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TVBIZWIRE
May 29, 2017
2:26 pm
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Frank Deford, Extraordinary Sportswriter and Longtime Sports Commentator for NPR, Dies at 78. One of the Best Journalists Ever (CBS News; AP; THR; Sports Illustrated; NPR; Over Time by Frank Deford)

“Legendary sports writer Frank Deford has died,”  CBS News and the Associated Press report, adding “He was 78.”

The story continues, “His wife, Carol Deford, says that he died Sunday in Key West, Florida.

“Deford was a six-time Sports Writer of the Year and a member of the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame. He wrote with a lyrical elegance and was best known for his work at Sports Illustrated and on National Public Radio. He retired this month from NPR’s “Morning Edition” after 37 years as a contributor.

“He was the first sports writer awarded the National Humanities Medal. In 2013, President Barack Obama honored him for ‘transforming how we think about sports.’ Deford called the award the one he is most proud of. Deford was a prolific book author and contributed commentaries to HBO’s ‘Real Sports’ program.”

Notes The Hollywood Reporter, “[Deford’s] most personal work was 1984’s ‘Alex: The Life of a Child.’ Deford penned it in memory of his daughter, who died of cystic fibrosis in 1980. It was adapted into a 1986 ABC telefilm with Craig T. Nelson portraying Deford and Bonnie Belinda his wife. Deford was a lifelong advocate in the fight against the disease, serving as chairman of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation from 1982 until 1999.”

THR also says, “Undoubtedly, Deford’s most ambitious and frustrating undertaking was The National. Describing it as the biggest gamble of his life, the five-times-a-week tabloid was envisioned as America’s ultimate sports publication.”

The paper, started in January, 1990, closed in June, 1991.

To read the piece that Deford considered his best, “The Boxer and the Blonde,” written in 1985 for Sports Illustrated, please click here.

Here’s Deford’s farewell commentary for NPR, which he broadcast earlier this month, on May 3rd:

In 2012, Deford wrote the book “Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter.”

He closed that memoir with this story about Red Auerbach, the fabled coach of the Boston Celtics, in the 1960s. At that time, Deford noted, the NBA didn’t have a national TV contract, “but during the playoff finals, for the Sunday afternoon games, one of the networks would show up, cherry-picking on the cheap. So it was that when the Celtics beat the Lakers again to win another championship, a little production assistant rushed down onto the court and buttonholed Auerbach.

“I had already left my seat at the courtside press table and was standing there with Auerbach, as he brandished his victory cigar for the crowd. Breathlessly, the TV boy asked Red to come up to the television booth immediately. Red looked down on the kid, and disdain filled his face. ‘Where were you in February?’ he asked, waving him off with his cigar.

“The little fellow was speechless, totally discombobulated.

“‘I said,’ Red went on, more stridently, ‘where the fuck were you in February?’ Then, gloriously, he threw his other arm around me. ‘I’m going with my writers,’ he declared, and we marched off the court that way, Red and I, together.

“It was the last hurrah for the press. After that, it was the media.”

Frank Deford on CNN in 2012

TVBIZWIRE
May 27, 2017
2:09 pm
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Legendary Rocker Gregg Allman Dies at 69

“Gregg Allman, a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, the incendiary group that inspired and gave shape to both the Southern rock and jam-band movements, died [today, Saturday, May 27th, 2017] at his home in Savannah, Ga.,” reports The New York Times, adding “He was 69.”

The Times continues, “His death was announced in a statement on Mr. Allman’s official website. No cause was given, but the statement said he had ‘struggled with many health issues over the past several years.’”

The story adds, “The band’s lead singer and keyboardist, Mr. Allman was one of the principal architects of a taut, improvisatory fusion of blues, jazz, country and rock that — streamlined by inheritors like Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Marshall Tucker Band — became the Southern rock of the 1970s.”

Reports Billboard, Gregg, “with his late brother, Duane… composed such classics as ‘Midnight Rider,’ ‘Melissa’ and the epic concert jam ‘Whipping Post…’  [Gregg] was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 1999 and underwent a liver transplant in 2010.”

The Billboard story adds, “The Allman Brothers Band first reached the Billboard 200 albums chart with its self-titled debut in 1970. Over the next 34 years, the group charted 24 more albums, including four top 10 sets. It topped the list once, with ‘Brothers and Sisters,’ which reached No. 1 for five weeks in 1973.

“The group also landed 10 Billboard Hot 100 hits between 1971-1981. It earned its best showing with ‘Ramblin Man,’ which reached No. 2 in October 1973, and reached the top 40 two more times with ‘Crazy Love’ (No. 29, 1979) and ‘Straight From the Heart’ (No. 39, 1981). The band also logged a No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock Songs chart in 1990 with ‘Good Clean Fun.’ In total, since Nielsen Music began tracking point-of-sale music purchases in 1991, Allman Brothers Band have sold 9.3 million albums in the U.S.”

To read more details about Gregg Allman, please click here, which will take you to The New York Times obituary, or here, which will take you to the Billboard story.

In this video clip the Allman Brothers Band perform “Good Clean Fun” during a 1990 episode of “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” (Courtesy YouTube)

TVBIZWIRE
May 26, 2017
4:25 pm
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MSNBC Chief Extends His Deal as the Cable Net Celebrates Historic Ratings (THR)

The president of MSNBC, where the early days of the Trump administration have been good for ratings, isn’t going anywhere soon. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Phil Griffin just signed a new contract to stay on the job.

MSNBC hasn’t made an official announcement and the terms have not been revealed; the report cites a source with knowledge of the deal.

“The news comes as MSNBC has seen its fortunes rise for its coverage of the early chaotic days of the Trump administration,” THR reports. “To be sure, all three of the top cable news networks were up in the first quarter of the year. But MSNBC has bested even perennial leader Fox News Channel in the all-important 25-54 demographic during primetime in recent days. And ‘The Rachel Maddow Show’ has been the No. 1 cable news program since March.”

Griffin, who has been with MSNBC since its launch, became president in 2008.

TVBIZWIRE
May 26, 2017
4:08 pm
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Movie’s Gender-Exclusive Screenings Cause a Ruckus Online
(Washington Post, TVWeek, Facebook, Warner Bros.)

A movie opening next week that is expected to be one of the summer’s blockbusters is at the center of an Internet frenzy after a theater in Texas announced that it will hold screenings exclusively for women.

The theater chain Alamo Drafthouse in Austin announced plans for a screening of Warner Bros.’ new Gal Gadot movie “Wonder Woman” on June 6, sending out a message saying: “Apologies, gentlemen, but we’re embracing our girl power and saying ‘No Guys Allowed’ for one special night at the Alamo Ritz. And when we say ‘People Who Identify As Women Only,’ we mean it. Everyone working at this screening — venue staff, projectionist, and culinary team — will be female.”

The announcement adds: “So lasso your geeky girlfriends together and grab your tickets to this celebration of one of the most enduring and inspiring characters ever created.” The theater later added a second screening.

The Washington Post reports that the announcement has been shared on Facebook more than 1,500 times, and not all of the attention has been positive.

“The screening drew praise from some men, but it also provoked an outpouring of anger from others who flooded the theater’s Facebook page to label the event ‘sexist,'” The Post reports.

One Facebook user wrote: “If women are entitled to exclusivity and a sense of togetherness, then so are men. If you don’t provide the experience people are looking for, others will, and frankly, with that attitude, I’m glad you’re not going to be the ones making that money.”

But many commenters defended the screenings, while others mocked those who were up in arms about them. Wrote one user: “Came here to see fragile masculinity and whining, was not disappointed at all. Hey Alamo can you do more of these sorts of things? I like laughing at men who are threatened by women getting to have their own lives without constant male presence 24/7.”

The theater added its own voice to the debate, writing: “This has zip to do with equality. This is a celebration of a character that’s meant a great deal to many women since 1940.”

The movie opens June 2.

TVBIZWIRE
May 26, 2017
3:37 pm
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Company Says It’s Changing Its Marketing Strategy After Getting Backlash Over ‘Hannity’ Decision (AP, TVWeek)

One company that has become caught up in the controversy swirling around the Fox News show “Hannity” indicated it will change its marketing approach moving forward.

“Financial services firm USAA, facing a backlash to its decision to pull advertising from Sean Hannity’s show … says it is withdrawing from other opinion-based television programs,” the AP reports. “The company, which sells insurance and other products to members of the U.S. military, veterans and their families, had cited its aversion to opinionated programming in backing away from Hannity.”

The talk show has drawn scorn from the left for the host’s focus on a discredited story about a murdered Democratic National Committee staffer, as we reported previously.

“The conservative watchdog Media Research Center noted that USAA ads had run in recent weeks on left-leaning shows hosted by Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell and Chris Matthews on MSNBC,” the AP reports. “The ads were placed in error and that mistake is being corrected, said Roger Wildermuth, USAA spokesman.”

“Since the liberal advocacy group Media Matters for America posted a list of more than 150 of Hannity’s advertisers earlier this week, nine companies have said they no longer wanted to be sponsors,” the AP notes.

TVBIZWIRE
May 26, 2017
3:21 pm
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Rock Band Cancels Show at Site of Terrorist Attack; Ariana Grande Responds to Attack
(AP, TVWeek, Vevo)

In the wake of a terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, that killed 22 people, the rock band KISS has canceled its scheduled May 30 concert at Manchester Arena, where the attack took place.

Live Nation announced today that the concert will not take place, the AP reports. An event planned at the arena by World Wrestling Entertainment was also reportedly canceled.

In a statement, band members Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer said they are “heartbroken by the atrocity committed against the innocent victims of Manchester.”

Meanwhile, Grande, who suspended her Dangerous Woman world tour and canceled a number of European concerts, “has vowed to return to Manchester, England, to give a concert to raise money for the victims of Monday’s deadly bombing at her show there,” the AP reports separately.

“In a statement both defiant and heavy with emotion, the pop star on Friday wrote to her fans, saying ‘we won’t let hate win’ and ‘we won’t let this divide us,'” the AP reports. “She apologized for any pain and offered to ‘extend my hand and heart and everything I possibly can give to you and yours.'”

Grande’s statement adds: “Our response to this violence must be to come closer together, to help each other, to love more, to sing louder and to live more kindly and generously than we did before.”

TVBIZWIRE
May 26, 2017
1:44 pm
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Actor Known for Role on ‘Dallas’ Dead at 75 (AP, TVWeek, YouTube)

An actor who was a fan favorite on the 1980s prime-time soap opera “Dallas” has died. The AP reports that Jared Martin died Wednesday at his home in Philadelphia after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 75.

Martin played the charming cowboy Dusty Farlow on “Dallas.” Earlier in his career he played Varian on “The Fantastic Journey” in 1977, Frank Grayson on “How the West Was Won” from 1978-1979 and Harrison Blackwood on “War of the Worlds” from 1988-1990.

He also had guest appearances on many TV shows, most recently on “L.A. Law” in 1993.

In addition to being the lover of Sue Ellen, played by Linda Gray, on “Dallas,” Martin’s character was among the suspects in the celebrated 1980 mystery over who shot J.R. Ewing.

“Farlow was supposed to be a temporary character on the show, and supposedly died in a plane crash, but he proved so popular that he was reintroduced,” the AP notes. “Fans called him ‘Lusty Dusty.'”

Here’s a clip featuring Martin as Dusty with Gray as Sue Ellen on “Dallas” …

TVBIZWIRE
May 26, 2017
1:19 pm
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One of the Stars of NBC’s ‘Chicago P.D.’ Is Leaving the Show (Deadline, TVWeek)

“Chicago P.D.,” one of the three NBC “Chicago” dramas that have been renewed, will have to carry on without series star Sophia Bush. Nellie Andreeva reports in an exclusive on Deadline.com that Bush, who has played Det. Erin Lindsay on the series for four seasons, is exiting the cop show.

Bush’s departure follows that of co-creator and showrunner Matt Olmstead, who left the show in March.

“I hear Bush is leaving on her own accord,” Andreeva notes. “A possible exit for the actress was hinted in the recent Season 4 finale of ‘Chicago P.D.,’ which saw her character, Detective Erin Lindsay, on the verge of accepting a job with the FBI in New York. The episode ended with a cliffhanger, with Lindsay standing on a bridge, ignoring Jay’s (Jesse Lee Soffer) call.”

Bush, who is also well-known for her long run as Brooke Davis on “One Tree Hill,” may return to “Chicago P.D.” in a guest role to wrap up her character’s story, Andreeva adds. The report notes that the series is contemplating bringing aboard another prominent female cast member.

As we reported this week, “Chicago Justice” was canceled after its recent freshman season, while the other three shows in the Dick Wolf franchise, “Chicago P.D.,” “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago Med,” have all been renewed.

TVBIZWIRE
May 26, 2017
12:57 pm
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Almost All Viewing in U.S. by People 18 and Older Is Still Done on the TV Screen — Nielsen Crunches the Numbers (Nielsen)

A new analysis by The Nielsen Company may surprise people who think video consumption is rapidly shifting to mobile devices and computers. Nielsen’s examination of data in its Comparable Metrics Report for the fourth quarter of 2016 determined that more than 92% of all viewing by U.S. adults — age 18 and up — takes place on the TV screen.

The total share of gross minutes spent viewing directly on a television set was 82.1%, with another 10.3% allotted to TV-connected devices. Combining those figures, the total share for TV screens was 92.4%.

In contrast, the so-called “digital revolution” appears to have barely gotten off the ground. The analysis found that 5.1% of viewing took place on computers, with another 1.8% on smartphones and just 0.7% on tablets.

Peter Katsingris, senior VP of Audience Insights for Nielsen, commented: “What we found was that contrary to the popular narrative that smaller screens were taking away time from the TV glass, when we looked deeper we found that overall time spent viewing on the TV had the most minutes among every age or ethnic demographic looked at. In some cases the share of viewing was as much as 97%.”

TVBIZWIRE
May 26, 2017
11:31 am
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CBS Show Sets 29-Year Viewership Mark (TVWeek)

With the numbers coming in for the 2016-2017 TV season, CBS tallied up the viewers who tuned in for “CBS This Morning” and announced that the show delivered the network’s best audience for a morning news program in at least 29 years — since the advent of people meters in 1987.

Citing Nielsen most current ratings, the network says “CBS This Morning” is the only broadcast morning news program to post growth in viewers over last year.

“Since the program launched in the 2011-2012 season, the audience for ‘CBS This Morning’ has grown a whopping 46%, while NBC and ABC have declined -18% and -8% respectively,” CBS says in its announcement. “Also in five years, ‘CTM’ is up +5% in the key adults 25-54 demo, while both NBC (-29%) and ABC (-25%) are down double digits.”

“For the 2016-2017 television season, ‘CBS This Morning’ delivered 3.68 million viewers, putting CBS in its closest competitive position with NBC’s ‘Today’ in at least 29 years and with ABC in 18 years,” the network adds. “On some recent days this season the gap with NBC’s ‘Today’ has been less than 150,000 viewers, down from nearly 3 million when ‘CTM’ launched five years ago.”

The two-hour program features Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell.

“CBS This Morning”

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