May 24, 2016
3:11 pm

MSNBC Veteran Exits the Network (Variety)

A veteran of 19 years at MSNBC is leaving the cable news channel after playing a big role behind the cameras. Variety reports that executive and producer Izzy Povich is headed out.

Povich has been VP of talent and development since 2013.

“Povich, a former senior producer on both Lawrence O’Donnell’s prime-time program as well as Keith Olbermann’s now-defunct ‘Countdown,’ had been assigned to help change MSNBC’s daytime lineup and help it focus more on breaking news,” Variety reports. “In March, Janelle Rodriguez, an NBC News senior vice president who once held a senior role at CNN, was given an assignment that focused on coordinating resources between NBC News and MSNBC, which are sharing more resources during daytime hours.”

In a memo sent to staffers today, MSNBC President Phil Griffin said: “Izzy has MSNBC running through her veins. She’s dealt with historic news stories, historic egos, colorful personalities — and done it all with her trademark humor. She’s been at the heart of so much that has happened here, and has touched virtually everyone who has come through our doors, both as a leader and a mentor. She’s a brilliant and creative producer, a skillful manager, a fearless fighter and a great friend.”


May 24, 2016
2:37 pm

Rocker Has Terminal Brain Cancer (TVWeek)

The lead singer and lyricist for a popular rock band has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. The Tragically Hip announced the diagnosis for Gord Downie today on its Facebook page.

The band also announced that it will do a special tour this summer in honor of Downie.

Downie, 52, hails from Kingston, Ontario, Canada. In addition to his work with the band, he has released three solo albums, most recently “The Grand Bounce” in 2010.

The Tragically Hip has been together since 1984, taking its name from a skit in the Michael Nesmith movie “Elephant Parts.” The band has a string of No. 1 hits in its native Canada, and has established a following in the U.S. with live performances and songs including “New Orleans is Sinking,” “Courage” and “Poets.”

Here’s the post from the Tragically Hip’s Facebook page:

An Important Message From The Band:

Hello friends. We have some very tough news to share with you today, and we wish it wasn’t so.

A few months ago, in December, Gord Downie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.

Since then, obviously, he’s endured a lot of difficult times, and he has been fighting hard. In privacy along with his family, and through all of this, we’ve been standing by him.

So after 30-some years together as The Tragically Hip, thousands of shows, and hundreds of tours…

We’ve decided to do another one.

This feels like the right thing to do now, for Gord, and for all of us.

What we in The Hip receive, each time we play together, is a connection; with each other; with music and it’s magic; and during the shows, a special connection with all of you, our incredible fans.

So, we’re going to dig deep, and try to make this our best tour yet.

We hope you can come out and join us this summer – details and dates will be coming this week.

And we sincerely thank all of you, for your continued love and support,

Paul, GordD, Johnny, Rob, GordS

May 24, 2016
2:19 pm

L.A. Lands a Super Bowl — Next Five Host Locations Announced (Deadline)

The NFL continued to strengthen its bond with the city of Los Angeles, awarding the Super Bowl for 2021 to the city. Deadline.com reports that Super Bowl LV will be played in the not-yet-built stadium planned for Inglewood.

The game is set to be broadcast by NBC.

“This will be the first time the Super Bowl will be played in the City of Angels since 1992, when the Dallas Cowboys walloped the Buffalo Bills 52-17 on January 31, 1993 in Super Bowl XXVII at the Rose Bowl,” the report notes.

The league tweeted out where the next five Super Bowls will be held, with the next one, Super Bowl LI, to be played Feb. 5, 2017 at NRG Stadium in Houston and aired on Fox.

The rest of the host locations announced in the tweet are Minnesota (2018), Atlanta (2019) and South Florida (2020).

super bowl logo

May 24, 2016
12:01 pm

We Have a Winner: One Network Sweeps the Season in Total Viewers, 18-49 and 25-54 (Deadline)

One broadcast network is about to close out the 2015-2016 TV season at No. 1 not only in in total viewers and the key 18-49 demo but also in the 25-54 demo. Deadline.com reports that the network is CBS, which got a bump from broadcasting this year’s Super Bowl.

The season officially wraps midweek, but CBS already has a lock on the top ratings spot. CBS has averaged 10.914 million total viewers for the season, followed by NBC with 8.108 million, ABC with 6.817 million, Fox with 5.777 million and the CW with 1.986 million.

In the 18-49 demo, CBS is on top with an average 2.3 rating, ahead of NBC with a 2.1, Fox at 1.9, ABC with a 1.8 and the CW at 0.8.


May 24, 2016
11:31 am

HBO Names New Head of Programming (THR)

Following the sudden exit late last week of Michael Lombardo as HBO programming chief, the pay-cable channel has named Casey Bloys as president of programming, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“The shakeup, which left many of HBO’s top producers blindsided, comes during a whirlwind year for the former comedy executive, who was bumped up to president of series, late night and specials following the ouster of drama head Michael Ellenberg in late January,” the story reports.

Lombardo, meanwhile, is transitioning to a producer role, with the report citing insiders saying he will have “a significant deal at HBO.” “In an interview shortly after the news broke, Lombardo acknowledged that the term ‘producer’ would be loosely defined, noting that he’s looking to do something entrepreneurial while remaining close to the creative and his longtime network home,” THR notes.

The report adds: “Bloys is no doubt green for a role of this size and scale, as his domain included merely comedy until roughly four months ago. It should be noted, though, that in that space, the well-liked executive fared well, having shepherded such series as ‘Silicon Valley,’ ‘Girls’ and ‘Veep’ as well as newer entry ‘Ballers,’ a more recent attempt to broaden the network’s comedy brand.”


May 24, 2016
10:44 am

Wow! Local Sportscaster Goes WAY Off Script, Attacks His Colleague — Watch the Video (YouTube, TVWeek)

As on-air meltdowns go, an incident that took place during a live news broadcast at the San Francisco station KRON-TV is right up there with the most awkward.

Veteran sportscaster Gary Radnich apparently felt newscaster Catherine Heenan stole his thunder when she announced that LeBron James would be starring in the new “Space Jam” movie, and Radnich suddenly launched into a verbal assault in the midst of the sports report.

Here’s the clip …

May 24, 2016
10:31 am

In Explosive Deposition Excerpts, Bill Cosby Admits to Drug-Filled Romps With Young Women (NY Post, AP, TVWeek)

Even as Bill Cosby smiled and waved to onlookers today while arriving at criminal court, newly unearthed deposition excerpts were making the rounds in which Cosby admits to plying young women with drugs and booze and having sex with them, the New York Post reports.

Cosby’s pre-trial hearing today in Pennsylvania didn’t go his way, either — he was ordered to stand trial on sexual assault charges, as we reported separately.

Meanwhile, media reports focused on excerpts from depositions Cosby gave in 2005 and 2006 in connection with a civil suit against him by Andrea Constand — the same woman he’s accused of assaulting in the criminal case.

In the depositions, Cosby “admitted to having sex with at least two teen-aged girls and said an agency would send ‘five or six’ models to his studio each week while he was filming one of his sitcoms,” the Post reports.

Excerpts of the depositions were released this week by the Associated Press.

The AP report includes the following account of a discussion in which Cosby was asked about his use of quaaludes:

“Cosby testified that he had gotten quaaludes from his doctor in Los Angeles in the 1970s,” the AP reports. “He said he was given seven prescriptions for the now-banned sedative, ostensibly for a sore back.”

“Q: Why didn’t you ever take the quaaludes?

“A: Because I used them.

“Q: For what?

“A: The same as a person would say, “Have a drink.”

“Q: You gave them to other people?

“A: Yes.

“Q: Did you believe at that time that it was illegal for you to dispense those drugs?

“A: Yes.

“Q: How did (the doctor) know that you didn’t plan to use (them)?

“A: What was happening at that time was that, that was, quaaludes happen to be the drug that kids, young people were using to party with and there were times when I wanted to have them just in case.

“Q: When you got the quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?

“A. Yes.”

You can click here to read extensive excerpts published by the AP.

May 24, 2016
10:27 am

Bill Cosby Ordered to Stand Trial on Sexual Assault Charges (CNN)

Comedian Bill Cosby will stand trial for felony indecent assault after a judge determined today that there is sufficient evidence in a Pennsylvania case to proceed to trial.

Cosby, who appeared in court for the pretrial hearing, will return to court July 20, with the start date for his trial still to be determined, CNN reports.

“Cosby faces three counts of felony indecent assault from a 2004 case involving Andrea Constand, an employee at his alma mater, Temple University. She was the first of more than 50 women who have accused the comedian of sexual misconduct,” CNN reports. “If convicted, Cosby faces up to 10 years in prison.”

With Constand not in court today, the defense team questioned the reliability of her 2005 statement to police, the story reports.

“In the statement, Constand said Cosby invited her to his home in 2004 and told her to wear comfortable clothes. Constand said she was given two pills to ‘take the edge off’ and was later sexually assaulted,” CNN notes.

The report adds: “Bruce Castor, the Montgomery County district attorney at the time of the alleged incident, did not file sexual assault charges against Cosby, citing ‘insufficient credible and admissible evidence.'”

May 24, 2016
10:17 am

Why Did Bernie Sanders Drop a Hollywood Celebrity From the Speaker Lineup? (THR, TVWeek, Twitter, YouTube)

A Hollywood celebrity who has endorsed the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign was “uninvited” after being slated to introduce Sanders on a campaign stop in East Los Angeles. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Sanders campaign made a last-minute decision to opt out of having Tommy Chong do the honors.

Chong, who was half of the pot-focused comedy duo Cheech & Chong, remains an outspoken activist for the legalization of marijuana. A spokesman for the Sanders campaign said in an email to THR: “We appreciate his support but a scheduling issue came up.”

But Chong had a different take on the snub, calling it “an insult” and telling THR: “It’s lip service to get the votes, but they don’t want to endorse what I stand for and what I’ve stood for all my professional career.”

THR adds: “Chong, who was invited on Sunday to Sanders’ noon rally in Lincoln Park, says he is sure the campaign put distance between himself and Sanders over the marijuana issue, calling the move a ‘weakness’ by the Sanders camp. He joked that his hair and makeup were done for nothing.”

But Chong continues to “feel the Bern,” commenting later on Twitter: “Hope to continue my support, reschedule, and continue activism, political change and promoting peace anywhere possible.”

Here’s a clip Chong posted earlier this year in support of Sanders — with the marijuana issue front and center …

May 24, 2016
10:01 am

Elijah Wood Says His Comments on Pedophilia in Hollywood Have Been Misinterpreted — Here’s What He Really Meant (THR, Sunday Times, TVWeek)

After inadvertently becoming a focal point of a flurry of reports about child sexual abuse in Hollywood, actor Elijah Wood said he didn’t mean to imply that he had personal insights into the problem.

Wood clarified his views for The Hollywood Reporter after comments he made in an interview for the U.K. publication The Sunday Times became widely circulated.

“The Sunday Times interviewed me about my latest film, but the story became about something else entirely,” said the star of “The Hobbit,” who is a former child star. In that interview, Wood was asked about alleged U.K. child abuser Jimmy Savile and responded, in part: “Clearly something major was going on in Hollywood. It was all organized. There are a lot of vipers in this industry, people who only have their own interests in mind.”

He added: “There is darkness in the underbelly. If you can imagine it, it’s probably happened.”

“The quotes have been picked up by dozens of news outlets with stories framing Wood as having coming clean about dark and long-held secrets,” THR reports, citing a headline by the Daily Beast that reads: “Elijah Wood: Hollywood Is Full of Pedophiles.”

“But Wood tells THR that his comments have been wildly misinterpreted, and that his only knowledge of child sexual predation in Hollywood comes from news reports and the 2015 documentary film ‘An Open Secret,’ directed by Amy Berg,” THR reports.

Wood told THR: “Let me be clear: This subject of child abuse is an important one that should be discussed and properly investigated. But as I made absolutely clear to the writer, I have no firsthand experience or observation of the topic, so I cannot speak with any authority beyond articles I have read and films I have seen.”

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