Dec 5, 2016
11:59 am

Host Selected for Upcoming Oscars Ceremony (THR)

After a bit of a delay this year, the Motion Picture Academy has reportedly decided that Jimmy Kimmel will host the upcoming 89th Oscars. The ceremony will be broadcast by ABC, so the choice keeps the job in-house.

While the official announcement had yet to be made, The Hollywood Reporter cites sources saying Kimmel has the gig.

“His selection is expected to be announced by producers Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd, who came aboard to produce the high-profile event just last month,” THR reports. “It will be the first time hosting the Oscars, the granddaddy of all awards shows, for Kimmel, who’s been the face of ABC’s late-night telecast since his ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’ launched in 2003.”

Disney/ABC Television Group chief Ben Sherwood reportedly lobbied the Academy to get Kimmel the job. ABC signed a new deal a few months ago to continue televising the Oscars through 2028.

“While he won good reviews for hosting the 68th Primetime Emmys on Sept. 18, ratings fell to an all-time low of 11.3 million viewers,” THR notes.

The Oscars broadcast is set for Feb. 26.


Dec 5, 2016
11:31 am

Why Your Cable Bill Keeps Going Up (LA Times)

The reason cable bills have been soaring can be summed up in a single word: live sports. Yes, that’s two words, but the gist of a report this morning in the Los Angeles Times is that sports — one word — is to blame for high cable bills.

The report quotes Adam Ware, head of digital media at Tennis Channel, saying: “Live sports is the most valuable content on the planet.”

The article adds: “Last year, Americans collectively spent 31 billion hours watching sports on TV — a 40% increase from a decade ago.”

Sports is essentially holding the pay-TV model together, according to the report. “While Internet streaming options including Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.com offer thousands of hours of scripted shows, there is little in the way of live sports. So sports fans remain tethered to their cable bundle,” The Times notes.

However, the erosion of support for the pay-TV model appears to be accelerating. The report notes that pay-TV penetration peaked in 2009. “Since 2010, basic cable channels, including ESPN, TNT and Discovery, have lost more than 8 million subscribers,” The Times reports.

Even so, the numbers surrounding sports on TV remain impressive. “Sports programming generates $30 billion a year in revenue for TV companies, according to Barclay’s Capital,” The Times reports.

And there’s this: “Broadcast and cable TV executives teed up more than 127,000 hours of sports programming last year, according to audience measurement firm Nielsen. That represents a 160% increase compared with 2005.”


Dec 5, 2016
10:57 am

A Fixture on NBC’s ‘Today’ Will Be Sticking Around (Variety)

NBC has entered into a new deal with one of the mainstays of its “Today” morning program. Variety reports that the network extended the contract of Savannah Guthrie.

The report cites a source who’s familiar with the situation and notes that the extension represents “a bet that the show’s current on-air team has what it takes to continue the momentum the morning-news franchise has gained in competing with ABC rival ‘Good Morning America.’”

Terms of the deal were not known.

“Guthrie last signed a deal in early 2015 that was to have kept her at the network for at least three years. During her most recent tenure, she has also served as a substitute for Lester Holt on ‘NBC Nightly News’ and was one of the network’s anchors during recent special coverage of the U.S. presidential election,” Variety adds.

Guthrie is currently off the air on maternity leave.

today show-title-cast-2014

Dec 5, 2016
9:51 am

Popular Drama Series Loses Showrunner (THR)

One of the most successful new dramas of the fall season has made a key change behind the cameras. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Jon Harmon Feldman is out as showrunner on “Designated Survivor,” ABC’s first-year Kiefer Sutherland series.

Feldman, who replaced Amy Harris after the show was ordered to series, has now been replaced by Jeff Melvoin, formerly of “Army Wives,” THR reports.

Feldman is reportedly close to signing a rich new overall deal with “Designated Survivor” co-producers ABC Studios, and is expected to be attached to a number of new projects as pilot season nears.

THR reports that “Designated Survivor,” created by David Guggenheim and produced by the Mark Gordon Co., has posed logistical challenges. “Production takes place in Toronto; the writers’ room is in Los Angeles; and creator Guggenheim is based in New York,” THR notes.

Melvoin will be based in L.A.


Dec 5, 2016
9:19 am

Legendary Broadcaster Who Helped Inspire ‘Cheers’ Dies at 89 (NY Times)

A broadcaster who was behind the show that is said to have inspired the NBC sitcom “Cheers” has died. The New York Times reports that Robert Bennett died Tuesday in Newport Beach, Calif. He was 89.

Bennett “guided the transformation of a Boston television station into an uncommon font of original programming and went on to run the nation’s largest broadcast station group,” The Times reports.

After overseeing New York’s successful local station WNEW-TV, Bennett took a job with Boston Broadcasters Inc. and became a key player in an effort to transform Boston’s local television scene.

The group acquired Boston station WHDH-TV in 1972 and relaunched it as WCVB, giving Bennett creative control and an ownership stake. Bennett was tasked with creating 50 hours of original programming per week.

“While other local stations were making big profits carrying reruns, Mr. Bennett turned to homegrown content,” The Times reports. “Although it was an ABC affiliate, the station far surpassed its promise on original programming, broadcasting as much as 62 hours each week — about 30 percent of its content — at a time when most local stations devoted less than 10 percent of their airtime to shows produced in-house.”

One of the local programs created on Bennett’s watch was the sitcom “Park Street Under,” set in a Boston bar and produced for $10,000 an episode. The show reportedly inspired “Cheers.”

“Many WCVB shows went into syndication, and Boston Broadcasters eventually opened a division dedicated to selling the station’s content worldwide,” The Times notes.

After the sale of WCVB to Metromedia in 1981, Bennett became president of Metromedia Broadcasting and a partner in Metromedia Inc. He ran the company’s station group from 1983 to 1985.


Dec 5, 2016
8:39 am

Netflix Renews Series (TVWeek, Twitter, TVbytheNumbers)

A Netflix series has received a renewal for a second season, with the announcement being made via a short video clip on the show’s Twitter page. The show is Marvel’s “Luke Cage.”

The show is a part of the Netflix Marvel universe that also includes “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones.” Mike Colter stars in the title role in “Luke Cage.”

The fourth series in the Netflix Marvel franchise, “Iron Fist,” is due in March, with all four lead characters reportedly set to join forces in a “Defenders” miniseries.

While Netflix does not release viewership numbers, TVbytheNumbers.com reports: “Symphony Advanced Media, a third-party company that uses audio recognition technology to tell what its users are watching, claims ‘Luke Cage’ drew about 3.5 million adults 18-49 (equivalent to a 2.5 rating in the Nielsens) within five days of its Sept. 30 release. That puts it in the Top 5 of 20 Netflix shows Symphony has measured.”


Dec 5, 2016
8:17 am

She Was Once Called ‘the Most Powerful Female Voice in America’ — But Was She Murdered? (NY Post)

The shocking death of a woman who was once a familiar face on television is revisited in a new book that suggests journalist and TV game show panelist Dorothy Kilgallen was murdered.

The book, “The Reporter Who Knew Too Much,” by Mark Shaw, comes out Tuesday.

The book’s cover proclaims that Kilgallen, best known for her regular role as a panelist on the TV game show “What’s My Line,” was once called “the most powerful female voice in America.” At the time of her death, she was reportedly working on an investigation into the JFK assassination.

Kilgallen, 52, was found dead on Nov. 8, 1965, in her Manhattan townhouse, the morning after a “What’s My Line?” appearance, The New York Post reports.

“Her body was found sitting up in a bed, naked under a blue bathrobe, with the makeup, false eyelashes and a floral hair accessory she had worn on TV still on,” The Post reports. “After an autopsy, the city’s chief medical examiner, James Luke, put on Kilgallen’s death certificate: ‘Acute Ethanol and Barbiturate Intoxication, Circumstances Undetermined.’ Luke ruled her death accidental, caused by a combination of sleeping pills and booze.”

Shaw’s research suggests that the truth is something more ominous, The Post reports.

“Shaw makes a compelling argument that Kilgallen was the victim of foul play, likely orchestrated by New Orleans Mafia don Carlos Marcello, who feared the results of her 18-month investigation for a tell-all book that would accuse Marcello of masterminding the JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald assassinations,” the story reports.

The Post adds: “The possibility that Marcello was responsible for JFK’s death came up in the 1991 Oliver Stone movie ‘JFK,’ but New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who launched a probe, dismissed the idea. ‘He missed it,’ Shaw says. ‘He didn’t have access to Kilgallen’s research.’”

After Kilgallen’s death, her JFK book was never published.

We encourage readers to click on the link above to The New York Post to read the full report.


Dec 5, 2016
8:01 am

New Year, New Time Zone for ‘New Year’s Rockin’ Eve’ (TVWeek)

ABC’s traditional New Year’s Eve telecast will do something this year for the first time: It will count down to midnight live in the Central Time Zone. “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2017” announced this year’s expanded broadcast will include a live countdown in New Orleans.

Seacrest, who will be joined by Jenny McCarthy in Times Square, will lead the countdown from New York. Singer Fergie returns to host the Billboard Hollywood Party in Los Angeles.

The festivities get started at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Please click here for the schedule and additional details from ABC about what’s in store.

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Dec 5, 2016
7:31 am

‘SNL’ Chimes In on Trump’s Tweets — Watch the Clip Here — and Trump Responds With … a Tweet (Chicago Tribune, NBC)

NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” aired a cold open taking a shot at Donald Trump’s tweeting habits, and got a rise out of the president-elect. The Chicago Tribune reports that Trump tweeted a critique of the bit soon after it aired.

Trump tweeted: “Just tried watching Saturday Night Live — unwatchable! Totally biased, not funny and the Baldwin impersonation just can’t get any worse. Sad”

Here’s the cold open …

Dec 5, 2016
7:11 am

Bob Dylan Writes Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, But Another Well-Known Performer Will Appear in His Place (Rolling Stone, Criterion Collection)

The latest twist in the tortured saga of rock ‘n’ roll poet laureate Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize finds Dylan agreeing to write an acceptance speech — in fact, he has already written it, according to the Nobel Prize committee — while another artist will appear at the awards ceremony to perform a Dylan song.

Rolling Stone reports that Dylan, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, will not appear at the Dec. 10 gala in Stockholm, where Patti Smith will perform Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.”

“The Nobel Prize committee announced Monday morning that Smith would fill in for Dylan at the Stockholm gala, with Smith also taking part in the Nobel Week Dialogue event the day before on December 9th, where she’ll discuss the ‘importance of role models,'” Rolling Stone reports.

The Nobel committee tweeted today that Dylan won’t attend the ceremony due to “other commitments” that “make it unfortunately impossible.” The committee also tweeted that Dylan has “provided a speech which will be read at the Nobel banquet” on Dec. 10. Organizers indicated they do not know who will read the speech.

Rolling Stone notes that Smith was set to appear at the event even before Dylan’s award was announced.

“I had planned to perform one of my own songs with the orchestra,” Smith told the publication. “But after Bob Dylan was announced as the winner and he accepted it, It seemed appropriate to set my own song aside and choose one of his. I chose ‘A Hard Rain’ because it is one of his most beautiful songs. It combines his Rimbaudian mastery of language with a deep understanding of the causes of suffering and ultimately human resilience.”

Here’s a clip of Patti Smith, a longtime Dylan fan, recalling her discovery of Dylan and talking about the seminal Dylan movie “Don’t Look Back” …

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