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TV Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Dec. 19, 2014

MR. MAGOO'S CHRISTMAS CAROL
The CW, 8:00 p.m. ET

“And razzleberry dressing!” This 1962 animated Christmas special predated even A Charlie Brown Christmas by several years, and I love that it’s getting the full-respect treatment tonight. CW is presenting this wonderful musical adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic in a 90-minute time slot, which means, even with commercials, it will be presented relatively intact. Gather the family and enjoy, because the songs, by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill, are delightful – and when I was a kid and watched this special for the first time when I nine years old, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come haunted me long after the special was over. (And my family didn’t have a color set, so that particular ghost was even scarier in black and white.) Jim Backus stars, of course, as the voice of the vision-impaired Mr. Magoo, who’s shown here starring as Scrooge in a local theater production of A Christmas Carol.

ELF
ABC Family, 8:00 p.m.

This 2003 movie appears to be becoming a holiday tradition of sorts, receiving lots of airings since Thanksgiving. And why not? Will Ferrell is goofily giddy as the overgrown elf who leaves the North Pole to encounter life of a less sheltered sort, and Bob Newhart, as his elf boss, is a delight. So, by the way, is Zooey Deschanel, who showed off her lovely singing voice here long before she began releasing CDs as half of She and Him. And did you know that the voice of Leon the Snowman was provided by Leon Redbone? I didn’t, until just now.

MUPPETS MOST WANTED
Starz, 8:00 p.m.

This 2014 Muppet comedy introduces a Kermit the Frog doppelganger – Constantine, “The World’s Most Dangerous Frog,” who schemes to have Kermit thrown into a Russian prison so he can take Kermit’s place and commit crimes while on tour with the other Muppets. Tina Fey is particularly outrageous as a Russian prison guard – but luckily, Vladimir Putin did not hack the Disney studio to protest his country’s negative cinematic image. Other human co-stars: Ricky Gervais and Modern Family star Ty Burrell.

HIGH SOCIETY
TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Talk about high society: This 1956 movie musical is the romantic comedy made by Grace Kelly after she had just become engaged to Prince Rainier of Monaco. Here, she’s one point of a romantic triangle, the other points being crooners Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Sinatra plays the guy she intends to marry, and Crosby plays her ex-husband, who wants her back. Oh, and Louis Armstrong and his band are on hand throughout, making this even more valuable a movie musical.

THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN
NBC, 11:35 p.m. ET

A long-standing TV tradition ends tonight. With David Letterman set to step down next year, long before Christmas 2015, tonight’s annual Christmas show is the last time Darlene Love will be on hand to sing “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home”). It’s also the last time Jay Thomas, who has been on the show most years to toss a football at the giant meatball atop Letterman’s Christmas tree, is likely to share his story of driving around stoned with the Lone Ranger in his back seat.

THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH CRAIG FERGUSON
CBS, 12:37 a.m. ET
SERIES FINALE:
Last night, Stephen Colbert provided a very fitting farewell to his Colbert Report, gathering dozens of favorite guests on stage for a group sing-along before flying off to immortality on Santa’s sleigh. Tonight, Craig Ferguson ends his 10-year reign as the host of The Late Late Show, CBS’s follow-up to Late Show with David Letterman – and does it by featuring, as his final guest, Letterman’s one-time late-night rival, Jay Leno. Doubtlessly, there’s a message there – and there’s also likely to be a message, or at least an homage, in the show’s closing minutes. For a decade, Ferguson has been increasingly loose and impromptu with his opening monologues and his interviews with guests – but expect him to go out as Colbert did, with an involved and ambitious final sequence. These guys not only have am attuned sense of when to exit – but how.


http://www.tvworthwatching.com/

* * * *

TV Sports
New College Bowl System: Gerald Jordan Explains It All for You
By Gerald Jordan, TVWorthWatching.com - Dec. 19, 2014

Finally, a college football season will settle bar arguments around the country…or will it?

Collegiate national championships have been tainted, questioned, argued, challenged, disputed (you fill in the verb or your choice) for so long that those fans among us who are of a certain age never imagined that a big-time playoff ever would take place. The difficulty, college presidents argued over the years, was that a football playoff would extend the schedule to a point that would imperil the academic schedule for student athletes.

Sure.

Somehow that was no obstacle for small colleges whose championships for eons have been decided on the gridiron and not through voting by coaches, voting by writers and the machinations of a computer that never played a down of football.

As TV broadcast rights contracts increased to what student athletes would describe as ginormous, it’s amazing how the extended schedule shrunk as an obstacle to a national title game. So Alabama (12-1 and ranked No. 1) will play No. 4 Ohio State (12-1, and now relying on the third quarterback to start in this season) in the New Year’s Day Sugar Bowl. The other half of the bracket will be decided that same day in the Rose Bowl, pitting No. 2 Oregon, which features the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback, against No. 3 Florida State, which is undefeated and considerably unloved because of all the disciplinary questions stirred by the 2013 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback. Fans already want to see Oregon’s Marcus Mariota on a Wheaties box and FSU’s Jameis Winston on a post office wall. Life is hard for all-world QBs.

The 2014 college football season, though, was a grind. Leagues dubbed the Big 5 power conferences (Atlantic Coast, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-12 and the SEC) comprise the teams that are football’s version of investment banks – too big to fail, or in this case, to be excluded from the final four. In fact, jibber jabber up and down bar rails across the South had three Southeastern Conference teams playing among the four who would contest for the national title. It even got giddier when the SEC West briefly lined up four of the top five teams in the country. In the end, though, Alabama had to take care of an upstart Missouri team in the SEC championship game to make sure that the league would be represented at all in the final four.

Mostly that meant Baylor and TCU, each with a single loss and ranked No. 5 and No. 6 in the Dec. 7 College Football Playoff rankings, didn’t really appreciate the four-team playoff. Throughout the season, there were calls for expanding the bracket next year even before the four this year were identified.

Baylor and TCU cannot be distraught. Each of the Big 5 leagues will get $50 million, according to estimates by ESPN, even if the conference doesn’t have a team in the playoffs. About $6 million will go to each of the four playoff teams, according to ESPN. That’s just one aspect of the money that will be paid to conferences and teams for their participating in the array of bowls not involved in the playoffs. Even independent schools, with Notre Dame leading the way at $3.75 million, according to ESPN, get a bite of the pie.

Now, a pause for nostalgia.

Remember when Jan. 1 boasted the best of the bowls and that long day on the couch ended with the bittersweet notion that college football was over until spring football – except for a couple of all-star games? That’s the way it should have been. Hard-headed adherence to weekend games, even though it’s the holiday season, has led to “schedule creep.”

The Jan. 1 Rose and Sugar Bowls are preliminaries to the Jan. 12 national championship game, and should be left on the New Year’s day schedule, even though the holiday is Thursday. The nearly two weeks will give teams time to prepare for Jan. 12. But why does the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, or the Tax Slayer Bowl from Jacksonville, Fla. (remember when it was the good old Gator Bowl?), or the Alamo Bowl from San Antonio or the Cactus Bowl from Tempe, Arizona, get Jan. 2 TV time? That makes the games seem so anti-climactic, not to mention the Jan. 3 Birmingham Bowl or the Jan. 4 GoDaddy.com Bowl from Mobile, Alabama.

Why, oh why?

Starting with the Dec. 20 New Orleans Bowl, college football zealots will have 38 bowl games (all but three of them on ESPN and ESPN2) on which to engorge before feasting on the national title bowl. It’s bound to be one for the records, what with so many appealing story lines. To wit: Will Alabama expand its national championship trophy case? Will Oregon show that the Pac-12 indeed has the muscle to win the big one? Will Florida State continue to “refuse to lose”? Will Ohio State win the whole thing despite starting its third-string quarterback? Just imagine all that intrigue against a background of unadulterated rah-rah.

That works for nearly everybody except fans in Fort Worth (think TCU) and Waco (think Baylor). Those among the two schools’ faithful who’ll admit to snagging a leg in a bar stool will argue that their team should have been in the playoff.

It’s hard to argue though that the last team standing shouldn’t hold the national championship. College football really is a vibrant call to alumni pride, in spite of the hundreds of millions of dollars that call the plays in this age of TV contracts.

http://www.tvworthwatching.com/BlogP...px?postId=8680
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THURSDAY'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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Nielsen Overnights (18-49)
CBS dominates a slow Thursday night
'Mom' and a repeat of 'Big Bang' tie as the night's top show
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - Dec. 19, 2013

On a slow evening for broadcast, a repeat of “The Big Bang Theory” helped CBS to an easy primetime victory last night.

“Bang” averaged a 2.3 adults 18-49 rating at 8 p.m., according to Nielsen overnights. It tied with lead-out “Mom” as the night’s top program on broadcast.

“Mom” was down from last week’s series high but still posted a solid rating.

In fact, CBS was the only Big Four network with shows above a 1.0 in the demo last night.

But the network’s ratings may have been artificially inflated by an NFL game that aired on the CBS affiliate in Jacksonville. Fox also aired the game in Nashville, which may have impacted its ratings.

Elsewhere on broadcast, NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” slid to a series-low 0.9 at 8 p.m. The special “People Magazine Awards” posted a 0.8 in its debut broadcast, airing from 9 to 11 p.m.

Another special, the CW’s “iHeartRadio Jingle Ball 2014,” posted a 0.6 at 8 p.m., up 20 percent from last year’s broadcast.

CBS led the night among 18-49s with a 1.8 average overnight rating and a 6 share. Univision was second at 1.0/3, NBC third at 0.9/3, Fox fourth at 0.8/3, ABC fifth at 0.7/2, CW sixth at 0.6/2 and Telemundo seventh at 0.5/2.

As a reminder, all ratings are based on live-plus-same-day DVR playback, which includes shows replayed before 3 a.m. the night before. Seven-day DVR data won’t be available for several weeks. Forty-nine percent of Nielsen households have DVRs.

At 8 p.m. CBS was first with a 2.3 for a repeat of “Bang” (2.3) and a new “Mom” (2.3), followed by Univision with a 1.1 for “Mi Corazon es Tuyo.” NBC was third with a 0.9 for “Loser.” Fox and ABC tied for fourth at 0.8, Fox for a repeat of “Bones” and ABC for “The Taste.” The CW was sixth with a 0.6 for “Jingle” and Telemundo seventh with a 0.5 for “Los Miserables.”

CBS was first again at 9 p.m. with a 1.8 for “Two and a Half Men” (1.9) and “The McCarthys” (1.6), while Univision remained second with a 1.1 for “Hasta el Fin del Mundo.” Fox, ABC and NBC all tied for third at 0.8, Fox for more “Bones,” ABC for more “Taste” and NBC for the “People Magazine Awards.” The CW finished sixth with a 0.5 for the end of “Jingle” (0.7) and a rerun of “Whose Line Is It Anyway” (0.4) and Telemundo was seventh with a 0.4 for “Tierra de Reyes.”

At 10 p.m. CBS was first with a 1.4 for “Elementary,” with NBC second with a 0.9 for the end of its awards show. Univision was third with a 0.8 for “La Malquerida,” Telemundo fourth with a 0.7 for “Señora Acero” and ABC fifth with a 0.6 for a repeat of “How to Get Away with Murder.”

CBS also finished first for the night among households with a 5.6 average overnight rating and a 10 share. NBC and Fox tied for second at 2.4/4, ABC was fourth at 2.0/3, Univision fifth at 1.3/2, CW sixth at 0.9/2 and Telemundo seventh at 0.7/1.

http://www.medialifemagazine.com/cbs...hursday-night/
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TV Notes
‘Mr. Robot’ Hacker Drama Ordered to Series at USA Network
By Elizabeth Wagmeister, Variety.com - Dec. 19, 2014

Talk about timeliness. On the same day the FBI confirmed it believes North Korea was behind the massive Sony Pictures Entertainment cyber-attack, USA Network announced the first series pickup from its 2015-2016 pilot slate with a 10-episode order for a drama about computer hackers, “Mr. Robot.”

Starring Christian Slater as the title character and Rami Malek (“24″), the series follows a mysterious anarchist who recruits a young computer programmer (Malek) who suffers from an anti-social disorder and connects to people by hacking them. Portia Doubleday (“Her”), Carly Chaikin (“Suburgatory”) and Martin Wallstrom (“Simple Simon”) round out the cast.

“’Mr. Robot’ could not be more timely and relevant,” said USA prexy Chris McCumber. “The creative team behind this series has done a brilliant job, taking viewers on a wild ride that leaves them wanting more.”

The drama is among a slew of new and retiring original series on deck for 2015 at NBCUniversal’s flagship entertainment cabler. “Dig,” starring Jason Isaacs and Anne Heche from the producers of “Heroes” and “Homeland,” and medical drama “Complications,” which has cast Jason O’Mara and Jessica Szohr, will also premiere in the new year.

“Mr. Robot” comes from Universal Cable Prods. and writer-exec producer Sam Esmail (“Comet”). Steve Golin (“True Detective”) and Chad Hamilton (“Breakup at a Wedding”) of Anonymous Content are also exec producers.

http://variety.com/2014/tv/news/mr-r...ma-1201383444/
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Nielsen Notes (Cable)
Record audience for Colbert finale
By Bill Keveney, USA Today - Dec. 19, 2014

The population of Colbert Nation was growing until the very end.

Thursday's finale of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report set a series record with 2.5 million viewers. It tops the previous high, 2.4 million, which came in an October 2008 episode that followed an appearance by then-Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama on Colbert's lead-in program, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Ratings for the finale, which featured a touching goodbye from host Stephen Colbert and a dazzling, multi-celebrity sing-along, nearly doubled the show's viewer average for last week, which itself was boosted by a visit from President Obama.

The final episode also topped Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings Daily Top Five list for Thursday. According to Nielsen, 2.2 million people saw one or more of the 88,000 tweets sent about the Colbert finale.

Colbert, who is leaving the show after nine years, will take over CBS' Late Show next year after host David Letterman's retirement.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/t...nale/20665695/
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TV Notes
‘How It’s Made’: TV’s Quietest Hit
Discovery’s Science Channel show has a rabid following on TV and YouTube
By John Jurgensen, Wall Street Journal - Dec. 18, 2013

In a building on a commercial strip on the outskirts of Montreal, between a used-car lot and a body shop, “How It’s Made” was getting made. A small television crew aimed lights and a camera at the biggest star of the 12-hour shoot: a hulking machine that liquefied zinc at 800 degrees and injected the silvery metal into a mold.

“The operation of melting metal is spectacular—Academy Award!” producer André Douillard shouted over the whine of the machine, which spat out rectangular plates for the small factory’s sole product, time-delay locks for safes.

Scenes of chugging machinery, whizzing conveyor belts and tool-wielding workers are the stuff of drama on “How It’s Made.” The TV series has documented the manufacturing process behind more than 1,200 products over the course of 12 seasons on the air. From the mundane (pantyhose, hot dogs, playing cards) to the high-tech (solar panels, semiconductors, race-car engines), the show presents a behind-the-scenes inventory of the things we take for granted.

From prosaic roots, “How It’s Made” has built a diverse cult of fans. Mechanically minded viewers revel in the loving shots of pumps and valves. Pot smokers zone out to the hypnotic imagery. Kids love the churning equipment. Producers say they receive fan letters from parents of autistic children who are captivated by the methodical processes.

A tiny Montreal-based company, Productions Maj, created what might be the quietest hit on TV. “How It’s Made,” which airs on the Science Channel in the U.S., averaged about 300,000 viewers for this year’s premiere episodes—typical for a niche cable channel. But its ratings are consistent as a box of toothpicks (season 1, episode 3). An episode that included a step-by-step look at making footballs is the channel’s eighth most-watched telecast ever. The show’s real value, however, lies in its versatility as a TV widget: wide global appeal and durability in reruns.

“It’s one of those dream shows that can work [at any time of day] and across audiences. There’s not a lot of shows on cable that you can say that about,” says Science Channel General Manager Rita Mullin.

Science Channel’s parent company Discovery Communications saw the potential and snapped up the trademark to the show this year. Now Science Channel has a long-term license of all rights to the series world-wide (except in Canada) and is looking for ways to expand the brand. Last year, the channel introduced a spinoff series, “How It’s Made: Dream Cars,” which goes into factories producing Ferraris, Bugattis and other exotic vehicles.

The show’s current season culminates Friday in an episode about the construction of garage doors, salt spreaders and animatronic dinosaurs. Still, like a looping conveyor belt, the series can air again and again without interruption. Ms. Mullin says repeat episodes sometimes rate higher than they did upon premiere. Science Channel often airs “How It’s Made” marathons or compiles individual product segments to create themed episodes, spotlighting ornaments and artificial trees around Christmas, fireworks and baseballs around July 4.

Dedicated viewers count on consistency in the product. They rebelled when Science Channel tried to update the show by replacing U.S. narrator Brooks Moore. After one season, he returned as the soft-spoken, pun-making voice of the series.

The show also thrives online, though many “How It’s Made” clips on YouTube are bootlegs. One of them, the segment showing how hot dogs get made, has generated 22.3 million views and an intense discussion with more than 38,000 comments.

The show’s format is as straightforward as its title. A half-hour episode consists of four segments, each devoted to a different product. (Sometimes producers devote a double feature to stuff that’s especially complicated to make, such as buttons.) The show’s undeviating formula—no to hosts and interviews, yes to mellow narration and background music—make “How It’s Made” easy to adapt for international audiences. The show airs in 45 languages and 222 countries.

Like any successful product, the show has imitators. Even the Science Channel airs a similar show called “How Do They Do It?” with interviews and such features as “How Do They Cut Steel?” Mr. Douillard calls the others “pale copies.”

Though the show’s crews have visited manufacturers around the world, there are some blind spots. They have never shot in China, where most toys and sporting goods are produced, because of logistical and language barriers. Corporate bureaucracies can make it difficult for camera crews to get necessary access. When producer and Maj co-founder Jean-Marc St.-Pierre visited Home Depot recently, he used his phone to snap pictures of mailboxes and other items that could work for “How It’s Made,” but he didn’t bother with products made in China. Producers say they expect to shoot in China eventually.

A TV director named Gabriel Hoss created the “How It’s Made” concept in 1982. Originally it took the form of stand-alone segments, about five minutes each, which broadcasters used to fill gaps in their schedules. Mr. Douillard, who grew up in Jonquière, Quebec, 250 miles north of Montreal, recalls running into the TV room when he heard the show’s jaunty theme music during rain delays of Montreal Expos games.

Years later, when Mr. Douillard was working as an attorney and Mr. St.-Pierre as a sports agent, they had a side business producing aerobics videos. When videocassette sales declined, Mr. Douillard remembered the beloved show from his youth. In 1999, they bought the title and concept for “How It’s Made” and turned it into a half-hour program, hiring Mr. Hoss as a director. The next year they sold a season of 13 episodes to two Canadian networks and since then have ramped up steadily.

In the Old Montreal neighborhood, the Productions Maj office is decorated with mementos from past shoots, such as a race-car tire and a plastic relief map of Malibu, Calif.

Near suites where staffers edit footage, set it to music and record narration, two researchers hunt for products to feature on the show. When they need to find a manufacturer in a specific area, they scan Google’s Street View, scouring the online images for clues about what happens inside the buildings. Chimneys and nitrogen tanks outside hint at interesting metal work; lots of loading bays and trucks suggest a boring warehouse.

When vetting a manufacturer, the researchers interview them about their procedures to make sure there’s enough steps and juicy visuals to tell a good process story. For example, the process of making marbles turned out to be disappointingly simple—blobs of melted glass—so producers spiced it up by adding a segment on more intricate handcrafted orbs.

Certain categories are off-limits, including cigarettes, sex toys and weapons (though the show has featured handcrafted guns). Mr. St.-Pierre says, “How many times have we heard the same joke ‘When are you going show how babies get made?’”

Secretive production processes make some manufacturers standoffish. Producers spent years querying ultracompetitive tire makers before Continental agreed to open up. Manufacturers sign off on a script and final visuals. After Ferrari objected to an oil smudge on the white glove of a worker, an editor cut every shot of offending gloves before the show aired.

In addition to the products that Maj pursues, the company gets solicited by manufacturers eager for a promotional boost from the show. Featured companies appear in show’s credits, however, narrators don’t mention them by name in the script, and cameras avoid logos unless they’re shown on the product itself. That neutrality prevents “How It’s Made” from becoming an infomercial (and from violating rules about advertisements on broadcast television). Mr. Douillard says, “The show is about the product, not the branding of the product.”

The show’s researchers book facilities grouped in the same region to make shooting trips more efficient. On a wall map of the U.S., labeled tacks pinpoint the locations of potential subjects, including ventriloquist dummies in South Carolina, macaroni and cheese in New Jersey, and reeds for musical instruments in New York.

Researcher Robert Morselli had recently locked in an invitation from a Georgia denim factory and was excited by the prospect of dyes and high-speed looms in action. “That’s going to be one of the highlights of the season. Like paper, it seems very banal but when you watch it being made, it’s gorgeous. Poetic.”

On site, camera crews navigate cramped spaces, dangerous equipment, and rigid production schedules. Mr. Douillard says he learned immediately to make friends with the boss who controls access to machinery.

“The production manager’s goal is to produce 15,000 toothbrushes that need to be on a truck by the end of the day. He doesn’t give a damn about a television show,” says Mr. Douillard.

Directing plant workers requires a different kind of finesse than working with actors. Mr. Douillard recalls a shoot at a catalog printer where one worker got so nervous about the camera that he forgot to monitor a pressure gauge. Something blew, forcing the printer to shut down for three days.

For workers who rely on speed and muscle- memory to assemble parts by hand, it can be awkward to slow down for the sake of “How It’s Made.” At the time-delay safe lock factory, Industries C.L. owner Claude Legault watched as the camera crew hovered around an employee of 18 years, Don Thilavanh. Sitting at a long work bench, Mr. Thilavanh typically assembles dozens of lock casings a day with a swift series of movements involving a pneumatic screwdriver. Under the TV lights, however, he sometimes looked flustered as director Yan Savard repeatedly stopped him to rearrange a pile of screws, repeat a step, or reposition his hands to better show the lock casing.

“Can you use the drill with your left hand?” the director asked in French. Then, “Action!”

http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-its-...hit-1418940222
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TV Notes
Daniel Wu To Star In AMC Martial Arts Drama Series ‘Badlands’
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com - Dec. 19, 2014

AMC has tapped Hong Kong actor Daniel Wu to play the lead of its direct-to-series martial arts drama Badlands (working title). Wu also will serve as an executive producer on the six-episode series, loosely based on the Chinese tale Journey To The West. In a land controlled by feudal barons, Badlands tells the story of a ruthless, well-trained warrior named Sunny (Wu) and a young boy who embark on a journey across a dangerous land to find enlightenment.

Wu joins previously announced series regulars Emily Beecham, Sarah Bolger and Oliver Stark. David Dobkin is directing. Badlands was created by writers-showrunners Al Gough and Miles Millar (Shanghai Noon, Smallville), who serve as executive producers along with Dobkin, Stacey Sher and Michael Shamberg, Stephen Fung and Wu for AMC Studios.

Wu is a California-born, Hong Kong-based Chinese-American actor, director, producer and scholar in the Chinese martial arts discipline of wushu. He moved to Hong Long after graduating from the University of Oregon in 1997. He has been featured in more than 60 films and won the Hong Kong prize as Best Director for his 2006 feature, The Heavenly Kings (Sei dai tinwong), his directorial debut.

http://deadline.com/2014/12/daniel-w...ts-1201330636/
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Washington Notes
FCC Opens Door to Cable Competition Delivered by the Web
By Ira Teinowitz, TheWrap.com - Dec. 19, 2014

The FCC on Friday took the first step toward making the delivery of cable TV packages over the Web an alternative to traditional cable, a move that could revive Aereo and vastly increase competition for traditional cable and satellite providers.

In a long awaited move, the FCC proposed to redefine the term “multichannel programming distributor” and asked for public comment about the change. The notice asked for help in determining how it should redefine its traditional definition of cable systems for the Internet age in a way that would provide deliverers of online video programming some of the same rights for access to programming that traditional cable and satellite companies have.

“Our proposal will mean more alternatives for consumers beyond the traditional cable or satellite bundle, including giving consumers more options to buy the programming they want,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in comments he filed as part of the FCC’s vote.

The redefinition targets the difficulty companies that want to offer packages of cable channels over the Web have in competing against traditional cable systems. While FCC rules guarantee traditional systems the rights to fair negotiations for entertainment, news and local sports channels — over the top providers currently have no similar protected rights.

The lack of protection was one of the issues in Aereo’s fight to recover after a devastating Supreme Court decision barred the company from its original plan of offering content over the Web using small antennas. Aereo, without any protected right to content, had trouble negotiating for access. Sky Angel, another potential over the Web provider, reported similar problems.

Wheeler in his comments said Friday that the Internet opens up numerous opportunities for new competition to cable and satellite services, including the possibility of letting viewers choose the channels they want to receive. He said prospective completion has been stymied because new video services couldn’t get access to cable networks or broadcast competition.

“Big company control over access to programming should not keep programs from being available on the Internet. Today, we propose to break that bottleneck,” he said.

Some other FCC commissioners weren’t quite as positive.

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Reilly called the move “particularly puzzling” and said the vibrant state of competition on programming doesn’t need any interference from the FCC.

“The Internet — and online video in particular — has grown to where it is today outside of our regulatory clutches, and the FCC trying to jump into this space now, especially without clear direction provided by the Congress, is highly questionable,” he said in his comments. As a government agency with little-to-no authority over the Internet, the best thing that the commission can do is not get in the way.”

In starting to look at the possibility of delivery of cable packages over the Web, the FCC faces a number of thorny issues. Besides question about the responsibility, Web providers have to deliver local channels, local news, public events programming and local public affairs channels, the FCC also could have to weigh whether Web providers and adequately can ensure any local channels can’t be seen elsewhere.

Friday’s notice asked a number of questions about how the FCC’s definition should handle questions about retransmission negotiations and other issues.

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association in a statement said it does not believe the notice’s tentative conclusion that action by the FCC to rewrite its rules is warranted, but will work with the FCC to ensure that any rules changes are fairly applied to all providers of cable channels.

http://www.thewrap.com/fcc-opens-doo...ed-by-the-web/
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TV Review
'Asian Tsunami: The Deadliest Wave'
Filmmakers use home video and cellphone footage to capture the disaster's onslaught, then take the viewers inside the lab for a scientific breakdown. The result is a documentary that is fascinating -- and horrifying.
By David Hinckley, New York Daily News - Dec. 20, 2014

With all due respect to Hurricane Sandy, the Asian tsunami of 2004 remains the closest thing most of us will ever see to a real-life disaster movie.

At the 10th anniversary, this documentary looks back through two lenses. Each is sobering.

First, it gathers home video and cellphone footage from people who were about to be slammed by the massive waves.

The ocean crushes buildings like we’d swat a fly, and it takes little imagination to realize what was simultaneously happening to the people in and around them.

A lot of us, let’s admit it, think extreme weather and things like giant wave surges are kind of cool. This footage reminds us that’s a luxury reserved for people who aren’t in their path.

This being Smithsonian and all, “Asian Tsunami” then takes us off the beach and into the laboratory, where we learn how tsunamis form and why the impact of this one was so extraordinarily lethal.

It was triggered by the third most powerful earthquake ever measured, a massive tremor that unleashed power equivalent to thousands of nuclear bombs.

It fired off waves traveling 300 miles an hour, which helped account for the fact most victims had almost no warning of what was headed their way.

The producers also look at other tsunamis, including the one off the coast of Japan, to explain how something as simple as ocean water movement can turn deadly.

The good news is that we learn from disasters. Our warning systems now are faster and more accurate.

But the Asian tsunami lessons came at a cost of at least 230,000 lives, which in the end reminds us that we need to live with nature, not the other way around.

'Asian Tsunami: The Deadliest Wave'
Network/Air Date: Smithsonian, Sunday at 8 p.m.
Rating: ★★★ (out of five)


http://www.nydailynews.com/entertain...icle-1.2051240
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TV Review
Making Icicles of Everyone
‘Christmas Icetastrophe’ on Syfy Defies Tradition
By Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times - Dec. 20, 2014

Warning: Humans may be enjoying time off starting right about now, but asteroids don’t give a hoot about the holidays. They just keep right on hurtling toward Earth with devastation on their minds. Be ready to seek shelter, because one of them breaks through the atmosphere on Saturday night, and even a guy in a Santa suit isn’t safe.

Yes, it’s time for another Syfy holiday-themed disaster movie. This year’s title is “Christmas Icetastrophe,” and it is just as mindlessly ridiculous as 2012’s masterpiece, “The 12 Disasters of Christmas.” The problem in 2012 was a killer ice storm. In 2014, it’s an asteroid that crashes into a small-town holiday celebration and ruins Christmas for just about everyone.

Victor Webster, who has experience with nature gone wacky thanks to his appearance in “Ragin’ Cajun Redneck Gators,” a 2013 Syfy creature feature, is Charlie, a father and all-around good guy who becomes an anchor of sanity when the asteroid strikes and causes bizarre flash-freezing of the air, bodies of water and bodies of people. Jennifer Spence, who probably already knew a lot about celestial debris from her time in “Stargate Universe,” plays Alex, a graduate student who has been tracking the inbound asteroid.

While most of the locals run around like idiots, Charlie and Alex combine forces to try to figure out why a simple asteroid is causing all heck to freeze over and whether anything can be done about it. Perhaps you’re wondering about the science of all this. Could a meteorite embedded in Main Street U.S.A. actually cause a nearby lake to freeze in a matter of seconds while Charlie and Alex try to race across it in a speedboat? Perhaps not, but it makes for an amusingly cheesy special effect.

Christmas Icetastrophe
Syfy, Saturday night at 9, Eastern and Pacific times; 8, Central time.


http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/20/ar...?ref=arts&_r=0
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TV Review
‘Mozart in the Jungle,’ lust in the pits
Amazon series offers an engaging look into the lives of musicians
By Tom Conroy, Media Life Magazine - Dec. 18, 2014

If a bunch of rock musicians indulge in drugs and casual sex, it’s not news. But if a bunch of classical musicians indulge in the same things, it is.

That seems to be the assumption driving Amazon’s new series “Mozart in the Jungle,” set in the New York classical-music scene.

In fact, the small element of surprise provided by the transgressive behavior wears off soon, but thanks to the novel setting and subject matter, as well as the likable heroine, the premiere episode is promising.

“Mozart in the Jungle,” which starts streaming 10 half-hour episodes next Tuesday, Dec. 23, isn’t about an orchestra performing symphonies in the tropical rain forest. The jungle, it is implied, is the cutthroat world of professional musicians.

The main character is a young oboist, Hailey (Lola Kirke), who is surviving by playing in the pit orchestra of a cheesy musical called “Styx: Oedipus Rocks” and giving lessons to a young rich kid. She shares an apartment with a friend named Lizzie (Hannah Dunne).

In the pit, Hailey meets a moonlighting cellist from the New York Symphony, Cynthia (Saffron Burrows), who takes her out to drinks and tries to set her up with their attractive waiter, a dancer named Alex (Peter Vack). The next morning, Cynthia calls Hailey and tells her that the orchestra’s hip, young new conductor, Rodrigo (Gael García Bernal), is holding auditions.

At the end of the first episode — the only one available for review — it’s unclear whether Hailey will nail the audition. It’s also unclear whether that would necessarily be a good thing.

The symphony’s previous conductor, Thomas (Malcolm McDowell, credited as a guest star), has been promoted to an emeritus position that will allow him to interfere with Rodrigo’s plans, which include staging a concert in which certain pieces would be played in complete darkness.

“What’s next?” Thomas asks Rodrigo. “Bring a Pet to the Symphony Day?”

Rodrigo response is more cutting: He suggests that Thomas has been allowing the symphony to play badly.

Created by Paul Weitz, Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman, the series is based on the memoir “Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music,” by Blair Tindall, an oboist and journalist. The backstage conflicts and the daily struggles of a beginning musician ring true.

But the subtitle of the book suggests that Tindall may have pumped up the naughty side for book sales. The show’s creators seem to have followed her lead.

While having drinks with Hailey, Cynthia talks about how musicians’ specialty affects their lovemaking. “Percussionists pound you like you’re in a porno,” she says.

Cynthia prefers jazz pianists to classical ones, she says, because the former are more into “improvisation” and “ensembles.” Each of these insights is illustrated with a brief shot of Cynthia and a partner or two.

When Hailey comes home that night, Lizzie is throwing a wild party. Guests are taking hits off a joint Lizzie has attached to a metronome.

Lizzie has Hailey and a male flutist face off in a form of spin the bottle that involves drinking while dueling on your respective instruments. If the bottle lands on “baroque,” for example, you have to do three shots before performing a piece in that genre.

A late-night sext reveals that two characters are in an apparently secret relationship.

The players are well cast. Unlike most actors portraying young adults starting their careers, Lola Kirke avoids trying come across as cute or spunky. She just seems tired.

The writers could learn from her. They don’t need to try so hard to seduce us with sex and drugs. “Mozart in the Jungle” should be interesting enough without all the jungle fever.

http://www.medialifemagazine.com/moz...gle-lust-pits/
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TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
SATURDAY Network Primetime/Late Night Options
(All shows are in HD unless noted; start times are ET. Late night shows are preceded by late local news)

ABC:
8PM - I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown! (Special)
(R - Dec. 9, 2003)
9PM - CMA Country Christmas (Special, 120 min.)
(R - Dec. 1)

CBS:
8PM - NFL Thursday Night Kickoff: Saturday Edition (LIVE)
8:25PM - NFL Football: San Diego Chargers at San Francisco 49ers (LIVE)

NBC:
8PM - The Sound of Music Live! (3 hrs.)
(R - Dec. 5, 2013)
* * * *
11:29PM - Saturday Night Live (Amy Adams hosts, One Direction performs; 93 min.)

FOX:
8PM - Bones
(R - Sep. 25)
9PM - Sleepy Hollow
(R - Sep. 29)
* * * *
11:30PM - Animation Domination High-Def (60 min.)
(R)

PBS:
(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Austin City Limits: Tom Waits (R - Dec. 24, 2011)

UNIVISION:
8PM - Sábado Gigante (Three hours)

TELEMUNDO:
8PM - Movie: Apocalypto (2006)
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Originally Posted by kingpcgeek View Post
You know you are getting old when you have only heard music from one person in that list, and haven't even heard of half of them.
I know, right?

I'm sure I've probably heard at some music from from at least a few of them. I watch shows on the CW, after all.
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Washington Notes
FCC Opens Door to Cable Competition Delivered by the Web
By Ira Teinowitz, TheWrap.com - Dec. 19, 2014

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Reilly called the move “particularly puzzling” and said the vibrant state of competition on programming doesn’t need any interference from the FCC.

“The Internet — and online video in particular — has grown to where it is today outside of our regulatory clutches, and the FCC trying to jump into this space now, especially without clear direction provided by the Congress, is highly questionable,” he said in his comments. As a government agency with little-to-no authority over the Internet, the best thing that the commission can do is not get in the way.”
100% agreed. Can someone please explain under what jurisdiction the FCC would have any authority to regulate web video providers, regardless of how they package the content or who the content creators are?
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