Aug 24, 2016
10:17 am

Kelly Ripa’s Former Co-Host Developing Drama for ABC (THR)

A longtime co-host of Kelly Ripa on her morning show is developing a drama project for ABC. In his first sale of a scripted project, The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Michael Strahan received a script commitment for “Hobbs,” about a football player-turned-cop.

Strahan, who had a successful NFL career before taking the plunge into the entertainment business, is transitioning to a full-time gig on “Good Morning America” following his highly public departure earlier this year as co-host of “Live with Kelly and Michael.”

“The drama, which has received a script commitment, follows Tommy Hobbs, a former Heisman Trophy winner who joins the Miami police force after not being drafted by the NFL, as well as a meticulous, rule-following detective who has trained her whole life to become a police officer,” THR reports.

Michael Caleo, whose credits include “The Sopranos” and “Rescue Me,” is on board to write the script and executive produce along with Strahan and his SMAC Entertainment partner Constance Schwartz-Morini. The project comes from ABC Studios.

abc studios logo

Aug 24, 2016
9:56 am

Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Has a Problem With One Rumored Feature of Apple’s Upcoming iPhone 7 (BGR)

Steve Wozniak, the tech innovator who co-founded Apple with Steve Jobs, offered some unsolicited advice to the company about its upcoming iPhone 7. BGR reports that Wozniak has an issue with the phone’s rumored lack of a headphone jack.

Wozniak is quoted in the story telling The Australian Financial Review: “If it’s missing the 3.5mm earphone jack, that’s going to tick off a lot of people.”

His comments echo concerns others have raised as rumors circulated that the device would rely exclusively on Bluetooth for audio.

“I would not use Bluetooth … I don’t like wireless,” Wozniak reportedly said. “I have cars where you can plug in the music, or go through Bluetooth, and Bluetooth just sounds so flat for the same music.”

Apple has not confirmed whether the new iPhone will include the old-fashioned 3.5mm headphone jack, but it has been widely rumored that it will be eliminated.

apple logo

Aug 24, 2016
9:40 am

Executive Exits Viacom After More Than 20 Years at the Company (Deadline)

Just a few days after the ouster of CEO Philippe Dauman was completed, an executive who has been with Viacom for more than 20 years has left the company. Deadline.com reports that Carl Folta, the company’s head of corporate communications, is moving on.

The report notes that Folta joined Viacom when the company acquired Gulf+Western parent Paramount Communications in 1994.

“Folta had been at G+W for a decade before Viacom bought Paramount,” Deadline notes. “Before working for Dauman, he was the senior spokesman and adviser to Sumner Redstone.”

Tom Dooley, Viacom’s interim CEO, announced the move in a memo to staffers, writing: “My longtime friend and colleague and our head of corporate communications Carl Folta has decided to move on to the next adventure in his successful and ever-eventful career. Day in and day out, he literally had the hardest job in the company — and he handled it all with grace, skill and a smile.”

viacom logo

Aug 24, 2016
9:08 am

Former Disney Star Comes Out as Bisexual (People, Vevo)

An actress and singer who is a former Disney Channel star has come out as bisexual, according to People magazine.

Bella Thorne, known for her appearances on Disney’s “Shake It Up” and on shows including “My Own Worst Enemy” and “Big Love,” was asked by a fan on Twitter whether she’s bisexual and responded, simply, “Yes,” according to the report.

“Many fans had speculated about the former Disney star’s sexuality after a photo of Thorne kissing an unidentified female emerged online this month,” People reports, adding that Thorne “received an outpouring of love and support from her fans on Twitter after making the revelation.”

Thorne, 18, reportedly split up this month with Gregg Sulkin, 24, her boyfriend of more than a year.

Here’s Thorne’s 2014 video for the song “Call It Whatever” …

Aug 24, 2016
8:44 am

Drama at NBC’s ‘Today’: Is the Network Upset With Al Roker? (NY Post, NBC)

Insiders at NBC’s morning flagship “Today” are reportedly less than thrilled about an incident involving show mainstay Al Roker. The New York Post’s Page Six cites sources saying that behind the scenes, some at the show were embarrassed by the on-air confrontation between Roker and Billy Bush over the Ryan Lochte scandal.

“The lovable weatherman flipped his lid during an on-air conversation with Billy Bush about the swimmer’s shape-shifting story about being the victim of an armed robbery during the Rio Olympic Games, angrily saying, ‘He lied. He lied to you, he lied to Matt Lauer, he lied to his mom, [and] he left his teammates hanging while he skedaddled,'” the story reports.

The Post quotes a source saying: “There were several producers and talent who were left trying to explain Al’s over-the-top behavior. Several insiders found themselves wanting to distance themselves from his response.”

But an NBC executive who’s quoted anonymously in the story offered a different perspective, saying: “This is not true. No one feels this way. In fact, everyone here is happy — specifically with the ‘Today’ show’s great ratings.”

Here’s a clip of the Roker-Bush debate …

Aug 24, 2016
8:17 am

Columnist Makes the Case for Fox News to Evolve Into a Less Partisan Network (Politico)

While he’s not arguing with the success of Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch in building Fox News Channel into a $1.5 billion-a-year profit machine, columnist Jack Shafer, writing on Politico, recaps the channel’s success story and makes the argument that FNC may have hit its ceiling as it caters to a mostly right-leaning audience.

“As it turns out … the number of conservative meat eaters is quite small — an average of 1.35 million viewers tune in to Fox News Channel, and its best-rated show, ‘The O’Reilly Factor,’ attracts only 3.4 million, and most come from the oldest demographic,” Shafer writes, noting parenthetically that these numbers are inflated for an election year. He contrasts the numbers with the no longer attainable 40 million viewers who once tuned in for traditional network news.

Shafer suggests that the Murdoch brothers, James and Lachlan, who are increasingly stepping up to run Fox News, “tilt the network harder in the direction of conscientious journalists like Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace, and away from its honey badgers — notably Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and the ‘Fox & Friends’ crew. Both Kelly and Wallace are deserving of larger audiences than they get, and maybe one of the reasons their numbers aren’t larger is because new viewers are put off by the channel’s reputation for honey-badger journalism.”

Click on the link to Politico near the top of this story to read Shafer’s full analysis.

fox news channel-logo

Aug 24, 2016
8:17 am

Wow! Tesla’s New Battery Makes It the Third-Fastest-Accelerating Car Ever (Recode, Tesla)

With a new bigger, badder battery, the new Tesla electric cars are ridiculously fast — or, in Tesla parlance, ludicrously fast.

Recode reports that company chief Elon Musk, talking with journalists on a conference call Tuesday, revealed that the new 100 kWH battery pack enables the company’s Model S to go 0 to 60 in a stunning 2.5 seconds, in what the company calls “ludicrous” mode.

“That makes the Model S the third-fastest production car ever made, after the Ferrari LaFerrari and the Porsche 918 Spyder, but it’s the quickest pure electric vehicle that has the capacity to seat up to five adults and two children, according to the company,” Recode reports. “In an industry first, the battery also enables the car to drive an estimated 315 miles on a single charge. This is the first electric vehicle to go above a range of 300 miles, according to Tesla.”

On the call, Musk said: “Looking at the bigger picture here, it’s just amazing that an electric car is now the fastest car in production in the world. I think it’s a great message to the world and really speaks to the fact that electric cars are the future. That’s just a very positive message for the electric vehicle industry as a whole, beyond just Tesla.”

Recode notes: “Customers who ordered a Model S P90D — a Model S with a 90 kWH battery and a range of 253 miles — but have not yet received the vehicle can upgrade to the 100 kWH battery for $10,000.”

The cars aren’t cheap. The Model S P100D starts at $135,000, compared to a $125,000 MSRP for the Model S P90D equipped with ludicrous mode. The Model X P100D also starts at $135,500, up from $115,500 for the Model X P90D.

In a discussion about prices on a Tesla blog, the company wrote: “While the P100D Ludicrous is obviously an expensive vehicle, we want to emphasize that every sale helps pay for the smaller and much more affordable Tesla Model 3 that is in development. Without customers willing to buy the expensive Model S and X, we would be unable to fund the smaller, more affordable Model 3 development.”

tesla P100D

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
2:32 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
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 …

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