Jan 23, 2017
12:51 pm

Fox News Cuts Loose a Batch of Contributors, Brings a New Face Aboard
(The Hill, TVWeek, YouTube)

Fox News is shaking up its lineup of contributors, including declining to bring back controversial commentator Stacey Dash. The Hill reports that FNC’s contract with the actress is among several the cable channel has decided not to renew.

The list also includes longtime political commentator George Will and Republican strategist Ed Rollins. The report cites a network spokesperson.

“Veteran journalist Marvin Kalb, 86, and syndicated columnist and radio commentator Cal Thomas, 74, also did not have their contracts renewed by the network,” The Hill reports. “On Friday, Fox announced the signing of former U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage as a contributor. Farage is a major backer of Brexit and outspoken supporter of President Trump.”

Dash, best known as an actress for her role in the 1995 comedy “Clueless” and its TV spinoff, was signed by Fox News in 2014 and appeared mainly on the afternoon show “Outnumbered.” She was involved in a number of controversies at FNC, including being suspended by the network for two weeks after suggesting on the air in December 2015 that President Obama didn’t “give a s–t” about terrorism.

Dash was at the center of another firestorm last year in the midst of the “Oscars so white” controversy, including calling for an end to Black History Month. She made a brief, but awkward, appearance at the 2016 Oscars in an attempt to mine humor from the incident. (See clip below.)

Will, 75, had been with Fox since 2013 after a 30-year run with ABC. The Pulitzer Prize winner made headlines in June of last year when he announced he was leaving the Republican Party because of Donald Trump.

“In 2015 and 2016, Will had periodically feuded with the network’s highest-rated host, Bill O’Reilly, with Will once stating that O’Reilly’s best-selling book, ‘Killing Reagan,’ was ‘nonsensical’ and ‘The Factor’ host calling Will ‘a hack’ in a subsequent interview,” The Hill notes.

Rollins, who came to Fox in 2011 after a run at CNN, was national campaign director for Ronald Reagan in 1984 and currently co-chairs the pro–Trump Great America PAC.

Jan 23, 2017
12:44 pm

Critic’s Notebook: Women’s March on Washington Makes History, Except on Fox News (THR)

Demonstrations around the globe over the weekend drew larger crowds than expected and galvanized anger over the Donald Trump presidency, but Frank Scheck writes in The Hollywood Reporter’s Critic’s Notebook that Fox News didn’t pay much attention.

More than 3 million people around the world reportedly participated in the event Saturday, with the centerpiece being the Women’s March on Washington. But Scheck notes that all three of the major cable news outlets started the day with coverage of a visit by Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to a prayer service at the National Cathedral.

“During the service, if you wanted to see coverage of the Women’s March, you had to turn to C-SPAN,” Scheck notes. “When it was finally over, CNN and MSNBC began their daylong coverage of the protests, which already were exceeding expectations in terms of attendance. If you kept watching Fox News, however, you would barely have known they were happening.”

Scheck’s column adds: “Even while hundreds of thousands of people were peaceably marching in Washington, D.C., and other cities, Fox pretended that nothing special was going on. … And when Fox did finally report on the historic march, it was often in a smug, dismissive tone. Bill Hemmer rhetorically asked, ‘What does it say about Democrats, about liberals, that they refuse to accept reality?’ His co-host, Shannon Bream, cast doubt on the accuracy of the numbers of protesters being reported by the media, which was understandable if she was only watching her own network’s coverage.”

We encourage readers to click here to go to THR to read the full column.

Jan 23, 2017
12:31 pm

Ajit Pai Named FCC Chairman; NAB Endorses Choice (Forbes, B&C)

“In one of his first official acts, President Trump designated Commissioner Ajit Pai as the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission,” Forbes reports. “He is the first newly appointed Republican chairman since Kevin Martin nearly 12 years ago.”

Forbes notes that the selection of Pai, an Obama appointee to the FCC who has been on the panel since May 2012, has prompted questions about the direction of the FCC.

“Until recent years, the FCC was not a partisan agency. Having served with commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Michael O’Rielly, Chairman Pai is not expected to be particularly partisan,” Forbes notes, adding: “It is impossible to predict exactly where Chairman Pai will go with specific future policies such as network neutrality, particular mergers, and the aftermath of the disappointing and flawed broadcaster spectrum auction. But it is easy to describe broad themes of a Chairman Pai: follow the law, less regulation, and a folksy approach to government.”

B&C notes that the National Association of Broadcasters has been supportive of the selection of Pai.

The B&C report quotes NAB President Gordon Smith saying: “Without qualification, NAB supports President Trump’s selection of Ajit Pai to the position of FCC chairman. Ajit Pai is a known quantity who brings integrity, good humor and a fierce intellect to the Commission. We look forward to working with him and his colleagues on a pro-growth FCC agenda that benefits tens of millions of Americans who rely on free broadcast radio and TV for the most popular content, credible news, and lifeline local emergency alerts.”

Jan 23, 2017
12:17 pm

ESPN Marks the End of an Era (TVWeek, ESPN, YouTube)

An institution on ESPN got a surprise as the sports network marked the end of an era Sunday, with Chris Berman, who has hosted “Sunday NFL Countdown” for 31 years, hosting the show for the last time.

Berman’s former co-hosts Tom Jackson and Chris Mortensen made a surprise walk-on in honor of the occasion, and Mortensen announced that the studio has been renamed the Chris Berman-Tom Jackson Studio.

One of the most familiar faces at ESPN, Berman, 61, is remaining with the network but is stepping down from a number of his roles and will be keeping a lower profile. Berman — aka “Boomer” — is known for his many catchphrases, including his touchdown call “He could … go … all … the … way!” and his home run call “Back, back, back, back … Gone!”

Here’s a clip from Sunday’s show …

Jan 23, 2017
11:57 am

‘SNL’ Writer Under Fire for Tweet About Trump’s Youngest Son (NY Post)

A writer for the NBC late-night sketch show “Saturday Night Live” caused an uproar on social media with a tweet she sent out about Donald Trump’s youngest son.

The tweet from Katie Rich, sent out Friday, said: “Barron will be this country’s first homeschool shooter.” The message about the 10-year-old has since been deleted.

“The message was left up for about three hours before Rich deleted it,” The New York Post reports. “Facing a firestorm of criticism, she then made her Twitter account private, blocking public viewing of it.”

Rich, 33, has been a writer for “SNL” since 2013.

“Other Twitter users slammed Rich for targeting the child, with some calling her a ‘piece of trash’ and others calling for a boycott of NBC, which airs ‘SNL,'” The Post adds.

Jan 23, 2017
10:31 am

AP Report: Trump Administration Continued Its Anti-Journalism Campaign Over the Weekend, With the White House Issuing False Statements About Inauguration Coverage (AP, CNN)

“Donald Trump’s ‘running war’ on the media is continuing into his presidency, with statements over the weekend calling into question the extent to which information from the White House can be trusted,” TV writer David Bauder reports for the AP.

Bauder notes that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was scheduled to hold his first daily press briefing today, and “could face questions about a statement Saturday night that included demonstrably false assertions about the crowd size at Trump’s inauguration and a promise by the new administration that ‘we’re going to hold the press accountable.'”

The report quotes Dan Rather commenting on the situation Sunday, saying: “I hope that people will stop, pull back for what we in television call a wide shot and see what is happening. This is a deliberate propaganda campaign.”

Bauder adds that Trump over the weekend “took exception to stories saying the crowd for Friday’s inauguration was smaller than those for predecessor Barack Obama. Trump declared that journalists are ‘the most dishonest human beings on Earth,’ saying ‘I have a running war with the media.'”

“Spicer made two unprovable statements in his briefing: that photographs of the audience at Trump’s inaugural were intentionally framed to minimize the appearance of support, and that Trump drew the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration,” the report adds. “But he also made statements that were quickly disproven: that the Washington Metro system recorded more riders on the day of Trump’s inaugural than when Obama was sworn in for his second term, that Friday was the first time that white floor covering was used on the Washington Mall, amplifying empty spaces, and that it was the first time spectators were required to pass through magnetometers to enter the Mall.”

Spicer’s briefing Saturday was carried live by Fox News Channel and MSNBC, with CNN airing highlights and posting the briefing.

Here’s the briefing, posted by CNN …

Jan 23, 2017
9:31 am

Why the Estates of Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Jack Kerouac and Arthur C. Clarke Are Suing an Author of Children’s Books (THR, NY Times)

The estates of some of the most famous writers of the past century are waging a legal war with Swedish author Fredrik Colting over a series of children’s books.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the estates of Arthur C. Clarke, Jack Kerouac, Truman Capote and Ernest Hemingway, along with the publishing houses Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, filed a copyright lawsuit against Colting over his “KinderGuides” series.

The suit was filed Thursday in New York federal court. The New York Times notes that Colting’s partner Melissa Medina is also named in the suit.

The complaint “claims that ‘KinderGuides,’ which are based on classic novels such as Kerouac’s ‘On the Road,’ Hemingway’s ‘The Old Man and the Sea,’ Capote’s ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ and Clarke’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ are nothing more than ‘unauthorized derivative’ works that lift the plot, characters and settings from copyrighted books,” The Times reports.

THR notes that Colting “infamously went to court a decade ago after writing a ‘sequel’ to J.D. Salinger’s classic novel, ‘Catcher in the Rye.'” Colting’s book, “60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye,” was reportedly barred from publication in 2010, with his fair use defense rejected in a judgment that was later affirmed by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

The new complaint says: “Colting once again proceeds to brazenly infringe the rights of different authors, and the authors’ heirs and publishers, in complete disregard of copyright law. Remarkably, he also has the temerity to claim on the KinderGuide website that an upcoming title is none other than ‘Catcher in the Rye.'”

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (KinderGuides)

Jan 23, 2017
9:07 am

Viewers Turn Out for Big NBA Showdown (TVWeek)

A clash over the weekend between two of the top teams in the NBA delivered strong numbers for ABC. ESPN reports that the season two premiere of “NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC,” featuring the San Antonio Spurs and the Cleveland Cavaliers, was the highest-rated non-Christmas NBA game of the season across ABC and ESPN.

“The San Antonio Spurs’ thrilling overtime victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers averaged a 2.6 metered market rating, peaking with a 4.0 rating from 11-11:15 p.m. ET, according to Nielsen,” ESPN announced.

The broadcast delivered a 13.9 rating in the San Antonio market and a 12.2 in the Cleveland market.

“The Spurs-Cavaliers showdown delivered a significant streaming audience with 9,146,000 total minutes streamed, 231,800 unique viewers and an average minute audience of 59,800 viewers,” the announcement notes. “This is up 28 percent, 31 percent and 14 percent, respectively, from last year’s season debut.”

“NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC” continues next week with the Golden State Warriors hosting the Los Angeles Clippers at 8:30 p.m. Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson and Israel Gutierrez provide commentary.

Jan 23, 2017
8:17 am

Must-See: Aziz Ansari’s Monologue from ‘SNL’ Is Already Viral With More Than 2 Million Views (NBC)

Actor and comedian Aziz Ansari is getting a lot of attention for his opening monologue on Saturday’s installment of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.” The clip, posted over the weekend by NBC, has already topped 2 million views on YouTube.

Here it is …

Jan 23, 2017
6:57 am

Twitter Hits the Red Carpet for Awards Season (TVWeek)

Twitter is looking forward to a busy awards season, with the social media service unveiling plans to live-stream red carpet pre-shows for the 52nd Academy of Country Music Awards, 2017 Billboard Music Awards and 2017 American Music Awards.

The initiative is part of a partnership announced today between Twitter and dick clark productions. Twitter will also live-stream the 7th Annual Streamy Awards this fall.

“The programming, produced by dick clark productions and dcp partners, will be available globally for logged-in and logged-out audiences on Twitter and connected devices,” the companies announced.

The programming will launch with the official two-hour red carpet pre-show for the 52nd Academy of Country Music Awards on April 2, produced by the Academy of Country Music and dcp. The red carpet pre-shows for the Billboard Music Awards on May 21 and the American Music Awards in November will follow.

Twitter will also live stream the 7th Annual Streamy Awards in partnership with dcp and Tubefilter. Please click here for details.

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