October 2013

Finally! FAA to Airlines: Stop Telling Passengers to Shut Off Their Electronic Devices

"Airplane travelers will soon be able to watch videos and play games with their electronic devices throughout their entire flight -- and not just above a certain altitude -- the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, in a long anticipated announcement," CNN reports.

The article continues, "But don't expect to be chatting on your cell phone. A ban on using cell phones for voice communication remains in effect.

"The FAA, following months of study by a group of aviation experts, said that airlines can soon allow passengers to use portable electronic devices such as tablets, laptop computers, e-readers and cell phones in airplane mode throughout the flight -- with some circumstantial restrictions."

The articles adds, "Until now, passengers in the United States were prohibited from using the devices until their plane rose above 10,000 feet. The timing of the changes will depend on individual airlines, but an FAA statement said it expects "many carriers will prove to the FAA that their planes allow passengers to safely use their devices in airplane mode, gate-to-gate, by the end of the year."

To read more details, please click here to read the full FAA press release about the new guidelines.

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Hedge Fund Tycoon -- and Co-Owner of Variety -- Tried Three Times to Have Deadline.com's Nikki Finke Fired, Vanity Fair Reports

A hedge fund tycoon -- who is also the co-owner of Variety -- tried three times to have Deadline.com founder and editor in chief Nikki Finke fired, reports Vanity Fair.

The online summary of the report says that Dan Loeb, who runs the "$14 billion hedge fund Third Point Capital," "tried to get star columnist Nikki Finke fired no fewer than three times, says a source in a December profile of the hedge funder by William D. Cohan."

Online, Vanity Fair only published a summary of the full article, which is in its print edition.

The summary continues: "Loeb, adds the source, tried to have Deadline boss Jay Penske keep Finke quiet after she criticized him, and his relationship with Penske, on the site’s blog. (A spokesperson for Penske claims that Loeb has never discussed editorial direction for Deadline.)"

The summary explains: "Loeb entered the picture in 2012, when Penske acquired Deadline competitor Variety. Loeb’s $14 billion hedge fund, Third Point Capital, helped finance the $25 million purchase (in exchange for a stake of about 20 percent)."

The summary continues: "Finke’s acute displeasure with Loeb became public this August, after Loeb filed two disparaging investor letters to Sony (in which he holds a billion-dollar position)."

At one point, according to the summary, Finke wrote: "I hope Hollywood expresses its disdain for Loeb’s despicable tactics by not reading or advertising in Variety, the in-house newsletter he owns with my boss Jay Penske. Loeb should learn his actions have consequences -- even if his Variety investment is flea-sized for a billionaire who made $500M off a single Greek bond bet."

The summary adds: "According to the insider, Loeb tried to have Penske muzzle Finke. 'I guess the only person who is allowed to have free speech is Daniel Loeb,' the insider told Cohan. 'I think that Jay has been embarrassed about being his partner because this guy is destabilizing Hollywood and Jay’s companies are dependent on Hollywood’s advertising.' (A spokesperson for Penske says, 'We are far from embarrassed about having one of the world’s most successful hedge funds, which is known as a serial value creator, as its equity partner on the Variety acquisition.')"

The summary also notes about this Finke piece about Loeb: "According to The Wall Street Journal, the post was taken down [from the Deadline.com site] and then mysteriously reappeared."

Finke has written a number of times about her displeasure with how Penske has managed Variety.

Recently, as we've previously reported, Finke has said she will be leaving Deadline.com, though she has not said exactly when that will happen, and is still with the publication. The headline Vanity Fair online has on its summary that was published Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, reads, "Did Dan Loeb Play a Role in Nikki Finke’s Exit From Deadline Hollywood?"

William Cohan, the author of the actual article that talks about Loeb and Finke in the December print edition of Vanity Fair, is a contributing editor for the magazine. He's a graduate of both the Columbia University School of Journalism and the Columbia University Graduate School of Business. Earlier in his career, according to Wikipedia, Cohan "worked on Wall Street for 17 years. He spent six years at Lazard Freres in New York, then Merrill Lynch & Co., and later became a managing director at JP Morgan Chase.

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NBC Lands 'Signature Comedy' Series From Tina Fey

A new comedy from "SNL" and "30 Rock" veteran Tina Fey has received a series order from NBC. EW.com reports that the series, which received a 13-episode order for fall 2014, will star "The Office" actress Ellie Kemper.

The sitcom will be written and produced by Fey and her "30 Rock" collaborator Robert Carlock.

NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt said: “Tina and Robert, who cemented their partnership on '30 Rock,' have created a new signature comedy for us that is audacious, emotional, and clever. While tapping into very relatable themes, there isn’t anything like this anywhere else on television. NBC has been their home for many years and we’re so happy that they’ve found another way to push the comedy envelope for us.”

Kemper will play a woman who escapes from a doomsday cult and seeks a fresh start in New York, the report notes.

NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke added: “Original voices like Tina and Robert don’t come along very often and we wanted them back on the air as soon as possible. And to have them working with Ellie Kemper -- who we watched grow up on 'The Office' from supporting player to leading actress -- puts the whole package together. We feel fortunate to be in business with this entire creative team on something so funny, unique, and attention-getting.”

ellie kemper.pngEllie Kemper

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Pop Superstar to Host 'SNL'

One of the biggest stars in pop music has signed on to host NBC's "Saturday Night Live." The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that Lady Gaga will host the Nov. 16 episode.

Also on tap is actor Josh Hutcherson of "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," who will host Nov. 23.

For Gaga, it will be her first time hosting the show. She will also appear as the musical guest -- her third time in that role. The singer is promoting her upcoming album "ARTPOP," the report notes.

"On Nov. 23, Hutcherson -- who reprises his role as Peeta in the 'Hunger Games' followup -- makes his hosting debut, one day after the anticipated 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' hits theaters Nov. 22," the story reports. "Southern California female trio HAIM is set as the evening's musical guest."

The lineup for this weekend has been set for a while, with "Scandal" actress Kerry Washington hosting and Eminem as musical guest.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for lady-gaga.pngLady Gaga

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Is the Fall Broadcast Season Already Running Out of Gas? More Shows Sink to Historic Lows

Prime-time shows across multiple broadcast networks sank to all-time lows and season lows Wednesday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that ABC's "Nashville," "Back in the Game" and "Super Fun Night" all equaled or surpassed their historic lows in the demo, while NBC's "Revolution" also matched its series low.

ABC's "The Middle," meanwhile, notched a new season low. On CBS, the numbers weren't at historic lows, but the entire prime-time lineup was down from last week's numbers.

Much of the damage appears to have been done by Fox's coverage of the deciding game of the World Series. The game, in which the Boston Red Sox clinched the championship by knocking out the St. Louis Cardinals, delivered a preliminary 5.4 average in 18-49 from 8-11 p.m., with 18.0 million total viewers.

The demo number was up 42% from Monday's Game 5, and gave Fox the distinction of notching the highest Wednesday rating for any broadcast network since Fox's own Jan. 30, 2013, airing of "American Idol." The report notes that the numbers for Fox are subject to more than the usual adjustments due to the nature of live programming.

Fox easily won the night, both in the 18-49 demo and in total viewers.

Second-place CBS saw "Survivor" slip 4% from a week ago to a 2.3 average in 18-49, while "Criminal Minds" lost 11% to come in with a 2.4 and "CSI" dipped 14% to a 1.8.

ABC managed to place third overall, even as "The Middle" recorded a season-low 2.1 average in viewers 18-49, off 5% from last week; "Back in the Game" equaled last week's series low with a 1.7; "Super Fun Night" fell to a series-low 1.8, losing 14% from a week ago; and "Nashville" fell 13% to a series-low 1.4.

NBC aired only an hour of fresh programming and finished well off the pace. "Revolution" delivered a 1.4 in the 18-49 demo, matching last week's series low. A two-hour "Law & Order: SVU" repeat notched a 1.0.

For prime time overall, Fox finished well ahead of the pack with a 5.4 average in adults 18-49, followed by CBS (2.2 average), ABC (1.8), NBC (1.2) and Univision (1.1). Fox outdistanced the field in total viewers as well, averaging 18.0 million to lead CBS (9.7 million), ABC (6.3 million), NBC (4.4 million) and Univision (3.1 million).

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Mick Jagger Denies Hitting on Katy Perry

Mick Jagger, the 70-year-old frontman for the Rolling Stones, had some 'splaining to do after pop star Katy Perry alleged that the legendary singer made a pass at her. But according to Jagger, it never happened, E! Online reports.

"While speaking with Australian DJs Ash, Kip & Luttsy on Nova FM during a recent interview, the 29-year-old performer revealed that she previously worked with the now-70-year-old singer before her career took off and even sang the back-up vocals on his hit 'Old Habits Die Hard,'" the story reports. "But that's not all the 'Roar' singer confessed -- she also claimed that [the] British rocker came on to her while the pair was out to dinner when Perry was just 18."

Perry is quoted as saying: "I actually went to dinner with [Jagger] one time, and he hit on me when I was like 18! Yeah but that was a long time ago, and since then he's been very kind and I got to sing 'Beast of Burden' on their stage with him on their tour on the Rolling Stone tour."

Asked how she could turn down a legend like Jagger, Perry reportedly joked: "Well you bring a friend and then they do them."

A representative for Jagger told E! News: "Mick Jagger categorically denies that he has ever made a pass at Katy Perry. ... Perhaps she is confusing him with someone else.''

Yeah, that could happen.

katy-perry.jpgKaty Perry

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Video: CBS's Scott Pelley Fulfills a Fantasy Many of Us May Have

CBS has released a video clip in which newsman Scott Pelley fulfills what is probably not an uncommon fantasy: getting behind the wheel of a 570-horsepower Lamborghini Gallardo and pushing it to 155 mph.

The clip is a teaser for a "60 Minutes" segment scheduled for this Sunday focused on the 50th anniversary of the car company.

Check it out:

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Where Did Late-Night Show's Audience Go?

The audience for a late-night program appears to have mysteriously vanished. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the stand-up comedy show "Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell," which moved in September to FXX after one season on FX, is "barely registering" in the ratings most nights.

"For instance, on Monday, the show drew only 12,000 total viewers at 11 p.m.," Andreeva writes. "Its adults 18-49 delivery was 4,000. In FXX’s target demo of adults 18-34 it averaged 3,000 viewers, while its young adults aged 18-24 audience was so minuscule, it was listed as 0 on the Nielsen charts. To put it in perspective, the second-lowest-rated cable late-night show among adults 18-49 on Monday, 'The Pete Holmes Show,' averaged 245,000 in the demo. That’s 61 times 'Totally Biased‘s' tally."

Andreeva adds: "In 18-34, the second-lowest-rated program, Bravo’s 'Watch What Happens Live,' scored 101,000 viewers, 34 times the viewership of 'Totally Biased.'"

Some dropoff was anticipated with the move from FX to FXX, which is distributed to 26 million fewer homes than FX, the report notes. Still, "those public access program-level numbers are puzzling as 'Totally Biased' was a solid and pretty stable ratings performer on FX," Andreeva writes. "Adding to the head-scratcher is the fact that 'Totally Biased‘s' 1 a.m. repeat on Monday night did far better than the 11 p.m. premiere, logging 39,000 total viewers and 27,000 adults 18-49."

The report notes that other than "Totally Biased," FXX carries only one night of originals, on Wednesdays.

"'Totally Biased' performs better on Wednesdays, following original series 'It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia' and 'The League,' drawing an average of 110,000 total viewers, 92,000 adults 18-49 and 64,000 adults 18-34," Andreeva notes in her report. "Still, that is less than a third of the show’s audience on FX in the final leg of its first season (372,000) and half or less of 'Totally Biased‘s' 18-49 (236,000) and 18-34 (127,000) Season 1D averages."

totally biased.jpg

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CBS Working on Spinoff for Veteran Comedy Series

A long-running CBS sitcom is winding down, but the network apparently wants to keep the franchise going in the form of a spinoff. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the network has started the ball rolling on a follow-up to "How I Met Your Mother."

"I’ve learned that the network is in talks with 'HIMYM' producer 20th Century Fox TV for a spinoff series, which takes a female spin on the original show," Andreeva writes. "Referred to as 'How I Met Your Father,' the spinoff is from 'HIMYM' creators/executive producers Carter Bays and Craig Thomas and 'Up All Night' creator/exec producer Emily Spivey."

The original series is currently in its ninth and final season. The spinoff would focus on a new group of friends, with a woman seeking her future husband.

Andreeva adds: "I hear the new characters could be introduced in the 'HIMYM' series finale, and Ted, Barney, Marshall, Lily and Robin’s favorite hangout, MacLaren’s Pub, may be featured on the new show, serving as a link between the two gangs."

How-I-Met-Your-Mother.jpg

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'X Factor' Ratings Bloodbath: A Not-So-Simple Problem for Simon

After Fox's "The X Factor" got trounced in the ratings Tuesday night, not just by rival singing competition "The Voice" on NBC but also by CBS's "NCIS," the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker is asking whether Simon Cowell can save the show.

"Fox's singing contest re-emerged Tuesday night with a serious baseball hangover, drooping to just 4.9 million total viewers with a two-hour special, according to Nielsen," Scott Collins writes in the Times piece. "True, Cowell's extravaganza has had to contend with several weeks of postseason baseball and World Series interruptions -- its most recent telecast before Tuesday was way back on Oct. 10 -- and the Tuesday slot is not its customary time period.

"But so what? Those are lousy numbers, no matter what sort of excuse is made for them. And given that 'X Factor' is one of TV's most expensive shows, that doesn't bode well for its future on the struggling Fox lineup."

The piece notes that "The Voice" delivered more than twice as many viewers Tuesday night -- 11.6 million -- going head-to-head part of the time with "X Factor."

"That's not all," Collins notes. "'X Factor' lost not only to 'NCIS' and 'The Biggest Loser' -- it barely beat 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' A repeat of 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' That hurts, people."

In Fox's target demo of viewers 18-49, "Factor" lost about one-fourth of its audience from earlier this month, the piece notes.

The problem, Collins writes, is bigger than just one night of bad numbers.

"'X Factor' has been deflating for some time. So what's the problem?," the piece asks. "After a rocky first season that ended with Cowell firing Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger as judges and basically starting over, the producers tried to ramp up the show-biz glitz and brought on Britney Spears, who lasted all of one harshly reviewed season.

"This time around, there's a lot of contrived suspense centered on 'four-chair challenges,' in which contestants who think they're safe might be scooped away at any minute. It's a lame attempt to inject some drama into proceedings that are supposedly about finding the best singer, not seeing who can survive the weirdest parliamentary challenges."

The bigger problem, the piece suggests, is a glut of TV singing competitions, with "The Voice" and "American Idol" proving stronger than Cowell's show.

"'X Factor' just doesn't have its act together the way 'The Voice' does," Collins writes. "In fact, it's making 'American Idol' -- which itself changes judges the way Lady Gaga changes costumes -- look like a model of stability and good taste."

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