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TVBIZWIRE
Feb 24, 2017
4:31 pm
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ABC Exec Headed Out After 35 Years (Variety)

ABC is losing a longtime executive, with the network telling staffers today in internal memos that Marla Provencio, executive VP of marketing and chief marketing officer, is exiting after 35 years at the network.

Variety reports that Provencio and ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey sent out memos announcing the news. Provencio has been in her current position since November 2011.

“She first began her career at ABC working in on-air promiotions in 1979,” Variety notes. “She was named executive vice president of marketing for ABC Entertainment in 2007, and had led ABC’s marketing for many years prior.”

Provencio notes in her memo: “I … have been involved in some of the most extraordinary marketing campaigns which has led me to one of the greatest realizations of my life — that the creative, and more importantly, hands-on creative, has always been my greatest passion and I want it to be the focus in the next chapter of my professional life.”

Variety adds: “A search for Provencio’s replacement is set to begin in the near future. Provencio will stay on as a consultant with the network through June.”

TVBIZWIRE
Feb 24, 2017
4:19 pm
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Nintendo Could Be Back in Gaming Big Time With Its Switch, After the Disappointment of Its Wii U (Time)

Nintendo is readying to launch its edgy, millennial-focused new home/mobile hybrid entertainment platform and game console, Switch, on March 3. With a $299 price tag, the unit could be a game changer.

“The novelty of a mainstream gaming system that goes wherever you do feels gravitationally irresistible,” Matt Peckham writes in Time magazine. “You can get why it exists by observing what it does, a feat that’s true of little else in the games industry.”

Peckham adds: “There’s certainly none of that confusing ‘Which screen do I eyeball now?’ business per Nintendo’s Wii U. Drop Switch in its cradle, count to three, and it’s on your TV. Pull it out and it’s in your hands. Decouple the Joy-Con controllers from its sides, pop the rear kickstand and it’s on a table (or seat-back tray), your hands free to roam anywhere like creatures loosed from their cages.”

Peckham also points out: “It’s important to note how durable and substantial Switch feels, an unostentatious but strangely beautiful carbon-black slate that’s like a blue collar version of an Apple product — all the same ‘magical’ design elegance, none of the pretension.”

Click on the link to Time near the top of this story to read the rest of Peckham’s piece.

TVBIZWIRE
Feb 24, 2017
3:47 pm
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Bill Cosby Catches a Break in Criminal Case (AP)

“In a major break for Bill Cosby, a judge ruled Friday that just one of the comedian’s multitude of other accusers can testify at his trial to bolster charges he drugged and violated a woman more than a decade ago,” the AP reports.

Cosby, 79, is due to go on trial in June in a sexual assault case. He’s accused of assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his home near Philadelphia in 2004.

“Prosecutors wanted to put 13 more women on the stand to show that his alleged conduct was part of a distinct pattern of behavior,” the AP reports. “Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill disallowed all but one of those women, saying in a one-page ruling that he carefully weighed the possible value of their testimony against the potential prejudice to Cosby.”

“The one witness who can testify says the comic drugged and assaulted her in 1996 at a Los Angeles hotel,” the report adds.

TVBIZWIRE
Feb 24, 2017
3:01 pm
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J.C. Penney to Close Stores, Cut Jobs (USA Today)

J.C. Penney announced plans today to shutter stores and reduce its work force in response to a sag in the department store business. USA Today reports that the company will close between 130 and 140 stores and will offer buyouts to 6,000 employees.

“The company said Friday that it would shutter 13% to 14% of its locations and introduce new goods and services aimed at the shifting preferences of its customer base,” the story reports. “The cuts come amid mounting challenges for once-stalwart department-store chains such as Macy’s and Sears, which are also aggressively closing stores to shed costs as shoppers flock to alternatives.”

A list of the stores to be closed will be sent out in mid-March, with liquidation sales expected to take place by the second quarter, the report notes.

Speaking to investors, Penney CEO Marvin Ellison said today: “It became apparent to us that our footprint was too large.” He noted that the closures will “allow us to raise the overall brand standard of J.C. Penney” and invest in remaining stores.

TVBIZWIRE
Feb 24, 2017
12:57 pm
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White House Blocks CNN, Other Selected News Outlets From Press Briefing (The Hill)

A number of news organizations that Donald Trump has criticized were excluded today from a press briefing where White House spokesman Sean Spicer took questions from members of the press.

The Hill reports that the White House blocked CNN, The New York Times, The Hill, Politico, BuzzFeed, the Daily Mail, BBC, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News from participating in the “gaggle,” held in Spicer’s West Wing office.

“Journalists from several right-leaning outlets were allowed into Spicer’s office, including Breitbart, The Washington Times and One America News Network,” The Hill reports. “A number of major news organizations were also let in to cover the gaggle. That group included ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Reuters, Bloomberg and McClatchy.”

The report notes that reporters from the AP and Time magazine were allowed into the gaggle but refused to attend.

TVBIZWIRE
Feb 24, 2017
11:44 am
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Disney Cuts Jobs Amid Digital Restructure (Engadget, THR)

Disney shook things up in its digital operation, announcing layoffs at its Maker Studios and its consumer products unit’s digital publishing division. Engadget reports that the move eliminates about 80 jobs as part of a strategic shift that will drastically reduce the number of YouTube creators supported by Maker.

The move, which in part eliminates duplicated jobs, comes almost three years after Disney’s $675 million acquisition of Maker Studios, one of YouTube’s largest networks.

“The layoffs aren’t enough for the YouTube network to start making money, though, so it also plans to shed tens of thousands of creators to concentrate on a chosen few,” Engadget reports.

“The studio will no longer help most of its 60,000 creators gain visibility and sell ads,” the report adds. “It aims to work more closely with 300 of its most popular creators with the largest followings instead, as well as those most suited to work with Disney. YouTube creator Alexys Gabrielle, for instance, is making a show that’s a tie-in to the ‘Oh My Disney’ website that features games, interviews and skits promoting the company’s franchises.”

The Hollywood Reporter notes that the operation is being rebranded as the publishing and digital media group, overseen by Executive VP Andrew Sugerman. The moves, THR reports, are “part of a renewed focus within the company to create a more cohesive cross-platform programming strategy.”

In a statement Thursday, Sugerman said: “We’re building a digital media network of Disney and non-Disney content for kids and millennials on the platforms they use every day. For advertisers, this network offers mobile, video, short-form content, micro-content, and influencers, all at scale.”

TVBIZWIRE
Feb 24, 2017
10:51 am
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Cable Drama Locks In Plans for Final Season (TVWeek, BBC America)

Plans have been locked in for a cable drama series to return in two weeks for its final season on U.S. television. BBC America announced that season five of “Ripper Street” will premiere Wednesday, March 10, after which the show will wrap.

The final season will consist of six episodes. The British series already wrapped in the U.K., where season five rolled out in October on Amazon U.K.

“Ripper Street” is a Tiger Aspect and Lookout Point production in association with Brown Bear Films for Amazon and BBC Worldwide, co-produced with BBC America.

Here’s a teaser for the show’s final season, released today by BBC America …

TVBIZWIRE
Feb 24, 2017
10:44 am
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Reality Show Star Says Producers Put Her Life at Risk to Get Better Footage (Variety, TVWeek)

The star of a reality television series is suing the show’s producers, claiming that she had to put her life at risk to honor her contract, all because the show wanted to get exciting footage.

Variety reports that the suit was filed in federal court in Alaska by Susan Aikens, star of National Geographic Channel’s “Life Below Zero.” Produced by BBC Worldwide, the show tracks the activities of subsistence hunters in a remote area of Alaska.

“The lawsuit, first reported by KTUU in Anchorage, contends that her contract was so onerous that she felt forced to do whatever the BBC producers told her to, regardless of her safety concerns,” Variety reports. “A spokeswoman for the BBC said the company has not yet reviewed the lawsuit and would have no statement.”

Variety reports that Aikens alleges in the suit that “a producer on the show forced her to drive her snow machine across an icy river at 60 mph. She crashed and was thrown from the vehicle. While she lay in the snow suffering from serious injuries, Aikens claims the BBC crew delayed her rescue in order to get more footage.”

The report notes that the suit faces significant hurdles, including “contractual provisions releasing the BBC from all claims arising from the production. The contract also states that Aikens knowingly assumed the risks of injury and death associated with the show, including the hazards of traveling in all-terrain vehicles in harsh weather.”

TVBIZWIRE
Feb 24, 2017
6:44 am
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Internet Goes Into a Frenzy Over Justin Bieber’s Awkward Moment (TVWeek, Instagram)

Social media, the paparazzi and major media outlets got caught up in Justin Bieber hysteria Thursday over a potentially embarrassing incident for the pop star, which Bieber attempted to deflect by addressing it on Instagram.

The frenzy erupted after Bieber was photographed out and about in West Hollywood with a wet stain on his sweat pants — in a particularly strategic area. Speculation immediately began swirling that he had experienced a lapse of bladder control.

Bieber invoked a quote from the Adam Sandler movie “Billy Madison” in an effort to seize the high ground (you can see his post below), but that move backfired with some fans, who became more convinced than ever that the spot was something other than water.

Bieber later followed up with a clarification on Twitter, explaining: “Someone got me flowers and I was driving, made a turn, and the water spilled on my d–k area…Didn’t bother me if it made ya laugh nice!”

Justin Bieber Instagram post

TVBIZWIRE
Feb 24, 2017
6:41 am
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‘Gilmore Girl’ Lauren Graham Returns to Broadcast Television (THR)

“Gilmore Girls” star Lauren Graham is headed back to broadcast TV to star in a new Fox comedy pilot. The popular actress, who recently worked on the Netflix sequel “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life,” will play the lead in “Linda From HR,” The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

“The pilot was picked up pending casting, with Graham’s commitment to the single-camera comedy lifting the contingency. Graham had received multiple offers this pilot season — all for comedies,” THR reports.

The report adds: “‘Linda From HR’ is a high-concept family comedy that explores the one bad decision that throws Linda’s monotonous, unfulfilled life into an exciting but dangerous tailspin of balancing work life, home life and a secret that could unravel everything. Graham will star as Linda Plugh, a human resources employee. The comedy is part family comedy and part ‘Mr. Robot.'”

Lauren Graham, left, with Alexis Bledel

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