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TVBIZWIRE
Aug 23, 2017
4:39 pm
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Emmy-Winning Series Renewed (TVWeek, A&E)

A series that won an Emmy last year and is nominated again this year has been picked up for a fourth season. A&E today announced the renewal for “Born This Way,” which won Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program in 2016 and has six nominations for this year’s Primetime Emmys.

The cable channel ordered an eight-episode season. Elaine Frontain Bryant, EVP and head of programming for A&E Network, made the announcement.

“Over the past three seasons, ‘Born This Way’ has been a prime example of quality storytelling that motivates us to celebrate and embrace diversity,” said Frontain Bryant. “We are honored to reunite with these incredible young adults and their families as they fearlessly share their accomplishments, struggles and dreams, shifting society’s perception about differences along the way.”

The series, produced by Bunim/Murray Productions, “provides an intimate look at a diverse group of young men and women with Down syndrome as they pursue their passions and lifelong dreams, explore friendships, romantic relationships and work, all while defying society’s expectations,” A&E notes. “The series also gives voice to the parents, allowing them to talk about the joy their son or daughter brings to their family, and the challenges they face in helping them live as independently as possible.”

Executive producers for Bunim/Murray are Jonathan Murray, Gil Goldschein and Laura Korkoian. Kasey Barrett and Millee Taggart Ratcliffe serve as co-executive producers. Executive producers for A&E Network are Elaine Frontain Bryant and Shelly Tatro.

TVBIZWIRE
Aug 23, 2017
4:19 pm
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TV Show to Air ‘Wall to Wall’ for 127 Hours (TVWeek)

A single show will take over a network for eight days leading up to its season 21 premiere. The show is “South Park,” which will be the focus of a marathon on Comedy Central starting Wednesday, Sept. 6.

The show will run 254 episodes — 127 hours — “wall to wall” leading up to the season premiere on Wednesday, Sept. 13, Comedy Central announced.

“With the exception of ‘The Daily Show with Trevor Noah’ airing during its regularly scheduled time, it will be wall-to-wall ‘South Park’ for eight historic days,” Comedy Central said. “In celebration of the 21st season, Comedy Central is also launching a special ‘South Park’ emoji that will be featured on Twitter whenever a user tweets any of the following hashtags: #SouthPark, #NewSouthPark, #SouthParkPremiere, #SouthPark21, #Memberberries, and #Cartman. The emoji will go live on Wednesday, September 13 and be active throughout the entire season.”

Co-created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, “South Park” launched on Comedy Central on Aug. 13, 1997, and became one of the cable network’s signature shows. The series airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

TVBIZWIRE
Aug 23, 2017
4:07 pm
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‘Downton Abbey’ Star Heads West (TVWeek)

One of the main stars of “Downton Abbey” will be seen in a very different light in her upcoming series. Netflix today announced release plans for the Western series “Godless,” in which “Downton’s” Michelle Dockery stars along with Jeff Daniels and Jack O’Connell.

The series, from Steven Soderbergh, Casey Silver and Scott Frank, comes out Nov. 22 on the streaming service as a seven-part limited series.

“Notorious criminal Frank Griffin (Jeff Daniels) and his gang of outlaws are on a mission of revenge against Roy Goode (Jack O’Connell), a son-like protégé who betrayed the brotherhood,” Netflix says in today’s announcement. “While on the run, Roy seeks refuge with hardened widower Alice Fletcher (Michelle Dockery), an outcast herself, in a worn-down, isolated mining town of La Belle, NM — governed mainly by women. When word reaches La Belle that Griffin is headed their way, the town bands together to defend against the murderous gang in a lawless Western frontier.”

Dockery received acclaim — and three consecutive Primetime Emmy nominations from 2012-2014 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series — for her performance as Lady Mary Crawley in “Downton Abbey.”

TVBIZWIRE
Aug 23, 2017
3:57 pm
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Rare Prince Movie Heads to Television (TVWeek)

A concert film starring Prince that hasn’t been seen on U.S. television in more than a decade has been acquired by Showtime, where the movie, “Sign O’ the Times,” will begin airing Sept. 16.

“Created as a companion to the 1987 Prince double album of the same name, ‘Sign O’ the Times’ features live performances of songs including ‘U Got the Look’ (with Sheena Easton), ‘If I Was Your Girlfriend’ and ‘I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man,’ in addition to the title song and a striking rendition of the Prince classic ‘Little Red Corvette.’ Much of the film was shot at Prince’s own Paisley Park Studios, as well as on tour in the Netherlands and Belgium,” Showtime said in today’s announcement.

“‘Sign O’ the Times’ captures Prince at a critical juncture in his career, immediately after the disbanding of his group The Revolution and on the heels of ‘Purple Rain’ and ‘Under the Cherry Moon,'” the announcement adds. “Rock critic Robert Christgau declared that the film, directed by Prince, was a contender to rival ‘Stop Making Sense’ as the greatest rock concert movie ever, yet it was never issued on DVD. Prince’s visual and musical passion reigns throughout the 84-minute project, a must-see for anyone seeking a full understanding of the performance legend, whose ‘Sign O’ the Times’ was named the top album of 1987 in Village Voice’s Pazz and Jop Critics Poll.”

TVBIZWIRE
Aug 23, 2017
12:53 pm
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ESPN Getting Reamed After Removing Announcer From Game Because of His Name (NY Times, Outkick the Coverage, Fox News)

ESPN has been a target of ridicule for pulling an announcer because his name is Robert Lee.

In the wake of violence in Charlottesville, Va., where neo-Nazis rallied to protest the takedown of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, the sports network reassigned Lee, who had been scheduled to cover a University of Virginia football game Sept. 2 in Charlottesville.

The New York Times reports that the network indicated the move was made for the safety of Lee, an Asian American.

ESPN released a statement after the move created a backlash. The network stated: “We collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name. In that moment it felt right to all parties. It’s a shame that this is even a topic of conversation and we regret that who calls play-by-play for a football game has become an issue.”

Outkick the Coverage, which broke the story Tuesday night, noted that Lee was moved from the Virginia-William and Mary game to a game between Youngstown State and Pittsburgh.

The website was among those to criticize the move, saying ESPN made the decision “because they were concerned that having an Asian football announcer named Robert Lee would be offensive to some viewers.” The site added that the story “seems made for The Onion, but is actually true.”

“Does ESPN really believe people are this dumb or that having an Asian announcer named Robert Lee is too offensive for the average TV viewer to handle?” the article asks.

In a follow-up to the story, the website notes that a senior employee at ESPN indicated that the decision was not the result of a mandate from the company but was a people-first decision, and that assignments are switched frequently.

Fox News, however, summed up the decision this way: “In one ridiculous move, ESPN became a metaphor for everything wrong in media.”

TVBIZWIRE
Aug 23, 2017
10:57 am
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Nude Photos Leaked in New Celebrity Hack — Tiger Woods and Ex-Girlfriend Lindsey Vonn Among the Victims (TMZ, LA Times)

A new hack targeting celebrities has resulted in the release of nude photos of Katharine McPhee, Kristen Stewart, Miley Cyrus, Stella Maxwell and other stars, along with pics of Tiger Woods and his former girlfriend, Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn, TMZ reports.

The graphic selfies were posted on a website, prompting Woods and others to threaten legal action.

“We’ve learned Woods has already unleashed attorney Michael Holtz, who’s threatening to sue the site if it doesn’t remove the Woods photo STAT,” TMZ reports, adding: “Sources tell TMZ … it wasn’t Tiger’s phone that was hacked, it was Vonn’s. We’re told Tiger had sent Vonn the naked pic while they were dating.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that the photos were posted on what the Times calls “a celebrity smut site.”

A rep for Vonn is quoted saying: “It is an outrageous and despicable invasion of privacy for anyone to steal and illegally publish private intimate photos, Lindsey will take all necessary and appropriate legal action to protect and enforce her rights and interests.”

The Times adds: “The most notorious celebrity-photo compromise so far has been referred to as ‘Celebgate,’ where Jennifer Lawrence was among the victims, along with Kaley Cuoco, Amber Heard and others.”

The report notes that a Pennsylvania man was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2016 in connection with the Celebgate incident.

TVBIZWIRE
Aug 23, 2017
10:51 am
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Finally, a Member of ‘Fake News’ Owns Up to Its Destructive Ways (Chicago Tribune)

A column running under the headline “An apology to Donald Trump from the ‘fake news’ media” appears today in the Chicago Tribune, but the writer, Rex Huppke, appears to have tongue in cheek as he writes: “After watching Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Phoenix, it became clear that we in the media owe the president a sincere apology.”

Huppke goes on to examine Trump’s Tuesday comments, writing that Trump used the rally to “denounce the ‘fake news’ media for being mean, dishonest, bad, America-hating and an all-around pain in his keister. Referring to controversial comments he made in the wake of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Trump said: ‘The words were perfect.'”

Huppke adds: “He even quoted his own perfect words, cleverly omitting the part where he blamed the Charlottesville tragedy on ‘many sides’ rather than just on the Nazi side, creating the controversy in the first place.”

Huppke then notes: ” After spending 15 or so minutes complaining about the media, he said of the media: ‘For the most part, all they do is complain. … These are really, really dishonest people and they’re bad people and I really think they don’t like our country. I really believe that.'”

Huppke goes on to offer an “apology” to Trump on behalf of the fake news media, which you can read by clicking on the link above to the Chicago Tribune.

TVBIZWIRE
Aug 23, 2017
10:44 am
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Two Heavyweights Partner Up to Go After Amazon (NY Times)

Amazon may finally have met its match in the e-commerce space it has dominated, with heavyweights Walmart and Google joining forces to take on the segment leader.

“The two companies said Google would start offering Walmart products to people who shop on Google Express, the company’s online shopping mall,” The New York Times reports. “It’s the first time the world’s biggest retailer has made its products available online in the United States outside of its own website.”

“The partnership, announced on Wednesday, is a testament to the mutual threat facing both companies from Amazon.com,” the report notes. “Amazon’s dominance in online shopping is challenging brick-and-mortar retailers like Walmart, while more people are starting web searches for products they might buy on Amazon instead of Google.”

Still, the big-name partnership does not guarantee success.

“For most consumers, Amazon remains the primary option for online shopping,” The Times notes. “No other retailer can match the size of Amazon’s inventory, the efficiency with which it moves shoppers from browsing to buying, or its many home delivery options.”

The report adds: “The two companies said the partnership was less about how online shopping is done today, but where it is going in the future. They said that they foresaw Walmart customers reordering items they purchased in the past by speaking to Google Home, the company’s voice-controlled speaker and an answer to Amazon’s Echo. Walmart customers can also shop using the Google Assistant, the artificially intelligent software assistant found in smartphones running Google’s Android software.”

TVBIZWIRE
Aug 23, 2017
10:27 am
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New Series From Dick Wolf, Who Has Brought a String of Hits to NBC, Will Not Be on NBC (TVWeek, Oxygen)

The upcoming series from Dick Wolf, whose many hits for NBC have included both the “Law & Order” franchise and the “Chicago” franchise, will be running not on NBC but on Oxygen. The cable channel took the wraps off plans for Wolf’s “Criminal Confessions,” which premieres Sunday, Oct. 1.

“From executive producer Dick Wolf and Shed Media, the series delves into the psychological showdown that transpires inside actual police interrogation rooms between investigators and suspects and dissects what it takes to yield a confession,” Oxygen Media says in the announcement. “Each hour-long episode takes viewers through the emotional twists and turns of a real homicide case from the 911 call to the crime scene and leading up to the interrogation room where detectives corner their prime suspect.”

The announcement adds: “The police officers and detectives will walk us through their strategy while interviews with the suspects’ and victims’ friends and family shed light on the heartbreaking details, taking viewers on an emotional journey with the hope of finding justice. In every case, the interrogating officer will ‘break’ the suspect and get a shocking reveal of what led to the atrocious crime.”

“Criminal Confessions” is the second series from Wolf to be featured on Oxygen, following “Cold Justice.”

Said Wolf: “We are giving viewers an inside look into the investigation of criminals, with an emphasis on the psychological component of confessions. Crime buffs will see a side of police work that has never been examined before.”

“Criminal Confessions” is produced by Wolf Reality and Shed Media with Wolf, Tom Thayer, Pam Healey, John Hesling and Adam Kassen serving as executive producers.

Here’s the trailer …

TVBIZWIRE
Aug 23, 2017
9:39 am
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Sinclair Explains Why Its Proposed Acquisition of Tribune Is Essential for the Future of Broadcast TV (Variety)

The Sinclair Broadcast Group is making the case for its $3.9 billion buyout of Tribune Media, which is awaiting approval after the companies agreed to the deal back in May.

The company’s argument, detailed in a 173-page filing with the FCC, is summed up by Variety this way: “The future of local television is threatened unless TV station owners are allowed to bulk up to compete more effectively with MVPDs and digital competitors.”

Today was the deadline for Sinclair to respond to the more than 1,000 comments received by the FCC from individuals and competitors imploring the panel to reject the merger, Variety notes.

“The union of Sinclair and Tribune would create a broadcast TV behemoth with more than 200 stations reaching 72% of U.S. TV households,” Variety adds.

Replies to Sinclair’s latest filing are due by Aug. 29.

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