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Hot Off The Press: The Latest TV News and Information - Page 2784

post #83491 of 93716
TV Notes
Thanksgiving TV Marathons: Top Things to Watch This Weekend
By Tim Kenneally, TheWrap.com - Nov. 21, 2012

With Thanksgiving weekend nearly upon us, many people will have a long four days of idle time to fill. And chances are, much of that time will be spent hopelessly sprawled out on the couch, immobile and wondering why you ate so much.

It's a good thing that TV programmers have prepared for this inevitability by stuffing the weekend with a whole lot of marathons. Here are the top offerings to watch this weekend while you slowly emerge from you tryptophan coma.


James Bond Marathon

Has your interest in the James Bond franchise been reinvigorated by the latest 007 installment "Skyfall"? Enjoy the treasures of the Bond archives on Syfy, which will air 15 classics, starting with "For Your Eyes Only" at midnight Wednesday and ending with "Thunderball" at 3 a.m. on Friday. (Syfy)

"R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet"
"Trapped in the Closet," the musical magnum opus of R&B star R. Kelly, will play out in all of its bizarro glory on IFC from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Even better, new installments of the saga will premiere at 9 p.m. on Friday. (IFC)

"Hatfields & McCoys"
History will run its mega-hit miniseries "Hatfields & McCoys" from 4 p.m. Thursday to 3 a.m. Friday -- which will hopefully remind you that, whatever family tensions flared up over Thanksgiving this year, they could have been a lot worse. (History)

"Restaurant: Impossible"
Feeling under the gun as you prepare Thanksgiving dinner? Tune in to "Restaurant: Impossible" on the Food Network from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a lesson in perspective. (Food Network)

"Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa," "Kung Fu Panda," "Shrek Forever After"
Feeling especially animated this Thanksgiving? Starting at 8 a.m., FX will air "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa," "Kung Fu Panda" and a 14-hour run of "Shrek Forever After" that will no doubt will have you thankful when it winds down at 2 a.m. Friday. (FX)

"Breaking Amish"
While the authenticity of TLC's reality show "Breaking Amish" has been questioned by some, the series -- which runs a marathon from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. -- will fill you with an appreciation for the luxuries that most of us enjoy. Such as electricity. And brightly colored clothing. (TLC)

"Finding Bigfoot" and "Finding Bigfoot: Further Evidence"
The fabled sasquatch might not be any more real than your self-control at Thanksgiving dinner, but Animal Planet's "Finding Bigfoot" marathon -- airing from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. -- will at least help you laugh off some of that dinner as it tries to convince you otherwise. (Animal Planet)



Is there a better word to describe the majority of family gatherings? MTV will air episodes of its series "Awkward" -- which stars Ashley Rickards as Palos Verdes, Calif., teenager Jenna Hamilton, from 4 to 10 p.m. (MTV)

You're now spending the second consecutive day with your kids, and your nerves are probably a little frayed. Allow stern-but-strict nanny Jo Frost to provide some child-rearing inspiration as "Supernanny" airs from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. (Style)

"Doomsday Preppers," "Doomsday Preppers: Bugged Out"
Who doesn't feel a little bit as though the apocalypse is nigh when the holidays roll in? Pick up a bunker-full of survival tactics with "Doomsday Preppers" and "Doomsday Preppers: Bugged Out," which offer a monster marathon from 9 a.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday. They might even offer a few tips that will come in handy at the mall this year. (National Geographic Channel)

"The Millionaire Matchmaker"
Check in with professional mate-arranger Patti Stanger and her clients from noon Friday to 2:30 a.m. Saturday. You're sure to wring an extra dollop of thankfulness from the weekend when you realize how lucky you are to have nothing to do with these people. (Bravo)

"SpongeBob SquarePants"
Need a break from the kids for, oh, eight hours or so? Plop them in front of the TV from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and allow them to be enchanted by everyone's favorite sassy aquatic invertebrate. (Nickelodeon)

"Counting Cars"
"Pawn Stars" personality Danny "The Count" Koker landed his own series, "Counting Cars," earlier this year, which finds him restoring classic vehicles and attempting to flip them for a profit. History will air 12 solid hours of the show from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., giving you all day to think back on a time when cars were more exciting than the boxy buckets of rolling boredom that they are today. (History)

J.J. Abrams' supernatural series "Fringe" will come to an end in January, when the series' fifth and final season winds down. The series' relatively small but abundantly passionate fan base can take heart in the fact that the Science Channel will air a mega-dose of the show from 10:30 a.m. Friday to 2 a.m. Saturday. And in case that's just not enough freaky paranormal drama for you, Science will deliver another marathon from 11:30 a.m. Saturday to 2 a.m.. on Sunday. (Science)


"Star Wars" Marathon

With the newly Disney-fied Lucasfilm planning three more installments of the "Star Wars" sci-fi saga, there's no better time to bone up on what's already played a long time ago in a cineplex far, far away. Spike will air previous "Star Wars" movies at various times throughout the weekend, but Saturday -- when Episodes I, II, III and IV will air, starting at 9 a.m. -- offers the most generous helping. (Spike)

"Law & Order: SVU"
Stay out of trouble by watching 14 consecutive hours of Det. Stabler and Det. Benson solve sex-based crimes from noon Saturday to 2 a.m. Saturday. Dun, dun! (USA Network)


"Lonesome Dove"

Monday it's back to work and the madness of the modern age. Might as well indulge in the quaintness of a simpler time with all four episodes of the 1989 miniseries based on the Larry McMurtry novel about a Texas cattle drive, from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Encore)

post #83492 of 93716
Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

Business Notes
'Price Is Right' Model Wins $7M+ in Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit

This explains why they have been letting Rachel and Gwendolyn keep working thru their pregnancies. I had been wondering why, especially since several models have been hurt throughout the years.
post #83493 of 93716
Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

Where: DirecTV 703
When: 10 a.m. Sunday

Uhm.. wrong RedZone, fellas. The NFL RedZone in the article is not the one on DirecTV. D* produces their own RedZone with Andrew Siciliano.. which is where the NFL got the idea, I'm guessing. AFAIK, NFL's RedZone isn't on DirecTV.
post #83494 of 93716
Originally Posted by DrDon View Post

Uhm.. wrong RedZone, fellas. The NFL RedZone in the article is not the one on DirecTV. D* produces their own RedZone with Andrew Siciliano.. which is where the NFL got the idea, I'm guessing. AFAIK, NFL's RedZone isn't on DirecTV.

I caught that as well...... I watch this particular Red Zone on Dish... It ain't on Direct!
post #83495 of 93716
I like the concept of RedZone.. and I can't imagine the NFL's version is much different from DirecTVs. But I'm a whole-game watcher. I have my teams and I want to sit on the game and watch all of it. When my teams aren't playing or the second half is a monotonous blowout, THEN I'll pop over and watch 703. But as a replacement for Sunday Ticket? Nah.
post #83496 of 93716
Originally Posted by DrDon View Post

I like the concept of RedZone.. and I can't imagine the NFL's version is much different from DirecTVs. But I'm a whole-game watcher. I have my teams and I want to sit on the game and watch all of it. When my teams aren't playing or the second half is a monotonous blowout, THEN I'll pop over and watch 703. But as a replacement for Sunday Ticket? Nah.
The red zone is for todays "can't give anything more than a few seconds or minutes of undivided attention" ... if you need a score they spam the screen enough as it is for those of us that like to actually watch football...
post #83497 of 93716
Read the horrible article in the LA Times this morning about the NFL "Red Zone" Channel.. The version on Cable and Dish with the always swarmy Scott Hanson is horrible. First they stole the idea as noted above, from DirecTV and the always energetic Andrew Siciliano. D was first with the idea, first with HD, allows you to click to any game playing, and has a great looking set. They used to start every show with "32 Team clickers" spread around Andre's table and he would hold it up, and say "I have the clicker, you won't miss a thing", and it's true. The feed is also ahead of the Sunday Ticket, and often the Network feeds on D, and is in Hi Bit rate 720 HD. If my team isn't playing, it's all I watch . The NFL Ch. has become increasingly hard to watch with the notable exception of Mike Lombardi, Mike Mayock and Andrew S. who hosts several shows Live.
post #83498 of 93716
I enjoy Rezone and I think Scott Hanson is nice eye-candy wink.gif
post #83499 of 93716
I like the Dish Red Zone Channel, the 1st year it was almost to much especially the early games, back and forth and back and forth.

Now for the early game I'll watch it in PIP and put the best game to me on the full screen, In the afternoon there is only 3-4 games so its much better as far as the back and forth goes.

That Times was probably right in that, the Direct TV guys are overpaying now, IMO.
post #83500 of 93716
TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
FRIDAY 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 - Last Man Standing
8:30PM - Malibu Country
9PM - Shark Tank
(R - May 18)
10PM - 20/20
* * * *
11:35PM - Nightline (LIVE)
Midnight - Jimmy Kimmel Live (Robert Pattinson; Chris Hardwick; Ben Folds Five performs)
(R - Nov. 5)

8PM - Frosty the Snowman (Special)
(R - Dec. 7, 1969)
8:30PM - Frosty Returns (Special)
(R - Dec. 1, 1995)
9PM - Hoops & Yoyo Ruin Christmas (Special)
(R - Nov. 25)
9:30PM - It's a SpongeBob Christmas! (Special)
10PM - Person to Person
* * * *
11:35PM - Late Show with David Letterman (Salma Hayek Pinault; Nick Offerman; KISS performs)
(R - Oct. 10)
12:37AM - Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Sarah Shahi; Tenacious D performs)

8PM - The National Dog Show (120 min.)
(R - Nov. 22)
10PM - Dateline NBC
* * * *
11:35PM - The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (Sarah Silverman; chef Paula Deen; Lyle Lovett performs)
(R - Oct. 26)
12:37AM - Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (Christina Aguilera; comic Colin Quinn; technology journalist Joshua Topolsky; Joey Bada$$ performs)
(R - Nov. 2)
1:37AM - Last Call with Carson Daly (Katey Sagal; The Stepkids perform)
(R - Nov. 5)

8PM - Happiness Is a Warm Blanket Charlie Brown (Special)
(R - 2011)
9PM - The Simpsons
(R - Dec. 11)
9:30PM - The Simpsons
(R - Feb. 19)

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Washington Week in Review
8:30PM - Need to Know
9PM - The Mind of a Chef: Simple
9:30PM - The Mind of a Chef: Glottony
10PM - The Mind of a Chef: Chef
10:30PM - The Mind of a Chef: Japan

8PM - Por Ella Soy Yo
9PM - Amores Verdaderos
10PM - El Amor Bravio

8PM - Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer (Special)
(R - Dec. 15, 2000)
9PM - The Happy Elf (Special)
(R - Dec. 2, 2005)

8PM - Rosa Diamante
9PM - Corazón Valiente
10PM - Pablo Escobar: El Patron del Mal
10:30PM - El Rostro de la Venganza

11PM - Chelsea Lately (Ginnifer Goodwin; Michael Yo; Heather McDonald; Josh Wolf)
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Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Nov. 23, 2012

CBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

This 1969 holiday special shows up, fittingly, on a holiday weekend – but the wrong one. It’s the day after Thanksgiving, yet here we are, with the first network prime-time Christmas special of the year. When I’m still digesting my turkey and awash in leftovers, is it too early to say “Bah humbug”? Yet as TV memories go, for aging Boomers (and all Boomers are), this one’s quite evocative.

Nickelodeon, 8:00 p.m. ET
This Nickelodeon sitcom, starring Miranda Cosgrove, has been so popular with tweens that Michelle Obama, a fan of the show because of her daughters, guest starred in one episode. (She’s not the first First Lady to take her message to a sitcom, either: Nancy Reagan, pushing her “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign in the 1980s, appeared on Diff’rent Strokes opposite Gary Coleman. As they say: Diff’rent Strokes for different folks.) Anyway, iCarly ends its run tonight, with a special one-hour episode called "iGoodbye." But Nickelodeon, one of the savviest cable marketers, isn’t letting the show’s audience down, or letting it escape. Supporting player Jennette McCurdy, who plays Sam Puckett, is set to star in a new Nick sitcom, Sam & Cat. And who’s playing Cat? Ariana Grande, who plays Cat Valentine in another Nickelodeon comedy, Victorious. Pro baseball should have as effective a farm system.

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Audrey Hepburn stars, in this 1964 film musical, as a cockney street waif transformed by an elocution professor (Rex Harrison) into a fashionable, presentable young woman. Harrison talks, rather than sings his songs, but even that’s more than you can say for the luminous Hepburn: Her singing voice was dubbed by Marni Nixon, who did the same for Natalie Wood in the film version of West Side Story. What is it about Nixons and secret recordings?

CBS, 9:30 p.m. ET

This isn’t your normal SpongeBob SquarePants TV cartoon. It’s not a cartoon at all – but a stop-animation holiday special, an intentional and affectionate nod to some of the classic holiday TV specials of the 1960s. It’s a SpongeBob Christmas! has an appropriately holiday-themed plot: Plankton, in his latest scheme to discover the secret formula for the Krabby Patty recipe, floods the already-underwater town of Bikini Bottom with fruitcakes. Those, too, have a secret ingredient: They’re laced with “jerktonium,” and eating a slice turns everyone from nice to naughty. Seeing SpongeBob and company as three-dimensional puppets is fun, but parents, beware: Fast on the heels of this special is a barrage of SpongeBob SquarePants holiday merchandise, including new CDs and DVDs.

Cinemax, 10:00 p.m. ET

In this penultimate Season 1 episode of Hunted, the true target of billionaire Jack Turner (Patrick Malahide) is revealed, and I’ll be damned – it’s a dam! And what does a dam have to do with a Pakistani presidential candidate? Enough, it seems, to make this week’s installment an entertaining hybrid of the water-rights plot of Chinatown and the patsy-assassin plot of The Parallax View. Melissa George stars.

post #83502 of 93716
WEDNESDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insight's Blog

THURSDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insight's Blog
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Nielsen Overnights
Football Leads a Quiet Thanksgiving in Primetime
By Michael O'Connell, The Hollywood Reporter - Nov. 22, 2012

Fast affiliate numbers give a Thanksgiving win to NBC, which averaged a 5.8 rating among adults 18-49 and 15.9 million viewers thanks to primetime's turkey day showdown between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets. The game itself posted a 6.2 adults rating, with Football Night in America earning a 3.7.

Ratings for new episodes of The X Factor and Glee are approximate and subject to significant change, skewed by 18 minutes of coverage. But at it stands, the network averaged a second place 3.1 adults rating and 9.4 million viewers.

CBS encores averaged a 1.7 rating in the key demo and 6.8 million viewers, while ABC pulled a 1.2 adults rating and 4.2 million viewers. The latter had an airing of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (a 1.2 adults rating, down from Wednesday's showing and last Thanksgiving's), a Modern Family rerun and a special showing of Bad 25: Michael Jackson (1.2 adults rating).

Encores brought The CW a 0.2 rating with 18-49-ers and 819,000 viewers.

Edited by dad1153 - 11/23/12 at 10:49am
post #83504 of 93716
TV Review
‘Marvin, Marvin,’ not good, not good
Nickelodeon sitcom dredges up all the too-familiar alien tropes
By Tom Conroy, Media Life Magazine - Nov. 21, 2012

Most actors on sitcoms aimed at tweens mug furiously, overstress their punch lines and pump up the volume throughout. It's hard to imagine a show in which an actor actually tones down his usual performance.

That show is Nickelodeon's "Marvin, Marvin," starring Lucas Cruikshank, who broke out on YouTube by playing a hyperactive 6-year-old with a digitally altered voice named Fred, a character he has since reprised in several movies and a series for Nickelodeon. Now, as a teenage extraterrestrial being raised by a normal American family, Cruikshank is not only more low-key than Fred; he's more low-key than the usual Nick sitcom star.

But that's the only surprising thing about this unimaginative comedy. The hoary premise is matched by stock characters and situations. Although parents will likely find the show less irritatingly noisy than its competition, it will leave kids underamused.

Marvin (Cruikshank) is an alien being raised by a human couple, Bob (Pat Finn) and Liz (Mim Drew), who found him after he was sent to Earth by his parents when his home planet came under attack. In the premiere episode, airing this Saturday, Nov. 24, at 8:30 p.m., Marvin decides to go to the high school attended by his foster sister, Teri (Victory Van Tuyl), even though Bob and Liz fear that Marvin's unusual behavior will blow his cover as a normal human.

Teri happens to be involved in one of the go-to storylines for teenage sitcom characters: She's running for class president against a much more popular classmate.

The writers didn't stretch creatively when constructing Marvin's character. Like most aliens in comedies, he is childishly naïve. At school, he calls Teri "dorkwad," then says, "That's what everyone's been calling me. Don't you love school?"

Like the Coneheads, he sometimes uses bizarrely formal syntax. For example, he addresses Bob as his "large torsoed parental humanoid." But this verbal tic comes and goes randomly.

Like E.T., he has a magic glowing finger. In one bizarre moment, Liz's father (Casey Sander), who lives with the family, asks Marvin to use it to heat up his coffee. Then, after the grandfather burns his tongue, the finger turns blue and Marvin offers to cool it off.

"Dad," says Liz, "get Marvin's finger out of your mouth."

Although subplots in which an old man exploits an innocent teenage boy might be a promising turn for a darker comedy than this, "Marvin, Marvin" steps back.

The jokes are aimed at the younger end of the tween spectrum. In the first few minutes, Marvin explains to Bob that if he wants to whisper, he'll have to talk to his butt, because that's where his ears are; then he and the family dog sniff each other's rear ends.

In a running joke, every time Marvin hears music, even just a ring tone, he dances spasmodically. These are the only moments when Cruikshank approaches the over-the-top performances he gave as Fred.

Maybe Cruikshank is trying to prove he doesn't need a digitized voice and fast-forwarded video to be funny, but if there ever were a show in which a little artificial energy is both warranted and needed, it's this one.

As is, "Marvin, Marvin" is simply bland, bland.

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Nielsen Overnights (Daytime)
Macy's parade ratings up among younger viewers
By James Hibberd, EW.com's 'Inside TV' Blog - Nov. 23, 2012

Let’s do the dog show first.

NBC’s coverage of The National Dog Show Presented by Purina was up 13 percent in the overnight household ratings this year, to a 5.3 in the metered-markets. This is the biggest overnight number for the annual dog show in seven years. Among adults 18-49, the show jumped 24 percent and is the highest-rated in six years. So no matter how you look at the numbers, NBC’s dog show earns a biscuit.

Ratings for the 86th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade are more murky. The most commonly used measurement for morning specials like the parade — Nielsen’s household ratings, which tend to correlate with total viewership — gave the parade a 12.1 rating, down 2 percent from last year. In 18-49 demo, however, the parade was up 10 percent, making this the highest-rated parade in the six years NBC has tracked it using this form of measurement. There’s been some stories lately speculating darkly about Matt Lauer’s future on Today, and bashing his coverage of the parade. But these numbers, at least, shouldn’t give his critics any ammo.

Top markets for the parade telecast, hosted by Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker, were: West Palm Beach, Providence-New Bedford, Richmond, Knoxville and Buffalo. New York was ranked the 13th market.

post #83506 of 93716
Well Dallas will never be the same.

Larry "J.R. Ewing" Hagman is dead.
post #83507 of 93716
Actor Larry Hagman, notorious as 'Dallas' villain J.R. Ewing, dies
By Alan Peppard, Dallas Morning News - Nov. 23, 2012

Larry Hagman, who played the conniving and mischievous J.R. Ewing on the TV show Dallas, died Friday at Medical City in Dallas, of complications from his recent battle with cancer, his family said.

He was 81.

“Larry was back in his beloved Dallas re-enacting the iconic role he loved most,” his family said in a written statement. “Larry’s family and close friends had joined him in Dallas for the Thanksgiving holiday. When he passed, he was surrounded by loved ones. It was a peaceful passing, just as he had wished for. The family requests privacy at this time.”

The role of J.R. transformed Mr. Hagman’s life. He rocketed from being a merely well-known TV actor on I Dream of Jeannie and the son of Broadway legend Mary Martin, to the kind of international fame known only by the likes the Beatles and Muhammad Ali.

Mr. Hagman made his home in California with his wife of 59 years, the former Maj Axelsson. Despite obvious physical frailty, he gamely returned to Dallas to film season one and part of season two of TNT’s Dallas reboot.

Friends were in shock Friday, especially those who saw him only days ago. But those close to him say he knew the end was coming and he was glad to have his family in town for Thanksgiving.

For Dallasites, Mr. Hagman’s recent return to film the TNT show was a pleasant reminiscence of the days when Dallas was the biggest TV program in the world, seen by an estimated 300 million people in 57 countries.

Mr. Hagman lived part of the year in a penthouse at the Mansion on Turtle Creek, now known as the J.R. Ewing Suite, and the actor became part of the fabric of the city — attending polo matches with restaurateur Norman Brinker, unwinding over cocktails with oilman Jake Hamon and his wife, Nancy, at their Bluffview home or dining with Mansion on Turtle Creek owner Caroline Rose Hunt, whose oil-rich family was the nonfiction version of the Ewings.

“Hagman in his role as J.R. was mythic, and as a human he was a hard-working ambassador for Dallas and the underdog,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said Thursday night. “I had spent a couple of evenings with him recently … and he always pitched in to help the city.”

Mr. Hagman lit the scheming J.R. with his own innate sense of fun and mischief.

“From the moment we met him, he started the entire ball rolling,” said his TV ex-wife Linda Gray (a.k.a. Sue Ellen Ewing) last month at a fundraiser in Preston Hollow for the Larry Hagman Foundation, which promotes creative arts education for children in the Dallas area. “He came into a room in Burbank. He walked in with a saddlebag filled with ice and bottles of champagne. That is how we had our first read-through of the original script. That bonded us to this wonderful man.”

In September, Ms. Gray played host to Mr. Hagman for an 81st birthday lunch at Café Pacific in Highland Park Village.

Throughout the summer of 1980, the world hung on the question “Who shot J.R.?” The ultimate TV cliffhanger aired on March 21, 1980, when an unseen assailant shot J.R. Ewing twice.

As everyone waited to find out who the shooter was, Mr. Hagman had an epiphany that would pave the way for TV giants such as Jerry Seinfeld and the cast of Friends to get a larger share of the profits from their shows.

In his memoir, Hello Darlin’, Mr. Hagman said, “Ronald Reagan was campaigning against Jimmy Carter, American hostages were being held in Iran, Polish shipyard workers were on strike, and all anyone wanted to know was, who shot J.R.?”

The world was filled with J.R. T-shirts, coffee mugs and bumper stickers.

“Everyone was making a windfall from J.R. except me,” he said.

He threatened to leave the show if his contract were not renegotiated.

After months of tense negotiations, he was finally given his $100,000 per episode asking price.

Originally from Weatherford, Mr. Hagman was born to 17-year-old Mary Martin and 21-year-old Benjamin Hagman, an attorney.

“How hillbilly can you get?” Ms. Martin later said.

The marriage lasted five years, and Mr. Hagman was raised largely by his maternal grandmother while his mother became a famous stage actress.

Mr. Hagman also worked as a stage actor before appearing in films such as Ensign Pulver and the Otto Preminger epic In Harm’s Way.

But he first became a star when he was cast as an Air Force officer who falls for a genie in a bottle played by Barbara Eden in I Dream of Jeannie. It was a major hit that fizzled, according to Mr. Hagman, after he and Jeannie were wed on the show.

“Once they got married,” he said, “nobody cared anymore.”

When Dallas debuted as a five-part miniseries in April 1978, J.R. was merely a supporting character. But Mr. Hagman’s dazzling portrayal soon earned him bigger and bigger pieces of the story line until he was the star of the show.

"All of us at TNT are deeply saddened at the news of Larry Hagman's passing," the cable network said in a statement. "He was a wonderful human being and an extremely gifted actor. We will be forever thankful that a whole new generation of people got to know and appreciate Larry through his performance as J.R. Ewing."

A statement issued by Warner Bros. on behalf of the Dallas executive producers, cast and crew praised Mr. Hagman as "a giant, a larger-than-life personality whose iconic performance as J.R. Ewing will endure as one of the most indelible in entertainment history. He truly loved portraying this globally recognized character, and he leaves a legacy of entertainment, generosity and grace."

Despite the enormous cultural impact of the J.R. character, Mr. Hagman refused to be defined by the part. He continued to show his acting chops with role such as the H.L. Hunt/Clint Murchison composite character in Oliver Stone’s Nixon and as Gov. Fred Picker in Primary Colors.

Michael Cain, founder of the Dallas International Film Festival, was a close friend of Mr. Hagman’s. The Dallas star appeared at a festival event in 2011, handing out awards to up-and-coming high-school filmmakers.

“I was blessed to … witness his heart that was so full of passion and charity and mischievousness,” Mr. Cain said. “His friendship will be missed by many, including me. Recently on a trip to Santa Monica, I was initiated into a celebration, a ritual that Larry performed with guests as the sun set over the ocean, where we shouted out to the sun as the final sliver passed over the hills. … I know he would want us to stand and shout and celebrate his life and the passion with which he loved and lived it.”

In addition to his wife, Mr. Hagman is survived by a daughter, Kristina Hagman; a son, Preston Hagman; and five granddaughters.

Staff writer Robert Wilonsky contributed to this report.

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TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
SATURDAY Network Primetime/Late Night Options
(All shows are in HD unless noted; start times are ET. Late night shows are preceded by late local news)

8PM - College Football: Notre Dame at USC (3 1/2 hrs., LIVE)

8PM - Made in Jersey
(R - Nov. 1, 2011)
10PM - 48 Hours

8PM - Movie: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
* * * *
11:29PM - Saturday Night Live (Joseph Gordon-Levitt hosts; Mumford & Sons perform; 93 min.)
(R - Sep. 22)

6:30PM - College Football: Stanford at UCLA (3 1/2 hrs., LIVE)
* * * *
11PM - Masterchef
(R - Jul. 16, 2012)
Midnight - 30 Seconds to Fame SD
(R - Aug. 14, 2002)

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Austin City Limits: Jimmy Cliff (R - Oct 2, 2010)

8PM - Sábado Gigante (3 hrs.)

7PM - Movie - The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption (2012)
9PM - Taken (2008)
post #83509 of 93716
Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Nov. 24, 2012

HBO, 7:45 p.m. ET

This film, a pet project of George Lucas’, finally came to the screen in 2012, directed by Anthony Hemingway, who also has directed some recent episodes of HBO’s Treme. It’s a dramatization of the WWII aerial combat unit known now as the Tuskegee airmen, a group of African-Americans who belatedly, but bravely, were sent into combat in 1944. Stars include Nate Parker, Terrence Howard, Bryan Cranston and Cuba Gooding, Jr.

CBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

This new CBS series from the fall 2012 crop was cut down so instantly and emphatically, only two episodes were televised before CBS pulled it from the schedule: the pilot, and one other. But this is Thanksgiving weekend, when network TV presumes no one is watching or caring very much about what’s on the tube (all that family around and such), so why not broadcast a never-before-seen third episode of Made in Jersey, starring Janet Montgomery as Jersey girl attorney Martina? And, in the same spirit of post-turney ennui, or saluting a different sort of turkey altogether, why not highlight it?

Encore, 8:00 p.m. ET

This 2003 movie, the culminating installment in Peter Jackson’s directorial exploration of the J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy, won Best Picture and an additional 10 Oscars – and the story isn’t over yet. Or, rather, it’s only just begun: Movies based on its prequel, The Hobbit, are just around the corner. And, no doubt, they’ll prove to be no less Hobbit-forming.

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Even in black and white, you can tell, in this 1938 Oscar-winning role for Bette Davis, that the party dress she’s wearing in antebellum New Orleans is scandalously red. Okay, so the plot and dialogue help – but still.

TCM, 10:00 p.m. ET

There’s a lot more to this 1959 biblical epic than its famous chariot race – but oh my, there’s a reason why that chariot race, in this version, is so famous, and so iconic. And if you have a wide-screen, high-definition TV, you can see why, in a big way. A big way, and a wide way, too – the image you see here is only half the picture.

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TV Sports
NHL cancels games through Dec. 14
By Katie Strang, ESPN.com - Nov. 23, 2012

The National Hockey League announced another round of cancellations on Friday, wiping out all regular-season games through Dec. 14, as well as the All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio, originally slated for Jan. 27.

The lockout now has cost the league 422 regular-season games -- 34.3 percent of the season -- as well as all of its marquee events; the annual Winter Classic was canceled earlier this month.

"The reality of losing more regular-season games as well as the 2013 NHL All-Star Weekend in Columbus is extremely disappointing," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement. "We feel badly for NHL fans and particularly those in Columbus, and we intend to work closely with the Blue Jackets organization to return the NHL All-Star events to Columbus and their fans as quickly as possible."

Given the lack of progress between the NHL and NHLPA, many fear the next cancellation could be that of the entire season altogether.

Friday's announcement comes two days after the latest standoff between the NHL and NHLPA. The union submitted a new proposal at the league's request on Wednesday, but that offer was rebuffed, leaving the players and owners at loggerheads once again.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the two sides remain "far apart," while NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said the league's response to what he deemed a "dramatic move" in the owner's direction was essentially "thanks, but no thanks."

In the latest proposal, the union offered to link the players' share to revenue in the league's preferred percentage-based system -- a substantial concession considering the guaranteed player amount featured in player proposals -- although there remain some serious concerns among owners about the offer.

Multiple sources told ESPNNewYork.com the owners' side objects to the amount asked for in the union's Make Whole plan to honor existing contracts -- $393 million, compared to the league's last offer of $211 million -- as well as a provision that guarantees the players share to some degree.

The provision says that, starting in Year 2, the players cannot make less in share than the previous year, thereby protecting against the potential devaluation of the Canadian dollar of a possible decline in revenue.

Bettman said Wednesday the damage incurred from the lockout has resulted in the league losing between $18 to $20 million by the day.

"To expect our best economic proposal to get better as the damage continues to increase isn't particularly realistic," Bettman said.

In a statement Friday, Fehr said the gap between the two sides on "core economic issues is $182 million," or just 10 days worth of money the NHL is currently losing by not playing games.

"It makes the NHL's announcement of further game cancellations, including the 2013 All-Star Weekend, all the more unnecessary, and disappointing for all hockey fans -- especially those in Columbus," Fehr said. "The players remain ready to negotiate but we require a willing negotiating partner."

The rejection of yet another proposal -- one that was the result of a push among the NHLPA's moderates, a source told ESPNNewYork.com -- has angered players within the union's ranks.

Some players have raised the issue of decertification as a potential option moving forward, which essentially would disband the union and allow the players to file an antitrust lawsuit against the NHL.

"After watching the other sport leagues go through labor disputes last year, it is apparent that until decertification is filed, there will not be any real movement or negotiation," Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller told The Globe and Mail.

"They want to see if we will take a bad deal because we get desperate or if we have the strength to push back. Decertification is a push back and should show we want a negotiation and a fair deal on at least some of our terms."

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TV Notes
'Downton Abbey' Renewed For Season 4
British Broadcaster ITV Picks Up Drama For Another Year
By the HuffingtonPost.com - Nov. 23, 2012

"Downton Abbey" has been renewed for a fourth season, British broadcaster ITV announced Friday. Though the show has yet to premiere its third season in the US (it bows on PBS on January 6, 2013), it just concluded its run in the UK with its highest-rated season to date, averaging over 12 million viewers for the Season 3 finale.

The fourth season will begin filming eight episodes, plus another Christmas special, in February 2013 for a fall premiere in the UK. Though PBS has yet to issue a statement on its plans for the fourth season, the show is expected to continue at the network.

According to Gareth Neame, executive producer of the series, “viewers can look forward to more drama, comedy, love, hatred, jealousy, rivalry, ambition, despair and romance" in the fourth season.

Laura Mackie, Director of Drama at ITV, said: “We’re thrilled to welcome back a drama series that has become a much anticipated part of all our lives every autumn and achieved success around the globe. Creator, writer and executive producer Julian Fellowes and the production team, led by Gareth and the producer Liz Trubridge, never rest on their laurels and have exciting plans for the fourth series.”

Neame also praised “genius” showrunner Julian Fellowes, who writes all the episodes. “Not only is he a superb craftsman, he also has an extraordinary work ethic. It is a mammoth undertaking to write all those episodes,” he said in the statement. “The main credit for the success of 'Downton' is by far and away down to Julian. I’ve not had the fortune to work with anyone else who combines so many talents.”

Before Season 4 premieres, UK viewers can still look forward to the show's Christmas special, which "sees Lord and Lady Grantham and family heading for a summer break in The Highlands of Scotland, leaving most of their servants back at home," according to ITV. The special will air as part of Season 3 on PBS in the US.

“We're always very pleased with the audience reaction to the series," said Mackie. "From the very first series Julian created an ensemble of memorable characters. Of course there are some you may like more than others but they’re all incredibly well drawn. He knows them all so well and is able to quickly integrate new characters into the drama so you feel as if they have always been there. That’s a real gift."

She continued, "Julian, Gareth and the production team manage to keep the absolute essence of what people liked in the first place and yet they almost treat every series as though it’s a new drama. So each series feels fresh and yet it always delivers those things you love. As we move through the different eras there’s always more to enjoy.”

"Downton Abbey" Season 3 premieres Sun., Jan. 6 on PBS. You can also watch "Downton Abbey Revisited," featuring a recap of Season 2 and preview of Season 3, on Sun., Nov. 25 at 8 p.m. ET on PBS.

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TV Notes
How Will Larry Hagman’s Death Affect TNT’s ‘Dallas’?
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com - Nov. 24, 2012

For a third time since it was conceived, TNT’s new Dallas series will have to adjust its storylines to account for the absence of one of its signature characters, J.R. Ewing. And while the first two times the preparations turned out to be contingency plans that were never enacted, this time the show is forced to bid farewell to the villainous oilman following the death of the actor who’s portrayed the iconic character over the span of 35 years.

Larry Hagman, who died Friday at age 81 from cancer complications, was in Dallas filming season 2 of TNT’s Dallas. He had completed shooting a number of episodes, believed to be six, before his death, and will appear in the 15-episode season two of the series, slated to premiere Jan. 28. As of now, things are fluid and it is unclear how his passing will affect the production on the show, which was scheduled to resume following the Thanksgiving break. Extending the hiatus or scheduling one in the near future is a possibility so the writers can rework the scripts for the remaining episodes without Hagman and, more importantly, create a proper sendoff for J.R.. The larger-than-life character was already at the heart of one of the most famous episodes of television as the November 1980 Dallas episode that resolved the series’ “Who shot J.R.?” cliffhanger remains the second most watched telecasts of all time. J.R.’s farewell episode on the new Dallas will likely attract legions of fans of the iconic character.

Ironically, Hagman almost didn’t make it to the Dallas sequel on TNT. J.R. had a prominent presence in developer/executive producer Cynthia Cidre’s original pilot script. But after months of a stalemate between Hagman and the project’s producer Warner Bros. over money, Cidre wrote an alternative script that didn’t include Hagman, with J.R. represented only through archive footage from the original series. Fortunately for J.R. fans, the actor and the studio finally came to terms and that alternative script was never used.

Then last October, as Dallas was in the final stages of pre-production on its first-season order, Hagman announced that he had been diagnosed with what the actor described as a “very common and treatable” form of cancer. As a result, he was scheduled to only appear in the first three episodes plus the pilot. His future participation was in doubt and dependent on his treatment. Luckily, he was able to do all 10 episodes from the show’s first season.

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Emily Squires, 'Sesame Street Director,' Dies at 71
By Mike Barnes, The Hollywood Reporter - Nov. 24, 2012

Emily Squires, a six-time Daytime Emmy Award winner for directing episodes of Sesame Street, died Nov. 21 at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York of unknown causes. She was 71.

Squires penned and directed episodes of another PBS series, Between the Lions, and earned a Primetime Emmy nomination for co-producing the 1994 children's special All-Star 25th Birthday: Stars and Street Forever!

Squires directed more than two dozen episodes of Sesame Street, the first one in 1982. The bulk of her work on the kids show came in the years 2005 through 2007.

She also wrote for the soap operas Search for Tomorrow (for which she won a WGA Guild Award), Guiding Light, The Secret Storm and As the World Turns.

Squires directed documentaries including Visions of Perfect Worlds, a conversation with the Dalai Lama; The Art of Being Human, a portrait of the artist Frederick Franck; and Five Masters of Meditation.

She and her husband, Len Belzer, wrote the 2000 book Spiritual Places In and Around New York City.

Belzer survives her.

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TV Review
A Name That Lives in Infamy
By Dorothy Rabinowitz, Wall Street Journal

For all his ambition, the man who would become the most famous senator in American history could not in his wildest dreams have imagined that more than 60 years after its beginning, filmmakers would still be telling the story of his monumental career. A career that had ensured that Sen. Joe McCarthy's name would forever stand for a reign of terror by accusation, a belief in guilt by association, and the tarnishing of lives and reputations by groundless charges. The most conspicuous aspects of McCarthy's history, the lethal exposé of his tactics by the intrepid Edward R. Murrow and such, are by now well known—but it takes a work like "Enemies Within," gloriously drenched in detail, to bring home the day-by-day reality of that reign. This is one docudrama far more invested in documentary matter than re-created scenes.

Here for one detail—a large one—are the Army-McCarthy hearings. Not merely the famous encounter in which Army counsel Joseph Welch asks the senator, "Have you no decency, sir?" but solid chunks of the footage of the rest of that fantastic spectacle—those hearings pitting Sen. McCarthy against the U.S. Army, which saw the senator charge its leadership with efforts to protect subversives, and berate one officer, Ralph Zwicker, as unfit to wear the uniform of a U.S. Army general.

The Army, for its part, charged that Sen. McCarthy and his much-prized assistant Roy Cohn had improperly sought preferential treatment for a close friend of Cohn's, one G. David Schine (an unpaid consultant to McCarthy), who had been drafted into the Army. The film is clear in its view that Cohn, a closeted homosexual, had been motivated by something more than ordinary friendship in his concern for the welfare of the tall, blond, handsome Schine.

Here is the Sen. McCarthy of the eerie-sounding giggle, the sneeringly assaultive, desperate McCarthy in combat with the secretary of the Army and other high officials who had, he declared, conspired to protect security risks. Incomprehensible as this scene and the players may be now, the writers Lutz Hachmeister and Simone Holler have shaped it all into a work of impeccable clarity. Nothing advances that clarity more, of course, than all that footage. The Army-McCarthy hearings were a television sensation. Held in the spring of 1954, they lasted 36 days, attracted 80 million viewers, and were Sen. McCarthy's final undoing. This had been the worst McCarthy Americans had yet seen. The earlier one—the crusader who had claimed to have a list of hundreds of subversives in government, who charged that American diplomats had willfully conspired to deliver China to the Communists—was chilling enough.

The portrait of the younger McCarthy, played by John Sessions, is no match for the one seen in all the documentary footage. It's a telling history nonetheless—a Wisconsin farm boy of high intelligence, and indefatigable will, determined to have a career in politics and to get there as soon as possible. He ran for the Republican nomination for the Senate while still in the service in 1944. By 1947 he had become a senator. By 1950 he had discovered he could attract the press attention he longed for by making sensational charges. That was the year of his Wheeling, W.Va., speech in which he charged that right at that moment he knew of 205 subversives in the State Department.

It was the beginning of his grasp of the factor so vital in his rise to power—namely the attention of the press. Having understood, he never looked back. No McCarthy documentary in memory has so captured the role of his press acolytes. Reporters admired him, were charmed by him, and they were above all grateful for the inside information he gave them. The film offers testaments from witnesses both living and dead to the ways McCarthy courted reporters. Jack Anderson tells of being set up to listen in on McCarthy's phone while the senator called some other Republican, like Robert Taft, to ask what had happened at some important closed meeting that had just been held. It was a long while before McCarthy's appeal for that press wore off. He was a gregarious man who could strangely seem to forget any animus he felt for a witness he had just finished trying to destroy. One man tells of running into McCarthy in a hallway just after the senator had brutalized him at one of his hearings—and finding, to his amazement, McCarthy throwing his arm around him and asking if he'd like to go for a drink.

The film's long list of commentators includes a former McCarthy staff member, and a former Harvard professor who was one of the senator's targets. There's Ben Bradlee, former editor of the Washington Post, whose view of Sen. McCarthy is succinct. "I mean, he was a little jerk." Conservative commentator Ann Coulter declares McCarthy a "great American patriot, sent by God…." On this there's more. Don't ask.

The film isn't exactly Thanksgiving holiday fare. It's extraordinary history up close—the senator, the hearing rooms, the times leap from the screen—bounty enough to be grateful for.

Sunday, Nov. 25, at 9 p.m.; on the Smithsonian Channel

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TV Notes
Cable channels hit gold with treasure-hunting reality shows
Discovery Channel's popular 'Gold Rush' is just one in a wave of gold mining series on cable that have captured the attention of a financially anxious audience.
By T.L. Stanley, Los Angeles Times - Nov. 23, 2012

There's gold in them thar hills! Or is there?

Three seasons into Discovery Channel's "Gold Rush," the hardscrabble crew at the center of the gritty reality show is again mining for millions in Alaska and the Klondike. The displaced blue-collar workers, friends and family members on a desperate make-or-break treasure hunt have yet to hit the mother lode.

The cable channel, on the other hand, has already struck it rich with a series that regularly draws more male viewers on Friday nights than anything else on television, broadcast networks included. In addition, "Gold Rush's" exotic new spinoff, "Jungle Gold," has quickly captured an audience, as has the expanded behind-the-scenes series, "Gold Rush: The Dirt."

And the gold fever doesn't stop there, pointing to a booming interest among viewers and TV programmers in gold mining and the bootstrap folks who do it. Outdoor Channel airs the scenic "Alaskan: A Modern Day Gold Rush" and the long-running "Gold Fever," while National Geographic Channel, after producing the multi-generational "Goldfathers," is considering other gold-hunting series and specials.

Next month Discovery's hit, "Bering Sea Gold," returns for a second season of following divers who dredge the bottom of the frigid Alaskan ocean for gold. Its spinoff, "Bering Sea Gold: Under the Ice," recently showed some of the same daredevils diving in winter, tunneling through 5 feet of ice to do so.

"There's a Wild West feel to these shows," said Nancy Daniels, Discovery Channel's executive vice president of production and development. "It's such rugged and difficult work, ripe for drama. And it hearkens back to that American dream of using your grit and changing your life."

Discovery now airs three hours of gold-centric programming on Friday nights, drawing in more men in key demographic categories than any other channel. A recent block of "The Dirt," "Gold Rush" and "Jungle Gold" bested networks such as ESPN, ABC, TNT and Fox in men 18-49 years old.

There are likely a number of reasons this reality subgenre has caught on with viewers, and the first may be the skyrocketing price of gold, which currently sells for more than $1,700 an ounce.

The leap in price spawned a cottage industry of cash-for-gold businesses that advertise on TV, radio and billboards, seemingly nonstop, offering big money for castoff jewelry. There was even a well-watched Super Bowl commercial from Cash4Gold.com with MC Hammer and Ed McMahon. Former "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" host Robin Leach now stars in an ad campaign for gold buyer GoldMax.

As the economy continues to struggle, with unemployment figures still high, viewers can relate to down-on-their-luck men using their brawn to try to provide for their families, Daniels said.

The current crop of shows also taps into the testosterone-charged dangerous jobs and heavy machinery trend in reality TV, pioneered by hits like "Deadliest Catch" and "Ice Road Truckers." They have treasure hunting, get-rich-quick elements, too, that run through popular series such as "American Pickers" and "Storage Wars."

Discovery Channel vice president-executive producer Christo Doyle said he was hooked from the moment he saw footage of the Hoffman crew, led by patriarch Jack Hoffman and his son, Todd, trying to eke out a living by mining for gold in Alaska and Canada's Yukon territory. The teaser video, which turned into "Gold Rush," came from British production company Raw TV.

"It was a true adventure in an awesome, dynamic environment with great characters and great stories," said Doyle, executive producer of "Gold Rush" and "Jungle Gold," and host of "The Dirt." "And the gold made it sexier."

The "Gold Rush" stars, most from the Oregon area, turned to mining after they found themselves in the same boat as many other Americans: laid off, broke and floundering. Jack Hoffman had tried and failed at gold mining years ago and saw this as his second chance to make a mark. Everyone involved needed the work. Those elements made the crew relatable to the average TV viewer and especially to Discovery's target male audience, Doyle said.

Even though the crew didn't hit a gold vein in the first two seasons — and instead sunk into a financial hole — viewers continued to watch, making "Gold Rush" one of the channel's highest-rated series. It pulled in 4.5 million viewers for its recent Season 3 launch, with producers promising there will be more gold in the future than fans have seen so far. The crews already have surpassed their previous haul on the way to a goal of 1,000 ounces in the brief 150-day mining season.

Their determination pays off — as does spreading out the work among four mines in three locations — though Doyle wouldn't share any spoilers about the ultimate windfall.

While most of the shows are based in Alaska, giving them a distinctly American vibe, producers are starting to branch out because, according to estimates, 80% of the world's gold has yet to be discovered.

"Jungle Gold" is set in West Africa, for instance, and centers on two men who went bust in the real estate business and are trying to get out from under by mining in Ghana.

The Gold Prospectors Assn. of America, a nonprofit group based in Temecula, produces the two education-based Outdoor Channel gold mining shows. Spokesman Brad Jones said the organization has seen its membership jump 83% since the Discovery Channel started airing gold mining series, though he attributes some of the increase to gold prices, news reports about precious metals and companies paying a premium for gold jewelry.

The group, which leads its own Alaskan expeditions for hobbyists, encourages people to try gold mining as a way to get outdoors and spend time with their families and friends. Few people can or should try to make a living at it, Jones said.

"You can't just show up in Nome and start prospecting," Jones said. "It's not as easy as it might look on a reality show."

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TV Review
'Liz & Dick' (Lifetime)
By Matt Roush, TVGuide.com

What unbecomes a legend most? Look no further than this long weekend's well-timed candidate for the TV Turkey Hall of Fame: Liz & Dick (Lifetime, Sunday at 9/8c), an epic of stunningly cynical and pathetic miscasting, a TV-movie so laughably inept it doesn't deserve to be on a first-name basis with anything resembling humanity.

Even deep breaths seem too much to ask of Lindsay Lohan these days, let alone capturing the essence of an exotic film goddess who reigned for years as a superstar sex symbol, by which of course we mean Elizabeth Taylor — who isn't so much rolling in her grave but yawning and laughing from the great beyond at this sorry and tacky exploitation of her torrid history with Richard Burton. The movie itself is awkwardly structured as a seemingly posthumous joint interview with Liz and Dick, sitting and talking about their highs and lows to an unseen questioner. (Who knew Access Hollywood had access to the afterlife?)

The story actually begins on "the last day of Richard Burton's life" in 1984 (which makes him the lucky one), but quickly flashes to the '60s set of Cleopatra, back when Liz was in her prime — which the wan and petulant Lohan is anything but —and where sparks first flew between her Cleopatra and Dick's Marc Anthony. It's lust and love-hate at first sight, and pity poor Grant Bowler (Ugly Betty) as he attempts to pitch ludicrous woo ("We don't need a pool. I've got a whole ocean in you") to a blank-faced co-star with the allure of an asp. You'll find more exciting chemistry in a high-school lab.

The most authentic moment occurs when Liz informs Dick, "I can't tell you a thing about acting." Tell us something we don't know. And later, during one of the many tantrums and benders that constitute a story line, Liz cries, "I'm a joke!" The joke is on anyone who tunes in hoping for a memorable TV train wreck, hoping that Lohan's tabloid notoriety might add a sordid subtext to this insipid love story. No such luck. Liz & Dick might as well be titled, "Who's Afraid of Watching Lindsay Lohan Channel Elizabeth Taylor in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (After watching that recreation, I immediately booked a ticket to the excellent Broadway revival of the Albee play. Now that's acting!)

* * * *

On Sunday night, you'll be in much better company if you accept the invitation of authentic TV/stage/film legend Angela Lansbury to celebrate one of TV's most delightful surprise hits in ages, with PBS' Downton Abbey Revisited (check tvguide.com listings). "Downton Abbey can become an obsession," Lansbury impishly understates as she teases scenes from the long-awaited third season — which premieres Jan. 6 — and relives many of the high points of the first two years, with well-chosen clips and charming commentary from creator Julian Fellowes and many of his stars. It's worth tuning in just to see the formidable Maggie Smith (the peerlessly amusing Dowager Countess) in her street clothes, interviewed on set and demurring as co-star Penelope Wilton sings her praises. We learn of "costume envy" among the plain-clothed "downstairs" actors as we go behind the scenes with wardrobe and set designers. And it's always fun to hear the actors talk with candor and affection about their characters — or others. "You can feel the grease, can't you?" Elizabeth McGovern (Lady Cora) exults as she marvels about the scenes between scheming Thomas and O'Brien (Siobhan Finneran, who takes special delight in her villainess' unflattering sideburns). No wonder Lansbury even utters a "Blimey!" before it's over. Angie, we can't wait, either.

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Technology Notes
Nintendo Confronts a Changed Video Game World
By Nick Wingfield, The New York Times - Nov. 25, 2012

Goni Montes.

REDMOND, Washington.- Tucked in the woods here, west of State Route 520, is a little piece of the Mario Kingdom.

Behind the unassuming doors is the business built by Mario, the pudgy plumber, and Luigi, his lanky brother, as well as characters like Link, wielder of the mystical Master Sword, and Princess Zelda, of the royal family of Hyrule. All of them, and more, are the pixelated children of Shigeru Miyamoto, the Walt Disney of video games and creative genius of the Nintendo Company of Japan.

But while Mr. Miyamoto is dreaming his dreams across the Pacific, an army of marketing types is at work here in Redmond, inside the shiny new headquarters of Nintendo of America. This palace of play is quiet, but there’s trouble brewing in the world around it: three decades after the mustachioed Mario burst into arcades via Donkey Kong, plucking countless quarters from people’s pockets, the kingdom is under siege.

Nintendo’s enemies have arrived by battalions. Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja and other inexpensive, downloadable games, particularly for cellphones and tablets, have invaded its turf. Changing tastes and technology have called into question the economics of traditional game consoles, whether from Nintendo or Microsoft, maker of the Xbox. Nintendo recently posted the first loss in its era as a video games company, a prospect that would have been unimaginable only a few years ago. And while game consoles aren’t going away, analysts are skeptical that the business will regain its former stature soon.

All of which makes Nintendo’s next move, and what is happening here, so crucial. Nintendo counterattacked on Nov. 18, when a new version of its Wii game console arrived in stores nationwide.

The original Wii, the first wireless, motion-capturing console, was nothing less than revolutionary. The simplicity of its controller, which Mr. Miyamoto helped design, attracted new audiences like women and older people. Customers lined up in stores for it — and then it simply faded. Now, the new console, the Wii U, may be Nintendo’s last, best hope for regaining its former glory. Executives are hoping for a holiday hit, and perhaps even another runaway success.

Initial demand appears high. GameStop, the video game retailer, opened 3,000 stores at midnight on Thursday for Black Friday sales, and before long almost all its Wii Us were sold out, according to Tony Bartel, GameStop’s president. “I think people are starving for innovation, and Wii U is giving them that innovation," Mr. Bartel says.

* * * *

The Wii U is a recognition that the living room is no longer the province of a single screen. More people, particularly the young, now watch TV with a smartphone or tablet in hand, the better to tweet a touchdown or update their Facebook status during a commercial. The Wii U looks like a mash-up of an iPad and a traditional console, with a touch screen embedded in the middle. It’s no mere festival of joysticks, buttons and triggers.

But will it be the blowout that Nintendo needs? Many industry veterans and game reviewers are skeptical. They question whether the Wii U can be as successful as the original, now that many gamers have moved on to more abundant, cheaper and more convenient mobile games.

“I actually am baffled by it,” Nolan K. Bushnell, the founder of Atari and the godfather of the games business, says of the Wii U. “I don’t think it’s going to be a big success.”

The bigger question is what the future holds for any of the major game systems, including new ones that Sony and Microsoft are expected to release next year. Echoing other industry veterans, Mr. Bushnell says that consoles are already delivering remarkable graphics and that few but the most hard-core players will be willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a new game box.

“These things will continue to sputter along, but I really don’t think they’ll be of major import ever again,” he says. “It feels like the end of an era to me.”

Nintendo is unbowed. Mr. Miyamoto was involved in developing the original Wii, and had a role in the Wii U as well. He rarely gives interviews, and was unavailable for comment for this article.

But one recent evening in Redmond, Corey Olcsvary, a Nintendo product marketing specialist, was slashing his fingers across the touch screen on the GamePad, as the Wii U controller is called, casting “throwing stars” at a ninja gang that sprang from the corners of a giant TV screen. In another game, a group of players chased Mario — one of the most popular video game characters ever — around a maze shown on a TV while Mr. Olcsvary stared at a bird’s-eye view of the maze on his GamePad and tried to help Mario dodge his pursuers. The players shouted when they caught sight of Mario’s red overalls and cheered when they tackled him.

Starting in December, people will also be able to use the GamePad as a remote control to set recordings and change channels on their cable and satellite TV services.

Reggie Fils-Aime, president and chief operating officer of Nintendo’s United States unit, acknowledges that mobile games have changed the market. But he says wide recognition of the Nintendo and Wii brands, and of Mario, Zelda and other favorites available exclusively on Nintendo systems, will offer a strong tail wind for the Wii U.

“It comes down to providing consumers new, unique experiences they can’t get anywhere else, experiences that really make them say, ‘Wow, this is fantastic,’ ” Mr. Fils-Aime says.

* * * *

Nintendo has been in the business of fun since 1889. Its founder, Fusajiro Yamauchi, made playing cards. His great-grandson Hiroshi Yamauchi landed a licensing agreement with the Walt Disney Company and turned out Mickey Mouse playing cards. By the 1960s, Nintendo was pushing into other toys and games. Then, in 1975, Atari introduced a home version of Pong, the first hit video arcade game. Soon, Nintendo was chasing video games as the hot new thing, too.

But the history of games hardware is littered with spectacular flameouts, including Sega, 3DO and Mr. Bushnell’s own Atari. Nintendo has endured through a combination of ingenuity and obsessive focus on both hardware and software, a path that makes it something like the Apple of video games.

Its gutsiest bet on the hardware side was the Wii, which came out at a time when it looked as if Nintendo was drifting to the margins. Nintendo couldn’t afford to join in the arms race, led by its much bigger rivals Sony and Microsoft, to create systems with the most graphics horsepower. (Years after its rivals, Nintendo has finally embraced high-definition graphics with the Wii U.)

The Wii strategy led to a big comeback. Nintendo has shipped close to 100 million Wiis, while Sony and Microsoft have each shipped about 70 million of their latest consoles.

Through it all, Mr. Miyamoto, now 60, was the creative force. But in the last year, he has let some lieutenants take on more responsibility, the better to prepare Nintendo for his eventual retirement. Mr. Fils-Aime, who would not predict when that day would be, says Mr. Miyamoto’s engagement at the company “continues to be at the highest level.”

Just as Apple has insisted on making both hardware and software, rather than licensing the Mac and iPhone operating systems to others, Nintendo does not create games for devices made by other companies, including the hundreds of millions of iPod Touches, smartphones and tablets out there. Industry executives say this represents a missed opportunity, allowing a new generation of game brands, like Angry Birds, to emerge unchallenged on mobile devices, much as Disney did in another realm years ago by allowing Pixar to own computer animation. (Disney later bought Pixar.)

“It’s the hardest strategic decision Nintendo has had to face in a long time,” says Robbie Bach, the former head of Microsoft’s Xbox business. “Would Mario on an iPhone be an interesting property? I think yes, it would.”

Mr. Fils-Aime says that won’t happen, arguing that Nintendo’s approach is the best way for it to create unique games. “That’s the business decision we’ve made,” he says, though he adds that the company may allow people to buy its games through mobile phones and have them delivered to their Nintendo devices.

While it’s not unusual for sales of a particular game console to sag over time, the decline for Nintendo products in recent years has been especially brutal. The company lost 43.2 billion yen, or about $530 million, in the fiscal year ended March 31, after sharply reducing the price of a new portable game console, the Nintendo 3DS, in an effort to bolster sales. (Results were also hurt by a strong yen.) Its revenue was about a third of what it was three years earlier, when sales of the Wii and a portable device, the Nintendo DS, were booming.

“That was a magical moment,” says John Taylor, an analyst at Arcadia Investment, referring to Nintendo’s high point a few years ago. “The market has now moved on from that. I don’t think people view an integrated tablet within the Nintendo ecosystem as nearly as impactful.”

Another worrisome trend for Nintendo is that the old way of pricing and selling games seems broken. In a rocky economy, it’s harder to persuade people to spend $50 to $60 — what titles typically cost for Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft systems — to buy a game. The Wii U itself starts at $300, versus $250 for the original Wii.

Cellphones and tablets have given people a nearly bottomless supply of games that typically cost a few dollars at most. Web and Facebook games are usually free, with the option to buy, say, a faster car or another virtual item that enhances the game. Industry veterans argue that you get what you pay for: mobile and Facebook games that are shallow entertainment experiences, compared with those of console games.

Mobile games are also instantly accessible online — and while it takes seconds to start a game on a smartphone or tablet, it can take minutes to get a console up and running after turning on all of the relevant equipment.

* * * *

Mobile games have hurt sales of dedicated portable game devices from Nintendo and Sony, but analysts and game executives say they don’t think the threat stops there.

Mitch Lasky, a veteran industry executive and now a venture capitalist at Benchmark Capital, says he has walked into his living room, which is brimming with all the major game consoles, a library of new titles and a 60-inch plasma TV, only to find his children crowded around an iPhone playing Temple Run, an app-powered game available free.

“They were very much more interested in the immediacy of the mobile experience,” says Mr. Lasky, who has funded several online games companies. “I’m looking at the $60 game the way I am a big-budget Hollywood movie. Yeah, I’m buying three or four a year — Call of Duty, Uncharted — but for the equivalent of television, I’m going to mobile platforms and free-to-play.”

Mr. Fils-Aime says game developers can offer free games for the Wii U that generate revenue through the sale of virtual items. Sony, too, is allowing that approach with games for the PlayStation 3, and it is expected that Microsoft will more seriously embrace it as well.

It’s likely that Nintendo will eventually face a more direct challenge in the living room from the same technology companies that have reshaped the mobile games business. Amazon, Apple and Google are all strong contenders to be in that camp, given their innovation track records. None have yet developed direct console competitors that have serious game-playing capabilities.

Still, Nintendo has overcome the odds before. Mr. Bach, the Microsoft ex-executive, says he doesn’t underestimate the company. “I’ve learned not to count the Nintendo guys out,” he says.

post #83518 of 93716
TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
SUNDAY Network Primetime Options
(All shows are in HD unless noted; start times are ET)

7PM - America's Funniest Home Videos
8PM - Once Upon A Time
9PM - Revenge
10:01PM - 666 Park Avenue

7PM - 60 Minutes
8PM - The Amazing Race
9PM - The Good Wife
10PM - The Mentalist

7PM - Football Night in America (80 min., LIVE)
8:20PM - NFL Football: Green Bay Packers at New York Giants (LIVE)

7PM - NFL Football: Regional Coverage (LIVE, continued from 4:25PM)
7:30PM - The OT (LIVE)
8PM - The Simpsons
8:30PM - Bob's Burgers
9PM - Family Guy
9:30PM - The Cleveland Show

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Downton Abbey Revisited (90 min.)
9:30PM - Downton Abbey Revisited (90 min.)

7PM - Aquí y Ahora
8PM - Festival Acapulco: Joan Sebastián (90 min.)
9:30PM - Fuerza Comando (90 min.)

7PM - Movie: Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008)
9PM - Yo Me Llamo (120 min.)
post #83519 of 93716
Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Nov. 25, 2012

PBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

Season 3 of Downton Abbey, featuring Shirley MacLaine, doesn’t premiere until next year – okay, January 6, but still, it’s a wait. In the meantime, here’s a new special, a retrospective that will remind fans what we’ve been missing, and initiate newcomers to what’s about to come. Angela Lansbury hosts. Check local listings.

CBS, 9:00 p.m. ET

Last week, Judd Hirsch guest starred as a judge, and gave a typically complex, captivating performance. This week’s new episode presents another guest star who can be counted on to provide the same: Stockard Channing, playing Veronica, the meddling mother of Julianna Margulies’ Alicia. This is her first appearance, but I’m already betting she’ll make more.

AMC, 9:00 p.m. ET

Last week’s episode was a strong and pivotal one, taking several formerly disparate story lines – the prison, the Governor’s compound, the nomadic Michonne, Daryl and his brother – and weaving them, like a DNA strand, into one. And it left us with Rick, coming off a mental crisis that was cleverly scripted, staring through the prison fence at a wounded, wordless Michonne. But when she does speak, it’ll lead to a collision of the two camps, and, perhaps, to the two brothers.

Lifetime, 9:00 p.m. ET

This is not a recommendation in terms of quality – but this new Lifetime telemovie is fascinating in its own creepy way. It stars Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor, and Grant Bowler as Richard Burton. Bowler is convincing in the part, but Lohan isn’t, not for a second. And that becomes fun to watch, in a way, especially when the 1960s show-biz romance wallows in knowing allusions to the present. When the celebrity supercouple is chased by photographers, Lohan’s Taylor shrugs them off as a temporary nuisance. “They’ll find someone else to stalk,” she tells Burton. “You think?” he asks. Drolly, Taylor replies: “Yeah, I think.” And so they have. And while Lohan doesn’t improve her image with Liz & Dick, it has its moments, or at least its seconds. It’s written by Christopher Monger, who wrote the screenplay for one of the best telemovies in recent years, HBO’s Temple Grandin. For a full review, see Ed Bark’s Uncle Barky’s Bytes.

Showtime, 10:00 p.m. ET

Last week’s episode ended with a cliffhanger that left us up in the air – or close to it, as Brody (Damien Lewis) was driven to a remote wooden clearing, with a helicopter appearing from nowhere. Its passenger? The elusive, manipulative and very dangerous Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban).

post #83520 of 93716
TV Sports/Business Notes
Fox Closing Deal For Dodgers’ TV Rights: Paying New Owner $6B-$7B For 25 Years; ‘We’re Out’ If Not Done By Nov. 30
By Nikki Finke, Deadline.com - Nov. 24, 2012

EXCLUSIVE: It seems strangely logical that the highest-priced sports team in the world is about to score the richest TV deal ever in pro sports history. Insiders tell me that Fox Sports is close to clinching the exclusive TV rights for the Los Angeles Dodgers by paying between $6 billion and $7 billion over 25 years to put the team on its regional sports network in Southern California and of course its national Fox Broadcasting Company. Fox already shows the games on its Prime Ticket local cable channel but also has Fox Sports West here.

The previous agreement expires at the end of next season, and saw Fox Sports paying only about $40 million per season for the Dodgers TV rights. There was speculation the final price would just go north tof $150 million per season. This new deal soars to $280 million per season (the average for the life of the contract). The huge outlay by News Corp demonstrates the increasing value of sports to its bottom line, while the huge payday for Guggenheim offsets the record-setting $2.15 billion price paid for the Dodgers.

But the sheer greed of Guggenheim’s ask on this new deal is staggering, especially when you consider it will all get passed down to the cable systems, advertisers, and ultimately consumers. The alternative for Guggenheim included higher ticket prices which would serve to only further alienate fans. Plus the new owners claim to need the money to bribe talented players to come to the mediocre Dodgers. And then there’s the sad fact that Major League Baseball teams are shifting from broadcast TV to cable networks – so fewer games will be available on free TV. Fox Sports expects to broadcast only one or two Major League Baseball games a week for the national audience next season.

Guggenheim and Fox Sports began preliminary talks in May. Then Fox Sports Media Group Co-President/COO Randy Freer enjoyed a 45-day exclusive negotiating window with Guggenheim Baseball Management’s Todd Boehly, the president of private equity firm Guggenheim Partners who was negotiating solo for the Dodgers owners. (Those owners also include former Los Angeles Lakers star turned mega-investor Magic Johnson, former Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten and Mandalay Entertainment CEO Peter Guber.) Those talks began October 15th and are set to expire on November 30th. My insiders think, barring any unforeseen obstacles, the Fox-Dodgers deal could clinch by Tuesday. If it doesn’t get done by the 30th deadline, Boehly will have blown the negotiations bigtime.

I’m told a deal came “very close” to being done about a week ago “and then it went a little bit south”. To rattle Guggenheim’s cages, Fox Sports delivered an ultimatum that a deal had to be done by the end of this month or else it would stop negotiating. (Terms like “It’s dead” and “We’re out” were used.) The Fox Sports gambit worked. Because it would have left Guggenheim in a terrible situation without multiple bidders and with little leverage for next-in-line Time Warner Cable since CBS, Comcast/NBC, ABC/ESPN and even the MSG Network (controlled by the owners of Cablevision) never materialized. Of course, Guggenheim could have opted for the Dodgers to start its own network, as the Mets and Yankees have done. But big rewards come with big risks.

Also, in the middle of the run-up to negotiations in early October, Guggenheim’s Boehly bought Dick Clark Productions and put on the table a “programming element” involving Fox Broadcasting Network and DCP. Specifically, it called for DCP to have “more inventory” i.e. more shows airing on Fox Networks, sources tell me. I’m told the provision has been “in and out and in” the deal over recent weeks but appears to be ‘in’ right now.

Freer really knows this business – he ran the Fox regional sports networks for nearly half a decade - and knows not to overpay. He’s not when you consider that the Dodgers will play 162 games when the season starts in April. And yet TV rights to the Lakers who play 82 games just sold to Time Warner Cable for $3B over 20 years. And Fox just paid $3B for 49% of the YES Network which owns TV rights to the New York Yankees for 20 years. Considering that Fox also has the right to own 80% of YES (and will surely exercise that option), then $6B-$7B for this Dodgers deal sounds about about right given the hyper-inflated finances of sports TV rights. In the era of DVR, Hulu, Netflix and other ways to watch TV, sports viewers (overwhelmingly male) watch live and therefore don’t always skip through ads.

This makes sports programming increasingly valuable. It also helps Rupert Murdoch move yet another step closer to that national sports channel which is his long-term play to rival ESPN – and as a result extract higher fees from cable and satellite companies. The deal also satisfies investor curiosity about what News Corp has planned for its $10B cash stockpiled last year to buy the remaining stake in British Sky Broadcasting - until that deal was scuttled because of Rupe’s tabloid phone hacking scandal.

I understand that News Corp Deputy Chief Operating Officer James Murdoch, who was key to the company’s YES Network bid, “helped a little” with the Dodgers deal. The scion is a big believer in the power of sports programming and in his newly expanded job James oversees News Corp’s television business, including its regional sports channels. Plus, News Corp is preparing to split off its troubled publishing assets into a separate publicly traded company from its entertainment giant which will continue to grow through acquisitions particularly in its regional sports and cable television businesses.

Fox Sports making this latest deal was both offensive and defensive. It’s not just ESPN whose the main rival. The last thing Fox Sports wants is to see Time Warner Cable snap up bigger pieces of local sports networks or national sports teams after it snagged the Lakers TV rights deal away from Fox for its new channel SportsNet. Indeed Time Warner Cable has stated publicly that “we absolutely plan to become competitive” in TV rights now that it’s launched both an English- and Spanish-language sports telecast.

Of course, it has to rile News Corp that it once owned the Dodgers from 1998 to 2004 after paying a mere $350 million for the team from the O’Malley family. Eventually, mismanagement took a $50 million a year toll on the team and owner, which then sold the Dodgers for $430 million to Frank McCourt, who earlier this year sold it to Guggenheim. At one time McCourt offered News Corp the team’s TV rights for a bargain basement price. Now, as one newspaper pundit put it, ”someone in News Corp’s accounting department with a long memory will probably be rolling his eyes”.

Whatever happens, TV rights prices won’t come down anytime soon unless ‘a la carte’ cable gets some semblance of traction in the courts or Congress and not just with consumers. And if that does ever happen, “the strong will survive, the weak will go,” one Big Media bigwig told me today very matter-of-factly.

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