May 23, 2017
9:39 am

Wrapping Up the TV Upfronts (TVWeek)

Even with the television business in the digital era seemingly focused more than ever on the “Everything Old Is New Again” credo, the recent upfront presentations had their share of highlights. Today TVWeek recaps them in a report by Open Mic writer Hillary Atkin.

Click here to read Hillary’s roundup on presentations by CBS, NBCUniversal, ABC, Fox, the CW and Turner Entertainment, including a look at the hottest programs along with a few of the best one-liners.


May 23, 2017
8:37 am

Actress Dina Merrill Dies — She Made an Elegant Impression on TV and in Film (NY Times, TVWeek, Guild Hall)

Dina Merrill, who was an elegant screen presence in film and on television starting in the late ’50s, has died. The New York Times reports that Merrill died Monday at her home in East Hampton, N.Y.

Merrill, who was 93, had Lewy Body dementia, according to her son, Stanley H. Rumbough.

“An elegant presence in most of her 30 or so mid-20th-century movies, Ms. Merrill played the betrayed wife who loses both her husband, Laurence Harvey, and her mink coat to Elizabeth Taylor in ‘Butterfield 8’ (1960); the chic fashion consultant who loses Glenn Ford to Shirley Jones in ‘The Courtship of Eddie’s Father’ (1963); and the steadfast socialite wife of an assistant district attorney played by Burt Lancaster in ‘The Young Savages’ (1961),” The Times reports.

The report adds: “The daughter of the Wall Street broker E. F. Hutton and the cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, Ms. Merrill grew up in luxury, spending up to six months a year on the Sea Cloud, the family yacht. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor were among the guests on what has been described as a ‘floating palace’ equipped with fireplaces, marble bathrooms, a barber shop and a wine cellar.”

The family’s winter home was the 115-room Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., which was bought by Donald Trump in 1985.

Merrill continued her acting career well into the 2000s, both on television and in film. In the early days of television she was a regular on the drama anthologies, appearing on “Four Star Playhouse,” “Playwrights ’56.” “Playhouse 90,” “Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse” and others.

Her many TV appearances over the years also included “Dr. Kildare,” “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour,” “Burke’s Law,” “Rawhide,” “Bonanza,” “Run for Your Life,” “Mission: Impossible” and “Night Gallery,” among many other shows.

In the 1980s, Merrill had a regular role on the TV show “Hot Pursuit,” and later in her career she turned up in guest spots on popular series including “Murder, She Wrote,” “The Nanny” and “Roseanne.”

Merrill was well-known for her philanthropic work, supporting causes including diabetes research, the theater and the New York Mission Society. She was married to actor Cliff Robertson from 1966-1989, and at the time of her death was married to actor and RKO Pictures Chairman and CEO Ted Hartley, and was vice chairman of RKO.

Here’s a clip from 2013 featuring clips from Merrill’s career along with Merrill’s reflections upon receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Guild Hall Academy of the Arts …

May 23, 2017
8:11 am

CBS’s James Corden Begins Search for His ‘Late Late Show’ Successor … Sort Of (TVWeek)

The search for a successor to James Corden as host of CBS’s “The Late Late Show” is the premise for a new digital series launching this fall.

“The Late Late Show with James Corden” and CBS Interactive announced plans today for “James Corden’s Next James Corden,” which will run exclusively as a Snapchat Show on Snap Inc.’s Snapchat Discover platform.

The show “will take Corden from late-night to the world of a fictional reality competition show to find a young up-and-comer to be his ‘Late Late Show’ successor,” the announcement says. “While Corden is by no means leaving ‘The Late Late Show’ anytime soon, he knows that someday, years and years from now, he’ll have to hand over the reins to a new host, and he wants ample time to select and groom a worthy successor.”

The announcement adds: “The series will star James Corden and feature appearances from many familiar faces including band leader Reggie Watts. Ben Winston and Rob Crabbe will serve as executive producers of the series, from CBS Interactive in partnership with Fulwell 73, and in association with CBS Productions.”

“James Corden’s Next James Corden” will be produced as an original, stand-alone Snapchat Show and will be shot vertically for optimal viewing on mobile devices.

May 23, 2017
7:50 am

Roger Moore, TV’s ‘The Saint’ and the Longest-Running James Bond, Dead at 89 (TVWeek, Twitter, YouTube)

Sir Roger Moore, who played James Bond in the film franchise from 1973-1985 and starred on television as Simon Templar on “The Saint” from 1962-1969, has died.

Moore’s family posted a message on the actor’s Twitter account confirming his death. Moore died today in Switzerland after a “short but brave battle with cancer,” his children Deborah, Geoffrey and Christian said in the message.

“The affection our father felt whenever he walked on to a stage or in front of a camera buoyed him hugely and kept him busy working into his 90th year, through to his last appearance in November 2016 on stage at London’s Royal Festival Hall,” the message adds. “The capacity crowd cheered him on and off stage, shaking the very foundations of the building just a short distance from where he was born.”

Moore replaced Sean Connery as James Bond starting with “Live and Let Die” in 1973, and went on to play Bond in seven films, culminating with “A View to a Kill” in 1985. His 12-year run as Bond was the longest of any actor.

He was also the oldest actor to play Bond, having reached the age of 58 before announcing his retirement from the role in December 1985.

Moore had already become a familiar face to U.S. audiences before stepping into the 007 franchise. He played Beau, one of the Maverick brothers along with James Garner, Jack Kelly and Robert Colbert, in the TV Western “Maverick” from 1960-1961 before tackling the high-profile title role of Simon Templar in the spy thriller “The Saint.”

A British production, “The Saint” became a hit worldwide, including airing in the U.S. from 1962-1969.

Moore, who won a Golden Globe as World Film Favorite, Male, in 1980, took a five-year break from acting following his run as Bond, but later resumed his film work and maintained a busy career throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s. During this period his film appearances included “Bed & Breakfast,” released in 1991, “The Quest” in 1996 and “Spice World” in 1997.

Here’s a clip of Roger Moore highlights from the James Bond movies …

May 23, 2017
1:57 am

Update on Explosion in Manchester at Ariana Grande Concert: 22 Dead and 59 Injured in Suicide Bombing (BBC News; NY Times)

Here’s the latest, from BBC News in a story filed at 4:36 a.m. ET: “Twenty-two people, including children, have been killed and 59 injured in a suicide attack at Manchester Arena.

“The blast happened in the foyer at 22:35 BST on Monday at the end of a concert by US singer Ariana Grande.

“Police said the lone male attacker, who died in the blast, detonated an improvised explosive device.”

Reports The New York Times, “At least one explosion went off in the foyer of the arena, according to the British Transport Police, the force that protects the Manchester Victoria train station next to the arena. The station was evacuated.”

May 22, 2017
5:27 pm

Twitter Co-Founder: ‘If it’s true that he wouldn’t be president if it weren’t for Twitter, then yeah, I’m sorry’ (NY Times)

In an interview with The New York Times in which he suggests the Internet is broken, Twitter founder Evan Williams called Twitter’s role in the rise of Donald Trump “a very bad thing” and added: “If it’s true that he wouldn’t be president if it weren’t for Twitter, then yeah, I’m sorry.”

“I thought once everybody could speak freely and exchange information and ideas, the world is automatically going to be a better place,” Williams told the paper. “I was wrong about that.”

The report adds: “The trouble with the Internet, Mr. Williams says, is that it rewards extremes. Say you’re driving down the road and see a car crash. Of course you look. Everyone looks. The internet interprets behavior like this to mean everyone is asking for car crashes, so it tries to supply them.”

May 22, 2017
5:23 pm

Two-Hour Special to Examine Battle Over Scientology (TVWeek)

A two-hour special coming up this month will take a look at the history of the clash between the Church of Scientology and its most outspoken critics. The program, “Merchants of Fear,” is set to air on A&E on Monday, May 29.

The standalone special grew out of A&E’s series “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath,” in which the actress attempts to document secrecy and misbehavior on the part of the church.

“In this two-hour special, Leah Remini and Mike Rinder explore the historical relationship between the Church of Scientology and its often vocal critics,” A&E said in today’s announcement. “A series of special guests candidly describe their personal experiences investigating controversial stories about the Church and how the Church has responded to their work. The special will also feature a sneak peak of the upcoming season two.”

A&E notes that “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” was cable’s No. 1 new unscripted series of 2016 in adults 25-54 and total viewers in Live+7. The limited series is currently in production on its second season, which will consist of 10 new hour-long episodes.

May 22, 2017
1:59 pm

Amid ‘Saturday Night Live’s’ Farewell to Two Cast Members, a Third Cast Member Quietly Bows Out (ET, TVWeek, NBC)

Saturday’s “SNL” marked the final appearance on the show for three cast members — with only two of them, Vanessa Bayer and Bobby Moynihan, getting much recognition on their last show.

ET Online reports that Sasheer Zamata is also leaving the show.

“Zamata, 31, joined the cast of ‘SNL’ during its 38th season in 2014, at a time when the show was being criticized for its lack of diversity,” ET notes. “Since then, she has been known for her impersonations of Rihanna, Michelle Obama as well as Beyonce and Solange Knowles, among others.”

Saturday’s show went all out to pay tribute to Bayer and Moynihan, with almost every sketch featuring one or both of them.

“While there was no fancy send-off or even any direct mention of their departure from the series, the pair of talent sketch comics got something subtle and somehow even more meaningful — an entire episode (and a season finale no less) that was basically dedicated to them,” ET reports.

Both performers were also showcased on “Weekend Update,” where Moynihan reprised his Drunk Uncle and Bayer brought her recently introduced meteorologist Dawn Lazarus.

Bayer had announced her exit Saturday morning on Instagram.

Moynihan is moving on to the new CBS comedy series “Me, Myself & I,” as we reported last week.

Here’s a clip from Saturday’s show featuring Bayer …

May 22, 2017
12:59 pm

Final Season Is at Hand for a Series That Has Featured Assassinations, Kidnappings, Accidental Murders, Biological Warfare and Much More (TVWeek, BBC America)

An acclaimed drama series is about to roll out its final season, and to help viewers brace for the return of the show, BBC America is putting on an “Orphan Black” panel discussion.

The cable network also released the final trailer for the show, which you can watch below.

“The clones have been through it all together,” BBC America notes in the announcement. “From assassinations, detrimental illnesses, monitors and accidental murders to suburban drug fronts, kidnappings, male clones and biological warfare — there isn’t anything this lot hasn’t experienced. But through it all, they’ve remained united in their love and mission to keep each other safe at all costs. They’ve sacrificed their families, the loves of their lives, and any true sense of normalcy — all for the chance to liberate themselves from forces much bigger than any one of them. Now, they must all fight for the family they’ve chosen, for a new future and ultimately, for freedom.”

The cast and executive producers of “Orphan Black” will make an appearance in New York City at a sold-out Split Screen Festival screening and panel Tuesday, June 6, at 6:30p ET.

The 10-episode fifth season premieres Saturday, June 10, on BBC America. Seasons 1-4 are currently available on BBCAmerica.com, the BBC America app and Amazon Prime.

Orphan Black is produced by Temple Street, a division of Boat Rocker Studios, in association with BBC America and Bell Media’s SPACE.

Here’s the new trailer …

May 22, 2017
12:57 pm

Megyn Kelly Has a Start Date for Her NBC Prime-Time Show (NY Post)

Former Fox News Channel star Megyn Kelly’s new NBC show is about to debut, with The New York Post’s Page Six reporting that the newsmagazine, “Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly,” will premiere June 4.

Promos for the show, which will air at 7 p.m., were expected to start running as soon as today.

“Kelly hasn’t announced her first guests yet — although Page Six first reported she is hopeful about landing a big exclusive sit-down with President Vladimir Putin,” the report notes. “Kelly will travel to Russia next month to moderate a session with the Russian leader at his annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum that takes place June 1 to June 3. NBC News execs hope the forum meeting will result in a one-on-one interview with Putin.”

Sportscaster Erin Andrews is also reportedly among Kelly’s upcoming interviews.

Kelly’s NBC morning show remains on track for September.

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