Jul 25, 2016
3:57 pm

Top Cable Executive to Retire (Deadline)

One of the best-known and most admired executives in the television business is retiring after a 46-year career. Deadline.com reports that Joe Abruzzese will step down as Discovery Communications’ head of ad sales at the end of the year.

Abruzzese has been at Discovery for the past 14 years, following 11 years at CBS and 10 years at NBC. “Discovery will promote Ben Price, a 27-year veteran, to president of U.S. ad sales when Abruzzese leaves,” Deadline notes. “He’ll report to Chief Commercial Officer Paul Guyardo.”

Said Discovery CEO David Zaslav: “Joe has defined what it means to lead with integrity, has made clients into friends, built the best ad sales organization in the business — including our new leader Ben Price — and created fantastic value for Discovery and our shareholders.”

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Jul 25, 2016
3:31 pm

Shocking Video Shows Woman Attacked by Tiger in Wildlife Park (NBC News, CCTV)

A woman visiting a wildlife park was killed and another woman was seriously injured in a tiger attack in a safari park in China, NBC News reports. The incident was captured on video, which you can see below — but be warned that you may find it disturbing.

The attack took place after one of the women got out of her car at the Badaling Wildlife Park in Beijing. As she attempts to get into the driver’s side door, the tiger comes up behind her and drags her away.

A second woman who went to help was reportedly killed by another tiger. The first woman was seriously injured.

Here’s the video …

Jul 25, 2016
3:01 pm

Mermaid Drama Gets Green Light (TVWeek)

Freeform continues to expand its development slate, giving the green light to a new project about mermaids. The cable channel ordered a pilot for the animated drama “The Deep.”

Karey Burke, executive vice president, Programming and Development, for Freeform, announced the project today, with production set to begin in September in Vancouver.

“‘The Deep’ is a very different show than one would expect when they hear the word ‘mermaid’ — the mermaid tale has been reinvented in this pilot,” said Burke. “The writing is thrilling, stories complex and scary, and we are excited to explore the themes of obsession and violence through these amazing creatures.”

The announcement notes that the project is “a one-hour drama that takes us inside Bristol Cove, a coastal town known for its legend of once being home to mermaids. When the arrival of a mysterious girl proves this folklore all too true, the battle between man and sea takes a very vicious turn as these predatory beings return to reclaim their right to the ocean.”

Eric Wald and Dean White will write and executive produce the pilot. Scott Stewart (“Dominion”) will direct. Brad Luff, Nate Hopper and RD Robb will also serve as executive producers. Emily Whitesell (“Finding Carter”) will serve as showrunner.

The announcement comes on the heels of Freeform’s pickup of the comedy pilot “Alone Together.” Other recently announced pickups, series and pilots include season six of the hit comedy “Baby Daddy,” the series “Ben and Lauren: Happily Ever After,” “Famous in Love” and “Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger” and the pilot “Issues.”

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Jul 25, 2016
2:44 pm

Fox News Points to Post-Roger Ailes Strategy (Variety)

In the wake of the departure of network boss Roger Ailes, Fox News Channel provided a glimpse of its strategy going forward in a series of print ads today in The New York Times, New York Post and other publications, Brian Steinberg reports in Variety.

In the ads, FNC “touted the winning ratings performance from its broadcasts of the Republican National Convention, noting that its primetime viewership during the event trumped that of NBC, CNN, ABC, CBS or MSNBC,” Steinberg writes. “Copy lines at the bottom of the ad reminded readers that Fox News is ‘America’s Election HQ’ and strives to be ‘Fair, Balanced & Unafraid’ — a slogan that typically runs at the end of Bret Baier’s ‘Special Report’ every evening.”

On the surface, the post-Roger Ailes era appears to be business as usual. “Indeed, Ailes stepped down as the network’s chairman and CEO last week in a move that could prompt changes at a TV outlet that has taken on outsize influence in its two decades in existence,” Steinberg writes. “In public, however, the ads put forth the notion that, at least when it comes to Fox News programming, not much is changing.”

The report quotes veteran branding adviser Allen Adamson of Brand Simple Consulting saying: “You’ve got to keep your eye on where you are going, not on where you have been, if you are managing a brand. The best advice would be to stick to the current game plan, keep your nose to the grindstone, until there’s a new captain who is going to have their own point of view.”

Click on the link near the top of this story to go to Variety to read Steinberg’s full analysis.

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Jul 25, 2016
2:09 pm

‘Justice League’ Trailer a Hit — Here It Is (YouTube)

One of the most popular trailers from Comic-Con has been the clip for “Justice League,” which has already chalked up almost 8 million views in two days on YouTube.

The movie, which stars Gal Gadot, Jared Leto, Amber Heard and Ben Affleck, is due in 2017.

Here’s the clip …

Jul 25, 2016
12:21 pm

It’s a Wrap for Drama Series After Eight Seasons (TVWeek)

A broadcast drama will be wrapping after a successful eight-season run. Plans to pull the plug on “The Vampire Diaries” after its upcoming season eight were unveiled at Comic-Con over the weekend.

The show will return to the CW on Friday, Oct. 21, for its eighth and final season.

Executive producers Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec announced plans for the show’s final season, which will consist of 16 episodes. The date of the series finale will be announced later.

Click here to read additional details in the announcement from the CW, and to watch the “Vampire Diaries” Comic-Con 2016 farewell video.

Here’s a “villains reel” for season eight, also unveiled by the CW at Comic-Con …

Jul 25, 2016
12:07 pm

Fire Destroys Historic Movie Ranch (TVWeek)

The massive Sand Fire that continues to whip through the Santa Clarita area just north of Los Angeles consumed the Sable Ranch, a famed movie location ranch that has been used in films and TV shows for decades.

The ranch on Sand Canyon Road in Santa Clarita appears in B-Westerns as far back as the 1940s, and was still in use as recently as this year. Early films said to be shot at the site include “Ride ‘Em Cowboy” (1942) and “Bells of Coronado” (1950).

The location ranch became a busy place in the 1980s, providing locations for TV shows including “Bret Maverick,” “The A-Team” and “V: The Final Battle.”

Other productions filming at the site have included the “Supernatural” pilot in 2005, the “Alias” TV series, Fox’s “24,” “Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III” in 1990 and the 1993 movie “Robin Hood: Men in Tights.”

Most recently, the Sable Ranch has been used for filming “Minutes to Midnight,” “Duel of Legends” and “Little Red Rotting Hood.”

The erratic Sand Fire continues to cut a swath across much of the wooded area north of Los Angeles, having claimed at least 18 homes, with one death attributed to the fire.

Jul 25, 2016
10:57 am

Coming Soon: Reboot of Cult Favorite TV Series (TVWeek)

Details surfaced over the weekend about an upcoming reboot of a series that became a cult favorite before it went off the air in 1999. The show is “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” which ran for 10 seasons on Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi Channel.

Created by Joel Hodgson and known as “MST3K” among its fans, the show popularized the format for mocking bad movies by adding a humorous running commentary. Hodgson launched a successful crowdfunding campaign last year to revive the show, which was picked up by Netflix for 14 new episodes.

Netflix does not yet have an airdate, but announced over the weekend that the new “MST3K” will be released in the “not-too-distant future.” Along with Hodgson, the revival will feature new host Jonah Ray (as “Jonah Heston”) along with Felicia Day as “Kinga Forrester.”

Please click here to read the full announcement from Netflix.

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Jul 25, 2016
10:01 am

Police Kick Down Door at Lindsay Lohan’s Home, Capping Off a String of Bizarre Incidents (Us Weekly, NY Post, The Sun)

Actress Lindsay Lohan was involved in a series of wild incidents over the weekend, apparently stemming from her fears that her fiance was cheating on her. Events turned ugly, Us Weekly reports, with police called to Lohan’s London apartment Saturday after a report of a nasty argument between Lohan and Egor Tarabasov, the 23-year-old Russian millionaire to whom Lohan is engaged.

Media attention was initially focused on a series of social media posts by Lohan. The New York Post’s Page Six reports that Lohan, 30, went on a rant accusing Tarabasov of cheating on her with a “Russian hooker” — Lohan’s description for fashion designer and socialite Dasha Pashevkina, who was seen partying with Tarabasov in a video posted by Lohan.

“Lohan later posted the woman’s home address and e-mail on social media with a rant that included a Donald Trump hashtag, although she eventually deleted it,” the Post reports. “Not long after, Lohan inexplicably suggested she was knocked up, tweeting, ‘Lindsay Lohan labour pains trailer — I am pregnant!!’ along with an image from her 2009 movie ‘Labor Pains.’”

The U.K. publication The Sun posted a video of what appears to be Lohan having a meltdown at the apartment and unleashing a string of expletives aimed at Tarabasov. The fracas woke up neighbors, The Sun reports.

“Shouting her name and address across the street, [Lohan] screamed: ‘Please please please. He just strangled me. He almost killed me. Everybody will know. Get out of my house,'” the paper reports.

Us Weekly notes: “Metropolitan Police were called to the apartment following ‘a report of a woman in distress,’ but they didn’t find Lohan or the Russian billionaire inside.” The Sun reports that officers kicked down the door to get in the apartment.

A police spokesperson told Us Weekly today: “Officers attended and, following concerns for the welfare of the occupants inside, forced entry into the address. There was no one inside but enquiries were made and the occupants were traced and found to be safe and well.”

Jul 25, 2016
9:41 am

CNN Does an About-Face on Donna Brazile as Democrats Deal With Email Fallout (Deadline, TVWeek)

Democratic Party insider Donna Brazile, who has been a frequent commentator on CNN’s political coverage, will remain in CNN’s rotation of talking heads during the Democratic National Convention, Deadline.com reports. The move marks an apparent about-face by the cable channel.

Brazile has been named as the Democratic National Committee’s interim chair in the wake of a controversy surrounding current DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Wasserman Schultz has resigned her post, but will remain involved in the convention, which opens today.

The resignation of Wasserman Schultz came after Wikileaks exposed emails that reportedly showed bias against Bernie Sanders among party insiders at the highest levels. Following news that Brazile was poised to step into the position, CNN initially announced that Brazile and the network had agreed to temporarily suspend her contract as a contributor, Deadline notes.

Brazile, who is typically introduced in her CNN appearances as a Hillary Clinton supporter or as DNC vice chair, will reportedly step into the interim chair’s role after the convention.

Deadline cites a source saying Brazile will remain in the regular lineup of commentators over the course of the convention, but won’t be paid for her appearances.

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