Mar 3, 2015
8:27 am

Management Shakeup at NBC News in Wake of Brian Williams Controversy: Former Boss May Be Headed Back (Variety)

The former president of NBC News is in talks to return to the news division, according to Variety. The publication reports that Andrew Lack is negotiating a possible return to a top post as part of what Variety calls “a management shakeup following the debacle that led to the suspension of ‘Nightly News’ anchor Brian Williams and other recent missteps.”

Variety reports: “The discussions are in the early stages, but Lack is expected to return in a top role, if not the top job, overseeing NBCUniversal’s news operations: NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC. Pat Fili-Krushel, who has headed NBCUniversal News Group as chairman since 2012, may move to a different position within NBCUniversal.”

NBC News President Deborah Turness is expected to remain with the company, although the report cites a source close to the situation saying that Turness could wind up with a different role.

“Turness has been under fire for the division’s response to the controversy that erupted over Williams’ misleading statements on ‘NBC Nightly News’ about his experiences … covering the Iraq war in 2003. The incident led to the anchor being suspended for six months without pay last month,” Variety reports.

A representative for NBCU declined to comment for the report.

Lack was president of NBC News from 1993-2001, and has more recently spent time with Bloomberg Media and other companies.

Variety notes: “The discussions with Lack were spurred during the past few weeks by NBCU management’s desire to bring in a seasoned journalist to help manage the crisis situation. Fili-Krushel is a highly regarded TV exec but her lack of journalism experience has been a source of criticism as NBC News’ operations have been scrutinized following the Williams’ scandal and other reporting issues that have surfaced.”

The report cites one example that took place last month. “NBC News chief global correspondent Bill Neely reported that suspects in France’s Charlie Hebdo killings were dead or in custody — information that was not accurate, but that was reiterated in a broadcast by Williams,” Variety reports. “The TV journalists had to retract the claims, and acknowledge the government-intelligence sources they had relied upon did not give sound facts.”

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Mar 3, 2015
8:11 am

Bizarre Ending to Ellen DeGeneres’ Furniture Design Challenge Show on HGTV: Series Crowns Winner, Then Disqualifies Him and Replaces Him With the Runner-Up (Durango Herald, Arizona Republic, TVWeek)

“Outrage broke out online Monday night after a Durango, Colorado, man was disqualified from Ellen DeGeneres’ new show ‘Ellen’s Design Challenge’ on HGTV,” reports the Durango Herald.

The man is Tim McClellan. He was disqualified because his final design too closely resembled a furniture piece already in the marketplace, the show said. Contestants were supposed to make an original piece.

To make matters even more embarrassing, according to the Arizona Republic, of the six contestants who were on the show, McClellan was “the only contestant recruited by DeGeneres after she watched his furniture-making video on YouTube. The other five contestants applied for a spot on the show.”

The ending of the six-episode series, which aired last night, Monday, March 2, 2015, was bizarre. Ellen announced that McClellan won the “Design Challenge,” which included $100,000 and having his work featured in a spread in HGTV magazine. Confetti fell from the ceiling, hugs were had all around. McClellan was thrilled.

Then, on the screen flashed the words “One Week Later.”

That’s when viewers were told, matter of factly, that McClellan had been disqualified because of the similarity of his last piece of furniture to another piece of furniture already available in the marketplace, and that the runner-up, Katie Stout, had won. Ellen invited Stout onto the set of her talk show to surprise her with the news.

According to the Durango Herald, one angry viewer tweeted, “Everyone involved including Ellen should be fired. None of you were aware of Tim’s similarities until after?”

Others tweeted that they still supported McClellan, the report says.

As for McClellan himself, he wasn’t seen on-screen after the show announced his disqualification. However he tweeted last night that being on the show was “a most blessed and wonderful experience!”

ellen's design challenge

Mar 3, 2015
7:59 am

New Shows Put CNN on Top in Cable News (TVWeek)

CNN broke out two new original series Sunday night, with both shows scoring ratings wins in their time slots.

“Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery” and “The Wonder List with Bill Weir” won their time slots among cable news channels, both in total viewers and in the key news demo of viewers 25-54, the network announced, citing Nielsen Fast National figures.

“At 9 p.m., ‘Finding Jesus (Shroud of Turin)’ was top-rated, averaging 1.139 million total viewers, +80% more than Fox News’ 634,000 and a +314% advantage over MSNBC’s 275,000,” CNN reported. “In the key demo 25-54, ‘Finding Jesus’ posted 371,000, while Fox News and MSNBC both trailed with 111,000. ‘Finding Jesus’ outperformed the combined delivery of Fox News and MSNBC in both demos.”

Premiering at 10 p.m., “The Wonder List (Vanuatu: Landlords of Paradise)” also outperformed the combined delivery of Fox News and MSNBC in the 25-54 demo, CNN reported. The show averaged 706,000 total viewers to lead Fox News (603,000) and MSNBC (312,000), and scored 294,000 viewers 25-54, topping the combined totals of Fox News (148,000) and MSNBC (126,000).

“Finding Jesus” was CNN’s second-highest-rated original series premiere ever in total viewers, trailing only “The Sixties” with 1.390 million.

“Finding Jesus” continues next Sunday with “John the Baptist,” while “The Wonder List” unveils its second episode, “Galapagos: A Fight for Survival,” the same night.

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Mar 3, 2015
7:50 am

ABC News Parts Ways With Political Correspondent (TVWeek)

ABC News has announced the departure of the network’s senior Washington, D.C., correspondent. News division President James Goldston circulated a memo to staffers announcing that Jeff Zeleny is leaving the network.

“For the past two years, he’s contributed greatly as our Senior Washington Correspondent covering politics and Congress, including his thoughtful coverage of the 2014 election and 16-day government shutdown,” Goldston wrote in the memo. “He scored ‘This Week’ exclusives with Senators Al Franken and Tim Scott and had revealing interviews with Ann Romney and Rep. Aaron Schock, among others.”

Zeleny was reportedly headed to CNN to become senior Washington correspondent. He was expected to join the cable channel later this month.

Zeleny was hired by ABC News in February 2013 after covering politics for The New York Times.

Goldston’s memo also mentions other changes for the news unit. “Cecilia Vega and Tom Llamas already have joined our expanding team reporting on the 2016 election,” he notes in the memo, adding: “We will make more announcements about our election coverage in due course as we enter this exciting political cycle.”

jeff zeleny-abc news

Mar 3, 2015
7:44 am

Host of the Top-Rated First-Run Syndicated Show Plans to Stick Around — Signs Deal Through 2020 (TVWeek)

The host of a show that has been a juggernaut in first-run syndication appears poised to stay around for a while. Judge Judy Sheindlin, whose “Judge Judy” sits atop the rankings among first-run syndie shows, extended her deal with CBS Television Distribution through 2020.

Making the announcement Wednesday was Armando Nunez, president and CEO of CBS Global Distribution Group.

“Judge Judy” has been the top-rated show in first-run syndication for the past five seasons, and the No. 1 court show for 969 consecutive weeks, the company noted in its announcement. Currently in its 19th season, “Judge Judy” is averaging 10.3 million viewers.

The new agreement includes a first-look production deal with Sheindlin’s Queen Bee Productions, the producer of the top-rated new show in syndication this season, “Hot Bench.” “Hot Bench” has been averaging 2.3 million viewers.

Said Sheindlin: “I’m thrilled to be working with my CBS family for five more years, and very excited about this new adventure in production. I loved the experience of creating and developing ‘Hot Bench,’ and look forward to replicating its success with more new, compelling and smart TV.”

Nunez said of Sheindlin: “She is a true television icon, who entertains and inspires millions of fans each day on ‘Judge Judy.’ We look forward to continuing to provide our station partners with her highly successful show and to working with her to create the next generation of hits.”

Judge Judy

Mar 3, 2015
7:31 am

Netflix Announces Premiere Dates for ‘Orange Is the New Black,’ Other Originals (TVWeek)

Streaming service Netflix has announced premiere dates for its upcoming slate of original series and stand-up comedy specials.

The eagerly anticipated new season of “Orange Is the New Black” will come out June 12. The show has been one of the darlings of the awards circuit, including winning three Emmys last year, and in the process has helped raise the profile of Netflix in original programming.

“Orange” received 10 Primetime Emmy nominations in 2014, winning for outstanding single-camera picture editing for a comedy series and outstanding casting for a comedy series, along with a win for Uzo Aduba (“Crazy Eyes”) as outstanding guest actress in a comedy. The show has also received four Golden Globe nominations, and this year won two Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Netflix also announced a premiere date of June 5 for the original series “Sense8,” with “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp” set for July 17. “Between” was listed with a premiere date of May 2015. A rollout date has not yet been set for “Narcos.”

Also announced were the following dates for Netflix Original Stand-up Comedy Specials: “Chris D’Elia: Incorrigible,” April 17; “Jen Kirkman: I’m Gonna Die Alone (And I Feel Fine),” May 22; and “What Happened, Miss Simone,” June 26.


Mar 3, 2015
6:59 am

ESPN Raises the Ante on Women’s Basketball (TVWeek)

While much of the “March Madness” focus will be on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, ESPN is elevating its game when it comes to women’s hoops. The network announced that its coverage of conference tournaments in women’s college basketball, starting Wednesday, March 4, and continuing through Sunday, March 15, will feature a record number of games.

Additionally, ESPN announced plans to cover all 63 games of the 2015 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship tournament.

ESPN’s “2015 Championship Week Presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods” will air across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SEC Network, ESPN3 and SEC Network +, with a total of 112 games to be televised. ESPN will air five conference title games — the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC on Sunday, March 8, and the American Women’s Championship on Monday, March 9.

“The networks will combine to exclusively offer game action of 112 women’s games, and will crown the champion from 21 Division I conferences. ESPN3 will have exclusive coverage of 80 conference tournament games, and will show another 20 contests available in local markets via syndication, for a total of 132 games,” the company announced.

The programming will be offered via a variety of platforms, with full Championship Week coverage accessible online at, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app, and streamed on TVs through Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360 or Xbox One to viewers with video subscriptions through an affiliated provider.

For the 10th consecutive year, the ESPN networks will also televise all 63 games of the 2015 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship.

“ESPN and ESPN2 will present regionalized telecasts with home market protection through the first two rounds,” the company announced. “ESPN3 and ESPN FULL COURT, the pay-per-view package, will offer first- and second-round games in their entirety as a supplement to ESPN and ESPN2’s coverage. The final 15 games, beginning with the Regional Semifinals, will have national telecast windows on ESPN or ESPN2.”

The complete schedule for the 64-team tournament will be announced later.

Among the Championship Week highlights, four conference title games will air Sunday, March 8, on ESPN channels (all times ET):

• The ACC championship game will air at 1 p.m. with the semifinals airing Saturday at noon and 2:30 p.m. on ESPNU.

• The SEC title game airs at 3:30 p.m., with the semifinals airing Saturday at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on ESPNU.

• The Big Ten title game airs at 7 p.m. and the nightcap at 9 p.m. features the Pac-12 semifinal winners.

The announcement adds: “The American Women’s Conference Championship can be seen exclusively on ESPN platforms – the first round and quarterfinal games will be on ESPN3 on Friday, March 6, and Saturday, March 7, respectively, with the semifinals airing Sunday on ESPNU and the title game on Monday on ESPN.”

Additionally, the following championship games will be televised live on ESPNU: America East, Atlantic 10, Horizon League, MAAC, Northeast Conference, Summit League, Western Athletic Conference and West Coast Conference.

The SEC tournament will be featured on SEC Network:

• SEC Network will carry the first round, second round and quarterfinal games live from Little Rock, Ark., beginning Wednesday, March 4, through Friday, March 6.

• “SEC Now” courtside in Little Rock on Thursday with pregame and postgame coverage on Saturday.

• “SEC Now” features Host Maria Taylor and analyst Nell Fortner.

• Coach and player interviews, locker room access and coaches being mic’ed will be part of game and studio telecasts.

breanna stewart

Mar 3, 2015
5:57 am

What Was the Best NFL Game of the 2014 Season? Here’s How to Find Out (TVWeek)

NFL Network is presenting a series of programs that should help keep pro football fans engaged during the offseason. The channel this week launched special editions of “Game Rewind” counting down the 20 best games of the 2014 NFL season.

The series began Monday with the Colts-Steelers showdown from Week 8 in which Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 522 yards and six touchdowns. The half-hour program led into a “Game Rewind” presentation of the No. 19 game, the Week 14 clash between the Jets and Vikings, which went into overtime.

The series continues with two games per night through Friday, March 13. “Game Rewind” offers a condensed 30-minute version of each game, with the shows airing at 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. during the countdown.

nfl game rewind

Mar 2, 2015
12:49 pm

‘Today’ Co-Anchor Steps Up to ‘NBC Nightly News’ in Emergency (Variety)

Lester Holt was called away this week from his role as fill-in for Brian Williams in the “NBC Nightly News” anchor’s chair. Variety reported Monday that “Today” co-anchor Savannah Guthrie would take over the program Monday night as Holt deals with a family medical emergency.

“Holt is expected to return to the program,” Variety reports. “He has taken the anchor chair of the nation’s most-watched evening-news broadcast since NBCUniversal suspended Brian Williams for six months in the wake of his admission that he falsified details about a 2003 NBC News excursion to Iraq in which he took part.”

The NBC program continues to lead evening news broadcasts in total viewers, the report notes, although ABC’s “World News” recently won the key news demo of viewers 25-54 for the five-day periord from Feb. 16-20.

Guthrie has filled in previously for Williams on “NBC Nightly News.”


Mar 2, 2015
12:41 pm

Islamic State Threatens War Against Twitter Founder (USA Today)

The militant group the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has set its sights on one of the co-founders of Twitter, USA Today reports.

“Twitter has routinely shut down Islamic State social media accounts, particularly those that threaten or link to beheadings and other atrocities,” the story reports. The piece says the group “posted an online threat Sunday warning Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey that ‘your virtual war on the Internet will cause a real war on you.’”

Twitter with a brief statement saying the company’s “security team is investigating the veracity of these threats with relevant law enforcement officials.”

The threat was reportedly posted in Arabic with headlines reading “Foundation for the conquest of Jerusalem for the Islamic State,” and “Twitter a target for the caliphate.”

The post reportedly says: “Jack, how will you protect your helpless employees when their necks are on the line and they become an official target for soldiers of the succession and their supporters among you? What will be your response to their families and sons, and their plight in this failed war?”

The post reportedly contains a picture of Dorsey with a target on his face.

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