Aug 19, 2014
1:33 pm

Astronaut Sitcom Lands at ABC (Deadline)

ABC has come out on top in a competition for a hot new comedy project. reports that the Alphabet Network landed the multicamera comedy “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth,” giving the project from “Surviving Jack” creators Justin Halpern and Patrick Schumacker a pilot production commitment.

“The project, from Warner Bros. TV, where the duo is under an overall deal, and 3 Arts Entertainment, is based on the memoir by Col. Chris Hadfield, a seasoned Canadian astronaut who became an Internet star with his videos from the International Space Station,” the story reports. “The TV series is described as a family comedy about an astronaut who is back from space and finds that re-entering domestic life might be the hardest mission he’s ever faced.”

Halpern and Schumacker, who also adapted “S#*! My Dad Says,” are set to write and executive produce, along with Erwin Stoff and Tom Lassally of 3 Arts. Hadfield is on board as a consulting producer.

chris hadfield

Chris Hadfield

Aug 19, 2014
1:30 pm

MTV Picks Up Drama Series for Another Season (TVWeek)

MTV today announced the renewal of a drama series. The cable channel said it will bring back “Finding Carter,” its newest scripted drama, for a 12-episode second season.

“The coming of age drama is currently 2014’s #1 new cable series with 12-34 year olds and with teens,” MTV said in its announcement. “To date, the series is averaging a strong 2.0 P12-34 rating and 2.2 million total viewers (live+3).”

Said Susanne Daniels, president of programming for MTV: “The creative minds behind ‘Finding Carter’ did an exceptional job bringing this story to life and drawing our audience in. I’m looking forward to another season following Carter on her journey.”

“’Finding Carter’ continues to experience strong ratings lifts with live+3 viewing,” the announcement notes. “On average, the series garners a nearly 70 percent increase when accounting for three days of delayed viewing. Episode five more than doubled its rating with a 111 percent lift (1.9 vs. 0.9), episode six jumped 82 percent (2.0 vs. 1.1) and last week’s episode increased 100 percent (1.8 vs. 0.9).”

The show stars Kathryn Prescott in the title role, along with Anna Jacoby-Heron and Cynthia Watros.


Aug 19, 2014
1:30 pm

Pay to Play? NFL Reportedly Wants a Cut of Sales From Musicians Who Perform at Super Bowl (WSJ)

The National Football League is changing the rules for musicians who perform during the halftime show at the Super Bowl, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

“In a twist this year, the league has asked artists under consideration for the high-profile gig to pay to play, according to people familiar with the matter,” the story reports. “The NFL has narrowed down the list of potential performers for the 2015 Super Bowl to three candidates: Rihanna, Katy Perry, and Coldplay, these people said. While notifying the artists’ camps of their candidacy, league representatives also asked at least some of the acts if they would be willing to contribute a portion of their post-Super Bowl tour income to the league, or if they would make some other type of financial contribution, in exchange for the halftime gig.”

Joanna Hunter, a spokeswoman for the NFL, wasn’t shedding any light, saying the league’s contracts with the performers are confidential and adding that the NFL’s goal is “to put on the best possible show.” On the subject of who would be performing, Hunter said, “When we have something to announce, we’ll announce it.”

The big game is scheduled for Feb. 1, 2015, near Phoenix.

“It’s unclear how much money the NFL was seeking, and whether it would likely have amounted to more or less than the extra income the chosen performer might stand to generate from the exposure. No decision has been made yet and it is possible another act could be selected,” The WSJ report notes.

Citing its inside sources, the article adds that the pay-to-play suggestion has not been well-received by reps for the artists.

The report notes: “The Super Bowl halftime show, which this year featured the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bruno Mars, drew a record 115.3 million viewers in February, according to the NFL, more than the game itself. The entire event averaged 112.2 million viewers, according to Nielsen.”

super bowl 2015-early logo

Aug 19, 2014
1:01 pm

Discovery Swims Into Uncharted Waters With Shark Week (TVWeek)

Discovery Channel announced that Shark Week 2014 has earned the highest ratings in the programming event’s 27-year history in a number of key demos.

The event set new high-water marks in persons 25-54, women 25-54 and women 18-49 from Aug. 10-16, the network announced. In women 18-49 it was the channel’s highest-rated week ever, topping a record that had stood since 2000.

The turnout for Shark Week made Discovery Channel the No. 1 network in all of television in prime time among men 18-34 and 18-49 for the week — ahead of all broadcast and cable competition.

“Shark Week 2014 garnered the network’s highest-rated Sunday-Thursday (1.64 P25-54) and Sunday-Saturday Prime (1.42 P25-54),” Discovery announced.

“The return of Shark Week’s late-night talk show, ‘Shark After Dark,’ beat popular talk shows in most key demos Sunday, August 10, through Thursday, August 14, and was up 3% from last year. ‘Shark After Dark’ out-delivered every late-night cable talk show competitor including Comedy Central’s ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’ and ‘The Colbert Report,’ TBS’s ‘Conan,’ E!’s ‘Chelsea Lately’ and ‘The Soup,’ HBO’s ‘Last Week Tonight,’” the announcement adds.

The release notes that a number of programs aired as part of Shark Week came in at No. 1 for the night among all cable programs or all TV programs:

– Sunday’s “Shark of Darkness: Wrath of Submarine” is the #1 cable telecast of 3Q14 among Men 18-49 and 25-54 delivery (excluding sports) and was also the #1 telecast in ALL OF TELEVISION on Sunday evening among Persons 18-34 (no exclusions).

– On Monday, “Jaws Strikes Back” was the #1 non-sports telecast in ALL OF TELEVISION on Monday evening among Men 18-49 delivery.

– “Alien Sharks: Return to the Abyss” was Tuesday’s #1 program in all of TV among M18-49 and M18-34 (no exclusions).

– “Sharkageddon” ranked as the #1 cable telecast on Thursday evening among M18-49 delivery and P18-49 (excluding sports).

– “Megalodon: New Evidence” ranked as the #1 cable telecast on Friday evening among P25-54 and P18-49 delivery (no exclusions); it was also #1 in cable among M25-54 and M18-49 delivery (excluding sports).


Aug 19, 2014
12:31 pm

Cable Drama Gets a Third Season (Deadline)

A cable drama series has been renewed for a third season. reports that the series “Rectify” received a pickup from Sundance.

The show is Sundance’s first wholly owned original scripted series, the report notes.

The network ordered a six-episode third season, equaling the first season. The drama’s second season, consisting of 10 episodes, will end Thursday.

The show is about a man who is freed from death row after new DNA evidence clears him of the rape and murder of his girlfriend.

“‘Rectify’ has evolved into a show much loved by critics and fans,” SundanceTV President Sarah Barnett said. “As SundanceTV’s first scripted series, it’s gratifying to see such distinctive and unusual storytelling embraced with such passion.”


Aug 19, 2014
10:01 am

Emmy-Winning Producer Dead at 81 (THR)

An Emmy-winning TV writer, producer and director who was behind a string of telefilms and uscripted programs has died. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Alan Landsburg, known for “That’s Incredible!” and “In Search of …,” among many other TV projects, died Thursday of natural causes in his Beverly Hills home. He was 81.

Nominated five times for Emmys, Landsburg won for executive producing the 1970 Hallmark Hall of Fame telefilm “A Storm in Summer,” which was written by Rod Serling, the story notes. In 1972, he was nominated for an Oscar for the documentary “Alaska Wilderness Lake.”

He often tapped into real social issues to explore in his telefilms, such as 1981’s “Bill,” which starred Mickey Rooney as a mentally disabled man who struggles to fit into society. The role earned Rooney an Emmy. Landsburg also executive produced 1989’s “The Ryan White Story,” about a child who contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion, and 1980’s “The Jayne Mansfield Story.”

“That’s Incredible,” on ABC, was hosted by John Davidson, Cathy Lee Crosby and Fran Tarkenton, and showcased people performing exceptional feats. “In Search Of …” was hosted by Leonard Nimoy and examined paranormal phenomena.

alan landsburg

Alan Landsburg

Aug 19, 2014
9:57 am

Why Katie Couric’s Return to NBC’s ‘Today’ Show Won’t Be Happening (NY Post)

Despite indications that former “Today” regular Katie Couric was headed back to the NBC morning program as a guest host, that plan is now dead, reports the New York Post’s Page Six. The publication reports that the arrangement was quashed because Couric insisted on a longer run and network executives refused.

Couric was asked to be a guest host for one day, returning to the side of Matt Lauer while Savannah Guthrie is on maternity leave, the story notes.

“We hear NBC offered one-day stints to Couric and other special guests, including Jane Pauley and Barbara Walters. But Couric turned it down, saying she wouldn’t accept a one-day role,” the publication reports. “Well-placed NBC sources say Couric insisted on a longer relationship of up to two weeks” and executives balked.

A representative for Couric said, “She loves the folks at ‘Today’ and is flattered by the speculation, but nothing has changed.” Representatives for “Today” had no comment.

katie couric

Katie Couric

Aug 19, 2014
9:49 am

Veteran ‘Dancing with the Stars’ Dancer to Return to the Show — But Not as a Dancer (TMZ)

A popular dancer who left the ABC dancing competition “Dancing with the Stars” to take a shot at an acting and singing career is headed back to the show. reports that “Dancing” is bringing back Julianne Hough, although she will be in a new role this time.

Hough will return as a judge, after producers offered her the fourth judge’s spot. Hough and the producers are currently negotiating, but a deal is expected, the story says.

“Julianne left the show years ago to pursue an acting and singing career, but it’s been rough going … particularly ‘Rock of Ages’ and ‘Footloose,’” the story reports. “We’re told her commitment to ‘DWTS’ is only a couple of hours a week, so she’ll still pursue acting.”

julianne hough

Julianne Hough

Aug 19, 2014
9:41 am

Keanu Reeves Headed to TV (Deadline)

Actor Keanu Reeves, known for films such as “The Matrix,” is moving into television with an hourlong series project called “Rain,” reports

The project, from Slingshot Global Media, is based on the book series by Barry Eisler, with Reeves starring and executive producing, the story says. The role marks Reeves’ first major foray into TV series acting and producing.

It’s also the first series from Slingshot, which was created in February by FremantleMedia’s David Ellender.

“We are extremely excited to be working on a beloved property with such a talented and hard-working actor as Keanu,” Ellender said. “This series will be the launch pad for the company and highlight our talent-focused, quality-based approach within the ever-changing and expanding television space.”

The series focuses on John Rain, played by Reeves, a half-Japanese, half-American assassin who makes it look as if his victims have died natural deaths. Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, who are directing Reeves in “John Wick,” will also executive produce.

“As a huge fan of Barry’s work, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to bring his iconic character and incredible world to life,” Reeves said. “I’m looking forward to partnering with Slingshot on my first series, and reteaming with Chad and David.”

keanu reeves

Keanu Reeves

Aug 19, 2014
9:37 am

NFL Announcers to Avoid Using the Term ‘Redskins’ (AP)

Two prominent network NFL announcers say they will no longer use the term “Redskins” in reference to the league’s Washington franchise. The Associated Press reports that CBS lead analyst Phil Simms and NBC’s Tony Dungy indicated they plan to stop using the term.

“My very first thought is it will be ‘Washington’ the whole game,” Simms told the news service.

The report notes: “Simms will work the Thursday night package the network acquired this season and will have Giants-Redskins on Sept. 25. He isn’t taking sides in the debate over whether Washington’s nickname is offensive or racist. But he says he is sensitive to the complaints about the name, and his instincts now are to not use ‘Redskins’ in his announcing.”

Several CBS announcers said they will continue to use the name, with CBS studio crew member and Westwood One analyst Boomer Esiason saying at a network news conference about the network’s NFL coverage, “That’s the name of their team and that’s what I am going to use.”

CBS said previously that it would leave the decision about whether to use the term up to the individual announcers. Some people have criticized the team’s name as offensive, with NBC’s Bob Costas last year saying, “Ask yourself what the equivalent would be, if directed toward African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, or members of any other ethnic group. When considered that way, ‘Redskins’ can’t possibly honor a heritage, or noble character trait, nor can it possibly be considered a neutral term. It’s an insult, a slur, no matter how benign the present-day intent.”

phil simms

Phil Simms

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