Jan 18, 2018
2:23 pm

AMC Is Sued Over ‘Walking Dead’ — Again (Variety)

The megahit AMC series “The Walking Dead” continues to be the focal point of a heated legal battle between the cable channel and the show’s developer, Frank Darabont. Variety reports that Darabont “doubled down Thursday on his claim that AMC cheated him out of millions of dollars in ‘Walking Dead’ profits, filing a new lawsuit alleging that he is owed additional tens of millions of dollars.”

The war between Darabont and AMC has been going on for more than four years, with Darabont and his agency, CAA, accusing the channel of depriving them of $280 million by “failing to engage in arm’s length transactions for distribution of the show,” Variety reports.

“In the new lawsuit, filed Thursday in New York Supreme Court, Darabont alleges that new information shows that he is entitled to tens of millions in additional compensation,” Variety adds. “Darabont’s attorneys contend that he is entitled to ‘most favored nation’ treatment with respect to how his profit participation is calculated. But until recently, his lawyers were unaware that another producer on the show, Robert Kirkman, had a profit calculation based on AMC’s ‘actual’ distribution fee, rather than an ‘imputed’ fee used in Darabont’s case. Since Kirkman received a more generous agreement, Darabont alleges his contract is entitled to the same treatment.”

Jan 18, 2018
2:09 pm

Screen Icon Is Latest French Woman to Lash Out at #MeToo Movement (AP, TVWeek)

Another French actress has spoken out against the climate of sexual misconduct allegations that has prevailed in the entertainment industry since the takedown of Harvey Weinstein.

The AP reports that Brigitte Bardot said in an interview with the Paris-Match weekly, published today, that most of the actresses who have been speaking out about sexual harassment are “hypocritical” and “ridiculous.”

The comments by Bardot, 83, follow a backlash against French actress Catherine Deneuve, who signed on to an open letter expressing similar sentiments, as we reported previously. Deneuve later clarified her position.

The AP reports that Bardot suggested many actresses are in part responsible for the situation because they “tease” producers in an attempt to land film parts.

“The star of ‘And God Created Woman’ says many actresses have come out with sexual misconduct allegations ‘so that we talk about them,'” the AP adds.

Bardot also said in the interview that she has never been a victim of sexual harassment, adding that she thought “it was nice to be told that I was beautiful or that I had a nice little ass.”

Jan 18, 2018
1:24 pm

Bill Cosby Prosecutors Seek to Call 19 Additional Accusers to Establish Crime ‘Signature’ (AP)

Prosecutors in TV legend Bill Cosby’s upcoming retrial on sexual assault charges told a judge today that they want to call 19 other Cosby accusers in an effort to show a pattern of “prior bad acts” over five decades, the AP reports.

Cosby’s first trial ended in a mistrial in June after the jury was unable to come to a decision.

“In that proceeding, prosecutors asked to call 13 other accusers, but the judge allowed only one to testify, a woman who said she was attacked by Cosby at a Los Angeles hotel in 1996,” the AP reports. “In Thursday’s filing, prosecutors asked the court to reconsider its earlier order, saying the 19 women’s accusations show that Cosby’s prior bad acts are sufficiently ‘distinctive and so nearly identical as to become the signature of the same perpetrator.’”

The report notes: “Pennsylvania law allows testimony about ‘prior bad acts’ if they fit a nearly identical crime pattern.”

Jan 18, 2018
1:11 pm

Grammys to Pay Tribute to Victims of Tragedies at Live Music Events (TVWeek)

Organizers of the upcoming Grammys ceremony have lined up some top performers for a tribute to victims of tragedies at live music events.

Brothers Osborne, Eric Church and Maren Morris will take part in the tribute. Hosted by James Corden, the ceremony is set to air Sunday, Jan. 28, on CBS.

“In addition to honoring musical excellence at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards, CBS and the Recording Academy will also take a moment to honor the victims lost to gun violence and terrorism at various live music events over the course of the past year,” CBS said in a press release. “In a special Grammy tribute performed by three of the artists who participated in the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, current Grammy nominees Brothers Osborne, past Grammy nominee Eric Church and Grammy winner and current nominee Maren Morris will come together for the touching segment.”

Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the Recording Academy, added: “Live music events have always provided a safe space for fans to gather in a shared celebration of music. Sadly, that wasn’t always the case this past year. We believe it’s incredibly important to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in these senseless tragedies, and to remind musicians and music lovers alike that live music will continue to be a powerful force that unites us all.”

Previously announced performers include Alessia Cara, Cardi B, Miley Cyrus, Childish Gambino, Daddy Yankee, Luis Fonsi, Elton John, Kesha, Khalid, Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar, Little Big Town, Logic, Patti LuPone, Bruno Mars, P!nk, Ben Platt, Sam Smith, SZA and U2.

The ceremony will air live from Madison Square Garden in New York (7:30-11:00 PM, live ET/4:30-8:00 PM, live PT) on CBS.

Jan 18, 2018
12:56 pm

CBS Unveils Lineup of NFL Players Who Will Be Involved in ‘MVP’ Special — and What Each Player’s Special Talent Will Be (TVWeek)

CBS today took the wraps off the lineup of NFL players who will be attempting to showcase hidden talents on “MVP: Most Valuable Performer.” The one-hour special airs Thursday, Jan. 25.

After a nationwide vote, Brandon Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Justin Tucker, Alex Collins, Cody and Jacob Hollister (performing together) and Kevin Zeitler have been selected as the finalists who will compete in the talent show to find the current NFL player with the best off-the-field talent.

If any player is unable to perform due to football obligations, Domata Peko and Robert Nkemdiche have been named as alternates.

A few examples of the players’ talents: Tucker, placekicker for the Baltimore Ravens, will sing opera; Zeitler, a guard for the Cleveland Browns, will do dog tricks; and Collins, a running back for the Ravens, will perform Irish dancing.

Please click here to see the rest of the players’ talents along with additional details in today’s announcement.

Jan 18, 2018
11:16 am

Amazon Cancels Three TV Series (Variety)

Amazon pulled the plug on three of its original series as the streamer moves aggressively to distance itself from the original-programming strategy favored by ousted Amazon Studios President Roy Price, Variety reports.

The company canceled “I Love Dick,” “One Mississippi” and “Jean-Claude Van Johnson,” the story reports, noting Amazon continues to move “toward a new approach mandated by company founder Jeff Bezos, who has called for bigger, broader series with the potential to perform well internationally.”

“Produced by FX Productions, ‘One Mississippi’ starred co-creator Tig Notaro and was the most lauded of the three canceled shows,” Variety reports. “Its second season premiered in September. ‘I Love Dick,’ from Jill Soloway, debuted in May, but did not receive the critical or national-media attention that Soloway’s groundbreaking Amazon original ‘Transparent’ earned. ‘Jean-Claude Van Johnson,’ a comedy starring the action-movie actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, premiered last month.”

The report notes that all of the shows were developed under Price, who got the boot last year following a sexual harassment investigation.

Jan 18, 2018
10:47 am

Three Takes on Sexual Misconduct, the #MeToo Backlash and Aziz Ansari
(TBS, ABC, Fox News, TVWeek)

Actor and comedian Aziz Ansari remains at the center of the debate over sexual impropriety, with much of the conversation this week on sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement including taking sides on what happened on Ansari’s date with a woman identified as “Grace.”

You can click here to read our story from earlier this week about the Aziz Ansari debate, including a link to the original Babe.net story that prompted the discussion.

Three recent takes on the situation can be found below. First, here’s what the host of the TBS late-night show “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” had to say earlier this week, which comes with a warning about strong language …

Here’s a discussion of the issue on ABC’s “The View” …

And an example of how Fox News is handling the Ansari story …

Jan 18, 2018
12:01 am

Tension Builds at CBS and Viacom as Shari Redstone Stokes Merger Talks Again
(Variety, YouTube)

“Chatter about Shari Redstone revving up an effort to recombine Viacom and CBS Corp. is sowing tension within both companies,” reports Variety’s managing editor for TV, Cynthia Littleton.

Littleton, one of the smartest observers of the TV biz, adds, “CBS insiders were aghast at a report in the Wall Street Journal Wednesday citing Redstone’s concern about a lack of long-term strategic planning at the Eye and the level of independence among its board members.”

TVWeek reported on Jan 12 an item from Bloomberg saying Redstone wanted to remerge CBS and Viacom.

The Variety story continues, “Meanwhile,  executives are once again nervous about the potential for consolidation with CBS to bring wholesale changes to the management of the company, particularly the cable networks division. The sentiment among insiders is that things have only just started to settle down after a year of turmoil in 2016, before Bob Bakish was named permanent CEO in December of that year. ‘Here we go again,’ said an executive at Viacom’s cable division.”

To read more details about this item please click here, which will take you to Littleton’s story.

Shari Redstone
(at a 2017 recode conference, found on YouTube)

Jan 17, 2018
5:41 pm

Rupert Murdoch Recovering After Injury, Hospitalization (Vanity Fair)

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is recovering after suffering what has been described as a serious back injury in a yachting accident.

Vanity Fair cites three sources saying Murdoch suffered the injury earlier this month while vacationing in the Caribbean on his son Lachlan’s yacht.

“The 86-year-old media mogul was helicoptered off the boat and was, until recently, recovering in a Los Angeles hospital, one of the sources said. The incident is said to have happened shortly after the New Year’s holiday,” the story reports.

Murdoch informed his senior management team about the accident in an email late last week, writing: “I hope you all are having a great start to 2018. I suspect it has been better than mine. I am writing to tell you that last week I had a sailing accident and suffered a painful back injury. While I am well on the road to recovery, I have to work from home for some weeks. In the meantime, you’ll be hearing from me by email, phone and text!”

Vanity Fair adds: “Murdoch’s hospitalization comes at a delicate moment for his media empire 21st Century Fox, as the company plans to sell its film and television assets to Disney in a $52.4 billion deal. (Murdoch is not selling Fox News.)”

Jan 17, 2018
5:06 pm

Police Investigating New Allegation Against Kevin Spacey (Variety)

Authorities confirmed today that they have launched an investigation into a new allegation of sexual assault by Kevin Spacey. Variety reports that Scotland Yard revealed a third inquiry into the actor by police in London.

“The new investigation centers on an alleged assault on a man in 2005 in the Central London borough of Westminster,” Variety reports. “It follows two other investigations into alleged sexual assaults by Spacey on men in the South London borough of Lambeth, in 2005 and 2008.”

The report quotes a statement from Scotland Yard saying: “On 13 December we received an allegation that the man sexually assaulted a man (Victim 3) in 2005 in Westminster. Officers from the Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Command are investigating.”

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