February 2014

One Late-Night Talk Show Surges -- and It's Not Fallon or Letterman

The late-night talk show wars have network publicists working overtime on spin control, as interest has surged since Jimmy Fallon took over NBC's "Tonight Show."

NBC has kept especially busy crunching the numbers, with Fallon dominating the late-night landscape during NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics, and -- so far, at least -- maintaining his lead over rivals David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel during this week's post-Olympics cooldown.

But on Thursday night it was ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" that surged in the ratings -- not enough to catch Fallon, but enough to move into second place ahead of Letterman.

ABC was eager to point out that Kimmel had closed the gap on Fallon, noting in a press release: "Posting its closest finish yet in both total viewers [and] Adults 18-49, 'JKL' delivered its best results since competing with NBC’s 'Fallon,' while the new NBC program fell to its lowest numbers of the past 9 days."

The Nielsen 'live plus same day" Fast Nationals for Thursday night look like this:

NBC's "Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon": 4.456 million total viewers
ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live": 3.559 million
CBS's "Late Show with David Letterman": 2.710 million

NBC contrasted Fallon's result with the track record piled up by his predecessor on "Tonight," Jay Leno. The NBC press release noted that Fallon's Thursday show was "up 24% versus 'Tonight’s' Thursday average this season prior to Jay Leno’s finale (4.456 million vs. 3.603 million, L+SD)." Of course NBC also noted that Fallon's numbers topped both Kimmel and Letterman.

Meanwhile, ABC's release pumped up the growth factor for "Kimmel," reporting: "On Thursday, February 27, 2014, ABC’s 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' catapulted over Wednesday by 45% in Total Viewers (3.559 million vs. 2.456 million) to score its 2nd-most-watched telecast ever on any night in late-night, behind only the Matt Damon takeover episode (on 1/24/13). In addition, 'JKL' grew day to day by 94% in Adults 18-49 (1.214 million vs. 625,000) to its best performance in nearly 3 months -- since 12/5/13."

Both ABC and NBC found it worth mentioning who was on Kimmel's show Thursday. ABC included a straightforward note, reporting: "Thursday’s 'JKL' featured Kerry Washington, Michael Strahan and musical guest Juicy J featuring Wiz Khalifa."

NBC, meanwhile, added what sounded like a disclaimer after reporting the numbers for Fallon, Kimmel and Letterman: "Note 'Kimmel' featured guest Kerry Washington of 'Scandal,' ABC’s 10 p.m. series that delivered a dominant ratings win in that slot last night."

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Maxim Magazine Sold to Restaurant Holding Company -- Biglari Holdings Bought the Troubled Men's Title

By Michael Sebastian
Advertising Age

Here's hoping this deal is real: Alpha Media Group has sold Maxim magazine to a subsidiary of Biglari Holdings, a holding company that specializes in owning restaurants such as Steak 'n Shake, the companies said Thursday.

Maxim's current management team will continue to run the magazine and it will remain headquartered in New York. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Calls to Maxim and Biglari on Friday were not returned by press time.

In a press release issued late Thursday, Sardar Biglari, chairman and CEO of Biglari Holdings, said his company will make long-term investments in the Maxim brand. "Maxim's inclusion into our collection of companies will benefit from our financial strength," he said. "We plan to build the business on multiple dimensions, thereby energizing our readership and viewership."

Maxim had a turbulent 2013, including a previous sale attempt that failed spectacularly. In September, Alpha Media announced that it had struck a deal to sell Maxim to an affiliate of Darden Media Group, which planned to distribute Maxim's content across TV, radio and music platforms. That deal fell through after the buyer failed to secure the money for the actual purchase.

It was later alleged that Calvin Darden Jr., son of Darden Media Group Chairman Calvin Darden Sr., had impersonated his father in an effort to defraud investors of millions to buy Maxim. U.S. prosecutors brought charges against Calvin Darden Jr. last month.

Print ad pages at Maxim fell 17% in 2013, according to the Publishers Information Bureau, a much sharper decline than the industry-wide decline of 4.1%. Its total paid and verified circulation fell 20% to just over 2 million last year, with single-copy sales declining 22%, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.

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Bizarre Story of the Day: Men's Magazine Maxim Is Sold -- The Weird Part Is Who Bought It

The well-known men's magazine Maxim has been sold, according to a story by Advertising Age. The weird part of the story: A restaurant company bought the magazine.

"Alpha Media Group has sold Maxim magazine to a subsidiary of Biglari Holdings, a holding company that specializes in owning restaurants such as Steak 'n Shake, the companies said Thursday," Ad Age reports. "Maxim's current management team will continue to run the magazine and it will remain headquartered in New York. Terms of the deal were not disclosed."

Sardar Biglari, chairman and CEO of Biglari Holdings, issued a press release Thursday indicating that the company sees the Maxim brand as a long-term investment.

He said in the release: "Maxim's inclusion into our collection of companies will benefit from our financial strength. We plan to build the business on multiple dimensions, thereby energizing our readership and viewership."

Please click here to read the full report from Ad Age.

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Coroner: Toxic Mix of Drugs Killed Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman

New York City officials released details today on the death of Academy Award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, saying he died from a toxic mix of heroin and other drugs, the Associated Press reports.

"Hoffman died from a mix of heroin, cocaine, amphetamines and benzodiazepines, which are psychoactive drugs, said a spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner. The death was ruled an accident," the story reports, adding: "Law enforcement officials have said Hoffman was found Feb. 2 with a needle in his arm, and tests found heroin in samples from at least 50 packets in his Manhattan apartment."

The actor's death had been investigated as a suspected overdose. An autopsy earlier this month was reportedly inconclusive, prompting medical examiners to call for further tests.

"Authorities also found unused syringes, a charred spoon and various prescription medications, including a drug used to treat heroin addiction, a blood-pressure medication and a muscle relaxant," the story reports.

Hoffman won an Oscar for the 2005 movie "Capote." He died at 46.

The report notes: Investigators have been probing how Hoffman may have obtained the heroin. Tests of the heroin in his apartment have found that it was not cut with a dangerous additive such as fentanyl, a synthetic form of morphine used to intensify the high that has been linked to deaths in other states."

The story adds: "A musician, veteran jazz player Robert Vineberg, has been charged with keeping a heroin stash in a lower Manhattan apartment amid the investigation into Hoffman's death. Vineberg, who has said he was a friend of the Tony Award-nominated Hoffman, hasn't been charged in Hoffman's death and has said he didn't sell him the heroin found in his apartment."

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for philip seymour hoffman.jpgPhilip Seymour Hoffman

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You May Know 'Walking Dead' Is the Year's Highest-Rated Cable Drama ... and You Might Be Able to Guess No. 2 -- But as of Last Night, There's a New No. 3 in Town

A cable series had its season premiere Thursday night and shot right up to the No. 3 spot among the year's highest-rated cable dramas.

The show is History's "Vikings," which delivered 3.6 million total viewers for its season two premiere, based on Nielsen figures. That placed "Vikings" behind only AMC's ratings leader "The Walking Dead" and FX's No. 2 "American Horror Story: Coven" among cable drama series, History reported.

"Vikings" also pulled in 1.8 million adults 25-54, 1.7 million adults 18-49, 1.2 million men 25-54 and 1.1 million men 18-49, the network announced.

History was also touting the online impact of "Vikings," calling the show's launch "Twitter’s most talked about cable program for the night, up +28% versus season one’s debut, and History's most tweeted about premiere year-to-date." The announcement cites Nielsen SocialGuide.

vikings-season-2.jpgHistory's "Vikings"

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Fate of Supernatural Series Hangs in the Balance

The fate of a supernatural drama series remains uncertain -- at least in the U.S., as the show has been renewed by its Canadian network, Showcase.

The series is "Lost Girl," which runs on Syfy in the U.S., and according to The Hollywood Reporter, the cable channel says it hasn't yet made a decision on whether to bring the series back for a fifth season.

Showcase, meanwhile, has ordered another 13 episodes, the report notes.

The drama follows Bo, a succubus played by Anna Silk, who feeds on sexual energy as she deals with the clans the Light Fae and the Dark Fae. The series, from Canadian producer Prodigy Pictures, will start production on its fifth season in the spring, with a fall 2014 debut planned -- at least in Canada.

anna silk.jpgAnna Silk

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Onetime Ratings Juggernaut Sinks to a Historic Low

Thursday's prime-time ratings saw one long-running show make history -- and not the good kind. Based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo, Fox's "American Idol," which once ruled the airwaves, delivered the lowest number in its 13-season history.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "Idol" delivered a 2.3 average rating, as Fox finished a distant third overall among the broadcast nets. The number was down from a 2.4 a week earlier -- which at the time was also an all-time low for the show.

Leading out from "Idol," Fox's "Rake" managed only a 0.8 in the 18-49 demo, falling two-tenths from a week ago.

The top show on broadcast prime was CBS's "The Big Bang Theory" with a 4.9 in viewers 18-49. While that number was down three-tenths of a point from the show's previous original episode, it was enough to help push CBS to a narrow win for the night over ABC.

CBS appeared to get a boost from a time-slot swap between "Two and a Half Men" and "The Crazy Ones." "Men" delivered a 2.5 average in 18-49 in its new 9 p.m. slot, rising six-tenths from its previous original episode, which aired at 9:30. "Crazy," now in the 9:30 slot, ticked up two-tenths to a 1.9, topping its 9 p.m. airing two weeks ago.

Also on CBS, "The Millers" was up two-tenths in viewers 18-49 from two weeks ago with a 2.8 average, while "Elementary" slipped two-tenths from its previous original to a 1.6.

ABC made the race interesting with strong showings for its returning dramas "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal." "Grey's" came back from hiatus to a 3.0 average in 18-49, up three-tenths from its previous original, while "Scandal" ticked up one-tenth to a 3.3. But the 8 p.m. special "Countdown to the Oscars" managed only a 1.0.

NBC settled into a tie for fourth place with Univision, as its Olympics buzz appears to be wearing off. "Hollywood Game Night's" 1.2 average in the 18-49 demo was the network's best number, followed by "Parenthood" with a 1.1 and both "Community" and "Parks and Recreation" with 1.0 averages.

For prime time overall, CBS's 2.5 average in viewers 18-49 was just enough for the win, topping ABC (2.4 average), Fox (1.5), and NBC and Univision (both 1.1). CBS also claimed a win in total viewers, averaging 10.5 million to lead ABC (7.8 million), Fox (6.6 million), NBC (3.2 million) and Univision (2.8 million).

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Leah Remini Reveals Why She Really Got Out of Scientology

Leah Remini said she doesn’t “want to be known as this bitter ex-Scientologist.” The former star of the long-running hit comedy series "The King of Queens" said in an interview with BuzzFeed: “I’m not trying to bash anybody and I’m not trying to be controversial. I just want people to know the truth."

The actress’ defection caused her onetime friend and Scientologist Kirstie Alley to call her “repulsive” and a “bigot” on a radio show, the piece points out.

“Remini has since learned, albeit the hard way, that honesty isn’t always the best policy in Hollywood, a place she’s called home since 1983 when her pregnant mother, Vicki, could no longer stand the living conditions her daughters endured at The Church of Scientology’s Clearwater, Florida location,” the story notes.

Remini tells the publication of her move to Florida when she was about 10, “We went from a middle-class lifestyle [in Brooklyn, N.Y.] to living in a roach-infested motel with six other girls off a freeway in Clearwater.”

She added, “We were separated from our mother. We had to sign billion-year contracts we didn’t understand. And we kept saying, ‘Why are you doing this to us? Why are we here?’”

Remini’s stepfather had convinced their mother to move to Florida for the church, but the stepfather never followed, the piece notes. Remini’s family immediately started working for the church.

“We were working from morning until night with barely any schooling,” Remini told the publication. “There was no saying no. There was no being tired. There was no, ‘I’m a little girl who just lost her father and everything I’ve ever known.’ There was only, ‘Get it done.’”

Eventually the family left Florida, although Remini said the move to Los Angeles wasn’t about show business.

“My mother had a friend who was willing to take us in for a month until we could get on our feet. So we lived on her floor,” she noted.

Soon, Remini said, she had an agent and was auditioning for parts, leading to roles on “Head of the Class” and “Living Dolls,” a spinoff of “Who’s the Boss.” She later went on to a run on CBS's "The King of Queens" from 1998-2007.

Regarding her decision to leave Scientology, the piece reports that it came down to Remini's desire not to put her daughter through what she had gone through.

"While Remini insists there were dozens of influencing factors fueling her decision to exit the notoriously controlling Church, none were more persuasive than her 9-year-old daughter, Sofia," the story repots.

Said Remini: “She was getting to the age where the acclimation into the Church would have to start.” The report adds that the process "begins with auditing. It includes having children answer questions like, Have you ever pretended to be ill? Have you ever decided you didn’t like some member of your family? Have you ever been a coward?"

Remini adds: “I started thinking of my own childhood and how I grew up resenting my mother because she was never home. It’s funny; somehow my father, the guy who left his kids and never paid child support, was excluded from my resentment and I grew up resenting my mother for not being home to make food, like all my friends’ moms were. But my mom thought she was doing something good; she thought she was helping the planet. That’s what the Church tells you.”

The report notes: "Like many churches that actively exclude non-members, Scientology reinforces a 'Church First' mantra, which became harder and harder for Remini to swallow."

Adds Remini: “In my house, it’s family first -- but I was spending most of my time at the Church. So I was saying ‘family first,’ but I wasn’t showing that. I didn’t like the message that sent my daughter.”

leah-remini2.jpgLeah Remini

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Ashton Kutcher Is Engaged to His Former Co-Star

“Two and a Half Men” star Ashton Kutcher is engaged to one of his former co-stars from “That ‘70s Show." People magazine reports that Kutcher and Mila Kunis have gotten engaged.

Kunis appeared in public Thursday with a diamond ring on her finger, the story notes. The pair, who had been rumored to be dating as far back as April 2012, had been talking about getting married for a while, the piece adds. Kunis is 30 and Kutcher is 36.

The engagement comes after Kutcher finalized his divorce from actress Demi Moore in November, about two years after the pair had separated.

Mila Kunis.jpgMila Kunis

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ABC Will Live-Stream the Oscars Telecast -- in Selected Cities (As David Letterman Would Say, 'We Just Hope to God Your City Has Been Selected); Here's the List of Cities ... Oh, and There's One Other Catch, Too

ABC will live-stream the Academy Awards ceremony Sunday, marking the first time it has done so. But the Los Angeles Times’ Company Town reports that the service has significant limitations as only eight markets will be given the stream, and viewers must have a subscription to one of a few pay-TV services to get it.

Viewers who are interested in streaming the event will need to activate the “Watch ABC” digital application and verify that they are a subscriber to one of the services, the story notes. The live-streaming rights are only available to those pay-TV services that have recently entered new distribution deals with ABC and parent Walt Disney Co., the report points out.

According to the story, "In addition to Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, the streaming service will be available to customers of Cablevision, Cox Communications, Charter Communications and Midcontinent Communications in the eight markets where ABC owns the local ABC affiliate station."

Digital streaming rights weren’t included in older agreements, the piece notes.

The markets where streaming will be available are Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh-Durham and Fresno.

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