October 2012

Fox in the Henhouse Alert: Carl Icahn Has Acquired 10% of Netflix

"Billionaire Carl Icahn acquired almost 10 percent of Netflix, operator of the largest online video streaming service, and is considering ways to maximize value," reports Bloomberg.

The story continues, "The shares rose the most since January. Icahn said in a filing today he accumulated 5.54 million shares of...Netflix, including options, and that he may seek talks. The company may have 'strategic value' for larger concerns, he said. Joris Evers, a Netflix spokesman, said the company had no immediate comment."

"Icahn, who buys stakes in companies he considers to be underperforming and then pushes for change, has made several large bets on media and entertainment stocks," the story notes.

The article adds, " 'I believe that there is going to be great consolidation between Netflix and, everybody’s read about it, Amazon or Microsoft or Verizon or Google, there are so many possible combinations,' Icahn said on Bloomberg Television.

"Netflix rose 14 percent to $79.24 at the close in New York to mark the biggest gain since January. The stock was unchanged for the year before today."

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'Anger Management,' Distributed by Debmar-Mercury, Will Be on Fox Stations in Syndie Deal

"Anger Management," the FX sitcom starring Charlie Sheen, will be seen on Fox stations in a syndie deal between Fox and show distributor Debmar-Mercury, Fox Television Stations and Debmar-Mercury have announced.

Here are the Fox stations -- and their markets -- that will air the show: WNYW/WWOR in New York; KTTV/KCOP in Los Angeles; WFLD/WPWR iin Chicago; KDFW/KDFI in Dallas; WTTG/WDCA in Washington, D.C.;  KRIV/KTXH in Houston;  KSAZ/KUTP in Phoenix; KMSP/WFTC in Minneapolis and WOFL/WRBW in Orlando.

Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein, the co-presidents of Debmar-Mercury, said in a statement, "We are thrilled to have Fox as our core station group for 'Anger Management' as we begin rolling it out nationally. Fox is acquiring today's most valuable sitcoms, and a broad-based, male-driven sitcom like 'Anger Management' will play perfectly with both 'Big Bang Theory' and 'Modern Family' on Fox stations in major markets. 'Anger Management' achieved record-breaking ratings on FX and we believe it will perform extremely well in off-network syndication."

A number of Fox stations also air '"The 'Wendy Williams Show" from Debmar-Mercury.

Said Frank Cicha, Fox Television Stations' senior vice president of programming, in a statement, "Typical wisdom says off-cable shows aren't right for general syndication, but that's way too narrow-minded for today's reality. When a program produces these ratings, regardless of the platform, you have to take it seriously. We did, and we expect 'Anger Management' to be a key piece of our sitcom dominance for years to come."

"Anger Management" is produced by Lionsgate Television. In the kind of deal pioneered by Debmar-Mercury, "Anger Management" met a certain ratings threshold -- not a number that's made public -- in an initial run on FX that triggered the production of 90 episodes. 

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Showtime Sets Ratings Record

Sunday night's episodes of Showtime's "Homeland" and "Dexter" joined forces to hit a ratings milestone for the pay-cable network, reports TV Guide.

"Dexter" delivered 2.28 million viewers, followed by "Homeland’s" delivery of 2.07 viewers -- marking the first time that the network had two original series top 2 million viewers on the same night.

"Homeland" was up 19 percent from last week's episode, hitting its highest ratings ever. "Dexter" garnered its biggest audience since the season premiere (2.4 million viewers).

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ABC Shows Sink to Historic Ratings Lows

ABC had another rough night in the ratings Tuesday, coming in fifth among broadcast networks as a number of series hit historic lows in the Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “Dancing with the Stars: All Stars” managed only a 1.9 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, down from a 2.3 last week and an all-time low for the series. “Don’t Trust the B---- in Apt. 23” also hit an all-time low with a 1.2, down 29% from a 1.7 for last week’s premiere episode.

“Happy Endings” turned in another weak performance for ABC, a 1.4 average in viewers 18-49, off 22% from the premiere a week ago. And at 10 p.m. ABC’s special on Hurricane Sandy fared poorly against NBC’s storm special. ABC’s storm-themed “20/20” installment delivered a 1.3 average, well short of the 2.9 NBC scored for its NBC News special “Storm Sandy.”

The report notes that the impact of the storm, including pre-emptions and power outages, means that significant adjustments can be expected.

With NBC’s two-hour “The Voice” up 6% to a 4.6 average in 18-49, the Peacock Network was the ratings winner for the night. NBC averaged a 4.0 for prime time, well ahead of CBS (2.6 average), Fox (1.7), Univision (1.7) and ABC (1.5). CBS delivered the most total viewers, however -- 15.1 million to 10.8 million for NBC, 6.9 million for ABC, 4.1 million for Univision and 3.8 million for Fox.

CBS was paced by “NCIS” (3.4 average rating in 18-49, up 6% from a week ago), while “NCIS: LA” delivered a 2.8, even with last week, and “Vegas” inched up to a 1.7, a 6% improvement from a week ago.

Fox had its own problems, with “The Mindy Project” plunging 21% from its previous original episode to a 1.5 in the 18-49 demo. “New Girl,” meanwhile, was off 15% from last week to a 2.3. “Raising Hope” (1.7) and “Ben and Kate” (1.4) equaled last week’s numbers.

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'Storage Wars' Star Sues Over Porno Video

One of the stars of the A&E reality show "Storage Wars" has filed a suit in U.S. District Court in Central California against the website Is Anyone Up and its former operator Hunter Moore over fake porno photos and video allegedly portraying her, reports TheWrap.com.

Brandi Passante, who is a buyer on "Storage Wars" with her partner Jarrod Schulz, says she became aware of the website earlier this month when someone tweeted her from Is Anyone Up's Twitter account.

According to the suit, "Passante looked at the referenced website and was horrified, hurt and ashamed to see images of someone portraying her in pornographic video and associated images. Passante never made any such video, has never had any contact with Mr. Moore and did not send him sexual images. Moore fabricated the video for the purpose of trading on Passante's fame and celebrity to draw traffic to his site."

On Friday, a U.S. District Judge issued a temporary restraining order demanding that the video and pictures be removed from Moore's sites, and barred Moore and anyone associated with him from publishing them.

brandi-passante.jpgBrandi Passante

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'The Notebook' Author Making Inroads Into TV With Three New Dramas

Bestselling author Nicholas Sparks has made a major move into television -- following film success with “The Notebook” and "Dear John" -- with three cable drama projects in the works from his Nicholas Sparks Productions, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

At TNT, Sparks' novel "A Bend in the Road" -- the story of a sheriff dealing with a soaring tourist population in a coastal Georgia locale -- is in development with Brandon Camp ("Love Happens") writing and directing.

ABC Family is adapting "The Falls," a Romeo and Juliet variation set in modern times. "One Tree Hill" supervising producer John Norris is collaborating with Sparks on the project.

Sparks’ book "Deliverance Creek" is being set up as a possible series at Lifetime. It's a post-Civil War drama about a woman going to extraordinary lengths to protect her family. Melissa Carter ("Jane by Design") is writing the pilot.

Commenting on the new ventures, Sparks -- who says he's still really a novelist -- told the publication, “It’s a chance to venture into stories I don’t always write about.”

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Cable Channel Sued Over Shoplifting Show

The cable channel TruTV has been sued over a show about shoplifting, Deadline.com reports. The lawsuit was filed by aspiring show creators Harry Dunn and Steven Bloch, who say the channel lifted their idea for a show called “Hands Off the Merchandise,” which was reportedly pitched to TruTV in 2008.

In February of this year, the channel ran “Caught Red Handed,” a special about shoplifting. TruTV has a series in the works by the same title, set to premiere Nov. 6.

The story notes that “the duo, who say they came up with the idea for the show, didn’t actually engage with the network. Producers Scott Hallock and Kevin Healey, with whom Dunn and Bloch signed a collaboration agreement, did that for them. In 2009, after various meetings and ‘enthusiasm,’ as the suit puts it, on the network’s part, TruTV told Hallock and Healey that they were going to pass on the idea. The producers passed the bad news onto Bloch and Dunn.”

“Caught Red Handed” focuses on store detectives assisting stores in the battle against shoplifters.

The lawsuit states: “The idea, concept and format of the CRH Special and the CRH Series are identical to and indistinguishable from the HOTM Concept, which was created, developed and is owned in its entirety by Plaintiffs.”

The report notes: “Dunn and Bloch want the court to issue an injunction to stop ‘Caught Red Handed’ from going to air right away. The suit cites a number of counts including breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets. In their desire for a jury trial after an injunction is granted, Dunn and Bloch are seeking a full accounting from TruTV plus unnamed punitive, compensatory, and exemplary damages. They also want any profits the network may have made from the as-yet unaired series and all legal fees and ‘other and further relief as the Court deems equitable.’”

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Twentieth Renews Deal With '1600 Penn' Producer

20th Century Fox Television has renewed its overall deal with "1600 Penn" director and executive producer Jason Winer, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Winer, who has worked with the studio for seven years, will start his own production company, Small Dog Picture Company, as part of the multiyear agreement, the story says.

Winer will develop new projects for the studio via his new production company and stay on the midseason NBC series "1600 Penn," according to the report. The agreement will allow Winer available to direct existing pilots and episodes of current Twentieth Television programs such as "New Girl," the piece adds.

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Lindsay Lohan's Insensitive Storm Tweet Goes Viral

A Hurricane Sandy tweet from Lindsay Lohan has caused an uproar on Twitter, with many of those commenting on it apparently seeing it as insensitive, according to the website Hurriyet Daily News.

Lohan tweeted: "WHY is everyone in SUCH a panic about hurricane (i'm calling it Sally)..? Stop projecting negativity! Think positive and pray for peace." The message went out a few days ago.

“The web has responded strongly to Lohan's take on Sandy with 4,584 retweets and thousands of replies directed at the star,” the piece reports. “Many made fun of Lohan's statement while some just voiced bewilderment.”

The storm caused epic flooding, extensive damage and widespread power outages, resulting in at least 45 deaths, including at least 18 people in New York, the piece notes.

Some examples of the responses directed at Lohan:

"If only you'd been there during Katrina to share that insight, maybe no one would have died or been homeless."

"Taking precautions isn't negativity."

And at least one user was apparently encouraged by Lohan’s words, tweeting: "You inspire me!"

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'Cheers' Star Hospitalized With Chest Pains

One of the stars of the long-running NBC sitcom “Cheers” has been hospitalized with chest pains, reports the Chicago Tribune.

George Wendt, known for his role as Norm on the hit 1980s series "Cheers," checked into the hospital Sunday evening, the story reports. He's expected to make a full recovery, according to the Northlight Theatre executive director Timothy Evans.

Wendt dropped out of the theater company’s revival of "The Odd Couple" because of his health situation, the story notes.

Wendt and Tim Kazurinsky were slated to co-star as Oscar and Felix in the production. Instead, Wendt's role will be filled by another actor, Marc Grapey, with the production slated to open Nov. 9.

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May the Force Be With You: Disney Acquiring Lucasfilm, Including 'Star Wars' Franchise, for $4 Billion; Read Entire Press Release

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Russell Brand Sued for Allegedly Hitting Pedestrian

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