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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.”
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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 (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.".......

I'm strictly OTA but can't overstate how potentially huge this thing is. This is potentially Napster for the satellite/ cable co industry unless they start to figure this out and I'm extremely leery as to what the final outcome will be once the dust settles. I know of at least 10 people that are salivating and will be cutting the cord once this service starts and that's not even considering word of mouth and the news blitz that'll encourage & push more people to try it out.

Maybe it's time I seriously consider one of those ridiculous long term ISP contract price lock guarantees.

Interesting times....
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TV Review
‘Ellen’s Design Challenge,’ eye-catching
New HGTV series focuses the cameras right where they belong
By Tom Conroy, Media Life Magazine - Jan. 26, 2015

Many viewers who watch “Project Runway” learn for the first time that they’re interested in fashion. This can be disconcerting for the average guy.

Although home furnishing isn’t quite as gender-identifying as fashion, many people who have no interest in that topic either could have their minds changed by HGTV’s new series “Ellen’s Design Challenge.” The six designers competing on the show create appealing pieces that are outside the average aesthetic comfort zone.

The show, by contrast, does nothing creative with the usual reality-competition template, but the subject matter and upbeat tone are sufficiently fresh to win over those who are sick of the sight of judging panels. A little celebrity input helps.

Premiering tonight at 9, “Ellen’s Design Challenge” is executive-produced by Ellen DeGeneres, who makes a brief, amusing appearance to explain the premise and the rules in the premiere episode. Appearing on a video screen, she tells the contestants, “Have fun. That’s the most important thing. Or fight, because that’s good television.”

DeGeneres pops up as well during the judges’ decision in the third episode, which was also provided for review.

The competitors are a mixed bag, ranging from Katie, a hip 25-year-old Brooklyn designer, to Tim, 44, a cowboy-hat-wearing Coloradan who owns a company called Western Heritage Designs, which makes furniture out of wood salvaged from old buildings.

After the contestants greet one another in their workspace — the show mercifully skips the usual scenes in which they new arrivals fight over sleeping arrangements — the host, Jay Montepare, tells them that DeGeneres has sent each of them a present, and six huge gift boxes are wheeled in.

It turns out that the boxes are empty. The contestants have to build a piece using only the materials that the boxes are made of: maple plywood, steel bars, Plexiglas and walnut.

Each contestant gets a telegenic carpenter as a partner. “Design Challenge” has a lower-than-usual amount of reality-show friction, but most of it occurs in brief tiffs between the partners.

The competitors are remarkably civil to one another. In the first episode, Tim helps a rival who otherwise might not have finished his project in the allotted three days. In the third episode, he allows a different rival to take a piece of lumber that he had his eye on.

The projects are varied: Carley, a blacksmith who owns a forge in Boone, N.C., makes sinuous table legs by twisting the steel bars. Gaspar, a Venezuelan immigrant who says he used to pick up day labor by waiting outside big-box hardware stores, builds an oddly proportioned armchair.

One of the judges, Amanda Dameron, the editor-in-chief of Dwell magazine, who serves as the usual mentor, asks Gaspar if his design is stable enough.

The coolest project is Tim’s campaign desk, modeled on the desks that military commanders would take into the field. It has a retractable seat and a drawer that doubles as a briefcase.

During the judging process, Amanda says she has no idea how Tim built the desk out of the materials provided. Unfortunately, neither do we. We only catch glimpses of the manufacture of the projects.

In the third episode, with only four candidates using up airtime, we see more building, so as the season progresses, this should be less of a problem.

In that episode, the contestants first choose a chair from the selection offered by an online furniture company that has a product-placement deal; then they have to build a dining-room table that goes with the chair. The results range from a gorgeous wood-and-steel topped table to a plaster-topped one that winds up looking like a cow.

Since the series downplays the up-close-and-personal stuff and the intercast fighting, we’re less interested in seeing who wins than in seeing what the designers will create each week.

The focus on creativity rather than conflict is actually what makes “Ellen’s Design Challenge” good television.
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TV Notes
SAG Awards TV: Hourlong Series Sweep Drama & Comedy Races, Netflix Rises, Viola Davis Scores Freshman Win
By Nellie Andreeva, - Jan. 27, 2015

What does a half-hour comedy series need to do to win a comedy SAG Award these days? That was the question posed by this year’s awards, which snubbed what had been considered comedies for decades in favor of genre-bending hourlong series that straddle the worlds of drama and comedy. The three comedy series SAG Awards went to Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black (best ensemble, actress Uzo Aduba) and Showtime’s Shameless (actor William H. Macy).

These were the first SAG Awards nominations for the two shows in their first season competing as comedy series. Netflix and Showtime made the controversial category switch last spring, going into the Emmy Awards. For Shameless, it came after the series competed as a drama for the first three seasons to very little awards attention. For Orange, the change was made after a run as a drama yielded only a Golden Globe nom.

The completed domination of the comedy field by drama series with comedy elements tonight will likely reignite the debate whether the TV Academy needs to better redefine the comedy category.

Among the actors in half-hour comedies that lost out to Macy tonight was Jim Parsons, still in search of his first SAG Award. It is a head-scratcher — the Big Bang Theory star has now won four Emmys for his showy role on the biggest show on television but is yet to get a recognition from his peers.

And Orange ended Modern Family‘s four-year streak as best comedy ensemble as the acclaimed ABC comedy was left empty-handed.

A big leap for Netflix, from three nominations last year to three wins tonight to top the network list — two for Orange and one for House Of Cards (drama actor Kevin Spacey).

HBO was second, taking home both long-form categories, for Mark Ruffalo (The Normal Heart) and Frances McDormand (Olive Kitteridge). It was a first award for both for their HBO movies. For Ruffalo, it came at the very end of The Normal Heart‘s awards cycle, so this makes up for previous snubs, while Olive Kitteridge is yet to compete at the Emmys.

The drama winners were all over the place. With no big frontrunner like last year’s Breaking Bad, the actors guild went with old favorite — 2013 winner Downton Abbey repeating as best ensemble — and a newcomer — How To Get Away With Murder‘s Viola Davis.

While the SAGs failed to nominate three first-year shows that triumphed at the Golden Globes, Amazon’s Transparent, Showtime’s The Affair and the CW’s Jane The Virgin, they still awarded a freshman in HTGAWM‘s Davis in her first major recognition for the twisty murder mystery.

On a night where there were no black nominees on the film side, it was nice to see Davis, Aduba and the diverse cast of Orange onstage, a recognition of the fact that television offers more, flashier, award-worthy roles for minority actors right now.

HTGAWM and Downton Abbey held the flag for broadcast TV, which was shut out until the very last two categories.

It’s hard to believe but HBO’s True Detective ended its awards run without a single major acting nod for its A-list leading duo of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. Did they split the vote by competing against each other in every race? In their final ceremony for the broody HBO cop show, they saw the drama actor SAG Award go to House Of Cards‘ Spacey, his first for the Netflix political drama.
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TV Review
‘Arthur: Fountain Abbey’
PBS Kids' lovable animated aardvark has fun with the upstairs/downstairs theme of 'Downton Abbey'
By David Hinckley, New York Daily News - Jan. 26, 2014

PBS has found a charming way to cross-promote “Downton Abbey” to a demographic that goes to bed long before “Downton” hits the air.

Monday’s new episode of “Arthur,” a PBS Kids show that stars an aardvark, is called “Fountain Abbey,” gently playing off the stately mansion and the sometimes less-than-stately characters who inhabit it.

In this episode, Arthur’s friend Muffy learns her great-great-grandmother lived at Fountain Abbey, an old British estate that looks exactly like Highclere Castle, the setting of “Downton Abbey.”

Muffy assumes this makes her a princess and begins treating her family and friends in ways that the haughtiest of “Downton” dowagers would never consider.

It’s hilarious, particularly because it doesn’t last long enough to wear out the jokes. Like most shows for young kids, “Arthur” only runs 10-15 minutes per story — a cue you often wish some prime-time shows would take.

In any case, Muffy’s balloon deflates quickly when she finds a diary and realizes her great-great-grandmother was a maid.

But wait! Her friends keep reading and they discover the truth is somewhere between princess and maid, with an ending that cheers Muffy right up.

You didn’t really expect a depressing ending, did you?

The trappings of the show may not mean that much to kids who haven’t seen the original, but they’re fun for grownups who have.

The setup shots, the re-creation of the rooms, the music, the characters and the tone are clearly the work of fans.

“Arthur” has tackled adult turf before, with parodies on “The Sopranos,” “Oprah,” “Law & Order” and other shows. Like those, this will amuse adults while not puzzling “Arthur” fans. Too much.

'Arthur: Fountain Abbey'
Network/Air Date: Monday at 12:30 p.m., Ch. 21 (Check Local Listings)
Rating: ★★★ (out of five)
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TV Notes
Thirty Years of Thundercats: Five Things You Don't Know About the Cartoon
By Chris Barnes, - Jan. 23, 2015

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the ThunderCats television show debuting on television. Along with He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, G.I. Joe and The Transformers, the series and its accompanying toy line were popular with boys (and their cool sisters) who grew up in the 1980s.

From first sight (or as ThunderCats leader Lion-O would say, "sight beyond sight") I was hooked. The series' premise is ridiculously simple: A small group of survivors from the dead planet Thundera arrive onto the planet Third Earth. From there they encounter all kinds of new characters: the cute robot-bears the Berbils, the enigmatic galactic samurai Hachiman and the evil mummy Mumm-Ra, who would become the lead villain of the series.

And I know that I wasn't the only one. Thirty years later we still see people wearing clothes with art from the series. Family Guy has made countless references to the show. Nelly and Diddy even rap about the show in the song "Shake Ya Tailfeather."

So for today, take a few minutes out of your day to scream the ThunderCats' battle cry "ThunderCats ho!" and watch clips of their long-suffering and somewhat annoying friend Snarf as a way to remember your childhood. Here are five things that we learned about the ThunderCats.

The ThunderCats are related to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: In a weird kind of way, this is true. The original concept of ThunderCats -- cat-like people -- was created by Ted Wolf back in 1981. This idea was then pitched to the television production company Rankin-Bass (who brought us Rudolph and Frosty the Snow Man, among other classic holiday television specials) for development into the cartoon show that we wound up seeing. Several people were involved in shaping the property, including designer Mike Germakian, who came up with the logo and many of the character designs, and cartoonist Leondard Starr who is responsible for writing several key episodes and the series bible, which explains the characters, their world and everything in it. You can actually view the original press kit here.

The show featured a visually impaired hero: In 1986 the character of Lynx-O was introduced to the world of ThunderCats. What made him unique wasn't the fact that he was another feline hero but the fact that he was blind. According to the television show, he lost his sight in a fiery accident, but that didn't stop him. Lynx-O was portrayed as being not only one of the wiser Thundercats but one of the better combatants. He also introduced children of the 1980s to the Braille writing system; the characters used something called a "braille board" to not only read and use computers but pilot the flying ThunderStrike vehicle.

That voice sounds familiar: If you ever wondered if the character voices on ThunderCats sounded similar, you were right. Led by Larry Kenney (the voice of Lion-O), the voice acting throughout the series was handled pretty much by eight different actors. Earle Hyman, who voiced the gruff weapons master Panthro, was an extremely busy actor in the 1980s, also playing the Emmy Award-nominated role of the grandfather Russell Huxtable on The Cosby Show.

Are the toys worth anything? Simply put, yes. As the ThunderCats are still popular, the toy line is in high demand with collectors. One of the rarest figures include the Thunder Wings Lion-O, which recently sold for $710.

ThunderCats spin-off: Thanks to the success of the series, Rankin-Bass produced two similar cartoon shows: SilverHawks, a team of space-dwelling cyborgs who fight a crime ring in outer space, and TigerSharks, amphibious heroes who protect the planet Water-O. Neither was a direct spin-off of ThunderCats, but they were animated in the same style and had many of the same writers as well as voice actors.

In 2011 there was a darker remake of the ThunderCats on Cartoon Network that acknowledged that the characters of both TigerSharks and SilverHawks exist in the same universe as the ThunderCats. As for the relaunch, it lasted for one season before being cancelled along with its accompanying toy line.
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TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
MONDAY Network Primetime/Late Night Options
(All shows are in HD unless noted; start times are ET. Network late night shows are preceded by late local news)

8PM - The Bachelor (120 min.)
10:01PM - Castle
(R - Oct. 13)
* * * *
11:35PM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Channing Tatum; NFL player J.J. Watt; ZZ Top performs)
12:37AM - Nightline

8PM - Super Bowl's Greatest Commercials 2015
9PM - Scorpion
(R - Nov. 3)
9:59PM - NCIS: Los Angeles
(R - Oct. 13)
* * * *
11:35AM - Late Show with David Letterman (Louis CK; The Lone Bellow performs)
12:37AM - The Late Late Show (Regis Philbin guest hosts; Martin Short; Susan Sarandon; Alan Alda; Tony Danza)

8PM - The Celebrity Apprentice (120 min.)
10PM - State of Affairs
* * * *
11:34PM - The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (Bradley Cooper; singer Harry Connick Jr.; Big K.R.I.T. performs with Raphael Saadiq and The Roots)
(R - Jan. 5)
12:36AM - Late Night with Seth Meyers (Jessica Lange; Molly Sims; TV hosts Men in Blazers; Maya Rudolph sits in with the band)
(R - Jan. 6)
1:37AM - Last Call with Carson Daly (Megan Boone; alternative band Self; podcast Who Charted)
(R - Sep. 24)

8PM - Gotham
9PM - Sleepy Hollow

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Antiques Roadshow: Austin
9PM - Antiques Roadshow: San Jose
(R - May 24, 2010)
10PM - Independent Lens: A Path Appears (Part 1 of 3, 90 min.)

8PM - Mi Corazón Es Tuyo
9PM - Hasta El Fin del Mundo
10PM - Que te Perdone Dios... Yo No

8PM - The Originals
9PM - Jane The Virgin

8PM - Los Miserables
9PM - Tierra de Reyes
10PM - Dueños del Paraíso

11PM - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro)
11:31PM - The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore
12:01AM - At Midnight (Ken Marino; John Gemberling; Tymberlee Hill)

11PM - Conan (Ellar Coltrane; Jukebox the Ghost performs)

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Originally Posted by Chere View Post
I'm strictly OTA but can't overstate how potentially huge this thing is. This is potentially Napster for the satellite/ cable co industry unless they start to figure this out and I'm extremely leery as to what the final outcome will be once the dust settles. I know of at least 10 people that are salivating and will be cutting the cord once this service starts and that's not even considering word of mouth and the news blitz that'll encourage & push more people to try it out.

Maybe it's time I seriously consider one of those ridiculous long term ISP contract price lock guarantees.

Interesting times....
This is a step in the right direction. After spending the last eight years without Pay-TV (And blabbing about it) I'm resting my case. I have some good news and some bad news to report. The good news is I'm actually considering to jump on this bandwagon, since I'll have access to the ESPN Channels along with HGTV. (I only watch the latter once a year (January 1) because they televise the Tournament of Roses Parade WITHOUT COMMERCIALS!)

Now the bad news, I'll have to wait until Spring to subscribe, because this past October my Lawnmower died, and I'm currently saving up for a new one.

PS, if I subscribe I'll once again have to contend with commercials, but I can hook my computer to my TV set, and my RC has a 'Mute" switch!

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TV Notes
Sling TV looks to liven up streaming video party
By Mike Snider, USA Today - Jan. 26, 2015

Sling TV is ready to hit the "On" button.

The Internet-delivered subscription video service from satellite TV provider Dish Network will begin official operations Tuesday. The first invites start going out at 12 a.m. ET Tuesday to customers who preregistered on

Everyone else has to wait, but they will get a free one-week trial when the service opens to all customers within the next two weeks. Consumers who don't have one of the supported Net TV devices such as an Amazon Fire or Roku device can sign up on to order a device as part of a subscription package (prices to be announced).

Sling TV is an important advance in the streaming Net TV marketplace because wraps up some popular live, linear feeds of basic cable channels such as ESPN and CNN that previously were not available outside of traditional pay-TV packages. Most live streaming sports and news apps require viewers to enter passwords from their pay-TV accounts to authenticate that they pay for at-home service.

Another differentiator for Sling TV is that you pay on a month-to-month basis ($20 monthly for the basic lineup). Pay-TV subscriptions often require long-term contracts of up to two years.

Those long commitments and the growing cost of pay TV has led some younger consumers to shy away from pay TV -- and some long-time pay-TV subscribers to "cut the cord" and rely on growing Net TV video offerings as their viewing source.

For those unfamiliar with Net TV, the most popular streaming subscription services such as Netflix and Amazon Instant Video offer mostly on-demand TV episodes and movies that don't become available until after a network TV series season runs its course. Hulu Plus, while it makes episodes available after airing from ABC, NBC and Fox and other channels, is far from all-inclusive.

I've been exploring Sling TV over the last few days as one of many journalists and reviewers that Sling TV let have early access to the service.

Sling TV is easy to use. For starters, you need a robust broadband internet connection -- Netflix recommends 5 megabits per second for HD quality.

You download the Sling TV app onto your device whether it's an Android or iOS tablet or a Net TV device such as an Amazon Fire or Roku device connected to your TV or Xbox One video game system. Some smart TVs from LG and Samsung also will have the app.

For early testers such as myself, Sling TV supplied a Roku 3 device to download the app. I connected the Roku 3 to my home Internet service – it works wirelessly but I connected via Ethernet to my home powerline Internet network – and, with an HDMI cable to my TV.

After updating my Roku software, the Sling TV channel app appeared and I selected it and was perusing its offerings in minutes.

Sling TV's interface is very intuitive and easy to surf. Scroll left and right to check the channel lineup. In this case, the 12 basic channels and several additional ones such as Disney XD and Cooking Channel that are part of the kids and news & info extra programming packages ($5 each monthly). An as-yet-unannounced sports extra package will include additional ESPN channels beyond ESPN 2, which is part of the standard Sling TV lineup.

As you highlight a channel, upcoming programs are shown and past episodes, if available, appear, too. For instance, the Food Network had more than a dozen on-demand episodes of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives among programs that had aired in the last three days. Similarly, Travel Channel had recent episodes of shows including Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and Booze Traveler.

Sling TV plans to expand its on-demand catalog, and there's movie rentals for titles such as Guardians of the Galaxy, Jimi: All Is By My Side and Humbling (prices rung about $5-$8 for HD quality).

The video quality on CNN and ESPN doesn't match the quality I get on Verizon FiOS TV, but it is certainly watchable.

A nit: you cannot pause video on some channels including CNN and ESPN (I assume that could be added to all channels eventually.)

But for consumers looking to downsize their pay-TV bill -- and want to keep tabs on live sports and news -- Sling TV could serve as the foundation for a solid and sensible streaming alternative to today's cable and satellite mega-bundles.
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They should move cause new years eve is a terrible day for those games.

ESPN, NFL lobby for changes in College Football Playoff calendar
By John Ourand & Michael Smith, Staff Writers
Published January 26, 2015

The College Football Playoff is under pressure on two fronts to adjust future schedules for its semifinals and championship games, sources say, but the CFP is standing firm on its original dates.

On one of those fronts, top ESPN executives are lobbying CFP officials to move next season’s semifinals off of New Year’s Eve where it would compete with highly rated star-filled countdown shows on several networks.

Next season’s semifinals at the Capital One Orange Bowl and the Goodyear Cotton Bowl are scheduled for Dec. 31 but ESPN is pushing the CFP to move those games to Jan. 2, 2016, a Saturday with relatively little competition on TV. The NFL’s regular season concludes that Sunday, Jan. 3, and the league hasn’t had a Saturday game during the final week of its regular season since 2007.

Sources say that senior network executives as high up as ESPN President John Skipper are pushing for the change as a way to get better television ratings, but the CFP is unwilling to make such a move because it is committed to the original plan to hold tripleheader bowl games, including the semifinals, on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

“We’ve started a new tradition and we don’t want to back away from it now,” said Bill Hancock, the CFP’s executive director.

Meanwhile, the CFP is facing pressure on another front. The NFL is considering expanding its playoffs and moving one of the new games to Monday night when it would compete directly with the CFP championship.

Sources say NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell initiated a series of high-level meetings with some of the CFP’s most influential commissioners, including the SEC’s Mike Slive and the Big Ten’s Jim Delany. Goodell approached the commissioners to discuss the potential impact an NFL playoff expansion would have on the CFP championship game.

The 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick make up the management council that oversees the College Football Playoff.

If the NFL ends up expanding the number of teams that make its postseason, the league would need two more TV windows to account for the new games. In separate meetings, Goodell told the college commissioners that any playoff expansion likely would put a wild-card game on Monday night, sources said.

The CFP’s 12-year contract with ESPN calls for the title game to be played on a Monday night, typically the second Monday in January. The last three BCS championship games also were played on those Monday nights in January, dating to 2011. Similarly, college basketball’s men’s championship game is played on a Monday night in April.

Hancock said his office has voiced its opposition to putting an NFL playoff game against the CFP championship on Monday night.

“We picked Monday night because it was open and it was the best night for our game. We announced that in June 2012,” Hancock said. “We established that our game was going to be on Monday night for 12 years.”

A Monday night wild-card playoff game would run up against the CFP championship game for at least another two years. Later this year, the CFP will finalize championship sites beyond 2017, and Hancock said they are committed to holding the championship games on Monday nights, as outlined in its contract with ESPN.

Just last week, Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney II told The Associated Press that it does not appear likely the playoffs would expand next season. But league officials have been wanting to add at least two teams to the playoffs for several years, and sources say a plan still could be worked out.

In the middle of the dispute is broadcaster ESPN, which owns rights to both the CFP and the NFL’s regular-season “Monday Night Football” series.

ESPN’s CFP contract mandates that the games are carried on ESPN — not ESPN2 or ESPNU, sources say. Plus, cable sources say that some of ESPN’s affiliate deals contain language that would prohibit the network from putting either the CFP championship or an NFL playoff game on ABC.

The NFL almost certainly would not allow one of its playoff games to move to ESPN2.

Still, the NFL could sell a Monday night playoff game to another network. A media industry source suggested that the NFL could look into packaging the new wild-card playoff games with its “Thursday Night Football” package beginning with the 2016 season. CBS last week signed a deal to keep that package for 2015.

“If it comes down to this, the fans would be the losers if they had to choose,” Hancock said. “That would be a shame.”

Whether the NFL expands its postseason and puts a playoff game opposite the CFP championship remains to be seen, but the CFP is holding its ground against the idea of moving its semifinals to Jan. 2 next season.

The move to Jan. 2 is attractive to ESPN because that Saturday is relatively free of big events, limiting the amount of competition the college games would face. Sources said ESPN is lobbying for the CFP to make the move only for the coming season.

“The timing works out for us next year,” said one source with direct knowledge of the talks.

The CFP semifinals on New Year’s Day already proved their ability to attract viewers. The semifinals — played at the Allstate Sugar Bowl and the Rose Bowl presented by Northwestern Mutual — each drew more than 28 million viewers. At the time, they were the two most-viewed programs in cable TV history.

The CFP championship game on Jan. 12 averaged 33.4 million viewers, becoming the first show in cable TV history to top 30 million viewers. Privately, ESPN insiders say they are prepared for double-digit drops in viewership if the semifinals remain on New Year’s Eve.

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TV Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, - Jan. 26, 2015

Fox, 8:00 p.m. ET

The future Commissioner Gordon and the future Penguin won’t have many chances for amiable sit-downs in years to come – but in tonight’s episode, during an hour that finds Fish Mooney in grave, if well-deserved, danger, they do precisely that.

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Luis Buñuel directed this 1967 film, which, like most of his movies throughout a long and influential career, contains images not quickly to be forgotten. But this time, most of the images surround Catherine Deneuve, the actress caught here at her most beautiful – but caught, also, as a character whose marriage is so unfulfilling that she decides to pursue a side career as a daytime prostitute. Buñuel shows her fantasies as well as her new realities, and there’s something disturbing about all of it.

The CW, 9:00PM

Guess who’s coming to dinner? In tonight’s new episode, Jane (Gina Rodriguez) brings the biological father of her child home to meet the family – which, given the genesis of this particular pregnancy, makes for some very chilly conversation.

HBO, 9:00 p.m. ET

Near the end of WWII, Sidney Bernstein of the British government’s Ministry of Information was given the task of assembling a film from footage shot by his cameramen, and footage from other sources and countries as well, that would document the Nazi concentration camp atrocities. After the war, Alfred Hitchcock offered his help in both the content and construction of the film, but the film – German Concentration Camps Factual Survey – was neither fully completed nor distributed and widely shown. Yet its invaluable footage played a key part in the subsequent war crimes trials, and an incomplete version, missing the final reel, was restored and shown in the 1980s. But now, a new assemblage of what would have been the sixth and final reel, based on the filmmakers’ original notes, has been completed – and Night Will Fall is the story of this film footage’s 70-year-old journey. It’s tough to watch, but very important, and also includes some stunning color film of the camps, shot by U.S. Army cameramen in 1945.

PBS, 10:00 p.m. ET
A Path Appears is a three-part documentary series which looks at tough problems, but also profiles and offers potential solutions, using empathic celebrities, and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, as attention-getting guides. Tonight’s Part 1 looks at sex trafficking – but, quite pointedly, focuses on the United States, looking at the problem, and how to combat it, in Boston, Nashville, and Chicago. It’s very heartening – and, quite often, remarkably honest. Check local listings.
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SUNDAY'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)
NBC’s Miss Universe surges on new night
Pageant averages a 2.0 in 18-49s, top show on a very slow night
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - Jan. 26, 2015

It’s remarkable how much better a special can do when it moves from low-rated Saturday to Sunday.

NBC’s Miss Universe pageant posted its best rating since 2009 last night, averaging a 2.0 adults 18-49 rating from 8 to 11 p.m., according to Nielsen overnights.

That was more than double the 0.9 the special posted in its last outing, in November 2013, when it aired on a Saturday evening.

With 7.6 million total viewers, it was the most-watched Miss Universe since 2006.

Against minimal competition on the other broadcast networks, NBC finished as the No. 1 broadcast network Sunday.

Meanwhile, Fox’s comedy lineup struggled without any NFL boost. “The Simpsons” (1.4) and “Family Guy” (1.6) both fell to season lows, and all the network’s shows were off by at least 20 percent.

ABC’s “Galavant” was up week to week by 22 percent for its final back-to-back episodes, drawing a 1.2 and 1.0 at 8 p.m. (Note: An earlier version of this story said “Galavant” slid to series lows. That was incorrect.)

And at 10 p.m., “Revenge” managed a mere 0.9.

NBC was first for the night among 18-49s with a 1.8 average overnight rating and a 5 share. CBS was second at 1.3/4, ABC third at 1.2/3, Fox fourth at 1.1/3, Univision fifth at 0.9/3, and Telemundo sixth at 0.7/2.

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

ABC started the night in the lead with a 1.7 at 7 p.m. for “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” followed by NBC with a 1.2 for “Dateline.” CBS was third with a 1.1 for “60 Minutes.” Univision and Telemundo tied for fourth at 0.6, Univision for “Aqui y Ahora” and Telemundo for “Camino a la Corona.” Fox was sixth with a 0.5 for “Mulaney” (0.4) and a repeat of “Simpsons” (0.7).

At 8 p.m. NBC took the lead with a 1.7 for the first hour of Miss Universe, while CBS moved to second with a 1.5 for “Undercover Boss.” Fox was third with a 1.3 for a new “Simpsons” (1.4) and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (1.2), ABC and Univision tied for fourth at 1.1, ABC for “Galavant” and Univision for “Nuestra Belleza Latina,” and Telemundo was sixth with a 0.8 for its coverage of “Miss Universe.”

NBC was first again at 9 p.m. with a 2.0 for Miss Universe, with Fox second with a 1.4 for “Guy” (1.6) and “Bob’s Burgers” (1.2). Univision was third with a 1.3 for more “Latina,” CBS fourth with a 1.2 for a special episode of “CSI,” which tied a series low. ABC placed fifth with a 1.0 for “Resurrection,” and Telemundo sixth with a 0.8 for “Miss Universe.”

At 10 p.m. NBC led with a 2.3 for “Miss Universe,” followed by CBS with a 1.3 for more “CSI.” ABC was third with a 0.9 for “Revenge,” Telemundo fourth with a 0.8 for “Miss Universe” and Univision fifth with a 0.7 for “Sal y Pimienta.”

CBS finished first for the night among households with a 5.4 average overnight rating and a 9 share. NBC was second at 4.5/7, ABC third at 2.8/4, Fox fourth at 1.4/2, Univision fifth at 1.2/2, and Telemundo sixth at 1.0/2.

* * * *

TV Notes
So it begins, week of the Super Bowl
It's all anyone will talk about, including on CBS's special
By Louisa Ada Seltzer, Media Life Magazine - Jan. 26, 2015

This week is going to be all about the Super Bowl.

Not a fan? Too bad. It’s best to resign yourself to it and embrace it.

A good way to start is with tonight’s annual CBS special “Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials,” airing at 8 p.m. and hosted by Boomer Esiason and Katharine McPhee.

The show is exactly what it sounds like, a compilation of the best Super Bowl ads to ever air. This year the network has put a new twist on the idea.

It has divided the best ads into two groups, old school and new school, and invited viewers to vote for their favorite ads.

The choices include old school classics such as Apple’s 1984 ad and Coke’s Mean Joe Greene, as well as new school ones such as Doritos’ Sling Baby and Volkswagen’s The Force, the most-shared Super Bowl ad of all time.

Does the ultimate winner really matter?

No. The fun is in revisiting all the ads again and in building anticipation for this year’s Super Bowl ads, which will air during Sunday’s game on NBC.

The special should draw decent numbers.

Last year it aired on a Wednesday, against Fox’s “American Idol,” and averaged a 1.9 adults 18-49 rating. It won’t face anything stronger than “Idol” tonight.
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TV Notes
Super Bowl: Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Ariana Grande Headline ‘Tonight Show’s Post-Game Special
By The Team - Jan. 26, 2015

Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart and Ariana Grande will be guests on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’s post-Super Bowl telecast this Sunday, from the Orpheum Theater in Phoenix. Grande is set to perform with Tonight Show house band The Roots; Ferrell and Hart are scheduled to go up against Fallon in the ultimate Lip Sync Battle.

Depending on the game, Fallon’s special runs the chance of airing on February 2 in some time zones, given that it’s going to air live coast-to-coast following NBC’s broadcast of Super Bowl XLIX between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, an original episode of The Blacklist, and the NBC stations’ late local news.

Next week, Monday through Thursday, Tonight will broadcast from Universal Studios Hollywood, in Los Angeles. This trip marks Tonight’s first visit to Los Angeles since pulling up roots and moving back east to 30 Rockefeller Plaza’s studio 6B in New York.

Guests for the Los Angeles shows include Michael Keaton and Gwen Stefani (February 2); Ellen DeGeneres, Neil Young and former Tonight Show bandleader Doc Severinsen sitting in with The Roots (February 3); Vin Diesel and Carl Reiner (February 4); Will Smith, Rosamund Pike and Jack White (February 5).
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Nielsen Notes
Ratings Revamped: Which Network Is Tops in Scripted TV?
By Tony Maglio, - Jan. 26, 2015

Who needs football? Well, NBC for starters — and also Fox and CBS, albeit to somewhat lesser degrees.

TheWrap re-ran network TV ratings to include primetime scripted series only — so, omitting sports, specials and reality series — to see who owns the written word on the small screen. As it turns out, the pared-down way of looking at most current (where available) Nielsen numbers jumps ABC from third to first place among the Big 4 networks.

Both originals and repeats were included in this report, which accounted for data from the 2014-2015 season shows through Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015.

The results of our study shows ABC leading runner-up CBS by 13 percent, with an average rating/share of 2.7/8 against the lower 2.4/7 in the advertiser-sought 18-49 demographic.

Sans football, “The Voice” and “Peter Pan Live” — among other unqualified-in-this-scenario broadcasts — NBC settled for third with a 2.1/6.

Fox finished in fourth place with a 1.9/6.

Ordinarily, not withholding any kind of programming, the nets lineup in the following order for the season: NBC (2.6/8), CBS (2.5/8), ABC (2.1/7) and Fox (2.1/6).

So, clearly, ABC sees the best jump when looking solely at scripted programming. Meanwhile, NBC drops the most — a full half of a ratings point, falling to third place.

CBS slips just one-tenth of a Nielsen point, staying in second place. Fox dips two-tenths of a point, going from a third-place tie to sole possession of fourth.

Another way of touting the ABC strength is to point out that its six scripted series in the Top 15 are the most for any net — and it has a little room to spare after hitting that total. (Technically, it’s sixth, “Black-ish,” clocks in at a two-way tie for 13th with CBS’s “Scorpion.”)

“Modern Family” is No. 2 (behind “The Big Bang Theory”), “Scandal” is third (the top-rated drama), “Grey’s Anatomy” comes in sixth, “Once Upon a Time” is at No. 9. Plus, newcomer “How to Get Away With Murder” clocks in at No. 11, and “Black-ish” at the aforementioned No. 13.

Unfortunately for ABC, this is not how ratings are traditionally measured, but it’d be nice for them if it was.
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TV/Critics' Notes
Snowed In? Here’s What to Watch; Read; or Listen To.
By The New York Times Arts Beat Staff - Jan. 26, 2015

It’s too cold to go out. Your remote is working, but forget flipping though the channels: let us guide you. Your stereo is searching for something better than what you’re listening to now? You need a new book? We hear you. Here are our recommendations for what’s streaming on TV, what should be rocking your apartment and great reads to curl up with.

By Mike Hale, Neil Genzlinger, Kathryn Shattuck and Kaly Soto

You want to be a detective:

Long before David Tennant in “Broadchurch” or Matthew McConaughey in “True Detective,” Robbie Coltrane was perfecting the damaged crime solver as the criminal psychologist Fitz Fitzgerald in this mid-1990s British series. All 25 episodes are available at Acorn TV and Amazon.

THE FALL The second season of this dark British crime drama, set in Northern Ireland and starring Gillian Anderson, recently went up exclusively on Netflix. The two seasons represent a perfect one-day, 11-episode binge.

THE KILLING The first three seasons of this Scandinavian-esque thriller, formerly broadcast on AMC, followed the detectives Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) into the underbelly of murky Seattle. The fourth and final season finds the detectives writhing amid the fallout from their reckless behavior at the end of the last case and ready to dive into a new one: the massacre of a picture-perfect family survived only by a son, who was shot in the head. Joan Allen portrays Col. Margaret Rayne, the headmistress of an all-boys military academy. (

THE X-FILES Scully and Mulder may be getting ready to reunite, so catch up on this classic 1990s series. The crimes are mostly of the fashion and supernatural sort. You know you want to believe. ( and amazon instant video)

TWIN PEAKS If you’ve never seen David Lynch and Mark Frost’s truly groundbreaking 1990 mystery series, watch it now before the new third season (directed by Mr. Lynch) arrives on Showtime. All 30 episodes of the first two seasons are at and various streaming sites; if you’re pressed for time, just watch the first 15.

You Want to Lose Yourself for a Few Hours:

Now’s the time to catch up on what’s looking like the season’s best new network television show, while it’s still only three hours old. Lee Daniels and Danny Strong’s music-industry melodrama, featuring the wonderful Taraji P. Henson, is available at, streaming sites and on-demand from your cable provider.

SELFIE A comedy about online fame that was boldly, or bizarrely, modeled on “My Fair Lady,” it wasn’t last fall’s worst new show but it was one of the first to be canceled. All 13 episodes, including six that weren’t broadcast, are available at and Hulu.

THE GILMORE GIRLS: Will Lorelai ever find true love? Will Rory ever work for The New York Times? You might not be out on the road, but you very well might be lonely and so cold. So grab some Pop-Tarts and hang out in Stars Hollow for a while.

SILENT BROKELYN This won’t eat up a lot of time, and it’s dramatic value is debatable, but it’s definitely new: a silent-movie-style series playing out in Chaplinesque 15-second Instagram videos, complete with antique-looking title cards. Twenty episodes have been posted.

GORTIMER GIBBON’S LIFE ON NORMAL STREET Amid all the fuss over “Transparent” and its Golden Globe, this quiet, charming show, Amazon’s first live-action series for children, hasn’t received the attention it deserves. Six episodes are up at Amazon Instant Video.

BIRTH OF A BEAUTY Picking a Korean soap opera is like casting your line into the vastness of the Pacific, but this recently concluded stemwinder — a Cinderella story about an overweight wife who comes back from the dead with a full-body makeover to gain revenge on her husband’s family — is a good introduction to the genre and the country. All 21 episodes are on DramaFever and other streaming sites.

TBS This network is always good for some storm-day rerun comfort food; its daytime lineup for Tuesday includes blocks of “American Dad,” “The King of Queens” and “Friends.” Among the “Friends” episodes on the schedule, at 4 p.m., is one from Season 3 called “The One Without the Ski Trip,” in which Lisa Kudrow’s character, Phoebe, gives some advice to the just-split-up Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) and Ross (David Schwimmer) that might be useful to any snowbound household full of restless children or cranky adults or both. “You don’t have to love each other,” she says. “You don’t even have to like each other much right now. But please — you have to figure out a way to be around each other.”

HOARDING: BURIED ALIVE What better storm-day viewing than a show subtitled “Buried Alive”? The burial here isn’t by precipitation, however. The show in question is TLC’s “Hoarding: Buried Alive,” a somewhat lurid look at that compulsion. Actually, maybe this is a show you specifically DON’T want to watch when snowed in. The episode scheduled for Tuesday at 10 a.m. is a repeat called “The Stench Is Amazing.”

You’re Looking for a Classic:

This five-film tribute to Buñuel (1900-1983), called the father of Surrealists cinema, begins with “Belle de Jour” (1968), starring Catherine Deneuve as a frigid young housewife able to achieve sexual satisfaction only after becoming a prostitute. Then moves into “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” (1972), an Oscar-winner for best foreign film, six upwardly mobile friends try to have dinner together — but find they can’t. The lineup continues with “Diary of a Chambermaid” (1964), an adaptation of the novel by Octave Mirbeau about the foibles and hypocrisy of the landed gentry as seen through the eyes of a worldly domestic (Jeanne Moreau); “Viridiana” (1962), in which a young nun (Silvia Pinal) tries to help the poor after inheriting a fortune; and “The Exterminating Angel” (1962), where guests at a lavish dinner party in an elegant home in Mexico City find themselves unable to leave the parlor for several days, during which the social order begins to break down. Begins Monday at 8 p.m. on TCM.

You’re a History Buff:

In spring 1939 Gilbert Kraus, a lawyer in Philadelphia, bid farewell to his wife, Eleanor, and their son and daughter and set sail for Nazi Germany. His plan: to save 50 Jewish children on the eve of the Holocaust by bringing them back home for safekeeping — the largest kindertransport to the United States. Tuesday at 11 a.m. on HBO Signature.

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE Whether you’ll be able to watch anything at all during the storm will depend on that marvelous convenience that we tend to take for granted, one summed up inadvertently in Joni Mitchell’s lyric, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” It’s electric power, and Tuesday night’s episode of “American Experience” on PBS is about the guy who is largely responsible for putting it in our homes, Thomas A. Edison. It’s a thorough look at the life of one of the most influential people of the last 200 years.

You only Watch YouTube:

Five Great Snow-Related Videos:
5. A fox diving headfirst into the snow to catch food.
3. How to shovel off your roof.
2. A collage of “Star Trek” clips assembled into the wintery song “Let It Snow.”
1. A jogger proven wrong about the wonders of running in the snow.

By Joe Coscarelli

You must know what the coolest thing is right now:

Björk, “Vulnicura” (One Little Indian) An ill-timed leak, followed by an early release, turned out to be fortuitous for snowbound listeners: Björk’s self-described “complete heartbreak album” is austere and biting – an emotional ice storm. (iTunes)

Natalie Prass, “Natalie Prass” (Spacebomb) Leaning softly on horn and string arrangements, this emerging Nashville-based singer-songwriter is from the Dusty Springfield school of soulful folk and tenderness. (Stream at Pitchfork)

Mount Eerie, “Sauna” (P.W. Elverum & Sun) Don’t be fooled by the name – the new album by the brooding singer-songwriter Phil Elverum is chilly and largely whispered, beginning with a lyrically appropriate 10-minute title track: “I don’t think the world still exists/ Only this room in the snow,” Elverum sings. (Stream at NPR)

Sleater-Kinney, “No Cities to Love” (Sub Pop) For warmth, there’s the kinetic energy of Sleater-Kinney’s return to rock. Jon Pareles called the comeback album “10 hurtling, bristling, densely packed, white-knuckled songs that are all taut construction and raw nerve.” (iTunes, Popcast)

You Want to Know What the Kids are Listening to:

Meghan Trainor, “Title” (Epic) For those playing catch-up with the kids, the current No. 1 album in the country comes from a surprise pop star schooled in all types of songwriting, but with a bias toward breezy, summertime vibes and lush throwback harmonies. (iTunes, Popcast)

By Dwight Garner

If he could be any animal, John Updike said, he’d be a turtle, because he liked the sound of rain on a roof. I like that sound, too, and even more the muffled kind of anti-sound that snow wraps around you. One thing I’d like to have on my blanketed lap today is the new issue of The Paris Review. That journal has found its mojo, in a big way, in recent issues, under the editorship of Lorin Stein. The new one has among other things a warm and wise interview with the memoirist and essayist Vivian Gornick that’s worth the price of admission alone. Here’s an excerpt, about envy:

INTERVIEWER: Were there specific parties you wanted to be at but weren’t?

GORNICK: The uptown parties, the New York Review parties, that sort of thing. I wanted recognition in those quarters. I was often envious of those seemed to have a central position in what was indisputably New York literary life, people who were always saying, “At dinner the other night with Charles Simic …” It would make me feel bad about myself. And then I’d have to recover from that nonsense and forget about it – really forget about it. And I did – over and over again.

All this was never as big as I’m making it sound – really, it wasn’t. I mean, it often seems as though everyone under the sun suffers from not being where they want to be or think they should be “in the world.” I reviewed Alfred Kazin’s “Journals,” and Alfred Kazin was such a neurotic that he wrote in his journals, after fifty years of a celebrated life, “I can never lose the feeling that there is some great party going on to which I have not been invited.” And I’m sitting there, saying to myself, You, Alfred? You have the nerve to tell me you’re never invited to the right parties? What about me, Alfred, me!

I’d also like to marinate in a good old dowdy cookbook today, something like Ronald Johnson’s “The American Table” (1984). I love this book, in part because it was recommended to me by the late, great Eden Lipson, former children’s book editor of The Times, and in part because its solid (it has never done me wrong) yet has its share of whimsy. For example this book has a breakfast recipe simply called “Thing,” named by the poet Jonathan Williams. What is “Thing”? Fried potatoes topped with cottage cheese and snipped-up green onions. Not quite my kind of deal. But still.

Finally, there’s a book I’ve been aching to return to: “With The Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa,” by E.B. Sledge (1981). This is a poweful memoir of World War II, told simply. I discovered it in a reissued edition, with an introduction by Paul Fussell.
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TV Sports
NFL launches YouTube channel featuring highlight videos
By Paresh Dave, Los Angeles Times - Jan. 26, 2015

The National Football League and YouTube launched a new video channel Monday that will bring just about everything except live games to tablets, smartphones and computers.

The channel will feature “game previews, in-game highlights, post-game recaps as well as clips featuring news, analysis, fantasy football advice” and other content, the NFL said.

YouTube has proved a popular spot to find unauthorized clips of games, though they're typically taken down quickly.

NFL brings highlight videos to Facebook in key test for social network
The deal comes weeks after a similar deal between the NFL and Facebook, which has been seeking to attract more high-quality video content.

A four-minute preview of Sunday’s Super Bowl was the YouTube channel’s featured video Monday morning.

Hans Schroeder, the NFL’s senior vice president for media strategy, said in a press release that the partnership "further expands fans’ ability to discover and access NFL content throughout the year."
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TV Notes
‘X-Men’ Live-Action TV Series in Development at Fox
By Shelli Weinstein, - Jan. 26, 2015

More super power could be coming to the small screen, with an “X-Men” TV series confirmed to be in the very early stages of development at Fox.

Negotiations are currently under way to develop a live-action show based on the long-running comic book brand, which has already launched eight feature films including the upcoming “X-Men: Apocalypse.”

Though 20th Century Fox holds the film rights to the franchise, in order to use the heroes on Fox, they’ll need to get “X-Men” comics publisher Marvel to sign off on the deal for TV.

Rumblings about an “X-Men” show have been in circulation for some time. Last April, Simon Kinberg, writer of “X-Men: Days of Future Past” told Collider that he thought an “X-Men” television series was a good idea.

“We’re still in this place of figuring out what the future of the franchise will be, but when you look at ‘SHIELD’ to some extent and what Marvel is doing now with ‘Daredevil’… it makes sense to tell some of these stories in TV partly because there’s just not enough screens to do all these characters, and also because the serialized format of comic books is better suited for TV,” he said.

In the fall, Bleeding Cool reported that Fox was actively interested in bringing the famous mutants to the small screen.

Fox chiefs Gary Newman and Dana Walden told reporters at the 2015 Television Critics Assn. Winter Press Tour that Fox is also considering revivals of “The X-Files,” “24” and “Prison Break.”

Marvel is currently developing their own roster of series, with “Agents of SHIELD” and “Agent Carter” airing on ABC (which, like Marvel, is owned by Disney), and “Daredevil,” “AKA Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist” coming to Netflix.

TV Insider first reported the news.
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post #99439 of 99438 Unread Yesterday, 01:56 PM
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Technology/Business Notes
Can Wi-Fi Replace Your Cell Phone Plan?
By Victor Luckerson, - Jan. 26, 2015

The wireless industry has seen its fair share of changes over the last two years, many sparked by T-Mobile’s disruptive “uncarrier” policies that have been since co-opted by its rivals. But there could be even bigger shakeups coming in the year ahead.

New York-based cable and Internet operator Cablevision is preparing to launch a new cell phone service that relies exclusively on Wi-Fi, the New York Times reports. That would differentiate it from traditional mobile carriers, which use networks of cell towers to let users make calls, send text messages and surf the web. Google is also reportedly prepping a wireless service that may make extensive use of Wi-Fi.

A switch from cellular to Wi-Fi networks could have a huge impact on both the cost and quality of wireless service in the future. Here’s a quick look at what Wi-Fi-based carriers could mean for your cell phone plan:

How is a Wi-Fi plan different from a regular cellular plan?

Historically, cell phones have delivered phone calls, text messages and Internet data using cell towers owned and operated by wireless carriers like Verizon or AT&T. This system has created extremely widespread networks that let people make calls and access the web from almost anywhere in the U.S. But it also means the networks are extremely expensive to operate, so carriers charge customers high monthly fees to maintain them.

An increasing amount of activity on mobile phones is now being done using Wi-Fi networks instead of cellular networks. People can easily set up Wi-Fi in their own homes, while many businesses and municipalities are starting to offer Wi-Fi access for free. Cablevision has also been building its own network of Wi-Fi hotspots for use by its home Internet subscribers when they’re on the go.

Cablevision is now betting that its Wi-Fi hotspots are so widespread that it can build an entire mobile network around them. That means you’d use Wi-Fi not only to surf the Web at home, but also to send texts and make phone calls while out and about.

What are the advantages of a Wi-Fi cell phone plan?

The biggest differentiator would be price. Cablevision’s new Wi-Fi service, dubbed Freewheel, will cost $29.95 per month for new individual customers or $9.95 per month for customers who already subscribe to the company’s Optimum Online Internet service. A recent survey by research firm Cowen and Company found the average monthly cell phone bill on Sprint, Verizon or AT&T is about $140, though that factors in both individual and family plans.

Cablevision’s service also won’t require an annual contract, and it will provide unlimited data. Traditional cell phone carriers often require two-year contracts and punish customers with expensive overage fees if they exceed their data caps.

What are the disadvantages?

At launch, the only phone compatible with Cablevision’s new network is Motorola’s Moto G, which will cost $99.99. The service also won’t be able to match the wide coverage of mobile networks like Verizon’s or AT&T’s — Cablevision’s 1.1 million Wi-Fi hotspots are found only in the New York metro area.

For now, Optimum’s service doesn’t seem to be geared toward typical mainstream consumers. Cablevision Chief Operating Officer Kristin Dolan told the Wall Street Journal that Freewheel could be appropriate for college students, children or people with a fixed income.

What does this mean for the future of wireless?

People aren’t going to abandon reliable wireless carriers and their cellular networks anytime soon. But there will be growing pressure on carriers to make more effective use of Wi-Fi connectivity in urban areas. Google’s rumored wireless service may end up mixing Wi-Fi and traditional cellular networks, helping users automatically find and connect to the fastest or cheapest network while on the go, according to the Journal.

In the future, cellular networks could be viewed as a back-up connectivity option when Wi-Fi isn’t available. Such a model would lower cell phone bills as customers opted for cheaper data plans.

Should I subscribe to Cablevision’s Wi-Fi Network?

If you already subscribe to Optimum Internet (so you qualify for the cheaper subscription rate) and you live near New York and you don’t travel much, then maybe. Otherwise, it’s best to wait and see how the arrival of Freewheel impacts the offerings of the major carriers — and keep an eye out for Google’s upcoming service, which the Journal speculates could arrive in the first half of the year.
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post #99440 of 99438 Unread Yesterday, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post
Technology/Business Notes
Can Wi-Fi Replace Your Cell Phone Plan?
Not if you want to use your mobile phone as an actual phone that is mobile. Good luck trying to call for a tow on your Wi-Fi plan when your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere.
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post #99441 of 99438 Unread Today, 05:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Aleron Ives View Post
Not if you want to use your mobile phone as an actual phone that is mobile. Good luck trying to call for a tow on your Wi-Fi plan when your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere.
This wi-fi plan would make sense if you carried a cheap prepaid phone for occasional phone calls.
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