Dec 11, 2017
5:38 pm

L.A. TV Fixture Fired (Deadline)

A television personality who has been an institution on the air in Los Angeles was fired today.

“Steve Edwards, who has co-hosted ‘Good Day LA’ on Fox affiliate KTTV for more than two decades, abruptly was let go today,” Deadline reports. The report quotes a statement from a spokeswoman for Fox11 saying: “We can confirm that Steve Edwards is no longer employed by KTTV.”

Deadline adds: “Sources say his dismissal stems from sexual harassment allegations, but the station would not confirm that.”

The report also notes: “Edwards has been on the heavily caffeinated morning show since 1995, and his ties to local L.A. TV go back even farther to hosting then-KNXT’s ‘2 on the Town’ opposite pre-‘CBS Evening News’ Connie Chung in the 1980s and doing other morning programs including ‘AM Los Angeles’ on KABC, which featured Regis Philbin.”

Steve Edwards

(several years ago, from a broadcast found on YouTube)

Dec 11, 2017
4:53 pm

Whoa! Guess What Business Is Returning to Saudi Arabia After Being Banned for 35 Years (Hint: There Is No Business Like It) (Deadline)

Saudi Arabia has officially lifted a ban that has been in place for about 35 years on public movie theaters, Deadline reports.

“The move had been expected,” the report notes. “Deadline reported last month that an initiative was afoot to build and open cinemas after being a focus of the Future Investment Initiative conference held in Riyadh in October.”

The report quotes Minister of Culture and Information Awwad bin Saleh Alawwad saying today: “Opening cinemas will act as a catalyst for economic growth and diversification; by developing the broader cultural sector we will create new employment and training opportunities, as well as enriching the Kingdom’s entertainment options.”

The first movie theaters are expected to open in March.

Dec 11, 2017
4:09 pm

Comcast Reportedly Drops Bid for Fox Assets, Leaving Disney as Sole Contender (Reuters)

“Comcast Corp. said on Monday it had abandoned its bid for most of the assets of Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox Inc., leaving Walt Disney Co. as the sole suitor in pursuit of the $40 billion-plus deal,” Reuters reports.

The report, which cites unnamed sources, notes that Disney was considered the leading contender even last week to acquire the assets, which include the cable channels FX and National Geographic along with the movie studio.

“The Murdoch family, which controls Fox, prefers a deal with Disney because it would rather be paid in Disney stock than Comcast stock, and expects a potential deal with Disney to be cleared by U.S. antitrust regulators more easily, one of the sources said,” Reuters reports.

Comcast said in a statement: “When a set of assets like Fox’s becomes available, it is our responsibility to evaluate if there is a strategic fit that could benefit our company and our shareholders. That is what we tried to do and we are no longer engaged in the review of those assets. We never got the level of engagement needed to make a definitive offer.”

Dec 11, 2017
3:44 pm

Fox Takes Viewers Behind the Scenes of Its Upcoming Live Production (TVWeek, Fox)

The Fox Network released a behind-the-scenes video providing viewers with a look at production on its upcoming presentation “A Christmas Story Live!” You can watch the clip below.

The special premieres this Sunday, Dec. 17.

Maya Rudolph (“Saturday Night Live,” “Bridesmaids”), Matthew Broderick (“How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying,” “The Producers,” “Manchester by the Sea”), Jane Krakowski (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “30 Rock”), Chris Diamantopoulos (“Good Girls Revolt,” “Silicon Valley,” “Episodes”), Ana Gasteyer (“Saturday Night Live”), Ken Jeong (“The Hangover,” “Dr. Ken), David Alan Grier (“The Carmichael Show”), newcomer Andy Walken and Prettymuch will star in the holiday special.

From Warner Horizon Unscripted & Alternative Television, “A Christmas Story Live!” is inspired by the holiday classic feature “A Christmas Story” and the Tony Award-nominated Broadway production “A Christmas Story: The Musical.”

Here’s the new clip …

Dec 11, 2017
2:59 pm

Celebrity Chef Steps Away From TV Show, Restaurant Empire Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations (TVWeek, Eater)

A celebrity chef with a TV show and a chain of restaurants is under fire after allegations surfaced from four women accusing him of sexual misconduct. The allegations against Mario Batali, co-host of ABC’s cooking-themed daytime show “The Chew,” span at least two decades.

The allegations were published today on the Eater website.

Batali is reportedly stepping away from the TV series and from day-to-day operations of his restaurant empire.

In a statement issued today, Batali did not deny the allegations, saying that “although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted.”

He added: “That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family.”

Batali also said in the statement: “We built these restaurants so that our guests could have fun and indulge, but I took that too far in my own behavior. I won’t make that mistake again.”

In the Eater report, four women accuse Batali of inappropriate touching.

“Three of the women worked for Batali in some capacity during their careers,” Eater reports. “One former employee alleges that over the course of two years, he repeatedly grabbed her from behind and held her tightly against his body. Another former employee alleges that he groped her and that, in a separate incident, he compelled her to straddle him; another alleges that he grabbed her breasts at a party, though she no longer worked for him at the time.”

The website did not publish the names of Batali’s accusers.

ABC’s “The Chew”: Mario Batali at far right

Dec 11, 2017
2:39 pm

Who Will Play TV News Legend Walter Cronkite? It’s Probably Not Who You Think (Deadline, TVWeek)

The actor who will be playing legendary TV newsman Walter Cronkite may strike some readers as an odd choice. Deadline reports that Seth Rogen will play Cronkite in the feature film “Newsflash,” about how television covered the JFK assassination.

The drama will be directed by David Gordon Green and written by Ben Jacoby.

Rogen, of course, is best known for his comedic roles in films such as “Knocked Up” and “Pineapple Express.”

“Jacoby scripted a drama that revolves around Cronkite, his producer Don Hewitt, their boss Jim Aubrey, and Dan Rather, a young newsman who happened to be in Texas and who first distinguished himself as a dogged reporter as he and other journalists frantically dug for truth after reports went over the wire that gunfire rang out in vicinity of the president’s motorcade,” Mike Fleming Jr. writes in the Deadline report. “The filmmakers are drawing a strong cast — I’ve heard they are courting Mark Ruffalo for Hewitt, and Bryan Cranston for Aubrey — but right now Rogen and Green [as the film’s director] are the only ones committed.”

Dec 11, 2017
1:09 pm

Season to Date, One Show Is Beating Football in Total Viewers (TVWeek)

A scripted series is the top show of the 2017-2018 broadcast TV season to date, based on Nielsen Live+7 data for total viewers. The No. 1 show is the CBS comedy “The Big Bang Theory,” which has averaged 18.83 million viewers in the metric.

That puts the sitcom ahead of the traditional juggernaut that is “NBC Sunday Night Football,” which has averaged just 17.54 million so far this season to place second, just ahead of ABC’s “The Good Doctor,” which is in third place with 17.45 million.

Rounding out the top five are two CBS shows: “Young Sheldon” at No. 4 with 17.20 million and “NCIS” at No. 5 with 16.95 million.

The results are based on L+7 data for Sept. 25-Nov. 26, along with L+3 data for the week of Nov. 27-Dec. 3.

Rounding out the Top 10 are NBC’s “This Is Us” at No. 6 with 16.54 million; “CBS Thursday Night Football” at No. 7 with 14.23 million; CBS’s “Bull” at No. 8 with 14.16 million; “NBC Thursday Night Football” at No. 9 with 14.12 million; and CBS’s “Blue Bloods” at No. 10 with 13.36 million.

Dec 11, 2017
10:41 am

Photographer Recovering From Injuries After Being Kicked in Head by Rocker During Concert (TVWeek, Instagram, YouTube)

The lead singer and guitarist for a popular rock band issued a series of apologies today after injuring a photographer when he kicked her camera as she photographed a concert Saturday night.

Josh Homme, the founder and leader of Queens of the Stone Age, posted a series of videos on the band’s Instagram account apologizing to photographer Chelsea Lauren and others over the incident, which was captured on video. You can see a clip of the incident below.

Lauren posted an update on her Instagram site Sunday, telling followers: “My neck is a sore, my eyebrow bruised and I’m a bit nauseous. The doctor released me early in the morning.”

She posted images taken during the incident, showing Homme apparently smiling at her before kicking her, along with a photo showing Homme with a bloody face.

“Here are three images. Two of them as Josh looked at me, smiled and then kicked me,” Lauren wrote. “The other one is later after he cut his own face with a knife. I was in the pit in tears — and he just stared at me smiling.”

Lauren also wrote on Instagram: “Assault in any form is not okay, no matter what the reasoning. Alcohol and drugs are no excuse. I was where I was allowed to be, I was not breaking any rules. I was simply trying to do my job.”

The incident took place during the KROQ Acoustic Christmas concert in Inglewood, Calif. Lauren, who was treated overnight at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, reportedly planned to file a police report.

In his apology videos, Homme said: “Last night at a Queens of the Stone Age performance, I kicked the camera of a photographer, and that camera hit the photographer in the face, and the photographer’s name was Chelsea Lauren. I’d just like to apologize to Chelsea Lauren. I don’t have any excuse or reason to justify what I did. … I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, and last night was definitely one of them. And I apologize for that to you.”

He later added: “I want to be a good man, but I think last night I definitely failed at that. That means I failed my family and my friends as well. I don’t want them to ever be ashamed or embarrassed about being around me or knowing me. And so I apologize also to my bandmates, my mom and my dad, my wife, my brother and my kids. I’m gonna have to figure out some stuff, I think, ‘cuz rock ‘n’ roll is a wonderful thing. It’s supposed to save and help people, not mess them up. So Chelsea Lauren: I hope you’re OK, and I’m truly sorry. And I understand you have to do whatever you have to do. I just want you to know that I’m sorry. Goodnight, godspeed.”

Here’s a clip of the incident from Saturday’s concert, with the kick taking place at the 9-second mark …

Dec 11, 2017
10:37 am

Host of Popular NPR Program Suspended Amid Allegations Including ‘Creepy’ Sex Talks (WBUR News, Boston.com)

The host of a popular NPR radio program was placed on leave after being accused of creating a toxic and emotionally unsafe work environment. Boston.com reports that Tom Ashbrook, the host of WBUR’s nationally syndicated “On Point” program, is accused of “creepy” sex talks and unwanted touching of co-workers.

He was placed on leave while the allegations are investigated, the story reports.

WBUR News reported that a group of current and former WBUR employees filed a complaint last week.

“According to the public radio station, 11 young men and women filed a 15-page document Thursday containing testimonials that allege Ashbrook belittled ideas in meetings, engaged in name-calling, directed tirades at young women in the studio, and gave ‘creepy’ sex talks, hugs, and back or neck rubs after reprimands, according to WBUR News,” Boston.com reports. “WBUR and Boston University announced Ashbrook was placed on leave Friday while an outside organization examines the allegations.”

A former producer who signed the complaint is quoted by WBUR saying: “I worry that Tom’s behavior discourages young women from continuing in journalism.”

Ashbrook responded with a statement saying he was “stunned” by the allegations and noting that the nature of the allegations had not been shared with him.

“In the pressure of a live radio environment, I have at times been a tough and demanding boss,” he told WBUR News. “We aspire to put out a top-notch show. Many people have thrived in that environment; a few have not.”

Ashbrook added: “I can’t describe how deeply unsettling this is to me. I am sure that once the facts come out that people will see me for who I am — flawed but caring and decent in all my dealings with others.”

Dec 11, 2017
7:44 am

Daredevil Plummets 62 Stories to His Death (NY Post, TVWeek, YouTube)

A young daredevil who attracted a following by pulling off risky stunts in high places was killed when he fell while attempting a stunt near the top of a 62-story building in China. The New York Post reports that Wu Yongning, 26, died Nov. 8 when he plunged from the Huayuan International Centre in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province in central China.

The stunt was captured on video and the clip went viral, reportedly receiving more than 15 million views on Chinese social media. You can see a YouTube clip below that apparently includes the fatal stunt.

The death of Yongying, who called himself “China’s First Rooftopper,” was confirmed one month later by his girlfriend and family members.

The viral clip “shows Yongning — who had already reached the roof of the skyscraper — lowering himself over the edge of the building to do a pull-up stunt,” The Post reports. “But when he tried to hoist himself back up, he struggled for a few moments before losing his grip and plummeting down the side of the building.”

Here’s the YouTube clip, which we warn viewers contains footage that you may find disturbing …

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