Apr 24, 2015
10:47 am

CNN Names New Host for Political Talk Show (Variety)

CNN has named a new host for a politically oriented talk show. Variety reports that Jake Tapper will be the new host of the Sunday program “State of the Union.”

Tapper, who replaces Candy Crowley, reportedly confirmed the news this morning on Twitter. Since Crowley left CNN late in 2014, a rotating lineup of hosts have filled in.

Tapper, who is due to take over the show in June, will keep his other job as anchor of the weekday show “The Lead.”

The report notes that a number of changes are in the works for Sunday morning news shows, including CBS’s Face the Nation,” where John Dickerson will take over for Bob Schieffer this summer.

Variety adds: “Chuck Todd was named last year to anchor NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’ Chris Wallace has anchored ‘Fox News Sunday’ since 2003, while George Stephanopoulos is in his second tenure of moderating ‘This Week’ on ABC, which he first led in 2002.”


Apr 24, 2015
10:39 am

Cablevision Rolls Out New Service Aimed at Cord Cutters (TVWeek)

Cablevision has set its sights on cord cutters with its latest product offering. The company released details Thursday on its new line of Internet-focused Optimum services that the company says “provide greater choice and flexibility for the ‘cord cutter’ and ‘cord never’ generation of connectivity-minded consumers.”

The new offers include access to over-the-air broadcast television through digital antennas at no cost, the company noted.

Said Kristin Dolan, chief operating officer of Cablevision: “As a connectivity company, Cablevision is reimagining its relationship with its customers. Our new ‘cord cutter’ packages take a modern approach to traditional triple-product bundles and provide real alternatives that fit new consumer lifestyles.”

Optimum Online Ultra 50 is offered as a “cord cutter” package at a promotional first-year price of $44.90 a month, while Optimum Online Internet Basics, offered as an “everyday low price” package, carries a standard price of $34.90.

Additional details can be found here.


Apr 24, 2015
10:31 am

Legendary Film Critic Dead at 71 (Time)

One of the most famous film critics in the U.S., who became a fixture of popular culture as an editor and writer for Time magazine, has died. Time reports that Richard Corliss died Thursday night in New York City following a stroke. He was 71.

In a remembrance of Corliss, the magazine reports: “As a movie critic, his tastes were populist but eclectic. He was a fan of Chinese kung-fu movies and Disney animation (he put ‘Finding Nemo’ on his list of the 100 greatest films of all time, along with Jackie Chan’s ‘Drunken Master II’), but also the more demanding works of filmmakers like Ingmar Bergman, Werner Herzog and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. He revered the classical storytelling of Hollywood greats like David Lean, but was also drawn to dazzling, over-the-top stylists like Baz Lurhmann.”

After initially dismissing the 1977 hit “Star Wars,” Corliss “became a champion of the fantasy-adventure films of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas,” the report notes.

Corliss wrote of Spielberg’s 1982 film “E.T.”: “Not since the glory days of the Walt Disney Productions — 40 years ago, when ‘Fantasia’ and ‘Pinocchio’ and ‘Dumbo’ first worked their seductive magic on moviegoers of every age — has a film so acutely evoked the twin senses of everyday wonder and otherworldly awe.”

Apr 24, 2015
10:17 am

Google Apologizes for ‘Inappropriate’ Image in Google Maps (CNN)

A spokeswoman for Google apologized after what she called an “inappropriate” image appeared in Google Maps. The image, which appears to show an Android robot peeing on an Apple logo, was spotted in a map of the outskirts of Rawalpindi, in Pakistan, CNN reports.

The image, which was reportedly found by a former Samsung employee living in Pakistan, has since been removed.

“Google said the image was not created by an employee. The company has a group of vetted contributors who add to the Maps tool in order to keep Google Maps up to date, and one of those contributors drew the image,” CNN reports.

The article quotes Google spokeswoman Caroline Matthews saying: “The vast majority of users who edit our maps provide great contributions, such as mapping places that have never been mapped before. We’re sorry for this inappropriate user-created content; we’re working to remove it quickly.”

Google Maps image-Rawalpindi-PakistanGoogle Maps image, Rawalpindi, Pakistan

Apr 24, 2015
6:44 am

Report: Staffers Opposed Brian Williams’ Return in ‘Contentious Meeting’ at NBC News (Washington Post)

A new report says opposition has been voiced at NBC News to Brian Williams’ return to the anchor chair on “Nightly News.”

The Washington Post reports: “Journalists in NBC News’s powerful Washington bureau expressed strong opposition to the potential return of suspended anchorman Brian Williams during a contentious meeting with the head of the network’s news division in February.”

In the Washington meeting with NBC News President Deborah Turness, staffers reportedly made “a sometimes angry series of comments,” arguing that Williams’ misstatements about his Iraq war coverage have damaged the network’s credibility, The Post reports.

Citing sources who were at the meeting, the article says journalists at the meeting argued that Williams should not be returned to the anchor chair. One source described the atmosphere at the meeting as a “bloodbath” for Williams.

Turness reportedly also met with the New York bureau around the same time to discuss the Williams situation.

Please click on the link near the top of this story to read the Post’s full report.

nbc nightly news with brian williams

Apr 24, 2015
6:17 am

Tragedy: Actor Who Played One of the Young Twins on ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ Commits Suicide at Age 19 (USA Today, THR, Deadline)

“Sawyer Sweeten, who played one of the young twins on ‘Everybody Loves Raymond,’ has committed suicide,” USA Today confirms.

The story reports that his sister, Madylin, said in a statement, “We are devastated to report that our beloved brother, son, and friend, Sawyer Sweeten, took his own life. He was weeks away from his 20th birthday. At this sensitive time, our family requests privacy and we beg of you to reach out to the ones you love.”

Radar Online, which broke the story, said Sweeten died from a gunshot wound to his head.

Says The Hollywood Reporter, “Sweeten starred in ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ from 1996 to 2005, playing Geoffrey Barone. His twin brother, Sullivan, played Michael Barone, while their sister Madylin played Ally Barone. The CBS series starred Ray Romano as their onscreen father.”

Patricia Heaton, who played Sweeten’s mother on the show, tweeted: “Sawyer Sweeten was a funny and exceptionally bright young man. He is gone from us far too soon,” and, “The entire cast of #EverybodyLovesRaymond is in shock. Prayers for the Sweeten family.” notes that the Sweeten twins were 1 year old when they first appeared on “Raymond.” Deadline also said that Phil Rosenthal, the creator of the show, said this about Sawyer Sweeten’s death: “We knew and loved Sawyer as a little boy. He and his real-life siblings Sullivan and Madylin were such a charming, integral part of our TV family. They never failed to make us laugh, or remind us of how we feel about our own children. We are terribly sad to hear this news and our hearts go out to Sawyer’s family.”

twins-on-raymondSawyer Sweeten (on the left) on an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond”




Apr 24, 2015
6:11 am

NBC Announces Star-Studded Lineup for Final Three Shows of ‘SNL’s’ 40th Anniversary Season (TVWeek)

NBC wants the 40th anniversary season of “Saturday Night Live” to go out with a bang, and the network rolled out a lineup of high-octane guest stars for the season’s final three shows.

On May 2, Actress Scarlett Johansson will host, with Wiz Khalifa as the musical guest. The following week, Reese Witherspoon takes over as host while musical duties will be handled by Florence + the Machine.

The season finale May 16 will feature Louis C.K. as host with Rihanna as the musical guest.

Please click here for additional details.


Apr 24, 2015
6:09 am

Battle of the Bundle: Disney Bans Verizon Ads (NY Post)

“Verizon has been banished from the Magic Kingdom,” reports Claire Atkinson, writing in the New York Post.

The report says Disney, which owns the most expensive cable channel in the pay-TV bundle in ESPN, has fired the latest salvo in the Battle of the Bundle, with its TV networks and radio stations refusing to run ads for the new Verizon FiOS Custom TV service.

The service, which features a “skinny bundle” of core channels starting at $55 a month, is being called a bundle buster.

A Verizon spokesman is quoted in the piece with this response to the Disney position: “This happens to be anti-competitive. The consumers are happy with the product, and we believe we’re allowed to launch it.”

NBCUniversal and Fox, along with ESPN, have argued that the Verizon plan is in violation of their agreements.

ESPN did not return a request for a comment for the story.

verizon fios-logo

Apr 24, 2015
6:07 am

Comcast Confirms It’s Walking Away From Time Warner Cable (NY Times)

Comcast has confirmed the news that it is abandoning plans to acquire Time Warner Cable, The New York Times reports.

In a development that became apparent late Thursday, as we reported previously, the media giant gave up on the $45 billion deal after encountering a rising tide of regulatory resistance.

In a statement released today, Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts is quoted in the report saying: “Today, we move on. Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn’t agree, we could walk away.”

The Times report notes: “Combined, the companies would have controlled as much as 57 percent of the nation’s broadband market and just under 30 percent of pay television service. That threshold appeared to be too much for federal regulators, who had signaled that they were leaning toward blocking the deal.”

As far as what happens next on the cable TV landscape, a report by Forbes explores the possibility of a combination involving Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications and Bright House. Please click here for details.

comcast-time warner cable-logos

Apr 24, 2015
6:01 am

This Summer’s Special Sold-Out Grateful Dead Concerts From Chicago Land Live TV Deal (TVWeek)

By Mike Reynolds — Special to TVWeek

The five Grateful Dead reunion shows are long sold-out, but for those not lucky or rich enough to own ducats there are options to see four of the band’s original members and guests without draining the bank account.

Live Alliance is broadcasting the “Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead” goodbyes from Chicago’s Soldier Field on July 3-5. MultiVision Media is distributing the live shows, which will be available to satellite and cable operators.

According to MultiVision executive producer Brian Ricco, the three shows from Chicago will run five hours apiece from 8 p.m.- 1 a.m. (ET), with an intermission, and a pyrotechnical conclusion. Pricing is $29.99 per night. Ricco said MultiVision is all making the three-show package available to distributors for $69.

Fathom Events will also host the trio of Chicago shows in select theaters over Independence Day weekend.

For those who want to savor all five of the last performances of Dead survivors Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, along with Phish’s Trey Anastasio (guitar), Bruce Hornsby (piano) and Jeff Chimenti (keyboards), the two shows from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. on June 27 and 28, will also be available via streaming.  The web streaming package for all five nights will be available for $79.95 during a May 1-15 presale period.

The PPV shows will be helmed by CNBC reporter Steve Liesman, flanked by noted Deadhead, the old redhead, basketball great Bill Walton. During the intermission, the PPV telecasts will sport live fan interviews, taped segments with special guests and a short Dead documentary from Justin Kreutzmann, the drummer’s son.

The events also will be available through video-on-demand for 45 days.

These options will expand the audience for the shows, promoted by Mark Shapiro, beyond the 210,000 ticket-holders at Soldier Field and the 130,000 at Levi’s Stadium. The concert quintet sold out immediately and have left those on the outside without a way in beyond high-priced secondary market entry.

The band members vow that the Chicago shows will mark the end of their long strange trip, and come 20 years after Jerry Garcia last performed with his Deadmates in the Windy City in July 1995. A month later, Garcia died of a heart attack.


Ricco said the Fare Thee Well shows will start at 8 p.m. and run through 9:30 p.m. After taking a 45-minute break, the band will return for a two-hour second set, finishing at 12:15 a.m. or thereabouts. An encore will follow.

Shapiro owns Brooklyn Bowl, as well as the revamped Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, N.Y., a favorite haunt of the Dead during their early days. Since opening the refurbished venue in September 2012, Shapiro has attracted Dead members in various iterations, including Lesh and Weir’s now disbanded Further, on multiple occasions.

Lesh held a New Year’s Eve concert there last year, which involved Live Alliance, MultiVision and In Demand conducting a PPV event.

Live Alliance and MultiVision also released Lauryn Hill’s July 2014 concert from Brooklyn Bowl.

The author of this piece, Mike Reynolds, is a veteran media and sports reporter and was most recently the news editor at Multichannel News. You can reach him at or 914-320-6532. We appreciate Mike making this original piece available to TVWeek.

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