May 2014

ABC News Makes It a Sweep in May Sweeps

ABC News sent out a release today touting what amounts to a sweep of every daypart for the news division during May sweeps.

The division announced that it finished sweeps at No. 1 in every daypart for the first time since 1995. The release highlights the following achievements:

• “World News” Wins Adults 25-54 -- First Sweeps Victory in More Than Six Years

• “Good Morning America” Wins May Sweeps in Total Viewers and Adults 25-54, Drawing Largest Demo Lead Over NBC in 20 Years

• “Nightline” Wins Total Viewer Sweeps for First Time Ever in New Time Period, Delivering ABC’s Largest May Sweeps Audience in the Time Slot in 12 Years

• “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” Finishes #1 in Adults 25-54, Winning First Sweeps Victory in Key News Demo in Nearly 21 Years

• “20/20” Wins Adults 18-49 for the May Sweeps and Final 6 Telecasts of the Season

Please click here to read the full press release.

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Video: Bryan Cranston Hints at Possible Return for Walter White, 'Breaking Bad'

Actor Bryan Cranston, who earned accolades and a shelf-load of trophies -- including three consecutive Emmys for outstanding lead actor in a drama series -- playing Walter White on the AMC drama "Breaking Bad," dropped a hint that we may not have seen the last of White.

And now we will insert a SPOILER ALERT in case you have yet to wrap up your personal "Breaking Bad" marathon. Please don't read on if you don't want clues about what happens on the show.

In an interview Thursday with CNN's Ashley Banfield, Cranston was asked whether his character died at the end of the series. CNN reports: "Cranston said, 'Hey, you never saw bags zip up or anything. Or say ... you know.' He left the rest up to viewers' imaginations."

The report adds: "In response to questions about whether the character could show up in a movie or anywhere else ever again, Cranston said: 'Never say never.'"

Was it just an offhand comment, or, as fans of "Breaking Bad" are hoping, something more?

"He may have been teasing, but that remark revived hopes for countless fans who still are mourning the loss of the character and the acclaimed series," CNN reports. "The show literally went out with a bang in September 2013 and there was even a mock funeral held for the character in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the series was set and filmed."

Here's the interview clip so you can decide for yourself:

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Daytime Veteran Set to Return With New Talk Show

A well-known TV personality who is a veteran of the daytime game is mapping plans to return to the daypart with a new series. Entertainment Weekly reports that Tyra Banks is readying a new lifestyle show for a 2015 launch.

The series, which is not yet titled, will focus on Banks and a team of lifestyle experts tackling a range of topics, the piece reports.

In a statement, Banks said: “The fire to inspire women and help them to blaze new paths fiercely burns inside of me. I’m excited to be partnering with Disney-ABC to usher in a new era of lifestyle, beauty and entertainment that will inspire women to be the CEO of their lives via honesty, humor and the newest tips and tricks without being intimidating or precious. To my fierce fam of future viewers: I can’t wait to shake up daytime TV together."

"The show promises to take on topics such as fashion, beauty, entertaining and individual enterprise," EW notes. "Banks will also welcome celebrities, 'Internet influencers,' experts and everyday people to share their own knowledge across various topics."

The program, which will be produced by Disney-ABC’s Summerdale Productions along with Banks, and distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television, will be based in Los Angeles.

Said Lisa Hackner, executive VP of daytime and syndicated programming for ABC Entertainment Group: “With an extraordinary social media following and legions of fans built over her years on television, Tyra is more relevant than ever. She is the ideal personality to infuse lifestyle content with fresh energy, humor, and the practical information the daytime audience craves.”

Banks previously hosted the daytime talk program "The Tyra Banks Show" from 2005-2012, and has been a fixture on television with "America's Next Top Model."

tyra banks.pngTyra Banks

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How Did NBC's New Thursday Night Comedy Do?

NBC premiered its new midseason comedy series Thursday night with back-to-back episodes, and the program delivered a pair of decent (by summer standards) 1.3 average ratings in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights.

"It was the highest-rated summer comedy premiere on a big four network in five years, since ABC's 'The Goode Family' in May 2009, and outperformed most of the run of 'Sean Saves the World' and 'The Michael J. Fox Show' in the [9-10 p.m.] time slot," TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

Leading into the "Undateable" block, NBC's "Hollywood Game Night" ticked up 9% from a week ago to a 1.2 in viewers 18-49, and leading out from "Undateable," the network's "Last Comic Standing" drifted down 6% from last week's premiere to a 1.6.

Those numbers left NBC in a three-way tie for first place in broadcast prime time overall with CBS, which aired an all-repeat lineup, and Fox, which drew a 1.6 average in 18-49 for "Hell's Kitchen" but only a 0.9 for "Gang Related. Both Fox shows matched last week's numbers.

Off the pace was ABC, where a two-hour repeat airing of "The Bachelorette" settled for a 0.5 in the 18-49 demo while a fresh "Black Box" struggled to a series-low 0.7, losing 13% from a week ago.

For prime time overall, NBC, Fox and CBS tied for first place with 1.3 averages in adults 18-49, followed by Univision (1.1 average) and ABC (0.6). CBS's all-repeat slate carried the night in total viewers with 5.9 million, ahead of NBC (4.3 million), Fox (3.8 million), ABC (2.9 million) and Univision (2.7 million).

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Charlize Theron Raises Eyebrows With Rape Comment -- Here's the Video

Charlize Theron sparked a media frenzy with a comment she made about, as it turns out, the media. Theron was asked in an interview with Sky News about the intrusiveness of the press and the Internet on her private life, and answered that she tries to steer clear of it.

"I think it's when you start living in that world and doing that, that you start ... feeling raped," the actress said.

A presumably unintended effect of the comment has been that the press has jumped all over Theron for her choice of words, with some critics demanding an apology. Predictably, social media outlets have also been buzzing about the Oscar winner's remark, calling it "disgraceful," among other things.

"Charlize Theron is not the first actress to compare the press intruding into her personal life to rape, and she certainly won't be the last -- but wouldn't it be nice if she were?," The Huffington Post asks. "It's a tired comparison, which doesn't particularly serve anyone well."

Here's a short clip from the interview:

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How Is Edward Snowden Passing the Time in Exile? Watching One TV Show

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden told NBC News’ Brian Williams he’s spending his time in exile in Russia watching one television show: HBO’s “The Wire,” reports the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker.

"Right now I'm watching a show, 'The Wire,' about surveillance, which I'm really enjoying," Snowden said. "Second season's not so great."

While Williams “didn’t linger” on Snowden’s television views, the snippet showed how Snowden is trying to “continue to live as an American,” the story notes. HBO shows recently became available in Russia.

Williams’ interview with Snowden, part of the NBC News special "Inside the Mind of Edward Snowden," drew an average of 5.91 million viewers Wednesday night, when it aired at 10 p.m., according to TVNewser. Williams’ “Nightly News” broadcast, by comparison, is averaging 8.4 million viewers.

edward snowden.jpgEdward Snowden

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Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Over Proposed $48 Billion DirecTV-AT&T Merger

A class-action lawsuit has been filed objecting to the proposed merger of DirecTV and AT&T, less than two weeks after the companies announced the deal. Deadline.com reports that the suit was filed Thursday by a shareholder.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, claims the purchase price for DirecTV is too low considering its potential, the story notes.

“DirecTV’s recent financial performance is indicative of a company on the rise with growth potential yet to be recognized,” the suit claims.

The lawsuit also alleges DirecTV’s board members “breached their fiduciary duties of loyalty, good faith, due care and disclosure by … agreeing to sell DirecTV without first taking steps to ensure that Plaintiff and Class members would obtain adequate, fair and maximum consideration under the circumstances and engineering the Proposed Acquisition to benefit themselves and/or AT&T without regard for DirecTV public shareholders. Absent judicial intervention, the merger will be consummated, resulting in irreparable injury to Plaintiff and the Class.”

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NBC News Names New Senior Political Reporter

NBC News has a new senior political reporter. TVNewser reports that the network news division has appointed theGrio.com political editor Perry Bacon Jr. to the post.

Bacon has been an on-air contributor for MSNBC and will continue in that capacity, while also contributing to NBCNews.com.

In a memo, NBC News D.C. bureau chief Ken Strickland and chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd said Bacon will be “one of our leading voices covering the upcoming 2014 and 2016 campaigns and beyond.”

perry bacon jr.jpgPerry Bacon Jr.

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Who Might Replace Kevin Reilly at Fox?

After speculation at the broadcast networks’ upfront presentations about how much longer Kevin Reilly might remain at Fox, the executive has stepped down, and the speculation is turning to the question of who might replace him, reports AdWeek.

One name that has been put forward is that of FX President John Landgraf, but given that Fox owns the cable network, “it might want to keep Landgraf where's he's successful -- and anyway, he's insisted he's not interested,” the story reports.

The piece adds: “Reilly's direct reports are all due to have their hotel expenses approved by network group Chairman Peter Rice for the moment. It's hard to know who will end up with such a high profile (and, frankly, thankless job),” but the article offers a few suggestions.

They include AMC President Charlie Collier, who AdWeek notes is “not afraid to take risks and he knows the advertising biz upside down and sideways from his time on the sales side,” and NBCUniversal Chief Content Officer Jeff Wachtel.

Other contenders include David Nevins of Showtime, who worked at Fox as executive vice president of programming for three years, where he developed “24”; and Netflix head of content Ted Sarandos, the piece adds.

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'Sons of Anarchy' Adds Actress From 'The Bridge,' 'West Wing,' 'X-Files'

An actress who appears on "The Bridge" is joining FX's "Sons of Anarchy." SPOILER ALERT: Read no further if you do not want to hear plot points for the show's upcoming season.

EW.com’s Inside TV reports that Annabeth Gish, who also is known for the TV shows "The X-Files" and "The West Wing" along with feature films including "Mystic Pizza," will play the new sheriff on the biker drama series.

The casting follows the announcement that rocker Marilyn Manson is joining the show’s seventh season in a recurring role, as previously reported.

Gish’s character is Althea Jarry, a veteran of Stockton’s Organized Crime Unit, whose job is to solve the murders of Sheriff Eli Roosevelt and Tara Knowles, the story says. Gish will remain on “The Bridge” as well, and her character won’t appear in the "Sons of Anarchy" season 7 premiere.

annabeth gish.pngAnnabeth Gish

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Netflix CEO Says He Fears for the Whole Internet -- and How Comcast Is Calling the Shots

Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings explained his company’s controversial deal with Comcast to buy improved transmission quality as one in which his streaming business had no choice, reports Deadline.com.

“The basic thing is we have no power” over Comcast, Hastings said at the Code Conference in California. That was why, even though Netflix signed the deal, the company didn’t like it and complained about it a few weeks later, the story adds.

“We asked them for access [to their mutual Internet-using customers], and couldn’t get it. You might say, ‘Why did you compromise on the deal,’ and we would say, ‘We had to,’” Hastings said.

He added, “The argument on their side is we should be able to charge anybody anything. But the problem is they’re a near monopoly. They want the whole Internet to pay them when their Internet customers want to use the Internet.”

Hastings predicted that the problem will grow worse as the cable industry continues to consolidate.

“Cable is going to be the entire U.S. residential Internet over the next 20 years,” Hastings said. “The fear [I have] is somewhat for Netflix but it’s mostly for the whole Internet. That’s why we’re talking about strong net neutrality, no blocking, settlement free, no slow lane. We’re raising the question, what happens when one company has that kind of control? It’s fundamentally, should Comcast be able to charge everybody else for access to their consumers?”

reed hastings.pngReed Hastings

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Former NBC Executive Files to Dismiss Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

A former NBC and WB television executive has filed a motion to dismiss a sexual abuse lawsuit. The Los Angeles Times reports that Garth Ancier, the former president of NBC Entertainment, filed the motion Thursday.

The lawsuit was filed in April by Michael Egan, who claims he was abused by Ancier both in Hawaii and at an estate in Encino, Calif. Egan also accused “X-Men” director Bryan Singer, as well as entertainment executives David Neuman and Gary Goddard, of abuse.

The story reports: “In the motion filed on Thursday, Ancier asked the court to dismiss the case, saying the court lacks jurisdiction because Ancier was not in Hawaii at the time the alleged abuse took place.”

The report adds: “As evidence, the motion uses three declarations from third parties to show that Ancier was not in Hawaii at the time. It also uses testimony from Egan himself in a 2000 case against other defendants in which he says he didn't go on trips outside the continental United States.”

Ancier’s move comes after Neuman, Singer and Goddard also filed motions to dismiss.

Egan’s attorney told the publication: “I do have a response, but I am restricted in that I can only talk about what is in the court record. Many of the things being reported are being taken out of context or you’re only hearing one side of the story. At the appropriate time and in the appropriate venue, we will respond."

garth ancier.pngGarth Ancier

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When Is the Last Time a Man Won on 'Jeopardy!'? It's Been a While, as Women Are on an Unprecedented Winning Streak

Women have been dominating lately on "Jeopardy!," putting together what's being called an unprecedented winning streak. New York Magazine reports that, through late May, the April 8 airing of the syndicated game show marks the last time a man won a match.

“Since then, women have been on an unprecedented run on a program that has long been a target for complaints from feminists and other critics wondering why, for three decades now, the vast majority of players and winners have been male,” the story reports.

The current champion, Julia Collins, had earned $391,600 through an 18-game winning streak. “She long ago surpassed the prior top female money winner, Larissa Kelly, and now she’s won more games in a row than all but two players in the game’s history," the story reports.

Collins continued her streak Thursday, securing her 19th victory on the show, reports the Associated Press. That tied her with David Madden as the contestant with the second-longest string of wins. The top player ever is Ken Jennings, who won 74 consecutive games and $2.5 million.

Collins can be seen as a sign that “women have finally begun making their marks on the program. Of the 73 non-tournament matches that have aired so far in 2014, female players have won 45. Aside from Collins’ monster run, two others, Sandie Baker and Sarah McNitt, have enjoyed long streaks, too,” the New York Magazine piece notes.

The report adds: “The fate of women on ‘Jeopardy!’ isn’t a frivolous matter, fans of the show insist. Pundits may become absorbed by the hullabaloo surrounding how New York Times editor Jill Abramson was fired or how General Motors CEO Mary Barra was treated by a congressional subcommittee, but ‘Jeopardy!’ is the singular place in pop culture where intellectual achievement -- especially by women, minorities, even older people -- is glamorized.”

julia collins-jeopardy.pngJulia Collins on "Jeopardy!"

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Animated Kids' Show Will Shift From Cartoon Network to Online Service

An animated children’s show will leave Cartoon Network and move to a streaming service. According to The Hollywood Reporter, "DreamWorks Dragons," based on “How to Train Your Dragon,” has found a new home on Netflix after two seasons on Cartoon.

New episodes will begin airing in spring 2015, with the new season providing a bridge between the 2010 movie and the sequel, which comes out in theaters in June. Both Jay Baruchel and America Ferrera, who provide the voices of lead characters in the movies, will return for the TV show, the piece adds.

“We are happy to be adding ‘Dragons’ to our growing slate of original series for kids,” said Cindy Holland, Netflix vice president of original content. “This is one of DreamWorks Animation’s most beloved set of characters and we know that kids and families will be enjoying them for years to come.”

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Why Two 'Ghost Hunters' Cast Members Are Leaving the Syfy Show

Two cast members on Syfy's “Ghost Hunters” are leaving the show, and Deadline.com reports that they have plans to develop their own supernatural-focused program.

The cast members are Amy Bruni, who has appeared on “Ghost Hunters” since 2008, and Adam Berry, who joined in 2010. The show is now seeking new members of The Atlantic Paranormal Society to fill their roles, the story says.

“Bruni and Berry, repped by Westpoint Entertainment’s Bill Stankey, also are negotiating with a casino company for an ongoing series of appearances in Las Vegas and other markets across the U.S.,” the story notes.

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OWN Sets Maya Angelou Tribute

Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network is planning a tribute to Maya Angelou, the poet and author who died May 28, The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

The five-hour tribute will air Sunday, June 1, from 5-10 p.m. ET, and will include programs on which Angelou was featured, such as “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” as well as the premiere airing of “Oprah Winfrey’s Legends Ball.”

Winfrey, who knew Angelou since Winfrey was in her 20s, called Angelou a “mentor, mother/sister."

“She moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence and a fierce grace. I loved her and I know she loved me. I will profoundly miss her. She will always be the rainbow in my clouds," Winfrey said.

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TV Provider Will Become Largest Company to Accept Bitcoin Payments

A major media firm is about to become the largest company that accepts bitcoin payments. Deadline.com reports that satellite provider Dish Network said it will start accepting the digital currency on mydish.com.

“The No. 2 satellite company will process payments via Coinbase, whose Instant Exchange will translate the amounts into U.S. dollars based on the exchange rate when the transaction takes place. Subscribers can pay with whatever bitcoin wallet they choose,” the story notes.

Critics of the digital currency warn that bitcoins lend themselves to abuse, including attracting money launderers, while the SEC has warned that people using bitcoin could be targeted by “fraudsters and promoters of high-risk investment schemes,” the story notes.

“Bitcoin is becoming a preferred way for some people to transact and we want to accommodate those individuals,” Dish Chief Operating Officer Bernie Han said.

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The Banned 'Sin City' Sequel Poster the MPAA Doesn't Want You to See

A tip of our TVWeek cap to the Business Insider, the publication from which we borrowed our headline. 

According to that publication, "Page Six reports the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rejected the "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" poster "for nudity..."

The actress in the poster is Eva Green.

Here's the banned poster:

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The Latest: Donald Sterling Declared 'Mentally Incapacitated' So Cannot Stop Sale of Clippers, Report Says. Shelly Sterling Agrees to Sell Team to Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for Record $2 Billion. Sterling Bought Team 33 Years Ago for $12 Million

"Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling does not have the authority to stop a $2 billion sale of his team because he has been determined to be mentally unfit to make decisions related to the family trust, a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports," reports USA Today.

The story reports: "The Sterling Family Trust owns the team, with Donald and his wife Shelly each owning a 50% share. The trust spells out provisions and procedures related to the mental capacity of the trustees, and Donald Sterling did not meet the standard in a determination by experts, giving his wife sole decision-making power for the trust, the person said."

Earlier, ESPN's Ramona Shelburne had tweeted, "Espn has learned that experts had declared Donald Sterling mentally incapacitated, leaving Shelly as sole trustee & power to sell the team."

Adds the USA Today story, "Shelly Sterling reached a deal Thursday [May 29, 2014] with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to sell the Clippers for a record $2 billion. The contract was sent to the NBA for approval a few days before the league's Board of Governors was set to vote on whether to terminate the Sterlings' ownership of the team."

The USA Today article also notes, "Donald Sterling's attorneys didn't return calls Thursday night from USA TODAY Sports. After Sterling authorized his wife in writing last week to sell the team on his behalf, his attorney this week said he had reversed course, did not want to sell and instead wanted to fight the NBA, which banned him for life on April 29."

Ballmer, who previously had made a bid for the Sacramento Kings professional basketball team with the intention of moving them to the Seattle area where he lives, has said he will keep the Clippers in Los Angeles.

A little after 1 a.m. PT today -- Friday, May 30, 2014 -- ESPN's Shelburne tweeted, "All involved in sale to Ballmer are prepared for a legal challenge from Donald, sources said, but believe they'll ultimately prevail."

steve-ballmer.jpgSteve Ballmer, above, the former Microsoft CEO, reportedly will pay $2 billion for the L.A Clippers professional National Basketball Association team.


 

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Veteran Reporter Signs With Fox Business Network

A veteran financial reporter who is The Wall Street Journal's chief economics correspondent has inked a deal with Fox Business Network. Variety reports that Jon Hilsenrath will join the cable channel as a contributor.

"Hilsenrath will continue his duties at the Journal, while making appearances on both Fox Business Network and Fox News Channel. The two TV networks are operated by 21st Century Fox while the newspaper is owned by News Corp. Both companies are controlled by Rupert Murdoch," Variety reports.

Hilsenrath's debut is expected Friday morning on FBN's “Opening Bell with Maria Bartiromo,” the piece reports, citing a network spokeswoman.

"Hilsenrath covers the Federal Reserve along with the United States and global economies, and has been with The Wall Street Journal since 1997," Variety notes. "He previously served as the paper’s Markets Editor, overseeing the global stock, bond and currency markets. He has also worked as a freelance reporter for The New York Times and Time, as well as a finance reporter for Knight-Ridder Financial News."

jon hilsenrath.pngJon Hilsenrath

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9/11 Museum Pulls Gift Item From Shop After Outcry Over Insensitivity

"The National September 11 Memorial Museum gift shop has pulled an item that provoked cries of protest for its insensitivity: a U.S. shaped ceramic cheese platter marking the three spots where the hijacked airplanes went down, it said on Thursday," The Toronto Sun reports, citing Reuters.

In an email, a spokesperson for the museum said: "The commemorative tray that is meant for display, not serving, has been removed."

The report adds: "The new museum in lower Manhattan won mostly positive reviews from local media and those with personal ties to the attacks alike when it opened earlier this month, after years of delays and controversy. But the museum's gift shop, which sells items such as fire department apparel and rescue vests for dogs, has come under criticism from some family members of those who died in the attacks as well as the first responders who worked in the rubble of the fallen twin towers."

A report by USA Today notes: "Since it opened May 21, the museum has taken heat for selling souvenirs like hoodies with the image of the Twin Towers, stuffed animal search dogs and jewelry."

Adds The Wall Street Journal: "Responding to criticism of the gift shop since the museum's dedication earlier this month, Joe Daniels, president of the memorial foundation, said Wednesday in an interview that the museum would enlist more help in vetting products from the 9/11 family members who sit on the foundation's board."

commemorative 911 cheese platter.jpgCommemorative 9/11 cheese platter

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Fox Wins Prime Time Against Mostly Repeats, Even as 'Dance' Notches Its Lowest Season Premiere

Fox claimed a ratings win for prime time Wednesday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. But TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the win came despite an all-time low for a premiere of the network's "So You Think You Can Dance."

The two-hour program pulled in a 1.6 in viewers 18-49, off 16% from the previous season premiere. But that was good enough to win prime time overall on a night when most of the broadcast competition consisted of repeat programming.

Among the few fresh shows, NBC's "Inside the Mind of Edward Snowden" delivered a 1.3 average in 18-49 at 10 p.m., improving on the network's summer 2013 average for the time slot by 18%, while ABC's "Motive" equaled its number for last week's premiere, a 0.9.

For prime time overall, Fox led the way in the 18-49 demo with a 1.6 average, ahead of NBC (1.2 average) and Univision, CBS and ABC, all with 1.0 averages. CBS, which aired all repeats, won total viewers with 6.3 million, topping Fox (5.3 million), NBC (4.7 million), ABC (4.1 million) and Univision (2.7 million).

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Marilyn Manson Joins 'Sons of Anarchy'

The final season of the FX biker drama series "Sons of Anarchy" has added rocker Marilyn Manson to the lineup. Deadline.com reports that Manson will play a recurring role during season seven.

"The shock rocker and part-time actor will play Ron Tully, a white supremacist prison shot-caller who Jax (Charlie Hunnam) uses to expand his power base," the story reports.

Manson, who also appeared on the HBO comedy series "Eastbound & Down," said: “Sons has been such a big part of my life, as well as my father’s. So I was determined to make him proud by being involved in what will probably be remembered as the most amazing piece of television cinema. After all, the very heart of 'SOA' is about that relationship. So now all I need is a motorcycle.”

Season seven, which will wrap up the show's run, premieres in fall.

marilyn manson.pngMarilyn Manson

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Hillary Clinton Books Interview on Fox News

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has lined up an interview in what could be hostile territory, scheduling a sitdown in June with Bret Baier and Greta Van Susteren for Fox News, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"Clinton, who is promoting [her] upcoming book 'Hard Choices,' has been a favorite topic on the Fox News Channel since the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya," the report notes. "Her role in the fallout has been a frequent coverage choice, and FNC's Bill O'Reilly even used his pre-Super Bowl interview with President Obama to bring up the attacks."

The June 17 joint interview is set to run a half-hour, 6:45-7:15 p.m., spanning both "Special Report" and "On the Record."

THR notes: "For anyone wondering if Benghazi will figure in to the interview, rest assured. A release from the cable news network says the array of topics planned for the interview includes Benghazi -- and the 2016 presidential election."

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Fox Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly to Exit Network

Fox Broadcasting announced today that the chairman of Fox Entertainment, Kevin Reilly, will step down from his post, the Los Angeles Times reports. Reilly, who joined Fox in 2007 as entertainment president and moved up to chairman of entertainment in August 2012, will reportedly exit the job by the end of June.

A replacement has not been named.

"While Fox looks for a successor, Reilly’s senior executives will report to Fox Networks Group CEO Peter Rice," B&C reports.

Reilly is quoted by B&C saying: “21st Century Fox is a great company that has provided me with choice seats at the head table of pop culture over two very rewarding stints both at FBC and FX, and I am grateful to have benefited from the leadership of Peter Rice, Chase Carey and Rupert Murdoch. Peter and I have been discussing this transition for a while, and now with a robust new slate of programming for next season and strength in the FBC ranks, it felt like the timing was as right as it could be. I couldn't be more thankful to my team -- a group of creative, tireless and fun people whose fellowship I will miss.”

As part of a thoughtful memo Reilly wrote announcing his departure to his staff, he said: "As invigorating as all that is to be a part of, we all know the daily feeding of the network beast and early morning ritual of waking to an overnight report card does breed a certain type of mania. My first boss, Brandon Tartikoff, described presiding over a broadcast network as 'the worst best job in the world.'  I remember coming up in the business and seeing how the grind turned some executives into grizzled cynics. And I vowed to never become that guy.

"I have always believed it’s incumbent upon network brass to bring a wide-eyed optimism to the chairs they rent. Talent deserves that. And frankly, the jobs are just no fun otherwise. Staying fresh and looking forward is part of why I feel the timing is right for me to turn the page now."

To read the memo in full, please click here.

The shakeup comes after a difficult season for the Fox TV network, which saw ratings fall off for its regular programming, the Times notes.

"The network's longtime ratings engine, 'American Idol,' fell apart this year, losing nearly half of its audience compared to its 2013 run," the Times reports. "The aging show, which once drew more than 25 million viewers an episode, mustered about 8 million viewers as it reached its finale earlier this month."

Fox is expected to look at outside candidates to replace Reilly, along with executives currently with the company, the Times adds.

"Reilly's decision to leave had been in the works for several weeks, and negotiations accelerated this week, according to a person familiar with the matter," the Times story notes.

The Times adds: "Fox ended the TV season in fourth place in overall viewers with an average of 7.5 million viewers a night, helped in part, by large audiences for NFL football games, including the Super Bowl.

 

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Kevin Reilly

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ABC's Diane Sawyer Makes Ratings History

"World News" anchor Diane Sawyer and her ABC News program have made ratings history. Variety reports that the program won the May sweeps period in the key news demo of viewers 25-54, becoming the first evening news show hosted exclusively by a woman to win a sweeps month.

"Even as NBC’s 'Nightly News' opened up a bigger advantage in total viewers, it was ABC’s 'World News' that finished on top in adults 25-54 for the May sweep -- the network’s first May victory in seven years and its first in any sweep month in more than six years (both with Charles Gibson as anchor)," the story reports.

Both NBC's "Nightly News" and CBS's "Evening News" declined from last year, and appear to be at new lows for a May sweeps period, the report notes. Meanwhile, the ABC program was up from a year ago and notched its best news demo rating in three years.

"All three broadcast newscasts were up in total viewers vs. last year, combining for 22.571 million viewers nightly -- up 6% from 21.356 million a year ago, according to Nielsen," Variety notes. "But these gains were largely driven by viewers 55 and older, as the combined tune-in among adults 25-54 was up by less than 1% (5.549 million vs. 5.536 million)."

ABC’s “World News With Diane Sawyer” delivered 2.014 million adults 25-54, rising 10% from a year ago, and has won five of the past seven weeks in 25-54. NBC’s “Nightly News With Brian Williams” registered 1.972 million viewers in the demo, falling 7%. “CBS Evening News,” hosted by Scott Pelley, was third with 1.563 million, dipping 1%.

"The roughly 42,000-viewer advantage in the demo is the largest for ABC over NBC in any sweeps month since July 2007," the report notes.

In total viewers, “NBC Nightly News” was No. 1 with 8.430 million, followed by “ABC World News” with 7.671 million and “CBS Evening News” with 6.470 million.

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Film and TV Actress Joins Fox News Lineup

Fox News Channel has hired an actress known for her role in a 1995 feature film and its television spinoff. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Stacey Dash, known for the 1995 film “Clueless" and the TV series of the same name, was hired as a contributor to the cable channel.

With the hire, the network “has gone outside the typical crowd” for a new contributor, the story notes. Dash, described by the publication as an “outspoken conservative,” will offer cultural analysis and commentary across daytime and prime time.

"Stacey is an engaging conversationalist whose distinctive viewpoints among her Hollywood peers have spawned national debates -- we’re pleased to have her join Fox News," said Bill Shine, network executive vice president of news.

The TV show "Clueless" aired for three seasons in the late 1990s, with its first season on ABC before it moved to UPN.

stacey dash.pngStacey Dash

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'Modern Family' Co-Creator Christopher Lloyd Is a No-Show

While work began Tuesday on the sixth season of ABC’s hit comedy series “Modern Family,” co-creator Christopher Lloyd didn’t show up because of a contract dispute, Nellie Andreeva reports on Deadline.com.

His co-creator Steve Levitan closed a new deal with producer 20th Century Fox TV in March, but Lloyd has yet to settle on a new contract after his previous deal expired at the end of the fifth season, the piece reports.

Lloyd “originally had been approached by the studio at the same time as Levitan but deferred deal conversations until after he was done with the season," Andreeva writes. "I hear he considered a straight show deal for ‘Modern Family’ without a development component but talks eventually focused on extending his overall deal with the studio."

Andreeva adds: “However, when the two sides finally met face-to-face before the upfronts, they were very far apart.”

Talks between Lloyd and the studio were described as “cautiously optimistic.”

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Brad Pitt Attacked at Hollywood Premiere

Brad Pitt was attacked Wednesday at the Hollywood premiere of Angelina Jolie's new movie. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Pitt was attacked by Vitalii Sediuk, described as a “Ukrainian prankster,” at the premiere of “Maleficent."

“At around 7.30 p.m., Brad Pitt was at the El Capitan Theatre on the red carpet when a male jumped over the barricade and made contact with him," an LAPD representative told the publication.

Sediuk, 25, was arrested and booked on suspicion of misdemeanor battery, the story notes. Witnesses said a man either punched or slapped Pitt in the face, and that security guards quickly intervened.

Sediuk has approached other stars on the red carpet, including hiding under America Ferrera’s dress at the “How to Train Your Dragon 2” premiere at Cannes and trying to kiss Will Smith at the Russian premiere of “Men in Black III,” the story adds.

Pitt wasn’t injured in the incident, the report notes.

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E! Sets Exit Strategy for Chelsea Handler's Show

“Chelsea Lately,” the late-night E! talk show hosted by Chelsea Handler, will wrap up its seven-year run on August 26, reports TVLine.

The series finale will be an hour-long show, and it comes after Handler signaled her intention to leave the network when her contract came to an end.

It remains unclear where Handler will go next, or what E! will air in place of her show, the story says.

In a statement, Handler said: “I myself am more surprised than anyone that I was able to hold down a job for seven years, and it was a fantastic seven years. I will always look back at my time on E! as most people look back at their time in college. I’m glad I went."

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'Community' May Live On Despite Being Canceled by NBC

The canceled NBC cult comedy “Community” may live on. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the series' producer, Sony Pictures TV, is talking with Hulu about continuing the show on the online streaming service.

“Sources stress that conversations are preliminary and it is unclear whether they would lead to a deal, but I hear there is will on both sides,” Andreeva writes.

That also includes creator Dan Harmon, who originally said “eh” when he was informed about the show's cancellation, she notes.

Andreeva writes: “With its devoted following by a core group of passionate fans, ‘Community’ is the type of show digital platforms crave. Complicating the series’ options is the fact that it has a digital syndication deal in place with Hulu, in addition to a cable off-network pact with Comedy Central. That makes Hulu a perfect home for the comedy as it is the kind of streaming service where a show like ‘Community’ would do best and because it already carries the series’ library via an existing agreement with Sony.”

Bringing “Community” to Hulu would “make a statement” for the streaming service, which is committed to adding original programming, the piece adds. Sony TV also has a good track record in bringing back canceled series or shifting shows, including moving “Damages” to DirecTV after it was canceled by FX and bringing back “Unforgettable” on CBS, the story notes.

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LeVar Burton Raises $1 Million in 24 Hours on Kickstarter

Actor LeVar Burton, known for "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Roots," fully funded a Kickstarter campaign to create a new version of the long-running children’s literacy show “Reading Rainbow” within 24 hours, raising $1 million, reports TheWrap.com.

The campaign aims to create a new version of the show for the Web, and will also offer a “classroom version” of the program for teachers. Burton pledged rewards to backers that included a dinner with the actor in Los Angeles, as well as the opportunity to wear the visor used by his character on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

“Reading Rainbow” was on-air from 1983 until 2006, and then aired in reruns through 2009.

levar burton.jpgLeVar Burton

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Showtime Orders 'L Word' Documentary

Showtime has ordered a documentary from “The L Word” creator Ilene Chaiken that will look at gay women living in Bible Belt towns in Mississippi, The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

Called “L Word Mississippi: Hate the Sin,” the 90-minute program will look at a dozen women living in towns such as Gulfport and Hattiesburg, including a former pastor who was banished from her church but started an LGBTQ support group.

Showtime aired six seasons of the scripted drama “The L Word,” which starred Jennifer Beals, and three seasons of the docuseries “The Real L Word.” The new documentary will debut Aug. 8 at 9 p.m.

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Sarah Palin's Time Slot to Go 'Unplugged'

The Sportsman Channel plans to replace Sarah Palin’s show “Amazing America with Sarah Palin” whan it ends its current run, but B&C reports that the cable channel is considering bringing the show back.

The current plan is to replace "Palin" with “America Unplugged,” hosted by a former U.S. Navy SEAL, which will look at eight Americans who live off the grid. The network said about 400,000 Americans live unconnected to the power grid.

“These are everyday people that don’t necessarily think that the world is going to end tomorrow. For them, this is just a better way of life. This is a more clean way of living, the way their forefathers did it,” said Marc Fein, executive VP of programming and production for the Sportsman Channel.

"Unplugged" will debut June 5 at 8 p.m., the time period now held by “Amazing America.”

Fein said Palin’s show generated higher viewership and buzz for the network. Still, the show hasn’t been renewed yet, the piece adds.

“We’ve had discussions on that,” he said. “There’s a lot of positives to it. Once the show ends its run, we’ll sit back and talk about things internally and make that decision about going forward.”

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HBO Orders Series From 'Eastbound & Down' Creators

HBO has placed a straight-to-series order for a new comedy from “Eastbound & Down” creators Danny McBride and Jody Hill. Deadline.com reports that the pay-cable channel ordered 18 episodes of “Vice Principals."

The order will likely be split between multiple seasons, the story notes. The show focuses on the vice principals at a high school, with McBride set to play one of them.

“The idea of them setting their minds on high school was irresistible,” said HBO’s Michael Lombardo.

danny mcbride.jpgDanny McBride

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Cable News Channels Confronted by 'Particularly Troubling Declines'

The cable news channels have experienced “particularly troubling declines in viewership” during the month of May, Bill Carter reports in The New York Times.

Focusing on the target news demo of viewers 25-54,Carter writes: “CNN had the least-watched 9 p.m. hour in the channel’s history and finished fourth, behind Fox News, MSNBC, and even its sister channel HLN, in attracting the viewers that news advertisers pay for. MSNBC had its lowest performance in prime time since July 2006.”

The report adds: “As for Fox News, the dominant leader in cable news ratings had its worst overall month since before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and its prime-time lineup of hosts all scored their worst numbers in the years since then.”

CNN declined after interest in the story of the missing Malaysian airliner trailed off, the story notes.

Fox’s biggest draw, Bill O’Reilly, had his lowest month since 2001, the piece adds. His audience also reached its oldest median age, at 72.1 years, the report notes.

Fox is averaging 177,000 viewers 25-54 in total day for May, the story reports, with MSNBC averaging 103,000 and CNN averaging 99,000.

The report adds: "The audience for news is generally among the oldest in television. Fox News tends to skew older than its rivals. The median age for MSNBC in May was 62.5. For CNN it was 62.8. For Fox News it was 68.8."

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Comedic Docu-Series Being Expanded

A cable docu-series is set to expand to an hourlong format. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Bravo plans to expand the comedic show “The People’s Couch.”

The longer format will launch June 3 at 10 p.m., the story reports.

The show focuses on TV’s most talked-about moments, and gathers people’s reactions to them. On Tuesday, the show will feature segments from shows including “I Wanna Marry Harry,” the new reality show on Fox, and ABC’s “Modern Family.”

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Nielsen to Expand Its Sample Audience, From Dallas to D.C., From Miami to Chicago. L.A. and N.Y. Too

Ratings giant Nielsen said it’s expanding the sample size of the audience that’s the basis for TV show ratings, reports our friend Meg James in the Los Angeles Times’ Company Town blog.

James writes: "During the next few months, Nielsen expects to increase its audience sample by 200 homes each in Dallas, Denver, Houston, Miami and Washington, D.C.

"The [200-home] expansion should continue to other cities in 2015, including San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia," as well as Charlotte, St. Louis, Atlanta and Phoenix.

The company said it will also increase the size of its audience panels in Los Angeles and New York.

The story adds: “Nielsen has installed electronic devices known as ‘people meters’ in 16,916 homes nationwide. Nielsen uses information gleaned from those devices to determine the popularity of TV shows and local newscasts.”

Both the Los Angeles panel and the New York panel will each add 300 homes next year. In L.A. -- the nation's second-largest market -- Nielsen already uses a sample size of 1,000 homes, the piece adds.

The piece notes: “The company's goal is to boost the quality and stability of its TV ratings, as well as provide more reliable demographic information about people who watch TV shows.” The Nielsen ratings are also used by TV stations, networks, advertisers and media agencies to help set prices paid by marketers for TV commercials.

In total, Nielsen's sample size will increase 30% with this nationwide expansion.

 

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Why the 22-Year-Old Daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis Is Walking Around New York City Topless

"Scout Willis is on a mission to bare it all," says People magazine, adding, "The 22-year-old daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore walked around New York City while topless on Tuesday [May 27, 2014], sharing photos of her promenade to protest Instagram's nudity policy. The social media site has come under fire for deleting pictures of breast cancer survivors and women breastfeeding."

As part of Willis' protest she sent out two topless pictures of herself on Twitter.

Her two tweets that accompanied the pictures were "Legal in NYC but not on @instagram," and "What @instagram won't let you see #FreeTheNipple."

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How NBC Dominated Tuesday Night

How dominant was NBC in the prime-time ratings for Tuesday night? The network more than doubled its closest broadcast rival in the key 18-49 demo for prime time overall, based on Nielsen overnights, with the Peacock's entire prime-time slate topping everything else on broadcast, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

Leading the charge was the two-hour season premiere of "America's Got Talent," which went head-to-head with the two-hour season premiere of "Extreme Weight Loss" and blew the ABC program out of the water. "Talent" bowed with a 3.0 average in the 18-49 demo, to "Extreme's" 1.3.

In the same two-hour block, repeats of "NCIS" and "NCIS: Los Angeles" on CBS managed a 1.2 and a 1.1 average in 18-49, respectively, while Fox's prime-time lineup sputtered to a 0.6 for "Riot" -- up 20% from its premiere -- and a 0.4 for the fading "I Wanna Marry Harry" -- off a whopping 43% from its premiere last week, when it led out from "American Idol."

The 10 p.m. series premiere of NBC's "The Night Shift" brought, if not more good news for the network, at least OK news, with a 1.6 average in viewers 18-49, good enough to win the hour against ABC's "Celebrity Wife Swap" (1.2 average, up 33% from its most recent episode) and a repeat of "Person of Interest" on CBS (0.8 average).

NBC's "Talent" premiere, as dominant as it was, came in 3% below the show's previous season premiere, when it had "The Voice" as a lead-in.

For prime time overall, NBC was the class of the field in the 18-49 demo with a 2.5 average, followed by ABC (1.2 average), Univision and CBS (both 1.1) and Fox (0.5). It was tighter in total viewers, but NBC still easily led with 10.5 million, ahead of CBS (7.5 million), ABC (3.8 million), Univision (2.9 million) and Fox (1.3 million).

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All-Stars of Comedy Turn Up the Heat on 'Mr. Warmth'

An all-star comedy lineup including David Letterman, Jerry Seinfeld, Tina Fey, Jon Stewart and Amy Poehler -- not to mention a few supposedly serious types like Robert De Niro, Brian Williams and Martin Scorsese -- got together to heap both praise and abuse on Don Rickles, a man who has been dishing out plenty of the latter for the past 60 years.

The event was Spike TV's “One Night Only: An All-Star Comedy Tribute to Don Rickles," taped May 6 in New York and premiering tonight on Spike. Click here to read TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin's take on the program -- in which she gives you just enough to whet your appetite.

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Executive Shuffle at NBC

In what Nellie Andreeva describes on Deadline.com as an executive shuffle that was the focus of speculation at “party conversations during the upfronts in New York,” NBC confirmed that head of comedy development Tal Rabinowitz is leaving.

“NBC will revert to combined drama and comedy development and current departments. Head of drama development Pearlena Igbokwe is being named EVP of Drama Programming, which will encompass both development and current operations,” Andreeva writes. “Head of current Vernon Sanders is being named EVP of Comedy Programming and will head up development and current operations for comedy series.”

Both will report to NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke.

While Rabinowitz was brought in by NBC chief Bob Greenblatt in May 2011, the network has been struggling with its comedy slate, Andreeva notes.

She adds: “NBC has been going back-and-forth between having a dedicated current department and combined drama and comedy divisions handling both development and current.”

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E! Pulls the Plug on Drama Project

E! Entertainment has decided not to go ahead with a drama project. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel took a pass on the music-themed pilot “Songbyrd,” from Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.

The project was one of two scripted pilots at E!, the network’s first, the story says. The other scripted pilot is “The Royals,” which was picked up to series in early march.

“Songbyrd” was created by Krista Vernoff and features a songwriter inspired by Diane Warren. It stars Bethany Joy Lenz as the songwriter and Rumer Willis as her sister.

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Syfy Ratchets Up the 'Sharknado' Factor

Syfy has found a way to bring even more "Sharknado" to its viewers. Variety reports that the cable channel is creating its first-ever “Sharknado” week in preparation for the debut of its “Sharknado 2: The Second One."

“Sharknado” week will run from July 26 to Aug. 2, with the premiere of “Sharknado 2” on July 30, a Wednesday. Other programming during the week will include “Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark,” “Sharkmania: The Top 15 Biggest Baddest Bloodiest Bites” and “Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda,” the story notes.

The original “Sharknado” was a huge social-media phenomenon, which drove viewers to the Syfy TV movie.

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Six of the Highest-Paid CEOs Are in the Media Industry -- Here's the Top 10

Six of the 10 highest-earning chief executives last year were in the media industry, according to a ranking compiled by the Associated Press and Equilar.

They include Leslie Moonves of CBS, who earned $65.6 million last year, an increase of 9 percent from the year before, and was the second-highest paid CEO overall in 2013, behind Nabors Industries’ Anthony Petrello, who pulled in $68.2 million.

Other top-paid media CEOs who also ranked in the top 10 of all U.S. chief executives by compensation include Philippe Dauman of Viacom, at $37.2 million, and Robert Iger of Walt Disney, at $34.7 million.

Below is the list of the 10 highest-paid chief executives in 2013, with their percentage change from the year before.

1. Anthony Petrello, Nabors Industries, $68.2 million, up 246 percent
2. Leslie Moonves, CBS, $65.6 million, up 9 percent
3. Richard Adkerson, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, $55.3 million, up 294 percent
4. Stephen Kaufer, TripAdvisor, $39 million, up 510 percent
5. Philippe Dauman, Viacom, $37.2 million, up 11 percent
6. Leonard Schleifer, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, $36.3 million, up 21 percent
7. Robert Iger, Walt Disney, $34.3 million, down 7 percent
8. David Zaslav, Discovery Communications, $33.3 million, down 33 percent
9. Jeffrey Bewkes, Time Warner, $32.5 million, up 27 percent
10. Brian Roberts, Comcast, $31.4 million, up 8 percent

Leslie-Moonves.jpgLeslie Moonves

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CBS Won't Air Remaining Episodes of Canceled Comedies

Two canceled CBS comedies received more bad news, with the network opting against airing the remaining episodes of both “Friends with Better Lives” and “Bad Teacher” this summer, reports TVLine.

Both sitcoms were canceled before the network’s upfront presentation, with other canceled CBS shows including “The Crazy Ones,” “Intelligence” and “Hostages.”

“Friends with Better Lives” has four unaired episodes, while “Bad Teacher” has eight remaining.

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Poet, Civil Rights Advocate Maya Angelou Dead at 86

Poet, essayist, performer and civil rights advocate Maya Angelou has died. The Los Angeles Times reports that Angelou died today, May 28, 2014, at age 86. Her death was announced by Wake Forest University.

"As a poet, Angelou was best known for reading at President Clinton's inauguration in 1993. She was the first African American woman to have that honor, and the first poet to read at the inauguration since Robert Frost more than three decades earlier," the article reports. "The work she composed for the occasion, 'On the Pulse of Morning,' sold more than 1 million copies and its recording won a Grammy Award."

Angelou also was well-known as a writer of prose, including her 1969 memoir, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." "The book, written after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and with the encouragement of her friend James Baldwin, told of her upbringing, facing racism and sexual abuse," the Times reports.

The report notes: "Angelou was born on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis and raised there and in Stamps, Ark., by her grandmother. Her grandmother was relatively well-off, but the family was subject to casual racism and the violence of the Ku Klux Klan. As she wrote in her memoir, at age 8, Angelou was raped by her mother's boyfriend, who was sent to jail for the crime; upon his release, he was beaten to death, possibly by her uncles."

Among her multi-faceted achievements, Angelou was San Francisco's first female African American cable car conductor, toured Europe as a singer in the opera "Porgy and Bess," was a dancer with Alvin Ailey, recorded an album, "Calypso Lady," and acted off-Broadway, the report notes.

"From 1960 through 1964 she worked abroad, in Egypt and Ghana. She returned to the U.S. to help Malcolm X set up an African American university, but he was assassinated. She was then enlisted by King to serve as a regional coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference," the Times adds.

maya angelou.pngMaya Angelou

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One of ESPN's Top Executives Steps Down

A leading executive at ESPN who has been with the sports network for more than three decades is headed out. After joining ESPN in 1981 and rising to executive chairman, George Bodenheimer is leaving the broadcaster at the end of this month, Joe Flint reports in the Los Angeles Times.

Bodenheimer told the broadcaster’s staff Tuesday that this is his final week at the cable sports giant. He had stepped back from handling ESPN’s day-to-day operations in 2012, when John Skipper became chief executive, the piece notes.

“A low-key executive, Bodenheimer didn't want an official press release noting his departure," Flint writes. "Instead ESPN put together a page about him on one of its websites.”

In a staff memo, Skipper wrote, “It is impossible to completely capture the impact George has had on our company and on so many of us during his remarkable 33 years with ESPN.”

george bodenheimer.pngGeorge Bodenheimer

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Fox News Reporter Can Breathe Easier After Supreme Court Decision

The Supreme Court has turned down an appeal from attorneys for James Holmes, who killed 12 people at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., in July 2012. Holmes had demanded that FoxNews.com reporter Jana Winter turn over a source for one of her stories, reports TVNewser.

The court's decision not to hear the case means a New York Court of Appeals ruling will remain in place in the two-year legal battle, the story adds. Winter had reported on a diary kept by Holmes, which he reportedly gave to his psychiatrist before the killings, the piece notes.

“We’re pleased that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of free speech,” Fox News said in a statement. “The Court made it clear that Jana Winter can never be compelled to testify in Colorado, and that all New York-based journalists and media companies can rely on New York’s strong shield law when they are covering news across the country.”

jana winter.pngJana Winter

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New Netflix Drama Series Casts 'Boardwalk Empire' Actor as Lead

An actor from the HBO drama series "Boardwalk Empire" has landed the lead in a new Netflix series. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Netflix’s superhero drama “Daredevil” cast Charlie Cox in the role.

Cox will play Matt Murdock, a blind attorney who fights crime at night. Cox is the first actor to be cast in the Marvel Entertainment property, which recently tapped “Spartacus” creator Steven S. DeKnight as its showrunner.

“For his part, Cox has been a sought-after actor for the past two pilot seasons. He most recently was attached to topline CBS's untitled Wall Street drama from exec producer John Cusack,” the story reports. “That pilot did not move forward at the network. Last year, he starred on CBS's drama pilot ‘The Ordained,’ which also did not move forward. That would have served as his TV follow-up to HBO's ‘Boardwalk Empire,’ where he recurred as Owen for two seasons.”

charlie cox.jpgCharlie Cox

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Television Academy Names New President and COO

The Television Academy has a new president and chief operating officer. TheWrap.com reports that the academy promoted Maury McIntyre to the position, replacing former President Lucy Hood, who died earlier this year.

McIntyre has been with the Academy since March 2013, when he joined as vice president of digital. He has worked on increasing the organization’s digital presence, on online voting for the Primetime Emmys and on a distribution partnership with Yahoo, the story says.

In a statement, Television Academy Chairman and CEO Bruce Rosenblum said: “Maury is a dynamic executive whose vision and experience has helped propel the Academy into the future. Equally important, Maury stepped up during a very difficult time for the Academy to not only lead the staff, but ensure that our membership and organization continued business as usual.”

maury mcintyre.pngMaury McIntyre

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The Donald Sterling Media Circus: In Ring One, Wife Is 'Moving Quickly' to Sell the Clippers. In Ring Two, Donald Sterling's Lawyer Says 'He's not interested in selling. He's going to fight to the bloody end.'

As we've come to expect, lots of contradictions in the ongoing Donald Sterling media circus.

First, CNN reports, "Los Angeles Clippers co-owner [and Donald Sterling's wife] Shelly Sterling is 'moving quickly' to sell the embattled NBA franchise, with a source familiar with the situation saying she and her representatives would like to make a deal this week.

"The recent activity includes talks with several high-profile potential suitors for the team, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is 'very much involved' in Shelly Sterling's dealings with potential buyers, according to the source."

Well, maybe not so fast. That's not what Donald Sterling's lawyer is telling ESPN:

"Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling responded forcefully Tuesday [May 27, 2014] to the NBA's charges to terminate his ownership while his estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, continued to move quickly to sell the team by the end of the week.

"Donald Sterling's lawyer, Max Blecher, told ESPN on Tuesday that his client 'is going to fight to the bloody end' and has effectively 'disavowed' the agreement he reached with his wife last week that would allow her to negotiate a sale of the team.

" 'I don't know what agreement she has with him, but I'm saying to you today, he disavows anything she's doing to sell the team,' Blecher said. 'He says, "It's my team, and I'll sell it when and if I get around to it."'"

ESPN then asked Blecher "why Sterling seems to have had a change of heart."

Blecher told ESPN: "He was in a state of shock at first. Now he's recovering and he's much more feisty."

According to the CNN story, the Clippers could sell for between $1.5 billion and $2 billion.

The CNN story adds that a source "indicated" that Shelly Sterling "met Sunday with a group led by former NBA star Grant Hill to discuss the sale of the Clippers.

"In addition, the source familiar with the situation said she met over the weekend at her Malibu, Calif., home with ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who made an aggressive offer for the franchise." Ballmer says he would keep the team in L.A. and not move it to Seattle.

CNN adds: "Shelly Sterling is interested in fielding offers from billionaire businessman Patrick Soon-Shiong, Hill's group, entertainment mogul David Geffen and Oracle founder Larry Ellison, and entrepreneur Magic Johnson and his Guggenheim partners, who two years ago teamed up to buy baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers."

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'True Detective' Tops List of TCA Awards Nominees -- Here's the Complete List

HBO's "True Detective," starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, leads the list of nominees for this year's Television Critics Association Awards with four nominations, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"The hit HBO anthology series was nominated for program of the year, outstanding achievement in movies, miniseries and specials, and outstanding new program, and Matthew McConaughey was singled out for individual achievement in drama," the report notes.

Close behind are "The Good Wife," "Breaking Bad" and "The Americans," with three nominations apiece.

Other shows on the list include some awards show perennials, such as "Louie," "Game of Thrones," "The Big Bang Theory," "The Daily Show" and "Sesame Street," the report notes.

The piece adds: "And a crop of newcomers are making their mark:  Logo’s 'RuPaul’s Drag Race,'  Netflix’s critically acclaimed women’s prison dramedy 'Orange Is the New Black,' FX’s small-screen adaptation of the Coen brothers' 'Fargo,' and Fox all-stars 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' and 'Sleepy Hollow,' as well as ABC Family's 'The Fosters.'"

The awards will be presented July 19 in Beverly Hills.

Please click here to see the full list of nominees.

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Author of 'The Notebook,' 'A Walk to Remember' and Other Bestsellers Makes TV Debut as an Executive Producer

A best-selling author whose books include "The Notebook," "A Walk to Remember" and "Safe Haven" is set to make his TV debut as an executive producer on Lifetime's Civil War drama "Deliverance Creek."

The two-hour event program is scheduled to premiere Saturday, Sept. 13, with author Nicholas Sparks on board.

"From executive producer/writer Melissa Carter ('Jane By Design,' 'Little Black Book') and starring Emmy nominee/SAG Award winner Lauren Ambrose ('Six Feet Under'), 'Deliverance Creek' is a revenge drama centering on a widow and mother of three who is determined to protect her family and land at any cost during the Civil War," Lifetime said in a release. "'Deliverance Creek' also stars Wes Ramsey ('CSI: Miami'), Yaani King ('Mad Men'), Caitlin Custer ('Teen Wolf'), Christopher Backus ('Elevator'), Riley Smith ('90210'), Katherine Willis ('Friday Night Lights') and Christopher Baker ('Sanctum').  Skeet Ulrich ('Jericho,' 'Scream'), Barry Tubb ('Revolution') and Joel Johnstone ('The Newsroom') guest star."

The project is written by Melissa Carter and directed by Jon Amiel ("The Borgias").

The release adds this description of the story: "Two years into the Civil War, Belle Gatlin Barlowe (Ambrose) faces uncertainty in the life before her as she attempts to defend her family’s land by any means necessary. When the corrupt bank that runs their town pushes Belle into becoming an outlaw, the stakes become personal, setting off a chain of events that force her to question whether it’s better to be good or to survive."

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Fox's '24' Event Series Continues to Lose Ground, as a Fox Reality Franchise Premieres to a Soft Rating -- So How Did Fox Win the Night?

Fox had a tough Monday night in the ratings, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo, but despite its struggles Fox pulled off a win for the night as the other broadcast networks fared even worse on the Memorial Day holiday.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that Fox's eagerly anticipated reboot of "24" continued to lose ground, while its reality franchise "MasterChef" saw a large drop in the turnout for its season premiere. For prime time overall, Fox managed only a 1.5 average rating in viewers 18-49. But the best any of the other big four broadcast nets could do was a 1.3.

"24: Live Another Day" settled for a 1.5 average in the 18-49 demo, falling 12% from a week ago, while Fox's "MasterChef" premiere delivered only a 1.4 -- down 33% from the season premiere a year ago.

ABC and NBC tied for second overall in prime time. NBC's two-hour season premiere of "American Ninja Warrior" pulled in a 1.5 average in adults 18-49, down 12% from the show's previous season premiere. The network led into it with an "American Ninja Warrior" clip show, which produced a 0.9.

ABC saw its two-hour "Bachelorette" sink to a series low with a 1.4 in 18-49, down 30% from last week's number. The network rounded out its prime time with a repeat of "Castle" (0.9 average).

CBS aired a mix of repeats and fresh programming, winding up in fifth place among the broadcast networks behind Univision. The fresh shows were "Friends With Better Lives," which sank to a series-low 1.4 average in the 18-49 demo, losing 13% from a week ago; and "48 Hours," which defied the overall downtrend by rising 13% from Saturday's rating with a 0.9.

For prime time overall, Fox led the 18-49 demo with a 1.5 average, ahead of ABC and NBC (both with 1.3 averages), Univision (1.1) and CBS (1.0). ABC topped the list in total viewers with 5.3 million, ahead of CBS (5.0 million), Fox (4.9 million), NBC (4.1 million) and Univision (2.7 million).

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'Daredevil' Meets 'Spartacus': Upcoming Superhero Series Finds Its Showrunner

An upcoming superhero series that lost its director earlier this year is back on track with a new exec producer and showrunner.

Deadline.com reports that the Marvel series “Daredevil,” which is set to debut on Netflix next year, has tapped “Spartacus” creator Steven S. DeKnight as its new executive producer/showrunner.

The 13-episode series was originally slated to have Drew Goddard as its writer, executive producer and director, but Goddard pulled out from his directing duties in March after he received a movie assignment from Sony, with “The Amazing Spider-Man” spinoff film “The Sinister Six.”

Goddard will remain as executive producer, and has written the first two episodes of “Daredevil,” the report notes. While DeKnight is under an overall deal at Starz, he was let out of the deal to work on the Netflix series, the piece adds.

The production team continues to search for a director for episode one.

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Longtime 'Supernatural' Actor Is Promoted

An actor who has appeared on the CW drama series “Supernatural” since 2009 has received a promotion. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Mark Sheppard will be a series regular role starting with the show's 10th season.

Sheppard, who plays Crowley, the King of Hell, will join Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki and Misha Collins as the drama's regulars, the story reports.

His character first appeared in the middle of the show’s fifth season, and has recurred ever since. The ninth season ended with his character springing a surprise twist on Dean, played by Ackles.

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Actor Who Became Famous Playing a TV Villain Dead at 69

A TV, feature film and stage actor who was known for his long run as a television villain has died. ABC News reports that Matthew Cowles, who played the villainous Billy Clyde Tuggle on ABC’s “All My Children,” died May 22 at 69.

Cowles is survived by his wife of 30 years, actress Christine Baranski of “The Good Wife,” and their two daughters. The story doesn’t provide a cause of death.

Cowles received two Daytime Emmy nominations for his role on “All My Children,” appearing on the show from 1977 until 1990, when his character set off what was believed to be a fatal explosion. His character reappeared in 2013, however.

His manager, Tsu Tsu Stanton, confirmed the actor's death on Twitter, writing: "#Matthew Cowles passed away on 5/22. I had the pleasure of being his manager. He was a very gifted and kind man who loved life and everyone."

Cowles' many film credits included "The Money Pit," "Slap Shot" and "Shutter Island."

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Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow Blast Washington Post Critic for Connecting Them to the Killings in Isla Vista

"Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow criticized Washington Post critic Ann Hornaday for writing that films such as the ones produced by Rogen and Apatow -- as well as many others -- are part of what led Elliot Rodger to kill six people near the University of Santa Barbara campus on May 23," according to The Huffington Post.

The Post report adds: "'How many students watch outsized frat-boy fantasies like "Neighbors" and feel, as Rodger did, unjustly shut out of college life that should be full of "sex and fun and pleasure"?' Hornaday wrote, referencing the recent comedy starring Rogen. 'How many men, raised on a steady diet of Judd Apatow comedies in which the shlubby arrested adolescent always gets the girl, find that those happy endings constantly elude them and conclude, "It’s not fair"?" '

Rogen tweeted these two responses to Hornaday:

".@AnnHornaday I find your article horribly insulting and misinformed" and

".@AnnHornaday how dare you imply that me getting girls in movies caused a lunatic to go on a rampage."

Apatow tweeted:

" '@Sethrogen: .@AnnHornaday I find your article horribly insulting and misinformed.' She uses tragedy to promote herself with idiotic thoughts"

Apatow also tweeted: " '@melissa5001: @Sethrogen @marshallsheldon @AnnHornaday why is it always everything but mental illness?' Because that doesn't sell papers."

 

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Sumner Redstone Sells Off Hundreds of Millions in Viacom and CBS Stock

Media magnate Sumner Redstone, who along with his family is the majority owner in CBS Corp. and Viacom, sold more than $200 million worth of stock in the companies during May, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The sales allowed Redstone to pocket about $236 million from exercising options and selling the underlying shares. In 2014 alone, he has raised more than $300 million from stock sales, including the recent cash-out, the piece reports.

“Mr. Redstone, who serves as executive chairman at both companies, has been clearing up his estate to take advantage of tax benefits, say people familiar with the situation,” the story reports.

The report adds: “He also has made a number of philanthropic commitments that need to be met, including pledges to George Washington University, Harvard Law School, which he attended, and Boston University School of Law, where he once taught.”

Redstone, who turns 91 today (Tuesday, May 27, 2014), isn’t traveling much now, and his mobility is “challenged,” the story adds.

“On earnings calls, his statements are brief and sometimes hard to decipher,” the article notes. “At the CBS annual meeting in Los Angeles on Thursday, a curtain was pulled back to reveal Mr. Redstone already seated at a table alongside other executives on the stage.”

The story adds: “In a strong but slurred voice, he welcomed the crowd and introduced CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, whom he referred to as ‘a super genius.’ As soon as the meeting -- held at the studio where ‘The Price is Right’ is taped -- was adjourned, the curtain was drawn again.”

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Hollywood's First Black Singing Cowboy Dies

The film industry’s first black singing cowboy, who made history as the lead in all-black Westerns in the 1930s, has died. The Los Angeles Times reports that Herb Jeffries died Sunday of heart failure at West Hills Hospital and Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 100.

The report cites Raymond Strait, who had been working with the singer and actor on his autobiography.

Jeffries sang with the Duke Ellington Orchestra in the early 1940s, scoring his biggest musical hit with "Flamingo." The song, which sold millions of copies and is considered a jazz classic, became Jeffries' signature number.

“As the African American answer to Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and other white singing cowboys, Jeffries made a handful of low-budget westerns in the '30s,” the story notes. His films include “The Bronze Buckaroo” and “Harlem Rides the Range.”

Jeffries came up with the concept of Westerns with all-black casts, the piece notes.

“Little children of dark skin -- not just Negroes, but Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, everybody of color -- had no heroes in the movies," he told the L.A. Times in 1998. "I was so glad to give them something to identify with."

Jeffries was born Umberto Valentino, the son of a Sicilian father, an Irish mother and a great-grandparent who was Ethiopian, the piece adds. “So I'm an Italian-looking mongrel with a percentage of Ethiopian blood, which enabled me to get work with black orchestras,” he told the Oklahoman in 2004.

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CBS Program Chalks Up Its Best Season Since the Advent of People Meters

CBS has a ratings achievement to cheer about in a segment that doesn't get as much attention as prime time. TVNewser reports that “CBS News Sunday Morning” is wrapping up the 2013-14 season with a milestone, averaging 6 million viewers for the season -- the biggest audience for a season since “the advent of people meters in 1987."

“The ratings stalwart was the top-rated Sunday morning news program in both total viewers and the A25-54 demographic, as usual," the report notes. "‘CBS Sunday Morning’ averaged 1.5/07 in the demo, building on its performance last season in both ratings metrics.”

The show is hosted by Charles Osgood, who took over from original host Charles Kuralt in 1994. In the May sweeps, the program pulled in 5.81 million viewers, 4% more than a year ago, also marking the highest-rated May sweeps for the show since 1987.

The program has been on the air since 1979.

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'Dexter' Star Sounds Off About How the Series Ended

“Dexter” star Michael C. Hall is sounding off about the how the Showtime drama series ended, and he's apparently not a fan of the finale, according to an interview with the Daily Beast. (Please stop reading here if you're still waiting to watch the "Dexter" finale because the report contains a spoiler.)

“Liked it? I don’t think I even watched it,” Hall said of the finale, which showed his serial-killer character living as a lumberjack. “I thought it was narratively satisfying—but it was not so savory.”

The series wrapped in September 2013 after eight seasons on Showtime.

Hall added, “I think the show had lost a certain amount of torque. Just inherently because of how long we’d done it, because of the storytelling capital we’d spent, because our writers may have been gassed.”

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Finally, Data Made Public Shows Why Experts Say Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Ran Out of Fuel and Crashed Into the Indian Ocean

"Australia has concluded that the Malaysian passenger jet missing since early March likely crashed into the Indian Ocean after running out of fuel," reports the Voice of America.

The article reports: "The Australian report [relased today, Tuesday, May 27, 2014] said the conclusion was based on analysis of the final brief data exchange between the jet with 239 people aboard and a satellite monitoring air traffic."

The story adds: "The report came as Malaysia released 45 pages of raw satellite data collected by Britain's Inmarsat telecommunications company used to calculate the suspected crash site, believed to be off the western coast of Australia. Flight 370 had been headed from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it disappeared in the early hours of March 8, but weeks of intensive air and sea searches have found no trace of the Boeing 777."

However, not all the relatives of the passengers on the plane were satisfied with the data released, the story notes, reporting: "A relative of a missing passenger, Steve Wang ... found the new information lacking. 'Well, since I have already looked at the report, it only contains the data, but what we want is the full version of the Inmarsat report including the data, and also the way how you calculate. The method and the formula you use. That is also very important, because only simply data means nothing. Only data cannot lead to the conclusion, only data cannot lead to the ending. There must be other analyzing and we want to see the full version of the report,' he said."

If you cliick on this link, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-27586980, it will take you to a short BBC video that explains how the data was used to reach the conclusion that the Malaysian jetliner ran out of fuel and crashed.

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Tennis Channel Unveils New Distribution Model

The Tennis Channel aims to put “a new spin” on the model for TV sports programming, the Los Angeles Times reports, with the sports network ready to go directly to consumers by selling a digital subscription service.

The service is called Tennis Channel Plus and costs $59.99 for one-year, or $9.99 for a one-day pass.

“Tennis Channel Plus is not meant to replace the linear Tennis Channel. Instead it is a completely complementary service," Adam Ware, head of digital media for the Tennis Channel, told the publication.

The network has been trying to find a way to monetize the hours of tennis that viewers never see, because it doesn’t have enough time on its TV network to air everything, including lower-profile matches, the report notes.

"More people are consuming long-form programming on their mobile devices," Ware said. "And live sports has been driving the increase in long-form viewing. Live sports is the perfect vehicle -- it is the most valuable content out there."

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Comcast Waging a 'Campaign of Shock and Awe' to Win Approval for TWC Merger

Comcast is “waging a campaign of shock and awe” in an effort to gain approval for its merger with Time Warner Cable, reports The Hill.

The company has added seven lobbying firms in an attempt to win approval for the deal, making it one of the biggest lobbyist teams “ever seen in Washington,” the piece notes.

Comcast’s lobbying team was already one of the city’s biggest, with 33 firms, and that number has now grown to 40 firms on its payroll. “The new hires have given Comcast extensive connections to federal agencies and congressional committees that are vetting the merger,” the story adds.

Lobbyists now working for Comcast include ex-aides for the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission, along with former officials in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, the piece adds.

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Netflix Eyes Project Based on 2001 Cult Film

Netflix is in discussions for a project based on a 2001 cult movie. Variety reports that the online streaming service is talking with “Wet Hot American Summer” co-writer and director David Wain and co-writer Michael Showalter about reviving the property.

The project would be a 10-episode prequel for Netflix, and would include many of the movie’s original cast members. The actors would play their high-school age characters, even though many of them are now in their 40s, the piece adds.

The story notes: “While it might seem a tall order to reunite the original cast, the plan is to make it happen by having each of the actors shoot their scenes in just a few days because not every character will appear in every episode. The original cast included Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Amy Poehler, Elizabeth Banks, Ken Marino, Molly Shannon, Christopher Meloni, Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Michael Ian Black, Joe Lo Truglio and Showalter."

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Justin Bieber Set for Appearance on Competition Show

Pop singer Justin Bieber is set for a guest appearance on a TV competition show. TheWrap.com reports that Bieber, who has been in the headlines lately mainly for a series of scrapes with the lawy, will appear on the Fox dancing competition “So You Think You Can Dance."

Bieber will introduce dance groups that are competing for a spot in the show’s finale, beginning with the May 28 season premiere. He will introduce two dance crews on each of the show’s four audition episodes, the story says.

“The singer will also help unleash a new, Twitter-centric element to the series; after the dance crews are showcased, viewers can vote for their favorite of the two crews using Twitter hashtags. Whichever crews accumulate the most tweets will be invited to perform on the season finale,” the story reports.

The report adds that Bieber is a “social media phenomenon” with almost 52 million Twitter followers.

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Barbara Walters' Archives Go to Her Alma Mater

Television icon Barbara Walters will give her archives -- papers, photos and tapes from her journalism career -- to her alma mater, Sarah Lawrence College, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Walters made the announcement Friday, when she made an unexpected appearance at the college’s commencement, the story notes. She told the graduates that she had benefited from attending “a college where I was not afraid to ask questions.”

In a statement, college President Karen Lawrence said the college is thrilled by Walters’ gift, the piece adds.

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Not Very Funny Enough? TBS Cancels Show

TBS has canceled a show, saying it was it was ending the program because "We just couldn't draw the audience needed to justify" ordering more episodes, reports Lesley Goldberg in a scoop for The Hollywood Reporter.

The program is "TBS' late-night talker 'The Pete Holmes Show,'" says THR. The show airs after Conan O'Brien on TBS.

The story notes that "The midnight show starring comedian Pete Holmes will end its run June 19 after more than 70 episodes. TBS launched the series with a seven-week run in 2013 and renewed the four-night-a-week series for a second season of 13 weeks in January."

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NBC Back on Top on Thursday Night -- But These Aren't Exactly 'Must-See TV' Numbers

It wasn't exactly a flashback to the glory days of NBC's "Must-See TV" Thursday night lineup, but NBC did bring in enough viewers in the key 18-49 demo to win Thursday prime time among the broadcast networks, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC rolled out the two-hour premiere of "Last Comic Standing" to a 1.7 average in the 18-49 demo -- down from a 2.0 for the show's previous season premiere, back in 2010. NBC's 1.1 average for "Hollywood Game Night" -- equaling last week's rating -- gave the Peacock Network an overall 1.5 for prime time, good enough to win on a night punctuated by repeat programs on other broadcast nets.

CBS came in second in the 18-49 demo -- and first in total viewers, even with a modest average of 5.8 million for prime time -- getting by with an almost all-repeat lineup. The Tiffany Network's lone original program, "Bad Teacher," produced one of its lowest numbers in 18-49, a 1.1 average, off three-tenths from a week ago.

Among the CBS reruns, "The Big Bang Theory" did the best with a 2.2 average in 18-49, followed by "The Millers" (1.5 average), "Two and a Half Men" (1.3) and "Elementary" (0.9).

Fox and Univision tied for third place overall in viewers 18-49, as Fox's new "Gang Related" premiered to a soft 0.9 average. "Hell's Kitchen" dipped two-tenths from a week ago to a 1.5.

ABC aired repeats of "The Bachelorette" (0.6 average in 18-49) and "Modern Family" (0.8), along with a fresh "Black Box," which fell three-tenths from what was already a series low a week ago and hit a new series low with a 0.8.

For prime time overall, NBC's 1.5 average was the best the broadcast networks could do in the 18-49 demo, followed by CBS (1.3 average), Fox and Univision (both 1.2) and ABC (0.7). The numbers in total viewers weren't much better, with CBS on top with 5.8 million, ahead of NBC (4.9 million), Fox (3.6 million), ABC (3.1 million) and Univision (2.7 million).

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'The Shield' Actor Formally Charged with Murder; Arraignment Delayed

Actor Michael Jace, known for his roles on "The Shield" and in the 2009 feature film "State of Play," was formally charged Thursday with murder with a gun in connection with the shooting death of his wife, CNN reports.

"April Jace, 40, died from 'multiple gunshot wounds,' according to preliminary autopsy results. The death was ruled a homicide by the Los Angeles County coroner, Deputy Chief Coroner Ed Winter said," CNN reports. "Jace, 51, made his first appearance in a Los Angeles courtroom Thursday afternoon. Bail was set at $2 million, and his arraignment was continued until June 18 at the defense's request."

Jason Sias, Jace's attorney, commented: "He's doing as well as somebody who is in custody. It's emotional. He wants to see this through. He's just thinking about his children."

Jace was arrested early Tuesday in connection with the shooting Monday night at the couple's home in the Hyde Park area of Los Angeles, as we reported previously.

"Los Angeles police detectives presented their evidence against Jace, who played a Los Angeles cop in TV's 'The Shield,' to the district attorney Thursday morning, according to spokeswoman Jane Robison," the CNN report notes.

The article adds: "Michael Jace called 911 to report that his wife had been shot, Det. Dean Vinluan said, adding that he 'was on the phone with the operator.' Neighbors who heard gunshots also called 911, he said."

The police said in a statement earlier this week that the motive is thought to be domestic violence.

"Two children were in the home when their mother was shot, Vinluan said. The children, whose ages he would not reveal, were taken to a police station and then handed over to a representative of California's Department of Children and Family Services, he said," the story reports.

The piece adds: "A woman described as a close friend of Jace's first wife said in a sworn statement that she witnessed Jace physically abusing his wife in 1997. The declaration was in court records from Jace's 2005 custody case concerning his son with Jennifer Bitterman.

"Jace 'choked and hit' his wife and 'slammed her against the wall while (their infant son) screamed in his crib next to her,' Maria De Le Vegas said in the sworn declaration obtained by CNN."

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Tarantino Wants to Bring a New 'Django Unchained' to Television

Director Quentin Tarantino is working on a plan to put more "Django Unchained" on the screen -- only this time it's the small screen. USA Today reports that Tarantino wants to use extra footage from the movie to create a TV miniseries.

"The director told an audience at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday that he's mulling over a special four-hour miniseries of the 2012 Oscar-winning American Western," the story reports.

Tarantino reportedly said: "I have about 90 minutes worth of material with Django. It hasn't been seen. My idea, frankly, is to cut together a four-hour version of Django Unchained.

"But I wouldn't show it like a four-hour movie. I would cut it up into hour chapters. Like a four-part miniseries. And show it on cable television. Show it like an hour at a time, each chapter."

Tarantino added: "We'd use all the material I have and it wouldn't be an endurance test. It would be a miniseries. And people love those."

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Ryan Seacrest May Soon Have Some High-Profile Competition for His New Year's Eve Program

A new program is in the works that sounds as though it will be in a similar vein to “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest,” and the new show has its own high-profile Hollywood figure attached, reports the New York Post’s Page Six.

Actor Will Smith and his company Overbrook Entertainment are working on their own New Year’s Eve television special, the story reports.

Smith reportedly wants to film the special in Miami and include soccer star David Beckham in the project, with a focus on his Miami soccer team, the story notes. It would also feature musical performances, with Smith potentially among the performers.

The story notes that Smith’s representative didn’t return a request for comment.

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Morgan Freeman on Helium Goes Viral

A new video in which actor Morgan Freeman inhales helium has gone viral, with a number of media outlets (including ours) picking it up.

MTV.com calls it "The Best Video You'll See Today," while HitFix says it's "the closest you'll ever get to hearing the voice of the god of mice."

Decide for yourself:

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'Extra' Loses On-Air Personality Who Has Been a Fixture on the Show

The syndicated entertainment newsmagazine “Extra” has lost one of its most prominent on-air personalities. Deadline.com reports that Maria Menounos is headed out after signing a deal with E! to host her own one-hour entertainment newsmagazine show.

Menounos, who has been a host on "Extra" since 2011, will also appear on the roundtable show “Live from E!” and on E! specials. The network has also signed a first-look deal with her production company, Underman/Omegagirl Productions.

The new E! show, “Untold with Maria Menounos,” will look at topics ranging from Gen Y royals to reality stars, the story notes. Each episode will include three segments focusing on individual topics, with additional segments such as a pop-culture minute.

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$1 Billion Media Buying Account Won by Media Agency OMD

Media agency OMD has won an account that's worth more than $1 billion in media buying, reports our good friend Jack Neff at Advertising Age.

Writes Neff: "Johnson & Johnson has moved its $1 billion-plus U.S. media buying account to OMD from Interpublic's J3, a J&J-dedicated unit of UM, the company said. J3 will continue to handle media planning, which is the larger piece of the media business from a revenue standpoint, a J&J spokeswoman said."

OMD is owned by Interpublic rival Omnicom.

The article continues: " 'We're shifting some of our focus from a marketing perspective from products to really looking at what consumers are looking for in media,' the spokeswoman said. 'We're taking a look at everything we're doing and trying to figure out the best mix.'

"The move follows the hiring late last year of former Coca-Cola executive Alison Lewis as the first chief marketing officer of J&J's consumer business, which, while smaller by revenue than the pharmaceutical and medical-device businesses, is by far the biggest media spender in the company. The media-buying account includes all the J&J U.S. businesses."

Like TVWeek, Advertising Age is owned by Crain Communications.

To read Neff's full article, please click here.
 

 

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TVWeek Memorial Day Holiday Schedule

TVWeek is taking off Monday, May 26, for the Memorial Day holiday, and will not publish our newsletters that day. We will return with all of our newsletters on Tuesday, May 27, 2014.

Meanwhile, if news breaks, we'll send out a TVWeek EXTRA.

From our family to your family, we wish you a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend.

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Why Brian Williams Has Been Missing From 'NBC Nightly News'

Brian Williams' recent absence from “NBC Nightly News” was explained when it was revealed that Williams was off landing the first-ever U.S. television interview with former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, TVNewser reports.

Williams traveled to Moscow for the interview, where he talked with Snowden for several hours. While Snowden is a U.S. citizen, he has a revoked passport and has been living in exile since he leaked classified documents about American surveillance programs, the piece notes.

“Lester Holt, filling in for Brian Williams on Tuesday’s ‘Nightly News [May 20th, 2014],’ said Williams would be back for Wednesday’s show. When he wasn’t -- Holt filled in again -- that got us wondering where Williams was. Now we know,” the story adds.

Williams' interview with Snowden will air as an hour-long prime time special on NBC on Wednesday, May 28, at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

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Feasting From the Buffet That Is TV's Upfronts: All You Can Eat -- and More

TV's recent upfront presentations showcased a veritable buffet of series and special events coming to broadcast and cable, with TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin on hand to take it all in. Now Hillary has sifted all that information -- separating the wheat from the chaff and the desserts from the main course -- into one convenient, tasty summary spotlighting the best of what television will have to offer in fall and beyond.

Please click here for Hillary's roundup of highlights from the upfronts and her handy guide to the new programming that viewers will be looking forward to in the months ahead.

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Judge Rules in $100 Million Dispute Over 'Hawaii Five-0'

A ruling by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge in a $100 million lawsuit over "Hawaii Five-0" handed a victory to CBS and the late widow of the show's creator, Leonard Freeman, reports The Hollywood Reporter’s Hollywood, Esq.

The lawsuit was filed by George Litto, who was Freeman’s agent when the show first ran on CBS.

“When Freeman passed away in 1974, Litto renegotiated a deal with CBS giving 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 Rose Freeman a substantial stake in the show and a sweetheart arrangement in which it wouldn't be allowed to recoup production overages,” the story notes.

But later, after a dispute between CBS and Rose Freeman, Litto and Freeman created an agreement to set up a joint venture to profit from future productions. Then, when CBS was looking as reviving the franchise, the network made a deal with Freeman and not with Litto or their joint company.

“In the lawsuit, Litto contended that he was wrongfully cut out of an allegedly improper deal that gave back the benefits of the 1974 agreement,” the story notes.

The report adds: “Earlier this month, Judge Elizabeth Allen White conducted a trial over how to interpret the 1997 agreement between Litto and Freeman. After considering the evidence, she now has issued a proposed statement of decision that the deal didn't transfer rights to the CBS series, and thus, Litto must fail in claims of having been usurped on the later arrangement between Freeman and CBS.”

The Freeman family said in a statement it is “immensely gratified and relieved” by the decision. An attorney for Litto said the decision “will not withstand appeal.”

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'Smash' Star Joins Showtime's 'Masters of Sex'

One of the stars of the NBC musical drama series "Smash" has landed a role on the Showtime program "Masters of Sex." The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that actor Christian Borle will have a recurring role on the show.

Borle will play Frank Masters, the brother of William Masters, who is played by Michael Sheen.

Borle is known for his performances both on Broadway and on screen, with stage roles in shows such as “Spamalot” and “Legally Blonde.” His other TV work includes “The Sound of Music Live!” and “The Good Wife.”

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Protest Held Outside Comcast's Shareholders Meeting

Comcast faced tough questions and remarks from consumer advocates and customers over its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable at its annual shareholders meeting, which also drew a protesters, reports the Los Angeles Times.

“So many people around the county dislike this plan to allow Comcast to gobble up so many more customers, including in major markets like Los Angeles," Hannah Sassaman, an organizer of the protest, said.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts told investors attending the meeting that the merger will provide benefits.

“We think this is bringing together two great long-standing cable companies who operate in different markets," Roberts said. "To have those [Time Warner Cable] markets joined with our world-class suite of products will enable us to continue to innovate and grow our company."

The publication says “a handful of shareholders” criticized Comcast within the meeting, with about one in 10 speakers citing the merger as a concern.

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Ryan Seacrest's New Game Show Headed to Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon has bought a new game show from Ryan Seacrest’s production company called “Webheads,” which will ask contestants questions about viral videos, reports TheWrap.com.

The show will feature “Big Time Rush” star Carlos PenaVega as the host, and will air Monday-Friday starting in June. The program will anchor the network’s weekday live-action block, the report notes.

“We're excited to work with Nickelodeon on our first game show, which we believe will appeal to everyone in the family,” Seacrest said in a statement. “Carlos is a terrific host, and we believe our format combines the popular obsession of viral videos with fun physical gameplay in a fresh and engaging way.”

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Netflix Close to Deal With Academy Award Nominees for Royal Drama

Online streaming service Netflix is reportedly closing in on a deal to create a drama series with Academy Award nominees Peter Morgan and Stephen Daldry, which would be based on their play “The Audience,” according to EW.com’s Inside TV.

The royal drama, called “The Crown,” will be written by Morgan and directed by Daldry. The play starred Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II, her second time playing the monarch. She won an Oscar for playing the queen in Morgan’s 2006 film “The Queen.”

The series will be produced by Sony Pictures Television.

Morgan has earned Oscar nominations for adapting his play “Frost/Nixon” and writing the original screenplay for “The Queen,” while Daldry earned his for directing “The Reader,” “The Hours” and “Billy Elliot.”
 

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HP Launches 7-Inch Tablet for $100. One Commentator Says Price Is 'Ridiculously Cheap'

"HP is bringing some competition to the U.S. tablet market with its ridiculously cheap HP 7 Plus for just $100," writes Sam Lehman at Headlines and Global News.

Lehman continues, "For that price, the HP 7 Plus features a 1GHz quad-core processor, a good bargain for such a low-priced tablet. Other specs include a 7-inch 1024 x 600 resolution display, 1GB Ram and 8GB internal storage with microSD card support. The camera is aided with 2 megapixels in the back and 0.3 megapixels for the front. The tablet carries a 2,800 mAh battery to last up to five and half hours. For this price the features seem to be adequate.

"To attract the customers,  HP is debuting its 7 Plus tablet in the U.S. by throwing in 25GB of free lifetime storage with Box and also Kingsoft Office software."

In another review, the Droid Guy says, according to Tech Times, " 'There's really nothing extraordinary about the specs of the HP 7 Plus,' states the review. 'On the positive side this model comes with a quad core 1GHz processor combined with 1GB of RAM, which should be sufficient enough to provide a smooth experience when running multiple applications.'

"The site says it's made for consumers seeking an everyday device for checking email, updating social networks and just browsing the Web: 'For a $100 price tag this is already a good buy considering that there are other worse tablets out in the market carrying a higher price tag. On the other hand, consumers looking for a gaming tablet should stay away from this device as it isn't designed to handle graphically intense games.'"

One can find the HP 7 Plus at the Hewlett-Packard website.

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Fox's 'Idol' Finale Plunges From a Year Ago

The broadcast networks aired a number of season finales Wednesday night, with decidedly mixed results, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that one bellwether program, "American Idol," was way down from the finale a year ago, falling a full ratings point in the 18-49 demo, from a 3.6 last year to a 2.6 last night. But the two-hour "Idol" was up a half-point from last week, and still did well enough to give Fox a win for the night in the demo.

CBS's two-hour "Survivor" finale earned a preliminary 2.5 average in 18-49, off slightly from a 2.6 last week and from a 2.7 for the spring finale last year, which aired on a Sunday. The report notes that "Survivor" ran over by 13 minutes, with the winner revealed in those final minutes -- an indication that significant adjustments can be expected.

Leading out from "Survivor," the show's reunion special delivered a 2.0 in the 18-49 demo, down from a 2.2 last spring.

ABC's season finales of "The Middle" and "Modern Family" were up from last week. "The Middle" inched up one-tenth to a 2.0 in viewers 18-49, with "Modern Family" surging four-tenths to a 3.6. "Mixology's" series finale held steady with a 1.3.

ABC rolled out the second-season premiere of "Motive," which was well off the pace of a year ago. Wednesday night's program settled for a 0.9 in the 18-49 demo, down from a 1.3 for the series premiere.

NBC's series finale of "Revolution" matched the show's all-time low, a 1.1 average in adults 18-49, slipping one-tenth from a week ago. "Law & Order: SVU" equaled its 1.6 from last week, while "Chicago PD" ticked up one-tenth to a 1.6.

For prime time overall, Fox led the pack in the 18-49 demo with a 2.6 average, ahead of CBS (2.4 average), ABC (1.8), NBC (1.4) and Univision (1.1). Fox also won total viewers, averaging 10.1 million to lead CBS (8.9 million), ABC (6.2 million), NBC (5.6 million) and Univision (2.5 million).

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'Duck Dynasty' Patriarch Has More to Say About 'Homosexual Offenders'

The outspoken patriarch of the Robertson clan featured on A&E's "Duck Dynasty" hasn't given up on expressing his views on homosexuality. USA Today reports that Phil Robertson brought up the subject while delivering an Easter Sunday sermon April 20 at Whites Ferry Road Church in West Monroe, La., his hometown.

A video of the sermon is "making the rounds," the report notes. We'll post it below.

"Robertson seems to be mentioning the GQ article that caused controversy last year when he made anti-gay remarks and was put 'on hiatus' from the A&E show for a short period of time," USA Today reports.

The piece quotes Robertson saying about 8 minutes into the talk: “You say, why’d they get mad at you? ‘Cuz instead of acknowledging their sin, like you had better do, they railed against me for giving them the truth about their sins. Don’t deceive yourselves.”

Robertson reportedly adds: “Is homosexual behavior a sin? The guy asked me. I said, do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Don’t be deceived.”

He then adds: “Neither the sexually immoral, nor the idolators, nor adulterers nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

As we reported previously, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is scheduled to be a part of the show's sixth-season premiere, set for June 11.

Here's the video of Robertson's sermon:

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Lifetime Sets Plans for Whitney Houston-Bobby Brown Movie; Oscar-Nominated Actress to Direct

An Oscar-nominated actress is set to make her directorial debut on a high-profile Lifetime Original Movie. Variety reports that Angela Bassett will direct the project focusing on the life of singer Whitney Houston.

"Scheduled for a 2015 world premiere under the working title of 'Whitney Houston,' the pic chronicles the headline-making relationship between the iconic singer, actress, producer and model, and singer-songwriter Bobby Brown -- from the time they first met at the very height of their celebrity, to their courtship and tumultuous marriage," the story reports.

In a statement, Bassett said: “I have such regard for both Whitney’s and Bobby’s amazing talents and accomplishments; and I feel a responsibility in the telling of their story. Their humanity and bond fascinates us all. I’m beyond excited to have this opportunity to go behind the camera and into their world.”

Bassett received an Oscar nomination in 1994 for her lead performance in "What's Love Got to Do With It."

The project will be produced by The Sanitsky Company, with Larry Sanitsky executive producing. The script was written by Shem Bitterman.

The report adds: "Bassett and Lifetime previously collaborated on last year’s original movie 'Betty & Coretta.' Starring Bassett and Mary J. Blige, the Humanitas Prize finalist told the dual real-life stories of Coretta Scott King (Bassett) and Dr. Betty Shabazz (Blige), wives of Dr. Martin Luther King (Malik Yoba) and Malcolm X (Lindsay Owen Pierre), who formed an unbreakable life-long bond after their husbands’ tragic assassinations."

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Paul McCartney Hospitalized; Tour Dates Canceled

Paul McCartney has been hospitalized, with USA Today reporting that his tour dates in Japan and a planned concert in South Korea have been canceled.

The former Beatle was reportedly recovering in a hospital in Tokyo with a virus infection.

In a statement, McCartney spokeswoman Perri Cohen said: "Paul received successful medical treatment at a hospital in Tokyo. He will make a complete recovery and has been ordered to take a few days rest. Paul has been extremely moved by all the messages and well wishes he has received from fans all over the world."

USA Today adds: "His 'Out There' tour is scheduled to resume June 14 in Lubbock, Texas, with stops in Dallas, New Orleans, Atlanta, Chicago and Nashville, and wrap up Aug. 14 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, the site of the Beatles' last official concert in 1966."

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Syfy Lands Cable Rights to a Swords and Sandals Series

Syfy continues to expand its lineup of diverse programming, securing basic cable rights to all 39 epiosodes of the Stars swords and sandals series "Spartacus," the company announced today.

The show is set to make its basic cable premiere Thursday, June 26, joining "Defiance" and "Dominion" on that night's Syfy lineup.

The cable channel has also acquired "Lost Girl," "Bitten," "Continuum" and the upcoming "The Almighty Johnsons" ( set to debut in July), "Z-Nation" (Fall) and "Olympus" (2015).

Said Chris Regina, Syfy senior VP of programming: “Our strategy of acquiring hit shows to complement our premium original scripted series has really resonated with our audience. With its action-soaked storylines and powerful characters, Spartacus will be a dynamic addition to our schedule.”

In its announcement, Syfy says of "Spartacus" that it was "inspired by the actual slave of the Roman Republic who, in 73 BC, led a slave revolt that grew to more than 120,000 fighters. Defying the Roman Republic’s legions of soldiers, they campaigned for two years through much of what is now Italy before succumbing to a much larger army. The new series told a new set of stories rich in character, action, sex and combat centered on the title character. As punishment for defying a Roman Legate, Spartacus was sentenced to die in the gladiator arena. But after surviving numerous fights, his sentence was commuted and [he was] sold as a slave to be trained as a gladiator."

The lead character was originally played by Andy Whitfield, with Liam McIntyre moving into the role after Whitfield's departure in 2010.

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Fox News Anchor Arrested After Bar Incident

Updated at 8:45 a.m., PT, on May 22, 2014, to add comment from Fox News.

An anchor for Fox News Channel was reportedly arrested Wednesday after an incident in a bar. The Star Tribune reports that FNC's Gregg Jarrett was jailed following the incident that took place around noon at a bar in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.

Jarrett, 59, was arrested at Northern Lights Grill in the airport’s main terminal, the story notes.

“Police had been called about an intoxicated man at the grill. Officers reported Jarrett refused to follow orders and was arrested for obstruction of the legal process and taken to jail," the story reports.

TMZ.com reports that police described Jarrett as "belligerent" and "non-cooperative." The website notes that he was arrested on a misdemeanor and was released at about 1 a.m. today, Thursday, after posting $300 bail.

TheWrap.com notes that Jarrett recently asked for time off from work. "On May 14, it was reported that Jarrett had requested time off from Fox News Channel for personal reasons," the website reports. "He had been co-anchoring the weekend show 'America's News HQ,' as well as filling in during the week on various programs."

A Fox News spokesperson emailed TVWeek this statement: "We were made aware late last night that Gregg Jarrett was arrested in Minneapolis yesterday and charged with a misdemeanor. He is dealing with serious personal issues at this time. A date at which Gregg might return to air has yet to be determined."

Jarrett is due in court June 6, according to the Star Tribune.

gregg jarrett.pngGregg Jarrett

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Screenwriter, Sports Columnist and Former Editor of TVWeek's NewsPro Dies

Updated at 11:24 a.m. PT on May 23, 2014 to give correct date of memorial service in last sentence of article.

 

By TVWeek Staff

It is with much sadness that we report this morning that someone who has been a valued member of our TVWeek family for almost seven years has passed away.

Jarre Beth Fees died May 11 from a brain tumor. She was 63.

From 1988 to 1993, Jarre was a screenwriter working with Paramount and a number of Hollywood studios. Her one on-screen credit was for co-writing the screenplay for "Permanent Record," a 1988 movie starring Keanu Reeves.

Jarre wrote on her LinkedIn page, "'Permanent Record' (shared credit; Paramount, 1988) won a family film award. Which is good, because it made hardly any money. Several other screenplays almost got made and didn't: The financing fell through; a production chief got fired; a star hated the director's rewrite. These things happen. I made a living; the lunches were great. And then, by mutual agreement with the film industry, seemed like it was time to move on."

The next major stop for Jarre was the Los Angeles Daily News, where she worked for four years, starting in 1997. At the Daily News she was a columnist covering the NHL, a local sportswriter and a copy editor for sports and features.

Of that experience Jarre wrote on LinkedIn, "First feature story, spotlighting a local athlete competing on the U.S. Women's Hockey Team, was a finalist for the annual Miller Lite Women In Sports award."

Jarre joined us here at TVWeek as a copy editor in 2007. Later she became a contributing writer to our TVWeek NewsPro, and became the editor of a number of those issues. The last NewsPro she was in charge of was last year's Health Journalism issue. She left NewsPro in July 2013.

"Jarre was smart and a terrific person to discuss new ideas with," said TVWeek Managing Director Chuck Ross. "She was well-liked by everyone, especially the freelance writers she worked with on NewsPro. It's unbelievable that she's passed so young. So sad. We'll all miss her."

A memorial service will be held for Jarre at Valley Vineyard Christian Fellowship, 6642 Reseda Blvd., in Reseda, Calif., on Saturday, May 31, at 11 a.m.

jarre fees 2.jpgJarre Fees

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New ABC Series: Is It Too Similar to a 2003 Novel?

A new ABC drama series faces possible legal hassles even before it hits the air. Deadline.com reports that the producer behind “Forever,” about an immortal living in New York City, received a “pointed letter” from RadicalMedia over the similar-sounding premise to a 2003 novel.

That novel is also called “Forever,” with writer Pete Hamill also focusing on an immortal living in New York City. The letter from RadicalMedia, which was sent to producer Warner Bros. TV, says the TV show “sounds rather similar.”

RadicalMedia and Sundance Productions are working on a TV project based on the rights to the novel “Forever,” the story notes. The letter asks that WBTV “cease using the title of Mr. Hamill’s novel as the title of this new series to avoid any confusion as to the true origins of your series, which should be in line with your assertion that Mr. Hamill’s book was not used to create this series.”

A representative for WBTV said the claim is “baseless.” The piece notes that titles aren’t protected by copyright.

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Emmy Winner for CBS's 'The Good Wife' Says She Was Offered the Role After Two Other Actresses Passed

Actress Julianna Margulies said she was the third choice for the starring role in the CBS drama series “The Good Wife,” and almost passed after learning she was offered the role after two other actresses turned it down, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The other actresses were Helen Hunt and Ashley Judd.

“I wanted to hate it, because you know, 'F--- you! You didn't want me to begin with,'" she said at THR's actress roundtable. "The [‘Good Wife’] writers always say: 'No, we always wanted you. It's just the studio wanted Helen Hunt!' But my agent said a great thing: 'No one will know when they watch this show that Helen Hunt was offered it before you.' "

Margulies won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for the role, and has been nominated for Golden Globes for "The Good Wife" every year since 2010, when she took home the trophy. She has received a total of three Emmy nominations for the role, among her nine Emmy nominations overall. She broke out in the 1990s on "ER," a role that earned Margulies six consecutive Emmy nominations and one trophy.

julianna margulies.pngJulianna Margulies

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Report: Disney CEO Bob Iger in the Running to Be Baseball Commissioner

Walt Disney Co. Chairman and CEO Robert Iger is “firmly in Major League Baseball’s potential lineup” of contenders to fill the commissioner role, reports the New York Post’s Page Six.

Iger is said to be a favorite of the league’s succession committee, which is searching for a successor to Bud Selig before his contract expires in January. However, Iger’s contract with Disney extends into mid-2016, when he has said he will leave the media company, the story notes.

The piece adds: “Sports Illustrated suggested this month that high-profile possibilities like Joe Torre, Bob Costas, George F. Will and Dick Ebersol are unrealistic because of their age or lack of interest in the gig. Other potential candidates include MLB execs such as COO Rob Manfred as well as Dodgers owner Stan Kasten and Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr.”

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Charlie Sheen Has Been in a Number of Movies About Baseball and Loves the Sport. So This Sunday He Gets His Dream Job, for One Night Only

While Charlie Sheen might be best known "for his hard partying and personal relationships with adult film stars, Sheen is an avid baseball fan and portrayed a player in ‘Major League’ (plus the sequel) and ‘Eight Men Out,’” The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

So this weekend Sheen gets his dream job, at least for a night. ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight” will feature Sheen as a guest analyst during the show’s live broadcast of the Cincinnati Reds-St. Louis Cardinals game Sunday night, according to the article.

Sheen, 48, was also a star pitcher and shortstop for the Santa Monica High School team. Even though he grew up in California, he’s a Reds fan, due to his father’s roots in Dayton, Ohio.

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Charlie Sheen in "Eight Men Out"

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Are Viewers Sick of TV's Singing Competitions?

Even though Tuesday was supposed to be a big evening for singing competition shows on TV, it didn’t turn out well in the ratings, with both NBC’s “The Voice” and Fox’s “American Idol” reporting “disappointing” ratings, Joe Adalian writes in New York Magazine.

“To be more accurate: ‘The Voice’ numbers were disappointing, while ‘Idol’s' were pretty much disastrous, at least based on historical comparisons,” Adalian writes.

The one-hour performance finale for “Idol” was the least-watched episode in the program’s history, with just 6.6 million viewers, the story notes. “Not the least-watched finale, but the least-watched episode, period, going all the way back to when the show was an infant in 2002, and (some) real human beings voted for Justin Guarini instead of Kelly Clarkson,” Adalian notes.

He adds: “‘The Voice’ has already started to fade, not too long after it first exploded. Millions of viewers gave up on ‘Idol’ this year, but there's growing evidence that viewers are growing tired of singing competitions in general.”

Fox has canceled “The X Factor” and is planning to cut down the hours devoted to “Idol,” but “the other networks don’t seem willing to acknowledge music fatigue,” Adalian notes.

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HBO Shows Land on Amazon's Streaming Service

Amazon on Wednesday began streaming an initial group of HBO shows through its Prime Instant Video service, reports B&C.

The arrival of the HBO shows comes about a month after Amazon and the pay-TV network announced a licensing deal.

The agreement means Amazon Prime members can watch seasons of older HBO shows, such as “Rome,” “The Sopranos,” “The Wire,” “Deadwood” and “Six Feet Under.” The deal also includes newer shows such as “Enlightened” and some “select seasons” of current shows such as “True Blood” and “Boardwalk Empire.”

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'Community' Star Signs On With HBO's 'Girls'

One of the stars of NBC's recently canceled “Community” has been cast in HBO’s “Girls.” TVLine.com reports that the HBO comedy series is adding Gillian Jacobs in a recurring role during season four.

Jacobs, who played Britta Perry on “Community,” will portray a character named Mimi-Rose Howard starting in the season's fifth episode, which is also called “Mimi-Rose.”

The fourth season of the show will premiere in early 2015.

gillian jacobs.jpgGillian Jacobs

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E! Signs Giuliana Rancic Through 2016

Giuliana Rancic has extended her pact with E! through April 2016, in a new deal that will see her continue as anchor and managing editor of E! News, reports TheWrap.com.

She will also continue hosting E!’s interview series “Beyond Candid with Giuliana” and “Live from the Red Carpet,” along with co-hosting “Fashion Police” with Joan Rivers and Kelly Osbourne. Her reality series “Giuliana & Bill,” which features her husband Bill Rancic, was also picked up.

"Giuliana has been an important part of the E! family for 12 years now and we are thrilled to extend her overall deal with the network,” said E!'s Cyndi McClellan, president of network strategy and E! News. “Giuliana brings not only a wealth of experience to the air, but also a fun, relatable and candid energy that makes her a fan favorite amongst E! viewers and incredibly popular across the entertainment community.”

giuliana rancic.pngGiuliana Rancic
 

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USA Network's 'Suits' Taps Neal McDonough

The fourth season of the USA Network series "Suits" will feature actor Neal McDonough in a recurring role, reports Deadline.com.

McDonough will portray Sean Cahill, a tough SEC investigator. His character is asked by Eric Woodall, played by guest star Zeljko Ivanek, to investigate goings-on at Pearson Specter, the piece adds.

McDonough has appeared in TV programs such as “Band of Brothers,” “Justified” and “Desperate Housewives.”

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Emmy-Winning Actor Joins CBS's Upcoming 'Madam Secretary'

The CBS drama series “Madam Secretary,” scheduled to debut this fall, has added an Emmy-winning actor to the lineup. Deadline.com reports that character actor Zeljko Ivanek will take on a regular role on the series, following a guest spot in the show’s pilot.

The drama stars Tea Leoni as a newly appointed Secretary of State, while Ivanek will portray the president’s chief of staff, Russell Jackson, who is described as “intimidating and opinionated.” The project is written by Barbara Hall and executive produced by Morgan Freeman.

Ivanek won an Emmy for his role as Ray Fiske on the FX legal thriller “Damages.”

zeljko ivanek.pngZeljko Ivanek

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'SNL' Alum to Create and Star in HBO Series

A popular alum of "Saturday Night Live" will create and star in a series for HBO. According to a scoop by our good friend Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com, "Bill Hader has signed an exclusive development deal with HBO to create and star in a new comedy series for the premium cable network."

Andreeva adds, "Hader is best known for his eight-season stint on 'SNL' where he was one of the most popular cast members of the past decade. ... Hader also wrote for the venerable NBC sketch comedy show as well as for Comedy Central’s 'South Park.'"

The article didn't have details about Hader's upcoming HBO series.

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Bill Hader in one of his many roles on "Saturday Night Live"

 

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Where Are Hollywood's Union Jobs Going? Three States May Be the Biggest Beneficiaries of Runaway Production

Calling three states "the Runaway 3," a report today on Deadline.com cites rapid expansion in production-related trade union membership in identifying where much of the runaway production is heading after it leaves Hollywood.

"The once-tiny IATSE [International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees] film and TV production locals in Georgia, Louisiana and New Mexico have seen their memberships skyrocket in recent years as more and more productions leave L.A. in search of bigger and better tax incentives," the story reports. "They’re where most of the domestic runaway production jobs are running away to."

The piece reports that the Georgia film and TV workers union has experienced a membership increase of 1,100% in the past 11 years, with the IATSE production local in Louisiana climbing 900% since 2003 and membership in New Mexico's film local up by 800% since 2001.

"IATSE Studio Mechanics Local 479 in Atlanta may be the fastest-growing union in the U.S.," the story reports. "In 2003, it had only 191 members; six years later, after the state’s 2008 tax incentives took effect, the local’s membership doubled in consecutive years, doubled again two years later, then nearly doubled again two years after that. It’s now the largest IATSE local outside of Los Angeles and New York, and if it continues to grow at this rate, in a few years it will be the largest in North America."

TV programs that have filmed in Georgia in recent years include AMC’s "The Walking Dead," the CW’s "The Vampire Diaries" and Lifetime’s "Drop Dead Diva," the story notes. Meanwhile, the state has hosted feature film productions including "Anchorman 2," "The Blind Side," "Identity Thief," "Trouble With the Curve" and "Need for Speed."

It's not just tax breaks that are drawing production away from L.A., the report adds. "Besides the tax incentives, producers who shoot in Georgia also get discounts on wages," the piece notes. "Union films shot in L.A. and New York are covered by IATSE’s basic contract; films shot elsewhere are covered by IATSE’s cheaper Area Standards Agreement, which gives producers yet another incentive to flee California. If not for the union, most of those jobs -- if not all of them -- would be low-paying non-union jobs, because Georgia is a right-to-work state, where unions are not allowed to require membership as a condition of employment."

For local unions in the states where runaway productions are landing, the trend is paying big financial dividends. "A dozen years ago, IATSE Studio Mechanics Local 479 in the Big Easy was an obscure IATSE local with only 138 members. But after the Louisiana Legislature passed the Motion Picture Tax Incentive Act of 2002, the local’s membership began a rapid expansion that continues today," the Deadline piece reports. "Thanks in large part to dues it collects from workers employed on runaway productions, the New Orleans union is now the richest IATSE local outside of Los Angeles and New York. In 2001, it only had $60,197 in total assets; today the figure is $6.5 million -- a staggering 100-fold increase. And revenue is up 40-fold during the same period, from $57,701 to more than $2.4 million."

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Competition Finales Lose Ground; New Fox Series Opens to Low Numbers

The season finales for two broadcast competition franchises showed year-to-year erosion Tuesday night, while a new Fox series had a soft turnout for its premiere, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the finale of NBC's "The Voice" was down sharply from a year ago, delivering a 3.3 average in viewers 18-49, off from a 4.4 for the spring finale last year. The two-hour program did climb significantly from last week, when it hit a series low with a 2.6.

ABC's two-hour "Dancing with the Stars" also saw a smaller turnout for its finale, falling three-tenths of a point from a year ago and registering a 2.4 average in 18-49.

Both NBC and ABC led in to their reality finales with related programming. NBC's "The Voice" recap delivered a 1.9 average, while ABC's "Dancing" recap registered a 1.6.

Meanwhile, Fox's premiere of "I Wanna Marry Harry" managed only a 0.7 average at 9 p.m. in the 18-49 demo, leading out from "American Idol," which pulled a 1.7.

CBS had an off night and wound up in fifth place behind Univision. The network's hour special "Judge Judy Primetime" at 8 p.m. and the two-hour "ACM Presents: An All-Star Salute to the Troops" at 9 p.m. both delivered 0.9 averages in adults 18-49.

For prime time overall, NBC wound up on top with a 2.8 average in the 18-49 demo, followed by ABC (2.1 average), Fox (1.2), Univision (1.0) and CBS (0.9). ABC was No. 1 in total viewers with 13.7 million, ahead of NBC (10.2 million), CBS (4.9 million), Fox (4.3 million) and Univision (2.4 million).

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'Burning Love' Producers Sign Deal With Fox for Digital Projects

Jonathan Stern and Keith Quinn of the faux-reality show “Burning Love” have signed a first-look deal with Fox, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Fox will distribute their projects on digital platforms such as Hulu, but will also develop them for series on networks including Fox, FX and FXX, the story says.

Stern is the executive producer of “Burning Love,” which spoofs dating shows such as “The Bachelor” and stars Ken Marino. He also executive produces Adult Swim’s “NTSF: SD: SUV::,” the story notes. Quinn most recently was the senior vice president of creative development and production at Paramount Digital Entertainment.

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'Wheel of Fortune' Host Pat Sajak Stirs Up Hornets' Nest With 'Unpatriotic Racists' Tweet

Pat Sajak, the longtime host of “Wheel of Fortune,” was the target of a backlash on social media after he described people who are concerned about climate change as “unpatriotic racists,” reports TheWrap.com.

“I now believe global warming alarmists are unpatriotic racists knowingly misleading for their own ends. Good night,” Sajak tweeted Monday night.

While some people supported him, others “scoffed” at his tweet, and climate scientist Michael E. Mann wrote that the risks of getting it wrong on climate change were much larger than the consequences of losing on “Wheel of Fortune.”

“Hey @PatSajak, this aint the Wheel of Fortune,” Mann wrote. “If we lose this game, it isn't just one person's misfortune. All humanity pays the price.”

It remained unclear whether Sajak was serious or merely joking, however, TheWrap reports, noting that the game show host has sparked controversy over his conservative views in the past. Sajak tweeted in April that he was coming out as heterosexual, which some people criticized as making light of those who come out as gay.

"Whether Sajak was making a joke or truly held the beliefs he espoused on Twitter was up for debate in media circles Tuesday," TheWrap adds. "Mediaite noted a follow-up tweet in which Sajak cryptically suggested he enjoyed stirring the pot just for the fun of it."

Sajak's follow-up tweet reads: "Sometimes it's fun to poke a stick in a hornets' nest just to hear the buzzing."

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TV Talk Show Host Starts Campaign to Buy the L.A. Clippers

A late-night talk show host has started a crowd-funding campaign through Indiegogo to raise money buy the Los Angeles Clippers. The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that Arsenio Hall launched the campaign to purchase the NBA team from Donald Sterling.

“I’m Arsenio Hall and I need your help to buy the LA Clippers! And if I can’t -- at least your money will go to charity! Come on, it's only a billion dollars!” his campaign reads. As of early Wednesday morning, the campaign had raised about $1,800.

The Times notes, “Even the biggest crowd-funded projects to date have managed to raise in the neighborhood of $10 million. So don't hold your breath for an Arsenio Hall-owned basketball team.”

If he fails to meet his goal, Hall said, the money will be donated to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The head of the group’s L.A. chapter stepped down earlier this month after the organization had planned to give an achievement award to Sterling, who has been banned for life from the NBA for making racial comments, the piece notes.

“I’m not naive. I know one billion dollars is a lot of money. For me. For Jay-Z it’s just a good week at the office,” Hall wrote on the fund-raising site. “Help me put YOUR money where MY mouth is. Let’s get busy … buying the Clippers! Or at least let’s get busy giving The National NAACP a boatload of money!”

As previously reported, Oprah Winfrey is also exploring a bid for the team, potentially working with David Geffen and Larry Ellison on an offer.

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In a Surprise, the Home of WJM and Mary Richards Beats Out New Orleans to Land the Super Bowl in 2018

"NFL owners ... surprisingly spurned New Orleans ... for the 2018 Super Bowl at their meeting in Atlanta on Tuesday [May 20, 2014]," reports the New York Post.

Minneapolis -- home to the fictional Mary Richards and WJM of the old "Mary Tyler Moore Show" -- was, the Post says, "a surprise pick to play host to the 2018 Super Bowl over heavy favorite New Orleans. Indianapolis also was a finalist."

Next year's Super Bowl will be played at the University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale, Ariz. In 2016 the 50th Super Bowl will be played at Levi's Stadium in San Francisco. In 2017 Houston will host the big game at Reliant stadium.

The Post story adds: "Minneapolis, which also played host to a Super Bowl in 1992, was tabbed in part as a reward for the city and state of Minnesota contributing a huge chunk of the construction costs of a new $1 billion, 73,000-seat fixed-roof stadium. The building is scheduled to open for the Vikings in 2016."

new viking stadium.jpgIllustration of what the new Vikings stadium will look like.

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'Duck Dynasty' Cast Members Set Guinness World Record

Cast members of the A&E reality show “Duck Dynasty” now own a world record. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Robertson family members Willie, Korie, Jase, Missy and Uncle Si, among others, helped set a Guinness World Record for duck-calling.

The cast members and a crowd gathered in Florida for a Salvation Army fundraiser set the record for the most people duck-calling simultaneously, with 3,028 people all duck-calling at once, the story says. “Duck Dynasty's” Uncle Si led the crowd with Duck Commander duck calls, the piece adds.

Here's a clip:

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Fox Business Set to Roll Out New Show

Fox Business News will debut a new show next month hosted by a man who has been a contributor to the network since 2007. TVNewser.com reports that the cable channel has set a June 2 premiere for "Making Money with Charles Payne."

Payne, who appears on both Fox News and Fox Business, “has an incredible talent for identifying growth sectors in the markets and we’re excited to launch a new show dedicated to helping viewers spot these emerging investment prospects,” Fox Business News Executive Vice President Kevin Magee said in a statement.

The show will debut in the 6 p.m. timeslot, where “Cavuto” currently airs. “Cavuto” also airs at 8 p.m. and will continue in that slot after Payne’s new show debuts.

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Bad News for ISPs and Cable TV Providers

"We all want our ISPs and cable TV providers but that doesn't mean we like them. Both industries have sunk even lower in the ranks of customer satisfaction, according to a report released Tuesday by the American Customer Satisfaction Index," CNET reports.

The report notes that the rating for Internet service providers went down by 3.1% from a year ago, to a 63 on a 100-point scale, while the rating for subscription TV services fell 4.4% to a 65.

"Both industries are at the bottom of the barrel for customer satisfaction among the 43 tracked in total by ACSI," the report notes, adding: "Out of all ISPs, Verizon's Fios was tops in satisfaction with a score of 71, while Comcast and Time Warner Cable (which could join forces if a merger deal is approved) took home ratings of 57 and 54, respectively."

Complaints by consumers against ISPs included high prices, slow speeds and unreliable service, the report adds.

The piece notes: "All of the subscription TV providers ranked by ACSI saw their satisfaction rankings go down from last year. DirecTV and AT&T (which announced on Sunday a $48.5 billion merger) tied for first place with scores of 69. Comcast and Time Warner Cable again were in last place with scores of 60 and 56, respectively."

In a statement, ACSI Chairman and founder Claes Fornell said: "The Internet has been a disruptor for many industries, and subscription TV and ISPs are no exception. Over-the-top video services, like Netflix and Hulu, threaten subscription TV providers and also put pressure on ISP network infrastructure. Customers question the value proposition of both, as consumers pay for more than they need in terms of subscription TV and get less than they want in terms of Internet speeds and reliability."

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Disney Channel Renews Tween Hit Comedy Series

The Disney Channel has committed to another season of a comedy series that has been a hit with tween viewers. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the cable channel ordered a fourth season of "Jessie."

The program, which stars Debby Ryan as a nanny to a wealthy family, is currently in its third season, with Ryan slated to direct an episode. The fourth season will begin production in August, with a premiere planned in January 2015.

The show is one of the most-watched programs for tweens, drawing about 1.2 million viewers in that demographic. It featured first lady Michelle Obama in an April episode.

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Quite a Pedigree: Report Says Coen Bros. to Work on Script of KGB Movie to Star Tom Hanks and to Be Directed by Spielberg

"The untitled Steven Spielberg-Tom Hanks Cold War thriller at DreamWorks just took an intriguing turn," reports The Hollywood Reporter, adding, "Joel and Ethan Coen have come onboard to pen a draft of the screenplay."

"The project, which was written by Matt Charman, was set up last year, but Hanks' attachment gave it a major boost in April. The Coen brothers' involvement only adds momentum to the thriller, which could be Spielberg's next project, with an eye toward a September shoot in Europe," writes Tatiana Siegel in the scoop for THR.

Few films have a pedigree as impressive: Ethan and Joel Coen, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg all on the same project.

The article also notes: "If Spielberg does make this movie, it would mark the fourth feature-film partnership between the director and the actor. The two previously collaborated on 'Saving Private Ryan,' 'The Terminal' and 'Catch Me If You Can.' They also teamed to produce the HBO miniseries 'Band of Brothers.'"

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Kristen Bell Returns for Third Year in a Row as Host of Awards Program

Actress Kristen Bell will return as host of an awards show for the third year in a row. TheWrap.com reports that Bell will again host the “CMT Music Awards,” although she won’t have a co-host for this year’s ceremony.

For the previous two shows, she had a co-host, being joined by Toby Keith in 2012 and Jason Aldean in 2013. For the 2014 show, which takes place on June 4, the “Frozen” star will host solo, the story reports.

“After two years of duets with amazing partners, I'm really excited for my first solo effort,” Bell said in a statement. “I love that the country community has welcomed me so warmly and I can't wait to head back to Nashville for what's sure to be another amazing show this year.”

The awards ceremony, which will air on CMT, will include performances from Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton and Carrie Underwood, among others.

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'Nurse Jackie' Co-Creator Hired as Showrunner on New NBC Comedy

The co-creator of Showtime's “Nurse Jackie” has been tapped as executive producer and showrunner on NBC’s new comedy “Bad Judge.” Deadline.com reports that Liz Brixius got the job.

The role is part of her overall deal with Universal Television, the studio behind the project.

The series stars Kate Walsh as one of Los Angeles’ toughest judges, but who also has a wild side. Brixius most recently created the NBC comedy pilot “Girlfriend in a Coma.”

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'Mountain' on HBO's 'Game of Thrones' Is the World's Second-Strongest Man

Hafthor Julius Bjornsson, who plays Gregor “The Mountain That Rides” Clegane on “Game of Thrones,” is a real-life strongman, coming in second in this year’s World’s Strongest Man competition, reports the New York Post.

Bjornsson can bench press 500 pounds, squat 770 pounds and deadlift 925 pounds, the story reports. He weighs 419 pounds and is 6 feet 9 inches tall. Bjornsson had never acted before he was cast in HBO’s fantasy drama, instead focusing on his career as a professional strongman, the piece adds.

He will be featured in the show’s next episode, when he duels Oberyn Martell. Showrunner Dan Weiss told EW.com’s Inside TV that the fight sequence is “one of the best -- if not the best -- combat scenes we’ve done so far.”

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Netflix Project Casts Chloe Sevigny

Netflix’s untitled psychological thriller has cast Chloe Sevigny and Steven Pasquale for recurring roles, reports Deadline.com. The project is written and executive produced by “Damages” creators  Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman and Glenn Kessler and comes from Sony Pictures TV.

The series focuses on four adult siblings “whose secrets and scars are revealed when their black sheep brother ([Ben] Mendelsohn) returns home,” the story notes. The other siblings are played by Kyle Chandler, Linda Cardellini and Norbert Leo Butz.

Sevigny’s character shares a romantic past with Mendelsohn’s character, while Pasquale will portray a potential romantic interest for Cardellini’s character, the story adds.

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MSNBC Replaces Departing Anchor

MSNBC is shuffling its on-air lineup. Variety reports that the cable news channel has found a replacement for "Jansing & Co." host Chris Jansing, who's set to become senior White House correspondent for NBC News, as we reported earlier this month.

"Telemundo anchor Jose Díaz-Balart will anchor MSNBC’s 10 a.m. hour live from Miami, Florida, starting in mid-June, replacing the departing Chris Jansing and her 'Jansing & Co.,'" Variety reports. "Díaz-Balart currently co-anchors Telemundo’s 'Noticiero Telemundo' and hosts 'Enfoque con José Díaz-Balart,' and will continue to do so, the NBCUniversal-owned cable network said."

In a statement, MSNBC President Phil Griffin said: “MSNBC is committed to engaging new audiences and communities. To that end, I’ve been talking with José for several months about bringing his voice to MSNBC. He has a keen understanding of the political landscape and three decades of experience in both broadcast and cable news.”

Variety adds: "Díaz-Balart began his career in 1983 and has reported historic events and interviewed major political figures for prestigious news outlets including NBC News and Telemundo. His achievements include being the first journalist to serve as news anchor on two national television networks in Spanish and English on the same day for an entire season."

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Legendary Band Accused of Stealing Parts of What May Be the Most Popular Rock Song of All Time

A legendary rock band is being accused of stealing parts of one of the most popular songs of the rock era. BloombergBusinessweek reports that a lawyer is preparing a lawsuit against Led Zeppelin, accusing the band of stealing parts of "Stairway to Heaven" from an instrumental called "Taurus" by the 1960s-1970s California band Spirit.

The attorney is representing the trust of the late Randy California, Spirit's frontman.

Bloomberg reports that "Stairway to Heaven" had earned at least $562 million by 2008.

The Spirit instrumental appears on the band's 1968 debut album.

Bloomberg reports: "For Led Zeppelin, 1968 was a big year. The band recorded its first album and flew to the U.S. to promote it with a series of shows. The day after Christmas, it played its first concert in America at the Denver Auditorium Arena. Led Zeppelin opened for Spirit."

The report adds: "Mark Andes, Spirit’s founding bassist, says he believes the members of Led Zeppelin heard 'Taurus' that day, beginning a process that would lead to its appropriation for 'Stairway.' 'Taurus' was a fixture of Spirit’s set at the time."

Said Andes: “It was such a pretty moment, and it would typically come after a big forceful number and always got a good response. They would have seen it in that context.”

The controversy involves the introductory notes of "Stairway to Heaven," which reportedly bear a strong resemblance to a guitar section around the middle of "Taurus."

Decide for yourself -- here's an audio recording of "Taurus":

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Which Network Is on the Verge of Winning May Sweeps? Hint: It Will Be the Network's First Time in 14 Years ... and It's Probably Not the One You're Thinking Of

With three nights left to count in the May sweeps period, the broadcast network that is poised to win the sweeps may not be the one many readers would expect.

Deadline.com reports: "ABC will win its first May sweep in 14 years after finishing first in the [18-49] demo on each of the final five weeks of the TV season. Stats for the final full week of the season (and the sweep) just in show ABC 20% ahead of CBS in the demo."

The report adds: "ABC’s top-dog status for the fifth consecutive week continues the network’s longest winning streak in more than seven years -- dating back to a six-week stretch at the start of the ’06-07 TV season, when 'Lost' was a phenom, 'Grey’s Anatomy' was starting its first full season, 'Desperate Housewives' was entering its second full season and tearing up the ratings, and a more robust 'Dancing' was kicking up on two nights a week."

"Grey's Anatomy" remains a part of the Alphabet Network's ratings success, the report notes, with ABC landing five series among the season's top 10 entertainment series on broadcast in viewers 18-49.

"That ABC list includes 'Modern Family,' which will finish the season at No. 3 (behind CBS’s 'Big Bang Theory' and NBC’s Monday 'The Voice'); 'Grey’s Anatomy' at No. 4 (and the No. 1 ranked drama); 'Scandal,' which is tied with NBC’s Tuesday 'The Voice' at No. 7; 'Resurrection' at No. 9; and 'Once Upon a Time' at No. 10 in a four-way tie that also includes CBS’s 'NCIS' and 'Criminal Minds,' and Fox’s Wednesday 'American Idol,'" the story reports, adding: "Of those series, 'Scandal' did not contribute to ABC’s May sweep win, having been off the air since mid-April."

The network got help last week from a Barbara Walters prime-time special and the Billboard Music Awards, the report notes.

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Showtime Moves Forward With Legal Comedy

Pay-cable channel Showtime, which is pumping up its comedy slate, is developing a new legal comedy, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

"The premium cable network is developing 'Control Alt Delete,' a legal comedy from 'Spy' creator Simeon Goulden, The Hollywood Reporter has learned," the story reports. "The comedy centers on four smart-ass workaholic associates in a 'white shoe' law firm who are feverishly trying to move up the corporate ladder while avoiding becoming the next victim of the office serial killer."

The show is created by Goulden, who will write the script and will executive produce, as will Chernin Entertainment's Peter Chernin and Katherine Pope and Small Dog Pictures' Renate Radford, the report notes. Fox 21 is producing, and Jason Winer will direct and executive produce.

"Goulden created the U.K. comedy series 'Spy' and penned two episodes of Showtime's 'Secret Diary of a Call Girl.' He also adapted 'Spy' as a comedy pilot for ABC last year," the report notes.

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Monday Ratings: Competition Finales, a Reality Premiere and a New NBC Show Starring an 'SNL' Veteran

Monday was a night for transitions on the broadcast networks, with a pair of big franchise competition shows airing portions of their season finales while another franchise reality show premiered its latest cycle and a new show debuted on NBC featuring "Saturday Night Live" alumna Maya Rudolph.

When all was said and done, NBC rolled to a comfortable win in the key demo of adults 18-49, while ABC inched ahead in total viewers, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC's two-hour performance finale of "The Voice" was the highest-rated show of the night in the 18-49 demo with a 3.1 average, ticking up one-tenth from the show's number a week ago, but well off the pace of the spring performance finale a year ago, which registered a 3.7.

NBC's new variety hour "The Maya Rudolph Show" -- officially a special -- delivered a respectable 2.2 average in the 10 p.m. slot for its premiere.

Going head-to-head with "The Voice," ABC's 90-minute "Dancing with the Stars" competition rose two-tenths of a ratings point from last week to a 2.5 average, matching the finale from last spring. "Dancing" was by far the top show of the night in total viewers, delivering 15.05 million to second-place "The Voice's" 11.48 million.

Leading out from "Dancing," ABC's "The Bachelorette" premiered with a 1.9 average in 18-49 for the 90-minute program -- equaling the show's premiere low.

Fox's "24: Live Another Day" lost ground, falling three-tenths from last week to a 1.7 average in the 18-49 demo, while "Bones" ticked down one-tenth to a 1.6.

CBS aired a mix of repeats and originals, finishing fourth among the big four broadcast nets. Among its fresh programs, "Friends With Better Lives" equaled its 1.6 in viewers 18-49 from a week ago, and "Mike & Molly" slipped one-tenth to a 1.9.

For prime time overall, NBC led the way in the 18-49 demo with a 2.8 average rating, ahead of ABC (2.2 average), Fox (1.6), CBS (1.5) and Univision (1.1). ABC led total viewers with 11.0 million, followed by NBC (10.1 million), Fox (5.83 million), CBS (5.76 million) and Univision (2.6 million).

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'The Shield' Actor Arrested in Wife's Shooting Death

A TV and feature film actor best known for his role on FX’s “The Shield” was arrested early today in connection with the shooting death of his wife, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Michael Jace "confessed to shooting his wife to death Monday night at their home in Hyde Park, law enforcement sources told The Times," the piece reports.

Jace was detained Monday night after his wife was found dead with gunshot wounds, reports CBS Los Angeles. The actor is also known for TNT’s “Southland” and for the 2009 Russell Crowe feature "State of Play."

His wife was found dead at about 8:30 p.m., after police were called to a home in the Hyde Park area of Los Angeles, The Hollywood Reporter notes.

"Los Angeles police said in a statement that the motive for the shooting 'is believed to be domestic violence.' Neighbors reported hearing the couple arguing just before the shots rang out, KNBC-TV reported," the Times story notes.

Jace reportedly called the police himself, after allegedly shooting his wife, 40, TMZ.com reports.

His two children reportedly witnessed the crime, and have been taken to a family member’s home, the TMZ story adds.

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TV News Pioneer Vents Anger Over Perceived Snub by Barbara Walters; Was She 'Erased From ABC History'?

A veteran TV newscaster is venting her anger over what she sees as a snub surrounding Barbara Walters' departure from "The View."

TheWrap.com reports that Carole Simpson, who became the first African-American woman to anchor a major network newscast while she was at NBC before going on to a long career with ABC News, took to Facebook to vent her frustration.

Simpson, who retired from ABC News in 2006, wrote, “I wonder why I wasn't included among the two dozen network newswomen and anchors who feted Barbara Walters at a private party and then on ‘The View'?”

She continued, “We both worked at NBC and ABC at the same times. She is my idol and I believe she knows that. At first I was very sad and now I am very mad. I guess ABC News, after my 24 years there, still considers me persona non grata. The black woman anchor, who had to speak her mind for herself and others, is erased from ABC history.”

carole simpson.jpgCarole Simpson

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AMC's Plan for New Drama Series Marks a First for TV

AMC will break new ground for a TV series premiere when it unveils the pilot episode of the drama “Halt and Catch Fire” on Yahoo’s Tumblr, with Variety reporting that it will be the first-ever TV series premiere on the Internet service.

The pilot will be available through VOD and online services from pay-TV providers such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable, the story adds.

Variety reports: “‘Halt and Catch Fire’ from AMC Studios is a fictionalized history of the rise of the PC era in the early 1980s, set in Texas’ Silicon Prairie one year after IBM’s introduction of the personal computer.”

The drama is “a perfect show for summer and -- given the subject matter -- a good fit for Tumblr’s first TV series premiere and AMC’s first social-media screening,” AMC President Charlie Collier said.

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'Curb Your Enthusiasm' Actress to Marry Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

An actress known for her work on the HBO comedy series “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is set to marry Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The New York Post’s Page Six reports that Cheryl Hines will marry Kennedy this summer in Hyannis Port.

The pair have been together for two years, and are now planning a ceremony at the Kennedy compound during the family’s annual reunion, the piece notes.

The marriage will be the second for Hines, 48, and the third for Kennedy, 60. He previously was married to Emily Ruth Black, with whom he had two children, and Mary Richardson, who committed suicide in 2012 and with whom he had four children, the story says.

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Tom Brokaw Opens Up About His Cancer

Veteran TV newsman Tom Brokaw, who is undergoing treatment for bone marrow cancer, told TVNewser that he believes he will "be OK" and that he’s approaching the illness “both in human terms, and as a journalist.”

He has researched the cancer, multiple myeloma, while he also continues to report for “Today” and “NBC Nightly News,” the story notes.

Brokaw is also working on pieces for the 70th anniversary of D-Day. “There’s a larger light at the end of the tunnel,” Brokaw told the publication while at the Peabody Awards ceremony in New York City, where he received a Personal Peabody Award.

tom brokaw-nbc news.jpgTom Brokaw

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Cable Bills Continue to Rise

A report from the Federal Communications Commission finds that cable bills are continuing their price hikes, with the average monthly price for basic service rising 5.1% to $64.41 in 2012, reports Joe Flint in the Los Angeles Times.

By comparison, the consumer price index rose just 1.6% during the same period. The study found that programming costs are driving much of the price hikes, with the price per channel rising 2.1% to an average of 48 cents per channel.

“Interestingly, in markets where the cable company had no significant competition the average cost was $63.03 in 2012 while markets with video options had average bills of $66.14 a month,” Flint notes.

He adds: “At the same time, the average price per channel was lower in markets with competition. In the markets without what the FCC defines as ‘effective competition,’ the average price per channel is 51 cents. In markets with competition, the price tag per channel was 45 cents.”

Satellite broadcasters DirecTV and Dish had lower per-channel costs, likely because their size allowed them to gain a pricing advantage, the story adds.

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Lifetime Developing 'Omen' Project With Former 'Walking Dead' Showrunner

The classic 1976 horror movie “The Omen” is being developed as a project at Lifetime, with the network tapping former “Walking Dead” showrunner Glen Mazzara to write and executive produce, reports EW.com’s Inside TV.

The project is called “Damien” and is a follow-up on the horror story, which was about parents who adopt a baby, only to find out that he is the Antichrist. The original film had two sequels and a 2006 remake that starred Julia Stiles and Liev Schreiber.

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Director of HBO's 'Olive Kitteridge' Will Get New NBC Miniseries Rolling

Lisa Cholodenko, the director of the upcoming HBO miniseries “Olive Kitteridge,” has been hired to direct the first two episodes of NBC’s “The Slap,” reports Deadline.com.

The project is an eight-episode miniseries based on an Australian series, a family drama that spools out from an incident in which a man slaps another family’s naughty child, the story notes.

“This seemingly minor domestic dispute pulls the family apart, begins to expose long-held secrets, and ignites a lawsuit that challenges the core American values of all who are pulled into it,” the piece adds.

The adaptation is written by Jon Robin Baitz, and comes from Universal TV and Matchbox Pictures, the Australian company that produced the original show.

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Did Barbara Walters' Final Day on 'The View' Set a Ratings Record?

Barbara Walters' farewell to "The View," predictably, drew a much larger audience than the typical episode. Deadline.com reports that the Walters farewell episode ranks as one of the show's most-watched installments in its history, but it fell far short of a record.

The show drew an average of 5.2 million viewers for her farewell, well below the show’s record 6.6 million viewers, who tuned in on July 29, 2010, for President Obama’s first visit to the daytime show.

The second-most-watched episode was the day after the 2008 presidential election, when 6.2 million viewers tuned in on Nov. 5, 2008. The show’s coverage of the East Coast’s 2009 “snowpocalypse” drew 5.233 million, just inching ahead of Walters’ final episode, the piece notes.

Still, her goodbye episode ranks as the fourth-most-watched installment in the show’s history.

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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal Set for Appearance on 'Duck Dynasty'

The A&E reality show “Duck Dynasty” will feature Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal in its season premiere, signifying that despite controversy and falling ratings, the show “still represents a certain something important to a large number of Americans,” reports the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker.

Jindal will appear in the show’s sixth-season premiere on June 11. He supported the show and the Robertson family during controversy over anti-gay and racist comments that Phil Robertson, the family's patriarch, made in a GQ magazine article. At the time, Jindal said, "Phil Robertson and his family are great citizens of the state of Louisiana. The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with."

The story notes that it doesn’t appear the show will veer into political terrain in its upcoming season, with the storyline including a battle between Phil Robertson and beavers on his property.

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Sony Pictures TV Starts Project for Emerging Talent

Sony Pictures TV is starting a “Diverse Directors Program,” which will allow emerging talent to shadow established TV directors on scripted projects from the studio, reports Deadline.com.

Submissions will be accepted from May 23-June 6, or until the program receives 500 applications. Applicants are asked to submit one completed example of a directing project, letters of recommendation and an interview.

“Twenty semi-finalists will take part in an episodic directing workshop and attend networking events. The workshop will begin in June on Sony’s Culver City lot, and the curriculum will consist of six evenings of discussion and instruction from working directors and production personnel,” the story notes.

Three finalists will shadow TV directors and receive a weekly stipend.

“Diversity on all levels is a central focus to many of our programs, and we fully believe that the Diverse Directors Program will not only provide access and experience to a diverse group of potential directors but will also become a key component of Sony Pictures’ business strategy,” said Paul Martin, senior vice president and Chief Diversity Officer at Sony Pictures Entertainment.

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National Geographic to Debut Its First Live Talk Show

National Geographic Channel is set to roll out its first live talk show, TheWrap.com reports. The program is called “Reel Talk Live” and will premiere following the “Wicked Tuna” finale, the piece reports.

The show, set to debut June 8, will be in the tradition of “Talking Dead,” the after-show for AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” by providing a “postmortem” on the show’s catch, the story notes.

“Wicked Tuna” tracks fisherman from Gloucester, Mass., as they search for bluefin tuna.

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This Cinematographer Changed the Look of Movies When He Filmed 'The Godfather' and 'Manhattan.' Gordon Willis Dies at Age 82

"Influential cinematographer Gordon Willis, 82, whose photography for Francis Ford Coppola’s 'The Godfather' series and Woody Allen’s 'Annie Hall' and 'Manhattan' helped define the look of 1970s cinema, died of cancer Sunday [May 18, 2014] in Falmouth, Mass.," reports Variety.

The article adds: "Willis was known as the Prince of Darkness for his artful use of shadows, and served as cinematographer or director of photography on seminal 1970s films including  Alan J. Pakula’s 'Klute,' 'The Parallax View' and 'All the President’s Men' and James Bridges’ 'The Paper Chase.'

"For years, cinephiles were shocked that he wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar for his unique approach. Two nominations finally came, in 1983 for ''Zelig' and 1990 for 'The Godfather, Part III.'" Willis lost both times. Finally, he "received an honorary Academy Award in 2009 at the first Governor’s Awards ceremony for his 'unsurpassed mastery of light, shadow, color and motion.' He had stopped photographing movies in 1997.

According to Variety's sibling publication, Deadline.com, Willis' death " 'is a momentous loss,' confirmed American Society of Cinematographers President Richard Crudo late Sunday night. 'He was one of the giants who absolutely changed the way movies looked. Up until the time of "The Godfather" 1 and 2, nothing previously shot looked that way. He changed the way films looked and the way people looked at films.'”

Gordon Willis' opening sequence of Woody Allen's 1979 movie "Manhattan":

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The Respected Biographer of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson, Says Apple-Beats Deal is Really About Apple Finally Launching a TV Service. Read Why He Believes This

The author of the bestseller "Steve Jobs," Walter Isaacson, "believes the Apple-Beats deal is more about video," reports The Hollywood Reporter.

THR continues, "With Apple reportedly about to acquire [Jimmy] Iovine and Dr. Dre’s Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion, speculation about the pair taking senior roles at the company have run rampant."

The Reporter article is based upon an interview Isaacson did with a sibling publication of THR, Billboard.

According to THR, Isaacson "goes on to say, since Steve Jobs’ death three years ago, the company has 'grown risk averse [and] its growth has stalled,' [adding] 'Tim Cook [Apple's CEO] … is a smart number cruncher, but he’s no Jobs.' Isaacson compares Iovine with Jobs, and finds the two have a lot in common. '[Their] success came not from family pedigree or an Ivy League school but from talent and chutzpah.'

Iovine is well known as a record producer, former record label executive, and former mentor on "American Idol."

Adds the THR article, "Isaacson believes the Apple-Beats deal is more about video, speculating that Cook wants Iovine to run Apple’s content business and help them launch the TV product analysts have been touting for years. Isaacson suggests that Iovine has the 'charisma and connections' to round up the networks the way he did the music labels back in 2002 [for Apple's iTunes service]. 'His track record of success in marrying content and tech gives that theory some weight.'"

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ABC More Than Doubles Its Closest Competition in Sunday Prime Time

ABC had a dominating ratings win in Sunday prime time, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the network averaged more than double what its closest broadcast competitor delivered in the demo.

ABC's night was all about the Billboard Music Awards, which registered a 3.5 average in viewers 18-49 for its 8-11 p.m. broadcast. The closest any other program on broadcast could come was a 2.0 for Fox's "Family Guy." ABC's awards telecast equaled the number for last year's show.

ABC opened prime time with "America's Funniest Home Videos," which matched the 1.6 the show delivered last week in the 18-49 demo.

CBS was a distant second behind ABC for prime time overall, with its best 18-49 number being a 1.7 for the season finale of "The Amazing Race: All-Stars," the same number the show had a week ago. The finale of "The Mentalist" rose three-tenths to a 1.5, and the finale of "The Good Wife" equaled last week's number, a 1.2. CBS's "60 Minutes" rose two-tenths to a 1.3 average.

On Fox, "Family Guy's" 2.0 average represented a dip of one-tenth from a week ago in the 18-49 demo, while "The Simpsons" held steady with a 1.6. "Cosmos," "Bob's Burgers" and "American Dad" also matched their numbers from a week ago: a 1.2 for "Dad," a 1.1 for "Cosmos" and a 0.9 for "Bob's."

NBC found itself in fifth place for broadcast prime, trailing its big four counterparts and Univision. "Coldplay: Ghost Stories" managed only a 0.4 average in 18-49, while "American Dream Builders" hit a new series low, also a 0.4. A repeat of the two-hour special "The Women of SNL" pulled a 0.8 average.

For prime time overall, ABC's 3.0 average was the class of the field in the 18-49 demo, followed by CBS (1.4 average), Fox (1.3), Univision (0.9) and NBC (0.6). ABC took a narrow win in total viewers, averaging 9.5 million to CBS's 9.2 million, followed by Fox (3.0 million), Univision (2.4 million) and NBC (2.1 million).

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Just in Time for Summer, Disneyland Hikes Ticket Prices

The so-called "Happiest Place on Earth" may have to brace for some grumbling. The Los Angeles Times reports that Disneyland has raised the price of a single-day entry ticket to $96, up from $92, an increase of 4%.

The price hike, which came without notice, went into effect at midnight Saturday night. The new price is in effect at both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park.

Parking went up too, from $16 to $17.

The theme park also increased prices by 4% last June, the report notes.

"Theme park experts have long wondered how guests will respond when the single-day price breaks the $100 mark. Prices have been raised in August 2010, June 2011, May 2012 and June 2013. If Disneyland raises the entry price by another 4% next year, it will reach the $100-per-ticket mark," the story notes.

Disneyland also upped the prices for its annual passes. "For the Deluxe Annual Passport, which allows admission for both Anaheim parks 315 days of the year, rose from $499 to $519, also a 4% increase," the story reports.

Disneyland said in a statement: "Like any business, we periodically evaluate our pricing and make adjustments based on a variety of factors. A ticket to our theme parks represents a great value, particularly when you look at the breadth and quality of attractions and entertainment we offer and the special moments guests experience with our cast."

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Stephen King to Appear on 'Under the Dome'

CBS revealed that Stephen King, who wrote the novel that is the basis of the network's drama series "Under the Dome," will make a cameo in the show's second-season premiere, Deadline.com reports.

Executive producer Neal Baer said season two will move the story beyond King's book, but added that King is giving his blessing by writing the season's first episode and making an appearance in it.

"In a trailer for that first, King-written episode, The Dome becomes magnetic, sending all the town’s metal appliances, vehicles, etc., careening across the landscape. This doesn’t end well for at least one of the show’s characters," the story reports.

Said Baer: “What I love about Stephen King’s way of seeing the world is that the ordinary becomes extraordinary. The barbecue is only the beginning. In that episode, things we trust become fearful."

Baer added: “This is about ecological disaster pending -- that magnetism has caused many things to happen."

The report adds that Baer "hinted at 'biblical problems of pestilence and bloody rain, because characters haven’t been the stewards they should be, of protecting the land and each other. What is the message The Dome is trying to teach us?'”

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Which Show Gained the Most in Live+7 DVR Ratings?

Nielsen TV Ratings data examining Live+7 DVR numbers for the week ending May 4 reveal that a big hit show benefited the most from delayed viewing. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the hit CBS sitcom "The Big Bang Theory" posted the largest gain in adults 18-49.

The stats cover only original programs, and exclude specials and repeats.

"Big Bang" gained 2.5 ratings points in viewers 18-49 in Live + & Day measurement.

In terms of percentage gain, CW's "Hart of Dixie" and ABC's "Nashville" were the leaders, with both shows gaining 100 percent on their Live+Same Day adults 18-49 ratings.

In total viewers, "The Blacklist" was No. 1, adding 6.51 million viewers to its Live+Same Day viewership.

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Mick Jagger Becomes a Great-Grandfather

Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger has become a great-grandfather, reports the U.K.’s Daily Mail. The report notes that Jagger is 70.

Jagger’s granddaughter, Assisi, gave birth to a baby girl, the story adds. Assisi’s mother, Jade, is believed to have signed a deal with what the publication calls a “society magazine” for a photoshoot with the baby. Assisi, who is 21, said in an interview that “women in our family just tend to have children young.”

Jade, 42, is expecting her third child this month, with husband Adrian Fillary. She has two daughters with Piers Jackson: Assisi, and Amba, who is 17.

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'Dancing With the Stars' Dancer Seriously Injured

One of the dancers on ABC's “Dancing with the Stars” suffered a serious injury Sunday afternoon. People magazine reports that dancer Mark Ballas fell to the floor while rehearsing a routine with his celebrity partner, Candace Cameron Bure.

"Mark was seriously injured during camera blocking," a representative said. "His shoulder popped out during a lift and he was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where he was treated and released. It's unclear whether or not he'll be able to perform on Monday's show."

Ballas has previously injured his shoulder on the program. In the fifth-season finale, he dislocated his left shoulder during a performance.

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Kevin Spacey Under Fire Over Photo

“House of Cards” star Kevin Spacey is facing criticism after reports surfaced alleging that he was paid by the Mexican government to tweet a selfie he took with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, reports TheWrap.com.

“One of these Presidents is real. With President Enrique Pena Nieto in Mexico last night,” Spacey tweeted May 7 to his more than 3 million followers. A Mexican tourism official told Forbes that the actor was paid, but wouldn’t say how much.

A report from Mexico alleged that Spacey was paid $8 million by the country’s government.

The reports were denied by Spacey, who wrote on Twitter, “Story about Mex Gov paying 8m or any amount for selfie not true! Was In Mex for Tourist Board event. Meeting President not planned at all.”

Some Mexicans were outraged by the report that the actor was paid with government money, and were still skeptical, TheWrap notes.

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Why OWN Put Its Michael Sam Project on Hold

Just days after Oprah Winfrey’s OWN announced it was making a docuseries about gay football player Michael Sam, the network has put the project on hold, reports Deadline.com.

“After careful consideration and discussion with the St. Louis Rams, ‘The Untitled Michael Sam Project’ has been postponed, allowing Michael the best opportunity to achieve his dream of making the team,” the network said.

The project had drawn a mixed reaction, while the NFL said it didn’t know about the show before the draft. Sam was to be followed by cameras as he sought a spot on the team.

Sam’s agent said the decision to postpone the project “will allow for Michael to have a total focus on football, and will ensure no distractions to his teammates. Everybody involved remains committed to this project and understands its historical importance as well as its positive message.”

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What Were the Best and Worst Decisions of the Upfronts?

With the upfront presentations finished and the fall schedules set for the 2014-15 season, it’s time to take stock of what were the best and worst decisions by the broadcast networks, writes Lynette Rice at EW.com’s Inside TV.

The most exciting comic book adaptation is “Gotham” from Fox, while the least exciting are “Constantine” from NBC and ABC’s midseason “Agent Carter.” Of the latter shows, Rice notes, “How well does America know these characters anyway?”

The most deserved cancellations are Fox’s “Dads,” ABC’s “Mixology,” and CBS’s “Friends With Better Lives,” while the least deserved cancellation was “Intelligence,” the CBS drama starring Josh Holloway, which was averaging 10.2 million viewers when it was canceled, the story notes.

As for scheduling, the riskiest move is Fox putting “Gotham” opposite the CBS comedy hit “The Big Bang Theory,” rather than putting it at 9 p.m. with a lead-in from “Sleepy Hollow,” Rice notes. The best scheduling decision was putting “Scandal” at 9 p.m. on ABC. “It’s overdue for a prime anchor slot,” she writes.

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Disney Star Becomes Youngest TV Director Ever

A young actor has been certified by Guinness World Records as the youngest television director ever. According to The Hollywood Reporter, 16-year-old “Kickin’ It” actor Leo Howard set the mark by directing an episode of the Disney XD show that will air on June 30.

"I knew people would be thinking, 'That kid,' so I focused on the camera-blocking and what the actors needed," Howard said. Executive producer Jim O’Doherty noted to the publication, “We finished a half-hour early!”

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Pamela Anderson Reveals Gang Rape, Child Sexual Abuse

"Baywatch" star Pamela Anderson made a surprise revelation during a gala event aboard a luxury yacht on the French Riviera Friday night in connection with the Cannes Film Festival, "revealing she was molested as a child, raped at the age of 12 and gang-raped just years later," the U.K.'s Daily Mail reports.

She opened up about her ordeals in front of about 200 guests gathered for the launch of the Pamela Anderson Foundation, the report notes.

Anderson, 46, is quoted as saying to the gathering: "I did not have an easy childhood. Despite loving parents, I was molested from age six by a female babysitter."

Anderson also reportedly told the group: "I went to a friend’s boyfriend’s house and his older brother decided to teach me backgammon, which led into a back massage, which led into rape. My first heterosexual experience. He was 25 years old and I was 12."

The actress and former Playboy cover girl also said that a school boyfriend "decided it would be funny to gang-rape me with six friends. I wanted off this earth."

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Report: 'Real Housewives' Haven't Made Good on Charity Pledge

In the final segment of a three-part “Real Housewives of Atlanta” reunion, two of the stars -- NeNe Leakes and Kenya Moore -- pledged to donate $20,000 each to the Detroit Public Schools, but that vow hasn’t yet been fulfilled, reports TheWrap.com.

The show was taped two months ago, and aired about two weeks ago. The pledge came after the two argued over Leakes’ behavior at a charitable event.

“Since you felt that I behaved so badly at your charity event, I will do this for you,” Leakes said. “Let's put our differences aside for a day of charity. You pick the charity of your choice. I will donate $20,000, and you match me.” The two picked the Detroit Public Schools Foundation.

The president of the foundation told TheWrap, "To date we have not received any funds from these individuals.”

Requests for comment from Leakes’ manager and Moore’s representatives hadn’t been returned, the publication notes.

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Ousted NBA Coach Headed Back to ESPN

About two weeks after he was fired as head coach of the Golden State Warriors, Mark Jackson has signed a deal to return to ESPN, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Jackson signed a multi-year agreement to work as an NBA TV analyst, marking a return to the network after previously working for ABC and ESPN’s NBA coverage.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Mark back to ESPN and for him to reunite with Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy -- a three-person booth that was very popular and successful for us for several years,” John Wildhack, ESPN executive vice president, production and programming, said in a statement.

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'NCIS' Actor Signs New Two-Year Pact, Including Development Deal

One of the stars of CBS's drama series “NCIS” has signed a new two-year deal with CBS Studios. Deadline.com reports that the pact between the studio and Michael Weatherly will see him continue with the show in his role as Anthony DiNozzo.

The new pact also includes an overall development deal for his new production company, Solar Drive Productions, the story says.

“I am thrilled for the opportunity to continue playing Very Special Agent Tony DiNozzo on ‘NCIS’ for seasons 12 and 13,” Weatherly said. “Leslie (Moonves), Nina (Tassler) and David (Stapf) have been incredibly supportive of my growth over the last decade and I couldn’t be more excited about working with them on the production side. My new company, Solar Drive Productions, will have fancy letterhead and nice furniture.”

Weatherly’s agreement comes after other “NCIS” cast members, including Sean Murray and Pauley Perrette, have also renewed their contracts, the story notes. It adds that the entire cast of the CBS drama will return in the fall.

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Weather Channel Meteorologist Set to Return After Surgery

Weather Channel meteorologist Dr. Greg Forbes will return to the network two weeks after surgery for colon cancer, reports TVNewser.

“Dr. Forbes will be in and out of the office the next several months for ongoing treatment and follow-ups, but we’ll be very happy to have him back in the office when he is up to it. Based on the outpouring of support on social media, I know his fans will feel the same,” Weather Channel President David Clark wrote to staff in a memo, the story says.

The note added that Forbes had been contributing to severe weather forecasts from his home and had done an on-air interview via phone while recovering.

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Nielsen Adds Demographic Data to Twitter TV Ratings

Nielsen is adding more details to its Twitter TV Ratings, including demographics such as gender and age, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Nielsen started offering Twitter TV Ratings last year as a way to track chatter on social media about shows, as well as how many people actually saw the tweets.

With the added demographic data, the service can highlight some surprising trends, such as that while most people tweeting about the 2014 NFL Draft on the NFL Network were men (at about 80%), the tweets reached an equal number of men and women.

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Premiere Dates Set for 'The Strain' and Other Summer Series

FX and FXX have set the premiere dates for “The Strain” and other summer programs, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker.

The networks’ new summer shows will start with “Tyrant,” from producer Howard Gordon of “Homeland” and starring Adam Rayner, Jennifer Finnigan and Ashraf Barhom. It will debut June 24 at 10 p.m. on FX.

“Wilfred,” about a man played by Elijah Wood who has a relationship with his talking dog, Wilfred, will return for its fourth and final season June 25 on FXX. Also returning is “The Bridge,” which will be back for its second season July 9 on FX.

The drama “The Strain,” which is adapted from the vampire novels by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, will debut July 13 on FX. It tracks a team of scientists who looking into a viral outbreak that causes vampirism.

“Marred,” a new comedy starring Judy Greer, will debut July 17 on FX, while the comedy “You’re the Worst” will premiere July 17 on FX.

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Pop Singer Whose Version of the National Anthem Has Been Played at Hundreds of Sporting Events Dies at Age 83

A "beloved crooner known for his high-tenor voice and romantic songs in the 1950s and early 1960s has died," reports the Associated Press, adding, "He was 83."

The singer, Jerry Vale, made a recording of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in the 1960s that "was played at sporting events for years," says the AP story.

"Born Genaro Louis Vitaliano," the AP story notes, "Vale started performing in New York supper clubs as a teenager and went on to record more than 50 albums. His rendition of 'Volare,' 'Innamorata' and 'Al Di La' became classic Italian-American songs. His biggest hit was 'You Don't Know Me.'"

Vale also played himself in "The Sopranos" TV series and in two Martin Scorsese directed movies, "Goodfellas" and "Casino."

Adds the AP, "Vale is survived by Rita, his wife of 55 years; a son, Robert; and a daughter, Pamela."

Here's Vale's rendition of the "Star-Spangled Banner" that we found on YouTube:

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AT&T to Buy DirecTV for $48.5 Billion -- Analysts Trying to Figure Out Why AT&T Made This Deal

"AT&T agreed on Sunday, May 18, 2014, to buy the satellite television operator DirecTV for $48.5 billion," reports The New York Times.

The Times adds, "Through the deal, AT&T would become the country’s second-biggest pay TV provider, behind only Comcast. AT&T has about 5.7 million TV customers through its U-verse service, while the satellite TV operator has about 20.3 million customers in the United States."

For the past several weeks analysts have been trying to figure out what AT&T gets out of the deal.

For example, on May 13, according to Tiernan Ray of Barron's, "Craig Moffett of the eponymous Moffett/Nathanson research house issued a scathing screed about the deal, writing: 'Like skid row junkies in the final wretched tremens of downward spiral, telecom/cable/satellite investors now appear to need a deal fix almost daily to stave off the messy crisis of incontinence that comes with the inevitable withdrawal.'"

Ray adds that Moffett writes: " 'What DirecTV doesn’t solve is AT&T’s growth problem,' saying, 'What will AT&T do when first subscriber growth, and then EBITDA growth, and finally revenue growth, all turn negative, as seems inevitable in short order? It is not hard to put a fair valuation on a business that is shrinking -- there’s an appropriate valuation for everything -- but as a practical matter, when DirecTV begins to shrink, then the price paid will no longer matter … it will merely be another liability that AT&T will need to offset by growth somewhere else. By that time, AT&T’s revenues will be in the $160B range. A 1% contraction in pro-forma consolidated revenue by that time would require finding a business that is adding $1.6B in new revenues every year just to get back to zero. Good luck.'"

And back on May 1, according to re/code.net, Moffett wrote that "AT&T might eventually end up saving $400 million a year in programming costs. Lots of people would be very pleased to say that they saved $400 million a year, but in this case, Moffett notes, it’s just 'a pretax return of 1% on a $40B price tag. Not nothing, but not close to sufficient.'"

According to the Barron's piece, "R. W. Baird’s William Power, who follows AT&T and rates its shares Neutral, writes, 'The financial merits appear solid, with the strategic fit mixed, dependent ultimately on execution.'"

Barron's adds, "Canaccord Genuity’s Greg Miller, who has a Hold rating on AT&T stock, notes that AT&T’s deals have in past met their objectives, but that he sees little strategic rationale even if the financials make sense:

'Difficult to make strategic sense of AT&T-DTV -- With pay TV video subscriber growth in decline due to competition and technological substitution (over-the-top video), the long-term potential contribution of either DirecTV or Dish Network is questionable. Pay TV business models could easily be on the cusp of trends similar to those in the US wireline business a decade ago. Financial merits are potentially attractive -- With AT&T’s current 5% dividend yield and DirecTV trading at an implied 6.0% Free Cash Flow yield (at $100 per share) before synergies, which currently cannot be estimated without further details, a deal could make financial sense.'"

According to the New York Times article, Randall L. Stephenson, AT&T’s chief executive, said in an interview Sunday, “If you think about what we’re trying to accomplish, we’re trying to get way down the road to get content across multiple devices. The more we peeled the onion back, frankly the better we felt about this.”

The Times also notes, "Under the agreement’s terms, AT&T would pay $95 a share in stock and cash -- roughly 10 percent higher than DirecTV’s closing stock price on Friday, May 16, 2014, and about 30 percent higher than where its shares were trading before word of a potential transaction began to emerge.

"Including the assumption of DirecTV’s debt, the deal is worth about $67.1 billion. Existing DirecTV shareholders would own 15 to 16 percent of the combined company after closing, which is expected in a year’s time."

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Barbara Walters Bows Out -- Here's the Video

Barbara Walters retired today after a 50-year television career, offering her parting words as she signed off on the show she created almost two decades ago, ABC's "The View." Here are the legendary TV journalist's final words:

Taking part in the celebration was Oprah Winfrey, who made a surprise appearance on "The View." Here is Oprah's tribute to Walters:

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New ABC Talent Show Snags Major Music Stars

ABC's new musical talent competition is set to premiere next month, and based on the lineup of top names who will be a part of it, "Rising Star" could be a strong entry in an already crowded field.

The Los Angeles Times reports that ABC, which is working on the show with Dick Clark Productions, has secured the services of Brad Paisley, Ludacris, Josh Groban and Kesha for the show, which is due to premiere June 22.

"The hook in 'Rising Star' is that neither competitors nor viewers will have to wait to find out who stays and who goes: Audience voting will happen in real time over an app, and competitors will be able to see the results as they come in," the story reports.

The piece adds: "The four members of the show’s 'panel of experts' are set to appear together in a preview for the show on Sunday at the Billboard Music Awards, which is being hosted by Ludacris and not coincidentally airing on ABC starting at 8 p.m."

Behind the cameras, the show's staff should have a good handle on the competition. The report notes that among the executive producers of "Rising Star," Ken Warwick is from "American Idol" and Nicolle Yaron worked on "The Voice."

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AMC Orders Three Series

AMC has placed orders for three new series, with The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reporting that the orders reflect the cable channel's effort to pump up its unscripted offerings. All three orders are for reality shows.

The channel placed an eight-episode order for a television version of Chris Hardwick's Web series "All-Star Celebrity Bowling," to be hosted by Randy and Jason Sklar. The series, from High Noon Productions, "will feature different casts of celebrities facing off on the lanes for charity each week," the story reports, adding: "'Celebrity Bowling's' pilot episode features some network promotion with Jon Hamm and the cast of 'Mad Men' facing off against Hardwick's 'Nerdist' team."

Another new series is an untitled wrestling project from Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins. The hour show, which received an eight-episode order, will follow Corgan's activities as the new creative director of Chicago-based wrestling league Resistance Pro.

"Lastly, there's 'Visionaries' (working title), a workplace docuseries about the employees of Hollywood prop and set design outfit Vision Scenery. The half-hour is getting six episodes," THR reports.

Said AMC Senior VP of Unscripted Programming Eliot Goldberg: “These three new series represent AMC’s continuing push to find truly original ideas and explore fascinating worlds. We are thrilled to continue our incredible partnership with Chris Hardwick, host of our most successful unscripted series, 'Talking Dead,' and with Left/Right, one of the most innovative producers in the business. We can’t wait to bring these three extremely entertaining series to viewers next year.”

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CBS Season Finales: 'Big Bang' Goes Out With a Bang, But for a CBS Drama Series, the Season Ender Is a Ratings Dud

CBS aired a number of season finales Thursday night, and the ratings results were mixed, to put it mildly. Based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo, CBS's "The Big Bang Theory" and "The Millers" both surged 26% from last week, while the finale of the drama series "Elementary" slipped 7% and notched a new all-time low for the series.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that CBS won the night overall, both in the 18-49 demo and in total viewers, with "Big Bang Theory's" 4.8 average rating in 18-49 far and away the best number of the night -- almost double the rating for its closest competition. "Theory" also drew a whopping 16.29 million total viewers -- the only broadcast show in prime time to hit double figures in the millions.

The season finale of CBS's "The Millers" surged to a 2.4 average in 18-49 after sinking to a series-low 1.9 last week. "Bad Teacher" ticked up 8% to a 1.4 -- the same number delivered by the season finale of "Elementary." The "Elementary" closer was off 30% from the show's previous season finale.

Second-place Fox was paced by "American Idol," which climbed 25% from a week ago to a 2.0 in viewers 18-49, while "Hell's Kitchen" rose 13% to a 1.7.

ABC aired a mix of repeats and originals, highlighted by the season finale of "Grey's Anatomy," which equaled last week's number in the 18-49 demo with a 2.5 average. "Black Box" fell 8% to a 1.1. ABC led in to "Grey's" with a repeat of the series, which managed only a 0.6 in the 8 p.m. slot.

NBC didn't get much out of Part 2 of "Rosemary's Baby," which slipped 9% from the 18-49 delivery for Sunday's Part 1, settling for a 1.0 average for Thursday's two-hour broadcast. The network opened prime time with a 1.1 for "Hollywood Game Night," which was a 22% improvement from a week ago.

For prime time overall, CBS led the way in the 18-49 demo with a 2.2 average rating, followed by Fox (1.9 average), ABC (1.4), and NBC and Univision (both 1.0). CBS won total viewers with 9.0 million, topping Fox (6.7 million), ABC (5.5 million), NBC (3.5 million) and Univision (2.5 million).

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New Showtime Drama Set in the World of Doping Athletes

Showtime is developing a new hourlong drama project set in the world of performance-enhancing drugs, Nellie Andreeva reports in an exclusive on Deadline.com.

The project, "Dope," focuses on doping athletes and a South Florida doctor who reportedly popularized the practice, the piece reports.

"The project is timely in light of the Alex Rodriguez scandal, but it is fictional and not based on recent events," Andreeva writes. "David Hollander ('Ray Donovan') and feature writer Michael Costigan ('Prometheus') are writing and producing. Serving as consultants are two journalists who have covered that Major League Baseball doping scandal extensively: Tim Elfrink, managing editor of the Miami New Times, who broke the story about the link between big names in MLB, including Rodriguez, to an anti-aging clinic in Miami, and Gus Garcia-Roberts of New York Newsday, who uncovered a report about MLB’s alleged involvement in the acquisition of stolen documents as part of its investigation into the Florida clinic."

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Moonves Says CBS Is Developing a 24-hour Digital News Network; Network Boss Also Follows Up on Joel McHale, Neil Patrick Harris and the Late-Night Situation

CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves says the company is working on a 24-hour digital news network, Deadline.com reports.

“Wouldn’t it be a good idea to do a 24-hour digital channel taking all the resources that CBS News has … all over the world?” he asked rhetorically during an interview with Bloomberg TV. “There is so much information that we get every day that doesn’t fit into a 22-minute newscast at 6:30 or ‘CBS This Morning.’ We can go direct digital. So that’s in the early stages, under the tutelage of David Rhodes, the president of CBS News, and it’s an exciting alternative to cable news.”

Separately, he added that the network hasn’t had discussions to have “Community” star Joel McHale take over the “Late Late Show.” He also added that he did not offer David Letterman’s “Late Show” spot to Neil Patrick Harris, who earlier this week told Howard Stern on his radio show that Moonves had asked whether he might be interested.

“Neil Patrick Harris has been a member of our family, and I’m very close to him personally. … So after Neil was done, we said: ‘All right, Neil, what do you want to do? What do you want to do? What are the possibilities? Want to come do a new series with us?’ And we knew probably Letterman and 12:30 might be open, late-night. ‘What do you think about that?’ So it was a very general topic. So I wouldn’t say we didn’t talk about it, but he wasn’t offered it per se,” Moonves said in the interview.

 

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Which Pilots and Canceled Series Are Being Shopped, and Which Remain Alive?

With the networks having announced their fall schedules, the landscape resembles “a ‘Walking Dead’ episode,” Nellie Andreeva writes on Deadline.com, adding that “among the countless bodies strewn around, a few are still standing.”

Pilots that are still in contention at the networks where they were developed include Fox’s “Cabot College” and “Sober Companion”; CBS’s “Gaffigan”; “Old Soul” at NBC; and “Agent X” at TNT, which is being retooled, Andreeva reports.

Even though the CW's “Supernatural” spinoff “Supernatural: Bloodlines” isn’t moving forward, the network will work on another spinoff of the long-running drama next season.

As far as series that are being shopped outside their networks, “How I Met Your Dad,” which was passed over at CBS, is leading the group, the story adds. Digital services such as Netflix as well as competing broadcasters are likely to be interested, Andreeva notes.

Other pilots that are expected to be shopped outside their original networks include ABC’s “Keep it Together” and “Saint Francis,” which stars Michael Imperioli. The NBC project “The Pro,” starring Rob Lowe,” is also being shopped.

Among shows that were canceled, ABC’s “Suburgatory” is being shopped to other networks. While NBC’s “Community” isn’t being shopped, it’s reportedly receiving interest from other outlets, Andreeva adds.

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Former Disney TV President Files Motion to Dismiss Sexual Abuse Allegations

Lawyers for the former president of Walt Disney Television have filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit that alleges the executive, David Neuman, sexually abused Michael Egan, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Neuman’s attorneys said in a motion filed Thursday that Egan had sworn under oath in a previous case that their client “did not engage in any of the acts" that his lawsuit is alleging. The lawsuit alleges that Neuman and other adult men sexually abused Egan in the late 1990s, but the motion claims that Egan testified in 2003 that he wasn’t abused by Neuman.

“David Neuman has never been present when I was involved in any type of sexual conduct, never harassed me, never made sexually suggestive remarks to me, and never acted improperly around me or toward me," Egan said in 2003 while under oath, according to the motion.

Egan’s attorney did not immediately return a request for comment, the story says.

 

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MSNBC Host, Who's Off the Air, Calls His Own Show to Give Recovery Update

An MSNBC host who has been off the air for more than a month called in to his own show to update viewers on his situation. TVNewser reports that Lawrence O’Donnell provided an update on his recovery from a car accident.

O’Donnell said in his call to "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell" that he has been in physical therapy after breaking his hip and injuring his legs in the accident, which happened while he was in a taxi cab and on vacation.

“I’m getting pretty good on crutches,” he said. The story adds that he told substitute host Ari Melber that he may be back at some point in June.

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HBO Working on Series About Popular Rock Band

HBO is readying a docuseries about a U.S. rock band as the group records its untitled eighth album. Deadline.com reports that the series will focus on the Foo Fighters, who are due to release the record this fall.

Dave Grohl, the band's lead singer, is directing the project, which tracks the group members as they travel to eight cities to make the recording.

“The Foos traveled to Chicago, Austin, Nashville, Los Angeles, Seattle, New Orleans, Washington, D.C., and New York and recorded one song in each town, working with local musicians at a storied studio to capture each city’s musical heritage and cultural fabric,” the story reports.

The project is due to premiere this year.

foo fighters.jpgFoo Fighters

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Beyonce, Her Sister and Jay Z Open Up About Elevator Attack

Beyonce, her sister Solange and Beyonce’s husband Jay Z have opened up about an episode in which Solange attacked Jay Z in an elevator, reports the Associated Press.

Following the release of security footage of the attack, the three said in a statement to the AP, “Families have problems and we’re no different."

The statement adds: "As a result of the public release of the elevator security footage from Monday, May 5th, there has been a great deal of speculation about what triggered the unfortunate incident. But the most important thing is that our family has worked through it."

It also says: “Jay and Solange each assume their share of responsibility for what has occurred. They both acknowledge their role in this private matter that has played out in the public. They both have apologized to each other and we have moved forward as a united family."

The statement marks the first public comment they've made about the incident, which was publicized by TMZ on Monday. The video, which lacks audio, shows Solange attacking Jay Z, while Beyonce stands nearby in the elevator.

"The reports of Solange being intoxicated or displaying erratic behavior throughout that evening are simply false," the statement adds.

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Why WWE's Stock Price Has Taken a Beating

World Wrestling Entertainment lost almost one-quarter of its stock value on Thursday after it said that its new online TV network will need until 2015 to compensate for for lost video-on-demand and pay-per-view sales, Bloomberg reports.

The company said it needs as many as 1.4 million customers to earn enough to replace lost business from those events if they disappear from pay-TV systems, the story reports, citing a release from the company. The WWE Network, however, had only 670,000 subscribers at the end of the first quarter.

In an interview, CFO George Barrios said the company is confident it will reach 1 million subscribers in 2014. He declined to comment on the stock price.

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Amazon Ramps Up Original Programming With New Kids' Shows

Amazon will debut three new children’s shows this summer as it continues to beef up its original programming, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker.

The online store and streaming service will release the first six episodes of each series on its premiere date, and then release the additional episodes later in the year. The new shows are “Tumble Leaf,” “Creative Galaxy” and “Annedroids.”

“Tumble Leaf” will debut May 23 and tracks Fig the Fox as he goes on scientific adventures with his friend Stick. “Creative Galaxy” will premiere June 27 and features the voices of Samantha Bee and Jason Jones from “The Daily Show.” It follows characters who venture through the cosmos and try to solve problems with the arts.

The live-action “Annedroids” will debut July 25 and features Addison Holley as a young genius named Anne and her android friends.

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WGN America Sets Premiere for Second Original Scripted Series

WGN America will debut “Manhattan,” its second original scripted series, July 27, reports Variety. The drama was created and written by Sam Shaw of “Masters of Sex,” and is directed by Emmy winner Thomas Schlamme, the piece notes.

The project looks at the behind-the-scenes workings of creating the first atomic bomb. It stars John Benjamin Hickey as Frank Winter and Olivia Williams as his wife, Liza, with Frank working with a team of scientists on the Manhattan Project in the 1940s.

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Showtime to Adapt Icelandic Dramedy

Jonathan Ames and Electus Chairman Ben Silverman are involved in a Showtime project that will be an adaptation of an Icelandic dramedy. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Ames (“Bored to Death”) is adapting “World’s End” for the pay-cable channel, with Silverman on board to executive produce.

The project is about a high school English teacher who is struggling with his life and his alienated students, when he’s institutionalized. He finds that he feels normal there, and leads an inmate rebellion, the story says. Ames will write and executive produce, along with Silverman and “Bored to Death” executive producer Stephanie Davis.

The project is the second for Ames in recent weeks, with his upcoming Starz series featuring Patrick Stewart called “Blunt Talk” also in the works.

 

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Fox Moves Up the Premiere of Its Fake Prince Harry Reality Show

Fox is pushing up the debut of its summer reality show “I Wanna Marry Harry,” which is about female contestants competing to marry Britain’s Prince Harry, although he’s played by an impersonator, Deadline.com reports.

The reality show will now debut May 20, after the first night of the two-part “American Idol” finale. It was previously pegged to debut May 27, following the celebrity game show “Riot,” which earned a 0.5/1 rating in its debut Tuesday.

The reality show will feature 12 American women who are flown to London for the competition, although the contestants are unaware that “Prince Harry” isn’t the real deal.

i wanna marry harry.jpg"I Wanna Marry Harry"

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'Grey's Anatomy' Actor Joins Amazon Drama

An actor from "Grey's Anatomy" will play the male lead in a drama project from Amazon Studios. Deadline.com reports that the pilot “Hysteria” tapped T.R. Knight as the male lead opposite Mena Suvari.

The project stars Suvari as Dr. Logan Harlow, who is a socially awkward yet a brilliant neurologist. She returns to her hometown of Austin, Texas, to investigate an epidemic, with Knight playing her brother, Carter James Harlow, a man on death row who is just weeks away from execution.

 

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FCC Votes to Move Forward With What It Calls an 'Open Internet' Plan

Updated at 8:50 a.m. PT on 5-16-2014 to change headline to be more reflective of what the FCC did.

On a 3-2 vote, the Federal Communications Commission agreed today to "move forward with a set of proposed rules aimed at guaranteeing an open Internet, prohibiting high-speed Internet service providers from blocking or discriminating against legal content flowing through their pipes," The New York Times reports.

"While the plan is meant to prevent data from being knowingly slowed by Internet providers, it would allow content providers to pay for a guaranteed fast lane of service. Some opponents of the plan argue that allowing some content to be sent along a fast lane would essentially discriminate against content not sent along that lane," the report adds.

The vote was along party lines, with the commission's three Democrats, including Chairman Tom Wheeler, voting in favor of opening the plan to public comment. The panel's two Republicans voted against the plan. The proposal will be open for comment for the next four months.

"The two Republicans who voted against the plan said it exceeded the agency’s legal authority, that there had been no evidence of actual harm or deviation from net neutrality principles, and that elected members of Congress should decide the issue, not regulatory appointees," the story reports.

The article adds: "FCC staff members explained that the proposal would aim to enhance the transparency rule that requires Internet service providers to tell consumers how they manage their traffic, a regulation that was upheld by the court, and would set a 'commercially reasonable' standard to judge conduct that is not covered by a blanket no-blocking rule."

The proposal approved today also aims to put in place an ombudsman to follow up on complaints from the public.

Just before the vote, Wheeler said: “We are dedicated to protecting and preserving an open Internet. What we’re dealing with today is a proposal, not a final rule. We are asking for specific comment on different approaches to accomplish the same goal -- an open Internet.”

tom wheeler.pngTom Wheeler

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Two Networks in Tight Race for Wednesday Prime Time

With their franchise reality shows going head-to-head in prime time Wednesday night, two networks staged a close battle for the night's ratings crown, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that CBS inched ahead of Fox for the No. 1 spot, while CBS's "Survivor" won the head-to-head battle with Fox's "American Idol."

ABC, meanwhile, again had the top broadcast show in Wednesday prime, with "Modern Family."

"Survivor" delivered a 2.5 average in 18-49 at 8 p.m. for CBS, ticking up 4% from a week ago. Fox's two-hour "Idol" marked the show's 500th episode, and celebrated with a 24% improvement over last week, registering a 2.1.

Leading out from "Survivor," the season finale of CBS's "Criminal Minds" came through with a 2.7 average in the 18-49 demo, climbing 17% from a week ago. CBS wrapped up prime time with a "CSI" repeat, which pulled a 1.5 average.

"Modern Family" led the way for ABC with a 3.1 average in viewers 18-49, up 7% from a week ago and the best demo number Wednesday night in broadcast prime. The rest of the ABC lineup was also mostly up, including "The Middle," up 19% with a 1.9; "Suburgatory," up 15% with a 1.5; and "Nashville," up one-tenth of a point from last week with a 1.3.

ABC's "Mixology" held steady with a 1.3 average in 18-49.

NBC's drama lineup didn't move much, except for "Chicago PD," which rose 14% in the 18-49 demo from last week's series low, delivering a 1.6 average. "Revolution" and "Law & Order: SVU" both matched last week's numbers -- a 1.1 for "Revolution" (a series low), and a 1.5 for "SVU."

For prime time overall, CBS led the way in the 18-49 demo wtih a 2.2 average, ahead of Fox (2.1 average), ABC (1.7), NBC (1.4) and Univision (1.1). CBS also won total viewers, averaging 9.9 million to top Fox (8.8 million), ABC (5.8 million), NBC (5.1 million) and Univision (2.7 million).

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Former Star of ABC Drama Series Pleads Not Guilty to Felony Battery

An actor who was one of the stars of an ABC drama series has entered a not guilty plea in a felony battery case. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Columbus Short, a former star of "Scandal," entered the plea in a case involving a fight earlier this year in a West Hollywood restaurant in which a man was reportedly seriously injured.

"Short appeared in court for a brief arraignment hearing on the case filed after he was accused of punching a man at the restaurant in March," THR reports. "The actor's attorney Jeff Jacquet had sought to fast track the case, but Deputy District Attorney David Schorr said the injuries involved were too serious to qualify. He said Short is accused of cold-cocking a man, knocking him unconscious and fracturing his left eye socket."

Short is due back in court June 5, when the date for the preliminary hearing is to be set.

"Superior Court Judge Keith L. Schwartz said based on the injuries the case wasn't eligible for the so-called early disposition program, which could have settled the case before a preliminary hearing in which more details about the altercation would be disclosed," the THR report notes.

Short has a history of violence allegations, the piece reports. "He faces a misdemeanor spousal battery case and his estranged wife has a temporary restraining order against him. Tanee Short claims her husband threatened her with a knife during a fight in April," THR reports. "She filed for divorce after the incident, and a hearing on the restraining order is scheduled for May 21."

Short was one of the leads on "Scandal" through its first three seasons, but won't be back with the ABC show for season four, as we reported previously.

columbus short 3.pngColumbus Short

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NCC Media Launches Automotive Marketing Group

The advertising sales, marketing and technology firm NCC Media today announced the launch of the new NCC Automotive Marketing team. The team will work with automakers, ad agencies, dealer groups, aftermarket and power sports companies to target consumers through television and digital media.

"The new group’s aim is to serve auto marketers and their ad agencies by providing highly tailored consumer research and assembling comprehensive, customized marketing campaigns across multiple platforms. The group will be led by Andrew Capone, NCC’s Senior Vice President of Marketing & Business Development," the company said in today's announcement.

The release adds: "The automotive and media landscapes have shifted markedly over the last few years, and the next decade will see a revolution in how auto marketers target, reach and sell to a rapidly evolving consumer base. The new group will reach cable television, digital media, interactive video, sales promotions, branded content, mobile, social media and additional platforms."

In a statement included in the announcement, Capone said: “Automotive marketers and their ad agencies are seeking consultative media partners who can contribute to the growth of their businesses, not just sell them ad impressions. NCC is making a considerable investment in staff and in cutting-edge research and big data that will allow auto marketers of every stripe to better utilize our unrivaled consumer targeting and advanced advertising technologies in the years ahead."

andrew capone.pngAndrew Capone

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Popular TV Actor Says CBS's Les Moonves Asked Him to Host a Late-Night Show

A well-known television actor said CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves asked whether he would be interested in hosting a late-night show on the network. Deadline.com reports that Neil Patrick Harris made the comment on Howard Stern’s radio show.

The discussion took place before David Letterman said he would be retiring, although the network was already considering what would happen when Letterman decided to step down, the story says. It also took place as CBS’s “How I Met Your Mother,” Harris' hit comedy series, was winding down.

The piece reports: “Harris has become a member in good standing of the Les Moonves Repertoire Theatre, not only starring in ‘HIMYM’ but also becoming a CBS go-to guy for trophy-show hosting. Harris stressed to Stern that he was ‘not in conversation like about-to-make-a-deal -- but they called me in and sat me down and asked if it was something I’d be interested in, because I have a good relationship with them from ‘How I Met Your Mother.’”

Harris said he was surprised that Moonves approached him with the idea. He added, “I sat for a time with it while I was talking to him, and I told him what concerned me about the longevity of that kind of gig. I think I would get bored of the repetition fast. The structure is so set -- I don’t have any interest in doing Monologue, Commercial, Sketch, Guest, Guest, Musical Act, Good Night.”

Stern asked whether Harris would have preferred the later time slot, Craig Ferguson’s 12:30 a.m. show, but Harris said he still had a problem with it being repetitive, as well as smaller audiences. “Now you’re just getting bitter that nobody’s watching it,” Harris said.

The actor added that what he really wants to do is to host a weekly variety show for CBS, and that Moonves was interested in the idea.

Neil-Patrick-Harris.jpgNeil Patrick Harris

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Two Shows Canceled by FX and FXX

Sister cable channels FX and FXX have canceled two series, TheWrap.com reports. FXX pulled the plug on the comedy series "Legit," while FX canceled "Chozen," an animated comedy about a gay white rapper, the piece reports.

“Chozen” debuted in January and featured voice work by Bobby Moynihan, Hannibal Buress and Kathryn Hahn. “Legit,” meanwhile, starred Australian stand-up comedian Jim Jefferies as himself, and just wrapped up its second season.

Jefferies wrote on his Facebook page, “Legit has been cancelled. Sorry to everyone who was a fan of the show, please watch tonight it's the final two episodes. I am very proud of the work that I did on this show and I made friends that ill have for life. So I'm going to try and not be sad about this.”

jim jefferies.pngJim Jefferies

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CW Unveils Fall 2014 Lineup, Including New Superhero Series and New Hourlong Comedy

The CW today took the wraps off its 2014-15 schedule, which features a new superhero series in the lineup along with a new hourlong comedy. The new season rolls out in October.

B&C reports that the new comedy is "Jane the Virgin," part of a new Monday lineup consisting of returning show "The Originals," which is being shifted from Tuesday to the 8 p.m. Monday slot, with "Jane" leading out from it at 9 p.m.

"A second new series, 'The Flash,' based on the DC Comics character, will move into the 8 p.m. Tuesday time period vacated by 'The Originals.' The series is spun out of a storyline from action drama 'Arrow,' and launches 24 years after CBS premiered its ill-fated attempt to adapt the character to television," the story reports.

The report notes that the scheduling for "The Flash" had a lot to do with what the competition was up to.

"In a conference call with reporters, CW President Mark Pedowitz hinted that 'The Flash' was scheduled at 8 p.m. Tuesday only after the CW learned that ABC would move fellow superhero series 'Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' from that same time period to 9 p.m.," the report notes.

Said Pedowitz: “Sometimes it’s good to be opportunistic."

Here's the CW Fall 2014 schedule:

(New programs in UPPERCASE. All Times ET)

MONDAY
8:00-9:00 p.m.: The Originals
9:00-10:00 p.m.: JANE THE VIRGIN

TUESDAY
8:00-9:00 p.m.: THE FLASH
9:00-10:00 p.m.: Supernatural

WEDNESDAY
8:00-9:00 p.m.: Arrow
9:00-10:00 p.m.: The 100

THURSDAY
8:00-9:00 p.m.: The Vampire Diaries
9:00-10:00 p.m.: Reign

FRIDAY
8:00-8:30 p.m.: Whose Line is it Anyway?
8:30-9:00 p.m.: Whose Line is it Anyway? (encore)
9:00-10:00 p.m.: America’s Next Top Model

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Casey Kasem Turns Up

Hours after the daughter of Casey Kasem filed a missing person report with the police, the broadcasting icon was located in Washington state, the New York Daily News reports.

"We have received confirmation that Casey Kasem has been found," Kasem’s children said in a statement issued by their spokesman. "The family has grave concerns about his health and will do everything in their power to bring him back home."

The development comes after daughter Kerri Kasem won medical conservatorship over the 82-year-old Kasem, who is impaired due to Lewy body dementia, which has left him hardly able to speak. She and her siblings have been battling with their stepmother, Jean Kasem, over their father.

The spokesman for the children said, “Now that it's official, they can move forward with their plan. Today is a week since he was last in his nursing home, and they don't know if he's been taking his medication. The fact that he's been away from his medical care is a big deal and they're scared something serious could happen with his health."

Jean Kasem played the wife of Nick Tortelli on the 1980s comedy “Cheers" and on its short-lived spinoff "The Tortellis,” while Casey Kasem is known to TV viewers for providing the voice of Shaggy on “Scooby Doo" and also created the long-running radio program "American Top 40."

casey kasem 2.pngCasey Kasem

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TBS Extends Conan O'Brien's Contract

TBS has signed an extension with Conan O’Brien, keeping the comedian's late-night talk show on the cable channel through 2018, reports Variety’s Brian Steinberg.

Steinberg writes: “The extension is the second the two sides have negotiated in the last two years. TBS said in 2013 that it had agreed to a new pact with the lanky, red-headed comic that would keep him on its air through November of 2015. The new agreement comes as the senior ranks at Time Warner’s Turner unit have exhibited some churn, with entertainment chief Steve Koonin departing in April to become CEO of the Atlanta Hawks.”

The three-year contract extension means some stability for one network’s late-night schedule, given NBC’s shakeup of its 11:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. time slots, and David Letterman’s upcoming retirement from CBS, with Stephen Colbert slated to replace him, the story points out.

The piece adds, “O’Brien’s show, ‘Conan,’ does not get the biggest numbers in late night, but TBS has indicated the show’s value comes from its ability to draw viewers between the ages of 18 and 34, as well as its popularity in digital and social-media realms.”

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Veteran TV Director, Two-Time Emmy Nominee, Dead at 84

A veteran television director who was nominated twice for Primetime Emmy Awards has died. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Gordon Wiles, whose credits included directing dozens of episodes of “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” died April 27 in Irvine, Calif. He was 84.

Wiles received nominations for Emmys for outstanding directorial achievement in 1968 and 1969 for his work on "Laugh-In." He also directed the 1974 Sissy Spacek film “Ginger in the Morning,” which featured her as a hitchhiker who meets a man on the road and becomes involved with him.

Wiles started his career with NBC in 1950, and returned to the network in 1952 after operating an Army radio station inside North Korea. He later served as an assistant director and producer on “The Dinah Shore Chevy Show,” the story notes.

gordon wiles.pngGordon Wiles

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'SNL' Alum Set to Host the BET Awards

This year's BET Awards will be hosted by a comedian who came up through NBC's "Saturday Night Live" and became known for his edgy material. TheWrap.com reports that Chris Rock has been named to host this year's ceremony.

The announcement was made during BET's Wednesday broadcast of “106 & Park,” the report notes.

In a statement, Rock said, “I watch the BET Awards every year. It's one of my favorite award shows combining people from movies, sports, TV and music. Where else can you get Rick Ross and Michelle Obama in the same room?! The BET Awards is like a party where nothing is off limits. My peers have done the show now it's my turn.”

The awards show will air Sunday, June 29, at 8 p.m. on BET Networks. The ceremony will be held at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.

chris rock.pngChris Rock

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Lifetime Developing TV Movie About Cleveland Kidnapping Victim

Lifetime is working on a telefilm about the true story of one of the Cleveland kidnapping victims of Ariel Castro. EW.com’s Inside TV reports that the project will focus on the story of Michelle Knight.

Knight was abducted by Castro in 2002, when she was 21, a single mom and fighting for custody of her toddler, the story notes. She was held prisoner in his home for 11 years before she and fellow victims Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus escaped last year.

Lifetime has adapted other true-life stories for its programming, including “Bonnie & Clyde” and “Liz & Dick.”

michelle knight.pngMichelle Knight

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Bidding War Ends Over Comedy From 'Sex and the City' Alums

A comedy from “Sex and the City” alums Elisa Zuritsky and Julie Rottenberg has found a TV home after what Deadline.com calls “a competitive situation.” The website reports that Showtime has bought the show, “Yank.”

The project will be directed by “Ugly Betty” Emmy winner Richard Shepard, and is from Fox 21. The comedy tracks a young man who leaves his ultra-orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn to become a stand-up comedian.

"We’ve always been fascinated by the question of how our families’ expectations have and haven’t shaped our lives,” Rottenberg said. “We realized that this is the most extreme version of a family sending a very clear signal of exactly who you’re supposed to be. But what happens if you have your own plans?”

Zuritsky added, “This idea just struck all three of us as something funny and original -- the idea of being a foreigner in your own city seemed a very fresh way of exploring themes of love and family and growing up.”

julie rottenberg (L) and elisa zuritsky.pngJulie Rottenberg, left, and Elisa Zuritsky

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History Goes All In on Shipwreck Believed to Be Christopher Columbus' Long-Lost Flagship

History and the U.K.’s October Films have bought the rights to tape an investigation into what’s believed to be the shipwreck of the Santa Maria, the long-lost Christopher Columbus ship that went down in the Caribbean, reports Deadline.com.

Barry Clifford, a maritime investigator, believes an archaeological team has found the wreck, and History will track further investigations into the ship’s remains, the story says.

“All the geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggest that this wreck is Columbus’ famous flagship,” Clifford said. “I am confident that a full excavation of the wreck will yield the first-ever detailed marine archaeological evidence of Columbus’ discovery of America.”

The ship was lost in 1492 when a cabin boy crashed the vessel into a coral reef off of Haiti. While Columbus wrote about the sinking in his journal, the shipwreck’s exact location wasn’t known.

barry clifford.pngBarry Clifford

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OWN Series Will Track the First Openly Gay NFL Player

OWN has ordered a docuseries about gay football player Michael Sam, with the producers behind the network’s “Lindsay” producing the untitled project, The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

The series will track Sam in the weeks leading up to his getting picked by the NFL’s St. Louis Rams. He was chosen by the team with the 249th overall pick of the NFL draft earlier this month, with ESPN broadcasting him kissing his boyfriend upon hearing the news, the piece adds. Sam became the first openly gay player on an NFL roster.

“We are honored that Michael is trusting us with his private journey in this moment that has not only made history but will shape it forever,” said Winfrey. “I am proud of the focus on authentic storytelling in our new documentary series format. The next real-life story we follow in ‘The Untitled Michael Sam Project’ promises to spark valuable, important discussion on life in America today. Acceptance and illumination start here.”

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Michael Sam

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Fox News Anchor Taking a Break to Work on New Series for FBN

Fox Business Network is launching a new series with a Fox News anchor as host. TVNewser.com reports that Fox News anchor Jamie Colby will host the show, “Strange Inheritance."

The new show will explore real stories of unusual inheritances, the piece notes. The report adds: “Colby will be taking a break from Fox News weekend anchoring as she tapes the show. In fact, she was in Iowa over the weekend working on one of the episodes.”

Colby is replacing Fox Business News anchor Tracy Byrnes, who had been tapped to host, but stepped down due to family obligations. The show will debut this summer.

jamie colby.pngJamie Colby

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Simon Cowell Reality Project Gets Network Order

Simon Cowell is producing a reality competition show for Univision. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the project is a boy-band competition called “La Banda."

The project will look for young men throughout the U.S. and Latin America to create “the ultimate Latino boy band,” and is the first major sale for Cowell since Fox canceled “The X Factor” earlier this year, the story notes. The cancellation of “X Factor” left “the reality kingpin without an on-air stateside gig for the first time in over a decade,” the report says.

The show will debut on Univision in 2015.

"I'm delighted to be partnering with Univision on this new format," Cowell, who appeared at Univision’s upfront presentation, said. "They are fantastically ambitious, and most importantly for ‘La Banda,’ they are totally focused on discovering and creating the next music superstars. There is a huge opportunity for this band, and we are going to be giving the power via this show to the millions of teenage fans.”

simon cowell.pngSimon Cowell

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'Sugar Man' Director's Death Confirmed as Suicide

The death of 36-year-old Swedish film director Malik Bendjelloul, whose documentary "Searching for Sugar Man" won an Academy Award in 2013, is being called a suicide, with Reuters reporting that a family member confirmed it.

As we reported earlier today, Police said Bendjelloul died late Tuesday in the Stockholm area.

Johar Bendjelloul, the director's brother, sent a text message to Reuters in which he said: "I can confirm my brother has taken his own life."

In the Chicago Tribune's report from Reuters, it notes: "'Searching for Sugar Man,' structured like a mystery, followed two South African journalists trying to track down American singer Sixto Rodriguez after his disappearance from the public scene.

"Rodriguez had failed to achieve fame in the United States but, unbeknownst to him, had become a popular and influential folk icon in South Africa."

malik bendjelloul.pngMalik Bendjelloul

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Tuesday Ratings: How Low Did 'Glee' Go -- and Did Fox Get Any Help From Its New Series?

Fox's musical dramedy staple "Glee" aired its season finale Tuesday night, and viewers marked the occasion by not tuning in. Based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo, the show lost 25% of its audience from a week earlier and registered its lowest number in series history with a 0.6 average.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that Fox ended Tuesday prime time in sixth place among the broadcast networks, well behind even the CW, both in the demo and in total viewers. Part of the problem was Fox's new comedy improv series "Riot," which led out from "Glee" with a 0.5 average in 18-49 for the series premiere.

CBS won the night as its drama lineup aired their season finales: a 2.6 average in the 18-49 demo for the season finale of "NCIS," a 2.5 for the finale of "NCIS: Los Angeles" and a 1.9 for the finale of "Person of Interest." The three shows also produced the three best numbers of the night in total viewers: 16.77 million for "NCIS," 14.77 million for "NCIS: LA" and 10.83 million for "Person of Interest," just edging out the 10.77 million who turned out for NBC's "The Voice."

The NBC singing competition equaled the 2.5 average it had last week in adults 18-49, while back-to-back installments of NBC's "About a Boy" delivered a 1.7 for the first episode and a 1.5 for the season finale, equaling a series low. The season finale of "Chicago Fire" came in with a 1.9, the same as last week's episode and an improvement of 12% from the previous season finale.

ABC's season finale of "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD" delivered a 1.9, equaling the show's number from a week ago in the 18-49 demo. The season finale of "The Goldbergs" inched up 13% from last week's series low, managing a 1.4. "Trophy Wife's" series finale surged 29% from a series low a week ago to a 0.9 average, and "Celebrity Wife Swap" delivered another 0.9, matching last week's number.

The CW climbed ahead of Fox as two CW shows -- "Supernatural" and the season finale of "The Originals" -- both delivered 0.9 averages in 18-49, a 50% improvement from last week for "Originals" and a 13% uptick for "Supernatural." However, the report notes that the CW was pre-empted for baseball in some markets, meaning the network's numbers are subject to more than the usual adjustments.

For prime time overall, CBS had the best preliminary number in the 18-49 demo with a 2.3 average, followed by NBC (2.0 average), ABC (1.3), Univision (1.0), CW (0.9) and Fox (0.6). CBS was comfortably ahead in total viewers with 14.1 million, followed by NBC (8.1 million), ABC (3.8 million), Univision (2.6 million), CW (2.1 million) and Fox (1.6 million).

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What's the Plan for Barbara Walters, Post-'The View'?

With Barbara Walters exiting the show she created 17 years ago, what's ahead for the TV icon after "The View"? The Associated Press reports that Walters won’t be on-screen starting next week, although she will remain with the program as an executive producer.

"It's not as if I'm walking into the sunset," Walters told the AP, which described her as looking “a decade or two younger” than her age of 84. "I'm NOT going to be doing a five-day-a-week show, and I'm NOT going after every big 'get.'"

On Thursday’s episode of the ABC show, all of its 11 past and present co-hosts will reunite as Walters retires from daily television. After “The View” airs Thursday, the network will air a two-hour retrospective called “Barbara Walters: Her Story,” at 9 p.m.

"Then on May 17," she said, "I'm going to be sleeping until noon. May 18, I'm going to sleep until noon."

Walters added that her long career demonstrates “there’s no age limit for people. And there shouldn’t be!”

barbara-walters.jpgBarbara Walters

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VH1 Greenlights Tyra Banks Transgender Series

VH1 is moving forward with a docuseries from Tyra Banks and Gay Rosenthal, Deadline.com reports. The project has the working title "TransAmerica" and is set to bow in either late 2014 or early 2015.

"The series chronicles a group of Chicago women who are united by the shared experience of being transgender and follows them as they navigate dating, family and professional ambitions," Deadline reports. "The cast includes: Carmen Carrera, who was recently signed to Elite Model Management and is on the path to becoming a supermodel and recognized as a leading advocate in the transgender community as constantly balances her career goals with her personal life; Giselle, a recent college graduate who is focused on continuing her education as she prepares for her upcoming sexual reassignment surgery; Natalia, a beauty consultant for Christian Dior cosmetics who is faced with the challenge of trying to reconnect with some of her family and gaining their support; Sidney, the ultimate party girl, who’s struggling with the idea of juggling a social life and professional goals; and Victory, who dreams of becoming a doctor but must deal with the discrimination she receives as a transgender woman."

Banks is executive producing for The Tyra Banks Company, Rosenthal for Gay Rosenthal Productions and Mark Schulman for 3 Arts Entertainment, Susan Levison and Nina L. Diaz exec producing for VH1.

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TV's Longest-Running Comedy to Wrap It Up

Plans were announced today to wrap up a series that has been a fixture on network TV for more than a decade and was once a massive ratings hit for CBS. E! News reports that the network will bring "Two and a Half Men" to an end after its 12th season.

The program is reportedly the longest-running sitcom on television. CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler announced plans for the show's end game during the network's upfront presentation this morning in New York.

"The Ashton Kutcher and Jon Cryer comedy's final outing will be a 'season-long finale event,' Tassler said, adding that creator Chuck Lorre is 'psyched' to plot the show's goodbye," the story reports.

Said Tassler: "He's very psyched about this. He's got some great ideas in store and some very big surprises."

The report notes that the show averaged 9 million viewers and a 2.3 rating in the key demo of adults 18-49 during its 11th season.

"The long-running comedy's TV tenure has been a slighty bumpy one, thanks to the drama former star Charlie Sheen caused before he was famously fired after a public feud with Lorre and replaced by Kutcher, as well as Angus T. Jones' controversial comments, including calling the show 'filth,'" the report notes.

The article poses the question: "But will Sheen, who now stars on FX's 'Anger Management,' return for the final season?"

Tassler deflected that same question: "I would like to see whatever Chuck would like to. Chuck knows his show better than me ... he has a lot of surprises in store, I don't know if that's one of them."

Sheen's character was famously killed off in the series after the actor left the show.

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CBS Unveils Its 2014-15 Prime-Time Schedule, Including Eight New Series, 'Thursday Night Football' -- But the Schedule Has One Big Omission

CBS today took the wraps off its prime-time schedule for 2014-15, which features eight new series along with 21 returning shows. Five new shows and "NFL Thursday Night Football" will debut in fall.

The new fall shows include four dramas -- “Madam Secretary,” “NCIS: New Orleans,” “Scorpion” and “Stalker” -- and one comedy series, “The McCarthys.”

“NFL Thursday Night Football” is set to premiere Sept. 11 on CBS.

One key program that does not appear on the schedule is the "How I Met Your Mother" spinoff "How I Met Your Dad." CBS's Nina Tassler told reporters today during the network's upfront presentation that “things on the pilot didn’t work out” and that the show's producers are free to shop it around, Entertainment Weekly reports.

"The hope was to retool the comedy pilot but the producers weren’t interested in returning to the drawing table," the article notes. "The comedy pilot starred Greta Gerwig as Sally, who gradually reveals how she met her partner in flashback. It’s from writers/exec producers Emily Spivey and 'HIMYM' creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas."

Said Tassler: “We have an extraordinary track record of retooling shows. We tried to reach out and engage them about redoing the pilot, but ... it’s just not happening. You run into these kinds of issues. You hope they can resolve themselves. They haven’t."

The CBS exec added: “I’m heartsick. It wasn’t what they wanted to do.”

The network is tweaking its Monday lineup, which will launch in fall with “The Big Bang Theory” at 8 p.m., the new drama series “Scorpion” at 9 p.m. and “NCIS: Los Angeles” at 10 p.m.

The regular Thursday lineup will return Oct. 30, when "Big Bang Theory" moves back into its regular time period at 8 p.m.

“CSI" shifts to 10 p.m. on Sundays, with its new spinoff “CSI: Cyber” set to take over the time slot in spring 2015.

The network has set midseason premieres for “Battle Creek,” from Vince Gilligan and David Shore, and “The Odd Couple.”

Please click here to see the full CBS 2014-15 prime-time schedule, along with the press release announcing the lineup and descriptions of all of the network's new programs.

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NBC News Hit With Lawsuits

NBC News has had two lawsuits filed against it, reports TVNewser.com. One of the suits was filed by a former freelance producer, with the other coming from a Michigan construction worker who was misidentified as a criminal during an episode of MSNBC’s “Caught on Camera,” the website reports.

Former “Dateline” producer Kimberly Lengle is suing NBC News for allegedly assigning her to "dangerous sexual role-play stories," including answering sex ads, the article reports, while the network allegedly didn’t assign any of her male colleagues to similar coverage.

“We took this freelancer’s allegations very seriously and determined that her claims were entirely without merit,” an NBC News spokesperson told the publication. “We will vigorously defend our position in this case.”

The other case involves a man named Keith Todd, who was reportedly identified as a criminal on “Caught on Camera,” although the police arrested a man named Todd Keith.

“After Keith Todd sent MSNBC a letter asking for a retraction, the network stopped airing reruns of that episode, and also pulled footage from its website. In his lawsuit, Todd cites public humiliation and loss of employment income as the results of MSNBC’s mistake,” the story notes.

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Big Story Happens to Baltimore TV Station, Which Isn't Able to Cover It

The “biggest story in Baltimore” on Tuesday took place inside a TV station in the city, which found itself unable to cover the story because it had been evacuated after a man rammed a truck through the lobby, CNN reports.

The station’s reporters were unable to get on air after they were evacuated at 11:45 a.m. because a man drove a truck through the lobby and declared that he was God. Police started a search of the building, with the unidentified man finally captured around 4:30 p.m.

“All the while, WMAR journalists could relay information only via Twitter and the station's website. By mid-afternoon, a makeshift newsroom had been set up about a mile north of the station -- but the reporters still had no way to broadcast,” the story notes.

While the station was evacuated, it broadcast taped shows such as “The People’s Court,” while its rivals covered the breaking news story, the piece adds.

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Gannett Makes $215 Million Station Acquisition

Gannett has agreed to purchase six TV stations in a $215 million acquisition. B&C reports that the acquisition involves six Texas stations owned by London Broadcasting.

"The stations are KCEN Waco-Temple-Bryan, KYTX Tyler-Longview, KIII Corpus Christi, KBMT and subchannel KJAC in Beaumont-Port Arthur, KXVA Abilene-Sweetwater and KIDY San Angelo," the article reports. "They are a mix of NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox affiliates."

Said Gracia Martore, president and CEO of Gannett: "The addition of these stations will expand Gannett's reach into some of the fastest-growing markets in the nation and furthers our successful transformation into a diversified multimedia company. With more than 70% of London Broadcasting's advertising revenues driven by local advertisers, this acquisition will provide us access to attractive new markets in which we believe our local digital marketing services group, G/O Digital, will thrive." 

The purchase, which requires regulatory approval, is expected to close in summer 2014.

"The London stations are expected to generate revenue of approximately $50 million in 2014, while the transaction is also expected to provide Gannett with what it called 'certain tax efficiencies' related to the sale of KMOV St. Louis," the report notes.

The piece says London Broadcasting Company Chief Operating Officer Phil Hurley will continue to oversee the stations, and will report to Gannett Broadcasting President Dave Lougee.

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Missing Person Report to Be Filed on Casey Kasem as One Theory Surfaces on His Whereabouts

Casey Kasem’s daughter Kerri Kasem is expected to file a missing person report today, Wednesday, for her father, as she alleges that her stepmother, Jean Kasem, recently moved her ailing father to an undisclosed location, reports Variety.

A judge has already ordered an investigation into the whereabouts of the "American Top 40" host, as we reported earlier this week.

Kasem is suffering from Lewy Body disease, the story notes, although other reports have said that he suffers from Parkinson’s. Kerri Kasem, who was awarded conservatorship of her father by a judge on Monday, reportedly said she last saw him May 6.

"The 82-year-old can no longer speak and has been embroiled in a battle among his family members. His daughter believes that the ‘American Top 40’ co-creator has been taken to an Indian reservation in Washington state,” the story reports.

A publicist for the family said that the courts, his family and Adult Protective Services are currently looking for Casey Kasem. 

“As soon as the paperwork for the conservatorship is done, Kerri Kasem will file a missing persons report, which should be done by tomorrow morning. Thereby allowing the FBI and local law enforcement to get involved. As soon as the family has any additional information, we will alert the media as soon as possible,” the publicist said.

Kasem, a popular DJ, also provided the voice for Shaggy on the TV cartoon “Scooby-Doo.”

casey kasem 2.pngCasey Kasem

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Report: Justin Bieber Accused of Attempted Robbery

The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating a claim that Justin Bieber committed an attempted robbery, reports TMZ.com.

A woman told TMZ that she was at the Sherman Oaks Castle Park, which includes miniature golf and a batting cage, when she saw Bieber and his entourage playing golf and hitting balls.

“The woman says Justin and his crew got into an altercation with some guys at the batting cage when J.B. noticed she was going for her cellphone to take pictures. She says Justin demanded to see her phone so he could erase any photos. She says she refused to fork over the phone so he then went into her purse and grabbed it,” TMZ reports.

The report adds: “The woman says she began wrestling with Bieber, trying to get her phone back. She says he ripped it out of her hands but couldn't accomplish his mission because the phone was locked.”

The woman reportedly said Bieber gave her the phone and demanded that she unlock it, which she did and showed him that she hadn’t taken photos of him, at which point Bieber allegedly started screaming at her and made her 13-year-old daughter cry.

The woman lodged a complaint with the LAPD.

sherman oaks castle park.jpgSherman Oaks Castle Park

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Hulu Hires Executive From Rival Netflix

Hulu has hired a top executive from one of the company's chief rivals in streaming video. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Hulu hired marketing executive Jenny Wall as senior vice president and head of marketing.

Wall will oversee brand strategy and acquisition and retention channels, the piece adds. At Netflix, she was head of its global creative team and led the “Watch Responsibly” brand campaign, as well as campaigns for original programs such as “House of Cards.”

“Jenny is a really passionate person -- her energy is infectious. And she is a risk taker," wrote CEO Mike Hopkins in a blog post. “Second, she is both strategic and creative -- a hybrid. Throughout her career, she’s been attracted to opportunities that enable her to creatively propel businesses toward the future.”

jenny wall.pngJenny Wall

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CNN's Anderson Cooper Sees His Numbers Rise With Donald Sterling Interview

Anderson Cooper’s CNN program “AC360” saw a ratings boost thanks to his interview with disgraced L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The show averaged 720,000 viewers Monday night, an increase of 42% from the four-week average. The improvement was even higher in the key news demo of viewers 25-54, with a 73% increase, the story says.

The article notes: “The interview was a big get for the cable news network, which has struggled in the ratings at times when there's not a big breaking story to cover, such as the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Coverage of the airliner mystery earlier this year significantly increased CNN's numbers.”

donald sterling-on cnn.pngDonald Sterling on CNN's "AC360"

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'L Word' Creator Tapped to Run Fox Series

“The L Word” creator Ilene Chaiken has been hired as the executive producer and showrunner of Fox’s drama series “Empire,” Deadline.com reports.

The show is described as a soapy family drama set in the world of hip-hop. The project was written by “The Butler” team of Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, with Daniels directing. Chaiken will executive produce with Strong, Daniels, Brian Grazer and Francie Calfo, the piece adds.

The drama stars Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson and Gabourey Sidibe.

ilene chaiken 2.pngIlene Chaiken

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Telemundo Unveils 800 Hours of Original Programming

Telemundo has lined up more than 800 hours of original programming across its platforms for its 2014-15 schedule, Deadline.com reports.

The new shows were revealed during Telemundo's upfront presentation at New York’s Frederick P. Rose Hall by Joe Uva, chairman of Telemundo’s parent, NBCUniversal’s Hispanic Enterprises and Content, the story notes. The new programming includes five new prime-time novelas and a new Sunday night musical competition series.

Uva also introduced new programming for mun2, the story adds. Next year, it will broadcast the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series and will also introduce original scripted series, the report notes.

“With our continued commitment to high-quality content and innovation, new leadership at the helm of the Telemundo network and mun2, and the power of NBCUniversal, no other media company is better positioned now and for the future to grow and super-serve our audience, our advertising partners and our distributors,” Uva said at the event.

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Showrunners Urge FCC to Keep the Internet Free

Top television writers and producers sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler on Tuesday urging him to “keep the Internet free and open,” reports the Los Angeles Times.

The letter was signed by more than 240 showrunners and creators, including Shonda Rhimes of “Grey’s Anatomy” and Chuck Lorre of “Two and a Half Men.”

“The open Internet is the greatest technological catalyst to participatory democracy and free speech since the printing press," the letter says. "That’s why totalitarian states around the world try to control it.”

The letter was drafted at a time when the FCC is proposing net neutrality rules, with critics concerned that the plan would create two tiers of service, providing preferential treatment for corporations, the story notes.

The letter adds: “If Net Neutrality is neutered, the Internet will become like cable television. A few corporate gatekeepers such as Comcast will be allowed to decide what content consumers can access and on what terms. The danger is that blocking, discrimination and paid prioritization could occur.”

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'American Idol' Alum Declared Winner of Primary Race for Congressional Seat

“American Idol” alum Clay Aiken was announced as the winner of a Democratic primary in North Carolina for a congressional seat, with the announcement coming a day after his main opponent was found dead, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Aiken, who won against Keith Crisco by 369 votes, will run against Republican incumbent Renee Elmers for the seat, the story notes. Crisco, 71, died after an accidental fall, after he had decided hours earlier to concede the close race, the story says.

Aiken declined to comment on the results, after his campaign had suspended activities after Aiken learned of Crisco’s death, the piece adds.

clay aiken.jpgClay Aiken

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Shocker: Director of the Academy Award-Winning Documentary 'Searching for Sugar Man' Found Dead. He Was 36

"Malik Bendjelloul, 36, the producer, writer, director and editor behind the Oscar-winning music documentary 'Searching for Sugar Man,' has died, [Swedish] police said," reports The Hollywood Reporter.

The story continues, "Police spokeswoman Pia Glenvik told the Associated Press that the Swedish filmmaker died in Stockholm late Tuesday, but wouldn't specify the cause of death. No foul play was suspected."

The article adds, "A big hit at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival that was quickly snapped up for mid-six figures by Sony Pictures Classics, 'Searching for Sugar Man' detailed the efforts in the late 1990s of two fans of American singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez in Cape Town, South Africa, as they tried to get to the bottom of the musician's rumored death.

"Rodriguez's soulful music from the early 1970s had gone unnoticed in the U.S., but bootlegged copies of his two albums had become enormously popular in South Africa."

After hearing about Rodriguez's story while he was travelling in South Africa, Bendjelloul told THR in a 2013 interview, " 'I was like, "This is a really good story, actually. It's not just a random story." I retold the story to friends, and they were like, "This is the best story we've ever heard. It's like a fairy tale."' The project -- first envisioned as a seven-minute piece for Swedish TV -- took four years, beginning in 2008, to become a feature."

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Malik Bendjelloul

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Jimmy Kimmel Skewers the Upfronts Again in Today's Must-Laugh Item of the Day

In the parlance of stand-up comics, Jimmy Kimmel was on fire at ABC's upfront presentation yesterday afternoon, Tuesday, May 13, 2014, as he did his annual skewering of the broadcast network upfront presentations.

TVWeek was there, and here are some of his best lines, in no particular order:

NBC is very pleased with themselves, aren’t they? They should be. Who would have ever guessed that the Olympics would rate? The fact of the matter is C-Span could have been No. 1 with the Olympics. The video screens above the pumps at the gas stations would have been No. 1 if they had the Olympics on them. And yet there was [NBC Entertainment chief] Bob Greenblatt yesterday on the stage rubbing his nipples the whole time.

Now NBC is on top. What do you do when you are on top? You double down and you hit them with Peter mother f---ing Pan. And then 'The Music Man.' Is Bob running a network or a musical theater camp?

But they are spending money. Mark Burnett is producing an elaborate new miniseries called 'AD,' which he described as 'Game of Thrones' meets 'The Borgias' meets 'The Bible.' Now I read the pitch for this show. It sounds more to me like total meets cluster meets f---.

I was on 'The View' this morning. Either I was on 'The View' or I had a very vivid dream that all my aunts were mad at me. Anyway, I was there to say goodbye to Barbara Walters, who is stepping down this week -- very carefully -- and I thought this was interesting. She’s leaving because she wants to spend more time fighting her friends in real life.

Being a president of a television network is hard, there’s no question about that. But somehow [ABC Entertainment chief] Paul Lee makes it look even harder. You heard Paul say it, we’re No. 1. We’re No. 1? Look, I don’t know what this No. 1 brand bullshit is, I don’t know what kind of 17-mile-long … collider they spun that one in, but the ABC I work at is not No. 1. In fact, we might need to crash on your couch for a while.

Even Anne Sweeney [Disney Television co-chairman] was like, to hell with this, I’m outta here. By the way, if anyone is looking for a director with no experience who is used to a high seven-figure salary and always getting her way, make sure to accept Anne’s invitation to LinkedIn.

For the first time in a long time CBS did not have a good year. Just to give you a sense of how disastrously things went for CBS, they almost didn’t beat us this year.

This year I’m being completely serious when I say all of our new shows will be canceled. But it doesn’t matter. We need to relax, we need to stop worrying about who gets the best ratings and about who’s No. 1. As Vince Lombardi once said, winning isn’t everything. There was more, but that was the basic gist of it.

We are introducing a number of limited-run series this year. 'American Crime' is 11 episodes. 'Secret of Lies' will go 10 episodes, and most of our shows will probably go even shorter than that.

This fall Paul gave the creative community a mandate: Bring us your passion, we’ll take off the handcuffs -- which sounds like something you’d say to a hooker. I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t get attached to any of these shows because it’s like adopting a kitten with cancer. [Here the audience groans.] Oh too much? I’m sorry, then you will hate our new show 'Kittens with Cancer.'

I know Paul makes up a lot of words but [Fox Entertainment chief] Kevin Reilly said he’s making eventizing a priority this year. That’s actually how I popped the question to my wife. I said honey, I think it's time to eventize this relationship and then I pregnatized her. And by the way my wife is pregnant and this seems like a good time to mention that for the first time ever as part of an ultra premium integration package, ABC is offering your client naming rights to my baby. For a $25 million media spend, my newborn will be named after your product. Can you imagine the pride we will both feel as we introduce Crest White Strips Kimmel? It’s a concept I call cervical integration. Look at what happened to Apple after they made that deal with Gwyneth Paltrow.


 

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NBC Racks Up Monday Win Even as 'The Voice' Remains at Low Ratings Mark; How Did Fox's New '24' Hold Up in Week Two?

NBC came out ahead of its broadcast rivals in Monday prime time, even as its ratings leader "The Voice" remained at a series low, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo. Meanwhile, Fox's new "24" event series lost significant ground from its premiere a week ago.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "The Voice" matched last week's 3.0 average in viewers 18-49 -- a series low for a Monday installment of the show. Leading out from "The Voice," the season finale of "The Blacklist" slipped 4% from last week to a 2.6.

The combination was still easily enough to give NBC another Monday win in the demo, although ABC, on the strength of "Dancing with the Stars," was No. 1 in total viewers.

Fox's "24: Live Another Day" fell off 23% from last week's two-hour premiere, settling for a 2.0 average in 18-49, while "Bones" rose 7% from its most recent original to a 1.6.

ABC's "Dancing" improved 16% on last week's number in the 18-49 demo, registering a 2.2 along with 13.81 total viewers to lead all of broadcast prime in that category. The season finale of "Castle" rose 25% from the show's all-time low of a week ago to notch a 2.0 average.

CBS aired mostly repeats, and its two fresh programs had mixed results. "Friends With Better Lives" fell 6% from last week to an all-time low of 1.5 in viewers 18-49, while "Mike & Molly" surged 18% to a 2.0.

When the dust cleared, NBC had another Monday win for prime time overall with a 2.8 average in adults 18-49, topping ABC (2.1 average), Fox (1.8), CBS (1.3) and Univision (1.1). ABC won total viewers with 12.7 million, ahead of NBC (10.8 million), Fox (6.3 million), CBS (5.2 million) and Univision (2.6 million).

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'Carnival of Stupidity': Alec Baldwin Accused of Disorderly Conduct in Bicycling Incident ... and Then Goes on a Twitter Rant

Actor Alec Baldwin had a confrontation with authorities today in New York after he was stopped for allegedly riding his bicycle in the wrong direction, TheWrap.com reports.

"The '30 Rock' star was taken to a Manhattan police station Tuesday morning to receive one summons for riding in the wrong direction and one for disorderly conduct, New York City Police Officer Arlene Muniz told TheWrap," the article reports.

Muniz is quoted as saying: “He was being belligerent and cursing. He was fighting with the officers.”

The report adds: "Baldwin was stopped on Fifth Avenue and 16th Street for riding his bike in the wrong direction, Muniz said. He was carrying a credit card but not a picture ID, so he was taken to the station to be officially identified."

Baldwin later took to Twitter, apparently to provide his comments on the incident. The actor said in a series of tweets: "Officer Moreno, badge number 23388, arrested me and handcuffed me for going the wrong way on Fifth Ave ... Meanwhile, photographers outside my home ONCE AGAIN terrified my daughter and nearly hit her with a camera. The police did nothing."

He followed with this one: "New York City is a mismanaged carnival of stupidity that is desperate for revenue and anxious to criminalize behavior once thought benign."

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One of the Most Famous Artists of the Past Half-Century Is Dead at 74

A surrealist painter, sculptor and set designer who made a mark on the entertainment industry and became one of the most famous artists of the past 50 years has died. CNN reports that H.R. Giger died Monday at 74.

Giger may have been best known for designing the alien, along with a number of sets, for the 1979 sci-fi classic "Alien." He also was known for his album covers, including the 1973 Emerson, Lake & Palmer album "Brain Salad Surgery."

In addition to the "Alien" movies, the Swiss-born Giger worked on "Dune," "Poltergeist II: The Other Side" and "Prometheus," among many other films. He submitted a radically different design for the Batmobile for "Batman Forever," but the design was passed over.

"Giger's art -- often featuring skeletal, tentacled, protomechanical (Giger called them 'biomechanical') figures rendered in shades of blue-gray and brown -- was a mainstay of dorm-room bookshelves and science-fiction hallucinations," CNN reports.

His longtime friend and manager Leslie Barany confirmed Giger's death, saying in a statement: "We are absolutely heartbroken over the loss of this loving husband, selfless friend and supremely talented artist.

"He truly was one of a kind, committed to his craft, to his friends and to his family. His warm personality, incredible generosity and sharp sense of humor were in stark contrast with the universe he depicted in his art."

ELP-Brain Salad Surgery.jpg"Brain Salad Surgery"
(Emerson, Lake & Palmer, 1973)

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'Homeland' Actress Joins HBO Comedy Series

An actress known for her work on the Showtime drama "Homeland" has joined an HBO comedy series. Deadline.com's Nellie Andreeva reports that Marin Ireland, who played Aileen Morgan on "Homeland," is taking on a recurring role on the fourth season of "Girls."

Andreeva writes: "I hear she will play the rich, sexual, beautiful but cold Logan, a classmate of Hannah’s (Lena Dunham) at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop."

Ireland, who is also known for "Side Effects," "I Am Legend" and "Revolutionary Road," joins Desiree Akhavan and Peter Mark Kendall, who will have recurring roles as participants in the writing program.

Andreeva adds: "Ireland, repped by ICM Partners and Brookside Artist Management, is the female lead of WE TV’s first scripted drama 'The Divide' from Richard Lagravanese and Tony Goldwyn, which premieres in July."

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Actor Known for 'Tremors' and Phenomenon' -- Who Also Appeared on TV Shows Including 'CSI' and 'The Shield' -- Dead at 72

A veteran actor who racked up a series of feature film and television credits over the course of five decades has died. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Tony Genaro, known for "Tremors," "The Milagro Beanfield War," "Phenomenon" and many other movies, died May 7 of natural causes at his home in Hollywood. He was 72.

"A native of Gallup, N.M., Genaro’s first big break came with a role as store owner Nick Rael in Robert Redford’s American Southwest-set 'The Milagro Beanfield War' (1988)," the story reports.

The report adds: "In the supernatural teen film 'The Craft' (1996), Genaro played the bus driver who drops off the four girls (Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell and Rachel True) outside Los Angeles and warns them to 'watch out for those weirdos.'

“'We are the weirdos, mister,' replies Balk’s character, Nancy."

Genaro's appearances on TV included "The Shield," "CSI," "CSI: Miami," "Will & Grace" and "Nash Bridges," among other series.

His other film performances included "La Bamba," "The Mask of Zorro," "Anger Management" and Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center."

tony genaro.jpgTony Genaro

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ABC Revamps Prime Time, Takes Wraps Off 2014-15 Schedule Featuring 12 New Shows

ABC today rolled out a prime-time schedule for the 2014-15 season that leans heavily on new series, with “American Crime,” “Black-ish,” “Cristela,” “Forever,” “Fresh Off the Boat,” “Galavant,” “How to Get Away with Murder,” “Manhattan Love Story,” “Marvel’s Agent Carter,” “Secrets and Lies,” “Selfie” and “The Whispers” all being added to the broadcast network's prime-time lineup.

The schedule also features returning shows “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” “The Bachelor,” “Castle,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “The Goldbergs,” “The Great Christmas Light Fight,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Last Man Standing,” “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “The Middle,” “Modern Family,” “Nashville,” “Once Upon a Time,” “Resurrection,” “Revenge,” “Scandal,” “Shark Tank,” “The Taste” and “20/20.”

Please click here to see the full schedule and read details about all of ABC's prime-time programs in today's announcement from the network.

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How Many Minutes of Commercials Are Shown in an Average TV Hour? The Number Has Been Steadily Climbing

The number of commercials shown in a typical hour of television has increased steadily over the past five years, the Los Angeles Times’ Company Town reports, citing a study from Nielsen.

Broadcast networks averaged 13 minutes and 25 seconds of commercial time per hour in 2009, which grew to 14 minutes and 15 seconds in 2013, the story reports.

On cable TV, the growth has been even more significant, the report notes. Last year, the average was 15 minutes and 38 seconds, up from 14 minutes and 27 seconds in 2009, according to the report.

And more commercials are being jammed into that growing ad hole, with the number of 30-second spots decreasing while the number of 15-second ads rises.

"In 2009, 30-second spots accounted for 62% of all ads on television; 15-second spots were just 35%. In 2013, the percentage of 30-second ads fell to 53% and 15-second spots increased to 44%," the story reports. "The increased number of commercials has translated to more money flowing into television. According to Nielsen, advertisers spent $78 billion on TV commercials in 2013, compared to $64 billion in 2009."

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Fox News Shuffles Its Lineup as Anchor Takes Time Off

Fox News is shuffling its on-air lineup as one of the cable network's anchors takes some time off. TVNewser.com reports that longtime weekend co-anchor Gregg Jarrett is taking time off for “personal reasons,” which will prompt some changes to the network’s weekend programming.

The story reports that the changes will include "Harris Faulkner signing off the Saturday edition of ‘Fox Report,’ while continuing to host Sunday’s show at 7 p.m. ET. Faulkner will move to a six-day workweek, serving as a co-host on the new show ‘Outnumbered’ Monday-Friday at noon ET.”

On “Fox Report” Saturday, she will be replaced by rotating anchors, including John Roberts, the story adds. The Saturday 1 p.m. slot will also have rotating anchors.

gregg jarrett.pngGregg Jarrett

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NBCUniversal Names New President of Telemundo

NBCUniversal has announced the appointment of a veteran television executive as the new president of the Telemundo Network. Luis Silberwasser will begin in the role in August, the company said.

Silberwasser will be based in Miami and will report to Joe Uva, chairman of Hispanic Enterprises and Content for NBCUniversal.

In a statement, Uva said: “Luis is a world-class operating executive with exceptional management, content and leadership experience. His deep understanding of the U.S. Hispanic and Latin American markets, coupled with his strong track record in successfully building global brands and developing and producing high quality content make him the ideal leader to fulfill the growth potential of Telemundo Network.”

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

luis silberwasser.pngLuis Silberwasser

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Political Opponent of 'Idol' Star Clay Aiken Dies

Keith Crisco, 71, the political opponent of “American Idol” star Clay Aiken in a close Democratic primary race in North Carolina, died Monday after sustaining injuries from a fall at his home, The Hollywood Reporter’s Idol Worship reports.

Crisco and Aiken were in a close race for the Democratic nomination in the 2nd Congressional District when Crisco died, following last Tuesday’s election. The race was considered too close to call, although Aiken was leading by a few hundred votes. The candidates were awaiting word on how to proceed at the time of Crisco’s death, the story adds.

In a statement provided to THR, Aiken said: “I am stunned and deeply saddened by Keith Crisco’s death. Keith came from humble beginnings. No matter how high he rose -- to Harvard, to the White House and to the Governor’s Cabinet -- he never forgot where he came from."

Aiken said he is suspending his campaign activities “as we pray for his family and friends.”

A spokesman for the Asheboro City Council said Crisco had been in “really great health” and had no further details.

keith crisco.pngKeith Crisco

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Fox's Former Crown Jewel Gets Glossed Over at Network's Upfront Presentation

At the Fox upfront presentation Monday, shows such as “Sleepy Hollow” and “New Girl” were boasted about, but one high-profile returning show -- “American Idol” -- was glossed over, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker.

Ryan Seacrest made a “perfunctory appearance in a clip” during the 75-minute presentation, the piece notes.

“Once the crown jewel of Fox's lineup and the highest-rated show in all of television, drawing as many as 30 million viewers a week, the aging singing competition has fallen on hard times in recent seasons. The average viewer of the show continues to age upward -- a no-no for the young-skewing Fox -- while its overall audience has declined precipitously, reaching a low of just 7 million viewers for an episode last week,” the story reports.

The network's 2014-15 schedule has scaled back the show’s presence, with just 37 hours of programming in the season. That’s down from more than 50 hours of programming. Meanwhile, the competition series “The X Factor” is completely gone from next season’s schedule.

On a conference call, entertainment chief Kevin Reilly acknowledged that “Idol” “is not going to come back as the ratings champion it once was.”

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Judge Orders Investigation Into Whereabouts of Well-Known Broadcast Personality

A familiar entertainer is the subject of an investigation into his whereabouts. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a judge has ordered an investigation into the location of Casey Kasem after an attorney for Kasem said he had been removed from the country.

Kasem, 82, is best known for his work in radio -- including the countdown show "American Top 40" -- and for providing the voice of Shaggy in "Scooby-Doo" cartoons. He has been suffering from advanced Parkinson’s disease and can no longer speak, and his children have complained that they have been unable to see their dad and have been in conflict with their stepmother, Jean Kasem.

Reports surfaced back in October painting a grim picture of Casey Kasem's condition, as we reported at the time.

“Daughter Kerri Kasem had sought a temporary conservatorship and was appointed her father's temporary caretaker on Monday. Her attorney, Troy Martin, said the family believes the entertainer has been taken to an Indian reservation in Washington state,” the story notes.

An attorney for Jean Kasem said at Monday’s hearing that he didn’t know where the entertainer was, but that he has been moved from the country, which brought “stunned protests from [Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Daniel S.] Murphy and two of Casey Kasem’s daughters,” the story notes.

Casey-Kasem.jpg

Casey Kasem

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Weather Channel Apologizes After Twitter Clash With Disgruntled Customer

The Weather Channel has apologized for sending what it calls an “inappropriate” tweet to a viewer, reports TheWrap.com.

Joel Burns, a city council member in Fort Worth, Texas, had complained that the network’s app was showing the incorrect city in its weather updates, the story says. Burns tweeted, “Dear @weatherchannel I SWEAR I'm deleting your aggravating app if you don't STOP SHOWING DALLAS pics for Fort Worth.”

After not hearing anything, Burns deleted the app and tweeted about it. The network then tweeted back, “Sorry to see you go. Good luck on ending bullying.” That was a reference to an anti-bullying speech that Burns made a few years ago, the story says.

That sparked outcries from other users, with one describing The Weather Channel’s response as “How not to respond to someone who provides feedback.”

The network then apologized. “We apologize for our reply this morning. Our response was inappropriate & we're taking steps to ensure it doesn't happen again,” the network said.

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Disney's Hit Movie 'Frozen' Establishes a Foothold on the Small Screen (Here's the Video)

Disney’s hit movie “Frozen” has been a big seller both at the box office and with its soundtrack, and now it’s entering the television realm. Variety reports that the move began over the weekend with the introduction of the character Elsa to the ABC drama “Once Upon a Time."

Sunday’s two-hour season finale of the series revealed that Elsa was brought back to Storybrooke by Emma Swan, although the character was only shown from behind, the story notes.

Creator Adam Horowitz told TVLine that the show's producers fell “in love with the movie,” adding that he and co-creator Eddy Kitsis had thought about how to add a “Frozen” storyline since seeing it.

“We pitched the studio and the network and they were kind enough to say, ‘Go do it,’” Horowitz said.

Kitsis added, “What’s funny is that people think Disney called us up and was like, ‘You need to do "Frozen,"’and it’s really actually quite hard to get these characters. It’s not like they call you up and say, ‘We’d like you to do this.’ It’s actually quite the opposite. You have to work at it and have a vision and the spirit.”

Here's a clip posted by ABC:

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Video: Smokey Bear, Turning 70, Gets a Makeover

Smokey Bear, the longtime spokes-bear for preventing forest fires, is getting a makeover in time for his 70th birthday, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Company Town.

“Handlers of the iconic animal have decided he needed a younger and fresher look. They want him to fit in with the millennial generation of teenagers and young adults,” the story reports.

The bear now has a Facebook page, and Twitter and Instagram accounts, as well as a new campaign that features Smokey being horrified when his friends present him with a birthday cake covered with burning candles.

“That would be Smokey's worst nightmare," Eric Springer, chief creative officer of FCB West in Venice, told the publication.

About 6.7 million acres of forest are burned annually in forest fires, which is far less than when Smokey’s campaign started in the 1940s.

"It's an incredible story," Peggy Conlon, chief executive of the Ad Council, said. The Ad Council oversees the campaign. "FCB has been nurturing this icon for 70 years, and Smokey Bear continues to be relevant to people's lives."

Here's one of the new spots:

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New Showtime Horror Series Opens to Strong Ratings

Showtime rolled out its new horror series over the weekend and the show delivered strong ratings for the pay-cable channel. Variety reports that “Penny Dreadful” averaged 872,000 viewers for its first airing Sunday and 1.443 million for the evening.

That was more than the network’s recent debuts for “Masters of Sex” and “Homeland,” the piece notes. “Penny Dreadful” has received positive reviews.

“An additional 900,000 subscribers sampled the series in the two weeks leading up to its premiere Sunday on Showtime on Demand and Showtime Anytime, according to Nielsen. This brings the total for ‘Penny’ to 2.3 million viewers,” the story adds.

Almost two-thirds of the audience for “Penny Dreadful” was under 50 years old, which makes it the youngest-skewing audience for a Showtime drama since “Dexter” debuted in 2006, the story says.

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Video: Jay-Z Attacked by Beyonce's Sister

Jay-Z was attacked by Beyonce’s sister Solange in an elevator at last week’s Met Gala after-party at the Standard Hotel in New York City, with surveillance video catching the attack, reports TMZ.com.

“In the video ... Jay Z, Beyonce and Solange step into the elevator ... and then Solange goes crazy, screaming at Jay before unleashing a violent attack,” the story notes.

A man who appears to be a bodyguard tries to hold back Solange, but she “manages to connect at least 3 times,” the story notes. “At one point Solange throws a kick and Jay grabs her foot, but never attempts to strike her. Beyonce stands by without getting physically involved."

The report adds that as they left the elevator, Solange appeared upset, while she went into a car with her sister and Jay-Z entered a separate car. It’s not clear what caused the fight.

After the fight, Beyonce and Jay-Z appeared at a Brooklyn Nets game, with both smiling, People reports. Their reps have not commented on what happened.

Here's the video posted by TMZ:

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'30 Rock' Actress Joins Tina Fey's New NBC Comedy Series

One of the stars of NBC's “30 Rock” is joining the cast of the network's new Tina Fey comedy series. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that actress Jane Krakowski will be a part of Fey's new NBC show “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt."

Fey and fellow “30 Rock” executive producer Robert Carlock are behind the project, which stars Ellie Kemper ("The Office") as Kimmy, who decides to leave a cult after 15 years and head to New York City. Krakowski will play the wealthy Upper West Side mom who hires the character as a nanny.

“I hear the casting came together very quickly after Fox last Wednesday opted not to proceed with Krakowski’s comedy pilot ‘Dead Boss,’” Andreeva notes.

Krakowski's character was previously played by Megan Dodds, although the scene was reshot with Krakowski, the piece adds.

jane krakowski.jpgJane Krakowski

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How Cool: Details About General Motors' Upcoming 4G Wi-Fi Hot Spots for Its Cars. It'll Mean Your Car Will Be a Wi-Fi Hot Spot for Up to Seven Devices

"OnStar ushers in a new generation of connected vehicles next month with in-vehicle 4G LTE, which launches with a trial period of three months or three gigabytes, whichever comes first," General Motors said in an announcement yesterday, April 12, 2014.

The announcement adds: "The 2015 Chevrolet Malibu will be the first 4G LTE-equipped GM vehicle, followed by more than 30 other Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles by the end of the year."

Some more details: "The industry’s broadest deployment of 4G LTE connectivity technology will enable owners of these vehicles to explore new features like a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot capable of pairing up to seven devices. ...

"OnStar with 4G LTE brings a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot into and around the vehicle. Pairable devices can include properly equipped laptop computers, smartphones, video game consoles or tablets. According to Strategy Analytics, 74 percent of tablets sold this year will be Wi-Fi only and as many as 91 percent in North America will be used with Wi-Fi as their only connection, meaning some cellular-enabled tablets do not have an active data plan. In most cases, OnStar’s 4G LTE and Wi-Fi hardware come as standard equipment."

As for cost, according to the GM announcement:

Drivers who subscribe to OnStar Safe & Sound or Directions & Connections plans already get a comprehensive suite of safety and security services, and later this year, for $5 more per month, they will be able to get 200 megabytes of data, enough to stream more than 6.5 hours of music, surf the internet for 13 hours or send more than 10,000 emails without attachments, according to AT&T’s data usage calculator.

When data plans are launched later this year, pricing for OnStar customers not subscribed to advisor-based services will start at $10 per month. Additional U.S. pricing is charted below. Pricing for Canadian and fleet customers will be announced separately.

Data/Month

200 MB

1 GB

3 GB

5 GB

OnStar Subscriber

$5

$15

$30

$50

Non-Subscriber

$10

$20

$30

$50

One-time purchase packages are also planned in two sizes, and will be valid for the durations noted below. One-time packages are available as follows:

Data/Duration

250 MB/1 Day

10 GB/12 Months

OnStar Subscriber

$5

$150

Non-Subscriber

$5

$200

For existing AT&T customers, a 4G LTE-equipped GM vehicle can be added to a Mobile Share Plan for $10 per month.

You can read the entire GM announcement if you click here.

According to Automotive News, " Audi [also] recently introduced [a 4G service] on its A3."

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AT&T Deal to Buy DirecTV Reportedly Heating Up, Has Moved to 'Advanced' Stage. Pricetag Still Under Discussion -- 'About $50 Billion' Is Where Talks Are Now

"AT&T Inc., joining the ranks of U.S. TV, Internet and wireless providers racing to consolidate, is in advanced talks to acquire DirecTV for about $50 billion, according to people familiar with the matter," report Alex Sherman and Jeffrey McCracken for Bloomberg.

The story adds: "Under the plan being discussed, management of DirecTV, the largest U.S. satellite-TV provider, will continue to run the company as a unit of AT&T, said the people, asking not to be named because the information is private. DirecTV Chief Executive Officer Mike White plans to retire after 2015, the people said.

"The purchase would give AT&T a national satellite-TV provider to combine with its wireless, phone and high-speed broadband Internet services as competition ramps up. The pool of pay-TV customers is peaking in the U.S. because viewers are increasingly watching video online, and the combination would keep DirecTV from being on its own with just a TV offering and no competitive Internet package."

As we previously reported on May 1, 2014, quoting The Wall Street Journal: "DirecTV is the second-biggest pay TV operator, serving about 20 million customers, while AT&T's landline-based TV business serves about 5.7 million. The nearly 26 million subscribers served by the combined company would compare with Comcast, which -- with TWC -- would serve close to 30 million subscribers."

The acquisition of Time Warner Cable by Comcast, as previously reported, would cost Comcast about $45 billion in a proposed all-stock deal.

Today, May 13, 2014, the Bloomberg story notes: "The deal is more than a week away from being completed, said another person familiar with the matter, who added the sides were still in talks on a price, which could come in close to $95 a share, depending on how much cash or stock is in the transaction. The person said White’s departure was also still being negotiated. The price could go as high as $100 a share, two other people said."

Bloomberg said that neither DIrecTV nor AT&T would comment on its story.

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NBC Celebrates a Milestone It Hasn't Achieved Since 'Friends'

NBC took the opportunity of its upfront presentation today in New York to celebrate a milestone it hasn't achieved since the end of "Friends" a decade ago: winning the season in the key advertiser-friendly demo of viewers 18-49.

The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that NBC, which is poised to finish the season at No. 1 in the key demo, "ran a triumphant victory lap" at its annual upfront.

"The network boasted of triumphs including freshman hit 'The Blacklist,' 'The Sound of Music Live!,' the Sochi Winter Olympics and Jimmy Fallon's successful takeover of 'The Tonight Show,' and attempted to build enthusiasm for a 2014-15 season that's heavy on romantic sitcoms and spy dramas," the Times reports. "Courtesy of Seth Meyers, the new host of 'Late Night,' there were a few self-deprecating jokes about the network's less successful efforts this season, like the Blair Underwood remake of 'Ironside,' but otherwise NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt focused on the positive."

Greenblatt noted that NBC grew 21% in total viewers to climb into second place behind perennial leader CBS. "Ratings are up on five nights out of seven, with Thursday and Sunday the remaining weak spots. In terms of viewers under 50, NBC is tops this season, up 18% versus last year," the Times report notes.

The James Spader drama "The Blacklist" is TV's top-rated new series of the season, and will be shifted at midseason in 2014-15 to Thursday night as NBC looks to reclaim its former Thursday night dominance.

"Also pivotal was the smooth handover of 'The Tonight Show' from Jay Leno to Jimmy Fallon," the report adds. "As Greenblatt put it, 'Jimmy is killing it' in his new time slot, with ratings in the demo up 82% after 12 weeks. According to NBC, Fallon also continues to beat combined averages of 'Late Show with David Letterman' and 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' with viewers under 50."

The article reports: "Looking ahead at the new season, Greenblatt noted that NBC's lineup would remain relatively stable in the fall, with 'The Blacklist' in its current time slot at 10 p.m. and the debut of 'noisy and sophisticated' shows, including relationship comedies 'Marry Me' and 'A to Z,' the lightly comedic Debra Messing police procedural 'The Mysteries of Laura,' comic book adaptation 'Constantine' and the Kate Walsh comedy 'Bad Judge.'"

When "The Blacklist" vacates its coveted post-"Voice" time slot, that spot will go to the Katherine Heigl drama series "State of Affairs," the piece notes.

the-blacklist.jpg

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Letterman Reconsidering Retirement? No, But He Jokes About It on 'The View': 'Any Openings Here?'

David Letterman got serious about his retirement -- after a few jokes -- during a rare talk show appearance today on "The View," The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

"Now I think I've made a terrible mistake," the veteran late-night host said during his appearance on the daytime show. "I don't feel like retiring now. I gotta find something to do. Any openings here?"

But Letterman then got serious and said it was time for him to exit CBS's "Late Show," the report notes. Letterman made the point that the late-night terrain has been changing.

Said Letterman: "Again, this is a reason for me to think about going elsewhere. If you take a look at it, it really has shifted right out from under me, and all to the good. I think the people that are doing these shows now -- of course you have your Jimmys and you have your Stephen Colbert, who's following myself. And then you have the junior varsity that goes on after these guys whose names I can never remember, but they're great. It's not a TV show anymore; it's like a marketplace where people can all connect and interact. And I think that's fantastic and that's really keeping up with all the new communication and the electronic media."

Letterman, who rarely does talk shows as a guest, was part of the final week of shows for "The View" veteran Barbara Walters. Today's show also had Jane Fonda on board as a guest co-host.

The report adds: "When asked about those, like Bill O'Reilly, who had voiced doubts about his successor, Stephen Colbert, Letterman said he wasn't aware that people had raised questions about Colbert hosting 'The Late Show.' But he said anyone could do his job."

Said Letterman: "Take a good look at me: I've done this show for 30 years. If I can do it, I'm pretty sure Stephen Colbert can do it."

david-letterman.jpgDavid Letterman

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Drama Finale Wins Sunday Night in Broadcast Prime; NBC Miniseries Bows to Soft Numbers

The season finale of a drama series, expanded to two hours, was the top show on the broadcast nets in Sunday prime for ABC, while an NBC miniseries opened to mediocre viewership, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the expanded installment of "Once Upon a Time" helped lift ABC to a comfortable win over its broadcast competition on a Sunday night when the broadcast networks in general endured soft viewer numbers.

The "Once Upon a Time" finale delivered a 2.2 average in viewers 18-49 from 8-10 p.m., improving 5% on last week's number for the series. Also on ABC, the season finale of "Revenge" surged 15% to a 1.5 and "America's Funniest Home Videos" ticked down 6% to a 1.5.

CBS and Fox tied for second overall, well off the pace set by ABC in the 18-49 demo. CBS was led by "The Amazing Race" with a 1.7, equaling last week's demo number. CBS's "The Mentalist" matched last week's series low with a 1.2 average, while "60 Minutes" rose 10% to a 1.1 and "The Good Wife" climbed 9% to a 1.2.

Fox's strongest show was "Family Guy" with a 2.1 average in 18-49, off 5% from a week ago. The rest of the Fox lineup was also down: "Bob's Burgers" dipped 18% to a 0.9 average, "American Dad" was off 15% with a 1.1, "The Simpsons" lost 20% to deliver a 1.6 and "Cosmos" plummeted 25% to a 1.2.

NBC debuted its miniseries "Rosemary's Baby" with a two-hour premiere from 9-11 p.m., claiming a 1.1 average in 18-49 that improved 10% on the time slot average from a week ago, when the network aired "Crisis" and "Believe." A two-hour "Dateline" opened NBC's prime-time slate, falling 27% from last week to settle for a 0.8.

The report notes that NBC carried overrun from The Players Championship golf tournament to start prime time, meaning the network's numbers will be subject to more than the usual adjustments.

For prime time overall, ABC led all broadcast nets Sunday night with a 1.8 average in viewers 18-49, followed by Fox and CBS (both with 1.3 averages), NBC (0.9) and Univision (0.7). CBS came out with a comfortable lead in total viewers, averaging 8.3 million to top ABC (5.9 million), NBC (3.7 million), Fox (3.2 million) and Univision (2.0 million).

rosemary's baby-nbc.jpg

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Oscars Producers Reportedly on Board for the Next Live NBC Musical -- a Broadway Staple From 1957

NBC has signed a deal to present a live TV production of a classic musical, with Oscars producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron reportedly set to produce, according to Broadway World.

NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt announced this morning at the network's upfront presentation in New York that the network will tackle the 1957 musical "The Music Man."

"While the exec did not give a specific date for the live broadcast, he did confirm that it will follow the network's previously announced live broadcast of 'Peter Pan,' set for December 4th," the story reports. "Last year, NBC aired its first live musical event, 'The Sound of Music,' starring Carrie Underwood."

Zadan and Meron were also behind NBC's "Sound of Music," and produced a 2003 TV adaptation of "The Music Man" that starred Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth, the report notes. They're also on board for NBC's "Peter Pan," not to mention more of ABC's Academy Awards.

Broadway World adds: "With book, music, and lyrics by Meredith Willson, 'The Music Man' is based on a story by Willson and Franklin Lacey. The plot concerns con man Harold Hill, who poses as a boys' band organizer and leader and sells band instruments and uniforms to the naive Iowa townsfolk, promising to train the members of the new band. But Harold is no musician and plans to skip town without giving any music lessons. Prim librarian and piano teacher Marian sees through him, but when Harold helps her younger brother overcome his lisp and social awkwardness, Marian begins to fall in love. Harold risks being caught to win her."

The 1957 Broadway version reportedly won five Tony Awards, including best musical, and ran for 1,375 performances. A popular film adaptation was released in 1962, starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones.

music man-1962.jpg"The Music Man" (1962)

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Why So Few Recastings This Season -- and Which Broadcast Comedy Is the Latest Exception to the Rule?

In a departure from the recent trend, hardly any pilots have had to recast major characters this season, notes Nellie Andreeva, writing on Deadline.com. But an NBC sitcom is the latest exception to that rule.

"One recasting that is going forward is on NBC‘s midseason comedy series 'Mission Control,'" Andreeva writes. "A workplace ensemble set in 1962, 'Mission Control,' from Universal TV and producer Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, examines what happens when a strong woman (Krysten Ritter) butts heads with a macho astronaut in the race to land on the moon. The project is recasting the role of Bus, a handsome, jockish, stubborn and loudly likable NASA astronaut. It was played in the pilot by Michael Rosenbaum."

So why have there been so few recastings lately? "I hear the studios implemented pre-table reads and introduced other procedural tweaks that greatly reduced the number of cast changes," Andreeva writes. "That also applies to the newly picked up series."

krysten-ritter.pngKrysten Ritter

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CBS Cancels Three Comedy Series and One Drama

CBS has given up on a number of its series. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that the network has pulled the plug on four shows, including yanking the comedy “The Crazy Ones” after one season.

The show marked a short return to TV for star Robin Williams, the report notes. Three decades ago, Williams gained legions of fans through “Mork & Mindy,” a television show on which he played the wacky alien Mork. With “The Crazy Ones,” he returned to TV after focusing on films such as “Good Morning Vietnam,” the story notes.

The CBS comedy, which also stars Sarah Michelle Gellar, struggled with ratings and received mixed reviews, the piece adds.

The network also canceled the comedies “Bad Teacher" and “Friends With Better Lives,” and canceled the drama “Hostages.”

The network renewed “The Mentalist,” which had been on the bubble, for a seventh season.

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TV Actress and Producer Dead at 79

A veteran television actress who went on to a career as a producer and director has died. The Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that Nancy Malone, known for a long string of guest roles on shows including “Dr. Kildare” and “The Partridge Family,” died Thursday at 79 of pneumonia stemming from complications related to leukemia.

Malone's work as a producer earned her an Emmy in 1993 for the special “Bob Hope: The First 90 Years." Her directing credits included episodes of “Judging Amy,” Dawson’s Creek” and “Star Trek: Voyager.” She also helped start the Women in Film networking group, the piece adds.

As an actress, Malone was a regular on "Naked City" from 1960-1963, earning an Emmy nomination for best supporting actress in 1963.

Her long list of guest appearances also includes "The Twilight Zone," "The Outer Limits," "77 Sunset Strip," "The Fugitive," "Bonanza" and the original "Hawaii Five-0."

nancy malone.jpgNancy Malone

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Ann Curry Rescued by Boy Scouts After Hiking Mishap

NBC journalist Ann Curry was rescued by a troop of Boy Scouts after suffering a mishap while she was hiking. Citing Scouting Magazine, TVNewser reports that Curry broke her ankle in the incident.

According to the account posted by Scouting Magazine, a troop from Berkeley Heights, N.J., was on a training hike through Harriman State Park on April 5, when they came across Curry. “Only they didn’t know it was the Emmy-winning journalist right away,” the account notes.

A Scout leader told the publication, “We were hiking along, and we came to a trail intersection, and a lady was sitting on the ground with her one leg out. We didn’t think anything of it, but one of the guys asked if everything is OK. She said, ‘No, not really. I think I broke my ankle.’ She told us to keep going, but the guys refused.”

The Scouts splinted her leg, and the leader, an EMT, checked their work. “We work on these requirements, and here’s an opportunity where it was a true test of all those First Class, Second Class first-aid requirements,” the leader said.

Curry wrote in a letter to the Scouts that they went “above the call of duty.” She added, “Discovering I was unable to walk, and needed to get down the mountain for medical care, you immediately set about to help.”

ann-curry2.jpgAnn Curry

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Comedy Central Finds Its Replacement for Stephen Colbert

Comedy Central has named the successor to Stephen Colbert in the cable channel's 11:30 p.m. time slot. Variety reports that "Daily Show" correspondent Larry Wilmore will move into the spot.

The network is readying a new show called “The Minority Report with Larry Wilmore” for the 11:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday time slot, replacing "The Colbert Report," the story reports.

The new show will debut in January and is created by Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show,” with both Stewart and Wilmore signed on as executive producers. Wilmore, who serves as “the senior black correspondent” on “The Daily Show,” will break up “the white-male homogeneity to most of late-night TV,” the story adds.

In an interview with The New York Times’ Bill Carter, Wilmore said he thought his chance of getting his own late-night show was long gone. He had produced a pilot for Showtime in 2012 but it wasn’t picked up.

“I wasn’t sure where I fit into the landscape,” Wilmore, 52, said. “I’ve been in the business for a while. I really thought the window was closed.” He added, “And usually there’s a certain age you have to be.”

A few days ago, Stewart pitched the idea of Wilmore hosting a show featuring young minority comics discussing news events, and Wilmore recounted, “My mouth hit the floor.”

Carter notes: “Fans and television-industry executives were less surprised by Mr. Stewart’s choice. Mr. Wilmore created ‘The Bernie Mac Show’ and wrote for and produced ‘The Office.’ The consensus was that Mr. Wilmore -- bright, acerbic, soft-spoken but pointedly funny -- was the perfect choice to be the frontman on a show that would inject a pungent minority point of view into the nightly stew of late-night comedy.”

larry wilmore.pngLarry Wilmore

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Fox Rolls Out Its Fall 2014 Schedule, With Five New Dramas, Four New Comedies, Two New Event Series and One New Unscripted Show in the Lineup

Fox today released its full schedule for fall along with details on a broad slate of new programs -- including five new drama series, four new sitcoms, one new reality program and two event series.

Joining the Fox lineup are the Batman origin story "Gotham," the ensemble drama "Red Band Society," the multicamera comedy "Mulaney," the social experiment "Utopia" and the 10-part event series "Gracepoint," all of which are set to premiere in fall 2015.

Slated for 2015 rollouts are the musical family drama "Empire," the adventure series "Hieroglyph," the comedic crime drama "Backstrom," M. Night Shyamalan's 10-part event thriller "Wayward Pines," the Will Forte comedy series "Last Man on Earth," ensemble comedy "Weird Loners" and animated series "Bordertown."

Also on tap are live specials "Jump of the Century," "Pitbull's New Year's Revolution" and "Grease Live" (all working titles).

Please click here to see the Fox fall schedule and read the full announcement from Fox, including descriptions of all the programming.

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TBS Pulls Plug on Comedy Series

TBS has canceled one comedy series and given a renewal to another. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the cable channel canceled the workplace comedy “Men at Work” after three seasons.

The comedy is about four men who help each other with life problems while working at the same magazine, the story notes.

The piece adds: “‘Men at Work’ premiered to solid ratings in March 2012 with 2.6 million viewers, but ratings had dwindled as the series progressed. Its season-three finale, also serving as the series' swan song, drew less than 1 million viewers.”

Separately, TheWrap.com reports that “Cougar Town” has earned a sixth and final season from the network.

TBS gave the show a final 13-episode order, bringing back Courteney Cox as a recently divorced woman who re-enters the dating scene. With the renewal, the show will air its third season on TBS, after it shifted from ABC.

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With Cancellations, Some Comedies Are Searching for New Homes

With several comedies getting canceled or passed over ahead of the upfronts, some are searching for new homes, Nellie Andreeva reports on Deadline.com.

They include “Suburgatory,” which was canceled by ABC, and “Friends With Better Lives,” which was canceled by CBS, Andreeva reports.

"I hear Warner Bros. TV’s 'Suburgatory,' which is three seasons into its run the way 'Cougar Town' was when it was facing cancellation at ABC and moved to TBS, is exploring other options for the quirky comedy, canceled on Thursday by ABC, with sibling TBS among the possibilities," Andreeva writes.

The report adds: “20th TV also is said to be shopping the Kevin Hart comedy pilot starring Romany Malco, which came very close to a series order at ABC."

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Former Time Warner Boss Named Interim Clippers CEO

In the wake of a lifetime ban on L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the NBA, the former chairman of Time Warner, Dick Parsons, has been named to run the team on an interim basis, USA Today reports.

The NBA, under Commissioner Adam Silver, took control of the team as it plans to force Sterling to sell it, after he was taped making racist statements to a female friend.

Parsons, who played basketball at the University of Hawaii in the 1960s, held top executive roles at Time Warner from 1995 through 2007, and then served as Citigroup chairman from 2009 through 2012.

"Like most Americans, I have been deeply troubled by the pain the Clippers' team, fans and partners have endured," Parsons said in a statement. "A lifelong fan of the NBA, I am firmly committed to the values and principles it is defending, and I completely support Adam's leadership in navigating the challenges facing the team and the league. The Clippers are a resilient organization with a brilliant coach and equally talented and dedicated athletes and staff who have demonstrated great strength of character during a time of adversity."

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Netflix Raises Prices for New Customers

Netflix has implemented a price increase for new customers. Bloomberg reports that the online streaming service boosted prices for new customers by $1 a month, to $8.99.

The price hike is the first for Netflix in three years, the story reports.

The streaming service also introduced a $7.99 plan that doesn’t allow high-definition service or allow customers to watch programs on more than one device, the story notes.

Customers who already have accounts will continue to pay the same price for two more years, the report adds.

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Will 'Community' Be Shopped Elsewhere After Cancellation by NBC? Don't Count on It

The cult comedy “Community” is unlikely to be shopped elsewhere following its cancellation after five seasons on NBC, reports Nellie Andreeva on Deadline.com.

Andreeva writes: “I hear there has been incoming interest in reviving the Sony TV-produced show from a suitor but a deal is not likely. I hear creator Dan Harmon, who returned as showrunner for Season 5 after a season-long dismissal, is ready to move on to other things, prepping Season 2 of his Adult Swim animated comedy ‘Rick & Morty’ and figuring out his next project.”

On his live podcast, Harmon said that he was “in a place of grief” after getting the news of "Community's" cancellation. “It’ll take weeks to sink in,” he said.

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Shelly Sterling, the Wife of Clippers Owner Donald Sterling, Says He's Suffering From 'Onset of Dementia'

Shelly Sterling, the wife of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, told ABC’s Barbara Walters that she believes her husband is suffering from “the onset of dementia.”

ABC News reports that Sterling also told Walters that she will “eventually” divorce her estranged husband, and that if the NBA tries to force her to sell her half of the team, she will fight to keep it.

“To be honest with you, I'm wondering if a wife of one of the owners, and there's 30 owners, did something like that, said those racial slurs, would they oust the husband? Or would they leave the husband in?" she told Walters.

She added that the Clippers team is a “legacy to my family” and her “passion.”

An NBA spokesman said the rules would force her to sell her share. "Under the NBA Constitution, if a controlling owner's interest is terminated by a 3/4 vote, all other team owners' interests are automatically terminated as well," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said. "It doesn't matter whether the owners are related as is the case here. These are the rules to which all NBA owners agreed to as a condition of owning their team."

Her attorney disputed the league’s reading of the constitution, calling it self-serving.

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Will This Be the Secret to Avoiding Pledge Drives? PBS Developing Streaming VOD Service

PBS and its local stations are working on their own version of a video-on-demand service, with streaming video that will be available to members of local PBS stations, reports Elizabeth Jensen in The New York Times.

Jensen writes: “The service, which is being referred to as M.V.O.D., for Member Video On Demand, is not expected to start widely before next spring. It will not replace the free on-air channel or the free online replays that PBS offers at PBS.org and on its Roku channel.”

The service is designed to reinforce the notion that members are investors in PBS programming, Jensen writes. It also aims to make the network’s shows more convenient to watch for members, she adds.

One convenience may be to help avoid some of the on-air pledge drives, the report notes.

“The service is unlikely to obviate the traditional, and not-always-beloved, on-air pledge drives that public television stations have used for years. But with additional options, viewers can more easily avoid the drives,” Jensen writes.

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Clippers Owner Donald Sterling Apologizes But Verbally Attacks Magic Johnson in Interview With Anderson Cooper

Donald Sterling, 80, the embattled owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, apologized and said he was "asking for forgiveness" in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper. In the same interview Sterling also verbally attacked basketball legend Magic Johnson, telling Cooper, "He's a good person. I mean, what am I going to say? Has he done everything he can do to help minorities? I don't think so. But I’ll say it, he's great. But I don't think he's a good example for the children of Los Angeles."

These soundbites were provided by CNN to the press on Sunday, May 11, 2014. Cooper's interview with Sterling is scheduled to air Monday night, May 12, 2014, on "AC360°" at 8 p.m. ET.

Here are the two soundbites CNN released to the press, in the form of transcripts:

Donald Sterling: I'm a good member who made a mistake and I'm apologizing and I'm asking for forgiveness. Am I entitled to one mistake, am I after 35 years? I mean, I love my league, I love my partners, am I entitled to one mistake? It's a terrible mistake, and I'll never do it again.

Anderson Cooper: The vice president of NBA Players Association Roger Mason, he said the players won’t accept anyone in the Sterling family owning the clippers -- not you, not your wife, not your son-in-law, not your daughter. Do you believe it?

DS: I really don’t know. The people who are going to decide my fate, I think, are not the media, not the players union but the NBA ...

AC: The owners.

DS: The owners, if the owners feel I have another chance, then they'll give it to me.

AC: But there is a path for you to fight their decision, isn't there?

DS: Of course, but if you fight with my partner, what at the end of the road do I benefit, especially at my age. If they fight with me and they spend millions and I spend millions, let's say I win or they win, I just don't know if that's important.

AC: Why wait so long to apologize? It's been a couple of weeks -- you could have come out.

DS: Well that’s a very good question. I just, I’m just so emotionally distraught, and the reason it's hard for me, very hard for me, is that I’m wrong. I caused the problem. I don't know how to correct it.

AC: Do you trust people, I mean there have been a couple of phone recordings in the last week or two that have come out, people you have talked to on the phone or seems to be your voice, who then sold it to Radar Online or TMZ and I hear that I think, do you have anyone you trust around you?

DS: I don't give interviews; the only one I know is Magic Johnson..

AC: You talked to him

DS: Yeah, twice. Yeah he knew the girl well.

AC: Did you apologize to him?

DS: If I said anything wrong I'm sorry. He's a good person. I mean, what am I going to say? Has he done everything he can do to help minorities? I don't think so. But I’ll say it, he's great. But I don't think he's a good example for the children of Los Angeles.

 

Here is the other soundbite CNN released:

 

Donald Sterling: I'm not a racist, I made a terrible, terrible mistake. And I’m here with you today to apologize and to ask for forgiveness for all the people that I’ve hurt. And I’ve hurt so many people. So many innocent people, and I've hurt myself. You know, I spoke to a girl that I was fond of. When I listen to that tape, I don't even know how I can say words like that. I’m so sorry, I’m so apologetic.

Anderson Cooper: What are you sorry about?

DS: Well I’m sorry that so many people are hurt. I never dreamed that this could happen. It's a terrible, terrible nightmare.

My players, they didn't need this. they didn't need this cloud over their head.

They're good people and I love them and respect them and I would always be there for them.

AC: When you saw them ...

DS: And for them to hear that I’m a possible racist is so painful to me cuz I’m not a racist and I’ve never been a racist. It's not me.

AC: When you saw the players wear their warmup jerseys in reverse so the Clippers name wasn't on, what did you think?

DS: I really didn't pay attention. They are Clippers and they're mine and I’m theirs. That's how I feel. I would do anything for them. I made a mistake. I hope it’s in their heart to forgive me for that mistake.

I don't know why the girl had me say those things.

AC: You're saying you were set up?

DS: Well yes, I was baited. I mean that's not the way I talk. I don't talk about people for one thing, ever. I talk about ideas and other things, I don't talk about people.

AC: Do you know how the tape got released?

DS: No.

AC: Do you think she did it?

DS: I don't know, an 80-year-old man is kind of foolish, and I'm kind of foolish. I thought she liked me and really cared for me. I guess being 51 years older than her, I was deluding myself.

AC: Do you trust her now?

DS: No, I don't trust her and I just wish I could ask her why. And if she was just setting me up, I think that people say she was taping me for 2 years. So maybe I was just fooling myself thinking for 2 years that she cared for me. She certainly acted like it.

Below: Photo of Donald Sterling, left, interviewed by CNN's Anderson Cooper

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NBC Announces Fall Schedule: 'Parks and Recreation' Final Episodes Midseason; Ascendancy of 'Blacklist.' Read Full Press Release About the Schedule

NBC has announced its fall schedule (New shows in caps):

MONDAY
8-10 p.m. — “The Voice”
10-11 p.m. — “The Blacklist” / “STATE OF AFFAIRS” (beginning Nov. 17)

TUESDAY
8-9 p.m. — “The Voice”
9-9:30 p.m. — “MARRY ME”
9:30-10 p.m. — “About a Boy”
10-11 p.m. — “Chicago Fire”

WEDNESDAY
8-9 p.m. — “THE MYSTERIES OF LAURA”
9-10 p.m. — “Law & Order: SVU”
10-11 p.m. — “Chicago P.D.”

THURSDAY
8-9 p.m. — “The Biggest Loser”
9-9:30 p.m. — “BAD JUDGE” (“The Blacklist” beginning Feb. 5)
9:30-10 p.m. — “A TO Z”
10-11 p.m. — “Parenthood”

FRIDAY
8-9 p.m. — “Dateline NBC”
9-10 p.m. — “Grimm”
10-11 p.m. — “CONSTANTINE”

SATURDAY
8-11 p.m. — Encore programming

SUNDAY
7-8:20 p.m. — “Football Night in America”
8:20-11:30 p.m. — “NBC Sunday Night Football”

To read NBC's official press release about its primetime 2014-2015 schedule, including detailed descriptions of the new shows, please click here.

Most notable are the midseason scheduling of the final episodes of "Parks and Recreation" and the moving of the "The Blacklist" to a key Thursday night slot starting Feb. 5, 2015.

Says our good friend Scott Collins in his comments about the schedule in the Los Angeles Times: "In the 2014-15 schedule unveiled Sunday morning, the network backed away from its aggressive Thursday night comedy block after years of sub-par ratings. Instead, starting in February the hit crime drama 'The Blacklist' will anchor a night kicked off by 'The Biggest Loser.'

"Comedies will remain in the 9 p.m. hour but will be newcomers: the family sitcom 'Bad Judge' followed by the dating comedy 'A to Z.'"

Collins adds: "With NBC the only major broadcaster now lacking a full-season marquee comedy, the network is instead focusing on building up 'The Blacklist,' which was the top-rated new program this season. Programmers are also salting the schedule with a few new dramas, including a light whodunit called 'The Mysteries of Laura,' which stars Debra Messing and will open Wednesday nights, and the superhero epic 'Constantine,' pegged for Fridays."

In a statement, NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt said: "The overall goal was to maintain stability from our growing number of anchor shows, while, at the same time, striving to make every show an event -- a guiding principle of our development strategy."

On Monday, May 12, 2014, NBC will formally present its fall schedule to advertisers and media agencies in New York City at Javits Center.

Again, to read NBC's official press release announcing its primetime 2014-2015 season schedule, including details about its new shows, please click here.


 

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NBC Cancels Four Series

NBC has pulled the plug on four prime-time shows, while also announcing a number of renewals. Variety reports that the Peacock Network has canceled the drama series "Revolution" and the comedies "Community" and "Growing Up Fisher." TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the network also canceled the freshman drama "Believe."

The Variety story also reports that NBC has renewed "Hannibal" and "About a Boy."

“'Hannibal' had been on the fence for a pickup, but its hard-core fan base and international appeal put it over the top," Variety reports. "NBC noted that the edgy show derived from the 'Silence of the Lambs' franchise is the youngest-skewing 10 p.m. drama on NBC, ABC or CBS."

The renewal will give "Hannibal," which stars Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy, a third season, while "About a Boy" will get to season two.

"Revolution" was canceled after two seasons, and "Community" lasted for five seasons. "NBC also announced that it was canceling DJ Nash’s freshman midseason comedy 'Growing Up Fisher,' which was narrated by Jason Bateman and starred J. K. Simmons and Jenna Elfman," Variety adds.

The Variety report notes: "'Hannibal' is also a good bargain for NBC as it is produced by Gaumont International TV and Sony Pictures TV Networks with financing from overseas outlets that allows NBC to [pay a] more modest license fee than a typical U.S.-produced drama. The cost issue was not the only factor in securing the renewal of the series, created and exec produced by Bryan Fuller, but it didn’t hurt."

J.J. Abrams' "Revolution" cooled off considerably after a strong start to its first season. The series "started out with promise in 2012-13 when it was assisted by a lead-in from 'The Voice.' But its sophomore year has been an uphill climb after it moved last fall to the lead-off slot on Wednesday," Variety notes.

The renewal for “About a Boy,” which stars Minnie Driver and David Walton, was not a surprise. The series "was seen as a lock to return, after a solid showing in its initial run this spring," Variety notes, adding: "The series hails from showrunner Jason Katims, a favorite of the Peacock’s."

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CBS Claims Ratings Win Even as Its Thursday Juggernaut Falls to a Season Low

CBS coasted to a ratings win Thursday night even as its top show of the night fell to a season low, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "The Big Bang Theory" hit a season-low 3.7 average rating in 18-49, plummeting eight-tenths from the 4.5 it delivered a week ago. It was still easily the top show of Thursday's broadcast prime, both in the key demo and in total viewers, where it averaged 14.17 million.

CBS's "The Millers" and "Elementary" both matched their series lows in viewers 18-49 -- a 2.0 for "Millers," equaling last week's number, and a 1.5 for "Elementary," slipping one-tenth. "Two and a Half Men" equaled last week's 2.1 while "Bad Teacher" dipped one-tenth to a 1.3.

Second-place Fox had mixed results, as the half-hour "American Idol" ticked up one-tenth to a 1.6 after hitting a series low last week. "Hell's Kitchen" was off one-tenth with a 1.5, while the recently canceled "Surviving Jack" rose two-tenths to a 1.2 after hitting a series low one week ago.

ABC opened prime time with a "Grey's Anatomy" repeat (0.6 average in 18-49), then saw a fresh installment of "Grey's" lose three-tenths from a week ago and settle for a 2.3. "Black Box" fell two-tenths in the 10 p.m. slot to a 1.1.

NBC had "Hollywood Game Night," which equaled its previous original with a 0.9 average in adults 18-49, and the two-hour special "American Comedy Awards," which managed a 1.0.

For prime time overall, CBS's 2.0 was the best number among the broadcast nets in viewers 18-49, followed by Fox (1.5 average), ABC (1.3), Univision (1.2) and NBC (1.0). CBS easily won total viewers by averaging 8.8 million, followed by ABC (4.94 million), Fox (4.90 million), NBC (3.2 million) and Univision (2.9 million).

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ABC Pulls the Plug on Four More Shows

ABC, which has made a flurry of announcements about cancellations and renewals, continues to wield the ax. USA Today reports that the network has pulled the plug on the comedies "The Neighbors" and "Suburgatory," along with "Mixology" and "Super Fun Night."

The news comes on the heels of the cancellation of "Trophy Wife," as we reported earlier today.

"The Goldbergs" was spared, getting the news that it has been picked up for another season, as have "Modern Family" and "The Middle."

The report notes: "ABC Friday announced it will bring back a group of veteran reality series: 'Dancing With the Stars' (Season 19), 'The Bachelor' (Season 19), 'America's Funniest Home Videos' (Season 25) and 'Shark Tank' (Season 6)."

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NBA Playoffs Deliver Record Ratings on ESPN2

NBA playoff coverage delivered record ratings Thursday on ESPN2, with the two highest-rated postseason games ever on the network, ESPN announced.

"The San Antonio Spurs’ victory over the Portland Trail Blazers posted a 2.7 overnight rating, according to Nielsen, making it the highest-rated NBA postseason game ever on ESPN2," the company announced. "In addition, the Miami Heat’s win over the Brooklyn Nets generated a 2.6 overnight rating, making it the second-highest-rated NBA postseason game ever on ESPN2."

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ABC Unveils a Batch of Renewals and Pickups

As it readies for next week's upfront presentations, ABC has been busy making decisions on which shows will remain with the network and which will be cut -- along with which new series will be picked up. In addition to previously reported programming moves, EW.Com's Inside TV reports that the Alphabet Network is renewing "Castle" for a seventh season, and "Once Upon a Time" for a fourth.

The shows join a list of already reported renewals including "Grey's Anatomy," "Modern Family," "The Middle," "The Goldbergs," "Scandal" and "Revenge."

"Resurrection" was also renewed, for a second season.

EW reports that the network has picked up six new dramas for fall. They are "How to Get Away With Murder," "Secrets and Lies," "American Crime," "The Whispers," "Galavant" and "Forever."

The list of ABC pickups also includes two comedies: "Manhattan Love Story" and "Selfie."

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One of the Most Widely Recognized Voices in Broadcasting Is Dead at 64

A voice that almost everyone has heard -- although few people outside the advertising and broadcasting industries probably knew who it was -- has died.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Lee Marshall, the announcer who voiced the Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes icon Tony the Tiger since 1999, died April 26.

Marshall died of esophageal cancer at 64, the story reports.

“A sports broadcaster and a rock 'n' roll deejay as well as a ring announcer and voiceover artist, Marshall spoke in deep, rich, practically evangelical tones that turned out to be ideal for selling cereal and a whole lot more,” the story notes.

The report adds: "The original Tony the Tiger was an actor named Thurl Ravenscroft, whose line 'They're g-r-r-r-e-a-t resonated across the airwaves from 1952 until months before his 2005 death at age 91. In interviews, Marshall said he started helping out as Tony when Ravenscroft was in his 80s and had an increasingly difficult time with dialogue."

Marshall was more likely to provide the voice of cartoon villains instead of heroes. He was often asked by fans to perform Tony the Tiger’s voice, but a friend told the L.A. Times that he wouldn’t do it if children were around. "He was very protective of Tony's image,” Tom Kelly of radio station KRTH-101 told the publication.

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Lee Marshall

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CW Cancels Three Series

The CW has decided there's no tomorrow for three series. The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that the broadcast network is pulling the plug on “The Tomorrow People,” “Star-Crossed” and “The Carrie Diaries."

“The Tomorrow People” was an updated version of a 1960s sci-fi drama, featuring a group of people with special powers as they fought for survival. The show averaged 1.5 million total viewers and a 0.6 rating in 18-49.

“Star-Crossed” was a romance about aliens trying to fit into human society, but it “whimpered” with a 0.3 rating in the 18-49 demographic, the story notes.

“The Carrie Diaries,” a prequel to HBO's wildly successful "Sex and the City," “didn't quite make the fashionable entrance CW might have liked,” the article adds.

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'Clashing Personalities,' 'Frosty' Relations and 'Strong-Willed' CEOs: Why Two Ad Giants Called Off Their $35 Billion Merger

Two advertising giants called off their proposed $35 billion merger Thursday. Writing in The New York Times, David Gelles reports that Omnicom Group and Publicis Groupe shelved the plan due to a “mix of clashing personalities, disagreements about how the companies would be integrated and complications over legal and tax issues."

Gelles writes: “The collapse is a huge setback for both companies. When the merger was announced last summer, it was billed as an opportunity to create an international powerhouse with the capabilities to serve large and small clients alike with a mix of digital and traditional agencies.”

Since the merger was announced almost a year ago, not much progress had been made on the deal, the story adds. The companies hadn’t shared client contracts, for instance, and relationships between teams at the two companies “remained frosty.”

That extended to the top, with Omnicom Chief Executive John D. Wren and Publicis Chief Executive Maurice Levy clashing, the piece notes. Both executives are described as “strong-willed.”

One point of conflict was which company was acquiring the other, with Publicis executives taking issue with the idea that Omnicom executives would take control of both the CEO and CFO roles.

“It seems incredulous that this merger fell apart because of disagreements over roles and responsibilities,” Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research Group, told The Times. “These are things that shareholders should have expected to be sorted out before the merger was announced.”

john d. wren.pngJohn D. Wren

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CBS Orders 'How I Met Your Dad' to Series -- or Does It?

Conflicting reports surfaced over whether CBS has given a series order to “How I Met Your Dad,” a spinoff of its hit comedy series “How I Met Your Mother.”

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed cites sources saying the network gave a series order to the comedy, although the story, which was posted Thursday, also notes that both CBS and producer 20th Century Fox Television denied an order has been made.

"After saying a (somewhat painful) farewell to Monday staple 'How I Met Your Mother,' CBS is saying hello to this brand-new story with Meg Ryan's voice at its center with 'How I Met Your Dad,'" THR reports. "Starring indie darling Greta Gerwig, who will also serve as a writer on the comedy from Carter Bays, Craig Thomas and Emily Spivey, CBS will hope 'HIMYM' loyalists remain on board with this female-skewing entry."

Meanwhile, Deadline.com’s Nellie Andreeva reports that CBS hasn’t made any series orders yet, writing in a report Thursday afternoon that the “rumor mill went into overdrive.”

Andreeva adds: “CBS has not made any pickups yet and none are imminent today [Thursday]. I hear there were inquiry calls from CBS about directors on both ‘HIMYD’ and ‘The McCarthys’ today, which may have triggered the speculation.”

greta gerwig.jpgGreta Gerwig

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It's On: Larry King Pushes Piers Morgan's Buttons -- And Morgan Is Apparently Tired of Hearing It

Larry King fired a salvo at his CNN replacement Piers Morgan, critiquing the man who was hired to take over King's 9 p.m. time slot on the cable network. TVNewser reports that King spoke out on Howard Stern’s radio show, criticizing CNN's decision to hire Morgan.

“I thought they made a mistake in the Piers hire,” King said. “I thought it was a mistake, one, to hire a Britisher in prime time and, two, I thought that he made himself too much part of the show.”

Morgan responded on Twitter, writing, “Hey Larry @kingsthings -- you don’t need to KEEP bitching about me. It’s over. Relax.”

Morgan added in a subsequent tweet, “And FYI … there is no such word as ‘Britisher.’ But then research & facts were never your strong point were they, Brooklyner?”

That wasn't the end of it, either, as Morgan followed up with this tweet: "Always tried to be respectful to @kingsthings -- but he's been a constant poisonous twerp towards me for 3 years and I'm bored with it."

Morgan's show ended in March after being a ratings disappointment for CNN. But the network also struggled with diminishing ratings in the time slot toward the end of King's tenure.

The Huffington Post notes that Morgan added in yet another tweet: "As for our respective egos, one of us changed his name legally to 'King' and it wasn't me. So get over yourself @kingsthings."

"When asked how he felt about Morgan's departure, King told Stern that it was like seeing 'your mother-in-law [go] over the cliff in your new car,'" the Huffington Post article reports. The piece adds: "Morgan also went after King over ratings and the time King confused Ringo Starr with George Harrison."

The HuffPost piece also notes: "King has been less than enthusiastic about Morgan in the past. He's suggested that Morgan may have been 'oversold' to CNN, called the British personality 'an acceptable host' and said that Morgan's former show was just not his style."

piers morgan.pngPiers Morgan

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Video: Hosts Speak Out After Their Show Was Pulled Because of Alleged Anti-Gay Comments; They Say the Network Was 'Bullied' and That They 'Love Homosexuals'

The twin brothers who were set to host an upcoming cable series are speaking out after plans for the show were canceled amid a controversy over alleged anti-gay activism.

David and Jason Benham of HGTV’s now canceled reality show “Flip It Forward” told CNN that they believe the network was “bullied’ into canceling their show and that they “love homosexuals,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

As previously reported, the program was pulled after a report surfaced that the brothers are anti-gay activists. The show had been greenlighted to debut in October, but HGTV switched gears after Right Wing Watch reported that David Benham had said America’s Christian majority must repent for allowing “homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation.”

The brothers told Erin Burnett on CNN’s “OutFront” that they weren’t angry at the network, but felt it had been “pushed into” canceling the show. Asked by Burnett whether he stood by his words, David Benham said, "Never have I ever spoken against homosexuals as individuals and gone against them. I speak about an agenda ... that is seeking to silence the voices of men and women of faith. That's what all this is about.”

He added, “We love homosexuals and we love Muslims and we have absolutely nothing against the people.”

Asked whether he believes it would be OK for a gay person to marry someone he or she loved, he said he wouldn’t accept it. “In the scripture it's very clear that that would not honor God, nor is it good for human flourishing,” he said.

Here's a clip from the interview:

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HBO Signs Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer to First-Look Producing Deal

HBO has signed “True Blood” actors Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer to a two-year, first-look deal to develop series, films and miniseries, reports Deadline.com.

The couple’s production company CASM may also work on new starring vehicles for the actors, whose long-running vampire drama will end this summer. The deal includes options for the pair to direct, as well as act.

“This marks the first foray into television for CASM Films, which Paquin and Moyer launched in 2012 with producing partners Cerise Hallam Larkin and Mark Larkin, who, like the ‘True Blood’ duo, are  a married couple,” the story notes.

Their company has focused on movies until this point, such as the 2013 film “Free Ride,” the piece notes.

anna paquin-stephen moyer.pngAnna Paquin and Stephen Moyer

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E! Developing Show With Diane von Furstenberg

E! is working on a reality competition show featuring fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg, Variety reports. The show will air starting at the end of 2014 and has the working title “The DVF Project.”

Taped in New York, the show will give a “behind-the-scenes look at von Furstenberg’s empire as she and her team vet a group of ambitious young women,” the story says.

“Diane von Furstenberg is one of fashion’s most innovative designers and a true icon who inspires women to seize opportunities,” Jeff Olde, E!’s EVP of programming and development, said. “There is a magical, somewhat ‘Willy Wonka’ aspect to the world Diane wants to create with this show. That is if Willy Wonka were a fabulous, glamorous fashion icon willing to share her secrets with talented young women dedicated to learning them.”

diane von furstenberg.pngDiane von Furstenberg

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Animated Series Renewed by Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon has made the decision to pick up another season of one of its animated shows. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel renewed “Breadwinners” for a second season.

The series, which is about two ducks and their rocket-van delivery service, will return for a 20-episode second season, the story reports.

“The popularity and success of ‘Breadwinners’ is a testament to our commitment to creator-driven animation,” said Russell Hicks, president of content development and production at Nickelodeon. “We’re thrilled to bring our audience another season of this great show as part of our continued pledge to building our pipeline of original animation.”

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'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' Co-Creater Signs Overall Deal with Universal TV

Dan Goor, the co-creator and executive producer of Fox’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” has signed a new two-year overall deal with studio Universal TV, which is behind the cop comedy, reports Deadline.com.

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” co-creator Mike Schur is also under an overall deal at Universal TV. Goor will continue to executive produce the comedy as part of the deal, the story says.

“Dan Goor is a gifted writer and showrunner who has delivered for us in a big way with our critically acclaimed and growing hit ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine,’” said Universal TV’s Bela Bajaria.

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Starz Unveils Premiere Date, Poster and Tagline for 'Outlander'

Starz has set a premiere date for “Outlander,” the series based on the popular novels by Diana Gabaldon, The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

The drama will premiere Saturday, Aug. 9, at 9 p.m. The 16-episode series, from “Battlestar Galactica's" Ron Moore, is currently in production in Scotland.

The network also unveiled the show's official poster, which has the tagline, “What if your future was the past?” The series is about a World War II nurse, Claire, who travels back in time to 1743 and falls in love with a Scottish warrior.

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ABC Cancels Series, Announces Renewals and Pickups

ABC announced it is scrapping a prime-time series, while also announcing renewals for a number of shows along with pickups of new series. TheWrap.com reports that the freshman comedy "Trophy Wife" was canceled, while the network gave renewals to shows including “The Middle,” “Modern Family” and the Shonda Rhimes shows “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal."

The renewal for “Grey’s Anatomy” means the show is entering its 11th season, while both “Scandal” and “Revenge,” with the latter also receiving a renewal, will return for their fourth seasons, the story notes.

TheWrap reports separately that ABC gave a second season to “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD,” and also gave a series order to “Marvel’s Agent Carter,” which stars “Captain America” actress Hayley Atwell. ABC has also greenlighted the comedy “Manhattan Love Story,” and ordered the series “Forever.”

The comedy “Selfie,” which stars Karen Gillan from “Doctor Who,” was also given a series order.

The network renewed the comedy “The Middle,” which TheWrap reports has been a “quiet performer” on ABC's Wednesday night schedule. The piece notes, “While it hasn't gotten as much buzz over the years as its flashier neighbor, ‘Modern Family’ -- also on Wednesdays -- it has found a loyal audience, becoming a solid lead-off show for the night."

Both “The Middle” and “Modern Family” will be returning for sixth seasons. Additionally, “The Goldbergs” was renewed for a second season.

On the cancellation of “Trophy Wife,” the report notes: “The comedy -- starring Bradley Whitford, Malin Akerman, Michaela Watkins and Marcia Gay Harden -- struggled to find an audience on Tuesday nights. It also struggled to get out from under the negative stigma its misleading title gave potential viewers."

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Report: Apple Close to Buying Your Favorite Headphone Maker for $3 Billion

Apple is close to buying a high-end headphone maker, reports the Associated Press. The deal could be worth as much as $3.2 billion, which is the most Apple will have ever paid for an acquisition, the story says.

"Apple is orchestrating a $3.2 billion acquisition of Beats Electronics, the headphone maker and music streaming distributor founded by hip-hop star Dr. Dre and record producer Jimmy Iovine, according to a published report," the AP story reports. The piece adds: "Citing people familiar with the negotiations, The Financial Times says Apple could announce the deal as early as next week."

The AP story also says, "Beats Electronics was founded in Santa Monica, California, in 2008 by Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. Its headphones were manufactured by Monster Cable until the two companies parted ways in 2012. The headphones have become a bit of a status symbol worn by celebrities as well as audiophiles.

"In 2012, Beats bought streaming music service MOG, which it transformed and relaunched as Beats Music earlier this year. The launch was fueled by a landmark partnership with AT&T ... that allowed up to five family members to pay $15 a month for the service as long as they were AT&T wireless customers. The deal broke the industry mold of charging each person $10 per month."

The report adds, "Both Apple and Beats Electronics declined to comment to the Associated Press."

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CW Orders Four Series -- Including 'The Flash'; Network Passes on 'Supernatural' Spinoff

CW announced today that it will not pick up the "Supernatural" spinoff "Bloodlines," while also announcing series orders for "The Flash," "iZombie," "Jane the Virgin" and "The Messengers."

The broadcast network offered the following official descriptions for the new series:

"The Flash"

Based upon characters published by DC Comics. Through a freak accident, scientist Barry Allen is given the power of super speed that transforms him into the Fastest Man Alive. Cast: Grant Gustin (Barry Allen); Jesse L. Martin (Det. West); Tom Cavanaugh (Harrison Wells).

"iZombie"

A med student-turned-zombie takes a job in the coroner’s office to gain access to the brains she must reluctantly eat to maintain her humanity, but with each brain she consumes, she inherits the corpse’s memories. With the help of her medical examiner boss and a police detective, she solves homicide cases in order to quiet the disturbing voices in her head. Based on the characters created by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred, and published by DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint. Cast: Rose McIver (Liv).

"Jane the Virgin"

Adapted from the successful Venezuelan telenovela. A series of surprising and unforeseen events causes a hard-working, religious young Latina woman to be accidentally artificially inseminated. Gina Rodriguez (Jane); Justin Baldoni (Rafael).

"The Messengers"

When a mysterious object crashes down to earth, a group of seemingly unconnected strangers die from the energy pulse, but then awaken to learn that they have been deemed responsible for preventing the impending Apocalypse. Cast: Shantel VanSaten (Vera); Diogo Morgado (The Man).

gina rodriguez.jpgGina Rodriguez

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A&E Rolls Out Slate of New Series Including 'Love Prison,' 'Godfather of Pittsburgh'

A&E Network today announced the addition of four new series to its programming slate, along with four new pilots. All of the programs are unscripted.

The series lineup includes "Dogs of War," about a couple that helps pair PTSD veterans with adopted dogs, and "Love Prison," a social experiment in which couples who know each other online meet for the first time on a remote island. The other series are "Godfather of Pittsburgh" and "Lone Star Lady."

Additionally, the network detailed plans for four new pilots, including Mark Wahlberg's "Big Brew Theory," as we reported earlier. The other pilots are "8 Minutes," about efforts to rescue young women from prostitution; "Nightwatch," about emergency responders in New Orleans; and "The Unproduceables," focused on a Florida retirement center.

Please click here for details about all the new A&E projects.

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Historic Lows Continue for Prime-Time Broadcast Series

Four more prime-time programs on the big four broadcast networks sank to all-time ratings lows Wednesday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo, after a number of shows set historic low marks the previous night.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that Fox's two-hour "American Idol" set an all-time low mark for a Wednesday installment of the singing competition, while NBC's "Revolution" and ABC's "Suburgatory" and "The Middle" sank to new series lows. CBS came out relatively unscathed, winning the night as its lineup was mostly up from a week ago.

"Idol" fell two-tenths of a ratings point from last week, settling for a 1.7 average in adults 18-49. "Revolution" also lost two-tenths, for an all-time worst 1.1, and "Suburgatory" plummeted three-tenths to a record-low 1.2. "The Middle" fell three-tenths to a 1.5.

CBS was paced by "Survivor," which held steady to last week's number in the 18-49 demo, a 2.4. "Criminal Minds" ticked up one-tenth to a 2.3 after slipping to a series low last week, and "CSI" rose two-tenths to a 1.9. CBS had broadcast prime's top three programs in total viewers, paced by "Criminal Minds" with 10.43 million.

ABC had the highest-rated show of the night in "Modern Family," even as the series matched the season low it delivered last week in the 18-49 demo, a 2.8 average. "Mixology" came in with another 1.3 average, the same as last week, while "Nashville" equaled last week's series-low 1.2.

Along with "Revolution's" new series low, NBC suffered through two ties for all-time series lows, as "Law & Order: SVU" plunged four-tenths of a point to a 1.4 while "Chicago PD" lost a half-point to also register a 1.4.

For prime time overall, CBS easily won the night in the 18-49 demo with a 2.2 average rating, followed by Fox (1.7 average), ABC (1.5) and NBC (1.3). CBS also won total viewers, averaging 10.1 million to top Fox (7.8 million), ABC (5.3 million) and NBC (4.8 million).

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'Homeland' Actor Lands Role in Miniseries

One of the stars of the Showtime series "Homeland" will play a big part in an upcoming miniseries. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Damian Lewis, who received an Emmy for his performance as "Homeland's" Sgt. Nicholas Brody, will star opposite Mark Rylance in "Wolf Hall," which will run in the U.S. on PBS's "Masterpiece."

The project is based on historical novels by Hilary Mantel. "Lewis is set to play Henry VIII, with Rylance on board as Thomas Cromwell in the six-part miniseries being written by Oscar nominee Peter Straughan ('Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy')," the story reports.

The report notes: "The project, being directed by Peter Kosminsky ('White Oleander'), will chart the meteoric rise of Cromwell in the Tudor court, from his lowly start as a blacksmith's son to Henry VIII's closest advisor. Rounding out the cast is Claire Foy ('Little Dorrit'), who will play the calculating and ambitious Anne Boleyn, along with Jonathan Pryce ('Cranford') as the ostentatious and powerful Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Joanne Whalley ('The Borgias') as Henry's first wife Katherine of Aragon and Mark Gatiss ('Sherlock') as the haughty Stephen Gardiner, Secretary to the King, among others."

The miniseries comes from Company Pictures ("Shameless") and Colin Callender's Playground ("Dracula"), and is being co-produced for BBC Two and Masterpiece in association with BBC Worldwide.

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CBS to Air Recording of Woman's Voice Just Before She Was Murdered

CBS News has revealed plans to air a recording on which a woman can be heard pleading for her life, minutes before she was murdered, Variety reports. Portions of the recording are set to be aired on the May 10 edition of "48 Hours."

"In 2012, New York lawyer Jason Bohn killed girlfriend and Weight Watchers exec Danielle Thomas in their apartment by strangulation," Variety reports. "The four-minute-long voicemail that was accidentally captured by Bohn’s pocket dial was first revealed when it was used as evidence during his trial."

The report notes that the recording has not been heard by the public outside of the courtroom.

The piece adds: "The Associated Press reports that CBS requested a copy through the Freedom of Information Act because its contents were crucial to the jury’s deliberations and were used by both the defense and prosecution."

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Embarrassing Gaffe for Brian Williams and 'NBC Nightly News' in Nigerian Kidnapping Story

“NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams had an embarrassing gaffe during a report on the Boko Haram kidnapping of 276 teenage girls, mixing up the African countries of Kenya and Nigeria, reports TVNewser.

“Tonight it now feels as if the world is aware and responding to the kidnapping of 276 girls in Kenya three weeks ago today,” Williams said on the broadcast. He referenced Kenya again when he introduced Ann Curry and her report on the kidnapping, the story notes.

Curry correctly noted that the kidnapping took place in Nigeria.

“Brian realized his error right away, corrected it two minutes later and for all subsequent feeds,” a spokesperson for “Nightly News” told the publication. “He wrote the item in question in the rush before airtime -- it was an error borne of haste and he felt terrible about it.”

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NBC Orders Four New Series

In the first big announcement of the upfront season, NBC has ordered four pilots to series. The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that the series include the romantic comedy “Marry Me” and the Katherine Heigl vehicle “State of Affairs."

The other two projects are the dramas “Odyssey,” described as a “Traffic”-like action drama, and “Allegiance,” about a man who discovers his parents are Soviet spies.

“Marry Me,” from “Happy Endings” creator David Caspe, stars Ken Marino and Casey Wilson as a couple who encounter relationship problems around his delay in proposing. The relationship is said to be based on the real-life romance between Caspe and Wilson, the story notes.

The Heigl project stars the actress as CIA analyst Charleston “Charlie” Tucker, who prepares intelligence briefings for the president, played by Alfre Woodard. Heigl's character is also trying to find out who killed the president’s son, who was also her fiance.

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Katherine Heigl

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How a 2001 Episode of 'The Simpsons' Is Stirring Up Conspiracy Theories

A 2001 episode of “The Simpsons” is being cited as evidence of a conspiracy. According to The Hollywood Reporter the episode, “New Kids on the Blecch,” is being cited by the Egyptian TV network al-Tahrir as evidence of a conspiracy that the U.S. may have incited the Syrian Civil War as part of a plot to destabilize Arab countries.

The episode is about how Bart and his friends create a boy band and release a single called “Drop Da Bomb,” which turns out to be part of a recruitment campaign from the Navy. The music video shows Bart and his friends invading an unnamed Arab country.

The story notes, “It’s a key detail that the Egyptian TV network has seized on as a possible sign of more elaborate conspiracy at work. In a brief section of the video, a jeep bears the exact same flag currently used by the Syrian opposition.”

Before the video was shown on Egyptian TV, the network’s anchor said, “The video you are about to see shows animated figures dancing, flying airplanes and dropping bombs on what must be Syria because there are other animated figures below in Arab garb and the Syrian [opposition] flag appears on one of the vehicles."

The video, the anchor alleged, “suggests that what is happening in Syria today was premeditated" and that the U.S. may have been involved, given the episode was created before the Syrian opposition even came to be.

The flag seen in the video was used in the country before 1963, the story points out.

simpsons-conspiracy-syrian flag.png"The Simpsons"

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13-Year-Old Daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith Spurs Outrage Over Photo of Her in Bed With a 20-Year-Old Man

A photo of Willow Smith, the 13-year-old daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, is causing outrage among some fans as the girl was pictured in bed with a shirtless 20-year-old actor, reports CBSNews.com.

The man in the photo is Moises Arias, who played Rico on “Hannah Montana.” The photo, which surfaced this week on Instagram, shows Smith fully clothed and lying down on the bed, while Arias sits up behind her.

Jada Pinkett Smith told TMZ that the photo is innocent and that people who think otherwise are “covert pedophiles.”

willow smith-moises arias-selfie.jpgWillow Smith and Moises Arias

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To Play the Game With an Unreachable Perfection: Arnold Palmer, My Dad, My Brother and Me

A wonderful documentary, "Arnie," shown recently on the Golf Channel, inspired TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross to write this lively and poignant memoir, which you can read if you click here.

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Kids' Channel Renews Children's Show After the Series Attracts 'Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans'

An animated series aimed at children and airing on a cable network also aimed at children has given a renewal to a program that unexpectedly attracted a following among grown-ups.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that The Hub renewed “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” for a fifth season.

The show will air another 26-episode season next year on The Hub, which is the kid-centric cable network from Hasbro and Discovery Communications. The series recently received attention from a documentary called “Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony,” a project funded on Kickstarter that focused on the show’s adult male fan base.

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NBC Renews Long-Running Series

NBC has announced a renewal for one of television's longest-running series. EW.com’s Inside TV reports that the network gave another season order to the police procedural “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” taking the drama series to 16 seasons.

The show has been averaging a 2.5 rating, 7 share in adults 18-49 and 8.4 million viewers overall, which the article notes “ain’t too shabby.” It’s also a 16% increase in total viewers and a 19% bump in adults 18-49 compared with a year earlier.

The original "Law & Order," from which "SVU" was spun off in 1999, lasted 20 seasons, airing from 1990-2010.

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What's Driving Down AMC's Stock Price?

The stock price of AMC Networks hit a 52-week low today, and a key reason that's being cited is a familiar one in the television business: the high price of original series.

The price move reflects Wall Street's disappointment after first-quarter earnings rose less than expected with higher costs, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"The company's quarterly profit of $72 million was up 16 percent, but analysts had on average expected a bigger gain," THR reports. "In early Thursday trading, the stock was down 13.5 percent at $56.77 after earlier going as low as $53.99. Last June, the stock had hit $61.01, which was its 52-week low until Thursday morning, according to Bloomberg data."

The report notes that the share price hit a 52-week high of $78.39 back in March.

THR adds: "During an earnings call on Thursday, CEO Josh Sapan faced several questions about the cost for producing and promoting original series, which partially outweighs the revenue boost they provide by lifting advertising revenue. In the first quarter, for example, AMC hit show 'The Walking Dead' contributed to a 27 percent ad gain for the company's U.S. business."

Sapan said his executive team is "appropriately unforgiving" toward shows that underperform, and pointed to a number of successes across the firm's cable channels.

"Overall, company executives touted such AMC hit shows as 'Walking Dead' and 'Mad Men,' which he lauded for its 'extraordinary' staying power, as well as 'Rectify' on SundanceTV, the story reports. "And Sapan said new Revolutionary War spy show 'Turn' on AMC has done OK early on amid some concern about weaker-than-hoped [viewership]. COO Ed Carroll said about the series that company executives 'like what we're seeing so far' and that it will eventually come to Netflix down the line."

Some Wall Street observers, however, responded strongly to concerns that costs are trending higher.

"ISI Media analyst David Joyce downgraded his rating on the stock of AMC Networks after the earnings report, saying: 'Despite the stronger-than-expected advertising growth, the lack of visibility on expense growth continues to concern investors,'" the report notes.

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A&E Orders Its Fourth Mark Wahlberg Project

A&E has ordered a reality project from producer Mark Wahlberg about MIT graduate students who are trying to create a micro-brewery, reports Deadline.com.

In a hat tip to the CBS comedy “The Big Bang Theory,” the pilot is called “Big Brew Theory,” the story says.

"Brew" is the fourth reality project at A&E from Wahlberg, with all set in his hometown of Boston. The others include “Wahlburgers” and “Breaking Boston,” which were both ordered to series.

mark wahlberg.pngMark Wahlberg

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William Shatner Signs Development Deal

William Shatner, known for his role as Captain James T. Kirk on the original 1960s TV series "Star Trek," has signed a development deal with Internet TV network and production studio Ora.TV, The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports. As part of the deal, the actor’s Web series “Brown Bag Wine Tasting” will move to the network.

New episodes of the show, which tracks Shatner as he asks people to do blind taste tests of wine, will debut June 23, the story notes. Ora and Shatner will also develop and produce original content.

“’Brown Bag Wine Tasting’ is close to my heart, and I am delighted to partner with Ora.TV on this show," Shatner said. "I look forward to launching it in the near future and to developing new ideas with their talented team."

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TV's Showrunner Crisis: Many Projects Struggle to Find Experienced Writing Producers

The search for experienced showrunners around the end of the development season is becoming “an annual tradition,” writes Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com, with increasing numbers of newly picked-up series “in need of a seasoned showrunner every year.”

As an example, with NBC ordering four pilots to series on Wednesday, two of them -- “Allegiance” and “State of Affairs” -- don’t have showrunners.

So what’s going on? After all, it’s no surprise that the networks were going to make series orders, especially since many of the projects receiving orders were early front-runners.

“Industry insiders trace the problem back a decade ago when the studios cut back on staff writers, breaking the merit-based system for growing writing producers,” Andreeva writes. “The very few staff writer jobs started going to mandatory minority hires and friends of writers or writers assistants.”

Andreeva adds: “While there is nothing wrong with that, the overall dearth of entry-level positions readily available to up-and-coming scribes has resulted in fewer writers getting trained as they go up the ranks, creating a big discrepancy with a lot of senior-level writers and green ones and very few middle-level writers with some experience who are ready to take on a show.”

Additionally, experienced showrunners are either moving to cable or retiring, and there are few writers ready to take their place. “Cable has been a big A-list talent drainer, especially on the drama side,” Andreeva notes.

She points to John Shiban of “The X Files” as an example of that, as he was recently hired to serve as showrunner on the Starz series “Da Vinci’s Demons.”

john shiban.jpgJohn Shiban

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'American Idol' Renewed for a 14th Season Despite Ratings Declines

“American Idol” has been given a 14th season by Fox, which Deadline.com notes was expected despite the singing competition's ratings declines.

The show announced auditions in 15 cities for the upcoming season, the story notes. It adds, “For the past three years, ‘American Idol’ had alternated with ‘The X Factor’ on the midseason and fall schedule. With ‘The X Factor’ canceled, Fox might use another unscripted series, like new social experiment ‘Utopia,’ in the fall.”

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Report: Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's Wedding Is Being Held Up by the Pre-Nup

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s wedding is being held up until the pair sort out a pre-nuptial agreement, reports TMZ.com.

The story reports: “Sources connected with Kim and Kanye tell TMZ ... the prenup won't be signed until next week -- probably Wednesday at the earliest. We're told the marriage will NOT take place until both sign on the dotted line.”

While the negotiations are friendly, there are many details to sort through, the piece adds. It appears that the wedding will take place around Memorial Day, and will be located in Paris.

kanye west-kim kardashian.jpgKanye West and Kim Kardashian

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Fox Cancels Three Series

Fox has canceled three series, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker blog. One of the canceled series had drawn criticism for humor that some complained was racist and misogynistic. That was “Dads” starring Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi, whose fathers, portrayed by Martin Mull and Peter Riegert, move in. 

Others complained that the show just wasn't funny, the story notes.

“Despite the uproar, Fox Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly repeatedly voiced support for the show, and the series appeared to gather some momentum as the season wore on. But viewership never reached an acceptable level,” the piece reports.

The other two canceled shows were also freshman comedies: "Enlisted" and "Surviving Jack."

Fox also said it’s passing on two comedy pilots: “Sober Companion,” starring Nick Frost as an attorney with an addiction problem, and “Cabot College,” a project from Tina Fey that was to star Margaret Cho as the president of a women’s college that accepts men for the first time.

“Enlisted” also drew some controversy, as the show -- about three brothers on an Army base -- was said to lack authenticity. “Surviving Jack,” meanwhile, starred Christopher Meloni as a former military man who was working on being a good parent.

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Veteran TV Exec to Take Over NBC's 'Today' Franchise

NBC News is bringing in some high-powered help for its sputtering "Today" franchise. TVNewser reports that the division has hired ESPN executive Jamie Horowitz as the show's new senior VP and general manager.

His current contract with ESPN won't allow him to step into the job until later this year, the report notes.

"Horowitz, who will report to NBC News President Deborah Turness, will lead the four hours of 'Today' on all platforms. Executive producer Don Nash, 'Weekend Today' EP Dee Dee Thomas, and Jen Brown, the GM of Today.com, will report to Horowitz," the story reports.

Horowitz is currently VP of Original Programming and Production for ESPN.

"He has overseen the launch of Keith Olbermann‘s ESPN2 show as well as 'First Take,' 'Numbers Never Lie,' and 'SportsNation.'" the piece notes. "Before joining ESPN in 2006, Horowitz worked at NBC Sports. He began his career as an NBC Olympics Researcher for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney."

In a release announcing the move, Horowitz said: “I am honored to join Deborah’s team and help guide ‘Today’ into the future. This is an exciting and invigorating opportunity, and I am humbled to work with one of the most indelible brands in television. I am also grateful to John Skipper and ESPN for the opportunities and support they have given me over the past eight years.”

"Today" was the dominant morning news program before recently falling behind ABC's "Good Morning America" in the ratings.

jamie horowitz 2.pngJamie Horowitz

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TNT Gives Series Order to Supernatural Drama With High-Powered Cast

TNT announced today that it has greenlighted a supernatural drama series. The cable network announced a 10-episode order for "Proof," with a high-powered cast that includes Jennifer Beals and Matthew Modine.

Other cast members include Joe Morton ("Scandal," "Terminator 2: Judgment Day"), Callum Blue ("Dead Like Me," "Royal Pains"), Edi Gathegi ("X-Men: First Class," "Justified"), Annie Thurman ("The Hunger Games") and Sean Gleeson ("Doctors," "Cold Mountain").

Emmy winner Kyra Sedgwick is one of the show's executive producers, along with Rob Bragin ("Greek," "Murphy Brown"), who also wrote the pilot; Tom Jacobson; Jill Littman; and Emmy winner Alex Graves ("The West Wing," "Game of Thrones"), who also directed the pilot.

The show is set for a 2015 launch.

TNT says in its announcement: "In 'Proof,' Beals plays Dr. Carolyn Tyler, a brilliant surgeon with a caustic edge. Carolyn has suffered the recent, devastating loss of her teenage son, the breakup of her marriage to Dr. Len Barliss (Gleeson) and a growing estrangement from their daughter (Thurman). But Carolyn's own trauma hasn't deterred her from her charitable outreaches, which include helping disaster victims in far-flung trouble spots throughout the world.

"Despite her skeptical, hard-science attitude, Carolyn is persuaded by a cancer-stricken tech millionaire (Modine) to investigate cases of reincarnation, out-of-body experiences, hauntings and other supernatural phenomena. Her goal is to find verifiable proof to life’s greatest questions: Is death truly the end, or is there something else beyond?"

jennifer beals.pngJennifer Beals

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Broadcast Nets Endure a Night of Historically Low Ratings -- With NBC's 'The Voice' and Fox's 'Glee' Among the Casualties

Tuesday night was one NBC and the other broadcast networks might like to forget as far as ratings go, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo, as three of NBC's prime-time shows hit all-time low marks while series on ABC and Fox also sank to new lows.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC's "The Voice," "About a Boy" and "Growing Up Fisher" all fell to series lows. Meanwhile, ABC's "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD" equaled its previous low mark while "The Goldbergs" and "Trophy Wife" set new all-time lows, and on Fox, "Glee" hit a new series low.

CBS wasn't spared, either, as two of its three drama series lost ground from a week ago and "Person of Interest" equaled its all-time low. But when the dust had settled, CBS came away with a win for the night in the key demo -- along with its typically strong performance in total viewers.

CBS's "NCIS" fell two-tenths of a ratings point from a week ago to a 2.3 average in the 18-49 demo, while "Person of Interest" also lost two-tenths, matching its low mark with a 1.7. "NCIS: Los Angeles" defied the downtrend, ticking up one-tenth to a 2.2.

NBC's "The Voice" managed to wind up yet again as the top show of the night, even with a series-low 2.4 average -- off three-tenths from the 2.7 it delivered last week, which was a series low at the time. "Growing Up Fisher" fell two-tenths to a series-low 1.2, while "About a Boy" slipped one-tenth to a series-low 1.5.

One bright spot for NBC was "Chicago Fire," which drifted upward one-tenth from last week to a 1.9 in adults 18-49, winning the 10 p.m. hour among the broadcast nets.

Almost everything on ABC's prime-time schedule also was down, with the lone exception being "Celebrity Wife Swap," which matched the 0.9 it had last week in the 18-49 demo -- but that placed the show a distant third in the 10 p.m. slot. "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD" fell three-tenths to a 1.8, equaling its series low; "Goldbergs" lost four-tenths and set a new series low with a 1.3; and "Trophy Wife" plummeted three-tenths to a series-low 0.7.

Fox was off the slow pace set by its big four counterparts, winding up in fifth place for the night behind Univision. "Glee" slipped one-tenth from a week ago to a 0.8 average in 18-49, a new low mark for the show, while "New Girl" and "The Mindy Project" both showed signs of life. "Girl" ticked up one-tenth to a 1.2 and "Mindy" surged two-tenths to a 1.3.

For prime time overall, CBS pulled out a narrow win in the 18-49 demo while dominating total viewers. In the demo, CBS led the way with a 2.1 average, topping NBC (1.9 average), ABC (1.3), Univision (1.2) and Fox (1.0). CBS chalked up an average of 13.3 million total viewers, well ahead of NBC (7.7 million), ABC (3.7 million), Univision (2.8 million) and Fox (2.3 million).

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Former NFL Player Named as New Host of 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire'

The question of who will be the new host of the syndicated game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" now has its final answer: Former NFL player Terry Crews has the job, with the official announcement coming today, according to a report in USA Today.

Crews, known for his role on Fox's "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," was expected to get the job, as we reported last week. The show will launch its 13th season this fall.

Cedric the Entertainer, who held down the job for a year, announced last week that he was headed out. According to some reports, the change of hosts is related to cost-cutting efforts by the show.

"In addition to Fox's 'Brooklyn,' the enthusiastic and energetic Crews appears in the upcoming film 'Blended,' and his first book, 'Manhood,' comes out on May 20," USA Today notes.

The official announcement includes a statement from Crews in which he says: "I'm beyond thrilled to be joining 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire' and the Disney-ABC family. 'Millionaire' is such a beloved franchise and I can't wait to get started as the new host. In addition to my film projects ... hosting has always been a dream of mine, and I couldn't have asked for a greater opportunity."

Crews earned praise from Disney-ABC Domestic Television President Janice Marinelli, who says in the announcement: "Terry is engaging, endearing, smart, and quick on his feet -- the perfect combination to lead one of the longest-running franchises in game show history."

terry crews 2.pngTerry Crews

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Plug Pulled on Cable Reality Program After Report Surfaces About Hosts

A cable reality program was yanked from the development slate by its cable channel after a report surfaced that the hosts of the home-flipping show, "Flip It Forward," are anti-gay activists, Deadline.com reports.

The show, which had been greenlighted for an October debut on HGTV, was to be hosted by the Benham brothers, David and Jason. But HGTV sent out a brief tweet today saying: "HGTV has decided not to move forward with the Benham Brothers' series."

The news came on the heels of a report by Right Wing Watch.

"Right Wing Watch reported Tuesday that David Benham had led a prayer rally outside of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC, in 2012, in which he told conservative radio host Janet Mefferd that America’s Christian majority must repent for tolerating 'homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation' and 'demonic ideologies tak[ing] our universities and our public school systems.' He also said his brother had joined him in the prayer protest. The group also claimed David leads protests outside of abortion clinics," Deadline reports.

At its upfront presentation in April, where HGTV announced the pickup for "Flip It Forward," the network reportedly said of the show: “After a decade of flipping houses for profit, brothers David Benham and Jason Benham now help families buy the homes they never thought they could afford. In each episode, the guys help a deserving family find a fixer-upper and transform it into their forever home -- with a healthy dose of sibling rivalry between the brothers along the way.”

Deadline notes: "At the same presentation, HGTV also announced it had greenlighted a design competition show from Ellen DeGeneres."

benham brothers.jpgThe Benham brothers

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NBCU Inks Landmark $7.65 Billion Deal for More Olympics Coverage

Updated at 11:15 a.m. PT on May 7, 2014, to include information from BloombergBusinessweek and Reuters.

The International Olympic Committee announced today it has extended its partnership with NBCUniversal in a landmark deal that will keep the Olympic Games on NBC and its affiliated platforms through the 2032 Games.

TheWrap.com reports that the deal is valued at $7.65 billion.

"The network now has the next nine Games locked up across all media platforms, including free-to-air television, subscription television, Internet and mobile," the story reports. "The agreement from 2021 to 2032 is valued at $7.65 billion, plus an additional $100 million signing bonus 'to be used for the promotion of Olympism and the Olympic values between 2015 and 2020,' according to an IOC release."

NBCU already had the Olympics locked in through 2020 in a deal signed in 2011. That deal included the Rio Games in 2016, PyeongChang in 2018 and Tokyo in 2020. Host cities have yet to be named for subsequent Games.

"In addition, NBCU also has acquired the broadcast rights for every edition of the Youth Olympic Games through to 2032. By 2032, NBCU will have covered a total of 23 editions of the Olympic Games, since its first Games broadcast in Tokyo in 1964," TheWrap reports.

In a statement, IOC President Thomas Bach, who was the IOC's lead negotiator on the deal, said: “This agreement is excellent news for the entire Olympic Movement as it helps to ensure its financial security in the long term, in particular future host cities of the Olympic Games, the athletes of the 204 National Olympic Committees and the International Sports Federations.”

NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke, in an internal memo, reportedly called today, the day of the announcement, “one of the most important days in NBCUniversal history.”

Burke's memo cited the ratings for the Sochi Winter Games earlier this year, saying: “In 2014 we not only beat the combined primetime network competition by 45 percent in viewership, but also won every single night. Not one competitive show beat the Sochi Olympics in primetime.”

A bigger question might be how well the Olympics have done for NBC financially. According to a story last month in BloombergBusinessweek, "Calculating profit isn’t as straightforward as subtracting NBC’s investment from the revenue it made at the Olympics; some companies that bought Olympic ads would have spent that money on ads placed in NBC shows. But the [Sochi] numbers compare favorably to past Olympics.

"General Electric (GE), which owned NBC in 2010, said it made $800 million in revenue from the Vancouver Games but lost $223 million overall. Comcast said the 2012 Games [in London] earned slightly more -- $1.2 billion in revenue -- but it also spent significantly more for the broadcast rights because basketball is more popular than curling."

NBC said it broke about even on the London Games. The BloombergBusinessweek story adds: "Comcast, which now owns NBCUniversal, has said for several years that it expected the Sochi Games to be profitable. While it hasn’t definitely declared success, the company did say on [April 22, 2014] that it took in $1.1 billion in revenue from the Games. It spent about $775 million to acquire the rights to the Games, and its total investment was $875 million, according to Bloomberg News."

A Reuters story written just before the Sochi Games made this point: "The biggest boom for NBC, however, won't likely come from Sochi. The Games' large audience will help promote NBC's prime-time lineup, whose ratings have surged so far this year. And it should give a boost to Jimmy Fallon, as he takes over the 'Tonight Show' from Jay Leno on February 17."

That it did, very well.

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MSNBC Apologizes for Tequila Incident

MSNBC is apologizing for an incident this week on one of its shows. Deadline.com reports that the apology concerns a segment on “Way Too Early” in which, during a discussion of the origins of Cinco de Mayo, “Morning Joe” producer Louis Burgdorf shook maracas and pretended to slug tequila.

Host Thomas Roberts talked about the holiday’s history, adding, “It’s also an excuse to drink tequila on a Monday morning at work for Louis.”

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists said the segment showed a “lack of judgment, insensitivity” and was an “attack of the Mexican community.” It added: “The segment clearly proves that diversity is lacking at the ‘Way Too Early’ program. Too often mistakes like these are made because the people making them are not representative of the community the content portrays.”

MSNBC apologized on its website, writing, “On Monday, Cinco De Mayo, ‘Way Too Early’ made sarcastic references to the way some Americans celebrate the holiday. It was not our intention to be disrespectful and we sincerely apologize for the ill-advised references.”

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'Big Bang Theory' Creator Chuck Lorre Takes a Shot at China

“The Big Bang Theory” creator Chuck Lorre used one of his “vanity cards” -- brief messages that are shown at the end of his programs -- to ridicule China for pulling the show from online streaming site Sohu.com last week, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

As previously reported, “The Big Bang Theory” and three other U.S. TV shows were pulled from Chinese streaming sites, although the government didn’t give a reason for the order.

Lorre had his own (sarcastic) idea of what happened, as he described in the vanity card.

“In all likelihood, a gaggle of communists sat in a darkened room and watched a few episodes. I like to think they took notes that were later used to formulate an official document that detailed the corrosive cultural effects caused by the shenanigans of Sheldon, Leonard, Penny, Wolowitz, Koothrappali, Amy and Bernadette. I like to think that during these screenings one of them laughed out loud and was promptly sent to a re-education camp on the outskirts of Urumqi,” he wrote.

He added, “I like to think one of them was reassured by how often the characters on the show eat Chinese takeout. I like to think there’s a Chinese word for shenanigans. Regardless, the whole affair makes me very happy. The overlords of 1.3 billion people are afraid of our sitcom. Exactly what we were going for!"

The article notes that screenshots of the vanity card are being widely shared on social media in China, although those posts have been censored.

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Former NBC News Boss to Oversee 'CBS Evening News'

The former president of NBC News has been hired as the new executive producer of "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley.” TVNewser reports that Steve Capus was named to the post and will also become executive editor of the CBS News unit.

Capus, who will start his new job in July, was president of NBC News from 2005-2013, and prior to that was executive producer of “NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw” and later with Brian Williams. His appointment is a replacement for Patricia Shevlin, who is moving to “60 Minutes.”

The story notes: “Capus will now be competing head-to-head against his friend and former NBC colleague Brian Williams. Capus also produced Williams’ MSNBC show in the late 1990s before moving up the ranks at NBC News.”

steve-capus.jpgSteve Capus

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Larry King Lashes Out at CNN

Larry King had some unkind words for CNN, his longtime employer. In an interview with Capital New York, the veteran talk host took issue with the network’s focus on covering the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft, calling it “absurd.”

“I miss being live, which I did all my life, and I miss the big story, though I will tell you, I am glad I am not at CNN now with this missing plane,” King told the publication. “Because that has been turned into the most absurd news story. It was a great news story and then it went absurd.”

He added, “The problem is that, as they now face, with anybody covering a news story, if they call a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, they have to cover it, because they are committed to it. But now it is absurd, you know? ‘Breaking Supposition.’”

CNN’s focus may have given the network stronger ratings, he adds, but it wasn’t “great news work,” King said. He added, “In that same period of time they had landslides in Washington, they had the ferry boat in South Korea, they had Ukraine, they had the GM recall with 13 people killed, and they are leading with the missing plane.”

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Fox Orders Spielberg Series

Fox has placed a series order for a project from Steven Spielberg. The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that the network ordered “Red Band Society,” which is produced by Spielberg.

The series is set in the pediatric wing of a hospital and is about a group of high school students who become friends. It stars Oscar winner Octavia Spencer from “The Help,” as well as Dave Annable and Charlie Rowe.

"This is one of the most ambitious and unorthodox shows in anyone's development this year," Fox said in an announcement. "It represents a completely inspired way into young soap, a comedic one-hour, a hospital show and a (surrogate) family drama."

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Comedy Central Buys FX Series in Off-Network Deal

Comedy Central has bought the off-network rights to an FX series. Deadline.com reports that the deal covers all existing seasons and commitments for future seasons of the animated comedy “Archer."

The deal is an “elusive basic cable-to-basic cable syndication deal,” the story notes, adding that the deal comes after FX set up the show for an off-network sale last spring when it renewed the series for a sixth and seventh season.

“Archer” will start airing on Comedy Central as soon as May 2015. The deal includes an exclusive window for the show before midnight, while FXX has exclusive rights after midnight, the piece adds.

archer-FX.jpg"Archer"

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Behind-the-Scenes Changes for 'Da Vinci's Demons' as Series Gets Renewal

The Starz historical fantasy “Da Vinci’s Demons” has received a renewal, but changes are being made behind the scenes as the series will have a new showrunner, reports EW.com’s Inside TV.

The renewal makes the show the first original drama series from Starz to make it to a third season since “Spartacus,” the piece notes.

Starz has hired Emmy-winning television veteran John Shiban, who has worked as a writer and producer on shows including AMC’s “Breaking Bad” and Fox’s “The X Files,” the story adds. Creator David S. Goyer is stepping down as showrunner, but will continue as an executive producer with Shiban taking over as showrunner.

“I’ve been a fan of John’s work for some time and I’m excited to add his voice to the mix,” Goyer said in a statement.

The show, which stars Tom Riley as da Vinci, has been drawing about 3.7 million viewers when adding in DVR playback.

john shiban.jpgJohn Shiban

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New Sony TV Project Focuses on Notorious Killer and Con Artist

Sony Pictures TV is adapting “Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade,” Walter Kirn’s autobiographical book based on his friendship with a German con artist who called himself “Clark Rockefeller,” reports Deadline.com.

Kirn and Sheldon Turner will write the adaptation together, with Turner and Jennifer Klein producing through their Sony TV-based Vendetta Productions. The project comes four years after Turner was nominated for an Oscar for his work adapting Kirn’s novel “Up in the Air,” the story adds.

The piece reports: “‘Blood Will Out’ chronicles the 10-year friendship between Kirn and German con artist Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, who went by the name Clark Rockefeller. Gerhartsreiter came to the U.S. in 1979 as a foreign exchange student. He went on to become a fixture in Boston high society for more than a decade after he claimed to be Clark Rockefeller, an heir to the famous dynasty.”

Gerhartsreiter’s real identity was discovered after he kidnapped his daughter during a custody battle, and he was later sentenced to four to five years in prison in 2009, the story says. Lifetime has already made a movie about the case, which starred Will McCormack as Gerhartsreiter.

Gerhartsreiter is reportedly currently in prison in the U.S. serving a sentence of 27 years to life for murder.

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Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter

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Obama Enlisting Prominent Weather Forecasters

President Obama is talking with prominent weather forecasters such as NBC’s Al Roker and ABC’s Ginger Zee as he seeks to make the case that climate change is real and is already impacting the U.S., TheWrap.com reports.

Obama is taking his points to television viewers, following the release of a new report called the National Climate Assessment, which says that climate change is already hurting America.

“Part of the reason for putting forward this assessment -- which involved hundreds of people, experts, businesses, not for profits, and local communities sharing their experience -- is we want to emphasize to the public, this is not some distant problem of the future,” Obama told Roker on an interview that was set to air today, Wednesday.

The story adds: “The president is going to the people because of what he called ‘resistance in Congress’ -- specifically, Republicans who insist that evidence of climate change is inconclusive, despite a near consensus that greenhouse gases are melting the polar ice caps, polluting the air, and otherwise hurting the planet.”

Al Roker.jpgAl Roker

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BBC Trust Chairman Patten Steps Down

BBC Trust Chairman Chris Patten is stepping down from the job. The BBC reports that Patten, who will turn 70 next week, is making the move for health reasons following major heart surgery.

“Appointed in 2011, he had a turbulent tenure, including the Savile crisis and the row over senior staff pay-offs,” the piece adds, referring to the child sex abuse scandal centered around longtime BBC TV presenter Jimmy Savile. 

Patten said he had been hospitalized with chest pains on April 27, and had heart surgery the next day, with doctors advising him that he couldn’t continue to work at the same pace.

"On this basis I have decided with great regret to step down from much the most demanding of my roles -- that of chairman of the BBC Trust," he said. "This is a position that requires and has received from me 100% commitment and has been my priority at all times."

chris patten.jpgChris Patten

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'American Idol' Alum Holds Slim Lead in Congressional Primary

A former “American Idol” runner-up had a slim lead this morning in his effort to become a Democratic nominee for Congress in North Carolina. USA Today reports that Clay Aiken was ahead of former North Carolina Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco by 369 votes, with both Aiken and Crisco receiving about 40% of the votes in the primary election. More than 99% of the vote had been counted.

“I am very confident that we are going to be victorious," Aiken told his supporters.

Still, the Associated Press said early today that the race was too close to call, according to a CBS/AP story.

The winner of the election will challenge Republican U.S. Representative Renee Ellmers in a November election.

Aiken came in second behind Ruben Studdard on "American Idol" in 2003.

clay aiken.jpgClay Aiken

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Miley Cyrus Denies Drug Overdose Rumors

Singer Miley Cyrus, 21, denied rumors that she had been hospitalized after suffering a drug overdose, People magazine reports. Cyrus addressed the topic during a London press conference.

As previously reported, Cyrus canceled performances last month and was hospitalized after she became ill.

“I didn't have a drug overdose. I took some sh---y antibiotics that a doctor gave me for a sinus infection and I had a reaction,” Cyrus said, referring to online rumors about the reason for her illness.

She said that vitamins, yoga and honey had helped her get well again.

"I'm probably the only one on this tour who doesn't drink or smoke before a show, as I take this really seriously," Cyrus said. "It's almost like being an athlete being up here, because if someone was f---ed up, they definitely couldn't do my show."

Miley-Cyrus-2012.jpgMiley Cyrus

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No Joke -- This Must-See Video Clip From the Italian Version of 'The Voice' Is Approaching 50 Million Hits on YouTube, as the Show's Judges Get the Surprise of Their Lives

[The performance of the song is in English. However, after the performance, the judges and the contestant speak Italian. To see English subtitles, after the performance click on the closed caption button on the bottom of the video screen and turn on the subtitles.]

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NBC Now Has Picked Up 6 Shows for Next Season -- Here's the Latest

"NBC is wrapping its first day of new series pickups with an order to another frontrunner, drama pilot 'Odyssey,' which already has backup scripts written and is ready to go," reported our good friend Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com on Tuesday night, May 6, 2014.

The story adds that the pickup of "Odyssey" "brings the number of new NBC series picked up for next season to six: Russian spy thriller 'Allegiance,' CIA drama 'State of Affairs' starring Katherine Heigl, 'Odyssey' and the David Caspe comedy 'Marry Me,' ordered today, and previously picked up comedies 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' (formerly 'Tookan') and 'Mr. Robinson.'

About "Odyssey," Andreeva writes: "The 'Traffic'-like action drama ... was written by Adam Armus and Nora Kay Foster and directed by Peter Horton. An international conspiracy explodes when three strangers’ lives unexpectedly collide -- a female soldier, a corporate lawyer and a political activist."

About "Sate of Affairs" Andreeva says: "Each day the president is faced with hundreds of life-and-death decisions, and to prioritize the biggest international crises facing the country, one top CIA analyst -- Charleston Tucker (Heigl) -- assembles the president’s Daily Briefing."

To read a lot more detail about the NBC pickups, we urge you to click on the link in our first paragraph, above, and read the full version of Andreeva's piece.

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Ben Hoberman, Who Built KABC Radio Into a Talk-Show Format Powerhouse in the 1960s and 1970s -- With Hosts Such as Michael Jackson, Joe Pyne, Bob Grant, Elmer Dills, Toni Grant, Ken Minyard, Bob Arthur and Ray Briem -- Dies at Age 91

"Ben Hoberman, 91, a key figure in the rise of talk radio and former president of ABC Radio, died Saturday in Los Angeles," reports Variety.

The story continues: "Ben Hoberman became general manager of KABC Radio in Los Angeles in May 1960, and within months he began to build a stable of popular talk-show hosts. ... Ratings for the local affiliate increased by 12% within the first six months as Hoberman experimented with the new format. KABC was certainly one of the first stations to program talk radio and may well have been the first; today hundreds of radio stations throughout the world offer talk radio shows."

Some of the many hosts who worked at KABC in the 19 years Hoberman was there include Michael Jackson (no relation to the late singer), Joe Pyne, Bob Grant, Elmer Dills, Toni Grant (no relation to Bob), Ken Minyard, Bob Arthur and Ray Briem.

After Hoberman left KABC he "was appointed president of ABC Radio and relocated to New York City. When he left in 1986, ABC had 14 radio stations -- the maximum then permitted; and six radio networks with 2,000 affiliates, among other properties," Variety says.

The story adds, "Hoberman was the father of entertainment lawyer Thomas Hoberman and movie producer David Hoberman." He also is the father of a daughter, Joanie, the story says.

 

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DirecTV Boss Rains on the Parade of Those Hoping to See the L.A. Dodgers in the Lineup

The CEO of DirecTV had some discouraging words for fans hoping DirecTV and Time Warner Cable will settle their differences and bring TWC's SportsNet LA -- with its L.A. Dodgers package -- to the satellite company's lineup.

Deadline.com reports that DirecTV head man Michael White is holding the line against what he sees as too high a price being demanded by Time Warner.

White "chafes at the price TWC wants, reportedly $4 per month for each subscriber who receives the channel," the story reports, quoting White saying: “It’s a tax on most customers who wouldn’t pay it if they had a choice.”

White is quoted in the story saying that TWC's $8.35 billion, 25-year commitment for distribution rights was "an unprecedented deal above any rational view of the market," particularly in light of the baseball season being only six months long. White made his comments during a conference call with analysts.

Commenting on the loss of DirecTV subscribers in the Los Angeles market because of the Dodgers situation, White said the churn in L.A. has been "immaterial."

But he did offer this ray of hope: “We’d still like to carry the Dodgers. We’re still having discussions with Time Warner Cable about it.”

He added: "We’ll continue discussions and hope we can get to a sensible place.”

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How CNN Rose to the Top of the Cable News Ratings Over the Weekend

CNN found a way to come out on top in the cable news ratings Saturday night, and for a change it wasn't because of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel gave full coverage to the White House Correspondents Dinner and wound up on top both in total viewers and in the key news demo of viewers 25-54 for much of the evening.

"CNN led the cable news charge Saturday night at 10 p.m. when the White House Correspondents Dinner was in full boil," the story reports. "The network flooded the zone with three hours of Nerd Prom, starting at about 8 p.m. ET. MSNBC began its coverage at 9 p.m. Fox News Channel stuck with its regular schedule until 10 p.m., when it switched to a special on the Benghazi investigation. FNC ran the guts of the WHCD -- President Obama’s speech followed by NBCU star Joel McHale -- at midnight."

Among the big three cable news nets, CNN won the 9 p.m. ET hour in the news demo, although Fox News won total viewers, and CNN won both the demo and total viewers in the 10 p.m. hour.

The numbers for 9 p.m. show CNN with 752,000 viewers, including 197,000 in the news demo; MSNBC with 443,000 and 151,000; and Fox News with 1.31 million viewers, the most of the three, but only 137,000 in the demo.

At 10 p.m. it's CNN on top in both measures, with 1.083 million viewers (336,000 in the demo); MSNBC with 846,000 (261,000 in the demo); and Fox News with 922,000 (87,000 in the demo).

"In the 11 p.m. hour CNN and MSNBC crashed -- to 618,000 and 453,000 viewers, respectively. FNC did same, landing at 469,000 viewers for the hour overall," the report notes, adding: "FNC’s replay of the dinner and its speechifying, at midnight, averaged 493,000  viewers (142,000 in demo)."

One network paid even more attention to the dinner than CNN did, Deadline notes. "C-Span had the most comprehensive coverage of the annual Hollywood celebrity petting zoo for Washington press and the government officials they cover," the story notes. "Once again, C-Span’s coverage began with its traditional camera-trained-on-boom-mike coverage of celebs arriving at the hotel and the C-Span LeahyCam. Sadly C-Span is not rated by Nielsen, so those of you who watched on that network are lost to history."

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Fox's '24' Update Opens Against NBC Powerhouse 'The Voice' -- Who Won? Also: CBS's Lineup Has a Historically Bad Night

Fox's eagerly anticipated "24" update "Live Another Day" opened Monday night with a two-hour broadcast that aired against NBC's two-hour "The Voice," and the Fox drama made it interesting but fell a bit short, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "The Voice" was the top-rated show of the night with a 3.0 average rating in the key 18-49 demo. "The Voice" also easily topped "24" in total viewers with 10.76 million.

"24" managed a 2.5 average in the 18-49 demo and 7.97 million total viewers in the head-to-head showdown. The demo average improved to a 2.6 in time zone-adjusted ratings.

Another contender in that two-hour time slot from 8-10 p.m. was ABC's "Dancing with the Stars," which came up short in the demo but won the night in total viewers, averaging 12.74 million. "Dancing" settled for a 1.8 average in 18-49.

NBC's one-two punch of "The Voice" and "The Blacklist" won the night overall. "Blacklist" was second only to "The Voice" in the demo with a 2.7 average, and had a solid 10.61 million total viewers.

ABC's "Castle" equaled its series low in the 18-49 demo with a 1.6 average.

CBS's mix of fresh comedies and repeat programming yielded a distant fourth-place finish among the broadcast nets. Among the network's fresh programs, "2 Broke Girls" delivered a 1.9 average in viewers 18-49, falling four-tenths from a week ago to an all-time low for the series. "Friends With Better Lives" also hit a series low, a 1.6, tumbling three-tenths. And "Mike & Molly" fell four-tenths to a 1.8.

For prime time overall, NBC's preliminary 2.9 average was the best number in the 18-49 demo, followed by Fox (2.5 average), ABC (1.8), CBS (1.3) and Univision (1.2). ABC took the top spot in total viewers with 11.5 million, followed by NBC (10.7 million), Fox (8.0 million), CBS (5.1 million) and Univision (3.0 million).

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Quinn Martin Fixture Paul Wurtzel Dead at 92 -- He Worked Behind the Cameras on Classic TV Series Including 'The Fugitive,' 'The F.B.I.' and '12 O'Clock High'

Paul Wurtzel, a veteran assistant director who was behind the cameras on a string of Quinn Martin productions such as "The Fugitive" and "The F.B.I.," has died. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Wurtzel died April 18 of natural causes at his home in the Hollywood Hills. He was 92.

"His father was 20th Century Fox producer Sol Wurtzel, who produced the Shirley Temple classic 'Bright Eyes' (1934), gave Marilyn Monroe her first onscreen role in 'Dangerous Years' (1947) and discovered actor-turned-director John Ford, who delivered the eulogy at Wurtzel’s funeral in April 1958," THR reports.

Paul Wurtzel's credits included the 1950s series "The Thin Man" and the 1970s detective series "Barnaby Jones," starring Buddy Ebsen.

"Paul Wurtzel grew up in the Hollywood film colony and in the 1930s began working on the Fox Western lot on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Western Avenue during summer breaks from Beverly Hills High School," THR reports. "After two years at UCLA, Wurtzel abandoned his studies and went to work for his father at Fox. He started his career in 1942 as second assistant director on the Laurel & Hardy movie 'A Haunting We Will Go.'"

Wurtzel learned the ropes at his fathers indie company, Sol M. Wurtzel Productions, in the 1940s and became a fixture as an assistant director on B-movies in the 1950s.

"Wurtzel migrated to television, starting as assistant director in 1957 on NBC’s adaptation of 'The Thin Man,' starring Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk as the famed detective couple Nick & Nora," the THR report notes. "He worked as an AD on such other shows as 'Fibber McGee and Molly'; 'The New Breed'; 'I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster,; starring Marty Ingles and John Astin; and three more dramas from Martin: '12 O’Clock High,' 'The Invaders' and 'The Streets of San Francisco.'"

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Britney Spears Hit With Lawsuit, Accused of Breaking Dancer's Nose

Pop singer Britney Spears has been hit with a lawsuit in connection with an incident in which a dancer allegedly broke her nose during production on Spears' music video for "Work Bitch." E! News reports that Spears is accused of battery and negligence.

"In the complaint obtained by E! News, Dawn Noel claims that when Spears arrived for the video shoot in Woodland Hills, Calif., on Aug. 19, 2013, the 32-year-old pop star was 'in a disheveled and confused state," the story reports. "She adds that, 'although the choreography involving Britney Spears was fairly basic, she was having difficulty learning the moves, performing dance steps and following simple directions.'"

The report adds: "Noel says that after about a half hour of rehearsing, Spears 'twirled in an unbalanced and reckless manner, arms extended out to her sides and forcefully backhanded' her directly in the face."

The lawsuit reportedly adds that other dancers heard "a cracking sound" as Noel's nose broke.

"Noel says she saw a doctor later that day and was promised by Spears' reps and the Reign Deer Entertainment company that her medical bills would be paid," the article reports. "However, Noel claims that she was later told that the bills would not be paid, which is why she ultimately filed the suit."

Noel wants a jury trial, E! News reports, adding that she is suing for "serious physical and emotional damages including disfigurement to her nose as well as severe emotional distress and anxiety."

britney-spears.jpgBritney Spears

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NBC Pulls Two Shows Off the Schedule

NBC sent a pretty clear signal to two series that are waiting to find out whether they will be renewed. Deadline.com reports that the network pulled the midseason dramas “Believe” and “Crisis” off the schedule for the last Sunday of the May sweeps period.

The move reinforces the perception that neither show has much hope of being renewed by the network, the report notes. The network pulled the two series for a “Women of SNL” special that will air in their place May 18.

Both "Believe" and "Crisis" have been struggling, the story notes. Both shows drew 1.0 ratings in adults 18-49 in the fast nationals this past Sunday. The report notes that NBC has had a hard time bringing its Sunday night schedule up to speed after losing football at the end of the NFL season.

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Late-Night Talk Show Host Re-Ups With Network

In a late-night talk landscape that was thrown into turmoil with the announcement of David Letterman's retirement plans, one sign of stability has surfaced as Jimmy Kimmel re-upped with ABC for more "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"

Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports: "ABC‘s late-night message to advertisers at the upfronts next week is clear: With all the changes in broadcast and cable, ABC is the epitome of stability. As supporting evidence, the network has extended the contract of its late-night host Jimmy Kimmel for two extra years, keeping him on board through at least January 2017."

Andreeva notes: "Kimmel is in a stronger position than his broadcast rivals -- while they are hosts of late-night franchises, 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!' was created by him for him, almost like Comedy Central’s 'The Colbert Report' and Stephen Colbert. Come next year when David Letterman retires, Kimmel will be the longest-serving broadcast late-night host on the air."

The ABC late-night show launched in 2003, airing first at midnight. It moved into the competitive 11:30 p.m. slot in 2012.

"Kimmel started to make inroads in the young demos, which likely factored into NBC’s move several months later to replace Jay Leno with Jimmy Fallon," the report notes. Andreeva adds: "Fallon has been winning the 11:30 p.m. battle since taking 'The Tonight Show' in February, which may have played a role in Letterman’s decision to retire from CBS’s 'Late Show.'"

jimmy kimmel.jpgJimmy Kimmel

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'We're Really On to Something Here': Are Naked Dating Shows the Next Big TV Trend? And What Started It?

Broadcast and cable programming executives are seeing a flood of pitches for reality shows that star naked people, reports TheWrap.com.

One executive told the publication that he has already seen about a dozen pitches for dating shows featuring naked contestants. “Most of the pitches seem to focus on a similar premise: In an exotic location, a man and a woman -- both unclothed -- size each other up and consider dating,” the piece reports.

The surge appears to have been prompted by the success of Discovery’s “Naked and Afraid,” which tracks a man and a woman as they are placed unclothed in a wilderness and figure out how to survive for 21 days.

VH1 is the first network to greenlight a naked dating show in the U.S., giving an order to “Dating Naked,” which will blur out frontal nudity but show back views, the story reports.

“Yes, I've definitely seen a trend of naked-themed shows,” said VH1 executive vice president of original programming and production Susan Levison. “That's why we were so keen on piloting ours quickly and getting it onto the air. We felt that we're really on to something here, and you obviously always want to be the first one in. I think we are going to be able to achieve that.”

Fox is also reportedly considering a naked dating show, the piece adds.

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Correspondent Who Was Pulled From '60 Minutes' Is Expected to Return to the CBS News Program

The CBS newsmagazine "60 Minutes" is expected to bring back a correspondent who left the show amid controversy over a report on the program. Writing in Variety, Brian Steinberg reports that inside sources say Lara Logan is expected back, although it’s not clear when.

“Logan’s status with the program came into question after the publication of an article in New York magazine which said her return ‘in recent weeks has not appeared certain’ in the aftermath of an embarrassing flub she made in an October 26 segment  about U.S. operations in Benghazi, Libya,” Steinberg writes.

Nothing has changed since Logan and her producer, Max McClellan, took a leave of absence from the CBS show late last year, Steinberg writes, adding, that the plan for her to return remains intact.

Steinberg adds: "Logan’s gaffe came about during the broadcast of a story that hinged on details offered by a security officer named Dylan Davies that turned out to be inaccurate. In the segment, Davies claimed to be an eyewitness to the attack by insurgents that left U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three others dead. The show also failed to disclose the fact that Davies was the author of a book published by sister CBS Corp. unit Simon & Schuster."

lara logan 2.jpgLara Logan

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Why an 'American Idol' Contestant Is Apologizing to Fans

An "American Idol" finalist is apologizing to fans over something he said in an interview. According to The Hollywood Reporter’s Idol Worship, Caleb Johnson, a finalist in the current 13th season of “American Idol,” issued an apology after calling his fans “retards” for suggesting songs for him to sing.

In his apology Johnson said his comments were “juvenile.” The report notes that his comments came after the singer was asked to perform Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” which he wasn’t happy with.

The interview with AfterBuzz TV included a question about Johnson's feelings toward social media, to which Johnson, 23, said: "It gives access to a bunch of retards to talk to me, and I don't really enjoy having to see somebody telling me what song I need to sing. I think at this point in the competition I can pick and choose my own songs and represent me. I don't need 10,000 people telling me 'you should sing this, you should sing that, listen to me.' Fortunately, guys, I'm going to listen to myself, whether you like it or not."

He later wrote on Facebook, “For the record, that juvenile comment I made in the interview was not directed toward my fans but to the wackos that send hundreds of hate messages a day to me ! You guys are amazing and I cannot thank you enough for your support. Sorry if it offended anybody; it was the wrong choice of words. Also, I greatly appreciate it when you guys give me song suggestions but it gets really overwhelming at the volume it comes in, so please understand! Rock on !:)"

Here's a clip of the original interview:

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Beverly Hills Hotel Targeted by Boycott

The Beverly Hills Hotel is the target of an entertainment industry boycott, along with the Hotel Bel-Air, following protests from feminists and gay rights activists. Bloomberg reports that the two facilities, which host a number of high-profile entertainment events, are owned by the Brunei Investment Agency.

Bookings were canceled by nine entertainment industry events to protest the sultanate’s enactment of Islamic criminal law, the Bloomberg story reports.

The law was enacted last week by Brunei, and includes death by stoning for rape, adultery and sodomy. Brunei has drawn criticism from the United Nations for the decision.

The cancellations include the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Global Women’s Rights Awards, which was scheduled for earlier this month and was to include former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno and his wife as co-chairmen of the awards.

The Los Angeles Times notes that Leno joined a protest Monday along Sunset Boulevard across from the Beverly Hills Hotel. Leno told the protesters, “This is 2014, not 1814,” according to the report.

"Organizers have abruptly canceled several events planned for the Beverly Hills Hotel, and big names such as Ellen DeGeneres, Richard Branson and Sharon Osbourne have taken to social media to promote boycotts," the Times report adds.

Other cancellations may come, with the Motion Picture & Television Fund saying it may shift its Night Before the Oscars fundraiser from the Beverly Hills Hotel next year if the law isn’t changed, the Bloomberg story notes.

“We cannot condone or tolerate these harsh and repressive laws and as a result support a business owned by the Sultan of Brunei or a Brunei sovereign fund associated with the government of Brunei,” fund Chairman Bob Pisano, Vice Chairman Mark Fleischer, and CEO Bob Beitcher said in a statement.

Christopher Cowdray, the chief executive of the Dorchester Collection of luxury hotels, which include the properties targeted by the protest, told Bloomberg that the hotels are “autonomously run and in that way not tied to Brunei. Religious or political views have no place in our organization.”

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Supernatural Drama Series Renewed -- and What It Means for a Channel That Is Trying to Go Bigtime

A supernatural drama series has been picked up for a new season after only a few episodes aired. The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that WGN America renewed the historical supernatural drama “Salem,” which is the channel's first original scripted drama.

The announcement comes after only three episodes of the Sunday program have been televised.

“The TV series from Tribune Co.'s WGN America reimagines the infamous Colonial witch trials of the Massachusetts village," the story reports. "‘Salem’ stands as the first player in the network's bid to fashion itself into a top-tier cable network -- with projects landing as the year continues. It's all part of a bigger plan to steer Tribune Co., which also owns the Los Angeles Times, into a profitable TV-centric enterprise."

The show drew 1.5 million viewers in its debut, with its first two telecasts averaging 1.7 million total viewers when three days of DVR viewing are added in.

The second season will include 13 episodes, and will start production later this year for a 2015 premiere.

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Fox's 'New Girl' Promotes Actor to Series Regular

Fox has promoted an actor who has become a big part of its comedy “New Girl” to series regular. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed notes that the promotion for Damon Wayans Jr. isn’t surprising given that he appeared in 17 consecutive episodes during the show’s third season.

The actor appeared in the show’s pilot, but left the comedy after it was ordered to series because ABC’s “Happy Endings” had earned an unexpected second-season renewal, the story notes. After “Happy Endings” came to an end in 2013, Wayans was free to return to “New Girl.”

damon wayans jr.jpgDamon Wayans Jr.

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Cable Channel Orders King Tut Series

The Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun -- widely known as King Tut -- is getting a TV show. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Spike TV is returning to scripted programming with a six-hour event series based on the story of King Tut.

Called “Tut,” the project will look at the life of Tutankhamun, along with what the story says is the “the turmoil, power struggles, political backstabbing, war and murder that existed during King Tut's reign as the youngest Pharaoh to rule ancient Egypt.”

The project is from Muse Entertainment, which is the studio behind the Emmy-nominated “The Kennedys” and “Pillars of the Earth.” “Tut” will debut in 2015.

The order comes as Spike  TV has been developing other event series as it seeks to re-enter scripted programming, and as miniseries are rising in popularity on both cable and broadcast, the piece adds.

tutankhamun mummy mask.jpgMask of Tutankhamun's mummy

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'The Walking Dead' Adds a New Series Regular

The AMC zombie drama “The Walking Dead” has added a new regular cast member. Deadline.com reports that the show is adding “The Wire” actor Seth Gilliam.

Gilliam will play a character listed as Michael Todd, although the story says that “his real name is being kept under wraps,” adding: “Maybe fans could recognize a character from the graphic novel in the description -- Father Gabriel?”  The character is described as having two sides, a friendly one and a darker side.

Gilliam has been recurring on MTV’s “Teen Wolf,” and will continue to appear in that show while taking on the new role on “Walking Dead.”

Seth-Gilliam.jpgSeth Gilliam

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Moviefone Relaunches With TV-Listing Service

The film-listings brand Moviefone -- known for its booming Mr. Moviefone voice -- has relaunched with a new focus on television, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Company Town.

AOL launched the new Moviefone website and apps Monday, with the service offering TV show listings in addition to its movie listings, so that viewers can find "live" programs such as “The Big Bang Theory” along with on-demand viewing options on Netflix and other services.

The relaunch was done in partnership with Whalerock Industries, the Santa Monica media and tech company. The Moviefone brand is also looking for a new voice to represent the service, and offering an open casting call for people who text “Star” to 265265.

“The line between television and film content blurs more every day," Lloyd Braun, chief executive of Whalerock Industries, said in a statement. "Consumers have a dizzying array of choices in determining what and where to watch their favorite TV shows and movies. We believe the new Moviefone will become an essential tool in helping consumers make that choice."

The 25-year-old brand was founded by Russ Leatherman, who was known for his loud recorded greeting, “Hello, and welcome to Moviefone!” The brand, which was bought by AOL in 1999 for $388 million in stock, shut down the phone line in February.

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Batman Coming Back to TV. Will It Be as Popular 50 Years Later? Must-See Preview Video

Batman, which was a huge hit on TV almost 50 years ago, is coming back to TV, although in a much more serious, dramatic form.

The new hour-long drama series, ordered by Fox Broadcasting from Warner Bros. Television, is called "Gotham," and features a young Bruce Wayne. The series also presents the origin stories of Commissioner James Gordon and Gotham’s villains, such as the Penguin, the Riddler and Catwoman, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports.

The cast includes Ben McKenzie of “Southland” as Gordon, along with Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney, the article reports. The pilot was written by Bruno Heller of “The Mentalist” and directed and executive produced by Emmy nominee Danny Cannon.

Back in the 1965-1966 season, ABC debuted "Batman," starring Adam West as the adult Batman and Burt Ward as Robin. It was a very campy half-hour fantasy that aired two new episodes weekly, on Wednesday and Thursday nights. According to "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows," for its first season both nights of the series "ranked among the ten most popular programs of the 1965-1966 season." 

Here's a preview Fox has released of "Gotham"

 

And for old times' sake, here's a short highlight video of the old, campy "Batman" series from the 1960s:

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Spike Lee Developing TV Version of One of His Films. Is It 'Do the Right Thing,' 'She's Gotta Have It,' or 'Inside Man'?

Director Spike Lee developing a television version of one of his feature films. Deadline.com reports that Lee, who has directed more than 40 projects, is working with Showtime on adapting his 1985 debut film “She’s Gotta Have It” for a project that will take a contemporary look at race, gender, sexuality and Brooklyn’s gentrification.

Showtime is working on several half-hour projects that combine comedy and drama, which makes the network a good home for “She’s Gotta Have It,” the piece notes.

“Lee made his breakthrough with ‘She’s Gotta Have It,’ which he shot in 12 days during the summer of ’85 on a budget of $175,000," Deadline notes. "The film, starring Tracy Camilla Johns as  a young, sexually independent Brooklynite who juggles three suitors (Tommy Redmond Hicks, John Canada Terrell, Lee), ended up grossing $7,137,502 at the U.S. box office. It helped usher in the American independent film movement of the 1980s and paved the way for other black filmmakers."

spike-lee.jpgSpike Lee

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'SNL' Personality Defends Jokes About Slavery

A show writer who made her on-screen debut over the weekend on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" is defending her material after getting fallout for jokes about slavery.

TV Guide reports that Leslie Jones appeared during the "Weekend Update" segment as the show's "in-house image expert." She first talked about being single and about People magazine's choice of Lupita Nyong'o as the most beautiful person of 2014.

Us reports: "Jones then talked about slavery, saying, 'Back in the slave days, I would've never been single. I'm 6 feet tall and I'm strong!' She then continued by saying, 'I do not want to be a slave. I don't like working for you white people now, and ya'll pay me. I'm just saying back in the slave days, my love life would've been way better. Master would've hooked me up with the best brother on the plantation.'"

Her routine sparked criticism online, and Jones responded on Twitter.

She reportedly wrote, in part: "It saddens me that BLACK PEOPLE bi--- and moan about the most stupid sh--. I'm a comic it is my job to take things and make them funny. Now I'm betting if Chris Rock or Dave [Chappelle] did that joke or jay z or Kanye put in a rap they would be called brilliant. Cause they all do this type of material. Just cause it came from a strong black woman who ain't afraid to be real y'all mad."

leslie jones.pngLeslie Jones

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ABC and CBS Battle to a Split in Sunday Ratings

ABC and CBS each had something to crow about despite a slow Sunday prime time overall for the broadcast networks. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that ABC won the key 18-49 demo while CBS won total viewers, based on Nielsen overnights.

Fox, meanwhile, had the highest-rated show on broadcast prime in the 18-49 demo, with "Family Guy" delivering a 2.2 average rating, up one-tenth from a week ago. Fox's Sunday lineup was mostly up, with "American Dad" rising one-tenth to a 1.3, "The Simpsons" adding three-tenths to deliver a 1.9 and "Cosmos" climbing two-tenths to a 1.6. "Bob's Burgers" held steady with a 1.1.

ABC got the demo win largely on the strength of "Once Upon a Time" and "Resurrection," with both shows pulling 2.0 averages in 18-49. "Once Upon a Time" was off two-tenths from last week, while "Resurrection's" season finale improved one-tenth from its series low a week earlier.

ABC's "Revenge" matched its 1.3 average in adults 18-49 from last week, and "America's Funniest Home Videos" also held steady, with a 1.6.

CBS could do no better than third place overall in the 18-49 demo, behind ABC and Fox, but easily won total viewers thanks to a large turnout of older viewers for "60 Minutes" (10.32 million total viewers, 1.0 average rating in 18-49), "The Good Wife" (9.09 million total viewers, 1.2 in 18-49), "The Mentalist" (8.52 million total viewers, 1.2 in 18-49) and "The Amazing Race: All-Stars" (8.05 million total viewers, 1.7 in 18-49).

The CBS shows were mostly down in the 18-49 demo. "The Mentalist" matched its series low from a week ago, but "60 Minutes" (down three-tenths), "Amazing Race" (down two-tenths), and "Good Wife" (down one-tenth) all fell.

NBC came in a distant fourth among the big four broadcast nets, as its lineup mostly held steady to a week ago. "Dateline," "Believe" and "Crisis" all delivered 1.0 averages in the 18-49 demo -- all matching last week's numbers. "American Dream Builders" fell one-tenth to an 0.5 average.

For prime time overall, ABC led the 18-49 demo with a 1.7 average, followed by Fox (1.6 average), CBS (1.3) and NBC and Univision (tied at 0.9). CBS won total viewers with 9.0 million, followed by ABC (6.5 million), NBC (3.9 million), Fox (3.6 million) and Univision (2.4 million).

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'American Idol' Winner Is a Victim of Home Invasion

An "American Idol" champion was held at gunpoint and robbed in a home invasion early today. Us Magazine reports that the Fox competition show's season 10 winner, Scotty McCreery, was a victim of a home invasion at an apartment complex in Raleigh, N.C., near the campus of North Carolina State, where McCreery is a student.

"According to the AP, Raleigh Police officers were called to the apartment -- located about a mile from the school's campus -- at around 2 in the morning. According to police, three armed gunmen broke into the home and stole items from the victims, including their wallets, cash, electronics, and more," the story reports.

On a 911 call released by police, a caller can reportedly be heard telling the 911 operator: "They took everything we have." The unidentified caller also says of the incident: "They were like, 'Get down. Get on the floor and give us everything you got.'"

Reportedly, no one was injured in the incident.

"Country singer McCreery, who was raised in the town of Garner, North Carolina, rose to fame in 2011 when he won 'Idol,'" the report notes. "Since winning the reality series, McCreery has released three smash albums and gone on tour with country megastar Brad Paisley. In 2013, McCreery headlined his very first tour, and the talent plans to proceed with his second, 'See You Tonight,' this summer."

McCreery is reportedly a college sophomore.

scotty mccreery.pngScotty McCreery

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Show Starring 'Friends' Actress Gets Series Order From HBO

A comedy series centered on one of the stars of the long-running hit NBC comedy "Friends" has a series order from HBO. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the Lisa Kudrow vehicle "The Comeback" will indeed come back to the pay-cable channel.

HBO announced today that the show, a critical favorite, will be back for a six-episode run in the fall.

"Following weeks of speculation, the comedy starring Emmy winner Kudrow as embattled and fading TV 'it girl' Valerie Cherish will pick up with the character who thinks she has it all figured out this time," the story reports. "The series originally ran for one 13-episode season on the premium cable network in 2005."

Said HBO programming President Michael Lombardo: "The Comeback holds a special place in the hearts of its many fans, including many of us here at HBO. I can’t wait to find out what Valerie’s been up to since we last met.”

lisa kudrow-the comeback-title.jpgLisa Kudrow

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Netflix Series Picked Up for Another Season

An acclaimed Netflix original series has been renewed for another season on the streaming video service. Deadline.com reports that Netflix picked up "Orange Is the New Black" for season three.

The news comes about one month before the June 6 rollout of the show's second season. All of season two's 13 episodes will become available on that date.

The report notes: "The Jenji Kohan-created prison dramedy stars Taylor Schilling, Jason Biggs, [Laura] Prepon and Kate Mulgrew. It is competing in the comedy Emmy category this season after being submitted as a drama (and largely shut out) at the Golden Globes. It has had better luck elsewhere though, earning a Peabody Award and over the weekend winning Outstanding Comedy at the GLAAD Media Awards."

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Report: Katie Couric in Talks to Rejoin NBC's 'Today'

Katie Couric is reportedly in early discussions to rejoin NBC’s “Today,” according to the New York Post. “Couric is a contender to sit in and co-host the No. 2 morning show while Savannah Guthrie is on maternity leave, sources told The Post,” the story notes.

Guthrie is five months pregnant and is expected to take a leave this summer. While the talks are for a temporary role for Couric, it could potentially lead to a larger job if ratings see an improvement, the piece adds.

Couric first sat in the co-anchor chair on “Today” in 1991, when she sat in for Deborah Norville, and later become a full-time anchor when Norville didn’t return. Couric left “Today” in 2006.

Couric has an agreement to serve as “global anchor” for Yahoo!, and it’s possible a deal could involve her work for the Internet company, the story says. Her syndicated show “Katie” will end in June.

NBC didn’t comment, the piece notes.

katie couric.pngKatie Couric

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Which Pilots Are Likely to Get Series Orders?

Which projects among the current crop of TV pilots are likely to be picked up to series? In one assessment of the latest batch of projects, The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed has a rundown of the 10 pilots most likely to land a time slot in the 2014-15 schedule.

The piece notes that there aren’t as many clear leaders on the comedy side as in drama, given that many of the current sitcom projects “tend to have a similar premise.”

ABC’s “Keep it Together” zoomed to the top of the network’s list of pilots after a screening of the comedy for executives, the report notes. It stars Kevin Hart as a middle-class black man struggling to raise his kids.

“How to Get Away With Murder,” also from ABC, is a “sexy and suspense-driven legal thriller” that stars Viola Davis and comes from executive producer Shonda Rhimes, the piece reports. If it’s picked up, Rhimes would have three shows on air, with "Scandal" and "Grey's Anatomy."

Fox’s “Gotham” “instantly became a frontrunner to land on the network's schedule” when it was announced, and remains strong, while the network’s comedy “Cabot College” is one of the season’s more original comedy concepts, the story notes. “Cabot College” comes from Matt Hubbard, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, and may end up as one of Fox’s two or three comedy pickups.

CBS’s “CSI” spinoff is getting a lot of buzz, with Patricia Arquette receiving positive reviews in her return to network television, the story notes. Also at CBS, “How I Met Your Dad,” a comedy spinoff from “How I Met Your Mother,” is likely to receive a series order.

At the CW, “The Flash” -- a spinoff of the network’s “Arrow” -- is likely already on the schedule. Its star, Grant Gustin, earned positive reviews for his appearance as the superhero in two episodes of “Arrow” this season.

Also at the CW is “iZombie,” about a female medical student who is now a zombie and takes a job at a coroner’s office so that she can get access to the brains she needs to eat. The drama is from Rob Thomas of “Veronica Mars.”

NBC, meanwhile, is likely to order “Mysteries of Laura,” based on a Spanish-language drama and starring Debra Messing. The project is a procedural about a homicide detective who juggles a complex family while solving crimes.

NBC is also likely to order “Marry Me,” the frontrunner among the network’s 18 comedies. The project is about a couple, played by Ken Marino and Casey Wilson, who get engaged but realize that “it’s harder than it looks,” the story notes.

shonda-rhimes2.jpgShonda Rhimes

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Fox Responds to Reports That 'Glee' Star Was Fired

Fox responded to rumors that one of the stars of its musical series "Glee" has been fired, saying in a statement that actress Naya Rivera has not been fired from the show, according to EW.com’s Inside TV.

The statement comes after rumors surfaced that Rivera had been fighting with co-star Lea Michele and that she had been cut from the show. That was denied by Rivera’s representative last week, although there’s also a report that the actress has been written out of the May 13 season finale, the story notes.

“She remains under contract to ‘Glee,’” the network said in a statement.

naya rivera.jpgNaya Rivera

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Just Days Before Her Retirement, Barbara Walters Scores a Big 'Get'

Barbara Walters “showed youngsters how it’s done” by landing one last big final “get” just days before her retirement, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

Walters interviewed V. Stiviano, the confidante of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who made racist comments in a taped conversation with her. Sterling’s comments led to a lifelong ban from the NBA and what will likely be a sale of the team.

“While Walters’ impressive list of interview subjects through the years includes such hard-to-get world figures as the Shah of Iran, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Jiang Zemin, Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, she likely will be remembered for her celebrity chats and for landing exclusive interviews with headline-makers everyone is pursuing,” Andreeva writes.

The report adds: “It is fitting that one of her final interviews is with a young woman who is bringing down a powerful man," given that 15 years ago, one of her biggest gets was her sit-down with Monica Lewinsky, who almost brought down President Bill Clinton.

In the interview, Stiviano told Walters she thinks Sterling should apologize, according to TVNewser. Asked whether Sterling will take that step, Stiviano answered, “Only God knows.”

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V. Stiviano

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Four Core 'Grey's Anatomy' Actors Locked In to Remain With the Show

Four core cast members on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” have signed new two-year deals to remain with the medical show, The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

The new contracts mean that Sara Ramirez, Chandra Wilson, Justin Chambers and James Pickens Jr. will stay with the program for possible 11th and 12th seasons. The deals come after stars Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey signed new two-year deals.

The show is undergoing some casting changes this year, with Sandra Oh leaving after the May 15 episode. Also leaving this season are Gaius Charles and Tessa Ferrer, whose contracts weren’t picked up for the 11th season of the show.

The piece reports: “For their part, Wilson (Bailey), Chambers (Alex) and Pickens (Weber) -- along with Dempsey (Derek) and Pompeo (Meredith) -- are the last remaining series regulars who have been with the show since the pilot and are due to return. Wilson also typically directs a few episodes of the series each season. Ramirez joined the show as a recurring player at the end of season two and was upped to regular for season three.”

sara ramirez.pngSara Ramirez

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Second Accuser Steps Forward With Teen Sex Allegations Against Bryan Singer

"X-Men" director Bryan Singer has been named in a second lawsuit alleging sexual assault, The Daily Beast reports. Singer is already facing a lawsuit accusing him of sexually assaulting a teenage boy in California and Hawaii.

The new suit says Singer and Broadway producer Gary Goddard sexually assaulted a British teen, the story reports.

"Singer was already accused by the lawyer for Michael Egan, 31, of allegedly sexually assaulting and physically abusing Egan in a series of incidents in Hawaii and California as a teenager," the story reports. "The new lawsuit filed by Egan’s attorney, Jeff Herman, alleges that Singer and Broadway producer Gary Goddard sexually assaulted a British teenager.

The man filing the suit is referred to in the document as “John Doe No. 117,” the report notes.

"According to the complaint, Singer told the teenager to sit on top of him and masturbate, that he wanted to the teenager to ejaculate on him," the piece reports.

Attorneys for Singer and Goddard have strongly denied all the allegations against the men, as we reported previously.

"Bryan Singer himself claimed he was the victim of a 'sick, twisted shakedown.' His attorney said the new charges were 'completely false,'" the story reports.

"According to the lawsuit, which Herman intends to officially announce [today, Monday] at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles at 2 p.m., Goddard first contacted the teenager via social media when he was 14. The producer allegedly told the young man he was good-looking, and that he knew people in London and Hollywood who could help him get work in his acting career. One of those people, Goddard allegedly added, was Singer," the story reports.

The report adds: "When the teenager was 14 or 15, the suit contends, Goddard communicated that he loved John Doe. According to the lawsuit, he also 'convinced' the boy to send him nude photographs of himself, video of him masturbating, and participated in a webcam session where both were nude and Goddard was masturbating. Later, when the boy was 15 or 16, Goddard insisted he strip and they lay on a bed naked and kissed, the suit alleges. On another occasion he allegedly 'plied' the teenager with alcohol and 'engaged him in anal intercourse,' according to the court filing."

Alan Grodin, Goddard's attorney, reportedly sent an email to The Daily Beast in which he said: “It is a shame that the specious claim made by Herman in the Egan case has resulted in this new claim that we note is over 10 years old.”

"Grodin said he and Goddard would fully respond to the latest suit when they had properly assessed it," the story reports, adding that Grodin said: “For now we will say the claims are denied and Gary will vigorously defend.”

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HBO Rock 'n' Roll Drama From Martin Scorsese Taps Sitcom Star

A well-known TV actor known mainly as a sitcom star has joined the HBO rock ’n’ roll drama from executive producers Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger. TheWrap.com reports that the pilot has added Ray Romano to the cast.

Romano will play Zak Yankovich, described as the confidante of Bobby Cannavale’s Richie Finestra, a music industry executive, and the promotions head at the record label where they both work.

“The project, which has the working title ‘The Long Play,’ is set in 1970s New York and explores the drug- and sex-fueled music business as disco and punk were breaking out, through the eyes of record producer Finestra,” the story notes.

The network hopes to start production this summer.

Romano is best-known for his Emmy-winning role on the long-running CBS comedy "Everybody Loves Raymond," and for the TNT series "Men of a Certain Age."

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'Grey's Anatomy' Crew Member Files Lawsuit

A crew member on “Grey’s Anatomy” is suing ABC Studios and Disney-ABC International Television, alleging he was dismissed for speaking out about “a pattern of pervasive gender discrimination and harassment perpetrated” by the drama’s director of photography, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The lawsuit, filed by best boy grip Timothy Day, claims that director of photography Herb Davis showed contempt for female workers and allegedly “misused his position of authority to subject these female directors to verbal abuse and inferior terms and conditions of employment.”

The suit claims that starting in the eighth season of the show, Davis showed “antipathy toward female directors and other female staff who were assigned to high-level positions within the production.” The lawsuit also claims that Davis made sexist jokes about women and questioned their competence, and alleges that Davis subjected female directors Debbie Allen, Allison Liddi Brown and Susan Vaill to discrimination.

Day alleges he complained to producers Jeff Rafner and Rob Corn, as well as Human Resources, and that his contract was not renewed the next season.

“A spokesman for Disney/ABC said he was not aware of the suit and was looking into it,” the story notes.

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HBO's 'True Blood' Makes One of Its Last Major Cast Additions

HBO’s “True Blood,” which is entering its seventh and last season, has made one of its final major casting additions with Will Yun Lee, reports Deadline.com.

Lee will play Mr. Gus, a Japanese businessman who lives in Texas and who is looking for revenge, the story says. The actor recently co-starred in “The Wolverine” with Hugh Jackman, and has a supporting role in Paul Feig’s “Spy.”

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Veteran Costume Designer Dies -- He Designed Those Extravagant Costumes for Liberace and Worked With the Supremes, Nancy Sinatra and Others

A longtime costume designer who was behind Liberace's trademark extravagant costumes has died, reports the Los Angeles Times. Michael Travis, 86, died Thursday.

Travis’ nephew, George Lavdas, said that the designer was hospitalized last month with heart problems and other ailments, but wanted to spend his last days at his home in Studio City, where he died.

Travis was the costume designer for the 1960s comedy hit “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” and for stars including Diana Ross and the Supremes and Nancy Sinatra.

The story adds: “But he's best known for Liberace's lavish outfits -- many with bejeweled capes and matching boots -- that played a prominent role in the entertainer's shows, maybe more than the piano playing. ‘In Michael, Liberace found someone who could realize his dreams and bring them to life on stage,’  said Connie Furr Soloman, co-author of the 2013 book ‘Liberace Extravaganza!,’ on the entertainer's costumes.”

Liberace’s costumes were so covered in jewels, beads and other materials that they sometimes weighed more than 100 pounds, the story notes. The most extravagant costume from the pair, who started working together in the 1970s and worked together for 13 years, was the 1979 “flame” costume that included small mirrors and 1,600 small lights.

In a 1997 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Travis said, “We were working on the best at the end.” Liberace died in 1987.

Other artists for whom Travis designed costumes reportedly included Dionne Warwick, Wayne Newton, the Temptations and Connie Stevens.

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Michael Travis

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'Family Guy' Producer -- an 'Up and Coming Irreverent Voice' -- Signs 20th Century Fox TV Deal

Aaron Lee, a co-executive producer on “Family Guy,” has signed an overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV, which produces the animated series, reports Deadline.com.

Before working on “Family Guy,” he served as a supervising producer on NBC’s “The New Normal” and also worked in the same capacity on the “Family Guy” spinoff “The Cleveland Show,” the story notes.

“Aaron’s a fantastic comedy writer who is incredibly versatile -- he’s equally adept in live action, single cam, multi-cam, and animation,” 20th TV Chairman and CEO Gary Newman said. “He’s just a hugely funny, up and coming irreverent voice.”

 

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Lifetime Developing Brainy Competition Show With Mensa

Lifetime is working on a show with the American arm of Mensa, the high IQ society, which will feature gifted children taking part in a national intelligence competition, The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

The show has received an eight-episode order and will tape over the summer. The young contestants will compete in tests of logic, history, memory, science, math, and more.

Casting for the show, which is based on a U.K. program, is currently under way.

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With Back-to-Back Hit Series Starting in 1958, He Became One of the Best-Known TV Actors of the 1960s and 1970s. Efrem Zimbalist Jr. Dies at 95

Actor Efrem Zimbalist Jr. has died. He was 95 and died Friday, April 2, 2014, at his ranch in Solvang, Calif., reports The New York Times.

The Times story reports: "His son, Efrem Zimbalist III, confirmed the death, saying that his father had been outside watering his lawn when a handyman found him lying in the grass."

The Times also says: "Mr. Zimbalist personified the suave and unflappable leading man as an Ivy League-educated private eye on the lighthearted '77 Sunset Strip' and as a stalwart agent who always got his man on 'The F.B.I.,' which ran for nine seasons and made him a household name. 'The F.B.I.' was unquestioning in its support of the agency it depicted, and both on screen and off, Mr. Zimbalist became its unofficial symbol."

"77 Sunset Strip" started in October 1958, and starred Zimbalist Jr. as detective Stuart Bailey.

Says the Times obituary, "He played a blinded airline pilot in the film 'Airport 1975' and spoofed his own sophisticated image in the comedy 'Hot Shots!' (1991). His most memorable movie appearance was as Audrey Hepburn’s husband in the 1967 thriller 'Wait Until Dark.'"

One of Zimbalist's daughters is Stephanie Zimbalist, who co-starred with Pierce Brosnan and Doris Roberts in the TV series "Remington Steele."

Adds The Times: "Mr. Zimbalist’s second wife, Loranda Stephanie Spalding, died in 2007. In 2012, his daughter from his first marriage, Nancy, died of cancer.

"Besides his daughter from his second marriage, Stephanie, and his son, Mr. Zimbalist is survived by four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren."

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Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

 

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Jack Bauer is Back in the '24' Reboot 'Live Another Day.' Is It Worth Watching?

To find out what TWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross has to say about the new "24" reboot, please click here.

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NBC News Shakes Up the White House Beat

NBC News is shaking things up among its on-air personalities, Variety reports, including naming a new senior White House correspondent.

"NBC News said Chris Jansing would leave her current post at MSNBC and return to NBC News full time as the news unit’s senior White House correspondent. Peter Alexander, the current White House correspondent, has been named national correspondent for NBC News," the story reports.

The report adds: "Both Jansing and Alexander will work as part of a unit that also comprises Chuck Todd, the NBC News Political Director and Chief White House Correspondent, and Kristen Welker, who will continue to report for 'NBC Nightly News' and 'Today.'”

Jansing currently hosts the daytime program “Jansing and Co.” on MSNBC, and the cable channel will be searching for her replacement.

In a statement, Deborah Turness, president of NBC News, said: “In addition to enhancing our coverage, we hope that this new structure will also allow Chuck Todd to dedicate more of his time to the signature razor-sharp analysis and expertise that our audiences can’t get enough of. Chris and Peter, along with Kristen Welker, give us a powerful ensemble covering the White House as we approach the midterms and the 2016 presidential elections.”

Variety adds: "Jansing joined NBC News in June 1998, and has anchored 'Jansing and Co.' on MSNBC since October 2010. She anchored MSNBC’s coverage of the terrorist attacks on September 11 as the events unfolded. Alexander joined NBC News in 2004, and has served as White House Correspondent since December 2012."

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Chris Jansing

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Video: Why a 'Wheel of Fortune' Contestant Has Gone Viral

The long-running game show “Wheel of Fortune” hosted a contestant whom the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker calls the show's “first inspirational contestant in quite awhile.”

The contestant is Trent Girone, a 21-year-old resident of Peoria, Arizona, who describes himself as a “Wheel of Fortune” fanatic. Girone is said to be "Wheel's" first special needs contestant.

“Girone has had nine brain surgeries and has both Asperger's and Tourette's syndromes, but that didn't stop him from taking early control of the wheel by successfully guessing the first puzzle, ‘a smashing success,’” the article notes.

It continues, “Girone ultimately didn't win the game -- he hit the dreaded Bankrupt slot -- but he won viewer hearts. He became a Twitter trend with #TeamTrent that made his appearance into a viral sensation.”

Here's a video report from ABC News:

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TV Episode Being Re-Edited After Deaths of Two People Involved With the Show

An episode of a cable TV series is being re-edited following the deaths of two people who have been featured on the show. Deadline.com reports that National Geographic Channel will add a tribute to the two men to an upcoming episode of "Alaska State Troopers."

The men, Sgt. Patrick Johnson and Trooper Gabriel Rich, have appeared on the show in the past, but were reportedly not filming when they were killed this week in a confrontation in a remote Alaskan village.

"The two men, who were among an ensemble of troopers who participated in the series, had not been scheduled to appear in future episodes. 'Alaska State Troopers' had returned to the network on April 10 for its sixth season. A NetGeo rep says the network is going through its schedule of franchise repeats to pull episodes that featured the two men, out of respect for their families," the story reports.

In a statement, the channel said: “National Geographic Channel is incredibly saddened to learn of the loss of two Alaska State Troopers yesterday in the  village of Tanana, Alaska. We have a long and proud association with the troopers, and consider them a member of our extended channel family. We send our deepest condolences to their families and the entire Alaska State Trooper force."

Deadline adds: "Rich appeared in six episodes of the reality series, in 2012 and 2013; Johnson appeared in four episodes from 2011 to 2013, according to press reports of the shooting deaths that occurred Thursday in Tanana, located 130 miles west of Fairbanks and 281 miles north of Anchorage."

The report also notes: "Fairbanks NBC affiliate KTVF reported that the officers had gone to the village to follow up on a report from the previous night of someone brandishing a gun. The Alaska Dispatch’s website reported they were shot after an unarmed village public-safety officer called for backup while dealing with an altercation involving the sale of a couch. The shooting of the two men led to a lengthy standoff with heavily armed officers."

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Viewership Surges 237% for First Round of NBA Playoffs on NBA TV

NBA TV reports an audience surge for the current first round of the NBA playoffs, including the channel's most-viewed telecast of all time in Game 6 of Indiana vs. Atlanta.

Turner announced that viewership is up 237% over the comparable playoff coverage a year ago. Additionally, NBA.com and NBA Mobile chalked up double-digit audience growth across all key metrics.

"NBA Digital has delivered unprecedented audience growth through its first-round coverage of the 2014 NBA Playoffs with NBA TV netting its most-watched game coverage of all time and its two most-viewed telecasts ever," the company announced.

The announcement adds: "NBA TV’s seven originally produced live game telecasts averaged 720,000 total viewers to register the network’s most-viewed NBA Playoff coverage of all time and a 237% increase over the comparable first round coverage last year. The network’s presentation of Game 6 featuring the Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks on Thursday, May 1, produced NBA TV’s most-viewed telecast ever with an average of 1,071,000 total viewers.

"The Pacers/Hawks game peaked with 1,978,000 total viewers from 9:30-9:45 p.m. ET, the most-watched quarter hour in the network’s history. NBA TV’s Pacers/Hawks telecast surpassed the mark set two days earlier (Tuesday, April 27) -- Memphis vs. Oklahoma City, Game 5 -- with an average of 939,000 total viewers."

Four game telecasts were up triple digits from the comparable games a year ago, the company noted, "including the aforementioned Grizzlies/Thunder Game 5 (up 452%), along with the Atlanta Hawks/Indiana Pacers Game 5, on Wednesday, April 28 (up 227%), the Pacers/Hawks Game 3 on Thursday, April 24 (up 209%) and the Dallas Mavericks/San Antonio Spurs Game 2 on Wednesday, April 23 (up 186%)."

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NBC Special Delivers a Ratings Boost for the Network

A special prime-time broadcast gave NBC a ratings boost as the network matched its best Thursday night of the season, not counting the Olympics or "The Sound of Music Live!" special. Based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo, NBC averaged a 1.7 rating for prime time, airing the "iHeart Radio Music Awards."

The program ran from 8-11 p.m., delivering a number that equaled the mark NBC hit previously when it aired a special episode of "The Voice," TVbytheNumbers.com reports. But it wasn't good enough to win the night, as CBS pulled a 2.2 average in the 18-49 demo to claim the top spot.

CBS continued to get big numbers for "The Big Bang Theory," even as the show slipped slightly. "Bang" came up with a 4.4 average in 18-49 to place as the top show on broadcast prime by a wide margin. The number was off 2% from a week ago.

The rest of the CBS lineup was also mostly down. "The Millers" dipped 13% from a week ago to a 2.1 average in the 18-49 demo; "Two and a Half Men" also delivered a 2.1, off 16%; "Bad Teacher" plunged 29% from the premiere to a 2.1; and "Elementary" held steady with a 1.6.

Following a "Grey's Anatomy" rerun (0.9 average in 18-49), ABC rolled out a new "Grey's" featuring the return of Isaiah Washington, with the show ticking up 13% to a 2.6 after hitting a series low a week ago. "Black Box" failed to gain traction in the 10 p.m. slot, slipping 13% from the premiere to a 1.3 average.

Fox continued to see "American Idol" hit low marks. Thursday's half-hour installment sank 17% from a week ago to a 1.5 average in the 18-49 demo, a series low. "Surviving Jack" equaled its 1.0 from a week ago, and "Hell's Kitchen" slipped 6% to a 1.6.

For prime time overall, CBS's 2.2 average was the best number in adults 18-49, followed by NBC (1.7 average), ABC (1.6), Fox (1.4) and Univision (1.1). CBS was well ahead of the pack in total viewers, averaging 9.4 million to lead ABC (6.1 million), NBC (5.4 million), Fox (4.9 million) and Univision (2.9 million).

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TV Personality Caught in Uproar Over N-Word

A personality on a popular TV show is caught in an uproar after he allegedly used the N-word during a taping of the show. CNN reports that the controversy is centered on Jeremy Clarkson, host of BBC's "Top Gear."

Footage of Clarkson using the racial slur war reportedly posted online by the U.K. publication The Daily Mirror.

"Clarkson mumbled the N-word while reciting the children's nursery rhyme 'eeny, meeny, miny, moe' to choose between two cars. That version of the take was never aired," CNN reports. "Clarkson posted an online explanation Thursday in which he said he was 'begging for forgiveness' -- and argued that he had done everything he could to avoid using the word."

Said Clarkson: "Ordinarily, I don't respond to newspaper allegations, but on this occasion, I feel I must make an exception."

"Clarkson said that in filming the section a couple of years ago, he was very keen to avoid using the offensive term in a version of the nursery rhyme and mumbled it on two takes before replacing it with the word 'teacher' on a third," CNN reports.

Clarkson added: "When I viewed this footage several weeks later, I realized that in one of the versions, if I listened very carefully with the sound turned right up, that I had actually used the word I was trying to obscure.

"I was mortified by this, horrified. It's a word I loathe, and I did everything in my power to make sure that that version did not appear in the program."

The report notes that Clarkson contacted the production office to make sure a different take made it to air.

"Clarkson initially denied the report by the Mirror, tweeting, 'I did not use the n word. Never use it. The Mirror has gone way too far this time,'" the CNN report notes, adding: "But after the newspaper posted the footage in question online and amid calls from some quarters for his resignation, the presenter was forced to backtrack. He posted his video message less than 12 hours after his initial denial."

BBC issued a statement in which it said: "Jeremy Clarkson has set out the background to this regrettable episode. We have made it absolutely clear to him, the standards the BBC expects on air and off. We have left him in no doubt about how seriously we view this."

jeremy clarkson.jpgJeremy Clarkson

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Why a Night That Has Traditionally Been Seen as a Dumping Ground Is Finally Starting to Catch On

A night of prime time that was traditionally thought of as the place where struggling shows went to die is beginning to show signs of life. USA Today reports that the networks are experiencing a turnaround on Friday nights.

“Hawaii Five-0,” now paired with “Blue Bloods” on CBS’s Friday night prime-time schedule, has increased its audience by 11%. NBC’s “Grimm” and ABC’s “Shark Tank” are also catching on with young-adult viewers and match shows airing on more popular nights, the piece reports.

The piece quotes Glenn Geller, who oversees returning programs for CBS, saying: "We've had tremendous success this year" with the combination of "Five-0" and 'Blue Bloods." "Every network has a little something to crow about, and it's great for network television. Audiences show up for good TV, and there's a lot to choose from on Friday night."

Fridays tend to draw an older crowd, and movie studios may not pay as much to air an ad on that night, given that they hope their audience is actually at the theater, the story notes.

“But networks can charge advertisers for viewing up to three days after a show's initial broadcast, and with DVR playback peaking on weekends, series that run late in the week benefit financially from a delayed ratings bump,” the article reports.

The piece also notes: “Although several Friday shows could stand ratings improvement, the night doesn't appear to be headed in the direction of Saturdays, the week's least-watched night, which hasn't featured broadcast scripted programming in about a decade and instead is mostly a wasteland of repeats.”

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Longtime Producer on NBC's 'Meet the Press' Defects to ABC's 'This Week'

NBC’s “Meet the Press” has had a setback with the departure of a longtime producer. The New York Post’s Page Six reports that Chris Donovan left the show after 12 years to work instead for ABC’s “This Week."

The departure comes amid a ratings slump for “Meet the Press,” which is hosted by David Gregory. As previously reported, Gregory has said the show is fighting “like hell” to improve its viewership.

The story reports: “Donovan, who started at ABC last week, was fed up with embattled Gregory and the direction of 'Meet the Press,' sources tell Page Six, which has sunk to third place in the ratings, behind CBS’s 'Face the Nation' and ABC’s 'This Week.'”

Donovan told the publication, “I had an incredible run at ‘Meet the Press,’ and left only because I was given an amazing opportunity at ABC News. Any suggestion that I was mistreated is not true. I have a great relationship with David.”

And Gregory said: “I think the world of Chris Donovan, and I know, having spoken to him today, that he did not say nor does he feel what is being attributed to him.”

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Columbia Records Drops 'Glee' Star Amid Rumors of Turmoil on the Fox Show

One of the stars of the Fox musical series “Glee” has been dropped from her deal with Columbia Records. Billboard.com reports that the company dumped Naya Rivera, whom Columbia signed in 2011.

The actress, who plays Santana Lopez on the Fox show, hadn’t released a full-length record with the label, although she was one of the first actors from "Glee" to sign a solo record deal, the story notes. Her debut single, “Sorry,” failed to land on the Hot 100 chart, the piece notes.

Rumors have surfaced that Rivera was fired from “Glee,” although her representatives have denied that, as previously reported.

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CNN Cuts Jobs as It Restructures Some Units

CNN cut positions Thursday as part of a reorganization of its digital and television units. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the network laid off about 50 employees, mostly in New York.

Positions were also cut in Atlanta, Los Angeles and Washington, the story adds. CNN Digital and CNN Money lost 28 positions, although the network plans to add 22 new cross-platform jobs in the CNN Money unit, which will be filled by current employees, the report notes.

“The several dozen employees whose positions were cut or reassigned will be able to apply for other roles and the total number of staff at the network will remain roughly the same, [a] network insider said. Staff from the news-gathering division and libraries were also affected,” the story reports.

The CNN Money website is planning to separate Fortune magazine on June 1, given the planned Time Inc. spinoff from Time Warner. Both Money and Fortune currently run from the same CNN Money website.

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Emmy-Winning Comedy Series Renewed

An Emmy-winning comedy series has been picked up for a sixth season. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel Adult Swim renewed the live-action series “Childrens Hospital.”

The series, from creator and executive producer Rob Corddry, will start filming the new season this summer in Los Angeles, with plans to air it starting in 2015.

“We’re placing the ‘Childrens’ gang safely back in their hospital next season, having spent last season in Japan, so fans can expect the kind of tomfoolery that endeared them to Childrens Hospital back when they were youngsters,” Corddry said.

Rob Corddry.jpgRob Corddry

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A&E Bringing Back Talk Show

A&E is bringing back a special talk show focused on one of the cable network's drama series. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the channel will revive “Bates Motel: After Hours” for the show’s May 5 season finale.

The talk show has executive producer Carlton Cuse on tap, as well as the cast, which includes Vera Farmiga and Nestor Carbonell, the story notes.

“The first airing of ‘After Hours’ fared well in the ratings, though it did not get a direct lead-in from its parent series. The March 3 premiere fetched 719,000 viewers after an episode of the now-shuffled ‘Those Who Kill,’” the piece reports.

“Bates Motel” has been renewed for a third season, which will air next year.

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Sean Combs Says His Revolt TV Was 'Used as a Pawn' by MSG in Fuse Sale

Rapper Sean Combs said his Revolt TV was “used as a pawn” in the auction for Fuse, with owner MSG using his company to bid up the price. Deadline.com reports that Combs made the comments during a panel at The Cable Show.

Jennifer Lopez’ NuvoTV agreed to buy Fuse last month, after Combs' $200 million bid in March reportedly fell short, the story notes.

“It’s cool. That’s the way business works,” Combs said.

He added that he’s optimistic about Revolt, with a goal to make it “the No. 1 brand in music worldwide.” He said Revolt could be available on more than 1 billion devices in five years, as young consumers jump onto new technologies.

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Stephen Hawking Developing Children's Animated TV Series

Scientist Stephen Hawking -- the author of the best-selling “A Brief History of Time” -- is developing a computer-animated television series based on the “George Greenby” book series he wrote with his daughter, Lucy Hawking, Variety reports.

The project comes from Nerd Corps Entertainment, which plans 26 half-hour episodes of the comedy-adventure series. It looks at science and physics through the eyes of 11-year-old George Greenby and his friend Annie Bellis, the piece adds.

“The joint mission with Nerd Corps presents a truly exciting opportunity to engage young viewers with science through spectacular visual entertainment and dramatic storytelling. We are thrilled to be working with Nerd Corps and look forward to developing the series together,” Lucy and Stephen Hawking said in a statement.

stephen-hawking.jpgStephen Hawking

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Animal Planet Wades Into 'Sharknado' Waters

Animal Planet wants to stir up the kind of buzz and eyeballs that Syfy found with its TV movie "Sharknado," which became a cult sensation.

The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that Animal Planet is turning to killer lampreys to try to emulate that success. The network has set a May 25 airdate for “Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys,” an original movie from the Asylum, which is the studio that produced “Sharknado.”

Like “Sharknado,” which stars Ian Ziering, "Blood Lake" will also feature an alumnus of “Beverly Hills 90210,” with Shannen Doherty slated to star as a woman battling hungry lamprey eels, the story notes. The project will also feature Christopher Lloyd and Jason Brooks.

The movie will air as part of Animal Planet’s Monster Week, which will include the season finale of “River Monsters” and a project called “Man-Eating Zombie Cats.”

shannen doherty.jpgShannen Doherty

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'Nashville' Producer Signs First-Look Deal With CBS TV Studios

“Nashville” executive producer R.J. Cutler has signed a first-look development deal with CBS Television Studios, reports TheWrap.com.

The Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning director will develop scripted projects for the production company, while he also retains a first-look deal with Showtime.

“I'm so thrilled to be working with David Stapf, Julie McNamara and all the talented people at CBS Studios,” Cutler said. “We've had such a great time developing material over the past couple of years that it just seemed a natural transition to make CBS Studios my scripted television home. Can't wait to get started on creating a new series together.”

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James Cameron, Director of Mega-Hits 'Avatar' and 'Titanic,' Hooks Up With Creator of Starz' 'Da Vinci's Demons' for Cameron's Next Feature Film. The Movie Will Be a Remake of a 1960s Sci-Fi Classic

David Goyer, who created the Starz TV series "Da Vinci's Demons," is joining forces with James Cameron on his next project, reports The Hollywood Reporter in an exclusive story.

The story says that Goyer, who has also "guided the screen story for 'The Dark Knight' trilogy and 'Man of Steel,' has been tapped to write the treatment for the remake of the 1966 sci-fi classic ['Fantastic Voyage'], which is being made by Fox and Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment."

The article continues: " 'Voyage' has long been in development and has seen many a scribe come and go, Shane Salerno, Cormac and Marianne Wibberly, and Laeta Kalogridis among them.

Cameron directed the mega-hits "Avatar" and "Titanic."

A "Fantastic Voyage" remake "has been quiet since 2011, but Goyer's involvement kick-starts and will re-engineer what the studio and producers hope to be an event-sized tentpole," the story reports. "It is also now placing the project on the fast track."

The original "Fantastic Voyage," released in 1966, is about a group of scientists who are shrunk and injected into a person's body.

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OMG: Scientist Discovers an Actual 'Love Bug' -- Virus Makes Crickets Have Sex More Often (whether or not they are in a VW Beetle). It's Our Must-Read Non-TV Story of the Day

"Imagine if there were a virus that could get inside you and dial up your libido, so that you all of a sudden start mating more (more frequently and with more partners), so that the virus -- the tricky, tricky, clever, little virus -- could transmit itself through your lovemaking to somebody else, then somebody else, and somebody else after that.

So writes Lulu Miller on the website of NPR.

The story adds: "Shelley Adamo and her team at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, have just discovered a virus that seems to have an effect kind of like that ... in crickets. It's called iridovirus."

Miller notes: "Sure enough, the males [infected with the virus] were increasing their mating behavior. It took them only three minutes, after a female entered the arena, to start singing their courtship song, as compared with the 10 minutes it usually takes. And the infected females -- who usually decrease mating behavior when sick with a virus -- were just as raring to go as they usually are."

The article reports: "The virus (which is highly contagious) seems to need the crickets to mate. Without the mating, the virus can't hop from creature to creature. Interestingly, it isn't actually transmitted through the insemination -- instead, the virus seems to pass from one cricket's antennae into the other's mouth."

The virus turns the cricket's guts blue in color, and the infected crickets usually die within a few weeks.

Miller writes: "When I asked Adamo if a virus like this could ever make its way up the food chain and affect the mating behavior of humans, she was clear that no evidence of that has been shown.

"Though one thing that struck her, she told me, in reading about sexually transmitted infections, is that so many of them tend to be asymptomatic for years. She can't help but wonder, she says, if that could be evidence of the virus (already, quietly) manipulating us. That is, could it be interfering in some way -- preventing us from sending the usual signals of pain, swelling, headache, fever, loss of libido that usually occur when we're sick? Instead, even as we're infected, could it be the virus that's keeping us feeling healthy, up and at 'em and winking at the curious stranger on the street?"

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By Jiminy, crickets need to watch out what they wish for...
 

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Onetime Ratings Juggernaut 'American Idol' Notches an All-Time Performance Low

CBS took a win in the prime-time ratings Wednesday night as Fox's "American Idol," once the dominant show on broadcast TV, continued to suffer viewer erosion, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that CBS's "Survivor" again beat "Idol" in head-to-head competition, with "Survivor" drawing a 2.2 average rating in the 8 p.m. hour in viewers 18-49 -- down 4% from a week earlier -- while Fox's two-hour "Idol" fell 14% to a 1.8 average, an all-time low for an "Idol" performance show.

CBS also scored a 2.2 average in 18-49 for "Criminal Minds," off 4% from its most recent original episode and equaling a series low. "CSI" climbed 6% to a 1.8.

Third-place NBC was pre-empted for NBA playoff coverage in Portland, meaning its results are subject to more than the usual adjustments. In preliminary returns, "Revolution" rose 8% from its most recent installment to register a 1.4 average in the 18-49 demo and "Chicago PD" -- with a crossover story line from "Chicago Fire" -- was up 19% with a 1.9, while "Law & Order: SVU" fell 14% to a 1.8.

ABC had Wednesday's top-rated show on broadcast prime in "Modern Family," even as the show notched a season low. "Family" fell 20% from a week ago to a 2.8 average in 18-49.

The rest of the ABC lineup was also down: "The Middle" fell 5% from last week to a 1.8 average in viewers 18-49; "Suburgatory" equaled its series low with a 1.4, off 18%; "Mixology" dropped 13% to a 1.3; and "Nashville" returned with a 20% drop from its most recent original, registering a series-low 1.2 average.

For prime time overall, CBS topped Wednesday night with a 2.1 average rating in 18-49, followed by Fox (1.8 average), NBC (1.7), ABC (1.6) and Univision (1.1). CBS also won total viewers, averaging 9.9 million to lead Fox (8.6 million), NBC (6.0 million), ABC (5.5 million) and Univision (2.9 million).

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SAG-AFTRA Rolls Out New Logo

SAG-AFTRA took the wraps off the combined trade union's new logo today. Deadline.com reports that the new design was approved in a 2-1 vote by the union's national board.

"The new look was conceived and designed by veteran branding company Siegel+Gale," the story reports. "Looking vaguely like something a European political party would use, the logo is meant to exemplify SAG-AFTRA’s 'primary brand attributes -- strength, excellence and unity,' according to the union."

The union, which merged a little more than two years ago, is set to launch its first major contract negotiation, with the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers, on Monday, the piece notes.

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Director Drops Out of AMC Project

A new AMC drama project will have to find a new director. Deadline.com reports that the director who was lined up for the pilot "Knifeman," Brian Percival, left the project for personal reasons.

"Based on Wendy Moore’s John Hunter biography 'The Knife Man: Blood, Body Snatching and the Birth of Modern Surgery,' 'Knifeman' centers on a charming, arrogant surgeon who robs graves and harvests organs in 18th century London," the story reports. "Rolin Jones wrote the pilot, which he developed with Ron Fitzgerald; both exec produce."

Percival is known for "The Book Thief," and won an Emmy Award for directing the pilot for "Downton Abbey," the report notes.

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Cable Comedy Renewed for Sixth Season

A popular cable comedy series has been picked up for a sixth season. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that TV Land placed a 24-episode order for a new season of the Betty White sitcom "Hot in Cleveland."

The announcement was made during a rehearsal for the show's 100th episode, which tapes Friday, the report notes.

The comedy, which also stars Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick, has delivered an average of 2.6 million viewers since it launched in June 2010, the report notes. Its syndication run is set to begin in September.

Larry W. Jones, president of TV Land, said: “There’s instant magic when our cast, writers and crew get together for each episode. We’re so excited to be reaching these milestones and can’t wait to see what lies ahead in Cleveland.”

"The comedy centers on three best friends from Los Angeles who find their lives changed forever when their plane, headed for Paris, makes an emergency landing in Cleveland," the story reports. "When they discover that life is better in Cleveland, they decide to stay, renting a house that happens to come with an opinionated caretaker."

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Queen Latifah to Play Legendary Songstress in HBO Biopic

Talk show host, rapper and actress Queen Latifah is signed on for a high-profile HBO movie. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Latifah will play legendary blues singer Bessie Smith in a biographical film.

Latifah will also executive produce the TV movie.

"The telepic revolves around iconic blues singer Smith as she overcomes the challenges of her tempestuous personal life to become one of the most acclaimed performers and recording artists of the 1920s and '30s, to be known forevermore as the 'Empress of the Blues.' The film is based on Smith's life story and 'Bessie,' author Chris Albertson's biography of the iconic singer," THR reports.

Dee Rees will direct and will write the script, the report notes, with Latifah to exec produce through her Flavor Unit Entertainment company. The project will be produced by HBO Films and Zanuck Co.

"Lili Fini Zanuck, Richard Zanuck, Shakim Compere, Shelby Stone and Randi Michel will also exec produce. Hallie Foote is on board to co-exec produce and Ron Schmidt will produce," THR reports.

The report adds: "For her part, Rees earned an Indie Spirit Award for her work on 'Pariah,' which was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize and won the cinematography award at the Sundance Film Festival."

queen latifah.jpgQueen Latifah

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Viacom Outbids Discovery and Scripps to Buy Broadcast Network for Close to $1 Billion. Hint: It Broadcasts in English, but It's Non-U.S.

Viacom Inc. has won a battle over a broadcast network that reportedly had more than 20 suitors interested in purchasing it, including Discovery Communications and Scripps Networks.

Reuters reports that Viacom announced today that "it would buy British TV broadcaster Channel 5 from media baron Richard Desmond for $760 million (450 million pounds) as a keystone to develop its worldwide presence."

Channel 5, which launched in 1997 as the U.K.'s fifth public-service broadcaster, is a free, over-the-air network that airs hit shows such as "Big Brother" and "CSI" and has more than 43 million viewers monthly, the report notes. "Viacom, which owns a stable of cable channels such as MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and movie studio Paramount Pictures, said the deal would also allow the company to tap new ideas," the piece adds.

The deal is the largest so far for Viacom since its split with CBS in 2006. Commenting on the deal, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said, "It was a unique opportunity," adding: "This gives us another significant base of programming."

Dauman noted that Great Britain is a leading center of creativity for TV and film, the report adds.

"Dauman cited Channel 5's 'Milkshake!,' a block of children's programming that will complement Viacom's Nickelodeon kids network," Reuters notes.

The article reports that Desmond is selling Channel 5 for more than four times what he paid for it in 2010. He "is credited with turning the channel around by cutting costs aggressively and focusing on cross-platform promotion and reality TV shows," the report adds.

Viacom expects the acquisition, which is subject to regulatory approval, to boost earnings as soon as the deal closes, the piece notes.

"The media conglomerate, which is controlled by billionaire Sumner Redstone, generated about 16 percent of its 2013 revenue from Europe, noted Vijay Jayant, an analyst with ISI Media," Reuters reports.

Said Jayant: "This acquisition in one of the strongest markets in Europe will help diversify the company's exposure."

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Hard-Hitting Opinion Piece by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Says of Sterling's Ex-Girlfriend That She 'is on tape cajoling him into revealing his racism. ... She was like a sexy nanny playing pin the fried chicken on the Sambo.'

In an opinion piece written by former NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and published by Time magazine, Abdul-Jabbar wonders why it took so long to react to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's long public record of remarks and behavior denigrating minorities.

In the piece Abdul-Jabbar also writes that Sterling's "girlfriend (undoubtedly ex-girlfriend now) is on tape cajoling him into revealing his racism. Man, what a winding road she led him down to get all of that out. She was like a sexy nanny playing 'pin the fried chicken on the Sambo.' She blindfolded him and spun him around until he was just blathering all sorts of incoherent racist sound bites that had the news media peeing themselves with glee."

Abdul-Jabbar also writes: "What bothers me about this whole Donald Sterling affair isn’t just his racism. I’m bothered that everyone acts as if it’s a huge surprise."

And he adds: "Shouldn’t we be equally angered by the fact that his private, intimate conversation was taped and then leaked to the media? Didn’t we just call to task the NSA for intruding into American citizens' privacy in such an un-American way? Although the impact is similar to Mitt Romney’s comments that were secretly taped, the difference is that Romney was giving a public speech. The making and release of this tape is so sleazy that just listening to it makes me feel like an accomplice to the crime. We didn’t steal the cake but we’re all gorging ourselves on it."

We urge you to read Abdul-Jabbar's entire piece, which, again, you can find if you click here. 

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar once coached the Los Angeles Clippers

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Report: AT&T Looking to Possibly Buy DirecTV. Price Tag Might Be $40 Billion

AT&T has held takeover discussions with DirecTV, reports The Wall Street Journal, which notes that the talks are “the latest sign of a possible shakeup in the television industry.”

Combining AT&T with satellite-TV operator DirecTV would create a rival close in size to what Comcast will be if it completes its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable, the piece notes.

The story adds: “DirecTV is the second-biggest pay TV operator, serving about 20 million customers, while AT&T's landline-based TV business serves about 5.7 million. The nearly 26 million subscribers served by the combined company would compare with Comcast which -- with TWC -- would serve close to 30 million subscribers.”

A deal would likely carry a $40 billion price tag, comparable to DirecTV’s current market value. Both AT&T and DirecTV declined to comment.

“The approach has come since Comcast struck its Time Warner Cable deal in February," the WSJ report notes, citing a source who's familiar with the situation. The report adds: "It is unclear whether the companies are in detailed talks, but another person familiar with the situation said that DirecTV would be open to a deal. The satellite TV industry is facing a slowdown in subscriber growth after years of adding customers. The pay television market in the U.S. is now mature, with about 90% of U.S. households with TV now subscribing to either cable, satellite or phone company-delivered television.”

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Daytime Emmy Nominations Are Out: Veteran Dramas 'Young and the Restless,' 'Bold and the Beautiful,' 'General Hospital' and 'Days of Our Lives' Chalk Up the Most Nods Among Soaps, and a Kids' Show Cracks Top 5 -- CBS Claims Big Lead in Total Nominations

The Daytime Emmy nominations were announced today, and one network found itself well ahead of the pack in terms of the number of nomintions. That network is CBS, with 61 nods.

CBS's closest competitors among the big four broadcast nets are ABC with 30 nominations and NBC with 18. Overall, syndicated programming took 50 nominations, with 44 nods going to PBS and 37 for Nickelodeon.

The most-nominated show among daytime dramas is "The Young and the Restless" with 26 nods, followed by "The Bold and the Beautiful" with 18 and "General Hospital" with 16. "Sesame Street" cracks the top five with 15 nominations, ahead of "Days of Our Lives" with 14.

"The Ellen DeGeneres Show" leads all talk shows with nine nominations.

The Daytime Emmy Awards will be presented June 22 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, preceded by the Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Gala set for June 20 at the Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles.

Please click here to see the full list of nominees along with the press release from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announcing the nominations.

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Why the Host of 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire' Is Leaving After Just One Season

The host of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” is leaving the syndicated quiz show after only one season, reports EW.com’s Inside TV.

Cedric the Entertainer, who has hosted the show since September 2013, said he's leaving because of the show’s decision to move production to Connecticut, which he said doesn't fit his schedule. Cedric took over as host after Meredith Vieira ended her 11-season run on the syndicated version of the show.

“With the many television and film projects that I have going on which shoot and promote in various parts of the country, a production-base in Connecticut would make it quite difficult to maneuver the many moving parts on my plate,” he said in a statement. “So, after much thought and some serious conversations with senior executives at the studio, I decided to let Disney-ABC know that, unfortunately, I’m not able to continue on as host.”

The show already has a replacement in mind, Deadline.com reports. The job is set to go to “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” co-star Terry Crews, who reportedly has a deal to host the show, although it hasn’t yet been finalized. Deadline adds that cost-cutting may have played a role in the host change.

terry crews.jpgTerry Crews

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HBO Brings Back Series That Left the Channel More Than 10 Years Ago

HBO will give another go-round to a series it last aired in the early 2000s. Variety reports that the pay-cable channel is bringing back Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s “Project Greenlight.”

The series, which focuses on the challenges facing a first-time director, had two cycles on HBO, in 2001 and 2003. It also aired a third cycle on Bravo, in 2005.

“Damon and Affleck will be back to exec produce, the same role they held during the show’s first run. The show follows the search for a first-time director, beginning with a digital competition, and follows the winner from pre-production and casting through principal photography and post-production,” the story reports.

In a statement, Affleck said: “’Project Greenlight’ was ahead of its time. Now that  technology has caught up to the concept, we thought it was a perfect time to bring it back. A whole new generation of filmmakers has grown up sharing everything, and the next big director could be just an upload away. It is really great having ‘Project Greenlight’  back at HBO.”

ben-affleck.jpgBen Affleck

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Fox News Says Report About Shepard Smith Is 'a Complete Fabrication'

Fox News is denying a report that the network demoted anchor Shepard Smith after he asked chief Roger Ailes about publicly coming out, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker.

The original report, published in Gawker, said that Smith was eager to acknowledge his sexuality, but that Ailes reportedly told him the network’s conservative audience wouldn’t accept a gay news anchor. Smith then reportedly dropped the issue, but according to the original story his request worried Fox News executives and prompted them to drop him from the prime-time schedule.

Fox News “strenuously denounced” the Gawker article on Wednesday, the Times notes.

Ailes and Smith, in a joint statement, said the story was “100% false and a complete fabrication.”

“As colleagues and close friends at Fox News for 18 years, our relationship has always been rooted in a mutual respect, deep admiration, loyalty, trust, and full support both professionally and personally," the statement said.

Fox News Executive Vice President of Programming Bill Shine, whom Gawker reported “flipped out” when Smith brought his boyfriend to a company picnic and allegedly argued against his coming out, said in a statement that the network has “never asked Shep to discuss or not discuss his private life, and the notion of us having an issue with anyone’s sexuality is not only insulting, but pure fiction. We renewed his contract in June 2013 based on this full support as well as his exemplary journalism.”

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Actress Who's a Key Player on 'Orange Is the New Black' Will Remain With the Show

One of the key players on the Netflix show “Orange Is the New Black” is staying with the series. Show creator Jenji Kohan said actress Laura Prepon will continue on "Orange," reports the New York Post.

“She’s not [leaving]. She’s in the show,” Kohan told reporters at the Time 100 Gala. She noted that the actress will appear in fewer episodes, however.

“[Laura] was busy, so she wasn’t in [the new season] as much as we would have liked, and as she would have liked. But we schedule around it, and we get her when we can have her, and hopefully we’ll have her more,” Kohan said.

laura prepon.pngLaura Prepon

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Oprah Wants a Piece of the L.A. Clippers

Oprah Winfrey is working on a bid for the Los Angeles Clippers if the NBA’s board of governors votes to force Donald Sterling to sell the team, ESPN reports. Citing comments from David Geffen, the story reports that Winfrey may be a part of a joint bid for the team with Geffen and Larry Ellison.

Geffen told ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap that he and Ellison would run the team, and Winfrey would be an investor.

“Oprah is not interested in running the team," Geffen said. "She thinks it would be a great thing for an important black American to own [another] franchise.”

Geffen added, “The team deserves a better group of owners who want to win. Larry would sooner die than fail. I would sooner die than fail. Larry's a sportsman. We've talked about this for a long time. Between the three of us, we have a good shot."

Winfrey’s representative later confirmed that she is in discussions about making a bid with Geffen and Ellison, if the team comes up for sale.

The story notes, “Geffen, a music and film mogul with a net worth that Forbes estimates at $6.2 billion, reportedly tried to buy at least a controlling stake in the Clippers in 2010 for $600 million but was rebuffed by Sterling.”

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'Spinal Tap' Actor Joins 'Breaking Bad' Prequel

The “Breaking Bad” prequel “Better Call Saul” has signed one of the stars of “This Is Spinal Tap.” Deadline.com reports that actor Michael McKean is the first new cast member named as part of the AMC show, joining alums of "Breaking Bad."

The prequel, which focuses on Bob Odenkirk’s character Saul Goodman before he became Walter White’s attorney, will see McKean playing a new character named Dr. Thurber, who is a brilliant attorney although restricted by an affliction, which the article doesn’t specify.

The project also includes Jonathan Banks reprising his "Breaking Bad" role as Saul’s private investigator Mike Ehrmantraut.

michael mckean.jpgMichael McKean

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Syfy Unveils 'Massive Slate' of Projects, Including 'The Magicians' and Robert Kirkman Graphic Novel

Syfy has taken the wraps off what The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed calls “a massive slate,” with projects including Lev Grossman’s fantasy novel “The Magicians” and Robert Kirkman’s graphic novel “Clone.”

Another project is Jonathan Hickman’s “Pax Romana,” which is about a team that travels back in time as World War III is about to start in order to “fix” the future.

“The Magicians” is based on Grossman’s book series, which is sometimes described as “Harry Potter” for adults. The novels track a group of young adults as they study magic at a college and discover a hidden world, which includes a creature that could destroy the planet. The project will be written and executive produced by Sera Gamble of “Supernatural” and John McNamara of “In Plain Sight.”

“Clone,” meanwhile, is based on the graphic novel by Kirkman and David Alpert. It tracks a retired soldier who investigates a break-in at his home, discovering the intruder is his own clone.

In casting news, Syfy has tapped “Battlestar Galactica” star Tricia Helfer for the lead role in its six-part space opera “Ascension.”

tricia helfer.jpgTricia Helfer

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Hulu Expands Slate of Original Programming

Hulu, which announced it has reached 6 million Hulu Plus subscribers -- up from 5 million at the end of 2013 -- is expanding its slate of original programming with a “Real Housewives” parody and a reality-style drama about dancers, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker.

Chief Executive Mike Hopkins, speaking at the service’s upfront presentation Wednesday in New York City, said Hulu will quadruple its investment in original programming over the next year.

The service is adding “The Hotwives of Orlando,” a parody of the “Real Housewives” franchise, and the dancing drama “The Next Step,” which will premiere in May.

Hulu also said the original series it debuted in 2013, which include “Moone Boy” and “Quick Draw,” will return, as will the supernatural comedy “Deadbeat,” which debuted last month.

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Fox Sets Event Series on Boston Marathon Bombings

The 2013 Boston Marathon bombings will be the focus of an event series from Fox, which is developing a project based on the book “Long Mile Home,” The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

The project, which will be written, directed and executive produced by Rod Lurie, will track several Bostonians, providing glimpses into the events of the day and the week afterward, the story notes.

The book was written by Boston Globe reporters Scott Helman and Jenna Russell. The newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize for its reporting on the bombings, which killed three people and injured more than 250, the story notes.

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TLC Bringing Back Show About 'Progressive Polygamists'

TLC has renewed a series that is part of what's being called the "polygamist reality trope." TheWrap.com reports that the cable channel picked up “My Five Wives” for an eight-episode second season.

The show, which the article says features “progressive polygamists,” averaged 1.2 million viewers in its first season. The project tracks the Williams family -- consisting of husband Brady, his wives Paulie, Rhonda, Rosemary, Nonie and Robyn and their 24 children -- at their property outside Salt Lake City.

“The series features a progressive twist on the polygamist reality trope: The Williams family split from the Mormon Church over the church's conservative views,” the story notes.

"On Sunday May 4, the family will be answering questions from viewers in a very special FAQ episode, where the family will answer questions from viewers on topics ranging from what goes on in the bedroom to how they deal with living within a polygamist family," the report adds. "The following Sunday, the family will sit down with NBC and gush to Tamron Hall about everything that happened during filming and behind the scenes."

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