Mar 26, 2019
10:15 am

Another Shocker In Bizarre Case: State’s Attorney Drops All Charges Against Jussie Smollett (TMZ, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times)

“Jussie Smollett will not be prosecuted for allegedly faking a racial attack, because all charges have been dropped,” reports TMZ.

TMZ adds, “Jussie will surrender his $10,000 bond. But, that’s it. The case is over.

“We’re told the State’s Attorney, Kim Foxx, told Chicago police she was dropping the case because Jussie would have only gotten community service if convicted and she said he has already performed community service so there is no point in prosecuting him. We could not find any record of Smollett doing community service.

“We’re told Chicago police are ‘furious’ and feel something untoward is going on with [prosecutor] Kim Foxx.”

Smollett is best known for playing Jamal Lyon on the Fox TV series “Empire.” In January, Smollett said he was a victim of a racist, homophobic attack in the Streeterville area of Chicago. He was later arrested by the Chicago police and faced felony charges for allegedly falsifying a police report.

Upon his release, Smollett told reporters, “I have been truthful and consistent from day one,” reports the Chicago Tribune.

The Tribune adds, “Smollett’s attorney, Patricia Brown Holmes, said the defense reached no deal with prosecutors. Smollett agreed to forfeit his $100,000 bond ‘so he could go on with his life and get this over with,’ she said.

“Smollett had to post 10 percent of that — or $10,000. Ordinarily, that money would be returned to him or his attorneys.

“For unclear reasons, Judge Steven Watkins ordered the public court file sealed.”

The TMZ story adds: “A source close to Jussie says the prosecution’s case ‘disintegrated.’ As we reported, there were issues with the $3,500 check the 2 brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo, received from Jussie. The Police Superintendent had said the money was payment for the fake attack, but it appears it was actually for physical training.

“The Police Superintendent also said during a news conference that Jussie wrote that threatening letter 6 days before the attack when in actuality the FBI had not concluded who wrote the letter.”

Notes the Chicago Sun-Times, “The decision to drop the charges was not a statement that Smollett did not, as police and prosecutors said when the actor was charged, pay his assailants to fake the attack, and then falsely report the incident to police and detectives, said First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats during an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday.

“Asked if the dropped charges meant the actor was, in fact, the victim of a crime, Magats was emphatic. ‘Absolutely not. We stand behind the CPD investigation done in this case, we stand behind the approval of charges in this case,’ Magats said. ‘They did a fantastic job. The fact there was an alternative disposition in this case is not and should not be viewed as some kind of admission there was something wrong with the case, or something wrong with the investigation that the Chicago Police did.’”






Mar 26, 2019
9:27 am

Stephen Colbert Apologizes to President Trump (Not) After Barr Report on Mueller Investigation. Watch It Now (TVWeek, CBS)

Stephen Colbert, host of CBS’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” had a field day last night with the ending of the Mueller investigation, including a faux-apology to President Trump.

Here’s Colbert’s monologue from Monday night:

Mar 25, 2019
3:47 pm

CNN Drops Contributor in Fallout From Avenatti Arrest (THR, WSJ, TVWeek)

CNN parted ways with a high-profile commentator as part of the fallout from the criminal complaint against celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the cable news channel severed ties with Mark Geragos. The move comes after “multiple outlets reported Monday that he is the ‘unnamed co-conspirator’ in a criminal complaint filed in New York against the lawyer Michael Avenatti,” THR reports.

As we reported earlier today, Avenatti, the former lawyer for Stormy Daniels, was arrested today on charges of trying to extort $25 million from Nike.

THR quotes a spokesperson for CNN saying today: “Mark Geragos is no longer a CNN contributor.”

The THR report notes that Geragos has not been charged with a crime, but quotes a Wall Street Journal story, citing the complaint, stating: “Mr. Avenatti and Mr. Geragos, the alleged co-conspirator, met with lawyers for Nike in New York on March 19 and threatened to release damaging information unless the company agreed to pay the two lawyers millions of dollars and another $1.5 million to the client Avenatti claimed to represent.”

Geragos is a familiar figure in the media with a string of high-profile clients including Michael Jackson, Scott Peterson and Jussie Smollett.

THR adds that CNN “also cut ties last week with economist Stephen Moore after President Donald Trump said on Friday that he is appointing the CNN contributor to the Federal Reserve board.”

Mar 25, 2019
3:11 pm

Here’s What Apple TV+ Will Look Like
(TVWeek, Apple)

Apple is billing its upcoming Apple TV+ streaming service as the new home for the world’s most creative storytellers, and to make that point, the company released a number of new preview clips today, which you can watch below and here.

The clips showcase some of the content creators who have signed on with the service. The service’s high-profile roster includes J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Aniston, Damien Chazelle, Sofia Coppola, Ron Howard, M. Night Shyamalan, Octavia Spencer, Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Hailee Steinfeld and Reese Witherspoon.

“We’re honored that the absolute best lineup of storytellers in the world — both in front of and behind the camera — are coming to Apple TV+,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “We’re thrilled to give viewers a sneak peek of Apple TV+ and cannot wait for them to tune in starting this fall. Apple TV+ will be home to some of the highest quality original storytelling that TV and movie lovers have seen yet.”

Pricing and availability are coming this fall. Click here to see additional clips released today by Apple and to read the full announcement on Apple TV+.

Here are some of the new clips …

Click here for additional clips.

Mar 25, 2019
3:09 pm

Miramax Head of TV Exits the Company (Variety)

The president of television for Miramax is leaving the company and will become president of television for Spyglass Media Group. Variety reports that Lauren Whitney is making the move effective April 1.

“The news comes less than two years after Whitney first joined Miramax,” Variety reports. “There, she oversaw the studio’s television development, in addition to ‘Spy City,’ produced by Odeon and Seven Stories for ZDF, and the recent ‘Gone Baby Gone’ pilot, a co-production with 20th Century Fox Television.”

Whitney will reportedly oversee television development and production for broadcast, cable and streaming services for Spyglass. She will report to Gary Barber, chairman and CEO of Spyglass.

Barber is quoted saying: “Lauren has discerning taste, stellar industry relationships, and has overseen production on a variety of compelling series across all platforms. We are fortunate to have Lauren’s talents and creative leadership as we build on our television business.”

Mar 25, 2019
2:53 pm

Blackout Averted in High-Stakes Carriage Dispute (USA Today, TVWeek, Twitter)

A blackout that would have deprived some viewers of popular channels has been averted in the carriage dispute between AT&T’s DirecTV and Viacom.

DirecTV took to Twitter early today to announce that an agreement had been reached between the two companies. You can see the tweet below.

The deal removes the risk that DirecTV subscribers would have lost access to BET, Comedy Central and other popular Viacom cable channels.

“The contract between DirecTV parent AT&T and Viacom expired at midnight Friday, but the companies continued talks over the weekend,” USA Today reports. “Viacom’s channels remained on the TV service during talks and an agreement was reached early Monday.”

The companies said they expect to announce details about the agreement in the near future.

Mar 25, 2019
1:59 pm

Actor Arrested After Single-Car Crash
(TMZ, TVWeek)

An actor with a long list of TV and film credits was arrested Sunday after crashing his SUV in Malibu. TMZ reports that Michael Madsen was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence after wrecking his Land Rover.

“The veteran actor of Quentin Tarantino flicks like ‘Kill Bill,’ ‘Hateful Eight’ and “Reservoir Dogs” got into a single-car crash, hitting a pole, Sunday around 8 PM … according to law enforcement sources,” TMZ reports. “We’re told the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department deputies responded and, when they arrived, immediately suspected Madsen had been boozing.

“We’re told Madsen smelled of alcohol, so he was given a field sobriety test and, according to law enforcement, it didn’t go well — his BAC was .10.”

Madsen was reportedly arrested for misdemeanor DUI, with his bail set at $15,000.

“Madsen was also busted for DUI in Malibu back in 2012, when his BAC was twice the legal limit,” TMZ reports. “He entered a 30-day rehab after that arrest, and the judge also ordered him to get outpatient treatment.”

Madsen’s TV credits include the series “Vengeance Unlimited,” “Big Apple,” “Tilt” and “24.” The 61-year-old actor was released from jail Monday morning, according to media reports.

Mar 25, 2019
1:37 pm

Fox Renews Two Shows — Including Its No. 1 Drama (TVWeek, YouTube)

Fox has picked up two prime-time shows for new seasons, including its No. 1 drama series, “9-1-1.” Fox also renewed “The Resident,” meaning both shows will return for third seasons.

Both series have new episodes airing tonight on the network.

“9-1-1 redefined what a procedural series can be, consistently delivering edge-of-your-seat emergencies, mixed with emotional story arcs and incredible performances from one of the most powerful teams of actors on television,” said Michael Thorn, president of Entertainment for Fox Entertainment. “Kudos to Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Tim Minear and their entire crew, as well as the amazing cast anchored by Angela Bassett, Peter Krause and Jennifer Love Hewitt for raising the bar week after week.”

The show has averaged 15.4 million total viewers, Fox said.

Please click here for details about both shows in today’s announcement.

Mar 25, 2019
1:31 pm

Late-Night Trend: Advertisers Making Deals That Affect the Content of Shows — An Example Is Tonight’s ‘Tonight’ Show (Variety)

Tonight’s installment of NBC’s “Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon” will veer away from the usual format, dispensing with the opening monologue and the traditional sit-downs with guests, Variety reports.

“Instead, Fallon will open the program by telling viewers that the entire episode has been shot with the Samsung Galaxy S10+ smartphone, which features an ultra-wide camera lens, and explain that it will showcase some of his favorite New York spots,” Variety reports, noting: “The collaboration is part of a broad ad deal Samsung has struck with NBCUniversal.”

The report quotes Patricio Paucar, Samsung’s vice president of marketing, saying: “We know consumer attention is being pulled in so many different directions today. It’s really hard to break through the noise and get people to engage in a way that best communicates the benefits of your products.”

According to Paucar, a solution is to have a television program “showcase” a product, “as opposed to showing them on screen in a commercial.”

Variety adds: “Samsung’s smartphone connection to ‘Tonight’ adds a new dimension to one of Madison Avenue’s most-sought formats. For the past few years, certain categories of advertisers have placed new emphasis on late-night TV, eager to get their products in front of younger viewers in unique ways that simply aren’t available in scripted programming (and are cheaper than advertising in primetime).”

We encourage readers to click on the link above to Variety to read the full report.

Mar 25, 2019
11:59 am

Stormy Daniels’ Former Lawyer Michael Avenatti Arrested (CNBC)

Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti, who represented porn star Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against Donald Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen, was arrested Monday on charges of trying to extort $25 million from Nike, CNBC reports.

“Avenatti also is charged in a separate federal case out of Los Angeles, where he is accused of embezzling a client’s money ‘in order to pay his own expense and debts,’ and of ‘defrauding a bank in Mississippi,’ prosecutors said,” CNBC reports.

The report says Avenatti is charged with attempting to extort Nike “by threatening to drive the athletic apparel giant’s market capitalization down by $10 billion by announcing claims of misconduct by company employees.”

Daniels, who replaced Avenatti as her lawyer earlier this month after having a falling-out with him, is quoted in a statement released by her new lawyer, Clark Brewster, telling CNBC: “Knowing what I know now about Michael, I’m saddened but not shocked regarding his arrest.” She adds: “I made the decision weeks ago to terminate Michael’s services after discovering that he had dealt with me extremely dishonestly, and I will have my own announcement coming soon.”

CNBC reports: “The California resident Avenatti, 48, was busted in Midtown Manhattan at the law offices of Boies Schiller Flexner at 12:30 p.m. by FBI agents, about 15 minutes after he tweeted that he would be disclosing a big high school and college basketball scandal ‘perpetrated by’ Nike that he supposedly had uncovered.”

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