May 4, 2015
9:01 am

‘Star Trek’ Actress Dies (NBC News)

An actress known for her role on the original “Star Trek” TV series has died. NBC News reports that Grace Lee Whitney, who played Yeoman Rand on “Star Trek,” died over the weekend in Coursegold, Calif., at 85.

Her cause of death was not reported.

“Whitney, a recovering alcoholic, spent the last 35 years of her life helping others with addiction problems, often at women’s correctional facilities or the Salvation Army, her family said. They said she was credited with having helped thousands of people successfully complete 12-step addiction programs,” the story reports.

Whitney was reportedly a regular at “Star Trek” conventions worldwide, and published an autobiography titled “The Longest Trek — My Tour of the Galaxy.”

longest trek-grace lee whitneyGrace Lee Whitney on the cover of her autobiography
with “Star Trek” stars Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner

May 4, 2015
8:44 am

New Doc, Premiering Tonight on HBO, Fills in the Gaps About a Fallen Rock Icon (TVWeek)

Eight years in the making, a new feature documentary that premieres tonight on HBO takes an unusual approach to filling in the missing pieces of the story about a fallen rock icon.

“Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck,” from filmmaker Brett Morgen, uses animation and Cobain’s own journals, early recordings, artwork and other unseen projects, along with family home movies and interviews with Cobain’s family, to tell the untold story in the most intimate terms.

TVWeek Open Mic writer Hillary Atkin takes you inside the documentary, and presents Morgen’s observations on the project and on Cobain, in her in-depth report, which you can read by clicking here.

kurt cobain-montage of heck-hbo

May 4, 2015
8:31 am

Cable Companies Get a Black Eye in Mayweather-Pacquiao Fight (AP)

“For some boxing fans, the big fight Saturday night turned out to be between them and their cable companies,” the AP reports.

“It’s another sting to the reputation of an industry that’s already beset with criticism over poor service and competition from streaming video providers,” the report notes.

Some fans “circumvented cable companies entirely, watching the fight [on] live video-streaming apps such as Meerkat and Twitter’s Periscope, which let users broadcast video directly to the Internet from their smartphones,” the AP reports.

An estimated 3 million TV households bought the pay-per-view fight, carried by HBO and Showtime and sold for about $100.

The report adds: “Scores of angry tweets directed at various providers complained of problems with both ordering and watching. Some users said when they tried to order, the fight wasn’t available. Others complained of picture problems or an inability to tune to the pay-per-view channel.”


May 4, 2015
8:17 am

NBC Broadcast TV Revenues Fall (TVNewsCheck)

Comcast Corp. reported first-quarter results today, with its NBC Broadcast Television segment posting a decline in revenue, TVNewsCheck reports. Revenue for the segment was down 14.2% from the same period a year ago, slipping to $2.2 billion from $2.6 billion, the story reports.

But the report notes that the figures are skewed by two big events — the Super Bowl in 2015 and the Winter Olympics in the year-ago period.

“Excluding $376 million of revenue generated by the NFL’s Super Bowl in the first quarter of 2015, as well as $846 million of revenue generated by the Sochi Olympics in the first quarter of 2014, revenue increased 5.5%, driven by a 5.5% increase in advertising revenue, as well as higher retransmission consent fees,” TVNewsCheck reports.

The picture for Comcast’s cable nets was also impacted by the Sochi Games, the report notes.

“For the first quarter of 2015, revenue from the Cable Networks segment decreased 5.9% to $2.4 billion compared to $2.5 billion in the first quarter of 2014,” the article reports, adding: “Excluding $257 million of revenue generated by the Sochi Olympics in the first quarter of 2014, cable revenue increased 4.9%, reflecting a 4.8% increase in distribution revenue and a 4.3% increase in advertising revenue.”


May 4, 2015
7:57 am

IFC Orders Revenge Comedy (Deadline)

IFC has placed an order for a revenge comedy project from the writing team of Erin Simon and Kim Karp. reports that the pair sold a half-hour single-camera project on spec to the cable channel for “101 Ways To Kill Your Ex.”

“In it, jilted by their respective partners, a woman and a man team up to exact down and dirty revenge on the lovers who did them wrong,” the report notes.

Simon was previously at Ben Stiller’s Red Hour Productions and Regency TV. Karp was at DreamWorks TV.

ifc-logo-always on slightly off

May 4, 2015
7:44 am

Two Shows Drive Up Profits for AMC (WSJ)

AMC is proving that original programming pays off, with the first-quarter earnings report for AMC Networks Inc. showing a 69% surge in profits, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Chairman and Chief Executive Josh Sapan cited original programming including the enduring success of “The Walking Dead” along with the arrival of AMC’s newest hit, the “Breaking Bad” prequel “Better Call Saul.”

WSJ notes that an investment in BBC America is also working out, and the company’s international business is strong.

“Shares rose 6.5% to $81.25 in recent premarket trading as the results beat expectations,” WSJ reported this morning.

“In the latest quarter, AMC Networks’ national networks division — which includes AMC and WE tv, among others — posted a 25% growth in revenue to $562.8 million as advertising revenue rose 25% to $260 million,” the article reports. “The division’s adjusted operating cash flow — a measure of profitability — increased 42% to $253.3 million.”

better call saul-title-banner

May 4, 2015
7:31 am

Why NBC Passed on a Show That’s Now a Hit for Someone Else (AP)

NBC had the inside track on a show that has now become one of the hits of the current TV season. TV writer David Bauder reports for the AP that Jimmy Fallon brought the network the idea of spinning off the lip sync competition from “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” into its own series, and NBC turned it down.

The idea became “Lip Sync Battle,” an instant hit for Spike TV — and a show that has found the sweet spot among online streamers, with one example being more than 10 million views for a recently posted video clip of Anne Hathaway lip syncing Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball.”

Spike is owned by Viacom, a corporate rival of NBC owner Comcast. NBC declined to comment for the story, but Bauder offers this explanation: “NBC airs two cycles of ‘The Voice’ each year and the summertime hit ‘America’s Got Talent,’ so it could be at its limit of talent competitions. And when the show was first pitched to NBC, it reportedly featured civilian competitors — not celebrities — making for an entirely different experience.”

The show has been a game changer for Spike, Bauder notes, including helping the network expand beyond its traditionally young male audience. “Lip Sync Battle” has attracted an audience that is 58% female.

The report quotes “Battle” exec producer Casey Patterson saying: “People are responding to music that they love and to celebrities performing in a different way. It’s like ‘Saturday Night Live.’ It’s always a treat to see celebrities moving out of their comfort zone.”

Here’s Anne Hathaway vs. Emily Blunt from “Lip Sync Battle”:

May 4, 2015
5:31 am

Jamie Foxx Goes ‘Off Script’ During Mayweather-Pacquiao National Anthem (Some Are Simply Saying He Butchered It); Decide for Yourself — Here’s the Clip (TVWeek)

Much of the buzz after Saturday’s Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao “Fight of the Century” has focused not on the fight but on Jamie Foxx’s delivery of the National Anthem — with many on social media saying Foxx butchered the song.

Others have said, more kindly, that Foxx just went a little off script.

Decide for yourself — here’s the clip:

May 1, 2015
5:24 pm

NBC Orders Three Series (NY Magazine, EW, B&C, HitFix)

NBC has “green-lit three drama series, including Dick Wolf’s ‘Chicago Med’ and a conspiracy thriller [‘Blindspot’] from producer Greg Berlanti,” writes our good friend Joe Adalian at New York Magazine’s The Vulture blog.

The story adds, “The pickups come a full ten days before Peacock executives are set to unveil their new schedule to advertisers and the media as part of the annual TV upfronts process.”

Says James Hibberd in EW, the third show green-lit by NBC is “’Heartbreaker’ (formerly ‘Heart Matters’): Based on the real life and achievements of Dr. Kathy Magliato, this unique character-driven medical drama follows Dr. Alex Panttiere (Melissa George, ‘The Slap’), an outspoken world-renowned heart-transplant surgeon and one of the few women in her field. Stubborn and fearless, Alex always operates on her own terms.”

B&C says of “Chicago Med,” “A spinoff of ‘Chicago Fire’ and ‘Chicago P.D.,’ ‘Med’ centers on the day-to-day chaos of the city’s most explosive hospital and the courageous team of doctors who hold it together. A backdoor pilot for ‘Med’ aired during ‘Chicago Fire’s’ April 7 episode. The cast includes Oliver Platt, S. Epatha Merkerson, Laurie Holden, Nick Gehlfuss and Yaya Dacosta.”

Of “Blindspot,” HitFix says, “’Blindspot’ was created by ‘L.A. Complex’ mastermind Martin Gero and stars ‘Thor’ veteran Jaimie Alexander as a naked Jane Doe who turns up in Times Square with no memories and the name of FBI Agent Kurt Weller tattooed on her back. Sullivan Stapleton plays Weller in what becomes a vast international plot.

“The pilot, which was directed by Mark Pellington, also stars Audrey Esparza, Rob Brown, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Ukweli Roach and Ashley Johnson. And if you don’t figure this sucker is going to be paired with ‘The Blacklist’ (or, alternative, set to air as a ‘Blacklist’ proxy after ‘The Voice’ in the fall), well… Stay tuned!”

May 1, 2015
12:11 pm

HBO Pulls Plug on Comedy Project (Deadline)

Pay cable channel HBO has decided to shelve a comedy project from the creator of “Enlightened.” reports that the channel will not go ahead with “Mamma Dallas,” from Mike White.

The project centered on a conservative family in Texas that unknowingly hires a drag queen as the family’s nanny.

HBO programming head Michael Lombardo indicated that the channel remains high on White. In a statement given to Deadline, Lombardo said: “Mike White is one of the most talented filmmakers working today and we feel honored to have worked with him on ‘Enlightened’ and the ‘Mamma Dallas’ pilot. The latter only reinforced our views of Mike’s prodigious talents. … We truly hope that we will find another opportunity to work together.”

White is the writer, director and executive producer of “Mamma Dallas.” In addition to co-creating “Enlightened” with the show’s star Laura Dern, White wrote every episode and directed and executive produced the show, along with appearing on it as Dern’s co-worker Tyler.


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