Apr 27, 2017
11:53 am

Fox News Host Going on ‘Vacation’ as Criticism Pours In Over Ivanka Trump Comment (Newsday, Twitter, TVWeek, YouTube)

Embattled Fox News Channel host Jesse Watters, who triggered a torrent of backlash with a comment about the president’s daughter, is going on what he’s calling a “vacation” from his job as co-host of FNC’s “The Five.”

As we reported Wednesday, many critics were reading sexual innuendo into a quip by Watters about how Ivanka Trump held the microphone during a panel discussion in Germany. Watters has denied his comments had any sexual overtones.

Newsday reports that Watters announced on Wednesday night’s installment of “The Five” that he’s taking a leave from the show. Watters, who called it a “vacation,” said he will be back Monday.

Among the heavyweights who sounded off about Watters’ Ivanka Trump comment, John Podhoretz, an influential conservative columnist for the Weekly Standard and The New York Post, tweeted: “Congratulations, Jesse Watters, you’re a disgusting pig as well as being a racist moron.” The latter reference appears to be to a previous Watters controversy involving a report from New York’s Chinatown, which you can watch here.

Another conservative columnist, the Atlantic’s David Frum, tweeted: “The thing that makes Jesse Watters a true Fox star is the flair with which he joins right-wing self-pity to his demeaning smuttiness.”

Compounding the issue for Fox News, the Watters “vacation” comes just as the cable channel is reconfiguring its prime-time lineup in the wake of the firing of Bill O’Reilly, and means Watters will be out of action for part of the first week of his show’s move to the crucial 9 p.m. hour.

A more traditional Fox News foil, CNN’s Jake Tapper, tweeted Wednesday: “when a company sends the clear signal: that women are basically subhuman, vile behavior thrives even after top offenders are fired.”

Later Wednesday, Watters sent out a statement in which he said: “During the [commercial] break we were commenting on Ivanka’s voice and how it was low and steady and resonates like a smooth jazz radio DJ. This was in no way a joke about anything else.”

Here’s a clip of the incident Tuesday that got Watters into trouble …

Apr 27, 2017
11:44 am

Johnny Depp Stuns Guests on Disneyland Ride (TVWeek, YouTube)

The “real” Jack Sparrow — actor Johnny Depp — left visitors to Disneyland in shock on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride as he made a surprise appearance Wednesday at the amusement park.

Depp was captured vamping and reciting bits of dialogue from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies for the ride’s guests, many of whom captured his appearance on video and posted it online.

Here’s some of the footage …

Apr 27, 2017
11:31 am

Why Schools Are Warning Parents About a Netflix Series (ABC News, People)

The Netflix drama series “13 Reasons Why” has prompted school districts across the country to send warning letters to parents to ensure that they understand what their children are watching.

The show, which is nearing renewal for a second season, tells the fictional story of a high school girl who commits suicide, leaving behind audio recording for 13 people she says had something to do with her decision to kill herself. Co-produced by Selena Gomez, the Netflix series is based on Jay Asher’s 2007 young adult novel of the same name.

ABC News quotes part of a letter sent this week to parents of public school students in Montclair, N.J., which says: “While the show is fictional, the series is extremely graphic, including several rape scenes, and raises significant concerns about the emotional safety of those watching it.”

The letter was written by Andrew Evangelista, Montclair Public Schools District’s mental health and harassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB) coordinator, who said that after watching the series, “It just didn’t seem right. There were a lot of questions I had, about how the girl was portrayed and the lack of mental health resources that were available to her.”

People magazine notes that schools are concerned that the series might glamorize teen suicide.

“Throughout the series, there are instances of sexual assault, rape, underage drinking, driving under the influence, body shaming and, ultimately, a graphic scene depicting Hannah’s suicide,” People reports, adding: “In a public statement, the National Association of School Psychologists issued a warning against viewing the series to parents of ‘vulnerable youth.’”

People quotes the statement from NASP saying of the series: “Its powerful storytelling may lead impressionable viewers to romanticize the choices made by the characters and/or develop revenge fantasies. They may easily identify with the experiences portrayed and recognize both the intentional and unintentional effects on the central character.”

The statement adds that “research shows that exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of death, can be one of the many risk factors that youth struggling with mental health conditions cite as a reason they contemplate or attempt suicide.”

Apr 27, 2017
11:19 am

Report: TV Industry Veteran Closing In on Sony CEO Job (Variety)

A veteran TV executive appears to be sailing through the screening process at Sony and is now the clear front-runner for the CEO job. Variety reports that Tony Vinciquerra, former group chairman for the Fox Networks and a veteran of Hearst and CBS, is the “lead candidate” to succeed Michael Lynton.

We reported last month that Vinciquerra had emerged as a candidate for the post.

“Vinciquerra would come to the job with decades of TV experience, albeit little exposure on the film side,” Variety notes. “Sources said Sony Corp. chief Kazuo Hirai has been looking for a candidate with strong managerial chops and a familiarity with the fast-expanding world of big data and analytics.”

Vinciquerra has been working as a consultant since he stepped down in 2011 after a decade heading Fox Networks Group.

“In Sony’s view, Vinciquerra’s background overseeing a big operation like Fox’s cable and international networks during a period of rapid growth, coupled with his more recent experience associated with startups in the tech and media sector give him the right skill set for the job of leading the studio,” Variety notes.

Apr 27, 2017
10:31 am

Memo to Rock Stars: Never Appear on a Talk Show With Your Mom (CBS)

One rock star who’s willing to be embarrassed by his mom — even on national television — is Dave Grohl, who appeared Wednesday night with his mom, Virginia Grohl, on CBS’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

The Grammy-winning singer and musician, best known for his gigs with Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, is out supporting his mom on a book tour after she wrote a book about moms who raise rock stars, “From Cradle to Stage.” But Colbert seized on the opportunity to embarrass Dave Grohl as much as possible, including showcasing Grohl’s crummy report card from sixth grade.

Here’s the clip …

Apr 27, 2017
9:41 am

Bravo Unveils Six New Series (TVWeek)

Bravo Media today took the wraps off six new series and confirmed orders for new seasons of a batch of returning unscripted shows.

The new programs are “Bethenny and Fredrik Property Project” (working title), “Sell it Like Serhant,” “Relationshep, “”Southern Charm New Orleans,” “Love Italian Style” (working title) and “A Night With My Ex.”

Joining the previously announced returns of the scripted series “Imposters” and “Odd Mom Out” along with “Top Chef” and “Million Dollar Listing New York,” the network confirmed new season orders for a number of shows. Summer premieres will include “The Real Housewives of Orange County” and “Shahs of Sunset,” and coming later are new seasons of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” “Flipping Out,” “Don’t Be Tardy,” “Married to Medicine,” “Below Deck,” “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles,” “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” “The Real Housewives of Dallas,” “Inside the Actor’s Studio,” “Summer House” and “Vanderpump Rules.”

Click on the link below for details on all of the new shows.

Bravo Media Expands Unscripted Programming Slate with Six New and 18 Returning Series

Apr 27, 2017
9:37 am

Pope Francis Gives a TED Talk — Here’s What He Said (TED Talks)

Speaking directly from Vatican City, Pope Francis delivered a TED Talk this week, which you can watch on the video below. The recorded message was presented Tuesday at the TED conference in Vancouver.

“In a hopeful message to people of all faiths, to those who have power as well as those who don’t, the spiritual leader provides illuminating commentary on the world as we currently find it and calls for equality, solidarity and tenderness to prevail,” TED says in material accompanying the clip, which was posted on YouTube.

The blurb quotes Pope Francis saying: “Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the ‘other’ is not a statistic, or a number. We all need each other.”

Here’s the pope’s TED Talk …

Apr 27, 2017
7:19 am

Get Ready for Some Funny Jeep Commercials (TVWeek)

Jeep is poised to start bringing the funny after the company signed up as the first brand partner on a new joint venture by NBCUniversal and Broadway Video. The companies announced details today about the new partnership between Broadway Video and the NBCU Content Studio.

The initiative is designed to give marketers access to “an always-on team of writers, directors, and producers from Broadway Video” dedicated to punching up brands’ original storytelling. Jeep is on board to help launch the latest Jeep Compass.

Founded by Lorne Michaels in 1979, Broadway Video is a global media and entertainment company with a track record in TV comedy that includes “Saturday Night Live,” “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” “30 Rock” and many other successful projects.

“The Content Studio clients will now be able to create original and ownable comedic content for all platforms with stories informed by NBCUniversal’s insights and driven by data and distribution capabilities,” the companies said in today’s announcement.

Click here to read the full announcement.

Apr 27, 2017
7:07 am

D’oh! ‘The Simpsons’ Examines Trump’s First 100 Days in Office (Fox)

From the “everyone’s a critic” department, even the Fox animated series “The Simpsons” has something to say about the Trump presidency. The show offered a quick recap of Trump’s first 100 days in office, summed up in this clip posted by Fox …

Apr 26, 2017
2:29 pm

Bloodbath at ESPN as the Struggling Network Lays Off Employees — Including Many Familiar On-Air Personalities

ESPN was in the process of laying off employees Wednesday, with a number of on-air personalities among the casualties. The layoff of about 100 employees was being “live tweeted” as it happened, with James Andrew Miller, author of “These Guys Have All the Fun,” a behind-the-scenes book on ESPN, among those tracking the carnage on Twitter.

As the grim phone calls continued to be made during the day, on-air personalities Ed Werder, Danny Kanell, Trent Dilfer and Jayson Stark were among those announcing on Twitter that they had been given the ax.

“Other journalists who revealed they have been let go include: columnists Johnette Howard and Jane McManus; baseball reporters Jim Bowden, Doug Padilla and Mark Saxon; hockey writers Pierre LeBrun, Scott Burnside and Joe McDonald; college reporters Dana O’Neil, Brett McMurphy, Eamonn Brennan, Jeremy Crabtree, Max Olson, C.L. Brown, Austin Ward and Jesse Temple; and soccer reporter Mike L. Goodman,” The New York Post reports.

Miller tweeted early Wednesday that ESPN President John Skipper had sent a memo to all ESPN employees about the layoffs, with Miller noting that “around 50 names you will recognize; another 50 you may not.”

The New York Times notes: “The network has lost more than 10 million subscribers over the past several years. At the same time, the cost of broadcasting major sports has continued to rise. ESPN committed to a 10-year, $15.2 billion deal with the N.F.L. in 2011; a nine-year, $12 billion deal with the N.B.A.; and a $7.3 billion deal for the college football playoffs, among many others.”

The Times report quotes Miller saying: “ESPN was wrapped in Teflon for many years, but big payouts for rights fees plus significant losses in their subscriber base were like punches to the gut and head, and now the company is trying to make sure they are strong enough to fight in the future.”

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