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TVBIZWIRE
May 6, 2016
11:29 am
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Arsenio Hall Sues Sinead O’Connor for $5 Million Over Prince Drug Rant (CNN, E! News, TVWeek)

Comedian and talk show host Arsenio Hall has filed a $5 million lawsuit against Sinead O’Connor over comments the Irish singer made on Facebook.

O’Connor, who scored her biggest hit in 1990 with a cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” took to Facebook after Prince’s death on April 21 and posted a rant implicating Hall in Prince’s drug use. CNN quotes her post saying: “Two words for the DEA investigating where prince got his drugs over the decades … Arsenio Hall. Anyone imagining prince was not a long time hard drug user is living in cloud cuckoo land.”

O’Connor also reportedly wrote in the Facebook post: “Arsenio I’ve reported you to the Carver County Sheriff’s office. Expect their call. They are aware you spiked me years ago at Eddie Murphy’s house. You best get tidying your man cave.”

The Facebook post has since been deleted.

E! News reports that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Drug Enforcement Administration are joining the investigation into Prince’s death. An attorney for Hall, meanwhile, filed a libel lawsuit Thursday against O’Connor in Los Angeles.

Media reports quote the court filing stating: “Desperate, attention seeker Sinead O’Connor has maliciously published outlandish defamatory lies about comedian Arsenio Hall, falsely accusing him of supplying illegal ‘hard drugs’ ‘over the decades’ to the recently deceased music artist, Prince, and of spiking her with drugs once years ago.”

The suit also states: “The malicious statements made by O’Connor are absolutely false and O’Connor’s heinous accusations that Hall engaged in this criminal conduct are despicable, fabricated lies.”

CNN adds: “The lawsuit says Hall has also had only ‘minimal’ contact with the singer, and ‘last had contact with her approximately 25 years ago.'”

TVBIZWIRE
May 6, 2016
10:57 am
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California Doctor in the Crosshairs in Probe Into Prince’s Death (AP, TMZ)

A nationally known California doctor has come under scrutiny in connection with the investigation into the April 21 death of Prince.

The AP reports that Dr. Howard Kornfeld, who runs an addiction treatment center in Northern California, is a focus of the probe after he reportedly sent his son to Prince’s home in Minnesota on a redeye flight April 20 with buprenorphine, a drug used to treat people who are addicted to opiates such as prescription painkillers.

Kornfeld “may have been trying to help, but he was not licensed to practice medicine in Minnesota and was not registered to care for patients there via telemedicine, as the state requires,” the AP reports. “His son, Andrew Kornfeld, who has been described as a pre-med student, was not a licensed prescriber.”

“Attorneys and physicians have described the action as unusual and even absurd,” the report notes, adding: “Dozens of doctors are authorized to prescribe buprenorphine in Minnesota, so it’s unclear why Kornfeld felt he needed to send his son with the drug, which is used to ease withdrawal and cravings.”

TMZ.com has reported: “Prince’s people called Dr. Howard Kornfeld the day before the singer died, saying they believed Prince was on the verge of dying from drugs. Prince was apparently on board to get help, but the doctor said it would be 2 days before he could get there.

“Dr. Kornfeld sent his son, Andrew, who worked at their facility — Recovery Without Walls. Andrew flew out early and was at Prince’s home the day he died.”

Andrew Kornfeld reportedly placed the call to 911 alerting authorities that Prince had been found unresponsive at his Paisley Park estate in suburban Minneapolis.

TVBIZWIRE
May 6, 2016
10:31 am
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Ellen DeGeneres Launches Digital Network (Variety)

Daytime icon Ellen DeGeneres has been building an impressive digital empire, and has now launched the Ellen Digital Network. Variety reports that the umbrella brand encompasses an original programming slate along with user-generated content.

As part of her plan to grow her digital operation, DeGeneres signed Tyler Oakley, a social media star, to a content-development deal.

“DeGeneres and Oakley are set to collaborate on a range of original digital projects with an aim toward developing projects for TV as well,” Variety notes. “Oakley’s digital footprint includes more than 8 million YouTube subscribers, 6.2 million Instagram followers and 5.2 million on Twitter.”

The Ellen Digital Network launches with a programming slate that includes the original series “Damn, Daniel” for Snapchat, along with the animated “Ellen’s Pet Dish,” based on Ellen’s pets. The lineup also includes a series starring 4-year-old whiz kid and viral sensation Brielle.

TVBIZWIRE
May 6, 2016
9:59 am
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Oscar Winner Shirley MacLaine and Tony Winner Matthew Broderick to Star in New TV Series (THR, TVWeek)

A new TV series will pair two acting heavyweights in Oscar-winning actress Shirley MacLaine and Tony-winning actor Matthew Broderick.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that MacLaine and Broderick will star in “Bettyville,” from Paramount TV.

“An adaptation of journalist George Hodgman’s best-selling memoir, the project follows George (Broderick) after he leaves Manhattan for his hometown of Paris, Missouri, to care for his aging mother Betty (MacLaine). Only expecting to be gone for a few weeks, life seems to conspire to keep him there, armed with not much more than a willing heart, a messy past to sort out and two very different personalities to deal with: his own, and Betty’s,” THR reports.

Hodgman’s memoir will be adapted for TV by John Hoffman (“Grace and Frankie”), who will also be showrunner on the series and will executive produce with Archer Gray’s Anne Carey and Amy Nauiokas, along with Hodgman. Paramount has not yet lined up a TV outlet for the project.

MacLaine won an Oscar in 1984 for “Terms of Endearment” and is a seven-time Golden Globe winner. Broderick has two Tonys, for “Brighton Beach Memoirs” in 1983 and “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” in 1995.

george hodgman-bettyville-book cover

TVBIZWIRE
May 6, 2016
9:07 am
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Is YouTube Now Bigger Than Television? The Numbers Tell the Story (LA Times)

The CEO of YouTube revealed an impressive milestone for the online video site, proclaiming at Thursday’s presentation to advertisers in New York: “I’m happy to announce that on mobile alone YouTube now reaches more 18- to 49-year-olds than any network — broadcast or cable. In fact, we reach more 18- to 49-year-olds [in the U.S.] during prime time than the top 10 TV shows combined.”

The Los Angeles Times reports that the announcement by Susan Wojcicki is based on a Google-commissioned Nielsen study of 2015 viewing data. While YouTube has been gaining momentum in the 18-49 demo, TV has been experiencing erosion — especially among viewers under 35, the Times notes.

Those viewers are increasingly shifting their focus to online video.

“Wojcicki’s pitch was buoyed by the recent news that Interpublic Group’s media buying arm Magna Global is moving $250 million out from its fall TV ad budgets into YouTube,” the Times adds. “The dollars will go into ads that run on Google Preferred, the package of YouTube videos by established content creators.”

youtube-logo

TVBIZWIRE
May 6, 2016
8:47 am
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Pepsi Rolls Out Unusual Ad Campaign Built on 5-Second Spots — Is This the Future of Entertainment? (USA Today, Pepsi)

Pepsi is pioneering an approach to advertising that the company says is built for the future of entertainment, which Pepsi says is short-form.

USA Today reports that the new Pepsi campaign will feature more than 100 ads, each running just 5 seconds long. The spots, which will promote new emoji-adorned Pepsi bottles, will appear all summer on the Internet and on TV.

Chad Stubbs, Pepsi VP of marketing, touts the new spots as less annoying than the more traditional 15-second or 30-second preroll ads that run before online videos. “We already know consumers can take short-form entertainment,” says Stubbs. “That’s where the entertainment journey is headed.”

USA Today adds: “Pepsi’s creative team came up with more than 200 original emojis that will be featured in the ads and on 20-ounce bottles of Pepsi, Diet Pepsi and Pepsi Max. The company will customize its strategy based on platform and context.”

While other companies, including Geico, have previously explored getting a message out in five seconds, the report notes that the Pepsi campaign represents a large-scale commitment to short-form ads that will pose challenges for linear TV.

“Turner Broadcasting will have to update its system manually when it starts running bundles of Pepsi’s ads next month on TNT, TBS, Adult Swim and Tru TV,” the report notes, adding: “The broadcast company was willing to work with Pepsi because of the campaign’s potential to create more powerful storytelling.”

Here’s a new 40-second clip posted by Pepsi that strings together a series of short-form messages …

TVBIZWIRE
May 6, 2016
8:11 am
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Disney Finds Its Han Solo for New ‘Star Wars’ Movie — So Who Is This Guy? He Began His Career on TV After Being Discovered at a Bat Mitzvah Reception by Steven Spielberg (Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Deadline, TVWeek)

Disney has settled on who will be the new face of Han Solo, the character made famous by Harrison Ford starting in 1977 with the original “Star Wars” movie. Newsweek reports that Alden Ehrenreich will play a younger version of Solo in a standalone “Star Wars” prequel that will be directed by Christopher Miller and Phil Lord.

“The actor’s hiring follows one of the most extensive casting calls in Hollywood, with 2,500 people reportedly seen for the part,” the story reports. “An early shortlist included Taron Egerton, the star of ‘Kingsman’ and ‘Eddie the Eagle,’ and Irish actor Jack Reynor, best known for 2014’s ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction.'”

Ehrenreich, who has appeared in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Tetro” (2009) and “Twixt” (2011) and in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” (2013), first surfaced in a guest role on the TV series “Supernatural” in 2005 — a role he reportedly landed thanks to an encounter with Steven Spielberg.

“Ehrenreich had starred in a short film for his friend’s coming-of-age party and Spielberg just happened to be among the guests,” Newsweek notes.

Rolling Stone quotes Ehrenreich saying of the incident: “It’s a video that this girl asked us to do. I mean, there wasn’t a script: We would go and just film whatever made us laugh. I’m this 14-year-old, skinny little kid with long hair. I break into her house, try on her clothes and make up a song. All of this is just us literally taking a camera and going, like, ‘Okay, ha ha, do this.’”

Ehrenreich has most recently appeared in the Coen brothers’ “Hail, Caesar!”

Plot details about the “Star Wars” prequel are being kept under wraps, but Solo will reportedly be joined by Chewbacca in the movie, which is due out in December 2018.

Deadline.com reports that the film is expected to be titled “Han Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

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TVBIZWIRE
May 6, 2016
7:44 am
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Why a Trump-Supporting Tow-Truck Driver Refused to Tow a Bernie Sanders Supporter’s Car (Washington Post, Fox Carolina, WLOS)

A woman who was stranded on an interstate after being involved in a collision encountered a tow-truck driver who apparently refused to tow her car for political reasons. The Washington Post reports that Ken Shupe, the tow-truck driver, is a Donald Trump supporter who objected to a Bernie Sanders yard sign and bumper sticker displayed on Cassandra McWade’s car.

Following the incident Monday in North Carolina, both Shupe and McWade have been talking to the media.

“Every business dealing in recent history that I’ve had with a socialist-minded person, I haven’t got paid,” Shupe told Fox Carolina. He added: “Every time I’ve dealt with these people in recent history, I get ‘Berned.’

“With an ‘e,’ not a ‘u.’”

McWade told The Post: “He said ‘I can’t tow you, you’re a Bernie supporter.’ And I was like, ‘Wait, are you serious?’”

Apparently, he was. Fox Carolina reported: “When he saw ‘a bunch of Bernie Sanders stuff’ he said he told the woman, ‘very politely,’” that he could not “tow her car because she was ‘obviously a socialist’ and advised her to ‘call the government’ for a tow.”

Shupe then drove off. McWade said she was “totally in shock” as he pulled away.

Shupe also talked about the incident with ABC affiliate WLOS-TV in Asheville, N.C., telling the station: “Something came over me; I think the Lord came to me, and he just said get in the truck and leave. And when I got in my truck, you know, I was so proud, because I felt like I finally drew a line in the sand and stood up for what I believed.”

TVBIZWIRE
May 6, 2016
7:09 am
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Will ABC’s ‘Castle’ Return for Season Nine? Here’s Where Things Stand (Deadline)

The moment of truth has arrived for ABC to make a renewal decision about its procedural “Castle,” according to a report by Deadline.com’s Nellie Andreeva. Andreeva reported Thursday night that the network planned to make a decision by the end of the day today, May 6.

Hanging in the balance was whether the season eight finale, which will air May 16, would be branded as a season finale or a series finale, and which of two possible final scenes would air. We do know that female lead Stana Katic will not be back after the May 16 episode, and that Nathan Fillion is locked in for season nine if it happens.

“I hear that star Nathan Fillion has closed a new deal for Season 9,” Andreeva reports. “In part to secure that, ABC and ABC Studios opted not to bring back Katic. The move also was driven by budgetary reasons that saw another original cast member, Tamala Jones, exit too. (Co-stars Seamus Dever and Jon Huertas are said to be coming back.)”

The signs appear to be pointing toward a renewal, as ABC has gone to a lot of trouble to line things up for a possible ninth season.

castle abc

TVBIZWIRE
May 5, 2016
3:21 pm
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Has Katie Couric Had Enough of Yahoo? (NY Post)

Katie Couric, who has been global news anchor for Yahoo since 2014, appears to be ready to make a move. According to inside sources quoted by The New York Post’s Page Six, the TV news veteran is weighing her options.

The news comes as Yahoo is looking for a buyer. The report cites sources close to Couric saying she will wait to find out who buys the tech firm before deciding her next move.

“Multiple insiders tell Page Six that Couric — along with other talent including Yahoo Style’s Editor-in-Chief Joe Zee and tech writer David Pogue — have had long-standing frustrations because they believe the site makes it difficult for users to find their content,” the story reports. “They also suspect the Silicon Valley firm has skimped on spending on ads that could drive traffic to their content.”

The report notes that Kouric has been missing recently from some high-profile events. “While she sat at Yahoo’s table at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2015, Couric skipped the event this year to attend a conference in Rome,” the story reports. “A source said she taped segments for her day job while there.”

katie couric-yahoo news

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