Mar 21, 2018
8:06 am

As Police Close In, Austin Bombing Suspect Blows Himself Up (NY Times, CNN)

“A suspect in the series of bombings that have terrorized the city of Austin, Tex., died early Wednesday, blowing himself up in his vehicle as officers closed in on him, the authorities said,” reports The New York Times.

The story adds: “A law enforcement official identified the suspect as Mark Anthony Conditt, a 23-year-old white man.

“Officials did not rule out the possibility that the man had accomplices.”

The Times adds this comment from Austin police chief Brian Manley: “We do not understand what motivated him to do what he did.”

Reports CNN: “Investigators believe [Conditt] is responsible for the five explosions that killed two people and injured five others in Austin or south-central Texas since March 2, authorities said. They also warned a wary public not to let down their guard.”

The CNN story quotes police chief Manley saying: “We don’t know where this suspect has spent his last 24 hours, and therefore we still need to remain vigilant to ensure that no other packages or devices have been left throughout the community.”

Mar 21, 2018
1:25 am

Beatle Ringo Starr is Now Sir Ringo. Watch the Dramatic Video (TMZ; ITV News video via YouTube)

“Ringo Starr took a knee Tuesday morning and received his Knighthood, a mere 21 years after Sir Paul McCartney… but no one’s counting, right?” reports TMZ.

The story adds, “The Beatles drummer, 77, was dubbed into the club of royal knights by Prince William at Buckingham Palace. Aside from Paul … he joins Elton John, Rod Stewart and Mick Jagger as the biggest rock stars to get the honor.”

TMZ notes that John Lennon and George Harrison were not knighted when they were alive, “and current rules require honorees to be living.”

Here’s a short ITV video of Ringo getting knighted that we found on YouTube:

Mar 21, 2018
1:02 am

Steven Spielberg Announces When and Where He Will Begin Filming the Next ‘Indiana Jones’ Movie. Plus, The Classic Musical Spielberg Wants to Remake (Deadline.com)

Director Steven Spielberg has “revealed that he will be shooting the next ‘Indiana Jones’ movie in April 2019 in the United Kingdom,” reports Deadline.com.

Spielberg, currently in London,  said, “It’s always worth the trip when I get to work with this deep bench of talent coming out of the UK,” Variety writes, noting that Spielberg added, “The actors, and the crew, the chippies, the sparks, the drivers — everybody who has helped me make my movies here, and will continue helping me make my movies here when I come back in April 2019 to make the fifth ‘Indiana Jones’ movie right here.”

The Variety story also says, “Last April Disney set a July 10, 2020 release date for the currently untitled movie, which will once again star Harrison Ford. Franchise veterans Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall will produce. No other cast members have been announced. David Koepp, who worked with Spielberg on ‘Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull’ and ‘Jurassic Park,’ was hired in 2016 to write.”

The article also notes that “Spielberg has also been hot on an update of musical classic ‘West Side Story.’ An open casting call for that film was subsequently announced in late February.”

The poster for the original Indiana Jones movie, “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” (1981) drawn by artist Richard Amsel

Mar 20, 2018
4:37 pm

Weinstein Co. Declares Bankruptcy
(Washington Post, Variety)

The Weinstein Co. filed for bankruptcy this week and released any Harvey Weinstein accusers from their nondisclosure agreements, The Washington Post reports. The company announced the filing Monday night.

“This comes months after a series of investigative articles revealed dozens of sexual harassment and assault accusations by women against Weinstein, ranging from unwanted advances to rape (Weinstein denies nonconsensual sexual contact),” The Post reports. “The accusations sparked a seismic shift in the entertainment industry that rippled through media, politics and beyond.”

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which enables it to propose a reorganization plan and to pay creditors through a sale of the company.

“It listed $500 million to $1 billion in debts and the same range for assets,” The Post report notes. “The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware has to approve the final sale in a bankruptcy auction.”

“Weinstein Co. reached a ‘stalking horse’ agreement with Lantern Capital, meaning Lantern set the floor with its offer, but it may compete with other potential bidders during a court-supervised auction,” The Post reports. “The Lantern bid of $424.5 million includes assuming $114.5 million in liabilities, Variety reported, adding equity holders (like Bob and Harvey Weinstein) ‘are expected to be wiped out,’ Variety reported.”

Mar 20, 2018
4:31 pm

Trailer Comes Out for the New Mister Rogers Movie (TVWeek, Focus Features)

The trailer was released today for the new movie about Fred Rogers and “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” The documentary, Morgan Neville’s “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” hits select theaters June 8.

Check it out …

Mar 20, 2018
4:27 pm

Amy Poehler to Direct, Star In and Produce New Comedy With Many Fellow ‘SNL’ Alums on Board (THR)

Former “Saturday Night Live” and “Parks and Recreation” star Amy Poehler will be making her feature directing debut with the Netflix comedy “Wine Country,” which she will also star in and produce, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The project is loaded with “SNL” alums, with Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Tina Fey and Maya Rudolph also set to star, along with Paula Pell and Emily Spivey.

“The script was written by Spivey, who worked with Poehler on her longtime NBC show ‘Parks and Recreation’ as well as on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ and Liz Cackowski, who also worked on ‘SNL,'” THR reports.

“‘Wine Country’ tells of longtime friends who go to Napa for a weekend getaway to celebrate a 50th birthday,” THR adds.

Poehler is producing through her Paper Kite Productions.

Mar 20, 2018
4:22 pm

Fox News Contributor Quits the ‘Propaganda Machine’ (BuzzFeed)

Declaring that he’s “ashamed” of his association with Fox News, a contributor to the cable channel resigned from his position with the channel, reaming Fox News in an email.

BuzzFeed reports that Ralph Peters, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who has been appearing as a Fox News “strategic analyst,” also ripped the Trump administration in his email to colleagues.

Peters used the email to explain his decision to leave the channel, writing: “Four decades ago, I took an oath as a newly commissioned officer. I swore to ‘support and defend the Constitution,’ and that oath did not expire when I took off my uniform. Today, I feel that Fox News is assaulting our constitutional order and the rule of law, while fostering corrosive and unjustified paranoia among viewers. Over my decade with Fox, I long was proud of the association. Now I am ashamed.”

Peters also writes: “In my view, Fox has degenerated from providing a legitimate and much-needed outlet for conservative voices to a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration. When prime-time hosts — who have never served our country in any capacity — dismiss facts and empirical reality to launch profoundly dishonest assaults on the FBI, the Justice Department, the courts, the intelligence community (in which I served) and, not least, a model public servant and genuine war hero such as Robert Mueller — all the while scaremongering with lurid warnings of ‘deep-state’ machinations — I cannot be part of the same organization, even at a remove. To me, Fox News is now wittingly harming our system of government for profit.”

Peters also focuses attention on Trump’s ties to Russia, writing that Fox News hosts “advance Putin’s agenda by making light of Russian penetration of our elections and the Trump campaign. Despite increasingly pathetic denials, it turns out that the ‘nothing-burger’ has been covered with Russian dressing all along. And by the way: As an intelligence professional, I can tell you that the Steele dossier rings true — that’s how the Russians do things.. The result is that we have an American president who is terrified of his counterpart in Moscow.”

Readers who wish to read Peters’ letter in full can click here to go to BuzzFeed to see the complete email.

Mar 20, 2018
1:21 pm

MGM Fires Its CEO (Variety)

“MGM CEO Gary Barber has been fired by the studio’s board of directors — just five months after he signed a new contract that runs through 2022,” Variety reports. “MGM Holdings made the announcement Monday evening, saying it had initiated a CEO transition and an executive search for Barber’s successor. The company said Barber had led MGM ‘with distinction over the past eight years.’”

The company did not disclose the reason for Barber’s firing.

“Sources familiar with the situation said Barber was blindsided by the news Monday in a meeting with board members,” Variety reports. “Barber was said to have been told the board wanted to take the company in a different direction. Sources close to the company said there had been no outward indications of discord between Barber and the board but it’s understood the ouster was done at the direction of MGM chairman Kevin Ulrich, CEO of major MGM equity shareholder Anchorage Capital Group.”

Mar 20, 2018
11:44 am

ESPN Loses a Sport It Has Had for 38 Years (TVWeek)

One of the longest relationships between a sports organization and a TV network is ending with the news that the Professional Bowlers Association has just inked a multiyear, multiplatform rights deal with Fox Sports. The move appears to shut the door on what had been a 38-year relationship between the PBA and ESPN, going back to ESPN’s formation in 1979.

The deal also means that professional bowling extends its nonstop television presence that goes all the way back to 1962, when ABC began its 36-year stint covering the Pro Bowlers Tour.

The Fox package makes Fox Sports the new television partner for the Go Bowling! PBA Tour starting in 2019 and brings a sizable schedule of live PBA events to television, including prime-time events and a new bracket-style, multi-week PBA Playoffs tournament that concludes with a PBA championship finale.

The announcement was made by PBA CEO and Commissioner Tom Clark and William Wanger, Fox Sports EVP, Programming, Live Operations and Research.

“The PBA has been searching for the best possible broadcast partner to serve our fans, players and the bowling industry, and we have determined that partner is Fox Sports,” Clark said. “We are particularly excited that the PBA Tour returns to broadcast television, where it started 56 years ago, with shows on Fox next year.”

In 2019, Fox Sports will televise four PBA Tour shows on Fox and 25 on FS1 in a series of two-hour telecasts. All programs will also be streamed on Fox Sports GO.

Mar 20, 2018
11:31 am

NBC’s ‘The Voice’ vs. ABC’s ‘American Idol’: On Monday Night, It Was No Contest
(The Futon Critic)

In a battle between two prime-time broadcast singing competition programs Monday, the clear winner was NBC’s “The Voice,” which delivered a 2.3 average rating in the key demo along with 10.670 million total viewers, based on Nielsen preliminary Fast National data, which includes DVR playback through 3 a.m.

ABC’s “American Idol” settled for a 1.6 average in the key demo of adults 18-49, along with 7.742 million total viewers, The Futon Critic reports. The total viewer number was only good enough for third place Monday night among broadcast programs, and second place on “Idol’s” own network, as ABC’s “The Good Doctor” delivered 9.128 million total viewers — while also matching “Idol’s” 1.6 in the demo.

For prime time overall, NBC finished first in total viewers (8.538 million) and first in the 18-49 demo (1.8 average rating), with ABC second in both metrics (8.204 million viewers and a 1.6 in 18-49). CBS was third in viewers with 5.105 million and tied with Fox for third in the demo with 0.8 average ratings. Fox had 3.731 million total viewers to hold down fourth place in the measure.

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