April 2014

Signature Shows on NBC and Fox Sink to Historic Ratings Lows

Two of the broadcast networks' signature prime-time shows -- one on NBC and one on Fox -- fell to all-time ratings lows Tuesday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that both NBC's "The Voice" and Fox's "Glee" hit series lows. "The Voice" was off 4% from a week ago with a 2.7 average rating in viewers 18-49, while "Glee" dipped 11% to a 0.8. Even with the erosion, "The Voice" was the top show of the night on broadcast prime as NBC finished a competitive second overall behind CBS.

NBC endured a night of lows for a couple of other shows too: "About a Boy" fell 11% from last week to match its series low with a 1.7 in the 18-49 demo, while "Growing Up Fisher" remained at a series-low 1.5, equaling last week's number. "Chicago Fire" defied the trend, rising 6% from its most recent original installment to a 1.7.

CBS got a solid performance out of its drama lineup to pull off a narrow win in the key demo and a dominant win in total viewers. "NCIS" rose 14% from its most recent episode to a 2.5 average in 18-49, "NCIS: Los Angeles" held steady with a 2.1 and "Person of Interest" ticked up 6% to a 1.9.

The CBS dramas were also the night's top three shows in total viewers, with 16.98 million for "NCIS," 14.78 million for "NCIS: LA" and 11.20 million for "Person of Interest." Next on the list was NBC's "The Voice" with 10.81 million.

ABC had mixed results, as "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD" equaled last week's 1.9 average in adults 18-49, "The Goldbergs" rose 14% from its most recent episode to a 1.6, "Trophy Wife" climbed 13% to a 0.9 and "Celebrity Wife Swap" lost one-tenth of a point to settle for a 0.8.

Along with "Glee's" low mark, Fox saw "New Girl" dip 17% from its most recent original installment to a series-low 0.8 average in 18-49. "The Mindy Project," however, ticked up 10% to a 1.1.

For prime time overall, CBS topped the list with a 2.2 average in the 18-49 demo, followed by NBC (2.0 average), ABC (1.3), Univision (1.2) and Fox (1.0). CBS dominated total viewers, averaging 14.3 million to lead NBC (8.0 million), ABC (4.0 million), Univision (2.9 million) and Fox (2.3 million).

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History Greenlights 'Pawnography'

History announced today that it is moving forward with the series "Pawnography," for a summer 2014 premiere. The cable channel picked up 10 episodes of the game show from Leftfield Pictures.

Elaine Frontain Bryant, Senior Vice President, Programming and Development, made the announcement.

“We are thrilled to work with Leftfield Pictures on this exciting and challenging new game show that combines the two elements that make ‘Pawn Stars’ an absolute fan favorite -- history and the fun, family-dynamic between the Harrisons and Chumlee,” Frontain Bryant said. “This show gives viewers the chance to go head-to-head with the man who knows a little bit about everything, Rick Harrison, and take home treasurable items from the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawnshop.”

The show will be a half-hour format, taped live in front of a studio audience. Production begins in Las Vegas next month.

"In each episode of 'Pawnography,' contestants will compete against each other and ‘The Pawn Stars’ in three rounds of trivia style questions -- that escalate in difficulty as the rounds advance -- to win money and coveted items from the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawnshop," the network said in its announcement. "Rick, Corey and Chumlee are featured in each episode as they vigorously defend their treasured items from confident and brainy contestants. The cherished items up for grabs are from Rick’s personal collection and he doesn’t want to give them up -- this is the only game show that doesn’t want the contestants to win!"

Russ McCarroll, Zachary Behr and Elaine Frontain Bryant are executive producers for History, with Brent Montgomery, David George, Shawn Witt and Michael Binkow executive producing for Leftfield Pictures.

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Executive Clashes and Pricey Production: Is Fox's High-Stakes 'Utopia' Turning Into a Dystopia?

Fox’s “Utopia” has been suffering from internal strife, including executive clashes, amid worries that ratings will fail to justify the reality show's $50 million price tag, reports TheWrap.com.

“This discord has placed a cloud over ‘Utopia,’ the first big greenlight from Simon Andreae, the executive vice president of alternative entertainment who was brought in to replace unscripted chief Mike Darnell last fall,” the piece notes.

The project will place a group of ordinary people in an isolated, undeveloped location, where they will create their own civilization.

“Fox intends to shoot the contenders around the clock in this ambitious production, live-streaming it online as well as possibly airing multiple episodes during the week," the story reports. "The hope, insiders say, is that ‘Utopia’ may be the ratings juggernaut Fox has been looking for to replace the failed ‘X Factor’ and the waning ‘American Idol.'"

One executive told TheWrap that the price tag for the project is “on the very high end of staggering.”

The costs are leading to friction between Andreae and David Hill, News Corp.’s live sporting event czar, the story adds. Hill is reportedly concerned the show may end up being an expensive embarrassment.

Fox declined to comment.

simon andreae.pngSimon Andreae

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'Judge Judy' Ready for Prime Time

"Judge Judy" is going prime time. The Hollywood Reporter says the high-rated syndicated daytime court show is set for a one-hour prime-time special on CBS.

"Judge Judy Primetime" will examine the transition of Judith Sheindlin from a family court judge in New York to her role on "Judge Judy," and will feature new cases. The show is set to air Tuesday, May 20, at 8 p.m. ET/PT, the story notes.

"The special will also include 'Judyisms,' Sheindlin's one-liners that have been parodied on late-night programs such as 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!' and 'Saturday Night Live,'" THR notes. "Additionally, the special will have clips from the '60 Minutes' piece in 1993 and a 2003 follow-up."

The daytime version of "Judge Judy" rolled out in September 1996 and has been the top court program in the country, and for the past three years has been the No. 1 first-run syndicated show, the piece notes.

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Judy Sheindlin

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Deja Vu: Ad Sales Forecast Looks Familiar

With the networks preparing their upfront presentations, JP Morgan Equity Research has a forecast for this year’s ad sales, and it’s looking familiar, reports MediaPost’s MediaDailyNews.

The upfront looks similar to last year: Revenue is expected to dip at the broadcast networks, while cable is slated to see higher volume, according to the report.

Broadcast network upfront dollar volume is likely to slip 2% to 3%, while cable networks may gain 5% in ad sales, the story notes. As for CPMs, broadcast may receive low single-digit increases, while cable networks are expected to receive a 5% bump, on average.

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Oscar-Nominated Actor Dead at 71

An acclaimed actor who racked up a string of credits in beloved films -- including an Academy Award nomination in 1987 for "Mona Lisa" -- has died. CNN Reports that Bob Hoskins died Tuesday at 71.

His publicist, Clair Dobbs, confirmed the death of the actor known for his roles as mobsters and tough guys in films including "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," "The Long Good Friday" and "Mermaids."

"His passing comes nearly two years after he retired from acting following a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease," the CNN story reports, adding: "Hoskins was perhaps best known for 1988's live-action and animation hybrid 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit.' In the comedy, he played detective Eddie Valiant, who hates 'toons' -- cartoon figures who live in a separate showbiz world bordering Valiant's 1940s Los Angeles -- and takes up the task of proving the innocence of the cartoon title character, accused of murder. The film was the second-highest grossing movie of 1988, after 'Rain Man.'"

Hoskins won a Golden Globe for "Mona Lisa" and was nominated for Globes for "Roger Rabbit" and for the 2005 film "Mrs. Henderson Presents." His other film credits include "Hook," "Nixon," "Neverland" and "Snow White and the Huntsman."

bob hoskins.jpgBob Hoskins

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After Rumors Surface About Trouble on the Set of 'Glee,' Reps for Actress Deny She Has Been Fired From the Show

Representatives for one of the cast members on the Fox musical dramedy "Glee" are denying that the actress has been fired from the program.

EW.com's Inside TV reports that reps for Naya Rivera, who plays Santana Lopez on the show, said: “Any reports or rumors circulating that Naya Rivera was let go or fired from ‘Glee’ are absolutely untrue. End of story."

The statement comes after E! Online reported that Rivera had been written out of the script of the season finale, adding that the decision had nothing to do with a rumored falling out between Rivera and series star Lea Michele. The E! report cites multiple sources, but notes that Fox was not commenting.

It reportedly hasn’t been decided whether Rivera, who plays Santana Lopez, will return for the show’s sixth and final season, E! Online noted.

naya rivera.jpgNaya Rivera

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Why an IOC Official Says Prep for the 2016 Summer Olympics Is the Worst He's Seen

International Olympic Committee Vice Chairman John Coates said preparation for the 2016 Summer Olympics, to be held in Rio de Janerio, is “the worst I have experienced," reports TheWrap.com.

"We've become very concerned," Coates said, adding: "They really are not ready in many, many ways."

TheWrap notes: “Two years away, there has been very little construction other than simply clearing of venue areas, Coates said. Water quality is also [a] concern."

Coates added that the Olympics will go on in Rio, regardless. “There can be no Plan B -- we are going to Rio,” he said.

Coates’ warning was unusually blunt, notes CBS News. He has made six trips to Brazil as part of the IOC’s coordination commission for Rio, and said the country is in worse shape than Greek organizers were in getting ready for the 2004 Athens Games.

"Coates noted that the IOC had taken the unprecedented step of embedding experts in the host city to help the local organizing committee deliver the Games," the CBS News report adds.

Coates told an Olympic forum in Sydney that construction delays are only a part of the problem, and said: "The IOC has formed a special task force to try and speed up preparations but the situation is critical on the ground."

Coates added: "The IOC has adopted a more hands-on role. It is unprecedented for the IOC."

Here's a clip of Coates' comments:

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Rock Star Confirms She's Joining NBC's 'The Voice'

A multimillion-selling singer-songwriter who has had a string of hits both with her rock band and as a solo act has confirmed she is joining the NBC singing competition "The Voice." People reports that Gwen Stefani confirmed the news succinctly in an Instagram caption.

"It's true! gx @nbcthevoice," Stefani wrote in the caption.

Her confirmation comes after reports surfaced that Stefani would be replacing Christina Aguilera on the show.

Aguilera, who is expecting a child, welcomed Stefani with a tweet that read, “So excited to have you join #TheVoice squad, @GwenStefani! Welcome to our crazy fam!”

Stefani, who sold more than 7 million copies of her 2004 solo album "Love. Angel. Music. Baby.," recorded during a hiatus from her band No Doubt, will judge contestants on "The Voice" along with Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and Pharrell Williams.

She has reportedly racked up sales of more than 30 million albums worldwide, between her solo work and her No Doubt releases.

gwen stefani 2.jpgGwen Stefani

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Starz Orders Seth MacFarlane Comedy Series Starring 'X-Men' and 'Star Trek' Actor

Starz has ordered two seasons of a scripted comedy from Seth MacFarlane called “Blunt Talk” that stars “X-Men” actor Patrick Stewart, reports The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed.

The project received a 20-episode pickup, with the order to be split between two seasons of 10 episodes each. Stewart is also producing the series, while Jonathan Ames of “Bored to Death” will executive produce and serve as showrunner.

The series is about a British transplant, Walter Blunt (Stewart), who wants to become a success on American cable news.

“Through the platform of his nightly interview show, Blunt is on a mission to impart his wisdom and guidance on how Americans should live, think and behave. Besieged by network bosses, a dysfunctional news staff, numerous ex-wives and children of all ages, Blunt’s only supporter is the alcoholic manservant he brought with him from the U.K. to join him in Los Angeles,” the story notes.

Stewart, a veteran Shakespearean stage actor, is also known for his run as Captain Jean-Luc Picard on "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

patrick stewart.pngPatrick Stewart

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