Oct 17, 2014
10:38 pm

Stunner: Turner Writes Down $400 Million in Programming Costs. Also, Reportedly Top Programming Exec No Longer in Running to Head Up TBS and TNT (Variety, Deadline)

Turner Broadcasting has taken a write-down of $400 million on programming expenditures, reports our good friend Cynthia Littleton for Variety.

The story continues, “Sources say a significant portion of the write-down is coming from two megabuck off-network acquisitions that have been disappointing performers for TNT: ‘Hawaii Five-O,’ from CBS’ syndie arm, and ‘The Mentalist,’ from Warner Bros.

“Turner paid a whopping $2.5 million an episode back in 2009 to snag ‘Mentalist’ rights; the show is about to head into its seventh and final season. ‘Hawaii Five-O,’ now in its fifth season on CBS, is believed to have grabbed about $2 million an episode in a 2011 deal with TNT.”

Littleton also writes, “As recently as earlier this month, former Fox and NBC executive Kevin Reilly was seen as a lock to fill the leadership void at TNT and TBS left by the departures this year of entertainment chief Steve Koonin and programming prez Michael Wright. Now, sources confirm that Turner and Reilly have mutually decided to part ways.”

As Littleton notes, the news about Reilly was first broken by Nellie Andreeva at, which is a sibling publication of Variety. Littleton also says that Turner would not comment on either the write-down nor the executive search.

Turner Broadcasting System


Oct 17, 2014
1:44 pm

Family of Actress Found Dead Accuses Police of Racism; Well-Known Actress Says Misty Upham Feared She Would Be Murdered (Washington Post, CBS News)

The family of actress Misty Upham, who was found dead Thursday in a wooded area in a Seattle suburb, is lashing out at authorities over their handling of the case, The Washington Post reports.

Meanwhile, an actress who along with Upham was part of the award-winning ensemble cast of “August: Osage County” suggested that foul play was involved and said Upham feared she might be murdered, according to a CBS News story.

Upham’s cause of death remains under investigation, although a police spokesman said Thursday, “At this point we do not have any evidence or information to believe there is foul play.”

The body of Upham, 32, “was found at the bottom of a steep cliff in in a densely wooded area of Auburn, Wash., on Thursday, a spokeswoman for the family confirmed,” the Post story reports.

The actress “was first reported missing by her father on Oct. 6, a day after she was last seen leaving her sister’s apartment on the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation in Auburn,” the report notes. “At the time, police said that they did not consider Upham to be ‘endangered,’ nor did they consider her disappearance to be suspicious.”

Upham’s body was reportedly found by a search party made up of her friends and family members. Tracy Rector, a family friend who has been acting as a spokesperson for the family, indicated that the family is convinced authorities didn’t do enough.

“The family pleaded for the police department to look for her; they pleaded for dogs,” Rector said today in an interview with The Post, in which she noted ongoing tensions between police and residents of the Muckleshoot Reservation.

“Unfortunately, it feels like 1950s racism in many ways,” Rector said in the interview. “The family is concerned that Misty was considered just another Native person and treated as such. Even that is unacceptable. Native lives matter. It doesn’t matter what her skin color was.”

Auburn Police Commander Steve Stocker acknowledged that his officers did not put together a search party for Upham, The Post notes. But he added: “We felt like we put effort into it; the family obviously doesn’t believe that the efforts were enough but we handled it as we felt was appropriate.”

Meanwhile, CBS News reports that actress Juliette Lewis, who worked with Upham in “August: Osage County,” took to Twitter to express her views on the case, tweeting: “#RIPMistyUpham I am in shock and greif. I pray the police do a murder investigation. They’re saying not ‘foul play’ when ofcourse it is.”

In a subsequent tweet, Lewis wrote: “Misty told me about horrible violence she suffered on NA reservations She felt she coul be murdered! Bcuz she was vocal #ThisIsNOTaSUICIDE”

misty upham

Misty Upham

Oct 17, 2014
1:37 pm

Susan Sarandon to Play Iconic Sex Symbol’s Mentally Ill Mother (Deadline)

Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon has lined up an enticing role in an upcoming TV project for Lifetime, reports. Sarandon, who won an Academy Award in 1996 for her lead role in “Dead Man Walking,” will play sex symbol Marilyn Monroe’s mother in “Marilyn.”

The four-hour miniseries is set to premiere in 2015.

“Sarandon will play Marilyn Monroe’s mentally ill mother,” the story reports. “Based on bestselling book ‘The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe’ by J. Randy Taraborrelli, the biopic will center on Marilyn, who walks red carpets in shimmering gowns while fighting a battle against demons she’s inherited from her mother, whom she loves, hates and wants desperately to save. Marilyn becomes the Face and Voice of an era, yet wants most of all to be someone’s mother and someone’s little girl.”

The project was written by Stephen Kronish, who also wrote “The Kennedys,” the report notes.

Sarandon has had a few iconic roles of her own, including “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Bull Durham” and “Thelma & Louise.”

susan sarandon

Susan Sarandon

Oct 17, 2014
1:31 pm

Thursday Ratings: New Broadcast Shows Lose Ground (TVbytheNumbers)

Two broadcast networks broke away from the pack Thursday night as week four of the fall season saw reality beginning to set in for some of the latest shows hoping to usher in a new era of must-see Thursday nights.

Citing Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo, reports that ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder,” NBC’s “Bad Judge” and Fox’s “Gracepoint” all lost ground from their results a week ago.

Meanwhile, CBS rolled to its expected easy victory on the strength of “Thursday Night Football.” The Jets-Patriots showdown had a preliminary 3.9 average rating in viewers 18-49, up a tick from a 3.8 for last week’s game. The report notes that the football numbers are subject to more than the usual adjustments due to the nature of live programming.

While not quite matching CBS’s results, ABC found itself a safe distance ahead of the pack as well, with its drama lineup continuing to produce solid numbers. “Grey’s Anatomy” equaled its 2.4 average in 18-49 from a week ago while “Scandal” dipped 3% to a 2.9. “How to Get Away with Murder” was off 13% with a 2.7.

Univision, Fox and NBC finished in a three-way tie for third place in the 18-49 demo with 1.2 averages for prime time overall. Fox’s “Bones” matched its 1.6 average from last week, but “Gracepoint” fell 11% to a 0.8.

NBC had one of the few shows to improve on a week ago, with “The Biggest Loser” ticking up 8% from its series low to register a 1.3 average in adults 18-49. “Bad Judge” fell one-tenth of a point to a 1.2, while “A to Z” and “Parenthood” both matched last week’s ratings — a 1.0 for “A to Z” and a 1.3 for “Parenthood.”

For prime time overall, CBS led the pack in the 18-49 demo with a 3.6 average, followed by ABC (2.7 average), Univision, Fox and NBC (all with 1.2 averages) and CW (0.7). CBS led total viewers with 11.9 million, ahead of ABC (9.3 million), Fox (5.1 million), NBC (4.3 million), Univision (3.0 million) and CW (1.6 million).


Oct 17, 2014
1:27 pm

NBC Snags Medical Drama From Amy Brenneman (Variety)

NBC has just landed a drama project focusing on a female heart transplant surgeon, with Amy Brenneman and writer Jill Gordon behind the scenes, Variety reports. Brenneman is well-known for her acting and her work as creator and star of “Judging Amy,” but will remain strictly in a producing role on the new project, the report notes.

The show is inspired by “Heart Matters: A Memoir of a Female Heart Surgeon,” a 2010 book by Kathy Magliato.

“The TV adaptation is envisioned as a dramedy blending medical procedural stories with a character study of a brilliant but flawed, highly competitive surgeon,” Variety reports. “Drama vet Gordon is writing the script adaptation and will exec produce with Brenneman, Brad Silberling, Kelly Meyer, Susan Carlson and Eric Carlson. Magliato will be a co-exec producer should the project be ordered to pilot.”

amy brenneman

Amy Brenneman

Oct 17, 2014
9:51 am

Former Screen Actors Guild President Dead (TheWrap)

A former president of the Screen Actors Guild and longtime leader of SAG-AFTRA has died. reports that Sumi Haru died Thursday at 75.

Haru was a national board member of both SAG and AFTRA, serving multiple terms going back to 1974.

“She received SAG’s Ralph Morgan Award, which is bestowed upon recipients for distinguished service to SAG’s Hollywood Division,” the report notes. “In 2013, Haru was elected for a two-year term as a member of the first elected national board after the merger of SAG-AFTRA.”

SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard released a statement saying: “It is with great sadness that our SAG-AFTRA family says goodbye to Sumi Haru. Sumi notably represented SAG-AFTRA and its predecessor unions for decades on our local and national boards, and as Screen Actors Guild recording secretary and interim president. Sumi served our members through her lifelong dedication to actors, the labor movement, and civil rights and equal employment. She did that with conviction, passion and grace. Our deepest condolences go out to her loved ones. We will miss her.”

Haru published her memoirs, “Iron Lotus: Memoirs of Sevilla Haru,” in 2012.

Oct 17, 2014
9:44 am

Goodbye, House of Blues: Massive Renovation Under Way on Sunset Strip (THR)

The House of Blues is just one of the West Hollywood landmarks earmarked for demolition as part of a massive renovation taking place on the fabled Sunset Strip, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Replacing the famed rock ‘n’ roll club, along with Larry Flint’s Hustler Hollywood store and other businesses, will be luxury hotels, condos and chic restaurants, as “Sunset Strip goes upscale,” THR reports.

“Moving in are various luxury hotels such as the James Los Angeles and the first West Coast location of Marriott’s Edition brand, condos from AECOM and Combined Properties and restaurants including a chic sushi joint from chef Akira Back,” the story reports.

The piece adds: “The James Los Angeles will mark the strip’s first ground-up hotel in 30 years, followed closely by the Edition, a Marriott property developed by Ian Schrager.”

To see a map detailing a number of the projects that are in the works, please click on the link at the top of this story to go to the THR report.

house of blues-sunset strip

Oct 17, 2014
9:37 am

Remake of Classic Show About a Father-Son Relationship Coming to Fox (Deadline)

A classic sitcom from the late 1960s and early 1970s is getting an update in a new project in the works at Fox. reports that the network has a new single-camera comedy based on the father-son story “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.”

The new project comes from Warner Bros. TV and Conan O’Brien’s Conaco, and co-stars Willie Garson of “White Collar,” who is also producing. The project is written and executive produced by Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett.

The original series, based on a 1963 Glenn Ford-Ron Howard movie, starred Bill Bixby as the dad and Brandon Cruz as Eddie, his young son. The show aired for three seasons on ABC, from 1969-1972.

The new project is based on the ABC series.

“Married duo Levin and Flackett teamed for the re-imagining with their longtime friend Garson as the redo also is inspired by Garson’s own experience as an adoptive single father and his ‘best friends’ approach to raising his adopted son,” the report notes. “Levin, Flackett and Garson will co-write the story together, with Levin and Flackett writing the teleplay.”

courtship of eddie's father

Oct 17, 2014
9:31 am

TV News Vehicle Stolen at Gunpoint During Vigil for Murder Victim (B&C)

A local TV station had a news vehicle stolen at gunpoint while its crew was covering a prayer vigil for the victim of a fatal shooting.

B&C reports that a gunman took the vehicle from a reporter and photographer for Indianapolis station WXIN-TV during a vigil on Oct. 14. “The vigil, on the city’s east side, was for Dominic Amey, Jr., who’d been fatally shot,” the story reports. “Some felt the perpetrator was attempting to intimidate the media.”

Jacqueline Beasley, the mother of the shooting victim, told the station: “I feel like it was the same perpetrator that did this to my son that also done this to you guys, and he was trying to send a subliminal message and using that as a scare tactic. But we’re not scared.”

WXIN, a Fox affiliate, is owned by Tribune.

The vehicle was recovered a few blocks away soon after the incident, B&C notes. “Evidence was recovered from the vehicle, reported, including a BB gun that resembled a .45 pistol,” the report adds.

The station’s crew was not harmed in the incident, the piece notes.


Oct 17, 2014
9:29 am

Charlie Sheen Calls Off Engagement, Splits With Former Porn Star (E! News)

“Anger Management” star Charlie Sheen and his fiancee have called off their engagement. The couple’s wedding was due to take place next month.

E! News reports that it has confirmed that Sheen and former porn star Brett Rossi have split up.

In a statement to E! News, Sheen referred to Rossi by her nickname Scotty, saying: “Scotty and I had a great year together as we traveled the world and crossed a lot of things off our bucket list. She’s a terrific gal — but we’ve mutually decided to go our separate ways and not spend the rest of our lives together.”

Sheen also indicated he intends to focus more on his children than on romance.

The report notes that the couple went public with their relationship last November, and announced their engagement in February after a Valentine’s Day proposal by Sheen.

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