March 2012

Three Winning Tickets Split Record $640 Million Lotto Jackpot

"There were three winning tickets sold for Friday's record $640 million Mega Millions jackpot -- believed to be the world's largest such prize," according to a story by CBS News and the Associated Press.

The story adds, "Mega Millions spokesperson Kimberly Starks tells CBS News the winners were sold in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland."

According to the article, the ticket in Maryland was sold at a 7-11 store in Baltimore County. The winning ticket in Illinois was sold "in the small town of Red Bud, near St. Louis." Details about the ticket sold in Kansas were not immediately available.

The size of the jackpot obliterated the size of the previous highest jackpot, $390 million.

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Keith Olbermann Dismissed at Current TV

"News commentator Keith Olbermann is out at Current TV, just nine months after launching his weeknight show, 'Countdown,' " reports USA Today.

Olbermann's show has been replaced with 'Viewpoint With Eliot Spitzer,' featuring the former New York governor and former CNN commentator, the story notes.

The article continues, "In a letter from Current's founders to viewers, former Vice President Al Gore and Joel Hyatt commented on the dismissal, saying the network was 'founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately, these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it.' "

Olbermann's response, according to the article, was that "Gore and Hyatt failed to abide by obligations to invest in 'a quality news program' and thought it was more economical to try to get out of Olbermann's contract. 'In due course, the truth of the ethics of Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt will come out. For now, it is important only to again acknowledge that joining them was a sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but in retrospect a foolish one,' Olbermann said."

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MTV Renews Two Veteran Series

Two longtime MTV favorites are being brought back by the cable channel for new seasons, Deadline.com reports. MTV is giving renewals to "The Challenge" and "The Real World."

This will be the 27th season for "The Real World" and the 23rd for "The Challenge." Both shows are produced by Bunim/Murray, pioneers of successful reality television production.

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'Hollywood Squares' Format Being Brought Back as 'Hip Hop Squares'

The vintage game show format “Hollywood Squares” is returning to TV as “Hip Hop Squares” with a lineup that includes well-known hip hop personalities, MTV announced. The show will air on MTV2, where it’s set to premiere May 22.

MTV says in its announcement: “’Hip Hop Squares’ stays true to the tic-tac-toe format of the original game show, while infusing it with some of the biggest and most charismatic personalities in Hip Hop culture today, which transcends genre and crosses into the mainstream with its influence on everything from music to entertainment, fashion to comedy, and more.”

Among the personalities lined up for the show are Nick Cannon, Bam Margera, Kat Graham, DJ Khaled, Fat Joe, Biz Markie and Ghostface Killah.

The show will be hosted by Peter Rosenberg.

Here’s a trailer posted by MTV:

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Sitcom Star Reveals Health Scare

The Emmy-winning star of an iconic sitcom revealed a health crisis that was kept quiet when it happened several years ago.

Candice Bergen revealed that in 2006 she suffered a minor stroke, reports New York Magazine. Bergen starred on the CBS comedy series “Murphy Brown” from 1988-1998.

Although she missed only two weeks of work on ABC's "Boston Legal," her show at the time of the stroke, Bergen said she is still feeling the effects of the ailment.

“My memory is just, it’s not quite the same,” she told the magazine.

Bergen, 65, is currently appearing on Broadway in a revival of Gore Vidal's "The Best Man." She won five Emmys for “Murphy Brown.”

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Comedian's Web Special Picked Up for Cable Telecast -- and He Explains Which Swear Words Will Be Included and Which One Is Banned

A comedy special that was originally presented only online will make its way to cable television. FX announced that it will televise Louis C.K.'s "Live at the Beacon Theater," the New York Observer reports.

FX also televises Louis C.K.’s sitcom, “Louie.”

“What am I going to do, put it on Showtime?” said C.K., who first ran the performance on his website. “I feel loyalty to FX. And they’re going to air it as a commercial, sort of, for the site [where fans can buy the special]. FX will give me the leeway -- you can say ‘shit’ and ‘asshole,’ and you can’t say that on Comedy Central. You just can’t say ‘fuck,’ and there aren’t that many ‘fucks’ in this.”

FX has not yet announced when the special will air.

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New Witness Surfaces in Trayvon Martin Killing: 'Something Really Horrible Is Happening'

A witness to the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, interviewed Thursday night by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, described seeing “scuffling” and hearing a “painful” scream, Mediaite reports.

The anonymous witness also said it appeared that George Zimmerman, the accused shooter, was unharmed after the encounter.

Asked by Cooper to tell what he heard and saw that night, the witness said: “It would have to be starting with hearing voices, but not seeing, but after the voices, opening the window, and seeing two men, or two people, on the ground. On top of each other.”

Cooper then asked what caused him to pay attention, and the witness said:

“At first I heard the voices with my window closed. And pretty much in that area, people walk their dogs, and you’ll hear people talking, and you can hear them very clearly even when they’re not talking loud. So I thought it was rather loud, but I had just shut my window (because it started raining) … and I thought, oh my gosh who’s out there walking their dog in the rain? And I didn’t look. And then I did something else, and then I heard the loud voices again, and then I thought, well, let me see who that is. And I opened up my window … and it definitely was a very loud, predominant voice. I couldn’t hear the words, but I was like, okay this is not a regular conversation. This is someone aggressively, you know, yelling at someone.”

The witness said there was a gap between when he first heard the voices and when he opened the window. He then described what he saw after he opened the window:

“I saw two men on the ground, on top of each other, obviously thinking, okay something really horrible is happening. And at that point, not looking out the window, I heard a yell for help, and then I heard … another excruciating type of yell. It didn’t even almost sound like ‘help,’ it almost sounded so painful. But I wasn’t watching out the window. [...] Next time I looked out the window, there same thing, two men on the grass, on top of each other [...] I couldn’t see a lot of movement because it was very dark, but I felt like they were scuffling. And then I heard gunshots, which to me, were more like pops.”

The Mediaite report includes a clip of the interview, which can be seen by clicking here.

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Mega-Mania Grips Nation as Lottery Jackpot Swells

Lines were forming across the country as the record Mega Millions jackpot grew ever larger today, with the AP reporting early this afternoon that it had grown to $640 million.

We reported two days ago that the lottery jackpot was headed for record territory, noting at that time that it would be close to half a billion dollars. It has since blown that forecast out of the water.

Officials estimated that ticket purchasers would spend more than $1.46 billion on the lottery by the time sales close before tonight’s drawing.

Among the many Mega-Mania anecdotes, AP reported: “A cafe worker in Arizona reported selling $2,600 worth of tickets to one buyer, while a retired soldier in Wisconsin doubled his regular weekly ticket spending to $55. But each would have to put down millions more to guarantee winning what could be the biggest single lotto payout in the world.

"’I feel like a fool throwing that kind of money away,’ said Jesse Carter, who spent the $55 and donated the last two tickets he bought at a Milwaukee store Friday to a charity. ‘But it's a chance you take in life, with anything you do.’"

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'Saturday Night Live' Hires New Cast Member -- and Breaks New Ground

"Saturday Night Live" has hired a new cast member, and the hiring represents a first for the long-running NBC late-night show: the first openly gay female cast member in the show's history, reports the New York Post.

The new actress is Kate McKinnon, who worked on Logo's "The Big Gay Sketch Show," which is produced by Rosie O'Donnell, the story notes.

As previously reported, "SNL" had been auditioning women to add a female cast member, with Kristen Wiig's future up in the air at the program. McKinnon was one of several auditioned.

Terry Sweeney was the first gay man to become a cast member when he was hired for the show in 1985, the piece notes.

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Longest Winning Streak in TV History May Be About to End

The longest winning streak in TV history could come to an end next week, reports Bill Carter in The New York Times' Media Decoder.

With former "Today" co-host Katie Couric slated to co-host "Good Morning America" next week, there's a chance that NBC’s "Today" could actually lose its No. 1 spot for a week, Carter writes.

"Good Morning America" ended last week trailing "Today" by only 137,000 viewers, the piece points out. That's the closest margin in almost five years, and the ABC morning show won two of the five mornings during the same week, the story notes.

"ABC executives have been nearly obsessed with breaking the longest winning streak in television history, the 16-year-plus run that 'Today' has enjoyed. 'Good Morning America' has not beaten the NBC morning show since the first Clinton administration -- December 1995," Carter writes.

"With one of the most popular 'Today' hosts of all time, Katie Couric, now scheduled to sit in for a week as guest host on 'G.M.A.' next week, the morning ratings will probably be as intensely scrutinized inside those two networks as those hanging chads were in Florida in 2000," the story says.

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