Nov 16, 2017
5:25 pm

Report: Comcast Exploring 21st Century Fox Acquisition (WSJ, Variety)

Comcast Corp. has reportedly approached 21st Century Fox Inc. to express an interest in acquiring what The Wall Street Journal says is a “substantial piece” of the company. (The Journal story is behind a paywall.) The report cites sources who are familiar with the situation.

Comcast is said to be interested in key assets including the company’s movie and TV studio along with selected cable networks.

Verizon is also said to be considering a purchase of Fox assets, although a source noted that the exploration is in the early stages. Other suitors are also believed to be circling key Fox assets.

Variety notes that the overture by Comcast “comes a week after the media world was jolted by reports that Disney held preliminary talks with Fox about acquiring the same collection of assets in recent weeks. Those talks were said to have broken down quickly over price, but the fact that the Murdochs would entertain such an offer at all had the effect of turning Fox into an acquisition target.”

Fox shares were up more than 8% today in after-hours trading following reports of the Comcast move, Variety notes.

Nov 16, 2017
4:46 pm

NBC to Roll Out Two New Dramas (TVWeek)

NBC unveiled premiere dates and other plans today for two new drama series, which will have midseason premieres in February and March.

“Good Girls,” starring “Mad Men’s” Christina Hendricks, will premiere Monday, Feb. 26, at 10 p.m., following the spring cycle premiere of “The Voice.”

“Rise,” starring Josh Radnor, launches Tuesday, March 13, at 10 p.m. with a preview episode, leading out from the “This Is Us” season finale before moving to its regular 9 p.m. time slot beginning Tuesday, March 20.

Please click here for details on the new shows, along with additional ratings notes from NBC in today’s announcement.

Nov 16, 2017
4:27 pm

FCC Paves the Way to Bring Internet-Style Targeted Advertising to Television (MediaPost, TVWeek)

In a key vote today, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to allow television broadcasters to adopt Next Generation TV technology, clearing the way for highly targeted TV ads along the lines of those currently prevalent on the Internet.

The Internet-protocol-based technology “will enable advances such as ultra high-def broadcasts and mobile viewing,” MediaPost reports. “But the FCC’s move is controversial for a few reasons, including that it will also allow broadcasters to mesh some online data with TV viewing data for ad-targeting purposes.”

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is quoted in the report saying: “Next Gen TV has the potential to bring a wide range of benefits to American consumers. Through expanded service offerings and new features, Next Gen TV should enhance the free, over-the-air television service that many Americans rely on, and make it a stronger competitor to pay-TV services.”

Consumer advocates opposed the move on the grounds that it jeopardizes privacy by enabling over-the-air TV broadcasters to do widespread data mining, MediaPost notes.

Harold Feld, senior vice president at the advocacy group Public Knowledge, said: “The FCC Order does nothing to protect consumer privacy,” adding that the order “primarily benefits Sinclair Broadcasting at the expense of consumers.”

“David Smith, executive chairman at Sinclair Broadcast Group, reportedly boasted last week that Next Gen TV will enable the company to compile ‘perfect data’ about consumers,” the story reports, quoting Smith saying: “We’ll know where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing — just like you do now, just like everybody does now, the Internet does, or Google, or a Facebook. We will have perfect data all the time.”

Nov 16, 2017
4:11 pm

Sylvester Stallone Responds to Sexual Assault Allegation (TMZ, TVWeek)

Actor Sylvester Stallone has responded after being accused of forcing a 16-year-old girl into a threesome back in 1986. TMZ reports that Stallone is strongly denying the allegation.

A rep for Stallone said of the alleged incident: “It never happened.”

The report quotes Stallone spokeswoman Michelle Bega saying: “This is a ridiculous, categorically false story. No one was ever aware of this story until it was published today, including Mr. Stallone. At no time was Mr. Stallone ever contacted by authorities or anyone else regarding this matter.”

As we reported previously, the story is based on a police report filed at the time in Las Vegas in which the unnamed girl alleges that she was forced to perform oral sex on Stallone and his bodyguard.

Nov 16, 2017
2:11 pm

ABC Sets Premiere Dates, ‘TGIT’ Return Date — and Countdown to the End of a Prime-Time Drama (TVWeek)

ABC announced a number of upcoming schedule dates today, including setting the return of its “TGIT” Thursday night lineup for Jan. 18. The lineup features the drama series “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder.”

Tonight’s prime-time slate marks the winter finales of all three shows, and represents the start of the countdown to the final 11 episodes of “Scandal.” Tonight’s “Scandal” winter finale will be an episode called “Something Borrowed.”

The show will wrap with its final 11 episodes beginning Jan. 18 after the winter break.

Click here for additional details about the “TGIT” lineup.

ABC also announced the series premiere of the new game show “Child Support,” which debuts Friday, Jan. 5, with Fred Savage hosting.

Additionally, season three of “Match Game,” hosted by Alec Baldwin, premieres Wednesday, Jan. 3.

Please click here for details about the “Child Support” and “Match Game” announcements.

Nov 16, 2017
12:57 pm

Sylvester Stallone Accused of Forcing 16-Year-Old Girl Into Threesome (Daily Mail)

Legendary Hollywood actor Sylvester Stallone, star of the “Rocky” and “Rambo” films, is under fire over an incident that allegedly took place in Las Vegas while he was filming “Over the Top” in 1986.

The U.K. publication The Daily Mail reports that Stallone is accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl. According to the report, the girl filed a police report at the time alleging that Stallone and his bodyguard forced the girl to perform oral sex on them and threatened to “beat her head in” if she told anyone.

The police report notes that the girl decided not to press charges at the time because she was frightened and felt humiliated, according to The Daily Mail.

Nov 16, 2017
11:59 am

Al Franken Responds to Groping Allegation — Here’s the Photo He Probably Regrets Taking (The Hill, TVWeek, Twitter)

Al Franken, the former “Saturday Night Live” personality turned U.S. senator from Minnesota, is calling for an ethics investigation into his own behavior after being accused of kissing and groping a woman without her consent during a USO tour in 2006, The Hill reports.

Television host and sports broadcaster Leeann Tweeden accused Franken of improprieties including groping her breasts while she was asleep on a military plane. A photo of the groping incident, which you can see below, has been making the rounds on Twitter and other social media outlets.

In a statement released today, Franken said: “I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences. I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.”

“In a piece on KABC, Tweeden published a photo of Franken groping her breasts while they were both on a USO tour. She also wrote that Franken forcibly kissed her while they were rehearsing a sketch for a performance,” The Hill reports, adding: “Franken initially issued a brief, three-sentence statement, in which he said he didn’t remember the rehearsal for the skit ‘in the same way.'”

Franken received backlash following his initial statement, in which he said he had sent “my sincerest apologies to Leeann” and admitted that he should not have taken the photo, saying it was “clearly intended to be funny.”

He followed up with a more definitive apology today after receiving negative feedback on his first attempt from across the political spectrum, The Hill notes.

“The first and most important thing — and if it’s the only thing you care to hear, that’s fine — is: I’m sorry,” Franken wrote in today’s statement. “I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.”

Franken also wrote: “The truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories. They deserve to be heard, and believed. And they deserve to know that I am their ally and supporter. I have let them down and am committed to making it up to them.”

Nov 16, 2017
11:44 am

Sarah Silverman Opens Up About Sexual Harassment and Her Friend Louis C.K.
(TVWeek, Hulu)

Comedian Sarah Silverman, a longtime friend of Louis C.K., who has come under fire over alleged sexual misbehavior, opened up about C.K. and the sexual harassment and sexual assault scandal that has spread throughout Hollywood.

Silverman suggested that the recent wave of sexual assault allegations has been a long time coming and will be a good thing in the long run. She talked about the situation on her Hulu show “I Love You, America.”

Here’s the clip, posted by Hulu …

Nov 16, 2017
11:39 am

Up-and-Coming Rapper Dead at 21
(NY Times, YouTube)

A young rapper who was a rising star, credited for his innovative approach blending elements of hip-hop and emo, has died. The New York Times reports that Lil Peep died Wednesday night in Tucson, Ariz. He was 21.

“A spokesman for the Tucson Police Department said Lil Peep was pronounced dead on his tour bus at approximately 9 p.m.,” The Times reports. “He had been scheduled to perform at a club called the Rock. Detectives found evidence suggesting that the rapper died of an overdose of the anti-anxiety medication Xanax.”

The report notes that over the past two years, Lil Peep “emerged as one of pop music’s brightest and most promising young talents, blending the urgency and dexterity of contemporary hip-hop with the raw, serrated sentimentality of emo.”

His death was confirmed by Sarah Stennett, chief executive of First Access Entertainment, which has worked with Lil Peep since last year. The Times quotes Stennett saying she had “spoken to his mother and she asked me to convey that she is very, very proud of him and everything he was able to achieve in his short life.”

The Times report adds: “Lil Peep was born Gustav Ahr on Nov. 1, 1996, and was raised in Long Beach, on Long Island, the son of a college professor father and an elementary schoolteacher mother. He took his name from a childhood nickname given by his mother.”

Nov 16, 2017
11:31 am

Netflix at Work on ‘Messiah’ — Will It ‘Change Everything’? (TVWeek)

Netflix has a new scripted drama series in the works in which a mysterious figure roams the modern world, raising questions about faith and belief. The suspense series, “Messiah,” comes from creator Michael Petroni and executive producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.

The show is slated to roll out globally in 2019.

“‘Messiah’ will chronicle the modern world’s reaction to a man who first appears in the Middle East creating a groundswell of followers around him claiming he is the Messiah,” Netflix says in an announcement released today about the project. “Is he sent from God or is he a dangerous fraud bent on dismantling the world’s geopolitical order? In ten hour-long episodes, the story unfolds from multiple points of view, including a young CIA agent, an Israeli Shin Bet officer, a Latino preacher and his Texan daughter, a Palestinian refugee and the media, among others.”

The Netflix production will be executive produced by Petroni, who also wrote the first episode. Also executive producing are Burnett and Downey, Andrew Deane and James McTeigue, who will also serve as a director.

“Messiah promises to be a fascinating series for viewers of every faith, and a thrilling drama filled with multi-layered characters set on a global stage,” said Cindy Holland, Vice President, Original Content for Netflix.

Added Petroni, “Messiah will have every viewer asking the question ‘is he or isn’t he?’ How you answer that question may reveal more about you than it does about the show. Messiah challenges us to examine what we believe and why.”

In a joint comment from Downey and Burnett, the couple said: “‘Messiah’ is a series that will have the audience asking big questions. What if someone showed up in 2018 amid strange occurrences and was thought to be the Messiah? What would society do? How would the media cover him? Would millions simply quit work? Could governments collapse? It’s a series that could change everything.”

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