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dad1153's Avatar dad1153 10:16 AM 06-21-2014
TV Notes
Aereo decision could be turning point
By Mike Snider, USA Today's 'Cutting the Cord' Column - Jun. 21, 2014

Either way the decision goes, the Supreme Court's ruling on the legality of the Aereo streaming service could drive more people to cut the cord.

The court is expected to rule before the end of the month — and as early as Monday — on whether Aereo is breaking the rules by streaming live network TV stations over the Internet. Two years ago, the start-up began offering New Yorkers 28 channels and cloud DVR storage for a monthly charge of $8.

The company uses collections of dime-sized digital antennas to record local broadcasts; your subscription lets you stream those channels on computers and Android or iOS devices, or via Apple TV, Chromecast and Roku.

Cord cutters have welcomed the service as it has expanded to 10 markets including Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Detroit and Miami, with more expansion planned. Along the way, Aereo began drawing the legal ire of broadcasters that decried the company's sidestepping of retransmission payments.

In January, the Supreme Court agreed to hear broadcasters' appeal of its case against Aereo. The major TV networks — along with the National Football League and Major League Baseball — argue that Aereo should have to pay fees to retransmit signals.

Aereo counters that it does not infringe on networks' copyrights because it rents subscribers antennas in each city — just as if they had an antenna at home. Customers access the content their leased antenna gets online via the company's streaming technology.

"Nobody says you can't have an antenna and nobody says you can't have a DVR. It's all about can you have an antenna and a DVR that you control remotely," Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia told USA TODAY earlier this year.

Also on Aereo's side, the Consumer Electronics Association, the trade group that represents device makers, and the Computer & Communications Industry Association, which represents Internet companies.

Industry observers are divided on how it will all shake out. The media and entertainment analysts at International Strategy & Investment Group expect the court will rule that Aereo is subject to retransmission fees.

"The skeptics say there is a 30% chance Aereo will win, while the optimists put the odds at 50%. In total, that suggests consensus is to the negative, that Aereo won't win," says Michael Greeson, co-founder of The Diffusion Group.

The Supreme Court "is not supposed to make cost-benefit decisions or concern themselves with the consequences of their decision," he says. But a decision in favor of Aereo would have a dramatic impact on the entire TV ecosystem. "In this case, it will be difficult for individual justices not to consider the consequences. There is simply too much at stake."

At The Envisioneering Group, research director Richard Doherty thinks the court will likely rule 5-4, but isn't willing to bet which way it will go. Whether cord cutters already subscribe to Aereo — or are considering it — they have a vested interest in an Aereo win. "It's probably going to lead to more choice and newer technology for cord cutting," Doherty says.

Conversely, a win for the broadcasters could result in higher pay-TV prices "because broadcasters will be that much headier about it and raise their fees with each negotiation," he says.

Higher prices could lead more customers to trim or cut the cord. Eventually, "the cord" will be transformed, suggested columnist Michael Wolff in a recent USA TODAY column. "What we know is that five years from now, the television business, and how we get video, and who pays for it, and who makes money from it, will have dramatically changed," he wrote. "What we don't know is who will benefit most and be top dog in the game."

The Aereo decision is an important milestone on that timeline. Doherty says, "It can change the market conditions in America tipping it towards the consumer and less toward big media and negotiators."

dad1153's Avatar dad1153 10:20 AM 06-21-2014
TV Notes
Cast Set, Plot Revealed For Wachowskis’ Netflix Globe-Spanning Series ‘Sense8′
By Nellie Andreeva, - Jun. 20, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: Lost alum Naveen Andrews, Daryl Hannah and Stargate Universe‘s Brian J. Smith are among the 14-member international cast of Sense8, Netflix‘s 10-episode sci-fi drama series from the Wachowskis and J. Michael Straczynski. Also cast in the show, expected to debut next year, are British actors Tuppence Middleton, who appears in Wachowskis’ upcoming film Jupiter Ascending; British actors Aml Ameen (The Maze Runner, Lee Daniels’ The Butler) and Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who, Torchwood), Indian actress Tena Desae, South Korean actress Doona Bae, German actor Max Riemelt, Mexican actors Alfonso Herrera and Erendira Ibarra as well as Jamie Clayton, Miguel Silvestri and Terrence Mann.

Up until now, Netflix and the creators had not revealed details about the project beyond calling it “a gripping global tale of minds linked and souls hunted” that incorporates the Wachowskis’ storytelling style. Here is the first detailed description of Sense8, courtesy of Straczynski, who serves as co-showrunner of the series alongside Lana and Andy Wachowski. “The series follows eight characters around the world who, in the aftermath of a tragic death, find themselves linked to each other mentally and emotionally,” he told Deadline. “They can not only see and talk to each other as though they were in the same place, they have access to each other’s deepest secrets. Not only must they figure out what happened and why and what it means for the future of humanity, they must do so while being hunted by an organization out to capture, kill or vivisect them.”

I hear that the eight people at the center of the show are being played by Smith, Middleton, Ameen, Bae, Silvestri, Desae, Riemelt and Clayton. Sense8 will match the global nature of its story with a production that will span nine locations on four continents: Chicago, San Francisco, London, Iceland, Seoul, Mumbai, Berlin, Mexico City and Nairobi. The series is produced by Georgeville TV, Reliance Entertainment/Motion Picture Capital’s TV studio, in association with Anarchos Prods., Unpronounceable Prods. and Studio JMS.
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 10:24 AM 06-21-2014
TV Notes
'Rising Star's' Time Travel: How ABC Is Airing the Show Live for Most of America
By Michael O'Connell, The Hollywood Reporter

New singing show Rising Star is more than just ABC's best shot at summer success. With The X Factor gone, American Idol now a shell of its former self and even The Voice slowing, the hot Israeli competition format will revitalize or sound the death knell for TV's most lucrative conceit. ABC is going so far as to tweak its traditional programming hours to launch the novel live telecast, which features real-time voting.

Nearly 80 percent of the U.S. will get Rising Star live when it debuts 9 p.m. EDT June 22. Enthusiasm during a spring affiliate meeting prompted ABC to schedule the two-hour show at the early time of 7 p.m. in Mountain states to prevent tape delay. And though the three-hour time difference means the West Coast's 9 p.m. airing will be long after the rest of the country, producers will cut to live hits from the still-active studio if voting differs enough in the west to spare an eliminated contestant. (Hawaii and Alaska get no concessions.) "Our priority was to figure out how to allow the West Coast to participate in a way that makes them feel like a full partner," says programming executive vp Mark Bracco, whose Dick Clark Productions (a THR sister company) is producing Rising Star per a new joint venture with format owner Keshet. "It's become a very customized campaign."

Bracco, who left ABC for DCP in April, helped usher the show to the network after its Israeli launch garnered a staggering 49 percent market share. The ABC version will be the first test for new reality chief Lisa Berger, though it is said to also have become a favorite of entertainment president Paul Lee.

ABC execs believe the format is such a lure that, in stark contrast to Voice, Idol and X Factor, Rising Star's expensive talent -- Kesha, Ludacris and Brad Paisley and host Josh Groban -- have been sidelined in most marketing materials in favor of a simple logo and tagline."We have four very well-known names on the show and want to leverage their mass appeal to bring in an audience, but we want viewers to understand that the panel is not there to judge," says ABC marketing strategy senior vp Darren Schillace.

Crucial to the show's success will be whether U.S. viewers download a companion app that allows real-time voting with the Tinder-esque ease of swiping "yea" or "nay." Early download stats have those involved optimistic, though there's a cautionary tale: The last time a network tried interactivity (NBC's quickly canceled The Million Second Quiz), glitches and errors hijacked the conversation.
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 10:31 AM 06-21-2014
TV Review
Commander in Chief With Idealism Untarnished
‘Kid President,’ With Robby Novak, on Hub
By Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times - Jun. 21, 2014

Ideally, the president should be relatively smart. In the premiere of his new series on the Hub Network, Kid President proves himself smart enough to know that no one can take an unbroken half-hour of the chirpy observations that have brought him Internet fame.

The resulting show — a mix of Kid President chatter and more substantive vignettes, with well-chosen guest stars thrown in — is an exceedingly likable concoction, different from much of what television serves up for younger children and amusing for grown-ups, too.

It’s called “Kid President: Declaration of Awesome,” and its time slot — 7 p.m. Eastern — is either an unfortunate mistake (aren’t kids still outside playing in the summer twilight?) or the start of a new Saturday evening ritual for families with children 10 or younger. Kid President is Robby Novak, a charming 10-year-old who, for two years now, has been racking up six- and seven-figure viewing numbers on YouTube with short videos that preach self-worth and kiddie activism.

The television show, produced by the website/media company/thought hub SoulPancake, uses the frenetic style of the videos but with a bit more story line and ambition. In each episode, Kid President (when in his “office,” he sits in front of a presidential seal) will explore a theme. For the premiere, it is heroism.

He starts out wanting to film a Kid President superhero-style movie. David Wain, one of three guest stars in the episode, is hilarious as the movie’s director. But by the show’s end, K. P., as he is sometimes called, has developed a more sophisticated idea of what heroism is. And viewers have met, among others, two girls who set up an alpaca kissing booth to raise money for a special playground swing accessible to children in wheelchairs.

Kid President knows something about adversity — Robby has a brittle-bone condition that has made broken bones a regular feature of his life — but the show isn’t a pity parade. The emphasis is on respecting diversity and on doing rather than spectating.

Those are the values “Sesame Street” has been promoting for years, but here the delivery is much cooler and the target audience a little older. Rainn Wilson of “The Office” is an executive producer, as is Brad Montague, Robby’s brother-in-law, who created the “Kid President” web series.

Will hatemongers or Iraq’s factions or Congress adopt the No. 4 entry from Kid President’s “20 Things We Should Say More Often” video? (“I disagree with you, but I still like you as a person who is a human being and I will treat you like that because if I didn’t, it would make everything bad, and that’s what lots of people do, and it’s lame.”) No. But there’s nothing wrong with starting young viewers out starry-eyed. Plenty of time for cynical reality later.

Kid President: Declaration of Awesome
The Hub Network, Saturday night at 7, Eastern time; 4, Pacific time.
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 10:34 AM 06-21-2014
TV Review
‘The Last Ship,’ worth the voyage
TNT series delivers a well-crafted story of drama and suspense
By Tom Conroy, Media Life Magazine

When famous movie people make the move to TV, they tend to lose whatever made them special. This is notoriously true for actors, but a long of list directors and producers have also learned that their talents don’t scale down to the small screen.

TNT’s new drama “The Last Ship” bucks that tradition. Its executive producer, Michael Bay, known for directing brainless action hits like “Armageddon” and the “Transformers” series, delivers a simple story with clear heroes and villains and effective suspense.

Although neither the acting nor the screenwriting will win awards, they get the job done. Viewers looking for the TV-series equivalent of a summer blockbuster will be well served.

Premiering this Sunday at 9 p.m., “The Last Ship” takes place on a U.S. Navy destroyer that is sent on a four-month mission to the arctic just as a deadly virus is beginning to spread. Told to maintain radio silence, the ship’s captain, Tom Chandler (Eric Dane), only learns at the end of the mission that perhaps billions of people have died from the viral disease and the world has descended into chaos.

He also learns that the scientist onboard, Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra), has been on a secret mission to gather samples of the virus, in the hope of developing a vaccine.

When the ship loses contact with the Pentagon, Chandler has to decide how best to fulfill his and Dr. Scott’s missions. He has to deal with a disgruntled executive officer, Slattery (Adam Baldwin), and other officers and crew members who mostly want to return home to see if their loved ones have survived.

The premiere episode features a scary and sad sequence in which crew members board an Italian cruise ship looking for supplies and fuel. In the course of the episode, it becomes clear that humanity has not united to face the threat.

Although people on the show keep saying that the world has completely changed, the writers manage to sneak in two stock types to serve as villains in the second and third episodes. Although we’re already on the side of Chandler and his crew, these stereotypes help to get our blood boiling faster. One of the villains seems likely to be a recurring threat.

Based on a 1988 novel by William Brinkley in which the catastrophe was a nuclear war, the series has a built-in source of episode plots: On land or at sea, the ship can encounter survivors or adversaries with their own back stories and agendas.

Oddly, the feeling is reminiscent of the original “Star Trek” and other classic TV dramas that featured a wandering hero or group of heroes. That aforementioned potential recurring threat could substitute for the Klingons.

Early on, we learn that the epidemic can’t be wholly blamed on natural causes. But the first three episodes rely so satisfyingly on shoot-’em-up action and suspense that it seems unlikely the series will disappear down the usual conspiracy-based rabbit hole. Each episode ends with a twist that hooks us for the next week.

Eric Dane, who’s best known as Dr. McSteamy from “Grey’s Anatomy,” is a satisfying Captain Chandler. Although Chandler’s wife and children may still be alive, he and Dr. Scott have believable chemistry.

The writers and directors don’t let characterization get in the way of the action, but the supporting players are readable from the start, with easily discernible motivations.

Each episode raises moral issues that keep our intellect slightly engaged while we’re enjoying the tension and violence. But each episode provides enough resolution that those issues won’t trouble our sleep. The show avoids the troubling real-life references of shows like “24″ and the bleakness of shows like “The Walking Dead.”

“The Last Ship” isn’t the kind of series that people will brag about liking, but it could go viral.
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 10:36 AM 06-21-2014
Critic's Notes
Orphan Black Is an Orphan. What Ever Happened to Saturday Primetime TV Shows?
By Margaret Lyons, (New York Magazine) - Jun. 21, 2014

Orphan Black is an off-the-beaten-path show in a lot of ways. It's brainy sci-fi that's not afraid of its funny side; its star plays several different roles; the central mystery is intriguing without overwhelming the character-driven stories of the series. It's a good show, and you should watch it. But by far the most surprising part of the series is that it airs on on Saturdays. Saturdays.
There are not a lot of first-run scripted shows on Saturdays in primetime. Orphan Black, which airs its second season finale tonight, is on BBC America, which also shows Doctor Who on Saturdays when it's in season; Starz's new drama Power airs Saturdays, and come August, Outlander will take over that slot. But that's about it! Cable stations today very rarely put scripted shows on on Saturdays, and networks have given up: Enjoy your reruns, occasional crime newsmagazine shows, and maybe some COPS here and there. Saturdays are a TV wasteland.

But it wasn't always like this. In fact, a lot of terrific, popular, or terrific and popular shows used to air on Saturdays.
Essential comedy classic Your Show of Shows aired on Saturdays, from 1950–53. That was a popular night for radio-to-TV series, too, like Ethel and Albert, Meet Millie, and Leave It to the Girls, but variety shows were just as popular — particularly The Jackie Gleason Show, which morphed into The Honeymooners, which aired, you guessed it, on Saturdays for the '55–56 season. Gunsmoke aired on Saturdays from 1955–67. (And then moved to Mondays for another seven seasons.) Have Gun — Will Travel. Perry Mason. Some iteration of The Lawrence Welk Show was on Saturdays for more than 15 years. Bonanza premiered on Saturdays. The Defenders won its three best drama Emmys having run on Saturday nights. Flipper, Gilligans Island, I Dream of Jeanie — Saturday, Saturday, Saturday. And it wasn't reserved for cornball comedies either: Get Smart, a best comedy Emmy winner in 1968 and 69, was also a Saturday show.

In 1970, The Mary Tyler Moore Show premiered on Saturdays, where it remained for its entire seven-season run. In 1973, you could sit down on Saturday night and watch All in the Family, M*A*S*H, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, and then The Carol Burnett Show. For the rest of the decade, CBS maintained a pretty robust Saturday, eventually introducing The Jeffersons and Alice to the bloc too. In 1977, The Love Boat and Fantasy Island both debuted as part of ABC's lineup. Rhoda spent some time on that night, as did Welcome Back Kotter. T.J. Hooker, and Taxi.

Things really picked up again in 1985, when Golden Girls premiered on Saturdays, along with 227. Amen premiered a year later, and then 1988 saw the debut of Empty Nest. Sisters, truly one of the under appreciated '90s dramas, aired on NBC on that night for its entire tenure. Brooklyn Bridge was there in '92 and '93. The Commish too, for five seasons. Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and Walker, Texas Ranger — both Saturday staples for years and years — debuted in 1993. Touched By an Angel and Early Edition, followed, providing CBS with a earnestness line-up for the ages. JAG is probably the last successful show to launch on Saturdays, and that debuted in 1995 — and NBC canceled it. (The show went on to find long-term success on CBS, though on a different night.) The Practice is the last show to air on a Saturday to win an Emmy, and it only barely counts: It aired half a season on Saturdays in 1997.

The last significant network show to debut on a Saturday was Freaks and Geeks, all the way back in 1999. And, as everyone knows, the show was a creative success and a massive ratings failure. By the end of the 2003–04 season, none of the networks were airing original scripted programming at all on Saturdays: ABC, CBS, and NBC had movies. Fox had two episodes of COPS and America's Most Wanted, the same line-up it had since 1994. Through out the '00s, CBS and NBC dabbled in newsmagazines — 48 Hours, Dateline Saturday— but mostly it was just reruns and movies. CBS tried in at midseason 2011–12 to air original comedies, and several shows since then have aired at the end of the week merely as burnoffs.

As things stand now, there are no current plans for any network shows to air on Saturdays, and the vast majority of cable stations aren't airing anything scripted either. (Or even a good documentary-style reality show.) Part of this is because fewer people are watching TV on Saturdays, but there's also a chicken-and-egg problem: Now viewers are used to the idea that nothing's on on Saturdays, so even if something were on, we'd probably assume it was inferior or just a sad little also-ran.

But maybe this is where cable stations, particularly ones outside the HBO/Showtime/AMC realm, can claim some ground. Nickelodeon had its SNICK line-up for many years, and the aforementioned BBC and Starz shows are staking their territory. Saturday is also prime Netflix time, though for that company's purposes, it's not really important whether you're watching their original series or their licensed ones. The era of fully-programmed Saturdays is gone — but it would be lovely to have a few more options back in the mix.
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 10:40 AM 06-21-2014
FRIDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insight's Blog
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 05:23 AM 06-22-2014
TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
SUNDAY Network Primetime Options
(All shows are in HD unless noted; start times are ET)

7PM - Wipeout (Season Premiere, 120 min.)
8PM - Rising Star (Series Premiere, 120 min., LIVE)

7PM - 60 Minutes
8PM - Elementary
(R - Feb. 27)
9PM - The Good Wife
(R - Mar. 30)
10PM - The Mentalist
(R - Mar. 30)

7PM - American Ninja Warrior (120 min.)
(R - Jun. 2)
9PM - America's Got Talent (Special Day/Time, 120 min.)

7PM - Enlisted
7:30PM - American Dad
(R - Apr. 6)
8PM - The Simpsons
(R - Mar. 30)
8:30PM - The Simpsons
(R - Jan. 26)
8PM - Family Guy
(R - Jan. 26)
8:30PM - American Dad
(R - Nov. 3)

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Secrets of London Underground
9PM - Masterpiece Mystery! The Escape Artist (Part 2 of 2, 90 min.)
10:30PM - PBS Previews: The Roosevelts
(R - Jun. 17)

5:30PM - 2014 Copa Mundial de FIFA, Grupo G: Estados Unidos contra Portugal (LIVE)
8PM - Bailando por un Sueño (120 min.)
10PM - Sal y Pimienta

7PM - Movie: La Misma Luna (2007)
9PM - Movie - The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

dad1153's Avatar dad1153 10:24 AM 06-22-2014
TNT's 'The Last Ship' Showrunner on Michael Bay's TV Brand and Navy Collaboration
By Bryn Ellis Sandberg, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Live Feed' Blog - Jun. 21, 2014

The Last Ship is TNT's latest attempt at a summer blockbuster.

In what The Hollywood Reporter's chief TV critic Tim Goodman calls "explosion-filled eye-candy," showrunner Hank Steinberg orchestrates the story of a ship of U.S. Naval officers, led by Captain Tom Chandler (Eric Dane), who are among the last survivors in a post-apocalyptic world following a global pandemic that wipes out 80 percent of the population. On-board scientist Dr. Rachel Scott (Rhonda Mitra) believes she's found a cure, but her quest to save humanity becomes complicated, with lots of things blowing up in the process.

The series takes place mostly on a 505-foot-long operational naval vessel, a product of executive producer Michael Bay's close ties with the Navy. The high-budget drama will be entering a competitive summer landscape, including Halle Berry (CBS' Extant), Justin Theroux and Liv Tyler (HBO's The Leftovers) and John Malkovich (NBC's Crossbones).

THR caught up with showrunner Steinberg, whose past credits include CBS' Without a Trace and ABC's The Nine, ahead of Sunday's The Last Ship premiere (TNT, 9:00 p.m. ET). The conversation ranged from how the Bay brand translates to television, the advantages of being on a cable network and plans to attract female viewership (hint: it involves Dane).

TNT chief Michael Wright has been making a push for more bold and ambitious programming. How does the The Last Ship play into that strategy?
It seems to me that this is the heart of Michael Wright’s strategy. The book was sitting on his desk for a long time and was one of his favorite concepts that he was trying to develop. We were able to make something worthy of the Bay brand, which, of course, is big in scope, ambition, size and visual effects. And we got all the financial support that we needed from the network in order to make the show deliver on the promise of their very aggressive promotional campaign. You often see pilots that have a lot of money thrown at them and then they downshift into smaller episodes and the audience gets disappointed. It was at the forefront of our minds not to do that. By the same token, I think that you’re going to come to know and love the characters and the storyline. Hopefully what we have is a really good hybrid of an old-fashioned heroic blockbuster in the vain of Indiana Jones and at the same time smart storytelling. Michael Wright likes to say it’s “smart popcorn,” with an emphasis on smart.

Michael Bay is known for big blockbuster movies. How do you translate the size and sensibility of a Bay project to television on a cable budget?
As I said, TNT was generous with their offer to begin with, more so than you see on most cable shows. The first thing we did was bring in Jack Bender, who had done all those years of Lost, who knew how to manage a show of that scale. Jack really brought something special to it, which was to allow it to have that scope, size, character and action, but make sure that it had a heart, too. In a $200 million action movie, you have an action sequence that might go on for 35 minutes. You pick your spots in television, and you have the action be organic with the storytelling. Then you surround it with characters and try to develop suspense. You try to make sure that whenever you do an action scene it means something to the story.

What kind of involvement did Bay have in the day-to-day of this project?
He was integrally involved in the pilot. He read all the drafts of the scripts, weighed in on casting, and was integral in recruiting John Mostow to direct the pilot and getting Eric Dane to agree to do the pilot. He brought in his visual effects supervisor to make sure that the visual effects were as first-rate as what’s in his movies. He was, of course, helpful in opening up all those doors to the Navy. They have an inherent trust in him that they’re going to be portrayed accurately and in a generally heroic way, and that was a very, very important factor because we needed the Navy to provide access to their ships, which is an enormous part of the show. Battleship spent three days on a destroyer. We spent three weeks on a destroyer during the pilot, and three to four weeks throughout the series at the 32nd Street naval base in San Diego shooting on their ships.

The show features a tremendous amount of action sequences. How do you balance the need and desire for action with character development?
We believe in revealing character through story. In the first three episodes, the stories are really big and the characters are up against big situations. Their characters are revealed by how they respond to those situations. In subsequent episodes, we will dive even deeper, but again you just pick your spots. If you look at the third episode for example, there’s really one big action scene at the end of the episode, the climax, and you feel like you’ve earned it by the time you get there. Before that, it feels a little bit like the intellectual cat and mouse game that you would see in The Hunt for Red October, where you have a lot of suspense and some darker moments. We make that one really big action scene feel earned and feel climactic.

How important is it to draw females to the action-packed series? And if it is important, how do you intend to do so?
It’s always important to draw females. They’re half the television audience, if not more. To me, it’s about having great characters and caring about the relationships between the characters. What we worked hard to do was to try to slowly reveal character through action. We don’t have a lot of scenes in the beginning where everyone is barfing out their backstories, but if you stay for the whole season you will see things revealed. It feels a little more like the layers of an onion in a way that I think will be very gratifying. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have Eric Dane if you’re looking for female viewership. That takes care of a lot of it off the bat.

As you wrote the show, who did you envision as your core viewer?
We think that the great thing about the show is that it will appeal to a really wide audience. There’s everything from the millions of people in this country that are serving actively in the military to retired military people to people who like summer blockbusters and action to people that love end-of-the-world scenarios to science geeks to the sci-fi crowd and people who love Battlestar Galactica to 15 year-old boys and girls that are into genre stuff. When I experience it, I feel like there are moments in every episode that hit my X chromosome and my Y chromosome, along with my inner 15-year-old kid and my 44-year-old that’s a father.

How does your relationship with the Navy influence the script? Were there stories you were able to better tell as a result of that partnership?
The Navy first and foremost helped us make sure that we were technically accurate, both the language that they were using and also with the dynamics that exist between the higher ranking officers and the lower ranking officers. As screenwriters who had been living in Los Angeles since we were 21, Steve [Kane] and I didn’t know a lot about how the Navy really operated. There were a lot of details in terms of what kind of punishment does the captain give someone when they do something wrong? How do they say certain things? When the executive officer (XO) disagrees with the officer, how does that get expressed? If left to our own devices, we might have gotten that inaccurate. The classic example is the XO doesn’t contradict the captain, like some of the other officers. So we are still able to have that conflict through two of our leaders, it's just that it has to be done in a much more subtle way. All the sudden it adds that dimension. Instead of six people arguing around a conference table like you would see in a legal show or a cop show, what you get is flickering glances and cadences. You realize that the hierarchy is so important and fragile and it needs to be dealt with respectfully. The Navy helping us understand the codes and the rules around that was actually really helpful.

The Last Ship is based on a book of the same title by William Brinkley, which is set in the 1980s. You opted to make a contemporary show, so what were the challenges of adapting it into a modern day tale?
When Steve and I first sat down together we said, “How are you going to update this? How are we going take something that was written in the Cold War and talk about a thermo-nuclear war, which doesn’t seem very relevant. How are we going to deal with this?” We knew we needed an end of the world scenario that felt relevant and realistic. We pretty quickly came to the idea of a pandemic. What that afforded us that was really key to the series is the idea that there’s a scientist on the ship that can actually put a stop to it all. It becomes more than just a quest for survival or an existential story about how people survive in a post-apocalyptic show. It’s actually an apocalyptic show if they can stop the apocalypse. That gives the whole series a drive, a momentum, a ticking clock that we feel makes it different from many of the other shows that deal with end-of-the-world scenarios.

In the past, you’ve had shows on CBS and ABC. How would The Last Ship differ on broadcast?
You’re able to take more chances on cable, generally, creatively. Most importantly the shorter order really helps keep quality. With 10 episodes, we were really able to see what the first season looked like right when we got to the writers room. We didn’t have to have any episodes where we were stalling, treading water, or drifting (no pun intended.) There were actually episodes that we wanted to explore that we just left on the floor because we didn’t have time. They will reincarnate in other seasons hopefully. Not only can you see the whole trajectory of the entire season arc in a way that makes the whole season feel taut and lean and dynamic and exciting, but we went into production with eight of the 10 scripts completed. We really had a writing period and then we had a production period. It enabled us to prepare ahead of time so much better having all those scripts ready. We were really able to keep our eye on the ball. With a classic network schedule you’re doing six things at once, spread in so many different directions.
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 10:31 AM 06-22-2014
TV Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, - Jun. 22, 2014

ESPN, 12:00 p.m. ET

ABC and ESPN divide today’s World Cup games, with the last and biggest of them (for stateside viewers, anyway) earmarked for cable. Meanwhile, on ABC, all four Group H teams are in play, and playing one another. At noon ET, it’s Belgium (the only Group H team with a win) vs. Russia, followed at 3 p.m. ET by Korea Republic vs. Algeria. Algeria is at the very bottom of this group, and Russia and Korea Republic occupying the middle – and hoping to climb out with a victory.

ESPN, 6:00 p.m. ET

This, though, is the big one today: Group G’s United States vs. Portugal. The U.S. surprised just about everyone, maybe even themselves, by beating Ghana in its first game, and now shares the Group G lead with Germany, which has much more secure footing at the top because, in its initial game, it trounced Portugal and emerged with a plus-four goal differential, a key factor in tiebreakers. (The U.S., after its first game, has a goal differential of plus-one.) So Portugal, which didn’t even expect to lose, much less be internationally embarrassed, against Germany, will be hitting the pitch today with a vengeance, and with a lot to prove. But the U.S. needs to hang on with at least a draw if it hopes to advance to the next stage, because its final Group round game, next week, is against top-ranked Germany. ESPN coverage begins 30 minutes before the game begins.

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

This is the 1956 American version of the 1954 Japanese monster movie Gojira – released by the same Japanese studio for the American market, with many of its best scenes cut, and with many scenes added featuring an American actor, Raymond Burr, as a reporter, whose inserted scenes made it an “acceptable” story line for U.S. moviegoers. It’s interesting to watch, but only in the context of realizing how much better the original movie is – a movie that, by the way, is now available in a special golden-anniversary restored edition. One odd factoid about America’s Godzilla? The character played by Burr is named… Steve Martin.

HBO, 9:00 p.m. ET
This is the final season for True Blood, and it begins with an instant bloodbath that redefines the rules, and the various allegiances, for the remaining episodes. The early hours are mostly setup for what’s to come – but they do serve as reminders of how enjoyable many of these characters, and performers, are. Anna Paquin stars.

HBO, 11:00 p.m. ET

John Oliver showed up this week for a sparkling, smart, very funny interview on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross. She likes his show for the same reasons I do – its extended single-subject focus on its lead feature, and Oliver’s defiant outsider way of looking at… almost everything. See his newest installment tonight, and see if you agree.

* * * *

TV Notes
Swordplay Certificate Pays Off for Star of BBC's 'Musketeers'
By Donna J. Plesh, - Jun. 21, 2014

Back in the days of lawless 17th-century Paris, only the king’s personal bodyguards, The Musketeers, stood for social justice, honor, love and valor.

Most of us know about The Musketeers from the Alexandre Dumas books or the Richard Lester films (The Three Musketeers, The Four Musketeers: Milady’s Revenge and The Return of the Musketeers). The Musketeers were three pretty tough guys who knew how to handle swords and swordfights, yet with distinctly individual personalities. BBC America’s The Musketeers, which premieres Sunday, June 22, at 9 p.m. ET, starts out with three: Tom Burke as Athos, Santiago Cabrera as Aramis and Howard Charles at Porthos.

But yes, there is a fourth Musketeer who joins the trio, as Burke explained in a Television Critics Association press tour interview and afterward.

“There are three Musketeers and then Luke’s character (Pasqualino as D’Artagnan) comes along, he explained. "The series is very much inspired by the book. The series of books is called the D’Artagnan Romances, and D’Artagnan is the character that goes all the way through them, and the others kind of come in and out.

But "The Three Musketeers" is the book that everybody knows, and it is the first book, and it is where D’Artagnan meets the three, and by the end of that book they have become the four (Musketeers). So the Richard Lester movies in the 1970s — they made two back to back — The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers — but it’s really the journey of D’Artagnan becoming a Musketeer,” said Burke.

Writer Adrian Hodges says the 10-episode series, which already has been renewed for a second season, is not an adaptation of the book. “I didn’t want to adapt the book. The book effectively becomes a serial, and this is a series of new adventures. But what it does do is take themes, ideas, all clearly characters from the book, and use them in ways that sometimes are familiar from the book and sometimes very, very different to the book, but it isn’t an adaptation of the book, and it doesn’t follow the famous story that has been adapted a number of times. I wanted to do something completely new,” said Hodges in an interview.

Burke, 31, said he always was interested in tales of the Musketeers. “I was very into the Musketeers. When I was growing up the spacemen were generally wearing a sort of kind of tight fluorescent onesie, which I never felt would sort of suit my frame. I’ve always brushed down slightly better than I brush up. So I suppose the more kind of rustic, if you will, look of the Musketeers I just thought would work with what I had to offer.

“Every time I’ve had a costume fitting for any job, regardless of period or character, I think I do kind of scan the rail for something in dark leather, so it was great to just be wearing that and [have] it be appropriate. There was a period of adjustment with kind of, like, you’ve got the heels, and then you’re dealing with heels and cobblestones, so we’re all a bit shaky for a couple of days,” said Burke.

Handling a sword for his role in the series was nothing new for Burke. “In my drama school we had to do a bit of it [swordplay], and we had to get a sort of certificate to prove we were sort of safe to go and do it. And I had done a bit [of swordplay] at the Globe Theatre in London in a production of Romeo and Juliet. But it had been a while, and it's not like riding a bike,” he said.

Burke, like so many of his acting peers from Britain, comes from an acting family. His father is the actor David Burke, and his mother is the actress Anna Calder-Marshall. But there are more: “I have a cousin who is an actress and a godfather and godmother who are actors. I always sort of knew that’s what I was going to do,” he said.

Burke said filming the series took about seven months and took place in the Czech Republic in a town outside of Prague. “We were shooting five days a week, sometimes six. It was pretty long hours. It was slow, but, I mean, and we were all taking it very seriously. I just mean the work alone. But if I have an abiding memory of the seven months, it’s probably of laughing, and just between my takes, there was something to laugh about.” Such as?

“There was a lot of goofing around. There was quite a lot of hiding behind any available object and jumping out and making a noise of a dog or a peacock and just seeing how much we can frighten the living daylights out of each other. I actually waited on three occasions in the toilet of Luke’s caravan to surprise him, which in total," he said, "meant I waited there an hour and he never turned up.”
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 10:33 AM 06-22-2014
SATURDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insight's Blog
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 10:41 AM 06-22-2014
Critic's Notes
Vulture TV Awards: Deadwood Creator David Milch on Why Walter White Is the Year’s Best Villain
By David Milch, (New York Magazine) - Jun. 18, 2014

All this week, we’re presenting the Vulture TV Awards, honoring the best in television from the past year. We move on now to Best Villain. It says a lot about the television cycle that things that aired less than a year ago feel like ancient history — but a list of TV events that are eligible not only for the purposes of our Vulture TV Awards, but also the upcoming Emmy Awards, would include the Dexter finale, Sharknado, and the Miley Cyrus performance at the MTV Video Music Awards. The final run of Breaking Bad also qualifies, and as Deadwood creator David Milch discusses here, Walter White is the year’s best TV villain.

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in all of television’s kingdoms more heinous than Joffrey Baratheon. Or more devilish than Frank Underwood. Or more politely chilling than the eponymous Hannibal. For these characters, villainy is as much a vocation as avocation: Joffrey is a teenage tyrant; Frank is a scheming politician; and Dr. Lecter a sinister shrink. When villainy is a job requirement, why not delight in it?

But there is nothing inherently villainous about your mild-mannered chemistry teacher — the one who took a medical leave when he developed lung cancer. He’s so nice, after all, and his family is so sweet. He’s just like you and me, and we’re not so bad. Are we? Walter White’s transformation into the monster Heisenberg is compelling because he does bad things for good reasons. We might even do the same, if pushed far enough. We see a little of ourselves in him, and that’s precisely why we should fear him most.

In the final season of Breaking Bad, Walter has completed that transformation and quit the business of blue meth. He’s already shot, stabbed, poisoned, and bombed anyone who threatened his burgeoning empire. He’s made more money than his family could ever need.

But with Hank and Jesse finally at odds with him, he still has things left to do. Though he doesn’t wear the porkpie hat, he uses the different facets of his persona to manipulate those closest to him. He’s Mr. White, the genteel teacher, when he has to convince Jesse to change his identity for everyone’s protection. He’s the helpless cancer victim and loving patriarch when Hank finally realizes the truth about his brother-in-law. His time is running out, Walter promises, and a pointless prosecution for a dying man will only harm his family. When those approaches fail, Walt is the brutal drug lord who plots to kill Jesse, implicates Hank in his own crimes, and leaves his wife bloodied and sobbing in front of their home after kidnapping their infant daughter. He turns his family against itself. In doing so, he reshapes the world around him so that everyone breaks bad.

Marie, never the bastion of sanity, Googles untraceable poisons when Walt doesn’t follow her recommendation of suicide. Skyler eschews her own husband’s moral standards and tries to convince Walt to finally murder Jesse. Even Walter’s other protégé, Todd, is merely an extension of him. He adopted the brutality of his Uncle Jack and the Opie attitude of “Mr. White.” When Todd and the Aryans leave Hank in a desert grave, torture Jesse, and murder Andrea, who is only guilty of unwittingly playing the pawn, it’s not in spite of Walter, but because of him.

And then, in the wake of fleeing Albuquerque, Walter refuses the opportunity to save Skyler by surrendering to the police, claiming that he wants to ensure his family receives the remainder of his money. In reality, he can’t accept that his empire has perished.

When Walter finally admits that he did it all — the meth, the money, the murders — because he liked it, because it made him feel alive, that vanity motivated him more than charity, it reflects how our own ostensible altruism is often just the lie we tell ourselves to excuse our dirtiest deeds.

He does attempt redemption. He comes out of hiding to ensure Skyler isn’t punished for his crimes. He kills the Aryans and rescues Jesse. He succeeds at providing Walt Jr. with roughly $9 million. But he achieves these small acts of contrition through violence, or at least the promise of it. He’s already doomed, and he shows how far each of us can fall.

Was Walter White the best villain on television this year? You’re goddamn right.

* * * *

TV Notes
Vulture TV Awards: -- -- -- Creator -- -- on the Year’s Best Death
By -- --, (New York Magazine) - Jun. 18, 2014

dad1153's Avatar dad1153 10:47 AM 06-22-2014
Technology Notes
First Take: Kill switch requires standardization
By Jon Swartz, USA Today - Jun. 20, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO – Google and Microsoft's decision to join Apple on the "kill switch" front throws considerable heft behind the movement to deter smartphone thefts.

But it's just a start.

For the technology to truly take hold and repel criminals, the anti-theft software should be part of the default operating system so the user doesn't have to choose to activate it.

By next year, new versions of operating systems used by 97% of smartphones in the USA will have a kill switch, which lets an owner remotely deactivate a stolen smartphone.

But many of them will require the user to activate, or "opt-in," the technology. Apple's kill switch puts the onus on individuals, as does technology from Google and Microsoft.

That's not good enough.

Standardization is the most sensible course because smartphone thefts show no signs of slowing down. About 3.1 million smartphone-related thefts were reported last year in the U.S., double the number in 2012, according to Consumer Reports.

"Because kill switches are only available on an opt-in basis, not enough consumers are signing up," according to a report on new crime statistics released with the Google/Microsoft announcement. "This underscores the urgency of (our) call to make kill switches a standard opt-out function on all phones."

A bill, from California state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, would require every smartphone maker to have a kill switch.

Still, there is sharp disagreement over what is best for consumers. Leno and others insist opt-out is best because most users will defer to the default mode. Others, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, say consumers should be free to choose whether they want to use the feature.

Kill switch security has led to steep declines in smartphone thefts here and in New York and London. Standardization of that technology is the next logical step.
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 10:51 AM 06-22-2014
TV Review
‘Falling Skies,’ Season Four (TNT)
By Jon Swartz, USA Today - Jun. 19, 2014

The creative roller-coaster ride that is “Falling Skies” opens season four on a downward arc, as the TNT series goes a little gaga with its alien-invasion metaphors, including Hitler Youth-like camps to re-educate younger prisoners. While the show picked up considerable momentum in its last go-round — and remains perfectly watchable popcorn fare — the notion of dueling alien constituencies, with one friendly to the humans, risks spinning “Skies” off its axis. Noah Wyle’s sturdy Everyman, who frets about his extended brood, remains extremely valuable in grounding the show, but for all the Skitters he’s dispatched, even he can’t overcome the show’s camp factor.

Suffice it to say whatever gains the human insurgency scored — with help from another alien force, the Volm — are pretty quickly erased, scattering the members of the central group while setting up new dangers. That includes leaving some incarcerated and others to battle on, demonstrating that even the invaders (yep, those not-so-affectionately-named Skitters) — when one is captured — can be subjected to harsh-interrogation techniques.

Exec producers David Eick and Greg Beeman (who wrote and directed the premiere, respectively) admittedly face a delicate balancing act, creating a formidable enemy while at the same time trying to make the humans’ guerrilla warfare tactics appear to have a fighting chance. But now that Wyle’s Tom and his new wife Ann (Moon Bloodgood) have a baby daughter who grew to adulthood remarkably quickly and possesses strange powers, well, the train to silly town appears to have left the station.

To its credit, the Amblin-produced show has rebounded from narrative stumbles before, and strictly on an action level, has become more enjoyable, parlaying its success into better and more generous special effects. The series also promises an infusion of guests, among them Mira Sorvino as a potential love interest for perpetually cranky wiseass John Pope (Colin Cunningham).

TNT has been extremely shrewd about scheduling “Skies” in friendly fashion — using scads of promotion during the male-viewer-heavy NBA basketball playoffs, and, in this latest flight, pairing it with another testosterone-fueled series, the Michael Bay-produced “The Last Ship.”

Based on the first few hours, then, it would be premature to suggest the sky is falling. But as the producers labor to manage and advance all the show’s moving parts, they appear to have lost a couple of battles. Let’s just hope that doesn’t bode ill for the larger war.

'Falling Skies,' Season Four
(TNT, Sun. June 22, 10 p.m.)
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 10:58 AM 06-22-2014
TV Review
‘CeeLo’s The Good Life,’ not so much
Singer could well be having a good time with his pals
By Tom Conroy, Media Life Magazine - Jun. 19, 2014

Usually when a celebrity agrees to do one of those supposedly behind-the-scenes reality shows, it’s a sign of desperation, an attempt to raise one’s profile or regain lost goodwill.

After his time as a judge on “The Voice” and his hit singles as a solo artist and member of Gnarls Barkley, the singer CeeLo Green has no need to star in a celebreality show. But the other three members in his original hip-hop group, Goodie Mob, could use some exposure. So we could give CeeLo the benefit of the doubt and say he’s doing it for his friends.

Unfortunately, the show burns through our tolerance fast.

Like most recent celebreality shows, it throws reality to the wind and instead sets up purportedly humorous scenarios in which the participants prove that they’re not very good at ad-libbing.

All four Goodie Mob members are likable and could shine in a scripted sitcom or a real documentary. But the tiresome story lines on this show try our patience.

In the premiere episode, airing on TBS this Monday at 10:30 p.m., CeeLo prepares to throw out the first pitch at an L.A. Dodgers game. Meanwhile, he and his bandmates start a car service that only employs attractive young women as drivers. They finish with a supposedly crucial performance at the local House of Blues.

In the first fake-feeling moment, the band happens to run into the singer and songwriter Eric Benét, who warns CeeLo that if he fails to reach the plate when throwing the pitch, it could be “career suicide.”

So CeeLo heads to a baseball field to practice pitching while his bandmate Big Gipp does play-by-play over the PA. Later, a Little League team comes by the field, and the team’s pitcher gives CeeLo some pointers that seem to have been written by an adult. “The secret is, don’t aim for the mitt,” the kid says. “Aim for the nuts.”

The car-service plot must be totally fake. The band members interview prospective drivers by CeeLo’s pool. One woman says she’s excellent at texting and driving.

The women prove to be unreliable employees. One girl supposedly called in and said she couldn’t work because she was getting a pap smear.

CeeLo’s favorite driver appears to be running late when it’s time for the band to go to the House of Blues show. Her excuse should be funnier than it is.

In any case, few people in the viewing audience will believe that a gig in such a small venue is that important for the band.

The story lines in the two other episodes that were provided for review are equally weak. On a trip to their hometown of Atlanta, the band’s manager, Larry, books CeeLo to do stand-up in a local comedy club.

After a lunch in which Larry forces CeeLo to stick to his diet, the band does a radio interview. When the other band members get jealous because the DJ directs all the questions at CeeLo, they torment him by snacking in the studio.

In Las Vegas, CeeLo decides that he wants to promote his new show, “Loberace,” by jumping on the back of a tiger. When he sees a real tiger close up, he decides that isn’t such a good idea.

Gipp has to make the other band members, T-mo and Khujo, go out and buy stage-worthy clothes for the show. They decide to go for a drive on the Strip in a Lamborghini convertible instead.

Fans of CeeLo and/or Goodie Mob would presumably have a high tolerance — if not a taste — for this silliness, but they would also probably appreciate hearing some of the performers’ music. They’ll get precious little.

“The Good Life” isn’t exactly contemptuous of those fans, but they still might feel as if CeeLo were telling them, “Forget you!”
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 03:02 AM 06-23-2014
TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
MONDAY 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 - The Bachelorette (120 min.)
10:01PM - Mistresses
* * * *
11:35PM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Zach Braff; Jenna Dewan Tatum; St. Paul & the Broken Bones performs)
12:37AM - Nightline

8PM - 2 Broke Girls
(R - Jan. 13)
8:30PM - Mom
(R - Nov. 25)
9PM - Mike & Moly
(R - Mar. 10)
9:30PM - Two and a Half Men
(R - Mar. 13)
10PM - Under the Dome: Inside Chester's Mill (Special)
* * * *
11:35AM - Late Show with David Letterman (Adam Levine; Gen. Frank J. Grass; Broken Bells performs)
12:37AM - The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Kathy Bates; journalist Joel Stein)

8PM - Last Comic Standing
(R - Jun. 19)
9PM - American Ninja Warrior (120 min.)
* * * *
11:34PM - The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (Journalist Brian Williams; Christina Hendricks; chef Ilan Hall)
(R - Apr. 21)
12:36AM - Late Night with Seth Meyers (Hugh Jackman; Kevin Nealon; Ali Wong)
(R - May 22)
1:37AM - Last Call with Carson Daly (Bret McKenzie; Jenny O performs; author Michael Malice)
(R - Mar. 19)

8PM - MasterChef
9PM - 24: Live Another Day

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Antiques Roadshow: Vintage Tampa
9PM - Antiques Roadshow: Vintage Atlanta
(R - Jul. 9, 2012)
10PM - POV: When I Walk (Season Premiere, 90 min.)

8PM - De Que Te Quiero, Te Quiero
9PM - Lo Que la Vida Me Robó
10PM - Qué Pobres Tan Ricos

8PM - Whose Line Is It Anyway?
8:30PM - Whose Line Is It Anyway?
(R - Apr. 18)
9PM - Beauty and The Beast

8PM - La Impostora
9PM - En Otra Piel
10PM - El Señor de Los Cielos

11PM - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Bill Maher)
11:31PM - The Colbert Report (Author John Green)
12:01AM - @ Midnight (Jason Nash; Busy Philipps; Andy Daly)

11PM - Conan (Rapper Ice-T; Whitney Cummings; Body Count performs)

11PM - Chelsea Lately (Kevin Hart)

dad1153's Avatar dad1153 03:11 AM 06-23-2014
No political comments, please.

Critic's Notes
A Novel Lays Bare Media Ills
Michael Hastings’s ‘Last Magazine’ Shows War as Career Opportunity
By Jon Swartz, USA Today - Jun. 19, 2014

At first glance, “The Last Magazine: A Novel” by Michael Hastings would appear to lack relevance in the current media age. A fictional account of life inside a failed magazine — Newsweek — in a dying industry — print — written by a now-dead journalist, the book seems very much beside the point. And the march of history aside, does the world need another roman à clef from inside the world of Manhattan media, whose bottomless interest in itself is not generally shared by the public?

But even from the grave Mr. Hastings has demonstrated anew an ability to reframe the debate. The novel, exhumed by his spouse after his death and published last week, reads as vivid archaeology that reveals much about the present moment.

The book seems eerily relevant in part because it arrived the same week it became clear that while America was done with Iraq, Iraq is not done with America, not by a long shot.

The novel begins when its main character, Michael Hastings, gets a job as an intern in 2002, just as the media tom-toms of battle are rising. “There’s war in the backdrop, looming and distant and not real for most of these characters, myself included,” he writes in a dose of self-indictment.

Things changed for Mr. Hastings — the person, not the book character — after he went to cover the war in Iraq for Newsweek, and then, most notably, when he profiled Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top American commander in Afghanistan, for Rolling Stone in 2010. The article used intimate access to expose the cynicism and ambition of the general and his staff, and General McChrystal was forced to step down.

Some establishment journalists cried foul even as Mr. Hastings won a Polk award, suggesting he did not play by the rules. Those rules suggest that we always know more than we tell our readers and collaborate with our sources even as we cover them. (Writing in New York magazine three weeks ago, Frank Rich suggested that Mr. Hastings’s book was a sharp rebuke to the commenting class.)

That may be why politicians and journalists are now neck and neck in a race to the bottom of public trust. According to a poll released by Gallup last week, fewer than a quarter of news consumers trust what they read, watch or click on, a historic low.

Mr. Hastings’s book comes on the heels of last year’s “This Town,” by my New York Times colleague Mark Leibovich, which vividly described how the media has traded its independence for access and become one more part of a suspect apparatus.

As Iraq has reminded us this month, when we climb on board and yield our skepticism, the lies we tell ourselves and then our readers can come in for a big beating. Wars are rationalized, nonexistent weapons of mass destruction become pretext for action, and quagmires are rendered in victorious terms.

Much has changed since the period Mr. Hastings chronicles, most notably that the audience has fled established print outlets and suspicion of government has soared. The notion that a magazine of all things is central to the national discourse seems quaint, and the country will no longer be lulled to sleep by talk of quick, winnable wars.

The public is less prone to the allure of Great Men pontificating from inside a magazine, the television or behind a lectern at a news conference. The jig is up.

In Mr. Hastings’s book, even as the protagonist strives to become what he despises — a big-deal magazine writer — he realizes that soon enough it will all go away. “I feel like I’m a blacksmith in the days of Henry Ford’s assembly line, an apprentice scroll writer in the months following Gutenberg’s great invention, or a poet in 1991,” he writes.

Amid the self-seeking people at the magazine — with many hands on a greasy pole of advancement composed of book sales, cable segments and cocktail chatter — the making of war is just one more career opportunity. Finger to the wind, the men who run the place send squads of underlings and assistants scurrying for pillows, lunches and research on the coming conflict for their large thoughts for The Magazine, which is what Mr. Hastings calls Newsweek.

The milieu of the book paints a picture of a treehouse where like minds connive and look for an opening. But far below them, there is the sound of sawing — steady and implacable. The tree will fall. The insurgents — in media, in Iraq, in the world at large — are on the march and a privileged perch is no longer assured.

The emperors, as it turned out, had no clothes, and now they have no kingdom. Newsweek withered, was sold for a dollar, was revived, sold, revived again, all while hemorrhaging money. Newsmagazines sell less than half of what they did on newsstands in 2008, and their ability to start (or end) conversations by their choice of cover subjects is never coming back.

The national pulse, once embodied by the appearance of the Beatles or Steve Jobs on magazine covers on the newsstand, is now something that is measurable in seconds by what is trending on the web. In that context, “The Last Magazine” is a portrait of cartoon excess, with its hefty car-service bills, grave self-import and conjured-up news hierarchies.

There is still some great magazine journalism going on — Mr. Hastings’s McChrystal piece among them — but for the most part magazines have become just one more channel of data.

It is a reminder that the cocksureness of the ruling class is a reflection not of wisdom but aggrandizement. The fact that many of the political architects of the failed war are back on cable pontificating about what needs to happen now tells you all need to know.

“No one ever accuses America of being a nation of historians,” Mr. Hastings writes. “Our impressions over the long run are formed by a few vivid pictures and a tagline.”

For the Iraq war, the iconic image is President George W. Bush speaking in front of a “Mission Accomplished” banner just weeks after the invasion began. Many in the media went along with the conceit, including myself at one point. More than a decade later, the mission in Iraq is continuing and far from accomplished.

But as Mr. Hastings points out in “The Last Magazine,” being a nimble member of the media means almost never having to say you’re sorry. “We captured Saddam,” one editor tells another in the book. It is always “we” when victory is at hand, and always “they” when the marble rolls off the table.

Journalism is a blunt instrument, a sometimes ugly business in which Mr. Hastings occasionally finds himself implicated. “In my defense, I’d like to point out that we at The Magazine are always doing unseemly things, always taking people’s experiences and actions and desires and totally mangling them for our purposes.”

To wit, there have been those who suggested Mr. Hastings’s mysterious and tragic death at age 33 showed he was too honest for a world where the truth is overwhelmed by careerism and propaganda. In truth I have no idea why his car ended up smashed into a palm tree in Los Angeles in the early morning hours of June 18 a year ago. I just know he left something remarkable behind.

Last week, I published a column about the failure of the news media to pay sufficient attention to the Virginia primary in which the House majority leader, Eric Cantor, was upset in stunning fashion. I implied that The Washington Post was among those who missed the story. In fact, less than a month before the primary, The Post published a front-page article noting that Mr. Cantor’s opponent was “gaining national attention as a potential threat to Cantor’s hold on his solidly Republican, suburban district.” There was other relevant coverage as well. Contrary to what I wrote, it’s clear The Post provided important reporting on the story.
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 03:15 AM 06-23-2014
TV Notes
FX makes a political power play in 'Tyrant'
By Bill Keveney, USA Today's 'Live Feed' Blog - Jun. 22, 2014

An American TV series set in the turbulent Middle East is abundant with possibility — and rife with risk.

FX's Tyrant (Tuesdays, 10 ET/PT) seeks footing in that uncertain terrain, exploring the politics of autocratic power and festering opposition as an Americanized pediatrician reluctantly returns to his fictional homeland, Abbudin, and finds his ruling family in crisis.

From the recent Arab Spring to today's conflict in Iraq, events in the Middle East make up "the most volcanic story of our time," executive producer Howard Gordon (24, Homeland) says. "To set a story, however fictionally, in that part of the world, is a challenge, maybe an insane one, but (one) I couldn't resist."

Rich dramatic opportunities aside, the 10-episode Tyrant, which is being shot in Israel (though the pilot episode was produced in Morocco), asks whether American viewers, who traditionally favor domestic settings, will watch a show set in a faraway land.

It also must contend with objections from those who fear stereotypes. After a screening last week, Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, wrote that the pilot episode presents "Arab Muslim culture (as) devoid of any redeeming qualities​."

Gordon, who has been consulting with Muslim organizations, asks for patience in assessing the series.

"I completely understand the sensitivity and we've tried to be as sensitive as we can be, but at the same time, I think it's a little like watching The Sopranos and saying, 'All Italians are murdering adulterers,' " he says. "I would assure them that denigrating Muslim culture or Islam is the last thing we intend to do."

In Tyrant, Bassam "Barry" Al-Fayeed (Adam Rayner) returns to Abbudin after 20 years of self-imposed exile. He brings his American wife, Molly (Jennifer Finnigan), and their two California-raised children to his nephew's wedding.

After avoiding his past, Barry must navigate a difficult relationship with his father, the dictator Khaled, and his conflicted feelings about power and authority.

"He's both a very ordinary American family man and there's also this side of him that will always remain connected to his past, to the regime he grew up in," Rayner says. "He made a choice as a young man to side with the West, so to speak, and then finds out that the pull of the other side of him is ultimately stronger."

After a sudden decline in Khaled's health puts his elder son, Jamal (Ashraf Barhom), in control of the country, Barry's efforts to help his insecure brother, who uses rape and torture to exert power, are problematic, Rayner says. "The idea is that Barry begins to accumulate power for himself, just to help his brother to begin with. But how long can you have power and give it away to somebody else? History shows that not many people are able to do that."

The war-torn country, where opposition includes terrorists, is a "place where there are clearly no good answers, just the better bad choice," Gordon says. "Whether you're (24's) Jack Bauer, (Homeland's) Carrie Mathison or Barry Al-Fayeed, that's the stuff of really intriguing drama, when you're tested as human beings."

And the tyranny "is not just over a nation and over a people," he says. "There's a whole layer of meaning about the tyranny over family, between family members, and the tyranny we have over ourselves."

Molly is "like a window for the American audience," a foreigner entering a new world, says Finnigan. "She's just coming into this for the first time, even though she's been with this man for 19 years. She didn't know anything about what his life was before and the deep history and deep rifts that exist within the country and within his family. So, she's constantly questioning him and wanting to know more and be let in."

Barry and Molly "have a pretty good partnership at this point, but there is still a huge puzzle piece missing for her. He hasn't told her everything and he keeps things from her, often to protect her and sometimes because he's a very closed-off individual," she says. "I think she believes that if he could just confront his demons that there would be some sense of closure for him. But she doesn't know the whole story."

Molly and the couple's teenagers must adjust to a strange world where a short visit turns into an extended stay and their father seems to become a different person. Emma (Anne Winters), 17, and Sammy (Noah Silver), 16, view Abbudin differently on arrival, with Emma appalled by the ruling family's extravagance and Sammy exulting in the privilege and palace life.

"It's a very backward wish fulfillment," Finnigan says. "We always think about what our life would be like if one day everything changed. This is what happened to Molly. She thinks she's going on vacation and then all of a sudden she's moving into a palace and her husband is no longer a pediatrician but is now being inserted into the fabric of the politics of the country."

The corrupting nature of power, along with the belief that Western values are the right fit for a different culture, create hazards for Barry, Rayner says."Even if you really believe you are doing things for the greater good, if people continue to disagree with you, it's very difficult to say, 'OK, I won't do this.' The temptation to use stronger measures to get what you think is the right thing done must be very great."

That temptation doesn't stop at the palace door, he says. "The kind of loyalty and subservience that he's demanding from the people around him politically, he begins to also demand from his family. Given that they grew up in Pasadena and he was a very different man, this is going to result in problems."
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 03:25 AM 06-23-2014
TV Notes
41st Daytime Emmy Awards Final: Big Night For ‘Young and Restless’ With Best Drama, Much More
By The - Jun. 22, 2014

It’s done, with The Young and the Restless the night’s big winner, scooping up the big one, for outstanding drama series, along with five others, for “Special-Class Special” (an hour-long tribute to the late Jeanne Cooper, who appeared on the show for four decades); lead actor in a drama (Billy Miller); younger actress in a drama (Hunter King); supporting actress in a drama (Amelia Henle); and writing team, drama. Separately, Venice the Series, won for best drama – new approaches, while Days of Our Lives picked up for supporting actor (Eric Martsolf); younger actror (Chandler Massey) ; and lead actress (Eileen Davidson).

Notable win in the daytime drama categories went to One Life to Live, which ended up online after its long run on broadcast TV ended. The show won for directing team, drama, one of six Emmys that One Life and All My Children, another broadcast veteran that ended up online, won this weekend (the creative categories, mostly for technical-side achievements, were handed out Friday).

It was also a very good night for Steve Harvey, who won for best game show host for Family Feud, and his Steve Harvey syndicated show for best talk show, informative. On top of that, Harvey was vacationing in Bali, rather than sitting in a hotel ballroom in a tuxedo on a beautiful summer day.

Three Spanish-language categories were included for the first time, including winners for Morning Program (Un Nuevo Dia); Entertainment Program (Clix) and Daytime Talent (Rodner Figueroa, one of four nominated from El Gordo Y La Flaca). Here’s the full list in order:

Eric Martsolf, Days of Our Lives

Amelia Heinle, The Young and the Restless

The Mind of a Chef

Bobby Flay, Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction

The People’s Court”

Steve Harvey, Family Feud

TIE: Dr. Mehmet Oz, The Dr. Oz Show and Katie Couric, Katie

The Young and the Restless

One Life to Live

Hunter King, The Young and the Restless

Chandler Massey, Days of Our Lives

Steve Harvey

Rodner Figueroa, El Gordo Y La Flaca

The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Good Morning America

Un Nuevo Dia


The Young and the Restless: The Jeanne Cooper Tribute


TIE: Entertainment Tonight and Extra

The Young and the Restless Daytime Emmys 2LEAD ACTOR, DRAMA
Billy Miller, The Young and the Restless

Eileen Davidson, Days of Our Lives

Venice The Series

The Young and the Restless
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 03:36 AM 06-23-2014
Critic's Notes
Vulture TV Awards: The Year’s Best Network Is FX
By Josef Adalian, (New York Magazine) - Jun. 19, 2014

All this week, we’re presenting our Vulture TV Awards, honoring the best things television had to offer in the past year. We’ve already singled out Amy Schumer, Julianna Margulies, and others actors for their solid performances, and gave props to director Cary Fukunaga for a particularly wonderful scene from True Detective. Up next: Best Network, as selected by Vulture’s TV-industry guru, Josef Adalian, and it goes to a cable channel celebrating its 20th anniversary this month.

There’s no question which network had the biggest audience last season: CBS. The only TV outlet to regularly pull in more than 10 million viewers each week, the Eye easily out-rated its dozens and dozens of broadcast and cable rivals. But while audience reach is important in TV, and CBS certainly made lots of money, the network was hardly the success story of the past season. Just the opposite, in some ways: Almost all of its returning shows suffered double-digit viewership declines, none of its new series broke out in a big way, and it fell to third place in the valuable demo of adults under 50. We mention all this not to rub salt in CBS’s wounds — it remains a hugely successful and profitable network, envied by many — but to underscore why success in TV isn’t just about who’s biggest, as important as raw Nielsen numbers are. Momentum matters (is a network on the upswing or headed down?), having a wide variety of hits can be crucial, and in a world of endless program choices, buzz is increasingly important (if sometimes overvalued). Below, Vulture has selected the three networks we think had exceptional seasons when judged (subjectively!) on the aforementioned factors. These are not the networks with the most viewers or biggest profit margins. They’re just networks that had really good years. And we start with the network that had the best year of all.


For a long time, Rupert Murdoch’s general-entertainment cable network often found itself being described as “the HBO of basic cable,” thanks to critic-friendly fare such as The Shield or edgy stuff like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. But in the past year or two, FX has fully shed any reputation of being HBO Lite and evolved into a creative force very much on the same level as its premium-cable rival. The breadth and quality of FX fare these days is staggering when you think about it. The network has crowd-pleasing rating blockbusters that rank among cable’s 25 most-watched shows (Sons of Anarchy, American Horror Story, Justified). Two of its youngest dramas, The Americans and the limited series Fargo, are regularly touted by critics as ranking among the finest shows on all of TV (with the love for Fargo reaching epic levels with this week’s finale). Another new drama, last summer’s The Bridge, hasn’t generated quite the same critical hysteria, but its overall audience still put it among cable’s 50 biggest original series last year. On the comedy front, meanwhile, Louie is adored and debated (if not watched by that many people), while the animated Archer is one of cable’s biggest young-adult magnets. And while FX recently moved two of its biggest comedy hits — It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The League — to new sister network FXX, they’re still part of the larger FX Networks portfolio, and still adding the to FX bottom line (both creatively and financially).

Not everything is perfect at FX, of course. Comedy Legit was a noble failure, while Wilfred, wrapping this summer, never took off (but once it’s done, will have managed to stay on the air for a respectable four seasons). The network couldn’t crack late-night, even with a talent such as W. Kamau Bell. It’s also facing the loss of both Justified and Sons of Anarchy over the next year, depriving it of two major drama tentpoles. This is not a minor thing: As amazing as The Americans is, its audience is much smaller than those hits, with fewer than three million viewers watching most episodes (even including DVR data). Even The Bridge, while doing better than Americans, still reaches about half as many viewers as Sons. FX execs are not unaware of this, which is why this summer will see the launch of a pair of promising new dramas (the political thriller Tyrant and the Guillermo del Toro sci-fi thriller The Strain). And with Wilfred departing and Sunny now on FXX, the network is also rolling out two new comedies this summer (Married and You’re the Worst) and greenlit two more for next year (the Billy Crystal/Josh Gad–led The Comedians and, depending on the pace of his recovery, a Tracy Morgan half-hour). There’s no guarantee that all, or even any, of these new shows will work. But given FX’s track record in recent years, don’t bet against its hot streak continuing.



For the better part of a decade, NBC execs looking to resuscitate the plucked Peacock tried every strategy imaginable in pursuit of a turnaround: ambitious new business paradigms (“Let’s put Jay Leno at 10 p.m.!”), quirky comedies that made critics purr (30 Rock), budget-busting musicals from superstar producers (Smash). NBC was forever thinking outside the box; its ratings seemed forever doomed to decline. But then a funny thing happened on the way to oblivion: When the official TV season ended last month, the Peacock found itself solidly in first place among viewers under 50, the only one of the Big Four networks to add audience. Rather than achieving this milestone though some grand new strategy or bold idea, NBC climbed its way back to the top by going back to Broadcasting 101: ordering shows with broad-based appeal, populating them with charismatic actors, and then smartly scheduling them to take advantage of existing successes.

The Blacklist has become the poster child for the new NBC under boss Bob Greenblatt. It’s an old-fashioned, star-driven Bad Guy of the Week action show, with just enough serialized elements to keep things interesting for a generation used to fancier cable fare. Maybe James Spader will get an Emmy nomination because he’s James Spader, but the goal of the show is to hook viewers and not to get critics knelling. The meat-and-potatoes approach worked like gangbusters, with Blacklist becoming NBC’s most-watched entertainment show (ahead of even The Voice) after just one season. In fact, its weekly average audience of 15.4 million viewers is larger than any series on ABC or Fox, and all but three on CBS (NCIS, NCIS: LA and The Big Bang Theory).

NBC’s incredible year hasn’t been powered by just one show, however. The Dick Wolf drama Chicago Fire saw its already-solid ratings grow in season two, while instant spinoff Chicago PD is drawing a bigger crowd than Wolf’s long-running Law & Order: SVU on Wednesdays. The network has also worked overtime to keep The Voice fresh, balancing out the risky strategy of airing the show twice per year (it could burn out more quickly) with a regular rotation of new coaching talent. And Greenblatt’s been equally smart behind the scenes, wooing veteran scheduling guru Jeff Bader to bring some common-sense skills to the job of deciding when and how to roll out shows. Rather than constantly making wild moves in a bid to quickly juice up ratings, Bader and his team have tried to improve NBC’s schedule hour by hour and night by night, slowing improving time slots wherever they can. From top to bottom, adults now run the show at NBC.

None of this is to say the glory days are back at NBC, or that they’ll ever return. Network TV is getting more challenging every year, and the damage done by a decade of mismanagement has left the Peacock with wounds that may never heal (nothing has worked on the comedy front; new unscripted efforts have all been duds). Ratings gains next season will be harder without the Olympics, particularly if The Voice doesn’t see its recent ratings erosion halt. But for one season at last, NBC has gone from being TV’s biggest loser to its most impressive comeback story.

The CW
Nobody will ever confuse the little CW for a ratings juggernaut. Its overall audience is tiny compared to many cable networks, with even its biggest hits (Arrow, The Vampire Diaries) scoring ratings well below most broadcast shows and many cable ones as well. But suddenly, the CW seems to have just the slightest bit of momentum — at least in terms of generating buzz and developing shows with passionate fan bases. Building on the success of TVD from a few years ago, the CW has carved out a niche for itself with fantasy- and sci-fi-tinged shows such as The Originals, The 100, Beauty and the Beast, and the aforementioned Arrow. It’s also nurtured Supernatural, leading the decade-old series to grow nearly 20 percent last season — practically unheard of for a show its age. The secret to the CW’s success seems to be finding properties that appeal to the network’s core demo of women under 35, and yet also play well with their (hip) moms by not being too genre-y or geeky. That makes the CW’s shows less narrow than traditional sci-fi, and gives the network a bigger overall audience base. (See also: the CW Friday comedy Whose Line Is It Anyway, which brings in yet another kind of viewer to the network.)

The CW also seems poised to build on these small successes next season, with Arrow spinoff The Flash generating rave early reviews from those who’ve seen the pilot (though a great pilot does not a hit series make). And now that it’s mastered the genre show, the CW will take another shot at finding a long-needed successor to Gossip Girl with the intriguing telenovela-based Jane the Virgin. Yes, its overall audience is small, with just under 2 million viewers watching on average last season. But at a time when most broadcast (and many cable) networks are shrinking, that number actually represents a 7 percent uptick; among viewers under 50, the CW’s average is also inching up. The CW might not be a network on fire, but it’s hotter than it’s been in a long time.

* * * *

Critic's Notes
Vulture TV Awards: The Year’s Best Late-Night Moment Belongs to Stephen Colbert
By Jesse David Fox, (New York Magazine) - Jun. 19, 2014

We’re in the midst of our week-long Vulture TV Awards, honoring the best things television had to offer in the past year. We’ve already singled out Amy Schumer, Julianna Margulies, and others actors for their solid performances; given props to director Cary Fukunaga for a particularly wonderful scene from True Detective, and welcomed David Milch and Kurt Sutter as guest judges. Up next: Best Late-Night Moment, as selected by Vulture writer Jesse David Fox.

You may have noticed that it was an unusually eventful year in late-night. With all the changes, picking the best moments presents the opportunity to assert what late-night could and ultimately should look like. Though it is still undeniably dominated by middle-aged white men (R.I.P., Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell), late-night has diversified over the years in terms of its breadth of style and substance, as a survey of the many great moments that have aired in the past year reflects. Here’s a countdown of the seven best. [CLICK LINK AT BOTTOM TO SEE YOUTUBE CLIPS]

7. The Daily Show With Jon Stewart: Kristen Schaal Talks Sexy Halloween Costumes
No one has ever made Jon Stewart laugh on The Daily Show quite like Kristen Schaal. This bit is no exception. Though wildly funny, the bit stands out because it effectively sends up the absurdity of the "sexy ____" costumes and those who criticize women for wearing them. Also, once you see a giant vagina with a pizza on it, you'll never forget it.

6. The Late Show With David Letterman: Bill Murray Sings "I Will Always Love You"
This year Letterman announced his plan to retire from The Late Show, but also not long before that, he celebrated the CBS program’s 20th anniversary. To mark the occasion, Letterman welcomed back Bill Murray, the show's first guest. Murray sang "I Will Always Love You" because it topped the charts when The Late Show started. Though silly as hell, it truly captured the affection between two of comedy's greatest icons.

5. Jimmy Kimmel Live: Worst Twerk Fail EVER
I was out of the country when this happened, so I was able to see it at a distance. And though I understand the stunt must've been super-annoying to anyone who fell for it, the gag undeniably worked and was undeniably Kimmel. It's one thing to do a comedy bit about the internet and its blind-leading-the-blind nature — many people have attempted that — but it's another to satirize virality by successfully making a fake viral video go viral.

4. Late Night With Seth Meyers: “Second Chance Theatre”: Jennjamin Franklin
Very quickly after Seth Meyers took over Late Night, it became clear that his tenure was going to be very different from Jimmy Fallon's. Gone were the stabs at going viral; in their place was something more understated and comfortable, like a clubhouse for well-educated grown-ups. "Second Chance Theatre," a hopefully recurring bit, in which Meyers lets his old SNL castmates mount sketches that never made it on-air, is the epitome of the show’s new direction. On SNL, sketches work because they are good; on "Second Chance Theatre," sketches work because we're all friends.

3 (tie). Late Night With Jimmy Fallon: Lip-Sync Battle With Joseph Gordon-Levitt; The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: Lip-Sync Battle With Emma Stone
Fallon had done the lip-sync battle on his show before, but the ones he did with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emma Stone put his others to shame. If you prefer Gordon-Levitt over Stone, that's on you, but both are undeniably special.

2. The Tonight Show With Jay Leno: Jay Leno Says Good-bye
Just to be clear, this is not a joke; like, the best moment was that Leno finally left. It's incredible easy to make fun of the guy — particularly because that voice is easy to ape — but you can't ignore the fact the man has been on the air for more than two decades. His good-bye speech was both touching and lovely underlined the workmanlike attitude that Leno brought to the show, for better or worse, every night of the week.

1. The Colbert Report: Daft Punk'd
When it was announced that Stephen Colbert was going to take over The Late Show, I wrote a piece that now reads almost like eulogy for "Stephen Colbert" the character, whom I consider one of the, if not the, greatest comedic characters created for and by TV.

"Colbert cared so much about this character that he was willing to share a life with him," I wrote, and a few sentences later, I highlighted the moment that tops this list:

"Sometimes it felt like the character was the Colbert he wanted to be, like during the whole Daft Punk malarkey, when a defiant and entitled 'Colbert' ruthlessly mocked his parent company. This mix of biography and complete commitment resulted in something totally unlike anything that had ever been on television."

Now, almost a year later, that series still pops. Apolitical, it feels like where Colbert the comedian and "Colbert" the blowhard meet. Sure, he was in character, but it was the most genuine moment in late-night this year. It was the best. So, congrats, Stephen Colbert and "Stephen Colbert." Now it's time to dance.
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 03:40 AM 06-23-2014
TV Notes
How the gay marriage ban got ban
'Case Against 8' follows the couples in the landmark decision
By Louisa Ada Seltzer, Media Life Magazine - Jun. 22, 2014

Over the past year, the fight both for and against gay marriage has taken a lot of turns, and it arguably began with the overturning of California’s Prop 8, which banned same-sex unions.

The documentary “The Case Against 8,” airing tonight at 8 p.m. on HBO, examines the journey toward the landmark Supreme Court decision that ruled the ban was unconstitutional.

In 2008, California’s supreme court ruled that gay marriage was constitutional, four years after same-sex couples began flocking to San Francisco to be wed. But later that year, voters in the state approved a proposition, Prop 8, that banned the practice.

Thus began a five-year legal battle over gay marriage, with a lesbian and a gay couple challenging the legality of the ban.

Last June the Supreme Court ruled for those plaintiffs, upholding a lower court decision invalidating the proposition.

Gay marriage continues to be a divisive issue in the country, though more so along generational lines than political ones. A recent Washington Post-ABC poll found that 59 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, but that rises to 75 percent among people under age 30.

The documentary has been receiving a lot of attention what with the one-year anniversary of the decision, though it’s unlikely to draw a huge audience on HBO, where Monday documentaries draw a few hundred thousand viewers at most

Still, it’s a prestige thing for the pay cable network, which attracts new subscribers by offering big-buzz programs that people want to see.
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 10:26 AM 06-23-2014
TV Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, - Jun. 23, 2014

ESPN, 12:00 p.m. ET

If yesterday’s USA vs. Portugal match didn’t prove to you that just about anything can happen at the World Cup, and often does, I don’t know what else to submit as Exhibit B. Both teams got to experience euphoric goals, and leads, and equally exhilarating game-tying rallies. And in the end, the US finds itself fighting to move on to the next stage, along with every other team in Group G. Meanwhile, the third and final games in all groups are played beginning today, when the teams in Group A and Group B battle to decide their respective fates. And for these last games, the schedules, and where to find the games on TV, are different. For this phase, games in each group are played simultaneously, so ESPN televises one game, while ESPN2 presents another. At noon ET, ESPN presents Netherlands vs. Chile, the two leaders from Group B, with both teams already guaranteed to move on to the round of 16. Then, at 4 p.m. ET, ESPN presents Croatia vs. Mexico, a much more meaningful game from Group A: Brazil and Mexico lead the group with 4 points, but Croatia has 3, and a win would guarantee Croatia a stunning trip to the next round.

ESPN 2, 12:00 p.m. ET

The reason these final group stage games are being played at the same time is so teams can’t use the knowledge of their changing standings to influence how, and even whom, they play. It’s a wonderful idea – but in the age of smartphones and other instant-info technology, if one Group A game is a rout, wouldn’t that news “leak” in plenty of time to coaches at the other Group A game site? Just asking. Meanwhile, here are the games you can see today on ESPN2. First up, at noon ET, is Australia vs. Spain from Group B. Both teams have lost their first two games, and have no chance to advance, so they’re playing, as they say, for pride and country. Then, at 4 p.m. ET, is a game that has much more meaning: World Cup host Brazil plays Cameroon in Group A. Cameroon, with two losses and an embarrassing goal differential of -5, has no shot at advancing, but Brazil’s future, though it leads Group A, is far from certain. If Brazil wins, it’s on to the round of 16. A draw, and it’s probably in, unless there’s a very lopsided score in the other match. But a loss, and, most likely, the host country will stop its journey here – and if you thought there were riots in Brazil before the games, wait until what happens if the team falls this early in the tournament.

Fox, 9:00 p.m. ET

Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) has had plenty of bad days over the run of 24, but President Heller (William Devane) just had his worst one. Now what?

HBO, 9:00 p.m. ET

This new HBO documentary looks at the pair of same-sex couples who fought, all the way to and through the Supreme Court, arguing that California’s Proposition 8, which denied marriage equality, was unconstitutional. The filmmakers were there every step of the way, making for a long, arduous journey through the legal system – and the media gauntlet.

CBS, 10:00 p.m. ET

Last summer, this CBS series, based on Stephen King’s story, was the surprise hit of the season. And not just the summer season, either – it ended up drawing more viewers than any scripted series by the broadcast networks all season long. It returns next week for Season 2, with a season opener written by King himself. And as prelude, CBS offers this special, which summarizes Season 1 and gives a sneak peek at things to come.
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 10:27 AM 06-23-2014
SUNDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insight's Blog
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 10:30 AM 06-23-2014
Nielsen Notes
So-so start for ABC’s ‘Rising Star’
New singing competition bows to a 1.5 in 18-49s
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - Jun. 18, 2014

ABC’s “Rising Star” got off to an okay start last night, at least according to the first batch of Nielsen data.

The true performance of the show won’t be clear until later today, when time zone-adjusted fast nationals are released, since “Star” airs live across every time zone and fast nationals don’t take time zones into account.

But early numbers suggest a so-so showing for the singing competition, which averaged a 1.4 adults 18-49 rating from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., according to Nielsen overnights. (Note: Updated numbers will be posted when they become available.)

That was good for second place in the timeslot, against tougher-than-usual competition from NBC, which aired a special episode of hit reality show “America’s Got Talent” last night in an effort to blunt “Star.”

“Talent” averaged a 2.1 during the same time frame, though “Star” did win on another measure: Twitter mentions.

The program generated 129,071 tweets, or more than double “Talent.” ABC has been pushing the program as a highly social show, with more than 1 million downloads of its free “Star” app during last night’s show.

Elsewhere last night, the season premiere of “Wipeout” fell 23 percent from last summer, posting a 1.0, its lowest-ever bow. That came in a new, earlier timeslot, though, airing from 7 to 9 p.m.

NBC led the night among 18-49s with a 1.4 average overnight rating and a 4 share. ABC was second at 1.3/4, Univision third at 1.1/3, Fox fourth at 0.9/3, and CBS and Telemundo tied for fifth at 0.4/1.

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.

Univision started the night in the lead with a 1.7 at 7 p.m. for the end of World Cup soccer, followed by ABC with a 0.8 for “Wipeout.” CBS was third with a 0.5 for “60 Minutes.” NBC and Fox tied for fourth at 0.4, NBC for a repeat of “American Ninja Warrior” and Fox for “Enlisted” (0.3) and a repeat of “American Dad” (0.4), and Telemundo was sixth with a 0.3 for the movie “La Misma Luna.”

ABC took the lead at 8 p.m. with a 1.2 for more “Wipeout,” while NBC and Fox tied for second at 1.0, NBC for more “Warrior” and Fox for reruns of “The Simpsons.” Univision was fourth with a 0.9 for “Bailando por un Sueño,” Telemundo fifth with a 0.4 for its movie and CBS sixth with a 0.3 for a repeat of “Elementary.”

At 9 p.m. NBC was first with a 1.9 for “Talent,” with ABC second with a 1.5 for “Star.” Fox was third with a 1.2 for repeats of “Family Guy” and “Dad,” Univision fourth with a 0.9 for more “Bailando,” Telemundo fifth with a 0.5 for the first half of the movie “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” and CBS sixth with a 0.4 for a rerun of “The Good Wife.”

NBC increased its lead at 10 p.m. with a 2.2 for more “Talent,” followed again by ABC with a 1.5 for more “Star.” Univision was third with a 0.8 for “Sal y Pimienta,” Telemundo fourth with a 0.6 for its movie and CBS fifth with a 0.5 for a repeat of “The Mentalist.”

Among households, NBC was first for the night with a 3.1 average overnight rating and a 6 share. CBS was second at 2.8/5, ABC third at 2.4/4, Univision fourth at 1.4/3, Fox fifth at 1.1/2 and Telemundo sixth at 0.5/1.
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 10:46 PM 06-23-2014
TV Notes
Gordon Ramsay Pulling the Plug on ‘Kitchen Nightmares’
By Jethro Nededog, - Jun. 23, 2014

Gordon Ramsay is quitting the restaurant makeover business and will stop producing “Kitchen Nightmares.”

“As filming comes to a close on the latest series of Kitchen Nightmares I've decided to stop making the show,” Ramsay announced Monday on his official website.

“Kitchen Nightmares” debuted on the UK's Channel 4 in 2004 and then an American adaptation premiered on Fox in 2007.

He continued, “I'm currently filming four new episodes, Costa Del Nightmares, for Channel 4 which will be my last. I've had a phenomenal 10 years making 123 episodes, 12 seasons, shot across two continents, watched by tens of millions of people and sold to over 150 countries. It's been a blast, but it's time to call it a day.”

A representative for Fox didn't immediately respond to the TheWrap's request for comment. In May, the Season 7 finale of “Kitchen Nightmares” scored a 0.9 rating/3 share among the advertiser-coveted Adults 18-49 demographic and only 2.4 million total viewers.

Without “Kitchen Nightmares,” Ramsay still has quite the packed schedule of other television shows with Fox, including “Hell's Kitchen,” “Master Chef,” “Master Chef Junior,” and “Hotel Hell,” which premieres on Monday, July 21.
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 10:51 PM 06-23-2014
Nielsen Notes (Cable)
Solid Ratings for TNT’s ‘Last Ship’; ‘Falling Skies’ Down
By Rick Kissell, - Jun. 23, 2014

Post-apocalyptic drama “The Last Ship” bowed to pretty good numbers Sunday for TNT, even as the net’s “Falling Skies” opened its fourth season with its lowest premiere scores to date.

Nielsen estimates that “Last Ship” averaged a 1.2 rating/4 share in adults 18-49, a 1.4/4 in adults 25-54 and 5.3 million total viewers for its 9 p.m. premiere, making it the top cable premiere of the summer in the key demos. In total viewers, it outdrew the series premiere of ABC’s music competition series “Rising Star” and ranks first among all 2014 cable premieres.

The 1.2 rating in 18-49 is the second highest drama bow of the past month, ahead of the likes of Fox’s “Gang-Related,” NBC’s “Crossbones,” AMC’s “Halt and Catch Fire” and ABC Family’s “Chasing Life.” NBC’s “The Night Shift,” which benefited from airing behind “America’s Got Talent,” opened to a 1.6 rating in late May.

Two weeks ago, TNT opened “Murder in the First” to a 0.64 rating in 18-49 and nearly 3.8 million viewers for its initial airing.

“Last Ship,” based on a novel of the same name, tells the story of a lone unaffected U.S. Navy ship following a global pandemic that wipes out 80% of the world’s population. Eric Dane and Rhona Mitra star

Following “Last Ship” on Sunday, the 10 p.m. season premiere of “Falling Skies” did a 1.0 rating/3 share in adults 18-49, a 1.3/3 in 25-54 and about 3.7 million total viewers. Last year’s two-hour, third-season premiere did a 1.5 rating in adults 18-49 and 4.21 million total viewers.

Counting a quickie repeat that aired at 11 p.m., “The Last Ship” drew 7.4 million total viewers on Sunday. And including its midnight encore, “Falling Skies” attracted 4.7 million.
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 10:57 PM 06-23-2014
TV Notes
AMC Renews 'Turn' for a Second Season
By Michael O'Connell, - Jun. 23, 2014

AMC is sticking with Turn.

The Revolutionary War drama, one of the cable network's two scripted debuts this year, has been renewed for a sophomore season.

Turn's addition to the 2015 schedule, where it will again air 10 episodes, comes just a few days after the network gave an early renewal to Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul. That drama will now debut in 2015 as well.

Turn hasn't exactly lit up the ratings charts, but it has been a very consistent performer for AMC as its roster of originals shrinks. Breaking Bad wrapped last year, and Mad Men comes to a close in 2015 with just seven more episodes left to air. The first season of Turn averaged 2 million viewers an episode.

"Craig Silverstein, Barry Josephson and a talented cast and crew delivered a truly distinctive and engaging premiere season. We look forward to continuing this revolutionary journey into season two," said AMC president Charlie Collier. "AMC and its creative partners have a track record of nurturing programs we collectively believe in, patiently growing viewership and engagement over time. With Turn, once again, we dive in with our partners to build upon this very promising first season."

Turn's performance wouldn't have necessarily guaranteed a renewal in years past, but AMC's smaller stable hardly makes it a surprise. The only other scripted series on the network with an unknown future at the moment is recent debut Halt and Catch Fire. Just four weeks in, the ratings have been relatively anemic after 1.2 million tuned into the premiere, but a decision is likely a ways off.

Based on Alexander Rose's book Washington's Spies, Turn, from Nikita's Silverstein, is executive produced by Josephson. It's set during the summer of 1778, and centers on a New York farmer (Jamie Bell) who bands together with a group of childhood friends to form the Culper Ring, a network of spies who turn the tide in America's fight for independence. AMC Studios produces.
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 11:06 PM 06-23-2014
Technology Notes
Microsoft offers $650 to MacBook Air owners who swap to Surface Pro 3
By Tom Warren, - Jun. 23, 2014

After offering $200 for an iPhone or iPad, Microsoft is back with another promotion designed to tempt Apple hardware owners over to its own devices. This time it’s the Surface Pro 3, "the tablet that can replace your laptop" according to Microsoft. The software giant is offering up to $650 when MacBook Air owners trade-in their laptops for a Surface Pro 3 between June 20th and July 31st.

A Microsoft spokesperson told The Verge that all models are eligible for the promotion, but the amount it will pay out varies on the specific model and its condition. The MacBook Air laptops must also be in working order and traded in to one of Microsoft's Stores in the US and Canada.

It’s no surprise that Microsoft is targeting the MacBook Air with its latest promotion. Surface chief Panos Panay spent a large amount of time during the Surface Pro 3 press event comparing it to the MacBook Air in terms of weight and thinness. Microsoft truly believes its latest model can replace a laptop, and it’s positioned directly to compete with Apple’s MacBook Air. Microsoft’s latest offer follows a similar offer from earlier this year when the company targeted PS3 owners with $100 to trade-in for an Xbox One.
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 11:09 PM 06-23-2014
Business/Legal Notes
Will A Federal Court Clear The Way For Unbundled Pay TV?
By David Lieberman, - Jun. 23, 2014

Investors and consumer groups will be watching for just such a possibility following U.S. District Court decision Friday to let Cablevision pursue an antitrust claim against Viacom. More than a year ago the cable company charged that it was improperly forced to carry 14 channels it didn’t want (including Palladia and Tr3s) in order to offer eight that it did. Viacom asked the court to dismiss the complaint, saying that Cablevision failed to make a prima facie case that its bundles violated antitrust law. But Judge Laura Swain said there were enough facts to “support plausibly an inference of anticompetitive effects.” Although far from a definitive ruling, the decision to let the case proceed “was not a given, so it was a victory for Cablevision,” Guggenheim Partners’ Paul Gallant says today.

If Cablevision prevails, the case could rock Big Media. Most of the top content companies’ business models depend on their ability to require pay TV distributors and their customers to pay for channels they don’t want. If the court says that’s illegal, then “that could feed into the nascent Telecom Act rewrite — or perhaps a narrower bill updating the 1992 Cable Act — in an unwelcome way for content companies,” Gallant says.

But the case could take more than a year to approach a verdict. Viacom appears ready to fight: Cablevision wants to “renege on a long-term business agreement, using arguments directly contrary to positions it has taken in other cases and to its own business practices,” the company says. It adds that it’s confident that “Cablevision will fail to prove the facts required to prevail in their case.” CEO Philippe Dauman said last year, “I guess their theory would be: ‘We got the discount, we got three suits for the price of two. Now we just want one suit for the same price.’ … The bottom line is, I guess the lawyers will get rich on this.”

The cable company, for its part, calls the channel bundling “illegal, anti-consumer, and wrong.” The judge will set a schedule for the case on August 1.
dad1153's Avatar dad1153 11:15 PM 06-23-2014
TV Sports
Nielsen and comScore Can’t Tell You How Many People Streamed USA’s World Cup Tie With Portugal
By Mike Shields, Wall Street Journal's 'CMO Today' Blog - Jun. 23, 2014

It’s becoming clear the World Cup is a hit on U.S. television this year, judging from huge ratings for Sunday night’s riveting game between the U.S. and Portugal. But if advertisers want an impartial estimate of how many people streamed the game online, they’re out of luck.

That’s because neither comScore nor Nielsen–the two biggest companies in third party audience research for the Web– tracked the online audience. While both firms occasionally provide timely data on online viewership for live events (like say President Obama’s inauguration), neither regularly track that sort of thing.

That highlights a reality about the Web: despite how fast online video has grown over the last few years, and all the ad dollars that are pouring into the medium, there’s no third party measure of online video audiences either in real time, or even overnight time.

The best anyone can do is ask ESPN and Univision, which are delivering it online as well as on TV. For its part, ESPN reported that its mobile/tablet application WatchESPN set a record with Sunday’s match by averaging 490,000 viewers during an average minute (the closest thing to a TV rating). Overall, ESPN says the game reached a total of 1,373,000 viewers on WatchESPN.

Meanwhile, Univision reported that the USA vs. Portugal match nabbed 825,000 viewers and generated 1.5 million views, landing it among the top ten most watched live streams in the company’s history.

Still, since when do advertisers take a media company’s word for it when it comes to reporting their audience? Sure, most outlets like ESPN use data from analytics companies like Adobe Analytics to supply their video audience numbers. But a third party researcher might come up with different numbers, depending on the methodology ESPN or Univision’s analytics partners use to combine audiences from multiple devices, for example.

The reason brands have always pushed for third party research on media audiences is the comfort and safety an objective expert provides. A perfect example is the different sets of numbers provided by ESPN (which focused on minute-by-minute audience for the game on Watch ESPN) and Univision (which reported viewers but emphasized raw view numbers in its press release).

Privately, executives in the media world say they’d like Nielsen or comScore to take the lead on this.

To be fair, the USA/Portugal match aired on a Sunday night at 6:00 p.m. EST–an ideal night to watch the game at home for many Americans. So it probably wasn’t going to set streaming records–unlike say, Team USA’s next game,which will take place smack in the middle of a workday on Thursday at noon EST. And since online video is so often an on-demand medium, and live events aren’t the dominant form of programming, brands may not be asking about these numbers.

But for a medium that is trying to prove its worth, and it’s “readiness for prime time” so to speak, it striking how little timely audience data is available.

This all contributes to Web video coming across as ‘less than’ television, at least in the perception race. People love talking about box office numbers and TV ratings–even for shows and movies they don’t care about. It’s great fodder for the press and cocktail parties. And talk of big audiences theoretically creates sex appeal for advertisers. Yet somehow, Web video measurement seems miles behind TV.
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