May 22, 2017
5:31 pm

Death Toll Rises in Explosion at U.K. Ariana Grande Concert (BBC)

The death toll was climbing in an explosion at a concert in the U.K. by Ariana Grande. Details are still coming in but the BBC has reported that at least 19 people are dead, with about 50 injured.

Witnesses said they heard two loud bangs just after the concert at Manchester Arena. Authorities were treating it as a possible terrorist attack.

“Network Rail said train lines out of Manchester Victoria station, which is close to the concert venue, were blocked,” the story reports. “Greater Manchester Police tweeted to urge people to stay away from the area.

Witnesses described the chaos in the immediate aftermath of the blast.

“People were just crying and in tears … police cars were everywhere,” said one witness, adding: “It was bedlam… it was horrific.”

Details are continuing to come in.

May 22, 2017
5:23 pm

Two-Hour Special to Examine Battle Over Scientology (TVWeek)

A two-hour special coming up this month will take a look at the history of the clash between the Church of Scientology and its most outspoken critics. The program, “Merchants of Fear,” is set to air on A&E on Monday, May 29.

The standalone special grew out of A&E’s series “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath,” in which the actress attempts to document secrecy and misbehavior on the part of the church.

“In this two-hour special, Leah Remini and Mike Rinder explore the historical relationship between the Church of Scientology and its often vocal critics,” A&E said in today’s announcement. “A series of special guests candidly describe their personal experiences investigating controversial stories about the Church and how the Church has responded to their work. The special will also feature a sneak peak of the upcoming season two.”

A&E notes that “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” was cable’s No. 1 new unscripted series of 2016 in adults 25-54 and total viewers in Live+7. The limited series is currently in production on its second season, which will consist of 10 new hour-long episodes.

May 22, 2017
5:11 pm

Twitter Co-Founder: ‘If it’s true that he wouldn’t be president if it weren’t for Twitter, then yeah, I’m sorry’ (NY Times)

In an interview with The New York Times in which he suggests the Internet is broken, Twitter founder Evan Williams called Twitter’s role in the rise of Donald Trump “a very bad thing” and added: “If it’s true that he wouldn’t be president if it weren’t for Twitter, then yeah, I’m sorry.”

“I thought once everybody could speak freely and exchange information and ideas, the world is automatically going to be a better place,” Williams told the paper. “I was wrong about that.”

The report adds: “The trouble with the Internet, Mr. Williams says, is that it rewards extremes. Say you’re driving down the road and see a car crash. Of course you look. Everyone looks. The internet interprets behavior like this to mean everyone is asking for car crashes, so it tries to supply them.”

May 22, 2017
1:59 pm

Amid ‘Saturday Night Live’s’ Farewell to Two Cast Members, a Third Cast Member Quietly Bows Out (ET, TVWeek, NBC)

Saturday’s “SNL” marked the final appearance on the show for three cast members — with only two of them, Vanessa Bayer and Bobby Moynihan, getting much recognition on their last show.

ET Online reports that Sasheer Zamata is also leaving the show.

“Zamata, 31, joined the cast of ‘SNL’ during its 38th season in 2014, at a time when the show was being criticized for its lack of diversity,” ET notes. “Since then, she has been known for her impersonations of Rihanna, Michelle Obama as well as Beyonce and Solange Knowles, among others.”

Saturday’s show went all out to pay tribute to Bayer and Moynihan, with almost every sketch featuring one or both of them.

“While there was no fancy send-off or even any direct mention of their departure from the series, the pair of talent sketch comics got something subtle and somehow even more meaningful — an entire episode (and a season finale no less) that was basically dedicated to them,” ET reports.

Both performers were also showcased on “Weekend Update,” where Moynihan reprised his Drunk Uncle and Bayer brought her recently introduced meteorologist Dawn Lazarus.

Bayer had announced her exit Saturday morning on Instagram.

Moynihan is moving on to the new CBS comedy series “Me, Myself & I,” as we reported last week.

Here’s a clip from Saturday’s show featuring Bayer …

May 22, 2017
12:59 pm

Final Season Is at Hand for a Series That Has Featured Assassinations, Kidnappings, Accidental Murders, Biological Warfare and Much More (TVWeek, BBC America)

An acclaimed drama series is about to roll out its final season, and to help viewers brace for the return of the show, BBC America is putting on an “Orphan Black” panel discussion.

The cable network also released the final trailer for the show, which you can watch below.

“The clones have been through it all together,” BBC America notes in the announcement. “From assassinations, detrimental illnesses, monitors and accidental murders to suburban drug fronts, kidnappings, male clones and biological warfare — there isn’t anything this lot hasn’t experienced. But through it all, they’ve remained united in their love and mission to keep each other safe at all costs. They’ve sacrificed their families, the loves of their lives, and any true sense of normalcy — all for the chance to liberate themselves from forces much bigger than any one of them. Now, they must all fight for the family they’ve chosen, for a new future and ultimately, for freedom.”

The cast and executive producers of “Orphan Black” will make an appearance in New York City at a sold-out Split Screen Festival screening and panel Tuesday, June 6, at 6:30p ET.

The 10-episode fifth season premieres Saturday, June 10, on BBC America. Seasons 1-4 are currently available on BBCAmerica.com, the BBC America app and Amazon Prime.

Orphan Black is produced by Temple Street, a division of Boat Rocker Studios, in association with BBC America and Bell Media’s SPACE.

Here’s the new trailer …

May 22, 2017
12:57 pm

Megyn Kelly Has a Start Date for Her NBC Prime-Time Show (NY Post)

Former Fox News Channel star Megyn Kelly’s new NBC show is about to debut, with The New York Post’s Page Six reporting that the newsmagazine, “Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly,” will premiere June 4.

Promos for the show, which will air at 7 p.m., were expected to start running as soon as today.

“Kelly hasn’t announced her first guests yet — although Page Six first reported she is hopeful about landing a big exclusive sit-down with President Vladimir Putin,” the report notes. “Kelly will travel to Russia next month to moderate a session with the Russian leader at his annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum that takes place June 1 to June 3. NBC News execs hope the forum meeting will result in a one-on-one interview with Putin.”

Sportscaster Erin Andrews is also reportedly among Kelly’s upcoming interviews.

Kelly’s NBC morning show remains on track for September.

May 22, 2017
12:51 pm

Comedy Series to End Tonight (TVWeek)

A comedy series that has had a six-season run has come to the end of that run with Freeform announcing today that “Baby Daddy” will air its 100th and final episode tonight, May 22.

The series, which won the 2017 People’s Choice Award for Favorite Cable TV Comedy, stars Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Derek Theler, Tahj Mowry, Melissa Peterman and Chelsea Kane.

Said creator and executive producer Dan Berendsen: “The ‘Baby Daddy’ cast and crew are truly remarkable, and together it has been a joy to watch our characters’ lives unfold on screen over the past six seasons. While we’ll be sad to see them go, I’m thankful that we are saying goodbye to them the way we always intended.”

The announcement adds: “Freeform’s No. 1 comedy in Total Viewers and across key target 18-34, 18-49 and 12-34 demographics, ‘Baby Daddy’ is the No. 1 scripted cable TV series in its time period season to date in Adults 18-34 and Viewers 12-34, and the No. 1 original scripted cable TV series in Adults 18-49.”

The announcement offers this description of tonight’s episode: “In the series finale episode ‘Daddy’s Girl,’ Riley [Kane] is confined to the couch with the baby due any second, while Tucker [Mowry] tries to help Danny [Theler] decide what to buy her as a ‘push gift.’ Ben [Bilodeau] begins to feel like an insufficient parent when Emma’s upcoming mother-daughter talent show leads Emma to ask questions about why she doesn’t have a mother.”

May 22, 2017
9:51 am

Viacom Readying Sports-Free TV Package in $10-$20 Range (Variety)

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish revealed today that the company is putting together what he called an “entertainment pack” option — a skinny bundle that would probably be priced around $10-$20 and would contain no sports channels.

Variety reports that Bakish talked about the package during his keynote breakfast at the J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media and Telecom conference in Boston. The initiative is aimed largely at bringing younger viewers into the pay TV environment and keeping others from leaving, the report notes.

Viacom is said to be in advanced talks with at least one MVPD to put together the package, which is expected to roll out this year.

Bakish reportedly expressed doubt that new services such as those from YouTube, DirecTV Now and Hulu will be embraced by the group he calls “cord-never millennials.”

The report quotes Bakish saying: “The transformational opportunity is to bring in a new entry segment at a much lower price point.”

May 22, 2017
8:59 am

Records Fall on One Artist’s Huge Night at the Billboard Music Awards — We Have the Full List of Winners and Nominees (TVWeek)

It was a record night at Sunday’s “2017 Billboard Music Awards,” especially for the recording artist Drake, who broke Adele’s record for the most Billboard Music Awards won in a single night.

Drake wound up with 13 trophies, including Top Artist, Top Male Artist, Top Billboard 200 Album, Top Billboard 200 Artist, Top Hot 100 Artist, Top Song Sales Artist, Top Rap Artist, Top Rap Tour and Top Rap Album.

Drake surpassed Adele’s record of 12 Billboard Awards in one night, and overshadowed big nights for Beyonce and Twenty One Pilots, who each took home five awards, and the Chainsmokers, who broke out with four awards.

Beyonce won for Top Female Artist, Top Touring Artist, Top R&B Artist, Top R&B Tour and Top R&B Album, while the honors for Twenty One Pilots included Top Duo/Group, Top Radio Song Artist, Top Rock Artist and Top Rock Song.

Other artists claiming multiple trophies included Halsey, Kyla, Wizkid, Desiigner, Juan Gabriel, Justin Timberlake, Kenny Chesney and Lauren Daigle.

Highlights of the ceremony, televised by ABC, included Cher accepting the ICON Award, Celine Dion celebrating the 20th anniversary of “My Heart Will Go On” and a show-stopping opening medley by Nicki Minaj.

Click here for the full list of winners and nominees along with a full roundup of the event.

May 22, 2017
8:44 am

‘black-ish’ Spinoff Gets Series Order — But Not From ABC (TVWeek)

The hit ABC comedy series “black-ish” has generated a spinoff, but the new series will run on ABC’s cable cousin Freeform. Freeform announced it ordered 13 episodes of the scripted comedy centered on “black-ish” breakout Yara Shahidi.

The new single-camera sitcom has the working title “college-ish.” Hailing from ABC Studios, the show is due to premiere in early 2018.

Along with Shahidi as Zoey Johnson the show stars Deon Cole as Charlie Telphy.

“’college-ish’ follows the Johnsons’ eldest daughter Zoey (Yara Shahidi) as she heads off to college and quickly discovers that not everything goes her way once she leaves the nest,” Freeform notes in its announcement. “From ‘black-ish’ executive producer Kenya Barris comes a contemporary take on the current issues facing both students and administrators in the world of higher education. Yara is joined by ‘black-ish’s’ Deon Cole (Charlie), who moonlights as an adjunct marketing professor, as well as funny new characters both in the administration and student body who all reflect the complex and hilarious points of views that populate college campuses.”

Said Barris: “I never thought they’d let me put ‘black-ish’ on the air, let alone give me a spinoff. I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity to continue working with Yara and the rest of this talented young cast. To any aspiring writers struggling to make it out there, I highly advise adding an ‘-ish’ to any working title you might have. It seems to be the move.”

Barris, Anthony Anderson, Laurence Fishburne, Helen Sugland and Brian Dobbins are executive producers of the series, which was written by Barris and Larry Wilmore.

Yara Shahidi (ABC/Ron Tom)

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