Aug 27, 2015
1:31 pm

MSNBC Pulls Plug on Show That Has Been a Staple on the Network (AP)

MSNBC is pulling the plug on a show that airs daily on the cable network. The AP reports that the network is taking “Politics Nation,” hosted by the Rev. Al Sharpton, out of the daily rotation.

“Sharpton’s ‘Politics Nation’ has aired at 6 p.m. ET on weeknights for the past four years at the ratings-challenged news network,” the story reports. “MSNBC is in the midst of wholesale changes under NBC News boss Andrew Lack, de-emphasizing its left-leaning programming during the daytime hours in favor of more straight news shows.”

Sharpton will continue to be a presence on the channel, with a new weekly version of “Politics Nation” set to air Sundays at 8 a.m., beginning Oct. 4.

The final installment of the daily program is set for Sept. 4.

The AP report notes: “Sharpton’s show occasionally put MSNBC in awkward positions, since he continued his political activism while doing some stories where there was racial controversy while remaining host of a news program.”

politics nation-al sharpton-msnbc

Aug 27, 2015
1:17 pm

Ready for More ‘Skin’? Competition Show Picked Up for Third Season (TVWeek)

A TV series that has been doing a lot to bring new viewers to its channel will return for a third season. GSN announced the third-season pickup for the body-painting competition “Skin Wars,” hosted by supermodel Rebecca Romijn.

The show has been GSN’s highest-rated series, the network announced. Romijn will be back on the job as host of the 10-episode third season.

RuPaul Charles will be back as a judge, along with body-painting experts Craig Tracy and Robin Slonina.

The announcement comes soon after the season two finale delivered more than 1.1 million viewers.

“‘Skin Wars’ has been seen by over 18 million total unique viewers since the show launched in 2014 and currently has more than doubled (+125%) the year-to-date time period average with total viewers,” GSN announced. “This season also saw the show deliver its most watched episode ever for the franchise in key demos W18-49, W25-54 and P25-54 on a Live+3 basis. The success of the series has been key in putting GSN on pace for both its best year and summer ever, as it is currently up 24% in Prime 8p-11p over year-ago and up 30% over last summer in total viewers.”

Amy Introcaso-Davis, executive vice president, programming, at GSN, commented: “’Skin Wars’ has been an integral part of introducing GSN to millions of new, younger viewers and has truly become a game changer for us. The success of the show has also provided us a great platform to showcase new series, as evidenced by the strong debut of ‘Steampunk’d’ last week, which was one of our top-rated new series launches.”

“Skin Wars” is executive produced by Michael Levitt of Michael Levitt Productions (“Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List,” “Ask Oprah’s All Stars,” “Billboard Music Awards”), Jill Goularte, Colleen Sands and Rebecca Romijn. Craig Tracy and Robin Slonina serve as producers.

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Aug 27, 2015
1:09 pm

‘Sons of Anarchy’ Spinoff in the Works From Kurt Sutter (THR)

One of the outlaw motorcycle gangs featured prominently on “Sons of Anarchy” is ready to ride again. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that “Sons” creator Kurt Sutter is working on a spinoff focusing on the Mayans.

The Mayans, under the leadership of Marcus Alvarez, played by Emilio Rivera, went through a series of changes during the seven seasons “Sons” aired on FX — from their initial role as bitter enemies of the Sons of Anarchy to their eventual role as allies.

For now, THR reports, Sutter “is keeping mum on details, so questions remain about the time period and the potential for ‘Sons’ stars to return. What he did reveal is that it will be a different show, noting that ‘tone, pace, storytelling will be unique.'”

The report notes that it’s still early in the development process for the spinoff. The original series wrapped in late 2014.

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Aug 27, 2015
1:01 pm

Comedy Central’s ‘Daily Show’ Names Key Production Exec, Maps Expansion Plans (TVWeek)

More changes are in the works at Comedy Central’s rebooted “Daily Show” following the departure of longtime host Jon Stewart.

The network announced today that it has named Baratunde Thurston as supervising producer on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” which is set to premiere Sept. 28.

Michele Ganeless, president, Comedy Central, made the announcement today. Thurston is described as a digital entrepreneur-comedian-writer-author-performer.

Thurston’s appointment coincides with plans to expand the show’s footprint across social and digital platforms. Thurston will oversee the expansion, including creation and production of original content for a range of digital and social outlets.

Baratunde ThurstonBaratunde Thurston

Aug 27, 2015
9:47 am

Graphic Video of the Slayings of a News Reporter and Cameraman Raises Moral and Ethical Questions (SF Chronicle)

“When video of the on-air shooting of a Virginia news reporter and cameraman [on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015] spread within minutes across the country — with the killer even posting his own footage online — they became the latest exhibits in a moral and ethical drama that is playing out in blood at newspapers and TV stations and on social media,” writes Peter Fimrite in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The story says, “Among the central questions were whether media producers ought to be broadcasting footage of a double slaying, and what effect does such video, repeating over and over, have on society, let alone unstable potential copycats?”

“‘Yes, everything is available online,’ Bob Papper, a journalism professor emeritus at Hofstra University in Long Island, N.Y., who has surveyed trends in television and radio for 22 years” told the Chronicle. Papper continued, “I don’t know if it drives what’s on TV other than it makes us numb to the realities of it. It may well change the standard, so it’s possible young people have a very different standard of what to show than an old fogy like me, but I don’t think we need to see people being killed on television.”

The Chronicle also spoke to Ed Wasserman, dean of the graduate school of journalism at the University of California at Berkeley. He “said there is a tendency in the media to pander to the public’s morbid fascination. If videos like the one from Virginia aren’t shown, however, the news media could be accused of concealing facts from the public. … Wasserman said coverage of the carnage in Vietnam changed people’s opinions about the war, while the lack of such coverage in Iraq concealed ‘the horror and public suffering’ that he felt the public needed to know about.

“‘The trade-off is between needlessly horrifying people and concealing what people have a right to be exposed to in order to properly respond to this gruesome act,’ Wasserman said. ‘It’s complicated. Victims of bloodshed have rights, too. At some level there is a privacy right not to have the image of their slaughter made into public currency.’”

If you are interested in this story, more details can be found if you click here, which takes you to the original Chronicle piece.

Aug 27, 2015
9:31 am

Killer of Virginia News Reporter and Cameraman Had Worked at Other Stations (SF Chronicle)

The person who gunned down a TV reporter and cameraman in Virginia on live TV Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015, started his TV career at KPIX in San Francisco in 1993, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

According to the article, Vester Lee Flanagan II “started as a news intern for KPIX-TV in San Francisco in 1993, and was later given a paid staff position as a production assistant and weekend news writer.

“‘When Vester worked for KPIX, he was just a young, eager kid out of journalism school and like so many other interns and new employees who came through there in my 30 years at KPIX, he just wanted to be on TV and to do a good job,’ said retired station anchor Barbara Rodgers.”

The story adds: “After leaving KPIX in 1996, Flanagan bounced around a series of small markets in the South. He lived in San Francisco and worked as a customer service representative at PG&E from 2001 to 2002 before he made another go at TV news.

“In 2000, Flanagan filed a $15,000 federal lawsuit against WTWC-TV, an NBC affiliate in Tallahassee, Fla., charging racial discrimination and retaliation. He claimed a producer called him a ‘monkey’ in 1999, the year he was hired as a newscaster and anchor there. The suit was settled in 2001.”


Aug 27, 2015
9:27 am

Ashley Madison Hacking Incident Reveals Women on the Site Were Fake (Gizmodo, Us)

A security breach that exposed secret user data on the marital affair site Ashley Madison, which we reported on previously, revealed that the women who supposedly were listed on the site included a large number of what appears to be fake accounts.

Gizmodo editor-in-chief Annalee Newitz reports that an in-depth analysis leads to this conclusion: “When you look at the evidence, it’s hard to deny that the overwhelming majority of men using Ashley Madison weren’t having affairs. They were paying for a fantasy.”

Us magazine examined the Gizmodo analysis and reported: “The official numbers from the site showed that 31 million of the accounts belonged to men while 5 million supposedly were linked to females. However, Newitz took a deeper dive into the landscape of Ashley Madison and found that a whopping 10,000 accounts were created with the Ashleymadison.com email, implying that they were test subscriptions. Nine thousand of those 10,000 belonged to women.”

Focusing on three data fields — time stamps, chat users and message replies — the Gizmodo analysis found a “disproportionate number” of fake accounts or test accounts.

“Using the data field of mail_last_time, Newitz found that only 1,492 of the women on the site had ever checked messages, compared to the 20 million-plus men,” Us reports.

Similarly, only 2,400 women had accessed chat_last_time, vs. 11 million-plus men, the Us report notes. And only 9,700 women had ever replied to a message, compared with 5.9 million men.

Newitz adds: “Out of 5.5 million female accounts, roughly zero percent had ever shown any kind of activity at all, after the day they were created.”

“What I discovered was that the world of Ashley Madison was a far more dystopian place than anyone had realized,” Newitz writes on Gizmodo. “This isn’t a debauched wonderland of men cheating on their wives. It isn’t even a sadscape of 31 million men competing to attract those 5.5 million women in the database. Instead, it’s like a science fictional future where every woman on Earth is dead, and some Dilbert-like engineer has replaced them with badly-designed robots.”

The Gizmodo report concludes: “Ashley Madison employees did a pretty decent job making their millions of women’s accounts look alive. They left the data in these inactive accounts visible to men, showing nicknames, pictures, sexy comments. But when it came to data that was only visible … to company admins, they got sloppy. … Either way, we’re left with data that suggests Ashley Madison is a site where tens of millions of men write mail, chat, and spend money for women who aren’t there.”

Among the users whose subscriptions were exposed in the data breach were reality personalities Josh Duggar of “19 Kids and Counting” and Josh Taekman, the husband of “Real Housewives of New York” star Kristen Taekman, Us notes.


Aug 27, 2015
9:17 am

Two of the Hottest Names in Hollywood Are Writing a Movie and Will Star in It Together (NY Times)

Two seemingly very different stars — an Oscar winner and a comedian who has nurtured an image as an outside-the-box personality — have joined forces to write and star in a movie.

The stars are Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Schumer, who both happen to be burning brightly in Hollywood at the moment. Lawrence, who plays Katniss Everdeen in the “Hunger Games” movies, was recently named by Forbes magazine as the highest-paid actress of 2015, while Schumer has been on a roll with the fourth-season renewal of her Comedy Central series “Inside Amy Schumer” along with hosting the 2015 MTV Movie Awards and seeing the summer release of her star vehicle feature film “Trainwreck.”

The New York Times reports that the two women, who have become friends since first meeting about two months ago, have been collaborating on the comedy screenplay.

Lawrence told the paper: “We play sisters. We’re almost done writing. It just flowed out of us. We’ve got about 100 pages right now.”

Lawrence adds in the Times interview: “Amy and I were creatively made for each other. We have different flavors. It’s been the most fun experience of my life. We start the day off on the phone, laughing. And then we send each other pages. And we crack up. I’m flying out tomorrow to see her in Chicago. We’ll write a little bit with her sister, Kim, who worked with Amy when she was writing ‘Trainwreck.’”

inside amy schumer-title

Aug 27, 2015
9:01 am

Stage Is Set for Music’s ‘Other’ Biggest Night (TVWeek)

The Grammy Awards may still be the music industry’s biggest night, but music’s “other” biggest night takes place this Sunday, when the MTV Video Music Awards are set to air.

Executive producer Van Toffler said he expects this year’s ceremony to be “loud and unpredictable.” The event has already generated plenty of buzz by naming Miley Cyrus as host and unveiling a lineup of A-list performers and guests.

TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin interviewed Toffler and has all the lowdown, including the latest update on the list of confirmed guests, in her special report — please click here to read it.


Aug 27, 2015
8:44 am

Sinclair and Dish Settle Their Differences, Ending ‘One of the Largest Blackouts in History’ (TVNewsCheck)

After a blackout that saw the Sinclair Broadcast Group TV stations go dark on Dish Network systems for a short period of time amid a contentious carriage dispute, the two companies have come to terms, TVNewsCheck reports.

Sinclair announced Wednesday that it has reached an agreement in principle with Dish covering carriage of 129 Sinclair TV stations in 79 markets, the story reports. The parties have agreed to a two-week extension to put the finishing touches on the accord.

Barry Faber, Sinclair EVP-general counsel and chief negotiator, said: “We are pleased to announce that we were able to come to an agreement in principal with Dish, and we regret any inconvenience that was caused to the Dish subscribers as a result of the short blackout.”

The report adds: “Earlier in the day, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler had directed the Media Bureau to convene an emergency meeting with Dish and Sinclair. After learning of the agreement, Wheeler issued this statement: ‘On behalf of more than 5 million consumers nationwide, I am pleased Dish and Sinclair have agreed to end one of the largest blackouts in history and extend their negotiations. The FCC will remain vigilant while the negotiations continue.’”

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