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HDTV Programming

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Summer TCA Tour Notes
ABC's 'Black-ish' finds new shades of comedy
By Bill Keveney, USA Today - Jul. 15, 2014

BEVERLY HILLS — Success raises its own quandaries for an African-American father on a new ABC comedy, Black-ish (Sept. 24).

Andre "Dre" Johnson (Anthony Anderson, Law & Order), a successful business executive, loving husband and proud father of four, worries that he may be giving his children too much and that his family may be losing touch with its cultural identity.

Stars and producers, speaking to writers at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour, said they didn't have to go far to find stories for the TV family. Anderson related a conversation with his son, then 12, who has been in private school since he was 4 and has had a much more privileged upbringing than he had in Compton, Calif.

"He said, 'Dad, I don't feel black,' " said Anderson, whose son later asked for a bar mitzvah. "I told him, 'That's not our culture. That's not who we are ... but I will throw you a hip-hop bro mitzvah.' To this day, all of his Jewish friends say that was the best bar mitzvah they ever" attended.

The 'bro mitzvah' is featured in Black-ish, as is Dre's son's decision to try out for field hockey, rather than basketball, which throws his father for a loop.

Tracee Ellis Ross (Girlfriends), who plays Andre's physician wife, Rainbow, said this is the first time she is playing a character of black and white heritage, which matches her real-life background. "I'm actually out as a mixed woman," she joked.

When a questioner asked if Rainbow's mixed background included something other than white, executive producer Larry Wilmore joked: "We're going to change it every week."

Despite the specificity of the black experience, Black-ish, which also stars Laurence Fishburne (Thurgood, The Matrix), is universal in its family themes, said creator and executive producer Kenya Barris, whose wife also is a doctor of mixed-race background.

"You can be black. At the same time, you can be Asian, Jewish, from middle America. We're taught to give our kids more than we had, but sometimes in the middle of that you lose a little of what your upbringing was," he said.

* * * *

Summer TCA Tour Notes
ABC spends Forever with Ioan Gruffudd
By Robert Bianco, USA Today - Jul. 15, 2014

ABC hopes you'll spend Forever with Ioan Gruffudd.

The Welsh actor, who first made his mark on American TV with Horatio Hornblower, stars in ABC's Forever as a New York City medical examiner with a secret: he can't die. (Technically, Henry Morgan does die – he just doesn't stay dead.) Henry hasn't been around forever, but he has lived for over 200 years, which the show uses to help explain his Sherlock-level powers of observation.

Casting Gruffudd for a man born in a much earlier century was a natural choice, says creator Matt Miller. Because he's done so much period work, "it already feels like he's been around for a long time."
For Gruffudd, the physical challenge of the role stems from the character's particular way of being reborn: buck naked. "It made me appreciate the fact that I had a muscle suit on as Mister Fantastic (in Fantastic Four)…I'm not getting younger, so there's a commitment to the cause that one has to make."

While the fantasy element defines Forever, it's also a procedural: Henry helps Alana De La Garza's police detective solve crimes. "I think that's one of the fun elements of the show and what attracted me to the show," says Gruffudd. "He's using his experience and wealth of knowledge over time to untangle the case."

When Henry dies, everything disappears — his body, his clothes, his wallet, and his driver's license. "The spin-off," Miller jokes, "will be Henry at the DMV."

Two people know Henry's secret. One is a mystery stalker whose identity is not revealed in the pilot; the other is his best and only friend, played by Judd Hirsch.

"Every once in a while, the intelligence of a show just grabs me," says Hirsch. It happened with Numb3rs, and it happened again here. "To play someone special and to be able to develop a character? That's a gift for an actor."

And why did he do Sharknado 2? "They told me I was going to be eaten by a shark. I said 'I'm in.'"
In TV, of course, people may die — but ideas seldom do. If you remember the short-lived Fox series New Amsterdam, then you're no doubt thinking the fantasy-idea behind Forever sounds just like that Fox flop.

Creator Matt Miller is aware of the comparison now – but says he wasn't when he created the show. "It came up when I was pitching the show," he says. "I had not seen New Amsterdam."
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Summer TCA Tour Notes
TV show runner Shawn Ryan to testify against media consolidation
By Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times' 'Company Town' Blog - Jul. 15, 2014

Shawn Ryan, TV show runner and creator of "The Shield" and "The Chicago Code," is heading to Washington to speak out against media consolidation.

Testifying on behalf of the Writers Guild of America, West, Ryan is scheduled to appear Wednesday before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation to discuss the adverse effect of "weak net neutrality regulations" and media consolidation on the creative community.

“The reality of American media is that it is controlled by a handful of companies formed through two decades of consolidation,” Ryan said in a statement from the guild. “These companies own the television networks, the production studios and almost all of the scripted content that is available on television and in movie theaters. The cable companies that distribute this content are even more concentrated.”

The amount of broadcast network programming created independently has dwindled to 10% of the fall lineup -- a sharp decline from 76% in 1989, Ryan noted. Such concentration restricts freedom of expression, reduces competition and leaves consumers with fewer choices, he said.

His comments come in the wake of large media deals, including Comcast's plans to acquire Time Warner Cable, and proposed net neutrality rules from the Federal Communications Commission. Consumer groups and online activists have complained the rules are too weak to prevent broadband service providers from meddling with content flowing through their networks.
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TV Review
‘Rush,’ sleazeball doc acting way cool
USA dramedy gives us an antihero totally lacking heroic qualities
By Tom Conroy, Media Life Magazine - Jul. 15, 2013

Some shows with antiheroes — the best example being “The Sopranos” — make us sympathize with their main characters despite giving us a clear picture of their vices. Other shows try to have it both ways, presenting their heroes as roguish bad boys or girls but expecting us to ignore the moral issues they would raise in real life.

The title character of USA’s new dramedy “Rush” — a disgraced L.A. doctor who makes cash-only house calls for clients who have something to hide — both behaves and allows other people to behave in reprehensible ways, but we’re supposed to think of him as a lovable scamp.

Since the creators clearly haven’t thought through the show’s ethics, viewers who just want to have a good time shouldn’t either. The attractive cast and glossy cinematography provide enough distraction.

Premiering this Thursday, July 17, at 9 p.m., Rush stars Tom Ellis as Dr. William P. Rush, who lost his job as an emergency-room physician through an undisclosed screw-up and now has an unusual private practice in which he zips around in a Mercedes convertible from mansion to mansion helping people with medical emergencies that they want to keep secret.

In the premiere episode, Rush allows a woman he is trying to seduce to nearly kill herself with an overdose of his cocaine. He gets Alex (Larenz Tate), a friend and Harvard Med classmate, to take care of her and cover up his involvement.

The next morning, he tells his devoted assistant, Eve (Sarah Habel), to provide marijuana to a junkie, then rides to the home of a famous baseball player who beat his girlfriend for drinking his special Tibetan juice. Rather than calling the police, Rush accepts $15,000 from the ballplayer and advises the girlfriend not to drink his juice anymore.

For comic relief, Rush treats a famous Hollywood person who has ruptured something personal while trying to have sex with a much younger woman. Since the Hollywood type doesn’t have the agreed-upon $20,000 in cash but fears tabloid exposure, he lets Rush double the fee.

Rush has a crisis of conscience when Sarah (Odette Annable), a girlfriend who knew him when, comes to town. They have one of those push-and-pull romantic conversations that exes have on TV. It hits a huge speed bump when Sarah makes an unusual personal confession and Rush reacts in a way that is either incredibly shallow or inexplicable.

Fortunately for him, his drug dealer, Manny (Rick Gonzalez), phones, begging Rush for help. Rush is forced at gunpoint by a criminal gang to operate on a gunshot victim who can’t go the emergency room. If Rush’s situation weren’t already vaguely familiar from previous TV shows and movies, this segment pushes it over the top.

Another story line takes a darker turn, and it seems that Rush might be changing his ways. But the idea of a scrupulous, ethical doctor who handles sleazy clients seems both self-contradictory and boring.

Odette Annable is listed as a guest star, so it’s unclear whether Sarah will be around to influence Rush’s moral growth or decline.

The writer and director of the first episode, Jonathan Levine, whose previous experience is in movies, may simply not have planned where his character will head. He seems more interested in atmosphere and setting up situations in which Rush can look wryly cool or coolly wry.

The visuals and the attitude may be enough for viewers who aren’t interested in deep drama.

Those with clear moral vision will have to squint.
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Critic's Notes
When Bad Credits Happen to Good TV Shows
By Lindsey Weber,'s 'Inside TV' Blog - Jul. 15, 2014


Masters of Sex returned Sunday night, and we continue to insist that you watch it, because it is great. But we would also like to insist on some hard truths, such as: Its opening credits are awful. What’s the opposite of a snub? That’s how I feel about it being awarded an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Title Design. I would, however, give it the distinction of being in the fine company of good shows with disproportionately bad credits. Here is a list of common credit problems, in case you are making a prestige television show in the near future. Don't let a bad credit sequence happen to you!

It doesn't properly represent the show.
Masters of Sex's credits
are wrapped in hokey Austin Powers innuendo — and then they go for a Dick and Jane aesthetic midway, implying the two children have sex at the end? Eek. It’s not funny, and it certainly doesn’t properly represent the show, which is dark and very smart.
Other examples: Bunheads

It's a little too on the nose.
Grantland's Andy Greenwald writes: "I find Masters of Sex‘s panting, pun-heavy credits truly awful, a close runner-up to Homeland‘s interminable jazz-labyrinth." Ah yes: Remember Homeland's opening credits? All those cuts. All that jazz! Aside from those trumpets, it's also way too on the nose for a show that's all about open questions. A maze with no end in sight? Come on.
Other examples: Big Love, Gilligan's Island (Just kidding! Kind of!)

It has an annoying song.
We control every aspect of how we watch Orange is the New Black — except for its damn opening credits, which are actually fine themselves, but accompanied by that Regina Spektor song that everyone seems to abhor. The best we can do for you in this situation is tell you that the opening credits are exactly one minute, 11 seconds long. Do with that information what you must.
Other examples: New Girl, The L Word (after they changed it), Grey’s Anatomy

It just looks like crap.
This prize we award to the opening credits of Nurse Jackie, which feature floating pills, coffee cuts, and a wedding ring — in case the premise weren't totally clear. Could they have put some of that scrubs budget into creating more realistic flying medication? Thanks.

It's too long.
Hurry up, House of Cards. I have, like, 60 more episodes to sit through.
Other examples: The Newsroom (even though it is not really that good); Game of Thrones (even though the song isn't awful)
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Summer TCA Tour Notes
‘Cristela’ Hopes To Reach Broader Audience Among Lean ABC Offerings
By Diane Haithman, - Jul. 15, 2014

There’s been a lot of talk about diversity at ABC’s TCA panels today, yet the network’s shows have all shared one constant: Virtually all their stars are thin. But after the panel on her new multi-camera comedy Cristela, stand-up comedian Cristela Alonzo, the show’s co-creator and executive producer, said she’s happy to represent the majority: People of average weight.

Alonzo was wearing a black Fitbit bracelet and said she plans to wear it on the show, in which she portrays an aspiring lawyer who moves back in with her family to pursue that goal. “You see all these shows that have thin people and you never see them eat, you never see them go to the gym,” she said. “Well, I eat. This is what America looks like. This is it.”

That said, even Alonzo is leaner than she once was, losing 40 pounds for health rather than appearance reasons, she said. Alonzo grew up poor in a Texas border town, the daughter of a single mom whose family was reduced to squatting in an abandoned diner for housing. Now, she’s trying to appeal to average Americans in all respects, even in her comedy, where she says she’s never done jokes about being Latino or female.

On the panel, she said the way to avoid stereotypes is to “try to speak honestly— don’t exaggerate what you are trying to say. Everyone is this show is based on someone I know.” That also means no topic is off limits, provided it’s approached with honesty. Alonzo was joined on the panel by other cast members, co-creator Kevin Hench and EPs Becky Clements and Marty Adelstein.

For example: In the pilot (shot on a shoestring budget on the borrowed set of another ABC comedy, Last Man Standing), a character expects Cristela to empty the office trash. “That happens to me all the time,” Alonzo said.

Alonzo performs frequently on college campuses and assesses her potential audience by visiting the local Wal-Mart. “If they have Mexican food and Mexican products, I know there will be a lot of Latinos in the audience.” If not, she adapts her routine, but focuses on honest answers to even loaded questions.

Once, she was asked why so often Latinos are seen riding in large numbers in a single car. The smug questioner was disarmed when she explained that the riders might be poor and, “if they don’t get the ride, they don’t go.”

Speaking of tight budgets: Now that Cristela is on the schedule, episodes will no longer be shot on that Last Man Standing set. Producers joked that they would have to explain the change of residence as an extreme home makeover. “We’ll have to write a joke,” said Hench.

* * * *

Summer TCA Tour Notes
‘Suburgatory’ Stars Could Be Taking A Shot In ‘Selfie’

Actors from ABC’s canceled comedy Suburgatory could turn up on ABC’s newest comedy Selfie, said Emily Kapnek, creator and EP of both, at today’s TCA panels.

“I’m absolutely in love with those actors. If there’s an opportunity to bring them in organically, I would love to,” said Kapnek. She appeared on today’s panel with actors Karen Gillan (Doctor Who) and John Cho (Star Trek), who portray a modern-day Eliza Doolittle and Professor Henry Higgins in this contemporary update of My Fair Lady/ Pygmalion.

The story on the updated story: After being the subject of an embarrassing viral video, a self-involved 20-something enlists the help of a marketing expert to revamp her image. One critic started things off by saying she thought the characters in the pilot episode seemed “nasty” and wondering if viewers would relate to Cho’s Henry calling Gillan’s Eliza a “slut,’ among other choice insults.

“So you loved it?” deadpanned Kapnek. She added that as in the original Pygmalion, the characters first appear with all flaws intact and evolve as episodes progress.

Another journalist suggested that the show might be improved by trimming from the pilot an extended vomit joke that culminates in bursting airsickness bags. Unfazed, Kapnek replied with mock surprise, “You want us to cut the vomiting? Really, it’s true you have to really like vomit to enjoy that moment. But I do, I like a good vomit gag. Plus it was incredibly cinematic release.”

A more pressing issue: Will a show called Selfie become dated as social media evolves (ed. note: like people will ever stop taking pictures of themselves on their smartphones)? Kapneck, who said she sees the series lasting “seasons and seasons to come,” said that the word is descriptive not only of the act of shooting pictures of one’s self, but of an entire rather inward-focused culture.

Earlier in the day, ABC entertainment chief Paul Lee had talked about diversity in ABC’s new comedy shows. At this panel, Kapnek was asked whether the fact that the romantic leads are white and Asian would play a role in the story.

No, Kapnek said. “I’m really proud of that element of the show.” It was hard at first to shake the idea of the original Henry Higgins as an older Englishman but, “once we opened our minds, let’s get off what Henry’s supposed to be,” Cho (whose casting was brought to the table by ABC) was perfect.
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TV Notes
GSN Greenlights Traveling Game Show ‘The Line’
By Sebastian Torrelio, - Jul. 15, 2014

The Game Show Network has greenlit “The Line,” a traveling game show, the network announced Tuesday. With its first stop July 19 in Nashville, Tenn.,, the show focuses on its contestants’ ability to win both at the end of the titular line and while waiting for their chance to get to the front.

“The goal of ‘The Line’ is to take the joy of game directly to communities across the country and we are so excited that GSN’s first stop is Nashville,” said Amy Introcaso-Davis, GSN’s executive vice president of programming and development, in a statement. “We have taken something most people dislike – waiting in line – and turned it into the most fun you have ever had, with cash, prizes and 500 new friends!”

Produced by High Noon Entertainment, “The Line” will be hosted by Jeff Davis of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” fame and Candace Bailey, former co-host of “Attack of the Show.”

Participants of the game will attempt to claim a growing jackpot by reaching the “Trivia Vault” at the front of the line and correctly answering eight true/false questions. Those waiting in line will also have their chance to win cash and prizes by playing “outrageous games.”

“We love creating game formats and this one is terrific because it combines both the intellectual and the physical, as well as dual gameplay that takes place both inside the dome and outside in line,” said executive producer Jim Berger.

Bailey is repped by APA, Silver Lining Entertainment and Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein Kohner & Gellman. Davis is repped by Domain Talent and Interlink Management.

“The Line” has not yet been given a premiere date.
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TV/Business Notes
C-SPAN Limiting Viewer Web Access to Cable and Satellite Subscribers
By Ira Teinowitz, - Jul. 15, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: A warning to Washington political junkies who don't have cable or satellite service — you may need to get your fix elsewhere if you rely on The network is about to limit web viewership of selected programming from its three TV channels.

Starting this fall, online airings of C-SPAN programming, including the daily morning show “Washington Journal,” will only be accessible to satellite and cable subscribers.

However, C-SPAN isn't abandoning the web. It will continue offering its core streaming of live government events — including those from the House, Senate and White House — for free, and web surfers will also have free access to all C-SPAN's older programming.

Peter Kiley, C-SPAN's vice president of affiliate relations, said the move was initiated by C-SPAN itself rather than the cable industry, noting that network officials have become increasingly concerned that allowing open online access to their channels could jeopardize revenues.

“As we looked at changes in technology and changes in television distribution, we felt it was important to position ourselves to see that the license fee would continue to be paid for as long as we could,” he told TheWrap.

Kiley also stated the network's fears surrounded new technologies like AppleTV and Google TV. As those technologies allow viewers to stream web channels directly to their TVs, there was worry that C-SPAN's web feed was starting to compete with the cable feed. Allowing web viewers to see the same shows as cable subscribers at the same time removed any incentive for C-SPAN viewers to sign up for cable, which posed the threat of costing them revenues from license fees.

“That's our sole source of revenue,” Kiley said. “The question was without it, how long can we stay in business. Initially, limiting access might lessen viewership, but people still come to watch the big ticket debates. Consumers are getting more comfortable registering to watch.”

C-SPAN quietly announced the planned move in a notice posted on its website Saturday along with a video featuring co-CEO Susan Swain.

“All of C-SPAN's revenues comes from license fees paid by cable and satellite companies that provide our three TV channels to their customers,” she said in the video. “This revenue supports all of C-SPAN's operations including our TV channels, C-SPAN radio and

“Reserving online access to our three television channels to cable and satellite customers reflects the dynamic changes you can see going on in video distribution today. We believe it an important step for keeping a business model that allows C-SPAN to continue to operate well into the future.”

C-SPAN is offering all its web viewers some extra benefits as part of the change, however.

Consumers who sign in to watch C-SPAN's web channels will get a higher streaming quality than those who view C-SPAN's core content without signing in. In addition, C-SPAN created a mobile friendly version of its website, something it didn't have before. Finally, C-SPAN redesigned its website to make it easier to find “on demand” content and that the content remains free.
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TV Notes
With Likable Late-Night Hosts, NBC and ABC See Their Images Improve
By Bill Carter, The New York Times - Jul. 16, 2013

LOS ANGELES — Jimmy Fallon’s importance to NBC as host of “The Tonight Show” is apparent from the ratings surge that began with his arrival in February. But what about his show’s popular video clips, like Michelle Obama’s “Evolution of Mom Dancing,” which have attracted millions of views online? What have they meant for the NBC brand?

And, likewise, has the late-night host Jimmy Kimmel given a leg up to ABC with his viral video franchises, like celebrities reading mean Twitter messages about themselves?

While the evidence is indirect, an extensive brand survey conducted by the market research agency YouGov found that it is “absolutely the case” that the increasing exposure of the two comic’s videos has the potential to help the perceptions of their networks, according to Ted Marzilli, the chief executive of YouGov’s BrandIndex survey.

What is directly quantifiable in the survey is a highly unusual jump in positive ratings for the brands of NBC and ABC over the past six months. Among over 1,200 brands the company measured between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year, NBC finished fourth and ABC fifth in terms of improving the consumer perception of their brands. “That is absolutely meaningful,” Mr. Marzilli said. “We don’t see networks making leaps like that.”

Notably, the other brands at the top of the perception-improvement list tended to be companies coming back from unmitigated disaster, like Carnival Cruise Lines. NBC and ABC are television networks — two among the 50 YouGov regularly surveys — that didn’t have a nationally covered news event that caused consumers to relegate them to brand infamy.

Or, at least not recently. NBC did take a calamitous dive in the YouGov index back in January 2010, when it hit a spectacularly bad perception score of minus 32. (Consumers are asked if they’ve heard anything good or anything bad about a company in the previous two weeks, and the difference accounts for the score.) That number is even worse than the minus 23.6 score that Carnival descended to last year after a series of stories about its ships losing power -- and working bathroom facilities.

Back during that period in 2010, NBC was, as Mr. Marzilli noted, in the midst of the national firestorm over its ouster of Conan O’Brien from “The Tonight Show” and the restoration of Jay Leno to host. “NBC hit a nadir at that time that was its lowest point in the last five years,” Mr. Marzilli said.

So while he was hesitant to associate a network’s brand perception directly with the fortunes of its late-night star, Mr. Marzilli did suggest that “late-night stars are one way that consumers identify with a network.” He added: “There’s only a handful of these guys out there, so it’s easy for a consumer to keep track of who’s on what network. In prime time there are so many shows, they can kind of get lost in the shuffle.”

Specifically, he suggested that both the Jimmys of late night are among the likeliest reasons for the brand improvement. “You look at what Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel have done on YouTube, or some of the other stuff they have posted, and that may be a way they are not just building their own brands, but also they may be providing a halo effect on their networks.”

NBC’s own reaction is a more muted: Well, maybe. Alan Wurtzel, the network’s top research executive, said in an email that Mr. Fallon was surely a factor in the improving perception of NBC, but he cited others, including the new hit drama, “The Blacklist.”

“Network brands have always been a function of their specific programs, but, of course, when things go well we get the programs that fit the brand and you develop a virtuous circle,” Mr. Wurtzel said. “But frankly, in this crazy media world, sometimes it’s just better to take the good news without trying to overthink it.”

YouGov, which interviews about 18,000 people for its network brand survey, does not ask participants for the specific reasons for their assessments. So it might be worth remembering, as Mr. Wurtzel did, that in the same period when Mr. Fallon was starting his run on “Tonight,” NBC was putting on some go-for-the-gold coverage of the Winter Olympics.

Still, that only lasted for a couple of weeks in a six-month survey. Mr. Fallon and Mr. Kimmel were on most of the weeknights during that time, so their identification with their networks was far more extensive.

It’s also worth noting that no matter what Mr. Fallon’s impact, NBC still has a way to go in the perception derby. Even with its 6.8-point improvement on the BrandIndex scale, the network is barely on the positive side among the consuming public. NBC’s overall score edged up to a 1.7 from a minus 5.1 over the same period in 2013.

At that level, NBC is no threat to the survey leader: Amazon, which had agaudy positive score of 29.5.
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Summer TCA Tour Notes
Shonda Rhimes adds 'Murder' to her repertoire
By Robert Bianco, USA Today - Jul. 15, 2014

BEVERLY HILLS — Shonda Rhimes is getting away with Thursday.

Having given ABC two of TV's and the night's biggest hits, Grey's Anatomy and Scandal, Rhimes is now getting a third Thursday hour to complete the evening: How to Get Away With Murder. Viola Davis stars as a law professor who brings a group of first-year law students into her orbit, with homicidal results.

So is Rhimes feeing like her plan for TV domination is finally coming to fruition? "I think I'm feeling like I'm going to work every day and we're all doing our jobs. I don't think I'm thinking of it in terms of the night. It's exciting and it's a great vote of confidence from ABC, and that's great. But we have shows to make."

This one, created by Pete Nowalk, is built around Davis' Annalise Keating — who is smart, sexy and morally ambivalent at the very least. "I think I'm always confused when people say someone is morally questionable," says Davis, about that possible criticism. "I think we're all morally questionable. We so much act our instincts and not or morals. I found her very human."

An Oscar-nominated actor for The Help and Doubt, Davis says she has had a healthy movie career, but it's a career dominated by supporting roles. "I wanted to be the show. I wanted to have a character who took me out of my comfort zone."

So when this one was offered, she says, "I did the only smart thing an actress would do and I took it. And I love that she's messy and mysterious and she's not particularly nurturing. …She's a woman, she's sexy, she's vulnerable, and I feel extremely fortunate that I am alive and still active and this role came to me at this point in my life."

Murder is slated to run 15 or 16 episodes. That would seem to be enough time to wrap up the first-season murder and launch a second one — but Nowalk warns that the season may not go in the direction you expect.

"Viola is very good at playing the mystery of it," says Nowalk. "Obviously, we want to give people answers, but we're also going for the subtlety. ... The theme is that nobody is who they seem to be."

Annalise certainly does seem to be very much in control, and a little intimidating. But no, she is not in any way, shape or form based on Rhimes. "It doesn't feel autobiographical," says Rhimes, "A, because I didn't write it and it's not about me. She's not like me at all. I don't know whether to be insulted."

There will only be two broadcast dramas starring African-American women on the air, and Rhimes is producing both of them. But if she thinks that's a big step forward, she's not willing to say so. "I feel like the shows speak for themselves."

Rhimes, by the way, had one of the best, and curtest, answers at Tuesday's Television Critics Association presentation to someone who asked what the show was going for with its Twitter hashtag. "We don't consider a hashtag when we're writing."

And yes, the look and the tone were murderous.
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TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
WEDNESDAY 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 Middle
(R - May 21)
8:30PM - The Goldbergs
(R - Apr. 8)
9PM - Modern Family
(R - Oct. 9)
9:31PM - The Middle
(R - May 21)
10PM - Motive
* * * *
11:35PM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Bob Newhart; Nicola Peltz; Spoon performs)
(R - Jun. 26)
12:37AM - Nightline

8PM - Big Brother
9PM - Extant
10PM - Criminal Minds
(R - Apr. 9)
* * * *
11:35PM - Late Show with David Letterman (Emma Stone; comic Nathan Fielder; American Authors performs)
12:37AM - Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Elijah Wood; author Marcia Clark; Kristeen Young, Dave Grohl and Pat Smear perform)

8PM - America's Got Talent (120 min.)
(R - May 27)
10PM - Taxi Brooklyn
* * * *
11:34PM - The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (Whoopi Goldberg; Stephen Moyer; Puss N Boots performs)
12:36AM - Late Night with Seth Meyers (Regis Philbin; TV host John Henson; Broods perform)
1:37AM - Last Call with Carson Daly (Journalist Matt Taibbi; Tinariwen performs; writer Steven Knight)
(R - Apr. 24)

8PM - So You Think You Can Dance (120 min.)

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - My Wild Affair: The Elephant Who Found a Mom (Series Premiere)
9iPM - NOVA - Australia's First 4 Billion Years: Awakening
(R - Apr. 10, 2013)
10PM - Sex in the Wild: Elephants (Series Premiere)

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

8PM - Arrow
(R - Jan. 22)
9PM - The 100
(R - Apr. 9)

8PM - Reina De Corazones
9PM - En Otra Piel
10PM - El Señor de los Cielos

11PM - The Daily Show With Jon Stewart (Jerry Seinfeld)
11:31PM - The Colbert Report (New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio)
12:01AM - At Midnight (Seth Morris; John Ross Bowie; Peter Serafinowicz)

11PM - Conan (Michael Strahan; Famke Janssen; comic Mark Normand)

11PM - Chelsea Lately (Comedia Dane Cook)

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Summer TCA Tour Notes
Shonda Rhimes adds 'Murder' to her repertoire
By Robert Bianco, USA Today - Jul. 15, 2014

BEVERLY HILLS — Shonda Rhimes is getting away with Thursday.

Having given ABC two of TV's and the night's biggest hits, Grey's Anatomy and Scandal, Rhimes is now getting a third Thursday hour to complete the evening: How to Get Away With Murder. Viola Davis stars as a law professor who brings a group of first-year law students into her orbit, with homicidal results.
Of all the new fall shows the networks have screened for us, this is the one I can't wait to see more of. It's like "The Paper Chase" on steroids.
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TV Sports
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, - Jul. 16, 2014

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

For 20 fabulous years now, Robert Osborne has served as primary host of Turner Classic Movies, establishing, like the network he represents, an impeccable and reliable reputation for both class and classics. Usually, Osborne presents movies built around the themes and tastes of others – but tonight, he presents his own movie picks, beginning at 8 p.m. ET with 1961’s Fanny, a romantic comedy-drama starring Leslie Caron as a fishmonger’s daughter in pre-WWII Marseille. She’s in love with a young sailor (played by Horst Buchholz, fresh off The Magnificent Seven), but circumstances leave her pregnant, alone, and contemplating accepting the advances of a wealthy older man (Maurice Chevalier). If the plot sounds somewhat familiar, it was adapted into another classic movie rarity shown occasionally on TCM, 1964’s all-music The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Other films on Osborne’s recommendation list tonight include (at 10:30 p.m. ET) 1933’s The Bitter Tea of General Yen, and (at 12:15 a.m. ET) 1944’s Experiment Perilous.

CBS, 9:00 p.m. ET

Tonight’s second episode of this new CBS series is titled “Extinct,” but that could be misleading: the story line seems to be heading towards a new life beginning, not an old one ending. In this hour, Sam (Camryn Manheim) gives Molly (Halle Berry) an ultrasound – the results of which could confirm Molly’s very baffling suspicions, and eerie nightmare visions, about being impregnated while on a year-long solo space flight. Let’s hope tonight’s episode is more original, and less obvious, than last week’s opener.

We TV, 9:00 p.m. ET
This new WE tv series was two years in the making – and originally was made as a series pilot for AMC, which reportedly passed on the series in favor of the much less compelling Low Winter Sun. In time, though, AMC’s loss became WE tv’s gain, because the sister network (along with IFC and Sundance, others under the AMC Networks umbrella) continued to develop The Divide, eventually positioning it as its first original scripted drama. It’s a big step for WE tv, and The Divide sticks the landing, serving up a new series that is much more intelligent, nuanced and balanced than the norm. The series is written by Richard LaGravenese of HBO’s Behind the Candelabra, and stars Marin Ireland and Damon Gupton as two people on opposite sides of a Death Row murder case. She’s the Innocence Initiative caseworker arguing for the innocence of a prisoner about to be executed, and he’s the district attorney who wants the sentence to be carried out. One of the more impressive aspects of The Divide is how it humanizes and empathizes with both sides – as with Showtime’s Homeland, there’s not one central character and perspective, but two. Definitely worth sampling, even on a network you may never have visited before, unless you’re a reality TV enthusiast. But that’s the point…

FX, 10:00 p.m. ET

In this second episode of Season 2, a bizarre new murder scene attracts the attention, once again, of lawmakers on both sides of the border, and our heroes (played by Diane Kruger and Demian Bichir) are back in business. The murder site in question involves a taxidermist – and we all remember, the last time that happened, what kind of killer was encountered. A veritable Psycho…

Sundance, 10:00 p.m. ET

This 1971 film was a counterculture classic of sorts, but also a straight-out action film that made room for an extended car chase that spread out over four Western states. Barry Newman stars as a talented driver with a need for speed, and with an increasingly long posse of cop cars on his tail. The reason? He’s made a bet that he can deliver a 1970 Dodge Charger R/T from Denver to San Francisco in 15 hours – and thanks to “Super Soul,” the deejay played by Cleavon Little who helps our hard-driving hero steer clear of The Man, there are lots of radio listeners tuning in to see whether he makes it. Vanishing Point was released in 1971, but it was pure Sixties from start to finish. Especially the finish.

* * * *

TV Sports
The Latest British Invasion from Liverpool: Tiger Woods, with Long Odds
By Gerald Jordan, - Jul. 16, 2014

Set your alarms for 4 o’clock OMG if you want to catch the scheduled Thursday morning opening for ESPN coverage of The Open from Royal Liverpool.

For the real golf fans, that’s about the same time that you’d line up to get a tee time at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y. (For the uninitiated, that’s the deliciously challenging track on Long Island.)

OK, so the options are plentiful.

The Open, you see, is what we on this side of the Atlantic call The British Open Golf Tournament. When the rotation of British courses takes the tournament to the home of golf, the Old Course at St. Andrews, the coverage invariably celebrates “the old sod.” It’s unavoidable. If Augusta National is the cathedral of golf, St. Andrews is the Vatican, Scotland’s Presbyterian leanings notwithstanding.

Royal Liverpool Golf Club at Hoylake last presented The Open in 2006, when the golfer known worldwide by one name – Tiger – won.

This year is different: Royal Liverpool is surprisingly green, and Tiger is covered in rust.

In both instances, it’ll make for some pretty good TV.

Links courses in the British Open photograph horribly for TV. If the brown fairways don’t look about 180 degrees opposite the lush green tracks customarily seen on golf TV (Augusta National springs immediately to mind), then the chest-high rough makes golfers who’ve hit errant drives look as though they’re wandering in a post-apocalyptic land.

Early reports from the field say the rough isn’t as tall as it was in ’06. Tiger has played once since back surgery sidelined him at the end of March, and he missed the cut. The betting line on him has teetered between 20-to-1 and 25-to-1.

Australian Adam Scott, ranked No. 1 in the world, leads the numeric parade of favorites. Phil Mickelson (right), the defending Open champion, has said he could play the best golf of his career over the next five years. That’s truly an admirable claim for a 44-year-old, as well as a testament to how a pro golfing career can extend well beyond other sports.

Youth, however, must be served; look for Rory McIlroy (two majors on his resume) and Justin Rose (2013 U.S. Open winner) to set the pace.

And Royal Liverpool might have another wicked feature to toss at viewers: wind and rain.

What would a British Open be without foul weather? And the game just wouldn’t be links golf without brisk gusts off the water that the course “links” to the land.

Here’s your best bet, golf fans: Get up early if you’re in the Eastern Time Zone. Stay up late if you’re in the Pacific Time Zone. Toss a coin if you’re in the Central Time Zone. Take Thursday off from work if it’s possible. Don’t operate any heavy equipment or machinery if you have to go to work.

At any rate, pace yourself: 4 a.m. is the EDT start for the ESPN telecasts Thursday and Friday. Sleep in until 7 a.m. EDT Saturday. Apologize for nodding off in Sunday services if you made the 6 a.m. tee off.
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TUESDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insight's Blog
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Nielsen Overnights (18-49)
All-Star Game takes a bite out of competition
ABC's 'Extreme Weight Loss' falls 18 percent, to a 0.9 in 18-49s
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - Jul. 16, 2013

No surprise, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game took a bite out of the competition last night.

Only a handful of original shows aired on the Big Three against Fox’s coverage of the game, and most saw ratings decline from last week.

ABC’s “Extreme Weight Loss,” which went from 8 to 10 p.m., averaged a 0.9 adults 18-49 rating, according to Nielsen overnights, down 18 percent from last week.

ABC’s 10 p.m. program, “Celebrity Wife Swap,” maintained last week’s rating with a 1.0.

And NBC’s “The Night Shift” slid 8 percent from last week to a series-low 1.2 at 10 p.m. Of course, it was hurt not just by the added competition from the All-Star Game but also by the lack of an original “America’s Got Talent” lead-in.

Rather than waste an original episode of its top-rated summer series against the MLB contest, NBC aired a best-of auditions episode, which still posted a solid 2.0 from 8 to 10 p.m.

In fact, it was the night’s No. 1 non-baseball show.

The All-Star Game was the night’s top program overall, but accurate ratings for the game will not be available until later this afternoon because overnights do not take into account actual program data, only timeslot data. Also, they do not account for time zone differences.

Media Life will post an update when the All-Star ratings are released.

Fox led the night among 18-49s with a 2.9 average overnight rating and a 10 share. NBC was second at 1.7/6, Univision third at 1.2/4, ABC and CBS tied for fourth at 0.9/3, Telemundo sixth at 0.6/2 and CW seventh at 0.2/1.

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.

Also, ratings for Fox’s baseball coverage are approximate as fast nationals measure timeslot and not actual program data.

Fox was first during each hour with its coverage of the All-Star Game, starting with a 3.0 at 8 p.m. followed by NBC with a 1.9 for “Talent.” Univision was third with a 1.1 for “De Que Te Quiero, Te Quiero,” CBS fourth with a 0.9 for a repeat of “NCIS,” ABC fifth with a 0.8 for “Weight,” Telemundo sixth with a 0.4 for “Reina de Corazones” and CW seventh with a 0.1 for an “Arrow” rerun.

At 9 p.m. Fox led with a 3.1 for baseball, while NBC remained second with a 2.0 for more “Talent.” Univision was third with a 1.3 for “Lo Que La Vida Me Robo,” ABC fourth with a 1.0 for more “Weight,” CBS fifth with a 0.9 for a repeat of “NCIS: Los Angeles,” Telemundo sixth with a 0.5 for “En Otra Piel” and CW seventh with a 0.2 for a rerun of “Supernatural.”

Fox was first again at 10 p.m. with a 2.8 for baseball, with NBC and Univision tied for second at 1.2, NBC for “Night” and Univision for “Que Pobres Tan Ricos.” ABC was fourth with a 1.0 for “Swap” and CBS and Telemundo tied for fifth at 0.9, CBS for a repeat of “Person of Interest” and Telemundo for “El Señor de los Cielos.”

Among households, Fox was first for the night with a 6.5 overnight rating and an 11 share. NBC was second at 4.8/8, CBS third at 4.3/7, ABC fourth at 2.4/4, Univision fifth at 1.5/3, Telemundo sixth at 0.8/1 and CW seventh at 0.4/1.

* * * *

TV Sports/Notes
‘The ESPYs,’ fun without consequences
Drake hosts program honoring the year's best performances
By Louisa Ada Seltzer, Media Life Magazine - Jul. 16, 2013

“The ESPY Awards,” airing tonight at 9 p.m. on ESPN, will be among the most-watched programs on cable today, and yet the results really don’t matter.

The program will honor such categories as best breakthrough athlete and best championship performance, as well as more obscure things such as best international athlete and best WNBA player.

Yet despite the awards’ relative lack of consequence, they draw a big crowd on cable and also get a large number of superior athletes to come out.

It’s one of the few times where athletes from different sports can mingle in a low-pressure atmosphere.

The most-anticipated categories are the best male and female athlete awards.

The nominees in the former include Peyton Manning and Kevin Durant, while Olympian Mikaela Shiff and UFC star Ronda Rousey are competing in the latter. The show will be hosted by rapper and actor Drake.

Last year’s awards averaged 2.3 million total viewers and a 1.0 adults 18-49 rating, according to Nielsen, down from the previous year, when the show tallied 2.4 million viewers and a 1.2 in the demo.

The show faces relatively light competition on broadcast, where the second episode of CBS’s “Extant” will probably be the top show in the hour.
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TV Notes
Fox Confirms $80 Billion Bid for Time Warner Was Rejected
By Jordan Zakarin, - Jul. 16, 2014

Rupert Murdoch is big game hunting again.

21st Century Fox in June submitted an $80 billion takeover bid of rival media giant Time Warner, only to have the offer rejected.

“21st Century Fox can confirm that we made a formal proposal to Time Warner last month to combine the two companies,” the company said in a statement. “The Time Warner Board of Directors declined to pursue our proposal. We are not currently in any discussions with Time Warner.”

According to the New York Times, the offer would have equated to $85 in stock and cash for each Time Warner share, which was a 25 percent premium on the company's then-stock price. The purchase would have been paid for in 60 percent stock and 40 percent cash; part of the problem with the deal, from Time Warner's perspective, was that the shares came without voting power in the two-tiered Fox corporation, which is controlled by the Murdoch family.

The deal would have created a megapower that included film studios Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox; Fox TV networks and Time Warner's TNT and TBS, as well as both companies’ rights to major sports broadcasts, including basketball, baseball, and football.
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Washington Notes
F.C.C. Is Deluged With Comments on Net Neutrality Rules
By Steve Lohr, The New York Times - Jul. 16, 2013

From legal briefs to pithy one-liners, the public is having its say on the proposed rules that guide how digital bits flow across the Internet.

As of Tuesday, there were about 780,000 comments, far more than for any previous rule-making proceeding before the Federal Communications Commission. The agency is fine-tuning its rules to secure an open Internet, after a federal-court decision in January said it had to rethink its approach.

After the court ruling, Tom Wheeler, chairman of the F.C.C., proposed a path in step with the court ruling that would explicitly allow “commercially reasonable” deals. Such deals are typically for faster streaming of Internet content between broadband operators — phone and cable companies like Verizon, AT&T and Comcast — and online media distributors like Netflix and Google’s YouTube.

Mr. Wheeler’s plan, according to its many critics, would open the door to a two-tier Internet of fast and slow lanes, with affluent companies and households enjoying premium service and everyone else fighting traffic: a death knell for the open Internet and its democratic ethos of “net neutrality.”

Kevin Werbach, a former F.C.C. counsel and an associate professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, said, “The way this has been framed for a lot of people is that the F.C.C. is trying to change the Internet as we know it.”

Mr. Wheeler, who has been a lobbyist for the cable and telecommunications industries, has said that will not be the case, and that the agency will set a “high bar” for commercially reasonable arrangements. He has also said he is open to other ways to both accommodate the court ruling and maintain an open Internet, and the F.C.C. has welcomed public comments.

The deadline for the first round of comments was Tuesday, but has been extended to Friday. A second period for so-called reply comments will run until Sept. 10.

Despite the flood of comments, the open Internet debate has a way to go before it matches the public reaction the agency absorbed after a televised glimpse of Janet Jackson’s nipple during the Super Bowl halftime show in 2004, a “wardrobe malfunction” seen around the world. That incident elicited 1.4 million messages from the public, but the F.C.C. classifies those as complaints rather than comments.

A sampling of the many thousands of individual comments posted on the commission’s website is heavily weighted toward urging the F.C.C. to take strong action to preserve net neutrality and criticizing Mr. Wheeler’s proposal as not doing that.

“Net neutrality is crucial to fair competition and free speech,” Maya Cook wrote, “and this proposal is a disaster in the making.”

There is an anticorporate tinge to many comments, mainly directed toward the phone and cable companies.

“Any regulation that would allow soulless, noncitizen corporations to monetarily benefit at the expense of lawful citizens whom the government serves should not be enacted,” Michael W. Derington wrote.

The individual submissions also underline the success of get-out-the-comments advocacy efforts like the website, which allows supporters to type in their name and email address and submit a form letter that begins, “Net neutrality is the First Amendment of the Internet.”

The court-ordered retooling of the commission’s “Open Internet Order” of 2010 has touched off a surge in lobbying efforts by two sets of big corporations — Internet companies on one side, phone and cable companies on the other.

The Internet companies routinely make deals for improved treatment of their media content with network operators, so consumers get better, faster service. But new rules from the F.C.C. could improve the bargaining position of one side or the other by shifting the competitive landscape.

In that sense, the F.C.C. is a referee in price negotiations between two camps of powerful, deep-pocketed corporations.

The two sides have made their stances clear in their formal comments to the commission. The Internet Association, whose members include Google, Facebook, Netflix and Amazon, stated that today’s Internet is an “engine of economic growth, innovation and democratic values,” which it termed a “virtuous circle.” It added that “the Internet’s continued success is not inevitable,” saying that “broadband Internet access providers continue to have the ability and the incentive” to interrupt that engine.

In a statement, Michael Beckerman, president of the Internet Association, said, “The F.C.C. must act to create strong, enforceable net neutrality rules and apply them equally to both wireless and wireline providers.”

The phone and cable companies, by contrast, are resisting what they call “prescriptive rules,” as Verizon described possible constraints in a comment. The broadband network operators agree that the Internet is thriving, and thus, according to a Verizon comment, that “there is little call for regulators to intervene,” other than on a case-by-case basis.

What the phone and cable companies most fear is an option open to the F.C.C.: to oversee the Internet under its Title II authority. That would mean declaring the Internet a common carrier, a utility, which they say would be a misguided overreaction.

In a recent blog post, James W. Cicconi, senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs at AT&T, said the price-gouging tactics the industry’s critics fear were “unlikely hypotheticals” that the phone and cable companies pledged not to do as the F.C.C. grappled with this issue in 2010.

“Not a single Internet service provider then or now has asserted a desire or right to engage in any of these practices,” Mr. Cicconi wrote, “to create ‘fast lanes and slow lanes.’ ”

The outpouring of public comments extends well beyond the details of the F.C.C.’s regulatory authority or the lobbying of major corporations, said Tim Wu, a professor at the Columbia Law School who helped create the concept of net neutrality.

“This is about a fear of closing of the technological frontier,” Mr. Wu said, “of the fear of the Internet becoming too corporatized — no longer this place where even if you start small, you do have a fighting chance.”

The F.C.C. is expected to make a decision on open Internet rules by the end of 2014 or early 2015. Whatever the commissioners eventually decide, one thing is likely: Their decision will face a legal challenge. It was a suit by Verizon that led to the court ruling earlier this year.
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TV Reviews
FX’s ‘Married,’ ‘You’re the Worst’
By Brian Lowry, - Jul. 16, 2013

“Married” is a familiar idea presented in a cheerfully amusing way — namely, the quiet scream of a middle-aged guy with kids, grappling with the realization that hot sex is disappearing into the rearview mirror, and his wife mostly just tolerates him. Its FX companion, “You’re the Worst,” is equally recognizable: a dysfunctional love story between two awful, self-absorbed people, who just might be perfect for each other. If there’s nothing new here (and indeed, another show premiering the same night, USA’s “Satisfaction,” offers a variation on “Married’s” theme), both are still mildly enjoyable. Call them the comedy equivalent of bunt singles.

In “Married,” Russ (Nat Faxon, fresh off “Ben & Kate’s” short-lived run) is the frustrated husband — so much so that he masturbates in bed next to his dozing wife Lina (Judy Greer) after she rebuffs his advances. Tired of being prodded to put out, in the premiere she suggests he go find some other sort of release outside their marriage, which he takes as an invitation to cheat.

The opportunity arises sooner than expected (and in a temptingly attractive package), but the road to Nirvana, not surprisingly, is paved with snafus and misunderstandings, starting with Russ’ misguided decision to confide in his friend Bernie (“The Daily Show’s” Jon Hodgman), later asking him if he can borrow a few hundred bucks.

Created by Andrew Gurland, “Married’s” opener actually mirrors what became a protracted plotline on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” but it’s an appropriate way of introducing Russ as a guy with bad intentions, if not the will — given his commitment to his wife and kids — to act on them.

Mostly, it’s the age-old fear of married guys that someone is having a lot more fun (and sex) than they are. Faxon sells all of that — as well as a nagging concern, in subsequent episodes, about money issues — but this kind of series still requires a deft touch, even with the expanded license FX offers to explore sexual situations more frankly than in the broadcast realm.

It’s to Greer’s credit, moreover, that she manages to make Lina more fleshed out than just a tiresome scold, since this portrait of “Married” life tilts heavily toward Russ’ perspective.

The couple is surrounded by an assortment of wacky friends, naturally, including Jenny Slate (fresh off “Obvious Child”), who’s married to a much-older guy (played in later episodes by Paul Reiser); and the divorced, well-to-do A.J. (Brett Gelman), who in one episode drowns his sorrows by hiring a pair of prostitutes and inviting Russ over.

“You’re the Worst” would be the “before” to “Married’s” “after,” focusing on struggling writer Jimmy (Chris Geere) and harried publicist Gretchen (Aya Cash), who meet at a wedding, instantly can’t stand each other and, of course, immediately fall into bed together.

The sex is great — the people, not so much. But the two find themselves drawn to each other, even as they keep insisting relationships are for saps.

Heavily leaning on Los Angeles as a backdrop, the show mimics an indie-film sensibility, with each of the leads conveying just enough vulnerability to offset their odious ways, although it’s not clear that’s enough — especially with the duo essentially being the entire show. (His roommate, her friend and the kid neighbor all feel more like devices than characters.)

Neither “Married” nor “You’re the Worst” are a bad way to spend a half-hour, representing as they do different, darker sides of the love-and-marriage coin. That said, the jury is out on whether the producers have what it takes to make these summer flings worthy of longer-term commitments.

'Married,' 'You're the Worst'
(FX, Thur. July 17, 10 p.m./10:30 p.m.)
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TV Review
'The Divide' on WE tv smartly smudges race, class stereotypes
By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times - Jul. 16, 2013

In what is becoming something of a monthly ritual, yet another niche network is venturing in from the old film/documentary/reality fringe with a character-driven drama that executives hope will do what "Mad Men" did for AMC.

At least with "The Divide," which premieres Wednesday night on WE tv, there is no pretense. WE, which stands for Women's Entertainment, is owned by AMC Networks and it produced "The Divide."

Indeed, cocreators Richard LaGravenese and Tony Goldwyn originally pitched the multithemed modern legal drama to AMC, where the show's female protagonist apparently made it a good candidate for a much-needed broadening of the WE brand, thus far embodied by the reality series including "Bridezillas" and "Braxton Family Values."

Whether "Women's Entertainment" is a legitimate genre necessitating its own network (No! she screamed, before the crowd fell upon her) is open for debate, but it is unfair to ask "The Divide" to host it. However it got made, and wherever it airs and why, "The Divide" does deal with issues that transcend gender and promises to be a very good show.

Law student by day, bartender by night, Christine Rosa (Marin Ireland) works for the Innocence Initiative, a nonprofit group dedicated to saving the wrongfully imprisoned. She is investigating a case involving the brutal killing of a black family who lived in a prestigious and mostly white neighborhood.

A behind-the-scenes look at filming around the world for television and movies as seen from the streets.
The conviction of the two white men — Jared (Chris Bauer), now on death row, and Terry (Joe Anderson), his much younger partner — made the career of Dist. Atty. Adam Page (Damon Gupton). Not surprisingly, Adam sees the last-minute intervention by Christine and her Initiative boss Clark (Paul Schneider) as an attempt to derail his rising career and responds with "Scandal"-like alacrity (Goldwyn is, of course, "Scandal's" commander in chief).

Fortunately, at another level, things are a bit more complicated. Race plays a big role in the case, and the show (Adam is black, Christine and Clark white), but so does class. The two are bravely not synonymous. And though the story may seem familiar, the creators' willingness to smudge out traditional demographic stereotypes is not.

Christine is scrappy and poor with a personal stake in fighting a justice system weighted in favor of the wealthy. She vibrates with a fury that both fuels and exhausts her. As the pilot winds around the facets of the case (all is not what it seems!) which foreshadow the show's themes, Christine, as a character, requires us to take nothing on faith.

In a subtly stellar performance, Ireland shows us her charm and her defects. She pushes and pulls, tells the truth and lies with the sort of passion too often confused with sincerity, but none with a crusader's long-winded self-righteousness. The wins are no more fun for Christine than the losses because both illuminate a system that routinely chews up those who do not live in the nice neighborhoods.

Mercifully, and astonishingly, "The Divide" is not a complete downer — Christine has a fine and feisty relationship with a cop played by "Ripper Street's" Adam Rothenberg, and Gupton's Adam and his wife, Billie (Nia Long), are raising a family along with attempting to run the city. More important, the main characters all seem bent on justice, although their definitions of that term have been formed by their own lives.

Corruption may wind up playing its part in "The Divide." But Goldwyn and LaGravenese seem more interested in examining the small decisions, the omissions made for expediency, the assumptions not challenged, than any grand, soap operatic conspiracy.

Is it the new "Mad Men"? No. But you know what? That mythical creature does not exist. "The Divide" is a tense and thoughtful drama, with what promise to be complex characters and at least one breakout performance.

Even in this day of niche networks, live-streams and clogged DVR queues, that's quite enough.

'The Divide'
Where: WE
When: 9 p.m. Wednesday
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TV Review
USA's domestic drama enters dark territory with Matt Passmore and Stephanie Szostak
By David Hinckley, New York Daily News - Jul. 15, 2014

This “Satisfaction” is not the USA drama you remember.

Like, from even two weeks ago. “Satisfaction” and its sister “Rush,” which also launches Thursday, take a far different and darker path than the likes of “White Collar,” “Suits,” “Burn Notice” or “Royal Pains.”

Where the classic USA drama has been clean, light and almost always buoyant even when it deals with serious issues, “Satisfaction” has an air of restless trouble.

That’s the goal, and the show is well made. We feel familiar empathy for Neil (Matt Passmore) and Grace (Stephanie Szostak) Truman, proving characters are still welcome at USA.

It’s what these characters are doing that takes the show to the dark side.

The Trumans seem like a comfortable suburban couple. Nice house, basically good kids. They just have this issue that’s common to TV. Or real life, for that matter.

To reach and maintain that lifestyle, Neil has become a workaholic, gradually falling away from the things he used to love, like his backyard pool and time with Grace.

We join them at what seems to be a flashpoint where they are acknowledging this openly for the first time.

The acknowledgments come in scenes that are unusually jarring for USA, but we sense they still love and care for each other. So we aren’t surprised when Neil seems to make an impulsive and drastic decision involving his job.

It’s a decision that could propel “Satisfaction” into a season’s worth of dramatic-and-comic USA-style adventures.

Except it doesn’t. Because both Neil and Grace quickly make further decisions that instead take the show into the moral shadows.

As drama, that new direction is interesting and may be darkly honest. It’s just unsettling, which will take some adjustment for viewers of a network that has rarely gone there.

Network/Air Date: Thursday at 10 p.m., USA
Rating: ★★★ (out of five)
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TV/Business Notes
Digital TV Wars: How Hollywood Leverages Amazon, Netflix and Hulu
By Lacey Rose, The Hollywood Reporter - Jul. 16, 2014

The battle among digital players is creating a clear winner: content owners.

Consider CBS, which recently pitted Amazon and Netflix against each other for exclusive licensing rights to its 2015 summer drama Zoo, based on James Patterson's thriller. Having lost out to Amazon for CBS' current event series Extant, Netflix stepped up to ensure it wouldn't do so again. Meanwhile, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone were able to leverage Hulu's desire to stand out in a crowded landscape into a deal reportedly worth more than $80 million for streaming rights to the cartoon.

In both cases, being untethered to one of the major streaming providers proved advantageous. CBS' pioneering summer model, which relies on a heavily truncated SVOD window that enables its scripted programming to be profitable prelaunch, wouldn't be as feasible for CBS' chief dealmaker Scott Koondel if his company were an owner in Hulu like rivals Disney, NBCUniversal and Fox. But being able to leverage Netflix and Amazon — Hulu, which scooped up digital rights to CBS' Elementary and Blue Bloods earlier this year, did not bid — resulted in Netflix paying in the $1.5 million range per episode for the not-yet-produced Zoo, according to a knowledgeable source.

Not only is that seven-figure fee roughly double what Amazon paid for the first season of CBS' 2013 effort Under the Dome — season two and Extant are at about $900,000 per episode, say sources — the Netflix pact keeps the series exclusive to CBS until after its season finale airs. (Amazon offers episodes of Extant and Dome four days after they've aired on CBS.)

Execs who have licensed content to all three key players suggest each has advantages. Netflix often pays more and can offer the biggest possible audience given its global subscriber base of some 48 million. And despite a focus on expanding its growing slate of originals, it remains committed to TV licensing. In fact, Netflix currently licenses 32 percent of the 75 top-rated TV shows over the past four seasons, compared with just 12 percent at Amazon Prime Instant Video, according to Piper Jaffray & Co.

Hulu, initially envisioned as a digital repository for its owners' product, remains the biggest provider of those licensed hits, with 51 percent of the top 75. A megadeal for South Park suggests that it will continue to amp up on licensing, particularly when such deals include exclusivity. And it's no different at Amazon, which this spring agreed to pay in the $300 million-plus range for streaming rights to old HBO series. "It's a marketing machine," notes a top exec, adding that Amazon works closely with the host network to promote a series in a way that Netflix does not.
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My favorite Joe Buck clip.

(P.S. I can't stand Joe Buck)

Nayan's Avatar Nayan
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I have been told that, as a female sports fan, I must like Joe Buck. I can't stand him.
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mrvideo's Avatar mrvideo
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Originally Posted by Nayan View Post
I have been told that, as a female sports fan, I must like Joe Buck. I can't stand him.
Who the Hell, or what the Hell, is Joe Buck? Seriously, I have no clue who that is.
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I can't believe that later this year, it will be 15 straight seasons of Mr. "That is a disgusting act..." announcing the World Series. Can we get another network to jump in again and rotate airing it like it used to be?
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Summer TCA Tour Notes
‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ Geared Up For Season 2, Welcomes Sunday Schedule Change
By Anthony D'Alessandro, - Jul. 16, 2014

Schedule changes and lack of certain Primetime Emmy noms doesn’t keep Brooklyn Nine-Nine down. Co-creators Mike Schur and Dan Goor, EP David Miner, and the cast gathered on the CBS Radford lot today to give the TCA corps a look at their urban work environment and provide some insight into Season 2.

With Brooklyn now scheduled for 8:30 PM, and sandwiched between The Simpsons at 8 PM and The Family Guy-Simpsons crossover event at 9 PM, team Brooklyn isn’t daunted by the prospect that they’re one of two Fox live-action shows on Sunday, a night historically known for its animation lineup (the other series being Mulaney airing after Family Guy). Miner exclaimed, “This is a tremendous audience and we are with great comedies. We were thrilled when we got the call.”

That said, when it comes to touching on any dark subject matters in the half-hour comedy series – which it rarely does, keeping to offbeat subjects such as pizzeria arson, Pontiac bandits and jewel thieves – the fact that Brooklyn is scheduled alongside animated shows does have a slight impact creatively.

Said Schur on dark plot lines, “This is always a debate in the writers’ room. But you’re never going to see a giant flood of blood unless it goes around a corner and back again for comedic purposes.”

While the stunts on Brooklyn as well as Andre Braugher (as supporting comedy actor) were recognized by the TV Academy, the series was overlooked in the primetime comedy series slot as well as for lead actor Andy Samberg, both of which championed back in January with Golden Globes. Even though NBCUniversal aggressively campaigned for the show, Miner’s take on Brooklyn’s Emmy traction is “We’re happily on the TV Academy’s radar. It takes time to build groundswell with them and we’re happy this time around to be considered. There’s some wonderful TV out there.”

At which Schur sarcastically said, “Perhaps, too much wonderful TV. I have 75 shows on my DVR.”

Season 2, which kicks off on September 28, finds the cast dealing with the cliffhangers from their season finale: Detectives Jake Peralta (Samberg) and Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) deal with their potential romance, plus there’s the aftermath of Charlie (Joe Lo Truglio) and Gina (Chelsea Peretti) having slept together. The EPs assured that in no way would the main Peralta-Santiago romance become the focal point of the series as the Sam & Diane plot did on Cheers. Guest actors are TBD for Season 2 as the EPs prefer to focus on their main core cast. However, they relish creating guest characters in Patton Oswalt (as the bully fire chief) as part of their universe, as it’s easy trunk for the writers to pull from.

Schur said, “Greg Daniels referred to it as the ‘Killing Fields’, when you can put all your comedy actors in one place and have a machine gun of joke, joke, joke. That’s a great momentum to have. We’re like chefs making recipes with our characters as ingredients: You can take any two, three, four or five of them, put them in a situation and you know it’s going to be fun. It makes our jobs as writers so much easier.”

* * * *

Summer TCA Tour Notes
Daytime Talk Show ‘The Real’ Will Be Different From ‘The View’. Really.

The hosts of the Warner Bros TV Distribution/Telepictures’ daytime syndie series The Real were out to make a point that their girl talk show is completely different from ABC’s The View, simply because it’s, well — real — as they emphasized continually throughout their TCA panel. From the sizzle reel for the show, it looks like The Real isn’t that far The View, i.e. Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger guest stars and advises that the best place to meet a single guy is in… a steak house. However, Team Real’s argument is that they’re talking about topics impacting young women — i.e. having a baby, looking for Mr. Right — vs. The View‘s chatter about current headlines.

“What’s fake about it? That’s the point, there’s nothing fake about it,” declared co-host Adrienne Bailon, to which executive producer SallyAnn Salsano said, “If one of the hosts is being P.C., another one will call them out on it.”

Another difference with The Real as pointed out by host comedian Loni Love, “We represent everybody,” referring to the multi-ethnic panel that includes Tamar Braxton, Tamera Mowry Housley, Jeannie Mai and Bailon. Salsano selected the hosts from a pool of 100 females. “Most talk shows cast their hosts like Garinmals: The mom, the funny one, the single one. …We want to have a good show and I knew I had the best group of ladies when I put the five of them together and it wasn’t work anymore,” said the EP.

However, what happens when the topics get too real on The Real? Typically when a glossy femme talk show digs into serious topics, i.e. The Tyra Banks Show, the show’s tone and studio audience turn somber, leaking out the cheery steam viewers associate with a daytime brand. Salsano, co-creator of Jersey Shore, expounded on her view with Real: “With all topics, I believe there’s a sense of humor. We’ve had tears and we’ve had laughter on the show. We’ve tackled topics like ‘I’m in a trough in my life and I can’t walk’. There was a girl in my office who told me about something serious. She was in tears. Then, 10 minutes later, we made a joke out of it. I think that’s how America deals with life. You can cry about it all day, but at the end of the day, let’s put a bow on it and some spit shine.”

The Real airs beginning September 15 in national syndication with a special rebroadcast on BET.
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TV/Business Notes
'Big Bang Theory' Stars Still Without Contracts
By Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter - Jul. 16, 2014

Four months after CBS renewed ratings juggernaut The Big Bang Theory for three additional seasons — through its 10th run — stars Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco, as well as Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar, still do not have deals to return to the No. 1 comedy among total viewers and adults 18-49.

The massive renewal for the series, from exec producers Chuck Lorre, Bill Prady and Steve Molaro, gives the cast additional leverage to negotiate the hefty raises they've been after. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that there has been no movement in the negotiations, which began in September, and a deal is expected to be reached before season eight begins. The cast also is expected to return to work on the show's Burbank set at the end of the month when production begins, regardless of whether or not they have new contracts — unlike the Modern Family cast, which staged a walkout as they renegotiated their deals with studio 20th Century Fox Television. Warner Bros. Television declined to comment.

Multiple Emmy winner Parsons (who again is nominated this year), Galecki and Cuoco are all seeking big salary increases. Sources told THR in September that the trio, who currently earn $325,000 per episode, are seeking up to $1 million per half-hour. They're expected to negotiate together; Helberg and Nayyar also are looking for increases and will negotiate together. Emmy nominee Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch have already inked new deals with WBTV, with both securing raises.

The Big Bang Theory contract talks are expected to be a hot topic of discussion Thursday during CBS Entertainment chairman Nina Tassler's session at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour. The series is again returning this month to Comic-Con in San Diego, where for the second year in a row the panel will consist of the show's writers.

Meanwhile, Molaro inked his first overall deal with Warner Bros. Television — a rich three-year pact in which he'll develop new projects for the studio and continue to serve as showrunner and exec producer on the series created by Lorre and Prady. Lorre inked a four-year overall deal with the studio in 2012.

The series concluded its seventh season in May with a cliffhanger in which Parsons' Sheldon was poised to leave town on a train after being overwhelmed by the number of changes in his life.

Ahead of the finale, Molaro told THR that his decision to end the series on a cliffhanger was "not at all" impacted by the cast's lack of contracts. "We're making the best episodes that we can come up with. I have to move forward assuming everyone is going to be there. I have no reason to think they won't be. That wasn't a factor."

Big Bang Theory has been TV's No. 1 comedy among total viewers since the 2010-11 season. Season to date, Big Bang Theory is averaging almost a whopping 20 million viewers per week, up 4 percent year-over-year, and an impressive 6.1 rating among adults under 50. The series also is a hit in syndication on TBS, with repeats often topping some of the Big Four broadcast networks' original fare and helping that network to build its comedy brand. The series has earned multiple Emmy nominations for best comedy but has yet to take home that trophy.

The three-season renewal could spell the end of Big Bang Theory, with Molaro telling THR that he plans to move forward along with Lorre. "[Season] 10 is the end unless we're told otherwise," he said in April. "These are decisions that are so far away I can't really even think about that. I have no choice but to move forward … it's so far away (laughs). The mindset is it's going to be the 10, and then we'll see what happens after that."

Securing Big Bang Theory's future was a top priority for CBS, which last season bade farewell to Monday staple How I Met Your Mother. CBS recently scored rights to Thursday night NFL games, pushing Big Bang Theory to Mondays for the first few weeks of season eight, before it returns to Thursdays.

Big Bang Theory will return Monday, Sept. 22, before moving back to Thursdays starting Oct. 30.
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TV Notes
Bryan Cranston, Steven Spielberg Bringing LBJ Play to HBO
By Tim Molloy, - Jul. 16, 2014

“Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston will return to television for “All the Way,” an HBO Films adaptation of Robert Schenkkan‘s Tony-winning play that will be executive produced by Steven Spielberg.

“All the Way” follows Cranston's President Lyndon Johnson as he struggles to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act and deal with the escalation in Vietnam. It won this year's Tony for Best Play, and Cranston won for Best Actor. It ended its Broadway run at the end of last month.

Spielberg, who saw the play at least twice, has been weighing an adaptation for some time. Like his 2012 “Lincoln,” it focuses on the arm-twisting a president must do to pass legislation.

The role requires Cranston to alternate between Johnson's sneaking attacks of self pity and scenery-chewing moments of threatening and cajoling recalcitrant senators. Johnson is contained only when he buttons up his passions in order to appear presidential.

Schenkkan will adapt the play for HBO. The Pulitzer Prize winner for “The Kentucky Cycle” worked previously with Spielberg on HBO's “The Pacific.”

Cranston, who won three lead acting Emmys for “Breaking Bad” and is nominated this year for a fourth, previously appeared in Spielberg's “Saving Private Ryan.”

“All the Way” will be produced for HBO by Amblin Television, Tale Told Productions and Cranston's production company, Moon Shot Entertainment. Spielberg, Schenkkan, Cranston and Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey (“Extant”) are executive producing. James Degus, who runs Moon Shot, will co-executive produce.

In addition to the Tonys, “All the Way” has received Outer Critics Circle, Drama League and Drama Desk awards.
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TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
THURSDAY 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 - Black Box
9PM - Rookie Blue
10PM - NY Med
* * * *
11:35AM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Dane Cook; Mark Duplass; Trey Songz performs)
(R - Jul. 1)
12:07AM - Nightline

8PM - The Big Bang Theory
(R - Nov. 14)
8:31PM - The Millers
(R - Oct. 24)
9:01PM - Big Brother (LIVE)
10PM - Elementary
(R - Nov. 7)
* * * *
11:35PM - Late Show with David Letterman (Colin Firth; comic Tommy Johnagin; St. Vincent performs)
12:37AM - Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Julia Ormond; scientist Dan Riskin)

8PM - Hollywood Game Night
9:01PM - Welcome to Sweeden
9:30PM - Working the Engels
10PM - Last Comic Standing
* * * *
11:34PM - The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (John Lithgow; model Miranda Kerr; Jason Mraz performs)
12:36AM - Late Night with Seth Myers (Julie Bowen; director Brett Ratner; comic Ben Kronberg)
1:37AM - Last Call with Carson Daly (Comic Dave Attell; You Won't performs)
(R - Apr. 28)

8PM - Hell's Kitchen
9PM - Gang Related

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - The 'This Old House' Hour (R - Jan. 23)
9PM - Last Tango in Halifax
(R - Dec. 3)
10:30PM - Antiques Roadshow: Vintage Baltimore
(R - Jul. 14)

8PM - Premios Juventud 2014 (3 hrs.)

8PM - The Vampire Diaries
(R - Jan. 30)
9PM - The Originals
(R - Nov. 26)

8PM - Reina de Corazones
9PM - En Otra Piel
10PM - El Señor de los Cielos

11PM - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Emma Stone)
11:31PM - The Colbert Report (Author and lawyer Steven Wise)
12:01AM - At Midnight (Aisha Tyler; Wil Wheaton; Kevin Pereria)

11PM - Conan (Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz; Matt Walsh; "Weird Al'' Yankovic)

11PM - Chelsea Lately (Cameron Diaz)

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TV Reviews
USA’s ‘Rush,’ ‘Satisfaction’
By Brian Lowry, - Jul. 16, 2013

USA premieres a pair of new shows this week — one squarely situated in its lighthearted wheelhouse, the other more intriguingly pushing toward new frontiers. The former is “Rush,” about a bad-boy doctor who administers to those living in L.A.’s fast lane, while the latter, “Satisfaction,” is a drama about midlife crises as seen through the prism of a strained, fracturing marriage. As such pairings go, this one is unusually metaphorical — highlighting a network that appears slightly torn between the temptation to expand and test its boundaries, and simply settling for prescribing the same familiar feel-good formula.

Granted, the doctor in “Rush,” William P. Rush (Tom Ellis), is a little more damaged than most. While “House” might have favored pain pills, Rush is introduced snorting cocaine and smoking pot, only revealing his profession when the woman he’s picked up has an overdose, and he has to speed her to the ER.

Because of his clientele, Rush winds up treating a lot of really awful people, from a mega-producer who experiences what he colorfully describes as a “broken cock” to a baseball player prone to physically abusing the women in his life.

Like most such protagonists, Rush appears torn between just taking the money and trying to do the right thing, with an assortment of Jiminy Crickets in his life — including his married friend (Larenz Tate) and the ex-girlfriend who got away (Odette Annable) — whispering advice that aims to put him on a more ennobling path.

Ellis is fine, but it’s all pretty tired stuff — “Entourage” with a medical degree. And frankly, the world could do without another “physician heal thyself” protagonist whose renegade image is seemingly summed up by the decision to sport a three-day-growth beard. Heck, even the name is meant to signal the guy’s an adrenaline junkie, as if the audience couldn’t figure that out without additional cues.

As for “Satisfaction,” it’s hard to know exactly where to begin, which is interesting from a narrative perspective and challenging from a marketing one.
Neil Truman (Matt Passmore) is a successful businessman with a beautiful wife, Grace (Stephanie Szostak), and a teenage daughter. But he’s also bored and miserable, lamenting in voiceover that, after 18 years of marriage, “I need to start figuring out what the hell is wrong with me.”

Neil is equally blase about work, and he starts the change-your-life process by having what amounts to a “Jerry Maguire” moment at the office — except nobody takes his outburst seriously. A subsequent flare-up aboard a delayed business flight, however, leads to a canceled trip and a surprise at home, one that takes the series and central relationship in unexpected directions, including a new line of work.

Written by Sean Jablonski (“Suits,” “Nip/Tuck”), the extended premiere shifts its point of view — allowing the audience to see things from the wife’s perspective as well — so that it’s not just Truman’s show. The desperation behind the beautiful hedges and lawns lends an ersatz “American Beauty”-like tone, including the daughter’s not-so-veiled hostility toward authority.

Thematically, the show shares certain themes with “Married,” an FX comedy that by happenstance premieres in the same hour and also deals with the struggles of what “happily ever after” really means. Where that road goes in this case remains unclear, but for now — unlike the easily diagnosed “Rush” — this companion series warrants further monitoring. And while it’s premature to say I can’t get enough “Satisfaction,” at this point, I definitely want more.

'Rush,' 'Satisfaction'
(USA, Thur. July 17, 9 p.m./10 p.m.)

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