Nov 20, 2017
2:33 pm

Justice Department Set to File Suit to Block AT&T-Time Warner Merger (CNN)

The Justice Department is poised to file a lawsuit aimed at blocking the takeover of Time Warner by AT&T, CNN reports, citing a source who’s familiar with the matter.

“The lawsuit is an unusual challenge to the $85 billion deal, which was announced by the two companies more than a year ago,” CNN reports. “AT&T has been preparing for a potential legal challenge. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said two weeks ago that if the DOJ sued, the company would seek an expedited hearing.”

In a statement today, David R. McAtee II, general counsel for AT&T, said: “Today’s DOJ lawsuit is a radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent. Vertical mergers like this one are routinely approved because they benefit consumers without removing any competitor from the market. We see no legitimate reason for our merger to be treated differently. … Fortunately, the Department of Justice doesn’t have the final say in this matter.”

CNN adds: “Some experts believe the case could be resolved in a matter of months. But a lengthy, drawn-out court battle could cause AT&T and Time Warner to give up on the deal.”

Nov 20, 2017
1:30 pm

‘Partridge Family’ Star David Cassidy in Critical Condition (TVWeek, TMZ, YouTube)

Actor, singer and musician David Cassidy, who became a teen idol in the 1970s as a star of “The Partridge Family,” has been hospitalized and is reportedly in critical but stable condition.

Cassidy, 67, is hospitalized in the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., area, where he is said to be suffering from liver and kidney failure. His spokeswoman said Sunday that he was conscious and surrounded by family.

Cassidy was hospitalized Wednesday and was put temporarily into a medically induced coma. Doctors are reportedly now hoping to find a liver to do a transplant.

Cassidy announced earlier this year that he was dealing with health issues including non-Alzheimer’s dementia and would no longer be touring.

TMZ reported that he has been in failing health for more than two months.

“We’re told doctors have made it clear to the family … with Cassidy’s organ deterioration, they need to prepare for the worst,” TMZ adds.

Nov 20, 2017
12:29 pm

New York Times Suspends Star Reporter (Vox)

A star reporter covering the White House for The New York Times has been suspended by the newspaper after allegations of sexual misbehavior surfaced. The paper reportedly suspended Glenn Thrush and launched an investigation after a story broke today on Vox in which a number of women offer accounts of their alleged experiences with Thrush.

Women interviewed about their encounters with Thrush described experiences “from unwanted groping and kissing to wet kisses out of nowhere to hazy sexual encounters that played out under the influence of alcohol. Each woman described feeling differently about these experiences: scared, violated, ashamed, weirded out,” Vox reports.

The report adds: “Details of their stories suggest a pattern. All of the women were in their 20s at the time. They were relatively early in their careers compared to Thrush, who was the kind of seasoned journalist who would be good to know. At an event with alcohol, he made advances.”

Thrush has reportedly represented himself as an ally to women and an advocate for women journalists. The report quotes a Facebook post attributed to Thrush in response to allegations against political journalist Mark Halperin in which Thrush writes: “Young people who come into a newsroom deserve to be taught our trade, given our support and enlisted in our calling — not betrayed by little men who believe they are bigger than the mission.”

In a statement provided Sunday to the author of the Vox report, Thrush reportedly wrote: “I apologize to any woman who felt uncomfortable in my presence, and for any situation where I behaved inappropriately. Any behavior that makes a woman feel disrespected or uncomfortable is unacceptable.”

Nov 20, 2017
11:58 am

CBS Stations Poised to Go Dark on Dish — Again

A deadline is looming in the latest retrans dispute between CBS and Dish Network, raising the possibility that the CBS and CW O&O’s will be pulled off the satellite service. TVNewsCheck reports that the deadline is midnight tonight in Denver, where Dish Network has its headquarters.

The dispute does not affect the CBS-owned cable channels.

“CBS owns local broadcast stations in most of the nation’s biggest markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Detroit, Seattle, Miami, Tampa, Minneapolis, Denver, Pittsburgh and Baltimore,” the report notes. CBS also owns eight CW stations.

“It was exactly three years ago today that Dish Network and CBS went through the exact same exercise regarding the CBS local stations and national programming networks,” TVNewsCheck reports. “After a series of short extensions, the CBS broadcast stations left the DBS service for about 12 hours beginning on the night of Dec. 12, 2014, before the two sides announced a new agreement and the CBS locals returned to Dish Network.”

Nov 20, 2017
11:42 am

We Loved Her in CBS’s Long-Running ‘Touched by an Angel’: Actress, Singer Della Reese Dead at 86 (NY Times, TVWeek, YouTube)

“Della Reese, the husky-voiced singer and actress who spent almost a decade playing a down-to-earth heavenly messenger on the CBS series ‘Touched by an Angel’ and became an ordained minister in real life, died on Sunday night at her home in California,” The New York Times reports.

No cause of death was provided. Reese was 86.

“Ms. Reese had been under contract to Jubilee Records for three years when, in 1957, she had her first big hit record, the romantic ballad ‘And That Reminds Me,'” The Times reports. “Named the year’s most promising ‘girl singer’ by Billboard, Variety and Cash Box, she was soon making regular appearances on the leading television variety shows of the day. Her biggest hit was ‘Don’t You Know’ — adapted from ‘Musetta’s Waltz,’ an aria from ‘La Boheme’ — which reached No.2 on the Billboard singles chart in 1959.”

Reese received two Primetime Emmy nominations, in 1997 and 1998, along with a Golden Globe nomination in 1998, for her performance as Tess on “Touched by an Angel.” The role also earned her seven consecutive Image Awards from 1996-2002.

Here’s a clip from “Touched by an Angel” in which Reese appears along with Muhammad Ali …

Nov 20, 2017
9:31 am

‘Saturday Night Live’ Takes On the Al Franken Situation (TVWeek, NBC)

NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” rolled out material on sexual harassment Saturday, including dealing with allegations against one of its own in Al Franken, who was a writer and performer on the show in its early days before he entered politics. Now a senator from Minnesota, Franken is dealing with accusations of sexual misconduct.

Here’s “SNL’s” take …

Nov 20, 2017
8:19 am

Golden Globes Anniversary Celebration Set (TVWeek)

NBC will air a special program next month celebrating the anniversary of the Golden Globes. The network, along with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and dick clark productions, announced plans for the “Golden Globes 75th Anniversary Special,” airing Wednesday, Dec. 13

The two-hour special will be hosted by Eric McCormack and Debra Messing, who have a combined 13 Golden Globe nominations between them.

“The program will showcase the best moments spanning 75 years of the Golden Globes, featuring the biggest film and TV stars, red carpet highlights and fashion throughout the years,” the companies said in today’s announcement. “The special will also feature new and exclusive interviews with Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Christine Lahti, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Jacob Tremblay, Kate Winslet, Brad Goreski and more.”

The special will also feature comedic highlights from past hosts and presenters and a countdown of the best Golden Globe Award-winning movies of all time, as selected by members of the HFPA.

The HFPA and dcp will present the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. The ceremony will air on NBC live coast-to-coast at 8 p.m. ET. Nominations will be announced Monday, Dec. 11.

Nov 20, 2017
7:44 am

Sequel to ‘The L Word’ Names Showrunner (TVWeek)

Showtime announced that the sequel to “The L Word,” currently in development at the pay-cable network, will have Marja-Lewis Ryan as showrunner and executive producer. The project is still untitled.

Series creator Ilene Chaiken will serve as executive producer, along with Jennifer Beals, Katherine Moennig and Leisha Hailey, who all starred in the original series.

“Ilene and the original ‘L Word’ made me believe that my voice mattered,” Ryan said in the announcement. “I am beyond excited for the opportunity to usher in the next generation of diverse queer people. I couldn’t imagine a better time to make this show.”

Ryan wrote and directed the upcoming film “6 Balloons” starring Abbi Jacobson and Dave Franco, and is penning the reboot of “Splash” starring Channing Tatum and Jillian Bell, along with “Buried Bodies” for Noah Hawley and Fox Searchlight.

Showtime announced in July that it was in development on a sequel to “The L Word,” which ran on the network from 2004-2009. Beals, Moennig and Hailey will appear on the series as their original characters to help connect the previous series to the new one.

Nov 20, 2017
5:22 am

‘Transparent’ Star Jeffrey Tambor Says He’s Leaving Show Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations (Deadline, Vanity Fair, TVWeek)

“Facing two accusations of sexual harassment by members of the ‘Transparent’ team that he has strongly denied, Jeffrey Tambor today [Sunday, Nov. 19] has decided not to return to the Amazon series,” writes Dominic Patten at Deadline.com.

The story says that Tambor told Deadline, “I’ve already made clear my deep regret if any action of mine was ever misinterpreted by anyone as being aggressive, but the idea that I would deliberately harass anyone is simply and utterly untrue. Given the politicized atmosphere that seems to have afflicted our set, I don’t see how I can return to ‘Transparent.’”

Writes Joanna Robinson at the Vanity Fair Hollywood website, “Late last week, Tambor’s ‘Transparent’ co-star Trace Lysette added her claim of the actor’s inappropriate language and physical contact to the original accusations from Tambor’s personal assistant, Van Barnes.”

As TVWeek previously reported, Amazon started an investigation into the Van Barnes allegations, “but before the results of that investigation could be made public, Tambor resigned from the ‘Transparent’ role that won him a Golden Globe and two Emmy Awards,” Vanity Fair reports.

The Vanity Fair story adds: “Lysette claims that in Season 2, while filming a bonding scene between their characters, Tambor made lascivious remarks toward her when she emerged from wardrobe. ‘My God, Trace. I want to attack you sexually,’ Lysette recalls him saying. Alexandra Billings, the third [person] in the scene, corroborated Lysette’s account. Lysette also recounted Tambor intimidating her physically: ‘He came in close, put his bare feet on top of mine so I could not move, leaned his body against me, and began quick, discreet thrusts back and forth against my body. I felt his penis on my hip through his thin pajamas.’

“In an earlier, private Facebook post that subsequently went viral, Barnes claimed an unnamed employer told her ‘I should be sleeping with him if I want a Hollywood industry appropriate pay.’ In addition, she said her employer would pat her on the bottom, play pornography at loud volumes, and call her ‘useless.’ Amazon launched its investigation into Tambor after the Barnes post was widely re-posted online.”

To read more about this item we urge you to click here to read the Deadline story, and to click here to read the Vanity Fair article.

Jeffrey Tambor in an interview on the “Today” show in 2015



Nov 20, 2017
5:15 am

Notorious Murderer Charles Manson Dead at 83 (NY Times)

“Charles Manson, one of the most notorious murderers of the 20th century…” has died, reports The New York Times.

Manson was 83 and died of natural causes, the paper said.

The Times story adds, “Mr. Manson was a semiliterate habitual criminal and failed musician before he came to irrevocable attention in the late 1960s as the wild-eyed leader of the Manson family, a murderous band of young drifters in California. Convicted of nine murders in all, Mr. Manson was known in particular for the seven brutal killings collectively called the Tate-LaBianca murders, committed by his followers on two consecutive August nights in 1969.

“The most famous of the victims was Sharon Tate, an actress who was married to the film director Roman Polanski. Eight and a half months pregnant, she was killed with four other people at her Benedict Canyon home.”

In 1974 Vincent Bugliosi, who prosecuted the Manson case, wrote a bestseller, “Helter Skelter,” about the murders. The book was made into a TV miniseries in 1976, starring Steve Railsback in a memorably chilling performance as Manson.

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