Mar 22, 2018
1:03 am

We Loved Him When We Were Kids: The First Nationally Syndicated Bozo the Clown, Frank Avruch, Dies at 89 (AP; Boston Globe; YouTube)

“Longtime Boston television personality and entertainer Frank Avruch, who was the star of the popular children’s TV program ‘Bozo the Clown,’ has died,” reports the Associated Press, adding “He was 89.”

The story continues, “Avruch died Tuesday at his Boston home from heart disease, his family said in a statement to WCVB-TV.”

The AP adds, “Avruch played Bozo the Clown from 1959 to 1970, a clown character particularly popular in the U.S. in the 1960s because of widespread franchising in television. Avruch became the first nationally-syndicated Bozo the Clown.”

Writes the Boston Globe, “Avruch toured the world performing as ‘Bozo’ for UNICEF and was given a United Nations Award for his work with children.”

Here’s some clips of Avruch playing Bozo that we found in this video posted in 2010 on YouTube:

Mar 22, 2018
12:45 am

A Toy Company CEO Wants to Save 400 Toys R Us Stores in the U.S. (AP)

“Toy company executive Isaac Larian says he and other investors have pledged a total of $200 million in financing and hope to raise four times that amount in crowdfunding in order to bid for up to 400 of the Toys R Us stores being liquidated in bankruptcy,” reports Anne D’Innocenzio in a scoop for the Associated Press.

The story says “The unsolicited bid still faces many hurdles, including finding other deep-pocked investors and getting a bankruptcy judge to agree to it. But this is the first public plan to keep the cherished toy brand in existence in the United States.”

The story adds, “Such a long-shot move would also greatly benefit Larian’s primary business. He’s CEO of Bratz doll-maker MGA Entertainment, which relies on Toys R Us for nearly 1 in every 5 sales.”

We urge you to read more details about this item. To do so, please click here, which will take you to the full AP piece.



Mar 21, 2018
5:11 pm

20th Century Fox Backs Fred Savage in Harassment Case (Variety)

After a former female crew member filed a lawsuit today against actor Fred Savage and 20th Century Fox alleging sexual harassment, the studio said it found “no evidence of any wrongdoing” by Savage in a completed investigation, Variety reports.

The studio said it investigated claims that Savage, who starred as Kevin Arnold on “The Wonder Years,” verbally harassed female crew members on the set of the comedy series “The Grinder.”

Variety quotes a 20th Century Fox spokesperson today saying: “Fox takes all allegations of improper conduct very seriously. We conducted a thorough investigation into these allegations and found no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Savage. We will vigorously defend against these unfounded claims.”

Variety notes that the plaintiff, Younjoo Hwang, who worked in wardrobe on “The Grinder,” claims she was subjected to “an extremely hostile work environment” created by Savage, whose “aggressive behavior, intimidation, and constant use of profanities aimed toward female employees was left unchecked.”

Savage released a statement today denying the allegations, saying: “These accusations are completely without merit and absolutely untrue.”

Mar 21, 2018
4:59 pm

NBC Unveils ‘Jesus Christ Superstar Live’ First Look With Alice Cooper, John Legend, Andrew Lloyd Weber, Sara Bareilles and Others (TVWeek, NBC)

NBC is beginning to take the wraps off its “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert” event, which will air live on Easter Sunday, April 1. The production will be staged in front of a large audience at the Marcy Armory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The network today released a new first-look video along with a new promo clip, both of which you can watch below.

NBC says in promotional material accompanying the release that the event “will be an exuberant concert staging of this iconic rock opera. The production stars John Legend as Jesus Christ, Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene, Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas, Alice Cooper as King Herod, Ben Daniels as Pontius Pilate, Norm Lewis as Caiaphas, Jin Ha as Annas, Jason Tam as Peter and Erik Gronwall as Simon Zealotes.”

The production is executive produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice, Marc Platt, Craig Zadan, Neil Meron, John Legend, Mike Jackson, Ty Stiklorius and Alex Rudzinski.

The production will be helmed by esteemed British theatre director David Leveaux (“Nine”). Among the creative team are Emmy Award-winning live television director and executive producer Alex Rudzinski (“Hairspray Live!,” “Dancing With the Stars”), Emmy- and Tony Award-winning costumer designer Paul Tazewell (“The Wiz Live!,” “Hamilton”), Grammy Award-winning music producer Harvey Mason Jr. (“The Wiz Live!”), musical director Nigel Wright (“Jesus Christ Superstar” world arena tour), production designer Jason Ardizzone-West (“Adele Live in NYC”) and choreographer Camille A. Brown (“Once on This Island”).

“Jesus Christ Superstar” is based on the final week of Jesus’ life.

“The album hit #1 on the Billboard charts and made its way to the stage in 1971,” NBC notes. “The 1971 musical opened at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on Broadway and starred Jeff Fenholt as Jesus and Ben Vereen as Judas. It was nominated for five Tonys, including Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for Vereen. Lloyd Webber won a Drama Desk Award for Most Promising Composer.”

Here are the new first-look segment and the new promo, “Everything’s Alright” …

Mar 21, 2018
4:44 pm

USA Network Unveils Spring Schedule (TVWeek)

USA Network today rolled out its spring schedule, including season premiere dates for the originals “Colony” (Wednesday, May 2), “Queen of the South” (Thursday, June 21) and “Shooter” (also Thursday, June 21).

As was previously announced, “Suits” returns for the back half of Season 7 on March 28. Also returning this spring is unscripted original “Chrisley Knows Best,” which premieres its sixth season on May 8 and celebrates its 100th episode on June 19.

Season 1.5 of “The Cromarties” premieres Tuesday, May 8, and the “Beverly Hills Dog Show” is set for a two-hour special on Sunday, April 1.

Please click here for the full schedule and details about all the shows.

Mar 21, 2018
4:17 pm

Court Sides With Family of Marvin Gaye in Dispute Over ‘Blurred Lines’ (AP)

“A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld a copyright infringement verdict against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams over the 2013 hit song ‘Blurred Lines,’ agreeing with lower courts that it illegally copied from Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Give it Up,'” the AP reports. “In a split decision from a three-judge panel, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the family of the late soul singer is entitled to the $5.3 million it was awarded in a case that has been closely watched in the music industry for its potential effects on copyright and creativity.”

The report adds: “Two judges rejected the defense’s request to overturn a jury verdict or order a new trial, saying that Gaye’s copyright on the song is entitled to broad protection. They accepted a trial court judge’s instructions to jurors to decide the case based only on the sheet music to the two songs, and not the recordings.”

The report notes that Judge Jacqueline Nguyen offered “a harsh dissent, saying that the two R&B tunes resemble each other only in style not substance and that the decision was detrimental to the future of artists and creativity.”

Mar 21, 2018
12:41 pm

After 54 Years, the Indianapolis 500 Will Be Moving to a New Network (TVWeek)

The Indianapolis 500 is moving to a new television home as part of a multiyear media rights deal between IndyCar and NBC. For the group’s featured race, the Indy 500, which moves to NBC in 2019, the deal ends a 54-year relationship with ABC.

The annual Indy race and seven other Verizon IndyCar Series races will be broadcast each year on NBC, with all remaining races in the series to be televised on NBCSN.

The new agreement includes rights to all races, qualifying and practice sessions. All races will also be live streamed on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

NBC Sports Gold, the NBC Sports Group’s direct-to-consumer product, will offer a package to IndyCar fans that features all qualifying and practices not televised live, all Indy Lights races, and full-event replays. Additional details, including the cost of the Gold offering, will be announced at a later date.

Please click here for additional details in today’s announcement from NBC.

Mar 21, 2018
10:57 am

Fox Rolls Out Its Summer Schedule (TVWeek)

Fox took the wraps off its prime-time schedule for this summer, including premiere dates for new seasons of “Beat Shazam,” “Love Connection,” “MasterChef” and “So You Think You Can Dance” along with the new series “Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back.”

Here’s the schedule — All times ET/PT, except as noted:

Monday, May 21

8:00-10:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed 2018 MISS USA(R)

Tuesday, May 29

8:00-9:00 PM BEAT SHAZAM (Season Premiere)

9:00-10:00 PM LOVE CONNECTION (Season Premiere)

Wednesday, May 30

8:00-10:00 PM MASTERCHEF (Two-Hour Season Premiere)

Monday, June 4

8:00-9:00 PM SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE (Season Premiere)

9:00-10:00 PM MASTERCHEF (Encore Episode)

Wednesday, June 6

8:00-10:00 PM MASTERCHEF (All-New Two-Hour Episode)

Wednesday, June 13

8:00-9:00 PM MASTERCHEF (Time Period Premiere)

9:00-10:00 PM GORDON RAMSAY’S 24 HOURS TO HELL AND BACK (Series Premiere)

Please click here for all the details.

Mar 21, 2018
10:21 am

Daytime Emmy Nominations Announced, With One of the Big 4 Networks Way Out in Front (TVWeek)

Two of the big storylines in today’s Daytime Emmy nominations announcement are the emergence of the streamers, in the form of Netflix and Amazon, as leading contenders for trophies, and the domination of CBS over its Big 4 broadcast rivals.

CBS received a total of 66 nominations — the same number of nods earned by all syndicated programming combined. Rivals NBC and ABC are well off the pace with 35 nominations and 33, respectively, while Fox is a non-factor with just a single nomination.

Netflix and Amazon are now major players in the daypart — Netflix received 51 nominations and Amazon had 49. Some of the other totals include PBS with 29 and HBO, Disney Channel and Nickelodeon with 12 apiece.

Among individual programs, the heavyweight daytime dramas are all well-represented: ABC’s “General Hospital” tops the list with 26 nominations, followed closely by NBC’s “Days of Our Lives” and CBS’s “The Young and the Restless” with 25 apiece. CBS’s “The Bold and the Beautiful” follows with 18 nominations.

Amazon scored with its digital drama “The Bay the Series,” which received 15 nods. “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” picked up 11 nominations to lead the talk category.

The 45th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards will be held at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on Sunday, April 29, hosted by Mario Lopez.

Please click here to see the full list of nominees in the detailed announcement from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Mar 21, 2018
10:17 am

Comedian Partners With Agency to Buy Comedy Festival (Variety, TVWeek)

A comedian who’s a familiar face in prime time is teaming up with the agency ICM Partners to buy a comedy festival. Variety reports that Howie Mandel and ICM are leading an investor group that acquired the Montreal-based Just For Laughs Group.

“The acquisition covers the annual comedy festival held in July in Montreal and its offshoot events in Toronto, Vancouver and Sydney,” Variety reports. “The deal is said to be valued in the mid eight-figure range.”

Mandel, who is Canadian, has been a fixture on television for years, including hosting NBC’s “Deal or No Deal,” appearing on “St. Elsewhere” and working as a judge on “America’s Got Talent.”

“Just For Laughs Group went on the market last fall after festival founder Gilbert Rozon was accused of sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women dating back to the earliest days of the festival in 1983,” Variety reports. “Rozon has denied the allegations, but he put his majority interest in Just For Laughs Group on the market.”

The report quotes Mandel saying: “I have performed at JFL many times over the last 10 years, and I have nothing but love for this event. I consider it to be a cultural treasure not only for the Montreal and Quebec communities, but also for Canada, and I am very excited to be part of this group of investors that will ensure the festival’s long-term success, while growing their global comedy brand.”

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