Feb 17, 2017
4:21 pm

Head of Paramount Appears to Be on the Way Out

The chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures appears to be getting the boot as part of an overhaul of the struggling studio, The Los Angeles Times reports, citing two unnamed sources who are familiar with the situation.

The story notes that the news about Brad Grey comes after years of struggles at the box office for the studio.

“The studio chief, who has led the storied movie company for 12 years, is in negotiations with parent company Viacom Inc. to leave his job after a long period of financial declines at Paramount Pictures, said the sources, who were not authorized to comment on the situation. The studio could announce his resignation as early as next week,” The Times reports.

The report adds: “The talks come just one week after Viacom Chief Executive Bob Bakish announced a turnaround plan for the beleaguered media giant, with a particular focus on the Paramount film strategy. Paramount lost $180 million, on an adjusted basis, in the quarter that ended Dec. 31.”

The Times also notes: “A management change was telegraphed in the unusually blunt comments Bakish made about Grey and the poor performance of the studio. Bakish said he aims to dramatically alter how Paramount Pictures operates. No longer will the Melrose Avenue studio offer filmmakers a vast, blank canvas. Instead, he said, Paramount will turn over about half of its film slate to movies that have tangible ties to Viacom’s TV channels.”

Feb 17, 2017
4:17 pm

NBC’s Fallon Has a Go at Trump

With late-night talk shows milking Donald Trump for all he’s worth — especially in the wake of his high-profile news media beatdown on Thursday — NBC’s Jimmy Fallon offered his own version of a Trump news conference on that night’s installment of “The Tonight Show.”

Here’s the clip, which was posted by NBC …

Feb 17, 2017
4:04 pm

Which Late-Night Show Is No. 1 for the Year in Young Adults? (We’ll Be Surprised If You Get This Right)

The No. 1 show in late-night for the year 2017 to date among young adults — the 18-34 demo — is probably not the first one that comes to mind. TBS announced today that the honor goes to its “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.”

“TBS’s ‘Full Frontal with Samantha Bee’ is now television’s #1 late-night show with adults 18-34 for the year-to-date, beating ‘The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon’ by a remarkable 47% in the demo and closest competitor ‘Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’ by 10%,” TBS announced. “‘Full Frontal with Samantha Bee’ has also surpassed ‘The Tonight Show’ among adults 18-49 for the year-to-date and is currently in second place on the heels of ‘Last Week Tonight.'”

The network cites data based on live and DVR viewing for new episodes of the shows through Feb. 14.

“Throughout last year’s hotly contested election and continuing through the crazy first six weeks of the new year, ‘Full Frontal with Samantha Bee’ has been steadily growing its audience, leading to current deliveries that are +71% higher among adults 18-34 and +92% higher among adults 18-49 than in Q1 2016, when the series first launched,” TBS reports. “In addition, ‘Full Frontal with Samantha Bee’s’ growth shows no sign of slowing down, with the most recent episode scoring the series’ best Live + Same Day delivery ever among adults 18-34 (334,000) and adults 18-49 (766,000).

The announcement notes that the TBS show is averaging 3.4 million viewers per episode across the network’s linear, digital and mobile platforms.

“In addition to its strength among viewers, ‘Full Frontal with Samantha Bee’ is driving increases on the social media front,” TBS adds. “Over the past two weeks, host Samantha Bee’s Twitter feed — @iamsambee — has welcomed more than 61,000 new followers. In addition, the show’s YouTube page has grown to more than 600,000 subscribers, and the ‘Full Frontal with Samantha Bee’ Facebook page has drawn nearly a million fans.”

Feb 17, 2017
3:37 pm

‘Live With Kelly’ Takes Wraps Off Two Weeks’ Worth of Guest Hosts — With One Actor Settling In for a Steady Spot

Fans of the daytime talk show “Live with Kelly” will be seeing a lot of one actor in the next two weeks, with the announcement today that Jerry O’Connell will have five guest-hosting spots alongside Kelly Ripa during the period.

O’Connell has been among those in heavy rotation as Ripa has soldiered on without a permanent co-host since the exit of Michael Strahan last spring. O’Connell’s name has also been among those frequently mentioned as a leading contender for the permanent job.

Here’s the guest host lineup announced today for the weeks of Feb. 20-24 and Feb. 27-March 3:

Feb. 20-24

Monday, February 20 – Journalist ANDERSON COOPER

Tuesday, February 21 – Actor ZACH BRAFF

Wednesday, February 22 – Actor MARK CONSUELOS

Thursday, February 23 – Singer/songwriter JASON DERULO

Friday, February 24 – Actor JERRY O’CONNELL

Feb. 27-March 3

Monday, February 27 – “LIVE’s After Oscar Show” with guest co-host RYAN SEACREST

Tuesday, February 28 – Friday, March 3 – Actor JERRY O’CONNELL

Feb 17, 2017
1:23 pm

Judge Throws Out Suit Against Bill Cosby

Veteran entertainer Bill Cosby isn’t out of the woods yet with his legal issues, but the comedian scored a victory in court Thursday when a federal judge in Massachusetts dismissed a defamation lawsuit against him.

Cosby still faces criminal charges in a Pennsylvania case in which he has pleaded not guilty in the sexual assault of a former Temple University employee.

“Judge Mark Mastroianni ruled Thursday that Katherine McKee didn’t adequately show Cosby defamed her when his representatives called a 2014 New York Daily News story on her rape allegations defamatory and demanded a retraction,” the AP reports. “The former actress alleged the 79-year-old Cosby raped her in a Detroit hotel in 1974.”

McKee is reportedly one of at least eight women who have sued Cosby for defamation in Massachusetts, where he owns a home.

Feb 17, 2017
12:17 pm

He Always Seemed a Little Off, Even by Wrestling Standards — One of the Stars of the ‘Wrestling Boom of the 1980s’ Dies

One of the most unusual stars from the world of wrestling, who made a series of memorable ring appearances mainly in the 1980s, has died. William James Myers, better known as George “The Animal” Steele, died Thursday in hospice care as a result of kidney failure, according to media reports. He was 79.

Steele was a fixture in the ring during the professional wrestling boom of the 1980s, featured in storylines that pitted him against some of the biggest stars of the day. He had a long-running feud with Randy “Macho Man” Savage that included Steele having a crush on Savage’s valet, Miss Elizabeth. Steele was a part of the heyday of the WWF, when Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan were also among the organization’s biggest stars.

Steele suffered from dyslexia, and retired soon after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 1988. He returned in a variety of part-time roles for wrestling events in the 1990s and 2000s.

Steele also had a minor acting career, including playing Swedish wrestler and actor Tor Johnson in the 1994 Tim Burton movie “Ed Wood.”

Steele’s many wrestling honors included induction into the WWF Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2005.

Here’s a clip from 1986 that may be weird even by wrestling standards, featuring Steele along with Rowdy Roddy Piper and Captain Lou Albano …

Feb 17, 2017
7:57 am

Longtime ABC Actress Rips the Network

An actress who had a long run on one of ABC’s signature drama series went after the network on social media. Sara Ramirez, who played Callie Torres on “Grey’s Anatomy” for more than 10 years, vented her disappointment with ABC over a decision by the network to leave a joke aimed at bisexuals in the Tuesday night comedy “The Real O’Neals.”

Ramirez sent out a series of posts on the subject on her Twitter account, including encouraging her followers to sign a petition protesting what Ramirez calls “biphobia” in the sitcom.

In one tweet aimed at ABC, Ramirez wrote: “And as someone who worked 4 them 4 10 years+,am truly disheartened & disappointed quite frankly.I will invest my brand where I’m respected.”

Another tweet from Ramirez reads: “Dear @ABCNetwork @TheRealONeals :own it,address it,clarify it,empower our #Queer #Bisexual youth & community w/accurate positive reflections.”

Ramirez identifies as bisexual, and her “Grey’s Anatomy” character was openly bisexual.

Deadline.com notes that Ramirez is focused on one line from “The Real O’Neals.” “The line, which was delivered by Noah Galvin‘s openly gay character Kenny O’Neal, compared being bisexual to having ‘webbed toes’ or ‘money problems,'” Deadline notes.

Here’s one of Ramirez’s tweets on the subject …

Feb 17, 2017
7:44 am

Wife of VP Mike Pence Seeks to Raise Profile of an Artsy Subject

Karen Pence, the wife of Vice President Mike Pence, is on a mission to raise awareness of art therapy. The AP reports that she “has been a passionate advocate of art therapy for many years, including during her service as first lady of Indiana. Now, she hopes to use her new and loftier public profile to raise awareness of the mental health profession and help change the public’s perceptions about what art therapists actually do.”

Karen Pence, who is herself an artist, is accompanying her husband on a trip to Germany and Belgium starting today, and is scheduled to meet with art therapists in Munich and to observe an art therapy program in Brussels, the report notes.

“Art therapists use art, the creative process and the artwork patients create to help them explore feelings, resolve emotional conflicts, manage behavior and addictions, reduce anxiety and boost self-esteem, among other benefits, according to the American Art Therapy Association,” the report notes. “A main goal is to improve or restore a patient’s functioning and sense of personal well-being.”

Said Mrs. Pence: “One thing I can bring to this as second lady is making people aware of what art therapy is and how it works. It’s not arts and crafts.”

She added: “I don’t really see my role as policy maker or policy changer. I just want to make people aware of what art therapy is.”

Feb 17, 2017
7:41 am

Filmmakers Behind the Year’s Most Acclaimed Movies — ‘La La Land,’ ‘Arrival,’ ‘Moonlight,’ ‘Hidden Figures,’ ‘Fences’ and Others — Reveal the Challenges They Faced, Lessons They Learned … and the Worst Notes They Received

With the Academy Awards coming up later this month — the ceremony is set for Sunday, Feb. 26 — and the Writers Guild Awards just around the corner this Sunday, Feb. 19, the filmmakers behind many of the awards season’s most acclaimed and heavily nominated pictures gathered for the Beyond Words panel discussion, an annual tradition hosted by the WGA West and Variety at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills.

Most of the top Oscar contenders were represented. On hand to tell the stories behind their projects — including dishing on the worst notes they received — were Damien Chazelle (“La La Land”), Eric Heisserer (“Arrival”), Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”), Kenneth Lonergan (“Manchester by the Sea”), Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (“Deadpool”), Todd Black (producer of “Fences,” written by the late August Wilson), Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi (“Hidden Figures”) and Taylor Sheridan (“Hell or High Water”).

TVWeek Open Mic writer Hillary Atkin filed an in-depth report presenting many of the highlights — please click here to read what the year’s hottest filmmakers have to say.

Feb 17, 2017
7:31 am

Justin Bieber Accused of Faking Being Sick to Get Out of Deposition — Was He Caught on Video?

Attorneys in a case involving Justin Bieber say the pop star skipped a deposition after a night of heavy partying, with his team calling in sick for him.

TMZ.com reports that Bieber can be seen in YouTube videos “chugging beers at Bootsy Bellows in the early morning hours of the very day he was supposed to be at the depo. The videos, apparently posted by Beliebers, show Justin drinking at a house party as well as the nightclub.”

A brief clip can be seen below, with Bieber in the white Palace T-shirt.

“The attorneys are repping a songwriter who claims Bieber jacked a sample for ‘Sorry’ — and had scheduled a Feb 8 depo with Justin,” TMZ reports. “According to docs, obtained by TMZ, Justin’s team informed the lawyers just hours beforehand … he wouldn’t be able to because he was ‘ill.'”

The report notes that the attorneys had made it easier for Bieber to appear by flying to L.A. from Nashville for the deposition.

“In docs, they say Justin rubbed their noses in it by posting Instagram pics drinking with friends … hours after he played hooky,” TMZ reports. “They’re willing to let him make it up, but now they want the court to force Justin to fly to Nashville in early March, and do the depo on their turf.”

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