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As usual, if you want a ballot with our choices already filled out, we have that too. It’s been filled out by our editorial director and publisher, Chuck Ross. No guarantees, of course, but Chuck usually does pretty well with his choices…
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By Chuck Ross
Editorial Director and Publisher, TVWeek
As someone born and raised in the shadow of Hollywood, I’m thrilled to have a Varietyese headline of my own choosing.
It’s time to move on. I turned 68 this month and I’m retiring. I’ll still write — I can now devote all my attentions to a book I’ve been researching for several years — but myself and my colleague and friend Dennis R. Liff, our executive editor — who has done most of the heavy lifting for this site for a long time now — are calling it quits for TVWeek. Primarily it’s been just the two of us who have been putting out TVWeek for a number of years now.
We’ll leave the site up for anyone who wants to check out old stories, but we’ll no longer be publishing our daily links to TV stories around the net. If you are interested in another site that aggregates stories about TV, we heartily recommend TVNewsCheck, run by our good friend Harry Jessell.
Today ends almost 38 years of continuous publication. We started on May 3, 1982, as Electronic Media, which became known as EM. The publication was the brainchild of Rance Crain as a spinoff of Advertising Age, which Rance’s dad, G.D., founded in January 1930.
Rance changed our name in 2003 to TelevisionWeek, and in 2009 we became an online only publication.
When I first joined EM in 2000, as its editor, it was a bustling, vibrant publication with about 50 employees, equally split between the business side and the edit side.
All the stories we published then were written by our terrific staff. Unfortunately, marketplace conditions dictated a path for us that led to our becoming a publication that aggregated and linked to stories published by others, with little original reporting.
By the way, I think I have (finally) figured out a way for TVWeek to return to those glory years. That would be if it’s adopted by a journalism school. As the owner of TVWeek for the past five years, I’d be willing to sell the pub to a J-school for a dollar.
The plan would be for journalism students to make up much of the staff, as they experience what it’s like to run a real-life trade publication that has accumulated an excellent reputation over its 38-year lifespan. With a full editorial staff, TVWeek would once again become a publication filled with crisp, perceptive, original reporting.
Dennis Liff has told me that he would be open to staying with the publication if a J-school took it over. In partnership with the new owner it would be decided which other positions needed to be filled by professionals who would work with the J-students.
That’s the idea in a nutshell. I ran it by one dean of a J-school who liked the idea but said he didn’t think he could swing it budgetwise (paying to support a website and paying some professionals to work with the students) and that it didn’t really fit with the way his school’s current curriculum works.
I do think it would be a win-win for the right partner. There are a lot of J-schools out there, but it’s rare for one to also be able to give its students the opportunity to write for a real-life national trade pub serving a major industry, with the J-school owning the publication.
In the premiere issue of EM back in 1982, Rance Crain wrote: “Our exclusive niche will be defined as the wide range of electronic media, in all its new, old and emerging forms. We believe in the need for a publication that will blow away all the smoke and pull together, in a meaningful and useful way, the relationships involved.”
That need is still there.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org if anyone is interested. Dennis Liff can be reached at email@example.com.
Meanwhile, I have a lot of people I want to thank before I sign off. To read those acknowlegements, please click here.
The president of production for Twentieth Century Studios has resigned, ending a run at the company that lasted two decades.
Variety reports that the departure of Emma Watts “comes after mutterings that Watts was unhappy about not being given more to do at Twentieth after the company was acquired by the Walt Disney Company in 2019. In her resignation letter, Watts cited a need to ‘pursue new opportunities.’”
The report adds that Watts is “the latest in a long line of Fox veterans and top executives to leave the company following the sale, joining the likes of studio chairman Stacey Snider (with whom Watts previously clashed, and who is now leading the production outfit Sister), domestic distribution chief Chris Aronson (now at Paramount), and Fox 2000 chief Elizabeth Gabler (safely ensconced at Sony in a deal that will have her develop movies based on Harper Collins properties).”
Other longtime Fox executives remain in place, Variety notes, including the Searchlight team of Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley, along with Fox Family head Vanessa Morrison.
“Watts’ existing creative team will stay in place and a new leader is expected to be named in the coming weeks,” Variety reports, adding: “Watts was seen as a key ally to many veteran Fox filmmakers such as Ridley Scott, Matt Reeves, Ryan Reynolds, James Mangold, James Cameron and Simon Kinberg, and was also credited with helping turn ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ into a hit after the original director Bryan Singer was fired and replaced by Dexter Fletcher.”
A newly published survey ranking celebrities by the number of times they’ve been arrested finds that the No. 1 “arrestee,” by a huge margin, is Martin Sheen. The survey by the gambling website ToppCasinoBonus.com determined that Sheen, who had a long run as President Josiah Bartlet on “The West Wing,” has been arrested 66 times.
The New York Post notes that Sheen’s record is attributed to protests and civil disobedience, including appearances at anti-war and anti-nuclear demonstrations.
“Sheen vastly outranks the second-most-arrested celebrity: Libertines and Babyshambles singer Pete Doherty, who has been arrested a mere 26 times,” The Post reports.
The paper adds that none of Sheen’s arrests were for serious crimes, “unlike those of British rocker Doherty, 40, whose brushes with the law have mostly involved drugs, traffic crimes and robbery.”
Others ranking high on the list include DMX with 24 arrests, Suge Knight with 15, Bobby Brown with 14 and Dennis Rodman with 12.
Among female celebrities, Courtney Love and Lindsay Lohan are tied with 10 apiece.
A reboot that has been in the works at the CW won’t be going forward, with Deadline reporting that the broadcast network pulled the plug on its planned one-hour follow-up series to the football comedy “The Game.”
The project came from Mara Brock Akil, creator of the original 2006 half-hour comedy, and “American Soul” co-creator Devon Greggory.
“Based on the pilot script by Akil and Greggory, I hear the CW brass made the decision not to move forward with the CBS TV Studios-produced project in its current form but were open to redeveloping it with Akil,” Nellie Andreeva reports in the Deadline piece. “I hear Akil, after consideration, declined the redevelopment offer as she and Greggory had executed her vision of what a next chapter of ‘The Game’ should look like.”
Andreeva adds: “Written by Akil and Greggory, the new incarnation of ‘The Game’ was to have a new Baltimore setting. The idea was for some of the original cast members to come back as the show’s out-of-touch old-timers are determined to help a bunch of knuckle-head new-schoolers navigate the ruthless game of football on and off the field.”
CBS just gave a four-season renewal to a drama series that has been airing on the network for 48 years. TVLine reports that the network picked up the daytime drama “The Young and the Restless” through the 2023-24 television season.
TVLine notes that “Y&R” has been the No. 1 soap for 33 years running.
“The past season marked cast member Melody Thomas Scott’s 40th year with the show,” the report adds. “Her leading man, Eric Braeden, will mark the same milestone next month.”
CBS’s other soap opera, “The Bold and the Beautiful,” which recently celebrated its 33rd anniversary, also appears to have some good news on the way.
“An Eye insider tells TVLine that ‘B&B’ is already in the midst of a three-season renewal pact that will keep it on the air through the 2021-22 TV season,” the story reports.
CBS President Kelly Kahl is quoted saying in a statement: “Having the No. 1 show for any length of time in any daypart is a tremendous accomplishment. But ‘The Young and the Restless’ has been daytime’s top drama for over three decades. The last time any other show was on top, Ronald Reagan was president, and the Berlin Wall was still standing. It’s a remarkable achievement and a testament to the extraordinary cast, gifted writers, talented producers and supremely passionate fans, as well as our tremendous partnership with [‘Y&R‘s’ studio] Sony Pictures Television.”
The recipients of the 2020 Humanitas Prize were honored Jan. 24 at the Beverly Hilton, and among the honorees were some household names in the industry.
TV legend Norman Lear, 97, was in attendance to receive the first Norman Lear Award, honoring social impact and personal responsibility. Greg Berlanti received the Kieser Award, a lifetime achievement award for television and feature film writers whose work not only entertains but also enriches the audience.
Ava DuVernay was honored in the Limited Series, TV Movie or Special category for “When They See Us,” and also received the inaugural Voice for Change Award.
TVWeek Open Mic writer Hillary Atkin took in the festivities and filed a full report. Click here for a rundown, including the full list of winners.
The late basketball legend Kobe Bryant will be a part of this Sunday’s Super Bowl festivities in Miami, with Jennifer Lopez and Shakira announcing Thursday in a joint press conference that they will be paying tribute to Bryant during their halftime show.
The singers’ 12-minute performance will also pay tribute to Latino culture and will carry a message of empowerment, the AP reports.
“Shakira and Lopez have separately released a number of chart-topping hits that dominated both the pop and Latin charts in the last two decades,” the AP notes. “While rehearsing days ago, Lopez said her beau Alex Rodriguez came to her in tears to let her know Bryant, a friend of his, had passed away. Lopez said Thursday she wanted to send love and support to Bryant’s wife and family.”
Lopez is quoted saying Thursday: “We have to love people when they’re here and not wait. I think about Vanessa as a mom and losing her best friend and partner and losing her child, you know, how awful that must be for her right now, and I just wanted to send the message and praying God guides her through every moment because she has three more babies to take care of.”
Both Lopez and Shakira said Bryant had attended their concerts.
Said Shakira: “Life is so fragile. And that’s why we have to live every moment as intensely as we can. And I think we’ll all be remembering Kobe on Sunday. And we’ll be celebrating life and celebrating diversity in this country. I’m sure he’ll be very proud to see the message that we’re going to try to convey onstage.”
Here’s a video report posted by “ET” with clips from the Shakira-Lopez press conference …
Legendary television executive and producer Fred Silverman, who ran CBS, ABC and NBC and was behind groundbreaking shows including “All in the Family,” “Soap” and “Hill Street Blues,” has died. Deadline reports that Silverman died Thursday at his home in Pacific Palisades, Calif. He was 82.
“Silverman’s knack for identifying hit shows in the making and programming them into memorable prime-time nights led Time magazine to crown him ‘The Man with the Golden Gut’ in 1977,” Deadline reports.
Silverman is quoted saying in a 2001 interview with the Television Academy: “There are a lot of things that I can point to that I think are proud achievements. Most importantly, I had the opportunity to kind of stretch the medium a little bit, to do some things that had never been done before.”
After working at WGN-TV in Chicago and WPIX in New York City, Silverman was named head of CBS daytime programming at 25.
“At CBS, Silverman was responsible for a new wave of highly popular shows, including ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show,’ ‘M*A*S*H,’ ‘The Waltons,’ ‘Good Times,’ ‘The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour,’ ‘Kojak,’ ‘Cannon,’ ‘The Jeffersons,’ and the animated series ‘Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!,” Deadline reports. “Additionally, he reintroduced game shows to the network’s daytime slate, including ‘The Price Is Right,’ which remains on air today.”
He became president of ABC Entertainment in 1975, before moving on to NBC in 1978 as president and CEO.
“After decades as a television executive, Silverman turned his attention to production,” Deadline notes. “He moved to Los Angeles to begin his own production company, quickly producing multiple hits, including the revival of ‘Perry Mason’ as a TV movie series, ‘Matlock,’ ‘Diagnosis: Murder,’ ‘Jake and the Fatman,’ and ‘In the Heat of the Night,’ which won the 1990 NAACP Image Award for Best Dramatic Series.”
Here’s a clip of Silverman discussing “All in the Family” …