May 24, 2016
12:09 pm

Bill Cosby Ordered to Stand Trial on Sexual Assault Charges (CNN)

Comedian Bill Cosby will stand trial for felony indecent assault after a judge determined today that there is sufficient evidence in a Pennsylvania case to proceed to trial.

Cosby, who appeared in court for the pretrial hearing, will return to court July 20, with the start date for his trial still to be determined, CNN reports.

“Cosby faces three counts of felony indecent assault from a 2004 case involving Andrea Constand, an employee at his alma mater, Temple University. She was the first of more than 50 women who have accused the comedian of sexual misconduct,” CNN reports. “If convicted, Cosby faces up to 10 years in prison.”

With Constand not in court today, the defense team questioned the reliability of her 2005 statement to police, the story reports.

“In the statement, Constand said Cosby invited her to his home in 2004 and told her to wear comfortable clothes. Constand said she was given two pills to ‘take the edge off’ and was later sexually assaulted,” CNN notes.

The report adds: “Bruce Castor, the Montgomery County district attorney at the time of the alleged incident, did not file sexual assault charges against Cosby, citing ‘insufficient credible and admissible evidence.'”

May 24, 2016
11:57 am

In Explosive Deposition Excerpts, Bill Cosby Admits to Drug-Filled Romps With Young Women (NY Post, AP, TVWeek)

Even as Bill Cosby smiled and waved to onlookers today while arriving at criminal court, newly unearthed deposition excerpts were making the rounds in which Cosby admits to plying young women with drugs and booze and having sex with them, the New York Post reports.

Cosby’s pre-trial hearing today in Pennsylvania didn’t go his way, either — he was ordered to stand trial on sexual assault charges, as we reported separately.

Meanwhile, media reports focused on excerpts from depositions Cosby gave in 2005 and 2006 in connection with a civil suit against him by Andrea Constand — the same woman he’s accused of assaulting in the criminal case.

In the depositions, Cosby “admitted to having sex with at least two teen-aged girls and said an agency would send ‘five or six’ models to his studio each week while he was filming one of his sitcoms,” the Post reports.

Excerpts of the depositions were released this week by the Associated Press.

The AP report includes the following account of a discussion in which Cosby was asked about his use of quaaludes:

“Cosby testified that he had gotten quaaludes from his doctor in Los Angeles in the 1970s,” the AP reports. “He said he was given seven prescriptions for the now-banned sedative, ostensibly for a sore back.”

“Q: Why didn’t you ever take the quaaludes?

“A: Because I used them.

“Q: For what?

“A: The same as a person would say, “Have a drink.”

“Q: You gave them to other people?

“A: Yes.

“Q: Did you believe at that time that it was illegal for you to dispense those drugs?

“A: Yes.

“Q: How did (the doctor) know that you didn’t plan to use (them)?

“A: What was happening at that time was that, that was, quaaludes happen to be the drug that kids, young people were using to party with and there were times when I wanted to have them just in case.

“Q: When you got the quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?

“A. Yes.”

You can click here to read extensive excerpts published by the AP.

May 24, 2016
11:31 am

HBO Names New Head of Programming (THR)

Following the sudden exit late last week of Michael Lombardo as HBO programming chief, the pay-cable channel has named Casey Bloys as president of programming, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“The shakeup, which left many of HBO’s top producers blindsided, comes during a whirlwind year for the former comedy executive, who was bumped up to president of series, late night and specials following the ouster of drama head Michael Ellenberg in late January,” the story reports.

Lombardo, meanwhile, is transitioning to a producer role, with the report citing insiders saying he will have “a significant deal at HBO.” “In an interview shortly after the news broke, Lombardo acknowledged that the term ‘producer’ would be loosely defined, noting that he’s looking to do something entrepreneurial while remaining close to the creative and his longtime network home,” THR notes.

The report adds: “Bloys is no doubt green for a role of this size and scale, as his domain included merely comedy until roughly four months ago. It should be noted, though, that in that space, the well-liked executive fared well, having shepherded such series as ‘Silicon Valley,’ ‘Girls’ and ‘Veep’ as well as newer entry ‘Ballers,’ a more recent attempt to broaden the network’s comedy brand.”


May 24, 2016
11:07 am

Congressional Report: NFL Improperly Tried to Influence Concussion Research (NY Times)

An investigation by members of a congressional panel concluded that the NFL improperly attempted to influence research into concussions by the National Institutes of Health, The New York Times reports.

The league agreed in 2012 to donate “tens of millions of dollars to concussion research” overseen by the NIH, the story reports. At the time, the move was “widely seen as a positive turning point in football’s long history of playing down the long-term effects of brain injuries on players,” The Times adds.

The NFL indicated then that it would have no influence over how the money was used. “But the league and its head, neck and spine committee worked to improperly influence the government research, trying to steer the study toward a doctor with ties to the league, according to a study conducted by a congressional committee and released on Monday,” the story reports.

The study was conducted by Democratic members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. It concluded: “Our investigation has shown that while the NFL had been publicly proclaiming its role as funder and accelerator of important research, it was privately attempting to influence that research. The NFL attempted to use its ‘unrestricted gift’ as leverage to steer funding away from one of its critics.”

In a statement, the NFL acknowledged raising concerns about the research but said it handled the situation appropriately. “There is no dispute that there were concerns raised about both the nature of the study in question and possible conflicts of interest,” the league stated. “These concerns were raised for review and consideration through the appropriate channels.”


May 24, 2016
10:44 am

Wow! Local Sportscaster Goes WAY Off Script, Attacks His Colleague — Watch the Video (YouTube, TVWeek)

As on-air meltdowns go, an incident that took place during a live news broadcast at the San Francisco station KRON-TV is right up there with the most awkward.

Veteran sportscaster Gary Radnich apparently felt newscaster Catherine Heenan stole his thunder when she announced that LeBron James would be starring in the new “Space Jam” movie, and Radnich suddenly launched into a verbal assault in the midst of the sports report.

Here’s the clip …

May 24, 2016
10:17 am

Why Did Bernie Sanders Drop a Hollywood Celebrity From the Speaker Lineup? (THR, TVWeek, Twitter, YouTube)

A Hollywood celebrity who has endorsed the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign was “uninvited” after being slated to introduce Sanders on a campaign stop in East Los Angeles. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Sanders campaign made a last-minute decision to opt out of having Tommy Chong do the honors.

Chong, who was half of the pot-focused comedy duo Cheech & Chong, remains an outspoken activist for the legalization of marijuana. A spokesman for the Sanders campaign said in an email to THR: “We appreciate his support but a scheduling issue came up.”

But Chong had a different take on the snub, calling it “an insult” and telling THR: “It’s lip service to get the votes, but they don’t want to endorse what I stand for and what I’ve stood for all my professional career.”

THR adds: “Chong, who was invited on Sunday to Sanders’ noon rally in Lincoln Park, says he is sure the campaign put distance between himself and Sanders over the marijuana issue, calling the move a ‘weakness’ by the Sanders camp. He joked that his hair and makeup were done for nothing.”

But Chong continues to “feel the Bern,” commenting later on Twitter: “Hope to continue my support, reschedule, and continue activism, political change and promoting peace anywhere possible.”

Here’s a clip Chong posted earlier this year in support of Sanders — with the marijuana issue front and center …

May 24, 2016
10:01 am

Elijah Wood Says His Comments on Pedophilia in Hollywood Have Been Misinterpreted — Here’s What He Really Meant (THR, Sunday Times, TVWeek)

After inadvertently becoming a focal point of a flurry of reports about child sexual abuse in Hollywood, actor Elijah Wood said he didn’t mean to imply that he had personal insights into the problem.

Wood clarified his views for The Hollywood Reporter after comments he made in an interview for the U.K. publication The Sunday Times became widely circulated.

“The Sunday Times interviewed me about my latest film, but the story became about something else entirely,” said the star of “The Hobbit,” who is a former child star. In that interview, Wood was asked about alleged U.K. child abuser Jimmy Savile and responded, in part: “Clearly something major was going on in Hollywood. It was all organized. There are a lot of vipers in this industry, people who only have their own interests in mind.”

He added: “There is darkness in the underbelly. If you can imagine it, it’s probably happened.”

“The quotes have been picked up by dozens of news outlets with stories framing Wood as having coming clean about dark and long-held secrets,” THR reports, citing a headline by the Daily Beast that reads: “Elijah Wood: Hollywood Is Full of Pedophiles.”

“But Wood tells THR that his comments have been wildly misinterpreted, and that his only knowledge of child sexual predation in Hollywood comes from news reports and the 2015 documentary film ‘An Open Secret,’ directed by Amy Berg,” THR reports.

Wood told THR: “Let me be clear: This subject of child abuse is an important one that should be discussed and properly investigated. But as I made absolutely clear to the writer, I have no firsthand experience or observation of the topic, so I cannot speak with any authority beyond articles I have read and films I have seen.”

May 24, 2016
9:44 am

Oscar-Winning Actress to Teach at the London School of Economics (THR, TVWeek)

An Oscar-winning actress known for making her share of surprise moves has just made another one by accepting a teaching position at the London School of Economics. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Angelina Jolie, who won an Oscar in 2000 for her supporting role in “Girl, Interrupted,” has been appointed a visiting professor at the school.

The school, one of Britain’s most prestigious universities, confirmed that Jolie will be involved with students working toward a master’s degree in Women, Peace and Security.

In a statement, Jolie said: “I hope other academic institutions will follow this example, as it is vital that we broaden the discussion on how to advance women’s rights and end impunity for crimes that disproportionately affect women, such as sexual violence in conflict. I am looking forward to teaching and to learning from the students as well as to sharing my own experiences of working alongside governments and the United Nations.”

Jolie served more than a decade as a Goodwill Ambassador with the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees.

london school of economics

May 24, 2016
8:57 am

Producer of Broadway Smash ‘Hamilton’ to Develop TV Projects (TVWeek)

The producer of the Broadway smash “Hamilton” and his producing partner, a former NBC executive, will be developing TV projects after signing a production deal. Universal Television announced that Jeffrey Seller and Flody Suarez signed with the company.

In announcing the deal, NBC Entertainment and Universal TV Chairman Bob Greenblatt said: “Jeffrey’s spectacular track record on Broadway and his knack for finding and nurturing brilliant new talent, such as the creative forces behind ‘Rent,’ ‘Avenue Q,’ ‘In the Heights’ and ‘Hamilton,’ is nothing short of remarkable. There is more and more cross-pollination these days from theater to television, especially at NBC, and we’re excited to see where he and Flody’s instincts and talent relationships will go in the world of television.”

For Suarez, the signing marks a return to the NBC fold. Suarez was previously VP of development for the network, working on shows including “ER” and “Just Shoot Me.” He’s currently a consultant on “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.”

Seller has a long track record of Broadway success, having produced Tony winners “Rent,” “Avenue Q” and “In the Heights” along with revivals of “La Boheme” and “West Side Story.”

“I’ve been obsessed with storytelling since the fourth grade,” Seller says in the announcement. “Having now spent over 30 years telling stories on stage, I’m excited by the opportunity Bob has given me (and Flody) to stretch my muscles and apply my craft to television. I couldn’t be happier to be with NBCUniversal.”

“Hamilton,” starring Lin-Manuel Miranda, recently received a record 16 Tony nominations.

universal television

May 24, 2016
7:07 am

Love Her or Hate Her, ‘Chewbacca Mom’ Hits Late-Night TV (TVWeek, CBS)

In a follow-up to one of the most widely viewed — and widely hated — videos on social media in a long time, the woman who has become known as “Chewbacca Mom” has landed on the late-night circuit.

Candace Payne, who became a viral sensation after sharing her enthusiasm over a new Chewbacca mask, appeared Monday on CBS’s “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” and the event prompted a cameo by a key player in the “Star Wars” universe.

Click here to see the original “Chewbacca Mom” video, which continues to rack up hits and has now topped 140 million views in just a few days on Facebook.

Check out the new “Late Late Show” clips below …

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