Jul 2, 2015
12:31 pm

‘The View’ Is Rebooting — and Two of the Current Hosts May Be Out (Variety)

ABC is in the process of putting together a reboot for “The View,” and current co-hosts Nicolle Wallace and Rosie Perez may be headed out the door, Variety reports.

The daytime chatfest has been falling off in the ratings, and for the second year in a row, a number of changes are coming.

Moderator Whoopi Goldberg, however, remains safe, according to the report.

As for Wallace and Perez, “One or both women could be dropped because network execs are underwhelmed with their contributions to the show’s signature Hot Topics segment, which is expected to shift focus permanently toward more lighthearted celebrity fluff,” Variety reports.

The report adds: “The changes come as instability behind-the-scenes at the show continues, say insiders, which probably isn’t what Disney/ABC Television Group president Ben Sherwood was hoping for when he shifted oversight of the program from ABC’s daytime division to its ABC News unit as part of a previous reboot effort that brought in Wallace and Perez last September.”

An ABC News spokeswoman declined to comment for the story, and reps for Wallace and Perez weren’t responding, the report notes.

Show founder Barbara Walters retired back in May 2014, and since then the program has seen its ratings drop. Now affiliates are pressuring ABC to pump life back into the show, the report notes.

The numbers for the second quarter of 2015 show “The View” averaging 2.48 million total viewers, down 16% from a year ago, and pulling only 386,000 in the demo of women 18-to-49, a decline of 18%.


Jul 2, 2015
12:17 pm

Paris Hilton in Horrifying Fake Plane Crash Prank — Except It Turns Out She Was In on the Joke (Here’s the Video) (TMZ)

A video showing a terrified Paris Hilton caught in a prank in which she endured a near plane crash has been creating a stir on the Internet. But in the latest development, TMZ.com reports that Hilton was in on the joke.

You can see the prank video at the bottom of this post.

“TMZ has obtained a document prepared by the Egyptian production company behind the prank,” the website reports noting that the offer went out to a number of U.S. celebrities back in March. The celebs were reportedly offered something in the million-dollar range to participate.

TMZ quotes the document stating: “We will act as if something is going wrong and ask all passengers to jump off the plane!!! Of course everyone will panic, we’ll be having skydivers in disguise with us on board. … We will monitor the funny reactions from our celebrity guest when they fear jumping off the plane.”

The prank reportedly had the support of the government of Dubai, where the stunt took place.

Soon after the video surfaced, media outlets — including TMZ — were reporting that Hilton planned to sue the pranksters. But that was before word surfaced that it was all an act by Hilton.

Here’s the video:

Jul 2, 2015
12:09 pm

NBC’s Iconic 30 Rock Gets a New Name (Philly.com)

NBC’s historic 30 Rock — the building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan — has a new name. Philly.com reports that the building is now known as the Comcast Building, after new signs were unveiled Wednesday.

“The building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza — known internationally for its Christmas tree, and more recently as the home of Tina Fey’s television comedy — has officially been renamed, according to NBCUniversal, which is owned by Philadelphia-based cable giant Comcast,” the story reports.

The change has been in the works for some time, with Comcast obtaining approval for the change from New York City a year ago.

In a statement Wednesday, the company said: “Comcast NBCUniversal unveiled the new granite pier naming stones located at the entryways to 30 Rockefeller Plaza earlier today. The new Comcast NBCUniversal rooftop signage will be illuminated this evening, adding the company’s logo to the New York City skyline. The signage features the Comcast logo on the north and south facing roof exteriors and the NBC Peacock on the western facing rooftop façade. This is the first time in history that the iconic NBC Peacock logo will appear atop the network’s historic broadcast headquarters.”

The 70-story building, which was completed in 1933, is said to be the 14th-tallest skyscraper in New York City, at 850 feet. It was known as the RCA Building from 1933 to 1988, and became known as the GE Building starting in 1988. Along with “30 Rock,” one of its nicknames has been “The Slab.”


Jul 2, 2015
12:01 pm

Interest in One Sport Is Surging Among Fortune 500 Companies (Autoweek)

A major sport is experiencing a surge of interest from Fortune 500 companies. The sport is NASCAR racing.

“For the third consecutive year, the number of Fortune 500 companies utilizing NASCAR as part of their marketing mix has increased,” Autoweek reports. “In fact, nearly half of America’s Fortune 100 companies invest with NASCAR to help drive their business and more than one in four Fortune 500 companies are on board.”

A new analysis released Wednesday by NASCAR indicates that corporate involvement in the sport among Fortune 500 companies was up 7% from a year ago and 20% from 2008, with 130 companies now involved.

High-tech companies are a big part of the picture.

Steve Phelps, chief marketing officer for NASCAR , said: “Technology is incredibly important for us. It’s not only about helping us grow, financially, but how technology helps change people’s perception of NASCAR. Technology helps us on the race track with things like safety initiatives and brings fans closer to the sport they love in many ways.”

Involvement in NASCAR by tech firms was up 66% from 2013, according to the latest analysis.

nascar logo

Jul 2, 2015
9:31 am

Troubled Miss USA Pageant Finds New TV Home (AP, THR)

The Miss USA pageant, which was homeless this week after being dumped by both NBC and Univision, has been rescued by the Reelz Channel, the AP reports.

The report quotes a statement released today by Reelz CEO Stan E. Hubbard saying that the pageant and its contestants “are an integral part of American tradition” and announcing that Reelz will carry the pageant.

Hubbard added: “As one of only a few independent networks, we decided to exercise our own voice and committed ourselves to bringing this pageant to American viewers everywhere.”

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed notes: “Reelz, owned by Republican donor Hubbard, previously picked up the high-profile ‘The Kennedys’ miniseries after History Channel made the decision to yank it amid controversy, including pressure from the Kennedy family. Producer Joel Surnow told The Hollywood Reporter in 2011 he believed History killed the project because of his conservative political views.”

Reelz reaches about 70 million homes. The statement from Reelz and Hubbard did not mention the controversial remarks by pageant co-owner Donald Trump about Mexicans, which were cited by NBC this week when the network severed ties with the real estate mogul. Trump sparked controversy with the comments during a speech in June kicking of his bid for the GOP presidential nomination.

Trump has filed a $500 million lawsuit against Univision after the Spanish-language network pulled out of the beauty pageant.

“Reelz said the Miss USA pageant will be televised July 12, its originally scheduled date on NBC,” the AP story notes, adding: “The pageant will have to scramble after a mass exodus of performers, hosts and judges who cited opposition to Trump’s views as the reason.”

A rep for rapper Flo Rida, who was reportedly the highest-profile artist scheduled to appear during the Miss USA pageant, confirmed Wednesday that he would not perform. The other two announced performers, country singer and “The Voice” winner Craig Wayne Boyd and pop singer Natalie La Rose, have also pulled out.

reelz channel

Jul 2, 2015
9:29 am

TV Producer Dies From Knee Surgery — He Had Projects in Development at FX (Variety)

A producer who had been working on a number of projects for FX died in L.A. from complications related to knee replacement surgery.

Variety reports that FX confirmed Wednesday that David Kennedy died June 14. He was 73.

Kennedy was a top talent agent in the 1970s and 1980s before making the transition to producing, Variety notes.

“Kennedy was most recently developing several projects at FX under a first-look deal with FX Prods., including a narrative take on the 2012 AIDS activism documentary ‘How to Survive a Plague,'” the story reports.

Kennedy produced a number of TV movies, including the Emmy-winning 2005 CBS drama “Saving Milly.” He was also behind Showtime’s “Our Fathers.”

Variety notes: “Kennedy spent 12 years as head of TV for ICM, based in New York where he represented such notables as Robin Williams, Lorne Michaels, Eddie Murphy, Dick Clark, Debbie Allen and Joe Piscopo. He segued to the production side with his move west to work as senior VP of programming for Pearson Television and Reg Grundy Prods.”

He was later the president of Dan Curtis Productions. He had been working on a reboot of a Curtis property, “Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” the Variety report notes.

Jul 2, 2015
9:17 am

Google Apologizes for Racially Insensitive Label by Photo App (CNET)

Google has issued an apology after its new Photo app mislabeled a photo of two black people, calling them “gorillas,” CNET reports.

“Jacky Alcine, a Web developer who is black, took to Twitter to say Google’s Photo app, released in May, labeled a picture of him and a friend as ‘gorillas,'” the story reports. “The label showed up in a feature that automatically categorizes photos, like cars or beaches, so they are more easily searchable.”

Alcine posted a picture of the mislabeled photo, writing: “My friend’s not a gorilla.”

The company quickly went into damage control. A Google spokeswoman is quoted saying: “We’re appalled and genuinely sorry that this happened. There is still clearly a lot of work to do with automatic image labeling, and we’re looking at how we can prevent these types of mistakes from happening in the future.”

Yonatan Zunger, chief architect of social at Google, offered similar sentiments in a tweet, writing: “Lots of work being done, and lots still to be done. We’re very much on it.”

The CNET report notes: “This isn’t the first time algorithms have messed up in ways people have found offensive. When Yahoo overhauled its Flickr photo storage app in May, the company added similar features that automatically add tags to photos. The algorithm tagged a photo of a black man as an ape, and concentration camp photos got tags like ‘jungle gym’ and ‘sport.'”

google photos app "gorilla" mislabel

Jul 2, 2015
8:37 am

Most of the Major Cable Nets Posted Viewership Declines in the Second Quarter — Here Are the Five That Bucked the Trend (MediaPost)

The overall trend among major cable networks in the second quarter was a downtrend in total viewership, with only five of the top 20 ad-supported nets posting gains in prime time from a year ago, MediaPost reports, citing Nielsen data.

The article reports: “Those that made improvements included Fox News, up 2% to 1.6 million; HGTV 13% higher to 1.49 million; Discovery, 16% more to 1.42 million; Food Network, adding 5% to 1.07 million; and ID up 8% to 873,000.”

All of the top three nets were down. TNT fell 15% to an average of 2.07 million viewers; USA Network was off 16% with 1.7 million; and TBS dipped 4% to 1.67 million.

A&E Network had an especially steep decline, losing 22% to average 957,000 in prime time.

Overall, 13 networks topped 1 million prime-time viewers, down from 17 nets in the year-ago period.

fox news channel-logo

Jul 2, 2015
8:17 am

Another Casualty at CBS O&O (Adweek)

A major-market CBS owned-and-operated station continues to shed on-air personalities. The latest departure from the news division at Philadelphia station KYW-TV is Carol Erickson, the station’s longtime meteorologist, Adweek reports.

The news follows the departures of Beasley Reece, Kathy Orr and Chris May, which we reported Wednesday.

Erickson broke the news on her Facebook page, writing: “After being offered another contract with CBS3 today — that included another year of winter weather coverage! — I have decided instead to focus my time on what means the most to me — animal welfare. I love CBS3, where I have been since 1978, and thank them for everything! My pet advocacy will continue, and let’s all help CBS3 move the ball forward for a region that is kind to animals and one another.”

The report notes that Ukee Washington will move from mornings to take May’s place, while Kate Bilo is getting Orr’s spot. Other replacements have yet to be named.


Jul 2, 2015
8:01 am

Cable Drama Gets a Sixth Season (TVWeek)

A cable drama series is showing it has legs, with the announcement coming Wednesday that USA Network has renewed “Suits” for a sixth season.

The show, from Universal Cable Productions, is only a week into its fifth season, with the season premiere delivering 3.4 million total viewers in Live+3 data.

USA ordered a 16-episode sixth season.

Chris McCumber, President of USA Network, said in a statement: “’Suits’ has set the bar high in every way and continues to be a strong performer and marquee property for USA. From the incredible on-screen performances and brilliant writing to the aspirational lifestyle portrayed, we look forward to continuing to bring viewers into the world of ‘Suits’ every week.”

The program airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m.

Please click here for details.


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