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TVBIZWIRE
Feb 11, 2016
11:11 am
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Big Media Shares Take a Hit (MediaPost, Multichannel News)

Wednesday was another bad day on Wall Street for major Hollywood firms. MediaPost reports that shares of Disney, Comcast, Time Warner and Viacom continued to struggle in a difficult market.

Viacom shares fell 4.7% Wednesday, with Disney down 3.8%, Comcast off 4.1% and Time Warner down 5%, the story reports. For Viacom, the loss followed a day in which the company’s stock plunged 21%.

Multichannel News notes that Viacom’s big plunge on Tuesday came after the company reported disappointing first-quarter results.

“Viacom’s domestic ad revenue dipped 4% in the fiscal first quarter, the latest in a long line of declines which apparently spooked investors enough to ignore an announced advertising venture with Snapchat and an extension to its carriage negotiations with Dish Network,” Multichannel reports.

Bucking Wednesday’s trend were 21st Century Fox, which ticked up 0.8%, and CBS, which rose 0.5%, MediaPost reports.

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TVBIZWIRE
Feb 11, 2016
10:44 am
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Disney Chief Iger Spins ESPN Struggles (Multichannel News)

Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger tackled investor concerns over ESPN during the company’s quarterly earnings call Tuesday, addressing the perception that the pricey sports channel is losing customers. Multichannel News reports that Iger said ESPN’s subscriber losses have abated recently, partly attributable to the channel’s inclusion in “skinny bundles” such as Sling TV.

The article notes that Nielsen initially reported ESPN had lost about 3 million subscribers in 2015, but has since revised its estimate to about 1.2 million. Iger indicated that he’s seeing a turnaround, although it’s not reflected in results for the first quarter, which ended Jan. 2.

Iger is quoted saying during the earnings call: “The subscriber trends that were going in a negative direction have abated somewhat. We believe the predictions that many have made are more dire than they should be.” He added: “The notion that either the expanded basic bundle is experiencing its demise or that ESPN is cratering in any way from a sub persective is just ridiculous.”

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TVBIZWIRE
Feb 11, 2016
10:07 am
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Donald Trump Settles Suit Against TV Network (Variety)

A lawsuit filed by Donald Trump over the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants has been settled. Variety reports that Trump and Univision settled the suit that was filed after a highly public fight over Trump’s remarks about Mexican immigrants and Univision’s decision to drop the pageants, in which Trump was then a part-owner.

“Details of the settlement were not disclosed,” Variety reports. “Univision had just signed a five-year deal with the Miss Universe Organization for U.S. Spanish-language TV rights to the beauty pageants when Trump, now the frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination, stirred outrage by asserting that many undocumented Mexican immigrants were ‘rapists.’”

After Univision scrapped the telecasts, Trump sued for $500 million. Among the suit’s claims, Variety notes, is one that the decision was influenced by political interference from one of the network’s owners, Democratic fundraiser Haim Saban.

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TVBIZWIRE
Feb 11, 2016
9:49 am
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‘Star Wars’ Producers Charged in Harrison Ford Accident (USA Today)

An accident on the set in which actor Harrison Ford was reportedly severely injured has led to charges against producers of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” USA Today reports that the charges against Foodles Production (UK), a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Co., stem from an accident in June 2014 at Pinewood Studios near London.

In the incident, Ford reportedly suffered a broken leg when he was hit by a hydraulic door on the set of the Millennium Falcon. He was airlifted to a hospital, where he underwent surgery, according to the report. Production on the film was suspended for two weeks.

The British Health and Safety Executive announced today that it will prosecute the production company on four charges of violating workplace health-and-safety laws, USA Today reports.

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TVBIZWIRE
Feb 11, 2016
9:21 am
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Cable News Channels Clash Over Trump Election Night Rumor (TVNewser, TVWeek)

Two cable news channels have been waging a war of words over what did or didn’t happen in Donald Trump’s hotel room as election returns were coming in Tuesday night.

TVNewser reports that the dustup between CNN and MSNBC followed a tweet Wednesday by CNN’s Dylan Byers in which he reported that MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough “hung out in Trump’s hotel room last night during primary returns, 2 sources tell me.”

“The CNN report followed an appearance on ‘Morning Joe’ by Trump, where he described the MSNBC hosts as ‘supporters,’ before walking that back,” TVNewser reports, quoting Trump on the show saying: “You guys have been supporters … and I really appreciate it. And not necessarily supporters, but at least believers. You said there’s some potential there.”

Scarborough reacted to the Byers tweet with a series of Twitter posts, writing: “I understand you guys resent that we double your audience every day, but enough of the lying. Did CNN hire you just to lie about Morning Joe? The obsession is unhealthy.”

Byers responded with a challenge, sending out a post saying: “Go on the record and say I’m wrong.”

The clash prompted a statement from MSNBC Wednesday afternoon in which the network said:

“CNN’s media reporter, Dylan Byers, is implying that Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski watched election returns with Donald Trump last night in New Hampshire. That is not true.

“The ‘Morning Joe’ hosts instead did what anchors are supposed to do — they interviewed the candidate’s senior staff to get background information on their strategy in New Hampshire, and on their campaign’s plans moving forward in South Carolina. The staff then invited the hosts to get Mr. Trump’s reaction to the victory. That discussion lasted less than five minutes. Other networks were allowed interviews as well.”

TVBIZWIRE
Feb 11, 2016
8:44 am
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Andy Griffith’s Advice to Cam Newton Goes Viral — Here’s the Clip (YouTube)

A brief video featuring classic TV dad Andy Griffith, as Sheriff Andy Taylor, giving advice to Super Bowl quarterback Cam Newton has been making the rounds online since it was posted on Facebook. The clip — which addresses Newton’s infamous walkoff during the postgame press conference — had reportedly been viewed more than 3 million times by this morning.

Here you go …

TVBIZWIRE
Feb 11, 2016
8:31 am
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Fox Takes Wraps Off New Thursday Prime Time (TVWeek)

The Fox Network rolled out plans for its new-look Thursday lineup, with the new series “American Grit,” a military-themed competition show, taking the slot leading out from “Bones.” The new lineup bows April 14, when “Bones,” which is in the middle of its 11th season, returns for its spring premiere.

“Starring WWE superstar John Cena, ‘American Grit’ follows 16 of the country’s toughest men and women as they are split into four teams and face a variety of military-grade and survival-themed challenges set in the wilderness of Pack Forest in Eatonville, Wash.,” the network says in its announcement. “Cena and an elite group of mentors from the nation’s most exclusive military units — including Navy SEAL Commander Rorke Denver, Army Sergeant Noah Galloway, Marine Gunnery Sergeant Tawanda ‘Tee’ Hanible and Army Ranger Nick ‘The Reaper’ Irving — will push these fierce competitors beyond their limits. With up to a million dollars of prize money at stake, this is the ultimate test of strength, grit, the human spirit and, most importantly, teamwork.”

“American Grit” comes from Leftfield Pictures and is executive-produced by Brent Montgomery, David George, Adam Sher, Will Nothacker and Jon Kroll, along with Cena.

The “Bones” premiere picks up where the fall finale left off. “The all-new episode, ‘The Death in the Defense,’ finds Hodgins (TJ Thyne) eight weeks into his rehabilitation and forced to navigate life in a wheelchair. Meanwhile, Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Booth (David Boreanaz) investigate the death of a public defender who had multiple defendants from previous cases with motives to kill her,” Fox says.

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TVBIZWIRE
Feb 11, 2016
7:31 am
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Why HDTV Sets Are Disappearing From Stores’ Shelves (HD Guru)

If you want to buy an HDTV set, you’d better hurry to your local retail store. HD Guru reports thatt the sets are rapidly disappearing from shelves as 4K Ultra HDTV sales pick up steam.

“Sales of 4K Ultra HDTVs saw significant acceleration in 2015 behind growing retail shelf placements, which simultaneously are squeezing the share of Full HD 1080p models heading into 2016,” the story reports. The article cites new data from market research group gap intelligence/Quixel Research that indicates 4K Ultra HDTVs reached 40% of U.S. retail placements by the end of 2015.

The report cites comments by Deirdre Kennedy, gap intelligence/Quixel TV market analyst, who notes that Ultra HDTV sets have been increasing thier shelf share since their launch in late 2012. Kennedy told the publication: “Screen sizes for Full 1080p HDTVs are gradually getting smaller and more basic. This change is a direct result of Ultra HDTVs taking over the premium segment of the TV category.”

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TVBIZWIRE
Feb 11, 2016
6:07 am
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Video: Watch the First 4 Minutes of the ‘Walking Dead’ Midseason Premiere (AMC, YouTube)

In advance of the midseason premiere of AMC’s monster hit “The Walking Dead,” which returns this Sunday, Feb. 14, a teaser has been posted that features the premiere’s first four minutes.

Check it out …

TVBIZWIRE
Feb 10, 2016
2:57 pm
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Actor Launches Nonprofit Studio (Variety)

A well-known actor who broke out on a cult TV show took the wraps off plans for a new nonprofit film studio. Variety reports that James Franco has launched Elysium Bandini Studios.

Franco, whose breakout role was in the 1999 NBC series “Freaks and Geeks,” directs, writes and teaches, in addition to his acting career.

The new studio “brings together the Art of Elysium charity with Franco’s Rabbit Bandini production banner to support the film projects of students and professionals, with any proceeds going entirely to Art of Elysium, Variety reports. “The 19-year-old charity brings actors and other artists into contact with people in need — from hospitalized children, to the elderly and homeless to, soon, veterans and prisoners. As many as 4,000 artists work with needy clients on projects ranging from essays to poetry to plays, films and art installations.”

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