Feb 23, 2017
5:59 pm

Bill Maher Under Fire After Controversial Video Surfaces (Deadline, TVWeek, YouTube)

Just days after Bill Maher, host of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” took credit for bringing down conservative firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos, Maher found himself taking heat over a video that surfaced from 1998.

Yiannopoulos stepped down as editor of Breitbart News after coming under fire over comments about sexual relationships between adults and underage boys, as we reported previously. His hassles came on the heels of his appearance last week on Maher’s show.

But now Maher faces criticism on the same topic, after a YouTube video surfaced Wednesday from Maher’s old show “Politically Incorrect,” which was airing on ABC at the time.

Deadline.com reports that the video shows Maher “defending Mary Kay Letourneau, the teacher convicted of having sex with a then-12-year-old student. At the time of the taping, the Seattle teacher was 35 and the student 14, and she was in jail and pregnant with their second child.”

Maher is heard on the tape saying that Letourneau “is in jail because she’s in love. That’s how I view it.” The discussion then turns to whether Letourneau raped the boy.

Here’s the clip …

Feb 23, 2017
5:09 pm

Harvard Names Pop Singer as Its Humanitarian of the Year (AP)

Harvard University is about to present its Humanitarian of the Year Award for 2017, and the honor goes to pop singer Rihanna.

The AP reports that the Harvard Foundation’s Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award will be presented to Rihanna at a ceremony scheduled for Feb. 28.

“Rihanna is being honored for several philanthropic efforts,” the story reports. “She built a state-of-the-art center for oncology and nuclear medicine to diagnose and treat breast cancer in her home nation of Barbados. She created the Clara and Lionel Foundation Scholarship Program — named for her grandparents — for students attending college in the U.S. from Caribbean countries.”

The report notes that Rihanna “also supports the Global Partnership for Education and Global Citizen Project to provide children with access to education in more than 60 developing countries.”

Previous recipients of the honor include actor James Earl Jones and activist Malala Yousafzai.

Feb 23, 2017
4:21 pm

Cable Drama Series Renewed (TVWeek, History)

The show that is reportedly cable’s No. 1 new series of the year in total viewers, based on live+same day viewing, has been picked up for a second season. History announced today that it has renewed the Navy SEALs drama “Six.”

The series, which was picked up originally on a straight-to-series order, is currently closing in on the finale of its eight-episode rookie season, scheduled to wrap up on March 8. The cable net ordered a 10-episode second season.

The series comes from A+E Studios in association with Weinstein Television. Jana Bennett, President & General Manager of History, announced the pickup.

“‘Six’ is a captivating drama series that embraces our recent history, while being immensely relevant in the climate of today’s culture,” said Bennett. “It has struck a genuine chord with our audience and we’re proud to continue to tell the courageous stories, both on and off the battlefield, of the complex lives of this elite military group.”

Season one of “Six” averaged 2.9 million total viewers in Live+3 delivery over four weeks, the network reported.

“In Live+7 delivery, the January 18 premiere attracted 3 million total viewers, 1.4 million Adults 25-54 and 1.2 million Adults 18-49,” History added.

The network also notes in the announcement: “Fueled by the success of ‘Six,’ along with the hit original series ‘Vikings,’ ‘The Curse of Oak Island,’ ‘Alone,’ ‘Forged in Fire’ and ‘Swamp People,’ History has enjoyed two consecutive months of year over year growth and is currently on pace for its third consecutive month in February.”

Season two of “Six” will begin production this summer.

Feb 23, 2017
4:01 pm

Celebrity Lineup Taking Shape for ‘Dancing With the Stars’ (Variety)

The lineup is beginning to take shape for season 24 of the ABC competition series “Dancing with the Stars,” which premieres in less than a month. Variety reports that Mr. T and Olympic gymnast Simone Biles will be among the competitors.

The report cites an inside source saying Nancy Kerrigan will also be on the show, along with a member of the girl band Fifth Harmony. “Our insider also tells us that ‘The Bachelor’ Nick Viall will more-than-likely be a contestant,” the report adds.

“When asked for comment by Variety, a spokesperson for ABC said the network does not comment on casting rumors,” the report notes.

Feb 23, 2017
3:07 pm

Fox News Contributor, Veteran Political Commentator, Dead at 66 (The Hill, Twitter)

A TV and radio personality who was a regular contributor to political discussions on Fox News has died. Fox News announced that Alan Colmes died this morning after a brief illness. He was 66.

Colmes was one of the most prominent liberal voices on FNC, often appearing as a foil to Sean Hannity.

“Hannity worked closely with Colmes, hosting the nightly talk show ‘Hannity & Colmes’ together from 1996 to 2009,” The Hill reports. “The show saw Colmes present a liberal view on politics that was often at odds with Hannity’s more conservative positions.”

In a statement, Hannity called Colmes “one of life’s most decent, kind and wonderful people you’d ever want to meet.” Hannity added: “Despite major political differences, we forged a deep friendship.”

Colmes hosted a radio show, “The Alan Colmes Show,” and authored the books “Red, White & Liberal: How Left Is Right and Right Is Wrong” in 2003 and “Thank the Liberals for Saving America” in 2012.

Colmes is the second Fox News personality to die in less than a week, following the death of Brenda Buttner.

Fox News — Twitter post

Feb 23, 2017
2:39 pm

‘Overrated’ Meryl Streep Avoids Politics, Rakes In Another Award (TVWeek)

Actress Meryl Streep, who was famously declared “overrated” by Donald Trump after delivering a politically heated speech last month at the Golden Globes, steered clear of politics this week at another awards celebration.

TVWeek Open Mic writer Hillary Atkin says Streep was the “elephant in the room” when she returned Tuesday night to the Beverly Hilton’s International Ballroom — the scene of her hot-button Golden Globes appearance. This time around the occasion was the 19th Costume Designers Guild Awards, where Streep was honored with the Distinguished Collaborator Award.

Click here for a full report on the evening’s festivities, including all the honorees.

Feb 23, 2017
2:07 pm

‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ Star Returns to CBS (Variety, TVWeek)

One of the stars of the wildly popular CBS comedy series “Everybody Loves Raymond” is rejoining the network, this time in a drama project. Variety reports that Brad Garrett was cast in the pilot “The Get,” which tracks a team of investigative journalists.

Garrett played Robert Barone, older brother to Ray Romano’s title character on the CBS sitcom, which ran for nine seasons before wrapping in 2005. Garrett won three Emmys for the role.

“Garrett is set to play Bill, described as a hardworking reporter who has spent his life working up to the position of executive producer,” Variety notes. “He joins existing cast member Emayatzy Corinealdi, who will play Noelle, described as a fearless journalist who never backs down from a story she cares about.”

“The Get” is being produced by CBS Television Studios.

Feb 23, 2017
1:57 pm

‘Walking Dead’ Star on T-Shirt Hassle: ‘People Are Stupid’ (EW, The Star, Twitter)

After a hassle broke out over a T-shirt for the AMC drama series “The Walking Dead,” actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays Negan on the show, responded with a Twitter message saying, “Holy crap people are stupid.”

EW.com reports that Morgan’s tweet, which you can see below, followed a move by the U.K. department store chain Primark, which pulled the T-shirt from its shelves after receiving a complaint that the shirt is “racist” and “fantastically offensive.” The shirt features Negan’s trademark Lucille baseball bat and the words “Eeny meeny miny moe,” part of his rhyme used on the show to choose a victim.

The rhyme continues, “catch a tiger by the toe,” but EW notes: “The problem? About 100 years ago, that rhyme commonly used the N-word instead of ‘tiger.'”

The U.K. publication The Star in Sheffield quotes Ian Lucraft, the customer who complained about the shirt, who told the paper: “We were shocked when we came face to face with a new T-shirt with a racially explicit graphic and text. It was fantastically offensive and I can only assume that no one in the process of ordering it knew what they were doing or were aware of its subliminal messages.”

Lucraft also told the paper: “The graphic has a large American baseball bat, wrapped round with barbed wire, and covered with blood. This image relates directly to the practice of assaulting black people in America.”

After the shirt was pulled from Primark stores, a spokesman for the chain said: “The T-shirt in question is licensed merchandise for the U.S. television series ‘The Walking Dead,’ and the quote and image are taken directly from the show. Any offense caused by its design was wholly unintentional and Primark sincerely apologizes for this.”

EW notes that AMC had not commented on the situation.

Feb 23, 2017
7:29 am

Judge Judy Puts Her Old Shows on the Market for $200 Million (THR)

Judy Sheindlin — TV’s “Judge Judy” — is shopping reruns of her syndicated court show, from CBS Television Distribution, for $200 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“As part of her most recent contract renegotiation, she locked in a cool $47 million-plus a year along with rights to her library, which includes thousands of old episodes,” THR reports. “And if all goes as Sheindlin hopes, she’ll soon sell that catalog for as much as $200 million — and in doing so throw cold water on a long-held theory that there’s little to no aftermarket for such syndicated shows.”

The report notes that former Bear Stearns banker Lisbeth R. Barron, who is handling the process for Sheindlin, “has approached a mix of studios, station groups, distributors and deep-pocketed individuals. Her pitch, per multiple sources who have heard it: TV stations — those that currently air ‘Judge Judy’ originals as well as their competitors — will be salivating for anything Judy once the first-run episodes conclude in 2020; plus, the No. 1 court show has yet to be exploited in much of the streaming, cable or global marketplace.”

Feb 23, 2017
7:21 am

‘Ferris Bueller’ Star Joins ‘American Crime Story’ (TVWeek)

The actor who played the iconic Ferris Bueller in the 1986 classic “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” has been cast in FX’s “Katrina: American Crime Story.” FX announced that Matthew Broderick will play Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael D. Brown, who was in charge of the federal disaster response to Hurricane Katrina.

“Katrina” will be the second installment of the acclaimed series, following the nine-time Emmy-winning first installment, “The People v. O.J. Simpson.”

The series comes from executive producers Ryan Murphy, Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson and is produced by Fox 21 Television Studios and FX Productions.

Broderick is a two-time Tony winner and an Emmy nominee for the TNT production of David Mamet’s “A Life in the Theater.”

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