Mar 3, 2015
12:11 pm

NBC Greenlights Celebrity Variety Series (THR)

NBC placed a series order for a new variety show, complete with a high-profile host. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the network ordered six episodes of “I Can Do That!”

The half-hour show is hosted by Marlon Wayans.

“The series, which will air in the summer, will feature celebrities including Cheryl Burke (‘Dancing with the Stars’), Joe Jonas, Nicole Scherzinger, Ciara, comedian Jeff Dye and actor Alan Ritchson,” THR reports. “The comedy, based on an international format currently airing in more than 15 countries, will feature celebrities being asked to put on an entertainment show with skills they didn’t even know they had.”

Produced by Universal Television, the series will be executive produced by Audrey Morrissey (“The Voice”), Matilda Zoltowski (“Dancing with the Stars”), Rick Alvarez, Avi Armoza, Nehama Cohen, Elwin De Groot and Steve Harris, along with Wayans, the article reports.

THR adds: “Each episode will be filmed in front of a live studio audience and feature the six cast members competing in teams of two putting on a show featuring songs, dances, magic and danger, NBC said in a release touting the series.”

Mar 3, 2015
12:08 pm

Who’s the Richest Person on the Planet … and Which Former NBA Star Is Now a Billionaire? The New List Is Out From Forbes Magazine (Forbes)

The new Forbes magazine list of the world’s billionaires is out, and among the headlines is the arrival on the list of former NBA superstar Michael Jordan.

Jordan is one of a record 290 newcomers to the list this year, with 71 of those newcomers — almost 25% — coming from China. No. 2 in supplying newcomers to the list is the U.S. with 57 newcomers, followed by India with 28 and Germany with 23.

A familiar name tops the billionaires list, as Bill Gates retains the title of the richest person in the world — a title he has held for 16 of the past 21 years. Gates saw his fortune grow by $3.2 billion in the past year to an estimated total of $79.2 billion.

Ranking second is Carlos Slim Helu of Mexico, with U.S. investor Warren Buffett took reclaiming the No. 3 ranking and bumping Spain’s Amancio Ortega to the fourth spot. Buffett was the biggest gainer on the list, with his worth valued at $72.7 billion, up $14.5 billion from a year ago.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg made the top 20 for the first time, moving up five positions to rank No. 16.


Mar 3, 2015
12:08 pm

‘Kardashians’ Spinoff in the Works (Variety)

For everyone who loves to keep up with all things Kardashian, there will soon be more of it to keep up with. Variety reports that a new Kardashians spinoff is in the works at E!, centered around the Jenner wing of the family — specifically, Kendall and Kylie Jenner.

“The prospect of a ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ spinoff series focusing on the two teen members of the reality TV clan has been discussed at E! and Ryan Seacrest Prods.,” Variety reports. “A show insider tells Variety that a spinoff is on the drawing board, although it’s unclear how quickly it might come together. Sources caution that there have been no formal negotiations with the Jenner siblings. A spokesperson for E! says there is no spinoff in the works.”

Kendall and Kylie have seen their celebrity status, along with their social-media following, surge in the past year, the report notes, making a reality series of their own something of a no-brainer.

“Kendall, the new face of Estée Lauder, is currently walking major New York and Milan Fashion Week runways. Kylie, who has her own hair extension line, has over 18 million Instagram followers, not far behind her older sister’s fanbase of more than 20 million,” Variety reports. “The duo also penned the sci-fi novel ‘Rebels: City of Indra’ last summer, and they have two clothing collections with Topshop and PacSun.”

The teens’ father, Bruce Jenner, has been making his own headlines lately with reports that an E! series is in development that will document his transition to being a woman.

keeping up with the kardashians-title

Mar 3, 2015
12:08 pm

Cable Net Pulls Plug on Comedy Series (Deadline)

A comedy series has been canceled after airing on cable for one season. reports that IFC pulled the plug on “Garfunkel & Oates.”

The show starred the comedy-folk duo of Riki Lindhome, as “Garfunkel,” and Kate Micucci, as “Oates.” The series had a 10-episode run on the cable channel last year.

Nellie Andreeva writes in the Deadline story that the show “spotlighted the personal and professional lives of the duo whose career choices — singing satirical and sometimes dirty songs — left them with little in common with their peers, and no one but each other to turn to for support and understanding.”

garfunkel & oatesGarfunkel and Oates

Mar 3, 2015
11:31 am

TruTV Orders Its First Scripted Series (TVWeek)

TruTV announced that it has embarked on its first foray into full-length scripted series, greenlighting the comedy “Those Who Can’t.”

The show, about three frustrated high school teachers, stars creators Adam Cayton-Holland, Andrew Orvedahl and Ben Roy of the Denver-based comedy troupe The Grawlix.

The series is produced by Thank You, Brain! Productions and 3 Arts Entertainment.

“TruTV has ordered 10 episodes of ‘Those Who Can’t,’ with plans to launch by early 2016,” the channel said in its announcement. “Set in Denver, the half-hour comedy follows three dysfunctional high school teachers — played by Cayton-Holland, Orvedahl and Roy — who are about as screwed-up as the kids they teach. Maria Thayer (‘Eagleheart’) plays Abbey Logan, a new librarian who questions, denies and then joins in on the antics of her co-workers.”

The program is part of the “Way More Fun” branding campaign launched by TruTV back in October.

“TruTV has launched a number of new series coinciding with the brand refresh, including its first-ever sketch comedy, ‘Friends of the People,’ also from 3 Arts Entertainment,” the announcement notes.

truTV logo

Mar 3, 2015
11:11 am

Bizarre Ending to Ellen DeGeneres’ Furniture Design Challenge Show on HGTV: Series Crowns Winner, Then Disqualifies Him and Replaces Him With the Runner-Up (Durango Herald, Arizona Republic, TVWeek)

“Outrage broke out online Monday night after a Durango, Colorado, man was disqualified from Ellen DeGeneres’ new show ‘Ellen’s Design Challenge’ on HGTV,” reports the Durango Herald.

The man is Tim McClellan. He was disqualified because his final design too closely resembled a furniture piece already in the marketplace, the show said. Contestants were supposed to make an original piece.

To make matters even more embarrassing, according to the Arizona Republic, of the six contestants who were on the show, McClellan was “the only contestant recruited by DeGeneres after she watched his furniture-making video on YouTube. The other five contestants applied for a spot on the show.”

The ending of the six-episode series, which aired last night, Monday, March 2, 2015, was bizarre. Ellen announced that McClellan won the “Design Challenge,” which included $100,000 and having his work featured in a spread in HGTV magazine. Confetti fell from the ceiling, hugs were had all around. McClellan was thrilled.

Then, on the screen flashed the words “One Week Later.”

That’s when viewers were told, matter of factly, that McClellan had been disqualified because of the similarity of his last piece of furniture to another piece of furniture already available in the marketplace, and that the runner-up, Katie Stout, had won. Ellen invited Stout onto the set of her talk show to surprise her with the news.

According to the Durango Herald, one angry viewer tweeted, “Everyone involved including Ellen should be fired. None of you were aware of Tim’s similarities until after?”

Others tweeted that they still supported McClellan, the report says.

As for McClellan himself, he wasn’t seen on-screen after the show announced his disqualification. However he tweeted last night that being on the show was “a most blessed and wonderful experience!”

ellen's design challenge

Mar 3, 2015
11:01 am

Management Shakeup at NBC News in Wake of Brian Williams Controversy: Former Boss May Be Headed Back (Variety)

The former president of NBC News is in talks to return to the news division, according to Variety. The publication reports that Andrew Lack is negotiating a possible return to a top post as part of what Variety calls “a management shakeup following the debacle that led to the suspension of ‘Nightly News’ anchor Brian Williams and other recent missteps.”

Variety reports: “The discussions are in the early stages, but Lack is expected to return in a top role, if not the top job, overseeing NBCUniversal’s news operations: NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC. Pat Fili-Krushel, who has headed NBCUniversal News Group as chairman since 2012, may move to a different position within NBCUniversal.”

NBC News President Deborah Turness is expected to remain with the company, although the report cites a source close to the situation saying that Turness could wind up with a different role.

“Turness has been under fire for the division’s response to the controversy that erupted over Williams’ misleading statements on ‘NBC Nightly News’ about his experiences … covering the Iraq war in 2003. The incident led to the anchor being suspended for six months without pay last month,” Variety reports.

A representative for NBCU declined to comment for the report.

Lack was president of NBC News from 1993-2001, and has more recently spent time with Bloomberg Media and other companies.

Variety notes: “The discussions with Lack were spurred during the past few weeks by NBCU management’s desire to bring in a seasoned journalist to help manage the crisis situation. Fili-Krushel is a highly regarded TV exec but her lack of journalism experience has been a source of criticism as NBC News’ operations have been scrutinized following the Williams’ scandal and other reporting issues that have surfaced.”

The report cites one example that took place last month. “NBC News chief global correspondent Bill Neely reported that suspects in France’s Charlie Hebdo killings were dead or in custody — information that was not accurate, but that was reiterated in a broadcast by Williams,” Variety reports. “The TV journalists had to retract the claims, and acknowledge the government-intelligence sources they had relied upon did not give sound facts.”

nbc news-logo

Mar 3, 2015
10:47 am

ABC News Parts Ways With Political Correspondent (TVWeek)

ABC News has announced the departure of the network’s senior Washington, D.C., correspondent. News division President James Goldston circulated a memo to staffers announcing that Jeff Zeleny is leaving the network.

“For the past two years, he’s contributed greatly as our Senior Washington Correspondent covering politics and Congress, including his thoughtful coverage of the 2014 election and 16-day government shutdown,” Goldston wrote in the memo. “He scored ‘This Week’ exclusives with Senators Al Franken and Tim Scott and had revealing interviews with Ann Romney and Rep. Aaron Schock, among others.”

Zeleny was reportedly headed to CNN to become senior Washington correspondent. He was expected to join the cable channel later this month.

Zeleny was hired by ABC News in February 2013 after covering politics for The New York Times.

Goldston’s memo also mentions other changes for the news unit. “Cecilia Vega and Tom Llamas already have joined our expanding team reporting on the 2016 election,” he notes in the memo, adding: “We will make more announcements about our election coverage in due course as we enter this exciting political cycle.”

jeff zeleny-abc news

Mar 3, 2015
10:31 am

New Shows Put CNN on Top in Cable News (TVWeek)

CNN broke out two new original series Sunday night, with both shows scoring ratings wins in their time slots.

“Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery” and “The Wonder List with Bill Weir” won their time slots among cable news channels, both in total viewers and in the key news demo of viewers 25-54, the network announced, citing Nielsen Fast National figures.

“At 9 p.m., ‘Finding Jesus (Shroud of Turin)’ was top-rated, averaging 1.139 million total viewers, +80% more than Fox News’ 634,000 and a +314% advantage over MSNBC’s 275,000,” CNN reported. “In the key demo 25-54, ‘Finding Jesus’ posted 371,000, while Fox News and MSNBC both trailed with 111,000. ‘Finding Jesus’ outperformed the combined delivery of Fox News and MSNBC in both demos.”

Premiering at 10 p.m., “The Wonder List (Vanuatu: Landlords of Paradise)” also outperformed the combined delivery of Fox News and MSNBC in the 25-54 demo, CNN reported. The show averaged 706,000 total viewers to lead Fox News (603,000) and MSNBC (312,000), and scored 294,000 viewers 25-54, topping the combined totals of Fox News (148,000) and MSNBC (126,000).

“Finding Jesus” was CNN’s second-highest-rated original series premiere ever in total viewers, trailing only “The Sixties” with 1.390 million.

“Finding Jesus” continues next Sunday with “John the Baptist,” while “The Wonder List” unveils its second episode, “Galapagos: A Fight for Survival,” the same night.

wonder list with bill weir-title-cnn

Mar 3, 2015
9:44 am

Host of the Top-Rated First-Run Syndicated Show Plans to Stick Around — Signs Deal Through 2020 (TVWeek)

The host of a show that has been a juggernaut in first-run syndication appears poised to stay around for a while. Judge Judy Sheindlin, whose “Judge Judy” sits atop the rankings among first-run syndie shows, extended her deal with CBS Television Distribution through 2020.

Making the announcement Wednesday was Armando Nunez, president and CEO of CBS Global Distribution Group.

“Judge Judy” has been the top-rated show in first-run syndication for the past five seasons, and the No. 1 court show for 969 consecutive weeks, the company noted in its announcement. Currently in its 19th season, “Judge Judy” is averaging 10.3 million viewers.

The new agreement includes a first-look production deal with Sheindlin’s Queen Bee Productions, the producer of the top-rated new show in syndication this season, “Hot Bench.” “Hot Bench” has been averaging 2.3 million viewers.

Said Sheindlin: “I’m thrilled to be working with my CBS family for five more years, and very excited about this new adventure in production. I loved the experience of creating and developing ‘Hot Bench,’ and look forward to replicating its success with more new, compelling and smart TV.”

Nunez said of Sheindlin: “She is a true television icon, who entertains and inspires millions of fans each day on ‘Judge Judy.’ We look forward to continuing to provide our station partners with her highly successful show and to working with her to create the next generation of hits.”

Judge Judy

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