Feb 11, 2016
6:56 am

Video: Watch the First 4 Minutes of the ‘Walking Dead’ Midseason Premiere (AMC, YouTube)

In advance of the midseason premiere of AMC’s monster hit “The Walking Dead,” which returns this Sunday, Feb. 14, a teaser has been posted that features the premiere’s first four minutes.

Check it out …

Feb 10, 2016
2:57 pm

Actor Launches Nonprofit Studio (Variety)

A well-known actor who broke out on a cult TV show took the wraps off plans for a new nonprofit film studio. Variety reports that James Franco has launched Elysium Bandini Studios.

Franco, whose breakout role was in the 1999 NBC series “Freaks and Geeks,” directs, writes and teaches, in addition to his acting career.

The new studio “brings together the Art of Elysium charity with Franco’s Rabbit Bandini production banner to support the film projects of students and professionals, with any proceeds going entirely to Art of Elysium, Variety reports. “The 19-year-old charity brings actors and other artists into contact with people in need — from hospitalized children, to the elderly and homeless to, soon, veterans and prisoners. As many as 4,000 artists work with needy clients on projects ranging from essays to poetry to plays, films and art installations.”

the art of elysium-logo

Feb 10, 2016
2:21 pm

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Alleged Stalker Explains His Actions (AP)

An Ohio man who’s on trial for allegedly stalking Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow took the stand today. The AP reports that Dante Soiu explained in his felony trial in Los Angeles that he was unaware that the many messages and packages he sent to Paltrow were scaring her.

Soiu, 66, “said he thought he had an agreement with Paltrow’s lawyer to send her correspondence,” the story reports. “Soiu says he believed the lawyer would tell him if he wanted him to stop.”

Soiu, who previously spent years in a mental institution in connection with an earlier stalking case involving Paltrow, is accused in the current case of sending 66 messages to the actress between 2009 and 2015. He previously sent pornographic messages and sex toys.

“Soiu testified Wednesday that he had a pornography addiction at the time, but he became a born-again Christian around 2008,” the AP reports.

Paltrow testified against Soiu on Monday, as we reported previously.

Feb 10, 2016
1:19 pm

Glenn Frey Tribute on Tap for Monday’s Grammys (AP)

The 58th annual Grammy Awards, set to air Monday on CBS, will include a tribute to the late Glenn Frey by his Eagles bandmates along with singer-songwriter Jackson Browne.

Frey died Jan. 18 of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia. He was 67.

Browne and Frey were collaborators early in their careers, including co-writing the signature 1972 Eagles hit “Take It Easy.”

“Browne will join the Eagles’ Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmit and Bernie Leadon during a special performance during the show at the Staples Center in Los Angeles,” the AP reports.

58th grammy awards 2016

Feb 10, 2016
12:41 pm

A&E Announces Unusual New Series (TVWeek)

A&E Network today announced plans to air a new series, debuting next month, that goes inside the Clark County Jail in Jeffersonville, Ind.

The docuseries, “60 Days In,” tracks seven innocent civilians posing as prisoners. They live among the general population, where none of the other inmates know their secret, nor do the officers.

The program, from Lucky 8 TV, premieres with back-to-back episodes Thursday, March 10. Twelve episodes are scheduled.

“As a result of the facility’s recent corrupt history, Sheriff Jamey Noel has devised a program where seven participants will live among the facility’s general population for 60 days without officers, fellow inmates, or staff knowing their secret,” A&E says in its announcement. “Around-the-clock cameras captured this unparalleled access in an effort to bring problems to light and give viewers a first-hand look as the participants adapt to unfamiliar and terrifying surroundings.”

Said Noel: “After recently taking office, it was no secret that the Clark County Jail had problems and we needed to take quick control. The only way to truly understand what was going on in the jail was to implement innocent participants into the system to provide first-hand unbiased intelligence. These brave volunteers helped us identify critical issues within our system that undercover officers would not have been able to find. We couldn’t be more thrilled with the success of this inaugural program.”

Elaine Frontain Bryant, EVP and Head of Programming for A&E Network, added: “We are grateful to Sheriff Jamey Noel and the Clark County Jail for allowing our cameras to capture this unprecedented and trailblazing program. This provocative series will be an incredible addition the to rich non-fiction portfolio as the network continues to bring audiences cutting-edge immersive content.”

Executive producers for Lucky 8 TV are Gregory Henry, Kimberly Woodard and Jeff Grogan. Executive producers for A&E Networks are Elaine Frontain Bryant, Shelly Tatro, Drew Tappon and Brad Holcman.


Feb 10, 2016
11:37 am

Programming Shakeup at NBCU (Variety, Deadline)

A high-level management shakeup is in motion at NBCUniversal. Variety reports that Bonnie Hammer, who oversees NBCU Cable Entertainment, is “blowing up the cable TV management playbook with a sweeping realignment of executive responsibilities across the largest channels that she oversees.”

Bill McGoldrick, formerly executive VP of original content for Syfy, moves to executive VP of scripted content for the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment group of channels. McGoldrick will work with the network presidents as he oversees original scripted content for USA, Syfy, Bravo and any other channels that run scripted programs. He will report to Jeff Wachtel, who heads Universal Cable Productions and serves as chief content officer for NBCU Cable.

“Dave Howe, who has been president of Syfy and Chiller, is shifting to president of strategy and commercial growth, another job that spans the 10 channels in Hammer’s group,” Variety reports. “He will oversee all business affairs and business development.”

Deadline.com reports that Hammer has created a new unit, the Entertainment Networks group, encompassing USA, Syfy, Chiller and Cloo, following a similar move in which Bravo, E!, Esquire Network and Oxygen were combined into the Lifestyle Networks group, headed by Frances Berwick.

USA Network President Chris McCumber heads the new unit as President, Entertainment Networks, with marketing and publicity duties to be consolidated among the executive ranks at the four channels.


Feb 10, 2016
10:57 am

Burger King’s Menu Surprise — It’s Our Non-TV Story of the Day (NY Times)

Burger King today announced a surprise addition to its menu. The hamburger chain, which ranks second to McDonald’s, will now offer hot dogs, The New York Times reports.

The chain, which already flame-broils its burgers, will use its existing equipment to grill the dogs.

Alex Macedo, president of Burger Kings’s North America division, said in the announcement: “Instead of boiling a hot dog in water, we can grill it just like you would at a backyard barbecue. It made all the sense in the world for us.”

Two versions of the new item will be available — a simple hot dog with ketchup, mustard and onion, and a chili-cheese dog. Teams in Burger King outlets have been learning how to assemble the dogs.

“Team members have been watching training videos in which Snoop Dogg gives the lesson,” The Times notes. “A Spanish-language version features Charo.”

burger king logo

Feb 10, 2016
10:41 am

Amazon Reinvents a Classic TV Series From 50 Years Ago (TVWeek)

Amazon placed a big order for four seasons of a new series reinventing a show from 50 years ago. The streaming service announced today that it is going ahead with “Thunderbirds Are Go.”

The children’s series is a reboot of “Thunderbirds,” a sci-fi show that starred marionettes and featured an electronic puppetry system dubbed “Supermarionation.” Two seasons of the show, which originated in the U.K., were produced, airing from 1965-1966.

Amazon ordered four 13-episode seasons of “Thunderbirds Are Go,” which will run on Prime Video in the U.S.

“‘Thunderbirds Are Go’ is a reinvention of the 50-year-old classic ‘Thunderbirds,’ and features the world’s most famous family of heroes, International Rescue, and Rosamund Pike (‘The World’s End,’ ‘Gone Girl’) as Lady Penelope,” Amazon announced. “The first season is scheduled to debut on Prime Video in the U.S. later this year and will subsequently air on Prime Video in the U.K., Germany and Austria, following a deal with ITV Studios Global Entertainment.”

Besides the original “Thunderbirds,” the Supermarionation process was featured in shows including “Supercar” (1961) and “Fireball XL5” (1962).

Here’s a look back at the original “Thunderbirds”:

Feb 10, 2016
10:29 am

Drama Sequel Gets Green Light (TVWeek)

A sequel to a 2013 miniseries that has been rumored for some time finally has the green light. Starz announced plans Tuesday for the limited series “The White Princess,” a sequel to its critically acclaimed “The White Queen.”

The project comes from Company Pictures.

“Adapted from Philippa Gregory’s best-selling novel of the same name and part of ‘The Cousins’ War’ book series, ‘The White Princess’ tells the story of England’s War of the Roses from the perspective of the women. The 8-episode limited series drama is currently in pre-production,” Starz announced.

Writer Emma Frost (“The White Queen,” “The Man in the High Castle,” “Shameless”) returns as showrunner and executive producer, with Gregory on board as executive producer for “The White Princess.”

Lachlan MacKinnon (“Burton and Taylor”) is a producer for the series. Playground’s Colin Callender (“The White Queen,” “The Dresser,” “The Missing,” “Wolf Hall”) will serve as executive producer with Company Pictures’ Michele Buck (“Parades End,” “Sex Traffic,” “Hornblower”).

“‘The White Princess’ concludes the story of England’s War of the Roses and charts the rise of the House of Tudor through the tortuous marriage between Princess Elizabeth of York and King Henry Tudor,” Starz says in its announcement. “The year is 1485 and Princess Elizabeth, daughter of ‘The White Queen,’ has been pledged in marriage to the newly anointed King Henry Tudor in hopes that it will bring peace to a war-torn country. England is united, but their marriage is soon divided, as rumors circulate that Elizabeth’s long-lost brother Prince Richard is alive and planning to take the throne.”

Carmi Zlotnik, Managing Director for Starz, says in the announcement: “‘The White Queen’ was a phenomenal performer at Starz, averaging 4.8 million multiplatform viewers per episode in the United States. There is a dearth of programming that tells women’s stories and ‘The White Queen’ was embraced with great success by audiences worldwide. The passionate fanbase for Philippa Gregory’s historical novels [is] undeniable and we are confident ‘The White Princess’ will become the next must-see fandom drama series.”

the white princess-philippa gregory-book cover

Feb 10, 2016
9:51 am

Why Fox Lowered Its Bid for Basketball Rights — and What It Says About the Cable Business (Forbes)

In one of the signs of what Forbes describes as a downturn for the cable business, Fox Sports is reportedly lowering its offer for local TV rights to the NBA’s L.A. Clippers. The company’s Prime Ticket has a current deal worth upwards of $20 million a year, the publication reports, with the deal ending after this season. Previous expectations were that the value of the deal might triple when it came time for renewal.

“Last September, Fox reportedly offered a $60 million a year deal for the Clippers local TV rights,” Forbes reports. “[Clippers owner Steve] Ballmer rejected that offer and asked for $100 million and was even entertaining the idea of streaming Clippers games in a Netflix-like system.”

But Ballmer, who paid $2 billion for the Clippers about a year and a half ago, “may have misread the cable television landscape,” the report notes, with the cable business in general sputtering in recent months and the L.A. market seeing Time Warner Cable — a potential bidder for Clippers rights — struggle with its L.A. Dodgers deal. Meanwhile, Clippers ratings are down.

“As a result, Fox rescinded its $60 million offer and has come back with a lower bid — somewhere in the low-to-mid $50 million range — according to one league executive,” Forbes reports.

fox sports-prime ticket

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