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post #13681 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 08:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Washington Notebook
Senate Committee Funds CBP's DTV Transition

By John Eggerton Broadcasting & Cable 7/21/2006

The Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday approved a 2007 budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that leaves intact money for the digital transition, the Ready to Learn initiative, and arguably most importantly, the two-year forward funding process.

That's according to CPB President Patricia Harrison, who said CPB was grateful for the money.
Forward funding is an attempt to insulate CPB from a politicized budget process, though even with that forward-funding the exercise has become something of a posterchild for politicized budget processes, with Republicans attempting to gut its appropriation, claiming government-subsidized liberal bias, and Democrats holding rallies to combat the cuts, which have mostly, ultimately, been restored.

Under the bill, CPB will get $400 million in 2009. In the nearer term, for 2007 it will get $36 million for system interconnection upgrages, $29.7 million for the digital converstion, and $24.2 million for Ready to Learn, which has been in the crosshairs--despite administration support for the program--ever since its Postcards From Buster series got some Washington knickers in a twist over its "two mommies" episode.

Buster is no longer funded under that program, which has refocused on more curriculum-centric early childhood education.

But CPB is not out of the woods. The House Appropriations Committee passed a CPB 2007 appropriation last month that does not fund either Ready To Learn or the DTV transition, or any forward funding for 2009. Like the Senate version, the House version awaits a floor vote, after which any differences in the bills must be reconciled in conference.

Harrison said she would continue to push for the funds as the process continues, likely well into September, or beyond.

http://www.broadcastingcable.com/ind...leID=CA6355274
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post #13682 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 08:20 AM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
Television's New Golden Age?

Critics cite an abundance of quality programming as proof
By Todd Longwell The Hollywood Reporter July 21, 2006

With the profusion of quality shows on the air, it's easy to see why publications as diverse as Entertainment Weekly, the Washington Times and the U.K.'s Guardian as well as various bloggers are so eager to declare a new golden age of television. But out of respect to Milton Berle, Paddy Chayefsky, Rod Serling and all of the other pioneers of the medium, it seems prudent to weigh all the evidence before making such a bold proclamation.

After all, numerous critics heralded a new golden age as far back as the '70s, when classic comedies including "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "All in the Family" and "M*A*S*H" dominated the airwaves. In the '80s, the arrival of dramas like "Hill Street Blues," with its complex narrative structure, ushered in yet another golden age. Critics also made a compelling case in the '90s, citing such shows as "The Simpsons" (which debuted in December 1989), "Seinfeld" and "E.R."

Few would argue that the small screen is currently experiencing a renaissance. But is the term "golden age" being tossed around a little too lightly?

To get some perspective on the issue, The Hollywood Reporter turned to a group of people who earn their living reviewing television: Television Critics Assn. members Rick Kushman (Sacramento Bee), Rob Owen (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), Matt Roush (TV Guide), Dave Walker (New Orleans Times-Picayune) and Diane Werts (Newsday). On the whole, they were supportive of the new golden age concept, though they didn't give it an unqualified endorsement.

"I think it's fair to say that TV is as good as it has ever ... oh, geez ... I don't want to make any blanket statements," Roush says. "But I think there is a sense that we're very lucky to have as many good shows on as we have right now. There is a variety of good programs, between great thrillers like (Fox's) '24' and supremely entertaining shows like (ABC's) 'Grey's Anatomy.' The original (CBS') 'CSI' is still great, and we have cult shows like 'Veronica Mars' (which has aired on UPN and will shift to CBS in the fall) and 'Gilmore Girls' (which has aired on WB Network and will shift to the CW in the fall) and guilty pleasures like (Bravo's) 'Project Runway.' I would watch many of these shows even if I wasn't paid to, and that's a testament to the quality of television right now."

Historically, critics have regarded the preponderance of reality programming as something akin to a resurgence of the black plague. But it's hard to deny the genre's power to move and entertain when the season finale of Fox's "American Idol" draws more votes than have been cast to date for a president in a U.S. election.

"Tom Jicha at the Florida Sun-Sentinel said that, in many ways, it's perfect television," Kushman says of "Idol." "It's got real people, heroes and villains and a continuing soap opera story line that also has resolution. If it's too kitsch for you and it's not cool enough, fine, but you can't argue that it isn't really good at what it's trying to do."

The original golden age of television -- generally considered to be the late '40s through the end of the '50s -- was rife with bathos-rich reality programming and game shows such as "Queen for a Day," "This Is Your Life" and "The $64,000 Question" but was otherwise relatively short on viewing options. There were only two major networks, NBC and CBS, and a pair of weaker also-rans, ABC and DuMont (which fizzled out in 1955). Today, with the maturation of cable and satellite television, there are literally hundreds of channels to choose from.

"It's not just the networks anymore. Everybody is shooting for the moon," Werts says. "If I had to pick the two best shows last year, I would probably say (Sci Fi Channel's) 'Battlestar Galactica' and (FX's) 'The Shield,' and those are basic cable, not HBO where they can throw money, cussing and sex at it. So, in that sense, it is a golden age because there's great TV everywhere."

It's not a simple equation of more channels creating more programming equals more good shows, however, according to the critics. The ever-expanding multichannel playing field has altered both the nature and the intensity of the networks' competition for viewers, improving the ratio of quality to crap in the process.

"The cable networks don't have to do great numbers. They just need to get on the map, and the way to get on the map is to provide something of distinct quality," Roush says. "So, we have all these different cable networks trying to create signature shows. I think that FX with 'The Shield' and 'Rescue Me' in particular right now are the equal of HBO and network TV in terms of ambition and quality. And the networks know -- having seen what happened with (ABC's) 'Lost' and 'Desperate Housewives,' which were very risky shows to put on the air -- that you've got to take risks to make some noise."

"It used to be that you'd slap together a detective and a car chase and a woman in a short skirt, and you had a 1970s crime drama," Kushman says. "You can't do that now. I just watched one or two that were sort of the 2006 version of that, and if nothing else, the production values are so much better."

To some extent, they have to be, according to Werts.

"You're trying to get people that are watching in (high-definition) and widescreen," she points out. "If you plunk down $4,000 for a TV set, by God, you want to see something that looks good on it. And I think the networks really understand now that what they make today is not just for today. Obviously, they want to get ratings this minute, but the studios that own the stuff want it to stand so they can sell it on DVD and iPods and computers and whatever else comes along. So, I think that they do try to make it a little more substantial, whether that's in terms of the story or the production values."

One the arguments against the idea that television is in the midst of another golden age is the lack of quality sitcoms, save for a few standouts such as NBC's "My Name Is Earl" and "The Office" and "Everybody Hates Chris," which has aired on UPN and will shift to the CW in the fall.

"It's in a weird position now where the shows that tend to get the best reviews tend to get the smallest audiences, and even the ones that are popular aren't culturally resonant," Roush says. "(CBS') 'Two and a Half Men' is funny, but it's not the kind of show people tend to write about as an emblem of our times the way they did with 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' and 'All in the Family' or even 'Cheers' and 'Roseanne.'"

According to the Times-Picayune's Walker, some of television's best comedy can be found on dramas such as Fox's "House" and HBO's "Deadwood" and "The Sopranos."

"I think what may be happening is that people are pulling all of their comedy needs from shows like that, which also can be violent and gritty," Walker says. "I laugh all the way through 'Rescue Me.' It's not a comedy, but it very expertly incorporates comic moments in the drama, and that seems to be happening more than any other time that I can remember. I think there's a golden age of kind of a new genre, which is dramas that are more than just dramatic."

As much as critics are enjoying the riches of this golden era, sometimes it can seem like too much of a good thing.

"As a critic, the more TV there is, the more guilt there is that you can't watch all of it or even some of it," Owens admits. "It does make our jobs that more challenging. If there gets to be too much more of it, my head is going to explode."

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr..._id=1002877096
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post #13683 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 08:52 AM
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
Charlie Sheen Seeks $24M Payday

By Scott Collins Los Angeles Times Staff Writer in the Channel Island TV Industry blog July 20, 2006

Charlie Sheen got his Emmy nomination. Now he wants his reward.)

Every time I hear about how expensive/impossible it is to do HD, how mulitcasting is vital for broadcaster "survival," and when I almost start to believe the party line, an article like this comes along ...

Of course, the insiders and "experts" will now try to "educate" me about apples and oranges.

Blah, blah, blah
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post #13684 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 09:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Thursday's network prime-time ratings are now at the top of RATINGS NEWS (the first post in this thread).
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post #13685 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 09:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Overnights in the 18-49 Demo
NBC's 'Talent' cuts in on Fox's 'Dance'

By Toni Fitzgerald MediaLifeMagazine.com staff writer Jul 21, 2006

Fox's So You Think You Can Dance still owns Thursday night but NBC's America's Got Talent is gaining.

One week after Dance dominated their first Thursday matchup, an extended version of Talent's results show jumped significantly over last week while Dance fell. But Fox's reality show still bested NBC in both adults 18-49 and total viewers.

Talent averaged a 2.6 adults 18-49 overnight rating for its one-hour episode at 9 p.m., 24 percent better than the 2.1 last week's half hour results show earned at 9:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, Fox's Dance dipped 11 percent week to week, from a 3.7 to a 3.3. NBC likely benefited from starting the show at the top of the hour, when people are more likely to switch the channel. It also had a slightly stronger lead-in last night, with The Office drawing a 1.8 compared with last week's 1.6.

Yet Dance remains the No. 1 show on Thursday night, and by a long shot. The show even outdrew Talent by some 450,000 total viewers, averaging 8.8 million to the latter's 8.35 million.

That reversed the trend on Wednesday night's performance shows, when a two-hour Talent drew some 1.4 million more total viewers than a two-hour Dance.

Dance, the night's top-rated show, boosted Fox to a share of the lead for the night, tied with CBS with a 2.5 rating and an 8 share among 18-49s. NBC was No. 3 with a 2.2/7, followed by Univision at 1.8/5, ABC at 1.7/5, Univision at 1.6, WB at 0.8/3 and UPN at 0.8/2.

At 8 p.m., CBS's "Big Brother 7: All-Stars" led at 2.6, even to last week, followed by NBC's reruns of "My Name Is Earl" and "The Office" at 2.0, Univision's "La Fea Mas Bella" at 1.9, Fox's pair of "That '70s Show" repeats at 1.7, ABC's "Master of Champions" down 0.1 from last week to 1.1, and the WB and UPN each at 0.9, for a "Smallville" repeat and reruns of "Everybody Hates Chris" and "Love, Inc."

At 9 p.m., Fox's "Dance" led at 3.3, followed by NBC's "Talent" results show and CBS's "CSI" each at 2.6. The No. 4 slot was shared by ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" and Univision's "Barrera de Amor" at 1.7, ahead of the WB's "Supernatural" repeat at 0.7 and UPN's "Eve" and "Cuts" reruns at 0.6.

At 10 p.m., CBS was No. 1 at 2.5 for a rerun of "Without a Trace," followed by ABC's "Primetime" at 2.3, NBC's "Windfall" at 2.0, up 0.2 from last week, and Univision's "Aqui y Ahora" at 1.2.

Among households, CBS led for the night at a 5.8 rating and 10 share, ahead of Fox at 4.0/7, NBC and ABC each at 3.8/7, Univision at 1.9/3, WB at 1.4/2 and UPN at 1.2/2.

http://www.medialifemagazine.com/art...inter_6150.asp
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post #13686 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 12:12 PM
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
Calista Flockhart wafts back to TV

By Diane Holloway Austin American-Statesman in her TV blog Thursday, July 20, 2006

Good news, Ally McBeal fans! Calista Flockhart has just a little bit of meat on her delicate bones. Not to say she's even remotely average in weight, but the once skeletal waif now has actual arms and possibly even thighs. It was hard to tell with her little-girl dress and Minnie Mouse platform shoes.

http://www.austin360.com/blogs/conte...austin/tvblog/

OMG! Ok, this funny, but do these crixs always have to go there? The hits just keep coming.

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post #13687 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
NBC Premiere Dates

By Rich Heldenfels in his Akron Beacon Journal TV blog

Here's the skinny, announced this morning. And think about what it says re NBC's fortunes that ''Deal or No Deal'' is the best lead-in it has for ''Studio 60's'' premiere. (''Deal,'' by the way, will air FOUR times the week of Sept. 18.

NFL coverage will in effect get three premieres: the Hall of Fame game from beautiful Canton on Aug. 6, then the regular-season kickoff on Sept. 7, then the first regular-season Sunday-night game on Sept. 10.

Entertainment show dates:

Sept. 18 -- ''Deal or No Deal'' (''special two-hour edition''), ''Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.''

Sept. 19 -- ''Law & Order: Criminal Intent,'' ''Law & Order: SVU.''

Sept. 20 -- ''Biggest Loser,'' ''Kidnapped.''

Sept. 21 -- ''My Name Is Earl,'' ''The Office,'' ''Deal or No Deal,'' ''ER.''

Sept. 22 -- ''Law & Order.''

Sept. 25 -- ''Heroes.''

Oct. 3 -- ''Friday Night Lights.''

Oct. 4 -- ''Twenty Good Years.''

Oct. 11 -- ''30 Rock.''

Oct. 20 -- ''Crossing Jordan,'' ''Las Vegas.''

http://blogs.ohio.com/beacon_tv/
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post #13688 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 12:38 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
Obligatory post-Kevin Reilly blog posting

By Aaron Barnhart Kansas City Star in his blog TV Barn Friday, July 21, 2006

"Nobody's Watching" is coming back as webisodes. Anybody shocked by that? Madonna's doing a non-live concert special for NBC, and Kevin Reilly's head of movie development is developing ... one movie next season for NBC. Ricky and Stephen are writing a script for "The Office." Jason Katims is working on "footballsomething," aka "Friday Night Lights." "Last Comic Standing" is going to be on NBC in the summer "for years to come." Stop me if I'm giving you actual news...

The president of NBC Entertainment has made a point of being forthright with the press ... as forthright as one can be when you have as many trade secrets in your head as Kevin Reilly does.

Unfortunately, he is also an employee of GE, which means they make him read off a teleprompter positioned at the back of the room. (Halfway through his remarks, I just turned around and read that. He improvises well.)

It's a way of saying he's starchier than he needs to be. That said, I thought he answered my question about Jay Leno about as well as one could answer a question where extremely sensitive contract negotiations are going on. (In case you weren't noticing, or caring, Leno's not talking to the press.) I asked about possible seller's remorse in signing that deal that will have him leaving "Tonight" in 2009 and whether NBC is talking to him.

Short answer: Yes, and we're doing it because after the news got out all of Jay's friends began asking if he was retiring, would there be a next act, where would it be, etc.

Oh, and nobody else can talk to Jay for a couple more years. That's in reaction to Bill Carter's report in his book that ABC was interested in giving Jay the "Nightline" time slot. Maybe they're interested, but that's all they get to be for a while.

http://blogs.kansascity.com/tvbarn/2...tory_post.html
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post #13689 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 12:42 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
Death March With Cocktails

Studio 60 Live Blog
By Tim Goodman San Francisco Chronicle in his TV blog The Bastard Machine

Aaron Sorkin has already delivered a great line about how his show, a backstage look at a show very similar to "Saturday Night Live," compares to the Tina Fey (of "SNL") series "30 Rock," which attempts the same in 30 less minutes.

"I'm going to take Tina's idea and add twice as many words to it."

Sorkin on the influence TV has on society: "I think it's bad crack in the school yard." Pause. "Why did I use that line?" And the room erupted. You may recall that Sorkin had some drug woes in the past.

So not only does it seem the man is back and sharp but he's also got a good sense of humor about himself.

The cast hasn't taken on single question yet. Because we're almost always more interested in the producers and writers than actors.

Whoops, there goes Timothy Busfield. And now Matthew Perry who says, "I think it's more like bad Vicodin in the school yard." And the crowd roars because, well, Perry has had his own woes and just took one for Sorkin. And now Bradley Whitford. You know, this is a pretty solid cast.

I understand that the Perry thing needed a bit of a set-up, but things fly pretty fast in these sessions so forget it. Just know it was funny. And by the way, the cast here today is Steven Weber, Nathan Corddry, Sarah Paulson, Amanda Peet and D.L. Hughley.

Sorkin says he's changed the way he's writing this show as compared to "The West Wing" - which should please NBC since his inability to delegate and need to write every word was one of the main reasons he was removed from "The West Wing," since the delays in the writing ended up costing lots and lots of money.

There have been stories about an alleged "backlash" against "Studio 60" but none of it makes much sense in the real world. The gist is that as one of the most talked about new series - probably because Sorkin was returning to network television - "Studio 60" had a high profile ripe for speculation. So? Exactly. But an early script did pop up on the internet as did, allegedly, some clips, and people in the blogosphere - known as non-pro in Variety speak - started to log in. But look, I've seen this pilot already some time ago and it was exactly what you'd expect from Sorkin. Smart, fast-paced, a bit inside baseball and of the highest quality. The acting performances are solid and the writing is great. What's not to like?

That doesn't mean it will work, of course. But much of the alleged "backlash" and a "backlash to the backlash" is Hollywood generated, a town that fixates on itself out of habit. And it can't be trusted. No matter what anyone says, the audience is always - always - the deciding factor on a series, not hype.

Great quote: "There's nothing you can do to make it easy that also won't make it bad." Sorkin on the difficult, grueling nature of making a TV series every week. As Whitford says, it's the equivalent of making 11 feature films in 9 months.

This much is clear just listening to Sorkin talk about his craft - he's great to have here. He's smart, knows the industry and is candid. Maybe too candid.

"I will give everyone in this room $100 if I can just get that quote out of the papers tomorrow," Sorkin said of the "crack" line. He then said, with honesty, that after all the preparation he did for this session, the fact that he said it almost immediately, "is just unbelievable."

By the way, this won't translate at all, but the session is great because all the actors are being both flippant and interesting and funny, and each one is trying to one up the other while also being self deprecating. It's kind of like the series itself.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/...dexn?blogid=24
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post #13690 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 12:43 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
Somebody's watching -- on NBC

From Maureen Ryan's Chicago Tribune blog The Watcher July 21, 2006

Nobody's Watching, the summer Internet sensation, is coming to NBC prime time.

At a summer convention of television critics in Pasadena, Calif., NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly announced that Nobody's Watching, a rejected WB comedy pilot that became a YouTube.com phenomenon and was viewed more than 600,000 times, will become an experimental NBC hybrid program.

The network plans to air the show in prime time at some point this season, but Reilly noted that the show's creator, Scrubs executive producer Bill Lawrence, is already shooting footage for brand-new Nobody's Watching Webisodes, which will debut in September.

As the NBC press release notes, the concept of Nobody's Watching' centers on Derek and Will, two young television addicts from Ohio who are frustrated with the dreadful state of television programming. As a result, they decide to become the subjects of a reality show when a major network gives them the opportunity to create their own sitcom. Unaware that the network executives are manipulating and recording their every word and move, the two continue their crusade to develop what they hope will be great television.

I have always been passionate about this project, but more importantly, I think this is just the first of many television shows to be rescued by the Internet and I think we will see more launched on the Internet in the future, Lawrence said in a statement.

Reilly also announced that Andre Braugher will join ER for a six-episode arc, and John Stamos, who's had a recurring role as a paramedic, will join the cast of ER. John Mahoney, Sally Field and Paula Malcolmson from "Deadwood" will also guest on the long-running medical drama this season.

Here are some of the premiere dates that NBC announced Friday: Deal or No Deal will kick off with four episodes in a week starting Sept. 18; Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, the highly anticipated Aaron Sorkin program debuts the same night; Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Law & Order: SVU return Sept. 19,; and The Office, My Name Is Earl and ER return Sept. 21. Many of NBC's new shows don't debut until October, including Friday Night Lights (Oct. 3), Twenty Good Years (Oct. 4) and 30 Rock, another Saturday Night Live satire a la Sorkin's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, appears Oct. 11.

Reilly also announced that Last Comic Standing and America's Got Talent will be returning for new seasons, and Madonna will have a two-hour concert special on NBC in November.

One final NBC note: The network will re-air episodes of the charming USA Network detective show "Psych" on Aug. 7 and 14.

http://tempo.typepad.com/entertainment_tv/
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post #13691 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 12:52 PM
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BSG [Battlestar Galactica] is slated for HD-DVD and depending on actual dates and seasons released I may have to crank up the will power and forego watching SciFi Channel.

LOL! Yeah, good luck with that.
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post #13692 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 01:24 PM - Thread Starter
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A(nother) Reminder
TV Critics Summer Tour

The nation's TV critics summer tour rolls on in Pasadena CA this weekend. (Won't it ever end?)

More NBC stars will joust with the critics Saturday.

The Hot Off The Press thread will continue to have up-to-the-minute highlights of the TCA Tour throughout the weekend. So make sure to log on and check out the latest development a few times Saturday and Sunday.
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post #13693 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 01:31 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
Line of the tour

By Alan Sepinwall of the Newark Star-Ledger in the All TV In Hollywood blog

This is why they pay Matthew Perry the big bucks: because, during the session for NBC's much-anticipated "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," he got by far the biggest laugh of the press tour -- and at the expense of boss Aaron Sorkin.

Earlier in the session, Sorkin made a passing reference to superstition and used the phrase "it's like bad crack in the schoolyard," then quickly stopped himself and said, "Why did I use that word?" (In case you're an emigre from Venus, Sorkin has had a very public drug problem.)

A few minutes later, I asked Perry and co-star Bradley Whitford how it felt to be playing characters so closely modeled on Sorkin and producer/director Tommy Schlamme.

Sayeth Perry, who's had his own public drug issue, "It's mostly like bad Vicodin in the schoolyard."

Going for the trifecta

NBC's session with Brian Williams was a little too short and sober to inject the whole "what are you wearing?" issue into it, but in the interests of fairness, I gave him his crack at it in the Scrum afterwards. Like Charlie Gibson, he had already been briefed, and before I even got a couple of words out, he said, "A simple black cocktail dress. And that's my answer."

NBC's 'Watching'

In one of the cooler announcements of press tour, NBC has resurrected "Nobody's Watching," a comedy pilot that the WB didn't pick up a couple of years ago. The show, about two young TV fans hired to produce TV's next great sitcom while starring in a reality show about the process, was created by Bill Lawrence and a couple of his "Scrubs" writers, but was passed over by the WB in favor of the awful "Twins." With most busted pilots, that would be it. But then came YouTube.
Someone -- and everyone in both the Lawrence and NBC camps are denying it was them (NBC president Kevin Reilly even joked, "For once, our hands are totally clean") -- took the pilot and posted it in three segments to the popular viral video site.

Within a couple of months, nearly 400,000 people have watched at least the first of the three segments (though parts 2 & 3 retained about half that audience), TV critics like me were interviewing Lawrence about the chance that the new exposure could bring "Watching" back to life, and cable and network development executives were calling to see if they could buy it.

Since the pilot was produced by NBC/Universal, and since "Watching" star Paul Campbell had a holding deal with NBC, that network seemed to have the inside track. And this morning, Reilly was almost beaming as he announced that they had commissioned Lawrence, Garret Donovan and Neil Goldman to write six new scripts and begin producing a number of webisodes to keep the YouTube interest going. If the show goes to series, the plan would be to have the TV show and the web content feed off each other.

Lawrence, Campbell and co-star Tarran Killam will be here tomorrow, no doubt deservedly pleased with themselves.

http://www.nj.com/weblogs/tv/index.s...07.html#163760
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post #13694 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 01:40 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
An Early Critique of What the Forthcoming Primetime Season Hath Wrought

By Ray Richmond The Hollywood Reporter in his blog Past Deadline July 21, 2006

A friend of mine who has access to all of the new network fall season pilots -- and whose opinion I greatly respect -- checked in with the following assessment of 18 of them. Interesting stuff. Food for thought, even.

30 Rock is good. Alec Baldwin is the reason to watch. Tina Fey holds her own and they're giving Tracy Morgan some funny stuff to do. However, the better show is...

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip Great writing. Great cast. Not sure if anyone will care about either. But this is one that I will TiVo.

20 Good Years Doesn't even have 20 good minutes. There aren't 20 laughs. It won't run for 20 episodes. This is serious old school bad shitcom time. What a waste of John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor. Both deserve better.

Ugly Betty In short, no thanks. Two-dimensional characters in a world that I couldn't care less about.

Notes from the Underbelly Fairly well done. Nice writing, good cast. Jennifer Westfeldt is used well here. However the pilot holds little promise for a series to me. I doubt it will catch on.

The Knights of Prosperity Is one of the funniest pilots of the year. Donal Logue is great and I laughed out loud more than a few times. I don't know how they are going to sustain this, but I said the same of My Name is Earl and I'm still watching it. I will TiVo.

Help Me Help You Thoroughly unpleasant. I liked Ted Danson better on Becker, which I didn't care for at all.

Six Degrees This one intrigues me. Serendipity as a series feels like it could get old very quickly. It runs the risk of being precious yet I was really engaged by this pilot. Great cast and really well produced. I will watch a couple more when it launches.

The Class This is a show that will make it through a season or two before I decide whether I will watch it. It has no depth or originality but is well crafted nonetheless. I won't TiVo but if I catch myself watching it by accident, I won't flip away immediately.

Till Death There's a title that's just asking for it... and I think they'll get it. Brad Garrett's post-Raymond shitcom is just awful. Too bad, because I think he and Joely Fisher could be very funny together. It will appeal to an older audience than Fox wants and not a very discerning one.

Happy Hour Isn't as good as Till Death. A real contender for the worst comedy of the year. This and Help Me Help You will be fast cancellations, mark my words.

Men In Trees Sex & The City scribe Jenny Bicks creates a show about a relationship writer who discovers that she's got a lot to learn about relationships. Hmm, sounds a little like Carrie Bradshaw. But wait... it takes the urbanite character and drops her in the middle of a small Alaskan town. Hmm, that's a little like Northern Exposure. Take those elements and add in Anne Heche as your lead and you know what you've got? A show I won't be watching!

Big Day One wedding will play out over an entire season? After watching the unfunny pilot and all the forced Father of the Bride antics, I predict a quick annulment. It is noteworthy that ABC has abandoned its onetime bread-and-butter traditional multi-camera sitcoms hoping to bring audiences back to the half-hour comedy with these single-camera shows. An interesting strategy on the heels of Emily's Reasons Why Not and Jake in Progress, doncha think?

Heroes Humanity is progressing into the next stage of evolution as people all over the world are beginning to develop various super powers. It sounds a lot cooler than it is.

Jericho A post-apocalyptic vision of a small Colorado town starring Simon and Simon/Major Dad vet Gerald McRaney. It sounds a lot cooler than it is. And it doesn't even sound all that cool. Yeesh.

Shark James Woods as a high-priced defense lawyer who has a crisis of conscience and joins the DA's office. Next to the skilled legal writing that we've come to expect from David E. Kelly and the Law & Order shows, this simplistic offering didn't impress me at all. But it does have James Woods in the lead, so if they can get some better writing, it may be worth another look.

Smith Ray Liotta in a somewhat interesting heist drama. It's grittier and more progressive than most fare on the usually bland CBS. However so was EZ Streets. I didn't love it, but it felt like an admirable swing. I doubt I'll watch it. I doubt anyone else will either.

Justice What's the deal with these new legal dramas? Like CBS's Shark, this offering from Jerry Bruckheimer for Fox is a pedestrian attempt to profile a high-priced, high-achieving, high tech legal defense team. However they don't even have James Woods to prop them up. If I'm any judge, I find Justice guilty of the crimes of being dull and unoriginal.

http://www.pastdeadline.com/
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post #13695 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 01:46 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
Revenge of the bloggers, starring Brian Williams

By Bill Goodykoontz Arizona Republic TV Critic in his Critic's Tour blog 07/21/2006 11:56:51

PASADENA, Calif. -- Nice little moment: Bloggers are blogging Brian Williams' NBC News session as Williams talks about his blog.

Love those hall-of-mirrors moments. Of course, we're blogging from a ballroom. He was talking about blogging on his Blackberry while reporting from Jeruselam.

Whatever the case, this is the TV Tour when the bloggers took over. Or, at least, made their presence felt. It's a good thing, I think, and not just because I've been doing it for what, in Internet terms, qualifies as a long time now. The TV Tour is an odd news event. Genuine news pops up here and is of course reported as such in the next day's paper. Other things qualify as interesting, but since they relate to shows that viewers won't see till September at the earliest, it's difficult to figure out how important they are in the moment.

Blogs answer that question. If you care a lot about the inner workings of TV, we're here for you, writing up what qualifies as breaking news in this crowd in what we hope is an entertaining, informative way. If you can wait till September to find out how much NBC executives care about the shots Aaron Sorkin takes at the network in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, then that works, too.

If you have any doubt that blogging is not just the wave of the future but the medium of the moment, you should sit through sessions here and see the warm glow of the computer screens that light up the room. It's not a coming thing. It's here. It's been here. It's just more prominent now.

Williams is on board. He's been blogging for a while now.

"It's like having a daily deadline working at a local paper," he said. Hey, welcome to our world. "This was not a deadline I was looking to add to my day."

Life's tough all over; the multi-million dollar annual contract probably takes a little sting out of the work load. Still, it's good that he does it.

"I put it out there," he said, using it to sort of shine a light on how he makes decisions about his broadcast. "I also use it as a forum to say we screwed up last night and here's how, or to take responsibility for a bad decision."

A network star taking responsibility for mistakes? If you want evidence that it's a brave new world, there you have it.

http://www.azcentral.com/blogs/index...=Entertainment
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post #13696 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 01:58 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
NBC's Reilly: Network's Ills To End

By Jim Benson Broadcasting & Cable 7/21/2006

Comparing his network's travails to sweating like pigs trying to get out of a stiff headwind, NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly proclaimed Friday that NBC's ill-fated three-hour tour is about to come to an end.

While steering clear of ratings predictions and brushing off most questions about the past, except for the tricky transition to his regime that he refers to as ancient history, Reilly told a Television Critics Assn. panel that NBC will not finish next season mired in fourth.

I think our fall is going to look pretty potent, he says, adding later, I don't feel we have all our eggs in that basket. We have six viable (new) shows that all could break out.

But Reilly acknowledges that NBC could opt to bring back Deal or No Deal for a third appearance each week if a new show fails, saying it would be used on a stunt basis two to three times per week.

We showed a tremendous amount of restraint as networks go by not putting this on over the summer, he says, noting that if NBC had, Fox's So You Think You Can Dance would have been in a far off second place.

Having been criticized for running the game show perhaps too frequently in the spring, Reilly says he makes no apologies given the amount of hours American Idol occupies on Fox.

The network's focus now is on creating series with long-term potential rather than one-off TV movies. Reilly says NBC will reevaluate whether it will remain in the business next spring. For now, it has only one movie currently on tap for this coming season and a couple miniseries and movies in development for spring.

NBC recently entered into a development pact with director Spike Lee, who Reilly says has two drama ideasone an ensemble set in New Orleans.

Under questioning on other subjects, Reilly says NBC didn't take personally Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip creator Aaron Sorkin's pointed potshots in the pilot about Donald Trump and eating wormsa sordid referenced to Fear Factor. Sorkin, Reilly notes, has earned having a tremendous amount of creative freedom.

Turning to the summer, Reilly made no apologies for Windfall, the drama that started off strong and then slipped into a respectable place. He says the network is looking at airing another drama next summer.

Reilly says he wouldn't be surprised if the networks, which have traditionally stuck with light fare in the summer, go to more heavy programming in the warm months, comparable to what the cable networks have.

In late night, Reilly says NBC wants to remain in business with Tonight show host Jay Leno after he turns over the reins to Conan O'Brien in 2009. NBC has first contractual rights to him over the next few years.

NBC has been heavily into putting its shows on iPods and other digital platforms to battle audience fragmentation, but Reilly says he still thinks it is relevant for networks to program their schedules with audience flow from one hour to the next in mind.

Reilly expresses doubts that viewers will program their lives. They still want to see what is on. Yet he says NBC is not in denial about fragmentation and is looking at new initiatives in raising the way people relate to its individual shows.

Shifting from new to old programming, Reilly acknowledged that Saturday Night Live had a weak ratings season but that there will be a tightening of the cast next season, making it a new show for a new generation.

Among the announcements:

NBC has picked up new cycles of the popular new reality series America's Got Talent, which will return midseason at 8 p .m. Sundays after football ends, and Last Comic Standing, which will come back next June. Reilly says he expects it to become an event for years to come.

Madonna will perform in concert for NBC in November. The appearance, from her Confessions tour, will be filmed and edited to make it appropriate for TV, according to Reilly.

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the creators of the BBC's The Office, will write a script for NBC's American version.

John Stamos will join the cast of ER.

Nissan will be the single sponsor for the premiere of Heroes.

http://www.broadcastingcable.com/ind...leID=CA6355431
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post #13697 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 02:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Sports On TV
A Correction

A few days ago I posted a TV Week story saying that all ESPN Thursday night NCAA football games would be broadcast in HD this year - and letter boxed in SD.

Now ESPN says the games won't be letter boxed after all. The all-sports network cites technical difficulties.

So.never mind.
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post #13698 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 02:21 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
All politics is local

By Joanna Weiss The Boston Globe TV Writer in the Globe's Viewer Discretion blog July 21, 2006

I'm here for a brief visit to the Television Critics Association Press Tour, a biannual Hollywood tradition, and even as a jetlagged neophyte, I'm finding clarity.

I wondered, going into this, how much a TV industry confab was going to look like a political event, which I know a little more about.

It turns out that, yes, there are some similarities between today's marathon NBC presentation and, say, a presidential debate in New Hampshire.

Both involve a bunch of jaded reporters lined up at tables with their laptops, herded around by some twenty-something intern types, trying to turn spin into a story.

Among the differences: I think, for better or worse, more people care about TV.

Here's a partial breakdown of what else I've found. I'll update as necessary.

Youthfulness: Same
NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly takes the stage and looks to be about 16. He's got the easy confidence of the student government president, and the hair gel to match. The eternally youthful rule the world. If you've ever seen a 40-something Republican aide with tortoise-shell glasses, you know what I mean.

Showmanship: Different
The thing about those Republican campaign aides - and the Democratic ones, too - is that they don't have a lot of money to work with. This is not the case for NBC. So the network has built a giant stage lit from above and below. Reilly makes a grand entrance from behind a giant silver peacock. The only thing missing is the smoke machine.

Attempts at comedy: Same
Your average political stump speech starts with a joke that charms the crowd and makes the press corps reach for antacid, particularly after they've heard it for the 43rd time. Here, at least you only have to hear the joke once. Reilly starts off his presentation with a little stand-up bit, something along the lines of I just flew back from two weeks sailing in Mexico and boy are my arms tired. It's supposed to be a metaphor for NBC's awful performance in recent seasons -- sailing into headwinds, etc., etc. - but the reporters are rolling their eyes.

Kindness of press corps: Different
To some extent, reporters are all watchdogs, but political reporters get especially righteous about their tried-and-true adversarial relationship with the power structure - particularly after they've heard the same platitude in the same stump speech for said 43rd time. Here, there are a few hardball questions to be had, but there are softballs that would get a self-respecting reporter laughed straight out of the Granite State. My favorite from this morning: Is this development season really good, and if so why? That's like asking John Kerry, Can you tell us about your military background and why it will make you a great president? Reilly looks really pleased.

http://www.boston.com/ae/tv/blog/
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post #13699 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 02:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Note: Andre Braugher fans (and you know who you are) check the final paragraph.

TV Critics Summer Press Tour
NBC's State of the Network Address

By Kevin D. Thompson Palm Beach Post Television Writer in his blog July 21, 2006

When network presidents address TV critics at press tour, it's a lot like the State of the Union address. Only there's no rousing applause.

Today is NBC's turn to put on its big happy face as it promotes its new fall shows. No network needs a big season more than NBC. Finishing fourth last season, the network is far from its glory days when Thursday night was must-see and such comedies as Frasier, Seinfeld and Cheers made NBC the No. 1 network.

Using a sailing analogy, Kevin Reilly, president of NBC Entertainment, this morning admitted the network has been sweating like pigs trying to get out of the stiff headwind. But he believes NBC's ill-fated tour is about to come to an end.

I must say, Reilly could be right.

NBC has one of the season's most promising new schedules. In Aaron Sorkin's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, NBC has one of the most buzzed-about shows. The pilot, by the way, is excellent.

And so is Heroes, a new X-Men-like drama about a group of ordinary people who discover they have superpowers. Alec Baldwin is a hoot as a network exec in 30 Rock, a comedy about the behind-the-scenes doings at a Saturday Night Live-like sketch show created by SNL's Tina Fey. Meanwhile, John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor make a fine odd couple in the comedy Twenty Good Years and Kidnapped, a new whodunit drama about, well, a high profile kidnapping starring Dana Delaney and Delroy Lindo, looks interesting.

While Reilly said he didn't want to make any hard predictions about the upcoming season, he did promise that NBC will not be mired in fourth week after week.

And he did promise that The Apprentice, whose ratings have cooled recently, will come back with some juice when the show moves to a new night (Sunday) and a new location (Los Angeles) in January.

As for some of NBC's additional programming moves, here's what Reilly mentioned.

Deal of No Deal returns: The hit game show will be back on Sept. 18 with a two-hour premiere and will air four nights that week. The show was unbelievably resilient during the spring, Reilly said.

Madonna in concert: The Material Girl's London concert will be taped and air in November. Since Madonna's concerts can be a bit raunchy, Reilly said the network would decide which numbers would make the final cut.

ER getting more guest-stars: Andre Braugher will join the cast for six episodes and Sally Field will be back as Abby's mom.

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/blogs/c...ss_tour_n.html
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post #13700 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 02:31 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
The Triumph of ''Nobody's Watching''!

By Rich Heldenfels in his Akron Beacon Journal TV blog

Score one for YouTube: NBC is going to make webisodes and develop new TV scripts for ''Nobody's Watching,'' the Bill Lawrence-backed comedy originally planned for The WB. The hope is to start it as a prime-time series later in the 2006-07 season.

As I mentioned in this blog (see the late-June post ''Hurry...'') and in the Beacon Journal, The WB did not pick up the series but the pilot ended up on YouTube, where it gained a lot of fans, with almost 400,000 views of the first part of the pilot as of this morning. Based on that buzz, Lawrence began talking to reporters, including me, and the show once again caught the networks' attention. Which is good news, because the pilot -- about two guys from Ohio given a chance to make their own TV comedy -- was hilarious.

The webisodes should start within a month, says NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly. The guys from the show are already out and about in Hollywood, Reilly said, and may pop up at all sorts of show-biz events in the days ahead.

http://blogs.ohio.com/beacon_tv/
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post #13701 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 02:43 PM - Thread Starter
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The Business of TV
Murdoch Fuels DirecTV-Dish Rumor

By Linda Moss Multichannel.com 7/21/2006

It would be a very painful process for DirecTV to negotiate a deal to acquire rival EchoStar Communications, according to News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch.

Murdoch, whose company owns 38% of DirecTV, helped to add fuel to the rumors of a DirecTV-EchoStar merger when he was asked about a possible deal Thursday during an appearance on PBS' The Charlie Rose Show.

Well, we'd have to get through the negotiating stage [with EchoStar], which would be very painful, Murdoch said, joking that it would be painful maybe for both him and EchoStar chairman Charlie Ergen, whom he described as a good friend.

This week, EchoStar's stock hit 52-week highs -- including one during Friday-morning trading, when it was at $33.53 per share -- following a Los Angeles Times story that said the buzz at Allen & Co.'s media conference was that Murdoch was working on a deal to buy EchoStar to combine it with DirecTV.

Ergen tried to buy DirecTV several years ago, but in 2002, the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice effectively put the kibosh on that deal. Shortly thereafter, News Corp. acquired its stake in DirecTV. But Murdoch said he thinks the regulatory environment for such a merger has changed since 2002.

I think today it is different -- the broadband coming, the revolution, there are many more alternatives, ways of getting pictures and information, that I think it would be much harder for the government to turn it down today, Murdoch said. But as I say, we'd have to get through a negotiation with Charlie. Then there would be the question of who would run it.

Murdoch also reiterated comments he's made previously -- that DirecTV is negotiating with potential partners about delivering a wireless-broadband product.

The technology doesn't seem to be a problem -- it's getting the frequencies, he said.

http://www.multichannel.com/index.as...leid=CA6355428
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post #13702 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 02:54 PM
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LOL! Yeah, good luck with that.

Really, who am I kidding, like I'm really going to wait.
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post #13703 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 02:56 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
NBC's Reilly predicts smoother sailing for net

By Andrew Wallenstein The Hollywood Reporter

PASADENA -- The S.S. NBC is charting course for calmer waters.

Comparing his network to a sailboat, NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly predicted at the peacock's opening session Friday at the Television Critics Assn. press tour that the tide will turn this fall after floating adrift in the ratings in previous seasons. "We've been sweating like pigs trying to get out of a stiff headwind," Reilly said. "But I gotta tell you: I feel a shift in the winds coming and I think our ill-fated three-hour tour is about to come to an end."


Captain Reilly announced he has invited back some of his summer shipmates as well, disclosing orders of new cycles of unscripted series "America's Got Talent" and "Last Comic Standing." As was previously announced, "Talent" will return in January while "Comic" will come back next June.

NBC is also making good in its pledge for year-round development, reviving discarded comedy project "Nobody's Watching" after the pilot mysteriously popped up on viral-video website YouTube and began generating buzz. "Watching" is from "Scrubs" creator Bill Lawrence and NBC Universal Television Studio.

In an unusual departure from standard operating procedure, "Watching" will resume production immediately in the form of webisodes, but will also yield half-hour scripts in anticipation of getting a primetime slot later this season.

"It's great to have someone of Bill's caliber jumping into it," Reilly said. "Win, lose or draw, these are the kind of things we've got to try."

NBC is welcoming back one of its former stars to "ER," with "Homicide: Life on the Street" star Andre Braugher signing on for a six-episode arc.

In addition, NBC has signed pop star Madonna to a primetime concert showcase in November, "Madonna: The Confessions Tour Live."

Reilly outlined his basic fall strategy as the expected influx of viewers that will come with the addition of the NFL on Sunday nights circulating around a stronger schedule he touted for having no single weak link among the new series. In addition, the network should field a stronger midseason lineup to contend with Fox's "American Idol" with more returning favorites including "Scrubs," "The Apprentice" and "Medium."

"Our ratings will definitely be better," Reilly said. "We will not be mired in fourth week after week. We will be a challenger in many time periods."

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr..._id=1002877632
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post #13704 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 03:01 PM
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The Business of TV
Murdoch Fuels DirecTV-Dish Rumor

By Linda Moss Multichannel.com 7/21/2006





Ergen tried to buy DirecTV several years ago, but in 2002, the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice effectively put the kibosh on that deal. Shortly thereafter, News Corp. acquired its stake in DirecTV. But Murdoch said he thinks the regulatory environment for such a merger has changed since 2002.

Just saw a site the other day that spelled out the supposedly real reasons Echostar failed in their bid for DirecTV. Basically it boiled down to Echostar not playing the Washington game right and throwing enough money around, more than any issues with the FCC and Justice. Basically they didn't get the right people and spend enough. I'll see if I can find it again, pretty interesting. It also talks about how DirecTV has the Washington game pretty much figured out.
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post #13705 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 03:04 PM - Thread Starter
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It was a pretty open secret that NewsCorp spent lots for lobbying to get the deal killed.

And then waltzed in and got control of DirecTV for a lot less than Charlie had agreed to pay.
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It was a pretty open secret that NewsCorp spent lots for lobbying to get the deal killed.

And then waltzed in and got control of DirecTV for a lot less than Charlie had agreed to pay.

Yes, it really didn't have anything to do with with objections from the FCC and Justice, it had everything to do with who you bought and how much you paid. A lesson in US Govt.
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post #13707 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 03:41 PM
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Yes, it really didn't have anything to do with with objections from the FCC and Justice, it had everything to do with who you bought and how much you paid. A lesson in US Govt.

I agree. I have worked in government at various levels for the past 5 years and getting to the "right" people will always win out over any valid arguments. Unless the constituents are coming down hard on the politican/city or county executive. Or it's reelection time. Fred was right about Newcorp knowing how to play the game b/c they had enough people on the ground doing what it took to get a deal done. In places where I have worked, you'll see 10 people from one firm at a session or council meeting before it starts. There's strength in numbers.

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post #13708 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 04:31 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Notebook
'Top Model' Writers Go on Strike

Dispute With CW Centers on Representation by Writers Guild
By Michele Greppi TVWeek.com July 21, 2006

The dozen writers who craft the reality in "America's Next Top Model" went on strike Friday because The CW, which plans to use "Model" to kick off its premiere season Sept 20, have denied the writers' request for representation by the Writers Guild of America West.

Among those joining the writers demonstrating outside the "Model" production offices on South Sepulveda Boulevard in Los Angeles were WGAW officers and board members and California Assemblyman Paul Koretz, according to guild spokesman Gabriel Scott.

Mr. Scott said "Model's" writers, like those on other reality shows, have signed cards authorizing the guild to represent them. "They want a contract that affords them the same provisions the Writers Guild members get," he said. The issues are lack of portable pension and health benefits, minimum pay standards, writing credits and residuals, Mr. Scott said.

A spokesman for The CW declined to comment. Production has not begun yet on the upcoming season of "Top Model."

Executive producer Ken Mok issued a statement Thursday afternoon, when the writers' walk-out seemed likely, saying:

"We have advised the WGA that we feel the process established under the National Labor Relations Act is the appropriate process to be followed if employees wish to be represented by a union. The process permits an impartial government agency, the National Labor Relations Board, to conduct a secret ballot election so that all affected employees have an individual right to express their preference as to whether or not they want to elect a union.

"However, for some reason, the WGA is seeking to circumvent the protections provided to employees by these procedures and is trying to pressure us into recognizing it without a federally supervised secret ballot election. We once again ask that the WGA follow the procedures provided by law. If, after doing so, the NLRB decides that the WGA is the exclusive representative of our employees, we would be happy to sit down and negotiate with them."

http://www.tvweek.com/news.cms?newsId=10407
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post #13709 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 04:43 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
Kevin Reilly plays master and commander as NBC resets its course

By Melanie McFarland Seattle Post-Intelligencer TV Critic in her TV blog July 21, 2006

NBC has a tradition of stiffly choreographed executive sessions. The head man in charge of programming - Kevin Reilly these days - walks back and forth onstage in an attempt to seem casual as he reads his lines off a large television screen behind us. We're walking, we're talking, we're walking ... and let's open it up for questions.

This fine art of pacing was perfected by Jeff Zucker, the former wunderkind who is now a good deal balder, richer and more nervous, having been named the head of NBC Universal Television Group.

Reilly, meanwhile, comes across as a nice guy who came over from FX to save this ship. You'll have to forgive us for the nautical metaphors to follow, because Reilly tried to relate to us as the morning began by likening NBC's fortunes to a recent vacation he spent sailing the azure seas in Mexico. (Could have been worse; in the past, Reilly has likened NBC's experiences to a colonic.)

"Ah, he really is one of the people!" I said to myself, nibbling on the breadcrusts NBC threw to the Press Tour pigeons for breakfast.

Anyhoo, Reilly talked a lot of hitting headwinds and navigating choppy waters, perhaps hoping we'd paint him as wily and wiry Capt. Jack Sparrow instead of "Master and Commander's" besieged and fat Russell Crowe. The reality puts Reilly and NBC somewhere in between the two.

NBC has been hating it in fourth place for a while now, which is what happens when you try to repair an old vessel with meringue and Popsicle sticks. It might sail at first, but with continued exposure you figure out that whatever doesn't dissolve right away quickly erodes as the year goes on. With the exception of "My Name is Earl" and "The Office," nothing that's been on NBC for the past two years seemed built to last. (And yes, I haven't forgotten "Deal or No Deal," which seems destined to burn out like ABC ruined "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire.")

Looking at its fall 2006-2007 slate, though, it as if the old girl's fixed herself up and gone nuts with the pilates. She's looking all right these days.

Speaking of which, in November it's bringing a two-hour special presentation from Madonna's "The Confessions Tour" to the network. Reilly dropped this on us by flashing a photo of Madge leaned back, polyester-wrapped basket shoved forward. Handy, because that reminded us to ask if the network would remove any FCC inappropriate footage from the broadcast, which will be previously recorded in London. He assured us that precautions will indeed be taken so as to prevent Boobmania II, but her numbers will not be shredded.

It's also worth noticing that Reilly acknowledged the idea of Must-See Thursdays is deader than "Surface," aka "that fish show," as someone referred to it. "My Name is Earl," "The Office," and "ER" will remain there, all premiering on Sept. 21, but they're no longer forces to be reckoned with. "Deal or No Deal" has been thrown into the 9 o'clock to get a piece of the "Grey's Anatomy"/"CSI" battle.

And that was the surest acknowledgment that NBC is no longer dominant. "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" was announced with trumpets and dancing virgins as Thursday night's anchor when the upfronts began. But it was moved back to Mondays at 10 after ABC slammed "Grey's" in the same slot. "Studio" premieres on Sept. 18, marking the debut of the Peacock's fall season.

"We moved it because it was a war zone," Reilly admitted, saying that in initially throwing it into the Thursday night right, "We gave it the coronation ... but you have to be practical.

Elsewhere in NBC's territory ...

In an extension of its YouTube.com partnership, NBC is putting development muscle behind "Nobody's Watching," Bill Lawrence's ("Scrubs") comedy that was supposed to premiere on The WB, which had to go off and die on him and creative partners Garrett Donovan and Neil Goldman. Instead, "Nobody's Watching" has found traction at the video clip-sharing Web site, downloaded more than 600,000 since it went up, so NBC is producing additional Webisodes. Smart of NBC to join YouTube instead of trying to beat it. Only about six or seven months ago, NBC clamped down on YouTube for circulating its "SNL" Digital Short "Lazy Sunday."

NBC is also being kind enough to give Netflix subscribers the opportunity to see the pilots of "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" and "Kidnapped" more than a month before they debut. Those will be available beginning August 5, and the deal ends Sept. 17, a day before "Studio's" premiere. That way Netflixers can get the word out early, and often, that these series might be a touch overrated.

http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/p...entryID=105214
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post #13710 of 25503 Old 07-21-2006, 04:46 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
''Law & Order'' Shakeups

By Rich Heldenfels in his Akron Beacon Journal TV blog July 21, 2006

''Law & Order'' impresario Dick Wolf is here today, which gave me a chance to clear up some cast departures that you folks have been asking about.

Annie Parisse (''L&O'') asked out because she was becoming frustrated over having to turn down movie roles. Wolf called her ''one of the role models of how to leave a show.'' Alana De La Garza (''CSI: Miami'') will be a new ADA on the show.

Jamey Sheridan (''Criminal Intent''), as I've reported before, wanted to spend more time in California, where his family is. Eric Bogosian will succeed him.

Courtney B. Vance (''Criminal Intent'') was at the end of his contract and the writers felt they had done all they could with his character. Nona Gaye -- actress and daughter of Marvin Gaye -- is coming in as a new ADA.

Annabella Sciorra (''CI'') left by mutual agreement with the show, Wolf said, without elaboration. Julianne Nicholson (from Wolf's ''Conviction'') will play the new partner for Chris Noth.

As for speculation that Sam Waterston is leaving the original ''L&O,'' Wolf called it ''totally, totally fallacious. ... Sam is back for all 22 episodes this year.''

And, in case you missed it, Connie Nielsen will fill in for Mariska Hargita

http://blogs.ohio.com/beacon_tv/
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