Feb 27, 2015
10:25 am

He Lived Long and He Prospered: Leonard Nimoy Dies at 83. Read William Shatner’s Reaction (NY Times; EW; CNN)

Leonard Nimoy, who played Mr. Spock for three seasons on TV in “Star Trek,” and who was on the top-rung of popularity of all-time TV stars, has died at age 83.

“His wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, confirmed his death, saying the cause was end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” reports The New York Times.

The story says, “Mr. Nimoy announced that he had the disease last year, attributing it to years of smoking, a habit he had given up three decades earlier. He had been hospitalized earlier in the week.”

In an interview with Pier Morgan on CNN a year ago (see below), Nimoy said he was so hooked on smoking in his younger years that he was an “Olympic championship smoker” and “I could smoke in the shower,” given the opportunity. He said he used to smoke “a couple” of packs a day. After his diagnosis last year he urged young people not to take up smoking.

Nimoy would have been 84 next month.

The Times adds, “His artistic pursuits — poetry, photography and music in addition to acting — ranged far beyond the United Federation of Planets, but it was as Mr. Spock that Mr. Nimoy became a folk hero, bringing to life one of the most indelible characters of the last half century: a cerebral, unflappable, pointy-eared Vulcan with a signature salute and blessing: ‘Live long and prosper’ (from the Vulcan ‘Dif-tor heh smusma’).”

Writes Entertainment Weekly (EW), “While the original ‘Star Trek’ series was cancelled in 1969 after just three seasons, it spawned a franchise that thrived through numerous TV spinoffs and films. Despite his initial ambivalence about being typecast as the pointy-eared Vulcan, Nimoy eventually came to embrace his screen alter ego, and reprised the role in the 2009 big-screen reboot Star Trek, passing the torch to a new Spock, Zachary Quinto. He reprised the role in his last film, 2013’s ‘Star Trek Into Darkness.’

In recent years Nimoy would use Twitter fairly regularly, almost always signing off with the well known blessing by Mr. Spock: Live Long and Prosper.

EW adds, “‘I went through a definite identity crisis,’ Nimoy reflected in his 1997 memoir, ‘I Am Not Spock.’ ‘The question was whether to embrace Mr. Spock or to fight the onslaught of public interest. I realize now that I really had no choice in the matter.’ As Spock himself would say, it was only logical.”

Upon hearing of Nimoy’s death today, his friend and colleague William Shatner, also 83, who played Captain Kirk on “Star Trek,” tweeted, “I loved him like a brother. We will all miss his humor, his talent, and his capacity to love.” Shatner (on the right) also posted this picture on WhoSay:

Here’s Nimoy being interviewed by Piers Morgan on CNN a year ago on Feb. 11, 2014:

Feb 27, 2015
8:52 am

Mega-Phenom!: How New Broadcast Show Is Making Ratings History (Washington Post)

A new show on one of the major broadcast networks is doing something that hasn’t been done in the 24 years since Nielsen launched its modern ratings system.

The Washington Post reports that the Fox show “Empire” has been growing its ratings — every week.

“For an unbelievable seventh week in a row, the series — a primetime soap about a family dynasty divided by the fight to control a hip-hop empire — surged in the ratings, netting 13.8 million viewers on Wednesday. That’s up from last week’s 13 million viewers, up from the previous week’s 12 million,” entertainment reporter Emily Yahr writes in The Post.

The ratings have gone up every week since the show debuted Jan. 7 with 9.9 million viewers. After the rise during week five, “the drama became the first series since 1991 (when Nielsen started a new way of tracking ratings) to increase for a consecutive five weeks,” Yahr writes. “And the juggernaut has only continued, which is why trade publications like Variety say they need to find terms of description for it that go beyond ‘megahit’ ‘phenom’ and ‘unprecedented.’”

As points of comparison, the article mentions the viewer numbers of a number of show debuts, compared to their second week numbers, which usually FALL, not rise. For example, “How To Get Away with Murder” debuted with 14.3 million viewers, and then dipped to 12 million in week two. “The Blacklist” originally snared 12.6 million viewers for its premiere, which dropped to 11.3 million viewers in the second week. And “Lost,” back in 2004, got 18.6 million viewers in week one, which fell to 17 million viewers in week two.

Furthermore, these Live plus Same Day ratings for “Empire” do not include DVR viewing, which just adds more viewers to the weekly totals. The report notes that “Empire” was the sixth-most-watched show on broadcast last week, excluding the Oscars, while CBS’s “NCIS” was in its usual No. 1 position with 18 million viewers.



Feb 26, 2015
7:51 pm

The New York Post Reports That the Kardashians Have Re-Signed With E! for $100 Million for the Next Four Years. A Spokesperson for E! Parent NBCUniversal Cable Reportedly Says That Figure Is ‘Grossly Inaccurate.’ Could the Post Be Right? (NY Post; NY Times;; TVWeek)

“The Kardashians have signed a record-breaking, $100 million-plus deal to remain with E! for another four years, sources have exclusively confirmed to Page Six,” writes Emily Smith in today’s New York Post.

The deal is a record for a reality TV show, the story says.

The report continues, “Manager [and mom] Kris Jenner recently secured the astonishing deal for herself and daughters Kim, Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian and Kendall and Kylie Jenner.”

Bruce Jenner, who is reportedly going to have his own, separate show, is not part of the deal, the report says.

“The deal covers at least four more seasons of ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ as well as spinoffs, which have included ‘Kourtney and Khloé Take the Hamptons,’” the story says, adding that Kanye West is not part of the deal, “but he will continue to appear on ‘Keeping Up.’ Show creator Ryan Seacrest is also believed to be getting a sizeable fee.”

The New York Times, in an online follow-up story that just carried the byline “The New York Times,” said that a spokesperson for E! parent NBCUniversal Cable called the $100 million number “grossly inaccurate.”

The Times also disputed the length of the deal, reporting that E! “has reached a deal with the Kardashian family to extend the run of its reality show, ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians,’ on the network for three more years, according to a person briefed on the deal. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.”

The Times also writes, “the paycheck is likely to be substantial and at the top of the reality genre, TV industry executives said, because the family holds significant bargaining chips.

“‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ is one of the bright spots at E!, which like other cable television networks is suffering ratings declines. Prime time ratings at E! for the total year 2014 declined 10 percent for viewers 18 to 49 years old, at an average of 386,000, according to Nielsen data.

“‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians,’ meanwhile, has managed to hold on to its audience, with the eighth and ninth seasons both attracting an average of 3.5 million viewers live and seven days after an episode was televised, Nielsen said.”

So, could the Kardashians be pulling down $100 million in a 4-year deal? That would be $25 million a year, in total, for the six named Kardashians and Jenners in the Post, or $4.1 million annually for each of the six. “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” alone taped 20 episodes last year. So just for those episodes alone it works out to $208,333 per episode per person (assuming that all 6 were in each episode, and that the money is divided equally, which it probably is not). And that’s just for the flagship series.

Let’s compare that with some numbers from the most popular show on TV, “The Big Bang Theory.” According to, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco signed three years deals last year that will bring EACH of them $90 million over the three years. In addition, Deadline reported that “Big Bang” actors Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar signed packages worth “more than $70 million” each for three years. That’s a total of $410 million over three years for five cast members (not the four years the Post says the Kardashian deal is for). And “Big Bang” is a single show that tapes 24 episodes a year.

Apples and oranges? Somewhat, but certainly an overall E!/Kardashian clan deal for $100 million for four years is conceivable.



Feb 26, 2015
12:49 pm

In Net Neutrality Victory, FCC Classifies the Internet as a Public Utility. Victory for Google, Netflix and Others. A Defeat for Distributors Such as Cable Operators and Other Telecommunications Companies, Such as Verizon and AT&T. Lawsuits Expected (NY Times; Huffington Post, re/code)

“The Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to regulate broadband Internet service as a public utility, a milestone in regulating high-speed Internet service into American homes,” reports The New York Times.

The story continues, “The new rules, approved 3 to 2 along party lines, are intended to ensure that no content is blocked and that the Internet is not divided into pay-to-play fast lanes for Internet and media companies that can afford it and slow lanes for everyone else. Those prohibitions are hallmarks of the net neutrality concept.”

Writes the Huffington Post, “The FCC decision is a major loss for Verizon, the company that initially sued the FCC in 2011 over rules that were considerably weaker than the new regulations. The new rules are also likely to be challenged in court.

“Verizon denounced the decision in a press release issued shortly after the vote. Calling it ‘a radical step that presages a time of uncertainty for consumers, innovators and investors,’ Michael E. Glover, Verizon senior vice president, public policy and government affairs, said the FCC ‘chose to use this order as an excuse to adopt 300-plus pages of broad and open-ended regulatory arcana that will have unintended negative consequences for consumers and various parts of the Internet ecosystem for years to come.’”

re/code reports, “National Cable & Telecommunications Association chief Michael Powell [who is also a former FCC Commissioner, said] the FCC has ‘breathed new life into the decayed telephone regulatory model’ and it will mean ‘new taxes and increased costs’ for consumers, who will ‘likely wait longer for faster and more innovative networks since investment will slow in the face of bureaucratic oversight.’”

“Some conservatives have also blasted the rules, saying they represent an effort to ‘regulate the Internet’ by unelected officials at an agency not known for being particularly nimble. Congressional Republicans are already investigating whether the White House had undue influence over Wheeler’s late 2014 decision to push for stronger rules.

“Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai lamented it was ‘sad to witness the FCC’s unprecedented attempt’ to replace Internet freedom with government control. ‘We are flip-flopping for one reason and one reason only: President Obama told us to do so,’ he said. ‘The courts will ultimately decide this order’s fate.’”

The Huffington Post also reports that “Barbara van Schewick, a law professor at Stanford University and net neutrality expert, was optimistic that the rules would prevail in court, should they be challenged. ‘The agency’s decision to reclassify Internet service as a common carrier under Title II … puts the rules on a solid legal foundation,’ she said in a statement.”

Feb 26, 2015
11:24 am

Longtime ‘Daily Show’ Correspondent Announces Exit (Variety)

More changes are in store at Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.” Following the announcement by host Jon Stewart that he’s stepping down, longtime correspondent Jason Jones revealed this week that he will also be leaving the show, Variety reports.

Jones broke the news on Twitter, writing: “For 9 & 1/2 years, I have worked at one of the greatest TV shows of all time. But… It is time for me to go. That said, I am ecstatic to announce that I’m about to make another great show over @tbsveryfunny”

Jones has worked on “The Daily Show” with his wife, Samantha Bee, who has been a correspondent on the show since 2003. A Comedy Central spokesperson confirmed to Variety that Bee will stay with the show.

“The news of Jones’ exit comes the same day his comedy was picked up by TBS,” Variety reports. “The untitled family comedy was given a 10-episode order, and will star Jones, who will also serve as exec producer with Bee. Jones will depart Comedy Central’s latenight talk show later this year to begin production on the TBS laffer.”

jasonjones1Jason Jones Reporting a Story on ‘The Daily Show”


Feb 26, 2015
11:23 am

TV Academy Boss on New Emmy Rules: It’s ‘Just a Starting Point.’ Already an Exception (THR)

The chairman and CEO of the Television Academy has addressed industry reactions to recently announced rule changes involving the Primetime Emmys, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

The changes, including defining comedy series as a half-hour and drama as anything longer, “left many executives scratching their heads,” THR reports.

But TV Academy head Bruce Rosenblum indicated that the changes have been misinterpreted, adding that the new rules are “just a starting point.”

Said Rosenblum: “I think the reaction is a bit misguided. This has been a gray area in our rules for quite a while.”

Michael O’Connell writes in the THR piece: “That Emmy gray area, which goes back to hourlong ‘Ally McBeal’ taking the top comedy honor in 1999, was recently occupied by Netflix’s similarly lengthy ‘Orange Is the New Black,’ which scored a comedy series nomination in 2014. As such dramedies as Showtime’s ‘Shameless’ and Fox’s ‘Glee’ have blurred the genre lines, more hourlongs have entered the comedy race.”

According to Rosenblum, the door remains open for that to continue to happen.

Said Rosenblum: “These are not hard-and-fast rules. We received a call from Mark Pedowitz at The CW, and they’ll be submitting ‘Jane the Virgin’ as a comedy.”

Determining whether half-hours can compete in the drama categories or hours can contend as comedies will be the task of a nine-person panel made up of industry insiders picked by Rosenblum and the Academy’s board of governors, the report notes.

O’Connell adds: “After last year, the TV Academy considered ditching comedy and drama labels altogether, shifting to half-hour and hour-long races. That still remains a possibility down the line. Other changes this year include upping the number of series noms from six to seven.”

Please click on the link at the top of this story to read O’Connell’s full report.

jane the virgin

The CW’s “Jane the Virgin,” though hour-long, will be considered a comedy for the Emmys


Feb 26, 2015
11:23 am

ESPN Suspends Keith Olbermann


Keith Olbermann, who has often been at the center of controversy during his TV career, has been suspended from his hosting duties by ESPN.

Our friend Rich Sandomir at The New York Times reports that the host of ESPN2′s late-night talk show “Olbermann” was suspended Tuesday following a Twitter controversy about Penn State. The suspension is reportedly for the rest of this week.

Olbermann got in hot water — and later apologized — over remarks he made about Penn State students.

“In one exchange Monday, Olbermann responded ‘Pitiful’ to a tweet from Lisa Aiello DeLeon, a Penn State graduate who wrote, ‘We are!’ and provided a link to a campus newspaper’s article about students raising $13 million to fight pediatric cancer,” The Times reports.

DeLeon reportedly later wrote on Facebook: “My tweet made the news! And check out what KO has to say! I sent to make sure he was aware of this Penn State legacy, started in 1970’s, which has raised over $114mil plus $13mil this yr. — the Penn State culture he can’t deny.”

According to The Times, Olbermann tweeted at one point: “PSU students are pitiful because they’re PSU students — period.”

He tweeted an apology Tuesday afternoon, saying he had been “stupid and childish.”

ESPN released a statement about the fracas, saying Olbermann’s series of tweets was “completely inappropriate and does not reflect the views of ESPN.”

The network also stated: “We have discussed it with Keith, who recognizes he was wrong.”



Feb 26, 2015
11:22 am

Hit Disney Series Gets a Spinoff (TVWeek; Deadline)

Disney Channel has announced plans for a spinoff of a hit comedy series. The channel ordered a spinoff of “Jessie,” which has performed well among kids 2-11, kids 6-11 and tweens.

The spinoff, which has not yet been titled, was announced Wednesday by Adam Bonnett, Executive Vice President, Original Programming, Disney Channels Worldwide.

“Peyton List, Karan Brar and Skai Jackson reprise their roles of Emma, Ravi and Zuri Ross, respectively,” Disney Channel said in the announcement, noting that the new series “will be part of Disney Media Sales and Marketing’s presentations to clients in the coming week.”

“Jessie” creator Pamela Eells O’Connell will executive produce the new show, which is set to begin production in spring 2015.

Noted Nellie Andreeva at, “Season to-date, ‘Jessie,’ whose fourth and final season premiered in January, ranks as the No. 2 cable TV series among kids 6-11 (1.2M/4.9) and among the top 5 live-action series in kids 2-11 (1.4M/3.4). The transition from ‘Jessie’ to the spinoff had been planned, with the mothership series filming the Season 4 closer [as] a series finale.” There will have been 101 episodes of “Jessie” made.

In a statement, Bonnett said: “‘Jessie’ has been a fan favorite for the past four years. We are excited that viewers all over the world can continue to watch the humorous antics of Emma, Ravi and Zuri, beloved characters played brilliantly by Peyton, Karan and Skai.”

“Jessie” ranks as the No. 2 cable series among kids 6-11 season to date with 1.2 million viewers and a 4.9 average rating, and is among the top 5 live-action series in kids 2-11 (1.4 million/3.4 rating).

Disney Channel is part of the Disney ABC Television Group.

Feb 26, 2015
12:29 am

A Contestant on ‘America’s Next Top Model’ Last Year Has Been Killed in a Triple Homicide (Reuters)

“A recent contestant on ‘America’s Next Top Model’ was killed in a triple slaying in Charlotte, North Carolina, police and the reality show’s producers said on Wednesday,” Reuters reports.

The story adds, “Police said Mirjana Puhar, 19, was among three people whose bodies were found in a home Tuesday evening. Emmanuel Jesus Rangel, 19, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with three counts of murder, Charlotte police said in a statement.”

The article notes that “Top Model’s” executive producers, Tyra Banks and Ken Mok said in a statement,”We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic news about Mirjana Puhar. She was a vivacious and promising young woman. Our hearts and prayers go out to her loved ones.”

Puhar had been in the cycle of the series that started airing in August, 2014.

The report says that the murders appeared to be drug related and that the victims knew the suspect.

puharMirjana Puhar on “America’s Next Top Model” in 2014

Feb 25, 2015
10:01 pm

‘The Voice’ Is Back, and Goodbye to ‘Parks and Recreation’: Tuesday’s Ratings Story (HitFix; B&C)

“The Tuesday premiere of ‘The Voice’; helped NBC storm out to a bit Tuesday lead among young viewers and the finale of ‘Parks and Recreation’ avoided the kind of negative (literally) numbers that it would have taken for NBC to squander that lead for the night,” reports HitFix.

The story continues, noting that in total viewers “NBC was still no match for ‘NCIS’-driven CBS overall, of course.

“Tuesday’s biggest takeaway was that although ‘The Voice’ came back strong, it had only a little impact on its competition, for the most part. CBS’ ‘NCIS’ and ‘NCIS: New Orleans’ lost a couple hundred thousand viewers, but only ‘NCIS’ dipped in the key demo and that was only by 0.1. ABC’s ‘Marvel’s Agent Carter’ also lost 0.1 in the key demo for its finale, but stayed reasonably steady, though still low.”

B&C writes, “NBC’s ‘Parks and Recreation’ drew 4.2 million viewers at 10 p.m., the highest viewership for the show since 2012, according to Nielsen overnight numbers.

“Among adults 18-49, ‘Parks’ notched a 1.6 rating, a tenth higher than the final season premiere and the highest rating in the demo since 2013. ‘The Voice’ returned strong with a 3.8, up a tenth from last winter’s Tuesday premiere.

“NBC led the night [in the 18-49 demo] with a 3.1 rating/9 share.”



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