

History was also touting the online impact of "Vikings," calling the show's launch "Twitter’s most talked about cable program for the night, up +28% versus season one’s debut, and History's most tweeted about premiere year-to-date." The announcement cites Nielsen SocialGuide.

vikings-season-2.jpgHistory's "Vikings"

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Fate of Supernatural Series Hangs in the Balance

The fate of a supernatural drama series remains uncertain -- at least in the U.S., as the show has been renewed by its Canadian network, Showcase.

The series is "Lost Girl," which runs on Syfy in the U.S., and according to The Hollywood Reporter, the cable channel says it hasn't yet made a decision on whether to bring the series back for a fifth season.

Showcase, meanwhile, has ordered another 13 episodes, the report notes.

The drama follows Bo, a succubus played by Anna Silk, who feeds on sexual energy as she deals with the clans the Light Fae and the Dark Fae. The series, from Canadian producer Prodigy Pictures, will start production on its fifth season in the spring, with a fall 2014 debut planned -- at least in Canada.

anna silk.jpgAnna Silk

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Onetime Ratings Juggernaut Sinks to a Historic Low

Thursday's prime-time ratings saw one long-running show make history -- and not the good kind. Based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo, Fox's "American Idol," which once ruled the airwaves, delivered the lowest number in its 13-season history.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "Idol" delivered a 2.3 average rating, as Fox finished a distant third overall among the broadcast nets. The number was down from a 2.4 a week earlier -- which at the time was also an all-time low for the show.

Leading out from "Idol," Fox's "Rake" managed only a 0.8 in the 18-49 demo, falling two-tenths from a week ago.

The top show on broadcast prime was CBS's "The Big Bang Theory" with a 4.9 in viewers 18-49. While that number was down three-tenths of a point from the show's previous original episode, it was enough to help push CBS to a narrow win for the night over ABC.

CBS appeared to get a boost from a time-slot swap between "Two and a Half Men" and "The Crazy Ones." "Men" delivered a 2.5 average in 18-49 in its new 9 p.m. slot, rising six-tenths from its previous original episode, which aired at 9:30. "Crazy," now in the 9:30 slot, ticked up two-tenths to a 1.9, topping its 9 p.m. airing two weeks ago.

Also on CBS, "The Millers" was up two-tenths in viewers 18-49 from two weeks ago with a 2.8 average, while "Elementary" slipped two-tenths from its previous original to a 1.6.

ABC made the race interesting with strong showings for its returning dramas "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal." "Grey's" came back from hiatus to a 3.0 average in 18-49, up three-tenths from its previous original, while "Scandal" ticked up one-tenth to a 3.3. But the 8 p.m. special "Countdown to the Oscars" managed only a 1.0.

NBC settled into a tie for fourth place with Univision, as its Olympics buzz appears to be wearing off. "Hollywood Game Night's" 1.2 average in the 18-49 demo was the network's best number, followed by "Parenthood" with a 1.1 and both "Community" and "Parks and Recreation" with 1.0 averages.

For prime time overall, CBS's 2.5 average in viewers 18-49 was just enough for the win, topping ABC (2.4 average), Fox (1.5), and NBC and Univision (both 1.1). CBS also claimed a win in total viewers, averaging 10.5 million to lead ABC (7.8 million), Fox (6.6 million), NBC (3.2 million) and Univision (2.8 million).

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Leah Remini Reveals Why She Really Got Out of Scientology

Leah Remini said she doesn’t “want to be known as this bitter ex-Scientologist.” The former star of the long-running hit comedy series "The King of Queens" said in an interview with BuzzFeed: “I’m not trying to bash anybody and I’m not trying to be controversial. I just want people to know the truth."

The actress’ defection caused her onetime friend and Scientologist Kirstie Alley to call her “repulsive” and a “bigot” on a radio show, the piece points out.

“Remini has since learned, albeit the hard way, that honesty isn’t always the best policy in Hollywood, a place she’s called home since 1983 when her pregnant mother, Vicki, could no longer stand the living conditions her daughters endured at The Church of Scientology’s Clearwater, Florida location,” the story notes.

Remini tells the publication of her move to Florida when she was about 10, “We went from a middle-class lifestyle [in Brooklyn, N.Y.] to living in a roach-infested motel with six other girls off a freeway in Clearwater.”

She added, “We were separated from our mother. We had to sign billion-year contracts we didn’t understand. And we kept saying, ‘Why are you doing this to us? Why are we here?’”

Remini’s stepfather had convinced their mother to move to Florida for the church, but the stepfather never followed, the piece notes. Remini’s family immediately started working for the church.

“We were working from morning until night with barely any schooling,” Remini told the publication. “There was no saying no. There was no being tired. There was no, ‘I’m a little girl who just lost her father and everything I’ve ever known.’ There was only, ‘Get it done.’”

Eventually the family left Florida, although Remini said the move to Los Angeles wasn’t about show business.

“My mother had a friend who was willing to take us in for a month until we could get on our feet. So we lived on her floor,” she noted.

Soon, Remini said, she had an agent and was auditioning for parts, leading to roles on “Head of the Class” and “Living Dolls,” a spinoff of “Who’s the Boss.” She later went on to a run on CBS's "The King of Queens" from 1998-2007.

Regarding her decision to leave Scientology, the piece reports that it came down to Remini's desire not to put her daughter through what she had gone through.

"While Remini insists there were dozens of influencing factors fueling her decision to exit the notoriously controlling Church, none were more persuasive than her 9-year-old daughter, Sofia," the story repots.

Said Remini: “She was getting to the age where the acclimation into the Church would have to start.” The report adds that the process "begins with auditing. It includes having children answer questions like, Have you ever pretended to be ill? Have you ever decided you didn’t like some member of your family? Have you ever been a coward?"

Remini adds: “I started thinking of my own childhood and how I grew up resenting my mother because she was never home. It’s funny; somehow my father, the guy who left his kids and never paid child support, was excluded from my resentment and I grew up resenting my mother for not being home to make food, like all my friends’ moms were. But my mom thought she was doing something good; she thought she was helping the planet. That’s what the Church tells you.”

The report notes: "Like many churches that actively exclude non-members, Scientology reinforces a 'Church First' mantra, which became harder and harder for Remini to swallow."

Adds Remini: “In my house, it’s family first -- but I was spending most of my time at the Church. So I was saying ‘family first,’ but I wasn’t showing that. I didn’t like the message that sent my daughter.”

leah-remini2.jpgLeah Remini

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Ashton Kutcher Is Engaged to His Former Co-Star

“Two and a Half Men” star Ashton Kutcher is engaged to one of his former co-stars from “That ‘70s Show." People magazine reports that Kutcher and Mila Kunis have gotten engaged.

Kunis appeared in public Thursday with a diamond ring on her finger, the story notes. The pair, who had been rumored to be dating as far back as April 2012, had been talking about getting married for a while, the piece adds. Kunis is 30 and Kutcher is 36.

The engagement comes after Kutcher finalized his divorce from actress Demi Moore in November, about two years after the pair had separated.

Mila Kunis.jpgMila Kunis

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ABC Will Live-Stream the Oscars Telecast -- in Selected Cities (As David Letterman Would Say, 'We Just Hope to God Your City Has Been Selected); Here's the List of Cities ... Oh, and There's One Other Catch, Too

ABC will live-stream the Academy Awards ceremony Sunday, marking the first time it has done so. But the Los Angeles Times’ Company Town reports that the service has significant limitations as only eight markets will be given the stream, and viewers must have a subscription to one of a few pay-TV services to get it.

Viewers who are interested in streaming the event will need to activate the “Watch ABC” digital application and verify that they are a subscriber to one of the services, the story notes. The live-streaming rights are only available to those pay-TV services that have recently entered new distribution deals with ABC and parent Walt Disney Co., the report points out.

According to the story, "In addition to Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, the streaming service will be available to customers of Cablevision, Cox Communications, Charter Communications and Midcontinent Communications in the eight markets where ABC owns the local ABC affiliate station."

Digital streaming rights weren’t included in older agreements, the piece notes.

The markets where streaming will be available are Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh-Durham and Fresno.

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Study: Most Viewers Still Use an Old-School Method to Find New TV Shows

Most television viewers still find new shows the old-fashioned way, according to a new study. The research from the Consumer Electronics Association found that channel surfing remains the preferred method, MediaPost reports.

Changing the channel earns a 50% preference number from consumers, the study found. The next most popular methods are on-screen program guides and television promotions, with a 47% preference rating, and word of mouth, at 34%, the story notes.

The report adds: “Other research shows that slightly more than half of consumers -- 53% -- say they skip TV commercials. Almost 80% of online U.S. adults obtain video content from traditional television programming -- cable, satellite or fiber-to-the-home (telcos). Next comes DVD/Blu-ray discs, 66%; free video streaming services, 47%; and paid video streaming services, 37%.”

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Manson Murders: The TV Series -- It's in Development

A series project is in development about the Manson Family murders, with some high-profile principals involved. TheWrap.com reports that Fox is working with writer Bret Easton Ellis and musician and director Rob Zombie on the project, which is being developed as an event series.

The project is in very early development, the story notes. Ellis is slated to write the script, while Zombie will direct.

The project will track different characters whose fates intersect around the 1969 murders ordered by cult leader Charles Manson, the piece notes. “Actress Sharon Tate, who was pregnant with husband director Roman Polanski’s child, was one of those murdered in the mass slaying in Los Angeles,” the story adds.

Over the years a number of TV shows have explored Manson and the notorious murders. Most notably, in 1976, over two nights, CBS ran the 194-minute TV movie "Helter Skelter," which was based on the book of the same name co-written by Vincent Bugliosi, who prosecuted the Manson case. It starred Steve Railsback, who was scarily chilling as Manson.

sharon tate.pngSharon Tate

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New TV Spot Connects Sushi and Marijuana -- So, What Are They Selling? Here's the Commercial

An unusual new TV commercial, seen below, is rolling out in a cable blitz this weekend. Advertising Age reports that the spot, which is debuting in New Jersey, is for the Medical Cannabis Network.

"The ad, which depicts a dealer slinging sushi from his leather jacket, is aimed at doctors and patients, according to Jason Draizin, founder of Medical Cannabis Network. But the nature of the ads, and the time slots in which they're scheduled to air, could make them more appealing to the late-night set," the story reports.

Please click here to read the full report from Ad Age. And you can see the video below.

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Discovery Orders Second Season of Competition Series

Discovery has given a reality competition show an order for second season. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel renewed the series “Dude, You’re Screwed.”

The show tracks five elite survivalists who are dropped into harsh environments and told to find their way back to civilization within 100 hours, the piece notes.

“Season one, which premiered in December, featured a range of survivalists including a Green Beret, a member of the UK Royal Air Force, a former Navy SEAL and a veteran Army Scout,” the story notes. “Jim Berger and Scott Feeley are exec producing for High Noon, along with Discovery’s Julie Meisner Eagle and Erin Wanner.”

dude you're screwed.png"Dude, You're Screwed"

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'Sopranos' Emmy Winner Lands in CBS Comedy

A CBS comedy project will feature an actor who was a part of Tony Soprano's gang on HBO's "The Sopranos." Deadline.com reports that "Joey Pants" -- actor Joe Pantoliano -- is joining the pilot “More Time With Family."

Pantoliano won an Emmy in 2003 for his supporting role as Ralph Cifaretto on "The Sopranos."

The CBS project, which stars Tom Papa and Alyson Hannigan, is based on Papa’s stand-up comedy material and the experiences of Matt Damon, who is one of the executive producers. It focuses on Tom, played by Papa, a married father who changes his career to enable him to spend more time with his family.

Pantoliano will play Stan Rizzo, Tom’s father. The actor is known for a string of film roles going back to the '70s, including playing Teddy in "Memento," Cypher in "The Matrix," Guido "the Killer Pimp" in "Risky Business" and the violent mobster Caesar in "Bound."

joe pantoliano.jpgJoe Pantoliano

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BBC America Orders Companion Series for 'Top Gear'

BBC America has ordered a show that it will pair with its wildly popular car series "Top Gear." Variety reports that the cable channel greenlighted eight episodes of the unscripted series “Mud, Sweat and Gears," described as a "vehicle transformation" show.

The hourlong program is hosted by British car journalists Tom "Wookie" Ford and Jonny Smith, and features teams given 24 hours to change an ordinary vehicle into one capable of taking on stunts, the story notes.

The program will join BBC America’s “Top Gear” on Monday nights, with the new show following the long-running car series, the piece adds. "Top Gear" is in its 21st season.

The report adds: "In addition to BBC America, 'Mud, Sweat and Gears' will be launched across the BBC’s international channels. It is also the first commission to be announced for the new male-skewing factual entertainment channel BBC Brit, set to bow in markets outside of the U.S. this year."

tom wookie ford.pngTom "Wookie" Ford

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California on Track to Lose More Showbiz Jobs -- and What the State Needs to Do About It

A new study finds not only that California is losing show business jobs, as is widely known, but also where those jobs seem to be going -- and what the state should do to stem the tide.

California should boost and make over its subsidies for the entertainment industry in order to stem job losses, Bloomberg reports, citing the study from the Milken Institute.

The state lost 16,137 entertainment jobs between 2004 to 2012, a loss of 11%, while its chief competitor, New York state, saw its entertainment jobs rise by almost 25%, the story notes.

“If California is to keep its entertainment employment base, California must create a distinctive incentive package that allows the entertainment industry to grow without engaging in a race to the bottom in a market saturated with subsidies,” the report said.

"The recommendations for California include increasing the tax credits from the current $100 million a year," the story reports. "The Milken Institute also calls for extending credits to films with budgets exceeding $75 million to keep 'blockbusters' in state. It says the state should dedicate a portion to hour-long TV shows and miniseries, and include incentives for filming outside Los Angeles and for visual effects."

The study also suggests implementing an application fee to fund an increase in staff at the California Film Commission.

The story notes: "Forty-three states subsidize entertainment production, typically through tax credits or rebates that totaled $1.5 billion in 2010, according to the report."

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'Parks and Recreation' Scores a High-Profile Guest Star for Its Season Finale

The NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation” will feature a high-profile guest appearance during its season finale. The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that the hour-long finale will include a visit from first lady Michelle Obama.

The episode, “Moving Up,” is slated to air April 24 at 8 p.m. ET. The program was filmed in Miami, where Michelle Obama was recently working on her “Let’s Move” initiative to fight childhood obesity.

“The first lady joins a growing list of real-world politicians crossing paths with dedicated public servant Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler)," the story notes. "Others have included Vice President Joe Biden, Arizona Sen. John McCain, California Sen. Barbara Boxer and former Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe."

michelle obama.pngMichelle Obama

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Discovery Communications Sets Major Channel Reorg

"Discovery Communications has shaken up its executive structure," reports B&C.

The major reorganization involves a number of Discovery's channels.

According to the article, "Discovery Channel group President Eileen O’Neill will give up oversight of the company’s second-highest-rated network, TLC, and has been placed in charge of Velocity and Science Channel. She will continue to oversee Discovery Channel, the company’s highest-rated network. TLC is now under the purview of group President Marjorie Kaplan, who will continue to oversee Animal Planet.

"Group President Henry Schleiff adds oversight of Discovery Fit & Health, in addition to his current role overseeing Investigation Discovery, Destination America and the upcoming American Heroes Channel. Discovery Fit & Health was also formerly one of O’Neill’s channels."

The article notes that Discovery Communications President and CEO David Zaslav said, “Eileen, Marjorie and Henry are among the finest creative leaders in the media business today, with proven track records of building brands, creating compelling programming slates and leading strong creative teams. I am confident, under their continued leadership, Discovery’s U.S. network portfolio will continue to grow market share, produce world-class content and fuel our international growth for years to come.”

Variety's story about the reorg says, "The reshuffling removes TLC from O’Neill’s direct supervision for the first time since 2008. O’Neill was instrumental in transforming the outlet from something once envisioned as 'The Learning Channel' into a showcase for character-driven reality programs like 'Jon & Kate Plus Eight' or 'Cake Boss.' Under O’Neill’s oversight, TLC even put a program on the air featuring former U.S. vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on the screen."

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Wow: SECOND Oscar-Winner Joins Cast of NBC Pilot

We were impressed when we heard that an Academy Award-winning actress had joined the cast of an NBC pilot. Now we've heard that a second Oscar winner has also signed up for the same pilot.

"Amy Poehler’s NBC comedy pilot 'Old Soul' [now] boasts two Oscar winners, and casting is barely halfway done," writes our friend Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

First it had been reported that Oscar winner Rita Moreno had joined the cast.

In the latest story, Andreeva writes that Ellen Burstyn, who also has an Academy Award, "is set for a plum lead role opposite Natasha Lyonne in the single-camera pilot."

The story adds: " 'Old Soul' centers on a reformed wild child, Nadia (Lyonne), who has a business caring for the elderly and feels she has more in common with her colorful old clients than she does with people her age. Burstyn will play Nadia’s Aunt Eileen, an earthy lesbian with a New Age bent who has recently survived cancer."

Fred Willard will also be in the pilot, the story says.

Rita Moreno.jpgRita Moreno won an Oscar and a  Golden Globe for "West Side Story." She's also won two Emmys.

ellen Burstyn.pngEllen Burstyn won an Oscar for "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" and a Golden Globe for "Same Time, Next Year." She's also won two Emmys.

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Oscar Madness: More Than 500,000 Votes Were Cast As Public Chose The Best 'Best Picture' Winner Since 1949. The Winner Was NOT 'The Godfather, 'Lawrence of Arabia,' 'West Side Story' or 'The Lord of the Rings.' And the Oscar of Oscars Goes To...

As a build up to the Academy Awards broadcast on ABC this coming Sunday, March 2, 2014, ABC News conducted an online poll to determine the best "Best Picture" winner since 1949.

The contest pitted 64 "Best Picture" winners in bracket form, similar to what sports fans to for the NCAA college basketball tourney, known as "March Madness."

"And the winner is ... 'Forrest Gump,' the gripping, timeless classic that features Tom Hanks playing a man who might not have the highest I.Q., but possesses the biggest heart," ABC News reports, adding, "The 1994 movie follows this man's quest to be united with his true love Jenny."

The story adds, "In an astounding upset, 'Gump' garnered 54.8 percent of the vote against 'The Godfather.'  'Gump' had previously knocked off Hollywood classics like 'Braveheart' and 'Rain Man' on its way to the coveted honor.

"Overall, nearly 529,000 votes were cast over the six rounds."

The oldest movie in the competition was "All the King's Men," which won the 1949 Oscar for 'Best Picture."

That means that some of the all-time favorite Academy Award winners that won for Best Picture before 1949 -- such as "Gone With the Wind," "Casablanca," "The Best Years of Our Lives," and "It Happened One Night" -- were not included in the poll/contest.

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Fallon's Premiere Week Is the Biggest for NBC's 'Tonight Show' Since Carson

Jay who? The first week of NBC's "Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" racked up the biggest audience for the late-night franchise since the Johnny Carson era, NBC announced.

With time-shifted viewing added into the equation, the week of Feb. 17-21 -- which benefited from airing after NBC's Olympics coverage -- averaged 10.418 million total viewers, based on Nielsen "live plus three day" results, the network reported. In the key demo of viewers 18-49, the program averaged a 3.6 rating.

"The 10.418 million for Fallon’s week of post-Olympic telecasts is 'Tonight’s' biggest weeklong audience in 'live plus three day' results since before the era of DVR time-shifting," the network announced. "It was last topped during Johnny Carson’s final week hosting 'The Tonight Show' from May 18-22, 1992 (19.453 million). The 3.6 in 18-49 is 'Tonight’s' best week by that measure since May 11-15, 1998 (3.7 for the week of the 'Seinfeld' finale)."

The addition of time-shifted viewers pumped up the numbers by 29% in viewers 18-49 (to a 3.6 rating from a 2.8) and 23%, or 1.9 million persons, in total viewers (10.418 million vs. 8.493 million), the announcement adds.

The release adds: "It was also the youngest audience for any week this season of 'Tonight,' 'Late Show with David Letterman' or 'Jimmy Kimmel Live,' with the median age of Fallon’s audience last week coming in at 52.6. Current season-average median ages are: 'Late Show,' 58.7; 'Kimmel,' 54.2; and 'Tonight,' excluding last week’s post-Olympic telecasts, 58.1."

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Back to Business as Usual in Prime Time: NBC's Olympics-Fueled Winning Streak Ends

NBC's run at No. 1 in the nightly prime-time ratings came to an end Wednesday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. After 20 consecutive nights as the top broadcast network -- driven largely by NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia -- the Peacock Network settled for a tie with ABC for third place in the demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC and ABC both came in with preliminary 1.8 average ratings in viewers 18-49, while Fox and CBS fought it out for the top spot. On the strength of its two-hour "American Idol," Fox nipped CBS to claim No. 1 for the night with a 2.6 average -- just a tick ahead of CBS's 2.5. Univision trailed the big four broadcast nets with a 1.1 average.

Fox also won total viewers by a narrow margin over CBS, averaging 10.6 million to the Tiffany Network's 9.7 million. Trailing the two leaders were NBC (6.8 million), ABC (5.9 million) and Univision (2.9 million).

"American Idol's" 2.6 in adults 18-49 equaled its number from a week earlier.

CBS was paced by the season premiere of "Survivor," with the two-hour program delivering a 2.5 average in 18-49. That was up one-tenth from the show's premiere last spring. But CBS's "Criminal Minds" was off two-tenths from last week with a 2.3.

NBC's three drama series were all over the ratings map, with one of them, "Revolution," matching a series low (1.3 in the 18-49 demo, equaling the previous original episode) while another one, "Chicago PD," scored a series high (2.2), rising a half-point from its previous original. "Law & Order: SVU" ticked up two-tenths to a 2.0.

ABC's tie with NBC came despite a night of season lows and series lows for the Alphabet Network. ABC's premiere of "Mixology" became the lowest-rated series premiere ever in the spot leading out from "Modern Family," managing only a 1.8 in adults 18-49. As for "Modern Family," it fell four-tenths from its previous original to a season-low 3.1.

Elsewhere on ABC, "The Middle" was down four-tenths from its previous original in viewers 18-49, equaling its season low with a 1.8 average; "Suburgatory" also matched its season low, a 1.5, slipping two-tenths; and "Nashville" tied its all-time low, dipping one-tenth to a 1.2.

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Spike Lee Explains Expletive-Filled Rant -- Here's the Video

Filmmaker Spike Lee appeared on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" to talk about his expletive-filled rant delivered Tuesday during an African-American History Month lecture. Lee has come under fire for the rant, which focused on gentrification in Harlem and other traditionally black New York neighborhoods.

Here's a CNN clip, which includes audio of Lee's rant, followed by a portion of Lee's interview with Cooper:

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A+E's Replacement for Its Biography Channel, Called FYI, Sets Launch Date and First Programming Slate

A+E Networks rolled out details about the company's new cable channel, FYI, which replaces its Biography Channel.

The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the new lifestyle-focused network "will relaunch July 7 as an 'inspiration engine' for a core audience of upscale women in their early 40s, president Jana Bennett tells THR. The inaugural slate will look to reflect the varied passions of its viewers, with programming devoted to fashion, food, style and design."

The inaugural lineup of programs includes two home renovation shows, a style makeover program and a show that puts a spin on the YouTube favorite "Epic Meal Time."

Also on tap: "The Feed," a mix of food and comedy hosted by Gail Simmons ("Top Chef"), Marcus Samuelsson ("The Taste") and comedian Max Silvestri.

Both "The Feed" and "The Epic Meal Show" reflect a programming philosophy that puts an emphasis on humor, the report notes.

Said Bennett: "It's time for lifestyle to show that it can have a sense of humor. There's a lot of comedy in life, and yet the old-fashioned instructional lifestyles shows didn't leave a lot of room for humor."

THR adds: "'Epic' will come out of the gate with 16 half-hour episodes featuring Harley Morenstein, the 'Sauce Boss,' and his kitchen crew as they invent new dishes. The lightly scripted entry, which Bennett says will be different from the iteration G4 developed, is being produced by The Collective and Nexttime Productions."

The report notes that Giant Pirates' "The Feed" is billed as "part road show, part buddy comedy and part talk show, and will launch with six hourlong episodes."

The story adds: "Other forthcoming FYI shows bowing this summer include a food competition series ('World Food Championships'), a style makeover show ('B.O.R.N. to Style') and a pair of renovation efforts focused on competing housing projects ('Renovation Row') and extreme downsizing ('Tiny House Nation')."

A+E Networks also announced today that it has hired Lisa Mallen as Senior VP of Ad Sales for FYI Network. Please click here to read the full announcement on Mallen's hiring.

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Video: Seth Rogen Testifies at Senate Hearing

Actor Seth Rogen's testimony this week at a Senate hearing brought humor to an often humorless room, as Rogen couldn't keep himself from cracking a few jokes even as he talked about a serious subject: Alzheimer's disease.

"The actor best known for his roles in comedies such as 'Knocked Up' made an impassioned plea before a Senate panel about the federal government’s role in Alzheimer’s disease," the Detroit Free Press reports. "He posted several items on Twitter about his experience in the halls of Congress -- and didn’t mask his disappointment that there were only two senators in the room for his entire testimony before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that deals with funding for the Health and Human Services Department."

Rogen apparently was a bit ticked off at Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who "tweeted a picture of himself with the actor -- but apparently did not stay for Rogen’s testimony," the paper reports.

The report adds: "Judging from the news stories about Wednesday’s hearing, Rogen was eloquent and touching as he described how the debilitating disease has affected his mother-in-law at the age of 55 and prompted him and his wife to start the non-profit group Hilarity for Charity to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s."

Here's a clip of Rogen's opening comments during Wednesday's hearing:

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A+E Networks Fills Key Research Post

A+E Networks announced a number of executive moves today, including filling the post of Senior Vice President, Research & Analytics. The company promoted Don Robert to the position.

Robert will report to Mel Berning, President, Ad Sales, A+E Networks, who made the announcement.

Previously, Robert was Senior Vice President, Program Research, A+E Networks

Said Berning: “Don is an industry leader with unparalleled audience insights. He has been instrumental in the growth and success of A+E Networks. For over a decade, Don and his team have put A+E Networks at the forefront of trends in viewership patterns in the multi-platform environment. I am thrilled he is taking on this expanded role.”

The company also announced the hiring of Lisa Mallen as Senior Vice President, Ad Sales, for the new FYI Network.

Please click here to read the full announcement from A+E Networks on the Don Robert promotion. The full announcement on the hiring of Lisa Mallen can be read by clicking here.

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Time to Throw a Final Kiss as Veteran Game Show Host Dies -- He Was a TV Fixture on 'The Dating Game'

A veteran game show host who became a television fixture with his long run on "The Dating Game" has died. The Associated Press reports that Jim Lange, who had a 45-year career in radio and television, died Tuesday at his Mill Valley, Calif., home after suffering a heart attack. He was 81.

“Though Lange had a successful career in radio, he is best known for his television role on ABC's ‘The Dating Game,’ which debuted in 1965 and on which he appeared for more than a decade, charming audiences with his mellifluous voice and wide, easygoing grin,” the story notes.

Some of the contestants were celebrities, including Michael Jackson and Steve Martin, the piece notes. Before becoming a star on “Charlie’s Angels,” Farrah Fawcett appeared and was introduced as an “accomplished artist” who dreamed of opening her own gallery, the story notes.

The format hid members of the opposite sex from the contestant, who was allowed to question the would-be dates.
“The questions were designed by the show's writers to elicit sexy answers,” the story notes.

“I’ve never been out on a date before. What do two kids like us do on a date?" Michael Jackson, then a teen, asked in a 1972 episode.

After working on “The Dating Game,” Lange hosted shows including “Hollywood Connection” and “$100,000 Name that Tune.” He also made guest appearances playing himself on a number of TV series, including "Bewitched" and "Laverne & Shirley."

Here's a classic episode of "The Dating Game" hosted by Jim Lange, with an appearance by comedian Andy Kaufman:

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'Friends' Star Owes Manager $1.6 Million

A jury has ruled that one of the stars of the NBC hit “Friends” owes her former manager $1.6 million. The Hollywood Reporter’s Hollywood, Esq., reports that the jury on Wednesday ordered Lisa Kudrow to pay the money to her ex-manager Scott Howard.

“In a long-running case, Howard sued the ‘Friends’ star in 2008 after being terminated the year earlier,” the story reports. “The manager contended that he was owed 5 percent of her earnings from continuing residuals of work negotiated when Howard was representing Kudrow.”

The report adds: “The two operated under an oral agreement, and Kudrow disputed that there was any understanding of this arrangement. At trial, Howard pointed to the customs and practices in the entertainment industry.”

Kudrow’s attorney, Gerard Sauer, said after the ruling: “The jury’s verdict is merely one step in the legal process. This case ultimately will be resolved at the appellate level. Ms. Kudrow has faith in the judicial system, and she believes that the eventual outcome of this contractual dispute will be in her favor.”

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for lisa-kudrow.jpgLisa Kudrow

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Paula Deen Says She Identifies With 'That Black Football Player'

Paula Deen, whose television career and sponsorship deals took a hit after she admitted to using a racial epithet, said she identifies with “that black football player who recently came out,” reports TheWrap.com, citing a People magazine cover story.

“I feel like ‘embattled’ or ‘disgraced’ will always follow my name. It’s like that black football player who recently came out,” Deen said. “He said, ‘I just want to be known as a football player. I don’t want to be known as a gay football player.’ I know exactly what he’s saying.”

The reference was apparently to the first openly gay NFL prospect, Michael Sam of the University of Missouri.

"And since television personalities Phil Robertson ('Duck Dynasty') and Nigella Lawson ('The Taste') endured scandals last year without any noticeable damage to their careers, Deen has developed newfound 'empathy' for those scrutinized by the media," the report adds.

Said Deen: “It’s amazing that some people are given passes and some people are crucified. I have new empathy for these situations, though. My dad always told me, ‘Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.’”

The former Food Network star told People magazine that she’s “fighting to get my name back.”

"I used to have dreams that I lost everything," she said. "And when it finally happens, you think, 'I'm still alive.’”
Deen is hoping to revive her business, following a $75 million-$100 million deal with private investment firm Najafi Companies, People notes.

TheWrap notes that a rep for Deen's new company, Paula Deen Ventures, "said earlier this month that it is currently speaking with several 'TV networks, retail chains and other possible partners.' Food Network is not one of them."

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for paula-deen.jpgPaula Deen

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'American Hustle' Director Exits ABC Drama Series

“American Hustle” director and writer David O. Russell has left the ABC drama he was slated to executive produce, reports Nellie Andreeva on Deadline.com.

Russell developed the project, “The Club,” with Susannah Grant, CBS TV Studios and studio-based Timberman-Beverly. ABC greenlighted the project with a straight-to-series 13-episode order, the story notes.

That order remains in place after Russell’s departure.

“Russell, nominated for writing and directing Oscars for ‘American Hustle,’ is expected to refocus fully on features. It is not unusual for big-name filmmakers to back out of a TV project, often pulled away by feature commitments,” the story notes.

“The Club” is an upstairs/downstairs drama set at a country club. It has cast Callie Hernandez of “Sin City 2” as Ana, a worker at the club who secretly steals items to pawn.

Thumbnail image for david o russell.pngDavid O. Russell

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Time Warner Cable Adds 'Broadcast TV Fee' to Its Bills

Time Warner Cable is adding a new line item to customers' bills, and the company is blaming the new “broadcast TV fee” on a 40% rise in retransmission consent fees, reports Duane Dudek of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“The broadcast TV fee for new or non-promotional video customers is $2.25, and represents a 6% increase. However, according to Time Warner, 70% of its customers won't see any immediate boost because they are in a promotional package,” Dudek writes.

"It's important to ... make our customers aware of the substantial amount of money broadcasters have started to charge Time Warner Cable and other TV providers. Retransmission fees paid by TV providers like Time Warner Cable have become a huge source of revenue for networks and local broadcasters ... in addition to the money they already make selling advertising on their programs,” Time Warner Cable said.

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Late-Night Talk Show Renewed -- With a Little Help From a Late-Night Heavyweight (Check Out the Video)

The crowded late-night talk landscape appears poised to remain just as crowded for a while. TheWrap.com reports that one of the newer entries, "The Arsenio Hall Show," will be around for a second season.

The show was renewed by CBS Television Distribution, the story reports. The syndicated show, which started airing in September, has a median viewer age of 50.1 years, which makes it the youngest in late-night TV for broadcast networks, the story notes. It has been averaging 6.7 million unique viewers weekly.

The renewal was announced on Hall's show with the help of Jay Leno, with the former “Tonight Show” host making his first appearance since he left his own late-night program, the piece notes.

Check out the video:

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HBO Picks Up Series for Second Season

HBO has announced that it will bring back a series for a second season. The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that the pay cable net renewed its gay-themed dramedy “Looking.”

The half-hour program will start production on a second season later this year, although the number of episodes hasn’t been announced. The show, now winding up its first season, has seen a rise in viewership numbers since its debut, the story notes.

About 519,000 viewers tuned in for its most recent episode, a series high, and about 50% more than tuned in for its premiere.

Three cast members have been promoted to series regulars for the second season: Lauren Weedman, who plays Doris; Raul Castillo, who plays Patrick’s (Jonathan Groff) love interest; and Russell Tovey as Patrick’s boss, the story notes.

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Ca-Ching! New York City to Get a $200 Million Infusion From TV Superhero Projects

Marvel Studios and Walt Disney will spend about $200 million taping four live-action television series -- each based on a different comic book character -- in New York City, reports The New York Times.

The deal was announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, with his office calling it “the largest film or television production project commitment in New York State history.”

The TV shows will debut on Netflix starting in 2015.

The deal will give Disney about $4 million in tax breaks. It will also create about 400 full-time jobs and thousands of part-time production opportunities.

“The first show will be based on the adventures of Daredevil, a Marvel superhero who, as a child growing up in Hell’s Kitchen, was blinded by a radioactive substance only to find his other senses and abilities greatly enhanced,” the story reports.

The article adds: “The other three characters featured in the new shows are Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage.”

daredevil comic book character.jpgDaredevil

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TV Version of 'Fargo' Adds Comedy Team to Cast

An upcoming television series that is an adaptation of the Oscar-winning 1996 Coen brothers movie "Fargo" appears to be putting the accent on funny. The New York Post reports that the FX project has added the comedy duo Key & Peele -- Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele -- to the cast of the "Fargo" series.

The comedians, the stars of Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele,” will portray FBI agents Webb Pepper and Bill Budge, who are trying to find a drifter played by Billy Bob Thornton. The pair will appear on the show’s final four episodes.

The 10-episode series will debut April 15. It also stars Martin Freeman of “Sherlock” and Kate Walsh of “Private Practice.”

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'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' Actress Joins CBS Project

CBS has cast one of the stars of the long-running supernatural drama series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in a new half-hour pilot. Deadline.com reports that actress Michelle Trachtenberg, who played Dawn Summers on "Buffy," is joining “Save the Date."

Trachtenberg will play opposite Maggie Lawson’s Kate, who has booked a wedding venue and now wants to meet the right man before the event date. Trachtenberg will play Kate’s no-nonsense sister Hillary, who is also her roommate.

Other cast members include Tom Bennett and Julie White, with Bennett playing Hillary’s boyfriend and White portraying Kate and Hillary’s mother.

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NBC Extends Its Prime-Time Winning Streak as CBS Dramas Sink

The Sochi Olympics may be over, but NBC's prime-time winning streak is not. NBC came in first again in the key 18-49 demo in Tuesday prime, based on Nielsen overnights, pushing its winning streak in the demo to 20 consecutive nights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the Peacock Network averaged a 2.6 rating in viewers 18-49 for prime time -- well below its averages during its Sochi coverage but still good enough to win the night. Doing the heavy lifting for NBC was "The Voice," which was far and away the top show on broadcast with a 3.7 average -- despite losing a full point from Monday's 4.7.

After repeats of comedies "About a Boy" (2.4 average in 18-49) and "Growing Up Fisher" (2.0), NBC saw an original episode of "Chicago Fire" settle for a 1.8 at 10 p.m. -- equaling the season low for the show's previous original.

CBS rode a lineup of fresh dramas to second place in the demo for the night -- and first in total viewers. "NCIS" fell a half-point from its previous original to a 2.6 in the 18-49 demo, a season low, but pulled in the night's biggest total audience with 16.89 million viewers.

CBS's "NCIS: Los Angeles" fell six-tenths from its previous fresh installment to a series-low 2.2 in viewers 18-49, while "Person of Interest" also hit a series low, a 1.7, down four-tenths.

ABC stayed in the hunt with a two-hour "The Bachelor," which slipped one-tenth from Monday in the 18-49 demo to a 2.4. The network's premiere of "Mind Games" at 10 p.m. managed only a 1.1 average -- three-tenths lower than last season's "Zero Hour" premiere.

Fox brought up the rear among the big four broadcast networks, with its best number in the 18-49 demo being a 1.4 for "New Girl." "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" delivered a 1.3 and "Glee" managed a 1.2, as all three shows ticked up one-tenth of a point from their previous originals.

For prime time overall, NBC won adults 18-49 with a 2.6 average rating, topping CBS (2.2 average), ABC (2.0), Fox (1.2) and Univision (1.1). CBS wound up comfortably ahead in total viewers with 13.6 million, leading NBC (9.3 million), ABC (6.6 million), Univision (2.9 million) and Fox (2.8 million).

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Report: Actor From HBO Series Wrapping Up Deal to Play Villain in 'Star Wars: Episode VII'

One of the stars of an HBO series appears poised to play the villain in the eagerly awaited first installment of the final "Star Wars" trilogy. TheWrap.com reports that "Girls" actor Adam Driver is close to locking down a deal to take on the role in "Star Wars: Episode VII."

"Driver has been in the 'Star Wars' mix for some time, but scheduling issues provided an obstacle. It looks as though that hurdle has been overcome," the story reports. "Warner Bros. had been seeking Driver to star in the Green Hat Films production 'Arms and the Dudes,' but the actor was reluctant to commit knowing that he stood a strong chance for a lead role in 'Star Wars.' Driver was forced to turn down a supporting role in 'Batman vs. Superman' for the same reason."

Reps for Driver were not confirming anything, nor were Disney or LucasFilm, the piece notes.

"It remains unclear what Driver’s role will be, though it is understood that the character will be villainous in nature," the story reports, adding: "[J.J.] Abrams is directing from a script he co-wrote with Lawrence Kasdan. Abrams is also producing with his Bad Robot partner Bryan Burk and LucasFilm’s Kathleen Kennedy."

The movie is set to start filming this spring in London, and due for release Dec. 18, 2015.

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Wobbly Pop Star: Here's Police Video of Justin Bieber's Sobriety Test

A police video released today of pop singer Justin Bieber's sobriety test during his recent DUI arrest in Florida, posted online by the Miami Herald, shows Bieber a little unsteady as he tries to walk a white line in the Miami Beach police station.

"The clip was one of more than 10 hours of footage, released by prosecutors as part of the criminal case against the Canadian bad-boy pop singer," the paper reports.

Another person seen in the video, seated nearby, "appears to be Khalil Sharieff, a 19-year-old recording artist who was arrested along with Bieber last month," the report notes.

The story adds: "Prosecutors released the videos, on nine CDs, to a line of reporters who paid $135 each for the evidence. The release of the videos came one day after Bieber’s defense team said it would not object to prosecutors releasing more than 10-plus hours of video footage -- with the exception of five video clips that may show Bieber urinating at the Miami Beach police station."

Bieber was arrested Jan. 23 and charged with driving under the influence. "Officers accuse Bieber, 19, of drag racing in a high-powered Lamborghini on a street closed off by his security team," the report notes.

Here's the video:

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New MSNBC Show Rolls Out -- and Hardly Anyone Tunes In

It could be a tough road ahead for a new MSNBC show if it hopes to attract an audience. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the cable news channel's new show “Ronan Farrow Daily” premiered Monday to only 46,000 viewers in the key news demo of viewers 25-54, representing a 51% decline from the channel's February average in the 1 p.m. hour.

That placed the show third in the time slot among cable news channels, behind Fox News’ “America’s News Headquarters” and CNN’s “Wolf.”

Among total viewers, Farrow also ranked third, drawing 216,000 viewers, down 26%. That number tied the show with “Jansing & Co.” as MSNBC’s least watched show of the day, the story says.

“First-day ratings should always be taken with a grain of salt in the fluid cable news landscape, but it is not the most promising start for the broadcast. In a bid, in part, to appeal to a younger set, MSNBC first approached Farrow last summer,” the story notes.

It adds, “But Farrow's audience skewed decidedly older. Among adults 18-49, he averaged just 21,000 viewers.”

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Actress' Famous Real-Life Parents to Play Her TV Parents in New Comedy

A well-known TV actress whose parents are also famous will be joined by them on her new comedy project. Deadline.com reports that Rashida Jones’ real life parents -- actress Peggy Lipton and musician Quincy Jones -- have been cast as her parents on the TBS comedy pilot “Tribeca."

The project also will feature Alfred Molina in a guest-starring or recurring role, while “Friends” actress Lisa Kudrow is in discussions about appearing in a cameo, the story notes.

The project is directed by “The Office” star Steve Carell, who also wrote the script with his wife, Nancy Carell. Rashida Jones will play Angie Tribeca, who works in the Los Angeles Police Department with a group of quirky but brilliant people, the story notes.

Rashida Jones is known for her role as Ann Perkins on the NBC comedy series "Parks and Recreation" and has been a part of Fox's "Boston Public" and NBC's "The Office," among other TV roles. She also works in feature films, with her credits including "The Social Network" and "I Love You, Man."

rashida-jones.jpgRashida Jones

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Former CNN Anchor Has His Arm Amputated After Freak Accident

A former CNN anchor reports that he had his left arm amputated above the elbow after a freak accident. Writing on his blog, Miles O’Brien reports: “I wish I had a better story to tell you about why I am typing this with one hand (and some help from Dragon Dictate)."

He continues, “A shark attack would be interesting. An assassination attempt would be intriguing. Skydiving mishaps always make for good copy. An out-of-control quad copter that turns on its master would be entertaining (and would come complete with a grim, potentially viral, video).”

O’Brien, who is a “PBS Newshour” science correspondent and independent producer, writes that he was stacking Pelican cases filled with TV gear onto a cart during a reporting trip in Asia. One of the cases fell on his left forearm.

“Ouch! It hurt, but I wasn’t all ‘911’ about it. It was painful and swollen but I figured it would be okay without any medical intervention. Maybe a little bit of denial?” he writes.

“The next day, February 13, things seemed status quo. It was sore and swollen but seemingly no worse. Then, that night, things got worse. Both the pain and swelling increased,” he adds.

O’Brien visited a doctor, who told him he might have acute compartment syndrome, which he writes is “an increase in pressure inside an enclosed space in the body. This can block blood flow causing a whole host of serious, life-threatening consequences.”

He reports: “He had me admitted to the hospital. Over the next few hours, I endured probably the longest, most painful experience I could ever imagine. My forearm developed some dusky discoloration, but more alarming was the numbness. I could not feel my forearm!”

After an emergency fasciotomy failed to halt the progress and O’Brien started to lose blood pressure, the doctor “made a real-time call and amputated my arm just above the elbow. He later told me it all boiled down to a choice … between a life and a limb.”

O’Brien adds: “So I woke up to a new reality in the hospital. It’s been a challenging week dealing with the phantom pain, the vicissitudes of daily life with one hand and the worries about what lies ahead.

“But I am alive and I’m grateful for that. Please don’t worry about me. I’m sure I can cope just fine. If I need your help, I promise I will ask.

“Life is all about playing the hand that is dealt you. Actually, I would love somebody to deal me another hand right about now -- in more ways than one.”

miles obrien.pngMiles O'Brien

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CBS Orders New Comedy Starring One of NBC's 'Friends'

CBS is moving forward with a comedy project that will star one of the main cast members of the long-running NBC hit "Friends." Deadline.com reports that CBS gave a pilot order to a reboot of the classic television series “The Odd Couple” from Matthew Perry.

Perry is slated to star in, co-write and executive produce the project, in which he will play the messy Oscar Madison.

Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple” first premiered on Broadway in 1965, with Walter Matthau as Oscar and Art Carney as the neat-freak Felix. It led to a 1968 movie starring Matthau, with Jack Lemmon as Felix. Then, ABC debuted the TV series in 1970, with Jack Klugman as Oscar and Tony Randall as Felix.

“For Perry, doing ‘The Odd Couple’ has been a dream 34 years in the making,” the story notes. Perry has said he had dreamed of playing Oscar ever since he saw the movie when he was 10 years old.

matthew perry.jpgMatthew Perry

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Will Ferrell Under Fire for Stand on Obamacare

Comedian Will Ferrell is the target of backlash after becoming involved in the Obamacare debate. The "Saturday Night Live" alum came under fire for posting a photo of himself on Facebook in which he holds a cardboard sign with the hashtag #GetCovered written on it, reports Advertising Age.

The message is meant as support for Obamacare, and the White House reposted the photo to its 2.1 million followers, the story notes.

While Ferrell’s post gained more than 17,600 likes and 1,750 shares, it also received 4,000 mostly negative comments, such as “I thought he was only a fool in the movies ….”

The White House has received celebrity endorsements for Obamacare from stars including Olivia Wilde and Jennifer Hudson, the piece notes.

“Mr. Ferrell's post comes as a deadline is looming. The last day to sign up for 2014 coverage without tax penalties is March 31, which was extended from mid-February,” the story adds.

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Amazon Rescues Canceled Series

Amazon has come to the rescue of a TV series that was canceled by its original broadcaster. Deadline.com reports that the streaming service stepped in to save the British period drama “Ripper Street,” ordering a third season of the BBC crime series after it was canceled in December.

Amazon has also bought U.K. subscription streaming rights to the previous seasons of the Victorian era drama, the story adds. In the U.S., the show aired on BBC America. Its cancellation “elicited an outpouring of lament from fans,” the article notes.

“This is the first time a VOD service has ridden to the rescue of a drama series after it was axed by a UK network," the piece reports. "The ‘Ripper Street’ order is part of Amazon’s commitment to invest in original content as well as a move that continues to increase its local rivalry with Netflix."

The third season is set to start filming in May, the piece notes.

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Is This The End of the Annoying Parking Ticket? Probably Not, But a New App Will Fight Them for You -- It's Our Non-TV Story of the Day

A new iPhone app launching this week is designed to help people get rid of a particularly annoying problem -- the unfair parking ticket.

CNN reports: "Now there's a new iPhone app, Fixed, that will fight parking tickets for you. The app ... will do the heavy lifting of contesting a ticket: suggesting reasons it might be invalid, gathering supporting evidence and submitting the proper appeals paperwork."

Motorists who beat their citations pay Fixed 25% of what the fee would have been on the ticket. If the ticket holds up, the Fixed service is free.

"In this way, Fixed hopes to add navigating bureaucracy to the list of urban tasks and nuisances -- catching a cab, ordering food, finding a place to crash -- made easier by popular tech startups," the report notes.

Said Fixed co-founder David Hegarty: "When you mention parking tickets to people it engenders such an emotional reaction ... because so many people think they've received an unfair parking ticket."

CNN adds: "That emotional response, as well as a desire to not shell out $100 for blocking a couple inches of someone's driveway, could make Fixed a hit. But its success will depend on how good the service is at navigating parking laws, which are often a confusing hodgepodge of local and state ordinances."

The piece reports: "Here's how Fixed works: When someone gets a ticket, they snap a photo of it on their iPhone and enter the violation code. The Fixed app will tell them what percentage of those types of tickets are usually overturned and then show a list of possible reasons it could be found invalid. For example, a street cleaning sign might be obscured by a leafy tree, or a parking meter could be broken.

"If the motorist thinks they have a case, the app will prompt them to capture any additional photographic evidence with their phone and then digitally sign a letter."

The service is initially launching only in San Francisco, the report notes.

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On the Heels of Alec Baldwin's Vow to Quit Public Life -- He's Coming Soon to a Popular TV Drama

Alec Baldwin may say he's through being a celebrity, but he's not dropping off the popular culture radar just yet. Days after the actor wrote a column about his vow to drop out of public life, EW.com’s Inside TV reports that Baldwin has a guest appearance coming up on NBC's “Law & Order: SVU."

Baldwin will play Jimmy MacArthur, a newspaper columnist who questions the motives of the SVU squad, the story notes. The character is said to come up against Sgt. Olivia Benson, played by Mariska Hargitay, who will be making her directorial debut with the episode.

Katie Couric is also set to appear in the episode, playing a talk show host who talks with MacArthur about the case.

The episode will air March 19 at 9 p.m.

As we reported earlier this week, Baldwin wrote a long piece in New York Magazine in which he said, among other things: "I loathe and despise the media in a way I did not think possible. This is the last time I'm going to talk about my personal life in an American publication ever again."

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

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Netflix Mocks Amazon With 'Drone to Home' Service -- Here's the Video

Netflix took a swipe at Amazon with a satirical video touting a new “Drone to Home” service, The New York Times reports. The video quickly spread across the Internet, with consumers posting it to Twitter and Facebook, the report notes.

The story reports: “Barely a minute long, the video purports to show a Netflix warehouse with cute little copters flying off carrying the distinctive red Netflix DVD envelopes. ‘Unlike other companies trying to rush unproven technology to market, we have literally spent days working out most of the bugs,’ the narrator says, as one woman tries to run away from a drone following her, and another explodes in the background."

The report adds: “Even when the DVDs are delivered successfully, the delivery is a little too all-knowing -- through the open sunroof of a car, to a person camping, even to a man standing at a urinal.”

Netflix has been poking fun at rivals recently, and with Amazon has found an “easy target” given its plan to deliver packages with drones, the story notes.

Netflix and Amazon are competing for streaming content customers, with Amazon’s Prime Instant Video offering online streaming for TV and movies.

Here's the video:

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Larry King Goes to Bat for the Dodgers

Larry King, a lifelong fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers, is about to go to bat for his team. The veteran TV talk host will star in a new series on SportsNet LA called “Larry King at Bat,” which will feature King interviewing celebrities and “beloved Dodger luminaries,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The former CNN host has been a fan of the Dodgers since they played in Brooklyn, remaining a fan after the team moved to Los Angeles in 1957. He attended his first Brooklyn Dodgers game in 1943, and interviewed Jackie Robinson twice, the story notes.

"I have been a Dodger fan all my life. I am happy to be a part of SportsNet LA, the new 24/7 Dodgers television network," King said at a news conference Tuesday.

larry king-dodgers jacket.jpgLarry King

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Aereo Receives 14-Day Reprieve in Utah Case

Aereo has received a 14-day reprieve from a Utah judge who had ordered an injunction against the online video service, reports B&C.

As previously reported, the injunction bars Aereo from running its service in the U.S. Tenth Circuit’s region, which includes Utah, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and parts of Montana and Idaho. The judge ruled that Aereo’s service violates the copyrights of the broadcasters.

But the judge has given Aereo a 14-day reprieve while it seeks a stay in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, B&C reports.

“That means Aereo can continue to operate in Denver and Salt Lake City for at least two more weeks,” the story notes.

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Top Costume Designers in TV and Film Honored

The Costume Designers Guild has handed out its 16th annual awards for productions in television and film, and among this year's honorees are designers behind some of television's most honored programs -- "House of Cards," "Behind the Candelabra" and "Downton Abbey."

Funny man Judd Apatow was on hand to be honored as a distinguished collaborator -- and to ensure that the gala had more than its share of laughs.

TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin was also on hand and filed a full report. Please click here to read all about the gala, the jokes and the honorees.

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Syfy Pulls the Plug on Drama Series

Syfy is giving the ax to a drama series. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the NBCUniversal-owned cable network made the official announcement today that it is canceling "Being Human."

The show is currently in the midst of its 13-episode fourth season, and will end its run after the season wraps.

In a statement announcing the cancellation, the cable channel said: "Showrunner Anna Fricke and the talented producers, writers, cast and crew have done an amazing job bringing this show to life over the past four seasons and we sincerely thank them and the series’ production company Muse Entertainment for their hard work. They’ve saved the best for last with the final six episodes that revisit the story’s beginning, leading to a not-to-be-missed send-off for Aidan, Sally, Josh and Nora."

THR adds: "'Being Human,' a North American adaptation of the popular British supernatural drama, debuted in January 2011 to nearly 2 million viewers and centered on a werewolf, vampire and ghost who lived together. The current season picked up four months after the events of the season-three finale. Never a ratings hit, 'Being Human' hovered around 1 million viewers for its most recent run of episodes."

Syfy has been undergoing a reorganization in its executive ranks, as we reported earlier.

The THR report notes: "At the moment, the remaining scripted originals on Syfy's docket are Ron Moore's 'Helix,' 'Haven' (with a supersized fifth season), 'Bitten' and 'Defiance,' as well as Canadian dramas 'Lost Girl' and 'Continuum.'"

Here's a video from some of the stars of "Being Human" about the show's winding down:

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Ratings Bloodbath for CNN as Fox News Extends Its Impressive Winning Streak

The cable news numbers for February paint an even bleaker picture for CNN than what the onetime industry front-runner already was looking at. Deadline.com reports that much of the network's prime-time programming lost close to half its audience from just a year ago.

"CNN‘s Anderson Cooper at 8 PM dropped 47% February to February in overall audience to average 421,000 viewers, and 46% in the news demo [adults 25-54] to 127,000 viewers for the month, according to Nielsen," the story reports. "In his defense, Cooper’s lead-in, 'Erin Burnett Outfront,' dropped 39% to post an average of 293,000 viewers in February, and slipped 32% in the news demo to 100,000 viewers. [Piers] Morgan’s getting scrubbed from 9 PM at CNN because, for instance, he logged 347,000 viewers for the month -- down 46% -- and 100,000 demo viewers -- down 38%."

Fox News Channel, meanwhile, continued what has been an almost unprecedented winning streak, stretching to 146 months in a row at No. 1 among cable news channels in total viewers -- in both prime time and total day. Fox was the only cable news network to post a gain from February 2013 both in total viewers and in the news demo, the report notes.

"In all of cable, Fox News ranked third in prime time (8-11 PM) -- behind USA Network and History -- and fifth for total day," Deadline reports. "Meanwhile, neither CNN [nor] MSNBC were able to crack the top 20 in either daypart. CNN ranked 39th in prime and 34th in today day; MSNBC 26th in prime and 27th in total day. Every hour of the day, Fox News dominated CNN and MSNBC combined in total viewers. It also beat both networks in the news demo."

Fox News had the top 13 cable news programs in total viewers, along with eight of the 10 highest-rated shows in viewers 25-54.

"'The O’Reilly Factor' still leads the pack, and edged up 3% February to February in overall audience (2.937 million) and 2% in the demo (450,000). But 'The Kelly File' jumped 23% in overall audience (2.337 million) and 11% in the demo (354,000)," the story notes.

MSNBC's top draw is Rachel Maddow, who averaged 996,000 total viewers and 287,000 demo viewers at 9 PM, "but in so doing she’s flat and up 7%, respectively," the report notes. "At 7 PM, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews jumped 24% and 17%, to 925,000 overall viewers and 232,000 demo viewers, respectively."

Here are the Top 5 cable news programs for February (all on Fox News):

Total Viewers

The O’Reilly Factor (2,937,000)
The Kelly File (2,337,000)
Special Report with Bret Baier (2,114,000)
The Five (2,107,000)
On the Record with Greta Van Susteren (1,938,000)

Adults 25-54

The O’Reilly Factor (450,000)
The Five (358,000)
The Kelly File (354,000)
Special Report with Bret Baier (315,000)
On the Record with Greta Van Susteren (299,000)

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TV Nets Take Their Case Against Aereo to the Supreme Court

The broadcast networks this week asked the Supreme Court to shut down Internet startup Aereo, arguing that the service, which uses tiny antennas to stream TV stations' free signals to Internet-connected devices, is stealing from the networks on a massive scale, The New York Times reports.

Broadcasters including ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox detailed their case against Aereo in a brief filed Monday with the high court. In it they said: “The Copyright Act does not tolerate business models premised on the unauthorized exploitation of the copyrighted works of others."

The court is scheduled to hear American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo on April 22. The case "has significant implications for a television industry undergoing profound changes, as well as challenges from upstart competitors like Netflix and Amazon," the story reports.

Aereo, which currently operates in 13 cities, has plans to grow. The company announced plans Monday to go into business starting next week in Austin, Texas.

"The company argues that it does not have to pay to retransmit the broadcasters’ programming because it temporarily assigns each viewer an antenna at its storage facility. That means instead of copying the material outright, it allows individuals to copy on their own," the story reports.

The report adds: "Lower courts are split on the legality of Aereo’s business. Last summer, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan ruled in favor of Aereo. Yet a dissenting judge in the case, Judge Denny Chin, called the Aereo system a 'sham.'”

Judge Chin wrote: “The system employs thousands of individual dime-sized antennas, but there is no technologically sound reason to use a multitude of tiny individual antennas rather than one central antenna; indeed, the system is a Rube Goldberg-like contrivance, over-engineered in an attempt to avoid the reach of the Copyright Act and to take advantage of a perceived loophole in the law."

A federal court in Utah sided with broadcasters last week, as we reported previously. In that case the court issued an injunction that forced Aereo to shut down regional operations.

In that case, Judge Dale A. Kimball wrote: “Despite its attempt to design a device or process outside the scope of the 1976 Copyright Act, Aereo’s device or process transmits plaintiffs’ copyrighted programs to the public."

The Times adds: "The broadcasters, which invest billions to create, acquire and distribute TV shows, argue that if Aereo is allowed to operate, cable and satellite companies will develop their own technologies to avoid paying them for their content, threatening the future of their business."

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'SNL' Taps Into Girl Power, Books First-Time Host

NBC's sketch comedy show "Saturday Night Live" has announced the guest host and musical guest for the March 8 show, and for the first time, Lena Dunham, the creator and star of the HBO comedy "Girls," will host the show, E! News reports.

The musical guest that night will be the National.

Dunham tweeted about the gig, writing: "Thank you for the SNL love. Dream come true. Can't wait to debut my character 'girl who googled serial killers all night & has lots to say'!"

The report adds: "She then tweeted two of SNL's castmembers, saying, 'ps @aidybryant @thesheertruth all the ladies of SNL I am cumming 4 u.'"

Dunham's HBO show is midway through its third season, with a new episode set to air Sunday, March 9, the report notes.

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'Simpsons' Voice Actor Prevails in Legal Battle Over One of His Characters

One of the principal voice actors on the long-running Fox animated show "The Simpsons" has prevailed in a lawsuit against another actor over a character on the show.

TheWrap.com reports that Hank Azaria, who plays Moe, Apu, Chief Wiggum and numerous other characters on “The Simpsons,” won a court victory in a suit he brought against “Leap Year” actor Craig Bierko over Azaria’s character sportscaster Jim Brockmire.

Brockmire was featured in a 2010 Funny or Die show called “Gamechangers.” In 2011, Bierko’s lawyer sent a cease and desist letter to Azaria over the character, claiming that Bierko had created him.

"Azaria filed suit in 2012, asserting that Bierko had falsely claimed ownership of the character, jeopardizing a potential movie deal," the story reports.

The judge granted Azaria’s motion for summary judgment last week, finding that Brockmire is copyrighted material owned by Azaria and How To Pictures, the report adds.

The article notes that the judge found that Brockmire “has characteristics such as being ‘a middle-aged white man’ who ‘wears plaid, a rose at his lapel, owns a lucky pen, has ‘old school’ values, has a penchant for movies, especially ‘The Godfather,’ loves his wife to death, jovially interacts with his public, has a depth of obscure cultural knowledge, loses his temper uncontrollably, and works as a baseball announcer.’”

Bierko’s character, who is called “Sports Announcer Character” in the judge’s order, has characteristics that don’t serve to distinguish him from “any actual baseball announcer sitting in the booth on given game day,” the judge wrote, according to the story.

hank azaria.pngHank Azaria

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NBC After the Olympics: Fallon on a Roll at 'Tonight,' Meyers Off to a Strong Start on 'Late Night' ... and a Big Ratings Win in Monday Prime

If NBC is about to crash back to Earth following its ratings spree with the Sochi Winter Olympics, it hasn't happened yet. With the return of "The Voice" Monday night, the network coasted to a huge win over its broadcast rivals in prime time, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC averaged a 4.2 rating in 18-49 for prime time, with its competition falling well short of that mark. ABC settled for a 2.2, followed by CBS with a 2.1 and Fox with a 1.6.

NBC's two-hour "The Voice" was down one-tenth of a ratings point from the spring premiere a year ago with a 4.7 average in the 18-49 demo. Leading out from it, "The Blacklist" had a solid 3.1 average, up six-tenths of a point from the show's previous original.

Meanwhile, NBC continued to flex its muscles in late-night. The first non-Olympic night for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” averaged a 4.5 household rating, 12 share in results from the 56 Nielsen Media Research metered markets. NBC reported that it was "Tonight's" highest Monday rating, excluding Olympic nights, in four years, since the return of Jay Leno on March 1, 2010, when the show delivered a 5.4.

Fallon continued to outdraw his top two rivals combined. His 4.5 rating was up 55% over “Tonight’s” non-Olympic season average (4.5 vs. 2.9, live plus same day). And it beat the combined metered-market household rating in the time period of CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman” (2.2/6) and ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (2.1/6).

Monday night also saw the premiere of “Late Night with Seth Meyers” at 12:35 a.m. ET, with the broadcast averaging a 2.6 household rating, 9 share in metered markets. NBC noted that it was the highest “Late Night” rating on a Monday in nine years -- since Jan. 24, 2005, for a “Late Night” encore that delivered a 4.2 when it followed a high-rated “Tonight Show” tribute to Johnny Carson.

NBC reported: "The debut of 'Late Night with Seth Meyers' is up 63% versus 'Late Night’s' season average (2.6 vs. 1.6, L+SD). Monday’s 'Late Night' retained 58% of its 'Tonight Show' lead-in (2.6 vs. 4.5), versus the show’s 55% season average (1.6 vs. 2.9). The 2.6 topped the combined ratings in the time slot of ABC’s 'Nightline' (1.4/5 for the first half-hour of the time period) and CBS’s 'Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson' (1.0/4)."

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Report: Justin Bieber Likely to Go to Trial

Pop singer Justin Bieber is likely to go to trial over one of his recent scrapes with the law. TMZ.com reports that Bieber is expected to be tried on a DUI charge, after the teenage superstar and Miami Beach prosecutors failed to strike a plea deal.

Prosecutors wanted Bieber to submit to random drug testing for six to nine months, but the singer reportedly would not accept any deal with probationary terms, especially drug testing, the story says.

The authorities are refusing to make a deal unless Bieber agrees to random drug testing, creating an impasse, the piece reports.

“With a plea deal all but off the table, a trial is likely," the article adds. "Law enforcement sources acknowledge there are problems with the arresting officers ... the fact that he may have lied when he said he smelled alcohol on Justin's breath (he blew a .014). And another cop claimed Justin was drag racing (at 27 MPH)."

The report notes: “At stake -- Justin could be tried for 3 offenses ... DUI, resisting arrest, and driving on an expired license. Worst case scenario -- 2 1/2 years in jail.”

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for justin bieber-bw.pngJustin Bieber

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Executive Shakeout Continues at Syfy

NBCUniversal-owned Syfy continues to shake up its executive ranks, with the latest casualty at the cable channel being reality chief Tim Krubsack, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Krubsack's exit from the channel comes just three months after Bill McGoldrick was tapped to replace Mark Stern as executive vice president, original content. Stern is set to become an executive producer for a new Syfy series that will debut this year, the story notes.

The network reorganized in November, with Syfy Films Senior Vice President Gregory Noveck and Director of Development Joshua Banta exiting at that time.

“After much consideration, I have decided to step down as Syfy's head of unscripted development to pursue other opportunities," Krubsack said in a statement.

Krubsack had expanded Syfy’s unscripted programming, adding shows such as “Heroes of Cosplay” and “Opposite Worlds,” among others, the story says. He joined Syfy in May 2008.

tim krubsack.pngTim Krubsack

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Why a Major Sponsor of the Olympics Decided Not to Buy Ads During NBC's Coverage of the Games

One big sponsor of the Olympics ran ads just about everywhere else on television during the recent Sochi Winter Games -- including on ABC, CBS and Fox, and on NBC's non-Olympics programming -- but didn't take out an ad during coverage of the Olympics themselves.

Advertising Age reports that Samsung, which is one of 10 global TOP sponsors -- The Olympic Partners -- ran spots on NBA games, nightly news and talk shows, including NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon," while sitting out coverage of the Sochi Games.

Was it about a tightening ad budget, or a strategic move? Maybe a little of both.

"Gone are the days when a TOP sponsor like Samsung needs to spend the majority of its marketing money on TV ads right before and during the Games. With the Games being streamed live on NBCOlympics.com, covered on MSNBC, NBCSN and chattered about on everything from morning news shows to late-night, Samsung seems to be spreading its buy to be more strategic," the story notes.

At the same time, the article reports: "For Samsung, however, the Sochi Olympics seems to mark a decline in spending. A Samsung spokeswoman declined to comment on spending changes, but ad trackers show the communications giant has spent aggressively on past Olympics. During the Vancouver Games in 2010, Samsung spent $18.6 million in measured media, according to Kantar, compared to $3.6 million during the same time period in the non-Olympic year of 2009."

Samsung has been running two Olympic-themed spots in the U.S. One of those, "Home Olympics," which can be seen below, has been among the most talked-about ads airing recently on television.

Please click here for more about the Samsung ad strategy in the full Ad Age article.

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Is Larry King Angling to Get His Old Slot Back on CNN?

With CNN canceling Piers Morgan’s prime-time show, former CNN host Larry King -- who held down that spot on the cable news channel for 25 years with his show "Larry King Live" -- is letting it be known that he's ready and able to move back into his old time slot.

Lloyd Grove at the Daily Beast reports that King said he would be willing to return to the cable network if CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker is interested.

King, 81, currently hosts "Larry King Now," a daily half-hour Web program for Ora TV, which is also carried on Hulu and Russia Today, a Putin government-backed TV network, the story notes.

“If [Zucker] talked to the people at Ora TV and they could work it out, I would do it,” King said.

As for Morgan’s failure, King said it is “very hard to step in -- putting myself aside -- into any shoes that have been there forever.”

King added: “We were very different styles. I asked shorter questions. I left myself out of it. Piers is more of an ‘I’ interview style.”

King also said: “I’m sorry. I never like to see anyone leave, but it’s a business where nothing is forever. It's transitory. Coaches are hired to be fired. I wish him well.”

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U.S. Supreme Court Turns Down Cable Channel's Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has turned down a request from a cable channel to hear its case. The Los Angeles Times reports that the court declined to take on Tennis Channel’s petition to overturn an appeals court ruling that favored Comcast.

The appeals court ruled that Comcast was within its rights to place Tennis Channel in a sports tier with limited distribution, the story reports, adding: “The Supreme Court's denial seems to slam the door on the Tennis Channel's marathon legal case against the nation's largest cable television operator."

Comcast, in a statement, said it was “pleased” that the appeals court ruling will stand.

Tennis Channel, for its part, said it was “disappointed that the Supreme Court chose not to hear the case.” It added, “This is not, of course, a decision on its merits, and not entirely surprising given the Court’s crowded docket."

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Disney World Raises Day Pass Price -- Second Increase in Seven Months

Disney World has just unveiled its hefty new single-day admission price. The New York Post reports that the theme park bumped up the price to $99, up about 15% from last spring, and marking the second fee increase in seven months.

The Walt Disney World park in Orlando, Fla., started charging $99 on Feb. 23 for single-day admission, while a four-day pass jumped 15% to $294. The price hike comes after the park upped its fees last May, the story adds.

Disney typically raises its prices in early June, as the school year ends and families plan vacations. The February increase may be a result of East Coast families eager to make reservations after a brutally cold winter, and the success of “Frozen,” which might be encouraging families and children interested in visiting, the piece adds.

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'Doctor Who' Casts New Character

Along with getting a new actor in the role of the Doctor next season, “Doctor Who” has cast a new recurring character. TVGuide.com reports that the show added Samuel Anderson, known to British viewers for his roles in shows such as “Gavin & Stacey” and “Emmerdale,” in a recurring role.

Anderson will play Danny Pink, a teacher at Coal Hill School, where Clara Oswald -- the Doctor’s new companion -- also teaches. The next season of the long-running science-fiction show will feature the debut of Peter Capaldi in the title role.

In a statement, Anderson said: “I was so excited to join ‘Doctor Who’ I wanted to jump and click my heels, but I was scared I might not come down before filming started! It's a quintessential part of British culture, and I can't believe I'm part of it."

Steven Moffat, the show’s executive producer, said in a statement that it’s the fourth time that Coal Hill School has been featured in the program. “In 1963, teachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright accompanied the first Doctor,” he said.

Oswald is played by Jenna Coleman. The next season will debut later this year on BBC America.

samuel anderson.pngSamuel Anderson

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Hallmark Greenlights Scripted Series Based on Movie Franchise

Hallmark has given the go-ahead to an original scripted series. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel is moving forward with “The Good Witch,” which is based on the network’s successful movie franchise of the same name.

Catherine Bell will return in the 10-episode series as Cassie Nightingale, the character she played in the movies. The network’s seventh “Good Witch” movie, “The Good Witch’s Wonder,” aired Oct. 25.

“Hallmark Channel had been mulling the idea of a ‘Good Witch’ series for a while but couldn’t proceed without Bell, who only recently became available for a regular gig following the end of her long-running Lifetime drama ‘Army Wives,’” the story reports.

catherine bell.pngCatherine Bell

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Emmy-Winning Actress Joins Showtime's 'Ray Donovan'

The cast of the Showtime crime drama series "Ray Donovan" is getting a big-name boost with the addition of an Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning actress.

Variety reports that Ann-Margret is joining the show's second season in a recurring role.

She’ll play June Wilson, a former star who shares a past with Ezra Goldman (Elliott Gould), Donovan’s boss. Other notable guest stars are slated to appear in the next season, including Hank Azaria and Wendell Pierce, the piece notes.

Ann-Margret has been nominated twice for Oscars -- in 1972 for her supporting role in "Carnal Knowledge" and in 1976 for her lead role in "Tommy." She has five Golden Globe trophies, and won a Primetime Emmy in 2010 for her guest role on "Law & Order: SVU."

The second season of "Ray Donovan," starring Liev Schreiber and Paula Malcomson, will air this summer.

ann-margret.jpgAnn-Margret

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Jamie Lee Curtis Signed for CBS Drama Pilot

Jamie Lee Curtis has been signed for a drama pilot on CBS, reports our friend Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

The pilot is an untitled project from David Marshall Grant.

The story reports: "The soapy medical show, based on an Israeli format, revolves around quadruplets -- three brothers and a sister -- who grew up on a reality show. Curtis will play their mother, Caroline, a dynamic and distinguished physician who now runs the hospital. This marks Curtis’ first series regular role since 1989′s 'Anything But Love.'"

Curtis has also appeared on CBS's "NCIS."

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NBC's Olympics Go Out With a Whimper: Closing Night Is Way Down From Vancouver's Numbers

NBC's final night of the Winter Olympic Games from Sochi, Russia, closed out what has been a ratings juggernaut for the network with somewhat less-than-juggernaut numbers, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the closing ceremony delivered a 3.3 rating in adults 18-49 from 8:30-10:30 p.m. Sunday -- well below the 5.5 turned in by the Vancouver Winter Games in 2010. The 90 minutes of prime-time Winter Olympics coverage leading up to the ceremony pulled a 2.6, and leading out from the closing ceremony, NBC's preview episode of its new show "Growing Up Fisher" dipped to a 2.0.

The NBC lineup was still easily strong enough to top the broadcast competition in Sunday night prime, with an especially strong advantage in total viewers. NBC's average of 13.5 million total viewers was more than twice the average of its closest competitor.

Second-place Fox appeared to benefit from a six-hour rain delay for the Daytona 500 NASCAR race, which pushed stock car racing's premier event into prime time. The network's race coverage from 8-11 p.m. averaged a 2.5 rating in viewers 18-49 -- the best number for non-Olympics programming among the broadcasters.

Third-place ABC saw its two-hour "The Proposal" bring home a 1.5 in the 18-49 demo, with the rest of the network's prime-time lineup filled out by repeat programs.

CBS rolled out the premiere of "The Amazing Race: All-Stars," which earned a 1.6 average in 18-49 -- the lowest rating ever for a season premiere of the show. A fresh installment of "60 Minutes" opened prime time with a 1.2 average.

CBS wrapped up Sunday prime with two hours of repeats, to notably low numbers: a 0.6 in viewers 18-49 for "The Mentalist," and a 0.4 for "The Good Wife."

Numbers for prime time overall show NBC comfortably in front with a 2.9 in adults 18-49, ahead of Fox (2.0), ABC (1.3), Univision (1.2) and CBS (1.0). NBC had a big lead in total viewers, averaging 13.5 million to top Fox (6.3 million), CBS (5.5 million), ABC (5.1 million) and Univision (2.9 million).

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One of the Most Familiar Advertising Slogans of All Time Is Going Away -- and We Know What Will Replace It; Brace Yourself -- Here's the Video

An advertising slogan that we KNOW you've heard -- maybe a few thousand times -- is about to go away after a historic run of more than two decades.

The slogan is the dairy industry's "Got milk?"

Time magazine reports: "The simple question that spawned countless parodies and milk mustaches is being sidelined. Now it’s time for consumers to 'Milk Life.'”

The story reports: "The Milk Processor Education Program, the marketing arm for milk processors nationwide, is shelving the popular tagline in favor of a new ad campaign that casts milk as a key ingredient to an active lifestyle. In the first video for the newly launched campaign, people use milk to help them play basketball and rock out in a garage band. It could easily be mistaken for a Gatorade commercial rather than one for a dairy product."

Julia Kadison, interim CEO of MilkPEP, said: “Milk is in most refrigerators, but what would get [people] to actually pull it out and use it more often is this understanding of milk’s nutrients, and especially protein."

Kadison adds that the new slogan has a double meaning: “Milking life is about getting every last drop out of your day," she said. "Having a milk life is a way of living where milk can empower you to do your best.”

Time adds: "The new campaign will have big shoes to fill as a followup to one of the most recognizable taglines ever. The 'Got milk?' slogan originated in 1993 as a rebranding effort for the California Milk Processor Board. The company’s ad agency, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, wasn’t sure at the time what to do with what one executive called 'the most boring project imaginable.'

"That comment sparked the idea for the slogan and the initial batch of ads. The first commercial famously featured a man with a mouthful of peanut butter screaming 'Aaron Burr' during a radio call-in show and desperately lunging for a carton of milk. After the initial ads were a hit in California, MilkPEP licensed the phrase and launched the popular celebrity posters featuring the slogan in the mid-’90s. Eventually about 300 stars would don the iconic milk mustache in ads that filled magazines and school cafeterias."

Here's the 30-second video introducing the new "Milk Life" anthem:

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Big Finish in the Ratings for PBS's 'Downton Abbey'

Even on a night when it was up against the final night of the Olympics on NBC -- not to mention Sunday night ratings powerhouse "The Walking Dead" on AMC -- PBS's "Downton Abbey" wrapped up its fourth season Sunday night by delivering its best-ever numbers for a season finale.

Deadline.com reports: "An average of 8.5 million viewers tuned in for 'Downton Abbey‘s' fourth season finale last night. That’s a personal finale best for the period drama on PBS. The Season 3 finale drew 8.2 million viewers on February 17 last year, a 50% surge from the Season 2 ender in 2012."

The number didn't match the turnout for the fourth-season opener Jan. 5, when 10.2 million people tuned in, the piece notes. But even before the high-rated fourth season, "Downton Abbey" had established itself as the highest-rated drama in PBS history.

Sunday's "Walking Dead" on AMC reportedly drew 13.1 million total viewers, while the Olympics Closing Ceremony averaged 15.3 million.

Season five of "Downton Abbey" is set to premiere next January.

The Deadline.com report adds: "Earlier this month, 'Downton' celebrated its third consecutive year as The Show That Did The Best Against The Super Bowl. An estimated 111.5 million viewers watched the Seattle Seahawks pulverize the Denver Broncos on Fox that Sunday, and 6.8 million viewers opted instead to watch PBS’s period drama -- up 3% compared to previous year’s 6.6 million Super Bowl Sunday broadcast of 'Downton.'"

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Actor From CBS Series Takes Lead in NBC Drama

One of the stars of a CBS drama series will play the lead role in a new NBC drama. Deadline.com reports that the NBC project "Constantine" cast Matt Ryan from CBS's “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior” in the title role for the pilot.

The project is based on characters from DC Comics’ John Constantine stories. Ryan will play Constantine, a con man who becomes a supernatural detective.

“John Constantine is described as a working-class Londoner with rakish good looks, scruffy blond hair, deadpan humor, and signature trench coat, who has been studying the dark arts since he was a teenager,” the story notes.

The project is from Warner Bros. TV, with “The Mentalist” executive producer Daniel Cerone writing with David S. Goyer, whom the story describes as “the go-to writer for Warner Bros.’ feature DC adaptations.”

Ryan starred along with Forest Whitaker and Janeane Garofalo in the "Criminal Minds" spinoff "Suspect Behavior," which lasted just one 13-episode season on CBS in 2011.

Matt ryan.pngMatt Ryan

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Judge Judy Announces Exec Producer of Her New Court Show

Judy Sheindlin -- TV's "Judge Judy" -- has announced the executive producer for her upcoming syndicated court show from CBS Television Distribution. B&C reports that Maureen FitzPatrick, executive VP of programming and development for CTD, will exec produce "Hot Bench."

In a statement, Sheindlin, the new show's creator, said: “I am thrilled that 'Hot Bench' will now have the extraordinary talent of Maureen FitzPatrick. One only needs to read her resume and meet her for an hour to know that she is the real deal.”

"Judge Judy" exec producer Randy Douthit will also be on board as an executive producer for "Hot Bench."

Said Douthit: “We’ve worked with Maureen on this exciting new show since the beginning, and we could not be happier to have her join the 'Hot Bench' team."

B&C adds: "FitzPatrick joined CTD in 2012 as senior VP of programming and development, and was promoted to CTD’s executive VP in 2013. In that position, FitzPatrick developed new first-run programs and oversaw current shows, including 'Entertainment Tonight,' 'Judge Judy' and 'The Arsenio Hall Show.' Her transition comes after the arrival of Hilary Estey McLoughlin, who was named CTD’s president of creative affairs last October."

The show has been cleared in more than 75% of the nation and is set to bow this fall.

Maureen FitzPatrick.jpgMaureen FitzPatrick

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Video: HBO Rolls Out Trailer for New Comedy Series

Here's the trailer HBO just released for a new comedy series the pay-cable channel will premiere in a little more than a month. The show is "Silicon Valley," which bows April 6. Check it out:

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Harold Ramis -- Best Known as a Star of 'Ghostbusters' -- Dies at 69. He Also Wrote or Co-Wrote a Number of Modern Comedy Classics, Including 'Groundhog Day' and 'Animal House'

Harold Ramis, best known for starring with Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd in the 1984 megahit "Ghostbusters," died early today at age 69.

"Ramis, a longtime North Shore [Chicago] resident, was surrounded by family when he died at 12:53 a.m. from complications of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare disease that involves swelling of the blood vessels, his wife Erica Mann Ramis said," reports the Chicago Tribune.

As a writer or director, Ramis was involved in a number of modern comedies, the Tribune notes, including " 'National Lampoon's Animal House' (which upon its 1978 release catapulted the film career of John Belushi, with whom Ramis acted at Second City), 'Stripes' (1981) and 'Ghostbusters' (in which Ramis also co-starred) plus ... 'Caddyshack' (1980), 'National Lampoon's Vacation' (1983), 'Groundhog Day' and 'Analyze This.' "

Variety said in its obituary, "A veteran of the seminal comedy entities Second City and National Lampoon, Ramis’ remarkable run of canonical hits in the 1980s helped introduce anarchic sketch comedy techniques into mainstream film and proved an incalculable influence on a generation of comedy auteurs. Equally comfortable behind the camera and in front of it, Ramis’ work ranged from charmingly vulgar Rodney Dangerfield vehicles to the blockbuster sci-fi spectacle 'Ghostbusters' and the genuine, unpretentious existential profundity of 'Groundhog Day.'

The Variety story continues, "Born in Chicago, Ramis studied at Washington U. in St. Louis and joined Second City in 1969, where he would go on to work and perform with frequent collaborators Bill Murray and John Belushi. After stints as a substitute teacher, a freelance journalist and a writer at Playboy, Ramis joined the writing staff of 'The National Lampoon Radio Hour' in the mid-1970s, and later became head writer of Second City’s groundbreaking Canadian sketch comedy skein, 'SCTV.'

"Ramis’ first produced feature screenplay (co-written with Chris Miller and Douglas Kenney) was the 1978 John Landis-directed 'National Lampoon’s Animal House,' which launched Belushi’s film career. The second-highest-grossing film of the year, 'Animal House' marked the beginning of a remarkable winning streak for multihyphenate Ramis, who would go on to be involved with an almost dizzying number of hit comedies over the next several years."

In a separate Variety story, Judd Apatow said, “Harold Ramis made almost every movie which made me want to become a comedy director. 'Animal House,' 'Stripes,' 'Ghostbusters,' 'Vacation,' 'Groundhog Day.' These films are the touchstones of our lives. I interviewed him when I was 16 years old for my high school radio station and he could not have been more gracious and hilarious. I looked up to him as a director but even more so as a man. We hired him to play Seth’s father in 'Knocked Up' because we all saw him as the dream dad -- funny, warm and wise. Harold was one of the nicest people I have ever met and he inspired countless people to go into comedy. His brilliant work will make people happy forever.”

harold ramis-ghostbusters.jpgHarold Ramis in "Ghostbusters"

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NBC Bringing Back Popular Drama Series After a Few Years Off the Air

NBC is reviving one of its most popular drama series of recent years. Deadline.com reports that the network has a new installment of “Heroes” in the works, which NBC will air as an event miniseries.

The original "Heroes" wrapped in 2010 after a four-season run on NBC. Creator Tim Kring will oversee the new 13-episode miniseries, which will be called “Heroes: Reborn” and is set to air in 2015.

The new production will be built around new characters, but NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke is quoted in the story saying, "We won’t rule out the possibility of some of the show’s original cast members popping back in."

The original cast included Hayden Panettiere, Zachary Quinto, Greg Grunberg and Ali Larter. The new characters and story lines for the event miniseries will be introduced to viewers via a digital series before the TV show airs.

The piece notes: “‘Heroes’ epitomizes the pitfalls of heavily serialized drama series. It launched in 2006 with a very strong first-season arc, becoming a critical darling as well as an instant pop culture phenomenon that coined the famous tagline ‘Save the Cheerleader Save the World.’ But it then struggled to maintain the momentum and reinvent itself, ending its run after four seasons. Nevertheless, ‘Heroes’ quickly earned a cult status, with fans still passionate about it and rallying to bring it back.”

tim kring-heroes.jpgTim Kring

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'Dancing with the Stars' Regular Dropped, Replaced With Fox Personality

One of the regulars on the ABC competition series “Dancing with the Stars” is off the show, with a personality from the Fox cable world set to take her place.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the dancing competition has named Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews as its new co-host, with Andrews set to replace Brooke Burke-Charvet. After co-hosting seasons 10 through 17 -- and after winning season seven of "Dancing with the Stars" -- Burke-Charvet has been dropped from the program, the report notes.

Andrews will continue working at Fox Sports, which she rejoined in 2012 after spending eight years at ESPN. She was also a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars” in its 10th season, which aired in 2010.

In a statement, executive producer Conrad Green said Burke-Charvet "has been a wonderful part of the ‘Dancing with the Stars’ family since her triumphant win in season seven and will unquestionably be missed by our entire team. We’d like to thank Brooke for her years of great service.”

ABC declined to comment on Andrews’ hiring, the story notes.

The show will return March 17.

erin andrews 2.JPGErin Andrews

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Star of 'Avatar' Arrested

An actor who starred in the 2009 sci-fi action film "Avatar" was arrested over the weekend in New York. ABC News reports that Sam Worthington, who played the lead role of Jake Sully in the film, was arrested Sunday and charged with assault following an encounter with a photographer.

"The Australian actor, 37, received a desk appearance ticket for alleged assault after his dispute with a paparazzo in Greenwich Village, according to ABC News station WABC-TV," the story reports. "He is due back in court Wednesday for arraignment, the Associated Press reported."

The ABC News report adds: "Photographer Sheng Li, 37, was following Worthington's girlfriend, Lara Bingle, 26, and then allegedly kicked the woman in the shin, according to police. Worthington responded by allegedly punching the photographer in the face, police said. No one was seriously injured."

The photographer was reportedly charged with assault, reckless endangerment and harassment in connection with the incident.

sam worthington.jpgSam Worthington

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Are You an 'Alpha Boomer'? The Graying of the TV Audience -- and What the Networks Are Doing About It

The broadcast networks are starting to respond to a demographic change, given that the median age of a broadcast TV viewer is now 54, the highest it’s ever been, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker.

Two decades ago, the median age was 41. “The most-watched scripted series in the 1993-94 season was ‘Home Improvement,’ with a median viewer age of 34. Today, it's ‘NCIS,’ with a median viewer who is 61,” the piece reports.

In response, networks are developing shows to appeal to older viewers. NBC is working on a new family comedy with Bill Cosby, who is 76. ABC is developing a show about basketball-playing friends who are in their 60s.

The CBS show "The Millers" has a cast that includes 72-year-old Beau Bridges and 62-year-old Margo Martindale, the report notes, while NBC's "The Blacklist" centers on James Spader, who's not exactly a sprout at 54.

The piece reports: “Confronted with these realities, the networks are aggressively making the case to advertisers that older viewers are valuable -- especially the affluent and influential 55-to-64-year-olds they're calling ‘alpha boomers.’ The 50-and-up crowd of today, they contend, is far different than the frugal and brand-loyal group that came of age during the Great Depression and World War II.”

By 2017, consumers 40 and over are expected to control about 70% of the country’s disposable income, the story notes.

Thumbnail image for bill-cosby.jpgBill Cosby

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It Was Likely the Most Well-Known Phone Greeting of the Past Two Decades: 'Hel-lo! And Welcome to Moviefone!' Is Ending

"Mr. Moviefone is hanging up," blares a sad headline from The New York Times.

The story says, "For 25 years, residents of America’s biggest cities have been able to call 777-FILM to receive movie listing information and buy tickets. The service’s goofily booming greeting became a cultural catchphrase: 'Hello, and welcome to Moviefone!'"

The story continues, saying that if you call Moviefone today you get a new recording: " 'The 777-FILM numbers will no longer be in service in the near future,' intones a man with a voice decidedly scrawnier in timbre than Mr. Moviefone’s. 'To buy tickets and for all of your showtime information please download the free Moviefone app on your smartphone or iPad.' Russ Leatherman, a founder of Moviefone who provided the famous greeting, left the company last November."

The article adds that the Moviefone phone service "will be disconnected in about a month, before a planned reintroduction of the Moviefone brand by AOL and BermanBraun, a web and television company."

In a classic bit, the sitcom "Seinfeld" once parodied Moviefone:

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Chelsea Handler Goes After New York Times Writer

A well-known New York Times media writer is under fire from late-night TV personality Chelsea Handler. TheWrap.com reports that E! host Handler went after The Times' Bill Carter over an article that referenced her in a parenthetical aside, which she called out as showing gender bias.

In an op-ed piece in The Huffington Post, Handler wrote, “Until now, I have dismissed the assumption that my experience in late night TV is somehow different or exceptional because of my gender. To me, it's never been about being a woman in a man's world; it's been about delivering a consistently funny and entertaining show each night.”

She noted she was referenced in a piece in The New York Times by Carter, called “Bullish on Boyish,” which was about Jimmy Fallon taking over NBC's “Tonight Show.”

“Understanding all of that, I obviously didn't expect or want to be a focal point of the piece,” she wrote. “What bothered me was that when I was listed in a paragraph with the late-night hosts, I was the only name put in parentheses. Mr. Carter wrote, ‘(The only female host in late-night is Chelsea Handler, 38, on E!).’”

Handler wrote that she looked up the definition of parenthetical, and found that it means “incidental, subordinate in significance, minor or casual.”

She continues: “The particular paragraph I was mentioned in was about the competition Jimmy faces for younger viewers. Depending upon whose research you look at, I share the distinction of having the youngest average viewership with Colbert, ‘The Daily Show’ and Conan. So from a purely statistical standpoint how, in this paragraph, could I only be mentioned as an aside? Was it because I'm a woman?"

Handler adds: “And just as I don't want to be inconsequential in any late-night discourse, I also don't want to be singled-out and lauded merely because I am successful ‘for a woman.' This isn't about Bill Carter. This is about being noted as a parenthetical, reaffirming what I feel has been an underlying, yet consistent inconsistency with how I am handled as the only woman in a traditionally male field.”

Carter told TheWrap that he didn’t intend to include a comprehensive list of competitors in his article.

"I suggested the sentence about Chelsea and it was an editing decision to put it in parenthesis,” he said. “I also heard from people for Craig Ferguson and Arsenio who had much better gripes because they got left out altogether and obviously they deserve as much recognition as any of the others. But it was sort of a function of after-the-fact adjustments in the text because of the layout. No slights were intended toward any of these talented people.”

chelsea handler.jpgChelsea Handler

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One of the Most Famous Wrestlers of All Time Will Re-Enter the Ring

One of the biggest stars in the history of professional wrestling is set to return to the ring. The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that WWE star Hulk Hogan will be back in the spotlight tonight, Feb. 24, after a seven-year absence.

Hogan will appear on “Raw” on the USA Network and on “WWE Raw Backstage Pass” on the WWE Network, the story says. Today marks the debut of the WWE Network, a streaming video service, the report notes.

While his role on tonight's programming is unclear, Hogan is set to return April 6 to host “WrestleMania 30.”

The piece notes, “The man who gave the world ‘Hulkamania’ in the 1980s hasn't been part of a televised WWE event since 2007, when he appeared on the 15th anniversary of ‘Monday Night Raw.’”

It adds, “While the 60-year-old semi-retired pro wrestler is billed only as host of the event, anyone want to guess if some outrageousness will transpire and the elder statesman of wrestling will be forced to jump in the ring?”

Hogan was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005, and is also a six-time WWE Champion.

hulk-hogan.jpgHulk Hogan

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Netflix Strikes a Deal With Comcast -- and It May Be Good News for Consumers

Netflix has struck a new agreement with cable giant Comcast, according to Bloomberg, which reports that the aim of the deal is to ensure speed and reliability for the Netflix streaming service.

The companies agreed on a multiyear accord that was announced in a statement, although it didn’t disclose the terms.

“Faced with complaints about quality and speed, Netflix agreed to pay Comcast millions of dollars annually to deliver its content more efficiently," the story reports, citing a source who's familiar with the matter. The source asked not to be identified because the terms of the deal are private.

Other companies, including Google, already pay Comcast to ensure access to content delivery. “The agreement is a surprise because Netflix could have used the issue as leverage while Comcast attempts to acquire Time Warner Cable Inc.,” the piece notes.

“I would have thought Netflix would have held out with the Time Warner Cable deal looming,” Craig Moffett, founder of research firm MoffettNathanson LLC, said in an interview. “Netflix can ask for whatever it wants and has a reasonable shot at getting conditions put on the merger that could provide it with long-term benefit. On the other hand, that could be precisely what spurred this deal -- that Comcast was willing to settle with Netflix for a relatively low price to make the Netflix problem go away ahead of the regulatory review.”

Netflix declined to comment beyond the statement, the story says.

The report adds: “Because so much traffic occurs during prime-time viewing hours, some Netflix users reported seeing grainy or jittery video. By connecting Netflix content directly to Comcast’s network, the new delivery method removes a middle layer, speeding the video to the end-user.”

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'American Idol' Judge to Star in NBC Drama Series

One of the judges on the Fox singing competition "American Idol" is set to star in a drama series on NBC. Deadline.com reports that NBC gave a straight-to-series 13-episode order for “Shades of Blue,” an FBI drama that will star Jennifer Lopez.

The project will be executive produced by Lopez along with her “American Idol” co-star Ryan Seacrest, and is written by Adi Hasak of “From Paris With Love.” The project is slated for the 2015-16 season, with production starting in 2015.

“‘Shades of Blue’ is a complex police series that centers on Harlee McCord (Lopez), a single mother and detective recruited to work undercover for the FBI’s anti-corruption task force,” the story reports. “Part of a close-knit unit known for its conviction record, Harlee has become compromised by her colleagues -- all of whom also pitch in to help her raise her daughter -- and finds herself faced with the moral dilemma of working against her cop brothers in order to redeem herself."

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for jennifer-lopez.jpgJennifer Lopez

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The Last Surviving Sibling of the Family Portrayed in 'The Sound of Music' Has Died

The last living sibling of the seven brothers and sisters who were portrayed in the musical and film “The Sound of Music,” Maria Franziska von Trapp, has died, reports The New York Times. She was 99.

She died Tuesday at her home in Stowe, Vermont, with her death confirmed by her half-brother, Johannes von Trapp.

Maria von Trapp, the third-oldest child of Baron Georg von Trapp, was the reason the family hired a governess -- also called Maria -- as she had become too ill to walk to school after contracting scarlet fever.

The 1965 film was based on the real story of the governess’ arrival at their house. The baron, whose first wife had died, fell in love with the governess, and the family created a singing group that later fled Nazi-occupied Austria.

In the film, Maria von Trapp was called Louisa and portrayed by Heather Menzies. The score was written by Rodgers and Hammerstein.

The real von Trapp family eventually settled in Stowe, where they created an inn called the Trapp Family Lodge.

The report notes: “The younger Ms. von Trapp [Maria] told Reuters in 2008 that she and her siblings were shocked that the movie portrayed their father as strict and obsessed with discipline. He was ‘so completely different,’ she said, and ‘always looked after us a lot, especially after our mother died.’”

maria von trapp.pngMaria von Trapp

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Emmy Winner From '30 Rock' Signs With Universal

A TV writer and producer who won two Emmy Awards for his work on NBC's "30 Rock" has signed a new two-year overall deal with Universal Television. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Universal's pact with Matt Hubbard will have him developing and supervising new projects for the studio.

Hubbard will also executive produce Fox’s Universal Television comedy “Cabot College,” which is from Tina Fey and Robert Carlock of “30 Rock,” the story notes. The comedy is about a women’s college that accepts men for the first time.

“Matt is a funny, smart writer with the ability to write hard jokes and great story,” Universal Television Executive Vice President Bela Bajaria said.

Hubbard is currently working as a consulting producer on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation."

Along with a string of Emmy nominations during his seven seasons on "30 Rock," Hubbard won two Primetime Emmys in 2009, sharing in the show's trophy for outstanding comedy series and winning outstanding writing for a comedy series for the episode "Reunion."

matt hubbard.pngMatt Hubbard

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Alec Baldwin Says He's Quitting Public Life, Primarily Because People Think He's a Homophobe, Which He Says He's Not

"In a long piece that appeared under his byline Sunday night, [Feb. 23, 2014] on New York Magazine's Vulture blog, [actor Alec] Baldwin, 55, writes that being labeled a 'homophobic bigot' in the media after an altercation with a paparazzo in November 2013 was the last straw for him as a celebrity," reports USA Today..

The report in USA Today continues, " 'I loathe and despise the media in a way I did not think possible,' Baldwin writes. 'This is the last time I'm going to talk about my personal life in an American publication ever again.' "

In the Vulture piece, titled "Alec Baldwin: Good-bye, Public Life," the actor says, "Am I a homophobe? Look, I work in show business. I am awash in gay people, as colleagues and as friends. I’m doing Rock of Ages one day, making out with Russell Brand. Soon after that, I’m advocating with Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Cynthia Nixon for marriage equality. I’m officiating at a gay friend’s wedding. I’m not a homophobic person at all. But this is how the world now sees me. I haven’t changed, but public life has."

Writing about the November incident, in which TMZ reported that Baldwin used the word "faggot," Baldwin says, "I'm sorry, I can’t let go of this—do people really, really believe that, when I shouted at that guy, I called him a 'faggot' on-camera? Do you honestly believe I would give someone like TMZ’s Harvey Levin, of all people, another club to beat me with?

"What happened is, a TMZ videographer ambushed me as I was putting my family in a car, and I chased him down the block and said, 'Cocksucking motherfucker' or whatever (when I have some volatile interaction with these people, I don’t pull out a pen and take notes on what I said). I knew that guy. This was a guy who is on a bike usually, and when we get in a car, he follows us. Very aggressive. The same guy who followed my wife on a bicycle, and when she slipped and fell trying to dodge him and hurt her leg, he laughed at her and said, 'See what I made you do?' At my wife. How would that make you feel?"

Baldwin later adds, "Warren Beatty, who is mystifyingly intelligent and wise, said to me: Your problem is a very basic one, and it’s very common to actors. And that’s when we step in front of a camera, we feel the need to make it into a moment. This instinct, even unconsciously, is to make the exchange in front of the camera a dramatic one. Perhaps I fell for that."

Writes USA Today, "Other revelations in [Baldwin's] 5,000-word essay:

"He's ready to move out of New York City, which he's called home since 1979. 'I just can't live in New York anymore,' he writes. 'Everything I hated about L.A. I'm beginning to crave. L.A. is a place where you live behind a gate, you get in a car, your interaction with the public is minimal. I used to hate that. But New York has changed.'

"He's angry at MSNBC, which refused to go forward with his planned talk show after the run-in with the photographer. 'If MSNBC went off the air tomorrow, what difference would it make? ... MSNBC, in its own way, is as ... redundant and as superfluous, as Fox.'

"Baldwin also writes about his thwarted political ambitions: 'I had dreams of running for office at some point in the next five years.' "

In his piece Baldwin also goes after Shia LaBeouf, Tony Award-winnng director Daniel J. Sullivan, Anderson Cooper, Joe Scarborough, MSNBC producer Jonathan Larsen and MSNBC President Phil Griffin, among others. At one point in the essay Baldwin writes, "I think Rachel Maddow is quite good at what she does. I also think she’s a phony who doesn’t have the same passion for the truth off-camera that she seems to have on the air."

Near the end of the essay Baldwin says, "It’s good-bye to public life in the way that you try to communicate with an audience playfully like we’re friends ..."

"There’s a way I could have done things differently. I know that. If I offended anyone along the way, I do apologize. But the solution for me now is: I’ve lived this for 30 years, I’m done with it. And, admittedly, this is how I feel in February of 2014."

alec baldwin.jpgAlec Baldwin


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CNN Cancels 'Piers Morgan Live'

CNN has announced it is canceling the ratings-challenged "Piers Morgan Live."

" 'CNN confirms that "Piers Morgan Live" is ending,' the network said in a statement,' reports the CNN Money website, adding, "The date of the final program is still to be determined."

The show could be gone as soon as next month, Morgan told The New York Times in a piece written by media columnist David Carr, who broke the story of the show's cancellation.

piers morgan.pngPiers Morgan

" 'It’s been a painful period and lately we have taken a bath in the ratings,' [Morgan told the Times], adding that although there had been times when the show connected in terms of audience, slow news days were problematic. 'Look, I am a British guy debating American cultural issues, including guns, which has been very polarizing, and there is no doubt that there are many in the audience who are tired of me banging on about it,' he said. 'That’s run its course and [CNN President Jeff Zucker] and I have been talking for some time about different ways of using me.' "

Writes Politico media blogger Dylan Byers, "Zucker took the helm at CNN at the beginning of 2013 and has since brought incremental change to the network, including revitalized news programs and a new emphasis on films and documentary shows. Prime time remains the one area where Zucker has yet to implement substantive change, a new 10 p.m. roundtable program with Anderson Cooper notwithstanding.

"In October, Zucker hired 'Nightline' anchor Bill Weir from ABC News, raising speculation that Weir might replace Morgan in the nine o'clock hour. CNN sources denied those reports at the time."

Byers also notes, "Morgan's ratings, though never strong, hit all-time lows in recent weeks. Tuesday night's 50,000 viewers in the 25-to-54 demo were the second-lowest of his entire three-year tenure. On most nights in recent weeks he's brought in just one-third as many total viewers as MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and one-sixth as many as Fox News' Megyn Kelly."

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'Idol' Sinks to Historic Ratings Low

Going up against NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia, Fox's "American Idol" saw its ratings plunge Thursday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "Idol" managed only a 2.4 average rating in viewers 18-49 -- an all-time low for the show, which lost 20% of its audience from a week ago. Leading out from "Idol," Fox's "Rake" settled for a 1.0, off 9% from last week.

NBC continued to rack up big numbers for the Olympics, even though its 4.9 average in 18-49 from 8-11 p.m. was down 17% from the comparable night of the Vancouver Olympics four years ago.

CBS went with a lineup of all repeats, while ABC put up the two-hour finale of "The Taste," which equaled its number from last week in the 18-49 demo with a 0.9 average.

For prime time overall, NBC was again the runaway winner in adults 18-49, averaging a 4.9 rating to lead Univision and Fox (both with 1.7 averages), CBS (1.6) and ABC (0.8). NBC chalked up 19.9 million total viewers to distance itself from CBS (6.63 million), Fox (6.61 million), Univision (4.3 million) and ABC (3.0 million).

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You May Be in Good Company: Just How Many People Binge-Watched All of Netflix's 'House of Cards' Season Two on Its First Weekend?

A new report reveals the number of Netflix users who binge-watched the entire second season of the series "House of Cards" as soon as it was released by the streaming service.

"Two percent of Netflix’s 33.4 million U.S. subscribers -- or about 670,000 people -- binge-watched all 13 episodes of 'House of Cards' Season 2 during its first weekend, according to a report by Procera Networks, which solicits and analyses bandwidth usage data from multiple Internet service providers," TVLine.com reports.

Netflix itself isn't talking about its viewership numbers, as is its policy. Season two of "House of Cards" was rolled out on Friday, Feb. 14.

"Procera also reports that between 6 and 10 percent of Netflix’s U.S. subscribers watched at least one episode of 'House of Cards' -- marking a 400 percent increase over Season 1′s opening weekend -- while the average number of hours consumed was three," the report notes, adding: "In Europe, the average number of episodes binged was five, with 1 percent of subscribers consuming the whole season."

The series was renewed for season three even before season two debuted, the report notes.

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Fallon's 'Tonight Show' Not Slowing Down -- in Fact, the Ratings Picked Up Thursday Night

Jimmy Fallon's premiere week on NBC's "Tonight Show" has been a ratings home run, and NBC announced that Thursday's show was the best yet for any of his post-premiere-night installments.

"Thursday’s 'Tonight' averaged a 2.6 rating in adults 18-49 and 7.688 million viewers overall, according to fast-official 'live plus same day' ratings from Nielsen Media Research, as 'Tonight' continues to attract strong sampling through Fallon’s premiere week," NBC reported. "While ratings drop-offs are common through late-night premiere weeks, Fallon has generated growth through the last two nights in adults 18-49. Thursday’s 2.6 rating is up 8% versus the 2.4 for Wednesday night and up 13% versus the 2.3 for the night before that, making it the show’s highest rating since Monday’s 3.8."

Thursday night's show included two top A-List guests: First Lady Michelle Obama and comic actor Will Farrell. "SNL" vets Fallon and Farrell, along with Obama, all participated in a skit about a TV show called "Ew," pretending to be teenage girls.

Other than the Jay Leno finale on Feb. 6, the 7.688 million total viewers for the Feb. 20 broadcast represents “Tonight’s” biggest number in almost five years -- since President Obama appeared on the March 19, 2009, show and drew 14.634 million, NBC announced.

Bolstered by NBC's Olympics coverage, Fallon -- who has been starting at midnight following Olympics and local news -- has been dominating the late-night ratings, chalking up numbers that top those of rivals David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel combined.

"Despite its later start time, the Feb. 20 'Tonight Show' outperformed the combined results in total viewers of CBS’s 'Late Show with David Letterman' (2.689 million) and ABC’s 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' (2.412 million) by 51% (7.688 million vs. a combined 5.101 million)," NBC reported. "In adults 18-49, 'Tonight’s' 2.6 rating nearly doubled the combined results of 'Late Show' (0.7) and 'Kimmel' (0.7)."

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'ER' Star Joins CBS Drama Series

One of the stars of the long-running NBC series "ER" is joining the cast of a CBS drama series. TVGuide reports that “ER” alumna Sherry Stringfield will join “Under the Dome” for its second season.

Stringfield, who played Dr. Susan Lewis on the NBC drama, will portray a mysterious woman named Pauline who may be connected to the dome’s creation, the story says.

Stringfield will be a recurring guest star in multiple episodes of the second season, which will air starting June 30.

"I'm thrilled after all these years to be working again with Sherry Stringfield," executive producer Neal Baer said. "We had a blast on ‘ER’ together and I know Sherry will bring the same grace, spirit and intensity to her new, pivotal role on ‘Under the Dome.’”

sherry stringfield.jpgSherry Stringfield

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Cable Net Names New Senior VP

Travel Channel has named a veteran programmer as its senior vice president of programming and development. The channel announced today that Ross Babbit is stepping up to the post.

Babbit has "guided the creative and editorial direction at the network during the past few years, and has been influential in the brand’s evolution and growth," the channel said in its announcement.

Travel Channel President Shannon O’Neill said in a statement: “Travel Channel’s mission is to deliver programming that embraces and celebrates travel as a passionate lifestyle category. Ross has contributed to our success through winning shows that have increased the network’s audience of upscale, educated and highly valued viewers. With his expanded role, he’ll work with all the talented individuals at Travel Channel to grow our viewership through innovative formats and our team of engaging, expert hosts.”

The channel, which is in more than 94 million U.S. television households, is one of three fully distributed television networks owned by Scripps Networks Interactive, which also owns and operates HGTV, Food Network, DIY Network, Cooking Channel and Great American Country.

Babbit will be based at the network’s headquarters in Chevy Chase, Md., and will report to O’Neill.

The announcement also notes: "Andy Singer is stepping down after serving two years as general manager, helping to build a solid foundation for Travel Channel, and paving the way for some of the network’s most popular programs to date."

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Well-Known NBC News Anchor Dead at 74

An NBC News fixture who was the first television correspondent in Vietnam covering the war full time has died.

NBC News reports that Garrick Utley, a longtime substitute anchor on “NBC Nightly News” and a former moderator on “Meet the Press,” died Thursday after battling cancer. He was 74.

Utley joined NBC News in 1963, and was assigned to the network’s Saigon bureau the following year, Robert Feder reports on his blog.

“He went on to report from more than 70 countries, winning numerous honors including an Edward R. Murrow Award and George Foster Peabody Award,” Feder writes.

Following three decades at NBC News, he joined ABC News as a foreign correspondent, and then later moved to CNN. While at CNN, he co-anchored coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Feder notes.

Feder's report adds: “His work for public broadcasting included hosting ‘America Abroad,’ a documentary series for Public Radio International, and ‘Live From the Met’ opera broadcasts for PBS.”

During his long tenure at NBC News, Utley was a weekend anchor for much of the 1970s and a frequent substitute for regulars on "NBC Nightly News" including John Chancellor in the 1970s and Tom Brokaw in the 1980s. He continued his weekend anchor duties for NBC into the 1990s.

garrick utley.pngGarrick Utley

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'Modern Family' Actress Allegedly Assaulted at Publicity Event

An actress on ABC's popular comedy series "Modern Family" was reportedly groped by a man an event promoting the show in Sydney, Australia. E! Online reports that Sarah Hyland, who plays Haley on the sitcom, made an abrupt exit from the event after the man grabbed her breast while posing for a photo with Hyland.

"According to eyewitnesses, Hyland immediately pushed the man in question away and screamed, 'Don't touch me there!' before her security guards intervened," the story reports. "The NSW Police confirmed that a 29-year-old man was arrested in relation to the incident [Thursday]."

A police spokesperson told the publication: "It is alleged that the man indecently assaulted the 23-year-old woman at about 7:50 p.m."

The man was reportedly charged with assault with an act of indecency, according to a video posted by the New York Daily News.

The E! Online report adds: "The brunette actress took to Twitter to vent her frustrations saying, 'Sorry to all the fans outside the #quantas event that I didn't get to say hi to but I had to leave due to an inappropriate touch by a fan.'"

Hyland's boyfriend, Matt Prokop, also reportedly tweeted about the incident, writing: "To the a--hole who assaulted Sarah tonight I hope to God you don't see next week. All Sarah wanted to do tonight was say [hi] to he girls who were waiting outside one douche can ruin it for everyone. Goodnight."

Other "Modern Family" stars also taking part in the event, which was hosted by Qantas, reportedly included Ariel Winter, Sofía Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell and Eric Stonestreet.

sarah hyland.pngSarah Hyland

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'House of Cards' Producer Sends Threat to Governor of Maryland

The production company behind the acclaimed Netflix drama series "House of Cards" isn't exactly on the best terms with the governor of the state where the show has been filming, The Washington Post reports.

"A few weeks before Season 2 of 'House of Cards' debuted online [on Feb. 14], the show’s production company sent Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley a letter with this warning: Give us millions more dollars in tax credits, or we will 'break down our stage, sets and offices and set up in another state,'" the story reports.

The piece adds: "A similar letter went to the speaker of the House of Delegates, Michael E. Busch ... whose wife, Cynthia, briefly appeared in an episode of the Netflix series about an unscrupulous politician -- played by Kevin Spacey -- who manipulates, threatens and kills to achieve revenge and power."

The state of Maryland has shelled out more than $40 million in tax credits to movie and TV production companies in recent years, the piece reports, with most of it going to “House of Cards.”

Film tax credits appear to be under pressure in the state. At a hearing last week on the issue, state lawmaker Eric G. Luedtke -- a past supporter of the credits -- reportedly said of film credits: “This just keeps getting bigger and bigger. And my question is: When does it stop?”

The report notes that both of the first two seasons of “House of Cards” were filmed in Maryland.

"In addition to bringing a burst of buzz and excitement, the show created nearly 6,000 jobs and pumped more than $250 million into the state economy, economic development officials say," the story reports. "In May, O’Malley (D) visited the set to promote film tax credits, exulting that Maryland was becoming 'the premier destination in America for film production.'”

The Post report adds: "After each season, Maryland has reimbursed Media Rights Capital, the show’s California-based production company, for a chunk of production expenses. For the first season, that totaled more than $11 million in tax credits. For the second season, reimbursements could reach $15 million."

But plans by the state's economic development officials to promise the show another $15 million in credits for season three, which was due to begin filming in spring, appear to have hit a snag.

"Lawmakers have not agreed to boost the $7.5 million in tax credits the state allocates annually for film and television projects. Two bills that would increase the ceiling -- to $11 million or $18.5 million -- are in committee. House leaders say some increase is likely, but whether it will be enough to keep the show in town is unclear," The Post reports.

The letter from Media Rights Capital's Charlie Goldstein, a senior VP with the company, to Gov. O'Malley indicates that the company has pushed back the filming schedule for Season 3 to June and is waiting to see whether a sufficient hike in the credit is approved, the story reports.

The letter adds: “In the meantime I wanted you to be aware that we are required to look at other states in which to film on the off chance that the legislation does not pass, or does not cover the amount of tax credits for which we would qualify."

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$7 Million Lawsuit Filed Over Royalties for 'American Idol' Stars

The music company affiliated with “American Idol” producer 19 Entertainment is suing Sony Music for alleged unpaid royalties for the show’s stars, including Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, reports Deadline.com.

The breach of contract complaint from 19 Recordings is seeking compensatory damages of more than $7 million, pre- and post-judgment interest of “at least 3 million,” and legal and organizational costs, the story notes.

“It was very important to my clients to protect their artists, and we look forward to pursuing this,” attorney Richard Busch told the publication.

The lawsuit alleges that Sony failed to properly account and pay royalties, and also claims the music company wouldn’t allow 19 Recordings to conduct an audit.

“Despite 19′s best efforts, Sony has refused to correct its underpayments to 19 and has forced 19 to file the instant suit in order to recoup the amounts Sony has underpaid 19 as well as recover any additional damages such underpayments have caused 19,” the lawsuit claims.

carrie underwood.jpgCarrie Underwood

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Why the Emmy Categories Will Be Tweaked This Year

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has reversed a decision it made a few years ago and will implement a change in the Emmy Award categories this year. Variety reports that this year’s Emmys will include separate categories for movies and miniseries, after ATAS voted Thursday to retreat from the three-year-old category merger.

The story reports: “The board of governors’ vote approving the rules change was initiated after a petition from several constituencies within the TV industry, led by FX Network, home of the anthology series ‘American Horror Story,’ which is submitted as a miniseries; and 20th Century Fox Television, which produces that program.”

HBO, whose movies have been competing against miniseries since the categories were combined, also supported the petition, along with 30 network and studio executives, the story adds.

The piece notes, however, that even though “the programs will again be separate, awards for actors, writers and directors in the two genres will remain combined. As a consolation, however, the board also voted to expand the number of nominees from five to six, recognizing the breadth of quality work being done in the longform arena.”

One issue arising from the change is how the awards will be presented, given the desire to keep the ceremony manageable for its prime-time telecast. It’s likely that the two categories will rotate between the prime-time awards show and the Creative Arts presentation, which is scheduled eight days earlier, the story adds.

The change is happening because networks are once again producing limited or event series, especially after the success of miniseries such as “Hatfields & McCoys,” the piece notes.

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L.A. Public TV Station Presents Grim Financial Picture

KCET-TV, the independent public TV station in Los Angeles, has offered a grim financial report, but executives downplayed the losses and said that the company’s finances have improved since the report was prepared, the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports.

The company lost $12.5 million for the fiscal year ended June 30, the story reports. That came after losing $7.4 million in the prior fiscal year, the piece adds.

“To pay for basic expenses, the company was forced to borrow nearly $3 million from restricted funds earmarked for specific purposes, although it has since paid back that money,” the article reports.

The report adds: “Officials at KCET -- which left PBS amid acrimony in late 2010 and is the home of such fare as the newsmagazine 'SoCal Connected' -- says the Dec. 6 accountants' report makes the situation sound more dire than it is and that the company's finances have improved since then.”

A representative for the station said the financial report is a “snapshot of past performance and does not reflect our current financial health.” Through layoffs and other measures, the company has trimmed its expenses and balanced its budget, she added.

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Star of ABC's 'Don't Trust the B----' Lands Lead Role in Will Ferrell Astronaut Comedy at NBC

NBC’s astronaut comedy project from Will Ferrell has cast the star of the ABC sitcom “Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23” in the starring role. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Krysten Ritter will play Mary, the head engineer of the Apollo team at the NASA Manned Space Center, in "Mission Control."

With the program set in the early 1960s, Ritter's character is a fish out of water given the male-dominated field, the story notes. The project, which Ferrell is executive producing, has the tone of “Anchorman,” and examines what happens when a macho world and strong woman collide.

Ritter will also be credited as a producer, the story says. David Hornsby of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” will write the script and also executive produce.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for krysten-ritter.pngKrysten Ritter

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Another Series Focusing on the Amish Is Coming to TV

In case you can't get your fill of Amish-related programming with just shows such as "Amish Mafia" and "Breaking Amish" that have already made it to the air, one more Amish-focused reality show is on the way.

Deadline.com reports that TLC has picked up a spinoff of “Breaking Amish,” tentatively called “Return to Amish” which is set for a June debut.

The spinoff will feature the original cast of “Breaking Amish,” which debuted in 2012 and ranks as TLC’s highest-rated freshman series ever, the report notes.

“TLC has now ordered a new spinoff series that follows Abe, Rebecca, Sabrina, Jeremiah and Kate as they continue to acclimate to their new lives while still applying some Amish traditions to holidays and major life events,” the story reports.

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Emmy Nominee for 'Homeland' Joins ABC Drama

One of the stars of the Showtime drama "Homeland" -- who received an Emmy nomination for the role -- will be a part of a new drama project at ABC.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Morena Baccarin, an Emmy nominee for best supporting actress in 2013 for her portrayal of Jessica Brody on “Homeland,” has been cast in ABC’s medical drama “Warriors,” which is set at a hospital inspired by the Walter Reed Military Medical Center.

Baccarin will play Tory Sterling, a soldier and psychiatrist who returns to the medical center after a nine-month tour in Afghanistan and finds it difficult to talk about what happened to her there, the story says.

The actress was downgraded from her series regular role on “Homeland” in December, after her husband on the show was killed off, the story notes. Baccarin is returning to ABC, where she starred for two seasons in the network’s remake of “V,” a science-fiction drama.

morena baccarin 2.jpgMorena Baccarin

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Fantasy TV Movie Franchise May Become a Series

A fantasy TV movie franchise is under consideration to become a television series. TVLine.com reports that cable channel TNT is contemplating a project based on “The Librarian” and its sequels.

The three movies starred Noah Wyle, who would reprise his title role in the new project, the story reports.

Called “The Librarians,” the project would focus on four regular people who are picked by Wyle’s character Flynn to work for The Library, a fellowship of intellects and heroes, the story says. The four people would investigate and battle magic.

Wyle is in discussions to appear in the debut and make guest appearances in other episodes, the story notes. He’s currently starring in TNT’s “Falling Skies,” which will return in June.

The TV movie “The Librarian: Quest for the Spear” appeared on TNT in 2004, and was followed by two other movies in the franchise, "The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines," airing in 2006, and "The Librarian: curse of the Judas Chalice," in 2008.

Along with Wyle, all three TV movies in the series have starred Bob Newhart and Jane Curtin, with Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis appearing in the first two.

noah wyle.pngNoah Wyle

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AMC Seeks to Dismiss 'Walking Dead' Lawsuit

AMC has responded to Frank Darabont and CAA’s lawsuit over “The Walking Dead,” calling its claims baseless, reports Deadline.com.

As previously reported, Darabont and his agency alleged that AMC engaged in “self dealing” by low-balling the license fee, with the lawsuit also claiming that Darabont was wrongfully fired from the show.

“In a dry point-by-point 10-page retort filed [Thursday] in the Supreme Court of New York, AMC denied all of the plaintiffs’ claims and asked for the case to be dismissed,” the story reports.

A representative for the network told the publication, “We look forward to demonstrating through the legal process that this is a baseless lawsuit built on claims that have no merit.”

Thumbnail image for frank darabont.jpgFrank Darabont

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Fears Surface Over Potential Blackouts on Netflix and Other Streaming Services

With Internet service providers asking for more money for faster transmission, consumer advocates are worried about impending blackouts for streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, reports the New York Post.

“Regulators are setting the stage for such battles with new rules that will bar ISPs from indiscriminate or anti-competitive blocking of traffic while paving the way for them to demand fees for enhanced service,” the story notes.

If Netflix or other streaming services refuse to pay up, consumers could see blackouts similar to the breakdowns cable-television viewers suffer when content companies can’t reach agreements with pay-TV operators, the piece reports.

“That kind of thing is about to happen in the Internet,” Derek Turner, research director with Free Press, a policy and research group, told the publication. “Both sides will blame each other” as they fight over fees, he noted.

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Keith Olbermann Missing in Action on ESPN for the Same Reason Letterman Was Off the Air for About a Month in 2003

Keith Olbermann was not on ESPN yesterday and missed today, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, as well. The reason? He's got the same ailment that kept David Letterman off the air for close to a month in 2003, reports our good friend Lisa de Moraes, the TV columnist for Deadline.com

The story says that the reason for Olbermann's absence is shingles: "Olbermann took to Twitter today to assure them he’s not engaged in another death match with his employer -- he’s suffering from shingles, suggesting it was fate’s way of punishing him for falling out of the 25-54 demographic last week when he celebrated his 55th birthday. Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash and that is itself caused by the chickenpox virus that stays in the body for years. In 2003, CBS late-night star David Letterman was out for about a month with shingles."

The column adds: "ESPN responded to a question asking what is the plan while Keith Olbermann is out sick with a statement from Olbermann: 'I’m day to day. We’re all day to day.' We hear Quinn is filling in -- at least tonight."

If you want to read Olbermann's tweets about his condition, please click on the link above that goes to de Moraes' story.

keith olberman.bmpKeith Olbermann

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Who Is the Least-Loved Morning Show Personality? The Answer May Surprise You

The latest Q Scores are in on the most-liked and least-liked network morning show personalities, and the results contain a surprise or two, TheWrap.com reports.

Networks rely on Q Scores to gauge which television personalities are hitting it off with viewers, with the average Positive Q Score for a celebrity hovering at about 15, the report notes. The most-liked morning show personality is Robin Roberts of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” with a Positive Q Score of 29, the story reports.

But the least-liked morning personality may surprise some, given the focus that NBC’s Matt Lauer has drawn in the past year or so. While Lauer scores a low 7 on the Positive Q Score index, two morning personalities rank even lower than him, the story notes.

They are NBC’s Carson Daly, who earns a 6 Positive Q Score, and “Today” co-host Kathie Lee Gifford, who has the lowest of the bunch, with a 5 Positive Q Score, the piece reports.

Lauer’s score does represent a sharp decline from his earlier scores. He suffered after “Today” ousted co-host Ann Curry, with many viewers blaming him for her departure. Prior to Curry's ouster, Lauer scored in the mid-20s for Positive Q scores.

The report notes: "Robin Roberts, whose heroic cancer fight last year was a major focus of 'GMA,' has a Positive Q Score of 29 -- the best in the morning. No. 2 is her former colleague Sam Champion, who recently left 'GMA' for The Weather Channel. He has a 25 positivity score. Third on the list is another 'GMA'-er, Josh Elliott."

Other than people associated with "Good Morning America," the highest score went to “CBS This Morning” journalist Norah O’Donnell, with a 19. Al Roker and Willie Geist, who both scored 14, are the highest among the "Today" show group.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for kathie-lee-gifford.jpgKathie Lee Gifford

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Oops! Looks as Though There's a Serious Hitch That Will Prevent Charlie Sheen From Marrying Fiancee Brett 'Scottie' Rossi Anytime Soon -- And It's Got Nothing to Do With the Fact That She's a Former Porn Star

It looks as though there's a major hitch that will prevent Charlie Sheen from marrying his new fiancee, former porn queen Brett "Scottie" Rossi.

She's already married.

People magazine reports, "There's a bump in the wedding aisle for Charlie Sheen and his new fiancee Brett Rossi. The adult film actress still has a divorce to settle, Sheen's rep Jeff Ballard confirms to People exclusively."

The story adds: " 'Charlie and Scottie have no secrets,' Ballard says, referring to Rossi's nickname. 'Charlie is well aware of Scottie's situation.' "

The marriage would be Sheen's fourth.

brett rossi-charlie sheen.JPGBrett 'Scottie' Rossi and Charlie Sheen

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Another Cable Network Says It's Getting Into Scripted Series for the First Time, With Series to Feature One of the Stars of 'House'

Yet another cable network has announced it's getting into scripted series programming for the first time, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

Writes Andreeva, "Bravo Media is officially a scripted series player. The cable network has greenlighted its first original scripted series, the hourlong 'Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce' starring 'House' alumna Lisa Edelstein."

On "House" Edelstein played Dr. Lisa Cuddy.

The story continues, "The project, from writer-producer Marti Noxon and Universal Cable Prods., has received a 13-episode order for a 2015 premiere. Based on the best-selling 'Girlfriends’ Guide' books by Vicki Iovine, the series follows Abby (Edelstein), a self-help book author who hides the fact that she’s separated from her husband, as she starts to navigate her life as a single woman in her early 40s in Los Angeles."

Lisa edelstein.pngLisa Edelstein

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Reality Show Cast Demands Raises -- and Doesn't Get the Desired Response From the Network

The cast of a reality show wants more money from the network, but the network is playing hardball. TMZ.com reports that the hard-partying cast of “Party Down South” is putting the squeeze on CMT for a bump in pay, with CMT ready to show cast members the door if they fail to reach an agreement.

Cast members currently receive only $500 per episode, and they are asking for raises for the show's second season, the story reports.

“Sources close to the show tell us CMT had a conference call last Friday with the cast and their newly hired managers -- and one of the stars, Mattie Breaux, went off ... bitching about salaries, and a plan to shoot seasons 2 and 3 back-to-back,” the article notes.

The report adds: "We're told Mattie eventually hung up, but producers were unfazed -- and are now saying if Mattie wants to quit ... they won't stop her."

CMT is offering $1,000 for each cast member to shoot a reunion episode, and the parties are hoping new contracts are signed within the next week, the story adds.

mattie breaux.pngMattie Breaux

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Brian Williams Apologizes for Slight to One of the Players in Late-Night TV

After failing to include one of the key players in late-night during a feature on the changing late-night landscape, NBC's Brian Williams issued an apology on “NBC Nightly News,” reports Deadline.com’s Lisa de Moraes.

Williams apparently forgot about Arsenio Hall’s new show for a photo montage featuring late-night hosts, the report notes, and the oversight sparked criticism of the piece from Hall.

The trouble started when NBC News aired a piece Monday night about Jimmy Fallon’s debut, which included photos of late-night stars. In addition to Fallon, the montage included Chelsea Handler, Andy Cohen, Carson Daly, David Letterman, Craig Ferguson, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. It did not include Seth Meyers, whose debut on NBC's “Late Night” is set for next week.

"In a voice-over, Williams was heard talking about all the media types 'slugging it out for the turf Johnny Carson used to own,'" the report notes.

On his show on Tuesday night, Hall said he wanted Williams to know that he wasn’t happy about being left out and urged fans to call NBC News, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker. He even announced the phone number on-air.

Hall said during his show: “If you’re doing a story about late-night, all I ask is that you mention me. You don’t even have to use a photo. ... I know how journalism is these days -- use Samuel Jackson -- it doesn’t even have to be my photo. Use Laurence Fishburne. ... Just mention me.” Hall also made the point that he’s the only current late-night host “who competed and survived against Johnny Carson.”

Williams responded in his Wednesday night broadcast, saying: “Arsenio is a late-night veteran and he took us to task on his show. He even urged audience members to call our newsroom. He added, “So, in apologizing to Arsenio we just wanted to point out that at least you’re in good company here,” noting that NBC News once left the state of New Hampshire off a map.

Here's a clip of Hall's comments on his show Tuesday night, where Williams is not his only target:

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Ever Notice How Bad Closed Captioning Is? One Government Agency Is Doing Something About It

Noting that closed captions on television "are often riddled with typos or incomplete sentences that leave viewers struggling to make sense of what's being said," the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that a key government agency has set its sights on improving the situation.

The Federal Communications Commission is expected to adopt new rules aimed at improving the quality of closed captioning, the story reports.

The report cites as an example a recent weather forecast on WeatherNation that was transcribed as “five wins and a very light power reese know,” which was supposed to say, “high winds and a very light, powdery snow."

“The FCC will require that captions must match spoken words in dialogue and convey background noises and other sounds to the fullest extent possible, according to agency officials familiar with the order,” the story reports.

The report adds: “The order will also mandate that captions not block other content on the screen, overlap one another, run off the edge of the video screen or be blocked by other information.”

The story notes that the proposed changes "sat in limbo for a decade," until new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who has had the job for just a few months, started pushing to fast-track the regulations.

Thumbnail image for tom wheeler.pngTom Wheeler

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Broadcasters Score Court Victory Over Aereo

Broadcasters have scored their first legal victory over the online video service Aereo, according to The Wall Street Journal, which reports that the company was handed an injunction by a federal court in Utah.

The injunction bars Aereo from running its service in the U.S. Tenth Circuit’s region, which includes Utah, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and parts of Montana and Idaho, the story reports. The judge ruled that Aereo’s service is violating the copyrights of the broadcasters.

“The plain language of the 1976 Copyright Act supports the plaintiffs’ position,” the judge wrote in an order, according to the story. The order adds: “Aereo’s retransmission of plaintiffs’ copyrighted programs is indistinguishable from a cable company.”

Aereo founder and Chief Executive Chet Kanojia said the company was disappointed with the court’s decision.

“Consumers have a fundamental right to watch over-the-air broadcast television via an antenna and to record copies for their personal use,” Kanojia said in a statement. “We are very sorry for the effect on our valued customers in the Tenth Circuit and we will pursue all available remedies to restore their ability to use Aereo.”

The decision comes before the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the issue in April, the piece notes.

chet kanojia.pngChet Kanojia

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Safeway, the Nation's Second-Largest Supermarket Chain, Exploring the Sale of the Company. In California Alone It Owns About 500 Stores, Primarily Under the Names Safeway, Vons and Pavilions. It's Our Non-TV Story of the Day

"Safeway Inc. said Wednesday [Feb. 19, 2014] that it is in talks about potentially selling itself," reports the Los Angeles Times.

The story reports: "The Pleasanton, Calif., company, which operates the Safeway, Vons and Pavilions chains, said discussions were 'ongoing' and there was no guarantee they 'would lead to an agreement or completed transaction.'

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"Safeway also announced its fourth-quarter results Wednesday. In the three months that ended Dec. 28, the company reported a net profit of $100 million, or 35 cents a share. That's down sharply from $170.7 million, or 71 cents a share, from a year earlier. Sales rose slightly to $11.3 billion."

With a total of 1,335 stores in the U.S. Safeway, Inc. is the nation's second-largest grocer. About 500 of the company's stores are in California. Kroger, the nation's No. 1 owner of supermakets, owns 2,424 stores in the U.S., according to its website.

Besides the flagship Safeway stores (in 14 states plus Washington, D.C.), and the Vons and Pavilions markets in California, Safeway Inc. owns the following stores, according to Wikipedia: Carrs-Safeway (Alaska), Pak'n Save (California), Randalls (Texas) and Tom Thumb (Texas).

The Times story also reports: "Last year, the grocer decided to exit the Chicago market (Dominick's stores) and sell its Canadian operations. It raised $230 million through an initial public offering of its gift card provider, Blackhawk Network Holdings."

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CBS Veteran Steps Up as Company's New Entertainment Chairman

CBS Corp. announced today that it has named a veteran of the company as its new chairman of CBS Entertainment. Promoted to the position was Nina Tassler, who signed an agreement extending her arrangement with the company through 2017.

Making the announcement was CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves, to whom Tassler will continue to report.

In a statement, Moonves said: “Nina’s creative instincts, programming savvy and leadership skills have helped form a hit-making machine that has fueled the Network’s success and benefitted the Company’s bottom line. She’s been a friend and colleague for 25 years, and I’ve witnessed first-hand the genuine and positive energy, as well as hands-on skills, she brings to every facet of the creative process. There are very few executives with her track record of consistently achieving high-level success in all forms of entertainment programming.”

Tassler had been president of CBS Entertainment since 2004.

The company said in its announcement that in her expanded role, "Tassler will lead the Network’s Entertainment programming across prime time, daytime and late-night, as well as program development in all genres, including comedy, drama, reality, specials and long-form. She will direct a growing year-round programming portfolio that now includes a full slate of original series in the summer and a newly created limited series and live event program unit. Tassler will also oversee Entertainment division matters in advertising and promotion, business affairs, consumer products, digital/interactive, diversity, publicity, scheduling and research."

Please click here to read the full text of today's announcement from CBS Corp.

nina tassler-cbs approved.jpgNina Tassler

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How Dominant Has NBC Been With Its Olympics Coverage? It Just Made Ratings History

NBC was expected to chalk up some big ratings with its coverage of the Winter Olympic Games from Sochi, Russia, but the Peacock Network seems to be dominating its broadcast rivals even more than anticipated.

The network announced today that it scored its most dominant prime-time win for a regular-season week in People Meter history for the week of Feb. 10-16. And the network had something to crow about just about every night that week.

The telecast from Sochi on Monday, Feb. 10, set records for the most dominant Monday win in February in People Meter history.

Tuesday's coverage (Feb. 11) beat the comparable night of the Vancouver Games by 17% and the same night of the Torino Olympics by 29%.

Thursday's prime-time coverage was up 18% in total viewers from the previous European Winter Olympics, with 22.9 million viewers.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights the prime-time Olympics telecasts beat the combined totals for broadcast competitors ABC, CBS and Fox.

NBC also noted that it ranks No. 1 for the season in the key 18-49 demo, up 15% from a year ago, with a lead this late in the season for the first time in 10 years.

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

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Wednesday Ratings: NBC's Olympics Cool Off a Bit ... But Other Broadcast Nets Can't Compete

NBC's prime-time Winter Olympics coverage from Sochi, Russia, continued to steamroll its broadcast competition Wednesday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC coasted to another huge ratings win even as numbers for the Olympics slipped. Prime-time coverage delivered a 5.0 average rating from 8-11 p.m., down 9% from the equivalent night of the Vancouver Games four years ago and down 11% from a week ago.

The closest anything else on broadcast came was a 2.6 average for Fox's two-hour "American Idol" in viewers 18-49 -- with that number down a hefty 24% from last week and off 4% from Tuesday's performance episode.

CBS broke out a couple of fresh drama series episodes, with "Criminal Minds" settling for a 2.4 average in 18-49, down 14% from its previous original, and "CSI" managing another 2.0, the same as its previous original.

ABC's only fresh program was the finale of the Rebel Wilson sitcom "Super Fun Night," which went out with a series-low 0.9 in adults 18-49, losing 31% from last week.

For prime time overall, NBC's 5.0 average was tops in the 18-49 demo, followed by Fox (2.6 average), CBS (1.8), Univision (1.2) and ABC (0.8). NBC averaged 20.1 million total viewers to lead Fox (9.9 million), CBS (8.4 million), Univision (3.1 million) and ABC (2.9 million).

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Nickelodeon Options New York Times Bestseller

Nickelodeon has optioned a 2013 novel about middle school children that has been a New York Times bestseller. TheWrap.com reports that the cable channel is lining up a project based on “Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library,” in which the kids compete for a grand prize.

If the project moves forward, it would become a television movie with Head First Productions President Jim Head executive producing, the story reports.

The book’s characters are locked in the world’s most “fabulous” library and asked to find their way out, the piece adds. The book, written by Chris Grabenstein, is already in its 13th printing.

Nick has done well with its TV movies, which have included “Jinxed” and “Swindle,” the report notes.

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'Taxi' Star Joins ABC Project

One of the stars of the hit 1970s-1980s comedy series "Taxi" is back at ABC -- where "Taxi" aired for four seasons before moving to NBC for its final cycle.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that “Taxi” star Judd Hirsch has joined the ABC pilot “Forever,” which comes from Matt Miller of “Chuck."

Hirsch will play Abe, the best friend to Dr. Henry Morgan, who hasn’t been cast yet. Morgan is a medical examiner who is immortal, the piece notes.

Abe is described as funny and candid, and also the only friend to Morgan.

Hirsch’s last work as a series regular was on the CBS drama “Numb3rs.”

judd hirsch.jpgJudd Hirsch

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NBC to Revisit Figure Skating Scandal Before Sochi Closing Ceremony

NBC Sports has announced plans to televise a documentary exploring the notorious figure skating scandal of 20 years ago. Deadline.com reports that the network will air “Nancy & Tonya,” about the events involving U.S. figure skating champion Nancy Kerrigan and her rival Tonya Harding, before the closing ceremony at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

The documentary, which will air 20 years after the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, will air Sunday at 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT, the story says.

The piece reports: “Mary Carillo will examine the events that held Americans spellbound after defending U.S. figure skating champion Nancy Kerrigan was clubbed in the knee after a practice during the 1994 U.S. championships and rival Tonya Harding’s husband and bodyguard were arrested for planning the attack.”

The report adds: “The docu, which combines present-day and archival interviews, practice and competition footage, and news coverage leading up to and during the events, includes a sit-down with Kerrigan and a one-on-one with Harding.”

tonya harding-nancy kerrigan.pngTonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan

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Oscars Expected to Pull In Close to $100 Million in Ad Sales

Strong demand for ad time in ABC’s telecast of the Academy Awards ceremony may push this year’s advertising sales to almost $100 million, reports MediaPost’s MediaDailyNews.

That would top last year’s $88.3 million in commercial sales, the story notes. The telecast is selling 30-second spots for $1.8 million, or about 10% higher than last year.

Such a growth rate has only been recorded twice in the past decade, the story notes, citing Kantar Media. “The robust pricing reflects advertiser demand for live TV events that can generate strong engagement in social media,” Kantar Media said.

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Fallon Continues His Dominant Ratings Start on 'Tonight'

Night three of the Jimmy Fallon era for NBC's "Tonight Show" continued the "Saturday Night Live" alum's strong ratings start -- presumably helped by NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia.

Citing Nielsen Media Research data, NBC reported: "Wednesday’s 5.2 in metered-market households is up 79% versus the show’s 2.9 season-to-date average [live plus same day]. Note that 'Tonight' has been delivering one of its strongest seasons in years and was up 7% season to date in metered-market households through Feb. 9 (2.9 vs. 2.7)."

As the show has all week, Wednesday's installment of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” had a special midnight start time after late local news and Olympics coverage.

Last night's show was down slightly from the Tuesday program. "Wednesday’s 'Tonight' finished within a tenth of a rating point of the prior night’s results both in metered-market households (5.2 vs. 5.3) and in 18-49 rating in the Local People Meters (2.2 vs. 2.3)," NBC reported.

Even with a later start time, Wednesday's “Tonight Show” beat the combined household ratings for CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman” (2.2/6) and ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (1.6/4) by 37% (5.2 vs. a combined 3.8), NBC noted.

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NBCU Boss Crowing About the Sochi Olympics

NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke wrote in a memo to employees that the company's Winter Olympics coverage is a “tremendous success,” reports Bloomberg.

“In 2011 we made a major commitment of over $4 billion for the Olympic Games through 2020,” Burke wrote in the memo. “The ratings and advertising sales for Sochi are making this look like a wise decision.”

Prime-time audiences for the Sochi Olympics are smaller than they were four years ago, when the event was held in Vancouver, but the Games have more than doubled NBC’s evening ratings, the story notes.

The piece reports: “Through 11 days, NBC is averaging 23 million viewers in prime time, Burke wrote. That’s more than the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, which, like Sochi, happened early in the day for U.S. audiences. NBC Sports Network is generating record ratings and 27 percent more people are watching online.”

For Burke, the Sochi Olympics are proving that the investment can be profitable, while previously it was seen as a loss-leader, the article adds.

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'Nikita' Writer-Producer Headed to 'Sleepy Hollow' With New 20th Deal

A writer-producer who was recently with the CW's "Nikita" will be co-executive producer on the second season of Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. The publication reports that the move is part of Albert Kim's new two-year overall pact with 20th Century Fox Television.

Kim will also consult on Fox’s series “Hieroglyph,” which is about ancient Egypt.

"[Albert's voice] is just so specific and original and he writes with such passion. When we get our sights set on someone like that we're pretty relentless, in terms of letting a guy like this go somewhere else," Jonnie Davis, the president of creative affairs at 20th TV, told the publication.

Kim, a former journalist at Entertainment Weekly and other publications, was most recently co-executive producer on “Nikita,” working on the show during its entire four-season run on CW, the story adds.

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A&E Developing Fallen Angels Drama

A&E Network is working on a drama called “The 36,” which is based on the mystical Jewish idea of the Righteous 36 -- the concept that at all times 36 people in the world have special powers, reports Deadline.com.

“The 36” is set in the world of fallen angels, or nephilim, who live among humans and who are only kept in line by the 36 people with special powers, the story says. The drama is set in New York and is from “Immortals” writers Charley and Vlas Parlapanides and producer Michael London.

Syfy is also working on a project about angels, with its series “Dominion,” which is based on the movie “Legion.”

charley-L-and Vlas Parlapanides.pngCharley, left, and Vlas Parlapanides

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Fallon Continues to Deliver: Biggest Tuesday for 'Tonight Show' in 13 Years

Citing Nielsen "live plus same day" results for Tuesday's late-night programming, NBC announced that the second night of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” again delivered strong numbers.

Starting at midnight following late local news and NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia, "Tuesday’s 'Tonight' averaged a 2.3 rating in adults 18-49 and 7.366 million viewers overall, according to fast-official 'live plus same day' ratings from Nielsen Media Research," the network announced. "That made it 'Tonight’s' biggest Tuesday in total viewers in 13 years (since Dec. 26, 2000, 7.448 million viewers)."

The broadcast was up 84% from the season-to-date average for "The Tonight Show" in metered markets -- 7.366 million vs. 4.011 million, "live plus same day," through Feb. 9.

NBC also noted: "Despite its later start time, the Feb. 18 'Tonight Show' outperformed the combined results for CBS’s 'Late Show with David Letterman' (2.694 million) and ABC’s 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' (2.147 million) by 52% (7.366 million vs. a combined 4.841 million)."

In the coveted 18-49 demo, “Tonight’s” 2.3 average rating Tuesday night -- the show's biggest demo number for a Tuesday since Dec. 13, 2005 (2.5) -- topped the combined numbers for “Late Show” (0.6) and “Kimmel” (0.5) by 109% (2.3 vs. a combined 1.1).

Monday's premiere episode of the Fallon era hit a ratings home run, including a 3.8 average in viewers 18-49 and 11.314 million total viewers, based on Nielsen "live plus same day" numbers, as we reported previously.

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Cable News Channel HLN Rebrands, Rolls Out Development Slate -- Now With More Social Media Savvy

The sister channel to CNN, cable news channel HLN, has rebranded itself and has taken the wraps off the initial 2014 programming development slate for the channel's new identity as "the first TV home for the social media generation."

Albie Hecht, executive vice president and general manager of HLN, unveiled the new programming, saying in a statement: “HLN is driving a development slate with a key goal in mind: debunk the myth that the world of social media is only about videos of cats riding skateboards. News that is shared can inspire a wide spectrum of programming and HLN’s ripped from the social media headlines approach will mirror what consumers are really doing digitally.”

In development and considered series contenders are (working titles) "Keywords," "I Can Haz NewsToons," "One.Click.Away," "Vacation Hunters," "Videocracy" and the app #What’sYourFOMO.

Please click here to read the full press release from HLN, including additional details about the development slate.

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'Will & Grace' Star to Play Lead in NBC Drama

A star who had a successful eight-season run on NBC's hit comedy series "Will & Grace" is back in business with the Peacock Network. After beefing up her TV resume on USA Network's "The Starter Wife" and the NBC musical drama "Smash," Debra Messing will play the lead in the drama pilot "The Mysteries of Laura, Deadline.com reports.

With Messing signed on, the project's cast contingency is lifted, the story reports.

"Messing is set for the title role in the pilot, written by Jeff Rake and directed by McG. Based on the popular Spanish series 'Los Misterios De Laura,' 'The Mysteries of Laura' follows the life and relationships of Laura Diamond (Messing), a female homicide detective who can handle murderous criminals -- but not her hell-raising twin children," the article reports.

The project will be produced by Warner Bros. TV, Greg Berlanti’s Berlanti Productions and Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment.

"Production on the pilot and the series will be moved to New York, where Messing is based," the report notes. "Messing is making her Broadway debut in John Patrick Shanley’s play 'Outside Mullingar' and will segue to 'Mysteries of Laura' after wrapping her well-received stage run."

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The 'Dora the Explorer' Universe Is Getting a Little Bigger

Nickelodeon announced plans today for a venture that will expand the universe of "Dora the Explorer." The cable channel has joined forces with bilingual educational toy maker Smart Play, LLC, for a line of dual-language preschool learning toys inspired by the cartoon character.

The new product line, developed by Smart Play, will include electronic learning toys and educational games. The line will feature the Dora Explore & Play Pad, the Dora Explore & Play Mat and the Dora Trace & Learn projector.

Manuel Torres, Nickelodeon's senior VP for Global Toys and Publishing, said: “Smart Play, LLC, is renowned for making incredible products and they have done a remarkable job creating entertaining and affordable toys featuring the beloved Dora the Explorer. These products make education fun and entertaining, while providing kids with an interactive bi-lingual play pattern.”

Please click here for details on the new products in the full press release from Nickelodeon.

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Judge Will Not Return to NBC's 'The Voice'

One of the judges on NBC’s “The Voice” won't be returning to the singing competition. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that singer CeeLo Green made the revelation to Ellen DeGeneres in an interview airing today, Wednesday.

“I don’t want to wear out my welcome there," Green said. "You know what I’m saying? I have so many other things that I want to do. I haven't released an album in four years. I’m almost done with my album."

Green said he will “continue my relationship with NBC,” noting that he has a TV show development deal with the network and may have some “other talk show opportunities for later this year.”

“The Ellen DeGeneres Show” taped the interview with Green, who was joined by Lionel Richie. The two artists are launching a tour together, called “All the Hits All Night Long.”

Green was a judge on the first three seasons of “The Voice” and its fifth season. The show will return Feb. 24 for its sixth season. The judges’ panel includes Shakira, Usher, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine.

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High-Profile Actress Has a 'Change of Heart,' Pulls Out of TNT Show

A deal to bring a high-profile actress back to series TV reportedly fell apart when the actress pulled out at the last moment. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the TNT pilot “Guilt by Association” was seconds from closing an agreement with former “Party of Five” actress Neve Campbell when she pulled out of the deal.

“I hear she had a change of heart, feeling she wasn’t ready to jump back into series TV,” Andreeva writes. Campbell has starred in movies including “The Craft” and “Scream.”

“Guilt by Association,” based on a book by former prosecutor Marcia Clark, centers on Rachel Knight, a deputy district attorney in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, the story notes.

neve campbell.jpgNeve Campbell

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CBS Readying the Fourth Incarnation of Its 'CSI' Franchise

CBS is working on a new spinoff of “CSI,” which will be the fourth series in the highly popular drama franchise. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the newest installment will focus on cyber crimes.

The new series will be written by “CSI” creator Anthony Zuiker, “CSI” showrunner Carol Mendelsohn and former “CSI: Miami” showrunner Ann Donahue -- the same team behind "CSI: Miami," the story notes.

“The new project is not related to the ‘Cyber Crimes’ drama Zuiker created for CBS four seasons ago,” Andreeva writes. “Inspired by the work of Irish cyberpsychologist Mary Aiken, the proposed ‘CSI’ spinoff centers on Avery Ryan, Special Agent in Charge at the Cyber Crime Division of the FBI in Quantico, Va., who is tasked with solving major crimes that start in the mind, live online, and play out into the real world.”

It’s not clear whether the spinoff will keep the “CSI” label or will switch to a new name -- along the lines of “NCIS,” which received a fresh name even though it was spun off from the military drama “JAG,” the story says.

Andreeva adds: “It makes sense for CBS to try to expand ‘CSI,’ which has been a billion-dollar franchise for the company and one of the most popular drama brands globally. The mothership series is now in its 14th season, ‘CSI: Miami’ ran for 10 seasons [and] ‘CSI: NY’ for nine.”

The report also notes: "Zuiker has been at the forefront of entertainment’s digital conversion, experimenting in the arena for the past decade. That has included his digi-novel 'Level 26,' which crossed over into 'CSI' to strong ratings, and his digital film 'Cybergeddon.'"

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Showtime Renews Two Series

Showtime has renewed two of its signature programs. The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that the pay-cable channel will bring back the Sunday programs “Shameless” and “House of Lies."

“Shameless” will return for a fifth season, while “House of Lies” will return for a fourth season. Both shows will return with 12 new episodes that are slated to launch in 2015.

“Currently in its fourth season, ‘Shameless’ is averaging 5.5 million viewers across multiple platforms -- up 8% from its previous season," the story reports. "The dramedy, starring William H. Macy as an alcoholic father, delivered its highest-rated episode of its fourth season on Jan. 26, with 1.83 million viewers in its 9 p.m. slot."

The piece adds: “‘House of Lies’ is averaging 3 million viewers a week. Its headliner, Don Cheadle, has brought in bragging rights in the form of awards love -- earning two Emmy and two Golden Globe nominations (taking home a Globe in 2012).”

don-cheadle.jpgDon Cheadle

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HBO Will Bring Back Comedy Series

HBO has renewed a comedy series for another season. Deadline.com reports that the pay-cable channel will bring back the medical comedy “Getting On” for a second season of six episodes.

The show’s first season, also consisting of six episodes, aired in November and December of last year.

“HBO brass had been high on the show, an adaptation of the BBC series, and had been looking to renew it contingent of sorting out budget issues,” the article reports. “Well received by critics, ‘Getting On’ was a modest ratings performer but also was a word-of-mouth success as it didn’t get a big marketing push at launch.”

The show stars Laurie Metcalf of “Roseanne” as a doctor working in the female-geriatric wing of a hospital.

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WWE Shopping for New TV Home After Talks Fail With NBCU

WWE is searching for a new television home for “Smackdown,” “Raw” and “Total Divas” after negotiations with NBCUniversal failed to reach an agreement, reports Joe Flint on the Los Angeles Times’ Company Town.

NBCUniversal’s cable networks now air most of WWE’s content, the story says.

Flint reports: “That doesn't mean that those shows will definitely be moving. Although NBCUniversal's exclusive negotiating window with the WWE expired over the weekend, it still has limited rights to match a competing offer.”

The two sides are currently “far apart” on a price, with the WWE seeking a big increase in rights fees, the report notes.

“Although neither NBCUniversal nor the WWE would comment on their negotiations, in its marketing materials the WWE compares its audience to NASCAR, which recently signed a 10-year, $8.2 billion deal with Fox and NBC,” the piece adds.

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Veteran TV Sound and Music Supervisor Dies -- His Credits Included 'Starsky and Hutch,' 'Barney Miller,' 'Beverly Hills, 90210'

A veteran television sound supervisor and music supervisor with credits going back to the 1960s has died. Variety reports that Rocco (Rocky) Moriana, who worked for producers including Aaron Spelling and Danny Thomas, died Feb. 5 at his home in Calabasas, Calif. He was 86.

Moriana’s credits included shows such as “Barney Miller,” Starsky and Hutch” and “Charlie’s Angels,” the story notes. He also worked on miniseries and telepictures, including “21 Hours at Munich” and “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.”

Moriana served in the Navy during World War II, and witnessed the first A-bomb tests in the Marshall Islands. After he returned to civilian life, he majored in film at USC, the story says.

His early TV credits including the 1960s series "The Guns of Will Sonnett," "That Girl" and "My World and Welcome to It." He kept up his prolific career well into the 1990s, including working as a music editor on 61 episodes of "Beverly Hills, 90210."

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Hulu Snags Key Executive From Sony

Hulu will fill a vacancy in its top executive ranks with a veteran of Sony Network Entertainment. TheWrap.com reports that the streaming service hired former Sony executive Tian Lim as its new chief technology officer.

Lim will fill a vacancy left by the departure of Richard Tom, who left Hulu with former chief executive officer Jason Kilar for a tech startup, the story notes. Brad Suter, who served as interim CTO, will remain on the technology team at Hulu and report to Lim.

The piece notes: “Hulu had a preexisting relationship with Lim; as SVP of product engineering at Sony Network Entertainment International, Lim oversaw North American engineering and service operations for the PlayStation Store and network features on the newly released PS4, which includes a platform for Hulu Plus.”

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'Doctor Who' Companion Lands Lead Role in ABC Project

An actress who is a fan favorite for her role in "Doctor Who" is poised for a return to television as the lead in a new ABC project.

EW.com’s Inside TV reports that Karen Gillan -- Amy Pond in “Doctor Who” -- is set to star in “Selfie,” which comes from “Suburgatory” creator Emily Kapnek.

"The single-cam comedy, said to be inspired by 'My Fair Lady,' centers on a self-obsessed 20-something woman named Eliza Dooley (Gillan), who is more concerned with 'likes' than being liked," the EW story reports. "In the pilot, a video of her very public and humiliating breakup goes viral and she enlists the help of a marketing expert at her company to help repair her tarnished image."

The report adds: "The announcement of the casting comes on the heels of the release of the well-received first teaser for 'Guardians of the Galaxy,' in which Gillan appears as blue-skinned alien Nebula."

karen gillan.pngKaren Gillan

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Fewer Than 29% of Speaking Parts in Top Films Go to Female Characters -- How Bad Is the Disparity on TV?

Women make up more than half of the U.S. population, but they remain far underrepresented in film and television, according to a study from the Women’s Media Center.

The study found that only 28.8% of speaking characters in 2012’s top-grossing films were female, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The Women’s Media Center, founded by actress Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem, said in its annual report that “the American media have exceedingly more distance to travel on the road to gender-blind parity.”

Only 6% of the top 100 films in 2012 included a balanced cast of men and women, for example.

Television also lacked gender parity, with only 43% of speaking parts in prime-time programming given to female characters. The women also tended to be much younger than the men.

“The media is failing women across the board,” Julie Burton, president of the organization, said. “The numbers tell a clear story for the need for change on every media platform.”

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'Dollhouse' Actress to Play Lead in Atomic Bomb Drama

An actress who appeared on the 2009-2010 Joss Whedon series "Dollhouse" on Fox will play the lead in a new drama about the atomic bomb.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that WGN America has cast Olivia Williams as its female lead in the drama “Manhattan." Besides "Dollhouse," the British-born Williams is known for a series of acclaimed film roles including "The Ghost Writer" (2010) and "The Heart of Me" (2002), for which she was named best actress at the British Independent Film Awards.

"Manhattan" tracks scientists in Los Alamos, New Mexico, as they work on building the first atomic bomb. John Benjamin Hickey of “The Big C” will star as physics professor Frank Winter, who leads the Manhattan Project. Williams will play Liza Winter, a botanist who notices changes in the environment as she works alongside her husband.

Production will begin in March for a July debut, the story notes. The project was picked up by WGN America in a straight-to-series 13-episode order last fall. The project is from Skydance Television, Tribune Studios and Lionsgate Television.

olivia williams.pngOlivia Williams

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NBC Gives Vote of Confidence to Drama Project

NBC appears to be serious about going ahead with a new mystery drama project. Variety reports that the Peacock Network ordered three additional scripts for “Conception."

The network has also created a small writers room for the project, which is executive produced by David Janollari with John Glenn and Lars Jacobson.

The story notes: “‘Conception’ turns on a mystery involving modern-day cases of immaculate conception and how those children are destined to change the world. The pilot has not been shot.”

The article adds: “NBC’s move to devote more development resources to the project is a good sign of the network’s interest in the concept, and an example of how the nets are breaking with pilot season conventions this year.”

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for David-Janollari.jpgDavid Janollari

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One of the Founding Members of Pioneer New Wave Group Dies at 61

A founding member of a pioneer New Wave music group has died at the age of 61, Billboard reports.

Bob Casale, who died of heart failure, was one of the original members of Devo, the story says, adding, "The Casale brothers [Bob and Gerald] formed Devo in Akron, Ohio in 1972 with Mark Mothersbaugh and Robert Mothersbaugh (Bob Casale was known as 'Bob 2' in the group, with Robert Mothersbaugh called 'Bob 1'). The group's spastic post-punk earned a cult following in the mid-'70s, and 1978 debut album 'Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!,' produced by Brian Eno, earned critical acclaim."

The article adds: "Devo's biggest success on the Billboard charts came with its iconic single 'Whip It,' which reached No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980. The act charted two more singles: 'Working in the Coal Mine' (No. 43 in 1981) and 'Theme from "Doctor Detroit"' (No. 59 in 1983). The album that contained 'Whip It,' 1980's 'Freedom of Choice,' was the group's highest-charting effort on the Billboard 200. It hit No. 22 and spent 51 weeks on the list."

The story adds that Gerald Casale said, in a statement, "He was my level-headed brother, a solid performer and talented audio engineer, always giving more than he got. He was excited about the possibility of Mark Mothersbaugh allowing Devo to play shows again. His sudden death from conditions that lead to heart failure came as a total shock to us all."

Here's a video of Devo from the TV show "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert" in 1980:

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Report Says a 'Gossip Girl' Has Married a Popular Boy From 'The O.C.'

Several media reports say an actress who played one of the starring roles in "Gossip Girl" has married an actor who played one of the young men in "The O.C."

"Surprise!" begins a story at E! Online, continuing, "Leighton Meester married Adam Brody in a secret wedding ceremony, E! News confirms."

The story adds: "The 27-year-old 'Gossip Girl' star and the 34-year-old 'O.C.' actor got engaged in November, just nine months after it was first revealed that they were an item. The famously private pair, who met on the set of 2011's [theatrical feature] 'The Oranges,' have never officially confirmed they were a couple, nor did they confirm their engagement."

The marriage is the first for both.

The article also notes that "Meester makes her Broadway debut in 'Of Mice and Men' this spring. Brody, meanwhile, next appears in the movie 'Think Like a Man Too.' The newlyweds are both slated to star in the comedy 'Life Partners.'

"Us Weekly first reported the news of Meester and Brody's hush-hush marriage."

brody and meester.jpgAdam Brody and Leighton Meester

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NBC's Olympics Coverage Tops Last Winter Games as Rival Nets' Programming Sinks

NBC's prime-time coverage of the Winter Olympics Monday night -- the 12th night of the Games in Sochi, Russia -- drew better ratings than the equivalent night of the Vancouver Games four years ago, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that last night's Olympics coverage averaged a 5.6 rating in viewers 18-49 from 8-11 p.m., 4% better than the 5.4 delivered on night 12 of the 2010 Games. But the number was down 14% from a 6.5 for NBC's Sochi coverage a week earlier.

As NBC rolled to another easy win for the night, programming on ABC, Fox and CBS was down. CBS aired mostly reruns but tried out a fresh installment of "Intelligence," which fell 8% from last week to a 1.2 average in 18-49.

ABC saw its two-hour "The Bachelor" equal its series low with a 2.2, slipping 4% from a week ago in viewers 18-49. "Castle" also matched its series low, falling 19% from its most recent original installment to a 1.7.

Fox's "The Following equaled last week's series low with a 1.7 average in the 18-49 demo, while "Almost Human" matched last week's 1.6.

For prime time overall, NBC's 5.6 average in adults 18-49 was the runaway leader, followed by ABC (2.0 average), Fox (1.7), Univision (1.3) and CBS (1.2). NBC racked up 23.5 million total viewers, well ahead of ABC (7.7 million), CBS (5.3 million), Fox (5.2 million) and Univision (3.3 million).

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Top Show on TV Sunday Night? Once Again, It Wasn't the Olympics

The highest-rated program on television Sunday night wasn't the Olympic Games from Sochi, Russia -- and it wasn't on broadcast. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that, for the second consecutive week, AMC's "The Walking Dead" won the key 18-49 demo Sunday night.

"In the second episode of its midseason run, the AMC drama was Sunday's top performer among adults 18-49, averaging 8.7 million viewers in the key demographic," THR reports. "That's down from the premiere's 10.4 million -- but enough to lock in a win against NBC's Sochi coverage."

The AMC show beat the Olympics by almost 30% in the demo, the report notes.

"Among total viewers, The Walking Dead pulled 13.3 million at 9 p.m. The Winter Games, with an average 21.3 million, again easily surpassed the series in viewership," the story adds.

The piece also reports: "'The Walking Dead' had bigger competition in its second outing, facing both Sochi and the NBA All-Star Game. Post-show 'The Talking Dead' averaged 4.8 million viewers and 3.1 million adults 18-49."

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'Napoleon Dynamite' Star Joins High-Powered Cast of Fox Comedy Project

The star of "Napoleon Dynamite" is adding his star power to the already high-octane cast of a new Fox project. Deadline.com reports that Jon Heder will star opposite Jane Kaczmarek ("Malcolm in the Middle") and David James Elliott ("JAG") in the multicamera comedy pilot known as "Here's Your Damn Family."

The half-hour project comes from writer Ricky Blitt and producers Johnny Galecki and Stephen McPherson.

"The Warner Bros-produced multicamera comedy ... centers on a stunted, intelligent but underachieving, set-in-his-ways thirtysomething man (Heder) living with his mom (Kaczmarek) who finds his perfectly organized world upended when she gets married -- and her new husband (Elliott) plus his three teenage children move in," the story reports.

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Bob Costas Returns to Olympics Coverage

Bob Costas returned to NBC’s Sochi Olympics coverage Monday night, rejoining the broadcast by announcing, “Welcome to NBC’s prime-time coverage on this Monday -- I’m Bob Costas, sitting in tonight for Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira,” reports Lisa de Moraes at Deadline.com.

“He was returning to Games coverage for the first time after nearly a week off while doctors treated an infection in both of his eyes,” de Moraes notes.

Costas thanked Lauer and Vieira, noting that they were “two friends and true pros who stepped in for me on short notice. My thanks as well to all of you who expressed your concern, and my apologies to everyone for the unavoidable but uncomfortable circumstance of a broadcaster's ill-timed affliction getting in the way, even for just a few moments, for what we all came here for -- the Olympic Games.”

While Costas is well enough to return to broadcasting, his eye infection is still visible, de Moraes noted. He will continue to wear glasses as a result.

“His absence, since last Tuesday, ended his streak of 157 consecutive appearances as NBC’s Olympics anchor in prime time; it was the first time since 1988 that Costas had not hosted the prime-time coverage,” the story adds.

bob costas sidelined.jpgBob Costas

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Live F-Bomb Has 'Today' Co-Hosts Squirming (Here's the Video)

A veteran comedic actress sparked some anxious moments on the set of NBC's "Today" show this morning, dropping the F-bomb into a conversation about her famous foul mouth.

USA Today reports that three-time Emmy winner Elaine Stritch unleashed the four-letter word to the dismay of co-hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb.

"Stritch was on to promote her new documentary 'Shoot Me,' when Gifford mentioned that Stritch is well known for saying whatever comes to mind," the story reports.

Gifford said to Stritch: "You are so beloved -- of course for your work, but as much for your mouth. You say whatever you want to say."

USA Today adds: "Stritch, 89, said her famous mouth is no big deal. 'If you just say things naturally, it's fine.' And, as if to prove her point, she added, 'You know, they just think in (bleep).'"

The hosts seemed a bit flustered, the report notes. "The uncensored mishap sent the co-hosts into a tizzy, as Gifford exclaimed 'Oh, dear!' and Kotb nervously shuffled her note cards," the piece reports. "Stritch, cool as a cucumber, replied, 'No, I meant a serious point by that!'"

The uncensored clip was posted by The Hollywood Gossip. Here it is:

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********PLEASE NOTE--THIS ITEM IS A PAID TEXT ADVERTISEMENT************American Legion Seeks Entries for Fourth Estate Awards in Print, Broadcast and New Media

PLEASE NOTE--THIS ITEM IS A PAID TEXT ADVERTISEMENT***

Call for Entries


The American Legion seeks entries for Fourth Estate Awards in print, broadcast and new media

INDIANAPOLIS (Jan. 13, 2014) – The nation’s largest veterans organization announced today the call for entries in its annual Fourth Estate Award program for excellence in journalism.

"Once again, The American Legion will award multiple prizes to recognize the outstanding achievements being made in print, broadcast and new media, or Online (Internet-based) media,” said Benedict A. Lee, national chairman of the organization’s Media and Communications Commission. “The winner in each category will receive a $2,000 stipend to cover expenses and travel to accept the awards at the 2014 American Legion National Convention to be held in Charlotte, N.C. in August.”

The deadline for 2013 submissions in all categories is March 14, 2014. 

An entry form and updated rules and information have been posted on The American Legion website at http://www.legion.org/presscenter/fourthestate.   Send questions to pr@legion.org anytime.

The expansion recognizes Internet journalism while affording print and broadcast achievements an opportunity to each be recognized in the annual competition.

The submissions are judged on the quality of reporting that the journalist believes produced a positive effect on society.

“We invite journalists who have made a difference for the better in their community, state or nation to send us their entry,” Lee said. “There is no entry fee and no single medium is limited as to the number of entries.”

 Some past winners have included Newsweek Magazine, ABC News, Dateline NBC, USA Today and the Detroit News.  The complete list can be found on The American Legion website.

 Contacts:  Joe March or John Raughter (317) 630-1253.

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Cable Drama Series Canceled

A cable drama series that's a spinoff of a popular show has been canceled. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that ABC Family has canceled the “Pretty Little Liars” spinoff “Ravenswood,” which ended a 10-episode run earlier this month.

The show received a straight-to-series order last year, but never performed as well as “Pretty Little Liars,” the story notes. The show focused on a Pennsylvania town called Rosewood, which was under a curse. The show starred Tyler Blackburn.

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'Green Acres' Actress Dies

An actress known for her quirky role on CBS's 1960s comedy series “Green Acres” has died. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mary Grace Canfield, who played the handywoman Ralph Monroe on the rural sitcom, died Saturday at a hospice in Santa Barbara, Calif. She was 89.

Canfield appeared as the tomboyish Ralph on 41 episodes of "Green Acres," which featured Eva Gabor and Eddie Albert as wealthy city slickers who move to a farm. The series aired on CBS from 1965 to 1971.

Canfield's character greeted people with “Howdy doody,” the piece notes.

Her other roles included the neighbor Harriet Kravitz on the ABC series “Bewitched,” as well as appearances on “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Hazel.”

mary grace canfield.pngMary Grace Canfield

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CNN Anchor Receives Death Threats

A CNN anchor revealed that she and her family have received death threats related to recent news coverage. TheWrap.com reports that Ashleigh Banfield disclosed on the air Monday that she had received threats on social media over her coverage of the racially charged Michael Dunn trial.

“Call it back, folks!” Banfield said Monday while on air. “Stop threatening to kill people on Twitter because you don’t like what they are saying! That’s the problem. If we can’t communicate, we are never going to know what the problem is. And this is a case that outlines it.”

She added, “I have had it with people who are threatening me, and my kids, and my family over simply commenting on the law and criminal procedure and respecting juries. Because they do work hard. They work way harder than I do and they work way harder than the rest of those people making those peanut gallery comments.”

Dunn was found guilty of four of five charges, but the jury deadlocked on the murder charge, the story notes. Dunn was on trial for fatally shooting 17-year-old Jordan Davis in a fight over loud music, according to ABC News.

ashleigh-banfield.pngAshleigh Banfield

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NBC Reaps Ratings Gold From Fallon's First 'Tonight Show'

[Updated Feb. 18, 2014, at noon PT to add Nielsen Media Research fast-official "live plus same day" ratings.]

NBC racked up a number of late-night ratings milestones as Jimmy Fallon made his debut on "The Tonight Show" Monday night, based on Nielsen Media Research data for the 56 local metered markets and "live plus same day" fast ratings.

The show had a special midnight start time following late local news and coverage of the Sochi Winter Olympics. In metered markets the premiere episode of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” averaged a 7.1 household rating and 20 share.

In Nielsen fast-official “live plus same day” ratings, Fallon's "Tonight" debut averaged a 3.8 in the key 18-49 demo and 11.314 million total viewers, marking the best results ever for a Fallon-hosted late-night talk-show hour.

"The 11.314 million is up 71% or 4.7 million persons versus the 6.601 million for the Friday, Feb. 7, finale of 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,' which aired at 12:05 a.m. ET following prime-time Olympics coverage and was Fallon’s previous high for a late-night talk-show hour," NBC announced.

In its press release announcing the metered-market ratings, NBC noted that the numbers made the "Tonight Show" broadcast "easily the #1 non-Olympic telecast versus all prime-time and late-night programming last night on ABC, CBS and Fox in metered-market households."

Second among non-Olympic programs was ABC's prime-time “The Bachelor," which delivered a 5.5 rating/8 share.

NBC reported that Fallon's show was also "higher-rated than all but two of last week’s prime-time non-Olympic programs on ABC, CBS and Fox in metered-market households (for the week of Feb. 10-16, behind only Fox’s Wednesday 'American Idol' and CBS’s Thursday 'Big Bang Theory' encore, 7.4 each)."

Fallon's rating was his highest ever for a late-night talk-show telecast, and dominated Monday's late-night rankings. The show was up 48% from his previous high for a late-night talk show -- the 4.8/13 delivered by the “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” finale on Friday, Feb. 7, which aired at 12:05 a.m. ET after prime-time Olympics coverage.

In Nielsen's 56 metered markets, 'Fallon's" 7.1 rating/20 share in households compared with a 2.0/5 for both CBS's "Late Show with David Letterman" and ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

Fallon's "Tonight Show" debut also "tied for the second-highest 'Tonight Show' overnights since Friday, May 29, 2009 (8.8/20, for Leno’s last telecast before Conan O’Brien took over as host), trailing over that span only the Thursday, Feb. 6, finale of 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno' (9.2/22) and tied with the June 1, 2009, 'Tonight' debut for O’Brien (7.1/17)," NBC reported.

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ABC Names Hosts for Oscars Pre-Show

ABC has named two hosts for its Oscars pre-show, “Red Carpet Live.” According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Good Morning America” anchors Robin Roberts and Lara Spencer will host the show, which starts at 7 p.m. ET Sunday, March 2.

The two ABC morning show hosts will be joined by People magazine editor Jess Cagle, along with actor and television host Tyson Beckford, the story reports.

The pre-show will be executive produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who are also producing the Oscars telecast, the piece notes.

The Oscars will be broadcast live, with Ellen DeGeneres hosting.

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Nat Geo Scraps Plans for Its First Scripted Series

National Geographic Channel announced plans in October for its first scripted series, but now the project is no longer moving forward. Nellie Andreeva reports on Deadline.com that the cable channel is scrapping “Act of Valor.”

“NGC is unfortunately not moving forward with ‘Act Of Valor’ in favor of other scripted projects we have under consideration that will be announced soon,” the network said in a statement.

Andreeva writes: “I hear that at the time of the series green light, Nat Geo had a formal deal with Relativity and well as Studiocanal’s Tandem Communications, which was to act as the studio and handle international distribution. The Bandito Brothers, the creative team behind the feature who had partnered with Relativity in 2012 to develop a TV series inspired by the film, had a preliminary, handshake agreement but no deal in place.”

She adds: “In the months following Nat Geo’s announcement, I hear it became clear the Bandito Brothers, Nat Geo and Relativity had different visions for what the series should be” and the series was scrapped.

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Snake-Handling Pastor From Reality Show Dies of a Snake Bite

A pastor who starred in a television series about snake handling has reportedly died of a snake bite. CNN reports that Kentucky pastor Jamie Coots, who starred in National Geographic Channel’s “Snake Salvation,” died after refusing to be treated for the bite.

Coots preached that those anointed by God couldn’t be harmed by poisonous snake bites, the story says. He was a third-generation “serpent handler” and planned to pass on his practice to his son, the story says.

“In following Pastor Coots for our series ‘Snake Salvation,’ we were constantly struck by his devout religious convictions despite the health and legal peril he often faced,” National Geographic Channel said in a statement.

The statement adds: “Those risks were always worth it to him and his congregants as a means to demonstrate their unwavering faith. We were honored to be allowed such unique access to Pastor Jamie and his congregation during the course of our show, and give context to his method of worship. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time."

Coots had been in trouble with law enforcement because of his practice, receiving one year of probation in 2013 for crossing into Tennessee with venomous snakes, the story notes. After several people were bitten in churches, Tennessee banned snake handling in 1947, the article notes.

jamie coots.pngJamie Coots

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'Orange Is the New Black' Gets Rollout Date on Netflix -- Here's the Teaser Clip

Netflix has taken the wraps off its rollout plans for season two of “Orange Is the New Black.” EW.com’s Inside TV reports that the program is slated to return to the streaming service June 6.

All 13 episodes will be ready to stream at once, the report notes. Netflix also released a short teaser clip, which you can see below.

Us Weekly reports: "Noticeably absent from the clip ... is Laura Prepon's Alex Vause. Rumors about Prepon's diminished role in the series have been circulating for months, but creator Jenji Kohan told Us Weekly earlier this month that her presence would be felt throughout."

The report quotes Kohan saying of "That '70s Show" alumna Prepon: "Yes, yes, she is coming back. Not the whole season, but ... you'll see her for most of it."

Here's the teaser:

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Logo Picks Up Series for Seventh Season

Logo has renewed a series for season seven. TheWrap.com reports that the cable channel ordered a seventh season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race," ahead of the show's sixth-season debut.

The seventh season began production Monday with a casting call, while season six is slated to debut Feb. 24, the report notes.

"The move is expected for Logo’s most popular show, but the announcement is also being timed to promote the upcoming sixth season and the fact that viewers can watch the premiere episode (sans the elimination results) early starting [Feb. 17] on the new Logo viewing app for iPhone and iPad,” the piece reports.

The show features drag queens competing against each other in different challenges. It ranks as Logo’s top-rated show, with its fifth season drawing more than 1.3 million viewers, the story notes.

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Al-Jazeera to Roll Out Series on Criminal Justice System

Al-Jazeera America has hired award-winning filmmaker Joe Berlinger to direct and executive produce a series on the criminal justice system, reports TheWrap.com.

The series will look at issues including false confessions and how minors are treated in the system, the story reports. “The System” will debut March 16 with an episode about flawed forensic evidence.

Berlinger has focused on criminal justice issues before, having directed “Paradise Lost,” a film trilogy about the West Memphis Three, teenagers who were convicted of murder but freed 18 years later after new evidence won their release, the story notes.

Berlinger has been nominated for an Oscar and is a two-time Emmy winner.

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ESPN Expands Relationship With Tennis Great

ESPN is expanding the role of a tennis champion who has become a familiar presence on the network. Deadline.com reports that the network will be featuring more of John McEnroe.

McEnroe will appear year-round, including non-tennis appearances on both television and radio. He will work as an analyst on "SportsCenter," where he will also conduct sit-down interviews with major sports stars, the story reports.

The piece adds: “He also will make regular appearances on ESPN2’s ‘Olbermann’ and on ESPN Radio’s 'Mike & Mike,' also seen weekday mornings on ESPN2. In addition, he will also be heard on ESPN Radio New York (98.7 FM). McEnroe has worked the U.S. Open for ESPN since 2009 and Wimbledon since 2012.”

McEnroe won three Wimbledon singles titles and four U.S. Opens from 1979-1984.

john mcenroe.jpgJohn McEnroe

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Video: NBC Criticized for Interview That Made Olympian Medal Winner Bode Miller Break Down in Tears. Miller Defends Interviewer. Other NBC Interview Questions That Some Consider in Bad Taste

After NBC aired an interview Sunday night, Feb. 16, 2014, that ended with U.S. Olympian Bode Miller turning away from the camera in tears and unable to speak, social media lit up with comments critical of the interview.

According to an Associated Press story, "Miller was a trending topic on Twitter" and "[C]ritics said the interview was insensitive."

"Richard Sandomir of The New York Times called it 'overkill,' Kami Mattioli of the Sporting News said [NBC interviewer Christin] Cooper 'repeatedly badgered' Miller and the AP's David Bauder called it 'a shameful spectacle.'"

However, Miller himself defended Cooper. The AP story says Miller tweeted today, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014: "I appreciate everyone sticking up for me. Please be gentle w christin cooper, it was crazy emotional and not all her fault. #heatofthemoment"

Writes our good friend Lisa de Moraes, the TV columnist for Deadline.com, "It’s not the first time NBC has been chastized during the Sochi Games for probing athletes’ personal wounds to score with viewers. The network has a long tradition of discussing the personal challenges and tragedies of American Olympians, in features and during victory-lap interviews, as a way to getting viewers more invested in those athletes. Last Friday, Meredith Vieira, filling in for Bob Costas, asked American skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace about a miscarriage she suffered a few years ago. Pikus-Pace had retired after the Vancouver Games in 2010 to focus on her family, we learned, but changed her mind and came back to the competition in time for Sochi, where she won a silver medal. NBC Sports also has been criticized for asking American Olympian Katie Uhlaender, right after she missed securing a bronze medal by just 4/100ths of a second, how her father would have felt watching her performance. Her father died a few years back. Uhlaender began to tear up."

Here's the complete Bode Miller interview, including the lingering camera afterwards:

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Former 'American Idol' Showrunner Nigel Lythgoe to Produce Music Competition Reality Pilot for CBS

"CBS is entering the music competition reality series space with 'In the Spotlight,' executive produced by Nigel Lythgoe, the original executive producer of the first big US hit in the genre, Fox’s 'American Idol,'" reports our friend Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

The story continues, " 'In the Spotlight' is based on the Turkish paper format 'Keep Your Light Shining,' which has undergone some changes. CBS wouldn’t reveal details but, according to international format aggregator Global Agency, which represents the original format, 'Keep Your Light Shining' features 12 contestants on a dark circular stage with a moving spotlight, with them taking turns to sing as the spotlight shines on each of them for 15-20 seconds. Each round one contestant is eliminated by the audience, with the show also featuring a panel of celebrity judges."

Trained as a dancer and choreographer, Lythgoe, who is from the U.K., also created "So You Think You Can Dance."

While CBS has had hits in the reality genre with "Survivor," "Amazing Race" and "Big Brother," it does not have a hit music competition show like "Idol" or NBC's "The Voice."

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Actress Who Has Been Nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Award Comes Out as Gay, Says She Is 'Tired of Hiding'

An acclaimed actress who has been nominated in the past for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award has said she is a lesbian.

"In a speech at the Time to Thrive conference Friday [Feb. 14, 2014], actress Ellen Page came out as gay," reports Variety.

“ 'I’m here today because I am gay,' she told the audience of LGBT youth at the Bally’s Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas," the story says.

The story adds that Page "told the audience she felt a personal obligation and a social responsibility to be honest. 'Maybe I can help others to have an easier time. I am tired of hiding,' she said."

According to the website Just Jared, Page also said, “It’s weird because here I am, an actress, representing -- at least in some sense -- an industry that places crushing standards on all of us. Not just young people, but everyone. Standards of beauty. Of a good life. Of success. Standards that, I hate to admit, have affected me.”

The Just Jared story says Page, 26, then added, “You have ideas planted in your head, thoughts you never had before, that tell you how you have to act, how you have to dress and who you have to be. I have been trying to push back, to be authentic, to follow my heart, but it can be hard.”

Page was nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Award for playing the title role in the 2007 hit "Juno." She also has had major parts in "Inception" and a number of other movies.

Ellen Page.pngEllen Page

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NBC's Olympics Coverage Beats Up on Its Prime-Time Competition

NBC's eighth night of coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, continued to trail the ratings for the Winter Games four years ago, but the numbers were the class of the field against the network's prime-time broadcast competition.

Citing Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo, TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the Winter Games delivered a 5.9 average rating in prime time Thursday night -- off the pace of the equivalent night in the 2010 Olympics, which pulled in a 7.1 average.

Fox's "American Idol" appeared to take another hit going head-to-head with the Olympics, falling two-tenths of a ratings point from last week to a 2.9 average in 18-49. Fox's "Rake" held steady with a 1.1 as Fox finished a distant second overall behind NBC.

CBS continued to sit on the sidelines, airing repeat programming and settling for a third-place overall finish behind NBC and Fox. ABC aired a fresh two-hour installment of "The Taste," which dipped one-tenth of a point from last week in the 18-49 demo to a 0.9 average.

For prime time overall, NBC's 5.9 average was the best number by far in adults 18-49, followed by Fox (2.0 average), CBS (1.6), Univision (1.2) and ABC (0.8). NBC was equally dominant in total viewers, averaging 22.89 million to lead CBS (7.02 million), Fox (6.96 million), Univision (3.07 million) and ABC (2.78 million).

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Bob Costas Talks About His Eye Infection -- and Whether He Will Be Back On-Air Before the Sochi Games Wind Down

NBC’s Bob Costas opened up about the eye infection that has sidelined him from coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, saying he expects to be back on the air before the Games draw to a close, TVGuide reports.

As we have been reporting this week, Costas, who has been a fixture of the network's Olympics coverage over the years, has been forced to the sidelines by the eye infection. It was announced previously that his replacement for tonight's coverage would be Meredith Vieira.

“I'm hoping that I'm back by the weekend and I certainly think I'll be able to do the second half of the Games,” Costas said on Ryan Seacrest’s morning radio show. "The virus, they tell me, will run its course for two or three weeks, but ... as soon as the symptoms get to the point where I can be in the studio, I'll be there."

Costas also told Seacrest that he feels fine.

"I did the first five nights wearing glasses. Even though people could see how red and swollen my eyes were, I didn't care because I could still function,” he said. “I could still read the notes I had to read on the athletes and find my way around the studio. But then, in the last 36 hours, it got to the point my vision became so blurry and sensitive to light I can't even be in regular room light, let alone studio light."

bob costas 2.pngBob Costas

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Star of NBC Series to Host Annual White House Dinner

The sometimes unenviable task of hosting the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner will be tackled this year by Joel McHale, one of the stars of the NBC comedy "Community," the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports.

"It's still unknown if 'Community' will reach its long-stated goal of six seasons and a movie, but Joel McHale will at least get an opportunity to plead his case to President Obama," the story notes.

McHale is also known for hosting the E! series "The Soup."

The Times piece notes: "The annual dinner in Washington, hosted by the White House Correspondents' Association, has had an increasingly Hollywood bent to it in recent years, with more and more celebrities appearing as guests.

"McHale will sit at the head table, along with the president and first lady, and will perform a comedy routine for the association's centennial dinner. The WHCA was founded in 1914."

In a statement, Steven Thomma, president of the WHCA, said: "We're thrilled that Joel will headline the dinner when we celebrate our centennial. He's sharp, funny, and just the type of comic who can navigate the unique challenge of our dinner, making fun of Democrats, Republicans and especially the news media. Washington can use a little good-natured ribbing."

In recent years the job has gone to TV fixtures including Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers and Jay Leno.

"The dinner has come under increasing criticism in recent years by people who feel the event creates the feeling of a clubby, friendly relationship between the administration and the people whose job it is to cover them," the Times report notes.

McHale commented on the gig on Twitter, telling his fans: "My material will be equally offensive to all & over within 30 min -- just like a Congressional work year."

joel mchale.pngJoel McHale

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'How I Met Your Mother' Director Lines Up Four Pilots -- Including 'How I Met Your Dad'

The director of the series finale of CBS's “How I Met Your Mother” is slated to direct and executive produce four pilots. Deadline.com reports that the busy schedule for Pamela Fryman will include the spinoff “How I Met Your Dad."

Fryman has served as executive producer and director of “How I Met Your Mother” for the show’s nine-season run, the piece notes. Her other projects are Fox’s “Cabot College,” CBS’s “Save the Date” and the CBS buddy comedy “Cuz-Bros” from David Caspe and Erik Sommers, the story adds.

The lineup is “a personal best for the prolific multicamera director,” the story notes.

pamela fryman.pngPamela Fryman

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Mainstay of Hit CBS Sitcom Will Host Return of 'SNL'

One of the stars of a huge hit sitcom that airs on another network will host NBC's “Saturday Night Live” when it returns March 1. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Jim Parsons of the CBS hit “The Big Bang Theory” will do the honors.

Beck, who has an album coming out Feb. 25, will be the musical guest for that night.

The show’s return will be notable for the absence of Seth Meyers, the longtime “Weekend Update” co-anchor, who left the show earlier this month. Meyers will debut as the host of NBC's “Late Night” Feb. 24.

Thumbnail image for jim-parsons.pngJim Parsons

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NBC's 'Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon' Lands a Big Corporate Partner

When Jimmy Fallon takes over NBC's late-night flagship "The Tonight Show" next week, the show will have a big corporate partner in place. NBCUniversal and GE today announced a wide-ranging integrated partnership focused on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."

The year-long deal involves a multiplatform campaign that will include in-show integrations and the launch of a sponsored "Tonight Show" app that will let viewers interact with the show and share content from it.

"The GE-sponsored in-show integrations will include segments where Jimmy Fallon and three kids showcase inventions," the companies said in an announcement detailing the partnership. The announcement adds: "The custom GE on-air integrations will begin February 19th titled 'Tonight Show Fallonventions,' with two additional segments over the course of the 2014 season."

Said Dan Lovinger, Executive Vice President, Entertainment Advertising Sales Group, NBCUniversal: “We always try to mirror Jimmy’s creativity when it comes to finding ways for our advertising partners to reach their target audiences. Bringing GE into the show in a way that stays true to what Jimmy is developing with the new ‘Tonight Show’ is an important part of our innovative thinking here at NBCUniversal.”

Fallon makes his "Tonight Show" debut Monday, Feb. 17. Please click here to read the full press release from NBCUniversal and GE detailing the partnership.

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Series to Debut Across 10 Networks Simultaneously

An upcoming series is set to debut across 10 networks simultaneously. TheWrap.com reports that the 13-episode documentary series “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” will bow on 21st Century Fox-owned channels Sunday, March 9, at 9 p.m.

“In the U.S., the series will debut on Fox, National Geographic Channel, FX, FXX, FXM, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Mundo and Fox Life,” the article reports. “Internationally, the series debut will be available on a total of 220 channels in 181 countries. The effort marks the first multi-network launch event for Fox Networks Group.”

Hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, the show will debut more than three decades after Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage,” which became one of PBS’s most widely viewed shows and won three Emmys. Sagan, a Cornell professor, became a household figure through the show.

“Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” is a sequel to the original, with executive producer Seth MacFarlane working with Sagan’s original creative collaborators, writer and executive producer Ann Druyan and co-writer and astronomer Steven Soter, the story adds.

After the cross-network debut, “Cosmos” will continue its 13-episode run with airings on Sundays on Fox and on the National Geographic Channel on Mondays, the story adds.

neil degrasse tyson.pngNeil deGrasse Tyson

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TVWeek's Presidents' Day Holiday Schedule

The folks here at TVWeek are off this coming Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, for Presidents' Day and will not publish our e-newsletters that day.

As always, we will continue to let you know about breaking news through our TVWeek EXTRA alerts.

We will be back with our full complement of services on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014.

Happy Valentine's Day and have a wonderful -- and safe -- holiday weekend!

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Bad News for Anyone Who Wants the Kardashians to Just Go Away: The Family Has a Deal in Place That Will Keep Them on TV for Years

The family that has almost single-handedly redefined fame isn't going away anytime soon. TMZ.com reports that the Kardashian family is ready to sign another multi-season agreement with E! -- and this one will be worth more than their current one.

TMZ calls the current deal -- a $40 million pact signed in 2012, when E! renewed "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" for another three seasons -- "what was then the richest reality TV deal ever."

Details on the new agreement are sketchy, and sources weren't saying whether it has been signed or was still being negotiated, TMZ notes, adding: "But it's definitely far enough along that everyone knows the show will be back."

As reported previously, the show is expected to be without Bruce Jenner after the current season. Jenner has denied that he's leaving the show, according to some media reports, but TMZ is certain that he is.

"E! is quoting Bruce as saying the story that he's leaving the show is fabricated," TMZ reports. "We can tell you ... Bruce WILL NOT be part of the show after this season ... period."

The TMZ report adds that Jenner is leaving the show to "spend more time doing the other things he loves. Production sources acknowledge Bruce was 'fatigued' and hated the criticism that went along with the show.

"He'll be missed -- but sources tell us, producers aren't concerned about his departure ... he was not a major character."

Season 9 is currently airing, and the new deal will take the show into season 11 and beyond, the story reports, adding: "As one production source put it, 'It is a HUGE show.'"

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Guess Who Will Fill In for Bob Costas Tonight: (a) Jay Leno, (b) MEREDITH VIEIRA or (c) Maria Ouspenskaya

Bob Costas will sit it out again tonight, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, with a continuing eye infection preventing him from hosting NBC's prime-time coverage of the Winter Olympics.

Tonight's Olympics guest host will be Meredith Vieira. For the past three nights, Matt Lauer has been filling in for Costas as well as doing his regular co-hosting chores on the "Today" shows.

While a number of women have anchored other dayparts of NBC Olympics' coverage, the network says tonight will mark the first night a woman has achored NBCs prime-time Olympics telecast.

On the "Today" show this morning Vieira said, "It's an honor to fill in for [Costas]. You think about the Olympics, and you think the athletes and then Bob Costas."

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Bob Costas, left, broadcasting last week with an eye infection, and
Meredith Vieira, in Sochi, who will substitute for Costas tonight.

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Dwayne Johnson to Star in HBO Scripted Series -- Along With the Son of a Two-Time Oscar Winner

Action star Dwayne Johnson, who first made his mark as the pro wrestler The Rock, will star in and executive produce a new HBO series. Deadline.com reports that the pay-cable channel ordered Johnson's dramedy project "Ballers" to series.

The show will be the first major series role for Johnson, a regular in the "Fast & Furious" feature films. He will also executive produce with Mark Wahlberg, Steve Levinson, showrunner Evan Reilly and pilot director Peter Berg, the story notes.

“Ballers” is about former and current football players, with Johnson portraying retired player Spencer Strasmore. The project also stars John David Washington, Denzel Washington’s son, as a competitive and spiritual pro athlete, and Rob Corddry as a financial adviser.

Denzel Washington is a two-time Oscar winner, for "Glory" (1989) and "Training Day" (2001). John David Washington, 29, played football at Morehouse College and is just getting his acting career started.

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Obama's Presidents' Day Weekend Plans? Binge-Viewing an HBO Series

Barack Obama’s Presidents' Day weekend plans reportedly include binge-watching an HBO drama series. The New York Times reports that the president intends to spend some time with the new show “True Detective,” which stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

“Mr. Obama made a point of approaching HBO’s chief executive, Richard Plepler, at the state dinner for France on Tuesday night,” the story says.

Obama reportedly asked the HBO executive, “Where is my 'True Detective' and 'Game of Thrones'?” He added that he would like to have the DVDs by this weekend, the story notes.

“That Mr. Obama is a fan of ‘True Detective’ should come as no surprise. He is known to favor dark dramas like AMC’s ‘Breaking Bad’ and HBO’s ‘The Wire.’ Those are now off the air, and the president evidently needed to find a replacement,” The Times reports.

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Discovery Says It Has Paid Down a Chunk of the Debt From OWN -- But It Appears the Company Still Has a Long Way to Go

Discovery Communications revealed how much of the debt tied to Oprah Winfrey's OWN cable network the company has paid down.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, which cites Discovery Chief Financial Officer Andrew Warren, Discovery said it has paid down $34 million of the OWN debt, although it has about $500 million more to pay.

Warren said the company will increase the amount of debt it pays down this year.

“Discovery doesn't break out financials for OWN, but during a conference call with analysts to discuss overall earnings, executives were bullish about ad sales for OWN in the current quarter despite stiff competition from the Sochi Winter Olympics,” THR reports.

Income from “equity investees,” which is thought to be primarily from OWN, was $18 million in 2013, the story notes.

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Strong Finish for Leno on 'Tonight': The Show Chalks Up Its Biggest Weekly Average in More Than 20 Years

Jay Leno left “The Tonight Show” to huge ratings, as his final week gave the show its biggest audience since 1993, when NBC benefited from the finale of the long-running comedy “Cheers,” The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

“Tonight” averaged 8.3 million viewers for the week, surpassing every other week since “Cheers” went off the air, when "Tonight" drew 9.1 million viewers, the story reports.

The rating in the key 18-49 demo was less impressive, the piece notes. “It was only the biggest week for adults 18-49 since Conan O'Brien's abrupt 2010 exit," THR reports. "That week averaged a 2.3 rating in the targeted demographic, while Leno's last week averaged a 1.9 rating."

Leno’s final show on Thursday, Feb. 6, drew the show's biggest audience since May 14, 1998, when Jerry Seinfeld appeared after his show’s finale, as we reported previously. The Leno finale delivered 14.637 million viewers, vs. 14.962 million on the night of the "Seinfeld" finale.

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Putting His Disney Image Behind Him, a Jonas Brother Signs On for Gritty DirecTV Project

A Jonas brother is trying to leave his Disney Channel past behind him by signing on for a gritty DirecTV project, reports Nellie Andreeva on Deadline.com.

Nick Jonas has been cast in “Navy St.,” in which he will play a professional boxer. The role is his first major series job, the piece notes.

The show is set at Navy Street, a mixed martial arts gym in Venice, Calif., owned by a former fighter, played by Frank Grillo. His girlfriend will be played by Kiele Sanchez, while Jonas will portray Nate Henderson, the youngest son of the gym’s owner.

Filming will start in May for a fall debut, the story says.

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Consumer Groups Are, Predictably, Already Screaming About the Proposed Comcast Purchase of Time Warner Cable. The Question Is, Will the Obama Administration Approve the Deal? Comcast's Ace in the Hole

The $45 billion question this Valentine's Day is whether or not the Obama administration will approve Comcast's same-sex marriage to Time Warner Cable.

"The companies say they expect to close the merger by the end of the year, but they first will have to survive what is sure to be a brutal regulatory review, and opponents are already pressing the Obama administration to block it entirely," reports the Washington, D.C.-based National Journal.

The story continues, "The Justice Department's Antitrust Division will examine whether the merger would inappropriately limit competition, while the Federal Communications Commission has a broad mandate to block any deals that aren't in the public interest."

The article also says: "Consumer-advocacy groups are already organizing their campaign to try to kill the deal.

"'Comcast cannot be allowed to purchase Time Warner Cable. Antitrust authorities and the FCC must stop it,' John Bergmayer, senior staff attorney for Public Knowledge, said in a statement. He claimed that Comcast, which already owns Universal and NBC, would become a 'bully in the schoolyard,' able to dictate terms to other companies and hike prices on consumers. 'TV viewers, Internet users, and everyone who depends on a well-functioning communications marketplace would not benefit from an even more powerful Comcast,' Bergmayer said."

The National Journal also notes: "The FCC and the Justice Department declined to comment on the deal Thursday. But Ajit Pai, a Republican FCC commissioner, predicted in December that a Comcast-Time Warner merger would face regulatory opposition. 'The Obama administration has applied greater scrutiny to proposed mergers and acquisitions,' Pai told The Wall Street Journal. 'Precedents like this suggest an outright acquisition by Comcast of Time Warner Cable could face a number of hurdles in the Obama administration.'"

A number of media reports say Comcast can take steps that will appease regulators, such as embracing net neutrality.

Comcast and Time Warner Cable, of course, are bullish on the deal, the National Journal article says: "The two companies argue that their merger would not harm competition because there is no overlap between their systems. 'We do believe this transaction will bring real pro-consumer benefits. It's pro-competitive, strongly in the public interest, and we believe approvable,' Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said on a conference call with reporters."

Finally, the story notes that Comcast may have an ace in the hole that can help ensure the deal's approval: "Comcast has deep ties to the Obama administration that may prove useful. David Cohen, who oversees Comcast's lobbying team, was one of Obama's top bundlers and held a fundraiser for him at his home in Philadelphia in 2011. At the event, Obama thanked Cohen and his wife for being 'such great friends for so many years.'"

A separate National Journal article reports: "Comcast counts more than 100 lobbyists at its disposal. Among them is Meredith Attwell Baker, a former member of the Federal Communications Commission, who left that post to join Comcast four months after voting to approve a merger between Comcast and NBC Universal in 2011.

"The 2013 combined lobbying outlays of Time Warner and Comcast would rank fourth in the nation -- behind only the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Realtors, and Blue Cross Blue Shield."

brian roberts 2.jpgComcast CEO Brian Roberts is bullish on the chances
a Time Warner Cable purchase will be approved

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Without a Doubt He Was One of the Greatest TV Dads Ever. Most Notably, He Was John-Boy's Dad on 'The Waltons.' Most Recently He Played Mark Harmon's Dad on 'NCIS.' Ralph Waite Dies at 85

"In 2004," according to The New York Times, "a poll of TV Guide readers of the '50 Greatest Dads of All Time' rated him No. 3, behind only Dr. Cliff Huxtable on 'The Cosby Show' and Ben Cartwright on 'Bonanza.'"

He is John Sr., John-Boy's dad on the 1970s TV mega-hit "The Waltons." John Sr. was played by Ralph Waite. Waite, 85, who lived in Palm Springs, Calif., died yesterday, Feb. 13, 2014, The Times reports. The cause of death was not reported.

Ralph Waite.pngRalph Waite as John Sr. on "The Waltons"

The story says: "The success of 'The Waltons' owed almost everything to the actors and the characters they played, members of a homespun, hardscrabble rural family used to surmounting challenges through the old-fashioned virtues. The foremost was John Jr., or 'John-Boy,' the oldest of seven children. John-Boy, played by Richard Thomas, was a serious young man with a passion to be a writer.

Almost as significant was Mr. Waite’s role as John’s father, John Sr., the family patriarch who combined wisdom, goodness, courage and a bit of a temper. He did not approve of hunting animals for sport, but hunted to put food on his hard-pressed family’s table. Though he shunned organized religion, his wife, Olivia [played by Michael Learned], called him 'the most God-fearing man I know.'"

Adds The Times, "The viewing public lapped it up."

Upon hearing of Waite's death, The Times reports that Learned said, “Ralph was a good honest actor and a good honest man. He was my spiritual husband. We loved each other for over 40 years. He died a working actor at the top of his game.”

The obituary notes, "As an actor, he ranged from Shakespeare to Beckett, from Broadway to soap operas, most notably as Father Matt on 'Days of Our Lives.' One of his two Emmy nominations was for playing Slater, the first mate of a slave ship in the 'Roots' miniseries, in 1977, a glaring contrast to the broad-minded John Walton. (The other Emmy nomination was for 'The Waltons.')"

The Times report adds: "'The Waltons' was only one aspect of Mr. Waite’s far-flung life, although it is the reason that excited strangers hailed him in airports. He was a Marine, a social worker, an ordained Presbyterian minister who served two congregations, a book editor and a three-time Democratic candidate for Congress from California."

The story adds, "Mr. Waite’s first marriage ended in divorce, as did his second to Kerry Shear. In 1984, he married Linda East, who survives him. He is also survived by two daughters from his first marriage."

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'Idol' Unable to Keep Pace Against Olympics; ABC Show Hits Low

Fox's "American Idol" took a ratings hit Wednesday night by going up against NBC's Olympics coverage, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the two-hour singing competition was down a half-point in the demo from a week ago, sinking to a 3.4 average.

NBC's prime-time coverage of the Sochi Winter Games, meanwhile, delivered a 5.6 average in viewers 18-49 as the Peacock Network rolled to another big win for the night.

ABC put up just one fresh program in prime time, "Super Fun Night," which fell two-tenths from last week in the 18-49 demo to a 1.3 average, equaling its series low.

CBS settled for repeat programming, including a re-airing of "The Beatles: The Night That Changed America -- A Grammy Salute," which managed only a 0.9 average in 18-49.

When the dust settled, NBC had a 5.6 for prime time overall in the 18-49 demo, topping Fox (3.4 average), ABC (1.2), Univision (1.1) and CBS (0.9). NBC's advantage in total viewers was even more impressive, with an average of 20.8 million to lead Fox (11.4 million), CBS (5.0 million), ABC (3.6 million) and Univision (2.9 million).

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Local Texas TV Sports Anchor's Commentary About Football Player Michael Sam Coming Out as Gay Becomes a Viral Video With Almost 2 Million Views in Three Days

A sports commentary on a newscast originally broadcast on Gannett's WFAA-TV in Dallas has gone viral on the Internet, with almost 2 million views in three days.

The commentary is about football player Michael Sam, who recently came out as gay. If he becomes a player in the National Football League, as expected, he will be the first openly gay player in the NFL.

The commentary, below, is by WFAA sports anchor Dale Hansen. Hansen told The Huffington Post, via email, "I honestly didn't think it was going to be that big a deal."

The Huffington Post adds, "When asked for his thought process on taking such a firm stance and then broadcasting it, Hansen responded thus: 'I write only what I believe -- and I simply believe what I wrote. Seems like common sense to me -- nothing more or less.'"

If you are a subscriber to TVWeek's daily Viral Video e-newsletter you would have already received a copy of this video. To become a subscriber -- which is free -- please click here.

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David Fincher Follows Up 'House of Cards' With HBO Project

After a wildly successful launch for "House of Cards" on Netflix, David Fincher is working with HBO on his next project. Deadline.com reports that the project is an American adaptation of the British series “Utopia."

Fincher is slated to direct the HBO version of the thriller, which will be written by “Gone Girl” writer Gillian Flynn, the story says. Fincher also directed the film version of Flynn’s best-selling novel, which is slated to be released later this year.

“Utopia” is about fans of a graphic novel who are wrapped up in their own real-life thriller after finding out that the author wrote a sequel. The fans get locked in a conspiracy as they find out that it’s not merely a book, the story says.

Flynn’s work on the project is part of an overall deal she has with HBO.

“Utopia” aired in the U.K. on Channel 4 in 2013 and has been picked up for a second season.

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CW Picks Up Five Series

The CW has announced early pickups for five series. B&C reports that the broadcast network announced renewals for dramas "Arrow," "Reign," "The Originals," "The Vampire Diaries" and "Supernatural."

Said CW President Mark Pedowitz: “This season we've had great success with our new hit series 'The Originals' paired with 'Supernatural,' giving us our best Tuesday nights in years. 'The Vampire Diaries' is #2 in its time period in the young adult demos, and with 'Arrow' continuing to gain among young men, and 'Reign' growing its time period, we now have strong nights on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday."

The B&C report adds: "In the most current Nielsen ratings (live-plus-seven for the season with live-plus same day for the most recent episode), 'Arrow' is averaging a 1.5 among adults 18-49 and a 1.3 in the network's target 18-34 demo; 'The Originals' is averaging a 1.5 and 1.4; 'Reign' is averaging a 0.9 and 0.7; 'Supernatural' is averaging a 1.5 and 1.4; and 'The Vampire Diaries' is averaging a 1.8 in both demos."

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Animated Series From 'Community' Creator Gets Another Season

An animated program from "Community" creator and executive producer Dan Harmon has been picked up for another season. TheWrap.com reports that Adult Swim will bring back “Rick and Morty” for season two.

The series is about a “sociopathic scientist and his unintelligent grandson,” the story notes. Among the voice actors are “Scrubs” alumna Sarah Chalke and series co-creator Justin Roiland.

“I am excited to make as much ‘Rick and Morty’ as Adult Swim allows, and I’m relieved to be in a time slot of no strategic value to CBS,” executive producer Harmon said of the renewal.

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The Passing of TV Pioneer Sid Caesar This Week Reminds Us That If It Weren't for Caesar We Would Never Have Gotten One of the Best Sitcoms Ever on TV, 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'

By Chuck Ross

The death of TV comic-actor pioneer Sid Caesar reminds us that without Caesar there most likely would never have been a "Dick Van Dyke Show."

"The Dick Van Dyke Show" starred Van Dyke as a TV show writer with a tyranical boss, Alan Brady. Brady was played by Carl Reiner, who created the series. Reiner was a onetime TV writer for Sid Caesar and "Your Show of Shows" that starred Caesar.

Here's a video on an interview Reiner once gave for the Academy of TV Arts and Sciences at EmmyLegends.org about how he came to create and write the show "Head of the Family," which eventually became "The Dick Van Dyke Show."

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On the Scene at aTVfest in Atlanta: A Digital Media Experience -- The Secrets Behind 'Curb Your Enthusiasm,' ' CeeLo Green's The Good Life' ... and Much More

The Savannah College of Art and Design presented its second aTVfest: A Digital Media Experience Feb. 6-8, with screenings, panels, Q&As and parties at venues throughout Atlanta's Midtown area. The event drew a high-powered crowd that included hometown hero CeeLo Green and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Real Husbands of Hollywood" executive producer Tim Gibbons.

TVWeek Open Mic writer Hillary Atkin was on hand and filed a report filled with insider secrets. For insights into the thinking behind "Curb" and more, please click here to read Hillary's report.

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Lifetime Pulling the Plug on Series

A series that has been a fixture on Lifetime is coming to an end. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the cable channel announced plans to wrap the dramedy "Drop Dead Diva" after its upcoming sixth season.

The show, from Josh Berman ("Bones," "CSI"), was canceled for a short time after its fourth season, but was brought back to life after Lifetime and producer Sony Pictures TV crunched the numbers -- including solid ratings for season four -- and found a way to make it work.

"Diva's" sixth and final season will launch in March.

"The Brooke Elliott-starrer about an aspiring model killed in a car crash and brought to life as a lawyer will kick off its final season with a two-hour premiere event on Sunday, March 23, at 9 p.m.," THR reports. "Co-star Margaret Cho will be joined by a roster of guest stars for the final run, including Rick Springfield, S. Epatha Merkerson, John Ratzenberger, Corbin Bleu, Colin Egglesfield, Virginia Williams and Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts."

The show averaged 1.99 million total viewers during season five, down from 2.3 million for season four -- and well below the 2.84 million average of season one, the piece notes.

The report adds: "During its run, the series has won multiple GLAAD Awards as well as the Gracie Award for Individual Achievement by a female rising star for Elliott. Last month, she was nominated for another GLAAD Award in the individual episodic category. The series has also picked up nominations for Prism Awards, NAACP Image Awards and was a contender for the Humanitas Prize."

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Report: 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians' Is Losing a Key Family Member

A key player on the E! reality show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” is reportedly quitting the show. TMZ.com reports that Bruce Jenner is exiting the series as part of his goal to have nothing to do with Hollywood.

Season nine of the show, which is currently airing and is believed to be the final season, now includes Jenner's reluctant involvement. But he doesn’t want to be included if the show is picked up for another season, the story reports.

Jenner wants to spend his time with his children, without the cameras taping, as well as flying helicopters and riding motorcycles, the story says.

"Our sources say his kids have become a real priority -- Bruce wants to cement the relationship with his sons that he never had when they were growing up," the piece reports. "The relationship is much better than it was but he wants to continue to strengthen it."

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Paula Deen Whips Up a $75 Million Deal to Revive Her Career

Paula Deen has a $75 million plan in the works to get her career back. The Associated Press reports that the TV chef has received a cash infusion of at least $75 million from a private investment firm, with the money earmarked for reviving her career.

Private equity firm Najafi Companies is investing $75 million to $100 million to create a new company called Paula Deen Ventures, which will oversee her media efforts, restaurants, cookbooks and product endorsements, the story says.

The investment comes after Deen’s career tanked following her admission in legal proceedings that she had used racial slurs in the past. The Food Network dropped her show, and she lost several endorsement deals.

"I know this is the right decision to lead my team, as we continue to share quality products with my fans -- whose love and support have built my brands," Deen said in a statement.

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Mariah Carey on How 'American Idol' Got It Wrong

Mariah Carey dished about her time on "American Idol" during an appearance on a radio program, saying she was given the wrong job on the Fox singing competition, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s Idol Worship.

The pop diva also said she was blindsided by the addition of a fourth judge, the story reports. She did not mention singer Nicki Minaj by name, but Minaj was the fourth judge -- and the clashes between Minaj and Carey became the stuff of legend.

“What happened was that I was led to believe that I was going to be in a three-panel show, like the traditional way and yet, somehow… well, I won’t get into the legalities,” Carey said during the appearance on the Z100 Morning Zoo radio program.

Carey said she was miscast as a judge on the show. "I should’ve been a mentor on the show and that’s it, she said. "I should’ve been like the Jimmy Iovine -- and we love Jimmy. Jimmy did a great job! He’s a little brutal sometimes and I didn’t always agree with his assessments, but yeah! I mean, Jimmy knows what he’s doing; he’s discovered a lot of great talent."

For the show's current 13th season, "Idol" brought back previous judge Jennifer Lopez to replace Carey and Minaj. Keith Urban returned to the panel and Harry Connick Jr. replaced longtime judge Randy Jackson.

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NBC's Bob Costas Faces Slow Recovery From Eye Infection

NBC Olympics broadcaster Bob Costas is facing a slow recovery from an eye infection that has kept him off the air for two nights in a row, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker.

“It's a slow process," Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Sports Group, told reporters during a Wednesday conference call. "He's very frustrated."

The eye infection worsened over the first few days of the Games, eventually spreading to both eyes. He was replaced Wednesday night, for the second consecutive evening, by “Today” co-host Matt Lauer.

Costas is receiving treatment from Russian doctors, but Lazarus declined to disclose details of his treatment, except to note that he’s keeping his room dark and trying to get better.

"We're hopeful Bob will be back in the chair soon," Lazarus said. "We're taking it day by day."

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Emmy-Winning Writer-Producer Dead at 80

A veteran television writer and producer who was a three-time Primetime Emmy nominee and won an Emmy in 1981 has died. Variety reports that Eric Bercovici, who shared the Emmy for outstanding limited series for the 1980 NBC miniseries “Shogun” with author James Clavell, died Sunday at his Honolulu home. He was 80.

With Clavell, Bercovici also wrote the 1988 NBC miniseries “Noble House.” Bercovici also wrote and produced the 1977 ABC miniseries “Washington: Behind Closed Doors,’ which earned him an Emmy nomination.

“He supported me and fought all the battles behind the scenes while I was making the film," said Jerry London, the director of “Shogun,” after learning of Bercovici's death.

He also worked on films, including writing the 1968 movie “Hell in the Pacific,” about an American and Japanese soldier trapped on the same island during World War II, the story notes.

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Network Asking $500,000 for Ad Time in Sitcom's Final Episode

A sitcom that is winding down after a long and highly successful run wants advertisers to shell out $500,000 for 30 seconds of ad time in the finale. Writing in Variety, Brian Steinberg reports that's the price being asked for spots in the final episode of CBS's “How I Met Your Mother."

“Talk about an Eye-popping number,” Steinberg writes.

The show, which stars Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Segel and Josh Radnor, is wrapping after a nine-season run, with the finale set to air March 31.

Citing sources familiar with the negotiations, Steinberg adds: “Not everyone will pay that sum. Advertisers who bought the program during last year’s ‘upfront’ market, when networks seek to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the fall season, were able to secure ad berths in the finale for between $300,000 and $350,000."

The price that CBS is seeking represents a considerable bump up from the show’s regular ad pricing, with the average 30-second spot going for $169,364 during the 2013-14 season, the story notes.

Only a “handful” of ad slots are still available in the finale, CBS Executive Vice President of Sales Chris Simon told the publication.

“People are paying for the expectation of a great audience delivery, and they want to be part of something everyone talks about the next day,” Dean Kaplan, exec vice president of sales strategy, planning and administration at the network, told Variety.

It’s not the most expensive ad time for a series finale, however. Commercial time in the finale of NBC's “Seinfeld” fetched as much as $1.8 million, while NBC's “Friends” went for between $1.5 million and $2.3 million, the story adds.

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Netflix Rescues Animated Series, Will Run Sixth and Final Season

Netflix is stepping in to televise a final season of an animated series that was previously canceled. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the streaming service will air a sixth and final season of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” which was canceled last year.

As previously reported, the Cartoon Network show appeared to be finished after Lucasfilm said it was ending production. The decision came after Lucasfilm was bought by Disney and plans began to unfold for a new “Star Wars” film trilogy.

But Netflix will stream a 13-episode final season of the series, debuting March 7. Called “The Lost Missions,” the show will reveal secrets and test its characters, the story says.

“This marks the first time any ‘Star Wars’ content has been available on Netflix,” Andreeva writes. “It also expands the fast-growing relationship between Netflix and Lucasfilm parent Disney. A year ago, the two companies signed a groundbreaking output movie deal, the first time a major movie studio had chosen streaming vs. pay cable for its features.”

Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos added: “‘The Clone Wars’ marks an important moment as Netflix welcomes more and more first-run content from The Walt Disney Company and its subsidiaries."

Netflix also recently revived the canceled series “Arrested Development,” as well as “The Killing.”

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Fox Orders Series Starring 'Saturday Night Live' Alum

Fox has ordered a comedy series created by and starring a former “Saturday Night Live” cast member. Deadline.com reports that the show is “Last Man on Earth,” from 'SNL' alum Will Forte.

The show is executive produced by Forte and Phil Lord and Chris Miller of “The Lego Movie,” as well as Seth Cohen. Lord and Miller will direct the pilot.

“The project is part of Fox Chairman Kevin Reilly’s plan to bypass pilot season, go straight to series and cast projects outside of the traditional January-April pilot cycle,” the piece notes.

Fox bought the project last fall in a bidding war, although Forte wasn’t slated to star at the time. The project stars Forte as the last human on Earth, the piece adds.

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Fox Business Network Developing Alternative Series

Fox Business Network has announced plans for an alternative program for prime time. TVNewser reports that FBN is developing an original half-hour documentary show called “Strange Inheritance,” which will air in prime time later this year.

The show is about the real-life stories of people receiving unconventional inheritances, the story says. Towers Productions will produce the project, with Fox Business Network director of special programming Brian Gaffney overseeing it.

In a statement, Fox Business Network Executive Vice President Kevin Magee said: “A venture like ‘Strange Inheritance’ helps us diversify our prime-time programming. Its eccentric premise is a compelling option for a business audience after hours.”

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One of Baseball's Biggest Stars Announces He's Retiring

A veteran Major League Baseball player who is one of the top stars in the sport is calling it quits. The New York Times reports that Derek Jeter, the “redoubtable” shortstop for the Yankees, called the team’s majority owner, Hal Steinbrenner, on Wednesday to tell him he would be retiring at the end of the 2014 season.

“Steinbrenner, still in New York, having attended the inaugural news conference for pitcher Masahiro Tanaka on Tuesday, was about to board a plane to return to Tampa. But before he could, Jeter, 39, gave him the news that neither Steinbrenner nor any other member of the club’s front office had seen coming,” the story reports.

Jeter then made his decision public in a statement on Facebook.

“I’ve experienced so many defining moments in my career,” Jeter wrote. “Winning the World Series as a rookie shortstop, being named the Yankees’ captain, closing the old and opening the new Yankee Stadium. Through it all, I’ve never stopped chasing the next one. I want to finally stop the chase and take in the world.”

The article notes that Jeter was admired both by fans of the Yankees and by those who follow rival teams. Baseball fans were “deeply respectful of the way Jeter has consistently played through minor injuries, conducted himself in a way that did not embarrass his team and come through in big moments more times than anyone could possibly remember,” the Times notes.

derek jeter.pngDerek Jeter

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Comcast, the Nation's No. 1 MSO, Will Buy Time Warner Cable, the No. 2 MSO in the Country, in an All-Stock Deal Valued at $45.2 Billion, Report Says

Comcast, the nation's No. 1 ranked MSO, with about 22 million basic TV subscribers, is buying Time Warner Cable, the nation's No. 2 ranked MSO, with about 11 million basic TV subscribers, according to a number of media reports.

The story about the deal in the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog says the acquisition -- expected to be announced later today, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 -- is valued at $45.2 billion.

The story continues by noting that if approved, the deal "would create a video and Internet juggernaut with 30 million subscribers and operations in some of the country's biggest markets, including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

"Besides its cable and Internet operations, Comcast also is the parent of NBCUniversal, which owns the NBC broadcast network, Universal Studios and several popular cable channels, including CNBC, MSNBC and USA Network. Time Warner Cable also has been expanding into programming and owns two sports channels in Los Angeles."

As for the details of the transaction, the Times article, by Meg James and Joe Flint, says: "Comcast would pay $158.82 a share for Time Warner Cable, a nearly 18% premium over the company's latest stock price. Time Warner Cable shares closed Wednesday at $135.31. Comcast has offered 2.875 shares of its stock for each share of Time Warner Cable in the all-stock transaction."

Bloomberg's story about the deal says: "Comcast Chief Executive Officer Brian Roberts will extend his lead in the U.S. cable-TV market after trouncing John Malone-backed Charter Communications Inc., which had courted Time Warner Cable since June. Holding out for a better offer than Charter’s $132.50-a-share bid allowed Time Warner Cable to deliver an almost 70 percent gain for shareholders since the end of May."

The Bloomberg story also notes: "The Comcast-Time Warner agreement caught Charter by surprise, people familiar with the matter said. Comcast and Charter had been negotiating an asset sale after a potential Charter acquisition of Time Warner Cable, according to the people.

"Those talks broke down last week, culminating in a meeting where Comcast Chief Financial Officer Michael Angelakis stormed out and threatened to do a deal for Time Warner Cable without Charter’s help, the people said."

A number of stories said that under the terms of the deal Comcast would sell off about 3 million subs, to make sure it has no more than 30 million subscribers, which equates to a national footprint of about 30 percent of the country. The L.A. Times article adds: "The 30 percent benchmark was the previous Federal Communications Commission (FCC) cap on cable ownership until a federal court tossed out that rule in 2009."

The Bloomberg story makes two additional observations:

"Comcast has made $65.6 billion of acquisitions over the past 10 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It acquired the remainder of NBCUniversal from General Electric Co. for $16.7 billion in March, following through on the cable company’s purchase of a controlling stake in 2011.

"A tie-up between Comcast and Time Warner Cable would face tough scrutiny from the FCC, Craig Moffett, an analyst at MoffettNathanson LLC, said in an interview in January. The merged company would account for almost three-quarters of the cable industry, according to the National Cable Television Association."

In terms of the size of pay TV distributors if the deal goes through, after Comcast with its 30 million subs, DirecTV would be next, with about 20 million subs, followed by Dish with about 14 million subs, and then Verizon and Cox Communications, each with just under 5 million subs.

We urge you to click on the links above to both the L.A. Times and Bloomberg stories to read more details about this deal.

The deal was first reported by Comcast's CNBC.

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Actress Who Has Scored Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe Nominations Gets Cop Role in New ABC Series

An actress who has been nominated for an Oscar, an Emmy and a Golden Globe has been signed to star in an upcoming series on ABC.

"Juliette Lewis will star opposite fellow big screen thesp Ryan Phillippe in the ABC drama series ['Secrets & Lies'], TVLine has learned," reports our good friend -- and former TVWeeker -- Vlada Gelman, in a scoop.

Gelman adds, "The project -- which already has a 10-episode order -- is about a family man (Phillippe) who finds the body of a young boy and quickly becomes the prime murder suspect. He has no choice but to try to find the real killer as his marriage, his kids, his reputation and his sanity are all at stake. Lewis will play Detective Cornell."

Lewis was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in the 1991 movie "Cape Fear." She was also nominated for a Golden Globe for that performance.

Lewis received a nomination for an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for her role in "Hysterical Blindness" (2002).

juliette lewis 3.jpgJuliette Lewis

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One of the Stars Who Helped Popularize TV in Its Early Days Dies at 91

A television pioneer who was one of the medium's first stars and is widely thought of as one of the kings of comedy has died. People magazine reports that Sid Caesar, whose "Your Show of Shows" helped establish TV as a viable source of entertainment, died today at 91.

"With a deceptively simple philosophy of humor -- 'I don't take myself too seriously, he told PEOPLE in 1989. 'I just laugh at myself a lot and call myself a dummy' -- Isaac Sidney Caesar had been eliciting laughs since the Great Depression, when he mimicked the accents of customers who came into his Russian-Jewish parents' luncheonette in his native Yonkers, N.Y.," the story reports.

"Trained as a teenage saxophonist in the Catskill Mountains' 'Borscht Belt' (so named because the beet soup was a favorite among immigrant and first-generation American resort patrons), Caesar also honed his comic craft as a Catskills tummler, a sort of on-premises master emcee who kept the hard-to-please guests entertained throughout the day."

But it was on television where Caesar made his greatest impact.

"To say Caesar caused a sensation on TV is to understate the case," People reports. "For eight years, beginning in 1950, he delighted America each week with a crazy salad of skits, pantomime and gentle satire. 'Your Show of Shows,' which Caesar helped script, produced such stellar comedy writers as Larry Gelbart, Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen and Neil Simon and also made a star out of his madcap sidekick, the incomparable Imogene Coca."

Here's a sample of Sid Caesar in action -- a health food restaurant skit in which he co-stars with Imogene Coca, which also features Carl Reiner:

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Prime Time Sinks on Other Broadcast Nets as NBC's Olympics Coverage Builds Momentum

NBC's prime-time coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, blew away the network's broadcast competition Tuesday night and posted gains on the previous Winter Games, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that most of the fresh programming on rival broadcast nets came in at series lows, as NBC's Olympics rolled to a 6.6 average rating in viewers 18-49 from 8-11 p.m. -- up from a 5.5 for the sixth night of the 2010 Olympics.

Fox was the only other big four network to put up a slate of original programs, and it took a beating. Back-to-back installments of "Dads" wrapped up the series' run on the network with a 1.2 average in 18-49 for the 8 p.m. episode, down three-tenths of a point from last week, and a grim 1.0 for the series finale.

Fox's "New Girl" fell three-tenths from last week to a series-low 1.3 average in the 18-49 demo, and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" was off two-tenths to a series-low 1.2.

CBS opted not to compete, airing a lineup of drama repeats and settling for a fourth-place overall finish, behind Univision but ahead of ABC.

ABC aired only one original program, "Killer Women," which equaled its series low from last week, a 0.7 in adults 18-49.

The numbers for prime time overall show NBC with a huge lead -- a 6.6 average in viewers 18-49, well ahead of Fox and Univision (both with 1.2 averages), CBS (1.1) and ABC (0.8). Total viewers finds a similar picture, with NBC averaging 23.7 million to trounce CBS (7.8 million), Univision (3.1 million), ABC (3.0 million) and Fox (2.8 million).

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Philip Seymour Hoffman Reportedly 'Trapped in Love Triangle' Before he Died

The late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was "trapped in a love triangle" before he died, reports The New York Post in what the newspaper claims is an exclusive story for its famous Page Six.

"The Oscar winner was 'caught in between' his relationship with longtime girlfriend Mimi O’Donnell and a woman with whom he had recently hooked up, according to his journals, law-enforcement sources told The Post [yesterday, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014]" the story reports. The article did not name the other woman, and does not say whether Hoffman names her in his diary/journal entries.

The Post story says: "Hoffman implied that his new gal pal was one reason O’Donnell -- the mother of his three young children -- might have bounced him from their Jane Street pad about three months ago, sources said."

The story adds, "O’Donnell also didn’t want the drug-addled Hoffman living with her and their kids while he was still using, sources have said. She hoped the tough love would make him get clean faster."

The story says Hoffman also wrote that he was "ashamed" for having fallen off the wagon after being sober for many years.

Thumbnail image for philip seymour hoffman2.jpgPhilip Seymour Hoffman

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Key USA Series in Limbo as Talks Stall

The fate of a "signature" USA Network series is hanging in the balance with talks at an impasse between the cable channel and the show's producer, Fox TV Studios. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that renewal talks for “White Collar” have stalled out, with “no meaningful dialogue so far."

Usually the show would be deep in pre-production by now, with filming to start in March. "But not this year," Andreeva writes. "It’s already mid-February, and there is still no decision on the future of the buddy crime drama whose most recent fifth season ended two weeks ago."

The season ended in a cliffhanger, which makes one “assume that there will be some sort of continuation, likely a conclusion for the series," Andreeva notes. "The question is what that sixth and final installment will be."

Andreeva adds: “I hear the network has been mulling a short miniseries to wrap the story in the vein of Showtime’s ‘The Big C,’ while the studio would prefer a traditional final season. ‘While Collar's' status as one of USA’s signature series would weigh in favor of the second option.”

Other top USA shows such as “Monk” and “Psych” have received a “proper send-off with a final season,” the report notes, although “White Collar” was hurt by its move to fall for the first time. Still, ratings improved in January when it aired the conclusion of the fifth season.

“With ratings still solid, the focus turns to the show’s economics and creative vitality." Andreeva writes. "At this point in the run of a series, a network is responsible for the full production cost.”

The report notes: “With a well-known cast and extensive location shoots in New York, ‘White Collar’ is an expensive show. What’s more, it is not owned by USA. USA parent NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment has made owning content a priority with the appointments of Jeff Wachtel and Dawn Olmstead to spearhead in-house production efforts.”

Fox TV Studios is reportedly willing to share some of the cost of a final season, including a lower license fee, the story reports, adding that taking on the cost of a new season might not make a lot of sense for USA.

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Study Finds Hollywood 'Woefully Out of Touch With an Emerging America'

A new study on diversity in film and television finds that Hollywood's idea of diversity doesn't match reality. The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that the study from UCLA finds minorities and women remain far underrepresented.

"Hollywood still isn't reflecting the nation's diversity in its entertainment products, and that omission is costing the industry considerable amounts in lost revenues," the story reports. "That's the main conclusion of a comprehensive report about diversity in the film and TV industry released Wednesday by UCLA's Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies."

The study, "2014 Hollywood Diversity Report: Making Sense of the Disconnect," analyzed more than 1,000 television shows from the 2011-2012 season, airing across 68 different cable and broadcast networks, and 172 American-made movies in 2011.

Minorities represented just 11% of the roles in the 172 movies, while non-white minorities make up about 36% of the general population, the study found.

"The fact is that America is becoming more and more diverse, but the Hollywood industry hasn't kept up," center director Darnell Hunt, the lead author of the report, said. "There's been a little progress, but it's been at a glacial pace. Hollywood is woefully out of touch with an emerging America."

Referring to executives at Hollywood studios and TV networks, Hunt said: "They don't see diversity as being good for the marketplace. They only address it when there's protest and the cage is rattled."

The report adds: "The failure of Hollywood to accurately mirror the nation's multicultural nature is putting a major dent in potential box office and ratings, added Hunt. Audiences tend to gravitate toward films and TV series that feature diversity, which translate into higher profits for networks and studios."

UCLA Prof. Darnell Hunt.jpgDarnell Hunt

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Eye Infection Sidelines NBC Sports Fixture at Olympics

A worsening eye infection has forced one of the regulars on the NBC Sports team to sit out coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The Associated Press reports that Bob Costas missed NBC’s prime-time coverage of the Games Tuesday’s because of the infection.

Costas was expected to be out of the lineup again tonight, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, according to another AP story.

Matt Lauer of "Today” filled in Tuesday for Costas, after telling viewers that Costas “looked a little like a loser in a prize fight.” Costas said he couldn’t continue to host because his eyes were blurry, watery and sensitive to light. He told “Today” by telephone: "I'm walking around, I might as well be playing 'Marco Polo.’”

Lauer is expected to fill in for Costas tonight as well.

Costas’ eye infection “seemingly got worse by night when people tuned in to watch the Winter Olympics on NBC,” writes Tim Goodman in The Hollywood Reporter. “First it was his left eye, then it spread to the right and escalated hour by hour. Pink, red, watery, glassy -- and painful looking. Costas couldn't wear contact lenses, so he wore eye glasses. That seemed to magnify the effect his eyes were having on viewers -- which was, actually, kind of grossly mesmerizing.”

Goodman adds: “Two things are important here: 1) that Costas get well and 2) that he hurry back.”

Here's a clip of the "Today" gang discussing the situation with Costas:

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Tom Brokaw Diagnosed with Cancer

Longtime NBC newsman Tom Brokaw, 74, has been diagnosed with the cancer multiple myeloma, reports the Associated Press.

According to the website WebMD: "Multiple myeloma is a blood disorder related to lymphoma and leukemia, because it usually arises in the bone marrow. There is no cure for multiple myeloma, but treatments are available that slow its progression."

WebMD adds: "Even the best prediction system cannot say how long an individual person will live with the disease. Most people with multiple myeloma will live for years after their diagnosis."

The AP story says that, according to NBC News, Brokaw's "doctors are optimistic about his treatment and encouraged by his progress since the August diagnosis." The diagnosis was made by the Mayo Clinic, the story notes.

In a statement, Brokaw said he is still “the luckiest guy I know” and is “very optimistic about the future and look forward to continuing my life, my work and adventures still to come," according to the AP.

Brokaw was NBC's primary news personality from 1982 to 2004, when he was the anchor and managing editor of the "NBC Nightly News."

He has worked on projects during his treatment, and during the Winter Olympics he is contributing to NBC Sports coverage, the story reports. He added that he wants to keep his health a private matter, the AP piece notes.

Here's a video of CNN's Anderson Cooper discussing Brokaw's condition with CNN's chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, who is a medical doctor specializing in neurosurgery.

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Will Comedian Behind 'Dumb Starbucks' Get Jail Time?

The star of a Comedy Central series reportedly faces the possibility of jail time in connection with setting up a coffee shop that was a parody of Starbucks. The shop, Dumb Starbucks, drew crowds to its Los Angeles location, as we reported this week.

Appearing on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” Nathan Fielder said he learned that the penalty for operating a coffee shop without a health permit is up to six months in jail, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Fielder, the star of the Comedy Central series “Nathan for You,” opened the shop to tape segments for his program.

"Yesterday I did a press conference to talk to the media. Meanwhile -- and this is totally real -- the health department came at that exact moment and shut us down for selling coffee without a health permit," Fielder said.

He added, “We have to deal with the health board right now; we had to meet with them today. I really just found this out that the penalty is up to six months in jail -- so we are trying to be very nice to them."

Fielder said he’s interested in expanding his shop to a second location in Brooklyn -- after dealing with legal issues.

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Golden Globe-Nominated Actress to Star in CBS's 'How I Met Your Dad'

A Golden Globe-nominated actress has landed one of the most high-profile comedy roles among the current crop. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that CBS cast Greta Gerwig, a Golden Globe nominee for her role in the feature “Frances Ha,” as the star of its “How I Met Your Mother” spinoff “How I Met Your Dad."

Gerwig will also be credited as a producer, and is expected to write if the project moves to series, the story adds.

Gerwig’s character, Sally, is described as a female Peter Pan who realizes she doesn’t have anything in common with her new husband, although she doesn’t know where she’s going in life, the story says.

The piece adds: “A breakup is inevitable, but Sally will find a solid circle of support in her friends and family, who often are too willing to give ‘good’ advice that can backfire badly. Meanwhile, Sally must filter out the input and decide what's best for her.”

Gerwig has made a mark in indie films both in front of and behind the camera, notably in the mumblecore subgenre. Among her credits, she co-wrote "Frances Ha," co-directed "Nights and Weekends" and was one of the stars of Russell Brand's 2011 "Arthur" remake. She also appeared in the Natalie Portman-Ashton Kutcher film "No Strings Attached."

greta gerwig.jpgGreta Gerwig

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Veteran Tony Awards Host to Return -- and No, It Won't Be Neil Patrick Harris This Year

Regular viewers of the Tony Awards have gotten used to seeing Neil Patrick Harris host the ceremony, with the "How I Met Your Mother" actor and onetime "Doogie Howser, M.D." star hosting four of the past five Tonys -- including the past three. But his streak will be broken this year, with another frequent Tonys host, Hugh Jackman, returning to the job.

EW.com's Inside TV reports that Jackman will be hosting for the fourth time, having previously hosted from 2003-2005 and winning an Emmy for his 2004 telecast.

Jackman also is a Tony winner himself, receiving the award in 2004 for his role in “The Boy from Oz.” His last Broadway appearance was in 2011’s “Hugh Jackman -- Back on Broadway,” although he’s slated to return in 2015 for “The River.”

In a statement, Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director of The Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, Executive Director of the American Theatre Wing, said: “Hugh is an extraordinary talent and loyal supporter of the Broadway community -- whether he is on-stage or in the audience -- and we are honored to have him back as host."

The 68th Tony Awards are set for June 8, 2014, with CBS carrying the ceremony live.

hugh jackman.pngHugh Jackman

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Lifetime Gives Series Order to Thriller That Takes Place at a Time When the Human Race is Facing Extinction

Lifetime has greenlighted a drama series that is described as a dystopian thriller. The cable channel gave a 10-episode order to "The Lottery," from Timothy J. Sexton of "Live From Baghdad" and “Children of Men.”

"The Lottery" is Lifetime's second new scripted series, after the channel ordered “Un-Real” to series earlier this month.

"The Lottery" is about a future in which women stop having children and the human race is facing extinction. When 100 embryos are fertilized, a national lottery is created to choose who the surrogates will be.

Sexton will write and executive produce, along with Dawn Olmstead of “Prison Break.” Grady Girl Productions and Warner Horizon TV are producing.

Please click here to read the press release from Lifetime announcing "The Lottery."

timothy j sexton.pngTimothy J. Sexton

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'Game of Thrones' Actress Replaces Three-Time Emmy Winner in Fox's '24' Reboot

One of the stars of the HBO fantasy series “Game of Thrones” will play a major role on Fox's upcoming "24" project. EW.com’s Inside TV reports that Michelle Fairley will take on the role that was vacated by three-time Emmy winner Judy Davis.

Fairley, who played Catelyn Stark on "Thrones" for three seasons, will take over the role of Margo in "24: Live Another Day." Davis left the production for personal reasons, as we reported earlier this month.

Fairley's character is the British widow of a terrorist. The reboot will bring back Kiefer Sutherland in his role as Jack Bauer, who is exiled from the U.S. but risks his life to avert a global disaster. The project is set and shot in London.

michelle fairley.jpgMichelle Fairley

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Actor Who Played 'The Flash' in the 1990s Joins the Updated Version

The actor who portrayed the Flash in the 1990s CBS series version of the superhero story has reportedly signed on to appear in an updated version that's in the works at the CW.

TheWrap.com reports that actor John Wesley Shipp will be a part of the new project about the speedy superhero.

Shipp’s role is being kept under wraps by the producers, but it will be a recurring guest role if "The Flash" is picked up to series, the story reports.

Shipp’s other TV credits include MTV’s “Teen Wolf” and The WB’s “Dawson’s Creek.”

john wesley shipp.pngJohn Wesley Shipp

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TCM Schedules Shirley Temple Marathon

TCM has scheduled a marathon of films featuring child star Shirley Temple, with a number of her most popular movies lined up for the event. The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that the marathon is set for March 9.

As previously reported, Shirley Temple Black died Monday at age 85. One of the most popular movie stars in America during the Great Depression, she later became a U.S. diplomat.

TCM's March 9 marathon will begin at 1:30 p.m. PT with “Heidi,” which was released in 1937. Other movies include “Bright Eyes,” which features Temple singing “On the Good Ship Lollipop,” and “Stowaway.”

The marathon will also include 1949’s “A Kiss for Corliss,” which was Temple's final starring role and her final film appearance, the piece adds.

shirley temple 2.jpgShirley Temple

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NBC's 'Today' Rides Olympics Back to Mornings' Top Spot

NBC is reaping rewards throughout the day from its coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that one of those rewards has been the return of NBC's "Today" show to the top spot in the morning ratings wars.

"'Today,' which has largely lingered in second place in the morning show ratings war for the better part of the last two years, is already seeing big wins thanks to live coverage from Sochi," THR reports. "Monday brought 'Today's' biggest single-day victories over typically dominant 'Good Morning America' since the 2012 Summer Games in London. With an average 2.678 million adults 25-54, it even bucked Sochi's slightly sagging ratings trend with a 3 percent improvement from the comparable Monday during the Vancouver Olympics."

"Today" beat ABC's "GMA" in the target news demo by 362,000 viewers, the report notes. That was an even bigger margin than in total viewers, where "Today" beat "GMA" by 349,000, averaging 6.293 million viewers -- the best delivery for "Today" since August 2012.

"NBC's last go at the Olympics, in 2012, came at a time when the tide was decisively turning in 'GMA's' favor," the report notes. "Ann Curry had only lost her co-host gig two months prior, and 'Today' was still occasionally winning in the demo. The show topped 'GMA' throughout the two-week run in London, but as soon as Matt Lauer and co. returned to Rockefeller Plaza, 'Today' also ceded its edge to 'GMA.' ABC has been on top, with few exceptions, ever since."

matt lauer-today-sochi.jpg"Today's" Matt Lauer in Sochi, Russia

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Up Against NBC's Olympics, Shows on Rival Nets Sink to Lows

NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, rolled to another huge win in prime time Monday night, as programs on a number of other broadcast nets sank to ratings lows, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that ABC's two-hour "The Bachelor" managed only a 2.3 average in viewers 18-49, losing three-tenths of a ratings point from last week and equaling its season low. The network filled the 10 p.m. slot with a repeat of "Jimmy Kimmel Live," which delivered a 1.0.

On Fox, both "Amost Human" and "The Following" set series lows in the 18-49 demo. "Almost Human" fell four-tenths from a week ago to a 1.5, while "The Following" dipped two-tenths to a 1.7 -- the show's second consecutive week with a new series low.

CBS kept its distance by airing mostly repeats, but a fresh installment of "Intelligence" managed only a 1.3 in adults 18-49 at 10 p.m., falling two-tenths from a week earlier.

NBC's Olympics averaged a 6.4 in 18-49 from 8-11 p.m. -- down from a 7.2 for the comparable night of the 2010 Winter Games. The programming also averaged 22.16 million total viewers.

For prime time overall, NBC's 6.4 average in 18-49 easily topped the broadcast nets, ahead of ABC (1.9 average), Fox (1.6), and CBS and Univision (both at 1.3). Total viewers was just as lopsided, with NBC's 22.2 million leading the way, followed by ABC (6.3 million), CBS (6.0 million), Fox (5.1 million) and Univision (3.2 million).

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Jack Black-Tim Robbins Series Is a Go at HBO

In what's being called a "very quick turnaround," HBO has given a series order to a new project that will star Jack Black and Tim Robbins, Nellie Andreeva reports on Deadline.com.

The project is the comedy "The Brink," from executive producer Jerry Weintraub with Jay Roach directing the pilot.

"Written by former 'Weeds' executive producer Roberto Benabib and his brother Kim Benabib, 'The Brink' is an epic dark comedy focusing on a geopolitical crisis and its effect on three disparate and desperate men: U.S. Secretary of State Walter Hollander (Robbins); Alex Coppins (Black), a lowly Foreign Service officer; and Zeke Callahan (Pablo Schreiber), an ace Navy fighter pilot," Andreeva writes. "These three compromised souls must pull through the chaos around them to save the planet from World War III."

The cast includes Aasif Mandvi, Maribeth Monroe, Geoff Pierson and Esai Morales, and the series is executive produced by Roberto Benabib, Weintraub and Roach, with Kim Benabib and Susie Ekins co-executive producing, the piece notes.

Andreeva adds: "This marks the first HBO series for Weintraub and Roach, who both have deals with the pay cable network and established relationships there. Weintraub executive produced HBO Films’ Emmy-winning movie 'Behind The Candelabra,' while Roach directed and exec produced the Emmy-winning HBO movies 'Game Change' and 'Recount.'"

Thumbnail image for jack black.jpgJack Black

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New CBS Comedy Casts Lead Actress

A new CBS comedy project has its lead actress. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the half-hour pilot "Save the Date" cast "Psych" actress Maggie Lawson as its lead.

The romantic comedy comes from writers Jackie and Jeff Filgo, ABC Studios and CBS TV Studios. "It centers on 35-year-old and newly single Kate (Lawson), who drunkenly books a wedding venue and now is faced with the task of meeting the right man in time," Andreeva writes. "The format of the project is hybrid, in the vein of 'How I Met Your Mother': a multi-camera comedy employing shorter scenes and no live audience."

Lawson is known for her long run as Juliet O’Hara on USA’s "Psych," and starred earlier this season on ABC's "Back In The Game," the report notes.

maggie lawson.jpgMaggie Lawson

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TV Actress Named Most Desirable Woman of 2014 -- and a VERY Familiar Face Comes In Last

A television actress has been named the most desirable woman of 2014 in a new poll, and a familiar media figure landed in last place on the list, the New York Daily News reports.

The most desirable woman of the year is Emilia Clarke, one of the stars of the HBO fantasy series "Game of Thrones." Placing at the bottom of the list is high-profile pop singer Miley Cyrus.

The survey by the publication AskMen names the year's 99 most desirable women, so it's not as though being last on the list -- No. 99 -- is a bad thing. But with all the publicity Cyrus continues to receive for her often controversial antics, it's inevitable that some observers will see her ranking as a kind of statement -- especially given that Cyrus ranked No. 1 on Maxim's Hot 100 list last summer.

The British-born Clarke, 26, plays Daenerys Targaryen on "Thrones."

"Other head-turning ladies that made the AskMen cut include 'Community' star Alison Brie at number two, 'American Hustle' actress Jennifer Lawrence at number four, Beyonce at number 11 and songstress Tayor Swift at number 30," the report notes.

AskMen noted in a press release today: "The Top 99 poll called on readers to elect women who most closely match their ideals, voting on more than just sex appeal and taking into account other criteria such as character, talent and potential for 2014."

emilia clarke.jpgEmilia Clarke

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TNT Pulls Plug on Drama Series

TNT is giving up on a drama series after a short run that failed to live up to ratings hopes. The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that Frank Darabont’s “Mob City” was canceled by the channel, getting his post-“Walking Dead” career “off to a zombie-crawl."

While the period noir drama was slated as a limited series, the project had the potential to continue as a series if it drew enough viewers, the story notes. “But the show failed to make a dent with its December rollout -- its two-hour premiere opened soft, with just over 2 million viewers,” the article says.

“'Mob City' was created as a three-week television event and we are incredibly proud of the six hours we presented of this remarkable drama,” a TNT representative said in a statement. “Although the ratings of the limited series haven’t warranted more hours, we are eager to work with Frank Darabont again and were delighted to bring the vibrant world of 'Mob City' to life.”

Darabont adapted the nonfiction book “L.A. Noir” for the six-episode series, which was set in the 1940s.

The piece notes, “The series was eyed as a redemption of sorts for the writer and producer. It was Darabont's follow-up to AMC's ‘The Walking Dead,’ the cable powerhouse he was unceremoniously booted from as showrunner early in its run.”

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Late-Night Shakeup? 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' Scores a Coup, Snagging a Special Event That Has Been Letterman's Territory

ABC's “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” scored a late-night coup, landing an event that has been associated with CBS's "Late Show with David Letterman" for years.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that "Kimmel" will reveal the 50th anniversary cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, breaking a six-year hold on the annual unveiling of the cover by "Late Show."

“For what it's worth ... ‘Late Show’ is not filming any new episodes this week,” the story notes.

Kimmel will reveal the cover on his Thursday episode, with the cover model appearing on the program Feb. 17. The swimsuit issue will go on sale Feb. 18. Last year’s model was Kate Upton, while previous cover models on the magazine’s annual issue have included Tyra Banks and Cheryl Tiegs.

The story adds: “The news comes at a pivotal time for the changing late-night landscape, which has increasingly become more competitive with Kimmel, David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert among the heavyweights. Jimmy Fallon's impending ‘Tonight Show’ debut takes place Feb. 17, while Seth Meyers' ‘Late Night’ launches the following week.”

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Seth Meyers Names Former 'SNL' Cast Member as His Bandleader for 'Late Night'

The ties between NBC's "Saturday Night Live" and the network's "Late Night" continue to run strong. Seth Meyers is calling up one of his former “SNL" colleagues to helm the band on the show when Meyers takes over later this month.

The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that comedian Fred Armisen will front the group, the 8G Band.

Meyers tweeted a photo of the band, writing, “Fred will curate and lead the band, and continue to run it even when he's off shooting 'Portlandia.'" Meyers' predecessor on "Late Night," Jimmy Fallon, was another "SNL" veteran.

Armisen was on “SNL” with Meyers before Armisen left the show at the end of last season, the story notes. Meyers had his farewell show on "SNL" Feb. 1 and will start on “Late Night” Feb. 24. The show has announced that his first guest will be another former “SNL” cast member, Amy Poehler.

seth meyers-band-fred armisen.pngSeth Meyers' 8G Band, including Meyers, fourth from left, and Fred Armisen, with guitar

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TV Reporter Apologizes for 'Very Amateur Mistake' After Taking a Verbal Beating From Samuel L. Jackson

KTLA-TV reporter Sam Rubin apologized on air to actor Samuel L. Jackson after apparently mixing him up with another well-known actor, Laurence Fishburne, although Rubin hinted that he might have been in the right and that Jackson may have been the one to make an assumption.

As previously reportedly, Jackson kept the heat on Rubin after he made the apparent gaffe, during an agonizing two-minute exchange. (Click here to see video of that exchange.)

According to a transcript of Rubin’s apology, which was posted on the TV station’s website, the reporter said, “We start right now with the beauty and the occasional pain of live television. First and foremost, I do know who Samuel L. Jackson is. I’ve interviewed him several times over the years, but never quite like the conversation we just had.”

He added, “I indicated to Samuel that I’d seen him during the Super Bowl, and he thought that I had confused him with the commercial Laurence Fishburne had done for a car company. Of course a ‘Captain America’ ad had also run during the Super Bowl, but I immediately felt so dumb, I didn’t bring that up -- and he gave me the shellacking that was well deserved.”

Rubin continued, “I pride myself on the fact that, unlike a lot of people who do this kind of work, more often than not, I really do know what I’m talking about. But I didn’t 30 minutes ago, and I’m really embarrassed about it, and I very much apologize to Samuel L. Jackson and anyone else who was offended for what was a very amateur mistake.”

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OWN Settles on a Memoir to Turn Into the Channel's First Scripted TV Movie

OWN has picked a memoir to turn into its first scripted television movie. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the network will adapt “My Name Is Love: The Darlene Love Story."

Darlene Love is a onetime backup singer who was featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary “20 Feet From Stardom.” Love, who wrote the memoir, will also executive produce the OWN project, along with Oprah Winfrey and Morgan Neville.

"The fantastic life journey of music great Darlene Love is the perfect choice for our first original scripted movie," said OWN President Sheri Salata.

She added, “From her first hit song to her darkest days cleaning houses in Beverly Hills to make ends meet, to the triumphant comeback that made rock and roll history, Darlene is a true living legend who worked with many of the greatest talents in music, from Elvis Presley and Tom Jones to Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin and Bruce Springsteen."

Love may be best known for singing the 1962 hit "He's a Rebel," which she recorded with the Crystals. She has also been known for "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home" and other holiday songs since being a part of the seminal Phil Spector Christmas album produced in 1963.

Here's a clip of the Crystals singing "He's a Rebel" back in the early 1960s -- which has the group lip-synching to Love's vocals but reportedly does not include Love on stage (see below for a clip of Love):

Here's a more recent clip of Love performing "He's a Rebel":

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MTV Places Series Order for Scripted Thriller

MTV has placed an order for a new drama series. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel has now "gone 4-for-4, picking up all four of its scripted pilots to series. The latest to get a series nod is thriller drama pilot 'Eye Candy,' which has received an order for 10 episodes."

The pilot will be reshot and the project will undergo extensive cast changes, the piece notes, adding that "Eye Candy" "joins recently picked-up coming of age drama 'Finding Carter,' which has a 12-episode order, and new comedy series 'Faking It' and 'Happyland,' both with 8-episode pickups."

The report adds: "'Eye Candy,' from top genre feature producer Jason Blum, stars Victoria Justice as tech genius Lindy, who begins to suspect that one of her online suitors might be a deadly cyber stalker. When her friends at the cyber-police uncover a potential serial killer in Manhattan, she works with the hackers to solve the murders while unleashing her own style of justice."

Along with Justice, the cast of the "Eye Candy" pilot included Harvey Guillen, Nico Tortorella, Olesya Rulin, Justin Martin and Lilan Bowden. "Of them, only Guillen will stay on alongside Justice, with all other roles recast for a new pilot episode," the story reports.

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Oscar Nominee and Emmy Winner Joins ABC Project

An ABC project has added an Academy Award nominee and Primetime Emmy Award winner to the cast. Deadline.com reports that the network's untitled Anthony Anderson pilot has cast Laurence Fishburne as a recurring character.

The project, formerly called “Black-ish,” is written by Kenya Barris of “The Game” and is roughly based on his personal experiences. The project is about an upper-middle-class black man, played by Anderson, who is struggling with his cultural identity and his own color-blind children, the story says.

Fishburne will play his father, who has an old-fashioned mind-set, the story says.

Fishburne was nominated for an Oscar for best lead actor in 1994 for "What's Love Got to Do With It," and is a six-time Emmy nominee. He won an Emmy in 1993 for outstanding guest actor in a drama series for "Tribeca," and shared in the Emmy for outstanding made for TV movie for "Miss Evers' Boys" in 1997.

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IFC Ups Key Exec, Creates New Post

IFC has announced a key promotion, with the creation of a new executive position. The cable channel promoted its head of marketing, Blake Callaway, to the newly created position of executive VP of marketing and digital media.

Callaway had been senior VP of marketing.

"As part of IFC’s senior leadership team, Callaway oversees all aspects of IFC’s marketing efforts including consumer and industry campaigns, on-and-off-air creative, digital media, and integrated advertiser solutions," the company noted in its announcement. "Callaway reports to IFC’s President and General Manager Jennifer Caserta; he is based in the network’s NYC headquarters."

In the announcement, Caserta said: “Blake has done a tremendous job in heightening buzz around IFC and reaching comedy fans in fun and innovative ways. He has a sharp understanding of viewers’ TV habits and responds with breakthrough promotional efforts that are organic to our brand and align us with partners who ‘get’ the value of what IFC delivers. I’m thrilled to recognize his contributions with this promotion and expanded role.”

Callaway added: “It’s great to be part of building the IFC brand. Our mission to deliver smart ‘slightly off’ original comedies gives the marketing team wide latitude to keep things interesting and on the leading edge. What other network could hire a feminist bookstore employee to live tweet the Super Bowl, host a roller skating party for its upfront, and tap a cool young artist for her take on 'Portlandia'? Ratings and revenue are up and there are great things ahead.”

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

blake callaway.pngBlake Callaway

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Oscar Winner to Direct ABC Pilot

An untitled ABC drama project has an Oscar winner on board to direct the pilot. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Taylor Hackford will direct the untitled pilot from Richard LaGravenese.

The drama is about two powerful socialites who manipulate the people around them as part of their power plays for each other's affection, the story says. LaGravenese, who received an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for “The Fisher King” in 1992, will write and executive produce.

Hackford is a former president of the Directors Guild of America and is known for directing a string of high-profile feature films including "An Officer and a Gentleman" (1982), "Against All Odds" (1984) and "The Devil's Advocate" (1997). He won an Oscar in 1979 for best live-action short film for “Teenage Father,” and his 2004 feature “Ray” was nominated for best picture.

Last year Hackford directed and executive produced “Company Town,” a drama pilot for the CW.

taylor hackford.jpgTaylor Hackford

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'True Blood' Producer Working on Civil Rights Project at AMC

An executive producer of HBO’s “True Blood” is working on a civil rights drama project at AMC. Variety reports that Alexander Woo of “True Blood” will write the script and executive produce with Aaron Kaplan.

The project, called “Bombingham,” revolves around a 1963 murder in Birmingham, Ala., with the time frame shifting between the present and past, the story says. The murder is discovered 50 years later, which disrupts the city’s peace between whites and African Americans, the piece reports.

“The title refers to the city’s nickname in the black community, which suffered a slew of racially motivated bombings and other violence from the late 1940s through the 1960s,” the story notes.

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It Was a Wonderful Life: As a Child She Was the Biggest Movie Star in the World. Later She Became a Top Diplomat. Shirley Temple Black Dies at 85

Shirley Temple Black, 85, who was the most popular movie star in America during the Great Depression years 1935 to 1939, died late Monday evening in her Woodside, Calif. home, The New York Times reports.

The Times story says that Black was a "dimpled, precocious and determined little girl in the 1930s [who] sang and tap-danced her way to a height of Hollywood stardom and worldwide fame that no other child [had] reached.

shirley temple-child.jpgShirley Temple

The Times story continues, "Ms. Black returned to the spotlight in the 1960s in the surprising new role of diplomat, but in the popular imagination she would always be America’s darling of the Depression years, when in 23 motion pictures her sparkling personality and sunny optimism lifted spirits and made her famous. From 1935 to 1939 she was the most popular movie star in America, with Clark Gable a distant second. She received more mail than Greta Garbo and was photographed more often than President Franklin D. Roosevelt."

“Shirley was a superstar before the term was invented," Reuters notes. "She said she was about 8 when adoring crowds shouting their love for her made her realize she was famous.”

Black entered the entertainment industry in the early 1930s and gained fame before she turned 6. She was known for tap-dancing through songs such as “On the Good Ship Lollipop,” and her popularity spurred the sales of dresses, look-alike dolls and other novelties related to her persona. Shirley Temple dolls were as popular with little girls of the day as Barbie dolls were to a later generation.

Shirley Temple's 40 or so films included “Little Miss Marker,” “Heidi," "Wee Willie Winkie” and “Bright Eyes,” with the latter featuring her well-known song “On the Good Ship Lollipop.” She was given a special Oscar in 1935 for her “outstanding contribution to screen entertainment.”

The Reuters report adds: “She was such a money-maker that her mother -- who would always tell her ‘Sparkle, Shirley!’ before she appeared before an audience -- and studio officials shaved a year off her age to maintain her child image.”

Her career as a child actor ended when she was 12, although she had a few teenage roles. She retired from the big screen in 1949, when she was 21.

She got involved in politics in the early 1950s, taking on volunteer work for the Republican Party after her second husband, Charles Black, was called to work in Washington by the Navy, the Reuters story reports. She tried a comeback with two television series that were short-lived, “Shirley Temple’s Storybook” and “The Shirley Temple Theater.”

Reuters notes: “Seven years after that she ran unsuccessfully for Congress in California but stayed in politics, helping raise more than $2 million for Richard Nixon's re-election campaign.”

The Reuters report adds: “She was later named to the United States' team to the United Nations and found that her childhood popularity was an asset in her new career.”

President Ford appointed her as ambassador to Ghana in 1974, and then made her chief of protocol in 1976, the story reports. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush tapped her as ambassador to Czechoslovakia, which was a job usually given to career diplomats.

The Reuters piece notes, “Black had been in Prague in 1968, representing a group fighting multiple sclerosis at a conference, when Soviet-bloc tanks entered to crush an era of liberalization known as the ‘Prague Spring.’”

“President Gustav Husak did not seem daunted by the prospect of a U.S. ambassador who had witnessed the invasion. He told her that he had been a fan of ‘Shirleyka,’” the Reuters story adds.

shirley temple black.jpgShirley Temple Black

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Some L.A. Residents Were Pleasantly Surprised to Find a 'Dumb Starbucks' Had Opened in Their Neighborhood. TV Personality Admits He's Behind the Parody

A television personality who is the star of a cable series revealed that he’s behind a pop-up parody of Starbucks called “Dumb Starbucks,” a Los Angeles shop that was swarmed with customers. USA Today reports that writer and comedian Nathan Fielder, who stars in the Comedy Central series “Nathan for You,” made the revelation Monday afternoon.

Fielder spoke to journalists, playing it straight as a business owner trying to keep his store open, the piece says. But he admitted that he opened the parody shop to tape segments for his program.

He ended the press conference when the local health department arrived and told the store to stop serving coffee. The shop was then closed by the Los Angeles Health Department for operating without a permit.

"We've been wondering what this was about for four days," Rebecca Metz, a Los Angeles resident, told the publication. “I wish it was a political statement or a kooky artist, but it's a really smart marketing stunt."

How does the real Starbucks feel about the stunt? Notes the story, "Starbucks says it is evaluating how to proceed. 'While we appreciate the humor, they cannot use our name, which is a protected trademark.'"

Meanwhile, Baristas struggled to keep up with demand Monday morning at Dumb Starbucks, as 300 people were waiting for free coffee and pastries.

Here's a video Fielder made and posted on YouTube before he admitted the store was connected to his TV show.

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One TV Program Beats NBC's Olympics

One TV program topped NBC's Olympics coverage head-to-head in the key demo. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that "TV's reigning ratings champ," AMC's "The Walking Dead," launched its midseason run Sunday night with a strong performance both in total viewers and in the 18-49 demo.

"AMC saw the midseason premiere of 'The Walking Dead' deliver whopping 15.8 million viewers. That comes in just a hair shy of the fall's record 16.1 million viewers," the story reports. "And while it may not have outperformed the Olympics in total viewers, it did win the night among adults 18-49. 'The Walking Dead' matched its previous series high with 10.4 million in the key demo. That amounts to an 8.3 rating in the targeted demo. The Olympics have a 6.9 rating ahead of final returns."

NBC did blow away its broadcast competition Sunday night, as reported separately.

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Olympics Coverage on Par With 2010

Sunday night's Olympics coverage on NBC was about even with the fourth-night coverage of the Winter Games four years ago, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the NBC programming averaged a 6.9 rating in the demo for the four hours of prime time, down slightly from a 7.0 in 2010.

The NBC coverage also averaged a hefty 25.42 million total viewers, blowing away any competition on the other broadcast nets.

Only CBS put up a fight, with both Fox and ABC airing all repeats. CBS saw its "60 Minutes" sink to a season low with a 1.2 average in the 18-49 demo, off from a 2.0 for the show's previous original episode. CBS's Beatles tribute, "The Beatles: The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute," came through with a 2.1 average from 8-10:30 p.m.

For prime time overall, NBC was well out in front of the pack with a 6.9 average in viewers 18-49, topping CBS (1.7 average), Fox and ABC (both with 1.0 averages) and Univision (0.5). Total viewers was also no contest, with NBC leading the way with 25.4 million, ahead of CBS (11.6 million), ABC (3.7 million), Fox (2.2 million) and Univision (1.4 million).

NBC's Olympics coverage did lose to a cable program in the 18-49 demo, with AMC's "The Walking Dead" launching its midseason run to an 8.3 rating, as we are reporting separately.

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Awkward: Samuel L. Jackson Goes Off on Entertainment Reporter Who Confused Jackson With Laurence Fishburne -- Here's the Video

Wow: Samuel L. Jackson wouldn't let an entertainment reporter hear the end of it after the hapless correspondent -- KTLA's Sam Rubin -- asked a question that revealed he was mixing up Jackson and another well-known actor, Laurence Fishburne, ET Online reports.

The whole agonizing two-minute exchange happened on air, and was caught on tape. Enjoy:

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A&E Series Gets Order for 18 More Episodes

An A&E show has received an order from the network for 18 more episodes. A&E announced today that it is picking up additional episodes of the reality series "Wahlburgers," which features the Boston-area burger business of Mark, Donnie and Paul Wahlberg.

Announcing the order was David McKillop, General Manager and Executive Vice President of A&E.

"Since its premiere on January 22, 2014, 'Wahlburgers' has seen audience growth week after week, averaging 3.5 million total viewers in its first season to date," A&E announced.

Said McKillop: “Viewers are responding to the heartwarming dynamics of Boston’s first family as they balance living in the Hollywood spotlight and growing a business. We look forward to seeing what the Wahlbergs cook up next.”

The announcement noted that the show "gives a behind-the-scenes look into one of Boston’s most well-known families, the Wahlbergs. Brothers Mark and Donnie head back to their hometown to join forces with their professed ‘most talented sibling,’ Paul, in their tasty business venture. A homage to their humble beginnings, the hamburger restaurant is home base for the gang from the old neighborhood, including the real Johnny 'Drama' and their spirited mother Alma."

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Video: Shia LaBeouf Makes a Weird Comment, Then Bolts From Press Conference

Actor Shia LaBeouf has been seen pulling some strange antics lately, and his odd behavior continued over the weekend during a press conference in Berlin to promote his new movie "Nymphomaniac."

LaBeouf made a hasty exit after he was asked why he wanted to do a movie with so many sex scenes, the San Jose Mercury News reports. But before he left he made a comment about seagulls and trawlers ... we don't want to spoil it for you, so watch the clip below.

"The rest of the cast and crew on the panel -- which included Christian Slater and Uma Thurman -- looked a bit stunned by his exit, but 'lightly applauded' as he left," the report adds, noting that LaBeouf has become notorious for "bar brawling, plagiarism, and reportedly 'retiring' last month."

On the red carpet Sunday for the "Nymphomaniac" premiere at the International Film Festival Berlinale, LaBeouf appeared with a brown paper bag over his head with the words "I am not famous anymore" written on it.

Here's the press conference clip:

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Longtime CBS Newsman Dies -- He Was a Pioneer of Exit Polling and Reportedly Originated a Term We've All Heard Many Times on Election Nights

A longtime newsman who joined CBS News in 1964 after stints at ABC and NBC has died. The Associated Press reports that Marty Plissner, the former political director of CBS News, died Thursday of lung cancer. He was 87.

Plissner, a pioneer of exit polls, is said to have coined the term “too close to call” more than 50 years ago, the story notes.

“He was known for his extensive political knowledge and his range of political contacts, establishing himself by one appraisal as the gold standard for several generations of political journalists,” the article reports.

Plissner retired in 1997 as senior political director of CBS News.

The piece notes, “Plissner's coinage of ‘too close to call’ was noted in 1996 by New York Times language columnist William Safire. He quoted Plissner as explaining that, in vote-sampling techniques that predated exit polling, ‘when we had a situation in which all the votes were reported but there was no clear winner, we called that election 'too close to call.’”

marty plissner.jpgMarty Plissner

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Former 'SNL' Star Arrested

A former star of NBC's late-night sketch comedy show "Saturday Night Live" has been arrested. USA Today reports that comedic actor Chris Kattan was arrested early today in Encino, Calif., for allegedly driving under the influence.

Kattan reportedly was weaving and ran into a state truck in a construction zone on the 101 freeway. He was taken into custody a little before 2 a.m., according to the California Highway Patrol.

"Kattan's Mercedes-Benz was weaving and going at a slow rate of speed before the crash," the story reports. "The 'A Night at the Roxbury' star approached the road closure, crossed over cones and struck the vehicle from behind, according to the CHP."

No injuries reportedly occurred in the crash.

Kattan was one of the stars of "SNL" from 1996-2003, originating characters such as Mango and Gay Hitler. Along with fellow cast member Will Ferrell, he formed half of the Butabi Brothers.

chris kattan.pngChris Kattan

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NBC Taking Heat Over Olympics Decision

NBC is under fire for a decision involving its Olympics coverage. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the network is being criticized for cutting out an anti-discrimination comment from IOC President Thomas Bach during the Winter Olympics’ opening ceremony.

The omission was noted by Deadspin, which compared NBC’s televised version against what was seen in Britain.

Russia’s anti-gay laws created concern during the runup to the Games, which are being held in Sochi, Russia. Bach made a statement against “any form of discrimination” and in favor of tolerance, Deadspin notes.

“Viewers worldwide heard the statement; NBC viewers in the U.S. did not, because the network edited it out,” the publication notes.

NBC told The Hollywood Reporter that the edits were made for time purposes.

“The IOC President's comments were edited for time, as were other speeches, but his message got across very clearly to viewers," an NBC representative said.

Viewers were critical of the omission, with some condemning the decision via Twitter. One viewer wrote, “How can the US criticize Russia for being anti-gay when @NBC refused to air the anti-discrimination statement,” THR notes.

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Clint Eastwood Pulls Off a Heroic Deed

Actor Clint Eastwood has turned into a bit of an action hero in real life. People magazine reports that the veteran actor and director came to the rescue of a man who was choking, performing the Heimlich maneuver and saving the man’s life.

Eastwood, 83, was at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am when he noticed tournament director Steve John choking, the story says.

“I was drinking water and eating these little appetizers, threw down a piece of cheese and it just didn't work," John told the publication. "I was looking at him and couldn't breathe. He recognized it immediately and saved my life."

Eastwood told The Carmel Pine Cone that he “saw that look of panic people have when they see their life passing before their eyes.” He added, “It looked bad.” The actor said it was the first time he had used the Heimlich maneuver.

clint eastwood.pngClint Eastwood

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Veteran Hollywood Lawyer -- Whose First Client Was the Late Actor Steve McQueen and Who Currently Has Oprah Winfrey as a Client -- Picked by L.A. Mayor to Stem Runaway Production. He's Well Known in Both the TV and Movie Communities

Los Angeles has a new film czar, after Tom Sherak died last last month following a battle with cancer. The Los Angeles Times reports that L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti named entertainment attorney Ken Ziffren as the city’s new film czar,

“Like Sherak, Ziffren brings deep connections in Hollywood and a skill for consensus building, which will be an important quality if he is to succeed in convincing skeptical lawmakers in Sacramento that the state needs to do more to help an industry concentrated in Southern California,” the story reports.

Ziffren’s firm of Ziffren Brittenham represents clients including Oprah Winfrey, the piece notes. Ziffren has served as outside counsel to the NFL in negotiating contracts and worked as a mediator during the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike, the story adds.

Ziffren's first client in Hollywood was the late actor Steve McQueen, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which adds that  Ziffren negotiated the current TV contract for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences that keeps the Primetime Emmy Awards rotating among ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC.

Ziffren will continue the work started by Sherak in seeking to keep film and television production from leaving Los Angeles.

ken ziffren.pngKen Ziffren

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Amy Poehler's New NBC Project Casts Oscar-Emmy-Tony-Grammy Winner

One of the few performers to win an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony and a Grammy will be a co-star of Amy Poehler’s new NBC project. Deadline.com reports that Poehler's pilot “Old Soul” cast Rita Moreno to co-star opposite Natasha Lyonne.

“Old Soul” is co-created and executive produced by Poehler, Josh Bycel and Jonathan Fener. It will be directed by David Wain.

Lyonne plays a woman who has put her wild past behind her and is taking care of the elderly, with whom she feels she has more in common than with her cohorts. Moreno, 82, will play one of her clients, a “flamboyant, larger-than-life Broadway vet who has been happily married to her writing partner/husband for over 50 years,” the story notes.

Moreno became the second Puerto Rican to win an Academy Award when she received an Oscar for her supporting role in the 1961 musical "West Side Story." She also has two Emmys, for appearances on "The Muppet Show" and "The Rockford Files."

rita moreno.pngRita Moreno

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WWE Playing Hardball With NBCU

NBCUniversal and World Wrestling Entertainment have been in tough talks as they grapple with trying to reach terms on a contract renewal. The New York Post reports that WWE gave NBCU until Feb. 14 -- Valentine's Day -- to respond to its final offer.

The move comes after an exclusive negotiating period ended last week without a deal, the story reports.

The last deal reportedly had a price tag of $140 million, and it’s thought that the WWE wants a boost that gives it the type of premium awarded to sports rights, the story says. The deal would keep WWE’s programming on NBCUniversal’s USA Network and Syfy.

“WWE -- which announced the launch of its own over-the-top network for wrestling fans at CES -- is one of the few things on TV ( besides sports) that fans want to watch live,” the article notes. “The question is, how badly does NBCU want to keep it? And where will it land if the two parties split up?”

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MTV Orders Female-Focused Horror Film

MTV has greenlighted a female-focused horror movie. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel ordered the project, “The Dorm,” which will star Alexis Knapp of “Pitch Perfect” as she’s made over into a beauty by her dorm mates.

Cassie Steele of “Degrassi” will play the dorm’s leader, who makes Knapp’s character into her personal project. The project, from Nomadic Pictures, is slated to start filming this month.

MTV is also working on another horror project, its remake of the “Scream” movie franchise, although that effort is focused on creating a series.

alexis knapp.jpgAlexis Knapp

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HLN Sets Its Sights on the Social Media Generation

Albie Hecht, the executive tapped to lead HLN, said he wants to reposition the cable news network to focus on social media and to draw in young viewers who don’t currently watch news on television.

“Younger consumers have a very different perception of what news and information is,” Hecht told BuzzFeed. “For them, news is really made in the palm of their hands, in the iPhone prayer position. But they want every update in real time and non-stop and that’s the space that is not on TV. Our headlines are going to be ripped from social media.”

With the cable news audience stagnant, HLN and its bigger sibling, CNN, are “fighting a bloody, often-losing battle each night with Fox News and MSNBC over the same one million swing viewers aged 25 to 54,” the article notes.

Viewers tend to look to CNN for breaking news, while Fox News and MSNBC attract viewers with certain political views, the piece notes. But “nothing really defines HLN,” the story says.

The report adds: “What Hecht aims to do is package and present news culled from the media young viewers are actually consuming. While its competitors will be mining newspapers and magazines and broadcast news for headlines, HLN plans to instead curate blogs, Facebook and Tumblr posts, YouTube videos, tweets, and memes to give the things that are being traded and shared on the Web a home on television.”

albie hecht.jpgAlbie Hecht

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Star of 'Nikita' to Play Powerful Chinese Pirate

“Nikita” star Maggie Q will play another powerful woman -- a female pirate -- in an upcoming TV project. Deadline.com reports that the actress will play Ching Shih, who headed one of China’s most powerful crime syndicates, in the limited series “Red Flag.”

Ching controlled the South China Sea in the early 1800s with more than 1,500 vessels and 100,000 sailors, the story notes.

“It’s exciting to have the opportunity to share Ching Shih’s real-life story with audiences that are both familiar and unfamiliar with her prominent history,” Maggie Q said.

The project is from Steven Jensen’s Independent Television Group, Mike Medavoy & Benjamin Anderson of Phoenix Pictures, and Fred Fuchs, the piece notes.

maggie q.jpgMaggie Q

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Tribune to Spin Off Newspapers by Midyear

Tribune is expected to spin off its newspapers by midyear, allowing the company to focus on its broadcast television business, reports Bloomberg.

Chief Executive Officer Peter Liguori is considering the second quarter or early third quarter for the spinoff, giving Tribune some time to find an executive to run the print operations, the story says.

“Tribune is lining up a potential replacement should Eddy Hartenstein, the publisher of the Los Angeles Times and adviser to Liguori, decline to run the new company,” the story notes. “Hartenstein, who is 63 years old, was appointed head of Tribune during its bankruptcy and was replaced by Liguori last year. The company hasn’t officially indicated when it will separate the newspapers or if the new entity’s stock will be traded. Tribune itself is traded on the over-the-counter market.”

The newspapers include the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune.

eddy hartenstein.pngEddy Hartenstein

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'Southland' Actor Joins 'Batman' Prequel in the Works at Fox

One of the stars of the NBC and TNT drama series "Southland" has signed on with the "Batman" prequel that's in the works at the Fox Network.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Ben McKenzie will play James Gordon, the city’s commissioner, in “Gotham.”

“Gotham” is an origin story that will focus on Commissioner Gordon and the evil-doers who haunt the city, the story notes. The project is written and executive produced by “The Mentalist” showrunner Bruno Heller, while Danny Cannon of “CSI” will direct and executive produce the pilot.

In the project, Gordon is still a rookie detective for the police department’s homicide unit. His character is said to be a war hero and former college football star who is idealistic but also has an “ambitious alpha male ego,” the story says.

ben mckenzie.pngBen McKenzie

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One of Anderson Cooper's Shows Canceled by CNN

One of Anderson Cooper's shows on CNN has been canceled, TVNewser reports.

"Staffers were informed [Friday, Feb. 7, 2014 that] the 10pm news chat show [ "AC360 Later"] will not be coming back," TV Newser wrote, adding that CNN said "no layoffs are expected."

The story also said, "The show began as a late night experiment last year, featuring a more laid back discussion led by Anderson Cooper. It never aired as regularly as the rest of CNN’s primetime lineup and often disappeared from the schedule for weeks at a time with documentaries and 'AC360' 8pm re-runs in its place."

The story also noted that Cooper himself signed a contract extension with CNN last November.

andersoncooper.pngAnderson Cooper

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Simon Cowell Once Compared a Contestant's Singing Performance to Being at a Funeral. Some Felt That Way About the 'X Factor' This Past Season. Fox Cancels the Show as Cowell Returns to the U.K. After 12 Years in the U.S.

" 'The X Factor' is being crossed off Fox’s schedule," writes James Hibberd of Entertainment Weekly.

Hibberd continues, "The network is canceling the singing-competition series after three seasons of declining ratings. The news comes the same day judge and producer Simon Cowell announced he would return to the UK version of the show.

"Cowell, Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly and FremantleMedia North America president of entertainment Trish Kinane released statements pinning the decision on Cowell deciding to return to the UK series. But Fox had an option to renew 'X Factor' and debated for months whether to bring it back. For awhile, Fox considered renewing the series for a fourth round with fewer hours per week, mirroring a production-tightening move that ABC’s 'Dancing with the Stars' made this fall. The recent season of 'Factor' averaged 7.1 million viewers and a mere 2.3 rating among adults 18-49 on Wednesday nights, including seven days of DVR playback."

Hibberd added, " 'X Factor' particularly struggled to break through against NBC’s rival hit 'The Voice,' which started airing a fall edition last season. It was also blamed by some observers, right or wrong, for hastening 'American Idol‘s' ratings decline, since it added to the number of singing competition shows on the air."

The Guardian in the U.K. wrote this about Cowell's return to be a judge on the British version of "The X Factor": 'Simon Cowell is to return as a judge on ITV's 'The X Factor' for the first time in four years in a bid to reverse the show's falling ratings."

The Guardian added, "Last year's final, won by Sam Bailey, had an overnight audience of 9.6 million viewers, the lowest since Shayne Ward won the 2005 series. It was down from 11 million viewers in 2012 and a high of 17 million in 2010. A wholesale revamp of the show last year, which saw the return of Sharon Osbourne to the judging panel, failed to halt the slide. His U.S. show on Fox has fared even worse, with one episode last year dipping to fewer than 4 million viewers."

simon cowell.pngSimon Cowell

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NBC's Olympics Coverage Opens With a Big Win, While a Onetime Ratings Juggernaut Sinks to Historic Low

The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, got started on a positive note for NBC Thursday night, with the network's coverage dominating prime time, based on Nielsen overnights for both the key 18-49 demo and total viewers. Over on CBS, meanwhile, a long-running comedy that was once a ratings juggernaut sank to its lowest demo rating ever.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the Olympics delivered a 5.8 average rating in 18-49 for NBC from 8-11 p.m. -- down 23% from the first night of the 2010 Winter Games, but in that case the Games aired against weaker competition on a Saturday, and the coverage came after the opening ceremony. This year's opening ceremony is today, Friday.

On second-place CBS the long-running "Two and a Half Men," which was a ratings powerhouse back in the Charlie Sheen days, saw its fortunes sink further. The show fell to an all-time-low 1.8 average in the 18-49 demo, off 10% from a week ago and near the bottom of CBS's Thursday night comedy lineup.

Also hitting a series low was CBS's "The Crazy Ones," which dipped 11% to a 1.7 in viewers 18-49. "The Millers" defied the downtrend, ticking up 4% to a 2.7, while the drama "Elementary" slid 5% to a 1.8.

CBS's "The Big Bang Theory" continued to lead the network's Thursday lineup, pulling a 5.0 average in 18-49 going head-to-head against the Olympics at 8 p.m. "Bang's" number was off just 4% from last week.

Fox came in third overall, with "American Idol" slipping 6% from last week to a 3.0 average in 18-49 and "Rake" dropping 15% to a 1.1.

ABC placed fifth for the night, behind Univision, with a two-hour "The Taste" managing only a 1.0 in the 18-49 demo, off 9% from a week ago. A "Shark Tank" repeat at 10 p.m. contributed a 0.9.

For prime time overall, NBC's 5.8 average in viewers 18-49 put the Peacock well ahead of the pack, followed by CBS (2.5 average), Fox (2.1), Univision (1.3) and ABC (1.0). NBC had a huge margin in total viewers as well, averaging 19.6 million to lead CBS (10.4 million), Fox (7.6 million), Univision (3.248 million) and ABC (3.220 million).

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CBS Re-Creates Historic Ed Sullivan Theater Marquee From Beatles Appearance 50 Years Ago -- Here's the Photo

CBS took the wraps off a marquee on the Ed Sullivan Theater that duplicates the one that appeared 50 years ago when the Beatles gave their historic debut performance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" on Feb. 9, 1964.

USA Today reports that the unveiling was in connection with CBS's celebration of the 50th anniversary of the event, which includes the special "The Beatles: The Night That Changed America -- A Grammy Salute," airing Sunday.

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will reportedly sit down for an interview with David Letterman, whose "Late Show" tapes at the Ed Sullivan Theater.

Here's the photo:

ed sullivan beatles marquee 50th anniversary.jpg

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Sources Say FCC Won't Loosen Cross-Ownership Rules

Sources are saying the Federal Communications Commission won't loosen its cross-ownership rules when it delves into its March agenda, B&C reports.

"Sources inside and outside the FCC are looking for the chairman to put a media ownership rule review item on the March agenda dealing primarily with making joint sales agreements (JSAs) for more than 15% of a station's ad inventory attributable as ownership under FCC local ownership limits," the story reports. "But while it will tighten those regs, it will no longer loosen others on broadcast and newspaper crossownership, as new FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's predecessor had proposed."

The report adds: "Wheeler is widely expected to get the requisite votes for the change, most likely from his Democratic colleagues. Republican commissioner Ajit Pai, by contrast, has been vocal about the value of TV station sharing arrangements to save costs on services viewers want and broadcasters want to offer."

The piece also notes: "Loosening the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership ban and lifting it on TV-radio and newspaper-radio combos, as former chairman Julius Genachowski proposed in his 2010 quadrennial media ownership item, would not be part of the order. Instead those would be put out for yet more comment in a further notice."

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How a TV Show Helped Solve a Real-Life Medical Mystery

Two top medical journals published case studies Thursday about a medical mystery, with one of the physicians diagnosing the arcane ailment based on clues in an episode of the Fox television show “House,” reports The New York Times.

“It turned out that Dr. Gregory House, the cantankerous, fictional diagnostician modeled on Sherlock Holmes, had used his powers of deduction to diagnose the very same ailment in a woman played by the actress Candice Bergen on an episode that first aired in 2011,” the story notes.

The case involved a man in Germany who sought an explanation for his ailments, which included a fever, inflammation of his esophagus, low thyroid hormone levels and loss of vision and hearing. On top of that, his heart had weakened, although his arteries were fine, which stumped doctors.

Dr. Juergen R. Schaefer of University of Marburg, a big fan of “House,” recalled an episode of the show in which Bergen’s character suffered from similar symptoms. The cause: cobalt poisoning from her artificial metal hip, the story notes.

“Dr. Schaefer’s patient had had an artificial ceramic hip that failed, and it was replaced with a metal one in November 2010, shortly before his symptoms began. So Dr. Schaefer tested the man’s cobalt level and discovered it was a thousand times the level considered normal,” the piece adds.

The man’s metal hip was eroded by tiny particles from the broken ceramic hip that had been removed previously, which rubbed against the metal parts like sandpaper, the story notes.

After the patient had his hip replaced with another ceramic model, his cobalt levels declined and his heart improved, although he still required a defibrillator. Still, his hearing and eyesight didn’t much improve, the piece adds.

The other case, which involved another hip transplant and cobalt poisoning, was solved after routine blood tests detected high cobalt levels, although her doctor, Larry A. Allen, had been initially stumped.

The patient had both hips replaced with ones with a polyethylene liner, and her cobalt levels have declined, the piece notes. Allen said that he would have considered cobalt earlier if he had seen “House.”

“Unfortunately,” he told The Times, “I have seen about two half-episodes of ‘House.’”

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Sutton Foster, Hilary Duff, Debi Mazar and Miriam Shor to Star in Comedy From 'Sex and the City' Creator

Production starts this week in New York on a comedy project for TV Land, with Sutton Foster, Hilary Duff, Debi Mazar and Miriam Shor leading the cast, the network announced. The project is the sitcom pilot "Younger."

"The single-camera project, which is written, executive produced and directed by Darren Star ('Sex and the City'), is based on the novel 'Younger' by Pamela Redmond Satran," TV Land announced. "Patricia Field, who worked with Star on 'Sex and the City,' will be a costume consultant on the production."

The announcement adds: “'Younger' follows 40-year-old Liza (Foster), a suddenly single mother who tries to get back into the working world, only to find out it’s nearly impossible to start at the bottom at her age. When a chance encounter with a 20-something guy at a bar convinces her she looks younger than she is, Liza tries to pass herself off as 26 -- with the help of a makeover, courtesy of her best friend Maggie (Mazar). Armed with new confidence, she lands a job as an assistant to the temperamental Diana (Shor) and teams up with her new co-worker and fellow 20-something Kelsey (Duff) to make it in the career of her dreams."

TV Land has also recently picked up the single-camera comedy series "Jennifer Falls, starring Jaime Pressly.

sutton foster 2.pngSutton Foster

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Leno's Big Final Night: Largest Audience in More Than 15 Years

NBC announced updated ratings numbers for Thursday's final installment of "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno as host, and the total audience soared to 14.637 million viewers -- Leno's largest audience since May 1998.

Leading out from "Tonight," Jimmy Fallon's show delivered 6.0 million total viewers, the biggest number for a regularly scheduled "Late Night" airing since David Letterman's final episode in 1993.

Leno's total was his fourth-largest ever for "Tonight," and his largest since the night of the "Seinfeld" finale in May 1998, when Jerry Seinfeld was on as a guest and the show delivered 14.962 million viewers.

Leno also averaged a 3.8 rating in adults 18-49 Thursday night in fast-official “live plus same day” ratings from Nielsen Media Research.

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Lego May Create Toy Set Based on TV Drama Series

The venerable toy company Lego is looking at bringing out a new toy set based on a TV drama series. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the PBS show “Sherlock” is the inspiration for the proposed Lego set.

A proposed “Sherlock” Lego set is among the six finalists for a new line of Legos that will come out in winter 2014.

Two Lego versions of “Sherlock” have been proposed. One is a 370-piece set that re-creates the detective’s consultation/living room, while the other is a slightly larger version of the same room, with 630 pieces. The sets would also include mini-figures of Sherlock, Watson, arch-villain Jim Moriarty, Inspector Lestrade, Mrs. Hudson, Molly Hooper and Mycroft Holmes.

Among the other proposals are sets based on the television show “Adventure Time,” the “Back to the Future” films and “The Legend of Zelda.”

The review period, during which the Lego company will decide which finalists will move forward, will end in May.

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One of the Major Stars of the Original 'Star Trek' Series Reveals Serious Medical Condition

One of the stars of the original "Star Trek" TV series from the 1960s has revealed a medical diagnosis that he says carries a warning for others. People magazine reports that Leonard Nimoy, known for his role as Mr. Spock on “Star Trek,” disclosed that he has been diagnosed with obstructive pulmonary disease, and urged others to quit smoking.

"I'm doing OK. Just can't walk distances. Love my life, family, friends and followers," Nimoy tweeted. He added, “LLAP,” short for “Live long and prosper.”

Nimoy wrote in another tweet that he quit smoking 30 years ago, but added, “Not soon enough. I have COPD. Grandpa says, quit now!! LLAP."

According to the report, COPD -- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease -- is a term that can be used to indicated several lung diseases, including emphysema, chronic bronchitis and non-reversible asthma.

“Smokers, please understand. If you quit after you're diagnosed with lung damage it's too late. Grandpa says learn my lesson. Quit now. LLAP,” Nimoy also wrote.

Leonard-Nimoy.jpgLeonard Nimoy

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Report: Another 'Good Morning America' Anchor Wants One of Those Robin Roberts Pay Bumps

A “Good Morning America” anchor is in “tense negotiations with ABC” after demanding a salary bump similar to what co-anchor Robin Roberts received, according to the New York Post’s Page Six. The story reports that the anchor is Josh Elliott.

“Sources tell Page Six that after Roberts closed a long-term contract with ABC, worth about $14 million a year, agents for Elliott have upped their demand for ‘an equally significant bump in salary,’” the story reports.

Elliott's representatives have reportedly also talked with NBC News, although his goal is to get a new contract with ABC News, the story says.

While Elliott isn’t asking for as much money as Roberts, he wants an equivalent raise, the piece adds.

A representative for ABC said: “We are in negotiations with Josh. It is no surprise that there is a lot of interest from other networks. He is an important part of the 'GMA' family, and we want him to stay part of the family."

josh elliott-GMA.pngJosh Elliott

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Michael J. Fox Headed Back to CBS

Just one day after NBC removed his comedy “The Michael J. Fox Show” from its prime-time lineup, news surfaced that Michael J. Fox is headed back to the CBS drama “The Good Wife,” TVLine reports.

Fox’s potential return as Louis Canning was rumored last month, during the Television Critics Association winter press tour, the piece notes. At the time, “The Good Wife” co-creator Robert King said he was trying to make a return possible for Fox, noting that the actor had just finished taping the comedy.

In “The Good Wife,” which will return March 9, Canning is the legal nemesis for Alicia Florrick, played by Julianna Margulies.

michael j fox-horizontal.jpgMichael J. Fox

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Longtime Baseball Broadcaster, Hall of Fame Player, Dead at 91

A Hall of Fame slugger and veteran baseball broadcaster has died. According to The Hollywood Reporter, longtime New York Mets broadcaster Ralph Kiner, 91, died Thursday at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Kiner worked Mets games for more than 50 years, remaining on the job until last year, the report notes.

Kiner hit 369 home runs during his decade-long baseball career, which he spent mostly with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He then worked for one year as a Chicago White Sox broadcaster, before joining the Mets for their inaugural season, the story reports.

In recent years, his speech was slurred after a battle with Bell’s palsy, but he still worked a few games during the season, the piece adds.

His “distinctly low-budget postgame show ‘Kiner’s Korner,’” a popular show that featured Kiner interviewing players and going over highlights, debuted in 1963 on WOR-TV, the story notes.

Kiner was known for his gaffes, such as forgetting his own name on-air. He also had some memorable lines, such as saying of the Philadelphia Phillies center fielder, “Two-thirds of the Earth is covered by water. The other third is covered by Garry Maddox.”

"Ralph Kiner was one of the most beloved people in Mets history -- an original Met and extraordinary gentleman,” Mets Chairman and CEO Fred Wilpon said in a statement. “After a Hall of Fame playing career, Ralph became a treasured broadcasting icon for more than half a century. His knowledge of the game, wit and charm entertained generations of Mets fans."

ralph kiner.jpgRalph Kiner

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Aaron Sorkin, Oscar Winner, TV Writer Extraordinaire and Recovering Addict, Tells Why Philip Seymour Hoffman's Death Saved 10 Lives

"Phil Hoffman and I had two things in common. We were both fathers of young children, and we were both recovering drug addicts."

So begins a commentary in Time magazine about Hoffman written by acclaimed playwright and movie/TV screenwriter Aaron Sorkin.

Sorkin talks about meeting Hoffman for the first time on the set of "Charlie Wilson's War," which had a screenplay penned by Sorkin and co-starred Hoffman.

"On breaks during rehearsals, we would sometimes slip outside our soundstage on the Paramount lot and get to swapping stories," Sorkin writes, adding: "It’s not unusual to have these mini-AA meetings -- people like us are the only ones to whom tales of insanity don’t sound insane. 'Yeah, I used to do that.' I told him I felt lucky because I’m squeamish and can’t handle needles. He told me to stay squeamish. And he said this: 'If one of us dies of an overdose, probably 10 people who were about to won’t.' He meant that our deaths would make news and maybe scare someone clean."

Sorkin also wrote that Hoffman "did not die from an overdose of heroin -- he died from heroin. We should stop implying that if he’d just taken the proper amount then everything would have been fine."

Sorkin went on to write that Hoffman "didn’t die because he was partying too hard or because he was depressed -- he died because he was an addict on a day of the week with a 'y' in it."

And as part of Hoffman's legacy, Sorkin suggests that we "add to that 10 people who were about to die who won’t now."

To read about an interview with Hoffman that's upcoming on "60 Minutes," please click here.

aaron sorkin.pngAaron Sorkin

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Preliminary Ratings Are In on Leno Finale. We Also Have the Must-Watch Musical Tribute to Jay Featuring Oprah, Billy Crystal, Jack Black, Kim Kardashian, Carol Burnett, Jim Parsons, Sheryl Crow and Chris Paul

Here are the preliminary ratings from Jay Leno's "Tonight" show finale that aired last night, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. This is from an NBC press release:

In Late-Night Metered Markets Thursday Night (note that the Philadelphia market is excluded from these averages):

Jay Leno’s final telecast hosting “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” has delivered the show’s highest overnight rating in nearly five years, since March 2009.

• Leno averaged a 9.2 rating, 22 share in households in the 56 markets metered by Nielsen Media Research (with the Philadelphia market excluded last night), best since March 19, 2009 (the night President Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to appear on a late-night talk show, 11.3/26).

• The final “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” more than tripled the show’s season average in metered-market households, 2.8 /7 heading into this week.

• “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” followed last night with its highest rating ever, a 4.6/15 in metered-market households. That tops the prior record of a 4.2/12 with a special 11:56 p.m. ET telecast on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012. The prior high for a weeknight “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” was a 3.9/13 on March 19, 2009, the night of President Obama’s appearance on “Tonight.” The 4.6 is also the highest for the “Late Night” franchise since “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” earned a 4.6/20 on Thursday, May 14, 1998, the night of the “Seinfeld” finale.

Now, here's the musical tribute to Jay from his "Tonight" show finale, featuring Oprah Winfrey, Billy Crystal, Jack Black, Kim Kardashian, Carol Burnett, Jim Parsons, Sheryl Crow and Chris Paul:

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A TV First: Showrunner Lands Four Series in the Top 20

A television showrunner whose name has become familiar to many viewers has accomplished a TV first by landing four shows in the top 20 at the same time. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the milestone was achieved by Chuck Lorre.

Lorre "already is the showrunner with most current series, four," Andreeva writes. "Last week, the prolific producer scored a first for a showrunner when all four ranked in the Top 20 among adults 18-49 -- something no writing producer had accomplished since the introduction of Nielsen electronic ratings measurement in 1991."

Andreeva adds: “Ironically, Lorre’s biggest series, ‘The Big Bang Theory’ (5.2 Live+Same Day), which ranks as the No. 1 entertainment series among adults 18-49 this season, had its lowest weekly ranking of the season, No. 6, with Super Bowl Sunday programming taking the first five spots.”

Lorre's other shows are “Mike & Molly,” which ranked No. 11 with a 2.6 rating; “Mom,” at No. 15 (2.4); and “Two and a Half Men,” at No. 17 (2.0). All four shows are on CBS.

chuck lorre.jpgChuck Lorre

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Why Netflix Says It Won't Share Its Viewer Metrics

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said the streaming service doesn’t plan to release its viewer metrics, explaining at the Hollywood Radio and Television Society’s annual programmers luncheon that there’s “no benefit to showing we’re beating said network -- we don’t need to,” reports Deadline.com.

“We’re looking for a proportional success,” he said. “Because if people vote with their time and their checkbook, they’ll watch.”

Sarandos referenced two successful Netflix original series, saying: “You know in the culture that 'Orange Is the New Black' and 'House of Cards' are enormous hits."

He added that Netflix assesses internally how its programming is performing, examining “how our shows do compared to other shows.” He also said, “We know how many hours people watch, the drop-out rates … what devices people are watching on, because that says a lot about behavior too.”

ted sarandos.pngTed Sarandos

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'60 Minutes' Set to Air Interview With the Late Philip Seymour Hoffman -- With Additional Material About Rehab

The CBS News program “60 Minutes” will re-air an interview with the late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, with the network also re-editing to include some unaired material, such as Hoffman discussing a rehab stint, reports TheWrap.com.

The interview with Steve Kroft, which was taped in 2006, will air Sunday.

“In the interview, Hoffman candidly discussed his struggles with substance abuse, admitting, ‘it was anything I could get my hands on … I liked it all,’” TheWrap reports.

Hoffman also discussed a stint in rehab when he was younger, saying it saved his life.

“I went [to rehab], I got sober when I was 22 years old,” the actor told Croft, according to the article. “You get panicked … and I got panicked for my life,” Hoffman said. “It really was just that.”

As previously reported, Hoffman was found dead Sunday, with what officials said was a syringe in his arm and bags of heroin in his apartment. He had recently made plans to star in a Showtime comedy series, "Happyish," as we reported in January.

philip seymour hoffman-glasses.pngPhilip Seymour Hoffman

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AMC Developing Drama Series With Former 'Stoner of the Year'

An actor whose accolades include being named "Stoner of the Year" in 2007 is working with AMC on a drama project. The New York Post reports that the cable channel and actor-writer Seth Rogen are developing the 1990s comic book series “Preacher” into a drama series.

Rogen, who was named "Stoner of the Year" as part of the Stony Awards sponsored by High Times magazine, is writing the project, the story reports. Rogen surfaced on "Freaks and Geeks" and is known for his performances in films including "Knocked Up" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." He has also been writing for television and film, and shared in an Emmy nomination as a writer on "Da Ali G Show."

The AMC project is about a Texas preacher who has lost his faith after learning that God has left heaven, the story says. With his ex-girlfriend and a friendly vampire by his side, he seeks to track God down.

Rogen will write and executive produce, along with Evan Goldberg, who served as his partner on films such as “Superbad,” the piece notes. Sam Catlin of “Breaking Bad” will be the showrunner.

seth rogen.jpgSeth Rogen

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Longtime CNN Talking Head Joins Fox News

A well-known political pundit who has been a familiar presence on CNN has signed with Fox News Channel.

TheWrap.com reports: "James Carville, former senior political adviser to Bill Clinton and longtime CNN contributor, has signed on as a contributor to the Fox News Channel, where he’ll deliver political commentary, according to media reports."

Bill Shine, executive vice president of programming for Fox News, said of Carville: "James’ successful and storied career in politics over several decades is an enormous asset to Fox News. We are privileged to have him lend his breadth of experience, wit and dynamic perspective on the network.”

james carville.jpgJames Carville

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Video: Ashton Kutcher Tells Charlie Sheen to 'Shut the F--k Up' -- and Sheen's Response

Ashton Kutcher has apparently had enough of Charlie Sheen's criticism. Kutcher, who replaced Sheen as the lead on CBS's "Two and a Half Men," took a moment during an appearance Wednesday night on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" to send Sheen a loud-and-clear message: "Shut the f--k up."

Addressing Sheen, Kutcher also said: "Seriously, like enough already. It's like three years later and you're still blowing me up on Twitter? Come on dude, really?"

Sheen was quick to respond, the New York Daily News reports, sending out his own message today, saying: "Ashton, message received. So sorry. U sounded like me! Well done! My bad. I was pissed at other crap & took it out on you. Hope u r good."

But Sheen's conciliatory tone didn't last long, the report notes. A later tweet from Sheen said: "But new flash. Dood, you ever tell me to shut the f--k up EVER again, and I'll put you on a hospital food diet for a year. #YaFeelMe Jr?"

Here's a video of part of Kutcher's "Kimmel" appearance, with his message to Sheen coming near the end of the clip:

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'Write joke, tell joke, get check.' That Has Been Jay Leno's Mantra, Says The New York Times. Leno Steps Down From the 'Tonight Show' Tonight. He Was 'Never defined by breaking new ground in television comedy'

Jay Leno's last night hosting the "Tonight" show is today, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. Bill Carter of The New York Times notes that Leno's departure tonight is one that is more subdued than were the exits of previous hosts Johnny Carson and Jack Paar.

Writes Carter: "The more subdued send-off Mr. Leno is getting is partly of his own doing. Always a man who disdained emotional displays, he has tamped down the attention surrounding this departure. He has been careful to avoid any hint of the drama that surrounded his brief hiatus in 2009 and 2010, when he and Conan O’Brien engaged in a rapid-fire -- and acrimonious -- sequence of entrances and exits.

"What has mattered to Mr. Leno is winning. Nothing mattered more to him than succeeding Johnny Carson on 'Tonight.' When he did, he was determined to maintain the show’s status as the premier address in an overcrowded late-night neighborhood. His ability to do so, by dominating the late-night ratings, may be his signature legacy."

Carter also writes: "Mr. Leno was never defined by breaking new ground in television comedy, or filling the Internet with highlight clips. Nor did he rack up accolades from critics or fellow comedians. 'He said it many times over, said [Rick Ludwin, formerly in charge of late-night programming at NBC], who left NBC after a falling out with Mr. Leno. 'He is in the business of getting people to show up. Jay is a comic. He wants to count the house.'"

In the long piece Carter also notes: "Mr. Leno also drew fire when he replaced Mr. O’Brien on 'Tonight' in early 2010, with critics suggesting he had again maneuvered around a rival to obtain the job he wanted.

"To Mr. Leno, however, defying his opponents, and pulling himself up off the floor, was a crucial talent. 'I can get hit a lot,' he said then. 'I can get hit all day long.'

"That was one of several qualities that underscored Mr. Leno’s single-mindedness. His mantra about his simple approach was: 'Write joke, tell joke, get check.'..."

We urge you to click on the link above to read all of Carter's article.

jay leno 3.jpgJay Leno

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Fox Crushes the Competition With Rock-Solid 'Idol' as NBC's Olympics Programming Falls Flat

Fox rolled to a big win over its broadcast competition in Wednesday prime time, as its two-hour "American Idol" distanced itself from the pack, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. Meanwhile, NBC was able to generate little interest in its pre-Olympics coverage.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "Idol" delivered a 3.9 average rating in viewers 18-49, an improvement of 3% from a week ago. "Idol" also generated 13.29 million total viewers, edging CBS's 200th episode of "Criminal Minds (12.81 million) for No. 1 in that metric.

ABC's "Modern Family" came close in the 18-49 demo, averaging a 3.5 rating to rank as the No. 2 show of the night on broadcast.

Second-place CBS opened prime time with a repeat of "Criminal Minds" (1.5 average in 18-49), following with the 200th episode of the show (2.8 average, up 27% from its most recent original). "CSI" won the 10 p.m. hour with a 2.0, up 25%.

ABC found itself in third place overall, with nothing coming close to "Modern Family's" 3.5. "The Middle" ticked down 4% from its previous original to a 2.2 in viewers 18-49, "Suburgatory" rose 13% from last week's series low to a 1.7, "Super Fun Night" rebounded from last week's series low, climbing 23% to a 1.6, and "Nashville" equaled its series low with a 1.3, drifting down 13% from a week ago.

NBC brought up the rear among the big 4 broadcast nets, even as it continued to raise the curtain on its Olympics coverage. The hour special "How to Raise an Olympian" got prime time started on a sour note for the Peacock, managing only a 1.1 average in adults 18-49 -- off 15% from the performance of "Revolution" in the time slot a week earlier, and down 22% from Tuesday's Olympics special.

NBC did a little better with its regular drama programming. "Law & Order: SVU" pulled in a 1.8 average in the 18-49 demo, slipping 10% from a week ago, while "Chicago PD" held steady with a 1.7.

When all was said and done, Fox was the class of the field for prime time overall with a 3.9 average in 18-49, topping CBS (2.1 average), ABC (1.9), NBC (1.5) and Univision (1.3). Fox also held a comfortable margin in total viewers with 13.3 million, ahead of CBS (10.7 million), ABC (6.7 million), NBC (5.6 million) and Univision (3.2 million).

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CBS Orders Project From John Cusack

CBS has ordered a project from actor John Cusack ("Say Anything ...," "Being John Malkovich"). The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the project is an untitled pilot about Wall Street, with Cusack set to executive produce.

The show is about power and money, and is based on an original story from Cusack, “Justified's" Taylor Elmore, Ben Cavell and Kevin McCabe. The teleplay was written by Elmore and Cavell for the CBS Television Studios production.

“Cusack's involvement comes a year after the actor was among those who had been attracting offers for big-swing drama pilots,” the story notes.

Separately, CBS also picked up a pilot for an untitled family medical drama from David Marshall Grant, the executive producer of “Brothers & Sisters.” The project is about quadruplets who grew up on a reality show, the piece notes.

john cusack.pngJohn Cusack

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NBC Pulls Comedy Series Off the Schedule

NBC has pulled a struggling comedy series from its prime-time schedule. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the program, “The Michael J. Fox Show,” has not yet been officially canceled.

“Production on ‘The Michael J. Fox Show’ wrapped in December, and 15 of the 22 completed episodes have aired,” Andreeva writes. “There are no plans for the remaining seven episodes, though the show is not officially canceled, and NBC brass will try to find a spot for it.”

NBC will start airing Olympics coverage in prime time tonight, and the network plans to air “Hollywood Game Night” in the Thursday 9 p.m. hour starting Feb. 27, the first Thursday following the Olympic Games, the piece notes.

The move comes a week after the network canceled “Sean Saves the World,” another comedy. All three of its new comedies have performed poorly, with “Welcome to the Family” already having been canceled.

In their Jan. 24 airings, both “Michael J. Fox” and “Sean” posted an “underwhelming 0.7 in 18-49,” Andreeva writes.

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Philip Seymour Hoffman -- How He Spent His Last Days: 'Shooting a blockbuster film. Business meetings. Ballgames. Binge drinking. Drug buys.'

Philip Seymour Hoffman "died, by all accounts, an addict’s death, with periods of outward normalcy interrupted by erratic behavior. Shooting a blockbuster film. Business meetings. Ballgames. Binge drinking. Drug buys."

So writes Michael Wilson in The New York Times, as he traces Hoffman's life during his final days.

Wilson adds about Hoffman that his "last hours and days were a jerking and complicated blend of business, socializing, furtive drug deals and, finally, what appeared to be a fatal overdose of heroin."

The article says that during Hoffman's final days, "People saw him all over the Village and beyond. The return home last week of an apparently drunken Mr. Hoffman from Atlanta, where he was shooting scenes for the coming 'Hunger Games' films, did not go unnoticed, with witnesses recounting run-ins with the actor at two different airports.

"He seemed reticent and rumpled at his last public appearance, promoting the films 'God’s Pocket' and 'A Most Wanted Man' at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah on Jan. 19. Friends, however, would later point out that Mr. Hoffman would often appear that way, as if he had been out partying all night when in fact he had just awaked from a night’s sleep."

To read the details of Hoffman's final days, we suggest you click on the link, above, which will take you to the original story with all its detail.

Thumbnail image for philip seymour hoffman.jpgPhilip Seymour Hoffman

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What's Next for Jay Leno? He Reveals What He Will Be Doing After He Leaves His 'Day Job'

Jay Leno has revealed what he plans to do after his impending departure from NBC's "Tonight Show." Leno told the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker that he’s going back to his roots and will work as stand-up comedian.

“I’ve always been a stand-up comedian that had a day job,” he said. “This is my day job. I've always been on the road every single weekend -- and the week too -- since I got this job. So I'm back on the road. We leave here on the 6th. The 7th I'm in Sarasota. The 8th I'm in Clearwater. The 9th I'm in Naples, Fla. The 10th I'm in Miami …”

He added, “It's what you have to do if you want to do comedy. You can't take a year off and come back. No one's ever taken time off as a comedian and come back and been better.”

Asked whether he might do another late-night TV show, Leno said, “No, I don't think so. I mean, the ground has to lie fallow for a while, I think. I've been doing this a long time. I have no plans to go up against anybody else. People go, ‘Oh, Jay's waiting in the wings.’ It's so stupid.”

Asked how he feels about leaving the show, he replied, “I'm not unhappy. This is a great franchise, and you like to keep it No. 1. I'm real proud we've been able to keep it No. 1.”

He added: “Look, if NBC didn't have Jimmy Fallon in the wings, would I be here a little longer? Probably. But you know, he's really good. I really like him. He's a true couple of generations away from me. When I see him do his musical numbers and stuff, I say, ‘I can't do that. That music is not my music.’”

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ESPN Baseball Analyst and Former Big League Pitcher Diagnosed With Cancer

An ESPN baseball analyst and former Major League pitcher has disclosed that he’s battling cancer. The revelation was made by Curt Schilling, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"I've always believed life is about embracing the gifts and rising up to meet the challenges," Schilling, 47, said in a statement. "We've been presented with another challenge, as I've recently been diagnosed with cancer."

Schilling signed a multiyear contract with ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” last year, although it hasn’t yet been confirmed whether he will remain in the role, the story notes.

The piece reports: “The right-handed pitcher joined Major League Baseball in 1988 and over his 20-year career he played for the Baltimore Orioles, Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks and finally the Boston Red Sox, where he helped them win World Series titles in 2004 and 2007.”

The report adds: “He recently revealed to the Boston Globe that he had suffered a heart attack in 2011 while watching his wife, Shonda, run in the New York City marathon. She has also been treated for cancer, having been diagnosed with stage 2 malignant melanoma in 2001."

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Editor-in-Chief Ousted in Shakeup at TV Guide Magazine

TV Guide magazine is experiencing a shakeup, with the editor-in-chief among the casualties. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that editor-in-chief Debra Birnbaum is out, along with features director Carol Dittbrenner.

Additionally, a member of the magazine’s public relations team and a marketing staff member were let go in the shakeout, which came down Wednesday.

“The moves come on the heels of last week's ouster of columnist Will Keck and critic Bruce Fretts," the report notes.

Birnbaum’s position has been cut and won’t be filled, the article adds. She had worked as editor-in-chief since May 2008, after replacing Ian Birch.

The report adds: “The print magazine has struggled in recent years, with more viewers turning to the onscreen guides on their TVs. In 2005, the magazine went through an overhaul and relaunched as a glossy entertainment publication. Its circulation was just over 2 million for the six months ending June 30, 2013, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.”

debra birnbaum.jpgDebra Birnbaum

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CNN Abandons News and Entertainment Block a Year After Its Debut

CNN is shuttering a news and entertainment block just one year after its debut. Media Moves reports that the service is pulling the plug on the eight-hour syndicated block CNN Latino, which will cease operations later this month.

“Apparently, not everything was possible for CNN Latino,” the story notes, referring to the block’s slogan, “Todo es posible.”

An unknown number of employees will lose their jobs with the cancellation of the block, the story reports.

In a statement, the cable news network said: “CNN Latino was a bold effort to continue CNN’s commitment to the U.S. Hispanic marketplace. Unfortunately, despite the great efforts of many talented people, CNN Latino was not able to fulfill our business expectations and we are discontinuing the programming this month. Over the course of the past year we learned a lot and we will use what we learned to continue to innovate and evolve our presence in the Hispanic community.”

Isabel Bucaram, a spokesperson for CNN en Espanol, said: “CNN Latino staff will be impacted, but CNNE staff personnel will not." The report adds: "She would not elaborate as to the number of employees [who] will lose their jobs with the cancellation of CNN Latino."

The service, which produced syndicated Spanish-language content for U.S. Latinos, was picked up by stations in cities including New York, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Miami and Tampa. Some of the local stations complemented the syndicated content with their own programming, such as the local KBEH program “Sin Limites” in Los Angeles, hosted by Elizabeth Espinosa.

"Sarykarmen Rivera quit her job at Telemundo Austin to join CNN Latino Tampa Bay as anchor of a local news magazine morning show called 'Buenos Dias Tampa Bay,'" the report notes.

“No word yet on whether any of those shows will survive after CNN Latino’s closure, but it seems unlikely,” the piece adds.

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Report: Selena Gomez Left Rehab Early, Against Advice of Staff

Actress Selena Gomez has left a six-week rehab program after just 14 days, departing against the “strenuous objections” of the program’s staff, reports TMZ.com.

Gomez, who starred in the Disney Channel’s “Wizards of Waverly Place,” reportedly checked into The Meadows after New Year’s for alcohol, pot and Ambien, the article says, adding, “in addition to what her people believe is an unhealthy union with Justin Bieber.”

Gomez has had a relationship with pop star Bieber, who has recently had a number of run-ins with the law. As previously reported, pilots on a leased Gulfstream IV luxury jet had to wear oxygen masks because the plane they were flying for Bieber and his friends was so full of marijuana smoke.

“But two weeks in, Selena bailed so she could go the Sundance Film Festival for her upcoming movie," TMZ reports. "She told her people she would return to the rehab facility after Sundance, but when it was over Selena decided she was cured and there was no reason to return."

The article adds: “Problem is ... that's not the way the medical staff at The Meadows sees it ... the treatment program is 45-days and Selena bailed four weeks early. We're told the staff feels it's essential in any recovery to complete the therapy.”

Thumbnail image for selena-gomez-justin-bieber.jpgSelena Gomez and Justin Bieber

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Social Media 'Erupts' When the Winner of NBC's 'The Biggest Loser' Is Announced

"A day after Rachel Frederickson won the latest season of 'The Biggest Loser,' after shedding nearly 60 percent of her body weight, attention wasn’t focused on her $250,000 win -- but rather the criticism surrounding her loss," reported The Washington Post yesterday, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014.

The story says, "The 5-foot-4, 24-year-old Frederickson dropped from 260 pounds to 105 under the show’s rigorous exercise and diet regimen -- but also time spent on her own before the finale. ... Frederickson’s newly thin frame lit up Twitter on Wednesday, with many viewers pointing to the surprised expressions on the faces of trainers Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper during the show’s Tuesday night finale. Many tweeted that Frederickson looked anorexic and unhealthy, while others congratulated her for dropping 155 pounds."

The article also notes, "Frederickson’s body mass index, a measure of height and weight, is below the normal range, said Jillian Lampert, senior director of the Emily Program, an eating disorder treatment program based in St. Paul, Minn. But she said the criticism directed against Frederickson isn’t helpful. 'As a society we often criticize people for being at higher weights -- that’s part of why we have the TV show "The Biggest Loser" -- and then we feel free to criticize lower weight,' Lampert said."

rachel frederickson-before and after-biggest loser.jpgRachel Frederickson -- before and after

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ABC Greenlights Drama Series

ABC has placed a series order for a new drama. Deadline.com reports that the network gave a straight-to-series order for 10 episodes of the space-age drama “The Astronaut Wives Club.” The show is set for a summer rollout, the story reports.

The show will join “Mistresses,” which will be in its second season, on ABC’s summer schedule, the piece notes. “The Astronaut Wives Club” is from Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire and Michael London’s Groundswell Productions.

The order comes just 10 days after the project was given a pilot order. The show will probably be marketed as a limited “event” series, the piece says.

Savage will write, marking her first TV writing gig since co-creating “Gossip Girl” with Schwartz, the story adds. The project is set in 1969 and looks at the women who stood by the male astronauts of America’s space age. The project is based on a book published last year by Lily Koppel.

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Google's YouTube Gets New Chief

In an appointment that demonstrates the importance of YouTube to Google's growth, Variety reports that Google has named Susan Wojcicki, one of the company’s earliest employees, to run the YouTube unit.

Wojcicki, currently senior vice president of ads and commerce, will replace Salar Kamangar, who is senior vice president of YouTube and video. Google didn’t say what role Kamangar is shifting to, although the story notes that he’s expected to lead an early-stage venture at the search company.

In a statement, Google Chief Executive Larry Page said: “Salar and the whole YouTube team have built something amazing. YouTube is a billion-person global community curating videos for every possibility. Anyone uploading their creative content can reach the whole world and even make money. Like Salar, Susan has a healthy disregard for the impossible and is excited about improving YouTube in ways that people will love."

The article notes, “Wojcicki joined Google in 1999 as the 16th employee, becoming the search engine’s first marketing exec, and founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin initially ran the company out of her garage in Menlo Park, Calif. She cut the company’s first deals to license search technology and led the initial development of Google’s image search.”

susan wojcicki.pngSusan Wojcicki

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New Fox Business Show Gets Name -- With a Familiar Ring to It -- and Start Date; Launch Brings 'a Slew of Changes' to the Channel's Lineup

A new show slated for the Fox Business Network now has a name and a debut date. TVNewser reports that the show centered on former CNBC host Maria Bartiromo will bow Feb. 24, and will be called “Opening Bell with Maria Bartiromo.”

The name is similar to that of her former show on CNBC, “Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo.” Her new program on Fox Business will air in the morning, as the name suggests, from 9-11 a.m. ET.

The piece reports: “The launch of Bartiromo’s show sets off a slew of changes to the FBN lineup. With Bartiromo going on the air at 9 a.m. ET, ‘Imus in the Morning’ will end 20 minutes earlier. ‘Varney & Co.,’ which currently airs from 9:20 to 11 a.m. ET, will slide to 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET. ‘Markets Now,’ FBN’s four-hour block helmed by a rotating cast of FBN anchors, will be condensed to one hour and will air from 1 p.m. ET-2 p.m. ET.”

Thumbnail image for maria bartiromo 2.jpgMaria Bartiromo

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History's Next Big Miniseries Will Focus on Two Huge Conflicts

The next big miniseries from History has been set, and it will focus on a period of time marked by two global conflicts. The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that the project will span the 30 years that included World War I and World War II.

Called “World Wars,” the six-part series will air on History and H2, and will be telecast in 160 countries, the story says. That’s more countries than were involved in either of the conflicts, the report points out.

“The project, which was filmed in both the U.S. and Europe, will feature interviews with Gen. Colin Powell, former British Prime Minister John Major, former Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and Sen. John McCain, among others,” the piece reports.

The story adds: “This year is the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, which was the start of World War I. The series begins there and follows world events through the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler's rise, the Holocaust, Pearl Harbor and eventually the end of World War II with Japan's surrender in 1945.”

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CBS Unveils New Partnership With NFL

CBS and the NFL have taken the wraps off a new deal that will have the CBS broadcast network and the NFL Network joining forces to produce and televise "Thursday Night Football" for the 2014 season and possibly beyond.

CBS will televise eight games early in the season, with those games also to be simulcast on NFL Network. NFL Network will also televise eight games late in the season during the runup to the playoffs. The games will include 14 on Thursday nights and two Saturday games late in the season.

Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will broadcast the games. The NFL has the option to extend the deal for an additional year.

The partners issued a press release detailing the agreement. Please click here to read the full press release.

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Why Pilots on Justin Bieber's Plane Had to Wear Gas Masks (You May Be Able to Guess)

According to an official incident report obtained by NBC News, pilots on a leased Gulfstream IV luxury jet on which 19-year-old pop superstar Justin Bieber was flying along with his father and an entourage of 10 friends were forced to wear oxygen masks because the plane was so full of marijuana smoke.

Additionally, Bieber and his father were "extremely abusive" to a flight attendant, according to the report.

The official report on the incident says: “The captain of the flight stated that he warned the passengers, including Bieber, on several occasions to stop smoking marijuana. The captain also stated he needed to request that the passengers stop their harassing behavior toward the flight attendant and after several warnings asked the flight attendant to stay with him near the cockpit to avoid any further abuse.”

The incident report also states: “The flight attendant stated the passengers, including Bieber and his father, Jeremy Bieber, were extremely abusive verbally and she would not work another flight with them.”

The NBC News report adds: "The pilots, despite a pressurized cabin, were forced to wear their oxygen masks during the flight, according to multiple sources, so that they wouldn’t risk inhaling marijuana and failing any subsequent drug test, which would put their licenses at risk.

"According to officials, when the plane landed at Teterboro, a suburban airport that caters to the rich and famous and their private aircraft, it was met by DEA and Customs and Border Protection agents and police. There was still marijuana smoke inside the cabin, according to the report.

"Officials decided to question Bieber separately from the other passengers, said the report, because 'in past examinations, Bieber had become argumentative and abusive when together with his security team.'”

Bieber reportedly admitted during questioning that he had smoked marijuana and consumed alcohol.

"According to federal and regional sources, the troubled star, his father, and his entourage, who were headed to the New York City area to attend the Super Bowl and related parties, first drove toward the U.S.-Canadian border in a motor coach. They turned back and flew from Waterloo, Ont. to Teterboro instead," the NBC News report says. "After Bieber’s flight landed Friday, drug-sniffing dogs from Customs and Border Protection and the New York/New Jersey Port Authority Police Department sat down as they walked around the plane, meaning the dogs were alerting handlers to the possible presence of drugs. Authorities then boarded the jet, which multiple sources said reeked of marijuana. However, no unsmoked weed was found during the search."

Members of the flight crew were reportedly unwilling to file charges against Bieber or the other passengers, and they were allowed to go on their way, according to the report.

"After the Bieber entourage left, however, two sources said that authorities performed another search of the plane and found empty bags that appeared to have once contained marijuana. None of the items could be linked to Bieber, his father, or their guests," the story notes.

NBC News was unable to get official comment from Drug Enforcement Administration officials or Customs and Border Protection officials, the report adds.

Thumbnail image for justin bieber-bw.pngJustin Bieber

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Comedy-Drama Series Canceled After Eight Seasons

A long-running comedy-drama series has come to the end of its run after eight seasons on the air. E! Online reports that the USA Network is pulling the plug on "Psych" after its current eighth season ends.

The show, which stars James Roday and Dule Hill, will air its final episode on Wednesday, March 26, at 9 p.m. After the finale, "the entire cast and series creator Steve Franks will take part in a one-hour live show and Q&A at 10 p.m., titled 'Psych After Show,'" the report notes.

In a statement, USA Network President Chris McCumber said: "Psych has made an indelible imprint on the television landscape, with a unique brand of comedy. The final season celebrates the iconic characters that have made this show so beloved, and will be an exclamation point on the series' incredible run. And while the series will wrap in March somehow I don't believe we've heard the last of Shawn and Gus."

Following news of the cancellation, Franks tweeted: "It has been an amazing joyride these last eight years. Thanks to everyone who tagged along for the journey."

USA also recently wrapped up "Burn Notice" after seven seasons.

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'American Idol' Favorite Announces Run for Congress -- Watch the Campaign Video

One of the best-known "American Idol" contestants has announced a bid for a seat in Congress. The Los Angeles Times reports that Clay Aiken, who finished second in the singing competition's second season, is running as a Democrat in his native North Carolina.

"Aiken officially launched his campaign for the seat held by Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers on Wednesday, and he’s already issued a campaign video," the story reports. "In the nearly five-minute video [seen below] the 35-year-old pop crooner stands in a modest living room, saying it’s the home of a family friend who took him and his mother in years ago."

Aiken says in the video: "For most Americans, there are no golden tickets. At least not like the kind you see on TV. More families are struggling today than at any time in our history. And here in North Carolina, we've suffered more than our share of pain."

He criticizes Ellmers in the video -- "albeit as nicely as expected of a Southern gent," the Times reports -- singling out the lawmaker's votes on the government shutdown and her stance on the military. "He also acknowledged his success in the music industry and how it opened the door for his humanitarian work," the story notes.

Aiken says in the video: “The district where I’m running is represented by a congresswoman who I believe went to Washington with good intentions." The Times adds: "It's a potent mix of campaign cheese and down-home realness -- but will it be enough to win the hearts of voters in North Carolina?"

Aiken finished a close second to Ruben Studdard on the "American Idol" second-season finale in 2003. In the years since then, the Times piece notes, Aiken "proved that losing 'Idol' could be just as lucrative. He has since released six albums, including a Christmas record, with all but one of them landing in the top 10. His last album, 'Steadfast,' was released in 2012."

Aiken was also on "Celebrity Apprentice," where he again finished second -- that time to Arsenio Hall.

Here's Aiken's first campaign clip:

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CBS Drama Lineup Dominates Tuesday Prime

CBS's Tuesday night drama lineup proved to be more than a match for the network's broadcast competition, based on Nielsen overnights. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the Tiffany Network coasted to a comfortable win in the key 18-49 demo — with a dominant performance in total viewers.

Most of the CBS lineup was up from its most recent numbers. "NCIS: Los Angeles" surged 21% to a 2.9 average in the 18-49 demo and "Person of Interest" ticked up 5% to a 2.0, while "NCIS" held steady with a 3.0. "NCIS" was easily the night's top show in total viewers with 19.32 million.

The closest any of the broadcast competition came was NBC, which got a 2.2 average in 18-49 out of its two-hour "Biggest Loser" finale. The special "Winter Gold: First Look at the Sochi Olympics" managed only a 1.4.

Fox and ABC finished in a tie for third in the broadcast standings, well off the pace. Fox's best number in viewers 18-49 was a 1.6 for "New Girl," off 16% from its most recent original. "Dads" delivered a 1.5, equaling last week's result; "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" settled for a 1.4, losing 26% from its most recent Tuesday original; and an earlier "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" repeat managed a 1.3.

ABC's "Killer Women" continued to struggle in the 10 p.m. slot, matching its series low with an average rating of 0.7 in viewers 18-49. Otherwise, the network's results were mixed: "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." dipped 5% from its most recent original to a 2.1, while "The Goldbergs" rose 13% to a 1.7 and "Trophy Wife" climbed 11% to a 1.0.

For prime time overall, CBS's 2.7 average led the way in adults 18-49, followed by NBC (1.9 average), Fox and ABC (both at 1.4) and Univision (1.3). CBS owned total viewers, averaging 15.9 million to outdistance NBC (6.7 million), ABC (4.6 million), Fox (3.4 million) and Univision (3.3 million).

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Veteran TV Character Actor, Known for Long Run on 'Little House on the Prairie,' Dead at 89

A longtime television character actor who is best remembered for his long run on "Little House on the Prairie" has died. The Associated Press reports that Richard Bull, who was known for his role as the long-suffering Nels Oleson on “Little House," died Monday at the Motion Picture & Television Fund’s hospital in the Los Angeles area. He was 89.

Bull died of natural causes after he was hospitalized with pneumonia, according to a spokeswoman for the fund.

Bull appeared in many television shows, going back to the 1950s -- including early appearances on “Perry Mason” and "Highway Patrol." Other roles included "The Fugitive," "I Spy," "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," "My Three Sons," "Run for Your Life" and many other shows.

Before landing his career-defining role on "Little House," Bull had a steady role as the doctor on the Seaview on the late 1960s series "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea." He was a frequent guest on major Western series, including "Bonanza," "The Virginian," "Death Valley Days" and "Gunsmoke." He also made the rounds of cop shows, including "The F.B.I.," "Columbo," "Mannix" and "The Streets of San Francisco."

He often acted with his wife, actress Barbara Collentine, to whom he was married for 65 years, the piece notes.

To many, he is best known as Nels Oleson, whom he portrayed from 1974-1983, appearing in 147 episodes of "Little House on the Prairie." The NBC series was based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s novels about growing up.

"Everyone loved him so much," his “Little House" co-star Alison Arngrim told the AP. She played Nellie, his daughter. "People are posting (condolences) in six different languages on my Facebook page," she said.

Bull remained active in his career well into the 2000s, with his most recent TV appearance in an episode of “Boss” in 2011.

richard bull.pngRichard Bull

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Confirmed: Part of the Super Bowl Halftime Show Was Faked

Speculation has been swirling since the Super Bowl that part of the halftime show was faked, and now it has been confirmed. The New York Daily News reports that Flea, the bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, said in a statement posted to the band’s website that band members faked their performances during the show.

The speculation that Flea had faked his performance began after Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid tweeted that he was suspicious, writing, “That guitar is plugged into NOTHING,” the story reports.

On the band’s website, Flea wrote, “When we were asked by the NFL and Bruno to play our song 'Give It Away' at the Super Bowl, it was made clear to us that the vocals would be live, but the bass, drums, and guitar would be pre-recorded.”

He added, “There was not any room for argument on this, the NFL does not want to risk their show being botched by bad sound, period.”

Flea also wrote: “We recorded a track for the day, just banged one out from our hearts that was very like in spirit to the versions we have been playing live the last few years with our beloved Josh [Klinghoffer] on guitar.”

flea of red hot chili peppers.jpgFlea

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Three-Time Emmy Winner Pulls Out of Fox's '24' Project

One of the key players in Fox's "24" reboot "24: Live Another Day" has pulled out of the project for personal reasons, Nellie Andreeva reports on Deadline.com.

Judy Davis -- a three-time Emmy winner and 11-time Emmy nominee -- pulled out of what has been described as her “meaty villainous role,” the story reports. She has been kept from leaving her native Australia for London, where the project is taping, because of personal family matters, the report notes.

Davis "had to pull out a couple of weeks before the recurring role was scheduled to begin filming,” Andreeva writes. “The producers are expected to find a replacement quickly with no impact on production.”

Davis was set to play Margot, a British national who is the widow of a terrorist. The actress has been a perennial Emmy nominee in the miniseries and TV movie category, including winning as lead actress in 2001 for "Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows," and for supporting actress in 1995 for "Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story" and in 2007 for "The Starter Wife."

She also has Oscar nominations for "A Passage to India" (1984) and "Husbands and Wives" (1993).

“24: Live Another Day” is scheduled to premiere May 5.

judy davis 2.jpgJudy Davis

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Arrests Made in Connection With Philip Seymour Hoffman's Death

Three men and a woman were arrested Tuesday in New York in connection with an inquiry into the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, reports The New York Times, citing a law enforcement official.

The suspects were found with more than 350 bags of heroin at three apartments at 302 Mott Street, the official said.

The story reports: “Information stemming from the investigation into Mr. Hoffman’s death led them to the building, the official said. Mr. Hoffman, widely considered one of the best actors of his generation, died on Sunday in an apparent heroin overdose."

Hoffman died about a mile from where the arrests were made. He was found with packages of heroin that were branded with the label “Ace of Spades,” but the bags in the arrest didn’t have those types of labels, the story notes, citing the official.

"Earlier Tuesday, police officials said that the heroin found in Mr. Hoffman’s apartment did not contain fentanyl, a powerful additive that has been tied to 22 recent fatal overdoses in Pennsylvania. The city medical examiner had not yet reached a definitive cause of death for the actor," the story reports.

Meanwhile, the actor's family issued a statement saying plans are in the works for a private funeral service in New York for “the family and close friends," adding that plans are also under way for "a memorial service later in the month also to be held in New York."

Thumbnail image for philip-seymour-hoffman.jpgPhilip Seymour Hoffman

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Who Was the Target of One Out of Every 10 Political Jokes by Jay Leno During His 'Tonight Show' Tenure -- and Just How Many Jokes Would That Be? (Here's the Top 10)

With Jay Leno on his way out this week as the host of NBC's “The Tonight Show,” the Center for Media Affairs at George Mason University has analyzed his opening monologues to assess which public figures bore the brunt of his jokes.

EW.com’s Inside TV reports that Leno's favorite target was former President Bill Clinton, according to the study, which found that one out of every 10 political jokes that Leno told from 1992 to 2014 was about Clinton.

“Leno’s monologues focused on power and scandal, and Bill Clinton was the top two-fer,” the Center for Media Affairs’ Professor Robert Lichter said.

The center studied 43,892 jokes about public affairs and public figures during that time. Clinton figured in 4,601 jokes, making him the lead target. Democrats were the targets of 10,885 jokes, or 15% more than the jokes told at Republicans' expense.

Here are Leno's top 10 political targets:

1. Bill Clinton (4,607)
2. George Bush (3,239)
3. Al Gore (1,026)
4. Barack Obama (1,011)
5. Hillary Clinton (939)
6. Dick Cheney (673)
7. Monica Lewinsky (454)
8. Bob Dole (452)
9. John McCain (426)
10. Mitt Romney (361)

bill clinton no 1.jpgBill Clinton

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Game Show Enjoying a Ratings Resurgence

A longtime TV game show is experiencing a ratings resurgence, including hitting an all-time household rating high for the week of Jan. 26.

“Now it’s just getting ridiculous, in a good way, for Steve Harvey and his syndicated daytime game show, ‘Family Feud,’” the New York Post reports.

The show hit a household rating of 6.1, which translates into more than 9.2 million viewers, comparable to the audience size of “Judge Judy,” the story notes.

“It’s the first time the show has surpassed the 6.0 mark since Nielsen introduced its ‘People Meters’ (which measure ratings) back in 1988,” the article notes. “‘Feud’ also set a series-record 3.1 rating among women 25-54, daytime’s ‘money’ demo -- beating usual demo champ ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and its sister show, ‘Jeopardy!’”

Since Harvey joined the show in 2010, the ratings have jumped more than 330%, the piece notes. “Family Feud” is likely benefiting from Harvey’s other TV job, “The Steve Harvey Show,” which is also performing well among viewers.

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Writers Guild Honors 'Breaking Bad,' 'Veep' -- We Have the Full List of WGA Winners in TV and Film

The Writers Guild of America has rolled out its annual honors in television, film, radio and other media, and the ceremony provided another chance for AMC's "Breaking Bad" to rack up accolades. The acclaimed series, which wrapped its final season four months ago, took the WGA for best drama series, with HBO's "Veep" claiming the prize for comedy.

TVWeek Open Mic writer Hillary Atkin has a full report on the awards, and you can click through to a complete list of the winners in all categories. Click here to read Hillary's report.

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Super Bowl Counterprogramming Event Beats Everything Else on Cable

A counterprogramming event scored a big ratings win on Super Bowl Sunday, topping everything else on cable that night. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that Animal Planet’s “Puppy Bowl X” pulled in 13.5 million viewers, making it the most-watched telecast of the night on cable.

“The adorable show, which pits pound pups against each other in a furry-tastic game of faux-football, was also the most tweeted "Puppy Bowl" ever, generating more than 340,000 tweets and trending on Facebook for much of the day,” the story reports.

The telecast likely received a boost from its celebrity appearances, which included President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, with their first dogs Bo and Sunny. Other guests included Ricky Gervais and Rob Lowe.

All the pets featured were up for adoption, and most have already found homes, the piece adds. The pets included dozens of puppies and kittens, along with hedgehog cheerleaders and hamster sports reporters who fly in a blimp above the tiny stadium.

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Stephen King Story in the Works for TV Drama Series

A 2007 Stephen King story is reportedly being developed into a television drama series. TheWrap.com reports that the short story “Ayana” is in the works at Universal Television.

NBC is considering the project, although Universal will take it to other outlets if the broadcaster passes, the piece notes. The pilot will be written by Chris Sparling of “Buried,” with Ben Haber producing and Jordan Kerner of “Less Than Zero” executive producing.

According to StephenKing.com, the story is about a man whose father is dying of pancreatic cancer. “A strange little girl named Ayana arrives at his hospital room and gives him a kiss -- but not a ‘kiss of death.’ Instead his father miraculously recovers," the website reports. "The narrator must repay this miracle, though, and over the years is called upon to do so.”

stephen king.jpgStephen King

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'Arrow' Spinoff Has Its Female Lead

A new superhero project that is a spinoff of the CW's "Arrow" has found its female lead. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the CW pilot "Flash" cast Candice Patton of “The Game” in the role.

The pilot stars “Glee” actor Grant Gustin as Barry Allen/The Flash, while Patton will play Iris West, a graduate student who is also the daughter of Detective West, played by Jesse L. Martin. The character is a love interest for Barry Allen, the piece notes.

“The Flash” is from Warner Bros. Television and will start with a stand-alone pilot, after initial plans to launch it with a backdoor pilot, the story notes.

candice patton.pngCandice Patton

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Apocalyptic Drama 'The Messengers' Gets Pilot Order

A pilot for an apocalyptic drama called “The Messengers” has received an order. Deadline.com reports that the project was greenlighted by the CW, continuing the network's focus on the genre/fantasy arena.

The project is about a mysterious object that crashes to Earth, killing a group of apparent strangers with an energy pulse. They come back to life, however, and learn their role is to prevent the Apocalypse.

The project is from Basil Iwanyk of the "Clash of the Titans” film franchise and CBS TV Studios. The project is written by Eoghan O’Donnell of “Teen Wolf,” with Ted Humphrey of “The Good Wife” supervising.

The project joins five other pilots in the works at the CW, with “The Flash,” “iZombie” and the “Supernatural” spinoff among them, along with "Identity" and "Jane the Virgin."

basil iwanyk.pngBasil Iwanyk

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What's the Big News From Sochi so Far?

Journalists covering the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, already have a story at hand: the “terrible tales of blocked toilets, broken doors and toxic water supplies,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“Despite billions of dollars having been poured into the Olympic Village and infrastructure of Sochi, the conditions for visiting journalists are rustic to the extreme,” the article reports.

Even though the Olympics don’t officially kick off until Friday with the opening ceremony, the Games “are already starting off on a sour note,” the piece adds.

The story reports: “With light bulbs, WiFi, door handles -- and even the doors themselves -- noticeably absent from many hotels housing the media, members of the press are sharing their horror stories on Twitter.”

Harry Reekie of CNN wrote that the network booked its rooms five months ago, but apparently didn’t specify that the room should have working blinds. (He posted a photo of a room with a curtain rod hanging akimbo from the window.) “Shambles,” he wrote.

Washington Post reporter Liz Clarke wrote, “Official motto of #Sochi2014 is ‘Hot. Cool. Yours.’ After 2 days, I vote for 'Not. Working. Yet.' So much here is half-built or out-of-order.”

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Acclaimed Netflix Series Gets Another Season

A series that has helped make Netflix a player in original programming has been picked up by the online streaming service for a third season. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that the high-stakes political drama "House of Cards" was renewed for season three.

"The early renewal for a third installment, confirmed by a Netflix spokesperson, comes ahead of the Valentine's Day rollout of its second season on the streaming service," the story reports. "'House of Cards' was originally given a two-season commitment, so the news makes good on Netflix's chief content officer Ted Sarandos' indication last fall that he wanted to extend the show's life past that."

The series, which stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, became the first digitally distributed production to earn major Emmy nominations last year, the report notes. The show was adapted from an original BBC production of the same name by Beau Willimon.

Season three has David Fincher on board as an executive producer and will have 13 episodes, the report notes.

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Tech Writer Says Newly Named Microsoft CEO 'Needs to Make Microsoft More Like Google.' It's Our Recommended Must-Read Story of the Day

Here's the terrific opening of Bloomberg Businessweek tech writer Ashlee Vance's must-read article about how Microsoft's newly named CEO needs to make Microsoft more like Google:

"About two years ago, Microsoft’s research arm described something amazing in a blog post. It had developed a contact lens equipped with a tiny chip that could measure the blood sugar level of tears. ..."

"Microsoft earned a few pats on the back in the press for this announcement. But the reception was nothing compared to what Google received [a few weeks ago] when it unveiled -- wait for it -- a contact lens that can measure blood sugar levels. Hundreds of stories celebrating Google’s innovative thinking appeared and portrayed these contact lenses as a natural extension to the Google Glass product churned out by the company’s research division. 'Google doing amazing things,' wrote one commenter on Google’s blog post about the invention. 'Again.'

"The projects sound similar because they are, in fact, the same idea. Babak Parviz was a researcher at the University of Washington who had teamed up with Microsoft on the original project. He later took a job at Google, spearheaded the Google Glass product and then reintroduced the contact lens idea this year. The difference in reception from the outside observers shows why Parviz may have been right to move the work to Google. There’s a belief that Google will back this science experiment with enough energy and resources to turn it into an actual product that people can buy. When it comes to envisioning and delivering the future, Google is clearly the company people now seem to turn to most.

"Of all the questions that Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s new chief executive officer, will face, the most pressing one may well revolve around deciding whether or not Microsoft still wants to be an arbiter of technology."

We hope we've whetted your appetite to read the entire article, which we found both insightful and provocative. Please click here to read the rest of the piece at the website of Bloomberg Businessweek.

satya nadella, microsoft CEO.jpgSatya Nadella, above, Microsoft's new CEO, has been with the company 22 years. Most recently he was in charge of Microsoft's cloud and enterprises division.

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Two Broadcast Nets Tie for Monday Ratings Win; Fox Show Hits All-Time Low

Two broadcast networks finished in a dead heat for the top spot in Monday prime time, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that ABC and CBS tied with 2.4 average ratings in the demo.

The two networks were also virtually deadlocked in total viewers: ABC averaged 8.799 million to CBS's 8.773 million.

Fox, meanwhile, saw its numbers dip, with "The Following" hitting an all-time low with a 1.9 average in viewers 18-49, a decline of 5% from a week ago. "Almost Human" also lost ground, slipping 10% from its most recent episode to a 1.8.

NBC didn't get much out of its two-hour special "Sports Illustrated Swimsuit: 50 Years of Beautiful," which managed only a 0.9 average in the 18-49 demo. The network's "Hollywood Game Night" equaled its 1.5 from a week ago.

ABC's two-hour "The Bachelor" ticked up 4% from last week to a 2.6 average in 18-49, while "Castle" inched up 5% from its most recent installment to a 2.1.

CBS had the top show of the night on broadcast in "How I Met Your Mother," even though the program was off 13% from last week's season high with a 3.3 average in adults 18-49. "2 Broke Girls" held steady to last week's season high with a 3.0, and "Mike & Molly" also equaled last week's season high, a 2.6.

CBS's "Mom" was off 4% from last week with a 2.3 average in 18-49, and "Intelligence" held steady to last week's 1.5.

For prime time overall, ABC and CBS led the way with their 2.4 average ratings in the 18-49 demo, followed by Fox (1.8 average), Univision (1.3) and NBC (1.1). In total viewers, ABC's 8.799 million and CBS's 8.773 million were ahead of Fox (6.077 million), with both Univision and NBC registering 3.803 million.

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After Death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, a Star of a Hit TV Series Opens Up About His Own Drug Problems

With the sudden death of Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman due to an apparent drug overdose over the weekend, another actor, Shawn Pyfrom, who had a long run on the ABC series "Desperate Housewives," has opened up about his own struggles with substance abuse.

Pyfrom wrote on his Tumblr account, "I am an alcoholic and a drug addict," adding that he "had to write this open letter" after he heard about Hoffman's death, News.com.au reports.

Pyfrom played Andrew Van De Kamp, the drug-addicted son of Marcia Cross's character Bree Van De Kamp, on the ABC series for eight years, until the show ended its run in 2012. He said he has been sober for five months, and decided to open up in the hope it will help other addicts get clean.

"Anytime a person uses drugs, they are taking the chance that their life will be taken from them," he wrote. He said he does not want to be a "preacher of sobriety," nor does he wish to judge those who are struggling with substance issues. His hope, he wrote, is to "encourage someone to hold on to their life."

He wrote: "I am an addict. And I've never been more proud, saying it. Because when I think about where I've been and where I am now … I am proud of the man who has addressed and admitted to himself what was once a clouded denial.

"I have no judgments … only compassion for those who currently struggle with their addictions."

The report notes: "Indeed, high-profile deaths have a way of inspiring others to get healthy. Eminem said the death of Heath Ledger helped him get off pills, and Robin Williams famously called the speedball death of John Belushi a 'wake-up call' that sent him to rehab."

shawn pyfrom.pngShawn Pyfrom

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What's Next for Oscar-Nominated 'Wolf of Wall Street' Pair Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill? They're Joining Forces Again

Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill, who star together in Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street," have decided to stick together for another project. Deadline.com reports that the actors are working on an adaptation of “The Ballad Of Richard Jewell," Marie Brenner’s 1997 Vanity Fair article about the security guard who was falsely accused of being the bomber at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

"Initially hailed a hero for reporting the suspicious knapsack and then helping clear bystanders from the area before it exploded, Jewell was subsequently vilified just three days later as a potential suspect, his life and reputation torn apart in the advent of the 24 hour news cycle," the article reports, noting that DiCaprio "will play a lawyer Jewell knew casually, a Southern attorney who mostly did real estate closings and seemed in over his head, but he guided Jewell through a hellish Twilight Zone that went on even after the FBI officially cleared Jewell’s name three months later."

Hill is set to play Jewell in the film, the piece reports.

"The film will be produced by Appian Way’s DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran, Hill and Kevin Misher, the latter of whom brought in the article," the story notes. "Misher Films’ Andy Berman will also have a producing role. Mike Ireland is overseeing for Fox."

The pairing comes as both DiCaprio and Hill are nominated for Oscars for "The Wolf of Wall Street," the report notes, with DiCaprio up for lead actor and Hill nominated for his supporting role. "It is particularly a strong role for Hill, who continues his remarkable transition from comic actor to serious roles that started with an Oscar-nominated turn in 'Moneyball' and continues with the Rupert Goold-directed 'True Story,' in which Hill plays Michael Finkel, a disgraced journalist who got the chance at redemption when a suspected killer (James Franco) took Finkel’s name, and would only talk to that journalist," the report adds.

jonah hill.pngJonah Hill

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ABC Fires the Band on 'Dancing with the Stars'

ABC has fired longtime “Dancing with the Stars” bandleader Harold Wheeler, who will take his 28-member group of musicians and singers with him, according to The Hollywood Reporter. In place of the orchestra, the show will use more sound recordings, the story adds.

The decision was blasted by American Federation of Musicians President Ray Hair, who condemned replacing the band with pre-existing sound recordings and what he called a “small electric band.”

“Viewers, whether they are young or old, will reject that as artistic fraud,” he said.

The Harold Wheeler Orchestra and Singers had performed on the show for 17 seasons, the story notes.

ABC and BBC Worldwide Productions acknowledged the change, but didn’t explain the reason for firing the band.

“Our talented music director, Harold Wheeler, will not be joining us for season 18 of ‘Dancing with the Stars,’” the companies said in a statement. “We are grateful to him and his band for their amazing work and years of collaboration. We wish him the best of luck.”

The union claims the decision was spurred by pressure from ABC on BBC Worldwide “to cut corners and pander to a younger viewing audience,” the story adds.

harold wheeler orchestra.pngHarold Wheeler

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Philip Seymour Hoffman's Haunting Confession to a Stranger Two Weeks Ago

The late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman made a seemingly bizarre admission to a stranger two weeks ago at the Sundance Film Festival, telling him, “I’m a heroin addict,” reports the New York Post’s Page Six.

Magazine publisher John Arundel told the Post he didn’t immediately recognize the actor, and asked him what he did for a living.

“He said, ‘I’m a heroin addict,’” Arundel said. He said Hoffman then took off his “sloppy hat” and the publisher recognized him, saying, “Oh, you’re Philip Seymour Hoffman.”

The actor replied, “Bingo!” and then added, “I just got out of rehab.”

Hoffman’s addiction issues were so bad that his partner of 14 years, costume designer Mimi O’Donnell, had recently asked him to move out of their Jane Street apartment in New York City’s Greenwich Village, the story says.

As previously reported, about 70 baggies of heroin were found in Hoffman’s apartment. Hoffman, 46, was found dead Sunday, with what officials said was a syringe in his arm.

philip seymour hoffman2.jpgPhilip Seymour Hoffman

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Why the Latest 'Jeopardy!' Champ Is Polarizing Viewers

The newest champion of the long-running TV game show "Jeopardy!" has become a polarizing figure among the program's fans. TheWire reports that Arthur Chu, who has racked up three consecutive victories on the show, is alienating some viewers with his use of game theory strategies.

His strategies “have made for a frustrating television experience for viewers,” the piece notes.

His technique is to hunt for the Daily Doubles, which are usually hidden in the toughest (and highest-paying) answers. So instead of starting off with the lowest-paying squares, he starts with the highest ones. When those squares are finished in one category, he jumps to the highest-paying squares in another column.

“It's a grating experience for the viewer, who isn't given enough time to get in a rhythm or fully comprehend the new subject area. And it makes for ugly, scattered boards,” the story reports.

The piece adds: “However, Wednesday's game showed the benefits of that strategy. Arthur's searching was rewarded with all three of the game's Daily Doubles. Arthur was particularly fond of the ‘true’ Daily Double, wagering all his money the first time (he lost it all) but quickly recovering with a massive wager later on another Daily Double. While most contestants are hesitant to go all-or-nothing, Arthur is happily taking those calculated risks.”

Described as a “hero-villain” by ABC News, Chu will return to “Jeopardy!” Feb. 24. From the Cleveland area, Chu works in insurance compliance but is an aspiring actor, the piece notes.

“I can understand it's less pleasant to watch, but the producers weren't paying me to make the show pleasant to watch,” Chu told ABC News. “If you were playing for fun, you could talk about poor sportsmanship, but within the rules, it's about winning. If you don't like it, change the rules."

arthur chu-jeopardy.jpgArthur Chu on "Jeopardy!"

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Video: Barbara Walters Defends Woody Allen, Sparking a Fracas on 'The View'

Sparks flew Monday on “The View” after Barbara Walters defended director Woody Allen against allegations from adopted daughter Dylan Farrow that he had sexually assaulted her. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Walters' comments sparked an argument with co-host Sherri Shepherd.

The issue has been a matter of debate since Dylan Farrow, the adopted daughter of Allen and Mia Farrow, wrote a first-person account in The New York Times that alleges childhood abuse. Allen’s representative called the article “untrue and disgraceful.”

Walters cited her long friendship with Allen and talked about how he behaves with his two daughters and Soon-Yi Previn, his wife.

“I have rarely seen a father as sensitive, as loving and caring as Woody is, and Soon-Yi, to those two girls,” she said. “I don’t know about Dylan. I can only tell you what I have seen now.”

Shepherd pointed out that sometimes people who have done bad things seem nice to other people. “We've heard so many cases of people going, 'He was the most wonderful person in the world. I would have never thought he would've…,'" she said.

Here's the clip:

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What Was the Second-Most-Watched Show on Super Bowl Sunday?

The Super Bowl set viewership records Sunday and was by far television's most watched show, as it always is, but the show that came in second that night has its own streak going.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that PBS’s “Downton Abbey” was the second-most-watched show Sunday night, making it the runner-up on Super Bowl Sunday for a third year in a row.

“Downton Abbey” averaged 6.8 million viewers in its 9 p.m. airing, which outpaced its performance against the Super Bowl last year, when it drew 6.6 million viewers, the piece notes. That means it outdrew all non-NFL programming Sunday night.

While demographics aren’t as important to the commercial-free PBS, “Downton Abbey” nevertheless was also the runner-up in the adults 18-49 segment, the story notes.

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TV Land Renews Series

TV Land has renewed one of its original series. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the cable channel ordered a fourth season of “The Exes,” with the new season of 12 episodes planned for the summer.

The order is down by three episodes from the show’s third season but matches the number of installments for its second season, the piece notes.

The show stars Kristen Johnston as a divorce attorney who introduces a newly single client, played by David Alan Basche, to two new roommates, played by Donald Faison and Wayne Knight. The program is drawing about 1.3 million viewers per week in its third season, which marks a 69% increase over TV Land’s prime-time average, the piece notes.

The third-season finale is set to air Feb. 26.

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Adult Swim Expands Its Prime-Time Lineup

Turner’s Adult Swim is expanding its prime-time programming. Variety reports that the service's programming block will extend into the 8 p.m. hour starting March 31.

The expansion will give Adult Swim an extra hour on the Cartoon Network. The added hour will feature back-to-back episodes of the Fox hit “King of the Hill,” the story says. At 9 p.m., the block will air an installment of Fox’s “The Cleveland Show,” with the two animated programs bridging to Adult Swim’s originals, such as “Robot Chicken” and “Aqua Teen.”

"As part of the change, Cartoon Network.com will add more original digital content aimed at its core boys demographic," the piece reports.

Said Stuart Snyder, Turner Broadcasting’s president of animation, young adults and kids media: “As Adult Swim continues to succeed with record ratings and connects with its audiences more than ever, it is imperative that we find a way to grow this part of the business that keeps the essence of what has made it successful and competitive.”

The programming block, started in 2001, has expanded several times, with its most recent expansion leading to its current 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. span.

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Turner Broadcasting Finally Answers Advertisers' Cries of 'I Want My Yabba Dabba Doo' and 'I've Got My Honey Boo Boo, But Where's My Boo Boo Bear?' Boomerang Cartoon Service to Finally Take Commercials

"[T]he all-cartoon-classics Boomerang [network] will be ... introduced officially this year for ad sales and promotional opportunities in the United States."

This announcement was made this morning, Feb. 4, 2014, by Turner Broadcasting's Animation, Young Adults and Kids Media division, which Turner calls AYAKM.

According to the announcement, "Boomerang is TBS Inc.'s 24-hour cable/satellite network offering the best in classic animated entertainment. In partnership with Cartoon Network, the service boasts 75 percent unduplicated programming and is available to cable/satellite operators and their customers in Spanish."

The official Boomerang website notes that some of the classic cartoon shows on the network include "The Flintstones," "The Yogi Bear Show," "Tom and Jerry," "The Smurfs," "Popeye" and "The Pink Panther and Pals."

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Award-Winning Fantasy Novel Being Adapted for TV Drama Series

A fantasy novel that received a string of awards, including the Hugo, the Nebula and the Bram Stoker Award for best novel, will be adapted into a television drama series.

Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that FremantleMedia North America bought the rights to Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” and will adapt the 2001 novel. Gaiman will executive produce the potential series with FremantleMedia.

It’s not the first time the book was eyed for a TV adaption, notes New York Magazine’s Vulture blog. HBO planned to develop a series a few years ago, but it apparently let the project “fall by the wayside,” the piece notes.

Deadline says the novel is about a war “between old and new gods: the traditional gods of biblical and mythological roots from around the world steadily losing believers to an upstart pantheon of gods reflecting society’s modern love of money, technology, media, celebrity and drugs.”

The article adds: “The story centers on Shadow Moon, an ex-con who becomes bodyguard and traveling partner to Mr. Wednesday, a conman but in reality one of the older gods, on a cross-country mission to gather his forces in preparation to battle the new deities.”

neil gaiman.pngNeil Gaiman

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'Quantum Leap' Star Materializes to Lead Cast of New Drama Series

The star of NBC's "Quantum Leap" will soon be back in the lead role of a drama series. EW.com's Inside TV reports that the new CBS “NCIS” spinoff, set in New Orleans, has cast Scott Bakula in the lead role.

Bakula, who more recently starred in TNT’s “Men of a Certain Age,” will play special agent Pride, a man who is said to embody New Orleans. CBS’s description of the show says that Pride is driven by the “need to do what’s right and does it all with warmth, passion, strength and humor. He’s a unique federal agent working in one of this country’s most unique cities.”

The network said the spinoff will feature cases handled by the NCIS New Orleans office, which stem from Florida to the Texas panhandle. The spinoff pilot will air as a two-part “NCIS” episode in the spring.

Bakula received four Emmy nominations for his work on "Quantum Leap" from 1989 through 1993, and was nominated again last year for a supporting role in "Behind the Candelabra." He is also known for his starring role on "Star Trek: Enterprise."

scott bakula.pngScott Bakula

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Disney Channel Renews Comedy Series

Disney Channel has picked up another season of a comedy series. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the channel ordered a third season to the family comedy “Dog with a Blog,” with production slated to start in April.

The show focuses on a talking dog named Stan who also maintains a blog. Voiced by Stephen Full, the dog helps his owners cope with life’s challenges.

The comedy was a top five series among kids 6-11 last year, the piece notes.

Adam Bonnett, executive vice president original programming at Disney Channel, said of the show: “Its relatable characters and unique approach to storytelling has made 'Dog With a Blog' a show the whole family can enjoy together. Season three will continue to deliver laugh-out-loud sitcom fun from a dog's point of view."

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McG of 'Supernatural' to Direct NBC Pilot

McG, whose Wonderland Sound and Vision co-produces the CW’s “Supernatural,” has been tapped to direct and executive produce NBC’s pilot “The Mysteries of Laura,” reports Deadline.com.

The move reunites him with Warner Bros. TV, where Wonderland was based for 12 years before it became independent last year, the story notes.

“Mysteries of Laura” is based on the Spanish series “Los Misterios de Laura,” which is about a female homicide detective who has trouble at home, in the form of her evil twin sons, the story notes.

McG.pngMcG

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House of Heroin: Report Says Philip Seymour Hoffman Had 70 Bags of Heroin, Prescription Drugs in Apartment

"Sources say 70 baggies of heroin, at least 50 of which were unopened, were found in [Philip Seymour Hoffman's] apartment — and were imprinted with ‘Ace of Spades' or stamped with an Ace of Hearts, indicating drugs manufactured with a powerful pain reliever called fentanyl," reports the New York Daily News.

The article also says, "In Hoffman’s apartment, one of the five prescription drugs police found was buprenorphine, which heroin addicts take to help kick a habit, sources said."

"Meanwhile, celebrity friends and supporters stopped by the Jane Street apartment a few blocks away where Hoffman had lived with girlfriend Mimi O’Donnell and their three children until his drug relapse," the report adds, saying that "Cate Blanchett, who Hoffman worked with on the 1999 movie 'The Talented Mr. Ripley,' came bearing gifts for the three kids — and she had tears in her eyes."

Speaking about Hoffman's considerable talents, director Cameron Crowe, in his blog, wrote the following about Hoffman. Crowe is talking about his movie "Almost Famous," wherein Hoffman played music critic Lester Bangs. In the scene, Hoffman is talking on the phone to actor Patrick Fugit, who plays an aspiring rock music journalist like Crowe was when he was younger.

" 'My original take on this scene was a loud, late night pronouncement from Lester Bangs.' Crowe writes. 'A call to arms. In Phil’s hands it became something different. A scene about quiet truths shared between two guys, both at the crossroads, both hurting, and both up too late. It became the soul of the movie. In between takes, Hoffman spoke to no one. He listened only to his headset, only to the words of Lester himself. (His Walkman was filled with rare Lester interviews.) When the scene was over, I realized that Hoffman had pulled off a magic trick. He’d leapt over the words and the script, and gone hunting for the soul and compassion of the private Lester, the one only a few of us had ever met. Suddenly the portrait was complete. The crew and I will always be grateful for that front row seat to his genius.' "

Here's the scene:


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Super Bowl Blowout Was the Most-Watched TV Show in U.S. History

"The Seattle Seahawks dominant performance in Super Bowl XLVIII, defeating the Denver Broncos 43-8, the largest margin of victory in a Super Bowl in 21 years, was watched by an average audience of 111.5 million people, more than any television program in U.S. history, surpassing the previous mark of 111.3 million set by a much more closely contested Super Bowl XLVI (New York Giants-New England Patriots) on NBC. The game is also now the most-watched program ever on Fox, breaking the 111.0 million viewer mark the network set for Super Bowl XLV (Green Bay Packers-Pittsburgh Steelers). Three of the last four Super Bowls set average viewership records."

This announcement was made this afternoon, Feb. 3, 2014, by Fox Broadcasting.

The article continues, "Super Bowl XLVIII posted a 46.4/69, matching the household rating and share for Super Bowl XLVII (Baltimore-San Francisco) a year ago, according to fast national figures issued today by Nielsen, and both, along with Super Bowl XVIII and XIX tie, as the seventh highest-rated Super Bowls ever."

The announcement also says, "The record-breaking trend also extended to the PEPSI SUPER BOWL XLVIII HALFTIME SHOW, with 115.3 million viewers watching Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers perform. That figure surpasses the 110.8 million delivered by Beyonce last year and the prior record of 114.0 million set by Madonna two years ago.

"Live coverage of Super Bowl XLVIII was also available in the U.S. on a Spanish language channel, FOX Deportes, for the first time ever and on digital platforms via FOX Sports GO and FOXSports.com. FOX Deportes averaged 561,000 viewers, the most-watched non-soccer sports event in Spanish cable history. The live stream averaged 528,000 viewers to become the most-watched live stream of a single sports event in history. The contributions of FOX Deportes and the new media outlets raise total viewing of the Super Bowl on an average minute basis to 112.6 million viewers. (Streaming information reported by Adobe Analytics.)"

And here's a good trivia question. What market had the highest ratings for the game? Hint: It was NOT Seattle, Denver, or any of the nation's top 5 markets.

According to the Fox announcement, the answer is "Kansas City led all markets with a 58.1/78, followed by Seattle (56.7/92, the market’s best Super Bowl performance ever), Indianapolis (53.9/74), New Orleans (53.2/72), Tulsa (52.9/71), Las Vegas (52.5/75), Portland (52.4/82), Knoxville (52.3/68), Jacksonville (52.0/68) while Denver (51.4/83) and Tampa (51.4/71) round out the Top 10. Host market New York delivered a 50.5, its best Super Bowl rating since 1987 (Super Bowl XXI: Giants vs. Broncos, 53.4)"

Super Bowl 2014.jpg

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Veteran Cable Executive Dead at 63

A veteran cable television executive who was credited with the rise to prominence of a channel focused primarily on soap operas has died. Deadline.com reports that Deborah Blackwell, the former general manager of SOAPnet, died Friday in Virginia after battling Pick’s disease, a rare neurodegenerative disorder, for seven years. She was 63.

Blackwell ran SOAPnet from 2001 to 2007, building the network for Disney’s ABC Cable Networks group. Under her leadership the channel's distribution reportedly grew to more than 67 million homes, with SOAPnet gaining same-day rights to NBC and CBS programming, along with soaps from owner ABC.

The channel also acquired prime-time shows under Blackwell's leadership, including "One Tree Hill" and "The O.C." It added original programming as well, launching the scripted series "General Hospital: Night Shift" and the reality show "The Fashionista Diaries."

After Blackwell left the network, soap operas started to lose viewers, prompting Disney to rebrand the network as Disney Jr.

deborah blackwell.jpgDeborah Blackwell

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The Reviews Are In: The Best Super Bowl Ads -- as Voted in the Annual USA Today Poll. They Warm the Heart and Bring a Smile to One's Face. We Have the Top 10. And the Game Itself? No.

"This puppy just couldn't lose. Budweiser's precious puppy has pranced off with the best-of-breed ribbon for Super Bowl commercials," writes Bruce Horovitz in USA Today.

The story reports: "Never mind that it aired with just two minutes left in a dog of a game. For the second consecutive year -- and the 12th time in the past 14 years -- Anheuser-Busch has earned one the most coveted of U.S. advertising honors, winning USA TODAY's consumer-judged Ad Meter for Super Bowl commercials."

The story adds, "For the 26th consecutive year, USA TODAY's Ad Meter reached out to consumers to vote for their favorite Super Bowl commercials. This online audience of 6,272 preregistered panelists voted from across the country."

Here's a chart of the top 10 Super Bowl ads, along with their scores. Following that we have all of the top-10 commercials. After that, we've added the lowest scoring ad from the Super Bowl, which was the Budweiser spot about its Bud Light having a new bottle with a twist top. It only scored 3.89 on the USA Today ad-meter poll. Enjoy them all.

Company Spot Quarter Score
Budweiser Puppy Love 4 8.29
Doritos Cowboy Kid 4 7.58
Budweiser Hero's Welcome 3 7.21
Doritos Time Machine 1 7.13
Radio Shack Phone Call 1 7
Hyundai Sixth Sense 1 6.87
General Mills Cheerios Gracie 1 6.75
Microsoft Technology 4 6.65
Coca Cola Going All the Way 4 6.42
Pepsi Soundcheck HT 6.3





















And now, the lowest ranked ad on the Super Bowl:

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'Friends' Star to Play Lead in ABC Comedy

One of the stars of the long-running NBC hit “Friends” will play the lead in an upcoming ABC comedy. EW.com’s Inside TV reports that David Schwimmer has been cast in the ABC comedy pilot “Irreversible."

Schwimmer takes the lead role in the project, which is about an “eccentric, self-absorbed couple, and their trials and tribulations -- most of which they bring upon themselves.” The project is based on an Israeli series called “Bilti Hafich.” The actor will also produce the show, the piece notes.

If the show receives a series order, Schwimmer will join other “Friends” stars in returning to TV’s prime-time schedule. Among them, Courteney Cox stars on “Cougar Town,” while Lisa Kudrow has starred in “The Comeback” and “Web Therapy.” Jennifer Aniston, on the other hand, has focused on films rather than TV, the piece notes.

david schwimmer.pngDavid Schwimmer

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With 'Tonight Show' Move to New York, Staffers in Burbank Will Be Laid Off

NBC's “The Tonight Show,” which is moving to New York City from Burbank, Calif., as part of the handoff of hosting duties from Jay Leno to Jimmy Fallon, will lay off 164 staffers with the transition, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker.

The layoffs are mostly production-related jobs, and staff cuts were expected after NBC announced last year that Leno would leave the show and be replaced by Fallon, who planned to shift the show to New York City.

The job cuts will occur between Feb. 14 and April 4. Leno’s last episode will air Thursday, while Fallon’s first episode will be taped Feb. 17 from New York City.

Staffers who are losing their jobs have been encouraged to apply for other roles within NBC, the story notes.

tonight show starring jimmy fallon-moon logo.jpg

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Actor Who Was Once Seen as the Next James Dean Dead at 72

An actor who was once considered to be the next James Dean, and who played the lead role in the 1968 cult feature "Wild in the Streets," has died. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Christopher Jones, who also starred in television’s “The Legend of Jesse James" in the 1960s, died Friday at Los Alamitos Medical Center or complications from cancer. He was 72.

Jones, who also starred in the films “Ryan’s Daughter" and "The Looking Glass War,” quit acting at the height of his career, leaving show business after Sharon Tate’s murder, the story reports.

Jones was reportedly having an affair with Tate, the wife of director Roman Polanski, when she was murdered by Charles Manson’s group in 1969. Devastated, he gave up acting, Paule McKenna, who had four children with Jones, told the publication.

His next and last show business appearance was in the movie “Mad Dog Time” in 1996, the story notes. Jones was offered a role in 1994’s “Pulp Fiction,” but he refused, the piece adds.

Here's a classic clip from "Wild in the Streets," featuring Jones delivering a speech about LSD concentration camps:

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New Season of HBO's 'Game of Thrones' Includes a Recast

HBO has been “curiously quiet” about the portraits of one “Game of Thrones” character, and there’s a reason for that: The character, Daario Naharis, was recast for the upcoming fourth season, reports the New York Post’s Page Six.

“This comes as unwelcome news to many fans of George R. R. Martin’s series, who’ve already had to adjust their expectations of one of the most flamboyant characters in the books,” the story notes. As described in the novels, the character has a blue-dyed beard and a gold-painted mustache, while his clothes are yellow.

“So when British actor Ed Skrein showed up looking more or less like every other character in HBO’s deadly serious, mostly-brown-clad series -- if perhaps a little prettier than most -- it was a disappointment,” the piece notes.

But Skrein will not be playing the character in the next season -- he has been replaced by Dutch actor Michiel Huisman, the piece reports. The story says the “Nashville” actor “looks equally as drab as Skrein” in the show’s new photos.

michiel huisman-daario-Game of Thrones.pngMichiel Huisman as Daario Naharis

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'Seinfeld' Cast Reunion? After Much Speculation, It Turns Out to Be a Rumor About (Almost) Nothing

The much speculated upon “Seinfeld” cast reunion turned out to be, like the hit NBC show "Seinfeld," about nothing, or close to it -- a Super Bowl ad for Jerry Seinfeld’s Web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” reports Mary McNamara in the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker.

“Unfortunately, like the Broncos' quarterback, it had a hard time connecting,” McNamara writes. “There they were, Jerry and George (Jason Alexander), sauntering into their coffee shop (Tom's Restaurant in real New York), engaged in a conversation interesting only in its banality -- everyone's been invited to a Super Bowl party at the Wassersteins except them. Except it turns out Jerry has been invited; George was banned because of his poor party manners and use of the master bathroom.”

When Wayne Knight shows up, it prompts the show’s old refrain, “Hello, Newman,” the story notes.

“Which should have been hilarious and evocative, should have made us realize how much we miss the show that changed comedy and unleashed Larry David onto an unsuspecting public,” McNamara notes. “Except it wasn't and it didn't. There's a reason, apparently, the cast has been reluctant to commit to a reunion show: It might not be a good idea.”

She adds, “Now they, and we, are older. The new crop of twentysomethings do most of their talking on Snapchat; George and Jerry don't even carry cellphones.”

Here's the clip:

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Charter Continues to Push for Time Warner Cable, May Raise Bid

Charter Communications is keeping up the pressure on takeover target Time Warner Cable and is considering raising its bid for the company within the next two weeks, Reuters reports.

Charter is considering a bid in the low $140s, up from its current $132.50 per share, the story reports. That may put pressure on TWC before a proxy deadline.

“While timing of any new bid has yet to be decided and may change, Charter could sweeten its offer before, or at the same time it nominates a slate of directors for Time Warner Cable's board,” the piece notes, citing sources familiar with the discussions.

“The one-month window to nominate a new slate expires in mid-February for the annual shareholder meeting expected in May,” the story reports.

Meanwhile, Charter and Comcast are also talking about a partnership for bidding on the company, and are talking about how to divide up Time Warner Cable’s systems, as we reported last week. Comcast wants Time Warner Cable’s systems in New York City and portions of New England.

Amid the takeover efforts by its rivals, TWC has announced major upgrades to its systems in Los Angeles and New York.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for time warner cable logo.png

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Animation Pioneer Dead at 89

One of the pioneers of television animation, who was behind an enduring holiday special, has died. Variety reports that Arthur Rankin Jr., who created the classic holiday animated special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” died Thursday at his home in Harrington Sound, Bermuda. He was 89.

Rankin, with his partner Jules Bass, ran the Rankin/Bass production studio that created specials and cartoon series from the early 1960s to the late 1980s, the piece notes.

“The company was a pioneer in the use of stop-motion animation, which gave a distinctive look to its 1964 ‘Rudolph’ special. Rankin/Bass also made a point of recruiting notable actors for its vocal talent, including Burl Ives for the Sam the Snowman role in ‘Rudolph,’” the article says.

Other shows produced by Rankin/Bass include “ThunderCats” and “Willie Mays and the Say-Hey Kid.”

arthur rankin jr.jpgArthur Rankin Jr.

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Some Time Warner Cable Subscribers Lost Their Feed During Super Bowl

Some Time Warner Cable customers reportedly lost their standard-definition feeds during the Super Bowl. The Los Angeles Times’ Company Town reports that some viewers in Los Angeles missed out on a large part of the game and the halftime show.

The analog signal of Fox’s KTTV in Los Angeles went dark during the end of the second quarter. It didn’t come back up until halfway through the third quarter, the piece notes.

“However, the feed of Time Warner Cable's high-definition channel carrying Fox's coverage of the game was not interrupted. The majority of the region's subscribers have digital boxes and thus were not affected by the blackout,” the article says.

Time Warner Cable apologized, but didn’t disclose how many viewers were impacted.

The piece notes, “The signal outage comes just days after Time Warner Cable brass announced plans to upgrade its Los Angeles systems and new Chief Executive Rob Marcus pledged to improve customer service at the company.”

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for super bowl 2014 logo.jpg

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Aereo Says It's Sold Out in New York City

Aereo said it has hit its capacity in New York City after selling out of available antennas, reports Bloomberg.

The online-television service, which is fighting broadcasters in the Supreme Court, said it will reopen to new customers once it adds more capacity. The service uses tiny antennas to attract broadcast signals, which are then relayed to customers’ devices, and bypasses fees to the broadcast networks, the piece notes.

The company didn’t say how many customers it has in New York City.

Thumbnail image for aereo logo.png

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Shocking and Tragically Sad: Oscar-Winning Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman Dead of Apparent Drug Overdose. He Was 46

philip seymour hoffman.jpg"Philip Seymour Hoffman,46, who won the Oscar for best actor in 2006 for his portrayal of writer Truman Capote in ‘Capote’ and created a gallery of other vivid characters, many of them slovenly and slightly dissipated comic figures, was found dead Sunday in his Greenwich Village apartment with what law enforcement officials said was a syringe in his arm, " reports the Associated Press.

The story adds, "The two officials told the Associated Press that glassine envelopes containing what was believed to be heroin were also found with Hoffman. Those items are being tested."

Chicago Sun Times columnist Richard Roeper wrote, " As a young man, Hoffman battled drug addiction, telling '60 Minutes' in 2006 that he would take 'anything I could get my hands on,' but said he went to rehab at age 22 and 'got sober…You get panicked…I got panicked for my life. It was really just that.' For two decades, Hoffman remained sober, but last May it was reported he had completed a 10-day detox program after he had started taking prescription pills. '[It] escalated to snorting heroin,' said Mr. Hoffman. Mr. Hoffman had three children, ages 10, 7 and 5."

Some celebrities took to Twitter to express their saddness:

Susan Sarandon @SusanSarandon: Phillip Seymour Hoffman was a genius, brave and sweet. Can't believe he's gone. Huge loss. My deepest sympathy for his wife and children.

Kevin Bacon @kevinbacon: Oh what terrible news. What a talent. What a shame. #RIP

Steve Martin @SteveMartinToGo: Shocked to hear of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death. If you missed him as Willy Loman, you missed a Willy Loman for all time.

Katie Couric @katiecouric: Such a tragedy about Philip Seymour Hoffman... He was such a brilliant, talented actor. A huge huge loss for the world.

Kevin Smith ‏@ThatKevinSmith: This truly blows. PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN has died. First noticed him in SCENT OF A WOMAN. Brilliant actor. So sad...

Aaron Paul ‏@aaronpaul: We lost one of the greats today. Philip Seymour Hoffman RIP my friend. You will be missed always and forever.

Lena Dunham ‏@lenadunham: Beautiful beautiful man. We have lost so much joy to something so joyless. RIP PSH.

Ellen DeGeneres @TheEllenShow: Philip Seymour Hoffman was a brilliant, talented man. The news this morning is shocking and sad. My heart goes out to his loved ones.

Mia Farrow @MiaFarrow: OH NO!!!!! Philip Seymour Hoffman has died. A truly kind, wonderful man and one of our greatest actors - ever

Russell Brand @rustyrockets: Love and prayers for Philip Seymour Hoffman's family. Addiction kills, I hope all who need it have access to abstinence based recovery.

Jon Favreau @Jon_Favreau: RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman. So sad. Such a great talent.

Harry Shearer @theharryshearer: Holy crap, Philip Seymour Hoffman passes away, decades too soon. One of the towering character actors of our time. RIP PSH.

Justin Timberlake @jtimberlake: Just hearing about Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Devastating. What an amazingly gifted actor. RIP

Evan Rachel Wood @evanrachelwood: I am sad on so many levels about the loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman. One of the greats. Losing him this way is absolutely tragic.

RainnWilson @rainnwilson: R.I.P. Philip Seymour Hoffman. One of the greatest, kindest actors who ever lived.

As previously reported, just last month, at the TCA press tour, Showtime had announced that Hoffman would be starring in a new comedy series titled "Happyish.'

Writes Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com, "Of course, the news is so sudden and shocking, it will take time for Showtime brass to make a decision on the future of Happyish. But judging by the trailer from the pilot shown at TCA, Hoffman WAS the show. Here is how Showtime topper David Nevins introduced the project last month. ' "Happyish" is a very personal comedy starring one of the really great actors of our time, Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman. "Happyish" is about the fear — in this world of 25 year old CEOs and 27 year old billionaires — of becoming culturally irrelevant at a surprisingly young age. Hoffman plays Thom Payne, a successful but self loathing creative director at a New York ad agency.'

The story continues, " 'Happyish' actually got made largely because Hoffman agreed to do it. The script had been in the works at Showtime literally for years but was only greenlighted to pilot last summer after Hoffman agreed to star in after a very lengthy courtship."

Showtime released this statement about Hoffman's death: “Philip Seymour Hoffman was one of our generation’s finest and most brilliant actors. He was also a gifted comedic talent. It was a great privilege and pleasure to work with him and we are all absolutely devastated by this sudden loss. Our thoughts go out to his family at this very difficult time.”

Hoffman is survived by his three children and their mother, Hoffman's longtime girlfriend, Mimi O’Donnell, who is a costume designer, according to the New York Post.

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