March 2014

ABC Pulls the Plug on Another Drama Series

One day after ABC canceled one drama series, the cancellation ax fell on another ABC drama. B&C reports that the network confirmed today that it has canceled "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland."

The cancellation comes one day after ABC canceled the midseason drama "Mind Games," which had aired only five episodes.

"Once Upon a Time in Wonderland" -- a freshman spinoff of "Once Upon a Time" -- will wrap with its April 3 episode, the report notes.

"It will be replaced in the 8 p.m. Thursday time slot April 10 by a new episode of reality competition 'Shark Tank.' ABC plans to air reruns of 'Grey’s Anatomy' in the time slot on subsequent Thursdays," the story reports.

After hitting a season low with a 0.8 average rating in the key 18-49 demo a week earlier, "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland" ticked up one-tenth Thursday night to a 0.9.

The report adds: "ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee told reporters at the TCA winter press tour in January that he had originally planned to schedule 'Wonderland' as a midseason program to bridge seasons of the original 'Once Upon a Time.' 'I should have done that, because I think that would have been a natural audience to go through there,' Lee said. 'And, you know, that Thursday slot is difficult.'”

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'March Madness' Has Its Highest Viewership in 21 Years

The "March Madness" NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship, being televised across CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV, is setting a blistering pace in viewership. Turner Sports reports that the combined coverage up to this point is delivering the tournament's highest viewership since 1993.

"Through last night (Thursday, March 27), the NCAA Tournament is averaging 9.3 million total viewers, up 3% through the same period last year (9.0 million total viewers), based on Nielsen Fast Nationals," Turner reports. "The tournament is averaging a 6.0 U.S. HH rating, up 2% over a 5.9 U.S. HH rating to date in 2013. The 6.0 U.S. HH rating is the highest rating to date for the tournament in 16 years (6.1 rating in 1998)."

Regional semifinals take place tonight, with the games being televised on CBS and TBS. TBS coverage tips off with a pregame show at 6 p.m. ET.

"TBS will exclusively televise Saturday’s Regional Final coverage (March 29) -- Florida vs. Dayton at 6:09 p.m. followed by Arizona vs. Wisconsin at 8:49 p.m. -- the first time the Elite Eight will be aired on cable," the company notes. "CBS will exclusively broadcast Sunday’s Regional Final coverage with game coverage beginning at 2 p.m."

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Layoffs Hit CNN

CNN has been hit with a round of job cuts. TVNewser reports that the cable news channel cut employees Thursday at its Atlanta headquarters.

"TVNewser has learned the network has cut 16 employees from the Image and Sound unit," the story reports. "This includes video editors and photojournalists. The division employs 450 people."

The report adds: "An insider tells us at least 160 positions are set to change in some way due to new technologies."

TheWrap.com notes that the latest round of layoffs at CNN "comes at a time when viewers have been flocking to the cable network for non-stop coverage of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370."

TheWrap adds: "On Tuesday, 'Anderson Cooper 360' beat out Fox News Channel's 'The O'Reilly Factor' in the key 25-54 news demographic in the 8 p.m. hour. During the hour 'Anderson Cooper 360' scored 452,000 viewers in the demo, edging out the 448,000 demo viewers that 'The O'Reilly Factor' had."

TheWrap also notes that CNN topped Fox News over the weekend in adults 25-54, winning Saturday and Sunday in total day and in prime time.

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Syfy Announces Return of Series

Just ahead of the airing of its season finale, Syfy has announced that it will bring back a drama series for another season. Deadline.com reports that the freshman drama "Helix" received an order from the cable channel for a 13-episode second season.

The Sony TV series is aiming for a winter 2015 premiere date for season two, with production set to begin later this year, the report notes. The series stars Billy Campbell, Hiroyuki Sanada, Kyra Zagorsky and Mark Ghanime.

"The thriller, about a team of scientists battling a mankind-threatening outbreak, debuted Jan. 10 to 1.82 million Live+SD total viewers," the story reports. "The premiere broke Syfy L+3 records by gaining 64% in 18-49 to 1.2 million and 53% in total viewers. Since then, the series has averaged 2.1 million total viewers, 1.1 million adults 25-54 and 1 million adults 18-49."

Said Bill McGoldrick, exec VP of Original Content for Syfy: "Helix has built one of our most loyal and consistent audiences in its first season on Syfy. The incredibly talented writing and producing team have crafted a thriller that consistently delivered suspense, twists and high-quality drama."

Helix is executive produced by Moore Steven Maeda who is also showrunner, and Lynda Obst. The series is produced by Tall Ship Prods, Kaji Prods, and Lynda Obst Prods in association with Sony Pictures Television.

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CBS Wins Thursday Prime as NCAA Tourney Continues to Post Gains; New Fox Series Debuts Low

CBS had the winning formula in Thursday's prime-time ratings, as its coverage of the "March Madness" NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament continued to post gains over last year's numbers, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that CBS pulled a preliminary 2.5 average rating in 18-49 for prime time, up two-tenths of a point from last year. The report notes that the network's results are subject to more than the usual adjustments due to the nature of live programming.

Second-place ABC saw its entire prime-time lineup improve from a week ago. "Scandal" led the way with a 3.1 average in viewers 18-49 -- the best number for any program Thursday night on broadcast prime, and an improvement of two-tenths over last week.

ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" delivered a 2.5 in the 18-49 demo, ticking up one-tenth from a week ago, while "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland" bounced back slightly after hitting a series low last week, rising one-tenth to a 0.9.

Fox saw "American Idol" shrink a bit in its new half-hour format, slipping one-tenth from its series low a week ago to an even lower 1.9 average in adults 18-49. Leading out from "Idol" the new series "Surviving Jack" got off to a soft launch with a 1.3.

Fox's "Hell's Kitchen" pulled a 1.8 in viewers 18-49, the same as last week.

Fourth-place NBC aired mostly repeats, with a fresh installment of "Parenthood" managing a 1.4 average in 18-49, up one-tenth from a week ago.

For prime time overall, CBS's 2.5 average led the way in the 18-49 demo, followed by ABC (2.2 average), Fox (1.7), NBC (1.2) and Univision (1.0). CBS also led total viewers, averaging 7.8 million to rank ahead of ABC (6.8 million), Fox (5.9 million), NBC (4.3 million) and Univision (2.6 million).

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'Nightline' Gets a New Anchor After ABC News Veteran Jumps to NBC

A familiar face at ABC News is pulling the plug on a two-decade career at the network and making the move to NBC News. According to The Hollywood Reporter, "Nightline" anchor Cynthia McFadden is exiting to become a senior legal and investigative correspondent at NBC.

Replacing her will be Juju Chang, who has been with the program but will now serve as co-anchor, joining Dan Harris and Dan Abrams. According to TVNewser, Chang has worked at ABC News for her entire career, starting as a desk assistant. She is married to Neal Shapiro, the former NBC News chief, who is now WNET’s president and CEO.

“After 20 incredible years at ABC News I’ve decided to take on new challenges at NBC News,” McFadden said. “While it is not easy leaving the ‘Nightline’ anchor chair, the opportunity NBC offered to make a deep dive into the kind of reporting I am most passionate about -- legal and investigative -- was just too appealing to resist. I’m grateful to everyone at ABC for a marvelous journey and very much looking forward to joining my new colleagues at NBC.”

Her departure comes soon after her boss, Ben Sherwood, was tapped to replace Anne Sweeney as president of the Disney-ABC Television Group. McFadden had served as an anchor on “Nightline” for nine years.

TVNewser notes: "McFadden was one of the original anchors when 'Nightline' went to a three-anchor format in 2005, along with Martin Bashir and Terry Moran. Bashir left for MSNBC in 2010, replaced by Bill Weir. Last year, Dan Abrams replaced Moran, who is now a foreign correspondent for ABC News. And when Weir left for CNN in October, Dan Harris took his spot."

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One Down, One to Go for 'GMA' as the ABC Morning Show Tries to Lock In Its On-Air Lineup

ABC's "Good Morning America" is down to one holdout as it moves to lock in on-air personalities whose contracts are running out.

Writing on Deadline.com, Lisa de Moraes reports that the last holdout is Josh Elliott, after Lara Spencer signed a new contract to remain with the top-ranked morning show.

Elliott has less than four weeks left on his current contract, the story notes. “GMA” has been beating NBC’s “Today” in the ratings, and it’s said that Elliott is in talks with NBC about becoming a “sort of next-generation Bob Costas,” with a focus on both news and sports, de Moraes notes.

“Poaching members of the team credited with ending ‘Today’s' 16-year ratings winning streak is only one of the ways in which NBC is going after its rival as it tries to return its morning infotainment show to the top spot,” she adds.

NBC is also trying to streamline booking of big “gets,” combining plans to showcase interviews across several properties, including “Tonight” and “Today,” the story notes.

The report notes: “‘GMA’ and ‘Today’ both have music concert series in late spring and summer, and booking for the two series is fierce.”

lara spencer-gma.jpgLara Spencer

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No 'Girls' Allowed: Why the HBO Show Was Denied Permission to Film on a College Campus

The University of Iowa told HBO’s “Girls” that it wasn’t welcome to film on its campus, reports the Press-Citizen. The show wanted to tape Hannah Horvath, played by “Girls” creator Lena Dunham, attending the prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop, but the university declined.

"University of Iowa’s Vice President of Strategic Communication Joe Brennan said this morning he made the decision to turn down HBO’s request to film 'Girls' on the UI campus because, after reviewing the script, he felt the storyline would tarnish the reputation of the university," the story reports.

In a text, Brennan said: “After reviewing the script, I felt the storyline placed the city and university in an unfavorable light, and considering the potential for disruption, I made the decision to deny the request. I won’t share details as I don’t think it fair to reveal the plot in advance. I understand this is a popular show, but it’s my job to safeguard the reputation of the university.”

University of Iowa spokesman Tom Moore said earlier in a statement: “While we are pleased that the Iowa Writers’ Workshop is receiving national attention and that our graduate is doing well in her career, our general practice is to not allow filming, due to potential disruption to campus.”

"Iowa City’s role in the hit show emerged Sunday in a plot twist in the season three finale, which saw the show’s main character Hannah Horvath -- played by show creator Lena Dunham -- accepted to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the university," the report notes, adding: “'Girls' and UI are connected through one of show’s writers, Sarah Heyward, who attended the workshop before moving to the West Coast to become a screenwriter."

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'Colbert Report' Online Joke Sparks Accusations of Racial Insensitivity

A Twitter campaign called #CancelColbert began trending Thursday after the “Colbert Report” account sent out a joke that some felt was racially insensitive toward Asians. But Stephen Colbert, who hosts the Comedy Central program, said he didn’t write the tweet, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The tweet read, “I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.”

The joke referred to a section of Wednesday’s show in which Colbert made fun of Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder for establishing the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation. The move was part of efforts to counter complaints about the team’s name, which is considered racist and distasteful by some.

Colbert has used the “Ching-Chong Ding-Dong” phrase as a caricature going back to at least 2011, the story notes.

But the tweet, taken out of context, upset some Twitter users, who started the #CancelColbert campaign. The tweet was later deleted by Comedy Central, although screen saves had already captured it.

The story notes, “In the early hours of Friday, Colbert had caught wind of the imbroglio and took to his personal account @StephenAtHome to clarify that his Comedy Central show's verified Twitter account is not written by him. He also suggested that [he] doesn't even know who writes it. ‘The Colbert Show’ Twitter account also tweeted a series of messages saying its host had nothing to do with the joke gone wrong.”

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Writer of Spiked Cable Drama Fires Back After Being Portrayed as a 'Tone-Deaf Racist Hack'

The writer behind a cable drama project that was spiked before it made it to air is firing back after being portrayed, in her words, as a "tone-deaf racist hack."

Writing in The Hollywood Reporter, Brooke Eikmeier, the writer of the canceled ABC Family project “Alice in Arabia,” says the drama was killed by a “mob.”

Eikmeier, an Arabic-speaking U.S. Army veteran, also takes issue with the network’s synopsis of the project, which she writes didn’t accurately reflect the nuances of the actual plot. The summary said that the main character is “unknowingly kidnapped” by her extended Saudi Arabian family and must survive “life behind the veil.”

“I cringed at ‘kidnapped,’ as it implied some violent action that was never taken (her grandfather simply refuses to let her return to America for a very specific family reason revealed in the last scene of the pilot),” Eikmeier writes, adding, “‘surviving life behind the veil’ was the exact opposite of the cultural tone I was trying to achieve.”

“This clumsy description employed key inflammatory words highlighting Alice’s emotional starting point without any hint at where I was intending to go with her or the show and was written by someone who did not have cultural training or an appreciation of the greater ambition I was aiming for,” she adds.

Eikmeier writes that people made assumptions about the show based on the description, and “a mob formed, made up its mind, then rushed to destroy a valuable opportunity for furthering the cause of women worldwide.”

She adds: "A week ago, I was prepping to cast a mixed-race Arab girl to be the star of a cable series that would focus on a loving, but conflicted, Muslim family. I anticipated controversy surrounding the topics and characters, but hoped the way the series progressed, the predominantly Arab cast, and the conversation it would spark would be a step forward in exposing and discussing female issues in a complex and diverse world.

"Today, if you Google my name, I am accused of being a tone-deaf racist hack intent on furthering an anti-Muslim agenda, callously exposing children to being bullied and beaten on playgrounds."

Eikmeier notes that the show had already cleared a number of hurdles in its journey to air, and says it "could have been a step in the right direction for all cultures and all women, sparking greater tolerance, understanding and empathy. ... Success was easily within reach to achieve a goal many in the Muslim community want: a series that showed them fairly and with admiration and complexity, that would give opportunities to Arab writers and Arab actors."

She concludes: “Blinded by the stereotype the mob had of the typical Hollywood writer, however, those imminent jobs have now disappeared. That is no victory, in any form, for anyone.”

brooke eikmeier.pngBrooke Eikmeier

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Which Writer-Producer Has More Dramas on the Air This Season Than Anyone Else? Hint: She Just Signed a New Three-Year Deal With Warner Bros. TV

The writer-producer who has more drama series on the air this season than anyone else has extended her relationship with Warner Bros. TV. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that “The Vampire Diaries” showrunner Julie Plec has signed a “rich new three-year overall deal” with the company, which is ensuring one of its most prolific writer-producers remains put.

Plec, who developed “The Vampire Diaries,” also is the showrunner on its spinoff “The Originals,” with both series already renewed for next season. She’s also the executive producer on CW’s “The Tomorrow People,” which is also from WBTV.

That means Plec has “three drama series on the air this season, the most for a writing producer on broadcast TV,” the story notes.

Andreeva writes: “Under the new pact, Plec will continue as showrunner on ‘The Vampire Diaries,’ the CW’s highest-rated series, as well as ‘The Originals,’ the network’s top freshman series, and will develop new projects in addition to executive producing ‘The Tomorrow People’ if it goes to a second season.

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A&E's 'Duck Dynasty' Takes a Ratings Hit With Season 5 Finale

A&E Network’s “Duck Dynasty” saw its viewership take a dive with the reality show's fifth-season finale. Deadline.com reports that only 6 million viewers tuned in, a 28% drop from the season-four finale.

The reality show also took a hit in the 18-49 demographic, with only 3.2 million viewers in that group watching the Wednesday night finale. That’s down 27% from the October 23 fourth-season finale.

The decline comes after a controversy involving family patriarch Phil Robertson, who was suspended for a short time after making anti-gay remarks. “The decline may not have been directly related to the issue of Mr. Robertson’s comments, however, because the show was most likely ready to descend from its lofty ratings,” notes Bill Carter in The New York Times.

The Deadline report adds: “Though it was down from the previous finale, last night’s ‘DD’ was up from the previous week’s show by 28% in total viewers. The episode also had a 33% rise in the key demo from it’s March 19 show. Despite all the lows this season and the finale results, that still leaves the controversial series as the top show on cable in viewers and among adults 18-49 and the second-highest-rated show on all of TV [Wednesday] night behind ABC’s ‘Modern Family.”

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FCC May Require Spanish-Language Emergency Alerts

The FCC is working on a rule that would require broadcasters to provide Spanish-language emergency alerts and other important announcements, reports The Hill.

“The rule was originally recommended in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Back then, groups including the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) petitioned the FCC to require broadcasters to notify Spanish listeners in the event of an emergency,” the story notes.

The FCC is reopening a comment period for an additional month while it considers the rule, which would require some stations to air all presidential messages in both English and Spanish, the story notes.

“To a lesser extent, emergency broadcasts in certain areas may also be aired in other languages, such as French or Mandarin,” the piece adds.

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Discovery Sued -- Again -- Over Fatal Helicopter Crash

Discovery Communications is facing another lawsuit related to a fatal helicopter crash in February 2013, reports Deadline.com.

The piece reports: “Donald Rydstrom, the father of a cameraman killed along with two others while filming a military-themed Discovery Channel show ... filed a complaint [Thursday] in L.A. Superior Court against its parent company seeking ‘general damages in a sum in excess of the jurisdictional limits of this Court, which will be stated according to proof.’”

Darren Rydstrom, cast member Michael Donatelli and pilot David Gibbs died when their helicopter crashed into an open field, the story notes. Rydstrom’s father is claiming the loss of love, companionship and support, on top of “other benefits and assistance of Descendant,” the piece adds.

The lawsuit is the third to come out of the crash, and the second citing Discovery, the article notes.

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'Game of Thrones' Writer George R. R. Martin Surprises Fans With a New Chapter

Fans of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” received a surprise Thursday when author George R. R. Martin published a chapter of the upcoming sixth season in the series, “The Winds of Winter,” reports Variety.

Martin published the chapter, called “Mercy,” on his website. The release comes about a week before HBO debuts the fantasy drama’s fourth season.

One complaint fans of the book series have with Martin is his slow writing time, with each of his last two books taking five and nearly six years, as previously reported.

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Amazon Says It Has No Plans for a Free Streaming Service

Amazon has said it has no plans to offer a free streaming media service, after a report from The Wall Street Journal circulated that said it was planning an ad-supported version, TheWrap.com reports.

“We have a video advertising business that currently offers programs like First Episode Free and ads associated with movie and game trailers,” Amazon told the website. “And we're often experimenting with new things, but we have no plans to offer a free streaming media service.”

The Journal had reported that Amazon was considering an ad-supported streaming service potentially as a way to entice people to upgrade to Prime and to crack the online ad market.

Amazon recently announced it was raising its Prime rate to $99 per year, up from $79.

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Huge Increase In Autism Rate: Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Now Says 1 in 68 U.S. Children Has Autism. It's Our TVWeek Non-TV Story of the Day

The prestigious Centers for Disease Control has announced that the autism rate for children has jumped 30% and that 1 in 68 U.S. children has autism, according to an article on the website of CNN.

The story reports: "This newest estimate is based on the CDC's evaluation of health and educational records of all 8-year-old children in 11 states: Alabama, Wisconsin, Colorado, Missouri, Georgia, Arkansas, Arizona, Maryland, North Carolina, Utah and New Jersey. The incidence of autism ranged from a low of 1 in 175 children in Alabama to a high of 1 in 45 in New Jersey, according to the CDC."

The article adds: "The report is not designed to say why more children are being diagnosed with autism [says Coleen Boyle, the director of the CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities]. But she believes increased awareness in identifying and diagnosing children contributes to the higher numbers."

If you have an interest in this subject, you'll find more details if you read the original article, which you can go to by clicking the link in our first paragraph, above.

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ABC Cancels Series

ABC has canceled a drama series after just five airings, reports our friend Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com

The canceled series is "Mind Games," which stars Christian Slater and Steve Zahn.

Andreeva writes that the series debuted to a 1.1 rating in the 18-49 category, and then "dived to a 0.6 in its second week, matching that rating again this Tuesday when it was hampered by the the lack of original lead-in. 'Mind Games' became the third ABC drama casualty in the Tuesday 10 PM slot this season, joining canceled freshmen 'Lucky 7' and 'Killer Women.'"

"Mind Games" will be replaced by reruns of "Ressurection," and then, on April 15, "Celebrity Wife Swap."

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NBC Sets Rollout Dates for Six New Scripted Shows

NBC has locked in plans for its summer slate, including the introduction of six new scripted shows and one reality program, reports EW.com’s Inside TV.

“Welcome to Sweden,” executive produced by Amy Poehler and starring her brother Greg, will debut July 10 at 9:30 p.m. ET, while Bill Lawrence’s “Undateable” will debut May 29 at 9 p.m. the piece notes.

Other new shows include “The Night Shift,” “Crossbones,” “Taxi Brooklyn” and “Working the Engels,” while the unscripted show is “Food Fighters,” which features amateurs cooking against professionals.

Below are the premiere dates and times for the new shows:

Tuesday, May 27
10 p.m. — ‘The Night Shift’
Thursday, May 29
9 p.m. – ‘Undateable’
Friday, May 30
10 p.m. – ‘Crossbones’
Wednesday, June 25
10 p.m. – ‘Taxi Brooklyn’
Thursday, July 10
9 p.m. — ‘Welcome to Sweden’
Thursday, July 10
9:30 p.m. — ‘Working the Engels’
Tuesday, July 22
8 p.m. – ‘Food Fighters’

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Aereo Blasts Broadcasters in Supreme Court Brief

The Internet-streaming service Aereo had harsh words for broadcasters in a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, saying that its transmissions aren’t public recordings and asking the court to rule its service legal, reports TheWrap.com.

The story notes, “In a reply brief responding to earlier filings in the court case, the subscription streaming service accused ABC, CBS, NBC and other TV networks fighting its service of engaging in ‘problematic’ claims and ignoring consumers' long-standing rights to make copies of free over-the-air telecasts.”

Aereo argues that because it uses individual antennas for each household, its TV transmissions aren’t public recordings and thus don’t violate copyright laws.

“Petitioners object that Aereo is a sort of Rube Goldberg device -- a clever way to take advantage of existing laws,” the brief said. “But designing technologies to comply with the copyright laws is precisely what companies should do.”

The brief was filed leading up to the Supreme Court’s hearing of oral arguments on April 22.

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'Scandal' Star Arrested

One of the stars of the ABC drama series “Scandal” was arrested Wednesday. Citing the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, Deadline.com reports that Columbus Short, who plays Harrison Wright on the series, was arrested and released on $50,000 bail.

“The arrest comes one day after Short was charged with one count of felony battery with serious bodily harm over an alleged brawl in a West L.A. restaurant on March 15 that saw the other guy KO’d,” the story notes.

Short has played Wright, an attorney, on the ABC show since its first season. “Scandal” is currently in its third season.

Show creator Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland production company and ABC had no comment on the incident.

Short could face up to four years in jail if he’s found guilty, which makes his future on the show unsure, the report notes.

“Sources say it didn’t affect production on the latest season of ‘Scandal,’ which wraps this week,” the piece adds.

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Veteran Director Dead at 48

A veteran director who worked on dozens of TV and film projects including “Rizzoli & Isles” and “ER” has died. Deadline.com reports that Dirk Craft died Monday after a long illness. He was 48.

Craft, a 1991 grad of the DGA Trainee Program, worked as an assistant director on more than 50 productions and also helmed episodes of “Burn Notice” and “Nip/Tuck,” the story reports.

He also worked on telefilms and the 1996 movie “The Crucible,” which stars Daniel Day-Lewis.

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AMC Greenlights First Comedy Pilot, Moves Forward With Late-Night Project From Kevin Smith

AMC has greenlighted its first comedy pilot and is also working on a late-night project with director and screenwriter Kevin Smith, Deadline.com reports.

The comedy pilot, “We Hate Paul Revere,” is written and executive produced by and stars Ethan Sandler and Adrian Wenner, the story reports. AMC also has several comedy projects in the development stage, including a project from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.

Kevin Smith, meanwhile, received a renewal for his unscripted series “Comic Book Men,” and will also develop the late-night show “Hollywood Babble-On,” which will star Smith and Ralph Garman, the co-host of their podcast, the report notes.

On top of that, AMC and Smith are also developing a docu-series featuring Robert Bruce, a regular on “Comic Book Men,” which will feature Bruce and other experts searching the country’s flea markets and auction houses in search of rare items, the story adds.

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Report: Dish and DirecTV Are Discussing a Merger

In response to Comcast’s planned $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable, Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen recently talked with DirecTV CEO Mike White about merging their two satellite-TV companies, reports Bloomberg.

“White is reluctant to push forward with formal talks out of concern regulators may block the deal because the two companies directly compete with each other,” Bloomberg reports, citing a source who's familiar with the situation.

DirecTV is the biggest satellite-TV operator in the U.S., with 20 million customers, while Dish is No. 2 with 14 million subscribers, the story notes. The report adds: “Dish has said it remains open to all options to monetize the U.S. airwaves, including building its own network or teaming up with an existing carrier, such as Verizon Communications Inc. or AT&T Inc.”

The key to approval for a merger between the two companies is how regulators view the market. For instance, if they include online services such as Netflix as a competitor, then the deal might be more likely to pass, the story notes.

“Even if regulators allow Comcast’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable, DirecTV management doesn’t see the cable deal as a proxy for an approval of a deal with Dish," Bloomberg reports. "DirecTV and Dish’s 2002 attempt to merge was blocked by regulators."

Buckingham Research Group analyst James Ratcliffe wrote in a report: “Ergen has made it clear in the past that he believes a combination with DTV would create significant value (and we agree), so the fact that he approached DTV CEO Mike White wouldn’t surprise us.”

Ratcliffe added that he remains skeptical because of the potential for a “difficult regulatory approval process.”

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CBS Muscles Out NBC as 'The Voice' Hits a Sour Note

CBS got a solid ratings performance from its Tuesday night drama lineup as NBC's "The Voice" sank to a season low, giving CBS a narrow win for prime time, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC, which was winning Tuesday nights earlier in the season, saw its franchise singing competition lose three-tenths of a point from a week ago to settle for a 3.3 average in the 18-49 demo -- still the top show on broadcast prime in the demo. The show averaged 12.29 million total viewers going head-to-head with CBS's "NCIS," which pulled in 17.28 million, the highest average of the night.

Leading out from "The Voice," NBC's "About a Boy" slipped one-tenth to a 2.0 in the 18-49 demo while "Growing Up Fisher" also lost one-tenth, delivering a 1.7. NBC aired a repeat of "Chicago Fire" at 10 p.m. (1.0 average).

CBS's prime-time programs were up across the board: "NCIS" inched up one-tenth from last week to a 2.5 average in 18-49; "NCIS: Los Angeles" also ticked up one-tenth, to a 2.4; and "Person of Interest" climbed three-tenths to a 2.0.

Fox had its own ratings issues, as "New Girl" fell one-tenth from its previous original in the 18-49 demo to an all-time low, a 1.2. "Glee" held steady to last week with a 1.1, and the season finale of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" lifted itself up after a series low a week ago, rising two-tenths to a 1.3 average.

ABC aired mostly repeats and finished a distant fifth among the broadcast nets, with its only fresh program, "Mind Games" at 10 p.m., falling one-tenth in viewers 18-49 to a 0.6.

For prime time overall, CBS took the win in the 18-49 demo with a 2.3 average rating, ahead of NBC (2.1 average), Fox and Univision (both with 1.2 averages) and ABC and CW (both at 0.7). CBS had a dominant night in terms of total viewers, averaging 15.0 million to finish well ahead of NBC (7.8 million), Univision (3.0 million), Fox (2.6 million), ABC (2.4 million) and CW (1.8 million).

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Fox Rolls Out Summer Slate, Highlighted by Faux Prince Harry Dating Show and Steve Carell's 'Riot'

Fox took the wraps off its summer schedule, which will feature a new dating show centered on a fake "Prince Harry," The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

The piece gives this official logline for "I Wanna Marry 'Harry'": "Summer love is in the air, as an average English 'bloke' is given the royal treatment and an upper crust makeover before meeting 12 single American women searching for Prince Charming. Will he be able to convince them he’s regal? And if he does, will they fall for the crown, or fall in love with the real him? Join 'Harry' as he courts each of the ladies, taking them on romantic dates worthy of a princess and trying to make some version of their fairytales come true."

The program launches Tuesday, May 27, at 8 p.m.

The report adds: "The Steve Carell-produced 'Riot' (formerly 'Slideshow') will debut Tuesday, May 13, at 9 p.m. following the season finale of 'Glee.' Australian talk show host Rove McManus leads the series, which 'features the nation's funniest celebrities and comedians facing unpredictable song, dance and sketch challenges, often while navigating the show's trademark one-of-a-kind set, tilted at a 22-degree angle.'"

The drama series "Gang Related," which was originally planned to launch Tuesday, May 20, has had its premiere moved to Thursday, May 22, at 9 p.m, with encores on Fridays at 9 p.m. starting May 23.

"Three of Gordon Ramsay's unscripted efforts have also received premiere dates: 'Kitchen Nightmares' (Friday, April 11, at 9 p.m.), 'Masterchef' (Monday, May 19, at 8 p.m.) and 'Hotel Hell' (Monday, July 21, at 9 p.m.)," the report adds.

A two-hour premiere is set for season 11 of "So You Think You Can Dance" on Wednesday, May 28, at 8 p.m.

"They join previously announced spring/summer series on the network's schedule: 'Surviving Jack' (Thursday, March 27, at 9:30 p.m.) and '24: Live Another Day' (Monday, May 5, at 8 p.m.)," the report notes, adding: "Fox indicates that 'Enlisted,' whose last original airs April 11, will return to the schedule."

Here's the schedule:

Thursday, March 27

9:30-10:00 PM -- SURVIVING JACK (Series Premiere)

Tuesday, April 1

9:00-10:00 PM -- THE MINDY PROJECT (One-Hour Spring Premiere)

Friday, April 11

9:00-10:00 PM -- KITCHEN NIGHTMARES (Season Premiere)

Monday, May 5

8:00-10:00 PM -- 24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY (Two-Hour Series Premiere)

Monday, May 12

9:00-10:00 PM -- 24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY (Time Period Premiere)

Tuesday, May 13

9:00-10:00 PM -- RIOT (Series Premiere)

Monday, May 19

8:00-9:00 PM -- MASTERCHEF (Season Premiere)

Thursday, May 22

9:00-10:00 PM -- GANG RELATED (Series Premiere)

Saturday, May 24

7:00-10:00 PM ET Live -- FOX SPORTS SATURDAY: BASEBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA

Tuesday, May 27

8:00-9:00 PM -- I WANNA MARRY “HARRY” (Series Premiere)

Wednesday, May 28

8:00-10:00 PM -- SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE (Season Premiere)

Monday, July 21

9:00-10:00 PM -- HOTEL HELL (Season Premiere)

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Former 'GMA' Anchor Picked to Head USC Journalism School

A television veteran who was a co-anchor on ABC's "Good Morning America Sunday" as well as a correspondent for NBC's "Today" show is the new director of USC’s School of Journalism. Deadline.com reports that Willow Bay will take over the position.

While at ABC, Bay, a former model, was also a correspondent for "World News Saturday" and "World News Sunday." She spent most of the 1990s as co-host of "NBA Inside Stuff" with Ahmad Rashad, and has also been an anchor on CNN, among other TV jobs.

The report quotes Ernest Wilson III, dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, saying: “The breadth of Willow Bay’s experiences, skills and talents is extraordinary. Her leadership will help our innovative school aggressively continue our path of creating and defining the digital future."

The report notes that Bay is married to Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company.

The story adds: "Currently an editor at The Huffington Post and a special correspondent for Bloomberg News, Bay will take over her duties at USC in July."

Said Bay: “I look forward to leading the school as it educates and inspires the next generation of journalists and public relations professionals for the future and contributes groundbreaking academic research into these fields."

willow bay.jpgWillow Bay

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Numbers Surge for PBS Dramas -- Especially With Delayed Viewing Added In

One PBS series has firmed up its position as the highest-rated drama in the history of the broadcasting service, and another drama series continues to post sizable gains. Deadline.com reports that both "Downton Abbey" and "Sherlock" benefited from the inclusion of figures for delayed viewing.

"'Downton Abbey‘s' fourth season nabbed an average audience of 13.2 million viewers with the addition of +7 viewing -- up nearly 2 million viewers compared to season 3 -- securing its status as PBS‘s highest rated drama in its history," the story reports. "Meanwhile, 'Sherlock‘s' third-season audience grew to 6.6 million in its new 10 p.m. time slot, compared to 4.4 million viewers in Season 2. That’s great news for PBS’s Sunday night, where prime-time household ratings jumped 30% since the 2012-13 season, and for PBS’s 'Masterpiece' franchise, which, not so long ago, went begging for a corporate sponsor after ExxonMobil bailed."

Said "Masterpiece" executive producer Rebecca Eaton: “The success of 'Downton Abbey' and 'Sherlock' proves again that superb storytelling and first-class acting are an unbeatable combination. If this is indeed a Golden Age of television, we’re proud to be right in the middle of it.”

The report adds: "'Downton’s' eight-week season earned an average national household rating of 8.5 -- up from Season 3’s 7.7 -- and 26 million viewers tuned in over the course of the season. On Sunday nights across its run, 'Downton,' a Carnival Films/Masterpiece co-production, generated more than 280,000 tweets and more than 35.6 million impressions in the face of stiff social media competition, including the Golden Globe Awards, the Olympics, and Super Bowl XLVIII, according to Social Guide Intelligence."

The third season of "Sherlock," meanwhile, "improved upon the second season in all key metrics, including its 4.1 national household rating -- a 46% increase from its 2.8 rating for Season 2," the piece reports. "The average audience jumped 50% to 6.6 million, and its 13.5 million total viewers is up 26% from 10.7 million in 2012. On Sundays across its short three-week run, Sherlock fans generated more than 58,000 tweets and nearly 4 million impressions against programming including the Grammy Awards, NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl XLVIII, according to Social Guide Intelligence."

PBS reported 11.1 million streams of full episodes of the fourth season of "Downton Abbey" and 3.3 million streams of full episodes of season three of "Sherlock" across desktop, mobile and PBS apps on Roku, XBox and Apple TV, the article notes.

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Sports Emmy Nominees Announced

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has announced the nominees for the 35th Annual Sports Emmy Awards, which will be presented Tuesday, May 6, 2014, in a ceremony at New York's Lincoln Center. Among the highlights, Ted Turner will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

ESPN leads the way among networks with 30 nominations, followed by Fox with 18, HBO Sports with 15, NBC and NBC Sports Network with 14 apiece, MLB Network with 13, CBS with 11 and NFL Network with 10.

More than 180 nominees were announced in 39 categories, including Outstanding Live Sports Special, Live Series, Sports Documentary, Studio Show, Promotional Announcements, Play-by-Play Personality and Studio Analyst.

Said Malachy Wienges, NATAS chair: “The world of sports television grows bigger each year. We have had over 900 submissions coming from the sports community demonstrating that this is another outstanding year for sports and for The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. With so much outstanding talent vying for the prestigious Emmy Award and with our Lifetime Achievement Award going to Ted Turner, an icon in broadcast television, this year’s ceremony promises to be an exciting evening for the entire industry.”

Please click here to see the full list of nominees and read the announcement from NATAS.

Ted-Turner.jpgTed Turner

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CNN Producers Arrested

Two CNN producers were arrested Tuesday at the site of the World Trade Center in New York. TVNewser reports that Yon Pomrenze, 35, and Connor Fieldman Boals, 26, were arrested for allegedly trying to sneak into the site -- presumably to test security at the location.

Their arrests come after a New Jersey teenager snuck into One World Trade Center, and four men turned themselves in after taking part in a base-jumping stunt in September.

The two men were arrested after they tried to enter a main gate, and then were observed trying to climb a fence. “The men, police say, then tried to push their way through a gate at which point they were arrested. Police confiscated a GoPro camera and a video camera on a tripod and arrested the men for criminal trespass and disorderly conduct,” the story reports.

A CNN representative said the producers “were not asked to sneak onto the World Trade Center site,” according to the New York Post.

Yon Pomrenze, left, and Connor Fieldman Boals.jpgYon Pomrenze, left, and Connor Fieldman Boals

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News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch Anoints His Heir Apparent

Rupert Murdoch has made a move that puts in place the heir apparent to his vast media empire. Bloomberg reports that Murdoch promoted son Lachlan Murdoch to non-executive chairman of News Corp. and 21st Century Fox, which makes Lachlan the heir apparent over his brother James Murdoch.

Lachlan, who is 42, will work with his father, who remains chairman and chief executive officer of Fox and executive chairman of News Corp., the report notes. Meanwhile, James, who is 41, will become co-chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox.

“The promotions signal Rupert Murdoch, 83, is cementing his family’s control over the business he has led for six decades," the story reports. "Lachlan is returning to a leadership role at his father’s business after running his own company for several years and will rank higher than James, who stayed at the family empire and battled revelations of hacking by its U.K. newspaper reporters."

While Lachlan Murdoch started at his father’s company, he quit as deputy chief operating officer in 2005 and started his own investment company, although he remained a director of his father’s company. He bought almost 20% of Australian broadcaster Ten Network Holdings in 2010, became the company’s acting CEO in 2011 and then gave up that role to become chairman. He’s now stepping down from that position, the story notes.

lachlan murdoch.jpgLachlan Murdoch

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Drama Series Pulled Off A&E Finds a New Home

A drama series that was recently pulled from the schedule by A&E has landed on another cable network. Deadline.com reports that “Those Who Kill” has found a new home on sibling network LMN, also known as the Lifetime Movie Network.

While it’s good news for the show that it will be returning to television, its placement on LMN is “not exactly a vote of confidence to the show by A+E Networks brass, who kept the announcement of the series’ relaunch super low-key with a post on ‘Those Who Kill’s' Facebook page,” the piece notes.

LMN started airing original series last fall, with a focus on unscripted crime shows. “Those Who Kill” will be LMN’s first scripted series, the report notes.

“In what looks like a burn-off run, new episodes of ‘Those Who Kill’ will air at 10 p.m. Sundays,” the story adds.

The debut of the drama, which stars Chloe Sevigny, drew only 1.4 million viewers on A&E, and that number dropped to 830,000 viewers for its second episode. After A&E pulled the show, fans rallied behind it, and the network indicated it was considering relaunching the show.

those who kill.jpg

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What Will Aereo Do If It Loses Supreme Court Fight?

Asked what his company will do if it loses its copyright battle with broadcasters in the Supreme Court, Aereo Chief Executive Chet Kanojia said the company has no “plan B,” reports Fierce Cable, citing an interview with Bloomberg TV.

“There is no plan," Kanojia said when asked what the company’s alternate plan would be. "If we don't succeed, despite our best efforts and the good law being on our side, it would be a tragedy. But it is what it is."

Fierce Cable reports: “The deck seems stacked against Aereo, which, if it wins, could alter the entire broadcasting model of charging for retransmission of broadcast signals. Earlier this month the Justice Department threw its support behind broadcast networks and noted the reversal of a lower court's decision in favor of the startup, saying that the decision ‘need not call into question the legitimacy of innovative technologies that allow consumers to use the Internet to store, hear, and view their own lawfully acquired copies of copyrighted works.’”

Chet Kanojia 2.pngChet Kanojia

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Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy on Death of Tiger That Attacked Him: 'I Have Lost a Brother'

The white tiger that attacked Siegfried & Roy’s Roy Horn has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The tiger, Mantecore -- whose name is often reported as Montecore -- was 17 and died after a short illness.

Despite being mauled by the tiger, Horn said in a statement issued to the publication: “The world has lost one of its most majestic creatures, and I have lost a brother.”

In 2003, Mantecore hauled Horn offstage during a performance and caused injuries that left him seriously wounded and suffering from severe blood loss. Horn ended up with 25% of his skull removed.

“I will forever believe it was his concern for my safety and well-being that caused him to act as he did on that night long ago. We spent many hours together, and he never failed to bring me great joy and wonderment," Horn said.

mantecore.jpgMantecore

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Fox Scores Casting Coup for Upcoming Comedy

In what Deadline calls “one of the biggest casting coups for Fox this season,” the network has cast British actor and writer Nick Frost in a lead role in the comedy pilot “Sober Companion,” the website reports.

Frost will play Robert, a self-destructive attorney who is given a court-appointed sober companion, played by Justin Long. After doing a face-plant in court, Robert is assigned the companion for 90 days, or else will lose his job.

The job is is the first American TV role for Frost, who played Ed in “Shaun of the Dead” and Danny Butterman in “Hot Fuzz.”

nick frost.pngNick Frost

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Gwyneth Paltrow and Her Husband, Coldplay's Chris Martin, Split Up After 10 Years of Marriage

After 10 years of marriage, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and singer Chris Martin are breaking up, People magazine reports. The couple made the announcement in a message posted on Paltrow's GOOP website, with the headline “Conscious Uncoupling.”

“It is with hearts full of sadness that we have decided to separate," Paltrow and Martin wrote. They have two children, Apple, 9, and Moses, 7.

Martin, the frontman for the rock band Coldplay, and Paltrow said in their statement that they had been “working hard for well over a year” to make their relationship work. “We have come to the conclusion that while we love each other very much we will remain separate," the message on GOOP read.

The couple had been the subject of breakup rumors for years, People notes. Paltrow in 2008 called the rumors “ridiculous.”

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Lifetime Show Gets a Second Season

Lifetime has placed an order for a second season of one of its shows. TheWrap.com reports that the cable channel will bring back the docuseries “Kim of Queens."

The second season will debut June 17, and will consist of 10 episodes. The project, from Relativity Television and Bogner Entertainment, follows Miss Georgia America, Kim Gravel, as she helps young girls compete in beauty pageants.

The program has performed well for Lifetime, earning a 16% increase in the network’s prime-time average both in the 18-49 demographic and in Lifetime's key demo of women 25-54, the story reports.

Eli Lehrer, Lifetime's nonfiction programming senior VP, told the website in a statement: “‘Kim of Queens’ is yet another example of our success in providing viewers with a rare look into unique worlds that feature incomparable characters you can't find anywhere else."

kim of queens-lifetime.jpg

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MTV Drama Series 'Teen Wolf' Loses a Fan Favorite

One of the fans' favorite characters on the MTV drama series “Teen Wolf” is off the show. E! Online reports that actor Daniel Sharman, who plays the werewolf Isaac, won't be back for the series' fourth season.

His departure comes after the exit of the show’s female lead, Crystal Reed, who played Allison.

“Daniel Sharman came to us, much like Crystal did, and said that he wanted to go out for pilot season and for movies and try something new," executive producer Jeff Davis told the website.

Sharman requested that his character not be killed off, which means there’s a chance he could return, the story adds.

“He said he loved the role so much that he wanted to be able to come back if there was a chance," Davis said. "But he was at a position where he wanted to stretch his creative wings and I said to him, ‘Well, if we can't convince you to come back, we'll definitely leave the door open for you.'"

Sharman appeared in almost every episode of the third season, although the article notes he was never a series regular.

daniel sharman.pngDaniel Sharman

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One of This Year's Emmy Questions Is Answered, as HBO's 'True Detective' Picks a Category

One of the big questions early in the Emmy season -- in which category will HBO’s “True Detective” compete -- has been answered. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the program will compete as a drama series.

“The project, created by Nic Pizzolatto and starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, was sold and done as an eight-episode limited series, which easily would’ve qualified it as a miniseries,” Andreeva points out.

“American Horror Story,” which competed as a drama series in the 2012 Golden Globes, switched to longform for the 2012 Emmy Awards, and has dominated, earning 17 Emmy nominations last year.

The drama field, meanwhile, is much more competitive -- but it may also have more prestige. Competing for Emmys as a miniseries “would’ve pretty much guaranteed the moody Louisiana series a dominant performance and a slew of trophies," Andreeva writes. "Now it will go against the final installment of AMC’s ‘Breaking Bad’ among other drama heavyweights."

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BBC America Orders Its First Original Comedy Series

BBC America has ordered its first original scripted comedy series. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the cable channel placed a seven-episode order for “Almost Royal."

The show is about George and Poppy Carlton, who are the heirs to a country estate in Norfolk, England. They’re distant descendants of the British royal family, and have agreed to have a camera follow them as they take a road trip to the USA, the story reports.

The show will debut after the season two finale of “Orphan Black,” the report notes. It joins a slate of scripted dramas at BBC America, including “Doctor Who” and “Ripper Street.”

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MTV Series to Return for Season Two

MTV has announced the renewal of a freshman show. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the cable channel will bring back the dating series “Are You the One?” for a second season.

MTV made the announcement before the show’s first-season finale, the report notes.

The new season will focus on 20 new competitors as they try to decide who their matches are, the story reports. The show includes weekly tests of personality traits, physical attraction and other assessments.

Susanne Daniels, MTV president of programming, said: “Coming off ratings success from the first season, this social dating experiment continuously maintained strong numbers and developed an incredibly loyal fan base, proving there is an appetite for finding love. It is the #1 original series across all TV in its time period with young people ages 12-34."

Are You the One-female cast-season one.jpg"Are You the One?"

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NBC Scores a Dominant Monday Ratings Win; CBS Is Up Across the Board in Prime Time

NBC rolled to a dominant Monday night ratings win, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the network's two-hour "The Voice" powered a big win in the demo, while ABC squeaked ahead in total viewers on the strength of "Dancing with the Stars."

CBS, meanwhile, saw its entire prime-time lineup improve from a week ago.

"The Voice" finished as the top show of the night on broadcast prime in the 18-49 demo, despite losing significant ground from last week. The singing competition delivered a 3.4 average rating, off a half-point from a week earlier. NBC's "The Blacklist" ticked up two-tenths to a 2.9.

Head-to-head against "The Voice," ABC's two-hour "Dancing with the Stars" saw a half-point decline to a 2.2 average in adults 18-49, but the show led all of broadcast prime in total viewers with 14.25 million (to 12.65 million for "The Voice"). ABC's "Castle" drifted down one-tenth to a 1.7 in 18-49.

CBS kicked off prime time with the second-to-last installment of its hit comedy "How I Met Your Mother," which surged a half-point from a week ago to a 3.4 average in viewers 18-49.

The rest of CBS's prime-time programs also rose in the 18-49 demo: "2 Broke Girls" was up one-tenth from last week to a 2.3 average, "Mike & Molly" climbed two-tenths to a 2.0 (after recording an all-time low last week), "Mom" ticked up one-tenth to a 1.8 (also from a series low), and "Intelligence" rose one-tenth to a 1.2.

Fox held steady, with both "Bones" and "The Following" duplicating last week's numbers in adults 18-49: a 1.4 for "Bones" and another 1.4 for "The Following," which equals its series low.

For prime time overall, NBC's 3.4 average was the class of the field in the 18-49 demo, followed by ABC (2.1 average), CBS (2.0), Fox (1.4) and Univision (1.2). ABC led the way in total viewers with 12.8 million, ahead of NBC (12.1 million), CBS (6.9 million), Fox (5.0 million) and Univision (3.1 million).

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Cable's Top-Rated Program in a Key Time Period -- Thursday Night at 10 P.M. -- Gets Season Three Renewal

The No. 1 show in the ratings on cable on Thursday nights at 10 p.m. has received a third season renewal, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

History has greenlighted a new season of its "Vikings" drama series.

"The Irish-Canadian co-production stars Travis Fimmel as the ambitious Viking chieftain Ragnar, whose desire to conquer new lands drives him to achieve great success in his medieval Scandinavian society," the story reports. "The second season has followed Ragnar's life as he has moved up to the status of an Earl in the Viking world."

"Vikings," which premiered in 2013, was History's first scripted drama series, the report notes. The show's second season is currently airing and is approaching its halfway mark.

"Ratings have been strong enough for History to move on a third season, which will film this summer for a 2015 air date," the story reports. "The series has averaged 3.4 million total viewers in its second season...."

vikings-history2.jpg"Vikings"

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'America's Got Talent' Host's Whiteface Photo Causes an Uproar

The host of the NBC competition show "America's Got Talent" is getting backlash after "whiting up" to promote his new album, the New York Daily News reports.

Nick Cannon, whose other job is rapper, put a photo of himself in whiteface on Instagram in connection with the upcoming release of "White People Party Music," the story reports.

"The rapper, who is married to singer Marah Carey, has been criticized as 'racist,' 'ignorant' and 'hypocritical' for the stunt," the piece reports.

Cannon also unveiled a new persona, "Connor Smallnut," in a series of videos, the report adds.

"Cannon, 33, sent social media sites into meltdown after sharing an Instagram snap of himself Sunday," the story reports.

Along with the image, which you can see below, Cannon reportedly included a message reading: "It's official… I'm White!!! #WHITEPEOPLEPARTYMUSIC #Wppm in stores April 1st!!!!!!Dude Go Get It!!!Join The Party!!!!"

Cannon added: "#GoodCredit #DogKissing #BeerPong #FarmersMarkets #FistPumping #CreamCheeseEating #RacialDraft “Bro I got drafted!!"

Cannon responded to the furor by saying fans have taken the stunt too seriously. After receiving criticism he reportedly tweeted: ""Duuuude everybody Chil-lax!!!!" ~ Connor Smallnut'."

He later sent this message: "It's funny how people take themselves so seriously. People love drama! We feed off of it. Just relax and have fun!!"

"To further illustrate his point, he then referred to Robert Downey Jr. -- who donned blackface to play Kirk Lazarus in comedy war film 'Tropic Thunder,'" the piece reports.

Cannon reportedly tweeted: "Shout out to @RobertDowneyJr This is one of my favorite characters of all time! Hilarious!!! There is a big difference between Humor and Hatred."

Here's the photo:

nick cannon instagram whiteface.pngNick Cannon in whiteface

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'Grey's Anatomy' Dumps Two Cast Members

Two series regulars on the ABC drama "Grey's Anatomy" won't be getting their contracts picked up for next season, Nellie Andreeva reports on Deadline.com.

Both cast members are relative newcomers: Tessa Ferrer and Gaius Charles.

Ferrer plays Leah Murphy, "a second-year resident who has been involved with Alex (Justin Chambers) and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw)," Andreeva notes. "Fellow resident Shane Ross (Charles) has been romantically linked to Stephanie (Hinton) and Cristina (Sandra Oh)."

Andreeva adds, "It is unclear whether they could make guest appearances in the future."

The story also notes that "Ferrer and Charles, along with Camilla Luddington and Jerikka Hinton, joined ABC‘s 'Grey’s Anatomy' as recurring last season, playing new interns. All four got promoted to regular heading into the current 10th season of the medical drama, which is poised to return next fall after stars Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey inked new deals to continue on the show."

The current season will also be the last for Oh, one of the original cast members, the report notes.

Andreeva adds: "Other notable 'Grey’s' alums include Isaiah Washington -- who is returning for Oh’s farewell -- T.R. Knight, Katherine Heigl, Chyler Leigh and Eric Dane."

tessa ferrer.pngTessa Ferrer

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With One Season Left, the 'Mad Man' Cast Share Their Favorite Moments From the Ground-Breaking Series About Madison Ave.

When the major cast members from AMC's acclaimed drama series "Mad Men" gathered Friday in Hollywood for PaleyFest, one of the first topics was grief -- and how they're all dealing with the inevitable end of a series the actors appear to love at least as much as their fans do.

But Jon Hamm, Vincent Kartheiser, Elisabeth Moss, Christina Hendricks, Jessica Pare, Kiernan Shipka and Robert Morse -- all of whom took part in the event -- found plenty to celebrate too, as they relived their favorite moments and shared their insights on some of the landmark show's many mysteries.

TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin was on hand and filed a report summing up the tears, laughter and all the best quotes. Please click here to read Hillary's in-depth story.

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This Underwater Microphone Could Find the Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet. It's Our Non-TV Story of the Day

With authorities "all but certain Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went down in the south Indian Ocean in water that may be as deep as 23,000 feet," the U.S. Navy has a microphone that could help a lot in finding the missing aircraft, according to a story on the website of Wired magazine.

The microphone is called a tow fish.

The story reports: "The 70-pound tow fish, which is formally known in true Pentagon style as Towed Pinger Locator 25, is a hydrodynamic microphone designed specifically to listen for the acoustic signal of the data and cockpit voice recorders carried aboard all commercial and military aircraft. It can track the devices to depths of 20,000 feet.

“'Basically, this super-sensitive hydrophone gets towed behind a commercial vessel very slowly and listens for black box pings,' says Commander Chris Budde, U.S. 7th Fleet operations officer."

The article adds: "The U.S. Navy deployed a pair of tow fish aboard the Seahorse Standard, a Royal Australian Navy Rescue Support vessel that will drag it through the search area west of Perth, Australia. The Standard joins a flotilla of a dozen ships scouring a vast swath of sea for any sign of the Boeing 777-200ER, which vanished March 8 enroute to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur."

seahorse standard.jpgThe Seahorse Standard, equipped with the powerful tow fish microphone, will search for the missing Malaysian jetliner

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Fireworks at CNN: CNN's Ad Sales Chief -- a 27-Year Turner Veteran -- Is Out

The fireworks started last night, March 24, 2014, with this screaming headline on the website of the New York Post's notorious Page Six: "CNN’s head ad man defects over infighting."

The story, by Page Six guru Richard Johnson, says: "Look out for a big defection at Turner Broadcasting/CNN: Greg D’Alba, head of CNN ad sales, is leaving the company after 28 years. 'He can’t take it anymore,' a source close to D’Alba told me. 'He can’t stand all the infighting and the politics.'"

Actually, D'Alba has been with Turner 27 years, and has run CNN ad sales since 2003.

The piece adds, " 'Greg is an incredibly well-respected guy and has had great success over the years, but it’s been very hard since [CNN President Jeff] Zucker came,' said my source.

"D’Alba and his team had trouble selling ads as CNN’s ratings plunged to a 20-year low earlier this year.

"And Zucker, the former head of NBC, hasn’t been able to stem the slide with his conversion of CNN from straight news to documentaries and infotainment."

Pretty savvy on the part of D'Alba's people to get the word out before it was announced officially today that there has been a reorg at Turner Broadcasting, leaving D'Alba with the short stick and out of the company.

According to our good friend Brian Steinberg, writing in today's online edition of Variety, Donna Speciale, who has been president of Turner Entertainment and Young Adult Ad Sales, now picks up responsibilities for CNN ad sales and some of the company's digital assets as well. 

Steinberg writes that Speciale is "a Madison Avenue veteran who once advised Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Kraft Foods how and where to allocate their advertising dollars ... [who] joined Turner in 2012 from Publicis Groupe ad-buying firm MediaVest ..."

Turner also has a large number of sports properties. Steinberg writes: "Ad sales for Turner’s sports media and the digital property Bleacher Report will remain separate, with two executives responsible for digital ads associated with sports content now reporting to Jon Diament, exec veep of Turner Sports ad sales."

In his story Steinberg quotes Turner Broadcasting System President David Levy from an internal memo about the reorg: "Obviously, the changes we are announcing today come at an important time in our business.Through discussions with our clients, we know they’re looking to accelerate the process of integrating their media plans and have a single point of focus that will further streamline the buying process across all screens and opportunities.”

Though major changes such as D'Alba's departure are not usually made this close to the critical spring upfront buying season, Steinberg notes: "In December, Viacom said a single ad-sales team would deal with advertisers for all TV programming and digital assets associated with CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Logo, Spike TV, TV Land and VH1. NBCUniversal in October reorganized its ad-sales staff around consumer behaviors, such as watching mass-audience entertainment, live programming like sports or news, or specific kinds of lifestyle content. "

Below: Pictures of Donna Speciale and Greg D'Alba

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TV Judge Jailed After Courtroom Outburst

A prominent television judge found himself on the wrong side of the law Monday and wound up behind bars. CNN reports that Judge Joe Brown was jailed on a contempt of court charge issued by a Tennessee juvenile judge.

Brown, 66, was sentenced to five days in jail after he “challenged the authority” of Magistrate Harold Horne and became “pretty raucous,” according to another judge. He was later released on his own recognizance, the report notes.

“Brown, a former Shelby County criminal judge, was in court to represent a client in a child-support case," the story reports. "He apparently became upset when he was told the case was not on the afternoon docket, Chief Magistrate Dan Michael said."

CNN adds: “Horne, who ‘is a real laid-back guy,’ gave Brown several chances to calm down before finding him in contempt, Michael said.”

Michael added that the court staff and judges “were all kind of floored” by Brown’s outburst. Brown’s long-running courtroom TV show was canceled last year.

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Actress Exits New CBS Comedy After Table Read

An actress who had one of the lead roles on an upcoming CBS sitcom is off the show following a table read. Deadline.com reports that Krysta Rodriguez has exited “How I Met Your Dad."

The production is a spinoff of the network's long-running hit “How I Met Your Mother" with a female point of view, as seen through the eyes of Sally, played by Greta Gerwig. Rodriguez had been slated to play Juliet, Sally’s best friend and the owner of a successful fashion blog.

“The character has undergone changes after the table read,” the piece notes.

Rodriguez, a singer as well as an actress, is known for playing Wednesday in the Broadway musical "The Addams Family" and was a regular on season two of NBC's "Smash," playing Ana.

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'He Was a Lucky Man': Actor James Rebhorn, Who Died Friday, Wrote His Own Obituary

The late actor James Rebhorn wrote his own obituary before his death Friday at age 65, reports TheWrap.com. You can read the entire obituary by clicking here.

Rebhorn, who was a familiar face on TV, appearing in series including “Homeland," “White Collar" and "Law & Order,” wrote, “He was a lucky man in every way.”

The obituary, published by St. Paul Lutheran Church in Jersey City, honored his mother Ardell, who he wrote “loved him very much and supported all his dreams,” as well as his father, James Harry Rebhorn, who taught the actor that “there is no excuse for poor craftsmanship. A job well done rarely takes more or less time than a job poorly done.”

He also praised his wife and his two daughters, who “anchored his life and gave him the freedom to live it. Without them, always at the center of his being, his life would have been little more than a vapor.”

He wrote that he hoped his family would “grieve his passing only as long as necessary. They have much good work to do, and they should get busy doing it.”

Deadline.com noted of Rebhorn's obituary: “This is the first time we have seen something like this at Deadline. We feel it is exceptional and should be shared.”

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One of the Original Stars of 'CSI' Is Headed Out the Door

An actor who has been a part of CBS's long-running procedural "CSI" since its first season is leaving the show. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Paul Guilfoyle will exit the show at the end of the current season.

The actor has played Captain Jim Brass since the show's first season in 2000, and is one of only two original stars, along with George Eads, who remain with the production.

"Paul made Capt. Brass a standout character," ‘CSI’ exec producers Carol Mendelsohn and Don McGill said in a statement to the publication. "He is not just an original cast member, he is an original. In a show about forensics, fans always looked forward to the handcuffs coming out, and Capt. Brass putting his spin on the crime of the week, just as Paul Guilfoyle put his indelible stamp on the character and the show. He will be missed."

Guilfoyle and Eads, who plays Nick Stokes, have each appeared in 312 episodes of “CSI” so far -- more than any other cast members -- missing only a handful of episodes in the course of 14 seasons, the report notes. The show has had a fair number of cast changes, including the high-profile departures of William Petersen and Marg Helgenberger at the end of seasons nine and twelve, respectively.

The drama, which was just renewed for its 15th season, currently stars Ted Danson and Elisabeth Shue. Guilfoyle's final episode will be the season 14 finale, set to air May 7.

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'Entourage' Movie Going Forward Despite Star's Broken Leg

The long-awaited "Entourage" movie appeared to suffer a setback when one of the stars broke his leg in two places last week while playing football on the set, but Dominic Patten reports on Deadline.com that the production has continued uninterrupted.

Actor Kevin Connolly was playing football Wednesday with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who has a cameo in the movie, when the accident happened. Connolly plays Eric, or "E," best friend and manager to Adrian Grenier's Vince, in "Entourage."

“Connolly immediately iced his leg, I’m told, and went back to work to do the next scene soon afterward," Patten writes. "He showed up for work the next day, and production on the movie based on the long-running HBO Hollywood hustle series has not been interrupted at all."

The movie is slated to open on June 12, 2015, or four years after the show ended on HBO.

kevin connolly.pngKevin Connolly

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Why the Oprah Winfrey Network Decided to Move

The Oprah Winfrey Network -- OWN -- is moving to The Lot in West Hollywood, from its current location in Los Angeles’ Miracle Mile neighborhood, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The cable channel will move into three floors of a new five-story building that will provide OWN’s executives and producers with access to screening rooms and sound stages, something the channel doesn't have at its current location, the story reports.

"We've been a little limited in our current offices, so when we film in L.A. we’re shooting in people’s houses or renting stages," OWN and Harpo Studios President Sheri Salata said.

The move isn’t related to the decision to sell Harpo Studios’ Chicago space, the report notes.

OWN President Erik Logan tells the publication that he and Salata were inspired by the atmosphere on the active lot, where an episode of HBO’s “True Blood” was taping while they took a tour.

"Sheri and I, along with Oprah, love the idea of having a rich, stimulating creative environment to work in," he said.

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Stars of Cult Hit Return to Television for April Fool's Day Stunt

National Geographic Channel is bringing back the stars of a cult hit that went off the air in 1999, with the actors from “Mystery Science Theater 3000” returning to mock Nat Geo’s own programming, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker.

The April 1 special is called “Total Riff Off” and will feature “MST3K” stars Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett as they poke fun of three hours of clips from the network’s shows.

“Mystery Science Theater 3000” gained fans for its mockery of cheesy science-fiction films. In the original show, the set-up was that the characters were imprisoned in a space station by an evil scientist and forced to watch bad movies, although they were free to poke fun at the films.

Nat Geo will provide the crew with clips from shows including “Honey Badgers,” “Swamp Men” and “Alpha Dogs,” the story notes. The event will be cut into three hour-long episodes with names such as “Killer Shrimp N’ Friends.”

mystery science theater 3000-mst3k.jpg"Mystery Science Theater 3000"

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Who Is the Heir Apparent to Ben Sherwood's Top Spot at ABC News?

With ABC News President Ben Sherwood stepping up to replace Anne Sweeney as co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group, attention is turning to who will replace him at the news division.

ABC News Senior Vice President James Goldston appears to be the next in line, Deadline.com reports.

“Goldston’s the guy credited with saving ‘Nightline’ from oblivion, and turning ‘Good Morning America’ into the franchise that deposed NBC’s ‘Today’ as king of the morning show ratings -- though Goldston already had been upped to Sherwood’s No. 2 guy, and Tom Cibrowski, who’d worked with Goldston on ‘GMA,’ had been promoted to ‘GMA’ chief when the program actually went in for the kill,” the story reports.

Goldston is said to be well-liked, the piece adds. “He’s also considered so valuable to the news operation that discussion of Sherwood-replacement plans don’t seem to include any other names,” the report adds.

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Back to Drama for Former 'Breaking Bad' Star -- Assuming Her Current Comedy Series Doesn't Get a Needed Miracle

A former star of "Breaking Bad" is poised to return to a major drama series role after a foray into network comedy. Deadline.com reports that Betsy Brandt, who has been co-starring in NBC’s struggling “The Michael J. Fox Show,” is signed to play one of the lead roles in ABC’s 13-episode drama “The Club."

Brandt will play Leslie, the wife of one of the men who owns a private country club. The casting is formally in second position to the low-rated and currently benched “Michael J. Fox Show,” the story notes.

The casting is the second role Brandt has secured in the past few weeks, after she took on a recurring role on Showtime’s “Masters of Sex.” Brandt played Marie Schrader, the conflicted wife of DEA agent Hank (Dean Norris) and sister-in-law to meth dealer Walter White (Bryan Cranston), on AMC's "Breaking Bad."

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Study Reveals a Successful Strategy for Stars Wanting to Boost Viewership of Their Shows

A study by the Advertising Research Foundation has uncovered a strategy that has been successful in helping to drive viewership for TV shows. The New York Post reports that the study found actors who tweet about their television shows can boost the programs' viewership.

The study found that “TV-related tweets from a show’s star or cast member are 40 percent more likely to drive viewership to that show than a tweet from someone’s friend or family member,” the piece adds.

Tweets from a show’s Twitter account only drive 18% of viewers to the show, the study found.

"In addition, over 90% of people who’ve seen show-related tweets will immediately check out the show or share its content," the story reports.

The article adds: “The study also bodes well for advertisers; 54 percent of those who recall seeing tweets mentioning brands have either tweeted about the brand, searched for it online or [are] considering trying the product.”

The study was based on responses from about 13,000 people.

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Public Radio Star to Host Peabody Awards

The 2014 Peabody Awards, which honor television and radio stations, networks, production companies and individuals, will be hosted by “This American Life” creator Ira Glass, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The event will be held May 19 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, with portions of the ceremony televised on the Pivot cable network. Glass's radio program “This American Life” is a previous Peabody Award winner, the piece notes.

Glass will announce some of this year’s winners April 2 on “CBS This Morning,” the story notes.

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It Turns Out Comcast and Time Warner Cable, Who Have a Merger in the Works, Have Something Else in Common -- But They May Not Be Happy About It

Merger partners Comcast and Time Warner Cable share a distinction that they may not be thrilled to have as public knowledge. Citing a new Consumer Reports survey, Bloomberg reports that the two cable companies are among the least liked in America.

The companies ranked near the bottom of the magazine’s survey of almost 82,000 users of TV, Internet and phone plans. Subscribers gave Time Warner Cable and Comcast poor marks for customer support and value.

Comcast’s TV service was ranked 15th out of 17 providers, while Time Warner Cable was No. 16. The bottom-rated service was Mediacom Communications, which has 582,000 customers, mostly in the South and Midwest, the piece adds.

“Everything else in consumer technology is getting more affordable every year -- everything except communications services,” Glenn Derene, electronics editor and the lead author of the Consumer Reports story, told Bloomberg.

Comcast is asking for regulatory approval for its $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable. That would give the combined company 30% control of the pay-TV market.

Bloomberg notes, “The Consumer Reports cover story, published today, shows just how much the pay-TV industry has infiltrated customers’ wallets. The rate of cable price increases more than doubled the rate of inflation in the 15 years through 2012, Derene said. Providers of bundled phone, Internet and cable packages have been consistently low over the past six years, and among the magazine’s lowest-rated consumer services, he said.”

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Fox News to Launch New Program This Month

Fox News Channel has taken the wraps off its plans for a new program, which is set to launch in less than a week. The program is "Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo."

The cable channel announced that the one-hour show will debut March 30 at 10 a.m. ET. Michael Clemente, Executive Vice President of News for the network, made the announcement.

Said Clemente: “Maria’s renowned expertise covering financial markets, job forecasts and the economy has helped define her as one of the finest business journalists in the industry and I am confident she will bring even greater value to Fox News Channel’s weekend programming.”

The network added in its announcement: "'Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo' will deliver an added perspective to the traditional Sunday morning political conversations. Each week, Bartiromo will interview business leaders and industry newsmakers on topics such as job creation and investment opportunities, providing viewers with an inside look at how to prepare financially for the future."

Bartiromo, who was at CNBC for 20 years until she left the network last year, is Fox Business Network’s global markets editor and anchor of the weekday morning program "Opening Bell with Maria Bartiromo."

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ABC Rolls Out Summer Schedule, With Four New Shows in the Lineup

ABC Entertainment today announced the broadcast network's summer schedule, which includes the addition of four new series to the lineup: “The Astronaut Wives Club,” “Bachelor in Paradise,” “Rising Star” and “The Quest.”

Series that are returning this summer include “The Bachelorette,” “Bet on Your Baby,” “Extreme Weight Loss,” “Mistresses,” “Motive,” “NY Med,” “Rookie Blue” and “Wipeout.”

As the network announced previously, the new drama “Black Box” will premiere Thursday, April 24, and the “2014 Billboard Music Awards” will be televised Sunday, May 18.

“Jimmy Kimmel Live: Game Night” specials will be televised in prime time on each night of the NBA Finals, beginning with Game One on Thursday, June 5.

Please click here for the full schedule and the full press release from ABC Entertainment, with details about all of the network's summer programming.

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Mark Cuban Says Latest TV Deal Shows NFL Is Getting 'Hoggy' and Will Eventually Implode

Mark Cuban, chairman of the HDTV cable net AXS TV and owner of the NBA Dallas Mavericks, is predicting a steep decline in the popularity of the NFL over the next 10 years, and he says the reason is simple: It's the league's greed, ESPN reports.

In a chat with reporters Sunday, Cuban said: "I think the NFL is 10 years away from an implosion. I'm just telling you: Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. And they're getting hoggy."

Cuban added: "When you try to take it too far, people turn the other way. I'm just telling you, when you've got a good thing and you get greedy, it always, always, always, always, always turns on you. That's rule No. 1 of business."

The report notes: "Cuban was specifically referring to the NFL's recently expanding its television package. He considers it a poor business decision for the NFL, which consistently dominates TV ratings, to play games on days other than Sunday and Monday."

"They're trying to take over every night of TV," Cuban said. "Initially, it'll be, 'Yeah, they're the biggest-rating thing that there is.' OK, Thursday, that's great, regardless of whether it impacts [the NBA] during that period when we cross over. Then if it gets Saturday, now you're impacting colleges. Now it's on four days a week."

ESPN reports: "In February, the league announced a one-year deal with CBS and NFL Network to televise Thursday night games. CBS will air the games during the first eight weeks of the season, simulcasting them with NFL Network. The league's cable network will exclusively show six Thursday night games later in the season with CBS's top announcing tandem of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms in the booth. NFL Network also will have a Saturday doubleheader in Week 16.

"The NFL started a limited package of Thursday night games in 2006. NFL Network showed 13 Thursday night games last season."

Said Cuban: "It's all football. At some point, the people get sick of it."

"Cuban said the NFL is making a mistake by valuing television money over the convenience of fans who are used to planning for their NFL teams to play on Sundays with occasional Monday night games," ESPN adds. "He compared it to the decline in popularity of 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire' after the game show expanded to air five days a week."

Said Cuban: "They put it on every night. Not 100 percent analogous, but they handled it the same. I'm just telling you, pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered."

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Soft Premiere for New NBC Series

On a night when NCAA coverage went overtime -- which may have helped push CBS to No. 1 in the Sunday broadcast ratings, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo -- a new NBC show debuted to less-than spectacular numbers.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC's new home-renovation reality show "American Dream Builders" delivered a preliminary 0.9 average rating in the 18-49 demo for the one-hour program, along with 3.57 million total viewers. NBC wound up a distant fourth overall among the broadcast nets for Sunday prime.

Winning the night was CBS, which got a bump from college hoops overrun at 7 p.m. that jumbled the network's start times for the night. The report notes that CBS's numbers are tentative and subject to more than the usual adjustments due to the live sports overrun.

In preliminary numbers, CBS had a 3.9 average rating in 18-49 for its hoops overrun at 7 p.m., topping any regularly scheduled programming on the broadcast nets. "60 Minutes" surged nine-tenths of a point from a week ago to a 2.6, "The Amazing Race" held steady with a 1.8, "The Good Wife" ticked up two-tenths to a 1.5 and "The Mentalist" dipped one-tenth to a 1.2.

Second-place ABC saw its entire prime-time lineup lose ground. The network's top show of the night, "Resurrection," slid six-tenths from a week ago to a 2.5 average in 18-49, while "Once Upon a Time" fell four-tenths to a 2.0, "America's Funniest Home Videos" was off two-tenths with a 1.3, and "Revenge" slipped one-tenth to a 1.6.

Fox had mixed results, with "Cosmos" drifting down three-tenths from a week ago to a 1.7 in viewers 18-49, "The Simpsons" equaling last week's 1.9, "Bob's Burgers" ticking up one-tenth to a 1.2, "Family Guy" slipping one-tenth to a 2.2 and "American Dad" also off one-tenth, with a 1.3.

NBC opened prime time with a repeat of "The Voice" (0.8 average in 18-49), and led out from the "American Dream Builders" premiere with "Believe," which plunged three-tenths from last week to a 1.2. "Crisis" was also down three-tenths, delivering a 1.3.

For prime time overall, CBS led the way in adults 18-49 with a 2.1 average rating, followed by ABC (1.9 average), Fox (1.7), NBC (1.0) and Univision (0.8). CBS won total viewers handily, averaging 10.3 million to lead ABC (7.1 million), NBC (4.3 million), Fox (3.7 million) and Univision (2.2 million).

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NCAA 'March Madness' Sets Digital Video Consumption Record

NCAA March Madness Live continues to set records for consumption of digital video. March Madness Live, handled by Turner Sports, "has delivered record-setting video consumption for the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship with more than 51 million video streams over the first week of the tournament, already surpassing the total of 49 million video streams for the entire event last year," Turner announced today.

"The 51 million live video streams -- across online and mobile platforms (tablets and smart phones) -- are up 40% when compared tournament to date with 2013," the company added.

Total hours of live video watched are up 6% to 10.5 million hours -- on pace for another record, Turner noted.

Here are some of the highlights through the first week, as reported by Turner:

Mobile Usage Growth

-- Mobile (tablets and smartphones) platforms experienced significant growth with live streams up 74% over the first week of the tournament in 2013.

-- Live streaming hours also delivered considerable growth, up 39% over the comparable span last year.

Most Popular Games

The top five most-watched games across digital platforms over the first full week of the tournament, based on live video streams:

1. Dayton vs. Ohio State -- 4,626,000
2. Mercer vs. Duke -- 4,218,000
3. Harvard vs. Cincinnati -- 2,767,000
4. Kentucky vs. Wichita State -- 1,987,000
5. Stanford vs. New Mexico -- 1,451,000

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'GMA' Anchor Looking for $8 Million per Year

A “Good Morning America” anchor is reportedly demanding $8 million a year to stay at the ABC morning program. The New York Post’s Page Six reports that anchor Josh Elliott is looking for a significant boost from his current $1.2 million annual pay.

Elliott has only four weeks remaining on his contract, and the two sides are at a stalemate over the financial terms of the deal, the story reports. Elliott is also talking with NBC about possibly moving to that network to cover news and sports, the article adds.

Elliott was thought to be looking for more money after “GMA” anchor Robin Roberts signed a deal reportedly worth about $14 million a year, the piece notes.

“Josh is a real star. We never comment on contract negotiations, but we expect him to have a long and terrific career at ABC,” a spokesman for ABC said.

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TV Fixture Dead at 65 -- He Became a Familiar Face on TV and in Film, Known for 'Homeland,' 'Law & Order'

A character actor who became a familiar presence on television through a series of drama roles has died. The New York Times reports that James Rebhorn died Friday at his home in South Orange, N.J., follwoing a battle with melanoma. He was 65.

Rebhorn recently played the father of Claire Danes’ character on Showtime’s “Homeland,” and previously had a recurring role as a defense attorney on NBC's "Law & Order." His other TV work included roles on USA Network’s “White Collar" and the NBC drama "The Book of Daniel.”

Earlier in his career, Rebhorn appeared on the soap operas "Guiding Light" and "As the World Turns."

He had a steady stream of feature film work, including appearances in "Scent of a Woman," "My Cousin Vinny," "Carlito's Way," “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and “Lorenzo’s Oil.”

“Tall and lanky with an ever-receding hairline, Mr. Rebhorn liked to joke that his characters tended to wear suits, whether he was the secretary of defense in ‘Independence Day,’ the 1996 blockbuster about an alien invasion, or an assistant district attorney in the ballyhooed series finale of ‘Seinfeld,’” the story reports.

After considering becoming a Lutheran minister, Rebhorn decided to study theater and political science. He started out working in TV commercials and theater, and then moved into films.

“He was a wonderful, wonderful man. I represented him since 1990, and I represented him for my entire career,” Dianne Busch, his Leading Artist rep, told Deadline.com. “He was an absolute joy to work with. He was very funny and was warm. He was drawn to projects with a social conscience. One of his favorite movies that he did was ‘Lorenzo’s Oil’ because it made a difference. He had a very strong faith and loved his family. His family was extremely important to him and I saw him make career sacrifices for them.”

james rebhorn.jpgJames Rebhorn

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Hulu Hit With Class-Action Lawsuit

The online streaming service Hulu has been hit with a class-action lawsuit, Deadline.com reports. At issue, according to the report, is the service's automatic renewals.

The lawsuit alleges that since December 2010, Hulu “has made automatic renewal offers throughout California but failed to specify the terms ‘in a clear and conspicuous manner,’ charged cards or accounts without subscribers’ 'affirmative consent' and ‘failed to provide an acknowledgement that includes the automatic renewal or continuous service offer terms, cancellation policy, and information regarding how to cancel in a manner that is capable of being retained by the consumer,’” the story notes.

Plaintiff Nathan Kruger and others who upgraded to Hulu Plus want a jury trial, restitution, declaratory and injunctive relief and attorneys’ fees, the story says.

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Veteran News Exec Named to Succeed Anne Sweeney at Disney/ABC

The Walt Disney Company announced today that it has found its replacement for Anne Sweeney, who announced earlier this month that she's stepping down as co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group.

Taking over the position will be ABC News President Ben Sherwood, who begins the transition immediately, the company said. Sherwood will continue to oversee ABC News until his successor is found, the company noted.

Sherwood "successfully steered ABC News to new heights over the past several years, including driving 'Good Morning America' to #1, brokering a landmark partnership with Yahoo to create the #1 news and information online network, and launching Fusion, a joint venture news and lifestyle network with Univision," the company said in its announcement.

The release adds that Sherwood "will assume the title of co-chairman, Disney Media Networks, and president, Disney/ABC Television Group, on February 1, 2015. Anne Sweeney, Co-Chair, Disney Media Networks, and President, Disney/ABC Television Group, will remain in that capacity through January 2015."

John Skipper is the other co-chairman of Disney Media Networks, and is also president of ESPN Inc. The company did not mention Skipper in its announcement.

Please click here to read the full press release from Disney announcing Sherwood's appointment.

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Vogue Slammed for Kim Kardashian-Kanye West Cover Story

Vogue editor Anna Wintour came under fire from some of the magazine’s readers for its April issue, which features reality TV star Kim Kardashian and Kanye West on the cover, reports TheWrap.com.

The couple, who will soon marry, didn’t inspire feelings of love among Vogue’s readers. Sarah Michelle Gellar, the star of CBS’s “The Crazy Ones,” was one of the people complaining, writing on Twitter, “Well……I guess I'm canceling my Vogue subscription. Who is with me???”

Readers also voiced their displeasure on Vogue’s Facebook page, with more than 700 postings, most of them critical of the cover feature, the story notes.

“Traditionally, scoring a Vogue cover has been a feat reserved for and accomplished by Hollywood A-listers, award-winning directors or producers and top fashion industry figures,” the story notes. Many feel that Kardashian is only “famous for being famous,” the report adds.

Wintour wrote an editor’s letter defending the decision.

“Kanye is an amazing performer and cultural provocateur, while Kim, through her strength of character, has created a place for herself in the glare of the world's spotlight, and it takes real guts to do that,” Wintour wrote.

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ABC Family Scraps Controversial Drama Project

ABC Family has scrapped plans for a drama after the project sparked an outcry. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the cable channel pulled the plug on the pilot “Alice in Arabia” after receiving objections about how the project would portray Muslims.

As previously reported, a Muslim civil liberties group opposed the project, which is about a teen kidnapped by her Saudi Arabian extended family. The Council on American-Islamic Relations asked to sit down with ABC Family executives to discuss its concerns about potential stereotypes.

“The current conversation surrounding our pilot was not what we had envisioned and is certainly not conducive to the creative process, so we’ve decided not to move forward with this project," an ABC Family spokesperson said in a statement.

CAIR said it was happy about the resolution, and thanked those who expressed concerns about the project.

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'Bachelor' Spinoff on the Way

ABC is creating a new reality show based on its “Bachelor” franchise. EW.com’s Inside TV reports that the new series will be called “Bachelor in Paradise” and will air in the summer.

The show will include some fan favorites from previous “Bachelor” iterations, as well as villains, the story notes. Participants will stay in a romantic location and will try to find their soul mate over the course of six episodes.

ABC’s logline reads, “The romantic dating series will feature new twists, shocking surprises, unexpected guests and some of the most unlikely relationships in ‘Bachelor’ history, plus all the usual romance, drama and tears we’ve come to expect from the ‘Bachelor’ franchise. It all comes together in the romantic television event of the summer.”

Chris Harrison will host the show, which will debut after the summer airing of “The Bachelorette.”

chris harrison.pngChris Harrison

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USA Network Picks Up Two Drama Series

USA Network has ordered two medical dramas, including one from “Burn Notice” creator Matt Nix, reports Deadline.com.

The Nix project, called “Complications,” stars Jason O’Mara as an E.R. doctor whose life is changed when he saves a young boy’s life -- and kills one of his attackers -- during a drive-by shooting, the story says.

The other project, “Rush,” is from writer-director Jonathan Levine and stars Tom Ellis as high-end on-call doctor, who will treat any client as long as he or she can pay his cash-only premium.

Both projects were given 10-episode series orders.

matt nix.pngMatt Nix

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CMT Renews Show That Was Bashed by 'Dukes of Hazzard's' Cooter

CMT plans to keep the party going, picking up another season of a show that drew its share of criticism -- including a high-profile tirade from the actor who played Cooter on "The Dukes of Hazzard."

Deadline.com reports that the cable channel ordered a second season of “Party Down South,” with the season scheduled to premiere June 5.

The new 13-episode season will be teased in an advance first-look that will air after the 2014 CMT Music Awards June 4, the report notes. The show is the network’s highest-rated original series yet, despite -- or because of -- ongoing controversy over its raucous content.

As previously reported, Ben Jones, who portrayed the mechanic Cooter on "Dukes” and at one time was a Georgia congressman, lashed out against the show earlier this year. Jones called the show “cultural pornography” and asked the network to stop promoting the reality show during repeats of “Dukes of Hazzard” episodes.

ben jones (cooter).pngBen Jones

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Teller Wins Lawsuit Against Copycat Illusion Posted on YouTube

Teller, half of the magician duo of Penn & Teller, has “just pulled off a feat that is without equal among his peers. He has prevailed in a lawsuit against another magician who put up a copycat illusion on YouTube,” The Hollywood Reporter’s Hollywood, Esq., reports.

While magic tricks can’t be copyrighted, pantomime, or the art of conveying emotions and actions by gestures, is protectable under copyright law, the story notes. Teller’s illusion, called “Shadows” was described as an illusion where he uses a knife to sever petals and leaves from the shadow of a rose.

Teller registered the act with the U.S. Copyright Office in 1983, the piece notes, and the judge noted that there’s evidence that he’s the creator.

But Belgian entertainer Gerard Dogge posted a YouTube video of a similar illusion, and offered to disclose the secret behind it for $3,050. His video’s caption references Penn & Teller’s performance.

“While Dogge is correct that magic tricks are not copyrightable, this does not mean that ‘Shadows’ is not subject to copyright protection," U.S. District Judge James Mahan wrote in his ruling. "Indeed, federal law directly holds 'dramatic works' as well as 'pantomimes' are subject to copyright protection, granting owners exclusive public performance rights. The mere fact that a dramatic work or pantomime includes a magic trick, or even that a particular illusion is its central feature does not render it devoid of copyright protection."

The case is now likely to go to trial to figure out what damages will be awarded, the story adds.

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Four-Time Emmy Winner Joins NBC Drama Project

An Oscar nominee, Golden Globe winner and four-time Emmy winner has been cast in an upcoming NBC project. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that acclaimed actress Alfre Woodard will co-star in "State of Affairs," a drama from Katherine Heigl.

The project stars Heigl as an unconventional CIA officer who now serves as the daily briefer to the president. Woodard’s character is President Roberta Payton, who hires Heigl’s “Charlie” Whitney Tucker in the demanding role. Tucker is also her late son’s former girlfriend, the story notes.

Woodard was nominated for an Oscar in 1984 for her role in “Cross Creek.” She has also earned three Golden Globe nominations, and won in 1998 for “Miss Evers’ Boys.” She’s a four-time Emmy winner, and is known for her work on TV shows including “The Practice” and “True Blood.”

Woodard won her first Emmy in 1984 for "Hill Street Blues," followed by wins for "L.A. Law" (1987), "Miss Evers' Boys" (1997) and "The Practice" (2003). She has a total of 17 Emmy nominations.

alfre woodard.jpgAlfre Woodard

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Report: Apple in Talks with Comcast About a Streaming TV Service

Apple is in talks with Comcast "about teaming up for a streaming-television service that would use an Apple set-top box and get special treatment on Comcast's cables to ensure it bypasses congestion on the Web, people familiar with the matter say, report Shalini Ramachandran, Daisuke Wakabayashi and Amol Sharma in the Wall St. Journal. [Note; the WSJ is behind a firewall and may charge you to read this piece.]

The article continues, "Apple's intention is to allow users to stream live and on-demand TV programming and digital-video recordings stored in the 'cloud,' effectively taking the place of a traditional cable set-top box.

"Apple would benefit from a cable-company partner because it wants the new TV service's traffic to be separated from public Internet traffic over the "last mile"—the portion of a cable operator's pipes that connect to customers' homes, the people familiar with the matter say. That stretch of the Internet tends to get clogged when too many users in a region try to access too much bandwidth at the same time.

"Apple's goal would be to ensure users don't see hiccups in the service or buffering that can take place while streaming Web video, making its video the same quality as Comcast's TV transmissions to normal set-top boxes."

The story also notes that "Apple must acquire significant TV programming rights from media companies, one of the people said. Comcast would want to ensure that the price Apple has to pay to acquire rights wouldn't cause the service to be priced higher than traditional pay-TV service, this person said."

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ABC Rolls to a Ratings Win as Fox's 'Idol' Slips Still Further

Fox's "American Idol" sank to another historic low Thursday night, while ABC rolled to a win on the continuing strength of two drama series. Meanwhile, CBS's coverage of the "March Madness" NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament got off to a soft start, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the first night of the NCAA hoops tourney delivered a preliminary 1.1 average in viewers 18-49 for CBS -- off a hefty 31% from the equivalent number a year ago. But the report notes that significant adjustments can be expected when the final numbers come in, due to the nature of live sports programming.

Fox saw the numbers for "American Idol" continue to erode, as the singing competition fell 14% from a week ago to a 1.9 average in 18-49 -- the lowest number in history for the series. Fox's "Hell's Kitchen" was also down, losing 15% from the season premiere to a 1.7.

ABC continued to get good numbers out of "Scandal" and "Grey's Anatomy." "Scandal" was the top broadcast show of the night with a 2.9 average in the 18-49 demo, up 4% from last week, while "Grey's" also ticked up 4%, registering a 2.4.

The soft spot in ABC's Thursday lineup continues to be "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland," which equaled the series low it set last week, a 0.8 average in 18-49.

NBC, which tied CBS and Univision for third place overall among the broadcast nets, filled one hour of prime with a repeat of "Hollywood Game Night" (0.9 average in 18-49), while the rest of its lineup ticked along in the 1.1 to 1.2 range. "Parenthood" equaled the 1.2 average it pulled in last week; "Parks and Recreation" also equaled its own 1.2; and "Community" bounced back from its series low, rising 10% to a 1.1.

For prime time overall, ABC won the 18-49 demo with a 2.0 average, followed by Fox (1.8 average) and then the pack: Univision, CBS and NBC, all with 1.1 averages. Fox snuck ahead in total viewers, averaging 6.83 million to edge ABC (6.80 million), both well ahead of CBS (3.8 million), NBC (3.5 million) and Univision (2.7 million).

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NCAA Basketball Tournament Setting Records for Digital Viewing

This year's "March Madness" NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament is setting records for digital viewing, Turner Sports announced. While viewership for the tournament on CBS appears to be down, based on early results for broadcast prime time (see separate story), viewing on digital platforms is way up.

"NCAA March Madness Live, managed by Turner Sports, has registered record-setting video streams and engagement across all digital platforms for the first three days (Tuesday-Thursday) of the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship," Turner announced. "Across online and mobile (tablets and smart phones) platforms, NCAA March Madness Live garnered 21 million live video streams, up 42% vs. 2013, and more than 4 million hours of live video consumed, up 18% -- both all-time records for the first three days of tournament action."

Here are the top five most-watched games across digital platforms over the first three days of the tournament, based on live video streams, according to Turner:

1. Dayton vs. Ohio State -- 4,588,000
2. Harvard vs. Cincinnati -- 2,742,000
3. St. Joseph’s vs. Connecticut -- 1,432,000
4. North Dakota State vs. Oklahoma -- 1,365,000
5. Albany vs. Florida -- 1,341,000

Citing data from Omniture, Conviva and Bango, Turner reports the following additional highlights from the first three days of the 2014 tournament:

-- Mobile (tablets and smartphones) platforms experienced significant growth with live streams up 87% over the first three days of the tournament in 2013.

-- Live streaming hours also delivered considerable growth, up 53% over the comparable span last year.

-- According to SocialGuide, the first three days of the NCAA Tournament generated more than 1.1 million comments on Twitter, an increase of 39% over the first three days last year.

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$1.6 Billion Media Merger in the Works as Wave of Consolidation Continues

While opponents continue to voice their concerns about one proposed media merger, another one is now in the works. On the heels of the $45 billion Comcast purchase of Time Warner Cable announced last month, news of a smaller -- but still significant --merger between Media General and LIN Media has surfaced.

"Fresh off its merger with Young Broadcasting, Media General plans to combine with LIN Media to form what they called the second-largest television broadcasting company," B&C reports. "The combined company will have 74 network-affiliate owned or serviced TV stations in 46 markets, reaching about 23% of U.S. households. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval."

The new company would be called Media General and would get LIN's president and CEO, Vincent Sadusky, as its president and CEO.

"Media General will remain headquartered in Richmond," B&C notes. "J. Stewart Bryan III will continue to serve as chairman of the board."

Said Bryan: “Combining Media General and LIN Media will create the second-largest pure-play TV broadcasting company in the United States, a financially strong organization that will have opportunities for profitable growth greater than either company could achieve on its own. Our two companies share a deep commitment to operating top-rated stations, to providing our local markets with excellent journalism and to engaging in meaningful ways with the communities we serve.”

The report adds: "LIN shareholders are to receive an aggregate consideration of $763 million in cash and 49.5 million shares in stock, for a total value of $1.6 billion. The transaction enterprise value, including LIN Media’s net debt balance, is $2.6 billion, according to the companies. Pro forma for the merger, LIN Media shareholders will own approximately 36% of the combined company and Media General shareholders will retain approximately 64% ownership."

The combined company would become one of the top 10 station groups in the country, the report notes, passing ABC and Hearst TV.

vincent sadusky.jpgVincent Sadusky

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Award-Winning TV News Producer -- a Veteran of CBS, ABC, Fox News, CNBC and ESPN -- Dead at 60

A Peabody Award-winning TV news producer who has been a mainstay at CBS News has died. The news division announced that Adrian “Clem” Taylor died today at 60 in a Newark hospital after battling pancreatic cancer for almost a year.

Taylor was at CBS News for almost 20 years, including the last four years at "60 Minutes." His piece "Joy in the Congo" on the Kimbanguist Symphony Orchestra in war-torn Kinshasa, aired on Easter Sunday in 2012, won the Peabody Award in 2013 along with an Emmy Award -- one of eight Emmys Taylor won over the course of his career.

Said "60 Minutes executive producer and CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager: “Clem was a wonderful man, a great friend to so many of us, and a world-class producer. His most recent story was a classic and memorable '60 Minutes' story that made him very proud, as it did the rest of us. We will miss him very much." Fager was referring to a story on a small-town group of men who staged the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y.

CBS News noted that Taylor "held a variety of producing jobs in the news division, rising to senior producer for 'The Early Show' in the late 1990s. Before that, he served as a producer in Washington, Dallas, and New York, and traveled to more than 20 countries on behalf of the network. His years assigned to the White House during the Reagan administration had Taylor covering many of the most important news stories of the 1980s, including the historic summit of Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev in Reykjavik, Iceland."

Taylor also spent about 10 years at ABC News, producing reports for “Primetime Live,” “20/20,” and “What Would You Do?” He also worked at Fox News, CNBC and ESPN.

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Target Security Breach Inspires Movie Deal

A cyber security blogger is the focus of a movie deal with Sony, according to an exclusive by The Hollywood Reporter. Brian Krebs, who runs the site KrebsonSecurity.com and was reportedly the first person to expose the Target credit card breach back in December, is at the center of the project.

Sony picked up rights to a New York Times story, "Reporting From the Web's Underbelly," which focused on the work of Krebs. Richard Wenk, the screenwriter for Sony's feature "The Equalizer," is set to write a screenplay adapted from the Times piece.

The project "is being envisioned as a cyber-thriller inspired by the article and set in the high-stakes international criminal world of cyber-crime," THR reports.

"Escape Artists' Steve Tisch, Todd Black and Jason Blumenthal are producing as are Todd Hoffman and Richard Arlook. David Bloomfield will executive produce," the report notes.

The story adds: "Nicole Perlroth's New York Times article told of Krebs, who has the appearance of a mild-mannered accountant but writes with a 12-gauge shotgun by his side, is an expert in the digital underground and is on a first-name basis with some of the biggest cyber-criminals in the world, many of whom are Russian."

Krebs is a former tech reporter for The Washington Post, the piece notes.

"When his editors wanted him to broaden his beat, he refused and was let go. That's when he created his own blog, which hit it big when he was first to report about Target’s breach in security in December when millions of credit card numbers were stolen," THR reports. "For his work, Krebs had his identity stolen half a dozen times and had fecal matter and heroin sent to his house. Once, a SWAT team was called to his home just as his mother was arriving in an incident of 'swatting' committed by hackers."

brian krebs.jpgBrian Krebs

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USA Network Getting Ready to End One of Its Signature Series With a Last, Very Short Season

One of USA Network's signature series appears headed for its final season. The series is "White Collar," the police procedural that debuted on USA back in 2009.

Our good friend Nellie Andreeva over at Deadline.com writes that she hears that the network and series producer Fox TV Studios are talking about a deal that will bring “White Collar” to a close with a sixth season consisting of just six episodes.

The order would be “a compromise between a movie/miniseries conclusion USA had been considering and a full-length season, sought by producer [Fox TV Studios],” Andreeva notes.

The fifth season of the show ended in January with a cliffhanger, with Neal Caffrey, played by Matt Bomer, abducted.

So why end the show? With ratings for the series still solid, the answer is primarily economics, Andreeva notes. Since the show isn't owned by USA's sibling company -- the Universal TV studio -- at this point in the show's life cycle, continuing it much longer doesn't make much financial sense for the network.

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Nebraska TV Station Apologizes for Malaysia Airlines Misstep

A TV station in Omaha, Neb., has issued an apology over its handling of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the statement from Hearst Television-owned KETV, an ABC affiliate, came after the station sent out a tweet invoking the TV drama "Lost" to help generate interest in the station's coverage of the missing plane.

The station used a graphic from a promotional image for “Lost,” but changed the title to “Flight 370,” referring to the Boeing 777 that disappeared March 8, the story says. The tweet read, “What do YOU think happened to Flight 370?” (See the image below.)

The tweet was taken down, and the station apologized.

“While it was not intended to be insensitive we can see how it would be viewed that way in light of such a tragedy," the station said in a statement emailed to THR.

“Lost,” which ran for six seasons on ABC, was about the survivors of a fictional flight that crashed in the South Pacific.

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A&E Pulls the Plug on Series After One Week

Citing "underperformance" by the show, A&E has pulled a series off its schedule after it aired just a single episode. Writing on the Variety website, Brian Steinberg reports that the cable channel pulled “Breaking Boston,” produced by Mark Wahlberg, after the show drew just 311,000 total viewers for its premiere episode.

The series was inspired by Wahlberg’s Oscar-nominated movie “The Fighter,” and followed female characters coming of age in Boston, the story notes. The project was ordered to series last May and debuted March 13. Steinberg notes that the show was missing from TV listings in newspapers and interactive program guides for the channel's Thursday, March 20, lineup.

"Placement of the program on the air suggested a developing relationship between A&E and Wahlberg, who hoped the series would mirror some of the touchstones of his own youth spent in Boston," Steinberg reports. "Wahlberg also is involved in 'Wahlburgers,' another A&E docuseries focused on him and his brothers Donnie and Paul. A&E in February said it would pick up an additional 18 episodes of the reality show."

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Is a Comeback in the Works for a Beloved Comedy Series?

HBO is in discussions that could result in the return of a comedy series that developed a cult following during its short run on the pay-cable channel.

Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the channel is looking into bringing back “The Comeback,” which was created by Michael Patrick King and "Friends" star Lisa Kudrow.

Kudrow starred in the show as a sitcom actress named Valerie Cherish, who gets a reality show about trying to make a comeback. The series aired for just one 13-episode season in 2005, earning three Emmy nominations, including a lead actress nod for Kudrow.

HBO is considering bringing back the show as a limited or event series, the story reports.

“Like Fox’s single-camera comedy ‘Arrested Development,’ which aired at the same time, ‘Comeback’ was considered to be ahead of its time. While it didn’t get a lot of traction during its original run, ‘Comeback’ quickly achieved cult status, with fans still buzzing about it,” Andreeva reports.

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Outgoing Station Chief Won't Get a Golden Parachute

The man who has run a Los Angeles television station for almost two decades will not be receiving any parting gifts from the station when he heads out the door.

The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that Al Jerome, who is stepping down from the troubled public broadcaster KCET-TV, will leave without a retirement package.

"Al chose to retire, thus upon his retirement he will not receive a compensation package of any sort," a KCETLink spokeswoman wrote in an email.

As previously reported, Jerome is stepping down after leading the public-TV outlet for 18 years. During his tenure, the station left the PBS fold following a fee dispute, and the station has struggled to find viewers since going its own way.

KCET has suffered layoffs as it has coped with money problems, and Jerome’s pay was previously cut by $100,000, with his compensation now at $357,000, the story notes.

Thumbnail image for al jerome-kcet.jpgAl Jerome

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Netflix Chief Wants Consumers to Take Up the Fight Over Net Neutrality

Netflix is making the case to consumers that rules are needed to keep online providers from demanding fees for delivering streaming shows smoothly to customers, reports Bloomberg.

The warning came in a blog post from Netflix Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings, and comes after Netflix recently agreed to pay Comcast millions to provide improved speed and reliability to customers.

“To ensure the Internet remains humanity's most important platform for progress, net neutrality must be defended and strengthened,” Hastings wrote. “The essence of net neutrality is that ISPs such as AT&T and Comcast don't restrict, influence or otherwise meddle with the choices consumers make.”

On some big Internet service providers, Netflix’s performance “has been constrained, subjecting consumers who pay a lot of money for high-speed Internet to high buffering rates, long wait times and poor video quality,” Hastings wrote. He added that as soon as Netflix agrees to pay “interconnection fees,” capacity is provided and high-quality service returns.

“If this kind of leverage is effective against Netflix, which is pretty large, imagine the plight of smaller services today and in the future,” Hastings wrote.

Bloomberg's report adds: “In today’s posting, Hastings didn’t call directly for government intervention. The company is taking its fight directly to the consumer in an attempt to get them to seek change from lawmakers, said Daniel Ernst, an analyst at Hudson Square Research in New York.”

“This is a battle for public opinion that’s going to take a very long time to play out,” Ernst said.

Thumbnail image for reed hastings.pngReed Hastings

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'CBS Evening News' Executive Producer Steps Down

The executive producer of “CBS Evening News” has told her colleagues she's stepping down, Politico reports. The piece notes that Pat Shevlin will remain with CBS in another role.

“Her departure clears the way for Marsha Cooke, the network's Asia bureau chief, who is returning to New York and is widely expected to take the reins on the network's nightly news program,” the story notes.

Shevlin was named executive producer in 2011, when Scott Pelley took over for Katie Couric.

The story adds: “The program won three Emmys and saw notable ratings growth during her tenure, though it remains in third place behind ‘ABC World News’ and ‘NBC Nightly News.’”

pat shevlin-cbs news.jpgPat Shevlin

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Discovery Communications Founder Stepping Down

One of the key players at Discovery Communications is stepping down. The Los Angeles Times reports that company founder John Hendricks plans to retire as chairman in May, stepping down three decades after debuting Discovery Channel in 1985.

Hendricks, who worked in academia before starting the cable network, said he plans to “spend the next few years traveling the planet and discovering the questions and mysteries that intrigue us all."

The story notes, “When Hendricks created Discovery, there was very little original programming on cable TV. With backing from cable mogul John Malone, he turned Discovery into an educational outlet with a heavy focus on nature, science and space.”

The company didn’t say who will succeed Hendricks when he steps down at its May 16 annual meeting, although Discovery President and Chief Executive David Zaslav would be a likely choice, the piece adds.

john hendricks.pngJohn Hendricks

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Ratings Bloodbath: Shows on All Four Big 4 Broadcast Nets Sink to Historic Lows

None of the big four broadcast networks came away unscathed Wednesday night as prime time produced a ratings bloodbath, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that two NBC dramas -- "Revolution" and "Chicago P.D." -- set new series lows, as did Fox's "American Idol" and ABC's "Mixology," while CBS's "Criminal Minds" matched its all-time low in the key demo. For good measure, CBS's "Survivor" equaled its season low.

Third-place NBC may have been the hardest hit by the carnage, as ABC's fourth-place finish came with a lineup of mostly repeats. NBC's "Revolution" slipped 8% from a week ago to a series-low 1.2 average in viewers 18-49, while "Chicago P.D." lost 13% and settled for a series-low 1.4.

NBC's "Law & Order: SVU" was also down, dipping 6% from last week to a 1.5 average in 18-49.

Fox and CBS tied at the top of the 18-49 rankings, both with 2.2 averages for prime time overall. CBS's "Survivor" was the top show of the night, even with its season-low 2.4 average, and it beat Fox's two-hour "Idol" with its series-low 2.2 average.

CBS's "Criminal Minds" equaled its series low with a 2.2 average in adults 18-49, dipping 4% from a week ago, while "CSI" held steady with a 2.0.

"Mixology" was ABC's only fresh program of the night, and it fell 20% from a week ago to a series-low 1.2 average in 18-49.

When the dust settled over prime time overall, Fox and CBS led the battered group to the finish line in viewers 18-49, both with 2.2 averages, followed by NBC (1.4 average), ABC (1.1) and Univision (1.0). CBS inched ahead in total viewers, averaging 10.0 million to lead Fox (9.6 million), NBC (5.2 million), ABC (3.8 million) and Univision (2.6 million).

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Video: Louis C.K. Gets It Wrong About 'Inside the Actors Studio' and Bradley Cooper Makes Him Pay

"Louis C.K. once said nobody becomes famous for asking Sean Penn a question on Bravo's 'Inside the Actor's Studio.' It turns out, Bradley Cooper proved him wrong," TheWrap.com reports.

The story adds: "A Redditor discovered an old interview with the FX star on BBC radio speaking with British actor and radio host Stephen Merchant. In the clip, C.K. zings aspiring actors who ask questions from the audience on James Lipton's program."

C.K. says in the clip, which you can watch below: “It always occurs to me, you know when an actor stands up -- one of the people in the audience -- ‘I am an actor what can I do’ and asks Sean Penn or whoever ‘what can I do to reach your level,’ you just want to say ‘you will never be famous,'"

C.K. adds: “There's no way you ask Sean Penn a question and then you're gonna be huge."

"Little did C.K. know that a young Bradley Cooper appeared on 'Inside the Actor's Studio' in 1999, and coincidentally asked Penn a question," TheWrap reports.

Here's the clip:

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CBS TV Distribution Names Veteran Syndication Exec to Oversee Development

A syndication veteran has been named as the new executive VP of development at CBS Television Distribution. According to The Hollywood Reporter, former Style Network exec Elaine Bauer Brooks will oversee development of new programming for the company.

"Bauer Brooks joins the syndication division from Style Network, where she most recently served as executive producer on the network's Fashion Week programming as well as the series 'Style Pop,'" THR reports. "Before that, she was senior VP development at Style Network, where she worked on series such as 'Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane,' 'Ruby' and 'Style Her Famous.'"

Bauer Brooks has a background in daytime talk, the report notes, having been a producer on Telepictures’ "Jenny Jones" and overseeing "Ricki Lake" during a stint as director of development for Columbia TriStar.

Said Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president of creative affairs for CTD: "Elaine has truly versatile experience from being a hands-on producer to having the perfect combination of unscripted, scripted and digital expertise. I have no doubt that her creativity and drive will enable her to develop innovative, multiplatform first-run syndication brands for CTD."

The report adds: "Bauer Brooks is also the founder and editor of the lifestyle blog The List Collective, which she created in August 2011. She has also been a lifestyle writer and blogger for The Huffington Post."

elaine bauer brooks.pngElaine Bauer Brooks

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'Community' Star to Executive Produce TV Land Comedy

One of the stars of NBC's “Community" will executive produce a comedy project for TV Land. EW.com’s Inside TV reports that Alison Brie has been tapped for the pilot “Teachers."

The project is about six elementary school teachers who deal with their own lives while also trying to help their students. It's based on the Web series of the same name.

“The tone of the show is unlike anything we’ve had on TV Land. I’m really excited about the idea of building this unexplored world, where teachers are the eccentric characters you always hoped they weren’t,” TV Land President Larry W. Jones said.

Brie will executive produce with Matt Miller of “Chuck” and the producers of the Web series.

Alison Brie.pngAlison Brie

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Sundance Institute Labs Program Moves Into Television

The Sundance Institute’s labs program is adding a section dedicated to television and online content through the creation of the Sundance Institute Episodic Story Lab, reports Deadline.com.

The new lab was created with the support of Norman and Lyn Lear. Norman Lear is the producer of some of the biggest comedy hits of the 1970s, such as “All in the Family” and “Maude.”

Participants will spend six days working on scripted and online series, stories and characters, the story notes. The expansion comes after the Sundance Institute has run its development labs for three decades, the piece notes.

Said Sundance President Robert Redford: “Sundance Institute has always worked to develop and support a next generation of independent artists. As more of those artists look to the opportunities in television and online platforms, it is only natural that we expand our labs to address the unique needs of serialized work."

Participants in the episodic lab will only be accepted by invitation, the story notes.

robert redford-sundance.jpgRobert Redford

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CNN Benches Some Shows

CNN has put some of its programming lineup on the bench. TVNewser reports that the cable channel benched some shows that don’t fit well with its current fixation on the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

As previously reported, CNN has seen a surge in ratings as it provides almost nonstop coverage of the missing flight.

"As ratings rise, CNN has benched some shows that don’t fit the missing plane bill," the story reports. "'Crossfire' has been off for more than a week, last seen on CNN Monday, March 10. The planned Monday night experimental shows, 'The Don Lemon Show' and 'Making the Case,' co-hosted by CNN legal analysts Sunny Hostin and Mark Geragos, were replaced Monday night by a full-hour MH370 special report hosted by Lemon."

CNN also temporarily shelved Wednesday’s “Death Row Stories” in favor of another special report on the airplane. Still, CNN plans to air “Chicagoland” tonight (Thursday) as previously scheduled, at 10 p.m. ET.

"The decision to pre-empt 'Crossfire' -- which would have been a TV viewing speedbump at 6:30 p.m. -- is paying off in the ratings: Wolf Blitzer anchoring from 5-7 p.m. ET was CNN’s most-watched show Monday," the story reports, adding: "TVNewser hears 'Crossfire' won’t be back until at least next week, longer if the Malaysian Airlines flight is still missing."

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Former CNN Anchor Says He Has Gone to a 'Dark Place'

A former CNN anchor, appearing on the network Wednesday to talk about the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, also spoke about a personal situation that he said took him to a “dark place.” TVNewser reports that Miles O’Brien talked with host Erin Burnett about losing his left arm.

As previously reported, O’Brien, who is now a “PBS Newshour” science correspondent, had his arm amputated above the elbow after a freak accident in February. Burnett asked O’Brien how he’s been doing since the surgery.

“I talk with my hands and I have lost half my vocabulary,” O’Brien joked. Then he addressed the depression he felt in the aftermath of the accident, noting, “What happens in these cases, Erin, and until you’re presented with this kind of thing you don’t know what you’re going to do.”

“To me there’s two choices," he said. "You can either look at it as yet another challenge in life, something you need to overcome, or you end up in a very dark place. I didn’t like the dark place when I went down that road briefly. So I’m going to stay on this road.”

O’Brien noted that he’s focused on getting a specially fitted prosthetic arm that will enable him to pilot a plane and shoot video.

miles obrien-cnn-pbs.jpgMiles O'Brien

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ABC Family Gets Heat Over Drama Project

ABC Family is under fire over a new drama project. EW.com's Inside TV reports that the cable channel has stirred up a firestorm on Twitter over “Alice in Arabia,” which will feature a teen kidnapped by her Saudi Arabian extended family.

The project is also under fire from a Muslim civil liberties group. The Council on American-Islamic Relations called for the network to meet with Muslims and the Arab-American community to talk about their issues with the project, the story reports.

“We want ABC to sit down and to meet with us and have a dialogue,” spokeswoman Yasmin Nouh told the publication. “[And] to recognize that the portrayal of [this story has] real consequences on Muslims and especially on Muslim youth, not only how others treat them, but in terms of how they see themselves.”

According to ABC Family’s description of the project, the main character must “find a way to return home while surviving life behind the veil.”

A representative for the network said in a statement, “We hope people will wait to judge this show on its actual merits once it is filmed. The writer is an incredible storyteller and we expect 'Alice' to be a nuanced and character-driven show.”

Some on Twitter took issue with the reference to living “behind the veil,” the piece says. Nouh noted, “The veil connotes and is equated to oppression, you are in an oppressive land with oppressive people and the veil is just a part of that.”

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Pay-TV Subscriptions Do Something They've Never Done Before

In a development that may have implications for the future of the pay-TV business, Bloomberg reports that the number of consumers who pay to access television through cable, satellite or fiber services saw its first-ever full-year decline in 2013.

The report suggests that the dip in subscriptions -- which was a small one -- may indicate that the pay-TV industry is “passing its prime."

“If the slide continues in the coming years, that means 2012 was the industry’s high point,” the story notes.

The number of pay-TV customers dropped by 251,000 to about 100 million, the article reports, citing data from research firm SNL Kagan.

“It’s not that viewers are watching less video. Online-streaming services from Netflix and Amazon.com continue to draw more users with shows like ‘House of Cards,’ charging fees of less than $10 a month. What’s changed is that fewer people are willing to shell out $40 a month or more for the wider menu of cable channels,” the story points out.

The decline had been forecast by other firms, with IHS noting in August that it expected TV subscriptions to decline to 100.8 million from 100.9 million in 2013.

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Video: Stunning Moment on 'Wheel of Fortune'

A contestant on Wednesday's installment of the syndicated game show "Wheel of Fortune" pulled off an astounding puzzle solution with what appeared to be a wild stab in the dark.

Here's the clip:

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Actress With 10 Emmy Nominations -- and Two Emmy Wins -- Joins ABC Comedy

An actress who has become an institution on TV dramas is set to help launch a new ABC comedy. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Sharon Gless, known for her roles in “Cagney & Lacey," "Judging Amy” and “Burn Notice,” will co-star in the pilot “Saint Francis."

Gless won Emmys in 1986 and 1987 for her portrayal of Det. Sgt. Christine Cagney on the CBS cop show "Cagney & Lacey," a role for which she received six of her 10 Emmy nominations. She was also nominated twice for the CBS drama series "The Trials of Rosie O'Neill," and received nods for "Burn Notice" and "Nip/Tuck."

The new comedy is about a gruff Long Island police officer and family man, played by Michael Imperioli, who has a tough time with the realities of modern life when his 29-year-old sister gets pregnant outside of marriage. Gless will play the mother, a tough Irish-Catholic woman who also isn’t pleased about her daughter’s pregnancy.

Gless is coming off a long run on the USA spy drama "Burn Notice," which wrapped last year after seven seasons, the report notes.

sharon gless.jpgSharon Gless

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Everest Stunt Rounds Up NBC News Veteran, Weather Channel Regular for Live Special

An NBC News personality and a Weather Channel regular have signed on for a live special that will cover a historic Mount Everest stunt.

The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that NBC's Willie Geist will host "Everest Jump Live," a two-hour program set for Discovery Channel. The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore will be the chief meteorologist for the event.

The program will focus on climber Joby Ogwyn, who will try to become the first person to fly off the summit of Mount Everest in a wing suit.

Chris Jacobs and Kyle Martino will be providing live updates, the report notes.

"For 'Everest Jump Live,' Geist and Cantore will be based at a studio in New York designed specifically for the event, which Discovery said will incorporate the latest interactive technology and high-tech equipment," THR reports. "Jacobs and Martino will present live coverage from Everest."

Geist has been a part of this sort of program before. He "also gave the play-by-play account of Nik Wallenda's tightrope walk over the Grand Canyon during Discovery's live broadcast of the event last year," the report notes.

The event is set for May, when it will be televised live on the Discovery Channel in 224 countries and territories, the report notes.

willie geist 2.pngWillie Geist

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Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin Reunite for Netflix Comedy Series

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, who starred in the hit 1980 film “Nine to Five,” will reunite in Netflix’s next original series, a comedy called “Grace and Frankie,” reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

Netflix has given a 13-episode order to the half-hour comedy, which was created by Marta Kauffman of “Friends” and Howard J. Morris of “Sullivan & Son,” the story notes.

Fonda and Tomlin will portray longtime enemies who find their lives in upheaval after their husbands announce they are in love with each other. “Eventually, to their surprise, they find they have each other,” the story notes.

“Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are among the funniest and most formidable actresses ever and it’s an incredible privilege to give them the opportunity to run riot on Netflix,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix chief content officer.

Netflix has been building out its original series slate, with five new series now on tap to debut. They include the dramas “Sense8” and “Marco Polo,” as well as the last season of “The Killing,” the piece adds.

Fonda recently earned an Emmy nomination for HBO’s “The Newsroom,” on which she had a recurring role. Tomlin recently won an Emmy for her voice work on the HBO documentary “An Apology to Elephants,” the story notes.

lily tomlin.jpgLily Tomlin

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Sony's PlayStation Takes the Plunge Into Original Programming

Sony’s PlayStation is joining the ranks of digital platforms adding original content for their customers, with the console planning a show called “Powers,” Mashable reports.

The TV series will adapt a graphic novel series that follows detectives solving crimes committed by people with superpowers, the story notes.

“Sony Pictures Television will put together 10 episodes of the show for PlayStation, which has been pressing hard to transform its console -- already a top conduit for digital content-creating juggernaut Netflix -- into a one-stop entertainment shop,” the piece reports.

The console already shows millions of movies and TV shows each month to its users, with the service counting 150 million accounts, the story notes. The project comes after Microsoft’s Xbox Live platform started working on a “Halo” show from Steven Spielberg.

The piece adds, “‘Powers’ should come to life in fully realized form; the property has been around for a while, including as a pilot at FX. No production start date or cast has been set yet.”

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'Game of Thrones: The Movie?' -- Here's the Latest

George R. R. Martin, the writer whose books are the basis of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” series, says a movie to wrap up the series is under discussion, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"It all depends on how long the main series runs," Martin said. “Do we run for seven years? Do we run for eight? Do we run for 10? The books get bigger and bigger (in scope). It might need a feature to tie things up, something with a feature budget, like $100 million for two hours. Those dragons get real big, you know."

Another possibility for a big-screen “Game of Thrones”-related movie would be to focus on “Tales of Dunk and Egg,” three prequel novellas set in Westeros 90 years before the events of “Game of Thrones,” the story notes.

The report adds: "Warner Bros. would be the natural fit for a studio partner. Warners released the two films based on the long-running HBO series 'Sex and the City' and is behind the upcoming big-screen adaptation of 'Entourage.' The studio also knows how to market a dragon tale, with its 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' having earned nearly $1 billion worldwide."

George R. R. Martin.pngGeorge R. R. Martin

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Clouds Moving In Over Sam Champion's New Show, as Ratings Slip Even Lower on Second Day

The forecast isn’t looking sunny for "Good Morning America" alum Sam Champion’s new show “AMHQ” on the Weather Channel, with its ratings dropping even further after its soft premiere, reports TheWrap.com.

Champion’s Tuesday episode averaged just 186,000 total viewers, or a 10% drop from Monday’s debut and a 21% decline from the previous four-week average for the 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. time period, the story notes.

Ratings in the key news demo of viewers 25-54 were also down on the second day. The show averaged 59,000 viewers in the demo, down 8% from Monday and off 20% from the four-week average.

“Overall, Tuesday's episode ranked 81st among all cable programs -- behind Hallmark's ‘Golden Girls,’ HLN's ‘Morning Express With Robin Meade’ and Nick Cartoons,” the story notes.

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Oscar-Nominated Actor Joins Netflix Series

An actor who earned an Oscar nomination for “The Right Stuff” will co-star in a new Netflix series. Deadline.com reports that Sam Shepard has been cast in the untitled thriller.

The 13-episode series is about a family of four siblings whose secrets and past hurts are exposed when one of their brothers returns. Shepard will play the family’s patriarch, joining Oscar winner Sissy Spacek, who was previously cast as his wife.

The siblings will be portrayed by Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn, Linda Cardellini and Norbert Leo Butz. The project is written and executive produced by “Damages” creator Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman and Glenn Kessler, the story notes.

Spacek won an Academy Award in 1981 for "Coal Miner's Daughter."

sam shepard.pngSam Shepard

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NBC Renews Three Series for Next Season

NBC has renewed three series for next season. All three shows are produced by NBC's sibling studio, Universal TV.

The shows renewed are "Chicago Fire," its spinoff "Chicago P.D." and "Grimm," reports our good friend Nellie Andreeva on Deadline.

Andreeva writes: "The renewal of Dick Wolf’s 'Chicago Fire' for a third season and 'Chicago P.D.' for a second opens the door to further expanding the franchise with a long-rumored Chicago-set medical drama, though that likely won’t happen for next season.

"The story adds: " 'Grimm' was the first new series launched by NBC’s new regime to get traction, adding additional significance to its renewal for a fourth season. The series was created by David Greenwalt & Jim Kouf and Stephen Carpenter. Sean Hayes, Todd Milliner and Norberto Barba serve as executive producers along with Greenwalt and Kouf."

The story notes that the three series that have been renewed "join hot freshman 'The Blacklist,' which already was picked up for a second season. Also set to return next season are veteran comedy 'Parks and Recreation' (Season 7), flagship reality series 'The Voice' (Cycle 7), and 'Celebrity Apprentice' (Cycle 14), which skipped a season."

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Billy Crystal to Star in New Cable Series

Billy Crystal will star in a new sitcom, reports our good friend Bill Carter in The New York Times.

Writes Carter: "In one more affirmation of the growing appeal of series television, Billy Crystal, who last starred in a sitcom in “Soap” in the late 1970s, will headline a new comedy series on the cable channel FX, the network announced [Wednesday, March 19, 2014.]

"Mr. Crystal will be paired with the Broadway star Josh Gad ('The Book of Mormon') in a series called 'The Comedians,' about a mismatched pair of comics, one a tradition-based veteran, the other an on-the-edge newcomer, who are brought together to star in a late-night sketch comedy.

"The idea for the show springs from a comedy that originated in Sweden."

Carter reports that FX plans 13 episodes of the series for its first season.

Below: Billy Crystal on the left, Josh Gad on the right

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TV's No. 1 Show Among Adults 18-49 Finally Makes Its Broadcast TV Debut This Fall (It's Been on Cable Thus Far)

Here's the release. Please note -- previous seasons of "The Walking Dead" are currently also available on the streaming services of both Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.

AMC’S THE WALKING DEAD TO MAKE EXCLUSIVE
BROADCAST TELEVISION DEBUT

TELEVISION’S #1 SHOW AMONG ADULTS 18-49
PREMIERES THIS FALL ON MyNetworkTV

The Walking Dead.jpgNEW YORK, NY – March 19, 2014 – AMC, Twentieth Television and the FOX Television Stations announce the addition of ‘The Walking Dead’ to the MyNetworkTV programming lineup. Scheduled to make its exclusive broadcast television debut this fall, the announcement was made by Frank Cicha, SVP of Programming of the FOX Television Stations, Greg Meidel, president of 20th Television, and Charlie Collier, president of AMC.

Two episodes from previously aired seasons of ‘The Walking Dead’ will be presented on a designated weeknight on MyNetworkTV.

“This agreement extends the reach of the number one show on television among adults 18-49 by giving viewers primetime access to ‘The Walking Dead’ with back-to-back episodes on broadcast television one night a week," said Charlie Collier, AMC president. ‘The Walking Dead’ has grown in each of its first four seasons on AMC, and we look forward to exposing this compelling story and these unforgettable characters to new fans on MyNetworkTV.”

Among adults 18-49, ‘The Walking Dead’ is currently the number one series on television, across all cable and broadcast networks, and the number one cable drama series of all time.

Greg Meidel of Twentieth Television added: “We are fired up that MyNetworkTV will be the exclusive broadcast home to ‘The Walking Dead’. As we enter the 2014 upfronts, the blockbuster program, which breaks the mold of conventional television, further enhances 20th Television’s media sales slate of hit comedies, dramas and first-run programming.”

With programming on Monday through Friday, MyNetworkTV reaches over 97% of the country; airing on the FOX Television Stations in each of the top 3 markets including New York (WWOR My9), Los Angeles (KCOP My13), and Chicago (WPWR My50). This season, MyNetworkTV ranks #5 in Households, #8 in A18-49 and #7 in 25-54 among all broadcast and cable networks.

Frank Cicha of the FOX Television Stations added: “It's not often you get to add the hottest show on the planet to your lineup. We just did, and it's a tremendous get for our stations.”

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'Glee' Reaches a Milestone as Another Fox Series Sinks to an All-Time Ratings Low; NBC Celebrates a Tuesday Record

While one prime-time Fox series celebrated a milestone Tuesday night, another one sank to a historic low, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "Glee" marked its 100th episode with a ratings rebound, improving 22% to a 1.1 average rating after setting a series low last week. But "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" slipped to a series low of its own, also a 1.1, falling 8% from a week ago. Fox wound up in fourth place among the big four networks.

Winning the night was NBC, with "The Voice" continuing to set the pace. The singing competition matched last week's 3.5 average in 18-49 to easily place as the top show of the night on broadcast prime.

NBC announced that its win in viewers 18-49 among the big four broadcast nets was a network record 18th Tuesday win -- the most in-season Tuesday night wins for the network in People Meter history.

While NBC's "Chicago Fire" was flat with a 1.9 average in the 18-49 demo, both "About a Boy" and "Growing Up Fisher" saw improvements over last week: "Boy" rose 10% to a 2.2, while "Fisher" ticked up 6% to a 1.8.

Second-place CBS got solid results from its drama lineup, with "NCIS" delivering a 2.4 average in 18-49, down 4% from its most recent original installment; "NCIS: Los Angeles" rising 10% to a 2.3; and "Person of Interest" up 6% with a 1.8.

ABC's special "Marvel Studios: Assembling a Universe" managed only a 1.4 in adults 18-49, 33% below what "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." pulled in the time slot a week ago. "Mind Games" was also down, falling 13% to a 0.7 up against NBC's "Chicago Fire" and CBS's "Person of Interest" in the tough 10 p.m. slot.

ABC's comedies both saw improvement, with "The Goldbergs" ticking up 7% from last week to a 1.6 and "Trophy Wife" rising 11% to a 1.0.

For prime time overall, NBC's 2.5 average led the way in the 18-49 demo, followed by CBS (2.1 average), ABC (1.1), and Fox and Univision (both 1.0). CBS came through with a big win in total viewers, averaging 14.0 million to lead NBC (9.1 million), ABC (3.3 million), Univision (2.7 million) and Fox (2.4 million).

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An Asteroid as Wide as Rhode Island Will Blot Out One of the Sky's Brightest Stars Tonight -- and You Can Watch It Live Online

A rare celestial event is set to take place tonight, and the whole thing will be carried live on the Internet. Fox News reports that an asteroid the size of Rhode Island will temporarily blot out one of the brightest stars in the sky, and -- weather permitting -- the event will be available online for all to see.

"At around 2:05 a.m. EDT Thursday morning, a 45-mile-wide asteroid 163 Erigone will eclipse Regulus, as seen from a swath of North America, making the 22nd-brightest star in the sky disappear for a few seconds," the story reports. "This 'occultation' will be visible from the ground only to people in a narrow corridor in northeastern North America. However, the online Slooh Space Camera will offer live views of the eclipse during a show that begins at 1:45 a.m. EDT Thursday."

The program can be viewed at slooh.com, the report notes. A YouTube video, which can be seen below, is already ticking off the seconds until we achieve occultation.

Bob Berman, an astronomer with Slooh, let his excitement be known in a statement: "In my entire 40 years as a professional astronomer, I've never witnessed a star as bright as Regulus -- Leo's 'alpha' luminary -- being blocked as seen along a populated Earthly path in an easily accessible region."

Berman added: "That's what will happen early Thursday morning. It’s hard to describe the excitement of this event. Regulus will vanish, and the constellation Leo will temporarily look totally different for as much as 14 seconds, as seen from New York City and about a 100-mile wide path extending to that city’s north and west."

Here's the countdown video:

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ABC Unveils Finale Dates for 2013-14 Season -- Two-Hour Finale Set for 'Once Upon a Time'

ABC has taken the wraps off its schedule of finales to wrap up the 2013-14 television season. Included in the lineup is a two-hour finale for "Once Upon a Time," set for Sunday, May 11.

Here's the full schedule (all times ET):

Fri, April 11, 2014

8:31-9 p.m. -- “The Neighbors”

Thu, April 17, 2014

10-11 p.m. -- “Scandal”

Fri, April 25, 2014

8-8:31 p.m. -- “Last Man Standing”

Sun, May 4, 2014

9-10:01 p.m. -- “Resurrection”

Sun, May 11, 2014

8-10:01 p.m. -- “Once Upon a Time” (2 hour)
10:01-11 p.m. -- “Revenge”

Mon, May 12, 2014

10:01-11 p.m. -- “Castle”

Tue, May 13, 2014

8-9:01 p.m. -- “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
9:01-9:31 p.m. -- “The Goldbergs”
9:31-10 p.m. -- “Trophy Wife”

Wed, May 14, 2014

8:30-9 p.m. -- “Suburgatory”
10-11 p.m. -- “Nashville”

Thu, May 15, 2014

9-10 p.m. -- “Grey’s Anatomy”

Fri, May 16, 2014

8-9 p.m. -- “Shark Tank”

Sun, May 18, 2014

7-8 p.m. -- “America’s Funniest Home Videos”

Tue, May 20, 2014

9-11 p.m. -- “Dancing with the Stars”

Wed, May 21, 2014

8-9 p.m. -- “The Middle” (1 hour)
9-9:31 p.m. -- “Modern Family”
9:31-10 p.m. -- “Mixology”

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OWN Cancels One of Its First Shows

OWN is canceling a show that was part of the network’s inaugural programming slate. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel will pull the plug on the documentary series “Our America with Lisa Ling” after its fifth season.

The network’s original programming lineup had a goal of providing unscripted series that empowered women, the piece notes. The show was the only program not hosted by OWN’s Oprah Winfrey that managed to draw a healthy audience.

“Our America” also helped the network by drawing a positive critical response. The network found a second ratings success in 2011, when it aired “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s,” which also marked the network’s turn to scripted shows and a deal with Tyler Perry.

The fifth and final season of “Our America” will premiere May 29 and will run for 10 episodes. Its topics will include gun violence in Philadelphia and HIV in the African-American community.

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Longtime Chief at Struggling L.A. Station Steps Down

A Los Angeles television station that has had some struggles lately is losing the executive who has run the operation for almost two decades. KCET-TV said Al Jerome, who has run the public-television outlet for 18 years, is retiring, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker.

Jerome, 71, said he will help find a new chief executive for station, which left the PBS fold in 2010 during a dispute over fees. The station has struggled since then, the piece notes. Jerome declined an interview with the newspaper about his retirement.

The story adds, “A financial audit released earlier this year raised ‘substantial doubt’ about KCET's ability to stay in business long-term. The organization lost $12.5 million during the fiscal year that ended June 30, the audit said.”

al jerome-kcet.jpgAl Jerome

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Why CBS Is Holding Off on a High-Profile Comedy Series

CBS has decided to push back the schedule for an upcoming comedy series, and the reason is a familiar one during this busy pilot season. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the network has pushed the adaptation of the French-Canadian series “Taxi-22” to next season after running into trouble casting the lead role.

“CBS has a high bar for the project and is committed to finding the right cast. The network will continue to pursue the comedy for the 2015-16 development season,” the piece reports.

The project was shepherded early on by the late James Gandolfini, who was attached to executive produce the project and who had first developed it at HBO. CBS bought the project two weeks before the actor died.

The project, about a grumpy and politically incorrect cab driver in New York City, is written by Tad Quill of “Scrubs,” who was hired after Gandolfini’s death.

The project is the third pilot to be pushed out of this pilot season, following NBC”s “The Money Pit” and “Fifth Wheel,” the story notes.

“With more than 90 broadcast pilots competing alongside projects from cable and streaming services including Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, the depleted talent pool has made casting that much more challenging this season, prompting the uptick in pushed projects,” the piece reports.

tad quill.jpgTad Quill

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New Show Starring 'GMA' Alum Sam Champion Bombs

"Good Morning America" veteran Sam Champion’s new program on Weather Channel is facing some headwinds, given its debut bombed with an average of just 207,000 viewers, The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

“That number would not be a huge bummer for Weather -- it isn't exactly a ratings force -- were it not for the fact that ‘AMHQ’ actually fell 12 percent from the four-week time slot average,” the story reports. “And that's following weeks of an aggressive marketing campaign from the network, which is actively trying to broaden its brand (and its audience).”

The ratings means that “AMHQ” ranked 80th in all of cable during its time period, below even a Lifetime rerun of “Frasier,” the story notes.

The show was also down in its demo, with the 25-54 ratings declining 14% from recent programming in the time period, the piece adds.

“Champion made a very high-profile exit from the top morning show, ABC's ‘Good Morning America,’ back in December. His old stomping ground, an admittedly unfair comparison, outperformed him by 3,800 percent on Monday,” the story reports.

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Personality Who Was Once Cable's Top Reality Star Set to Return

A television personality who has been off the radar lately but was once one of the top players in reality television is set to return to the channel where she became a star. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Kate Gosselin, the onetime star of TLC’s “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” will return to the cable network for a one-hour special.

“Gosselin has been largely off the radar during that time. The 38-year-old was once cable's biggest draw on reality TV,” the story reports. “A whopping 9.8 million viewers tuned in to the 2009 episode that chronicled the dissolution of her marriage to then-husband (and co-star) Jon Gosselin. A rebranding (‘Kate Plus 8’) and a ratings decline eventually led to the show being canceled in 2011.”

The new project, which is untitled, will be the first Gosselin-related show to debut on TLC in two years, the story notes. The project will feature a “catch-up” about the reality star and her eight kids.

TLC, meanwhile, has struggled with its own ratings issues, recording a 20% ratings decline in prime time in 2013, the piece adds.

kate gosselin.pngKate Gosselin

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Veteran NBC Exec Dead at 76

The longtime TV executive who ran NBC’s business affairs during its “Must-See TV” years has died. Variety reports that John Agoglia died March 14 after battling cancer for three years. He was 76.

“Agoglia, who also served as president of NBC Enterprises, was known for his tough negotiating style. He was a key player in everything from signing Jay Leno to host ‘The Tonight Show’ to high-stakes jockeying with representatives for the stars of ‘Seinfeld’ and Paramount over the renewal of ‘Cheers,’” the story reports.

The article adds: “Agoglia relished his image as a brass-knuckled negotiator, drawing a hard line with talent and outside studios. He also maintained a sense of humor about the bruised feelings that often followed such skirmishes.”

Agoglia worked at CBS for 16 years before joining NBC in 1980. He created a media consulting firm after he left the network in 1998.

He also served on the board of KCET, the public TV station, and was appointed president of the board of LAX Airports Commission.

john-agoglia.jpgJohn Agoglia

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Drew Carey and Craig Ferguson to Trade Places

Craig Ferguson and Drew Carey are trading places. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the two TV hosts will swap jobs in honor of April Fools’ Day.

“Hey, Craig Ferguson and I, for April Fools', are switching jobs. He's going to host ‘The Price Is Right’ and I'm gonna host ‘The Late Late Show,’” Carey said. The two men announced their plan on Monday’s episode of “The Late Late Show,” the story says.

Ferguson added, “Now this is for April Fools', so don't tell anyone!"

Carey will interview Carl Reiner and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Connie Schultz on the April 1 “Late Late Show” episode, while Joan Jett will perform. Ferguson’s stint on “The Price Is Right” means he will be only the fourth person to host the game show, following Dennis James, Bob Barker and Carey.

Ferguson will bring his sidekicks -- Geoff Peterson and the pantomime horse Secretariat -- with him on “The Price Is Right.”

Carey and Ferguson go back, with Ferguson playing Carey's boss on the ABC sitcom "The Drew Carey Show" from 1996-2004.

craig ferguson and drew carey.jpgCraig Ferguson and Drew Carey

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Charlie Kaufman Comedy Adds Two Academy Award Nominees

Two Oscar nominees have joined the cast of FX’s comedy pilot from Charlie Kaufman. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the show has cast Catherine Keener of “Being John Malkovich” and Sally Hawkins of “Blue Jasmine."

The project, called “How and Why,” is about a man who understands intellectual issues such as nuclear fusion but can’t grasp the realities of life, the story notes. John Hawkes, another Oscar nominee, has already been cast as Goodman Hesselman, the host of a show called “How & Why,” which is featured in the comedy.

Hesselman loses his job, then moves to another town to start a similar, albeit smaller, show. Michael Cera of “Arrested Development” is set to play his new boss.

Hawkins is slated to portray Goodman’s wife, while Keener’s character is named Alice, although not much has been revealed about the role, the story notes.

Kaufman, who wrote “Being John Malkovich,” is slated to write and direct the pilot, marking his return to half-hour comedy after Fox’s 1990s show “Ned & Stacey.”

Keener has two Oscar nominations, for "Being John Malkovich" and "Capote," while Hawkins was nominated for "Blue Jasmine." Hawkes received a nomination for "Winter's Bone."

Kaufman won an Oscar for his screenplay for "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and was nominated for "Being John Malkovich" and "Adaptation."

catherine-keener 2.jpgCatherine Keener

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Two People Killed When TV News Helicopter Crashes Near Seattle's Space Needle

Two people were killed and one badly injured when a KOMO-TV news helicopter crashed near Seattle’s Space Needle, reports KOMONews.com.

The crash killed KOMO News photographer Bill Strothman and pilot Gary Pfitzner, the story reports.

The helicopter hit two cars and a pickup truck. While people in two vehicles escaped unharmed, the driver of a third vehicle suffered burns on up to 20% of his body, according to the report. The victim, Richard Newman, 38, was in serious condition and in intensive care.

“The helicopter exploded into a fireball on impact. Huge flames and thick plumes of black smoke poured from the blazing wreckage, about 50 yards from the base of the Space Needle,” the story notes.

The report adds: “Fuel gushing from the wreckage caught fire and burned for a block from the crash scene. Secondary explosions continued for several minutes afterward.”

“Strothman worked for many years at KOMO News and was well-known to many of the employees,” the piece reports. “After retiring from KOMO, he worked as a free-lancer and also as an employee of Helicopters Inc., the company that operates the chopper leased by both KOMO and KING-TV.”

News anchor Dan Lewis said of Strothman, "He really knew how his pictures could tell a million words. He put so much into getting just the right shots, the right video, putting it in the right place in the story."

The pilot, who worked for Helicopters Inc., was also well-known to KOMO employees, the story adds.

The helicopter reportedly crashed as it was taking off from a helipad on a building across from the Space Needle, with a National Transportation Safety Board official saying that it rotated in a counter-clockwise direction and then plummeted to the ground.

An investigation is under way, the report adds.

bill strothman.jpgBill Strothman

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With a Second Project in the Pipeline, One Planet Is Suddenly Hot in Reality TV

What's the hottest planet in reality television? Deadline.com reports that a second reality TV project is in the works about a mission to Mars, which is becoming a hot commodity in the genre.

Following Lionsgate TV’s announcement of plans to chronicle Mars One’s mission to the red planet, Thinkfactory Media is working on a new project with the Mars Society, a non-profit that’s focused on exploration and settlement of the planet.

The latest project, “Mission to Mars,” will document the Mars Society’s simulated Mars project in the Canadian Arctic, the piece notes. The production company is in talks with two unnamed outlets after taking the project out to networks last week.

“According to Thinkfactory EVP Adam Reed, their project is further along, with a six-person habitat already built on Canada’s Devon Island in the Arctic, and it has NASA’s cooperation,” the story notes. “After a lengthy location search, with its harsh climate the deserted island, which features a 14-mile crater, was deemed the closest environment to Mars that can be found on Earth.”

Six scientists, picked from an initial application pool of 200, will move into the 1,000-square-foot complex.

“It has everything six scientists would need for a year,” Reed said, including a science lab and engineering space.

The six scientists will wear space suits when they leave the habitat, and although they’ll be followed by TV cameras, will only have communication with mission control, the story says.

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Viacom and YouTube Settle Copyright Lawsuit -- What It Means for User-Uploaded Content

After a seven-year dispute, Viacom has settled its $1 billion copyright lawsuit against Google’s YouTube, reports Re/code.

Terms weren’t disclosed, although the report notes that no money traded hands.

Viacom originally filed the lawsuit in 2007, claiming that YouTube knew about videos that had been swiped from its cable-television networks. But YouTube scored a victory in 2010, when a judge ruled in favor of the Google unit, ReCode notes. After two appeals, Viacom and YouTube were slated to appear in court again later this month, the story adds.

“Seven years ago, the copyright lawsuit looked like it would have major implications for the way the Web worked. But by now the suit had become an asterisk, because in many ways the core issues have been settled by both the courts and the market,” the report notes.

The story adds: “In very broad strokes, the practical consensus is that digital services like YouTube -- and Twitter, and Facebook, and everyone else that distributes lots of content uploaded by its users -- are not responsible for copyright violations if they don’t explicitly encourage them, and if they let copyright holders take down stuff they don’t want up there.”

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'Law & Order' Veteran Will Write 'Killing Jesus'

The upcoming "Killing Jesus" miniseries will be written and executive produced by a "Law & Order" veteran. Deadline.com reports that National Geographic has tapped Walon Green for the project, based on the book by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard.

The project is the third installment in Nat Geo’s “Killing” franchise, which has included “Killing Lincoln” and “Killing Kennedy.” Focused on the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion, the show will be a four-hour miniseries, the piece adds.

“Killing Jesus” is slated to start production this summer with the goal of premiering globally in 2015. With the success of History’s “The Bible” miniseries, religion-themed event programming is extremely popular at the moment, the report notes.

walon green.jpgWalon Green

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Gwyneth Paltrow's Hubby -- Who Happens to Front the Popular Rock Band Coldplay -- Will Join NBC's 'The Voice' (But Not as a Judge)

Chris Martin, who fronts the popular British rock band Coldplay -- and who also happens to be married to Gwyneth Paltrow -- will be joining NBC's hit "The Voice."

"Chris Martin, the frontman for Coldplay, will be an adviser to all four of the coaches' teams as NBC's hit singing competition enters a second phase of the Battles Round starting March 31, 2014," reports USA Today, adding that "Martin will appear on that show and again on April 1 and 7."

In other words, Martin will be a mentor.

NBC made the announcement about Martin joining the show using social media. As USA Today notes, " 'The Voice' relied on social media, not the TV show itself, to announce Martin's involvement, revealing footage of the singer via the popular Snapchat app after the East Coast broadcast of Tuesday's show ended. Fans were alerted in advance to an upcoming announcement via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram."

USA Today quotes reality show guru Mark Burnett, who is an executive producer of "The Voice": "Snapchat is very important and very new. ... This is the perfect way for 'The Voice' to be making an announcement in a very unique way via the place where young Americans are."

Chris Martin, Coldplay.pngChris Martin

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Goodyear Rolls Out Its First New Blimp in 45 Years -- and Wants You to Name It. Here's a Cool Video Showing The Blimp Being Made.

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company has announced that, for the first time in 45 years, it's got a new blimp. "The new airship is larger, faster, and more maneuverable" than past models, the company said.

The announcement added, " 'The completion of the new blimp marks the beginning of a new era for our airship program and reflects Goodyear's commitment to remaining at the forefront of aerial broadcast coverage and support,' said Paul Fitzhenry, senior vice president, global communications. 'This airship will offer enhanced aerial television coverage capabilities, increased flight range to cover more events and an unparalleled passenger experience.'"

new googyear blimp.pngIn conjunction with the unveiling, Goodyear announced the launch of a nationwide contest to name the new blimp. Says the announcement: "Every Goodyear blimp needs a name and, once again, the company is inviting the public to participate in a Goodyear 'Name the Blimp' contest. Entrants over 18 years of age in the United States and Washington, DC, can submit a name for the new blimp by visiting www.Goodyear.com/NametheBlimp or www.Facebook.com/GoodyearBlimp. One name will be chosen from the entries and the contest winner will join the Goodyear Blimp for a day of airship activities. In addition, nine runner-up winners will receive a set of Goodyear tires." The contest closes next month, on Friday, April 4.

"Full contest rules, format, and entry form can be found at www.Goodyear.com/NametheBlimp," the announcement notes.

Goodyear has two other blimps, the Spirit of Innovation and the Spirit of America. A third blimp, the Spirit of Goodyear, was retired from service last month. To read all about the Goodyear blimps, you can go to the Goodyear blimp website by clicking here.

Here's a cool short video Goodyear made that shows the new blimp being made that was shot using time-lapse photography. We found it on YouTube:

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Rookie Network Drama Already Being Prepped for Syndication

A first-season drama that has only been on-air six months is already being made ready for syndication.

"Sony Pictures TV‘s breakout drama 'The Blacklist' [seen on NBC] is looking to join the elite handful of series that have been sold into off-network syndication in their first season on the air," writes our friend Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

The story adds: "The studio is putting together a pitch to cable networks and broadcast stations and has begun running ads in preparation for taking the NBC series out to buyers, which has not started yet. 'The Blacklist' is a successful new broadcast procedural drama, which has been a rare breed during the past five years as the networks have gravitated toward more serialized fare. It would also be a rare non-franchise drama to sell in syndication in its freshman year."

Andreeva adds: " 'The Blacklist' is NBC’s flagship scripted series and already has been renewed for a second season. The drama, which airs behind 'The Voice' on Mondays, has been averaging a 4.3 rating in adults 18-49 and 14.6 million total viewers in most current ratings, only one-tenth behind ABC’s 'Grey’s Anatomy' in the race for the No.1 broadcast drama in [the 18-49 demo]."

James Spader in The Blacklist.pngJames Spader in "The Blacklist"

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Infomercial Pitchman Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison

A pitchman who was a familiar presence on TV through his late-night infomercials has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. The Associated Press reports that Kevin Trudeau was sentenced for cheating consumers through his commercials for his book “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About."

“As he imposed the sentence prosecutors had requested, U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman portrayed the 50-year-old Trudeau as a habitual fraudster going back to his early adulthood," the AP reports. "So brazen was Trudeau, the judge said, he once even used his own mother's Social Security number in a scheme.”

Trudeau apologized and said he had changed through prayer, meditation and reading self-help books while incarcerated at Chicago’s Metropolitan Correctional Center, the story adds.

"I have truly had a significant reawakening," Trudeau said. "If I ever do an infomercial again ... I promise: No embellishments, no puffery, no lies."

Trudeau sold $39 million worth of books, and the judge ruled that he cheated customers out of more than $37 million. The weight-loss book tells people to eat a 500-calorie-a-day diet and use hormone treatments, although his informercials called the book a “a simple, no-hunger … diet-free method of losing weight,” which the judge said misrepresented its contents.

kevin trudeau.pngKevin Trudeau

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Amazon Ready to Ship Video-Streaming Device in April

Amazon.com will start shipping its video-streaming device early next month, selling the product both through its website and via retailers such as Best Buy, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The device will carry apps now available on Roku and Apple set-top boxes, while running a version of Android software. Popular apps on Roku include Netflix, Hulu and the music-streaming service Pandora.

“Pricing remains unclear, though the people familiar with the company's plans said the device likely would come with incentives available to members of Amazon's Prime streaming video and shipping program. Last week Amazon said it is increasing the price of Prime by $20, to $99 annually, in part because of the rising cost of acquiring video,” the story notes.

The report adds: “The device will thrust Amazon into an intensely competitive market in set-top boxes, which include the Roku device, Apple TV and Google's Chromecast, a top-seller on Amazon's own website. Roku's streaming devices sell for as little as $50, while the Chromecast is $35.”

Streaming video is increasingly an important new service for Amazon, which is competing with Netflix, Hulu and others in the arena.

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NFL Raises Its Price -- by a Lot -- for Middle-Finger Salute During Super Bowl

The National Football League is now asking hip-hop artist M.I.A. to pay an additional $15.1 million for giving the middle finger during her 2012 halftime performance at the Super Bowl, reports TheWrap.com.

“NFL is requesting the large sum -- in addition to the original $1.5 million that it is still seeking in damages -- based on the fact that advertisers paid that much per minute for ad placement during the big game that year,” the story reports.

M.I.A. and her team said the claim “lacks any basis in law, fact, or logic,” and accused NFL Enterprises LLC of intending “to bully and make an example of” the performer. Representatives for the NFL and M.I.A. didn’t immediately return requests for comment to TheWrap.

The hip-hop artist’s attorneys claim there’s precedence for similar behavior during a halftime show, the piece notes. “The filing cited Michael Jackson's 1993 halftime performance, ‘during which he repeatedly grabbed or fondled his genitalia,’ and Prince's in 2007, when he caressed the neck of ‘an erect oversized phallus’ (his guitar) for all to see,” the story reports.

m.i.a. at 2012 super bowl.pngM.I.A. performing during halftime of the 2012 Super Bowl

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Nick at Nite Pulling the Plug on Its First Original Scripted Comedy

Nick at Nite is calling it a wrap for its first original comedy series. Deadline.com reports that the channel will pull the plug on the Scott Baio vehicle “See Dad Run” after season three.

The comedy is currently filming its third season, and will wrap up in May. The program has five episodes still to air in its 20-episode second season, with the third season slated to bow later in 2014.

The show stars Baio as an actor who decides to become a stay-at-home dad so that his wife can focus on her career as a soap opera actress. With its cancellation, Nick at Nite has only one remaining original comedy series left, “Wendell & Vinnie,” the piece notes.

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Layoffs Under Way at Sony

Layoffs began today at Sony Pictures Entertainment. The Los Angeles Times' Company Town reports that the television and film studio appears to be making good on its vow last year to significantly cut overhead.

"The cuts, which began Monday and will continue this week, include employees at divisions throughout the studio, according to a source with knowledge of the matter," the Times reports. "The layoffs were felt at the studio's Culver City headquarters and at international offices. Among the divisions said to be deeply affected by the staff reductions is Sony Pictures Interactive, the studio's digital marketing arm."

In a statement, Sony Pictures spokesman Charles Sipkins said: "We are continuously evolving the business to make SPE more efficient and competitive."

The Times adds: "At an investors conference in November, Sony Pictures executives outlined $250 million in budget cuts that were already under way. The studio also hired consultancy Bain & Co. last year to identify $100 million or more in additional cuts.

"The layoffs that began Monday are part of this cost-cutting initiative, which was announced after Sony Pictures posted an operating loss of $181 million for the company's fiscal second quarter that ended Sept. 30."

The piece notes that the company had a number of high-profile feature films last year that performed poorly, although it has recently had both commercial and critical success with films including "Captain Phillips" and "American Hustle."

"This round of layoffs isn't the only recent one the studio has experienced," the report adds. "The Times reported in January that the studio had laid off an undisclosed number of people from its Sony Pictures Technologies group, including the unit's president, Chris Cookson."

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Second Week of ABC's New Sunday Night Drama Beats the Premiere of NBC's New Drama in Key Demo

While NBC's latest round of new programs dealt with ratings challenges Sunday night, ABC coasted to a pretty solid win. The Alphabet Network topped its broadcast rivals as its new Sunday night drama series "Resurrection" came in as the top broadcast show of the night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

NBC's new drama series "Crisis" premiered with a modest 1.6 average in adults 18-49, finishing a close second in the 10 p.m. hour behind ABC's "Revenge." NBC had an upbeat take on the premiere, noting in a press release: "The 6.5 million for “Crisis” in total viewers is NBC’s biggest overall audience in the slot, excluding nights featuring sports or the Golden Globes, since Jan. 6, 2013 (a special Sunday premiere for 'The Biggest Loser'). In 18-49, the 1.6 is NBC’s best rating in the slot excluding nights of sports and Golden Globes since Jan. 5 of this year."

The network also noted that the "Crisis" premiere "won the 10 p.m. ET slot [among NBC, ABC and CBS] in adults 25-54, men 18-49 and men 25-54. 'Crisis' built on its 18-49 lead-in by 14%, while rival dramas on ABC and CBS are flat or down versus their lead-ins."

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "Resurrection" fell 21% from its premiere a week ago in viewers 18-49, settling for a 3.0 average rating -- still easily the night's No. 1 broadcast show in the demo. ABC's "Once Upon a Time" also continued to show strength, delivering a 2.3, off 4% from a week ago.

The rest of ABC's lineup was also down: "America's Funniest Home Videos slipped 7% from its most recent original installment to a 1.4 average in 18-49, while "Revenge" ticked down 11% from a week ago to a 1.7.

The top show for second-place Fox was "Family Guy" with a 2.3 average in the 18-49 demo, up 5% from last week, while Fox's airing of the "Cosmos" science series ticked down 10% from last week's premiere to a 1.9. "The Simpsons" also had a 1.9, rising 19%, while "American Dad" fell 13% to a 1.3 and "Bob's Burgers" rose 22% to a 1.1.

CBS and NBC tied for third place overall, with NBC filling half of its prime time with a two-hour repeat of "The Voice" (1.4 average in 18-49). NBC's new 9 p.m. series "Believe" lost almost half of its premiere audience from a week ago, falling 48% to a 1.4.

CBS had mixed results for its Sunday prime, with "60 Minutes" drifting up 13% from a week earlier to a 1.7 in 18-49, "The Amazing Race" dipping 5% to a 1.8, "The Good Wife" equaling its 1.3 from last week and "The Mentalist" falling 19% to a 1.3.

For prime time overall, ABC's 2.1 average in viewers 18-49 was good enough to win the night, followed by Fox (1.7 average), CBS and NBC (both with 1.5 averages) and Univision (0.8). CBS came out on top in total viewers with 9.1 million, ahead of ABC (7.7 million), NBC (5.9 million), Fox (3.9 million) and Univision (2.3 million).

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Kanye West Sentenced for Battery

Rapper Kanye West was sentenced for battery after entering a plea in a case stemming from an incident last year at LAX, People magazine reports. West pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of battery, the story reports.

The case involved an alleged scuffle with a photographer at the airport.

The plea allows West to maintain his innocence for the sake of any potential civil lawsuit, but its effect is otherwise comparable to a guilty plea.

"West was sentenced to two years of probation, 24 anger management therapy sessions and 250 hours of community service," the story reports. "West entered the plea through his attorney and did not attend the court hearing Monday."

The report adds: "West was charged with misdemeanor counts of battery and grand theft after an altercation at LAX with photographer Daniel Ramos in July. Ramos claimed West punched him in an unprovoked attack and wrestled his camera to the ground during the scuffle."

kanye west.pngKanye West

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Actor From 'The Wire' Joins Matthew Perry Project

An actor known for his work on "The Wire" has joined an upcoming CBS comedy project. Deadline.com reports that Wendell Pierce has been cast in Matthew Perry's reboot of “The Odd Couple."

The new version of the TV classic, which will be co-written and executive produced by Perry, will feature Perry as the slobby Oscar Madison and Thomas Lennon as the ultra-neat Felix Unger.

Pierce will portray a friend of Oscar’s named Teddy, a neurotic policeman who attends a weekly game night at Oscar and Felix’s apartment.

wendell pierce.pngWendell Pierce

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Judd Apatow Laments the 'One That Got Away'

With the PaleyFest playing out this month in Hollywood, the spotlight has been shining on Judd Apatow, recipient of the event's second Icon Award. And Apatow has been talking -- especially about the one that got away: "Freaks and Geeks."

TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin filed a report looking back on Apatow's career, sizing up who turned out to honor him, and examining how he still uses that early NBC series -- and its cancellation after one short season -- as motivation for the rest of his career.

Please click here to read Hillary's in-depth report.

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Girlfriend of Mick Jagger Found Dead in Manhattan, Apparent Suicide. She Was a Celebrated Fashion Designer

The girlfriend of Mick Jagger -- who was also a celebrated fashion designer -- was found dead in her Manhattan apartment today, Monday, March 17, 2014, reports the New York Daily News.

The story reports: "The body of L’Wren Scott, 47, was found hanging from a scarf on a doorknob by her assistant at 200 11th Ave. around 10 a.m. [ET], sources said."

The article adds: "Scott texted her assistant at 8:30 a.m. and asked that she come over, police sources said. When she arrived, she let herself into the apartment with a key, found the body and called 911.

"Police did not suspect foul play, a source said, but the Medical Examiner’s Office will determine a cause of death. No suicide note was found.

"Jagger said via a spokesperson that he is 'completely shocked and devastated by the news' of her death. He and the Rolling Stones recently arrived in Perth, Australia, for the next leg of their world tour."

Mick Jagger and L'Wren Scott.jpgMick Jagger and L'Wren Scott


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Seinfeld Actor's 'Death' Is a Hoax

An actor known for his role on NBC's long-running comedy hit "Seinfeld" was the subject of a hoax report of his death. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that Wayne Knight, who played Newman on “Seinfeld,” took to Twitter to shoot down the report.

The hoax report said Knight had died in a traffic accident near the New York-Pennsylvania border.

“Some of you will be glad to hear this, others strangely disappointed … but I am alive and well!” Knight wrote. His message was a reference to the fact that people sometimes confuse the actor with the unsavory characters he has played, the story notes. Newman was Jerry Seinfeld’s nemesis on the long-running NBC comedy.

Knight wasn’t the only victim of a recent fake death report, notes The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed. “Family Ties” actor Brian Bonsall also was reported dead, in what the publication calls a “fake Us Weekly article.” The report said the actor, who played the youngest child in the 1980s comedy, was found dead in a hotel room.

Bonsall wrote on Twitter, “Well apparently i'm dead, lol but I'll have you know I'm doing well and enjoying a cup of coffee at home.”

It was unclear whether the two fake reports were from the same source, the piece adds.

wayne knight.pngWayne Knight

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L.A. Earthquake Could Be a 'Foreshock' for a Larger Quake

A seismologist briefing reporters this morning after a magnitude 4.4 earthquake struck the Los Angeles area said the shaker could be a "foreshock" with a larger quake waiting in the wings, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“Always the possibility that it’s a foreshock,” said Robert Graves, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, speaking at a news conference. Graves added that about 5% of earthquakes have an equal or larger shake that follows them, noting that it should be expected -- if it is going to happen -- within the next several hours, the Times reports.

The 6:25 a.m. (PT) earthquake that hit near the Encino section of Los Angeles was "the most significant shake in Southern California since a 5.5 earthquake hit Chino Hills in 2008," the story reports, citing Graves.

"Graves said there have been at least six aftershocks since the 6:25 a.m. earthquake," the report notes. "The largest so far has been a magnitude 2.7 earthquake that struck five miles northwest of Westwood."

Graves added: “Certainly we would expect more aftershocks.”

The Times adds: "Seismologists at the USGS have not yet determined exactly what fault this earthquake was on and Graves also said, 'We’re continuing to analyze the data, but at this point, this seems to be what I would call a rather typical earthquake.'”

The piece notes that today's main earthquake struck in "the northern edge of the Santa Monica Mountains area, a general area responsible for the uplifting of the range over many thousands of years."

Said Caltech seismologist Egill Hauksson: “The location is somewhat surprising. It’s within the Santa Monica Mountains. We have not seen seismicity in it in recent times. It has been dormant for quite some time.”

Graves noted that people reportedly felt today's main quake as far as 50 miles from the epicenter.

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Video: L.A. News Anchors React On-Air to Earthquake

Local Tribune station KTLA-TV in Los Angeles was carrying a live newscast at the moment a magnitude 4.4 earthquake hit Los Angeles this morning, with the news anchors' reaction caught live and soon posted on YouTube.

Here's the clip:

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News Pushes CNN to the Top of the Cable News Ratings

When news happens, people are still turning to CNN. The venerable cable news channel has seen its ratings surge as it provides almost nonstop coverage of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, TVNewser reports.

CNN has beaten its rivals in the key news demographic of viewers 25-54 in recent days, even though Fox News Channel has remained the most watched cable news network in terms of total viewers, Variety reports.

CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” beat Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” in the 25-54 demographic for two nights, the piece notes.

"On Thursday, Cooper attracted an average of 454,000 viewers in the demo compared to O’Reilly’s 429,000, according to Nielsen," Variety reports. "On Wednesday, Cooper won an average of 431,000 viewers in the demo, Nielsen said, compared to O’Reilly’s 386,000."

“Erin Burnett Outfront,” for its part, drew more 25-54 viewers than Fox News’ Greta van Susteren, Variety said.

But the Variety piece notes: “The question will be whether CNN’s results are being boosted for the short term by breaking-news coverage of the recent disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, or if CNN’s recent focus on prime-time documentaries is gaining traction.”

Here are the hour-by-hour numbers for Thursday prime time (March 13, 2014), from TVNewser:

News demo (adults 25-54):

7 p.m. hour:

CNN: 366,000
FNC: 290,000
MSNBC: 143,000

8 p.m. hour:

CNN: 454,000
FNC: 429,000
MSNBC: 139,000

9 p.m. hour:

CNN: 452,000
FNC: 421,000
MSNBC: 240,000

Total viewers:

7 p.m. hour:

FNC: 1.635M
CNN: 910,000
MSNBC: 714,000

8 p.m. hour:

FNC: 2.692M
CNN: 1.121M
MSNBC: 611,000

9 p.m. hour:

FNC: 2.583M
CNN: 1.162M
MSNBC: 873,000

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Captain of the Starship Enterprise Gets a Reality Show

The most famous captain of the Starship Enterprise -- of the various actors who have played the role in permutations of the "Star Trek" franchise -- has landed a reality show.

Actor William Shatner, known for his role as Captain Kirk on the original 1960s TV series “Star Trek," is slated to star in a DIY reality series about fixing up his house, reports Brian Steinberg at Variety.

“Set viewers on ‘stunned,’” Steinberg writes.

Called “The Shatner Project,” the show will debut on Scripps’ DIY channel in October for five half-hour episodes. Shatner and his wife, Elizabeth, will star in a show with a classic narrative arc, he told the publication.

“This is like a dramatic show with a revelation at the end,” he said. “There’s conflict and there’s tension, and characters evolve.”

Shatner said that he’s apprehensive about the renovation project, given that his background is in action roles. Sgt. Hooker on “T.J. Hooker” “could handle a gun,” the actor said. “But I don’t know about a hammer.”

The show is part of a shift at Scripps-owned networks, which had previously focused on building up their own stars by hiring chefs and experts with small, local followings, the story notes. But now DIY and other Scripps networks are considering stars who already have a following.

“We are really interested in following people as they renovate their home,” said Kathleen Finch, president of HGTV, DIY and Great American Country. “If they are people that America is generally curious about, we are even more interested.”

william shatner as captain kirk.jpgWilliam Shatner as Captain Kirk on "Star Trek"

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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Complains About Alleged Snub by TV Star Backstage at 'Kimmel'

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is complaining that an actor who was appearing on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” the same night Ford and his brother were on snubbed them backstage. The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that Ford made the complaint about two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey.

Spacey, who stars in the acclaimed Netflix series "House of Cards," apparently didn’t want to mingle or have photos taken with people backstage, the story notes. Ford’s brother Doug was especially offended, according to what the brothers said on their YouTube show, “Ford Nation.”

"In my opinion, he's an arrogant SOB," Doug said. "Any actor that makes a living off the people that watch his shows ... . He wouldn't take a picture with anyone? We were told you can't take a picture and you can't speak to him. Who does this character think he is? Does he think he's God? That he's up there? That no common folk can take a picture with him?"

Rob Ford, for his part, said he wouldn’t recognize the actor “if I ran him over.”

Thumbnail image for rob ford 3.pngRob Ford

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Star of Hit 1960s TV Series Mines Internet Gold From a Largely Ignored Demo

An actress known for her role on a 1960s comedy series has become what The New York Times calls “an unlikely innovator on Internet TV.” Marlo Thomas, the star of the 1960s series “That Girl" and the creator of the “Free to Be … You and Me” franchise, has emerged as a player in the digital world.

Thomas hosts a half-hour talk show called “Mondays with Marlo” that has built a strong audience since its debut three years ago, the piece notes. Its success comes from what the story calls a focus on a “largely ignored demographic”: women older than 35.

The show, which is broadcast on AOL and draws half a million views per episode, will feature its 100th guest today, with Chelsea Clinton visiting the program. The show allows viewers to submit questions on specific topics geared to its guests.

Previous guests have included Rosie O’Donnell, who answered questions on cardiovascular health (she had a heart attack in 2012), and TV host Kelly Ripa, who talked about balancing life and work.

Thomas said the idea for the show came from her work for the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. At public events, female audience members would ask questions about personal issues, sparking a search for a website that might provide the answers. Thomas said she couldn’t find a place focusing on women over 35.

The show is sponsored by General Mills, which suggests some guests, such as Dr. Sharon Mulvagh, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, the piece adds.

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Oscar-Nominated Director Working on 'Hunchback of Notre Dame' TV Series

A feature film director with two Academy Award nominations under his belt is working on a new TV series adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

Deadline.com reports that Roland Joffe, who received Oscar nominations for best director for "The Killing Fields" in 1985 and "The Mission" in 1987, is writing "Ugly." Joffe is working with FremantleMedia International on the planned TV series.

The new production will look at what it means to be human, despite a person’s appearance. Set in early 17th century France, the project reflects another push into scripted drama by FremantleMedia, the piece notes. FremantleMedia North America earlier this year bought the rights to “American Gods,” a novel by Neil Gaiman.

Joffe is also slated to direct A+E Studios’ eight-hour miniseries “Texas Rising.”

roland joffe.pngRoland Joffe

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Anthony LaPaglia Joins CBS Pilot

An untitled CBS pilot about a terrorist attack in Washington, D.C., has cast Anthony LaPaglia, the star of the network’s hit “Without a Trace,” reports TheWrap.com.

LaPaglia will play a high-school football coach, who is also a retired CIA operative. Coach Holden Weller is called back to action to investigate the terrorist event, the piece notes.

The project is from Nikki Toscano of “Revenge” and Kerry Ehrin of “Bates Motel,” and its cast also includes Shanley Caswell and Aimee Garcia, the story adds.

anthony lapaglia.pngAnthony LaPaglia

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States' Funding for Public Television Increases, in a Reversal Following the Recession

States are providing more funding for public television, which suffered after a sharp decline in support following the recession, Elizabeth Jensen reports in The New York Times.

While funding is still down from the 2008 fiscal year, state support rose by $10 million for 2014, Jensen writes, citing statistics collected by the National Educational Telecommunications Association.

Thirty-five states set aside $191.5 million in 2014 for public television. The low point for state support of public TV was in 2012, when $178 million was recorded, the story adds.

Patrick Butler, chief executive of the Association of Public Television Stations, told the publication that he’s optimistic about future improvements to state support. Public TV stations are increasingly pushing their importance to education, through digital classroom resources as well as through programs such as “Sesame Street,” Jensen notes.

“We are low-cost, high-quality providers of these services in ways we weren’t before,” Butler said.

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Magnitude 4.4 Earthquake Hits Los Angeles

Many Los Angelenos were shaken awake by an earthquake this morning, March 17, 2014.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake was a magnitude 4.4 that struck at 6:25 a.m. Pacific Daylight time, and was centered near where Mullholland Dr. intersects Sepulveda Blvd. That's also near the "top" of the popular 405 freeway, right before it goes into Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley if one is traveling north.

Initially the earthquake was reported to be of magnitude 4.7.

Various news reports said there were no initial reports of injuries or damage.

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Disney Greenlights Its Largest U.K. Production Ever

The Walt Disney Co. has greenlighted what it’s calling its largest U.K. production ever, a four-part mystery adventure called “Evermoor,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The TV movie will debut on the Disney Channel, and in more than 160 countries, this fall. It will be the first live-action movie produced in the U.K. that airs on the Disney Channel, the piece notes.

The drama, which will include moments of comedy, will be told in four half-hour segments. It focuses on an American teen named Tara Bailey who moves to an isolated village called Evermoor. While her family unpacks at Evermoor Manor, she and her British step-siblings stumble into mystery and intrigue, the story notes.

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NBC's Greenblatt Counting on 'Bigger, Louder and More Event-Like' Shows

NBC Entertainment chief Bob Greenblatt says his mantra for developing new shows has been “bigger, louder and more event-like.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that the mantra has led the network to push into new territory, taking risks with shows like “Smash” (which the article notes didn’t work out) and achieving some success through programs such as “Grimm” and “The Blacklist.”

“The first couple of years there was a certain amount of rooting around until we saw what worked," Greenblatt told the publication.

The network is experimenting with different formats, such as a 12-episode miniseries called “A.D.,” which is billed as a sequel to History’s successful miniseries “The Bible.” Greenblatt said he's also working on live broadcasts, such as the forthcoming “Peter Pan,” which will follow the success of last year’s “The Sound of Music Live!”

Given three to five years to fix NBC’s rating slump, Greenblatt is finding some success with the strategy, the story says.

"Prime time is a lot like building a house brick by brick," NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke told the publication. "A lot of people said you don't have enough bricks when you're in fourth place to fix one night a year. But now I tell people NBC has the most upside of any business we have."

bob greenblatt.pngBob Greenblatt

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With Jimmy Fallon's Ratings On Fire, David Letterman Is Reportedly Trying to Get a Killer Guest -- Jay Leno

"Jay Leno to the rescue ... of David Letterman?

"In a bid to keep up with lovable new 'The Tonight Show' host Jimmy Fallon, David Letterman is working diligently to pull off the ultimate coup: getting the lantern-jawed comic to appear on his late night show," the New York Daily News' Confidenti@l reports in an exclusive story.

The story continues, " 'There’s been quiet talk behind the scenes for months that Dave will have Jay Leno on as a guest,' one insider said. '(Letterman’s) producers waited until Fallon debuted (on "Tonight"), give him space out of respect, but are now ready to pull out all the stops.'"

According to our good friend Wayne Friedman at MediaPost, "For the week ending March 7, NBC’s 'Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon' averaged a Nielsen 4.5 million viewers -- with CBS’s 'Late Show with David Letterman' (2.76 million) and ABC’s 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' (2.74 million) well behind.

"For Fallon, this is down 17% from the week before, and even lower from his strong initial weeks. His season-to-date average since Feb. 17, when he replaced Jay Leno, now stands at 6.1 million viewers; 'Late Show' is at 2.7 million; and 'Kimmel' has 2.5 million."

Friedman also notes: "Fallon's debut episode in mid-February pulled in a massive 11.3 million viewers when he took over for Leno. In the key 18-49 viewership category, Fallon remains easily on top with a 1.34 rating/6 share. ABC’s 'Kimmel' is at 0.73/3 and CBS’s 'Late Show' has 0.56/3."

The Daily News story adds, "Representatives for Leno and Letterman did not return calls for comment Thursday. But sources say Leno isn’t looking to hurt his successor, Fallon -- rather, just trying to stay relevant."

Once close friends, for years now Leno and Letterman have had an on-again, off-again feud. Recently Leno said he and Letterman are talking occasionally.

leno and letterman.pngJay Leno visits David Letterman's "Late Night" on NBC in 1992

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One of Johnny Carson's Favorite 'Tonight Show' Guests, Comic David Brenner, Dies at 78. He Guest-Hosted for Carson 75 Times

"David Brenner, 78, the gangly, toothy-grinned 'Tonight Show' favorite whose brand of observational comedy became a staple for other standups, died Saturday [March 15, 2014]," reports the Associated Press.

The story continues, "Brenner, who had been fighting cancer, died peacefully at his home in New York City with his family at his side, according to Jeff Abraham, his friend and publicist."

The article adds, Brenner's "150-plus appearances as guest and substitute host [when Johnny Carson hosted the 'Tonight Show'] turned the former documentary filmmaker into a hot comedian, one who was ubiquitous on other talk shows and game shows."

The New York Times obituary of Brenner says, "In an interview in December on 'CBS This Morning,' Mr. Brenner recalled how Mr. Carson once explained why he was frequently asked to perform stand-up on the show. [Carson] said, 'Because I like to sit back, smoke a cigarette and laugh for six minutes.'"

The Times obituary adds, Brenner's "family said in a statement on Saturday, 'In David’s final request he asked that one hundred dollars in small bills be placed in his left sock ‘just in case tipping is recommended where I’m going.'"

Here's an undated appearance of Brenner on "The Tonight Show" that we found on YouTube. Most likely from the 1970s or 1980s:

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Oprah Sells Harpo Studios in Chicago for More Than $30 Million. For Many Years It Was the Home of 'The Oprah Winfrey Show'

"Oprah Winfrey, who put an obscure stretch of [Chicago's] Near West Side on the map when she moved her television show there in 1990, is set to sell Harpo Studios for around $32 million to a Chicago developer..." reports Crains Chicago Business. [Crains Chicago Business, like TVWeek, is owned by Crain Communications.]

The article continues, "After a bidding war that enticed investors from as far away as China, Ms. Winfrey's Harpo Inc. has agreed to sell the four-building campus to Sterling Bay Cos.

"For Ms. Winfrey, selling off the last of her commercial real estate represents a final step out of Chicago, which she left almost three years ago to form Oprah Winfrey Network in Los Angeles.

“ 'We have entered into a purchasing agreement with Sterling Bay for the four-building Harpo Studios campus in Chicago's West Loop,' a spokeswoman for Harpo, which has more than 200 employees in Chicago, confirms in a statement. 'We expect the transaction to be closed in 30 days. The property will be leased back to Harpo for two years and the studio will continue to produce programming for OWN.'”

For many years the Harpo complex in Chicago was where the high-rated talk program "The Oprah Winfrey Show" was taped. Harpo is Oprah spelled backwards.

The story adds, 'While Ms. Winfrey cuts her last remaining business ties to Chicago, she still has a 9,625-square-foot condominium in Water Tower Place listed for sale at $7.75 million. Sterling Bay, on the other hand, is gobbling up real estate in the longtime meatpacking district, which in recent years has become a destination for foodies and is bracing for a wave of office, hotel, retail and apartment development.

"[Sterling's] most notable deal in the area has been a commitment from Mountain View, Calif.-based Google Inc. to lease more than a quarter-million square feet of office space in the 10-story former Fulton Market Cold Storage building on West Fulton Market, about two blocks north of the Harpo campus."

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City of L.A. Sues Time Warner Cable for Millions

They say you can't fight City Hall, but what about when City Hall lands the first blow? The City of Los Angeles has done just that, filing a nearly $10 million lawsuit against Time Warner Cable, Deadline.com reports.

The suit accuses TWC of refusing to pay fees it has allegedly owed the city since 2011 -- and at the same time taking in billions of dollars in revenue, the piece reports.

In a press conference today, L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer said ”Time Warner pocketed the money from its subscribers and didn’t turn it over to the City of L.A. That money would have funded 100 police officers and miles of sidewalk repair."

The report adds: "The city is demanding Time Warner Cable pay up on $9,697,896 owed -- $2,512,490 in 2008 and 2009 franchise and Public, Educational, Government use (PEG) fees, plus $7,185,406 in 2010 and 2011 franchise and PEG fees. Feuer added that the suit, filed this morning in federal court, has nothing to do with flailing carriage negotiations for TWC’s newly launched Dodgers cable network and how millions in LA will not be able to watch the team unless they are TWC subscribers."

Time Warner Cable released a response to the lawsuit, saying: “As a major job creator, tax contributor and service provider in the City of Los Angeles, Time Warner Cable is an active and responsible corporate citizen in the City of Los Angeles. We are disappointed the City has chosen to bring this action, which we strongly believe is without merit. It will now be resolved through the legal process.”

The story notes: "The news comes as TWC navigates the regulatory waters associated with its proposed mega-merger with Comcast, which is acquiring it for $42.5 billion. That deal was announced last month."

mike feuer.pngMike Feuer

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Angelina Jolie to Undergo Surgery

Actress Angelina Jolie, who has already had a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery to head off possible cancer, said she will have another surgery to decrease her chances of getting the disease, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

Jolie underwent surgery in May, reportedly after learning she had an 87% chance of getting cancer due to having the BRCA1 gene.

She told Entertainment Weekly at the time: "There's still another surgery to have, which I haven't yet. I'll get advice from all these wonderful people who I've been talking to, to get through that next stage."

Now she's working on directing a movie, "Unbroken." Said Jolie: "I was very fortunate to have great doctors and very, very fortunate to have a good recovery and have a project like 'Unbroken' to have something to be really focused on, to be getting healthy for, and to be able to just get right back to work."

The report adds: "The 38-year-old mother of six lost her own mother to ovarian cancer and her aunt to breast cancer. She went public with her experience in a New York Times Op-Ed."

In that piece, Jolie wrote: "Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex."

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TNT Summer Lineup Boasts 10 Original Series -- the Channel Says It's a Cable Record (Here's the Full Schedule)

TNT is calling it a record for basic cable: a summer slate that features 10 original series, TheWrap.com reports. The lineup includes the new Steven Bochco series “Murder in the First,” set to premiere June 9.

"In addition to returning series 'Rizzoli & Isles,' 'Dallas' and 'Franklin & Bash,' the network's summer slate will include the new crime drama “Murder in the First,” from executive producer Steven Bochco ('NYPD Blue,' 'Cop Rock'). The series will focus on one intense, complicated case across an entire season," the story reports.

The season three premiere of "Major Crimes," set for June 9 at 9 p.m., kicks off the summer slate.

Said Michael Wright, president, head of programming, for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies: “This summer TNT is continuing to expand and energize its lineup with both returning audience favorites and new series that speak to the future direction of our brand promise: If you love drama that thrills, turn to TNT. We're excited to offer our audience a variety of programming -- action-adventure, crime-drama, mystery and suspense -- all delivering on our promise to take viewers on a thrilling ride and leave them satisfied at the end.”

Here's TNT's lineup of summer premieres:

“Major Crimes” Season 3 premiere: Monday, June 9, at 9 p.m.

“Murder in the First” series premiere: Monday, June 9, at 10 p.m.

“Rizzoli & Isles” Season 5 premiere: Tuesday, June 17, at 9 p.m.

“Perception” Season 3 premiere: Tuesday, June 17, at 10 p.m.

“Cold Justice” Season 2.1 premiere: Friday, June 20, at 8 p.m.

“The Last Ship” series premiere: Sunday, June 22, at 9 p.m.

“Falling Skies” Season 4 premiere: Sunday, June 22, at 10 p.m.

“Dallas” Season 3.1 premiere: Monday, Aug. 18, at 9 p.m.

“Legends” Series premiere: Wednesday, Aug. 20, at 9 p.m.

“Franklin & Bash” Season 4 premiere: Wednesday, Aug. 20, at 10 p.m.

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Syfy Orders Event Series About Secret Space Mission

Syfy has ordered an event series set in 1963 that focuses on a secret space mission. EW.com’s Inside TV reports that the cable channel ordered the six-hour series “Ascension."

The series is about a mission to send hundreds of women, men and children on a 100-year-long space voyage to colonize a new world.

“Passengers aboard the spaceship begin to question the true nature of their mission after the mysterious murder of a young woman takes place nearly 50 years into their voyage, as they being to approach the point of no return,” the story notes.

“Ascension” will debut in November and air through December.

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Former CIA Operative Says Malaysian Plane Mystery May Be the Real-Life Acting Out of a Hollywood-Type Scenario: That the Long-Range Wide-Body Jetliner Has Been Deliberately Stolen to Be Used as a Weapon Later

A former CIA operative painted a scary scenario during a local newscast Thursday on Los Angeles' ABC owned-and-operated TV station, KABC.

Here's a transcript of part of the segment as reported by KABC Eyewitness News reporter Elex Michaelson.

(In this part of the report Robert Baer, a former CIA operative, is talking about the disappearence, last Saturday, March 8, 2014, of a Malaysia Airlines 777 jet.)

Robert Baer: It’s clear now that it was some sort of act of terrorism, either the crew or a passanger."

Elex Michaelson: Newport Beach resident Robert Baer is a former CIA operative who inspired George Clooney’s Oscar-winning role in 'Syriana.' Baer investigated the Lockerbie bombing and other air attacks for the agency, but says this latest flight is unprecedented.

Baer: I’ve never seen a plane, a passenger plane, stolen, ever.

Michaelson: Baer says what he calls a Hollywood-type scenario is possible.

Baer: Is it possible that they have landed this plane on a remote strip and immediately covered it up before daylight to block if from satellite coverage? Yeah, it’s possible.

Michaelson: Baer says under that scenario, the plane would be stored to use as a weapon at a later date. Now, he says that scenario isn’t likely, but it is now being considered by investigators.

Robert Baer.jpgFormer CIA Operative Robert Baer

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CBS Rolls to Thursday Win as 'Big Bang Theory' Dominates

Even on a night when most of its lineup was down, CBS rolled to a comfortable win in the ratings Thursday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "The Big Bang Theory" came in as the top show on broadcast prime -- by a lot -- even as it saw a significant drop from last week. "Theory's" 4.9 average rating in viewers 18-49 was down four-tenths of a point from a week ago, but the closest any other program could come was a 2.7 for ABC's "Scandal."

"Theory" also delivered 17.26 million total viewers, with only CBS's "The Millers" (11.1 million) and "Two and a Half Men" (10.04 million) also reaching double figures in the millions column.

"The Millers" was off three-tenths from a week ago in the 18-49 demo with a 2.6 average rating, while "Men" held steady with a 2.6. CBS's "The Crazy Ones" inched up one-tenth to a 1.8 after scoring a series low last week, while "Elementary" slipped one-tenth to a 1.7.

The report notes that CBS numbers may be subject to more than the usual adjustments due to pre-emptions and delays related to college basketball.

Fox came in second, as a new season of "Hell's Kitchen" premiered with a 1.9 average in 18-49 -- two-tenths of a point below last year's season opener. "American Idol" matched its number from a week ago, a 2.2.

The best demo number for third-place ABC was that 2.7 average for "Scandal" in adults 18-49, which was a season low -- down one-tenth from a week ago. "Grey's Anatomy" equaled its series low with a 2.3, falling three-tenths, and "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland" dipped one-tenth to a 0.8.

Fourth-place NBC didn't have much to cheer about, with "Community" equaling its series low from last week, a 1.0 average in the 18-49 demo; "Hollywood Game Night" also equaling its series low, a 1.0, down one-tenth; and "Parks and Recreation" dipping two-tenths to a 1.1. "Parenthood" held steady with a 1.2.

For prime time overall, CBS won the 18-49 demo with a 2.5 average rating, ahead of Fox (2.1 average), ABC (1.9), NBC (1.1) and Univision (1.0). CBS also won total viewers, averaging 10.6 million to lead Fox (7.0 million), ABC (6.1 million), NBC (3.2 million) and Univision (2.6 million).

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Familiar Faces Line Up for a Shot at Piers Morgan's Soon-to-Be-Vacated CNN Slot

CNN plans to try out several familiar faces in Piers Morgan’s time slot for a few weeks following his last show March 28, Lisa de Moraes reports on Deadline.com.

CNN Worldwide chief Jeff Zucker will test Jake Tapper, Bill Weir, Don Lemon and Michael Smerconish, the story reports.

“We will actually see Weir fill in for Morgan in the time slot first, next week, but it will be just that -- he’s filling in on Morgan’s show while Morgan takes a previously scheduled vacation, and [Morgan] will return for one final week after that. Morgan and Zucker continue to talk about a future role for him at the network," de Moraes write, citing a source with knowledge of the situation.

It’s unlikely that CNN will replace Morgan with a similar format, the report adds.

“Smerconish, Tapper and Lemon will continue to do the type of programs they’re already doing at CNN. And, the list may not be complete -- Zucker may try out more talent in the slot, the source said,” de Moraes writes.

Smerconish joined CNN recently, with the network announcing last month that it would add the former MSNBC contributor to its Saturday morning lineup. Lemon has been at CNN since 2006, while Tapper joined CNN in early 2013. Weir joined CNN in 2013 as its chief innovation correspondent after serving as a co-anchor on ABC's “Nightline.”

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OMG, You're Not Going to Believe This One: Target's Security Software Warned the Retail Giant That Its Systems Were Being Hacked Last Fall, Yet Target Did Nothing to Stop the Attack. Here's What Happened. It's Our Non-TV Story of the Day

Retail giant Target's own security system actually warned the company that it was being hacked during the Christmas holiday season last year, yet the company did nothing to stop the attack, reports a team of four reporters -- Michael Riley, Ben Elgin, Dune Lawrence and Carol Matlack -- for Bloomberg Businessweek.

In a radio interview later on NPR, reporter Riley explained that Target's malware detection system is incredibly sophisticated: "[It] was initially funded by the CIA. It essentially sets up a series of virtual computers. Anything that's coming into Target's network, in terms of data, goes through these virtual computers, which are configured exactly like Target's own computers. Essentially, what it does [is] it tricks the hackers into believing that they are in Target's networks. It also has this nice trick where it can advance the clock of a computer so when malware comes into a network it can actually see what happens to the malware over a period of days, weeks or even years, in a split second. Once that starts to happen it sends out an alert that says, 'Hey, there's a piece of hacking malware in your system, you should go fix it.' That part of the function worked."

As explained in the Businessweek article itself, "For some reason, [IT employees at Target's Minneapolis headquarters] didn’t react to the sirens. Bloomberg Businessweek spoke to more than 10 former Target employees familiar with the company’s data security operation, as well as eight people with specific knowledge of the hack and its aftermath, including former employees, security researchers, and law enforcement officials. The story they tell is of an alert system, installed to protect the bond between retailer and customer, that worked beautifully. But then, Target stood by as 40 million credit card numbers -- and 70 million addresses, phone numbers, and other pieces of personal information -- gushed out of its mainframes."

The piece later adds, "In testimony before Congress, Target has said that it was only after the U.S. Department of Justice notified the retailer about the breach in mid-December that company investigators went back to figure out what happened. What it hasn’t publicly revealed: Poring over computer logs, Target found alerts from Nov. 30 and more from Dec. 2, when hackers installed yet another version of the malware. Not only should those alarms have been impossible to miss, they went off early enough that the hackers hadn’t begun transmitting the stolen card data out of Target’s network. Had the company’s security team responded when it was supposed to, the theft that has since engulfed Target, touched as many as one in three American consumers, and led to an international manhunt for the hackers never would have happened at all."

The story also says: "The breach could have been stopped without human intervention. The system has an option to automatically delete malware as it’s detected. But according to two people who audited [the system's] performance after the breach, Target’s security team turned that function off. Edward Kiledjian, chief information security officer for Bombardier Aerospace, an aircraft maker that has used [a like system] for more than a year, says that’s not unusual. 'Typically, as a security team, you want to have that last decision point of "what do I do," ' he says. But, he warns, that puts pressure on a team to quickly find and neutralize the infected computers."

When Businessweek asked Target how all of this could have happened, the retailer responded by saying it is still investigating the incident.

To read more details about how Target's systems were hacked, we urge you to click on our link above to the Businessweek story.

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Long-Running Late-Night Show Expands Into Prime Time

A program that has become an institution on late-night broadcast TV is expanding into prime time. Variety reports that the long-running ABC news program “Nightline” will receive a prime-time run on Saturday nights starting this week with a one-hour program called “Nightline Prime."

The addition means that ABC will join NBC and CBS in airing a news division program on Saturday nights, the story notes.

“Nightline Prime” will give viewers the sense of being in the middle of the stories that are being reported, by giving journalists small cameras to tape the stories they’re covering, the story reports.

“In one episode, journalists will ride shotgun with a group of motorcyclists as they attempt to shut down traffic in the heart of one American city in a high-speed game of cat-and-mouse with police," the article reports. "In another, they venture into the barrios of Latin America to witness a dangerous underground trade in extreme beauty where young women in off-the-radar backroom clinics risk their lives for a new body."

The show will air at 9 p.m. Saturdays, going up against the second hour of NBC’s “Dateline Mystery.” CBS airs “48 Hours” at 10 p.m.

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Oklahoma Station Edits Out Evolution Section of 'Cosmos' -- Here's the Video

A Fox affiliate in Oklahoma removed the single mention of evolution in the “Cosmos” science documentary that aired Sunday, according to media reports. The Raw Story, which first reported on the incident, says the station, KOKH-TV in Oklahoma City, indicated that the deletion was the result of an editing error.

The eagerly anticipated reboot of Carl Sagan’s ground-breaking “Cosmos” series, which debuted Sunday, briefly described human evolution during the last 10 minutes of the show. Host Neil deGrasse Tyson hinted at the theory, pointing at footsteps and noting, "Three and a half million years ago, our ancestors -- yours and mine -- left these traces. We stood up and parted ways from them. Once we were standing on two feet, our eyes were no longer fixated on the ground. Now, we were free to look up and wonder.”

But that portion of the narration was deleted from the KOKH telecast. Instead, the station replaced it with “an awkwardly inserted commercial for the evening news,” the story reports.

Some have suggested that the edit was purposefully made, given that Oklahoma is culturally conservative, notes the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker. But the station issued an apology Wednesday on Twitter, saying the edit was caused by human error.

Here's a brief video clip showing the Oklahoma station's edit of the program:

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'Lost' Actor About to Be Found on a CBS Drama Series

One of the biggest stars of the ABC drama series "Lost" can soon be found on a drama on another network. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Jorge Garcia, who played lottery winner Hugo "Hurley" Reyes on "Lost," has a full-time engagement booked on CBS’s “Hawaii Five-0.”

Garcia will be a regular cast member this time around, reprising the role of conspiracy theorist Jerry Ortega, which he played previously in two guest appearances on "Five-0." The character is a former high school classmate of the show’s Detective Lt. Chin Ho Kelly, played by Daniel Dae Kim.

“Jorge very quickly made Jerry an unlikely and valuable part of the ‘Five-0 Ohana,’” executive producer Peter Lenkov told the publication. "We have many opportunities planned to put Jerry's unusual and infectious desire to put the bad guys to good use."

The THR report notes: "The move brings Garcia back to Hawaii, where ABC's 'Lost' filmed for six seasons. In 'Hawaii Five-0's' four-season run, the series has staged several 'Lost' reunions, featuring guest turns from Henry Ian Cusick, Tania Raymonde, Cynthia Watros, Terry O'Quinn and Sam Anderson."

jorge garcia 2.jpgJorge Garcia

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Matthew Perry's Remake of 'The Odd Couple' Casts Its Felix

The remake of “The Odd Couple” from CBS, which stars "Friends" alum Matthew Perry as the slob Oscar, has cast the neat-freak Felix, reports Deadline.com.

Rounding out the new odd couple will be “Reno 911!” co-creator and star Thomas Lennon, the story notes.

Perry is co-writing and executive producing the new take on the Neil Simon classic, which premiered as a Broadway play before becoming a 1968 movie and a 1970s television series that starred Jack Klugman as Oscar and Tony Randall as Felix.

Perry and Lennon co-starred together in the movie “17 Again,” while Lennon also had a recurring role on “Friends."

Lennon just ended a role on the canceled NBC comedy series “Sean Saves the World.”

thomas lennon.pngThomas Lennon

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Customers Sniping After Amazon Raises the Price of Its Prime Service

Amazon told its 25 million Prime customers that they’re in for a rate increase, with the online giant boosting the annual fee by 25% to $99, reports The New York Times.

The new price will take effect April 17. While the service includes free two-day shipping for customers, it also provides access to 40,000 movies and TV shows that are bundled into the Prime membership.

For some, that became an issue in the complaints, the story notes.

“Amazon is passing on the cost of video to a bunch of people addicted to buying online,” said Fiona Dias, chief strategy officer for retailing network ShopRunner. “Maybe it sticks in their craw that they’re now being asked to pay more for stuff they don’t want.”

In a discussion thread called “Who else won’t renew Amazon Prime at $99,” the video service was singled out as a problem by annoyed customers.

“I doubt I will be Amazon Prime renewing at the new $99 rate next January. I joined Prime for the shipping option, not for Kindle lending privileges, and not for streaming video,” one consumer wrote. “I’d consider remaining a Prime Member if Amazon allowed members to opt out of the Kindle library and streaming options in exchange for a lower price.”

Another user wrote, “Amazon claims it's the increased cost of gas and shipping, but it seems more like we're paying extra to subsidize college students and for streaming video that most Prime subscribers don't use or want.”

Still, investors cheered the price increase, keeping Amazon’s shares steady on a day when the markets were down, The Times notes.

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Report: The Most Expensive Cable Channels Aren't the Most Watched

During the past 15 years, the average cable bill has increased by 4.5% each year, and now reaches more than $90. But the most expensive channels, which are a big part of those rising bills, aren’t always the most watched, reports TheWrap.com, which cites data compiled by SNL Kagan.

ESPN, for instance, is the most expensive channel based on its subscriber fees, with the network receiving $5.54 per customer. That means the network gobbles up about 6% of basic cable bills. But ESPN was only the No. 3 network last year when it came to viewers, the story notes.

The most watched cable network was USA Network, which ranks as the sixth most expensive network. It collects only 71 cents per customer, on average.

The study found that the top 10 most-watched basic cable channels aren’t the most expensive according to subscriber fees. And four of the 10 most expensive networks -- the NFL Network, ESPN 2, Nickelodeon and CNN -- aren’t among the 10 most watched on cable.

The gap between the cost of ESPN and the price tag for the other channels is huge. With a monthly subscriber fee of $5.54, ESPN is more than four times as expensive as the No. 2 network, TNT, which comes in at $1.33, according to the report.

Rounding out the top 5: Disney ($1.15), NFL Network ($1.13) and Fox News ($.94). Of the five, only Disney and ESPN are among the top 5 most watched -- Disney at No. 2, behind USA, and ESPN at No. 3. Rounding out the 5 most watched: History at No. 4 and TNT at No. 5.

“The ESPN disparity can be explained in part by the hugely expensive professional sports contracts the network holds to broadcast games. But cable providers are afraid to play too much hardball with the sports networks, because they consider them too valuable,” the story notes.

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Showtime Orders First Pilot of 2014

Showtime has made its first pilot order of the year. The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that the pay-cable channel ordered the finance drama “Billions,” with the script co-written by New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin.

Sorkin will be joined by Brian Koppelman and David Levien in writing for the project, which is a fictional look at conflicts between some of the wealthiest hedge fund managers in the country and an aggressive U.S. attorney, the story notes.

“It's a world Sorkin knows rather well. At The New York Times, he founded the popular financial news blog DealBook, and he also wrote the bestseller ‘Too Big to Fail: How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System -- and Themselves,’ chronicling the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath. That book was adapted into a film by HBO starring Paul Giamatti and William Hurt, on which Sorkin was a co-producer. CNBC viewers will also recognize him as the co-host of ‘Squawk Box,’” the piece adds.

andrew ross sorkin.jpgAndrew Ross Sorkin

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Broadcasters Find an Ally in Their High-Stakes Battle Against Aereo

With the broadcast networks' case against Aereo in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court, the broadcasters have found an ally in U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr.

TheWrap.com reports that Verrilli has asked to be allowed to argue his view endorsing the broadcasters in their case against the streaming service, a move that bolsters the networks’ support form the Justice Department.

Verrilli had previously filed a friend of the court brief that provided support for the broadcasters, the story notes. The high court will hear oral arguments April 22.

The court hasn’t yet made a decision on Verrilli’s request.

“In originally siding with broadcasters including ABC, NBCU, CBS, and PBS who have claimed that Aereo is engaged in copyright violation, Verrilli said that Aereo transmission of broadcasters signals over the Web amounted to copyright infringement,” the piece notes.

Donald-Verrilli-Jr.jpgDonald B. Verrilli Jr.

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He Did the Voiceover on Countless TV Promos and Movie Trailers. You'll Recognize the Voice Instantly. Listen One More Time to the Dulcet Tones of Hal Douglas, Who Has Died at 89

"Chances are you don't recognize his face, but you definitely know his voice," writes Elizabeth Durand Streisand at Yahoo Movies.

Streisand continues: "It is the sound of Saturday matinees. Of action films. Heart-wrenching dramas. And slapstick comedies. The promise of another world."

The article adds: "The sad news arrived today that Hal Douglas, one of Hollywood's most prolific voiceover artists, died last Friday [March 7, 2014] at his home in Lottesville, Virginia. The 89-year-old legend, who continued to work steadily until just two years ago, succumbed to pancreatic cancer. He is survived by his wife, Ruth Francis Douglas; his daughter, Sarah; and two sons, Jeremy and Jon."

Robert Thompson, pop culture expert and media professor at Syracuse University, told Streisand, "Hal Douglas was one of those voices everyone has heard. His voice has probably penetrated the lives of more Americans more times than probably anyone. But he's totally anonymous. He sounds like what a movie voiceover is supposed to sound like because he's done so many of them. He is the rule. He's become the model."

Here's a YouTube video that contains a number of samples of Douglas' work:


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CBS Renews 18 Prime-Time Shows at Once

CBS today announced it is bringing back 18 prime-time series for next season. The renewals include nine dramas, five comedies, two reality shows and two news programs.

CBS said in its announcement: "The nine dramas picked up are: NCIS, television’s #1 drama/scripted program for the fifth consecutive year; NCIS: LOS ANGELES, the #2 drama for the fourth straight year; time-period winners PERSON OF INTEREST, CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION, HAWAII FIVE-0 and BLUE BLOODS; as well as CRIMINAL MINDS, ELEMENTARY and the acclaimed drama THE GOOD WIFE.

"The renewed comedies are 2 BROKE GIRLS, THE MILLERS, which is the #1 freshman comedy of the 2013-2014 season, MIKE & MOLLY, MOM and the long-running hit TWO AND A HALF MEN.

"In alternative programming, the Network announced pick-ups for its Emmy Award-winning reality series THE AMAZING RACE and UNDERCOVER BOSS.

"Finally, in news, CBS will return 60 MINUTES, television’s #1 news program for more than four decades, and 48 HOURS, Saturday’s #1 non-sports program."

The network previously announced two additional renewals, for "The Big Bang Theory" and "Survivor," bringing the total to 20 returning series for 2014-15.

Said Nina Tassler, Chairman of CBS Entertainment: “The best way to launch new shows in the fall and throughout the season is to surround them with a strong and stable lineup of successful series. The shows we’re picking up today cut across every night of the week and feature genre leaders, time-period winners and the most-watched shows on broadcast television.”

CBS has been averaging 10.84 million total viewers season-to-date, ranking as the most-watched network for the 11th time in 12 years, the release notes.

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Target Apologizes for 'Thigh Gap' Photoshop Error on Young Swimsuit Model -- Here's the Video

Target has apologized after being caught in a Photoshop error that indicated the retailer went too far in touching up an ad for a girl's bathing suit, ABC News reports.

"The model in the ad has a thigh gap, the gaping space between her legs and a worrying body trend among teenage girls. But the gap actually extends into her pelvis (and the bathing suit the ad aims to sell) in an apparent slip of the Photoshop eraser," the story reports.

The model is also missing parts of her ribcage and hip, the report notes.

Target spokesman Evan Miller told ABCNews.com: “It was an unfortunate error on our part and we apologize. We removed the image from the site and we’re working to get a new image up there.”

But the incident has drawn an outcry from critics accusing the retailer of promoting unrealistic body images, among other issues.

Here's a video report:

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Fox Pulls Off a Narrow Win Over CBS, But 'Survivor' Pulls Off a Feat It Has Never Achieved Before

Fox got just enough out of its sputtering "American Idol" to claim a win for prime time Wednesday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that Fox's two-hour "Idol" served up a 2.4 average rating in viewers 18-49, putting the network just ahead of CBS, which averaged a 2.3 for its three hours of prime time. That could change, as the report notes that CBS's numbers may be subject to more than the usual adjustments due to some pre-emptions and delays related to college basketball.

In preliminary results, CBS's "Survivor" delivered a 2.5 average in 18-49, rising one-tenth from a week ago, while "Criminal Minds" fell three-tenths to a 2.3 and "CSI" climbed three-tenths to a 2.0.

For "Survivor" it was the reality franchise's first win going head-to-head against "American Idol" in series history, Deadline.com reports. "Idol's" number in the 18-49 demo for the 8 p.m. hour, when the two shows were up against each other, was a 2.3.

Third-place ABC had the night's top show on broadcast, with "Modern Family" pulling a 3.3 average in the 18-49 demo, off one-tenth from a week earlier. The bad news for the Alphabet Network: a couple of series lows, with "Suburgatory" losing three-tenths to match its all-time low with a 1.4 average, while "Mixology" fell two-tenths to a series-low 1.5.

Elsewhere on ABC, "The Middle" equaled last week's number in adults 18-49, a 1.9, and "Nashville" slipped one-tenth to a 1.4.

NBC brought up the rear among the big four broadcast nets in the 18-49 demo, with "Revolution" holding steady to last week with a 1.3 average, "Law & Order: SVU" also holding steady, with a 1.6, and "Chicago PD" bouncing back slightly after recording a series low a week ago, ticking up one-tenth to a 1.6.

For prime time overall, Fox's 2.4 average was tops in viewers 18-49, followed by CBS (2.3 average), ABC (1.8), NBC (1.5) and Univision (1.0). CBS squeezed ahead in total viewer, averaging 10.19 million to Fox's 10.11 million, followed by ABC (5.9 million), NBC (5.6 million) and Univision (2.8 million).

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Two Dead and Almost Two Dozen Injured at SXSW Festival After Car Plows Into Crowd

An attempted traffic stop early today at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, ended in tragedy as two people were killed and almost two dozen others were injured, CNN reports.

Authorities said an intoxicated driver fleeing police drove his car into a crowd outside a nightclub.

"The driver, who now faces two counts of capital murder, Texas' highest offense, hit pedestrians, a moped, a taxi, a bicycle and a van, said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. Authorities will not release the driver's identity until he is formally charged," CNN reports. "The suspect also faces 23 counts of aggravated assault by vehicle, Acevedo said."

The two fatalities were identified as a Dutch man who was riding a bicycle and a local woman who was on a moped, according to Acevedo.

"MassiveMusic, a music agency with offices around the world, posted a statement on its website and Facebook page identifying the company's Amsterdam-based creative director, Steven Craenmehr, as a person killed Thursday in Austin," the story reports.

The company's Facebook post said: "During the 8 years that Steven worked for MassiveMusic, we got to know him as an unstoppable force, full of life, love and laughter. This is an irreplaceable loss for the MassiveMusic family, and we are grateful for the years we spent with him. Our thoughts are with Steven's family and friends."

Twenty-three people, most of them in their 20s, were reportedly admitted to area hospitals, some with multiple internal injuries.

"As of late Thursday morning, 15 of the 23 people hospitalized had been released, according to James Shamard, chief of staff for Austin-Travis County EMS," the story reports. "Two patients remain in 'very critical' condition, three are in serious condition and receiving treatment, while three others remain hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, he said."

The incident reportedly began just after midnight when an officer spotted someone driving the wrong way down a one-way street and tried to pull over the driver.

"A patrol officer attempted to stop the car near a crowded gas station, Acevedo said. The driver, the chief said, acted as if he was pulling over into the gas station, but he continued through the parking lot and exited, accelerating down the street," the story reports. "The officer attempting to pull him over couldn't follow him because the parking lot was so crowded, so he had to back out, Acevedo said. Another officer working barricade control had to jump out of the driver's way as he accelerated for about two blocks, striking pedestrians and vehicles, the chief said."

The driver was reportedly caught and subdued after a foot chase.

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FX Rolls Out Plans for Return of 'Louie' After the Show's Mastermind Delivers Something Extra

FX's acclaimed comedy series "Louie" is headed back to TV after a 19-month hiatus. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the Emmy-winning show from Louis C.K. is set to return Monday, May 5, at 10 p.m.

The channel announced that it will air back-to-back episodes of the series every Monday for seven consecutive weeks, through June 16. FX reportedly ordered 13 episodes for the season, the show's fourth, but C.K. delivered 14.

Said FX CEO John Landgraf: "Louis said he needed extra time between seasons three and four of his show because -- even though 'Louie' was the most critically acclaimed television comedy series in America -- he needed to make it even better. Based on the first three episodes we've seen, remarkably, he accomplished his goal."

C.K. told reporters in October: "I want season four to go somewhere new … I'm looking back to when I did the first season and the time I took to do the show and decide which directions to go in, and I want that back again. I want a little breathing room."

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A&E Pulls Show After Numbers Drop

A&E has pulled a show off the air after its viewership numbers plummeted. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel pulled the new drama series “Those Who Kill” and plans to give the show another chance by relaunching it later.

The series, which stars Chloe Sevigny, was pulled after two episodes. The show aired in the Monday 10 p.m. time slot, after “Bates Motel,” but held onto less than half of the lead-in from the “Psycho” prequel, the story notes.

The show’s first episode drew 1.4 million viewers, while the second episode dropped to 830,000 viewers. A&E will likely give the entire 10-episode season another shot at another time, the story adds.

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ABC Sues for $5 Million as Accusations Fly About 'Mega Soap Fraud'

“No soap opera lawsuit would be complete without a counterclaim,” The Hollywood Reporter’s Hollywood, Esq., notes, reporting that ABC has filed its own legal claims against Prospect Park Network. The network is claiming the producer failed to make licensing payments.

The lawsuit is a reaction to Prospect Park’s $95 million lawsuit that alleges ABC committed a “mega soap” fraud on “One Life to Live” and “All My Children,” the story notes.

Prospect Park, which licensed the shows from ABC two years ago, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this week, listing ABC as its top creditor. In the meantime, Prospect Park continues to pursue a lawsuit that claims ABC tried to sabotage its relaunch of the soaps by borrowing characters to kill them off or to create a “mega soap,” the story reports.

“According to ABC's cross-complaint filed in L.A. Superior Court ... Prospect Park made licensing payments for the months of April, May and June of 2013, but only for ‘All My Children’ the next two months and then nothing for either series thereafter,” the story says.

The report adds: "ABC says the series fee for the first season alone was $8.5 million. Over the term of the license agreement, the money payable to ABC from Prospect Park was expected to exceed $145 million plus profit participation and merchandise distribution fees.

"For now, ABC says it has suffered breach-of-contract damages of at least $5 million."

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How Disney Plans to Replace Anne Sweeney

With the planned departure of Disney/ABC Television Group President Anne Sweeney, Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger might look to two appointments to replace her, reports the New York Post.

Sweeney oversees the ABC Network, Disney’s cable channels and the station group. As previously reported, she announced she’s stepping down to become a TV director.

Iger may split her role in two, with one new appointee running cable and international, while the other handles the broadcast divisions, the story notes.

“Two internal candidates have hit the top of the rumor mill already -- Rebecca Campbell, president of ABC Owned Television Stations Group, is being eyed to run the cable and international portion of the business, and ABC News President Ben Sherwood would take on broadcast responsibilities for daytime and ABC entertainment,” the piece reports.

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Michael J. Fox Opens Up About His Struggling NBC Sitcom

Michael J. Fox, the star of NBC's low-rated freshman comedy series “The Michael J. Fox Show” -- which was pulled off the network schedule following the Olympics, but which NBC says is not canceled -- told The Hollywood Reporter that he doesn’t “feel angry” about the shows’ struggles.

“Was I disappointed by the ratings? It probably has to do with what I deal with on a day-to-day basis, but I don't process things that way. I don't feel bad. I don't feel angry. I don't feel like I need to point fingers about time slots and things like that,” Fox said.

The piece notes that the series debuted in September with a weak lead-in from NBC's "Sean Saves the World" and stiff competition from CBS's "Two and a Half Men."

"By January, NBC Entertainment Chair Bob Greenblatt acknowledged the show's ratings (less than a 1 in the 18-to-49 demographic) were 'not anywhere near' where he'd like them," the story reports. "Three weeks later, the comedy was pulled. The remaining seven episodes, including a guest spot from Fox's 'Back to the Future' co-star Christopher Lloyd, await a spring airdate."

Fox said he’s hopeful the show do well if it returns to a “more advantageous spot.”

“The hardest thing about doing something is getting started, and once you get started, it gets a life of its own, and you just ride it and see where it takes you,” he told THR. “We just have to see where this takes us. But I don't think this journey is finished. I think these episodes, if they're put in a more advantageous spot on the schedule, can attract an audience and keep it.”

Fox added: "'Family Ties' was nowhere until the third season."

The network has said new episodes of "The Michael J. Fox Show" will air beginning in April.

michael j fox-horizontal.jpgMichael J. Fox

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'Captain Video' Star Dead at 99

The actor who portrayed Captain Video on the early TV adventure series “Captain Video and his Video Rangers” has died. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Richard Coogan died Wednesday in Los Angeles. He was 99.

The show, which ran on the DuMont Television Network from 1949-55, was watched by both adults and children, and broadcast live five or six days a week.

“‘Captain Video and His Video Rangers’ started off from scratch, no advance notice or publicity. It caught on so rapidly that we caught up with Milton Berle’s rating, and he was Mr. Television!” Coogan said in a 2003 interview with the Archive of American Television.

Coogan quit in 1950, when he grew unhappy with the show’s small budget. He was replaced by Al Hodge, the story notes. “Captain Video” appeared in another TV show, in a 1955 episode of “The Honeymooners.” In one scene, Ed hogs a TV set he shares with Ralph so that he can watch his favorite program: “Captain Video.”

Coogan later went on to play Marshal Matthew Wayne on NBC’s “The Californians,” which ran from 1957-59, and also appeared on “Love of Life,” a CBS soap opera,” for six years.

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Report: NBC Ready to Tweak 'Meet the Press' After the Show Falls to Third Place

NBC News President Deborah Turness is meeting with “Meet the Press” host David Gregory this week about changes to the show’s format, reports Politico’s Dylan Byers.

The meeting, which will take place today, Thursday, is part of Turness’ goal to pump up viewership for the show after it suffered ratings losses -- coming in third behind “This Week” on ABC and “Face the Nation” on CBS last quarter, the story notes.

An NBC spokeswoman said Turness’ visit was “business as usual.”

“Sources said that improvements to ‘Meet the Press’ will be one of Turness's chief concerns on her two-day visit. The show's fourth-quarter ratings marked the lowest total viewers ‘Meet’ has had in a fourth quarter since 1991. Its ratings in the coveted 25-to-54 demo were the lowest in the show's history,” the story notes.

Gregory became the host of the show in 2008.

david gregory.jpgDavid Gregory

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Roseanne Barr Is Sued by George Zimmerman's Parents

George Zimmerman’s parents are suing comedian Roseanne Barr. According to The Hollywood Reporter the couple is suing the comedian for tweeting their son’s address, alleging the tweet was “an open and obvious call for vigilante justice."

Zimmerman was tried and acquitted on charges of manslaughter and second-degree murder for shooting black teenager Trayvon Martin. During the media storm around the case, Barr tweeted his address to 110,000 followers, although the address was actually that of his parents, Robert and Gladys. Zimmerman hadn’t lived at the address for six years, the complaint says.

Director Spike Lee also tried to tweet Zimmerman’s address, but sent out the wrong one. He was sued by a couple who lived at the home he tweeted, and Lee paid $10,000 to them in a settlement.

Zimmerman’s parents are asking for at least $15,000 from Barr, claiming they were forced to flee their home “in the middle of the night” after the press arrived.

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Both 'Tonight Show' Incarnations -- With Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon -- Submitted for Emmy Consideration

Both versions of NBC’s “The Tonight Show” are eligible for the Primetime Emmys, given the transition from host Jay Leno to Jimmy Fallon midway through the television season, and both hosts have been submitted by NBC for consideration, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

“NBC was in a similar situation during the 2009-2010 season when both ‘The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien,’ which aired through January, and ‘Tonight Show With Jay Leno,’ which succeeded it, were submitted (O’Brien landed a nomination),” she writes.

Noting that NBC late-night shows "Late Night with Seth Meyers" and "Last Call with Carson Daly" have also been submitted by the network -- but not "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" -- the report adds: “Given the fact that Fallon just moved into ‘Tonight Show’ and is looking to establish himself as host, it makes sense for him only to be submitted for that show. For Leno, this could be the last time he is up for a late-night Emmy.”

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Why Distributors Are Balking at Picking Up the New L.A. Dodgers Channel

The new Dodgers-owned cable channel, SportsNet LA, is running into difficulties after asking pay-TV distributors to hand over the highest-ever carriage fee for a regional sports channel of its kind, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Right now, SportsNet LA is available on Time Warner Cable, although no other top pay-TV distributor is carrying it in the region, the story notes. The network is charging more than $4 per subscriber, with that fee slated to rise to more than $5 in the next few years.

“Armed with information about their customers' viewing habits, other distributors say the data doesn't support paying such a high price for a channel that an overwhelming majority of their subscribers won't watch regularly,” the piece reports. “They say they aren't worried about backlash from customers if the channel isn't available, and they show no signs of blinking as the Dodgers prepare to open the season in Australia on March 22.”

The article adds: “According to research by pay-TV companies, fans tend to check in on their local baseball teams in the weeks following Opening Day, but then don't become intensely interested again until midsummer, and then only if the team is in contention.”

The Dodgers chief executive, Stan Kasten, said the network should be fully distributed on basic channel lineups. Kasten, whose group also controls the channel, said the money from pay-TV operators would be invested into the team and the stadium.

Still, it’s not clear that fans will clamor for the channel. “DirecTV, as well as AT&T and other pay-TV providers, also have passed on carrying a new sports channel in Houston," the report notes. "There, too, subscriber outcry and action has been minimal, pay-TV executives say."

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Obama's Appearance on 'Between Two Ferns' -- Success or Failure? You Be the Judge (Here's the Video)

Reaction to President Barack Obama’s appearance with Zach Galifianakis on Funny or Die’s “Between Two Ferns” breaks down along predictable party lines, with the White House calling it a success and Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly taking issue with it, reports TVNewser.

The interview show is hosted by Galifianakis, who pokes fun of “old, bad local TV and cable access talk shows,” as TVNewser describes it.

President Obama’s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said it wasn’t hard to get him to do the show. “And yes, so far it has been overwhelmingly successful,” Jarrett said on “CBS This Morning.”

“I was checking how many hits were on the site last night when I went to bed. It was 10 million, which I’m sure breaks all kinds of records," Jarrett added. "But more importantly than that, the traffic on [healthcare.gov] has gone up 40% between yesterday and today, and that was the goal.”

The clip had 14 million views as of Thursday morning.

But Bill O’Reilly criticized Obama’s appearance on the show, calling the spot “a little bit desperate” and noting that Abraham Lincoln wouldn’t have done it, Politico reports.

Here's the clip:

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'The Ultimate Reality Series' Is Becoming a Reality

The idea from Dutch billionaire Bas Lansdorp was hailed as a concept for “the ultimate reality series”: a group of people trained for a one-way mission to Mars to create the first human colony, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

But now the idea is becoming an actual reality TV show, Andreeva writes. Liongsate TV is working with Lansdorp’s Mars One for an unscripted TV series to track the mission. Lionsgate won the project in a “competitive situation,” the report notes. The untitled project will be shopped to networks soon.

“Mars One calls for new groups of four to be sent to Mars every two years, beginning no later than 2024. Announced last year, the scientific project already has received almost 300,000 applications from all all over the world, which are being whittled down. Lionsgate TV is expected to start its own casting search, with the two selection processes ultimately merged,” the story notes.

The series would track progress over the next several years, including different stages of preparation and selection of the finalists, who will undergo eight years of training.

“This is a social experiment that focuses on the people that would sign for something like this -- they have to agree to participate and be willing to go on a one-way mission, knowing that if you go, you can never come back,” producer Roy Bank told the publication.

He added that the commitment to Mars One “is so much greater and much longer than TV season(s) would last; even before they would ever be put on a rocket, they need to be willing go for a longer period of time if not forever. Nobody knows if they will pull it off.”

But that also leads to ethical questions, Bank noted. He added, “Would a show like this be involved in promoting a suicide mission?”

Social experiments are hot on TV right now, with Fox recently committing to “Utopia,” which is about a group of people building a society from the ground up. Space travel is also becoming popular, with NBC recently picking up “Space Race,” about contestants competing for a slot on Richard Branson’s commercial spaceline, the story notes.

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'Heroes' Star Joins ABC's 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'

One of the stars of the NBC drama series “Heroes” has joined ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Adrian Pasdar will play a “jerk” who creates trouble for the team of secret agents.

Pasdar will appear in at least one episode of the drama as Major Glenn Talbot, a character who is known as “one of the many military menaces to the incredible Hulk,” the story notes.

The actor told Marvel.com, “Every show needs a jerk, [and] I guess I’m that guy. I make everybody else look so nice. I think it was Walt Disney who said it, ‘The show’s only as good as the bad guy is bad.’”

Pasdar’s first episode will air in April, although a specific date hasn’t yet been announced. He hinted that his role will last longer than one episode, telling Marvel.com, “There had to be a little bit more in it than just an episode for me. So I can’t say much more but the mustache is in a locker and it’s being taken out and prepped as we speak for next week.”

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TV's Top Comedy Gets a Multiyear Extension

The top comedy on television will be around at least through the 2016-2017 season after securing a multiyear broadcast agreement. CBS today announced the big renewal deal for "The Big Bang Theory."

The show is television's most-watched comedy, and the highest-rated broadcast entertainment program in the key 18-49 demo, the network noted. The network renewed the series for three additional years.

Said Nina Tassler, Chairman, CBS Entertainment: “Comedy is a big part of our schedule, and 'The Big Bang Theory' is the biggest comedy force on television. This multiyear deal further strengthens our network’s position for future seasons and marks another chapter in the great partnership CBS enjoys with Warner Bros. Television for delivering audiences the best in comedy. We’re proud to work with and showcase the incredible talents of Chuck Lorre, Steve Molaro and this amazing cast every week.”

"Big Bang" is averaging 19.79 million total viewers this season, up 4% from last year. It has delivered a 6.1 rating/19 share in adults 18-49, 7.8/21 in adults 25-54 and 4.5/16 in adults 18-34, making it the highest-rated non-sports program in all of these demographics.

The show comes from Chuck Lorre Productions Inc. in association with Warner Bros. TV, and stars Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch. Executive producers are Lorre, Molaro and Bill Prady.

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History Lining Up A-List Cast for New Miniseries From 'Hatfields & McCoys' Producer

History has greenlighted a high-profile miniseries from the producer behind the cable channel's monster 2012 hit "Hatfields & McCoys," Deadline.com reports.

The eight-hour project from "McCoys" producer Leslie Greif -- working title "Texas Rising" -- focuses on "the Texas Revolution against Mexico and the rise of the legendary Texas Rangers," the piece reports. The program is set for a 2015 premiere.

The project has lined up Bill Paxton -- an Emmy nominee for his role in "Hatfields & McCoys" -- to play Sam Houston.

"He is joined by Brendan Fraser as Billy Anderson, a Texas Ranger with Comanche Indian ties; Ray Liotta as Lorca, an Alamo survivor seeking brutal revenge; Jeffrey Dean Morgan as “Deaf” Smith, a deaf and grizzled veteran Texas Ranger with an advanced case of consumption; Thomas Jane as James Wykoff, a homesteader who finds himself living in the middle of hostile Indian territory; Olivier Martinez as President General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the tyrant dictator of Mexico; Chad Michael Murray as Mirabeau Lamar, a spirited Texas soldier who helps win the battle of San Jacinto; Michael Rapaport as Sgt. Ephraim Knowles, a would-be deserter and coward turned hero; and Max Thieriot as Jack Hays, a volunteer freedom fighter who becomes the youngest Texas Ranger," Deadline reports.

Consisting of four two-hour installments, the miniseries comes from A+E Studios and ITV Studios America and is directed by Roland Joffe. Greif will executive produce, and wrote the script with "Hatfields & McCoys" producer Darrell Fetty, with "McCoys" co-writer Ted Mann pitching in.

Said History Executive VP Dirk Hoogstra: “From 'Hatfields & McCoys' to 'The Bible' to 'Vikings,' History has made a major commitment to high-quality scripted historical dramas. The Texas Revolution is one of the most gut-wrenching and inspirational events in our history. Doing the story justice will be a massive undertaking and we’re excited to begin production with one of the best teams in the business.”

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Tuesday Broadcast Ratings: One Network's Entire Prime-Time Lineup Sinks to All-Time Lows

Tuesday was a challenging ratings night for one broadcast network, whose entire prime-time lineup dipped to historic lows, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that all three shows on Fox matched their all-time lows in the demo.

"Glee" came in with a 0.9 average in 18-49, slipping one-tenth of a point from a week ago; "New Girl" was down two-tenths to a 1.3; and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" inched down one-tenth to a 1.3, as Fox finished fourth among the big four broadcast nets.

NBC won the night even as much of its lineup lost ground. "The Voice" was easily the top show of the night on broadcast with a 3.4 average in the 18-49 demo, despite plunging seven-tenths from last week. "About a Boy" fell four-tenths to a 2.1, while "Growing Up Fisher" slipped one-tenth to a 1.8.

NBC's "Chicago Fire" defied the network's overall downtrend, ticking up one-tenth from a week ago in 18-49 to a 2.0 average.

Second-place ABC was mostly up from a week ago, with "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." rising two-tenths in viewers 18-49 to a 2.0, "Trophy Wife" up one-tenth from last week's series low to a 0.9, and "Mind Games" climbing three-tenths to a 0.9. "The Goldbergs" held steady with a 1.5.

CBS came in third with a lineup of drama repeats consisting of "NCIS" (1.3 average in 18-49), "NCIS: Los Angeles" (1.4) and "Person of Interest" (1.1).

For prime time overall, NBC won the 18-49 demo with a 2.4 average, followed by ABC (1.4 average), CBS (1.3), Fox (1.1) and Univision (1.0). CBS inched ahead in total viewers, averaging 9.4 million to lead NBC (9.2 million), ABC (4.0 million), Univision (2.6 million) and Fox (2.4 million).

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CBS Settling $100 Million 'Hawaii Five-0' Lawsuit

On the eve of trial, CBS has reportedly decided to settle a $100 million lawsuit over its hit crime drama "Hawaii Five-0." The Hollywood Reporter's THR, Esq., reports that the network is settling the suit filed by former talent agent George Litto.

Litto, who was the agent of the original "Hawaii Five-0" creator Leonard Freeman, claims he was cut out of financial participation in the reboot of the show. Freeman died in 1974.

"The parties were before a Los Angeles Superior Court judge this week during the first phase of a trial when CBS attorney James Curry informed the court that the matter had been resolved. The parties are said to be finalizing a deal. Attorneys in the matter declined comment," THR reports.

The report notes that after Freeman's death, "Freeman's widow represented by Litto renegotiated a deal with CBS to allow the network the right to produce the show in the future and shifted responsibility for production from Freeman's company to CBS. In return, CBS gave Freeman a substantial stake in the show and a sweetheart arrangement in which it wouldn't be allowed to recoup production overages.

"After the original incarnation of 'Hawaii Five-0' went off the air in 1980, a dispute then erupted between CBS on one hand and Litto and Rose Freeman on the other over who held separated rights."

The dispute appears to have dragged on in various forms for decades.

THR notes: "The larger aspect of the case dealt with the 2010 arrangement that CBS made with the Freeman estate on the present reboot of the hit CBS crime drama."

The report adds: "The dispute now appears to be drawing to a conclusion. Terms aren't known but it's likely to be a deal primarily between Litto and Freeman with CBS as a beneficiary of the release of claims."

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'True Blood' Actress Joins ABC Comedy

“True Blood” actress Anna Camp has been cast in the ABC comedy pilot “Damaged Goods,” according to The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed.

The project, from “Awkward” creator Lauren Iungerich, is a comedy about how sexual politics between men and women have changed since feminism, the story notes. Camp will play Nicole, an attorney who is upset when her boyfriend says they can’t continue to date if she takes a promotion that he wanted.

On “True Blood,” Camp played Sarah Newlin. She also appeared on Fox’s “The Mindy Project.”

anna camp.jpgAnna Camp

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NBC Shelves Comedy Project

NBC has decided to shelve a comedy project that has been in the works at the network. Deadline.com reports that the network is backing off on the pilot “The Money Pit,” at least for the time being.

The project is based on the 1986 movie starring Tom Hanks and Shelley Long.

The pilot, from Amblin Television and Universal Television, was shelved after problems with casting the leads, the story notes.

“This is the second pilot so far this season to get pushed for casting reasons. The other one was also an NBC multicamera comedy, ‘Fifth Wheel,’” the story notes. “There are hardly reasons for concern as NBC had ordered the most comedy pilots, 14, for next season.”

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Actress Exits Key Role on Drama Series

A broadcast drama series is losing one of its major cast members. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the "Vampire Diaries" spinoff "The Originals" will be without the regular services of Claire Holt.

The Australian actress, who plays Rebekah Mikaelsen, was in her last episode of the CW series March 11, when her character drove off after a confrontation with her brother, Klaus, the story notes. Even though Holt will no longer serve as a main character on “The Originals,” she could return as a guest star, the piece adds.

“There is no indication on when she could return if the opportunity arises, but the intention is that Holt could potentially reprise her role as early as later this season or in the show's sophomore run,” the story says.

claire holt.pngClaire Holt

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'America's Funniest Home Videos' Host Announces He's Leaving the Show -- and Nobody Notices

The host of ABC's long-running “America’s Funniest Home Videos” has announced he's wrapping up his run on the show, Deadline.com reports, adding that when Tom Bergeron first made the announcement in a tweet Friday, the message “went mostly unnoticed."

Bergeron “buried the lead” in his 140-character tweet, writing, “March Madness: I begin hosting my 18th season of @DancingABC on 3/17 and wrap up shooting my penultimate season as host of @AFVofficial 3/27.”

Then Bergeron emailed a statement to New York Magazine’s Vulture blog about his departure.

“The snarky yet lovable TV personality, who also hosts ABC's ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ tells Vulture that he’s simply chosen to move on from the gig he’s held down since 2001,” writes Vulture’s Joe Adalian.

Bergeron wrote in the statement to Vulture: “I’ve decided that, after 15 wonderful seasons as host of ‘AFV,’ next year, the show's 25th anniversary(!!), will be my last.” He didn’t add details about why he’s leaving, but the split is said to be amicable, Adalian notes.

“Bergeron also isn’t making a big deal out of his decision, casually tweeting Friday that he had just wrapped his ‘penultimate season’ with the show,” Adalian adds.

“AFV” averages 6.6 million viewers each week and attracts “a decent 1.4 rating among viewers under 50,” Vulture notes.

tom bergeron.pngTom Bergeron

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Amazon Orders Four Pilots to Series

Amazon is ramping up its move into original programming, and is “officially an original drama series player,” reports Nellie Andreeva, writing on Deadline.com.

The company uploaded two drama pilots and three comedy pilots last month, and now has notified four of them that they’re going to series. That means Amazon will be ordering its first dramas, Andreeva notes.

One of the dramas is “The After,” from Chris Carter of “The X-Files,” while the other is “Bosch,” starring Titus Welliver.

“The After,” which marks Carter’s return to series television, is about eight strangers who have to survive in a violent world, the story notes. Its stars include Sharon Lawrence and Adrian Pasdar.

“Bosch” is based on Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series about a Los Angeles Police Department homicide detective who is tracking the killer of a 13-year-old boy. Welliver, known for “Argo" and for playing the Man in Black on "Lost,” will play Bosch.

On the comedy side Amazon ordered “Mozart in the Jungle,” which is from Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman and stars Gael Garcia Bernal, and Jill Soloway’s semi-autobiographical “Transparent,” the story notes.

The fifth pilot, “The Rebels,” is being put on hold.

“Five pilots yielding four series represents a much higher batting average than Amazon’s first pilot season, when it tested eight comedy pilots, picking up two -- ‘Alpha House’ and ‘Betas’ -- to series,” the story notes.

titus welliver.pngTitus Welliver

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In Contentious Deposition, Justin Bieber Likens His Questioner to Katie Couric -- Here's the Video

Pop star Justin Bieber’s deposition in a lawsuit about his bodyguard allegedly beating up a photographer was obtained by TMZ, which released clips of the singer comparing the questioning to being grilled by Katie Couric or “60 Minutes.”

Bieber is by turns arrogant, lovesick, contentious and disrespectful, TMZ notes. Asked whether Usher discovered him, Bieber says he was discovered on YouTube. “The best part ... he clearly was trying to say he himself was instrumental in his success, but instead he says, ‘I was detrimental to my own career,’” the story notes.

Reaction to the videotape has ranged from “simple smirks to outrage for his apparent smug demeanor,” People magazine reports.

Here's one of several clips posted by TMZ:

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CBS Rolls Out Summer Lineup, Premiere Dates -- 'Under the Dome' and 'Big Brother' Return, While One Series Gets Pushed Back a Bit

CBS has announced its summer schedule, giving return dates to Stephen King’s “Under the Dome” and the reality franchise "Big Brother."

Meanwhile, the network is pushing back the debut of Steven Spielberg's limited-run series “Extant,” starring Halle Berry, the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports.

“Big Brother” will return June 25, with the new legal drama “Reckless” debuting June 29 -- the same night as the third-season premiere of “Unforgettable.” “Under the Dome” returns June 30, with Stephen King writing the season premiere.

"Berry's debut as a TV topliner has been pushed back a week," the report notes. "Sci-fi drama 'Extant,' which boasts Spielberg as an executive producer, was previously scheduled to premiere July 2; it will now get a post-Fourth of July debut on Wednesday, July 9."

Here are the summer premiere dates:

Wednesday (starting June 25)

8-9 p.m. -- "Big Brother" (Wednesday premiere)
9-10 p.m. -- "Criminal Minds"
10-11 p.m. -- "CSI"

Thursday (starting June 26)

8-8:30 p.m. -- "The Big Bang Theory"
8:30-9 p.m. -- "The Millers"
9-10 p.m. -- "Big Brother" (Thursday premiere)
10-11 p.m. "Elementary"

Sunday (starting June 29)

7-8 p.m. -- "60 Minutes"
8-9 p.m. -- "Big Brother" (Sunday premiere)
9-10 p.m. -- "Reckless" (Series premiere)
10-11 p.m. -- "Unforgettable" (Third-season premiere)

Monday (starting June 30)

8-8:30 p.m. -- "2 Broke Girls"
8:30-9 p.m. -- "Friends With Better Lives"
9-9:30 p.m. -- "Mike & Molly"
9:30-10 p.m. -- "Mom"
10-11 p.m. -- "Under the Dome" (Second-season premiere)

Wednesday (starting July 9)

8-9 p.m. -- "Big Brother"
9-10 p.m. -- "Extant" (Series premiere)
10-11 p.m. -- "Criminal Minds"

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Judd Apatow Says His Career Has Been Fueled by Revenge

Judd Apatow is pointing to an event that took place in 2000 as the impetus for the rest of his career. Variety reports that Apatow points the finger at the cancellation of his show “Freaks and Geeks” by NBC.

“Even to this day, I think I didn’t want to admit that ‘Freaks and Geeks’ was canceled,” Apatow said Monday at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills. “Everything I’ve done, in a way, is revenge for the people who canceled ‘Freaks and Geeks.’ It’s really demented, but it’s just like, ‘You were wrong about that person, and that person and that person. And that writer and that director.’ And I really should get over that.”

The low-rated comedy helped jump-start the careers of a number of actors, including Seth Rogen, Linda Cardellini and Jason Segel. Apatow still works with many of those wh were involved in the short-lived NBC comedy.

judd apatow.pngJudd Apatow

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Provocative British Show 'Sex Box' to Get U.S. Adaptation

A provocative British TV show called “Sex Box” will be adapted for U.S. television. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel WE tv has ordered an adaptation of the reality show, in which real couples whose relationships are struggling enter a soundproof box, have sex, and then leave the box to talk to a panel of experts.

The project, from Relativity TV, is one of the first big orders for Marc Juris, who became president of WE tv last year, the story notes. The producers of the project say the concept “fosters conversations about intimacy that are completely filterless and emotionally honest.”

“‘Sex Box’ is an intriguing and original concept from a top production partner and we’re very excited about its potential, which has already been clearly demonstrated overseas -- where it’s a hit,” Juris said.

In the U.K., the show drew an overnight audience of 906,000 in October and attracted a lot of media attention, the piece notes.

WE tv is part of the AMC Networks group, along with IFC and SundanceTV.

sex box (U.K.).png"Sex Box" (U.K.)

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'House' Star Joins Scorsese's Rock 'n' Roll Drama

An upcoming rock 'n' roll drama project that already has an A-list lineup behind the cameras is also putting together an impressive on-camera roster.

Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that “House” star Olivia Wilde has joined the untitled project from Martin Scorsese, Terence Winter and Mick Jagger.

“HBO is building a killer cast,” Andreeva notes. The project has been in the works at the pay-cable network since 2010.

Wilde will co-star opposite Bobby Cannavale in the project, which hasn’t received a formal green light but is slated to start production this summer. Scorsese will direct, “just as he did with the pilot for ‘Boardwalk Empire,’” the piece notes.

The untitled drama is set in 1970s New York and examines the drug-and-sex scenes of the music business through the eyes of a record executive played by Cannavale. Wilde will play his character’s wife, a former actress and model who was a bohemian in 1960s New York.

Wilde will be returning to series TV with the role, after focusing on films -- including "Rush" and "Her" -- since leaving “House,” the piece notes.

olivia wilde.pngOlivia Wilde

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How Many Seasons Will 'Game of Thrones' Last? Showrunners Have Their End Point in Sight

“Game of Thrones” showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss told EW.com’s Inside TV that the HBO show, as they imagine it, will last for seven seasons.

“It feels like this is the midpoint for us,” Benioff told the publication. “If we’re going to go seven seasons, which is the plan, season 4 is right down the middle, the pivot point.”

The piece adds: “The seven-season goal line has been floated in the media before, but the writer-producers of the acclaimed fantasy hit series says they’re firmer than before that three more seasons sounds about right.”

The HBO fantasy drama returns April 6 for its fourth season.

Seven seasons “was our unstated goal, because to start on a show and say your goal is seven seasons is the height of lunacy,” Benioff said. “Once we got to the point where we felt like we’re going to be able to tell this tale to its conclusion, that became [an even clearer] goal. Seven gods, seven kingdoms, seven seasons. It feels right to us.”

HBO Programming President Michael Lombardo said seven seasons would work for the network. “We’re all very mindful that they’re having conversations all the time with [author George R.R. Martin]. I think they do feel bullish enough that there’s enough story to deliver through season 7. I hate to sound greedy, but our longest shows have gone 7 or 8 seasons, so seven is a nice long run for us,” he said.

david benioff.pngDavid Benioff

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One of the Last Surviving Cast Members of 'Hogan's Heroes' Dies

One of the last surviving cast members from the beloved 1960s CBS sitcom "Hogan's Heroes" has died. Variety reports that Cynthia Lynn, who played Fraulein Helga -- Colonel Klink's secretary -- on the series, died Monday in Los Angeles. She was 76.

Lynn had been suffering from hepatitis, the report notes.

Her last acting role was in a 1975 episode of “Harry O.” Her other roles included parts on “Gidget Grows Up,” “The Odd Couple” and “The Six Million Dollar Man,” among other TV shows.

In 1964, she appeared in Marlon Brando’s “Bedtime Story.” After Brando died, Lynn’s daughter Lisa said that Brando was her father.

Lisa Brando wrote on Facebook, “Just wanted to thank you all so much for all your prayers and support during this difficult time. My mother will be truly missed. All my love to you and all her loving fans. XOXO.”

Lynn’s life story was told in a 2002 book, “Escape to Freedom: A Biography of Cynthia Lynn.” It told of her family’s journey from Latvia to Germany and then to the U.S. during World War II and afterward, the story notes.

Among the main cast members of "Hogan's Heroes," which aired from 1965-1971, only Robert Clary is alive. Clary, 88, played Corporal "Frenchie" LeBeau.

cynthia lynn-robert clary-hogan's heroes.JPGCynthia Lynn with Robert Clary in a
promo shot from "Hogan's Heroes"

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The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Rebrands -- You May Already Know Its New Name

After almost 68 years as the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the industry group is changing its name. B&C reports that the Academy wants to be known simply as the Television Academy.

"As part of the organization's "New Look -- New Vision -- New Destination" campaign, the group will now be known simply as the Television Academy. The TV Academy will celebrate its 70th Anniversary in 2016," B&C reports. "This campaign will also see a significant expansion of the endowment supporting the Academy's philanthropic efforts and a new construction project for its NoHo Arts District campus in the San Fernando Valley."

Bruce Rosenblum, chairman and CEO of the TV Academy, was set to announce a $40 million fundraising campaign Tuesday night, March 11, 2014, at the annual TV Hall of Fame ceremony.

Said Rosenblum: "This is the most important and pivotal year in our organization's history. The Academy is expanding, innovating and evolving alongside the dramatic changes in our industry. The quality of storytelling in television has never been better, and the ability of our global audience to experience those stories in personal ways has been permanently enhanced by the creativity of our members and technology advances within our industry."

As part of the rebranding effort, the Television Academy's logo will also change, and the Emmy statuette will get an update, the report notes.

bruce rosenblum 2.pngBruce Rosenblum

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Our Town Truism: 'But what I really want to do is direct.' Anne Sweeney, One of the Most Powerful Executives in Hollywood, Says She's Quitting Because She -- Yep, You Guessed It -- Wants to Learn to Direct

One of television's top movers and shakers -- who has been called the most powerful woman in Hollywood -- is resigning from her seat of power. According to The Hollywood Reporter, longtime Disney and ABC executive Anne Sweeney is stepping down to become a TV director.

The Walt Disney Co. announced Sweeney's departure Tuesday. The co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group, will remain with the company through January 2015.

B&C reports: "Sweeney oversees Disney's entertainment and news television interests worldwide. She first joined the company in 1996, and is widely credited with helping to grow properties such as Disney Channel and ABC Family, and with successfully migrating broadcast network ABC's content onto the Internet in the middle of the last decade. She oversees Disney's equity interest in A+E Networks and Hulu."

Said Sweeney: "The past 18 years at Disney have been the highlight of my executive career. I’ve been a part of an amazing evolution in our business and our industry, and have achieved far more than I ever thought possible. But as wonderful as the experience has been, there has always been a nagging voice in the back of my head pushing me to step out of the comfort zone of the executive ranks and more directly into the creative arena that enticed me to TV in the first place. I finally listened to that voice and thought, ‘If not now, when?’"

In a statement Tuesday announcing the move, Sweeney noted: "I know my decision to step back from all of this to learn the art of directing may seem surprising, but to me it’s a long realized dream."

She told THR earlier: "I have a lot to learn. But I would like to learn to be a director because I know I am not a writer and I am not an actor. And for the countless times I’ve been on our sets, that makes me a set visitor, that does not make me a director or a producer. So this is the place I intend to start."

Among her titles during her tenure at Disney, Sweeney has been president of Disney Channel, executive VP of Disney/ABC Cable Networks and president of ABC Cable Networks Group and Disney Channels Worldwide.

"Prior to joining Disney, Sweeney spent three years as chairman and CEO of FX Networks. Before joining FX, she spent 12 years in various executive positions at Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite," B&C notes.

Said Walt Disney Co. Chairman and CEO Bob Iger: “Since joining Disney, Anne has been a very successful executive in our senior ranks. Over the years, she grew our Disney Channel business into a global powerhouse and the main brand driver of our Company around the world; built ABC Family into a top cable network here in the U.S.; made ABC a strong, successful content creation engine; and has been a great partner in leading our industry into the digital age.”

anne sweeney.pngAnne Sweeney

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CBS News Fixture Parts Ways With the Network After Reported Battle Over Airtime, Political Bias

A fixture at CBS News has decided to leave the network after “months of hard-fought negotiations,” reports Politico’s Dylan Byers. The story reports that investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson terminated her contract with the network.

The piece reports: “Attkisson, who has been with CBS News for two decades, had grown frustrated with what she saw as the network’s liberal bias, an outsize influence by the network’s corporate partners and a lack of dedication to investigative reporting, several sources said.”

She also felt her work wasn’t supported by the network, and that she was fighting to get her reports on-air.

Attkisson definitely received less airtime over the past few years, reports TVNewser.

Attkisson was one of CBS News’ top 20 correspondents from 2007-2009, with between 145 minutes and 160 minutes per year. But by 2012, she had fallen to 36 minutes, making her the No. 100 correspondent in terms of airtime. Last year her airtime rose to 54 minutes, but she was still No. 100.

“Feeling increasingly stymied and marginalized at the network, Attkisson began talking to CBS News President David Rhodes as early as last April about getting out of her contract. Those negotiations intensified in recent weeks, and her request was finally honored on Monday,” Politico notes.

Attkisson told Politico that her departure was “amicable,” adding that she will focus on writing a book that’s being published by HarperCollins, which is owned by News Corp.

Byers writes: “Attkisson had become a polarizing figure at the network, sources there said. While some championed her relentless dedication to investigations -- ranging from defective Firestone tires to the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal -- others saw evidence of a political agenda, particularly against President Barack Obama. (The bulk of Attkisson’s work since 2009 has focused on the failures or perceived failures of the Obama administration, including its failed green-energy investments and the attack in Benghazi, though she has reported on several Republican failures as well.)”

sharyl attkisson-cbs news.jpgSharyl Attkisson

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Prospect Park, Producer of 'All My Children' and 'One Life to Live,' Files for Chapter 11

Prospect Park Networks, the online production company that revived “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” online, has filed for Chapter 11, reports Deadline.com.

The company filed for bankruptcy even as its multimillion-dollar legal action against ABC over the soaps continues, the story notes.

“The action today leaves little room for the resurrection of ‘All My Children’ and ‘One Life To Live’ in their last online incarnation. After a long-awaited first season online, both soaps ceased production last August,” the piece notes.

“PPN is optimistic that this filing will make it possible to continue to maximize the value of its assets and settlement of past liabilities,” the company said in a statement.

The filing doesn’t impact the Prospect Park management and talent company created in 2008 by Jeff Kwatinetz and ex-Walt Disney Studios president Richard Frank, the piece adds. It also won’t impact the company’s current productions, which includes “Wilfred” on FX and “Royal Pains” on USA Network, the story notes.

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Adult Swim Orders Live-Action 'Black Jesus'

Adult Swim has ordered a half-hour live-action series called “Black Jesus.” The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that the show comes from “The Boondocks” creator Aaron McGruder.

The series “appears to be inviting controversy,” the report notes, given that the premise involves Jesus living in modern-day Compton, a suburb of Los Angeles that’s plagued by a high crime rate. Jesus continues his mission of spreading love and understanding with a small group of followers, the story says.

“Although that's all the information Adult Swim provided about the series, one suspects it'll have considerably more edge than the standard Trinity Broadcasting Network fare,” the story notes.

Gerald “Slink” Johnson, who provided voice work for “Grand Theft Auto V,” will portray Black Jesus. The series is set to debut later this year in the Adult Swim programming block on the Cartoon Network.

gerald slink johnson.pngGerald "Slink" Johnson

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MTV Movie Awards Come Under Fire

The MTV Movie Awards are coming under fire -- and have been targeted by an online petition. TheWrap.com reports that the awards omitted women among the nominees for Best Hero, and the petition demands that “The Hunger Games” heroine Katniss Everdeen be included.

The petition had gained more than 13,000 signatures as of Tuesday morning, with supporters demanding that Everdeen be added to the slate. Everdeen is played by Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence.

“There is not a single woman in the Hero Category. Don't let a strong woman like Katniss be overlooked!” the petition says. “Young women already have too few female heroes represented in film and television. We're constantly shown by the entertainment industry that men are brave, powerful, or successful, while women are often given supporting roles and weak characters.”

MTV didn’t respond to a request for comment, TheWrap notes.

Nominees in the category are Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man in “Iron Man 3,” Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” Chris Hemsworth as Thor in “Thor: The Dark World,” Henry Cavill as Clark Kent in “Man of Steel” and Channing Tatum as John Cale in “White House Down.”

Nominees are chosen by MTV executives and producers, although the public votes to decide the winners.

jennifer lawrence as katniss everdeen.jpgJennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen

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Hip-Hop Mogul Bids $200 Million to Buy Cable Channel

A well-known rapper, record producer and entrepreneur is working on expanding his empire, and has his sights set on buying Madison Square Garden Co.’s Fuse network. Bloomberg reports that Sean Combs, who is also known as Diddy, has offered about $200 million for the cable channel, which he plans to turn into Revolt TV.

Combs is one of several bidders for the network, the story says. Since gaining fame as rapper Puff Daddy, he has started fashion, media and liquor businesses, on top of the cable-music network Revolt.

By purchasing Fuse, Revolt TV would gain more viewers and heftier subscriber fees. Fuse reaches about 74 million homes, while Revolt TV is only available in 22.8 million homes, the story notes.

“As we have stated, we are exploring strategic alternatives for Fuse, and will have no further comment during what is still an ongoing process,” an MSG spokeswoman said.

A $200 million offer may be on the low side, as bids were expected to range from $200 million to $250 million, the piece adds. The Dolan family, which controls MSG, has been seeking about $400 million.

Fuse’s programming includes original shows such as “Billy on the Street,” which features comedian Billy Eichner asking New Yorkers questions, while Revolt TV airs music videos, news, interviews and live performances.

sean diddy combs.pngSean Combs

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Fox Pilot Lines Up High-Profile Director

The Fox comedy pilot “Dead Boss,” which stars Jane Krakowski of "30 Rock," has lined up a well-known feature film director. Deadline.com reports that “Men in Black” director Barry Sonnenfeld will helm the pilot.

The project, from WBTV and Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment, this week signed up comedian and actress Amy Sedaris in a co-starring role, as we reported previously. Krakowski stars as a worker who is wrongfully convicted of killing her boss.

Sonnenfeld has a connection with Kaplan, as he directed Kaplan’s first pilot as a producer, which was the ABC comedy “Funny in Farsi.”

barry sonnenfeld.pngBarry Sonnenfeld

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Strong Night of Premieres for ABC

In a season in which ABC has often lagged near the bottom of the big four broadcast ratings, Sunday was a very good night in prime time, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

Paced by a strong premiere for the drama "Resurrection," and with good numbers for both the return of "Revenge" and the midseason premiere of "Once Upon a Time," ABC won the night handily among the broadcast nets. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "Resurrection" opened to a hefty 3.6 average rating in 18-49 to easily rank as the top show of the night on broadcast.

"Once Upon a Time" delivered a solid 2.3 average in the 18-49 demo for its midseason premiere on ABC, four-tenths of a point better than the number for the show's previous original installment. "Revenge" returned from hiatus to a 1.9 average, surging six-tenths from its previous original.

Second-place Fox got a piece of the multichannel airing of "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey," pulling in a 2.1 demo rating for the show in the 9 p.m. hour, along with 5.79 million total viewers. Counting all 10 networks airing the program, "Cosmos" delivered 8.5 million total viewers.

"Family Guy" was Fox's highest-rated show with a 2.2 average in viewers 18-49, up two-tenths from its previous original episode. Back-to-back episodes of "The Simpsons" settled for a 1.2 and a 1.6, both down from a 1.7 last time out. "Bob's Burgers" managed only a 0.9, falling six-tenths.

CBS saw "The Amazing Race" bounce back from a series low last week, climbing three-tenths in 18-49 to a 1.8. "The Mentalist" drifted downward by two-tenths from its previous original, recording a 1.6, while "60 Minutes" came in with a 1.5, ticking up one-tenth from last week.

CBS's "The Good Wife" returned from hiatus to a soft 1.3 average in adults 18-49, losing a half-point from its previous original.

NBC's two-hour "Dateline" pulled a 1.1 average in 18-49, the same number delivered by a rerun of "The Voice."

For prime time overall, ABC's 2.2 average led the way in viewers 18-49, followed by Fox (1.7 average), CBS (1.6) and NBC (1.1) CBS won total viewers with 9.5 million, ahead of ABC (7.9 million), NBC (4.8 million), Fox (4.1 million) and Univision (2.2 million).

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If We Can Track Our Smartphones Within a Few Meters, How Can We Lose a 777 Jetliner? It's Our Must-Read Non-TV Story of the Day

The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the South China Sea a few days ago with 239 people on board raises more than a few questions, not the least being: In this day and age, when we can track a tiny smartphone with some degree of precision, how the heck do we lose a full-size jetliner?

"A massive search and rescue effort involving 40 ships and 34 aircraft from nine different nations has yet to discover any sign of the missing aircraft," writes Sebastian Anthony in ExtremeTech. "For me, this is almost incomprehensible: Despite all of the awesome technology that mankind has developed, it’s still possible for a Boeing 777-200 with 239 people on board to vanish."

Anthony notes that searchers are relying mainly on the jet's radar signature, "and even then, that last radar reading was so poor that the search area is thousands of square miles of open water. Surely, given the fact that we can track a damn smartphone anywhere on Earth down to a few meters, there’s a better way of keeping track of missing aircraft?"

The report adds: "In the words of Malaysia’s civil aviation chief, the fate of MH370 is 'a mystery.' The Boeing 777 took off from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia en route to Beijing, was cruising normally at 35,000 feet … and then disappeared. There was no distress call. The weather was fine. The plane’s last known position, via radar, was just south of Vietnam in the South China Sea -- which is where search efforts have been focused so far -- but one theory suggests that the plane turned back just after the last radar ping, meaning the plane could be hundreds of miles away in the Strait of Malacca. In the absence of any other information, there is speculation that the plane was target of a terrorist attack."

The piece notes that one of the chief tools in studying what happens in an air disaster is, like radar, relatively old technology: the Flight Data Recorder (FDR), or "black box."

"Except for that last radar reading, we have absolutely no knowledge of the flight at all until we find that FDR," Anthony writes. "We have no clue what was said in the cockpit by the captain and first officer -- though, seemingly, if something did go wrong, they didn’t even have time to send a mayday message. We have no clue if the plane hit a patch of bad weather, or whether it was hijacked. It really will be one huge mystery until the FDR is recovered -- and there’s a good chance, if MH370 did crash into the ocean, that the FDR will never be recovered. In the case of Air France flight AF447, which disappeared off the coast of Brazil, it took two months to locate the wreckage, more than a year to find the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), and the FDR was never found."

Anthony adds: "Think about this for a moment. We live in a day and age where GPS (and other radio triangulation methods) can track your smartphone to within a few meters, almost anywhere on Earth. With dedicated, land-based tracking networks, vehicles and devices can be tracked to within a few centimeters. Even in the absence of GPS or radio tracking, inertial guidance (dead reckoning) has been accurate enough since the ’60s to accurately land a nuclear ICBM on the other side of the planet, or put the Apollo mission into space.

"And then there’s connectivity. On land, there are networks (both commercial and governmental) that provide data connectivity almost everywhere. Over water is definitely harder, but satellites do provide pretty good coverage -- and yes, that particular region of Asia is very well covered by communications satellites. Finally, even if an aircraft is out of satellite/radio coverage, there is absolutely nothing preventing the airplane from transmitting a really juicy low-frequency radio signal that could be picked up thousands of miles away. This is how they communicate with air traffic control, after all."

The piece asks: "Why, then, does a plane like the MH370 keep all of its secrets locked up in a black box? Why don’t planes constantly transmit all of their black box data, so that we know their exact location, bearing, altitude, and other important factors, at all times?"

Anthony adds: "The short answer is, there’s no good reason."

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Projection: 40 Million People Worldwide Will Watch One Program This Week

A program that is airing on multiple channels -- including 10 in the U.S. -- and in 181 countries worldwide is expected to be watched by 40 million people this week.

TheWrap.com reports that Fox is projecting that number for its “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” which debuted Sunday to a U.S. audience of 8.5 million people across 10 networks.

"Based on this U.S. Live + Same Day performance and the additional countries in which it will be airing this week, Fox is projecting that the global total audience number for the 'Cosmos' premiere this week will be more than 40 million," the story reports. "On the main Fox broadcast network itself, 'Cosmos' received a 2.1 rating in the advertiser-sought 18-49 demographic, and had 5.8 million viewers."

The competition Sunday on both broadcast and cable was stiff, the report notes, with ABC's premiere of “Resurrection” delivering a 3.6 rating in the 18-49 demo and 13.6 million viewers, while HBO's finale of “True Detective” had 3.5 million total viewers and AMC's “Walking Dead” pulled in 12.7 million.

"In the U.S., ['Cosmos'] debuted on Fox, National Geographic Channel, FX, FXX, FXM, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Mundo and Fox Life," the report notes. "Internationally, the series debut will be available on a total of 220 channels in 181 countries."

The show is an update on Carl Sagan's 1980 program "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage," with the new version hosted by astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

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TNT Set to Roll Out Two New Summer Dramas and a Returning Hit

TNT is taking the wraps off a batch of new summer programming, planning an unveiling at South by Southwest for the new series "The Last Ship" and "Legends," along with season four of "Falling Skies," the network announced.

Said Michael Wright, president, head of programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies (TCM): "For the past three summers, TNT has had great creative and commercial success with 'Falling Skies,' which has inspired us to continue to program for fans of sci-fi and action. This year, we're going to launch 'The Last Ship' and 'Legends,' two expertly crafted shows that bring the storytelling scope and thrill-ride excitement of our favorite summer movies to series television. With their great writing, expansive casts and outstanding production quality, these are really fun, smart and addictive shows."

The cable channel planned a slate of panel discussions and sneak peeks at SXSW this week in connection with the programs. TNT also announced premiere dates and other rollout plans.

"TNT's summer action series will kick off Sunday, June 22, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT) with the premiere of 'The Last Ship,' from executive producer Michael Bay ('Transformers'). Eric Dane ('Grey's Anatomy') and Rhona Mitra ('Strike Back') star in the series about a Navy vessel that may be humanity's last hope in the wake of a worldwide catastrophe," the network said in its announcement.

The release adds: "The fourth season premiere of 'Falling Skies,' from Amblin Television and executive producer Steven Spielberg, will follow 'The Last Ship' at 10 p.m. (ET/PT). Noah Wyle stars in the highly rated drama about the struggle against a deadly force of alien invaders."

The announcement also notes: "In August, the action will intensify even more as TNT premieres the new drama 'Legends,' from 'Homeland' executive producers Howard Gordon and Alexander Cary and 'Fringe' co-executive producer David Wilcox. Set to premiere Wednesday, Aug. 20, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT), 'Legends' stars Sean Bean ('Game of Thrones,' 'The Lord of the Rings') as a deep-undercover FBI agent who may be losing his grip on reality."

The release notes that TNT's summer lineup will also feature new seasons of "Major Crimes," "Rizzoli & Isles," "Perception" and "Franklin & Bash"; new episodes of "Dallas"; and the launch of Stephen Bochco's new crime drama "Murder in the First," with premiere dates for those shows to be announced at a later time.

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Sony to Sell TV and Film Content Through Comcast

"Comcast is fast becoming a powerful challenger to Apple and Amazon when it comes to selling downloaded movies and TV shows -- the long-awaited replacement for DVDs and Blu-ray discs known in the industry as electronic sell through (or EST)," Deadline.com reports. "And today’s deal with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will help, bringing movies including 'American Hustle' and 'Captain Phillips' and TV series 'Breaking Bad' and 'House of Cards' to the cable company’s offerings."

The piece notes that Comcast already has carriage deals in place with Fox, Lionsgate and Warner Bros., not to mention NBCUniversal, which Comcast owns. But it does not yet have arrangements with Disney, Paramount, DreamWorks Animation or MGM.

"Comcast doesn’t yet support UltraViolet, so consumers who buy movies or shows from it can’t access them from the entertainment industry’s cloud-based storage lockers," the report adds. "Comcast has its own infrastructure that makes it possible for buyers to access the content they buy, even if they move or stop subscribing to the cable video service. Last month, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said that since Comcast began offering EST in November it 'has captured 15% of the EST market and expanded the business.'”

Feltheimer added that he expects other cable operators to follow suit, because “it’s been too successful for Comcast.”

The report notes that consumer spending on EST rose 44% in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, to $424.8 million, based on figures from Digital Entertainment Group.

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ABC Family Sets Summer Lineup -- Including Rollouts for Three New Series

ABC Family unveiled its schedule of summer premieres, with three new original series being added to the lineup. As part of its summer slate, the cable channel will debut the new programs "Chasing Life," "Young & Hungry" and "Mystery Girls."

The channel will also bring back “Pretty Little Liars,” “Switched at Birth” and “The Fosters” starting in June.

Here are the network's blurbs on the new shows, along with the premiere schedule:

“Chasing Life” premieres Tuesday, June 10th, at 9:00 – 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. The new one-hour drama follows April (Italia Ricci), a smart, twenty-something, aspiring journalist who tries to balance her ambitious career with her family, which includes her widowed mom, Sara (Mary Page Keller), rebellious little sister, Brenna (Haley Ramm), and her grandmother, Emma (Rebecca Schull). We meet April at a pivotal moment in her life: she’s landed a fantastic opportunity to impress her hard-nosed Boston newspaper editor and an office romance with her super-sexy co-worker Dominic (Richard Brancatisano) is just beginning to blossom. In an unexpected twist of fate, April lands in the hospital where her estranged uncle George (Steven Weber) works as an oncologist, and she learns the devastating news that she has cancer. The series follows April through her journey in the face of this daunting revelation, during a time in her life when the challenges of finding love and success would be enough to keep any girl occupied. But April is determined to fight and refuses to give up her dreams and goals. Along the way, she’ll find new reserves of strength and passion within and discover that facing death may really be the only way to truly live.

“Young & Hungry,” executive produced by Ashley Tisdale (“High School Musical”), premieres Wednesday June 25th, at 8:00 – 8:30 p.m. ET/PT. Two worlds collide when Josh (Jonathan Sadowski), a wealthy young tech entrepreneur, meets Gabi (Emily Osment), a feisty young food blogger, looking to be his personal chef. Gabi is desperate for the job and must prove herself, mostly to Josh’s aide, Elliot (Rex Lee), who prefers a famous chef for the job. When Josh enlists Gabi to prepare a romantic meal for him and his girlfriend, the dinner goes awry and Gabi finds herself in a very awkward position. With the help of her best friend Sofia (Aimee Carrero) and Josh’s housekeeper Yolanda (Kym Whitley), Gabi turns a difficult situation into an opportunity for employment and maybe even love.

“Mystery Girls,” starring Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth, premieres Wednesday, June 25th, at 8:30 – 9:00 p.m. ET/PT. The comedy series follows two former detective TV show starlets brought back together by a real-life mystery. Charlie Contour (Garth) is a suburban housewife and mother, while Holly Hamilton (Spelling) longs for her glory days in the 90’s when she was on television. Both of their lives are disrupted when Nick (Miguel Pinzon), a witness to a crime and a “Mystery Girls” fanatic, will only speak to the infamous duo, and the former friends must reunite and put their TV crime-solving skills to the test. The series is also executive produced by Spelling and Garth.

Summer premiere schedule:

Tuesday, June 10th, 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. ET/PT – Season premiere of “Pretty Little Liars”

Tuesday, June 10th, 9:00 – 10:00 p.m. ET/PT – Series premiere of “Chasing Life”

Monday, June 16th, 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. ET/PT – Season premiere of “Switched at Birth”

Monday, June 16th, 9:00 – 10:00 p.m. ET/PT – Season premiere of “The Fosters”

Wednesday, June 25th – 8:00 – 8:30 p.m. ET/PT – Series premiere of “Young & Hungry”

Wednesday, June 25th – 8:30 – 9:00 p.m. ET/PT – Series premiere of “Mystery Girls”

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Former CBS News Fixture Dies

An award-winning television news correspondent who was a fixture at CBS News in the 1960s and 1970s has died. TVNewser.com reports that Bill McLaughlin died Friday in a Connecticut hospital from cardiac arrest. He was 76.

A resident of France, McLaughlin was in the U.S. visiting friends, the story notes.

He spent nearly all of his 27-year news career with CBS, although he worked for NBC News for two years starting in 1979.

“McLaughlin joined CBS News as a reporter in 1966 in Paris," the story reports. "He was named bureau chief in Bonn, West Germany, in 1968. He served there until being sent to cover the Vietnam War in 1969. In 1971, he was named bureau chief in Beirut, from which he covered conflicts in the Middle East, including the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. His coverage of the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics won an Overseas Press Club award."

McLaughlin won another Overseas Press Club award in 1974. CBS News reports: "McLaughlin was the reporter in the June 1974 'CBS Reports: The Palestinians,' which won the Overseas Press Club's award for Best TV Documentary on World Affairs that year.

"The next year he landed an interview with Saudi Arabia's King Faisal that turned out to be the king's last filmed interview with a foreign journalist before his assassination. McLaughlin's report became a central part of the CBS News Special Report, 'Death of a King: What Changes for the Arab World?'"

bill mclaughlin.pngBill McLaughlin in 1974

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Ted Turner Hospitalized

CNN founder Ted Turner was rushed to a hospital Friday after spending time at his holiday ranch in southern Argentina. Bloomberg reports that Turner, 75, was admitted to a Buenos Aires hospital for appendicitis surgery.

His spokesman, Phillip Evans, said Turner was hospitalized “for observation,” but declined to comment on his treatment or his ailment, CNN reports. “It is our policy not to comment on his personal health,” he said.

Turner was initially treated at a clinic in Bariloche, a lakeside city near Chile, but was diagnosed with appendicitis. Given that he was recommended to have surgery, he was flown that same day to Buenos Aires to have the operation, CNN says, citing Argentina’s state-run Telam news agency.

"Turner, who owns three ranches in Argentina’s Patagonia region spread over more than 125,000 acres, turned CNN into one of the U.S.’s biggest cable-television systems before selling it to Time Warner Inc. in 1996," Bloomberg notes. "He also founded the Turner Foundation, which seeks to protect and restore the natural world, according to the organization’s website."

ted turner.jpgTed Turner

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Trouble on the Set of Sheen's 'Anger Management'?

Charlie Sheen's FX comedy series "Anger Management" appears to be running into problems, and the show's star is at the center of it, The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

Sheen has missed several days of work on the sitcom, pushing back the show’s production schedule and angering fellow cast members, the story reports. The article cites unnamed sources.

“One source says the ‘Anger’ cast is threatening to stop working if the absences persist,” the piece reports. The production has reportedly turned to stand-ins for Sheen in some scenes, the piece adds.

A representative for Lionsgate, which produces the show, declined to comment. Sheen’s rep said the show hasn’t used stand-ins or shot around the actor, and blamed a break in shooting last week on another cast member with a sick relative. "Charlie is always ready, willing and able to shoot ‘Anger Management’ and looks forward to returning on Monday,” the rep said late last week.

Lionsgate and FX have pledged to create 100 episodes of the show, after an initial test reached a ratings threshold.

The story adds: “Sheen had struggled with substance abuse and famously was fired from his former hit sitcom ‘Two and a Half Men,’ leading some to wonder whether he could be counted on to perform in 100 episodes of television. ‘Anger’ now is about two-thirds of the way through its 100-episode order, with shooting scheduled to finish this fall. The current delays are not expected to push the overall end date.”

Sheen has performed “as usual” while on set, but some have questioned his “erratic behavior of late,” the story reports. “His odd appearance on Jay Leno’s final week of ‘The Tonight Show’ in February had some questioning the newly engaged actor’s state,” the article adds.

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Demand for One Program Crashes HBO GO

A surge in demand for a single episode of one program caused HBO's online streaming service HBO GO to crash, Deadline.com reports. The crash Sunday night was triggered by users trying to access the season finale of "True Detective."

“Due to overwhelmingly popular demand for #TrueDetective, we’ve been made aware of an issue affecting some users. Please try again soon,” HBO GO tweeted Sunday night.

The story notes: “The disruption reaffirms ‘True Detective's' status of a pop culture phenomenon, which it has been able to achieve in only eight episodes.”

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Why NBC Pulled Out of Comedy Project

NBC is pulling the plug on its plans for an upcoming comedy. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that casting concerns are behind the network's decision not to go forward with “Fifth Wheel."

“With the number of original scripted series on cable and digital platforms exploding, there were major concerns going into this broadcasting season that the depleted talent pool would put extra strain on casting, leading to a number of pilots folding over problems finding the right actors,” Andreeva writes.

“Fifth Wheel” is the first pilot to get shelved this season because of casting issues, she notes.

The project won’t be a noticeable loss for NBC since it had ordered 14 comedy pilots, the most of any network, according to the report. “Fifth Wheel” was an ensemble comedy about a young woman whose last single friend gets engaged.

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Veteran Actress and Singer -- Remembered as Alice in 1960s 'Honeymooners' -- Dead at 92

The actress who played the wife of Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden in the 1960s version of the classic TV series "The Honeymooners" has died. The New York Times reports that Sheila MacRae died Thursday at 92.

MacRae played Alice, who was married to Brooklyn bus driver Ralph Kramden, in 52 episodes of “The Jackie Gleason Show.” Gleason included “The Honeymooners” sketches on his CBS variety series.

The role of Alice was originally a vehicle for Audrey Meadows, who portrayed the tough character in the iconic 1950s television show “The Honeymooners.”

The revival sketches also featured Art Carney, who returned in his original role as Ed Norton. Trixie, Ed’s wife, was played by Jane Kean in the revival sketches. Kean died in November, The Times notes.

MacRae was married to singer and actor Gordon MacRae for 26 years, with the pair performing as a duo for almost 10 years on television, in concerts and in nightclubs. She appeared in movies and TV shows such as “I Love Lucy” in the 1950s and 1960s, leaving show business for a period of time after becoming pregnant with their first child.

MacRae wrote about struggling with her husband’s drinking and gambling in her 1992 memoir, “Hollywood Mother of the Year.” She didn’t want to get a divorce, fearing that his alcohol abuse and gambling problems would become public, the piece reports.

They eventually did divorce in 1967, the story adds. Her former husband died in 1986.

MacRae also appeared on “General Hospital” and in 1965 played Miss Adelaide in Broadway’s “Guys and Dolls.”

sheila macrae.pngSheila MacRae

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Star of One of the Biggest Movies of the 1980s to Play Lead in New TV Drama

An actress who starred in one of the top feature films of the 1980s will topline a new television drama project. Deadline.com reports that the TNT pilot “Proof" has cast Jennifer Beals as its lead.

The supernatural drama is executive produced by Kyra Sedgwick.

Beals starred in the 1983 blockbuster “Flashdance,” portraying a young woman who works as a welder but dreams of going to ballet school. The movie won an Oscar for best song.

Beals also starred in Showtime drama series “The L Word.”

In "Proof," she will portray Dr. Kathryn Russo, a brilliant surgeon who is struggling after losing her teenage son. Her character finds she's having trouble communicating with her daughter, and starts investigating the question of what happens after death and whether there’s another realm beyond, the story notes.

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Science Channel Greenlights Late-Night Host's 'I F---ing Love Science'

Science Channel is moving forward with a series called “I F---ing Love Science,” executive produced by a familiar face on late-night, Craig Ferguson, TheWrap.com reports.

Ferguson has hosted CBS's “Late Late Show” since 2005.

The new series is inspired by a Facebook page called I F*cking Love Science, which was created by Elise Andrew, a biology student from the U.K.

The Science Channel show will include live-action and animated sequences, and will debut toward the end of 2014. The announcement was made by Ferguson in a videotaped message played at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, the piece notes.

“If you know anything about me, you know I love science,” Ferguson said. “Science has a naughty secret -- it's that all things are connected. And this show is going to explore the randomness of science. Think of it as a late-night Google search that goes a hundred pages deep until things get weird -- and then you just keep going. And there is no better partner for this kind of smart entertainment like Science Channel and Elise.”

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Pioneering TV Producer Dies After 70-Year Career

The producer of the first NFL and Grammy Awards telecasts -- who also recorded the German surrender in 1945 for radio -- has died. Deadline.com reports that Ted Bergmann died March 2 following surgery at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica. He was 93.

The report notes that Bergmann recorded the surrender of Germany to the Allies for radio in 1945 during World War II. In his 70-year-career, he also produced shows including “Three’s Company” and “Love Thy Neighbor,” a 1973 program about a black family in a white neighborhood that caused advertisers to pull their support, the story notes.

“A Brooklyn native, Bergmann started his TV career as an NBC page. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Army, soon earning the rank of captain and covering stories in the European theater for the NBC radio program ‘Army Hour,’” the piece reports.

On May 6, 1945, he took a recording crew to Reims, France, to record the German surrender in World War II. Bergmann was the last surviving witness of the event, the article adds.

The report notes: “Returning to the U.S., Bergmann rejoined NBC. Within five years he became president of the DuMont Network, where he was the first to broadcast NFL games and live boxing and launched such notable TV personalities as Jackie Gleason and Bishop Fulton Sheen.”

In 1962, he was approached by the National Academy of Recording Artists to find a way to broadcast the Grammy Awards, which were then only three years old.

“He created and produced ‘The Best On Record,’ a post-awards re-creation of the winning performances and a way of gaining awareness for the industry event. The 1963 program included such icons as Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Steve and Eydie, and Peter, Paul and Mary,” the article reports.

Bergmann retired in 1998 but served on the boards of industry groups including the Caucus for Television Producers, Writers & Directors.

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Fox Continues to March to Its Own Drummer, Gives Early Renewals to Four Shows

In what our friend Nellie Andreeva, writing on Deadline.com, calls a “gutsy” move, Fox has given early renewals to four shows. The shows are the comedies “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “New Girl” and “The Mindy Project” and the drama series “The Following.”

The programs join three other Fox shows that had already been renewed for the 2014-15 season: dramas “Sleepy Hollow,” “Bones” and “Glee.”

“That is a lot of programming already locked in for next season though Fox has extra holes to fill following the cancellation of ‘The X Factor,’” Andreeva writes. “Networks are not required to make any renewal decisions until May, and most wait to see their pilots before making decisions.”

Fox, though, said earlier this year that it would be breaking away from the pilot process, which means the network might now be working under a different renewal schedule than other networks, Andreeva notes.

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Amy Sedaris Joins Fox Comedy Starring '30 Rock' Actress

Fox has cast comedian and actress Amy Sedaris in a new comedy. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Sedaris is joining “Dead Boss,” a comedy pilot that stars Jane Krakowski of “30 Rock."

Based on a British series, the project features Krakowski as Helen Stephens, who has been wrongfully convicted of killing her boss. Sedaris will play one of Helen’s co-workers, a nosy character who secretly loved the boss and hates Helen, the story notes.

The project will be written by Patricia Breen of “Suburgatory,” who will also executive produce with Aaron Kaplan.

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How Low Can 'Idol' Go? Former Powerhouse Sinks in the Ratings

The ratings woes continue for the singing competition that once dominated prime-time television. "American Idol" registered the lowest rating in its 13-season history Thursday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "Idol" delivered a 2.2 average rating in viewers 18-49, falling 8% from a week ago. Leading out from "Idol," Fox's drama series "Rake" delivered another 0.8 -- the same as last week -- as Fox settled for an uncompetitive third-place finish among the broadcast nets.

In total viewers, "Idol's" 9.71 million average didn't come close to the 17.91 million delivered by CBS's "The Big Bang Theory" in head-to-head competition at 8 p.m., and "Idol's" total also trailed CBS's "The Millers" (11.78 million) and "Two and a Half Men" (10.45 million).

In the 18-49 demo, "Idol" trailed not only all three of those CBS sitcoms, but also ABC's "Scandal" (2.8 average rating) and "Grey's Anatomy" (2.6).

CBS's "Big Bang" was once again the dominant show of Thursday night, leading off prime time with a 5.2 average rating in 18-49 (up 4% from a week ago) and helping the Tiffany Network coast to an overall win for the night. "The Millers" delivered a 3.0, up 11%, and "Two and a Half Men" ticked up 8% to a 2.7.

The picture wasn't entirely rosy for CBS's comedy lineup, as "The Crazy Ones" continued to struggle, equaling its series low with a 1.7 average in 18-49 -- off 11% from a week ago. On the drama side, CBS's "Elementary" rose 6% to a 1.7.

Second-place ABC brought back "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland," which equaled the modest number for its most recent original installment in viewers 18-49, a 0.8 average. The 2.6 average for "Grey's" was a 16% drop from a week ago, while "Scandal's" 2.8 represented an 18% drop.

Last place among the big four broadcast nets went to NBC, with no prime-time show doing better than a 1.2 in adults 18-49. Both "Parenthood" and "Parks and Recreation" hit that number, with both series ticking up 9% from last week.

NBC's "Hollywood Game Night" went the other direction, dipping 8% to a 1.1 average in 18-49, while bubble show "Community" equaled its series low from a week ago, a 1.0.

For prime time overall, CBS's 2.7 average was the best on broadcast in the 18-49 demo, followed by ABC (2.1 average), Fox (1.5), and NBC and Univision (tied at 1.1). CBS also claimed a comfortable win in total viewers with 10.7 million, ahead of Fox (6.64 million), ABC (6.58 million), NBC (3.3 million) and Univision (2.7 million).

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Supermodel-Turned-Actress Joins Upcoming NBC Comedy

A former supermodel who successfully transitioned to an acting career has found her next TV role. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Rebecca Romijn is on board with "The Pro," NBC's upcoming comedy starring Rob Lowe.

"The single-camera comedy is set in and around a tennis and golf club pro shop, and stars Lowe as Ben Bertrahm, a former doubles champion who is reunited with his ex-partner Bobby Welch (Rob Riggle) after a public feud that left them both floundering in life," THR reports.

The piece adds: "Romijn will play Margot, a driven but insecure and lovable wealthy one-percenter who is a board member at the prestigious L.A. Tennis & Golf Club who takes lessons from Ben. She lost her husband in a heli-skiing accident when she was pregnant with Nathanial and though she dates, she's never gotten serious about any other man since then, though Ben wouldn't mind breaking that streak."

The casting comes six months after Romijn's series "King & Maxwell" ended its short run on TNT. Besides a number of TV roles, including "Eastwick" and "Just Shoot Me!," Romijn has been active in feature films, including playing Raven Darkholme/Mystique in the "X-Men" movies.

"'King of the Hill's' Peter Huyck and Alex Gregory will pen the script for 'The Pro,' with Lowe, Karey Burke, Marc Gurvitz and Todd Holland exec producing," the report notes. "Holland will also direct the single-camera pilot. 'Key & Peele's' Colton Dunn, 'Parenthood's' Rosa Salazar and Andrea Savage co-star."

rebecca romijn.pngRebecca Romijn

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Former NBC Exec Dead at 95 -- He Served Two Terms as President of the TV Academy

A former NBC executive who served two terms as president of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has died. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Hank Rieger died Wednesday in Oceanside, Calif., at 95.

Rieger a former publicity exec for NBC, reportedly died of natural causes.

"Rieger served the television industry's governing bodies for 40 years, first as president of the Hollywood Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, then as president of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (from 1973-75 and then from 1977-80) and as editor and publisher of Emmy Magazine, which he created for the organization," THR reports. "In 1994, Rieger was honored with the Television Academy's Syd Cassyd Award in recognition of his long and distinguished service."

Said Bruce Rosenblum, current chairman and CEO of ATAS: “Hank Rieger worked tirelessly for many years on behalf of the Television Academy. He believed in the Academy’s ability to have a positive impact on the entire entertainment industry, and we are deeply grateful for all he contributed.”

THR notes: "In 1965, Rieger began a 15-year run as West Coast director of press and publicity for NBC, promoting such popular TV programs as 'Bonanza,' 'I Spy,' 'Star Trek,' 'Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,' 'Sanford and Son' and 'The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.' He traveled overseas with Bob Hope when the famed comic entertained U.S. troops.

"After leaving NBC in 1979 to operate his own PR firm, he became the West Coast PR representative for the then-fledgling ESPN, a relationship he maintained until his death."

Rieger also worked with Special Olympics, and helped bring the 1984 Summer Olympics Games to Los Angeles, the report notes.

hank rieger.pngHank Rieger

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Cable News Channel Pulls Plug on Show

A cable news channel focused on financial news is pulling the plug on one of its shows. Deadline.com reports that the five-year run of "The Kudlow Report" on CNBC is about to end.

The show will run through the end of this month, and that's it, the report notes, with its host, Larry Kudlow, remaining with CNBC as a senior contributor. The show airs at 7 p.m. ET weekdays.

"No word yet as to a replacement program," the story reports. "Kudlow, who has been a part of CNBC for its 25-year history, had headlined 'The Kudlow Report' since January of ’09, after hosting 'Kudlow & Company' from ’05 to '08, and partnering with Jim Cramer in 'Kudlow & Cramer' before that."

In a memo to CNBC staffers, network President Mark Hoffman said: “In my career, I have encountered few television hosts with Larry’s range. As an interviewer, he is unfailingly polite and energetic, skillfully grilling guests but always ending a segment graciously. Larry has always brought great enthusiasm to every program and appearance.”

The report adds: "Kudlow raised some eyebrows in January when he nominated Fox News co-founder and CEO Roger Ailes to be part of CNBC’s First 25 list of people who have had the 'greatest influence, sparked the biggest challenges and created the most disruptions in business over the past quarter century.' CNBC was compiling the CNBC First 25 to celebrate its own 25th anniversary (Ailes ran CNBC in the early 1990s)."

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Is HBO's Roster of White, Male TV Creators a Problem?

HBO has a diversity problem with its one-hour scripted dramas and miniseries, writes Maureen Ryan at The Huffington Post.

From 1975 to 2014, HBO only had two women represented among the 38 “narrative architects” of one-hour HBO dramas and miniseries, the story reports. (The story defines a “narrative architect” as either the creator, lead writer, chief adaptor or lead developer.) Only one person of color, Michael Henry Brown of 1993’s “Laurel Avenue,” is represented.

But in HBO’s post-“Sopranos” years, diversity has actually decreased, Ryan says.

“Guess how many women or people of color have been a creator or narrative architect on a one-hour HBO drama or miniseries since 2008 (the year after "The Sopranos" ended)?” she asks.

“None. Not one.”

The lack of female narrative architects may be one reason why so many “problematic female characters” exist on HBO shows, Ryan writes.”True Detective,” a crime drama that’s received critical acclaim, has depicted women in “a familiar array of cable-drama types: ‘crazy’ mistresses, nameless strippers, randy hookups, disgruntled daughters, dismayed wives,” she says.

Ryan adds: “To a lesser extent, critics have also noted the spotty depiction of ‘True Detective’s' non-white characters. Two African-American detectives questioning Marty Hart and Rust Cohle have had a fraction of the screen time of [Woody] Harrelson and [Matthew] McConaughey's characters.”

HBO said it’s trying to better. “We have just launched a new program called HBO Access that seeks emerging, diverse filmmakers ... and we are currently developing new programming with such talent as Oprah Winfrey, Steve McQueen, Jenji Kohan and many others,” a representative said via email.

HBO isn’t alone in over-representation of white men. Among five major TV outlets -- AMC, FX, Showtime, Netflix and HBO -- Ryan counts 97 narrative architects, including only 12 women and only two people of color.

“Even as a snapshot of the industry, however, the numbers tell a clear story about who gets the keys to the fanciest car, culturally speaking. At the outlets responsible for many top programs, women and people of color are enormously under-represented as creators,” Ryan writes.

Research from the Women’s Media Center found that shows without women creators had casts that were 41% female, but shows with at least one female creator had casts that were 47% female.

“Given how few women and people of color are present at a show's creation, is it any wonder we can't escape this debate?” Ryan asks.

She adds: “We wonder why women are too often depicted as nags, flunkies or side salads. We wonder why women often get less to do, have less to say and so often feel the impulse to take off their shirts. We wonder why people of color aren't often depicted with compelling emotional lives or as complicated characters. We wonder why non-white men and women are hardly ever the protagonists.

“I recognize that men are entirely capable of writing good female characters, and that white people can write quality roles for characters of color (but let's not kid ourselves, it doesn't happen often enough). But when networks go to the same wells again and again, it starts to seem like the narrative concerns of programs created by men are the only narrative concerns that matter. They're not."

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Actor Who Was 'Famously Fired' From a Long-Running Drama Series Is Coming Back to the Show

An actor who lost his role on a high-profile TV drama series in a widely publicized firing a few years ago is returning to the show. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Isaiah Washington, who starred as Dr. Preston Burke on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” before he was fired in 2007, will be back on the series.

Washington will guest star in a May episode, returning years after he was "famously fired" following anti-gay remarks about co-star T.R. Knight and fights on the set, the story notes.

His return coincides with the departure of one of the show’s original stars, Sandra Oh, whose character was at one time engaged to Burke. Oh will leave the drama after its current 10th season.

"It's important to me that Cristina's journey unfolds exactly as it should," showrunner Shonda Rhimes said in a statement. "Burke is vital to that journey -- he gives her story that full-circle moment we need to properly say goodbye to our beloved Cristina Yang."

Burke's character left the show after he stood up Oh’s character on their wedding day.

In a statement, LGBT rights group GLAAD said Washington’s statements promoting marriage equality and a PSA “have sent a strong message of support for LGBT people.” It added, “We look forward to seeing him return to one of our favorite shows.”

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CBS News Veteran Steps Into Correspondent's Role on '60 Minutes'

CBS News has named a company veteran as the newest correspondent on “60 Minutes.” TVNewser reports that the company is adding Bill Whitaker to the show's lineup.

The CBS News veteran, who joined the network in 1984, has reported from locations as varied as Los Angeles and Tokyo, covering earthquakes in Japan and the O.J. Simpson trials, the story notes.

CBS News Chairman and “60 Minutes” executive producer Jeff Fager said: “Bill Whitaker is one of the great veterans of CBS News. He has had a distinguished career covering just about every kind of story all over the world."

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Turner Management Shakeup Claims a Casualty

A key executive at Turner appears to be a casualty of a management shakeup at the media company. The Los Angeles Times’ Company Town reports that Turner Animation President Stu Snyder is headed out the door at the Time Warner unit.

Snyder has run the unit for six years, overseeing Turner’s animation work along with Cartoon Network, Boomerang and Adult Swim. Snyder said he’s leaving at the end of March, according to the report.

“Snyder's departure comes in the wake of a new management regime taking the reins at Turner. In January, John Martin was promoted from chief financial officer of Time Warner to chief executive of Turner. As part of the restructuring, David Levy, Turner's head of sales and distribution, was named president,” the story notes.

The report adds: “Tensions between Snyder and Levy led to the former's decision to resign, a person familiar with the matter said who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.”

A replacement for Snyder hasn’t been named.

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TVWeek Site OK Now -- Though for the Time Being You Can't Leave a Comment

As many of you know, starting on Tuesday afternoon, March 4, 2014, Google posted a warning that going to our TVWeek website could cause harm to your computer. Some browsers then picked up on that warning as well.

We took this warning very seriously and our terrific IT staff got busy to see if our site had been compromised by any malicious software. Google itself said we had not hosted any malware, but that it was concerned if something had been planted on the site that would cause us to inadvertently be an intermediary distributing such software. 

Everything our IT department checked out was OK. But we were concerned that the part of our website that allows comments left by users presented some vulnerability to someone who might want to plant something on the site. So we disconnected our comments and asked Google to check our site again. They did and have given us a clean bill of health. We hope to reconfigure how we allow comments soon, and open our stories back up to user comments.

Meanwhile, please once again enjoy our site!

Sincerely,

Chuck Ross
Managing Director, TVWeek

P.S. FYI ... Some users have told us that they have had to reboot their browsers once and then the malware warnings no longer appear.

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NBC News Correspondent Temporarily Blinded by Malfunctioning Camera Light

An NBC News correspondent was temporarily blinded by a malfunctioning camera light while covering the Michael Dunn trial in Jacksonville, Fla., TVNewser reports.

Kerry Sanders wrote in a letter to friends and colleagues: “I was in front of a TV camera from 7:30am until 5:30pm reporting for the TODAY Show, MSNBC and Nightly News. The HMI light malfunctioned and the UV light was slowly burning my corneas, as well as frying the skin on my face. Not only could I not see, but my eyes burned in pain as if two hot coals smoldered in my sockets. The darkness lasted a frightening 36-hours. I still see foggy halos and out-of-focus views. The doctors say my eyesight will eventually return to normal.”

Sanders wrote that he suspected something was wrong when he felt increasing pain.

“But hey, I’m the guy who toughed out a deadly scorpion bite on assignment in Afghanistan. I’ve marched into Iraq embedded with the toughest of the toughs, the US Marines. I can push through this, right?” he wrote.

In agony, he made his way to the ER, where doctors “concluded my corneas were fried.”

His eyesight is now about 80% returned, he noted.

When he returns to work, the first thing he plans to examine is “those damned HMI lights, in the off-position, of course," he wrote. "Right now I’m not sure what to look for, but you can be sure I’m going to find out. And if being around camera lights is anywhere in your job description, you should too.”

kerry sanders.jpgKerry Sanders

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'Cheers' Veteran Joins CBS Drama

A familiar face from the long-running NBC comedy series "Cheers" will resurface on a new CBS drama project. Deadline.com reports that Bebe Neuwirth, who played Lilith on "Cheers," is among the newest additions to the pilot "Madam Secretary."

The drama stars Tea Leoni as Elizabeth McGill, a maverick Secretary of State who deals with the complexity of family life and international diplomacy, the report notes. Neuwirth will play her chief of staff.

Also joining the cast is Erich Bergen, who will play McGill’s young assistant. Bergen co-stars in Clint Eastwood’s “Jersey Boys.”

The project, from CBS Studios and Revelation Entertainment, is written by Barbara Hall and directed by Dave Semel.

bebe neuwirth.jpgBebe Neuwirth

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TBS Renews Comedy Series -- With Four Series on the Air, Show's Creator Is on a Hot Streak

TBS has announced the renewal of a comedy series, part of what's being called a "hot streak" for the show's creator.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the cable network will bring back the comedy “Ground Floor” for a sophomore season -- and show creator Bill Lawrence is hot, with four series on air.

The cable network ordered 10 new episodes of the comedy, which is one of four TBS series that rank in basic cable’s top 10 original sitcoms in the 18-49 demographic for 2013, the story says. The series drew an average of 1.8 million total viewers in its first season, with 1.1 million of those in the demo.

“Ground Floor,” which stars Skylar Astin, is a workplace comedy about a banker who falls for a woman working in maintenance. The show was created by Lawrence and Greg Malins.

“The ‘Ground Floor’ renewal continues Lawrence's recent hot streak," THR reports. "The producer this year has four series on the air, including Fox's Christopher Meloni comedy ‘Surviving Jack’ and NBC's upcoming half-hour ‘Undateable’ as well as TBS's ‘Cougar Town,’ though Lawrence stepped down as showrunner on the latter when the series moved from ABC."

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Fate of a Perennial Bubble Show -- Part of NBC's Thursday Night 'Disaster' -- Hangs in the Balance Yet Again

A series that is a “perennial bubble show” for NBC is hanging in the balance once again. Medialife Magazine reports that the network is deciding the fate of "Community," which has been pulling in small ratings numbers as part of NBC's Thursday lineup.

The network has already decided whether most of its new shows will return next season, with “Sean Saves the World,” “The Michael J. Fox Show” and “Welcome to the Family” gone from the schedule. “The Blacklist” has been renewed, and “Chicago PD” is likely to return.

“NBC’s Thursday night is a disaster, and ‘Community’s’ low ratings are higher than ‘Sean’ and ‘Michael,’ fellow Thursday programs the network already canceled,” the story notes.

"Community," which is currently in its fifth season, stars Joel McHale and Gillian Jacobs. The producers brought back show creator Dan Harmon as showrunner for this season after Harmon was fired following season three.

“The upside to ‘Community’ is that it has a very loyal audience, good DVR numbers and the network knows what it’s getting. It doesn’t expect the show to be a huge hit, but it’s not an abomination, either,” the piece adds.

Chances are “Community” will return, the report says, but it’s likely to again receive a midseason slot.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for dan-harmon.jpgDan Harmon

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NBC News to Pay Family of Slaying Victim for Interviews

NBC News has fueled talk about “ethically questionable” checkbook journalism with the revelation that it will pay the family of Reeva Steenkamp, who was killed by Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius, for interviews, reports The Washington Post.

Mainstream organizations typically shun the practice, as it may encourage sources to dramatize or exaggerate an account, the story notes.

“It also can create a conflict of interest that could introduce bias into the reporting of a story by putting an otherwise independent news organization into a financial partnership with a source,” the piece adds.

“Today” featured an interview with Reeva’s mother, June Steenkamp, on Tuesday, calling it “exclusive,” the report notes. Reeva Steenkamp was shot and killed by Pistorius, her boyfriend, last year.

Pistorius is a South African sprinter who is a double amputee and a Paralympics champion. He became the first double leg amputee to compete in the Olympics when he participated in the 2012 Summer Games in London. He is currently on trial for murder in South Africa in connection with Reeva Steenkamp's death.

A spokeswoman for NBC News said a British unit of an NBC News subsidiary paid “a very modest licensing fee” for the cooperation of Steenkamp's family. She declined to disclose the amount of the fee, which she said will go to covering “materials” that will be used to produce three documentaries for “outside clients.”

“Since last year, NBC has aired a series of exclusive interviews by offering cash payments and other inducements to people who have suddenly become newsworthy,” the piece notes.

The network “appears to have taken a more aggressive approach to securing the biggest ‘gets’ under its new president, Deborah Turness, who joined the network in August from ITV News, Britain’s leading commercial TV network,” the story adds.

reeva steenkamp.jpgReeva Steenkamp

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Gary Oldman Makes First Foray Into TV Production

Actor and producer Gary Oldman and Douglas Urbanski are teaming up on their first foray into TV production, with the pair developing and producing a horror series called “The Diabolic,” reports Deadline.com.

Daniel Kay of “Timber Falls” will write the pilot script for the project from Oldman and Urbanksi’s Flying Studio, with eOne TV handling worldwide distribution of the series.

The project is about an exorcist who falls in love with a woman whose young son is possessed. Josh Weinstock will produce with Oldman and Urbanski, who produced the Oscar-nominated film “The Contender.” Oldman, who co-starred in “The Contender,” is known for his roles in films such as the “Harry Potter” movie franchise.

gary-oldman.jpgGary Oldman

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FX Series Gets Another Two Seasons

FX announced that it is bringing back one of its series for at least another two seasons. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel renewed the animated spy series “Archer" through 2016.

The cable network ordered 13 episodes apiece for the show’s sixth and seventh seasons.

“‘Archer’ is one of the best comedies on television and has played a significant role in the growth of the FX comedy brand,” Eric Schrier, one of the presidents of original programming for FX Networks and FX Productions, said in a statement. ”We’re grateful to Adam Reed, Matt Thompson and their team at Floyd County, and also our incredible voice cast, and are looking forward to supporting their work for at least two more seasons.”

archer-fx.jpg"Archer"

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'Scandal' Actor to Take On Lead Role of Real-Life Polygamist in TV Movie

An actor known for his work on the ABC drama series "Scandal" has landed the lead in an upcoming Lifetime drama.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Tony Goldwyn, who plays President Fitzgerald Grant on “Scandal,” has been cast as Warren Jeffs in Lifetime’s original movie “Outlaw Prophet."

Jeffs was the leader of a fundamentalist Mormon sect that practices polygamy, and was on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list for more than a year. After being caught by a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper, Jeffs was convicted of child sexual assault and is currently serving prison time.

The project is based on the book “When Men Become Gods,” by Stephen Singular, which tracks Jeffs’ rise through his sect’s hierarchy after his father’s death.

The premiere date for the project hasn’t yet been set.

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E! Orders Its First Scripted Drama. Read Who Is In It and What It Is All About

E! has ordered its first scripted drama.

According to a report by our good friend Lynette Rice at Entertainment Weekly's Inside TV blog, "E! is getting into the scripted biz by ordering a series about a fictional British royal family.

"Set in — and filmed in — modern London, 'The Royals' will star Elizabeth Hurley as Queen Helena, who fiercely protects the family image. The cast also includes Vincent Regan, William Moseley, Alexandra Park, Tom Austen, Jake Maskall, Ukweli Roach and Oliver Milburn. Here’s the official network description: 'The Royals' pits public perception of the royal family against the reality of life inside the castle walls, from the lavish parties and high stakes political summits, to the private family gatherings and secret romances. However being born into this elite circle comes at a cost and the 'Royals’ lives are played out on a world stage where press is 24/7 and social media drives an insatiable appetite to follow their every move.”

"The series will premiere in 2015, and is executive produced, written and directed by Mark Schwahn ('One Tree Hill'). Brian Robbins and Joe Davola ('One Tree Hill,' 'Smallville') are also exec producers."

elizabeth hurley.jpgElizabeth Hurley

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More Brick and Mortar Tsuris: Staples to Shut More Than 200 Stores. Our Non-TV Story of the Day

It's been a tough few weeks for retailers. On the heels of RadioShack's recent announcement that it is shuttering 1,100 of its stores, Staples has announced that it is closing more than 200 of its retail outlets.

"Staples Inc., the largest U.S. office-supplies chain, will close as many as 12 percent of its North American stores and cut as much as $500 million in costs as online competition continues to hurt sales," Bloomberg reports.

Says the story, "Staples shuttered 42 stores in North America last year, ending 2013 with 1,846 in the region. The plan announced today calls for as many as 225 [store] closings."

The Bloomberg story also notes, "Fourth-quarter sales at stores open at least a year fell 7 percent, while sales from Staples.com gained 10 percent, the company said today."

Said Staples CEO Ron Sargent in a statement, "With nearly half of our sales generated online today, we’re meeting the changing needs of business customers and taking aggressive action to reduce costs and improve efficiency.”

Bloomberg says that Staples' shares on the stock market on Thursday, March 6, 2014, fell 15 percent to $11.35 at the close in New York for the biggest one-day decline since May 18, 2011. The stock has slid 29 percent this year, compared with a 1.6 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index."

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'Idol' Propels Fox to Nightly Ratings Win; No Growth for 'Survivor'; Two NBC Dramas Hit Series Lows

Two franchise reality shows on rival broadcast networks held their ground Wednesday night, with both "American Idol" and "Survivor" matching their results from a week ago, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. With "Idol" again delivering a 2.7 average in the demo, Fox claimed a win for prime time.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that CBS's "Survivor" delivered a 2.4 in viewers 18-49, matching the number for last week's season premiere. "Criminal Minds" increased the network's audience leading out of the reality franchise, rising 18% from a week ago to a 2.6. "CSI" drifted downward at 10 p.m., settling for a 1.7 -- off 15% from its most recent airing.

Third-place ABC got an improved performance from "Modern Family" -- a 3.3 average in 18-49 to come in as the highest-rated show of the night on broadcast prime. The show's rating was up 6% from a season low a week ago.

Most of the rest of the ABC lineup was also up from low numbers last week, with "The Middle" rising 12% from a season low a week ago to a 1.9 average in the 18-49 demo, while "Suburgatory" surged 21% from its series low to a 1.7 and "Nashville" rebounded by 8% from its season low to a 1.4. "Mixology" went against the uptrend, slipping 6% from its premiere a week ago to a 1.7.

NBC trailed the other big four broadcast nets, with its best number in adults 18-49 being a 1.6 average for "Law & Order: SVU," down 20% from a week ago. "Chicago PD" equaled its all-time low with a 1.5, while "Revolution" averaged a 1.3, also matching its historic low.

For prime time overall, Fox's 2.7 average was the best in viewers 18-49, followed by CBS (2.2 average), ABC (1.9), NBC (1.5) and Univision (1.1). Fox took a narrow win in total viewers, averaging 10.5 million to lead CBS (10.1 million), ABC (6.0 million), NBC (5.6 million) and Univision (2.7 million).

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TV Fixture Who Hosted a String of Game Shows Dead at 83

A television and radio veteran who hosted game shows including “Jackpot,” “Treasure Hunt” and "Shoot for the Stars" has died. Reuters reports that Geoff Edwards died Wednesday at 83 of complications from pneumonia.

His agent, Fred Westbrook, said the illness was sudden and that Edwards had recently been appearing on radio and writing a travel blog.

The report notes that Edwards was “known for his relaxed style, including wearing his hair longer than other hosts of the day." A native of Westfield, N.J., Edwards received a Daytime Emmy nomination in 1976 for hosting "Jackpot."

"He hosted both ‘Treasure Hunt’ and ‘The New Treasure Hunt,’ as it was known in the 1970s,” the story notes.

Edwards also acted, with a recurring role on the comedy series “Petticoat Junction” and an appearance on the final episode of “Trapper John, M.D.,” in which he played a game show host, the report adds. He also did guest spots on "That Girl," "I Dream of Jeannie," "Diff'rent Strokes," "Police Woman" and other series.

geoff edwards.pngGeoff Edwards

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Anchor Quits Her TV News Job While On-Air (Here's the Video)

A television news anchor suddenly announced she was quitting her job as she closed her broadcast Wednesday. CNN reports that American anchor Liz Wahl wrapped up her broadcast on the Kremlin-funded Russia Today network by resigning on-air.

Wahl talked about her family, who moved to America to escape Soviet forces in the 1965 Hungarian revolution, and growing up in a family with ties to the U.S. military.

“And that is why, personally, I cannot be part of a network funded by the Russian government that whitewashes the actions of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin," Wahl said.

"I'm proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth," she added. "And that is why, after this newscast, I'm resigning."

Russia Today called her resignation “nothing more than a self-promotional stunt” and said she would have been urged to quit “like a professional” if she couldn’t “address those grievances with the editor.”

Wahl denied she made the on-air resignation for personal gain. She said she decided to make the statement based on her conviction that “the propagandist nature of RT (had come) out in full force" during its coverage of the Ukraine crisis.

“RT is not about the truth; it's about promoting a Putinist agenda," Wahl told CNN. "And I can tell you firsthand, it's about bashing America."

Here's the clip of Wahl's resignation, which has gone viral on the Internet:

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A Show That Was Once a Ratings Juggernaut Finds Itself on the Bubble -- Again

A series that spent years at or near the top of the ratings charts now finds itself pulling in numbers so low that it is being counted among the current "bubble shows" -- series that are unsure about whether they will be renewed.

Medialife Magazine reports that the CBS comedy “Two and a Half Men” a ratings juggernaut up until a few seasons ago, finds itself on the bubble for renewal for a second year in a row. The show has hit series lows this year, following a ratings surge in 2011 when star Charlie Sheen had a falling out with creator Chuck Lorre. That conflict spurred interest in watching to see how Sheen’s character would be removed from the program, the piece notes.

“But since Ashton Kutcher stepped in for Sheen, ratings have been on a slow decline," the story reports. "That’s not surprising for a show that’s run this long, especially since all but one of the ‘men’ in the title have now departed. Angus T. Jones, who plays Jon Cryer’s son, is no longer a regular."

CBS last week moved the show from 9:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays, as it was concerned “The Crazy Ones” was crimping ratings. That seems to have helped somewhat, with “Men” last week improving its viewership.

“However, even if ‘Men’s’ ratings revive, it’s a very expensive show to produce," the report notes. "Kutcher and Cryer are the two highest-paid actors on television, and CBS could be spending that money to develop a show with better ratings."

The story adds: “Right now, there’s a slightly better than 50-50 chance the show will be renewed if ratings stay higher. But CBS will need to decide quickly if it is being axed to give writers a chance to wrap up the show properly in May.”

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Leah Remini Gets a TV Series

Leah Remini, the former “King of Queens” star who has been making headlines lately for her highly publicized break from the Church of Scientology, is getting a reality show on TLC, the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports.

The 12-episode series will track Remini at home, the network said.

“Leah is a no-nonsense, hard-working, relatable mom, wife, daughter, and sister. Her sharp humor and unfiltered family are a perfect match for the network,” Nancy Daniels, the network’s general manager, said in a statement. “This series continues our focus on creating compelling series about remarkable families, using heart and humor to anchor it to the TLC brand.”

Production started this week, with TLC planning a summer debut.

leah remini 2.pngLeah Remini

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Longtime TV and Film Producer Dies -- He Was a Winner at the First Emmy Awards

A writer and producer whose career in television and film spanned five decades -- and who won an Emmy Award in 1949 at the first Emmys ceremony -- has died.

Stanley Rubin, who was behind a string of TV shows including "General Electric Theater," “The Ghost & Mrs. Muir" and "Bracken's World,” died Sunday in his sleep at his Los Angeles home, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 96.

Rubin was a writer and producer on a program called "The Necklace," which won the Emmy for best film made for television in 1949 -- the first Emmy Awards. The show was the pilot episode of the NBC anthology series “Your Show Time.”

He also received an Emmy nomination in 1969 for the comedy series “The Ghost & Mrs. Muir,” which was based on a 1947 movie with the same title. The series, which starred Hope Lange and Edward Mulhare, aired for two seasons, the first on NBC and the second on ABC.

Rubin was also nominated for producing “Babe,” a 1975 telefilm starring Susan Clark as athlete Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias.

His other TV production credits include “Peck’s Bad Girl” in the late 1950s and the early 1970s series "The Man and the City," which starred Anthony Quinn and Mike Farrell. Rubin also produced feature films including “River of No Return,” which starred Marilyn Monroe, and “Francis in the Navy,” featuring Francis the Talking Mule.

stanley rubin.pngStanley Rubin

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ABC Series Returns to Grim Ratings News; CBS Drama Lineup Hits Bottom

An ABC drama series returned from hiatus to its lowest ratings ever Tuesday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo, while CBS's drama lineup also sank.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that ABC's "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." registered a preliminary 1.7 average rating, down 23% from the show's most recent original installment and an all-time low for the series.

The low number for "Marvel's" was part of a grim ratings night for ABC, although the network finished in a tie with Univision and Fox for third place in viewers 18-49 for prime time overall. "Trophy Wife" also sank to a series low with a 0.8 average in the demo, off 11% from its most recent episode. And "Mind Games" fell a troubling 45% from its premiere a week ago, tumbling all the way to a 0.6 average.

ABC's "The Goldbergs" scored a victory of sorts on a night of low points by holding steady with its most recent fresh installment, delivering a 1.6 average in 18-49.

CBS also had a rough night in the ratings, as its three drama series all found themselves at season lows or series lows in the key 18-49 demo, even as the network easily won the night in total viewers. "NCIS" hit a season low in 18-49, falling 8% from last week to a 2.4; "NCIS: Los Angeles" dipped to an all-time low with a 2.1, off 9%; and "Person of Interest" also fell to a series low, a 1.7, down 6%.

NBC, meanwhile, won broadcast prime time for the second consecutive night, mainly on the strength of "The Voice." The singing competition climbed 8% from a week ago in the 18-49 demo to come in as easily the top show of the night on broadcast with a 4.0 average in adults 18-49.

The rest of NBC prime was also mostly up, as "Chicago Fire" rose 6% from its season low a week ago to record a 1.9 average in 18-49, while "About a Boy" climbed 13% to a 2.6. "Growing Up Fisher" came through with another 2.0, matching the number for the re-airing of the pilot a week ago.

Fox had mixed results, as "Glee" fell 17% from last week to a 1.0 average in 18-49, "New Girl" rose 7% to a 1.5 and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" came in with another 1.3, the same as last week.

For prime time overall, NBC's 2.7 average was good enough to lead the 18-49 demo, followed by CBS (2.1 average), then Fox, Univision and ABC (all with 1.2 averages). CBS took the win in total viewers, averaging 14.2 million to lead NBC (9.8 million), ABC (3.5 million), Univision (3.0 million) and Fox (2.7 million).

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Why NBC Rejected David Janollari's Latest Project

David Janollari, a five-time Emmy nominee who has been behind a string of TV shows including "Six Feet Under" and "The Hughleys," has had his latest project turned down by NBC.

Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the Peacock Network is passing on the supernatural mystery project “Conception,” from producer Janollari and writer John Glenn.

The decision comes after NBC greenlighted the “Heroes: Reborn” miniseries, a reboot of its popular “Heroes” drama. “I hear NBC brass felt the two projects were too similar,” Andreeva writes.

The story adds: “Co-written by Glenn and Lars Jacobson, ‘Conception’ tracks a modern-day immaculate conception on a large scale. The show was to follow those few children that survived and how they’re destined to change the world.”

The piece also reports: “Being a big-swing, out-there concept, NBC in January opted to order backup scripts instead of a pilot to get a better grasp of the idea and how it would evolve.”

NBC ordered the “Heroes” reboot after that, the article notes.

It’s unclear whether Universal Television, the studio behind “Conception,” will look for another home for the drama, the report adds.

david janollari.jpgDavid Janollari

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Legendary Announcer for NPR's 'Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!' Stepping Away From the Mic

Fans of the NPR quiz show “Wait Wait... Don’t Tell Me!” will likely be disappointed to learn that one of the show's fixtures, veteran newsman Carl Kasell -- who serves as official judge and scorekeeper, along with being the show's announcer -- is retiring from the show, according to the Los Angeles Times’ Company Town.

Kasell, 79, will tape his final broadcast of the show this spring. The program is in its 16th year on the air and draws more than 3.8 million listeners per week.

“And whose autograph do they line up for after each show?" host Peter Sagal asked in a statement. “Carl’s. The 50-year-old computer programmers are in my line telling me C-plus-plus jokes, and the 20-something women are beside themselves posing for pictures with Carl.”

Kasell, who was the newscaster for NPR’s “Morning Edition” for 30 years, will still record custom voice mail greetings for winners on “Wait Wait” and will still sometimes appear on the show, the story notes.

“I can honestly say I am the luckiest man around to be able to have worked at a job I love for so many years," Kasell said in a statement. "It's truly been a joy for me.”

carl kasell.jpgCarl Kasell

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TNT Drama Finds Life After Neve Campbell, as an A-List Actress Steps In

A TNT legal drama is back on track after losing its lead actress. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the drama pilot "Guilt by Association” found a new lead to replace Neve Campbell, with Julia Stiles stepping up to take on the role.

Campbell, known for the TV series "Party of Five" and features including "The Craft" and "Scream," bailed out on the TNT show after apparently deciding she's not ready to return to series television, as we reported last month.

Stiles, whose extensive filmography includes a run on the Showtime series “Dexter” along with feature roles in "10 Things I Hat About You," "Mona Lisa Smile," "The Omen" (2006) and many other films, will star in the TNT drama, which is based on prosecutor Marcia Clark’s book by the same name, the story notes.

Stiles will play Rachel Knight, a deputy district attorney in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. The project also stars Elisabeth Rohm as LAPD Det. Bailey Keller and Rose Rollins as prosecutor Toni LaCollette.

Stiles’ character “sometimes operates outside the law in order to uphold it. As a member of the Special Trials Unit, Rachel is at her best when prosecuting society's worst,” the story notes.

The actress had multiple offers from broadcast and cable projects, the piece adds. On “Dexter,” she played Lumen, a role that earned her Golden Globe and Emmy nominations.

julia stiles.pngJulia Stiles

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John Travolta Opens Up About His Idina Menzel Flub at the Oscars -- as the Gaffe Spawns a Cottage Industry

John Travolta is speaking out for the first time about his flub of singer and actress Idina Menzel’s name at the Academy Awards ceremony, reports People magazine.

“I’ve been beating myself up all day," Travolta said in a statement Tuesday. "Then I thought, what would Idina Menzel say? She'd say, let it go, let it go!"

Travolta badly mispronounced Menzel's name during the ceremony, introducing her as something that sounded like “Adele Dazeem.” The mistake prompted the creation of the “Adele Dazeem Name Generator,” which invites you to “Travoltify Your Name.” The generator was posted on Slate.

Meanwhile, and predictably, video sites on the Internet have gone nuts over Travolta and Adele Dazeem, with, for example, countless YouTube videos popping up that mock the incident. (A search for "Adele Dazeem" would be one place to start.)

Menzel apparently found the error funny, according to People, which adds that she was too focused on her performance at the time to notice the mistake.

In case you missed it, or if you just can't get enough, here's the original -- Travolta butchering Menzel's name:

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Showtime Fixture Moves Up

A longtime TV executive who has played a major role in elevating Showtime's programming has just been elevated himself. B&C reports that David Nevins received a promotion to president of Showtime Networks, along with an extension of his contract through 2018.

His new role will include overseeing sports, marketing, creative and digital-media units, the piece notes. Since 2010, Nevins had served as entertainment president for Showtime.

“David Nevins is one of the most talented executives working in television today,” said Showtime Chairman and CEO Matthew C. Blank. “His arrival at Showtime was followed by an incredible period of renewal for our network, and these transformative years have led to critical acclaim, consistent buzz, subscriber growth and awards recognition.”

Under Nevins, the pay-TV network created shows such as “House of Lies” and “Shameless,” with both recently renewed. Nevins also greenlighted the shows “Homeland” and “Ray Donovan.”

david nevins.pngDavid Nevins

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'That '70s Show' Reunion -- and a Real-Life Love Connection -- Set for CBS Comedy Series

A real-life love connection, not to mention a reunion of two of the key players on "That '70s Show" -- is on tap for the CBS comedy “Two and a Half Men.”

EW.com’s Inside TV reports that the sitcom has cast Mila Kunis in a guest spot, creating an on-screen reunion for her and the show's star, Ashton Kutcher, who both starred in Fox's long-running comedy “That ‘70s Show.”

Kunis and Kutcher also have an off-screen relationship, with the pair recently getting engaged, as we reported a few days ago.

On “Two and a Half Men,” Kunis will play a free-spirited young woman named Vivian who connects with Kutcher’s Walden. Walden reportedly feels Vivian is “the one,” although he’s about to propose to another woman.

mila kunis 2.pngMila Kunis

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HBO Scraps Planned Drama Project -- Despite a Lineup of Big Players on Both Sides of the Camera

HBO is pulling the plug on what was shaping up as a high-profile drama project. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the pay-cable net won't be going forward with the pilot “The Money,” which starred Brendan Gleeson and co-starred Nathan Lane.

The project, written by David Milch and directed by Justin Chadwick, was about corruption among the super-rich, with Gleeson playing an American business mogul who uses his power to expand his media company, the story says.

Actors with recurring roles included Ray Liotta and Rosemary Harris.

“‘The Money’ marked Milch’s fifth consecutive pilot at HBO in one of the longest collaborations between a network and a creator,” the story notes. “Of the five, three -- ‘Deadwood,’ ‘John From Cincinnati’ and ‘Luck’ -- went to series,” Andreeva notes.

No reason was reported for the project not moving forward.

Brendan-Gleeson.jpgBrendan Gleeson

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CBS Drama Series Bringing In 'Eye-Popping Numbers' in the Aftermarket

CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves revealed that one of the network's current dramas is bringing in a whopping dollar figure in aftermarket sales. Writing in Variety, Brian Steinberg reports that Moonves said “Elementary” is getting $2.7 million per episode in the aftermarket, driven by exclusive licensing deals.

CBS has made deals with Hulu Plus and Tribune’s WGN America, with both to air the program after the show’s third season.

“'Elementary' is a great show and a very successful show, but it’s not a grand slam,” Moonves said at an investor conference. “Hulu Plus wanted to take it off the market in SVOD [subscription video on demand]. WGN wanted similar terms.”

Steinberg writes: “CBS Corp. is smaller than many of its rivals, such as NBCUniversal or 21st Century Fox, and so it relies more heavily on its ability to generate broad-viewership hits which then prove popular with syndicators and aftermarket vendors. The ability to keep a pipeline full of shows with potential for aftermarket pickup is one of the signs investors monitor when viewing CBS Corp.”

He adds: “This isn’t the first time the CBS chief has let slip eye-popping numbers for how much episodes of CBS shows generate from licensing deals. In December, he suggested Amazon was paying $700,000 per episode for the rights to stream last year’s first season of ‘Under the Dome.’”

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'Will & Grace' Creators Get Order for Their New Comedy Project

David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, creators of the big NBC hit "Will & Grace," have received a go-ahead for their new project. TheWrap.com reports that TBS has ordered the comedy pilot.

"The ensemble comedy revolves around a group of kids from high school, who ran in different circles, but now all work together at a local Charlestown, Mass., barbershop called 'Buzzy’s,'" the story reports. "Their dreams may lie across the Charles River in Boston, but for now, their work, their lives, their loves and their worries remain in the town they grew up in."

The project was formerly known as "Clipsters" but is currently untitled, according to media reports.

The script will be written by Kohan and Mutchnick, who are also executive producing.

max mutchnick-left-and david kohan.pngMax Mutchnick, left, and David Kohan

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Monday Prime: NBC Back on Top as ABC Series Notches Historic Low

NBC found its way back to the top of the prime-time ratings in a big way Monday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo, even with "The Voice" slipping a bit from a week earlier.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the two-hour "The Voice" came in with a 4.5 average rating in viewers 18-49, off 4% from a week ago. Leading out from it, NBC's "The Blacklist" also shed viewers, notching a 2.7 -- off 13% -- but NBC still racked up an easy win over its broadcast competition.

Second-place CBS was mixed, with "How I Met Your Mother" slipping 8% from a week ago to a 3.3 average in the 18-49 demo. "2 Broke Girls" rose 4% to a 2.6, "Mike and Molly" ticked up 5% to a 2.2 and "Mom" climbed 5% from last week's series low to a 2.0. The 10 p.m. drama "Intelligence" held steady with a 1.2.

ABC saw its 10 p.m. drama "Castle" sink to an all-time low with a 1.6 average in 18-49 -- 6% below last week's number. The Alphabet Network got a 2.2 out of its 90-minute "The Bachelor," down 12%.

Fox's season finale of "Almost Human" settled for a 1.5 average in adults 18-49, off 6% from a week ago, while "The Following" rose 6% from last week's series low to a 1.7.

For prime time overall, NBC was well ahead of the pack in the 18-49 demo with a 3.9 average, followed by CBS (2.1 average), ABC (1.8), Fox (1.6) and Univision (1.1). NBC also had a big advantage in total viewers with 14.1 million, leading CBS (7.6 million), ABC (7.3 million), Fox (5.3 million) and Univision (2.7 million).

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Happy Ending to One of Oscar Night's Most Fun Stories: The Pizza Delivery Guy Gets His Tip -- Here's the Video

A pizza guy who found himself at the center of one of Oscar night's most entertaining stories belatedly got his tip -- during an appearance on "Ellen."

"When Edgar Martirosyan got the call to deliver pizza to Hollywood's Dolby Theatre during Sunday night's Academy Awards, he thought he was bringing dinner to some writers. Then he found himself onstage with host Ellen DeGeneres, in front of 43 million viewers at home," the San Jose Mercury News reports.

"After passing out slices to some of Hollywood's biggest stars, he seemed to walk away without a tip. DeGeneres admitted, 'I don't have any money,' and Sandra Bullock gave a shrug."

Martirosyan, the co-owner of Big Mama's and Papa's Pizzeria, reportedly was gone by the time the Oscars host -- with much fanfare -- passed a Pharrell-style hat among the A-list crowd, collecting what DeGeneres says was about $600.

Martirosyan made his way Monday to DeGeneres' daytime talk show, where DeGeneres dug into her own pocket to round it up to "about $1,000," she said.

The pizza man talked on the show about how DeGeneres surprised him on Oscar night and he unexpectedly wound up on stage. Here's a short clip:

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Reality TV Personalities Face Possible Jail Terms

Two reality personalities are looking at the possibility of up to two years in jail after reaching a plea agreement in a fraud case. Deadline.com reports that "Real Housewives of New Jersey" couple Teresa Giudice and Giuseppe “Joe” Giudice entered guilty pleas today to four fraud charges against them.

"As a part of a plea agreement with New Jersey’s U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, the reality TV duo could face up to 2 years in jail for the mortgage and bankruptcy fraud charges when they are sentenced on July 8," the story reports. "The 'Housewives' cast members were first indicted last July on dozens of federal charges that potentially could have put them behind bars for decades and having to pay millions in fines. Under federal guidelines, which government lawyers have indicated they want to fully pursue, Joe Giudice now faces a potential sentence of 37 to 46 months while Teresa could get 21 to 27 months behind bars."

In a statement after the hearing, Teresa Giudice said: “I am heartbroken that this is affecting my family. Especially my four young daughters, who mean more to me than anything in the world. I have said throughout that I respect the legal process and thus, I intend to address the court directly at sentencing. I will describe the choices I made, continue to take responsibility for my decision, and express my remorse to Judge Salas and the public.”

Bravo wasn't talking when asked for a comment about the plea deal or whether the couple could be expected back for season six of "Real Housewives," the report notes. The couple has been a part of the show since the first season of the New Jersey incarnation in 2009.

"The bulk of the initial 39 charges filed last year ... which the duo previously [pleaded] not guilty to, stem from false income statements on loan and mortgage documents and failure to file tax returns before the Garden State version of the reality TV franchise debuted in May 2009," the article reports. "More charges were added in November of last year, which the couple also [pleaded] not guilty to. The fifth season of 'The Real Housewives of New Jersey' ended on September 29 last year with the reunion show airing in early October."

Thumbnail image for joe and teresa giudice.jpgJoe and Teresa Giudice

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Has It Really Been Almost 34 Years Since We First Heard Carl Sagan Intone 'Billions and Billions of Stars' ...? Well, Guess What: It's Coming Back to TV

The show where famed astronomer Carl Sagan first made the phrase "billions and billions of (fill in the blank)" a part of popular culture is coming back to TV.

Sagan was usually referring to stars -- or galaxies -- when he spoke the phrase, but it was subsequently adopted in countless variations over the years, often with the speaker mimicking Sagan in a Johnny Carson-like voice. Now, the original version can be heard firsthand as part of a special marathon presentation of Sagan's legendary series, "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage," this weekend on National Geographic Channel.

The event is part of the runup to the channel's launch of its new series "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey." All 13 episodes of the original Sagan program, which premiered in September 1980, will air on Nat Geo Saturday and Sunday (noon-6 p.m. Saturday and noon-7 p.m. Sunday), followed by the premiere of "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, hosted by astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, this Sunday, March 9, from 9-10 p.m. across multiple U.S. Fox networks.

The company announced that participating networks will be Fox Broadcasting, National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, FX, FXX, FXM, FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2 and FOX Life.

Please click here to see a full schedule of individual episodes for the Sagan series, along with additional details about both the original program and the new series, in the full press release from Nat Geo.

carl sagan.pngCarl Sagan

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CNN Finally Has Some Ratings News It Can Brag About

It's been a long dry spell for CNN when it comes to good ratings news, but the cable news channel finally has something it can call a win.

Deadline.com reports that the channel's media-focused show "Reliable Sources," with ex-New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter newly installed as anchor, beat its competition on Fox News Channel, "MediaBuzz."

Sunday's installment of "Reliable Sources" edged "MediaBuzz" by 21,000 viewers in the key 25-54 news demo, the piece reports.

"'Reliable Sources'‘ 193,000 demo viewers put it 21,000 viewers ahead of 'MediaBuzz' at 11 a.m.; in overall audience, 'MediaBuzz' (881,000 viewers), helmed by former 'Reliable Sources' host Howard Kurtz, enjoyed a big advantage over 'RS' (384,000) as has his show every week," the story notes.

This isn't the first time the CNN program has edged its FNC rival in the key demo. The report notes that it's the third time since Kurtz debuted his show in September. But this was the first demo win for "RS" since Stelter took over for Kurtz.

"Kurtz still typically doubles Stelter in demo and nearly triples him in total viewers -- hence, today’s headlines," the report adds.

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Turns Out the Rift Between the Writer and Director of '12 Years a Slave' Is for Real -- Here's What's Behind the Friction Surrounding This Year's Best Picture Winner

It turns out it wasn't your imagination if you thought you sensed a little tension between "12 Years a Slave" director Steve McQueen and screenwriter John Ridley at Sunday's Oscars ceremony. Both men picked up trophies -- Ridley for best adapted screenplay and McQueen as one of the producers of the Best Picture winner -- and as we reported previously, they each failed to thank the other in their acceptance speeches.

Additionally, McQueen was caught on camera appearing to be unenthusiastic as he "slow-clapped" while Ridley made his way to the stage for his speech.

Others noticed the friction as well. TheWrap.com noted that Ridley "won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay on Sunday and did not thank the director in his acceptance speech, striding past him on his way to the podium but pausing to hug director David O. Russell. Some observers interpreted McQueen’s unsmiling applause as half-hearted."

The report adds: "McQueen later took the microphone at the end of the evening when '12 Years a Slave' won Best Picture, and made no mention of the writer. While McQueen lost the Best Director award to Alfonso Cuaron ('Gravity'), he was one of five producers to win Best Picture for 'Slave' along with Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Anthony Katagas."

TheWrap dug into the story and unearthed the source of the conflict between McQueen and Ridley. Long before Oscars night, the two men were "embroiled in a bitter feud regarding credit for the film’s Oscar-winning screenplay, a fight they kept quiet for the good of the campaign before it came to a head Sunday night at the Dolby Theatre," TheWrap reports. "Ridley turned down McQueen’s request for shared screenplay credit, TheWrap has learned."

The story adds: "Apparently, the bad blood between McQueen and Ridley has persisted for some time. McQueen has paid respect to Ridley’s contribution in interviews, though he has never been effusive in his praise, not that McQueen often is (outside of Michael Fassbender). An individual familiar with the frosty situation tells TheWrap that McQueen has iced Ridley out to the point of rudeness -- he barred people from speaking to Ridley and insisted that the writer be seated at separate tables at awards shows late in the season, including the BAFTAs."

Speaking of the BAFTAs -- the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards -- it gets worse. "That’s where McQueen berated Ridley’s wife while the writer was in the bathroom, trying to snatch up her BAFTA souvenirs and leaving her in tears, according to two insiders who passed along details of the outburst," the story reports.

“12 Years a Slave” was the big winner at the BAFTAs, the report notes, "and McQueen failed to thank Ridley during his acceptance speech. That was no oversight, since McQueen read his prepared speech off a piece of paper. Additionally, at the Golden Globes, McQueen didn’t thank Ridley until another producer whispered in his ear and reminded him to pay his respects, if only to prevent the media from speculating about the growing rift."

TheWrap article goes into more of the backstory, reporting: "McQueen tapped Ridley to work on a separate slavery-themed project that eventually led to '12 Years a Slave' after McQueen’s wife discovered the book, which Ridley subsequently agreed to adapt on spec. McQueen had a hand in shaping the script that Ridley turned in, but when he asked the writer for shared credit -- not uncommon in Hollywood -- Ridley politely declined, an individual with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap.

"McQueen was nonplussed and appealed to Fox Searchlight, which ultimately sided with Ridley. Brad Pitt, who produced 'Slave' and plays a small role in the film, was even forced to step in at one point and mediate."

The report notes that McQueen was able to keep his anger to a simmer for the well-being of the movie -- at least until Oscars night.

"McQueen begrudgingly agreed to hold his tongue for the sake of the movie," the story notes. "He, Ridley, Pitt and Fox Searchlight executives all knew what was at stake -- and how easily a Best Picture win could slip through their fingers if public discord leaked to the media."

The strategy paid off. While McQueen lost out for Best Director, "12 Years a Slave" came away with three Oscars, including Best Picture.

Steve McQueen-Director.jpgSteve McQueen

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First Female Exec Producer of 'NBC Nightly News' Exits the Network

A producer who spent almost 37 years at NBC News and was the first woman to serve as executive producer of “NBC Nightly News” is leaving the company. JimRomenesko.com reports that Cheryl Gould is headed out.

In a farewell note, Gould wrote, “I’m old enough to have had a wonderful career, and young enough to be excited about plotting a new course.”

She added, “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. I’ve seen election nights that I thought would never end. Interviews with Marcos, Mubarak, Mitterrand, Mikhail, and Maggie. The fall of communism. The rise of dot.coms. The end of Basys, Hurley’s, wire machine clatter and cigars in the newsroom. The start of start-ups, selfies, news branding, and 'likes.' I’ve lived through sixteen offices, nine news presidents, three corporate owners. And one new commissary.”

She continued, “I remember the Paris bureau’s old phone number: 359-11-71. I remember when there was a Paris bureau.”

Gould wrote that she decided to leave NBC after a friend asked her what she was going to do with her “QTR.” She asked her friend what the acronym stood for: “Quality Time Remaining,” she learned.

Gould added: “Yes, I’ve enjoyed a fine career, proudly done the woman pioneer thing, spent years helping to shape news reporting, but what about those tomorrows? Why not think about what would inspire me and what contributions I could make in the years ahead?"

“It wasn’t easy for me last fall when I told [NBC News President] Deborah [Turness] that I had decided to cut the cord, but I knew it was the right thing to do and the right time to do it,” she wrote.

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'Star Wars' Actor, Game Show Host and Sochi Gold Medalists on Board as New 'DWTS' Lineup Is Unveiled

ABC has taken the wraps off the lineup of celebrity competitors for Season 18 of "Dancing with the Stars," and one of the crowd pleasers on the roster is likely to be 76-year-old actor Billy Dee Williams -- known as Lando Calrissian in the "Star Wars" universe.

Also in the lineup, fresh off a gold medal at the Sochi Winter Olympics, are Charlie White and Meryl Davis, the first U.S. gold medalists in ice dancing -- who will now have to compete against each other instead of dancing as partners.

Comedian Drew Carey, whose other high-profile TV gig is as the host of "The Price Is Right," will also be in the competition.

The lineup features a contingent of sports figures, including 61-year-old swimmer Diana Nyad, former hockey bad boy Sean Avery and snowboarder Amy Purdy, a double amputee.

From the music world come Cody Simpson, who at 17 is the youngest competitor on the show, and James Maslow, 23, of the boy band Big Time Rush.

Two former child stars will be on hand: Danica McKellar of "The Wonder Years" and Candace Cameron Bure of "Full House." And "Real Housewives of Atlanta's" NeNe Leakes is indeed on board, confirming speculation that she was headed to "DWTS."

billy dee williams.pngBilly Dee Williams

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Uh-Oh: Fox Shuffles Drama Series to Friday Night

Fox has made the decision to move a drama series to Friday night -- never an encouraging sign for a show struggling to find an audience.

The show is the new series “Rake,” starring Greg Kinnear. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the drama series “has faced the inevitable” after failing to draw viewers, and will be moved to Fridays starting next week.

The move comes after the show hit a new series low with a 0.8 average rating in adults 18-49 last week, the piece notes. The show has been airing on Thursdays.

Fox will instead air “Hell’s Kitchen” on Thursdays, bringing the reality competition to the 8 p.m. time slot and providing a lead-in for the “American Idol” results show.

“Rake” will replace “Kitchen Nightmares” on Fridays, with the latter show on hold to air later, the story notes. “Rake” will be followed by “Enlisted” and “Raising Hope.”

The legal drama “never connected with viewers. It got off to a soft start, logging a 1.7 in its Jan. 23 debut, and wasn’t helped by the fact that it had to face three weeks of Olympics coverage two weeks into its run,” Andreeva notes.

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Can a One-Hit Wonder From the '90s Carry a Whole Series? VH1 Is Betting on It

VH1 has ordered a series centered around a 1990s one-hit wonder. TheWrap.com reports that the show marks a return to public life for Gerardo Mejia -- who went by simply "Gerardo" when he had his big 1990 hit "Rico Suave."

The cable channel gave a 10-episode order to the half-hour reality show, the report notes. The series has the working title “Suave Says,” and is set to debut later this year.

After his hit and some minor follow-ups ran their course in the early 1990s, Mejia “apparently went on to become a music executive, marry a beauty queen and build a family," the story reports. "The series will follow the music exec, who helped usher Enrique Iglesias and others’ careers, as he and wife Kathy run their family."

“I can’t wait for VH1’s audience to meet my wild family,” said Mejia. “We’re like Ricky and Lucy but with a handful of crazy kids trying to run my casa.”

In case you've forgotten -- and on the odd chance that you would like your memory jogged -- here's the video of "Rico Suave":

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'Daily Show with Jon Stewart' Signs Up New Correspondent

Comedy Central's “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” has added a new correspondent. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the show brought aboard Upright Citizens Brigade regular Jordan Klepper.

Klepper appeared on "The Daily Show" Monday evening, being introduced by Stewart as the show's "new senior Caucasian correspondent."

The addition comes a few months after longtime “Daily Show” correspondent John Oliver left to create his own HBO series, which is slated to debut April 27.

Klepper performed with New York City’s Upright Citizens Brigade for three years.

Here's a video featuring Klepper's appearance on Monday's "Daily Show":

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First Winner of NBC's 'The Apprentice' Gets His Own Show

The winner of the first installment of Donald Trump's NBC reality show "The Apprentice" will resurface with his own show. TheWrap.com reports that reality regular Bill Rancic will host a cooking series on the Food Network.

Called “Kitchen Casino,” the show will ask contestants to participate in casino-style competitions based on roulette, poker and slot machines.

“In the first round, the competing chefs take a spin on the Kitchen Casino Slot Machine to reveal three categories -- cuisine, ingredient and theme -- which they must employ while making their dishes for the 30-minute round,” the story notes.

The second round will focus on the roulette wheel, with contestants working at stations that spin and chefs judging the dish that ends up in front of them, the story notes. The third round will focus on poker, with contestants dealt a card that asks them to incorporate an ingredient into their dish.

Rancic was hired by Trump at the conclusion of "The Apprentice 1" in 2004. Since then he has hosted the A&E reality show "We Mean Business" and appeared along with his wife, Giuliana Rancic, on the E! reality show "Giuliana and Bill."

bill rancic.pngBill Rancic

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MSNBC's Newest Hosts Have a Rough First Week

It was a bad opening week for MSNBC’s two newest hosts. TVNewser.com reports that the numbers for the first week for both Ronan Farrow and Joy Reid add up to a “tough debut week,” with both shows losing viewers when compared with a year earlier.

Farrow’s ratings were worse than Reid’s, with “Ronan Farrow Daily” drawing the lowest total viewers in the key news demo of viewers 25-54 out of all of MSNBC’s shows on Wednesday and Friday. Across the week, the show averaged 243,000 total viewers and 55,000 viewers in the demographic.

When compared with “Andrea Mitchell Reports” from a year earlier, Farrow’s ratings were down 40% in total viewers and 42% in the demographic, the story notes.

“With Farrow as a lead-in, Joy Reid’s Monday debut drew just 38,000 A25-54 demo viewers, the lowest demo for the entire network that day. On Wednesday, Reid drew the second-lowest demo for the network with 56,000 viewers,” the piece notes.

Overall, “The Reid Report” drew 286,800 total viewers and 63,200 viewers in the demo.

joy reid.pngJoy Reid

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Netflix Exec Reveals Why the Deal With Comcast Had to Be Done -- It's All About 'Choke Points'

Netflix Chief Financial Officer David Wells told attendees at an investor conference that the company’s deal to pay Comcast for improved broadband service was necessary because “there were some choke points around peak usage times,” Deadline.com reports.

The deal will “shore up the long-term subscriber experience,” Wells said at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference.

Some investors are worried the agreement could prove costly for Netflix, but Wells downplayed those concerns, according to the report. The executive said the expense won’t change the company’s profit margin forecast for the year, the story reports.

Wells added that the amount Netflix is paying Comcast is “incremental,” and that he’s not concerned that other broadband providers will ask for bigger payments. “We’re not going to be interested in doing anything that will meaningfully change the economics,” he said.

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Broadcasters Find an Important Ally in Their Battle With Aereo

Broadcasters who are locked in a legal battle with the Internet video streaming company Aereo have found a key ally: the Department of Justice.

The Los Angeles Times’ Company Town reports that the department filed a brief Monday at the Supreme Court, stating that the DoJ views Aereo as “clearly infringing” on the copyrights of broadcasters. The brief said a lower court ruling that found the service legal should be overturned.

That ruling, from the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, will be considered next month when the Supreme Court hears the broadcasters’ appeal, the story reports.

“The Justice Department siding with broadcasters is the second big win for the industry in the last few weeks. Last month, a federal court in Utah sided with broadcasters and said Aereo will have to shut down its operations there and in Colorado,” the publication notes.

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ABC Crime Drama Gaining Momentum -- Actors From 'Deadwood' and 'The Shield' Are Now on Board, and the Writer and EP Just Won an Oscar

A drama project at ABC has added two cast members, on the heels of a big night at the Oscars for the show's writer and executive producer.

Deadline.com reports that the network's pilot “American Crime,” which is written and executive produced by “12 Years a Slave” writer John Ridley, has cast “The Shield” actor Benito Martinez and “Deadwood's" W. Earl Brown."

The project “centers on the racially charged murder of a war veteran and the subsequent trial, which are examined through the personal lives of the players involved,” the story notes.

Martinez will portray a widower named Alonzo, whose son is accused of the crime. The actor is slated for an arc on “House of Cards” and had a recurring role on “Sons of Anarchy.” Brown, meanwhile, will portray the father of Lily, the wife of the murdered veteran, the story says.

Ridley won an Oscar for his screenplay for “12 Years a Slave” during Sunday’s Academy Awards presentation.

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CBS's New Vince Gilligan-David Shore Series Lands 'X-Men' Director

“X-Men” director Bryan Singer will direct and executive produce the new straight-to-series CBS project written by “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan and “House” creator David Shore, Nellie Andreeva reports at Deadline.com.

"Battle Creek" marks the second straight-to-series project for Singer, who directed the pilot for Shore’s hit Fox drama “House,” the story notes. He’s also executive producing ABC’s “Black Box.”

The CBS project is about Det. Russ Agnew, played by Dean Winters, and FBI agent Milton Chamberlain, who have different outlooks on life but work together against criminals in Battle Creek, Mich.

Shore will serve as showrunner, and executive produce along with Gilligan, Singer and Mark Johnson.

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Despite Fun Super Bowl Ad, RadioShack Reports Dismal Quarterly Results, Will Close More Than 1,000 Stores. Where Will We Go to Find That Special Gizmo That Only RadioShack Seems to Carry? It's Our Non-TV Story of the Day

RadioShack has announced plans "to close 1,100 of its 4,000 stores in a bid to stem [financial] losses," reports TechCrunch.com.

The story adds: "The parts drawer. The RC toys. The various different types of solder and breadboards. RadioShack. It is quickly dying."

Today, March 4, 2014, "RadioShack reported a loss of $191.4 million during [the fourth quarter of 2013], compared with a year-earlier loss of $63.3 million," the story says, adding, "Revenue declined 20% to just $935.4 million."

The article also says: "The company is currently trying to rebrand itself from its former DIY self to what it calls 'Do It Together.' But RadioShack is on borrowed time.

"RadioShack has long been a retailer without a soul. About 10 years ago it turned away from the then-dead DIY scene and started hawking cell phones. As a staple in the American mall, this kept the company afloat but clearly didn’t set the stage for long-term growth."

The reports notes: "The no-name RC toys do not have a spot under this retail plan and the parts drawer is a relic of a forgotten era."

Here's the RadioShack Super Bowl commercial that was very well received last month:


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If You Signed Up With Dish TV Primarily Because Dish Conveniently Allows You to Skip Commercials, Here's Some Bad News

Satellite TV provider Dish TV, which has touted its consumer-friendly ad-skipping technology for several years, will discontinue part of that service.

In an agreement Dish has signed with The Walt Disney Company, "Dish will disable AutoHop functionality for ABC content within the C3 ratings window," the satellite company announced. The announcement says the Disney properties affected by the deal include ABC, ABC Family, the ESPN networks and ABC's eight TV stations that it owns.

The C3 ratings period covers the first three days a program is out in the marketplace.

Up until now Dish has touted its ad-skipping technology as a feature that you, the consumer, "will love and the networks hate."

Here is how Dish talks about AutoHop on its website:

Hopper’s newest feature, Autohop, allows users who are watching Primetime Anytime recordings to completely skip commercials! When you start watching a Primetime Anytime recording, you'll be allowed to choose (via an on-screen pop-up window) whether or not to skip commercials.

Skipping commercials puts YOU in control of your experience! Watch your favorite sitcoms in 21 minutes, and hour-long dramas in just 43! You can use Autohop on Primetime Anywhere recordings, starting as soon as four hours after the shows have ended! The Hopper logo will appear on all Primetime Anywhere recordings where Autohop is available.

Call us today and start taking advantage of this amazing technology that you will love -- and the networks hate. Take control of your TV with DISH!

Disney, along with other networks, has sued Dish over AutoHop. In its announcement about the Disney deal Dish also says, "The agreement will result in dismissal of all pending litigation between the two companies, including disputes over PrimeTime Anytime and AutoHop."

Furthermore, according to the announcement, "The extensive and expanded distribution agreement grants Dish rights to stream cleared linear and video-on-demand content from the ABC-owned broadcast stations, ABC Family, Disney Channel, ESPN and ESPN2, as part of an Internet delivered, IP-based multichannel offering.

"Additionally, for the first time, Dish customers will be able to access Disney’s authenticated live and video-on-demand products, including WatchESPN, WATCH Disney, WATCH ABC Family and WATCH ABC using Internet devices in the home and on the go."

Dish AutoHop.pngBye-bye Dish TV's AutoHop, at least for some of the programs Dish shows

 

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ABC and the Oscars Steamroll the Competition: The Other Big 4 Broadcast Nets Finish in a Distant Three-Way Tie

ABC's big night keeps getting bigger, with numbers for Sunday's Academy Awards telecast ticking upward as new results come in. The latest we have is from TVbytheNumbers.com, which reports that ABC pulled off a dominant win in prime time, based on Nielsen overnights.

In the key 18-49 demo, ABC averaged a 10.2 rating for prime time, with Fox, NBC and CBS each settling for a 1.0 while Univision trailed with a 0.6 average. ABC averaged a whopping 35.155 million total viewers, amassing an enormous lead over CBS (5.405 million), NBC (3.735 million), Fox (2.294 million) and Univision (1.884 million).

The Oscars telecast itself piled up a 12.9 average rating in the 18-49 demo from 8:30-11:41 p.m., up 7% from the preliminary number for the broadcast a year ago -- but down 1% from last year's final figure of 13.0.

Results for ABC's 90 minutes of prime-time pre-Oscars coverage were mixed: "Oscars Red Carpet Live!" delivered a 5.3 average in adults 18-49 for the 7 p.m. half-hour, ticking up 6% from the preliminary number last year, while the 7:30 half-hour rose to a 6.8 (up 1% from a year ago), but the 9.1 for the 8 p.m. half-hour represented a dip of 1% from last year.

Fox and NBC ran up the white flag early, airing all-repeat programming in prime time. CBS made a half-hearted attempt, putting up a fresh "60 Minutes" (1.4 average in 18-49 at 7 p.m., up 8% from a week ago) and "The Amazing Race" (1.5 average, equaling last week's series low) before rolling out repeats for prime time's final two hours.

The Los Angeles Times notes that the audience for Sunday's 86th Academy Awards, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, was the program's biggest in 10 years, and was up 6% from the Seth MacFarlane-hosted event a year ago, which averaged 40.4 million total viewers.

"The viewership record for the Oscars was set in 1998, when the gala drew 55.3 million people," the Times report notes. "That was the year the blockbuster 'Titanic' won 11 Oscars, including the award for best picture."

Total audience last night was reportedly up for the third consecutive year.

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ABC's Oscars Telecast Pulls Off a Feat NBC's Olympics Couldn't Do -- in Three Tries

ABC's broadcast Sunday night of the Academy Awards accomplished a feat that NBC's telecast of the Olympics was unable to do on three consecutive Sundays. Deadline.com reports that the Oscars beat AMC's juggernaut "The Walking Dead" in the ratings, going head-to-head.

The zombie drama pulled a 6.4 average rating in the key 18-49 at 9 p.m. Sunday night, along with 8.1 million viewers in the demo, the piece reports. That fell 46% short of the Oscars' 12.0 average rating and 15.245 million demo viewers during the hour, based on preliminary fast nationals.

In total viewers, "The Walking Dead" didn't even come close against the Oscars -- the program that is traditionally the most-watched telecast of the year after the Super Bowl. "Walking Dead" averaged 12.6 million total viewers, to 40.091 million for the Oscars from 9-10 p.m.

Spanning more than three hours, the Oscars averaged 43.0 million viewers overall.

"On February 23, 'The Walking Dead' pulled in 6.6 rating with 8.4 million viewers in the demo against the Closing Ceremony of the Sochi Winter Games," the report notes. "Head-to-head with 'Walking Dead' in the time slot, the end of the Sochi Olympics pulled in a 3.2 rating with 4.09 million viewers in the key demo."

The NBC telecast of the Closing Ceremony averaged 15.21 million total viewers in the 9 p.m. hour and 15.3 million for its full run from 8:30-10:30 p.m., the report notes, adding: "The Sochi finale was the lowest-rated Winter Olympics ender ever for a Games that also hit historic lows among adults 18-49."

"The Walking Dead" also beat NBC's Olympics the previous two Sundays, Feb. 9 and 17, in the key demo, the report notes.

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Movie Trailer Gets Viacom, NBCU and ESPN Fined $1.9 Million by the FCC -- Here's the Trailer

The Federal Communications Commission is calling for fines totaling $1.9 million against the TV companies Viacom, NBCUniversal and ESPN, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq. The problem surrounds a trailer the companies aired about a year ago, in March 2013, for the feature film "Olympus Has Fallen." The spot can be seen below.

"The trouble with the film's advertisement, according to the FCC, is that it contained sounds reminiscent of the 'Emergency Alert System,' a national public warning system," THR reports. "The FCC says that 'frivolous, casual, or other uses of EAS Tones for reasons other than their defined purpose can desensitize viewers to the tones and thereby undermine the effectiveness of the system in the event of an actual emergency.'"

The companies have reportedly admitted airing the commercials with the EAS tones, but have challenged whether they're liable, citing Section 325(a) of the Communications Act of 1934.

"The media regulatory agency wants to punish Viacom in the amount of $1.12 million for 57 airings of the commercial, NBCU in the amount of $530,000 for 33 airings and ESPN in the amount of $280,000 for 13 airings," the story reports.

The article adds: "According to the FCC's notes about the $1.9 million fine, word was circulating in the television industry by March 6 about the EAS Tones in the 'Olympus Has Fallen' trailer. The following day, the matter had been brought to the attention of the MPAA, the National Cable Telecommunications Association and the National Association of Broadcasters. NBC says that with one exception, it stopped running the commercial that day."

The FCC said: "The Companies argue that it was clear from the context that the 'No Surrender Trailer' was an advertisement for a movie, and that no viewer could reasonably interpret the tones heard therein as related to an actual emergency," according to the report. But the agency adds that "enforcement of Section 325(a) of the Act is not conditioned on proof of deception or harm."

Here's the trailer:

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Matthew Perry to Reunite With His Former Co-Star

Actor Matthew Perry will be reunited with an actress who was his co-star on a former sitcom. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that former "Go On” actress Sarah Baker will join Perry in the CBS reboot of “The Odd Couple."

The slob Oscar Madison, played by Perry, will have an assistant named Samantha, played by Baker. Sam spends much of her time apologizing to people who have been offended by Madison’s rants, the story notes. Even though she has tact, she has a major downside: She has no short-term memory, the story notes.

On “Go On,” Baker co-starred as Sonia, a member of a support group that was joined by Perry’s character. Sonia was grieving over her cat’s death.

sarah baker.pngSarah Baker

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Late-Night Show Has Its Best Numbers Ever

One late-night show appeared to get a big boost from Sunday night's high-rated coverage of the Academy Awards on ABC. Jimmy Kimmel's post-Oscars edition of his ABC late-night show delivered the best ratings ever for a "Jimmy Kimmel Live" program, ABC reported.

Airing from 12:42-1:37 a.m., the ninth annual "Jimmy Kimmel Live -- After the Oscars" saw its numbers rise for the third consecutive year and grew by double digits in total viewers (+22%: 6.993 million vs. 5.736 million) and adults 18-49 (+20%: 2.423 million vs. 2.026 million), based on Nielsen True Fast Nationals.

"Among all 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' broadcasts, Sunday’s post-Oscar show delivered the ABC late-night program’s best numbers ever for any single-day telecast in either late-night or prime time in both total viewers (6.993 million) and adults 18-49 (2.423 million)," the network announced.

ABC also noted: "In each of the Top 3 U.S. Markets (New York, Los Angeles and Chicago), 'JKL: After the Oscars' outperformed the final telecast of NBC’s 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno' (on 2/6/14) and the post-Olympics debut of 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon' (on 2/17/14) in both Households and Adults 18-49."

Kevin Spacey, the star of Netflix's "House of Cards" and a two-time Oscar winner, was a guest on the show.

jimmy kimmel.jpgJimmy Kimmel

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Oscar Winner Bailing Out on TV Job

After picking up an Academy Award Sunday night, one of the biggest stars of the movies' biggest night made some TV news.

Variety reports that Matthew McConaughey, who won an Oscar for his lead performance in “Dallas Buyers Club," said during a backstage interview session at the awards ceremony that he won’t be returning to HBO’s “True Detective."

“No, I won’t be back for season two. Season one was finite,” the actor said when asked about a potential return.

On the critically acclaimed HBO series, McConaughey plays Detective Rust Cohle, who works with Detective Martin Hart, played by Woody Harrelson, to track down a murderer.

matthew mcconaughey.pngMatthew McConaughey

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Comedian Arrested After Passing Out on Casino Floor

A popular comedian who has starred in a series of TV shows -- with a new one set to premiere this week -- was arrested late last week in Canada. TMZ.com reports that George Lopez was arrested for public intoxication after he passed out on a casino floor.

Lopez, who had performed at the Caesars Windsor in Ontario earlier that night before he passed out on the floor of the casino's bar, isn’t facing charges, the story reports. He was “pretty much dumped in a drunk tank to let him sober up,” the piece notes.

The comedian later said in a statement that he “tied one on last night,” according to the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker.

“Not feeling great this morning. I was trying to sleep it off, unfortunately, it was on the casino floor," the statement said.

The arrest came just days before Lopez’ “Saint George” is set to debut March 6. The FX show features Lopez as a recently divorced Mexican-American who seeks to balance work and family life.

Lopez starred in "The George Lopez Show" on ABC from 2002-2007, and hosted TBS's "Lopez Tonight" from 2009-2011.

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Wow, Really?!!? Here's Who Got Left Out of Oscars 'In Memoriam' Segment (and a Review of Some Noteworthy Snubs of Past Years)

Several noteworthy names were left out of this year’s “In Memoriam” segment at the Oscars, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Among the snubs, the story reports, were “Glee” star Cory Monteith and “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” star James Avery.

The segment did give a nod to many stars and celebrities who passed away in the past year, including Harold Ramis, Philip Seymour Hoffman, James Gandolfini, Shirley Temple Black, Tom Sherak and Roger Ebert, the story notes.

The piece also acknowledged Sarah Jones, a camera assistant who died when she was struck by a train during pre-production on “Midnight Rider,” a biopic about Gregg Allman.

“But the Oscars left out several noteworthy stars and public figures who died during the past year," the story reports. "In addition to the names above, the Oscars' segment skipped Nelson Mandela (subject of the biopic for which U2 was nominated for best original song), Dennis Farina, Gary David Goldberg, Marcia Wallace, Lisa Robin Kelly, Lee Thompson Young, and musicians Phil Everly, Phil Ramone, Lou Reed and Pete Seeger.”

The article adds: “In the past, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has received heat for leaving out Donna Summer and Lupe Ontiveros (2013), Jeff Conaway (2012), Corey Haim and actress Betty Garrett (2011), Farrah Fawcett (2010), George Carlin (2009) and Brad Renfro (2008).”

The names included are put together by a committee that’s asked to focus on people who have made significant contributions to the industry, as well as to touch on different areas of the film industry.

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Media Company Gets New Name, New Logo and New Executive Lineup

A well-known media company that creates content for television, feature films and digital platforms has changed its name and shaken things up in the executive offices.

The Los Angeles Times' Company Town reports that BermanBraun, where founding partner Gail Berman left the firm earlier this year, changed its name to Whalerock Industries.

Lloyd Braun made the announcement Friday, and also tapped Andrew Mittman to run the company’s combined film and scripted TV divisions, which recently were merged, the story notes. Mittman has run its film unit since 2009.

Additionally, Jenna Glazier was promoted to senior vice president of television and film, while Gene Stein is leaving the company.

“This reorganization reflects our approach to development throughout the company," Braun said in a statement. "The traditional lines between media are increasingly blurred -- particularly in film and television.”

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NBC Correspondent Has to Be Rescued by Firefighters

Firefighters came to the rescue of an NBC News correspondent who got into trouble on a field assignment. The New York Daily News reports that Miguel Almaguer was rescued after he became stuck in mud during a report on the heavy rains in Los Angeles.

Almaguer had waded into a stream flowing from a mudslide, where he delivered his report while thigh-high in mud, the story notes. He lost his boots in the rescue.

The correspondent was in an Azusa neighborhood that had been evacuated after the rains left a hillside unstable and led to mudslides.

“Almaguer thought it a good idea to show the depth of the mud by standing in it,” the story notes. “Wrong.”

He realized he was completely stuck when he tried to get out, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Brian Jordan told the newspaper. A pair of nearby firefighters dragged him out.

“Members of the media were told to leave the area following the incident. The neighborhood had already been evacuated because mud was flowing throughout the streets and into homes,” the report notes.

miguel almaguer.pngMiguel Almaguer

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Here's the List of Winners at Last Night's Academy Awards -- and Why the Win for '12 Years a Slave' Was a First in the Oscars' 86-Year History

For the first time since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has been handing out Oscars, starting in 1929, a film with a black director -- "12 Years a Slave," directed by Steve McQueen -- was honored as Best Picture, The New York Times reports.

“I’d like to thank this amazing story,” McQueen said of the movie, about a 19th century man who is kidnapped into slavery. “Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live.”

McQueen just moments before had been passed over for the directing award, which was given to Alfonso Cuaron for “Gravity.” The space drama was in a “ferocious contest for the best picture statuette” with “12 Years a Slave” and “American Hustle," the story reports.

“12 Years a Slave” won three awards, while “Gravity” won seven, making the latter the most awarded film of the night. "American Hustle" was shut out.

Below is a list of the winners:

Best Picture: "12 Years a Slave."
Actor: Matthew McConaughey, "Dallas Buyers Club."
Actress: Cate Blanchett, "Blue Jasmine."
Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, "Dallas Buyers Club."
Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong'o, "12 Years a Slave."
Directing: Alfonso Cuaron, "Gravity."
Foreign Language Film: "The Great Beauty," Italy.
Adapted Screenplay: John Ridley, "12 Years a Slave."
Original Screenplay: Spike Jonze, "Her."
Animated Feature Film: "Frozen."
Production Design: "The Great Gatsby."
Cinematography: "Gravity."
Sound Mixing: "Gravity."
Sound Editing: "Gravity."
Original Score: "Gravity," Steven Price.
Original Song: "Let It Go" from "Frozen."
Costume: "The Great Gatsby."
Makeup and Hairstyling: "Dallas Buyers Club."
Animated Short Film: "Mr. Hublot."
Documentary Feature: "20 Feet from Stardom."
Documentary (short subject): "The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life."
Film Editing: "Gravity."
Live Action Short Film: "Helium."
Visual Effects: "Gravity."

Honorary Oscars:

Peter W. Anderson
Film-processing labs over past century
Angelina Jolie
Angela Lansbury
Steve Martin
Piero Tosi

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VH1 Cancels Scripted Series

VH1 is pulling the plug on a scripted original series. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the cable channel has canceled the hourlong dramedy “Single Ladies,” which is executive produced by Queen Latifah.

The show, which marked VH1’s first hourlong scripted series, won’t return after its third season, the piece notes. "Single Ladies" stars Denise Vasi, LisaRaye McCoy-Misick and Charity Shea.

“We've been proud to deliver three seasons of the drama, romance and style that engaged viewers in each episode of ‘Single Ladies,’” VH1 said in a statement. "Although we've decided not to move forward with another season, we hope to work again with the talented cast, creatives and producers as well as our partners at Flavor Unit Entertainment in the near future. We also thank the show's fans for their support since the premiere in 2011."

The show focuses on three best friends with different approaches to love and relationships. The series is averaging about 2.2 million total viewers, or about what it drew in its second season.

The cancellation comes after VH1 picked up the scripted drama “Hindsight,” which is set in the 1990s.

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Early Results Show Last Night's Oscars Were the Highest-Rated in Nine Years

With daytime TV favorite Ellen DeGeneres hosting the 86th Academy Awards, Sunday's ABC broadcast saw a ratings improvement over last year and pulled in the show's biggest numbers since 2005, based on early results, TheWrap.com reports.

"The ABC telecast earned a 27.9 household rating/41 share in the 56 markets metered by Nielsen, a very preliminary measurement," the story reports. "That’s an increase of 7 percent from 2013′s 26.1/41, when the awards show was hosted by Seth MacFarlane."

The Oscars dominated prime-time programming on the broadcast channels. "ABC’s Academy Awards telecast and 'Oscar’s Red Carpet 2014' pre-show during Sunday’s prime time (7-11 p.m. for ABC, CBS and NBC, 7-10 p.m. for Fox) topped CBS, NBC and Fox combined by 224 percent on average in the U.S. Household Metered Markets (ABC had a 21.4 rating vs. a combined 6.6)," TheWrap reports.

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Disney Halts Funding for Boy Scouts

"Walt Disney Co. said it will stop financial support for Boy Scouts-related organizations beginning next year because of the Scouts' policy banning adult leaders who are gay," the Los Angeles Times reports.

The Boy Scouts organization indicated it is "disappointed" with Disney's decision.

The Times reports: "The company’s decision was made public after the president of a Boy Scouts council in Apopka, Fla., sent local troops a memo on Disney’s move.

"Robert Utsey’s letter was posted on a website for Scouts for Equality, an organization advocating against the ban on gay leaders, according to the Associated Press. Utsey said the National Boy Scouts of America’s Council had reached out to Disney to resolve the situation."

Said Utsey: “However, according to [Walt Disney World], their views do not currently align with the BSA. We will continue to keep an open line of communication with them, but at this time, are unable to reverse their decision.”

Burbank, Calif.-based Disney does not provide money to the Boy Scouts' national or local councils, the paper notes, citing Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith, but Disney does give grants to small grants to local troops and packs.

In a statement, Smith said: “We believe every child deserves the opportunity to be a part of the Scouting experience and we are disappointed in this decision because it will impact our ability to serve kids."

The report adds: "A Disney spokeswoman told the Orlando Sentinel that the company does not give grants to organizations that 'operate or support activities that are counter to the policies of The Walt Disney Company.'"

The Scouts lifted their long-standing ban on gay minors Jan. 1, but kept in place a restriction on gay adult Scout leaders, the piece notes.

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Golden Globe Winner Joins CBS Stalker Drama

A veteran of TV drama series who is a Golden Globe winner and a Primetime Emmy nominee has signed on with a new CBS stalker drama project. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Dylan McDermott is joining the cast of the untitled pilot from Kevin Williamson.

McDermott, a Golden Globe winner and Emmy nominee for "The Practice," will play Det. Jack Larsen, who transferred to the Threat Assessment Unit of the Los Angeles Police Department from New York, and is slated to handle stalking incidents.

Williamson, of “The Following,” will write the script and executive produce, while Liz Friedlander is directing the pilot. McDermott recently starred in “Hostages,” which was canceled by CBS after one season. He's also known for his work on the first two seasons of "American Horror Story."

Thumbnail image for dylan_mcdermott.jpgDylan McDermott

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Why YouTube Owner Google Is 'Freaking Out' About a New Court Ruling

Google “is really freaking out” over a court ruling last week, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s Hollywood, Esq. The ruling Wednesday determined that “Innocence of Muslims” actress Cindy Lee Garcia could assert copyright interest in her performance, potentially allowing her to pull the film from YouTube, the story reports.

On a 2-1 vote, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reportedly ordered YouTube to remove the video from its website. The controversial video has been described as an anti-Islamic 14-minute movie trailer, which originally appeared on YouTube under the titles "The Real Life of Muhammad" and "Muhammad Movie Trailer."

“The web giant has filed a new emergency motion to stay the disposition pending a rehearing before a larger panel at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals,” THR reports. “In doing so, Google has some bold First Amendment warnings about the implications for allowing an actress with five seconds of screen time to enjoin its distribution of ‘Innocence of Muslims.’”

According to Google, “The panel has adopted a novel interpretation of copyright law that will invite uncertainty and chaos for the entertainment industry, documentary filmmakers, amateur content creators, and for online hosting services like YouTube, allowing bit players in movies, videos, and other media to control how and when creative works are publicly displayed."

Google wrote that it believes the ruling could mean “movie extras could register copyrights in their reaction shots, facial expressions, and mimed chatter. Background singers on a record could register their 'oohs' and 'ahhs.' The list goes on."

Google continues: “Most of the millions of amateur filmmakers who upload their videos and other creative works to YouTube presumably do not have written agreements with those who appear in their videos. That means anyone who appears in those videos -- even for five seconds -- will now have independent authority to contact YouTube and demand their removal."

cindy lee garcia.jpgCindy Lee Garcia

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'30 Rock' Actor to Star in CBS Drama From 'Breaking Bad's' Vince Gilligan

An actor from NBC's “30 Rock” will take on a starring role in a new CBS drama. EW.com's Inside TV reports that actor Dean Winters is joining the project “Battle Creek."

Winters will portray Detective Russ Agnew of the Battle Creek Police Department. His character is described as a “smart, tough, impatient, and pragmatic guy who gets results but whom no one wants to partner with because he prefers to cut through any nonsense, and this has earned him a reputation for being mean and gruff.”

The project is from “Breaking Bad's" Vince Gilligan, who wrote the script, and “House” creator David Shore, who will serve as showrunner.

On “30 Rock,” Winters played Liz Lemon’s former boyfriend Dennis Duffy. He also stars in the Allstate Insurance TV ads as “Mayhem.”

dean winters.pngDean Winters

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Famous French Director Dies Over the Oscar Weekend. The Late Francois Truffaut, Himself a Legendary Movie Maker and Film Critic, Once Called One of This Director's Works 'The Greatest Film Ever Made'

It was sad to learn this past Saturday of the passing of one of the most famous French filmmakers.

Alain Resnais, whose movies were a staple of movie art houses worldwide in the 1960s and 1970s, has died at age 91, reports The New York Times. He died in Paris. No cause of death was reported.

Writes movie critic Dave Kehr in the Times obituary, "It was a 1955 synthesis of newly shot and newsreel footage that established Mr. Resnais’ reputation: 'Night and Fog,' a quietly powerful exhortation to the French, and the world, to remember the Nazi death camps at a time when their horrors were fading into willed amnesia."

That powerful film, which only runs 32 minutes, was later joined by Resnais' full-length features "Hiroshima, Mon Amour” and “Last Year at Marienbad" as three essential movies that were shown all the time in the movie art houses that were popular in the 1960s and 1970s.

According to an article about the Criterion Collection's home DVD release of "Night and Fog," the late Francois Truffaut, himself a well-known director and film critic, once called that short movie "the greatest film ever made." In French the film is called "Nuit et brouillard."

Kehr adds in the obituary, "Mr Resnais had a full head of white hair that the French newspaper Le Monde said he had sported for so long that one could forget he was ever young. He exhibited a youthful energy well into his 80s and was working on drafts of his next project from his hospital bed when he died, the producer Jean-Louis Livi said."

Alain Resnais.pngAlain Resnais

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From John Travolta Mispronouncing Actress-Singer Idina Menzel's Name to the Writer and Director of '12 Years a Slave' Snubbing Each Other, It's the '7 Weirdest Moments at the Oscars'

Thanks to Emily Wright at the Boston.com blog Movie Nation for posting the "7 weirdest moments at [the] 86th Academy Awards."

About John Travolta she wrote, "Don't presenters usually practice their lines? Well, John Travolta sounded like he had never seen Idina Menzel's name before because it came out something like 'Adele Dabzine.' It's a good thing we knew she was singing 'Let It Go' from 'Frozen' (which won for best original song) when he introduced her, or we wouldn't have known what was coming." (Watch Travolta in the video clip, below.)

Another weird moment Wright mentions is the director and screenwriter of "12 Years a Slave" snubbing each other. She writes, "We still haven't found an answer to this riddle, but John Ridley (winner of best adapted screenplay for "12 Years a Slave") and Steve McQueen (director of best picture-winning "12 Years a Slave") failed to thank each other during their acceptance speeches. Another note: McQueen clapped rather slowly when Ridley made his way to the stage for the win. Where's the love, fellas?"

Wright notes a few of the tweets on the matter, including this one from Cole Haddon: "Wow, Steve McQueen and John Ridley. Haven't seen that much awkward tension since my parents were last in a room together. #Oscars2014"

Here are the other 5 moments that Wright found weird at the 2014 Oscarcast:

Leonardo DiCaprio turning down free pizza, the seemingly naturally attractive Australian actress and Oscar winner Cate Blanchett thanking a hair & makeup team for making her look attractive, host Ellen DeGeneres referencing Jonah Hill's family jewels -- twice, legendary actress Kim Novak, 81, presenting her "new look," and Ellen taking that epic selfie, which she said shut down Twitter because it was re-tweeted so many times. (It has now been re-tweeted more than 2.5 million times.)

Here's the selfie:
ellen's oscar selfie.jpgAnd here's that Travolta video clip:

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Printable Oscar Ballot -- The Academy Awards Telecast is Tonight, Live, on ABC at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time (8:30 p.m. ET). Plus, See Who We Pick to Win

Today, Sunday, March 2, 2014, is the live telecast of the 86th Annual Academy Awards on ABC.

To print out a ballot that you can mark, please click this: Oscar Ballot 2014a.pdf

If you would like a ballot that is already marked with the Oscar picks of TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross, here's how you can get it: Oscar BallotC.pdf. No guarantees on this one, of course. What we can say is that most years Chuck does pretty good with his picks.

For your convenience, here are the winners Chuck is predicting in each of the 24 Oscar categories:

Best Picture: "12 Years a Slave"

Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron ("Gravity")

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Cate Blanchett

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Matthew McConaughey

Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong'o

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto

Best Adapted Screenplay: "12 Years a Slave"

Best Original Screenplay: "Her"

Best Sound Mixing: "Gravity"

Best Sound Editing: "Gravity"

Best Makeup & Hairstyling: "Dallas Buyers Club"

Best Documentary: "20 Feet From Stardom"

Best Documentary Short: "The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life"

Best Original Score: "Gravity'

Best Original Song: "Let It Go"

Best Costume Design: "The Great Gatsby"

Best Cinematography: "Gravity"

Best Production Design: "The Great Gatsby:

Best Animated Feature Film: "Frozen"

Best Animated Short Film: "Get a Horse!"

Best Foreign Film: "The Great Beauty"

Best Visual Effects: "Gravity"

Best Live Action Short: "The Voorman Problem"

Best Film Editing; "Gravity"

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