Aug 23, 2016
3:28 pm

‘Law & Order’ Star Dies (USA Today, YouTube, TVWeek)

An actor who was a fixture on the NBC procedural “Law & Order,” who also played the original head of the Impossible Missions Force on “Mission: Impossible,” has died. USA Today reports that Steven Hill died today in New York. He was 94.

He had reportedly suffered from multiple ailments.

Hill played District Attorney Adam Schiff on “Law & Order” for the show’s first 10 seasons, from 1990-2000. On the first season of CBS’s “Mission: Impossible,” airing in the 1966-67 season, he played Dan Briggs, the forerunner to Mr. Phelps, played by Peter Graves.

Hill received back-to-back Emmy nominations in 1998 and 1999 for his work on “Law & Order.”

His TV credits go back to the early days of the medium, when he was a frequent performer on anthology shows such as “Actor’s Studio” and “Theatre of Romance,” both all the way back in 1949. In the 1950s he found steady work on “Suspense,” “Lights Out,” “Goodyear Playhouse,” “Playhouse 90” and many other shows.

But Hill made his biggest mark in 229 episodes of “Law & Order,” and he retired from acting after leaving the show in 2000 as the longest-serving of the original cast members.

Here’s a short clip in which Hill, as D.A. Schiff, tells Sam Waterston’s Jack McCoy to take the rest of the week off …

Aug 23, 2016
2:45 pm

Netflix Unveils Action-Packed Trailer for New Season of ‘Narcos’ (TVWeek)

Netflix today released a trailer for season two of its hit “Narcos,” with drug kingpin Pablo Escobar being pursued by Colombian authorities in what looks like an action-packed season.

Here’s the clip …

Aug 23, 2016
2:32 pm

Guess Who’s the World’s Highest-Paid Actress (Forbes)

The world’s highest-paid actress of the past year is probably just who you think it is. The Forbes list, which was released today, has Jennifer Lawrence at No. 1 for the second year in a row.

Lawrence earned $46 million, with a large chunk of it coming from her final “Hunger Games” movie, along with an upfront fee for “Passengers.” The list ranks actresses by income earned from June 1, 2015, to June 1, 2016.

Lawrence has a sizable gap over the No. 2-ranked actress on the list, “Ghostbusters” star Melissa McCarthy, who brought in $33 million. No. 3 is Scarlett Johansson, who earned $25 million.

Jennifer Aniston ranks No. 4 on the list with $21 million, and No. 5 on the list is Chinese actress Fan Bingbing, with $17 million.


Aug 23, 2016
12:51 pm

Martin Lawrence Comedy Special Set (Deadline)

Comedian Martin Lawrence is set to do his first stand-up special in 14 years, with Deadline.com reporting that Showtime has set “Martin Lawrence Doin’ Time: Uncut” for Friday, Sept. 9.

The special will be available on the linear channel, on demand and online.

“Filmed live at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, ‘Doin’ Time: Uncut’ comes on the heels of Lawrence’s most recent national tour,” Deadline notes. “In the special, Lawrence touches on everything from sex and relationships to President Obama, Bill Cosby, Hollywood and more.”


Aug 23, 2016
11:44 am

‘Today’ Show Regular Steps Down, Says He Will ‘Pass the Hat to a Guy With Another Big Head’ (TVWeek, NBC)

A changing of the guard has taken place on NBC’s “Today” show, with the on-air announcement Monday that Willie Geist is quitting his regular gig on the show’s third hour.

Geist announced on the show that he has too many other commitments, including work on “Sunday Today” and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” to continue in the role. He said he will hand off the regular “Today” spot to Billy Bush.

Said Geist: “I’ve been wearing a lot of hats lately. … I’ve got a big head … but not big enough for all those hats. So I’m going to step away from the third hour of the ‘Today’ show. … I pass the hat to a guy with another big head, Billy Bush.”

Geist indicated he will continue to be involved with “Today,” particularly in its early hours.

Bush, who has been a part of “Today” and was involved in NBC’s coverage of the Rio Olympics, got attention for a high-profile on-air clash late last week with “Today” fixture Al Roker as they debated the Ryan Lochte controversy.

Here’s the Roker-Bush confrontation …

Aug 23, 2016
11:01 am

Cable Comedy Series Canceled — Show Was Originally Developed for CBS (TVWeek)

The ax fell this week on a sitcom starring a popular comedian, with news surfacing Monday that “The Jim Gaffigan Show” won’t be back for a third season on TV Land.

Gaffigan remains a media presence, including appearances in a current series of Chrysler Pacifica commercials. (You can watch an example below.)

Created by Gaffigan and Peter Tolan, the Sony Pictures Television show is based in part on the real lives of Gaffigan, his wife, Jeannie Gaffigan, and their five children. Jim and Jeannie Gaffigan are the show’s writers and are among its executive producers.

The role of Jeannie Gaffigan is played by Ashley Williams on the series, which debuted in July 2015. Other cast members include Michael Ian Black and Adam Goldberg, and the show has featured guest arcs by Macaulay Culkin, John Mulaney and others.

In a statement announcing the cancellation, TV Land said: “We are really proud of ‘The Jim Gaffigan Show’ and the amazing comedy that Jim, Jeannie, the cast, the creative team and JAX Media have made for us. After two great seasons, we have mutually agreed to not move forward with season three of the series. We have an incredible amount of respect for everyone involved, and are grateful to them for bringing their passion and dedication to ‘The Jim Gaffigan Show.'”

CBS originally ordered a pilot for the project back in January 2013, with Mira Sorvino then attached to play the role of Jim’s wife. But the network passed on the project twice after a series of recastings.

The show was picked up by TV Land in July 2014, with the Gaffigans given full creative control.

Jim Gaffigan posted a message online about the cancellation, writing: “After months of discussion Jeannie and I have decided to make season 2 of ‘The Jim Gaffigan Show’ the final season. We realize this may surprise some and we don’t make this decision lightly. It is hard to say goodbye to this highly personal passion project, which we have nurtured and poured our hearts into for over five years. Jeannie and I are grateful that TV Land allowed us to do this show about our lives the way we wanted. It was empowering, exhilarating and exhausting.”

Here’s one of Jim Gaffigan’s spots for Chrysler Pacifica …

Aug 23, 2016
10:39 am

Attention ‘Breaking Bad’ Fans: Classic Children’s Novel Getting a New Reboot, But This One Promises to Be Different (NY Times, TVWeek)

A classic children’s novel that has been the focus of countless adaptations for TV, film, radio, the stage and, more recently, the Web, is in the works for yet another adaptation. Netflix announced Monday that it will adapt “Anne of Green Gables” for a dramatic TV series, with production to begin in September in Canada.

“The series, ‘Anne,’ may prove to be an edgier incarnation than any of the many previous editions based on the 1908 novel by the Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery: The eight-episode series was penned by the Canadian writer Moira Walley-Beckett, who previously found critical acclaim, including an Emmy for outstanding drama writing, for her work on ‘Breaking Bad,'” The New York Times reports

The books — the original “Anne of Green Gables” and five subsequent novels — have provided the source material for movies going back to the silent era, with the first adaptation in 1919.

The Times notes that the books are “centered on Anne Shirley, an orphan who finds herself in the care of a pair of elderly siblings on Prince Edward Island, a place described in the author’s journals as rich in ‘ruby, and emerald, and sapphire.’ (While the backdrop for the novels is fictional, Prince Edward Island nonetheless became a tourist destination for fans of the books and of the multiple Canadian television mini-series starring Jonathan Crombie and Megan Follows.)”

In a statement announcing the streaming service’s plans for the new project, Netflix VP Elizabeth Bradley said: “Anne Shirley is one of Canada’s greatest gifts to the world, known and loved internationally.”

The project was greenlighted by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and will be produced by Northwood Entertainment, with New Zealander Niki Caro to direct.

anne of green gables-book cover

Aug 23, 2016
9:44 am

Why NBC May Have a Rough Road Ahead With the Olympics (NY Times, TVWeek)

It could be a tough next six years for NBC Olympics, with the next three Games — two Winter Olympics and one Summer Games — all in Asia.

The New York Times notes that prime-time ratings for the just completed Rio Games were lower than expected, while the move to Asia will factor in additional problems such as a 13-hour to 14-hour time difference between the host cities and New York.

Undaunted, NBC is declaring the Rio Olympics “the most successful media event in history,” as we reported separately. But The Times poses the critical question of whether the falloff in viewership for Rio was a fluke … or a sign of further trouble ahead.

“The answer, for now, is unknown, as NBC prepares for the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing (which hosted the Summer Olympics eight years ago),” The Times notes. “No one is certain how much further consumers will alter their media habits, how much further television viewing will be diminished, or what new technologies will emerge during that time.”

Said Rich Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG Research: “You’d be a lot less concerned if you were in the United States or in Continental Europe. Ninety percent of the content from Asia will be happening when we’re asleep — and when we wake up we’ll see our Twitter feeds and news stories telling us what has already happened.”

NBC had counted on a favorable time zone in Rio to boost prime time. “NBC thought that the greater number of live prime-time broadcasts from Rio would produce audiences larger than those amassed for London four years ago,” The Times notes. “But at 25.4 million, NBC’s broadcast audience fell 18 percent from the 31 million that watched the London Games. It added 2.1 million more viewers from live streaming and Olympic events on the NBCSN and Bravo cable networks. In all, the three sources of viewership did not combine to match London’s broadcast-only performance.”

Said Greenfield: “Television is in a secular decline.” He adds that the increasing embrace of the binge-watching model makes NBC’s prime-time Olympics model, which forces viewers to wait for their favorite sport to come on, less palatable.

“Still, even with decreased viewership, NBC dominated prime time during the Rio Games and boosted 18- to 34-year-old viewership on other company programming like the ‘Today’ show, ‘NBC Nightly News,’ ‘Access Hollywood’ and late local newscasts,” The Times reports. “In addition, 3.3 billion minutes of Olympic events, replays and highlights were streamed on NBC’s Olympic website and the NBC Sports app.”

The report quotes Mark Lazarus, chairman of the NBC Sports Group, in a statement about past Summer Olympics on NBC, saying: “The Olympics are the only events of its kind, dominating prime time for 17 straight nights, 118 Summer Olympic nights in a row.”

PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics

Aug 23, 2016
9:09 am

Comedy Dream Team to Star in Netflix Series (TVWeek)

Netflix has assembled what’s being called a comedy dream team for a new project. The streaming service announced plans Monday for “Friends From College,” which brings together an all-star cast that includes Keegan-Michael Key (“Key & Peele”), Cobie Smulders (“How I Met Your Mother”), Fred Savage (“The Wonder Years”) and Jae Suh Park (“The Mindy Project”).

The project comes from director, writer and producer Nick Stoller (“Neighbors, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”), who will executive produce and write the series along with his wife, Francesca Delbanco. Stoller will also direct all eight episodes in the initial series order.

Please click here for additional cast members and other details.


Aug 23, 2016
9:01 am

Massive Wildfire Threatens One of California’s Most Famous Landmarks (LA Times, NBC News)

A huge wildfire that has been raging for days has created a crisis for the famed California landmark Hearst Castle, located above San Simeon on the state’s Central Coast. The Los Angeles Times reports that the fast-moving Chimney Fire, which has burned at least 37,000 acres in San Luis Obispo County, has kept teams of firefighters busy protecting the castle.

NBC News was reporting this morning that the fire, which moved to within three miles of the castle, was not actively burning in the area closest to the landmark, and the castle “appeared to have escaped the wrath” of the fire. But the site remained closed to the public, with emergency personnel on high alert.

“Parking lots outside the visitors’ center are full, but with fire engines instead of tourists’ cars,” The Times reported today. “The property has been abuzz with hundreds of firefighters and is serving as a full-fledged operations center. Firefighting aircraft are even using the Hearst family’s private airstrip, said Roger Colligan, a supervising ranger at California State Park.”

Colligan noted that the castle is packed with “priceless, irreplaceable items.” Staffers remained poised to remove the artwork and other valuables if necessary.

“Colligan said Monday that although the castle did not appear to be under immediate threat by the fire, crews were well aware that winds can change quickly,” The Times reported.

Said Colligan: “We really don’t expect the fire to really come any closer than it has with the fire lines that have been cut. We’re pretty optimistic.”

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