Sep 3, 2015
12:43 am

Entertainment News and Talk Variety Show to Debut on 45 TV Stations (B&C)

Two station groups “are debuting entertainment news and talk variety show ‘Hollywood Today Live’ on Monday, Sept. 14 in major markets nationwide,” reports Jonathan Kuperberg in B&C.

The story continues, “The hourlong daily show, which takes advantage of social media while providing entertainment and pop culture news, celebrity interviews and red carpet premieres, will air in 12 of Fox Television Stations’ markets, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, and 33 Media General markets, including San Francisco, Tampa and Indianapolis.”

The article notes, “Originally a web series, ‘Hollywood Today Live’ has interviewed more than 300 celebrities since its start. It will tape live weekdays from 9-10 a.m. PT from BiteSizeTV, Media General’s production streel-level studio overlooking the Hollywood Walk of Fame…”

To read more about this item please click here, which will take you to the original story in B&C.

Sep 3, 2015
12:05 am

Cate Blanchett, Who Won an Oscar for Portraying Katharine Hepburn, Reportedly Will Play the Most Famous TV Actress of Them All in a Biopic to Be Written By Aaron Sorkin (TheWrap)

It’s another redhead for Cate Blanchett. Will it be another Academy Award as well?

“Cate Blanchett is attached to star in an authorized biopic of Hollywood legend Lucille Ball that Aaron Sorkin is set to write for Escape Artists,” reports Jeff Sneider in a scoop for TheWrap.

Says the story, “The film will chronicle Ball’s 20-year marriage to Desi Arnaz, with whom she starred on the classic TV sitcom ‘I Love Lucy.’ Ball had two children with Arnaz before they divorced in 1960. She married Gary Morton the following year.

“Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr. will produce with Escape Artists, whose executive Jenna Block will oversee development of the project on behalf of the Sony-based company.”

Blanchett won an Academy Award for portraying Katharine Hepburn in “The Aviator.”

Clearly it’ll be some time before this movie will come out. Meanwhile, if you want to read a terrific book about Lucy and Desi, we highly recommend “Desliu: The Story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz,” co-written by Coyne Steven Sanders and Tom Gilbert. Tom was for many years the executive editor of TVWeek.

Here’s a taste: In “Desilu” Sanders and Gilbert write about the first reviews of the show, back in 1951:

“‘The Hollywood Reporter’ praised, ‘The outstanding pertinent fact about “I Love Lucy” is the emergence, long suspected, of Lucille Ball as America’s number-one comedienne in her own right…She is a consummate artist, born for television. Half a step behind her comes husband, Desi Arnaz, the perfect foil for her screwball antics and possessing comic abilities of his own more than sufficient to make this a genuine comedy team rather than the one-woman tour-de-force it almost becomes…a comic triumph of the first order….’”

“Desilu” then notes that Lucille Ball herself was not so sure the show would be a long-running hit: “I expected to work for a year, maybe two. I said, ‘I’m having a baby, and I’d like to have it like home movies for the baby.’ That’s how long I expected it would last.”

Because it was one of the first shows on TV shot on film, “I Love Lucy” has remained on-the-air, somewhere, ever since it debuted on October, 15, 1951.


Sep 2, 2015
12:57 pm

Rebooted ‘Daily Show’ Adds Three Correspondents, Retains Many Key Players From Jon Stewart’s Tenure (TVWeek)

As Comedy Central’s “Daily Show with Trevor Noah” closes in on its launch date later this month, the rebooted program is staffing up.

Noah makes his debut Monday, Sept. 28, taking over the spot that was held down by Jon Stewart for 16-plus years. Today the program announced the additions of three new correspondents: Ronny Chieng, Desi Lydic and Roy Wood Jr.

The show also announced that Jordan Klepper, Hasan Minhaj, Jessica Williams, Lewis Black, John Hodgman, Al Madrigal, Aasif Mandvi and Kristen Schaal, veterans of the Stewart era, will be back with the show.

Please click here for full details on the new correspondents and other updates.

Here’s a teaser for the new show:

Sep 2, 2015
12:44 pm
Sep 2, 2015
12:31 pm

Fox News Anchor Files $5 Million Lawsuit Over Toy Hamster (AP)

An anchor on Fox News Channel is going to court with a $5 million lawsuit over a toy hamster. The AP reports that Harris Faulkner sued toymaker Hasbro over the plastic Harris Faulkner hamster — a toy that “shares her name — and possibly even her resemblance,” the story notes.

The toy hamster is included in Hasbro’s Littlest Pet Shop line.

“She says the toy wrongfully appropriates her name and persona, harms her professional credibility as a journalist and is an insult,” the story reports.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, reportedly says: “Hasbro’s portrayal of Faulkner as a rodent is demeaning and insulting.”

Faulkner, who has been with Fox News for a decade, hosts the daytime program “Outnumbered” and anchors a newscast on Sunday evenings.

“Her lawsuit says that in addition to sharing her name, the toy bears a physical resemblance to Faulkner’s traditional professional appearance, including its complexion, eye shape and eye makeup design,” the AP reports. “The Harris Faulkner toy was introduced in 2014, according to the lawsuit, and was sold in a package as the pet hamster of a terrier named Benson Detwyler. Other toys in the popular line include animals named Pancakes Watkins, Puffball Petrovsky and Pepper Clark.”

harris faulkner hamster-hasbroHarris Faulkner hamster (Hasbro)

Sep 2, 2015
12:17 pm

Sony Under Fire Over Another Movie (NY Times, LA Times)

Nine months after a damaging hacking attack, the repercussions continue for Sony. In the latest dustup, the company finds itself on the defensive over a movie about concussions in the NFL.

The New York Times reports that Sony toned down a number of elements in the movie, apparently to appease the NFL. The movie, “Concussion,” stars Will Smith and is due for release in December.

The hassle over “Concussion” comes after Sony got in trouble with North Korea over its movie “The Interview,” with many observers concluding that North Korea was behind the hacking incident.

“In the end even Sony, which unlike most other major studios in Hollywood has no significant business ties to the NFL, found itself softening some points it might have made against the multibillion-dollar sports enterprise that controls the nation’s most-watched game,” The Times reports.

“In dozens of studio emails unearthed by hackers, Sony executives; the director, Peter Landesman; and representatives of Mr. Smith discussed how to avoid antagonizing the NFL by altering the script and marketing the film more as a whistle-blower story, rather than a condemnation of football or the league,” the report adds.

Sony was critical of the report. The Los Angeles Times reports that Sony released a statement today saying the New York Times story included “many misleading inferences” and adding that “nothing with regard to this important story has been ‘softened’ to placate anyone.”

The L.A. Times story adds: “The studio even put out a statement attributed to sportscaster Bob Costas: ‘I have seen the movie. As one who has followed, and commented on, this issue, it doesn’t appear to me many punches were pulled.'”

Here’s a trailer for “Concussion”:

Sep 2, 2015
12:11 pm

Hulu Launches Commercial-Free Streaming (NY Times)

In a move that may strengthen Hulu’s position as an alternative to Netflix and Amazon, Hulu announced today that it is launching a commercial-free version of its streaming video service.

The New York Times reports that the new service is priced at $12 per month, vs. about $8 for the ad-supported version.

“To date, Hulu has stood as the exception among the prominent subscription-based streaming services because it included commercials that could not be skipped, even for its pay service,” The Times reports. “In the fierce competition for streaming subscribers, Hulu hopes it will lure more people to sign up by offering both a cheaper ad-supported and an ad-free option, said Mike Hopkins, Hulu’s chief executive.”

Hopkins is quoted in the report saying: “You can split people into two categories: ad avoiders and ad acceptors. There are clearly people who just are not going to buy Hulu because there are ads. We think we can bring them back into the fold with new content and this new choice.”

Hulu’s current subscriber base is dwarfed by Netflix, with Hulu having about 9 million U.S. subscribers to 41 million for Netflix.


Sep 2, 2015
12:01 pm

Crown Media Family Networks Names New Director of Original Programming (TVWeek)

Crown Media Family Networks, the home of Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, announced today that it has appointed experienced producer and writer Cameron Larson as director of original programming.

Larson is based in Studio City and reports to Randy Pope, senior vice president of programming and development.

“Larson is charged with overseeing content from ideation to execution as well as developing original movies across both networks,” the company said in the announcement. “Working in tandem with the entire programming department, Larson is responsible for casting, evaluating scripts and acting as brand manager for key projects. Additionally, he will collaborate closely and build relationships with the creative community.”

Michelle Vicary, executive vice president, programming and network publicity, commented: “Cameron joins Crown Media Family Networks at an exciting juncture for our business, as we continue to expand our programming slates for Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. His experience and proven track record will make him a valuable part of our talented programming team and I am confident he will be a great collaborator in the development of new quality content for our two distinct networks.”

The announcement adds: “Most recently, as a writer and producer for Aviator Entertainment, Larson developed and produced a variety of projects, including independent features as well as original movies for Syfy Channel. He has also held positions in development at MarVista Entertainment, with a focus on original programming for The N, Syfy, Hallmark Channel, Lifetime, ION Network, and Disney Channel. Larson holds a bachelor’s degree in Theatre from Hamilton College.”

cameron larsonCameron Larson

Sep 2, 2015
9:44 am

‘Dancing With the Stars’ Unveils Full LIneup for Star-Studded 21st Season — Including a First for the Show (TVWeek)

The hit ABC competition program “Dancing with the Stars” unveiled a lineup of celebrities that includes a first for the show — its first married couple.

Also in the lineup, according to today’s announcement, are three platinum-certified music superstars, an Academy Award nominee, a Triple Crown winner and an American hero.

Among the notable names in the star-studded lineup for Season 21 are Paula Deen, Gary Busey, Nick Carter and Chaka Khan.

Husband and wife Carlos PenaVega and Alexa PenaVega are both competing — although they will not be partnered with each other. Alexa is known for her roles in films including the blockbuster “Spy Kids” movies, and Carlos made a big splash in the Nickelodeon musical comedy “Big Time Rush.”

Please click here to see the full lineup of dance partners, along with details about each of the celebrity contestants.

dancing with the stars-cast reveal-season 21

Sep 2, 2015
9:09 am

Why One Media Giant’s Plunge in Stock Prices Is Outpacing the Rest of the Industry (NY Post)

A media giant with a massive television portfolio has seen stock prices fall a whopping 50.2% in the past year — a plunge that is outpacing the overall industry decline. The New York Post reports that the stock plunge at Viacom has wiped out $16 billion of the company’s value, as of Tuesday’s close.

Much of Viacom’s media empire consists of cable TV channels, including MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, Spike, Epix, Nickelodeon, TV Land and BET.

“After watching ratings at the company’s MTV, Nickelodeon, Spike and Comedy Central fall more sharply than their peers — with nary a response from Viacom’s executive team — investors are now watching the company’s shares tumble at a faster rate than other media companies,” the Post reports.

The report notes that since Jan. 3, 2006, when Viacom and CBS were split off into separate companies, CBS shares have gained 72% while Viacom is down 2%.

Adding to investors’ nervousness, the report notes, is anxiety over upcoming carriage talks with Dish Networks.

“Investors are concerned that Dish will be able to force Viacom to accept a cheap price — something Viacom will then have to give its other distribution partners,” the Post reports. “In addition, questions are still swirling about how Viacom will replace the popular show hosts Jon Stewart, John Oliver, Stephen Colbert and comedy duo Key and Peele — all of whom exited Comedy Central.”

Other concerns have been noted about Sumner Redstone, the 92-year-old head of the company, along with Viacom President and CEO Philippe Dauman.

We encourage you to click on the link in the first paragraph, above, to read the Post’s full analysis of the Viacom situation.

daily show-jon stewart-comedy central

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