May 4, 2015
2:22 pm

HBO Adds Period Comedy Series (Deadline)

A comedy project has been ordered to series by HBO, although the pay-cable channel wasn’t commenting. reports that David Fincher’s “Living On Video” has an order from the channel for a 10-episode first season.

The show is set in 1983 Los Angeles and the burgeoning video music business.

Fincher “is revisiting his music video director roots with the comedy, written by Rich Wilkes (‘xXx’) and Bob Stephenson, a friend of Fincher’s from his music video days, based on an idea by Fincher,” the report notes.

Fincher is known for directing “The Social Network” and “Gone Girl,” and executive produces “House of Cards.”


May 4, 2015
2:11 pm

Nickelodeon Greenlights New Season of Scripted Series (TVWeek)

Nickelodeon announced today that it has renewed a scripted series. The cable channel greenlighted a second season of the live-action musical comedy series “Make It Pop.”

Nick ordered 20 episodes of the series, which is the channel’s top show among kids 6-11 and girls 6-11.

In making the announcement, Russell Hicks, Nickelodeon’s President of Content Development and Production, said: “Once again, Nick has successfully tapped into a cultural force and created a meaningful, daily connection by bridging our audience with great, relatable storytelling and a shared love of music.”

The program, which stars Megan Lee, Erika Tham, Louriza Tronco and Dale Whibley, stands as the most-watched long-form content on and on the Nick App.

“Filled with new songs, lots of laughs and heart, season two sees Sun Hi, Corki, Jodi and Caleb continue their coming-of-age journey,” the network’s announcement says. “After their triumph with the school musical, the band XO-IQ is called upon to represent Mackendrick Prep at a high stakes battle of bands and a new musical rival emerges.”

make it pop“Make It Pop”

May 4, 2015
2:01 pm

History Adds Four New Series (Variety)

History has announced four new series that will become a part of the cable channel’s lineup during the next two months. Variety reports that “Lost in Transmission,” “Leepu & Pitbull,” “Alone” and “Forged in Fire” are set to roll out as part of the summer slate.

The four new unscripted series join a summer lineup that will be anchored by the event miniseries “Texas Rising.”

The cable channel’s summer schedule launches this Wednesday with the season premiere of “American Pickers.” Thursday night will see the launch of “Lost in Transmission,” leading out from the premiere of “Pawn Stars.”

“Transmission” finds “Top Gear’s” Rutledge Wood, along with George Flanigen, rescuing classic cars from garages and back yards.

“On Tuesday, June 16, new episodes of ‘Counting Cars’ will debut at 9 p.m., followed by the series debut of ‘Leepu & Pitbull,’” Variety reports. “The series follows master mechanic ‘Pitbull’ Steve and renowned Bangladeshi car designer Leepu as they transform heaps of metal into a cash-producing business venture.”

June 18 will bring the series debut of “Alone,” leading out from the return of “Mountain Men.” “Alone,” which has a 10-episode order, is “the longest survival experiment ever captured for television,” the report notes. “It places 10 hardcore survivalists alone in the Vancouver Island wilderness – no camera crew, no teams, no producers – on a single mission to stay alive.”

Set to premiere Monday, June 22, is “Forged in Fire,” a competition series hosted by weapons expert and former Army Ranger Wil Willis. The show features top bladesmiths creating bladed weapons.


May 4, 2015
1:44 pm

Syfy Picks Up Fantasy Series (Deadline)

Syfy has ordered a prime-time fantasy series based on a bestselling book trilogy. reports that the network gave a 12-episode order to “The Magicians.”

The hourlong drama series is based on Lev Grossman’s book trilogy.

“The project hails from Michael London’s Groundswell Productions, Universal Cable Productions and writers John McNamara (Aquarius) and Sera Gamble (Supernatural),” Deadline reports.

The series stars Jason Ralph as a grad student working to save humanity from magical threats.

Stella Maeve, Hale Appleman, Arjun Gupta and Summer Bishil also star.

the-magicians-book cover

May 4, 2015
9:01 am

‘Star Trek’ Actress Dies (NBC News)

An actress known for her role on the original “Star Trek” TV series has died. NBC News reports that Grace Lee Whitney, who played Yeoman Rand on “Star Trek,” died over the weekend in Coursegold, Calif., at 85.

Her cause of death was not reported.

“Whitney, a recovering alcoholic, spent the last 35 years of her life helping others with addiction problems, often at women’s correctional facilities or the Salvation Army, her family said. They said she was credited with having helped thousands of people successfully complete 12-step addiction programs,” the story reports.

Whitney was reportedly a regular at “Star Trek” conventions worldwide, and published an autobiography titled “The Longest Trek — My Tour of the Galaxy.”

longest trek-grace lee whitneyGrace Lee Whitney on the cover of her autobiography
with “Star Trek” stars Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner

May 4, 2015
8:57 am

Why NBC Passed on a Show That’s Now a Hit for Someone Else (AP)

NBC had the inside track on a show that has now become one of the hits of the current TV season. TV writer David Bauder reports for the AP that Jimmy Fallon brought the network the idea of spinning off the lip sync competition from “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” into its own series, and NBC turned it down.

The idea became “Lip Sync Battle,” an instant hit for Spike TV — and a show that has found the sweet spot among online streamers, with one example being more than 10 million views for a recently posted video clip of Anne Hathaway lip syncing Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball.”

Spike is owned by Viacom, a corporate rival of NBC owner Comcast. NBC declined to comment for the story, but Bauder offers this explanation: “NBC airs two cycles of ‘The Voice’ each year and the summertime hit ‘America’s Got Talent,’ so it could be at its limit of talent competitions. And when the show was first pitched to NBC, it reportedly featured civilian competitors — not celebrities — making for an entirely different experience.”

The show has been a game changer for Spike, Bauder notes, including helping the network expand beyond its traditionally young male audience. “Lip Sync Battle” has attracted an audience that is 58% female.

The report quotes “Battle” exec producer Casey Patterson saying: “People are responding to music that they love and to celebrities performing in a different way. It’s like ‘Saturday Night Live.’ It’s always a treat to see celebrities moving out of their comfort zone.”

Here’s Anne Hathaway vs. Emily Blunt from “Lip Sync Battle”:

May 4, 2015
8:31 am

Cable Companies Get a Black Eye in Mayweather-Pacquiao Fight (AP)

“For some boxing fans, the big fight Saturday night turned out to be between them and their cable companies,” the AP reports.

“It’s another sting to the reputation of an industry that’s already beset with criticism over poor service and competition from streaming video providers,” the report notes.

Some fans “circumvented cable companies entirely, watching the fight [on] live video-streaming apps such as Meerkat and Twitter’s Periscope, which let users broadcast video directly to the Internet from their smartphones,” the AP reports.

An estimated 3 million TV households bought the pay-per-view fight, carried by HBO and Showtime and sold for about $100.

The report adds: “Scores of angry tweets directed at various providers complained of problems with both ordering and watching. Some users said when they tried to order, the fight wasn’t available. Others complained of picture problems or an inability to tune to the pay-per-view channel.”


May 4, 2015
8:21 am

New Doc, Premiering Tonight on HBO, Fills in the Gaps About a Fallen Rock Icon (TVWeek)

Eight years in the making, a new feature documentary that premieres tonight on HBO takes an unusual approach to filling in the missing pieces of the story about a fallen rock icon.

“Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck,” from filmmaker Brett Morgen, uses animation and Cobain’s own journals, early recordings, artwork and other unseen projects, along with family home movies and interviews with Cobain’s family, to tell the untold story in the most intimate terms.

TVWeek Open Mic writer Hillary Atkin takes you inside the documentary, and presents Morgen’s observations on the project and on Cobain, in her in-depth report, which you can read by clicking here.

kurt cobain-montage of heck-hbo

May 4, 2015
8:17 am

NBC Broadcast TV Revenues Fall (TVNewsCheck)

Comcast Corp. reported first-quarter results today, with its NBC Broadcast Television segment posting a decline in revenue, TVNewsCheck reports. Revenue for the segment was down 14.2% from the same period a year ago, slipping to $2.2 billion from $2.6 billion, the story reports.

But the report notes that the figures are skewed by two big events — the Super Bowl in 2015 and the Winter Olympics in the year-ago period.

“Excluding $376 million of revenue generated by the NFL’s Super Bowl in the first quarter of 2015, as well as $846 million of revenue generated by the Sochi Olympics in the first quarter of 2014, revenue increased 5.5%, driven by a 5.5% increase in advertising revenue, as well as higher retransmission consent fees,” TVNewsCheck reports.

The picture for Comcast’s cable nets was also impacted by the Sochi Games, the report notes.

“For the first quarter of 2015, revenue from the Cable Networks segment decreased 5.9% to $2.4 billion compared to $2.5 billion in the first quarter of 2014,” the article reports, adding: “Excluding $257 million of revenue generated by the Sochi Olympics in the first quarter of 2014, cable revenue increased 4.9%, reflecting a 4.8% increase in distribution revenue and a 4.3% increase in advertising revenue.”


May 4, 2015
8:11 am

Jamie Foxx Goes ‘Off Script’ During Mayweather-Pacquiao National Anthem (Some Are Simply Saying He Butchered It); Decide for Yourself — Here’s the Clip (TVWeek)

Much of the buzz after Saturday’s Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao “Fight of the Century” has focused not on the fight but on Jamie Foxx’s delivery of the National Anthem — with many on social media saying Foxx butchered the song.

Others have said, more kindly, that Foxx just went a little off script.

Decide for yourself — here’s the clip:

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