Jan 26, 2015
6:12 am

ABC Puts Five Dramas in Development (Variety; Deadline)

ABC has added five dramas to its development slate, with terrorism, arms dealing and the Bible among the themes, The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

“The pickups included ‘Quantico,’ from Josh Safran (‘Gossip Girl’) and Mark Gordon; arms-dealing drama ‘Runner’ (previously developed at Fox); biblical entry ‘Of Kings and Prophets’; procedural ‘L.A. Crime’; and ‘Mix,’ a restaurant dramedy from Rashida Jones,” the story reports.

“Quantico,” focusing on a sleeper terrorist being trained by the FBI, received a script commitment from ABC in September, and will be written by Safran.

To read more about these pilots please click on the link above, or on this link to a similar story at Deadline.









Jan 26, 2015
6:10 am

Controversial Reality Series to Wrap It Up (B&C)

A reality series that been under attack throughout its run is ready to call it quits after a final season. B&C reports that Discovery Channel will pull the plug on “Amish Mafia” after season four.

The show returns Feb. 10 for its fourth and final season.

Said Laurie Goldberg, group executive VP of public relations for Discovery: “It’s a combination of the show running its course and its not really being consistent with [channel President] Rich Ross’s vision for the network.”

“Amish Mafia,” which is presented in a docu-reality style, has endured criticism from the outset over its depicitions of the Amish community, with scholars and law-enforcement officials among those accusing the show of presenting an inaccurate image of the Amish.



Jan 26, 2015
6:10 am

NBC News Extends Deal With ‘Today’ Show Regular (LA Times; Variety)

One of the on-air personalities on NBC’s morning show “Today” has signed an extension with NBC News. The Los Angeles Times reports that the network has inked a deal for at least another three years with co-anchor Savannah Guthrie.

Variety notes that the deal “would seem to position the venerable morning program for more news, and less of the drama that has plagued it in recent months.”

The Variety report adds: “For Guthrie, the maneuver would seem to be a vote of confidence in her recent tenure at ‘Today,’ which started under difficult circumstances. Guthrie took the place of Ann Curry, the longtime news anchor at ‘Today’ who ascended to the co-anchor spot only to find her on-air style did not mesh well with that of Matt Lauer or expectations of senior producers.”

Curry was moved out of the position in a highly public shakeup in June 2012.


 Savannah Guthrie in an Official NBC Photo







Jan 26, 2015
6:08 am

Top Media Executive Takes a Massive Pay Cut. But Shed No Tears. He’s Still Worth $5.4 Billion (Bloomberg)

One of the biggest executives in the media business has taken a massive pay cut. Bloomberg reports that Sumner Redstone, executive chairman of Viacom Inc. and controlling shareholder in the media giant, received a cut of about two-thirds to his total compensation in 2014.

Redstone’’s total shrank to $13.2 million, the piece reports, attributing the change to a smaller gain in his pension. Redstone, 91, also controls CBS Corp. and his net worth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, is $5.4 billion.

The company’s CEO, Philippe Dauman, meanwhile, received a raise, with his compensation rising to $44.3 million, up from $37.2 million in 2013.

The report cites a regulatory filing late last week by Viacom Inc., which owns MTV, Nickelodeon and other channels.

RedstoneSumner Redstone Speaking About Five Years Ago at Boston University


Jan 26, 2015
6:06 am

Multiple Oscar and Emmy Winner Having Trouble Finding Work (NY Times)

Two Oscars and two Emmys, along with a Golden Globe, a string of major nominations and countless other awards, apparently aren’t enough to keep actress Dianne Wiest working steadily.

The New York Times, in an interview with Wiest, 66, to promote her role in the upcoming dark comedy “Rasheeda Speaking,” quotes Wiest saying, “I have to move out of my apartment soon” because she’s having trouble finding work to pay the rent.

Wiest won her second Emmy in 2008, for her supporting role on HBO’s “In Treatment.” She won an Emmy in 1997 for “Road to Avonlea” and also has two Oscars, for “Hannah and Her Sisters” and “Bullets Over Broadway.”

But those two Woody Allen movies may have contributed to her career issues. “After her early work with Woody Allen … Ms. Wiest said that she felt she was typed as ‘a nice mom and that’s it. That’s all that ever came, except in theater,’” the report notes.

wiestDianne Wiest Winning Her Oscar in 1995 for “Bullets Over Broadway”




Jan 26, 2015
6:05 am

Our Hog Warts Are Acting Up Again, Telling Us This Upcoming Disney Movie Will Be a Blockbuster

Disney is making a live-action film version of its hit animated movie “Beauty and the Beast,” and wait until you hear who they have just signed to play Belle: “ ‘Harry Potter’ alum Emma Watson, according to Jeff Sneider at The Wrap.

The article adds, “Bill Condon (‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn’) will direct from a script written by Stephen Chbosky, who directed Watson in ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower.’”

The story also says that “Watson is set to play Belle in ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ which is the latest Disney classic to receive a live-action adaptation following ‘Maleficent,’’“Cinderella” and Jon Favreau’s upcoming take on ‘The Jungle Book.’”


Emma Watson on “Ellen” Last Year

Jan 26, 2015
6:04 am

Airlines Cancel 5,200 Flights Due to Impending Blizzard. It’s Our Non-TV Story of the Day (USA Today)

“Air travelers faced chaos Monday in the Northeast, thanks to a major winter storm that grounded thousands of airline flights even before the first snowflakes had fallen in the region,” reports USA Today.

The article continues, “Airlines reacted to a major snowstorm that’s expected to wallop parts of the Northeast by cancelling more than 5,200 through Wednesday. Of those, at least 3,200 were already announced by Sunday – a day before the storm’s first flakes fell along the East Coast.”

The story adds, “As for the poor weather, the region’s major air hubs were expected to see snow develop Monday, with conditions worsening into the evening. Tuesday was expected to be even worse – so bad that all flights may end up being grounded at some of the busiest airports.”

To read more details about the impending storm, please click on the link above which will take you to the original story and related ones.




Jan 26, 2015
6:02 am

Super Bowl News: NFL Partners With YouTube to Post Video (SF Chronicle)

In a move that some insiders are saying could be a step toward live streaming of NFL games, the league, which in the past has fiercely protected its video footage, is set to take it to YouTube.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the NFL and the video-streaming site announced a new partnership today, creating an official NFL channel on YouTube. Among the clips to be posted are Super Bowl highlights, which will be available after the game.

“Content posted daily to the portal by the league will include game previews, in-game highlights, post-game recaps and clips featuring news, analysis, fantasy football advice and other original programming from NFL Network and,” the story reports. “Highlight packages from the current postseason were already viewable Sunday, and plenty of Super Bowl programming was scheduled to appear throughout the week and after the game.”

An NFL spokesman downplayed the significance of the deal in terms of moving toward live streaming of games, saying, “The focus is on non-live highlights.”

But the report notes: “YouTube spokesman Matt McLernon, pointing to the site’s past streaming of live Olympic events, said the opportunity is there and the technology is waiting if the league were to decide to do so.”

McLernon added: “We would welcome it with open arms if the NFL or any other league” wanted to air live games on YouTube.

Jan 26, 2015
6:00 am

Top Media Reporter Starts Today as NPR Ombudsman (TVWeek)

By Chuck Ross

National Public Radio has a new Ombudsman/Public Editor who starts work today.

She’s Elizabeth Jensen, who is familiar to many in the TV business. Elizabeth used to be with Electronic Media a number of years ago, which is the publication that evolved into TVWeek. In addition, she had continued to do freelance work for us over the years.

We are huge fans of Elizabeth and think she will do an excellent job as the Ombudsman/Public Editor for NPR. Congratulations, Elizabeth!

This is from the NPR press release:

NPR President and CEO Jarl Mohn [has] appointed Elizabeth Jensen, a veteran media and business reporter, to be the organization’s next Ombudsman/Public Editor. Jensen will begin her three-year appointment on January 26, serving as the public’s representative to NPR and responsible for bringing transparency to matters of journalism and journalism ethics.

Jensen was selected following an extensive national search that found her uniquely qualified for the position. Writing since 2005 for The New York Times, Current and the Columbia Journalism Review, among others, she has covered public broadcasting and the media industry, reporting on topics including changing funding models and sustainability strategies for public broadcasting; leadership at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS and NPR; the intersection of media and politics; children’s programs; documentary film and non-profit journalism startups.

“Elizabeth is a widely respected journalist with a deep understanding of public broadcasting and will bring the highest level of integrity to this vitally important role,” Mohn said. “Our listeners will be well-served by her knowledge and experience from decades of covering the media industry. She will play a significant role in fulfilling NPR’s commitment to transparency.”

Jensen added, “I have covered NPR and public media for much of my career, occasionally critically when warranted, but I am also a devoted longtime listener. The mission of this remarkable news organization remains as important as it has ever been, even as the media landscape rapidly changes. As NPR’s ombudsman I look forward to engaging with other listeners and helping to bring transparency to NPR’s journalistic decision-making, just in a new forum.”

In 2000, NPR became the first U.S. broadcast news organization to create an Ombudsman position. The Ombudsman receives tens of thousands of listener inquiries annually and responds to significant queries, comments and criticisms. Edward Schumacher-Matos, NPR’s Ombudsman since June 2011, concludes his appointment at the end of this month.

Prior to her work at The New York Times and Current, Jensen was a New York-based staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, where she covered network television, PBS, NPR and cable programming. In that role, Jensen chronicled the reinvention of Sesame Workshop, the rise of Univision and the lack of network programming diversity, and broke the story of Sinclair Broadcast Group’s partisan 2004 campaign activities.

Previously, Jensen was a senior writer for the national media watchdog consumer magazine Brill’s Content, and before that, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, where her beats included broadcast television and food and alcohol. Earlier in her career, Jensen reported for the New York Daily News, Variety and Electronic Media. At New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, she is an adjunct professor, teaching food journalism.

In 2005, Jensen was the recipient of a Kiplinger Fellowship in Public Affairs Journalism at The Ohio State University, focusing her research on media politicization. She earned her M.A. in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, spending her second year at Geneva’s L’Institut universitaire de hautes études internationales,
and received her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

Jensen will be based in New York and have a regular presence in Washington, DC. Her roles with The New York Times and Current will end when she begins at NPR.

jensen_elizabethPhoto by James Wrona

Jan 25, 2015
11:48 pm

Big Night For Netflix and HBO at the SAG Awards. We Have the Full List of TV and Movie Winners (TVWeek)

Netflix and HBO were the biggest TV winners at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards presented Sunday night, Jan. 25, 2015.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series went to Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black,” and Uzo Aduba, who plays Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren on “Orange,” won the award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series.

To see the complete list of SAG Award winners, in both the TV and Theatrical Movie categories, please click here.

Kevin Spacey, who plays Francis Underwood in Netflix’s “House of Cards,” picked up the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series.

For HBO, Mark Ruffalo won for his performance as Ned Weeks in the TV movie “The Normal Heart.” Also for HBO, Frances McDormand won for her performance as Olive Kitteridge in the TV mini-series of that same name. And HBO’s “Game of Thrones” also picked up a SAG Award for Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series.

ABC, PBS and Showtime all came away as winners as well.

ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder” won for lead actress’ Viola Davis portrayal of Annalise Keating. Davis also had the best speech of the night, saying “….It starts from the top up, so I’d like to thank Paul Lee, Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers, Bill D’Elia, and Peter Norwalk for thinking that a sexualized, messy, mysterious woman could be a 49-year-old dark-skinned African-American woman who looks like me.”

Bill Macy won a SAG Award for his portrayal of Frank Gallegher on the Showtime comedy “Shameless.”

And the PBS hit “Downton Abbey” won the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama series.

On the movie side of the ledger, “Birdman” won the award for Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture.

Again, to see all the winners in both the TV and movie categories, please click here.






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