May 25, 2016
11:57 am

Actress Known for Long-Running Sitcom Role Dies (AP, TVWeek, YouTube)

An actress who is remembered for playing a beloved character on a popular comedy series has died. The AP reports that Beth Howland, known for her role as the ditzy waitress Vera on the CBS sitcom “Alice,” died of lung cancer.

Howland, 74, reportedly died Dec. 31 in Santa Monica, Calif., although her death was not publicly announced at the time. Her husband, actor Charles Kimbrough, has confirmed her death.

“Howland was born May 28, 1941, in Boston,” the AP reports. “At 16, she landed a role on Broadway alongside Dick Van Dyke in ‘Bye Bye Birdie.’ CBS later noticed Howland on stage in the 1970 production of ‘Company’ and brought her to Hollywood for a bit part on ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show.'”

She had a number of minor roles on TV, including “The Love Boat” and “Little House on the Prairie,” before landing her career-defining role on “Alice,” which was based on the 1974 Martin Scorsese film “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.” The comedy, which also starred Linda Lavin and Vic Tayback, went on to a nine-season run from 1976-1985, with Howland earning four Golden Globe nominations for her work on the show.

Here’s a short clip from “Alice” featuring Howland’s character, Vera, demonstrating scream therapy.

May 25, 2016
11:33 am

Paul McCartney Talks About His Depression and Alcohol Use After the Beatles Broke Up (NY Post, YouTube)

The breakup of the Beatles back in 1970 left Paul McCartney depressed and pushed him to alcohol, McCartney revealed during a taping of BBC radio’s “Mastertapes,” the New York Post’s Page Six reports.

McCartney, 73, is quoted saying: “I was so depressed. You would be. … You were breaking from your lifelong friends.”

He adds: “So I took to the bevvies. I took to a wee dram. It was great at first, then suddenly I wasn’t having a good time. … I wanted to get back to square one, so I ended up forming Wings.”

McCartney had a pretty good run in the 1970s with Wings, which included his wife, Linda. But McCartney admits that the group was a step down from the Beatles.

“We were terrible,” he said of Wings. “We knew Linda couldn’t play, but she learned, and looking back on it, I’m really glad we did it. … I could have just formed a supergroup, rung up Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page and John Bonham. But you still remember the names of the people who gave you really bad, vicious reviews: Charles Shaar Murray shall ever be hated!”

May 25, 2016
11:07 am

Highlights of the 2016 TV Upfronts (TVWeek)

The broadcast nets and cable groups have wrapped up the 2016 television upfront presentations, and TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin has been keeping track of the highlights.

Please click here to read her roundup of the most memorable presentations and programming from NBCUniversal, CBS, Fox, ABC, ESPN, Turner and others.

May 25, 2016
10:57 am

Acclaimed Cable Drama Series Gets Two More Seasons — and That’s It (TVWeek, FX)

The endgame is mapped out for a cable drama that has been chalking up Emmy nominations for a few years. FX gave a two-season pickup to “The Americans,” which will wrap with a sixth and final season in 2018.

Season five will run 13 episodes and is set to bow in 2017. The final season will consist of 10 episodes.

In a statement, showrunners Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg said: “It’s hard to believe we’re heading into the final stretch on ‘The Americans,’ and we’re so grateful to know we’ll be telling the story to its conclusion. The best part of the last four years has been the intensive and fruitful collaboration with all of the people who make this show. … We’re looking forward to the final two.”

The series, which stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as Russian spies living as a typical American family in the U.S., has been a consistent presence at industry awards events, including winning a Peabody last year. The show has received five Primetime Emmy nominations, including a win for Margo Martindale as Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series in 2015.

The AFI Awards named “The Americans” among its TV Programs of the Year for the past three years.

Said Eric Schrier, president of original programming for FX: “Through its first four seasons, critics have lauded ‘The Americans’ as one of the best shows on television and, remarkably, a series that keeps getting better every year. All credit for that achievement goes to everyone who has worked on the show.”

Season four is currently airing, with the finale set for June 8.

May 25, 2016
10:39 am

Spoiler Alert: Who Won ‘The Voice’ and ‘DWTS’ Last Night? (TVWeek, ABC)

Two major broadcast reality shows crowned their season champions Tuesday night. In case you missed it (SPOILER ALERT), NBC’s “The Voice” crowned Alisan Porter as the season 10 champion, and ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” named Nyle DiMarco and his dance pro partner Peta Murgatroyd as the season 22 winners.

DiMarco, a model and actor, is the first deaf winner of “DWTS.”

“The Voice” winner Porter has had a career in TV and film, including the title role in the 1991 John Hughes movie “Curly Sue.”

Here’s Nyle and Peta’s dance from “DWTS” …

May 25, 2016
10:01 am

NBC Reality Chief Offers Explanation for Donald Trump’s Political Ascent (Variety, TVWeek)

A television executive who has had a working relationship with Donald Trump says he knows why Trump has been successful in the political arena. Variety reports that Paul Telegdy, NBC’s president of alternative and late-night programming, says Trump owes his success to “The Apprentice.”

Asked this week whether Trump would have risen to become the Republican party’s presumptive presidential nominee without “The Apprentice,” Telegdy said: “Of course not.” He spoke on the subject Tuesday during a lunch for the Hollywood Radio and Television Society at the Beverly Hilton.

Trump was the host of the NBC reality shows “The Apprentice” and “Celebrity Apprentice” up until launching his presidential bid.

Said Telegdy: “What’s going on demonstrates, if nothing else, the enormous amount of responsibility that goes with the job of putting out the version of someone that we do in a TV show.” The executive added: “I think his persona seems to be in lockstep with his persona on the show. … I don’t think where Donald is in this campaign is any surprise to anyone who was close to him.”

the apprentice-donald trump

May 25, 2016
9:44 am

With a Live-Action Version of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ With Emma Watson Set to Open Next Year, Disney Focuses on Another Animated Classic for Its Next Live-Action Remake (Deadline, Disney)

Disney continues to mine its library of classic animated films to find material for new live-action productions, and Deadline.com reports that the next one up may be “The Little Mermaid.”

The project is in the early stages, the story reports.

“Disney production chiefs recently heard a new take and are currently evaluating whether to proceed with the idea,” the story reports. “Deadline understands that initial discussions have also taken place with some major producers, including some with a strong connection to the studio.”

The report adds: “‘The Little Mermaid’ holds special significance for the Mouse House, which previously produced an animated version of the story in 1989. That pic, which followed the adventures of Ariel the singing mermaid, gave viewers classic songs such as ‘Under the Sea’ and helped usher in a new golden age of animation at Disney.”

The news follows the unveiling this week of the first official U.S. teaser for Disney’s live-action rendition of “Beauty and the Beast,” starring Emma Watson. Here’s the clip …

May 25, 2016
9:07 am

Silicon Valley Billionaire Has Been Secretly Funding Hulk Hogan’s Lawsuits Against Gawker — Who He Is, and Why He’s Doing It (Forbes)

One of Silicon Valley’s best-known investors has reportedly been footing the bill for former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan’s privacy battle with Gawker Media.

Forbes reports that the funding has been coming from Peter Thiel, a PayPal co-founder and one of the earliest backers of Facebook. Thiel is worth an estimated $2.7 billion, according to the publication.

“According to people familiar with the situation who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, Thiel, a co-founder and partner at Founders Fund, has played a lead role in bankrolling the cases Terry Bollea, a.k.a. Hogan, brought against New York-based Gawker,” the story reports.

Thiel wasn’t commenting, but Forbes suggests his motivation stems from a long-running beef with Gawker. “Thiel, who is gay, has made no secret of his distaste for Gawker, which attempted to out him in late 2007 before he was open about his sexuality,” Forbes reports. “In 2009, Thiel told PEHub that now-defunct Silicon Valley-focused publication Valleywag, which was owned by Gawker, had the ‘psychology of a terrorist.’”

The report quotes Thiel saying at the time: “Valleywag is the Silicon Valley equivalent of Al Qaeda.”

Gawker Media-Logo

May 25, 2016
8:51 am

He Had One of the Best Running Gags in Movies — Attacking Inspector Clouseau Whenever He Least Expected It; The Actor Who Played the ‘Pink Panther’s’ Cato Dies (Washington Post, TVWeek, YouTube)

A character actor who made a lasting impact on the big screen as Cato in the “Pink Panther” movies has died. The Washington Post reports that Burt Kwouk died Tuesday at 85.

“As Cato Fong, Mr. Kwouk (pronounced Kwawk) was a highlight of the slapstick ‘Pink Panther’ franchise,” the Post reports. “His boss Clouseau, originally played by Peter Sellers, tasked him with keeping the police inspector’s wits sharp through frequent, unexpected surprise attacks whenever Clouseau came home.”

The bit continued through seven “Pink Panther” movies. Kwouk also had many other credits in film and TV, including roles on the British TV series “Tenko” and “Last of the Summer Wine.”

Born in the U.K., Kwouk was raised in Shanghai. He later returned to England and eventually was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his prolific film and TV career.

Here’s a sample of his work as Cato, with Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau …

May 25, 2016
8:17 am

Johnny Depp’s New War of Words (The Guardian, ABC)

Three-time Oscar nominee Johnny Depp fired a fresh salvo in a war of words with Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, even after Depp and his wife, Amber Heard, recorded an apology video a while back that seemed to put to rest the couple’s beef with Australia’s customs laws.

Depp revisited the incident Tuesday night when he appeared on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” mocking the Aussie official for threatening to euthanize Depp’s two Yorkshire terriers and saying Joyce “looks somehow inbred with a tomato.”

Joyce responded to Depp’s swipe today, with the U.K. publication The Guardian reporting that Joyce said at a press conference: “I think I’m turning into Johnny Depp’s Hannibal Lecter, aren’t I?”

Joyce added: “I’m inside his head, I’m pulling little strings and pulling little levers. Long after I’ve forgotten about Mr Depp, he’s remembering me.”

Here’s the “Kimmel” clip from Tuesday night …

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