Nov 30, 2015
9:41 am

Tribune Publishing Denies Reports That It’s in the Process of Selling the Company (Reuters)

Tribune Publishing Co. has issued a denial of reports that surfaced Friday that indicated the company was in the process of being sold. As we reported over the weekend, the reports followed a tweet Friday from News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch suggesting that Tribune would be bought by a Wall Street company.

Reuters quotes a letter today to Tribune employees, which was also filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, in which the company says: “Tribune Publishing remains committed to its strategy and transformation plan and is not engaged in discussions or a process to sell the company.”

Reuters notes that shares in Tribune Publishing were up 4.3% at $9.69 in early trading today.

tribune publishing

Nov 30, 2015
9:21 am

Two Guys With Unparalleled Promotional Experience Want You to Tap Into Their Creative Juices (TVWeek)

If you don’t know Jeff Kreiner or Bruce Soloway, don’t be alarmed. It only means you probably haven’t worked in the TV news business over the past few decades. For the many who have worked with them, and the few who haven’t, please check out this TVWeek interview with Jeff and Bruce. The occasion is a new company that they recently formed to work together.

BRUCE SOLOWAY: We have known each other since 1979. I was at ABC News as the director and executive producer of advertising and promotion. Jeff was an AD. … He then went to CBS and NBC. It was a time that all of our anchors were well-known: Jennings, Brinkley, Koppel, Walters, Donaldson, Downs and Sawyer. We made them No. 1. I worked for Roone Arledge. It was a learning experience that can never be equaled.

TVWeek: Jeff, you left ABC News after a few years.

JEFF KREINER: Yes, I was recruited to go to CBS in 1981 to work with Dan Rather. I directed some of the broadcasts. Then, in 1989, I got into promotion. I ran the department. In 1993 I went to NBC. I was there for three years and oversaw all of their promotion on the East Coast. I went back to CBS in 1996 to run their news promotion for many years.

So between Bruce and I you are not going to find two guys with more experience in television advertising and promotion, certainly on the news side. We’ve seen everything — from print to online and digital to on-air.

TVWeek: So you’ve decided to call your new company Our Creative Juices.

KREINER: Well, between the two of us we have a lot of creative juices.

SOLOWAY: After I left ABC I started a company that did a lot of interstitials. It was an excellent experience. It was still TV, but it was dealing with sponsors and still being creative but doing different graphics than I had before.

TVWeek: What kind of business are you looking for?

SOLOWAY: Some of the new business we’d like hunt for is political campaigns. I think we are extremely qualified. Since we made the networks winners, we feel we can make some candidates winners. Plus there are a lot of opportunities in digital, with things such as social media, that didn’t exist when we started.

TVWeek: Are you concerned that there have been political specialists around for years and that might make it difficult to break into that field?

KREINER: Over the course of the many years we’ve been in the business we’ve got tremendous contacts. I’m in contact with the person who has produced the promotion and the campaigns for Hillary Clinton and for Bill Clinton. We are good friends and we’ve done a lot of work together over the years. So I’m in touch with the Democratic National Committee as well as local races down here in Florida, where I live.

Besides the political campaigns, we are also focusing on the TV station groups. There are groups now that own 100 stations. That’s a lot of affiliates. For example, I’ve worked with Sinclair before. So I’m in contact with them as well.

TVWeek: To give our readers some idea what you guys have done, please tell me about an interesting challenge you had and how you solved it.

SOLOWAY: I did a campaign for all the stations that was extremely effective and successful. We needed to come up with something for an affiliate meeting that said, basically, that ABC News and the local stations were together. I gave this assignment to our advertising agency at the time, and they failed miserably. So I came up with the “Everywhere” campaign. Everywhere news is happening, we are there. ABC News and WABC News. And so forth, in each market.

We got 200 stations participating in this, all because in one meeting I said the word “Everywhere.” We built the campaign that tied the local stations to the network, making us able to then use the word “Everywhere.” It was truly unique.

KREINER: Here’s one we did at CBS that was the most popular and most used we ever did. And it also tied in over 200 affiliates. My feeling was that stories happen around the world, and as a network we tell stories every day. But how do you bring that home to the viewer? So I came up with a campaign that said “Every story is a local story.” Which basically is saying that no matter where a story is happening here’s how it affects you at home, and here’s why. And Dan Rather cut 215 custom promos introducing to and throwing to the local anchors. It tied in a big story with a local story.

You can find Jeff Kreiner and Bruce Soloway on their new website, Our Creative Juices.


Bruce Soloway

Jeff Kreiner, left, and Bruce Soloway

Nov 30, 2015
8:57 am

Veteran Actor, One of TV’s First Men in Space, Dead at 88 — Known for Role on One of the Few Shows to Air on All Four Early TV Networks (We Love Soaps)

An actor known for his role on a science-fiction series from the early days of television has died. We Love Soaps reports that Al Markim, who played Astro on “Tom Corbett, Space Cadet,” died Nov. 24. He was 88.

The pioneering space show, while primitive by today’s standards, was wildly popular in its day, airing from 1950-1055. ‘Tom Corbett” was one of only a handful of shows to air on all four of the TV networks of the day — CBS, ABC, NBC and DuMont.

Markim’s character was the sidekick of Tom Corbett, played by Frankie Thomas Jr. The series also introduced TV audiences to Frank Sutton, who would become famous as Sgt. Carter on “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.”

Markim went on to a number of other roles, including an early role on the CBS soap opera “Love of Life,” according to the report. He also acted on the stage and co-hosted a number of the Jerry Lewis telethons for muscular dystrophy.

Markim went on to work behind the cameras as a producer, and in 1968 co-founded Teletronics, which evolved into Video Corporation of America. His work in helping to develop the videotape industry in partnership with Sony led to his induction into the Video Hall of Fame in 1996.

Here’s a taste of “Tom Corbett, Space Cadet”:

Nov 30, 2015
8:19 am

NBC News Expands Correspondent’s Role (Variety)

An NBC News correspondent who is a familiar face on the network has picked up some extra work on cable. Variety reports that Keith Morrison, who is seen regularly on NBC’s “Dateline,” will host two shows on Investigation Discovery.

The shows, “Dateline on I.D.” and “Front Page,” are both produced by Peacock Productions, NBC News’ non-fiction production arm, the report notes.

Morrison has been a regular on “Dateline” since 1995. He is set to host “Front Page” specials throughout the coming year, and will debut on “Dateline on I.D.” in January.

“Front Page” features so-called “instamentaries” — quick-turnaround features about recent headline stories.

In a statement, Morrison said: “I’m very much looking forward to the opportunity to continue telling the harrowing stories of crime and the pursuit of justice. By shining a light on these cases, we are able to tackle topics of broader importance to our society.”

investigation discovery-logo

Nov 30, 2015
7:19 am

Trump Points Finger at TV in Latest Controversy (Deadline)

Donald Trump is blaming television for its role in a controversy that has been brewing for the past week over the GOP presidential candidate’s claim that he saw video of thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating after the World Trade Center fell in the 9/11 terrorist attack.

Deadline.com reports that Trump pointed the finger at TV during an appearance today on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” blaming the medium for failing to produce proof of his claim.

Asked by host Joe Scarborough whether Trump was standing by the claim, Trump offered an explanation for the lack of video proof, saying: “Don’t forget … 15 years ago, it wasn’t like it is today, where you press a button and you play a video. Fourteen, 15 years ago, they don’t even put it in files, they destroy half of the stuff.”

Trump added: “They’ll find something. They’re going to find something.”

Trump also addressed the issue Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” insisting that he knows people witnessed the incident in person. “I’ve had hundreds of phone calls to the Trump Organization saying, ‘We saw it. There was dancing in the streets,’” Trump said on the show.

Deadline notes that “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd interjected: “They want to agree with you — that doesn’t make it true.”

Trump was steadfast, telling the host: “Chuck. I’ll tell you, I have a very good memory. I saw it somewhere on television many years ago, and I never forgot it — and it was on television, too.”

Morning Joe

Nov 30, 2015
7:07 am

CBS Series Rewarded for Strong Performance (TVWeek)

A new drama series that has pumped up viewership in its time slot on CBS has earned an extension from the network. CBS ordered seven additional episodes of “Supergirl,” bringing the total order to 20 episodes for the show’s freshman season.

CBS has now extended its orders for all four of its new fall series, including “Life in Pieces,” “Limitless” and “Code Black.”

“Supergirl,” which launched Oct. 26, has been averaging 11.24 million total viewers, with a 2.8 average rating in adults 18-49 and a 3.5 average in adults 25-54. The show has improved its time period from a year ago by +46% in viewers, +40% in adults 18-49 and +25% in adults 25-54.

Based on DC Comics characters, the series stars Melissa Benoist, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh and Jeremy Jordan with David Harewood and Calista Flockhart. Greg Berlanti, Ali Adler, Andrew Kreisberg and Sarah Schechter are executive producers for Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television.


Nov 28, 2015
2:12 am

Rupert Murdoch Tweets ‘Strong word Tribune newspaper group to be bought by big Wall St firm, LA Times to go to philanthropist Eli Broad and local group.’ A Number of Major Newspapers — Including Murdoch’s Wall St. Journal — Do Not Report About the Tweet (USA Today; Orange County Register; LA Business Journal; CNN Money; NY Times)

“Rupert Murdoch, not often an outsider when it comes to knowledge of media deals, told the world Friday that he has ‘strong word’ that Tribune Publishing’s newspaper group is going to be acquired and that it will split off the Los Angeles Times in the process,” reports USA Today.

But a number of major newspapers – including the Murdoch-owned Wall St. Journal – did not see the tweet to be as newsworthy as USA Today, and had not reported on it more than 12 hours after Murdoch sent the tweet on Friday afternoon.

Besides the Wall St. Journal, The New York Times and the Washington Post carried no word about the tweet on their websites. Likewise, the tweet was ignored by the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and other Tribune news properties.

One reason so many news outlets ignored Murdoch’s tweet could be this from California’s Orange County Register: “Murdoch, 84, is known for enthusiastic and unfiltered tweeting, but he may not always get his facts right. In 2004, Murdoch reportedly tipped off the New York Post, which he also owns, that Rep. Dick Gephardt would be John Kerry’s vice-presidential running mate. The Post printed the false rumor.”

Indeed, the Register’s story about the Murdoch tweet also says, “Wall Street analysts expressed doubts that any financial firm would want to buy the publishing company. Moreover, they said, if any firm were interested, it would not want to spin off the Los Angeles Times, Tribune’s flagship newspaper.”

Notes the Los Angeles Business Journal about Murdoch’s tweet: [Eli] Broad said through a spokeswoman that he declined to comment. He did not directly deny the claim.” Broad, who, according to Forbes, has a net worth more than $7 billion, is a longtime booster of Los Angeles, has tried to buy the L.A. Times before, but was rebuffed.

A number of outlets that did report about Murdoch’s tweet, including CNN, noted that Tribune also declined to comment about the tweet.

In a second tweet Murdoch wrote that he did not bid for any of the Tribune newspapers.

Notes the USA Today story, Tribune “has been making moves lately that are consistent with trying to maximize value of an asset before a sale. Tribune said recently that its workforce will shrink by 7% following a buyout of employees. Many of them were at the Times, where there was an exodus of some of the paper’s top editorial staff.

“Plus, there has been plenty of friction between the Times and Tribune. In September, Tribune fired the publisher of the Times, Austin Beutner. That same month, the Financial Times reported that Broad was rebuffed in an attempt to buy the Times”.

To read a detailed account of the friction between Tribune and its flagship L.A. Times, please click here, which will take you to a New York Times story from September.



Nov 25, 2015
1:29 pm

Lawsuit Paints Portrait of Viacom Boss Sumner Redstone as ‘Living Ghost'; Redstone Camp Fires Back (Variety, THR)

Attorneys for Sumner Redstone, chairman of Viacom and CBS, fired back against a lawsuit filed today by the media titan’s former longtime companion, according to media reports. The lawsuit reportedly challenges Redstone’s mental competency.

Variety reports that Manuela Herzer wants to be reinstated as Redstone’s health care agent after being ejected from his life by one of Redstone’s lawyers in mid-October. “The explosive court documents promise to touch off an intense struggle over the end-of-life care of Redstone, 92, as succession plans for his media empire remain unknown,” Variety notes.

An attorney for Redstone has already issued a fiery response to the lawsuit, calling the claims “preposterous” and “lies,” according to media reports.

The Hollywood Reporter says: “In her lawsuit, Herzer calls Redstone ‘a tragic figure in the waning days of an accomplished life,’ ‘a living ghost,’ barely able to … look after himself without a team [of] caretakers. Represented by Pierce O’Donnell and Bert Fields, she attaches the opinion of one doctor who says that since Redstone discovered that ex-girlfriend Sydney Holland had allegedly been unfaithful, he’s suffered ‘profound psychiatric issues.’  Other doctors are said to ‘believe that he will never be able to eat, drink, or speak clearly again.'”

The opposition brief filed today by Redstone’s attorneys allege that Herzer is just after money, THR notes.

The report quotes the brief stating: “Mr. Redstone kicked Ms. Herzer out of his house on October 12, 2015, and since then, Ms. Herzer has been on a warpath. Why? Because she suspected that in the days or weeks following her removal from his home, Mr. Redstone would take action to amend his estate plan, and that whatever benefit might have previously accrued to her would be eliminated.”

Variety notes that Herzer’s legal documents “describe a twilight life of bizarre paradoxes: Redstone is barely sentient, alternately weepy and combative. He’s unable to care for himself, but still fixated on eating steak and having sex daily, if possible, Herzer claims.”

Nov 25, 2015
1:21 pm

How HBO’s ‘Sesame Street,’ Coming in January, Will Be Different (Reuters)

HBO is ready to unveil its version of the long-running children’s show “Sesame Street” on Jan. 16, and Reuters reports that the new series will include some major changes from the PBS version — including a new Latina character, different sets, shorter episodes and an updated theme song.

“HBO and show producers said on Tuesday that Muppets Elmo, Cookie Monster and Big Bird will be joined by real-life character Nina — a young, bilingual Latina who works at the laundromat and bike store — when the educational series arrives at its new home,” Reuters reports.

In a statement, producers indicated the episodes will be cut to 30 minutes each, the theme song has received a “new upbeat update” and the set has been “reimagined.”

Brown Johnson, creative director of Sesame Workshop, said: “Families will see fun and fresh changes to ‘Sesame Street’ and can depend on their favorite Muppet friends to provide them with engaging and educational content.”

Reuters adds: “In the new season, Big Bird has a new nest, Cookie Monster has moved above Hooper’s Store, and Elmo has moved into the 123 Sesame Street brownstone house.”

Celebrity cameos, a mainstay of the older version of the show, will continue. Among the visitors lined up for the new season are Gwen Stefani, Pharrell, Nick Jonas and Sara Bareilles.

sesame street 2

Nov 25, 2015
1:07 pm

Producer Sues Fox Over Long-Running Drama Series (Deadline)

An executive producer on a long-running Fox drama series filed a complaint today in L.A. Superior Court alleging breach of contract and fraudulent inducement, Dominic Patten reports on Deadline.com. “Bones” producer Barry Josephson filed the suit against 20th Century Fox Corp., Fox Broadcasting Co. and Fox Entertainment Group, Patten reports.

“Josephson says the ‘unrelenting’ broadcaster stiffed him and others for potentially millions in promised profit participation,” the story notes. A rep for Fox declined to comment on the action.

Patten reports that the eight-claim lawsuit details “’underreporting’ of more than $19 million from license fees in Europe, ‘misclassifying’ of more than $3.75 million in integration and product-placement deals and ‘misallocated revenue’ from Fox-owned Hulu, among other focused examples.”

Josephson reportedly accuses high-ranking Fox officials, including Gary Newman and Gary Walden, who are now co-CEOs of Fox, of using hardball tactics, including threatening to cancel the show, to get Josephson and others — including showrunner Hart Hansen, producer Kathleen Reichs and stars Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz, who are also producers on the show — to agree to reduced episodic license fees.

“Josephson is seeking unspecified monetary damages, punitive damages, a full accounting and restitution,” the report notes.

“Bones,” which premiered in 2005, has been airing on Fox for 11 seasons.


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