May 25, 2016
3:14 pm

Cable Channels Lay Off Staffers (Deadline)

Layoffs are taking place at two cable channels, according to a new report. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the NBCUniversal networks USA and Syfy are cutting their workforces.

“The headcount reduction, which I hear affects less than 10% of the employees at the two networks, or about 25 people, stems from the February executive restructuring in NBCU’s cable division, which led to the consolidation of USA and Syfy into the Entertainment Networks Group under Chris McCumber,” Andreeva reports.

The moves follow similar cutbacks at E! and Esquire after NBCU consolidated its lifestyle cable networks and merged the two networks’ marketing operations, the report notes. Andreeva adds: “I hear contributing to the staff reduction to a smaller degree is the recent consolidation of the scripted operations of USA, Syfy, Bravo and E! under Bill McGoldrick.”

McCumber detailed the moves in a memo to staff, which announced the creation of two new departments: Content Strategy, whose head is yet to be named, and Original Co-Productions, to be overseen by Chris Regina, senior VP of Original Co-Productions.


May 25, 2016
2:59 pm

Nothing Is Off the Table in Rap Battle Between Anne Hathaway and James Corden — Watch It Now (CBS)

CBS’s “Late Late Show with James Corden” featured a rap battle between the host and actress Anne Hathaway, and nothing was off the table, according to the show.

Here’s the clip …

May 25, 2016
2:41 pm

Producer on HBO Show Arrested in Woman’s Death (AP)

A producer on an HBO show was one of two men arrested today on charges stemming from the overdose death of a dermatologist in 2015. The AP reports that Marc Henry Johnson, who was a producer on the HBO pilot “The Deuce,” was arrested along with James Holder by federal agents.

A spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Agency said the men were arrested on conspiracy charges in connection with the death of Dr. Kiersten Cerveny. A dermatologist in Long Island, Cerveny was found dead Oct. 4 in the lobby of Holder’s apartment building, the story reports.

“Authorities believe Cerveny had snorted cocaine all night as she shared drinks with Johnson at a Lower East Side nightspot. She rode back in a taxi to Holder’s apartment building in Chelsea and overdosed in Holder’s apartment, according to court papers,” the story reports.

The report adds: “Johnson, who is also charged with attempted narcotics distribution and being an accessory after the fact, was seen on the building’s surveillance cameras dragging her down to the lobby, authorities said. He called 911 and waited until emergency crews arrived but then took off, police said at the time.”

May 25, 2016
2:09 pm

‘Live With Kelly’ Announces Co-Hosts for Week of June 6-10 (TVWeek)

The daytime talk show “Live with Kelly,” which continues without a permanent co-host following the recent departure of Michael Strahan, announced the lineup of guest co-hosts who will join Kelly Ripa during the week of June 6-10.

Here’s the lineup:

Monday, June 6, 2016 — Comedian D.L. Hughley

Tuesday, June 7, 2016 — Actor Joel McHale

Wednesday, June 8, 2016 — Actor Joel McHale

Thursday, June 9, 2016 — TV producer, host and radio personality Ryan Seacrest

Friday, June 10, 2016 — Actor Alec Baldwin

Produced by WABC-TV in New York and executive produced by Michael Gelman, the syndicated program is distributed by Disney|ABC Home Entertainment and TV Distribution.

live kelly-new logo

May 25, 2016
11:57 am

Actress Known for Long-Running Sitcom Role Dies (AP, TVWeek, YouTube)

An actress who is remembered for playing a beloved character on a popular comedy series has died. The AP reports that Beth Howland, known for her role as the ditzy waitress Vera on the CBS sitcom “Alice,” died of lung cancer.

Howland, 74, reportedly died Dec. 31 in Santa Monica, Calif., although her death was not publicly announced at the time. Her husband, actor Charles Kimbrough, has confirmed her death.

“Howland was born May 28, 1941, in Boston,” the AP reports. “At 16, she landed a role on Broadway alongside Dick Van Dyke in ‘Bye Bye Birdie.’ CBS later noticed Howland on stage in the 1970 production of ‘Company’ and brought her to Hollywood for a bit part on ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show.'”

She had a number of minor roles on TV, including “The Love Boat” and “Little House on the Prairie,” before landing her career-defining role on “Alice,” which was based on the 1974 Martin Scorsese film “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.” The comedy, which also starred Linda Lavin and Vic Tayback, went on to a nine-season run from 1976-1985, with Howland earning four Golden Globe nominations for her work on the show.

Here’s a short clip from “Alice” featuring Howland’s character, Vera, demonstrating scream therapy.

May 25, 2016
11:33 am

Paul McCartney Talks About His Depression and Alcohol Use After the Beatles Broke Up (NY Post, YouTube)

The breakup of the Beatles back in 1970 left Paul McCartney depressed and pushed him to alcohol, McCartney revealed during a taping of BBC radio’s “Mastertapes,” the New York Post’s Page Six reports.

McCartney, 73, is quoted saying: “I was so depressed. You would be. … You were breaking from your lifelong friends.”

He adds: “So I took to the bevvies. I took to a wee dram. It was great at first, then suddenly I wasn’t having a good time. … I wanted to get back to square one, so I ended up forming Wings.”

McCartney had a pretty good run in the 1970s with Wings, which included his wife, Linda. But McCartney admits that the group was a step down from the Beatles.

“We were terrible,” he said of Wings. “We knew Linda couldn’t play, but she learned, and looking back on it, I’m really glad we did it. … I could have just formed a supergroup, rung up Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page and John Bonham. But you still remember the names of the people who gave you really bad, vicious reviews: Charles Shaar Murray shall ever be hated!”

May 25, 2016
11:07 am

Highlights of the 2016 TV Upfronts (TVWeek)

The broadcast nets and cable groups have wrapped up the 2016 television upfront presentations, and TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin has been keeping track of the highlights.

Please click here to read her roundup of the most memorable presentations and programming from NBCUniversal, CBS, Fox, ABC, ESPN, Turner and others.

May 25, 2016
10:57 am

Acclaimed Cable Drama Series Gets Two More Seasons — and That’s It (TVWeek, FX)

The endgame is mapped out for a cable drama that has been chalking up Emmy nominations for a few years. FX gave a two-season pickup to “The Americans,” which will wrap with a sixth and final season in 2018.

Season five will run 13 episodes and is set to bow in 2017. The final season will consist of 10 episodes.

In a statement, showrunners Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg said: “It’s hard to believe we’re heading into the final stretch on ‘The Americans,’ and we’re so grateful to know we’ll be telling the story to its conclusion. The best part of the last four years has been the intensive and fruitful collaboration with all of the people who make this show. … We’re looking forward to the final two.”

The series, which stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as Russian spies living as a typical American family in the U.S., has been a consistent presence at industry awards events, including winning a Peabody last year. The show has received five Primetime Emmy nominations, including a win for Margo Martindale as Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series in 2015.

The AFI Awards named “The Americans” among its TV Programs of the Year for the past three years.

Said Eric Schrier, president of original programming for FX: “Through its first four seasons, critics have lauded ‘The Americans’ as one of the best shows on television and, remarkably, a series that keeps getting better every year. All credit for that achievement goes to everyone who has worked on the show.”

Season four is currently airing, with the finale set for June 8.

May 25, 2016
10:01 am

NBC Reality Chief Offers Explanation for Donald Trump’s Political Ascent (Variety, TVWeek)

A television executive who has had a working relationship with Donald Trump says he knows why Trump has been successful in the political arena. Variety reports that Paul Telegdy, NBC’s president of alternative and late-night programming, says Trump owes his success to “The Apprentice.”

Asked this week whether Trump would have risen to become the Republican party’s presumptive presidential nominee without “The Apprentice,” Telegdy said: “Of course not.” He spoke on the subject Tuesday during a lunch for the Hollywood Radio and Television Society at the Beverly Hilton.

Trump was the host of the NBC reality shows “The Apprentice” and “Celebrity Apprentice” up until launching his presidential bid.

Said Telegdy: “What’s going on demonstrates, if nothing else, the enormous amount of responsibility that goes with the job of putting out the version of someone that we do in a TV show.” The executive added: “I think his persona seems to be in lockstep with his persona on the show. … I don’t think where Donald is in this campaign is any surprise to anyone who was close to him.”

the apprentice-donald trump

May 25, 2016
9:44 am

Johnny Depp’s New War of Words (The Guardian, ABC)

Three-time Oscar nominee Johnny Depp fired a fresh salvo in a war of words with Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, even after Depp and his wife, Amber Heard, recorded an apology video a while back that seemed to put to rest the couple’s beef with Australia’s customs laws.

Depp revisited the incident Tuesday night when he appeared on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” mocking the Aussie official for threatening to euthanize Depp’s two Yorkshire terriers and saying Joyce “looks somehow inbred with a tomato.”

Joyce responded to Depp’s swipe today, with the U.K. publication The Guardian reporting that Joyce said at a press conference: “I think I’m turning into Johnny Depp’s Hannibal Lecter, aren’t I?”

Joyce added: “I’m inside his head, I’m pulling little strings and pulling little levers. Long after I’ve forgotten about Mr Depp, he’s remembering me.”

Here’s the “Kimmel” clip from Tuesday night …

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