Jun 27, 2017
10:15 am

Serena Williams Leaks Vanity Fair Cover Photo of Herself Proudly Posing Pregnant and Nude (TVWeek, Instagram)

A naked photo of pregnant tennis superstar Serena Williams, which you can see below, will grace the August cover of Vanity Fair magazine, and Williams leaked the cover shot on her Instagram account.

Williams, who won the Australian Open for the seventh time back in January, is taking the rest of the year off from tennis after announcing her pregnancy in April. She is engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Here’s the photo posted by Williams …

Serena Williams on Vanity Fair (Instagram)

Jun 27, 2017
9:56 am

Bill Cosby’s Legal Battle Shifts to California (AP)

Embattled TV icon Bill Cosby has barely had time to bask in the mistrial in his Pennsylvania criminal trial two weeks ago, and he’s already facing another legal hassle. The AP reports that the comedian’s legal fight shifts this time to California, where a hearing was scheduled today to set a trial date in a lawsuit accusing Cosby of the sexual assault of a teenage girl at the Playboy Mansion decades ago.

“Judy Huth accused the comedian of forcing her to perform a sex act on him in a bedroom at the mansion around 1974 when she was 15,” the AP reports.

“Cosby, 79, is fighting lawsuits by 10 women on both coasts,” the report adds. “Three have filed sexual battery or defamation cases in California, and seven have sued for defamation in Massachusetts, where Cosby has a home. He has denied any wrongdoing.”

The report also notes: “Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents Huth, said the judge in Los Angeles Superior Court … may delay setting a trial date to let Pennsylvania prosecutors pursue the retrial against Cosby first.”

Jun 27, 2017
9:49 am

Late-Night Ratings Pendulum Swings (Deadline, TVWeek, Nielsen)

A shift took place in the late-night broadcast ratings last week, with momentum swinging toward NBC’s “Tonight Show” after a strong run for CBS’s “Late Show.”

For the first time since the Trump inauguration, “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon” topped “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” in total viewers, Deadline.com reports. The win for the NBC show snapped an 18-week winning streak for CBS when “Colbert” ran originals.

The results, based on Nielsen Live+Same Day figures, carry a disclaimer: Colbert’s numbers for last week reflect just Monday-Wednesday nights as the show aired repeats on Thursday and Friday with Colbert traveling to Russia.

The race remains close. The NBC staple averaged 2.656 million total viewers for the week, to 2.622 million for the CBS late-night flagship.

In the key 18-49 demo, Fallon has remained on top even during Colbert’s surge, and the NBC show registered a big edge for the week. Fallon delivered a 0.68 average rating in the demo to Colbert’s 0.42 for a 62% margin, Fallon’s best since the week of Jan. 9-13.

ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” which aired a repeat on Friday, trailed with 1.963 million viewers last week and equaled Colbert’s 0.42 average rating in 18-49.

Jun 27, 2017
7:20 am

Sprint in Partnership Talks With Charter and Comcast (Reuters)

Sprint Corp., the fourth-largest wireless service provider in the U.S., is reportedly in talks about a wireless partnership with Charter Communications and Comcast Corp. Reuters reports that Sprint’s share prices were up 3% today after news broke about the talks.

“Sprint, controlled by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp., has entered into a two-month period of exclusive negotiations with Charter and Comcast, while putting its merger talks with T-Mobile US Inc. on hold until the end of July, sources told Reuters,” the story reports.

The report cites Jonathan Chaplin, an analyst with New Street Research, saying a potential deal involving the companies could yield an estimated $35 billion-$40 billion in hard cost synergies. “However, there are strategic and economic benefits that may be far greater for all parties than just the direct cost savings,” Chaplin adds.

“Chaplin said the move was a ‘clear’ negative for T-Mobile, Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc.,” the report adds. Reuters notes that T-Mobile’s share prices were down 4.5 percent at $60.30.

Jun 26, 2017
4:47 pm

Three CNN Journalists Resign (THR, TVWeek)

Three journalists have stepped down from their posts at CNN as part of the fallout from a story that the news organization retracted late last week.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Thomas Frank, the author of the story; Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Eric Lichtblau, who edited the story; and Lex Haris, executive editor of CNN Investigates, all resigned from the network.

As we reported previously, the story reported on a supposed congressional investigation into a meeting between Anthony Scaramucci, a member of Donald Trump’s transition team, and Kirill Dmitriev, who heads a Russian investment fund.

The story was published Thursday on CNN’s website and was removed Friday, replaced with an editor’s note that said the story did not meet CNN’s editorial standards.

In a statement provided to THR, a CNN spokesperson said: “In the aftermath of the retraction of a story published on CNN.com, CNN has accepted the resignations of the employees involved in the story’s publication.”

Jun 26, 2017
4:35 pm

MTV Lines Up A-List Talent for New Series (TVWeek, MTV)

MTV rounded up a roster of high-octane talent including Kevin Hart, Marlon Wayans, Amber Rose and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges for its new comedy game show “SafeWord,” from the producers of “Lip Sync Battle.”

“SafeWord” will premiere Thursday, July 13, at 11:30 p.m. ET/PT, immediately following a new episode of “Wild ‘N Out” and as part of MTV’s “Throwdown Thursdays” comedy block.

The celebrity hangout program is hosted by Terrence J. Other guests on tap for the season include Damien Dante Wayans, Kelly Rowland, Nelly, LaLa Anthony, “13 Reasons Why” castmates Ross Butler and Justin Prentice, Charlamagne Tha God, Drake Bell, Lil Rel Howery and Jermaine Fowler.

“‘SafeWord’ is based off the U.K. format that aired on itv2 and was originally developed and produced by STV Productions and Motion Content Group,” MTV said in today’s announcement. “In each episode, the celebrity guests will partner with superstar comedians, including Carly Aquilino, Sam Jay, Ricky Velez, Leonard Ouzts, Taylor Tomlinson, Akaash Singh, Matt Pavich [and] Sherry Cola, to help them play a series of games in front a live audience. Throughout multiple rounds, the teams go head-to-head daring each other in a variety of challenges including social media games that have already stirred up quite a bit of controversy. In the spirit of a friendly comedy roast, the celebs are tasked with taking the heat, but can always stop the pain by using their ‘safeword.'”

The show is executive produced Jay Peterson, Todd Lubin and Jerry Carita for Matador. James Sunderland serves as showrunner. Terrence Jenkins serves as host and executive producer. Candida Boyette-Clemons and Paul Ricci are executive producers for MTV. The series is directed by Michael Simon.

Jun 26, 2017
4:19 pm

Bill Cosby’s Spokeswoman Responds to Outrage Over His Planned ‘Town Halls’ — One Women’s Advocate Called It Cosby’s ‘How to Get Away With Rape’ Tour (Huffington Post, Mercury News, CNN, AP)

A spokeswoman for Bill Cosby clarified what the disgraced TV icon has in mind with his planned “town halls” that were mentioned just after a mistrial was declared in his criminal trial in Pennsylvania on sexual assault charges.

His plans drew widespread outrage, including from sexual assault support groups and women’s advocacy organizations.

The Huffington Post quotes attorney Nancy Erika Smith, who represented former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson in her sexual harassment case against Roger Ailes, saying of Cosby’s plan: “It’s like O.J. searching for his ex-wife’s killer. He convinces some jurors that he wasn’t guilty beyond a reasonable doubt (a high standard) so now he thinks we’re all stupid. He’s beyond disgusting.”

The Mercury News reports that Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of the women’s advocacy organization UltraViolet, said in a statement that the group initially thought reports of the planned town halls were a joke.

“Turns out, it’s not,” she said. “Let’s call this tour what it really is: Bill Cosby’s ‘how to get away with rape and sexual assault’ tour.”

Cosby family spokeswoman Ebonee Benson responded to the criticism in an interview with CNN over the weekend, saying: “I just want to be clear. The town hall meetings are not about sexual assault. I will repeat: These town hall meetings are not about sexual assault.”

The AP adds: “The town halls are aimed at restoring Cosby’s legacy, and that’s what she and fellow Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt meant to say during an Alabama TV station interview last week.”

Said Benson, in the CNN interview: “It is about continuing on with what Mr. Cosby started 50 years ago when he began in the entertainment business, which is the importance of community, importance of education.”

Jun 26, 2017
1:19 pm

Freshman Comedy on Netflix Not Renewed (TVWeek, Vanity Fair, Netflix)

Netflix canceled a comedy series after rolling out just one season of the show. The streaming service pulled the plug on “Girlboss,” which debuted its 13-episode freshman season on April 21.

Created by Kay Cannon and based on Sophia Amoruso’s 2014 autobiography “#GIRLBOSS,” the series didn’t exactly wow the critics. Vanity Fair ran a story today posing the question of whether “Girlboss” was Netflix’s “first truly terrible show.”

“Unlike other original [Netflix] series that have gotten the ax, it seems the streaming giant’s Nasty Gal comedy is gone for only one reason: it was just that bad,” Vanity Fair said.

The first season has a grim 32% rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.

The show stars Britt Robertson, Ellie Reed, Johnny Simmons and Alphonso McAuley, and boasts a lineup of executive producers that includes Charlize Theron along with Cannon and Amoruso.

Netflix has also recently canceled the dramas “The Get Down” and “Sense8.”

Jun 26, 2017
12:44 pm

Body of Salvador Dali to Be Exhumed (BBC)

The body of surrealist painter Salvador Dali has been ordered exhumed in connection with a paternity suit in Spain, the BBC reports.

Dali died of heart failure in 1989 at age 84 and is buried in a crypt at the Dali Theatre and Museum in Figueres, Catalonia, Spain, the town of his birth.

A judge ordered the exhumation of Dali’s body to get samples for a suit filed by Maria Pilar Abel Martinez, a Spanish tarot card reader who says her mother, a maid, had a clandestine affair with the painter in 1955.

Martinez. who was born in 1956, says she believes she is the daughter of the painter.

“In ordering the exhumation, the judge said there were no biological remains or personal objects of the artist to be used in the paternity test,” the BBC notes.

“Her legal action is against the Spanish state, to which Dali left his estate. The court said the decision could be appealed,” the report adds. “If she is confirmed to be the artist’s daughter, she could use his surname and be entitled to part of his estate.”

Jun 26, 2017
12:31 pm

CNN Retracts Story About Supposed Russian Meeting (AP, Twitter)

CNN has retracted a story about what was first reported as an investigation into a meeting between a Trump associate and the head of a Russian investment fund, the AP reports.

CNN did not provide a reason today for pulling the story, the report notes.

“The story posted Thursday on CNN’s website said Senate investigators are looking into the meeting between Anthony Scaramucci, a member of Trump’s transition team, and Kirill Dmitriev, whose Russian Direct Investment Fund guides investments by U.S. entities in Russia,” the AP reports. “Scaramucci, in the story, said he exchanged pleasantries in a restaurant with Dmitriev on January 16.”

“The report also said that two Democratic senators wanted to know whether Scaramucci had indicated in the meeting whether sanctions against Russia would be lifted, a decision that could impact the investment fund,” the AP report adds. “On Friday night, CNN removed the story from its website and disabled links, saying it did not meet the news organization’s standards. CNN apologized to Scaramucci. The story, by reporter Thomas Frank, did not appear on any of CNN’s television networks.”

Scaramucci tweeted Saturday about the CNN retraction, indicating he accepted the apology. You can see his tweet below.

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