TVBizWire

TVBIZWIRE
Nov 24, 2014
8:27 am
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ABC Cancels High-Profile Show Before It Hits the Air (THR)

ABC has pulled the plug on a troubled show that started out with a strong pedigree but never got past the pilot stage. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the network scrapped the high-profile project “Members Only.”

The straight-to-series midseason drama was to have starred John Stamos, with with Betsy Brandt of “Breaking Bad” in its ensemble cast, and would have been David O. Russell’s TV debut, THR reports. But the “American Hustle” director, who was to co-write and co-executive produce with Susannah Grant (“Erin Brockovich”), dropped out a month after the January pickup.

R.J. Cutler ended up directing the pilot for the planned series, which had an “Upstairs/Downstairs”-like plot but was set in a private country club. ABC reportedly delivered the bad news to the staff over the weekend.

members only-abc-title

TVBIZWIRE
Nov 24, 2014
8:17 am
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Why One of the Biggest Advertisers on TV Is Ditching an Iconic Ad Campaign That Has Been Airing for More Than a Quarter-Century (WSJ)

We’ve seen these heart-tugging spots on television for more than 25 years, but now they are about to go away, as one of TV’s biggest advertisers ditches its iconic advertising campaign.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Budweiser is ditching the Clydesdales because it wants to appeal to younger consumers.

Since 1987, Budweiser’s holiday marketing has featured beautiful Clydesdale horses pulling a red sleigh, but this year they will stay in the stable, WSJ reports. Instead of running ads that appeal to many age groups, Budweiser has decided to target 21- to 27-year-olds in an attempt to halt a slide in sales, the Journal reports.

In 1988, Budweiser was producing almost 50 million barrels annually; last year, it was down to 16 million barrels. Sister brand Bud Light surpassed it in 2001 as the top-selling beer.

To replace the horses in this year’s holiday spots, Budweiser has a campaign that asks, “If you could grab a Bud with any of your friends these holidays, who would it be?” as people in their 20s look into the camera and name their friends, the story reports.

Another upcoming change? In 2015 Budweiser plans to sponsor food festivals and “add parties in college towns around a two-day music festival it started with Jay-Z in Philadelphia in 2012.”

Here’s a Clydesdales commercial from the Super Bowl earlier this year that has become a viral sensation, with more than 53 million views on YouTube:

TVBIZWIRE
Nov 24, 2014
8:14 am
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Why Network Anchors Have Been Holding Secret Meetings (CNN)

A number of major television news anchors have been holding secret meetings in an attempt to land an interview with Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Miss., this summer.

CNN reported that NBC’s Matt Lauer, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, CBS’s Scott Pelley and CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon have all conducted off-the-record meetings with Wilson. The meetings are unusual because Wilson hasn’t been seen in public since Brown was killed in early August.

After “Reliable Sources” anchor Brian Stelter reported on the secret meetings Sunday, his fellow CNN journalists Cooper and Lemon confirmed via Twitter that the meetings had taken place, apparently in response to critical comments from viewers.

anderson cooper-ac360

TVBIZWIRE
Nov 24, 2014
8:11 am
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NBC Series Will Have a Short Run (Deadline)

NBC has given the word to the cast of one of its new fall dramas that no new episodes will be ordered this season beyond the first 13. Cast members on “Constantine” got the news Friday, Deadline.com reports.

Nonetheless, the show remains a contender for getting a second-season renewal, the report notes. The show will continue to run Fridays at 10 p.m. until all the new episodes are exhausted.

Deadline noted that if NBC had wanted to keep the show in continuous production it would have had to make a decision with ratings information from just a handful of episodes, because the show’s launch was delayed until late October.

Developed by Daniel Cerone and David S. Goyer, the show stars Matt Ryan as demon hunter John Constantine, with Angelica Celaya and Charles Helford also among the series regulars.

constantine-title

TVBIZWIRE
Nov 24, 2014
7:47 am
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New Details Surface About NBC’s Firing of Top ‘Today’ Exec (THR)

A new report says last week’s firing of Jamie Horowitz from the top job at NBC News’ “Today” show came after Horowitz proposed sweeping changes to the show. He was fired barely three months into his tenure, which was an observation period before his scheduled official start Dec. 1.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that his undoing came after he made a five-hour presentation in mid-November to NBC News President Deborah Turness that proposed sweeping changes that would have affected many of the show’s cast of characters.

Among Horowitz’s proposed changes: “Today” lead co-anchor Savannah Guthrie would be dropped, and Natalie Morales would be demoted, the story reports.

In addition, THR reports, his plan called for 10 a.m. co-anchor Hoda Kotb to move to the show’s earlier hours, and longtime weatherman Al Roker to be moved off that beat. Meanwhile, Josh Elliott was targeted by Horowitz for a much bigger role at the show.

Instead, Horowitz was summarily fired.

today show-title-cast-2014

TVBIZWIRE
Nov 24, 2014
7:41 am
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More Bad News for Bill Cosby (TMZ)

Veteran comedian and TV icon Bill Cosby is having a very bad few weeks, but things may have just gotten even worse. TMZ.com reports that Louisa Moritz, one of the comedian’s alleged sexual assault victims, has been meeting with lawyers in the Los Angeles area in an effort to put together a class-action lawsuit against him.

Moritz wants at least nine other alleged victims to join the suit, which could have more sway with a jury than if the alleged victims filed suits on their own.

But as TMZ notes, there are some problems with Moritz’s plan, including the statute of limitations — Moritz claims Cosby forced oral sex on her in 1971.

TVBIZWIRE
Nov 24, 2014
6:39 am
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Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Headliner Is Now Official — And This Amusing Teaser Video Has Been Released to Hype the Show (THR)

“Sunday Night Football” anchor Bob Costas officially announced who will headline the halftime performance at Super Bowl XLIX, which will air on NBC.

Costas broke the news during halftime of Sunday night’s Cowboy-Giants game, while the performer, Katy Perry, also announced the upcoming gig on her Twitter feed. Sunday’s halftime show then featured an original digital short starring Perry, which was produced by Super Bowl Halftime Show sponsor Pepsi, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

One of the most-watched musical events of the year, the Super Bowl Halftime Show in recent years has featured Bruno Mars, Madonna and Beyonce. Super Bowl XLIX will be played on Feb. 1.

Here’s the teaser clip featuring Perry:

TVBIZWIRE
Nov 24, 2014
6:01 am
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New CNN Show Ready for Unveiling (TVNewser)

A new CNN program that has been the subject of speculation for more than a year is finally ready to be announced. TVNewser reports that the program is being built around Bill Weir.

CNN hired the former ABC News “Nightline” anchor more than a year ago, but his rumored new program never appeared.

Now the network is preparing to take the wraps off the details of Weir’s new show, to be called “The Wonder List with Bill Weir.”

Weir writes: “It’s the most exciting project I’ve ever had.” Weir has done some fill-in anchoring at CNN since he arrived, but for the past four months he has been traveling for the new show, to six continents.

The new program already has a Twitter account, but hasn’t yet tweeted. CNN is expected to announce more about the new show today, TVNewser reports.

wonder list with bill weir-title

TVBIZWIRE
Nov 24, 2014
6:01 am
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ESPN Readies Its First Web-Only Subscription Service — But Before You Get Too Excited, It’s Aimed a Niche Audience … Are You a Part of the Niche? (Re/code)

ESPN is getting ready to launch its first Web video subscription service that would allow viewers to bypass the costly monthly cable fees.

But Re/code.net reports that the sports channel’s first Web video effort is likely to appeal to just a highly specialized group of viewers: those who like cricket.

Re/code.net reported that Disney-owned ESPN is eyeing live access to the every-four-years Cricket World Cup, which begins in February and is one of the world’s largest sports events. In the U.S., however, the company has calculated that the sport’s fan base is only about 30 million.

ESPN’s plans aren’t final, the site reported, and there’s no word on how much the Web package would cost. ESPN wouldn’t comment.

cricket world cup 2015

TVBIZWIRE
Nov 24, 2014
1:27 am
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Bombshell: Ex-NBC Employee Claims Bill Cosby Paid Off Women, Invited Young Models to Dressing Room as He Stood Guard. Plus, The Washington Post Publishes an Extraordinary Feature About the Allegations Against Cosby, Co-Written by Two Pulitzer Prize Winners (NY Daily News, Washington Post, USA Today, Florida Today, Chicago Tribune)

“Veteran NBC employee Frank Scotti says he helped Bill Cosby deliver thousands of dollars to eight different women in 1989-90,” reports the New York Daily News.

The story says one of the women was “Shawn Thompson, whose daughter Autumn Jackson claimed the actor was her dad. Scotti also tells the Daily News he stood guard whenever Cosby invited young models to his dressing room, which eventually led him to quitting after years on the job.”

The Daily News adds about Shawn Thompson and her daughter Autumn,“Cosby, while denying paternity, paid out more than $100,000 to Thompson over the years after their 1974 affair began. Scotti told The News that he believes Cosby was sleeping with all the women who received money.”

At least one of the women said she had not slept with Cosby.

The story also reports: “Cosby lawyer Martin Singer scoffed at Scotti’s claims. ‘What evidence does he have of Mr. Cosby’s involvement?’ Singer said Saturday. ‘How would Scotti know if a woman was a model or a secretary? It appears that his story is pure speculation so that he can get his 15 minutes of fame.’ ”

Meanwhile on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, The Washington Post published an extraordinarily lengthy feature — more than 7,500 words long — about the allegations against Cosby, written by four reporters, including two who have won Pulitzer Prizes.

According to the Post, the reporters were:

“Manuel Roig-Franzia … a writer in The Washington Post’s Style section. His long-form articles span a broad range of subjects, including politics, power and the culture of Washington, as well as profiling major political figures and authors.

“Scott Higham … a Pulitzer Prize-winning member of the investigations unit of The Washington Post. He has examined the deaths of D.C. foster children, the murder of intern Chandra Levy, conflicts of interest in Congress, the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, and waste and fraud in federal contracting.

“Paul Farhi [who] is The Washington Post’s media reporter, [and] Mary Pat Flaherty, [who] works on investigative and long-range stories. Her work has won numerous national awards, including the Pulitzer Prize.”

The Post feature said, in part: “Sixteen women have publicly stated that Cosby, now 77, sexually assaulted them, with 12 saying he drugged them first and another saying he tried to drug her. The Washington Post has interviewed five of those women, including a former Playboy Playmate who has never spoken publicly about her allegations. The women agreed to speak on the record and to have their identities revealed. The Post also has reviewed court records that shed light on the accusations of a former director of women’s basketball operations at Temple University who assembled 13 ‘Jane Doe’accusers in 2005 to testify on her behalf about their allegations against Cosby.

“The accusations, some of which Cosby has denied and others he has declined to discuss, span the arc of the comedy legend’s career, from his pioneering years as the first black star of a network television drama in 1965 to the mid-2000s, when Cosby was firmly entrenched as an elder statesman of the entertainment industry, a scolding public conscience of the African American community and a philanthropist. They also span a monumental generational shift in perceptions — from the sexually unrestrained ’60s to an era when the idea of date rape is well understood.”

USA Today published a good roundup of developments in the Cosby story over the weekend, including this from Cosby himself:

“I know people are tired of me not saying anything, but a guy doesn’t have to answer to innuendos,” the 77-year-old comedian and actor told Florida Today backstage at his show Friday night in Melbourne. “People should fact check. People shouldn’t have to go through that and shouldn’t answer to innuendos.”

Finally, on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, the Chicago Tribune published an editorial about the accusations against Cosby.

The editorial says, in part: “By Friday, 10 of Cosby’s accusers had identified themselves, something that is almost as rare in 2014 as it was in 1969. Take a look at the online comment threads if you wonder why that’s so. See the women’s stories picked apart by strangers who think rape happens only in dark alleys. Watch the video of a CNN interviewer asking Tarshis why she didn’t use her teeth to avoid forcible oral sex.

“No, these women aren’t basking in 15 minutes of fame. They’re not piling on a lawsuit. They’re not going to send Cosby to prison. They’re not going to get a confession or an apology or even a comment, according to Cosby’s lawyers.

“What they’re doing is airing a festering grievance, encouraged by a groundswell of public outrage fed by search engines and shared on social media. They’re making it weird to watch those reruns.

“They’re changing the conversation about rape in America. It isn’t pretty. But it’s a good thing.”

To learn more about the latest in the allegations against Cosby, we urge you to click on all of the links in this story.

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