Feb 15, 2019
1:21 pm

Arrests Made in Jussie Smollett Attack
(TMZ, NY Post, TVWeek, Instagram)

Police in Chicago have arrested two men in connection with the alleged Jan. 29 attack on “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, according to media reports.

TMZ reports that the men — who have connections to the Fox drama series — have been booked for battery, although at the time of the report they apparently had yet to be formally charged.

“The men are brothers from Nigeria named Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, and Chicago cops are now calling them ‘potential suspects’ … as opposed to persons of interest,” TMZ reports. “We know it was their home cops raided Wednesday and seized a long list of potential evidence … including several bottles of bleach.”

The men, who go by the nicknames Ola and Abel, have come up as figures in the story of the Smollett attack since they were picked up for questioning Wednesday night at O’Hare Airport on their return from Nigeria. According to The New York Post, police revealed today that the brothers were arrested at that time and have been held since then.

“The beefy brothers, who describe themselves as actors and models, have links to ‘Empire’ — Ola played a prison inmate on season 2 of the hit Fox series, while Abel says he’s also worked on the show,” The Post reports.

It is unclear how well the brothers and Smollett know each other. Ola reportedly also recently had a part on “Chicago PD.”

Police have not confirmed that the Osundairo brothers are the same men seen in a grainy photo released from surveillance footage. Smollett has said he believes the men in the photo are his attackers. You can click here to see that photo.

“A Chicago law enforcement source tells us the next step may be a lineup in which Jussie will be asked to identify the culprits,” TMZ reports. “This raises a potential problem because … Jussie initially said his attackers were white and yelled ‘MAGA country.'” The report adds that the Osundairos “just don’t fit that profile.”

The Post report notes that authorities have 48 hours from the time of the arrests to issue charges against the men being held, which means if it’s going to happen it can be expected to take place sometime today.

Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo (Instagram)

Feb 15, 2019
1:19 pm

‘Billions’ Set to Return Next Month — and Showtime Releases an Enticing Clip
(TVWeek, Showtime)

Showtime is getting “Billions” fans fired up for next month’s premiere of the acclaimed drama series’ fourth season, and what better way to do it than with an intriguing teaser video, which you can watch below. (Spoiler alert, for both the clip and the following text.)

The teaser was released under the title “I Can Make You a Legend.” Season four premieres on Showtime on Sunday, March 17. The series stars Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis.

“When everyone is out for revenge, no one is safe,” Showtime says in promotional material accompanying the clip’s release. “This is never more true than in season four of ‘Billions.’ Bobby Axelrod and Chuck Rhoades, former enemies, and Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff), the chief counselor to each, have come together to form an uneasy but highly effective alliance, aimed at the eradication of all their rivals, including Grigor Andolov (guest star John Malkovich), Taylor Mason (Asia Kate Dillon), Bryan Connerty (Toby Leonard Moore) and Waylon ‘Jock’ Jeffcoat (guest star Clancy Brown). Ambition and betrayal have long been at the heart of ‘Billions,’ and this season all the characters find out exactly how high a price they’ll have to pay to satisfy those needs.”

The series also stars David Costabile, Condola Rashad, Kelly AuCoin, Jeffrey DeMunn and Malin Akerman, along with new guest stars Samantha Mathis, Kevin Pollak, Jade Eshete and Nina Arianda.

“Billions” is created and executive produced by showrunners Brian Koppelman and David Levien. The series was also created by Andrew Ross Sorkin.

Here’s the new teaser …

Feb 15, 2019
1:17 pm

CBS Offering Buyouts to Veteran Employees
(L.A. Biz, Miami New Times)

“CBS Corp. is encouraging its veteran employees to retire early with buyout offers that started to go out last week,” L.A. Biz reports. “The voluntary buyouts are being offered to longtime workers whose age plus the number of years they have worked for the company totals 80 or more years.”

The Miami New Times reported that the buyouts were being offered to hundreds of employees nationwide, across multiple divisions. New Times noted that 20 employees at local station WFOR-TV had received offers.

The New Times report said CBS offered some employees two weeks of severance pay and medical coverage for each year they’ve worked for the company.

L.A. Biz adds: “The move comes on the heels of a similar offer that HBO made to its longtime employees last week. In that case, the voluntary retirement packages were offered to older workers who had been with the company for a decade or more.”

Feb 15, 2019
12:59 pm

Sony Is Sued Over NBC’s ‘The Blacklist’ (Variety)

Sony, the studio behind NBC’s James Spader drama series “The Blacklist,” has been sued for wrongful termination by a former executive producer on the show.

Variety reports that Michael Watkins, a veteran TV director and cinematographer who was an EP on “The Blacklist” for several seasons, alleges in the suit that he was fired after being wrongfully blamed for a scuffle on the set.

“According to his suit, he was fired in February 2018 after he allegedly ‘laid hands’ on a male camera assistant,” Variety reports. “Watkins alleges that the claim was never investigated, and that if it had been, the company would have discovered that it was the assistant who [became] frustrated and laid hands on Watkins.”

Variety adds: “Watkins claims that Laura Benson, a co-executive producer on the show, used the incident as a pretext ‘in order to facilitate her own rise in position and power’ on the show. He also alleges that after he was gone, executives bad-mouthed him to various people, saying that he was ‘blackballed’ at Sony for the ‘beating’ of the camera assistant.”

Feb 15, 2019
12:44 pm

Emmy-Nominated Comedy Series Renewed (TVWeek)

A multicamera sitcom that was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in 2018 was just picked up for a third season. Netflix announced the renewal for “Alexa & Katie.”

The series, which stars Paris Berelc and Isabel May, was nominated last year for Outstanding Children’s Program.

The third season will launch in two parts featuring eight episodes each, Netflix said.

“The series follows two lifelong best friends on their journey as they face not only the challenges of high school but also the lingering complexities of Alexa’s battle with cancer,” Netflix noted. “Season 3 will follow Paris Berelc (Alexa) and Isabel May (Katie) through their junior and senior years of high school as they learn that together, they can get through anything.”

Among the returning cast members are Tiffani Thiessen, Eddie Shin, Jolie Jenkins, Emery Kelly, Finn Carr and Jack Griffo. Series creator Heather Wordham will continue as executive producer.

Feb 15, 2019
12:23 pm

New Transformers Series on Track for 2020 Premiere (Deadline, TVWeek, Twitter)

A new Transformers TV series is in the works, and is set to roll out next year. Netflix announced plans today for “War for Cybertron,” an animated series on which the streamer is reportedly partnering with Hasbro and Rooster Teeth.

Polygon Pictures is the animation studio.

Deadline reports that the series will examine the origins of the battle between Autobots and Decepticons.

The report quotes John Derderian, director of anime for Netflix, saying the series “will explore the expansive universe of Cybertron in a way that audiences have never seen before.”

Feb 15, 2019
10:11 am

Ben Affleck Officially Retires as Batman — Watch the Ceremony (TVWeek, ABC)

Ben Affleck made it official that he will no longer play Batman in the feature film franchise, confirming the rumor during an appearance on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

Kimmel and Affleck held a brief ceremony to officially retire Affleck’s Batman cape — here’s the clip, posted by ABC …

Feb 15, 2019
9:57 am

Netflix Lockdown Was Triggered by a Fired Employee, Authorities Say (KTLA)

A gun scare Thursday afternoon that triggered intense police activity and had Netflix’s Hollywood headquarters on lockdown for a period of time was prompted by a called-in threat from a recently fired Netflix employee, KTLA reports, citing lot security and police.

“The man, who was taken into custody but ultimately released without charges, was never actually on the lot, according to Los Angeles Police Department Officer Tony Im,” KTLA reports. “No gun was found when the person was taken into custody, Im said.”

The incident took place at the 11-acre Sunset Bronson Studios lot, where Netflix and KTLA are located along with other media facilities. A disgruntled Netflix worker who had been fired Wednesday reportedly called in a threat to a former co-worker, claiming he had a gun and was on the Hollywood lot, “ready to take action.”

“KTLA employees were alerted that they were on lockdown about 4:26 p.m., and were advised to avoid windows. Soon after that, aerial video from Sky5 showed people being led out of Netflix’s Cue building in the middle of the lot,” KTLA reports. “Shortly before 5 p.m., police said the suspect had been detained.”

The report notes that about a dozen LAPD vehicles responded to the scene.

Feb 15, 2019
9:44 am

Toy Company Developing 22 Television Shows (THR)

One of the most ambitious television development efforts around is taking place at a toy company. Mattel, which sees itself in the children’s entertainment business and has been focusing lately on the “entertainment” part, announced a development slate of 22 animated and live-action TV programs, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision.

The projects, based on Mattel’s brands and franchises, are being made for multi-platform distribution.

“The move comes in the wake of Mattel’s hiring of Adam Bonnett, a 21-year Disney Channel veteran behind ‘Hannah Montana,’ ‘Descendants’ and ‘Kim Possible,’ as executive producer of Mattel Television,” THR reports. “And it happens as the 2019 American International Toy Fair gets under way in New York beginning Friday.”

Mattel did not provide specific titles or brands, but noted that the projects cover a range of genres such as action-adventure, humor, game shows and music. The company’s top toy brands include Barbie, Hot Wheels and Masters of the Universe.

Feb 15, 2019
9:31 am

Album Release Canceled as Scrutiny of Rocker Intensifies (NY Times)

After a report surfaced that the FBI has taken steps toward opening a criminal investigation into allegations against Ryan Adams, The New York Times reports that the singer-songwriter’s album release has been canceled.

The bureau’s New York office is reportedly looking into the possibility that Adams engaged in inappropriate communications with an underage fan.

The action by FBI agents follows Wednesday’s publication of an article by The Times about Adams’ treatment of women, including a teenage fan and his ex-wife, Mandy Moore.

“They are responding to an accusation that Adams exchanged sexually explicit images with the teenager, who said her communication with the singer began when she was 14 and ended when she was 16. They never met in person, and through a lawyer, Adams has denied ever engaging in sexual conversations with someone he knew was underage,” The Times reports.

The report adds: “Adams, a prolific Grammy-nominated rock and alternative country singer, had previously announced plans to release three albums this year via Blue Note Records and his own Pax-Am label. On Thursday, the first of those new albums, ‘Big Colors,’ which had been scheduled for April 19, was put on hold indefinitely, according to music retailers.”

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