May 28, 2015
9:41 am

NBC Launches New Unit to Focus on an Increasingly Popular Form of Programming (Variety)

NBC is looking to push deeper into a content area that is reportedly growing in popularity: documentary programming. Variety reports that the company has launched a new unit, NBC Sports Films, with an eye on gaining broader distribution for sport-focused documentaries.

The new programming is expected to be centered on sports with which NBC already has an association, such as hockey and NASCAR, the report notes.

Said Mark Levy, senior VP of original production and creative for NBC Sports Group: “Our goal is to produce one a quarter.”

Levy added: “People are not coming to us for that content. If you came to us to watch a hockey game and you are being served a great hour right after that game, you are going to stay with us longer. We like to engage our viewers for longer periods of time. That is anyone’s goal.”

The unit’s first project is “Center of Attention: The Unreal Life of Derek Sanderson.”

Variety reports: “The one-hour documentary will look at the up-and-down life of former NHL star and two-time Stanley Cup Champion Derek Sanderson, who went from being a sports superstar to spending time homeless to, later, becoming a financial adviser to athletes.”

Narrated by “Mad Men’s” John Slattery, the doc is set to premiere Monday, June 8, leading out from Game 3 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final on NBCSN.

center of attention-unreal life of derek sanderson-nbc sports

May 28, 2015
9:33 am

Why McDonald’s Is Changing the Way It Makes Hamburgers (NY Times)

Fast-food giant McDonald’s has revealed that it will change the way it cooks hamburgers, The New York Times reports. The company’s outlets will now toast the burger buns longer to help keep the hamburgers warmer.

McDonald’s will also “change the way it sears and grills its beef so that the patties are juicier,” the story reports.

The idea is to win back customers, with business having fallen off recently.

The report quotes the company’s CEO, Steve Easterbrook, speaking at the Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference in New York, saying the company is recommitting to “tastier food across the menu.”

Easterbrook, who took over the CEO job March 1, added: “It’s these little things that add up to big differences for our customers.”

mcdonald's logo

May 28, 2015
9:27 am

Former First Daughter May Get Talk Show (NY Post)

The daughter of a former president of the United States is reportedly in the running for a talk show from NBCUniversal. The New York Post reports that Jenna Bush Hager is being eyed for a daytime panel show that might end up taking the place of “The Meredith Vieira Show.”

Hager, the daughter of George W. Bush, is already a part of the NBC family, working as a special correspondent to the network’s “Today” show and serving as a contributor to “NBC Nightly News.” She is also an editor-at-large for Southern Living magazine.

“Hager, 33, was spotted out in Los Angeles last week testing for the potential pilot, which we hear would include both male and female hosts,” the Post reports. “We hear that ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ actress Tatyana Ali was also among those testing for a host seat.”

Hager began working on “Today” in 2009, and has filled in for a number of co-anchors in the 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. hours.

jenna bush hager-nbc newsJenna Bush Hager (NBC News)

May 28, 2015
9:21 am

Emmy-Winning Anchor Exits Major Market Station — and Just When She ‘Made It Big’ in This Letterman Blooper Clip (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

An anchor and reporter for a major market station has announced that she’s leaving the station. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Friday will be the last day at CBS affiliate WGCL-TV in Atlanta for Jocelyn Connell.

Connell, who has been with the station since 2010, announced on her Facebook page that she is moving with her husband to Italy. WGCL, known locally as CBS46, is a Meredith-owned station in the No. 9 DMA.

Connell, who has been an anchor on the station’s noon news program, wrote on Facebook: “The station is going in a new direction with both the noon and morning shows.”

Connell, who recently announced that she’s pregnant, added: “We are so incredibly blessed and can’t wait to get started on this new journey. Thank you for being the best viewers I could ever ask for.”

The news comes on the heels of Connell’s “making it big” by finding her way into a blooper reel aired on the second-to-last installment of CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman.” Here it is:

May 28, 2015
9:17 am

Why Fans Want Iggy Azalea’s Billboard Award Taken Away (

Music fans are up in arms about a Billboard Award that was awarded to singer Iggy Azalea. More than 21,000 people signed a petition on demanding that the award be rescinded.

The reason for the uproar, according to the people behind the petition, is that Azalea’s song “Fancy,” which was honored recently as Top Rap Song, should not have been eligible, based on Billboard’s guidelines.

The petition reads: “Iggy Azalea’s 2015 Billboard Award for Best Song has been proven invalid. The eligibility time period for nominations is March 10th, 2014 through March 2015. ‘Fancy’ was released on February 17th, 2014, nearly a month before the eligibility starting. This is unfair to the other nominees in these category, especially to ‘Anaconda’ by Nicki Minaj, who most likely would’ve won. Billboard did not follow their own guidelines and should have to recalculate these nominations without ‘Fancy’ as a nominee.”

But despite the strong turnout in support of the petition, it appears that it has been rejected. A post on the petition site, under the headline “Thank you for the support, but unfortunately this is the end of the road,” reads in part: “To everyon who signed the petition to retract Iggy’s Billboard Music Award, thank you first and foremost; however, a spokesperson for Dick Clark Productions, who produces the award show, has said that the award is still Iggy’s unfortunately.”

May 28, 2015
9:09 am

Video: Jon Stewart Takes On the FIFA Scandal on ‘The Daily Show’ (Comedy Central)

Jon Stewart has offered his take on the FIFA bribery scandal that has rocked the soccer world, devoting a segment to the story on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show.”

Here’s the clip:


May 28, 2015
9:01 am

Presidential Hopeful Sounds Off on ’19 Kids and Counting’ Child Molestation Scandal (E! Online)

One of the hopefuls in the 2016 presidential race has added his voice to those commenting on the child molestation scandal surrounding Josh Duggar and the TLC reality show “19 Kids and Counting.”

E! Online reports that GOP contender Rick Santorum, described as a longtime Duggar family friend, talked about the situation on TV this morning.

“In an interview with ‘Good Morning America’s’ George Stephanopoulos that aired Thursday morning,” the story reports, “the Christian conservative said he was ‘sickened’ by allegations that Josh Duggar molested underage girls back when he was a young teenager. (Josh, now 27, has acknowledged that 12 years ago he ‘acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret.’)”

The report quotes Santorum saying: “I was sickened by it. I was just sickened by it. I pray for those girls in particular.”

The report contrasts Santorum’s comments with those of another presidential hopeful, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. E! notes that unlike Huckabee, “Santorum did not defend the embattled ’19 Kids and Counting’ star.”

The report cites a Facebook post by Huckabee from last week, in which Huckabee reportedly wrote: “Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable.’ He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities … No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story. Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things.”

19 kids & counting-title

May 28, 2015
8:17 am

NBA Western Conference Finals Hit a Ratings High (TVWeek)

ESPN had a milestone night last night with its coverage of Game 5 of the NBA Western Conference Finals, in which the Golden State Warriors knocked off the Houston Rockets to advance to the NBA Finals.

ESPN reports that the game was the highest-rated NBA game on the sports network since 2012. And the game’s 6.8 overnight rating from Nielsen was the best for any ESPN telecast since January.

The game also posted record local ratings in the San Francisco and Houston markets.

“Last night’s telecast is the highest-rated NBA game on ESPN since its telecast of Miami Heat-Boston Celtics Eastern Conference Finals Game 7 on June 9, 2012,” ESPN announced today. “Game 5 is also the highest-rated ESPN telecast of 2015 since the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship on January 12.”

The game was up double-digits from the comparable numbers for both the Western Conference Finals and the Eastern Conference Finals Game 5’s a year ago. “Last night’s 6.8 was up 28 percent from a 5.3 for San Antonio-Oklahoma City in 2014 and up 19 percent from a 5.7 for Miami-Indiana in 2014,” ESPN noted.

Locally, last night’s game delivered a 21.9 in San Francisco and a 17.1 in Houston. “Both rank as the highest-rated NBA games on ESPN in those markets, as far as records go back (2003),” ESPN noted.

ESPN’s flagship news show “SportsCenter” also benefited.

“Last night’s midnight ET edition of ‘SportsCenter’ on ESPN delivered a 3.1 overnight rating, making it the highest-rated ‘SportsCenter’ in the timeslot since the night of the inaugural College Football National Championship game,” ESPN reported.

Coverage of the NBA Finals, in which the Warriors will face the Cleveland Cavaliers, will start Thursday, June 4, at 9 p.m. ET, on ABC.

nba western conference finals

May 28, 2015
2:34 am

TMZ Says Michael King Has Died. Michael, With His Late Brother Roger, Ran King World, One of the Most Successful Syndication Companies in the History of TV (TMZ; The Sweet Science; TVWeek )

Michael King has died, TMZ reports.

With his late brother, Roger, Michael ran King World, one of the most successful syndication companies in the history of television.

TMZ writes, “Sources tell us King and his wife went to France several weeks ago to visit their son and when [Michael King] returned home contracted a bad infection.  He was admitted to Cedars Sinai Medical Center in West Hollywood 20 days ago, where he was treated in [the] ICU for pneumonia.”

The story adds that King, 66, was eventually put on life support and after he was taken off of life support he died Wednesday afternoon, May 27, 2015.

King World, the company Michael and Roger ran, at one time syndicated “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “Wheel of Fortune,’ “Jeopardy!,” “Dr. Phil” and “Rachael Ray.” It was a company they inherited from their father, Charles, and in its early days King World was best known for syndicating “The Little Rascals.”

In 1999 Roger and Michael sold King World to CBS for $2.5 billion.

The Sweet Science, a website about boxing, also announced King’s death on Wednesday. That publication wrote, “Michael King, who headed up King Sports Worldwide, a promotional outfit based in California, died on Wednesday, at age 67. A source close to King, who didn’t want to be named, said King was not ill, and characterized the passing as sudden.”

Besides running King World with his brother Roger, Michael was also into boxing and other sports. The New York Daily News said about Michael, “The New Jersey-born TV mogul had been a part-owner of the New York Yankees, New Jersey Nets and New Jersey Devils.”

But it was in the TV business that Michael and Roger will be best remembered for making their mark.

Roger, the older and more flamboyant of the two brothers, died in 2007 at age 63, shortly after suffering a stroke.

May 28, 2015
2:00 am

‘15 Advertisers and Counting.’ That’s the Number of Companies, So Far, that Have Reportedly Said they Will Not Advertise on ’19 Kids and Counting’ if TLC Resumes Airing the Show (EW; TMZ, TVWeek)

There’s been continuing fallout on the advertiser front in the wake of allegations that Josh Duggar, one of the people on TLC’s hit reality series “19 Kids and Counting,” had molested young girls a number of years ago.

This from Entertainment Weekly: “Companies like Choice Hotels and Pure Life Iced Tea followed Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy and Payless Shoe Source by assuring the public it wouldn’t advertise in the TLC show [’19 Kids and Counting’] about the Duggar family. ‘Thank you for contacting us to share your concerns,’ wrote Pure Life on Wednesday. ‘Please know that we will no longer be advertising on ‘19 Kids and Counting.’ David’s Bridal said it would ‘take steps to have our ads removed from future episodes’ while H&R Block reportedly said in a statement that it ‘will not advertise on the show if it is reinstated.’”

Originally, on May 24th, Walgreens posted this statement on Facebook: “We understand from news reports that airing of the show has been suspended. We will continue to monitor the situation.” Two days later Walgreens was done monitoring and posted this:  “In the wake of recent news, we are no longer advertising on the ‘19 Kids and Counting’ program.”

This is from TMZ: “Jimmy Dean, Pure Leaf Iced Tea, Ace Hardware, David’s Bridal, ConAgra Foods, Party City and Behr have all just announced they’ve removed their ad campaigns from the show and CVS, H&R Block, Ricola and Keurig all say they have no plans of advertising with the show if it’s reinstated.”

Previously TMZ had reported that General Mills will also no longer advertise on “19 Kids and Counting.”

While reruns of the show are not currently airing on TLC, the network, owned by Discovery Communications, has not said if it will renew the show, in some form, for another season, or if it will start airing reruns again in the future.

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