Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Jun. 2, 2014
A HARD DAY'S NIGHT
TCM, 8:00 p.m.
It’s an easy day’s night for me, reviewing-wise, when this 1964 classic movie musical is one of the day’s TV offerings. A Hard Day’s Night is a brilliant, bouncy, bravely innovative movie, directed by Richard Lester in a way that captures all the freshness, excitement and insanity of Beatlemania. In the U.S., the soundtrack album was padded with lots of incidental music in place of some of the Beatles’ music from the film – but the British pressings, and the eventual CD releases, featured wall-to-wall Beatles classics. This movie, released 50 years ago next month, is rarely shown on TV, but watch it – five decades later, it still crackles with raw energy, and the freshness of the Beatles’ music and personalities.
24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY
Fox, 9:00 p.m. ET
In tonight’s episode, Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) and Kate (Yvonne Strahovski) finally work together, rather than at odds, in hopes of following a trail to the terrorists who are controlling the overridden drones. But Jack’s idea of “working together” is a little extreme: first thing he does is turn Kate over to the enemy.
Starz!, 9:00 p.m. ET
Tom Hanks stars in the title role in this intense, fact-based thriller, about a U.S. cargo ship captain whose vessel, in 2009, was overtaken by pirates from Somalia. And while Hanks is really good, the extra voltage in this 2013 movie is provided by Barkhad Abdi, the Somalian native whose performance is both riveting and unforgettable.
GO GO MANIA
TCM, 9:45 p.m. ET
Here’s a real rarity, as part of TCM’s celebration tonight of the “Swingin’ Sixties.” It’s a 1965 compilation of what might be viewed as pre-MTV music videos from Britain: a collection of studio performances, lip-synched to original recordings and filmed in color, by such just-breaking groups as The Animals (“House of the Rising Sun”), Herman’s Hermits (“I’m Into Something Good”), and Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas (“Little Children”). There are go-go dancers, too (hence the film’s title), as well as a pair of film clips – of live concert performances – by The Beatles, who sing “She Loves You” and “Twist and Shout.” It’s the footage that was seen, but not heard, when Jack Paar presented footage of The Beatles just before rival Ed Sullivan featured them live on The Ed Sullivan Show.
FX, 10:00 p.m. ET
This season, I’ve been absolutely amazed by the high level of acting presented on, and demanded by, this series. Louis C.K. is as daring and honest an actor as he is a comic, and I mean that as high praise indeed. And he’s written scenes this year for his TV daughters, and for recurring guest star Ellen Burstyn as a neighbor, that are intense two-handers requiring, and getting, perfectly pitched performances from Louie and his co-stars.
'The Sopranos' Coming to Blu-ray for First Time
By Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Live Feed' Blog - Jun. 2, 2014
EXCLUSIVE: HBO's The Sopranos, regarded as one of the best TV series of all time, is coming to Blu-ray for the first time.
All six seasons of the James Gandolfini drama will be released in a collectible boxed set on Nov. 4 for a suggested retail price of $279.98. All 86 episodes of the Emmy, Golden Globe and Peabody Award-winning series will come on 28 Blu-ray discs in an elegant box featuring artwork from the series.
Included in the set is a free digital HD copy of every episode and more than five hours of bonus material including lost scenes, two roundtable dinners with the cast and crew, 25 audio commentaries as well as a new and exclusive featurette exploring how The Sopranos was created and ultimately transformed the TV landscape.
"Defining a Television Landmark" runs 45 minutes and features all-new interviews with the cast, crew, celebrities, filmmakers and academics as well as series creator David Chase, Gandolifini, director Steven Soderbergh, Jeff Daniels and Steve Buscemi. (Check out an exclusive clip from "Defining a Television Landmark," above, in which Chase, Terence Winter and Buscemi discuss seminal season three episode "Pine Barrens.") [CLICK LINK BELOW]
Get a first look at the boxed set, below.
Fox and ABC lead super-slow summer Sunday
Networks post 1.0 in 18-49s as 'Cosmos' and 'Bachelorette' top night
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - Jun. 2, 2014
You know it’s summer time when it only takes a 1.0 adults 18-49 rating to win the night on broadcast.
Fox and ABC tied for first place on Sunday night, lifted by a repeat of “Family Guy,” “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” and a special episode of “The Bachelorette,” which all tied for No. 1 on broadcast in primetime.
All three programs averaged a 1.3 18-49 rating, according to Nielsen.
“Cosmos” was up 18 percent from last week’s 1.1.
Though “Bachelorette” was off from its most recent regularly scheduled episode on Monday, the show posted ABC’s best summer rating in the 8 to 10 p.m. timeslot for non-sports programming since September 2012, when ABC aired the Emmys.
Elsewhere Sunday night, NBC’s dramas “Believe” and “Crisis” both grew, up 29 percent (to a 0.9) and 14 percent (to a 0.8) in the 9 and 10 p.m. timeslots, respectively.
The growth was probably in part thanks to a stronger lead-in from 7 to 9 p.m., where NBC aired a repeat of “America’s Got Talent,” which posted a 0.9, an 11-week high in the slot.
“Believe” and “Crisis” have already been canceled and are just finishing out their season orders.
ABC and Fox tied for first for the night among 18-49s, each with a 1.0 average overnight rating and a 3 share. NBC was third at 0.9/3, CBS and Univision tied for fourth at 0.6/2 and Telemundo was sixth at 0.5/2.
As a reminder, all ratings are based on live-plus-same-day DVR playback, which includes shows replayed before 3 a.m. the night before. Seven-day DVR data won’t be available for several weeks. Forty-nine percent of Nielsen households have DVRs.
At 7 p.m. ABC was first with a 1.0 for “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” followed by CBS with a 0.9 for “60 Minutes.” NBC was third with a 0.7 for a repeat of “America’s Got Talent.” Fox and Univision tied for fourth at 0.5, Fox for reruns of “Bob’s Burgers” and “American Dad” and Univision for “Aqui Y Ahora,” and Telemundo was sixth with a 0.3 for the end of the movie “Home Alone 4.”
ABC was first again at 8 p.m. with a 1.3 for “Bachelorette,” while Fox moved to second with a 1.2 for reruns of “The Simpsons” and “Guy.” NBC was third with a 1.0 for more “Talent.” Univision and Telemundo tied for fourth at 0.6, Univision for “Bailando por un Sueño” and Telemundo for “La Voz Kids,” and CBS was sixth with a 0.5 for a repeat of “Elementary.”
At 9 p.m. ABC and Fox tied for first at 1.3, ABC for more “Bachelorette” and Fox for “Cosmos.” NBC was third with a 0.9 for “Believe,” Univision and Telemundo tied for fourth at 0.7, Univision for more “Bailando” and Telemundo for more “La Voz,” and CBS was sixth with a 0.5 for a rerun of “The Good Wife.”
NBC and Univision tied for first at 10 p.m., each with a 0.8 rating, NBC for “Crisis” and Univision for “Sal y Pimienta.” CBS was third with a 0.6 for a repeat of “The Mentalist,” and ABC and Telemundo tied for fourth at 0.4, ABC for a repeat of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and Telemundo for “Suelta la Sopa Extra.”
CBS led the night among households with a 3.5 average overnight rating and a 6 share. ABC was second at 2.7/5, NBC third at 2.5/4, Fox fourth at 1.4/3, Univision fifth at 1.1/2 and Telemundo sixth at 0.7/1.
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ABC’s summer play: Hitting the notes
Network has a lot riding on singing competition 'Rising Star'
This summer ABC is hoping to launch a new signature show that could boost ratings for years to come now that its longtime top summer hit, “Wipeout,” has become a washout.
The network is making a big push behind “Rising Star,” a reality singing competition airing Sunday nights starting June 22.
ABC hasn’t launched a notable summer hit in years. It wants a program that generates similar buzz to CBS’s “Under the Dome” or NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” broad hits that draw in a range of demographics.
While ABC has a handful of solid summer shows, it lacks a show that can draw above a 2.0 adults 18-49 rating, and the network sees “Star” as a potential breakout in that vein.
Like “The Voice” did years ago, “Star” puts a new twist on the very old idea of a singing competition.
The program relies on real-time voting by viewers to determine which singers move into the next round. There’s no waiting around until the next week for the results.
Last summer’s only new hit was the scripted series “Dome,” and the top-rated summer reality shows have all been on for years, like “Talent,” “Big Brother,” “So You Think You Can Dance” and ABC’s own “The Bachelorette.”
Here’s a closer look at ABC’s summer lineup.
Top returning show
“Bachelorette” remains solid, though ratings are down from their peak a few years ago. It’s a great fit with lead-out “Mistresses,” giving ABC a strong Monday night among women 18-49.
New show most likely to succeed
“Star” has the most promise, and ABC has given it a strong promotional push, including featuring the show’s celebrity judges, Brad Paisley, Josh Groban, Kesha and Ludacris, on the recent Billboard Music Awards.
New show most likely to fail
“Sing Your Face Off” airs on Saturday night, where broadcast rarely bothers to program. It did okay in its debut but only relative to the other low-rated Saturday competition. If ABC had really believed in the show, it would have aired it on a weeknight.
Smartest programming move
Switching repeats of Tuesday’s “The Goldbergs” to Wednesday night behind “The Middle,” the timeslot “Goldbergs” will occupy this fall. It’s always a good idea to get viewers used to big changes like that as early as possible.
Reality show ready to be retired
“Wipeout,” now in its seventh season, was ABC’s top summer show for years, but there’s simply not enough variables in the obstacle course competition to keep viewers interested in the long term. This could be the program’s last season.
Wild card factor
ABC airs the NBA finals, which will lift the network to No. 1 over the next couple weeks. If the series goes to seven games, that will give the network a huge lead and it will take the other broadcasters a while to catch up.
ABC could take first or second for the summer if “Star” draws decent ratings and the NBA finals go seven games.
Cartoon Network Renews “The Amazing World of Gumball” for Two More Seasons
By Marc Berman, TVMediaInsights.com - Jun. 2, 2014
Cartoon Network has greenlit “The Amazing World of Gumball” for two additional seasons (with an unconfirmed number of new episodes), bringing the total order, to-date, to five seasons. Created by Ben Bocquelet. “The Amazing World of Gumball,” the first full-length animated series out of Cartoon Network Studio Europe, follows a blue cat named Gumball and his best buddy Darwin, a pet goldfish.
Season three of “The Amazing World of Gumball” is slated to premiere Thursday, June 5 at 6:30 p.m. on Cartoon Network.
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ABC to Air Remaining Episodes of “The Assets” on Saturday
ABC will burn-off the final six episodes of drama “The Assets” in the Saturday 9 p.m. ET hour effective on June 21. The final installment is scheduled for July 19.
Based on the book “Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed” by retired CIA officers Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille, “The Assets” delved into the personal stories of the conclusion of the Cold War as told by the CIA. Eight episodes were ordered, but it was pulled after just two low-rated airings in Thursday 10 p.m. hour on Jan. 9.
A Lawman With a Lot to Deal With, Including Himself
‘Longmire,’ a Crime Drama on A&E Starring Robert Taylor
By Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times - Jun. 2, 2014
Every time a new tortured-cop show turns critics all gushy and trend-chasing television watchers all buzzy, a guy in Wyoming just shrugs and emits a noncommittal grunt. He’s Sheriff Walt Longmire, and if he’s upset that shows like “The Following” and “True Detective” get more attention than his does, he’s not letting on.
Walt is the title character in “Longmire,” which begins its third season on Monday night at 10 p.m. on A&E. Like certain other cable dramas — “Justified” comes to mind — “Longmire” has had fine acting and intricate writing right from its first episode in June 2012, but it has settled in as a taken-for-granted steady performer rather than a show that electrifies social media and awards panels. (Number of Emmy nominations: none.)
That’s odd, because the series has plenty going for it, led by the performance of Robert Taylor as Walt. He plays the sheriff of a fictional Wyoming county who has a lot to deal with: weird crimes, a nearby Indian community with its own rules, a deputy who wants his job, a 10-gallon-hat full of personal issues and secrets. He does it with few words and a willingness to bend the rules, and Mr. Taylor’s gritty performance reminds us that this archetype owes as much to the cowboy tradition of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood as it does to noir.
Walt struggles to come to grips with the death of his wife. When the series began, it seemed as if cancer had killed her, but over two seasons, we have come to learn that she was murdered, and that the search for the killer continues. Among the cliffhangers last season was the arrest of Walt’s friend Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips) in the case.
Mr. Phillips is terrific, as is the rest of the cast, and the writers have given each character more to do as the series has gone along. Last season, Walt’s top deputy, Branch Connally (Bailey Chase), ran against him for sheriff, but now Branch has more life-threatening things to worry about: In the Season 2 finale, he was shot by a mysterious ghostlike figure while on Indian land. Walt, too, has a life-threatening matter to ponder: His daughter (Cassidy Freeman) was hit by a passing vehicle and nearly killed while changing a tire on Election Day.
Katee Sackhoff plays another deputy, Vic Moretti, whose back story was fleshed out quite a bit in Season 2. Turns out she fled her previous job in Philadelphia after setting off a corruption investigation against a colleague, and now his former partner, her nemesis, has found her in Wyoming.
The writers weave all of this into a crime-of-the-week structure, and those crimes show an addictively twisted taste. A fatal bear attack turns out not to have been an act of nature. A safe-deposit box delivered to Walt contains a severed finger. The show, which is based on the novels of Craig Johnson, mixes elements of Indian heritage and spirituality into this already rich concoction, and the result is consistently engaging and surprising.
Gannett Broadcasting and Debmar-Mercury form production partnership
By Joe Flint, Los Angeles Times' 'Company Town' Blog - Jun. 2, 2014
Gannett Broadcasting, one of the nation's biggest owners of television stations, has formed a partnership with production company Debmar-Mercury.
A unit of Lionsgate, Debmar-Mercury produces and distributes "The Wendy Williams Show," which is a talk show. It also makes the FX sitcom "Anger Management" starring Charlie Sheen and this fall will launch a new game show featuring Craig Ferguson called "Celebrity Name Game."
By partnering with Gannett, Debmar-Mercury will be able to test as well as distribute its shows on television stations in most of the country's biggest markets. Overall, Gannett's stations reach 30% of the nation's TV homes, which is a solid launching pad.
"With more than 40 stations across the country, we will have the ability to experiment, test and refine programs throughout the development process," said Dave Lougee, president of Gannett Broadcasting.
With iOS 8, Apple entices 'Android switchers'
By Jefferson Graham and Jessica Guynn, USA Today - Jun. 2, 2014
SAN FRANCISCO — Welcome to the iUniverse.
Apple is ramping up competition for the hearts and wallets of consumers with slick new software and services including a new mobile operating system that will be available this fall.
WHAT'S NEW: 10 new feature highlights for iPhone, iPad and Macs
The announcements were made at Apple's developer conference in San Francisco, an annual event that is playing an increasingly important role in the company's bid to stanch global market share losses to Google's Android operating system.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said 130 million customers bought an iOS device for the first time in the past 12 months, many of them switching from Android.
In a jab at Android, he said they were seeking a better experience and a better life and had bought Android "by mistake."
Longtime Apple analyst Tim Bajarin predicted new features such as family sharing will not only appeal to Apple diehards but could persuade some consumers to ditch their Android and Windows phones and make Apple the digital hub of their lives.
Research firm Canalys says of the 279.4 million smartphones shipped worldwide in the first quarter of 2014, Android accounted for 81% and Apple for 16%.
"Apple delivered a lot of new features for consumers that they will embrace," said Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies. "These will be a big hit with those who are iOS and Mac users and will also entice more people who have not been in the Apple camp to come over."
The new features include mobile health tracking software which lets people monitor their vital signs and fitness, and easier ways to store and exchange files.
Apple also introduced an updated version of its Mac operating system called Yosemite, after the national park.
Many changes that Apple introduced Monday were designed to help Mac computers work more seamlessly with iPhones and iPads.
A new system called Continuity makes it easier to jump from device to device. For example, you can start an email on an iPad and then finish it on a Mac.
Apple also introduced iCloud Drive, which will let users store files online and access them from different devices, a service that is very similar to Dropbox.
Some Apple fans held out hope for a major announcement, a smart watch, new iPhone with a bigger screen, an iPad refresh or even a newfangled Apple TV. But Apple typically introduces new hardware in the fall and winter to take advantage of back to school and holiday shopping seasons.
Eddy Cue, the company's senior vice president of Internet software and services, built anticipation for new gadget releases last week at the Code Conference when he said Apple had "the best product pipeline" he had ever seen in his 25 years at Apple.
Apple stock closed at $628.65 in regular trading Monday, down just under one percent.
A lot was riding on the splashy event attended by about 5,000 Apple developers. The annual conference helps build excitement for Apple's future products. Apple mobile software launches — maps, photos and text messaging — have had a mixed track record.
The event came on the heels of last week's announcement that Apple is buying music streaming and headphones company Beats Electronics for $3 billion, bringing aboard music industry veteran Jimmy Iovine and music artist Dr. Dre.
Iovine attended Monday's event, and Apple exec Craig Federighi used new software that lets you make a phone call from a Mac to call Dr. Dre. "What time should I get in to work?" Dr. Dre asked during the call.
Here's a look at what's new in both iOS 8 and OS X Mavericks:
• Health. Building on the popularity of standalone health and fitness products such as the Fitbit and Jawbone Up, Apple unveiled a new app, HealthKit, to bring all the various health activities into one place. Apple is working with hospitals and doctors to sync health information directly to health providers.
• Family Sharing: A new tool to share privately among family members — photos, calendars and other information — will be a key feature in iOS 8. Additionally, parents will get notifications when their kids want to buy new apps, and will need their approval before the sale can go through.
• Messages: When creating text messages, users can also create audio messages on the fly.
• Keyboard: In a move to catch up to Google, Apple is adding predictive text to suggest words you might want to use as you're typing.
• Siri: The digital personal assistant gets upgraded — it can now be used to access songs with the Shazam song search and to purchase songs on iTunes.
Apple also announced HomeKit, a hub for controlling various apps for automating lights, garage doors, thermostats and the like.
OS X Yosemite:
Apple is looking to one of the world's premiere national parks for its latest operating system upgrade, Yosemite.
The OS, which will be available for free in the fall, will see several key improvements.
• Spotlight search. The internal search now expands beyond what's on your computer to also include the Web, with tabs for Wikipedia, Yelp and Microsoft's Bing search.
• Phone calls. Folks who own iPhones will see caller ID show up on Mac computers when the phone rings. You can now answer iPhone calls on the Mac, or place calls on the computer by clicking the phone number on the Safari browser.
• Bigger attachments for mail. The new attachment limit is 5 GB.
• iCloud drive. A new folder on Apple computers will include iCloud drive, for saving files into the cloud, accessible via multiple computers and Apple mobile devices.
Broadcast Nets Strike C7 Ad Deals in Big Upfront Sales Win
By Brian Steinberg, Variety.com - Jun. 2, 2014
After years of debating the issue, a group of major advertisers has decided that viewers who watch favorite TV shows up to a week after they air are worth some money.
The nation’s largest broadcast networks have struck deals with one major ad-buying firm that will result in that agency’s clients agreeing to a measure known as “C7,” according to several people familiar with the situation, that will make it possible for the major broadcast outlets to get paid in some fashion for viewers who watch commercials up to seven days after they air on live TV. The pact does not include Spanish-language broadcasters or cable networks, and is only for primetime inventory, according to some of these executives. The agency is said to be large media buyer GroupM, according to executives at rival agencies. The agreement could put pressure on other media buyers and advertisers to agree to similar terms and change the way Madison Avenue and the television industry do business.
At present, advertisers pay for “C3,” or three days’ worth of commercial views by audience. But broadcast networks like CBS, NBC and Fox have all pushed for the value of viewing that takes place over a longer time frame, citing increased use by consumers of digital-video recorders and, more recently, video on demand. As technology offers up methods for counting viewers who watch programs on tablets and mobile devices, the push to include those people will likely intensify as well.
Leslie Moonves, chief executive of CBS Corp., has been particularly vocal on the matter, telling investors as early as November of 2012 that the “most significant development we are seeing is the increased levels of viewing via the DVR streaming and video on demand. This is a good thing for us. It means that more people are watching our programming in the situations where there used to be scheduling conflicts. But it also means that you have to be more savvy when reading the ratings these days. It now takes more time to determine the true performance of a show and, in fact, even a network.”
A CBS spokesman confirmed the network had struck a “C7” deal, but did not name the agency involved. Fox confirmed that it has an agreement in place to do a “C7” deal with a major agency it would not name. NBC has struck a similar deal with one agency, according to a person familiar with the situation. ABC and the CW did not respond immediately.
The deal does not mean that the current “upfront” market, in which the U.S. TV networks try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the coming fall season, has begun to move. In fact, the market has been slow to spark, with ad buyers suggesting advertisers continue to register budgets than are lower-than-expected while both sides bicker about pricing.
But the pact does suggest that advertisers, seeing a continued splintering of the audience once attracted to watching live TV, will now chase after that audience more willingly. While live TV viewing remains the dominant couch-potato behavior, so-called “time-shifted” viewing has begun to increase. In February, Nielsen found time-shifted viewing of TV content has grown by two hours over the previous year, rising to an average of about 13 hours per months. Meanwhile, live viewing averaged nearly 134 hours in 2013, down about three hours from 2012.
None of the executives involved would name the agency at the heart of the deal, but the large ad-buying agency known asGroupM was cited by executives from rival ad buyers as a near-certain candidate. Controlled by U.K. ad conglomerate WPP, the consortium of agencies that includes MindShare, MEC and Mediacom represents blue-chip advertisers like Unilever, American Express and Subway. The company has a history of crafting broad deals with the TV networks that push for adoption of new technologies and accommodate new consumer habits. Executives at GroupM were instrumental in the construction of “C3”ratings in 2007, and struck a massive deal valued at between $800 million and $1 billion in June of that year with NBCUniversal to ensure the new measure would be adopted across the industry.
A GroupM spokeswoman declined to comment. One of GroupM’s rivals, Starcom MediaVest Group, controlled by Publicis Groupe of France and representing clients like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola, is not involved with the deal, according to people familiar with the situation.
The call for a move to “C7” was heard plainly during several network “upfront” presentations in recent weeks. “In order for us to continue to make massive investments into our quality entertainment programming, we need to recognize the evolution of the media landscape and with so much of our audience choosing to watch on their own schedule, our business needs to evolve as well,” said Toby Byrne, president of ad sales for Fox Broadcasting, as the network unveiled its fall programming. “I think you can see where I’m going… for our business today and for tomorrow, we need to have a meaningful discussion about ‘C7.’”
The deal is likely to raise some eyebrows. While the TV networks have pushed for “C7” for some time, putting it in place in broad fashion is difficult. Certain advertisers – like movie studios looking to promote a Friday-night opening or retailers hoping to lure customers to a holiday-weekend sale – have in the past been said to look askance at paying for people who saw their commercials after a certain amount of time. What’s more, “C7” measures don’t add much audience for cable programs, according to several executives, which rerun their shows several times in close proximity to the original air date. As such, cable networks would not likely feel any urgency to make such deals a standard.
The deal is likely full of nuances. To get ad buyers to agree to pay for time-shifted viewing beyond three days, TV networks may have had to offer attractive guarantees in the cost of reaching a 1,000 viewers, a measure known as a CPM that is a bedrock element of talks for TV ad time. Favorable terms for expanded audience might draw sponsors to the new concept, while TV networks gain acceptance for the new measure and the chance to perhaps negotiate increases the more they can prove growth in time-shifted viewership.
The push for “C7” has been met with gradual acceptance over time. ABC has in past seasons confirmed that select clients had agreed to such deals, and Fox last year did some as well. Automobile manufacturers have shown the most interest, according to executives with knowledge of the market.
Finally Breaking Up the Cable Bundles
By Nick Wingfield, The New York Times' 'Gadgetwise' Blog
I’m in a relationship that just hasn’t been working out. I still want to be connected, just not as connected as before.
I’m breaking up with my cable company.
Like millions of other people, I am a longtime “triple play” customer, relying on one cable company — Comcast, in my case — for a bundle of services including high-speed Internet, cable television and landline telephone.
There is a convenience factor in having a single company provide all of these services, and for the most part, my service has been reliable over the years. Cable companies have long said that customers receive the best deal by subscribing to all three services. Over time, though, I have grown weary of Comcast’s bundle pricing, which can soar after promotional periods expire.
Even more irritating is that my cable company lumps the three services into one price on my monthly bill, making it difficult to tell what I’m paying for each service. That, in turn, makes it difficult to shop with other providers, many of which offer compelling alternatives.
Marcien Jenckes, a Comcast executive vice president, said that greater transparency on pricing was something that its customers wanted and that Comcast was working on new designs for its bills to help in that regard. “There is lots we can do and room still for improvement to make that clearer,” he said. “Our point of view is it should be very straightforward to see what our customers are paying for our services.”
I have company in my frustration with this state of affairs. Customer satisfaction with cable television companies and Internet service providers is among the lowest of any industry, according to a report released this month by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which measures consumer perceptions of a broad range of services in the United States.
One big provider, Time Warner Cable, has stopped promoting triple-play bundles as aggressively as it used to, partly because demand for landline phone service is declining as people make more calls on their cellphones, even at home. The company reported a decrease of 5.7 percent in its number of triple-play customers last year from the year before. (Comcast, which is in the process of acquiring Time Warner Cable, said it was still seeing growth in its triple-play subscribers.)
I set out to determine how significantly I could lower my monthly bill by busting up my cable bundle. This approach won’t work for everyone. If you want to watch the latest HBO shows and crave live television, including news and sports, sticking with your cable bundle may make the most sense.
Inertia has kept me from doing this sooner. But when I looked at my Comcast bill a couple of months ago, I knew it was time to move. My total bill, including my bundle of services, equipment and taxes, had jumped to more than $290 a month from just over $190.
My cable company has long offered promotional pricing that lasts for two years. If I committed to stay with the service for that period, my bill typically went up modestly after one year and then spiked more sharply after two. I then had to call Comcast to see what promotions it could offer me and commit again to another two-year contract.
This time, my cable bill jumped to a much higher level than ever before, and the promotional prices Comcast offered me when I called customer support recently were not as generous as in the past. Before my old promotional price expired this year, I paid $130 a month for my bundle, before taxes and other charges. I was offered a new promotional price of $160 for the first year and $180 for the year after that.
Craig Moffett, an analyst who follows the cable industry for MoffettNathanson Research, said this ritual of forcing consumers to negotiate for a better deal backfired on cable companies. “Unfortunately, rather than leaving the customer delighted that they just saved money, you leave them disenchanted and feeling like it was only through cunning that they were able to avoid getting hosed,” Mr. Moffett said.
I’m sticking with Comcast for the one service I can’t really replace: high-speed Internet access. Other residential Internet providers in my neighborhood in Seattle don’t offer anything close to the downloading speeds of 50 megabits per second that I now get with Comcast.
I’m still in the process of unbundling, but once I drop Comcast television and telephone service, my bill for high-speed Internet will go to about $85 a month, not including taxes, according to customer support. Ninety days after switching to just Internet service, I will be eligible for a promotional price that will most likely bring my Comcast bill down another $25 or so, customer support told me. While unbundling may minimize the swings in monthly bills, promotional prices are inescapable.
For phone service, I have many more options, the most inexpensive of which is to simply drop landline service altogether and use my cellphone. Nearly 40 percent of American households rely entirely on wireless phone service, according to a survey conducted in 2012 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
I favor the clarity of landlines. In fact, I’ve long had two of them through Comcast — one for work and one for personal use — which added $22 a month to my bill on top of my basic bundle price.
I decided to replace my two Comcast lines with an Internet telephone service from Ooma, which has earned plaudits for its reliability and value. It requires the purchase of a $150 device called Telo ($120 after a service activation credit from the company). After that investment, Ooma offers unlimited nationwide calling at no cost, charging customers only for taxes and fees, which are typically range $4 to $7 a month.
I signed up for a $10-a-month “premier” service from Ooma that gives me two phone lines. So far, I have been delighted by the service, including nice features that let me screen voice mail messages live and ring my landline and mobile numbers simultaneously.
I haven’t decided yet how I’m going to replace my Comcast television service. One satellite television provider, Dish Network, currently charges $85 a month for 12 months, and $125 after that, for a package that most closely resembles the one I have with Comcast, which includes HBO and other premium channels. Fees for digital video recorder service and equipment for a second television will increase the monthly bill by $19.
How much, if anything, will I save by splitting up my bundle?
If I kept my bundle of services with Comcast, I estimate my total monthly bill, including my second phone line, taxes and other fees, would be about $230 for the first year and $260 after that. By going with Comcast for high-speed Internet, Ooma for phone and Dish for television, my bill could be as low as $200 a month with the promotional prices I have been quoted. When they expire, and assuming I can’t get new promotional prices to replace them, my monthly bill could be closer to $270, a bit more than sticking with Comcast.
I also have to factor in the $120 for the Ooma Telo device in my calculations, though that is a one-time fee that will eventually pay for itself in savings by the end of the year.
In reality, my monthly savings will be far greater because I am unlikely to sign up for a costly television package like the one I have from Comcast. Like many people, more of my viewing time has gravitated to Netflix, which I can stream through my Internet service on plans that start at $8 a month. Amazon just added many of HBO’s older original shows to its Prime Instant Video streaming service, though not the latest ones like “Game of Thrones.” I already have Prime Instant Video because it’s part of Amazon’s broader $99-a-year Prime membership program, which includes free two-day shipping on orders.
Comcast has responded to the growth of these streaming services, especially their attractive user interfaces, with a new set-top box called X1.
If I forgo a bare-bones pay TV package, the real loss will be live television. Hard-core sports fans find the idea of cord-cutting difficult to stomach. I mostly watch only big events, like the Super Bowl and the Olympics, that are shown on broadcast television, which you can tune into free with the purchase of an HD antenna (usually less than $100).
Of course, unbundling takes some serious effort, and it does come with a potential deal breaker for some in the lack of live TV. For me, though, the cost savings — and the visibility of how much I’m paying for individual services — makes it well worth the exercise.
‘Game of Thrones’ Has 2nd-Highest Rated Episode; ‘Silicon Valley’ Up Slightly
By Tim Molloy, TheWrap.com - Jun. 2, 2014
“Game of Thrones” returned to 7.2 million viewers Sunday, earning its second-biggest audience so far. The season finale of “Silicon Valley,” meanwhile, was up slightly from its last new episode, finishing with 1.7 million viewers.
“Game of Thrones” originally airs at 9 p.m. Including a repeat, it had 8.2 million viewers. Combined with its replay, “Silicon Valley,” which airs originally at 10 p.m., had 2 million viewers for the night.
“Veep” was on track with its last new episode, earning 1.1 million viewers at 10:30 and 1.3 million for the night
“Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” dipped slightly from two weeks ago, but still earned nearly 1 million viewers at 11 and 1.2 million viewers for the night.
Saturday night's telecast of the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was up sharply from prior years, scoring 918,000 viewers.
* * * *
Nielsen Notes (Cable)
‘Halt and Catch Fire’ Debuts to 1.2 Million Viewers
By Tony Maglio, TheWrap.com - Jun. 2, 2014
AMC's “Halt and Catch Fire” debuted to 1.2 million viewers on Sunday.
At 10 p.m., “Halt” earned a 0.8 household rating. The '80s computer drama pulled in 433,000 viewers 18-49, 464,000 in the 25-54 demo.
The show may have scored a larger audience if not for an available sneak preview across various platforms, which the network pointed out in a statement.
“With ‘Halt and Catch Fire,’ we are targeting a passionate core audience that largely consumes television on its own timetable, which is why we made the premiere available through a sneak preview on a variety of platforms including AMC.com and Tumblr,” said Charlie Collier, AMC president. “The preview generated hundreds of thousands of plays and strong social media buzz — just off the results we can immediately measure. We are happy with the positive response to the show and look forward to sharing the rest of the season with viewers.”
By comparison, the Season 1 premiere of AMC's “Mad Men” got 1.6 million viewers; the debut of the network's “Breaking Bad” saw 1.4 million.
“The Walking Dead” debuted to 5.3 million viewers, though the zombie thriller is the biggest show on TV, two years running.
LA Kings’ OT Win Sets Records On NBCSN
By Erik Pedersen, Deadline.com - Jun. 2, 2014
The LA Kings’ thrilling win over the Chicago Blackhawks last night was the most-watched NHL game ever on NBC’s cable sports outlet, but the numbers reflect the sport’s continued niche status in Los Angeles. Game 7 of a for-the-ages Western Conference Final – in which the Kings ousted the defending champions 5-4 with a overtime win in the Windy City to move on to the Stanley Cup Final — drew a 3.17 overnight rating;nbcsn that’s the best for any NHL game in the network’s 2 1/2-year history, topping Game 3 of last year’s Cup Final. It also pulled a ridiculous 22.7 HH rating in Chicago but only a 4.8 in LA. Both were high-water marks for the NHL on NBCSN.
The win put the LA Kings into the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in three seasons, following the first championship in franchise history in 2012. They’ll go against the New York Rangers, who are playing for the Cup for the first time in 20 years. That means we’ll get the first LA-NY championship tilt in the Big 4 U.S. sports since the Dodgers beat the Yankees in the 1981 World Series. One might think the NHL and NBC, which is airing the first two and last three (if necessary) Cup Final games, would be beaming about that today. But execs might have been secretly rooting for Chicago, an Original Six NHL team with a much larger local and North American fan base. Ratings for last year’s Cup Final between the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins — another team with a wide following — clobbered the 2012 Kings-New Jersey Devils series.
Still, the league and its TV partners lucked out this season with teams from the top three U.S. markets and the NHL’s most storied franchise — the Montreal Canadiens — vying in the semifinals. NBCSN will air Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Final from Madison Square Garden in NYC. The first two games will be at LA’s Staples Center.
Here is the TV schedule for the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final (all times PT):
Game 1: 5 pm Wednesday, June 4; NBC
Game 2: 4 pm Saturday, June 7; NBC
Game 3: 5 pm Monday, June 9; NBCSN
Game 4: 5 pm Wednesday, June 11; NBCSN
*Game 5: 5 pm Friday, June 13; NBC
*Game 6: 5 pm Monday, June 16; NBC
*Game 7: 5 pm Wednesday, June 18; NBC
(* if necessary)
On The Air Tonight
TUESDAY Network Primetime/Late Night Options
(All shows are in HD unless noted; start times are ET. Network late night shows are preceded by late local news)
8PM - Extreme Weight Loss (120 min.)
10PM - Celebrity Wife Swap: David Justice/Dweezil Zappa
* * * *
11:35AM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Tom Cruise; Alyssa Milano; Boyz II Men performs)
12:37AM - Nightline
8PM - NCIS (R - Dec. 17)
9PM - NCIS: Los Angeles (R - Oct. 22)
10:01PM - Person of Interest (R - Nov. 19)
* * * *
11:35PM - Late Show with David Letterman (Martin Short; TV host John Oliver; Spanish Gold performs)
12:37AM - The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson (Amanda Peet; Kit Harington)
8PM - America's Got Talent (120 min.)
10:01PM - The Night Shift
* * * *
11:34PM - The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (Jonah Hill; Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel; Soundgarden performs)
12:36AM - Late Night with Seth Myers (Dennis Miller; Anna Chlumsky; Bastille performs)
1:37AM - Last Call With Carson Daly (Aisha Tyler; Deap Vally performs; musical group Tokyo Police Club)
8PM - Riot
9PM - I Wanna Marry Harry
PBS: (check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - D-Day 360 (R - May 27)
9PM - Hallowed Grounds (R - May. 25, 2009)
10PM - Objects and Memory (R - Sep. 8, 2008)
8PM - De Que Te Quiero, Te Quiero
9PM - Lo Que La Vida Me Robó
10PM - Qué Pobres Tan Ricos
8PM - Famous In 12 (Series Premiere)
9PM - Supernatural (R - Oct. 15)
8PM - La Impostora
9PM - En Otra Piel
10PM - El Señor de los Cielos
11PM - The Daily Show With Jon Stewart (Ricky Gervais)
11:31PM - The Colbert Report (Morgan Freeman)
12:01AM - @ Midnight (Max Silvestri; Nick Thune; Kristen Schaal)
11PM - Conan (Jane Fonda; Ramon Rodriguez; musician Twin Shadow)
Midnight - The Pete Holmes Show (Comedian "Big Jay" Oakerson)
11PM - Chelsea Lately (Giovanni Ribisi)
Check Local Listings - Arsenio (J.B. Smoove; Terry O'Quinn; DJ Rashida) (R)
CNBC Isn't Offering Nielsen Ratings Guarantees During the Day Anymore
Financial network offers internal numbers instead
By Sam Thielman, AdWeek.com - Jun. 2, 2014
CNBC, the financial news network, is done with daytime Nielsen ratings.
"They are no longer guaranteeing the business day, which is the most important daypart for a financial client," a source told Adweek. "They believe that their primary business day viewing is done in offices and therefore not monitored by Nielsen and underrepresented."
And to some extent, that's probably the case. The smaller a network's audience, the less accurate its Nielsen ratings are going to be, and the ratings for CNBC have gotten ever-smaller in the last few years, as have ratings at its competitors. The network will continue to guarantee in prime time.
But, of course, CNBC is also one of the few networks for which daytime ratings aren't a particularly accurate measure of relevant reach. Monitors throughout the Goldman Sachs building play the network to their wealthy executives. The network's show Squawk on the Street broadcasts from inside the New York Stock Exchange. If you work in the financial world—a small world, but one with nearly unlimited spending money—CNBC is ubiquitous in gyms, hotels and elsewhere among areas frequented by bankers and traders.
This has always been the network's contention when low ratings rear their heads—what does it matter if a representative sampling of 40-year-olds across the country have decided to marathon Breaking Bad this month? The network's core viewership is and will continue to be Wall Street, and those are the people on the market for, say, a Lexus or a trip to Bali.
So now, it seems that CNBC has decided to put its money where its mouth is and withdraw guarantees for the daytime, which is a crucial daypart for most people anxious to reach the network's demographics. A source said the network has told advertisers that only half its clients asked for guarantees, anyway. That probably worked out very well for that half because if you're getting your deliveries regardless of ratings and your price is pegged to ratings guarantees, you may have gotten make-goods this last year even though you were reaching your audience.
Instead, said a source close to the network, the company is offering guarantees based on its own internal measurement of ad deliveries. It's not an ideal situation, certainly—third-party measurement is a large part of what makes TV advertising so valuable—but parent company NBCUniversal has been revising its advertising sales apparatus radically in recent months.
Part of that strategy seems to be finding more efficient measurement wherever possible and also leveraging its advantages in a serious way. Variety reported last week that the network will not only raise Super Bowl spot prices to an unprecedented $4.5 million for new advertisers, but it will also require an additional $4.5 million in commitments elsewhere in the portfolio to secure the privilege of buying a Super Bowl spot in the first place. Now, it looks like another component is unilaterally abandoning inefficient measurement when there are no good numbers to be had.
Asked whether the company was abandoning Nielsens for daytime, the network offered the following from Seth Winter, evp, news and sports ad sales group: "While we completely agree that CNBC's core audience remains virtually unmeasured by current traditional metrics, our agreements with our clients are confidential," Winter wrote. "As we continue to explore the best measurement opportunities, our conversations with clients include new metrics that accurately demonstrate the power of the CNBC audience."
FAA to consider allowing drones for movies
By Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times' 'Company Town' Blog - Jun. 2, 2014
The federal government may open the skies to Hollywood.
The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday that it would consider a request by several companies to use drones for filming movies and TV shows.
The agency said it was reviewing a request from seven aerial and photo and video production companies that seeks permission to use "unmanned aircraft systems" for the first time.
Although the FAA already allows law enforcement agencies, fire departments and other public agencies to use drones, it has effectively banned their use for commercial purposes since 2007.
The FAA has been weighing allowing commercial uses for drones for several years, but has delayed issuing regulations out of concern that doing so could create safety hazards for manned commercial aircraft.
Now, the FAA is facing heavy pressure from the entertainment, agriculture and the oil and gas industries, as well as other sectors, to allow them to use drones for commercial uses.
The FAA plans to propose a formal rule for commercial drones by the end of the year, but regulations aren't expected to be finalized until 2015.
The Motion Picture Assn. of America, whose members have worked with the seven companies, supported the request.
Lurking Just Beneath This Surface ...
“High Maintenance” and “My Mad Fat Diary.”
By Emily Nussbaum, NewYorker.com - Jun. 2, 2014
Every few months, I spelunk into the world of online indie television. It’s nearly always a disappointment: most series, even those which have managed to Kickstart up some hype, are half-baked and amateurish—more audition tapes than real productions. When I heard about “High Maintenance,” a Web series about a pot dealer in New York City, my expectations were calibrated low. Then I watched it. And I thought, Finally, finally, finally.
Each episode of “High Maintenance” is between six and fifteen minutes long, and the episodes are released in sets of three, every few months. Then the show streams for free on the indie video-sharing site Vimeo. Although all the current installments were mostly funded by the show’s creators, the actor Ben Sinclair and his wife, the casting director Katja Blichfeld, Vimeo has just announced that the Web site will provide financial backing for upcoming ones, as part of a move into a Netflix-style production model. Yet despite its D.I.Y. origins “High Maintenance” doesn’t feel like a self-indulgent pet project—instead, it’s more like a shoebox that opens into Narnia. Freed of the constraints of thirty-minute or one-hour formulas, the episodes are luxurious and twisty and humane, radiating new ideas about storytelling.
In each episode, Sinclair, a shaggy guy who tends to get cast in crazy homeless-dude roles on “Law & Order,” plays the nameless dealer. (Most of his customers call him “the guy,” as in “Should I call the guy?”) Sometimes he smokes with the customers; other times, he makes a brief drop-off, then leaves. That’s it, as far as a formula goes. A few episodes are coarsely funny—such as one dirty farce involving a Passover Seder and a double hand job—but most are meditative, dreamy invasions into the lives of creative-class New Yorkers, with smart dialogue, seams of compassion, and an O. Henry air of surprise.
In “Jonathan,” Hannibal Buress plays a touring comedian negotiating an on-and-off relationship with his “chuckle******” girlfriend. At first, it seems like a character portrait of a guy on the road, but then suddenly there’s an act of violence—and the episode turns into something else, about the difficulty of recovering from trauma. In “Rachel,” Dan Stevens is a procrastinating screenwriter and a stay-at-home dad. He wanders around his fancy apartment—there’s an Emmy, a set of mallard-head bookends, a huge portrait of Queen Elizabeth—in a writer’s-block funk. Gradually, we realize he’s putting on women’s clothing and exploring cross-dressing sites online. In the eerie, propulsive “Qasim,” an isolated life hacker performs a set of rituals that only slowly develop a pattern. In “Trixie,” two Airbnb hosts smoke up to relieve the stress of their awful Euro-trash guests. These stories have a peephole intensity, a willingness to take detours and then stay still when the moment counts, using economically edited montages to build characters in a flash. There’s a patient respect for ordinary behavior that suggests “Frances Ha” or movies by the Duplass brothers—and call me Netflix, but, if you like those, you’ll like these.
My favorite installment, “Brad Pitts,” starts out as a sedate character portrait of a bird-watcher in her forties, played by Birgit Huppuch. Pretty but worn down, she has something on her mind, but it’s not clear what it is. She picks up a dowdy flowered bag and joins fellow bird-watchers in Central Park, a crowd that includes an older man smoking a joint. (“There’s no fuzz out this early,” he says, when someone complains.) At her office, she handles administrative tasks, waters plants, then spoons her yogurt into the sink. Only later does it become apparent that the woman has cancer and is waiting for an appointment for treatment. When a friend orders pot to spike her appetite, the episode swerves into a comic sequence involving a panic attack. There’s plenty of drug humor on modern TV, often in zany comedies like “Broad City” and “Workaholics,” but “High Maintenance,” despite its subject matter, isn’t really in it for the dope jokes: it’s more of a nonjudgmental study of the many reasons that humans get high, from numbness to adventure. In “Brad Pitts,” the protagonist barely does anything, and yet the final shot of her, without any of the melodramatic underlining of conventional TV, brought tears to my eyes.
It’s risky for a critic to compare anything to a short story—the comparison inevitably makes the thing sound twee and smug—but the best episodes of “High Maintenance” do fit the bill: they’re compressed but confident. They’re part of a movement in modern television which violates simple divisions between comedy and drama, spearheaded by auteurist series like “Louie,” “Girls,” and the late, lamented “Enlightened.” But because “High Maintenance” has no obligation to follow any one character, or make a season-long arc pay off, it can take different risks. Gradually, the episodes build up a detailed and empathetic image of a specific demographic slice of New York, one cramped apartment at a time. Though its scripts are witty, “High Maintenance” is often at its best when it’s at its quietest: jumping from image to image with nothing but music playing, sniffing around corners like a nosy neighbor.
* * * *
A few weeks ago, an episode of “Louie” featured Sarah Baker as a fat waitress. Warm and pugnacious, she flirted with Louie non-stop, until she guilted him into a date. It ended with a monologue in which her character talked about how it felt to be a fat chick, sexually rejected even by fat guys. Because this was “Louie,” the episode had its share of sharp moments, including some dark bits about Louie’s own issues with food—and Baker was terrific. But, despite the actress’s best efforts, her monologue came off as stiff and polemical, like edutainment in shaky-cam drag. Still, it got plenty of praise, much of it giving “Louie” credit for breaking a supposed TV taboo against discussing women’s experiences of love, sex, and being fat.
Of course, this is nuts. For decades, there’s been plenty of television exploring these themes—from “Roseanne” on—and you’d run out of fat fingers ticking off current plots on “Girls,” “The Mindy Project,” “New Girl,” “Drop Dead Diva,” “Glee,” “Mike and Molly,” “Awkward,” even “Switched at Birth.” Some years back, the fantastic fat-camp show “Huge” ran for one tragically cut-short season, on ABC Family—off the radar, without many prominent think pieces raving about its profundity. All these shows are centrally concerned with women’s love lives, which means that body image is their bread and butter, literally. It’s also probably no coincidence that a significant proportion of them involve teen-age girls, whose bodies are endlessly judged and displayed, but who are also the types of characters frustratingly sidelined in discussions of quality TV.
Among the most potent of these shows is a current teen drama, a British series called “My Mad Fat Diary,” which has run for two seasons on the E4 channel. (In the U.S., the episodes can be found on YouTube.) The show is an adaptation of a book by the radio host Rae Earl, which was a reprint of her diaries from the late nineteen-eighties, when she was an obese teen-age Smiths fan, briefly institutionalized in a mental hospital. With morbid, salty vigor—and plenty of side scribbles and cartoons—Earl described fights with her single mom, rampant horniness, eating disorders, and the O.C.D. and self-harm that landed her in treatment. The TV show updates her story, and her soundtrack, to the mid-nineties, but it maintains the aggression of the original, as well as its frank and funny treatment of Rae’s sexuality. We see Rae’s initiation into masturbation and her lust for men, ranging from her doctor—“Dr. Nick Kassar, expert moistener of lady-gardens”—to the bookish “Professor of Horn,” Archie, and her handsome love interest, Finn, about whom she explains, “I don’t want him as a friend. I want him to go down on me for so long that he has to evolve gills.”
For all her blunt talk, however, Rae is a far more conflicted individual in private. She’s disgusted by her chubby mother—another “blob with a gob,” in her view—who sleeps with a younger man. Rae can’t eat in public; she has regular panic attacks. And rather than risk being naked she rejects the boy who cares for her, killing time instead with men who confirm her self-loathing: a creepy fetishist, who sneers that she should be grateful, and another mental patient, who suggests they keep their clothes on, because “neither of us are oil paintings.” In one of the show’s most poignant early sequences, Rae literally unzips her fat body, steps out of it, drags the flesh to a garbage can, then lights it on fire. The show doesn’t steer away from these contradictions, or from Rae’s streaks of grandiosity and self-pity, but, by putting her at the show’s center, it makes her plight human and resonant, not a side-trip in someone else’s journey.
Some of the show’s plots are familiar, if you’ve watched similar teen-centered dramas: the crushed-on boy who turns out to be gay, the hot-girl frenemy, the diary that is someday going to be read. The boy who loves Rae is a bit of a unicorn figure: he’s “fit” enough that girls want him, but he’s remarkably unaffected by the opinions of others. Still, the show’s wit keeps the series fresh, with great visual jokes like a moment when Rae, alienated in her first year of college, walks through a hall of students wearing “Blur” T-shirts; her own shirt reads “Oasis.” The clever aesthetic style replicates a journal: scribbles cover the screen, including arrows and doodles, framing everything from Rae’s perspective—when she panics, black scrawls close around her head like a vortex.
It’s a motif that captures something not all that dissimilar to the themes of “Louie,” in which physical appetite is both a promise and a trap, impossible to easily resolve. “There is a difference between snacking and bingeing,” Rae says repeatedly. “And I don’t binge anymore.” It’s a wishful mantra that her middle-aged soul mate—who once said, “The meal isn’t over when I’m full. The meal is over when I hate myself”—might understand.
CNN Hits Worst 10 PM Rating In 14 Years
By Dominic Patten, Deadline.com - Jun. 2, 2014
Friday night was no fun for either Seth MacFarlane or Jeff Zucker. The former had the beginning of what was a face-plant of a weekend with his Western comedy A Million Ways To Die In The West while the CNN boss suffered his news network’s worst result in the 10 PM slot in 14 years. Scratching with an average of just 35,000 viewers among Adults 25-54, CNN dropped hard to a snake belly level not seen since May 9, 2000. Back on that very quiet Tuesday night during the last year of the Bill Clinton’s Presidency, the cable news network had 33,000 viewers among the news demo. The all-time low for CNN in the 10 PM slot was on June 16, 1999 when it sunk to 32,000 among the 25-54s on a Wednesday night.
Unlike its competitors, CNN didn’t have a single show filling the whole hour on Friday. Perhaps telling of how badly the star-studded In The West was going to do at the box office (just $17 million), CNN’s half hour 10 PM Spotlight featured a profile of MacFarlane. It was not well watched with just 42,000 in the demo and 262,000 overall tuning in. At 10:30 PM, the Rachel Nichols-hosted sports show Unguarded pulled in an all-time demo low with just 29,000 watching. In terms of total viewers, Unguarded hit a new low with a mere 101,000 watching. At least with 182,000 total viewers in the hour, CNN wasn’t dead last among cable news networks. It beat CNBC’s Ultimate Factories’ 181,000 – by a hair.
The 10 PM hour slot this May 30 was also down a crushing 66% from the same slot the week before for a primetime night that became CNN’s second-worst result of the year so far. With just 66,000 watching among adults 25-54, CNN placed fifth behind frontrunner Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNBC and sister station HLN. In the 10 PM slot, FNC’s Sean Hannity got 210,000 in the demo – five times more than CNN. Hannity actually saw a rise from his 155,000 demo draw of May 30. Overall, FNC quadrupled CNN among Adults 25-54 with 262,000 in the demo between 8 – 11 PM on Friday. MSNBC was an easy second with 104,000 among the 25-54s watching. In total primetime viewers, FNC was No. #1 with 1.71 million, MSNBC was second with 362,000 and CNN was a distant third with 284,000.
Lurking Just Beneath This Surface ...
‘Next Time on Lonny’ Is a Major Movie Parody
By Mike Hale, The New York Times - Jun. 3, 2014
“Next Time on Lonny” is a Web series — a first season of six episodes appeared in 2011, and a second season begins on Tuesday. There was every reason for “Lonny” to be lost in the slush pile of short comedy videos online, but for one thing: Ben Stiller liked it. So if you want to know what Mr. Stiller thinks is funny, you can see for yourself over the next four weeks at maker.tv and on YouTube.
The series was created by Alex Anfanger (who plays Lonny) and Dan Schimpf, who were in their mid-20s when they made the first season. It’s low rent/high concept: Lonny stars in what appears to be the world’s blandest reality show, but we see only about a minute of it each episode — Lonny moving into an apartment or using a puppy to pick up women — before a voice intones “Next time on ‘Lonny’!” The rest of the episode is a mock highlights reel that’s generally an over-the-top movie parody, channeling various films and film genres — alien invasion, heist, “Bachelor Party,” “Lost in Translation.”
It’s the kind of thing that can look funny in small doses on a slow day at the office, though binge-watching it isn’t a good use of a half-hour; the banal jokes and minor-league surrealism start to work like a Novocain drip.
Mr. Stiller, who backed the new season, is on record (on Twitter) having liked the first episode of Season 1, a psycho-slasher parody. I preferred the fourth, in which versions of Lonny keep returning from the future to tell him what will happen if he masturbates before going on a date.
Nothing in the first four episodes of Season 2 is as funny, but the production values are better, and recognizable guest stars like Patton Oswalt pop up, which is another thing that happens when Mr. Stiller notices you.
Navel-gazing as art form: ‘Famous’
TMZ founder vows to bring fame to a no-talent family in 12 weeks
By Louisa Ada Seltzer, Media Life Magazine - Jun. 3, 2014
Look what Kim Kardashian hath wrought.
On the CW’s new reality show “Famous in 12,” which debuts tonight at 8 p.m., a family moves to Los Angeles with one aim: To become famous in just 12 weeks.
They have no special skills, no particular talent and no real reason to rise to fame, other than the fact that TMZ founder Harvey Levin has pledged to help them, and Levin certainly knows what makes for good spectacle.
The CW is billing the show as a social experiment.
The family will hit hot hangouts and go to posh stores in an effort to build buzz for themselves, and they’ll interact with viewers heavily on social media to try to build their fame.
The point appears to be, in the era of famous-for-nothing folks like the Kardashians, that it takes relatively little to become a household name. But we probably don’t need another TV show to tell us that. Pretty much every reality program proves that point.
While the concept of the show may be inspiring eyerolls (TMZ is pushing it hard due to Levin’s involvement, and there have been a lot of commenters scoffing at the concept), the CW deserves credit for adding more original summer programming.
This is one of eight original programs that will air on the network this summer, up from last year. Even if “Famous” doesn’t draw huge ratings, the CW will at least have something new where it can preview its upcoming fall schedule.
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Jun. 3, 2014
2001: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY
TCM, 8:00 p.m.
Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film was a genre masterpiece then, and it’s a genre masterpiece today – and, most likely, will remain a genre masterpiece tomorrow. The movie seems to be almost nothing but extended set pieces, each iconic movie sequence leading to another. Monoliths. Moon shuttles. Malevolent supercomputers. Star childs. Trips to the end of space and time. And speaking of trips – watch again, as paranoid shipboard computer HAL uses his photographic red “eye” lens to eavesdrop on his ship’s human astronauts by reading their lips. It’s the same series of shots replicated in a recent Mad Men, as Michael Ginsberg went crazy while watching Lou Avery and Jim Cutler having a private conversation in the new computer room.
FX, 10:00 p.m. ET
This show just builds and builds, as its characters deepen along with the plot. And Billy Bob Thornton as Malvo – he may just be the most deadpan antihero, or villain, in TV history. Or at least since Miguel Ferrer popped up as super-droll FBI forensics specialist Albert in Twin Peaks.
THE WIL WHEATON PROJECT
SyFy, 10:00 p.m. ET
So now we know what Wil Wheaton’s new show is all about. It’s an overview of the week in sci fi – part recap, part preview, and part politely snarky observational humor. The humor needs a little work, but Wheaton, and Syfy, may be on to something here, especially with the proliferation of the Talking Dead-type TV shows popping up all of a sudden. And with Chris Hardwick, that show's host, popping up on Wheaton's first show as well...
TCM, 10:45 p.m. ET
2001: A Space Odyssey isn’t the only outer-space film classic shown tonight on TCM. Right after that 1968 movie ends, 1979’s Alien begins – and, before long, presents one of the scariest scenes in all of science fiction cinema. Sigourney Weaver stars.
QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE
TCM, 4:45 a.m. ET
Earlier this same evening, TCM presents a groundbreaking outer-space movie in terms of themes and special effects (2001: A Space Odyssey), followed by an equally groundbreaking one in terms of gender (Alien, presenting Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley as a take-no-prisoners heroine). Stay up long enough, though, and those films from the Sixties and Seventies, respectively, will be crushed in counterpoint by this movie from the Fifties. Queen of Outer Space, made in 1958, is as laughably horrible in terms of special effects (so laughable it’s enjoyable) as it is in terms of its portrayal of women – who, in this outrageous space fantasy, rule a planet! Zsa Zsa Gabor stars, but not in the titular role.
Networks Pour Cash Into Summer Programming
Our top picks for off-season TV
By Sam Thielman, AdWeek.com - Jun. 3, 2014
The broadcast season is over. Permanently. That’s not to say that a bunch of new series won’t be back in the fall, but you no longer have to watch reruns and reality shows during the summer—and you may not have to ever again.
Ratings for postseason unscripted shows have been dismal in recent weeks, and major players from Fox to Syfy have been dumping cash into summertime viewing after witnessing the successes of series like CBS’ Under the Dome (returning for a second season June 30 at 10 p.m.).
Of course, it’s not all going to be great, so we watched as many pilots as we could get our hands on, making our picks for original series into the summer (and beyond) across genres, networks and media platforms. Enjoy.
Garfunkel & Oates / IFC / Aug. 7 at 10
Garfunkel and Oates are two very, very funny comediennes whose musical stylings include such crowd-pleasers as “Gay Boyfriend” and “Pregnant Women Are Smug.” Hopefully, their IFC show will be as offensive as their other offerings.
The Leftovers / HBO / June 29 at 10
Based on Tom Perrotta’s novel about the aftermath of the Rapture (maybe?), Perrotta himself is writing and showrunning the series for HBO, with sci-fi guy Damon Lindelof. The pilot plays like a cross between Walking Dead and The Ice Storm, a creepy study in the junction of cosmic horror and personal sadness.
Tyrant / FX / June 24 at 10
An upside-down version of Homeland, this FX series stars Adam Rayner as a family man pulled back to the land of his birth, a war-torn dictatorship ruled by his father. The pilot is so tense it’s hard to watch—you know what’s going to happen, you just want to believe that it won’t. It does.
Extant / CBS / July 9 at 9
CBS went sci-fi with Under the Dome last year and it paid off huge; now it’s doubling down with an even more expensive, stranger story starring Halle Berry, with writers who mostly worked on NBC’s late, lamented Las Vegas. It looks scary and cool, and the psycho robot kid is definitely up our alley.
Muslim group's concerns about 'Tyrant' addressed, FX and producers say
By Greg Braxton, Los Angeles Times' 'Show Tracker' Blog - Jun. 3, 2014
FX and the producers of FX's upcoming drama "Tyrant" are trying to reassure a a Muslim civil rights organization about its concerns over the series.
Leaders of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which bills itself as "the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization" sent a letter to FX President John Landgraf last week saying they were worried about "potential Islamophobic stereotyping" in the drama, which premieres June 24.
"FX, Fox 21 and the producers recognize that some people may have some concerns over possible stereotyping in 'Tyrant,'" said a joint statement released by FX and producers Fox 21. "For the past several months, the network, studio and producers have had internal and external discussions to address those concerns.
"There have been conversations with the Muslim Public Affairs Council and with Muslims on Screen and Television, and all parties involved with 'Tyrant' look forward to continued dialogue with those organizations."
"Tyrant" is about an "unassuming American family drawn into the workings of a turbulent Middle East nation," according to the show's website. "Bassam 'Barry' Al Fayeed, the younger son of the dictator of a war-torn nation, ends a self-imposed 20-year exile to return to his homeland, accompanied by his American wife and children, for his nephew's wedding. Barry's reluctant homecoming leads to a dramatic clash of culture as he is thrown back into the familial and national politics of his youth."
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Jun. 3, 2014
2001: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY
Never heard of the title including "time" and, at least as of right now, the referenced article doesn't include "time", just "2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY".
This was the first movie I had seen in Grumman's Chinese Theater. (The second movie I saw there was "Star Wars", before it was allowed to be "Star Wars: Episode IV" by the studios by the time the movie had arrived at my then-local theater a couple years later.)
Edited: too much flux capacitor on my mind. Thanks to dcowboy7 for the correction.
My very humble setup:
|Man Cave:||Vizio E500i-A1 "Smart TV" (50-in 1080p 120Hz LED/LCD, has Netflix app.), Blu-ray players (Sony BDP-S3100, old LG BD390), Roku (the original model: N1000), PC (Windows 7), Comcast Internet (25Mbps/5Mbps).|
|Bedroom:||LG 32LV3400-UA TV (32-in 768p 60Hz LED/LCD), HD DVR (Motorola RNG200N), Xfinity Comcast cable (Digital Starter Package), DVD/VHS player.|
Finally Breaking Up the Cable Bundles
By Nick Wingfield, The New York Times' 'Gadgetwise' Blog
If I forgo a bare-bones pay TV package, the real loss will be live television. Hard-core sports fans find the idea of cord-cutting difficult to stomach. I mostly watch only big events, like the Super Bowl and the Olympics, that are shown on broadcast television, which you can tune into free with the purchase of an HD antenna (usually less than $100).
Even tech writers perpetuate the nonsense. There is no such thing as a HD antenna.
TiVo Elite, TiVo 4, Four TiVo Minis, TiVo Stream, Roku 3, Google Chromecast, Cox Cable, Sonos
Gawd, I hope that the is assumed on your post.