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Hot Off The Press: The Latest TV News and Information - Page 2791

post #83701 of 93800
Technology/Washington Notes
CEA to FCC: Deny Charter Set-Top Waiver and Come Up With Standard
Says FCC should bite bullet and resolve issue through standard interface for directly attaching retail boxes to MVPDs
By John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable

The Consumer Electronics Association has asked the FCC to deny Charter's request for a waiver of the FCC's ban on integrated digital set-top boxes, calling its proposal a "nominal and partial 'solution' that cannot fairly be projected to work in the real world."

"There is no considered FCC precedent for the open-ended evisceration of this regulation," CEA said in comments to the FCC on Friday on Charter's request earlier this month for a two-year waiver of the prohibition. Charter says the waiver is necessary for the company to make the transition to all-digital networks and downloadable software-based security.

The FCC back in 2007 instituted the prohibition on set-tops that combine channel surfing with security. Cable ops were required to use a removable CableCARD security add-on, a move the FCC hoped would promote a retail market in boxes, though it conceded a downloadable software security option would be preferable to the hardware in the long run.

Charter pointed out that it has 2.75 million CableCARD set-tops deployed, so it has an incentive to continue to make sure its system works with the relative few CableCARDS -- 33,000 -- it says have been requested by customers for their retail boxes (the FCC has conceded that the prohibition has not led to a booming retail box market).

Charter said it plans to deploy boxes with a chip that would eventually be used for non-integrated downloadable security and one for traditional integrated security, said the FCC, to be used during the two-year transition period to downloadable security.

The FCC granted a similar waiver to Cablevision -- which CEA points out has now expired -- and has taken steps to promote the transition to all-digital cable, which frees up bandwidth for broadband, including lifting its ban on encryption of the digital basic tier. But CEA says no waiver is warranted.

It says the cable industry's promise of a downloadable security standard interface the functional equivalent of the CableCARD hardware has yet to materialize after years of promises, and that Charter's partially chip-based interim solution "affords access only to a single conditional access system, and only Charter systems are likely to be able to download software that uses the conditional access hardware in the chip."

And CEA says the argument that the chip is available for others to license, even on the best of terms, is moot if "(1) other cable operators do not use the system that requires it12 and (2) it does not employ technology that is actually portable across operators."

In any event, said CEA, the FCC should tackle the issue as a whole rather than through a piecemeal process of waivers. "If the FCC is to give any consideration to issues raised by Charter it should be in the context of a Commission rulemaking addressing the core issue that Charter purports to, but fails, to raise," said CEA, which is that "n an all-digital and IP-delivery era, the FCC needs to identify a new, secure, open, and nationally standard interface between MVPD services and retail devices."

The commission set a Nov. 30 deadline for comment on Charter's request and a Dec. 10 deadline for replies.

post #83702 of 93800
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 - Extreme Makeover: Home Edition SD (120 min.)
10PM - Castle
* * * *
11:35PM - Nightline (LIVE)
Midnight - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Howard Stern; Tracy Morgan; Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings perform)
(R - Oct. 30)

8PM - How I Met Your Mother
8:30PM - 2 Broke Girls
(R - Oct. 1)
9PM - 2 Broke Girls
9:30PM - Mike and Molly
10PM - Hawaii Five-0
* * * *
11:35PM - Late Show with David Letterman (John Krasinski; musicians Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones; Paloma Faith performs)
12:37AM - Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Seth MacFarlane; model Miranda Kerr; Richie Sambora performs)

8PM - The Voice (120 min., LIVE)
10:01PM - Blake Shelton's Not So Family Christmas (Special)
* * * *
11:35PM - The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (Gerard Butler; Olivia Munn; The Polyphonic Spree performs)
12:37AM - Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (Keira Knightley; musician Dave Matthews; Dave Matthews Band performs)
1:37AM - Last Call with Carson Daly (Danai Gurira; environmentalist Philippe Cousteau Jr.; Titus Andronicus performs)

8PM - Bones
9PM - The Good Doctor

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Antiques Roadshow: Baltimore, Maryland (R - Jan. 21, 2008)
9PM - Market Warriors
(R - Sep. 24)
10PM - Independent Lens: We Were Here (90 min.)
(R - Jun. 14)

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

8PM - 90210
9PM - Gossip Girl

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

11PM - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Denis Leary)
11:31PM - The Colbert Report (Sir Ian McKellen)

11PM - Conan (Chris Tucker; Sasha Alexander; Punch Brothers)

11PM - Chelsea Lately (Mae Whitman)
post #83703 of 93800
Critic's Notes
The Life Lessons Hidden in Reality TV
By Andrea Seigel, The New York Times' Sunday Magazine's 'Riff' Column - Dec. 2, 2012

1. “Survivor”

I watched the first episode of “Survivor” in the spring of 2000, thinking I would hate it. My natural inclination steers me toward the indoors not only in my actual life but also in the settings of the entertainment I read and watch. The two attractions I’m least likely to visit at Walt Disney World are the Swiss Family Treehouse and Tom Sawyer Island, and not just because each requires physical activity instead of sitting in an automated buggy. So I wasn’t very interested in watching a show about people trying to figure out how to start a fire, build shelters, knock down coconuts or spear fish.

By the end of the premiere, though, I was transfixed. Here was a show that pretended to be about physical endurance and exotic adventure — and that featured some rat roasting by the Pagong tribe that got the media pretty excited — but all of that was obviously just set dressing. What “Survivor” is really about is the inescapability of your being yourself, even when you have told yourself you can be someone different for 30 days.

In the first minutes of the first show, Richard Hatch, a corporate trainer whose livelihood revolved around the study of successful team building, was already failing at team building. He couldn’t handle not being in control of everyone. He sat on a downed tree stump and whined about how his group wouldn’t let him lead them in team-building exercises. The thing was, the rest of the tribe was already going ahead and acting as a team by preparing the camp. They were doing instead of talking, but Rich was an expert in talking, and it made him mental that his skills weren’t the ones bowling the others over.

And here’s the crux of the show: Hatch knew he had a problem with cockiness because he talked about it to the camera, saying, “That’s the kind of thing that I really gotta keep under wraps.” Yet he failed immediately. (Though to be fair, he was the show’s first winner.) Same with Rudy, a former member of the Navy SEALs who knew that the younger people making up a majority of his tribe weren’t going to understand his conservatism or his age. Right away he said, “I gotta fit in — not them.” And then he proceeded to behave like the stodgy codger he was.

This happens over and over again on the show, season after season, regardless of contestants’ professions, bank accounts or, most interesting, intelligence levels. Russell Hantz, arguably one of the wiliest players ever, still couldn’t figure out that in order to win, he needed to pretend to be humble for five minutes during his final speech. Last season, John Cochran, Harvard Law student and self-professed “Survivor” superfan, predicted great things for his game play because he’d spent so much time studying the show. And still, when the popular ringleaders of his tribe decided that he was unfunny and dorky, he couldn’t stop joking. He couldn’t conceal his dorkiest tendencies, not even a little. He was doomed to be who he had always been, even in this strange place among strangers.

If you’re going to make it as far as you personally can on “Survivor,” I think the very best preparation you can do before leaving is to ask your friends, family and co-workers, “Hey, what do you think are my most annoying qualities?” Learn to truly see yourself, especially everything that’s unpleasant. Then sign up for acting classes and learn how to pretend to be a person who doesn’t have those unpleasant qualities.

I understand how hard it is to force yourself to be someone different. By the end of high school, I had taken to doing my math homework up against a concealed wall during lunch because I was tired of socializing. When I left for college, I told myself that this was a chance for reinvention. No one on the other side of the country knew that I was an introvert, so maybe if I tried not acting like an introvert, I wouldn’t be one. The first night I moved into my dorm room, I forced myself to leave the door open, and I put music on so people passing by would poke in their heads and say hi. I tested out what I imagined to be an open and friendly kind of expression in the closet mirror. And then after the first person stopped in and wanted to go over my CD collection with me, I shut the door and got into bed. The difference is, I wasn’t trying to win a million dollars.

2. “The Bachelor”

Just as “Survivor” isn’t really about enduring life on a deserted beach, “The Bachelor” isn’t really about dating or marriage. It pretends to be about romance by using props like red roses and satin evening wear and shimmering-wet driveways so that it looks as if the mansion just got hit by a John-Cusack-movie rain, but it’s really about science — which you might even think of as the opposite of romance, especially if you aren’t a scientist. In fact, if “Survivor” is about being unable to escape who you really are when you’re dropped into uncomfortable conditions, then I would say that “The Bachelor” is about forgetting who you really are when everybody around you gets lost in the same overpowering fiction. The show is this generation’s Stanford Prison Experiment.

“The Bachelor” is the prison guard, and his potential fiancées are the inmates. I’m not suggesting that the dynamic is inherently abusive, although it can be — this past season, Bachelor Ben would shut down any woman who expressed fear of his rejection, which was especially weird, seeing as how he was rejected himself during the previous “Bachelorette” season while down on bended knee.

From the first night of the season, the producers keep the alcohol flowing, and the contestants stay awake until it’s nearly sunrise, working hard to get the attention of one person. One person who has generally been pretty lackluster. With every new season, people complain that “The Bachelor” has proved to be a terrible model for building lasting relationships, which is like complaining that politicians are just trying to win votes. The show could improve its track record only by setting out to make matches between S.-and-M. partners.

I’ve always believed that if you’re truly in love with someone, you shouldn’t be able to answer the question “What do you love about him?” with any kind of real satisfaction. The things you’re able to articulate should leave you at least a little hollow. Contestants on “The Bachelor” will usually have to answer this question for his family, and there will be the usual adjectives like “kind” and “generous” and “funny.” It’s not that I think anyone is intentionally lying, but that they’re describing traits that belong to the set of circumstances more than the person. “The Bachelor” is kind because he has no reason not to be; if he becomes disillusioned with you, he can just send you home. He’s generous because he has a production team purchasing intense, expensive experiences for your dates. He’s funny because you’ve both been flown to a charming village in Switzerland and a funny little cow wandered up behind your picnic. If you want to insist that the show is about falling in love, then it’s more accurate to say it’s about falling in love with being on vacation.

I became especially fascinated with the 13th season of the show, when Jason Mesnick first proposed to Melissa in the finale, then decided that he was really in love with the runner-up, Molly, by the time of the update special. What happened with Melissa during those six weeks of engagement? “The conversations, which were so great on the show, were completely different,” Jason tried to explain. What I think he was really saying was, So we went to a movie in a normal theater. With other people around us. With bad popcorn. Walking out of the theater, she said, “That’s my new favorite movie!” I thought to myself, Really? That movie? And in that moment, I realized that was going to be our whole lives.

3. “Say Yes to the Dress”

If you were more interested in watching a show about people who have become too familiar with one another, then I would point you toward TLC’S “Say Yes to the Dress.” It doesn’t really matter if you go with the original in New York or the spinoff in Atlanta unless you have a strong regional-accent preference.

At first my boyfriend — who’s actually my fiancé, except I can’t stomach that word — asked, “How can you sit through marathons of a show about trying on barely different white dresses?” but then he watched a couple of episodes, and he saw that “Dress” isn’t about dresses. The wedding gowns function pretty much like the ocean views on “Survivor”; they’re a fancy background. The show is about the trouble with family (and here I’m including more symbolic families like groups of friends and sorority sisters), which is that psychological entanglement can keep loved ones from being able to separate their desires from your own.

The bride’s companions will say they’ve come because they want to ensure she ends up in a dress that makes her happy. That’s the idealized notion the families have about the purpose they serve. But then the bride will come out beaming in a gown that differs from a mental image her support system had of what she should be, and practice diverges from theory. On an episode of the Atlanta series, the bride, Allison, emerged in a bedazzled gown she described as being “everything I’ve always envisioned.” She was truly happy. Stone-faced, her mom said, “What [Allison] thinks she might want and ends up getting can be very different.” Allison’s aunt, sister and bridesmaids pulled faces as if she were modeling a sheath made of squirrel hides. Her mom told her, “This is not a flattering dress,” when what she really meant was, “This is not the traditional dress I had in my head.” I didn’t even know Allison, and I could easily see how crushed she was by their responses. She left the store without buying a gown, but the defeat was bigger than just a gown. It was a collapse of self-actualization under the guise of familial concern, protection and love.

My favorite part of the show, and also the part of the show that makes me the most nuts, is the “jacking up” of the bride. If a family can’t get onboard with the dress that makes the bride cry, then the consultants give her a veil or, if things are really dire, a veil with crystals. The bride will put back on the same dress that the whole group loathed five dresses ago. But now she has on a bedazzled veil. I mean, it’s shiny. But this is the exact item that’s needed for her entourage to finally start crying, too. Ten minutes ago they were telling her she looked dumpy and would regret her decision for a lifetime, and now this dress is the one, the only one. They can’t stop seeing the girl they’ve always known until she has been put into a full-blown costume. And in these moments I am presented with a metaphor for familial relationships so powerful I always end up yelling at the TV as if it holds all my relatives.

post #83704 of 93800
Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

Technology/Washington Notes
CEA to FCC: Deny Charter Set-Top Waiver and Come Up With Standard
Says FCC should bite bullet and resolve issue through standard interface for directly attaching retail boxes to MVPDs
By John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable
It says the cable industry's promise of a downloadable security standard interface the functional equivalent of the CableCARD hardware has yet to materialize after years of promises, and that Charter's partially chip-based interim solution "affords access only to a single conditional access system, and only Charter systems are likely to be able to download software that uses the conditional access hardware in the chip."
And CEA says the argument that the chip is available for others to license, even on the best of terms, is moot if "(1) other cable operators do not use the system that requires it and (2) it does not employ technology that is actually portable across operators."
In any event, said CEA, the FCC should tackle the issue as a whole rather than through a piecemeal process of waivers. "If the FCC is to give any consideration to issues raised by Charter it should be in the context of a Commission rulemaking addressing the core issue that Charter purports to, but fails, to raise," said CEA, which is that "in an all-digital and IP-delivery era, the FCC needs to identify a new, secure, open, and nationally standard interface between MVPD services and retail devices."
The commission set a Nov. 30 deadline for comment on Charter's request and a Dec. 10 deadline for replies.

Bolded for emphasis. Charter is trying to do an end-run around CableCard and create their own downloadable security 'standard', just like all the other MSOs are doing with their own IP implementations (TV Everywhere etc.). The FCC hasn't had the balls so far to come up with anything resembling a standard for open IP-based delivery of video. They just issued another waiver until 2014 (kicking the can down the road) so the MSOs can try and work something out with DLNA, but that's been poorly implemented so far.

In other words, they're not doing their job after the MVPDs told them to go stuff their AllVid proposal. And none of the IP standards, if any, would apply to sat and U-Verse customers - they have to live with whatever they get.

post #83705 of 93800
Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Dec. 3, 2012

CBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

In order to stop thinking about Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) once and for all, Robin (Cobie Smulders) decides to seduce him and get him out of her system. And if ambushing him in public at the laser-tag arcade doesn’t work, maybe ambushing him in private will. Works for me.

ABC Family, 8:00 p.m. ET

Parts of this 1989 comedy, starring Chevy Chase, are genuinely funny. It’s also funny, in a different sense, to watch Randy Quaid when he was acting crazy only on screen.

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Diana Serra Cary got her first big break at 19 months, becoming an actress in silent films and becoming, along with Jackie Cooper, one of the most popular child stars in the then-young history of Hollywood. As “Baby Peggy,” the youngster was such a phenomenon that, in 1923 alone, she later claimed to have gotten 1.7 million pieces of fan mail. This 2011 one-hour biography tells her story – and, as TCM usually does, follows the documentary with some of the films covered in the nonfiction study. First up, at 9 p.m. ET: Captain January, a 1924 silent film later remade, in 1936, by another young actress who did okay for herself as a screen star: Shirley Temple.

NBC, 10:01 p.m. ET

Blake Shelton has a not-so-hidden motive for headlining this new NBC holiday special: to promote his recent holiday CD, Cheers, It’s Christmas. Along for the ride are several singer who have served as mentors for his teams of contestants on The Voice – Miranda Lambert (naturally), as well as Kelly Clarkson and Reba McEntire. Appearing, too, is a fellow judge from The Voice, but the one judge who isn’t a fellow: Christina Aguilera.

CBS, 12:37 a.m. ET

Question: What has an exposed skeleton, a one-man band, and a dancing horse on standby? Answer: This week, Craig Ferguson. Joining the omnipresent skeletal sidekick Geoff Peterson and the occasionally present guys-in-costume Secretariat, for this week’s shows, is guitarist Richie Sambora, who has agreed to act as the Late Late Show house band all week. Now all Craig needs is a matinee lady, like Johnny Carson’s Art Fern used to have, and he’s all set. Might I suggest frequent guest Kristen Bell?...

post #83706 of 93800
Originally Posted by NetworkTV View Post

I'd say processing power, memory speed and imager size are just as much of a barrier. That's a lot of data to process in such a little device and those little imagers will get quite noisy trying to process all that data at full frame rates. There's a reason why 4K cameras are still big shoulder cams.
Though far from perfect, this shows a smaller 4k camera is possible. I don't expect 4k in the next camera phone iterations, but technological advances do not seem to be slowing. Moore's Law seems to be still in effect - at least for now. Small inexpensive optics may be a greater challenge. It may not be that long until HD becomes the new SD and AVS will need a new section.
post #83707 of 93800
Time Warner Cable CEO Says It’s Time To Thin The Cable Channel Herd

post #83708 of 93800
Originally Posted by Nayan View Post

Time Warner Cable CEO Says It’s Time To Thin The Cable Channel Herd

"There are too many networks… There are a lot of general-interest networks that have lower viewership, and the industry would take cost out of the system if they shut those networks down and offered lower prices to consumers… "

Given that TWC has just increased equipment fees in my area I highly doubt Glenn Britt would be as altruistic as he appears. Could it be that TWC's infrastructure and their crappy SDV service just can't handle the amount of HD networks appearing?

Considering I was watching District 9 last night on BBCA and the channel blacked out again half way through the movie due to another SDV failure, I would edge towards the latter explanation.
post #83709 of 93800
How about al a carte? Let me buy what I want.
post #83710 of 93800
That will only happen when the Internet is able to fully replace cable systems and TV networks, which won't be for some time. Bundles are what make offering TV service lucrative for cable companies, and many of the channels would die without subscribers subsidizing them by buying expensive packages that include both popular and unpopular channels.
post #83711 of 93800
Legal Notes
Disney Denied New ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ Trial
By Dominic Patten, Deadline.com - Dec. 3, 2012

Looks like Disney has hit a legal brick wall in the $319 million Who Wants To Be A Millionaire case. The company today was denied a new trial in the matter by the three-judge 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. In their order Monday, the trio rejected efforts of “the Disney affiliates” — ABC, Buena Vista TV and Valleycrest Productions — to appeal U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips’ initial December 2010 denial of an appeal in the case. “We are extremely disappointed with the decision, as ABC and Buena Vista Television continue to believe that they fully adhered to the Millionaire agreement,” a Disney spokesman told Deadline. Citing “a cascading series of errors” in the original 2010 case, Disney was seeking a new trial in hopes of overturning the $319 million Millionaire creators Celador was awarded. In 2010, a jury agreed with Celador that Disney breached the contract between the company and the company’s TV divisions. Despite the likes of Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger taking the stand, the Riverside, CA jury awarded Celador $269 million in damages; Phillips added $50 million in pre-judgment interest. Disney lawyers said from the very beginning they would appeal.

UK production company Celador International originally filed suit against Disney in 2004, claiming that Disney and its TV subsidiaries had engaged in slight-of-hand deals to deny the creators of the international Who Wants To Be A Millionaire franchise their fair share of profits from the U.S. version of the show. In December 2010, Philips refused Disney’s bid to overturn the verdict. That denial led to Disney arguing their case before the judges in early October.

post #83712 of 93800
SUNDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insight's Blog
post #83713 of 93800
Nielsen Overnights (18-49)
Bump for ABC’s ‘Revenge’ and ‘Park Avenue’
Winter finales rise 9 percent and 17 percent, respectively
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - Dec. 3, 2012

ABC’s strategy of calling last night’s episodes of its Sunday night scripted lineup their “winter finales” seemed to pay off.

By turning the night into an event, the last time to see the scripted series before they morphed into holiday repeats, ABC drew in more viewers.

“Once Upon a Time” finished as the night’s top scripted series while “Revenge” and the already-canceled “666 Park Avenue” saw ratings gains.

“Time” averaged a 3.1 adults 18-49 rating at 8 p.m., according to Nielsen overnights, even to last week and the No. 3 overall show of the night, behind NBC’s dominant-as-usual “Sunday Night Football” and CBS’s “60 Minutes,” which was boosted by a big NFL lead-in.

Lead-out “Revenge” rose 9 percent over last week to a 2.9 at 9 p.m., and “Park” bumped up 17 percent week to week to a still-weak 1.4.

That was against admittedly weak competition on Fox, where top shows “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” were reruns.

But no network could compete with NBC, which won its 10th straight Sunday night.

NBC led the night among 18-49s with a 5.3 average overnight rating and a 13 share. CBS was second at 3.2/8, ABC third at 2.1/5, Fox fourth at 1.7/4, Univision fifth at 1.1/3 and Telemundo sixth at 0.5/1.

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-six percent of Nielsen households have DVRs.

Also, ratings for NBC's and CBS’s NFL coverage are approximate as fast nationals measure timeslot and not actual program data.

CBS started the night in the lead with a 5.9 at 7 p.m. for NFL overrun (which lasted until 7:41 p.m.) and the start of "60 Minutes," followed by NBC with a 2.5 for "Football Night in America." ABC was third with a 1.6 for "America's Funniest Home Videos," Fox fourth with a 1.4 for a repeat of "Bob's Burgers" (1.3) and a new "The Cleveland Show" (1.6), Univision fifth with a 1.0 for a Mexican league soccer match, and Telemundo sixth with a 0.5 for the movie "The Medallion."

NBC took the lead at 8 p.m. with a 5.6 for NFL pregame and the start of "Sunday Night Football," while CBS and ABC tied for second at 3.1, CBS for the end of "Minutes" and start of "The Amazing Race" and ABC for "Once Upon a Time." Fox was fourth with a 1.9 for a rerun of "The Simpsons" (1.9) and a new "Bob's Burgers" (1.8), Univision fifth with a 1.2 for soccer, and Telemundo sixth with a 0.5 for its movie.

At 9 p.m. NBC was first with a 6.4 for football, with ABC second with a 2.4 for "Revenge." CBS was third with a 2.2 for the end of "Race" and start of "The Good Wife," Fox fourth with a 2.0 for a repeat of "Family Guy" (1.9) and a new "American Dad" (2.0), Univision fifth with a 1.2 for "America Celebra a Chespirito" and Telemundo sixth with a 0.5 for "Yo Me Llamo."

NBC led again at 10 p.m. with a 6.8 for football, followed by CBS with a 1.5 for the end of "Wife" and start of a rerun of "The Mentalist." ABC was third with a 1.4 for "666 Park Avenue," Univision fourth with a 1.2 for "Chespirito" and Telemundo fifth with a 0.5 for "Yo Me Llamo."

Among households, NBC finished first for the night with a 9.2 average overnight rating and a 14 share. CBS was second at 8.4/13, ABC third at 4.3/6, Fox fourth at 2.2/3, Univision fifth at 1.3/2 and Telemundo sixth at 0.6/1.

post #83714 of 93800
Nielsen Notes (Cable)
'Walking Dead' Has Huge Midseason Finale, Leads All Shows Except Football
By Tim Molloy, TheWrap.com - Dec. 3, 2012

"The Walking Dead" midseason finale Sunday scored a whopping 10.5 million total viewers, and finished its fall run ahead of everything else on television except for NBC's "Sunday Night Football," AMC said.

That would make AMC's zombie drama the first cable drama to beat its network competition in the fall. As TheWrap reported in October, the series has a legitimate chance to finish the 2012-13 TV season as the top-scripted show, beating juggernauts like "Modern Family" and "Big Bang Theory."

If its past ratings hold, "American Idol" is likely to top "The Walking Dead" overall. And "Sunday Night Football" finished last season as the top-rated show overall, and is likely to do so again.

In October, "The Walking Dead" premiered to a 5.8 rating in the key 18-49 demo, the highest rating for a scripted show in a year. Its first eight episodes for this season averaged a 5.32, the best average for any show this season except for "Sunday Night Football," AMC said.

But "Walking Dead" is locked in a close race with "Modern Family" and "Big Bang Theory," and may not end the fall season on top.

"Representing both the studio and the network as AMC does on this project, I speak for so many when I say 'thank you' and congratulations to everyone involved,” said Charlie Collier, AMC’s president. "The records that 'The Walking Dead' shattered today represent an enormous achievement of which we are so proud."


* * * *

Nielsen Notes (Cable)
'Boardwalk Empire' Season Finale Dips From Last Year
By Tim Kenneally, TheWrap.com - Dec. 3, 2012

HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" wrapped its third season down slightly from last year's Season 2 capper, but made up for it with repeated airings of the episode on Sunday night.

This year's finale drew in 2.7 million total viewers with its initial 9 p.m. airing -- off a bit from last season's finale, which pulled in 3 million total viewers with its initial airing.

Overall, the series -- which stars Steve Buscemi as corrupt Atlantic City political figure Enoch "Nucky" Thompson -- drew in 4.3 million total viewers over three airings Sunday night.

Sunday night's finale was also the season's most-watched episode since the season premiere, which drew 2.9 million total viewers.

post #83715 of 93800
Business Notes
Man Hunt: Telefutura Is Transformed Into UniMas
By Wayne Friedman, Media Daily News - Dec. 3, 2012

Another young-skewing Spanish-language network is getting a new name, as well as shifting its target audience: Univision's TeleFutura will become UniMás.

“UniMás will offer the new generation of Hispanic millennial trendsetters -- the Más Generation -- options for bolder content,” Cesar Conde, president of Univision Networks, said in a release.

Analysts say the network looks to grab more young male viewers in particular -- especially as it looks to add "more action, more drama and more sports than ever before" -- all in an effort to gain ground on Telemundo, the NBCUniversal network and second-biggest Spanish-language network after Univision.

NBCUniversal's Telemundo, also trying to get more male viewers, recently grabbed the Spanish-language rights to the 2018 World Cup, which begins airing matches in 2015.

Univision still has a commanding lead over other Spanish-language networks, averaging nearly 4 million prime-time viewers, per Nielsen. Telemundo was at 1.2 million viewers, with TeleFutura, around 60% of that number at just over 700,000.

Earlier this fall, NBCUniversal's Telemundo announced a major rebranding effort -- changing its logo, as well as starting a promo campaign with new commercials featuring network personalities. These promos run on A&E, Bravo, CNBC, Lifetime and MTV.

Univision's cable network Galavision has also been part of the makeover trend. Even Univision tweaked its logo and added a tagline: "The Hispanic Heartbeat of America."

TeleFutura will re-launch as UniMás on Jan. 7

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Nielsen Notes (Cable)
Discovery's 'Gold Rush' Outperforms Every Friday Series on Broadcast Nets
By Michael O'Connell, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Live Feed' Blog - Dec. 3, 2012

Cable's very good fall is making its way toward winter.

Catapulted by a season-high showing among adults 18-49, Discovery's Gold Rush bested all series on broadcast networks on Friday night, Nov. 30, with a 1.9 rating. Its closest competition, CBS' Undercover Boss, pulled a 1.8 rating in the key demo. (Gold Rush also dominated all English-language cable broadcasts, coming shy of only Univision's Amores Verdaderos.)

Gold Rush, Discovery's highest-rated series, has enjoyed an especially strong third season since premiering Oct. 26. In all of the male demos, it helped Discovery win Fridays throughout the November sweep. And in the targeted adults 18-49 group, the network even outperformed Fox.

The series, strong as it might be, owes Shark Tank a bit of a gratitude for its latest bragging right. The ABC reality competition is usually the night's top performer, but Friday's episode was a repeat.

In total viewers, Gold Rush bought in 4.6 million viewers.

Friday is now one of several nights seeing huge cable advantages over the broadcast networks. Sunday night's midseason finale of AMC's The Walking Dead blew everything but NBC's Sunday Night Football out of the water. On Tuesdays, Sons of Anarchy has been rivaling its broadcast competition at 10 p.m. -- much like A&E's surprise hit Duck Dynasty, which has performed similarly well in the same hour on Wednesdays.


* * * *

Nielsen Notes (Cable)
Bravo's 'Shahs' of Sunset' Returns to Series High of 2.3 Million Viewers

Just nine months after its series premiere, the second season of Bravo's Shahs of Sunset opened with a 106 percent boost over its Match launch.

Sunday night's inaugural broadcast from the series, produced Ryan Seacrest Productions, took in 2.3 million total viewers. That's up from the 1.1 million viewers it earned on March. 11. The series, which follows a group of Iranian-Americans living in Los Angeles, was also up from its most recent finale by 50 percent.

Shahs of Sunset grew steadily over its freshman run, finishing in April with 1.53 million viewers.

In the target adults 18-49 demo, Shahs was up from the series premiere by a similar margin. The episode marked a 102 percent jump to 1.4 million viewers in the key demo.

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TV Sports
CBS To Televise Live Boxing Match
Dec. 15 Cruz-Guevara Fight Part Of Seven Fights To Air On CBS And Showtime
By R. Thomas Umstead, Multichannel News - Dec. 2, 2012

Broadcast network CBS on Dec. 15 will televise its first live boxing match in 15 years as it teams with Showtime to offer seven live fights throughout the day.

Showtime Boxing on CBS will air an afternoon fight between undefeated International Boxing Federation bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz and fellow unbeaten challenger Alberto “Metro” Guevara, according to network officials. The telecast – the first live boxing event for CBS since a 1997 Bernard Hopkins-Glen Johnson middleweight championship fight –will also feature the pro debut of 2012 United States Olympian Joseph “Jo-Jo” Diaz Jr.

Later that evening, Showtime will televise live the Amir Khan/Carlos Molina welterweight fight, while Showtime Extreme will air several as yet determined preliminary fights, according to network officials.

“We are proud to deliver one of today’s most exciting fighters in Leo Santa Cruz, taking on an undefeated challenger in Alberto Guevara, to a broadcast television audience,” said Showtime Sports executive vice president and general manager Stephen Espinoza said in a statement. “Coupled with the pro debut of Olympian Jo-Jo Diaz on CBS and the evening’s Showtime Championship Boxing event makes December 15 a very special day for boxing.”

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Originally Posted by Aleron Ives View Post

That will only happen when the Internet is able to fully replace cable systems and TV networks, which won't be for some time. Bundles are what make offering TV service lucrative for cable companies, and many of the channels would die without subscribers subsidizing them by buying expensive packages that include both popular and unpopular channels.

According to Mediapost, all these Billion Dollar Plus Contracts that the Cable nets have signed with College and Pro Sports are going to be passed on to Pay-TV Subscribers inb the form of higher subscription fees, to the tune of 40% in the next three years. mad.gif I'm certain this will only lead to an further decline in subscribers, as people will decide it's no longer worth paying for. With more and more Sporting Events that were once available on Free TV migrating over to Pay-TV, this Nation will further deteriorate as the gap between the haves and the have-nots continues to widen. How much more before the whole system gives out:?
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Business/TV Notes
Charter Communications Chief Says He Also May Axe Cable Channels: UBS Confab
By David Lieberman, Deadline.com - Dec. 3, 2012

Charter’s Tom Rutledge didn’t make the point as forcefully as Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt did this morning. But asked whether he might follow his colleague who vowed to cut underperforming cable channels Rutledge told the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference that “we’re looking at similar kinds of savings.”

The current system that requires viewers to pay for channels that they don’t watch “is perfection if you’re a content company.” Yet Rutledge says that Charter is “in the same position” as Time Warner Cable — and other pay TV providers — grappling with rising outlays for programming. It’s “a real issue” that “puts pressure on the business and pressure on more unique kinds of content,” Rutledge says.

Beyond that, the Charter chief says he’s eager to bring digital efficiency to a company that’s been “abused” by financial problems. It briefly filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009. Speaking of the quality of his systems, Rutledge says that “in some places its Taj Mahal and in other places it’s not.” Satellite companies have more customers than Charter does in its territories.

The CEO hopes to change that by going all digital, and storing program guide and other data in a server instead of set-top boxes. That would save money, and enable Charter to easily update information and software. “When you look at an iPad and watch television on it, it’s [in effect] a set top box and a TV.”

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TV Notes
'Ink Master,' Tattoo Nightmares' Renewed by Spike TV
By Tim Kenneally, TheWrap.com - Dec. 3, 2012

Spike TV has inked new seasons of "Tattoo Nightmares" and "Ink Master," the network said Monday.

"Ink Master," which is hosted up by tatted-up Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro and pits budding tattoo artists against each other as they vie for skin-art glory, has been given a 13-episode order for a third season. The new season will premiere in summer 2013.

"Tattoo Nightmares," meanwhile, has been granted a 26-episode second season. The series, which premiered in October, features a crew of tattoo artists who attempt to cover up people's ill-considered tattoos. The second season will also premiere next year.

Both series have proven to be ratings winners for the network, with "Ink Master" averaging 1.8 million viewers per episode so far this season. "Tattoo Nightmares," meanwhile, has averaged 1.5 million total viewers in its maiden season.

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TV Notes
Howard Stern to return as judge on 'America's Got Talent'
By Hillary Busis, EW.com's 'Inside TV' Blog - Dec. 3, 2012

The King of All Media has made it through to the second round.

NBC announced today that the shock jock will return next year for another tour of duty on America’s Got Talent. Stern joined the show this past summer, taking a seat beside fellow judges Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel.

“Howard Stern’s towering presence and opinions on last season’s show as a new judge made a dramatic impact and added a sharper edge to the fascinating developments on stage.” NBC’s president of alternative and late night programming Paul Telegdy said in a statement. “We know that Howard believes in America’s Got Talent — which remains America’s top-rated summer series — and that dedication comes across in a genuine way to our viewers who share his passion about our amazing talent competition.”

A pair of dog trainers and their cuddly canines won AGT‘s seventh season, which wrapped in September. Auditions for season 8 are currently being held; check the program’s website for more information.

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TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
TUESDAY 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 - Shark Tank (Special Time)
9PM - Happy Endings
9:31PM - Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23
10PM - Private Practice
* * * *
11:35PM - Nightline (LIVE)
Midnight - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (David Letterman; Vampire Weekend performs)
(R - Oct. 31)

8PM - Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Special)
(R - Dec. 10, 1964)
(R - Nov. 22, 2011)
10PM - The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show (Special)
* * * *
11:35PM - Late Show with David Letterman (Matt Damon; Martin Freeman; J.D. McPherson performs)
12:37AM - Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Reba McEntire; comic Keegan-Michael Key; Richie Sambora performs)

8PM - The Voice (LIVE)
9PM - Go On
9:30PM - The New Normal
10PM - Parenthood
* * * *
11:35PM - The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (Khloé Kardashian Odom; comic Adam Carolla; Matisyahu performs)
12:37AM - Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (TV host Michael Strahan; Bonnie Raitt performs)
1:37AM - Last Call With Carson Daly (Author Meghan McCain; "Next Stop for Charlie"; Family of the Year performs)

8PM - Raising Hope
8:30PM - Ben and Kate
9PM - New Girl
9:30PM - The Mindy Project

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - American Masters - Lenon, NYC (120 min.) (R - Nov. 22, 2010)
10PM - Frontline: Fast Times at West Philly High
(R - Jul. 17)

8PM - Por Ella Soy Eva
9PM - Amores Verdaderos
10PM - Amor Bravío

8PM - Hart of Dixie
9PM - Emily Owens, M.D.

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

11PM - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey)
11:31PM - The Colbert Report (Martin Freeman)

11PM - Conan (Amy Poehler; Kevin Pollak; Ke$ha)

11PM - Chelsea Lately (Guest host Kristin Chenoweth; Dwight Yoakam; Chris Franjola; Heather McDonald; Ryan Stout)
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Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Dec. 4, 2012

CBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

Yet another classic holiday special gets a prime-time rebroadcast. Tonight it’s the Rankin-Bass version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, made in 1964. Not one of the best, but certainly one of the most famous.

NBC, 9:31 p.m. ET

Here’s an unusual guest appearance, by a former TV star whose appearances of late are few and far between. Marlo Thomas, the daughter of Danny Thomas and the star of the proto-feminist Sixties sitcom That Girl, guest stars as a celebrity real-estate agent who befriends Jane (Ellen Barkin).

CBS, 10:00 p.m. ET

Rihanna, Justin Bieber and Bruno Mars provide the music, and the Victoria’s Secret models provide the scenery. Me, I watch for the articles.

NBC, 10:01 p.m. ET

Few TV series are dealing out joy and sorrow in such potent and even doses as Parenthood, which is having its best year yet. By now, all the characters are so fully delineated that it’s wonderful to spend time with any of them, no matter where those paths might lead. And tonight, it looks like Sarah (Lauren Graham) may be getting closer to Hank (Ray Romano) after all – and may be caught by Mark (Jason Ritter) as she’s doing it.

FX, 10:00 p.m. ET
There may or may not be a death in the SOA family in tonight’s season finale, but the number of characters who have people gunning for them, figuratively if not literally, is unusually high. Even for this high-octane, high-violence drama series. Charlie Hunnam stars.

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Critic's Notes
Matt Zoller Seitz's Top 10 TV Shows for 2012
By Matt Zoller Seitz, Vulture.com (New York Magazine) - Dec. 2, 2012

1. Mad Men (AMC)

A few scripted shows aired episodes as strong as the best of Mad Men’s fifth season, but none sustained such ambition, lyricism, and depth from week to week. Nearly every scene, line, and shot seemed keenly judged. The major themes (the waning of the Wasp Establishment in the face of the civil-rights movement and feminism; societal chaos manifested in threats of random violence; universal fears of aging, impotence, and death) were developed with a delicacy characteristic of great mid-century American fiction. At least five episodes were flat-out masterworks (“Signal 30,” “At the Codfish Ball,” “Far Away Places,” “Dark Shadows,” and “Commissions and Fees”), and the rest were so rich that, in retrospect, complaints seem like churlish nitpicks.

Throughout, showrunner Matthew Weiner and his collaborators served up indelible images, scenes, and sequences: Megan cooing “Zou Bisou Bisou” at Don’s surprise birthday party, writhing like a siren; Sally walking in on her step-grandma Marie with Roger; Roger’s LSD trip; the chillingly powerful “Tomorrow Never Knows” montage; Don staring into an abyss that he never imagined would open up; the loving yet deeply sad look on Joan’s face when Don stops by her apartment, too late to prevent her from going on that fateful date with the car dealer; a distraught Lane clutching his broken glasses while failing to start his Jaguar; Peggy stepping onto an elevator to the tune of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me,” her future hazy yet bright; Don’s climactic walk through a dark soundstage to the theme to You Only Live Twice, Megan receding behind him. Just thinking about this show makes me want to watch it again.

2. Luck (HBO)

HBO shut down this racetrack drama from David Milch and Michael Mann after a string of horse fatalities, and its loss still stings. Every episode featured brilliant writing and acting, and its philosophical complexity put other series to shame. It was headed for Deadwood-level greatness.

3. Louie (FX)

Louis C.K.’s fantasy memoir is a dramaturgical laboratory, and not every experiment works. But no current comedy is as consistently surprising, and season three’s best episodes—Parker Posey’s second appearance and the dreamlike finale—were stunners.

4. Breaking Bad (AMC)

The first half of this final season positioned Walter White as a diabolical chess master who had checkmated every comer; then it pulled the rug out with a scene promising an agonizing fall. This cliff-hanging gangster melodrama is always a half-step ahead of its audience.

5. Community (NBC)

This year, TV’s cleverest comedy crawled into its own navel and found untold treasures. Season closer “Introduction to Finality” ranked with the show’s best episodes and could have been a series finale (to some, it was, because it marked the departure of the show’s fired mastermind, Dan Harmon).

6. Treme (HBO)

David Simon’s New Orleans series distributes its attention among dozens of characters with such rigor that the phrase “ensemble drama” doesn’t do it justice. Its portrait of a community struggling after disaster is empathetic but never sappy.

7. Homeland (Showtime)

After season one, viewers wondered if Homeland could sustain its premise. Season two subverted expectations by mining domestic subplots and minute psychological details. Only the hit-and-run plot felt contrived, but even that yielded some wrenching moments.

8. Archer (FX)

The third season of this animated spy spoof kept topping itself in absurdity, but its clowning was matched by ever-more-inventive filmmaking. The action scenes are more intricately choreographed than anything in Skyfall.

9. Hatfields & McCoys (History)

A dark look at the roots of tribal warfare, set right here in the good old USA, this miniseries about America’s bloodiest family feud is a cautionary tale invoking seventies Westerns and featuring understated work by Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton.

10. Coma (A&E) and American Horror Story: Asylum (FX)

The former is a medical-conspiracy thriller that plunged its heroine (Lauren Ambrose) into increasingly freakish set pieces. The latter is the latest iteration of Ryan Murphy’s horror-comedy series: a campy psychodrama set in a mental hospital. Both proved the midnight-movie spirit is alive and well on TV.


Scene Stealer of the Year
Mykelti Williamson, Justified (FX).

Whether he was threatening underlings or preempting a shooting with his trusty meat cleaver, he was always disarming.

Comeback of the Year
The Walking Dead (AMC).

Last season was a preachy, tedious slog barely worth hate-watching. Season three was terrific: scary and terse, with a reenergized cast.

Nonfiction Series of the Year
The Dust Bowl (PBS).

Ken Burns investigates our worst ecological disaster, a tale of catastrophe and regeneration, told through the eyes of now-elderly witnesses.

Kids’ Show of the Year
Adventure Time (Cartoon Network).

Inspired by alternative comics, 1930s Max Fleischer shorts, and Hayao Miyazaki, this cartoon series from Pendleton Ward is as sweet as it is dazzling.


Worst New Comedy
Go On (NBC).

This Matthew Perry vehicle, about a widowed radio D.J. in therapy, is too chicken to go dark. It’s like a cutesy Robin Williams comedy about a crying-on-the-inside clown.

Worst New Drama
Revolution (NBC).

The post-apocalypse drama has zero imagination and a blockbuster budget squandered on second-hand sci-fi about pretty people bickering.

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Business Notes
Michigan Town Woos Hollywood, but Ends Up With a Bit Part
By Louise Story, The New York Times - Dec. 4, 2012

PONTIAC, Mich. — Even the great and powerful Oz could not save the film studio that was supposed to save this town.

The studio, a state-of-the-art facility fit for Hollywood blockbusters, had risen from the ruins of a General Motors complex here. It was the brainchild of a small group of investors with big plans: the studio would attract prestigious filmmakers, and the movie productions would create jobs and pump money into the local economy. A glamorous sheen would rub off on this down-on-its-luck town.

But in Pontiac, happy endings do not usually come Hollywood-style. The tale behind the studio, though, was cinematic in its own right, filled with colorful characters, calls from the White House and a starring role for Michigan’s taxpayers. Rounding out the cast was a big-budget Disney movie, “Oz: The Great and Powerful.”

It all started back in August 2007, when Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm met with Mike Binder, a Michigan-born actor and director who was lamenting the state’s lackluster program to award financial aid — otherwise known as film credits — to the movie industry. Ms. Granholm, an aspiring actress when she was in her early 20s, became determined to make Michigan competitive, she recalled.

Eight months later, the capital of the flailing auto industry became the capital of film tax credits. For every dollar spent locally, filmmakers would receive almost half back from Michigan. That sort of money turns heads at even the richest film studios, and word spreads fast. Janet Lockwood, the director of the state’s film office, said that a week after the enhanced credits were announced, she was besieged at a movie conference in Santa Monica, Calif., by “the baby studios to the big guys.”

Hollywood may make movies about the evils of capitalism, but it rarely works without incentives, which are paid for by taxpayers. Nationwide, about $1.5 billion in tax breaks is awarded to the film industry each year, according to a state-by-state survey by The New York Times.

Within two months, 24 movies had signed up to film in Michigan — up from two the entire year before. The productions estimated that they would spend $195 million filming there, and in return they would be refunded about $70 million in cash.

Before long, residents were rushing out on their lunch breaks to catch a glimpse of celebrities like Drew Barrymore, who was filming her movie “Whip It” in Ann Arbor, and Clint Eastwood, who was shooting “Gran Torino” in the Detroit area. Even Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called “Capitalism: A Love Story,” sought and received incentives.

A ‘No-Brainer’ for Michigan

It was a time when most financial news was bad. Housing prices plunged, and thousands of automobiles went unsold. Michigan was facing growing budget shortfalls, and some lawmakers who voted for the film credits soon began questioning whether the state could actually afford them.

In Pontiac, tax revenue plummeted as General Motors pulled out and workers left. Half of downtown was boarded up, and landlords accepted rent checks through slits in doors locked for safety. For some, Hollywood provided distraction and hope.

By 2008, a plan was being hatched for what would become the movie studio in Pontiac. The man behind it, Linden Nelson, was a well-connected local entrepreneur with a charismatic personality. He had made a name for himself by creating the removable key chain for valet parkers in the 1980s. His company later manufactured promotional trinkets for brands like AT&T and Harley-Davidson. In the late 1990s, Mr. Nelson found himself in the headlines when a fire broke out at his office in Beverly Hills, Mich. It was ruled accidental.

Mr. Nelson got the idea for the studio, he said, from his college-age son, who had heard that the Michigan tax credits were the talk of the Cannes Film Festival in France that year. Mr. Nelson soon met an old friend, Ari Emanuel, over coffee in Aspen, Colo., to discuss the idea. Mr. Emanuel was the force behind what would become William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, and his fast-talking, take-no-prisoners style had been immortalized in HBO’s “Entourage.” His brother Rahm would soon be named the chief of staff to President Obama.

Intrigued, Mr. Emanuel did not take long to sign on. “I’m, like, blown away by it,” he told a gathering of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce. “Not to use an L.A. phrase — I think this is a no-brainer for the state of Michigan.”

Motown Motion Pictures LLC was incorporated in May 2008, and two more partners came on board. One, John Rakolta Jr., had building expertise as the head of a commercial construction company. The other, A. Alfred Taubman, was a longtime friend of Mr. Nelson and a prominent investor who made billions building shopping malls nationwide.

Mr. Taubman is among the most generous donors to universities and institutions in Michigan and elsewhere. He went to prison for nearly 10 months in 2002 over price-fixing accusations related to Sotheby’s auction house, which his company owned. He has maintained that he was innocent.

When Mr. Taubman first visited the vacated General Motors site in Pontiac, he was brought to tears. “What happened to all the people?” he said, according to Mr. Nelson, who was at his side. “Where are the cars? What happened to their families?”

In early 2009, the four investors bought the property from G.M. for “virtually nothing,” said Mr. Rakolta. General Motors, which had just received a hefty federal bailout, “spent more on the carpet than we spent on this building,” he said.

The investors agreed that they would put in a total of $10 million to $12 million of their own money, according to the studio’s chief financial officer. They would pay for the rest — $70 million or so — using borrowed money and state and federal incentives. “Michigan’s current tax incentive program appears to be the largest competitive advantage for the company,” one studio document said.

Ms. Lockwood, the film commissioner at the time, said she visited Mr. Taubman’s office in early 2009. Over lunch served by a butler, Mr. Taubman filled her in on the plan. “He believed that there was money to be made,” she recalled.

A Town on the Ropes

In public, the investors extolled the studio as an altruistic effort on behalf of Pontiac. “I go into things to make money, but on this, I don’t really care,” Mr. Taubman told The Detroit Free Press. “I just want to help create jobs, and this can create 3,600 jobs.”

Pontiac desperately needed them. In March of that year, roughly one of every two residents was without work, according to federal data. Food pantries had record requests. Pontiac was consistently listed among the top 10 most dangerous cities by the F.B.I. The city had made national news when a group of teenagers approached homeless people on the street and beat them to death.

Ms. Granholm declared the city in a financial crisis in February 2009 and appointed an emergency manager, Fred Leeb. The city’s budget was $54 million a year, but it was overspending by an estimated $7 million to $12 million. Pontiac was also still weighted down by old incentives it had given to businesses like G.M.

The movie studio was an added challenge, since it was seeking financial incentives from the city — not to mention from other branches of the government. It won redevelopment tax credits from the federal government and separate aid from the state that included incentives for technology companies that hire residents.

Job creation became a point of contention with beleaguered Pontiac, which was being asked to waive virtually all property taxes for the studio. The investors claimed that thousands of people would be employed, but Mr. Leeb said that when he asked for job numbers to be written into the contract, the investors refused. “We started seeing some backpedaling,” said Mr. Leeb, who added that the negotiations featured “knock-down, drag-out fights.”

Mr. Nelson said he did not recall that request, but added that his company could not have guaranteed jobs anyway, since they were mainly supposed to be created by filmmakers renting out the studio.

Under pressure from the governor’s office, Mr. Leeb said he had little choice but to approve the investors’ requests.

Ms. Granholm announced the project in her 2009 State of the State address, saying she thought the industry would create a flood of new jobs. “It was very exciting,” recalled Ms. Granholm, a Democrat. “A classic transformation, the phoenix rising from the ashes. This plant in Pontiac — it was a really great moment for a community that really wanted and needed hope.”

That summer, as the studio moved forward, Mr. Nelson was in local headlines for a second fire, this one at his 23,000-square-foot lakefront home in Bloomfield Hills. The fire extensively damaged the home, and its cause was not determined. Mr. Nelson declined to discuss it.

Not long after, he and the other studio investors hit a major hurdle. They would be borrowing around $18 million in municipal bonds, but they needed someone to back them.

Over the objections of some local officials, the state agreed to use the state workers’ pension funds to guarantee the bonds. If the investors failed to pay, the retirees would be on the hook.

At the time of the deal, the governor was speaking regularly with Mr. Obama, who was negotiating the General Motors bailout. Edward B. Montgomery, who was leading the White House’s efforts on communities and workers affected by the automaker’s bankruptcy, was engaged on the studio plans.

Mr. Montgomery said in an interview that he had expressed support for the studio and other projects that he believed would help diversify Michigan’s economy. He said the studio’s investors received assistance from the Treasury Department to qualify for a federal tax credit program. Mr. Montgomery said he was unaware of the bond guarantee involving the state pension fund.

On July 27, 2010, the governor and other officials gathered for the studio’s groundbreaking. Also on hand were Hollywood players like Mr. Binder, a creator of HBO’s “The Mind of the Married Man,” who had been instrumental in persuading the governor to expand the film subsidies.

Mr. Nelson, the studio’s main impresario, talked up the job numbers on local radio that day and said the incentives were necessary. “It’s a very competitive landscape out there,” he said. “There are very, very competitive rebates going on with other states. People don’t realize this, but 40 states have some kind of rebate or another in this industry. It’s an industry that’s fought after.”

Even as Michigan celebrated the studio, the Motion Picture Association of America was facing criticism of the use of film credits in a report by a Washington tax research group. The film association estimated that the industry employs just over two million people and supports 115,000 businesses. The report, conducted by the nonprofit Tax Foundation, which opposes film incentives, said that states justified them using “fanciful estimates of economic activity.”

The Pontiac studio was complete by the summer of 2011. Its first big production moved in after being awarded about $40 million from the state — the largest single movie payout yet. The Disney “Oz” film was being directed by Sam Raimi, a Michigan native who made the recent “Spider-Man” movies.

Over the coming months, the studio’s seven stages were filled with a yellow brick road and a haunted forest. The designers planted live grass and built a huge waterfall and pond where James Franco, the star of the film, could land in a hot-air balloon. Perhaps the most elaborate set was the courtyard around the good witch Glinda’s castle, which took 75,000 hours of work to build and used $9 million worth of wood, according to Mr. Nelson.

Sahir Rashid, a 35-year-old production assistant and Detroit resident, said that walking into the studio had been overwhelming. It was his first time on a soundstage, and he was thankful that the state’s movie boom allowed him to give up construction work. “For me, the films saved my life,” he said. “It’s not a dead-end job. It’s actually a career.”

As for the crew and actors, “the majority of them I think were from L.A.,” said London Moore, a local actress. Ms. Moore was the body double for Michelle Williams, who was playing Glinda. “I went into this thinking these people were probably going to be stuck up, but they welcomed me with open arms. They are like a family to me.”

Film Jobs Prove Scarce

The studio had created only 200 positions by the summer of 2011, according to correspondence between the company and local officials. And when temporary construction workers were excluded from the tally, Pontiac’s records show, the studio reported only two employees in 2010 and 12 the next year. The studio’s chief financial officer said it had not been able to cash in on $110 million in tax credits that were contingent on creating jobs. But the studio did cash in on other credits, including $14 million for a “Film and Digital Media Infrastructure Investment Tax Credit,” he said.

As the “Oz” shoot was under way, Pontiac moved on to its third emergency manager, Louis Schimmel, and he was not a fan of incentives. A former municipal bond analyst, Mr. Schimmel spent decades warning Michigan towns against trading tax revenues for jobs. “I’m just about the biggest critic of these programs, because giving away the taxes of the city is so detrimental,” he said. “The money is needed for police, fire and trash pickup.”

Mr. Schimmel said Disney had offered to prepay its workers’ personal income tax to the city, but Pontiac declined. The city later had problems collecting some of the taxes because Disney operated through a separate business entity that was difficult to track down, he said.

“This is a glamorous industry if you want to talk about Hollywood, but it’s not very glamorous for the municipality that wants to collect something,” Mr. Schimmel said. Pontiac, he said, was outgunned.

Disney declined to comment. Mr. Nelson said the studio and Disney were responsive to the city.

Mr. Schimmel was not alone in his opposition to incentives. Michigan elected a new governor in 2010, Rick Snyder, a Republican who believed that it made better sense to lower taxes for all businesses. The governor’s budget director, John Nixon, said in an interview, “States harm themselves by competing on tax credits.” The governor quickly began reining in the program.

Almost immediately, filmmakers pulled out of Michigan. The change hit hard at “Hollywood-land in Pontiac,” as Mr. Nelson sometimes refers to his studio, now called Michigan Motion Picture Studios. He said the makers of “Iron Man 3” had been considering filming there but opted for North Carolina after Mr. Snyder slashed incentives.

When the bill for the studio’s bond interest came due in February this year, it paid only a portion, $210,000. The state pension fund had to pick up the remaining $420,000. Mr. Nelson said he and his partners would have made the payment if the state had not changed the tax credit program. “No one would have missed a bond payment,” he said. “No one would have missed anything.”

The situation is galling to even longtime government officials, who over the years have seen plenty of economic development deals fail. “Taubman could write the whole check for that himself,” said Doug Smith, an official at the state’s economic development agency. The state pension fund may “end up owning these studios,” he said.

One of the development agency’s board members is Mr. Rakolta, the construction executive who invested in the Pontiac studio. He and Mr. Nelson said in separate interviews that they had never considered personally paying for the bond interest. A deal is a deal, they said, and the state agreed to cover the bond. The studio’s chief financial officer said the investors already stood to lose twice as much as they originally intended to invest.

A spokesman for Mr. Emanuel said he was not willing to discuss the situation on the record. A spokesman for Mr. Taubman said he was unavailable.

In August, the studio defaulted on the entire $630,000 payment on the bond, despite a decision by Mr. Snyder to temporarily allocate some film incentives.

The investors are lobbying state lawmakers to put more money into the tax credits and have formed a political action committee. Donating to the PAC are the four investors; Mr. Emanuel’s agency, William Morris Endeavor; and the Teamsters union. To rally public support, the studio offers public tours. “Please don’t hesitate to contact your state representative,” Mr. Nelson tells visitors. “Tell them you’ve been here, you believe in it, so please appropriate enough money so it will work.”

Mr. Nelson said that if the state did not improve the incentives, the Pontiac studio would probably shut down. For now, the soundstages are empty. Filming wrapped up last month on a Warner Brothers movie called “Black Sky.” It is about a town ravaged by deadly tornadoes.

Lisa Schwartz contributed research.


* * * *


How Local Taxpayers Bankroll Corporations: The New York Times found that states, cities and counties give up more than $80 billion each year to companies. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/us/how-local-taxpayers-bankroll-corporations.html

Winners and Losers in the Lone Star State: Texas awards more incentives than any other state in the name of creating jobs. But questions arise over who is benefitting from the largess. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/03/us/winners-and-losers-in-texas.html
post #83726 of 93800
TV Notes
'Seinfeld' narrowly edges 'Honeymooners' as America’s favorite all-time TV sitcom, poll finds
By David Hinckley, New York Daily News - Dec. 3, 2012

Jerry 22, Ralph 20.

A “60 Minutes”/Vanity Fair poll finds that “Seinfeld” edges “The Honeymooners” as America’s all-time favorite TV sitcom.

Twenty-two percent voted for Jerry Seinfeld and his crew from the upper West Side, while 20% for Ralph Kramden and his Brooklyn posse.

“Friends” finished third with 16%, “Cheers” fourth with 14%, “Arrested Development” fifth with 7%, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” sixth with 6% and “30 Rock” brought up the rear at 5%.

But the real winner in the poll, published in the magazine’s new humor issue, might be an asterisk. The survey directed participants to a list of just those seven sitcoms.

(This is why, for historical rectification purposes, we have modestly compiled our own alternative list, where readers are invited online to consider more options.)

”60 Minutes” and Vanity Fair also polled readers on the funniest letter of the alphabet (“Q” edges “Z”) and asked whether they are more likely to forward videos of cats or babies to their friends.

According to respondents, no one forwards many of either.

In more serious comedy matters, the survey found Jay Leno beating David Letterman almost 2 to 1 among late-night entertainment hosts.

In response to the question “Which host is most likely to make you laugh?” Leno racked up 24% and 13% for Letterman, who barely edged Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien at 12% apiece.

Jimmy Kimmel had 8% and Craig Ferguson 5%.

Leno’s real competition was “none of the above,” with 22%.

The poll found most respondents think men are funnier than women and almost no one can identify Judd Apatow, a shaper of modern comedic taste with films like “Knocked Up,” “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Bridesmaids.”

On the flip side of the laugh coin, respondents declared DMV workers the most humorless, scoring 33% of the votes to 27% for airport workers, 20% for toll collectors and 9% for people who work nightclub doors.

Another asterisk: IRS workers were not on the ballot.

“Seinfeld,” the top sitcom, followed four droll and sometimes slightly off-center singles dealing with relationships and exasperation in 1990s Manhattan.

“The Honeymooners,” in contrast, was pure 1950s blue-collar Brooklyn, the story of bus driver Kramden (Jackie Gleason) and his sewer worker pal Ed Norton (Art Carney).

“Seinfeld” ran nine seasons, while “The Honeymooners” had only one formal season, with 39 episodes, though Gleason included “Honeymooners” sketches and specials in his variety shows .

Both shows became immortalized in reruns, where they remain today.

post #83727 of 93800
TV Notes
'The X-Files' Reboot? Executive Producer On Third Movie, Revival Prospects
By HuffingtonPost.com Staff - Dec. 3, 2012

Could "The X-Files" be getting a reboot? The truth might be out there. Frank Spotnitz, a former executive producer on the Fox series, thinks so.

In an interview with Den of Geek, Spotnitz said a reboot is possible.

"I wouldn’t be surprised at all," he said. "I mean, I don’t think I would have anything to do with it but you know, for better or for worse, these things are titles of big corporations, like 'Star Trek' belongs to Paramount and 'The X-Files' belongs to Twentieth Century Fox and it’s a huge asset in their libraries so I can’t imagine they would let it sit languishing forever ... Anything could happen. I just hope that if they do it, they do it well, that’s my only request."

Spotnitz revealed there's no script for the hyped third "X-Files" movie, starring Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, even though the two stars seem to be ready to reprise their roles. However, Spotnitz said the movie would be "the climax of the alien colonisation story that began the series."

In August, Anderson said she met with series creator Chris Carter and it was only a matter of convincing Fox to make it. Duchovny also said he was up for it in August 2012.

"I would love to do another film, or more," he told Collider. "I think we’re all game for it. I know I’m kind of perplexed that Fox isn’t more [enthusiastic]."

Anderson can next be seen in "The Fall," a BBC drama, and Duchovny in a new season of "Californication" premiering Sunday, January 13, 2013.

post #83728 of 93800
TV Notes
'The L.A. Complex' Not Renewed for Third Season by Canada's MuchMusic Channel
By Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter - Dec. 3, 2012

TORONTO – The CW drama The L.A. Complex isn’t getting a callback from Canadian broadcaster Bell Media for a third season.

That signals a possible end to the low-rated soap from Epitome Pictures about Canadians chasing the Hollywood dream.

The CW has made no decision on the future of the series on its channel as it holds crunch talks with the Canadian producer, according to sources.

Stephen Sohn, executive producer of Epitome Pictures, said the producer is "still exploring its options for the series," which include The L.A. Complex possibly landing on another Canadian network.

Bell Media ordered an initial six one-hours of The L.A. Complex and aired the soap on its MuchMusic channel, before The CW acquired the Canadian transplant for its schedule.

The Canadian broadcaster said that the ratings for the second season were well down from the first, leading MuchMusic to decide against a third season order.

The L.A. Complex was created and executive produced by Martin Gero, who wrote for HBO’s Bored to Death before returning to Canada to write the homegrown drama tailored for the U.S. market.

The series was sold to 170 territories outside Canada.

The ensemble cast included Jonathan Patrick Moore (Neighbours) as Connor, an Australian with a dark past, and Cassie Steele (Degrassi) as Abby, a Toronto girl looking to make it far from home.

The L.A. Complex was also executive produced by Linda Schuyler of Epitome Pictures.

post #83729 of 93800
Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

Business Notes
Michigan Town Woos Hollywood, but Ends Up With a Bit Part
By Louise Story, The New York Times - Dec. 4, 2012

Yep, Gov. Rick Snyder stamped out the one bright spot in the Michigan economy. But, you know what party those Hollywood types donate to, don't you?
post #83730 of 93800
Originally Posted by kjbawc View Post

Yep, Gov. Rick Snyder stamped out the one bright spot in the Michigan economy. But, you know what party those Hollywood types donate to, don't you?
Let's not get political, if we can. FWIW, it appears Michigan was giving more in tax credits than the studios were putting into the economy. Yeah, the productions created some jobs, but it would have been cheaper to just give those people a check. As one exec told me, without the tax cuts and with the unions, it's just as expensive here as it is in Hollywood, so back to Vancouver they went.
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