Dec 19, 2014
7:24 am

ABC News Replacing ‘Nightline’ Anchor (TheWrap)

One of the anchor slots on the long-running ABC News late-night program “Nightline” is changing hands. reports that Dan Abrams is out and Byron Pitts will take the spot.

Abrams has on board since June 2013 and has been co-hosting the show with Dan Harris and Juju Chang.

“On Thursday, ABC News President James Goldston announced Abrams will be returning to managing Abrams Media full time while remaining with ABC as its chief legal analyst,” the report notes.

Pitts has served as ABC’s chief national correspondent since 2013.

In a memo, Goldston wrote, “Byron joins the Nightline team in its strongest position yet in its new time period; in November they won the third consecutive sweep in Total Viewers.”

byron pitts

Byron Pitts

Dec 19, 2014
7:11 am

HBO Developing High-Profile Noir Drama Series From ‘L.A. Confidential’ Writer, ‘House of Cards’ Producer/Director (Deadline)

HBO will dip into film noir after reportedly closing the deals on a much talked-about drama series. Writing on, Nellie Andreeva reports that the new project, “Shakedown,” comes from “House of Cards” executive producer and director David Fincher and “L.A. Confidential” writer James Ellroy.

The project is inspired by the real life of police officer-turned-private-detective Fred Otash, Andreeva notes.

“This is an original drama project by Ellroy and not an adaptation of his 2012 novella ‘Shakedown,’ which also features a fictionalized version of Otash. The drama is based on a script Ellroy originally developed at FX with a different producing team. Fincher and Ellroy are executive producing the HBO project alongside Joshua Donen, Clark Peterson, and Steven Hoban,” Andreeva writes.

Fincher has a number of projects in the pipeline at HBO, including a half-hour program set in 1983 that focuses on the music-video industry, Deadline reports separately. That project is described as being in the vein of the pay-cable channel’s comedy series “Entourage.”

“Fincher also is collaborating with a novelist on another HBO drama project, an adaptation of British series ‘Utopia,’ now in development,” Andreeva notes. “It is being written by Gillian Flynn, on whose book Fincher’s ‘Gone Girl’ was based.”


Dec 19, 2014
6:31 am

Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert Retires His Conservative Host Character (AP)

After nine years on Comedy Central, Stephen Colbert ended “The Colbert Report” and retired the conservative character who has been hosting the show for its entire run, reports the Associated Press.

“He was last seen gliding through the clouds in the backseat of Santa’s sleigh beside Alex Trebek (don’t ask),” the story notes.

The report adds: “Before that, after offing the Grim Reaper and declaring himself immortal (don’t ask), he led a glorious singalong in the studio with a room of luminaries ranging from ‘Daily Show’ host Jon Stewart, Andy Cohen and Big Bird to George Lucas, Arianna Huffington and Henry Kissinger.”

Fans will see Colbert again next year, when he takes over CBS’s “Late Show,” although he won’t appear in character.

The AP report notes: “‘The Colbert Report’ (both t’s were always silent) premiered in October 2005 as a spoof of the show hosted by Fox News Channel personality Bill O’Reilly. But the Colbert character developed into a shrewdly satirical observer, preaching the opposite of what real-life Stephen Colbert meant to put across. For this nightly display of Opposite Day, Colbert won a devoted audience of so-called ‘heroes,’ plus critical acclaim and two Peabody Awards, which noted that ‘what started as a parody of punditry is now its own political platform.’”

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Dec 19, 2014
6:20 am

FCC Rules on Washington Redskins Name (Bloomberg)

The Federal Communications Commission has issued a ruling in the dispute over the name of the Washington Redskins NFL team. Bloomberg reports that the panel said the name isn’t profane or obscene.

The FCC dismissed a request to deny the license renewal of a Virginia radio station that uses the name in its broadcasts covering the team, the story says. George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf III claimed the use of the term for the NFL team is objectionable because the word “Redskins” is a “derogatory racial and ethnic slur” against Native Americans.

The ruling is “no more than round one,” Banzhaf said, adding that there are other active petitions before the FCC about the use of the term.

“Last month the team won the right to review a decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to cancel the mark as disparaging,” the story reports. “Team owner Daniel Snyder has repeatedly said the name was intended to honor Native Americans and he won’t change it.”

Dec 19, 2014
6:07 am

Cable Run Ends Tonight for Show That Has Been On for 14 Years (NY Post)

A show that has been running on cable for 14 years will end that run with tonight’s installment, before the show moves to its new home. The New York Post reports that the longtime BET video countdown show “106 & Park” will sign off with an episode set to air at 6 p.m. today, Friday.

The show, which is hosted by Keshia and Bow Wow, will then shift to an online format with a move to

“It is definitely the end of an era,” Hot 97 DJ Peter Rosenberg told the Post. “It’s really crazy, because BET is known for their music programming, so without ‘106 & Park,’ what will it be now?”

BET opted to shift the show to online-only because of declining ratings. In a statement, BET president of music programming Stephen Hill said the move will “connect with the millions of people that are already engaged with ‘106 & Park’ and other BET digital and social media entities.”

106 & Park Live

Dec 19, 2014
5:54 am

Why Broadcasters Are Up in Arms Again Over Aereo (GigaOm)

The battle against Aereo isn’t over for the major broadcast networks. CBS, Fox, NBC and other broadcasters are asking a judge to block any asset sale by Aereo that would allow it to reform as a cloud-DVR service, reports GigaOm.

“According to bankruptcy court filings, the broadcasters believe that an asset sale could deprive them of the ability to collect copyright damages related to Aereo’s services,” the story reports. “Aereo allowed consumers to retransmit and record over-the-air TV signals via their mobile devices. The Supreme Court shut down the service this summer after six of the nine Justices concluded that Aereo required a license.”

With Aereo now in bankruptcy, the question is whether the company can emerge with a new business model that’s based on its remote recording technology, the report adds.

“While the Supreme Court ruled that the portion of Aereo’s service that allowed consumers to watch live TV infringed copyright, it declined to rule on whether Aereo’s cloud-based recording service — which operated akin to a VCR — was legal,” GigaOm notes.

According to court filings, the broadcasters are concerned that a bankruptcy sale would allow the company to reform, forcing the broadcasters to start another copyright infringement case, the article reports.


Dec 18, 2014
1:59 pm

One Show on Broadcast Is Celebrating 26 Years in a Row at No. 1 in Its Category (TVWeek)

One of the major broadcast networks announced today that one of its shows is marking a stunning 26 consecutive years as the top-rated show in its category.

CBS announced that its long-running soap “The Young and the Restless” accomplished the feat, notching 26 years as the top daytime drama. The announcement follows Nielsen live plus same day results for the week ending Dec. 12.

“For the week, ‘The Young and the Restless’ averaged 4.76 million viewers, up +4% over last week,” CBS announced. “The program also led the week in both women 25-54 (1.8/12) and women 18-49 (1.2.09). Season-to-date, ‘The Young and the Restless’ is daytime’s #1 drama in viewers (5.04m), women 25-54 (2.1/14) and women 18-49 (1.4/10).”

The program, which is currently in its 41st season on the air, started its winning streak the week of Dec. 26, 1988.


Dec 18, 2014
1:47 pm

Another North Korea-Themed Movie Is Pulled From Theaters (LA Times)

In the wake of the cancellation of the release of “The Interview” by Sony Pictures, a second movie about North Korea has been pulled from theaters, the Los Angeles Times reports. This time it’s an older release — “Team America: World Police,” from 2004 — and it has reportedly been blocked by Paramount from special screenings.

The report cites theaters in Cleveland and Atlanta saying Paramount pulle the plug on screenings of the movie, which is a marionette-based action satire targeting Kim Jong Il, the now-deceased North Korean dictator who was the father of the nation’s current leader, Kim Jong-un. The movie comes from “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

The newspaper reports: “David Huffman, director of marketing at Cleveland Cinemas, told The Times that Paramount contacted the theater chain and said ‘Team America’ had been pulled from release. The Capitol Theatre had booked the film in October as part of a midnight screening series in June, Huffman said.”

The report also cites a Twitter post by the Plaza Theatre in Atlanta saying the movie was pulled from all theaters by Paramount Pictures.

As we reported previously, Sony canceled the release of the Seth Rogen-James Franco movie “The Interview,” which had been due for release on Christmas Day, after threats of violence against theaters showing the movie were issued by hackers believed to be connected to North Korea.

“In addition to the Capitol and Plaza theaters, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s Dallas location, which had planned a screening of ‘Team America’ to replace ‘The Interview,’ said on its Twitter account, ‘Due to to circumstances beyond our control, the TEAM AMERICA 12/27 screening has been cancelled. We apologize & will provide refunds today.’” the Times reports.


Dec 18, 2014
1:39 pm

Sarah Silverman Lands Starring Role in HBO Project (Deadline)

A new project from the creator of “Secret Diary of a Call Girl” will star Emmy winner Sarah Silverman. reports that the actress and comedian, who just picked up an Emmy for writing for her HBO special “We Are Miracles,” snagged the lead role in an untitled half-hour comedy pilot from Lucy Prebble.

The project “is described as a comic look at a pathologically honest woman having a modern mid-life crisis,” the story reports. “Prebble and Silverman executive produce with Ash Atalla, Amy Zvi and Dan Hine.”

Silverman’s early career got a boost from her work on HBO, on “Mr. Show With Bob and David” and “The Larry Sanders Show,” the report notes.

“She went on to headline her own comedy series on Comedy Central, which earned her an Emmy nomination for best comedy actress,” the story adds.

sarah silverman

Sarah Silverman

Dec 18, 2014
1:27 pm

MTV Series Casts the World’s Last Druid (THR)

The MTV project “Shannara,” a 10-episode adaptation of Terry Brooks’ “The Elfstones of Shannara,” has cast actor Manu Bennett in a co-starring role as the world’s last druid, The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

Bennett’s character, Allanon, is a wise man who gets Wil, played by Austin Butler, to fulfill his destiny and save the world, the story says. It’s not the first fantasy role for Bennett, as he plays the orc king Azog in “The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies.” He also played Crixus on Starz’ “Spartacus.”

MTV gave the project a straight-to-series order in June. The book series now has more than two dozen books, and is considered the highest-selling unadapted fantasy series in the world, the piece adds.

manu bennett

Manu Bennett

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