Mar 4, 2015
12:23 pm

Andrew Lack Steps Down From Post, Signaling Return to NBC News (Variety)

Former NBC News President Andrew Lack has resigned from his current job as he appears to be positioning to reclaim a top post at NBC. Variety reports that Lack stepped down from his position with the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

In a statement, the Board of Governors said: “Andrew Lack was a strong choice to serve as the BBG’s first CEO and Director. He has a passion for our work, appreciation for our history and understanding of the importance of our mission.”

Lack had been on the job only since January.

Variety calls his resignation “another sign that talks between the journalism honcho and the media company are coming to fruition.”

Lack is now widely expected to return to NBCUniversal in a senior role. Variety cites sources close to the situation saying he is expected to head a unit including NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC.

“Pat Fili-Krushel, a veteran media-industry executive who has held top roles at Time Warner and Walt Disney and is currently chairman of NBCUniversal News Group, is expected to take another role within the company,” the report notes. The piece cites a source saying NBC News President Deborah Turness is likely to remain in her job.

One key player who is likely to benefit from Lack’s return is Brian Williams, as we reported previously.

nbc news-logo

Mar 4, 2015
12:11 pm

Drama Series Gets Extended Order (TVWeek)

A drama series that is in its third season received an order for 12 additional episodes. TNT announced that it extended the order for “Cold Justice.”

The cable channel also ordered two new “Justice Served” specials, to be hosted by John Walsh of “America’s Most Wanted.”

“The specials will update viewers on victims’ families and the status of cases as they have proceeded through the legal system,” TNT said in its announcement. “In addition, the spring edition of ‘Justice Served’ will include a look at ‘Cold Justice: Sex Crimes,’ TNT’s new series set to launch this summer.”

“Cold Justice” airs Fridays at 8 p.m. (ET/PT) on TNT. The show is set to air its winter finale this Friday, March 6.

Spring episodes are due to air starting April 10.

Cold Justice

Mar 4, 2015
12:01 pm

Character Actor Known for ‘Seinfeld’ Role Dies (THR)

A character actor whose work included a memorable role on the hit NBC sitcom “Seinfeld” has died. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Daniel von Bargen died Sunday, March 1, after a long struggle with illness. He was 64.

Von Bargen was best known for playing George Costanza’s boss, Mr. Kruger, during the final season of “Seinfeld.” He also played Commandant Edwin Spangler on ABC’s “Malcolm in the Middle.”

“In February 2012, von Bargen was seriously injured when he shot himself in the temple in an apparent suicide attempt, distraught because he had been battling diabetes and was set to have two toes removed,” THR reports.

The THR story adds: “The versatile von Bargen rose from the dead as the satanic Nix in the Clive Barker horror film ‘Lord of Illusions’ (1995); played a futuristic sheriff in ‘The Postman’ (1997), directed by and starring Kevin Costner; and portrayed a Southern lawman who pursued George Clooney’s character in the Coen brothers’ ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ (2000).”

daniel von bargenDaniel von Bargen

Mar 4, 2015
11:59 am

Presidential Hopeful Raises Eyebrows With CNN Interview on Homosexuality — Here’s the Clip (CNN)

In an interview this morning with Chris Cuomo on the CNN show “New Day,” presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson offered views on homosexuality that many observers may find controversial.

Carson has not formally declared his candidacy for president, but has reportedly formed an exploratory committee to contemplate a bid for the Republican nomination in 2016. In the interview, Cuomo asked whether being gay is a choice and Carson responded: “Absolutely.”

Carson, a neurosurgeon, indicated that homosexuality can be proved to be a choice because some people “go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay.”

Carson’s argument, CNN reports, “is at odds with the majority of the medical community, including the American Psychological Association, who says ‘most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.’”

Here’s the clip:

Mar 4, 2015
11:58 am

There’s a New (Old) No. 1 in Smartphone Sales (LA Times)

The new No. 1 seller of smartphones in the world is a familiar name in the space, but it hasn’t been on top since 2012. The Los Angeles Times reports that Apple moved ahead of Samsung globally in the fourth quarter to reclaim the title.

Apple reportedly sold 74.8 million units in the quarter, with demand for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, especially in the U.S. and China, helping to drive the results. The report cites research firm Gartner.

Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner, wrote in a report: “Samsung’s performance in the smartphone market deteriorated further in the fourth quarter of 2014, when it lost nearly 10 percentage points in market share.”

Gupta adds in the report: “Samsung continues to struggle to control its falling smartphone share, which was at its highest in the third quarter of 2013. This downward trend shows that Samsung’s share of profitable premium smartphone users has come under significant pressure.”

The Times adds: “It was, however, also a record quarter for the smartphone industry overall: Worldwide sales of smartphones increased 29.9% year over year to reach 367.5 million units sold.”

For 2014 overall, a total of 1.2 billion smartphones were sold, a 28.4% increase from 2013.


Mar 4, 2015
11:57 am

30-Year Media Veteran Joins Discovery in High-Level Position (TVWeek)

Discovery Communications this week announced the hiring of a longtime media industry executive as president, global business and legal affairs, production management and studios. Marc Graboff will take the post, reporting to Bruce Campbell, chief development and digital media officer and general counsel.

Graboff, a 30-year veteran of media and entertainment, will oversee Discovery’s worldwide business affairs and production operations and management, along with the Studios Group, the company announced.

Lee Bartlett was named president of the Studios Group, and will report to Graboff.

Please click here to read the full announcement from Discovery.

marc graboffMarc Graboff

Mar 4, 2015
11:51 am

Retail Giant Announces It Will Cut Thousands of Jobs (Forbes)

One of the largest U.S. retailers laid out a plan to transform the company, with thousands of job cuts among the changes that are on the way for Target.

Forbes reports that CEO Brian Cornell unveiled the plan at Tuesday’s investor meeting, with the company setting its sights on cutting $2 billion in costs over the next two years.

The plan also includes boosting the stores’ food offerings and expansion via new urban locations.

“The Minneapolis-based company also said it would cut several thousand positions over the next two years, mainly from headquarters locations, in relation to cost-cutting efforts,” Forbes reports. “Target hopes to save $2 billion over the next two years in order to free up capital for key growth and profitability initiatives. The company has been working to move on from costly blunders, including a massive data breach and unsuccessful foray into Canada.”

Said Cornell: “While we’re in the early days and there’s no doubt that transformation can be challenging, we’re taking the steps necessary to unleash the potential of this incredible brand.”

Cornell stepped in as CEO six months ago.

target logo

Mar 4, 2015
11:44 am

Why a Hot New Movie Is Being Boycotted in the U.S. (Variety)

A new feature film that has already received Oscar buzz faces a boycott in the U.S. from four major theater chains. Variety reports that “Beasts of No Nation,” starring Idris Elba, is being boycotted by the theaters because it will be shown by Netflix simultaneously with its theatrical release.

The streaming service this week bought the rights to the movie for $12 million, reportedly following a bidding war.

“Four of the country’s … largest exhibitors — AMC, Regal, Cinemark and Carmike — separately told Variety that they do not plan to show the drama about child soldiers in Africa because they do not want to provide screens to films that do not honor what is typically a 90-day delay between a theatrical debut and a home entertainment release,” the publication reports.

Variety notes: “In a release touting the deal, Netflix said the picture will have a qualifying run for Oscar consideration in ‘select theaters’ later this year — language that seemed to acknowledge that ‘Beasts of No Nation’ will have trouble securing a berth in many theaters.”

Netflix also got into a dispute with theater owners last fall when it revealed plans to work in partnership with The Weinstein Company and Imax on distribution of the “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” sequel.

Industry sources indicated that “Beasts of No Nation,” written and directed by “True Detective” director and producer Cary Fukunaga, could still be distributed by between 200 and 250 arthouses and indie theaters. The movie stars four-time Emmy nominee Elba, known for playing Stringer Bell on “The Wire.”


Mar 4, 2015
11:11 am

NBC Ready to Take Its Funny Business Online (WSJ)

NBCUniversal is readying a subscription Web video service the company plans to launch later this year to offer comedy programming for a monthly fee, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The moved, aimed at cord cutters, signals NBCU’s “growing interest in reaching young viewers online as its traditional cable-TV business stagnates,” the report notes.

WSJ reports: “The comedy service would likely feature full episodes of NBC shows such as ‘The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon’ and ‘Saturday Night Live.’ The company also plans to invest in original series for the service and may enlist its TV stars to create exclusive content, according to the people familiar with the plans.”

Various price points are said to be under consideration, with one source saying $2.50 to $3.50 per month is a possibility.

WSJ adds: “The company has explored launching other Web TV services geared to particular genres such as faith and family and horror. A horror-themed service, for example, could include content from NBCU’s small cable channel Chiller. NBCU has been testing the ideas to see which ones would resonate with the demographic it hopes to target: people under 35 years old. For the moment, the comedy service is the only one in advanced development.”

tonight show starring jimmy fallon-title

Mar 4, 2015
11:01 am

Sling TV Bolsters Lineup With Major Cable Programming (Multichannel News)

The over-the-top pay-TV service Sling TV has added some key players in the cable space. Multichannel News reports that the subscription service from Dish Network added AMC and IFC to its core package.

Sling TV also launched a new package, “Hollywood Extra,” featuring Sundance TV and EPIX content. “Hollywood Extra” carries a $5 monthly subscription price, with the core service going for $20.

“Sling TV, which announced a distribution agreement with AMC Networks in tandem with its national launch on February 9, noted that it will also offer VOD content from AMC and IFC ‘soon,’” the story notes. “In addition to AMC and IFC, Sling TV’s core package also offers ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, ABC Family, Disney Channel, CNN, El Rey and Galavision.”


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