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post #98011 of 98029 Old Today, 06:17 AM
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Critic's Notes
Put Me on TV. I’ll Change. I Swear.
New Starts on ‘Live Free or Die,’ ‘Survivor’ and ‘Utopia’
By Jon Caramanica, The New York Times - Nov. 23, 2013

Near the turn of the millennium, no man in sports — or popular culture, perhaps — was more reviled than John Rocker.

In a Sports Illustrated profile, Mr. Rocker, then pitching for the Atlanta Braves, made derogatory statements — racist, homophobic and more — about New Yorkers. He was colorfully loathsome, a happy villain. And very quickly, a wholly reviled one. The backlash to that article led to more outbursts, and the eventual downward spiral of his career. By the mid-2000s, he’d washed out of the pros, better remembered for his foul mouth than his fastball.

Where else would Mr. Rocker go to be reborn but reality television? He was a contestant on the current season of “Survivor” (CBS), set in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. This is one of those seasons in which contestants play the game with (or really, against) a loved one. Mr. Rocker’s partner was his girlfriend, Julie McGee. Blistering sun, rationed food, unpredictable personalities in close quarters — how could things go wrong?

What he wanted from “Survivor,” most likely, was something of a fresh start, an opportunity to wash away the stains of his professional life and be reborn.

Step in front of the cameras and be free — such is the mantra of a recent wave of reality shows, which take the American impulse toward renewal one step further, by enabling people to shuck off the identities they’d spent decades forming and have a chance at starting anew. This fall, Fox began an ambitious show, “Utopia,” which isolated 15 participants on a California ranch with minimal amenities (but dozens of cameras) and tasked them with building a society from scratch. On the National Geographic Channel, “Live Free or Die” follows a handful of people living in extreme anti-modern fashion.

Both of these shows were rooted in the premise that capitalist society is, in effect, broken, and demands a severe head-cleaning to rid oneself of its evils. This is a shift for reality television, which has often been used as a vehicle to a better, more-enhanced self. In the 2000s, reality TV tended toward ubiquitous makeover shows, from the charitable “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” to the smilingly sinister “America’s Next Top Model” to the ghastly theatrics of “The Swan.” These were game shows of a different sort: Subject yourself to the cameras, and you would be rewarded handsomely.

Now reality TV is in retreat. Series about those who work hardscrabble blue-collar jobs have given way to series that romanticize those who live with very little, off the grid. You could run a whole network just with shows about living in Alaska — “Life Below Zero,” also on Nat Geo, is a worthy recent entry in that category, sharing traits with the newest spate of pioneer shows.

Those programs fetishize a pre-technological, pre-capitalist mode of being. On each, participants often talk about their reasons for leaving civilization behind — some thoughtful, some naïve. “Utopia,” which got the ax from Fox after only two months into a planned yearlong run, included Dave, an ex-convict looking to change his life by separating himself from old influences; Bella, an earth mother scared of microwave ovens; and Red, a good ol’ boy with deep family demons.

But the real world was never far away. One of the signature tensions of “Utopia” — and there were many — was over whether the society being built on the show should mirror the one out in the real world. More often than not, it did — no one brought any Fourier to inspire something more radical.

Josh, a contractor, got plumbing and electricity up and running fairly quickly. Within weeks, there was private enterprise. Attempts at nondemocratic government systems largely flopped. Utopia, in this case, wasn’t much more than the comfort of the familiar.

“Live Free or Die,” by contrast, emphasizes experimental living, or at least, choices that were once the norm but feel radical in a modern context. There’s Colbert, who walked away from civilization 25 years ago to live on Georgia swampland (though he still likes his morning coffee). He built his home from scratch over 15 years. “I’m way more connected to this house than I am to all the fine houses that I’ve had,” he says.

Thorn is a former schoolteacher — he didn’t like “being on someone else’s terms” — who has opted to live in a hut he built and makes all his clothes by hand, from available materials.

These are people who have considered what America has to offer, and more or less turned away. And they are keen to spread their message: Thorn’s young daughter comes to stay with him, and helps him with projects, while in a recent episode Colbert took on a nephew and tried to guide him in the ways of the wild.

And they try not to poison themselves with money exchange. Colbert traps beaver and raccoon and mails the pelts to be auctioned for money, which doesn’t add up to much — his annual expenses are around $2,000, he says. (A spokesman for National Geographic Channel confirmed that the show’s stars were paid for their participation in the series, though that income source isn’t alluded to in the show itself.)

For these participants, who long ago went rogue, the cameras are there merely to bear witness. In some cases, though, the cameras are an agent of reverse transformation, as on “Living in Secret,” which begins Dec. 2 on LMN.

Unlike the former series “Intervention,” here the ones who are suffering are choosing to reveal their secret lives. The premiere episode follows Claudia, a shopping addict, and Sophie, a prostitute (those are not their real names) who want to let go of their identities and reclaim their old selves, which they do by confessing to a loved one. The show has a neat conceit — the protagonists’ faces are obscured until they reveal themselves, real names included, suggesting that they are not truly whole until they have wiped themselves clean.

Again: this is reality TV as scouring pad, and an argument that the better self is the one who’s walked away from society’s temptations.

As for Mr. Rocker, his tenure on “Survivor” was short and fraught. He was bitter to teammates and opponents alike. A few other contestants recognized him from the real world and began to poke at him about his past.

After one confrontation with a female member of the opposing team got particularly hot, Mr. Rocker coolly said, “If you were a man, I would knock your teeth out.” He was voted out shortly thereafter.

Stripped down to his essence, Mr. Rocker proved to be as bilious as ever. But at least he got what he wanted — everyone saw him for exactly who he was.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/23/ar...ref=television
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post #98012 of 98029 Old Today, 06:20 AM
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TV/Technology Notes
Verizon builds; will cord cutters come?
By Mike Snider, USA Today - Nov. 22, 2014

Pay-TV and broadband Internet providers have begun catering to the growing population of cord-cutters and cord-nevers.

Available now from Verizon: a $59.99 FiOS Internet package with 50 megabits per second broadband speeds, with local TV channels, HBO, Showtime and a free year of Netflix.

Other ISPs have attempted to lure consumers beyond their data-only broadband subscriptions, too. AT&T, for instance, has a $39.99 U-Verse broadband package with HBO and a year of Amazon Prime and its video service.

But Verizon's is the boldest move and the latest sign of the growing clout given to consumers who don't subscribe to traditional pay-TV packages.

Over the past several weeks, content companies have officially begun targeting the 13 million or so broadband homes without pay TV. CBS launched two different Net TV offerings: the free ad-supported CBSN 24/7 news network and subscription-based All Access service. HBO and Showtime have standalone Net-delivered subscription channels coming next year, too.

Verizon's FiOS package with HBO, Showtime and Netflix began in October as a special offer in the New York region, but the telecom giant decided to take it national last week (you can view the deal on verizon.com). "We found many people are choosing data-only packages and then they subscribe to Netflix or Hulu, but they might want some live sports and live coverage," said Verizon Chief Marketing Officer John Harrobin.

Verizon hopes that customers have a good experience and eventually add on services such as FiOS TV, which lets you watch content outside the home through its FiOS mobile app.

Analysts seem to agree. "We think this package looks extremely competitive and appears designed to recapture cord-cutters," said Oppenheimer analyst Tim Horan in a research report according to Investor's Business Daily. "This could have a material impact to net adds in Q4 and is slightly negative for Comcast."

Companies such as Verizon that offer broadband and traditional pay TV are betting that young customers and Millennials will opt for additional services in the years to come.

"I think over time it will be more clear to us and the industry how their life stage impacts their usage over time," Harrobin said. "I think it's still kind of nascent. But from a socio-anthropological standpoint, it's going to be really interesting to watch."

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/p...kage/19396911/
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post #98013 of 98029 Old Today, 06:22 AM
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FRIDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insights' Blog.
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post #98014 of 98029 Old Today, 06:26 AM
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Nielsen Overnights
‘Constantine’ Ratings Rise, ‘Last Man Standing’ Down, ‘Shark Tank’ Up, ‘Blue Bloods’ Even
ABC Wins Night In Demo
By Dominic Patten, Deadline.com - Nov. 22, 2013

There were no Hollywood Film Awards or other disruptions to the Big 4 primetime schedule last night. Which meant everything clocked back into its regular Friday pattern with ABC (1.6/5) winning the night among adults 18-49 while CBS took the viewership top spot (9.19 million) on the final Friday of the November sweep.

The surprise of the night was actually over on NBC with sometimes flailing freshman Constantine (1.1/4). After taking a big dive last week on a night of ostensibly less competition the demon detective series based on the classic Hellblazer DC Comic series jumped up an undeniably impressive 38% among the key demo. Maybe it was because the show is starting to resemble the comic more, but only was that the best Constantine has done demowise since the 1.4 of its October 24 debut but, with 3.5 million watching, it is the best the series has done viewership since then too.

Having said that, Constantine did not win its 10 PM time slot. Once again the show was third after Blue Bloods (1.3/4) and 20/20 (1.6/5). The CBS police procedural was even with its last original of November 7 while the ABC news mag was up almost as much as its NBC rival with a 33% rise in the key demo. Blue Bloods was, as almost always, the most watched show of the night with 11.50 million tuning in.

Overall CBS was second place among the demo with an overall rating of 1.3/4 and hence doing way better than last week’s dismal debut airing of the Hollywood Film Awards, which garnered CBS a nightly 0.5/2 rating and a fifth place tie with The CW. Like Blue Bloods, the rest of the network’s line-up was pretty much the same as two weeks before. The 8 PM The Amazing Race (1.2/4) matched its last original with 9 PM Hawaii Five-O (1.3/5) with an 8% bop up from its November 7 show.

After a season high last week, ABC comedies Last Man Standing (1.3/5) and newbie Cristela (1.0/4) were down 13% and 9% respectively. But the night got better after that. With GoPro founder Nick Woodman joining as a guest Shark and a plan to revolutionize firewood for the winter months looking for investors, Shark Tank (2.0/7) was up 11% from last week. And of course, you know how well 20/20 did.

At 9 PM, NBC’s Grimm (1.3/4) did not see the leap of it lead-out Constantine but the dark series was also up a bit – with an 8% rise over last week. That’s ties Grimm for the best the show has done in the demo since its October 24 season premiere. Grimm actually hit a season high last night in viewers with 5.4 million watching. Part of that likely came from the 7.7 million who were watching lead-in Dateline (1.5/5), which was even with last week.

The CW’s Whose Line Is It Anyway (0.5/2) at 8 PM and America’s Next Top Model (0.4/1) at 9 PM were the same as last week’s results. Fox was all repeats with MasterChef Junior (0.8/3) and Gotham (0.4/2).

http://deadline.com/2014/11/constant...mm-1201292984/
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post #98015 of 98029 Old Today, 06:30 AM
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TV Reviews
Hallmark Channel’s ‘The Christmas Shepherd,’ ‘One Christmas Eve’
By Brian Lowry, Variety.com - Nov. 21, 2013

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and Hallmark Channel is beginning to look a lot like Animal Planet. Two holiday movies — including “One Christmas Eve,” the first Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation not to air on broadcast television — will run on successive Sundays, and both feature adorable dogs at the center of the action. While each project possesses likable elements, the similarities say as much as one needs to know regarding the formulaic approach of the network’s “Countdown to Christmas” lineup, which now dutifully arrives each year with all the workmanlike efficiency of Santa’s elves.

Starring Anne Heche, “One Christmas Eve” is the higher-profile of the two films, in which the mysterious arrival of a new puppy triggers a hijinks-filled series of incidents, ultimately reinforcing the message that family is what you choose to make of it.

By contrast, “The Christmas Shepherd,” headlined by Teri Polo, is a more conventional romance, as a widowed children’s book writer is understandably upset when her late husband’s beloved German Shepherd escapes during a storm. The dog, Buddy, winds up at the house of a single dad, Mark (Martin Cummins), and his young daughter (Jordyn Ashley Olson), who instantly becomes attached to the beast, providing a kibbles-n-bits version of “meet-cute.”

What proves most fascinating, though, are the parallels between the two movies. Polo’s husband is dead, for instance, and her son is serving in Afghanistan. In “One Christmas Eve,” the fellow who drops off the puppy at Heche’s house, Cesar (Carlos Gomez), is widowed, and his daughter’s serving in Afghanistan.

Nothing says Christmas cheer, apparently, quite like deceased spouses and absent loved ones in the military.

To its credit, “The Christmas Shepherd,” written by Michael J. Murray and directed by Terry Ingram, doesn’t throw a lot of silly interludes into the narrative, beyond the central conceit that Mark and his daughter are reluctant to give the dog back immediately to its rightful owner. Instead, the movie relies on the fragility of Polo’s character — her reticence to try dating again — to keep Mark at bay. That said, Ace the dog (aw, who’s a good boy?) predictably steals every scene he’s in.

Similarly, “One Christmas Eve” — directed by Jay Russell from a script by Holly Goldberg Sloan — represents a step up in class from the “Hall of Fame’s” uninspired stretch while airing on ABC, although its quirkiness in getting from Heche’s insistence that “I’ve got everything under control” to the heartwarming finale proves strained and uneven.

Despite the divergent tones, both movies fall into the Hallmark wheelhouse, which hinges on the audience knowing how it’s all going to wind up in the first 10 minutes, and then just savoring the voyage.

Still, in the spirit of not leaving anything to chance, “One Christmas Eve” and “The Christmas Shepherd” each seal the deal, or at least try to, by assisting the audience with the dramatic equivalent of a guide dog.

Hallmark Channel's 'The Christmas Shepherd,' 'One Christmas Eve'
Hallmark Channel, Sun. Nov. 23, 8 p.m.
Hallmark Channel, Sun. Nov. 30, 8 p.m.


http://variety.com/2014/tv/reviews/t...ve-1201359815/
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post #98016 of 98029 Old Today, 06:39 AM
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TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
SUNDAY Network Primetime Options
(All shows are in HD unless noted; start times are ET)

ABC:
7PM - America's Funniest Home Videos
8PM - 2014 American Music Awards (3 hrs., LIVE)

CBS:
7PM - NFL Football: Regional Action (from 4:25PM, LIVE)
7:30PM - 60 Minutes
8:30PM - Madam Secretary
9:30PM - The Good Wife
10:30PM - CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

NBC:
7PM - Football Night in America (80 min., LIVE)
8:20PM - Sunday Night Football: Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants (LIVE)

FOX:
7PM - The Simpsons
(R - May 4)
7:30PM - Mulaney (Time Slot Premiere)
8PM - The Simpsons
8:30PM - Brooklyn Nine-Nie
9PM - Family Guy
(R - Jan. 12)
9:30PM - Bob's Burgers

PBS:
(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Jay Leno: The Mark Twain Prize (90 min.)
9:30PM - Richard Pryor - Icon
10:30PM - Robin Williams Remembered -- A Pioneers of Television Special
(R - Sep. 9)

UNIVISION:
7PM - Aquí y Ahora
8PM - Va Por Tí (120 min.)
10PM - Sal y Pimienta

TELEMUNDO:
7PM - Yo Soy El Artista (120 min.)
9PM - Movie: Unstoppable (2010)
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post #98017 of 98029 Old Today, 06:43 AM
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TV Notes
Sometimes, Old-Fashioned Pays Off
Ben McKenzie Returns to New York for ‘Gotham’
By Mike Hale, The New York Times - Nov. 23, 2013

Ben McKenzie grew up in Texas and became famous at 24 for playing a moody young Californian on “The O.C.” Now that he’s starring in Fox’s “Gotham” as Detective James Gordon, future friend of Batman and the only good cop in Gotham City, it feels as if he’s new to New York.

But there’s a drab building on Ninth Avenue that he called home for a year during his brief I’ll-be-your-server-tonight phase, and on a recent morning he stands in front of it looking acutely embarrassed while a reporter repeatedly buzzes his former fourth-floor walk-up.

The situation highlights several traits of Mr. McKenzie, who at 36 has already been the leading man in three successful television series (including “Southland”). He’s a good sport. He’s unassuming, showing up early for an interview, with no handlers, and waiting patiently on a Hell’s Kitchen sidewalk. And as a former high school football player, he can take a hit: His forehead sports an ugly, purple, two-inch gash, sustained the day before when a fight scene got too vigorous, and his head hit a pillar.

“Gotham” is filmed at Steiner Studios at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and on location around the city, and Mr. McKenzie, back in New York after more than a decade, is now living comfortably in the East Village (a neighborhood he admits he found a little intimidating in 2001). But he remembers well the feeling of sharing a tiny room with bunk beds, of waiting on tables and doing data entry, of trying to find work just as the Sept. 11 attacks battered the downtown theater scene. There were times when following the footsteps of his father, a prominent Austin, Tex., lawyer, seemed like a good idea.

“I’m sure there are actors who never doubted for a minute that they had to do this,” Mr. McKenzie said, adding, “I’m not one of them. I’m way too much of a realist. Or a wimp.”

He had a good team around him, though, and on the advice of his uncle, the playwright Robert Schenkkan (“All the Way”), and his mentor, the actorErnie Sabella, he moved to Los Angeles to seek TV and film work. After one more very slow year, when he slept on Mr. Sabella’s floor, he was cast as the sensitive bad-boy Ryan Atwood on “The O.C.,” which ran for four seasons on Fox. From there, he went straight to a lead role as a young cop for five seasons in “Southland” on NBC and TNT. Now, “Gotham” is doing well enough in the ratings that a struggling Fox extended the planned 16 episodes this season to 22.

There is a throwback quality to Mr. McKenzie, in both his polite manner and square-jaw looks, and it meshes with his roles so far. Antiheroes like Walter White and Don Draper may be all the rage on TV these days, but Mr. McKenzie’s characters, despite their imperfections, have been classic Hollywood-style idealists. In “Gotham,” Gordon is the new detective trying to clean up a vividly debauched city and a corrupt police force.

“I think he has what we needed in Gordon, that sense of integrity, not just being true to oneself but a well-mannered patience and generosity,” said Danny Cannon, an executive producer of “Gotham.” “That then gets you labeled as being old-fashioned, but that’s true, and that’s a trait that’s in a lot of movie stars.”

The manners are evident when a current tenant of the Ninth Avenue apartment comes down the stairs, not happily, to see who woke him up. He’s an aspiring musician, rather than an actor, but Mr. McKenzie quickly charms him anyway, and everyone heads upstairs for a look at the old digs, which are as cramped and dark as ever. Mr. McKenzie takes a long look at the door to his old room, which is closed because the two roommates now sharing it are still asleep.

“When you live in those quarters,” he said later over coffee at Amy’s Bread, “maybe some people deal with it better than others, but it always felt like it was bearing down on me. And then you’d go out to auditions and get rejected and come home and still be in that cramped space.”

The seriousness and sincerity he projects in an interview are attested to by anyone you care to ask — eventually you give up and start writing down “integrity” and “decency” automatically. Josh Schwartz, creator of “The O.C.,” recalled, “He took it really seriously, and brought just a lot of integrity, and integrity is not always required in a Fox teen drama.”

Mr. Schenkkan, the proud uncle, said: “Maybe it’s being the oldest son. That sense of responsibility.”

Responsibility is part of the package with “Gotham.” Mr. Cannon and the show’s creator, Bruno Heller, supervise the series long distance from their Los Angeles base, and Mr. McKenzie relishes taking a leadership role on the set. Asked by an ill-prepared reporter whether he has a producing credit on the show, he said: “I don’t. Yet. Don’t print that. Please don’t print that.”

He described “Gotham,” a “Batman” prequel that takes place when Bruce Wayne is still a child, as “a serialized cop procedural set in a mythological world.” Characters like the Penguin and the Riddler appear as their younger selves, but no one has superpowers, which sets “Gotham” apart from another new, successful DC Comics-based series, CW’s “Flash.”

“The Flash can run really, really fast,” Mr. McKenzie said. “They say, ‘You’ve got to get here,’ and he’s like, ‘No problem.’ We can’t do that. And I love that.” Pointing to the welt on his forehead, he added, “Jim Gordon certainly doesn’t have powers.”

And as long as the quiet, guarded leading-man thing is working for him — asked about acting role models, he rattles off a few names, then adds, “Steve McQueen, of course” — he’s not worried about being typecast.

“Young actors are always very sweet about it,” he said. “I did a high school Q. and A., an actor said: ‘I do this one thing. I’m worried about getting stereotyped.’ A 16-year-old kid. And I’m like: ‘Look, if you are being stereotyped, that means you have something to stereotype. So they’re casting you. That is an amazing thing. That is a gift. Worry about being pigeonholed in your 50s.’ ”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/23/ar...ref=television
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TV Notes
Inside ‘The Queen Latifah Show’ Cancellation: What Went Wrong
By Jethro Nededog, TheWrap.com - Nov. 21, 2013

EXCLUSIVE: Friday morning's cancellation of “The Queen Latifah Show” seemed like a pretty cut and dry decision to most, but insiders would say that its demise wasn't a surprise to those involved and is helping to pave the way for a new, more competitive daytime entry.

“When they launched the second season, they knew it was make or break time,” an individual close to production told TheWrap. “The writing was already on the wall.”

The show ended its first season as the No. 1 new talk show in daytime, but still its ratings weren't very high. Ahead of Friday's cancellation, the show still isn't heating up the ratings chart in its second season. It measured a 1.1 household rating in the most recent week available, with 1.4 million total viewers. Season-to-date, it's averaging a 1.0 with 1.4 million total viewers, which means that her audience is staying level and that they're loyal.

So, why cancel a show with a name host and an allegiant audience?

Perhaps, the host didn't want to continue.

According to one of TheWrap's insiders, Latifah was only signed for a two-year contract and probably realized that it wouldn't be renewed. ”I think she was phoning it in the whole time,” the individual said.

Latifah posted a letter to herself on Facebook in which she congratulated herself for “dedication” and “sacrifice,” as well as exemplifying “true grit” in the “face of challenges.”

A representative for producer Sony Pictures Television wouldn't comment on its decision to end the show beyond its statement thanking Latifah, the show's staff and its advertisers.

And, perhaps there is a replacement waiting in the wings.

In October 2013, Hilary Estey McLoughlin left Telepictures to become president of creative affairs at CBS TV distribution. Up until recently, she was developing her own “baby” in a forthcoming daytime talk show with actor Jerry O'Connell.

The insider speculated that CBS affiliates, which aired “Latifah,” are much more inclined to keep things in the family. ”CBS would obviously rather buy a product from CBS,” the individual said.

With troubles of its own, the O'Connell project was searching for two “comedic women” to accompany the actor each day on a panel. One individual told TheWrap that popular “So You Think You Can Dance” host Cat Deeley came into test as a possible co-host and decided on-the-spot that it wasn't the right choice for her.

Contrary to what the insiders said, a representative for CBS-owned TV stations laid the blame for the show's end squarely with Sony TV. He told TheWrap that the company had just found out about the “Latifah” cancelation itself on Friday morning and that it had no idea what it will put in its place on the schedule at this time.

Maybe, there's some big competition on the horizon.

Tyra Banks is set to return to daytime in Fall 2015 with her own daytime panel talk show with co-hosts model Chrissy Teigen, Elle creative director Joe Zee, designer Lauren Makk and YouTube star Leah Ashley. And the buzz about town is that the Disney-ABC-produced talk show's pilot is fantastic.

“People are running scared, because Tyra's pilot is amazing, probably the best offering for the format next year,” another individual with knowledge of the decision told TheWrap. “Whatever goes against Tyra has to be really strong.”

With Latifah's so-so ratings, the show isn't in the best position to take on Banks. Plus, there's a fear that two black women on television will divide the audience.

“I think race had a bit to do with it,” the insider said. “And perhaps two black females in the category would split the audience.”

CBS TV may believe a show hosted by a white male like O'Connell can set itself apart from Banks. No pressure, right?

“CBS needs this to be a hit,” the insider said, “so they have viable competition for Tyra's daytime show that ABC is launching in the fall.”

Update: TheWrap has confirmed that O'Connell's show has been dropped by CBS TV Distribution.

http://www.thewrap.com/inside-the-qu...ong-exclusive/
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TV Notes
John O'Hurley returns for his 13th year as co-host of the National Dog Show
And on Fox, Hilary Swank and Jane Lynch host 'Cause for Paws,' highlighting plight of rescue dogs
By David Hinckley, New York Daily News - Nov. 23, 2013

John O’Hurley owns a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and were it not for her tooth alignment issue, it’s possible O’Hurley might have been on the other side of the camera for Thursday’s annual televised National Dog Show.

As it is, O’Hurley and canine expert David Frei will return for their 13th year as co-hosts of the show (NBC, noon-2 p.m.), which has become almost as embedded a Thanksgiving TV tradition as football.

Okay, we said “almost.” But last year it drew an estimated 22 million viewers, a number that makes pretty much every other show on television pant with envy.

That may be one reason why the Thanksgiving dog park on TV got a little more crowded this year.

“Cause for Paws,” a show designed to call attention to the plight of rescue dogs, will air Thursday on Fox, 6-8 p.m.

“Cause” is executive-produced by long-time rescue activist Hilary Swank, who will co-host the show with Jane Lynch.

It will feature 35 rescue dogs and some of Swank’s famous human friends, who will drop by to encourage adoptions. That group includes Scarlett Johansson, Betty White, Josh Duhamel and Kristen Bell, as well as singers Miranda Lambert, Paula Abdul, Fergie, LeAnn Rimes and Kesha.

It’s a different kind of show from the National Dog Show, which is a more traditional presentation with a different goal: showcasing the purebreds that best represent the standards of 192 American Kennel Club-recognized breeds.

O’Hurley says that’s been an education for him as well.

“I’ve learned a lot over 13 years," he says. “I don’t ask the silly questions any more, like which end of the dog are they judging.

“Now I can actually recognize a good dog in the ring.”

That won’t be his dog, though it was close.

“Our Cavalier comes from champion lineage,” says O’Hurley. “But she has a bit of an overbite, so she’s not show material. And we love her dearly.”

Unlike the annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show in February, which is televised live from Madison Square Garden, the National Dog Show is taped several days earlier in Philadelphia.

It’s then edited down from seven hours to two, which Frei says can create some challenges.

“When you’ve only got two hours, you can’t show all the breeds,” he says. “So you get some complaints about why this dog or that dog wasn’t shown. We try to assuage some of that online, where you can see all the dogs.”

What’s on TV, though, says O’Hurley, makes the point, which is that “dogs make you smile. We walk into that show and see 2,000 dogs, and there isn’t a frown in the place. It’s the happiest day of the year.

“The show on TV brings everyone together. Football telecasts are so regional now that not everyone is going to care about every game. The parade isn’t for everyone.

“But no one doesn’t like dogs. Old, young, the whole family can watch.”

Including the family dog.

“People send us pictures all the time of their dog barking at the dog on the screen,” says Frei. “You’d be surprised.”

The producers of “Cause for Paws” are hoping that it’s the human viewers who will be drawn to the dogs on the screen — enough to take them home, or take another rescue dog home.

The show is a high-profile version of local rescue events that take place all over the country, as rescue organizations try to cut down on the number of dogs who are euthanized each year at pet shelters because the shelters don’t have the room or resources to keep them all.

“About nine million animals end up in shelters every year and only about half make it out,” notes Swank.

“Cause for Paws” will urge viewers who want a dog to shop first at the local shelter — where many of the dogs won’t be purebreds, but where they have the same wagging tails and eagerness to chase a tennis ball or take a nap next to you on the couch.

While some rescue dogs are purebreds, many of the others are better described as one-of-a-kinds.

There have been pockets of tension over the years between rescue groups and the AKC, with rescue groups expressing concern that some breeders or owners dump dogs who don’t meet AKC standards.

Or that the mere existence of AKC standards creates a perception that mixed breeds are somehow not as good.

Frei and O’Hurley note that the National Dog Show doesn’t only promote show winners. It also promotes therapy dogs, like the ones who participate in Frei’s Angel on a Leash program, and it encourages viewers to value their own dog, whatever its breed or lack of breed.

“The most important dog in the world,” Frei says, “is the one sitting beside you.”

O’Hurley notes that one of the goals of the National Dog Show is to educate potential owners on the characteristics of each breed, so they will know what they are getting and be less likely to decide they don't like what they have gotten.

“The shelters are full of dogs that someone took for a trial run,” says O’Hurley. “That saddens me.”

Because he’s not the only one who feels that way, “Cause for Paws” may be a little more heart-tugging than the National Dog Show.

But they both celebrate humankind’s relationship with the most loyal companion ever, and that extends from the basic bonds down to the subtlest nuances.

“One of the things we’ll put in a little more this year is how the handlers handle the dogs,” says O'Hurley. “If the handler doesn’t have exactly the same pace as the dog when they go around the ring, it can throw the dog’s gait off and the dog won’t look as good.”

“They say great handlers are invisible in the ring,” says Frei — but really, the best handlers and the best dogs work together.

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertain...icle-1.2017894
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TV Review
‘Booze Traveler,’ worth a belt or three
Travel Channel series is a lot smarter than its title suggests
By Tom Conroy, Media Life Magazine

If a documentary series is based on a premise, maybe it’s best to test the premise early. The Travel Channel’s series “Booze Traveler” posits that by drinking alcoholic beverages with the locals, one can gain insight into their culture.

Its premiere episode goes to a country that’s 99 percent Muslim.

Airing next Monday, Nov. 24, at 10 p.m., the premiere episode is set in Turkey, where the host, a former bartender named Jack Maxwell, explores the people’s ambivalent relationship with alcohol, which is legal but discouraged culturally and practically.

Despite its title, the show isn’t excessively or exclusively boozy. It should please the usual armchair travelers as well as those who like picking up a little history and sociology.

The premiere episode finds plenty of booze in Turkey. According to the locals whom Maxwell meets, the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, was a fan of the anise-flavored brandy raki and declared it the country’s national drink.

We see almost too much of the stuff.

Maxwell and his guide go to a rough working-class district and drink it with a group of self-styled anarchists and soccer fans. Then, after going fishing on the Sea of Marmara, he has multiple servings while eating grilled mackerel and anchovies during an outdoor lunch with fishermen.

In voice-over, Maxwell tells us, “There’s a proverb that says raki is the pimp that brings men and fish together for acts of love.”

After trying fish and raki, he says, “Now I finally get that old Turkish saying, ‘The fish in your stomach will cry if the raki doesn’t follow it down.’ ” Something is probably lost in translation.

Later, right after the call for Friday prayers, Maxwell shares more of the drink while attending an assembly of writers, artists and intellectuals.

Fortunately, there are other drinks: Early one day, Maxwell and his guide try boza, a thick fermented grain beverage that is often served topped with cinnamon and grilled chickpeas and scooped up with a spoon.

This was reportedly another favorite of Ataturk’s. We’re not surprised when we hear that he died of cirrhosis of the liver.

Maxwell keeps learning about strange alcohol laws. It’s apparently perfectly legal to drink beer on the streets of Istanbul. A couple of DJs tell him they hold outdoor parties once a week.

A British expatriate who’s running a pub and microbrewery shows Maxwell his beer menu, which tells customers they have to use their imagination. The law forbids him to promote his product, even in his own building.

Maxwell, who says he comes from South Boston, manages to mingle equally well with the soccer fans and the intellectuals.

At the end, he travels to the Turkish island of Bozcaada, where an otherwise devout Muslim is reviving the vineyards, which fell into disuse during the 20th century as the local Greeks emigrated.

“If you want to build a culture,” he tells Maxwell, “it takes hundreds and hundreds of years, but if you want to lose it, two generations is enough.”

Moments like that raise “Booze Traveler” above the level of the expected pub crawl. You don’t have to be a drunk to enjoy it.

http://www.medialifemagazine.com/boo...th-belt-three/
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TV Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Nov. 23, 2014

THE KENNEDY CENTER MARK TWAIN PRIZE: JAY LENO
PBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

The latest honoree of this prize, named after the greatest humorist and political satirist in American history, is Jay Leno. Guests assembled for the night’s festivities include Leno’s Tonight Show successor, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Jerry Seinfeld and Betty White. Not to rain on Leno’s parade, but every year at this time, I wonder: Why in the hell hasn’t this award been bestowed upon the Smothers Brothers, whose sense of humor, and outrage, matched Mark Twain’s in deed as well as spirit? Check local listings.

THE WIZARD OF OZ
TBS, 8:00 p.m.

This is one of the video snippets in my current Personal Theory of TV Evolution exhibit at the apexart gallery in New York’s TriBeCa – in a display about the earliest TV programming I can remember. Except, back then, the entire 1939 movie was in black and white, at least to me, because, as a young kid, I was watching on my family’s black-and-white TV set. Back then, you had to wait a year for Oz to show up on television. Now you can watch it any time, on your own DVD – but it’s still worth mentioning whenever it’s shown on television. So here it is… 58 years after it was broadcast the first time.

THE WALKING DEAD
AMC, 9:00 p.m.

After a series of harrowing episodes showing one or two of our hardy survivors at a time, tonight’s adventure reunites many of them in a “gang’s all here” kind of reunion. Well, many of them, anyway. And they’re reuniting for yet another grim and risky battle – this time to mount a surprise invasion of the medical facility where two of their own are being held against their will.

HOMELAND
Showtime, 9:00 p.m.

Last week, Saul (Mandy Patinkin) escaped from captivity, and was led by Carries (Claire Danes) to safety – until he wasn’t. What a dramatic episode. And what’s to happen this week, now that Saul is back in enemy hands, and the identity of the CIA double agent has been exposed?

THE GOOD WIFE
CBS, 9:30 p.m. ET
MIDSEASON FINALE:
Last week, I asked, “Could things get any worse for poor Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry)?” The answer was yes – he now has a bodyguard, and even though he had a clear-the-air face-to-face conversation with Bishop, the danger remains palpable. And tonight, in an episode titled “The Trial,” Cary faces a judge, and a jury, in the trial that may send him away for 15 years.


http://www.tvworthwatching.com/
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TV Reviews
Can They Take the Veil?
In ‘The Sisterhood: Becoming a Nun’ Lifetime has an entertaining but illuminating reality series about prospective brides of Christ.
By Nancy DeWolf Smith, Wall Street Journal

In “The Sisterhood,” Lifetime gives the reality-show treatment to prospective brides of Christ. The series tells the story of five women in their 20s who are said to be in “discernment,” a process through which they may decide whether to become Catholic nuns. Over six episodes, cameras will follow them to three convents where they will meet sisters from different orders and with different service missions. The nuns seem 100% real. Some of the young women seem made for reality TV.

The question about a show like this was always going to be whether anything meaningful about spiritual questing could emerge through the chaff of emotional outbursts and catfights that drive so much of female-centered television. It can.

To see it you have to look past the nonsense—some hype for the camera, some the result of immaturity (which would seem to include wanting to parade one’s religious questing before a mass audience). But the executive producers, including Shannon and Eric Evangelista of “Amish Mafia” fame, have framed their subject here with respect, despite some predictable memes.

Eseni, for instance, is a parochial-schooled New Yorker. Her story line is that chaos in her home life has made her distrust men—although she has a boyfriend, the parting from whom is depicted as a wrenching experience.

For Eseni, one appeal of a convent is that “life is so simple, they’re so happy.” But the nuns—voices of wisdom and compassion, if sometimes tartly delivered—know that religious life is far more complicated. Finding peace in a convent “can be difficult,” one sister says, “especially if you are running away from something.”

Christie, a California girl, is looking for a charismatic, courtship-like experience with her savior. Although she practices chastity, she has joyous dreams about flirting with him. In one, she recounts, “I’m dancing with Jesus,” who starts swaying to the music. “It was romantic. I was whoa, whoa, Jesus,” she rhapsodizes.

Claire, a music teacher and church musician, comes across as the most mature and demure. In discernment, she explains, “You’re asking God: What did you have in mind when you created me?”

But Claire is sometimes viewed by others as too judgmental. “I have no problem with conservative or traditional Catholicism,” a Carmelite sister explains, “but do they have the capacity to pray and work with people with different beliefs?”

Stacey moved to New York be a star on Broadway, but then what she describes as “dissatisfaction” set in. Now one of her heroes is the Rev. Mother Dolores Hart, the successful actress, and star of 1960’s iconic “Where the Boys Are,” who left acting in 1963 and entered a convent. While contemplating a similar step, Stacey makes religious dolls and treasures a picture of what she calls “handsome surfer-dude Jesus” offering his heart.

Francesca, at 21 the youngest of the group, finds leaving the bosom of her large Italian family for the show extremely painful. The added trauma at the convent of being required to remove her makeup brings on an anxiety attack. “Would Jesus make me take off my makeup?” she quivers through her tears.

“Get a grip, it’s not all about you,” a nun says to the camera after one-too-many outbursts of this sort from the girls, before acknowledging that “they are the product of their environment.” (Although it makes you think: Is a tantrum over a confiscated cellphone a metaphoric explanation for why there seem to be no young nuns at the convent?”)

Even amid the inevitable meltdowns and minidramas of reality TV—through editing, one girl seems to lament that leaving the outside world would be especially hard because “I recently learned to twerk”—the possibility of true grace is never fully obscured. The young women may be entertaining to watch, but even their foolish self-centeredness can be an opportunity to grow, such as when a hospice patient they were afraid to meet humbles them in an inspiring way.

Whatever happens to these women, or to any of us, who cannot benefit from pondering the advice of one priest here?: “You need a vision for life,” he says from the pulpit. “Without a vision, your life becomes like a broken-winged bird trying to fly.”

The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns
Tuesdays 10 p.m. Lifetime


http://online.wsj.com/articles/tv-re...ime-1416525530

* * * *

Watch “When Turkeys Attack” and you will never look at your holiday bird the same way again. That’s probably a good thing. According to some experts on Destination America’s compendium of filmed attacks on humans, the 44 million turkeys we eat every year are crafty predators who could be as lethal as velociraptors if they were bigger. And now they’re getting more aggressive, says southern breeder Lane “Weasel” Wilkins : “We came over on the Mayflower and we started eatin’ these turkeys” and now they’re saying, “We’ve had enough.”

One lesson here: Turkeys by nature look for the weak, so if one comes at you don’t turn and run, because they can run 20 miles an hour, and you can’t. The other lesson may be the one brought home so strongly in Alfred Hitchcock ’s “The Birds.” So eat those turkeys if you will, enjoy them if you can. But watch out for them in your dreams Thursday night.

When Turkeys Attack
Wednesday 10 p.m. Destination America


http://online.wsj.com/articles/tv-re...&mg=reno64-wsj
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Critic's Notes
Hey, I’m Going 55. Cough Up the Cash.
By Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times - Nov. 23, 2013

Don’t think about this too hard, or you’ll be dismayed, but paying people to drive at the speed limit seems to be a better behavior modifier than pointing out to them that they might run over a small child or frail grandmother (or get a ticket).

That is among the lessons in Monday night’s premiere of “Crowd Control,” a 12-part series on the National Geographic Channel that explores unconventional ways to get people to do what they are usually reluctant to do.

The host is the author Daniel H. Pink, whose books include “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.” Less successful than his experiment with speeding drivers is his effort to curb bicycle thefts in a neighborhood where they are frequent by putting up life-size cardboard cutouts of police officers. You can probably guess what happens to those cutouts.

In later episodes, Mr. Pink takes on litterbugs in New Orleans, the baggage-claim process at airports, the frustrating wait at a Florida motor-vehicles department and more.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/23/ar...ref=television
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TV Review
‘Jay Leno: The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize’
By Brian Lowry, Variety.com - Nov. 21, 2013

The Kennedy Center Honors is traditionally one of the year’s classiest TV events, but its less-well-known cousin, “The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize” for American humor, could use a rewrite. At least, that’s true based on the 17th edition, honoring Jay Leno, which despite appearances by several high-profile comics saluting the former “Tonight Show” host, never bridges the gap between its live element and a simple clip show devoted to highlights from Leno’s body of work. Jimmy Fallon, at least, gets one thing right: After all Leno did for NBC, it’s strange that “we had to celebrate his career on PBS.”

Granted, devoting a full 90 minutes to such an endeavor (the CBS broadcast recognizes a handful of luminaries from different disciplines in roughly the same time) invites a certain degree of flab, and the jokes – much like a roast – can’t help but become a trifle repetitive. Leno owns a lot of cars, he wore funny outfits in his early days, nobody wants to be too nice lest they tick off Letterman, etc.

Even so, having each comic do a couple of minutes between clip segments doesn’t serve anyone particularly well, especially since the video – loosely divided into themes like Leno’s early TV appearances, or his political humor – is generally uninspired. Ditto for a musical number featuring Kristin Chenoweth and Leno’s band leader Kevin Eubanks, which feels rather obligatory: There’s this big hall full of people, might as well give them something theater-like.

The funniest gag, actually, seems to fly over the crowd’s heads, at least initially, as Seth Meyers says, “It’s so great to be on PBS,” then repeats it, louder, as if he’s addressing a TV audience too elderly to hear him.

For his part, Leno accepts the award in the closing moments, but oddly does a routine straight from his waning days on “The Tonight Show,” in which he talks about rapidly recovering from a motorcycle accident in his late 30s, when his latenight gig began, and hurting himself by coughing now that he’s in his 60s.

Leno sounds generally moved by the honor, and he’s certainly earned it, joining this decade’s recipients Tina Fey, Will Ferrell, Ellen DeGeneres and Carol Burnett.

Still, strictly judging “The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize” as a TV show, there’s still a better retrospective to be done on Leno in general, and his “Tonight” stint in particular. Who knows? Maybe even NBC will eventually get around to it.

'Jay Leno: The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize'
PBS, Sun. Nov. 23, 8 p.m. (check local listings)


http://variety.com/2014/tv/reviews/t...ze-1201360758/
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TV Notes
Best tube bets this weekend
The top draws on broadcast and cable and in sports
By Louisa Ada Seltzer, Media Life Magazine - Nov. 21, 2013

SUNDAY

Best bet on broadcast
:
ABC, “American Music Awards,” 8 p.m. Pitbull hosts the 42nd annual event, live from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.
It is interesting that ABC is promoting the premiere of the new Taylor Swift song. OK, so they are adding the fine print in that it is the broadcast premiere, even though the song, and its video, has been heard, and seen, by millions. Gotta love the spin the networks put on this stuff.

Going to be great seeing this in H.264 & 38 Mbps (after the show has finished airing).
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"What do you say Beckett. Wanna have a baby?" - Castle to Det. Beckett
"How Long have I been gone?" Alexis after arriving home and seeing Castle and Beckett w/ the baby - Castle - 11/25/13
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SATURDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insights' Blog.
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TV Notes
ABC Scraps John Stamos Dramedy 'Members Only'
By Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Live Feed' Blog - Nov. 23, 2013

EXCLUSIVE: Another straight-to-series pickup is getting the ax.

ABC will not move forward with its Susannah Grant drama series Members Only, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. The cast was informed Saturday that the network did not want to move ahead with the series starring John Stamos and Breaking Bad's Betsy Brandt.

Originally picked up straight to series in January, American Hustle's David O. Russell and Erin Brockovich's Grant were attached to co-write and exec produce the 13-episode drama.

A month later, Russell exited the project — formerly known as The Club — that was poised to be his first TV project.

The drama was described as an upstairs/downstairs soap centered on a private country club. Boris Kodjoe, Natalie Zea and Luke Mitchell co-starred.

Grant penned the script and exec produced the CBS Television Studios and ABC Studios co-production. Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly were also on board to exec produce.

ABC's midseason roster also includes hourlong soap Astronaut Wives Club, Captain America spinoff Agent Carter, John Ridley's American Crime, The Whispers and Ryan Phillippe's Secrets and Lies as well as comedies Galavant and Fresh Off the Boat. (Only Agent Carter, American Crime, Secrets and Galavant have been scheduled thus far.)

Members Only becomes the latest straight-to-series pickup to get the ax. NBC dropped Wizard of Oz mini Emerald City, Fox's ancient Egyptian entry Hieroglyph and NBC comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt — also picked up straight to series — just moved to Netflix with a two-season order. (For its part, NBC also dropped comedy Mission Control as the network focuses on drama for its midseason fare.) Straight-to-series pickups have become increasingly common as broadcast networks compete for projects in a crowded and competitive landscape.

The decision to drop Members Only comes as ABC has had a strong fall with drama fare, launching the season's biggest hit with Pete Nowalk's Shonda Rhimes-produced Viola Davis starrer How to Get Away With Murder, and picking up drama Forever for a full season.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/liv...forward-751538
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TV Notes
Ex-NBC ‘Fixer’ Says He Funneled Money, More To Cosby Women: Report
By David Bloom, Deadline.com - Nov. 23, 2013

Was NBC’s 1980s regime aware of any inappropriate off-stage behavior by their biggest comedy star Bill Cosby? A 90-year-old former NBC employee, Frank Scotti, says he arranged meetings, cash payments, apartments and more with a string of models and other women on behalf of Cosby during The Cosby Show run on the network between 1984 to 1992. This is the first time NBC has been implicated in the ongoing controversy that has included a number of women coming forward, accusing Cosby of sexual molestation 20-30 years ago.

Scotti, now retired and living in New Jersey, had been a facilities manager for the NBC studio in Brooklyn where The Cosby Show was filmed. He spoke with the New York Daily News, and provided copies of money orders totaling thousands of dollars to at least eight women during 1989 and 1990.

Scotti said he came forward now because he “felt sorry for the women.” At least 15 women have now alleged that Cosby drugged and raped them years ago. As the controversy has worsened, both NBC and Netflix have pulled new projects with Cosby, and TV Land has stopped running episodes of The Cosby Show.

Scotti said he eventually stopped because he felt uncomfortable with what he called the coverup of Cosby’s assignations with many women. Cosby attorney Martin Singer is quoted denying the allegations: “What evidence does he have of Mr. Cosby’s involvement?” Singer said. “How would Scotti know if a woman was a model or a secretary? It appears that his story is pure speculation so that he can get his 15 minutes of fame.”

http://deadline.com/2014/11/bill-cos...ti-1201293952/
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TV/Technology Notes
Verizon builds; will cord cutters come?
By Mike Snider, USA Today - Nov. 22, 2014

Pay-TV and broadband Internet providers have begun catering to the growing population of cord-cutters and cord-nevers.

Available now from Verizon: a $59.99 FiOS Internet package with 50 megabits per second broadband speeds, with local TV channels, HBO, Showtime and a free year of Netflix.

.................
http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/p...kage/19396911/
Wow!! That sounds like an excellent deal for someone that wants to cut out most of the channels. Although I'm guessing that after the initial term that the price will probably double?

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