June 2014

Denis Leary Returns to FX With New Series

Denis Leary, who had a seven-season run on FX with "Rescue Me," is back on the network with a new series. Writing on Deadline.com, Dominic Patten reports that FX Networks ordered Leary's "Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll" to series.

The music comedy is on tap for 2015, with the deal for a 10-episode season just finalized.

"Created, written by and starring Leary, 'Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll' centers on Johnny Rock, played by Leary. The lead singer of NYC’s legendary early-’90s band The Heathens, Rock is trying to get both his band and his life back together," Patten reports.

The cast includes John Corbett, Elizabeth Gillies, Bobby Kelly and Elaine Hendrix.

"Leary and partner Jim Serpico are executive producing through their Apostle banner. It is produced by FX Productions and Fox Television Studios and will be filmed on location in New York City, with the plan to feature original music and occasional guest appearances by real rock stars," the story reports.

In announcing the pickup, Fox TV Studios President David Madden said: “We have been honored by long-standing collaborations with both FX and Apostle, so it’s gratifying for us to be able to break new ground with them both. Our partnership with Denis and Apostle has been one of our most fruitful ventures, and this time out fans will definitely see a different Denis. As both actor and writer, Denis plunges into dazzlingly original arenas of dark comedy and, along with a stellar veteran cast, the results are just really funny.”

Leary added: “I am extremely elated at the opportunity to once again be working with John Landgraf and the fine executive talent over at FX. They have a great platform for comedy, an award-winning marketing team and an amazing new Nespresso machine in the conference room. The Gran Maestria C520 Platinum? Get this: It heats the cup! Also, doing this show with FX will allow me to live one of my last show-business dreams: Emmy winner Peter Tolan will be playing my gay stepdad. I know what you’re thinking -- isn’t Peter just a few years older than Denis? In fact, we are the same exact age. I’m just prettier.”

The report notes that the new series joins Billy Crystal's "The Comedians" on the FX Networks comedy slate, as the company has been aggressively developing comedies.

denis leary.jpgDenis Leary

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Video: Mick Jagger Goes Off on a Group of 'Wrinkly Old Men' -- and It's Not the Rolling Stones

Mick Jagger is in rare form on a new video in which the veteran rocker gripes about a bunch of "wrinkly old men" from the 1960s who are still on stage -- and it's not the Rolling Stones.

See for yourself:

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Is It Just Saber-Rattling, or Something More? Fox TV Stations on Verge of Dropping Nielsen

The Fox Television Stations Group is set to become the first network-owned station group in decades to dump Nielsen as its ratings service, MediaPost reports. The TV station group's long-term contract with Nielsen expires today.

"While sources say negotiations continued over the weekend, the two companies were characterized as being at loggerheads over some key contractual and methodological issues, and that the Fox stations were considering dropping Nielsen altogether and instead using rival TV ratings service Rentrak exclusively," the story reports.

The report adds: "Earlier this month, Fox became the first network-owned station group to agree to license Rentrak's digital set-top audience ratings for all of its stations. The deal covers 28 Fox-owned stations in 18 local TV markets from New York City to Ocala-Gainesville, Fla."

If the two parties fail to agree on a contract by the end of the day, "it would be the first time since Arbitron operated a competing local TV ratings service that a network-owned stations group agreed to do business exclusively with a ratings provider other than Nielsen," MediaPost notes.

Arbitron exited the local TV ratings game way back in 1993, and today operates as part of Nielsen.

"While Fox would be the highest-profile station group to walk away from Nielsen, others have already done so in selected markets. Two years ago, the Sinclair Broadcast Group went exclusively with Rentrak for ratings in four of its local TV markets," the story reports. "While other major station groups have also signed deals to license Rentrak data -- including a recent multi-market agreement by the CBS station group -- most of those deals have been more of a hedge to utilize Rentrak's data to augment conventional ratings contracts they have with Nielsen."


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Judge Rules in George Zimmerman's Case Against NBC

The decision is in for Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman's defamation lawsuit against NBC, with a Florida judge ruling against Zimmerman, TheWrap.com reports.

"Zimmerman, whose killing of Trayvon Martin set off a national debate about racism and stand-your-ground laws, had accused NBC of maliciously editing his 911 call to make him appear racist," the story reports. "A Florida judge granted NBC's motion for summary judgment against Zimmerman, saying he had not met the legal standard to prove malicious intent."

In a statement, NBC said: “NBC News is gratified by the court's dismissal of this lawsuit, which we have always believed to be without merit."

The case focuses on a 911 call made by Zimmerman on Feb. 26, 2012, the night he ended up shooting 17-year-old Martin.

Zimmerman told the 911 operator: “This guy looks like he's up to no good." After the operator asked the man's race, Zimmerman said, "He looks black."

"When NBC aired the call on March 27's 'Today' show, it edited the tape so it seemed Zimmerman had said without prompting, 'This guy looks like he's up to no good … he looks black,'" the story reports.

TheWrap adds: "NBC did not inform viewers that the call had been edited until several days later, saying, 'There was an error made in the production process that we deeply regret. We will be taking the necessary steps to prevent this from happening in the future and apologize to our viewers.' At least two NBC staffers were fired as a result."

george-zimmerman.jpgGeorge Zimmerman

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CBS's 'Big Brother' Wins the Night With Its Sunday Premiere

CBS's new season of reality competition "Big Brother" made its Sunday debut, carrying the night in broadcast prime time and helping CBS claim a share of No. 1 for the night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "Brother" delivered a 1.8 average in viewers 18-49 -- well ahead of the best any of the broadcast competition could muster. Its closest rivals were ABC's two-hour "Rising Star" and a "Family Guy" rerun on Fox, with both programs delivering 1.2 averages.

"Big Brother's" numbers, however, were down from previous outings -- off five-tenths from Thursday's installment and down one-tenth from the Sunday premiere a year ago.

CBS's drama series "Reckless" premiered with a 0.7 in 18-49, while the season premiere of "Unforgettable" pulled a 0.9 -- off four-tenths from its premiere last summer.

That 1.2 average for "Rising Star" represented a decline of three-tenths from last week for the ABC show, while "Wipeout" matched last week's 1.0 average in adults 18-49 as ABC tied CBS for No. 1 overall in the demo.

NBC was paced by a 1.1 average in adults 18-49 for its two-hour special "Last Comic Standing Room Only," pulling a 0.7 for a two-hour repeat of "American Ninja Warrior."

Fox aired all repeats and wound up in a tie with NBC for third place overall among the broadcast nets.

For prime time overall, CBS and ABC led the 18-49 demo with 1.1 averages, ahead of NBC and Fox (both with 0.9 averages) and Univision (0.7). CBS rolled to a win in total viewers with 6.1 million, topping ABC (4.5 million), NBC (3.1 million), Fox (2.0 million) and Univision (1.9 million).

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Oprah Loses Her Spot as the Most Powerful Celebrity -- Who's the New No. 1?

Forbes magazine today unveiled its annual Celebrity 100 List ranking the most powerful celebrities, and perennial front-runner Oprah Winfrey fell out of the top spot, dropping all the way to No. 4, The Guardian reports.

The new No. 1 is R&B star Beyonce.

"The singer earns an estimated $115 million per year, making $2.4 million per stop on the massive On the Run tour," the story reports. "Her husband Jay-Z is part of the same tour and also made the top 10, earning an estimated $60 million per year."

The report notes: "It was a good year for minorities on the list -- seven of the top eight most powerful celebrities, according to Forbes, are black; one, comedian Ellen DeGeneres, is gay. The magazine ranked the celebrities in order of their wealth and influence, measured by media appearances."

The report notes that on last year's list, six of the 10 top positions were held by women, but only two of the 10 -- Oprah and Beyonce -- were African-Americans.

"There was more reshuffling elsewhere on the list," the report notes. "Justin Bieber fell to 33 from number nine. Tennis star Roger Federer, director Steven Spielberg and the rock band Bon Jovi dropped out of the top 10 but still made the top 20."

Here's the Top 10:

1. Beyonce
2. LeBron James
3. Dr Dre
4. Oprah Winfrey
5. Ellen DeGeneres
6. Jay-Z
7. Floyd Mayweather
8. Rihanna
9. Katy Perry
10. Robert Downey Jr.


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Star of Aaliyah TV Movie Drops Out of Project -- and Tells Why

The Disney Channel star who was set to play the late R&B singer Aaliyah in a high-profile Lifetime biopic has bailed out on the TV movie, saying in effect that the project isn't ready for prime time.

Zendaya talked about her exit from “Aaliyah: Princess of R&B" on the red carpet at Sunday's BET Awards.

Variety quotes Zendaya saying: “Basically, I just felt that because I love her, and because I respect her so much as an artist, I don’t want to do anything that’s half or anything that’s less for her. I felt like some things with the production weren’t all the way there, the project wasn’t all the way there. If I’m going to do something for someone I care about so much, I have to do it the right way.”

Aaliyah's family has been fighting the project, the report notes. "Aaliyah’s cousin and president of her label Blackground Records Jomo Hankerson told the New York Daily News that the family wanted a bigger release for a biopic on the late R&B singer than Lifetime could provide," Variety reports. "Hankerson said the family wanted a 'major studio release,' citing Tina Turner film 'What’s Love Got To Do With It.'”

Zendaya indicated she's still interested in playing Aaliyah. Variety quotes her saying: “Honestly, I feel like I’m waiting for the right role to come up and I’ll be doing it again."

The report adds: "Zendaya’s departure from the film has caused production to be put on hold, Lifetime announced. Zendaya was also set to record four songs for the movie, based on 'Aaliyah: Princess of R&B' by former Time Magazine music editor Christopher John Farley."


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Robert Downey Jr.'s Son Arrested for Drugs

"Robert Downey Jr.'s son was arrested for cocaine possession" in West Hollywood yesterday afternoon, Sunday, June 29, 2014, TMZ reports, citing law enforcement sources.

The story reports: "An L.A. County Sheriff's deputy [had pulled over the car Indio Downey was riding in], did a search and allegedly found cocaine in Indio's possession. He was arrested and taken to jail for possession of cocaine.

"20-year-old Indio -- who appeared in 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' -- posted his $10K bail and was released just after midnight [early Monday morning]."

As the TMZ story notes, earlier in his career Robert Downey Jr. had huge struggles with drugs.


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Changing the TV Ad Game -- How One Major Broadcast Net Is Mining Gold From a Former Wasteland

With the competition for ad dollars in television tighter than ever, broadcasters can no longer afford to essentially go dark during the summer months, and CBS's scripted summer hit "Under the Dome" is helping to transform those months, once thought of as a wasteland from a business standpoint, into ad revenue.

Writing in B&C, Jon Lafayette reports that the success of the drama series last year made it a money maker, and CBS is taking steps to ensure it cashes in on the show in its second season.

"Media buyers expect season 2 to generate ratings similar to last year and have paid nearly 60% more for spots," Lafayette writes. "For CBS, the supernatural Stephen King show was set up to have its production costs covered before it even aired last year, thanks to international distribution deals and an exclusive streaming agreement with Amazon.com. Once the ratings rolled in, the ad revenue was pure gravy."

Season 1 of "Dome," consisting of 13 episodes, generated almost $39 million in ad revenue, the story reports, citing Kantar Media. "That contributed to a 13% increase in ad revenue at the network during the third quarter," Lafayette notes.

Said Linda Rene, executive VP of primetime sales and innovation for CBS: “The money follows the eyeballs and so the more eyeballs you bring to the set, the more money you get. Everybody was very excited about it last year, so there was a lot of interest in it. Now it’s a proven entity so everyone wants to run in it. It clearly is very important to be on the schedule for movie studios, but it’s a strong demographic, so it will work for every category."

Rene noted that season two is well-sold, but she declined to reveal numbers.

"CBS was able to sell 30-second spots in the first season of 'Under the Dome' for an average of $108,000, according to SQAD’s NetCosts service," the report notes. "That rate breaks down to a $56 cost-per-thousand-viewers in the adults 18-49 demo, a premium to the $48 CPM CBS generated for all of its third-quarter ad sales."

Media buyers have reportedly said commercials in season two are selling for about $170,000.

CBS is hoping to broaden its summer success story. "This year, CBS is adding another highly anticipated scripted show to its summer schedule with 'Extant,' starring Halle Berry," the report notes.

Rene adds: “There isn’t a client that’s coming in and spending money that doesn’t want those shows in their mix. Those are the hot shows."

A year-round programming model makes sense to buyers, the report notes.

Sam Armando, senior VP and director of strategic intelligence at Starcom MediaVest Group’s SMGx unit, said: “The broadcasters don’t go dark in the summer and neither do our clients’ businesses."

Adds Dave Campanelli, senior VP, director of national broadcast at Horizon Media: “I think it’s great what networks are doing during the summer. Cable nets have had a lot of success with summer shows and I think it’s important for the networks to get back in that game."

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Gross Alert: You Might Not Want to Look at This. FX Will Take Down Controversial Billboard Artwork for 'The Strain'

Don't click (nor scroll down to the rest of this item) if you don't want to see the artwork, which some have described as gross. ... The FX Network will bow to public pressure and change the artwork on billboards for its upcoming series "The Strain" after getting negative feedback, Alex Ben Block writes in The Hollywood Reporter.

The controversial artwork features a person's eye with a worm coming out of it. It has been widely criticized on social media.

In a statement, an FX spokesman said: “We are in the process of replacing the key art for 'The Strain' on outdoor media in several locations."

FX did not reveal how many billboards would be replaced.

The report quotes a complaint by Kate Aurthur of BuzzFeed, who wrote: “As a parent of small children -- not to mention an adult human being who hates worms coming out of eyes -- I’m surprised to see this image on public streets. I live in fear of my 4-year-old noticing it (he would cry, literally) and have taken to driving out of my way to avoid places where I know the billboard is … And I am not alone!”

A Tweet by screenwriter Kristin Smith reads: “Seriously, The Strain? I have to look at your disgusting eyeball billboard when I drive? Are you trying to make me crash and die?”

The series, based on a vampire novel by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, is set to premiere July 13, with del Toro and Hogan involved in the production.

"Del Toro reportedly first wanted to make 'The Strain' as a movie but was unable to get it financed so instead, at the suggestion of his agent, turned to TV," Ben Block notes.

FX-billboard-The Strain-worm.jpgArtwork for "The Strain"

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TVBizwire | June 30, 2014

Sumner Redstone's 'Live-In Girlfriend' is Suing His 'Former Protegee' for $1 Million

TVBizwire | June 30, 2014

Fox TV Stations Ramp Up News Coverage

TVBizwire | June 30, 2014

Chris Rock's Must-See BET Awards Opening Monologue

TVBizwire | June 30, 2014

Outrage Erupts Over Facebook's Psychological Experiment on Users Without Asking Their Permission

TVBizwire | June 30, 2014

Nicki Minaj Extends Her BET Awards Winning Streak -- Here's the Complete List of Winners and Nominees in Music, Sports, Entertainment ... Violence at Parties Taints This Year's Awards

TVBizwire | June 30, 2014

After Losing Its Big Battle in the Supreme Court, Aereo Suspended Its Service Over the Weekend

In Depth | June 30, 2014

2014 BET Awards -- Winners and Nominees

TVBizwire | June 30, 2014

Final Takeaway Thoughts From the PromaxBDA TV Station Summit

TVBizwire | June 30, 2014

The Queen of Soul is Reportedly Talking to Lifetime About a Biopic. Also, She's Working on Her First Album in Three Years

TVBizwire | June 30, 2014

Emmy-Nominated Co-Star on 'Designing Women' Dies at 67

TVBizwire | June 27, 2014

He Wrote the Rolling Stones' First No. 1 Hit. Singer, Songwriter, Musician Bobby Womack Dead at 70

In Depth | June 27, 2014

Aereo Defeat Sets Up Bigger, Broader Fight for TV -- Broadcasters Should Prepare for a New Look From Congress

TVBizwire | June 27, 2014

USA-Germany World Cup Match Draws Big Turnout for ESPN

TVBizwire | June 27, 2014

After Aereo Defeat, a Bigger Fight Looms for TV

TVBizwire | June 27, 2014

Shia LaBeouf Arrested After Incident in Theater

TVBizwire | June 27, 2014

Report: TV Viewing Linked to Early Death

TVBizwire | June 27, 2014

CBS Wins Prime Time as 'Big Brother' Holds Steady

TVBizwire | June 27, 2014

Which Fall Shows Are Most Likely to Bomb? An 'Unfunny, One-Note Show' Tops the List

TVBizwire | June 27, 2014

Matt Lauer Under Fire for a Question He Asked the Head of GM

TVBizwire | June 27, 2014

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