Jan 29, 2015
3:18 pm

Quick, Name the Most Romantic Mini-Series Ever Shown on TV. We Said ‘The Thorn Birds.’ Its Popularity Was Astounding. Colleen McCullough, Who Wrote the Bestselling Novel the Program Was Based Upon, Has Died at Age 77 (NY Times; NBC Bay Area)

“Colleen McCullough, 77, a former neurophysiological researcher at Yale who, deciding to write novels in her spare time, produced “The Thorn Birds,” a multigenerational Australian romance that became an international best seller and inspired a hugely popular television mini-series, died on Thursday on Norfolk Island in the South Pacific, where she had made her home for more than 30 years,” reports The New York Times.

The story adds, “The cause was believed to have been kidney failure, her agent, Michael V. Carlisle, said. Ms. McCullough had been in declining health with a variety of ailments in recent years.”

The novel has sold 30 million copies since it was published in 1977, and has never been out of print.

Richard Chamberlain and Byron Brown were both in the mini-series.

Here are some comments from both of them from a 2013 interview we found on a Bay Area site:

Richard Chamberlain: I took my parents to Switzerland once and we were way on the top of some mountain and some Swiss person came up and said, ‘Oh, “The Thorn Birds…”‘ And my father was suddenly impressed for the very first time in his life. He said, ‘Oh, my God, they know you on a mountaintop in Switzerland. You must be something.’

Bryon Brown: And that is the truth. It is as silly as that: that in the most faraway place and when you don’t look like you in the middle of a ski field and you say something and they go, ‘I love that “Thorn Birds.”‘ And you’re thinking, ‘How the f**k do you know it’s me?’

thorn birds

Jan 29, 2015
1:24 pm

Disney Introduces Its First Latin Princess (TVWeek)

“A Disney princess inspired by Latin cultures, ‘Elena of Avalor,’ will be introduced in 2016 [on an animated series] on Disney Junior channels and programming blocks around the world,” the Disney Channel announced today.

The announcement continues, “The role of 16-year-old Princess Elena, the bold, caring, funny and clever ascendant to the throne in the fairytale kingdom of Avalor, will be voiced by Aimee Carrero (ABC Family’s ‘Young & Hungry’).”

It will be Disney’s first Latina princess.

The announcement also notes that “Princess Elena of Avalor, a confident and compassionate teenager in an enchanted fairytale kingdom inspired by diverse Latin cultures and folklore, will be introduced in a special episode of Disney Junior’s hit series ‘Sofia the First’ beginning production now for a 2016 premiere. That exciting story arc will usher in the 2016 launch of the animated series ‘Elena of Avalor,’ a production of Disney Television Animation. The announcement was made today by Nancy Kanter, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Disney Junior Worldwide.

Kanter herself says, in the announcement, “Our creative team has delivered a universal story with themes that authentically reflect the hopes and dreams of our diverse audience. What excites us most is the chance to use distinctive animation and visual design to tell wonderful stories influenced by culture and traditions that are familiar to the worldwide population of Hispanic and Latino families and reflect the interests and aspirations of all children as told through a classic fairy tale.”

princess elenaPrincess Elena


Jan 29, 2015
10:17 am

Time Warner Cable Posts Decline in Video Subs (Bloomberg, WSJ)

Time Warner Cable missed its profit targets and posted a decline in pay-TV subscriptions in the fourth quarter, Bloomberg reports.

The company, which is anticipating approval for its merger with Comcast Corp., did gain 54,000 “overall residential customer relationships,” The Wall Street Journal notes. “High-speed data customers grew by 168,000, while voice customers increased by 295,000. Video customers, however, declined by 38,000,” The Journal reports.

The results appear in the company’s fourth-quarter earnings report.

Bloomberg reports: “Fourth-quarter earnings, excluding some items, increased 12 percent to $2.03 a share, falling short of the $2.09 average of analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales rose 3.8 percent to $5.79 billion, the New York-based company said in a statement. Analysts projected revenue of $5.81 billion.”

Jan 29, 2015
10:16 am

Keeping Up with the Kardashians: Is Bruce Jenner Going to Star in His Own Show Where He Will Reveal He is Transgender? (Variety, Washington Post)

The “journey” of Bruce Jenner, a former Olympic star and the recently divorced husband of Kardashian matriarch Kris Jenner, is the focus of a new docuseries in development at E!, reports Variety.

Bruce Jenner “has generated considerable speculation in the tabloid press that he is on the verge of revealing he is transgender,” the report adds. “The development process has gone as far as the head of publicity at E! planning a meeting with GLAAD about how to handle such a sensitive subject.”

Reps for E! declined to comment for the story, Variety notes.

The report quotes an insider close to the production saying of the still untitled project: “It’s in the very beginning stages, but it’s a go.”

Reports the Washington Post, “On Friday, US Weekly’s new cover story will report that Jenner, 65, ‘is taking steps to disclose what multiple sources describe as his wish to transition from male to female.’ The magazine says that Jenner’s announcement will be for the cameras, as he’s currently filming an E! reality show documenting ‘full transformation.’ TMZ also reported the same news.


Jan 29, 2015
10:10 am

Based on the Track Record of the Writer-Executive Producer, ABC Hoping that New Pilot Will Be a Flesh and Blood Hit (Variety)

ABC is hoping that an upcoming drama project is as close to a sure thing as they can hope for, if the successful track record of its creator is an indication. Variety reports that the network has ordered the pilot “Flesh and Blood,” written and executive produced by Jenna Bans.

Bans has already written close to 20 episodes of various hit dramas for ABC, including “Scandal,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Desperate Housewives.”

Bans will executive produce the new show with Mandeville Television’s David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Laurie Zaks, the report notes. The project comes from ABC Studios.

The plot revolves around the reappearance of the son of a politician who went missing a decade earlier and was presumed dead, the story notes.


Jan 29, 2015
10:05 am

CBS Will Make ‘Limitless” Pilot. The Question is Whether the TV Version Will Be At Least as Smart as the Hit Movie, Or Will It be Dumbed-Down

CBS is doing its part to keep up the flow of TV versions of hit feature films. The latest is the 2011 Bradley Cooper thriller “Limitless,” with The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reporting that the network has ordered a pilot for the project.

The TV version has been percolating for some time. CBS made what the story calls a “hefty production commitment” to the “Limitless” project back in October, when the TV version had already been in the works for about a year.

Here’s what we know about the changes being made to the story-line in “Limitless.” In the book, the main character was named Eddie Spinola. That was changed in the movie to Eddie Morra. In the TV version the main character’s name will be Brian Sinclair.

The conceit of both the book and movie is that the main character takes a new designer drug that, to put it mildly, stimulates brain function. But there are really bad side effects. The character uses his increased brain power to make a lot of money.

The movie was a hit, though a number of critics said it wasn’t smart enough. It will be interesting to see what critics and viewers alike will think of the TV version. In it, the main character, now named Brian Sinclair, takes the drug and “is coerced into using his newfound drug-enhanced abilities to solve weekly cases for the FBI,” according to THR.

For the TV version Cooper is on board as an executive producer, along with his partner in Yet To Be Named Co., Todd Phillips, and Relativity Television’s Ryan Kavanaugh, Tucker Tooley and Tom Forman, the report notes. Relativity Media made the movie version.

Neil Burger, who directed the movie, is scheduled to direct the pilot.

Cooper is not expected to appear on screen.

Other TV versions of feature films already announced include “Rush Hour,” also at CBS, and “Minority Report,” in the works at Fox.


Jan 28, 2015
9:31 pm

OMG. Check Out This Cast, Coming To a TV Near You, in a Single Series: Elizabeth Banks, Bradley Cooper, Jon Hamm, Janeane Garofalo, Christopher Meloni, David Hyde Pierce, Chris Pine, Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Richard Schiff, Jason Schwartzman, Molly Shannon, John Slattery and Kristen Wiig. And That’s Only a Partial Cast List (

This is all from our good friend Nellie Andreeva,’s TV reporter extraordinaire. All of these folks will appear in the limited series “Wet Hot American Summer” sometime during its 8-episode run on Netflix.

As the story notes, “The 2001 cult film was set on the last day at a fictional Jewish summer camp in 1981; the series is set on the first day.” The series is expected to be on Netflix this summer.



Jan 28, 2015
8:53 pm

Do You Remember That 18-Minute Phone Call From Hell Last Summer, When a Comcast Customer Service Rep Would Not Let a Subscriber Cancel His Service? You Are Not Going to Believe What Comcast Customer Service Did This Time! (Wired; YouTube)

“Comcast probably doesn’t relish being one of those companies that many Americans love to hate. But sometimes, the cable giant makes this way too easy.”

So writes Robert McMillan on the website of Wired. He continues:

“Consider the case of Ricardo Brown. After Brown’s wife had a disagreement with the cable company recently, Comcast started sending him monthly statements under the name ‘Asshole Brown.’

The story notes that Ricardo’s wife, Lisa, says “I was never rude.” After she was transferred to one of Comcast’s retention specialists, she was made an offer to keep her Comcast service, which she declined to do. Says Lisa,“It could have been that person was upset because I didn’t take the offer.”

The story then notes, “Comcast spokesman Steve Kipp confirmed the Browns’ story to WIRED. “We have spoken with our customer and apologized for this completely unacceptable and inappropriate name change,” he told us via email. “We have zero tolerance for this type of disrespectful behavior and are conducting a thorough investigation to determine what happened. We are working with our customer to make this right and will take appropriate steps to prevent this from happening again.”

In case you never heard that call last summer between Comcast and its customer that wanted to cancel at the time, here’s a version we found on YouTube. It’s got the last 8 minutes of the call. Wired says that various versions of this call have been listened to more than 6 million times.

Jan 28, 2015
9:30 am

Katie Holmes Coming Back to the Small Screen with a Recurring Role on Acclaimed Pay Cable Drama

A cable drama series that has wowed critics and made an impact on the awards circuit is getting a high-profile guest star. Our good friend Lynette Rice at People magazine reports that Katie Holmes will be a part of season three of Showtime’s “Ray Donovan.”

“Holmes will play a shrewd and chic businesswoman named Paige, the daughter of billionaire producer Andrew Finney (Ian McShane), who enlists Ray’s services,” Rice reports.

The show has been a fixture at awards shows, with Jon Voight winning a Golden Globe and an Emmy nomination for his supporting role. Star Liev Schreiber has two Golden Globe nominations for his work on the show, which was named one of the Most Exciting New Series in 2013 at the Critics’ Choice TV Awards.

Rice also notes that Holmes will also “reprise her role as Jackie Kennedy…in ‘The Kennedys: After Camelot’ for Reelz Channel.


Jan 28, 2015
9:29 am

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