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post #99391 of 99418 Unread 01-23-2015, 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 #99392 of 99418 Unread 01-23-2015, 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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post #99393 of 99418 Unread 01-23-2015, 08:42 PM
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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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post #99394 of 99418 Unread 01-23-2015, 10:00 PM
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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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post #99395 of 99418 Unread 01-23-2015, 10:10 PM
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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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post #99396 of 99418 Unread 01-23-2015, 10:14 PM
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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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post #99397 of 99418 Unread 01-23-2015, 10:20 PM
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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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post #99398 of 99418 Unread 01-23-2015, 10:25 PM
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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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post #99399 of 99418 Unread 01-23-2015, 10:28 PM
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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. 24, 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. 24, 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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Critic's 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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SATURDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insights' Blog.
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Obituary
Joe Franklin, New York TV Talk Show Pioneer, Dies at 88
By Cynthia Littleton, Variety.com - Jan. 25, 2015

Joe Franklin, the New York media fixture who hosted one of TV’s first and longest-running talk shows, died Saturday. He was 88.

“The Joe Franklin Show” was a Gotham latenight staple on WWOR-TV from 1962 to 1993. Franklin got his start in 1951 with a daytime show on WJZ-TV, the station that is now WABC-TV. The WWOR show was known for its odd mix of B- and C-list guests and the occasional A-lister, along with quirky New Yorkers from all walks of life.

A native of the Bronx, Franklin worked in radio and publicity before segueing into television in its infancy. Although he never gained much fame outside of New York, Billy Crystal famously parodied Franklin’s look and rapid-fire style on “Saturday Night Live” in the early 1980s. Franklin also played himself in Woody Allen’s “Broadway Danny Rose” and 1984’s “Ghostbusters.”

He earned a lifetime achievement award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in 1991.

Most recently, Franklin had a celebrity interview show on Bloomberg Radio.

http://variety.com/2015/tv/news/joe-...ow-1201414441/
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TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
SUNDAY Network Primetime Options
(All shows are in HD unless noted; start times are ET)

ABC:
7PM - America's Funniest Home Videos
8PM - Galavant (Season Finale)
9:01PM - Resurrection
10:01PM - Revenge

CBS:
7PM - 60 Minutes
8PM - Undercover Boss: Forman Mills
9PM - CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
10PM - CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

NBC:
7PM - Dateline NBC
8PM - The 63rd Annual Miss Universe Pageant (3 hrs., LIVE)

FOX:
7PM - Mulaney
7:30PM - The Simpsons
(R - Nov. 16)
8PM - The Simpsons
8:30PM - Brooklyn Nine-Nine
9PM - Family Guy
9:30PM - Bob's Burgers

PBS:
(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - The Great British Baking Show: Pies and Tarts
9PM - Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey, Season 5, Episode 4
10PM - Masterpiece Mystery!: Grantchester, Episode 2

UNIVISION:
7PM - Aquí y Ahora
8PM - Nuestra Belleza Latina
10PM - Sal y Pimienta

TELEMUNDO:
7PM - Camino a la Corona (Special)
8PM - Miss Universo 2015 (3 hrs., LIVE)
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TV Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Jan. 25, 2015

GALAVANT
ABC, 8:00 p.m. ET
SEASON FINALE:
ABC hasn’t announced a renewal for this four-week, eight-episode limited series – and based on the ratings, isn’t likely to. But this series has had its moments, and its clever musical numbers (for example, “Weird Al” Yankovic and a group of hooded clerics singing “Hey, hey, we’re the Monks”) – and if tonight’s episode is indeed the last round for Galavant, at least it’ll go down singing…

2015 SCREEN ACTORS GUILD AWARDS
TBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

This year’s SAG Awards include a tribute to Debbie Reynolds, introduced by her daughter, Carrie Fisher. Also, there’s a lot of emphasis on the top acting awards, because, much of the time, the winners serve as predictors of who’s most likely to succeed come Oscar night. Simulcast on TNT.

MASTERPIECE CLASSIC: "DOWNTON ABBEY"
PBS, 9:00 p.m.

In tonight’s episode, Richard E. Grant continues to project the sort of smarmy friendliness that makes Hugh Bonneville’s Earl of Grantham steam in his stuffed shirt. Grant is playing a guy who has eyes not only for the art collected by Elizabeth McGovern’s Countess of Grantham – but for the Countess herself. Check local listings.

SONS OF LIBERTY
History, 9:00 p.m. ET
MINISERIES PREMIERE: Part 1 of 3.
This isn’t very good, and certainly isn’t to be believed as any sort of accurate historical account – but this channel, these days, has a very liberal definition of what counts as, and belongs on, History. In any event, this three-part, six-hour drama about the birth of the American Revolution, though modernized, actionized and with its heroes buffed up and lionized, at least gets certain facts right, and pays attention to an often underlooked period in American history. Just don’t expect too much – not even with, eventually, Dean Norris as George Washington.

THE GRADUATE
Sundance, 10:00 p.m. ET

This 1967 Mike Nichols movie, starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, is an absolutely wonderful movie. But here’s something to ponder: In two years, it will be 50 years old.


http://www.tvworthwatching.com/

* * * *

Critic's Notes/TV Sports
Patriot’s Scandal Mostly Deflates Fans
By Eric Gould, TVWorthWatching.com - Jan. 25, 2015

The media hysteria over 11 squishy footballs last week overshadowed coverage of a presidential address, the hunt for international terrorists, and now an asteroid about to make a near miss as it passes by Earth.

Last Thursday, to the symphonic sobriety of the CBS Evening News theme, anchor Scott Pelley led the broadcast intoning, “The integrity of the most popular sport in America is being called into question just days before its biggest game. Did the New England Patriots cheat their way into the Super Bowl by deflating game balls, making them easier for their quarterback to throw and the receivers to catch?”

To repeat, an asteroid the size of a mountain is about to buzz by the Earth, and life as we know it will survive.

Bill Maher, observing the TV news hysteria, joked last Friday, “Nothing matters now in America except 'Deflategate'… On CNN, you would have thought that Tom Brady caught Ebola, passed out at the controls of a Malaysian airliner, and crashed into Benghazi.”

First things first. I am a Boston guy. I used to love the Patriots and Tom Brady. It wasn't the hater’s “Cheatriots” pinned on them after the 2007 “Spygate" scandal that cooled my passions. You could never love coach Bill Belichick’s oddball, condescending monotone. But it was their improbable last-minute championship losses to the New York Giants in both 2008 and 2012 that pretty much did me in. Once was enough. Twice was unthinkable.

I just couldn’t take it anymore. I moved on to the Packers, the Eagles – anyone who didn’t wear blue, who lowered the stakes, and who wouldn’t keep me up at night.

Today, I’m still a lower-key fan. But as much as I enjoy a Patriot win, I love the Boy Scout goodness of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and their ball-hawking defense. Either way, I’ll be happy with the victor next Sunday, in a game that matches up two of this year's best NFL teams.

The media frenzy over soft balls hasn’t been without its lessons and benefits. There have been insightful pieces about the integrity of the game and the Patriots having already been convicted in the press, their legacy now tarnished, no matter the result of the NFL investigation.

Others have humorously painted Belichick as a troubled, Nixonian character and one, by David Fleming at espn.com, compared Belichick to Darth Sidious, peering out from under his signature hoodie.

If someone on the Patriots was tampering with equipment, then, of course, it’s cheating, and let the chips fall where they may, vacated wins and all.

At an unscheduled press conference in Foxboro yesterday (Saturday), Belichick emphatically denied any wrongdoing and gave, ahem, some weight to the explanation that football prep and atmospheric conditions could explain the loss of pressure in the footballs supplied by the Patriots who wanted them set to the league minimum in wet, slippery weather.

If you’re a fan of the Pats, you’ll see the scandal as a little bit of hot air – 10-15 percent lower than the allowable, incidentally – missing from the ball that made it easier to grip in utterly foul weather last week in their landslide win over the Indianapolis Colts.

But what you see is what you get. If you’ve been on the losing end of the Patriots over the past decade, you’ll see a nutty, Kennedy-level of conspiracy theory around Belichick, Brady and their domination of a very tough league. It’s nothing more than “Beli-cheat” and the “Cheatriots,” and business as usual.

With all that success, you might easily ask if they were cutting corners all that time. Belichick, after all, infamously hedged on player injury reports (forcing the league to change its rules on that) and, this year, began switching around players eligible to receive the ball, confusing defenses. All that was wily and ruthless – but within the rules.

Yesterday, he lamented that the whole story was unfortunate for the New England players: “The best team in the (AFC) postseason. That’s what’s this team is… I'm embarrassed to talk about the amount of time I've put into this relative to the other important challenge in front of us.”

That unfairness to the players is true, and we should include the Seahawks in that bunch. Getting to the Super Bowl and the two-week pre-game attention on it, should be the most memorable story in a football player's career -- not the physics of ball pressure.

And also add the steadfast New England fans (excluding certain TV writers), who perhaps are the biggest victims here. Real or imagined, the scandal makes them the ones who will have to listen to the cheater labels, and calls for asterisks next to Superbowl wins, for decades to come...

http://www.tvworthwatching.com/BlogP...px?postId=8898
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TV Review
'Night Will Fall'
HBO Holocaust documentary, building on a shelved project from 1945, is grisly but important viewing
By David Hinckley, New York Daily News - Jan. 23, 2014

Seventy years later, you still wonder why the victorious Allies shelved a documentary film on the liberation of the German concentration camps.

“Night Will Fall” dusts off excerpts from the film, recounts its history and asks that same question.

The footage, as you might expect, is hard to watch. The difference between seeing bodies pile up on “The Walking Dead” and seeing the skeletal corpses of Holocaust victims is incalculable. It’s not even a discussion.

The Holocaust was what mankind would be without its humanity. The fact that we don’t like to think about that is the reason we must, and “Night Will Fall” is strongest when it lets the images tell the story. The dead here don’t need words to speak.

The film “German Concentration Camps Factual Survey” was commissioned partly because of the reasonable fear that to those who didn’t see for themselves, the events might sound unthinkable.

Alfred Hitchcock was brought in to help make the film a story, not just a newsreel. But by the late summer of 1945, the British changed course.

Thinking they would need the Germans as an ally in the coming Cold War, they decided that hammering the losers with their brutal recent past was bad strategy.

Right or wrong, it didn’t erase the questions. Within walking and certainly smelling distance of the camps, we see smiling frauleins raking the grass under fruit trees. We see camp guards, men and women. We see the warehouse with neatly labeled boxes of eyeglasses, children’s toys, teeth and human hair, all appropriated from victims.

The Nazis wasted nothing, if you don’t count their souls.

Happily and wisely, “Night Will Fall” ends with survivors, who remind us that hailing the light cannot mean forgetting the darkness.

'Night Will Fall'
Network/Air Date: HBO, Monday at 9 p.m.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of five)


http://www.nydailynews.com/entertain...icle-1.2088799
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Business Notes
Dreamworks Animation stock drops, logs 52-week low
By Yvonne Villareal, Los Angeles Times' 'Company Town' Blog - Jan. 23, 2015

DreamWorks Animation stock tumbled after the studio announced layoffs and over $300 million in writedowns and charges.

The stock fell $1.95 or 9.5% to $19.27 in trading on Friday. Earlier in the session, DreamWorks stock hit a new 52-week low of $18.30 after closing Thursday at $21.31.

The Glendale animated film giant on Thursday unveiled plans to cut 500 jobs, shake up top management and scale back its film production, as well as close its studio in Redwood City in Northern California.

The moves follow a string of box-office disappointments that have resulted in major writedowns on films including "Turbo" and "Penguins of Madagascar." Wall Street has been critical of DreamWorks for not being able to replicate the success that it once had with the "Shrek" franchise.

Cowen & Co. media analyst Doug Creutz downgraded his outlook for the company to "underperform."

In his report, "Downgrade: Creativity and Restructuring Don't Mix," Creutz links DreamWorks' last brush with layoffs in 2013 and its poor film performance.

"While we can not prove cause and effect, we think the most recent round of layoffs risks further worsening DWA's competitive position in the very competitive animated film market," he wrote.

He also cautions that, in relation to the company's liquidity, DreamWorks is in a "precarious position." He notes that the company has $500 million in debt and $50 million in cash on the balance sheet, and faced upcoming restructing costs of $110 million -- and has just one film slated for 2015, "Home."

BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield also detailed a grim outlook, saying DreamWorks is in a "dire situation." His report to clients issued on Friday was titled, "Could DreamWorks Animation Be Insolvent by 2019?"

He asserts that the company has "significantly overextended" itself, and forewarns that "they are skating on increasingly thin ice."

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment...123-story.html
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TV Review
'Sons of Liberty’: Revolutionary use of language, history
By Dave Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle - Jan. 22, 2015

Benjamin Franklin’s sayings have lived long after his time on earth. Every schoolchild knows “early to bed, early to rise,” etc. Many know the observation that “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” even if they don’t know Franklin said it.

But how many recall those truly immortal words, “That’s an absolute bats— crazy idea”?

OK, so the History Channel may take license here and there with factual accuracy: That doesn’t mean “Sons of Liberty” is a flop. The fact is (so to speak), the three-night miniseries launching Sunday is both dramatically rewarding and frequently informative as it looks at the band of Boston rebels who planted the seeds of independence through their defiance of the British some 20 years before the Declaration of Independence.

You may find it slightly ironic that so many British actors have flattened their vowels to portray American colonists. There’s Ben Barnes, for example, as a swashbuckling Samuel Adams and the impatient hero of the piece. Rafe Spall plays John Hancock as a foppish, toadying merchant who becomes radicalized to the rebels’ cause after his business is ruined by the British and his roomy mansion is commandeered by Gen. Thomas Gage (Marton Csokas). He’s not British, but Irish actor Jason O’Mara plays George Washington.

But there are some genuine Yanks among the cast, including Henry Thomas as Sam’s cousin, John Adams; Michael Raymond-James as Paul Revere; Ryan Eggold as Dr. Joseph Warren; and Dean Norris, playing Ben Franklin as a wine-loving womanizer as well as the smartest guy in the room.

The miniseries covers two decades of unrest in Boston, from 1765, through the Boston Massacre in 1770, to the Boston Tea Party in 1773 and the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775.

Director Kari Skogland does a masterful job giving “Sons” a compelling epic sweep. The battle scenes are powerful, explosive and properly grisly. She gives in to a somewhat understandable bit of grandstanding for the series’ finale, as George Washington strides through his army reciting the Declaration of Independence, but a convincing sense of realism pervades much of the six-hour epic. Skogland may be Canadian, but there’s no question here that the colonists are the good guys and the British thoroughly bad, especially Gage, who’s been dispatched to the colonies to quell rising tension in opposition to taxation and trade restrictions imposed by the crown.

There is more nuanced detail among the colonists themselves. Sam Adams is a firebrand. Cousin John is more cautious. Hancock is virtually a Tory sympathizer at first, having made all kinds of under-the-table deals with the colonial governor to avoid paying tariffs on imported goods. George Washington’s character is, you should pardon the expression, a bit wooden, while Ben Franklin seems as if he’s thinking “what happens in Philly stays in Philly” during the first Continental Congress as he canoodles with colonial wenches and knocks back small oceans of booze.

More to the point, the series stands back to show how disconnected the colonies were in the years leading up to the Revolution. The famous colonial flag with its segmented serpent and the words “Join or Die” was a fairly accurate reflection of differing points of view on the matter of independence. When the final vote comes in the series, Franklin’s Pennsylvania colleague abstains, unable to support the break with Britain but seeing that he is rowing against a tsunami. In fact, there were long debates in the days leading up to July 4, and several delegations, especially from the Mid-Atlantic colonies, either opposed independence or were reluctant to vote in favor.

Compressing details and modernizing the language is one thing, but writers Stephen David and David C. White take even greater license with the role of Gen. Gage’s New Jersey-born wife, Margaret Kemble Gage (Emily Berrington). Some historians believe that Joseph Warren had a secret source of information in the British camp and Margaret was at least a possibility. Other historians dispute that scenario, saying even if there was an inside source, it couldn’t have been Margaret Gage. Still others say the facts argue against Warren having a secret contact at all within the enemy camp.

“Sons of Liberty” takes huge and overwhelmingly unsupported liberty in this area to spice things up, depicting Warren carrying on an actual hot and steamy affair with Margaret. Ye olde hubba-hubba.

To add flimsy credibility to this stretch, Gage knows about his wife’s infidelity and her role as a spy for the colonists, and promptly sends her back to London in punishment. There’s little proof that the Gage marriage was anything but stable and, beyond the fact that they had 11 children, Gage is widely believed to have sent his wife back to London simply for her protection as tension increased between the British and the colonists.

Too much? Oh probably, but if you want a history lesson, stay in school. Otherwise, there are enough facts in “Sons of Liberty” to add some ballast to a ripping good saga.


Sons of Liberty
Miniseries. 9 p.m. Sunday-Tuesday, Jan. 25-27, on the History Channel.


http://www.sfgate.com/tv/article/Son...of-6033133.php
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The Megyn Kelly Moment
By Jim Rutenberg, The New York Times Sunday Magazine - Jan. 25, 2015

On a gray Wednesday in November, the Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and four producers gathered around a conference table on the 17th floor of the News Corporation building in Manhattan. They were there to plan the 281st episode of “The Kelly File,” which would be shown live in a few hours, at 9 p.m. Kelly’s executive producer, Tom Lowell, a 25-year veteran of TV news, ticked through the program blocks, the between-commercial bits that are the basic unit of television programming. The A Block would contain a Fox News exclusive on the president’s plans to halt millions of deportations. The B and C Blocks would focus on the Obama health care adviser Jonathan Gruber’s declaration, caught on tape, that the Affordable Care Act passed in part because of “the stupidity of the American voter.” Slated for the D block was Jonathan Gilliam, a former Navy SEAL.

Gilliam had been Kelly’s idea. She saw him on Anderson Cooper’s CNN program a few days earlier, attacking another former SEAL, Robert O’Neill, who had been talking about his role in the assassination of Osama Bin Laden in sometimes salty language. Cooper asked Gilliam for a reaction. Gilliam said the boasting was a breach of military honor and had, if anything, made O’Neill an assassination target. O’Neill, Gilliam said, should be prosecuted and given a dishonorable discharge.

As it happened, Fox News was broadcasting the second part of a two-part documentary that night that cast O’Neill in a more heroic light, so Gilliam’s attack on O’Neill could also be viewed as an attack on Fox News, where Gilliam had been a frequent guest as well. Kelly, sensing an opportunity, directed her team to book him again as soon as possible.

Now, sitting with one leg tucked up on her chair, she narrowed her eyes and leaned forward. “Is he feeling less critical?”

Maybe a little, Lowell said, adding, “but just in the last hour the head of the Navy SEALs, the senior leadership, put out a letter — “

Kelly cut him off: “That was out last week.” She explained to the other producers that the letter urged the SEALs to maintain their silence, a move that appeared to put O’Neill (and, though she didn’t say it, Fox) on the wrong side of a debate about military honor.

Kelly did not think the show needed to delve into any such details. That was SEAL business, she told me before the meeting. She was more upset about what Gilliam had said. He criticized O’Neill for using profanity, which she found ridiculous. “This is a Navy SEAL who we trained to be a killer of bad terrorists. He’s not going to walk around using the Queen’s English!” Worse, and possibly even dangerous, she said, was Gilliam’s claim that O’Neill had made himself a jihadist target.

Before moving on to discuss the E Block, Kelly turned to Lowell with her final order for Gilliam: “Let him know that I saw what he did last week,” she said, in a stern but somewhat self-mocking tone.

A few hours later, Gilliam arrived on Kelly’s cavernous set, just as she was closing out the C block. A production assistant sat him on the white leather high-back stool at the corner of Kelly’s transparent desk. Gilliam is bald and broad shouldered, with a thick neck and a bushy gray goatee. He has been trained to “kill ruthlessly,” he told me later. Kelly, in black spiky heels and a bright red dress, her blond hair now blown out, offered him a chilly hello during a commercial break, then returned to paging through her notes. The stool was small, and Gilliam appeared to droop over the sides. His Megyn moment approached.

For those unfamiliar with the phenomenon, a Megyn moment, as I have taken to calling it, is when you, a Fox guest — maybe a regular guest or even an official contributor — are pursuing a line of argument that seems perfectly congruent with the Fox worldview, only to have Kelly seize on some part of it and call it out as nonsense, maybe even turn it back on you. You don’t always know when, how or even if the Megyn moment will happen; Kelly’s political sensibility and choice of subjects are generally in keeping with that of the network at large. But you always have to be ready for it, no matter who you are. Neither Karl Rove nor Dick Cheney have been spared their Megyn moments, nor will the growing field of 2016 presidential aspirants, who can look forward to two years of interrogation on “The Kelly File.” The Megyn moment has upended the popular notion of how a Fox News star is supposed to behave, and led to the spectacle of a Fox anchor winning praise from the very elites whose disdain Fox has always welcomed. In the process, Kelly’s program has not just given America’s top-rated news channel its biggest new hit in 13 years; it has demonstrated an appeal to the younger and (slightly) more ideologically diverse demographic Fox needs as it seeks to claim even more territory on the American journo-political landscape.

After another commercial break, D block began, and a video showed O’Neill describing how it felt as he made his way to bin Laden’s compound: “We were the F.D.N.Y.; we were the N.Y.P.D.; we were the American people.” Then, the studio camera went live, trained on Gilliam. Kelly got right to the point.

“This is a little dicey because you’ve been very critical of this man,” she said, the model of stern sincerity. “But I wanted to give you the chance to explain it. Because I think a lot of our viewers are looking at him thinking, That man is a national hero.”

Gilliam was prepared. He wasn’t attacking O’Neill. He was attacking the president. “There’s a problem that starts at the top and works its way down,” he said.

“Head of the Navy SEALs?” she asked innocently.

No, he said. “Let’s start with the president, commander in chief. He’s never even been in the military. We elect somebody who’s never been in the military before, and we don’t put them through any training so they know how the military works. Then you have a vice president who goes out — “

But Kelly, incredulous, stopped him midsentence. She then asked him a question often heard on Fox News, though seldom in nonrhetorical form: “What did the president do wrong?”

Here was the Megyn moment, and Gilliam would never recover. He tried to explain his case, arguing that the White House set the bad example for O’Neill and his fellow SEALs by divulging details about the operation in a craven bid to win credit for the president. But Kelly didn’t let it shake her focus: his mistreatment of O’Neill. “You made people view him as a pariah,” she said.

It was another win, and another winning night, for Megyn Kelly. That Wednesday, like most weeknights since her show debuted in 2013, she beat all of her cable-news competitors. Her audience of 2.8 million was four times as large as Rachel Maddow’s on MSNBC and six times larger as that of “Somebody’s Gotta Do It,” the Mike Rowe program on CNN about people who devote their lives to odd passions. In fact, “The Kelly File” was the highest-rated nonsports program in her time slot in all of basic cable in 2014. For Roger Ailes, the Fox News Channel chairman and chief executive, who put her there and raised her in his television image, Kelly has become his “breakthrough artist,” the one who will define Fox’s future.

‘Attractive-looking blond anchorwomen are not rare,’ Brit Hume said. ‘Attractive-looking blond anchorwomen who speak with a fierce authority are rare.’

* * * *

Ailes has long argued that Americans alienated by the sensibilities of the “New York-Hollywood elitists” are a valuable demographic, and the past two decades have proved him right. He started Fox News in 1996, led it to first place in the cable-news ratings in 2002 and has widened his lead ever since. At the point it surpassed CNN, Fox News had an average prime-time audience of 1.2 million, while CNN’s was 900,000 and MSNBC’s was around 400,000. By the end of 2012 — a presidential-election year, with higher-than-typical news viewership — its prime-time audience of more than two million was the third-biggest in all of basic cable and larger than those of MSNBC (905,000) and CNN (677,000) combined. By last year, its share of that news pie had climbed to 61 percent, and it had moved to second place in the prime-time rankings for all of basic cable, behind ESPN.

This has given Ailes consistent bragging rights, no small matter for a man whose braggadocio is television legend. (When Paula Zahn departed Fox News for CNN in 2001, he said he could beat her ratings with “a dead raccoon.”) But it has also given him something more impressive: ever-increasing profits. During a 10-year span, Fox News’s profits grew sixfold to $1.2 billion in 2014, on total operating revenue of $2 billion, according to the financial analysis firm SNL Kagan. By contrast, those of CNN and MSNBC have leveled off over the past few years, with the occasional small dip or spike.

In all, Ailes has contributed 69 consecutive quarters of growth to Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, which split into two public companies in 2013. Within 21st Century Fox, which encompasses the film, broadcast-television and cable-entertainment divisions and employs 27,000 people, Fox News accounted for roughly 18 percent of the total profits last year, even though it has less than 8 percent of the employee base. Kagan projects that Fox News will deliver $1.9 billion in profit by 2018. “They’re just doing phenomenally,” said Derek Baine, the Kagan senior analyst.

And yet, for a network that wants to grow in both viewers and dollars, Ailes’s favored demographic has begun to pose something of a constraint. In an online survey, the Pew Research Center has found that 84 percent of those whom it identified as “consistently conservative” already watched Fox News. Moreover, though Fox News regularly wins in the demographic that matters most to advertisers — those viewers between the ages of 25 and 54 — it has the oldest audience in cable news, a fact that its detractors are quick to point out. How many more of Ailes’s “average Americans” are there who are not already tuned into Fox News on a regular basis?

The Pew Research Center data, though, also suggests an area where expansion is still possible: 37 percent of the Fox News audience holds views that Pew calls ideologically “mixed.” (This means their survey responses on specific political questions cut across ideological lines: For example, they support same-sex marriage but oppose new restrictions on gun ownership.) Similarly, a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute found that about 38 percent of all Americans identify themselves as “independent,” and 34 percent of those independents identify themselves as conservative. A little more than half of that subgroup cite Fox as their “most trusted” news source. The rest are what Robert P. Jones, the chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute, identified as “a growth margin” for the network; they could be what the poll identified as “Fox News Independents,” but they don’t know it yet. Unlike the more hard-core “Fox News Republicans,” these independents are less likely to call themselves members of the Tea Party, are more open to allowing the children of illegal immigrants to stay here legally and slightly more approving of the president’s job performance (15 percent for Fox News Independents, as opposed to 5 percent for Fox News Republicans).

How does Ailes maintain the aging conservative base that has allowed him to control the present while at the same time drawing in younger and independent viewers that will allow him to grow and control the future? Fox News, in this way, is confronted by the same problem the Republican Party faces, and Ailes appears to be solving his problem the way anyone hoping to build a winning national coalition must: by emphasizing personality.

When Ted Turner started CNN, he proclaimed that “the news is the star.” Ailes, on the other hand, has always been a vocal believer in the power of personality. He was the one who, as a young producer of “The Mike Douglas Show,” advised Richard Nixon to embrace the power of television, and who, as a professional political adviser, taught George H. W. Bush how to best Dan Rather in an interview. Ailes knows as well as any television professional alive that personality is the essence of the medium — he called his 1987 self-help book “You Are the Message,” a wink at Marshall McLuhan’s insight that the medium is the message, and subtitled it “Getting What You Want by Being Who You Are.” Ailes’s advice was just what you would expect: “If you can get the audience to pull for you, you’ll always win.”

The challenge, then, was to get everyone pulling for the same guy. In this regard, Bill O’Reilly, 65, has been the prototypical Fox personality. A former correspondent for ABC News who never quite fit the broadcast mold, he grew up in Levittown, on Long Island, and could throw buckets of regular-white-guy resentment at the camera with an uncanny panache. His nightly sign off, “We’re definitely looking out for you,” could easily translate to “We’re in this together.” He has been the top-rated star in all of cable for 13 years running. (And often the best-selling nonfiction author in America as well.) O’Reilly presents himself as a right-leaning populist, with his regular references to “secular progressives” and “the radical left.” But every once in a while he’ll take an unexpected position, say, like his support for some modest gun controls. As O’Reilly told me in a phone interview in November, his show “isn’t a consistent ideological presentation because that doesn’t really work anymore.” A predictable ideological line, he said, is “a niche thing. You can still make a good living doing it, but if you want to be wide, you’ve gotta have a bunch of dimensions.”

‘Our critics are always like, “She wore red for Republicans.” They don’t cover it when you wear blue.’

The last time Pew studied it, in 2012, O’Reilly’s audience was 52 percent Republican, 30 percent independent and 15 percent Democratic. The show that followed his for many years, “Hannity,” with the conservative talk-radio host Sean Hannity, who takes a more traditional Republican line, had an audience that was 65 percent Republican, 22 percent independent and 6 percent Democratic. In speaking to me, Ailes, while complimentary of Hannity as “a unique personality,” also called his show “segmented.” It is no coincidence that, as part of Kelly’s professional development, Ailes made her a regular guest on O’Reilly, where she had to frequently debate him, stand her ground and occasionally mouth off. Finally he moved Kelly into Hannity’s 9 p.m. slot, bumping him to 10 p.m.

I can find no polls that break down the ideological views of Kelly’s audience, and Ailes himself says he does not even have an official Q-score, the industrywide benchmark for TV talent, to rate her by. He says he doesn’t need one. “I have the Q-score,” he told me, pointing at his head.

He also has the ratings. “The Kelly File” is the only cable-news program in the 9 p.m. time slot to show year-over-year growth in overall viewership and in the 25-to-54 demographic. In November, when she was covering the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., Kelly beat O’Reilly among the 25-to-54 demographic, marking the first time any Fox star had done so without audience-boosting presidential debates or conventions running into their time slots. Kelly ended 2014 just behind O’Reilly, holding second place in all of cable news. In her own time slot, she is ahead of everyone, not just in news but on all of basic cable: “Duck Dynasty,” “Mob Wives,” everything but sports. For Roger Ailes, Megyn is clearly the message.

* * * *

Kelly, who is now 44, grew up in Ailes’s America, in a middle-class suburb of Albany called Delmar. She was the youngest of three children, worked as a fitness instructor and went to Mass most Sundays. Her father was an education professor at the State University of New York at Albany, and her mother ran the behavioral-health department at a Veterans Administration hospital. As a teenager in the late 1980s, she lived in a mall rat’s bubble of tall hair, leg warmers and Bon Jovi; one of the popular kids, she was the type who also had friends among the other groups at Bethlehem Central High School, with names like the Dirties (hackeysack-playing stoners) and the Creamies (choir geeks). Reality intruded early. Ten days before Christmas, when Kelly was 15, her father died of a heart attack. He had canceled some of his life-insurance coverage just two months earlier. Money had been tight, and Kelly’s mother had to worry about the mortgage and other expenses. In her senior yearbook, Megyn listed her future hopes in three words: “College, government, wealth.”

Kelly took a high-school aptitude test that, in a perhaps rare moment of accuracy for such tests, suggested that her ideal career was news. She applied to Syracuse in hopes of attending its well-regarded communications program; she was accepted to the school but rejected from the program, so she majored in political science instead. She won a seat in the student senate and was assigned to a panel that investigated faculty sexual-harassment cases, which in turn, she says, piqued her interest in becoming a prosecutor. But after she got her J.D. from Albany Law School in 1995 and found herself facing $100,000 in student loans, she decided to pursue a better-paying career in corporate litigation.

She applied to several firms, including Bickel & Brewer, which hired her to work in its Chicago office, which at that point had no female associates. Robert Cummins, then a partner at the firm, now 81, told me that he asked some of the other associates to take her out to see if she could handle the firm’s macho culture. She could. After about two years there she sought, and landed, a plum position at the prestigious firm of Jones Day, bouncing between its Chicago, New York and, finally, Washington offices. She had married Daniel Kendall, a doctor, but they were growing apart. On track to make partner, she was also exhausted, heading toward divorce and wondering about the direction her life had taken.

In 2003, she cut a TV news demo tape with help from a friend and began cold-calling station managers. The only one she could persuade to see her in person was Bill Lord, then the news director of WJLA, the ABC affiliate in Washington. Lord told me that he had never given a job to somebody off the street with no experience, but Kelly’s tape and the interview impressed him. “She was very intelligent, there’s just no getting around it,” he said. “She was enormously confident. She seemed very, very motivated. She had ideas.” He hired her on a tryout basis one day a week, which quickly led to two days, then to three, then to four. Her priorities were getting the story and beating the competition but never pushing any political ideology, at least as far as Lord could tell. In Lord’s admiring view, “it was all motivated by ambition, I think, all of it. She really wanted to succeed.” Lord was ready to give her a full-time job, and they began negotiating a two-year contract. Kelly says that’s when she realized she might be able to aim much higher.

Competing network executives I have spoken to agree that Kelly could have gone from WJLA to any of the major networks. Jonathan Klein, the CNN/US president from 2004 through 2010, told me it was one of his big regrets that he did not snag Kelly early on. “If you’d have asked me who was the one talent you’d want to have from somewhere else, from another network, I would have said — and did — Megyn Kelly,” Klein told me. “She just hits the right notes.”

But Kelly says Fox was the only other place she wanted to work. “I literally had two hats out there.” Kelly told me. “One was WJLA and one was Fox News.” (Later, it is worth noting, Kelly modified that self-assessment. Had MSNBC called 10 years earlier, before Fox, she would have gone happily. “I’d have done O.K. there, too,” she said.) In 2004, at the annual Radio and Television Correspondents’ Dinner in Washington, she struck up a conversation with Bill Sammon, then a correspondent for The Washington Times and a regular contributor to Fox News. He urged her to send a tape to the Fox Washington bureau chief, Kim Hume, who had defected to Fox News from ABC News, followed by her husband, Brit Hume.

“Attractive-looking blond anchorwomen are not rare,” Brit Hume, now a senior political analyst, told me. “Attractive-looking blond anchorwomen who speak with a fierce authority are rare. In fact, attractive looking anybody who speaks with that kind of authority are rare.” Even better, he said, “she believed in our mission, and she thought that the news was not balanced properly the way it was being presented by the other main outlets, and that was part of the reason she was interested in coming here. That combination, to say that’s rare — it’s off-the-charts rare.”

Hume sent her tape to Roger Ailes, who did not need much convincing. “She’s obviously a beautiful girl, beautiful woman and very intelligent, law degree, a lot of credentials there,” he recalled when I spoke to him in December. “She has an excellent voice, and a lot of people overlook voice.” Best of all, he said, she reminded him of “the kids I hired here who go to SUNY and work two jobs and try to make it.”

* * * *

Every once in a while Kelly will replay clips from those early days for viewers, mostly to make fun of herself. “Watch the poise and confidence here,” she’ll joke. In her first segments for Hume’s show, “Special Report,” or on “The Fox Report” with Shepard Smith, she was stiff, serious, almost timid. The segments could just as easily have been on one of the broadcast networks: new trends in sentencing for nonviolent offenders, Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s thyroid treatment.

She began to draw attention beyond the Fox News universe in April 2006 with a series of reports on the “Duke lacrosse” case, in which a 27-year-old black woman accused three white members of the Duke University lacrosse team of sexually assaulting her at a party where she performed as a hired stripper. Most of the news coverage treated the case as a test of racial privilege and justice. Kelly took a decidedly different approach. Frequently citing “defense sources,” she was often first with an escalating series of stories that cast serious doubt on the accuser. Media critics on the left vilified her for her coverage, but the case eventually unraveled, and prosecutors dropped the charges.

Ailes was pleased with her early work but less so her presentation. “I brought her up and sat her down, and I said: ‘Megyn, you have to show vulnerability. You’re working so hard, as many people do when they come into the business, to prove they are worthy of the job. They’re terrified of mistakes and appear to be protecting themselves on the air.' ” Which was fine, so far as it went. But Ailes had a different view of television, and he encouraged Kelly to embrace it. “People expect to see a human being, a range of emotions,” he said.

Kelly developed that emotional range by pursuing a series of red-meat stories and allegations driven by the boiling anger of the Tea Party era: that Barack Obama was pursuing a “socialist-like agenda,” that the community-organizing group Acorn would rely on the likes of “child rapists” to help conduct the U.S. Census, that the Department of Justice was refusing to enforce laws against voter intimidation, at least when those doing the intimidating were black and their victims were white.

While all this was happening, Kelly got married (in 2008, to Doug Brunt, then an Internet entrepreneur) and got her own show (“America Live,” in 2010). In the spring of 2011, she and Brunt had their second child, Yardley. (They now have a third.) While Kelly was away on maternity leave, the conservative radio host Mike Gallagher lamented her absence during a radio chat with Kelly’s colleague Chris Wallace. Gallagher called her maternity leave “a racket,” as if it were some kind of work-avoidance scheme.

Robin Roberts, the ‘Good Morning America’ host, grabbed her by the arm and whispered in her ear, ‘I get you.’

He did not know it, but he was to become the target of what was arguably the inaugural Megyn moment. On Kelly’s first day back, in August, she invited Gallagher onto her show and proceeded to strafe him mercilessly. “The United States is the only advanced country that doesn’t require paid leave,” Kelly told him. “If anything, the United States is in the dark ages when it comes to maternity leave. And what is it about getting pregnant and carrying a baby nine months that you don’t think deserves a few months off so bonding and recovery can take place? Hmm?” When Gallagher asked whether men were entitled to the same time off, Kelly informed him that indeed they were. “It’s called the Family Medical Leave Act,” she said.

The moment did not go unnoticed. “Megyn Kelly Demolishes Mike Gallagher,” a Huffington Post headline cheered. Gawker called it a “feminist triumph.” Even the progressive group Media Matters for America, which closely monitors Fox, credited her performance. (Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” was not buying it and showed clips in which Kelly questioned the need for men to take long paternity leaves and criticized entitlements in general. In a later phone conversation, Kelly confronted Stewart, arguing that he had taken devil’s-advocate questions out of context to make them seem like her positions. “Typical Stewart,” she said. “He wouldn’t budge.”)

Then, a year later, came the Megyn moment that made her career, with Rove on election night 2012. She was the co-anchor with Bret Baier, the anchorman of “Special Report.” By 10 p.m. or so, as Republican hopes for the presidency were starting to dim, Rove was on the Fox News set insisting that Romney still had a chance. “Is this just the math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better or is it real?” Kelly snapped.

Rove would not back down. At 11:13 p.m., Fox declared Ohio, and thus the election, for Obama. Rove disputed the call, running through his own numbers from bellwether precincts. Kelly began laughing and deadpanned, “That’s awkward.”

Ailes was prepared, of course. Intentionally or not, Rove was speaking for a portion of the Fox News audience that found the result inconceivable, in part because many Fox News hosts and guests had questioned polls that predicted it. Fox producers had rehearsed a live walk to the “decision desk,” the conference room where Fox’s election analysts did their work, three days earlier. Around 11:30 p.m., with Rove still hanging on to hope, Ailes called the control room from home and told producers to send Kelly in.

Kelly’s command of the moment was total. She waved at producers, on-air colleagues and stagehands, goading her cameramen to “keep coming” and smiling broadly. And when she finally reached the decision desk, she had the numbers crunchers tick through all the reasons Rove, who once called himself the keeper of “the Math,” was wrong — totally, inexorably, hopelessly wrong.

The moment has been endlessly cited, in part because it was so freighted: Here was perhaps the most hated man in liberal America being humiliated on what should have been his home turf. And here was his beautiful and merciless tormentor, Megyn Kelly, confounding expectations about her network. After showing a replay of Kelly’s performance the following day, Stewart told his audience: “Did you see it? Did you record it? Did you TiVo it? Because you can play it backwards and forwards backwards and forwards all day long like I did today.” The Times media columnist David Carr wrote that Kelly had appeared to be “speaking for many of us,” and that, at least in this one confrontation, Fox News had “landed firmly on the side of journalism, the facts and a narrative based on reality as opposed to partisan fantasy.”

* * * *

A few days before the midterm election last November, Kelly was in her office thinking about wardrobe. Elections, even midterm elections, are major events for television news organizations. Eight different outfits were hanging on a rolling clothes rack beside her desk. “I don’t really like wearing royal blue or red because it’s so anchor-y,” she said as she picked through the rack. Kelly is aware that her clothing choices are sometimes parsed for ideological content. “Our critics are always like, ‘She wore red for Republicans.’ They don’t cover it when you wear blue.” She fell into a mock whisper, as if to indicate what they might say if they did: “ 'Oh, she’s a secret Democrat.' ” She raised both hands to her mouth, looked at me and mimed an expression of total horror.

As Kelly’s star has risen, so has the scrutiny. O’Reilly had warned her: “They’re going to come after you.” This has made the balancing act of her on-screen persona — between her maverick moments on the one hand, and her still-reliable taste for red-meat topics on the other — an increasingly delicate one. In December 2013, she became a figure of ridicule on “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” for asserting that Santa Claus, contrary to the claim of a tongue-in-cheek essay in Slate, was incontrovertibly Caucasian. (She said she was joking, too, and lamented the tendency of others to “race bait.”) And in October 2014, the NBC affiliate in Denver debunked her report that a new Colorado law would allow voters to print their own ballots and give them to “collectors,” raising the specter of voter fraud, a frequent subject of Fox News alarm. That turned out not to be the case. “We normally reserve our truth tests for political ads, but that claim is misleading,” the 9News co-anchor Kyle Clark told his viewers. (Kelly called the fallout on liberal blogs “a nothing burger,” though she later corrected the report.) Yet she drew far more attention in June for telling Dick Cheney, the former vice president, “Time and time again history has proved that you got it wrong in Iraq, sir.” Jon Stewart showed the clip on “The Daily Show” and even did a little happy dance at his desk.

Before the 10-hour election special began, Ailes gathered his entire news team in a large conference room. The exit-poll data was showing a big Republican night. Ailes gave his usual pep talk. “Be sure to maintain a conversational tone, a pleasant attitude and a good energy level on the air,” he said. “Audiences like real people. We built this network on that.”

As the coverage went live, there was an unmistakable air of giddiness in the studio. During an on-air visit to the anchor desk, the Fox Business anchor Neil Cavuto told Kelly and Baier that they looked as if they should be on a wedding cake. Kelly joked about the name of the Democratic candidate for governor in Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, by pretending to mistake him for the author Tom Wolfe. “He wrote all those great books, oh, wait!” she said, a joke perhaps more appropriate for egghead Manhattanites than for Fox News Independents. In the end, Kelly decided to wear a black skirt suit, a white blouse and gold-and-white stilettos. “Black is classic and you always want to be a little classic on election night, you know?”

For all the apparent predictability of the night, Fox News even managed to find some excitement. Ed Gillespie, the former Bush adviser and a close friend of Rove’s, was doing better than expected in his Virginia race against Mark Warner, the Democratic senator. “There’s a lot of drama yet to be had,” Kelly said. It was hard not to wonder whether the broadcast networks had made a bad decision that night in deciding to devote only an hour, starting at 10 p.m., to the national elections in which Senate control would flip. While the Virginia drama was playing out, NBC was showing the sitcom “About a Boy” and CBS was showing its crime drama “NCIS.” ABC was running a special about the 75th anniversary of Marvel Comics, which is owned by Disney, ABC’s own parent company, a dubious move that went largely unnoticed by media critics on election night.

Fox’s audience wound up being more than double those of CNN and MSNBC combined. And it beat all of the broadcast networks, including, for the first time, in the 25-to-54 demographic category. This may be because the networks have finally thrown in the towel. The Tyndall Report, which analyzes broadcast news coverage, reported that their 6:30 p.m. newscasts devoted less time to the midterm elections and domestic policy in 2014 than in any year since it started keeping track in 1990; the top story was “winter weather.” (Tyndall did credit CBS for significant coverage of Syria and Iraq.)

The drama around Gillespie’s possible upset went only so far; he did eventually lose. But the Republicans were otherwise rolling along. It even seemed as if Scott Brown, the former Massachusetts senator, a friend of Fox (as an occasional paid analyst), might pull off a squeaker in his bid to unseat Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. But it was not to be, the Fox decision desk ruled.

Brown’s campaign tried to argue that 25,000 outstanding votes could make the difference. Once again, it fell to Kelly to shut an intransigent Republican down. She got up from her desk and removed her earpiece. “You know the walk by now,” she said, looking into the camera. As she headed to the conference room for another explanation from the data crunchers, she told Rove over her shoulder: “Just be glad it’s not you this time.”

Sheepish, Rove, who was standing off set awaiting his next hit, started walking after her. “For once,” he said, “We’re following you.”

* * * *

A couple of days after the election, I met Kelly and her husband for breakfast at a French restaurant a few blocks from their apartment on the Upper West Side, which is not exactly Fox Nation. No one recognized her. On television she is all heavy black mascara, high-gloss lipstick and blown out blond hair. In person she goes with very little makeup, keeps her hair pinned back above her ears and dresses modestly: on this morning she wore an overlarge black T-shirt, black jeans, high Prada boots and a chunky crystal around her neck, the spiritual significance of which she swore not to know.

As on television, though, Kelly speaks in a jazz-improv progression of italics, all-caps and boldface. Her husband, Doug Brunt — eight months younger than Kelly at 43 — is youthful and soft-spoken, and he seems content to let Kelly keep the spotlight. He once ran an Internet security firm that helped corporations fend off hackers and system saboteurs, but he sold it, and now he’s pursuing his fantasy job of writing novels.

I wanted to know how Kelly and Brunt were getting used to her fame and, yes, mainstream acceptance. Brunt said the most stirring moment came in October, when Kelly was hosting her show from the oceanside in Dana Point, Calif., where she was attending Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women Summit. Unexpectedly, an enormous crowd began to gather. “It was one of those moments when you see how big it has become,” Brunt said.

What happened inside the conference, which was a gathering of the most powerful women in business, was no less extraordinary. Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, who wrote “Lean In,” was to interview Kelly on the main stage. Sandberg introduced Kellywith a clip from a celebrated Megyn moment from 2013, in which she challenged the conservative commentator Erick Erickson for saying that the national increase in female breadwinners ran counter to the biologically determined order. “Who died and made you scientist in chief?” Kelly asked him.

The conference hall erupted in cheers, and Sandberg herself, who worked in the Clinton administration before her hiring at Facebook, audibly whooped. “I saw that on TV,” she told the crowd, “and I just cold-called her and said ‘I love you, you are awesome.' ”

By then, Time magazine had already named Kelly as one of the 100 “most influential people in the world” for 2014. The only other television journalist to win the distinction was Charlie Rose, who invited her to lunch. (In an email to me, he complimented Kelly as “a savvy young woman who knows what she wants” and is “obviously doing something right.”) She got to sit next to Seth Meyers at the black-tie gala, and a few months later appeared on his show. She was also invited to host the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame awards at the Waldorf-Astoria with Bob Costas. Backstage, Robin Roberts, the “Good Morning America” host, grabbed her by the arm and whispered in her ear, “I get you.” NBC expressed interest in hiring her, as did CNN, which gave Ailes added incentive to award her a prime-time slot.

Of course, Brunt and Kelly know that acceptance only goes so far. When Kelly got her 9 p.m. show, Media Matters sounded an alarm, calling her “a much more pernicious purveyor of political propaganda” than other Fox News stars, with a unique ability to “pluck misinformation and imbue it with a veneer of legitimacy.” (She ignores Media Matters, she says: “They exist to destroy Fox News.”) Then there are those occasional New York dinner parties. “You’re talking about your life, and then they’ll be like, ‘How can you stand working at Fox News?' ” Kelly said while picking at a frittata. “And that’s not polite dinner conversation.”

Brunt confessed that, more recently, it got to him more than it got to her. “These days it doesn’t ruffle you,” he said to her. Either way, it’s all fodder for his novels. His latest, “The Means,” revolves around a young litigator, Samantha Davis, who decides she needs to change her life. She seeks a job at the hot cable-news network, UBS, and after a by-the-gut news executive is struck by her beauty and brains, gets her big chance. Under his gentle guidance — she does not require much — success follows. “America wants more,” her best friend says.

Readers looking for clues about Kelly’s true political leanings might find them in the book’s dramatic climax, in which Samantha uncovers a scandal that causes a Democratic president to lose his re-election bid. Evidence of right-wing bias? Not so fast: At the very end of the novel, it turns out that Samantha had been manipulated by a source, and that the story she broke was untrue. The Democrat was taken down unfairly. Samantha determines to clear his name. Now you wouldn’t know what to think.

Alone on the wall behind Roger Ailes’s desk in the Fox News headquarters is a rather grim oil painting, framed in gold, of a Revolutionary War-era warship tossed by an angry sea. Ailes bought it at an antique shop 30 years ago and has no idea who painted it. He saw it as “a ship headed into the wind alone, and I thought, That’s my life.” He seems to consider it part of his job to view things that way.

When I visited him in late December, he could hardly even pretend to be alone. Though the overall news audience was down for all of the cable networks, Fox was ending the year as the second-most-watched basic-cable network in prime time, up from third in 2013, and was the only cable-news network to see any audience growth during prime time. “This channel’s still growing,” Ailes told me. “You’re going to see over the next 10 years, this thing is going to grow even bigger.”

As for Kelly, Ailes said, she had a long way to go to become one of the truly great television news talents, a distinction he reserves for Walter Cronkite, Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters and, of course, Bill O’Reilly. But, he said, “we’ve been on the air for 18 years. She shows up, and in one year goes to No. 2 and close to No. 1. That is an astounding accomplishment. Before this is over, she may be bigger than anybody.”

Ailes said he hoped one day to outperform the broadcast-news divisions, a dream that might seem absurd, given that the networks still draw a normal, nonelection night audience of eight million viewers or more on a regular basis. But his plan to reach a broader audience seems to be working. In April, Joe Klein, the liberal-leaning columnist for Time,complained to an audience at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan about how television news is turning away from covering politics and government. “I miss being able to turn on a straight newscast,” he said. “And it turns out the only place you can go to get one at 6 o’clock at night is Fox.” Other Americans are reaching the same conclusion. Kelly beat the networks on election night, and now Bret Baier’s hourlong newscast at 6 p.m., “Special Report,” frequently beats the ABC or CBS newscasts in select markets, including Atlanta, St. Louis and even Baltimore, a Democratic stronghold.

“They used to laugh at us in the mainstream media,” Ailes said, “but we’re becoming the place most people go to get the truth.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/25/ma...ref=media&_r=0
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