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Hot Off The Press: The Latest TV News and Information - Page 2796

post #83851 of 93671
'Hunted' creator Frank Spotnitz on the series finale and the future of Sam Hunter
'Hunted' won't continue, but the character will
By Alan Sepinwall, HitFix.com - Dec. 7, 2012

Cinemax just aired what is technically the “Hunted” series finale, as the BBC declined to renew the series, which they were producing in partnership with the American cable channel.

But though the series, and some of its characters, may be done with, Cinemax and “Hunted” creator Frank Spotnitz intend to move forward with the character of Sam Hunter, the private spy played by Melissa George, and certain aspects of her origin story that were introduced over these eight episodes. I emailed Spotnitz a few questions about the finale, and about what the new show (whatever it’s called) might include.

You've built this show around a strong female heroine, but Sam spends a good chunk of the finale drugged and unconscious before she ultimately winds up saving herself. Why did you decide to structure the episode in that way? And what specifically did you like about Sam's ability to hold her breath that you wanted to make it this crucial moment in the finale (and one that you very carefully set up in the premiere)?

Frank Spotnitz:
After seeing how strong Sam is, I thought there was nothing more dramatic or distressing than seeing her unable to defend herself. The drugging also seemed an elegant way for Sam to recover the childhood memories she'd been afraid to face -- and for the Blank-Faced Man to offer a needle that would ironically come to her rescue.

I originally conceived of Sam holding her breath as a training exercise -- a way for her to increase her lung capacity. I later realized that same training could end up saving her life if Jack tried to drown her, in a variation of the way he had Tyrone kill his son's wife.

As a side note that no one seems to have picked up on, I very consciously followed narrative elements from "Notorious," which is one of my all-time favorite Hitchcock films. If you watch it again, you'll see what I mean. That's why the key Natalie gives Sam in Episode 7 is stamped "Unica," just like the key Ingrid Bergman steals from Claude Rains and gives to Cary Grant. And of course, "Notorious" ends with Ingrid Bergman nearly being poisoned to death until Cary Grant comes to her rescue.

Had you known that the relationship with the BBC was going to end and that you would be trying to make a different show built around Sam going forward, would you have structured anything about this season differently?

Frank Spotnitz:
There's no question I would have structured the series differently. The show was originally sold to the BBC and I very much wanted it to work for that audience. I'd say that writing the series this way was challenging and rewarding in equal measure.

I know it's early stages yet, but what can you tell me about the plan for the new series? Are there any characters or story elements who are off-limits now? Will she still be working with Byzantium? Looking into what happened to her mother and why so many people are interested in her? Or will this be structured differently from Hunted, but just featuring Melissa in this role?

Frank Spotnitz:
I loved "Hunted," but we really are talking about a completely different series. Having Cinemax as our sole broadcaster is really liberating -- we know we're writing for an audience that's looking for thrills, action and suspense. Those things were always a big part of the show, of course, but so was a heavily serialized story structure that I don't think we'll need in the spinoff.

Viewers who are eager for answers to the outstanding questions from "Hunted" -- about Sam's mother, the Fingerless Man and Hourglass -- won't be disappointed.

post #83852 of 93671
TV Review
‘Sin City Rules,’ should stay in Vegas
TLC reality series applies the 'Real Housewives' formula
By Tom Conroy, Media Life Magazine

Many of the real women who star in Bravo's "Real Housewives of [Orange County, New Jersey, et cetera]” shows and VH1′s “(Mob, Basketball, et cetera) Wives" shows could be the subject of interesting documentaries. But the producers always decide to take a different approach.

Coming from a different channel, TLC, and lacking a cookie-cutter title, "Sin City Rules," which is about five women who are supposedly power players in Las Vegas, could have tried to take us into the lives of its subjects, all of whom are colorful people who probably have a story to tell.

Instead, we get the usual "Housewives/Wives" treatment: The women are forced to socialize with people they can't stand while being encouraged to brag about themselves and to insult and slander one another. When this formula was new, it was sometimes enjoyable. In this show, it makes for a predictable and depressing hour.

The premiere episode, airing this Sunday, Dec. 9, at 10 p.m., opens with segments introducing the five stars, most of whom say something obnoxious or foolish.

A buxom brunette named Lana, who was born in Ukraine, says that she's a mother and an entrepreneur and that she owns a management company, a concierge service, a nonprofit organization and a record label, concluding by saying, "And I am God."

Alicia, a blonde, says she is an entertainment reporter, and she brags about all the big stars she has known or interviewed. Then we see her hanging with the comedian Louie Anderson.

Jennifer, another blonde, is a professional poker player. Less obnoxious than most of the other women, she still aggrandizes herself, saying things like "I'm a pit bull in a Chihuahua's body" and "I play by my own rules." The latter boast would probably make it a lot easier to win at poker.

Amy, a brunette, says that she is the daughter of a notorious Vegas hit man. She doesn't see anything particularly wrong with that. "At the end of the day," she says, "he did what he did."

Finally, Lori is a brunette who runs a makeup company. She emerges relatively unscathed in the first episode.

All of the women seem to have husbands and children, but the families are mercifully kept in the background.

Usually in the premiere episode of this kind of show, the women assemble at a party that is held for no good reason so they can start bickering. In "Sin City Rules," they first attend a party that's held for a good reason before attending the pointless one.

The first party is a costume party for a local AIDS charity. Lana shows up with an escort of six or seven dwarfs, whom she calls her "Lantourage." After presenting a huge glittery check onstage, she says, "My name is Lana Fuchs, and I am God."

Having already told us that she doesn't like Alicia, Lana gives her the cold shoulder. She tells the camera and her friends that Alicia has slept with many married men and has destroyed families. She also says that repeated plastic surgery has left Alicia looking like a lizard.

Nonetheless, Lana invites Alicia to the pointless party, which is a shooting party out in the desert, with fancy catering in air-conditioned tents and shirtless men to help the women with their guns. Lana snubs Alicia again.

Amy, who has nothing but bad things to say about Lana, nonetheless goes to her house for a lunch of caviar and raw lamb, bearing a little toy lizard dressed up to look like Alicia. Then Amy turns around and tells Alicia that Lana has been accusing her of being a homewrecker. Alicia replies that Lana is sleeping with her trainer.

All of the "Housewives/Wives" shows are faked, but this show barely tries to hide it. Usually it's implausible that the enemies would be socializing, but in this show none of the women seem to be friends. The gossip is so vicious that no one would dare to say it on camera unless they knew their co-stars had agreed not to sue them for slander.

What's worse is that a straight documentary treatment of some of these woman might be worth watching. A female poker player and an entertainment journalist who has dated many celebrities (as Alicia says she has) would be fun to follow for a day or two.

It would be interesting to find out if Lana actually is a successful businesswoman with an oversize personality or merely a spoiled rich housewife with delusions of grandeur. Unfortunately, the last thing these shows are interested in is the truth.

Even those "Housewives/Wives" fans who know the shows are silly but who enjoy suspending disbelief must be sick of the sameness. "Sin City Rules" should have followed its own rules.

post #83853 of 93671
TV Notes
As the Mayan doomsday approaches, TV programmers are giving us lots of end-of-the-world choices
By Don Kaplan, New York Daily News - Dec. 9, 2012

As far as I’m concerned the world ended the day The Fonz water-ski-jumped over a live shark on an episode of “Happy Days.”

But millions of others seem to be buying into — or at least enjoying — the ancient theory that doomsday arrives in just a couple of weeks, on Dec. 21, 2012, when the 2,200-year-old Mayan calendar ends or the Earth’s supply of Twinkies runs out.

Whichever comes first.

And if you’ve been paying attention to the news, both scenarios are likely, although neither is apt to result in the kind of death and destruction the word “Armageddon” conjures.

But don’t tell that to the people who run cable networks like Discovery and the History Channel because they’ve packed their schedules with enough end-of-days programming to turn Charlie Sheen into a believer.

His dad did star in “Apocalypse Now,” right?

The impending obliteration of Earth is such a hot topic these days, the whiz kids over at Discovery have for months been peppering their programming with shows like “Imagining the End of the World” — which explores random destructive events from dire biblical prophecies to modern-day zombie fears.

But now they’ve devoted the entire night of Dec. 18 to the subject — just in case there are no more viewers left for Nielsen to count by the time that week is over.

Their “How the Mayan Calendar Works” (an episode of the popular “How Stuff Works” series) aims to explore where the most popular prophecy originated — the Mayan “Long Count” calendar, which the ancient Mesoamerican race began using to measure time almost 200 years before Jesus became a carpenter, and ends later this month, just a few days before Christmas.

They also have something self-explanatory called “Is There Any Truth to the Prophecy?” — and for those die-hards willing to stay up late, they wrap up the evening with a doom-themed episode of the docuseries “Curiosity” titled “Will the World End in 2012?”

Not to be outdone, the History Channel has been pumping up their schedule for weeks with shows about Renaissance seer Nostradamus, who some 500 years ago allegedly predicted the rise of Hitler and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. So why wouldn’t he have something to say about Dec. 21, too?

And on Dec. 15 (like their rivals at Discovery, they’re striking early, lest all their viewers end up being annihilated before the ratings are counted), History Channel’s programmers have dusted off old shows like a 2004 episode of “Modern Marvels,” which “examines current and proposed technology that could potentially lead to the destruction of the Earth.”

My personal favorite is the channel’s classic “Last Days on Earth” because in 2006 some doomsdayer made a two-hour special examining seven different ways in which the world can be destroyed.

The show suggests cataclysmic endings like the sudden appearance of a black hole near Boise, Idaho; an asteroid strike; a supersized volcano, and — the best — “obliteration by superintelligent computers,” which as we all know is completely possible because Arnold Schwarzenegger totally proved it in a series of amazing documentaries that everyone else calls the “Terminator” movies.

post #83854 of 93671
TV Notes
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to Present Top Ten List on 'Letterman'
By Erik Hayden, The Hollywod Reporter - Dec. 7, 2012

The Rolling Stones have a busy week ahead of them.

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards will be taking some time in between NYC-area concert dates and a Hurricane Sandy benefit concert appearance to present the Top Ten List on Late Show With David Letterman on Tuesday, Dec. 11.

In a press release, CBS noted one relatively surprising detail about the appearance: It will mark the first time the pair has stopped by Late Show. They aren't the only British rock legends David Letterman will have welcomed this month for the first time. The surviving members of Led Zeppelin -- Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones -- were on Dec 3. They and Letterman had received Kennedy Center Honors the night before.

Also on Friday, the Stones were announced as an addition to the star-studded roster of a benefit concert for Hurricane Sandy relief on Dec. 12 at Madison Square Garden. They also will be performing Dec. 8 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and Dec. 13 and 15 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

The venerable rock band is currently on a 50th anniversary mini-tour, appropriately titled 50 & Counting, that was timed to the release of greatest hits compilation album GRRR!.

post #83855 of 93671
Technology/Business Notes
Why Apple Got a ‘Made in U.S.A.’ Bug
By Quentin Hardy, The New York Times' 'Bits' Blog - Dec. 7, 2012

Apple’s decision to make some of its computers in the United States may be a positive for American jobs. It is certainly a marker of where much of the global computer industry has gone.

Today, rising energy prices and a global market for computers are changing the way companies make their machines. Hewlett-Packard, which turns out over 50 million computers a year through its own plants and subcontractors, makes many of its larger desktop personal computers in such higher-cost areas as Indianapolis and Tokyo to save on fuel costs and to serve business buyers rapidly.

“It’s important that they get an order in five days, and there is a pride for the local consumer to see a sticker that says ‘Made in Tokyo,’” says Tony Prophet, senior vice president of operations for H.P.’s PCs and printers. Five years ago, he says, H.P. supplied most of Europe’s desktops from China, but today it manufactures in the Czech Republic, Turkey and Russia instead.

H.P. sells those kinds of computers particularly to business customers. The Macs that Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, talked about making in the United States are likewise large machines, though it is not clear if Apple is doing so to pursue more enterprise business.The iPhones and iPads will still apparently be made in China.

If Mr. Cook is bringing his computer assembly back to the United States, it will probably be for larger, lower-value goods that Apple wants to sell locally, said Rob Enderle, an analyst in San Jose, Calif., who has been following the industry for a quarter-century.

“A big-value product, like an iPhone or an iPad, would be a bigger deal,” he said. “Cook is looking to give Apple some good news. He doesn’t want people thinking about Apple as a declining company that Steve Jobs used to run.”

Computer manufacturers have shipped work overseas for decades. At first it was considered prestigious. In 1998, President Bill Clinton visited a Gateway Computer factory outside Dublin to cheer the role of American manufacturers in the rise of a “Celtic Tiger” in technology.

That plant was shut in 2001, when Gateway elected to save costs by manufacturing in China. Dell, which made its mark by developing lean manufacturing techniques in Texas, closed its showcase Austin factory in 2008 as part of a companywide move to manufacturing in China. A Dell factory in Winston-Salem, N.C., for which Dell received $280 million in incentives from the government, was shut in 2010 (Dell had to repay some of the incentives).

More recent products, laptops and notebook computers, were in many cases originally assembled in China, and they are still largely made there. So are most smartphones and tablets. Every week, H.P. sends a group of cargo containers filled with notebooks to Europe.

The labor cost on a notebook, which is about 4 to 5 percent of the retail price, is only slightly higher than the cost of shipping by air. Soon even that is likely to change because of the twin forces of lower manufacturing costs from automation and higher transportation costs from rising global activity.

While the assembly of parts creates some jobs, the value in computers is primarily in semiconductors, like processors and graphics chips, and in screens. Here, the market is both global and concentrated in a few areas.

Intel, which makes most of the processors, has plants in Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, Israel, Ireland and China. Many other chip companies design their own products and have them made in giant factories, largely in Taiwan and China. Computer screens are made in Taiwan and South Korea, for the most part.

The special glass used for the touch screens of Apple’s iPhone and iPad, however, is an exception. It comes primarily from the United States.

As cheap as a Chinese assembly worker may be, an emerging trend in manufacturing, specialized robots, promises to be even cheaper. The most valuable part of the computer, a motherboard loaded with microprocessors and memory, is already largely made with robots. People do things like fitting in batteries and snapping on screens.

As more robots are built, largely by other robots, “assembly can be done here as well as anywhere else,” Mr. Enderle said. “That will replace most of the workers, though you will need a few people to manage the robots.”

post #83856 of 93671
Critic's Notes
Angus T. Jones is a still-learning 19-year-old
The 'Two and a Half Men' costar sharply criticized the show and urged people to not watch it. There's more to his actions than foolishness.
By Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times - Dec. 8, 2012

Angus T. Jones, the fraction in the CBS sitcom "Two and a Half Men," made news recently when he called the series "filth," bemoaned his own participation in it, and advised people not to watch it. The call came in the course of what he at least would call a religious testimony, delivered on video and posted on YouTube.

On ABC's "Nightline," Dr. Damon Raskin, a former child actor himself, described Jones' behavior as "very self-destructive"; on his blog, TV comedy writer Ken Levine called him "an incredibly ungrateful confused young man who has just committed career suicide and left himself open for major lawsuits."

Some of the reaction to Jones' announcement has really been a reaction to self-styled minister Christopher Hudson, who made the video and appears in it. Hudson's Forerunner Chronicles mixes Seventh-Day Adventist notions of the apocalypse with a wider selection of popular paranoid conspiracy theories; Jones, who attends an Adventist church in Los Angeles, thanks his new friend for "the information" he provides, without specifically endorsing his views.

It may well be that he is being fooled — "exploited," worries mother Carey Jones — or being foolish. But he isn't only being foolish, it seems to me.

Rather, he appears to be making a stab at becoming a better person and some version of a responsible adult. The story of worldly dissatisfaction and sudden spiritual revelation he relates on the video is not out of the ordinary. And his malaise, if not necessarily his response to it, seems typical enough for a 19-year-old — an age susceptible to outsized attacks of seriousness, elation, frustration, boredom and despair. It's not for nothing that Shakespeare made Hamlet a college student.

Jones is not the first 19-year-old, after all, to conclude that television is bad for you. Nor is he the first rich kid — his 2010 contract with "Two and a Half Men" guaranteed him $7.9 million over the next two seasons — not to be made happy by his riches. Nor is he the first actor to attack a vehicle, or the first performer to feel himself swayed toward a holier path: I give you the Rev. Al Green, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens and actress Debra Paget, who left Hollywood to become a nun. To the extent we look at such transitions as comical or sad, misguided or self-defeating or limiting, we only confirm the narrowness of our own ideas of what can constitute a Good Life.

"Filth" is a loaded word, admittedly. It is not like "smut" or "porn," which have become almost cute. It suggests contamination. But is it even controversial? As to the sitcom's actual content, let me simply refer back to my review of the first episode of Season 9, the dawn of the Ashton Kutcher era, which "hunted for laughs in herpes, chlamydia and vaginal warts" and gave Conchata Ferrell a line about "hosing the vomit off the occasional drug-addled hooker."

The number of viewers that will heed his call to rejection will be, I would guess, statistically close to zero. The ratings for the first episode after the news broke, an episode in which Jones' character, Jake, announces he's contracted an STD (title: "I Scream When I Pee") were as good as any this season, and I would guess that everyone is sleeping just fine over at Chuck Lorre Productions. Given their experience with Uncle Charlie Sheen, they may regard this as an opportunity, assuming the show is picked up for another season.

Times change, of course: One generation's cutting edge is a dull blade to the next. Pornography is now just another thing that lives on your Internet. But if we have long understood obscenity to be something relative, subject to the venue — sexual matters that can seem lazy or cynical on CBS' "2 Broke Girls" might feel perfectly fitting on HBO's all-but-explicit "Girls" — the fact is that broadcast television runs chockablock with sex nowadays. And there remain plenty of viewers for whom that makes it a minefield.

Jones also had the proximate example of former costar Sheen, a walking cautionary tale in the way that youthful celebrity can arrest development, if not necessarily success. Seeming to miss the point, the Rock Star from Mars has invited Jones on to his own, raunchier new series. And though Sheen pictured Jones as undergoing a "Hale-Bopp-like meltdown," nothing of that sort seems to be underway. Jones, for his part, quickly issued an apology to "all of the wonderful people" he'd worked with and for on the show and acknowledging their "support, guidance and love." To the extent that he has mentioned anyone by name, it is not, as Sheen did, to pick a fight.

It seems not unlikely that Jones may be nearing the end of his major-league acting career. He does not seem to have been particularly passionate about it, even before these recent developments, and history is in any case littered with former sitcom stars who never caught another break.

Still, I wish you well, Angus T. Jones. I would, however, recommend you take a sliver of your enormous salary and invest it in a first-class liberal arts education, to put that "information" you've been scraping off the Internet into better perspective. The end may be further off than you imagine, there is much to learn, and you are young yet.

post #83857 of 93671
Originally Posted by Nayan View Post

G4 to become The Esquire Channel

They picked the wrong magazine to partner with. The Maxim Channel, or the FHM Channel would have made more sense from where G4 was headed. They could have resurrected Bikini Destinations and Get Out.

Nobody who ever watched G4 will watch this channel.
post #83858 of 93671
Originally Posted by NetworkTV View Post

Originally Posted by domino92024 View Post

Under "What Information We Gather":
"Cable Television Services – New cable set top box tools allow tracking of tuner selections made through your box. We treat this information as anonymous and confidential and will not disclose it without your consent. We sometimes combine anonymous and aggregate tuner information with additional demographic information and may use or share it with others for programming, marketing, advertising and similar purposes"
No mention of what recordings are watched, or what commercials are skipped.
Here's the thing:

If it makes you feel better thinking your cable company doesn't know everything thing you do with your box and when you do it, then more power to you. However, your personal desire to believe that doesn't change anything.

In fact, your cable company prefers your thinking.

I have never said (or written) that the cable company didn't know, only that they couldn't - according to their privacy statement - pass on that knowledge to a 3rd party without my consent.
post #83859 of 93671
Originally Posted by tomhunter8 View Post

I dumped Last Man Standing because of the constant political junk. I also don't like the actress swap they pulled with the oldest daughter.

Same here
post #83860 of 93671
Originally Posted by SeattleAl View Post

They picked the wrong magazine to partner with. The Maxim Channel, or the FHM Channel would have made more sense from where G4 was headed. They could have resurrected Bikini Destinations and Get Out.
Nobody who ever watched G4 will watch this channel.

Just as folks watch Boo-Boo there's folks who will watch this. But I agree that Maxim or FHM would have been a better choice if you're going after a male audience.
post #83861 of 93671
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
(R - Oct. 1)
* * * *
11:35PM - Nightline (LIVE)
Midnight - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Ted Danson; Emilia Clarke; Larry Gee performs)

8PM - How I Met Your Mother
8:30PM - The Big Bang Theory
(R - Mar. 29)
9PM - 2 Broke Girls
9:30PM - 2 Broke Girls
10PM - Hawaii Five-0
* * * *
11:35PM - Late Show with David Letterman (Anne Hathaway; Jake Johnson; Top Ten List presented by the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner; the U.S. Marine Corps Band performs)
12:37AM - Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Kristen Stewart; author Sloane Crosley; ventriloquist Terry Fator performs)

8PM - The Voice (LIVE)
9PM - Take It All (Series Premiere)
10:01PM - Michael Bublé: Home for the Holidays (Special)
* * * *
11:35PM - The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (Matt Damon; Chris Pratt; Of Monsters and Men perform)
12:37AM - Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (Laura Linney; comic Dave Attell; Solange performs; Chuck Leavell performs with The Roots)
1:37AM - Last Call with Carson Daly ("The Voice" finalists Terry McDermott, Cassadee Pope, Trevin Hunte and Nicholas David; The Hives perform)

8PM - American Country Awards (120 min.)

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Antiques Roadshow: Orlando, Florida (R - Jan. 28, 2008)
9PM - Market Warriors
(R - Oct. 8)
10PM - Independent Lens: Garbage Dreams
(R - Apr. 27, 2010)

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 (Bishop Gene Robinson)
11:31PM - The Colbert Report (Diana Krall and Elvis Costello)

11PM - Conan (Seth MacFarlane; Retta; Jack White)

11PM - Chelsea Lately (Gerard Butler; Nico Santos; Arden Myrin; Mo Mandel)
post #83862 of 93671
Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Dec. 3, 2012

CBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

Robin (Cobie Smulders) can’t stop obsessing about ex-boyfriend Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) – and tonight, her obsession has her seeking out his revered “Playbook” and, at one point, sneaking into his apartment and hiding in the closet – just as in Blue Velvet.

NBC, 8:00 p.m. ET

This year’s competition is down to the Final Four. Not the ones pictured – that Final Four happens to be the judges, who, this year, already are down to the Top Two. Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine have no team members left standing in the Final Four, and their fellow judges have two apiece: Blake Shelton’s team has Terry McDermott and Cassadee Pope, and Cee Lo Green’s team is represented by Trevin Hunte and Nicholas David.

Flix, 8:00 p.m. ET
Part 1 of 10.
This 1983 miniseries was a major, major hit, and starred Richard Chamberlain as a priest who is drawn to one woman (Rachel Ward) while being supported by another (Barbara Stanwyck). The supporting cast in this multi-generation saga includes Jean Simmons, Piper Laurie, Christopher Plummer, Barry Corbin, and others. Rarely televised, so take a peek at the sort of genre romance epic that ruled television three decades or so ago.

HBO, 9:00 p.m. ET

Mel Brooks sits down with interviewer Alan Yentob, in front of a large and appreciative audience, to tell stories, show and respond to clips, and generally be effortlessly and endlessly entertaining. For an exclusive TV WORTH WATCHING interview with Mel Brooks about this wonderful new HBO special, see Bianculli’s Blog.

SyFy, 9:00 p.m. ET

Syfy devotes two hours of its prime-time schedule tonight to a celebration of its 20th anniversary – recalling the days when it was Sci Fi, not Syfy, and when the attention-getters on its network included Farscape and Mystery Science Theater 3000.

post #83863 of 93671
TV Notes
Mel Brooks strikes back!
By Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Dec. 9, 2012

The title of HBO's conversation with the comedy legend is "Mel Brooks Strikes Back!" (9 p.m. Monday). But Mr. Brooks, 86, thinks "I Remember" would better characterize the program but would be less likely to draw viewers.

"I'll watch that, he must be angry about something," Mr. Brooks said in a phone interview, taking on the guise of a would-be viewer seeing the title "Mel Brooks Strikes Back!" in TV listings.

He's not angry at all in the one-hour program but he does get a bit perturbed at the end when host Alan Yentob, creative director for the BBC, takes questions from the audience and one viewer asks, "Where does this potty humor come from?"

Mr. Brooks begins to answer the question but then veers into indignation.

"I am BrooksFilms as well as Mel Brooks," he says, pointing out his contributions to serious cinema as the producer of "The Elephant Man," "Frances" and "84 Charing Cross Road." "You're talking to a somewhat serious intellectual character here."

A year after the taping at the Geffen Theater in Westwood, Calif., the "potty mouth" question still smarts a bit.

"I got stung a little," Mr. Brooks said. "I need a little more respect than 'potty mouth humor.'"

But he acknowledged he's tried to keep his involvement with such classy dramas hush-hush.

"I'm afraid of the Pavlovian response," he said. "I didn't want people to know I produced 'Elephant Man' because I thought if my name is attached, people might think this movie ought to be funny. I was afraid of that response. I'm proud of them all but I don't push them because I don't need the plaudits. I don't need the awards. I'm just so glad they exist."

He added "The Doctor and the Devils," a little-seen 1985 film, to his list of movies most people don't know he had a hand in.

"One day we can do a [DVD] boxed set of BrooksFilms releases for devotees of really good movies," he said, noting he might be ready for such a release after he's honored with an American Film Institute lifetime achievement award next summer. "Once I get that award, then I'm allowed to do a BrooksFilms set. Until then, I'm just a Jewish comedian from the Borscht Belt."

Ah, but he's a comedian and filmmaker with a tremendous string of pop culture hits, which he discusses in "Mel Brooks Strikes Back!" The remembrances begin with Brooks' mother, who immigrated to America from Kiev at age 3, and continue to chronicle the comedian's success on "Your Show of Shows," with Carl Reiner in the "2000 Year Old Man," when he met Cary Grant and behind-the-scenes tales from "The Producers" and "Blazing Saddles."

Programs dedicated to comedians and what makes them tick have become a cottage industry in recent years. Mr. Brooks himself appeared on an episode of Showtime's "Inside Comedy" and in 2011 he was featured in HBO's "Mel Brooks and Dick Cavett Together Again."

"People are really interested in what makes comedy work. Why comedy? How comedy?" Mr. Brooks said. "This one is really a little more memory, a little more looking back on my life as a child, a little more Proustian than the back and forth high level ping pong I did with Dick Cavett."

"Mel Brooks Strikes Back!" isn't Mr. Brooks' only new release. Last month Shout! Factory released a DVD and book set, "The Incredible Mel Brooks: An Irresistible Collection of Unhinged Comedy" ($89.93), that includes essays, clips from Mr. Brooks' films and rare archival TV footage.

Success in TV has eluded Mr. Brooks on some level. "The Incredible Mel Brooks" includes a failed 1963 pilot, "Inside Danny Baker." He'd go on to have success with "Get Smart," which he created with Buck Henry, but the 1970s-era "When Things Were Rotten" and 1990s-era "The Nutt House," flopped. Mr. Brooks may have been ahead of his time: He noted all his TV series were shot single-camera style, which was used sporadically until recently; now it's the predominant form for half-hour comedies.

But there's also something to Mr. Brooks' comedy that requires the live audience found in movie theaters.

"In 'When Things Were Rotten,' the humor was far out and it worked on a big screen with communal laughter but it didn't work for two or three people watching on a TV set because it was a costume piece and it was crazy and satirized a classic tale," Mr. Brooks said. "It needed a big audience."

(An episode of "When Things Were Rotten" is included in "The Incredible Mel Brooks," and Mr. Brooks said CBS will release a DVD box set of the series in the future.)

Mr. Brooks is not done yet. He gets letters to this day asking if he'll ever make "History of the World Part 2," but he has no plans. (The title was a joke playing off all the movies with "part" in their titles.)

His "Dracula: Dead and Loving It" co-writers, Rudy De Luca and Steve Haberman, have a script for a horror film called "Pizza Man," that he hopes to produce if the film can find a distributor and line up funding. And he continues to consider making a Broadway musical out of his beloved film comedy "Blazing Saddles."

"It's a natural musical with Lili Von Shtupp [singing 'I'm Tired'] in the opening number. And there's another little bit with 'The French Mistake.' That's only eight bars but I could do a big 64-bar number of that one and really make it a fantastic number," Mr. Brooks said. "I may be short, but I'm always thinking."

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Breaking News
R.I.P. Jenni Rivera
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com - Dec. 9, 2012

Latin singing and TV star Jenni Rivera died early today in a plane crash in Northern Mexico, Univision and AP confirmed. Univision, which has covered Rivera’s tragic death since the story broke, pre-empted its primetime lineup tonight to air Rivera-themed programming. Aqui y Ahora at 8 PM featured a segment about the crash, followed by a Jenni Rivera Special and a special edition of entertainment news show Sal y Pimienta entirely dedicated to Rivera.

Cable TV network mun2, which airs a docu reality series that starred Rivera, and Telemundo Media issued a statement that said “Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Rivera family and the families of her team, as we await details”. In honor of Rivera, Telemundo broadcast a two-hour primetime special at 7 p.m. EST, coast to coast, and mun2 will re-broadcast it at 9 p.m. EST. Mun2 aired two previously produced I Love Jenni specials at 11 p.m. EST and midnight EST.

Mexico’s secretary of communications and transport Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said authorities found scattered remains of the aircraft in which Rivera and six others were traveling after the plane was reported missing this morning. Esparsa said “all indications” point to this being the plane. There are no survivors, officials said, and the level of destruction is making it difficult to collect physical evidence. The U.S.-registered Learjet 25 went missing about 62 miles from Monterrey after taking off at 3:15 a.m. local time, Reuters reported. The singer was headed for the city of Toluca in central Mexico after a concert in Monterrey on Saturday night. In addition to Rivera, two pilots and four other passengers were aboard.

Long Beach native Rivera, 43, who has sold over 20 million albums worldwide, was the star of the mun2 docu-reality series I Love Jenni, which has been filming its third season. The news comes days after Rivera, a mother of five, closed a deal to topline her own sitcom for ABC, Jenni. The network put in development the multi-camera family comedy from leading Broadway producer Robert L. Boyett — marking his return to television, where he was one of the top comedy series producers in the 1980s and 1990s — and Robert Horn (Designing Women). Boyett and Horn were writing the project, which was to star Rivera as a strong, middle-class, single Latina woman working to raise a family using unique parenting skills, while struggling to run a family business and navigate her extended, co-dependent relatives.

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TV Notes
Bravo revives 'Death Becomes Her'
Cabler, Zemeckis to adapt 1992 Universal film
By AJ Marechal, Variety - Dec. 7, 2012

Bravo is breathing life into "Death Becomes Her."

Twenty years after the theatrical debut of the film, Bravo and the pic's helmer, Robert Zemeckis, have begun eyeing a smallscreen adaptation.

Zemeckis is on board to exec produce the hourlong drama project along with Jack Rapke and Jackie Levine, though a writer has yet to be tapped.

The TV version of "Death Becomes Her" will be produced by Universal Cable Prods. and Lupara Prods.

Universal released the film in 1992 and, by airing on Bravo, the cable adaptation will remain in the NBCUniversal family.

"Death Becomes Her" centers on two rival women who both attain eternal youth. Pic, starring Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis, earned $58 million Stateside and $149 million globally.

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TV Sports
CBS goes cable for post-Super Bowl coverage
By Michael Hiestand, USA Today - Dec. 10, 2012

CBS will call a long-overdue option play on its upcoming Super Bowl coverage: Give its viewers a chance to stay at the stadium.

The network Monday will announce that after its usual post-game TV coverage, including the trophy presentation, it will direct viewers to its CBS Sports Network cable channel for a show scheduled to last at least an hour.

Or longer, suggests CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus: "Maybe it will last until Monday evening. What better programming is there?"

None. Consider that NBC's Super Bowl last season drew 47% of U.S. households -- compared to 47.6% for college football's five BCS bowl games combined -- and its 111.3 million total viewers made it the most watched program in U.S. TV history.

For CBSSN, only in roughly 50 million of the USA's 116 million households, to draw even a small fraction of a Super Bowl audience for a cable post-game show would be a huge hit for a channel that still isn't measured for national TV ratings.

A Super Bowl post-game show from the network that carries the game makes perfect sense. There's certainly more to talk about then there is in the endless pregame Super Bowl shows that chew over issues that have been chewed over for days. And any network that just carried a Super Bowl obviously has all its game analysts, reporters and replays ready to keep rolling.

But networks haven't taken advantage of that. NBC, for example, had just relaunched its Versus cable channel as the NBC Sports Network before last season's Super Bowl -- but NBCSN carried rugby after NBC left its Super Bowl post-game to air The Voice.

That's because NBC followed the ancient Super Bowl TV game plan: Don't do anything that might make viewers even think of doing something after the Super Bowl other than watching the entertainment show hyped relentlessly during the game.

On this season's Super Bowl, CBS will (no doubt incessantly) remind you to stay tuned for its Elementary detective series. Telling viewers they can stay in the locker rooms over on CBSSN could start some living room arguments.

Viewers have long had the option of staying at stadiums with Super Bowl post-game shows on ESPN, which often surrounds events airing on broadcast networks with its own chatter.

But CBSSN and NBCSN are getting more aggressive about tying cable TV programming to the events airing on their broadcast network forebears. CBSSN, for instance, will have 50 hours from New Orleans -- the channel didn't air anything on-site when CBS carried the Super Bowl three years ago.

Fox is expected to become the next broadcast network to get a general sports cable TV outlet when it next year converts its Speed channel into an all-sports channel. And Fox has next season's Super Bowl.

For CBS to even suggest to viewers that they might want to skip Elementary means the networks are finally serious about challenging ESPN when it comes to the on-air yak around big events.

"This has received a lot of support internally," says CBS Sports executive vice president David Berson, an ex-ESPN programmer. "CBSSN is an increasing priority for us."

New deal: NBC Sports and Yahoo Sports said that, while they will continue to maintain separate websites and news operations, they will collaborate on sports coverage on-air and online.

This is just the latest deal between Yahoo and NBC. In June, Yahoo and NBC business channel CNBC announced a similar deal to share content.

The new sports joint venture will include having video content appear on both websites and having Yahoo become the exclusive game provider of NBC Sports' Rotoworld information site.

Mark Lazarus, chairman of the NBC Sports Group, said in a statement that "through our growing television and digital platforms, the Yahoo Sports partnership ... expands the digital reach of NBC Sports."

Out of bounds: With hundreds of people missing in the Philippines in the wake of of Typhoon Bopha, HBO's Jim Lampley didn't need to make this analogy after Juan Manuel Marquez knocked out Manny Pacquiao on Saturday night -- "The tsunami that hit the Philippines was just replicated by Marquez."

In a statement to USA TODAY Sports on Sunday, Lampley said his comment "was in no way intended to belittle or dismiss the grave severity of the typhoon's effects." But "to anyone who was discomfited by the metaphorical comparison I offer my sincere and heartfelt apology."

Lampley also says that "we all know the difference between a boxing match and an event of cataclysmic human suffering." Yes, we all do. So why compare them?

Lesson learned: After not opening with coverage of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Javon Belcher killing his girlfriend and then himself last Sunday, CBS' NFL studio show went straight to the big story this Sunday -- Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Josh Brent facing intoxication manslaughter charges after his car crash killed passenger Jerry Brown, a teammate on the practice squad.

CBS' tone, unlike last week, was appropriately somber. Host James Brown even did some catching up on the Belcher situation: "Right now, three women per day on average are being killed by their husbands or boyfriends."

But unlike the talk of Belcher in NFL TV studios last week -- in which the situation was commonly referred to as "a tragedy" -- the talk Sunday about Brent was more judgmental. CBS' Shannon Sharpe called Brent's behavior "careless and reckless." Fox's Jay Glazer and CBS' Boomer Esiason noted it's also completely avoidable, given the NFL players' union provides players with a number to call for cars if they shouldn't drive.

ESPN's Cris Carter was candid about his own past in saying that "in the NFL, they go to the max as far as the amount of money they spend on the substance abuse program. I know this personally. I was involved in the program for my whole career. ... There are no excuses." Carter suggests there's something else the NFL can do: "The only thing the modern-day athlete understands -- take them off the field."

CBS' Bill Cowher agrees. He says there has to be an "automatic two-game suspension on the first DUI" because that's "the only way you'll get the message through."

Interesting that this weekend the tone from TV talking heads about NFL players who break the law finally became tougher.

The biz: Fox's UFC 5 mixed-martial arts Saturday night drew a 2.8 overnight rating, translating to 2.8% of households in the 56 markets measured for overnights. That's up 65% from Fox's fourth UFC event. But, as the network is in its first year carrying UFC action, it's down 20% from its first UFC event. ... The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the union representing freelance TV technical staffers who work on Pac-12 Networks games, began a strike Saturday. The union objects to the conference also using non-union labor, which it says gets lower wages, on game broadcasts. Pac-12 Networks, in a statement, says "we respect an individual's right to decide whether to be represented by a union." ... CBS' Army-Navy game Saturday drew a 4.1 overnight, up 2% from last year.

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Tech/Business Notes
Why Breaking Up H.P. Makes Sense
By Rob Cox and Robert Cyran, The New York Times' 'Dealbook' Blog

David Packard and William Hewlett may be Silicon Valley’s answer to Romulus and Remus in Rome’s founding story, but the era of their brainchild, Hewlett-Packard, as an everything-to-everyone conglomerate is coming to an end. Its chief executive, Meg Whitman, and its board, not to mention investors, won’t stick around for an arduous and risky five-year turnaround project. Breaking the company into good bits and selling bad ones must be on the agenda for 2013.

The company famously founded in a Palo Alto garage in 1939 is in a barely controlled descent. Its personal computer division is shrinking at a double-digit annual rate, and sales from its supposedly steady information technology services, enterprise hardware and printing operations are also in decline. Turning around one failing division would be hard enough – just look at Michael Dell’s struggle at his eponymous firm. H.P.’s management has the unenviable task of fighting several multi-alarm fires simultaneously.

Accomplishing such a feat is rare in the tech world. I.B.M. did it under Lou Gerstner in less trying times by jettisoning hardware lines and bulking up in the more easily defended and higher-margin software business. There’s little reason to believe investors have the patience and trust in H.P.’s management team to allow a similar attempt, especially after the latest debacle, an $8.8 billion write-down of the Autonomy software business.

Having lost her run to become California’s governor, Ms. Whitman took one for the Valley by volunteering to lead H.P. after the board forced out her predecessor, Leo Apotheker. But the scale of the company’s problems and the work required to fix them weren’t fully apparent at the time. Ralph Whitworth, a board member and activist investor, who successfully pushed for breakups at I.T.T. and L-3 Communications, is prohibited by a standstill agreement from starting a proxy fight to splinter HP. But nothing precludes him from trying to persuade the board to take that step.

Naturally enough, the company says splitting itself into pieces would be a mistake. H.P. argues that it is cheaper to buy parts in bulk, that customers often prefer to deal with one supplier, and that its tarnished brand still has value. But with the stock valued at less than four times estimated earnings for 2013, any benefit from these largely theoretical synergies have been fully eclipsed in the eyes of investors by the cons of a bloated bureaucracy, managerial confusion and research-and-development inefficiency.

So much so, that breaking up the firm looks like a financial no-brainer.

H.P.’s market capitalization is about $27 billion. That’s scarcely more than half the price its parts would fetch as standalone entities. At least that is the conclusion from a new Breakingviews calculator that compares revenue multiples at each of its divisions with similar publicly traded companies.

This isn’t a precise valuation method, but it’s a way to assess the worth of troubled businesses since profitability can be swamped by inefficiencies or flattered by aggressive accounting.

Start with the company’s personal computing division, which had about $36 billion of revenue in the most recently reported 12 months. Rival Dell is valued at 24 percent of sales on the same basis. By that measure, the P.C. unit would be worth about $9 billion. The cash-generative printing division had about $25 billion of sales. At the same multiple of that as competitor Lexmark that business could also be worth about $9 billion. H.P.’s enterprise servers and storage business would fetch about $22 billion based on the value of peer NetApp.

The company’s services arm, including the Electronic Data Systems unit that HP bought for $13.9 billion in 2008 before writing off most of its worth, may bring in some $17 billion if valued similarly to Computer Sciences. Finally, the software division, with a top line of about $4 billion, would be worth roughly $11 billion using the average multiple attached to similar enterprise software groups analyzed by JPMorgan Chase.

Add up all the pieces and net out H.P.’s $16.4 billion of net debt, and shareholders would potentially be left with assets worth more than $50 billion, or just under $26 a share – 85 percent more than the company’s current share price.

This is a back-of-the-envelope calculation. The rapid deterioration in H.P.’s operations, structural shifts in technology and the possibility of further accounting gaffes could mean some of the company’s assets are worth a lot less. Equally, there could be buyers for pieces of the business, including competitors like Oracle or private equity firms, which might pay premiums for some units. Either way, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that HP would be worth more dismembered than whole. The company’s board surely knows that too.

Rob Cox is United States editor of Reuters Breakingviews; Robert Cyran is a columnist.

post #83868 of 93671

Is it just me or is that really weird usage?
post #83869 of 93671
The N.Y.T. has a weird way of handling acronyms, but more annoying is that they are not consistent with it. And yeah, it's dumb to put periods in them.
post #83870 of 93671
I bet their favorite 90s song was "O.P.P." by naughty by nature.

As expected:
SNF 12/23 49ers/seahawks flexed in -- chargers/jets moves to 1:00 & giants/ravens (which fox protected) moves to 4:25....cbs had protected bengals/steelers.
Edited by dcowboy7 - 12/10/12 at 10:34am
post #83871 of 93671
TV Notes
'The Colbert Report' Names New Co-EP, Head Writer
By Tim Kenneally, TheWrap.com - Nov. 10, 2012

"The Colbert Report" has promoted former supervising producer and head writer Barry Julien to co-executive producer, series host, writer and executive producer Stephen Colbert said Monday. In addition to Jullien's promotion, Opus Moreschi, previously a writer for the series, has been moved up to head writer on the Comedy Central news-show spoof.

Julien joined "The Colbert Report" as a writer in 2007, moving to head writer in 2009 and picking up the supervising producer title last year. Moreschi came aboard the show in 2008.

"Barry Julien and Opus Moreschi are tireless, visionary producers and incredibly talented writers," Colbert said of the promotions. "For instance they wrote this sentence."

Both Julien and Moreschi have won Writers Guild Awards and Emmy Awards during their "Colbert Report" stints.

post #83872 of 93671
SUNDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insight's Blog
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Nielsen Overnights (18-49)
‘Sunday Night Football’ scores big again
NBC has won every Sunday this fall, including last night
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - Dec. 10, 2012

NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” continued to dominate Sunday night with another record-setting performance last night.

The game between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions averaged a 13.5 household rating from 8:30-11:30 p.m., according to Nielsen metered-market ratings.

That was the 10th “SNF” game this season to average at least a 13.5 rating, a new record for the franchise.

NBC has aired 14 games this season, and it has won every Sunday this fall with football.

Meanwhile, Fox had the night’s top non-sports show, “The Simpsons,” which drew a 3.4 at 8 p.m. thanks to a big lead-in from the NFL and “The OT.”

The season finale of “The Amazing Race” was down sharply from last fall, when it enjoyed the benefit of an NFL game on CBS earlier in the night.

Last night’s two-hour season ender from 8 to 10 p.m. drew a 2.6 in 18-49s, according to Nielsen overnights, down 21 percent from last fall’s 3.3 for a one-hour finale.

It was also down slightly from a 2.7 last spring, when the finale was also two hours.

Also last night, ABC’s “Christmas with Holly” scored the best numbers for the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie franchise since it moved to the network last year, though it was still a relatively low number.

The movie averaged a 1.8 from 9 to 11 p.m., peaking with a 2.0 at 10 p.m.

NBC led the night among 18-49s with a 5.7 average overnight rating and a 14 share. Fox was second at 3.5/9, CBS third at 2.2/5, ABC fourth at 1.6/4, Univision fifth at 1.4/3 and Telemundo sixth at 0.8/2.

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

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

At 7 p.m. Fox was first with a 5.2 for NFL overrun and "The OT," followed by NBC with a 2.8 for "Football Night in America." CBS was third with a 1.9 for "60 Minutes," ABC fourth with a 1.4 for "America's Funniest Home Videos," Univision fifth with a 1.1 for "Aqui y Ahora" and Telemundo sixth with a 1.0 for the first hour of the movie "Rescue Dawn."

NBC took the lead at 8 p.m. with a 6.2 for football pregame and the start of "Sunday Night Football," while Fox slipped to second with a 2.8 for "The Simpsons" (3.4) and "Bob's Burgers" (2.1). CBS was third with a 2.6 for "Race," ABC fourth with a 1.4 for a pair of "Prep & Landing" special repeats, Univision fifth with a 1.2 for "Rosa de Guadalupe" and Telemundo sixth with a 0.9 for the conclusion of its movie.

At 9 p.m. NBC was first with a 6.7 for football, with CBS second with a 2.6 for more "Race." Fox was third with a 2.5 for "Family Guy" (2.8) and "American Dad" (2.2), ABC fourth with a 1.7 for "Christmas with Holly," Univision fifth with a 1.5 for "Feliz Navidad con Los Nuestros, Tony Bennett y Sus Amigos" and Telemundo sixth with a 0.8 for the first hour of the movie "Babylon A.D."

NBC led again at 10 p.m. with a 7.0 for football, followed by ABC with a 1.9 for "Christmas with Holly." CBS and Univision tied for third at 1.6, CBS for "The Mentalist" and Univision for "Sal y Pimienta," and Telemundo was fifth with a 0.6 for the end of its movie.

Among households, NBC was first for the night with a 9.6 average overnight rating and a 15 share. CBS was second at 6.0/9, Fox third at 5.2/8, ABC fourth at 4.1/6, Univision fifth at 1.7/3 and Telemundo sixth at 1.0/2.

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TV Sports
NHL Cancels Another 104 Hockey Games Through December 30
By Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter - Dec. 10, 2012

TORONTO – The National Hockey League on Monday canceled another 104 regular-season games through December 30 as the players lockout continues.

The latest round of game cancelations means the league has wiped out 526 games, or 42.8 percent of the 2012-13 season.

The move also heralds continuing disruption for North American broadcasters, including NBC Sports and the CBC, Sportsnet and TSN in Canada, which depend on live TV hockey games to drive their schedules and ad revenues.

"Trying to set up something for this week, but nothing finalized yet," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told NHL.com on Monday.

The NHL and the NHL Players Association have not met to negotiate a new collective agreement since three days of talks last week ended on Thursday.

The league insists the talks broke off due to an “impasse,” even as press reports last week indicated progress has been made and that the outlines of a new deal are close at hand.

Resuming NHL play at the earliest on New Year’s Eve would mean the league could offer fans in arenas and at home at most a shortened 48-game season this year.

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TV/Washington Notes
TV commercials to pump down volume
By Maria Sciullo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Dec. 9, 2012

Television is about to get a bit quieter.

Beginning Thursday, television stations and cable providers are required to keep the volume of commercials at a level consistent with programming. No more blaring car ads or holiday shopping spots, unless providers want to incur the wrath of the Federal Communications Commission.

"Loud television commercials that make consumers run for the mute button or change the channel altogether will be a thing of the past," said U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., who sponsored the initial bill in the House.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., was a co-sponsor of the act. He told industry publication Broadcasting & Cable, "It's about time we turned down the volume on loud commercials that startle TV watchers into paying attention."

The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM, was passed in the House and Senate more than a year ago, but providers were given a grace period to update their equipment. Even so, some smaller or cash-strapped stations were allowed to petition for extensions.

Television stations will be responsible for monitoring the volume of national network and syndicated spots, as well as local ads. Cable operators also are responsible for monitoring the volume of local and national commercials.

"We already had the majority of the equipment that was required to comply with the CALM Act and have been keeping our audio levels consistent," said Ray Carter, WPXI vice president and general manager.

"One of the requirements of the Act is to be able to log audio levels to prove compliance. As this requirement did not exist previously, most stations were required to purchase additional equipment to comply with that aspect of the rules."

The cost, which he estimated in the "thousands of dollars, but not in the tens of thousands of dollars," was "reasonable money spent for a reasonable effort." The upgrades allow stations to log audio levels, proving compliance.

Ms. Eshoo described "commercials blasting away at me at home" as a personal irritation, as well as one to her constituents. They are not alone; television stations have received complaints.

Over the years, "viewers have occasionally contacted us to express concern about commercial loudness, usually related to a specific commercial," said KDKA-TV general manager Chris Pike.

CALM gives stations and providers a bit of leeway in handling complaints. According to the new standards, one phone call or email isn't enough to warrant an investigation, although patterns of them will demand review.

Failure to meet these new modulation standards could result in fines.

The FCC is soliciting viewer auditing during the transition. To report loud commercials, call 1-888-225-5322 with information such as time and date of the commercial, description of the ad, plus station or network

Information also can be mailed to Federal Communications Commission, Consumer & Government Complaints Division, 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20554.

As a video provider, Comcast must comply with the changes. It also has an advertising arm, Comcast Spotlight, that produces local advertising inserts.

The company, said spokesman Bob Grove, "has worked diligently over the past few years to ensure that all of the advertisements that are inserted into Comcast programming are compliant with industry standards.

"Comcast also has been coordinating with our programming partners for well over a year on the technical and operational methods to assure compliance with all other advertisements."

It's difficult to argue against CALM, although there has been some online grumbling about the government controlling yet another aspect of everyday life.

People who make commercials are applauding the change.

"As much as I'm into advertising and that's what I live for, I think the CALM Act is a viable, fair one," said Melanie Querry, president of Pittsburgh-based ad agency Beyond Spots & Dots.

"[But] I think some advertisers won't be happy with it because they believe louder commercials mean stronger viewership on TV."

Robert Schapiro, executive creative director at Pittsburgh's Brunner ad agency, said he's baffled as to why the volume was boosted in the first place.

"I tune out messages that scream at me. In fact, the absence of noise causes me to look up [at the screen]. ... I'm sorry that it took an act of Congress to [make the change] but I'm happy it passed."

Mr. Schapiro said the key to making successful commercials is to understand they are intrusions. The viewer should be rewarded with information about the client, presented in a fresh and engaging way, "so when the commercial is over, they like the company I'm representing and they remember them.

"I'd rather be there with a fresh, provocative message, not a loud one."

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TV Notes
Jon Stewart almost quit Daily Show over “ass****” coworkers
By Sharilyn Johnson, Third Beat Magazine - Dec. 10, 2012

Late night satire’s biggest secrets were revealed live on stage in Montclair, NJ Friday night as Stephen Colbert interviewed Jon Stewart at the Wellmont Theatre, a fundraiser for the Montclair Film Festival.

While the two have discussed their work onstage together before, this was their first lengthy public one-on-one. And despite their 14-year professional relationship, each brought forth stories that surprised both each other and the sold-out audience.

It’s widely known that Stewart executed a shift in the Daily Show’s voice when he took over from Craig Kilborn in 1999, changing from a local news magazine format to the issue-driven satire it is today. But that change almost didn’t happen, and Stewart almost backed out of the gig altogether.

“What I did not realize is, a lot of the people who worked there were *******s,” Stewart recalled.

“I had, before taking [the job], some conversations with the powers that be there about the direction I thought we could move the show…. I wanted it to be satirical in the classic sense of the word, not the Spy magazine sense of the word where you just add adjectives like ‘pepperpot’,” he said.

When said when he met with the writing staff the month prior to taking over the show, he “got the impression that that had been discussed,” and he was met with strong resistance.

“I walk in the door, into a room with the writers and producers, and the first thing they say is ‘this isn’t some MTV ********’…. And then I was told not to change the jokes or improvise,” he said.

He immediately phoned his agent, James Dixon, telling him to “get me the **** out of this. These people are insane.”

“How close were you to saying that was it, you weren’t going to do it anymore?,” Colbert asked.

“I had to be talked down from a moderately high cliff,” Stewart said.

According to Stewart, it took about two and a half years for the “natural winnowing process” to leave him with a fully supportive staff.

Another notable insight related to Salman Rushdie’s criticism of Stewart for including Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) in the Rally to Restore Sanity festivities in 2010. The bit featured Stewart, Colbert, Yusuf, Ozzy Osborne, and The O’Jays engaging in a battle of train-themed songs.

In 1989, Yusuf publicly condoned the fatwa against Rushdie after the publication of his book The Satanic Verses. After the Rally, Rushdie told Standpoint Magazine that “I spoke to Jon Stewart about Yusuf Islam’s appearance. He said he was sorry it upset me, but really, it was plain that he was fine with it. Depressing.”

On Friday night, Stewart relayed the exchange from his perspective. He said he did receive a phone call from Rushdie after the Rally, expressing his disappointment that they used a performer “who wanted to kill me.”

Stewart said that he didn’t know about Yusuf’s comments at the time.

“So I’m like, I’m sure he doesn’t believe that people should be put to death for apostasy,” Stewart recalled. “I said, ‘look, I’m sorry you’re upset, but I’m sure the guy isn’t really like that. Let me talk to him.”

Stewart called Yusuf, who characterized backing the fatwa as a “misunderstanding”, but immediately tempered that with “although why do you have to insult the Prophet?”

“We get into a whole conversation, and it becomes very clear to me that he is straddling two worlds in a very difficult way. And that he actually still – and it broke my heart a little bit. I wish I had known that. I wouldn’t have done [the bit], I don’t think. If I had known that, I wouldn’t have done it. Because that to me is a deal breaker. Death for free speech is a deal breaker,” Stewart said.

Colbert added that at the time, Yusuf was scheduled to be a guest on upcoming episodes of both the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. Those appearances didn’t happen.

Other tidbits:

■Stewart and Colbert’s first meeting was at the press conference announcing Stewart as the new host of the Daily Show, where Colbert was already a correspondent. (Watch them tell that story on a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live.) The same night, Stewart had his first book release party for Naked Pictures of Famous People. Colbert picked up a copy, and Stewart signed it ‘To Stephen, please don’t hurt me, Jon Stewart’. “It’s on my shelf to this day,” Colbert said.

■In a 2001 episode of the Daily Show, Colbert took on the role of Al Sharpton when the real Sharpton was a no-show for his scheduled interview. Colbert – a massive Lord of the Rings fan – had scored a pass for that night’s New York premiere of The The Fellowship of the Ring Fellowship of the Ring. He was on his way out (“my hand is literally on the door”) when he was called to the studio over the PA system. The instruction was simply, “Sharpton didn’t show up. Be Sharpton,” he said. Colbert assured the Wellmont audience that he was happy to stay behind and accept the task. “It was so fun,” he said.

■During the audience question and answer portion, a man who had been in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 thanked Jon for the speech he made when the Daily Show returned and said how helpful it had been in his healing process. Stewart was gracious, but said “I don’t think I’ll ever in my life be able to watch that again,” admitting that he gets choked up just thinking about it.

■Another audience member asked the duo for marriage advice. Colbert told a story about how he used to sleepwalk (which was news to Stewart). Two weeks into his marriage to his wife, Evie, he had a dream that she had a tracheotomy hole in her neck, and little blue ghosts kept floating in and out of it. He decided he needed to stop this, so he placed one hand over the hole. The ghosts kept getting through his fingers, so he used both hands. Evie woke up to her new husband with both hands in strangling position around her neck. She responded with a calm but terse “What… are you doing?” He replied earnestly, “I’m keeping the ghosts in.”

■Also early in his marriage, Colbert made the conscious decision to no longer accept any unpaid acting jobs. This reached a stressful pinnacle when he forced himself to turn down a role that offered only the possibility of payment, with Chicago’s acclaimed Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Evie arrived home at the end of the day to find Stephen pacing in circles around the living room sofa, having a bit of a breakdown. She asked him how his day was, and he replied mid-circle, “you’re lookin’ at it!”

■Stewart’s least favourite guest of all time is Hugh Grant, “and we’ve had dictators on the show”. Grant spent his time at the studio complaining that he had other places to be. “He’s giving everyone **** the whole time, and he’s a big pain in the ass,” Stewart recalled. Grant also complained to the staff about the clip that was selected of the movie he was promoting, Did You Hear About the Morgans? – a clip that was obviously supplied by the film’s publicist. Stewart recalls Grant angrily asking “What is that clip? It’s a terrible clip.” “Well, then make a better ****ing movie,” Stewart said, adding that he would “never” have Grant back.

■Colbert said that to him, “the show” isn’t the performance in front of his audience. The “show” is really what he does all day with his staff. “There’s the joy in doing this hard thing,” he explained. “That hard work together IS the show…. I then have the responsibility and pleasure of SHARING what that joy was [with the audience].”

■On deciding to pursue comedy, Stewart said “I finally found the plug for my socket. My brain always felt like the rhythm of it didn’t make sense to me in general work situations and school situations in conversation. But comedy, it was like oh, that’s what this thing is for,” comparing it to “The Shot” in A Prayer for Owen Meany.

■In discussing how people want to ascribe importance to their work, Colbert said “it doesn’t mean it’s not important. Because laughing is vital, it’s like oxygen as far as I’m concerned.”

■And finally, the bromance quote of the night, courtesy of Stewart: “I know Stephen lives here [in Montclair], so he’s being very languid, but I want you all to know… This is the most vulgar, profane, dirty, sick individual I have ever had the pleasure of laughing my ass off with.”

post #83877 of 93671
Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

TV/Washington Notes
TV commercials to pump down volume
By Maria Sciullo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Dec. 9, 2012

Television is about to get a bit quieter.

Beginning Thursday, television stations and cable providers are required to keep the volume of commercials at a level consistent with programming. No more blaring car ads or holiday shopping spots, unless providers want to incur the wrath of the Federal Communications Commission.

"Loud television commercials that make consumers run for the mute button or change the channel altogether will be a thing of the past," said U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., who sponsored the initial bill in the House.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., was a co-sponsor of the act. He told industry publication Broadcasting & Cable, "It's about time we turned down the volume on loud commercials that startle TV watchers into paying attention."

The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM, was passed in the House and Senate more than a year ago, but providers were given a grace period to update their equipment. Even so, some smaller or cash-strapped stations were allowed to petition for extensions.

Television stations will be responsible for monitoring the volume of national network and syndicated spots, as well as local ads. Cable operators also are responsible for monitoring the volume of local and national commercials.


It's difficult to argue against CALM, although there has been some online grumbling about the government controlling yet another aspect of everyday life.

People who make commercials are applauding the change.

That is an interesting statement considering the ad agencies and production houses are one of the reasons the CALM Act was enacted.

This whole issue is really a tempest in a tea pot and has many, many issues that just are not addressed in the legislation.

First, Congress is trying to legislate a totally subjective thing. If the government can't decide what obscenity is for broadcasting (that is highly subjective), why do they think they can decide what is too loud? I can create a audio track that meets the letter of the law and it will sound louder than anything on the station. FAIL

Secondly, the FCC has used the ATSC A/85 protocol for this loudness law. The problem is A/85 was never intended to be a loudness law. It was intended to make full use of the dynamic range of the digital audio signal. In the last 24 months, ATSC has had to go back and add a loudness component to A/85 to bring it into compliance with the law.

Thirdly, the crux of A/85 was to use little to NO processing of the audio signal, but to use an averaging algorithm over a time frame (or several time frames depending on the circumstances) using dialog as the standard, not music or sound effects, etc to maintain the "artistic" integrity intended by the producer of the piece.

Fourthly, most station engineers do not understand setting up audio. Most set the processors to the recommended settings and never touch it again. Recommended settings are starting points, not end points, but again, most station engineers know video, but have no idea what to look for in their audio streams so the processors are never tuned for best audio. Having started my engineering career in radio, I cringe when I hear bad TV audio, and there is a lot of it out there. That is where this whole loudness problem comes from.

And fifthly, CALM Act is only intended for commercials, not programming.

So there are now several ways to "process" audio. One way is to "pre-level" all material to A/85 -24 dB standard and use no processing on air at all. Another way is to make sure the material is very close to the -24 db standard of A/85 and use a sliding window (for lack of a better term) algorithm that only reacts when the level goes out of the window. For those live events that are unpredictable, active leveling to -24 is recommended, but not required.

There are several ways for a station to monitor to be sure stations are within the +/-2db of -24 db, AT ALL TIMES, can be a 24/7 monitoring system like a Volicon recorder or do random spot checks using a loudness meter calibrated to -24 db and log same. If a station gets a complaint, the FCC can ask for a spot check of the station for a 24 hour period. Stations are also required to perform a 24/7 monitoring once a year to ensure they were within the -24 db window for that 24 hour time period.

The whole thing is quite ridiculous. Congress is trying to herd fleas.
Edited by foxeng - 12/10/12 at 6:04pm
post #83878 of 93671
I'd like to see Congress amend the "V-Chip" Law amended so that it INCLUDES COMMERCIALS. That way parents could block Ads they don't want their children to see.
post #83879 of 93671
Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

Nielsen Overnights (18-49)
‘Sunday Night Football’ scores big again
NBC has won every Sunday this fall, including last night
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - Dec. 10, 2012
NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” continued to dominate Sunday night with another record-setting performance last night.

SNF was the #1 tv show last season & should be #1 again this season too & you have to figure at least for the foreseeable future there doesnt seem to be a show that will unseat it.

oh forgot to add that over the weekend someone said they saw that walking dead was the #1 tv show & i said no it isnt SNF is & they said "what ?"
what a ditz.
Edited by dcowboy7 - 12/10/12 at 6:54pm
post #83880 of 93671
Originally Posted by borntocoast View Post

I'd like to see Congress amend the "V-Chip" Law amended so that it INCLUDES COMMERCIALS. That way parents could block Ads they don't want their children to see.

There is another post in the topic about bleeping which points out that commercials are the very reason V-chips are underutilised. Advertisers hate the idea that a content-blocking scheme could prevent people from seeing their commercials, and since advertisers are the networks' customers, the whole idea of being able to filter out objectionable program content has fallen by the wayside in the name of preserving the broadest advertising base possible. Networks would be committing financial suicide by allowing viewers to automatically block commercials based on a rating system, so it will never happen.
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