Nov 24, 2014
1:57 pm

Media Giant Hit by Large-Scale Hacker Attack (Deadline)

One of the major media companies has been the target of what appears to be a major hacking attack. In a story running under the headline “Sony Paralyzed by Computer Hacker Attack With Ominous Message,”’s Mike Fleming Jr. reports that the attack on Sony “has basically brought the whole global corporation to an electronic standstill.”

The report notes that company computers in New York and around the world were hit by the attacker. “As a precaution, computers in Los Angeles were shut down while the corporation deals with the breach,” the report adds.

Images have been posted on a number of media sites that show what is appearing on computer screens that are impacted by the hacking. (See image below.)

A Sony spokesperson reportedly said only: “We are investigating an IT matter.”

“It gets more bizarre as the message claims this is just the beginning and then threatens to release documents by 11 PM this evening,” Fleming’s Deadline piece adds. “There is no reason given why this is happening, and no specific demands. Mentioned are websites in places around the world, some of which don’t even function.”

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Screen image from a hacked Sony computer

Nov 24, 2014
1:49 pm

Can ‘Sons of Anarchy’s’ Gemma Find Redemption? Katey Sagal Opens Up (TVWeek)

As “Sons of Anarchy” hurtles at high speed toward its series denouement on Dec. 9 after seven adrenalized seasons, the drama and speculation around the fate of one lead character is fiercer than ever.

That would be Gemma Teller Morrow, played by Katey Sagal, the sometimes gun-toting, leather-clad and tough-talking matriarch of the motorcycle gang who has gone to extreme lengths to protect her family and in particular, her only son, Jax Teller.

Now Gemma herself — Sagal, that is — opens up about what hope may lie ahead for Gemma. Click here to read an in-depth interview with Sagal in a report filed by TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin.

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Nov 24, 2014
1:41 pm

Budweiser’s Clydesdales Alive and Kicking — Brewer Says the Media Got the Story Wrong (Ad Age)

The brewer behind Budweiser, Anheuser-Busch InBev, refuted reports today in the media that said the Clydesdales are being dropped from the company’s marketing efforts, Ad Age reports.

The company issued a statement saying: “The story this morning may have left a wrong impression — the Budweiser Clydesdales will, in fact, be featured in next year’s Super Bowl advertising and are also a part of upcoming holiday responsible drinking advertising. The Clydesdales play a strong role for the brand, representing Budweiser quality and care for more than 80 years. As icons of the brand — and relevant symbols of integrity, perfection and team spirit for all generations — they are important to the brand and our campaigns.”

The Ad Age report adds: “Speculation on the Clydesdales’ future was sparked by a story in The Wall Street Journal that stated Budweiser ‘will not trot out the traditional Budweiser Clydesdales for this year’s holiday advertising.’”

TVWeek carried a report earlier today based on the WSJ report, which repeated the suggestion that the Clydesdales are being scrapped. That report generated a number of comments calling the move a mistake. (You can read our earlier report, along with the comments, and see a beloved Clydesdales ad, by clicking here.)

Please click here to read the full report in Ad Age.

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The Budweiser Clydesdales

Nov 24, 2014
1:27 pm

Netflix Chief Predicts the Death of Broadcast TV — and Gives a Date (THR)

The head of streaming service Netflix gave a date for the predicted death of broadcast television. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings indicated that broadcast TV will probably die by 2030.

The article quotes Hastings saying: “It’s kind of like the horse, you know, the horse was good until we had the car. The age of broadcast TV will probably last until 2030.”

Hastings also commented on newly announced moves by Nielsen to measure viewing on Netflix and other streaming services.

Hastings reportedly said of Nielsen’s plans: “It’s not very relevant. There’s so much viewing that happens on a mobile phone or an iPad that [Nielsen won't] capture.”

THR notes: “According to a Wall Street Journal report, Nielsen will use content’s audio on televisions to identify shows, but the measurement will not include mobile devices. Nevertheless, the ratings data could have a big effect on negotiations for streaming rights for Netflix and rival Amazon.”


Nov 24, 2014
1:21 pm

HBO Brings Aboard Top Actors for Next Round of ‘True Detective’ (Reuters)

HBO announced a number of casting moves for the upcoming season of its acclaimed “True Detective.” Reuters reports that Rachel McAdams, Taylor Kitsch and Kelly Reilly have been added to the cast of the crime drama.

“The three will join two previously announced stars, Irish actor Colin Farrell and U.S. actor Vince Vaughn, in the eight-part miniseries, which was a big hit for HBO earlier this year and received five Primetime Emmy awards,” Reuters reports. “The second season is in production in California and revolves around three police officers, a career criminal and a murder, HBO said.”

Farrell is set to play one of the lead roles, as is Vaughn. Farrell’s character is “compromised detective Ray Velcoro,” the report notes, with Vaughn playing criminal mastermind Frank Semyon.

“HBO said McAdams, the 36-year-old ‘Midnight in Paris’ actress, would play an uncompromising and ethical sheriff, while ‘Lone Survivor’ actor Kitsch, 33, will play a California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer,” the report notes. “Reilly, a 37-year-old English actress, will play Semyon’s wife, Jordan, a former D-list actress.”

HBO has yet to announce a premiere date.

rachel mcadams

Rachel McAdams

Nov 24, 2014
8:27 am

ABC Cancels High-Profile Show Before It Hits the Air (THR)

ABC has pulled the plug on a troubled show that started out with a strong pedigree but never got past the pilot stage. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the network scrapped the high-profile project “Members Only.”

The straight-to-series midseason drama was to have starred John Stamos, with with Betsy Brandt of “Breaking Bad” in its ensemble cast, and would have been David O. Russell’s TV debut, THR reports. But the “American Hustle” director, who was to co-write and co-executive produce with Susannah Grant (“Erin Brockovich”), dropped out a month after the January pickup.

R.J. Cutler ended up directing the pilot for the planned series, which had an “Upstairs/Downstairs”-like plot but was set in a private country club. ABC reportedly delivered the bad news to the staff over the weekend.

members only-abc-title

Nov 24, 2014
8:17 am

Why One of the Biggest Advertisers on TV Is Ditching an Iconic Ad Campaign That Has Been Airing for More Than a Quarter-Century (WSJ)

[Editor's note: After we ran this story this morning, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the brewer behind Budweiser, came out with a statement refuting the Wall Street Journal report we referenced in our story. The brewer is saying the Clydesdales will remain a part of the marketing effort behind Bud. Please click here to read more about the update to the story.]

We’ve seen these heart-tugging spots on television for more than 25 years, but now they are about to go away, as one of TV’s biggest advertisers ditches its iconic advertising campaign.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Budweiser is ditching the Clydesdales because it wants to appeal to younger consumers.

Since 1987, Budweiser’s holiday marketing has featured beautiful Clydesdale horses pulling a red sleigh, but this year they will stay in the stable, WSJ reports. Instead of running ads that appeal to many age groups, Budweiser has decided to target 21- to 27-year-olds in an attempt to halt a slide in sales, the Journal reports.

In 1988, Budweiser was producing almost 50 million barrels annually; last year, it was down to 16 million barrels. Sister brand Bud Light surpassed it in 2001 as the top-selling beer.

To replace the horses in this year’s holiday spots, Budweiser has a campaign that asks, “If you could grab a Bud with any of your friends these holidays, who would it be?” as people in their 20s look into the camera and name their friends, the story reports.

Another upcoming change? In 2015 Budweiser plans to sponsor food festivals and “add parties in college towns around a two-day music festival it started with Jay-Z in Philadelphia in 2012.”

Here’s a Clydesdales commercial from the Super Bowl earlier this year that has become a viral sensation, with more than 53 million views on YouTube:

Nov 24, 2014
8:14 am

Why Network Anchors Have Been Holding Secret Meetings (CNN)

A number of major television news anchors have been holding secret meetings in an attempt to land an interview with Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Miss., this summer.

CNN reported that NBC’s Matt Lauer, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, CBS’s Scott Pelley and CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon have all conducted off-the-record meetings with Wilson. The meetings are unusual because Wilson hasn’t been seen in public since Brown was killed in early August.

After “Reliable Sources” anchor Brian Stelter reported on the secret meetings Sunday, his fellow CNN journalists Cooper and Lemon confirmed via Twitter that the meetings had taken place, apparently in response to critical comments from viewers.

anderson cooper-ac360

Nov 24, 2014
8:11 am

NBC Series Will Have a Short Run (Deadline)

NBC has given the word to the cast of one of its new fall dramas that no new episodes will be ordered this season beyond the first 13. Cast members on “Constantine” got the news Friday, reports.

Nonetheless, the show remains a contender for getting a second-season renewal, the report notes. The show will continue to run Fridays at 10 p.m. until all the new episodes are exhausted.

Deadline noted that if NBC had wanted to keep the show in continuous production it would have had to make a decision with ratings information from just a handful of episodes, because the show’s launch was delayed until late October.

Developed by Daniel Cerone and David S. Goyer, the show stars Matt Ryan as demon hunter John Constantine, with Angelica Celaya and Charles Helford also among the series regulars.


Nov 24, 2014
7:47 am

New Details Surface About NBC’s Firing of Top ‘Today’ Exec (THR)

A new report says last week’s firing of Jamie Horowitz from the top job at NBC News’ “Today” show came after Horowitz proposed sweeping changes to the show. He was fired barely three months into his tenure, which was an observation period before his scheduled official start Dec. 1.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that his undoing came after he made a five-hour presentation in mid-November to NBC News President Deborah Turness that proposed sweeping changes that would have affected many of the show’s cast of characters.

Among Horowitz’s proposed changes: “Today” lead co-anchor Savannah Guthrie would be dropped, and Natalie Morales would be demoted, the story reports.

In addition, THR reports, his plan called for 10 a.m. co-anchor Hoda Kotb to move to the show’s earlier hours, and longtime weatherman Al Roker to be moved off that beat. Meanwhile, Josh Elliott was targeted by Horowitz for a much bigger role at the show.

Instead, Horowitz was summarily fired.

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