Jan 17, 2017
11:50 am

Bill Maher Attacks Trump as Maher Prepares New Season of ‘Real Time’ (Variety, TVWeek)

HBO host Bill Maher pointed to a Donald Trump strategy for his show “Real Time,” which returns for its 15th season Jan. 20 — the same day as Trump’s inauguration and, coincidentally, Maher’s 61st birthday.

Maher talked about what he has in mind for the show in the age of Trump in an interview with Variety, suggesting that he’s leaning toward keeping things status quo.

“Let’s not go too far with the changes, because what people are going to want right now is comfort food,” Maher told the publication. “We already had the big changes — the big change is how fascism has come into power. That’s enough for people to absorb for a while.”

The report notes that Maher and Trump have a history of confrontation. “The real-estate mogul sued him in 2013 after Maher vowed on NBC’s ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’ that he would offer $5 million to Trump’s favorite charity if Trump could prove that he was not the ‘spawn’ of an orangutan,” Variety reports. “Trump later filed a breach-of-contract suit, but ended up withdrawing it.”

But Maher noted that he may have common ground with Trump supporters. “If you listen to every Trump voter, what they always say is, ‘We’re not assholes, and we’re not that stupid, but what we love is that he wasn’t politically correct,'” said Maher, whose old Comedy Central and ABC show was called “Politically Incorrect.”

Maher added: “We’re choking on this political correctness. We’ve got to stop doing that. We’ve got to stop taking the bait when Trump says, ‘I’m going to make it OK to say “Merry Christmas” again.’ Well, fine. I never objected to ‘Merry Christmas’ in the first place. Don’t take the bait. Liberal Democrats in this last election made the white majority feel like a minority and vote like a minority. And that’s pretty amazing.”

We encourage readers to click here to read the full Variety interview.

Jan 17, 2017
11:06 am

Dish Drops Gray TV Stations — Which Means the No. 1 or No. 2 Station in More Than 50 Markets Will Be Off the System (TVWeek)

Dish Network has decided to stop carrying all of the TV stations owned and/or operated by Gray Television as of 7 p.m. ET today, Jan. 17, 2017, according to an announcement Monday from Gray TV.

Dish currently carries 99 separate program streams under its carriage agreement with Gray, which is expiring.

Said Kevin Latek, Gray’s Chief Legal and Development Officer: “We are shocked and disappointed to learn that Dish Network has decided to impose yet another blackout on its customers by taking away our stations, which broadcast some of the most highly rated programming on any broadcast or cable channel in their markets.”

Gray’s announcement notes that the company owns the No. 1 or No. 2-ranked television station in more than 50 markets.

“In many of these markets, Gray’s television stations have higher ratings in certain dayparts than every other broadcast station and cable channel combined,” the Gray announcement notes. “Despite the obvious popularity of Gray’s stations, Dish has refused after many months to even begin negotiating carriage terms that are consistent with those that Dish has provided to other broadcasters and cable channels.”

Gray cautioned that the blackout is unlikely to end soon. Please click here to read the full announcement from Gray TV.

Jan 17, 2017
10:09 am

Classic Spy Novel and Movie to Become TV Series (TVWeek)

A classic spy novel that topped the New York Times bestseller list for 32 weeks and spawned a hit feature film is headed to television as a limited series.

The project, “The Spy,” based on John Le Carre’s 1963 book “The Spy Who Came In From the Cold,” is in the works at AMC and the BBC, following up on the collaboration that produced the critically acclaimed “The Night Manager.”

The Cold War novel was adapted into the Richard Burton movie of the same name back in 1965, with Burton nominated for an Academy Award for the role.

Oscar winner Simon Beaufoy (“Slumdog Millionaire”) is on board to write the new project, with Paramount Television, The Ink Factory and Character 7 all behind the series.

Please click here for additional details in the announcement from AMC.

Jan 17, 2017
9:47 am

It’s Another Cancellation Contained Within a Renewal Notice (TVWeek)

The latest TV show to receive good news and bad news within the same announcement is the comedy series “Portlandia,” which received official word from IFC that the show was renewed for its eighth season — but that’s the end of the road.

In the announcement Saturday, IFC said the satirical program, which premiered its seventh season Jan. 5 and is currently airing Thursdays at 10 p.m., will return for its eighth and final season in 2018.

“Portlandia” was created by Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein and Jonathan Krisel, and is executive produced by “Saturday Night Live” overseer Lorne Michaels.

Please click here to read the full announcement from IFC.

Jan 17, 2017
8:11 am

Actor Dick Gautier Dies — Fans of ’60s TV Will Remember His Iconic Sitcom Role (TVWeek, YouTube)

Actor, comedian and singer Dick Gautier, who had a long career in television that included playing the iconic role of Hymie the Robot on the late ’60s sitcom “Get Smart,” has died.

Gautier died Friday, Jan. 13, in Los Angeles of pneumonia, according to media reports. He was 85.

Gautier appeared in a number of TV guest spots early in his career — “Gidget,” “The Patty Duke Show,” “Bewitched” and others — before landing a steady role on the short-lived sitcom “Mr. Terrific” in 1967. He soon turned up on “Get Smart” as Hymie, and became one of the show’s most popular recurring characters.

He was a series regular on the 1970s Larry Hagman-Diane Baker sitcom “Here We Go Again” before landing the lead role of Robin Hood on the Mel Brooks sendup “When Things Were Rotten.” The show, which also featured Dick Van Patten and Bernie Kopell, aired a single season on ABC in 1975.

Gautier went on to a prolific career as a guest actor with appearances on “Marcus Welby, M.D.,” “Wonder Woman,” “Happy Days,” “Alice” and many other shows. He later transitioned to voice work and became known to new generations of young fans as the voice of Serpentor on “G.I. Joe” and Hot Rod and Rodimus Prime on “Transformers” in the 1980s along with multiple voice roles on “Foofur,” “DuckTales,” “The New Yogi Bear Show,” “The Smurfs,” “The Addams Family,” “Cow and Chicken” and other animated shows of the ’80s and ’90s.

Here’s a short clip featuring Gautier as Hymie the Robot on “Get Smart” …

Jan 17, 2017
7:57 am

NATPE: CBS TV Distribution President Paul Franklin on Priorities for the Company With Many of TV’s Longest-Running Syndicated Programs (TVNewsCheck)

Paul Franklin is in his first NATPE conference as CBS Television Distribution president this week, and the executive discussed the challenges of maintaining one of the most successful portfolios in syndication in a profile published by TVNewsCheck.

“Franklin is overseeing a list of some of the longest-running shows in television syndication,” the article notes. “His challenge is to hold the line or even grow the license fees for CTD’s stalwart syndication properties in an era when there’s more pressure than ever from stations and station groups to drive down fees.”

Said Franklin: “There’s pressure on all of us. Granted, ratings have been fluctuating. … And of course that puts a lot of pressure on the station groups. Sure, who wouldn’t want to pay less?”

He adds: “But our job is to not let that happen. Our job is to find a way to make the best deal we can based on the market, based on what the product is doing, [whether] there is other interest [from other stations in a market].”

We encourage readers to click here to go to TVNewsCheck to read the full profile.

Jan 17, 2017
7:51 am

PBS Kids Goes Live 24/7 (TVWeek, PBS Kids)

PBS announced the launch of the first-ever national 24/7 PBS Kids channel, provided by member stations across the country on TV and via live streaming on digital platforms.

The channel’s popular kids’ programming includes “Sesame Street,” “Bob the Builder,” “Clifford the Big Red Dog,” “The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!,” “Wild Kratts,” “Thomas & Friends,” “Nature Cat” and many other shows.

“The free service, which will feature 24/7 educational programming, ensures that PBS Kids’ high-quality content is available to all children and caregivers on a platform and at a time that works for them, including primetime, weekends and other out-of-school times when they are most likely to tune in,” PBS said in its announcement, adding: “In fact, a new national study of parents with children ages 2-6 finds TV viewing is one of the top ways that families spend time together, with 89 percent of parents reporting they watch TV together as a family, 74 percent in favor of anytime access to educational programming and 37 percent ranking PBS Kids as the best use of family screen time.”

Announcing the launch at TCA over the weekend was PBS President and CEO Paula A. Kerger. Please click here to read details about the launch and individual programming in the PBS announcement.

Jan 17, 2017
7:44 am

Another Performer Drops Out of Trump Inauguration Event — Out of Respect to a Music Superstar (Rolling Stone, YouTube)

Donald Trump has had another performer cancel on him — and this one’s all about Bruce Springsteen.

Rolling Stone reports that the B-Street Band, a Springsteen tribute band that has been playing almost 200 shows a year since 1980, announced it won’t be appearing as scheduled at the Jan. 19 Garden State Presidential Inaugural Gala.

Will Forte, the group’s 63-year-old keyboard player, manager, agent and publicist, indicated that the group became uncomfortable with media reports associating the band with Trump. “There were misleading headlines like, ‘Trump Hires B-Street Band.'” Forte said. “We felt like we were out on our own on an island.”

Rolling Stone adds: “If the B-Street Band pledge allegiance to anyone, it’s Springsteen, who has repeatedly voiced his anger and disgust at the president-elect. (Forte half-jokingly said of the B-Street Band last week, ‘I don’t even know if they have any politics.'”)

Forte said the decision to pull out of the gala was made out of respect to Springsteen.

“We owe everything to [Springsteen] and our gratitude and respect to the band is imperative above all else,” said Forte, adding: “We had to make it known that we didn’t want to seem disrespectful, in any way, shape or form, to Bruce and his music and his band.”

Jan 17, 2017
7:31 am

Video Tribute Tracks Movie Career of Carrie Fisher (YouTube)

A video posted this month provides one of the nicest tributes we’ve seen to actress, author and “Star Wars” icon Carrie Fisher, who died Dec. 27 at the age of 60.

The YouTube video, posted by the Wonderful Actors account, tracks Fisher’s film work from “Shampoo” in 1975 through “Star Wars: Episode VII” in 2016, revealing there’s much more to her career than the gold bikini for which she’s best remembered by many “Star Wars” fans. (For that matter, the gold bikini is seen here too.)

Here’s the tribute clip …

Jan 17, 2017
7:29 am

NATPE: Comedy Reality Show Renewed Through 2018 (B&C)

With the NATPE conference getting under way this week in Miami, distributor PPI Releasing announced Monday that the syndicated series “Just for Laughs: Gags” was renewed for two more seasons.

“The Canadian import, which runs both as a Monday-Friday strip and as a weekend stack, has been renewed by Tribune Broadcasting and other station groups through 2018,” B&C reports.

The show has been running in syndication since 2015, and had a three-season run on ABC prime time. The “Candid Camera”-style reality show features the Canadian comedy troupe Just for Laughs.

The program has a spin-off show, “Just Kidding,” on Disney XD.

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