Sep 22, 2014
9:44 am

NBC News Veteran Calls It Quits (TVNewser)

A longtime NBC News correspondent appears to be headed out the door. TVNewser reports that Mike Taibbi is leaving the business, with Taibbi writing in a memo that as he turns 65 he’s “heading off watch for the first time in a long time.”

Taibbi, who is the father of writer Matt Taibbi, reports for all NBC News broadcasts, having joined the network in 1997 as a correspondent for “Dateline NBC.” Before that he worked for CBS’s “48 Hours” and ABC News.

In recent years he has covered the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colo., and the Gabby Giffords shooting, the story notes. Taibbi started out as a reporter at WCVB-TV in Boston in 1971.

In his letter to friends and colleagues, he wrote, “It occurred to me a few weeks ago, turning 65, that I’d had a by-line as a reporter for just about half a century. In print at first and then, for more than four decades, on television.”

He continued, “In his novel ‘Mile Zero,’ Thomas Sanchez wrote ‘Nothing lasts forever … not even eternal love.’” He added, “I’m a sailor, heading off watch for the first time in a long time on a passage I’ve been privileged to share with so many of you.”

mike taibbi

Mike Taibbi

Sep 22, 2014
9:37 am

HBO Suspends Controversial Movie Project (TheWrap)

HBO has suspended pre-production of a movie project that has generated controversy, with the pay-cable channel citing budget issues as the reason for the move. reports the suspension of “Happy Valley,” a film from Brian De Palma about the Penn State football scandal centered on convicted serial child molester Jerry Sandusky. The scandal tainted the legacy of longtime Penn State head coach Joe Paterno.

While a number of commenters responding to reports of the HBO move have asserted that the sensitive nature of the project may in fact be related to its suspension and have hinted that the project is in jeopardy, HBO says otherwise.

In a statement, HBO said: “We have not killed the project, so to say so inaccurate. We have suspended pre-production for a moment to deal with budget issues, but the project is still intact at HBO with the entire creative team as before.”

Sandusky, who was an assistant football coach at Penn State University, is now in prison, after he was convicted of 45 counts of sexual abuse against minors. Paterno was implicated in a cover-up of the abuse, and died in 2012.

The project is slated to star Al Pacino as Paterno and John Carroll Lynch as Sandusky, the report notes.

brian de palma

Brian De Palma

Sep 22, 2014
9:21 am

P&G Pulls NFL Promotion Amid Domestic-Violence Controversy (Ad Age, Chicago Tribune)

Procter & Gamble has pulled the plug on planned promotional activities in connection with the NFL. Advertising Age reports that the marketer canceled “on-field” activities around breast-cancer awareness as the league remains embroiled in a domestic-violence controversy.

P&G had planned to promote Crest with a league-wide campaign during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. That would have included NFL players wearing pink mouth guards and using social media to promote the campaign, the story notes.

The decision to cancel what P&G calls “on-field activation with NFL teams” comes after the company earlier asked the NFL to take “swift action” to address the domestic-violence issues.

At the same time, a doctored image of a CoverGirl ad went viral. CoverGirl, a P&G brand, is also the official beauty sponsor of the NFL. The ad featured the phrase, “Get Your Game Face On,” but activists doctored the photo to show the model with a black eye, the Chicago Tribune notes.

Please click here to read the full report from Advertising Age.

crest toothpaste illustration

Sep 22, 2014
9:09 am
Sep 22, 2014
9:07 am

Report: Barbara Walters’ Live Appearances on ‘The View’ Being Curtailed (NY Post)

Barbara Walters’ live TV appearances on “The View” are being limited by ABC executives, as the network seeks to focus on revamping the daytime talk show, reports the New York Post’s Page Six.

Walters reportedly wanted to appear live on the show when it returned last week with a new set and co-hosts, but ABC executives are said to have turned down the idea. Instead, she was featured in a taped segment.

Walters denied seeking to have airtime on the show, the story says. She told the publication, “How silly! I deliberately taped a piece at the top, gave it my blessing, and now they’re off to the races.”

barbara walters

Barbara Walters

Sep 22, 2014
9:01 am

Nothing Funny About the Networks’ Problem With Comedies (LA Times)

One problem facing broadcast networks as the fall season rolls out is no laughing matter: The Los Angeles Times’ Company Town reports that the shortage of returning comedy series points to a serious problem.

Only five of last year’s 21 new comedies are set to return this season, and only 14 of the 82 prime-time comedies that have made it to networks’ schedules since 2009 are still on air, the story reports.

The result is a “sitcom slump,” the article notes, with networks unable to find long-running shows like “Seinfeld” and “Friends.”

“The major networks — ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC — are not giving up as the fall season kicks off this week, rolling out 18 new comedies that will seek to mine laughs from romantic entanglements and family dynamics,” the story notes.

The report adds: “It’s not hard to see why. Comedies have long been the ratings and profit drivers of the television industry, cheaper to produce than hourlong dramas and lucrative in syndication long after new episodes have been canceled. Hollywood’s production studios bank on them to sustain their businesses. And cable channels rely on sitcom reruns to pad schedules and lure advertisers.”

Several factors may be to blame for the dearth of returning comedies. For one, streaming services such as Amazon and Netflix are developing their own shows, luring writers who might have otherwise worked on broadcast programs. The streaming companies “offer as much money as, if not more than, the networks, and freedom from censors,” the piece points out.

Premium networks are also draining talent away from broadcasters, the article adds.

And then there’s the problem of comedy itself: It’s difficult to put together all the elements needed for a hit, such as strong writing and acting and chemistry on set.

“If the past is any indication, the networks will give most new shows only a few weeks to prove themselves before the cancellations begin,” the piece points out.


Sep 22, 2014
8:47 am

E! Reveals Plans for ‘Fashion Police’ After Death of Star Joan Rivers (LA Times)

The death of veteran comedian and “Fashion Police” star Joan Rivers forced the E! Entertainment cable channel to consider what to do with the show, and the channel has decided to carry on without Rivers, the Los Angeles Times reports.

E! revealed after receiving the approval of Rivers’ daughter, Melissa Rivers, who is one of the show’s stars, that it will continue with “Fashion Police.”

“We decided, with Melissa Rivers’ blessing, that Joan would have wanted the franchise to continue. ‘Fashion Police’ will return in 2015, commencing with Golden Globe coverage on Monday, Jan. 12. No further details will be announced at this time,” the network said in a statement.

The statement added that the network had “thought long and hard about what Joan would have wanted.”

Fashion Police - Season: 2012

Sep 22, 2014
8:41 am

Al Gore Hit With Lawsuit Over Current TV (AP)

The nasty legal battle over the sale of Current TV by Al Gore has taken another nasty turn. On the heels of a lawsuit filed by the former vice president against Al Jazeera America, the Associated Press reports that Al Jazeera America is countersuing Gore and Joel Hyatt, as the sides battle over funds related to the sale of Current TV.

The two sides are tussling over money that’s held in escrow, with Gore and Hyatt claiming the network is improperly withholding tens of millions of dollars that were put aside when Al Jazeera bought the network for $500 million.

The AP notes, “Al Jazeera America says it is entitled to the money because Gore and Hyatt agreed to indemnify the network for claims made against Current TV, but didn’t live up to their promise. It accuses the pair of ‘misrepresentations’ and says they received hundreds of millions of dollars from the sale.”

current tv-logo


Sep 22, 2014
12:55 am

Whoa! Game Changer: Scheduling Guru Preston Beckman — Who Has Done Terrific Work For NBC and Fox in Years Past — Says ‘The eventual demise of a fall season is going to happen’ (NY Times)

Just as the ascendancy of cable programming was inevitable, so is the eventual demise of the traditional fall season, loaded with its premieres of new shows and new seasons, particularly from the broadcast networks.

That seems to be the conclusion of a piece in The New York Times by Bill Carter and Emily Steel that carries two headlines: Online the headline is “Fall TV Season Has Buzz, But It’s Growing Softer”; in Monday’s print edition the headline reads “It’s Muted, but Buzz for Fall TV Returns.”

Preston Beckman, who has been the chief prime-time scheduler for both NBC and Fox — and is currently a programming adviser to Fox — makes the following argument, The Times says: “that in spite of all the factors battering the tradition of the network premiere week, it retains value, mainly for the attention it still brings to a business that needs all the attention it can get.”

But then, in the last line of the article, The Times notes that even the bullish Beckman has his doubts about the long-term viability of a traditional broadcast premiere week in the fall: “‘It’s not always going to be this way,’ he said. ‘The eventual demise of a fall season is going to happen gradually, but it will still take a long time before it finally happens.’ “

Here’s another point the article makes: “As the networks vie with one another, they are increasingly finding that they no longer have the fall season spotlight to themselves, even in premiere week. The rest of the business used to back off until after the network program stampede. But this year, for example, the FX cable channel is running the final season of its drama ‘Sons of Anarchy’ right in middle of the network fall debuts, and scoring impressive ratings. Last season, AMC ran the finale of ‘Breaking Bad’ on the first Sunday of the network season.”

To read more about the fall TV season, this year and in the future, please click on our link above that will take you to Carter and Steel’s original article.


One of this season’s highly anticipated fall debuts: “Gotham” on Fox

Sep 22, 2014
12:55 am

BET Star to Contact FBI About the Latest Nude Celebrity Photo Breach Over the Weekend (TMZ)

The star of a BET series will be “contacting the FBI” after some topless photos of her were leaked onto the Internet, reports TMZ.

The story reports that Gabrielle Union, the star of BET’s “Being Mary Jane,” and her husband, basketball star Dwyane Wade, released a statement saying, “It has come to our attention that our private moments, that were shared and deleted solely between my husband and myself, have been leaked by some vultures.”

Union added, “I can’t help but to be reminded that since the dawn of time women and children, specifically women of color, have been victimized, and the power over their own bodies taken from them. These atrocities against women and children continue worldwide.”

The TMZ story adds that other celebrities whose nude photos appear to have been stolen over the weekend include Jenny McCarthy, Emily Ratajkowski, Kate Bosworth and Lake Bell.

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