Apr 19, 2019
2:39 pm

Showrunner Steps Down From NBC Sitcom (Deadline, NBC)

An NBC comedy series will have new showrunners in place for its upcoming season, with Deadline reporting that Justin Spitzer is stepping down from the role on “Superstore.”

The move coincides with news that Spitzer, Gabe Miller and Jonathan Green have renewed their overall deals with “Superstore” producer Universal Television.

“Spitzer has served as showrunner of ‘Superstore’ since the series’ launch. Beginning with Season 5,  Miller and Green will take over showrunner duties, while Spitzer will shift to develop new projects for the studio,” Deadline reports. “Spitzer has his own deal with the studio, and Miller and Green have re-upped as a team.”

The report quotes Universal TV president Pearlena Igbokwe saying: “I can’t thank Justin enough for giving us one of the smartest comedies on television and I’m grateful we now get to pick his very fertile brain for new ideasHe is leaving ‘Superstore’ in the very capable hands of Gabe and Jonathan who, along with America, Ben and the entire cast and crew, will continue to deliver the high-quality show we’ve all come to love.”

Apr 19, 2019
2:37 pm

Trailer Comes Out for Ava DuVernay’s Eagerly Anticipated Central Park Five Series — Did Felicity Huffman Make the Cut?
(TVWeek, Netflix)

Now we know whether Felicity Huffman, who faces legal problems related to the college admissions scandal, made it into Ava DuVernay’s upcoming Netflix limited series “When They See Us,” about the notorious Central Park Five case. According to a trailer for the project released today, Huffman will be in the movie, playing Manhattan prosecutor Linda Fairstein.

The series premieres May 31 on Netflix.

“Based on a true story that gripped the country, ‘When They See Us’ will chronicle the notorious case of five teenagers of color, labeled the Central Park Five, who were convicted of a rape they did not commit,” Netflix says in promotional material accompanying the trailer’s release. “The four-part limited series will focus on the five teenagers from Harlem — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise. Beginning in the spring of 1989, when the teenagers were first questioned about the incident, the series will span 25 years, highlighting their exoneration in 2002 and the settlement reached with the city of New York in 2014.”

The project was created by DuVernay, who also co-wrote and directed the four parts. Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King from Participant Media, Oprah Winfrey from Harpo Films, and Jane Rosenthal, Berry Welsh and Robert De Niro from Tribeca Productions will executive produce the series alongside DuVernay through her banner, Forward Movement. In addition to DuVernay, Attica Locke, Robin Swicord, and Michael Starrburry also serve as writers on the limited series.

The series stars Emmy nominee Michael K. Williams, Academy Award nominee Vera Farmiga, Emmy winner John Leguizamo, Academy Award nominee and Emmy winner Felicity Huffman, Emmy nominee Niecy Nash, Emmy winner and two-time Golden Globe nominee Blair Underwood, Emmy and Grammy winner and Tony nominee Christopher Jackson, Joshua Jackson, Omar Dorsey, Adepero Oduye, Famke Janssen, Aurora Perrineau, Dascha Polanco, William Sadler, Jharrel Jerome, Jovan Adepo, Aunjanue Ellis, Kylie Bunbury, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Storm Reid, Chris Chalk, Freddy Miyares, Justin Cunningham, Ethan Herisse, Caleel Harris, Marquis Rodriguez and Asante Blackk.

Here’s the trailer …

Apr 19, 2019
2:31 pm

MLB Gives Up on Buying Regional Sports Networks (NY Post)

Major League Baseball is abandoning its dream of becoming the operator of a nationwide chain of sports channels, The New York Post reports, citing unnamed sources.

As Disney wraps up its auction of 21 regional sports networks, “MLB has resigned itself to becoming a minority investor,” the story reports. The league had hoped to gain control of the RSNs.

The report quotes a source close to the talks saying: “MLB preferred majority but have come to the conclusion that it is not going to be possible and they want to be part of a consortium.”

The Post adds: “MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred surprised media executives in November when he jumped into the auction. At the time, sources close to MLB said the league was angling to centralize the media rights of MLB’s various teams, boosting its ability to resell games to a fast-growing array of online streaming services.

“The problem: MLB is owned by the 30 teams it encompasses — and those teams want to charge the RSNs as much as they can for the rights to broadcast their games.”

Apr 19, 2019
2:29 pm

AT&T vs. NFL: Relationship Takes a Nasty Turn (NY Post)

AT&T and the NFL are offering differing accounts of what went wrong with their relationship, with The New York Post quipping that the NFL is accusing AT&T of “unnecessary roughness.” The NFL says the telecom giant pulled two NFL channels off its streaming services without warning.

The Post quotes the NFL saying: “We never heard a word from them until NFL Network and NFL RedZone were pulled from the AT&T U-Verse and DirecTV Now services.”

The report notes that BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield called AT&T’s behavior “highly peculiar — especially for a company so closely associated with sports.”

But AT&T had its own version of events, saying the company “could not reach an agreement with the NFL to continue to carry their channels.”

“The conflicting accounts signal something’s amiss in a 25-year partnership built on DirecTV’s exclusive rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket — the highly lucrative $396-a-season package for all out-of-market NFL games,” The Post reports. “The satellite broadcaster, acquired by AT&T in 2015, most recently renewed its Sunday Ticket rights in 2014, paying the NFL $1.5 billion a year for an extension through 2022.”

Apr 19, 2019
2:27 pm

Roman Polanski Sues the Motion Picture Academy (TMZ)

Exiled film director Roman Polanski is suing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, claiming the organization unfairly kicked him out, TMZ reports.

“The disgraced director filed new docs saying the Academy went back on its word to give him serious consideration after it expelled him in May 2018,” TMZ reports. “In docs, obtained by TMZ, Polanski says the Academy offered to reconsider its decision but instead summarily denied him re-entry in January.”

The report quotes Polanski saying in the suit: “The Academy was supposed to provide reasonable notice of any adverse action to be taken against a member and a reasonable opportunity for a member to be heard.”

TMZ adds: “Polanski says he never got a fair shake … claiming the Academy violated its own rules when they kicked him out. Polanski — admitted to the Academy in 1963 and whose films have won 8 Oscars — is suing to get reinstated … stat.”

Polanski, whose films include “Chinatown,” “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Pianist,” has been living in exile in Europe since 1978 after he pleaded guilty to statutory rape in a U.S. case involving a 13-year-old girl.

Apr 19, 2019
1:59 pm

Two Top Deputies of Chicago Prosecutor Resign Following Jussie Smollett Fiasco
(Chicago Sun-Times)

“Two deputies of embattled Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, including the ethics officer who wrote a memo announcing Foxx had recused herself from the Jussie Smollett prosecution, will leave the office in coming weeks,” the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

“Both April Perry, whom Foxx appointed two years ago as the first chief ethics officer, and Mark Rotert, a veteran prosecutor and civil attorney who revamped the process the office used to review wrongful conviction claims, will leave Foxx’s staff on May 3, according to letters obtained through a public records request,” the paper reports, adding: “Perry submitted her resignation Wednesday, and an email sent to staff states she is taking a job as general counsel for a tech start-up. Rotert filed a resignation letter on March 27, coincidentally, the day before the office dropped 16 counts of disorderly conduct charged against the ‘Empire’ actor, Rotert told The Chicago Sun-Times.”

Rotert is quoted saying in a phone interview that the Smollett case “had absolutely zero percent to do with my decision.”

The report adds: “Perry, who is Rotert’s supervisor, did not respond to requests for comment. On Thursday evening, Foxx sent a notice to staff about a May 1 farewell party for Rotert and Perry, lauding both for their work with the office.”

Apr 19, 2019
12:11 pm

James Corden and Andrew Garfield Audition for ‘Game of Thrones’ … Sort Of (TVWeek, CBS)

In a bit that aired on CBS’s “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” the show’s host and actor Andrew Garfield can be seen desperately trying to land parts on “Game of Thrones.”

Here’s the clip …

Apr 19, 2019
11:27 am

‘Access’ Regular Leaving the Show (Variety, Access)

An on-air fixture at NBC’s “Access Hollywood” and “Access Live” is leaving the entertainment news franchise. Variety reports that Natalie Morales is exiting the shows.

“Morales will continue working for NBC News as West Coast anchor for ‘Today’ and as a correspondent for ‘Dateline,'” Variety reports.

The move comes a month after “Access” abruptly replaced longtime executive producer Rob Silverstein, moving Maureen FitzPatrick into the position, as we reported in March.

Variety notes that word first surfaced last month in the Daily Mail that Morales was on her way out of “Access.”

“Morales is not expected to be immediately replaced,” Variety adds. “Kit Hoover will remain anchor of the early-evening ‘Access’ newsmagazine, and co-host with Scott Evans of the daytime news and talk show ‘Access Live.’”

Apr 19, 2019
10:59 am

Stars Gather for ‘Laugh-In’ Tribute (TVWeek)

A tribute to the seminal sketch show “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” featuring original cast members Lily Tomlin, Jo Anne Worley and Ruth Buzzi, is headed to Netflix next month.

“Still Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate” is set to launch on the streamer on Tuesday, May 14. Taped at Hollywood’s Dolby Theater, the production features an all-star talent lineup paying homage to the iconic show and its director/producer George Schlatter with modern takes on timeless moments from the show.

The show celebrates the 50th anniversary of “Laugh-In,” which aired from 1968-1973 on NBC. Tomlin will revive her Edith Ann and Ernestine characters.

Netflix released the following lineup: Lily Tomlin, Ruth Buzzi, Billy Crystal, Snoop Dogg, Tiffany Haddish, Chelsea Handler, Neil Patrick Harris, Taye Diggs, Michael Douglas, Jay Leno, Rita Moreno, Rita Wilson, Jo Anne Worley, Maria Bamford, Margaret Cho, Ron Funches, Nikki Glaser, Lisa Ann Walter, Mary McCormack, Bobby Moynihan, Cheri Oteri, Rob Riggle, Jeff Ross, J.B. Smoove, Tony Hale, Jon Lovitz, Natasha Leggero, Kenya Barris, Michael Rapaport, Jameela Jamil and more.

Dave Broome is executive producing under his 25/7 Productions banner along with Schlatter. Yong Yam is also executive producing.

Apr 19, 2019
10:09 am

Two Iconic Sitcoms Return to TV — Live (TVWeek)

In an unusual programming event, two iconic comedy series will return to TV in the form of live re-creations. ABC announced plans for “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons,'” a 90-minute special airing Wednesday, May 22.

One episode of each of the sitcoms will be re-created by a lineup of stars including Ellie Kemper, Jamie Foxx, Justina Machado, Marisa Tomei, Wanda Sykes, Will Ferrell and Woody Harrelson.

Harrelson and Tomei will play Archie and Edith Bunker, while Foxx and Sykes will appear as George and Louise Jefferson. Other cast members are still to be announced.

The program will be hosted by Lear and Jimmy Kimmel, and directed by 10-time Emmy winner James Burrows. Executive producers are Brent Miller, Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Justin Theroux.

Click here for all the details.

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