Jun 28, 2017
6:03 pm

CBS News Launches New Prime-Time Series (TVWeek)

CBS announced today that its news division is launching a new prime-time series that will feature immersive reports from around the world. “CBSN: On Assignment” will premiere Monday, July 31, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS television and digital platforms.

The hourlong program will run on four consecutive Mondays, and will also stream live on CBSN, CBS News’ 24/7 streaming news service.

CBS describes the show as a “primetime summer series featuring experiential reports driven by fresh voices and perspectives from around the world.”

“Each hourlong edition will feature multiple stories, ranging from on-the-ground reporting of grassroots efforts to combat inner-city gun violence to interviews with those risking their lives to expose corruption to investigations into new terrorist threats,” the network says in its announcement.

Said executive producer Mosheh Oinounou: “‘CBSN: On Assignment’ will take viewers on a thought-provoking journey featuring compelling stories from around the globe. The stories are intense, interesting and immersive.”

Added Nancy Lane, Senior Executive Producer for CBS News Digital: “This is an opportunity to showcase the voices and original storytelling from CBSN to an entirely new audience. Our long-form programming enhances our live, anchored coverage throughout the day.”

Jun 28, 2017
5:37 pm

Used ‘Star Wars’ Droid Sells for Astronomical Price (AP)

A droid that was featured in a number of “Star Wars” movies sold at auction for an out-of-this-world price: nearly $3 million.

The AP reports that the California-based auction house Profiles in History sold the 43-inch-tall R2-D2 unit for $2.76 million. The droid was built from parts used throughout production on the original “Star Wars” trilogy.

“There was no information about who purchased the droid, which was the most expensive item offered in a movie memorabilia auction that included numerous props from the ‘Star Wars’ franchise,” the AP reports. “Other items up for sale included Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber from the first two films, which sold for $450,000, and Darth Vader’s helmet from the original film sold for $96,000.”

A collection of 23 ships from “Battlestar Galactica” and “Buck Rogers” sold for $1.8 million, the report notes.

Jun 28, 2017
5:26 pm

FX Networks Makes Key Moves in Development and Current Series (TVWeek)

FX Networks announced some moves today on its development and current series teams, which are responsible for all original scripted programming across the company’s suite of networks.

Colette Wilson was promoted to Senior Vice President, Current Series, for FX Networks, Barbara Crawford was promoted to Vice President, Current Series, for FX Networks, and Kevin Wandell was promoted to Vice President, Development, for FX Networks.

The moves were announced by Nick Grad and Eric Schrier, Presidents of Original Programming, FX Networks and FX Productions.

In a statement, Grad and Schrier said: “Colette, Barbara and Kevin have been integral to the growth and success of FX Networks’ slate of original programs and we are happy that they will be playing an even greater role going forward. The extraordinary success of the series they develop and oversee, including last year’s most acclaimed drama series and comedy series, is a testament to their creative instincts, tireless effort and commitment to the ‘Fearless’ storytelling that is the hallmark of FX Networks.”

Please click here to read the full announcement.

Jun 28, 2017
5:11 pm

Late-Night Show Notches the Most-Watched Quarter in Its History (TVWeek)

A late-night program is quietly chalking up some impressive ratings achievements, including its most-watched quarter ever and its most-watched month ever. The program is Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.”

Comedy Central announced results today for the second quarter, noting that June has been the show’s most-watched month of all time in total viewers.

“This past quarter also boasted Noah’s most-watched ever and highest-rated week since his premiere week during the week of May 29 (1.69 million total viewers P2+; 0.82 Adults 18-49 rating),” the network said. “‘The Daily Show’ continues to be the premiere late-night destination for millennials for the seventh consecutive quarter, finishing as the #1 daily, late-night talk show among Men 18-24 and Men 18-34 and #2 among all millennials, behind ‘The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.'”

“The Daily Show’ averaged 1.5 million total viewers in the second quarter of 2017, up 2% vs. the first quarter and up 26% vs. the second quarter of 2016.

“June was Noah’s most-watched month ever averaging 1.54 million total viewers,” Comedy Central noted. “Across the entirety of Noah’s second season at the helm of ‘The Daily Show’ he has posted monthly and quarterly gains vs. year ago levels. Season-to-date, ‘The Daily Show’ is averaging 1.43 million total viewers and a 0.69 Adults 18-49 rating, up double-digits from the year-ago period (+13%, +10%).”

Please click here for more of the numbers and additional details in the Comedy Central announcement.

Jun 28, 2017
12:39 pm

Sarah Palin Sues The New York Times (NY Post)

Former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin filed a lawsuit Tuesday against The New York Times alleging defamation, The New York Post reports.

The suit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, concerns a recent editorial connecting one of Palin’s political action committee ads to the 2011 mass shooting in Arizona in which six people were killed and Democratic lawmaker Gabby Giffords was severely injured, the story reports.

The Post reports that the suit accuses The Times of having “violated the law and its own policies” when it accused Palin — in a “fabricated story” — of inciting the attack. Palin is seeking damages to be determined by a jury.

The Times editorial, which ran June 14, accused Palin of “political incitement” before the Arizona shooting, The Post reports. “The paper said Palin incited th​​e shooting, which left ​congresswoman ​Gabby Gifford​s​ with a severe brain injury, through an ad from her PAC that put ‘Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs,'” The Post reports. “In fact, the ad never put Giffords or any other individual in the cross hairs — forcing the newspaper of record to issue an embarrassing correction.”

Jun 28, 2017
12:27 pm

Trump Creeps Out His Critics With Comments About Female Reporter (TVWeek, Twitter)

Donald Trump sparked a social media freakout when he took time out from a phone call with new Irish leader Leo Varadkar to admire a female reporter who was working the event in the Oval Office.

RTE Washington correspondent Caitriona Perry, one of a number of members of the Irish press who were on hand to cover the phone call, posted a video of the incident on her Twitter account, which you can see by clicking here.

In the clip, Trump can be seen on the phone when he motions for Perry to come up to his desk and offers a series of comments presumably intended as compliments. “She has a nice smile on her face,” he tells Varadkar. “I bet she treats you well.” Perry and others respond with mild laughter and Perry walks away from Trump’s desk.

Perry calls it a “bizarre moment” in her Twitter post, which you can see below. But other Twitter users framed the incident in far more negative terms. Here are a few samples from the comments in response to Perry’s post:

  • “It’s hell to be objectified. When POTUS has no fear of doing that surrounded by cameras… I’m so sorry. Your success is more than a smile.”
  • “Remarks like that in workplace R completely inappropriate. There’s a time & place: discussing one’s attractiveness in workplace is wrong.”
  • “SO very gross! OMG! I am so sad for all the women who must interact with him. SO DISGUSTING! #notmypresident #NOCLASS #PREDATOR”
  • “Do these women have any dignity?… he’s so gross, I’d feign sickness not to see or hear him”
  • “His wife defends him. She should be forced to be around him at all times. The other females have real work to do. Hope Colbert caught that.”
  • “Repulsive. This sexual predator is using his power to blatantly abuse a woman on-camera. Anyone who thinks this is ok needs to wake the F up”
  • “I couldn’t understand what he said. He’s on the level of a 14 yr old boy. Gross.”

Jun 28, 2017
10:59 am

Why a ‘Fast and Furious’ Cast Member Is Threatening to Walk Away From the Hit Film Franchise (TVWeek, Instagram, EW)

One of the regulars from the wildly successful “Fast and Furious” feature film franchise is upset with the series over the relatively low profile of its female characters.

Michelle Rodriguez, who has played Letty in the films since the original movie in 2001, put up a post on her Instagram account in connection with the digital release of the eighth franchise film, “The Fate of the Furious.” In it she wrote: “I hope they decide to show some love to the women of the franchise on the next one. Or I just might have to say goodbye to a loved franchise. It’s been a good ride & Im grateful for the opportunity the fans & studio have provided over the years.”

The post, which you can see below, includes photos of Rodriguez and others on the set.

Rodriguez spoke out strongly on the issue in an interview last month with Entertainment Weekly, in which she said: “Having girls run around and do a bunch of really cool stuff, that’s great, it’s wonderful, but we never talk to each other. It’s very rare that they even look at each other. I’ve been making movies with Jordana [Brewster], who plays the sister of Dom Toretto, for 16 years and I can count on one hand how many lines I’ve had to her. I think that’s pathetic and it’s lack of creativity.”

She added: “Guys don’t know what girls talk about. They think that girls just sit around talking about guys and it’s a sad truth of men being the dominant writers in Hollywood.”

In the EW interview, Rodriguez also suggested “bringing some more women on the good team, not just bringing an amazing actress to play the bad guy, and having more female camaraderie, having women do things independently outside of what the boys are doing — that is truly the voice of female independence.”

Jun 28, 2017
9:57 am

‘Big Bang Theory’ Star’s House Burns Down (TMZ, TVWeek)

One of the stars of the hit CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” lost a house Monday night to fire. Johnny Galecki, who stars as Leonard on the series, had his getaway ranch in San Luis Obispo County burn to the ground in a 1,200-acre wildfire that CalFire is calling the Hill fire, TMZ.com reports.

“Our sources say Johnny hasn’t seen the property since it burned down, and plans to show up when he gets the all clear … so he can salvage anything that was spared,” TMZ reported Tuesday evening.

The fire is near Santa Margarita, north of the city of San Luis Obispo.

Galecki told the publication: “My heart goes out to all in the area who are also experiencing loss from this vicious fire, the threat of which we live with constantly, which may seem crazy to some but we do so because living in our beautiful, rural area makes it worthwhile.”

Jun 28, 2017
8:47 am

New Report Suggests the Reason CNN Retracted Botched Russia Story (NY Post)

In the wake of an embarrassing incident for CNN involving a poorly handled story about a Trump associate’s relationship with the head of a Russian investment fund, a new report suggests that the reason CNN acted quickly to retract the story was that it was facing a possible $100 million libel lawsuit.

“The cable network’s coverage of Trump transition team member Anthony Scaramucci came amid federal scrutiny of corporate parent Time Warner’s pending purchase by AT&T — and the widespread belief among media execs that CNN President Jeff Zucker can’t survive a merger,” The New York Post reports. “CNN immediately caved after Scaramucci, a financier and frequent network guest, cried foul and threatened to take legal action, sources said Tuesday.”

The report cites a source saying that even after Scaramucci received a public apology, he hired a top Manhattan lawyer to keep the heat on CNN and “look after [his] interests in this matter.”

The three journalists who lost their CNN jobs over the incident did not leave voluntarily but were pressured to resign, the story notes, quoting a source saying: “They called them in and said they’d pay out their contracts, but they should leave immediately.”

“Zucker was afraid of facing a high-profile suit from Scaramucci while the U.S. Justice Department weighs the proposed $85.4 billion media merger,” The Post adds. “Meanwhile, a CNN insider said staffers are furious at ‘having lost the moral high ground because of this story.’”

Jun 28, 2017
8:09 am

Sci-Fi Classic That Inspired ‘Star Wars’ Being Developed as TV Series (Deadline, TVWeek)

A classic work from one of the most revered science-fiction authors is in the works for what Mike Fleming Jr., writing on Deadline.com, calls a “sprawling TV series.”

“The Isaac Asimov science-fiction trilogy ‘Foundation’ heavily informed ‘Star Wars’ and many other sci-fi films and TV series, but for decades it has confounded Hollywood attempts at a straight adaptation,” Fleming writes in an exclusive report. “I’m hearing that Skydance, David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman are going to try to crack it. Skydance Television is closing a deal with the Asimov estate to try turning ‘Foundation’ into a sprawling TV series.”

The work was originally published as a series of short stories starting in 1942. The complex story tracks the efforts of mathematician and “psychohistorian” Hari Seldon to save the collective knowledge of humanity, which is strewn about the Milky Way under the control of the Galactic Empire.

“Asimov’s trilogy has been tried numerous times as a feature film, at Fox, Warner Bros (with Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, the guys who greenlit ‘The Lord of the Rings’), and then at Sony with ‘Independence Day’ director Roland Emmerich,” Fleming notes. “Many top sci-fi writers have done scripts. Most recently, HBO tried a series with Emmerich and ‘Interstellar’ co-writer and ‘Westworld’ exec producer Jonathan Nolan.”

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