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Hot Off The Press: The Latest TV News and Information - Page 2792

post #83731 of 93800
Originally Posted by DrDon View Post

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.

Same thing happened here in North Carolina. In the late 70's and early 80's when all kinds of tax incentives were handed out like candy to the movie industry. During that time period several high profile films and TV series were shot here like Firestarter with a young Drew Barrymore and Natalie Woods last film, Brainstorm and Andy Griffith's Mattlock.Very little sustaining money for the state or areas where filming took place after productions wrapped. Very few sustaining jobs ever came out of it since Hollywood imported all the important jobs from California during productions. Their reason was no qualified people in state. That and North Carolina is a Right to Work state, translated, no unions. If you were an extra or food services, you had a job as long as productions continued. When a film wrapped, you were out of a job until the next production came along. In the late 80's and early 90's the movie incentives dried up along with the movies when the parties changed in Raleigh. Next election they changed again and the incentives returned and so did Hollywood with all kinds of promises that what happened the last time wouldn't happen again. But when Dawson's Creek production came calling, the state fell all over themselves. The entire series was shot out of the old DeLaurentis Studios in Wilmington and again, if you were food services or an extra or some other locally needed service, you made money during the production. The state got nothing, as before, and again no residual upside after production wrapped. The whole thing maybe ready to pop again after the "Hunger Games" fiasco. North Carolina was where the first movie was shot. North Carolina thought they had the lock on the next one. They didn't. They are not shooting here at all. The state is pissed about it now. There is talk about taking the incentives away again since the state gets no real money for it even when the productions come here. (Oh yeah, different party in Raleigh now. I think I have heard this story before!)

And it continues, the never ending cycle. My guess is every state has stories like this. This is a common tale when Hollywood comes calling.
post #83732 of 93800
Originally Posted by TVOD View Post

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.
That actually proves my point that we're still pretty far away from a 4K cell phone camera. This stuck out at me:
Records to inexpensive SDHC/SDXC memory cards
4 used in the 4K mode
1 used in the HD mode

It doesn't say "can use up to 4 cards for maximum 4K video recording time" or something like that. What it appears, based on that and the description they give in the blurb, is that it essentially uses each card to record one part of the component signal to lighten the weight on each card. That still shows how slow those cards are compared to the P-card systems the the pro cameras use (most of which have more than one 1/2 imager too.). Plus, that camera has a ton of electronics in it to process the video so it can be compressed enough to fit on those cards.

SD cards are going to have to get 4 times faster and 4 times larger in capacity in the same footprint - then that same capacity and speed will have to be shrunken down to microSD. Finally, you're going to need the processing power of something the size of a football in something thinner than a pack of cigarettes. That's a long way off.

Until I see the first DSLR (the biggest emerging market for movie and television production) that can shoot at least 2 hours of 4K video without compressing all the detail out of it, then we've gotten somewhere.

Trust me, there's just as much work to be done with the cameras as the glass - something which is also getting better, assuming the phone uses actual glass.
Edited by NetworkTV - 12/4/12 at 7:28am
post #83733 of 93800
Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

TV Notes
Howard Stern to return as judge on 'America's Got Talent'
Well, that's too bad. My wife and I stopped watching mid-way through last season, primarily due to Stern. While judges egos have always been part of the show, it seemed all to often that he was trying to make it a show all about him. Add in the behind-the-scenes "antics" that started the season prior and the emphasis on numerous acts that had absolutely no chance of ever making it to the end, the show lost it's way.

Looks like we'll be skipping the next season altogether.
post #83734 of 93800
So Sharon Osbourne is staying on AGT? didn't she said goodbye?

If she's not coming back, who's replacing her?
post #83735 of 93800
Originally Posted by DrLar View Post

So Sharon Osbourne is staying on AGT? didn't she said goodbye?
If she's not coming back, who's replacing her?

What makes you think she is staying? The article said he took a place next to Sharon, not that he will take a place next to Sharon, they were talking about his first season on the show. Sharon quit, no mention of her returning.
post #83736 of 93800
Originally Posted by foxeng View Post

Very few sustaining jobs ever came out of it since Hollywood imported all the important jobs from California during productions. Their reason was no qualified people in state.
It's also the fact that producers tend to repeatedly use the same people. There's also the tie-in between crew and facilities, such as with DITs.
Originally Posted by foxeng View Post

The state got nothing, as before, and again no residual upside after production wrapped.
Most production jobs are temporary by nature. The state may not get much directly, but it benefits indirectly. There's also the potential of increased tourism. Whether that is worth the incentives is up for debate.
post #83737 of 93800
Originally Posted by NetworkTV View Post

SD cards are going to have to get 4 times faster and 4 times larger in capacity in the same footprint - then that same capacity and speed will have to be shrunken down to microSD. Finally, you're going to need the processing power of something the size of a football in something thinner than a pack of cigarettes. That's a long way off.
Long way is relative. In an era with CMX edit controllers running on DEC mini computers connected to quads and C format machines, switchers, audio boards, DVEs, etc someone told me that this would be replaced with just a PC. Yeah right I thought. Now it's a laptop with HD (or better) with far more capability than imagined than. That wasn't a couple years ago, but it's not exactly ancient history either. OK, ancient is relative too biggrin.gif HD was an expensive toy with no future. Now, only 14 years after the introduction to the consumer we're already talking home 4k. Pocket 4K? I'm not so quick to say yeah right anymore.
post #83738 of 93800
Originally Posted by srw1000 View Post

it seemed all to often that he was trying to make it a show all about him
His usual MO as witnessed by his appearance on Kimmel - or was that an appearance by Kimmel on Stern?

post #83739 of 93800
Originally Posted by TVOD View Post

Long way is relative. In an era with CMX edit controllers running on DEC mini computers connected to quads and C format machines, switchers, audio boards, DVEs, etc someone told me that this would be replaced with just a PC. Yeah right I thought. Now it's a laptop with HD (or better) with far more capability than imagined than. That wasn't a couple years ago, but it's not exactly ancient history either. OK, ancient is relative too biggrin.gif HD was an expensive toy with no future. Now, only 14 years after the introduction to the consumer we're already talking home 4k. Pocket 4K? I'm not so quick to say yeah right anymore.

And to think, I've had my hands on everything you've mentioned here. Well, except for the 4K video camera.
post #83740 of 93800
Originally Posted by TVOD View Post

Long way is relative. In an era with CMX edit controllers running on DEC mini computers connected to quads and C format machines, switchers, audio boards, DVEs, etc someone told me that this would be replaced with just a PC. Yeah right I thought. Now it's a laptop with HD (or better) with far more capability than imagined than. That wasn't a couple years ago, but it's not exactly ancient history either. OK, ancient is relative too biggrin.gif HD was an expensive toy with no future. Now, only 14 years after the introduction to the consumer we're already talking home 4k. Pocket 4K? I'm not so quick to say yeah right anymore.
That's kind of my point - the product cycle is shrinking.

We used to hang onto stuff a lot longer. Now we boot something for a marginal increase in speed or function.

So, if it takes 10 years to get a 4K video cell phone, that's a long way off. I don't think that's an overestimate of how long it will take, either. I think we'll see the following timeline:

3 years - the CE industry will try their hand at selling 4K cameras to the public with dedicated palm sized camcorders as the first consumer entry, the way they did it for HD. The "4K" will likely be closer to 3.5K, though.

5-6 years - we'll see a full on 4K DSLR that will also get us close to 30 megapixels of still resolution, possibly using a next generation solid state card. I also wouldn't be surprised to see a breakout connector for pro audio inputs.

7-8 years - Apple will break into the 4K tablet market with a 128GB model with front 4K sensor and 1080p rear. The latest version of the Retina display will be a given.

10 years - Samsung or someone similar will try to trump Apple with a phone that does all the above. However, 2 weeks later, Apple will release their version and everyone will buy that instead.
Edited by NetworkTV - 12/4/12 at 6:06pm
post #83741 of 93800
Originally Posted by TVOD View Post

Most production jobs are temporary by nature. The state may not get much directly, but it benefits indirectly. There's also the potential of increased tourism. Whether that is worth the incentives is up for debate.

While true, productions are temporary, the studios promised a permanent presence year round providing a tax base for the local communities. Actually, permanent presence meant 3 people are full time out of a leased office. The rest are temporary according to the production at the time. There is really only one "studio" in the state and it is the old Delaurentis Studio out of Wilmington built in the early 1980's. Screen Gems owns it now and leases it out to whomever has the money.

Right down the road from my work is a small single sound stage. In the 20 years I have worked there, I have seen only 3 productions out of that sound stage and one of them was Hellraiser 3. Rest of the time it stays shuttered. There are no office spaces in it.
Edited by foxeng - 12/4/12 at 5:42pm
post #83742 of 93800
MONDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insight's Blog
post #83743 of 93800
Nielsen Overnights (18-49)
‘Blake Shelton,’ something to sing about
Christmas special featuring 'Voice' coach draws 2.8 in 18-49s
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - Dec. 4, 2012

Proving either that you can put anything behind “The Voice” and it will earn a decent rating, or that airing a special featuring one of “Voice’s” coaches after the show is a very smart idea, “Blake Shelton’s Not So Family Christmas” drew good numbers on NBC last night.

The goofy variety special averaged a 2.8 adults 18-49 rating at 10 p.m., according to Nielsen overnights, finishing comfortably ahead of the No. 2 show in the timeslot, CBS’s “Hawaii Five-0,” which drew a 2.2.

It had the perfect lead-in, in more ways than one. “Voice” is NBC’s highest-rated non-sports show and generally lifts whatever airs afterward to strong numbers, including the new hit show “Revolution,” which usually airs Monday at 10.

But Shelton is also a coach on the show, which made for some good promotional synergy. People watching “Voice” no doubt stayed tuned because they like Shelton on the show, never mind that he’s also a hugely successful country artist.

“Voice” and “Blake” helped NBC to its 11th straight Monday night victory, extending a record streak, though every network was down, including NBC. “Voice” fell 7 percent from last week’s performance, to a 3.9, the night’s top show.

CBS’s lineup, coming off season highs for three program last week, saw declines for all four of its originals on the night, with “2 Broke Girls” off the most, 15 percent, to a still-solid 3.5.

ABC’s lineup tanked with back-to-back episodes of the temporarily rebooted “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” managing just a 0.9 and 1.1.

And Fox’s “Bones” slid 21 percent from last week, to a 1.9.

Stronger competition from cable may have had something to do with broadcast’s woes. ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” was up sharply from the previous week with a close game between the New York Giants and Washington Redskins.

NBC finished first for the night among 18-49s with a 3.5 average overnight rating and a 9 share. CBS was second at 2.7/7, Univision third at 1.6/4, Fox fourth at 1.4/4, ABC fifth at 1.2/3, Telemundo sixth at 0.5/1 and CW seventh at 0.4/1.

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.

At 8 p.m. NBC led with a 3.6 for "Voice," followed by CBS with a 2.6 for "How I Met Your Mother" (3.0) and a repeat of "Girls" (2.2). Fox was third with a 1.9 for "Bones," Univision fourth with a 1.7 for "Por Ella Soy Eva," ABC fifth with a 0.9 for "Makeover," CW sixth with a 0.5 for "90210" and Telemundo seventh with a 0.4 for "Rosa Diamante."

NBC was first again at 9 p.m. with a 4.1 for more "Voice," while CBS held onto second place with a 3.3 for a new "Girls" (3.5) and "Mike & Molly" (3.1). Univision was third with a 1.7 for "Amores Verdaderos," ABC fourth with a 1.1 for more "Makeover," Fox fifth with a 0.8 for "The Mob Doctor," Telemundo sixth with a 0.5 for "Corazon Valiente" and CW seventh with a 0.4 for "Gossip Girl."

At 10 p.m. NBC was first with a 2.8 for "Blake," with CBS second with a 2.2 for "Hawaii." ABC was third with a 1.7 for "Castle," Univision fourth with a 1.4 for "Amor Bravio" and Telemundo fifth with a 0.5 for "Pablo Escobar: El Patron del Mal" (0.7) and "El Rostro de la Venganza" (0.4).

NBC also led the night among households with a 6.7 average overnight rating and a 10 share. CBS was second at 5.7/9, ABC third at 3.9/6, Fox fourth at 3.3/5, Univision fifth at 1.9/3, and CW and Telemundo tied for sixth at 0.7/1.

post #83744 of 93800
TV Notes
ABC Sets Body of Proof Return Date, Gives Red Widow Sunday Slot, Plots Suburgatory Move
By Kimberly Roots, TVLine.com - Dec. 4, 2012

ABC has released details on its midseason schedule, which features a toned-up Body of Proof returning to Tuesday nights.

The revamped Dana Delany-led procedural again will air in the 10/9c slot left vacant after Private Practice‘s series finale, likely to take place in late January.

The network will fill 666 Park Avenue‘s Sunday 10 pm spot with Red Widow, starring Finding Neverland‘s Radha Mitchell as a woman who gets tangled up with an Eastern European mob. Widow will debut with a two-hour premiere at 9 pm on March 3 and premiere in its regular timeslot the following week.

Zero Hour, a conspiracy-minded mystery starring ER‘s Anthony Edwards, will land in Last Resort‘s Thursday lead-off slot, debuting Feb. 14 at 8 pm.

Also of note:

• Suburgatory will move back to its Season 1, 8:30 Wednesday time slot starting April 3; after its season finale, it’ll be replaced on May 1 with Family Tools, a family-business comedy (an adaptation of the British sitcom White Van Man) starring The King of Queens‘ Leah Remini and The Closer‘s J.K. Simmons.

• How to Live With Your Parents (for the Rest of Your Life), a comedy led by Scrubs‘ Sarah Chalke as a single mom who moves back in with her folks (Everybody Loves Raymond‘s Brad Garrett and Weeds‘ Elizabeth Perkins), premieres Wednesday, April 3 at 9:30.

• Celebrity Diving, a competition in which stars perform complicated aquatic dives, will premiere Tuesday, March 19 at 8 pm with Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis as a judge.

• Chefs Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre and Brian Malarkey will hed up The Taste, a new cooking competition. It’ll bow Jan. 22 at 8 pm.

• Dancing With the Stars will return for its 16th season on at 8 pm on Monday, March 18. The results show will debut the following week at 9 pm on Tuesday, March 26.

post #83745 of 93800
Nielsen Notes (Cable)
'Homeland' Eclipses 'Dexter' for First Time With Record Ratings
By Michael O'Connell, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Live Feed' Blog - Dec. 4, 2012

Homeland is having quite a year. Starting the season playing a strong second fiddle to its Dexter lead-in, the sophomore Showtime drama topped the serial killer mainstay Sunday night for the first time.

It also secured a ratings high in the process. Homeland's 10 p.m. outing pulled in 2.2 million viewers. That outranked the previous series high by roughly 130,000 viewers, and, adding the numbers from an encore later in the evening, gave the show a nightly total of 2.5 million viewers.

Dexter was just shy with 2.1 million viewers at 9 p.m., though the series is by no means lagging. The current run of Dexter is averaging 6.02 million gross weekly viewers across platforms. It's the show's highest-rated season, up 12 percent from last year. For Sunday, Dexter also brought in a bigger audience with its encore, giving it 2.63 million viewers for the night.

These numbers come just two weeks shy of the shows' finales. Both Dexter and Homeland, which are already renewed for respective eighth and third seasons, conclude their runs Dec. 16.

Homeland, averaging 5.7 million total weekly viewers across platforms, is up 34 percent from its freshman gross viewership.

post #83746 of 93800
TV Notes
Fox orders animated comedy about inept cops
By Lynette Rice, EW.com's 'Inside TV' Blog - Dec. 4, 2012

Fox has ordered 13 episodes of a new animated comedy dubbed Murder Police, which the net says follows a “dedicated, but inept detective and his colleagues – some perverted, some corrupt, some just plain lazy – in a twisted city precinct.” The series from David A. Goodman (Family Guy) and Jason Ruiz will bow sometime during the 2013-14 season.

“David and Jason came to us with a really fresh take on law enforcement that we’ve never seen before,” said Fox Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly in a statement. “With Murder Police, these guys are taking a staple genre of television – the cop show – and turning it on its head by pushing the warped comedic boundaries that only animation can offer. It’s the kind of show our Animation Domination fans will absolutely love, and I can’t wait to introduce it next season.”

Ruiz will voice Officer Manuel Sanchez. Other voices will be provided by Will Sasso (The Three Stooges), Chi McBride (Human Target), Horatio Sanz (Saturday Night Live) and Penny Marshall (Laverne & Shirley).

post #83747 of 93800
Business Notes
Netflix Gains Disney Streaming Rights in End Run on Cable
By Cliff Edwards & Christopher Palmeri, Bloomberg.com - Dec. 4, 2012

Netflix Inc., the online video service, signed a multiyear accord to carry Walt Disney Co. films, marking the first time a major studio has bypassed traditional cable-TV outlets.

The agreement starts with movies released in 2016, the companies said today in a statement, without disclosing terms. Netflix will replace Liberty Media Corp.’s Starz Entertainment when its output deal with Disney expires in 2015. Netflix surged the most since January while Liberty Class A tumbled.

The deal is a coup for Netflix Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings, who faces emerging competition in online video and pressure for a sale of the company from activist investor Carl Icahn. U.S. subscribers of Netflix will get access to movies from Disney, including its Pixar and Marvel releases, as soon as seven months after they open in theaters, a time frame traditionally reserved for premium pay-TV channels like Starz.

“It was a long slog, but ultimately we displayed enough sustainability that Netflix became a real and viable option for the pay-TV window,” Ted Sarandos, the video service’s chief content officer, said in an interview.

Netflix, based in Los Gatos, California, surged 14 percent to $86.65 at the close in New York, more than doubling its year- to-date gain. Liberty Media, based in Englewood, Colorado, slid 4.9 percent, the most since May 17, to $105.56. Disney, the world’s biggest entertainment company, was little changed at $49.30.

Seeking Sony

The Disney accord separately gives Netflix immediate access to older classics such as “Dumbo,” and new direct-to-video releases in 2013. The company doesn’t gain movies from “Star Wars” creator Lucasfilm Ltd., which Disney is buying for $4.05 billion and doesn’t yet own, according to Jonathan Friedland, a Netflix spokesman. He declined to say whether they would be included later.

For Netflix, with 30 million users worldwide, the Disney agreement extends its lead over competing video services from Amazon.com and Verizon Communications Inc. and Coinstar Inc.’s Redbox Instant, which is set to begin public testing this month. Netflix is adding exclusive programs such as “Lilyhammer” and “House of Cards” as it seeks earlier and fuller home-video access to studio movies for its customers.

“This is a big win for Netflix,” Jaison Blair, an analyst with Telsey Advisory Group in New York, said in a telephone interview.

Movies’ Cost

Netflix probably agreed to pay in excess of $350 million a year for Disney’s movies, estimates Tony Wible, an analyst with Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.

Disney embraced online media sooner than its competitors, becoming the first major studio to sell and rent TV shows and movies through Apple Inc.’s iTunes. The company’s largest shareholder is the trust of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

Netflix beat out several bidders for the Disney pictures, Sarandos said, without identifying them. The company will bid aggressively for exclusive rights to Sony Corp. (6758) films when that studio’s contract with Starz ends around 2016, he said.

Paula Askanas, a Sony spokeswoman, said the company had no comment on Sarandos’s remarks.

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., which puts out two to three films a year, also has an agreement with Netflix.

Children’s Tales

With a Disney catalog largely geared to children and families, Netflix can build a solid base of subscribers who are less likely to cancel service for competing offerings, said Scott Devitt, a Morgan Stanley analyst who has a buy rating on the shares.

“In a shrewd move by Netflix, the company is focusing on building a highly differentiated content catalog aimed at kids, which is a demographic that has relatively homogeneous tastes,” Devitt wrote in a research note.

While Netflix bolsters its film lineup, the announcement doesn’t settle a tug-of-war among investors over the company’s prospects, said Arvind Bhatia, a Sterne Agee & Leach analyst who has a neutral rating on the shares.

With about $4.5 billion in streaming content obligations due before the Disney films are available, and the losses incurred as it expands internationally, Netflix must increase its subscriber count or raise its $7.99-a-month price for unlimited viewing to remain viable long-term, Bhatia said.

“It’s a big get, but clearly there are several unknowns out there to determine if it’s a good get,” Bhatia said. “Though we don’t know the financial terms, it’s clear this was not a cheap deal.”

Netflix expects billionaire Icahn, who controls almost 10 percent of the company through stock and options, to start a proxy battle as he seeks a sale, Hastings said last month.

In 2010, Disney extended its digital distribution deal with Starz through 2015. Today’s agreement will replace that pact when the latter expires.

Courtnee Ulrich, spokeswoman for Englewood, Colorado-based Liberty Media, didn’t return a phone call seeking comment.

post #83748 of 93800
Business Notes
Les Moonves Says Cable Operators Should Pay Up For Popular Networks: UBS Confab
By David Lieberman, Deadline.com - Dec. 4, 2012

The CBS chief flipped the argument that Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt made yesterday when he said that he may drop pricey cable channels that generate hash-mark ratings. “That means for the channels that are getting viewers, he’s going to pay more,” Les Moonves told the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference today. “He should pay the most for the guy who’s the No. 1 network.” Moonves milked the laughs: “We’re going in next year for $7″ per month per subscriber. Although he acknowledged that he’s joking, he added that “it’s bugged us that cable channels showing reruns of our shows were getting paid more” than CBS was for its first-run programming.

Moonves kept things light, referring at one point to actor Angus T. Jones as “that kid on Two And A Half Men who’s getting paid $300,000 per episode to talk bad about me.” Jones recently called on people to stop watching the show due to its “filth.”

On a more serious note, Moonves reiterated his call for ads to be sold based on the number of people who watch up to a week after they air — up from the current three days. That would provide a 10% lift for CBS. He says the change should take place in a year and a half, “I’m willing to bet on that.” Moonves also repeated points that his chief researcher David Poltrack made yesterday in defense of broadcast TV. The weak ratings for CBS and other networks so far this season “is not a content issue,” he says. “This has been an aberration” with the election and additional NFL games airing on Thursdays. “By the end of the year…you’re gong to see the comps really level off.” He adds, though, that “one thing we need to have happen is for Nielsen to get better” measuring audiences on DVRs, VOD, and streaming platforms. He calls this season “a tipping point” to demonstrate that overnight ratings “are less and less significant than they ever were.” With all of the new technologies, “it’s a brave new world out there.”

post #83749 of 93800
Originally Posted by DrDon View Post

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.

Okay, I know this forum is not for politics, so this will be my last words on the subject. I'd just like to point out that the posted article I was replying to was partially political in content, and most people consider Snyder's actions political. IMO, the nascent film industry in Michigan had great potential to grow, and bring jobs to the state, if it hadn't had the rug pulled out from under it. Michigan already had some of the requisite production facilities and skills, due to a long history of producing films for industry. This could have been a great opportunity.
post #83750 of 93800
TV Review
‘Final Cut,’ old-fashioned detective work
Investigation Discovery engages viewers with smart police work
By Tom Conroy, Media Life Magazine - Dec. 3, 2012

Every crime is fundamentally senseless, but when a tragedy happens to an innocent person, we naturally try to find some meaning in the story. If we can't find a moral lesson, we usually try at least to impose some narrative structure.

Investigation Discovery's new true-crime documentary series "Final Cut," which reports the stories of show-business careers that ended badly, tries too hard to imply dramatic irony where none really exists and, in the first episode — spoiler alert! — suggests a link between two murders that proves to be illusory.

On the plus side, that first episode, airing this Wednesday, Dec. 5, at 9 p.m., gives an interesting account of the detective work that went into cracking one of the two cases. The procedural aspect of the show is enough to keep viewers involved.

The premiere episode covers the cases of two young women trying to make it in Hollywood, both of whom disappeared after meeting with a photographer. The first, Kimberly Pandelios, a blonde who had recently moved to Los Angeles, had answered an advertisement in a local newspaper looking for a model for a magazine spread.

The police soon located her burned-out car, but it was another month before her remains were found in a wooded area in a park. Two photographers who had placed ads for models were questioned, but both were released, and the case went cold.

The police naturally thought they had a lead when three years later another young blonde model, named Linda Sobek, went missing after meeting a photographer in Los Angeles. This case wound up being solved by old-fashioned detective work.

A man on a clean-up crew found Sobek's model portfolio, which led police to search a nearby dumpster in which they found a car lease agreement signed by a photographer named Charles Rathbun.

As the details of the murder emerged, the police were increasingly convinced that Rathbun was also responsible for the murder of Kimberly Pandelios. Beside the model connection, both women were bound before being killed, and both bodies were hidden in wooded areas.

Rathbun proved to be a slippery character, and the story takes some unexpected twists and turns. The most unexpected is that — as spoiled above — the two cases weren't related. Pandelios' murderer was finally revealed years later in a disappointingly undramatic way.

We probably shouldn't rely on other people's misfortunes for entertainment, but that's human nature. It's also the bread and butter of Investigation Discovery, which specializes in stories of love and ambition gone horribly wrong.

Compared with some of the channel's more ghoulish offerings, "Final Cut" is relatively tame, even though one of the detectives interviewed has a disturbing habit of smiling when recounting gruesome details. The episode still ends with a strained attempt to find "tragic irony" in the aftermath of the Sobek case.

Language sticklers like to point out that people often misuse the word "irony." Although the usage may not be incorrect in this instance, it is inappropriate.

The implication, however subtle, is that these victims somehow had it coming. Their stories are sufficiently compelling without the addition of schadenfreude.

post #83751 of 93800
Originally Posted by NetworkTV View Post

7-8 years - Apple will break into the 4K tablet market with a 128GB model with front 4K sensor and 1080p rear. The latest version of the Retina display will be a given.

Then we'll see even more people taking pictures or video with an iPad. I can't help but laugh every time I see a news story and in the video you see someone in the foreground holding up a large iPad and taking pictures or video.. It's hilarious. It's like something from an SNL skit.
post #83752 of 93800
TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
WEDNESDAY Network Primetime/Late Night Options
(All shows are in HD unless noted; start times are ET. Network late night shows are preceded by late local news)

8PM - The Middle
8:30PM - The Neighbors
9PM - Modern Family
(R - Dec. 7, 2011)
9:31PM - Suburgatory
10:00PM - Nashville
* * * *
11:35PM - Nightline (LIVE)
Midnight - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert; The Avett Brothers perform with the Brooklyn Philharmonic)
(R - Nov. 1)

8PM - Survivor: Philippines
9PM - Criminal Minds
10PM - The Grammy Nominations Concert Live! -- Countdown to Music's Biggest Night (LIVE)
* * * *
11:35PM - Late Show with David Letterman (Albert Brooks; Diana Krall performs)
12:37AM - Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Cheryl Hines; Richie Sambora performs)

8PM - Whitney
8:30PM - Guy with Kids
9PM - Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
10PM - Chicago Fire
* * * *
11:35PM - The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (Don Johnson; animal handler Julie Scardina; Darius Rucker performs)
12:37AM - Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (Tracy Morgan; comic Richard Lewis; chef Tyler Florence; Robert Cray performs with The Roots)
1:37AM - Last Call with Carson Daly (Professional skateboarder Danny Way; Sekretagent Productions co-founder Corey May; Blitzen Trapper performs)

8PM - The X-Factor (LIVE, 120 min.)

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Nature: Is that Stunk? (R - Jan. 25, 2009)
9PM - NOVA - Hunting the Edge of Space: The Ever Expanding Universe
(R - Apr. 13, 2010)
10PM - Inside Nature's Giants: Giant Squid
(R - Oct. 14, 2010)

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

8PM - Arrow
9PM - Supernatural

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 (Sen. Alan Simpson)
11:31PM - The Colbert Report (Director Peter Jackson)

11PM - Conan (Jim Parsons; Jennifer Carpenter; Delta Spirit)

11PM - Chelsea Lately (Guest host Casey Wilson; Adam Pally; John Caparulo; Loni Love; Bobby Lee)
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Critic's Notes
Roll Up – Finally! – For a ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ on PBS and DVD
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Dec. 3, 2012

As a hard-core Beatles fan, I couldn’t be more thrilled by PBS’s upcoming documentary and showing of Magical Mystery Tour, or of the 1967 TV show’s new home-video set…

The public television double feature, shown on the Friday, Dec. 14 edition of Great Performances on PBS, begins at 9 p.m. ET with Magical Mystery Tour Revisited, a new one-hour documentary on the making of the Beatles’ 1967 controversial television special. Then, at 10 p.m. ET, comes Magical Mystery Tour itself, the surrealistic musical short film that aired on England’s BBC-1 on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, as a holiday special. It has never been televised in the United States, until now.

Check local listings, as usual — but for Great Performances, this is no usual presentation. The documentary, with a longer running time than the 53-minute film it’s revisiting, is wonderful. Directed by Francis Hanly and produced by Jonathan Clyde, it puts everything in context, and includes insights from such unexpected but delightfully enthusiastic Magical Mystery Tour fans as Martin Scorsese and Peter Fonda.

As for the 1967 TV program itself, it’s been fully and dazzlingly restored — not only visually, but musically, with the soundtrack cleaned up by Giles Martin (son of Beatles producer George Martin), who did the same for the Cirque du Soleil Beatles LOVE show in Las Vegas.

“It was like a little home movie, really. An elaborate home movie,” George Harrison, in a vintage interview clip, says in Magical Mystery Tour Revisited.

But it was more than that, too. It captures, and epitomizes, the sense of freewheeling freedom and experimentation that followed the Summer of Love and the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. And decades before MTV, it presents music videos of such Beatles songs as “I Am the Walrus,” “Your Mother Should Know” and “The Fool on the Hill.”

Taken together, this Great Performances double feature is the biggest TV treat for Beatles fans since ABC presented their Anthology biographical documentary series in 1995. And if you can’t wait — in one respect, you don’t have to. A much shorter version of the documentary, along with the complete Magical Mystery Tour TV special, is out now.

The Beatles’ official Magical Mystery Tour boxed deluxe edition is already available for purchase, by Apple Records, and it’s one of the best, most giddily rewarding box sets I’ve ever seen.

First of all, inside the box are three different formats: a standard DVD release of Magical Mystery Tour, a Blu-Ray edition, and a two-vinyl-disc recreation of the original Magical Mystery Tour EP issue and booklet, in the mini-album format in which it was released originally in the U.K. There’s also a sumptuously detailed glossy booklet — more of a book, really — a 20-minute making-of documentary, and a collection of Extras that are as entertaining as the TV special itself.

Paul McCartney delivers audio commentary on an alternate track, providing not only a wry perspective, but occasional inside details that really add to the magic. The aerial scenes in the “Flying” instrumental sequence, for example, were color-polarized outtakes from Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove. And the reason he wore a black carnation, when all the other Beatles wore red ones, on “Your Mother Should Know?” He explains that, too — and it’s not because, as the 1969 rumors insisted, “Paul is Dead.”

The other special features in the boxed set are like one holiday gift after another. Alternate video versions of several of the Magical Mystery Tour songs. Complete outtakes deleted from the final production, including a Fellini-esque dream sequence directed by John Lennon, and a fascinatingly odd performance by Ivor Cutler (who sings “I’m Going in a Field,” in a field, playing an ornate white organ). And more. Each thing I consumed made me smile even wider.

The Magical Mystery Tour boxed deluxe edition is the perfect holiday gift for the Beatles fan on your shopping list — or for yourself. And the upcoming Great Performances double feature of the TV premiere of Magical Mystery Tour and its accompanying documentary happens to be a delectable holiday gift for us all.

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TV Sports
Is the TV set big enough for Barkley & Vitale?
By Michael Hiestand, USA Today - Dec. 5, 2012

This might scare basketball purists and intrigue viewers who see TV sports as show biz. Either way, get ready: Two of the biggest names associated with their networks, ESPN's Dick Vitale and TNT's Charles Barkley, might call TV basketball together -- including NCAA tournament action.

CBS has previously asked ESPN if it could use Vitale on its NCAA tournament coverage. ESPN has declined, saying, in effect, that Vitale is a franchise player.

But John Wildhack, ESPN executive vice president for production, told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday that "we are interested" in letting Vitale and Barkley call action together.

Wildhack wouldn't specify whether he meant just on NCAA action, or some package of games that might include TNT's NBA or ESPN's college games. But if it's a package that includes Barkley on ESPN, says Wildhack, "We wouldn't need a play-by-play person."

The principals are already sold.

"With the NCAA, I would love to call a game with Dick Vitale," Barkley told USA TODAY Sports. "That'd be something I'd really like. I've talked to Dick about it. We're all in the same business of promoting the tournament. We all need to forget the ESPN, CBS, TNT stuff -- we're all in the business of promoting college basketball."

Asked Tuesday about the chance to work with Barkley, Vitale seemed even more psyched: "I'd love to do a game with him! He's terrific! We'd have so much fun on the telecast."

And, no doubt, generate lots of rants in cyberspace about how TV coverage is just supposed to be about the players and coaches. Which might have made sense years ago, before networks began collectively paying billions in rights fees for games they have to turn around and sell as TV shows.

CBS and TNT parent Turner Sports now jointly cover the NCAA tournament. And Tuesday, they responded to the idea of using Vitale on it with a joint corporate statement: "There have been no discussions and we're very pleased with our CBS/TNT announcer lineup."

But CBS might just consider using Vitale to be a "no-brainer." That's how CBS Sports chief Sean McManus put it in 2006. McManus used the phrase when responding to why CBS had asked ESPN to use Vitale on the tournament, but was turned down: "It seemed like an obvious no-brainer that would have benefited everyone, although I certainly respect ESPN's decision."

So did Vitale. "Several times over the years CBS wanted me to do NCAA tournament games," he said Tuesday. "But I didn't get upset with ESPN. I was flattered they thought that much of me."

Barkley over the years has noted he has stayed in TV longer than he expected -- "I was only going to do it four years, and this is my 14th year" -- and this season will occasionally move out of the studio to work NBA games on TNT, including the Los Angeles Lakers-New York Knicks on Dec. 13.

"Do I want to do games all the time? I don't know. It's just so I don't get bored and stale," Barkley said.

And he's not impressed about the NBA season so far: "I'm disappointed in the level of basketball, to be honest with you." Barkley believes only a handful of teams -- the Miami, Heat, Brooklyn Nets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs -- could contend for the title.

But he is pumped about this change of pace: Training with boxer Manny Pacquiao for a TNT special after the channel's NBA doubleheader Thursday.

Barkley, with TNT's Reggie Miller, hung out with Pacquiao for a show to help promote TNT corporate cousin HBO airing the Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez pay-per-view fight Saturday -- "It was one of the coolest things I've done in my life."

Barkley saw Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach, who has Parkinson's, don pads and absorb body blows from the fighter: "To watch Freddie take all those punches was inspiring."

Just as, Barkley says, the prospect of working on-air with Vitale: "That'd be really cool."

Costas, continued: NBC's Bob Costas on Tuesday continued talking about his on-air comments on gun violence in the wake of the murder-suicide involving Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend. Sunday, Costas had said Belcher and Kasandra Perkins would be alive if the player hadn't owned a gun.

Whatever one might think of Costas assuming he already knew the facts of a still unfolding case, he was correct in saying Tuesday on Dan Patrick's radio show (simulcast on the NBC Sports Network cable channel) that "there are a number of issues related to this that we could begin to talk about and think about. The problem was that I didn't have enough time to get to many of them. And that, I think, was my mistake."

But Costas will get more time on Thursday's Costas Tonight on NBCSN (9 ET), with scheduled guests including Barkley and John McEnroe.

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TV Notes
'The Neighbors' (ABC)
By Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

There are many reasons to praise ABC's "The Neighbors" (8:30 p.m. Wednesday, WTAE), the broad, funny sitcom about a family that moves into a New Jersey neighborhood populated by extraterrestrials disguised as humans.

Let's start with the show's writing team led by Disney-Pixar veteran Dan Fogelman, who wrote "Cars," "Tangled" and the adult comedy "Crazy Stupid Love." "The Neighbors" also benefits from a largely unknown cast.

Jami Gertz, who stars as human mother Debbie Weaver, has been a TV mainstay for decades beginning with "Square Pegs" in the 1980s, but the rest of the cast is not well known and that benefits the show. As much as network executives love making deals with big-name stars, TV is quite good at creating stars.

That's what's happening with the cast of "The Neighbors," particularly the actors playing the alien family. British actor Simon Templeman stars as alien patriarch Larry Bird and Nigerian-born Toks Olagundoye plays his wife, Jackie Joyner-Kersee (the aliens have all adopted the names of human star athletes).

The pair make an ideal sitcom couple: he's a bull in a china shop; she attempts to nurture those around her and tries to fit in, often with hilarious results (see: the episode where Jackie uses "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" as a template for how to behave in social situations).

This week "The Neighbors" offers its first Christmas episode, which shows even aliens are not immune to a frenzy of gift opening once they learn about human Christmas customs.

Ms. Olagundoye, whose father is Nigerian and whose mother is Norwegian, grew up in Nigeria and England and attended boarding school in Europe before coming to America to attend Smith College. She intended to be a pre-law major but found she missed being in plays, something she'd done in high school.

"I very quickly realized I was not going to be able to live my life without being an actor," she said in a phone interview last month while on break from filming "The Neighbors."

Over the years she's appeared in TV shows and films but almost always in dramatic roles despite having done comedy on stage.

"My agents in New York never sent me in for comedy," she said, "and when I got to Los Angeles I didn't have anything on my resume that was comedy. So it made it difficult to get in to see casting directors for comedies."

Seeing how gifted a comedic performer she is on "The Neighbors," this is hard to imagine.

"I think it's probably because of the way I come across as a person," Ms. Olagundoye said. "Something about the way I carry myself, or maybe the accent, is very lawyer/doctor."

She did have a few comedic roles -- including in the 2005 motion picture "The Salon" -- but she said her agents "apparently didn't pay any attention to that.

"I said to my agent at the time, I'd really love for you to send me in for a sitcom [audition] and this person looked across the desk with a lot of sorrow in their eyes and said, 'Oh, darling, everybody thinks they're funny.' And that was that," Ms. Olagundoye said. She has a new agent now but holds nothing against her old agent, saying, "I love that person dearly and they did a lot for me and will always be dear to my heart. They did not listen to me on that at the time and I thought, what did I know?"

Now she knows better.

Ms. Olagundoye found the "Neighbors" script clever and quirky and expressed gratitude that the show's casting director gave her a shot. In her first audition she used what she called "a Bernadette Peters voice" and the casting director looked at her and said, "You're very strange and I like you but I don't like the accent. I want the British accent."

Ms. Olagundoye, with her travels through different cultures, shares at least one trait with her "Neighbors" character: Both have been fish out of water.

"Simon's British and we talk about it all the time," she said. "Thanksgiving, the mall, American schools, they're all things the aliens are figuring out about and I had to do the same thing. So I do relate to it. But very much like Jackie is enjoying it and would like to stay, I love it here and I love learning the different little things and incorporating them into my own life. You can do that here and stick with your own thing and culture and that's just accepted. That's not something you can get away with any place else. I appreciate that very much about this country."

And she's appreciating her role as a wacky, alien suburban mom, too.

"I have so much fun with this job," Ms. Olagundoye said. "I cannot believe I get paid to have this much fun."

When: 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, ABC

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Business Notes
Will Disney’s Deal With Netflix Spoil Liberty Media’s Spinoff Plan For Starz?
By David Lieberman, Deadline.com - Dec. 4, 2012

That’s one of several questions swirling in financial circles about Netflix’s new agreement to license the pay TV rights to Disney movies beginning in 2016. But there’s wide agreement that the outlook for Starz just became a little dimmer. The Disney movies it currently licenses constitute some of its most popular programming. “Approximately half of its content output comes from [Disney],” ISI Media’s Vijay Jayant says. “The Starz originals are not yet in a position to make up for the loss of [Disney] content, and we suspect that it will drive a further deceleration of the Starz business fundamentals.” That worrisome news comes at a sensitive time for Starz: Its parent, John Malone’s Liberty Media, is about to spin the premium TV channel off into a separate, publicly traded company. Malone hinted that it might become takeover bait, saying that “everybody can use a big brother.” Lazard Capital Markets’ Barton Crockett just cut his price target for Liberty by $8 to $134 noting that the Netflix-Disney pact raises “more questions about the long-term viability of Starz.”

Investors share the analysts’ concerns: Liberty Media stock fell 4.9% following the disclosure of Disney’s deal with Netflix. The Street also believes that the agreement is great for Netflix: Its shares popped 14%. (Disney was merely +0.02%.)

But the bets on Netflix appear to be mere guesses since nobody knows how much it will pay for Disney’s films (financial terms were not disclosed in today’s announcement). That’s why Barclays Capital’s Anthony DiClemente says the enthusiasm for Netflix ”may be overdone.” He notes that the streaming company probably had to offer a “significant premium” to the $250M a year he estimates Starz pays for Disney’s films. Janney Capital Markets’ Tony Wible says the number to beat is $350M, which is why “we would not be surprised if [Netflix] would need to raise capital.” And Jayant says that Netflix “could have paid in the $400M ballpark per annum” to land Disney. With so many details unknown, the pop in Netflix stock seems “excessive” to Sterne Agree’s Arvind Bhatia, who wonders whether it reflects a lot of short covering.

The deal also looks like an about-face for Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. In January he sounded indifferent about the prospect of losing streaming rights to Disney’s films when his carriage deal with Starz was about to expire. The 15 titles available at the time, including Toy Story 3 and Tangled, “currently constitute about 2% of our domestic viewing” he said in a letter to investors that seemed designed to reassure them that the loss was no big deal. “Why would Netflix management look to sign an exclusive deal for Disney content if they have previously stated that exclusivity is irrelevant and Disney content was not a major driver?” B. Riley & Co analyst Eric Wold asks.

The most logical answer: Netflix needs exclusive content a lot more now than it did a year ago. Amazon startled investors in September when it struck a multi-year agreement to license content from EPIX. Redbox Instant — the kiosk company’s JV with Verizon — is about to introduce a subscription VOD service. (Although possibly a few weeks later than expected, based on a comment that Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam made today.) And who knows when Apple, Google, Walmart, or who knows who else will try to launch their own alternatives?

Despite all of these questions, there’s one thing I feel I can say with confidence: We’ll see a big turnout tomorrow at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference where Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos and Disney CFO Jay Rasulo are scheduled to appear in separate sessions.

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TV Notes
NBC Is Developing a New Version of the Raymond Burr Crime Drama Ironside
By Josef Adalian, Vulture.com (New York Magazine) - Dec. 4, 2012

After making a valiant attempt to revive The Munsters earlier this year, NBC is once again digging into its Universal Studios vault for series ideas. Vulture hears that the Peacock is developing a modern version of Ironside, the late-sixties Raymond Burr crime drama about a San Francisco police detective who's forced to find new ways of fighting crime after being paralyzed by a gunshot.

Michael Caleo, who wrote Luc Besson's upcoming Tommy Lee Jones–Robert De Niro thriller Malavita, is working on a script for the Ironside reboot, with Dave Semel (Person of Interest) attached to direct the pilot if it's ordered to production. We have no idea if producers plan to retain the very cool Quincy Jones theme song, but as in the original, Detective Ironside will once again be a sarcastic, sometimes-abrasive type who's aided by a team of specialized experts that help him solve the toughest cases. We're tempted to call this House in a wheelchair, but Ironside got there first — by about 40 years.

post #83758 of 93800
Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

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.

I wonder if they will have a show where they judge women riding the sybian. biggrin.gif
post #83759 of 93800
'The Walking Dead': 4 Things Networks Can Learn From the Cable Show That's Beating Them

By Tim Molloy | The Wrap – 9 hours ago

TV's top drama is a grisly, sometimes sorrowful series that kills off characters as fast as it introduces them and almost never slows down to explain what's happening.

Networks could learn a lot from "The Walking Dead."

The AMC series, which ended the first half of its third season Sunday, currently has an average 5.32 rating in the key 18-49 demo. That's better than the rating for any show on television except for NBC's "Sunday Night Football."

Factoring in a whole week's ratings -- as networks do to account to DVR viewing -- "Walking Dead" slips behind "The Big Bang Theory" and "Modern Family" -- but just barely.

Maybe network shows should just have more zombies, or violence. "The Walking Dead" has definitely benefited from a national fascination with the undead and must show more intestines per episode than any show in TV history.

Also read: 'Walking Dead' Preview: Four Men and a Baby

But zombies and guts aren't the only reasons "Walking Dead" has a shot at finishing the season as TV's top series -- and will almost definitely be its top drama. Some viewers tune in for gruesome spectacle, while others watch through their fingers.

Successful new network dramas are rare – NBC's "Revolution" and CBS's "Elementary" are among the few this season. Those that take the most risks, like ABC's "Last Resort," are often quickly canceled. Dramas are especially big gambles for networks because they are much more expensive than reality shows and comedies.

But "The Walking Dead" makes the case for taking risks anyway -- from letting major characters die, to letting viewers sometimes turn to online friends for answers.

Here are four things network shows could learn from AMC's hit.

1. Surprise us. Asked for the main reason "The Walking Dead" is thriving, showrunner Glen Mazzara points to its unpredictability.

"The show feels grounded, it feels accessible. But it's also unpredictable, and it has a fast pace," he told TheWrap. "There was an article I read about the speed of storytelling on shows like 'Homeland' and 'The Walking Dead.' The things that usually would be saved and built to are being pulled up and sort of happening before the audience is ready.

"That's something that I learned on 'The Shield' -- a type of accelerated storytelling. Especially when you have a very hungry audience like this. We've had other versions of the show in the past that weren't as accelerated, and I think that led to a lot of audience frustration. I think that the pace of the storytelling is right now able to keep up with the audience's expectations."

The most unpredictable thing about "The Walking Dead"? Who lives and who dies. A willingness to kill major characters is perhaps the biggest difference between cable and network dramas. While networks may occasionally kill someone in a season finale, cable shows like "The Sopranos," "The Walking Dead," "Game of Thrones" and "Boardwalk Empire" have killed the characters we least expected, when we least expected.

2. Skip the backstory. Nothing slows down a story like too much explanation -- especially when it's repeated episode after episode, for viewers who haven't been watching or paying attention.

On "The Walking Dead," we don't even know what created walkers. And we don't need to know. This season, "The Walking Dead" provided some basic background in its season premiere -- and then kept moving.

"The beginning of the season reestablished all the characters and all the dynamics really quickly and gave everybody an entry point," Mazzara said. "I did anticipate that we would have new audience joining us. I thought maybe people would catch up on DVDs over hiatus or something like that. But now the train's running, and you just need to catch up. We're not going to keep going back and reestablishing the rules. I believe that the audience is on board."

3. Keep it simple. This one's tricky because, if anything, networks are too fond of simple, self-contained stories.

Networks are wary of serialized dramas like "Lost," "The Wire" and "Breaking Bad," which are most rewarding to those who watch every episode. It's incredibly satisfying to watch stories unspool over weeks or years. But it's harder for heavily serialized shows to draw in new viewers, or to play in syndication.

The self-contained nature of "CSI" episodes is one reason the show sells so well all over the world. But at their worst, sealed-off episodes limit character development and change.

"Walking Dead" is the rare show that successfully manages both self-contained and long-term stories, in part by surprising us and skipping needless backstory. It benefits from a simple setup -- people are trying to stay ahead of the zombies -- that lends itself to both small dramas (will they make it over the fence?) and big ones (should they bring a child into this world?)

"We never want to confuse things, and we certainly don't have a very complicated mythology," Mazzara said. "Part of what I like to do is to make sure every episode has a very clear mission and a very clear objective. …. Even though it is a serialized drama, every episode is hopefully satisfying within itself. ... I'm not interested in filler episodes that just connect this episode to that."

4. Leave room for debate. Shows dream of sparking the kind of online debates that make non-viewers want to join the fun. At the same time, shows are afraid of alienating new viewers with scenes that may require interpretation. "The Walking Dead" takes it as a given that viewers will go online for answers.

"Our audience communicates with each other," Mazzara said. "And they have access to all the actors through Twitter. For example, in [one] episode our guys are running through and they came across a cabin. And there's a guy suffering from some type of dementia in the cabin. Some of our audience thought that that guy was like Rip Van Winkle and was not aware that there zombies outside. Other people understand that he did suffer from dementia and was very confused that suddenly these people were in his house.

"So there were debates online: Who was this guy, what was this? We didn't need to explain it. The audience in a sense communicated and talked about it, and they were part of a community and they worked it out. I don't need to explain every single scene to people. Let people talk about it, let people discuss it. And maybe that scene works for some people, maybe it doesn't work for some people. We happen to like the scene and thought it was interesting.

"The audience figures things out. They're smart. They don't need to be spoon-fed."

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Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Dec. 5, 2012

ABC, 8:00 p.m. ET

Norm Macdonald returns as Mike’s brother Rusty in this holiday episode, which has the shifty sibling moving some furniture into the Heck garage – furniture that isn’t technically his. Meanwhile, Frankie (Patricia Heaton) gets hired at a department store for the holidays, just to take advantage of the employee discount. Sounds like a good plan – but there’s a catch. Bah, humbug.

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Here’s a rare telecast of an early, ahead-of-its-time talkie. Frank Capra directed this film in 1930, only three years after The Jazz Singer – and used Ladies of Leisure to showcase a stage actress who had a confident way with dialogue. The movie made her a star – and that star, in her first major movie appearance, is Barbara Stanwyck, playing a “party girl” who poses as a model for a young artist, then develops genuine feelings for him. Ralph Graves co-stars.

BBC America, 9:00 p.m. ET

Last week, in the Season 2 premiere, Hector (Dominic West) was seen partying with showgirl Kiki (Hannah Tointon). In tonight’s episode, he’s seen with her again – but under less pleasant circumstances. She’s been beaten up, and he’s been accused.

FX, 10:00 p.m. ET

It’s a Christmas episode for American Horror Story – but if you think that means warm and cuddly, you’ve never seen this series. But there’s an extra special reason to watch tonight: This hour, about a killer Santa running around in the asylum, features guest star Ian McShane, whom I still admire for his unparalleled work as Al Swearengen on Deadwood.

CBS, 10:00 p.m. ET

Taylor Swift and LL Cool J, the original hosts of this special five years ago, return as hosts of this live hour, in which the year’s Grammy nominations are announced – and which, this fear, emanates from Nashville for the first time. Even so, the program is a little bit country, and a little bit rock and roll. Country stars Dierks Bentley and The Band Perry are among the scheduled performers – but so are Maroon 5, fun., and, by satellite from New York, The Who.

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