March 2013

Legendary Music Producer, Who Won Multiple Grammys and an Emmy -- and Who Worked with Billy Joel, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Madonna, Paul Simon, Duke Ellington, Stan Getz, Ray Charles, and Barbra Streisand, Among Many Others -- Dies at 79

A "prolific record producer and engineer who worked with some of the biggest music stars of the last 50 years, including Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon, Billy Joel and Barbra Streisand, died on Saturday in Manhattan," reports The New York Times

The producer was Phil Ramone, 79, and the Times story continues, "His death was confirmed by his son Matthew. He did not immediately give the cause, but Mr. Ramone was reported to have been admitted to a Manhattan hospital in late February for treatment of an aortic aneurysm."

In a statement about Ramone's death, Billy Joel said, according to the Times story, "“I always thought of Phil Ramone as the most talented guy in my band. He was the guy that no one ever, ever saw onstage. He was with me as long as any of the musicians I ever played with — longer than most. So much of my music was shaped by him and brought to fruition by him.”

The Times story adds, "He won 14 Grammy Awards, including producer of the year, nonclassical, in 1981, and three for album of the year, for Mr. Simon’s 'Still Crazy After All These Years' in 1976, Mr. Joel’s '52nd Street' in 1980, and Mr. Charles’s duets album, 'Genius Loves Company,' in 2005. He also produced music for television and film, winning an Emmy Award as the sound mixer for a 1973 special on CBS, 'Duke Ellington ... We Love You Madly.' "

Ramone was born in South Africa and grew up in Brooklyn, the Times notes.

Writing of Ramone's early career the Times says, "In 1958, he co-founded A & R Recording, a studio on West 48th Street in Manhattan, and built a reputation as a versatile engineer, working on pop fare like Lesley Gore as well as jazz by John Coltrane and Quincy Jones. He ran the sound when Marilyn Monroe cooed 'Happy Birthday' to President John F. Kennedy in 1962, and three years later won his first Grammy as the engineer on Stan Getz and João Gilberto’s landmark album 'Getz/Gilberto,' which featured the original version of the monster hit "The Girl From Ipanema.' "

Some examples of Ramone's work follows:

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Kevin Ware Has Successful Surgery After Breaking His Leg in Gruesome Fashion Seen by Millions Watching March Madness Basketball Tourney on TV. Columnist Says CBS Showed Appropriate Restraint in Live Coverage of Injury

"University of Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware suffered an open fracture of his right leg during Sunday’s Midwest Regional final that left his teammates and coach in tears, becoming the biggest story out of the NCAA March Madness tournament....Ware, 20, was taken to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis after the game to repair the fracture. School officials said the leg, broken in two places, was reset and a rod inserted into his right tibia. ESPN reported Ware will remain in Indianapolis until at least Tuesday."

So reported ABC News on Sunday night, March 31, 2013.

The injury was seen by millions who were watching the game live on TV. Commented USA Today sports media columnist Michael Hiestand, "Usually, sports television means sticking to the script. But when Louisville sophomore Kevin Ware suffered a dramatic injury against Duke on CBS Sunday, game coverage was left, as analyst Clark Kellogg put it, 'in totally uncharted territory for everybody in the building, for players, for us.'

"CBS' response was textbook -- it let its pictures do the talking."

Hiestand continued, "CBS couldn't really avoid showing a replay of the injury, given that TV coverage should at least give viewers access to anything they'd see if they were in the stands. CBS aired the cringe-inducing replay twice. Kellogg stated the obvious, but it seemed appropriate: 'You never want to see that.' (And on its halftime studio coverage, CBS was sensible. Host Greg Gumbel said there would be no replay -- 'with the severity of that injury, we are not going to be showing it here.')

"But the CBS shots, from producer Mark Wolff and director Bob Fishman, seemed almost more compelling than replays of the injury itself. The closeups of seemingly mortified fans were jarring. The footage of Louisville coach Rick Pitino wiping away tears was a striking visual. And CBS followed the news, including showing Ware being driven away in an ambulance."

Accoring to Bloomberg Businessweek, Pitino said at the end of the game, "Basically the bone popped out of his skin, it broke in two spots. It will take a year for him to come back. He’ll come back better than ever.”

The Businessweek article continues, "Louisville athletic department spokesman Kenny Klein said Ware will remain in Indianapolis through at least tomorrow, when he may return to Louisville and then join the Cardinals as they travel to Atlanta for the Final Four. Ware played high school basketball in Rockdale County, Georgia, 24 miles east of Atlanta."

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NBC Delays Project After Struggling to Replace Departed Star

One of NBC’s most promising development projects has hit a hurdle, with the network rescheduling the pilot to film off cycle, according the The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed.

“The network has postponed ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’ to June after trouble recasting the lead role of Christina Ricci,” THR reports. “The decision to recast the role out of the traditional pilot-season window was made mutually by NBC, creator Liz Brixius (‘Nurse Jackie’) and producers Wolf Films and Universal Television and comes 10 days after Ricci exited the pilot following the table read.”

The report notes: “Ricci, who was the first person cast in the project in early February, was poised to star as Karen, who wakes up from a coma after almost two decades to find out she has a 17-year-old daughter from a pregnancy she was unaware of when her life was put on hold.”

The network continues to be high on the project, with the delay designed to enable producers to consider a large number of actresses for the former Ricci role -- especially after the networks begin paring down the current load of about 100 broadcast pilots.

Brixius is set to write and executive produce along with Dick Wolf (“Law & Order: SVU,” “Chicago Fire”), Danielle Gelber and Peter Jankowski, the piece notes.

“’Girlfriend in a Coma’ becomes the latest project to move off-cycle this pilot season,” the THR report notes. “Fox pushed big-swing Navy drama ‘Wild Blue’ after difficulties casting the lead, and NBC delayed ‘Wonderland’ to allow producers more time to prepare the extensive special effects and 'Donor Party' after trouble with casting the lead.”

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A New Low for Fox's 'Idol' -- And a Possible Explanation for Its Sharp Ratings Decline

The onetime ratings juggernaut “American Idol” continues to see its numbers erode, and after Thursday’s episode sank to a historic low, one TV writer offered a possible explanation.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that “Idol” fell to a 2.7 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, based on Nielsen overnights. It was the lowest number ever for any installment of “Idol” on any night, the website reports, and a loss of two-tenths of a ratings point from last week.

Fox managed only a third-place finish for prime time overall, behind ABC and CBS, which finished in a dead heat for first place in viewers 18-49.

Bill Carter, writing in The New York Times, says part of the problem with “Idol” appears to be old age, in TV terms, with the show now in its 12th season. But he also notes the impact of a relative newcomer, NBC’s rival singing competition “The Voice.”

“On Monday, ‘The Voice’ scored a 4.7 rating in that 18-49 group,” Carter writes. “On Tuesday it managed a 3.9 rating (about 6 million and 5.1 million viewers, respectively). This follows up a fall in which ‘The Voice’ convincingly topped Fox’s other singing show, ‘The X Factor.’”

But Carter notes that “Idol,” which is deeper into its current season than the newly arrived “The Voice,” typically trends lower in the middle of its season.

“It is still too early to crown ‘The Voice’ as the new king of the singing competitions, because in its first outings this season Fox’s ‘Idol’ scored notably better numbers than the first two episodes of NBC’s ‘The Voice’ this week,” Carter writes.

Thursday’s 2.7 average for “Idol” in 18-49 marked only the second time in history that the show has dropped below a 3.0 -- with the previous Thursday being the first time, Carter notes.

Thursday’s number “was for one of the ‘Idol’ elimination shows, which are traditionally lower-rated than the performance shows,” Carter notes. “But that number came one day after Wednesday’s ‘Idol’ recorded the lowest-ever rating for a performance show, a 3.2 rating (about 4 million viewers).”

Carter adds: “Both numbers were down sharply from the prior week, from a 3.6 for the performance show and a 2.9 for the elimination show. While ‘Idol’ generally trends lower in the middle of its season, one notable change took place on the network schedules between those weeks: ‘The Voice’ returned on NBC.”

While admitting it’s too soon to crown “The Voice” as the champion singing show, Carter adds: “If ‘Idol’ continues to sink, and ‘The Voice’ sustains its numbers, that may be the inescapable conclusion by the end of this season."

Preliminary numbers reported by TVbytheNumbers -- with the disclaimer that CBS’s coverage of the NCAA Basketball Tournament will be subject to significant adjustments -- show ABC and CBS tied at No. 1 for prime time with 2.3 average ratings in the key 18-49 demo, followed by Fox (2.0), Univision (1.4), CW (0.9) and NBC (0.8). NBC’s rare sixth-place finish came on a night when the network aired mostly reruns.

In a close race for total viewers, Fox came out on top with 7.5 million, followed by ABC’s 7.1 million, CBS’s 6.9 million, Univision’s 3.5 million, NBC’s 2.6 million and CW’s 2.0 million.

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On Eve of 'Tonight Show' Transition, Jimmy Fallon Dumps His Manager

With negotiations for Jimmy Fallon to take over “The Tonight Show” hanging in the balance, the late-night host has decided to proceed without his longtime manager, Eric Kranzler of Management 360.

Nellie Andreeva reports on Deadline.com: “I’ve learned that Fallon fired Kranzler the day after the Oscars while the talk show host’s team was in preliminary conversations with NBC about a new contract for him. That ended Fallon’s second stint with Kranzler, who originally managed the actor for three years during Fallon’s tenure on ‘Saturday Night Live’ in the early 2000s.”

Fallon reunited with Kranzler in 2008 -- a year before the launch of “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” -- following a brief hiatus, Andreeva notes.

“During the past five years, Fallon also branched out into producing and hosted the Primetime Emmy Awards,” the report adds. “He continues to be represented by CAA, which is handling his negotiations with NBC.”

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Lohan Accused of Stealing Again -- And Why Did the Crew of 'Anger Management' Break Out in Applause After She Left the Set?

Just when she appeared to be getting down to business -- appearing in a guest role on Charlie Sheen’s “Anger Management” -- actress Lindsay Lohan managed to wind up with another round of negative headlines.

This time she’s accused of stealing jewelry and wardrobe items from the set of the FX comedy series. TMZ.com reports that sources on the set are making the accusation.

“We're told during filming ... Lindsay decided she was going out clubbing one night, and took a bracelet, a necklace, earrings, pants and shoes from the wardrobe department. Yes, the stuff never came back,” TMZ reports.

The piece adds: “Sources say Lindsay told people on the show ... producers would just take the value of the items out of her salary, but we're told that absolutely wasn't the deal.”

But that’s not the extent of the bad impression the actress made during her brief time with “Anger Management.”

“Multiple sources on the set tell TMZ Lindsay was ‘the biggest prima donna ever on “Anger Management.”’ We're told she showed up 2 hours late the second day, refused to come out of her trailer for 2 hours, left early to go clubbing and threatened not to return,” TMZ reports.

After Lohan left the set, the piece reports, the crew broke out in applause, with crew members calling her a “nightmare,” according to sources.

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Video: Did Savannah Guthrie Flip Off Matt Lauer On-Air?

As if NBC’s “Today” show needed any more controversy, a new one has erupted over whether Savannah Guthrie flipped off her co-host Matt Lauer on the air.

TMZ.com reports: “Matt Lauer definitely got the finger from co-host Savannah Guthrie this morning ... live on 'Today' ... only question is -- which finger?”

The incident took place during a segment about vacuum cleaners in which Lauer joked: "By the way this is the first time Savannah has ever used a vacuum."

TMZ adds: “Savannah apparently thought she was off camera when she fired off a one-finger salute in Matt's direction!”

Guthrie says it was her index finger, and she tweeted that she would prove it with photographic evidence. Meanwhile, here’s the video:

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After 25 Seasons, a Show That Has Been a TV Fixture Is Canceled for the Second Time -- and This Time It May Be for Good

A TV show that has been a fixture on television for a quarter-century has been canceled -- for the second time. TVGuide.com reports that Lifetime canceled "America's Most Wanted" -- which Lifetime picked up after it was canceled by Fox.

“The decision effectively ends the groundbreaking reality series after 25 seasons, at least for now,” TV Guide reports. “Separately, however, the cable network is looking to stay in business with ‘AMW’ host and executive producer John Walsh. Lifetime is developing a pilot, tentatively titled ‘John Walsh Investigates,’ which would take a different approach to Walsh's ongoing crime fighting and victims' advocacy work.”

Walsh’s production company and Twentieth Television, the distributor of “AMW,” are believed to be contemplating shopping the show elsewhere, the piece notes, adding that the companies declined to comment.

“’AMW’ ultimately ran for 44 episodes on Lifetime, resulting in 36 captures,” the report notes. “But by the end of its run, ‘AMW’ wasn't making much noise in the ratings for Lifetime. The show's final episode aired October 12 and averaged just 807,000 viewers. Walsh and the ‘AMW’ producers had been talking to Lifetime about producing another round of episodes, but ultimately a deal was not reached.”

The show first aired on Fox in 1988, and is credited with helping law enforcement officials capture 1,202 fugitives, including helping authorities find the "person of interest" in Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen's murder, the piece notes. Fox ended the show''s original run in 2011, with 24 seasons under its belt, and Walsh approached other networks about picking up the show.

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Former Intern's Unflattering Claim Prompts Apology (of Sorts) From Matt Lauer

It’s being called an apology, but “Today” host Matt Lauer’s response to an unflattering tweet about him appears to fall into the “sorry you took it the wrong way” category.

According to The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed, Lauer’s former intern Mark Zinni -- now an anchor at Fox’s Cleveland affiliate -- tweeted that when he was an intern, Lauer was “not so nice.” Zinni also tweeted: "I was just a young kid with a bright future ahead of me."

Lauer, who has been embroiled in drama ever since NBC’s “Today” show sank in the ratings and Lauer was blamed by many viewers for the awkward ouster of Ann Curry, responded with his own tweet, writing: "huh? Always tried to be nice Mark. Sorry you didn't think so. Hope you're doing well."

THR adds: “Lesson to important TV anchors: Be polite to the ‘little’ people in the newsroom because one day they might call you out on Twitter in your darkest moment.”

Zinni followed up Thursday with a series of social media posts, including "be careful what you say on twitter, ha!" and "For the record, i wasn't 'disgruntled' ... I had a great time in '97!"

The timing appears to be bad for Lauer, with speculation currently swirling about his future on “Today.”

“As his reputation takes more hits, many media observers wonder how long Lauer, whose contract runs through 2014, will remain in the co-anchor's chair alongside Curry replacement Savannah Guthrie,” THR reports. “On Wednesday, NBC executives and sources close to Anderson Cooper denied reports that the CNN anchor had been approached about Lauer's job: The network did reach out to Cooper, THR reported, but he is not in line to replace Lauer.”

Zinni commented on his Twitter exchange in a post Thursday on FOX8.com, writing: "Darren Sweeney, an executive producer at FOX 8, asked about my experience with Matt Lauer. If you know me, you probably know that I don’t take myself too seriously. So, my answer was more of a joke about being young and naive during my time at Today, but I added that he wasn’t nice to me. I didn’t slam the guy, I just made an honest comment."

Zinni also wrote: "Twitter is a great resource for everyone because it’s instant and, thankfully, shorter than a phone call. Bottom line, I was shocked Matt Lauer even bothered with me and, really, he remembers me? I’m flattered."

mark-zinni.jpgMark Zinni

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Zucker's 'New Face of CNN' Sinks to New Ratings Low

CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker has called him "the new face of CNN," but it doesn't appear to be a face viewers want to see. Jake Tapper’s new 4 p.m. ET CNN program, "The Lead with Jake Tapper," hit a new low in viewers 25-54 Wednesday, according to Deadline.com.

The show drew 61,000 viewers in the adults 25-54 demo, in what Deadline calls "the worst the one-hour CNN show has done since its soft March 18 debut." The program pulled 318,000 total viewers.

It has done worse in total viewers, drawing only 258,000 viewers on March 22, although it attracted 68,000 viewers in the demo on that day.

“The best the Tapper-fronted show has done came on March 26, when it pulled in 433,000 viewers and 113,000 among 25-54,” the story reports. “The show debuted with 400,000 viewers and 87,000 in the demo. But that’s cold comfort when Wednesday’s edition was well behind the 1.222 million viewers who watched Fox New Channel’s ‘Your World With Neil Cavuto’ in the same time slot; the FNC show pulled in 199,000 in thedemo. ‘The Lead’ was also behind MSNBC’s ‘Martin Bashir,’ which drew 383,000 viewers but doubled CNN with 124,000 in the key demo.

Through Wednesday, the new CNN show is off 32% in total viewers and 34% in 25-54 from the same period a year ago, when the slot was held down by the first hour of “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.” But “The Lead” has managed to improve on some of Blitzer’s recent numbers.

“In the 4-5 p.m. time slot, ‘Situation Room’ hit 56,000 in the demo on February 5, 54,000 on March 11 and a low of 53,000 on February 26,” the piece reports. “The latter was actually the lowest pull in the demo since November 23, 2007.”

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for jake-tapper.jpg

Jake Tapper

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