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post #99391 of 99413 Old Yesterday, 11:40 AM
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TV Notes
Google exec's sordid death fodder for '48 Hours'
By Marco della Cava, USA Today - Jan. 23, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO — By and large, the lives of the tech rich and famous aren't the stuff of tabloid fodder. Maybe the occasional tale of an extravagant party here or a stunning summer house there.

But then in the fall of 2013, Google X executive Forrest Hayes, 51, was found dead on his yacht. Heroin was in his system. An Internet-sourced call girl was on the run.

Turns out having a head for technology doesn't preclude having a dark side. Hayes' demise is the focus of "Kiss of Death and the Google Exec," airing on CBS's 48 Hours Saturday at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

"Hayes led a double life, but he's taking a lot of his secrets to his grave," says CBS reporter Maureen Maher, who filmed part of the show's segment aboard the executive's lavish 46-foot yacht Escape.

Maher notes that being aboard the floating crime scene provided insight into a man "who liked nice things," which included upgrading the captain's chair with a $8,000 replacement, and having this posh place outfitted with dozens of HD-quality cameras."

Those cameras ultimately captured the one-time automotive marketing exec turned Google employee's death after a night of partying with Alix Tichelman, a 28-year-old tattooed raven-haired call girl who advertised her for-pay companionship via a website called SeekingArrangement.com.

Tichelman is currently awaiting trial in Santa Cruz, Calif., where Hayes and his family lived. She stands accused of giving Hayes his final lethal dose of heroin, and not calling for help when he became unresponsive.

Hayes' story intrigued Maher from the start. "Here's a guy who had everything, a wife, five children and a fantastic job, what could you possibly want outside of that?" she says.

But trying to get at the bottom of Hayes' other, murkier life proved difficult. "Not a single friend or family member would talk to us," Maher says. "Many were of course very protective of his (surviving) family, who are victims here. But it is interesting we couldn't get anyone to speak about him."

As interesting as Hayes was, Tichelman, says Maher, "in many ways is a parents' worst nightmare. Here your daughter has issues and, being from a middle-class family, you spend whatever it takes on doctors and schools to help her. But she winds up a heroin addict who is prostituting herself."

Maher says the segment features interviews with friends of Tichelman, whose descent into the world of sex and drugs was punctuated by the heroin death of a former boyfriend in Atlanta. In that instance, she called 911 for help.

"What really troubles prosecutors here is that she didn't call 911 when Hayes was clearly in trouble, as his own security videos on the boat show," says Maher, adding that Tichelman wandered around the boat tidying up for many minutes before leaving, all while her date was unconscious nearby.

"The longer we looked at Alix, the more she became just as much a big part of this sad story," she says. "She didn't come from the wrong side of the tracks."

As for lessons learned about the world of tech, Maher adds only that "from what we heard and saw, it's not uncommon for people in that high-stress profession to have outlets. And in some cases, you have a lot of money and have no idea how to be social."

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2...ayes/22136931/
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post #99392 of 99413 Old Yesterday, 11:46 AM
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TV Notes
Welcome to Hollyweed: Why TV Is Going to Pot
By Itay Hod, TheWrap.com - Jan. 23, 2015

The television industry is catching up with film and learning that pot sells in Hollywood. As more states join the legal marijuana movement and the drug becomes less taboo in the country, entertainment industry insiders say interest in weed-related storylines is at an all-time high.

Showtime series “Shameless,” for instance, which follows Chicago’s dysfunctional Gallagher family and stars William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum, will embark on a major weed arc later this year. The network is also responsible for the mother of all television pot tales, “Weeds,” which starred Mary-Louise Parker as soccer-mom-turned-drug-dealer. The series blazed trails (and spliffs) from 2005 to 2012 and helped put Showtime on the original-programming map.

Showtime isn’t the only pot-obsessed programmer, though; CNBC is in Season 2 of its series “Marijuana in America,” and “60 Minutes” struck ratings gold with a recent pot segment that drew in a whopping 17 million viewers.

But, do audiences have the munchies for more of the chemically enhanced TV product?

“It’s sort of like the new Gold Rush,” Chris Linn, truTV’s president and head of programming, told TheWrap. “There is great curiosity around it right now.”

That curiosity prompted the network to recently shoot a pilot for a new reality show called “Medicine Man,” about a dynastic family pot dispensary.

“Right now TV is well ahead of the game when it comes to pushing the envelope,” said Elayne Rapping, pop culture author and American Studies professor emeritus at the University of Buffalo. “Hollywood is definitely going to see a rise in pot-related stories.”

Once considered a gateway to harder drugs, pot is going mainstream with 23 states and the District of Columbia having either legalized medical marijuana, decriminalized it or both, according to the National Cannabis Industry Association. Four more states — Alabama, North Carolina, Nebraska and Ohio — have decriminalized pot possession.

“It’s no longer a niche culture,” Linn said. “What’s so interesting to us about ‘Medicine Man’ is that the family wants their dispensary to become the Starbucks of weed. This is definitely a space we’re interested in and want to explore.”

While Linn’s show is set in Colorado, California was the first state to establish a medical marijuana program in 1996, a move that experts say brought about a boom in pot-centric Hollywood plot lines.

The film industry had explored the topic going all the way back to 1936’s unintentionally funny “Reefer Madness,” through the 1980s exploits of high-larious comedy duo Cheech and Chong, into comedies produced by and starring black actors like Ice Cube‘s “Friday” series and rapper–marijuana advocate Snoop Dogg’s thespian turns, and on to the THC-induced misadventures of characters portrayed by some of today’s most visible stars like Seth Rogen and James Franco.

But while casual pot use has permeated mainstream film for decades and was explored as a gateway drug in some of the industry’s more sobering cautionary drug-use dramas, TV — aside from the frequent dealer-villains and sad-sack addict stereotypes — for the most part just said no.

“Weeds” was a game-changer with its white, middle-class mom-dealer, portrayed more as spunky survivor and entrepreneur. The Season 4 premiere attracted 1.3 million viewers, the channel’s highest-ever viewership at the time, with the season as a whole averaging 962,000 viewers. And because “Weeds” aired on premium cable, its writers weren’t constrained by overzealous censors or squeamish advertisers. The storylines got darker as perky Nancy Botwin unraveled from season to season.

Showtime was “doing it way before it was acceptable,” explained Nancy Pimental, writer and supervising producer on “Shameless.” “Now that it’s gone mainstream, we’re going to see a lot more of it.”

It hasn’t always been that easy to portray the high life in prime time. Fox comedy “That ’70s Show,” which aired from 1998-2006 and explored relations among a group of Wisconsin teens, sent producers scrambling to find creative ways to portray pot use without actually saying or showing it. Even though the show’s main characters got stoned almost every episode (mostly in Eric’s basement), viewers were hard-pressed to find any mention of marijuana. Censors initially approved the scenes, as long as no one actually spoke of it.

“They never passed a joint,” revealed actor Tommy Chong, of Cheech and Chong fame who played aging hippie Leo on the sitcom. “They just sat in a circle and the camera did closeups on their faces. The censors eventually put an end to those scenes.”

“They” included Topher Grace (“Interstellar”), Laura Prepon (Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black”) and now-parents Ashton Kutcher (CBS’s “Two and a Half Men”) and Mila Kunis (February sci-fi film release “Jupiter Ascending”).

Fast forward nearly two decades.

According to a 2013 Partnership for Drug-Free Kids Attitude Tracking Study (PDF), 44 percent of over 3,700 teens surveyed reported using marijuana at least once in their lives; approximately one in three (36 percent) reported using in the past year; one in four (24 percent) reported using within the prior month; and 7 percent reported using at least 20 times within the past month.

“These levels have remained basically flat over the past five years,” according to the report — that is, while the marijuana-legalization movement was picking up steam.

“The majority of teens said ‘getting into trouble with the law’ was the greatest risk that would prevent them from using marijuana – which does reinforce the view that legalization of marijuana for recreational use would lead to wider use among teens,” the report also noted.

(Interestingly, the Partnership report thanked actors union SAG-AFTRA “and the advertising and media industries for their ongoing generosity” in support of the non-profit.)

Now, with legalization underway, sparking a joint has nearly become more acceptable than lighting a cigarette — at least in Hollywood. And networks are jonesing for the next green hit.

FX tried to score with “Wilfred,” in which Elijah Wood‘s dog smoked massive amounts of weed when he wasn’t digging holes in the backyard, but the series ended its run in 2014. The year before, Discovery dedicated an entire night to marijuana programming, branding it “Weed Wednesdays.” Now in its fifth season, the cast of Comedy Central’s “Workaholics” give the phrase “smoking break” a whole new meaning.

Powering the movement is real-life politics.

On Jan. 1, Colorado celebrated its one-year anniversary of legal recreational marijuana use. Washington State will mark its first year of pot legality in June, while Oregon and Alaska will follow them in 2016.

Voters in Wasington, D.C., also approved recreational marijuana use, but the law is still pending congressional approval.

Interestingly, not only did the sky in those states not fall — as many predicted — their economies have gotten a much-needed shot in the arm.

Denver was able to boost its economy with more than $60 million dollars in new weed-tax revenue. The city is also seeing a decrease in violent crime, while traffic fatalities and unemployment are down statewide.

Legalized Cannabis Chart

The marijuana boom is also creating new, never-before-seen advertising opportunities. In October, hundreds of so-called “ganjapreneurs” made their way to New York for a pot convention with high hopes of learning about the business side of the cannabis industry and to check out some of the latest weed products.

“G FarmaLabs,” for example, is pushing high-potency THC-infused chocolates that won first place at this summer’s Kush Expo in California.

“Apeks Supercritical” came out with a CO2-powered fluid-extraction system that looks a lot like an espresso machine, but is actually used to make highly concentrated essential oils including THC, the main psychoactive constituent of the Cannabis plant.

And earlier this month, reality star Bethenny Frankel, who sold her “Skinnygirl” brand of cocktails for a reported $120 million, announced she was launching a new line of products called “Skinnygirl Marijuana,” laced with a strain of pot that supposedly doesn’t give you the munchies.

If you think that’s crazy, how about a celebrity brand name of your favorite weed strain?

“Strains of marijuana have been named after celebrities for years,” said marketing expert Chad Kawalec. “‘Lindsay Lohan’ has been an especially successful strain, although Lohan had nothing to do with it. Going forward, that simply won’t happen. Celebrities will license their names to growers in order to extend and keep their brands relevant and to make cold hard cash — just like with celebrity fragrances. It’s going to be very interesting.”

But some believe the gentrification of pot could end up being a buzzkill.

“I started smoking pot in high school,” said “Shameless” actor Macy, who stars in the series as the ne’er-do-well dad. “So for me, it’s just not that interesting.”

That sentiment was echoed by his boss. “Now that it’s acceptable, smoking pot is no big deal,” Pimental said. “We need to push the envelope more. It’s almost becoming too common, and we don’t do common.”

Whether or not the traditional stoner shows go up in smoke remains to be seen. But industry insiders say viewers may be introduced to a whole new group of toking characters.

“What we may see is a different kind of stoner,” said film and TV producer Troy Miller, whose credits include the “Dumb and Dumber” prequel “Dumb and Dumberer.” “It’s no longer about the guy who can’t hold a job and gets stoned in his mother’s basement, but productive people who happen to enjoy a joint at the end of the day.”

http://www.thewrap.com/hollyweed-why...-going-to-pot/
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post #99393 of 99413 Old Yesterday, 01:09 PM
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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 - Jan. 23, 2015

FRIDAY

Best bet on broadcast
: PBS, “American Masters” 9 p.m. Season premiere.
The new season starts with a profile of magician, actor, author and historian Ricky Jay.

Best bet on cable: TBS, “King of the Nerds” 9 p.m. Season premiere. A new group of nerds arrives to compete for $100,000.

Top sporting event: ESPN, “X Games,” 10:30 p.m. Events tonight including the snowboarding big air finale, and the snowmobiling long jump final.

SATURDAY

Best bet on broadcast
: Fox, “UFC on Fox,” 8 p.m.
Main event from Stockholm, Sweden, is Alexander Gustafsson versus Anthony Johnson in the light-heavyweight division.

Best bet on cable: Starz, “Black Sails,” 9 p.m. Season premiere. Flint and Silver face judgment, while Vane takes advantage of his new position.

Top sporting event: NBC, “Figure Skating,” 8 p.m. Live coverage of the ladies’ free skate from the U.S. Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina.

SUNDAY

Best bet on broadcast
: NBC, Telemundo, “Miss Universe Pageant,” 8 p.m.
Judges at the 63rd annual event include Manny Pacquiao, William Levy, Lisa Vanderpump and Kristin Cavallari.

Best bet on cable: TBS, TNT, “Screen Actors Guild Awards” 8 p.m. Live telecast of the 21st annual awards ceremony, which honors on-screen performances in film and TV.

Top sporting event: ESPN, “NFL Football,” 8 p.m. The annual Pro Bowl game, with the teams coached by Hall of Fame wide receivers Cris Carter and Michael Irvin.


http://www.medialifemagazine.com/bes...s-weekend-405/
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post #99394 of 99413 Old Yesterday, 06:41 PM
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TV Review/Notes
Miniseries takes liberties with history
By Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Jan. 23, 2015

PASADENA, Calif. — History’s “Sons of Liberty” plays like a contemporary action movie ...

Viewers looking for talking heads or historical accuracy need not tune in.


Ancient history...

History Channel should long ago have been rebranded HystFy.
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post #99395 of 99413 Old Yesterday, 06:52 PM
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Ancient history...

History Channel should long ago have been rebranded HystFy.
The only reason I watch History and H2 is Vikings and 10 Things You Don't Know About. Everything else, meh.

I love smart men. In other words, I'm attracted to brains like a friggin' zombie. Crap I say
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Ancient history...

History Channel should long ago have been rebranded HystFy.
The biggest problem is that too many people don't know the difference. Same with science versus pseudo-science. I enjoy a good "what if", but it gets scary when people can't separate truth from fiction.
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So this is what our own dcowboy7 does when he's not reading "HOTP," uh?

Legal Notes/TV Sports
Cowboys fan sues NFL for $88 billion over overturned Dez Bryant catch
By Chuck Schilken, Los Angeles Times - Jan. 23, 2015

Dez Bryant was robbed. So were the Dallas Cowboys and their fans.

Lots of people have thought so ever since officials overturned a spectacular fourth-down catch by Bryant during the Cowboys' eventual loss to the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Well, now someone is finally doing something about this nefarious act. Terry Hendrix, an inmate in a Colorado correctional facility, filed a complaint in Dallas federal court Wednesday against NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino, referee Gene Steratore and Commissioner Roger Goodell on behalf of Bryant, Cowboys fans and "all people in or/and from the sovereign republic of Texas."

The handwritten lawsuit asks for more than $88 billion "for but not limited to: negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and also reckless disregard."

Hendrix alleges "fraud, theft and gross stupidity in the face of an undeniable catch" and says that Blandino, Steratore and Goodell "have stolen a victory from the plaintiff(s) because the Cowboys offense would have perfectly created an 'autobahn' for DeMarco Murray to drive into the endzone for the score and victory."

He goes on to ask for $88,987,654,321.88 -- a crazy sum bookended by Bryant's jersey No. 88 -- which, presumably, would be split among the plaintiffs. Divided evenly among the 26.4-million people who live in Texas, that's $3,364.60 each.

And then you have to throw in all the Cowboys fans outside of Texas (they're everywhere) as well as anyone who has ever lived in the Lone Star State -- they're all plaintiffs too.

So, while Hendrix's heart is in the right place, chances are whatever amount of money Cowboys fans are left with won't make up for another disappointing end to a season.

http://www.latimes.com/sports/sports...123-story.html
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TV Review
Hallmark Hall of Fame’s ‘Away & Back’
By Brian Lowry, Variety.com - Jan. 23, 2015

While the Hallmark Hall of Fame label once denoted more ambitious material than the regular bill of fare on the Hallmark Channel, that distinction – even before its migration from broadcast exclusively to its namesake network – has been largely lost. That’s also true with “Away & Back,” the cabler’s pre-Valentine’s Day offering. Granted, the casting of Jason Lee and Minka Kelly might be intriguing, but otherwise, this made-for-TV movie is as generic as its title. Flimsily built around a family of swans, the shots of them are certainly majestic. Everything else about the Hall of Fame’s latest flight is strictly for the birds.

Kelly plays Ginny, an ornithologist committed to studying and preserving these rare birds. Still, she’s a bit of a bull (or ostrich) in the china shop when she meets Jack (Lee) and his 10-year-old daughter Frankie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones, the adorable kid in “We Bought a Zoo” and the short-lived series “Ben and Kate”), after a group of swans take up residence on the family’s farm.

“You may know a lot about birds, but you don’t know a thing about kids,” Jack snaps at her.

Pretty soon, though, Ginny is taking Frankie under her wing, Jack is opening up about how his wife died, and Ginny and Jack are discussing swan mating habits, which in this context qualifies as foreplay. In fact, it doesn’t take long for Ginny and Jack’s initial hostility to melt away, forcing writers Jonah Lisa Dyer and Stephen Dyer and director Jeff Bleckner to throw in a mini-crisis to keep the story aloft long enough to finally reach its inevitable landing place.

Granted, there’s an obvious template to these movies – nobody expects them to end in a bloody shootout – but even by those standards, the story feels undernourished. That’s perhaps in part because relatively little dimension is given to Kelly’s character, and Jack appears to fall for her primarily because, well, he’s not blind.

Hallmark obviously knows its core audience, but the Hall of Fame traditionally possessed the ability and quality to play beyond those who buy cards with flowers on them. By narrowing the franchise’s scope and vision, the company has given more discerning admirers of this storied, long-running sponsorship who have drifted away precious little incentive to come back.

Hallmark Hall of Fame's 'Away & Back'
Hallmark Channel, Sun. Jan. 25, 8 p.m.


http://variety.com/2015/tv/reviews/t...ck-1201406325/
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TV Notes
Small Screen Is Big Player at Sundance
Television Becomes a Force at Sundance Film Festival
By Brooks Barnes, The New York Times - Jan. 22, 2015

PARK CITY, Utah — The Sundance Television Festival this is not.

That snarky, small-screen nickname is nonetheless being tossed around by some of the Hollywood attendees who are gathering here for the 31st Sundance Film Festival, which starts on Thursday. The reason: Like the rest of moviedom, the independent-film world is grappling with the incursion of television as a creative and financial force.

Independent film used to define the cutting edge in entertainment, but the indie crowd has lately ceded ground to television, which is turning out risk-taking shows like Amazon’s “Transparent,” created by a Sundance film alumna. A vast majority of the 123 movies that will play Sundance this year will end up finding an audience not in a theater but on a video-on-demand system.

The shift leaves Sundance, longtime attendees say, on the edge of an identity crisis. The festival, fiercely proud of its heritage as America’s foremost showcase for independent cinema, is working to hold on to that identity. At the same time, it is tentatively embracing an art form, television, in which innovation and energy abound.

In other words, it is trying to remain relevant.

The signs of this push and pull are everywhere, starting with “Animals,” an independently produced and financed television series. The first two animated episodes, about lovelorn New York rats and gender-questioning pigeons, will make their debut at Sundance on Monday as a special event. Moreover, “Animals” is hoping to use the festival to land a distributor — a first for a television series, Sundance staff members said.

A TV show being shopped at Sundance? It is not as strange as it sounds, at a time when analysts estimate that digital and video-on-demand services are replacing art houses as the primary outlet for more than 90 percent of independent films. The most active Sundance buyers this year are expected to include distributors that tend to lean on video on demand, like IFC, Magnolia and Radius-TWC, the boutique division of the boutique Weinstein Company.

Twelve Sundance documentaries are already spoken for by HBO, CNN, Showtime and Netflix. “Your local art house cinema is moving to your living room,” said Jason Blum, a producer whose film “Whiplash” opened Sundance last year and who notably just announced a major expansioninto television.

At the same time, more independent directors and writers are hoping to use Sundance as a launching pad not for a film career but for a television one.

“Now the dream is to write and direct an indie film, get into Sundance and then use that to become a big-time TV series creator, like Lena Dunham, or a show runner or a TV director,” said Reed Martin, author of “The Reel Truth,” a guide to making an independent film. “TV is where all the money is, and where a lot of the creative risk-taking is celebrated these days,” he added.

The indie brain drain is noticeable. The filmmakers Mark and Jay Duplass, long Sundance darlings, have recently been busy creating the series “Togetherness” for HBO. (They are also executive producers of “Animals.”) Woody Allen, who was indie before indie was a thing, is making a digital series for Amazon, where Jill Soloway — who directed the 2013 Sundance entry “Afternoon Delight” — is the creative force behind “Transparent.”

John Ridley is following up his Oscar-winning “12 Years a Slave” screenplay with “American Crime,” which arrives on March 5 on ABC.

So where does all of this leave Sundance?

On the one hand, festival organizers are thrilled about the rise of television as fertile ground for the independent-cinema crowd. Sundance’s oft-repeated goal is to “support independent storytellers,” regardless of the medium. The nonprofit Sundance Institute last year added a television writing lab to its roster of workshops.

More than 900 people applied for 10 openings, according to Keri Putnam, the Sundance Institute’s executive director.

“We spend a lot of time listening to our community of artists, and what we began to see, like everybody else, was the surge of opportunities for independent voices on television and online platforms,” Ms. Putnam said. “This feels like a very natural expansion of our work.”

Similarly, the Tribeca Film Festival in New York last year started a program dedicated to online series, and the more commercially oriented South by Southwest festival in Texas added a television section.

But Robert Redford, Sundance’s founder, and his crew also want to protect their movie base, which is one reason they work so hard to stage world premieres (106 this time around, out of 123 features total). When film executives no longer need to make the trek to Utah to see new offerings — when everyone can simply view them on Vimeo link from New York and Los Angeles, as some already do — Sundance stops being a must-attend event.

Some festival officials even avoid the word television, referring to it instead as “episodic storytelling.”

“We have no formal plans to add an episodic festival section,” Ms. Putnam said.

Still, “Animals” represents an important toe in the water.

That seven-episode series is not the first TV project to be shown at Sundance. In 2013, the festival screened Jane Campion’s seven-hour“Top of the Lake” mini-series in its entirety, billing it as a “cinematic event.” Last year, the festival’s experimental New Frontier section included Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s “HitRECord on TV,” a variety-show outgrowth of a website.

But both of those shows already had cable distribution locked up in advance and were trying to use Sundance to generate tune-in buzz. The same is true of “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” a six-part documentary series headed to HBO next month; Sundance will screen the first episode on Tuesday.

“Animals,” in contrast, is being dangled for sale by agents at ICM Partners, alongside films like “People, Places, Things,” a potential crowd-pleaser about a newly single graphic novelist with twin daughters.

The element of commerce is important. Sundance first hit its stride in the 1980s partly because independent-film executives, split between New York and Los Angeles, came together in the middle to wheel and deal. The festival’s heat has always come from the money changing hands.

“We truly have no idea what to expect,” said Mike Luciano, who wrote and directed “Animals” with Phil Matarese. “It could end up on traditional TV. It could go to one of the interesting home streaming options. That’s what’s exciting about it.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/22/ar...html?ref=media
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TV Notes
Biblical, Crime, Terrorism, Arms-Dealing Dramas Among ABC Pilot Orders
By Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Live Feed' Blog - Jan. 23, 2015

ABC threw its hat into the pilot mix late Friday, adding five dramas — including one previously developed at Fox.

The pickups included Quantico, from Josh Safran (Gossip Girl) and Mark Gordon; arms-dealing drama Runner (previously developed at Fox); biblical entry Of Kings and Prophets; procedural L.A. Crime; and Mix, a restaurant dramedy from Rashida Jones.

Quantico hails from ABC Studios and the Mark Gordon Co., which after a long tenure with the studio, recently departed in favor of forming a film and TV studio with Entertainment One. The drama has been described as Grey's Anatomy meets Homeland. It centers on a group of young, sexy FBI recruits, all with specific reasons for joining, who go through training given by current special agents at the college-like Quantico base in Virginia. One of the recruits turns out to be a sleeper terrorist and created the most severe terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11.

Safran (Smash) will pen the drama, which landed at the network in September with a script commitment, and executive produce alongside Gordon and the Mark Gordon Co.'s Nick Pepper. The drama was one of eight projects the company developed this past season. Gordon remains an exec producer on ABC's long-running Grey's Anatomy as well as CBS' Criminal Minds and Showtime's Ray Donovan. This marks the company's second pilot this season, joining CBS' Criminal Minds spinoff starring Gary Sinise. Last season, Gordon had three shows go to pilot: ABC's Agatha and Clementine as well as NBC's Fifth Wheel. Both ABC dramas were passed over, while the comedy was rolled to this development season.

Runner, meanwhile, was originally set up at Fox and rolled from last season with a cast contingency attached. The drama was initially picked up under former network president Kevin Reilly during his no pilots period.

Based on the Turkish series Son, Runner — which is to guns what Traffic was to drugs — centers on the traditionally masculine world of arms dealing through the unexpected lens of a woman. After a simple twist of fate, Lauren Marks learns her husband is not the person she believed him to be. Faced with the harsh reality that her life is forever changed, she goes on a truth-seeking journey that entrenches her in a U.S.-Mexican war over weapons and terrorism.

Michael Cooney (Identity) is attached to pen the script and exec produce alongside Ian Sander, Kim Moses and Peter Horton, with the latter previously attached to direct the pilot.

The drama, from 20th Century Fox Television, was originally picked up off-cycle with an eye toward series production in summer 2014. Fox handed out a cast-contingent pilot order to Runner in September, with Christina Applegate, Katie Holmes, Mireille Enos and Jessica Biel among the actresses who had been eyed for the leading role at the time.

Of Kings and Prophets hails from the writers behind the 2014 Ridley Scott movie Exodos: Gods and Kings that starred Christian Bale. The film's writers, Adam Cooper and Bill Collage, are on board to pen the script and exec produce alongside Jason Reed, Reza Aslan and Mahyad Tousi. The ABC Studios drama is described as an epic Biblical saga of faith, ambition and betrayal as told through the eyes of a battle-weary king, a powerful and resentful prophet and a resourceful young shepherd on a collision course with destiny.

Of Kings and Prophets marks the latest in a wave of biblical dramas across cable and broadcast networks following the success of History's record-breaking 10-part miniseries The Bible.

L.A. Crime also hails from ABC Studios. Written by Steven Baigelman (Feeling Minnesota), the drama is a character-driven, true-crime procedural that explores sex, politics and popular culture across various noteworthy eras in L.A. history. Season one focuses on two L.A. cops in search for a Bonnie & Clyde-esque serial killing team amid the rock 'n roll, coke-infused revelry of the 1980s Sunset Strip. The drama is exec produced by ABC Studios-based Mandeville Television.

For its part, Mix hails from Rashida Jones and Will McCormack's Le Train Train (NBC's A to Z) banner and is described as a one-hour dramedy that explores the realities of modern-day families — multicultural, multigenerational, built through divorces, affairs and adoptions — set against the backdrop of a revered family restaurant at a crossroads. Written by Jennifer Cecil (Private Practice), the restaurant dramedy marks the second year in a row that the two-year-old company has scored a pilot pickup. Cecil, who was a co-showrunner on ABC's Grey's Anatomy spinoff, will exec produce alongside Jones and McCormack via their Warner Bros. Television-based banner. As for A to Z, the series finale aired Thursday night and registered a 0.6 among adults 18-49.

Friday's pilot orders mark ABC's first of the traditional season and join Irreversible, the remake of the Israeli drama that was rolled from last year. The single-camera comedy, starring Justin Long, has a contingency attached and is pending finding a female lead.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/liv...dealing-754775

* * * *

TV Notes
John Stamos Comedy, 'Shameless' Dramedy 'Studio City' Nab Fox Pilot Pickups

Fox continued to make good on its vow to do business with outside studios Friday, adding a comedy starring John Stamos from ABC Studios as well as dramedy Studio City from John Wells and Warner Bros. Television.

Fox has handed out pilot orders to an untitled comedy starring Full House and ER alum Stamos as well as Wells and Krista Vernoff's Shameless-like dramedy Studio City, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Exec produced by The Neighbors and Galavant creator Dan Fogelman, the Stamos comedy landed at Fox in a competitive situation with ABC among those vying for the single-camera entry that would mark Stamos' first series regular role since ER. Written by The Office alum Danny Chun, Stamos stars as a version of himself: a longtime bachelor whose life is upended after he learns he's a father and grandfather. Stamos will exec produce the untitled comedy via his St. Amos banner alongside Chun and ABC Studios-based Fogelman. The untitled pilot marks Stamos' latest reunion with Fogelman after a guest role on ABC's midseason musical fairy tale Galavant.

The Stamos pilot pickup comes two months after ABC scrapped its straight-to-series dramedy Members Only — a co-production of ABC Studios and CBS Television Studios — in which he was set to star. The actor, meanwhile, is also involved with a potential Full House revival rumored to be in the works with Warner Bros. Television and Netflix. For his part, Fogelman's Galavant is still in contention for a second season at ABC.

Studio City, meanwhile, is described as Shameless for broadcast. The dramedy, which landed at Fox with a hefty put-pilot commitment, is inspired by Vernoff's (Grey's Anatomy) life and tells the story of a young singer's path to stardom as she comes of age living with her songwriter father — who turns out to be a drug dealer to the stars. Wells will executive produce via his Warner Bros. Television-based John Wells Productions banner. The hourlong dramedy expands Vernoff's relationship with Wells and WBTV after she wrote multiple episodes of Showtime's critical darling starring Emmy Rossum. Vernoff, Wells and JWP's Andrew Stearn will exec produce. Should it go to series, Wells would have two shows on the air as Showtime has already renewed Shameless for a sixth season in 2016.

Studio City and the Stamos entry also mark the latest pilots to be based on the lives of its creators this season as semi-autobiographical fare continues to be a mainstay among the broadcast nets. CBS has a multicamera pilot starring and based on the life of comic Tommy Johnagin as well as drama Austen's Razor, which is inspired by the life of bioethics expert-turned-writer Arthur L. Caplan, while NBC has a half-hour based on stand-up comedian Jerrod Carmichael's life and family.

The Stamos comedy and Studio City are the second and third pilots from outside studios ordered at the network this season under former 20th Century Fox Television CEOs and Fox Television Group co-CEOs Gary Walden and Dana Newman. Of the network's other seven pilots, only one — comedy 48 Hours 'Til Monday (Universal Television) — hails from an outside studio. The Stamos vehicle represents Fox's third comedy order (including Ryan Murphy's straight-to-series Scream Queens), while Studio City is its sixth drama overall this season.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/liv...dramedy-766121
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TV Notes
Mark Burnett & Roma Downey’s Angel Drama ‘Unveiled’, Medical Drama ‘Heart Matters’ Get NBC Pilot Orders
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com - Jan. 23, 2015

Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are rapidly expanding their spirituality-based scripted TV brand. NBC has given a pilot order to NBC Logo Newtheir drama Unveiled. Also getting a pilot order at the network is medical drama Heart Matters. Both hail from the network’s sister studio, Universal TV. NBC’s drama pilot tally now stands at eight, which was what the network brass eyed going into the pickup season, so the network appears done or nearly done with its orders on the hourlong side.

Echoing the series that made Downey a star on American television, CBS’ Touched By An Angel, Unveiled follows an ensemble of flawed guardian angels who intervene in the lives of those who find themselves facing crisis in an attempt to restore their faith and, often, save their lives. John Sakmar & Kerry Lenhart (The Glades) wrote the script and are executive producing with Burnett and Downey through the duo’s Lightworks Media.

Following the blockbuster success of their limited series The Bible for History, Burnett and Downey are producing a sequel, A.D., for NBC as well as miniseries The Dovekeepers for CBS.

Heart Matters, executive produced by another former CBS star, Amy Brenneman (Private Practice, Judging Amy), was inspired by the life of Dr. Kathy Magliato and her book of the same name. It is a medical soap that follows the outspoken Alex Panttiere, one of the rare female heart-transplant surgeons. Alex brings an innovative eye to treating patients week to week while also balancing the complications of her professional and romantic life.

Jill Gordon (My So-Called Life) wrote the script and is executive producing with Brenneman and Brad Silberling. Susan Carlson, Eric Carlson, Kelly Meyer and Magliato serve as co-executive producers.

This is the first pilot order so far to a medical drama, which was the hottest hourlong genre during pitch season. NBC has two new contenders in the field with Heart Matters and the planted Chicago Fire spinoff Chicago Med, joining returning summer series The Night Shift.

http://deadline.com/2015/01/unveiled...bc-1201356879/

* * * *

TV Notes
‘Blindspot’ Conspiracy Drama From Greg Berlanti, Martin Gero Gets NBC Pilot Order

NBC is getting close to the finish line in its drama pilot orders with a second pickup today to Blindspot, from Greg Berlanti Prods. and Warner Bros TV, which had a script commitment with hefty penalty.

Written by L.A. Complex creator Martin Gero, Blindspot kicks off with a beautiful woman, with no memories of her past, who is found naked in Times Square with her body fully covered in intricate tattoos. Her discovery sets off a vast and complex mystery that immediately ignites the attention of the FBI who begin to follow the road map on her body to reveal a larger conspiracy of crime while bringing her closer to discovering the truth about her identity.

Gero is executive producing with Berlanti Prods.’ Berlanti and Sarah Schechter. At NBC, Berlanti also has freshman drama series The Mysteries Of Laura.

The Blindspot pickup brings NBC’s drama pilot orders to six. NBC had been aiming at doing about 8 drama pilots since the network already has a lot of hourlong series on the schedule. It is worth mentioning that of the six, only one drama pilot comes from sibling Universal TV, with the rest of the drama pilots produced by WBTV (2), Sony TV (2) and 20th TV (1).

http://deadline.com/2015/01/blindspo...bc-1201356819/
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Business Notes
How a struggling Netflix became the new Blockbuster
By Michael Antonoff, USA Today - Jan. 23, 2015

The evolution of Netflix from a stressed DVD-by-mail service in the late 1990s to a streaming powerhouse that millennials now consider more valuable than broadcast and cable subscriptions leaves even cofounder Marc Randolph astonished.

"I never in my wildest dreams imagined that Netflix would become the worldwide brand that it is today. I can still remember the first time I saw Netflix used as an answer in TheNew York Times crossword puzzle. I thought that was the moment that I had `made it′."

According to a study released earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show, 51% of people ages 13 to 34 consider Netflix subscriptions "very valuable" compared to 42% for broadcast channels and 36% for cable subscriptions.

It took less than 10 minutes before the "N" word was pronounced on Press Day at the show. TV manufacturer LG couldn't help but remind the audience that it had shipped the first Blu-ray Disc player with Netflix streaming built in and just last year the first Ultra HD TV with Netflix 4K streaming.

So when Greg Peters, chief streaming and partnerships officer for Netflix, strode onto LG's stage (an appearance he duplicated later on Sony's stage), there was little doubt how much TV makers are depending on Netflix's ability to deliver 4K content ahead of broadcasters and cable operators so that consumers have a reason to buy an Ultra HD set this year.

Netflix was the opposite of being on top of the world when I first met Randolph in 1998. He was on an East Coast media tour to promote the service he started with Reed Hastings in Scotts Valley, Calif. In the company's initial business plan, DVDs were available à la carte, and the customer could rent or buy them.

In a recent interview Randolph recalled, "It's hard to imagine how outrageous an idea it was to launch a DVD business in 1996, when we first raised money, hired some people, and started building the site. DVD was a very, very small market.

"Ironically, this dearth of players worked toward our advantage. The DVD manufacturers were caught in a Catch-22. No one would buy a player since there weren't movies available, but no one wanted to stock movies because there were no players. That was the reason that DVD manufacturers were willing to include a card for Netflix in their boxes. It guaranteed a consumer who bought a player that there would be movies available. I think we carried every single title available when we launched in 1997— about 300 titles.

"We almost didn't survive the early years," Randolph continued. "There were many times when we were sure we were going to have to close. We just weren't able to make the economics of the business work. It wasn't until we finally (in desperation) tested three concepts at the same time — subscription billing, the Queue, and the unlimited rental program — that we finally had a product that we could deliver for less than what people were willing to pay.

"Without NURS (the Netflix Unlimited Rental Service) as we called it, we wouldn't have survived."

Soon after meeting Randolph in 1998, I interviewed the CEO of a Netflix competitor that sold (but wouldn't rent) DVDs through the Internet. He was certain that Netflix was doomed because the most popular rental titles would almost always be out. Considering that mailing discs First Class from the company's then one location could take four or five days to reach customers across the country and even longer for them to be viewed and returned, his logic seemed irrefutable.

Randolph responded: "It's funny that it was a `sales-only′ person who questioned our survival. As you know, we also sold DVDs when we started and by the end of that first year I would guess 95% of our revenue was coming from sales (since rental worked so poorly). One of the most difficult things we ever did was make the decision to stop selling, walk away from 95% of our revenue, and focus all of our attention and resources on getting rental to work. With what ultimately happened in sales — commoditization —that turned out to be one of the smartest things we did as well."

According to Gina Keating, author of Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America's Eyeballs, the company's path to success wasn't through stocking as many mainstream titles as possible (which would have been impossible given the big movie studio's limited support of the new DVD format), but by targeting videophiles and those who wanted niche titles such as those in the Bollywood or anime genres. Netflix's secret sauce was to make sure that a particular user was informed of similar titles he or she might like. The company perfected algorithms that evolved into the Cinematch recommendation engine, which matched a consumer's tastes to other titles. So, when a returning user landed on the Netflix site, he or she might see recommendations that were entirely different from those of another user.

One whale that might have swallowed Neflix whole was Blockbuster Entertainment with 9,000 video stores at its peak at the dawn of this century. In today's video-streamed world, it's hard to imagine the ubiquity of video stores. In my Manhattan neighborhood alone, there were six Blockbusters within a 10-minute walk. According to Keating, in 2000 Netflix offered to sell itself to Blockbuster for $50 million. But Blockbuster had other ideas of starting its own online service.

Said Keating, "Blockbuster's board didn't have anyone who understood e-commerce. And when John Antioco, the CEO, left, they hired a guy who specialized in retail. So, they went backwards."

Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy in 2010. In 2011, the company and its remaining 1,700 stores were purchased at auction by satellite TV operator Dish Network for $233 million and taking on $87 million in liabilities. Most of the stores were shut down during the next two years. Dish closed the remaining U.S. company-owned stores, which numbered about 300, by early 2014. At the same time, it ended its DVD By Mail service.

According to Randolph, who left Netflix in 2004, digital delivery was always part of the plan. "If we built the company to be the world's best shipper of plastic, we would have lost all that momentum as the world went digital. Instead, we decided to make Netflix stand for a great place to find movies you love. That's a customer proposition that's delivery-agnostic. That's what led us to make the investments we did in our Cinematch technology and in having a fully personalized dynamic website."

Most recently, Randolph co-founded analytics software company Looker Data Sciences and serves as an advisor to five other Silicon Valley start-ups.

New York-based writer/editor Michael Antonoff covers technology and the media.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/...ster/22209273/
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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 - Local Programming (3 hrs.)

CBS:
8PM - CSI
(R - Sep. 28)
9PM - Stalker
(R - Oct. 15)
10PM - 48 Hours

NBC:
8PM - Figure Skating, U.S. Championships: Ladies Free Skate (3 hrs., LIVE)
* * * *
11:29PM - Saturday Night Live (Host and musical guest Blake Shelton; 93 min.)

FOX:
8PM - UFC Fight Night: Gustafsson vs. Johnson (120 min., LIVE)
* * * *
11PM - Animation Domination High-Def
(R)

PBS:
(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Austin City Limits: Ryan Adams; Jenny Lewis

UNIVISION:
8PM - Sábado Gigante (Three Hours)

TELEMUNDO:
8PM - Ranking de Las Estrellas
9PM - Fútbol Mexicano Primera División: CF Pachuca vs. Querétaro FC (LIVE)
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TV Notes
The Rise of TV’s Second Season
Changing viewing habits are leading to more second seasons for unproven shows
By John Jurgensen, Wall Street Journal - Jan. 22, 2015

For season 2 of its pirate drama “Black Sails,” pay channel Starz had a mission: make it more swashbuckling. In hopes of keeping fans from season 1—and luring viewers who still don’t know that the show exists—the producers added bigger battles at sea and recreated 18th-century London, while diving more deeply into the stories of core characters.

The show, which returns Saturday, represents a new trajectory in television—a sophomore year for a show that most viewers didn’t watch right away. “Black Sails” accumulated 5.3 million average viewers an episode, with most people watching via DVR and on-demand. Less than 10% of its viewership occurred during premiere telecasts. With so many viewers playing catch-up, season 2 gives the network a second chance at launching a hit.

Starz Chief Executive Chris Albrecht said the show’s expansion was expensive, but necessary in today’s climate: “It’s very hard to take the measure of a show’s success based off of one season,” he says.

On television, debuts have always gotten most of the glory, with marketing campaigns geared around the freshest shows on the schedule. The unveiling of fall’s lineup of new shows used to overshadow everything else on television, as new shows needed to grab advertisers right away. For shows that didn’t take off quickly, cancellation was often swift.

Now, TV executives are playing a more patient, subtle game. Splashy shows launch all year round, with new programs from the Big Four networks competing with those of Amazon, Netflix and a gaggle of cable channels. Viewers are looking for ways to navigate the deluge of programming that has engulfed television in recent years.

Some viewers are adopting a wait-and-see stance. They might not be ready to commit until a show comes up at dinner parties, surfaces repeatedly in their Facebook and Twitter feeds, wins awards and lands on critics’ best-of lists. Then it might find a spot in their “queue.” As a result, the second season of a series has become more important than ever. Networks cater to this with less front-loading in their marketing and production budgets.

In 2004, there were 45 scripted prime time and late-night series on basic and pay cable. Last year, there were 199 such series, according to research by the cable channel FX. Adding broadcast networks and streaming services such as Netflix, there were a total of 352 scripted series in 2014, up from about 320 the year before.

“There are just too many channels, too many shows,” says John Landgraf, chief executive of FX Networks and FX Productions, which gave all its new shows from last year a second round in 2015, including “Tyrant,” “Fargo” and “The Strain.”

Mr. Landgraf understands why audiences have gotten Darwinian about new shows. “If they just wait a year, and start watching shows in their second season instead of their first, they can easily catch up whenever they choose to. I think some of the audience has decided that’s a very efficient way to consume television,” he says.

Last fall, Lance Hart, a 44-year-old graphic designer and theme park reviewer in Stanley, N.C., balked at the new series “Gotham” despite a massive promotional push by Fox and lots of buzz among comics fans. “I had suspicions. Was it going to work out or was it going to be hokey?” Mr. Hart recalls thinking of the show’s premise, about the world of Batman before the caped crusader exists. And having been burned in the past by fast cancellations, he was also concerned that the show could die in its first year.

Mr. Hart turned to his 13,700 Twitter followers, asking them if “Gotham” was worth it. In response, he got more positive reviews than negative, he says. Still, he held off, until he read this week that Fox had renewed “Gotham” for a second season. “That gave me a lot more confidence in the show. So I’m putting it up in the front of the line,” he says, referring to the group of shows he’s storing up to stream through Hulu (he cut the cord on his cable TV subscription back in November).

On cable channels that aren’t as dependent on advertising revenue as broadcasters, second seasons are handed out virtually by default. Such early orders help reinforce the perception of a hit-in-the-making, and help producers map out a show’s future. Last summer, AMC announced that it had ordered a second season of the “Breaking Bad” spinoff “Better Call Saul,” seven months before the show’s Feb. 8 first-season debut.

Now, some cable networks and streaming services are starting to guarantee two seasons of a new show up front, as a way to lure A-list producers. When Netflix picked up the first 13 episodes of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” a comedy Tina Fey had initially produced for NBC, it included a second round in the deal. Starz landed a hot comedy script from “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane and author Jonathan Ames in large part because the network committed to two 10-episode seasons, says Starz’s Mr. Albrecht. “Blunt Talk” stars Patrick Stewart as a volatile British newscaster who elbows into the world of U.S. cable news.

Broadcast networks don’t have that kind of leeway. However, with viewership for brand-new shows soft across the board, the networks have no choice but to hold off on giving slow-starters the hook. When freshman hits do occur, they’re getting quicker to order more helpings. Last week, CBS picked up a batch of widely-viewed dramas that launched last fall—“Madam Secretary,” “NCIS: New Orleans” and “Scorpion”—an announcement that came about four months earlier than it traditionally would. Fourth-place broadcaster Fox, eager to trumpet success, announced last week that it had renewed its drama “Empire” after just two episodes.

Lesser-known networks have to be particularly patient. Last year, WGN America, a “superstation” out of Chicago formerly known for reruns and live sports, began transforming itself into a basic-cable network. To establish its new identity, WGN America launched two period dramas: “Salem,” a supernatural story set during the witch trials, and “Manhattan,” about the race to build the atomic bomb in New Mexico.

Even if advertisements or favorable reviews were to convince viewers to sample the new shows, they’d still face the added hurdle of figuring out where to find WGN. After the initial run of “Salem” last spring on the network, which is now available in 71 million households, the series was released on Netflix in time for Halloween—leading some viewers to assume it was a Netflix production, says Matt Cherniss, president of WGN America.

All this factors into where WGN’s shows land in the queue—that shifting hierarchy of titles that audiences make room for in their lives, he says. “Once viewers find your show, they might love it. But you won’t know if you’ve moved up the queue until the second season. In this day and age, that second season is critical.”

After months of tracking viewer reaction to season 1 of “Salem” in focus groups and on social media, Mr. Cherniss urged the writers to amp up the horror in season 2 and add “newer, more surprising scary moments.”

Sophomore seasons are always part of a bigger network playbook. “Sirens,” a comedy about Chicago paramedics, returns next week as a remnant of USA Network’s efforts to diversify its drama-heavy lineup. Over at AMC, where executives remember that “Breaking Bad” barely got noticed until its second season, the word “patience” is often invoked, most recently for the drama “Halt and Catch Fire.” Despite a tepid following for its first season, the series about a brain trust of computer makers in the 1980s will return this summer.

For shows struggling to find their creative footing, season 2 is often the make-or-break moment. “The Bridge,” a crime story set on the U.S.-Mexico border, didn’t rally enough in season 2 to avoid cancellation on FX.

In its first season, the Fox series “Sleepy Hollow” looked like a smash hit. A big audience quickly latched onto the story of a resurrected Ichabod Crane who fights demonic bad guys and generates romantic sparks with a modern-day cop. But something went wrong for the supernatural drama in season 2, which began last fall and has averaged 7.1 million total viewers, down from season 1’s 11.2 million.

Last week at a media event promoting Fox’s new and returning shows, chairman and chief executive Dana Walden said “Sleepy Hollow” was “calibrating” the continuing second half of season 2. Part of the prescription: lightening the tone and making it less serialized so occasional viewers don’t lose the plot. “As part of our diagnostic process on any show…we tried to determine what’s working and what’s not working,” Ms. Walden said. “We are trying to return the fun to it a little bit.” Fox has yet to pick up “Sleepy Hollow” for a third season.

On cable, producers tend to get a bigger road map. In 2012, for example, Starz announced a second season for its original series “Magic City” a few weeks before the premiere of the drama set in 1950s Miami. “Black Sails,” the pirate series created by Jon Steinberg and Robert Levine, and executive-produced by Michael Bay, got its season-2 ticket even earlier—five months before last year’s premiere.

Mr. Albrecht acknowledges that there’s some marketing strategy at work in such fanfare. “To fans, we’re saying, ‘If you try the show and you like the show, we’re not going to pull the rug out from under you, at least not for some time.” Indeed, “Magic City” didn’t make it to season 3.

But there are practical reasons for handing out second seasons so early. It allows the network to amortize a show’s costs over time, such as the expense of building ship sets for “Black Sails” and a massive water tank in Capetown, South Africa, where the series is shot.

It also gives writers and other team members a big jump on the scarcest commodity in TV—the luxury of time. In a dark room inside a Los Angeles studio, visual-effects supervisor Erik Henry pauses a scene from a coming episode, in which pirates swarm onto a neighboring ship. He peels back digital layers, pointing out where dripping ropes, whipping sails and the ocean itself were fabricated from scratch.

The visual-effects department worked on that siege scene, including cannon fire and circling aerial shots, for 3½ months. “We have even more time than ‘Game of Thrones’ does,” says Mr. Henry, whose team won an Emmy last year for the effects in “Black Sails.”

On the TV screen, he brings up a scene in its early, blocky, computerized stages, an ambitious shot of a ship being tossed around in a storm. The scene won’t appear in “Black Sails” until season 3—which Starz has already committed to for 2016.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-rise...son-1421973061
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TV Notes
Study: New HBO service could hurt pay TV
By Media Life Magazine Staff - Jan. 22, 2015

HBO’s new over-the-top service, which will allow people to access the pay cable network’s content without subscribing to satellite or cable, appears to have a ready and waiting audience.

A new study from Parks Associates, a market research and consulting company, finds that 17 percent of broadband households say they would subscribe to an OTT service from HBO.

Ninety-one percent of these people currently subscribe to pay TV such as cable or satellite, and half of them said they would cancel those services if they could get HBO through the web.

Interestingly, these broadband households are pretty comfortable watching shows online. Parks says the average head of the household for these homes watches 3.5 hours of OTT video each week on a TV set.

HBO announced plans for the service last year and plans to roll it out later this year.

http://www.medialifemagazine.com/stu...e-hurt-pay-tv/

* * * *

TV Notes
Flama programming now available on Hulu

Flama, the English-language Hispanic over-the-top video platform, is expanding its reach.

The digital video network now has some of its content available on Hulu, including the new episodes of the original comedy series “Saving Lives.” New episodes appear on Hulu every Thursday, with the first one already available.

Flama has also made available all episodes of four other series: “Taking on America,” “Drop the Mic with Becky G,” “Chachi’s Dance to Uforia” and “The Bodega.”

A joint venture between Univision Communications and Bedrocket, which operates branded media networks, Flama airs English-language content targeting Hispanic millennials, particularly those age 15-30.

http://www.medialifemagazine.com/fla...vailable-hulu/
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TV Notes
Knocked for Risks, League Plays Defense
‘Friday Night Tykes’ Returns With Virtues Played Up
By Ken Belson, The New York Times - Jan. 23, 2015

SAN ANTONIO — On a Thursday night in December, Brian Morgan stood at the 50-yard line on a community football field as two teams from the Outlaws, a youth organization, practiced to his left and right. Both teams — one with 6- and 7-year-olds and the other with 10- and 11-year-olds — were preparing for championship games in a few days.

Unlike the coaches in track suits, Morgan, 43, wore a jacket and slacks, having just returned from a business trip to Houston. As the younger boys in full pads clanked off one another on one side of the field, Morgan took stock of the controversial Texas Youth Football Association, which he co-founded 15 years ago.

The association, which contains 105 organizations that have up to five teams in different age groups, fueled a national debate about youth football and parenting after several teams were featured in the television series “Friday Night Tykes.”

Coaches were shown screaming at young boys and leading them in risky drills. Parents were portrayed as overbearing. Children cried and vomited during practices in brutal heat. One stadium banned TYFA teams. USA Football, the N.F.L.-funded group that governs amateur football and promotes safe tackling,slammed the association because of coaches’ language.

The reaction to the show thrust Morgan, a client services consultant by day and a volunteer league commissioner by night, into the role of defending the association and its tough-love, win-at-all-costs philosophy. He spoke on radio and television programs, was cornered by concerned parents and recently appeared on a panel in New York.

He acknowledged that there were bad apples in TYFA. Coaches were suspended for using foul language and encouraging their players to harm opponents. Parents who go on the field will now be barred from future games.

“The coaches, the ‘in your face,’ the intensity took people by surprise,” Morgan said. “Do they cross the line? Sure. The cameras caught some stuff that we had to tighten up, like scrimmaging younger players against older kids. That’s a no-no. And there’s no reason for parents to taunt other parents.”

But by and large, he said, the show portrayed teams playing hard and learning life lessons. Besides, no one is forcing parents to have their sons play on TYFA teams, which have fewer weight and age restrictions and more practices than other youth football organizations like Pop Warner.

For all the controversy it generated, the first season, which aired last year on the Esquire Network, was a boon to TYFA. (The first installment in the 10-part second season was broadcast Tuesday.) After several years of declining enrollment amid reports about the long-term effects of concussions, the number of players in TYFA rose by about 35 percent, to roughly 18,000, last season, which concluded in mid-December.

This has only emboldened Morgan, who said he did not buy talk of the decline of youth football. The concussions, the violence on the field, and the manic parents and coaches who push children as young as 6 to play a dangerous game are part of the sport, he said, not omens of its demise.

“Some people say it’s too young for them to learn how to win and lose,” Morgan said. “And I say, ‘When do you start?’ You want them to learn how to lose and how to pick yourself up after a loss, how do you win and win humbly? It’s a shame competition has become a kind of a bad word.”

Morgan’s defense of the association comes as the N.F.L, the N.C.A.A., high schools, youth leagues and many others involved in the sport are rushing to address concerns that the game is too dangerous.

They have embraced new helmet designs, safer tackling techniques, penalties for hitting defenseless players and rules that require players suspected of sustaining concussions to come out of games.

Morgan does not dismiss these efforts. But it is better to admit that the sport will always have its risks, he said, adding that efforts to prevent those risks would dilute the game’s larger lessons, including the need for hard work, discipline and camaraderie.

Either way, the show has raised questions about America’s obsession with sports and the increasing specialization for young athletes. It has also revitalized the debate over when, if ever, it is safe to let a child play tackle football.

“When I was a kid, we were focused on winning, but the intensity I see now, both from my kids’ coaches and on this show, I don’t remember,” said Tiki Barber, a former Giants running back, whose 12-year-old son plays tackle football and has had a concussion. “I think it’s the evolution of sport and the desire for excellence and to move up to high school, college and the N.F.L.”

Those involved with the show see it differently. The cameras followed them for months, so it was perhaps inevitable that they felt that they were misunderstood at times. They were especially upset that critics thought they cared little about the safety of their children.

“They highlighted some of the bad stuff, but this is something that’s gone on for years,” said Kinton Armmer, whose son, Jaden, played for the San Antonio Colts. “I don’t think there’s anyone in TYFA who is trying to hurt anybody. We have to teach our child that life is not fair, and the earlier he learns it, the more prepared he is for later in life.”

Still, the show forced parents to confront some of their worst impulses. Lisa Connell, whose 9-year-old son, Colby, was shown throwing up, was shocked that she came across as a bossy parent.

“It makes you think, Are my intentions pure?” said Connell, a teacher who volunteers as a manager for the Junior Broncos, her son’s team.

“Here, this is normal,” she added. “I couldn’t figure out why people would want to watch it. Every part of the country has their crazy sports — gymnastics, soccer, basketball. I’m competitive on the treadmill and the grocery store.”

Connell dismissed concerns that boys were forced to play in TYFA against their will. She gave Colby a choice to switch sports, she said, but he declined. She also thought it was unfair for people elsewhere in the United States to doubt her sincerity.

“That hurt the most, that people were questioning me as a parent,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s our life.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/23/sp...html?ref=media
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Legal Notes/TV Sports
Cowboys fan sues NFL for $88 billion over overturned Dez Bryant catch

Divided evenly among the 26.4-million people who live in Texas, that's $3,364.60 each.
But after lawyer fees, it will be half off coupon for a hot dog at Jerryworld.
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They are good dogs though.

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TV Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Jan. 23, 2015

PHILOMENA
Showtime, 8:00 p.m. ET

Steven Coogan, more known in the U.K. for straight comedy roles and sketch characters, co-wrote the screenplay for this 2013 character drama, and co-stars, in a story of a journalist (Coogan) who takes on the challenge of finding what happened to the infant son of an Irish woman who, many decades earlier, was taken away from her while she was in the care of nuns at a convent. Judi Dench plays the woman, and Sophie Kennedy Clark portrays her younger counterpart in flashbacks.

COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER
TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Sissy Spacek plays country singer Loretta Lynn in this 1980 biography – and, at the time, impressed critics by singing the songs herself, rather than lip-synching to Lynn’s recordings. Academy Award voters were impressed, too – and awarded Spacek the Best Actress Oscar. Costars include Tommy Lee Jones and, stepping out from behind his drum kit in The Band, Levon Helm.

THE TERMINATOR
Sundance, 9:00 p.m.

One of several vintage movies shown tonight, this one, from 1984, began a franchise that’s just about to be rebooted, with its original star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, as a key part of the mix again.

FUNNY GIRL
TCM, 10:15 p.m. ET

Very young TV viewers may recognize this as the musical in which Lea Michele’s Rachel, on Glee, was starring in a Broadway revival. But no, this is the 1968 movie version of the musical which, like this film, showcased Barbra Streisand as Ziegfeld comedy star Fanny Brice. Co-stars include Omar Sharif, Anne Francis and, as Mrs. Strakosh, Mae Questel. I note that because, though her name may not be familiar, her voice certainly is: in vintage cartoons, she provided the voices of two female characters who couldn’t be more dissimilar: Olive Oyl and Betty Boop.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
NBC, 11:29 p.m. ET

On tonight’s new edition, Blake Shelton is the host and the musical guest. Take that, Adam Levine…


http://www.tvworthwatching.com/
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TV Review
'Black Sails': Starz has a bona fide hit
By Verne Gay, Newsday - Jan. 21, 2014

THE SHOW "Black Sails"

WHEN | WHERE Saturday at 9 p.m. on Starz

WHAT IT'S ABOUT
The Walrus -- the great pirate ship formerly under the command of Capt. Flint (Toby Stephens) -- lies like a beached whale on the coast of Florida, and so in a sense, does Cap'n Flint. The crew has mutinied, and all is lost, including perhaps the vast store of Spanish gold, nearly within reach. He needs a new friend -- will he find that friend in John Silver (Luke Arnold)?

Meanwhile, there is a newcomer to Nassau, still under the tenuous command of Eleanor Guthrie (Hannah New). He is a blackhearted monster with the conscience of . . . well, the conscience of a pirate. This blaggard's name is Ned Low (Tadhg Murphy), captain of The Fancy, and you'll get to meet him in the opening minutes of Saturday's second-season launch.

MY SAY "Black Sails" has emerged as the genuine crowd-pleaser Starz has been searching for lo these many years -- that crowd mainly comprised of dudes who like their violence hard, fast and upside the head. It's a Peckinpah western set on the high seas, where the good, bad and ugly rule, though almost exclusively the bad and ugly. (The actual "good" who are foolish enough to show their pretty little heads, in fact, tend to lose them quickly.)

This is a Robert Levine and Jonathan Steinberg creation -- both worked on Fox's "Human Target" -- but the famous name attached is Michael Bay, and that alone says all you need to know here: Operatic violence, sex served generously and indecorously, and spectacular special effects.

But let's get beyond the all-too-easy Bay-bashing. The real surprise is just how entertaining "Black Sails" is. This is often grand-scale entertainment, with pounding action sequences and sumptuous special effects -- a re-created London circa 1705, or the port of Nassau, where even the nonhuman rats can be seen scurrying through the streets. The stories are intricate enough to hold attention, but not too intricate. The action, which always supersedes the chatter, is the thing, and here it's something to see indeed.

BOTTOM LINE Starz has a bona fide hit -- averaging 5.3 million viewers per episode last season -- and it's easy to see why.

GRADE: B+


http://www.newsday.com/entertainment...-hit-1.9826495
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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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Nielsen Overnights (18-49)
‘Constantine’ & ‘Hart Of Dixie’ Tick Up In Ratings On Quiet Friday
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com - Jan. 23, 2015

There was little movement last night as ABC and CBS opted for mostly repeats on the Friday before the start of the February sweep.

NBC’s Constantine (0.9 in adults 18-49, 3.48 million viewers) showed signs of recovery from the scheduling move to 8 PM, which pushed the series’ ratings down by -20%. In its second airing in the new 8 PM slot, Constantine was up +13% (.1), drawing its largest audience since Nov. 21. NBC likely looked at Gotham‘s successful run at 8 PM as motivation for its decision to try out its own comic-book based series in the family friendly hour. At 9 PM, Grimm (1.2) held steady, while Deadline (1.3) is settling nicely in the 10 PM slot, up +30% from last week to deliver its best results since Dec. 19 and top ABC’s 20/20 in the hour (1.1, down -21%).

20/20 was hurt by the fact that its led-in was all reruns. Still, ABC’s 8-10 PM lineup showed very strong repeatability. Last Man Standing (1.0) and Cristela (0.9) were off only by .3 and .2, respectively, from their originals last week. An encore of Shark Tank (1.5) was still the top program of the night in 18-49.

CBS’ Undercover Boss (1.4) was even with last week, while Hawaii Five-0 (1.1) and Blue Bloods (1.0) were repeats. CBS, ABC and NBC finished tied for first place on the night (1.2).

Fox’s World’s Funniest Fails (1.0) and Glee (0.7) were even with last week. Hart of Dixie (0.5) ticked up a tenth, +25%, from last week, while Masters of Illusions (0.3) was on par.

http://deadline.com/2015/01/constant...ay-1201357344/
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Business Notes
How will Dish's Sling TV play?
By Mike Snider, USA Today's 'Cutting the Cord' Column - Jan. 24, 2015

Now that we know what's on Sling TV, Dish Network's new subscription Net video service that is set to launch soon, experts are trying to dial in on the target audience.

Likely to become available by the end of the month, Sling TV costs $20 monthly for about a dozen live TV channels, including ABC Family, Cartoon Network, CNN, Disney Channel, ESPN and ESPN 2, the Food Network, HGTV, TBS, TNT, The Travel Channel and Adult Swim.

As the cord-cutting movement has advanced, many have held back because pay-TV alternatives such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Instant Video don't have live sports. Having ESPN and ESPN 2 available on Sling TV may lure some to join the cord-cutting conga line.

Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch says the new offering targets millennials who are less likely to subscribe to pay TV.

Not so fast, says David Lieberman, executive editor at Deadline.com (also a friend and former colleague at USA TODAY). In a Jan. 19 column, Lieberman says he suspects Sling TV "may appeal more to cash-strapped cable and satellite subscribers than it will to young adults."

That's because the Sling TV programming channels skew more toward older viewers than millennials, Lieberman says.

Dish chairman Charlie Ergen may be soft-selling Sling TV so as not to upset the "Golden Goose" that is the pay TV industry — which has 100 million or so homes paying on average $70 a month, and many $100 or more.

At The Diffusion Group, a tech consulting firm that has provided plenty of fodder for this column, Alan Wolk says Sling TV may attract some cord-cutters, but "it is millennial cord-nevers who will be the ones ponying up $20 a month for the app."

The main factor, he says, is the importance of live news (CNN) and sports (ESPN) to millennials. "Cord-never millennials will quickly figure out that most of the other programming on Sling TV is also available on Netflix or Hulu Plus – and without eight minutes of commercials," Wolk reasons.

I'm interested in how important the lack of a two-year contract is to consumers. As opposed to traditional pay TV service, Sling TV is like Spotify, Lynch says. "I put in my credit card and can cancel whenever I want, and I can take it wherever I go."

Combine Sling TV with HBO's as-yet-undefined standalone Net service — and your choice of Amazon, Hulu or Netflix — and cord cutting probably becomes even more attractive.

Nearly one in five broadband homes (17%) are likely to subscribe to HBO's service, which is due to begin operation this year. Many (91%) of those broadband homes are also pay TV customers, and half would cancel pay TV once they get the new HBO service, the firm found.

"The percentage of subscribers interested in (Net-delivered, over-the-top) video services is trending upward, and more industry players are planning to launch their own OTT services," says Parks' research analyst Glenn Hower.

Though Net TV can be watched on computers, tablets and smartphones, viewing on TVs remains important. But, Hower said, "the age of appointment television is coming to a close, and programming will need to adapt to an on-demand environment."

Sling TV represents an important step in that evolution.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2...g-tv/22173543/
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